No announcement yet.

BtVS fic: "The air in your lungs" (PG)

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • BtVS fic: "The air in your lungs" (PG)

    The air in your lungs
    By Rosamund

    Buffy still thought about the maggots inside her. After she died, they had wormed their way into her flesh, through the skin and muscle and into the soup of her decaying organs. She had woken, often, to feel the maggots underneath her skin, nibbling and nibbling but never escaping her flesh.

    She would feel them still, in her worst moments. A creature squirming deep in her gut. Something worming among the sinews in her armpit. She would splay the fingers of one hand and see them sliding beneath her bones.

    She no longer woke in the night beating pearly insects from her hair. She didn't feel the soil in her throat and nose. The air tasted fresh now, rot and coffin gone from her mouth. But the maggots were still there, all the way to her marrow.


    The room was too hot, but the sheets slid down her thighs, as cool as seawater, as insubstantial as petals. She tried, tiredly, to think of the names of the two girls sleeping on the floor. Her eyes were dry from sleeplessness. She picked her way through their limbs; it was strangely soothing to be among sleepers. The hall was dark, and much quieter than she had ever known it to be. Moments of quiet in this house no longer went unnoticed; the quality of the silence was as pleasurable as laughter.


    A faint, early light trickled through the door. The lines of his body were softened by it; the angular shadows on his face had lost their definition. He had seen her, not heard her: she knew she had descended the stairs noiselessly.

    "It's me," she said. His hand was on her wrist, cool and light, and she shook him off easily. "Nearly sunrise."

    She almost missed his nod. He followed her into the kitchen. The darkness thickened ahead of her in the corridor, and it felt heavy on her face, like deep water. The breaths of strangers and friends asleep in her sitting room were loud in her ears.

    "Happy hunting?" she asked.

    "They're all running. Usually picking fights is too easy. Now even the toughest, most up-themselves demons are running."

    "Of course, none of them are as tough as you," Buffy said, keeping her voice soft so it did not disturb the stillness, and loosing the note of teasing, too.

    "I was bored," Spike said. "I was almost hoping one of the First's little buddies would show up."

    "Oh, don't wish for that," Buffy said. "They've given me some very impressive bruises. Even more impressive than the ones from you."

    She was looking at the yellow in the sky, so she didn't see his face.

    "Buffy - " he said, and his tone made her turn.


    "Buffy, I'm - "

    "Stop saying my name like that," she said. The dark still air felt thick in her lungs, suddenly, thick enough to choke on. She looked at him, at the shape of his face in the dim light, and remembered how cool and dry his hands felt on her skin.

    "I'm sorry," he said.

    "For what?"

    She watched him struggle to find words. She watched coldly, as if she had stepped outside her self for a moment, and couldn't feel anything.

    "I dream about rotting flesh, and choking on stale air, and the harshness of sunlight after the light of heaven. I don't dream about you, Spike. I never have."

    She knew she wasn't trying to reassure him. As she moved to leave the room, she felt a pang, but she was almost dizzy with tiredness, and her hair stuck to her scalp with grease. She touched the skin just above the neckline of his t-shirt, where no pulse beat, and felt it as cool as paper.


    "Look what Damian gave me!" Dawn held the flowers too tightly, the ones nearest to her getting squashed against her chest.

    "Lilies. Very morbid," Buffy said.

    "It's the first time anyone gave me flowers," Dawn said. "They are beautiful and perfect and I won't hear a word otherwise."

    "Of course not," Buffy said. "I'm terribly sorry."

    "No, you're not. What do I do with them, anyway? Do we even own any vases?"

    "You could take the pickled onions out of the pickled onion jar and put them in there."

    "What would I do with the pickled onions?"

    "I could probably kill something with them."

    "Is that what you bought them for?"

    "I didn't buy them. I think they came with the apartment," Buffy said.

    "Ew. With a side of eurrgh. I don't want to have anything to do with them."

    "You're a wimp. Drink the last of the orange juice and then I'll hack the top off the carton and you can put them in there."

    "Why does everything with you involve hacking something off something?" Dawn asked.

    Buffy shrugged and removed the lilies from Dawn's arms. The petals brushed the skin of her neck as she put them into the sink.

    "Things are going well with Damian then?"

    "He's ok," Dawn said. "Very sweet. The whole thing feels kinda surreal. I mean, six months ago we were waiting for the Hellmouth to open and now I'm getting flowers?"

    "Take it from me. Flowers are much better than Hellmouths. Some men think it's romantic to open Hellmouths to get a woman's attention, but they're wrong."

    "Firstly, those weren't men, those were vampires. Secondly, they weren't trying to be romantic, they were trying to kill you, and thirdly - "

    "I don't want to hear about "thirdly". The first two were bad enough."

    "If you can't accept your past relationships for what they were, then that's your problem. You're just jealous because I get flowers and you get blood and death."

    "Fine, cut me down to size. See if I care. I'm not hacking the top off the orange juice for you, though."

    "I'll just leave them in the sink, then. They look pretty there."

    Buffy could hear Dawn giggling all the way to her bedroom. The light was catching the lilies, turning them warm and creamy. She stood by the window: the flat was high up and she could mostly just see sky. The sunlight filtered through the grey, never as bright as Sunnydale. Somehow she couldn't imagine a vampire burning in that light, she couldn't imagine it blistering skin.

    She had felt the heat radiating from Spike as he burnt up, so hot she had almost quaked.


    She didn't dream about maggots any more. Her skin felt whole and healthy, with no trace of the grave. The maggots had been burnt out of her, had shrivelled and withered and left her clean.

    She dreamt about Spike now: his face smouldering to nothing, his hand scorching hers. She dreamt about his fingers on her skin, his fists bruising her thigh. She woke shaking and slept again with the image of his arms around her soothing her mind.

    As the sunlight left the sky, she went back to the lilies, the air as light as cool sheets on her skin. She lifted them out of the sink, and their petals caressed her throat, like fingers as cool as parchment.

    This appeared from nowhere. Did it work? Feedback thread here:
    "When people call people nerds, mostly what they are saying is, 'You like stuff', which is just not a good insult at all, like 'You are too enthusiastic about the miracle of human consciousness'."
    -John Green