AN:This story is an alternate take on Season Six. Willow's spell to bring Buffy back to life didn't exactly work, and now the gang must go on without her. The story picks up towards the end of Bargaining part 2. Everything up until this point has happened exactly like in that episode, with the exception of all the Buffy scenes, as she isn't around. The Scoobies still end up in the dead-end alley where Razor confronts them, but because the demon's aren't chasing Buffy, they arrive later than in the show, explaining the time difference.

Standard disclaimers apply, I don't own the characters, I'm not making a profit , etc.

Update - 30 June, 2013: I am going back through some of my older stories and correcting several of the mistakes that I made as a less experienced author. I am also making some stylistic changes to better make some of the older stories meld with the newer ones. If you're going back through these stories and notice a difference (hopefully for the better), this is why. Nothing major has changed, I'm simply updating them to my current level.

Spike and Dawn drove down the debris littered road atop the vampire's newly acquired motorcycle. Dawn clung tightly to his waist, still wearing the faux football helmet Spike had given her, "for protection".

"There! What's that?" Dawn motioned ahead, off to their right. Spike slowed the bike to a stop before he and Dawn got off. They walked forward together toward the motionless, ruined torso of the Buffybot.

"It's just a machine, Dawn," Spike said quietly, standing behind Dawn.

"I know," was her equally quiet reply. Dawn walked up to the broken robot and knelt beside it. She reached out to touch the machine's face, stopping suddenly with a gasp as the Buffybot turned its head toward her.

"Dawn." The robots voice were weak, as if talking were too much of a strain on its already taxed systems. "You're my sister, Dawn." During the exchange, Spike walked over to a nearby bonfire, spotting more pieces of the Buffybot.

"I love you, Dawn. I'll never leave you. We'll be together forev-" The Buffybot was suddenly silent, its power finally depleted. Dawn was motionless for a moment, then she stood, turned around, and fled, leaving the scene of horror behind her.

Spike stood holding a leg of the Buffybot cluelessly a few paces away.

"Look what those filthy buggers done to you," Spike murmured as he examined the extent of the damage to the limb. His volume rose as he spoke again.

"Willow's slap and paste job's not gonna do the trick this time. Robot's done." Spike was quiet a moment, waiting for a response from Dawn. When none came, he raised his voice again.

"Hey?" When again no response came his way, Spike turned around, looking for his young ward.

"Little Bit?" Spike's voice became frantic, as fear creeped its way into him. Seeing and hearing nothing, Spike screamed at the top of his lungs.


Dawn, already long out of sight, ignored Spike's cries and continued running.

Dawn stood atop the ruined platform that her sister had leaped off of just months ago. She was looking down at the ground below, peering through the hole that the dimensional rift had caused, that her blood had opened. Spike called her name, but she ignored him, letting his words drift away with the wind blowing through her hair.

"Bit, get away from there," Spike said as he finally caught up to her. "Come back down with me. We need to leave SunnyHell before those biker demons find us and -

"It would be so easy," Dawn interrupted suddenly.

"What? What would?" Spike's quizzical face went unnoticed as Dawn continued to stare down the hole.

"Jumping. I could end it all, all my pain, if I just jump. I could be with mom, and- and Buffy. I could join them, wherever they are, and we can be a family again. I'm... I'm just so tired." Her voice trembled as she spoke. Spike approached her slowly, his hand hovering just inches away from her shoulder.

"Pet, believe me, I miss your mum and your sister as much as anyone. And you can take it from me, that fall you're thinkin' about, its not a pleasant one." Spike winced at the reminder of when he had been launched from atop the tower. "Let's go, Bit. This place," Spike gazed around for emphasis, "is a tower of failure. My failure. When the good doctor threw me off this sodding pile of junk, I failed Buffy, failed you. Buffy died because I failed..." He trailed off into silence.

Dawn slowly, finally, turned around to face him. She saw something in his startling blue eyes, something she had never seen in the brash vampire; pain. He stood hugging himself, lost in his memories. She waited for him to continue. Her breath caught in her throat when he turned his head and locked his eyes onto hers.

"You can't jump, Dawnie, don't you see. If you do, then I fail again. I fail in protecting you, keeping you alive. I don't wanna' fail you Dawn, not again. I'm tired of failing Summers women." His voice grew very quiet at the end, as a tear rolled down his left cheek.

"B-but everyone always leaves me. First dad left, and then mom, and then Buffy. Giles left me, even the Buffybot left. How do I know you won't be next?"

