Glass Shard Substitution
by Nicole Clevenger

You don't remember everything about that night, but you remember him. You remember what you did to him. Glass biting hard into your palm seconds before it split his skin. Watching his pathetic trembling form fight the animal urge to pull away from your power of pain, as if there was anywhere for him to go. The smell of the lighter's fuel just before the aerosol's breath ignited inches from his face. The taunting, the words of blood and hurt. The way the cloth bit into the sensitive flesh at the corners of his mouth, red seeping through the white.

The strength in his eyes, despite the nearing saving grace of his unconsciousness. That strength you wanted to beat out of him more than anything, because it meant that you still hadn't won. You still weren't the one in control.

Prison gives you plenty of time to think, to rehash old mistakes. They play again and again behind your closed eyelids, and then suddenly you're the one without any escape. Stuck there, inside your head. A running reel of all the ways you fucked up. All the things you coulda, shoulda, woulda done differently now clear in Dolby Digital Sound and widescreen special effects. And at first maybe you point the fingers and lay the blame, and everything is colored by the soundtrack of What They Did To You. But eventually - when played enough times - the film on the reel is altered, stripped. And all you're left with is what happened. What you did. What you didn't do.

But, hell, who knows how much of what you remember is what really happened, right? Thing with memory, see - it's a hazy, undefined thing. Maybe you're the one who said something, did something - or maybe it was her. Him. Them. Maybe your grand scene is nothing but scripted nonsense, rehearsed again and again in your mind until it becomes the film's final print. Abrupt cuts and dramatic fadeouts leave you little slices of what might have been, but who's to say your mind isn't filling in the blanks on its own?

Still, some things have the unalterable flavor of reality - even if that word isn't exactly a concept you've ever trusted. And when you're left alone inside your head for long enough, you either lose your shit or face up to a truth or two. Truth Number One: You used him to get to Angel. Kidnapped him, tied him to a chair, and tortured him until he almost died.

Truth Number Two: There's no way you can ever be forgiven. No matter how long you sit in a fucking jail cell, serving your time, accepting your "punishment." Nothing will ever be enough to make up for what you did to him. To her. To so, so many others.

You used to think you were such a badass. What a stupid girl.


When he comes into your room in the dark night of that empty hotel, you wait silently for his version of elastic justice. He stays in the shadows, near the door. You catch the scent of the whiskey on him from across the room as you wait for him to make the first move.

But, after an infinitely thick silence, the words slip from you on their own. You never could keep your mouth shut, you weak bitch. All posturing and poses, even now. Gotta keep up your end of the game, 'cause if you don't even have that, you might just disappear. "You're drunk," you tell his outline.

He doesn't move. "I always said you were observant."

His voice slides though the still darkness of the room, and you laugh at the tough-guy sarcasm. It's all over him now, wrapped around him like a second skin. The bed sheets shift against you as you move; your elbows propping you up as if this means you'll be able to see him. "Come on, Wes. This one doesn't exactly take slayer senses. I can smell you from here."

There is no response. You can only see a hint of his eyes, but you know they're on you. A slight roll of the shoulder and the sheet slips just enough to reveal the tease of smooth, bare skin. Maybe the only part of you that isn't marked at the moment, but the illusion holds. Calm. Controlled. Desirable. "Now, you coming here like this, in the middle of the night and all... A girl might get the wrong idea."

Still no movement. You try to focus your eyes through the darkness, straining to see his face, but there's only the impression of his form and the sense of his physical presence. And those eyes, that invisible gaze burning across the room and pinning you to the bed.

"Perhaps she should," he says finally, disengaging himself from the clutching shadows and approaching the bed. Closer. Closer. He steps through a moonlight shaft - the thin slash of light coming through the gap in the heavy curtains - and you see the bottle in his hand. Whiskey, and though you can't tell how much is in the bottle, you can see that the cap is nowhere to be found. He sits on the edge of the bed and tips the bottle back for a drink, his eyes never leaving your face.

You're waiting again, waiting to see what he'll do. All of your exhaustion, your throbbing injuries and aching head, have been pushed away by the drumbeat of your adrenaline charged heart. You can feel the tension in your shoulders, your muscles preparing to fight or flee. His eyes bore into yours like he can see in the dark, and a big part of you wants to look down, away. You keep your chin up, refusing even to blink. Calm. Controlled. Desirable.

When he silently offers you the bottle, you don't hesitate.

The whiskey burns all the way down to your empty stomach, and you cough as your body feels the sudden shock of hard liquor. You drag the back of your hand across your mouth as you hand back the bottle and lean against the headboard. He doesn't stop watching. You can feel your skin crawl under his intensity, and you have to force yourself not to fidget.

He takes another swig, his tongue darting out to catch the drops clinging to his lips. You're itching for something - anything - to happen, to break the maddening rhythm of this slow dance. "You know, Wes, if you wanted someone to get drunk with, shoulda just asked. We could've gone out or something..."

"No. We couldn't."

You blink. "What, suddenly defeating the evil and bringing back the sun isn't enough to earn a little down-time?" Then a sickening thought occurs to you; you try to smother the sharp stab with a voice of snide indifference. You're a regular pro at that, after all. "Or is it that you don't want to be seen in public with a girl like me? Ruin your Good Guy rep?"

He snorts, the bottle half-way back to his mouth. "Little late for that," are the muttered words you think you hear.

When nothing further comes, you find yourself filling the silence yet again. "So you just came in here to stare all night? 'Cause I gotta tell you - as hot as this whole vaguely menacing drunk silent-type shit is - it's been kind of a long couple of days. And at least one of us could do with some beauty sleep." You look at him pointedly, trying to spur him into some sort of reaction, but who knows if the expression comes across in the darkness.

