Part Six

Like any man becoming a father for the first time, the day his baby daughter was placed into his arms would forever be the most amazing one he'd ever experienced. It even topped the night Dru had given him his own new life.

Taking possession of his daughter had of course been unconventional; how many men received their baby from the arms of a mottled grey demon imparting the news that the child's mother had only lived long enough to share the father's identity, before then disappearing in a cloud of smoke? Wasn't like he'd really had reason to run; Spike couldn't have hurt the bastard when he had a shiny, wailing babe wriggling about in his arms. Bugger could have at least cared enough to ensure the Bit's father hadn't chowed down on her before scarpering.

Even though Dawn was really only two years old, she'd grown up faster under Spike's wing as he'd traipsed from one dimension to another, searching for her mother. On regaling Giles with the story, the watcher had been intrigued by the description of the demon that had delivered Dawn into Spike's world, and thus had begun months of research. He'd believed that identifying the type of demon would help them in mounting a more informed search effort for the Slayer. He'd discovered the demon was a courier type that had access to all dimensions, who travelled to and fro with an ease other demons could only aspire to.

They were also notorious liars.

Luckily, Spike understood the Watcher's logic. He was a fists and fangs kind of bloke; waiting around while the tweedy graduate had delved into every book he could lay his hands on took all kinds of patience that no one had ever dared suggest Spike possessed.

Still, identifying the demon had given them something.

It had given them a place to start.

If a dimensional courier had been used to bring Dawn to her father, then Buffy had to have been somewhere other than in their world. At first Spike had travelled on his own, looking for any sign that the Slayer had been there, or anywhere, even if only for a second. He'd found nothing. So they'd looked harder—no small feat when suddenly they'd had Glory on their tails. Still, there was one thing the hellbitch hadn't been capable of, though torture and murder were things she'd achieved with ease. She couldn't leave the dimension—couldn't find openings to other ones that could perhaps return her home. She'd needed Dawn for that, and luckily for them Spike had been able to take the girl with him while he continued the search.

The reason for his passionate effort had been personal. Spike admitted it to no one, not even to himself, but he owed Buffy something. He'd disregarded her life when he'd left her defenceless against Angelus. He'd spent the night with her before the ultimate confrontation, making plans—schemes—to take Angelus down, making delicious designs on her body while she lost herself to sensation, if just for an hour. Or at least, that's what Spike remembered of that night. Expressing all his frustrations with Dru to the Slayer, and then falling under her spell as he removed her clothing and helped her relax before the big showdown. His memory was good—if only the monks had played fair.

Truthfully they had no need for a slayer. The new bird, Faith, seemed to be living up to the job. Finding Buffy and bringing her back home was for no reason other than to mend broken hearts. The watcher had been a mess, and Joyce couldn't have been more broken if she'd tried. Still, Spike showing up with the moppet that resembled her missing daughter had perked the woman up a little. Had given Rupert new drive as well as a direction to his life. That the well had dried up and offered no new places to look meant that they were all slowly dying again. The loss of hope was a tragedy that had seemed all but delivered, until Buffy Summers had arrived on their doorstep.

Dawn had walked into the apartment, letting the front door bang shut. Giles jumped in his seat at the table, his glasses askew on his face as he looked up, bleary eyed at the teenager he considered his…well, granddaughter, but he'd not expressly told anyone that.

"Dawn," he admonished. "How nice of you to knock."

"Yeah, yeah, I know you're shocked. You need a shower." She busied herself with cleaning up, picking up cups and glasses and rushing them to the kitchen in a whirlwind of energy that made Giles feel slightly queasy.

"What are you doing here? Didn't you only just leave with your father?"

Dawn stopped moving, looked at him strangely, then strode to the window and hauled the curtain back, allowing jarring arrows of sunlight to spear his head and leave him wounded.

"Gah! Light. Dawn, it burns. Do shut it off."

Dawn giggled, moving back to the kitchen and depressing the switch on the kettle to start the process of boiling water. "You need coffee."

"Blast you, girl. Stop telling me what I need."

