Copyright- Hi Joss waves I know, I told them that the characters all belong to you and Mutant Enemy. Joss, why are there cops behind you? With their billy clubs out.... You get the picture ;)

Author's Head note- This idea came to me while talking to my friend Stacey. She asked me to write her a fic where Tara, Dawn, and Willow go to the fair. Well of course, that vague description sent my brain into overdrive, and it seemed like a great idea for this chapter. So, finally, a story with action!

To you, Staceler!

When The Dust Settled : Chapter 5 : Burnt Thumbs and Kooky Corpses

She couldn't help but smile as she picked up the leather duster off of the kitchen counter. Two weeks since Spike started coming around again, and already Tara could see a drastic change in Dawn's demeanor. She smiled now, and once Tara swore she even heard her laugh. But Giles had taken a red-eye to England last night, and as expected, Dawn had reacted badly. As they were standing with Giles moments before his flight, she had latch onto him, crying silently into the lapel of his jacket. Since her mom and Buffy died, he had been 'the grown-up'. And as much as Dawn loved to not obey him, everyone knew that she needed 'the grown-up'. But they all knew where he needed to be.

Walking back into the living room, she paused and laughed inwardly at the sleeping undead figure sprawled across the couch, a blanket pulled haphazardly over its head. Tara had heard Spike come in through Dawn's window late last night, but didn't wake Willow. Because Tara, for one, knew that he was good for Dawn.

When Dawn woke up, she couldn't help but wonder how she got into her bed, considering the fact that when she fell asleep last night, she was on the floor with her head resting on the mattress. She just assumed that Spike put her in the bed and took her place on the floor. But when she rolled over to check the floor was empty. and bright sunlight was pouring into her room through her window.

'Sunlight and no Spike...' the teen thought, relatively freaking, as she pushed off her covers and dashed out of her and down the stairs, screaming his name the entire way. When she got to the kitchen, she saw Tara sitting at the counter nursing a burnt finger from the frying pan, but didn't notice Spike in front of the stove flipping pancakes until mid-sentence.

"Tara! I need your help. Did you see Spike, cause I think he fell asleep on my floor and now he's all crispy fried and... wow, he's standing right there." Dawn gave him an embarrassed wave as he chuckled., before going over and giving Tara her usual morning hug. As they parted, the blonde gave her a wide smile before talking.

"Morning, Dawnie. You're okay about last night, right? Be-because if you need to talk, I'm here. And Mr. Giles said that he would call as soon as he got to Th-the Council." She narrowed her eyes slightly, waiting for a response.

"I'm keen, peachy even. Plus, I know that the jolly good ol' chaps at the Weirdo's Council need him."

"Good." Tara answered with a smile. "So, Will and I were wo-wondering if you want to go to the fair tonight. Unless you think it's too kiddie? It's traveling from L.A. and they say the Hall Of Mirrors is to die for." She paused for a minute, before remembering what day it was."And um, Spike can come to, since it's Saturday, which is your day."

Tara and Dawn both turned in unison to Spike, who had set the plate of pancakes on the counter and was now watching them with an indescribable look on his face. He gave Dawn a small grin.

"S'okay , luv. You ducks, you have fun. I'll just go to my crypt and watch the telly." Spike laughed, hoping Dawn didn't hear the lack of enthusiasm in his voice. But when in reply she sighed dramatically, he knew he had it coming. She was gonna lay on a thick dose of Summers Pity Party.

"It's cool, Spike. I mean, us three young, vulnerable girls will go to the fair. Alone. At night. In the center of Sunnydale. And, hey, I hear they're setting it up a couple blocks from the old high school remains, cause what better place for a fair than smack dab on the Hellmouth." She smiled innocently at the end of her mini-speech, knowing that she had him hook, line and sinker. He jumped up onto the counter and surveyed the smallest girl, who was grinning at him like a predator before trapping her prey.

"Bugger then, I'll go, but I won't like it. And you birds owe me a Corona and one of those blossoming onion things." He shook a finger at them in mock discipline before pointing to the pancakes. "Now, Platelet, eat."

A sunset later the three young, vulnerable girls, escorted by one peroxide blond vampire, made their way into the fair, just in time to hear an ear piercing scream carry through the crowd. All four took off running in the general direction of the sound, Spike leading the way. When they got to the source of the commotion, they pushed through a grouping to find themselves practically on top of a motionless body in front of a building covered in mirrors, with a three dimensional sign that read 'Hall Of Mirrors'. Willow quickly hugged Dawn to her, covering the teens eyes, as Spike checked the body for a pulse. Finding that the body was still at normal temperature but there was no heart beat, he stood up and attempted to ignore the still near fresh blood dripping from a minor wound on the victims hand.

"Well, no fang marks or fatal wounds. I'll tally that this bugger is fresh. You witches get these people away from here, and I'll go see if I can find whomever gave this bloke the rough and tumble, and give it back."

While Tara and Willow worked at thinning the crowd around the corpse and Spike left in search of nearby demons, Dawn focused on looking everywhere but at the body. He eyes fell on the mirror plated house. Looking at her reflection in the mirror, she quickly saw something missing. The body.

Looking down for an instant, she saw that it was still stationary on the ground, but, looking up again, reflection less. Eyes still on the mirrored wall, she slowly poked the spot where the body should be. While she saw her finger hit the ground and nothing else, she felt the sickening feeling of the dead man's hair, and quickly pulled back her hand.

"To die for, eh Tara?" Dawn mumbled, subduing a shudder before calling out to her guardians.

"Hey! Hey, guys! This corpse does the kookiest thing..."

A/N- Two chaps in two days. Am I on the path to un updater redemption? Please R&R! This is only half of what I intended for this chappie, but I decided to make it into two !! And its kinda my first attempt at a semi cliffhanger