Spike stepped out of the bathroom pulling up a pair of navy blue sweat pants. He left them hanging low on his hips as his hand moved upwards to scratch at his growling belly. He opened his mouth to take a crack at Buffy, because she had left him alone in bed again. And he, really, hated waking up without her there.
But she wasn’t in the kitchen like he assumed she would be. The living room was empty. He glanced back in the bedroom but she wasn’t there. He hurried to the patio to see if she was there but it, too, was empty. Confused he looked around the small apartment. The front door was firmly locked, the chains still looped across. So, she hadn’t left. He remembered her hiding in the bathtub at the hotel and took off to search there.
A small sob tore through the silence, making him turn around. He looked back at the door leading to his tiny laundry room. Another strangled cry reached him and he ran to pull the door open. Buffy was there, curled up on top of the washer, the phone at her feet, and her arms wrapped around her legs. She didn’t look up at him.
“Buffy, what’s wrong?” Spike murmured, reaching for her.
She pulled away from him, shrinking back into the wall. “Don’t touch me,” Buffy shrieked. “Please, don’t touch me.” This time it was a quieter plea.
Spike threw his hands up and backed up into the dryer. He took a small hop so that he was sitting on top of it.
“Will you talk to me?”
“No, I just…please, leave me alone,” Buffy moaned, her hands going to clutch at her head. “I’m so confused.”
“Well, let me help…”
“No, because it’s you,” Buffy said. “I have to get out of here.”
She jumped down, taking off toward the bedroom. He followed slowly. By the time he got there she had already pulled her suitcase out and was turning to the dresser. Her sobs were making her movements shaky and she dropped half the clothes she was pulling out.
“Where are you going to go, lamb?”
“Away…I have to get away from here…” Buffy mumbled. “It’s all wrong…I’m all wrong,” she waved one hand in the air. “This is all wrong…we’re all wrong.”
If it wasn’t so tragic, Spike would have laughed at the melodrama Buffy was spewing. She continued to talk to herself as she packed. He was hoping she would wear herself out and talk to him. But whatever was bothering her was growing in proportion instead of calming.
“You,” Buffy screamed. “Me…this…what are doing?”
“Trying to find out what happened to Faith,” Spike said. He took a step forward. She didn’t move so he took another one. “Becoming friends…lovers…whatever we want to be.”
“No, it’s wrong.”
“Why is it wrong? What happened?” He remembered the phone. Something clicked in his mind and he knew what or rather who had happened. “Were you talking to your mother?”
Buffy nodded her head as she wrapped her arms around herself. She sniffled loudly. Spike was tired of it and he closed the few remaining feet between them. He scooped her up, despite her protests, and carried her back into the living room. He sat down with his arms holding her on his lap.
“Now, tell me what she said that got you this upset,” Spike ordered.
“I called her because I wanted to find out if I could go back home for a few weeks,” Buffy whispered, playing idly with the strands of hair on his chest. “She kept asking me why and I finally said that I wasn’t sure where you and I were going.” The tears returned in gulping sobs and Spike pulled her closer. She buried her face in his neck. “It’s not true is it, Spike?”
“You have to tell me what it is first.”
His arms held her even tighter while his fingers soothed a circle along her back.
“My mom said that…you wanted me when I was fourteen. That you had a crush on me, called me Sunshine, and you sleeping with me was just playing on those fantasies.”
“She is really amazing,” Spike said, shaking his head. Then the situation took hold of him and he found himself choking back a sob. He let his head fall back on the couch while he tried to regain control of his emotions. After several long moments he laughed and said, “One of these days I am going to strangle that woman.”
Buffy’s eyes grew wide and he smiled. “Figuratively pet, not literally.” He sighed. “We all called you Sunshine. Everyone on the force did, not just me. You were the girl we all wanted to date in high school, the kind of daughter we wanted and the women all wanted to be like you. You didn’t even realize how much power you had, did you?”
She shook her head still staring at him.
“You were the golden girl,” Spike explained. “The beautiful cheerleader with the heart of gold…almost too perfect to be real. We all had a crush on you in a way. We were obsessed with finding you; even us guys on routine patrol were searching. See, if you got tarnished then it proved that life was really as bad as our jobs tell us it is. I was protective of you. I didn’t want to let you go. I found you, took the chains off and carried you out of there. I wanted it all to go away.”
Her fingertips drifted over his face. “Me, too,” Buffy whispered.
She closed her eyes and he knew there was something else. Joyce Summers wouldn’t be happy unless she could dump her poison on everything and everyone.
