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The Act of Losing (PG)

This is a sad story. Be warned. (Sorry. *weeps* I don't even know, I'm having a perfectly okay day...)

Title The Act of Losing
Setting Post-series
Rating PG
Warnings Death. Yep. Big honking character death. S.
Words 400
Prompt You Make No Bones

He slips through her fingers. Like beach sand or water. Impossible to hold. It’s all she can think. She dreamed this once, though long ago, and with another vampire. And here it is, coming true.

The ash of him is just like any other. Gritty and grey. It sticks to her palm in places, where the sweat ran during the fight. When she takes up her stake to kill the thing that killed him, a little of Spike is stuck to her weapon.

How else could it end? Not with deathbed goodbyes. They don’t grow ill or old. This is how it had to be, in blood and pain for Buffy, or in the silent crumbling nothing that was Spike.

She knows already that there won’t be a return from this. There is no myth or destiny in this fight. This was just death, the way it comes for everyone, in the end.

(Even if it has been an unconscionable time arriving, as Spike would say. Buffy never did know why. And now she won’t ever find out.)

She kills Spike’s killer, and Spike’s killer’s friends. It’s easy. Spike got unlucky, with a vamp that had that one good day. But Buffy makes damn sure it’s a short day.

She wonders when it will be her turn, and decides it’ll be soon. But not too soon. She’s not a prize for just any enemy. When Buffy Summers goes to dust and ash, the world will know about it.

Not like Spike. Nothing left of him, once the battle (scrap, he’d have called it, more honestly) is done. No bones to bury. A few smudges and smears on the ground, distinguished from the other dead vamps only by the way her gut aches as she approaches the spot. And the skull ring, glinting and tacky.

It breaks her a little, though it’s maybe the fourth one he owned. They were shitty cheap things, mostly, and he didn’t take care of them. But it’s so Spike and so much how he was, not how heroes are remembered, that it’s the thing that cuts through.

She sits in the dirt – his dirt – and cries.

When she’s done, she reaches out to his remains, and coats her hands once more. Paints her face with William the Bloody, the way the Slayers used to do with clay. And wears him into the next battle. Because the next battle is only just around the hill, like always.

She’s a little more Slayer, after that, and a little less Buffy. And it’s not so very long before she’s making bones in turn.

It’s not what Spike would have wanted.

But dammit, he left her first.



( 41 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 10th, 2013 09:12 pm (UTC)
:Cries like a baby:

Oct. 10th, 2013 09:31 pm (UTC)
I knoooow. It was not a happy idea when I had it. But it needed to be written.
Oct. 10th, 2013 09:36 pm (UTC)
dammit, he left her first.

He did, so he deserves it. How dare he die?

It's bad enough when Joss kills him. When you do it too, I just feel desolate.

Oct. 11th, 2013 06:57 pm (UTC)
:((( I'm sorry. I was sitting peacefully on a train looking at the prompts, when it popped into my head fully written. I hadn't moved my feet in four hours, maybe that's what's to blame...
Oct. 10th, 2013 10:00 pm (UTC)
Smiling through the tears. I do love me a good death fic. I can write all the happy endings I want to, but we all know how it's likely to end.... Beautifully done.
Oct. 11th, 2013 06:58 pm (UTC)
In the end, it has to end - and better in a fight, I think. Glad you liked this, in its way!
Oct. 10th, 2013 10:11 pm (UTC)
*sniffs* and *swallows*.

This is perfectly sad.. Even though I don't like to think about Spike dust...
Oct. 11th, 2013 06:59 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much! It felt right, when I imagined it, but still, *sniff*
Oct. 10th, 2013 11:13 pm (UTC)
This is a knife twist to the gut. Perfect in its painful inevitability.

Oct. 11th, 2013 07:00 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much!
Oct. 11th, 2013 12:34 am (UTC)

You made me cry. . .
Oct. 11th, 2013 07:01 pm (UTC)
Awww, I'm sorry? But sort of glad too, that this worked as I hoped.
Oct. 11th, 2013 12:43 am (UTC)

Handling death in writing is such a tricky thing; it's so easy to go over-the-top or maudlin but you never do. Perfectly handled.

the last portion where she sits in the ashes and cries, then paints her face, the mark of a grieving warrior and a callback to Restless, is my favorite - so utterly stark and primal.
Oct. 11th, 2013 07:07 pm (UTC)
Thank you *so* much. I was hoping the clay painting callback worked; it's the only non-literal part of the ficlet but I loved what it meant to Buffy.
Oct. 11th, 2013 07:19 pm (UTC)
I've re-read this story something like 5 times since yesterday and already rec'd it to other people. (You're used to praise by now, right?) This to me is just - really sublime, and a perfect example of what I look for and try to learn from in terms of prose writing.
Oct. 11th, 2013 08:17 pm (UTC)
You're too kind, but thank you again!
Oct. 11th, 2013 02:30 am (UTC)
How painful. And beautifully written!
Oct. 11th, 2013 07:07 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much!
Oct. 11th, 2013 05:03 am (UTC)
But dammit, he left her first.

Oct. 11th, 2013 07:08 pm (UTC)
I knooooooowwww. :(((
Oct. 11th, 2013 07:13 am (UTC)
Oh, Ouch.

Man, you do bring the angst!
Oct. 11th, 2013 07:08 pm (UTC)
I know. :(((
Oct. 11th, 2013 09:42 am (UTC)

A fitting tribute.
Oct. 11th, 2013 07:10 pm (UTC)
Awww, thank you.
Oct. 11th, 2013 12:16 pm (UTC)
Oct. 11th, 2013 07:10 pm (UTC)
Aww, I'm sorry.
Oct. 11th, 2013 04:46 pm (UTC)

So sad! So authentic. So real... that makes it even more sad. I'll just bawl my eyes out, now...
Oct. 11th, 2013 07:11 pm (UTC)
Aww, I've saddened my whole flist. But I'm also glad it works for you.
Oct. 12th, 2013 06:12 am (UTC)
But dammit, he left her first. Damn it! You made me cry!
Oct. 12th, 2013 07:46 pm (UTC)
You know, I had the whole fic in my head, but I couldn't end it properly till I wrote a (ruder) version of this line, and it was just... yes. So I'm glad it worked once edited!
Oct. 12th, 2013 08:20 am (UTC)
That was really cool. Not the greatest word to describe this drabble, but that was my immediate reaction. I loved this idea.
Oct. 12th, 2013 07:48 pm (UTC)
*g* I'll take it! Thank you.
Oct. 12th, 2013 11:32 am (UTC)
*sniffs* Heartbreakingly beautiful.
Oct. 12th, 2013 08:15 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much!
Oct. 12th, 2013 08:48 pm (UTC)
That's perfect. Sad, but perfect.
Oct. 12th, 2013 09:35 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I'm glad it works for such a sad little story.
Oct. 13th, 2013 03:34 pm (UTC)
Oh, ouch. This was painful, but perfect.
Oct. 19th, 2013 08:18 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much!
Oct. 23rd, 2013 01:06 am (UTC)
As always, you go for the throat and leave the heart in tatters... and always looking for me. :D
Jan. 16th, 2014 03:56 pm (UTC)
Oh dear, how wonderful and sad. :(
Jan. 16th, 2014 06:48 pm (UTC)
Here from buffyversetop5
Paints her face with William the Bloody, the way the Slayers used to do with clay. And wears him into the next battle.

Oh wow, what an amazing image. Great little ficlet.
( 41 comments — Leave a comment )


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