Ten Years After

Chapter 8

“So who was the guy in the coffee shop?” Dawn asked almost idly, as Spike admired the now fairly dark view of Paris from her hotel window.

“I thought we were going to talk about you?” Spike replied.

“I can’t help it,” Dawn answered, grinning, “it is about me in a way – I’m a researcher – I ask questions! It’s not really important though.”

“Well if you really want an answer I’ll tell you – although you might not like it.” Spike answered. “He would see himself as a business acquaintance – I see him as a source of money – and just possibly as a square meal.” He looked at Dawn challengingly, and she kept on looking straight back whilst she considered what her response should be.

“Um, well I suppose I did ask,” she finally replied, whilst thinking that perhaps she didn’t still know Spike as well as it had felt she did half an hour ago.

Spike returned his gaze to the view, and said nothing more for what felt to Dawn like hours, but was probably only about a minute. Then he looked back at her and asked “Not going to go all Watchery on me and either throw me from your room or stake me then?”

“No.” Dawn answered firmly. “Remember – one – I am a researcher, and I’d not be a very good one if I jumped to conclusions, and two – you are a vampire – you reminded me yourself earlier. Possibly seeing someone as a square meal is sort of in the job description I would say.” She paused. Spike looked at her calmly, but raised that eyebrow, and she thought there might be the hint of a twitch at the corner of his mouth. “Although I would kinda like to know more!” she finally admitted.

Spike laughed, but it was a fairly short laugh. “He works in the drug trade. I could just say ‘and so do I’ and wait and see how long it takes you to throw me off the balcony, that’s what your sister would do! Only she probably wouldn’t have waited past the possibility of him becoming a square meal to either do me serious bodily harm or just stake me! I’m beginning to think you are a lot more like your Mom. And I owe you an explanation having said what I did.”

“You know,” Dawn said slowly, “you are the second person in about ten days to say that I remind them of Mom – Giles said much the same thing only recently.”

“It’s because you’re a good looking young woman – and because you’ve got her smile, not to mention her ability to not jump instantly to conclusions.” Spike answered, quite seriously. “Though I can see why Buffy didn’t ever stop to weigh things up – not a survival trait in a Slayer – and I should know. You might’ve been made from Buffy, but somehow you inherited traits that passed her by!”

“You remember – you remember my Keyness without me having to remind you!” Dawn was totally distracted from Spike possibly being involved in the drug trade by the fact that she hadn’t had to remind him about her unorthodox arrival in the world. “Sometimes it feels as if no-one remembers at all. Not that I usually want it to be the first thing my friends think when they see me – ‘hey, here comes The Key’ – but recently I more or less had to remind both Giles and Willow because they seemed to have forgotten it all together.”

“Well it wasn’t the first thing that came to mind when I got your e-mail, must admit, and I think of you as Buffy’s sister not Buffy’s magical clone, but it’s part of who you are. Y’know – you’re the girl who’s got The Key, I’m the vamp who’s got the soul … sounds like there’s a song in there somewhere.” Spike finished wryly.

Despite herself Dawn laughed. Then she continued more seriously “Spike…” she paused, “Spike, I am not going to forget that you seemed to be implying that you make your money from the drug trade, but I think the time has come to get down to the thing that’s worrying me – the thing that finally made me think I must try to talk to Spike, if he’ll let me.”

“Yep – been wondering when you would feel up to talking about it,” Spike answered, and moved away from the window to sit on an armchair, to give her his full concentration.

Dawn pulled the other chair around until she was facing him, and the light from the table lamp was falling straight on her face. She took a deep breath, and then started “Spike – this is a totally serious question – you know, and I know, that I am twenty-seven, but how old do I look to you?”

Spike seemed totally unphased by the question, instead he studied her closely, head on one side, and finally answered “Not sure – nineteen, twenty, twenty one. Which do you think it is?”

“Twenty.” Dawn answered automatically, before really thinking about what he’d said. “You know what I’m going to say, don’t you?” she asked almost accusingly. “I’ve been wondering and worrying about how to tell you, and whether you’d believe me, and you know! How do you know?”

“Well let’s check I’ve got it right – and we’re both talking about the same thing here: I reckon you’re not getting any older, and it’s to do with you being The Key – right?”

“Yes,” said Dawn in a rather small voice, “and I’m not sure whether I like it, and I don’t know how to handle it – and I just wanted to talk to you about it.”

“’S all right pet – we’ll deal!” Spike said quietly, reaching a hand out to Dawn, who held it very tightly with her own for a minute.

After that minute the Watchers Council Researcher in Dawn came back to the fore, although not enough to let go of the hand she still clutched. “How did you know?” she asked.

