This Time
by M Phoenix

In the early morning room they lie long and silent as shadows; listening to the distant chirruping, clattering sounds of the world waking up.

But Buffy doesn't want to wake. She screws her eyes shut -- body shut -- tight, tighter, tightest.

"Ow," Tara says softly; the husk of a laugh in her voice. "Human -- still need to b-breathe, remember." And Buffy sighs and relaxes her grip.

The skin of Tara's shoulder suddenly feels so like satin stretched over hard, curving wood; the bed so small and claustrophobic around them. But Buffy wills herself to stillness. This time she will not fight, clawing her way back into life. No this time she will not fight.

Maybe she can fade quietly to nothing, unnoticed, like the bruises Spike left on her wrists.

"Please," she whispers, as Tara kisses the palm of her hand, "Please don't forgive me."


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