Burn, crash, scream, repeat, and he protects the niblet.
He sees the Buffybot, torn to pieces, and he can't even say he's sorry.
The leader is the biggest and the ugliest. That's how you know he's the leader. Spike and the quiet witch take him out. How's that for irony.
There's no use pretending to anyone that Buffy is still alive. They call the police and report her missing. But with so many people missing every day, hardly anyone notices or cares.
Her father calls Dawn, but believes her when she says she's fine here.
Once he had dreamed of this many demons. Now they're at worst a threat, and at best a nuisance. None of the newcomers can play poker to save their lives.
Spike has never seen Harris silent before. Slightly more familiar is the call of his blood, blood curdling over his skin, his shirt. But he doesn't drink. He's accepted his patheticness long ago. Imagines Buffy is still watching him. Still trying to prove himself.
The witch is kneeling next to the body.
Sad eyes look up at him. God, why are they all so sad?
He's glad Buffy never saw this.
(But if Buffy was here it wouldn't have happened.)
"She couldn't…" Tara wipes some blood off of the face. "She and Anya, they're…"
Off having a good cry. Probably not together.
Spike signs, and kneels to help her. "Never thought I'd try to pretty up Harris's body."
Wrong thing to say. Tara's hand hovers over the hole in the chest, and were it any of the other Scoobies Spike would wonder if he was about to get punched.
(Buffy would have punched him.)
"At least Willow can't try and bring him back this time," she says finally.
He blinks. "Huh?"
"Fucking demons," he yells, kicking dirt at her grave. Her shrine. The place she might have escaped, if— "Stupid fucking demons."
He kills at least twenty that night.
Dawn cries in his crypt after the funeral.
"We can't even bury him near Buffy."
He finds reasons to go through the high school. Just checking that everything is normal. Trail her scent from the basement. (Protect her, till the end of the world.)
"I haven't found a way to—there would be a way to curse someone. Vengeance for dying," she says, staring at the bottle. "He's so stupid. Getting himself killed like that. Stupid, horrible, asshole. But he was always stupid. He was always—so—stupid."
Spike reaches for her. And they never talk about that night ever again.
He ends up teaching Dawn to fight. Stab, kick, jump. The monks made her out of Buffy, but she isn't Buffy. But she does okay.
Spike still won't let her go patrolling alone.
Frozen people. Nerds with big dreams. But they leave soon enough. Everyone does. After awhile, the demons even get the message (that Spike will leave their dismembered bodies outside Willy's) and stop coming.
He's almost disappointed.
"She burned alive from the inside," Dawn says when she brings him the news. Voice hollow. "Too much of it. Magic. Her organs cooked."
"Red kept me from stakin' myself once," Spike says. He isn't sure why he tells her this.
This funeral he goes to.
When Spike goes to visit Buffy afterwards, there are two new graves, lettered in sharpie.
"There's nothing under them," Dawn tells him, "But I didn't think she'd want to be alone."
When his chip starts going off, Dawn alternately swears at and guilts Riley until they take it out.
"If you want to leave, you should be able to," she says. "God knows everyone else does."
Till the end of the world.
She doesn't go to college. Just works in the magic box. Anya still owns it, in theory, but her vacations from Sunnydale are getting longer and longer. One day, Spike figures, she just won't come back.
Then she does, but Tara and the Niblet insist on staking her. "She was a vengeance demon. I don't know how much damage she could do."
Spike gives up his last shred of self-respect when he realizes he agrees.
The night they scatter Anya's dust over Xander's grave, next to where they'd left Buffy seven years ago, Dawn pushes off his jeans for the first time.
"You pretend I'm Buffy," she says, "and I'll pretend I'm alive."
"I'm sorry," Tara says. "I'm so sorry. I'll visit every summer, and you have my phone and email."
Dawn smiles and hugs her. "I've survived for over twenty years." (No, Spike thinks, only eight.) "You show those British witches what's up."
Then she stakes about fifteen vamps. It's a new record. Then they have sex a cold marble bench, in a desperate attempt not to cry.
"Should I be jealous?" the New Boyfriend grins at Spike, who laughs.
"No, but if you had any sense you'd run for your life."
Numerous new boyfriends. "I think you scare them away," Dawn tells him.
He shrugs. "I didn't ask to be this good looking and athletic, but we've all got crosses to bear."
She's chewing her lip. "It's not like we've—for awhile—we're not—we were never actually…"
(Protect her. Till the end of the world.)
"We're trying to survive," Spike says. Sits down next to her. "We don't choose how."
He offers her the bottle, smiling at the face she makes. "Does he make you happy?"
She smiles a little. "I love him."
That doesn't mean she's happy.
Dawn has The Wedding. Spike gives her away. But not really. Despite The Husband's abilities with a stake, Spike still hangs around.
Protect her. Till the end of the world.
The twin girls are Buffy Tara and Anya Willow, but they all call the first one Tara.
Except Spike. He calls them the Little Niblets.
The Husband looks uncomfortable with this, but Dawn just laughs.
Till the end of the world.
Even if that happens to be tonight.
But he leaves the day Anya asks her mother if Spike is a Bad Guy. He can see the future—two little girls trusting vampires, thinking their parents are murderers. Two little girls not understanding who to trust.
"Email me if you need something," Spike tells Dawn. "I'll break into a library once a week."
His Niblet is crying. "Are you going to start killing again?"
Dawn. Husband. All the humans. "No," he says. "I don't think so."
He's the next in line to leave her.
The Husband wraps his arm around her shoulders.
When Tara dies, it's a daytime funeral. Dawn brings the grandkids.
Spike is in Uruguay.
He leans against the bar, drinking his beer. Looking around for a nibble.
"Hey, are you Spike?" The vampire next to him seems awed. Must be a fledge.
"Did you really take care of some humans?"
Spike has found her. Blonde. It's a blonde week. Sometimes it's the dark haired ones, like his Dru. And sometimes it's that long brown—she'd cut it short, later on, and she'd been bald when she died. But that's not how he remembers her. He cycles through them. Looks for the people he's lost in every new person he meets.
He's kept his promise. He doesn't kill them. Just grazing. Sometimes he even passes it off as a hickey.
"Yeah," he says finally. "I did. But that was a long time ago."