By Nan Dibble
Sequel to Old Blood
SECTION ONE: STIRRINGS
Chapter Three: The Dance of Sea and Shore
Buffy said, “But I don’t have a sister. Never had a sister. I’d know, wouldn’t I?”
Knowing every word out of his mouth put him closer to being classed as a certified looney, and all that went with it, Spike insisted, “You did. Not at first, only for a couple years in the middle and now gone again, but you did, pet. Rupert, get me a pen, something--”
Still wearing his pursy skeptical humoring-dangerous-loonies face, Giles handed over a click-top ballpoint. While he still had hold of the name, and that so slippery it was like trying to pinch quicksilver, Spike wrote it on the back of his left hand: DAWN. So long as that didn’t vanish, he still had it as a reminder.
“Dawn Elizabeth Marie Summers. Roundabout fourteen years old, first I saw her. Actually saw her. ‘Cause the second I saw her, she’d already been filled into things that’d happened before, long as I been in Sunnydale. Things Dru had said about her, when Dru never once laid eyes on her. Things she’d said to me….” And he had to strain for it again, he was losing hold of it, something trying to pull it away. “--Dawn, when it seemed plausible she’d’ve been there, except she wasn’t. An’ me nodding like a git, like all the rest of you lot, at the instant sister. School records changed. Your mom, Buffy, accepting her just like that, just like she’d been there always. Can’t have been an easy thing to convince Joyce she’d had and raised a second child. Family photos all with Dawn in ‘em at age five, age ten, one on a pony. Everything all complete, the thorough bastards. Expect they’re all changed back again now.”
Catching Giles’ eye, Spike snarled, “An’ don’t you think I know how this sounds? Do you figure I’m doin’ it for fun here? I know it’s all been took back from you now, but just give me a fair hearing, all right? ‘Cause I never been more serious about a thing in my life, unlife, at least hear me out. It’s--”
An almost unfelt hitch in his mind and it was gone again, blanked out, and he had no idea what he was so off and upset about. And then he saw the name on his hand and clenched that fist, willing himself not to be buggered with. “Dawn was made to be a key, could unlock dimensions. Some monks made her, I was told. If you were crazy enough, seems like, you could still see what she was made from: some kind of green sparkly energy. Guess I never was crazy enough or at the right time: never saw it, myself. Don’t remember seeing, anyway, or maybe that’s been took….” Spike shook his head, couldn’t afford to get distracted. “One thing about vamps: we’re hard to magic. It doesn’t stick proper, or long, or sometimes at all. So a point came when I knew something I recollected about her wasn’t real, was a lie put into my head, when nobody else had twigged. Knew Buffy’d never had any little sis. Wouldn’t buy that lie anymore, for all she was standin’ right there in front of me.”
Spike momentarily had enough of the pieces that he was granted a moment’s visual image: tall child with coltish adolescent limbs, lovely mouth pursed as often as not or a splendid smile; slender fingers, fall of long brown hair, straight and shiny, and enormous bright eyes alertly watching everything. He couldn’t name the color of the eyes before the glimpse went dark. And it was desperately hard to keep losing her like this, over and over, same hole opening and swallowing up whatever he was trying to keep hold of, patient and inexorable as sucking quicksand or an advancing tide, and presently he’d lose all of it entirely and forget there’d ever been anything to lose.
He’d had his mind fucked with by experts. You’d think he’d have worked up more resistance to it, be able to stand aside from it and see it happening, not get dragged down by the undertow. Except, that was what the dreams did to him now. From his inheritance from Dru or whatever it was, and he’d got sidetracked again, it didn’t relent or quit pulling for a single fucking second, something with his hand, and the letters were still there but for a moment didn’t cohere into a name. Only a word: DAWN.
Gravely, neutrally, Giles said, “I have no memory of such a girl.”
Spike looked at Buffy, who was still somehow refraining from asking if he really felt all right and wouldn’t he sooner have a nice lie down, a nice shag, and everything better in the morning. After some pacing, she’d settled back on the bed. She was trying to listen to him, sweetheart that she was, when he didn’t know half the time what he was saying or by what progression he’d come to whatever his current point might have been before the quicksand ate it.
At least they weren’t laughing at him, and he hadn’t lost his temper nor his wits. Not altogether.
