DAWN'S PROM NIGHT

Disclaimer as before.

A/N: All right… it's fluff. Shameless, mindless, slightly angsty fluff. But I've just spoiled myself utterly for the Season 7 premiere (and I have to wait til January – January, dammit – to see it) so I need fluff… I apologise profusely for the angst. This wasn't meant to be angsty. But, as usual, it just happened… Enjoy, nevertheless.

During their conversation, the music had changed to the traditionally expected 'slow' song, and the dance floor had dwindled from groups of friends to huddled couples. Not wanting to embarrass him, Dawn stepped back from Spike and curtseyed clumsily, emulating a Victorian lady. "Thank you for the dance, kind sir," she said, with a passable English accent.

"It was my pleasure," replied Spike, bowing. They laughed, as Buffy approached from her watch-point near the punch, spotting an opening for her to steal back her original date. She looked apologetically at her sister.

"Sorry, honey… do you mind if I borrow him?"

"Nah, it's okay, Buff. He's all yours." Dawn stood back, smiling genuinely happily for her sister, and made her way back to the table she'd been sitting at before so she could watch them.

"So," said Buffy, "do I get a dance, too, or have you had enough?"

Spike reached over to take her hand. "With you? It's never enough…"

Buffy smiled and moved effortlessly forwards into his arms. They held each other and moved only slightly to the music, enjoying each other's presence as their surroundings melted into nothingness. Dawn watched them from the table with some amazement, realising that the only thing they knew in that moment was each other. If it wasn't for either of them – with Buffy's sisterly generosity and Spike's unnecessary effort to make their 'date' special – she wouldn't even be at the Prom in the first place. Since Buffy had been planning on going with Spike originally, she did owe it to her to let her have him back for the last dance.

The Slayer leaned closer to Spike and rested her head against his shoulder. "Spike?"

He smiled to himself. "It's Bill," he muttered, absently.

"Huh?"

"Bill… uh… 's what she…" He trailed off as he caught the confused face looking up at him. "Never mind. Yes?"

"Thanks for doing this tonight. Dawn would've stayed home if it wasn't for you."

"Anything for you and the Bit, love."

"Yeah, I know, but… I mean, the flowers, the corsage, the limo. All of it. You didn't have to."

He turned, taking her with him, so he could see Dawn. Janice had sat back down and the two girls were talking and giggling, Dawn occasionally glancing in their direction with a small smile. "Well," he said, "if all the boys in this school were so stupid as to let my Nibblet slip away, it's their loss. Look at her, Buffy…" She extricated herself from his grasp a little so she could oblige. "Look at her, and tell me there isn't a more beautiful girl in this room."

Buffy smiled. "Careful, Spike… I may get jealous."

Luckily, he knew she was only kidding. "It runs in the family," he whispered.

She snuggled back against him, resuming her previous position. "I can't believe she'll be heading off to college soon. Seems only yesterday she was just my clumsy kid sister and I couldn't wait to get rid of her…"

"You still can't wait to get rid of her," he noted. "All that peace and quiet…"

She prodded him. "I guess so, but…" A sigh. "God, I'm going to miss her, Will."

She'd used his given name, which, of late, she only did when something was really bothering her. He'd learnt to take it in his stride and not mention it when she did. The conversation following the first time she'd done it, completely by accident, had been decidedly awkward to say the least. "Me, too, love…"

"You've been good for her, you know," she admitted. "I mean, Giles was like the important father-figure type, to both of us… but you…"

"I was just there when she needed a friend," he explained.

"No, you've always been more than that to her… like her… her brother, or something. Even when she had that huge crush on you-"

Spike suddenly pulled back and looked at her. "Whoa, wait a second… Nibblet had a crush on me? When?"

"About four years ago… oh, come on, don't tell me you didn't notice…"

He thought about it. "Now you come to mention it, I did wonder…" A wink. "Looks like that runs in the family, too."

She decided to ignore that comment. "Seriously, though, I think you've been a positive influence. Hell, it's not like she ever listened to me…"

"Well, it's been difficult for both of you," he pointed out. "One minute you're her sister, the next you're trying to be her mum, too."

"Which gives me all the more reason never to have kids. Ever," she decided. Spike pulled her back into his arms and gave her a quick squeeze.

"Don't put yourself down," he said. "You've done a fantastic job with her… you'd be a great mother."

"You think so?"

"Yes."

"Oh. Thanks." She gave him a kiss, stopping the conversation before it headed into dangerous territory.

They'd been together for four years, which, by comparison to Spike's previous relationship with Dru, wasn't that long. It felt like decades. They were happy, and Buffy knew Spike was in it for the long haul, because that's what he did – threw himself heart and soul (literally, this time) into any situation and stuck it through until the end. Except she had a horrible feeling that the one thing that would eventually rip them apart would be 'the kids thing', and it would be beyond their control to stop it. One of them would end up leaving for the other's good.

She refused to let that happen, and if that meant avoiding the subject altogether, then so be it. She looked up to see Spike watching Dawn again. "Buffy?"

"Mm-hmm?"

"Do you think she knows… how much she means to me?"

Buffy followed his gaze. Dawn smiled in their direction and gave a small wave before turning back to another of her friends. "She knows. She's always known."

"Good." He sniffed, attempting to cover the fact that he'd let his emotions get the better of him. "Think I might, y'know, tell her anyway. Before she leaves Sunnydale."

"She'd like that." They simultaneously looked away from her and at each other. Buffy smiled as she spotted the unshed tears in his eyes. She'd never realised exactly how much he loved Dawn until that moment. He noticed her smile with some curiosity.

"What?"

She merely smiled slightly wider. "Have I told you I love you lately?" she asked, nonchalantly. Spike's only response was a grin – that same grin she'd provoked six years ago when she'd agreed to marry him, albeit under a spell – and a soft kiss that made the entire universe dissolve.

Dawn watched them from her seat at the table. She was well aware that everyone had seen her enter the room with Spike on her arm, and that they were all now watching him with her sister with some suspicion, but she didn't care. It was easy enough to explain, after all. And to think she'd nearly not come to the Prom at all. Even if Spike hadn't been her date, she wouldn't have missed it for the world, just to see him and Buffy so happy and crazy-in-love.

It was just what she needed before heading off into the world: to know that her family – and Spike was family – would be all right… to know that family would survive with one less member… and that it would, without a doubt, still be there when she got back.

Finis…

I realise I have a somewhat unhealthy obsession with "Something Blue" – but is it my fault Spike looked absolutely frelling adorable in it? I mean, he was all sweet and helpless and aw… *ahem* Anyway. That's it. All done. Now I can get back to "Cradle"…