The man – well, not strictly speaking man, but definitely male – stood in the train station, watching security and Abernathy shepherd what was left of the Mockingjay onto the train that would take her back to what was left of her home.
What he wouldn’t give for a decent fag right now. Shame smoking was no longer a thing. Too déclassé for the Capital, too expensive for the districts, too unhealthy for 13.
At least he went by his own name these days. Well, given name, anyway. Stick around long enough and everything old became new and trendy again eventually. William, good solid handle that it was, had come back into fashion about forty years back. Pratt would never fly, though, not here. So he’d gone with Aurelius. The irreverence of it amused him.
He thought the Slayer would have appreciated the irony, too.
“You’re an asshole, you know that, right?”
He’d heard her coming of course. Appearance could be changed, either by time, money, or magic. But two things stayed the same – her scent and her gait.
“Wondered when you’d turn up, Bit.”
She matched his posture, both of them watching Katniss Everdeen’s train pull out of the station.
“You could have told me you survived.”
He knew damn well that was her hurt and loneliness talking, not sense. Dawn knew better.
“Yeah, I could have. And then you’d have had one more high-caliber worry. Not to mention, no backup if that fucker Snow had taken you out.”
The frosty silence to his right told him she knew what he was saying, and didn’t like that she had no solid counter, because it was true. The need to have a fallback she knew nothing about had been the only thing that kept him away from her as the years got longer and hope got dimmer.
“Besides, not being linked to you in any way gave me a little more freedom to operate, to move in and out of Districts and Capital as the need arose. Not to mention, leeway to get my hands dirty if I had to.”
She turned to look at him for the first time.
“Had no choice a couple times. Couldn’t let some things get back to Snow.”
She didn’t ask, and he didn’t tell – no need to burden her with what she couldn’t have helped anyway.
“I’m sorry about the boys, by the way. Yours and Buffy’s.”
A shaky intake of breath told him that still hurt, and would for a while. The Key didn’t age, didn’t die of natural causes as humans normally would. Her children had no such blessing (or curse.) Dawn had to make her peace with losing family on a regular basis, even when there wasn’t an apocalypse or a war on.
Buffy had seen that coming. Maybe seen more than that – she’d told him that she gave them her blessing, if the day ever came that they wanted it. Dawn had still been firmly classed as ‘little sister’ in his head at the time. Not that he’d argued, seeing as they’d both known the Slayer had only had a few minutes left when she said it and he wasn’t going to waste the last of her time.
“They knew what they were doing, Spike. Both of them.”
Finnick hadn’t hesitated to sacrifice himself to get the Mockingjay where she needed to be, in the arena and out of it. Cinna had seen her potential and given her the visibility that had made all the difference in the first place, and the inspiration to keep going when the losses added up and her world fell in on top of her.
“Course they did. They were Summers kids. What about Faith’s girl?”
“She’s my houseguest. She’s got nothing to go back to. Annie’s there, too.”
“Heard the boy left her with a bun in the oven. Be nice to have a little one growing up safe for a change.”
“No such thing and you know it. They can call him Odair all they want, he’s still a Summers.”
“Mad, bad, and dangerous to know.”
Spike grinned as Dawn socked him on the arm for ‘bad’.
“A doctor, though? Seriously?”
“When’d you find out?”
It had to be fairly recent – she’d have gotten in touch sooner if she’d known.
He kinda missed the days when she hadn’t been too grownup to tack on the ‘duh!’ that was screaming in her tone.
“Wondered if you would stop by after I testified,” he said gruffly. “And yeah, being a doc has its advantages.”
Easy access to blood and a chance to keep an eye on who else might be taking more than their patient load warranted, for a start.
“Also means you still have a more subtle line of communication to your Mockingjay than Abernathy. Should you need one.”
She blinked at him.
“You’re still her doctor?”
“Of course. Her diagnosis of severe post-traumatic stress disorder with dissociative episodes requires long-term treatment. Convinced the new government that if they didn’t keep her under Abernathy’s supervision and my care, one of these days they’d have either a dead Mockingjay or a missing one. She helped my argument by obligingly trying to off herself several times while she was in custody.”
“How bad was it?” Dawn asked.
“She didn’t get very far. We were aware of the danger. She tried to take her nightlock capsule right after assassinating Coin.”
“That’s why you stashed her in the Training Center,” Dawn said slowly, the figurative lightbulb going on.
“No better place to put someone who’s suicidal than a place that’s already rigged to make it easy to keep them safe and constantly monitored.”
“Who’d you have doing the monitoring?”
“Trinket, once she got over sniveling about the state of her victors. Told her it was either her or Abernathy, which would she rather, and she practically left heel marks on the pavement getting from the car to the door.”
“I don’t blame her. Haymitch had his hands full with Peeta and Johanna.”
“Yeah, who’d have thought the sarcastic drunk would turn out to be the most responsible adult of the lot?”
“He’s generally not as drunk as he looks,” Dawn said drily.
“True. I hope he appreciates the thank-you gift I arranged for him.”
Dawn raised an expectant – and slightly threatening eyebrow.
“Case of whiskey. The good stuff, not the illicit swill he’s usually stuck with. From a distillery in Eleven that are very good at what they do.”
“That you know about how?”
“Found out where our former President got his tipple of choice.”
Spike hoped he looked as smug as he felt.
Dawn shook her head.
“Right. Feeling up for a party?”
"Not particularly, but it would be a shame to break tradition."
“Yeah, it’s not quite as satisfying as saving the world used to be, but I'll take what I can get. Let’s go raise a glass.”