She followed him out of the cemetery and through the dark streets of the town (‘the bad part of town’, Dawn thought). He continued to mutter to himself and she knew that she shouldn’t trust him, but she needed to find Wesley, more importantly, she needed to find out what Spike meant, how they knew each other. Had they done something? ‘And,’ a small voice in her head whispered. ‘Could we save Buffy?’
After a few minutes of seemingly random walking through turned streets and alleys Spike turned to her. She was sucking on a cigarette and had put her hood up; they were stopped in front of a scorched office. He took a key out of his pocket and handed it to her, but proceeded to knock the door off its hinges. (‘Yup, definitely crazy’ Dawn muttered)
“Honey, I’m home!” He shouted into the darkness as he walked into the building. Dawn followed, stubbing out her cigarette and taking out a stake.
They entered a side-room.
“Wes?” She shouted. As her eyes adjusted she saw the filth in which Spike had been living. Rat carcasses and liquor bottles were strewn across the dirty floor and there was a tangle of blankets shoved to one corner. Wesley was gagged in the corner, handcuffed to a rust-covered water pipe, his head slack.
She ran over and broke open the cuffs. Wesley looked at her and smiled.
“I think we’ve got a problem,” he said, coughing.
“So you’re telling me that I’m not supposed to be here?” Dawn said slowly, half an hour later.
“There were prophecies that didn’t come to pass…” Wesley replied, fumbling for the right words.
“Because she… ended it.” Dawn shook her head.
“You can’t blame her ‘bit”, Spike said, he had been surprisingly coherent throughout the conversation.
“Don’t call me that, don’t say my name like we’re there. I’m not that girl and you are not that man.” She lit a cigarette.
“I can see that and I’m trying,” he replied. His eyes flickered and he looked to the ceiling. “Can’t you show her? Tell her what I’ve done?” Once again, Dawn shook her head.
“There’s nothing there Spike. No Superheroes in the sky.” She said bitterly. “So, Wes, what are we going to do?” She turned to the grime-covered watcher.
“We need to take Spike somewhere safe. And we need to look for the people in your respective dreams. Dawn, I know that this isn’t Sunnydale, but Spike does have a soul. He cares about you.” On an after thought he added, “And he still cares about Buffy.”
“I guess he can stay at my place… it’s not like my dad would notice.” She said, standing up and looking at Spike with a look of resolve on her face heart-breakingly similar to Buffy’s. “My car’s back at Restfields.” She said as she walked out of the room, gripping the stake hard enough to drive splinters into her hand.
They walked back to the cemetery in silence, all three of them smoking, lost in their own thoughts. When they reached Dawn’s car she looked into Wesley’s eyes, her bottom lip trembling.
“I’m sorry I’m not a real slayer Wes… Sorry that she messed it up. But we can be heroes, right?” She said slowly. Looking at her he saw how damaged she was, and so young.
“We already are,” he replied.
As she drove away from him, Wesley was taken aback at how cruel the world had been to the girl. Losing a mother, sister, barely having a father and holding the weight of the world on her shoulders. One day, he feared, she would snap.
The next evening Dawn and Spike were in the basement smoking cigarettes and comparing dreams and reality.
“Your mum, she still died?” He asked looking into her eyes. Dawn looked away.
“When I was twelve, of an aneurism.”
“Did she suffer?” He said quietly.
“What?” Dawn narrowed her eyes.
“She was nice… I’m sorry.” He looked away from her. Dawn sat closer to him and looked into his eyes.
“I don’t know. I don’t think she knew she was sick; she wasn’t in the hospital or anything. I just found her one morning.” She took a deep breath and began to recite the story that she had told no one.
“My dad was out of town overnight so we were alone in the house. It was the first day back to school after winter vacation and I had been up for hours getting ready. I kept knocking on the bedroom door to see if she was awake but she didn’t answer. I just figured that she was tired. So I was all ready to go and I went into her room. The first thing that hit me was how still she was. I walked over to the bed and there she was, lying there with her eyes wide open and glazed over. I touched her cheek and she, she was cold. I knew she was dead. So I sat on the floor next to her, hoping that my dad would come home. And I waited for hours. It was dark when he came home. He found me in the room next to her and pushed me out of the way to get to the body. He was shouting, asking how long she had been like that, was I so stupid that I couldn’t think to call an ambulance? I just ran to my room, spent the night wide awake and went to school the next morning as if nothing had happened, murmuring excuses when people mentioned my absence the day before. I guess dad must’ve told the school, but no-one let on that they knew. I was like that for days, not sleeping and going to school a zombie. My dad was in shock, just sat in front of the TV drinking all day and night. Then, four days after it happened my mom’s sister, Arlene arrived. She took me out of school, sorted out my dad and we never really talked about it again. He just threw himself into work and let me do what I wanted.” She shook her head.
“I’m sorry,” Spike said.
“That you had to go through that, that your dad didn’t help you. That your mum died.” He said, ‘that Buffy wasn’t there for you’, he thought.
They stood up and walked up the stairs out of the basement.
“You wanna go kill things?” Dawn smiled as they reached the top.