Dawn sighed as she pulled out another shirt and held it against herself before the mirror.

"He's still there," her friend Janice said quietly.

Dawn smiled. "I know."

Janice sighed and rolled her eyes and reached for another shirt to show the very pregnant Dawn.

Dawn for her part, seemed oblivious to their watcher, as Janice has dubbed him. Janice had tried to get her to call the police once, but Dawn had waved away the request. She knew him, he would never even come close enough for her to speak to. Not anymore.

"Well, have the two of you talked about names?"

Dawn, for a moment, was lost in the memory of her discussion with her husband. "Yes, Joyce Elizabeth, if it's a girl."

"Oh, William is gonna be so jealous of his little sister."

"Or brother," Dawn said calmly, distractedly. She was trying to catch a glimpse of him out of the corner of her eye.

"Or brother, what if it's a brother?"

Damn, she felt more than saw him move, which meant he knew what she was trying. "What?"

"Earth to Dawn, the name if it's a boy?"

"Oh, we're not sure. It's gonna be a girl. I can feel it," Dawn nodded, then sighed and placed the shirt back on its hanger. "Come on, next store."

"Is he going to follow us?"


Janice sighed, then grabbed Dawn's wrist, and pulled her to a bench. "Tell me the truth, Dawnie. Who is he?"

Dawn looked around, but if he was there, he was keeping out of sight, as usual. "I've told you, he's an old friend of my sister's."

"Your sister's been dead a while, Dawn. Why is he still hanging around?"

Yes, Buffy was dead. She had to take a quick breath every time she thought of it. It still hurt too. Like Mom.

"He's just watching out for me, okay?"

"He's a stalker, Dawn."

"No, he just made a promise. To protect me."

"Until the end of the world, yeah, you've mentioned it. But it doesn't make any sense."

Dawn almost sighed. Where was Kit when she needed someone to help her with the secret of Sunnydale? "Jan, I promise, someday, he'll let it go." Like the day I die. "He's just dealing with Buffy's death, and I was always like his kid sister. Someday," her voice rose, "He might even decide to face me, vocally even."

Distantly she heard a snort of laughter, and jumped to her feet, then sighed and stopped before she even began to chase him.


She turned, and let out a squeal as Willow ran up and embraced her. "Will, oh my god!"

"You're pregnant, AGAIN?"

Dawn laughed, then turned to Janice. "I'm sorry, can I call you later? We'll do this tomorrow."

Janice nodded, smiling, and walked away as Dawn and Willow hugged again.

"Wow, has it been that long?"

"Since Rebecca's christening, yeah," Dawn said as she unlocked the front door. She gestured to the couch. "You want something to drink?"

"No, nothing, thanks. Come on, sit down and talk to me."

Dawn did so, smiling. "How have you been?"

"Good, good, just visiting my parents while we're all in the same country for once. I never expected to see you!"

"Yeah, well, Sunnydale is as far as I'll go, I think. We love it here."

Willow laughed. "Sunnydale, sometimes I do miss it. Have you seen Xander lately?"

"No, you know he travels a lot too. The last time I saw him was probably just after I found out I was pregnant again. He promised to build a cradle just like he did for William, and add any more rooms, free of charge."


"Yeah, well, the honor of being a godparent goes to his head."

"He'd do anything for William."

"Ironic, isn't it? Considering he couldn't stand-" she stopped, and smiled. "Sorry, didn't mean to bring that up."

"It's okay, trust me, old news. Xander couldn't stand any guy who was closer to Buffy than he was, ever." Willow sighed. "He's still around isn't he?"


Willow nodded. "I felt him when I came into the mall. I think he's scaring away all of the nocturnal beasties from doing business."

Dawn grinned. "I see no problem in that."

Willow sighed and relaxed back into the couch. "We talk about him, Xander and I, and Anya, too, when I chat with her. We can feel him, watching over us. Even Xander has gone a little soft when it comes to Spike."

"Well, he made a promise."

"The promise was for you, Dawnie. He never gave a damn about us, until she died."

Dawn tensed. "Buffy, say it. Say her name, please. No one else ever will. It's like, when it comes to her, everyone goes all egg-shelly. I'm not a kid anymore, it helps to talk about her."

Willow watched her for several moments, then reached out to brush her hair behind her ears. "She'd be so proud of you. All married, and pregnant, and pregnant again. You were her good thing. She held onto you long after the rest of us, because you were her everything."

Dawn smiled, trying not to cry. "Thank you, Will."


Dawn looked up as her son ran in the front door. She stood to hug him, then motioned to Willow behind his back. Willow stood, grinning, and grabbed the boy from behind. He shrieked, then saw who it was and tackled Willow. "Aunt Willow! When did you get here? You have to see my treehouse!"

