Buttercup's Point of View (8:14 p.m.; a week later)—

I knew there was about to be a fight. I just knew it. Everything was previously going so well…why ruin it with petty fighting? I thought we understood each other…

It was just like any other day with him; we would talk and laugh together and everything would be perfect, but I would say or do something to piss him off, and he would hit me. Only this time, it was…I don't know. Before he even laid his hands on me, I knew something was different. Whatever it was, I knew that he would draw blood. Lots of it.

"Worthless bitch! You deserve to fucking die, you fucking slut!" he spat as he punched me in my jaw, sending me stumbling backwards into the wall. I was cornered. There was no use even trying to fight back; it would only make things worse. I was beginning to grow tired of it all. It made me sick just thinking that I've been letting him throw me to the ground and hit me for all this time. Not bothering to defend myself. Not bothering to protest.

He grabbed my neck and slammed me into the wall, my feet dangling above the ground as he held me up with his strong hands, choking the life out of me slowly. He loves me. He's just angry with me. Just as I felt weary, he threw me onto the floor and straddled me, punching me with every breath. Rivulets of blood streamed down from my nose and into my mouth, staining my tongue, tinting it crimson. I weakly grabbed onto his shirt silently, wincing with pain.

"Mitch…I-I'm sorry…what did I do wrong?" I asked, tears forming into my eyes. He ceased with his furious rampage and looked down at me.

"Everything! Fucking ungrateful whore! I want you to die!"

Just as he pulled his fist back in preparation, I grabbed his shirt languidly, looking up at him with pleading, fearful eyes. I was exhausted. I couldn't understand why we just couldn't stop fighting and move on.

He snatched his hand out of my grip and punched me, nearly dislocating my jaw. He stepped off of me momentarily and proceeded towards the couch. He unzipped his luggage and returned with a crowbar in his hands, glaring at me menacingly. My eyes widened with fear as I scrambled to a corner.

"M-Mitch…please!" I cried desperately, holding my hands up in surrender. He ignored my plea and lifted the crowbar over his head. I closed my eyes and silently prayed to God that I would make it out alive. Tears streamed down my cheeks steadily as a dreadful possibility clouded my mind. What if I never see Professor? Or Blossom? Or Bubbles? Or Hanna? Or what about Butch?

Mitch brought the crowbar down onto my face with a sickening thud. I screamed in sheer agony and hurt. My nose bled even more. I hope he didn't break it. My ears rang as blood filled my eyes and trickled onto my hands. My head ached. My heart ached. My whole body ached.

I gasped and fell backwards as the bar struck my throat, momentarily knocking the wind out of me. I fell onto a shattered vase and the shards of glass pierced into my skin, slashing into my shoulders and my face. I barely had enough time to think when he swung the crowbar into my stomach, then again at my forehead. I'd be lucky if I only had a fractured skull and a few broken ribs.

He grabbed me up by my neck and delivered a fury of punches at my body relentlessly, blow after blow, hit after hit, strike after strike. I doubled over with pain and clutched my stomach, which only made him even more furious. Oh, Mitch, what did I ever do wrong? Can't you see I'm trying to please you the way you want me to? Honest, I am, Mitch! Why do you insist on hurting me so?

And that's when something inside of me happened. I wouldn't discover it until later in the night, perhaps. But it was a brilliant epiphany; perhaps one that could later save my life. He kicked me in my torso before throwing me against the far wall, launching a beer bottle at me. It shattered against my skull and my breathing grew ragged and quick as the disgusting liquid cascaded down my bruised and bloody face. I held in the tears and whimpers and gazed up at him with a poker face as perfect as I could manage. He was panting as he walked beside me. He was exhausted. I knew it. He knew it. But we both knew that he was never one to give in.

But something surprising happened. He lifted up my chin roughly and looked into my eyes, a glint of satisfaction in his cobalt eyes. He had gotten his share. He had saw the hurt and pain from his childhood being transferred into me. He had beaten me and bruised me and scarred me and nearly killed me. He had gotten what he wanted. So now he was sweeter. He lightly caressed my chin sorrowfully and turned to the kitchen. He picked up the butcher knife from the counter and turned to the front door. With one last remorseful stare, he slipped out into the still darkness of the night. It was my chance. My chance to finally end this torment, to escape the pain and torture he put me through so shamelessly, to finally see and remember what it was like to live in pure innocence. I was living a sin, I was living a lie. This was my only chance. My only chance…

I painfully crawled over to his luggage and reached for my phone, struggling to keep my eyes open, just long enough to do what needed to be done. I grabbed my iPhone and quickly dialed Bubbles' number. Butch was probably furious with me, Blossom would be too disappointed. Bubbles would never point a finger. She would understand all I had to endure, all that I had to go through for a simple three-worded lie.

