disclaimer in first part
The Morning After
Buffy slammed out of the door to the Disciplinary Office, into the lobby where Willow sat with a 2-liter bottle of water. "Come on," she snarled. "Let’s go."
"What happened?" Willow asked as she struggled to keep up with the fuming Slayer. Buffy’s legs were a little shorter than Willow’s, but she was chugging along like a blond express train and the red-haired witch had to all but run to keep up. No easy feat, considering the hangover she was nursing. The sunlight stabbed her eyes and her head throbbed with the impact of every step she took.
"I go in and I talk to one of the clerks or caseworkers or whatever," Buffy snapped. "When I’m done, she just looks at me over the tops of her glasses like she thinks I’m some little kid who wandered in and started telling her about my adventures with my imaginary friend. Then she says ‘Those are some serious accusations, Ms. Summers. But I’m afraid the only charge you can really prove is that they were serving alcohol to minors. And if you file a report on them for that, you will also be punished, as the minor who accepted the alcohol. Now. Do you wish to file a report?"
"What if I went back and tried?" Willow offered. "I could say that I didn’t know it was alcohol, ‘cause I, you know, didn’t."
"Already tried that," Buffy growled. "She said that I should have known from the first taste. In fact, I shouldn’t have been at a party where they were serving alcohol in the first place."
"Did she hear the part about the roofies?" Willow asked in disbelief.
"If she didn’t, it’s not because I didn’t say it enough times."
"Then why was she acting like you’re the criminal here?" Willow had seen such injustice before, but usually something supernatural was involved. It was easier to believe that Buffy was a delinquent than it was to believe that vampires existed. But this was…well, not normal, but it was something that happened in the real world. Date rape was something that happened and everyone knew about it. Why wouldn’t they believe this?
"I don’t know, Will," Buffy replied. "There may be some reason other than protecting the school’s image and ducking trouble with some rich golden boy’s parents, but I don’t feel like giving them the benefit of the doubt right now."
Neither of them spoke for a little way after that. Buffy was fuming silently, while Willow was still too stunned to be angry just yet.
"This is twice this has happened to me!" Buffy burst out as they entered Stephenson. "Twice! First time I almost get fed to a giant demon snake, this time the guy just wants me for himself. You know what?" She abruptly reversed direction and started back toward the door. "I’m going to go file that report. I’m used to being in trouble. It’s worth it to bring those bastards down."
Willow was just turning to follow when a sobbing girl ran past them and out the door.
"Hey," Willow said. "I know that girl. She’s in my drama class."
"Buffy!" The Slayer and the witch turned to find Parker jogging up to them. "Did Sung come by here?"
"She sure did—crying her eyes out," Buffy answered accusingly. She was in a mood to believe the worst of people.
"Look, I know you don’t like me," Parker said. "But I need your help. You saved my life in that fire—you’re good at helping people. I don’t know what to do."
"What did you do?" Buffy demanded.
"I don’t know! She started to say something about the party last night and then started crying! I think something might have happened."
Without another word, the three of them took off running in the direction Sung had gone.
Sung ran fast and hid well. If it hadn’t been for Buffy’s tracking skills, they wouldn’t have been able to find her. But find her they did.
Buffy came to a halt atop a rise in the trail. Parker arrived a few moments later, puffing like a leaky air pump. Willow trailed in last, her face white and drawn.
"You okay?" Buffy asked.
Willow shook her head. "I barfed," she said in a tiny voice.
"Oh, Willow," Buffy soothed, stroking her friend’s back.
"It’s the only reason I got here before she did," Parker wheezed. "Christ, you two run like gazelles."
"I feel a little better now," Willow said, trying to straighten her shoulders bravely.
"Good," Buffy said. " ‘Cause we’re here."
"Here?" Parker gasped. "Where’s here?"
"She’s out there," Buffy pointed. "In the woods. Not far at all."
"How’d you know that?" Parker asked, taking deep breaths in an attempt to regain a normal rhythm.
"I can hear her," Buffy answered. "She’s crying."
They found Sung curled up between the roots of a big tree, hugging her legs to her chest, sobbing into her knees.
Parker looked helplessly back and forth at the two women who had come with him. Buffy shrugged—she didn’t know Sung at all. Willow waved him toward Sung, as if to say ‘You go first’.
Parker obeyed. He approached Sung slowly and carefully, making sure to walk on leaves and twigs so she could hear him coming. As drew near, he apparently decided that it was best not to loom over her. He crouched and duck-walked the last few steps to her side. "Sung?" he coaxed. "Sung, are you okay?" He winced. "That was a stupid question. I mean, what’s wrong?"
"Oh, God, Parker, I’m sorry," She sobbed. "I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m so sorry!"
"Sorry?" Parker looked confused. "You didn’t do anything to me."
"I did, I did!" Sung pressed her face more tightly into her knees and sobbed louder
He looked back over his shoulder to Willow, desperation on his face: Please help me. I don’t know what to do.
Willow circled him and knelt in front of the crying girl. "Sung?" she said gently. "Do you remember me? I’m Willow, from Drama class. Can you tell us what happened?"
Sung paused in her sobbing and took a few deep, hitching breaths, trying to regain enough control to talk. She raised her head up out of her knees, but didn’t look at any of them.
