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Silent Night (Spike/Dawn) holiday complete PG-13

 
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D.M.
Dark Avenger


Joined: 28 Nov 2003
Posts: 382

PostPosted: Tue Dec 21, 2004 5:48 pm    Post subject: Silent Night (Spike/Dawn) holiday complete PG-13 Reply with quote

SILENT NIGHT
By D.M. Evans
Disclaimer - The only character I own here are Gabriel and Gavin and they earn me no cash. All others belong to Mr. Whedon et al.
Rating - PG-13
Time Line - Post Not Fade Away
Feedback - It helps me grow connorswhip@Yahoo.com
Pairing - Dawn/Spike
Summary - Dawn, Willow and Faith, now operating out of Pittsburgh, where Dawn’s going to school, get paid a holiday visit by some old friends
Author’s Note #1 - this was written for Stars in Kristi’s Dawn/Spike ficathon. Challenge requirements are listed at the end. Thanks to SJ for the beta!
Author’s Note #2 - I loved the additional character Stars wanted and I couldn’t help with that crew, sneaking in one more and having a subtext thread with one of my favored unconventional pairings so I hope she doesn’t mind. Oh and I don’t know how my incubus from Psychedelic Butterfly wormed his way into this but he did. While the stories have zero to do with each other, if you’d like to see Gavin’s first appearance head here (this is historical and Spike/Dru, and yes the event Angel references happens here)
http://www.geekgirlz-r.us/dana/butterfly/butterfly1.html

CHAPTER ONE

Dawn hiked to Grandview Avenue like she did every day. Granted, it wasn’t much of a hike, living as she did in a house on Sweet Brier with Faith and Willow and Gabriel who actually owned the home. Technically, she lived in the dorms at the University of Pittsburgh, but Dawn didn’t really like her roomie and only stayed if there was something cool to do late night at the school. Occasionally Faith or Willow would crash on her floor after having fun or work near campus.

Dawn’s breath curled up around her as she shuddered her way to the top of the hill. She still wasn’t acclimated to the bitter Pennsylvania cold, let alone the verticality of the streets. It reminded her of the time she went to San Francisco or was that another false memory? Regardless, she always expected to slide to her death whenever she had to come downhill the three blocks to their home perched mid-hill.

Dawn stood at one of the observation areas looking out over the view. Grandview was so named for its amazing command of the Pittsburgh skyline. The three rivers did make for an impressive sight and now, nearing Christmas, at night the city wore an extra coat of glittering light. She didn’t expect to like it here so much because it was so different from California but it was nice, in spite of the cold. Dawn looked south, even though she couldn’t see the Some Place Else, the good demon-friendly and gawking human club that Gabriel ran, but she liked to pretend she could see all the way to South Side.

Dawn spent a moment thinking about the handsome young Watcher, well, young in comparison to Giles. Gabe was thirty, after all. That didn’t stop Dawn from looking at his olive skin, sculpted body and dark curly hair and eyes. She knew Faith had taken him for a drive, which should be a no-no since he was her Watcher but that was a loose relationship at best. They sort of inherited each other. Gabe had been in Pittsburgh most of his life, barring being sent to New York City to train with the Watcher branch there.

Faith had been in Cleveland until Kennedy got reassigned there after she broke up with Willow in Rio. Dawn hadn’t been too surprised by that. After awhile Kennedy’s bratty nature - which made even Dawn’s pale in comparison - would take its toll on anyone. Faith and Kennedy had been completely incompatible and Faith willingly transplanted to Pittsburgh when Willow had had come to help Gabe with a sticky problem. Willow stayed on to help out and watch over Dawn, too, of that Dawn had no doubts. And while she grumbled about it, Willow was like having another big sister and Dawn liked having her around while Buffy was currently in Glasgow.

Dawn was also grateful that Faith and Willow, who didn’t really like each other, had come to an uneasy truce sometime fighting the First. Mostly now they did their own things and shared Gabe’s big house merely out of cost concerns. For the most part, it worked well and it almost felt like home.

“Hey, kid!”

Dawn and turned to see Faith coming up the hill as if unconcerned about the ice and snow. Of course, Faith was from Boston so she was used to it and usually didn’t let a day go by without remarking how much more holiday-like this was compared the holidays in Sunnydale. “Hey, Faith. You’re up early.”

“Going to look for a tree. Think Willow will mind if we put one up in the living room? I asked and got mixed messages.” Faith’s face scrunched. “Which is she technically anyhow? Jewish or Wiccan?”

Dawn shrugged. “I never really see her practice either. Besides, Willow’s always been cool with us celebrating. She used to sneak over to Xander’s to watch A Charlie Brown Christmas. It was worth it to see him do the Snoopy Dance.”

Faith snorted. “Too bad he and Andrew are up in Sitka, Alaska, checking out that Yeti report. I’d love to see the Snoopy Dance.”

“I think they’re more holed up playing Dungeons and Dragons and freezing their butts off than anything else,” Dawn said. “Besides they’re going to try and make it here for the holidays.”

Faith nodded, turning her gaze out over the city. “You have class or something?”

“Had my last history final yesterday and all I have left is to turn in my art project, ‘Girls in non-feminine roles,’ and my paper for that dumb English class, and I’m done for the semester.”

“The art project is all that video you shot of me working out, right?”

Dawn nodded. “And me working out with you and some of Willow doing the book thing which I guess could be considered feminine. It’s a dumb project, embedding a player inside of an art piece and running a tape? Not my style of art but when you have no choice...”

“Gotcha.” Faith smirked. “Want to help me find the right tree?”

Dawn smiled, happy to be included. “Sure, real or artificial?”

“Real,” Faith said, staunchly. “Potted because Willow was having kittens over killing a tree and Gabe said his artificial one was falling apart.”

“Sounds like fun. Where do we find a potted tree in the city?” Dawn asked.

“We don’t. Gabe suggested a place out near Bulger. It’s a little over twenty miles away.” Faith jangled the keys to Gabe’s truck. “I’ll drive.”

Dawn smiled weakly. While Faith drove better than Buffy or Willow, it wasn’t by very much and she had a massive lead foot. “Okay.”

* * *

Dawn didn’t have to help Faith with the tree other than to call out where to step up on the uneven cement stairs then up onto the wooden porch as the Slayer muscled the tree inside the house. Faith plopped the tree down in the living room.

“Ho, ho ho.”

Dawn brightened at the decidedly English tint to that ‘ho-ho-ho’. She looked around the tree as Faith started shoving it toward the corner and saw Spike, Angel and a young man she didn’t know but assumed to be Connor. She knew about him from when Angel had called Willow to find out how to completely undo the effects of an Orlon Window. Dawn had never seen even a picture but Connor was way skinnier and shorter than she expected. He made Spike look big, not that she had anything against Spike’s looks. The opposite, really. Spike and Angel looked the same as always, married to their black clothes. Connor had on a Stamford sweatshirt and could use a hair cut if Dawn were to be asked.

“Spike, Angel!” Dawn squealed, hugging both vampires in turn. “And you must be Connor.”

He nodded then stuck out his hand. “Dawn, right?”

“Yep. Nice to meet you finally.” She shook his calloused hand.

“What are you boys doing here?” Faith asked, taking a few steps back to assess the tree placement in the corner of the room. She picked it up and put it on the wooly rug. That seemed to make her happy.

“Got word there might be something ugly hiding out at the university. Called Willow and told her we’d be on the way to help and she thought that would be good,” Angel said, leaning on the wall near the old marble hearth. Dawn liked that fireplace and the walls too as silly as that sounded to her. Gabe had painted them antique blue with crackle trim.

“When did this happen?” Dawn asked, eyes wide. “I go to school there.”

“This morning. Truth be told, ‘Bit, we were already at the airport when we called,” Spike admitted sheepishly as he flopped down on the black Corthinian leather couch.

“Figures.” Faith snorted. “Well, I’m not going to turn down help.”

“Where are Willow and Gabe?” Dawn asked.

“Gabe headed into work. He took your car, Faith,” Spike said. “Willow’s making hot chocolate.”

“With extra marshmallows,” Connor chimed in, trying to snuggle into Dawn’s beanbag chair, failing to look comfortable.

“Sounds yummy,” Dawn said. “You guys can help trim the tree, right? Or do you have to leave right away? Where are you even staying?”

“They’ll be here with us,” Willow said, coming in with a big tray of mugs. Angel went over to help her. “Connor’s taking the last spare room. For obvious reasons, Angel and Spike will be staying in the basement. Right now we only have one blow-up bed, though.”

“We’re not sharing,” the vampires chorused.

“I’ll call Gabe and have him stop at Wal-Mart for another one.” Willow gave them a ‘grow up’ look. “Relax, like you two haven’t been two to a bed before.”