"She may be right, Giles." Buffy walked out of Giles's bedroom, draped in one of his old terry robes, yawning dramatically into her hand until her jaw cracked. "You do need coffee. You're super grouchy this morning. At the very least, I need coffee. Dawn, you know where it is? My Giles never kept it."

Dawn remained speechless for just under a minute, then she opened a cupboard door and slammed the jar of instant down on the bench, following it with two bowls, two spoons and a selection of cereals.


Buffy filled her bowl and then watched Dawn, waiting for the inquisition to begin. She'd spent half the night trying to work out why the identity of Dawn's mother was a State secret. Then, when she'd concluded that she must be the girl's biological mother, and recovered from the shock, what would happen when she woke up and found Dawn back visiting? Her sister Dawn's first question would have been, 'how could you give me up?' and Buffy dreaded this world's Dawn hitting her with that. How was she supposed to know the answer to such a question? Trying to put herself in her own, younger shoes was hopeless. Buffy had never been pregnant, thank God, and as close as she could get to how she may have felt given the same situation was to know that none of her friends, none of her family, and ultimately none of her vampires had ever been given up on. Therefore, Buffy had to conclude that, in this world, she wouldn't have given her child up either. The new conclusions were less favourable. Perhaps the baby had been stolen from her.

Or perhaps she was dead.

"So," Buffy nudged, eager to get this over with.

"You died for me in your world. Do you think my mother died for me in this one?"

He was going to skin her alive.

Dawn was gone when he awoke. Ordinarily that wouldn't have worried him, but before he'd put head to pillow he'd left his headstrong daughter a strongly worded note to not go anywhere near Buffy Summers. This morning he'd found the piece of paper artfully draped on the floor in a place where it could be easily missed. He had every reason to believe Dawn had placed it there on purpose so as to pretend she'd never seen it.

The cunning little snake.

Downing his usual mug of breakfast claret with unusual speed, Spike tossed the mug in the sink, wiped his mouth and donned his coat. He thought about phoning ahead but he didn't want to warn her he was coming. She was going to be grounded for a month for going against his wishes, and she'd want to hope he calmed down by the time he got her to Joyce's. Even after all these years, and his more than adequate raising of her unknown granddaughter, the woman still got jumpy when he showed up ticked off. Once a vampire, always a vampire he figured.

He had a pretty good deal in SunnyD. Back in the day when he and Dru had first shown up in this tin-pot town, you'd never have been able to make him believe he'd drag his princess half way across the continent, kicking and screaming, before returning with a daughter and no vampire lover on his arm. Not in a million years would he have considered slipping it to the Slayer, impregnating her with his obviously lethal little runners, all the while contemplating helping her save the world, for puppies and kittens and Manchester United. Yet he had. Or, the monks had made him think he had. He still wasn't entirely clear on what had occurred that fateful night, and what hadn't. Obviously his little guys weren't as alive as Dawn's existence would have him believe, but other than that, whether he had slept with the Slayer or not was entirely the knowledge of the now defunct religious group that had made him a daddy.

He'd send them flowers if he could give a fuck about them.

Most of the demons in town believed he'd turned soft. A few lethal fights had changed that attitude, but Spike didn't deny he'd changed sides. He'd had to. How was he going to protect his human daughter when he ran with the wrong crowd? Spike was many things, but stupid wasn't one of them. And even though he'd like to deny it on occasion, Dawn had family that didn't consist of just himself. She had Joyce, and Spike wasn't going to deprive his daughter of that connection. She had Rupert—and all together they made a fun little family unit, even though some had remained oblivious to the blood linking them together.

But it would only have worked if he'd turned from killing humans, to protecting them instead.

He hated to admit it, but Spike liked these people. That the watcher had hung around when his slayer had never returned, and presumed by all to be dead, showed an immense depth of character that Spike couldn't help but admire. If he'd had to have a daughter, he was glad the monks had helped him find his place amongst them, giving both he and Dawn a home.

And if he thought of his slayer more often than not, well, that was his little secret.