Dawn stood in the entryway to the living room with her arms folded across her chest.
Buffy and Willow were huddled together on the couch. Buffy looked like she had been crying. Xander was behind them, leaning against the china cabinet. Tara was sitting off to one side, at mom’s old writing desk.
“Dawn!” Buffy shouted as she rushed off the couch and came over to Dawn, hugging her.
Dawn didn’t unfold her arms to return the hug. Buffy took the hint and backed off.
“So, I’m here and in one piece. Can I go take a shower now? I’m kind of icky,” she said, enjoying the sick look that crossed Buffy’s face.
“Are you?” Buffy started, “Did he?”
“Did he what? Hurt me? Bite me? Have sex with me?” Dawn asked coldly. Now Xander was the one looking green. Green and angry, she amended.
“Dawnie!” Willow admonished.
“What? Now everyone’s all interested in me?” Dawn said angrily, “For months no one had the time for smurfette.” Buffy had the good grace to look ashamed. Dawn continued, “Now that I’ve finally done something that you find unforgivable, you’re here to what? Save me? From what?”
“It’s not like that, Dawnie,” Willow said in a placating tone, “We’re worried about you, aren’t we guys?”
“What do you want from us, Dawnie?” Tara asked softly. “We’re here now.”
Dawn wanted to scream at Tara, but wouldn’t allow herself. Tara had been there for her, and it was just like her to group herself with the others to deflect Dawns anger.
“What do I want?” Dawn said softly, and laughed.
Buffy said plaintively, “Dawn, sit down so we can talk.”
Dawn was about to tell Buffy to go to hell, when Tara asked softly, “Dawn?”
Dawn sighed and sat in the chair across from the couch. Buffy sat down on the coffee table facing her.
“Dawn, honey, I know that you think you know what Spike is, but,” Buffy said cautiously, “he can’t be trusted.”
“‘He can’t be trusted’?” Dawn asked back, raising her eyebrows. “That’s the best you can come up with? There’s nothing any of you can say that I don’t know. He’s a killer, check. He can’t be trusted, check. He used me to get to Buffy, huge check. Believe me, that message came through loud and clear. Besides, what does it matter, he’s leaving anyway.”
“Oh, Dawn,” Willow said, “Did he say really say that?”
“What, you didn’t think he’d tell me?” Dawn asked.
“Well, no,” Buffy replied, looking surprised.
“Are you ok?” Tara asked.
Dawn turned to look at Tara. She nodded and said shrugging, “Yeah, I guess.”
“And let me guess, after that painful revelation, you slept with him again anyway,” Xander said coldly.
“Xander!” Buffy said turning to look at him in surprise, “There’s no way Dawn would…”
“Take a look at her face Buff, and tell me I’m wrong,” Xander said defiantly.
Buffy turned to look back at Dawn, “Please, tell me that’s not true.” When she got a good look at Dawn’s face, she said “You didn’t? Oh, God, you did!”
Dawn started defensively, “I just…”
“Dawn, he’s evil,” Xander said flatly.
“Well, yeah?” Dawn said incredulously, and then asked, “Isn’t that what you’re all trying to tell me?”
“Let me rephrase, because apparently it’s not sinking in. He’s a disgusting dead thing, and you slept with him,” Xander said angrily.
“Who are you to throw stones, Xander? Any of you?” Dawn was furious, “Raise your hand if you haven’t slept with a demon.”
Tara’s hand crept up, “Um.”
Dawn’s expression softened a bit when she looked at Tara. She looked around the room at everyone else “Anyone else?”
Xander raised his hand enthusiastically. “Hello!”
“Anya. You lost the right to say that when you slept with Anya.” Dawn argued.
“She was human,” Xander said indignantly, dropping his hand.
“Barely!” Dawn shouted indignantly, “Do you have any idea how much she missed being a demon? God, she wanted to eviscerate the cashier at the grocery store for not giving her correct change.”
“You know, Oz was only demony like three days a month” Willow said defensively, “and – and, it’s not like we ever did it when he was all wolfie.” Everyone turned to look at her. “And that’s really not on-topic,” she said quickly, “all of our demons had souls.”
“Oh and that makes it so much better,” Dawn said, crossing her arms.
