A/N : Here's a radical new idea I came up with, at least I hope it's new, I never saw it done before! Don't worry, it's still Spuffy, I don't think I have the ability to write any other couple as a general rule! Here's hoping this is as popular as some of my other stories are / have been...

Title: In Lethe's Grasp

Rating: PG-13

Summary: 5 years post The Gift. Buffy died saving her sister and the world but was never resurrected. The Scoobies have moved on with their lives, including Dawn who is planning her wedding. Spike goes to LA to pick up the Bit's dress and runs into someone he never expected to see...

Disclaimer : All recognisable characters belong to Joss Whedon, ME, and other important people that aren't me.

Chapter 1

"Yes, Bit, for the seventeenth time, I've got the bloody thing" Spike sighed as he held the cellphone to his ear with one hand and steered the car with the other. What she didn't know was the engine wasn't even running. Spike's precious DeSoto had died on him on his way out of LA and he was currently being towed to the nearest garage to get it fixed for an extortionate amount of cash by the bloke in front, driving the tow-truck. He glanced over to the ample space of the back seat where Dawnie's precious dress lie.

It was hard to believe his Nibblet was getting married, that so much time had passed. She was twenty one now, and so much in love with Jason Green, Spike knew he could never stand in the way of their marriage. He smiled as he remembered the day the boy had actually come and asked his permission for the Bit's hand. It didn't feel as strange as it might since he'd been the nearest thing Dawn had to a parent these past years. All the Scoobies had helped out at first but they'd grown up and moved on as young people were prone to do. Willow and Tara had gone to England to visit Giles and fallen in love with the country to the point where they decided to live there. Xander and Anya had their wedding, she fell pregnant, he got a better job to earn more cash and that meant moving away from good old SunnyD. Dawn was old enough to live alone by then and mostly take care of herself, but Spike was always there for her, always Dad, big brother, best friend, and anything else she needed him to be, as well as everyone's protector of the Hellmouth.

"Spike?" the younger Summers said in his ear, pulling him from deep thought, "Are you okay?" she checked.

"Sure thing, Bit, never better" he lied and she knew it. Her silence was more effective than it might've been since Spike could quite clearly picture the look on her face right now, so much like her sister when she was calling him a liar with her eyes alone.

"Just thinkin' is all" he admitted, as the tow-truck stopped at another red light. They seemed to be hitting every single one, such was his luck. He really needed to get the car safely to the garage and hide himself away somewhere before the sun rose.

"Thinking about what?" Dawn asked curiously, wondering if she already knew, if the same person was in the vampire's mind as had been on hers.

"More of a who than a what" he told her, "Y'know she would be so proud of you" he said, as he thought of the Slayer he'd loved so much and still did even now, "What with you gettin' into college and studyin' medicine and all, and now marrying your fella..."

"I still miss her" Dawn told him as his voice faded away, "Everyday I think about her and... and I wish she was here"

"Me too, Little Bit" Spike answered her softly, even now the Big Bad got choked up if he let his mind linger on Buffy's death too long. He knew she was probably in a better place, complete with wings and a harp or whatever happened to fighters for truth and light. Maybe what hurt the most was knowing out of all her family and friends, Spike would be the one least likely to see the Slayer again when the time for leaving this plane came. Heaven didn't make room for the likes of him, demons and such, he was destined for the fires of hell and he knew it. Still, until the time came for him to leave this world forever, he would stay where he belonged, where he promised to be, looking after Dawn for her sake as well as the Slayer's, and his own if he was honest.

"Look, Bit, I'm gonna have to go" he told her, "Gotta find a place to hide myself away for the day, but I'll head home soon as night falls again, okay?"

"Sure" Dawn yawned into her reply, "I ought to get back to bed anyway, catch a couple of hours sleep before I have to get to work"

"Talk to you soon, luv" Spike smiled before they both said goodbye and hung up.

Since it was nearing five in the morning by the time the car got towed away safely, Spike had no option but to find the nearest route to the sewers and stay there for the day. He locked the Bit's dress in the back of the car and practically told the mechanic not to mess with it on pain of death.

Spike had hoped that the next night when he went back to the garage they'd tell him his precious DeSoto was running just fine again, but his luck was clearly going through a bad patch right now and he was told it'd take another day yet to get the right parts and fit them. It'd cost a pretty penny too, and Spike was only glad he had a regular income these days. Stealing what he needed was fine when he was evil, but these days playing father-figure or at the very least older brother to Dawnie and practically living at the house with her he knew he needed to earn a respectable living and pay his way properly, set a good example and all that rot.

Perhaps respectable was the wrong word he realised when he thought about the two jobs he held down, playing doorman and sometimes barman at two different demon bars on either side of Sunnydale. Still it paid well, required him to work only during the hours of darkness, plus he could get his rocks off beating up Sunnydale's most evil, and the management had no problem with his 'drinking' on the job.

Though he could pay for the necessary repairs to his car, Spike realised he was still stuck in LA for another night and day and he called Dawn to tell her about the problem. She was anxious to have him home, and not only because she wanted her wedding dress already! Poor girl had a tendency to panic whenever Spike was away from her for more than a day or so. She'd lost so many people she loved, she was just petrified of another disappearing from her life.

Promising he'd be home the next night, Spike hung up from his call with Dawn and trudged down the road towards a hotel where he could stay for the night. That would require spending even more of his hard earned, but he couldn't stand another night in the sewers. He needed a shower and a decent amount of kip if he was going to get through the drive home the next night. Vampires were more resilient than humans, requiring less sleep than the average person would, but this would make a third night without rest and Spike knew that was pushing it a little, especially with the concentration of driving thrown on top.

It was close to midnight when he went into the hotel. Sweet talking the girl behind the reception desk didn't present a problem for Spike and he had a flashy room with en suite and a discount inside half an hour. He smirked to himself as he came out of the elevator onto the fourth floor, spinning his key card on his finger. Unlife could be a lot worse really, he thought to himself as he located the door to his room and pushed the card into the slot. An angry red light told him he'd done something wrong and could not enter.

"Bloody hell!" he complained as he took the card out and put it back in the other way up. Still a buzz and a light told him entry would not be permitted.

By the time he'd re-inserted the card for the sixth time he was getting angry in a severe way and was actually having trouble forcing his game face down.

"Whatever happened to real soddin' keys and keyholes!" he cursed at the door since no-one was there to hear him, "It was different in my day..." he muttered as he pulled the card out of the slot again and studied it.

"There has to be a reason why it's not working" he said to himself as he looked carefully along the edges. Nothing looked wrong, but he couldn't be sure. He wiped the card on the leg of his jeans and with a nasty look that of course had no effect at all on the locking mechanism he forced the card in for a seventh time.

"Damn and bugger!" he swore, kicking the wall when it still didn't work.

"You want some help with that?" asked a voice behind him, clearly a woman who found his situation a little amusing.

Spike might've got even angrier from her tone but the over-riding emotion that coursed through him was shock. This woman, whom he had yet to see, sounded so much like Buffy it hurt and yet he couldn't turn and look at her, it might break the painfully beautiful illusion.

A moment later, after telling himself not to be a stupid delusional ponce, Spike glanced behind himself at the young woman, who was by now looking at him oddly.

"Are you okay?" she checked, a little worried by the panicked expression on the strangers already pale face.

Spike gasped, despite his lack of breath, as he looked at her.


To Be Continued...

A/N2 : I'd really love to know what you all think so far, so please review!