The phone rang. Once.

"Hello?" Bubbles greeted. How I missed her warm, cheerful voice. How I missed it so.

"Bubbles, it's Buttercup…"

"Oh my gosh! Bu—"

"Hush, Bubbles, please…Don't tell anyone…do you understand me?" I asked pleadingly as the tears streamed down my cheeks again.

"Where are you?" she asked quietly, sniffling. She was crying.

"Bubbles, I can't-"

Mitch burst into the room, his eyes wide with anger. I backed up into a corner submissively as he inched towards me menacingly. He grabbed my phone and turned it off before launching it against the wall.

"I hope you weren't planning on calling anybody, huh Buttercup?" he snarled sarcastically, grabbing me up by my shirt collar.

"I-I…"

"Shut the fuck up!"

His fist struck against my jaw just before he snatched me up again and slung me to the wall.

"You don't remember our little deal, huh Buttercup? Of course you fucking don't! You don't remember shit! Worthless whore! You-"

His words were cut off by a quick blow to his cheek. His hand reached up towards his cheek, a trickle of blood dripping onto his fingers. I gulped, already knowing that the worst has yet to come. I had cut him, and now I was going to pay for my mindless defense.

A full two hours and a half had passed, and he still wasn't done. He threw me to the floor and kicked me in my stomach. I had been so relentlessly battered and scarred and bruised that I was slightly numb. He had struck me with a club, clobbered me with a crowbar, shattered a vase over my head, pummeled me into the ground, rubbed my face into glass shards, sank his teeth into my flesh, clawed at my skin, beaten me senseless, and yet he had no intentions of stopping any time soon.

As another blade plunged into my arm, my vision hazed over and my mind traced back to memories. Memories that would never happen again. Mitch's once innocent face was now cold and rigid. His once pure, innocent mind was now polluted and tainted with darkness, his intentions and words now vile and disgusting. Or maybe I was simply oblivious like everyone else had said. Maybe I was too stubborn to notice that maybe Mitch was always cruel. Maybe he had simply hid it from me well. Yet I simply couldn't comprehend why Mitch would want to hurt me so badly. I couldn't understand it.

Just as Mitch began to bring a club down onto my battered face, a deep voice boomed from behind him. A voice so mature and foreign and hurt, yet one so painfully familiar. And it was all over. The relentless punishment ceased.

"Don't you dare lay a fucking hand on her."

Mitch whirled around to come face to face with Butch. I remembered now. Had it really been that long? His voice was so deep, his eyes dull and lifeless. He was slightly taller. I couldn't even believe that he could simply recognize my bruised and beaten form.

"What the fuck…"

Butch struck at Mitch's throat with sheer animosity and rage, his eyes wide with fury. I shielded my eyes from the horrifying scene and brought my knees up to my face, my arms wrapped around my legs. And in an instant, I felt a presence. One so secure and familiar, yet so loving and gentle.

"I-is it over?" I asked meekly, raising my eyes up to meet a pair of deep green ones.

"Yes."

"W-well, where's Mitch?"

"He's..um…sleeping over on the couch. But right now, Buttercup, we've gotta get you to your house. Everyone will be glad to know you're back…" he smiled weakly, gazing longingly into my eyes. I saw the hurt and pain and relief and happiness in his eyes. He took my hand up gently and led me out of the apartment. I looked back at it, wanting to go wake Mitch up and tell him I loved him. I would hate myself for leaving him. I was such a liar. I had promised that I would never let him go.

(At Buttercup's house)

"Are you ready?" Butch asked as we waited outside of the door.

I nodded my head quietly. He gently lowered me to the ground from his arms and helped to steady me. When I was stable, I turned the doorknob slowly. As soon as we made it into the living room, all went silent. Bubbles, Blossom, Boomer, Brick, and Professor all gaped in astonishment.

"Oh, Buttercup! I've missed you so much!" Bubbles squealed, pulling me into a tight hug. I winced in pain as my scars made contact with her skin. She pulled away, then frowned.

"Buttercup…wh-what happened?"

I looked down at the floor, ashamed.

Blossom sauntered over to me and said something that I would have never expected from her.

"I missed you. I'm glad you're back."

She wrapped her arms around me in a warm embrace before pulling away. I smiled a bit.

After about an hour, Brick and Boomer had left for home. Blossom had gone to bed.

"Buttercup…"

I turned to Butch quietly. I hadn't talked much since we had arrived.

"Follow me."

