Disclaimer: I own nothing but this computer that allows me to borrow these characters and create these fantasies for your enjoyment.

Author's note: This story takes place ten years into the future. It is a Spike/Dawn/Buffy centered fic.

~ Belonging ~

~ Chapter 1 ~

Spike made his way through the crowd of people and sat down at the bar. The place didn't look the same as when he last saw it. It was still called the Bronze, but the faces were all different and the décor was decidedly darker than it had been the last time.

He scanned the crowd wondering if she still frequented this place the way she and her friends had done for all those years. He didn't recognize anyone. He took a long swallow of his beer and ran his fingers through his hair.

It had been ten years since he had left. Ten years since he had sworn that he would never come back to this godforsaken place. And here he was. He didn't really know what he had hoped to accomplish by coming here, but something drew him back. Maybe he just needed closure, he wasn't sure.

He heard laughter and turned to see where it was coming from. He spied a beautiful woman talking to some friends. She had long dark hair and she casually brushed it out of her face. He sat there transfixed by her beauty and couldn't shake the feeling that something seemed familiar about her.

She turned and looked in his direction, they made eye contact. Her smile faded and a look of surprise came over her face. All at once he suddenly realized who this gorgeous creature was. Dawn, the Slayer's little sister. Only she wasn't so little anymore. In fact she was older now than Buffy had been the last time he had seen her. Dawn clearly seemed to recognize him.

He watched as she muttered something to her friends and slowly made her way over to where he sat waiting for her arrival. He smiled as she stood before him.

"Spike? Oh my god…" She said to him in disbelief. "What are you doing here?"

"Well, hello Nibblet." He said with slight sarcasm.

She just stared at him, unsure of what to say or do. She had had the biggest crush on him when she was a kid. Buffy had been really upset about it, but she didn't care. Spike had been her friend when no one else was. Seeing him again was almost too much to bear. All at once she lunged forward and enveloped him in a hug.

Spike was taken aback at this display of affection at first, but he quickly returned her embrace. When she pulled away he noticed the smile on her face.

"I can't believe you came back." She said excitedly. "You know Buffy said you were probably dead by now."

"Good ol' Buffy. Wishful thinking, on her part." He said sarcastically. "I'm still around."

"Wow. I'm just in shock. Why are you back?" She asked him.

"Well, you know, I'm just passing through." He said casually. "So how is Buffy?"

Dawn's smile faded slightly. "Your not still in love with her, are you?"

She had always been jealous of Buffy. She always seemed to get everything that Dawn had wanted. When Buffy had Spike's affection, Dawn seethed with envy. Buffy had been horrified and Dawn tried to play along, but she secretly wished that she had been in Buffy's shoes. But she was just a kid then. Spike would never have noticed her in that way. She wasn't a kid anymore though.

"No, I'm way past that now, Luv." He lied to her. He still thought about Buffy all the time. She was the one thing in his life that he had wanted more than anything, and could not possess.

She still haunted him, day and night. It wasn't the same anymore, seeing as how he hadn't actually seen her in years, but her face still consumed his every daydream and his every nightmare.

"Good, because I'd hate to be the one to tell you that she's getting married." Dawn told him.

Spike's expression turned sour at this unexpected news. He didn't know why this would surprise him. Of course Buffy would go on with her life. She probably never even gave him a second thought. Hell, she probably never even realized that he had gone. He silently felt himself wishing that Buffy had died instead of learning that she was marrying some fool who probably didn't deserve her. Not that he deserved her, he had never been good enough.

"Really?" Spike said to her. " Well, good for her."

Dawn saw the way his expression changed and knew that his feelings for her sister were as strong as ever.

"Listen, he's real nice, you'd probably like him." She said trying to make him feel better knowing that she sounded like an idiot. Spike didn't like very many people and he certainly wouldn't like anyone who was marrying Buffy.

"Oh, I'm sure I'd love him." He said bitterly, downing the rest of his drink.

Dawn looked nervously over at her group of girlfriends and noticed that they were motioning for her to bring Spike over. She turned back to Spike and smiled again. She took his hand.

"Come on. I want you to meet my friends."

"Aw, Luv, I don't think so." He said apprehensively.

"Come on! They don't bite." She said, then she looked at him suddenly worried. "You still don't bite, do you?"

Spike laughed and shook his head. " No, I still don't bite. Still harmless as little lamb."

The truth was, he had no idea if that chip still worked or not. It had been many years since he had even attempted to hurt any humans. Eventually he just gave up trying. He assumed it was still nestled in his brain, ready to its nasty work, but he didn't test it.

"Everyone, this is Spike. He's an old friend." Dawn said to her group.

All the girls smiled at him and one of them whispered something in Dawn's ear and they both laughed.

"He is, isn't he?" Dawn said softly, smiling at her friend.

"He's what?" Spike asked, wondering what sort of things these girls were saying about him.

