Grieve Me
by Laura Smith

It's dark.

She doesn't remember it getting dark. Of course, she doesn't remember much these days. Flashes from time to time. Sharp stabs of guilt that shiver along her spine until they reach her stomach, stabbing over and over until it feels like she's swallowed a million knives. Occasionally there are moments of blissful peace that usually end in a brilliant flash of memory.

She puts her hands to her head then and holds it, cradling it like she cradled her body, holding it as gently as if it was a china doll. The image makes her laugh sometimes, bitterly and harshly, wondering if she's just as insane as Drusilla was. Is. Will always be.

She wants to work magic and make the memory go away. Wants to drill the sound and the fury from her brain and pretend it never happened, never existed. She wants to wipe away what she's done, but to do that would mean wiping away everything good as well.

And she can't do that.


It's tempting.

He watches her from a distance, aching to go to her and to try and heal the pain that he sees in her eyes, hears in her screams. She screams sometimes and it's like the sound is hotwired into his nervous system. He can feel himself twitch with agony as her mouth opens, the sound coming out of it not quite human.

That scares him. A lot.

She hasn't moved since he brought her here. Not really, anyway. She wanders from room to room sometimes, but mostly she stays in the back where it's relatively dark. She watches them all with eyes wide and wounded, old and hard. He remembers her how she used to be, and it pains him to see her like this.

He wants to heal her, help her. He wants to be the one to do more than stop it. He wants to fight it, even though it's her battle. He wants to rush to her side and be there for her, the way he wasn't there for her so many times. She's needed him a lot in her life and he's always let her down.

Almost always.


It's hard.

She doesn't know what to say or to do. She feels different now, better. Human. She doesn't ache with what might have been or what was. She looks forward to the next day now, wondering what's out there, not just going through the motions because that's what she's been trained to do.

Sometimes though, she looks in the back, feels the eyes on her as she trains. Feels blackness where there's only green. She killed Angel once. She's killed people she loves and she's killed people she hates. She's killed lots of demons and she's seen people she loves die.

She thinks that she should be able to talk to her because of all that. She thinks that she should just be able to start a conversation like she did so many years ago. What did she say then? Something about math? Math doesn't matter anymore, not that it really did then either.

She punches the bag and listens to the solid thunk and wonders what she's supposed to do. She wants to help. She's the Slayer. She tried to help Faith when everything happened before. She stood beside her as long as she could and she wanted everything to be all right then, even though she knew nothing would ever be all right again.


It's scary.

He's been there, where she is. He knows the dark corners of her mind because he's seen them before when he was about her age. He knows how easy it is to get lost in the black and never find your way out.

He goes to her from time to time; the only one brave enough? Determined enough? To go near her. He never touches her. He sees the look in her eyes when he comes closer and he knows she's not ready for it yet. The gentle touch of a father, a friend would make it that much worse, that much more unbearable.

He wonders sometimes how he got out of it, got through it, and he can't remember. He remembers every inch of the black, but he doesn't recall a single beam of light penetrating it. Perhaps it didn't happen slowly. Perhaps it was just a brilliant flash of it and he was fine.

Never fine. You're never fine again.

Demons haunt you. Demons own you. Demons live within us all.

He knows that better than anyone. He glances around and wonders what happens next. He doesn't remember that part either, anymore.


It's boring.

They're all walking on eggshells as if she might break, and she thinks it's funny because it's very clear that the huddled mass of human flesh in the back room is stronger than them all. She sees it clearly. It's something she does. She's been back in the room herself, when all the others are off solving some sort of crisis risen up in the wake of her rampage.

She went back there and she stared at her, waiting until the green eyes lifted, waiting until they met hers. She couldn't look away, even though she tried. Shame is powerful, but so is kinship.

They're the same now. It makes her laugh. She knew it before when she cast the spell after her boyfriend left her. Obviously this is not a girl who should have a relationship.

That thought makes her sad and she glances over at him. He's watching her, just like he always does. He saved her, just like he always does. He feels responsible for her and he loves her. Always has, always will. Doesn't mean anything. She consoles herself with that fact, even as she wonders if she's kidding herself.

She's strong and powerful and they fear her. It's in their eyes. They're going to try and be the same and everything's changed. She's done what none of them can imagine. They've stuck countless stakes into countless chests, plunged them through dead hearts until they crumpled to dust on the ground. They've slain demons and villains and wreaked havoc on the underworld. They've punished the sinners.

And now they're crying for the saint who isn't so saintly. The sweet, quiet, mousy little girl who stole people's boyfriends, nearly ruined all their lives and who took the life of a human.


It's funny.

No one's talking. There's just silence in the room. It's like the punches on the bag aren't connecting, because there's no sound at all. No sound of breathing, the fan in the background. Nothing.

She watches him as he stands up and moves to the door, looking down the short hallway to where she's sitting. He stares at her with these eyes that she's never seen before. Like he loves her, but he doesn't know if he can anymore. But he has to because it's all he's ever known.

And she's afraid to look at her. She won't meet her eyes the few times they do lift from the floor. She won't look in her direction. As if pretending she doesn't exist has ever solved a problem for her.

He looks tortured and she looks uncaring. She wonders how they all got here so messed up. How it came to this. How they were all so wrapped up in themselves that they stopped caring about each other. Did they let her down? Or did she fall of her own accord? They knew it was happening, but they didn't care enough? Or did they care too much?

It's all too much for her as she turns away, not watching as he steps closer, the movement exaggerated in the silence. The silence that disappears when she screams.

And it's heartbreaking.


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