Tigress In The Cage
by Tesla

Everything was jagged edges and shards of glass, and she carried it all inside. She was not the person she had been, no, and she wasn't the person she thought she had been. If she had been truly good and truly deserving, then Willow couldn't have pulled her out of heaven. She wouldn't been able to bring her back.

She wasn't evil and she wasn't worthy, she was something lukewarm, something puddled and gray and tasteless.

Sometimes, Buffy sat in the basement at the end of the night, her arms around her knees, contemplating the boxed remains of the Buffy Robot, all flesh-tinted fragments and plastic wires. There was a metaphor for you, Giles, she thought.

Metaphors. She remembered studying for her SATs, all round-faced confidence, so secure, so whole in herself, in comparison to now. And when she moved out to the dorm room, started studying, thinking, This time, I'll raise my hand. This time, the teachers will remember me.

Metaphor and simile, count the feet, feel the beat, poetry. Each time Something happened, she had thought it was the worst thing ever. Angel, his bad and his good, his absence and reappearance, all of her memories colored with sweet regret. Her father's long fade away, her mother's illness and death, Riley, the fight to keep Dawn safe, and then the plunge and the light---the bright---the peace. Fading now, all those memories of joy, fading just as the memories of Mom were fading, just as the memory of herself was fading.

Gosh, freshman English finally made sense, now that she couldn't participate in class. The loss of the self was the worst loss. Everything was blue sky and bright sunlight and green grass outside, but inside everything was gray. Disconnected wires.

Nothing made her feel alive, these cruel days, not the fight or her sister, or appetite. It took all of her energy just to stay in the same place. Just to maintain an even strain.

She wasn't crazy, and that was the problem.

She said that to Spike, and he gave her a funny smile and called her "Alice". Called her a lot of things, as she lay under him or on top of him, as she rode him. Called her, "love," called her, "baby."

She just called him "Spike."

She pulled her new vampire lover over herself like a blanket, pulled him, tight, tight, over and over in a way she'd never done before, because she didn't have to be embarrassed or timid or even innocent with Spike. Spike was her crack and she was an addict, going back to the pipe again and again, because he dulled all the agonies and silenced the arguments in her mind. Colors, she saw colors with him, and the wrongness of it just heightened the contrast between the nights with Spike and the dimness of everything else.

He made her feel alive for just a few moments every night, and she hated him for it, hated herself, hated herself for running down the path through the gravestones in heat, crashing into Spike like the waves on the beach.


He let her, he let her, let her call him every filthy name she could summon up, let her kick at him, punch him, and, laughing, came back for more. He was more alive than she was and she hated it.

He would be better off if Willow rebuilt the robot. The robot loved him, and smiled at him, and he...she couldn't believe she was thinking this, that Spike, this soulless killer, deserved better than her, better than someone who hurt his feelings in every possible way, and wait, a soulless vampire with feelings? It didn't compute and she refused to think about it.

She could almost believe he loved her.

She put her head in her hands, rocking beside the stained cardboard box of 'bot bits. The basement smelled dank. Soon, she would get up, and arm herself with stakes, and go out and kill things. Kill the other vampires, the ones she wasn't fucking.

He was keeping her alive, and she hated him for that. She'd be reckless, she'd jump into a circle of vamps and stake them all, and the odds always came out in her favor.

"You're too reckless, Slayer," he'd say, disapprovingly, perched on a headstone, flicking a cigarette lighter. "One of these days, you won't jump the right way and someone will end you." He lit a cigarette, and blew a puff of smoke. "Maybe that's what you want? Suicide by vamp?"

"You're imagining things," Buffy had said. But it was enough. She couldn't convince herself that she was letting something happen, that she was just being risky. Holding a mirror to her, that she had to look at, and wasn't she good with the metaphors these days?

"Do you have fantasies about turning me?" she asked, one night, as she lay with legs still wrapped around his waist. "Making me a vampire?"

Spike had taken her jaw in one hand, to glare at her. "No. Wouldn't be you. Wouldn't have your heart. Wouldn't have any heart at all."

"You have one," she said. "You keep saying you love me."

He was speechless for a moment, and she twisted her face out of his grip.

"Kiss me, Spike," she said.

Sometimes, when Spike kissed her, she could almost believe he loved her.

Sometimes, she could almost believe that she still had a heart.

My nine-tiered tigress in the cage of sex
I feed with meat that you tear from my side
---"Secular Elegy V" by George Barker


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