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Partners in Crime

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"Do you like this colour?"

The nail gunk on Dawn's fingers is bright arterial red.

He shrugs. "S'all right." He doesn't say, as he once would have, that he prefers it in blood spurting straight from the carotid. Nowadays, he couldn't give a monkeys.

She looks crestfallen. "I would've gotten black, okay, but I guess they were all out?"

He sighs inwardly. Human teenagers are fucking hard work when you're not trying to kill them.

"I like it fine, all right? Where'd you get it from?"

"The drugstore on Main." She preens a little. "That's the second nail polish this week. Pretty good going, huh, for a beginner?"

He clenches his fist to stop himself giving her a clip around the ear (because people nowadays think they can keep their kids in line without physical violence, and he has to grit his teeth and play along if he wants to keep seeing her, no matter how daft an idea it is).

"Bloody hell, Niblet, you forgotten what I told you already? Never lift stuff in the same place twice a month, let alone a week? You wanna get caught, or what?"

Dawn glares at him. "Like I have a choice? This is Sunnydale, okay? There's only so many stores have anything worth stealing."

He glares back. "Fine. I'll drive you to LA one night, an' we'll do over somewhere posh - Bloomingdale's, or whatever."

"When it's not a school night," he adds, because he remembers, belatedly, that he's supposed to say stuff like that, and if the weird not-sisters knew he was teaching Dawn to shoplift, he'd be out the front door on his ear and lucky if he only got disinvited instead of turned into a toad, or such like.

But her face had fallen before he'd even opened his big mouth and jerked them back to reality - a reality where Buffy's dead, thanks to them, and if she weren't, she'd be furious with both of them - Dawn for stealing, him for teaching her how.

But she is dead, so nothing matters anyway.

"Forget it, Niblet. Here." He passes Dawn the popcorn, and they go back to watching whatever inane bollocks is on TV, (all these teen shows look the same to him), while the black dog settles across both their laps again, like a dusty old blanket.

And so it'll go on, he thinks. Tomorrow and tomorrow, and all the bleedin' tomorrows after.

Each day as meaningless as the one before.

He feels like death. He feels like murder.

He feels like the only thing stopping him walking out into the sun is that he hasn't yet drunk all the whisky in the world. Or maybe it's just that he can't be bothered.

It's all so fucking pointless.

And that's what keeps drawing him to Dawn. She feels like that too (well, maybe not the whisky part), even if she is acting out the stages of grief, or whatever the fuck you're supposed to call it, in a different way to him.

So here they both sit.

Until Birnam Wood comes to Dunsin-fucking-nane.

Or she comes back from the dead, which is about as sodding likely.