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Safe In My Own Skin

Chapter Text


Take a look at my body
Look at my hands
There's so much here
That I don't understand
Your face saving promises
Whispered like prayers
I don't need them
I don't need them
I've been treated so wrong
I've been treated so long
As if I'm becoming untouchable
Contempt loves the silence
It thrives in the dark
With fine winding tendrils
That strangle the heart
They say that promises
Sweeten the blow
But I don't need them
No, I don't need them
I've been treated so wrong
I've been treated so long
As if I'm becoming untouchable
I'm a slow dying flower
Frost killing hour
The sweet turning sour
And untouchable
O, I need
The darkness
The sweetness
The sadness
The weakness
I need this
I need
A lullaby
A kiss goodnight
Angel sweet
Love of my life
O, I need this
Do you remember the way
That you touched me before
All the trembling sweetness
I loved and adored?
Your face saving promises
Whispered like prayers
I don't need them
No, I don't need them
O, I need
The darkness
The sweetness
The sadness
The weakness
I need this
I need
A lullaby
A kiss goodnight
The angel sweet
Love of my life
I need this
Is it dark enough?
Can you see me?
Do you want me?
Can you reach me?
Or I'm leaving
You better shut your mouth
Hold your breath
Kiss me now you'll catch my death
O, I mean it

Sunnydale, two years in the past

It was so hard.  Walking away from him was the hardest thing she’d ever done.

Buffy refused to look back.

Wouldn’t turn around.


If she turned around, she’d never go forward.  There were things she needed.  Things she wanted.

Her mother’s rings.

Her stuffed pig.


It would be safe.  He wasn’t home – wouldn’t be home for days.

For her own sake, Buffy needed to say goodbye.  To try, one last time, to convince Darla to leave him.  To get out.

Time to try and save her sister.

She had to try.


He didn’t want to let her go.

Was afraid she’d disappear the second she stepped out of sight.  Afraid she was some wonderful dream his brain conjured up, to ease his loneliness.  To give him a reason to go on, to keep living.

His belly roiled with apprehension, with fear.

Grey shadows clung to the last vestiges of night, shrouding her form as she stepped over the broken flagstones.

Each step away from him echoed in his heart.

Will was certain this was a very bad idea.

How did it get so tangled?

How did she become necessary in two bloody days?

What the hell am I doing?

How can I let her go for two hours?

He refused to think ahead.  Refused to worry about getting her away from here.  From this place.  

From the monster that haunted his nights.  

The screen door shrieked, protesting her entrance into the house.  Will swallowed hard, fighting the sudden dryness of his mouth.  

He wanted to race after her, pull her back outside.  Convince her to forget about everything in this place.  To just run, leave it all behind.

To be safe.

Will fought the urge to follow her, instead turning aside to wait out the two miserable hours.

He’d promised her he’d come back.  Promised to wait two hours.

Didn’t mean it made him happy.

Didn’t mean he wouldn’t worry.


The door slammed shut behind her, the sound ominous and final.  Rough hands grabbed her, fingers digging into her skin. Buffy struggled, breaking the hold.

“Where the hell have you been?”

He loomed over her, angry lines around his mouth and eyes.  “Where?”

Defiance swirled through her.  “Out.”

His big hand landed on her cheek, the force of the blow rocking her back.  “Don’t give me any lip.  Where the hell have you been?”

She slowly faced him, drawing out the moment as long as she dared.  “I told you.  I was out.”

“It’s barely five o’clock in the morning.  You’re fifteen years old.  Where the fuck have you been?”

“Like you really care?”  Finding courage from somewhere, she stepped closer.  “I was out.”

This time, it was his fist that struck her face, knocking her to the floor.  He crouched down.  “Wrong answer, Buffy.  Where the fuck were you?”

She didn’t bother answering him again.  Nothing would placate him, and she refused to tell him the truth.  

He’s home.  Where’s the car?  I didn’t see the car –

His hand fisted in her hair, pulling her up close to his face.  Spit hit her face as he questioned her, his breath hot and stale.  

On his feet now, Liam pulled her up, letting her feet dangle in the air.  

She tried pushing him away, tried to ward off the beating, but he was stronger.  

And she was already weak.  Already bruised.

Oh, God.  He’s gonna kill me this time.  


Spike stared at his cell phone, unable to make the call he needed to.  

Somehow he had to figure out how to get Buffy away from Sunnydale.  Away from California.  

Away from him.

Up until this moment, he’d been at a loss, unable to come with a decent plan.

But now, staring down at the number on the display screen, an idea surfaced.  

It was risky, hinging on several factors. . .  But it could work.

And she’d be safe.

Once in England, she’d be safe.

His name and position would ensure it.

He just had to get them to England.

He’d bring her home.  To London.


