The aroma of french vanilla coffee wafted through the house as he made his way downstairs. He nodded at her as he pulled a cup from the cabinet and poured it full. She smiled as he looked over her shoulder at the paper she was reading and kissed the top of her head before he satdown across from her. "You packed?"
She asked over the mug as she brought it to her lips.

"Yeah, I'm ready to go. Sure I can't convince you to come along? Dawn would love to see you. Could make it a second honeymoon?" He winked at her.

"Spike, I'd love to but you know I'm waiting to hear from Giles about Rona. She mght need help, I may have to go to Virginia for a few days." Buffy sighed.

"You'll let me know if you go, I'm taking the cell." He asked already knowing the answer.

"Of course I will." She patted his hand, "Be sure to tell Dawn and Chris I said hello and kiss Jake for me."

"Will do, I'll call her when I get there." Spike stood and looked out the window as the sun went down, "I guess I better get a move on."

"Spike...." She grinned from her seat.

"Yes." He turned towards her,

"Don't forget to put the trash out, it's your turn."

"Buffy, I really don't think this is a fair chore for me, how much trash do "I" actually create?" He raised his eyebrows at her.

She stood then and pulled the trash can from under the sink examining the contents, "Hmmm....you're right - look what was left of my sandwich from supper, a yogurt container and look a this - weetabix box, spicy chicken wings bag, ice cream carton and empty hair gel and down in the very bottom trying to hide is a empty cigarette package."

He looked at her sheepishly as he pulled the bag from the can and tied it shut, "Okay, okay." He leaned over and kissed her softly, "I'm going to miss you."

"Me too." she smiled as she wrapped her arms around her neck and deepened the kiss, " Be careful."

"Always."

She watched him leave and her heart did that little sigh it always did when he left even if only for a short time. He was her anchor now the one person who she could count on in everything. Shortly after they had dispersed of the first evil they had put a program of training all potential slayers into action. Giles had then coordinated where the potentials were assigned and if they needed help Buffy, Spike or both when needed went to aid them. Helped keep the badness down to a minimum.

Dawn had finished high school and started college in LA where she met her future husband Chris. He was a few years older then her, an aspiring law student. Raised by his grandmother he was an honest man and had become one of the top prosecutors in LA, unfortunately this did not make him a popular man with the underworld. Three months ago Dawn and Chris had become parents to a baby boy named Jake.

Buffy and Spike had married in a small private ceremony shortly before Dawn went off to college. They
had settled into married life with the usual amount of small troubles but the love between them was strong. They knew they were suited for each other and for the job they had chosen. A new council had been set up that paid them a nice salary for their services. Life was good for them. They doted on Dawn's little boy when they saw him each knowing that there really was no place for children in thier busy lives.

****
"Well that wraps that up." Spike dusted off his hands as he and Angel walked back towards the car.

"Thanks for the help, Spike." Angel gritted his teeth.

"After all these years that still galls you doesnt' it?" Spike grinned, "Thanking me?"

Angel offered a small smile, "Yeah it does, but I do appreciate the help. You want to go for a drink?"

"No, it's still early enough that I can run by Dawn's and check on her. I didn't get a chance to call her earlier, think I'll just run by there."

"Tell her I said hello and to be careful, Chris is making lots of enemies. I know he's doing a good job but it's also a dangerous one." Angel dropped Spike off at his car, "Tell Buffy I said hello."

"I will." Spike told him as he closed the door to the Desoto. He was going to have to find out more about the cases Chris was working on, he hated the thought of his Niblet in danger.

****

The young couple hurried from the house towards the car parked out front, the engine running. "Come on Dawn, hurry."

"I am, but it's cold and I want to make sure he stays covered." She held the tightly wrapped bundle close to her chest.

"Do you have everything?" Chris asked.

"Yes, but I feel bad leaving you here alone." Dawn patted the baby who was beginning to stir.

"It's too dangerous for you here. Buffy can take care of you in Sunnydale much better then I can." Chris
gave her a smile and kissed her cheek.

A black car drove suspiciously towards the couples home.
***
Buffy made a quick sweep around the neighborhood before she returned home. It was a quiet night and patrol was lonley without Spike. She noticed the message light blinking on her machine and quickly pressed it, might be Spike. Instead she heard her sister's frightened voice, "Buffy, I dont' have a lot of time to explain but Jake and I need to come stay with you for a little while. Chris thinks we'll be safer there. See you soon."

Buffy frowned as she replayed the message. She picked up the phone and dialed Dawn's number, there was no answer. She then called Spike's cell phone but couldn't get through. Getting worried she called
Angel's place and was releived when the familiar voice answered, "Hello."

"Angel, this is Buffy. Is Spike around? I can't get through on his cell phone." Buffy asked as she nervously twisted the phone cord.

"No, he left about twenty minutes ago, said he was going to Dawn's. Is everything okay?" Angel asked when he heard the worry in her voice.

Buffy quickly explained the mystery message from Dawn. Angel assured her that he was sure that everything was okay, but he would go to Dawn's and see if he could catch Spike there. "Don't worry, Buffy. It will all be okay." He hung up the phone and hurried towards Dawn's house.

****
Spike tapped his fingers on the steering wheel as he drove towards Dawn's house, he hoped they were home. It was always good to see his Nib and her little family and he was anxious to find out what was going on with Chris' work.