“What else did she say so that we can get that explained away, too?” Spike asked with a chuckle.
“This…I’ve read about it online, too,” Buffy said, softly. She took a glimpse at him through her lashes before looking away. “Someone who has been…sexually abused can sometimes feel that the only way they are of any worth is through the act itself.”
Spike felt like he had been punched in the stomach. He knew where she was going. This was something he wasn’t sure they could get through.
“My mom says that’s what I’m doing with you,” Buffy said, pulling away from him. She continued to stay perched on him but she wasn’t cuddled against him anymore. “I slept with you so quickly because I think it’s the only way I can get approval from you. She said that I need to go back to therapy for it before I go to school. That I’ll end up sleeping with any man that asks…whether I like him or not just because I want to feel like I’m somebody,” Buffy turned to him. Her expression was beseeching him to make it better. “But I don’t feel like that. The first time I went to you, I wanted to feel something. Be pretty; make you happy but not every time.” She threw her arms around his neck. “I love you so much. It’s why I want to be with you. I don’t want anyone else to even look at me much less touch me.”
A shudder ran through her slender body at the mere thought of anyone else wanting her. Spike started to rock her back and forth. The words he hadn’t been prepared to hear had been spoken. She trusted him with all of her. She wanted honesty. How could he lie now?
“Buffy, sit up,” Spike said, pushing her away. He cupped her cheeks, letting his thumbs wipe away her tears. “I love you, too. So much that it scares me. Yeah, it happened fast and there are probably a thousand therapists out there that could give us a bunch of psychological bullshit about it. But I know what I feel and so do you. What we are doing isn’t wrong. We’ve both been hurt and we know a good thing when we’ve found it. Do you understand?”
“You really love me?” She asked with wonder in her voice.
“Yeah, I love you,” Spike said, with a smile. “Don’t worry about what everyone else says or thinks. We’ll work out what’s best for us. Okay?”
She nodded, breaking out in a smile. Unable to resist the beauty before him, Spike pulled her down for a kiss. Soon, the world was spinning away and he went to lay her down on the couch when the alarm clock went off in the bedroom. He glanced up at the VCR and cursed when he saw the time.
“We need to get ready to go, don’t we?” Buffy said. Her tiny hands clutched at his upper arms as if she was afraid he would disappear.
“Yeah,” Spike said, with a sigh. “Let’s go get this over with then we can worry about us.” She nodded. “Go take a shower first and I’ll make breakfast.”
“Okay,” Buffy agreed, giving him a quick kiss before retreating into the bathroom.
Spike headed for the kitchen and the phone still on the washing machine. Although he had told Buffy the truth as he saw it, he still needed someone to reassure him. To tell him that he wasn’t the pervert that Mrs. Summers thought he was. He quickly dialed the number, relieved when it was Cordelia who answered. Sinking down on the floor, he unburdened his heart to the only other woman he really trusted.
Cordelia carefully laid the phone on the table next to the couch. She felt fragile, as if she would break into a thousand pieces if she made the wrong move. Her emotions were turning inside out, weaving through her heart and lodging in her throat. Spike’s heart wrenching confessions left the counselor in her reassuring the man. And the woman in her wanted to hold him until his soul had healed.
The boy he had been was still alive inside the man. Every insult, rebuke, and rejection haunted his soul and left him afraid. His love / hate relationship with his mother left him unsure of how to handle relationships. He was either in too deep or barely treading shallow water.
Drusilla had coveted Spike, seducing him into an affair with her. He had fallen head over heels in love with the sophisticated beauty. There was nothing he wouldn’t have done for her. To Cordelia their relationship often mirrored the one he had with his mother. He was the nurturer, the one who handled the problems, the house, and bore the responsibility of making Drusilla happy. When he needed to be taken care of, she had left him.
This time, with Buffy, was different. He was frightened of the feelings he felt, unsure if they were healthy for him or for her. They were both so damaged that they clung to one another in an effort to be normal. Together they were a strong unit, their weaknesses and strengths balancing each other out.
It was what she had told him. She had carefully laid out her observations in a clinical manner, knowing he needed that rather than emotions. But she had also reminded him of the drawbacks of the relationship between the two.
The difference in their ages, education and life experiences created a gulf that could be breached, but only with a tremendous amount of work. Could Buffy handle being the girlfriend or even the wife of a cop? Could he handle being with a college student who would go through emotional growth spurts the more she was out in the world. Could he find peace with her parents? And finally she reminded him that they were presently in a very idyllic situation removed from reality and they might see things differently when an every day routine was established.
