NIbblet Ch. 16bybadgirl298©
“He bit me!” Dawn said without preamble as she threw open the doors of the hotel and ran straight into Faith’s arms.
The elder Slayer calmed her daughter by patting her back and murmuring nonsensical words of comfort. When Dawn had composed herself, she attempted to have a real conversation with her. “A vamp got you?” The girl nodded. “ I’m sorry, D, I should have stayed with you and Spike but I kind of sensed it was the time for privacy and bailed. But other than the fang marks, you came back without another scratch on you. Is Spike okay?”
“No! I’m not okay! Spike did it.”
“Spike bit you?” Faith attempted to sit up but was pinned by Dawn. “Let me up, it’s time to dust!”
“No, Faith, this isn’t a killing offense.”
“Oh it isn’t? I thought he was chipped. You thought he was chipped. He lied to us , Dawn. There’s no telling what else he’s been up to.”
“ I know, I know, but I need to find out if he’s feeding off of others.” Dawn teared up once more. “Oh, God. . .what if. . .” She whispered brokenly. “What if he’s feeding again? What if I have to. . .to. . .“
”You won’t have to, D. I will.” Faith kissed the top of her head. “You shouldn’t have to do that.”
“Faith, no! I owe him so much. When Glory was after me, he was always there for me. Willing to die for me.” She bit her lip. “Or was he? Was he there because of Buffy?”
“Dawn, don’t. Don’t go down this road. Trust me, I spent enough of my life in Buffy’s shadow, I won’t let you do it too. Regardless of his feelings for her in the past, Spike loves you now.”
“God! And I’m sitting here thinking about killing him.”
Faith was dizzy trying to keep up with her mood swings.“No, you’re thinking about protecting innocent people from his bloodlust. You’re just doing your job. And no one said a vampire/Slayer romance would be easy, D.”
“I guess not.”
“Now, let’s get you cleaned up.” Faith helped Dawn to her feet. “And then I can go beat him into a bloody pulp.”
The younger girl grabbed her arm.“Promise me that you won’t hurt him. Let me handle this.”
“D, come on. I have to go and–“
”No, I’ll handle it. I’m a big girl now.”
“Oh, come on. Not even some bruising? Just let me toss him around a bit.” Faith was teasing but there was an undertone of anger in it. Spike had better stay away from her until she cooled down.
“No, no bruises, no bleeding! Well, maybe just a few bruises.” Dawn managed to smile. They were about to walk to the bathroom when Angel appeared in the doorway.
“Hi, Angel.” Dawn said too brightly. She nudged Faith and murmured. “Don’t tell him.” Faith gave her a look. “Please!” She tightened her mouth. “Faith, he’ll hurt Spike.” The other Slayer nodded reluctantly.
“ Is everything. . .I smell blood.” He walked towards them and saw Dawn holding onto her neck. “Are you alright? Did a demon get you while you were out patrolling?”
“Uh, no.” Dawn hedged, desperately not wanting Angel to get into the middle of this situation. He was kind of a stake now, ask questions later vampire. “I mean, kind of. Well, not exactly. I’m fine, Angel, there’s no need to worry.” She smiled at him before dashing upstairs to her room.
Angel turned to Faith.“Is she alright?”
“She’s okay, Angel. Hey, it’s in the job description so we’re used to it. We’re Slayers, we can take a hit and keep on hitting.”
“What really happened?”
“It’s none of your business.”
“Faith, Dawn IS my business.” She looked at him sharply. “Not like you are. She’s my Slayer. My friend.”
“She told me not to tell you.”
“Faith. . .”
“Fine. She got bit by a vampire.” It was the truth. Not the whole truth but enough of it.
Angel winced in sympathy. Vampire bites could be extremely painful. But he sensed that there was more wrong with Dawn than a simple injury. “Why was she acting so strange?” A thought struck him. “Did Spike d–“
”He’s alive, Angel.” Faith answered, her voice dipped to a whisper. “Unfortunately.”
“I heard that.”
“Damned super vampire hearing.”
“Do you blame him for her injury?”