“Wasn’t instant, took me a while,” Spike answered. “When I got your e-mail I sat and worked out how old you’d be by now – thought ‘Fuck – she’ll be older than me by now’ – if you see what I mean. Didn’t occur straight away – you looked all grown up, and smart, just like I would’ve expected. There was just a fleeting something when you hugged me, but I couldn’t place it. And then a couple of times in the café I thought you looked younger than I’d expected, but I wasn’t sure.

“It wasn’t until I was back in my apartment last night that I placed what the other thing was, and it just confirmed what I’d seen. Then it occurred to me that it had to be about The Key – no other explanation.”

“Other thing – what other thing?” Dawn asked.

“You don’t smell quite right!” Spike said, rather to Dawn’s surprise.

“Willow did a spell to check on whether I was still The Key, a few days ago. She turned her cat into a ‘necromanced animal’ – ‘cos remember when you and I read Giles’ notes, it said ‘necromanced animals’ could see The Key – and when she joined herself to Scaramouch she said that I not only glowed, but I smelled metallic and electrical – Do I smell like that to you as well?” Dawn asked, thinking ‘Yew! That would be gross!’

“No, nothing like that,” Spike said, and then continued “You know about vampires having a good sense of smell. Have you ever thought what it’s like? I can hardly remember what it isn’t like, but just think about in the mall earlier – what could you smell – what would you have known if you’d had your eyes shut?”

Interested despite the fact that she was being side-tracked, Dawn thought, “Coffee when we went past a couple of places, oh and garlic, and when we sat down at the coffee bar there was also cheese. And chocolate – we went past a chocolate shop and it was all like ‘come in, come and buy me!’ And some people were wearing quite strong perfumes, and aftershaves. And of course the perfume counters in the department stores – they are always near the doors, aren’t they?”

“Well for me there are more layers of smell – I got all those things, but also each person has a different smell that includes not only perfume, but notes of detergent and sweat, leather and plastic – and I was aware of the flowers in the vase on the table when we had coffee, and that the girl behind the counter had had sex in the last twelve hours. And I didn’t only smell leather and plastic in the shoe shop, but half a dozen different people’s feet – at least four people had tried on those blue shoes that you didn’t buy either, and..”

He was interrupted by Dawn “Yeuch – that is gross!”

“Nah – it’s just normal for me. And I haven’t even mentioned the blood! Warm, sticky – much louder than the chocolate was for you! Girls going past who were having periods – old blood, but still warm. A young man who had cut himself shaving and had eaten curry last night, raw meat in someone’s shopping bag – like a Hershey bar compared to the Belgian chocolate of the human blood.

“But it’s like sight. You see things but don’t focus on them, so you’re not distracted by everything. Smell is the same, it’s just normal for me. But you know how a rosebud becomes a slightly open rose, then a full blown one, and finally a brown edged dying one losing its petals? You see it and know straight away how old it is? Well I don’t just see it, but every stage smells different as well. And people are the same.

“So children and teens still have a sort of ‘growing’ edge to their scent, and then almost as soon as they stop growing they start dying! There’s a hint of it there in all adults, and the older they get the deeper the note – must be cells dying or something. ‘S not unpleasant – just there – like you hear those people talking on telly about wine tasting and they go ‘hint of leather’ ‘touch of tannin’ and so on. If someone’s ill though – that’s different again – depending on what’s wrong I guess, but never been that interested – not a doctor.

“Vampires – now we have a whole different bouquet, as the wine people would say, the growing and dying bits are missing, there’s a sort of deadness, but no decaying – sort of musky!

“But your personal smell – it’s changed since you were in your teens, but it’s not got any hint of ageing – and it should have. It’s just at that perfect moment when the rose is open, but has no hint of fading. I registered that you were wearing rather expensive perfume, but your own scent was still there. It just didn’t register straight away that it was so perfect, till I thought about it later, like I said. Then I knew what I thought I saw was right. Knew then it had to be because of The Key thing.”

“Wow!” said Dawn. “Wow! I just knew about the good sense of smell – I’d never really thought about exactly what it was like. Um – and I like the idea that I am a perfect rose. You really were a poet weren’t you?”

“Not much of a one!” Spike laughed, “Maybe I should call you ‘Rosebud’ – it could be my dusting breath – and Slayers everywhere could puzzle over it for ages!”

“Um – ¿que?” Dawn asked.

“Orson Welles – Citizen Kane? No guess you’re not old enough! When you get a chance watch the film – it’s a classic!” was the only answer Spike would give her.


Spike reminded Dawn of her plan to eat in her room, and studied the wine menu whilst she decided on what to eat. Once they’d phoned down their order he insisted on checking out the TV channels, testing out the beds for bounce, and generally distracting Dawn from any more meaningful conversation until the waiter had left their order.

