DL 1.5

Aug. 13th, 2005 01:15 am
[identity profile] eee1313.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] dancing_lessons_archive
Lesson the Fifth: Identity Crisis

by Peggin
Shades of Grey by Billy Joel | Lyrics

I just want to add my shout out to the entire club for their encouragement, and a particularly loud shout out to the four very talented authors who wrote the first four parts and gave me a great story to build on.


*
"Dawn!" Buffy called up the stairs. "I’m going."

Dawn came downstairs and flopped on the couch, picking up the remote control. "Okay. Bye."

"I’m going to the magic shop, then I have to patrol. Are you sure you’ll be all right here by yourself?"

"Geez, Buffy. I’m fourteen years old. I think I can manage to take care of myself for one evening."

"Are you sure? No, maybe you should come with me. You could stay with Giles until I get back."

"Buffy! Will you just go already? I’ll be fine. I promise."

"Okay. Okay. But you’ll stay here, right? You’ll keep the door locked? You won’t go anywhere?"

Dawn rolled her eyes. "God, Buffy, I’m not a baby."

"Just … don’t invite any vampires in the house. Don’t invite anyone in."

By the time Buffy finally left, Dawn was ready to pound her head against the wall. Buffy had always been an overprotective big sister, but since their mother had died, she barely gave Dawn room to breathe. She was glad Buffy had gone. It felt good to be alone for a little while.

That feeling lasted about half an hour. There was nothing worth watching on TV and she had already finished her homework. She started thinking about the day her mother had died. What if Buffy had come home even an hour later? She would have gotten home from school before that. She would have been the one to find their mother’s body.

Dawn was so glad that hadn’t happened. Having Buffy tell her about it had been horrible. The worst thing that had ever happened to her. Way worse than her parents divorcing. Even worse than finding out that she was actually some kind of supernatural Key and had only been human for six months.

But just the thought of what Buffy must have gone through, finding their mother like that, gave her the chills. It had been right here in the living room. This is where Buffy had found her.

These morbid thoughts were starting to get to Dawn, and being all alone in the house was starting to creep her out. When the phone rang, she was glad for the distraction.

"Hello? … Hi, Melinda! … Dinner sounds great, but I don’t think I can. … It’s just that Buffy went out and she told me – you know what? I’d love to come over for dinner. Buffy’s not the boss of me. I don’t have to stay home just because she said so. … Yeah, I’ll be there in, like, two minutes."

Dawn hung up the phone and went to get her jacket. She glanced at the clock. Buffy wouldn’t be home for hours. Dawn was sure she would be back long before her big sister was done patrolling. Buffy never even needed to know. Besides, what could possibly happen? Melinda lived right across the street!

*****

Spike had just swung by the butcher shop to pick up a new supply of blood. As he was walking back to his crypt, he kept asking himself the same question over and over.

What the hell is the matter with me?

He just couldn’t understand his own behavior the night before. Here he was, finally had that sodding chip out of his head. He’d spent the last year and a half dreaming of this. Hoping for it. Planning for it. And now that it happened, he did nothing about it. He could have snapped a few necks, killed a few people, drank a bit of blood. He could have fed. Instead, he’d walked away. He hadn’t even hurt that blighter Xander. Well, not too badly anyway.

I should be out there killing things, he thought, instead of settling for this store-bought crap. I should be drinking the Slayer’s blood. I could hunt her down and take her by surprise. She’d never know what hit her. I could drain her dry before she even realizes I’m the Big Bad again.

But he had to admit, the idea of killing Buffy held no appeal. Just the thought of her dead made him feel kind of sick, like someone had punched him in the gut.

God, I’m pathetic. Drusilla really knew what she was talking about when she said I was lost to her. Bloody useless vampire, that’s what I am.

Last evening had put Spike in a foul mood, and tonight wasn’t looking to be any brighter. He wanted a spot of violence. He was walking down Revello Drive when he noticed some action going on across the street from Buffy’s house. That looked promising.