"Nothing." Dawn muttered, embarrassed.

Spike only smirked and began to size up Dawn and her friends.

One of the girls smiled at him and broke the awkward silence.

"So, Spike? That's kind of a strange name. Did your parents not like you or something?" She laughed, trying to be flirty.

Spike glared at her. "Spike is a nickname." He answered calmly.

The girl was a little taken aback at his bluntness, but smiled politely. She knew when a guy was not being drawn in by her charms.

Dawn noticed the uncomfortable air that had built up around Spike and her friends. She decided to get Spike out of there and have him all to herself.

She grabbed his arm. "Spike and I are gonna split now." She told everyone.

"We are?" Spike asked confused.

"Yes, say goodbye to the gang." She said with a mischievous smile.

Spike managed a half hearted wave to her girlfriends and allowed himself to be dragged out of the dingy club by Dawn.

They walked silently through the parking lot. She was lost in thought. She had always had a thing for him, but he had left before anything could happen. She was just too young then, but things had changed a lot since he had been gone.

Her rivalry with Buffy only became more apparent as the years passed. She knew that they weren't really sisters, but for all intents and purposes, they were just like any other sisters that had been together since birth. They loved each other, despite their constant battles.

Before Spike left Sunnydale, Buffy and her friends had defeated Glory, and Dawn had become 100% human. She wasn't some ball of energy, or a key to anything. She was just Dawn. A dorky fourteen-year old girl, with no mother and a vampire slayer for a sister.

She had a hard time dealing with everything, and missed talking with someone like Spike. Buffy was way too overprotective and never let her do anything. Spike had always talked to her like she was an adult, a person, and not a baby. She had cried the night she had gone to his crypt and found it empty, all of his things gone. He hadn't even said goodbye.

Dawn knew that it was Buffy who had driven him away. He had loved her and made a complete fool of himself trying to win her heart. Buffy coldly rejected him. Dawn was still bitter that her sister was the cause of Spike's departure all those years ago.

She knew that she couldn't have told Buffy that she had still been hanging around him. She had promised to stay away and played the part of the sympathetic sister when Buffy was freaked out by Spike's affection. But she never understood how Buffy could hate Spike. Dawn never cared about what he had done, only the way he was when he was with her.

Seeing him now made all the affection she had had for him resurface. She wasn't going to let him leave this time. And she certainly wouldn't let Buffy drive him away again. She didn't care what Buffy or anyone else thought. She turned and watched as he lit his cigarette and inhaled deeply.

"Can I have one?" She asked him.

He turned sharply to face her, surprise registering on his face.

"You smoke, Luv?" He asked her.

"Yeah, so?" She said defiantly.

"Nothing. It's just surprising, I guess." He said shaking his head and reaching into his pocket to retrieve another cigarette. He handed it to her.

"You know, I'm not a kid anymore. I can do grown-up things now, Spike. I'm twenty-four, for god's sake." She said miffed that he apparently still saw her as a child.

"I realize that, Luv. It's just…Oh, bloody hell, forget it." He said with irritation. Then he looked at her again. "You're nothing like your sister, are you?"

She smiled coyly at him. "No. Why did you want me to be?"

"I didn't want you to be anything. I just assumed with Buffy practically havin' to raise you, that you'd be just like her. All prudish and stuck up and no fun." He said with a laugh.

She thought for a moment, then tossed her long, dark hair back over her shoulder. She smiled at him.

"So, you want to go back to my place?" She said full of innuendo.

Spike started to cough on the smoke from his cigarette.

"What?" He said completely caught off guard.

"Well, do you?" She said still trying to be seductive, but getting irritated.

"Listen, Nibblet…" He started.

"Don't call me that. I'm not a baby, Spike." She said throwing her cigarette onto the ground and stomping it out.

"Sorry, Dawn… Look, You don't really want me to go back to your place. Remember, I'm evil, a vampire, grr!" He said to her morphing into his demon features, then quickly readjusting back to his human guise.

She only laughed at him. "You know, that's not even remotely scary to me anymore, and neither are you. You never scared me, Spike." She told him seriously.

"Oh come on, I am scary." He said desperately. He still hadn't completely gotten over the fact that he was no longer feared by humans.

"No, you're actually not." She said casually, then she gave him a sideways glance. "Besides, it's not like I've never been with a vampire before."

He stopped dead in his tracks at that statement and swung around to meet her gaze.

"What?!" He said angrily.

"Why so surprised? You think that you're the only vampire that escaped from that Initiative with a chip in his head? I'm surprised you didn't meet the others while you were still here." She said nonchalantly.

He was still reeling from her admission and could hardly believe his ears. Other's like him?

"You mean that there were others? It wasn't just me?"

"No, there were at least ten others. Carlos was one of them." She said softly, remembering her first vampire boyfriend. Buffy had flipped out. Dawn remembered the details bitterly.

Spike only stood there speechless.