By Nefarious Imp

Disclaimer: Don't own any of it but the story line.. Blah, blah, blah. You know the drill. Also, a lot of the weapons are made up or off of stuff like Lord of the Rings. I mixed and matched the names for them from different items from movies and shows.

Spoiler/Pairing: D/S eventually, Season 5, Tough Love.

Summary: Rated R just to be safe. Swearing and a little blood,some sexual referances but nothing graphic. Dawn/Spike eventually. Dawn is worried about Glory finding her, so she leaves Sunnydale, but decides to find somebody to train her to defend herself. Her Keyness wasn't as gone as they thought it was. Spike and Dawn discover a destiny that nobody believed was even possible. Also, don't know exactly how old she is at this time, but I'm making her sixteen for this story.

Author's note: I know very little about Chinese martial arts or about energy flow and chi. Just what little I know from movies. Makin it up as I go. Hang in there. It's about the story not the details. Also, this is my very first fic. Normally I'd do Buffy, but she'll never accept Spike completely as he is whereas Dawn already does. And she's gotta grow up sometime. And he has forever to wait.

She had made up her mind that she was leaving.

Glory had taken Tara and had brain sucked her (or maybe it was more of a mind suck seeing as how she was still alive). Regardless, she had been injured and nearly destroyed all because of Dawn's existence.

But Spike...god.

He had been tortured and he still didn't tell. He never told Glory that it was Dawn that she wanted. For a supposedly evil creature, he hadn't acted the way he was supposed to. She wasn't going to let anyone else get hurt. So she was leaving.

She had hid in a cave all afternoon with Spike. She wished she could take him with her, but he wouldn't leave without telling Buffy. And Buffy wouldn't leave without all of the others. And all the others wouldn't leave or would make the escape too visible.

She had called the dock's office and found out there was a ship headed for China. She knew that it would take about a week to reach China and she wouldn't make it as a stowaway. She'd be discovered and then what?

So she worked out a deal with the dock's office attendant to get on board as a temporary crewmember. She'd work her way to China.

Problem was that she was a girl. But her chest still hadn't come in much yet.

Totally doable.

Her face was a little too feminine but it was only a week.

Buffy went to bed.

Dawn got to work.

She grabbed a pair of scissors and hacked off her hair really short. She tried to make it even but didn't want it to even or she'd definitely look too feminine. She grabbed a pair of very old blue jeans that were baggier than the others and had more of a maleness to them. Then, she grabbed the Sex Pistols t-shirt she had stolen from a box in Spike's crypt. And her steel-toed Doc Martins Spike had gotten her for her sixteenth birthday.

He had put the box on the roof outside her bedroom window that night and knocked then run away. She knew that he had probably stolen them but she didn't care.

When she looked in the mirror she looked like a boy, a pretty boy, but a boy none the less. She grabbed a spiral-bound notebook that was empty and wrote a note to Buffy.

Dear Buffy,

I know I'm leaving at a bad time but it's obvious at the way it's all going she'll eventually find the Key. So I'm leaving Sunnydale with it. I'll be back someday I'm sure. On my 19th birthday I'll be here. Don't worry about where I'm going. I've made arrangements and you won't find me.

Tell Spike I'm sorry I didn't take him with me. I wanted to but he'd have told you and you'd have told the Scoobies and then I couldn't get away undetected. I'll be all right. I've hardened myself. I know therer will be somethings that will go wrong, but as long as I'm alive. I'll be okay. I'm taking weapons with me. Stake, knife, Riley's taser, Holy water, and the Cross choker you got me. I'm sorry and I love you.

All of you.

Tell Spike that 'the first slayer he killed must have been very good at martial arts to have done so well in the fight. I hope I can fight JUST like her someday. Maybe better. It's sad she died during the Boxer Rebellion but at least it's over now.' And Buffy, make sure it's word for word.



She tore out the paper and put it on her bed. She grabbed her black gym bag she had packed earlier and put the notebook and pen in it. She put the Choker on. It was gothic enough that it didn't look girly. It was made entirely of one-inch tall black crosses that went entirely around her neck.

She stuck the other weapons in her bag except for the taser. She threw the bag over her shoulder and glanced back one last time at her room before climbing out the window. She ran to the docks. The ship left at 1 a.m. She was right on time.

"Hey," she said to the dock attendant, lowering her voice a couple octaves without sounding too deep. She didn't want to be obvious. "I'm Will Finlay; we spoke on the phone about a ship going to China."

