Title: Whispers in a Dead Man's Ear
Author: Waddiwasiwitch
Character: Dawn

Other Characters: Spike, Buffy, Xander, Willow and Tara
Prompt: Friendship
Pairing: Hints of Spuffy
Rating: PG 13 due to language
Word Count: 5154
Warnings: Plenty of angst but hopefully the funny parts balance it out.
Summary: Post Chosen, Dawn reflects on her friendship with Spike through the years.
Author's Note: Hope you enjoy and let me know what you think. My apologies about the initial fiasco with the lj cut.

Whispers in a Dead Man's Ear

A huge chasm stands in the place where a town called Sunnydale used to be. It was a strange town, where unnatural things happened and monsters roamed. The mouth of hell after all attracts the supernatural. A year ago, the town collapsed in on itself after some saw fit to challenge the First Evil. That anniversary was the reason why Dawn Summers, her sister Buffy and their friend Xander Harris were standing at the precipice and examining what was left of the place they had once called home. There had been many losses the night when they had faced down the ultimate evil. The town had not been all bad times though. Sunnydale had been their home for many years and for all the pain that took place, there were also many happy memories.

Once upon a time, Dawn Summers believed in fairytales, happy endings, Prince Charming and pinky promises. That naive girl had grown up into a woman and she had learned that life was not so simple after all. The young woman was getting on with her life and doing well in school. She was now preparing for university in the fall. She had a nice boyfriend and a reliable group of friends. Despite all the positive aspects of her life, she often found her thoughts drifting to her one time friend, who had sacrificed his unlife for them during the battle. Despite the occasional melancholy that came with remembering loved ones that died, she considered herself happy. The same could not be said for her sister. Buffy was head of a massive organisation, the figurehead in fact. Despite her success in the job front, she clearly had some issues that needed resolution. As usual, she was throwing herself into work. Slayer-Buffy had taken the helm and Buffy-Buffy stayed in the back seat. Dawn had hoped that this visit to their former home might provide the much needed impetus for Buffy to move on and lay her ghosts to rest or more specifically Spike. They had time to grieve for their mother and Tara, but Spike was a taboo subject where her sister was concerned. They had never had a chance to say goodbye to him. Her sister was the only one, besides her, who missed the vampire and the only one who knew him like she did. Dawn did not have super powers but she could be perceptive. From what she could see, Buffy was clearly hurting, even though her so called friends were ignoring it. She was grieving for Spike or rather she wasn't. As usual, she simply was bottling everything up. Dawn did not know if her sister had been in love with Spike, but she strongly suspected that she was or at least she had been well on her way toward those feelings. Of course the only person who could answer that question was Buffy herself. As the trio stared down the crater that was all that was left of their former home, Dawn wept for those she had lost: her mother, Tara, Anya and Spike. All that was left of that life was a huge hole in the ground. Buffy had wrapped her arm around her. Buffy was not crying, but her eyes were glassy with unshed tears. Dawn pulled her sister close, while Xander simply stood in sombre silence watching the two girls. The crater was pretty impressive; Dawn had to admit despite herself. The vampire was a creature of surprises, if nothing else. Who would have though his soul was so shiny that it could dust thousands of ubervamps and reduce a hell hole into a pile of rubble? It seemed much more magnificent this time around.

"I guess he was pretty awesome, after all," she thought and her lips twitched into a half smile. Even though she was proud of him, it did little to temper the loss of the vampire.

Xander gave her a searching look and after the next words he spoke, she could swear that he could hear her thoughts.

"I guess Bleachboy would be happy to think that he left such a big eyesore behind." Buffy's lips twitched as well. Xander's remark was joking but Dawn could see that returning to the place, where he lost Anya, was hurting him too.

"He always did love a dramatic exit," Buffy said fondly, speaking for the first time since they had laid their eyes on what was left of Sunnydale. Dawn squeezed her hand reassuringly.

