By Devil Piglet
Disclaimer: All characters of ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ are used without permission.
Author’s Notes: A Spike/Dawn vignette, set post-‘The Gift’. Not exactly current, I know, but the idea of writing for Season Six’s Bipolar Buffy gave me a headache.
Feedback: This is my first attempt at fanfiction. I’d appreciate reviews: email@example.com.
It used to be Spike’s favorite time, because it heralded another night of mayhem, and gleeful violence, and a bellyful of blood all set to the melody of Dru’s disjointed, poetic prattle. Each sunset was greeted with more excitement than the last, in Spike’s endless quest for more – more carnage, more chaos, more of every little thing that made life worth unliving.
Then things had started to change. It was a familiar litany, but one he felt compelled to recite once again. Angelus had returned, albeit briefly, and Dru had drifted back to Daddy. The breakup. The chip – that stupid, sodding piece of metal that had been the source of so much humiliation. And then, the arrival of something even more sickeningly shameful: his love for the Slayer. He had slipped willingly into the role of love’s bitch again, had trailed her around like a lost puppy, been rebuffed regularly, and had finished the whole sordid mess by gazing at her body lying in a broken heap on dusty concrete. Crumpled and boneless and dead, and with her a part of him.
Hell of a roundabout journey, Spike reflected, that brought him to this particular twilight, and the way he was spending it: in the neglected kitchen of a house on Revello Drive, waiting for Dawn Summers to come home.
Oh, how the mighty had fallen.
“Library, my ass,” he muttered to himself as he stood at the sink, washing out the collection of mugs that had accumulated there. “Thinks she’s got me wrapped around her skinny little finger, she does. Good ol’ Spike, wouldn’t hurt a hair on her precious head. Nope, he’s just the Happy Housevamp, likes nothin’ better than to vacuum and pack lunch and become a big girl’s blouse–" He stopped talking to himself, because….well, because Dru had talked to herself, and she was crazy. And Spike, despite an overly generous streak of rebelliousness, preferred to believe he was no more than slightly off-kilter. As vampires went.
And now that his rambling had ceased, he could hear…what? A low rumbling. Outside the house.
There was something out there, he realized. His enhanced senses relayed more information, knowledge that sent him tearing out of the kitchen and through the house and out the front door. Knowledge that would make him swear, later, that he could feel his heart beating in a panicky staccato and his pulse jump in icy fear.
There was something out there. And it had his girl.
He had made it halfway across the front lawn, to the tree where he had spent so many hours staring up at Buffy’s window, when the aforementioned heightened, extra-special, oh-so-discerning vampire senses cleared their collective throats and said, Um, sorry. False alarm.
The rumbling that reached his ears was the purr of an idling engine. Dawn was not in the clutches of a beast, unless one took the decline in quality of domestic automobile manufacturing way too seriously. She was sitting in the passenger seat of a Plymouth Reliant, her face turned away from him and her hair trembling slightly in the autumn breeze. Spike exhaled unnecessarily. Gossiping with one of her school chums, he thought to himself. This whole time she’s been parked outside blathering on about the Backdoor Boys or some such nonsense, and I am such an enormous poofter it’s pathetic.
Another few moments and Dawn opened the car door and stepped out, backpack in hand. The door slammed shut again, but not before Spike got a glimpse of the hand resting on the Plymouth’s gearshift.
The male hand. The large, hormonal, lecherous, perverted male hand that gripped the gearshift the way it would grip –
“Hey,” Dawn greeted him as she approached. “How come you came running out like that?” Her eyes widened. “You didn’t set fire to the curtains again, did you?”
He grabbed her by the collar and steered her toward the house. “Inside,” he gritted out. “Now.”
“I don’t see what the big deal is,” Dawn whined. “I wasn’t even half an hour late.”
“Enough time for a vamp to drain you twenty times over,” Spike answered. “And that tone is not helping your cause, missy.”
Dawn scowled but said nothing. To be honest, her voice hadn’t sounded all that attractive to her own ears, either.
She was seated on her bed, arms folded, while Spike towered over her. He was dressed in his usual black-on-black ensemble, the muscles of his arm tense and solid as his fists clenched at his sides. His eyes were a stormy blue, and his mouth was set in a hard line, those lush lips momentarily compressed. It would have made an altogether imposing picture, if not for the Holly Hobby dishtowel slung across his shoulder.
