Disclaimer: All characters being to Joss Whedon.

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Dawn's Essay—W. A. Lambeth

By Kim Hoppy

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Dawn shook her head at the progress for her assignment, or the lack thereof. English assignments bite. Give her demons any day, just keep away the essays of Hell. God, she'd almost rather do geometry. Almost. At least in that subject there was only one right answer, and all the rest were wrong. Who the hell cared where a comma went anyway?

She pushed away from her desk and snapped the notebook closed, deciding that she needed the valuable snack break, perhaps weeding it into the few hours break, and then the Oops, I didn't do the assignment. It's not like Buffy would even notice.

In case any ideas seized in the middle of her ice cream dish, Dawn took the notebook and bounded down the stairs. The TV was on, broadcasting the crappy afternoon series that plagued these time slots. The room was dark with the curtains drawn, and smiling Dawn crept in and watched the sleeping vampire hugging the couch pillow, whom she was under strict orders not to bother. (Like she was going to listen to them.) Spike's leg was bound in countless wrappings, the product of a demon deciding he was tasty-looking. Well, actually, Dawn thought bitterly, it was the product of a demon thinking Buffy looked tasty and Spike saving her. She had awoken last night to his loud, vulgar swearing when the others had carried him in, then even louder protests when they started cutting off away his jeans so that the wound could be tended to. It was probably a good thing she hadn't ventured down, for Xander had to leave to retrieve the pair of boxers that Spike was now wearing. She probably wouldn't have been able to look at Spike the same way again. Her sister, in a humane feeling of guilt, ordered Spike to stay until he was healed.

There was a cup that had a ring of dried blood in it next to the remote and an opened bottle of heavy-duty pain-relievers that were left over from her mother. No wonder he was out. He probably missed Passions, which would be the source of several hours of whining. Dawn rolled her eyes at the thought. The show was stupid.

She covered him up with the afghan that had partially come off, then went over to switch off the TV. The second the device was off, Spike shifted.

"I wah watchin' that," he said groggily, opening his eyes a sliver.

"Right," Dawn said sarcastically. "The snores were just for critique."

"'s right." He looked at her blearily. "Aren't ya supposed to be in school, Bit?"

"School's out. It's the middle of the afternoon."

"I missed Passions?" he pouted sleepily. "Uh." His eyes closed briefly, and Dawn thought he had fallen back asleep. "You finish your studies, Nibblet?" he questioned when she started to head back towards the kitchen.

"Working on it, Spike."

"No hour long breaks," he yawned, clutching the pillow and settling down again. "And get me so' blood."

She picked up the mug. "What's the magic word?" she teased, hoping to actually trip him up.

"Or I'll ripped your bloody lungs out," he mumbled sleepily, the conditioned response.

"Right, Spike." Dawn smiled at the dozing vampire.

Dawn finished her bowl second bowl of ice cream before she brought Spike his blood, giggling as she watched his nose twitch like a bunny when she set steaming mug on the table. His eyelids blinked blearily at her again, a frown across his brow. "What you giggling at?"

"You. Your blood, Spike."

"Hmm." His eyes crossed as he looked at the mug, and he pushed himself up enough so that he could grab and drink it. He hissed slightly in pain at the movement, but downed the blood quickly, settling back down quickly against the armrest so he was half sitting.

Dawn looked at him critically, then at the open bottle of pills. "Spike, how many pills did you take?"

The blood had woken him up slightly, and he scratched his head in thought. "A small handful," he said after a moment of memory searching. "Eight or ten, at least. Pro'ly more."

Dawn looked at him aghast. "Spike, you're only supposed to take two every six hours!"

"So I can't have anymore?"

"You could have died!"

He gave her a look even in his fuddled state.

"You know what I mean."

He gave her a wan smile. "So what's the assignment? Ice cream means serious distraction, right?" He yawned slightly.

She made a face at the memory, glaring at her notebook that sat on the table. "Just a writing assignment that the teacher wants us to participate in. I think it's due next week, so I don't have to do it."

"But you're going to," Spike said in a hard voice. "No procrastinating."

"Ooh, big word. Like you ever had these kinds of assignments. You never went to school."

"Did so."

Dawn blinked at him, surprised at his simple answer, and meant his unwavering, if slightly vacant, stare. "You told Buffy-"

Spike waved a hand. "What I told Buffy and what actually happened are two different things. I have an image to keep up."

"She said you told her you grew up on the streets and were a pickpocket and murderer," Dawn stated, narrowing her eyes and studying him.

"I did, but I didn't. Do that, I mean. I was a right dandy."

"A what?"

"I didn't live on the streets. I lived in a big house with lots of servants and money and-" He trailed off, partially yawning and waving vaguely to indicate size and other things.

"Really? You were rich?" Dawn asked eagerly. There was a plus side to Spike almost OD-ing himself with those pills. She's have never heard any of this if he hadn't.

"Rich enough," Spike said semi-proudly. Then he narrowed her. "Why do you ask, Nibblet?"

"I'm just curious. You never mention your life before . . . before you were a vampire. Bet it'd make a great story." Spike scoffed, but suddenly an idea latched into Dawn's mind. A story . . . "Hey, Spike, do you think I could write about you for my English assignment?"

He puffed out in pride, his ego swelling. "Don't see why not. Except your profs might not like all the gory details, but we can tone it down a bit."

"No, I mean you're life as a human," Dawn proposed carefully, then watched as his face blanched. "Come on, Spike. I'll never think of a story to write about, and I'll get all this extra credit with the historical references. Ms. Irah likes that kind of stuff."

He hugged the pillow against his chest, slouching down insolently. Dawn knew that if he wasn't doped up on medication, this wouldn't even be on option for him, his like for her be damned. He valued his past being kept private, at least pre-vampire.

Dawn knew she was losing him as he frowned more and more. "Come on, Spike," she pleaded. "I really need a passing grade for this class."

She had him with that. He wouldn't let her fail if he could help it. Normally he would have probably suggested sneaking into the school and tweaking the grades, but such a thought would be far from his mind right now.

"Fine," he grumbled darkly, casting her the evil eye. "What do you want to hear about me?"

"You just tell me whatever you want." Dawn grabbed her notebook and pen, then looked at Spike as he sat in deep thought. There was no way she was going to be able to take notes and listen to him speak. "Just wait a moment."

She ran for dear life back up to her room, riffling through her desk and finally pulling out a tape player and a hopefully blank cassette, then back down the stairs, praying that he hadn't come to his senses and changed his mind during her short absence. He watched her set the player down.

"What's that for?"

"So I don't miss anything."

"You destroy that tape when you're done," he ordered sharply.

"Yes, Spike," she agreed. "You got to give a lot of details, okay? Lots of details so I can do this right. Mrs. Irah likes details too. Pages of it." Dawn wondered if she could pass this story off as a personal narrative and not so much a story, so she could just type out whatever Spike said, minus any swearing.

He grunted inaudibly at her.

"And talk clearly and slowly." She grinned at his rude gesture. "You got a story?"

"Can't think of a good one," he muttered.

Shit, she was losing him. "Just . . . just tell me the first thing you remember."

"I'm a vampire, luv. I remember a lot. A perk of being dead."

"Just tell me something. Ramble."

He sighed and sank in his seat, closing his eyes and swallowing deeply, then sighing deeply. "Right, then."

Dawn clicked the player on, hoping he would start soon. It took him a few moments.

"Ramble, huh?"

"Yes, Spike." Dawn hoped the 90-minute tape was long enough.

"Hmm. Right." He was quiet for a bit, and Dawn had the sinking feeling he had fallen asleep.


"We lived on Thornhaugh Street since before I was born, I think, or we moved when I was young. You took Tottenham Court Road to Chenies Street, and our home was right near the corner. You could have taken Grower Street if you wanted," he started softly, as if visualizing a path that had been his entire life at one time, and then had forgotten it. "I don't fancy the house still standing, not with all the rebuilding and the Blitzkrieg the Germans brought on us. That war was over fifty years away, if you want to know, Nibblet," he said, raising his head and looking at her a moment.

"Anyway, it was a nice neighborhood, full of the frills and cuffs that had money to get by on. That was the West End. The museum wasn't that far away, London University was just a few streets away, plenty o' parks nearby. I think Mum always took us to Bedford Square. Don't know why I'm telling you all that. Not like I have to prove I lived there, right?" His temper suddenly flared up for some reason, but it settled quickly back down. "Bloody hell, I don't. We were in a right posh area, right posh . . ."

He was silent for a few moments. "The house was big, especially big to the little whelp I was. I was only four, perhaps five at the time. Mum doted on me, more than either my elder brother John or sister Elizabeth. I think that's probably why they hated me so much." He chuckled slightly at the thought. "Well, not hate, but they knew I was the favorite.

"It was Mum's bad luck with birth that was the cause of that. You should know that back in the Victorian era and such there weren't good doctors or vaccines or drugs or stuff. Women were lucky if they survived childbirth, if the baby actually survived the first few years. That's why folks had such big families back then. Half the kids didn't survive! My Mum was no exception. John, he was Mum's first, and he was all right, no problems except for the searing pain of childbirth. Lizzie, she was next about a year later, and also lucky. And then, her slump. Mum lost her next four through either miscarriage, stillborn, crib death. I don't rightly know-she didn't really talk about it. Then, when John was thirteen and Lizzie twelve, she had me, Little William. Course she doted on me. Ten years of losing your babes makes you cling to the ones you get, I suppose, but I ramble. Eh, I was told to, hmm?"

He grinned cheekily at Dawn, who sat listening intently.

"What was your mom's name?"

"Mary, Mary Marie. Father's name was John. John was named after him. John James Lambeth, that's my brother!" He smiled weakly at their memory.

"What did they look like?"

He frowned at her. "Hey, I'm telling the sodding story!"


"You bloody well better be," Spike grumbled, again hugging the pillow in a sulk. "Father was . . . Father was tall," he settled with, blinking slowly to sum up a mental image of a man long dead. "Very tall. And thin, like me. He really wasn't anything spectacular, like yours truly." He ignored or didn't hear Dawn's snort. "He had chestnut hair, like yours, very straight. He had a mustache too. Hazel-brown eyes. Mum was small and dainty next to my father, the perfect lady. She had hair like mine." A hand ran through his hair, then he shook his head wildly. "Not this bleach-blond. Sort of the dirty-dish-water blond. Wavy and soft like mink's fur. John looked just like Father, but without the mustache. Lizzie-she hated that nickname-she looked like my Aunt Beth on Father's side, except with Mum's hair and blue eyes. Hmm, folks said I looked like Mum more than Father . . ." He was slowly slouching in the seat.

