The first indication Dawn got that Spike was in the house was the bang of a large box as it hit the kitchen counter.
“I found it in the dump.”
Dawn grimaced. “Ew.”
“No, Niblet, the plastic wrap was still on it. It’s all new, and it works.”
“What even is it?”
Spike swivelled the box toward Dawn revealing the image on its front: a breadmaker. When Dawn sighed, Spike protested, “Well you’re the one who’s always bored! Now you can do something productive. Like make blood bread.”
“That’s not a thing.”
“It will be once we make it. Come on. I already mix wheaties into my blood.”
“There’s a reason it’s not a thing.”
“We’ll just replace the eggs or something. It can't be that hard.”
“Do you even know how bread works?”
“That’s why we have a bread machine." Spike gestured at the box. "I don’t have to know jack with this contraption in or midst.”
Dawn rolled her eyes.
Spike crossed his arms. “If you won’t try it, I will.”
Dawn sighed but began opening the box anyways.
Dawn narrowed her eyes at the loaf that was supposedly finished baking. “Is it supposed to… be that small?”
Spike turned the bread on its side. “It said two pounds, but this bloody looks like one pound.”
Dawn looked at its dark red tint. “Bloody is right.” Dawn poked at the side, and the side of the loaf caved in. “It’s doughy.”
“When did you begin to be a little food critic? It’s perfect,” Spike defended.
Spike took out a carving knife and cut into the bread. As the knife sunk into the top instead of cutting through, the loaf deflated.
“We have a bread knife, if that would help,” Dawn commented. “Though somehow, I don’t think it will.
Spike waved her off. He managed to sever the end piece from its fleshy prison, sliding it onto one of the Summers’ plates.
Dawn grimaced. “You’re going to eat that?”
“Blood is blood. Aren’t you?”
“I already ate dinner.”
Spike shrugged. “Suit yourself.”
Dawn, despite herself, looked on in gruesome fascination. “Do you want some butter to spread on top? Maybe more blood?”
Spike grinned. “I’ll try it straight first.”
Spike’s face shifted; his fangs protruded. With a flourish, he bit into the piece of bread.
And promptly spit it out.
Spike gagged, his mouth puckering. Dawn smirked. “Looks like it was good. So sad I didn’t have a piece.”
Spike glared at Dawn before downing a glass of water. He swished it around in his mouth before swallowing.
Dawn shrugged. “You should have bought yeast.”
“Yeast’s alive, blood’s alive, it should have all been the same anyways.” Spike eyed the bread. “Maybe it was the wrong type of blood.”
“What?” Dawn snipped, “B positive?”
“I am being positive. I mean I used animal.”
“What do you—oh, gross!” Dawn scrunched up her face.
“You’re not the one who has to drink cow blood, Niblet. It doesn’t have to be fresh, I can just steal some from the blood bank.”
Dawn picked up the remains of the end piece; it dangled limply in her grasp. “It probably wasn’t the blood. Adding yeast probably would have made it somewhat decent.”
Spike plucked the end piece from her grasp, leaving half-baked blood smeared on her fingertips. “You think so?”
“We could run to the grocery and get some. I bet we could bake another loaf before the Scoobies finish up with their meeting.”
“Well, are we waiting for?”
Dawn and Spike sat huddled at the kitchen counter. Flour coated every surface, spread at their feet like blood in a battle. That being said, there wasn’t just metaphorical blood; a measuring cup full of blood sat stagnant on the countertop, congealing. Some even stained the recipe book they had used.
Spike breathed deeply, inhaling the aroma of the baking bread. “Smells good.”
“The blood or the bread?”
“Can’t a man have both?”
Ding; the kitchen timer went off. Dawn grabbed the oven mitts and opened up the top of the machine. Dawn held her breath as she turned the tin to its side and shook above the cooling rack. The red-tinted loaf slid from the tin onto the cooling rack smoothly, revealing a lightly-toasted top and a dark crust.
Spike grinned. “This is it.”
“How can you tell?”
Spike gestured at the perfectly formed top.
“Fair point,” Dawn conceded.
Spike grabbed the bread knife, poised to cut—
“The recipe says we have to wait ten minutes,” Dawn interjected.
Spike smirked. “When have we ever let a book tell us what to do?”
Spike turned to the bread, making the first incision. Gingerly, he sliced off an end piece, tearing a piece from the side and holding it out to Dawn.
“Wait, let me get the butter,” Dawn said, reaching for the butter. She took a butter knife and spread a generous coating of butter on the piece.
Dawn held up the slice to her lips, then hesitated. “Are we sure about this?”
Spike put on his game face. “It’s do or die.”
Dawn sobered. “Let’s do this, then. On three. One… two… three!”
Dawn and Spike bit into their slices.
Spike sputtered, spitting out the bread. “Alright. Blood is not meant to be in bread.” He turned to Dawn—but she was still chewing.
“This isn’t half-bad.”
“You can’t be serious.”
Dawn laughed, crumbs muttered across her lips. “I mean, it’s a bit iron-y. Like a steak.”
“The real irony here is the fact that you like this bloody awful bread,” Spike said.
“Like is a strong word, but I don’t hate it. It’s tangy. Plus, I’ve had far worse cooking. I mean, Buffy—” Dawn faltered.
Spike took the opportunity to cut a few more slices. “What do you say we put this in the pantry and see when Red decides to take a bite?”
Dawn smiled, grateful for the distraction. “Better yet, we sneak it into Xander’s house while the Scoobies are at the Magic Box.”
“I like the way you think, Niblet.”