“Willow, you dirty girl!” Faith said approvingly.

“Hey, virgin ears over here,” Connor said, covering his with his hands and wincing. “Don’t need to be hearing that kind of talk.”

“That’ll be the only virgin thing on you,” Spike said, eyeing the boy.

“Maybe so but I’m not ready to picture Dad batting for both sides,” Connor said and Dawn tried to force the image of Spike and Angel from her brain.

“I don’t,” Angel grated. “Willow failed to mention there was usually two women in that bed...uh, forget that. I didn’t say that.”

“Money for therapy better be in my Christmas stocking,” Connor griped, eyeing his father sourly.

“Mine, too,” Dawn shuddered, stirring her cocoa with the peppermint sticks Willow had put in each mug. She sucked the candy cane dry until she noticed Spike and Connor staring. Dawn blushed. “Do you know what type of demon is running around by the college? I haven’t heard about any killings.” She scowled. “I don’t watch the news and Pitt is big so I guess I could have missed it.”

“It might be an incubus,” Angel said.

“All in all not a bad way to go,” Spike said. “The gals usually go with a smile.”

“You’re being a pig,” Dawn said, swatting at him. Spike just smirked, obviously unrepentant.

“That’s natural for him,” Angel said, giving Spike a dim eye. “All kidding aside, we’re thinking it’s an incubus, possibly posing as a frat boy.”

“So how dangerous are they?” Faith asked. “The incubus, I mean. I know how dangerous frat boys are.”

“They don’t like to fight. They prefer to seduce women and take their life forces,” Angel replied, sitting on the couch next to Spike.

“They don’t sound too dangerous. What? You thought I couldn’t resist him long enough to slay him?” Faith smirked.

“Well, in this case, the victims are all male,” Angel said, cupping his big hands around his knees as if at a loss as to what to do with them.

“Wouldn’t we be looking for a succubus then?” Willow glanced over quizzically.

“It’s killing shirt lifters,” Spike said, and Dawn and Faith both looked at him funny, not familiar with the English slur.

“We’re not sure if the victims were actually homosexual. An incubus can override your inhibitions,” Angel said. “And Spike thinks he might even know who we’re looking for.”

“Fun guy, used to be a running buddy. Went by the name of Gavin in the 70's,” Spike said, and Dawn rolled her eyes. Even if Spike was good now, he couldn’t resist being proud of some of the bad stuff he used to do.

“So you have batted for both sides,” Faith said, batting faux-innocent eyes at him.

“I was with Dru,” Spike snapped, getting to his feet. Angel yanked him back down.

“And you were female at the time, a bit of bad magic. I would have killed to see that,” Angel snorted. Spike’s jaw practically bounced off his belt buckle. Faith laughed and even Willow was hiding a giggle at the idea of a female Spike. Dawn was practically swallowing her tongue so not to laugh.

Spike’s jaw snapped closed. “When did Dru tell you that?”

“While we were laughing at you in your wheelchair.”

“Spike as a woman, the mind boggles.” Willow couldn’t hide the giggle any longer.

“Thanks, Peaches.” Spike glared. “I was a hot as a woman, too, just for the record.”

“Sure you were. You’ve got those high cheeks and big expressive eyes,” Faith said. “You already look a lot like a girl.”

Dawn wanted to kick Faith but figured Spike might just do it himself. “So, I still don’t get why Faith couldn’t handle this by herself. She’s good,” Dawn said, feeling protective even if Faith was taunting Spike.

“The vampires didn’t want to spend Christmas alone,” Connor said and Dawn saw the sadness there even though he was trying to be flippant. She knew how lousy Angel and Spike had to be feeling with so many of their friends dead. “They were looking for any excuse.”

“So much for our cover story,” Spike groaned, tossing a couch pillow at Connor.

“We’re happy to have you. You should have just asked.” Faith popped both of the vampires on the back of the head. “So, what brings you along, kid? Don’t you have that family that’ll miss you?”

“When Dad did that spell thing Willow told him about, we also told my parents the truth, that I’m a cuckoo. They didn’t take it as kindly as we’d hope,” he said, pain in his eyes. “I’m pretty much living with my very old man now.”

“Besides, we needed gay bait for Gavin.” Spike jerked a thumb at Connor. “Girlie boy got tagged.”

Connor gave him the finger and Dawn scooted closer to Willow figuring Angel was likely to decapitate Spike at any moment, or maybe Connor would beat him to it.

“We’re hoping Li’l Bit could take us to some college clubs before everyone goes home for the holidays,” Spike said.

“So you’re planning to be here how long? All three weeks until Christmas?” Willow smiled softly at them.

“If you don’t toss us out first,” Angel admitted sheepishly.

“Yeah, so you better put the twig boy on the blow-up bed and let Peaches have the real bed. He’ll flatten the air bed in a heartbeat.” Spike waggled his eyebrows at Angel.

“Why don’t I flatten you?” Angel growled.

“Ladies, please keep me if you toss the suckers out. I can’t deal with dumb and dumber by myself,” Connor said.

“We’ll keep you,” Faith assured him, going over, ruffling his hair.

“Which am I? Dumb or dumber?” Angel moaned.

“Depends,” Connor replied.

“We can take you guys to clubs,” Faith said then clamped a hand on Connor’s shoulder. “And I’ll make sure you don’t get too seduced by the incubus, kiddo.”

Connor looked up at Faith with a wide smile that Dawn figured was big enough to be carried onto the next person.

“And we can get Gabe in on this. He’ll know gay clubs,” Willow said. “And he’s beautiful bait since well, not only is he handsome, he’s bi.”

“He is?” Dawn asked, startled. “Do I even live here or am I just blind?”

“You’re just busy with school,” Willow said soothingly but that didn’t make Dawn feel better.

“So we done with business? This tree ain’t gonna trim itself,” Faith said.

“I think we could do a little tree trimming,” Willow said.

Dawn and Spike took one side of the tree, Connor and Faith the other while Willow and Angel handed out lights and ornaments and supervised. Angel only tried to strangle Spike once with lights and Spike only held Angel down and shoved tinsel icicles down the vampire’s pants once. In the end, the tree was very lopsided and all the more adorable for it. Dawn insisted on pictures though it was necessary for Faith and Connor to pin the camera-shy Angel in place.

There was nothing shy about Spike. Backlit with holiday lights and normalcy, he looked innocent and amazingly hot. Dawn flushed at the sudden resurgence of her high school crush. She hoped no one noticed.

She hadn’t thought much about her attraction to Spike in a long while not since...no, she wouldn’t think about those last years in Sunnydale. But there had been good things, even then, the way Spike was with her, even before his soul. He had protected her with his very life. He allowed himself to be tortured for her. Would have sacrificed his life for her on that tower if he could have, there was something between them and always had been. She loved him for it.

Dawn went quiet, letting the activity swirl around her. Love? No, that can’t be. It had been just a crush, right? She was being a silly kid. She looked out the window seeing nothing but frost on the panes. The house was big and old and the windows were drafty. They looked so pretty with frost though. It was just getting dark outside and all the Christmas lights were coming on. “I’m going for a walk,” she said. “I want to look at the lights.”

Dawn hurried as much as she could. Pulling on winter gear, as she was learning, wasn’t something one could do quickly. She escaped out into the cold dusk. The one thing she could say for Pittsburgh, it really got into ‘Sparkle Season.’ She hated that stupid politically correct term but there was a ring of truth to it. Pittsburgh sparkled.

She trudged back up to the top of Grandview and looked down the strip. All the high-class bars were starting to wake up. The over-priced restaurants were in full swing. She thought about the isolated town they got their tree from today. Both she and Faith had been uneasy without the bustle of a city around them - they belonged here.

A hand touched her shoulder. Dawn yelped, startled, and turned with a sharp punch. Spike barely dodged it. “Damn it, Spike! You scared me. I didn’t hear you coming.”

“You usually don’t when it’s vampires. Sorry, Bit. I should know better and so should you.” He wagged a finger at her. “Doesn’t pay to lose track of your surroundings.”

She pulled the hat down tighter over her frozen ears. “I get so tired of being vigilant, you know?”

He smiled thinly, lipping a cigarette out of the pack. “Yeah. What’s wrong?”

She couldn’t tell him she had run off because being around him again reminded her just how much she liked being around him. She was not supposed to have a crush on a vampire, especially not Spike. She remembered having a crush on Angel when she was like thirteen but she was fairly sure that was a monk-woven memory and not a real one. Spike was real. “Nothing’s wrong. I walk up here at least once a day. I love the view.” She gestured towards the Point but it was too cold for the signature fountain to be going.

“Should take you to London some day. Talk about views.” His face softened as he remembered his home.

