Author’s Notes: I took some of Trollprincess’ (now apocalypsos') work as a personal challenge. Her wittiness is here: 1,001 Fandom Baby Names -- The Rules For Naming Your Child In the Fandom World
Disclaimer: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel the Series, and all associated characters are property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy Productions, United Paramount Network, and Fox Television. This work is not for profit, and no ownership of aforementioned copyrighted material implied, nor any infringement intended.
* * *
Spike reclined upon the couch, ankles crossed and head cushioned by one armrest. Gently flickering light from the fireplace played across the room while he was engrossed in a volume of Keats. The real illumination was provided the table-lamp over his shoulder. Dawn suppressed a smirk as she observed him from her armchair on the other side of the lamp. Spike hated being called cute, but sometimes it was nearly impossible for Dawn to hold her tongue.
A loud pop from the fireplace--a bit of sap in the log--momentarily startled Dawn from her reverie. She never would have thought that he’d pick her, after all... But after Spike had come back from the dead things hadn’t been the same for him and Buffy. Not that Spike had seen fit to tell them he had returned. And goddess, hadn’t that been a sore point!
* * *
“ Spike, you’re here!” The younger Summers’ tone was somewhere between euphoric and hysterical. She stood as if rooted to the pavement of the London street.
“’Lo, Nibblet.” Spike stood, looking like he had for as long as she’d known him. Bleached and angular and wrapped in black leather. The harsh electric lights at the end of the street cast long shadows of three people that stood facing each other.
“Spike?” Buffy’s voice quavered almost unnoticeably. “What are you doing here?” The Slayer’s voice wasn’t quite accusing.
“Heard through the grapevine that Lil’ Bit was goin’ to Oxford. Thought I’d stop by and look her up.” Spike felt his agitation increasing, and reached into his duster for his cigarettes.
Dawn opened her mouth to speak, but her older sister replied first. “All the way from America, and of course you had NO idea I’d be here.”
Spike lit a cigarette and took a drag. He used the momentary pause to bite back the first nasty comment that came to mind. “Actually, I didn’t.”
Buffy arched an eyebrow. “Really.” Sarcasm radiated off her in waves.
“Anyhow, Slayer, you knew I was back. Not my fault you were too busy shaggin’ your way across Europe to hop on a plane to L.A.”
“Bastard!” Buffy’s hand arced out to slap the blonde vampire. And was blocked as he caught her wrist in a powerful grip. “Ow!”
“They’ll be none o’ that this time ‘round, Buffy.” Spike’s tone was firm. He let go of her wrist and moved back half a step.
Buffy stared at the vampire who had been her savior and her tormentor, pledged his undying love for her, and who had now apparently gotten over her. “Fine. I’m glad to see you’re still not dead...dusty, whatever.” Spike smirked at the latter, and Buffy continued angrily, “But we have already have plans for the evening. If you want to contact me, you can do it through the Council. Through Andrew. Let’s go, Dawn.”
Dawn had watched the whole scene. She did not allow even a hint of speculation to creep across her face. “Buffy, go ahead and meet Giles. I’ll be along in awhile.”
Buffy looked stunned, then her gaze hardened. “Fine.” The clicking of her heels could be heard over the evening traffic for some time.
The Key and the vampire had ended up in a small pub, sitting across a dark battered table from each other. The brunette interrupted the blond’s tale every few sentences for comment or clarification. “And this shoeshine-“
“Shanshu,” Spike corrected.
“--prophecy says the vampire with the soul will become human.”
“And you think it’ll be you?”
“Was sort of hopin’.” Spike took another sip of his Guinness.
“Wow. That’s just...wow. What do Angel and the others think?”
“That it’ll probably be him.”
“Hmm. But they’re biased.”
“You know, I really missed you Spike.” She looked into his eyes, looking for something elusive. The vampire matched her gaze. For a long while they said nothing, each gazing at the other.
Spike broke the silence just before it became uncomfortable. “Wonder if this place serves a Bloomin’ Onion?”
* * *
The front door banged open and Dawn was roused from her memories.
“Yes, pumpkin?” She smiled at her son’s boundless enthusiasm.
