Took Hold 22
When Spike entered the house, he saw that their assembly was split up into little groups. Willow and Giles were cleaning up ritual supplies in the kitchen, Dawn was giving Xander clothes to change into, and Tara tutored the Slayer on the loveseat. Angel and Riley were back from the basement and talking over strategies they’d used to get information in the past.
“There’s an actual method to it. One I didn’t really get the hang of until I started Angel Investigations...”
Riley was listening raptly, hazel eyes wide, “The Initiative had a Covert Behavior class, but I had only gotten about halfway through it before the Adam incident.”
Dawn sat beside Spike, her eyes on his exposed chest peeking out of the wide shirt opening.
“Well, this sucks, huh?” The brunette leaned her head on his shoulder and pouted.
“What does, ducks?” He glanced down at her thoughtfully.
“I was gonna bring someone for you guys to meet tonight but Her Bossiness said no because of what’s going on with Ethan Rayne. Can you imagine how hard it was to cancel?”
She mimed putting a phone to her ear and continued in a ditzy voice, ”Hi, Lance, sorry I can’t have you over tonight because our city on the Hellmouth is in peril from a bunch of demon lovers and a chaos magician ...you still there? Hello?” She sighed dramatically and dropped the fake phone.
“Threat’s over, luv. You can invite Lance tomorrow.” Spike laid his head back to look at the ceiling, hoping his calm façade was convincing. Inside, he was beginning the slow burn of protectiveness for the child. He had to plan this carefully, so as not to alienate Dawn while still making sure this bloke was worth sharing the same planet as her.
“You’re not worried about me bringing a *guy* over?” Dawn looked truly shocked as she pulled his chin down to study his face.
This familiarity had grown between them, and she had more than once referred to him to her friends as ‘the hot big brother’ type. The former Big Bad would never admit that he secretly crowed in delight at his status in her life as guiding sibling.
“Want the truth, Bit?” He raised an eyebrow and pursed his lips, knowing he couldn’t put anything past the sharp little girl. She solemnly nodded, and the vampire had to look down for a second to keep from smiling. “Truth is that I don’t have much experience with first dates as a human. Back then, courting was a formal bother, nothing like it is today...”
“But I thought it was more simple, you know: meet someone, club them on the back of the head, and drag them to your cave...” The innocent look was ruined by the mischievous glint in her green eyes.
“Brat.” He brought his demon face forward and growled at her.
Dawn giggled. “Blonde.”
“You know what’ll happen if he makes a wrong move, right?”
The teenager rolled her eyes and recited, “You’ll risk a seizure and rip off his head.”
The vampire moved in to tickle her and she giggled wildly. Buffy and the others glanced up and then went back to their own conversations.
“No, for real, he can’t come over tomorrow because we’re supposed to be training, remember?”
“That’s not a problem, Nibblet.” Spike had been sparring with Dawn and had her on a rigorous training schedule. He wasn’t going to let anything happen to her, but the vampire knew he couldn’t be with her all the time. The happy side effect of their new discipline towards fighting was that Dawn finally felt like part of the group. It showed in how she carried herself and no longer complained about her sister being a Slayer. Willow had confided in them that she knew of a Slayer who didn’t train so diligently as a teenager, and the girl glowed with pride.
“You mean you want to cancel?” The girl’s eyebrows furrowed, tempted but a bit disappointed.
“No. He can join us, give me a chance to get to know the bloke.” Spike congratulated himself on his diplomacy as Dawn smiled and nodded. This was going to be fun.
Spike had ended up spending the night on the Summers’ couch, something he almost always did. He slept peacefully, Miss Edith snoring on his chest until early afternoon. Buffy walked in on her way to class and tossed pillows at him until the irritated vampire threatened to spill blood on the carpet.
“Glad you woke me up.” Spike dry washed his face, trying to clear his head. ”Bit’s got a lad coming over. Have to get ready...” He tucked a cigarette behind his ear and went to heat up his blood.
“What? I can’t be here, I’ve got class! I told her that she’s *way* too young to be dating and who even knows if this Lance guy is even human...” The Slayer followed him to the kitchen and watched him pull a bag out of the freezer. “Spike! You can find out what’s the what with this guy...do that lurking thing and find out if he’s a demon--”
The vampire pressed buttons on the microwave and leaned on the counter. “Already got it worked out, Slayer. He’s training with us and we’ll get to see what he’s made of.” The calmness he radiated must have worn off, because she settled down.
“Okay, you can have the fun part of threatening this potential boyfriend,” she pouted, “but I get the next one!” She did a slow motion high kick as Spike opened the microwave and pulled out his breakfast.
“Sure thing, Slayer.”
“What about that science project? Did she turn it in on time?”
“Yeah, sodding Indian village model. Had enough of those wankers when they attacked us last Thanksgiving. Good thing we kept the feathers and such. She’ll probably get extra credit.”
“Plus the arrows that we pried out of you...” Buffy grinned and took a defensive stance, faking a punch at the vampire.
“You sign the permission slip to the planetarium on the table?” The vampire raised an eyebrow at her sheepish look. He was still waking up and was ignoring her invite for an impromptu sparring session. Spike poured the warmed blood into the flowered soup cup that the Summers women had bought him.
“I forgot.” She dropped her fighting move display and crossed over to the kitchen table. As she signed it she said, “Glad you remembered. Listen, can you do me a favor and--”
“--give you the full report when you get back. I will.” He dismissed her with a wave of his hand as he stepped onto the shadowed front porch.
“Thanks, Spike!” The slayer grabbed her backpack and, with a smile at their parental afternoon ritual, she left for school.
BLISS TOOK HOLD 23