Chapter One: Some Things Never Change
“Battle axe!” Spike called out. Dawn ducked a punch and spun to the left to hand him the weapon.
“Here you go, sweetie.”
“Thanks,” he said, smiling as he gave her a quick kiss. He executed a side kick without looking and knocked his opponent backward before turning to swing the axe. The vampire he was fighting turned to dust and Spike glanced up to watch Dawn fight. He loved watching her; she was strong and fierce and graceful as she moved, punching and kicking, feinting and dodging. She was poetry in motion and more powerful than anyone he knew. She knocked the vamp to the ground, swiftly plunging her stake into his heart before hopping nimbly to her feet as she tucked the stake inside her coat. She pressed herself against him and wrapped her arms around his waist.
“So…you up for some more action or should we call it a night?”
“That all depends on the sort of action you mean, luv.” Spike smirked.
“What kind of action you lookin’ for mister?” Dawn asked teasingly as she rose up to place a lingering kiss on his lips. Spike pulled her closer and deepened the kiss. After several long, passion-filled moments he pulled back with a groan,
“That’s certainly a good start.” She patted him on the backside before stepping away to ask,
“One more pass and then home.” He watched her hungrily as she bent to pick up the crossbow she had dropped earlier. “Or we could go home now.” She threw a glance over her shoulder in time to catch the look in his eye and laughed,
“You just suddenly discover you’re tired?” He put his arm around her shoulder as they headed off toward the house.
“Something like that.”
“You’re so transparent!”
“Yeah, that’s me. Like a window.” She shoved him lightly.
“Oh, be quiet.” They laughed, arms around each other as they walked home. The routine was comfortingly familiar. It had been three months since they’d fought Sorcha’s army and they had fallen back into their normal routine. They’d had to do some work on Dawn’s place before they could take up residence again, but it looked as good as new. Giles had gone back to England and Will and Tara had returned to Sunnydale, but Xander and Anya had decided to stay on for awhile. She was finally seeing a counselor and dealing with the trauma she had gone through, and they were talking about getting a place and staying for good. Spike and Dawn spent a lot of time with them although there was quite a bit of tension between the two men; Xander hadn’t figured out how to make things right with the vampire yet.
Dawn still sang at the club and Spike took over as bartender when Henry left. The manager was nice enough to work with them and schedule Spike for the nights Dawn sang so they were able to have their time off together. Spike had finally given up his apartment and moved in with Dawn at her place; they had turned the den into an amazing training room complete with Spike’s “armory” adorning the walls. Although Spike was already a talented fighter he had asked Dawn to instruct him in her style of fighting, and he was picking it up quickly.
They patrolled often and Dawn did her thing with the vampires whenever possible. All in all things seemed to have settled down and they were able to return to their normal life, or at least what passed for normal in a relationship between a vampire and a blob of energy-turned-human-turned-powerful force against evil. They were happy and things were good, but they both knew it was only temporary. Things were never good for long in their world; they’d learned that the hard way time and time again. So they cherished every moment they could and always took joy in the small things.
“What are we doing later?” Dawn lowered her magazine to throw a puzzled glance Spike’s way.
“What do you mean?” she asked.
“We’ve been patrolling every night for the past few months. Don’t you think it’s time we took a break and did something else for a change?”
“That’s what I’m asking you.” Dawn smiled.
“I could call Anya and Xander.” Spike made a face. “What? We have fun with them!”
“Look, you know I love Anya, but I don’t think I’m up for another tense round of meaningless pleasantries with Xander. It’s always ‘So…how are you? Good, you? Good. You?’” He shook his head and shuddered. “That’s not really my scene.” Dawn let out a frustrated sigh and tossed her magazine on the coffee table.
“Then why don’t you forgive him already and work things out?”
“I’m not sure I do forgive him.”
“Oh, come on! The man’s done everything but lick your boots to apologize.” She sat up straight and smirked at him. “You just enjoy watching him grovel.” She crawled to where he sat at the other end of the couch, moving to lean against him.
“I can’t deny that.” Spike smiled slightly as he slipped an arm around her and took her hand in his. “I do want to forgive him, you know. I just- every time I feel like slipping back into our old quasi-friendship, I see his face that day at the soddin’ hospital, the way he looked at me. And it all comes flooding back.” Dawn reached up to stroke his cheek.
“I know, sweetie. I’m sorry I keep pushing so hard; I just wish things could be the way they were before.” Spike pulled her tight against him; he hated to disappoint her.
“Go ahead and call them,” he said in resignation. “I’ll try to go easy on Harris.” She let out a little squeal of delight and kissed him enthusiastically. “Who knows?” he began, his expression doubtful. “Could be fun.”
“Dawn called; we’re going over there for dinner and a movie.” Xander pulled the shower curtain back, trying to wipe the soap from his eyes.
“We’re going to-”
“I got that part, An. Why are we going over there?” Anya sighed wearily.
“Cause they’re my best friends and I enjoy spending time with them.” She started to duck back out of the bathroom. “They used to be your friends, too.”
“They’re still my friends. Well, Dawn is; Spike hates me.” Anya turned a frustrated glare on him as she came back in.
“He does not! He has hurt feelings. Betrayal isn’t something you can just apologize for and make instantly better. Even if he wants to be your friend again, it’s probably still there in the back of his mind.”
“I know. I just wish there was something I could do.” Anya smiled sadly, backing out of the room.
“Lucius, darling! It’s been so long. Tell me, have you been well?”
“What do you want Sorcha? I know you’re not here to exchange pleasantries; you only ever come to me when you need something.” Sorcha pouted prettily as she placed a caressing hand against his chest.
“Honestly, Lucius, you injure me.” Lucius reached down and removed her hand in a crushing grip.
“Don’t play the coquette with me, sweetheart. You forget I know you too well.” Sorcha pulled away abruptly, dropping her flirtatious demeanor easily.
“Fine. I thought we could do this the fun way, but if you insist, I’ll stick strictly to business.” He turned to go and she followed along beside him.
“I don’t call being manipulated and duped the “fun” way.” Sorcha smiled.
“No, I guess you wouldn’t, but the other parts were.” He glanced at her before looking away dismissively.
“Not so as you’d notice.” She stopped and gripped his arm angrily.
“We were good together, you and I; don’t try to deny it. We could be good together again. I do need your help, but this time you’ve as much to gain as I.” He looked at her curiously and she continued, her voice filled with rage. “A new power has risen, a power that threatens everything our people have worked for. The younger ones, they live only for the hunt and the kill, but you and I and the others; we know better. It is time we joined forces before we all lose everything.” Lucius shook his head and walked off, leaving her staring at his back in frustration. He called back over his shoulder,
“I’ll contact the others, but you’re going to have to find somewhere else to stay.” He turned back with a smile. “And I’d hurry if I were you; it’s nearly sunrise. I’m sure you can show yourself out.” Sorcha stared after him in disbelief, but then he was gone and she realized he was serious. Dammit!