Before episode 6 season six. There's context mostly in here. It's really rather up to you all to make the connections.

Stanza 1

The Summers home was dim. The only company to the light of twilight seeping into the still rooms was the study light in Dawns room.

Spike stuck to the shaded grove of trees and squinted at the house.

Buffy wasn't home he'd bet, but the nibblet definitely was. It was a school night, and even though there was some prowling predator out and about, she was left at home to be safely doing her homework till beddie-bye time.

Spike puckered his lips as he thought defiant thoughts. Buffy probably didn't want him about, but he was going to check in on everything for a bit. Maybe sniff around.

He went into the house, listening for any noises that weren't coming from the little girls room. He tried "Slayer?" tentatively as he crept out of the kitchen. Didn't want to alarm the blonde one- or anyone else for that matter. They tended to be a bit touchy about these things.

There was no answer. He smirked and was about to just pop by her room or maybe the basement for a look when he heard whimpering from Dawn.

Silently racing up the stair case he tested the air for any presence other than human in the girl's room. Somewhere between his gut and his head he detected only the beating heart of one young girl. So, he knocked first and pretended nonchalance. Not wanting to really admit the instant concern he had for the little sister to himself, let alone the girl herself.

"Uh- yes?" Dawn replied.

"Can I come in?" Spike politely said, more out of a relapse to civility than anything else.

"Spike? Yeah."

He popped the door open and sauntered in. The vampire cast his gaze about to see if anything was amiss, or suspicious. Dawns eyes were narrowed in suspicion- but that was pretty much the only thing of suspicious nature residing in the pink and blue bedroom.

The young girl was sitting on her bed, a textbook haphazardly open in front of her, the studious desk area filled with pencil shavings, notebooks and crumpled up pieces of paper at the far corner. Apparently it was abandoned for a better defense against homework.

She said without much feeling. "Hi, Spike. How're you?"

"Having a bit of trouble with the school work there?" He jerked his head towards the book and placed his hands in his trench coat pockets.

She wasn't usually set in disarray for a paper assignment. Dawn rolled her eyes, thinking that her protective older sister had sent her a babysitter with instructions to make sure she did her homework and went to bed on time. At least Spike was cool.

She huffed and pouted a bit. She didn't exactly want to admit that something as silly as this could be this difficult for her. She was in advanced chemistry for goodness sakes.

Spike waited with raised eyebrows. Ready for her to admit weakness at any time she wanted to.

She sighed and looked down at the printed words on the page. "It's this poem."

Spikes features twitched a bit.

Dawn continued, her frustration making her very focused on the issue at hand. "I was supposed to have this figured out a week ago… but with- well… everything it was kinda hard to put time aside to work on something that I didn't like and thought was going to be really easy. This guy has some serious issues."

Spike sniffed and said with a great deal of conviction and callousness "Most poets do."

Dawn looked up at him with a kind of sheepish hopeful look. "Do you think you could help me with it?"

Spike took his hands out and held them up in mock surrender. "I don' think so nibblet, I'm not the right guy to ask about poetry you know."

Dawn was intelligent; she knew he had to have at least some history with poetry. So, she turned to a well tried tactic. Whining. "But- Spi-ike! It's so hard to figure out what he's saying and I've been working on it for hours and it's killing my brain!"

Spike looked about ready to crack so she went in for the kill: "And you have to know, I mean you're super good with this. You were like, around when this was written."

Spike fixed her with a thoroughly disparaging expression.

She continued, ignoring his ruffled feathers. "It would be so easy for you. And I'm sure you're super great at it. Please?"

She blinked up at him with her large eyes. Spike felt just a twinge. A little nudge. He grumbled, and huffed and then plopped down on the bed and sighed with great exasperation. He didn't have anything better to do anyway.

Dawn smiled and her giggles went an octave higher as she said "Yay!" And promptly handed the book to him. Spike had this sinking feeling, but as soon as the thick book of thin paper hit his hands he knew he was sunk already. Deeper still was when his gaze found the title in bold simple letters.

His Coy Mistress

He closed his eyes and tightened his lips. The poem was like a slap in his face. "Bloody- hell. Really?" He gestured with one hand at the book like it was something a mentally challenged and deranged cat had brought in.

