Author: Kat Lee
Dedicated To: Happy Birthday, feliciacraft!!
Fandom: Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Character/Pairing: Spike, Dawn, mentioned Spike/Buffy
Word Count: 1,121
Date Written: 8 August 2016
Disclaimer: All characters within belong to Whedon, not the author, and are used without permission.
They have lain together for hours when the sun finally goes down. Dawn stretches on top of Spike but doesn't lift her head from his chest. She remembers when she was first becoming accustomed to the idea that she could lay her head on his chest and not feel the soft rise and fall of breathing or hear a steady heartbeat beneath her ear. He doesn't have a heart, and he doesn't have to breathe. She remembers calling him a monster, but he's become more human than most of the actual human beings she knows, especially the kids from school.
It's funny, she thinks, how far their friendship has come. It wasn't that very long ago that she called him a monster and believed he was one because he did try to rape her sister, but he isn't the same man now that he was then. It's also not just because of his soul. There are plenty of people in the world -- actual rapists, serial killers, and more -- who have souls but feel so much less than he does. It's a good thing, she thinks, that he doesn't have a heart, because if he did, it would never stop hurting.
His fingers thread through her long, brown hair, but he's not touching her in a way that means he wants sex. Their relationship isn't like that. There's more to being close to a guy without sex being involved, despite what Anya's told her, and despite Willow's advice, the male gender can feel and hurt every bit as much as women do. His touch is comforting, and she leans her head into it while being careful not to actually lift herself from his chest. If she moves, he'll think it's time they both be on their way, and she isn't ready. She sighs aloud at the thought, prompting instant concern.
"It's nothing," she says and shakes her head against his smooth, slightly muscular, and cold skin. He somehow manages to feel cold on the hottest of days, and yet his embrace offers more reassuring warmth than any other she's known since she was little. Except -- Dawn's face screws up with thought -- she never was actually little. She wasn't raised by Buffy's father or their mother. She didn't have a childhood. The things she remembers, the embraces and comforts she recalls, never actually existed.
"Come on, pet," he says, smoothing her hair. "You know I know better."
"I know . . . I just . . . I don't want to talk about it, okay?" She pouts. "And I really don't want to go home."
"It's getting to be that time. Slayer'll be worried about you."
"She could show it sometime," Dawn mutters. They're supposed to be sisters. She knows they're not, but it would be nice for Buffy to act genuinely concerned for her just once.
"You know that's not the way it is."
"It's the way it feels," she murmurs.
"Dawn, you have a family who loves you."
"No, I don't. They're not really my family. Spike," she whines, "I told you I didn't want to talk about this."
"Okay," he relents, running his fingers gently through her locks. "But it's true, ya know. I'd give anything to have what you have for just one night: a mum and a sister, blood or not, that love me."
"She doesn't -- "
"Do you know how many times I've heard her say to herself she's got to pull through a fight for you? I've seen it in her eyes, too. She'll be fighting a losing battle, pet, getting her butt royally kicked. She's tired, you know; she just doesn't let most people see it. Some nights, she wants to go. She just wants the fight to be over. And then she thinks of you, and she's back to fighting, give the fight everything she can not just to save the world. The world comes second to her world, and that's you, and your mum, and all your little Scooby friends. But especially you, Nibblet." His body seems to sag underneath her, and it's with great sorrow in his voice that she hears him whisper again, "I'd give anything for that."
"Spike, I -- "
"Never had it, you know," he continues, knowing she heard him. "Most people don't. You're very lucky, Dawn. People have family. I had a family. But family doesn't always love like yours does, pet. I thought my mum loved me, and when I turned her, I found out just what she really thought of me."
She doesn't register any surprise that he turned his own mother; she understands instantly instead that he just wanted her to be with him even in his life as a Vampire. But she never loved him. She's heard him talk, too, of his times with Angelus, Drusilla, and Darla. They certainly loved him. She's never heard Buffy talk the way he described to her just a few seconds ago, but now she wonders. Maybe her sister does love her. Maybe her fight isn't all about saving the world. Maybe it is about saving her too, even if just a little bit.
"Spike -- " she starts again but stops. Emotions are toiling within her, and there's still so much of her own feelings that she doesn't really understand. But maybe, she thinks again, just maybe, he's right. Maybe her sister does love her, and she'll be worried if she can't find her when she gets home.
"Thank you," she finds herself saying. She leans up, looks into his eyes, and sees so much emotion shining in his own dark pools. There's a lot about his emotions, too, now that he's no longer evil, that she knows he also doesn't understand. Maybe, with time, they can figure them out together, but gazing at him now, she suddenly understands one thing. She grins wide as she leans down toward him, her hair falling to one side. "You're the best big brother a girl could have," she tells him confidently and presses a quick, warm kiss to his cheek before darting out of his lair and toward home.
Spike lays there for a moment longer after she's left. He raises two fingers to the spot she kissed on his cheek that's still tingling with her warmth and love. A slow but warm smile spreads across his handsome face. Maybe he does have a little bit of a family, he thinks, after all. Still grinning, he raises from his crypt and chases after her. She won't know he's following her -- he'll let her think she's her own girl --, but he'll keep her safe on her way back to her family. He'll always keep his little sister safe.