Ten Years After

Chapter 18

Before Buffy could say anything else, Dawn turned to her, took a deep breath, and said “Buffy, there is something else that I had wanted to tell you first, before I said anything about Spike to you, but it’s all ended up backwards now, and I’m sorry. I sent the picture by accident, and it was not the best place to start explanations at all.

“I had wanted to sit down with you somewhere quiet, preferably with a nice glass of wine, and start at the beginning. You see there is something totally wrong in a lot of what you’ve just said, no – let me finish – just this once don’t cut in on me,” she added, as Buffy opened her mouth. Buffy glared, but said nothing.

Dawn’s hand had moved down Spike’s arm, and her fingers were now twined with his. “There is something else, which is much more important than me and Spike,” she said with a slightly apologetic sideways glance at Spike. He squeezed her fingers a little, and gave an almost imperceptible nod; he obviously didn’t mind her putting it that way.

“It would be a good idea if we at least sit down, and if you took your coat off,” she said to Buffy, “and even though it’s not exactly how I planned to tell you this, perhaps a glass of wine might not be a bad idea anyway, and have you eaten yet Buffy?”

Buffy looked slightly non-plussed by the change of pace, and the change of subject, but Dawn continued to look at her steadily; and finally Buffy said “A few hours ago, on the plane,” and, taking her coat off, sat down as Dawn had suggested.

Dawn rang room service, and ordered wine, and a tray of sandwiches – she suddenly felt hungry herself. Buffy continued to watch Spike. Spike wandered around, then opened the curtain and stood looking out at Paris, absent-mindedly patting his pockets a couple of times. ‘Not as cool as he looks then,’ Dawn thought, ‘that’s a where-did-I-put-my-ciggies reflex.’

Making conversation whilst waiting for the room service waiter, Dawn asked Buffy how she’d know how to find her, and Buffy brought out her phone, and that damned picture again. In the background was the entrance, with ‘L’Hotel du Vieux Saule’ written on the door. Dawn’s face broke into a grin “Yay, Buffy! You’ve got into the research thing at last!” she laughed “I didn’t even notice!”

Slowly Buffy’s expression softened a little, and she smiled. “See, not always just Action Girl here. I can do observant when I try hard.”

Dawn sat on the edge of Buffy’s chair, and put her arms around her sister, who suddenly hugged her back, fiercely. Spike looked over, and smiled briefly.

The knock on the door, and the arrival of sandwiches and wine meant no meaningful conversation for a little longer. Dawn moved onto the end of her bed, and Spike sat beside her, their thighs touching. Buffy glared at the touching thighs, Dawn and Spike ignored her, and in the end she looked back to the food.

Dawn broke the silence, “Buffy, when I sent you that text a few days ago I said there was something odd, to do with my Keyness, but there was no hurry about telling you. But it is why I wanted to find Spike, and so I want you to understand.”

“All that Key stuff was over and done with years ago, once we got rid of Glory,” Buffy said. I can’t see what it has to do with now.”

“That’s the trouble,” Dawn said, “you just don’t see something which you probably should, especially as you are currently staring it in the face!”

“What on Earth are you talking about?” Buffy asked, rather crossly.

“You kept saying that I ought to settle down to a nice normal life, with a nice normal young man, because I’m a nice normal young girl; but I’m not. I am so not normal that I don’t think it would be fair on any nice young man to get involved with him.” Dawn began.

“Hey! Are you implying I’m not nice, or not young, or not man here, pet?” Spike asked, with amusement in his voice.

“Idiot! You are a Big Bad Ancient Vampire! So all of the above!” Dawn answered, pulling a face at him. She noticed Buffy giving them a Hard Stare, but thought ‘Just deal, Buffy.’

“Buffy I want you to really look at me, for a whole minute, and think about why you think about me as ‘normal healthy young girl’ as I think you said earlier.” Dawn paused, and although Buffy snorted in a rather unladylike fashion she didn’t say anything.

“Now think about how old you are, and how old that makes me, Buffy.” Dawn continued. “You are thirty-three, and I am twenty-seven. But you still think of me as ‘girl’ because I don’t look like I’m twenty-seven. Buffy I don’t look as if I am only six years younger than you!”

“Well you’re lucky, Dawn, you didn’t have to go out to work after Mom died, you didn’t have all the strain of being Chosen, or of being dead for that matter! And you don’t have two children to run around after, no wonder I’m looking old.” Buffy answered crossly.

