Title:                 An Open Door

Author:             mahaliem

Summary:         A conversation between Spike and Dawn set after LMPTM

Rating:              PG-13

Disclaimer:        Buffy the Vampire Slayer belongs to Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy

Spike opened his eyes when he heard footsteps on the stairs.  Dawn was creeping oh so unstealthily down to his basement lair.  He tried to see if she held matches or a lighter in her hands.  Not that he believed she'd really carry out her threat from months before.  Besides, had fought that principal, not Buffy.  Wouldn't hurt to be on the safe side, though.  Sitting up and swinging his legs over the side of the cot, he watched as the Bit approached him.

Dawn stopped a few feet in front of Spike and an eyebrow arched when she saw what he was wearing. 

"Xander's," he murmured to the unspoken question. 

Once more, he was glad he'd decided to stop sleeping in the nude.  With all those little girls running around, he'd felt it wouldn't be proper like.  Now he was wearing one of his older shirts and the too large pair of Harris' sweatpants that he'd nicked from the laundry.  They weren't black, but he could live with grey.   

"Are you okay, Spike?"

Dawn was studying the bruises that marred his skin.

"These?  It's nothing.  Will be long gone by morn.  Can't say the same for the mark you're sporting.  Sorry about that."      

"Oh, I think I can handle it," Dawn answered, trying hard to forget whining to Willow earlier.  

"Don't know why you were even there."

Sighing, Dawn sat down next to him.  He scooted over a bit to give her more room, even though she didn't take up much. 

"I wanted to see it.  See how you were when you were evil.  You've been Spike, the cool guy who lived in the cemetery and let me hang around with him.  Then you were Spike, my friend and babysitter.  I wanted to see Spike, the vampire…the killer."

"Got quite a show, didn't you?"

It was awkward moments like these that Spike truly wished he had the stones to go against the Slayer's 'no smoking in the basement" rule.   Smoking might've kept his mouth too busy to make things between him and the Bit worse.  Fidgeting next to him, she obviously wanted to ask him something, but wasn't sure how to spit it out.

"Is that…is that how you were when…when you hurt Buffy?"

Spike tilted his head and looked at her, not quite sure he understood the question.  Dawn glanced at him, then looked down at her hands in her lap before continuing.

"You know…when you tried to rape her?"

"No!" exploded out of him, causing Dawn to flinch back.  More softly, he added, "No, didn't vamp out, was just human looking me.  Makes it worse, somehow." 

Spike thought for a moment, then looked at the young girl next to him.

"Don't go 'round thinking that just because a fellow doesn't look scary, that he's safe.  Some always wear a mask over their true faces."

Dawn nodded her understanding, and Spike let out a breath.  He was glad that particular obstacle to their friendship, although not exactly dealt with, had at least not managed to halt their conversation in its tracks.  Even though Dawn was wearing flannel pajamas with purple cows jumping over yellow moons on them, she was shivering a bit, he noted.  Without having to maneuver too much, he managed to take the bedcovers and pull them around her thin shoulders.  She grasped the ends gratefully. 

"So," Spike asked, "how'd you know I'd been knocked around?"

"I was pretending to be asleep and heard Buffy talking with Giles. He'd been in on it and she was pretty mad.  Not yelling mad, but cold mad.  You know how she gets sometimes."

Cold mad was pretty bad, he acknowledged, not that he saw much of it.  Had always been the fighting mad that came out when he was around. 

"Don't rightly blame the Watcher for doing what he thought best.  Don't blame that Wood fellow, neither.  Can understand wanting to avenge your mum.  Won't stop me from killing him if he tries it again, though."

"Well, if he tries again, he's going have to go through me to do it."

Spike arched an eyebrow at Dawn's intensity and she became a bit flustered.

"Thought you didn't like me now," Spike mused.

"I may not like you, but you're mine."  At Spike's look, she continued, speaking a bit more rushed.  "It's like with Buffy.  I can complain and call her names, but no one else better do that, 'cause she's my sister." 

Dawn glanced over at Spike's face and saw that he was smiling.  Really smiling, not smirking, not mocking, just…happy.  It kind of made her happy, too.  Slightly embarrassed, she suddenly became aware of her surroundings and the lateness of the hour.  Shrugging off the covers and hopping to a stand, she headed for the stairs.  When she reached the step, she turned to him.

"You know, Spike if you ever want to talk to someone…" She paused for a long moment, then gave him her best bratty kid sister grin and continued. "…I'm sure Xander probably wouldn't mind listening to you.  Especially now that you're in his pants." 

Taking off at a run, she was near the door when she heard Spike's pillow thump against the wall behind her.  Since he'd missed when he'd thrown it at her, he couldn't be too peeved, she thought. 

Still smiling, Spike heard the door to the kitchen close behind Dawn as she left.  Things weren't like before between the two of them, but after this little talk, he felt as if a door had finally opened a crack.

The End