Ten Years After

Chapter 17

‘Oh no!’ thought Dawn, ‘How could I have been so stupid?’ She wondered whether she ought to tell Willow what she’d done, before hanging up – but it wasn’t likely to change anything, so better to sort it out for herself. She said goodbye to Willow, and then even remembered to calmly send the damned photo to her, with a message not to ring straight back as she, Dawn, would be a bit busy for a while.

There was always the possibility that she’d just failed to send it and so she checked her list of ‘sent items’. No, no such luck – there it was clearly marked, at 1 a.m. two nights ago, sent to ‘Buffy’. ‘What a stupid, stupid thing to do!’ she berated herself.

She’d better ring her sister and explain. Explain what? ‘By the way, I forgot to tell you that I’ve tracked down your ex-boyfriend, ex-lover, ex-whatever, and have started what I hope will be a relationship to last centuries. Oh, because that’s the other thing I didn’t tell you – the living for centuries bit.’ One cheerful conversation that was going to be – not.

Text her? Seemed a bit impersonal – like sending her an unmarked picture of her sister and her ex-something-or-other was not a bit impersonal? No reason to make things worse.

Dawn steeled herself to ring her sister. “Hello, this is the Wilson household. We’re sorry that we are unable to come to the phone right now, please leave your message after the tone.” Bugger. “Um, Buffy, it’s Dawn. Ring me – please?”

Try Buffy’s mobile –with any luck she’ll be in the supermarket, or the training centre, and won’t be able to shout back too much. “The cell-phone you are calling is switched off. Please try again later.”

Dawn wasn’t sure whether to breathe a sigh of relief, or not. Probably Buffy was just doing a session with the trainees, and had switched her phone off. But why hadn’t she already rung Dawn asking for explanations? Dawn felt a niggling worry that threatened to grow into an enormous cloud of worry and overwhelm her completely. Buffy was never a person for words if it was possible to take actions. What if she was on her way over to Europe right now?

She wouldn’t know the name of the Hotel. Dawn breathed a sigh of relief after all. ‘She could ask someone,’ she suddenly thought. Better ring Willow again after all, and ask if Buffy had been in touch.

“Hi again! Nice picture – Spike looks really good in the tuxedo – you know I think he’s even more handsome than I’d remembered, if I wasn’t good with Mhairi I’d be very jealous, even tempted to try stealing! Only joking! I’m good with Mhairi. Anyway, even in the picture you can tell he cares about you, you can see it in his face.” Willow answered in her normal stream-of-consciousness way.

“Willow, this is really important. Have you heard from Buffy in the last couple of days?” Dawn interrupted.

“No, I got an e-mail with a picture of the boys playing softball last week, but nothing since. Why?” Willow answered, “You sound worried, what’s up?”

“I sent the picture of me and Spike to her the other night when I meant to send it to you,” Dawn said, flatly.

“Oops!” Willow gasped. “Oh Dawnie, that was so not a clever thing to do! How did you do that? I guess it was at the end of the evening not the beginning, eh? She’s going to be pretty wigged about it. Buffy may have moved on, but I don’t think she’s going to be exactly How-nice-for-you-both-girl. And if you’ve only just realised, she obviously didn’t ring you up and give you an earful, so – you think she’s just simmering, or you think she’s on the war-path?”

“She’s not answering either phone. I wondered if she’d tried to find out the hotel from you. I can sort of feel her breathing down my neck already.” Dawn answered.

“Well I could do a location spell; see where she is for you. I’m not sure whether it would be classed as frivolous use of power, or as protecting a vital magical asset. I know that you’re not in any real danger from Buffy, but I can do it anyway if you want me to – no problem. What do you think?” Willow asked.

“I’m tempted, but I don’t think it’s really important enough to use magic, I’ll just ring Giles and ask if he’s been talking to her in the last couple of days. But thanks for offering, Will, speak to you soon,” and Dawn put the phone down.

Giles was ‘still in a meeting’, and it wasn’t really important enough to bother him, so Dawn left him a text message instead, then decided that she needed coffee, and possibly even a raid on the mini-bar to calm her nerves.

Even so, when her room-phone rang she found herself jumping with surprise. “M’selle Summers – M. Aurelius is here, are you coming down or shall I send ‘im up?” the receptionist asked, and Dawn realised that in all her worrying about Buffy finding out about Spike, she had forgotten that the vampire in question would be coming around! “Send him up, please,” she said in a very relieved voice.

“Evening, pet, you have a nice day?” Spike began, as he walked into the room, then paused briefly, “What’s wrong love? What’s upset you?” he continued.

‘Vampire senses – like Spiderman and his spider senses!’ Dawn thought. “Something and nothing,” she said out loud, “I’ve just realised that I’ve done something really stupid, and I think I’m just waiting for the shit to hit the fan!”

