Disclaimer: I own nothing…

Summary: After her parents divorce, when she is only seven, Buffy's father becomes abusive… The only other person she is willing to entrust with this information is her childhood best friend, William Giles… Can he save her before it's too late? (WARNING Deals w/ issues of child abuse).

Rating: R

Author's Notes: Okay, I know, it's been forever… But now I'm finally getting settled in here at college (Largely thanks to my roomie, Erin. I couldn't have done it without her. I'm so happy they actually ended up putting us together). So anyway, as long as the workload doesn't get too bad, I should have chapters coming a little quicker. Also, I know this chapter's short, but it really did need to be cut off. The next one should be longer. It's probably pretty crappy, too, 'cause I didn't revise it. My computer's acting up and I didn't want to risk losing it.

Also, to those of you who are questioning whether or not this is a B/F story, I'm going to tell you right now; not overall and not for long. Yes, there will be a few chapters of B/F, but bear with me. Hopefully, by the end of the whole B/F thing, you'll understand why it's there… But I promise it won't be the overall ship.

Distribution: If ya want it, take it, just give me credit… And, if ya could, let me know where it's going.

Chapter 4: The Tension…

"What the hell do you think you're doing?" Spike hissed at Buffy, cornering her in the hall just outside the bathroom, and pulling her inside, out of earshot of the others.

"What do you mean what am I doing?" she questioned, ripping her arm from his grasp, and glaring menacingly. "I'm not doing anything! What the hell are you doing?!"

"She's my sister, Buffy!"

"What the hell does that mean, Spike? I didn't do anything to Faith. I invited her to a party. What's wrong with that?!"

"You're leading her on!"

For a moment, she simply stared at him, wide-eyed. "I'm doing no such thing!" Buffy gasped incredulously. "I would never lead her on! You're not the only one here who cares about her, ya know."

"I don't think you get this, Buffy. Faith likes women. You, in particular. You just invited her to the biggest party of the year. She's gonna read into that."

"So what if she does? Would it really be that bad?"

"Would what really be that bad?" Spike questioned in disbelief. "Are you telling me that you're interested?"

Again, she was silent for a moment, and in that moment, all of her anger quickly melted away and she sighed deeply. Meeting his eyes, she shrugged nervously. "Would it really be all that terrible if I was?"

"Yeah. It really would." he told her seriously.

"What?" she asked, confused. "Why are you so against this? Why is it okay for Faith, but not for me?"

"Because it's you and Faith. Together. It has nothing to do with that, Buffy. If you want to be with women, I have no problem with it… If you wanna be with Faith, however, I do."

"But why?"

"What happens if you get together, and then you break up? What happens if one of you gets your heart broken? She's my baby sister, Buffy… And you…" he shrugged with a lopsided smile, "You're Buffy."

She had to admit, he had a point. Not a very good one, but nonetheless… She knew how protective he was of Faith, and of herself… And he was scared. His sister and his best friend… Together… That certainly wasn't in the rule book…

"Spike," she murmured gently, resting a hand against his cheek. "I'm not gonna hurt her. I swear to you, I could never do that."

After a moment, he took her into his arms and hugged her tight, refusing to let go. "And what if she hurts you?" he murmured into her hair, concern flooding his voice as he held her close.

Stroking his hair gently, Buffy assured him, "She won't."

"You don't know that…" he murmured, his resolve breaking down.

"Spike…" Buffy pulled away and locked eyes with him. "I swear to you, even if something does happen, it's not going to push me away from you."

"So you're telling me you're going to feel comfortable coming around here if Faith breaks your heart?"

"Spike, I'm still not even sure how we got to breaking hearts!" Buffy exclaimed, an amused smile playing on her lips. "It's just one date! Hell, it's not even a date! We're just going to hang out, like we've done a hundred times before!" Laughing lightly, she placed a gentle hand on Spike's arm and squeezed reassuringly. "I'm not saying it's going to happen. I'm only telling you that I'm open to it, if it ever seemed right..."

"And do you think it'll ever seem right?" he questioned, seating himself on the edge of the tub, and staring up at her curiously.

"Honestly? Not really." she told him as she sat down beside him. "But Spike?"

"Yeah?" he asked, looking at her with a raised brow.

"Have you ever thought that maybe I'd be better off with another woman?"

Her voice was completely serious with just a hint of curiosity. Spike could see that she had seriously been thinking about it since he had initially brought up the issue of Faith. "Do you think you would be?"

"I don't know!" Sighing heavily, she stood, and, crossing her arms, she began pacing the floor. "I've never really thought about it before, you know? But since you've mentioned Faith, I've been thinking that maybe it'd be better for me, too… I mean, every time I've dated a guy, I've been distant. In fact, since everything with my dad, you're the only guy I've ever really been able to get close to and trust… Well, except for Giles, but I mean guys my own age. It's just so hard to trust them, you know? So I was thinking maybe… Well, maybe I'd be able to get close to another woman…"

"If you really feel strongly about this, Buffy, then you should follow your heart… If you find someone that you really think you could care about, then go for it." he told her sincerely. "But why this sudden fascination with my baby sister?"