Dawn sighed. “I loved it there. Would have loved it better if Giles would have taken his eyes of me for a second. He would have except for Buffy. She made sure he never let me out of his sight.”

“I’ll take you someday, Bit. We’ll send Buffy a postcard after the fact.” Spike smirked.

“You suddenly come into a ton of money that you’re flying me to England?” Dawn grinned, tugging her wool hat down further over her ears.

“Actually, Angel had Wes and Gunn do some funny business with the Wolfram and Hart accounts before it all went to hell. We do have disposable income. Granted, Nancy Boy has a lot of it earmarked for Junior.”

“Well, I’d love to go, maybe in the summer if you’re serious,” Dawn said before she knew what her mouth was doing. She just told Spike she’d go to England with him in a couply way. What was wrong with her?

“We’ll see what comes. Why don’t we walk, Li’l Bit? You’re going to get cold just standing here,” Spike said.

“I’ve gotten used to it. The snow gives everything a holiday feel.” Dawn started towards the clubs.

“Lots of limos around here,” Spike observed.

“Grandview is date-central.” She waved her hands around. “All kinds of really romantic, really expensive restaurants.”

“They any good?”

Dawn sighed. “ I wouldn’t know. The guys I meet at school can barely afford to take me for O Fries.”

“Dare I ask?”

“The O is like a big student hang-out near campus. Cheap, good food, decent police presence, which sadly is needed down there.”

“Your sister know about that, Bit?” A worried look came across his face.

Dawn shrugged. “She knows I’m going to an urban school. There’s always that kind of danger with urban schools, right?

“Guess so,” Spike said, watching her giving the places on Grandview an over the shoulder longing glance. “Doesn’t mean I like it. Couldn’t you go to a nice country college?”

“I was in the country today. It drove me nuts. And you’re a bigger worry wart than my sister.” Dawn shoved him lightly. “At least Pitt doesn’t have a Hellmouth.”

“With street gangs, you don’t need one,” Spike said, looping an arm around her, pulling her close. “And I’m worried about you. Not a crime is it?”

“It’s sweet.” She kissed his cold cheek. “And I’m thankful for it. And for that matter, I’m glad you guys will be around for the holidays.”

“It’s been so long since I’ve really had a family-like holiday...mostly it was me and Dru and you don’t want to know what we decked the halls with.”

Dawn threw up her hands, wishing Spike would at least look a little repentant. “Don’t go there.”

He sighed. “I think that Thanksgiving you guys tied me to the chair came the closest.”

“That was kind of funny,” Dawn said, trying to figure out if that was a real memory or an implanted one and decided it was funny enough she didn’t care.

“It bloody well was not. I had how many arrows sticking out of me!” he huffed.

“Guess it’s a matter of perspective,” Dawn said, angling back towards Sweet Brier.

“Uh-huh. Do me a favor, Bit, don’t tell Peaches that story. I mean, I know he saw some of it when he was there but I don’t think he knows it all. He’ll enjoy it too much,” Spike said.

“My silence can be bought,” Dawn said, beaming broadly.

“Oh-ho, it’s like that is it.” He grinned.

“You bet.”

Spike sighed. “Name your price.”

“I think a bag of those Hershey candies with the caramel inside will do it,” Dawn said.

“That I can manage,” he said as she climbed the steps to her home. The motion lights had been disabled so not to overpower the ga-billion lights she, Gabe, and Faith had strung all over the place. The snow was splashed with rainbow light. Spike caught her, tipping up her chin. “You know, I think I need to find a new name for you, Bit. You’re not so little any more.”

“Thanks for noticing.”

For a moment Dawn thought he was going to kiss her. He took a step back, hit some black ice and the next thing she knew he was down in a drift. The look on his face was so startled she couldn’t help laughing loudly. The snow threatened to swallow him whole and Dawn laughed that much harder. The door to the house opened and Willow looked out.

“What’s so funny?” she asked.

Dawn, holding her side with one hand, pointed with the other.

“Making snow devils, Spike?” Willow grinned at him.

“This isn’t funny.” Spike floundered, trying to get up.

“Sure it is. Better hurry and get up. Faith lives for snow. She’ll take you lying there as an invite for a snow fight. I think she’s gearing Connor and Angel up for one as I speak,” Willow said.

“This is so undignified,” Spike grumbled, getting up. He stomped to the house, dropping snow as he went.

“A good snowball fight is fun,” Dawn protested as Willow stepped back so Spike could get through. “You have snow in your hair, Spike.”

“I have snow everywhere,” he moaned.

“Don’t be a spoil sport,” Dawn said, snagging his arm and dragging him to a halt.

Before Spike knew what was happening, he found himself fighting alongside Dawn against the teams of Angel, Willow, and Gabriel and Connor and Faith. Eventually the teams broke up as Connor and Spike ganged up on Angel until Dawn and Faith bowled them over and Willow helped bury them in the snow. By the end, the yard looked like a herd of rampaging elephants had plowed through and they all collapsed in wet-haired, red-faced piles in front of the fireplace.
_________________
icon by Blaar Rosir
ANGEL -No, zombies are slow-moving, dimwitted things that crave human flesh.
CONNOR -like you.
ANGEL - No! It's different. Trust me


Last edited by D.M. on Sat Dec 25, 2004 5:39 am; edited 2 times in total
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D.M.
Dark Avenger


Joined: 28 Nov 2003
Posts: 382

PostPosted: Wed Dec 22, 2004 5:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

CHAPTER TWO


“It’s like watching a car accident.” Faith said, watching Connor power his way through a Primanti’s Pitts-Burger Cheese Steak sandwich. She had gone on a lunch run to the Almost Famous Primanti Brother’s and came back with loads of food.

“I would have said he didn’t eat at all from the looks of him,” Willow said, looking over at Angel and Spike who sat next to the fireplace away from the completely shaded living room windows.

Connor didn’t stop inhaling food to protest. He just shoveled in fries with gravy.

“It wouldn’t be so amazing if he hadn’t already eaten a whole pastrami and cheese first,” Dawn said, looking up from her Cajun chicken sandwich. Primanti’s sandwiches didn’t just have thick delicious bread and lots of meat and cheese, they came loaded with tomatoes, french fries and cole slaw right on the sandwich.

“You ladies haven’t been around teenaged boys much,” Gabriel said. “You can’t actually fill them up.”

“I’m just glad he’s eating. I’m with Willow, I thought he lived on nutrients he strained from the air.” Angel made a face. “He’s kinda skinny.”

“Kinda?” Spike shot the elder vampire a look like he’s lost his mind.

“I eat,” Connor said, biting into the huge kosher dill.

“Yeah, we can tell. Are all your appetites that big?” Faith asked and his eyes lit up. “Forget I asked.”

“Yes, let’s,” Angel said with complete and total dread. “And we have some business to deal with.”

“Before we do that, I need to ask, Willow can you take a final look over my paper? It’s due this afternoon,” Dawn said.

“I have to go to work, Dawnie. It looked great last draft. I wouldn’t worry.” Willow waved her off.

“I can look it over if you want,” Spike offered and off everyone’s looks, he added. “What? I’m a good wordsmith.”

“Thanks, Spike. It’s bad enough I have to get a head start on my reading list for next semester’s lit class.” Dawn wrinkled her nose.

“What do you have to read?” Spike put a hand on her shoulder.

“Well, this is women in literature and Lady Windermere’s Fan, is one of the stories. Willow promised Wilde wasn’t so bad,” Dawn said.

“I like Wilde,” Spike said, with a wide grin.

“He was fun to hang out with,” Angel said, a faraway look in his eye.

“Yeah, for a while I thought Darla was going to turn him and add him to the family.” Spike laughed.

Connor stopped eating, eyeing them evilly. “You vampires and what you think is a good time. It’s enough to turn your stomach.”

Angel wagged a finger at him. “Just eat, son.”

“I’m just as glad Oscar Wilde isn’t my big brother,” Connor said. “And if it’s any consolation Dawn, I have to read ahead for next semester, too. I brought some of it with me. I think I’ll be starting with Venus in Furs.”

“Why would you have to read that book?” Angel asked, his brow wrinkling. “What kind of class is this?”

“Sex in literature,” Connor replied with a cat-after-catnip grin.

Angel’s heavy brow lifted. “Why are you taking that?”

“Because I have to have a lit class and there’s only one other guy in a class of twenty-five.” Connor’s grin became positively demonic.

Spike laughed. “Wish I thought of that...of course, I didn’t exactly get to go to school with girls.”

“Or else you’d have tried it.” Angel shook his head. “Son, you’re going to get eaten alive in that class.”

Connor curled his lip at his dad. “I can hold my own.”

