Title: Hurricane, Prologue: Calm Before the Storm Author: Sandy S. E-mail: ssoennin@juno.com Rating: R Disclaimer: I own nothing. All belongs to Joss and UPN. Spoilers: Set a few years after season 6 Dedication: For Thia...who is a new and dear friend and whose creativity inspires me! :o) Summary: Dawn, a lot of blood, a disappearance, a search. Buffy's worst nightmare comes true. This chapter is Dawn, Buffy, and Spike POV.

Calm Before the Storm

"Often do the spirits Of great events stride on before the events,

And in today already walks tomorrow.

-Samuel Taylor Coleridge, from The Death of Wallenstein. Act V, Scene 1

"What are you doing up so uh..ear..hahmm..ly?"

My sister's yawning voice rose over the quiet rumble of the television set. Pulling my long hair back into a ponytail, I twisted the hair band around and around. Then, I slumped back against the couch. "It's my day to present a story in history class on something positive going on in the community. I forgot about it 'til this morning when my alarm went off."

Another voice came from over my sister's shoulder. "A positive story, bit? What have you found so far?"

I glanced at my sister's boyfriend who was snaking his bare arms loosely around my sister's waist and resting his chin on her shoulder. "Well, not much." I pushed the volume button on the remote. The anchor woman was in the middle of a bulletin about the increase in gang activity in the schools and how the school board was implementing new safety precautions. "All I've seen so far is a report on a robbery downtown and this one." I gestured at the television screen.

"Hey! What's with the stair blockage?"

My sister's boyfriend smirked with false maliciousness. The effectiveness of his attempt at snideness was greatly diminished by his tousled bleached curls.

"Morning, Willow," my sister chimed. She tried to move over so Willow could slip past, but her boyfriend stayed rooted to the spot. "Spike! C'mon, Willow wants by."

Spike winked at me in silent collusion when my sister turned to glare at him playfully. He lightly kissed her nose. "Nope."

"There's a fee, Willow," I stated. "Twenty-five dollars."

"But, I don't have twenty-five dollars."

"Oh, well. Guess you're stuck." I turned back to the news, ignoring the scuffle on the stairs.

"Just the way I like my Buffy...all squirmy and full of energy," Spike teased.

My sister was struggling in Spike's arms, which was highly amusing to me because Buffy could have easily escaped from him, being the vampire slayer and all. Buffy had been "the Chosen One," fighting vampires and other demons since about age fifteen. The other irony was that Spike was her vampire boyfriend. He and Willow had been living with Buffy and I for a while now. Willow was a slender redhead who had been helping Buffy since our family moved to Sunnydale. Queen of hacker action and an ex-Wicca, Willow was a powerful ally and almost like my second older sister. Funny how fighting the forces of darkness and fearing for one's safety created nearly unbreakable bonds among friends.

Losing patience, Willow put all of her strength into attempting to push Spike out of the way. Giving up, she called around his form, "What about breakfast? I can't make breakfast if I can't get by!"

Spike immediately stepped to the side, causing Buffy to stumble further into his arms. "Okay. Now less squirmy Buffy is nice, too. And I get breakfast on top of that!"

Seeing that Spike was occupied with the woman in his arms, Willow scooted down the remaining stairs and jauntily walked to the kitchen. "Ha! Got by. And who said I was making breakfast?"

I jumped up and followed Willow. "But, but, eggs and bacon and coffee."

Running her fingers lightly through her cropped red hair, her eyes sparkled at me. "Don't sound so pitiful, Dawnie. You can always eat cereal."

Sticking my bottom lip out at her, I protested, "Cereal, uck! All we have is Grape Nuts that get all soggy in two seconds and tasteless sticky oatmeal. It's cause Buffy forgot to pick up *my* cereal at the store this weekend."

"What'd I do?" Buffy entered the kitchen and stood behind me.

I whirled and planted my hands on my hips. "Forgot my Lucky Charms again."

Spike strode into the room. I noticed that he was only wearing long pants. "Hey, Dawn. Got you a story!" He thrust a paper in my face, which I ignored.