“He is a soulless evil thing. And you let him touch you. You disgust me,” he said.
Dawn was stung by the vehemence in his words. It made her angry that they hurt so badly. Where had he been when she’d been practically screaming for someone to notice Buffy was imploding?
“What do you care,” she said scornfully, “It’s not like you’re ever around anyway.”
“I can’t listen to this crap. I’m outta here.” Xander said furiously, heading toward the door.
“Xander,” Buffy said and took a step toward him.
He turned around and looked at Buffy. Dawn got the strangest feeling that something else was going on.
When Buffy didn’t say anything more, Xander turned back toward the door. “I’m gone,” he said angrily, but there was a note to his voice that sounded almost resigned. He slammed the door on the way out.
Willow looked at everyone in confusion, before she got up and ran out after him. They heard her call, “Xander, wait,” before the door closed behind her.
Buffy turned to Dawn, and Dawn could see barely controlled anger on her face. “You want me to pay attention to you, fine. Then you’re staying where I can find you. You’re not allowed to leave the house, except for school.”
Dawn jumped up from her chair, and cried, “What! For how long?”
“Until I say so, or the world ends. Whichever comes first,” Buffy replied as she grabbed her jacket and pulled it on. “I’ll be back after I make sure Xander and Willow are safe.”
And with that, she walked out the front door.
Dawn turned to look at Tara, “Ok, what just happened?”
Tara stood up and said, “I think you just got grounded.”
Dawn shook her head. “You ever feel like everyone else got the script but you?”
Tara smiled. “All the time. You ok?”
“Yeah, well, other than the fact that in the last twenty-four hours I’ve been invisible, lost my virginity to an evil demon, and am now apparently grounded for life, I’m fine,” she said.
“You were invisible?” Tara asked sounding surprised.
“Nerds,” Dawn replied, unable to keep the slight waver out of her voice. “It was about Buffy.”
“Must seem like everything is,” Tara said.
“Spike,” Dawn said, and then paused and shook her head. “Never mind,” she said.
“No, what about Spike?” Tara asked.
“It’s no big deal,” Dawn said shrugging.
Tara sat down on the coffee table, and gestured for Dawn to sit next to her. “Your first time is a big deal, Dawn.”
Dawn sat down, put her hands in her lap and stared at them. She finally said, “It’s just that, I do know he’s evil, and he mostly was with me to get back at Buffy, but…”
“But you care anyway,” Tara finished. “He’s still special to you.”
“In a way, that’s good. Your first time should be with someone special,” Tara said, and then asked, “Do you love him?”
Dawn looked up at Tara, she had no idea of what to say. Everything was so mixed up in her head.
“It’s ok,” Tara said quickly, “You don’t have to answer that, it’s been a rough day for you. I was just trying to tell you that you can’t choose who you love, it just is.”
“A-are you and Willow going to get back together?” Dawn asked quietly.
“I don’t know, Dawn,” Tara said sadly. “I’d like to, but there are so many things that are hard to overcome. Even if you can’t choose who you love, love can’t always fix everything.”
“She’s always with that Amy girl. She’s a bad influence on her,” Dawn confided.
Tara smiled affectionately and said, “And you know bad, huh?”
“Oh yeah,” Dawn replied grinning, “I know bad.”
“We’ll figure things out, I suppose. Right now we’re kind of… holding,” Tara said coolly.
“How can you be so calm about it? What if things don’t work out and you never get back together?” Dawn asked.
“I’m not calm,” Tara said mournfully, “There’s a huge Willow-shaped hole in my belly. But that’s the way things work. Nothing can stay waiting forever, sooner or later there’s a push from the universe, and things just…move on.”
“I love you guys so much, I want you to work out,” Dawn said softly.
“Me too,” Tara said wistfully. Then she stood up, and said, “I’m going to head out, I kinda want to be gone when they get back. Will you…”
“Stay here?” Dawn finished, and stood up herself. “Yeah, I’ll stay. Nowhere to go anyway,” she said sadly.
“I’m not so sure about that,” Tara said cryptically. She walked to the entryway, grabbed her coat and put it on.
As Dawn was getting ready to open the door for her, Tara slid her hand in her coat pocket, and pulled something out.