"What was I getting to?" He looked at her blankly, scratching his head.

"I don't know, Spike." Dawn couldn't hide the disappointment.

Spike sighed at her. "Bit, my life as a human wasn't any big adventure. I wasn' a Slayer or livin' onna Hellmouth. It was dull and boring. I was dull and boring."

"You must have something," she pleaded.

His eyes closed and he took a deep unneeded breath. "Katherine," he said after a long pause. "I was going to tell you about Kitty, my younger sister." His eyes opened and pierced Dawn with a deep stare. "You always remind me of her. You got her hair, cept hers curled a bit."

Dawn patted her hair. "Really? I look like your sister?"

His lips quirked momentarily. "Right angle, right light, right squint on my part, yeah, you do, Bit. Taller than her. I called her Lil Bit too. Called her a lot of the nicks I call you."

The teenager was touched. "What else?"

"About Kitty? Not much, I think. I said we had boring lives," he apologized at her glare.

"Come on, Spike," she pouted.

He sighed again like an exhausted parent, then shook his head.

"As I said, we lived on Thornhaugh Street right near the corner of Chenies. I was hardly five at the time. Either just five or going on five or something like that . . ."

e f e f e f

"Can I go too?"

"No." Elizabeth's response was crisp and to the point, her blue eyes narrowing at her younger brother.


"William, no," his father said firmly, glaring at the youngest member of the family pointedly.

William's face fell at the blatant refusal, and he toyed with his food. "Why not?" he pouted.

"You're too young," John, his older brother, stated, then looked over at his mother. "Mum, you can't bring him along. We could not go until we were ten."

"Yes, Mother, it wouldn't be fair," Elizabeth agreed.

Mary Lambeth gave a small smile at her oldests. "I didn't say anything, did I?"

Her husband also smiled, then looked at William. "It'll be very boring for you. There won't be any children your own age to play with."

"I'll be good?"

"William, you can't go," Elizabeth snapped.

"Elizabeth, be nice," Mother scolded.

"Yes, Mother."

"So how are things at the University, John?" Father asked.

The table brought forth pleasant conversation. At the head of the table sat John Troy Lambeth, a tall, slightly stocky man with short chestnut hair turning grey at the temples and trimmed mustache. His brown eyes smiled dotingly on his family, especially the two eldest.

At his right was his son, John James Lambeth, a near splitting image of his father. The eighteen-year-old was wiry built with the blue eyes of his mother, a quick smile with perfect teeth. He went to the University of London, which was only a few streets away, allowing the son to regularly visit while getting his degree in law.

Next to him sat Elizabeth Margaret, his junior by only a year. Small and tiny, her tarnished gold hair curled in waves even within and from the intricate braid design she worn. Her eyes were blue, resting on defined cheekbones and above a pert nose. She was a near nothing like her parents except by Mother's build, hair, and eyes and Father's handling of issues.

Mother sat at the other end of the table, full rosy cheeks and dancing blue eyes while she watched her family, demure and delicate. With long straight hair that matched her daughter's, in her younger days she seemed akin to a missed placed goddess, and even now with the fine etchings of wrinkles from her smiles she still shone her inner beauty.

Upon her right sat the youngest Lambeth, five-year-old William. He was tiny with a mop of wavy blond hair like the women in the family and wide blue eyes. Between eating his dinner, he cast hopeful glances at the elders, desperately trying to fit into the group in a small way. He never had any interesting stories to tell, at least none interesting to the others. His siblings had busy separate lives and didn't want to hear about the litter of kittens he had found under the house steps or that he wrote him name in much better penmanship all by himself. Whenever he tried, Elizabeth would brush it aside as piffle, and he was lucky if John spared him a glance from his textbooks. Father was rarely at home, and Mum, although she doted on him, could barely make time to hear his adventures of the day. So, for great parts of the day, he was left alone and usually took to watching the servants and offering his help, which was always turned away.

Still, he tried to take part.

"Did you know-"

"William! Don't interrupt!" Elizabeth said sharply, then rolled her eyes slightly before turning back to her conversation.

e f e f e f

"William, don't interrupt!" Mr. Brown admonished, bristling at the young student. Actually, it wasn't so much that William had interrupted, but that William had corrected him. Correctly. "Write your letters," he ordered, changing the subject to one where the literate nine-year-old couldn't correct him.

William sighed lightly and picked up his quill, and started to write. He should have kept his mouth shut, he should have, but it was in the reading! Mr. Brown was wrong, and a gentleman should correct—OW! William drew back his hand, clutching it and looking up at Mr. Brown as he defiantly held the ruler.

"Mr. Lambeth, you know you're not supposed to write with the Devil's hand. I will break you of that," he said darkly.

With a small whimper, William picked up the quill with his right hand and tried to write with the neatness he mastered with his left. Mr. Brown watched him like a hawk.

e f e f e f

William gave a cry as he watched the hawk suddenly swooped and grabbed the rabbit he had been watching, turning away with sadness. He was only glad Kitty had disappeared to go get a carrot so she wouldn't have had to witness it, the way of life, predator and prey.

He shook his head as he stroked the horse and looked over the fields. Kitty and her picnics, why did he indulge her silly past time? He smiled slightly as his younger sister came ridding up, basket in hand.

"Where's the rabbit?"

William looked over to where the rabbit had been, then at his sister. "He went away."

"Something scared him?" she asked, tilting her head.


"I told you not to go by it!" she admonished with a laugh. "Seeing you gives me a fright all the time!"

William chuckled at her statement, at the thought of him being the hawk, swooping down to dine on the helpless creature. "Seeing you in the morning does the same to me too."

She scowled at him. Kitty was not known for being a morning person. "I'm going riding."

"Can I come along?" William smiled, mounting quickly.

She spurred the horse on. "No!"

e f e f e f

"Can I come?"

Mother laughed sweetly, pecking his cheek. "No, luv. Mrs. Travers doesn't have any children your age."

"But Lizzie's going," he countered hopelessly.

"She's going to meet with Mrs. Travers' son, Thomas," Mother said lightly, messing his hair. "How about tomorrow we go to the park?"

"Can we?" he asked.

"Mother!" Elizabeth smiled, stepping down the last stairs in her new dress. "Come, or we'll be late."

She smiled at her daughter, running her fingers through William's hair lovingly. "Yes, of course. Be good, William."

"I will, Mum," he promised, looking at Elizabeth's dress. "I like your dress. It's very pretty," he said shyly. Sometimes he just didn't know how to speak with his sister.

Elizabeth bared him a small smile. "He does have a way with words mother," she said lightly.

"Now, dear," Mother chastised, although she knew William hadn't taken offense to the statement, looking almost proud at the "compliment".

"Yes, thank you, William. Come, Mother."

William stood watching them go, then looked around the big empty house, hearing only a few servants.

e f e f e f

They all waited for the news expectantly, worry lacing everything. The air was tangible. Father leaped to his feet, everyone else a few seconds behind him, when the door opened.

The man shook his head, and Mother broke down crying . . .

e f e f e f

He wouldn't cry, he wouldn't cry, he wouldn't cry . . .

His bottom lip quivered in a pout. "It's okay, Mumma," he said softly.

"I'm sorry, William," Mother said sincerely. "I just don't think I can manage going to the park today. I just feel a little ill."

He nodded dumbly, biting his tongue to keep from throwing a fit in his Mother's presence. It would get him nowhere except en route to a few good lashings.

"Come here," Mother smiled holding out her arms, visibly seeing his hurt. William snuggled into her, tears starting to almost flow as his hair was petted and gently rocked. "We can read a bit, hmm?"

He nodded slightly, although he really wanted to go to the park.

e f e f e f

"Wass 'is one?" Kitty asked, pointing down to the book, then looking at her brother with wide hazel eyes.

"'The'," William smiled.

"'The'," Kitty repeated dutifully, then pointed to the next word. "Dis one?"



"Ra-bit," he accented.

"Like me!"

He clicked his tongue. "No. You're a Kitty, Katherine."

She meowed. "But I'mma Bit too!"

"You think you're money, do you?" he teased.

e f e f e f

"You think you're worth money, Little Bit?" William sighed.

Katherine frowned at him. "A good brother would buy me that candy," she tutted.

"I'm not a good brother."

"No," she agreed. "But I'm a good sister, and I deserve it."

"Good sisters do their studies."

"That's good students." She looked at him with wide eyes. "Please buy me the sweets," she pleaded, pouting.


Katherine smiled at him, watching him go over to the vendor. She knew he'd come back with two bags instead of one, even if she wasn't a good sister or he a good brother.

e f e f e f

"Stay close, William," John said off-handily, keeping half an eye on his youngest sibling.

William smiled happily walking a little ahead of the others and onto the grass. "I will, John."

John gave a small smile, then turned to look at Elizabeth as she scanned the area intently. "You look bloody silly, Elizabeth. Like a hawk."

She gave him a patronizing stare. "Mother said she thought Thomas might be in the park today. If you're any kind of decent brother and gentleman, you'll help me look."

He chuckled slightly. "I believe she told you so we'd take William out. She was too ill to take him, and she knew how much he wanted to go."

Elizabeth frowned, then turned her attention back to the fields. "Mother wouldn't have done that to me."

John shrugged slightly, then looked around for a brief glance, then doubled back. "Where did he go?"


He gripped her arm sharply. "You see William?"

"You lost your brother!"

"You helped, Elizabeth." His eyes scanned the area again, and he left out a breath. "There he is, next to the bench. I told him to stay close."

"William's—ohh! There's Thomas!" she squealed slightly, her gaze drifting pat her errant youngest brother. "I told you Mother wouldn't lie! Go introduce us!"

"No," John said wickedly, relishing in the fact that etiquette didn't allow his sister to express her own salutations without his help. "You lost William."

She jabbed him with her elbow. "I helped lose him. Mother set you in charge."

