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They’d been planning this since she’d turned thirteen. Between Dru and Buffy and Angelus and everything else screwy in this burg, he’d taken her away from all of it. Late night rides in the DeSoto were her escape from her sister and the monsters that followed her, and for Spike, well, she never knew what he got out of it.

He’d been gone for nearly a year, and she was going out of her mind. Her homework buddy, best friend, vampire pal left a big hole. But she understood, sort of, in that Key part of her, the ancient part, the part that still rolled its eyes when Buffy or her mother tried to discipline her.

But now, now was the time. Dawn grinned as she laced up her boots, “Not steel toe, bit, those things’ll fuck your feet up,” - just good solid boots made in Germany. Demin, sturdy and worn in, but still solid, both jeans and a jacket, wool-lined for warmth.

And a Sex Pistols t-shirt, her first present from Spike and nowhere close to the last. Her long brown hair swung over her shoulder as she rose and lifted the heavy duffle bag, tossing it out the window to land on the roof.

She was no Slayer, but Spike had worked out both her muscles and her mind, and she could break someone’s nose if she needed to do so.

The Sunnydale night was teeming with an undercurrent of life, as usual, but she’d been marked by Spike and despite his year-long absence, the freak show respected that scar.

It took her less than an hour to cross the town to the Crawford St. mansion and to slip into the free-standing garage. The fresh sixteen-year-old dropped her bag and grinned, blowing out a long breath as she reached to pull off the dust cloth from her dream, and Spike’s.

Dawn laughed as cool hands slipped over hers and a familiar body pressed up behind her. “You’re late, Spike.”

Together they whipped the cover off the DeSoto, pristine and perfect as the day Spike had driven it in here, a year ago.

He snorted. “A vampire is never late, bit. Especially not a master vampire. We always arrive precisely when we mean to.”

She spun and leaned back against the car. “You got a fast car.”

Dawn’s blood was on his lips as he re-marked her and murmured, “I got a plan to get us out of here.”