Buffy bent down and picked up the sword from the grass, tossing it aside. “Next lesson, hand to hand combat. Fun for the whole family.” She turned back to Dawn, raising her fists. “This is a good starting stance. You try it.”
“No. Not right now.” She put her hand on Buffy’s shoulder. “I want you to teach me to fight. I do. But I have to know. How Spike could do that. How you can just brush it off.”
Buffy dropped her hands to her sides. “I’m not brushing it off. It was horrible. I told you, I don’t want to talk about it. Not to you. Not to anyone.”
“But Xander said...”
“Xander!” Buffy snapped. “Xander has a lot of nerve. He has no business saying anything to you. Anything to anyone. Not after...” She cut herself off.
“After what? Xander said he found you in the bathroom, crying. That Spike had been there. That he tried...that he hurt you. And it’s so hard, Buffy. So hard to think of him doing that. But if Xander said...”
“What? That Spike tried to rape me? That big hypocrite!” She caught her breath. “Please, please let’s change the subject.”
“What happened? What aren’t you telling me? Why are you shutting me out?” Dawn was so frustrated, almost connecting with her sister, then feeling it slip away. “Why is Xander a hypocrite?”
“Because he tried to rape me!” Buffy turned away, tears stinging her eyes. “Oh, God.”
Dawn stared at her sister. “What? What are you talking about? Xander?”
“It was a long time ago. He wasn’t himself. There was this hyena spirit...” Buffy sat on the grass, suddenly looking very small. “I’d put it out of my mind. He said he didn’t remember. Maybe he didn’t. I thought I’d forgotten, too.”
Dawn sat beside her, taking her hand. “It’s okay, Buffy. You don’t have to talk about it. I didn’t know.” She startled as her sister buried her head in her shoulder, crying.
“I need to talk about it. Let me.” Dawn’s hand was soothing as she stroked Buffy’s hair. “When Spike was in the bathroom, straddling me, and I was trying to just get him off, I looked up, and I could see Xander again, feel his breath on my face, just for a split second. What is it about me?”
“Oh, Buffy, it’s not your fault. Don’t cry.”
“I pushed Spike off, before he could do anything. Kicked him off. He seemed to snap out of it. I could tell he was sorry.” She tried to sniff back her tears. “But it was too late. He’d tried what he’d tried.” She rubbed her eyes. “And now he’s gone.”
“You took me to the crypt. Does that mean you’ve forgiven him?” Dawn helped her sister to her feet.
“I forgave Xander. Told myself it was the demon in him. He wasn’t responsible.” She shook out her hair and ran her fingers through it, tried to compose herself. “But Spike’s a vampire. He has a demon too. Is a demon. Whatever. It’s so damn complicated.”
“Everyone says that, so it must be true.” Dawn smiled at her sister. “We’ll deal with it when he gets back. I know you’ll explain more, when you’re ready. But the Spike I know, he’s not a bad person. And he loves you.”
“I know that, too. That he loves me.” She smiled back. “You’re getting to be a pretty smart cookie, you know that?” She reached out her arms, and Dawn embraced her. “It’s good to have a sister.”
“Yeah.” Dawn pulled back. “Enough with the mush. Teach me how to trash someone.”