This fic was in response to a challenge made by Richess. Here is the outline I was given:

Name Of Challenge: Compassion
Ship: Buffy/Spike
Date Issued:
Feb. 26/02
Spike, kills Doc and saves Dawn in "The Gift." But on the way off the scaffolding she cuts her foot and a drop of blood opens the portal. But Doc isn't dead (remember demon) and pushes Spike into the portal. Because Spike is a tainted demon (human/demon hybrid-like all vampire). His blood closes the portal. The gang feels guilty about Spike sacrificing himself so they decide to bring him back. Buffy and Spike having sex.
Buffy-bot must be up and running to help Buffy because some new beasties are in town. Tara gets a visit from Drusilla. Spike comes back 'wrong'.
Elements the can be included (at least three or more):

a. You can decide whether Spike is evil or human or whatever.
b. Dawn has a vision (like Cordy does)
c. Buffy visiting The Powers That Be
d. Where Spike was (in hell dimension or heaven)
e. Spike having no memory
f. Tara knowing a secret
g. Willow wearing a red dresss
h. Spike staying at Buffy's house
i. Tara taking care of Spike
j. The ending can be sad or happy
k. Spike & Dawn talking


Taking the stairs two, sometimes three at a time, Spike was now breathing heavily. It did nothing for his bodily functions, but the action of filling his lungs with air sent waves of adrenaline through him, brought a certain sense of power to his mind as he scaled the tower. Judging from how Willow's voice had sounded, Spike guessed that anything able to make him climb faster was a blessing indeed.

At first, he hadn't been frightened. He had protested to Willow's demands, thinking that he was needed with the rest of the Scooby troop. But with each stair that was cleared, with each zombie that he threw off the tower, Spike's blood dropped a degree in temperature. These mindless fools weren't trying to stop him from reaching Dawn for nothing. Whoever was up there with her surely had a connection with Glory, meaning their motive had something to do with hurting Dawn. That was something Spike wouldn't allow, not when he had promised Buffy…

Spike bounded up the last six stairs, stopping dead in his tracks when he reached the metallic plank now stretched out before him. Dawn was perched precariously at the end of it, and a short, grey-haired man stood between the vampire and The Key. Spike immediately recognized the demonic human hybrid, his eyes turning cold. "Doesn't a fellow stay dead when you kill him?" his voice was almost aggravated, as if the topic was a casual one.

The grey-haired demon turned on Spike, recognizing his species to be of the undead. A small, almost mocking smile played along the edges of Doc's lips. "Look who's talking" if he weren't more reserved, a small chuckle probably would have been added, but Doc simply stood still, ignoring Dawn for a moment. The brunette was ecstatic to see Spike, but her opinion hadn't been voiced yet.

Spike laughed, though it was an airy one, a smirk dangling across his mouth to match the mocking expression of Doc. "Come on, Doc" Spike said as he attempted to catch his breath, an action that had become habitual by this point. "Let's you and me have a go" he attempted to look intimidating as he said this, though Spike was somewhat apprehensive of taking on the greying demon.

Glancing toward Dawn, Doc's gaze was contemplative as it swivelled back to the vampire. "I… do have a prior appointment" Doc knew he was working against time itself during this ritual, and didn't appreciate being interrupted by a vampire.

"This won't take long…" Spike's eyes narrowed as he spoke, willing to do anything for the sake of protecting Dawn. Nothing would make him break his promise to Buffy. Nothing.

Doc gave a small shrug before advancing upon Spike. The knife he carried was immediately unsheathed as he slashed back and forth at the vampire, knowing the metal would have no fatal effects, but right now, any injuries would do.

Spike dodged slash after slash, attempting to take hold of the demon somewhere, but finding it difficult to catch the small, agile 'man'. Spike paused momentarily to glance at Dawn, and his stop in motion proved to be deadly, in a manner of speaking.

Metal connected with his frozen flesh as the razor sliced Spike's left cheek open, blood instantly oozing from the wound. Doc's arm began to retract, preparing for another slash, but through the blurring pain, Spike's arm shot up to the demon's wrist, turning the blade on its owner. The jagged end pierced Doc's stomach as a sharp groan was heard, the witch doctor crumpling in a heap before Spike as the blade dug into his organs.

The blonde vampire stared down at his victim for a moment, droplets of blood falling to the demon's corpse. His breath eventually stopped, and as stillness drifted over Spike's form once again, he remembered why Doc was laying before him in the first place. Glancing up, his eyes met with the blue cores that belonged to Buffy's kid sister. "You all right, Nibblet?" he said with a slight smile.

Dawn, her mouth hanging open slightly, gave a shaky nod to Spike as he stepped over Doc with careful movements, making use of every scrap of balance he possessed. "You okay to walk?" he said softly, immediately going to work on the ropes lashed to her wrists.

"I- I think so…" Dawn's voice trembled, though Spike didn't blame her. It couldn't be easy for a teenager to be in her position and still keep a level head about them. Looking over the vampire's face as he gave her a reassuring glance, Dawn noticed the four-inch wound carved across Spike's cheek. "Spike… your cheek… are you okay?"

