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Perception

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the cheesy teen flick


 

Dawn seriously does not know what her sister's problem is. No matter what Buffy claims, as far as Dawn can see, Angel was always a massive poophead, it just showed more when he didn't have a soul. Plus, that whole broody thing? Could he be any more boring?

Spike is about a thousand times cooler, with the leather coat that swishes around him as he moves and all the black clothing and the bleach-blond hair. Dawn has seen enough movies to realise he's the guy with the heart of gold who secretly rescues puppies or something, or at least is basically, you know, the good guy. He's the one the nerdy girl thinks is all mean and hard, and then one day he saves her from bullies or muggers (okay, so in Buffy's case it'll probably be other vampires or demons or rogue warlocks, but the point still stands), and she takes off her glasses and turns out to be pretty, and they kiss and...

Where was she again?

Oh, yeah. Spike.

Not that she has a crush on him or anything. Well all right, but not too much. She isn't blind, so she knows he's hot, but he's, like, way old, and Buffy would have a fit, and it's not like Dawn could exactly compete.

Which is the other thing. Dawn isn't blind, but she's beginning to think Buffy must be, because the way Buffy acts, it's like she had no idea Spike is crazy about her. And has been more or less forever.

It's so obvious Spike's completely in love with her, and hello, he's super hot, so why is Buffy still all sad and mopey over Riley (who turned out even more boring than Angel) when she has Spike looking at her like she farts rainbows? Seriously.

She tried to be supportive about Riley, she really did. On the plus side, Buffy never really got all angsty about Riley, and he wasn't actively making her miserable.

Well... not at first, anyway. Dawn wasn't let in on the details of the whole big breakup thing, but she has a feeling that Riley's big dumb decent guy act was, well... an act. She remembers how he treated her; more like an annoyance than like the little sister of the woman he loved.

And Spike said some things... and look, she realises Spike isn't the most reliable witness, especially when it comes to Buffy's boyfriends, but she knows he cares about Buffy, and about Mom and about it was all over, when there was no reason for him to be badmouthing Riley anymore, when Riley was safely off doing his super soldier bit somewhere in darkest South America, Spike should've been happier. The fact he was still worrying about Buffy and muttering darkly about Captain Cardboard...

Dawn doesn't know (and isn't sure she wants to know) what a suck-house is, but she's, like, totally sure it's not a good thing. Chip or no chip, Spike is still evil, kinda, and something that puts that expression on his face? It can't be good. Riley supposedly has a soul, which is supposedly a big deal, so if he can do something that disgusts Spike...

Even at his best, though, Dawn never really thought Riley was good enough. 'Not making Buffy miserable' is a crappy standard. In fairness, Dawn has absolutely zero experience having a boyfriend, but she's sure that it should be a mostly positive thing, right? Yes, there can be moments of angst and doubt, but isn't love supposed to make you happy, make your life better? At least some of the time?

So yeah... not miserable? It's just not good enough. She can't help it. Buffy deserves more. Buffy's capable of more, too. Dawn knows that. She's seen it, seen her big sister truly, glowingly happy. Just once.

Everyone else was totally freaked out by the engagement thing. Dawn was just disappointed it didn't last. Yeah, all right, it would probably have been a bad idea for her sister to get married to a vampire under the influence of a spell, but what no one else seemed to notice was how happy they both were. Brimming over with joy. It was so cute!

Dawn doesn't remember the last time she saw Buffy like that. When Angel was around, she was mostly stressed out and bad moody.

The guys before and after Angel were less stressful, but where now and then there were short bursts of happiness with Angel, the other boyfriends were just more Rileys. They didn't make her happy, they didn't make her sad, they were just... there.

She remembers quizzing Willow after The Spell, in all her thirteen-year-old excitement that she knew a real witch, and she remembers Willow confiding, in a worried tone of voice, that she didn't say anything about them falling in love, that there was no way the spell she'd cast would do that, then realising who she was talking to and her eyes getting all wide. Dawn remembers Willow making her promise she wouldn't repeat any of it to Buffy - begging her not to, actually.

Dawn knows Buffy blamed it all on Willow, but Dawn's had her eye on Buffy and Spike since then. Mortal enemies falling in love... It was, like, the most romantic thing ever, and Dawn was so sure that they'd both realise it must mean something. That they couldn't just go back to how things were and pretend nothing had changed.

She reckoned without two of the most stubborn people she's ever met in her life.

But Dawn's fourteen now. She knows things. She's not stupid. She knows how often Buffy's had reason and opportunity to dust him, and she never has. And sure, Spike tried to betray Buffy to Adam, then tried to get his chip out, but come on. If he wanted to kill her so much? He could've. Seriously, he has a century's experience of death and destruction. If he's half as evil as he insists he is, he must have a million ways he could get around the chip and off one human girl, even a super powered one. He has even less excuse than Buffy for the whole lame not-killing-of-mortal-enemy thing.

(Really, if he wanted her dead so much, how did she even make it past their first fight? Yeah, yeah, Mom and a fire axe, she's heard the story, but sixteen year old girl versus century old vampire? Dawn so doesn't think that's the whole truth.)

So really, the only surprising thing about Spike being crazy in love with Buffy is that Buffy hasn't figured it out yet. Dawn really hopes she quits moping over Riley and wises up soon.

Spike is so cool, and if Dawn can't have him for herself, she'll settle for having him as her sister's boyfriend and her big brother substitute. She just wants her sister to be happy. Okay, okay, she also kind of wants Spike to belong to them properly, and maybe get him to teach her how to pick locks and other cool, not-quite-evil stuff. But she mostly wants Buffy to be happy, and she has a feeling Spike could be part of that, if he was just given the chance.