"Sure," he said. "Follow me, I've made all the arrangements. Got the money?"

"Course." She said handing him the one hundred dollars she agreed upon for him getting her on the ship. It wasn't a passenger ship. " Sir, If a man wearing black with white hair comes tell him Will Finlay said that 'my sister Dawn went east while I went west'. We figured if we split up then the guy who hurt him would have a harder time following us. But only tell him that alone. If there's someone with him get him alone. And don't tell anybody else. If someone asks about my sister just say you don't know. But the guy with white hair is the only one I trust. Can you do that for me?" He nodded and took her to meet the ship's captain.

He was a mean looking man but she could tell by the look in his eye that it was mostly just for show. She knew he was really a good man but had to look tough to keep his men in line. She'd always been a good judge of character. Although no one else thought so. Take Spike for example.

"Captain Porter, this is the young man I was telling you about. Will Finlay."

"Captain Porter." She shook his hand firmly. The Captain nodded but looked at her carefully as if sensing something was off. He finally decided what he needed to cause he nodded again and said a gruff, "Follow me." He took her up the gangplank onto the ship.

A few men were on the deck and two of the three stared at her till the Captain glanced at them and they got back to work. The third guy glanced at her but went back to work.

The Captain took her to a small room with a desk that was nailed to the floor. He shut the door.

"Sit down." He indicated the chair opposite his desk as he sat behind it. She sat down and he stared at her for a second. "What's your real name, kid?" She looked like a deer in headlights for a second.

"It's Will, Sir." She stuttered.

"Don't think so, princess. Try again." Her eyes went wide. She hung her head.

"I can't tell you, Sir. I'm a girl yes, but I can't tell you my name. If she found..." she choked.

"Look, you look like a boy, but I've been around for nearly fifty years and it's my job to read people. Can you at least tell me what you are running from? I'll still take you but I can't just let you on my ship as an unknown. Tell me or you're off. It will stay between the two of us. I swear." She sighed and looked up at him.

"You swear?" He nodded. "My name is Dawn. Do you believe in things that go bump in the night?" He nodded again raising an eyebrow this time. "Well there's this thing after me. If she gets me then she could end the world. I really can't go into more depth cause it's a long story and you'd throw me overboard cause you'd think I was crazy."

"Wait here." He said and left the room. He came back a few minutes later. "I've ordered the crew to set sail. Now, it's a long trip and the longer you talk the less you have to work. I'll listen to you and reserve judgment till the end. But I won't throw you overboard. I've had too many vampires on my ship to believe you to be crazy. So, begin." She felt the ship move.

"Well, to begin with, I may look sixteen, but I'm really only a few months old. And my best friend is a vampire. I'm not even really human. I mean, I am but I'm not just a human. Okay this is harder than I thought. Have you ever heard of a slayer?" He shook his head no.

So she began the story. The sun was rising as she finished. About halfway through the Captain had got up and filled a shot glass with whiskey and downed it.

"Hmm. That's...I knew about vampires, and I'd seen a demon before but I didn't know it went that deep. I'll keep your secret, if for no other reason than nobody'd believe me." He chuckled. " All right. It's been a long night, lets get some sleep and we'll both get up this afternoon at two. If I see a guy that looks like Spike I'll give him a ride. And you'll always have a ride.

"I've always wanted to save the world. But don't let it out got an image to maintain. I think I'll have the crew check for stowaways. I'm suddenly really paranoid. Oh, and if anybody asks why you aren't having to work as hard as the rest it's because you're my nephew. They should leave you alone.

"Come on, I'll show you where you sleep. Normally I'd have you sleep with the others but seeing as how you're my nephew and are actually a girl. You can take the spare room next to mine I use for a living room. Don't use it much so it's more of a storage room for my personal belongings. But there's a hammock in there." He showed her the room and left her alone. She climbed into the hammock and was asleep in minutes.

Back in Sunnydale:

"Spike!" Buffy yelled slamming the crypt door open. He shot up off the stone sarcophagus.

"Bloody Hell, Slayer. Do I come screaming and slamming around your house when it's your bed time?" She pulled him up by his shoulders since he wasn't wearing a shirt and slammed him up against the wall. She thrust the note from Dawn in his face.

"What do you know?" She said fear and anger in her eyes. He took the paper and read it. Sighing he said

"I know she's either really smart or really stupid. I'm not sure what her little message to me means but I'll try to find out. I'll go see if I can pick up her trail at sunset. You go and check the bus station and see if she bought a ticket. Call Angel and tell him to keep his eyes out for her. But why don't you just do a location spell for her?" Buffy sighed heavily.

