So this is my first attempt at a spuffy fic. I hope you all like it! Essentially it follows the changes in Spike and Buffy's relationship caused by their memories of Dawn. This prologue begins with the end of "The Gift" in season five, but will jump back to "School Hard" in season two next chapter. There will be interspersing chapters of the summer before Buffy was resurrected.

Anyways, I hope you all enjoy! Let me know what you think, and if you think I've got a good hold on the characters (though you'll only really see Spike's POV this chapter).


It's dark now, really truly dark. The portal closed, and all the light went out, and for the first time in two hundred years Spike no longer felt the need to breath. He couldn't look at her, but he couldn't look away; and his chest felt like it was caving in, and God what he would give for the pain to simply be because she'd punched him again.

With a ragged sob he staggered to his feet. He knew he didn't have a soul, and that Giles and the scoobies thought he couldn't feel anything properly. In that moment he wished they were right. He wished he could be nothing but anger, and vengeance, and blood. He wished his demon would howl, but instead it was being oddly quiet as he fell to his knees at her side.

Buffy, his darling Buffy.

A couple stray tears landed on her cheek, and tenderly, he wiped them away with the pad of his thumb.

"I'm so sorry, love," he murmured, tucking an errant lock behind her ear. If he tried hard enough, he could pretend she was sleeping.

"Spike?" Xander stood behind him, tentative, "Dawn."

Spike looked up. The Niblet had seen a lot in that little life of hers. She didn't need to see this: her sister in his arms without a smile or a snarky comment. Time was that someone told him he'd be all domestic one day he'd have torn their tongue from their throat, but home smelled like bacon in the morning, and laundry detergent, and that bloody awful perfume Dawn loved so much.

Now home was family, and home had gotten so much smaller.

"Get her out of here," he told Xander, trying to keep his voice even, but hells was it hard. The thing about not having a soul, it wasn't that a man didn't have emotions anymore, it was that he didn't get to control the way they worked. It was different from vamp to vamp: Angelus was flat, cool and calculating; Dru was too shattered to make a sense, bloody house of mirrors that Angelus had taken a hammer to; Spike, he was mountains and valleys - always all or nothing with him - an indelicate balance between apathy and passion.

Buffy and Dawn, they fell into the all category.

"Where?" Xander asked.

"I dunno," Spike growled, "Just not here."

The house felt strangely normal. He could still smell Buffy over everything even though he knew all that was left of her was a body in the back of the Magic Box. Biting his lip, just shy of drawing blood, he closed the door behind him. The blinds were next, sunrise would be soon, and he didn't much feel like sleeping.

"Spike?" Dawn's voice sounded just as shaky as his, calling for him from the top of the stairs.

"Niblet, you should be in bed," he said, watching her tiptoe down the stairs even though they were the only two left in the house.

"I can't sleep."

"Me neither, Nib," he said, "Me neither."

It was quiet. Dawn's eyes were filling, and he could feel his brittle heart starting to crack.

"What are they going to do with me?" She asked, "Are they going to take me away?"

"Who?" Spike asked. Glory? He could only hope that bitch was dead and rotting somewhere. He'd be dust before he let anyone put their hands on the last Summers girl.

"Hank." Her voice trembled, "I don't want to live with him again. I don't want to be alone."

Spike grabbed her, perhaps a bit too rough, and pulled her to his chest. She felt small, and fragile, and the first sob was fragmented as she tried to hold it back. They were family; and now, they were all they had left.

"You aren't going anywhere, Dawn. Won't let you."