“Uncle Thander took uth on Pirath of the Caribbean!” When the boy spoke, the air whistled through the gap his left front tooth had occupied that morning.
Spike smiled. “And you traded your tooth for an E ticket?”
“No, dadda. It was looth, ‘member?”
“Yes, little big man, I remember.”
Xander Harris entered the house and closed the door with the toe of one loafer. His arms were filled with a sleeping bundle wrapped in a pink jacket, thumb in its mouth. “Man, I’m beat!”
“Told ya not to take both of the rugrats to Disneyland by yourself, Harris.” At Spike’s tone Dawn stretched out her leg and gently kicked her husband in the back of the head. He took the none-too-subtle hint. “Really ‘preciate it thought, mate.”
“It was my pleasure, Spike. Besides, I figured you two could use a break from the midget wrestlers.”
“Belly flop!” This was announced just as the six-year-old launched himself through the air towards his unsuspecting father still lying on the couch.
“Crimeny, Harris, the rat’s wired!”
“Well, we did stop by the DoubleMeat for the new Super Fudgey Freezy.”
Dawn’s forehead wrinkled. “And how is my daughter managing to sleep after ingesting Goddess-knows how much sugar and preservatives?”
Xander had the grace to blush. “Umm...Brendan and I split hers after she fell asleep waiting in the drive-through.”
“Want a beer, mate?” Spike was expertly maneuvering his son into a position where young knees and elbows did not prod him uncomfortably.
“Naw. Thanks, though. Trish is expecting me in...” An awkward glance at his watch around the pink bundle showed him the time. “Crap. Gotta run.”
Dawn rose to collect her precious bundle from her friend. “Thanks again Xander.”
“Yeah, thanks a heap.”
It fell to Spike to ensure their son had his face washed and teeth brushed for bed while Dawn changed a drowsy Kristen into footy pajamas. Spike was not quite sure how he was blackmailed into providing a bedtime story for his eldest. It seemed to him there had been a lot of that lately, but he was persuaded to fulfill the role of storyteller once more.
“Tell me a thcary thtory dadda.”
“Right-o. Well, once there was a terribly broody vampire, with very scary gelled hair-“
“Dadda, not about Uncle Angel!”
“Hmm. Something else scary. Okay. Once upon a time there was a very bad monster. He was captured by some doctors and they put a computer chip in his head.”
“Well, it was for the monster. He almost died before he learned that he could be a good monster.”
“Then he tried to help people. Even though the good guys didn’t trust the monster. But he still helped them fight the evil queen with a bad perm.” Spike paused, his mind drifting back to that terrible year.
“The monster tried to save the faerie princess, but he wasn’t quite good enough. But her sister saved her, and the princess did not forget about the monster that tried to help. And one day, after many amazing adventures with him, she realized that she loved the monster, because he wasn’t really a monster on the inside.”
“Really?” This came out as a yawn.
“Really. The princess and her good monster said they didn’t care what the royal family thought. But by now they all liked the monster, too.” Spike stopped, for a change in breathing told him his firstborn had finally fallen asleep.
After pulling the covers up a little higher over his son, Spike quietly finished the tale “And one day the faerie princess kissed the monster and he became a real man. And they lived happily ever after.”
Spike closed the door softly. He turned, and nearly collided with a faerie princess with brown eyes and a dusting of freckles. She smiled warmly. “That’s not quite how I remember the story.”
“Uh, well, I just wanted to put him to sleep. Didn’t think he needed the blow by blow an’ all.”
“About how his father helped save the world half a dozen times, and put his life on the line for the faerie princess who bore his children?”
“Ahh...I thought you meant about becoming human an’ all.” Spike stared at the ground. After a second he peeked up to see Dawn barely containing her laughter at his embarrassment.
“No, I didn’t expect you to explicitly describe the physical activity that fulfilled the prophecy and made us both human. Made us both real.”
“How ‘bout I remind you again?” Spike stepped forward, catching her around the shoulders with one arm while scooping up her legs with the other. Dawn squeaked slightly as she was lifted into strong arms, then she relaxed against him. As Spike carried her down the hall towards their room she enjoyed the warmth of his skin and the feeling his of chest rising and falling with each necessary breath.
* * *