Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.

A/N: So, this fic was written off a prompt posted by 3hours on the Elysian Fields auction site for Tam and Kain in February 2013. I wasn't part of the auction and I believe the prompt was picked up by another author, but in a subsequent post 3hours said "the more Dawn time travel fics the better", which sounded to me like permission to go for it. Since the prompt wouldn't leave my head (darn plot bunnies) here's my take on it. Credit for the basic story idea to 3hours. Please find the original prompt below.

Original Request (by 3hours): I'd like to see a(nother) time-travel Spuffy story! However, unlike most time-travel stories where it's Spike or Buffy themselves that go back to fix things, I'd like to see Dawn be the one. In a post-Chosen, post-NFA future that is not comic compliant and in which both Spike and Buffy are dead (the circumstances are entirely up to you, but they were not together and not happy), Dawn explores her latent powers and discovers that she can not only travel between dimensions but also in time. She decides to go back (how far back is up to you) and sort out Spike & Buffy so they won't die miserable and apart. Maybe she also helps her younger self come to terms with being The Key and what that means, if applicable? I don't mind who writes it, but would prefer for it to be long-ish so the Spuffy can develop slowly rather than fall-into-each-others-arms-at-the-drop-of-a-hat scenario. The only thing I'm adamant about really is that the chip either never gets put in or it comes out asap, allowing for Spike to *choose* to change rather than be forced to.

A/N 2: Yeah, so this is part 1 of 3 - we're going to call it a "moderately off-canon season 4". Enjoy.


Sunnydale, November 1999

Dawn flew out of the portal she'd created and right into a familiar black clad figure with a solid thump. Her momentum and his surprise sent them down a tangle of arms and legs, but she wasn't in much of a position to complain at the moment. She pushed herself up enough to get a good look at her surroundings and realized she was on the ridge overlooking the UC Sunnydale campus. The moon hung, a nearly perfect silver disc, high overhead and Spike was shaking his head, as though to clear it, beneath her. He was here and the moon was nearly full, which meant that it must be the night before Oz would meet Veruca – the she-werewolf whose death had prompted him to leave Sunnydale and Willow. The night Spike was supposed to be captured by the Initiative.

"Oh, thank God." Dawn murmured. Exactly when and where she wanted to be. Though she'd certainly cut it close enough. "I made it just in time." She couldn't hear anyone nearby and the charm around her neck wasn't glowing so the Initiative soldiers must not have arrived yet. She had no doubt that they were slinking about somewhere though. They didn't have much time, but for now Spike was safe and she was going to keep it that way. She could feel his solid form beneath her and she wanted nothing more than to hug him. She would have done it too, if he hadn't suddenly come back to himself.

"What the hell?" Spike pushed her off of him and stood, dusting himself off. He tilted his head, blinking down at her in curiosity. "What have we got here? Delivery?"

He reached for her and she smothered her reflexive yelp. She didn't want to attract the attention of any nearby soldiers. Any urge she had to lock her arms around him and not let go for a week suddenly vanished as he ran his tongue along his teeth hungrily.

"Don't eat me, don't eat me!" she cried softly, suddenly recalling that this wasn't her Spike. Not yet. This Spike was unchipped, untamed, and didn't know her from Adam, or, well, Eve, she supposed would be more appropriate.

Spike was practically on top of her now. "Don't see why I shouldn't. You look like a right tasty morsel."

Dawn winced away from the predatory look in his eye, stumbling for something that would make him back off long enough for her to get herself together and explain why she was here. She hadn't been expecting this, though, in retrospect, she should have. In her sudden panic she blurted out the first thing that came to mind. "I'm not human." she said.

His scarred brow hitched upward and he took a deep sniff. "Smell human enough to me."

Crap. She'd forgotten how good a job those monks had done. He reached for her once more and she pulled away, shielding herself out of reflex even though her rational mind knew it wouldn't do any good. "I just saved your life . . . er, unlife," she tried. Well, she hadn't finished the job yet, but if he'd stop trying to eat her she would.

He snorted; rolled his eyes. "Yeah, well, that just proves you're stupid. Survival of the fittest and whatnot. Be doin' the human race a favor, really, eatin' you."

"Spike!" She pouted and amazingly he stopped short, head tilting to the side in that familiar way, eyes full of questions.

"Do I know you?" he asked. "Only, you seem a bit familiar."

There was no hope he remembered her. How could he? She didn't even exist yet, but she imagined her mannerisms were enough like Buffy's that he might think he did. Sensing her chance she pounced. "Yes. Sort of. I'm your friend."

Spike snorted, all softness leaving his face as his gaze narrowed derisively. "Funny, don't recall having any human friends. Difficult to get to know someone when you're plannin' ta eat them."

"Yes, well, be that as it may . . ." she trailed off, waving her arms frantically as he advanced once more. "I really am. I swear. And – and – if you kill me now bad things will happen! Future altering, possible world ending bad things. To you," she added hastily as he still seemed unconvinced. "Bad things will happen to you. And the universe. Like, time warping, universe unraveling type bad." That last was a bit of a stretch. Alright, it was an outright lie, but if it made him listen to her long enough for her to explain things to him, well, he'd forgive her when he and Buffy were happy and together, right?

Miraculously he stopped advancing, but before Dawn could breathe a sigh of relief he thrust out his chin and sniffed suspiciously. "Oi, what was that bit about saving my unlife?"

Chapter End Notes:

Okay - so, as I've been saying, I don't usually post stories until they are completely finished (techinically part I of BN is finished, but part II and II aren't), but I'm going to give it a shot. Also, this is edited by me, but unbeta'd. If you know anyone willing to commit to Beta a 1000 page series, please point them in my direction.

Also, this first arc is heavily Spike/Dawn friendship centered. But the spuffy is coming, I promise! And my inner geek/nerd will probably be showing. A lot. A lot of the first arc will also gloss over events from the show with minimal changes to the primary action. There is a reason for that, and I try to summarize unchanged scenes and just showcase the altered or alternate POV stuff, but undoubtably there will be times when you think "what the heck? When will she start with the big changes?" The answer to that is Part II. So, if you're up for a long, slow-burn kind of spuffy ride, welcome to the journey.

Because this story is epic-in-length I will try to post at least twice a month. Emphasis on try. My RL is very, very busy (as I'm sure many of ours are), and I like to have chapters well edited before I post.

Thanks - reenas-as