“Don’t care if you believe it or not,” Spike told them--fierce, stubborn, and desperate. “It’s enough if you believe that I believe it. Even if that makes you figure I’m the biggest bull-looney yet hatched. The point’s not to persuade you. The point is for you to help me get her back. Just pretend for a second here. If this ever happened, that monks took some ancient energy and made it into a girl-shaped dimensional key, with everything that went with it, all the trimmings, what monks would that have been? We’re not talking Brother Andrew here, or Brother Warren. What was done was large, and complicated, and so goddam thorough it’s hard to get my mind around even now. What--”
“A change,” Giles interrupted raptly, “in the nature of reality, albeit on a fairly localized basis, to the least, smallest detail. All accomplished by non-material means.”
“Yeah. Right. Think about how such a thing could be done, and who could have done it, roundabout two years back, and maybe the quicksand don’t extend as far or as strong that way as if you kept trying to come at the thing direct.”
“An interesting puzzle,” said Giles, plainly going into full Watcher mode. “The pen, please, Spike.” Accepting the pen without glancing either at it or at Spike, Giles pulled a sheet of stationery from the desk drawer and began jotting quick notes. “Two years ago, you say,” he remarked without looking around.
“Best I know, yeah. And spilling backwards from there.”
“Records will clearly be of no use, then,” said Giles. “They all will have been altered. Birth certificate, immunization records: that sort of documentation.”
“With all they did, doesn’t seem likely they skipped any.”
“Americans are the most documented creatures on the planet,” Giles commented, still writing. “To have any concept of the number and variety of items that would require falsification, our hypothetical monks would either have to be Americans themselves or have excellent contacts with appropriate knowledge of the educational system, the ways of storing actuarial information, medical records, census data…. I believe we can therefore eliminate any actual known religious body, any of the recognized denominations. This is too secular. Not the grand sweep but the niggling detail.
“In fact, I’m more inclined to think our monks are in fact not monks at all, but lawyers. With a longer reach than most. And a clearer knowledge of the nature of reality and the practical side of metaphysics than most lawyers presumably possess. A near infinite capability of attending to the smallest detail. And access to almost limitless magic.” Turning, Giles stuck an earpiece of his dangling glasses in his mouth like a lollipop, looking Watcherishly pleased: half Cambridge don and half a thug happy at the contents of your wallet. Or like a wicked Christmas elf. “Purely as an intellectual exercise, it occurs to me that since it could have been done, it very likely was done. And two things argue powerfully in your favor, Spike. One, you’re the last person I would conceive of, to invent such a complex and absurd hoax to no immediate purpose. Second, you’re among the world’s most miserably unconvincing liars. So I don’t believe you concocted this, and I don’t believe your concern is anything other than sincere. Which of course doesn’t rule out your being a dupe or a looney; but I’m willing to defer judgment on that for the moment.”
Forlorn, bereft, Spike could find no reply because he no longer had any notion what Giles was talking about. In trying to follow Giles’ thought around the periphery, he’d lost the center.
Reading Spike’s face, Giles picked up the sheet and held it at a longsighted distance. “Dawn Elizabeth Marie Summers.”
“Yeah,” said Spike, on no breath, barely aloud. “Yeah, that’s right…. Good to know I’m stupid enough to serve.”
Giles resumed his glasses so he could look at Spike over the top of them. “No need to get testy. The continuing clean-up effort is itself persuasive evidence. Were it not, you wouldn’t be having the problems keeping to your story that you evidently are. Furthermore, given the location and other factors, I propose quite an acceptable candidate for our spurious monks: a law firm called Wolfram and Hart.”
Spike shook his head. “Never heard of ‘em.”
“No reason you should. But they might have done such a thing on their own behalf, or on that of a still-unknown client. They possess the resources and the means. Metaphysical Mafia, as near as makes no difference. They’re headquartered in Los Angeles.”
“Angel. You mean, ask Angel to sort it out.”
On identical impulse they both looked at Buffy to find that she’d opted out of the troubling, nonsensical speculations by falling asleep, head pillowed on a folded arm. She looked about twelve.
Of Buffy’s exes, Angel was without question the one Spike hated most. That, in addition to all the other saw-edged issues between him and his Sire, made the call a no-brainer.
“No,” Spike said flatly. “Not unless there’s no other way.”
“Very well. Since I gather our interest in the matter is practical rather than theoretical, whether Wolfram and Hart be agent or principal, their motives in doing such a thing are moot. Our only concern is to undo--or more correctly, to redo--what was done to produce” (a glance at the paper) “Dawn in the first place. Presumably she has reverted to her native state,” (another glance) “a mass of ‘green, sparkling energy.’ Logically, then, the next step would be to consult--”
“Willow. Yeah. What time’s it got to be,” Spike inquired dully.