“Never forget that I love you, Dawn,” she said. Then she was wrapping her arms around Dawn, hugging her tightly.
Dawn hugged her back, hard, and felt tears prick her eyes. “I love you too, Tara.” Somehow, the phrase ended up sounding like good-bye, and Dawn felt her throat tighten as a lump begin to form.
Tara pulled away, and slid both of her hands around one of Dawn’s, pressing something into Dawn’s palm. “Promise me you’ll stay safe,” Tara whispered.
Dawn felt her tears spill over onto her cheeks. She nodded, and whispered, “I promise.”
Tara nodded, and then released Dawns hand. She quickly opened the door and slipped out into the night.
Dawn looked at her hand to see what Tara had pressed into it. She looked in wonder at what she found there, a pretty silver ring with a purple stone set in the center. As she walked up the stairs to her room turned it over in her hands, wondering what it meant. The stone reminded her of something, but she couldn’t quite place it.
Dawn sat down on the bed. After she finished showering and drying her hair she’d gotten into her comfy fish pajamas and started flipping through one of her spell books. She’d had so much time to herself in the last week that she’d been able to practice quite a bit.
Every time she got stuck, she would think of what Spike told her and do things her way, not Willow’s or Tara’s.
Spike. She missed him so much.
Buffy patched things up with Willow and Xander after they’d stormed out of the house, and the three of them had taken a field trip to Spike’s crypt. Xander told her smugly that Spike had cleared out; he hadn’t left anything personal behind.
Dawn was just thankful that he had left, she’d been afraid he’d linger and that Buffy would stake him.
She spent most of her time in her room. That wasn’t part of her grounding, but she just wanted to avoid Buffy and Willow. Both of them had tried comforting her, but she really didn’t want to talk to them, even if they really were finally sincere in their efforts to repair things.
Dawn was so over it, she just didn’t care anymore. She’d given everyone more than enough chances.
She was withdrawing from her friends at school too. She couldn’t talk to them about what she was going through, so she clammed up and avoided them. She told them she was grounded until the twelfth of never, and couldn’t go anywhere because her bitch of a sister was on a major PMS rampage. They all nodded and said they knew what that was like, but they didn’t. They all had parents who were reasonably sane.
And how could she talk to anyone about Spike and what they’d done? Even Janice wouldn’t understand. Dawn barely understood. She knew that what they’d done wasn’t normal for someone’s first time, and the second time was carnival-side-show-off-the-chart.
So Dawn went to school and came home and went up to her room. For the first couple of days whenever Buffy had to work or slay, Willow stayed in the house to watch her. That got old fast, and so yesterday Willow had placed a ward around the house preventing Dawn from leaving the house unescorted. It was nearly the same spell she’d used ages ago to protect Dawn from Glory and her minions. Dawn was amused by the irony.
It was just like them to restrict her like this, so they could continue on about their lives uninterrupted. A mystical grounding, no actual parental-type intervention at all.
Willow should package it. She’d make a fortune.
Buffy also insisted that she carry a cell phone with her at all times. Like she was going to be skipping school. Where would she go? But she’d accepted the small phone anyway, and dutifully charged it every night.
She’d researched phone numbers on-line, intending to call Guam or somewhere, just to run up the charges, but that seemed so petty.
This evening, Willow and Buffy were both out. A shopkeeper in town had been killed, and her store was trashed. From the coroners report it seemed very likely a vamp attack, so they were investigating.
Dawn had half a mind to deliberately set off the ward alarm, but really didn’t want to sit through the screeching. Plus since she couldn’t turn it off, if the cops showed up she’d be screwed.
She really wasn’t paying attention to the summoning spell she had flipped to in the book. She was already getting pretty good at that one, anyway.
Her mind wandered to Tara’s ring, it was locked up in her jewelry box. Not the box on her dresser, but the other one. The one she kept locked and hidden in her closet because it contained all the pieces she’d stolen over the last few months. She still couldn’t figure out what the ring reminded her of, it was on the tip of her brain, driving her crazy. It looked so familiar, and yet the meaning eluded her.