“You get that talent from your dad. He’s an expert at holding his own,” Spike said and Angel almost went for Spike. Faith nearly cut the vampire in half, jerking him back hard by his belt. “I’m surprised he even remembered how to father anyone.” Spike added, pushing his luck past the breaking point.

“Gabe, Willow has there ever been a record of anyone killing a vampire with the sharp end of a french fry?” Connor asked, wagging a gravy-laden hunk of potato at Spike.

“If you manage it, son, I’ll make sure you get official credit for it,” Angel said, with a proud father expression.

“How is this helping us with business?” Dawn asked, realizing Spike’s mouth was his own worst enemy.

“Yes, thank you, Dawn,” Gabriel said. “From what I can tell, the killer isn’t actually culling from gay clubs but rather from the usual college hang-outs.”

“That wouldn’t surprise me. Gavin might get a bigger thrill out of snagging someone who’s only butter-side up and making him do naughty things he wouldn’t do otherwise,” Spike said.

“What’s an incubus even look like?” Connor asked, reaching for some of Faith’s cheese fries. She slapped his hand away.

“Human,” Spike said. “He’ll look like an every day guy. Last I saw him, Gavin was thin and red-headed. But, incubi can look like any sort of man, tailor themselves to your desires.”

“That’ll make this more difficult,” Faith said. “So, you desire red-haired men, Spike?”

He eyed her sourly. “Dru maybe...I don’t know. That could be what he really looks like. I’m not sure if his glamour works on vampires or not.”

“So, Dawn, what clubs would you suggest we visit tonight?” Faith asked. “You probably know what’s hot and what’s not.”

Dawn pursed her lips, thinking about it. “I think I’d start at The Upper Limit. It’s usually packed.”

“Okay. Tonight, we’ll start there,” Willow said. “I’ll see if I can find a spell that can locate incubi.”

“Sounds like a plan. Hey, bait, do you have good club-going clothes or are you really an Abercrombie & Fitch victim?” Faith gestured at Connor’s baggy pants and flannel shirt.

“I brought club clothes,” Connor replied.

“Anyone else afraid of what that means?” Faith asked and Connor glared.

Dawn noticed they all seemed a tad leery.

* * *

Dawn twisted in time to the music. She knew she didn’t have much to offer this mission. Willow had just begun to teach her magic, something Buffy didn’t know about. She wasn’t anywhere near being able to use it offensively. The incubus wasn’t likely to be interested in her but she, Faith and Willow were needed to give Spike, Gabe, and Connor someone to dance with. Angel was watching them dance from his spot as part of the wall. He refused to participate in dancing.

Dawn found herself partnered with Spike and she couldn’t be happier. Spike could move, maybe not as good as Gabe but better than Connor who seemed oddly repressed. She guessed Angel hadn’t included dancing as a skill when he had Connor reworked, and Dawn was pretty sure Conn’rs hell didn’t have any dance schools. After a while, Dawn could almost forget she was here on business. She was working up a good sweat on the dance floor and wouldn’t mind a cold beer but she was too young and this club carded well. She’d have to settle for a soda.

“I need a break, Spike,” she said just as the music slowed.

He held out a hand. “Could I have a slow dance first?”

Dawn couldn’t say no. She had been hoping for this moment and was beginning to think the DJ had something against slowing things down. “Sure.”

Spike felt good, she decided instantly as he tucked her closer to his strong body. He knew how to move, to make her forget she was trying to match someone else’s moves. She didn’t feel self-confidant, matching him easily. It was perfect, except maybe for the fact he smelled like an ashtray. As Spike changed direction, Dawn caught a glimpse of Angel.

“Angel looks mad. Do you think he doesn’t want us dancing?” she whispered.

“He’s looking at them.” Spike nodded at Connor and Faith who were into their roles a little too much. Faith was the mistress of sex with clothes on, Dawn had no doubt of it.

“Good,” Dawn said, resting her head on Spike’s shoulder. His hands moved up and down her back as he danced. Dawn couldn’t remember anything that had felt more wonderful. When the dance ended and the music picked up tempo, she nodded at the bar. “I’m dying of thirst.”

Spike took her hand, pushing a path through the crowd. “What do you want, Sunshine?”

“Is that my new name?” She smiled at him.

“Until I can think of something better.” He echoed her smile. “It fits. You have a sunny smile.”

Dawn blushed. “Thanks. I’ll just have a root beer. They have it on tap here. It makes it taste better.”

“I see you have Tetley Ale,” Spike said to the bartender, laying a twenty on the bar. “I’ll have one and put her soda on my tab.”

“Thanks, Spike,” Dawn said but before they could talk Angel sidled over.

“They’re going to find it very hard to see an incubus when they can’t see past each other’s faces,” the vampire groused, shaking a hand at Connor and Faith.

“Relax, Peaches. Incubi can taste arousal. That horny boy of yours could bring them in from New York,” Spike retorted.

“I fear just that,” Angel said. “Since there’s no blood anywhere near my son’s optic nerves, I’m sure he’s seen nothing that resembles an incubus. How about you? Did you see anything suspicious?”

“No, but I’m not sure what I’m looking for, you know?” Dawn took a sip of root beer. “If Gavin looks like an ordinary guy, how can I spot him? I haven’t seen any guys eyeing up Spike if that helps.”

“It’s a relief if nothing else,” Spike said. “I don’t see any signs of him either but it occurs to me one of two things can happen provided Gavin even picks this bar. A, he’ll see me and want to cut me in on the fun or B, he knows I’ve changed sides and I’ll scare him off.”

“Probably should have thought of that before we brought you along,” Angel said. “If we don’t score a hit tonight, maybe you should sit out the next try.”

Spike nodded. “If worse comes to worse we can try to find some demon hang-outs and ask around.”

“That might be a better use for you,” Angel agreed.

Dawn wanted to protest because she was so enjoying spending this time with Spike but she didn’t. She knew that they might be right. If Spike could scare Gavin off, if it was even Gavin doing this, then it was best he stayed away. So, she decided to make the most of the night and she did, dancing until she was exhausted. However, they turned up nothing, not even so much as a vampire. Everyone went home feeling disappointed.
_________________
icon by Blaar Rosir
ANGEL -No, zombies are slow-moving, dimwitted things that crave human flesh.
CONNOR -like you.
ANGEL - No! It's different. Trust me
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D.M.
Dark Avenger


Joined: 28 Nov 2003
Posts: 382

PostPosted: Fri Dec 24, 2004 5:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

CHAPTER THREE


Dawn decided it was a good time for a tea break and set aside her Wilde novel and headed down stairs. She had been hearing Connor and Angel shouting at each other for the better part of a half hour and hadn’t wanted to intrude on whatever the problem was. She found there wasn’t a problem. They were playing Mortal Kombat on Connor’s Xbox and all the shouting was entirely game related.

“How long have they been playing?” she asked Spike who was sprawled on the couch, one leg cocked up on the back and the other half dangling off the edge as if designed to make her eyes go right to his crotch. She refused to look.

“Too long. I don’t know why Peaches bothers. His hand-to-eye coordination sucks,” Spike said lazily.

“It does not,” Angel snapped.

“Then why is the kid wiping you out? He could play with his toes and still beat you,” Spike said, and Dawn tried not to laugh as she headed into the kitchen to put on the kettle.

“Shut up, Spike,” Angel growled, glancing over his shoulder.

“You really are bad at this, Dad,” Connor said, flexing his tired fingers. “Hey Dawn, want to play?”

“I’m no good at those things. Just ask Xander when he gets here for Christmas,” she called from the kitchen.

“You can’t be worse than Dad.”

“Hey, no starting new games. Passions will be on soon and I’m not missing it so you can play kid games,” Spike grumbled.

“So, the world has to come to a halt so you watch your soap opera?” Angel eyed Spike as if he were a new form of life the vampire had never seen before.

“Yes,” Spike replied in a tone that brooked no argument.

Dawn came back into the living room. “Passions isn’t on for another hour, Spike. Where is everyone else?”

“Faith and Willow had the sense to run away,” Connor replied. “Not sure where Gabe went. I hope we didn’t disturb your studying.”

Dawn shook her head, flopping on the bean bag chair. “Just reading that Wilde novel.”

Connor bobbed his head. “Venus in Furs is pretty easy. I’m almost done. I could probably get to the Anais Nin stuff, too.”

“Nin?” Angel raised an eyebrow.

“What? Knew her, too?” Connor asked, sardonically.

“No, he just got plenty of blisters on his hands while reading her stuff,” Spike said, and Dawn tossed a stuffed reindeer at him. He caught it easily.

Dawn scowled at him. “Spike, don’t be rude.”

“Sorry, I’m a bad rude man.” His smile spread slow and sensual across his face. There was no real apology in his voice.

“He used to tell Dru that all the time. She usually tortured him afterwards. Feel free to do the same,” Angel said, setting aside his controller.