Giles consulted a watch. “Just gone eleven.”
Spike rubbed his eyes. He felt a headache building, maybe one of chiplike proportions. He was due at Willy’s in an hour. Wouldn’t be free to talk to the witch until past four. He didn’t believe he could hold onto his focus that long. Even setting it aside to sort out the best choice made him feel it slipping, getting away from him again.
“She was made from Buffy,” Spike mentioned. “Out of Buffy. To be a sister to her. So Buffy would want to protect her. Keep her safe, because she was family. I forget why.”
“What: as in cloning?”
“No. Don’t think so. Dunno. Maybe, partly. On the pattern of Buffy, some way. Who she is. The part that’s not Slayer. Except…brave, Dawn is. Fierce as a Turk. Just like Buffy is. Hangs onto a thing like grim death till she’s done with it. Got….” He lost the thought and made a vague gesture. “I dunno.”
Giles dutifully noted that information down, then said, “I tell you what, Spike: I’ll give you a lift to Willy’s, then take Buffy home and consult with Willow, as best I can. Explain at least the theoretical bases, and my conclusions. Then I’ll bring her to Willy’s, and you can discuss it with her.”
So long as it was a plan, and he didn’t have to make it, Spike would have gone along with nearly anything. He forced himself out of the chair and went to wake Buffy. He rubbed her back, shook her a little. “C’mon, love. Time to go home.”
Sitting bolt upright, Buffy declared, “Giraffe pajamas.”
“What’s that, pet?”
“Dawn has giraffe pj’s. And she likes French toast.”
“That’s a good thing to know. When we get her back, maybe you can make her some.”
Buffy blinked at him blearily. “Who?”
By the time Giles showed up at Willy’s with a yawning, somnambulistic Willow with severe bedhead and mismatched socks, Spike was no longer expecting them and had done what he could to self-medicate the headache with cheap alcohol.
When Willow made him a little waggling-fingers wave, Spike just looked at her. In game face, because that also helped keep the pain tolerable. Or at least let him not care much about it, which worked out about the same.
“Hullo, Red. Rupert. What d’you want?”
As the two of them traded a Significant Look, a Ceynar demon down the way raised an appendage for a refill, so Spike left them to see to the demon, who was drinking something complicated comprised of crème de menthe, ammonia, bile, and butterscotch flavoring over crushed ice. Then he swung back to take care of them.
“Coffee,” Willow decided. “Espresso, if you got it. Large.”
Spike shook his head. “Can send out for it, though, if you want.” While he was looking around to locate Huey, the minion he had seconding him tonight, Willow leaned across the bar and started doing something to his shirt with something that stank of mothballs. He jerked out of reach, startled and mistrustful.
“Don’t be such a baby,” Willow admonished. “Doesn’t hurt. See? We both have one.”
She held it up, pinched between two fingers, to let him see: a small twist of greenery, herbs, tied with thread to a safety pin. Both she and Giles had a similar tiny boutonniere pinned on.
“What is it?” Spike asked warily.
“Nothing that’s gonna hurt. Mostly rosemary, forget-me-not stems wrapped widdershins, rubbed with camphor to clear the head, other stuff you don’t care about at all and just take it, Spike. Stick it in your pocket if you don’t want to wear it.”
The second Spike touched the sprig, the headache clamped down like the vise in the old commercials, but he didn’t connect that to the sprig and therefore continued the motion and slowly slid it into a pocket of his jeans, waiting to be able to see straight and think straight again. When that didn’t happen right away, he poured himself a shot from the nearest bottle he found in reach and downed it. Horrible: apple schnapps.
While he was distracted by that, Willow chirped, “What’s that on your hand?”
Squinting hard and letting go several times, trying to clear his sight, Spike responded, “Dunno, must’ve got something on it, what’s--” Then he saw it: the letters. The word. The name. “Bloody hell.”