She was about to shut the light off and go to bed, when the cell phone rang. It wasn’t like Buffy to call her on it at home. They only had so many minutes on the thing. Dawn walked over and picked it up. The number that flashed was unfamiliar and long distance. Where the hell was 212?
She should ignore it, but she was bored and even a 10 second ‘you’ve got the wrong number’ distraction was still a distraction.
“Hello?” she answered cautiously.
“Spike!” she hissed, looking around to make sure no one in the empty house had heard her. “Where are you? Are you ok? Wait, how did you get this number?”
Spike just laughed, “’m fine, Kitten. How’ve you been?”
“Ok, I guess,” she answered truthfully. “Buffy wants to be all sisterly again. Oh, and I’m grounded until the end of the world, which is looking like it’s going to be scheduled for May. Again.”
“Sorry you’ve had a tough time,” he replied sympathetically.
“Don’t worry about it, it was bound to happen over something,” she said shrugging. “Willow warded the house, I can’t leave.”
“Bet you’re working on a way to get out,” he said confidently.
“Well, I’ve been researching, but there’s only so much I can do from here. All the best books are at the Magic Box, and since that’s not school or home, it’s off limits. If Willow had embedded the spell in a crystal, I could just…” she broke off, her eyes flying to the closet, a thought half-forming in her mind. What if…
“Kitten, you there?” Spike asked.
“Huh? Oh, sorry.” She shook her head, she could figure that out later.
Dawn walked over and sat back down on her bed. “So, you’re gone. How’s the weather?” How’s the weather, how lame was that. Dawn rolled her eyes. So much for the cool girl he left behind.
“’Bout the same,” he replied, casually. “Been thinking about you.”
“Really?” she asked. Her heart sped up.
“Uh huh. You been thinking ‘bout me?” he asked, his voice dropping to a whisper and sounding husky. “Miss me?”
“Yeah, more than anything,” she said, just as softly. She started to get that ache between her legs again. The one that she tried and tried to make go away whenever she thought about him.
“I think about your pretty naked body, all spread out waiting for my touch,” he whispered. The thought sent shivers through Dawn’s body. He asked softly, “You think about it, too?”
“Yes,” she whispered in a small voice.
“Been touching yourself thinking about us? ‘Bout me?” His voice slipped over her like wicked smoke.
She blushed so hard she thought the buttons on the phone would melt. She closed her eyes and whispered, “Yes.”
“My naughty little girl,” he said sounding playfully stern. At least she thought it was playfully. She quickly rethought when he asked, “Know what happens to naughty little girls?”
“What?” Dawn whispered, under her breath. It was bad enough that she’d told him that she’d done that. If she’d also upset him, she didn’t know what she’d do. Her stomach started twisting in knots.
“They get punished,” he replied.
“I…Spike, I’m sorry, I won’t do it again. I promise,” she cried, now really really unsure if he was kidding. She felt tears prick her eyes.
“Shh, Kitten. Calm down,” he said, concerned. Any pretense at playing was now gone from his voice.
“I just…don’t want to make you unhappy,” she said miserably.
“What makes you think I’m unhappy?” he asked, his voice had completely lost the whispery light tone, and she could almost hear him frown.
“I mean, well, you said punished, and I thought,” she said in a rush.
“What did you think I meant?” he prompted gently, still sounding concerned.
“You’d leave me, forget me,” she replied forlornly. It was her single worst fear.
“’Bit, I’ll never leave you,” he said with so much conviction that it made Dawn catch her breath.
“What-what did you mean, with the punishment thing then?” she asked hesitantly.
“You trust me?” he asked, his voice slipping back into that sexy whisper again.
She didn’t even have to think about her answer. “Always,” she replied.
“Good girl. Can you put that phone of yours on speaker?”
“I don’t think so, but it came with one of those hands-free things,” she replied.
“Put it on then,” he said.
Dawn went to her desk and rummaged through the accessories for her phone. The ear piece with its wire connector was still in the phone box, wrapped pristinely in their bar-coded plastic bag. She opened the bag and unraveled the wire and plugged it in to the phone.
She placed the ear bud in her ear and said, “Got it.”
“Happen to have a ruler with your school supplies, Kitten?” he asked.
Dawn frowned. A ruler? “I don’t know, let me check.” She bent down and rummaged through her book bag, pulling out her purple pencil box. She paused at the image that emblazoned the front.
