Ficlet: “Pyre”

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This piece was originally intended to be the prologue of a longer story. That story may never be written, and this scene stands as an angsty ficlet on its own.

By: caia
Rating: PG-13
Set: after the alley beating in “Dead Things”
Disclaimer: Joss owns these characters, the sick bastard.
Distribution: Do not post elsewhere without permission. Ask, I may say yes.
Feedback: adored.
Blurb: Long before considering what she deserved, he promised himself he’d give her what she needed.

I cannot. I cannot. I cannot.

The thought echoes in his half-conscious mind. He doesn’t know anymore what it is he cannot do, if indeed he ever did. It occurs to him to wonder, but some preserving instinct steers his uneasy mind away from the word “her” that surfaces at the wondering.

I cannot. I cannot. I cannot.
It isn’t the pain of his hand on fire that rouses him.

He and pain of all kinds are old, old friends. Right now the aching in his head and ribs hums in counterpoint to the devastation that crouches like a malevolent hobgoblin over his chest. This entity pauses in its smothering press only long enough to allow him to forget he doesn’t need air, before settling down to a slow squeeze again. His musculature tenses and collapses with each cycle. Dull delirium reigns in his head.

He is half rousted instead by the odor of smoldering flesh.

He considers leaving himself here to burn. She left him here, and here he can stay. He can sit suttee upon the pyre where Buffy’s compassion died.

Thinking the name of his beloved pulverizes his fugue, and the comfort of illusion is gone.

He tries to convince himself that his obligation has ended. That he is free to step off the tilt-a-whirl of a world he can no longer recall liking.

What can she need from me after this? She will be jailed by now.

His attempt at self-delusion doesn’t work. With a growl marred by the gurgle of pooled congealing blood in his throat and his human face twisted into inhuman rage, he lunges towards the shadowed side of the alleyway.


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