Willow set him back on the ground and grinned at him. "Who are you?"

William just stared at her a moment. "What? Oh, you're pretending!" He stuck his hand out formally. "I'm William."

"How old are you, William?"

"Sorry, I can't talk to strangers," William said solemnly, and turned to leave.

"Hey!" Willow laughed and pulled him into a hug again. "You brat! How have you been?"

"He's five, how do you think he's been?" Dawn laughed.

William made a face at his mother, then smiled shyly at Willow. "Want to see my treehouse?"

"She will when you finish your homework."



William sighed and retreated. Willow grinned. "He's so cute." She turned back to Dawn and frowned. "What is it?"

Dawn sighed, and tried to smile. "He's been seeing someone following him, lately. He's freaking out, and a teacher called yesterday. I want to tell him the truth, but."

"He's only five."


Willow sighed. "Dawn, I don't know what to tell you. You'll have to tell them someday. It'll be hard to survive Sunnydale and not have them know."

"My husband doesn't. I've kept him from seeing what I was, am. When I found out I was pregnant with him, I gave it up. I realized that just because Buffy was dead, it didn't mean I had to die trying to be her. I have a family, I want to protect them, but I don't want them to know, any of it."

"But how do they think Buffy died?"

"A car crash, like the story we made up."

"Dawn." Willow thought for a moment, then sighed. "I can do a spell, try to find out what's been following him, maybe we can you know, kill it."

Dawn shook her head. "It's Spike, Willow. I know he means well, but he's scaring my children. I have to have a life, Will."

"Then tell him to back off."

"He never lets me see him. I'll hear him, sometimes, rarely."

"Leave him a note or something, make it obvious it's for him, and he'll look at it." Willow smiled. "Hell, invite him for dinner or something. It might be what he needs to let go."

At that moment William ran down the stairs. "DONE! Aunt Willow, come look at my treehouse!"

Dawn sighed and rubbed her arms at the coolness of the fall night. She listened intently for several moments, then sighed at the silence. "I know you're out there."

She hadn't really expected him to answer, she chided herself as she felt disappointed at the silence. "We're getting ready to have dinner," she tried again. "I brought home some buffalo wings from the Bronze. You interested?"

Again, only silence. She sighed. "You're welcome anytime, you know."

She went back into the house, and stood waiting several moments, then finally sighed and went into the dining room with her family.


Dawn opened her eyes slowly at the noise, then closed them again, thinking she might have dreamt it.


She opened them again, and sat up, awake now. She wished silently that her husband hadn't had to leave for business.

Thump. She frowned, that sounded like it was coming from--

"MOMMY!!!!!" William screamed.

Dawn was running down the hall before his voice even died out. She ran into the door of William's bedroom and reached for the light.

A slimy hand grabbed her wrist before she could turn the light on, and picked her off the ground, throwing her against the wall. She slid to the floor, unable to see anything in the darkness of the room.

"Mommy?" William whispered.

"Where are you?" Dawn reached out with her hand feeling her way along the wall, trying to reach out with her senses to figure out where the creature was.

"Under the bed."

"Stay there." Dawn's eyes were adjusting now.

"Where's the boogeyman?"

"I don't know." She began to crawl towards the bed now. She had had Xander build in a compartment in the headboard. There was a sword there, if she could just reach it.

There was a growl to her right, and she froze. It was there, she could feel it breathing on the back of her neck. "William?"


"When I say go, you run. Run outside, and yell for Aunt Willow. Understand?"


"Do it, okay? I'll be fine." She could turn and kick him back, then kick the door closed once William was out. Hopefully she'd have enough time to make it to the sword before the thing ripped her apart. "I love you, William. Now, GO!"

She heard William scrambling from beneath the bed as the creature growled again. She turned onto her back and kicked as hard as she could. Her heel hit something, and the thing made a roar as William ran from the room. Dawn reached with her foot, kicking the door closed, and then turned to try to stand and run for the bed.

"Aah!" The thing grabbed her from behind, around her neck, pulling her back and slamming her against the wall.

"Son of a bitch!" She gasped, trying to punch it. It only growled and pulled her forward to slam her into the wall again. Her vision faded out for a moment and she gasped, refusing to lose consciousness. Outside she could hear William yelling, and she smiled. "You're about to get your ass royally kicked."

The thing growled, then yelped in pain, letting her go. She slid to the floor, hearing the exchange of blows. The thing yelled out once more, then she heard it fall with a sickening thud.

"Willow," she murmured. "You okay?"

Only silence responded, and as she heard the doorknob turn she knew it wasn't Willow that had saved her.


The door froze, an inch of light showing through the crack that it had been opened.

