Death Wish

*Warning: Spoilers for "The Gift"*

Title: Death Wish

Author: Valerie

Rating: R for nudity and language

Spoilers: for all of Season 5, including "The Gift". Speculations after that; I have no knowledge of Season 6.

"Evil creatures stand *back*!"

The two vampires attacking Xander were suddenly thrown off of him, as if moved by an invisible hand. They crashed into a masoleum and fell to the ground. Giles, who had been waiting behind the structure, turned one to dust as it fell. He lunged at the other, stake in hand, but it dodged the fatal blow and threw a punch at him. Giles took the hit without faltering, and in a moment, the vampire was dust.

Willow, Tara, and Anya approached Giles as he was brushing the dust off his pants.

"Thank you, Willow." Giles said.

"No problem."

"Ouch," came from the ground nearby. "Body parts…hurting…"

"Oh my poor baby," Anya cried out, as she rushed to Xander's side.

"Xander?" Giles asked.

"I'll be okay." Xander pushed himself into a sitting position. "Just suffering a minor bruise of the pride. And possibly a concussion."

"You killed that first vampire real good, honey" Anya consoled him.

"Certainly; you couldn't be expected to take on all three," Giles said. "Good job, all around."

"Think there's any more?" Tara asked, looking around.

"Doubtful," Giles responded. "Besides, it's nearly sunrise. We should all go home and get some rest."

"Yeah," Xander agreed, looking up at the pink flecks of sky on the horizon. "No vamps would be stupid enough to fight this close to daytime."

*

Spike growled as he charged the demon.

It was a Enieffac demon, an ancient race of warriors who once ruled half the demon species on Earth. But in the past million years or so, the Enieffac had become just another monster to hide in the woods and eat the occassional hikers' body parts. Still, they were immortal creatures, and most could remember a time when they hunted the things that hid in the bushes. They yearned for a return to power. After news of the Slayer's death reached the underworld, they had come out in force, determined to bring about the destruction of the human race. Two weeks ago, there had been nearly a hundred of them poised to prey on Sunnydale's population. Their green blood boiled with excitement as they began their war on humanity.

But not a single human being had died by their six-fingered hands.

And now there was just this one left.

Spike grabbed the demon by its slimy head, pressed his thumbs into its eyes, and in one quick move of his arms, separated the creature's head from its body.

And now there were none.

Spike wiped the green, sticky blood off his hands and onto his leather coat. There was a slight burning sensation on the back of his neck, and at first he thought it was an instinctual reaction to another demon. He spun around, ready for the kill, but found only the murderous sun dancing upon the horizon.

"Bugger," Spike muttered. He had abandoned his crypt the night of the battle with Glory, and spent the days sleeping wherever he could find shelter from the light of day. There was a masoleum only a few yards away, and he headed towards it. The decomposing bodies provided the only bedding his needed. He would sleep where he felt he belonged: among the dead.

*

Dawn woke up a half hour before her alarm clock went off, as she had been doing every day this summer. She threw the sheet off her body and sat up. The air was hot and oppressive. It was July, but Dawn was supposed to go to school. She had missed the end of the semester when she had been nearly killed. The foster parents she'd been placed with enrolled her in summer school, but so far Dawn hadn't set foot there.

Dawn showered and dressed quickly, grabbed her backpack, as was out the back door just as she heard her foster mother call out, "Dawn? Are you going to school?"

Dawn rolled her eyes. The stupid woman knew she wasn't going to school. But both she and the annoyingly cheerful foster father just wouldn't give up. They continued to play pretend-family, though Dawn was out most of the time and had refused to speak more than two words at a time to them.

Dawn went to one of the graveyard. She spent all her days there. At night they were crawling with Buffy's old friends, and Dawn didn't want to see them. But during the day the town's graveyards were oddly empty, as if all of Sunnydale's residents had forgotten about their departed loved ones, as if they had just left the dead to rot.

Dawn walked through the graves, looking at the names, though she recognized none. This wasn't the graveyard where her sister was buried; she never went there.

Dawn approached a masoleum and tried the door. It was locked. She picked up a nearby rock, broke one of the small glass windows on the door, and walked in. These tombs were built into the walls. The only free-standing object was a small stone statue of a saint. Dawn picked it up, held it high over her head, and then threw it to the ground with all her strength. The sound of it shattering rang through the empty room.

It was oddly comforting.