John flashed her a caviler smile, then nodded his head slightly to cause Elizabeth to look back at her admirer . . . who was walking towards them with William's hand in his. John noted after a brief run-over that the youngest had fallen, the subtle clue of a torn knee helping. He sighed.

"I believe this is yours, John," Thomas smiled, smiling down at the sniffling William.

"I did tell you to stay close, William," John admonished lightly, scooping the younger up. "Thank you, Thomas."

"Are you okay, William?" Elizabeth asked. William nodded his head slightly, pleased that his sister had taken notice of him. John interpreted the motive differently, the cynic.

"Thomas, I don't know if you've met my sister, Ms. Elizabeth Lambeth."

Elizabeth smiled, holding out her hand. "How do you do, Mr. Travers. Thank you for rescuing William."

"My pleasure, Ms. Lambeth," he smiled. "Perhaps I could accompany you around the park with your charge?"

e f e f e f

Dawn frowned, handing him another mug of blood. "I thought this was about you other sister, Kitty. Not Elizabeth." Dawn had the feeling she wouldn't have liked Spike's sister. She seemed too much like Buffy, only worse, but, like Buffy, Dawn had a feeling Elizabeth had been very important in the vampire's life, just by going by his voice.

He sipped. "Kitty wasn't born yet."

The Summers woman sighed. Spike's story had jumped around, following a topic, and then the next one that was related, however remotely, to it, and then the next. Katherine had been a few of his sidetracks. "Did they really slap your hand if you wrote with your left?"

He nodded, looking at the offending hand. "Yep. Tied it behind my back a few times. That's religion for you."

"You still write with your left."

"Course! I'm the Big Bad. Not going to let a few wankers tell me which bloody hand I have to write with."

Dawn had to remember that this was Spike telling the story, so he probably made a few exaggerations or mental blocking on what actually happened. He probably hadn't done the English equivalent to flipping Mr. Brown off.

"Right," she smiled, drinking her cocoa. Spike had insisted on her putting little marshmallows in his blood. "So did Lizzie marry Travers?" Why did that name sound familiar?

"Yep. On the . . ." His brow scrunched up momentarily, then sighed. "Some time in September, some bloody date. It rained that day."

"It's England. Doesn't it rain every day?"

"Hardy har har," he grumbled.

"So then what? After you kicked Travers in the knee at the park?" Dawn wondered if that actually happened, and risked a quick question. "You didn't actually kick him, did you?" she asked shrewdly.

His smiled guiltily, a blood mustache on his upper lip. "Nah. Tripped in front of him. Shoelace came out."

Thought so, Dawn smiled smugly. "Well?"

e f e f e f

"That's wonderful, Mother," Elizabeth said with an almost forced smile. It was wonderful news, she admitted, but with Mother . . .

"Yes, Mother," John admitted softly.

Mother smiled at them carefully, hands daintily on her lap and Father next to her.

William looked at the room. His Mother was with child, again. He wouldn't be the youngest. With the innocence of youth and naiveté, he asked, "Will this one stay and not go away?"

Both John and Elizabeth glared at him, Elizabeth hissing and John ready to shake him some sense into him.

Mother and Father understood, having explained to William last time, that the other had gone to play with God . . .

e f e f e f

"Mumma," three-year-old William murmured, rubbing his eyes sleepily and looking over to his crying mother as she sat in the rocking chair the resided in the nursery. ""s okay?"

She looked at him guiltily at having woken him up. "I'm fine, sweetie," she smiled, going over to pick him up and hold him.

"You better?" William remembered hearing her be in pain, and then crying. Father wouldn't let him go to her, nor Elizabeth or John. To the perceptive toddler, something was amiss in the home.


He was quiet as she rocked him. "'ere's the baby?" he asked softly.

Mother froze slightly, faltering in her rocking and petting. She didn't want to remember. "He went away, dear."


She was silent a moment. "To play with God."

William looked up at his mother with wide eyes. "When he come back?"

She kissed his forehead. "He's not coming back, dear. He's going to play with Mummy's other babes . . ." She held him closer and tighter, rocking faster. "With mummy's others."

"Dey happy?"

"Of course, William. They're with the Lord." Her voice was tight.

"Why 'sn't you happy?"

So perceptive, Mother couldn't help but marvel. John and Elizabeth hadn't been this quick. "Mummy just wished they could have stayed a while, that's all. Like you did." She sniffed.

William was quiet, pondering this over in his child mind. "Wha games they pway?"

Mother gave a choked laughed, the proceeded to names the games one would play with the Lord and all the angels . . .

e f e f e f

Mother smiled slightly at William. "With a little bit of luck, yes, William."

"A little bit," he repeated carefully.

e f e f e f

"What are you doing, William?" Elizabeth demanded wearily as he scoured the yard.

"Looking for luck."

She frowned at him. "You are a strange boy. Get in the house and get cleaned up."

William looked up at his sister. He should ask John. John went to University. "What does 'luck' look like?"

Elizabeth furred her brows at him in confusion. "William . . ." She sighed, shaking her head. "Beyond help," she murmured. "Well, if we knew what she looked like, we could ask her."

"Luck is a girl?" he asked in disbelief. Wow, he was going to have a sister.

They had just gotten home from church, hence her inspiration. "Yes. An angel, one the Lord sends to us when we're good. And if you don't get in here, your luck will run out."

Elizabeth was shocked at how fast her brother complied with her wish. "Mother!" she called. "I think William's ill!"

e f e f e f

"Lizzie married Thomas. I was the bloody ring child-boy-whatever, dolled up in the bloody suit and all, with the soddin' little pillow. 's not funny!"

Dawn snickered, more at his indignation than the mental image her mind produced. "I'm sure you looked very cute."

Spike pushed himself up. "Do you have any idea how many soddin' old biddies pinched my cheeks and said that!" he demanded, outraged at the memory "It bloody hurt!" He was massaging his cheeks as if they still pained him.

"Poor Spike," she smirked.

"Shuddup." He crossed his arms heavily over his chest and slouched down in a pout, refusing to speak or look at Dawn.

She smiled at his tantrum, making a note in her notebook at his reaction. She learned more by watching his actions than just listening to his words.

"So Tom and Lizzie lived happily ever after?" she asked lightly, smiling that she could put in that old cliché. Every story had to have it.


Dawn's held shot up at the pain in his voice. He was clenching his jaw, eyes closed. "Three years."

"What happened?" Dawn asked carefully.

"She died. What did you bloody think happened!" he spat, and Dawn recoiled.

"You don—"

"Some ruddy horse kicked her!" he screamed. "Third trimester!"

e f e f e f

The doctor had been in there so long.

William looked in the room from his hiding place. He was supposed to be asleep like Katherine, but there had been so much noise. (And he was ten years old! That was almost an adult!) John had been pacing and near tears. (His brother never cried!) Mother was held by Father, Thomas stone-ridge in the chair, emotionless.

Something (or someone, he would later bitterly believe) had startled the horse, that much William understood. Lizzie had been hurt, kicked right in the stomach. She had bled, bled and bled a lot. So much blood . . .

Blood was life. The Lord gave us his Blood for our sins, Elizabeth gave her blood to the baby. No blood . . .

His nephew had been lost only a few hours after it happened . . .

His name was going to be George William Travers. Elizabeth really did love him, despite her harsh treatment towards him.

She had loved him . . .

No!! She love him . . . except that's not proper grammar. But no past tense. Lizzie's fine, she'll be all right!

Blood was life . . . no blood, no life. Lizzie told him that once, to explain why the kitten didn't wake up.

e f e f e f

"William, leave it," she whispered, holding him back from going to the tiny corpse in the road.

"She hurt!" he wailed.

Hard Elizabeth could break. "I know, William. Leave her."

"No! Kitty!"

Elizabeth forced him to look at her, her blue eyes matching his. "Kitty's not coming back. She's dead."

He turned his head and pointed. "She's sleeping!" She was a lazy kitty. She always slept.

She brushed his hair. "Yes, she is, William. Let her sleep." Even hard Elizabeth could be gentle.

"She's bleeding!"

"William . . . She's lost too much. She's hurt too much."

"We'll bandage her!"

She shook her head sadly. "No, William, no. Without blood, Kitty's not going to live."

"We'll put it back in her!" he sobbed.

Even Elizabeth could be wise. "Blood is life. The Lord gave his blood to us to let us live. He couldn't take it back. The kitty can't take it back."

He sobbed. "Why? The Lord still came back."

"Yes, he did," she agreed softly. "But the Lord is special. But Death is Life. Everything that lives must die eventually. And then they go to Heaven, if they've been good."

"Kitty wasn't good! You said so," William wailed, and Elizabeth quickly back-pedaled.

"Kitty was a good kitty, just very naughty. There's a difference."

"Kitty," he sniffed, staring forlornly at his kitten that he wasn't supposed to have. The Lord agreed and saw to it. "Is my fault."

"Stay here," Elizabeth whispered in his ear, disappearing into the house for what seemed a moment. William obeyed, then watched as she walked down the steps, picked up his kitten, and walked back towards him. The kitty was covered in one of Elizabeth's best cloths, blood already soaking through.

Even Elizabeth could be understanding.

They buried the kitten in the garden. Elizabeth dirtied her dress, and together they said a proper prayer. Then Elizabeth wiped his eyes, took his hand, and smiled softly at him.

"Let's go have some hot chocolate. Did you know John and I always used to break apart those candies Mum gives you for coughs? Comes from the marshmallow plant, John says . . ."

Even Elizabeth could comfort.

e f e f e f

He had started to cry . . . he had been found . . . John found him. William had backed away, afraid of the wrath his brother would show at being disobedient, but instead John and gathered him up in a giant hug and cried with him. William had been allowed to sit in the room and wait for the doctor's word.

They all waited for the news expectantly, worry lacing everything. The air was tangible. Father leaped to his feet, everyone else a few seconds behind him, when the door opened.

"I'm sorry," the doctor whispered, shaking his head. "There's nothing I can do."

Mother broke down crying, hugging Father, and William clung to John, who was suddenly so very stiff.

"You'd best go in to see her now."

e f e f e f

Elizabeth was so pale, cold. William held her hand. "I love you, too," he whispered. "Come back, Lizzie."

She slept on . . .

