Pairing: Dawn/Spike "friendship"
Set between Showtime and Potential
Thank you to Keswindhover and Annie Sewell-Jennings for the beta.
"So." Her voice is coolly appraising. "You really are hurt."
Spike wakens. He opens his eyes, slowly. The left one is still swollen partly shut. In the dim, half-light of the basement, he can see Dawn standing there, coltish body stiff with tension, hands on hips.
His mouth twists into a ghastly semblance of his old, devil-may-care grin. "Come to set me on fire, then? Get the Big Bad while he's helpless?" The attempt at humour is ruined by his choked gasp as he tries to sit up in the cot. The broken ribs burn, but not half as much as his Bit's disdain.
Dawn doesn't say anything; but her eyes are flickering over every inch of exposed skin, cataloguing the hurt and pain and suffering. Maybe weighing it against the shattered feelings of a girl who lost the one person who had ever truly cared about her, who turned out to be just the same as all the others.
If she hates him, he can't blame her.
The silence between them grows heavy. Dawn's gaze is lingering on the faint scratches still visible over his heart. Spike shifts a bit, wishes he could reach his shirt without having to get up. There is fascination on her face, along with something else, something he can't quite read.
She's grown, since he saw her last. And in this moment, Spike can't think of when this was, when he last really saw her. The realization cuts him deeper than a Bringer's knife: it's been at least since the summer when Buffy was dead. When he held Dawn in his arms at night as she cried herself to sleep. When he lay awake and stared down at the trusting girl wrapped innocently around his body. When he hit the rock-bottom of an unfathomable existence and her need was the only thing that kept him going. When she accepted him for who he was, something no one else has done in all his long years. Since then, he's been blinded to everything but her sister.
God, he fucking betrayed Dawn. Seduced by golden skin, and lust, and love. Regret. It's something he never understood until a cave in Africa. But now? Regret and remorse are the twin torments of his days.
"Buffy said ..." The words trail off as she deals with enormity of it. "Buffy said you have a soul."
Spike wonders at this-that of everyone, including the Watcher, it's Dawn who seems most affected by what he's done. Dawn, who never once called him a thing or beneath her or evil in any way other than a you-stole-the-last-cookie fit of pique.
"Yeah, pet. I do. Hurts like a bugger, if that makes you feel better."
Dawn looks uncomfortable. She leans against the dryer, the movement causing her button-down to drawn tight against her little breasts. Spike looks away. His girls, lookers, both of them. Heartbreakers. Broke his.
He tells her, "I'm sorry." It's not enough, never be enough, but it's all he's got. Question is: what does she have, hidden in that lovely little heart of hers? She's got courage, that's for sure. But does she have forgiveness? And is it even his right to hope, given all he's done?
She stares at him. "You're sorry."
"Yeah." Spike looks away, unable to look into those eyes an instant longer. He knew, he knew, all those weeks a captive, that Buffy would come for him. He knew she didn't love him - how could she? - but she'd come. With Dawn, there are no certainties. And hope is a terrible, brutal, vicious thing. That's something else he's learned since Africa.
What she does next is case in point. She begins to talk. She tells him about the Potentials, the little girls whose pulses have been pounding in his head since he first regained consciousness the day before. She tells him about school: her art class; someone named Kit who's "cool"; the funeral for Cassie; Buffy's job as counsellor and how having her sister around every day is really "cramping her style"; Christmas.
She crosses to his cot and stands before him. His entire body goes rigid at her proximity. "Your soul ..." she begins.
He tries to focus on her face, but his eyesight is blurred. Bloody Bringers did quite the number on him. "Know it doesn't make everything right," he mutters. He wants desperately to stem the tide of what she might say. Because if she still hates him, he doesn't know how he can bear it. And if she forgives him, well, he doesn't know if he can bear that, either.
Dawn's voice is hard. "It didn't stop you from killing those people."
His head bows. "No. No, it didn't."
"Your chip didn't go off."
"No one knew this could happen, love. Me least of all. If I could -" A memory: his mother leaning over him, kissing his forehead. If wishes were horses, William. Go to sleep, my little love. Your toys will still be there in the morning.
"You're a weapon." The word is stark.
"I'm sorry," he says again. A world of sorry. Oh, my darling girls.
"Something that could be used against us. Like me."
"What?" Spike sits ramrod straight, ignoring the agony of tortured flesh.
"I'm the Key, Spike. Or I was. What if I still am?"
He is silent in the face of this question. He has no answer for her.
She sighs, long and heavy. "Andrew ... you know him, right?"
Fangs in the boy's neck, tasted his dreams and his fears. Does Spike know him? Might say that.
"He saw me. But it wasn't me, it was the First disguised as me. How was that possible? Is it ... is it because I'm not real? Or because I'm made of Buffy? Or is it a Key thing?"
"Oh, Bit -"
She shakes her head violently. "I thought it was all over. Everyone's been talking about what the First has planned next. What if it figures out a way to use me against Buffy? She died to stop me from destroying the world ... I can't risk that happening again." He can't see very well, but he thinks there are tears on her cheeks. He reaches out to touch one, but she pulls away and he shrinks back into himself.
He can tell she's hurting. He wishes he could tell her it's bollocks, that it won't happen. But he can't. None of them can. He wonders if the witch or the Watcher have thought of this. Self-absorbed, the lot of them - he thinks maybe they haven't, that it's been his Bit's burden to bear.
"What can I do?" he asks, and from the way her tension eases he knows he's finally said the right thing. Took him long enough, soddin' git that he is.
"Blood," she tells him. "Blood. It's the only way."
"No!" he recoils, knowing what she means. "No!"
"Yes, Spike." She presses her point. "I need you to bite me; tell me whether the power's still there. You could tell, right? Taste it or something?"
Her voice crackles with the threat of further tears. She clenches her pretty little fists. "I thought you wanted to make things better between us. I thought you were a good guy now!"
"I do! I am!" Each word is an effort. The pain from his shattered innards is a red haze over his mind. God, he hurts. Every bit of him. Heart, most of all.
"Take my blood, Spike. I want you to. Prove to me that I'm just a girl. Prove to me that I'm your girl. Do this for me, for Buffy, for all of us, before it's too late. We need to know if I'm a weapon, too."
She is steel wrapped in velvet skin and dewy youth. He never could resist his Bit.
Spike stands with difficulty. She's right. In the wrong hands he's a weapon, but now is his chance do go good. To be her tool.
"If you do this for me, Spike, I promise to forgive you."
Dawn is by the washer. He didn't see her move back there, but his eyesight's not quite up to par. He moves to her, every step agony, but her promise glitters in the air between them.
When he grabs her roughly in his arms, she cries out in surprise. "Spike! Spike! What are you doing? Stop it! Stop! You're hurting me!" How could you use a poor maiden so?
He doesn't hear. Her blood slides down his throat like bittersweet ambrosia, making his dead cells sing. She tastes like hope: bright and metallic. He wonders if he's forgiven.