Pairing: S/X, established relationship
Rating: PG13 - NC-17 Individual chapters will carry specific warnings.
Feedback & concrit: yes, please
Disclaimer: don't own them, never will, just playing with them
Spoilers: Primarily season 5, but anything from Season 1 on.
Summary: sequel to Nothing the Same , Books 1 - 3
Previous parts here
That obviously went well.
Spike could have been a half mile away and still heard the angry screaming. L’il Bit had a voice that could shatter glass when she was upset.
Rupert had returned from England, reporting that the Council didn’t know anything about Glory, or anything like her, but had agreed to look into it. He had rather grimly reported that the Council had been very interested in the Key and were full of theories about where it could have been hidden. He’d hurriedly reassured the white-faced Buffy that most of the Council’s theories were nonsensical but the idea of that bunch of cold-blooded wankers stumbling over the information that Dawn was the Key had been enough to push the Slayer into action. He’d overheard Buffy telling her Watcher that she would break the news to Dawn this weekend. Friday night, she’d decided, to give Dawn as much time as possible to adjust before she had to go back to school on Monday.
Which was why he’d been outside the house on Revello Drive since a few minutes after sunset, leaning against a tree and smoking, waiting to see if the Slayer kept her promise.
Rupert had also contacted the Coven for help while he was in England. They hadn’t heard of Glory either, but Spike was not happy with the fact that the secret had been spread further - especially to a bunch of witches. Too many people were learning about the Key’s existence and Spike didn’t trust most magic workers. Power hungry, the lot of them. And the Key was supposed to be pure energy, just waiting for someone to figure out how to tap into it.
From the screaming and slamming doors, loud enough to be audible to humans from where he stood, Dawn wasn’t taking the news well.
He waited, curious to see how they handled the temper tantrum, and growled in exasperation when he saw Dawn climbing out the window. Slayer should have anticipated that, given how many times she’d used the same exit.
He flicked away his cigarette and watched the girl climb down the white painted trellis, hearing the wood creak even under her slight weight. He smirked, it was apparent this wasn’t the first time she’d traveled this route, making it to the ground with the ease of someone who’d done it before.
Or watched someone else do it, he thought in annoyance. Slayer should have been more careful that her kid sister wasn’t watching when she was making her own clandestine escapes, even if she hadn’t actually had a sister back then. Unlike Xander, he wasn’t troubled by the paradoxes of Dawn’s existence. She was here now and that was enough for him. He had no problem with blaming her older sister for things she hadn’t actually done.
He stepped out of the shadows just as Dawn reached the ground. The girl backed away from the house, keeping a cautious eye out for watching relatives, then relaxed and turned around, coming to a sudden halt with a squeak of surprise when she almost ran into him.
“Spike!” she gasped. “Jeez! Lurk much? What are you doing here?”
Spike shrugged. “Passing by,” he said casually. “Heard the shouting. From the sound of it, thought you all were being attacked by a seshantii demon.” He gave Dawn a feral grin. “Nearly kicked in your door, thinking I’d join the party.” He glanced up at the window and frowned at the sight of flames beginning to shed their flickering light on the walls of the bedroom. “Burning the place down, Niblet?”
“It’s just in the trash can,” Dawn told him, crossing her arms defensively. “You sure fuss a lot for a vampire. Thought you were supposed to be evil.” Despite the bravado, Dawn cast an uneasy glance back up at the bedroom.
“Been known to enjoy a spot of arson now and then myself,” Spike told her, lighting another cigarette to give himself a moment to think. “Just wasn’t sure you were up to torching your own house.”
Dawn shifted uncomfortably, and opened her mouth to say something. Just then, they heard the sound of the Slayer yelling for Joyce.
“Guess they got it under control,” he told Dawn, sending a long puff of smoke skyward. “Where you headin?”
