Rebirth

Disclaimer: The characters in this story do not belong to me. They belong to Joss Wheddon and Co. I just like to play with them.

Part One – Tears

The sun had just set as he came out of his crypt. He did his nightly walk to her grave. As he approached, he saw a figure sitting with her arms around her knees. Dawn. He knew she visited often, but he hadn't seen her after dark before.

He approached silently, calling her name softly when he got close. She started out of her reverie, but smiled when she saw him. "Spike, I'm glad you came." He put on the sternest face he could and replied, "What are you doing here after dark? It's dangerous here. How can I look after you when you do stupid things like this?" She smiled. She wasn't taken in by his face. She knew he wasn't really angry. "I knew you'd come. You come here every night after the sun sets. I saw you today. You know, outside school. At least I saw your car."

He smiled ruefully. It was good to see her. It was always good to see her. "Yeah, well, I happened to be passing." She shook her head. "Every day – you happen to be passing every day as I arrive at school and as I'm leaving?" He looked at the ground. Embarrassed.

"Look, if you're going to tell me to stop, then forget it. I'm sorry if it cramps your style, but I promised your sister I'd protect you. Haven't done much of a job so far, but I'm not going to stop trying."

He looked away from her face to the gravestone. She followed his gaze and for a few moments neither said anything. The she looked up. "Spike, I wasn't going to ask you to stop. I like seeing you there. It makes me feel ..... safe – less alone."

"What do you mean alone? You've got the whole gang there. Willow, Tara, Anya and whassisname, yeah and Giles too?" he asked. "They're all looking after you aren't they? The robot too."

"Yeah, well, they're all there. But Willow has Tara and Xander has Anya and Giles – well Giles is so strange these days. He keeps talking about going back to England. I feel like you're the only one I have left." Dawn rattled off the words, as if she'd been practising what she had to say. But at the end, she looked up at him and said, "Buffy was my whole family. I miss her so much."

Spike ran a hand through his slicked back hair and crouched beside her on the grass. Awkwardly, he put a hand on her shoulder. She started to cry. "I know," he said. "I know you miss her. But remember, I'll always be here for you. You know that. I promised. I've done a lot of things in my life that she didn't approve of, but I've never broken a promise."

Dawn nodded and looked up. She saw there were unshed tears in his eyes too, which he hurried to rub away, muttering something about "grit in my eyes".

They sat a while longer, without talking. After a while, she said, "I'd better go. They'll worry." "Just a minute." He stopped her. " I'll walk you back, but first there's something I need to tell you. I've got to go away for a while. I.."

She stood up, angry now. "What was that you just said about always being here? Always keeping your promises? You're just the same as the others. Buffy's gone but life goes on. I'll find my own way home." She started to run away, but Spike was faster. "You know, Niblet, you've got as quick a temper as Buffy. Just as quick to jump to conclusions," he said as he caught her by the arm. "If you had let me finish, you would have heard me asking you to come with me. It'll only be for a few days, but I can't protect you unless you're with me, can I? Of course, you can't tell Willow and the others. If Xander finds out I even suggested this, I'll be a pile of dust in no time. You understand?"

She stopped trying to get away. She nodded. "Yeah, I know. I won't tell anyone. Where are we going?"

Spike closed his eyes for a moment. How much should he tell her? Not all of it – not yet. He took a breath. He could smell Buffy – the scent that she always had. How could.....? He opened his eyes. "You smell just like her," he whispered. "Well," she replied, "Yeah, I started using her shampoo, her things. I like the smell. 'Specially when I'm alone, I can pretend she's close." She had tears in her eyes again. "You're the only one who noticed."

"Yeah, well, vampire – remember. We have better senses than you humans," he growled, although Dawn guessed the growl was to hide the fact that he was having problems speaking. She looked up at him quickly. "I'll stop though, if it makes you sad." He shook his head. "Don't you dare, Little Bit. If it helps you, then go ahead."

He looked at his feet for a moment then straightened his shoulders. "Tomorrow's the last day of school isn't it?" he said, trying to sound more businesslike.

She nodded. "Right," he said. "Do you think you could pack a few things – a change of clothes and whatever? Something warm. Not too much, though, I don't want anyone to know you've gone until we're well away. We'll call them and let them know you're safe before they miss you." She nodded again. "Ok, I'll be outside school as usual. Just lose your friends and get in the car. I'll get everything else we need together."

"Sure," she agreed. "Where are we going?" "I'll tell you tomorrow," he replied, putting a hand on her shoulder and propelling her gently along the path towards home. "Now, let's get you back."