“Pass.” Dawn eyed both vampires sourly. “You know fighting is a form of loving, right?”

“Then these two must be in true love,” Connor said, and Angel swatted him in the back of the head.

“I believe it.” With a glance, Dawn dared Angel to swat her, too. “Do you have any other games besides Mortal Kombat?”

“BloodRayne2,” Connor replied, rubbing his head.

“Do you not see how strange and wrong it is for you to be playing a female dhampire?” Angel wagged his head, getting up and stretching from sitting too long in front of a TV.

“It’s a cool game,” Connor protested.

“Dhampire?” Dawn asked.

“The unnatural offspring of a vampire,” Spike said. “Supposed to be with a mortal but since it’s impossible there really isn’t any such creature, unless you count little blue eyes over there.”

“I’m not a dhampire,” Connor said, his blue eyes stormy. “Well...maybe. I guess we have to call me something. Anyhow, I like BloodRayne. She’s hot.”

“She’s a computer image.” Angel’s brow wrinkled.

“I know but do you have any idea how many hours me and my frat brothers spent arguing who’s hotter, Rayne or Lara Croft?” Connor asked as if that made it better.

“You’re spending how much to educate him?” Spike let his leg slide off the back of the couch. “Waste of bloody money. Besides, everyone knows Lara’s hotter.”

“Spike, you’ve spent way too much time with Andrew and Xander,” Dawn said.

“I can’t believe I’m having a conversation this inane,” Angel moaned as the tea kettle whistled.

“Anyone for tea?” Dawn asked, glad for the escape.

“Have any Earl Grey?” Connor asked. “Or anything that’s not herbal? That stuff smells like drinking perfume. I can’t handle it.”

“We have Earl Grey.” Dawn smiled.

“Need help?” he offered.

“Nope.” Dawn went and poured the tea. Connor was holding up another game when she came back into the living room.

“How about Silent Hill 4?” he asked.

“What’s that?”

“A horror role playing game,” Angel said incredulously. “And it’s actually pretty damn scary. I still don’t understand why you want to play games like that, Connor, when you live it every day.”

“It’s fun scary,” Connor replied.

“I don’t know how to play,” Dawn said, lighting the big holiday bayberry candles to add some ambience to a room shut up a little too long already from the cold.

“I’ll teach you, Dawn,” Spike said sitting up. “Since I’m never going to get to watch Passions at this rate.”

“You know this game?” Dawn asked, surprised.

“I’ve been watching Broody the Second play and I used to beat Andrew’s score on number 2 all the time,” Spike smiled at her.

“Do you mind, Connor?” Dawn asked.

He shrugged. “Nah. Play. I’ll get the tea then get back to Venus in Furs. Faith’s promised to help with my homework.”

“No, she’s not,” Angel said sharply and Connor’s face twisted in a familiar sneer.

“Angel, Faith can help. I mean, she might not have finished school but she’s no dummy,” Dawn said.

“It’s not that, Dawn. Venus in Furs is um...specialized reading,” Angel said, looking embarrassed.

“It’s about a dominatrix and her boy toy. I can imagine the homework.” The tip of Spike’s tongue peeked out between his lips.

Dawn shoved him. “Are men all the same?”

“No, not all of us want to be dominated. That’s a special subset,” Spike said, leering at Connor.

“You better hush and teach me this game before you’re nothing but ashes on the crčche,” Dawn said, reading the look in Angel and Connor’s eyes.

Spike snorted and tried to show her how to play the game. Dawn found out that Angel hadn’t lied. The video game was psychologically unnerving and in spite of herself, she’d jump and Spike would put his arms around her. She tried not to abuse that. Angel eventually fell asleep on the couch and Connor stretched out in front of the tree on the soft wooly rug reading his book. Eventually Faith came home and offered her assistance with his homework. Angel went after them after Spike purposely woke him up and spilled the beans.

“That was mean,” Dawn said, setting her controller down.

“It gives Angel something to do and makes him happy.” Spike smiled. “I’m helping out.”

“I’ll spell that out on a plaque with your ashes.” Dawn grinned, rubbing her sore wrist as Angel herded Connor back into the living room. Spike snorted at her. “This game is going to give me carpal tunnel.”

“That’s what the kid says. I always figured he was covering for damage done with his Playboy’s,” Spike said and Dawn squeaked as Connor leapt over her onto Spike.

Angel pulled Dawn to safety as the men wrestled, until Faith waded in, slapping them both simple.

“If you two destroy my tree, you’re so going to regret it,” the Slayer warned.

“He bit me,” Connor said, rubbing his neck.

“You tried to pull my oysters off,” Spike snapped, also rubbing but Dawn refused to look.

“Deserved it.” Connor was obviously unrepentant.

“You’re both going to go outside,” Faith said. “And no Spike, I don’t care that it’s daylight. Connor, you don’t need to be getting all bruised up. What incubus would want you that way?”

“How do I answer that?” Connor looked to Angel.

“Ignore it,” the vampire instructed. “We probably should start deciding what we’re doing tonight.”

“I’m staying away,” Spike said. “And I was thinking, there’s not much Dawn can do at the club. Gavin won’t be looking at her. Maybe she can stay here, give me a hand with some of the research.”

Dawn was surprised by that but decided she’d much rather spend time with Spike than in a club. “Sure but how do we know where to look this time?”

“Willow and Gabe have been working on that, trying to see if there’s a pattern,” Faith said. “Gabe’s picked out the club so if you want to stay here, that’s fine.”

“And Spike, you’ll probably need to head out at some point to check out the demon clubs,” Angel said. “Start with Gabe’s bar and work your way toward the seedier places.”

Spike waved him off, “Not until much later. Nothing starts happening until around midnight.”

“If tonight doesn’t work, there’s a big post-finals party tomorrow at the Velvet Pitt,” Dawn said.

“I’ll let Gabe know,” Faith promised.

“Cool.”

Spike leaned over and said to Dawn, “Why don’t you go finish your homework? This might help.” He pulled a folded piece of paper out of his pocket, pressing it into her hand.

She gave him a curious look. “Probably a good idea.”

Dawn went upstairs and sat on her bed before looking at the note. In Spike’s surprisingly fussy handwriting, he had written a cryptic note.

‘I’m taking you out to celebrate how well you did in your first semester. It’ll be our secret. Dress up.’

Dawn grinned. A secret rendezvous, she couldn’t think of anything more romantic. She filled up the tub and soaked for a good long time while trying to concentrate on the stupid novel. She popped downstairs briefly just so Willow wouldn’t wonder what she was up to, and as soon as everyone was on their way out for the evening’s mission, she ran back upstairs and tried to figure out what to wear. She was determined not to be like Buffy and go through everything in her closet in the process. Of course, it being winter it was so hard to decide. She wanted to wear the pretty, sleek wool pants but she knew instinctively when Spike said dress up he meant in an actual dress.

She settled on a deep blue dress that was very simple but flattering. She put on her mother’s pearls, thinking Joyce would like her to wear them. For some reason, her mom had liked Spike as much as she had disliked Angel. Dawn looked at her choice in footwear and regretfully went with flats. It was just too icy for anything else and really she wanted her snow boots.

She bounced downstairs but no one was there. “Spike?”

He came out of the basement in a charcoal grey suit. Dawn couldn’t help staring. He looked incredible and she couldn’t remember ever seeing him in a suit before, well except that time he had on that stupid brown thing when Willow accidentally erased their memories. He smiled at her. “You look beautiful, Dawn.”

“I was thinking the same thing...handsome,” she quickly corrected herself. “You look handsome. I didn’t know you even had a suit.”

He smoothed his silk tie. “To be honest, I raided Gabe’s closet. He’s just a little taller than me.”

“I can’t tell. Where are we going?” she asked eagerly, not caring that Gabe might not appreciate his clothing being borrowed.

“It’s a secret.” Spike’s eyes twinkled. “Best get your coat, luv.”

She pointed at her feet. “I’m probably going to lose a toe to frostbite and slide to my death in these, you know that.”

He nodded. “I’m prepared for that.”

Dawn pulled on her coat and he opened the door for her. When she came out onto the porch, Spike swept her off her feet into his arms. “Spike!”

“Relax, luv, I’ve done this before many a time,” he said, and she knew he meant Dru but she didn’t let that bother her.

Spike carried her the few blocks to the top of Grandview and set her down on the well-cleared sidewalks. He took her hand and led her to Isabela’s. Dawn stared at the front door of the place, knowing it was one of the best and most romantic places in Pittsburgh. He opened the door for her. It was like walking into someone’s home, which surprised her. It was almost a bit shabby, totally not what she was expecting.

“Spike, what are we doing here?” she whispered.

