Solace (five lovers Buffy Summers never found it with)
by Twinkledru J.

There are times when Buffy comes by, and the Christmas tree lights, the twinkly little lights that Tara has strung up about her room, are the only illumination for the tiny space.

She knows that she is calmed by being in Tara's presence. She also knows that being in her space, and being in her arms, is closer to being back where she was sleeping and peaceful than she has come in her months on earth again. And yet there is something earthly, too, in being here. There is an extra weight lent to this heaven-quiet time by flesh and the four elements.

She is certain, at least, of one thing: one moment, she was crying and ashamed, and the next, Tara's lips were soft and undemanding against her own.

Before patrols, as the sunlight dies and turns the room shades of violet dark and yellow-orange. They talk softly, in the fading light, of death and heaven, of dead mothers and absent fathers. Tara helps teach her to breathe, and sometimes they just lie on the bed, Tara rubbing Buffy's back while the latter sobs rawly, until cheeks and ears are hot and swollen and she can feel their redness, and her head is pillowed on Tara's soft breasts under some t-shirt or other.

After patrols, when the light is very, very dim and the sky is pinned up with stars, and in the room, it consists only of the twinkly little lights strung up around the windows. It's safe and quiet and dim, and Tara is ripe and soft and warm. She does not take more than Buffy can give, but Buffy is willing to give more, because Tara does not force her to.

Willow calls one evening as they sip at a tea Tara made, and in the message she leaves, she is begging and trying not to beg as she says they should, might, maybe, could talk.

"How many of those has she left?" Buffy asks. She turns her head from where she sits on the floor, leaning against the bed, to look at the phone.

Tara makes a little I dunno noise. "Does it matter?" she asks slowly, sleepily, sadly in response.

In the pale mornings, the twinkly lights are off, and the air itself is light, fair light and bright. Things are no less warm and soft, but they're crisp, and sharply limned by morning.


After the dance, Angel is gone as quickly as he came. Buffy goes to snag a few last cookies, 'cuz they really shouldn't go to waste, and when she comes back, there is only a spot on the wood of the gym covered in trampled confetti. She looks, and looks, and even though she knows she's not gonna find him, she keeps looking, but all she finds, at the last, when the room is rapidly emptying, is Giles, who is still holding her award.

"Are you all right?" he asks her quietly.

Buffy sniffs, and shrugs, and reaches for the award. Giles hands it to her carefully, smiling down at the little umbrella.

"It's very nice," he says. She looks up and smiles, weakly, and lets him lead her out of the gym.

"I -- " she says, and shakes her head. "I'd better change. I should -- patrol, or," and his face is already creasing up, he's getting that protective look, "'cuz, everyone's gonna be out, and getting illegally drunk, and, you know, with the kissing, and they're just easy pickings," she finishes, before he can say anything. "So, so I should change, and go patrol. My stuff's in the library."

"All right," Giles says quietly.

Giles goes into his office, letting her put the borrowed weapons back in the cabinet, then change while she's still in the cage. She hears him moving around, and falls still, and slowly, very slowly, she turns to find that he is standing in the doorway of his office. His back is to her, and his head is turned, just the slightest bit, and they are still and silent for a few unending moments.

She's spending the night at Willow's house, they all are, she tells her mother on the phone. His apartment is quiet, and the lamps' light is mellow and warm. He makes them both tea, and they talk, in quiet voices, about the Ascension, and about Faith. When she cries during the night, he holds her, skin against skin, until she drifts off to sleep.

In the morning, she tries to make eggs and mostly makes a mess, so they go for donuts instead, and talk some more about the Mayor. When she jokes, he rolls his eyes. As they leave the donut place, he puts his hand at the small of her back, not pushing or guiding, just, as they talk, touching.


The soap was Buffy's one indulgence for a long time after they brought her back. And even now, it remains an indulgence. 'Cuz it totally is, she doesn't kid herself about that. But hey, she's saved the world, she's allowed indulgent soaps once in awhile, right?

It smells like lemons, and a bit like honey, and the scent is not invasive. Instead, it is a sense, a something that will gently float into your nose and lungs until all that you're breathing in is clean and sweet and warmth.

She got it because it washed away the smell of burgers and grease and nighttime, and she got it, too, because it washed away the smell of cigarettes and booze. It didn't always wash away the feeling of something unclean and horrible that Spike would leave, but it helped to rinse off many layers of dirt and shame. There were times when that was the most that she could ask for.

It was the only thing that made her feel sweet and warm again, and like she had scrubbed away everything else to get there, instead of just covering it up and pretending.

And it was -- and is -- expensive. Just buying it was, and remains, an indulgence.

She kept using it, even after things started to get better. She still buys it now. It still makes her feel that way -- like it's not covering up, it's washing away.

