Mid-sentence, Dawn realized she'd lost Spike's attention again. Having tried subtle kicks and throat-clearing before, to mild and short-lived results at best, this time she dug her thumb nail-first into the middle of his chest.
For someone who didn't breathe, Spike made a wheezing sound of shock and whirled to glare at her. "The hell, Dawn!"
Dawn gave him a pointed look. "You're staring at them," she whispered, long used to supernatural hearing to make sure she wasn't heard by her sister or her on-again boyfriend. "Try more self-respect, and lose the pathetic. You're making me cringe."
His fangs flashed in anger.
Dawn poked him again.
She stared at him, waited until he snarled and faced the TV again. Dawn turned as well, trying to care about the movie but worrying about her friend instead. She really had thought that Spike was over this nonsense. Buffy didn't want him. She hadn't wanted anyone for a long time, and now that she did, she'd chosen Angel again. Dawn didn't understand the appeal, but her sister seemed happy (and Angel didn't seem too happy), so everything was okay.
Except for the creep with a crush.
No, that wasn't fair. Spike might be acting like a fool, but he wasn't actually harassing Buffy or picking a fight with Angel. For him, that was a big sign of maturity indeed.
"Can't you just act normal when they come visit?" she asked at last, keeping her voice at its lowest pitch.
Spike lifted a shoulder, and then grumbled, "Can't they keep the honey eyes to their bedroom?"
Dawn sighed. "You still love her, huh?"
The nod seemed more a reflex, because he caught himself mid-motion. "It's not about 'love'," he finally decided. "But how can your sis go back to that, when she could have, well-" He waved a hand toward himself, wearing a confident smirk. "-this."
His earnest expression finally set her off.
When Buffy wondered what had her laughing so hard, Dawn ignored Spike's scowl and called back, "Just the movie. Turns out it was comedy gold after all!"