And with that, he took my hand and led me to the backyard, through the trees, and into the clearing where the stream glistened underneath the moonlight, the water shining a deep indigo shade. I sat down first and he sat down beside me, his eyes never leaving mine. He grabbed my hands in his and lightly caressed my palms with his thumbs, lightly biting his bottom lip.

"Buttercup, I have to tell you something…"

"And I don't want you to get mad…"

I gazed up at him curiously. He cleared his throat before continuing.

"I..I…"

"Say it, Butch," I said calmly.

He took a deep breath and closed his eyes.

"Look, Buttercup. This whole thing with you missing had me scared. I was afraid that I would lose you. You see, I've had this secret crush on you since the fourth grade and I never got over it! It really hurt me when you started getting all involved with Mitch, which is why I was so suspicious about him and I didn't trust him I just knew he would hurt you like this, and it made me mad to think that I would never intentionally hurt you! Never! And I knew that you weren't following your heart when you ran off with him. I just knew it, deep down inside my soul, that you knew you really didn't want to do it. I know how much he hurt you and I felt your pain for longer than you can imagine. I can barely even put my feelings for you in words, Buttercup! I just don't know what to do! You make me so confused sometimes, but all it takes is for you to look into my eyes before I'm all yours. And I love it! I loved when we would wrestle together or play XBOX and when it was just you and me! When Mitch came in, sure I was jealous. But I knew that he wasn't right for you, Buttercup! I just knew it! And now you're hurt and the pain won't fade away and your little heart is scarred for life and you'll never forgive me and you'll never understand…"

I had no idea. He let out a deep breath and blushed bashfully. Then he frowned, his eyebrows furrowed in concentration as he examined my scars. His hand gently trailed up to my chin and lifted it slightly.

"Buttercup, he abused you, didn't he?"

I looked up at him. Tears were forming in his eyes as he stared back at me intently, lightly fingering my cheeks.

"Are you mad?" I asked fearfully.

"Of course not. I would never be mad at you like that," he assured soothingly.

He laced his fingers into mine and stared into my eyes, studying my emotions for answers and explanations. He broke our eye contact and smiled at me slightly before leaning down, closing his eyes. I shut my eyes and just gave in to my own heart and feelings as our lips met for the first time. It was sweet and affectionate and was filled with all of our emotions that we had built up over the years for each other. His tongue gently slipped into my mouth and caressed mine lovingly, stroking it before pulling back into his own mouth, savoring my taste. When he finally pulled away momentarily, he glanced up at me, his once dull and lifeless eyes now flooded with softness and euphoric bliss and longing. I blinked and suddenly realized a fact so utterly complex but so, so simple. I felt the exact same way about him.

He gave my fingers a gentle squeeze before leaning down and lightly kissing my cheek, kissing away all the pain and hurt and agony and regret. Why didn't I ever give him a chance before? How could I be so shamelessly selfish with Butch, when he wanted nothing more than to fondle me and make me feel loved? Now I understood what Mitch was saying. Mitch and I were never meant to be together; we just happened.

With Butch, I felt something I had never felt before. It was all a lie with Mitch. Butch made this emotion feel so innocent and right and effortless and like there was nothing at all wrong with being…being in…love. Not obsession, or infatuation, or lust—but simply love. He made me feel as if it were something to be cherished and appreciated, nothing to take advantage of. That was the hardest lesson I've ever learned, regardless of anything Mitch has put me through.

Butch has showed me this since the beginning but I was too blind to see it. I had taken him for granted and toyed with his emotions. Never again would I put him through this pain. Because I now have had a taste of my own painful medicine.

He slowly opened his eyes and nestled his head onto my shoulder.

"Butch…" I whispered.

"Yes?" he asked eagerly.

"I…I love you…"

He smiled against my neck and kissed it.

"I've never stopped loving you."

His eyes slowly met my gaze and he gently kissed my other cheek, his arms wrapping around my waist and fondling me forgivingly.

And that night, I witnessed the same dream. I was flying beside Butch. It was all clear now. There was no more fog, nothing else to stand in the way of our feelings. I had finally realized that the fog was a representation of Mitch and I's relationship.

Never again would I feel worthless and unloved. Never again would I feel unwanted and unwelcome. Never again would I feel anything less than perfect. Never again.

"It's so easy…to think about love, to talk about love, to wish for love. But it's not always easy…to recognize love, even when we hold it, in our own hands…"

-Jaka


Author's Note: So we're finally at the end, here. :\

Gosh, I felt so close to my reviewers and this story. Thanks a lot, guys, for staying with me and bearing with the story. :]

I'm so…sad…these characters were so close to me…[I talk to much]…and I believe this is my best story yet. :3

Thanks guys. Love ya! :D

P.S. Mitch is taking a therapy course.

- Nichole...