Title: THE OTHER SIDE OF THINGS
Summary: Clem and Dawn hang out.
Author: Ivytree
Rating: PG-13
Disclaimer: All characters belong to Joss Whedon, UPN, Mutant Enemy, etc.
Feedback: Please!
NO SPOILERS
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OTHER SIDE OF THINGS

Dawn stood in Spike's living room clutching her backpack nervously. Clem gave her an encouraging smile. Growing up on the Hellmouth meant that, despite his fangs, she actually found it encouraging. She smiled back.

"So, what do you want to do first?" he asked. "There's a video store right across the street, as a matter of fact; I could step over right now."

"Weren't you watching something?"

"Yes, but it's over now. One of Spike's favorites, as a matter of fact; I taped it for him. He likes Capra. Though he always says the guy should have jumped. But that's Spike. He's big on drama."

She came further into the room. "My sister's the same way," she confided. "Always a big scene. Oops!" she said, crunching a corn chip underfoot. "Maybe we'd better pick these up first."

"Spike likes his place clean," Clem agreed. He went to the kitchen area - or at least, the area where the fridge was - and came back with a dustpan and broom. Seeing Dawn's surprise, he said, "I promised I'd keep it tidy."

Now that she thought of it, Spike's place was always pretty neat. He must have spent quite a lot of time cleaning and straightening - unlike anyone at her house. Somehow that didn't seem very evil. Or maybe it was, depending on your point of view.

She helped Clem sweep up the scattered corn chips, the homely activity calming her nerves. Then he went to the video store, promising to be back in no more than 10 minutes. Dawn fidgeted around the room, trying not to be frightened. She tried not to think about Tara. She couldn't let herself believe she was really gone; it was more like she was on a trip, and was still in fact there, in the world somewhere. Dawn could feel her presence. Like Spike. He wasn't here, but she knew he was somewhere. She knew he'd come back. Somehow she still felt like Tara had just gone away for a while. And she hated knowing that feeling would eventually change. Like Mom. After she died, Dawn had spent months expecting to hear her voice in the next room, or see her coming around the corner. Now her heart had finally caught up with her brain, and she knew she'd never hear her or see her again.

She sat in Spike's comfy chair, thinking of the many times she'd seen him sunk in it, his white head thrown back arrogantly, his blue eyes sceptical, smoking and arguing with her about some soap opera they'd watched or book she'd read. Whatever book she read for school, he seemed to already be familiar with it. She supposed vampires had a lot of time to read - like, centuries. Last time it had been "A Tale of Two Cities;" Dawn didn't see why Lucy couldn't marry Sidney Carton instead of that other guy, and Spike said hypocritical, uptight Victorians would never accept a dissolute scoundrel, even a reformed one, as a hero. She said he was much more attractive than any of the other characters, and he said that's why he had to die. She said that was so unfair. He said, tell him about it. She remained unconvinced, but she did get an A on her book report.

She looked up with a start to find Clem watching her with concern on his droopy face, a plastic sack of videos in one hand and a grocery bag full of crispy snack foods in the other. "You okay?" he said.

She gave him a watery smile. "It's just, some pretty bad things have been happening," she said. "Our friend is dead, and another friend's in trouble, and - and I wish Spike were here!"

He sat down beside her in the not-so-comfy chair. "He never would have gone if he knew," he said sympathetically. "He'd never let anything happen to you."

"I know," she sniffled, "But I was mad the last time I saw him, and I wanted to say I'm sorry."

He patted her shoulder, carefully holding up his talons. "You can tell him when he comes back. Anyway, I'm sure he knows. When you care about someone you accept the bad things along with the good ones, don't you? Even when you have misunderstandings, you still care."

That was true, she guessed. Even when she had big fights with Buffy, she still loved her. And she supposed she still loved Xander, even though he was so mean about Spike. She pulled herself together resolutely. Crying wouldn't help. And her problems weren't Clem's fault.

"So what did you get?" she said, indicating his Blockbuster bag.

"Oh! Well, The Wedding Planner was all sold out, so I got Bridget Jones Diary, Legally Blonde, Sliding Doors, Serendipity, and 28 Days. A relationship-fest!" he said happily.

Hmmm. Colin Firth, Luke Wilson, John Hannah, John Cusack, or Viggo Mortensen. Hmmm. "28 Days, please," she said. "Did you see Lord of the Rings?"

"Six times!" Clem said proudly. It was the kind of movie you were proud of having seen six times, instead of being vaguely embarrassed.

"Oooh! What was your favorite part? Did you notice Legolas walking on top of the snow?"

"I liked the Water Horses! That was SO cool!"

"I loved that part! Though at first I couldn't understand what she was saying."

"Spike said she was talking to her horse."

"Spike?" Spike saw Lord of the Rings? Spike understood Elvish?

"We saw it a couple of times. He says the main character hasn't even shown up yet, so the next one should be even better."

The main character? Who could he - of course. Gollum. The scorned and despised outcast. Well, that was an interesting analysis. She wished he'd told her. They could have talked about it.

"So let's watch the movie," Clem said cheerfully, settling into his chair. "And I got nacho cheese tortilla chips, doodles, crisps, logs, chocolate-dipped pretzels, Snowballs, Yodels, little doughnuts, and whole wheat crackers. You can stay here for days if you need to!"

The opening credits began, showing Sandra Bullock roaming the streets of downtown Manhattan (or more probably its stand-in, Toronto). "Thanks!" Dawn said, selecting chocolate-dipped pretzels for now. She could use some chocolate. "For everything. You know, Spike likes to say how evil he is and all that stuff, but I don't see how he can be. Because he has such nice friends."

Clem beamed at her, his ruby eyes shining with sincerity. "I was just about to say the same thing!"


END

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"Television knows no night. It is perpetual day. TV embodies our fear of the dark, of night, of the other side of things."

Jean Baudrillard, Cool Memories