" I had Willow put an anti-location spell on her so she couldn't be found if Glory tried it. Didn't realize that I'd need it for her."

"Yeah, and when Glory found out she was the bloody Key and nabbed her you didn't think you'd need it to find her then?" He scowled at her.

"Crap, I was hoping it never came to that. Oh, and thanks for making me feel like even more of a retard." He smirked at her.

"Any time, luv." She glared at him. "If I pick up a trail tonight I'll leave you a note and just follow it. I'll find her and bring her back, but I might wait till Glory's gone before I bring her. I'll keep in touch with you though I doubt Glory or her scab crew are smart enough to tap your phone or check your mail." She nodded.

"Spike, if you find her, tell her I love her."

"If I find her I'll have her call you and you can tell you herself."

"I should just go find her.."

"No, Sunnydale needs you. I'll find lil' sis and I'll take care of her. Till the end of the world. I promise." She nodded. "Now, go on, I'll head to Willies and see if he's heard anything."

"Thanks, Spike." She said and left. He sighed. He had a suspicion where Dawn had gone, but needed to be sure. He went through the tunnels to the butchers dragging a cooler of ice. He filled it with blood and went back to the crypt to pack. He was sure that if he checked the docks he'd find her trail. He came up though a sewer cover and rushed into the Dock master's office, batting out the flames just in time for the man to turn. The man looked at him and nodded.

"He said you'd come. He said to tell you he's going west while his sister's going east."

"He?" Spike raised an eyebrow.

"Will Finlay. He said to only tell you that only if you were alone. He said Dawn went east if they split up then the guy couldn't find them as easy." Spike knew he'd found his trail and he knew it didn't lead east. That is, unless you were going to the Far East. "You got anything headed where he was going?"

"Not for at least two weeks till the ship he left on comes back. It was headed for Tianjin it's the only dock by Beijing."

"I can't wait that long, do you have anything that I could buy from you that can catch the ship? Preferably with a cabin on it?" The man contemplated for a minute. Well, it's not mine but for five hundred I won't report the boat in dock twenty-one missing for a week."

"Deal. But I need a driver. For an extra five can you get somebody? Cause then he can just bring it back and you won't have to report it."

"Deal. I'll do it. Wanted to take the day off anyway." He made a phone call and within a few minutes a guy walked in and they left. Spike made a dash for the boat and crashed through the cabin door, once again batting the flames.

The guy climbed into the boat and laughed. "If you had told me you were a vampire I'd have found a shady spot to pull up to so you could get in."

"Sod off. There's hope for SunnyHell after all. Not everybody's a bloody idiot." He said shutting the door and lying down as the engine started up. Within a few minutes the rocking of the ship had him asleep.

On the Ship:

Dawn woke up to banging on her door. Sat up and ran to the door pulling it open. The captain looked at her. "It's two; you can use my bathroom if you want. But you have to empty it yourself."

"Empty what?"

"The can. We don't exactly use toilets around here."


"Dump it over the side. When you're done meet me up on deck." He pointed to the bathroom. She did her business and dumped it. She swore she was never swimming in the ocean ever again. She was on deck soon after, still wearing the clothes from the day before. The Captain was talking to a man. He nodded and looked at Dawn. The Captain nodded and walked back to his cabin.

"Hey, Will, I'm Aaron. I'm the tour guide for today. Didn't know the Captain had a sister."

"I've never met him before today, He and mom had a big fight when they were in their teens and they haven't really spoken since. My mom died a couple of weeks ago. Didn't want to do the foster thing. So, what's my job? And I'm really hungry."

"Go down to the galley and get some grub then meet me on C deck over there. You get to scrub the decks. It's one of the easiest jobs here. And it ain't easy. Tomorrow you can do dishes." He grinned.

She spent the rest of the day scrubbing and climbed into her hammock just as the sun set. The captain told her she'd done well and could turn in early on her first day.

On the stolen boat:

Spike woke up just as the sun dipped below the horizon. He climbed out of the cabin and looked at the orange and pink sky. He loved sunsets; it was the closest thing to a blue sky he would ever see. He looked at the driver. "How much longer do you think?"

"Not much, should be seeing her any second now. It'll be harder to find when it's dark. But you being a vampire should help." Spike stared at him. "I'm Chris by the way."

"Spike." Chris was right when the sky got completely dark he could still see and within minutes the ship was in view. They pulled up next to it, honking. A man looked over the side and disappeared.