“We have rules in this house,” Spike was saying. “And one of them is, Don’t Worry the Vampire. A worried vampire is an unpleasant roommate. And you know what the other rule is?”
“Don’t Borrow the Vampire’s Peroxide?”
“No Parking In Front Of the House With Strange Boys!”
Dawn bolted up from the bed. “He’s not strange! He’s Tyler. And he’s nice and funny and – and he likes me!”
Spike’s eyes narrowed and he stepped forward, until Dawn had to crane her neck to look up at him. He had promised her that she would soon be as tall as he was, maybe taller, but right now Dawn felt very small and defenseless indeed.
“And just how would you know that?” he asked in a deceptively calm voice.
“He – I mean, I – well, it was just that –“ Dawn felt her face flaming.
“You two were snogging, weren’t you? Oh, bloody hell!”
“No! I swear! We were just – snogging?” She frowned in confusion.
“Making out, sucking face, whatever it is you rugrats call it nowadays. Out with it, little girl. I’ll know if you’re lying.”
He would, and it bothered Dawn to no end. She’d heard her sister say once that she couldn’t lie to Spike, and it had proved to be a Summers genetic deficiency. Spike had an unerring bullshit radar.
“We were not making out. We were just holding hands. I promise. Then you came bursting out of the house like you’d been shot from a cannon, and we said goodnight. That was all.”
He stared at her, brows knitted, but finally his stance relaxed. He ran a hand over his face and sighed, then sat down on the bed, limbs sprawled every which way. The mattress bowed beneath his unfamiliar weight as he motioned to Dawn. She sat down next to him and splayed her long legs out in front of her, unconsciously mimicking his pose.
“Did I really scare you?” she asked at last.
“No. I was thinking if you had gone and got yourself eaten, I’d be able to listen to some decent music for a change. And shower without finding hair in the drain.”
“You leave hair in the drain too,” Dawn mumbled. “It’s just so light you can’t see it.”
“It’s so light you can’t see it. Vampire, remember?” He tapped his temple.
They sat in silence for a few more minutes, until Dawn said something under her breath, so low that Spike had to strain to hear it.
“Why do you care, anyway?”
“Because teenage boys are nasty, worthless gits and if you let one put his hands on you again, I’ll remove his bones from his body one by one.”
“You couldn’t. You’re chipped, remember?” She leaned over and tapped his temple, mocking his earlier action.
That wasn’t entirely correct – in the sense that it was completely wrong – but Spike wasn’t about to get into that right now. Instead, he recalled something he had told Harmony a while back. Fleetingly, he wondered what that silly bint was up to now.
“It’d hurt like hell for about two hours. Tyler would be dead just a little longer than that.”
“That’s not funny.”
“You’ve obviously never seen a good evisceration, then. Better than ‘The Simpsons’, if you do it right.”
He shifted around to face her, and all traces of humor were gone from his face. He stared at her intently, and Dawn almost shivered. How had Buffy been able to resist that gaze? Slayer strength, she guessed.
“No boys,” he told her. “Not riding in cars, or holding hands, or milkshakes at the drive-in. If you want to talk to these fellows, do it at school.”
“But they’ll think I’m a total freak!”
“They’ll think you’re special. Unattainable. Guys like that, by the way.”
She sighed dramatically, then asked: “So when can I start dating?”
He considered this a moment. “When I’m dead.”
She stared at him. “But you’re immortal.”
“I think you’re being very unreasonable,” she said stiffly.
“I’m Vampire Version 1.0. Reasonable only comes with the as-yet-unreleased Vampire 2.0. Sucks to be you, huh, Nibblet?”
“Janice is allowed to date.”
“I don’t care about Janice,” he replied instantly.
And you care about me? Dawn wanted to ask. Or am I just another offering on your shrine to Buffy?
She knew what was going on. She wasn’t a kid anymore, not since that crazyawfulelectricbright night on the tower. They were survivors, she and Spike, shell-shocked and still a little jumpy. He was hanging on to her tightly, so tightly, afraid that if he let go she would slip away for good.
