Disclaimer: Not mine, you know?
A/N: A fill for amandachafin's prompt at Comment_Fic: "BtVS: Spike and the DeSoto - what ever happened to Spike's signature ride?"
I… kinda answered the question. Sort of.
Dawn sits cross-legged on the dry, prickly grass and stares at her hands in her lap.
"I'm sorry," she offers meekly once more.
Spike continues his pace around the car, like he's certainthat the last time he walked around it he was only imagining the giant gaping hole and this time he'll see that the De Soto is really still in one polished, slightly greasy, piece.
It's still not.
Dawn likes when Spike watches her the best. Even though he's a lot quieter lately and all depressed, he's still pretty much the coolest person Dawn knows.
Except he's not technically a person.
He's still pretty cool, though.
He's drunk a lot of the time, but it doesn't really bother her. She'd probably be drunk most of the time too, if she could. If the Scoobies wouldn't ground her for all eternity for it.
And besides, Spike being drunk isn't like Xander being drunk, or Willow. Dawn's seen both of them; Xander just started getting angry at everything and Willow went all silly-happy. Giles drinks as well, but mostly it just makes him tired, and a little too easily amused.
Drunk Spike is actually pretty much like normal Spike, at least the normal Spike that's been around lately, ever since the tower. Really, the only thing that changes is the slight wobbly unsteadiness his steps take on after he's worked his way through a bottle of whiskey. That and he cries a bit easier, but since he's already stuck in that perpetual state of sadness that hangs around their fractured group like an unrelenting cloud, it isn't that different.
Spike hasn't said anything since she's ploughed into the loose interpretation of the Angel of Grief, which someone had though ought to have outstretched wings.
No one ever takes precautions for the girl being taught how to drive by the vampire in the cemetery. No one.
"I'm really sorry, okay?" Dawn tries once more. Quiet Spike is starting to freak her out, now that the shock of impaling the car has dulled somewhat. Usually when Spike's angry, he just yells and threatens things she's pretty sure he wouldn't do even if he could. Mostly because a lot of them are physically impossible.
It's like some sort of crazy anomaly. Spike in silence just doesn't happen. He's mellowed lately, sure. They all have. Slipped into the quietness that comes from the sadness rotting them all slowly away. But he's never actually completely shut up before.
"Spike?" Dawn asks, her nerves forcing frightening images of little girls in coal bins through her mind's eye. "C'mon, Spike. Say something, okay?"
He spins suddenly from the car, with its front left side crumpled up like a can of cola under a boot heel, and strides toward her. She can't help but cringe away a little from the unreadableness of his expression. Spike's cool hand grips her face and he looks her up and down while she tries to, discreetly, pull away just a bit.
His first words aren't very comforting.
"What?" Dawn asks. "That? No… it's fine."
Spike reaches down anyway and tugs up the hem of her shirt. Dawn's hands flutter out to stop him; just because he's supposed to be "babysitting" her doesn't mean she's suddenly waved all her rights to privacy. But Spike doesn't lift the fabric any higher than her solar plexus.
Oh. Yeah. Those.
The little cuts she'd gotten up on the tower, right before everything went horrible, have reopened and blood leaks from them slowly.
"It's just a few stitches," Dawn promises. She doesn't mention the ache in her shoulder where she knows an ugly bruise is forming. "Really, Spike. I'm fine."
The vampire looks her in the eye for a moment, deciding whether or not to trust her word. He must, though, because he drops the shirt and helps her to her feet.
Dawn's knees buckles and she almost drops, but Spike's got his arm around her and he doesn't let her fall.
"I'm supposed to keep you safe," Spike says.
Was that what that was? That indecipherable look on his face? Had it been guilt?
Spike doesn't need any more guilt. They're already drowning in it, the both of them.
It's why she prefers his company these days, really. She likes when it's Spike watching her because he doesn't worry about how guilty she feels. He tells her his side of the story and she tells him hers and they don't mesh up in terms of blame, but he doesn't argue over it the way the others do.
He feels that guilt the same as she does, added on to the choking grief and aching loss. His fault. Her fault. But at the end of the day, it doesn't really matter, does it? It doesn't matter if she wanders around, knowing that she should have been the one to jump.
Because at the end of the day, Buffy's still dead, no matter whose fault it was.
The others like to tell her she shouldn't have jumped. They tell her often, and with conviction, and sometimes in outright lies, though always meant to comfort. Spike never tells her this, just tells her he's glad she didn't.
He doesn't push, either. He doesn't want her to identify into the seven stages, or to weep and scream, or to be better. He doesn't dance around her like she's fragile. He's just there.
It's good, at the end of the day, when he comes to watch over her. Even though it means they're not invited to the meetings, even though it underscores that they're still the outsiders of the group.
But after a day of pretending to be dealing and pretending to be okay, it's good to just be.
Sometimes, she's pretty sure it's the only thing helping her keep her promise.
"I guess I'm just not meant to drive," Dawn says to steer the conversation elsewhere. "A life of pedestrianism awaits me. Walking to school, to work, to my retirement home. Maybe it runs in the family, you know? 'cause B—"
She tries to steer it away but it always ends up in the same place anyways. Everything always does.
Spike looks away, turning his eyes away from her but also keeping his gaze low enough to avoid looking at the ruins of his car. Head bowed, he lights a cigarette.
Even though he's removed his arm, she still remains huddled up against his side. It's safe there, whether she gets to say it out loud or not.
"Look, let's get you back home, alright? Girls'll pitch a collective fit I keep you out so late again."
Dawn nods her head in agreement. "Spike," she says again, hoping to capture his attention. "I'm really sorry."
Spike looks at her, then back at the car, and then back at her. He knocks a few ashes from his cigarette and puts his arm back around her shoulder, drawing her up against his hip as the head toward the cemetery gates.
"'s just a car, Lil' Bit. Rather have you around than it."
And under the shock of the evening and the settled guilt and grief that hang around them everywhere they go, Dawn's lips quiver into the first semblance of a smile they've had all month.