Dawn crossed her legs, sitting as if preparing for a philosophic cleansing yoga lesson, but really settling in for one of Spikes entertaining English infused rants. She let her face fade into an almost sympathetic expression- making sure he knew she was just as incensed by the poem.

She honestly had no idea what he was really pissed about, but it was going to be fun finding out.

Spike looked as if he could spit on the poem and informed her that her teachers were mental and they should bloody well learn how to choose poems for children. "I mean what the buggering hell were they thinking- this poem isn't for children."

"Hey! I'm not a kid."

"That is an entirely different conversation. Now, do you want to know what it's about or not?"

Dawn shut her mouth, and waited.

Spike scanned over the poem. "He wants her sex- she wants to give it to him. But! She's too busy following protocol, and being coy, and worrying about what everyone else thinks- that the whole bloody world is wasting away. If she'd just give in and give him what he wants- what they want…" He shut his mouth tight as if containing himself and his blue eyes looked as if he weren't looking at anything in this room. Dawn watched him with wide eyes. He then looked at Dawn and said with a matter of fact air, "Then they wouldn't have this problem."

Dawn furrowed her brow with a kind of quizzical dubiousness. "Oh-kay. Well, what about the… uh-" She reached for a printed white paper. Spikes eyelids drooped as he looked at her, annoyed.

"The duality of the word 'coy'?" She said brightly.

Spike jerked his head back and slightly curled his lip. "Wha- They have you analyzing the words- what else do they have on that list?"

She scanned the page. "Uh- I have to identify the theme, the kind of poem it is, whether it's a serious warning or a love letter, and basically the purpose of the poem."

Spike scoffed. The vapid ridiculousness of people these days, he thought "Let me see that." He plucked the paper out of her hands, his left hand still holding the book.

Dawn said, trying to do her best to make sure he knew she did her best. "I put the theme as love, and I did the-"

"Wrong." He said plaintively looking as if the paper had said something that was worth a casually inflicted death.

"Wrong, what do you mean wrong- it's a poetry interpretation- it can't be wrong."

He looked at her balefully. "No- it's wrong. Tell me, does the stanza:

But at my back I alwaies hear

Times winged Charriot hurrying near:

And yonder all before us lye

Desarts of vast Eternity.

He recited dully, almost as if he were trying to wrap it up before he began. But as he continued, his voice took on a more somber note and he stilled his words to recite them with correct didactic rhythm.

Thy Beauty shall no more be found;

Nor, in thy marble Vault, shall sound

My ecchoing Song: then Worms shall try

That long preserv'd Virginity:

And your quaint Honour turn to durst;

And into ashes all my Lust.

He continued on with an undertone of bitterness.

The grave's a fine and private place,
But none, I think, do there embrace,

Have anything to do with love at all?" He finished with a look of 'you should know better now.'

Dawn looked at him with some kind of dumbstruck glee on her face. "You can read poetry!"

He rolled his eyes, amused with her amusement. "Well- yeah I can bloody read. Contrary to popular opinion around here I do have a brain." He tapped his dyed head smartly.

"No- I mean like you can read it- like with rhythm and you have the voice. I could actually like poetry if you were reading it." She was smiling- thinking that Buffy should hear Spikes poetry reading voice.

Spike raised his scarred eyebrow and decided to change the subject. "Yeah- well theme's not love, and it's not lust. So, no funny business about it bein' sex and all- because you're too young for poems with that theme anyway."

Dawn fixed him with a stink eye. "It's about… uh…" She stalled.

Spike interrupted her and said definitively "Let's start with something more simple, shall we? Something definitive for your science-y brain of yours. The type of poem."

He nodded, waiting for her confirmation and her original answer. She swiped a loose page from the side of the bed and looking at her writing she said "Uh it's not… Romanticism? Or I mean Alexadrine?"

He clicked his tongue in disapproval. "No- it's a metaphysical poem. It has a structure, and beneath cleverly worded emotionally driven metaphors is a logical reasoning."

"Oh."

"You're looking at me like I'm crazy." Spike looked- not like himself. He hadn't donned a narrowed expression, or haughty tilt- his face was open, with focused eyes.