After destroying the statue, Dawn found nothing else she wanted to break or steal, so she moved on.

The next masoleum she came to was open, but she didn't hesitate when she stepped in. An open masoleum usually meant a vampire nest, but it was daytime, so they might not be able to kill her. And besides, she didn't care much if they did.

The room was dark. As Dawn opened the door further, sunlight spilled in over the tombs, one of which was open.

"Bloody hell!"

Dawn took a step back when she heard the shout. A naked and smoking form leapt out of the tomb and into the shadows, where it stood, muscles straining, ready to fight.

"Spike?"

The form faltered. "Dawn?"

For a moment, they both stood motionless, staring at each other.

"Spike, why are you naked?" Dawn asked.

Spike looked down at his body, as if suddenly realizing it was there. "Oh," he said. "Sorry, little bit. Didn't mean to scar your young eyes."

"I think I've already been scarred," Dawn said softly. "Doesn't bother me."

"Close that door, would you?" Spike asked her. He gestured to the ground next to the tomb, where his clothes lay in a ray of sunlight.

"I'll just go," Dawn said. She stepped out the door, closing it behind her.

"No! Wait!" Spike called out. He grabbed his pants, slipped them on, threw his jacket over his head, and rushed into the sunlight.

But Dawn was gone.

*

Night fell, and the Scooby gang was out in force. They had killed two vamps and three demons, and it wasn't even midnight yet.

As they swept the next graveyard, Willow fell into step with Giles.

"Any news about Dawn?" she asked.

Giles shook his head sadly. "I visited the foster parents again today. She'd been gone all day, and they said she usually doesn't return until late at night, if she returns at all."

Willow sighed. "She isolating herself. This isn't good."

"Well, it's understandable," Giles said. "Being with us must remind her of…"

They both fell silent, unable to say her name. When a grave erupted in front of them, it was a welcome distraction.

*

Spike needed something to kill.

He had rid the town of the Enieffac demons, and they had been his focus. The run-of-the-mill vamps were being taken care of by the Scoobies. He wished he could tell them all to just give up, to leave the monsters of the night for him. After all, for them it was just the tattered remains of Buffy's mission. They still had their lives and their families. All he had was the kill.

But he couldn't talk to them, couldn't be near them. He had seen them in the graveyards at least once a week, and managed to slip away from them undetected.

He came across one vampire, and made short work of it. It was too easy. The Enieffac demons had put up a fight, and he liked that. One had left a deep gash across his back that was still healing, even a week after the fight. It had nearly killed him, and he had enjoyed it.

What he wanted was a Big Bad, some unstoppable evil, or an army of demons, hundreds of them. A fight like that would keep him occupied, and if he was lucky, it might even kill him.

He briefly wondered if Dracula would return his phone calls.

The thought was pushed out of his mind by the sound of a growl from behind a line of trees just a few feet away. Then he heard a demonic voice speaking in Fyarl. Spike's face brightened. A Fyarl demon might not be fatal, but it would be fun. Then he realized what the demon was saying.

"Kill you, little girl. Foolish girl. Won't even run. Kill."

And then a voice he recognized replied, "Come on you stupid demon! Are you just gonna stand there and growl at me in your stupid demon language? Come and get me!"

It was Dawn.

Spike broke through the trees and lunged at the Fyarl demon. He got in a few good blows before the powerful monster knocked him to the ground. It stood over him, poised to either tear his limbs off or cover him in mucus. It would be a disgusting way to go, but Spike was ready.

"Bloody do it," Spike said. The Fyarl demon smiled. It understood English. "Kill me," Spike said.

"Spike! No!"

Dawn came up behind the demon and kicked it on the leg weakly. It turned to face her.

"Leave him alone!" she said. "Kill *me*."

"What?" Spike leapt to his feet, grabbed the demon by the shoulder, and spun it around. "Don't touch the girl. Kill *me*."

"No!" Dawn squealed. She pounded the Fyral demon on its arm. "Don't listen to him. Kill *me*."

"Sod off, Dawn!" Spike said. He grabbed the demon by both shoulders and shook it violently. "Come on, you bugger! Kill me!"

The demon broke free from Spike. He stood between them, looking back and forth at the vampire and the young girl. "Are you both fucking crazy?"

For a moment the three of them stood there, unsure of what to do next. Then the Fyral demon swiped at Spike with one of his claws, cutting him across the chest. Spike fell to the ground. The Fyral casually walked away as Dawn shrieked and fell to the ground next to Spike.