Buffy disregarded Spike as well. "Well, if you would leave me a list of what you needed like I asked you to, you would have your Lucky Charms."

I dimly heard Willow rattling around in the cabinets as Spike slammed the paper on the kitchen island. "Well, it's there if you want it. I'm off to take a shower. Pop me some blood in the microwave when you get a chance, Red."

"You're supposed to remember! That's all I've been eating for breakfast the last six months." I glanced at Willow who had cleared her throat at my words and was raising an eyebrow at me. "Well, when Willow hasn't cooked."

"Sure, Spike." Willow replied to the vampire who was rapidly getting frustrated. "But only after I finish here. The smell of blood ruins my appetite if I don't cook everything else first." She cracked an egg, and the liquid spilled from the shell onto the frying pan with a hiss.

"Right." Spike left the room.

The sudden sound of eggs sizzling filled the room at our silence and made me giggle.

Buffy rolled her eyes at me. She sounded amused as she exited, "I better go check on him. He seemed a little huffy. Probably needs some attention."

"Uh, huh," I said knowingly. If my mom had said that about a guy, I would have been thoroughly grossed out at the thought of what they were probably doing, but since Buffy was my sister, I thought what she implied was sweet. I enjoyed seeing her blissful. She got enough heaviness from having to ensure the world didn't literally go to hell all the time.

When Buffy was gone, I snagged Spike's rumpled paper laying on the counter. Oh, I knew about this! I'd forgotten they'd been announcing the event at school for the last week. Reading about the local blood drive to benefit hospitals and check for bone marrow matches, I opened the refrigerator and removed the orange juice and picanté sauce for my eggs. "So, Willow, what do you have planned today?"

Willow spooned the scrambled eggs onto three plates already stacked with jelly-covered toast. "Not much. Classes on campus and research."

"Watcha researching?" I grabbed a plate and sat down at the island.

"Something for Angel. There's some kinda demon operation going on in L.A. that he's having trouble locating, and he called for some extra hacker help. He's already got his team on it, but apparently, the operation's eluded them so far." She began heating some blood for Spike's breakfast.

"Oh."

Willow joined me, pulling an orange juice closer to her plate and pouring picanté sauce on her eggs at the same time. "What are you doing at school today? Any big plans?"

"Nope. Just tests and more tests as usual. And the current events thing."

"Sounds like fun!"

I stared at her while she grinned at me. "I'm not sure if you're just really enthusiastic or dangerously ill."

She took a bite of toast, not bothering to hide her continuing smile. "Just call me Miss Knowledge Seeker."

* * *

As stealthily as a cat stalking her prey, I crept into the bathroom, masking the sounds of my movements with the rush of the water from the shower head. With great difficulty, I tried not to giggle when Spike started humming a nonsensical but lighthearted tune to himself. I secretly enjoyed hearing him whistle or hum because that meant he was a happy vampire...that meant the love of my life was content.

Shedding my nightgown but not my lacy undergarments, I perched softly on the edge of the closed toilet lid. As I closed my eyelids to absorb the sound of his music more fully, a shiver of desire ran through my body from my scalp to the tips of my brightly painted toenails. The corners of my mouth lifted at the thought of his reaction at seeing me when he finished his shower. Imagining his fingers running through the long strands of my hair and down my body, envisioning the feel of his cool lips pressing and dancing over my warm ones, my heart began to beat recklessly, and the length of my body began to tingle with sparks of ebullience.

I shrieked as without warning my fantasy became reality, and I was pulled clothing and all in a fluid motion into the humid rainforest of the shower. A body heated by the water pressed against my smaller one, and his mouth hovered over mine, his unnecessary breath laving over my lips. My eyes shot open so that intense green met passionate swirls of icy blue. I loved him so much.

"Hello, my slayer. Come to join me in the shower?" His arms were tight over my hips as he held me close.

"Mmmm...what do you think?"

"I think I was almost done," he murmured.