“But that’s the whole point, Buffy, You don’t look old, you are an extremely fit thirty-something, but I am not ageing Buffy!”

“Don’t be silly, Dawn!” Buffy said immediately, “You’ve just got good genes, and you don’t have any stress, there’s nothing odd about it at all!”

“Buffy, listen to me. Giles agrees …” Dawn began, but Buffy cut in.

“And since when has Giles been an expert on how girls mature?”

“Well probably since he became your Watcher,” Dawn answered, slightly sharply, “or since he was surrounded by hordes of Slayers. But actually on this point he agrees with me since he got the lab test results back! My body has not aged by a day since somewhere around my twentieth birthday, and it isn’t likely to, either, as far as anyone can tell.

“Buffy, I am an Immortal. Like in Highlander. Or even like The Great Wanker.”

“You can’t be.” Buffy said, flatly.

“I am. I don’t really want to be, but I am,” Dawn answered, slightly sadly.

“You can’t be,” Buffy said again, “because if we are going to go back to that Key business, which I would have preferred not to, then you were made from me, and so if you are ‘immortal’, then I am. And as you so kindly pointed out, I am ageing quite normally, thank you.”

“I don’t think it’s that simple, Buffy,” Dawn answered, seriously. “If I was totally a clone then I would have been a Slayer, or at least a Potential Slayer, and we know that I’m not. I may have been made from you, but I’m not a replica, we are not exactly the same. You don’t have The Key as part of you, and I do.”

“You did.” Buffy said, “But like I said, that was just to do with Glory, it stopped existing when I died instead of you, and the portal opening thing didn’t work.”

“Damn cloaking spells!” Dawn said, and Buffy looked at her with a puzzled expression.

“They’re bloody good, aren’t they?” Spike said, conversationally.

“What the Hell are you two talking about?” Buffy asked, sounding rather annoyed.

“The Key was not a short term one-shot thing at all. The Key still exists, I am still it, it is still me. In certain lights, from certain angles, I am a ball of green glowing light. Now if I can deal with that piece of knowledge and not be totally wigged, I’m sure you can get your head around it!” Dawn said, sounding rather frustrated.

“No, I don’t think I can, actually. You are my sister, you are a normal young gi- … woman, and now you are trying to tell me that you are immortal, you are some sort of dangerous magical something, and you want to get it together with my ex … ex … ex-something, who is a vampire – even though you know human and vampire relationships never work.

“I don’t see any reason for me to not be totally wigged. I have a right to be as wigged as Tina Turner, Cher and Dolly Parton put together, with that guy Burt whatever thrown in as a side-order.” Buffy said, still sounding rather bad tempered.

“Reynolds,” said Spike, earning himself another Buffy glare.

“Buffy,” Dawn said in a placating tone, “The monks who guarded The Key for centuries weren’t just waiting for Glory to show up, and then going to try and stop her getting it. If it had been that simple they could have just destroyed The Key in the beginning, when they first found it, or if they created it, then just not bothered to create it.

“The Key would seem to be a multi-use item which can be used to create an inter-dimensional portal without it needing to be completely destroyed,” she continued in her ‘Watcher voice’. “However because it is such an important device, a multi-layered set of cloaking spells have always been in place around it, and Giles thinks even more may have been added when I was created to contain The Key.

“Your constant desire to ‘forget about that old thing’ and to believe that The Key is old history and no longer exists is probably almost entirely the effect of the cloaking spells. Tomorrow you’ll probably wake up and either have forgotten this conversation, or be convinced that nothing I’ve told you can possibly be true, or at least The Key part of it, and that I made no sense at all. But just for now, try hard to believe what I am saying, and if you can get your head around it, write yourself a note or something – that’s what Giles has to do, even with lots of magical assistance for his research.”

“You do sound just like a Watcher, you know that?” Buffy said, but she sounded less inclined to argue.

‘Hey, if I put on a Watcher’s voice she takes notice – Giles’ training had more effect than he ever realised, for sure!’ Dawn thought.

“But even if it is true that you are still The Key, I don’t see why that should stop you ageing.” Buffy continued.

“Because if it’s existed for so long the monks wouldn’t have wanted it to stop existing in less than a hundred years, I guess,” Spike answered her, before Dawn had a chance.

“Although we don’t know that for sure yet, it might just be that the presence of The Key in me acts as a sort of preservative, or it might be a bit of both. That’s the sort of thing Giles is trying to find out. And now that I’ve had some time to think about it I’m going to help him myself when I get home,” Dawn said.