Gunn, she knows, likes it, too. Well, he doesn't use it for himself so much; if he did, she might be kinda worried. But often, the smell will be on him, just the slightest hint of it, the littlest sniff's worth of a scent, underneath everything.

But then, at those times when she smells the lemon honey scent on Gunn, it's not just the smell of the warm and sweet of the soap. At those times when she smells it on him, it's the smell of the warm and sweet of Buffy and her indulgent soap, because somehow, in what's always a cheekily grinning protest of innocence and "no way, you're crazy, baby, but damn I love you for it" and coincidence, he always manages to catch her when she's right out of the shower. But hey, it's not really her place to complain or make premeditation accusations, 'cuz she always rolls her eyes as she closes them, smiling, to kiss him back.


Drusilla clings to her, hangs onto her. She is much taller, but Buffy's strength is more than enough to hold her up.

The chip doesn't work anymore. Not on Buffy. Not since she's been back.

Anyway, the chip wouldn't have stopped the words, the things Drusilla calls her. She alternates, she flips and flops, she's forever stumbling between soft and harsh. Sometimes her words are sweet and gentle; sweet, gentle words for her beautiful golden knight, the girl Dru calls her seraphim. Sometimes whispers that are loving and tender hush against Buffy's ear, breath so close that she shivers. Sometimes they are angry and harsh, and Buffy is dirty and filthy, a whore like Grandmother was, a liar and a whore. Sometimes Drusilla screams.

The hem of Drusilla's white dress is frayed now, and stained. Buffy tries to bring her new ones -- she feels, sometimes, almost, sort of, affection for this helpless creature. The way Drusilla looks, though, makes her regret it -- she will not look at Buffy, just gives a shame-faced whimper.

Breath or screams, and she can forget. Always, always, always, Buffy is just trying to forget, and when there are no words, she can do that. When it's the slap of Drusilla's hand against Buffy's ass, and after awhile she's moaning and writhing and Drusilla says solemnly that there must be more spankings for making such a scene, she can get lost.

They are not always games, at least not to Drusilla, and sometimes she can lose herself enough that she, too, is wandering in that in-between place Dru inhabits. Then, briefly, they understand each other.

Buffy always just tries to forget. Drusilla's words will never let her, for whatever words she might say, they always remind her of what she is. She has lost heaven, she is a knight, she is an angel, she is a liar, she is a whore.

When Drusilla kisses her and wraps her arms around her throat, when Buffy slides her hands down Drusilla's back, she hears the way the dress rustles. She pulls it up enough for Dru to hop up and wrap her legs 'round Buffy's waist. She is much taller than Buffy, and giggles a little as she kisses the top of Buffy's head in that position. The height difference doesn't matter so much, though. Buffy can hold her up, Buffy has strength enough for both of them.


She chose this, to be a go-between for earth and Hell.

It's just a ribbon Lilah uses to tie her hands, just a simple, thin ribbon. She doesn't even tie them tightly. She doesn't need to; the ribbon is meaning enough in itself.

She had asked for this.

The office is dark, and the windows are tinted; the light from the street makes everything shadows. It's enough, though, enough for Buffy to see everything. And Lilah must know that, just as she must know that the lilac colored piece of gauzy fabric she uses for a blindfold is not enough to leave Buffy blind. Things are blurry, shapeless, ghostly, but she knows what they are. Apart from the noises Lilah makes as she works, shuffling papers and hmm-ing and sighing, and the dim sound of the Hell offices without, muffled by the heavy door, things are nearly silent. The only constant noise is the low buzz of the tiny vibrator.

Buffy is not helpless. She is never helpless. For now, though, she pretends, because it's what she wants. It's what she asked for.

Her hands aren't even tied behind her. They rest in her lap, as she perches on the edge of the desk, and when she begins to whimper, she feels a gentle hand on her head. "Uh-uh," Lilah says, and Buffy can hear the smile on her face. "Talking counts as moving." And then, the shuffling and the low, annoyed sighs and the hmms resume as Lilah goes back to work.

She can't resist teasing, though, now that she knows how much effort it takes for Buffy to be still and silent. Every so often she will stand, and Buffy can hear her moving about, to the bookshelves or to find another file, and when she goes back to her desk, she will pinch at one of Buffy's nipples, or press a kiss against her forehead, or gently tug with her teeth at one of the rings through the cartilege of Buffy's ear, hot breath along the lines making Buffy shiver. Buffy wants just to arch against Lilah's touch, to turn her head and catch her in a kiss. But she doesn't.

There she sits throughout the course of things, bound and blind and helpless. Except she's not, really; the blindfold is thin and gauzy, and there's only a ribbon around her wrists.

Buffy Summers is never helpless.


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