Everyone of these characters belongs to Joss Whedon and no money is made with this.

Author's Note:

The story is set after Showtime. Buffy returned home with Spike and this is the first conversation between Buffy and Dawn after they came back.

This is the first time I ever wrote from the I-perspective, so I hope you like it. I just thought it would be more sufficient in telling Dawn's feelings and how she perceives Buffy in that moment.

„How is he?" I entered the kitchen where Buffy was putting away the first aid kit I had brought her half an hour ago.

"He's sleeping." She didn't turn around to look at me, but filled the sink with water to wash the dishes. I noticed the tenseness in her shoulders as she started cleaning the plates and I grabbed a towel to help her.

"Did he tell you what they did to him?" I had a fairly good idea what they had done, having seen the wounds he was covered in, but I wanted to know it more specifically.

Buffy plunged the plates under and scrubbed at them forcefully. Her busy hands betrayed her apparent calmness; she was far from relaxed. "He didn't have to, I can imagine it pretty well."

She let go of the sponge and grabbed the counter, closing her eyes for a second. "God, I could have never forgiven myself if I hadn't got him out of there." Her voice was quiet.

"Why?" I answered and gave her a bewildered look. Ever since she first told me of her relationship with Spike I had tried to figure it out. Tried to understand what it was between them, but Buffy had never helped me with that, never talked about it. I knew so little about it and I longed to find out more, to understand why she was so willing to forgive him for what he did. And maybe, maybe I wanted to find a way to forgive him myself, to get the older brother back that I had never had before. "He's not your responsibility, it's not your fault they took him."

"Dawn…," she hesitated, "you don't understand." She turned away to continue with the dishes, but I placed a hand on her arm to stop her.

"You're right, I don't. I can't forget what he did to you. What he tried to do," I corrected myself. "How can you?"

"I'm not." Buffy looked up to me and then leaned against the sink. She sighed. "I'm not forgetting nor forgiving it. It's just that it's not relevant anymore, the person who did it doesn't exist any longer. Spike's different now."

"Why? Because he has a soul? I'm not doubting that he feels guilty about it, because I believe he does, but that doesn't change the fact that he did it."

Buffy made an exasperated sound. "Has everybody of you forgotten, what Angel did when he didn't have a soul? Look," she turned fully around and gazed at me, "the point is that Spike did what he did because he didn't have soul. He was a monster, Dawn. He tried to hide it and managed to quite well. You never saw it and even I seemed to forget that fact for a while. He tried to be good because of me and he never would have done anything to you because he loves you, but if not for the chip he would have gone on killing. I have no doubt about that. All those stories he told you? He never regretted anything he had done." Buffy tucked a loose strand behind her ear and sat down at the table while my eyes never left her, fascinated of the insight into her thoughts that she was just beginning to reveal.

"And then when he tried to…to, you know what I'm talking about, he felt so guilty that he got himself a soul; because he had hurt me. He realized that he couldn't suppress the demon inside of him, that it would always come out eventually, like when it did then, so he went to get rid of it. Don't you understand how much that means?" She looked up at me and I was shocked to see unshed tears glistening in her eyes.

"I remember when Angel first lost his soul, how different he was. He tried to kill everyone I loved to torment me; all the love he had felt for me erased in a second. Angelus wasn't capable of love and you can't imagine how much that hurt me." Her voice shook at the end and she tore her eyes away from me. "And now I see Spike, who, without a soul, loved me enough to get one and to fight the evil inside of him." She looked at me again. "Does that lessen Angel's love for me? I don't think so; I know he loves me, but it is nevertheless…disappointing."

I opened my mouth to say something, but she cut me off. "So tell me, how could I just cast Spike aside now as if it didn't mean anything to me?" She stared at me, somehow reprimanding me with her eyes for making her reveal all her feelings.

"I…" I was at a loss of words for once, "I never thought about it like that."

"No, none of you did. Just because the difference in him isn't as obvious as with Angel and Angelus doesn't mean it isn't there. You may not see it, but I do and that is all that matters to me."

I looked at her for a long moment and finally understood her. The image of Angelus flooded my mind, cruel and dangerous, so different from the man Buffy fell in love with.

Spike had always been so protecting of me, helping us whenever he could, that I was never able to imagine how a soul would change him. In the end I had involuntarily punished him for being nice to me when soulless, because I had never thought of him as evil in the first place.

"A soul changes everyone, Dawn. He would never hurt me now, I know that. He may still be a demon, but inside he is human." Her voice tore me out of my reverie and I looked at her; and what I saw stunned me for a moment. "I will go check up on him," she said and got up from the chair, leaving me staring at her retrieving back. The look I had seen on her face had been one of love; it had softened her features and made her glow, even if just for a moment.

She had fallen in love with the one person who had got under her skin for years, be it as enemies or as lovers. A small smile tucked at my lips.

She may not realize it yet, but I did.

Author's Note:

I would be happy, if you let me know how you liked it. I'm always open for reviews. :)

It always bothered me that we never saw if the relationship between Spike and Dawn was restored after she threatened to set him on fire and that Buffy seemed to be the only one to really see what a difference a soul makes. When she told Spike in 'Never Leave Me' that it wasn't him who killed all those people, she made clear that she thought of him as two different persons. I wanted to show that it was already a miracle that Spike even loved her as he did without having a soul, compared to Angel, but that that didn't mean he didn't want to kill anymore and that at the attempted rape, his demon came out.

Since, like we could see in 'Him', Dawn didn't think that a soul made a difference, I thought this conversation with Buffy a good way for her to realize it and maybe make up with Spike, trust in him again. Since we never really got any scenes between him and Dawn in season 7, I would like to think that they got along well again.