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Title: There and Back Again

Author: Margie

Rating: R

Pairing: B/S

Summary: Sequel to my fic It Doesn't Matter. Spike is back from Africa, Buffy is dealing, things happen.

Disclaimer: Own nothing. Joss owns all.

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Chapter 1 -

It had been three weeks since his return. He had seen her four times in total. Every time he saw her he wanted to shout out to her what had happened. Wanted to share his entire being with her. But he held back, still unsure of his role in her life. If he even had a role in her life anymore.

 

She had asked him to stay. Those whispered words still echoed in his mind. Had given him hope. But since then they hadnít gone beyond more than a hello and a how are you. He knew he had to give her time. Knew that forgiving him was still in future tense for her.

 

How could he earn back her trust? Did he even ever have it? She had never trusted him completely. He knew that. He paced back and forth in his crypt. The tellyís sound muted as he wrestled with the thoughts in his head.

 

He hadnít seen anyone else from the gang either. Except Bit of course. She had come crashing through his door the second night he was back. He remembered whipping his head around thinking it was Buffy and then seeing her standing there instead. The anger evident in her face.

 

"What are you doing back?" She had demanded. Her fists held angrily against her hips.

 

" ĎEllo Bit"

 

"Donít call me that." She entered the crypt warily. She hadnít been back since that night with Clem. Everything looked the same. As if Spike had never left. The same candles, the same ratty lounger, the same television. For some reason it made her angrier. As if he were trying to say that nothing was different that he hadnít tried to attack her sister and then disappeared for four months. The muscles in her jaw tightened.

 

"Well. Do you have anything to say?" She spat at him through clenched teeth.

 

"Itís complicated Bit." His fingers wove through his hair. "I canít ask you to forgive me. I havenít asked Buffy to forgive me. But I came to explain to her. To let her know that I do love her. That I was out of my mind that night. And that I left to try to make things right."

 

"Make things right? You canít turn back time Spike!" Her eyes were flashing in anger. And her fists had moved from her hips to hang stiffly by her side.

 

He winced at her angry words. Knowing that she was right. Wondering how he had believed that he could win Buffyís trust back. "I know Bit Ė "

 

"Donít call me that!"

 

"Dawn. I know. I canít explain right now. I need to tell your sis first. But Iíve changed. I wonít ever hurt her or you ever again. I promise."

 

"Iíve heard your promises before Spike. And I believed them." She was crying now. Not bothering to wipe away the tears. Her body began to shake. She saw Spike take a step towards her, as if to comfort. But she held up her hand to stop him. "You promised you wouldnít hurt us. And you did. You promised you wouldnít leave and you did. And you promised to protect me. And then you left when I needed you most."

 

Despite her warding hand, Spike continued to step closer. The pain in his chest was almost unbearable. She had crumpled to the ground. When he finally reached her side, he pulled her into his lap and held her as she shook.

 

"Shhh luv. Iím sorry. I know Sínot enough, but I am. I never meant to hurt you. Iíll never leave again. Unless you or your sis ask me to. Shhh." He gently rubbed her back and held her close. Feeling the pain tear through him at what he had done.

 

She sniffled once or twice. And her body continued its quaking, but her sobs had subsided a bit. When she was able to speak her words were soft and whispered. "I found her. I found the body."

 

Spike stilled. "What luv? What body?" He could almost feel his heart beat pick up a pace.

 

"Tara. After WarrenÖNobody was home. I was lookingÖAnd I found her."

 

He was stunned. At first he thought he hadnít heard right. But he realized that in the weeks since his return he had not seen either of the witches, patrolling or otherwise. "Willow? What about Willow?"

 

"What about her!" Her voice was shrill as she spoke. She wiped at her eyes once more and in a softer voice said simply, "she tried to kill me."

 

Spike couldnít form words. He felt the breath he didnít need flee his body. He felt as if he were choking. Choking on the pain. Choking on the anger. Choking on the self hatred. What had he done? Why had he left? Glinda was dead. Red? Red tried to kill Dawn? Why?

 

"Why?" His mouth echoed the thought running through his head. "Why would she?"

 

Dawn was staring at the ground now. Not looking at him. Her voice sounded old and far away. As if she had spent all the emotion she could. "After Tara. She wentÖshe went insane. She killed Warren. She went after Jonathan and the other one. But Buffy tried to protect them. Tried to stop her from going any further. She tried to kill me. She fought Buffy. Almost killed Giles and Anya. Then she tried to destroy the world." The story spilled out as if she had memorized it. The words not really registering anymore. Still staring at the ground she didnít see the blank expression on Spikeís face. The expression that he had schooled himself to reveal when he didnít know what truths to believe.

 

"Xander stopped her. Xander saved the world."

 

"Dawn. Luv. Iím so sorry. I didnít know."

 

"Did Buffy tell you that Warren shot her too? She almost died." Dawnís eyes spilled over again as she thought of how close she had come to losing Buffy. She didnít think she could take anymore losses. "Willow saved her." That was the one thing that kept Dawn from completely hating her. From finding Anya and wishing that Willow had never been born. She had spared Dawn the pain of losing yet another Summers.

 

Spike felt his heart drop down to his stomach. Saw a flash of golden hair as her head hit the concrete debris. Felt the pain of losing her all over again. Tears fell as he realized how close he had come to living that reality once again.

 

He shuddered as the sobs fell. Now both he and Dawn were wrapped around one another. Giving comfort. Grieving. Loving. He had nearly lost both his girls. He hung on to Dawn. Not wanting to picture such a loss. Not wanting to let her go.

 

After what seemed like hours they pulled apart. Both sets of eyes red and puffy. Dawn was quiet now. All the anger having left her during their cathartic embrace. She finally looked at him. Really saw his face, his eyes for the first time since entering the crypt.

 

She saw love, grief, and anger. She was too tired to fight. Too tired to forgive. "I donít trust you. Not yet. I donít know if I ever can." She sighed and stood. "But if youíre not going to stay. Then you need to leave. Today." She walked back to the open door and stood in the frame. She halted once to say, "If you ever hurt her again, Iíll stake you myself." Then she was gone.

 

He smirked at the memory of her. Her fire, her spirit. Just like her big sis. His girls. His smirk disappeared as he contemplated once more what he could do to win them back. To win their trust, their love.

 

Dusk had fallen. He stepped out the door and breathed in the night. As he walked into the darkness he thought, maybe it was time to see the rest of the scoobies.

 

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