“I still can’t see what he has to do with it!” Buffy said, giving Spike another of her special glares.

“Buffy, I wish that you would stop talking about Spike as if he isn’t here!” Dawn snapped, and Buffy actually seemed to be somewhat chastened by that, as she looked just slightly apologetic.

Spike didn’t look too upset about the way Buffy talked about him rather than to him – “’S all right, pet – been there before – it’s because she’s upset, that right, Slayer?” he asked.

Buffy didn’t answer directly, but did re-phrase her original remark. “OK, why did it make you go looking for Spike? If Giles is doing research into all this for you?”

Dawn gripped Spike’s hand before answering “It’s kinda scary. The idea that one day nobody you know will be left. Knowing that you’ll never be able to just make new friends, without having to bear in mind that you’ll eventually have to drop them before they realise that you aren’t getting any older. I don’t think I can ever have children – how would they cope with a Mom who is still twenty when they are? Or when they have children of their own?

“I just wanted to talk to someone who knew how it felt – and I only know of three people who could have any idea, The Immortal, Angel or Spike. If you were me, which one would you try to go to?”

Buffy didn’t answer for a minute, and then slowly she nodded her head. “I hadn’t thought about it not being a good thing, I guess. And I suppose Spike is the one of those three you know the best.

“I know you were a good friend to Dawn,” she continued, speaking directly to Spike this time, “and I never really thanked you for it. I never really thanked you for lots of things, even when sometimes you were the only person who seemed to believe in me. I never even thanked you for burning up for us all in the Hellmouth. I’m sorry. It’s a bit late now, but thanks. And thanks for being able to give Dawn advice about all … this … if Giles finds out that it is really true.”

“No problem, pet,” Spike answered, but before he could say anything else Buffy continued her speech.

“But I don’t want you involved in her life – well maybe as a friend that she can meet up with now and again,” she said. “But no romancing, and things, ‘cos you know as well as I do that no good can come out of it. Me and you – didn’t work, me and Angel – didn’t work. I thought it could maybe work, those last couple of months in Sunnydale, but even though we depended on each other it wasn’t proper love. I knew when I looked back. Humans and vampires need different things!” she concluded.

Spike looked at her levelly for a long moment. “Me and Dawn, that’s up to us. We want to shag each other senseless that’s our business, and no more yours than you marrying your husband was Dawn’s decision. I’m glad for you that you’ve got what you wanted; good husband, nice kids. But just because you and me, or you and Angel, or for that matter you and the bloody Immortal, weren’t what you really wanted doesn’t give you any right to tell either of us what’s right and what isn’t. Maybe the fact that all three of those relationships that didn’t work had you in them should tell you something!”

Buffy looked stunned.

‘Well that’s pulling no punches,’ Dawn thought.

Before either of them could say anything, Spike continued “Obvious really. What you’ve got now is what’s right for you, so none of us were going to be. So Buffy and non-normal male doesn’t work. Maybe Slayer and vampire or whatever doesn’t work.” He tilted his head slightly to one side. “Even if you’re right, and your experience can be applied to all human females (which is claiming a lot for yourself), if you’ve been listening you would get that Dawn is not a normal human female – much less normal than you. She is going to need me, and I’m going to be here for her. For as long as she wants, like I said before. And now you know exactly what that means.”

Dawn glanced back to Buffy and saw that her sister was in full ‘deer caught in the headlights’ mode, completely still and with her eyes wide.

“You go find her a ‘nice normal young man’ who can cope with it, and maybe Dawn’ll decide to drop me,” Spike went on. “But I’ll still be around for her afterwards, however she needs me. I’ve survived all these things for all these years, and I think maybe this is why.”

Dawn still had Spike’s hand in hers, and she squeezed it, hard. “Buffy, you are my sister, my family, and I love you; but when it comes to anything between me and Spike, you are just going to have to deal. We don’t know exactly what we’ve got at the moment; we need time to work out just what our relationship is, and it will have ups and downs, but it doesn’t depend on what you want. You didn’t want Spike, you told me so yourself, and you probably think that you are doing this for me. But to be quite honest, just at the moment the words ‘dog’ and ‘manger’ come to mind.”

There was a long silence.