“Tell me. Whatever it is you are giving off frightened signals through almost every pore in your body, and your pulse is faster than usual as well. Tell me love, and I’ll sort it for you.” Spike said, holding a hand behind Dawn’s neck, and gently bringing her towards him.

“I’m not sure you can, not this particular mess,” Dawn said, sadly.

“I’m your knight in shiny armour, pet; I’ll protect you from everything! Now tell Sir Spikalot where the dragon is, and I’ll go and slay it for you!” he said, firmly.

Dawn found herself smiling despite herself. “This is one dragon I don’t think you can slay, or would want to,” she started. “I accidentally sent Buffy the picture of you and me that the receptionist took for us the other night.”

“And I take it that you hadn’t mentioned me to her before that then. That’s a bugger, you’re right. Has she rung you and ripped you off a strip yet?” Spike asked.

“No,” Dawn answered, “and it’s two days since I sent it. She’s not answering her phone, and I just have this bad feeling.”

“OK, it’s not the best way of telling her – but she was going to have to know sometime, wasn’t she?” Spike asked doubtfully.

“Of course I was going to tell her; I told you, you are important to me, I don’t want to hide you away. It’s just that I wanted to see her and explain the Highlander Syndrome thing to her, and about you as well, face to face, over a glass of wine or something.” Dawn said, rather glumly.

Spike gathered her up in his arms, held her, and said “Try and ring her again after you’ve had something to eat. How many times have you tried already?”

“Just once on each phone.” Dawn admitted.

“She was probably out shopping or something,” Spike said, lightly. Order something to eat, and then try again – you’ll work out what to say love, you’ve got a good way with words!”

Dawn picked at her dinner, and then tried to contact Buffy again, but still no answer.

“C’mon, let’s go out for a drink, pet. Bring a stake and we can do a quick patrol through Pere Lachaise, take your mind off things.” Spike suggested.

Dawn laughed, and said “Only you could suggest taking my mind off Buffy by patrolling and slaying! Although actually it’s a pretty good idea.”

But before she had got her coat the room-phone rang again, and with a sinking feeling Dawn picked it up to hear the same voice as before, only this time it said “M’selle Summers, there is a lady here, a Madame Wilson. She wants to see you.”

Much though Dawn wanted to say “tell her I’m out” or “I’ll come down”, she found herself saying “Ask her to come up please.”

“You don’t have to stay, Spike,” she said as she put the phone down. “You can go down in the other lift, or go down the stairs, because the girl on reception will send her up in the lift.”

“Course I’ll stay – it’s about me! I’m here for you, love.” Spike answered immediately.

Dawn felt her stomach churn; it felt just like the time Buffy had caught her giving one of Buffy’s Barbie dolls a haircut when she was about four. Only this was real.

It seemed almost no time before the sound of rapidly moving high-heels could be heard in the corridor, and Dawn opened the door just as they drew level.

Buffy looked well – she seemed to have taken time to make sure her hair was shining and her make-up perfect before she’d got to the hotel. “Dawn Summers, what on Earth are you playing at?” she demanded as she burst into the room. “What are you doing here? What the hell are you up to in this photograph?” She was waving her phone at Dawn as she spoke.

“Buffy, I’m sorry; I didn’t mean to send it to you. I didn’t mean …” Dawn began.

“You didn’t mean what? Spike! This picture shows you with Spike!” Buffy cut in.

“Slayer.” A cool voice cut into the conversation, and for a few seconds there was silence.

Dawn looked from one to the other. From her lover to her sister. From her sister to her sister’s ex-lover. Both of them looked at each other, and Dawn wasn’t sure what she was going to see in those faces.

Buffy looked shocked, and no less annoyed than she had been as she came through the door, Spike looked … emotionless.

Buffy broke the eye contact first. “You! What are you doing here? With my sister?” she demanded.

Spike did not answer immediately – he considered Buffy, with a slightly quizzical look, then said “Here, Paris? Or here, hotel room?”

“Here … here! Don’t play the wise guy with me!” Buffy almost shouted at him.

“Here, Paris, because I happen to live here. Vampire’s got to live somewhere. Here with Dawn because she invited me in. We were about to go for a stroll through the local cemetery, stakes in hand,” Spike answered, still sounding totally cool.

Buffy was beginning to look as if she was itching to slap Spike. “That’s not what I meant, and you know it, so stop being so damn annoying, or soul or no soul, I swear I will stake you!”

Dawn realised that Spike was enjoying the encounter, and he had turned Buffy’s attention away from her, given her a moment to gather her thoughts. Dawn took a deep breath, and rejoined the conversation. “Buffy, Spike’s here because I tracked him down, and asked him to meet me. I wanted to see him, I needed his help – I needed him.”