“Dinner, luv. It’s amazing how the name Wolfram and Hart still has power, even here. Got us a table just like that.” He smiled at her.

“Oh my god,” she said, covering her mouth. She hadn’t been expecting this.

They were shown to their table right at the window and all shabbiness fell away. The view was breathtaking.

“Spike, I know that this place is super expensive,” she said lowly.

“I wasn’t kidding about that money we have now.” He patted her hand. “Relax and enjoy, Dawn.”

She did just that and quickly learned dinner at Isabela’s was a set seven-course meal and Spike ordered the wine ‘flight,’ a different wine to suit each course. No one even thought to card her. “Spike, how are you going to muddle through seven courses?”

“Don’t worry about me. Eating doesn’t bother us. It’s just sort of tasteless and you go easy on the wine.” He wagged a finger at her.

“How can I? You just ordered up a gallon of it.” She smiled, reaching across the table, tangling her fingers with his.

He smiled and leaned over and kissed her softly. The kiss was quick. She sat back and started to protest, unsure of herself now that she was finally alone with him. He pressed a finger to her lips hushing her and kissed her again. Dawn relaxed into it. His lips felt just like she had dreamed they might. The tip of his tongue caressed her upper lip like the promise of more to come then he sat back.

“I am proud of you, by the way,” Spike said.

“For what,” she managed to stammer, her lips still tingly.

“For doing well in school.” He sat back, reaching for his wine. “A lot of students really screw up their first time off on their own.”

She studied him. “How do you even know how I’m doing?”

“I keep tabs.” He smiled. “Which sounds more ominous than it is.”

“I’m an art student, how bad could I screw up?” She shrugged, feeling a little down on herself, having heard ‘art isn’t a real major’ bantered around campus once too often.

“Even art students fail out...probably especially them. I know how artists are.” Spike looked smarmy. “Just look at Angel. Think he would have made his way through school?”

Dawn wagged her head. “You pick on him so much, poor Angel.”

“He makes it too easy,” Spike said as the amuse-bouche arrived.

Dawn stared at the pastry. “What is it?”

Spike cut it open. “Lamb sausage and onion.”

Dawn tried it and found it was delicious with its intense tomato coulis. She ate every crumb and powered her way through the crab-stuffed crepes with the blue cheese and red pepper pesto. She felt like she was ready to burst. She stared at the tiny blob of raspberry-tea granita the server set down in front of her. “I was expecting a bigger dessert, not that I have room for it.”

Spike laughed. “Sweetie, that’s not dessert. That’s an aperitif to cleanse the palate before the meat course.”

“Meat course?” Dawn’s eyes widened. “Spike, where do you think I’ll put that?”

“We have all night, luv. They know how to pace these things,” he assured her.

Dawn sighed. “It’s so delicious...so romantic. Thank you.”

“You’re welcome.” He took her hand again, glancing out the huge window. “You’re right, you know. This view is incredible. It’s the kind of thing that makes you want to write poetry.”

“Are you writing again?” she asked hopefully.

He shook his head. “Maybe I should start.”

“I think so.”

All too soon Dawn found herself digging into a Jamison Farm lamb shank. Until tonight she had never had lamb, wasn’t sure she could eat anything that inherently cute but the tender-enough-to-be-spooned-up meat with its wild mushroom demi-glace was one of the best things she had ever tasted. She shut her eyes, savoring it.

“I should feel guilty about being here when all our friends are out there trying to find Gavin,” she said woefully. She was more sad that she actually didn’t feel too sorry.

“You’ve never had a break, Bit, for most of your life. You’ve earned a nice night,” Spike said. “Enjoy.”

“I am,” she purred, not sure what all to expect for the night. It could end right now and be one of the best ever.

She even managed to find room for ‘cheesecake like it should be’ and sampled Spike’s dessert of strawberries with balsamic vinegar and cracked pepper, which had sounded gross but was superb. Her head was light with wine by the time Spike paid the check and they walked toward Sweet Brier again. They paused to look at the view one last time.

“This was such a perfect night.” She rested her head against his shoulder.

“Hopefully the first of many to come,” he said, stroking her hair.

That was what she had been praying to hear. Dawn slid her hands around his neck. He kissed her much more ferociously this time without a table between them. Dawn matched the kiss with all the limited experience but total desire she had to bring. Finally he ended it and swept her off her feet once more.

“I’m glad you’re carrying me. I think I’m a little drunk, and I’m about to burst open from all that food.” She snuggled against his chest. Having refrained from smoking in his borrowed clothing, Spike didn’t smell too much like cigarettes. Dawn liked it.

“Now let’s just hope I don’t fall on my ass again in all this snow,” Spike said.

“I have faith in you.”

Spike carried her past all the steel town homes and their lights without incident. Dawn felt like going to sleep in spite of herself. Too much wine, she mentally kicked herself. She should have been more careful. What if Spike wanted to do something else tonight? Spike even carried her up to her room and set her on her feet. “You might want to change, pet.”

Dawn nodded, not really wanting the evening to end but she also didn’t want to collapse in her dress. She changed into jeans and a sweater, hardly flattering, she thought distractedly. Her bed called her name but she managed to get downstairs and flop on the couch. Spike was already there, changed into his usual gear. He put a tome in her hand and lifted her feet up on the couch.

“Pretend you’ve done a little looking. I have to go out to see what I can turn up at the demon hang-outs,” he said.

“Now?” She ran a hand up his arm.

“Sorry, luv.” Spike gave her forehead a kiss then fished out his cigarettes.

Dawn watched him go, started looking through the book and fell asleep with it over her head.
_________________
icon by Blaar Rosir
ANGEL -No, zombies are slow-moving, dimwitted things that crave human flesh.
CONNOR -like you.
ANGEL - No! It's different. Trust me
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D.M.
Dark Avenger


Joined: 28 Nov 2003
Posts: 382

PostPosted: Fri Dec 24, 2004 5:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

CHAPTER FOUR

Dawn knew Spike was watching her dance. After leaving her the night before, Spike had struck out at the demon clubs so her suggestion of going to the big post-final party was voted as the next best step for their mission to find Gavin. They decided to risk including Spike again since he might recognize the demon the fastest. She, Faith, and Willow had been doing the gal pal dancing while the boys stalked the perimeter trolling for incubi. So far, it didn’t look like they were going to have any better success than the last two nights.

The music turned slow and the group of women broke up to go find their respective partners. Dawn hauled Spike out onto the dance floor. “See anything?” she asked.

“Nothing,” he said, and she held her tongue about that not being true. She knew he was seeing nothing but her and she liked that.

“Too bad,” she said, putting her head on his shoulder.

Spike held her close as they moved. She didn’t think he was looking for Gavin any more than she was. That was so bad. She opened her eyes and saw Angel not far off, glaring.

“Angel looks mad,” she said, gesturing at the vampire.

“That’s his normal state,” Spike said dismissively, and started dancing her towards the periphery. Angel met them but said nothing. “Peaches, just go cut in and peel your boy away from Faith if you don’t like it.”

Angel just curled his lip at Spike and Dawn saw he was still watching Connor and Faith. Dawn wished she knew what was bugging Angel so much; was it that they weren’t really into their jobs; or that even though he was Faith’s biggest supporter, he didn’t want a murderess dating his son; or given what happened the last time Connor got close to a woman, he was trying to keep the poor kid on a shelf? Dawn knew better than to get involved and knew Spike didn’t.

Sure enough, he slowly waltzed her back out onto the floor and rubbed shoulders with Faith. “Faith, luv, go dance with Angel. We can’t catch Gavin if you’re plastered all over our bait.”

Faith glared at him but to Dawn’s surprise, she let Connor go and dragged, quite literally, Angel out on to the dance floor. Connor drifted towards the bar. Dawn shut her eyes again, tucking her face into the curb of Spike’s neck. She wondered if she could get him to stop smoking so she could actually smell him and not his cigarettes.

As she cocked her head up, hoping to sneak in a kiss she saw Connor heading for the door with a tall, red-headed man. “Spike, look!” She pointed.

“Oh shit! Come on, Peaches will die if we let his kid get raped and eaten by Gavin.” Spike started pushing through the crowd on the dance floor. “Angel!”

Angel glanced up then Dawn saw his face go dark. She half expected him to morph in full view of everyone. He and Faith joined her and Spike as they tried to get to the door. From somewhere Willow and Gabe moved in to flank them. They burst through the door into the frigid night air. There were no signs of Connor. Dawn felt her heart pounding. She didn’t want anything to happen to him but Angel seemed in control. He stalked around the building into the alleyway.