It was a sticker with the gang from Scooby-doo. She ran a finger over it for a second, remembering when Buffy gave it to her. ‘You’re one of the gang’ she’d said. When Dawn had asked which one, Buffy said with an evil smile ‘Scrappy’. Dawn had pretended to be upset about it, but inside she’d been flattered that Buffy thought she was one of the gang, even if it was the annoying one. She shook her head to clear the unwanted memory and opened the box. She found a hard plastic yellow ruler inside with her pens, pencils and other junk.
“Yeah, I have one,” she answered, still a little perplexed as to where he was going with this.
“Go sit on the bed for me and bring it with you,” Spike said
Dawn’s belly was clenching, but no longer in a bad way. She didn’t have a clue what Spike was up to, but she was getting aroused anyway. Something in his gentle firm tone making her shiver. She sat on the bed like he’d asked, and said, “I’m here.” She clutched the phone and the ruler nervously in her hands.
“Now Kitten, you know that you belong to me, don’t you?” he asked.
“Yes” she said, nodding.
“What do you think I’d do if you told me someone touched you? That you’d let someone touch you,” he asked seriously.
“Kill them,” Dawn said, without thinking.
“Well, yeah.” Spike replied. He quickly amended, “No, not what I’m going for. We’re playing now, Kitten, got it?”
Dawn was confused, not sure what he meant. She looked at the phone and the ruler in her hands and made the connection. She blurted out, “You’d punish them.”
“That’s my girl,” Spike said proudly. “So, Kitten, did you have permission to touch yourself?” he asked.
Dawn shook her head and said nervously, “No. Does that mean that I n-need to be punished?”
“That it does,” he replied.
“Will it hurt?” she asked him in a small voice.
“Would it be punishment if it didn’t?” he countered.
“No,” she whispered back.
“Take your clothes off, Kitten,” he ordered.
She scrambled to comply, pulling off her pants and panties and then unbuttoning her pajama shirt and slipping it off her shoulders. “O-ok,” she said nervously.
“Lie back on the bed, legs bent with your feet on the mattress. Put the ruler somewhere you can reach it,” he instructed.
Dawn followed his instructions, making sure the phone was somewhere secure as well. She was on her back with her knees bent, and she already felt a pulse point throbbing between her legs. “Ok, I’m on the bed.”
“Leave your feet where they are then, Kitten and spread your knees apart, as wide as you can get them.”
She felt herself getting wet at his command. She got even wetter as the cool air touched her. “I did it,” she said as her knees touched the comforter.
Spike hissed, and said, “God, I can imagine how lovely you are, Kitten, all spread open. Pick up your ruler now; it’s time for your punishment.”
A spark of fear raced down her spine, and she whispered, “Spike, I’m afraid.”
“I know. Do what you’re told, Kitten. It will be over soon,” he said soothingly, but his tone allowed no room for argument.
Dawn hesitantly picked up the ruler. It suddenly didn’t seem like an innocent school supply. “I have it,” she said, trying hard to keep the waver out of her voice.
“Ok, Kitten, listen carefully. Hit yourself as hard as you can on your inner thigh. Can you do that?”
She didn’t realize she’d been holding her breath, until she’d let it out. She could do that. She brought the ruler down as hard as she could, and hissed at the sting.
“That’s it,” Spike encouraged, “other side now.”
Dawn brought the ruler down on the other thigh. It was a bit more awkward, but the sting was the same.
Back and forth she went, striking herself on Spike's command. The initial strike would sting and hurt, but faded quickly to more of a hot sensation. The more times she struck the same area, though, the more it hurt. She was ashamed to find that the pain in no way diminished her arousal.
When he finally told her she could stop, both thighs were pink and her skin there felt tender, similar to the prickly heat of a sunburn. She realized she was panting from exertion.
“You ok, Kitten?” he asked gently.
“Yes,” she said softly, still panting.
“You did so well, I’m proud of you,” he said, sounding pleased.
She flushed at the praise and wasn’t sure what to say.
“Reward time, you still slick, Kitten?” he asked, his voice smoky once again.
She was embarrassed that he knew she was wet, but didn’t try to convince him otherwise. “Yes.”