There were men, three of them, dressed like something out of the middle ages. One of them had what appeared to be a teenage girl thrown over his shoulders. She was struggling in a futile attempt to get away. As Spike got closer he realized that it was Dawn – they were trying to make off with Buffy’s kid sister!

Without even thinking about it, Spike found himself blocking their path. "Where do you blokes think you’re going with the little nibblet?"

One of the three, the leader of the group, responded "This is none of your concern. Leave us."

"Sorry, mate. Can’t do that. See, it is my concern. I’m kind of fond of that little girl you’ve got your grubby paws on. If you don’t let her go, I may have to become violent."

"Please. Do you think you are a threat to us? There are three of us, and you carry no weapons. Be gone before we are forced to kill you."

"Okay, mate. If that’s the way you want it …" Spike dropped his package, put on his game face, and lunged at the leader.

*****

The fight was over quickly. Spike wouldn’t have minded if it had lasted a bit longer, but he’d managed to inflict more than a little damage. Lots of bruises, a couple of broken bones. Made him feel somewhat better about last night’s failure to eat Xander.

The leader had finally called their retreat with one broken arm cradled against his chest. He turned to Spike one last time before taking off. "This isn’t over. Sooner or later, we will find that which we seek. The Slayer can’t keep the Key from us forever."

The three men finally ran off. Dawn was sitting on the ground with nothing more than a few scratches to show for her near-kidnapping.

"You all right, little bit?" Spike asked, offering the girl his hand.

Dawn took it and allowed him to help her to her feet, all the time looking up at him with gratitude in her eyes. "You … you rescued me."

"Well, I couldn’t let anything happen to my favorite thousand year old blob of mystical energy, could I, now?"

"You just jumped right in there and saved me. You were amazing!"

"Don’t let’s make a big deal about it, pet."

"But it is a big deal. Those guys were trying to kidnap me and you just jumped in and creamed them." The look on her face suddenly became confused. "Hey … how come you could do that?"

"Not that big a deal, love. Vampires are stronger than humans, and there were only three of them."

"Yeah, but … you hit them. They were human and you hit them. Why didn’t it hurt you?"

Oh, bugger, Spike thought. How am I gonna get out of this one? "Well … maybe it’s because … It’s all about my intent, see. I didn’t really want to hurt them. I was trying to protect you. Yeah, that must be it." He quickly changed the subject. "And, by the way, what are you doing out in the streets all by your lonesome after dark? You know it’s not safe. Your big sis would not be happy."

"I know. Buffy went to train with Giles and then she had to patrol. She told me to just stay home, but I hate being in that house all by myself."

"Still, you should listen to her. Even if you weren’t some kind of mystical Key, you know the streets of Sunnydale aren’t safe for little girls like you after dark."

"I’m not a little girl. Besides, I didn’t think it would be a big deal if I went to Melinda’s house for dinner – she lives right across the street. Anyway, I was fine at Melinda’s. But it was getting late and I wanted to get home before Buffy realized I was missing. You know how she gets."

"Yeah, I do. But you should do what she tells you. The Slayer knows what she’s talking about. Look, if I hadn’t come along when I did, who knows what would have happened to you." Spike took Dawn by the arm and directed her across the street.

"I was so scared. Those guys came out of nowhere. They knew that Buffy is the Slayer and they knew that I’m her sister. They said they were going to hold on to me until she told them where the Key was. They said they had to destroy it, that it was the will of God." Dawn looked up at Spike, visibly shaken, "What if they knew I was their stupid Key? Do you think they would kill me?"

"Could be. It’s hard to tell with these crazy religious types. I mean, really, scaring the living daylights out of a little girl in the name of doing good. At least when I was out there killing people, I knew it was evil and never tried to claim it was anything different."

Dawn had to smile at the indignant tone in Spike’s voice as he said this.