The black car slowed down in front of Dawn and Chris as they settled Jake into his car seat and loaded the luggage. Before either realized what was going on, a spray of gunfire was aimed at the couple. Chris
dove to protect Dawn even as his body was riddled with bullets, the last thing he saw was Dawn falling to the ground beside him bleeding profusely from her own wounds. The baby in the car wailed loudly and miserably as if he knew at that moment the loss he had just suffered.

A neighbor quickly called 911 and within moments the police and EMT's were on the scene. A policewoman heard the baby's screams and retrieved him from the car trying to calm the infant as the EMT's worked on his parents, a white sheet was pulled over Chris as they began to concentrate on Dawn.

Spike knew something was wrong before he reached the house, he had heard the sirens and could see the lights of the emergency vehicles as he turned on to Dawn's street. He parked the car and raced to her house, a police officer stopped him before he could reach the EMT's. "I'm sorry sir you can't go over there."

"I bloody well can, I'm the woman who lives here brother in law. What's happened?" Spike was angry and could smell blood heavy in the air. Spike didn't fear alot of things but right now he was scared.

"You're family?" The officer asked.

"Yes, I am."

"Follow me, sir." The officer led him to where they were working on Dawn trying to get her stable enough for the ambulance ride. He winced when he saw the sheet covered body next to her....Chris? He knelt beside Dawn, she looked so very pale and small. Her eyes sought his as she tried to speak.

"No, Niblet, save your strength." Spike begged her but he knew it was too late, too much blood on the ground.

"Spike...." Her voice was a whisper, her eyes watering as she looked towards the policewoman holding her child, "You have to....." She coughed once blood spattering her chin, "Take care of Jake...."

"Dawn ........You'll take care of him." Spike's voice broke as he tried to offer comfort that he knew was a lie.

"You and Buffy......promise me." Dawn's eyes bored into him.

He squeezed her hand then, "I promise...we'll take care of him.....till the end of the world." His face was covered in tears now.

"Thank....." Her breath hitched and her eyes closed and then....she was gone.

"Dawn...." He cried out as he pulled her body close to his chest.

"You have to let her go, sir." The EMT gently removed Dawn from Spike's grasp.

Spike watched as his "Lil bit" was loaded into the ambulance next to her husband. How was he going to tell Buffy?

"Sir....Sir." A feminine voice brought him back from his grief, "I heard what she said, I suppose this is Jake?" She held the crying baby out to him, "We can get the temporary paperwork for you to be his guardian tonight until the formal papers can be done."

Spike stared at her as if she had three heads, paper work, guardianship? What had he promised? He and Buffy weren't parent material. He heard the siren of the ambulance take off and turned to watch it leave.
He had promised...."Yes, we should do that." He told the woman as she offered the baby to him. He awkwardly took Jake the baby still crying soflty. Not knowing what else to do he began to gently sway him back and forth, "S'okay...little guy. It's gonna be okay." He spoke softly to the baby, trying more to convince himself that it would be okay then the crying baby he held so gently in his arms.

Angel arrived at the house to find the Crime Scene guys putting up the yellow tape and his throat tightened when he saw the chalk marks where two bodies had fallen. He scanned the small crowd looking for Spike and was relieved to see him sitting on the front step cradling Jake. A policewoman sat beside him and seemed to be filliing out some paperwork.

"Spike?" Angel called his name softly.

"They're gone, Angel. Chirs and Lil Bit both of them." Fresh tears rolled down Spike's face, "What am I...how am I going to tell Buffy?"

The baby had finally cried himself to sleep in Spike's arms. Angel made a move to take him and Spike numbly handed across to him, "Can he and Jake leave now?" Angel asked the policewoman.

"He has to come to the station and sign a few things then he and the baby can go." She answered her face expressing her sympathy as she patted the baby's pudgy arm.

"I'll take them downtown." Angel told her as he guided Spike towards his car stopping long enough to get Jakes car seat from front lawn where the police had set it. He also grabbed the diaper bag sitting beside it.
"We'll need this stuff." He told Spike as they loaded the car seat into his back seat and put up the top, "We dont' want that night air blowing on him." Angel gave Spike a half smile, the blondes unusual silence was scaring him.

"What do I do now?" Spike turned to Angel.

"We go to the Police Station, sign what you have to sign and then we go back to my place and call Buffy."
Angel sighed.

"Can't tell her this on the phone, Angel. S'not right to do it that way." Spike sniffed as more tears threatened to spill.

"She already knows there's a problem, Spike. That's why I'm here she called the hotel when she couldn't get you on your cell. Dawn called and left a message, Chris was sending she and Jake to you and Buffy for protection. I've been worried that he was making enemies in high places...he's prosecuted some big bads that were being defended by Wolfram and Hart." Angel explained as he drove towards the Police Station.

"Maybe I should have her come here, then tell her. We've got to make.....make arrangements and Chris' grandmother has to be told." Spike buried his face in his hands.

"Knowing Buffy she's probably on her way now...but maybe that's your best option. Have her come and then tell her." Angel stopped the car outside the station, "I'll wait outside with the little guy so we don't risk waking him."

"You seem to know alot about babies," Spike noted as he opened the door.

"Well, Connor started out as one." Angel sighed.

****

"Somebody call me!!!" Buffy shouted to the empty house as she paced around the phone. It had been two hours since she'd talked to Angel and still no word from Dawn or Spike. Something was wrong, she could feel it. She tried Dawn's again and was surprised when an unfamiliar voice answered, "Who is this?" She asked abruptly.

"This is Sargeant Cole from the LA PD to whom am I speaking?"

Buffy dropped the phone and grabbed her keys - she was going to LA "now".

TBC