“Bring your ruler up. I want you to run it across your nipples until they’re nice and hard.”
“I, oh. Ok.” She did as he asked, lightly running the sharp corner over one nipple, and then the other. Back and forth she stroked them until they were almost painfully hard. She was breathing hard again, and her hips were rocking gently.
She realized that if she held the ruler the right way, she could stroke both nipples at once. The first time the edge ran across both tight nubs she moaned in pleasure. She had to force herself to keep her empty hand at her side. She wanted nothing more than to bury it between her legs and relieve the ache.
“Feel good, Kitten?” he asked. She thought he sounded a little breathless too.
“Yes,” she answered, and then with a flash of insight asked, “Are you…?”
“Touching myself?” he finished, “Oh, yeah. Wishing I was there watching you play with your toy. Bring it down now. Use the edge to stroke your clit.”
She gasped at his instruction, but was more then eager to comply. Her pussy was throbbing, and she needed to come. This was so much more intense than the other times when she’d touched herself.
She slid the ruler down between her legs, and ran it across her clit. It wasn’t enough stimulation to allow her to come, the thin edge was just enough to ease the ache a bit, but created another. She was moaning softly now, as she rocked herself into the little bit of relief she was getting.
“God, Kitten, want to bend you over and fuck you right now,” Spike panted, and Dawn was thrilled that he was as needy as she was, “Use the broad side now, hold it between your legs and ride it until you come for me.”
“Oh God,” she cried, and gratefully did as he asked. She thrust against the flat edge of the plastic, rocking and rubbing herself against it. It was different than when she had used her fingers, but she was so worked up that the effect was the same.
She slightly shifted the angle of the ruler, and suddenly the raised plastic ridges marking the measurements were grating across her clit. She frantically churned her hips against this new stimulation. Between the little ridges, her hard nipples waving in the cool air, and the hot tingle of the flesh on her thighs she was so, so, so close.
“Fuck, pet, come for me.” She heard Spike plead, and that did it. A picture of him standing at the foot of her bed, touching himself and watching her sent her over the edge.
“Oh, god, yessss. Spike!” she cried as she came. Her whole body quivered with the force of her release.
She heard him gasp as if he was holding his breath, and then grunt. He was coming himself. She’d made him come, or helped anyway. With phone sex. That thought gave her a shiver of pride
“That was brilliant, Kitten,” Spike said, still panting a bit.
Dawn brought the slick ruler out from between her legs and dropped it onto the floor. She’d have to get up later and wash it off. She had no idea how she was ever going to use it again in class.
“You there, ‘Bit?” Spike asked, his voice back to normal.
“Barely,” she replied. She felt as if she melted. Her nipples were super tender, and so was the area between her legs. She wouldn’t realize how tender until she went to the bathroom hours later.
“How’re you feeling?” he asked.
She ran her fingers lightly across one of her thighs. She couldn’t believe that she’d hit herself. And enjoyed it. The skin was tingling now. Not really painful, but she felt …marked.
“Yeah, I’m ok,” she replied, “That was intense.”
“That it was,” he agreed. “So, you going to touch what’s mine again?”
She grinned stupidly, even though he couldn’t see it. “Maybe.”
He laughed. “Might not get off so easily next time, Kitten.”
“Will there be a next time?” she asked hopefully.
“That how you want to live your life, Kitten? Waiting for calls from me?” Spike sounded almost disappointed.
“What do you mean?” she asked.
“Seems like a waste is all. Hate to think of you withering away, unappreciated,” Spike replied.
“I can’t get to wherever you are, even if I could leave,” she said sadly.
“There’s a reason they’re called mobile phones, Kitten,” Spike replied, “Think it over.”
And with that, he was gone.
She lay there for a few minutes, trying to process what he said, but it was late and she was tired. She’d have plenty of time to figure things out tomorrow. She took the ear bud out and put the phone on her nightstand.
She crawled under the covers naked, too tired to get back into her pajamas. She felt like her nudity made her closer to Spike in some weird romantic way.
As she drifted off to sleep, she thought she heard the slam of a car door, followed by the loud rumble of an engine as a car roared to life and took off to parts unknown.
