Author's Note: So, here we are, the sequel to Gossamer. Buckle up, folks, 'cause you're in for a wild ride of tears, laughter, action, angst, and lots of adorable Paige and Henry moments. As always, a major amount of the credit goes to my beta, liron-aria, who is just all-around awesome, and made this story great.
"What do you mean you've stopped looking?"
"I'm sorry, Ms. Matthews, but we have no leads, no suspects, we've received no kind of ransom demand in the three weeks that your daughter has been missing. The department does not have the manpower or the resources to devote to a further search. I'm sorry, but your case has been classified as cold."
"So, that's it? My daughter was taken from me, and you're telling me that you're just going to give up?"
"I know how you must feel-"
"You don't know a goddamn thing!"
"I'm sorry, Ms. Matthews. There's nothing further that the San Francisco Police can do for you."
Paige growled under her breath, slamming her gloved fist into the heavy punching bag hanging from the ceiling. Last week, she'd joined a gym and signed up for kickboxing class as a way to work off the constant adrenaline that hummed through her veins. She was fairly certain she sucked, but beating the crap out of a hapless bag made her tired enough to actually sleep at night, so she kept at it.
Throwing another punch, she sent the bag swinging backwards. She caught the bag as it swung back toward her, steadying it before it could keep moving, and then she slumped, leaning her weight against the bag. After a few moments she straightened up and headed back to the locker room on legs that trembled with exhaustion from the grueling workout she'd just put herself through.
She changed quickly, stowing her workout clothes in the duffel bag she'd stuffed in the locker. Then, she headed outside, blinking at the bright sunshine. She'd walked to the gym after her disastrous meeting with the inspector working on Pax's case, and she'd been planning on walking home, using the time to cool down, physically and emotionally. But, she wasn't really paying attention when she started walking, and she was already halfway to Prue's house before she realized where she was going.
'Might as well,' she thought, with a mental shrug. 'I could use someone to talk to, right now. And if she's not home, I guess I'll just keep walking.'
Going up the walk to the front steps, she climbed up to the porch and knocked on the front door. When there was no answer, she knocked again, and then turned to leave after a few moments.
'Guess she's not at home,' Paige thought, as she turned to go, and she'd just made it back down the steps when she heard a noise from behind her. Turning, she saw the front door open, and Prue looking at her in surprise.
"Paige, what are you doing here?" Prue asked, and Paige shrugged as she went back up the steps.
"I was in the neighborhood, and I thought we could talk," she said. "If you're busy-"
"What busy?" Prue scoffed, with a laugh, as she pushed the door further open. "I was just about to take a shower. Come on in."
Paige followed Prue into the house, through a set of doors off the side of the foyer into a room made mostly of windows. Sunlight streamed in through the brilliantly sparkling glass. Prue gestured at a wicker couch filled with plump pillows.
"Give me ten minutes," she said, as Paige sank down onto the couch. "You want something to drink, or anything?"
"I'm fine," Paige told her, and then, as Prue left, she leaned back against the back of the wicker couch and closed her eyes, soaking in the late winter sunlight.
True to her word, Prue was back in ten minutes, although Paige didn't know about it until Prue gently shook her shoulder, waking her up from the light doze she'd fallen into.
"Tell me I didn't fall asleep," Paige protested, blinking in the bright sunlight as she tried to clear the cobwebs from her mind.
"You didn't fall asleep," Prue deadpanned. "You were just contemplating the backs of your eyelids."
"Exactly," Paige mumbled, still feeling muzzy from her too-short nap.
"Haven't been sleeping well?" Prue asked, sympathetically, and Paige let out a bitter laugh.
"Try not sleeping at all," she corrected her. "Every time I close my eyes-"
"How are you holding up?" Prue asked, and Paige sighed, heavily.
"Inspector Morgan told me that the case has gone cold," she told Prue, quietly. "They don't have any leads, and they've stopped looking."
"Oh, honey, I'm sorry," Prue said, sounding shocked and angry. "Are you okay?"
"No," Paige admitted, and she hated the way her voice cracked on the word. She dropped her head into her hands, feeling tears fill her eyes. "God, Prue, I'm so tired."
"Paige-" Prue started, helplessly, but Paige wasn't listening to her.
"What if this is my fault?" she asked, her voice trembling.
"This is not your fault," Prue said, firmly, but Paige just shook her head in denial.
"I looked away," she told Prue, her voice catching on a sob. "I should have been watching her, and I looked away."
"This is not your fault," Prue repeated, grabbing Paige by the shoulder and giving her a quick shake to get her attention. "You couldn't have stopped this."
"If I'd just been more careful," Paige started, but Prue shook her head.
"You did everything you could," she protested, vehemently.
"Nick blames me for Pax's disappearance," Paige told her, quietly. "He hasn't said anything, but I can see it in his eyes. Half the time he won't look at me, he's sleeping in another room, and he won't even talk about Pax. It's like she stopped existing for him, once she disappeared."
"That son of a bitch," Prue growled, her eyes flashing with anger.
"Our marriage is just going straight down the drain," Paige said, sadly. "I tried to get him to go to counseling, but he won't even consider it. We're over; all we have to do is sign the papers to make it official."
"You picked a real winner there," Prue muttered, and then she realized what she said, and blushed furiously scarlet. "Sorry. That was uncalled for."
"That's okay," Paige sighed. "You're not thinking anything that I haven't thought for the last couple of weeks."
Prue slung an arm over Paige's shoulders, pulling her against her side in a one-armed hug. Paige slumped against Prue, resting her head on the other woman's shoulders and closing her eyes. Silent tears leaked out from behind her closed eyelids, but she made no effort to stop them. She was just too tired.
She didn't know how long they'd been sitting there when a sound made her open her eyes. Looking toward the sound, she saw an older woman standing in the doorway, watching her and Prue with a worried look on her face.
"Oh, hi, Grams," Prue said, and Paige sat up, pulling away from Prue's arm. "Grams, this is my friend, Paige. Paige, this is Penny Halliwell, my grandmother."
"Paige Matthews, ma'am," Paige introduced herself, shaking the older woman's hand. "Prue, I should probably get going."
Prue nodded, standing with her and pulling her into a tight hug.
"Don't you ever give up," she whispered, fiercely. "You are going to find that little girl, some day. I swear it."
"I hope you're right," Paige replied.