What she didn’t know was whether Spike was just grabbing blindly or if he truly cared about her. Maybe she was nothing more than his promise to Buffy. Maybe that’s all she was to any of them – leftovers.
Spike could see that Dawn was about to speak and wanted to forestall another argument. “It’s up to you. Either you regretfully decline Tyler and anybody else who comes along, or I show up and make their acquaintance. According to you, I can embarrass you without even trying, so imagine if I actually put some effort into it.”
She pouted, and he waited for her to flounce to the bathroom, her favorite sulking spot, and slam the door shut. But she remained. The darkened bedroom was silent but for the steady sound of her breathing, and Spike found himself lulled into complacency by it. Occasionally a car’s headlights would pierce the darkness, and illuminate the family photos set on her dresser. The smiles of Joyce and Buffy glinted, and Spike allowed himself to think that they were smiling at him in long-sought-after approval.
That was impossible, he knew. He sometimes thought that a pack of wolves could do a better job raising Dawn than he could. She had picked him, though, and now there was no way he was letting her go. Not to Social Services, not to her absentee father and not to some pimply hulk of testosterone with a car and a one-track mind.
When had she wormed her way into his heart? Long before Buffy died, certainly. Maybe when he found her kneeling at her mother’s grave, full of grief and blind purpose. Maybe when he heard her breath catch as he told her what he now fondly remembered as ‘the coal-bin tale’.
Or maybe it had been the first time he saw her – really saw her.
Buffy’s family and friends had accepted her presence without question. The monks had sewn memories of Dawn seamlessly into the fabric of their lives, and that was why her true origins had been such a shock and, Spike imagined, something of a betrayal as well.
Spike, however, had always known that Dawn didn’t fit.
Oh, it wasn’t like he had taken one look at her and thought, ‘Eh? Last time I checked, the Slayer was an only child. What else could explain that pissy attitude?’ But when he had first glimpsed Dawn, trotting sullenly after Buffy in braids and colored sneakers, his mind rebelled. There was always something niggling at him, some essential bit of data just out of reach, and it had something to do with that wide-eyed child. The niggling became stronger when he ‘remembered’ Dawn – sneaking out of her bedroom in footie pajamas while Spike insisted that Drusilla escape the Wrath of Buffy unscathed; swiping marshmallows from his hand as he sniffled into his hot chocolate; visiting with him in Giles’ bathroom when Buffy had babysitting duty. He hadn’t cared enough to pursue the matter, though, and if Buffy had started calling a regurgitating Frovlax demon ‘sis’ Spike would have shrugged and gone back to plotting her gruesome demise.
So he ignored the niggling, until that night at the Magic Box. Apparently the monk-mojo lacked potency when applied to demons. Spike supposed that somewhere in L.A., Angel also had a ‘D’oh!’ moment. Then again, Peaches had never been much in the brains department. Haircut like that had to affect a man’s cerebral cortex.
When he realized the enormity of their discovery, Spike had felt the strangest stirrings of emotion, almost against his will. Dawn had stared at him and then at the book in his lap, her eyes bright with unshed tears. He had known in that moment that he would protect her, protect her in a way he would never protect the rest of Buffy’s irritating little cadre. Protect her even in a way different from the way he protected Buffy.
He watched now as Dawn made scuffs in the carpet with the toe of her shoe. “You’re going to look pretty silly scaring guys off when I’m, like, thirty,” she said.
“When you’re, like, thirty I’ll have had fifteen years to convince you that boys are evil, and you’ll have learned to accept my wisdom in such matters. And, after a proper amount of reflection and investigation, I may permit you to see a suitable young man. An accountant, maybe. Or a eunuch.”
“See?” he said. “Now you’re getting it. You just ride that train of thought right into the station.”
“Will you really be around when I’m thirty?”
He sat up and stubbed out the cigarette in the earring dish beside Dawn’s bed, ignoring her shriek of protest. “Immortality will be kind of lame if I’m not able to torture you the whole time,” he replied.
There was a flash of movement and then Spike was propelled back against the headboard. He found himself with a lapful of Dawn. Her hair was tickling his mouth and her arms were wrapped a little too tightly around his neck and her knee was pressing his belt buckle uncomfortably into his ribs. And all he could think, as he pressed his forehead to hers and rocked her to him, was, Well.
This is just…neat.