"Because you have my word that I'll never leave you." As he said the words, he stepped closer to embrace her. Dawn stared at him, shocked and relieved at his words, and then broke down in his arms, letting go of all the pent up emotions she had let build up over the summer. They stood like that, locked together, her face wet with tears, his face searching his surroundings, looking for something else to say.

"Dawn, I- Oh, bollocks!" Spike's eyes were drawn to a number of people running from a group of the biker demons that had overrun Sunnydale. One of them had bright red hair. Spike pulled away from Dawn and started to run down the stairs when her words stopped him cold.

"You-you said you wouldn't leave me. Were you just lying too?" Dawn's shrill voice cut through the night air. Spike turned to lock eyes with her again.

"No, pet, I meant every word. But if we don't leave right now, you and I will be attending late-night funerals for Red and the rest of the Scoobies."

Dawn squealed, "Ohmygod" and rushed down after Spike.

Xander was sprawled on the ground, wincing in pain, Anya at his side. Willow was laying atop a dumpster, still reeling from the vicious slap that Razor, the demon bikers' leader, had delivered. Tara, her face a mixture of fury at Razor and concern for Willow, stood protectively in front of her lover.

Razor, along with several members of his biker gang, stood facing the disarrayed Scoobies.

"We're not gonna fight you. We're just gonna hold you down and have some fun for a few hours. Hell, you might even live through it. Ya see, some of my boys got parts that tend to tear up pretty little girls. Heh, I bet we can even find a use for the Man-Bitch over there." Razor motioned to Xander as he spoke the final sentence.

"Hey! That's Man-Witch, ugly! Dammit, Warlock!"

"Xander! Not helping, " Anya grated out through clenched teeth. Xander looked away, searching for a way, any way, to stop what he knew was coming next.

Razor watched the banter with something resembling amusement on his face. "So, which one of you wants to be first?"

"I do" came a voice from behind the demons. All heads turned towards the voice to see Spike standing there, coat billowing in the wind, with Dawn hiding behind him.

"Heh, so, bloodsucker, you wanna go first? You're not really my type, but I'm sure one of my boys might like a go..." Razor trailed off, his face curling into what could be taken for a smile.

Spike, initially confused, realized his mistake and muttered "bollocks" under his breath before putting his game face on.

"Look, mate," Spike started, sarcasm dripping in his voice, "I'm not just any vampire. I'm Spike, slayer of Slayers, scourge of Europe, and you're in my town. You and your boyos need to roll out and crawl back under whatever rock it is you came out from."

The hellish smile quickly left the demons face.

"Boys, waste this walking dust-pile, then we take care of the women." As he said the word "women", he pointedly looked directly at Xander, who appeared to begin to say something when Anya stomped on his foot. Then he returned his gaze to Spike, and then laid his eyes on Dawn. "Oh, and don't hurt that pretty young thing he's hiding, either. Well, not yet anyway. I wanna save her for last.."

Dawn let out a terrified "EEP" and tried to hide further behind Spike. Spike whispered, just loud enough for Dawn to hear, "Pet, when this goes down, get to the Magic Box as fast as you can. Don't stop for anything, and don't look back".

Two of the demons advanced on Spike. The vampire weighed his options, looking over to the Scoobies and hoping that they would be more useful than they were the night before at the cemetery. Realizing that he had come to think of them as allies, Spike became even angrier and bellowed when the nearest demon attacked. The demon swung his chains at Spike in a downward chop, but Spike, having many years of experience with chains, grabbed them before they could pick up any real velocity, and pulled the surprised demon into his waiting knee. When this happened, Dawn bolted back down the alley, towards the Magic Box, following Spike's orders and not looking back.

Seeing the girl flee, and hoping to make quick work of the bleach-blond vampire, the second demon charged Spike, brandishing a steel pipe. When he got close, Spike grabbed the demon still clutching its injured groin and fell backwards, pulling the formerly chain-wielding demon on top of him. The pipe blow meant for Spike's head connected instead with the demon's ally. Spike then threw the freshly dead demon off of him and into it's friend, all the while maintaining his grip on the chains. Spike quickly kipped up and wrapped the chains around the second demon's neck. Using a quick twist, he broke its neck and let it drop to the floor.

"Alright, who's next?" Spike uttered with confidence.

