Author: Kat Lee
Fandom: Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Character/Pairing: Dawn, Spike, Buffy!bot, mentions Spike/Buffy!bot and Spike/Buffy
Challenge/Prompt: halfamoon Day 4: Arts and Letters
Warning(s): Cannon Character Death
Word Count: 1,503
Date Written: 6 March 2018
Disclaimer: All characters within belong to Whedon, not the author, and are used without permission.
Her fingers crease the pages. She studies the ink again with tears in her blue eyes. She so desperately longs to be the person written about in these private pages. These pages the only thing that makes her feel real, not the way he looks at her or the way they treat her but the way she, or rather the person for whom she was made, is written about here.
She looks up guiltily as a shadow falls across her. “You -- “ Dawn’s breath seizes, and she stares at the robot who wears her sister’s face for a long moment. Then she stalks across her bedroom and slaps her so hard that the sound resonates in the small room. The robot looks at her with tears, tears that she’s not supposed to have, tears she possesses because of Spike’s tinkering. Dawn wishes that it was so easy for her to forget her sister and move on, but at the same time fury boils quietly within her. How can Spike look at this thing and ever think that she could compare to her sister?!
Tears flooding her own eyes, Dawn snatches her diary out of the Buffybot’s hands and turns away from her. “This wasn’t for you -- or about you!” Holding the book to her chest, she runs from the room and passes Spike on the stairs. “Get your damn robot out of my room!”
“Bit?” Spike asks in surprises, turning in Dawn’s wake, but the girl’s already ran out into the night, the worst place she could be right now. He chases after her even though he’s been looking for his robot for hours. He catches up to her quickly, but she won’t look at him. She won’t even acknowledge him.
“Go back to your robot,” she finally mutters.
“I don’t want the bloody robot!” Spike snarls. He steps into her pathway, but her gaze stays pivoted on the sidewalk. He grabs her shoulders, then, barely able to resist the urge to shake her, lifts her head and forces her to meet his gaze. “I don’t want the bloody robot,” he says again, seething.
“Xander told me about the other stuff you do with her!” Dawn blusters, heat rising through her neck and into her face. “He -- He didn’t mean to, but he still let it out! He didn’t even know I was there at first!”
“Harris needs to keep his mouth shut,” Spike growls.
“You all need to remember my sister! I’m the only one who’s not really alive, and I’m the only one who seems to remember her! She lived! She was real!”
Spike’s heart, or whatever it is that’s left in his chest that makes him hurt so badly these nights, breaks again at her words. He grabs her and pulls her shaking form into a tight hug against his chest. “Sh, Nibblet,” he murmurs, kissing her soft, dark hair. “You are real! She was real, and we haven’t forgotten her! The only real reason we keep the bloody robot around is so that the same damn monsters your sister fought off every night won’t realize she’s gone and take advantage! Buffy would want us to keep fighting!”
And he knows, too, that she’d want him to protect Dawn. It was the one thing she had asked of him after all. In a way, keeping the Buffybot going helped to protect her every night; he’d never thought that its existence would hurt her. “If you really hate seeing the ‘bot so badly,” he whispers to her, “I’ll turn her off and dismantle her when we go back.”
Dawn almost takes him up on his offer, but she stops herself and reconsiders. She slows her breathing and tries to steady her nerves. She knows he’s right. Perhaps she’s overreacting a little to the creature finding her diary and reading it. Perhaps she’s overreacting to her existence period, because they do need her. On more than one night, she’s seen Vampires who thought they were looking at the Slayer simply turn and run for their lives. She’s an important tool, nothing more or less. She just wished she didn’t have to wear her sister’s face, but the monsters wouldn’t react to a simple robot who looked nothing like their beloved Buffy as they do to the one who acts, talks, and fights like her.
“No. No, you’re right. I just -- “ She just wishes the robot didn’t have to look like her sister. She wishes he wasn’t doing with her what he was behind closed doors. She wishes . . . Damn it all, she just wishes her sister was still alive!!! She should be!!! After all, she wasn’t supposed to die for her! She was never supposed to exist, and if she hadn’t, Buffy would still be alive!
Her tears start again; only this time, they come flooding down her face. Spike holds her tighter. “Dawnie,” he whispers again, and she can tell he’s far from over caring about Buffy, too, or even about her from the way his voice cracks.
“It’s not right, Spike,” she nearly whimpers. “She’s not supposed to be dead! She’s supposed to be alive!” In a fit of anger, she turns from him and slings her stupid diary as far as she can. After all, that small, pink book contains some of the first words that first made her feel alive. It had brought her such comfort when everyone had ignored her. She wishes they’d go back to ignoring her now.
Spike applies just enough pressure to her left shoulder that she finally turns back and looks at him. “There now. Feel better now that you’ve slung the bloody thing?” He tries to smile, but there are tears in his eyes too. “None of us are ever going to forget your sister, Nibblet, and we’re not trying to. We’re just trying to piece together what’s left of our lives and keep on going, keep on fighting, because that’s what she’d want us to do.”
“What about what I want?” Dawn whispers as she allows him to gather her back into his arms, which had once felt so safe and protecting.
He strokes her hair again and presses a chaste kiss to her forehead. “What you want, Nibblet, is what we all want. But it’s not gonna happen. Buffy’s finally getting the rest she deserves.”
She looks swiftly up at him, horror-stricken. “I have to imagine she’s happy wherever she is,” he tells her, holding her tight and not letting her go, “because I can’t just go rip her out of the bloody ground now, can I? Wouldn’t do any good even if I did.” He shakes his head. “She’d still be dead.”
Seeing the tears begin to slip down his cold, lonely faces makes Dawn’s only tears increase in triplicate. “There’s nothing we can do, is there?” she whispers, slowly shaking her head. “I’d give up my life in a second for hers! I’d give anything to have her alive again!”
“So would I, Dawnie. We all would.” He pulls her head against him, and she buries her face into his black, cotton shirt. Her tears soak his shirt while his drip onto her head and shoulders. “We’d give anything to have her back, but she’s not coming back. If we kill ourselves -- “ -- if I walk into that bloody sun or let you go, -- he’s thinking. “ -- we’re just letting her down. We’re letting her death go without meaning. She died so we can live, especially so you can live, so the least we can do is try to live the life she’s left us.”
She nods against his chest and lets him hold her as they both continue to cry. She has to be real, she thinks but doesn’t say it aloud. She has to be real, because pretending could never hurt this much.
Spike inclines his head in the subtlest of nods as he continues to hold Dawn, seeing Willow pick up the teenager’s diary from the mud puddle in which it had landed. With their eyes alone, they communicate. Willow offers to step up, but Spike’s got Dawn. He’s finally doing what Buffy asked him to do even before she made the ultimate sacrifice. He should have known that that was what she was thinking all along. She was going to save Dawnie. She was going to save their world any way she could, even if it meant dying.
He presses his black lips together to keep from howling with the pain in his heart, and yes, he has to have a heart. Nothing else could make him hurt as badly as he’s hurting now. Willow steps back into the shadows. Spike doesn’t notice how easily they seem to melt into her and she into them as he continues holding Dawn, doing that which Buffy had asked of him, and struggling to live another night in this world in which she left them, this world they’d all gladly give up just to be back with her again.