Summary: The memories of Spike the monks gave Dawn for “Becoming,” “Lover’s Walk,” and “Something Blue,” plus some memories I gave her for S5 and post-“The Gift.” Set just before “Bargaining.” Dawn’s POV.
Disclaimer: Who, me? I don’t know any of these people.
Distribution: You want it, you got it. Just let me know.
Rating: PG-13 (It would have been G, but Dawn said the A-word!)
Thanks: To Bridget for her lightning-quick beta – you always know how to tweak things so that they are just right. This one is dedicated to Deb – happy birthday!
That’s how he seemed to her that first night. She had heard Buffy talking about Spike plenty of times before, knew he was supposed to be a serious baddie, but there he stood on the front lawn, helping Buffy make up stupid fibs about how they knew each other so that she wouldn’t get in trouble. He winked at Dawn while Buffy and her mom argued about Buffy being the Slayer. And while she hid on the stairs trying to overhear what was going on, he shot her grins from the living room where he was sitting with her mom in awkward silence.
Dawn was confused by Spike right from the start. He was supposed to be evil, but there he was, helping Buffy plan to take Angel out and save the world. Spike was tough to figure out, and Dawn thought that vampires weren’t *supposed* to be tough to figure out. Well, there was Angel, of course, but he was special, what with the whole soul vs. no soul thing. But average vampires weren’t supposed to be tricky. They bit people until Buffy staked them. End of story. Only Spike’s story seemed to have a few more chapters than everybody else’s.
Dawn had been home the night a half-drunk Spike showed up at the house the following year, smelling strangely singed and mumbling about his eternal love with Drusilla and how she had dumped him. Her mom had asked him in for hot chocolate. Dawn couldn’t believe her mom thought hot chocolate could cure a vampire’s broken heart, but Mom could be pretty inscrutable herself from time to time.
He’d abruptly cut off his recital of Drusilla’s faults to ask, “You got any of those little marshmallows?”
“Let me check,” her mom answered.
“Yeah, I want little marshmallows too,” Dawn chimed in.
Spike glared at her. He obviously wasn’t in a sharing mood.
“So if you wanted Drusilla back, why didn’t you just kick this Chaos demon’s ass?” Dawn asked innocently, stirring her hot chocolate.
“Dawn!” her mom reprimanded sharply.
“Oi, Little Bit, watch the language!” Spike put in and then seemed to stop short in horror.
Dawn was annoyed. Why did a vampire care if the Slayer’s little sister swore like a sailor? Shouldn’t he have encouraged any sign of moral decay in her that he could? Some Big Bad he was. He must be drunker than she thought, Dawn decided.
While her mother continued to root through the cabinets for marshmallows, Dawn sulked at the double censure. Then she leaned in closely to Spike and continued, “Or did you think he was gonna kick your skinny little butt?”
“Oh, no, I could have ripped his head clean off,” he breathed in her ear. “And since I didn’t, it just so happens that I’ve got a lot of pent-up hostility lookin’ to be unleashed.” She stiffened at the truly terrifying note in his voice but tried to shrug disinterestedly. She felt a glimmer of pride when he shot her a look of admiration. He knew she was scared but admired her trying not to be. Points for her.
Their fun had been interrupted by Angel’s arrival. She tried to stifle a laugh as Spike taunted Angel by making fang faces behind her mom, and he kept flashing brilliant smiles at her...right until Buffy showed up and power slammed him onto the table. That was the end of that.
Dawn remembered, too, the surreal night of the shortest-lived engagement in history. Something that bizarre tended to stay with you, like one of the particularly memorable episodes of “The Twilight Zone.” Like that one with the pig people.
“Dawn!” The voice on the other end of the phone had been so altered by euphoria that it took Dawn a moment to place it.
“Is Mom there?” Buffy asked.
“No, she called to say she’d be late at the gallery.” And her absence was directly responsible for the failed invention mac and cheese pizza. It had seemed so promising...
“Darn,” Buffy replied, crestfallen. Then she continued brightly. “Well, then you’ll just get to find out before she does!”
“Find out what?” Dawn asked curiously. Must be something good if it had her in such a happy mood.
