He had been looking for her for her ever since she had disappeared, two days after her sister's death.

The day after Spike had thought he had gotten through to her.

After a month of ruthless searching, he had allowed himself a break, and had gone into some dirty club on the outskirts of this crappy town.

About after five minutes, Spike had noticed the gathering of males on the dance floor. He knew that meant only one thing; an easy, young woman dancing like a striper, dressed in way-reveling clothing that most likely consisted of heavy make-up and skin-tight leather. Out of curiosity, he walked over to see the face of the soul who had degraded herself to this. From his position, he could see her back, her long, flowing brown hair, and extremely hot figure clad in tight leather pants and a blood-red tank top. The way she danced was like she had been doing it for a while, the movements, the way she made them look so easy, that he had only seen in a few in his life time. He had only known two woman that flexible.

Dawn and Buffy.

That realization came to him like a blow to the head.

Spike watched as the men moved forward, surrounding her, crowding her in.

Men, whose hands caressed and touched her, pulling her in so close, rubbing their bodies against her in an overt sexual manner.

Men, that had to be in the age range of eighteen to twenty-four!

The suggestive comments they whispered in her ears were clear to Spike.

These men were foul creatures. Didn't they realize that she was only sixteen?

Each comment, each movement, infuriated him, burned through him, and increased his determination to protect her, save her, where he had failed to protect Buffy.

He swiftly walked toward Dawn, pushing past the other males. He snaked his arms around her waist, and spun her as so she was facing her. Quite a few of the filthy beings began to protest, but all it took was a simple noise from the hollow of his throat to shut them up.

For the briefest amount of time there was no reaction from her. Two sets of blue eyes clashed, cold hands held onto warm flesh and nothing was said. Finally Dawn lowered her gaze and tried to step away, only to have his hold tightened on her. Dawn began to struggle, using all her strength to push away from her captor.

When he yielded and let go of her, Dawn turned her back to him, and resumed her swaying to the music, her eyes closed, offering herself to anyone willing to take her. It filled Spike with rage, that he had allowed this to happen. Grabbing her wrist, he pulled her off the dance floor and out into the brisk, cool air, being careful not to hurt her, as so his chip wasn't set off. He slammed her up against the wall, throwing caution to the wind, and learned one thing.

Apparently, he could hurt a mystical ball of energy made into a human.

"Now would you mind telling me what the hell you were doing in there?" Spike demanded.

"Dancing." Dawn gave a short, cold, humorless laugh, and cocked her head. "Why? What did it look like?"

"Everything short of you giving up your virginity to the dirtbags in there." He informed her. She laughed again, and this time he detected a hint of himself in her tone. "What is so funny?" He growled at the girl in front of her.

"'Everything short of you giving up your virginity to the dirtbags in there'" She repeated for him, in a mocking tone. "That's what you said. I gave my virginity to a guy the night I ran away. What is the big deal? It's just flesh. Now can I go?" she started to push past him, only to be slammed back against the wall, her head coming in contact with the solid brick wall.

"What the hell has happened to you, Bit? What the fuck is wrong with you?"

"What is 'wrong' with me? What isn't? I'm not real, and the only reason I exist as a human is dead. But I'm still alive, for some reason, I'm still breathing, and I can still bleed, apparently." She reached an arm behind her head, her finders brushing the tender flesh where her head had slammed against the wall, wincing at the pain. She withdrew the blood-covered digits, to show him what she meant. As spots began to dot her vision, she smiled at him. "Thanks. I had hoped a vamp would pick me up and do what I hadn't the nerve to do to myself. Wouldn't have figured it'd be you, though. Not that I'm complaining." Darkness overcame her, and the brunette passed out in Spike's arms. He gave a howl of grief and tried to figure out what to do next.