Author: Kat Lee
Fandom: Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Character/Pairing: Spike, Dawn, hinted Spike/Buffy and Angel/Buffy
Challenge/Prompt: nekid_spike: Bubbles and Naughty Nursery Rhymes and Feisty Fairy Tales
Word Count: 1,764
Date Written: 19 August 2016
Disclaimer: All characters within belong to Whedon, not the author, and are used without permission.
"Spike, tell me a story."
"Once upon a time -- "
"Not that kind of story! One of your stories. Something you actually lived and survived."
He notes the plea in her voice, and he knows that what she's asking for and what she actually wants are two separate things. She wants something to distract her tonight, something to sound almost like it would if things were okay, if her sister and mother were alive, if it wasn't just the two of them trying to eek out an existence together in a world that will never understand or accept either of them.
Willow and Tara have tried with the girl, but they can't give her what she always finds here. That's why she asked to spend the night with him tonight in his crypt, and the girls knew better than to refuse. At least, she asked this time instead of just disappearing on them and telling him they knew she had come to him, not that he hadn't smelled the lie the second she spoke it.
So he clears his throat and continues, "Once upon a time, there lived a girl who wanted to live." He watches the expressions change on her face and notes the difference in her hair now. It's a little longer than it was this time last year, but it's much darker. All these nights she's been spending with him have caused her to lose the kiss of sunshine that used to dance in her brown locks.
She's watching him with her chin resting on the palm of her right hand. Her eyes are bright and focused on him, and he knows she wants to do anything but do what she needs to now and fall asleep. He can't blame the girl. After all, all slumber holds for either of them now is nightmares.
"She was very much alive, this girl," he continues, "but she didn't feel it. She was too busy abiding her stepmother and stepsisters, catering to their every whim, waiting on them hand and foot to the point that she had no time to herself, not even for bathing which is why her face was so dirty, prompting them to change her name from Cindy to Cinderella."
Dawn giggles, and for just a second, watching the kid's smile, he can forget his own pain. He can forget the real reason why they're together. He can even forget about her sister, all for just a second as her smile, which he hasn't seen in so long, is chased away. "That's not the real reason why they called her Cinderella."
His dark lips lift into a cocky grin. "Who's telling this story, Nibblet?"
"Sorry," she apologizes, and he knows she means it. "Please continue."
He sits on the side of the bed, his bed which he's given to her for another night. "But any way, this family of Cinderella's was always partying, and on one such night when they were off cavorting with royalty, dancing and stuff, Cinderella found herself alone and actually on top of her very long list of chores. The problem was, the poor girl didn't remember how to do anything but work, and she hurt. She hurt so much from constantly being on her feet and working for others, but her heart, too, from the lack of love she'd received ever since her father's death and the death of the life she'd known before her stepfamily."
"She found herself out in the garden, crying for that life that she wanted to get back so badly but didn't know how. You see lives are very fragile things, Nibblet. Once they're gone, they're nearly impossible to get back. But as luck would have it, that night a Fairy Godmother, who thought he was just passing through the area, heard her cry."
"A Fairy Godfather?" Dawn repeats, and he can tell from the way her lips are twitching that she's trying hard not to burst into laughter.
He doesn't say anything aloud, but his look hushes her, even though he'd love to hear her laugh again. "Her sorrow led him to her. He took one look at her crying her beautiful, green eyes out, and he knew, deep down, that he had to help her. So he appeared in front of her, safe, or so he thought, in the bubble in which he drifted down."
Spike nods. "A protective bubble. A traveling bubble. A way to pass swiftly through the world without being affected by it."
"Kind of like Glinda, the good Witch of Oz?"
"I guess you could say that," Spike murmurs, having never actually seen the movie but having heard of it several times over the last few decades. It was one of Red's favorite films and musicals, although he still had no idea why people wanted to sing and dance across a stage as a lion without courage and tiny Munchkins except for the fame, of course. People have always did crazy things to gain fame.
"But he appeared in front of her and he worked hard with her to make her dreams come true."