“You needed him like this?” Buffy snapped, turning back to Dawn, holding up the image on her phone again. “Jeez, Dawn, you are crawling all over each other in this. How damn stupid can you get? Spike is a vampire Dawn, and I know he’s got his soul, and I’m happy for him that he’s not all evil any more and yada yada yada; but you gotta face it, Dawn, Spike is a vampire, and you are a Watcher, and you should have more Goddamn sense. What the hell would Giles think if he knew you were crawling all over a vampire?”

Dawn thought that ‘crawling all over’ each other was very much an overstatement, but presumably Buffy had recognised that the couple in the picture looked more like lovers than siblings. At the same phrase Dawn had heard Spike breathing in sharply. “Giles knows I am here with Spike”, she said, more calmly than she felt, to Buffy. “He actually asked me to pass an invitation to Spike to visit him for a drink sometime. He understands why I wanted to find Spike. I was going to …”

Again Buffy cut across her in mid-sentence with “Well, he didn’t mention to me that you were getting all cosy with Spike when I spoke to him.”

“No he didn’t,” Dawn snapped. “Because he thought it was my business, mine and Spike’s, and he was leaving me to tell you myself!”

“Don’t you talk to me like that Dawn Summers!” Buffy snapped back. “I am still your big sister, and I have a right to know when you are doing something stupid. Getting involved in some sort of affair with a vampire is downright stupid, believe me, there is no future in it. I’ve been there, seen it, and done it – with the same damn vampire! Dawn how could you? You’ll only end up getting hurt, or hurting each other,” Buffy finished, her voice softening a little on the last few words.

Buffy’s gaze shifted to Spike. “We always ended up hurting each other, it just doesn’t work. Don’t go making the same mistakes I did, Dawnie.”

Spike answered before Dawn had a chance to. His voice was soft, regretful even “Buffy – I never did anything to hurt you, well hardly ever; even that one time, I was trying to shake you out of yourself, but I couldn’t hold back. I loved you, even though you said I couldn’t without a soul, and the worst pain I’ve ever known was when you died and I couldn’t save you.

“I guess I did things to hurt you when The First had a grip on me, I don’t know. I know that I loved you because you could hurt me, not the physical stuff, but the deep inside sort of hurt. In those last few months in Sunnydale I thought that you came somewhere close to loving me – I think you really thought that you meant it when you said it to me at the end.

“But that was then. Ten years ago. This is now. When I realised nine years ago that you were happily living it up with The Immortal, I knew you must be either over me, or well on the way to it. It hurt me then, but I knew it was time to get on with this new chance I’d been given, and to move on as well. I don’t regret loving you – but it’s history.

“What I do with my life now, or in the future, is nothing to do with you, except that I have a good feeling that it might have Dawn in it, and I don’t want to come between the two of you. But any relationship I might have with Dawn won’t be anything like the one I had with you, because we are both adults, and it would be based on liking each other, not on hurting each other.” He finished.

The room was quiet for a very long moment. Dawn thought that she had never heard Spike speak quite like that – even his accent had been different, less ‘mockney’ than usual, more educated sounding. What he had said gave her a lump in her throat, and she wondered what effect it had had on Buffy.

Finally Buffy spoke. All the anger seemed to have gone out of her voice; she said sadly “I know you loved me. But it was wrong. You were a vampire, and so it wasn’t real love, it couldn’t be. Even when you got your soul back, it was still all wrong – I shouldn’t have cared about you, I was … I am … the Slayer… a Slayer … whatever; but anyway you were … you are … a vampire. We couldn’t ever have really loved each other.”

‘Well done Giles,’ Dawn thought, ‘you did a much better job training your Slayer than you ever realised. Vampire – not capable of love; Slayer – can’t have real feelings about a vampire because Vampires are Evil and Slayers are Good. Even now, she’s still walking like an Egyptian.’

Buffy looked back at Dawn, the sadness gone, and said brusquely “And you shouldn’t even think about it. You know it’s totally wrong to get involved with a vampire, or any demon, but – Spike? Jeez, Dawn, surely you should be able to learn from my mistakes. You aren’t even a Slayer, you are a normal healthy young girl, and you can’t throw yourself away on a relationship with Spike – you need a nice normal young man.”

She looked back to Spike. “And you – you always said that you cared about Dawn, if you really care about her, you’ll walk out of that door, and out of her life, and let her be a normal young woman, leading a normal life. Yes,” she said firmly, “If you care at all you’ll leave her in peace.”

Spike looked at Dawn. It was hard for her to read his expression, she found herself wishing that she had ‘Spider senses’ to get a clue about what he was thinking. There seemed to be sadness around his mouth, but a hint of amusement in his eyes. Then he spoke, “What do you want, pet? You know that I’ll always be around for you, forever. But if you want me to go, just say the word. I’ll come back when you need me.”

Dawn reached out, put a hand on his arm, and said “Stay.”


***


  • Chapter 18

  • 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.