He cocked his scarred eyebrow at her. “Pretty vague destination. All number of beasties between here and away,” he said, letting a hint of predator into his voice, then frowned at her, more serious now. “And I don’t see a single bloody weapon on you, Bit. Taught you better than that, didn’t I?”
“I can take care of myself,” she told him stiffly.
“Not without weapons, you can’t,” he said bluntly. “Even with them, shouldn’t be wandering around at night when you’re upset.”
“Who says I’m upset?”
He just raised an eyebrow. “Vampire, luv. Can smell it on you. What’s got your knickers in a twist?” he asked casually, as if he didn’t know.
“I don’t want to talk about it,” she said, looking away. The faint scent of salty tears drifted in the night air.
“Fine by me. But we should be moving on if we don’t want big sis catching up with you.”
Dawn didn’t answer, her face still averted, but she set off across the lawn, heading away from the house. Spike fell into step beside her, content to wait. Dawn couldn’t keep a secret to save her life. She’d start talking, soon as she was ready.
They walked in silence for long minutes, Spike unobtrusively steering the girl to the quieter areas of town, those rarely frequented by harmful demons. Walking along the sidewalks, past well-groomed lawns and in and out of the pools of light cast by the streetlamps, Spike kept a wary ear out for trouble, but they seemed to be the only ones out in the cool darkness.
“They said I’m not real. I’m not a person. I’m just a thing.”
Dawn’s words broke the long silence, bewildered hurt underlying the surface anger in her tone.
“That right?” he asked calmly, glancing at her. “What are you then?”
She turned to look at him for the first time since they began walking. She’d been crying silently and the tears had left drying tracks down her cheeks. Her eyes were red-rimmed and damp, but the tears were no longer flowing.
“Covers a lot of ground, luv,” he told her. “Most folks think I’m unnatural. Know you’re not a vampire, what did they say you were?”
He was curious what Joyce and Buffy had told Dawn but mostly, he thought she needed to say the words herself.
“Some kind of mystical energy thing,” she said after a moment.
“Seem pretty human to me.”
There was another long silence, and Spike just waited, walking beside the girl, listening to the ordinary sounds of the night: a dog barking several blocks over, tv’s in the houses they passed, a quarrelling couple, their angry voices carrying easily to his ears.
“Why did they have to tell me?” she broke out passionately. “If you can’t tell I’m not human, then no-one else can either. I was happy not knowing.”
“Couldn’t hide it from you forever, Bit. Sooner or later, you would have found out anyway. Would you rather some stranger had told you? Your mum and sister told you because they love you.”
“They’ve got a funny way of showing it.”
“Dawn,” the rare use of her name brought her eyes around to meet his. “They’re trying to keep you safe. Glory’s after the Key. So’re some others. You needed to know.”
She froze, then her puzzled look hardened into a glare. “You already knew, didn’t you?” she accused. Her small fist flashed out and he caught her by the wrist before the blow landed, using just enough force to hold on to her, not enough to hurt her.
“Yeah, known for awhile now. Xander knows too,” he admitted.
Dawn yanked her arm back, trying to get free. “Let go of me,” she snarled in a low, angry voice. When she couldn’t jerk free of his grip, she yelled at him, throwing wild punches with her free hand and kicking at him. He let the blows fall, not trying to check them or avoid them, letting her get it out of her system, just holding on to her so she couldn’t run away.
After a moment, she stopped struggling and glared at him, breathing hard. “Who else knows?” she demanded.
“Let go of me,” she repeated and this time he did.
She stood there, rubbing absently at her wrist. “Do I scare you?” she challenged. “I’m supposed to be really powerful.”
He let out a short bark of surprised laughter. “I’m a demon, Bit. Don’t really care if you’re human or not, or how powerful you are.”
“Figures you’d say that.” She looked down, scuffing one shoe against the sidewalk. “But everyone else is going to look at me like I’m some sort of freak.”