Dawn saw Connor pressed up against the brick near the dumpster French-kissing the guy...or was that how the incubus fed? She didn’t know. Angel took one leap, seeming to almost fly, covering the distance, taking the incubus to the ground. Connor sagged, sliding down the wall. Faith and Spike joined Angel in thrashing the demon but Dawn didn’t see that Angel needed any help. Willow seemed to be working up a spell that Dawn had no doubt would be big and bad.

Dawn and Gabe darted in and each took one of Connor’s arms, dragging him out of the alley. They almost cleared the alley when there was a loud scream and something seemed to explode. Dawn felt the magic buffeting her and unfortunately the huge overhang of snow on the roof. It cracked ominously and let go. Before Dawn or Gabe could move, they and the barely conscious Connor, were avalanched.

Dawn found herself on top of Connor under the heavy snow. She sat up slowly, having to push hard against the snow. Someone was brushing her clean. She smiled at Spike who was digging her out. “I came how close to having my tombstone reading ‘killed by snow’?”

“Not funny, Bit. You okay?” He helped her stand as Angel lifted Connor up out of the snow. Over Spike’s shoulder, Dawn saw Willow and Faith helping Gabe up.

“I’m cold,” she said honestly as the snow soaked through her flimsy clubbing clothes.

Spike pulled her to him. “Sorry I don’t generate much in the way of heat. How’s the kid, Peaches?”

“I don’t know. Connor?” Angel asked, trying to steady his son, having gotten him on his feet.

“My head hurts,” Connor moaned, leaning his forehead against Angel’s shoulder. “What happened?”

“We were about to ask you that,” Faith said.

“I think maybe we ought to get to our vehicles before Dawn, Connor, and I catch our deaths,” Gabe said.

Angel started half pushing, half carrying Connor along to the parking lot. “Do you remember anything, son?”

“You and Faith were dancing and I went to the bar to get a better view of the dance floor. Someone tapped my shoulder and when I turned around there was this guy there with these weird grey eyes. That’s all I remember,” Connor said as Angel stowed him in Faith’s car.

“You almost got eaten,” Spike said. “You were good bait after all.”

Connor eyed him evilly and Dawn pulled the vampire into the back seat with her before his mouth got him in trouble Faith squeezed in with them as Angel drove but looked like she wanted to sit in Connor’s lap and make him feel better. Dawn shivered uncontrollably from the dousing of snow she took. Maybe it would have been warmer to ride home with Gabe and Willow in his truck but then she’d miss out on Spike’s arm around her.

When they got home, she jumped in the shower to warm up while Angel and Faith fussed over Connor who really looked like he didn’t want fussed over. For her part, she liked Spike fussing over her and when she came back downstairs in her decidedly unsexy but warm tartan flannel PJ’s, he had a big cup of hot chocolate waiting for her. He stowed her next to Connor and Faith in front of the fireplace, which Gabe had stoked up high.

“What happened to the incubus?” she asked as Spike settled next to her. “Was it your old friend?”

Spike nodded. “It was Gavin. We...um exploded him.”

“I think he exploded himself,” Willow said, from her perch on the couch. “Incubi can lose their corporeal forms as a mechanism of escape, sort of like a lizard and its tail.”

“But it’ll be a long time before he can become corporeal again,” Gabe said, “And I would expect him not to show up here when he does.”

“We didn’t get a good clean kill shot in before he pulled that trick.” Faith eyed Angel who sat on the couch with Willow. “Angel was too busy making Gavin’s head one with the asphalt.”

“He touched Connor,” Angel said, simply. Connor looked almost sad somehow and Dawn wondered at that.

“Well, at least he’s gone,” Dawn said. “And we can concentrate on other things...like the holidays.”

“Yes, we can,” Faith said with a grin.

* * *

“I just love it here,” Dawn said, holding hands with Spike. He had tamed down his bad boy appearance a little. He still had on the black jeans but he had gotten a wool sweater from somewhere and looked very non-threatening.

Spike looked around the ‘Orchid Room.’ “Thought you might. There’s just something romantic inherent in flowers. Orchids are one of my favorites.”

“I wouldn’t have guessed that,” Dawn said, as they left the multi-hued, delicate splendor of the orchids behind going on to the next room in the Phipps Conservatory.

“It’s bad for the vampire image,” he replied primly.

“You and your image.” Dawn wagged her head, her long hair swaying. “I really liked the stegosaurus topiary in the Fern Room.”

“That was brilliant,” Spike agreed.

Dawn squeezed his hand tighter. She suspected by now Willow, Faith, and Angel had figured out that she had been meeting Spike various places around the city in the days after they had defeated Gavin. They had gone for a ride on the Incline and had poked around the Carnegie Museum but the conservatory had to be the most romantic place they’d gone. “How’d you even know about this place?”

He smiled at her. “I have my ways.”

She squeezed his hand. “I like your ways.”

He kissed her. “I was hoping you’d say that.”

Dawn paused in front of a huge head in the ‘Stove Room.’ The statue was grotesque, nothing but a head with bad stone teeth. An indoor ‘creek’ poured forth from its mouth past the bamboo. “This thing’s ugly.”

“Bomarzo,” Spike said, getting a closer look.

“Huh?”

“The Bomarzo Gardens in Italy are full of creepy shite like this. People like them. I don’t get it.” Spike shrugged. “I mean I liked them, but I’m...well, evil at the time at any rate.”

“And now that you aren’t evil?”

Spike studied the big stone head. “I still like it.”

“You can be odd, you know that right?” She grinned at him as she pulled him into the next room. The scent of spices filled her nose.

“I like you, too, so does that make me odd?” He tapped her nose.

“Some people would say yes.” Dawn threw her head back and took a deep breath in. “This is nice.”

“Agreed.” He put both arms around her, pulling her closer.

She kissed him. “And it was sweet of you to suggest Connor bring Faith here.”

He laughed. “I thought Peaches was going to swallow his face when I did that. Be sure to remind him that this is a great place to hold weddings.”

“You be good and quit teasing, Angel.” She pinched his side.

Spike danced away. “Luv, a bloke has to have a past time.”

“This one is going to get you killed,” she scolded.

“Hey, I could still be teasing him about Gabe having a crush on Connor.” Spike smirked.

“Last time you did that, we found you tied up inside a snow man,” Dawn reminded him, thinking on all the pictures they had taken of him.

The blond shrugged. “It was worth it.”

“That wasn’t what you were groaning about when we dug you out and I’m not going to stop Angel if you taunt him,” Dawn promised, moving on from the ‘Fruit and Spice’ room.

“And here I thought you liked me.” Spike pouted.

She elbowed him. “I do but I’m not saving you from yourself.”

“That’s from whom I need saving the most.” He batted those beautiful eyes at her.

She slid an arm around him. “I don’t doubt it. Ooo, look at that.” She pointed to the fountain in the middle of the sweet-smelling ‘Victoria Room.’

“That poetry thing of mine...this is inspirational,” he admitted, looking at the fountain.

“You can play with the fountain,” one of the employees keeping a discreet eye on the gardens said. “They’re interactive.”

“Cool.” Dawn yanked Spike along after her. To her surprise, Connor and Faith already manned the interactive controls. “Oops, I think the cat’s out of the bag.”

“I’m not sure that it was ever in, luv,” Spike replied. “Having fun?”

Faith looked over her shoulder at them. “This is great. Come on play.”

They all shared the controls to the fountain for a while as the date morphed into a double date. They all ended up heading home, taking bets on Angel’s first words when they got home. Spike won the bet. Angel pouted about it so Faith kissed the vampire’s cheek and gave him a swat on the backside much to Angel’s chagrin. Willow mollified him by shoving a sugar cookie in his mouth before passing them out to everyone else.

“Tomorrow’s Christmas eve,” Faith said as if it was coming as a surprise. “Gabe and I are going to his church.”

That did come as a surprise to Dawn. She knew Faith loved Christmas but to see the Slayer in church, the world might just be ending.

“You’re all invited to join us,” she continued, putting an arm around Connor’s shoulders. “I figured Angel had you programmed as an Irish Catholic, kid.”

Connor rolled his eyes. “Right down to the guilt.”

“Good, so you’ll be with us,” Faith said.

“It’s open to people of any faith,” Gabe said. “All we ask is that if you’re not Catholic you don’t take the Eucharist.”

“I said I’d go,” Willow said with a shrug. “I’m all for new learning experiences.”

“There’s something very romantic about Christmas Eve Mass,” Faith said. “Or maybe it’s just me. I never had much to do with the church but as a kid we’d go to Midnight Mass and it was always so special.”

“I’ll go,” Dawn said, not really sure about it. Weren’t Catholics supposed to be really somber? Well, if Willow could see it as a learning experience so could she. “It could be interesting. How about you and Angel, Spike?”

His eyes widened. “Do you want the church to fall in?”

“It’s not like there’s going to be holy water....is there?” Dawn looked at Gabe.