"Oh, really?" I pushed closer and draped my arms around his neck. Whimpering slightly as his fingers whispered over the hollow of my lower back and the curve of my thighs, I scattered butterfly kisses and tiny nips over his cheeks, chin, and ears. Pleased when his low moans brushed my eardrums and the poignancy of his desire matched my own, I drew back so that cool air rushed between us.

"Better get ready. I have to get to work soon."

With unnatural attention directed at my collar bone, he traced the bone with two fingers, playing with my bra strap. Then, he met my gaze, growling at me. "Later tonight?"

"Tonight," I confirmed, granting him fair warning. "You better be ready."

His smile was broad and brilliant as he caressed my cheek. "I love you," he purred in my ear. Then, he dove in for one last deep kiss, leaving me shivering half from the lack of leftover hot water and half from an aching void only he could fill.

"Love you, too," I said in a soft voice, knowing that his acute ears picked up the sound.

* * *

Whistling to myself, I strode down the stairs, searching for my target. "Dawn? Bit? I'm taking you to school! Where are you?" We went through this routine every morning.

Dawn stood in the living room with her arms crossed. Her backpack was slung over her tiny shoulder, her sack lunch dangling down from one of her hands. "Been ready. Did you get your breakfast? Willow heated it up in the microwave." As I hurried to retrieve my mug of blood, Dawn called, "Hey, thanks for the story! It's perfect. I think our health class might take a field trip during phys ed today to donate blood. One of our classmates has leukemia, and they're trying to find him a bone marrow match. Then, I can give a first hand account of the blood drive in history class."

"Glad I'm not going to the blood drive." I downed the blood in two gulps.

"Why?" she asked as we entered the garage and climbed into my car.

"Might make me too hungry. All that fresh blood filling the air, making me all intoxicated. Might do something I wouldn't mean to do."

"Oh. Guess that makes sort of sense." She placed her backpack around her feet, smoothed her hair with both hands, and buckled her seatbelt. "I don't see how you drive with the windows all blackened like this." She nodded at the windows of the car which were painted solid black with the exception of the small slit in front of my face. "I don't see how you don't get pulled over with them all dark. What would you do if you did?"

"Never been stopped. Will worry about what to do when it happens." I started the engine with a flick of my wrist. Dawn pushed the garage door opener, and the grinding noise of the door echoed throughout the room.

"Could you even roll down the window to talk to the police person?"

"Guess it would depend on whether it was cloudy or not." With the car in reverse, I backed out of the garage. No need to use the rearview mirror, so I just faced forward.

"And what about a driver's license? And insurance?"

Dawn was watching me with big eyes. I put the car in park. "Pet, you've never asked these questions before. Why now?"

She bowed her head, studying her hands. "Guess I'm just ready to take driver's ed."

Lifting my eyebrows, I glanced incredulously at her. "Are you even old enough to get a license?"

She nodded shyly. "Yep. I *have* been for like two years now. And I'd really like to learn to drive before I'm forty...even if Buffy doesn't want to learn."

"You're looking at the right person to teach you...give you a little one up before the summer class," I informed her proudly. I would do anything to please Dawn.

Her whole face was alight with excitement. "Really? When can we start?"

I laughed at her enthusiasm. Putting the car in gear, I drove onto the empty morning street. "Tonight. We'll borrow Willow's car, so you'll have clear windows. We'll take it for a drive in the neighborhood."

"Don't you have work tonight?"

"Not tonight. I'm off." I was an "unofficial" security officer around the university campus at night. The new university president had decided that he had enough of the strange murders and disappearances of students around campus. Because Sunnydale's citizens often balked at the idea of supernatural and demonic occurrences, he had hired staff as an extra and anonymous branch of the main campus security department to keep the students safe at night. The university president was no fool and did not keep his head buried in the sand about reality. Gotta admit that I admired the man for his spunk. Rather ironic that I used to hunt for meals on the same campus grounds and eat the very students I was now protecting.

"What will Buffy say if you take me driving?"

"Don't worry about Buffy. I'll take care of her." Dawn bounced in her seat. "Did I ever tell you how much I love you?"

"Always nice to hear again."

The end of the prologue