"I don’t know," she answered. "I really…I really don’t. I just remember, after you took her home, I didn’t really have anyone to hang out with. All the girls I came with had either left or hooked up already. I don’t know which. So I was just hanging out and this guy came up to me and started talking. He was…nice. Nice, and funny, and—and…and I’d already had a few drinks. Then I had a few more, and then I guess I had a few more, because the next thing I know, I’m waking up. In this guy’s bed. And I’m—oh, God, Parker, I’m so sorry I’m naked and I’m sore and I know we did something."
She raised her eyes, bright with tears, and dared to look at Parker’s face for the first time. She mistook the bleak, grim look she found there for anger at her and continued on. "You have to believe me. I don’t do things like this. I’ve never done anything like this. I just…I don’t know what happened."
"Sung," he interrupted softly, holding up a hand to stop her. "It’s okay. Well…what I mean is, don’t worry about me. I didn’t know, for 100 percent sure, that we were together yet last night. Even if we were, I wouldn’t have blamed you for this. What happened last night was not your fault."
"If you can’t remember what happened, then you were really, really drunk," Buffy said firmly from where she still stood, leaning against a tree with her arms crossed. "Maybe even passed out. He had no business doing anything with you."
"I do remember," Sung said, looking back down at her knees. "Bits and pieces. Then I woke up at four in the morning and he said ‘Oh, you’re finally awake. I was afraid I was going to have to gnaw my arm off to get away’. When I asked him what happened, he just said ‘Nothing special’, then asked me to leave because he had an 8:30 class and needed some sleep."
Buffy and Willow both stiffened. Sending a lone girl walking across UC Sunnydale campus at four in the morning was a good way to get her eaten. Was this "guy" that ignorant of the dangers of his campus?
Or was he disposing of evidence?
"This…guy you’re talking about," Buffy said cautiously. "Did he give you a name?"
"Darren," Sung answered. "Darren…Evers? Edgar? Something like that."
"Edwards," Parker corrected.
"That’s right," Sung agreed.
The other three looked at each other.
"Could you excuse us for a second?" Willow said as she rose to her feet, taking Parker by the arm and pulling him with her as she went. "We need to talk."
"Okay," Sung agreed.
As Willow pulled Parker away, Buffy went and knelt beside Sung. There was a moment of silence before Sung spoke up again. "I wasn’t just drunk last night, was I?" she asked quietly.
Buffy considered what she should say, then decided that there was no point in lying. "I don’t think so," she answered.
"I didn’t think so," Sung admitted. "I’ve been drunk before, but I’ve never had a blackout. And some of the things I do remember—I couldn’t move. It was like a nightmare. I thought that maybe it was, but then I woke up, and it didn’t go away."
Buffy said nothing.
"If it wasn’t a dream, and I wasn’t just drunk, then that means I was…well, you know."
"Yeah." Buffy agreed.
"Oh, God." Sung buried her face in her knees again.
"This isn’t really the kind of helping people we’re good at," Willow said to Parker. "Do you have a cell phone?"
Parker pulled a phone from his pocket and handed it to her. She flipped it open and dialed a number that she’d seen many times on the call list for Wicca group. "Hello, Althea? I’m glad to catch you at home."
Althea met them at the edge of campus. From there, she took Sung and drove her to the hospital for a rape kit and emergency contraception.
Sometimes, Althea had said during the question-and-answer session at the Wicca group, it was difficult to convince victims to go to the hospital. They were ashamed or embarrassed or just wanted to forget that anything had happened. That wasn’t the case with Sung. Once she had realized that she was a victim, not a betrayer, she had calmed down and become very businesslike. This was an emergency to be dealt with, not a wrong she had done. And Sung Olsen knew how to handle herself in an emergency.
"This is my fault," Parker said as he watched Althea drive away with Sung.
"Don’t misplace the blame," Buffy said. "You’re not the bad guy. Not here, anyway."
"I shouldn’t have left her alone," Parker argued.
"Maybe not," Buffy admitted. "But you were trying to do the right thing. And you did do a good thing. You saved Willow."
Willow, who had still been watching Althea’s car pass out of sight around a corner, turned back to them. "Yeah. And that was a good thing," She agreed. "A really, really good thing. I’m sorry I haven’t said thank you for it yet—which, thank you, very, very much."
"But If I hadn’t been trying to get her in the sack, she would have been safe with her friends," He insisted. "Maybe she wouldn’t even have been there at all!"
"Don’t…" Willow tried to protest, but Parker wouldn’t hear her.
"I shouldn’t have just given up for the night and gone home," he continued. "I should have gone back and made sure she made it home safe."
This had gone on long enough. Buffy decided to cut through the crap. "Maybe," she said curtly. "Or maybe Darren Edwards shouldn’t have raped her. Maybe he’s the asshole here."
Parker said nothing, but looked back at her doubtfully.
"The only one who should be feeling guilty right now is the one who was handing out drugged drinks last night," she insisted.
Parker still said nothing, and the doubt remained on his face. Buffy gave up, shaking her head. "Come on, Willow," she said. "Excitement’s over. Let’s get you back to the dorm. Maybe a nap will help."
"Nap sounds good," Willow agreed as she allowed Buffy to lead her off. "And maybe something easily washable to throw up in."