She had lost so much blood . . .

e f e f e f

Even Elizabeth could die . . .

e f e f e f

The coffin was lowered into the ground. William couldn't even remember the day. It was a blur. Talking . . . crying . . . hushed voices . . . comfort words . . . meaningless.

He clung to his parents. His mother was beside her self. Another child lost, sent to play with God. A grandson sent along the way as well.

William decided God was a very greedy person, but didn't say it. Not today . . . Lizzie wouldn't like it. Lizzie put much faith in the Lord and the Devil's trickery.

e f e f e f

"Stupid sod," Elizabeth muttered.

William sat next to her, craning his neck to look at the book his sister was reading. Her worn Bible.

"That is rude, William," she scolded sharply, snapping the book shut and looking at him through dagger eyes.

"Yes, Elizabeth. Who's the stupid sod?"

"Abraham," she snorted.

Elizabeth rarely called anyone in the Book a stupid sod, and he struggled to remember what Abraham had done to deserve the title. "He, umm, he . . ."

"Was going to sacrifice his son Issac to prove his faith to God," she finished darkly, both at the passage and at her brother's lack of Bible familiarity.


That got a smile. "Yes. Twenty-two, nine."

William sat, confused at his sister's reaction. "He proved his faith."

"By offering his own son? Disobeying one of the Commandments?"

"But that was in Exodus, by Moses," William said carefully. "There weren't any of the Commandments in Genesis."

Elizabeth sighed her world-weary sigh. "Do you think the Lord just made up the Commandments on the spot, just for Moses? They always existed! It is how the Lord judges us, how he always had. He knew his own Commandments, even if he hadn't spoken them to Abraham. He is one in all time. He had spoken them."

William crinkled his brow. "But God set to test Abraham's faith."

"Devil's trickery. The Lord would never have one prove their faith by killing another, against his own Word. No, William, the Devil spoke to Abraham," she stated, firmly believing it.

"God stopped the sacrifice, though. Abraham had proven himself."

"God saved him. HE knew Abraham had been tricked by the Devil and was doing the task in good faith. Lucifer had tricked him, and the Lord came to his rescue.

"The Lord would never ask us to kill someone to prove faith, not a good and just person, whom one loved deeply."

"But one should only be loyal to God."

"Says who?" she questioned drawing forward, and William drew back. She smiled, knowing what he had meant. "We need one another. For some, being alone would bring us closer, but for most of us, we would only hear the Devil's words all the more clearly.

"If we are good, loyal Christians, we are good in God's ever-seeing eye."

William was quiet, then looked at Elizabeth for an answer. "What about the police?"

Her head tilted in confusion. "What about them?"

"Sometimes they kill. Accidentally, sometimes, but sometimes not. John said so," he added quickly.

"Sometimes murder must happen," she smiled softly, the fire in her eyes slowing diminishing. "To kill to survive, to keep from being killed, I think the Lord would understand. We are only protecting one of our greatest gifts from him. Life."

"But you said . . ." William said helplessly.

"'Thou shall not kill,'" she nodded. "But not kill what? Can we say a lion or wolf is evil because it kills in order to survive? Can we say the murder was wrong if it saves people who would have died if the man had been left to live?"

"The wolf kills a lot," William said, shuddering at the vivid tales his siblings had told him, against Mother's wishes. Little children, lost in the woods, sharp teeth, blood, screams, more blood . . .

"To survive, William. To survive."

e f e f e f

"Am I a wolf?" Spike murmured so quietly that Dawn almost failed to hear.

e f e f e f

"God tests our faith, William, in more ways than one, but never against his Commandments. Sometimes we have to break them, but God knows what's in our heart. We can break the Commandments, we just can't go against them."

William looked at her hopelessly, not understanding.

e f e f e f

Katherine was too young to truly understand. Mother clung to her like a lifeline, Father to John and him like last ties.

So much pain for two people.

So much pain for one family . . .

Elizabeth Margaret Travers

Lovely Wife, Cherished Daughter, Mother


Next to her grave was:

George William Travers—Son, 1865

e f e f e f

Dawn tried to hold back the tears. Spike had spoken so passionately about the events, about his sister who acted like he had been a plague on her life. "What happened to Tom?" she asked shakily. She needed follow-up.

Spike snorted dangerously, like a bull ready to charge. "Oh, he bloody well moved on, course. Kind of forgot 'bout us, married some soddin' bint as soon as it was proper. Never visited us; took Lizzie's money and ran. Always wanted to kill him after I got vamped. Never found him. I don't think he ever visited her soddin' grave."

Whipping her eyes with the back of her hand, Dawn stated, "He sounds like a jerk."

The vampire didn't respond to her words, lying back and closing his eyes.

"I remember when Buffy died," Dawn whispered. "You must have—"

"You get over it. You move on," he said curtly.

Dawn didn't say anymore on the subject. "We can stop, now, if you want."

He dug out a cigarette, lit it up, then cursed, quickly looking around for something to extinguish it. Buffy didn't want him smoking in the house. He wasn't housebroken; he was a guest. Guests have manners. "Huh, what, Nibblet?" he asked, pounding the fag against some papers.

"Spike . . ."

He looked at her with the glassy blue eyes and smiled slightly. "You wanted to hear about Kitty, right? Sorry, my bloody mouth goes off on a tangent."

Dawn shifted in her seat, suddenly feeling guilty. This wasn't what she expected, it really wasn't right for her to have Spike relive his past without his true consent, with his drugged state. . . . It was wrong. She shifted, starting to move.

"I was a silly bugger when Mum had her preggers with Kitty," Spike smiled, smoking on the unlit fag.

She settled back down dumbly and listened.

"Followed her around like a pup, gave her little things for 'luck' . . ."

e f e f e f

"Thank you, William," Mother said carefully, accepting the penny with a confused look.

"I found that," he said importantly. "And picked it up."

Mother smiled. "Why don't you find some more?"


e f e f e f

"Go somewhere else, Kitty," William said, shooing the black cat away.

The cat pierced him with its green eyes, the sprinted away in the opposite way.

William, pleased with himself, ran back inside.

e f e f e f

"I think he's lost it," Elizabeth said to her brother.

"What's he looking for?" John asked, watching as William crawled around the yard, looking under bushes and between blades of grass.

"I have no idea!" Elizabeth stated. "I thought it was a guy thing."

John spared her a look, then called out, "William, stop crawling around in the dirt and get in here!"

It took the youngest a few minutes to comply, and he came up to them with a handful of the lawn.

"Look at your clothes," Elizabeth scolded. "Go get cleaned up now."

He nodded, and rushed in.

John looked at Elizabeth. "Why does he have all that clover?"

"I don't know. He's your brother."

"Yours too."

"Only when he's sane."

e f e f e f

"Bedtime, William," Mother smiled, coming in slowly.

"I'm saying my prayers," he stated.

Mother smiled, knowing he had been saying his prayers for the past several minutes. "I'm sure the Lord's heard enough from you for one night. Into bed."

William complied with only a small frown, under the covers and letting his mother tuck him in. He looked at his mother's large stomach with critiquing eyes. "Do you think our bit of luck is good?"

It took Mother a few moments to understand him, but she touched her stomach. "I think he's doing fine."

William sat up like a shot. "She's a girl, Mum!"

Mother gave a smile, eyes dancing. "Oh, really?"

"Yes!" he stated, like she asking if the sky was really blue and couldn't believe her silliness.

"I'll take your word for it," she laughed, ruffling his hair and hugging him.

e f e f e f

"She kicked me!" he yelped drawing back his hand.

"Sisters always beat up their brothers," Elizabeth laughed, looking up from her sewing. "Get used to it."

William frowned at her. "Nah uh."

"Uh huh. Ask John next time he visits."

Mother smiled, remembering herself, then took William's hand. She didn't understand why he insisted the baby was a girl, but the family went along with it humorously. Father and she had tried to warn William not to get his hopes up too high, things happen during birth, (didn't she know it?) but William would hear none of it. She hoped for his sake everything did turn out okay. "She's just saying hi."

"She's wearing your guard down," Elizabeth corrected in singsong.

William stuck out his tongue, then turned his attention to feeling his sister kick and punch him.

e f e f e f

Her heart beats so fast.

e f e f e f

"You we're right, William," Mother smiled, showing the tiny baby to what used to be her youngest.

"Don't let it go to your head," John smiled, smiling down at the newest addition.

Elizabeth's eyes softened. "What's her name, Mother?"

"Katherine Marie."

William's eyes were wide, watching his little sister. They were right. Luck was small. "Little Bit," he cooed, touching her carefully.

"Tiny thing she was," Spike smiled faintly, looking beyond Dawn. "I think she was premature or something, but so perfect. For a sister, anyway."

Dawn gave him a look, then chuckled her agreement. "Did John ever get married?"

"Nah, died for he got the chance."

She winced.

"Shot by some wanker who was pissed off that he was such a good lawyer when I was fifteen. Anne, his fiancée, 'most fell part." He sighed, shaking his head. "Liked her. Nice bint, loved him, hard to believe. Never married, died of TB in her late thirties."


He waved a hand. "Don't be. She always came over on Friday afternoons for tea, and Mum told her she should try and find another man. Anne wouldn't. Stubborn. Loyal. Went to his grave on the anniversaries and his birthday. She identified his body, you know? Constable found his body in the alley, he had her name on a pressie for her, and she was called to identified him." He was quiet for a moment. "She was very distant, and her glove had blood on it."

e f e f e f

"Have some tea, dear," Mother whispered as Anne sat stiffly, unable to try or move.

"Thank you," she said softly, a hand on the table. The blood stained the table cover.

William hugged Katherine while she cried in his shirt, watching as Mother tried to be strong for Anne, even though she wanted to break down now as well. How could his mum be so strong, when he wanted to just curl up and die?

"Would you like me to take your gloves, dear?"

Anne jolted and looked at her ruined clothing. "No. No."

e f e f e f

"I think Mum kind of lost it, too. Think she thought she was cursed or something. All her babes, Elizabeth, then Dad, now John, later me."

"Your Father died too?"

