Disclaimer & Author's Note: The usual.

Blue Horizons
Chapter Twenty-Two

“…So, I look up,” Giles finished with a chuckle, “to see William hanging upside down from the tree-branch, pants caught on a limb about ten feet further up, and this huge, orange cat in his arms hissing like crazy.”

Elizabeth broke out into hysterical laughter and gave Spike ‘I will never ever be able to respect you again’ look.

Spike whimpered and buried his head further in his hands. “Dad…” he protested meekly, “’m never gonna get laid again thanks to you!”

“Oh, I don’t know,” Elizabeth teased, ruffling his hair until it stuck up in unruly spikes. “I don’t suppose there’s any chance you still have those Captain Planet boxers…?”

He gave her a murderous scowl before flashing it in his father’s direction as well. “I hate you all,” he announced, sulking in his seat.

Joyce gave him a sympathetic smile. “At least Rupert’s already covered the most embarrassing stories,” she soothed him.

“And it’s about time I got them, too,” Elizabeth decided. “I want to know all about all the geeky, nerdy, embarrassing, silly—Eek!”

The squeal was in response to Spike’s tackling her onto the back seat and beginning to tickle her mercilessly.

“Take it back,” he demanded.

“Eee…no!” Elizabeth managed to get out between hysterics as she vainly batted at Spike’s hands. Apparently, those hands’ skills weren’t limited to just the bedroom. He had unerringly found all the spots where she was the most ticklish within seconds.

“Say that ‘m the sexiest, most handsome, badass bloke in the world,” he ordered.

“Captain Planet…” she giggled out.

Giles looked over his shoulder at the bleached pair wrestling about on the back seat. “Are you kids wearing your seatbelts?” he felt obliged to ask.

“Uh…yeah,” Spike lied horribly, pausing in his assault on Elizabeth for a second.

It was enough for her to catch hold of his wrists and halt the tickle torture…for the time being, anyway.

“If I decided to crash this car into that tree for the insurance money, you could be dead by now,” Joyce teased, a glint of humor in her eyes.

“What between here an’ the garage?” Spike countered as Joyce pulled into the driveway.

Elizabeth just gave his parents an apologetic smile. Seatbelts had definitely been fastened at some point in time, but certain of their more playful activities had quickly removed them.

Giles shrugged. “Obligatory parental thing,” he said apologetically, hopping out of the car as Joyce pulled up.

“Speaking of dangerous vehicular activities…” Joyce scowled at her husband as she finally slowed the car to a complete stop.

Giles flashed her a rakish grin. “Oh, it doesn’t count when I do it,” he insisted. “After all, my parents aren’t here to chide me.”

Joyce let out a long-suffering sigh and gave Elizabeth a conspiratorial smile. “Men,” she lamented.

Elizabeth nodded and continued to fight to keep Spike’s tickling fingers away from her side. “Can’t live with ‘em, don’t have comfy bed-warmers without ‘em,” she teased.

Spike growled at that, licking his lips in anticipation. “Want me to warm your bed, then, luv?” he whispered right into her ear. “’Cause I can warm so much more than that…”

Elizabeth’s cheeks flushed slightly, eager for him to demonstrate.

Wrapped around each other in anticipation of the night to come, they didn’t notice the visitors on the Giles’ doorstep until long after the elder pair had.

“Willow? Tara?” Joyce frowned as she recognized two of the three women huddled up on her front porch, all hunkering down into their parkas against the cold winter wind.

“Hey, Joyce.” Willow gave her a little finger wave. “In retrospect, it’s pretty obvious we should have called first…”

Spike frowned when he realized what was going on. “Has somethin’ happened?” he asked, suddenly alarmed. “Is everyone all right?”

“Everything’s fine,” Tara assured him quickly. “Well, I mean…I guess…” She cast a confused look at the third of their little trio.

And Elizabeth noticed her for the first time as well. For a moment she just stood there and gaped, looking not unlike several of the more unusual species of flounder while Giles, Joyce, and Spike just watched on, confused.

“Hi,” Dawn said with a falsely innocent smile. “Long time, no see, huh?”

Elizabeth’s mind finally managed to process that, yes, the little monster was actually there, talking to her. “Dawnie?!” she finally exclaimed in a mixture of surprise and outrage. “What the hell are you doing here?!”

Dawn flinched at her sister’s tone and shivered in the cold night air.

