Disclaimer: God in heaven, no, they aren’t mine. I could never provide torture so exquisite.
Spoilers: Set immediately post ‘Beneath You’
A/N: For Harmony. I hope it helps.
Her eyes trace the patterns of her guilt in the shadows surrounding him. He speaks of wasted salt and flesh, and her soul trembles at logic’s accusation. Words have rarely been hers, and tonight they flee his broken whispers.
She stands motionless, watching the wisps of smoke spend love and longing on the wood of the cross. Her symbol, her weapon.
His sacrifice awaits an answer.
She is overwhelmed. She should say something, but what possible response can there be? Words are the bane of her existence. They slip and slide, boomerangs of intent, casting accidental meaning in their wake.
Echoes of her voice, haunts from a lifetime and a moment ago, wash the scene of devastation with charcoal silence.
She reaches a hand to her cheek, wiping away the traces of wetness. She wants to laugh as much as to cry, but control is asserting itself. Even the tears have stopped their salty flow.
Layers of protection and years of practice help her to put her pain and his loss with other passions, behind a locked door. She built the room that holds her heart in the hours after hearing her first prophecy, and the men in her life have helped her to strengthen it with their noble leave-takings and clattering helicopters. Now her mother stands guard.
Surely he’ll move soon? The smell of his destruction sears her nostrils, and the unearthly glow around his body draws her, moth to forbidden flame. Near enough to touch, and now, too far to feel, she watches his face.
Amid the pain, his features are as smooth as a sleeping child’s. That’s how it should feel, to have given all that you are. Peaceful. Until this moment, she thought she knew what it meant to sacrifice self for other. He knows the hell of return, but has none of the heaven.
Sudden motion seizes her -- strength and action are immutable, unchangeable. Hers. She lifts his leaden body from the cross, startling forward as he whispers to her, “Don’t.”
Invisible bars and emotional locks are not enough to stop her voice from cracking as she pulls him up against the pew. “I have to.”
Carefully, she settles herself next to him, crossing her ankles beneath her legs. Pulling his head into her lap, she ignores his strangled plea.
She catches his hand in hers. It seems smaller, somehow, than the one that knows every curve of her body. “It’s all I can do.”
The noises of the night and his pain are the soundtrack to her thoughts. She holds him close, trying not to think, not to breathe. A shudder runs up his body to her spine as she strokes her thumb against his jaw. She shushes his mad murmurs with a touch.
The last vampire with a soul took her heart with him to hell. This one has brought it back and laid it at her feet in a pulsing heap. She stares ahead into the darkness where it lies and wonders what she will do with it. It is small, she thinks, compared with the still one his scars protect from her touch.
Tomorrow is too soon to face her fear. For the space of the night, she’ll do what she can, then leave before he wakes.
No one will rest.