They had reached the Summers’ front door. "Right then, home sweet home. In you go. And no more wandering around this town after dark."

Dawn opened the door, hesitated a moment, then turned back to Spike. "Do you … do you want to come in?"

Good question. Did he? Buffy had made it more than clear she didn’t want him coming around any more. She’d even gotten Red to do a spell on the house so he couldn’t go inside. And now here was Dawn, asking him back in. He was tempted. He would love to see the look on Buffy’s face if she came home and saw him sitting in her living room and watching the telly with the little nip. Actually, no. On second thought, maybe he could do without seeing that particular look on the Slayer’s face.

"Better not. We both know big sis wouldn’t like it."

"It’s just … I feel safe with you around."

"You – don’t say that!" Spike said, then continued in his best menacing-vampire voice. "You shouldn’t feel safe with me. Did you forget I’m a vampire? Did you forget all the things I’ve done? Don’t you know that, if I could, I’d rip your throat out in a heartbeat?"

"Oh, please! You would not."

"What makes you so sure."

"You just rescued me from those men. You wouldn’t have done that if you wanted me dead. You beat them up to save me. The only thing I can’t figure is … how long has it been?"

"How long has what been?"

Dawn hesitated a second before responding. She wanted to get a good look at him when she said it. "Since the chip stopped working." And, as soon as the words left her mouth, she could tell from the expression on his face that she was right.

"Since … what? I don’t … wh- …" Oh, this was not good, Spike thought. Did she really know about the chip? If she told Buffy, he was one dead vampire. He had to convince her she was wrong. "The chip still works just fine, little bit. You don’t know what you’re talking about!"

"Yes I do. Those guys were human, and you whaled on them. No way you coulda done that if the chip was still working."

"Well, that’s just … crazy talk! Do you think if I was free of the sodding chip, I’d be here saving you from nasties? No. I’d be out there having a right good time, killing people and drinking their blood, wouldn’t I?"

"I don’t think so. You helped protect Mom and me when Buffy asked you to. You tried to help Buffy fight Glory, too. Plus, you just saved me from being kidnapped … maybe even killed. Maybe the chip kept you from hurting people, but you helped us because you wanted to. The chip didn’t make you do those things."

It did something to his insides, the way Dawn looked at him. Like he was some kind of hero. I’m not a bloody hero, he told himself. I’m a vampire. An evil, bad vampire. But when Dawn looked at him like that, it did something to him. He wanted to be a hero for her; he didn’t want to let her down.

He hated that.

Wonderful. Not only am I spending the evening not killing people. Now I’m a bloody hero. God, what a depressing thought.

"Look, nibblet, it would be best if you just go inside and lock the door. Keep yourself all safe and sound until the Slayer comes home."

"You sure you won’t come in? I really would feel safer if you stayed until Buffy got home."

"Stop saying things like that!" Spike sputtered. "What’s the matter with you, anyway. Inviting a vampire into your house. Especially since you seem to think I don’t have that nasty little government chip holding me back anymore. What’s to keep me from creeping into your bedroom and draining you dry?"

"Nothing, I guess. But if you wanted to do that, you could do it right now. Since the chip doesn’t work anymore."

"You’re really sure of this, aren’t you? Nothing I can do to convince you you’re wrong?"

"Nope. Don’t worry, though. I won’t tell Buffy. I won’t tell anyone. But won’t you please just stay until Buffy gets home? I don’t want to be alone."

Spike shook his head in disbelief. His life made no sense anymore. Any normal vampire would be cutting a swath of destruction through the town. And what kind of dangerous, deadly activity was he up to? Babysitting. Oh, yeah, he thought to himself. I’m real bad. He sat down on the front steps and pulled out his pack of cigarettes, lighting one. "Well, I’m not comin’ inside."

Dawn sat down on the step beside him, smiling in that excited way that only a teenage girl can accomplish.