Joyce picked up on the shiver because she was feeling it as well. “Why don’t we have this conversation inside?” she suggested reasonably, finally unlocking the door that had stymied Willow and Tara on their mission to reunite the obviously dysfunctional Summers family.

Willow and Tara gave her half-apologetic, half-grateful looks as they ran in out of the cold. Dawn walked in confidently after them, followed by a very confused Giles.

Joyce turned to her only child and his girlfriend, who were whispering in distressed tones to each other. “Coming inside?” she inquired.

“Just a second,” Elizabeth assured her, biting her lip at the demanding look Spike was giving her.

“I’ll leave the door unlocked,” Joyce agreed, closing it behind her.

“What the bloody ‘ell is going on here?” Spike exclaimed the instant they were alone. “Who’s the girl?”

“That,” Elizabeth sighed wearily, “is my sister.”

Spike blinked once. Twice. “You have a sister?!” he finally said in complete and utter shock. “Why ‘aven’t I heard about this before? An’ why is she here?”

Elizabeth sighed. “We’ll talk later,” she promised him. “And, as for why she’s here… That’s what I mean to find out right now.”

Spike nodded at that, holding the door open for her as they went inside…

* * *

Dawn bit her lip and fidgeted in her chair. She had known before that this wasn’t the best thought out idea she’d ever had, but she hadn’t expected Buffy to freak like this. She couldn’t quite decide whether her older sister had looked like she was thinking about becoming an axe-murderer or whether she’d just seen a ghost. Either way, this looked very bad.

“Your name was…Dawnie?” Joyce eyed the teenager curiously.

Dawn,” she corrected with a roll of her eyes, crossing her arms over her chest.

Joyce took in the teen’s stubborn posture knowingly. Any mother who had actually managed to raise a child past eighteen without going stir crazy knew it only too well. God, she still had no idea how she had survived the horror that was an adolescent William…

“Nice to meet you, Dawn,” Joyce persisted in being polite despite the girl’s sullen attitude. “My name is Joyce. My husband, Rupert.” She gestured to where Giles was, inevitably, cleaning his glasses. It was a nervous habit he’d had since before she’d known him.

Dawn merely nodded.

“So,” Joyce kept up her efforts to break the uncomfortable quiet of the kitchen, “does anyone want hot chocolate?”

“Yes, thank you,” Tara said with a shy smile.

God bless that girl, Joyce sighed with relief.

“Oh, me too,” Willow agreed.

Joyce set about pulling out the pan. “Dawn?” she inquired.

“Yeah, sure,” Dawn shrugged.

Joyce knew that look only too well. It was the ultra-sullen ‘uh-oh, busted’ look. With a weary shake of her head, she turned on the oven.

“Dawn is Elizabeth’s sister,” Willow provided helpfully. “Right?”

Dawn nodded nervously.

“Yes, very good,” Giles turned several degrees more British in this rather bizarre situation. He’d always found it an effective coping mechanism. “And where is your sister exactly?” he wondered.

“She’s talking to Will,” Joyce answered just as the door opened.

Dawn gulped as her sister strode in, ‘I really am going to murder you this time’ written all across her face. Dawn attempted an apologetic smile, watched Elizabeth move around to the counter and lean back against it, caught the movement of the last member of their little impromptu party and…

The world stopped.

Dawn’s eyes widened as she took in the black-clad figure for the first time. Spiky white hair, skin tight black jeans and tee, long leather jacket, dangerous-looking scar, deadly cheekbones, piercing blue eyes… Oh god, she was drowning…

“Dawnie!” Elizabeth repeated angrily, snapping Dawn out of her instant-crush-induced gaze.

“Huh?” Dawn blinked and looked at her.

“I asked,” Elizabeth repeated patiently, “what on earth you’re doing here.”

“Oh, that.” Dawn tore her eyes away from Gorgeous Bad Boy to look at her sister. “Well, I didn’t want to go with mom to Mexico, so I figured…hey, we could hang out instead.” She gave Elizabeth a calm smile, like dropping in at her front door like this was the most normal thing in the world.

“You…” Elizabeth sputtered and gesticulated at the complete absurdity of this situation. “Do mom and dad even know where you are?” she finally demanded.

Dawn winced. “Not so much,” she admitted before sighing. “They think I’m on a flight to Mexico City right now, but I switched my ticket. I’m kinda running away.”

“Oh dear,” Joyce said, alarmed at the thought of a parent not being able to locate their child, “you have to call your parents…”

“But…” Dawn protested.