“I’m getting married!”
“Nuh-uh!” Dawn exclaimed. “Who? When? Did Angel come back or something?”
“Nope, *so* not Angel.” Dawn could have sworn she heard a menacing growl in the background before Buffy continued. “You’ll never guess!”
Buffy’s enthusiasm was getting infectious. “Tell me! Do I know him?”
“Of course! You think I’d marry some stranger? The whole thing has actually been developing for years. I just never saw it until now.”
Oh, my God. “Xander? You’re marrying Xander?” Dawn felt a little sick. *She* wanted to marry Xander.
“Xander?!” There was a burst of laughter on the other end of the phone.
Yup, there was definitely a male someone there with Buffy; Dawn heard someone laughing even louder than Buffy was. The racket had Dawn holding the phone away from her ear, but she felt a lot better: Xander was obviously still a free man – there was no way the thing with Anya was going to work out.
“Okay, not Xander. Where the heck are you, and who’s there with you?” Dawn was starting to get annoyed. She had the feeling that everyone else was in on some joke that she wasn’t privy to.
“I’m at Giles’s.”
“YOU’RE MARRYING MR. GILES?!?” Dawn shrieked. “He’s, like, so old!”
“I am not marrying Giles, cuz that would be just…gross and wrong, on so many levels,” Buffy stated firmly. Dawn heard Buffy shushing the snickering voice in the background again.
“Well, then who is it?” Dawn demanded.
“Ha ha, Buffy. Very funny. For a minute there I thought you said you were marrying Spike.” Now it was Dawn’s turn to laugh. “Who is it really?”
“What would be so funny about me marrying Spike?” Buffy asked, sounding hurt.
“Buffy, are you on crack?” Mom always talked about the drugs, and Dawn flashbacked to those old egg-and-pan PSAs: This is Buffy’s brain. This is Buffy’s brain on drugs. Any questions?
“No, I am most certainly not on crack,” Buffy retorted indignantly. The she stifled a giggle. “Or maybe I am – I’m high on the crack of love!”
Dawn rolled her eyes. She heard the voice in the background groaning at the quip (obviously showing the future groom’s good taste, Dawn thought) and then demanding the phone.
“Pint-sized? You still there?”
Holy crap, it really was Spike.
“What the heck is going on over there? I want answers, and I want them right now, mister!” She tried on her most authoritative voice. Dawn thought how ridiculous it was that she seemed to have been cast in the role of the adult in this little farce.
“I proposed, your sister accepted, we’re gettin’ married,” Spike answered proudly, as if that explained everything.
Was that Buffy singing “Goin’ to the Chapel” (badly off-key) in the distance?
They both sounded so...happy. It was a little disturbing. “Not really?”
“Yes, really.” He sounded exasperated. “I’m starting to take this lukewarm response personally, pet.”
“I thought you wanted to kill Buffy, not marry her,” Dawn pointed out.
“Oh, that.” Dawn could almost picture the dismissive wave of his hand that accompanied the words. “Ancient history.”
“Spike, it was a couple of weeks ago! Heck, it was probably a couple of hours ago.”
“Okay, so recent history, but still history. Besides, I wouldn’t ever have done it. I’ve always loved her. Deep down. Knew it from the very first time I saw her.”
Dawn thought she heard Buffy say quietly “You did?” And yup, there was the unmistakable sound of kissage.
“Ahem.” Dawn cleared her throat loudly.
“Uh, sorry about that. Where was I?” Spike sounded a little out of breath. How did a vampire sound out of breath? Dawn didn’t think she wanted to know what kind of tonsil hockey made that possible.
“You love Buffy?” Dawn prompted.
“Right. I love Buffy, and she loves me,” he finished triumphantly.
Heck, maybe it was true. Spike and Buffy had always fought like cats and dogs, and that had to be a sign of something. Dawn remembered talking to Buffy when she was younger about why boys always did stupid stuff like pull your hair and hit you, and Buffy had replied mysteriously that it was a sure sign they liked you. If that was true, Dawn thought, Spike must be absolutely crazy about Buffy.