“Not going to lie, Dawn, some people would look at you differently, if they knew. Most everyone: your friends, teachers, and whatnot, they’re not going to know, so don’t worry about them. I’m not human, and I think most humans are boring, so I don’t give a piss if you aren’t human. Xander’s got more demon friends than human, so why would he care if you’re a little more than human? Giles already knows. He treatin’ you any differently?”
Dawn shook her head.
“Only leaves Glinda. Don’t know her all that well, but she’s a classy lady, for all she’s got terrible taste in girlfriends. Can’t see her actin’ any different towards you.”
“But what about mom and Buffy?” It was a tiny, frightened whisper. “I’m not really part of the family. I’m just something they sent to the Slayer, so she could protect me.”
“Bollocks. You’re a Summers, no question. And Summers women are tough. Look what your mum’s just been through. Didn’t see her whining about how tough life was, now did you?”
Dawn shook her head, her hair swinging with the movement of her bent head. “This is different. I’m just a thing. The Key. What am I? Am I real? Am I anything?” Her voice rose louder and louder as she spoke and Spike put both hands on her shoulders, staring down into her eyes until she quieted.
“You’re Joyce’s daughter and Buffy’s sister,” he said forcefully. “Threatened to disembowel me if I told you myself, your mum did,” he told her, exaggerating slightly. “Said this was a family matter and I shouldn’t interfere.”
Dawn looked back at him wide-eyed.
“Now, does that sound like your mum thinks of you any differently? I thought you should have been told right away,” he said. “But your mum and sis wanted to wait, thought you were too young to handle it. Families are like that,” he said casually. “They don’t always see how strong the youngest one is. They just see their baby.” He vaguely remembered that from his human years.
Dawn still looked troubled but, after a moment, she moved forward, throwing her arms around his waist and holding him tightly. Spike hugged her back, stroking her hair, smoothing it with long gentle strokes the same ones he’d once used to calm Drusilla when she was becoming lost in her madness. It seemed to work this time too. Dawn’s tense muscles relaxed and she burrowed deeper into his arms, tears wetting the front of his shirt as she wept silently against his chest.
Dawn wasn’t ready to go home yet, but agreed to let Spike call Xander once Spike pointed out that her mother and sister were probably tearing the town apart looking for her. He fished his seldom used phone out of his pocket and switched it on, calling Xander’s cell phone. From the number of accumulated messages, he knew he was going to be on the receiving end of another lecture about leaving his phone on so Xander could reach him.
“Spike?” Xander’s anxious tones answered almost before the first ring sounded. “Dawn’s missing.”
“Not to worry, luv. She’s safe with me. Tell the Slayer to call off the search.”
“Is she ok?”
Spike glanced down at her and she gave him a wan smile. “Bit out of sorts but she’ll be fine.”
Xander’s relieved sigh was clearly audible. “Buffy wants you to bring her home, immediately,” he said obviously relaying a message.
“Slayer can piss off. Dawn’ll be home when she’s ready.” Spike shut the phone off. He wasn’t getting into an argument with the Slayer about this, even a second-hand one. Xander would understand.
Xander growled as the line went dead. Damn Spike for leaving him in the middle. He slowly closed the phone and turned to face the expectant eyes.
“She’s safe. She’s with Spike. She’s not ready to come home yet.”
“Call him back,” Buffy exclaimed. “She’s 14! She’s got no business wandering around the Hellmouth in the middle of the night.”
“Buffy, it’s 7:00 not the middle of the night,” Xander pointed out. “I imagine she just needs some space after the argument,” he said obliquely, aware that Ethan was taking far too much interest in Buffy’s panic over her missing sister. “Spike won’t let anything happen to her.”
“She could’ve burned the house down!”
“And you can talk to her about that when she gets home.” he suggested. “Maybe after everyone’s calmed down a little.”
“Xander’s right,” Giles said. “You should go home, let your mother know Dawn’s been found. I’m sure Spike will bring her home shortly.”
“He better,” Buffy said grimly.
*A/N - Bits of dialogue borrowed from the episode ’Blood Ties”