Spike looked up as Dawn spoke, and gave a short laugh. "Hm? Oh, yeah. A little knife in the cheek never did a bloke like me any harm. It'll heal. Now, hold still while I get these sodding ropes off you" Spike wanted to be a little more comforting toward Dawn, but that could wait until they were on solid ground.

As her right arm came free, Dawn immediately reached out to clutch Spike's shoulder, not trusting her balance after standing on the edge of a tower for more than an hour now. The last thing she wanted to think about was falling, especially right after being rescued.

Finally, the tension on her left arm was relieved, and Dawn was free to go, with Spike at her side of course. "Come on then, let's get off this bloody tower". Spike held out his hand for the rather wobbly Dawn, and she took it. "Thanks," she smiled, appreciating Spike's hand, as well as the fact that he had rescued her. "Just keeping my promise" he said, turning to lead Dawn off the scaffolding.

Dawn's first step was cautious. Looking only at Spike, not wanting to see how far down the drop was from where she was standing, her every motion was choreographed, and executed with great precision. Each step was a sliding motion, her feet never leaving the metal surface for fear that it would disappear right beneath her.

"Ow!" Dawn stopped suddenly as a stray piece of metal slid through the ball of her foot.

"What is it?" Spike turned as Dawn's voice rang, looking her up and down for any sign of injury.

"My foot… ow…" she winced slightly. "I cut my foot…"

Spike's eyes slid down to Dawn's foot, and saw a small pool of crimson forming around her toes. Blood… his own voice echoed in the catacombs of his mind. It's always got to be blood…

"Dawn! Wipe your foot off… now! The ritual… remember, it's your blood they need to open the portal" Spike practically fell to the metal structure protecting him from a two-hundred-and-some-foot drop, attempting with frantic hands to wipe away every molecule of blood around The Key's foot, using the purple fabric of Dawn's dress as well as his hands.

Too late. A single ruby jewel was able to elude the frantic motions of Spike's fingers. He gasped, watching as the bead began to fall through darkness, the motion immediately seizing Spike in a world of suspense. The tiny droplet plummeting toward earth held in it the power of immense destruction should the timing be just right.

Apparently, the time was just right, because instead of continuing its descent, the drop of blood appeared to stop in midair. Where it should have splashed against the invisible barrier, the scarlet globule sliced through reality itself, tearing a small white hole in the fabric of earth's dimension.

A violet border encircled the white gap surrounded by night sky, and Spike knew what was happening. "No…" his voice shuddered as it escaped, and Dawn was simply speechless, her gaze following his to the electric light that was growing rapidly in size. The portal to countless Hell dimensions was now opening.

"Spike…" Dawn finally managed the syllable, touching his shoulder lightly. "That's not… what I think it is… is it?" her lips, usually able to spit what could be the harshest of words, were now trembling, not really wanting to hear the vampire's answer.

"We have to go" his eyes glowed like azure crystals amidst the white light growing below him. His hand fumbled for Dawn, using her for support as shaky legs stood up. "Run, Dawn… run…" although the vampire's voice was calm, the final word in his order was thrown to the petite brunette with fatal urgency. His eyes glanced at her only momentarily, but what Dawn saw in them was almost as frightening as the portal shredding its way into reality.

Suddenly remembering the bleached man's orders, Dawn nodded, though the motion was a slightly trembling one. "O- Okay…" Happy to hear that the Bit was complying, Spike pushed her ahead of him, helping her over Doc's limp body. "Go, Dawn… don't look back… I'm right behind you… just don't stop moving until you're on the ground" Spike attempted to make himself sound reassuring and courageous, but for the first time in 127 years, he was frightened.

Stepping over the Doc, Spike rushed toward the stairs, right behind the flurry of auburn and violet that was Dawn. A tender yet chilling voice caught hold of him though, and Spike simply froze as the sound quivered against the back of his neck. "Going somewhere? Why not stick around for the fun and games?" Spike turned, eyes wide, mouth slightly open, brow furrowed with concern. Doc was standing, looking more peacefully arrogant than he ever had.

Dawn's rush down the stairs had stopped as the clunking sounds of Spike's boots had disappeared from behind her. "Spike?" she said tenderly, going back up three stairs. "Keep going, Dawn" he yelled slightly, turning his head but never removing his sight from Doc. "What is it?" she persisted, her eyes falling upon the blonde vampire as she reached the top of the scaffolding again. Doc leaned past Spike to stare at the little girl, and Dawn gave a quick scream at the fact that he was still alive.

"Dawn! What did I say? Big sis left me in charge of you, and I said to get down those bleedin' stairs, now go!" Spike jumped into his demands, as if Dawn had protested two times already to his orders.

"Oh, now don't be so harsh on the girl. This is her party, after all" Doc's eyes were peaceful despite the chaos blooming around them like a furious rose, composed only of thorns. Hell beasts and dragons were now able to make it through the portal, its diameter doubling with every minute that passed.