“Thought Police being a little overzealous?” Willow inquired sympathetically. “Wanting to get the last scraps all tidied up, get the job done and go home? Brought in the big guns on you, it looks like. Because you’re the only one who still remembers. Except for the little flash of giraffe pj’s that Buffy had, that Giles told me about. Only confirmation we got, but it’s not as if we need any more at this point, we’re all together on the same train here even if most of us are riding blind, and now about that espresso--”
Spike located Huey, and the Espresso Pump order got specified although Giles objected to the $ 20 tab. Spike explained about the delivery charge. Giles grumbled but paid up. Tightwad. Spike let them into the back room, empty tonight, then left them there and started looking for somebody to cover for him behind the bar, turning down two offered fights on the grounds of headache, which counted as a pass and hurt his odds but not as bad as a loss would so what the hell. And he checked the time and figured what he’d do to Huey if he wasn’t back within the required fifteen minutes, meanwhile stoically reading through Giles’ chicken scratchings on the sheet of motel stationery, reclaiming as much of what he’d remembered as he could, and Willow’s memory charm to prevent it all slipping away again.
With each phrase read, the headache receded a little, like the fight between the tide and the dry ground, up and down a beach.
And he thought, We’re trying here, Bit, recovering his name for her that wasn’t on the sheet or anything he’d had so far: it just came to him when he’d made it a place to be and could hold it. A sudden easing: a clarity. Like a breath of better air.
About the time Huey returned, Willy got back from a late date and was willing to take over the bar as long as Spike either made up the time or docked himself for it, which was reasonable. Spike remembered to commend Huey on his promptness and sent him on another errand, then took the cardboard carry-tray of cups with his own glass into the back room and set it on the kitten poker table. Willow and Giles each took an espresso, which left four. Willow explained that two were for him, and he declined. So Giles was annoyed and commented that, in that case, Spike might have said something beforehand.
“Didn’t ask me, did you?” Spike responded, lifting out the glass of Jim Beam he’d set in the tray, more palatable than apple schnapps. “Next time, ask first. You can save ‘em for later, I s’pose.”
“The whipped cream goes all flat and blah,” Willow remarked sadly, dipping a tall plastic spoon. “They don’t keep well. Which brings me cleverly to my theory.”
Spike turned a chair and sat, arms folded across the back. He set the sheet of stationery on the table where it wouldn’t be endangered by coffee spills.
“Well, at least get rid of that,” Giles requested peevishly, with a sharp gesture Spike couldn’t interpret.
Willow made a plainer gesture across her forehead, explaining sotto voce, “You’re all bumpy. I think it makes him nervous.”
“Hell with that. Demon bar: I can look however I please. An’ it helps with the headache.”
Giles protested, “Spike, I cannot have an intelligent conversation with you looking like that.”
“Then don’t. It’s Red who’s got the theory, innit?” Spike asked Willow, “He always this cranky, this time of night?”
“Likely. Past his bedtime. And past mine too. So let’s get to it.”
“Fine,” said Giles sourly. “Just fine.” He poked his spoon into whipped cream and sulked.
“My theory,” Willow said, “is that this Dawn was never meant to last. She was made to put certain powers out of reach of anybody who might otherwise have been able to access them. That would have been Glory. Which is not how I remember it but we’re not gonna worry about that now. There was a fixed window of date and time, astrological conditions, blah, blah, blah, for Glory to open the dimensional portal. After that, she was basically screwed and stuck and out of luck, and no more need for Dawn, who would have just gone poof, and everybody forget again, everything back the way it was before. But it didn’t quite work out like that because--”
“Buffy jumped,” said Spike, not giving a damn if the Watcher didn’t like his expression. “I messed up, and Bit got cut, and Buffy went in her place.”
“Again, not exactly the scenario I have, but it makes sense. And this is wonderful practice in entertaining two mutually contradictory and semi-impossible ideas before breakfast. Props to Lewis Carroll. Yea rah. So the dimensional portal gets opened, which means somebody switched on the Dawn, but then it gets shut again without Glory crossage or major dimensional suckage, crisis averted, which should mean that the Dawn poofed. Started with one Summers, ended with one Summers, the math works OK but it seems nobody at Dawn-Builders, Inc. notices that the wrong Summers got left behind in our reality. Alive, that is.” Willow briskly dabbled with her spoon to stir in the last of the melting whipped cream, then drank the result. “And with the Dawn still here, she continues to anchor the vast matrix of fake facts and fake memories put in place to support her because she’s kinda the lock code. Slight oops.” She patted with a napkin to eliminate a whipped cream moustache. “And then I probably contributed to the confusion by raising Buffy from the dead, against her will and without her consent, all duly noted, members of the jury.”