"He was a hero and Anya too," Dawn said. Xander nodded stoically and excused himself. The women could see that he needed to be on his own for a while. The last year had been a hard one for them all. Dawn watched Xander head off into the distance and then turned her gaze back to her sister. Buffy looked a million miles away and Dawn guessed that her sister was thinking about the peroxide haired vampire. Her own thoughts were certainly preoccupied by her memories of their friendship, through the years that she had known him. She sat down on the ground and let her mind wander back in time.

Four Years Ago...

Dawn was on her way to Spike's crypt. She had taken to calling there some evenings after school. The vampire had great stories, but more importantly he treated her like a grown up. Spike never talked down to her and although he pretended he was annoyed at her calling, he never asked her to leave. In fact, she suspected that he rather enjoyed her visits. Her mother had once said that he was lonely and that they should be kind to him. Buffy had scoffed at the idea, saying that vampires did not need friends, especially human ones. Her sister was such a bitch and was always going on about how dangerous he was. It was not like she did not know he was a vampire. What he may have been was no concern of hers. Nowadays, he was harmless. The chip in his head prevented him from harming humans and that was all she needed to know. It may not be a soul, but as far as she was concerned it was the same thing. Besides, he was so cool and his British accent was cute. Now if she only could get him to see that she was cooler and much more fun than her slayer sister. Buffy would not know fun if it bit her right on her uptight ass. As she walked, she mused over a question that she needed to put to him. Her mother was ill and he was the only person she knew that had died. He might be able to answer her questions. Before she knew it, she found herself outside the crypt. She put her hand up to , but she found herself face to face with the vampire, as he had opened the door. He had clearly sensed her approach.

"Hey, it's Bitty Buffy!"he said loudly but cheerfully, in greeting, opening the door wide for her to enter.

"Don't call me that," she snapped, "My name's Dawn. D.A.W.N." Her tone had no bite, just friendly jest. Spike just smirked in response at her sulky expression and she glared at him.

"Yeah, I guess you really are Bitty Buffy," he said smugly. His hair was tousled and his hands were playing with a cigarette. She did not understand why people smoked. It caused cancer and bad breath and not to mention yellow teeth. She made a mental note to ask him if he used whitening toothpaste or were vampires immune to yellow teeth the way they were immune to human diseases. However, now was not the right moment. She had a more important question to ask him, so she settled instead for telling him off.

"That's a filthy habit," she said, disgusted. She gestured at the cigarette he was lighting.

"Well, I am evil." He shrugged. "I have to get my kicks somehow. The soldiers did not leave me with much opportunity to get my rocks off."

It was a good point, but she just rolled her eyes.

"So what brings you to my neck of the woods, Platelet? "he asked, sitting on the sarcophagus. Dawn remained standing. She was tense and just about refrained from pacing.

"My name is Dawn, Fangboy," she retorted. She liked his nicknames really but she could not let him know that. He had a big enough head as it was.

"What brings you to my humble abode D.A.W.N..?" He spelt her name with exaggerated preciseness.

"I was bored" she replied, shuffling her feet awkwardly. She was lying through her teeth. She had never been good at lying and she could tell that the vampire could see through her facade.

"I can tell when you are lying," Spike said, raising a brow. "Evil vampire, remember?"

"What? You can smell lies?" she scoffed.

"They smell kind of fishy," he said deadpan. After a moment she realised what he said and a little smile appeared on her lips.

"Ha, ha!" Dawn replied.

Spike grinned toothily. Dawn took a deep breath and ruminated on whether to ask the question that was on her mind. His blue gaze penetrated through her.

"Spike?" she asked, hesitantly. "Do you remember when you died?"

"Hey, what has brought this on?" he asked gently, clearly uncomfortable with where the topic was going. Tears filled her eyes. He gestured for her to come and sit on the sarcophagus next to him.

"I am worried about Mom," she confessed, as she plopped down beside him. He patted her arm awkwardly. Yeah right! Some Big Bad, he was!

"Your mom is a strong lady," he said reassuringly. "I always figured that Buffy must have got her stubborn streak from somewhere. For that matter, you are a stubborn bint, yourself!" Dawn laughed and rubbed her tearful eyes.

"I know," she said with a weak smile, "I just worry."

