Rating: NC-17 overall
A/N: Thanks to everyone who commented on the last bit! It's always nice to know that people are reading and enjoying. Now, on with the show!
Spike’s shout was the first thing Xander heard as he walked in the door. Home sweet home, he thought wryly. God I miss my apartment!
“You don’t use the ablative case whenever you feel like, Bit. Got to be some rhyme and reason to your sentence. Now, go over your cases again and think!”
Spike had moved in to the Summers’ house only a day or two after Buffy died. Giles had quickly gained guardianship of Dawn, with the help of a few “favors”. Apparently, the Big Bad still ruled the demon world. Shortly after the final paperwork went through, Giles had fled to England. Stammering apologies, he explained that he didn’t see much use in remaining when his reason for being there was…gone. So, it fell to Spike and Xander to take of Dawn and the Hellmouth, with back up from two witches.
“Good girl, Dawn! Accusative case is what you’re needing here. Now, let me see your Plato.”
Everyone worked now, with extra money going to support Spike and Dawn. There was still a chunk of Joyce’s insurance money left, but a chipped vampire and a growing teenage girl would run through that pretty quickly without an active income source. Willow and Tara lived in the dorms still, but Giles had given them the Magic Box to run before he left. He took 10% of the profits and the girls kept the rest. Xander had been promoted to foreman and sublet his apartment. No sense in keeping it when he could live at Buffy’s house. He helped pay the mortgage, so why not?
“Dawn, we went over the difference between ancient and archaic Greek yesterday. You got it all jumbled here. Might try paying attention once in awhile. Could actually learn something that way.”
Spike had refused to allow Dawn to attend regular school. With a raised eyebrow, he had simply pointed out how much trouble a mystical key could have at Hellmouth High. Besides, she wouldn’t get a proper education at that institute of ‘lower learning’ and, his most pressing point, he couldn’t protect her there. He and Giles had spent the better part of a day arguing. Finally, Spike dragged the Watcher off to the basement. When they came back, Giles said that Spike was more than qualified to instruct Dawn and henceforth, she’d be home schooled.
“Nah, wasn’t drugs that did Baudelaire in. Got himself addicted to vampires is all. Killed him in the end, but gave him a bit more inspiration than absinthe. Interesting analysis though. Next time remember to use the other books, too. No sense in having them if you don’t use them.”
Only on the Hellmouth, Xander reflected, would a hundred year old vampire be tutoring a girl made from an older than time ball of energy on vampirically influenced poetry. Plus, he taught her human and demonic languages, history, and math. Spike professed to be completely incapable of teaching science, so Willow dropped off weekly lessons.
Xander made his way upstairs, heading for the shower.
Dawn was thriving. Sure, she missed her friends and a normal life. But as she had pointed out, a normal life for her was being green and glowy. So, she figured this was a step up. Xander stripped, turning on the shower. He stepped in, the water beating down on him and blending with the background noise of his new life. He leaned forward, bracing himself on the shower wall. His hand moved purposefully down his body, gripping and tugging his erection. He jacked himself passionlessly, more interested in release than in pleasure. In a few short minutes he came, dribbles of milky white fluid mixing with the water.
He scrubbed himself clean and stepped out of the shower. He toweled off in front of the mirror, wondering about the guy in the mirror. His body was lean and hard, his shaggy hair framed his face and his eyes were tired. Oh, it’s me. Xander couldn’t remember the last time he’d looked at himself. No, that wasn’t right. He looked at himself all the time, but he rarely ever saw himself.
No point. No one to love, no one to notice. He jerked off because he needed to cum, but it rarely felt good. Nothing felt good any more. It bothered him that his hair was so long. Anya had always…she hated when his hair got shaggy. Said it made him look untidy and as a result, he was a “less visually appealing sex partner”. Now, his hair could grow down to his ass and it didn’t matter to anyone.
Sighing, he turned away from the stranger in the mirror. Rubbing a hand over his face, he grabbed some clothes. Didn’t matter if they matched or made him look good, just so long as he got covered. No sense in scarring the Dawnster for life with his naughty bits.
“Don’t care if you don’t like broccoli, Niblet. You’ll eat it or you’ll be hungry.”
A pause, a small sound that meant Dawn was arguing her case. Arguing and probably losing, if Xander knew Spike. Spike was determined to do right by Dawn. In the beginning, Xander figured he would do all the work and Spike would just be muscle. But Spike had become, in a very real sense, Dawn’s parent. He…cared, Xander admitted.
One night, after a particularly vicious demon attack, Xander asked Spike why he was so involved. After all, wasn’t Dawn just another Happy Meal with legs? The Big Bad as Daddy just didn’t ring true. Spike had snarled, and Xander knew it was only the chip that kept Spike from taking his head off.
“She’s mine. My girl, and I’ll do right by her. Nothing’s gonna hurt a hair on her head.”
“Yeah, yeah, I got it. But, why? Why do you care,” Xander had pressed, the need for answers overriding his fear.
“Love her,” Spike replied. “Love her more than I loved anyone besides my own Mum. And I owe it to Joyce and Buffy.”
“Two fine ladies,” Spike whispered. “Treated me like a man, and gave me kindness I had no right to expect. Dawn’ll grow up right and live a good long life.”
Spike had sighed then, his face growing taut with…what? Grief, Xander supposed. It looked an awful lot like grief.
“Harris, I’m evil, yeah? When somebody finally dusts me, I’m goin’ straight to Hell. But, maybe I’ll get to see Joyce and Buffy before the eternal torment bit. An’ if I do, I’ll be able to look’em in the eye and tell’em I did my best for our girl,” Spike whispered. “Gave my word and I plan on keepin’ it.”
Xander strolled into the kitchen, pressing a quick kiss to Dawn’s forehead. She was pouting. The Summers’ pout, always a Xan-man weak spot. That thing should be registered as a lethal weapon. It brought strong men to their knees and was accurate to fifty paces.
“Xander, Spike’s making me eat broccoli,” Dawn moaned tragically. “Broccoli is, like, the most disgusting vegetable on the planet.”
“Nah,” Xander disagreed. “Brussel sprouts, hands down.”
“Sod all of you,” Spike grumbled. “Cooked cabbage and that’s final. Now, you two eat before it gets cold.”
Xander slid into the seat next to Dawn and picked up his fork. The fact that Spike knew how to cook had freaked him out. Spike being a good cook was even wiggier. But, the truly disturbing thing was that Spike cared about what they ate and if they ate. The first time Spike had told him to lay off the junk before he gave himself a heart attack, Xander had rushed to the books; certain this was a sign of another apocalypse. Now, it was just a fact of his life. His new life, the one without Anya or Buffy or Giles. The one where he was alone and responsible for a teenage girl and a chipped vampire. The new life that was emptier than the old one. He chewed mechanically, forcing the food past the sudden lump in throat.