“Let me think a minute. . .uh, YES!” Then, she remembered her promise. Faith cast a speculative look at the stairs Dawn had fled up. She told her that she couldn’t tell Angel anything, that didn’t mean that he couldn’t guess something. She wouldn’t have broken her promise to Dawn and Spike would get the ass kicking he so richly deserved. “I just want him to be more careful. You know, control himself when he’s around her.”
“Faith, I admit that I’m not the biggest Spike fan, but sometimes members of my crew have gotten bit or even gnawed on by nasty or another during battle. There’s nothing you can do in a situation like that.”
“Oh, I think he could have stopped if he wanted too. Only he had the power to stop it.”
“That isn’t fair. He was probably fighting off other vamps.”
“No, there was just the one. Only one vampire around and only one vampire bit Dawn.”
“He didn’t manage to stop it with only one assailant? Hmm. . .” Angel’s forehead creased as he tried to imagine how that had enfolded. “Maybe he was focused on the perimeter, keeping other vamps from entering the area. When I. . . trained. . . him as a vampire I always stressed that to him.”
“Uh-huh.” Faith tried to tell him with her eyes that he should read between the lines.
“What are you trying to tell me?”
“The vampire that attacked Dawn was blond and he had an accent.”
“It was one of those creepy Swedish vamps, wasn’t it? They’ve been a thorn in my side since they relocated to L.A.”
“No, the vampire was British.” She opened her eyes wide, waiting for some recognition on his part. It never came.
“Is there something in your eye?”
“No!” Faith expelled a deep breath. “God, Angel, and you were supposed to be a real ladies man when you were alive. Even Xander would have probably figured it out by now. ” He wasn’t very good at decoding “womanspeak”.
“Now you’re insulting me by saying Xander’s smarter than I am. Are you angry with me for some reason?”
“No! Yes! God, I give up.” She walked away from him, towards the basement. “I’m going to go train. I feel the need to hit something.”
“As long as it’s not me.” She gave him a dirty look before disappearing around the corner. *********
“Dawn?” Angel knocked gently on the door. “Are you in there?”
“I’m here.” Said the small voice from within.
He opened the door. She was sitting in the middle of her bed, a small bandage on her throat. She looked so young and forlorn that it melted his heart. Not that he was ever able to resist her before. “Is there anything I can do?”
Tears started to stream down her cheeks at the sympathy in his voice and the concerned expression on his handsome face. He had always been able to soothe away any hurt, even the pain of what she thought were unrequited feelings for Spike.“Give me a hug?”
“Anything for you.” He went to her bedside and gathered her up in his arms, stroking her hair and listening to her snuffle against his shirt as she cried some more. “Is it really that bad?”
“Y-y-yes, it is.” She said, sniffling in between. “B-b-but I can’t t-tell you.”
“Of course you can. You can tell me anything, princess. Anything.” He cupped her chin and made her look him in the eye.
She took a calming breath. “Not this.”
He looked guilty. “You might not need to. Faith told me everything.”
“Faith told you?! She promised!”
“Now, don’t get upset. I am a detective, Dawn. It wasn’t really her fault, she couldn’t’ help herself. She unwittingly told me what I needed to know.”
“Oh.” Dawn said nodding, eyes wide. Angel’s idea of getting information from a source was to beat the person or demon up. Cordelia and Wesley were the real detectives. “And she just told you everything?”
“Well, I had to persuade her.” Angel flashed her a wolfish smile.
“And she didn’t kick your ass?” She asked in disbelief.
“Of course not, I just. . .wait a minute. What makes you think she would win?”
“Come on, Angel, she’s a Slayer. Superior strength, you know? Not to mention the street fighting that she picked up. She’d wipe the floor with you.” Angel gave her a hurt look. “Er, I mean. . .it would be a close contest but she would win.”
“It so happens that we didn’t fight. I ‘persuaded’ her.” He said confidently.
“You gave her money?”
“No, Dawn.” He sighed in frustration. “She thinks I’m cute so she told me everything.”
“No, she didn’t. She would never do that to me, even for you.” Her forehead crinkled. “She think’s your cute?”
Angel blew on his fingernails and then buffed them against his shirt. “Yeah, she does.”
“So are you two. . .?”
“What?” He grinned. “Together? Are you jealous?”
“Of course not.” He widened his eyes. “Maybe a bit. Just like you are jealous of Spike. “
”Maybe a bit.” He conceded. “The point is that she told me everything.”