He had avoided the question, but she realised that it had been a very personal question to ask.

"I will walk you home and you can make a nice cup of cocoa," Spike proposed. "Have you got those small little mallow things?"

Her heart felt with a little lighter as the two made their back to Revello Drive.

A few months later..

Dawn's feet were unconsciously taking her in the direction of Spike's crypt. She had quietly climbed out her window and crept into the night with no plan in mind. Her feet decided the matter for her and she could see Spike's crypt in the distance now. The last few days had been life changing for the teenager. Finding out you were a magical key and had a hell god on your trail was scary to say the least. Despite the reassurances of her mother and sister that they still loved her, she felt alone and alien in her own home. Visiting her friend in his crypt was proving a respite from the uncomfortable silence. Of course, she was not meant to be sneaking around on her own and would no doubt suffer for it if she was caught. Little girls should not really be running around dark graveyards at night, but then she was not really a girl.

"Bit, you shouldn't be here," he chastised her, as she walked in. "Your sister will have my guts for garters if she finds out."

"She's not really my sister!" she said petulantly.

"Maybe not," he admitted, "but she feels like she is and you know she cares about you."

"Why should she?" she asked. "I am not human, am I?"

"Pfft! Normal is overrated!" he said. "Besides, I'm not human and I turned out okay. Nibblet, you are special. Who cares that you were once a ball of energy. Personally, I think it makes you interesting. Besides, your sis is far from normal and you are friends with a ex Demon and pair of witches."

"And a vampire!" she added softly

"The Biggest Big Bad!" he reminded her.

"Yeah, Spike, you're so evil!" she said, rolling her eyes. There was mirth in his blue eyes at her mocking. He always knew what to say.

Three years ago...

Dawn was running between the graves in Restfield cemetery. She wiped away a stray tear as she ran. She needed Spike. He would know what to do! He was the only one she could turn to. Her mom and her only sister were dead. Her father was apparently living it up with some slut. The Scoobies were doing their best, but they had been Buffy's friends and not hers. Younger sisters normally inherited clothes, however, it seemed that Dawn had inherited friends. Spike was the only one who she really wanted around. She had heard Tara and Willow talking that morning, about how maybe she should go live with her dad and his new girlfriend. It made her furious. Her father had not even managed to be there for his ex wife's funeral. As she entered Spike's home, she found him sprawled on the floor, empty whiskey bottles at his side. These days there was a haunted look in his eyes, which did not suit him. He had always been more alive than any other vampire she knew. In fact, he acted more alive than many normal people she knew. She wasn't stupid. She knew that it if it were not for his promise to Buffy that he would protect her, he would probably have taken a walk in the sun. Spike was hardly holding himself together and she was in bits as well, but it seemed that together they kept each other going. Sometimes, she worried that he had a death wish and that coupled with his penchant for alcohol and an inclination to violence, caused her many sleepless nights. She didn't know what she would do without him. Unusually, Dawn's arrival had not awoken the vampire. That meant he really must have been out of it last night. She decided to take the remains of a bottle of whiskey and throw it over his head in order to wake him from his drunken stupor. He opened his eyes blearily and starred in surprise at her.

"Get up!"she demanded furiously. "Clean yourself up and come over to the house. The Scoobies want to send me away to live with my dad. Please, I need you to stop them."

That got his attention. He jumped to attention knocking over several of the bottles in the process. He ignored the clattering, however, and turned his attention to the distraught girl in his presence.

"What?"he spluttered in surprise.

"You speak English, dumbass?" she asked snidely. She was still annoyed at the state of the vampire. Spike was more awake now and she could see that he was just beginning to take in what she said.

"They're not sending you anywhere!" he roared, his eyes turning golden. "Not if they want their throats to be remain intact."

She burst into relieved tears and threw her arms around the vampire.