Spike's eyes were closed. His shirt was torn open and the blood flowed from his wound like a river. Dawn took off her jacket and pressed it against him, trying to stop the blood that now seemed like it was everywhere. "Spike?" she said. When he didn't respond, tears began to form in her eyes. "Spike, please don't die. Please don't die."

Spike's eyes opened. "Calm down, half pint. I'm fine."

Dawn stopped crying and looked at him quizically.

"Sure, it hurts like a bitch, but I'll live." Spike pushed himself into a sitting position. He took off his coat and his shirt and examined the wound. It was deep, and still bleeding. He hugged the jacket to his chest.

"Why were you gonna let that thing kill you?" Dawn asked.

"I should be asking you the same bloody question," Spike said.

"I asked first."

Spike glowered at her. "Don't you have friends somewhere? You know better than to be out alone."

Dawn looked downward. "No, I don't have any friends."

"What about-"

"I'm not hanging out with them anymore," Dawn said. "They'll just feel sorry for me, and treat me like a baby, and…"

"And remind you of Buffy?"

Dawn stood up. "I'm going to find the demon."

"The hell you are!"

Spike was weak, but the bleeding has slowed. He dropped Dawn's blood-soaked jacket to the ground and easily caught up with her.

"You're not going anywhere," he said, grabbing her firmly by the arm.

"I can do whatever I want to!"

"You'll do what I damn well tell you to do," Spike said angrily. "Here's how it works. I bring you to Giles' house, you meet up with the rest of those blokes, do whatever it is you humans do to mourn, and you all live happily ever after, got it?"

"Let go of me!" Dawn struggled against Spike's grip, but she couldn't break it. "And what about you, Spike? What do you do?"

Spike's gaze was steely and his voice was even. "I die."

"Great plan, genius."

Spike shook her roughly. "Shut up!"

Dawn's face paled and she gulped back a sob. He had hurt her.

Spike sighed and let go of her. "Come on. I'll take you there."

Dawn folded her arms across her chest. "I'm not going."

Spike put his hands to his head and growled in frustration. "Bloody hell, girl! You're more annoying than your sister!"

Spike instantly regretted his words. Dawn's resolve broke and she slumped the ground, covering her face with her hands. Spike just stood there as she cried. After a moment she looked up.

"Buffy died to save me," Dawn said. "How can I keep living knowing that?"

Spike looked down at her. "You got it wrong, Dawnie. I'm the one who should have died." He sat on the ground beside her. "I was ready to. Hell, I even told her I would. But I failed. And so she died. Buffy died, and it should have been me."

Dawn put her arm around Spike's bare shoulders. His skin was cold, but her forehead was warm from crying, and the summer air was stifling. Dawn lay her head against Spike's naked chest, barely noticing the blood that smeared over her face and clung to her hair.

"I don't know if a new slayer's going to be called," Dawn said. "And Faith's in jail. We're still on the Hellmouth and someone needs to fight. You're the only one strong enough to do it."

"I don't care about that," Spike said, his voice a low growl. "I was only fighting to try and get myself killed. Bloody people in this town can die for all I care."

"Even me?"

Spike could feel her breath over his chest, running over him to the beat of her heart, warm and moist on his dead skin.

"I lost my mom," Dawn continued. "And I lost my sister." She looked up at Spike. Her wide eyes brimmed with tears. "You're the only family I have left."

Spike couldn't help it. It was those eyes that always got him. He had seen them for the first time on the night he attacked the high school over three years ago. She was eleven years old then, a young girl with a tiny body and those huge eyes. She had come to parent-teacher night with Joyce, but was separated from her during the fight, and she hid in a classroom as Spike and the other vampires searched the school. Her quick heartbeat was easily audible through the walls. Spike knew that the Slayer had a sister, and when he had walked into the room and seen her, he knew who she was. Dawn had stared up at him, holding her breath, her blood rushing through her body, and her eyes illuminated by the light from the hallway. Spike had told himself that killing her would only piss off the Slayer, and an angry person fought harder than normal. But really it had been her eyes. Huge, bright, innocent but seemingly ancient, staring at him like they could cut through him with a glance. If he has nothing else to live for, he still had that.

"I'll make you a deal, little bit," he said. "I promise not to die, and you promise not to die."

Dawn smiled. "Deal."

Spike kissed Dawn's forehead. She tasted like his blood.