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Holding Firm

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Still furious with Spike for the events of the night before, Buffy kicked in the door of his crypt ready to settle things once and for all. Even though she still hadn't quite figured out how, she was sure it would come to her. She had faith, along with the fury.

At first there had been shock, then hurt, then fury, followed by more hurt. That was just at having caught what he did with Anya on camera. When Xander had gone after him, there was big, big fear; and then Spike had said what he did and there was shame, and then fury again.

Buffy had been up all night, seething, but had to put battle mode on hold when Dawn jumped back from the suddenly flattened door, screaming at her surprise entrance.

Spike, acting on instinct, had jumped up from where he was sitting and took a defensive pose in front of Dawn only to slump back into his chair when he saw it was Buffy.

“Oh, it’s you,” he said. “So kind of you to knock. Come to beat me up again?”

Buffy’s eyes narrowed at him and Dawn gasped, looking between them.

“Stop doing that!” demanded Buffy, her eyes not leaving Spike, even if he was refusing to look back at her.

“What? A bit too much truth for you?” he snapped.

“You didn’t?” said Dawn, her voice still coming out as a partial scream.

Buffy cast her eyes to the floor before flicking them up again to lock Spike in another glare. “Keep my friends and family out of our drama.”

“Whoa!” said Dawn. “What the freak is happening here?”

Buffy turned to her. “Why are you here? Why are you always here, sneaking around?”

Dawn’s own eyes hardened. “Hey, you were the one pawning me off on Spike all last year when you couldn’t find anyone else.”

“Just go home,” Buffy sighed, rubbing her temple as exhaustion overtook adrenaline in her blood and her shoulders sagged.

“No,” said Dawn, crossing her arms.

“Niblet,” said Spike, the ire having turned to weariness in his voice, too.

“No,” she said to him as well. “Stop it, both of you.” Silence reigned for a beat, then Dawn said to Buffy, “Your Birthday. Spike had all the cuts and stuff. Tell me you didn’t–”

“Drop it, Niblet,” Spike insisted, more firmly. “Please.”

She frowned at him then looked at her sister again.

“It was complicated,” said Buffy, which made Spike snort. She rounded on him in a flash. “You’re the one that brought it up. You can’t do that and expect there to be no questions, and refuse to answer them.”

Spike tilted his head to the side. “You want me to answer them?”

Buffy’s hands went to her hips. “No. I want you to shut up and stop sleeping with my friends! I want you to leave me and my friends and my sister alone.”

Spike stood up and faced her, holding up a hand. “One,” he began, pointing at Dawn, “She came to me.” He pushed his finger down to his palm and held up the one beside it. “Two: don’t go pretending you care about Anya. You aren't friends, you only tolerated her because she was with Xander.”

Buffy clenched her fists but didn’t say anything.

“Go on, tell me I’m wrong?” he goaded, ignoring the rest of his list.

“It’s not the point,” she ground out, her voice softening when she said to Dawn, “You really shouldn’t be here. You don't need to hear this.”

Dawn hesitated but held her ground. “It’s obvious a lot has been going on. Seems to me like you need someone to mediate.”

“Not you,” said Buffy.

“There’s not even any point,” added Spike. “Not now, is there?”

Again, Buffy said nothing. Dawn sighed and turned from her to Spike. “Look, if you just apologise, maybe she will too and–”

“Hang on,” said Spike. “I may not be proud of what happened with Anya, but it’s not like it was technically wrong. She’s not with Harris any more, and that’s because of what he did.”

“Oh yeah,” said Buffy, “Well, what about what you said to Xander?”

Spike opened his mouth and closed it again, not finding words to match the sudden contrition on his face.

“Wait,” said Dawn, holding up a hand. “He didn’t cheat on you?” She was addressing her questions to Buffy again, but still looking between her and Spike. “I thought you guys were a thing, but the Anya thing wasn’t wrong? Were you guys, like, an open thing?”

“Dawn, please,” said Buffy, her voice desperate and eyes glossy.

Spike gave a resigned sigh. “We might as well tell her,” he said. “She already knows most of it, and anything she guesses or finds out the hard way is gonna be worse.”

Buffy bit her lip before quickly swiping at her eyes, only making them go even more damp and red. “I wanted to keep you from this,” she said to Dawn, her voice quiet. Broken, almost. After a deep breath, her shoulders slumped further and she said, “I broke things off. A couple of weeks ago.”

Dawn’s expression twisted into something halfway between confusion and pity. “So, uh…” she began again. “The thing with Anya?”

“It was a mistake,” said Spike. “Didn’t know it was gonna get a bloody public viewing.”

“Well, it was in public place,” Dawn started to say, but he stopped her with a look. She swallowed. “Anyway….” Her eyes clouded over as she processed the information fully. “It wasn’t cheating, check. I’m not even gonna ask why you guys broke up, because clearly mega, mega issues, but,” she paused again, turning back to her sister. “Buffy, why didn’t you tell me?” her voice hardened again as she added, “And why did you beat him up?”

“Your sis was in a dark place,” Spike answered, before Buffy could. “It wasn’t all her fault. I was pushing and–”

“No,” Buffy interrupted. “I need to take responsibility for this. Dawn, I….” Her voice wavered, but she pushed on. “Things were hard, when I came back. Spike was…. Spike was there, and he was nice, and he listened, and–” She levelled her gaze at her feet. “Yeah, okay, I wanted him. It just–”

“It’s okay,” said Dawn, reaching for her hand and giving it a squeeze, “I get that part.”

Buffy looked up at her, her eyes wet again. “You do?”

Dawn scoffed. “Uh, totally. Spike’s awesome.” Spike choked on his drink and she looked back around at him. “Oh, shut up.”

He gave her a brief bewildered look before concluding, “Things happened. It doesn’t matter now.”

“But it does,” said Dawn. “You maybe broke up or whatever, but things are clearly far from over. And anyway, even if they are, you need to get past it and hang out again.”

“Yeah?” said Spike, “And whys that?”

“Well,” said Dawn, “Selfish, I know, but I need you to be friends again.”

Spike snorted, reiterating his earlier, “Not friends,” comment.

“Since when are you such an expert on who my friends are?” snarked Buffy.

“Tell me I’m wrong,” he said again.

“Damn it, Spike!”

“I thought so.”

“Guys,” Dawn pleaded, “I’m serious. I need you both.”

Once more, the anger left their faces.

“Maybe,” said Buffy.

“We can try,” agreed Spike.

Dawn didn’t look especially reassured and had just opened her mouth to say something else when Buffy’s new cell phone rang – a gift from Giles that only he and the rest of the gang had the number of, to be used specifically in case of emergency.