*** Spike buried his face in Dawn's hair as he buried himself within her. She used to tremble when he would sit with her, on edge as if hellfire and demons were waiting to tear her from his grasp. Now her tremblings hurtled them both over the edge, past redemption. They shouldn't be finding this comfort in one another, not with her sister somewhat back from an untimely grave with cold eyes that never left it. Shouldn't be doing this at all.
Dawn still seemed to see the hero he couldn't be. Got a shot at it once, maybe, but he was a fallen hero now, fallen from that tower, fallen from grace. Couldn't save her, save either of his girls, even from himself.
This never would have happened but for a chance meeting in an alley. Story of his unlife, really. Dawn found him that cold grey morning where Buffy had left him, battered and broken and defeated and no savior. Dawn, though, saved him from her encroaching namesake, coaxing him back to his crypt and onto a sarcophagus, remonstrations alternating with tears.
"What did this to you?" And then, sensing a glimmer of truth in his silence, "Who did this? She... No. She can't. She has no right!"
"Dawn..." Spike managed to roll painfully onto his side and reach for her wrist before she could fly out in a rage. "I asked her to. Wanted it, wanted to save her. Don't... just leave it. I don't mind."
"You still love her more than me. After all we've been to each other, you still..." Dawn paused as if she couldn't bear to continue.
"No, sweetling. There is no more. There is only why. She's strong and hard and sunshine-real." He traced the blue veins in her wrist with his thumb, caressing more than imprisoning. "You're moonlight and shadow and fancies, more a part of my world than she is, Slayer or no. I need you both. Please, don't go to her about this."
Dawn pulled her hand from his loosened grasp and narrowed her eyes. "Oh. My god. She's got you. I can't have anything that isn't hers first -- hers still. You let her beat you bloody because she let --" Her voice broke into a suspiciously gulping swallow, but she maintained her hardened glare.
A sad half-smile played across Spike's mouth momentarily. "No let with Buffy, love. You should know that. Takes what she wants."
As if casting aside hesitation, Dawn bent swiftly down to the cool stone slab, pressing a hand on either side of his head. She was morning-dew wet, soft and sweet. Her lips brushed his and then more urgently tasted him. She pulled back and met his startled gaze, unflinching at his swollen eye and bloodied mouth.
"Fine." Her words were filled with icy fury. "She's the sister you want -- but I'm the only one you'll ever really have. And she's not the only one who takes what she wants."
Dawn punished him with kisses where Buffy punished him with her fists. Perhaps she loved him wholeheartedly the way Buffy could not, cold as the grave and broken as her last dead man had left her. But moments of comfort from Dawn's body, murmurs of affection from her soul, couldn't absolve Spike of the guilt. He whispered his transgressions into the soft folds between her thighs, tongue dancing, making her writhe. Absolution it might not have been, blood spilled in vain, but it was all he could offer.
This was all wrong, bollixed up six ways from Sunday. But he couldn't deny loving either of his summer girls, hot and short and sweet as that season might be. And so the weeks passed, days and nights mixed up with Dawn coming in the afternoon and Buffy in the evening. Wrong, wrong it all was, and he needed them both more than blood, more than sex.
And one afternoon, Spike returned from negotiations heated but ultimately fruitful, sloughing the muck of the sewers from his boots as he ascended. Dawn was waiting in the upper level of his crypt, unclothed and shimmering in the flecked half-light from the windows.
Spike smiled at the sight of her smooth sweet body, buoyed by the certainty that soon his girls would be freed from the financial worries that had recently plagued them. He wouldn't apprise them of the details; Dawn would fret remembering the last time they'd dealt with demon eggs, and Buffy would feel the press of duty too strongly to accept any gain from such underhanded dealings. No, best to keep them unawares and happy. How pleased they would be!
He even entertained, for a moment, a fleeting image of the three of them intertwined limb and limb in a bed that was theirs, all of theirs, under a roof they owned free and clear. Kissing, caressing, reaching and clinging, they would be -- family. Dawn's too-bright eyes captured his, wrenching him from his reverie, so he didn't see her lift the blade until it was too late.
The dull knife skittered across the underside of her left breast, marking her with beads of red, vibrant, real after all. His senses still spoke of Buffy, the current disarray of the crypt's lower level bearing mute witness to the previous evening's pleasures, and it took him a instant to register the tangy metallic odor coating his tongue and hardening him at once.
"She'll never give you this," Dawn said calmly. "I will. Taste me."
Spike stilled with the gravity of the moment. His Dawn wasn't food; she was laughter and sparkling tears. He held her all summer when she cried out her guilt and pain for surviving Buffy, for being an unwilling blood sacrifice and worse, a useless one. He could see her offer clear and bright and sharp -- she didn't want her sister taking her place this time, and she didn't care what it cost.
Her innocence was lost long before Spike ever touched her, gone and shattered and fallen in rubies red from that tower. He couldn't save her from that, but he wouldn't be the monster for her and reduce her to sustenance for a demon, blood sacrifice after all. That wasn't saving her; it was savaging her.
Turning his head from his girl all wet and delicious for him, Spike bit his lip, drawing blood much less delectable and tempting than that on offer. But Dawn's scent lingered with him and he could taste her desire, a faint tinge of fear, and that utter lack of self-preservation. She wanted to throw herself into the gaping maw, and he would be damned all over again before he brought this vicious death to his Bit.
A glance confirmed that she was furious and hurt that he'd rendered her gesture useless. But offending her was better than preying on her, much as he longed to cover the distance between them in an instant and let his fingers linger on soft breast and belly and in sticky sweetness as he licked her clean, lapping and sucking and grazing her opened skin with his fangs...
Without a word, Spike dropped back down to the lower level of his crypt, eschewing the steps and crumbling on the stone floor, silhouetted in the light from the opening above. He didn't glance up as Dawn's shadow fell briefly upon him. "I was never yours. Not really. You don't want me," Dawn bit out through clenched teeth, and then the crypt door slammed overhead.
Spike laughed a choking laugh which cut off into a cry. Though he hadn't succumbed, he could still taste Dawn's blood tickling his palate and filling his senses. Acrid and sweet, that was the taste of goodbye. Should have known vampires weren't meant to kiss the morning sun.
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