Disclaimer: None of the following characters or setting are mine; they belong to their respective owners that we all know and love.
It’s been forty-five hours, twenty-nine minutes, and thirty-two seconds since she walked away from the bottom of that tower. She doesn’t know how long she was standing there crying, staring at the body of her sister, her indestructible, immovable, shining sister. Eventually Spike stood, popping joints back into place and aligning bones from the fall, to lead her away, and it took Giles following them with Buffy in his arms to get her to stop screaming.
No one could stop the tears from streaming down their faces, not even Spike. They tried to put her to bed when they got home, but the closest they could get was pajamas after a shower. The rest of the night spent in abject horror trying to figure out what they could do to fix this.
The short answer was nothing.
The long answer was to clean her up to the point that there was no evidence of God or demon on her, and on the steps to hospital, leave her with a note that simply stated “I’m sorry.”
Giles had never seen someone lay a person down so gently as Spike did that night, on the unforgiving surface of concrete.
And then the lies started. To the police how they had been worried because she was missing, to the hospital staff with questions on old injuries, to Child Services about living arrangements, to the Council about her, to …
Now it was forty-five hours, thirty-six minutes and eleven seconds, and it’s her and Spike sitting on the back steps. The garden was never the same after her mom died, ‘cause Buffy never had the time and she could never leave things the way they were supposed to be so the plants ended up black. The smoke from Spike’s cigarette swirled through the air like a lazy cat, and the customary ash tray he only used here sat between them. And the night made none of its traditional sounds, instead giving the world just a few moments of silence.
“I don’t know if I can stay here,” were the first words she’s spoken to any of them, and Spike’s not surprised they’re to him. He’s never treated her like a child any way, and somehow he knows that it’s not necessarily comfort she’s reaching for now.
“So don’t. But that leads to the question, where will you go?” More smoke curled its way upwards.
“Of all ‘my’ relatives, Aunt Ellen is the only one that tried to talk to us at mom’s funeral. She said I could call her whenever, with anything. I don’t know if it’ll extend to this… but I think that I have to try.”
“Then why you still sitting out here talkin’ to me Bit? Phone’s inside,” he gave her a look that said he knew there was more to this, and to get to the point already. He took a final drag off the cigarette before placing the butt in the tray.
“’Cause what if some of the Knights come looking for me again? Or even some demon looking for a new hostage? ‘Cause I don’t think just ‘cause Buffy’s… gone…” the single word came out broken, and a harsh breath was drawn “means that the ‘easy leverage and a danger magnet!’ sign has been taken down! And what about Willow and Tara and Xander and Anya and Giles? Are they going to stay and fight? Is the Council going to send someone else? Or is…”
“Stop Niblet.” The command was responded to like he knew it would be, though the fresh tears in her eyes pulled on heart strings he thought long dead. So he pulled her close so he wouldn’t see them, and let her bury her head in his chest. “First things first, don’t worry about the others. They are old enough to look after their own, and you don’t need any more soddin’ headaches. As for the other, do you really think I was goin’ to let you go on your own? I made a promise Bit, to look after you, and you never break a promise to a Summers woman. So where you go, I go, and only a bleedin’ idiot would come looking for trouble with a Big Bad on the lookout.”
“You’d do that?” the word were whispered into his chest, yet he heard them anyway.
“Sure Bit. Wouldn’t rather be doin’ anythin’ else. So whatta ya say to goin’ and gettin’ that phone and your mum’s phone book and givin’ your aunt a call? We’ll tell the others once everythin’ already started.”
“Can we stay like this for just a little while?” That tiny timid voice she was still using really didn’t suit her, but it was better than the silence of the last few days.
“’Course we can, we can do whatever you’d like.” He moved so that he was leaning against the railing, and wrapped his jacket around the now shaking girl. Spike wasn’t going to force her to do anything in something other than her own time, there would be enough of that for the people inside the house. So they stayed that way long enough for her to get that mask up, the one that said ‘I don’t care what you think right now, fuck off’, until she stood.
Spike simply watched as she strode into the house, snagged the cordless phone off the table, palmed the phone book from the junk drawer, and as an afterthought snapped the throw out of the laundry basket waiting to go upstairs. Chin still up, she walked out the back door, sat herself back down, and proceeded to curl right back into him, with the blanket around them and the phone book on her lap. It wasn’t until the number was found and half dialed before she stopped and looked up at him with those big blue eyes that made his demon scream at him to maim, torture, kill whatever put that look in them.
“What if she doesn’t remember me?” was the question hiding behind the tears, and his demon had his answer. The monks didn’t venture very far outside of their group with the implanted memories, and they were lucky they were already dead.
“Then we go where ever you want, luv. It doesn’t matter much to me, but it would be better for you if there was someone stable lookin’ after food and such. And as much as you don’ wanna hear it, school. We all know there’s more’n air in that pretty little head of yours, don’ try an’ deny it now. So go on, get talkin’.”
All that got him was a glare, but then her head was tucked back into his shoulder and the phone was dialing as it was pressed against her ear. And for some reason it just felt right to start brushing her hair back from her face, like he’d seen countless others do in the past but never had the courage to do himself. It was hypnotizing, like he was soothing himself instead of the girl in his arms by reassuring that she was there and alive, and he realized that that was probably why it was done so often. There was so much of it, and the colour was vibrant like he’d seen few prior, but what helped the most is that caused her shift that much closer to him.
“You’ve reached the Roadhouse, Ellen here.” The tone on the other end of the phone was clipped, but it most likely had to do with the fact that it sounded like this Ellen was in the middle of a bar with a rambunctious crowd. “Hello? Look, if you’re just going to sit there I’m hanging up.”
“Dawn, is that you? Dawn?!?”
“Auntie, I need help.”
Forty-six hours, ten minutes, and three seconds.
Between her and Ellen it took a couple hours on the phone to get everything sorted out, and her things packed into various suitcases. Some things were going to be hard to explain, like the weapons cases, but she figured she could leave them with Spike until she found a spot to hide them in whatever room she’d get when she got to the Roadhouse.
The Roadhouse, which she didn’t know existed until her Aunt told her that she owned and ran a bar out of the main level of her house, was going to surround her with people she didn’t know, didn’t trust, and it might just be a lower level of hell that snuck up out of the Hellmouth. But even a lower level of hell would be better than the pit she’s in now, so she’ll take it with a grain of salt. Maybe it would help her get used to people again… hopefully. Honestly probably not, but it was worth a shot anyways.
When it was fifty hours, fifteen minutes and twelve seconds she was in Spike’s blacked-out De Soto, a note left on the kitchen table, and the Sunnydale sign was flying passed her as she was on her was to small town Nebraska.
A/N: I was thinking of making this a series, and was curious if there would actually be any interest in it… My head likes to bounce random one-shots at me that seem to be interrelated if I can get the ducks in a row… but I think they found the buns on the counter instead…