"He didn't just Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo her?"
"Whatever that means," Spike says with a little scowl, wondering just what Dawn's been watching when he hasn't been around, "no. It takes hard work to make dreams come true, you see, li'l bit, even when magic is involved. You should know that."
Dawn opens her mouth like she wants to say something but then closes it. "So what did he do?"
"He took the girl under his wing. He taught her how to look and act her best, how to seem more than she was, how to save her world -- "
"Why do I not think this story has a happy ending?"
"Because few stories do." He settles back against the wall, and before he can move or think better of his position, Dawn's pressing against him, her head snuggling into his shoulder. He wraps an arm around her and lets her lay her cheek on top of his chest.
"More stories should have happy endings," she murmurs, feeling more content in his embrace and suddenly realizing that she is actually sleepy. "This one should." Her last word is strangled as she suppresses a yawn.
"Maybe it should," he says, shrugging slightly underneath her, "but it doesn't, because you see as the Fairy Godfather was teaching the girl all this, he was forgetting to protect himself. She'd popped his bubble, so to speak. He felt safe around her and thought she could do anything she wanted, even give them both the happy endings for which they'd been seeking."
"But she didn't," Dawn mumbles, and he can practically feel her eyes sliding closed.
"No," he whispers, "because their happy endings were very much different. She found herself a Prince with a face like an Angel to court and became Queen of her land, but the Fairy Godfather had opened himself up to her so much that he'd fallen in love with her, something that never works out between Immortals and mortals, you see."
Dawn's head slides against him, and he knows she's wanting to nod. She probably wants to say something else too, he suspects, like how love between Slayers and Vampires is never supposed to work out, but she's too far gone now to speak. He smoothes his hand down her back and lowers his voice.
"So the girl who the Fairy Godfather had worked so hard to help found her happy ending. She became Queen and had all that she ever wanted, including a Prince to dote on her every bidding as she had on her stepmother and stepsisters who were banished to the furthest and dustiest part of the kingdom. But the Fairy Godfather had to watch the one he loved find her happy ending without him. He felt the pain of life from which his bubble had, for so very long, protected him, and he was helpless to stop the sorrow. So the motto of this story is be careful who you help, because you might just get burned in the process."
But Dawn doesn't hear his last words. She's fast asleep. Her soft snores echo in his crypt. He threads his fingers softly through her long, brown hair and thinks again of her sister. He recalls what Dawn said earlier, about how more stories should have happy endings, but he remembers the original fairy tales that the Grimm Brothers recorded and knows that very few stories actually do have happy conclusions. His own is no different than that of the Fairy Godfather's.
His eyes lift to the darkness spilling in through his open door. Living nightmares crawl all over the land out there, but they won't dare stick their heads into his territory. He's still got a bubble around him as far as they're concerned -- they all know better than to mess with William the Bloody --, but they have their own nightmares with which to contend even in here.
He wishes life was more like a fairy tale for Dawnie's sake and for his own, but he's not going to lie to the kid. Monsters may exist, but fairy tale endings do not. His own Princess lays deep in the ground not too far from them, her once beautiful and vibrant body still, cold, and beginning to be eaten by maggots. His dreams are shattered for they all came to circle around the Slayer and the love that he knew he would never receive.
Dawn shifts in her sleep and cries her sister's name. "Buffy . . . "
He strokes her head. "Sh, Nibblet," he whispers to her, "I'm here. It's all ri--" He tries to tell her it's all right, but his words break off. Things are never going to be all right for either of them again. His love, her sister, is gone, stolen from them at far too early an age.
Their world will never be the same without her love and light in it, but he's here for the Nibblet and maybe, just maybe, along the course of their life together, he can bring her a little bit of hope. Maybe he can bring her a little bit of that light that's been stolen from her, and if he can, if he can make her smile at least once a night, then maybe his own life still has some meaning left after all. He couldn't save the Princess, but maybe he can save her sister. He's damn sure going to try, even as she slowly, secretly heals his bubble with her love.