1998, summer, LA. That's where she met him, the kind of cocksure son of a bitch that made some small part of her stand at attention and take notice. The way he'd swaggered into the dinner where she'd been slinging burgers, grinning like he just bought the world and wanted you to ask him how. He'd told her his name was John Bonham, like she believed that for a second. But she was lonely, scared, and just a little bit desperate so she'd taken his offer of a roll in the hay. She was fine with it, hell she'd even enjoyed it.
Till three months later her period stopped. She gave birth to Dawn two months before she'd taken down the mayor on graduation day. Or at least that's how she remembered it, how the monks constructed it all in her head. She wasn't even sure if he was real. If there was some guy out there with ash blond hair, big green eyes, and bowed legs driving around in some tank of a black car. Maybe there was. Maybe he was a tax accountant in Ohio who didn't even share the same memory she had of how her daughter was conceived. Maybe he did. There were a lot of maybe's in her life since she found out about Dawn, since she looked into her baby's scared blue eyes and watched her flick in and out of existence. A lot of if's and when's racing through her head constantly. Since before she jumped, since after they brought her back. And Dawn, beautiful, bright Dawn standing scared on the stairs, clutching a bear that looked much too large for her, her other tiny hand clutching desperately to Spike's leather duster as he tried to calm her, calm both of them, his eyes scared and as bright blue as her daughter's. She wondered, as he patched up her hands that night, if maybe the monks had made Spike her father instead of the man in her head, but it didn't fit, not then and not later. Either way, he cared for Dawn, and that was more then she ever thought her daughter would get out of life. Even if he was a vampire.
All of this a constantly running stream of thought in her head as she watched the people she used to consider friends, before the betrayals, before the doubts that ate away at every happy memory she'd ever had in Sunnydale. Every time Willow waved her hand. Every time Xander turned his eyes. Every time Giles looked at her with disappointment in his eyes. Some nights she would lay awake, listening to her daughter breath and wonder if life could have been different. If she hadn't been the slayer, if her mom hadn't died. If Dawn wasn't her daughter. But she was, and it was Dawn she had to think about, Dawn she had to protect. Sunnydale wasn't safe, not for either of them, and the sooner she rectified the problem the better.