Whilst Dawn ate, Spike read snippets from the newspaper that had been delivered with her breakfast, translating from the French as he went along. ‘Bet that would have surprised Buffy,’ Dawn thought; but it didn’t surprise her, he was the person who had helped her so often with homework. It was fairly obvious that he wanted a ‘conversation break’ though, so she didn’t stop him and demand answers to a few questions (OK a lot of questions).

When she had finished eating he poured her another glass of wine, and said ‘I know I promised you a few answers, but just now I think we should concentrate on you. Tell me about it.”

Dawn explained how she had begun to have her own suspicions during the last year – “After all not many twenty seven year olds still have nipples that point upwards,” she said, laughing, and found herself not blushing when Spike made a point of giving the relevant area of anatomy a slightly lingering glance before laughing himself. ‘Yay – go with the flirtage, Dawn!’ she thought to herself. She told him about Dr. McStay’s comment, and her subsequent conversation with Giles, and retold the story of Scaramouch being ‘borrowed’ by Willow.

“Nanny Red, eh?” Spike commented.

When Spike asked how much research the Council had done into just how immortal Dawn might be, she admitted that no-one was really sure. She told him about her own name for it, but that all that was really clear was that she was not ageing; and she did seem to heal from injuries, such as the broken arm, pretty quickly – but not vampire fast or Slayer speed. As far as she could tell she had no scars – even from the odd thing that should probably have left one, like Doc’s knife – but she caught colds and tummy upsets like anyone else.

When she told Spike about her conversation with Giles that morning they both ended up clutching their sides with laughter. Calming down, Spike agreed not only that the cloaking spells must be very powerful, but also that Giles trying to do research into The Key was necessary – and if Willow could just lift the hem of the cloak for him it could surely only be a good thing. Dawn retorted that she wasn’t sure she really wanted Giles looking under the hem of her cloak, and they both laughed again. The Highlander Syndrome didn’t seem quite so scary to Dawn now that she had Spike to talk to about it, she had been right.

“Spike, there are lots of things I want to ask you about the not growing older,” Dawn said after a while, “but I sort of feel that now you know what’s worrying me, and you said you’d help me deal, we’ve got a long time available to talk about it! I trust you – you’ve never done anything but good things for me, and no matter how you are making your money I won’t go and report you to The Council, but why did you say that that guy who knew you worked in the drug trade and so do you? Are you making your money running drugs? ‘Cos if you are I’m sure The Council, well my bit of it, could find you something else to do.

“I mean I know you must be making good money out of it, but I don’t like to think of you doing something that’s so bad for people. And what if you got caught and put in a cell somewhere that the sun shone into?”

“’S not quite like that pet,” Spike answered, “But I’m stunned that you trust me enough that you would stick by me, and worry about me, if it was.

“Thing is, I went down to Columbia when I left L.A., just stayed with Peaches until we knew we really had won, no-one was chasing us any more. Told him he was a stupid, stubborn bastard if he didn’t get right in touch with Nina and make a go of it.

“Course he’s a stupid bugger at times, thought she’d prefer Connor – felt like kicking his stupid ass a couple of times, till Connor told Angel that if he thought Connor was going to want a girl who’d been dating his father he was mad. Angel looked as if he was going to disagree, or even thump the lad – then he laughed, said fine, Connor could go find his own woman, and far as I know spent the next night shagging the girl senseless!

“Didn’t need me around, and I didn’t want to stay around, once it was clear it wasn’t going to send his soul walk-about again of course! S’pose worrying in case ‘doggy-style’ takes on a whole new meaning is enough to stop the perfect happy bit!”

Dawn laughed with Spike at this aspect of Angel’s love life, and inside she was thinking ‘He really, really does see me as an adult now! Xander would never say something like that to me, and even now, if Buffy was here she’d probably give him a real dirty look, not for talking about Angel’s sex life, although probably a bit of a gross subject for her, but because he’d done it in front of me!’

“Anyway, where was I?” Spike went on. “Oh, yes Columbia. So this guy comes up to me in a bar one night, and asks me if I want to make some easy money. Thinks I’m a bloody Yank. Wants me to smuggle drugs back into the states – be a ‘mule’. Said I’d think about it. First I thought I could easily do it – you know how you swallow the stuff in condoms, I mean, wouldn’t do me a lot of harm if it burst. Then thought not exactly being one of the white hats, smuggling dope, if the Powers had anything at all to do with me an’ Angel surviving ‘s probably not so’s I can be a drug smuggler.

“Then I thought why not play along for a while, maybe take the money and bugger off. But they pay you on delivery. So I took the stuff, took the flight, still had a passport from Wolfram and Hart after the trip to Rome, met the guy in L.A. – handed the stuff over, took the money. But went back a couple of days later killed the dealer and took all his money, credit cards and things. Gave the info I’d got to Angel – his patch, even if that guy wasn’t demonic, although I’ve met some of them involved in it too.