Dawn started to stand, then groaned. Instantly, cool hands were on her arms and legs, checking them, it seemed for breaks. Then, they were pulling her to her feet. She reached out to touch him, and he backed away. She could just barely see his silhouette in the dark. He was slowly inching towards the door.

"Wait, please?"

William had stopped yelling outside, and they could hear him running up the stairs, another person with him. Spike was in a panic almost, not wanting to be seen. He wavered at the door, looking around madly.

Dawn stepped quickly to the window, opening it quickly. "Go, hurry." She backed away from it.

Spike reached out to her then, squeezing her hand just once. Then he was gone. She saw a slight blur go out the window, and smiled.

"Dawn!" Willow yelled.

"I'm here!"

Willow ran in, turning on the light and gasping at the sight of the creature. "Oh, God! Are you okay?"

"I'm fine."

"What happened?"

"Spike. Where's William?"

"Outside the door, I told him to wait. Spike was here?"

"Will!" Dawn called, not hearing the question.

The boy ran into the room, eyes wide in fear. He looked down at the monster, then ran into his mother's arms.

"It's okay, baby, it's okay."

Willow looked at Dawn over William's head, hesitated, then sighed silently, and turned to the monster. With a wave of her hand, it was gone. A moment later so was she, having gone downstairs.

Dawn led William to the bed, and held him, whispering comforts to him until he fell asleep.

She crept down the stairs to where Willow was waiting with two mugs of coffee. "You okay?" The witch asked quietly.

Dawn nodded. "That was what was following William, wasn't it? Not Spike."

Willow nodded. "It eats the internal organs of children."


"Yeah, but then they take the skin and-" she stopped seeing the look on Dawn's face. "But you don't care about the skin."

They sat in silence for several moments, then Willow sighed. "So, what are you going to do now? Tell him?"

"Yes, that it was a nightmare."

"Oh. Dawn-"

"Give it a few years before I tell that I raised him on a Hellmouth knowingly."

Willow smiled and stood. "I've got a plane to catch in about six hours."

"What, you can teleport at a moments notice, but you still use public transportation?"

"Teleporting is very, very tiring. Trust me, I sleep better knowing the plane won't decide to take me to a Hell dimension."

Dawn smiled. "All right. It was really good to see you again, Will. Will you come back again soon?"

"Of course." She reached out and brushed Dawn's swollen belly with her fingertips. Dawn felt something, almost like a jolt of electricity. "I'll be here when she decides to make an appearance."

Dawn grinned. "Thanks."

Willow left her in the kitchen, walking out onto the porch and shivering at the coolness of the night. She could feel his eyes on her, and heard, subtlety, his harsh breathing. He'd been hurt. She smiled, and waved her hand, and heard him gasp as his wounds healed. "Thank you Spike. Keep it up, old friend."

Dawn yawned and stretched as she rolled out of bed before dawn.

Thump. From downstairs.

She frowned, then jumped from the bed, taking the stairs two at a time. "William!!"

She ran into the kitchen and stopped short.

William was standing just outside the door, looking in at her guiltily.

She opened the door, smiling. "Lock yourself out?" She stopped, staring at the plate in his hands. "What's that?"

William hesitated. "I left some of last night's dinner out if anyone wanted it."

"What have I told you about lying?"

He sighed, and set the plate in the sink. "He said he liked them, so I took him some."

"He?" Dawn frowned, then ran for the door, looking out into the night.

"He's already gone. We talked for a little while, then he had to leave."

"Did you know him?"



"Don't yell. He already told me I shouldn't talk to strangers. He got mad at me for going out at night, too."

Dawn smiled. "Why were you outside?"

"I had a nightmare about a monster. I went to my treehouse. I think he's homeless. He was just standing under the tree, looking up at Joyce's room."

The nursery. Buffy's old room. "Wait, what? Joyce?"

"Yeah, he said that we should name the baby that. Can we? Oh!" He ran back out, was gone a moment, then came back, a small box in hand. "This is for you, he said."

Dawn took the box, then smiled as she pulled out the silver chain. She read the small note on the lid of the box, and smiled. 'Til the end of the world, but not tonight, Niblet, okay? Tonight, you take care of your children, and I'll take care of you.'

"What's it say?" William asked, making a face at the words on the necklace that he couldn't read.

'Mommy Niblet.'

"Mommy," she said softly.

"Well, can we?"


"Name her Joyce!" William frowned at her in frustration.

Dawn laughed and pulled her son into a hug. "Yeah, yeah, sure."

Dawn sat a pair of pants in her basket and they stopped to look at baby clothes, only slightly trying to see from the corner of her eye. Kit saw her and looked over her shoulder then smiled, as Janice sighed.

"He's there again," Janice said irritably. Kit rolled her eyes, and smiled at Dawn.

Dawn smiled back. "I know."