“You’re really getting married?” Dawn asked. Hey, this could be kind of fun. Surprising and more than a little strange, but fun.
“Yup, ceremony’s gettin’ planned even as we speak. Which reminds me to ask how you’d feel about being part of the festivities.”
“You want me to be in the wedding?” she squealed. “You don’t want me to be the flower girl, do you?” she asked apprehensively.
“‘Course not. You’re way too big for that. You’ll be a bridesmaid. If you want, that is.” He suddenly sounded nervous and little vulnerable. It was kind of cute.
“I want, I want!” Dawn said gleefully.
“You’ll see. Everything’ll be different now. We’ll be a family, me and Buffy and you and your mom.”
A family. It sounded too good to be true. It’d been so long since she felt like she’d been part of a real family. Dawn loved her mom and Buffy, but it wasn’t like Buffy had been around that much since she’d left for school. On top of that, Dawn still felt the large, dad-sized hole left by the divorce. And okay, so Spike wasn’t gonna be a *dad* figure (cuz that would be totally “Outer Limits”), and he was a vampire, and a vampire in the family, kinda weird. Still, he sounded so sincere…
Of course, the whole thing *had* been too good to be true, some stupid spell, and all Buffy and Spike did for a long time afterwards was scowl at each other. Dawn didn’t see too much of Spike after that.
Not until Glory showed up. Then he seemed to be around all of the time. He was always trying to help for some reason, and wonder of wonders, Buffy seemed pretty okay about letting him. Right up until that stupid stunt with Drusilla and the kidnapping. Dawn was indignant about it on Buffy’s behalf just like everyone else, but more than that, she was disappointed in him and that made her annoyed with herself for forgetting what everyone said he was.
And then her mom had died. There was so much pain that Dawn could actually hear it; it was loud. It hurt so much that she didn’t think she could bear it, so she had come up with the crazy plan to bring her mom back.
She remembered the night that Spike had volunteered to help. She wondered if he was doing it to get in good with Buffy and been stunned when he demanded that Buffy never find out anything about it. Of course, the whole idea was stupid and definitely not what her mom would have wanted, and luckily, she figured that out just in time.
He was still been tending the wound inflicted by the Ghora when she opened the door to his crypt after she had destroyed the picture and broken the spell.
He looked at her expectantly for a fraction of a second, and then his face fell. “It didn’t work.”
“Mom’s gone,” was all she could get out before the tears starting flowing again. She thought she was all cried out, but it suddenly felt like she was nowhere close.
Spike crossed the room quietly and stood in front her. He raised a hand hesitantly, and it hovered motionless for an instant above her head. Dawn drew a ragged, snotty breath and stared at him. He looked as heartbroken as she felt. And then his hand settled on her hair, and he stepped forward to take her in his arms.
He’d never really touched her before. She almost got the sense that he didn’t think he could, that it wasn’t his right to touch her. Maybe even that he was a little afraid to touch her, which was a stupid thought because he was Spike and Spike wasn’t afraid of anything. When the moment passed, she knew he’d go back to keeping his distance. But just then, in the face of their mutual grief, the rules didn’t seem to apply.
Dawn had always wondered if Spike would feel weird or kind of creepy. He was a *corpse* after all. When she was younger, Dawn had touched that dead cat Buffy had found in the basement. It had felt rigid and void, empty. It had that certain unmistakable feel of death to it.
But Spike didn’t feel dead to her. He felt strong and solid and alive, and she clutched him to her, burying her face in the lapels of his coat. She inhaled deeply the lingering scents of cigarettes, liquor, and leather and found them strangely comforting even though she really didn’t like the smell of any of those things.
It wasn’t supposed to be real. That’s what everyone said. All of it was just a put-on, a way to get into Buffy’s good graces. Xander didn’t even need the slightest provocation to launch into a zesty chorus of the “Spike is evil” refrain. And a lot of Dawn’s memories of Spike weren’t real either, just genuine moments from everyone else’s history that the monks had plopped her down in the middle of.