"You're my family now, Spike" she mumbled into his leather coat. He stood stiffly for a moment before relaxing into the embrace. She knew as long as Spike was on her side then she was going nowhere. Spike would take care of her. The sun was down so they were able to travel to Revello Drive easily. Not that the sun would have been much of a barrier considering the mood the vampire was in. It was nice that at least someone wanted her around. Spike stormed ahead and Dawn could barely keep up but he kept looking behind to make sure she was following. Despite this he did not slow his quick pace. Once they finally arrived at the house, Spike nearly pulled the door off its latch with force, when he opened it. Willow and Tara, who were snuggled together on the sofa, jumped in fright. Dawn realised that she was a little worried now at his temper.

"Making yourself at home in Buff-" he cut off abruptly at the mention of Buffy's name. The two witches looked shocked. Spike began his tirade again.

"Making yourselves at home in Dawn's house?" he roared. "You bitches make me sick! You have a right cushy number but there's just one problem. Get Nibblet out of the house, problem solved!" The women were clearly shocked by the accusation and the red haired witch looked close to tears.

"How can you say that?" Willow asked, lip trembling.

"You want Dawn out of the way!" he yelled and Dawn felt the need to step in to diffuse the tension. Still, she was glad that he was speaking aloud the problems that she had with the pair. She loved them but they were taking advantage. She patted his arm in an effort to quell his rage.

"What gives her that idea?" Tara asked, with a quizzical look on her face.

"Her is right here," Dawn responded tired of the three adults talking as if she was not in the room. "I heard you!"

"Oh Dawnie, we don't want you to go," Willow said desperately.

"We just thought you might want to go be with your dad," Tara explained.

"Him!" she stormed. "My father did not even bother coming to Mom's funeral."

"If you want to stay, then we will look after you," Tara said gently, getting up to hug the young girl. Willow soon joined in the hug. Dawn was relieved that there had been a misunderstanding, but Spike was still standing there with a suspicious look on his face. He was watching her back; that made her feel all warm and fuzzy inside. She may have lost a sister, but Spike was like the protective big brother she never had.

Two years ago...

Spike had hardly been around lately. Anytime Buffy was around she hunted him off straight away. For that matter Buffy has hardly been around either. The funny thing was that shortly after Buffy's return from Heaven, they had seemed closer somehow but then suddenly Spike was out on the periphery. It galled her the way Spike had immediately been sidelined by the Scoobies, who had relied heavily on his help in those dark weeks following Buffy's death.. It was not long until Buffy was back in old pattern of antagonising Spike as well. Buffy's birthday party was a cause for celebration and it seemed that everyone was cheerful. Buffy had time to unwind and was more relaxed than usual. Considering Buffy's recent behaviour, Dawn was surprised that her sister agreed to a game of cards with herself and Spike. It seemed that Spike and Buffy were getting on rather well tonight. Dawn really wished they would get on as she loved hanging out with both of them. The three were sitting bowlegged on the floor.

"Can I deal?" Dawn asked excitedly. Spike handed her the deck of cards. Spike had taught her a whole host of tricks and Dawn could not wait to put them into practice. She was so going to whoop their asses or at least Buffy's. Dawn had gotten a lot of practice after Buffy's death, when Spike had been at the Summers house keeping her company. She looked around surreptitiously to make sure the other two were not watching. She took a card from her hand and managed to shove it up her sleeve. However, Buffy was not the slayer for nothing and her beady eye caught Dawn's slight of hand.

"Oh my god, you just cheated!" Buffy exclaimed in horror.

"No I did not!" Dawn protested. Spike winked at her.

"Yes, you did," Buffy said smugly.

"Spike!" Dawn appealed to her friend.

"Yeah you did, Bit,"the vampire replied.

"Hey!" Dawn scowled. "You are a traitor! You taught me everything I know."

"Yeah," he admitted, with a smirk, "I also taught you that the most important thing was never to get caught."

Dawn could see Buffy was getting more and more pissed, but was thankful when she turned her beady glare on the vampire.

"Did you teach her how to cheat?" Buffy asked incredulously, rounding on the vampire.

"Yeah he totally did," Dawn interrupted, "and he also let me taste his whiskey once." She was shamelessly trying to lay the blame on Spike.