"In his sleep, little over a year after Elizabeth."

e f e f e f

A scream pierced the morning, and William sat bolt up in bed. He started to shake as the wail filled the air, and Katherine soon joined in, and all he could do was cover up his ears and tremble.

e f e f e f

"Mum got really clingy after that. I was too young to run Father's business, and John had his own practice, so my uncle took over. Kitty and I were nearly always in Mum's sight, had to be bundled up for we could go outside. John was lucky. He was old and out the house, but Anne did make his life a bit of hell, I suppose. Later, both her and Mum ganged up on both of us. Auntie Anne and Mum, worse than the police, Kitty always said." He chuckled. "She was right.

"Me and Kitty were pair like John and Elizabeth were, except I think more trouble. I let her do anything, while John had always kept Lizzie out of trouble. And we were the youngest, so we could get away with bloody murder. One time . . ."

e f e f e f

"Wills, help me!" Katherine gasped.

William gawked at her as he stepped into the kitchen. Flour was everywhere, cooking pots and utensils everywhere. "Katherine Marie! What are you doing!"

She looked at him happily, flour dabbing her nose, cheeks, and hair like snow. "I'm making a cake!" she explained and she dug her hands in the flour bag.

"Why didn't you have one of the servants do it?" he asked as he took the bag of flour away from her.

Katherine clapped her hands, giggling at the cloud of powder that appeared. "It's Father's birthday, Wills!"

"I know that," William responded, holding back a sneeze. "We got him—"

"I'm making him a cake."

"You're making him a mess," he corrected.

"Help me," she pleaded, batting her eyes. "I can't read the book." She pointed towards the cookbook, which was opened to a picture of a cake.

William shook his head, turned the book over to the right way up, and then flipped to an actual cake recipe. "We need eggs."

"I used them all." Katherine pointed to the inside of the bowl.


"Here!" Katherine understood Sugar had an 'S'. Of course, William found after a taste, so did salt.

"Flour, er, big check there."

"Yep!" Before he could stop her, Katherine had buried her hands back in the bag and threw them up, making a shower of flour. "It's snowing!"

He was covered in flour. "You bloody pest!" he exclaimed banging his clothes.

"And we need milk!" Katherine stated, finishing the list of ingredients to her knowledge, holding the pitcher. "Meow! I'm a kitty!" she said, trying to drink some.

"You're a bleedin' awful naughty kitty, Katherine!" he yelled as some milk spilt on him.

Her eyes narrowed. "You're being mean, Wills!" she pouted, setting the milk down.


Katherine scowled, then grabbed her bowl with the cake mix and dumped it right over his head. "Big meanie!"

He turned on her, eggs, flour, and who-knows-what-else dripped down, eyes blaring. "KATHERINE!" he roared, rushing towards her.

She squeaked and ducked from his grasp, then proceeded to laugh. "You look funny!"

"Yuk it up, you bloody—!"


Both froze for a moment, then went to the obvious way of defense.

"It's her fault!"

"He made the mess!"

From Father's yell, the other guests quickly appeared and gawked at the mess.

"William!" Elizabeth scolded.

"She did it!" he said helplessly.

"Katherine," Mother scowled.

Father glared down at them, and Katherine bent down to retrieved the bowl.

"Happy birthday?"

John was the first to start laughing as he surveyed the mess and children. He couldn't help himself, and tears were streaming down his cheeks. The others soon followed suit, and William and Katherine looked at each other. As one, they slowly started to make their escape from the obviously disturbed company they kept.

Both eeped when Father set heavy hands on their shoulders, flour clouds forming and goo splattering. "And where do you think you two are going?"

e f e f e f

"We had to clean the whole bloody kitchen," Spike scowled at the memory. "It was all Kitty's fault."

"Sure." Dawn laughed slightly. Truth be told, she didn't believe the Spike-rendition. He had probably been just as much a cause.

"Don't believe me, then," he spat. "One time she spooked our horses so bad they ran off and we had to walk back to the bloody stables. Five miles, in the bleeding snow. Troublesome pest."

"But you loved her," Dawn said lightly.

"Nah. She was my sister. Didn't have to love her. Had to put up with her, though."

e f e f e f

"William!" she called, running across the hall to get to him. She stopped in front of him, and just as his mouth was going to open, she snapped, "Say one word about lady-like, and I shall kick you in the bloody shin."

"Not a word," he grinned. "What, Bit?"

"Need your help!"

"Beyond my help."

She socked him hard in the arm, and he winced. She had a damn hell good arm. "You're mean."

"Ow. You hit too hard."

"Sissy. Few months off studying, and you're a wuss."

"Thank you." He fixed his glasses, then looked at her. "What do you need my help with now?"

"I'm going to a ball Saturday! You have to practice dancing with me, idiot."

"Oh, yes, why else would you need me? To practice stepping on toes, of course."

Katherine punched him again. "I'm getting better!"

"At stepping on them?" he teased.

"It's your fault, you know," she sniffed. "If you hadn't let me dance on your feet when I was younger, I wouldn't have this silly habit."

"Ah, yes, everything is my fault."

"It is, Wills. Now come on." She yanked his arm, causing him to drop his books, and dragged him away.

"Kitty! Lady-like! No wonder no one except me'll dances with you!" he laughed.

"They'll dance with me," she stated, winding the music.

"And why?"

She scowled at him, then smiled daintily, curtsying as the music started. "Cause I'm a lady, that's why," she cooed.

They danced for a moment, William wincing as his toes got routinely crushed. "A lady?" he snorted. "You're nothing but a sister to me."

She purposely crushed his foot hard. "A lady-like sister."

"In you're little world, Kitty. In your world."

e f e f e f

"No!" Kitty squealed, running around the table.

"Give it back, Bit!" William demanded somewhat frantically.

"I wanna read it!" she laughed as the table separated them, opening the book and clearing her throat. "'Armor of starlight/ Sword of—' AHH!"

William had dived across the table, and Katherine ducked under, giggling and crawling away, jumping up to run away again. "Katherine!"

"Ooh, this one! 'The Heart beats under—'" Her eyes suddenly moved faster over the page, and she gaped at him. "William!" She laughed at him, then harder at his change in shade.

"Give me the book!" he demanded.

"You're kidding me, Wills! I'm going to print this up all over London! Women will swoon—Ack!" They started running again, Katherine jumped over the furniture as much as she could in her dress

William managed to grab Katherine because her clothing did slow her up, and he hoisted her in the air. Katherine laughed maniacally, kicking her feet and trying to get away.

"Recite me one of your poems, William!" she laughed, speaking in a swoony voice.

He gritted his teeth. "Give me the book."

She clutched it to her chest. "No. Never! I must spend hours being soppy over pretty poetry!"


Her foot managed to connect with his shin, and he dropped her. Katherine jogged ahead, then curtsied. "Write me a poem, Dear Master Lambeth, just for me!" she spoke in her swoony voice, then gathered her skirts and started to run again.

"'How will I kill thee, Kitty! Let me count the bloody ways!'"

"I'm swooning already!"

e f e f e f

Elizabeth painted and sewed, John did law. Those were given.

For William and Katherine, it was taken on good faith that he played the piano and she sang.

Actually, William could play the piano quite well, although he didn't care to. Mother had wanted a child in music. Father did not wish John to be in music, and Elizabeth had explained in as lady-like terms as she could that she was not going to sing anywhere outside the choir. There would be no lessons. Hence the desire had fallen onto William, and then later Katherine.

William took the playing serious, although he always dreaded the boring lessons. Katherine, on the other hand, delved into attention, loved the ability to be in the limelight. She couldn't sing to save her life, William thought, just as she thought he couldn't play a chord or scale.

"Oh, how I wish I couldn't hear," William winced as Katherine tried to go an octave higher than what she could.

Katherine ignored him, sprawling out her music onto the top of the grand piano.

"You know what, Wills?" she said as he practiced a few chorales.

"What, Kitty?"

The ten-year-old looked at him with serious eyes. "We should write something."

"Hmm?" he asked vaguely, intently looking at the music.

"A music piece. I'll right the words, and you can write the music!"

William looked at her from over the top of her glasses. "I'd rather not."

"Please? It'd be a really pretty piece." She danced around, twirling. "And we can play it for the Queen and be famous and rich and . . ."

Her brother shook his head, tuning her out and intently staring at the notes. Only forty-nine more minutes before the practice was over. He could tune out Kitty's silly prattle about her idea that long.


She almost granted his wish about being unable to hear as she screamed in his ear.

e f e f e f

"Oh, oh, whose he?"

"John Ashton. You wouldn't like him, Bit," William smiled.

Katherine watched as the dashingly handsome guy walked past. "Wouldn't be too sure of that," she muttered, but didn't press an introduction. "Him?"

"Robert Car—"

"Him! Him!"

"William Turnip."


"Kitty," he said warning.

"You're a turnip!"

"Grow up."

e f e f e f

"You like her," Katherine teased.

He hoped he wasn't blushing. "Of course not."

"You do, you do!" she squealed. "Go write her some of your wonderful poetry."

e f e f e f

"You can't like her!" Katherine stated, stomping her foot.

William blinked and looked at her. "What?"

"You can't like that bint! She's all nilly-willy. She doesn't even read."

"And if I do like her?"

Katherine glared at him. "Then I shall beat you on the head with your own bloody poetry book until you get some sense!"

e f e f e f

They walked into the hall.

"You can't like her. She sleeps around. Wipe that smile off."

"I wasn't smiling."

"You can't like her either. She's not good enough for you."


"And you can't like her. She spilt tea on me. She's clumsy. You'd be dead in a week."

"You can't like him."

Katherine turned and looked at her brother. "William! He's cute!"

e f e f e f

"I don't want this horse. I want that one."

William sighed and looked at his sister's choice. "He's too big for you."

"So? I can ride him."

"No, you can fall off him. This one."

e f e f e f

Katherine scowled. "I hate you."

"I know. I hate you, too."

e f e f e f

Spike sighed, leaning down in the couch again, a small smile on his face. "Kitty was a nonce."

Dawn shook her head. Kitty sounded like a handful. She must have been heartbroken when Spike got Turned. Angel's sister . . . She paled slightly. "Spike, what happened to her after you got Turned?"

He waved a hand. "Oh, she married some ponce named John Morrison. I thought I told her she couldn't like him, and the second my back is turned, she married him. Had three kids. Died in 1921."

She relaxed. "Must have been terrible for her, thinking you were dead. And your mom."

