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Warning: The background for this story is the kidnapping, torture and rape of a fourteen-year-old girl. If this in anyway upsets or offends you, please don’t read. If you are easily triggered by this type of material please read with caution.
The smell was overpowering and only made worse by the heat of the day. It came over them in a great wave as the four officers made their way into the basement of the old building. Urine, feces and blood mixed together was a smell that could bring the strongest veteran cop to his knees. Sgt. Harrison gagged and turned back but the other three continued down the stairs. Somewhere ahead was who they were looking for.
The girl they had nicknamed Sunshine.
The detectives working the case had taken the petite teenager with the big smile and long blonde hair into their hearts. Buffy Anne Summers was special, a Junior Varsity cheerleader, homecoming queen, and a community volunteer. She was the one that all the girls wanted to be like and the one all the boys wanted to have on their arm. They never found anyone that had anything bad to say about her. The upper class neighborhood where she lived had mobilized in full force to help find her. Her smiling picture was posted everywhere and flashed on the nightly news. A picture proclaiming her innocent happiness and from that bright smile came her nickname.
It also kept them from caring too much. The cops knew. They had seen too many cases. If she was found alive then she’d most likely never be the same girl again. But they still wanted to find her, to still have hope, that maybe they’d be wrong. The tip had come in that morning. A break that had them scurrying. Someone had heard screaming in this building the night before. They were here to check it out.
Officer Nagle, still a first year rookie, was determined to see this through. He considered himself lucky to have been on duty when the detectives had called for back up. If he could keep his head, help solve the case of the missing girl then he might be taken seriously on the force. The hated nickname of Officer Idol, for his shocking platinum hair, might be dropped.
“Nagle, take that way,” Detective Jim Thorson, pointed toward the right. “Bob, go straight ahead and I’m going to go around toward the left.
One order and the course of Spike’s life was altered forever.
He simply nodded his head, turned his flashlight on and headed right. There were boxes scattered everywhere, some of them still in stacks, probably just like they had been years ago. The building had been empty for almost a decade, condemned because the landlord couldn’t handle taking care of necessary repairs. Now, it stood as a testament of a different time when the neighborhood was safe. It wasn’t anymore though. Not even the police liked to patrol it. Too many shootings, too many drugs and not enough regard for human life.
Spike kicked a box that was in his path. There was a small noise like an intake of breath. His head flew up as he flashed the light around the space that was in front of him. He listened to the footsteps of the other three officers, the scuttling of rats as they were forced from their sleeping grounds and the breathing. It was coming in small gasps somewhere in front of him. He remained silent and moved forward. There in the corner was a pile of furniture, desks, couches, chairs and a small entrance way against the wall. The breathing was coming from behind there.
His stomach clenched in fear. Bile rose in his throat as the stench from whatever…or whoever was behind there got stronger. He automatically reached for his gun, did a quick sweep, turned and pressed his back against the wall. Nothing, no one around in this corner of hell except him and whatever was behind the barrier. Spike said a quick prayer, slid along the wall until all he had to do was turn his head. He did and wished he hadn’t. His eyes closed from the sight but his body continued to move until he was inside with her.
The missing girl, he had found her.
“Hey,” Spike said, so softly that it barely broke through the silence. It was hardly louder than her breathing. “My name is Officer Nagle. I’m a cop. You’re safe now.”
She didn’t hear. Buffy was lost somewhere else. Her bone thin arms were wrapped around her legs while she rocked back and forth on the filthy mattress. Her once soft, blonde hair hung in matted tangles around her otherwise nude body. Chains held her captive in some sick bastard’s idea of prison. She had been barricaded behind the furniture in a corner where it would be easy to overlook her. Trapped where there was barely any light and no sun for weeks if she had been here since her kidnapping.
Spike flashed the light around to make sure everything was safe before he approached her. The sight only made his stomach threaten to empty. Between the mattress and the wall was a bucket for her personal use. Empty fast food bags littered the floor but they had been torn apart by the rats. And a few hadn’t made it. Their soft gray bodies lay scattered across the floor.