Cordelia wasn’t sure if she had said the right things or if she had helped or hindered their relationship with her advice. With a sigh she stood and went to find her own husband. And to tell him that she would be accompanying the couple to the police station. Both were in emotional quandaries and she hoped that a calming presence might help them through this.
After having to wait for awhile on the bench outside Captain’s Roberts office, the trio was finally shown in. They settled in the chairs that the captain indicated while Kate perched on the corner of the desk. She smiled at them, especially Buffy.
“Did you get the results?” Spike asked, wiping his hands on the thighs of his jeans. He was more nervous than he had previously thought he would be.
“Yes, we did,” Captain Roberts replied, leaning forward on his forearms. “It’s as Buffy said. The DNA on the underwear confirms that it was worn by someone other than her.”
“So, what do we do now?” Buffy asked, reaching for Spike’s hand.
“There’s more,” Kate said, glancing back at the senior officer and allowing him to finish with the news.
“There was more than one DNA on there,” Roberts said. “There was also semen from Lance Peterson.”
The small hand wrapped in his almost broke Spike’s fingers at the news. He placed his other hand on top of hers to help her through.
“The only bad thing, Buffy,” Kate said, “We don’t know if they belong to Faith. There is no DNA to match with it to prove anything.”
“Can’t we see if we can find her parents or relatives? They might still have something of hers.” Cordelia asked. “She was pretty young and on the streets. Maybe she left home but was too old to report as a runaway.”
“No,” Buffy said strongly. She gave a quick glance to everyone. “What if I’m wrong? I mean, what if they aren’t Faith’s? We track down her family and tell them we might know what happened but we’re not sure. Give them hope they might finally have some answers, and yank it away if I’m wrong. It’s too much to put them through until we know something for sure.”
“You’re going on the assumption someone might care,” Spike said, gently. “She might have been a throwaway or something.”
“And I tried talking to the Peterson’s,” Kate said. “Myself and my partner went out to their house last night but they were uncooperative. They’re still claiming he’s innocent.”
“Bollocks,” Spike exclaimed. “They know he’s guilty just as surely as we do. If they had made him take some kind of responsibility for his life then he might not be sitting up in that cell now.”
“I’m afraid we’ve come to a stand still then,” Roberts said. “Without proof of whose DNA it is, a body or a confession, we don’t have anything to go on.” He shrugged. “They can’t convict a man on testimony from someone who has been, well,” He waved his hand then dropped it on his desk.
“You mean a crazy person,” Buffy said, straightening up as she finished the Captain’s thought. “You said a confession, right?”
“What are we going to do?” Kate asked, with a chuckle. “Walk up to him and ask him.”
“Yes,” Buffy said. “Let me talk to him. He used to talk to me all the time, rambling on about stuff. Maybe the shock of seeing me and having me ask about her after all this time might make him say something he doesn’t intend to.”
“No,” Spike said. “There has got to be another way.”
“She has a point,” Roberts said. “It might just work. Either he’ll say something that will give us a starting point or might jog something in Buffy’s memory that will help.”
“Are you sure you can handle this?” Cordelia asked leaning over to rub Buffy’s back.
“Yeah,” Buffy nodded.
Spike was furious. How could they be calmly talking about letting Buffy any where near that monster? She wasn’t ready for this in spite of what she said. He jumped up, startling the others with his movement. He turned to face Buffy.
“I said no,” Spike said. “I won’t allow you to do this. It’s too dangerous.”
“Don’t tell me what to do,” Buffy shouted, standing to face him. “It’s the only way without possibly putting Faith’s parents through hell. I can do it.”
“Listen to me, pet,” Spike said, calmly. He put his hands on her shoulders, rubbing them as he leaned his forehead on hers. “I’m worried about you. It could send you to that dark place where I can’t find you.”
“You’ll find me,” Buffy said, cupping his cheeks. “I trust you to do that but don’t try and stop me. I told you that I would do this with or without you and I will.”
“Spike,” Cordelia broke through. “You have to let her try. It’s not your decision to make. It’s hers. If you try and stop her than you are no better than her mother.”
That stopped him cold. It was what he was doing. The cop in him knew they were right. All they could do was hope that she was as ready as she thought she was. If anyone could get something out of Peterson, it would be Buffy. She was his living trophy and probably the only one who really knew him.
The man in him admired her courage in spite of his own reservations. He was scared of losing her but knew she had to learn to fly on her own. It was time to start letting go. His face revealed the resignation and helplessness he felt at his decision. He threw his arms out and said, “I guess we’re going to the prison.”
to be continued…