Spike shrugged. "Not really. Kitty ended up knowing I was a vampire, and Mum got a little closure. I was going to go be all big and evil by killing them." He shook his head, looking away. "Couldn't do it."


He sat up. "I had every bloody intention of killing them, Bit," he snapped, waving a finger at her in a scolding gesture. "I'm big and evil!"

"But you didn't."

He opened his mouth, then snapped it closed. "No. I didn't. Said I did, but didn't. Then got out of London as soon as possible by killing as many people as possible."

"To protect them?"

"Maybe," Spike said diffidently.

e f e f e f

"Now you be a good boy," Katherine teased, fixing his lapels. "And you should fix your tie."

"I knew stopping by was a bad choice," William smiled.

"No fighting with the other poets."

"Uh-huh, Kitty."

Katherine stepped back, placing her hands on her hips and studying him intently. "And no wasting paper and ink on Cecily," she ordered with a sniff. "She isn't worth it."

He blushed, shaking his head.

"You listen to me!" Katherine scolded. "She's nasty and vain. Don't pine on her. Find a nice girl who deserves you. Just make sure you have my permission first."

He kissed her forehead. "Only if you pay me the same curtsey. Good night, Little Bit."

"Have a nice time!"

e f e f e f

Of course William had no intention of actually listening to Katherine, who, in the like, paid him no mind. "Luminous... oh, no, no, no. Irradiant's better."

"Care for an hors d'oeuvre, sir?"

Kitty was always great help with finding words, when he dared seek her and her teasing ridicule ("True poets don't ask their little sisters for help, Wills!") out. Second opinions were important, she believed, so long as they were good. If anyone badmouthed his poetry, Kitty firmly believed he should knock them senseless. "Oh, quickly! I'm the very spirit of vexation. What's another word for 'gleaming'? It's a perfectly perfect word as many words go but the bother is nothing rhymes, you see."

Not everyone was as helpful as Kitty, he thought, and the waiter moved away. William paid it no mind, suddenly spying Cecily. "Cecily . . ."

Kitty would have smacked him royally for the words that came out of his words, even though she said it all the time. "I prefer placing my energies into creating things of beauty."

Percy grinned, grabbing the papers that housed his latest travesty of poetry. (Unlike Kitty, William knew the full worth of his poetry. Kitty said that's because idiots influenced his opinion of his work.) "I see. Well, don't withhold, William."

Sarah agreed lightly. "Rescue us from a dreary topic."

He tried to get his poems back like a small boy in the schoolyard trying to get his toy. "The inks are still wet. Please, it's not finished," he said meekly, hopeless and doomed. Even Kitty never read his poetry if it wasn't finished, because then he had no excuse for it being silly.

Percy smiled evilly. "Don't be shy. 'My heart expands/'tis grown a bulge in it/inspired by your beauty, effulgent.'" He chuckled, much to William's embarrassment. "Effulgent?"

The others joined in the laughter. He shouldn't have made up the word, but Katherine said Shakespeare made up words all the time, so he could too. (It had taken him quite a while to actually do just that, and mostly he didn't. Pity he started now.) Sometimes, she sighed, there weren't enough words in the English language, and they had to pay the poets to make more up. Unfortunately, Kitty wasn't here.

Cecily had looked over at him, then stalked away. With a glare at Percy, he grabbed his poems and followed, hoping to apologize or something. The words from behind him stuck in his ears.

"And that's actually one of his better compositions," John commented.

Mary followed suit. "Have you heard? They call him William the Bloody because of his bloody awful poetry!"

Percy finished with a final stab. "It suits him. I'd rather have a railroad spike through my head than listen to that awful stuff!"

William carefully moved over to Cecily as she sat on the sofa, looking away from the party. "Cecily?"

When she say that it was him, she gave a world-weary sigh. "Oh. Leave me alone."

He tried to dismiss the others to make her feel better. "Oh, they're vulgarians. They're not like you and I."

She was startled. "You and I? I'm going to ask you a very personal question and I demand an honest answer. Do you understand?" He nodded, completely understanding. "Your poetry, it's... they're... not written about me, are they?"

"They're about how I feel."

"Yes, but are they about me?"

"Every syllable."

"Oh, God!"

William, the ever fool he was, misunderstood the statement. "Oh, I know . . . it's sudden and . . . please, if they're no good, they're only words but . . . the feeling behind them . . . I love you, Cecily."

"Please stop!" Kitty said that all the time when he recited his poems, but she only teased and always asked him to reread it again.

He tried again. "I know I'm a bad poet but I'm a good man and all I ask is that . . . that you try to see me—"

"I do see you. That's the problem. You're nothing to me, William." She stood up and looked down at him in a way that would make him years later think that Kitty would say as trying to give faulty airs, full of bad acting. "You're beneath me." William watched, devastated, as she walked off.

e f e f e f

Part, a small part, of him realized Kitty had been right that Cecily was too vain and proud for her own good, waiting for the golden life that may never seek her out. (Especially if it was smart.) But right now he tore up his poetry, the terrible words in awful junction with each other, and wept.

"And I wonder, what possible catastrophe came crashing down from heaven and brought this dashing stranger to tears?"

He had jumped at the voice. "Nothing. I wish to be alone."

She moved slowly in ethereal beauty. "I see you. You're a man surrounded by fools who cannot see his strength. His vision. His glory. That and burning baby fish swimming all round your head."

Quickly, he moved off the bale and way. "That's quite close enough," he stated, trying to keep his voice from shaking. "I've heard tales of London pickpockets. You'll not be getting my purse, I tell you."

The dark-haired woman smiled and bowed. "Don't need a purse. Your wealth lies here . . ." a hand to his heart "and here" and one to his head. "In the spirit and . . . imagination. You walk in worlds the others can't begin to imagine."

William couldn't believe her words, so insightful and beautiful. It was like she could see him. "Oh, yes! I mean, no. I mean . . . mother's expecting me." She had wanted him to . . . to do something rather important, so important he couldn't remember right now.

She moved closer, hypnotizing him in her quiet smooth ways. Then she toyed with the collar of his shirt, and had he stepped into a dream? "I see what you want. Something glowing and glistening. Something . . ." She paused, pondering, then met his eye. "Effulgent."

The very word that caused him his humiliation. "Effulgent," he whispered back, smiling. She was like him, understood him . . . she was effulgent . . . another word in the English language . . .

"Do you want it?" she murmured.

Whatever it was . . . whatever it meant . . . he wanted it. Her. "Yes," he breathed, touching her slightly. "Gods, yes." Effulgent . . .

She had looked down, and then reappeared different. He blinked in surprised, but did nothing to hinder her path to his neck, his blood and life.

There had been blasting pain, and then pleasure effulgent.

Whatever that blasted word meant.

e f e f e f

William Ashley Lambeth was dead, and in his stead was the vampire. He grinned evilly, twirling the railroad spike. Bet you wish you never said that, huh? he mused, strolling out of the alley smirking.

William had been pathetic, a sod that wouldn't even be missed. He was nothing. The vampire wanted nothing to do with him, nothing. William never existed; he was so pathetic, with his bloody awful poetry and sappy way. Everyone that could attest that William existed had to be annihilated.



It had been embarrassing that he had forgotten about his family. Angelus had killed his family almost immediately, and William hadn't even thought about his. Out of sight, out of mind, as it were. Now he stalked a new prey.

He looked up at his house on the corner of Thornhaugh Street and Chenies Street. The light was still on upstairs in Kitty's room, and he smiled wickedly. She'd be frantic. He had been missing a week, and there have been all those murders around, I wonder why? The servants would be in their own homes, no extra problems.

William gathered some stones and tossed them lightly at the window, still marveling at his new strength. It took several stones before a familiar figure appeared in the window and looked down. He waved cheekily, and the figure suddenly vanished.

Within seconds the door was opened, a disheveled Katherine standing there in her nightgown. "William!" she exclaimed, near tears. "You're all right."

"Of course."

Then she frowned at him. "Get in here right now so I can give you a whollop you'll never forget!" He laughed at the invitation, quickly strolling up and inside, watching amused as Katherine shut the door. "Cold outside."

"I hadn't noticed."

She whirled on him. "Where have you been!?" she hissed. "Mum and I have been sick with worry!"

He smiled dangerously. "Come now, Ki—"

"And where are your glas—Is that blood?!" she screeched, and William looked towards where her gaze landed.

"Why, yes, I think so," he said calmly. "I ran into a small fight. I'm not hurt."

Katherine looked at him speechless, then waved her hands at him in disgust. "Ohh, you! I should throw you back out!"

"Why don't you?"

"What the bloody hell is wrong with you, William?" she asked suspiciously. "Get a knock on the head or something from running the opposite way of the brawl."

"Or something," he grinned dangerously, although his fists clenched on his sides with mention of his former cowardice.

Her brows knitted together, a frown plastering. "You should get to bed, you bloody awful brother. Why do I put up with you?" she demanded, looking up at the unseen deity as she walked away. William followed her with light footsteps.

He had been surprised when, having followed her into her room at her motion, a book came flying at his head. He caught it easily, vampire reflexes to be thanked, and saw that it was a book of his poems. He raised an eyebrow at her.

"It's yours," she snapped, sitting down at the vanity and brushing her hair angrily. "Now go away."

He set it on her dresser, disgusted with the book. "Don't you want to know where I was this past week? What happened?"


He moved behind her, vampire features slipping on as his senses tasted her blood, smelt her blood . . . "Really? Why not?"

"Because I hate you!"

He was right behind her. "And I hate you too," he whispered in her ear.

She froze, eyes growing wide in the mirror. He smiled. She knew he was right behind her, but she couldn't see him. "William?" she whispered.

"Hmm?" he responded dreamily, hearing her heart race, eyeing her neck, the blood just pumping away.

"What happened to you?"

"I died."

Her reply was faint. "Oh." She made no motion to turn and look at him, eyes still wide in the lonely mirror.

"Don't you want to know how?"

She said nothing, closing her eyes tightly.

William frowned. This was no fun. There was supposed to be screaming and panicking, like those in the alley had done. "Aren't you scared?" he demanded, turning her harshly. Her eyes were still closed. "Look at me!"

