Spike was busy searching the deep pockets of his coat for his lighter as he turned the corner. The next moment, something small ran into him.
“Sorry!” the small thing said hastily and took a step back.
He looked up, ready to vamp out and scare the living daylights out of the offender (it was all he could do these days, and a vampire’s got to have a little fun sometimes), when he realized that he knew this person. It was Dawn, the slayer’s sister, who he liked to call “the little bit”.
“Spike!” she called out. She looked relieved somehow.
He didn’t like that look. Little girls shouldn’t look like that when they encountered him after sunset. Or anytime else really.
“Shouldn’t you be safe at home instead of walking the streets at night, little bit?” he asked.
“I was visiting a friend”, she told him without hesitation, “and suddenly it was late. We just forgot the time.”
Spike was still rummaging around in his pockets looking for the lighter. “I think teens like you have these little things they always carry with them, called cell phones. Big Sis’s probably worried to death.”
Now the little one definitely looked nervous. “Well…she doesn’t exactly know I’m out. I mean, I didn’t really...tell her, you know?”
“Been naughty, ey?” He grinned. “Doesn’t explain why you’re taking this way, though. Not exactly the place for a child.”
“I’m not a child, I’m fourteen!” she exclaimed indignantly. “Besides, my teacher says I’m quite grown-up for my age.”
Finally he found his lighter and lit a cigarette. “And that’s why you do what every teen does, sneak out of home to visit your mates? I’m impressed”, he said dryly.
“You’re one to tell, you can’t even bite people anymore!” she replied furiously.
For one moment he looked like he would rip her throat out right now – he couldn’t, she told herself, but took a step back anyway. Then he just turned around and started walking. “Whatever, kiddo. Lots of beasties between here and home that can, so you better watch out!”
She called after him: “Spike! Wait! Please, don’t go!” He stopped walking. “I’m sort of…lost. Can you show me the way?”
His shoulders were starting to tremble, then he turned to her and she could see him laughing. “You got lost in Sunnydale? It’s like a fruit fly that gets lost in a teapot!”
“Compared to a fruit fly, a teapot’s quite big!” she exclaimed. Then she frowned. “What would a fruit fly do in a teapot, anyway?”
“Drink tea? Maybe it’s English”, he proposed. Then he sighed and stepped up to her. “Gonna walk you home then. ’Sides, if you get eaten, slayer’s probably gonna rip my head off.” He didn’t say that the thought of Dawn getting eaten wasn’t a pleasant one to him. He’d rather swallow his tongue.
She smiled. “Thanks.”
They fell into step next to each other. After a while, Spike said: “So, being rebellious, hm?”
She shrugged. “I bet you were quite rebellious when you were young.”
Spike took a drag of his cigarette. “Not really”, he admitted.
She turned to look at him incredulously. “You’re just saying that because you don’t want to be a bad influence.”
He snorted. “Don’t think there’s a way I could not be. – No, really. Didn’t do a lot of rebelling ‘til I became a vampire.”
“Wow, that’s surprisingly boring”, Dawn stated. She sounded disappointed.
There was a moment of silence between them as they crossed the road.
“Your sis does what she can, you know”, Spike said suddenly.
Dawn sighed and hung her head. “I know.”
“Could make it easier for her.”
“I know! It’s just...she’s trying so hard to be mum, but she’s not. And“, there was something like a sob between the words, “I just miss her so much.”
Spike took another drag. “Good woman, your mother. Hit me with an axe once.”
Dawn made a noise that sounded like a strangled laughter.
“I was close to my mother, you know”, Spike continued. “A lot of vampires kill their families when they’re sired. To sever all ties to their mortal lives, I guess.”
Spike hesitated for a moment. “No.”
“But I guess she’s dead now anyway.”
“Here’s to cool dead mothers”, Dawn said and faked an invisible toast.
Spike grinned. “Nice black humour for a living person.”
She bowed to him. “I learn from the best.”
As they reached the next intersection, Dawn said: “I know where I am now. I can walk the rest of the way by myself.”
Spike shook his head. “I’ll see you to the door.”
“I’m not twelve!” she said indignantly.
Spike threw his burned down cigarette stub on the street. “I’d rather you not get killed on the last meters. Like my head where it is.”
She raised an eyebrow. “You’re really scared of Buffy, huh?”
“Didn’t stay alive for over 150 years by being stupid.”
When they reached the house, Spike stopped at the driveway. Dawn turned around at the door and waved. “Good night”, she called over.
He raised his hand. “Night, bit.”
He started to walk away, but stopped when she called after him: “And Spike?” He turned around.
“Thanks”, she said with a smile. He watched as she vanished into the house and closed the door behind her.