"How’d you get the chip to stop working?"

"I told you, it still works."

"Fine. Be that way." Dawn hesitated a second before she turned to him again, another eager look on her face. "Okay, then, tell me how you became a vampire."

"Drusilla bit me. I died. I came back."

"That’s it?"

"That’s all I’m bloody well telling you."

"Well … what were you like before you were a vampire?"

"Human!"

"Geez, you’re real talkative tonight."

"Well, I’m not telling you those stories!" Spike took a draw on his cigarette before continuing. "Besides, who I was before doesn’t matter. He’s dead, remember? I’m not him anymore."

"But you still have all his memories. You even have his name, sort of. I mean, I’ve heard Buffy and Giles call you ‘William the Bloody’ – wasn’t that your name before … you know."

"What of it?"

"Well, why’d they call you that?"

"Look, I’m not telling you anything about my sodding life before I was a vampire, okay? Just drop it."

"Well, how about –"

Spike cut her off. "Look, I’ve had a miserable day and I’m not in the mood for chit-chat. You want me to stay until Buffy gets home, fine. But I’m bloody well not going to sit here and entertain you. I shouldn’t even be here. Your sister comes home and finds me hanging about, she’s gonna be one brassed-off Slayer."

"Then what the hell are you doing here, Spike?"

He nearly jumped at the sound of the Slayer’s voice coming from behind him. He and Dawn both turned around and saw Buffy standing in the doorway. From the expression on her face, Spike surmised that she had come in the back door and discovered Dawn missing. Buffy looked relieved to see Dawn, but she was definitely none too pleased to see who Dawn was hanging out with.

Before Spike could say a word, Dawn jumped to his defense. "Don’t be mad, Buffy. I asked him to stay. These weird guys tried to grab me, and Spike scared them off. He rescued me!"

Buffy looked at him skeptically. "Spike rescued you?"

"It was nothing, love. Really." Spike said, standing up. "The bite-sized one here wanted the Big Bad to hang around until her Slayer sis got home in case the nasties came back. You’re here now, so I’ll be going."

"Hold it right there, Spike. Dawn, what do you mean, he rescued you?"

"Well …" Dawn stole a quick look at Spike. "These guys tried to grab me. Spike showed up, put on his vamp face and told them to leave me alone. Then they took off screaming."

Spike stared at Dawn, a little amazed at how easily she had told the half-truth. But he composed himself by the time Buffy turned to him.

He nodded in agreement. "Yeah, that’s it. That’s exactly what happened."

Buffy looked from Dawn to Spike and back again. There was something they weren’t telling her. She had no idea what that could be, but she knew there was something going on. She was too tired to worry about it, however, so she decided to push the thought aside.

"Okay. Well, I’m home now, so you can leave. Dawn, get in the house."

As Dawn walked up the stairs, Spike could hear Buffy starting in on her. "What were you thinking, anyway? I told you to stay right here. If you hadn’t left the house, nothing would have happened to you and you wouldn’t have needed Spike …" The door shut behind the two Summers girls, cutting off the rest of Buffy’s remarks.

Typical. Save her bloody sister’s life, but not a word of thanks for Spike. When was she ever going to, just once, acknowledge that he had done something good? Bloody well never, that’s when, he thought to himself.

With one last look at the tightly shut front door, Spike crossed the street to retrieve his package from the butcher shop. He checked to make sure that the container wasn’t leaking, then he continued on toward his crypt. What a lousy evening. First there was the whole not killing anybody last night. Then, tonight, he acts like a bloody hero saving a bloody damsel in distress. He didn’t even know who he was anymore.

Then, to make the evening just about perfect, Buffy couldn’t even be bothered to thank him. Of course, that last part was hardly a surprise. In fact, if she ever did thank him for doing something good, he figured he’d faint from the shock of it.

At least he was invited back into the Summers’ house. That thought made him smile. Yeah, something positive had come out of this night after all.

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