"No I'm not." Dawn said in that tone that all teenagers of this day and age inherently know.

Spike folded his arms across the book and said "Fine then. Amidst all this what's his purpose then? His logical argument?"

Dawn bared her teeth in a kind of sheepish 'I'm trying, I really am!' admission. "Give me a hint?"

Spike acquiesced and intoned "Now let us sport us while we may;

And now, like am'rous birds of prey,

Rather at once our Time devour,

Than languish in his slow-chapt pow'r."

Dawn had a look of comprehension on her face before she quickly said "He's saying that they need to be together when they can…" Spike made a rolling motion with his hand making the universal sign for 'go on, more.'

" They need to live on their time… and seize the moment because time may last forever but they won't!"

Spike smiled and nodded, being a bit proud of the girlie. "Yep. Carpe Diem. That's your theme there because it's mentioned throughout the poem and is the underlying message even when it's not being mentioned."

Dawn nodded, pleased with herself. "So 'coy.'"

Spike stated simply as if he were informing her of news. "Meaning of the word's changed."

"What?"

"Yeah, look it up in your history books…later."

"Uh-" The meaning of words changing wasn't going to be in her history books, but it looked like the vampire wasn't going to hear of it. Ah- well that's why the internet was invented… sort of.

"Lines five to twelve- they're specific references too. Back when England was bein' conquest hungry."

"Alright."

Spike nodded and tossed the book back on her bed. "Right, well. That's all there is on that."

Dawn watched with a concerned twist to her mouth as her protective babysitter got up. He seemed irritated, almost uncomfortable.

"Spike?"

He turned to her hands in his jacket pockets again. She wanted to ask him why he was so affected by the words in her textbook, and why he talked like he missed talking about poetry, but the words just wouldn't form. She sensed that it was a bit sensitive to him.

"Thank you for helping me. I have more poetry assignments coming up so- maybe if…"

He nodded. "Yeah, sure. I'll help." He went to the door thinking that maybe he still had time to lurk about before others less inclined to chat with him arrived.

Dawn watched him leave her room and wondered if Buffy knew Spike liked poetry.

Chorus

Spike sincerely hoped that it didn't get back to Buffy. It would ruin his image.

He was following her from a distance. Her blonde hair was glowing a soft ash color in the moonlight, swaying with her every movement. He sensed a Kerzis demon approaching. Rather he smelled it, tasted it's otherness on the breeze. It thought it was stalking her alone- but that was just due to its stupid flaw of being only able to see heat.

Spike as of late didn't have much heat.

He creeped up behind the leathery skinned brute grabbed the horn on the right jerked it back and with his left hand placed his iron grip on the flared shoulder and twisted. There was a series of snaps and then he released the twitching demonic body fell into the shrubbery.

He watched as Buffy turned around, bringing her eyebrows together. She was pretty far off so he wasn't too worried about having her hear the sounds of the death act.

He made a mistake. She was almost at her house. Nothing else was attacking. He was going to sit by the tree and maybe wait and watch till she slept.

Buffy whirled around. Her fists in her regular fighting stance, half based on instinct and a bit on discipline. The last few slayers were based on a particular fighting style. Buffy, was Buffy, and he was enamored of her. Of her aspects.

"I can kick your ass."

"You're welcome to try love- I'd love a good tussle."

"Ugh- Spike."

At least it was a reaction. It was a masochistic kind of pleasure he decided, like a knife hitting home and fresh blood pooling down his navel. Pleasurable in a sick kind of way that made him want more.

He wanted to say something, something true and sincere- to get a reaction, yes, but not this one. This thought he'd keep till he maybe had her closer, nearer almost so he could touch her. It might never be said at all, but as much as he craved her look, no matter the kind, he couldn't bear to have it be reviled.

Thou art to me a delicious torment.

She could not see it.

"What do you want?"

"Just takin' a walk love."

She looked at him, her fists already tucked under her arms. She looked suspicious, as if she were measuring him.

He could feel her gaze. Delicious.

"It's been quiet tonight."

"Lovely weather for it."

"I suppose."

Torment.

It was too close to something neither had prepared for. They parted, one more so than the other, and the night ended for them.

"Thou art to me a delicious torment." Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)