But in his arms, listening to his murmured words of comfort, it all felt real. And maybe that’s all real was: whatever felt real was real. Forget rules and expectations, forget philosophy. She had heard whispered talk of the horrible things Spike had done, but that didn’t seem to be who he was now. Oh, she didn’t doubt that he’d been evil; she had seen him angry, and it was more than a little scary. But he seemed different, softer, and that felt as real to her as anything else in her life.
After that night on the tower when they had lost Buffy, he came into Dawn’s room at night, to watch over her while she was sleeping. She wasn’t sure whether he came for her sake or for his own. He never slept. And when she couldn’t sleep, he told her stories or made her snacks and watched the Late Show with her.
She remembered stealing a glance at him one night, legs carelessly straddling the old fabric-covered chair by the window that always reminded her of her mother. He had a cigarette in his fingers, almost caressing it, obviously desperate to light up but hesitant about doing it in her room. He sighed and moved to return it to his pack when something else caught his attention. His eyes half-closed, he tilted his head to hear better, and Dawn strained to catch a hint of whatever sound it was that had his attention. He stretched his neck to the left and a sudden smile curved his lips upward.
Dawn was puzzled. It had to be Willow and Tara he was hearing, but she couldn’t hear them talking like she usually could. Voices always carried down the hall, and Dawn was used to their little bursts of nighttime laughter. But Spike was definitely listening to them, and that meant that they had to be doing...something else.
Dawn looked again at Spike’s face. He was still smiling, not a lascivious smirk, but a genuinely bemused grin, and it occurred to her that he was happy for them. Happy that Willow and Tara had each other. And okay, it was a little gross and intrusive that he was listening to them, but it was also kind of sweet.
Then the smile disappeared, and he dipped his head low into his hands. She knew he was thinking about Buffy. About how he would never be with her.
Dawn remembered how angry she had been when she found out Spike was in love with Buffy. She felt slighted, like maybe he had never really liked her after all, that he’d only tolerated her because she was Buffy’s sister. But now she really didn’t care anymore. She just wished there was some way to get rid of that haunted look in his eyes. Dawn would be glad to play second fiddle to Buffy again. If only it were possible, she would give up being his girl in a heartbeat.
All those memories brought them to here, to the end of their first summer without Buffy. Somehow Spike had become part of the group, and even though he tried to pretend that it didn’t matter to him, Dawn knew it did. Tara had always had a soft spot for him, but now Willow and Anya seemed to as well. Giles acted glad to have Spike’s help in the whole fight against evil, and even Xander was making an effort to get along with him. Spike had earned more than his stripes in the fight against Glory; he had acquired a little hard-won respect in the process.
More often than not, the nights were spent like this one, the two of them alone in the house, playing cards, watching TV, talking.
This was what he did now. He watched her for Buffy, watched her with eyes so raw and bruised by grief that most days it hurt to look at him. Followed her with an expression that never made her feel guilty that she was the one who had survived instead of Buffy. Oh, she knew that none of the others really blamed her on any kind of rational level, but she could still tell that when they looked at her, all they could see now was Buffy’s absence. Not Spike. When he looked at her, it felt like all he could see was Buffy’s presence. At least she could give that to him.
Dawn looked at him, sitting opposite her, absently chipping black polish off his thumbnail and frowning intently at the cards in his hand.
“You know, I’m really beginning to suspect that you cheat,” Spike stated indignantly, tossing his cards on the table.
“Well, duh,” Dawn retorted, gathering the cards into a pile. “I learned from the best, remember?”
A sudden ghost of a smile passed over his face. “Hand ‘em over. Time to give a fella a chance. I’m dealing the next hand.”
In that moment Dawn figured maybe she knew all she really needed to about Spike. He loved her sister, enough to do things that soulless vampires weren’t supposed to just so that he could honor her memory and keep fighting her fight now that she couldn’t anymore. He liked hot chocolate and spicy buffalo wings and blooming onions. He missed her mom and took her to the cemetery to visit the grave every now and again. He liked watching black and white movies and soap operas. He took care of her like it was the most important thing in the world for him to be doing. He was so bad at hiding his feelings it was almost like being honest.
Funny. He really wasn’t that inscrutable after all.