“No-one linked me with the killing, and I’ve got a reputation as a trustworthy guy in the lower levels of drug smuggling. So I’ve done the same thing a few times over the years, I know the talk, can walk the walk, and I don’t actually do any smuggling at all now – I get friendly with the local organisation, sometimes move money around, hand it over, become an accepted part of the scene, then clean the scene up a bit, and sod off with enough money to keep me for a while.”

Spike switched suddenly into game face, and grinned, not a nice grin, and said “Like to scare the bastards shitless before I take ‘em out as well! No quick knife up a back alley – they deserve to feel a bit of absolute horror before they go! ‘Specially if they are involved in girl dealing as well – some of those guys are so foul I don’t even swallow!”

His features reverted to their more usual form, and he looked at Dawn silently, waiting to see what she would say.

Dawn wasn’t sure what to say. Was it a good thing to ‘clean-up’ corners of the drugs and people trade? Was it a bad thing to live off that money? Was it a terrible thing for a souled vampire to kill humans, no matter how ‘low-life’?

After a full minute, during which she held Spike’s gaze silently, Dawn spoke. “I’m having to think about that a bit,” she admitted, honestly. “I mean I should be appalled and probably even stakey over the idea of you feeding off people, but I don’t think I am. At least … how many bad people do you have to kill to stay fed?”

“I don’t.” Spike answered. “At least, what I mean is I’m not getting all my blood like that. Mostly I get pig or sheep or whatever from local butchers, lots of little family shops here in France, so not too difficult. And I’ve even had a job as a night watchman for a hospital a couple of times – so I could access the blood that was past its use-by date.

“Just can’t see any point in wasting good food if I’m going to put a stop to some bastard making money out of screwing up people’s lives. And a drained body puts the fear of God up his mates for a while! I know – sometimes I’ve hung around, maybe killed one or two of the gang before I’ve taken the money and run!

“So probably I’ve killed four, five in a year, max. Once I’ve got enough money to do for a while I just get on with life. Not exactly the Great Avenger here, but I like to think I’m doing more good for society than harm, even if I’m not as dedicated as bloody Peaches.”

He paused, and then continued “And actually I think we need the real stuff sometimes, to keep in top nick. Keep off it all together and you get the odd little scar here and there, probably get out of condition in the end. I pointed it out to my bloody broody sire last time I was in LA – told him if he couldn’t cope with it ‘straight from the bottle’ he needed to get a deal with the blood-bank or whatever, or he might lose his edge. And he can’t help the helpless any more if Connor’s had to take him home in a dustpan! Course they could make him into an egg-timer and raffle him for funds I s’pose!” He finished, laughing, and Dawn found herself laughing too.

Spike continued, more sombrely, “Didn’t feed off that first dealer in LA – just broke his neck, thought the soul might make me all guilt ridden ‘bout it. But all I felt was good! Got rid of something nasty, picked up a few thousand dollars – had no guilt pangs at all. Next time I killed one of the bastards was almost a year later, and I knifed him. Thought bugger it – I’m not wasting the blood, and fed. But it wasn’t a feeding frenzy type thing – and I felt no guiltier after it than the first one.

“Was still another eight or nine months before I got the chance to get rid of a total bastard. He was forcing girls from Serbia and Croatia into ‘the trade’, buying them off guys who’d promised them good jobs, he’d even killed girls who’d tried to argue. I just wanted him to feel the sort of fear the girls did – so I did the thing in game face, showed him what I was, and then killed him in the old traditional way.

“Thought I’d feel a right bastard myself next day – but I didn’t. I went around and persuaded a couple of the girls to come with me, and got them tickets home. Others were too scared to even try and run – poor little bints. And me – no blood lust, no urge to nibble the girls, no guilt trip either.

“Now you go tell Giles that, he’ll probably take his apology back, and put a price on my head. But I can’t see it as bad. ‘S probably the demon in me – no conscience. But I reckon if it was really that bad the soul would be kicking my ass all the time, and it ain’t.

“Course the soul doesn’t make you a good guy – I mean Hitler, Mengele and even Vlad the fuckin’ Impaler had souls, so I might just be kidding myself that the soul would kick in. But you know now – so if I suddenly don’t seem like someone you want around, say, and I’ll walk out. Appreciate it if you let me know that you’re going to send the Slayers after me though! I mean it was you that got in touch with me, after all.” He finished, and looked questioningly at Dawn.

Dawn held a hand out to him, grasped his hand gently but firmly, and told him “Stay.”


  • Chapter 9

  • The characters in this story do not belong to me, but are being used for amusement only and all rights remain with Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, the writers of the original episodes, and the TV and production companies responsible for the original television shows. BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER ©2002 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All Rights Reserved. The Buffy the Vampire Slayer trademark is used without express permission from Fox.