Willow’s eyebrows had lifted while delivering those last remarks, but the eyes underneath were cold and expressionless as glass.
Despite focusing tight on her words, the ideas, Spike still noticed the sly upslide of resentment and hostility, so shallow under the chirpiness. Masks tended to come off past midnight--no news to him.
Having finished one espresso, Willow pried the lid off another and transferred straw and spoon meticulously without drips.
“So time went by,” Willow continued, “as it tends to do, with Dawn and Buffy both confusingly extant in the same dimension at the same time, both un-Naturally, which likely was very perplexing to Dawn-Builders, Inc. or Whatever: explanations lost into committee and red tape and CYA memos and the discrepancy pretty much forgotten. All well and good. Until our hypothetical Dawn, or rather your hypothetical Dawn,” Willow corrected with a nod to Spike, “decides to stir up major mojo, blood magic, in our basement. At least I know it’s not my magic. I wouldn’t have done it that way. Or as Giles would be quick to tell me, ideally, I wouldn’t have done it at all…. I assume that on Friday evening, when I set up to dissipate the residual energy, I knew perfectly well who that magical signature belonged to but have since suffered brain-wipe and, well, there you are.”
“Willow,” said Giles, full Watcher restraint back in place, maybe from the coffee, “might we get on with it.”
“Definitely. Getting right on, and with-it-ness chugging right along, aye, aye.” Of Spike, Willow asked, “Dawn, right?”
“Yeah. Healing spell, it was. Never should have done it. Stupid bint.” Recollecting that made Spike feel awful, since the spell had been done for him. All naïve good intentions and him not in a position at the time to know or stop it.
“Right, then. Stupid bint Dawn does the spell and wackiness ensues, to the tune of point 8 on the Richter scale or about 20 megaton, depending on which analogy you prefer. That kind of semi-controlled ginormous Natural magic does have the effect of calling attention to itself. Bumps and eeks and swingy meter dials all across the magical-aetheric bandwidth. I think one of two things happened. ONE, Dawn calls attention to herself and gets recalled to the Big Time, resolving the dilemma of the Curious Adventure of the Two Summerses. Or TWO, weeks of exposure to the magical basement flux, that I just damped down yesterday, you’re all very welcome, finally trigger the Dawn’s self-destruct, or as it might scientifically be termed, her poof function. As in, earlier this evening. So whether she in effect burned out all her circuits, a la the Buffybot, and went poof, or Something came and folded her into teeny tiny origami until she vanished into her own navel, poof, the result’s the same: reversion to previous state, shiny sparky ball of green energy thing, and no more pitter patter of tiny Dawn feet at Casa Summers. And the matrix goes, and everybody forgets, the brain wipers do their thing, and all’s well except for stubborn Spike pinning down the last corner. End of theory.”
Spike reached and removed Willow’s half empty espresso cup from under her spoon and pushed his half full glass of Jim Beam into its place. Thought she needed settling down. Willow looked surprised and put-out. Spike just stared at her yellow-eyed, having had about all the hearty, heartless perkiness he felt like taking.
“Overcaffeinated?” Willow asked of nobody in particular, wondering what she was guilty of.
Spike reminded himself that the witch had come out at two in the morning to help him, and maybe he owed her some courtesy. Or something. “How d’you think you’d feel if I started talkin’ about Tara going poof.”
Willow’s face fell. “Oh. But, I mean, you weren’t, like, with this Dawn--were you?” The end of that was a strangled squeak.
“Please,” Giles groaned, face propped on his hand.
“You’re not makin’ things better, Red. Leave it that Dawn is mine. And I want her back. Tell me how I can go about doing that.”
Willow shrugged. “Don’t have the foggiest. Sorry. One theory, that’s all I got.”
Spike did not pull her face off. Thought about it. Didn’t do it. Might need her later.
“Think about it some more, then. When you’re rested. I’ll come by tomorrow and maybe you’ll have thought of something by then.” Spike rose and reversed the chair. As an afterthought, he added, “Obliged for the charm.”
Now that he knew, Dawn’s absence was enormous to him. When his shift was over, he wandered on back to Casa Spike and did the usual things but all was transformed by the not-Dawnness of it. Glanced at the bushel of dowels without the heart to touch it, on the porch. Reached down
the tribute bottle Mike had given him and got outside as much of it as he could and still move, without Dawn to steer him or make him mind. Children, they knew he was off, likely no missing it, but no use trying to explain to them so he just kept still, shut off, silent in all the not-Dawnness everywhere around.