While the rest of his gang fled, Razor snarled in challenge, rushing Spike with claws out wide. Ducking the first swipe, Spike delivered a punishing blow to the demon's ribs. Razor countered with an elbow to the head, sending Spike to the ground. Dodging a head-stomp, Spike rolled to his left, trying to get room to stand. The demon, expecting this move, sent Spike flying with a well placed kick to the mid-section. Before he could recover, Razor was on top of Spike, pounding and slashing relentlessly.

"This is my town now, vampire." Razor's victory smirk didn't last long, as an answering smirk came across Spike's now bloody and ragged face. "What have you got to smile about?"

"You see, mate," Spike said through bloody lips, "all your friends split after I took out the first two, while my friends..." Spike stopped speaking as the demon's eyes widened in surprise. Razor roared in pain and he turned to see Xander standing behind him, an axe in his hand, its head covered in the demon's own ichor.

"Are right behind you," Xander finished for Spike, as he swung the axe again. The demon, clutching the axe now embedded in his chest, fell to his knees. He looked up to see a very angry Wiccan and an equally pissed off ex-demon standing over him, brandishing the weapons Razor's gang had dropped as they fled.

While Tara and Anya finished off Razor, Xander walked over to Spike and offered his hand.

"So, we're friends now, hunh?"

"Well, 'sodding idiots whose hides I've been saving for months now' didn't have the same ring to it." Surprisingly, Spike took the offered hand and answered Xander's grin with one of his own. However, his mirth was short lived as one word came to his mind.


Spike took off down the alley, leaving Xander to round up the girls and follow behind him.

"Dawn," Spike yelled out as he stepped through the ruined entrance to the Magic Box. "Dawn, are you here?" His voice rose as he frantically searched the building. He paused and took in the smells of the place. Sifting through the aromas of the various herbs the shop carried, he caught two very familiar scents; Dawn, and fear. He picked up a nearby shard of wood, praying to whoever was listening he wouldn't need it. "Pet, speak to me".

"Spike?" Dawn's voice was meek and laced with fright. She stepped out of the shadows of a bookrack, tears rolling down her face. Spike dropped the makeshift stake as Dawn ran into his arms, sobbing.

"There were so many, I thought... I thought that you..." Dawn trailed off, still crying, as Spike comforted her.

"Shhh, its okay pet. The Big Bad saved the day, and your friends. They should be catching up any minute now". He stroked her hair softly as she continued to cry in his arms.

A crash came from Buffy's old training area in the back of the Magic Box, causing Spike to tense up, but he relaxed at the familiar sound that accompanied it.

"Xan-der!" Anya's voice carried through the shop.

"Don't worry, An. I built it once, I can do it again."

"D-Dawn?" Tara called out softly. She was supporting Willow as she walked, who was very obviously still dazed from her physical encounter with Razor's fist. "Dawnie, are you here?"

"In here," Spike called out. The group rushed into the main area of the shop. Everyone looked around, taking in the damage. Anya, especially, carried a look of horror, but whether that it was due to the potential money involved in fixing up the Magic Box or the general carnage of the situation, Spike couldn't tell.

"Dawn, honey, are you okay?" Willow asked as she stepped tentatively towards the teen, hesitant to leave Tara's supporting frame.

"I.. I just wanna go home," Dawn managed through choked sobs.

Xander stepped forward and said, "I'll get the car."

"Well, at least this place didn't take too much damage," Xander said as he surveyed the Summers house. "Gonna need a lot of glass-work though."

"I'm sure you can fix it Xander," Willow said. The redhead looked up as Spike came down the stairs. Everyone stood up as he got to the landing.

"How is she?" Tara asked.

"She'll be alright. Got a few scrapes here and there, but nothin' to worry about. She's just scared is all."

"Thank you Spike."

"No need, Red. All in a day's work."

"Well, yeah, inSunnydale, but that's not what I meant." At Spikes inquisitive look, Willow continued. "You saved us. You hate us and you risked your life, well, unlife, to help us out. You didn't have to do that.." Spike's face turned serious after she had grown quiet.

"Yea, I did. If I hadn't saved you, if I had let those wankers have their fun, it would've broken her heart." At that, Spike nodded towards Dawn's room before continuing. "And she'd never have forgiven me." Here, Spike nodded towards the roof, as if he could see the heavens on the other side. "Buffy'd never forgive me."

After a moment of silence, Spike spoke again. "I gave the Bit my word that I'd stick around, no matter what, so I guess we're gonna have to work some things out. You know, who stays where and what all. My crypt, posh though it is, isn't exactly the safest or most comfy place for those who actually need to breathe."

Willow looked around at everyone before she spoke. "We'll figure it out."

End Prologue