“Hey, Spike. Glad you’re here, but I don’t need a babysitter,” Dawn said, as she opened the door to her friend.
“I’m not here to babysit. Just thought you could use some company, what with Buffy working the graveyard shift.” He stepped inside and handed Dawn a videotape. “Brought a classic. Bride of Frankenstein.”
“Thanks.” She took the tape and slid it in the VCR part way. “Wonder if Buffy can keep the job at the factory longer than she did her last one.”
“Things must be getting tight for you two,” he said, as he walked towards the kitchen. “I brought some snacks for later. Got you some Cracker Jack.”
“Cool,” she called, as she heard the fridge door slam shut. She watched him as he threw his duster on a chair and flopped down on the couch. “We’ll get by, I guess. Don’t think Dad will let us starve.”
“Don’t get me started on your father,” said Spike, as Dawn turned on the TV. “Let’s just watch the movie.”
Willow came down the stairs. “Hey, Red, want to watch the telly?” asked Spike.
“Nope,” she answered, “Places to go, people to see. Long as you’re here anyway.” She disappeared out the front door.
“Great,” said Dawn. “I guess you are my babysitter.”
She turned on the VCR, started the movie, and curled up next to Spike on the couch. “I’ve missed this.”
“So have I, Niblet,” he said.
The creature was nearing the blind hermit’s cottage when Spike realized by her even heavy breathing that Dawn had fallen asleep. She had shifted position so that her head rested on his lap, and with his arm around her shoulder, he watched the rest of the film. When it was over, he turned off the TV with the remote, and sat quietly. She seemed so peaceful that he hated to disturb her. He pulled the afghan from its resting place on the back of the sofa and covered her body with the comforter as best he could.
He watched her sleep. Her breathing was rhythmic, hypnotizing. Human breathing fascinated him. It had been so long since he had felt it for himself that it was alien to him now. He watched her eyes shift under their lids. He felt her muscles twitch slightly. He heard the steady beating of her heart.
His eyes focused on the vein pulsing below her jawline, running along the side of her throat and realized that he was hungry. He remembered the container of pig’s blood he had left in the fridge. If he went to get it, he might wake her up. It could wait.
At 3 am she cried out in her sleep. “Buffy, no! Don’t jump! Noooo…” Not so odd, he supposed, that she shared his nightmares.
He rubbed her shoulder lightly and whispered, “It’s okay, Niblet. Big sis is okay. Shhhh…” She calmed under his touch and fell back into a deep sleep.
He resumed his watch. She was peaceful again. The night was peaceful. Little sis was peaceful.
Dawn woke at 7:30, and found herself in Spike’s lap. He was asleep. Deep, vampiric unconsciousness. She pulled his legs so that his body reclined fully on the couch and covered him with the afghan. The sun’s rays were starting through the window. She drew the curtains closed.
Buffy came in exhausted to find the vampire on the sofa. “What the hell’s he doing here?” she asked her sister.
“Wake him up,” Dawn replied, “And I’ll stake you.”