Got out some money and sent Vi off to the market for a couple bottles of vinegar, he’d made his mind up about that, all the pieces in place and just the doing remaining, so he didn’t have to think about it to take a towel and make a sort of compress for around his left arm, hand to shoulder, and pour vinegar on it every hour or so. Begged a thin neck chain from Amanda and fastened the memory charm to it so he couldn’t lose it from a pocket getting his cigarettes out or some such. Taking out a cigarette, looking at it, putting it back like he’d been doing since she’d been gone, even before he knew, didn’t know how it connected but it seemed to and he obedient to it and unquestioning. Just not the thing to do somehow.
Tried to tell the children gathered all around him on the grass and the porch the story of him and Dru and Angelus and the Judge, the Slayer and the marvelous rocket launcher in the mall, everything busted up so grand, everybody diving for the floor and Angelus so furious to get his hair mussed and nobody even laughing at that part, not even a smile. Must have lost his touch altogether.
So he told them instead the tale of the young princess made all out of lightnings and lightning-bugs who came to visit at this terrible little village at the very edge of the kingdom, not even a proper castle, only hovels with rats and not enough porridge, right at the edge beyond which all the maps had Heere Ther Bee Monsters written in red ink with lots of exclamation points, and how she went walking in the woods one evening, wasn’t supposed to but nobody could tell her different, she’d just flip her hair and roll her eyes, like she did, and how in the long shadows just before full night she came upon a monster and it was all fierce and growly with these enormous teeth, like, and she wasn’t the least afraid, she never was, but touched it on the head and her magic was such that it went all peaceable to her, and loved her, and went everyplace with her and kept all the other monsters away, and was her own personal monster all her days and his. He supposed that shouldn’t be a sad story but it was, but anyway the children seemed to like it better than that other, so that was all right.
And the stink of the vinegar wasn’t so bad once you got used to it because he’d learned from when Angelus got himself done in Marseilles, all four of them drunk for a month, wonderful times, and that was how you had to do it, otherwise the marks wouldn’t take or last. The appointment the minion had made for him was ten o’clock, so he asked Amanda please to remind him so he wouldn’t miss the time when the shadows fell right for him to reach the sewer lid and down.
Amanda and Kim pestered to come along, but they didn’t know how to do that properly and stayed when he told them to. He’d known the sewers and the tunnels and the caves now for years and years, hardly needed more than smell to steer him. He supposed he could have required the bloke to come to him at Willy’s, do it there, but it all had to be done right, respectful like, and that meant he had to do it humble and pay for it and all, which was more than Angelus had done, ate the chap afterward and took the money back and more besides, but that had been different. Different times. Different times. Spike didn’t want there to be any least part of it that would shame him afterward, what with the soul being the mischancy, particular thing it was: you never knew what it might take exception to.
He’d written it down on a paper, all the words correct from memory, what was to be nailed into his arm in green ink, very small nails, barely stung and wouldn’t have mattered if it was worse because this was the right thing to do now and he’d made up his mind to it anyway.
It was drawn first in pen to match the paper, spiraling around his left hand and arm from knuckles to shoulder, all the letters and words spaced out proper to reach until he was satisfied because after all it was going to be there forever and therefore had to be done the first and only time right or it would be wrong forever and that wouldn’t have done. All plain script, nothing curly or pseudo-Tolkien-fucking-Elvish with umlauts and descenders, not if it was to last and he live with it that way for always.
And then the green ink and the tiny nails poking it in, that was the final part he could sleep through, having set it up all proper to begin with. And when he woke to late afternoon sun out past the front window, still plenty of time to hit the Magic Box before closing, it was there, and right, just the way he’d seen it in his mind, green words against the hard chalk white of his arm; and a couple more days of vinegar would keep it from healing away to nothing, the way everything else did on a vampire. Make it last, never lose it again, not never.
Anyway tats were proper for a vampire or Angelus wouldn’t have had himself done though in a shy place, back of his shoulder, not proud and showing plain on an arm.
The words that took up the back of his hand were: So Dawn. The name there, not to be washed off, worn off, or ever again forgotten. And the unfitting capital to make him know it was more than a word--a name--if ever he started to lose it again.
The verses spiraled up, the whole length of his arm:
So Dawn goes down to day. Nothing gold can stay.
Continued in Chapter Four: Nothing Gold Can Stay