Elizabeth sighed. “Dawnie,” she said sternly, “you need to call dad and mom.”

Dawn’s lower lip jutted out as she pouted. “They’ll make me go down to Mexico,” she said sullenly.

Good,” Elizabeth exclaimed in exasperation. “That’s where you’re supposed to be!”

“But I don’t wanna go!” Dawn did her best petulant child impression.

Elizabeth’s fists clenched in anger. God, this girl was easily the most stubborn, annoying…

“It’s late,” Joyce announced, breaking up the argument. “Dawn, call your parents and tell them that you’re spending the night here. We’ll sort everything else out in the morning.”

Several surprised looks turned in Joyce’s direction at that, followed by nods of agreement. This was just too much to absorb properly at the moment.

“If you won’t be needing us anymore then…?” Willow began hesitantly.

“You two go home,” Joyce favored Willow and Tara with a smile.

“Thanks for bringing Dawnie over,” Elizabeth agreed wearily.

“No prob,” Willow nodded, getting up and heading for the door.

“Good night.” Tara gave everyone a little wave as she followed her girlfriend.

“Yeah, good night,” Willow agreed.

“Good night.”

Everyone sat around uncomfortably in the kitchen for a minute after the couple left.

“Well, let’s get on it then,” Giles decided. “Dawn, you can use the phone in the study.”

“I’ll go with her,” Elizabeth spoke up immediately, “make sure she actually calls…”

Dawn rolled her eyes at that.

Elizabeth gripped her arm as she walked past, practically dragging her little sister along behind her.

The Giles family just sat and blinked after them.

“Well, that was certainly…unexpected.” Giles had apparently decided that his wire-frames needed yet another polishing and set to it. “It was unexpected, wasn’t it?” he looked up at his son sharply.

Spike let out a grunt of assent. “Never even heard of the sister ‘til now,” he confessed.

Joyce sighed. “This may take a while to straighten out,” she said thoughtfully. “Will you tell Elizabeth that we’re willing to let Dawn stay here until she can find a way to work things out?”

Spike gave her a grateful nod. “Thanks, Mum,” he agreed. “And ‘m sorry ‘bout…”

“I’m sure it had nothing to do with you,” Giles quickly assured him.

“No kiddin’…” Spike agreed.

* * *

“Let me go!” Dawn screeched, attempting to jerk her arm away from Elizabeth’s solid grip.

“So you can what?” Elizabeth hissed angrily. “Run away again?”

“Where to?” Dawn sulked, watching Elizabeth slam the study door behind her. “The fact that I came here should tell you absolutely desperate I was.”

Elizabeth fixed her with a no-nonsense gaze. “Why did you run away?” she demanded.

Dawn shifted uncomfortably and looked anywhere but at Elizabeth.

“Dawnie…” she threatened.

“Don’t call me that!” she huffed. “My name is Dawn! I’m not a kid anymore!”

“Well, you’re sure acting like one,” Elizabeth retorted. “Now, what happened?”

Dawn sighed. “Your dad,” she gave Elizabeth a venomous look at that, “is divorcing my mom.”

Elizabeth blinked in surprise – not surprise that it was happening, but surprise that she hadn’t known. Although, now that she thought about it, her father hadn’t been that great about giving advanced warning in the past… “When?” she asked, her voice calmer, more sympathetic now.

“They’ve been fighting for a while,” Dawn shrugged. “Since before you left. Not that you were paying any attention…”

“Oh, Dawnie,” Elizabeth sighed, “I’m sorry…” She could still remember the break-up between her dad and her own mom vividly.

“Yeah, well…” Dawn studied her boots intently.

Elizabeth ran a weary hand through her hair. “So, your mom’s in Mexico right now, right?” she asked.

“Yeah,” Dawn agreed, picking at her shiny nail-polish, “but I don’t wanna see her.”

“Dawn, you can’t just hide out here!” Elizabeth insisted.

“Why not?” Dawn argued.

“For one,” Elizabeth pointed out, “this isn’t my house. I can’t just invite anyone in. I mean, where were you planning on staying exactly?”

“With you, in Tara’s dorm,” Dawn countered. “Only you seem to not be staying where you told dad you were…” A hint of a mischievous smile played across her features.

Elizabeth’s eyes widened in response. “You are not about to blackmail me, young lady,” she insisted sternly. “You are in so much more trouble than me. Because at least I’m an adult and get to make my own decisions about these things!”