"It's not really a fascination, it's just…" Buffy sighed again, running her fingers through her hair. "She would understand… Because she knows what it's like…"

The last part, she forced out softly, her voice choked with emotion as unbidden tears began slipping from her eyes. Immediately, Spike was by her side, and had her wrapped in his arms. Desperately, she clung to him, tears soaking his black t-shirt as she cried on his shoulder.

In that moment, there was really no comforting her. No words could be said to help. No actions could be taken to slow her tears… She had these moments now and again, and he had quickly learned the difference between these and the others…

In these moments, all he could do was hold her and hope that it was enough…

"How's she doing?" Faith questioned as she moved into the living room, where Spike was sitting, obviously worried.

"Alright, I guess." he said quietly, wringinghis hands together, as he sat.

Faith sat beside him, placing a reassuring hand on his shoulder. "She's got a lot on her plate right now, doesn't she?"

"I don't know what you're talking about." he stated plainly. He had made a promise to Buffy, and, as much as he wanted to, he refused to break it.

"Don't lie to me, Spike…" Faith told him firmly, her eyes locking with his; expression solemn. "I'm not stupid. I went through it. I recognize the signs. I know what's going on… Spike, I care about her, too, ya know… And all I want is to know what's going on…"

Sighing heavily, Spike leaned back into the cushions of the couch, as he ran his hands through his hair. "She's asleep now. It took a lot out of her. She sobbed for over an hour. But she needed it…"

It was then that Faith saw the tears that had formed in the corners of her brother's eyes. She wasn't used to this. Spike had never been a crier, and seeing him this torn apart wasn't something she saw everyday. But it wasn't everyday that Buffy had breakdowns like these…

"I don't like this, Spike…" Faith told him softly, her own eyes slightly glazed with tears. "I can't stand seeing her this way… She's always been so strong and confident. And now, to see her like this… God, Spike, it hurts so much… All I want to do is make it all go away for her… Spike, we have to find some way to get her out of this…"

"You think I haven't tried that?!" He'd snapped, and he knew it… He hadn't meant to… But it was so hard, knowing there was nothing he could do to help her. "Faith, I'm sorry…" he sighed, when he saw the tears that suddenly welled in her eyes. It was all she could do to hold them back. "I didn't mean to snap, pet, it's just… This is Buffy, you know?"

"I do know." she nodded, wiping at her eyes carefully. "That's why I want to help her, Spike… I care about her, too…"

It had been nearly an hour since Buffy had fallen asleep in his bed…

Now, he stood quietly in the doorway, studying the girl lying before him. She looked so peaceful there; asleep in his bed… And yet, he knew that as soon as she woke, all that turmoil and pain and confusion would come rushing back at her, full force… And the peace would be over.

Once again, his eyes filled with tears. All he wanted to do was take it all away for her. Take away all the pain. But he couldn't… Because she wouldn't let him.

At that moment, he felt a strong hand on his shoulder, and he smiled just slightly. "Hey, dad." he mumbled softly, his eyes never leaving the girl before him.

"What's going on here, Will?" Giles questioned concernedly. There was something wrong, and he knew it… He just couldn't understand what it was.

"It's nothing." Spike shook his head sadly, doing everything in his power to keep the pain out of his voice. "She's just been under a lot of stress lately."

"It's taken quite a toll, then, hasn't it?" When his son had no answer for him, Giles decided not to push the issue. If William didn't want to talk, he wasn't going to talk. For a moment, he paused, trying to decided how to approach the next issue at hand. "So…" he finally continued. "Faith is quite fond of Buffy, isn't she?"

"Looks like Buffy's pretty fond of Faith…" Spike almost laughed at the absurdity of the statement. Never before had he picture his baby sister and his best friend together.

For a moment, Giles was silent; doing nothing more than nodding his head. Then, he took a deep breath, and Spike knew exactly what he was about to say. "And how do you feel about that?"

"Don't tell me we're gonna have one of your infamous heart-to-hearts again." Spike complained lightly with a role of his eyes.

"I'm serious, William." Giles argued gently. "This is important."

"Dad, I know it is… But the fact remains that there's nothing I can do either way." Spike told him, with a shrug of his shoulders. "I'm worried. I don't want either of them getting hurt… But I know I love them both, and I refuse to stand in the way if they could be happy together."

Giles looked surprised by his son's acceptance. "I'm glad you're being so understanding."

When Spike let out a light chuckle, Giles looked at his son curiously and Spike just smiled. "Buffy had to knock some sense into me earlier."

It was then that Giles, too, had to laugh. Buffy had always been the one and only person who was able to keep his son in line. The girl had become like a daughter to him, and Giles absolutely adored her. "If there was something very serious going on with her, you would tell me, correct?"

The question was sudden, but Spike wasn't exactly caught off guard by it… In fact, he had been waiting for it. All he could do was raise sad, serious eyes to his father for a mere moment before sighing and walking away. Silently.