Taking a few more steps, Spike crouched next to the mattress and took his first good look at her. His mind chronicled her injuries for his reports and testimonies. There were bruises littering her body, random, varying in colors and intensity. Blood was caked on her legs, back and hips. His eyes traveled down her legs, taking in the bites from what must have been the rats that were now dead. The tale was as he had known it would be; sexual assault, numerous beatings to keep her in line and a desperate attempt on her part to stay alive. He glanced back up at her face. She still hadn’t acknowledged him. Buffy was still rocking, still breathing, her eyes still closed.
“Hey, Nagle, you find anything man?” Thorson called out.
“Yeah, get the paramedics,” Spike answered. “She’s here.”
The sound of the radio beeping broke through the silence more than words ever could. Buffy jumped as the first one jarred her. She rocked faster, her fingers tightening on her legs, as if she thought it could keep him away from her.
“They’re on their way,” Thorson said, stepping into the small space. “Jesus Christ, what the fuck did…”
“Get a blanket,” Spike ordered, leaning protectively in front of the girl. She’s only fourteen, only fourteen, a little girl still, kept repeating in his mind. He didn’t want anyone else to see her small, broken body. She was so fragile looking, so frightened in spite of the fact that she seemed to be mentally existing somewhere else.
“Here,” and a blanket sailed through the air, landing on Spike’s back. He called out a thanks and fell to his knees to wrap it around her.
“It’s all over, pet. The ambulance is coming to get you,” he cooed to her. Using the same voice he did when he rocked his cousin, Angel’s baby. It was then that he saw the chains again. Damn it. He finished tucking the blanket around her then picked up his flashlight. He swung the beam over the walls and the furniture, hoping that somehow the key was there. It would be easier on her than taking a hack saw to them. He spotted them and for the first time since he had found her, an intense anger filled him.
They were hanging just out of Buffy’s reach and the scratches on the wall showed how hard she had tried to get to them. God help her kidnapper if he found him first and he was alone. Spike didn’t think he’d have any qualms about breaking the bastard’s neck. The hell with justice. There shouldn’t be justice for anyone who could do this to a child.
Her eyes opened, wide in the frightened face as she looked at him then to where he was reaching. They followed him as he took the keys. Knowing that one wrong move might send her further into her hell, Spike moved slower as he turned to sit in front of her on the mattress.
“I’m going to undo them now,” Spike said, soft and easy. “I’m going to let you go. Bet those things hurt, don’t they?” He took her hand in his, saw the rips on her skin where she had stretched to reach the keys or tried to pull her hand off in order to free herself. She was still watching him. No tears though, no words, no movement, she just let him undo the chains. Spike dropped them off the side of the bed. “Is that better, lamb? The paramedics are coming now. They’re going to take you to the hospital.”
Buffy glanced toward the entry then back to him. There were more voices, more noise as they brought a stretcher into the basement. Suddenly two men appeared, brisk and business like, carrying their medical equipment. It was too much for her and Spike reached for her as the first scream erupted from her lips. She burrowed against him. Her hands hanging desperately onto his shirt as he rocked her.
“You’re safe, it’s going to be okay,” Spike said. “They just want to check you out before they take you to the hospital. I bet your mom and dad will be waiting for you. Don’t you want to see them?”
Buffy wouldn’t let go of him and eventually the paramedics did a preliminary exam on her with Spike still holding her. They decided that he would ride with them to the hospital in an effort to keep her calm. She never said a word as he wrapped the blanket securely around her and scooped her up in his arms. Her face was buried against his neck as he walked by the other officers who were watching with saddened eyes. On the ride to the hospital, she sat in his lap, never letting go of him.
He had been right. Her parents were waiting by the door for the ambulance. In a surreal desire not to let go of his responsibility, Spike hugged her tighter to him as he stepped from the vehicle. She had given him her trust and a part of him wanted to stay with her forever but her mother’s arms were waiting. Buffy accepted the stretcher as her parent’s fussed over her. He watched as they rolled her away. Her eyes never left his until they turned a corner and she was gone from view.
A sense of loss filled him as he turned to walk away. It was over. She was safe. His job was done. He stood in the afternoon sun reliving the last hour in his mind as he waited for his partner to pick him up. The horror of it reached through his soul and he barely reached a trash can before he lost his lunch.
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