"Nibblet!" he growled. "That was supposed to be a secret. Besides it turned you off. That was my plan and it worked good and proper." He was sulking now, while Buffy was looking daggers at him, and Dawn was simply looking smug. Buffy's ire had been diverted temporarily. It was one of those things that Spike was useful for.

"Whiskey!" the slayer said loudly. "You gave my little sister alcohol!"

She was also a dab hand at breaking and entering thanks to the vampire, but Dawn decided it would be best not to mention that part. Buffy's eyebrows were travelling up her forehead. Dawn giggled at her sister's furious expression. Buffy's ire was fun to watch as long as it was directed at someone else. Dawn's titter drew Buffy's attention back to her cheating sister.

"I am not done with you!"Buffy said dangerously then returned to glare at the blonde vampire.

"Ah, come on Slayer," Spike said trying to placate her, "You are not so pure yourself. I taught you how to cheat as well!"

Buffy didn't look impressed and turned her steely gaze at Dawn once more, who was roaring with laughter at the look on her sister's face..

"Buffy, you're so holier than thou" the girl said between giggles. The vampire's mouth was twitching as well at the sisterly banter.

"There is a big difference between knowing how to cheat and actually cheating!" Buffy insisted growing steadily red. Whether it was embarrassment or anger, Dawn wasn't sure.

Suddenly, she spotted a triumphant look on Spike's face. The vampire moved with unnatural speed and leaned over the table at a shocked Buffy.

"What are you doing?" Buffy asked, panicking when he was almost close enough to kiss her. For one moment, Dawn though he would and she was pretty sure Buffy did as well. Instead, he simply reached behind her back and pulled a card from her back pocket of her jeans.

"Slayer does not cheat, apparently!" he said, raising his brow and holding the card between his thumb and finger.

"It's not mine!" Buffy protested but the other two did not believe a word of it. Dawn caught his mischievous eye and was soon rolling around the floor with laughter. Buffy was busted. Times like this and people could mistake them for a family.

A year ago...

Things had not been right between Dawn and Spike, since Buffy and the vampire's relationship reached its violent climax and Dawn had been so hurt. She felt betrayed by both his attempted rape of her sister and his departure without as much as a word. Like all the other men in her life, he had abandoned her. He had never been an enemy to her. That was why it was hard for her to accept. Unlike her sister she had really trusted him. He said he loved Buffy so she had believed that he would never knowingly hurt her. She did not want to believe Xander but once she confronted Buffy and saw her face she knew it was the truth. In that moment, her childhood hero had been ripped from his pedestal. Then as only Spike could, he turned their lives upside down once again, when he waltzed back into their lives with a soul. After much initial pain and wariness Buffy had clearly forgiven him. They were inseparable these days. Buffy claimed they were just friends but Dawn could see the way Buffy looked at him. Dawn, for her part, found it hard to look at him like she used to. Spike certainly couldn't meet her eye, since he realised that she knew about the near rape. Still, she felt the need to make some sort of peace with him. She could see the red glint of his cigarette outside on the back porch. Buffy was having a big meeting with all the potentials and the Scoobies. Tomorrow would be the big showdown and if she did not speak to him now, she may not get a chance again. Dawn had seen him sneaking out and followed him, determined on getting him alone. He had been avoiding her and in truth she had been doing the same, but now was the time to make some sort of peace. He would never be her best friend again. Still, she was determined to put an end to this game of avoidance they had been playing. Unsurprisingly, Spike sensed her approach before she came. If he was puzzled by her seeking him out, his face didn't show it. She took a deep breath and got the words out before she lost her courage.

"I don't forgive you. That's not down to me, but I do not want to set you on fire anymore."

Spike had a shocked but pleased look on his face as she turned around and left the room.

That had been the last time she had spoken to him of course as that had been the night before the final showdown with the First. Dawn was back in the present now and turned to her sister.

"Buffy, I miss him too, you know." Dawn said sadly. "Things may have been all weird that last year but I still do. I still expect him to walk in the door and say something obnoxious."

Buffy nodded smiling weakly and Dawn continued on.

"He really took care of me that summer you were gone," she confessed. "The others were there of course, but with Spike I felt like I could just miss you. I never felt that with them."