A beat longer, and you're thinking that he's never going to move. That he really is just going to sit there all night, drinking and staring. And then he reaches out with his free hand, yanking the sheet away to expose your naked body.

The cool air of the room washes over your skin at the same moment as your surprised inhalation. Goosebumps run like ants over your arms, and you can feel your nipples tightening into shriveled points. You keep your eyes on his face, your chin up. Calm. Controlled. Desirable.

It is he who breaks the look, his eyes moving down and over your battered body. Slayer powers mean you've already begun to heal, but you've been beaten badly and some marks still remain. Smudges of deep bruising along your rib cage, your hipbone, your legs where they disappear under the sheets at the bottom of the bed. Patches of darkness against the pale of your flesh, echoed again and again in places his eyes can't yet see. A shiver ripples through you, though from the chill or his gaze you can't be sure.

You make no move to cover yourself. Look at me, you tell him with your mind. See what I am.

He takes another long pull of the whiskey, his eyes still following your body's contours. He runs his fingers over your hipbone, tracing the outline of the bruise there with a feather touch. When he speaks, you get the sense that he's carefully annunciating each word. "We couldn't go out, because most places would have us arrested for what we're about to do."

A rush of heat floods through you, the cool air of the room now a memory. A handful of possible reactions scatter across the surface of your mind and you grab the closest one, sticking with your unflappable image. "Only most places? Where do you party these days?"

His thumb presses against the bruise, and you wince but say nothing. He slides his hand up to the flat plain of your abdomen, his palm resting warm just below your belly button. The slice of light cuts a swath across the back of his hand. Your stolen glance shows the jagged line of a fresh wound marring the surface.

Shallow cuts all over him, anywhere not covered by his clothing. Sometimes through the cloth itself. You knew how to make him hurt without bleeding to death, wielding that piece of broken glass like an expert. That whispering voice in your head egging you on, reminding you of all the things he did to deserve his pain. How he abandoned you, turned on you. Gave upjust like all the rest of them...

You grab the bottle from him, nearly choking as the alcohol fills your throat. You take another desperate swallow, the liquid fire bringing tears to your eyes. It serves its purpose - the memory recedes, replaced by a faint and comfortable buzzing.

He takes the whiskey bottle back, taking one last drink before setting it on the short table beside the bed. His fingers encircle your wrist, bringing it up over your head to hold it against the headboard. The hand on your stomach moves up to your breast, cupping it roughly. His eyes flicker across your own, but you get the feeling that he's not really seeing you any more. His head dips down, tongue flicking over your captive hardened nipple.

You gasp at the sudden dampness on sensitive flesh. Your fingers find their way into his hair.

He pulls back, grabbing hold of your other arm to pull it above your head with its pair. You almost laugh; as strong as he may be these days, you know you could break his from his grasp without much effort. His force will never be able to match yours. You both know that. You both consent to play this game.

His hand and his mouth return to your breast; his teeth graze your nipple. The stubble on his chin scratches against your skin, a harsh tickling. The whiskey spins through your head, clouding your thoughts until only the sensations are left clear and focused. His breath hot on your surfaces; his weight diagonal across your body, pressing heavily on aching ribs; his fingers digging into your bound wrists, denting into the tendons and bone.

Wrists looped with thick rope. Arms pulled tight around to meet behind the back of a chair.

You struggle just a little, testing his commitment to hold you without actually intending to break free. His eyes - eerily bright in the dimness - flit up to your face over the swell of your chest. His free hand leaves your breast to slip back down your body, plunging two fingers into you without warning. Your hips buck against empty air.

He slips in and out of you as he teases your other nipple with his mouth, his teeth. Suddenly he slams your wrists against the hard wood of the headboard, a sliver of pain shooting through your hands as the bones connect with the unyielding surface. "Stay," he orders, the command a growl muffled against your curves as his grip on you disappears.

The muzzle of drunkenness and fatigue has narrowed everything; any vague attempts at concentration are shattered by the movement of his clever fingers, his brutal mouth. Still, your superb hearing can't miss the sound of a zipper being undone, of fabric murmuring against its folds as it falls. The bed shifts as he moves his weight onto it, onto you.

He hisses through his teeth as he enters you, the sound almost completely covered by your involuntary moan. It's been a long long time since you've had someone inside you, and you now realize just how much that sensation has been missed. His hand moves back up to squeeze tight around your wrists again, the other pressing hard into the mattress just beside your shoulder to prop up some of his weight.

He thrusts hard, slamming into you again and again. The slashes across your back scream as the repetitive rubbing against the bed sheets irritates them further. His breath is already loud and fast in your ear, matching your own ragged gasps. You arch to meet him, encouraging him to go deeper. As drunk as you both are, this can't last long.

But it doesn't matter. It's not like this is about tenderness. Gentleness. Love.

The buttons of his shirt imprint themselves into your skin. You want to bring your legs up to wrap them around his waist, to pull him even closer, but the pressure of his legs on your own prevent it. His rhythm picks up speed, his harsh breaths filling your swimming head with more noise. You feel alive, nerve endings tingling with pain and pleasure. The familiar heat begins to build, the edge tauntingly close. Rushing toward it, your eyes closed now, time tumbling over itself as he impales you again and again and again and -

"Lilah," he groans as he comes.

A fist punching you square in the gut; your heart clenching so abruptly in your chest that for a moment you can't breathe. He slumps against you, already spiraling into drunken, post-coital unconsciousness. You open your eyes and stare at where you know the ceiling must be, sobriety flooding back to dump you into yet another phase of your endless personal punishment.


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