A few seconds later another man looked then hollered commands. Spike dug in his pocket and handed the man the thousand dollars he owed him. Spike handed him a note that he had written for Buffy and gave Chris an extra hundred to deliver it to 1630 Revello Drive.

A rope ladder was thrown over the side of the ship and Spike climbed up using one hand and carrying his cooler and bag in the other. Which was no small feat. He hopped over the side and looked at the man who had been shouting orders.

"You the Captain?"

"I take it you're Spike. Your brother's already in bed. He worked his butt off. I'm sorry to hear about your mom. I loved my sister, but we hadn't seen each other since we were teens. Come on, you can check on Will and then we'll find you a place to sleep." He said leading towards Dawn's room. Spike caught on quickly and followed him.

He opened the door to Dawn's room and breathed a sigh of relief to see a figure in the dark. He couldn't make out all the details cause she was covered up but he could smell from the door that it was her.

He shut the door and followed the Captain to his office. They talked for a while discussing their secret identities and their fake ones getting the details down pat.

"So, what are her plans for when the ship docks?" Spike asked.

"Well, I was going to talk to her about it in the morning. I figure that she'll need all the help she can get. Down the Yellow River there's a town called Xining. It's full of famous monasteries, but there's one quite a ways away from Xining that's small but has the best Martial Arts Master probably in the world. I met him years ago. Gave him a ride on this very ship. He owes me. So I'm gonna call in my payment. I'm gonna see if he'll teach her.

"I was gonna go myself but now that you're here you can take her. Just get to Xining and go to the main monastery. Ask for someone who can take you to the Xioinchi. When you get there ask to speak to Master Xioquan."

"That's a lot of bloody X's. How's he gonna believe me."

"I'm going to send a note and something that he will know came from me. For tonight you can share her room."

"Actually, I just woke up. Vampire, so what do you need me to do, and is there something I can do to take the work load off of her?"

"She scrubbed the decks today. You can do that tomorrow night. She can do the dishes. Tell you what. We didn't do a stowaway check yet. Check around and if you find anybody with a heartbeat bring them to me."

"I can do that. Thanks for taking her in mate. I owe you one." He said. The captain shook his head.

"Nah, you guys are saving the world, I think I owe you more than just one ride. You guys ever need me and I'm your guy." Spike nodded and left.

He checked every deck, nook and cranny of the ship, found two vampires that met quick, dusty endings, but nothing else. He was walking by shipmates sleeping quarters and heard some of them talking. He listened in as one guy started talking about the Captain's nephew.

"Boy that kid scrubbed those floors like a pro. He's a hard worker."

"Yeah, but I don't think he's really the captain's nephew."

"Why do you say that?"

"I think the Captain needed some company in bed. If he was really his nephew he wouldn't have made him work so hard." One guy laughed. Spike opened the door and glared at him.

"You ever talk about my brother like that again and I'll use your entrails for towlines." The guy stared in shock. "Kid just lost his mum, had nowhere to go. Social services wasn't bloody well gonna grant me custody. He took off, but left me a note. I will kill anybody who even looks at him funny."

Everyone nodded vigorously.

There was something about the man that made every hair on the back of their necks stand up. He smirked. "I'm Spike, have a good night ya bloody wankers." He shut the door and walked down the hall keeping his sensitive hearing towards the door.

"Holy shit, Hal, can you ever keep your stupid thoughts to yourself?"

"Shut up, Dave, we were all thinking it."

"Well, I sure the hell ain't thinking it now."

"Oh, come on, Dave, you can't tell me that punk actually scared you."

"Normally I'd say no, but I don't think he was kidding, did you see his eyes. He threw that threat out there like he'd not only do it but had actually done it before."

"Whatever, I'm not scared of him, he was almost half my size. I'm tempted to find his so-called brother and see if that he can clean other things as well as he cleaned the deck." He laughed. Nobody laughed with him. Everybody stared at the door expecting it to open but they still jumped when it did. Spike was standing there with a smile on his face, but everybody knew it wasn't friendly.

"Why don't we go for a walk?" Hal stood up and smiled.

"Let's go punk, I ain't scared of you."

"Good, that'll make it more fun." Spike walked onto the outer deck and waited for the guy. A few guys followed peeking out the door.

"Come on punk, I'm gonna kick your ass." Spike snorted.