"Did you really feel like that, Dawnie?" Buffy asked. "When I came back I felt like I should be fine, but I wasn't. He understood that." The blonde slayer paused for a moment.

"For a while it was good and then we let other things get in the way."

"The famous sexcapades," Dawn added drily.

"Yeah," Buffy said. Then she shook her head as she suddenly realised what her little sister had just said.

"Now, I am going to pretend that I never heard you say that. My sister doesn't know what that means."

"Ugh. It is not like I went around picturing it, Buffy," Dawn said. "Not that I didn't imagine having a roll in the sack with him, myself." Dawn's eyes glinted mischievously at Buffy's outraged expression.

"La, la, la!" muttered Buffy, covering her ears.

"Hey, you knew I had a crush on him!" Dawn pointed out loudly.

"You were fifteen," her sister spluttered, but removed her hands from her ears. The younger woman laughed.

"Come on, Buffy," she grinned, "He was a hottie. When I first met him, I thought he was drop dead gorgeous. But if it makes you feel better, then I saw how totally into you he was and he became my friend and the big doofus brother I never had."

"He would have loved to hear you say that," Buffy said soberly. "Did you ever get a chance to tell him?"

"No," Dawn answered jerkily, "I wish I got the chance. Things were unresolved between us."

"He was fond of you, too," Buffy said kindly.

"How about you?" Dawn prompted suddenly, turning her sister's earlier question back at her.

"Huh?" Buffy's eyes were like a startled rabbit's.

"Did you tell him how you felt about him?" she clarified. She looked at Buffy expectantly but once she said the look on Buffy's face she turned away.

"I did," the slayer answered simply. Her tone was one of finality and her sister knew not to press her any further. Besides Buffy had opened up more than she had since the day they left Sunnydale on a minibus. Buffy had a faraway look in her eye again and both women lapsed into silence. After a few moments of quiet, Dawn finally plucked up the courage to speak once more.

"Mom liked him too," Dawn said. "And he loved her cocoa and marshmallows."

Spike had been a unique vampire, with a penchant for human food and alcohol and certainly had a way with the ladies.

"Spike was always a sucker for chocolaty goodness!" Buffy added, apparently musing on the conundrum that was William the Bloody. Dawn mouth twitched with the mention of the word "sucker".

"I can't believe you just called Spike a sucker." Dawn roared with laughter and once Buffy realised just what she had said, they were both in fits of giggles. It felt good to laugh. Dawn could not recall a time in recent memory, that they had laughed together like this. They really should have fun more often.

"I guess it went both ways then." Buffy smiled, when she had recovered from the laughter. "He had a thing of Summers women and they liked him too."

"Yeah," Dawn said.

"It was good to talk about him," Buffy confessed.

Dawn smiled sadly. Before she could stop herself, she asked her sister the one question that had been plaguing her since Spike's demise.

"Did you ever think that maybe I needed to talk about him too?" Dawn asked. The words were unintentionally harsh but the delivery was soft. Buffy's eyes filled with understanding followed by shame.

"Oh Dawnie!" she exclaimed.

"It's okay, Buff," Dawn said reassuringly. Those words needed to be said but there was no anger in them. Her sister had a tendency to get so wrapped up in herself, that she often overlooked what was going on right under her nose.

"How would you feel about staying at the motel a little longer and coming back here again tomorrow?" Buffy proposed unexpectedly.

"I would really like that," Dawn replied. She was glad to spend a little more time thinking about those they lost. They never got to say goodbye. A year on they could take the time to mourn their losses and move on. The two women lapsed into silence once more.

"Spike was so brave at the end," Buffy said quietly, breaking the silence. "You would have been so proud of him!"

The two women smiled fondly at the thought of the vampire. Things had changed a lot since that day they had fled in the school bus. The events of the last year had brought them closer together. Buffy and Dawn were sisters but now more importantly they were friends as well.

"Goodbye, Spike," the two women said in unison as they headed, arm in arm, for their car, where Xander was waiting patiently. Maybe this was Spike's last gift to them: friendship.

The end.