“OK, OK. I give in. I still think you’re wrong. But if you must make your own mistakes go ahead.” Buffy said, testily. “You are right, this whole Immortal Dawn thing is more important. I want to know more about it. And if these cloaking spells make it so damn hard for anyone to remember The Key’s existence, or see it as important or whatever, and Giles can only work on it with magical help, how come you and Spike can remember?”

“Good question!” Dawn said, with some relief, and genuine enthusiasm, because Buffy wasn’t renowned for insightful questions – action she did brilliantly, but insight – not so hot usually!

“I’ve never forgotten about being The Key. I didn’t exactly think about it every day, but it would only take someone talking about light-energy at Uni for me to think ‘Hey! If only you knew!’

“I sometimes wondered if I was just normal now or not, and I used to avoid weird people on the streets in case I made them crazier. Quite often when I’d ‘remember’ something I would think ‘No, it didn’t really happen,’ but it didn’t really upset me much.

“Spike though – well I’m not sure – do you have trouble remembering it, love?” Dawn asked.

“Nah! Didn’t think of it the minute you e-mailed or anything, but when I looked at you and things, and realised you were not as old as I’d expected, I thought ‘Ah – it’ll be something to do with her Keyness’. Got no problem remembering any of the stuff you tell me about your conversations with old Rupert either,” Spike answered, and then after a moment’s thought he continued, “Can’t be anything to do with being a vampire either, because that’d be bloody stupid – last people you’d want to always remember that they could use you, or The Key before you, to open a portal. Imagine how easy it would have been for Angelus to ‘end the world’, or The First to get all his uber-vamps here if they just thought ‘I know! I’ll use The Key!’

“Must just be me. I dunno. Maybe just shows I’m right about being here for you. Maybe it’s because I’m below the radar, too unimportant for the cloaking spells to notice – dunno really.”

“I hadn’t really thought about it,” Dawn admitted. “Can I tell Giles? Would you mind?”

Buffy looked as if she was going to say something, probably to complain about Dawn asking Spike’s permission to talk to Giles about it, but closed her mouth again, as Spike answered ‘No problem, would have mentioned it before if it’d occurred to me that people like Buffy might be affected by the spells.”

‘She might not be; Willow seems able to remember,’ Dawn thought, ‘but best give her the benefit of the doubt!’

Out loud Dawn said “Anyway, it was a really good question Buffy, and Giles will be interested I’m sure.

“Now can we maybe stop talking about it? Can you just accept that there is something pretty odd with me, and I’m getting to grips with it, and Giles and Willow are researching it? Also can you please just get your head around the fact that Spike and I are dating and stop nagging about it? Then we can get down to other more practical things like where are you staying?”

Buffy answered “Actually I haven’t booked anywhere. I could go and ask at Reception if I can have a room here.”

Dawn looked at Spike, and made an almost imperceptible gesture with her eyes towards the other bed. He nodded slightly.

“You can have the other bed in here.” Dawn said. “I can go down and check it with the receptionist, but there shouldn’t be any problem.” ‘Especially as there was no problem with Spike using it!’ she thought.

“Yes, that’ll be good, um, yes; I can ring Phil and let him know.” Buffy said.

“Fine. You do that, and I’ll go down to Reception.” Dawn suggested.

“I’ll come down with you, pet.” Spike said immediately. “Be on my way home.”


***


Spike and Dawn walked slowly down the corridor to the stairs, arm in arm. “Didn’t go too badly.” Spike said.

“Well, we’re still both standing,” Dawn answered, smiling slightly, “Are you OK? How did you feel, meeting her again? I know you really loved her.”

“I’m fine. I can still see the attraction. Just don’t feel it any more. Maybe the attraction was the contrast between her and Dru. White to black, day to night, that sort of thing. But to be honest, you’re so much easier to love, pet.” Spike answered, as they reached the staircase.

“Love?” Dawn asked.

“Yes. Still some of the old love, because I loved the teenaged Nibblet, always trying to live up to her sister. But I think there’s new love as well. Want to make you happy, pet. Don’t want to tie you down, well not unless you’re into that sort of thing,” he added grinning.

“Never thought about it!” Dawn answered, laughing.

“Yes, well, like I said, don’t want to tie you down, but I knew when I saw both of you together, that now, for me, you’re the one that shines, you’re the important one. Could love you an awful lot, Dawn.” Spike said seriously.

“Me? Shiny? You sure you’re sane?” Dawn said, still laughing, but stopping on the landing, she pulled his head towards hers, and the kiss only ended when Dawn had to come up for air.


***


  • Chapter 19

  • 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.