Dawn snorted derisively. “Tell that to dad,” she countered.

Elizabeth shot her a dirty look. “We are not talking about this,” she stated. “This is about you, not me. And you’re going to call your mom right now and tell her where you are. She’s probably worried sick.”

“She prob’ly doesn’t even care,” Dawn grumbled.

“She’s your mom,” Elizabeth insisted, picking up the phone and dialing. “She cares.”

“Did yours?” Dawn retorted spitefully.

Elizabeth’s eyes narrowed in anger for a second before a voice picked up on the other end. “Hi, this is Elizabeth,” she said in a tight voice into the receiver.

A pause and some squawking from the phone.

“Yes, I know.” Elizabeth cast an annoyed glance Dawn’s way. “In fact, I’ve got her right here with me.”

Excited exclamations from the other side.

“Hang on,” Elizabeth agreed before handing the receiver to Dawn. “You are in so much trouble,” she hissed before stepping out into the hallway to leave her sister to her phone call.


Elizabeth looked up from where she’d automatically leaned against the wall to see Spike’s concerned face. She managed to flash him a weak smile. “Hey yourself,” she agreed.

He moved over to her, mirroring her position. “How’s the li’l one?” he asked, inclining his head towards the closed study door.

“Getting chewed out on the phone.” Elizabeth rested her head on his shoulder, taking comfort from his warmth.

He slipped an arm around her in response, holding her close. “You figured out what’s happenin’ yet?” he inquired.

She nodded wearily. “Where’re your parents?” she asked.

“Gone to bed,” Spike answered. “Mum says your sis can stay here as long as she needs to.”

Elizabeth managed a wry smile at that. “Your mom is the nicest person alive,” she commented, her nose still buried in the crook of his neck. “Sometimes I envy you.”

“Seduce me right an’ proper and she could be your mum, too,” Spike teased lightly.

Elizabeth managed a chuckle at that as well. “ ‘Right and proper’?” she repeated. “That doesn’t sound like anywhere near as fun as what I’ve been doing.” She rose on her tiptoes and brushed a gentle kiss across his forehead. “Thanks for being so reasonable about all of this. I know it’s kind of thrown a monkey wrench in our plans for the moment.” She gave him another kiss. “Thanks…”

He seemed deeply touched by the gesture, although Elizabeth couldn’t even begin to fathom why. The humor returned to his eyes before he spoke, though. “Guess this kinda botches up the whole perfect ‘meet the dad’ evenin’, huh?” he teased lightly.

Elizabeth giggled slightly. “Yeah, that whole ‘oops, here’s my whole dysfunctional family come to visit, too’ bit kinda soured things…”

He chuckled that deep, rumbling chuckle that always sent tingles right down to the tips of her toes. “How long’s the Bit stayin’?” he inquired.

Elizabeth sighed. “Don’t know. Haven’t worked it out yet.” She worried her lip between her teeth a couple of times. “I get why she did it, though. I feel…sorry for her…” She looked up at him. “I don’t know what to do.”

“It’ll all work itself out,” he assured her. “Any word on the reasonin’ behind the whole Huck Finn act?”

“Divorce,” Elizabeth winced.

Spike didn’t say anything to that. Elizabeth had mentioned her own parents’ divorce only a couple of times, and he knew it was a topic that still bothered her, long after her mother’s death. He figured now really wasn’t the time to bring those issues up, what with everything else that was happening.

“So, how come I never heard ‘f this sister?” he shifted to what he hoped would be a more neutral subject.

Elizabeth slipped from his loose embrace then, sliding down the wall until she sat on the floor and gesturing for him to do so as well. Once he was seated beside her, their thighs blushing lightly in a comforting manner, she began.

“She’s actually my half sister,” she clarified. “Back when my mom and dad were still together…” She blinked back a tear at her mother’s memory. “Well, my dad’s always had this thing for his secretaries and…”

“Dawn’s mum was one of ‘em?” Spike guessed, rolling an unlit cigarette between his fingertips.

Elizabeth nodded. “I didn’t find out about any of this until years later, of course,” she added. “In fact, I didn’t even know Dawn existed until dad and my step-mom got back together two years ago. I didn’t even know they were dating until after the wedding, and my dad pretty much left it up to Dawn’s mom to explain why I suddenly had a fourteen-year-old half-sister completely out of the blue.”

Spike frowned. “That must’ve been…rough.” He winced at the lameness of that statement but couldn’t come up with anything better.

