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Masochistic Tendencies
By Alexia Eve

It hurts.

She can say whatever she wants about how it's nothing, it's less than nothing, it's in his imagination, but they both know.

It's something. It's there.

It used to be hers, but now it's out of her control.

She can't remember how it started- a million little things, but none she can pinpoint, none that let her say "THAT'S how it happened" that make everything make sense.

She can't remember how it intensified, but it spun away from her, and now it's... she doesn't know. But it's not safe.

Not that anything's safe. Not in her life, it's not.

She can justify it to herself sometimes. She's been with guys like him before- worse guys, really, guys who were boring or who didn't care or who didn't show up the next morning or lied or cheated or killed lots and lots of people right after they had sex.

Sure, he killed lots of people before they got together. But that's stopped now. She has a guarantee, certified by the good ol' U S of A and the good people at Radio Shack.

She can say it makes sense.

But she's still the one who gets hurt.

And it's not what anyone expected- it's not because of him.

It's not because he bites her, because he hits her, because he fucks her, because she lets him.

Maybe it should be, but it isn't.

It's not because he yells, he screams, he curses at her. Not because he doesn't love her.

She wishes it were, but none of those are even true.

It's not because he loves her and she doesn't love him back.

That might hurt him, but it doesn't even touch her.

It's not even because of him.

It takes her a moment to snap back to reality. She almost doesn't realize that she's holding a stake in her hand, that she's in the middle of a graveyard, that the-

Fuck.

Diving, and ducking, and now it's gone and she's okay but there's a gash- don't worry; that'll heal- and now they're fighting.

She stakes him without a problem. She's a Slayer. That's what Slayers do. They Slay.

With Angel she was cautious. Everyone knew what she was getting into- what they were getting into. Evil bloodsucking fiend.

Well, doesn't that describe all guys, in the end?

She brushes her hair out of her face and continues her patrol as though it matters. As if any of it really matters.

She's stupid. She knows that.

She should be doing the right thing. Find a nice boy. Find a nice, bland, non-demony boy. Find Scott Hope. Find Parker. Find Riley. They'll break up with you, they'll leave you, they'll find someone better? Doesn't matter. At least they won't kill you.

Probably.

She should be looking out for her sister, her friends, her Watcher.

She's not, though. She's being self-centered and selfish and stupid.

Some days she wishes he'd do it- beat her, scream at her, make her bleed. Make her feel like the crap that she is. Maybe that's why she keeps coming back, why she keeps lashing out at him, why she keeps saying all the things she barely means.

She wants to be proven wrong.

Or maybe, she wants to be proven right.

Two corpses dating. Two corpses having sex. It would be funny if it weren't so sad.

Slayers aren't martyrs. You die for the side of good, but you don't even get a plaque admiring your work. "She saved the world... a lot" and a smile and you'll be on your way.

But is this fighting for good? Maybe this is fighting for existence. Maybe existence isn't worth fighting for.

She doesn't want to be a martyr. She doesn't want to be a symbol. She just wants to know if she's alive.

Everyone would have been better off if she were dead. Why didn't she just stay underground?

When you're dust, it doesn't matter how dirty you get. It doesn't matter how much you want it, how much you need it, how much you realize that everything you do is beneath who you once were and you're beneath that, how much you believe any of those ideas as you try to convince yourself.

When you're buried, no one cares what you dream about.

Some days she can still feel the bruises- from fights with Angel, with Faith. They used to say that she was the light version of Faith, two sides of the same song, and she was the less crazy, less murderous, less evil.

Pretty heavy standards to live up to. When can a girl just be herself?

That's why Faith hated her, they said. Faith hated her because she was so good, so pure, so right.

If Faith could see her now, what would she say?

The bruises are supposed to be gone by now... and they are. She can feel them, but she's the only one who knows they're there.

She's the only one who knows how bad she's been.

She's the only one who knows how to make herself suffer.

A new vamp this time, and she catches tiny pieces as she begins to fight instinctively: the blond hair, the thin figure, the black outfit.

She hits and she punches and she curses his name out loud as she punches, kicks, throws. Uppercut, sidesweep, and he's on the ground and she plunges the stake straight into his heart.

Just like what's happened to her, over and over again.

As he dissolves into dust, she notices, finally, that the hair, the eyes, the jawline- they're all different.

It's not him.

But for tonight, that part of her is dead. It's purged.

She can go home and be the perfect friend, the perfect big sister, the perfect Slayer.

The unclean part of her is nothing but dust to be swept away.

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