"Not bloody likely. Shut the door." He said. The guys slammed it shut immediately. "Now that we are alone..." he walked slowly up to Hal and grabbed a hold of his shirt twisting it in his fist. Hal looked down at his fist and laughed.

"Oh, kid, you just fucked up. I'm gonna beat your ass, then, I'm gonna find your brother." Spike smirked and suddenly raised the guy up off the ground and changed into game face. The guy's eyes bugged out. "What the fuck are you?"

"Somebody who's gonna give you one last chance, I shouldn't but lil bro would be disappointed in me. Fuckin' straighten up. There's nothin I'd like better than to teach you how I got by name. Used to torture my victims with railroad spikes. I get off on blood play, and there will be blood."

Spike sniffed the air just as he heard the sound of something splashing on the deck. He looked down to see the dark wet spot on the front of the guy's pants. He looked up at the guy's face and turned back to his human visage and smirked. "See? Fun. Oh, and you didn't see my other face did you."

"No, no, didn't see anything, totally don't know what you're talking about." He gulped. Spike set him down gently.

"See? I knew we'd get along. Now, toddle of to bed, Wanker." The guy ran for the door and slammed it shut behind him. He could hear the other guy's laughter as he walked away. "I'm still the Big Bad, chip or no chip." He knew he couldn't actually hurt the guy but he could toss him into the ocean if nothing else.

He headed for Dawn's room. He closed the door and stared at her form inhaling deeply. Taking comfort in the fact that she was alive and okay. He found the extra hammock and hung it up next to her. He climbed in and fell asleep.

He was awoken several hours later as a squeal penetrated his eardrum and he felt something crash into him. Suddenly he was spinning over and being dumped onto the hard floor as his hammock capsized.

He didn't even have time to get his bearings before he was being choked by a pair of arms around his neck and something sitting on his lap putting kisses all over his face. He opened his eyes but could only see the side of a boy's head as the boy hugged the unlife out of him.

"Who the bloody hell are you? Bloody poofter!" Spike gasped out. The boy pulled back with a smile on his face and Spikes eyes widened in recognition. "Bloody hell, Nibblet? What happened to your hair?" He pouted.

"I had to cut it to pass for a boy." He shook his head sadly.

"Shame, can't call you a shiny-haired brat anymore." His face hardened. "Is that my bloody shirt!" She cringed and nodded meekly. "Looks smashing on you, pet." He smiled softly.

He hugged her close. "You had me so bloody worried. From now on, you tell me where you're going. I'll come with you. I won't tell if you don't want me to. Oh and thanks for the tip on where you were going. As soon as we dock we gotta call your sister and let her know you're okay."

"I can't go back, Spike. If Glory finds me..."

"Shhh. Nibblet I've talked to the Capt'n. He knows a Martial Arts Master who owes him a favor. He's gonna have the guy train you. I think it's a good idea. I'll be there. So sis won't freak too bad. This will let the window pass that Glory needs to do the ritual. Hopefully give Buffy the focus to take her out without having to worry about having to protect you."

"Cool, I've always wanted to learn to fight."

"Yeah, well, the sooner the better. I scared the piss outa one of the guys last night that was saying inappropriate things about you last night." He smirked and raised his scared eyebrow. "Literally."

"Eewww." She scrunched up her nose. "Thanks. I'd better go, after I eat I've got to do the dishes." She kissed his cheek and got up. He stood up.

"God, you do look like a boy. Like the choker. Thought I felt something singeing me while you were hugging me. Hey, watch out for those guys and let me know if any of them give you a hard time. Funny, I never liked it as much when they wet their selves before I got the chip." He grinned. She smiled affectionately at him.

"I'm glad you are able to enjoy the smell of pee again." He scowled as she giggled. "I'll see you later. Have fun." She waved walking out the door. When she got up to the main deck all the guys stopped and stared at her. She smirked a not unlike-Spike smirk and walked over to Aaron.

"Morning Aaron. So, dishes huh?" He hesitantly nodded.

"I..If you want to that is." She grinned.

"Aaron, you don't have to be scared of him. You've been nothin but nice to me. He didn't tell me exactly what happened, but I have a feeling whoever it was saying some pretty nasty things about me. And Spike scared the pee out of him. Right?" she asked. He nodded. "He's touchy about me. How you treat me is how he treats you."

"Got it. So, how much older is he than you?"

"Well, there's several years between us. Sometimes he acts like he's eight and others he acts like he's over a hundred. Just got to catch him in the right mood." she grinned. "I'm gonna go get breakfast. It's gonna be a long week."