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Sweet Carolina Rain

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Xander watched Dawn playing with her new puppy through the sliding glass door. A light, warm summer rain fell, and he couldn’t hold back a soft smile as he watched them try to dodge the raindrops. Dawn laughed freely, happily, and his smile widened. It had been a long time since he’d heard such a carefree sound from the girl he thought of as a sister.

Strong arms wrapped around him from behind, and Xander leaned into his lover’s chest. “Been awhile since we heard that,” Spike said softly.

Xander nodded. “I was just thinking that.”

“Think she’s finally settled in here,” Spike said as he rested his chin on Xander’s shoulder. “South Carolina is quite a change from California.”

“We needed to be somewhere different.”

Spike couldn’t argue with that. After Glory, there was no way the three of them could have stayed in Sunnydale. It was just too painful for those who were left, and that only consisted of himself, Xander, Dawn, and Giles. Anya had been crushed by debris, and Willow hadn’t been at full strength when she tried to retrieve Tara’s mind. The backlash from her magic had killed them both.

Giles had gone back to England after getting Faith out of prison and setting her up as the Slayer once more. Wesley had agreed to be her watcher again, and the pair was apparently doing alright, at least according to what Giles had said in the letters they’d received from him in the past year. Despite the letters, none of them expected to see him again. The Watcher had also made sure Spike, Xander, and Dawn were settled in their new home in Myrtle Beach before he left. Xander’s boss had arranged the transfer and his boy was now well on his way to becoming a highly respected contractor.

Shaking off the memories, Spike smirked, “I heard Bit say ‘y’all’ yesterday.”

Xander grinned. “Gods, that’s all we need. Valley Girl meets Southern Belle.”

They both chuckled and settled in to watch her and the pup play. After a few minutes, Dawn caught sight of them and yelled, “C’mon Xander! Come play with us!”

Spike kissed Xander’s neck and gave him a little push. “Go on, luv. I’ll be out when the sun goes down a bit more.”

Xander kissed him briefly then slipped outside. He stood on the back deck for a moment, relishing the soft feel and the sweetness of the rain as it washed over him. He closed his eyes and sent up a prayer that Buffy was pleased with how he and Spike were taking care of Dawn and that she understood why they’d gotten as far away from the Hellmouth as they could.

An excited bark brought his attention back to the backyard and he barely had time to brace himself before he had an armful of Dawn. Her cheeks were flushed and her blue eyes were bright with happiness. She grinned and said, “I think I’ve taught Peaches to roll over!”

Xander looked down at the brown and white Boxer puppy and chuckled at the clearly jealous expression on the little face. He took Dawn’s hand and said, “Show me whatcha got, Dawnster,” as he lead them back out into the yard.

As the sweet Carolina rain continued to fall gently on them, Xander thought he hadn’t been this happy for a long time. It looked like the old adage was true; time really did heal all wounds.