Suddenly, the small demon launched himself on Spike, the vampire grunting as the petite body hit him. Dawn shrieked again, followed by more angry bellows from Spike to "get down the bloody scaffolding or I'll rip you in two and decorate my crypt with the entrails". In truth, Spike wasn't as angry as he was afraid for the girl. Any demon that didn't die after two attempts definitely wasn't the best thing to be trapped with at the top of a multi-hundred-footed tower.

Seeming to grow more agile with each partial death that passed him by, Doc was able to dodge Spike's many attempts at hitting him, and was suddenly very close to the vampire, almost intimately so. A small hand shot up, catching the bleached poet by his throat. Hoisting Spike off his feet, the demon let him simply dangle over the edge of the scaffolding. "Well now, isn't this a compromising position?" Doc smiled, his small yet strong fingers clasping Spike rather wickedly.

"No…" Spike breathed, immediately understanding what Doc's intentions were, his plea echoed by Dawn who was helpless at this point. "Oh, I'm afraid so… William, is it?" the curve created by such elderly lips was almost haunting as Doc mocked him through ebony jewels that could hardly be called eyes. "It seems to me like you might enjoy Hell. Be sure to send a post card" as if he really cared, Doc's smirk changed to more of a smile.

Spike struggled against the grip, his hands clawing at that of the demon's, legs thrashing, but to no avail. Somehow, this little bugger had mustered up some unseen strength and saved it all for this moment. "Dawn…" Spike gasped as he attempted to speak, his airway viciously constricted. The brown-haired girl looked up through frightened eyes, meeting his terrified ones. "Tell Buffy…" all Spike could manage were the two words, but Dawn knew what he meant to say, and a small tear slid down her cheek.

Sighing slightly at the wonderful destruction unfolding just meters beneath them, the portal to other worlds taking advantage of this pitiful reality, Doc glanced up at Spike. "Good-bye…" Doc's words were quick, as was the clenching of his arm muscles. In a single, swift motion, Spike was hurled toward the gaping pool that was the portal to many Hells and dimensions.

Up to that moment, Dawn had remained static for fear of a scolding from Spike when they finally escaped from this. But, watching his leather-clad form suddenly plummeting downward, Dawn gasped, her eyes instantly filling with tears. "No… Spike…" she whispered silently. Looking up to Doc, seeing the one who had caused her troubled gaze toward the portal, the teenager felt waves of adrenaline suddenly flood her system.

Screaming wildly, as if she were one of the Amazon warriors she had learned about from Xena: Warrior Princess, and occasionally from books and school, Dawn rushed forward, arms outstretched. Within fractions of a second, she felt her hands connecting with the elderly figure of a demon, felt herself push him off the scaffolding and watch as he tumbled after Spike, that odd, haunting smile still spread across his features.

Dawn took a deep breath before gaping after Spike's now miniscule form as she fell to the surface she had been standing on. Her eyes went wide, flooding with tears as she saw him plunge into the icy depths of the portal, his face contorted with horror. "Spike!" she screamed his name, again and again, accompanied by the occasional "No!" and other indistinguishable words muddled by the sounds of her sobbing. Dawn's voice connected with the night air in a manner that would have made the chords at the back of her throat raw if she had continued screaming all night.

An odd calm wavered over her though when she saw the walls of the portal diminishing in intensity. It was as if the ivory light created by the gateway was not so much a tear in reality as it was a white ceramic countertop. And, its walls were not being repaired; it was just that someone was finally figuring out how to put the puzzle of Sunnydale back together.

Spike had done that. The dead poet, the vampire, the chipped nightcrawler, the anomaly in his species, the man in love with her sister, was the one who was figuring it out, so to speak. His blood, although tainted by that of a demon soul, was partially human, and therefore somewhat pure. It had been good enough to close the portal, and restore the fabric of Earth's space and time dimension.

Dawn couldn't help it when a shaky smile began to mingle with the agonized pose of her face. It was somewhat pleasing to know that Spike, of all people, had been able to close the portal. Perhaps he had never been good enough for the Scoobies, but he was definitely good enough for the world.

Still, the pleasant thoughts swimming through Dawn's mind weren't enough to ease the sudden and deadened feeling closing around her heart. Spike, one of her best friends, one of her only friends, was gone. Never to be seen again. Dead.

Spike, who was supposed to live forever, had been viciously thrown into a portal by some old demon. It had happened only moments ago, yet Dawn felt as if the pain in her soul could have existed already for years. Glancing around, her hair tangling with the moisture on her cheeks, Dawn noticed the breeze floating over her, rushing through her, even.

She remembered where she was. Atop Sunnydale's largest tower, made of what felt like rather shaky metal. Spike's voice then echoed in her ears, orders to "get down those stairs or me and big sis'll have a right deadly go at you when this is over". Eyes narrowing slightly, Dawn decided that she owed Spike enough to descend the stairs. It had been one of his last requests, and it was time she obeyed. After all, her grief would do no good if she were to die because of some foolish decision not to make it back to solid ground. Not only that, but she had to bear the news to everyone else.

Spike. Is. Gone.