He couldn’t drink hot chocolate with little marshmallows anymore.
The memories of Joyce making the beverage for him in the wee hours of the morning were too painful. Those hours that they’d sat at the breakfast bar and talked about anything and everything were some of the best of his unlife. She’d hung on his every word as he described growing up in Victorian England. Art and literature had been favourite topics as well. And he knew he’d helped distract her from worrying about Buffy patrolling. Joyce Summers had been one classy lady and he’d loved her. It tore him up that he couldn’t save her. If Spike ever wanted the wound her passing had left in his heart to heal, then he had to stay away from the thing that reminded him of her the most.
He managed for almost two years. Until the soul that’d been shoved inside him drove him crazy. Until the First came. Until he came up from Buffy’s basement to find the house empty but for Dawn in the kitchen, listlessly stirring the confection on the stove.
“What are you doin’, Bit?” he asked cautiously.
“Making hot chocolate,” she answered softly, a hint of tears in her voice.
Spike understood then. “Missing your mum, yeah?”
Dawn nodded, never looking up from the pan.
Spike headed for the cabinet that held the little marshmallows. He said, “She and I used to spend hours in here talking while you were asleep. We’d go through two panfuls sometimes. She started buying the cocoa and marshmallows in bulk, just so she wouldn’t run out.”
Dawn sniffed and glanced at him from the corner of her eye. “I remember.”
After they’d assembled their mugs they sat at the breakfast bar and stared at them sadly.
“It’s not the same, is it?” Spike asked.
Dawn shook her head. “This used to be the ultimate comfort food. Now…” she trailed off, but Spike picked up the thread.
“Now, it’s anything but.”
The kitchen was silent for a few minutes then Dawn asked, “What did you and Mom talk about?”
Spike smiled faintly in remembrance. “Life, luv. We talked about life.”
“Share a little of it with me?”
As Spike started to tell her of conversations long past they slowly emptied the mugs. It still hurt, but as they drank, Joyce was once again alive in Dawn’s expressions and Spike’s memory. Maybe hot chocolate with little marshmallows was still comfort food after all.