Title: Sacrifice can smell like salvation
Overall Rating: NC17
Chapter Rating: R
Beta: shakatany (Who has been ten kinds of awesome throughout this entire thing. Seriously, this fic would not have survived thus far if not for her)
Disclaimer: Joss and M.E. own all. AN: Abandon all hope ye who enter; this way lies pain.
Not hidden in half remembered dreams but staring down at him, and all he could remember was a jumble of words and fear and oh god pain. Then he remembered the right words, the ones he’d learnt to crave.
"You know he couldn't wait to get rid of you. It was like one giant sigh of relief once you were gone. No more foolish boy hanging around to make things difficult. All those looks you couldn't quite catch? It wasn't some sort of misplaced affection, you stupid child. It was disgust, foolish boy. Oh, don't tell me you thought he cared?!"
And the pain. He remembered the pain. The leash changing hands time after time after time, until he learnt to forget everything but the ritual it created. Kneel, scream, bleed. Don't remember anything except just one more time because remembering wouldn't keep them secret, keep them safe.
But he wasn't keeping them safe, he wasn't doing anything but screaming for them. Because of them. Because green eyes were the world and blue eyes meant solace.
Except he knew better; knew those confusing looks meant disgust, and pity, and disguised hatred, and those wisps of fantasy where they meant something more were acid in the back of his throat.
He wondered if Blue Eyes had come to tell him what he already knew; that they had no use for him, that even as a demon fuck-toy he held no interest. He wondered at the tears that had gathered in his eyes as well. He could only remember that happening when the pain was enough to make him scream his throat raw. Then he realised that he felt like screaming, because just one more time was a load of shit and he'd forgotten it all to save something that didn't want saving.
He could feel it building in the back of his throat, growing until he couldn't breathe around it, couldn't think. He felt a shift in the leash's position and suddenly it all drained, leaving him feeling... nothing. There was no point screaming, no point railing against his fate. He was the useful body at the end of a leash who spoke when spoken to and knew how to bleed.
Taking stock of his body was a familiar routine, and when he noticed he was lying down with his Holder in the room he rolled fluidly onto his knees, resting in a kneel that was now more familiar to him than standing. He heard the quiet curse and checked his position once again before realising that Blue Eyes was probably angry that he'd been out of position in the first place, rather than whether he was perfect now.
"I'm sorry to have displeased you Master, please take your recompense however you see fit." He said the familiar words and relaxed back into the routine. This he could do. He knew how to say the words, how to bleed and how to scream.
When all he got in response was more cursing he slid from high kneel to present kneel, his forehead touching the ground. There was pacing this time; feet going from the wall, past his head, to the desk and back again.
He almost twitched when a cool finger lifted his chin, but he’d learnt long ago that flinching was a very bad idea, and tended to lead to more pain than even he could scream out. The command came with barely a whisper of air but he raised his eyes at it, feeling acceptance flood him even as some very small part drowned.
“Do you know your name?” The question was different, but the answers never changed.
“Whatever you wish it to be, Master.” He saw anger flash in Blue Eyes, bright with murderous intent.
Training demanded he lower his eyes in respect, clashing with the order to look until he could almost see the sparks dancing in front of his eyes. He kept looking as slim fingers clenched; waiting passively for the starburst of pain he knew was coming.
He didn’t flinch when Blue Eyes turned away abruptly and put a slim fist through the wall, the tiny specs of plaster and paint floating around him like snow. He didn’t move, just watched as his Holder went back to pacing, and wondered absently whether his body would look like the hole in the wall by the time this new master was finished; the smallest bits of untouched plaster lying, like jagged reminders of what once was, amidst the destruction. Blinking slowly he wondered why he cared.
His master was speaking, so he turned his eyes from the hole in the previously pristine wall to focus on his Holder.
“Why’d you do it, luv?”
Words came unbidden and stole his breath, rushing through his head like waves from Poseidon's hand:
“Told you, I intend on keeping Dawn safe.”
“You know I love you, right Xander?”
The image of faded words of a well-loved book burned into his eyes;
...and she had never forgotten that, if you drink too much from a bottle marked “poison”, it is almost certain to disagree with you, sooner or later.
Quote is from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Chapter One, by Lewis Carroll