“No, she didn’t!”
“Oh yeah?” Angel sat up straighter. “She told me that she thinks Spike is responsible for that bite on your neck.”
“She did tell you!” Dawn wailed. “Faith promised me that she wouldn’t tell you.”
Angel’s eyes darkened. “Why didn’t you want to tell me?“Dawn ducked her head. “You know that I’m here for you, don’t you? He leaned over and kissed the top of her head. “I’ll always protect you.”
”I know that. That’s why I didn’t tell you. I thought you’d kill Spike.”
“Kill Spike? Isn’t that a bit harsh?”
Dawn raised up to stare at him. “You think so?”
“Good. Glad to hear it. “ Dawn continued to watch him curiously. He’d never liked Spike and had threatened to kill him on several occasions. Why the sudden change of heart?
“I mean it’s not like he could help it.” Angel said, thinking of himself in a combat situation. He was almost like a machine when he was fighting, living in the moment. He’d long ago made peace with his past and allowed himself to enjoy battling opponents. “The juices get going and all you can think about is the blood pounding through your veins.”
“I guess it is a powerful urge.”
“Absolutely.” He sighed. “It’s almost like a drug.”
“A drug?” She repeated numbly.
“Sometimes even I can’t help myself.”
“You can’t?” Dawn said, watching him closely.
“So you’ve occasionally. . .enjoyed. . . it?”
“A little.” He shrugged. “It’s what vampire’s are programmed to do.”
“But you don’t actually. . .hurt. . .people? I mean they get bloody and you just happen. . .”
“To cause it? Yeah. I only rough up the humans though, I don’t kill them. But the demons, that’s a different story. There’s nothing like moving in for the kill.”
“The kill?” Dawn gulped. She knew he was talking about demons but he had a funny look in his eye. It was too Angeluslike to be comfortable. And he was feeding off of humans? What the hell. . .?
“You don’t do it all the time though, right? The human thing. . .I mean.”
He thought about Wolfram and Hart. “More often than you think.”
“And you haven’t actually. . .killed one of those attorneys, right?”
“Technically?! What does that mean?”
“I just locked them in the cellar, is it my fault they happened to get bloody?”
Dawn was horrified. Apparently, vampires. . .even the ones you had come to love couldn’t be trusted. “I have to go now.”
“Away. Where’s Faith?”
“Great. I’ll just. . .hang out with her. ‘Kay?” Dawn stood up shakily.
“Okay.” She was almost running to the door. “ You alright?”
“Fine. Really. Fine. ” She raced out the door.
Angel rolled his eyes. “Women.”
Spike sat atop a dumpster smoking a cigarette and cursing under his breath. “You are such an idiot.” He slapped his own forehead. “Bitin’ the girl like that. What were you thinking?” Then kicked at the plastic he sat on savagely. “Thinking with your fangs never gets you what you want. With my bloody luck she’s coming back with the older Slayer and Peaches so the lot of ‘em can stake me.”
Spike looked around but there was no one around.
“Listen up, lackbrain, I’m not some human who’ll fall for that cat demon nonsense.” There were demons who masqueraded as cats so they could gain entrance to their victims’ houses. They often appeared on the human’s doorstep as a poor starving feline begging for food.
“Meow.” A white cloud jumped onto the top of the dumpster from the stack of boxes beside it.
Spike eyed it warily but then sniffed. “Ugh!” He fanned his face. “No demon smell but I do smell rotten fruit.”
“Meow.” The kitten that sat at his knee was white though its fur was scraggly and it was undernourished. It watched him with big blue eyes.
“You think it stinks too?”
“Is that all you can say?” Despite himself he smiled as the creature rubbed its snowy cheek against his pant leg. It started to purr and he let out a laugh. “Are you saying that you like me?” The kitten closed its eyes in answer. It trusted him. “What am going to do with you?” Then, he grinned. “You may be just the thing, kitty.” Spike remembered that Dawn loved animals but her mother wouldn’t’ let her keep one. It always helped to have a present when you see a girl you’ve wronged. He used to give Drusilla rats wrapped in ribbons because she liked to snack on them but somehow he doubted that Dawn would enjoy them. He scooped up the kitten.“Let’s go see a girl.”