Out the window and down the darkened street, Dawn saw an old car parked under a tree. It was a wide black or dark blue car from the 50’s or 60’s, the kind that always made her think of greased hair, leather jackets and rumbles. Every once in a while she’d also catch the cherry red glow of a cigarette flaring in the darkness.
It was now or never.
She slipped Tara’s ring on and grabbed the small bag she had packed, slinging it over her shoulder. It held her few spell books, some jewelry, a couple of pictures, and a few other necessities she’d thrown in. She’d worry about everything else later.
Taking a deep breath, she held her hand up and said, “Aufero.” The nails Xander had painstakingly hammered into the window to seal it shut more than a week ago extracted themselves and fell softly to the ground.
She took a last look at the room, her eyes lingering on things scattered here and there, each bit a memory in its own right. Her gaze finally came to rest on the piece of paper she had placed in the center of the bed. Unwelcome tears filled her eyes before she blinked them back. “Goodbye, Buffy,” she whispered, so softly she could barely hear herself.
She lifted the sash and climbed out the window.
She’d been a little unsure if the protection charm Tara had embedded in the amethyst would hide her from the ward as well as Buffy. Turns out, it did. Dawn had tested it by surreptitiously dropping a book outside the house on her way home from school, then sneaking back out to pick it up after Buffy had gone in the house. The ward hadn’t reacted. She was hidden, as she had been in Spike’s crypt. Tara had used a larger amethyst for that spell, but the premise was the same. It kept her from being detected by supernatural means. Demons, spells, anything. Dawn was safe, but more importantly, she was free.
Somehow Dawn wasn’t surprised when she opened the passenger door of the car and the overhead light didn’t come on. She dropped her bag on the floor, slid into the passenger seat, and closed the door behind her.
They sat in silence for a few moments. Spike calmly smoked his cigarette, flicking ash out his window every few puffs. Dawn looked out the windshield and down the block.
“The chip’s out, isn’t it?” she asked, still not looking at him. She didn’t know why she even bothered making it a question.
“Yep,” he answered, and flicked the butt out the window. Dawn watched as it arced out in front of the car before exploding in a shower of sparks on the road.
“Are you going to hurt them?” she asked quietly, and finally turned to look at him.
How she could have missed that his chip had been out the entire time was beyond her. She saw it now, the flush of color in his face, the barely concealed look of a predator in his eyes. And while he still looked thin, he no longer looked gaunt. Even the set of his shoulders was different.
“Depends,” he said, indicating her bag. “You coming?”
She shook her head. “Uh-uh, Spike. No deal,” she said firmly, “You want me, fine, I’m yours. They’re off the table - permanently. If I leave, then it’s me you come after. You’re done with all of them: Buffy, Willow, Xander, Tara, Giles. Everybody.”
“Even the bricklayer?” Spike asked, trying to sound disappointed. “He’s fucking your sister, you know.” His voice was a mixture of scorn and glee.
Dawn almost heard the click of the final piece sliding into place. She finally understood why Xander had been so distant. Scattered bits of the few conversations they’d had over the last couple of months resurfaced and finally made sense.
She shook her head and replied, “Even him. Especially him. It’s not his fault he got sucked in by hurricane Buffy.
“So?” she asked seriously.
“It’s the word of a demon, ‘Bit,” he said, his expression equally serious.
“Promise me, Spike,” she said firmly.
He sighed and rolled his eyes before saying, “Fine, the cartoon kiddies are off the menu. Happy?”
As he started the car, Dawn laughed and said, “You’re such a drama queen.”
“C’mere,” he said, holding his arm out.
She slid across the seat until she was pressed up against him, and he wrapped his arm around her shoulder. He put the car into drive and pulled away from the curb, tires squealing, and asked, “Where to?”
“Anywhere,” she answered simply.
Perplexed and full of dread, Buffy reached down and picked up the note off of Dawn’s comforter.
Before she was even a third of the way through, she thumped down hard on the bed as her knees gave out.
By the time she was halfway through it, tears were streaming down her face.
Freely sobbing when she finished reading, she clutched both the note and Dawnie’s pillow to her chest and curled herself up into a ball, sick with regret and worry.
Every painful word echoed through her head:
Read Book 2
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