Katherine, for once in her life, listened to him, and her eyes opened and look upon his new face. He hissed. There was no fear . . . only pity. Kitty had never given him pity. He slapped her hard across the face hard enough to leave damaging bruise.

"Why aren't you scared?" he demanded, shaking her harshly. "Answer me, Katherine!"

"You're still my brother, William," she responded softly, looking at him with the wide eyes.

He slapped her again, harder. "William's dead!"

"Then why are you here?"

"To kill you. And Mum."

"Why'd you call her that?" she responded setting his mind into a whirl. This wasn't how it went. Just go for the throat . . . but he couldn't let her have the last word.

"What's it matter?"

"Why doesn't it?"

"William. Is. Dead," he hissed through his pointed teeth. Katherine gave no response, staring at him, or past him.

They sat like that, yellow eyes on hazel, for a second.

"I'm a vampire," he growled.


He tossed her off the chair with a great force. "Why aren't you scared?" he raged, stepping away, then yanking her up and causing her to yelp in pain. He shook her like a rag doll. "Why?!"

"Make me a vampire too, William."

Her plea caught him off-guard. "I can't," he said before he could stop it.

"Then don't go."

"I'm going to kill you," he growled.

Katherine's eyes flashed. "Then do it." She bared her neck.

This wasn't how it was supposed to go, but he lowered his fangs towards her neck. He grazed his teeth against the skin of her neck, hearing her hitch, then put pressure down . . . then pulled away sharply. No.

His sister from a lifetime ago looked at him vaguely, smiling slightly. "Stay with us, please, William," she pleaded, touching his cheek slightly.



He stepped away. "I can't."

This time Katherine advanced on him, the prey turned predator. "Can't, or won't?" she demanded.

His demon countenance faded away. "Same difference."

She stopped right in front of him. "William, I trust you."

"You're an idiot," he hissed. "William is dead."

Katherine shook her head, no, no he's not. Then, like so many times before, kissed him gently. "Please stay . . ." she cried, hugging him tightly.

e f e f e f

The demon in him raged. Kill her, kill her, but he couldn't, he couldn't, he couldn't! The little bit that was still William, that was William's memories and desires and hopes and dreams and everything wouldn't let him. He was a fucking, bloody soulless demon, for Devils' sake! She was good! Kill her, suck her dry . . .

She trusted him . . .

She bared her neck again, and he sank his fangs in. She shuddered in his grasp, and he pulled his fangs out, licking the wound like on overgrown cat. He purred at the taste. Angelus was right—family tasted best.

"Now who's the cat?" she gasped wryly, blinking sleepily from bloodloss, the pain he had in had inflicted on her, the pleasure he chose to give her, the feeling feeding from a person could induce, the truths suddenly falling upon her world.

e f e f e f

She trusted him . . .

She was an idiot, and he was the bigger for not proving it to her.

e f e f e f

William moved away, out of the room, with one last glance at the sleeping Katherine. "Never invite someone in after dark," he had whispered in her ear while he had licked the wound he had inflicted. "No matter what, never, never." She nodded, unable to speak.

Hopefully she would listen to him.

He walked away towards the other bedroom for the closure his life needed, so that William the Bloody Awful Poet would go away forever, leaving only William the Bloody.

His mother slept fitfully, and he sat on the bed, touching her greying hair. "Mum," he whispered. "Mum . . ."

Her lips spoke his name, he heard it.

"'S right. Me, William. Just come to say good-bye."

Her eyes fluttered, and she saw him. "William . . ." She was still asleep. This was only a dream to her.

He touched her warm hand with his cold, and she shuddered. "Mum, I'm dead. Yes."

She whimpered, "No."

"Yes. I'm . . . sorry." He wasn't, but he was. Then he lied . . . sort of. "I'm off to play games with the Lord with the others."

e f e f e f

William was quiet, pondering this over in his child mind. "Wha games they pway?"

Mother gave a choked laughed, the proceeded to names the games one would play with the Lord and all the angels. "Oh, Paint the Sky, Mold the Clouds, Relighting the Sun, Race Flights with Angels, Tossing the Stars, Drinking from the Dippers, Rehearsing the Choir, so many more, little William, I can't name them all."

e f e f e f

He had played far different games, but still with the Lord. At least on Lord. And One Dark Lady.

e f e f e f

Her eyes fluttered, almost crying.

He brushed her hair like she had when he was a child. "They're okay. Take care of Kitty. I love you. Lord loves you. We love you."

She smiled slightly, undying love in her eyes.

He bent down and kissed her forehead, then quickly escaped the house, never going back.

e f e f e f

It was an uneasy truce with his inner demon. In memory of William—everyone needed to be remembered, even pathetic creatures such as he had been—they would live until they died. But everyone else William had known, they died, for revenge or for oblivion. William would cease to have ever existed, and he could get the bloody hell out of London.

London bathed red.

e f e f e f

Dawn looked at Spike, who was now silent with memory.

"Anyway . . ." Spike finally said, waving his unlit fag, what he had been "smoking" the entire time. He would have gone through several packs if it were real. "You can turn that off now. I'm done. No more."

She clicked it off, then looked at him. Her mouth moved silently, then she spoke, "Thank you, Spike."

"You get a bloody A on that, otherwise my life is really pathetic," he smiled sleepily, resting back down and closing his eyes. She hadn't realized how tired he was until now. She hadn't noticed, so entranced.

"I'll try, Spike," she promised, setting the tape back to the beginning.

The hum of the recorder was the only sound until the click.

"You got to destroy that bloody tape when you're done, remember?" Spike reminded, peeking back at her.

"I will, Spike." She gathered up her notebook and pencil.

"If you want, I got a few pictures too."

She looked at him hugging the pillow, ready to sleep.

"In a book at my crypt. You know everything else, might as well have the bloody photos. 's not like I ever bloody look at the soddin' things . . ."

"Umm, thanks, Spike." Before she left the room, Dawn grabbed the pills as well.

Suddenly, the door opened and Willow stepped in. "Hi, Dawn," she chirped, then looked at Dawn's guilty face. "You're not bothering Spike, are you?"

"Wah . . . no, no. He's sleeping."

"Oh, okay. Well, don't bother him too much. He's still really hurt."

"I know," Dawn said bitterly. "I know. Thanks to Buffy." She ran upstairs before Willow could comment.

e f e f e f

Buffy nervously walked over to Ms. Irah and sat down in the chair in front of the desk. Calls from teachers were bad, what did Dawn do? "Hi."

Ms. Irah, a young woman, smiled. "Hello, Ms. Summers. I just wanted to talk to you of your sister's accomplishment."

Buffy blinked. "Huh?"

The teacher frowned. "Dawn didn't tell you?" At Buffy's blank gaze, Ms. Irah smiled slightly. "Dawn's essay is receiving National Recognition on originality as well as writing."

"She . . . she never told us . . . I mean, me," Buffy stammered.

Ms. Irah looked just as surprised, but she quickly said, "She was probably embarrassed, but there is an awards' banquet that she should attend. The notice would have been arriving soon."

"She was probably just waiting for the invitation." Buffy shifted in her seat under the smiling stare. "Can I . . . can I read the essay?" She had never won any literature awards.

Ms. Irah looked at her blankly for a moment, then smiled. "Yes, right here, I have a copy." She shuffled though her desk, then produced a thick volume of papers. Buffy's eyes widened.

"Oh, my Lord," she gasped.

"It is a long read," Ms. Irah agreed, handing it over. "But very good."

She had never in her high school career handed in an essay that met the maximum page length or word count, (sometimes not even meeting the minimum requirement either,) and here was Dawn's, winning an award. Buffy hadn't even seen her working on it.

"Can I keep this?"

Ms. Irah nodded. "Of course, Ms. Summers."

Buffy walked out dumbly, holding the heavy packet.

e f e f e f

She settled on the vacant couch and stared at the packet. The cover was a scanned black and white photo with an old-fashioned family smiling at them. Buffy gasped at the mother's similarity to her own mother, Joyce. There was a baby in her arms, and young boy with light hair next to her. Behind her were three others, an older man—her husband—smiling, and then a replica of him in the old son. The woman next to him with her own light colored hair and proud stance, staring at her in a strong stare. It was a family, you could feel it.

Dawn had written the title as W. A. Lambeth with a sprawling English pen over towards a corner, her name written in the bottom space.

The next page was poem in the same sprawling pen Dawn had used for the title, obviously photocopied from some place.

Never realized until lost,
Never important until forgotten
People pass our lives without interest,
All too undiscerningly enter memory's mist
Just as we are lost in theirs

The few we hold close
The fewer that hold us closer still

Never missed until astray forever
Never wanted until unattainable
Unable to bear the dreams
Unable to escape the memories
Such is regret and love

Their spirits thrown away
My soul destroyed

Siroccos on the desert sand
Typhoons on the coast shore
Life tears us asunder
Death brings us together
Moments far too late

Ties broken and now alone
Life scorns, and death laughs

Love is the foreign word
Regret an impossibility
Feeling that are egest
Are alive in the breast
Deafening the ears

Why remember
Why not forget

The ground is so very cold
Where we all alone lie
Words are impartial
They say nothing at all
And allow the visitor to leave

Why do some
Rest in such peace?

Perhaps I visit you
In the scared holy light
And bask in pearly glow
We hug, speak, love, smile so
Lest we part ways again

Remember my words?
I remember yours

Dreams haunt
Memories curse
We touch to admit reality
We are one in our family
Now we sleep deep in the ground

Why don't we all
Rest in such peace?

And then I wake in my coffin
Death's facade gone
Yet still upon my person shone
They have all departed for home
I am alone

Resting in peace
I rest in none

Dawn had written the author as William Spike.

Buffy blinked, something nagging at the back of her mind. The words, there was something about them, some sense of familiarity. She pushed it aside for the time being and turned the page.

The following page was tribute to an author's note. Buffy read it.

Ghosts exist everywhere, some as the poltergeists some people seek to exorcise, other as friendly spooks that reside in cozy houses or cartoons, some as the parts of ourselves that still survive even after our old lives are long since dead and we try to forget or deny their existence. This is a story of all three.

This is a real story, however it will probably be denied vehemently with more words than the English language can supply, or that torture can force out.

I am not the author of this story. I am merely the scribe, the correspondent, the transcriber of the tale. Actual words have been changed to keep the rating in a school-appropriate range. My sincerest apologizes to all those, including myself, who wanted to have this account 100% unedited.

