June Evening
by Tesla

She wasn't the right sister, and boy, did she know it. She was the legacy sister, the liability sister, the Summers sister who was nothing. Sometimes, Dawn thought, neither Giles nor the rest of Buffy's friends could even bear the sight of her, because she was the not-Buffy.

The not-real sister.

"That's stupid," Spike said. He and Anya played cards with Dawn, while the others were patrolling. They didn't really trust Spike yet, even though he'd smashed his leg and been stabbed trying to save Dawn.

Back at the tower, That Night, Dawn had had to stamp her feet and scream her head off and generally caused the recovering crazy people to shudder, before the Scoobies picked up Spike, as well as Anya and Buffy's body. They had hidden her body, buried it with a pay-off to a mortuary owner who owed Giles a favor and then gotten his memory erased for his trouble. Anya and Dawn were at the emergency room, and it was all done by the time she woke up, in her little room, and remembered.

They had dumped Spike in the basement, like he was a dog they hoped would die. But Buffy had trusted him, hadn't she? Because he didn't have to be invited in.

No one told Dawn anything, except Spike. And he had to spy on the rest or tease Anya into talking.

It made them alike.

They were the only ones who talked about Buffy. Well, Tara did, but then Tara was all gentle smiles and gentle touches. She knew what it was to have no mother, no one who loved you and put you first.

Sometimes, Dawn eavesdropped. She put in her headphones to her radio and pretended to be humming to the music, but she had it turned down way low. That's how she found out that the girls were moving in with her, that they were rebuilding the Buffy robot, that they planned on patrolling with the robot.

They didn't even notice when she went outside to the back porch. It didn't take long before she smelled cigarette smoke, and then, there was Spike, vaulting one-handed over the back fence.

He'd been fighting again, she saw. In the moonlight, his blood was black against his white hair and neck.

"Let me see that," Dawn said, standing up.

Spike swiped his hand over his head. "This? Nah. Scalp wounds bleed. Just a nick." He shrugged off his leather duster, leaving it on the porch railing. "It'll stop in half a mo'."

"Yeah, but you're dripping and it gives me the ook. Please?"

"Right, but be quick. I don't want to crash the Scooby meeting. They're all talk half the time, all talk and no killin'."

Spike followed Dawn into the kitchen, lit only by the stove light, and let her shove his head down into the sink to be rinsed. Just as he said, he had two long claw marks through his hair, welling beads of dark blood. As she rinsed with warm water, the skin was already closing up.

She towelled Spike, and smiled to see his wild curly hair.

"Yeah, I know what you're smirkin' at, Dawnie," he said, straightening up and taking the towel. "All you women folk like men to have poufy hair."

(Dawn liked it when Spike said she was women folk.)

"It's cute," she said. " 'cause you're all evil. Ooh, it's camouflage!"

"Next thing, you'll want me to wear Harris's plaid shirts," Spike snorted, heading back outside to dry his hair and smoke. "He's like that bloke on Home Improvement. "

"Al?" Dawn giggled.

"Yeah, Al. Just needs a beard, he's workin' on the beer gut."

"I used to have a crush on Xander," Dawn said, sitting companionably beside Spike on the wooden steps.

He felt around in his duster pockets for his lighter.

"Did you hear me?" she asked, poking his arm.

"Yeah, I heard you. Was ignorin' you. I wouldn't go around admitting your bad taste."

"Hey, I like you better," she protested.

"As I said." Spike bent his head and lit the cigarette.

Dawn punched him in the arm, not playing.

"Hey, what's that?" Spike said, leaning back and staring at her.

"It's not bad taste to like you," Dawn said fiercely. "You and me've always been friends. They all thought you were nice to me to get to Buffy, but I know you weren't. I know you liked Mom and me."

"Your Mom was a good woman, an' you'll be, too, one day," Spike said. "If you get over this hittin' stage, that is. Puts folks off." But he let her hold his arm and rest her cheek on his shoulder.

After a moment, with the other hand, he ground his cigarette out on the side of his boot. He turned his head, listening.

"Oh, Giles is just into his second wind," he said. "I have some cash. Want to walk round the corner and get an ice cream?"

Dawn leaped up and jumped into the grass.

"Thought so," Spike said, indulgently.

As they walked around the corner of the house, they could see the Scoobies, listening to Giles, who was still wearing his glasses.

"Good Lord," Spike said, in perfect Giles-voice.

They both snickered as they walked down the sidewalk.


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