Muffled noises woke Darla, the walls shaking from the sounds.  Bleary-eyed and half-asleep she shuffled into the living room.

Stopped in the doorway, unable to make sense.

“What the hell are you doing?”

Her husband looked up, his fist poised to strike her sister.  She was naked from the waist up, her ankles tied together somehow.  

“Go back to bed.”

Shaking her head, Darla couldn’t move.  “No.  Don’t do this.  She’s  –  Don’t!

His fist fell again, slamming into Buffy’s side.  She curled up, whimpering softly.


She’d suspected.  Known, deep down, this is what happened when her back was turned.  

Known he beat Buffy.

He beat both of them.

Something broke within her.

Something dark and dangerous.

He was hurting her baby sister.  The only person beside Connor who didn’t think she was trash. . .

Darla moved, grabbing the first thing she put her hands on.  Lifting the vase over her head, she slammed it into Liam’s back.

She knew, even as she did, he’d turn on her.

He didn’t disappoint.


Spike shoved the last of his clothes in the duffel bag he was using as a suitcase.  One last look around the room showed him everything was clean.

Thirty minutes to go, but he couldn’t help himself.  He threw the duffel in the trunk.

He was going to wait for her outside the house.


Buffy crawled away, searching for her shirt.   It’s here somewhere. . .  Gotta get out.  Spike’s coming.  He’s coming.

He’ll be here soon.

Something wet and warm splashed onto her cheek.  Buffy whimpered, wiping it off with her injured hand.  

Don’t look.  Don’t.

Someone was screaming, shrill noises bouncing off the walls.


The smack of flesh, the dull thud of something being hit caught her attention.  Buffy lifted her head, trying hard to focus her eyes.

She wished she’d kept her eyes closed.

Oh, God.  No.  Please.  


Buffy never realized it was her own voice screaming.


She didn’t remember Connor until she crawled over his legs.

Oh, god. . .  Oh, god.  No.  Please.

Wake up, baby boy.

Her hands closed around his tiny form, shielding his body.

Connor?  Oh, God. . .  Connor, please. . .

She slid across the floor, trying to escape Liam’s feet, holding her cast over the baby’s back.

The baby was quiet.  Too quiet.

Tucking his small head against her breasts, Buffy wept.


Something’s wrong.

As he drove down Revello Drive, the sense of disquiet – the unease – grew.  It skittered over his back with icy fingers, tightening his shoulders and shrinking his balls.

William remembered that feeling.

Remembered it all too well.


Sunnydale, twelve years in the past

Blood pounded in his temples, throbbing in time with his racing heart.  

He’d never felt this way – never done anything to be this elated over.  

They’d won.

On the strength of his skill at football – they’d won.  

He, William Pratt, had done something wonderful.  Something athletic.  Something worth crowing about.

He’d scored the winning goal.  

Coach was staring at him, his eyes sparkling with delighted humor, a wide grin teasing his  normally dark features.  

Teammates were hoisting him in the air, shouting, yelling, crying, screaming his name.  Crowds cheered, the noise deafening.

He was still basking in the glow three hours later, when he realized the locker room was quiet; the crowd all gone home.

All but him.

And Coach.

Liam Angelus, who’d played in premier leagues all over Europe – who’d played for the Irish National team, replacing Niall Quinn as striker when the other man had been injured, capped 25 times . . .   Was congratulating him.

Treating him like an equal.


Nothing in his short life had prepared him for this.


He’d been the pampered only son of a wealthy, hereditary aristocrat.  And for one brief, shining moment, he’d been a friend, a hero.


Now he was battered and bruised.  Used.  

William stared at the tears standing out in the blue eyes of the reflection, wondering who they belonged to.

Those had been his eyes.  Before . . .

Before Coach had touched him.

His stomach roiled, pitching and heaving like a small boat in a hurricane.

He wanted to vomit.

Wanted to crawl into a hole and never emerge.

No amount of scrubbing would ever make him clean again.



Sunnydale, two years in the past

He promised himself he’d never let it happen again.

He promised her mere hours ago he’d keep her safe.

William stared at the front of the house, willing her to come out.  To take that final step to freedom and . . .  Be safe.

It was quiet.  Too quiet.

The hairs on the back of his neck rose, the skittering over his spine worsening with each heartbeat.

Something’s very wrong.

The driveway was clear.   No car was parked there and yet he couldn’t shake the feeling.  Couldn’t convince himself otherwise.

Something was very, very wrong.

He eased the car to a stop two doors away, parking it on the corner.  The first streaks of bright sunlight reached upwards into the darkness, heralding the coming day.  It made the chill worse.

This isn’t right.

Spike pulled his duster closer.  He checked the block for activity – pulled blinds, lights going on, something to indicate that people were waking up.  Everything was strangely quiet.  



Waiting. . .

Deciding he didn’t care if anyone saw him, he headed for the house.