“Not enough to do much damage,” he replied.

“There goes the reputation,” Spike moaned. “I mean, Peaches will go if Baby Broody is going. If I start smoking, you’re all going to get it.”

“Don’t whine,” Faith said, swatting him lightly.

Spike snorted and Dawn thought about it. It could be a very interesting or a very bad night depending. She wanted everyone there. Xander couldn’t make it now until the day after Christmas, and Buffy was unfortunately still stuck in Scotland with Giles. She needed family and if it meant dragging a vampire to church she was going to do it.
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ANGEL -No, zombies are slow-moving, dimwitted things that crave human flesh.
CONNOR -like you.
ANGEL - No! It's different. Trust me
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D.M.
Dark Avenger


Joined: 28 Nov 2003
Posts: 382

PostPosted: Sat Dec 25, 2004 5:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

CHAPTER FIVE


“Now what,” Spike whispered as someone handed him a penny candle at the door to the cathedral. Angel was already giving Connor a warning look as the boy flicked water around in a finger bowl attached to the wall by the door. Holy water, Dawn realized. Connor anointed himself then waggled his wet fingers at Angel. Angel gave him another glare.

“Just follow Gabe’s lead,” Dawn said. “That’s what me and Willow are doing.”

Angel, just in front of them, lit his candle from the large candle in the center of the advent ring of candles. Dawn and Spike followed his lead. Dawn watched, a little befuddled as Connor and Gabe knelt sort of without actually touching ground before they even got into the pew. Luckily, they all managed to fit in one pew. The vampires were put in the center just in case of flying holy water. With Gabe to her left, Dawn sat beside Spike while Willow flanked Angel so Connor could be by Faith.

Dawn banged herself on the kneeler as Gabe lowered it. She watched him kneel - was it for silent prayer? - before sitting back on the pew. At least the non-denominational church her mom had occasionally taken her and Buffy to at holiday time had padded pews. None of that luxury for the Catholics it seemed. There were no lights on in the church, just the flickering candles. Pines and poinsettias adorned every stained glass window and the altar was alive with poinsettias and Christmas trees.

The larger than life Jesus on the cross made Dawn a little nervous. She hadn’t grown up following any church’s doctrine and hadn’t quite been prepared for the crucifix. The statue of Mary adorned with a crown of flowers and the Christ Child state in a real cloth gown were fairly disconcerting. Still, barring that, she could see a little why Faith thought it was romantic. Candle light and flowers; everyone gathered with their families; it was warmer than she ever expected.

The choir started in with the Christmas carols. Faith and Gabe joined in quickly. By the time they got to Silent Night, Dawn and Connor had joined in. Even Angel sang almost under his breath. Dawn was totally unprepared for the incense that was lit, filling the church with frankincense especially as an altar girl carried it through the church in a wildly swinging censer. Mass, however, was a lot longer than she expected and her butt was numb by the time they all filed out into the crisp December night.

“What is with all the kneeling, standing and otherwise wriggling about?” Spike grumped as they walked to the cars.

“Catholic calisthenics.” Gabe grinned.

Spike snorted. “No one told me I’d have to hold Peaches’ hand and offer him peace or I’d have sat somewhere else.”

“We could have put you on the aisle for the priest and his sprinkly ball of holy water.” Angel smirked.

“I thought it was kinda interesting. My father would die if he knew I stepped into a Catholic church,” Willow said, surprising Dawn. Willow rarely spoke about her family. Her dad would probably die knowing Willow was a witch for that matter.

“Hmmm, you know, it’s probably almost Christmas morning where Buffy is,” Dawn said and Spike draped an arm around her.

“I think it’s technically Christmas morn here, luv.” He smiled at her.

She elbowed him gently. “You know what I mean, the type of morning when everyone’s actually awake, gift opening and all that.”

“Eager to see if the Poof got Junior those therapy sessions he was asking for?” Spike beamed and Faith kept Connor from killing the vampire.

“You are so bad.” She tapped his nose then slid into the car.

When they got home, Gabe and Willow both looked exhausted and headed inside immediately. Gabe was muttering about needing to get his turducken in the oven now for tomorrow’s feast. Dawn and Connor had watched the Watcher creating the turducken the night before. He enlisted Connor’s help because the young man was good with a blade. Dawn was relegated to reading directions because her culinary skills were questionable at best. She watched as Gabe and Connor first deboned a turkey and stuff the legs, wings and cavities with cornbread stuffing. They did the same to a duck and stuffed it with andouille sausage stuffing and lastly a chicken got the same treatment, stuffed this time with shrimp dressing. Dawn had then been put to work boiling sweet potatoes for the gravy while Gabe put the chicken inside the duck and the duck inside the turkey, pinning it all neatly into place.

Ignoring Gabe’s culinary worries, Angel looked up at the stars. “I need to go for a walk...to think.”

“Want company?” Faith asked hen a worried look flashed across her face. “Expecting trouble?”

“No, to both. Merry Christmas,” Angel said, patted his son on the back, giving him a little shove toward Faith, and headed up the hill for Grandview.

“Merry Christmas to you, too, Dad,” Connor said, his hand slipping into Faith’s. They disappeared upstairs together.

Dawn and Spike went inside and waited for Gabe to quit fussing in the kitchen. Eventually he set the stove on its lowest setting and went to bed.

“Alone at last,” Spike said, sitting in front of the tree. He patted the rug beside him and Dawn sat down. “There’s a gift I wanted to give you tonight.” Spike reached towards the back of the tree. He put a big brightly wrapped box in Dawn’s lap. “Go ahead.”

“You sure you don’t want me to wait until the grand opening come morning...real morning.” She tossed her hair back over her shoulders. “You know what I mean.”

He cupped her chin and kissed her. “Open it.”

Dawn gleefully tore into it. She lifted a fat stuffed polar bear from the box. A green and red tartan bow was tied around its neck. Dawn hugged the bear and Spike at the same time. “It’s so cute. Thank you!” She kissed him again.

“You like him?” Spike almost seemed nervous.

Dawn squashed the bear to her chest. “I love him.”

“Good. There’s a birth certificate from Build-a-Bear in that box and everything,” Spike said.

“What?” Dawn dug in the box for the paperwork.

“Birth certificate for Li’l Bit. Okay, so I’m not that imaginative with names.” He shrugged. “I built that bear just for you...well, picked it out and stuffed it with this little heart inside for you. Named him and everything. He even donated money to the World Wildlife fund,” Spike said, talking fast. He looked subtly embarrassed. “You can buy clothes for him but I felt like a total wanker trying to dress a bear, so naked it is.”

“I love him just as he is. He is so sweet and so are you.” Dawn stole another kiss.

“Check the bow, luv.”

Dawn did and found a cameo pinned there. Her eyes widened as she ran a finger over the delicate pin. “Oh, Spike, it’s beautiful.”

“I thought so. It was made the year I was born. I lucked into it at an antique shop.” He smiled softly. “I’ve always liked cameos.”

Dawn threw her arms around him, crushing Li’l Bit between them as her lips met his hungrily. When she finally broke the kiss, she pulled out a gift from under the tree. “For you.”

Spike took off the paper gently, retaining every crease and fold and lifted out three journals. The pages were blank and rough. “Hand made books?”

“I thought you could write your poetry in them,” she said hesitantly, afraid he might not like them.

Spike caressed the leather cover of one of them. “They’re perfect. Thank you.”

Dawn smiled, half afraid she might cry she was so happy. Spike caught her face with both hands, his thumbs caressing her cheeks. “I have another gift for you, if you want it,” he whispered.

“Why wouldn’t I?”

“We’ll have to go upstairs so I can give it to you,” he said, meaningfully.

It took a moment for his meaning to sink in. Dawn’s breath caught. Was she ready for this step? She answered him and herself with another kiss


A.N. #1: Isabela’s on Grandview, the Phipp’s Conservatory and Build-a-Bear are all real. You can take a virtual tour of the Conservatory here: http://www.phipps.conservatory.org/index1.html and check out the nearest Build-a-Bear here: www.build-a-bear.com

A.N. #2 - I desperately want to try to make a turducken (okay, I’m insane, we all knew this) If you’re curious, head here for the recipe http://www.chefpaul.com/turducken.html

Challenge requirements: Romantic or Friendship pairing: romantic
Other character(s) if any you want in the fic: Willow, Angel, Faith
Requests (2 or 3 things you want in your fic): a Classic Novel, a video game, stuffed animal
Restrictions (2 or 3 things you don't want): no mention of Spike/Buffy and no B/A bashing.
_________________
icon by Blaar Rosir
ANGEL -No, zombies are slow-moving, dimwitted things that crave human flesh.
CONNOR -like you.
ANGEL - No! It's different. Trust me
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