The people on the cover really existed. Very blatant and irrelevant for me to mention, obviously, but what I have to stress that they exist in this story. This is really them as seen.

The story is true, like I said, but with exaggerations, omissions, and changes that one would expect when someone recites their own life story. I did my best to actually get to the truth, but I'm not a mind reader, nor is he the most open.

This essay does not follow a direct timeline.

The ghost that gave me this story had been staying at my house, and he told me his story. I don't think he even remembers that he did. No one knows that he did, I destroyed all the evidence, except this essay, like he ordered me to. He left my house a few days ago, making no word or mention of what he had done. I don't know if he was embarrassed or just didn't remember. Hopefully he's just too embarrassed, because he'll be very upset if he forgot, even if it was his own fault.

I wish I had him read this over, to correct the mistakes I made, to comment, or to smile.

This is dedicated to the ghost, to the entire Lambeth family, and to my own family, extended and all.

Sincerely, Dawn Summers

Buffy blinked after she had read it. Dawn had dedicated this to her?

She turned the next paged and started to read.

I don't have to bloody prove that I lived. I did.

We lived on Thornhaugh Street since before I was born, I think, or we moved when I was young. You took Tottenham Court Road to Chenies Street, and our home was right near the corner. You could have taken Grower Street if you wanted. I don't fancy the house still standing, not with all the rebuilding and the Blitzkrieg the Germans brought on us during the War. It was only about 1860, so that war was far off. I was hardly five at this time. Either just five or going on five or something like that. Nothing actually special was going on. This is just when I want to start telling my story. This is, after all, my sodding story and I'll tell it any way that I want . . .

e f e f e f

Dawn had ended the essay, historically speaking, wrong. Buffy knew it. She knew who the "ghost" was, what "ghost" had spent several days in their home. William had not simply entered an alley after the party and reached an epiphany, then went on with his life, met a girl he really loved, carving his own piece of history and living as happily as reasonably possibly in his condition.

Okay, maybe it had been a shattered version correctly ended, very shattered, Buffy admitted. William had met an epiphany in the alley, Drusilla. He had learned, just as Dawn stated, that one could live in many different ways. He went about his "life" with his love, Dru, and had certainly carved out his place in history.

But this wasn't the end, and it wasn't the truth, and Buffy couldn't help but feel angry that Dawn had been so truthful (or, was it being truthful to another Spike tale?) and then suddenly feed them these lies. Logically, Buffy knew why. The writing had been realistic, and to suddenly throw in the whole vampire part would just cheapen the tale in many people's eyes.

It was rather annoying to know the truth and read lies or half-truths.

There had been other photos inside the essay, very few and all with signs of wear. Buffy had stared at the picture with Wil—Spike's parents. His mother and hers looked like sisters. There were no direct similarities; they weren't twins, just similar. Was that why Spike had liked her mom, because he reminded her of his? Was that why he liked Dawn, because he looked like his sister? Did they remind him of people he had seriously loved and cared for?

There had been a picture with Elizabeth and her husband, Thomas Travers. Buffy recognized the name, and it added another reason why to hate Travers of the Council. Elizabeth looked so happy next to her stiff husband. She saw Spike in her, the eyes and stance especially. She looked like she held her own, and Buffy wished she could have met her just to face her challenge.

John and who Buffy could only assume was Anne had their own spot, the bottom part of the picture missing. They looked back at her with their stiff Victorian poses holding hands. They looked right out of the textbook, like they lived happily ever after. They didn't. It made you wonder how many of those people in the photos actually lived happily ever after.

There was only one last picture, Katherine and Spike sitting upon horses. It was funny seeing Spike in full Victorian riding ensemble, and a little wiggy. He was sitting straight up, serious, glasses perched on his nose. Katherine sat sidesaddle, smiling cheerfully.

These people were all long dead. Not all of them buried in the ground, but long dead.

The door opened suddenly, and Buffy slammed the essay closed guiltily, although she had no reason.

"Hi," Willow smiled, peeking in.

Buffy managed to smile. "Did Dawn come home with you?"

"No. She and Janice had a project to work on. She's staying at Janice's until five."

She nodded vaguely, then indicated the essay. "I saw Dawn's teacher today. Dawn's winning an award."

Willow's mouth dropped. "What? Why didn't she tell us?"

"I don't know." Well, maybe she did. Spike would probably kill her sister when he found out.

"Can I see?"

Buffy had the insane urge to say no and hug the work. Reluctantly, she handed it over and Willow quickly opened it up. "She dedicated it to us!"

"You'll never guess who it's about."

The tone got Willow's attention, and the ex-witch looked up. "Who?"

Buffy gave a small smile, deciding not to tell. "If I tell you, it'll totally ruin the end. But you'd never guess."

e f e f e f

The door opened and Dawn entered, calling, "Anyone home?"

"In the kitchen!"

Dawn shrugged off her pack and went towards the kitchen, smiling when she saw her sister. "Hey, Buffy. You're home."

"Took a free day. No flipping burgers today," Buffy smiled back.


Dawn opened the refrigerator and took out a soda just as Buffy commented, "I had a meeting with one of your teachers today."

She almost whammed her head, and Dawn spun around, trying to act calm. "Oh, really?"

Buffy pierced her with a gaze. "Really."

"Which teacher?" Whatever teacher it was, it'd give her a clue as to what she had done wrong. Failed the last math test . . . no assignments turned in for science . . .

"Ms. Irah."

Dawn blinked at Buffy's sudden grin, and her eyes suddenly fell onto the copy next to Buffy's arm.

"Oh?" Oh, shit . . .

"You didn't tell me you won." Buffy sounded hurt.

"It's no big deal."

"Yes, it is, Dawn!" Buffy exclaimed, jumping up. "It's really good!"

"You read it!?" Dawn screeched. This was as bad as when Ms. Irah had announced to the class that her essay had won.

Her sister started to look contrite. "Yeah, I did. And I know why you didn't tell us."

The reminder. Oh god, she was dead when Spike found out. Over a hundred years of creating a new image down the drain. She was dead . . . "Don't tell Spike."

Buffy laughed slightly, sitting down and looking at the picture. "Don't you think you should? I think he'd be flattered if he found out his life story won something."


"I won't," the Slayer sighed, then looked at Dawn. "It felt wiggy reading it, though. Like reading a diary. It's good."

Dawn shifted uneasily, remembering the feeling as she listened to Spike. "I know. I don't even think he remembers telling me anything. It felt kind of wrong to write it, but I didn't think I'd win anything. And if Spike did remember, he'd be insulted that I hadn't done it, and so I did."

Buffy held up the essay, staring at the picture. It was hard to see Spike as a little boy. "He was so cute. What happened?"

Her sister barked a laugh. "You like him, Buffy, and you know it. Besides, I could say the same about you."

"And you."

"Does anyone else know?"

"Willow does, but she didn't have time to read anything past the author notes. So that means everyone knows. Except maybe Spike."

Dawn groaned and banged her head on the table, then brightened. "But no one really tells him anything."


"You can't tell him, Buffy. You can't."

"You can't not tell him," Buffy countered. "It isn't right."

Dawn whimpered. "I know. Maybe if I invite him to the banquet he'll take it nicer."

"Spike is more along the lines of your-money-or-your-life," Buffy laughed, and Dawn joined in after a moment.

"Or, since he's chippie, or-your-life-a-living-Hell."

e f e f e f

"Slow night, ain't it, Slayer?" Spike smirked as Buffy rid the world of another blood-sucking pest.

"Seen slower." She looked at him intently, suddenly trying to see the man dawn had written about.

He smirked at her a moment, then looked worried. "Do I have somethin' on my face? Tell me, ain't bloody fair mocking the reflection-challenged."

Buffy laughed. "Like I'd tell you."

Spike glared at her, running a hand self-consciously over his face in a nonchalant fashion, then fell into step as Buffy continued her patrol.

He still had a slight limp, Buffy noticed but didn't comment. "Dawn won a writing award."

"She did? Poor girl."

"She's thinking along the same lines," Buffy agreed. "National award."

"Good comp, then. Thought she said something about needing a passing grade for her English."

"You remember?"

"What?" he asked, confused.

"Dawn said she asked you for an idea, is all. You gave her something."

Spike smirked. "So it's my award, then. Bit's just getting the credit."

Buffy pushed him. "She wrote it, Spike. You remember what you told her?"

"Of course!" he stated brashly.

"What, then?"

Spike sputtered for a moment, then scowled. "Shut up," he growled when she started to laugh. "'tn't funny."

"You will be saying the same thing when you find out what you told her."

"What'd I tell her?" he asked, genuinely curious.

"Something about kitties," Buffy smiled gently, then watched as he scowled. "It was really good."

"About a bloody cat!?"

"Might have been poker."

"I told her something about a bloody cat! Why not about some blood and death by my hands! Cats!" He growled and spat under his breath.

Buffy spared him a soft glance, then grinned. "It was very sweet. Great insight into your character."

"Was the cat tortured? Died painfully? Please don't tell me it lived happily ever after," Spike sneered.

"Why don't you read it?"

"Why read when you can watch the telly?"

Buffy rolled her eyes. "You know, Dawn wants to go riding. She found out one of her friends did and wants to try."

"Ride what?" he asked off-handily, still fuming about cats in general.

"Horses, Spike."

Spike's jaw dropped. "Bloody horses! Why in hell ride one of them? Bloody went out last century. Motorcycles 's better. Faster too."

"Motorcycles are dangerous, Spike."

He spoke evenly. "Just as dangerous as horses."

Buffy winced suddenly, remembering Elizabeth, then smiled. "Glad to hear you say that. Dawn wanted to know if you'd like to come along. It's going to be a whole Scooby thing. We're all going to fall off together."

"I'll pass," Spike said, waving a hand. "The whole sun thing kind of puts me off."

"It's supposed to be cloudy this weekend. Dawn'd really like you to come."

Spike's features softened for a moment, then hardened. "Nah. Between the horses and Xander, it's too much dumb for me."

"Is it because you don't know how to ride? Too chicken to try?"

The vampire gave a phony bow, walking away. "Slayer, horse-riding is for sods. I hope you enjoy it."