Elizabeth gave him a small grateful smile for the effort. “That about covers it,” she agreed. “I got to find out that my dad was cheating on my mom and, at the same time, Dawn got to find out that she’d been a dirty little secret to be kept from the ‘legitimate’ daughter. Needless to say, it wasn’t pretty.”

“But she came to you for ‘elp,” Spike commented. “Can’t be so bad between the two of you, then.”

Elizabeth rolled her eyes. “Trust me when I say that I was an absolute last resort. The only thing Dawn and I have ever really agreed about is how pissed we are at dad.”

“’ve known families held together with less,” Spike only half-joked.

She reached over to intertwine her fingers with his at that. It was strange. She’d never had a happy home life before, despite her parents’ wealth and affluence. But, ever since she’d come to college… She was somewhat startled to realize that she thought of Westing House as her home now and also… Spike’s family was so comfortable, so inviting. She felt this deep desire within her to become a part of it, a part of him, of his life…

“I don’t know what I’d do without you,” she whispered softly, her fingers curling into the soft hairs at the back of his neck as she drew him in for a sweet kiss.

“Oh, gross!” Dawn exclaimed as she peered out the door to the study, phone in hand.

Inside, she was seething. How did her peppy cheerleader sister get this gorgeous guy? Buffy was supposed to go after the dull, brainless jocks, leaving the cool, interesting guys for girls like Dawn. But, oh no, Buffy had to snatch up all the sexy rebels, too, like…Cute Bad Boy… Dawn absentmindedly released that it was somewhat ridiculous to be jealous of her sister over a guy whose name she hadn’t even picked up yet.

“She wants to talk to me?” Elizabeth inquired, extricating herself from Spike’s limbs and reaching for the phone.

Dawn handed it to her. “It’s all yours,” she said a bit snidely, watching Cute Bad Boy get to his feet with interest. Damn, he even moved in a sexy way…

Elizabeth gave Spike a parting smile before ducking back into the study.

Spike’s gaze flickered to the younger Summers curiously. “You’re Dawn, huh?” he commented. He debated lighting up the cigarette he’d been persistently toying with but decided he didn’t want to risk his father’s wrath if he discovered that he’d been smoking outside his own room.

Dawn affected a casual pose. “Yeah,” she agreed with a flip of her hair, trying for cool and aloof. “And you are…?”


Sexy, bad name, check. Dreamy accent, double check.

“Cool,” Dawn nodded, leaning back against the wall. “So, you go to school with Buffy or what?”

Spike was thrown by the use of his girlfriend’s former nickname for a second but quickly figured it out. “Yeah,” he agreed.

“And you live here?” Dawn was impressed with herself for being so cool in this situation. Despite his sexy bad boy looks, though, Spike wasn’t all that difficult to talk to.

“That was my mum and dad,” he agreed, gesturing back to the kitchen. “So, you really ditched the parents?”

“Not the first time,” she said proudly.

“Good for you,” he agreed with a sly smirk. “Show that dad ‘f yours who’s boss.” He figured a mutual dislike of Hank Summers was also something he and Dawn would share in common.

Dawn practically beamed in response. “He sucks big-time,” she agreed, rolling her eyes and snapping her gum.

Pink bubble-gum, Spike noted. Sweet and innocent and childlike, much like the image Dawn was obviously desperately trying to outgrow. He could sympathize with her wanting to grow up fast, but he still wished it didn’t have to be because of these circumstances.

“That’s what ‘ve gathered,” he agreed, pushing the cigarette behind his ear. “So, runnin’ away’s the best solution?”

Dawn shrugged. “It works.”


She gave him a small smile. Hey, at least he wasn’t looking down at her with that ‘poor little kid’ look she got so often. “It’ll be cool,” she insisted.

“Right,” he agreed with a shrug. He fingered the cigarette behind his ear longingly.

“I don’t mind if you smoke,” Dawn noticed the motion. “I’m used to it, actually.”

He gave her a disapproving look. “You smoke?”

She wrinkled her nose slightly. “No, but most of my friends do.”

“Takes spunk not to follow the herd,” he said approvingly before returning the cigarette to the pack and slipping it into his duster pocket.

“I don’t mind,” Dawn repeated.

“Yeah, but my dad does,” Spike countered with a grimace.

Dawn studied the bleach and leather. “You don’t seem like the type that would listen to your dad,” she pointed out.

“No reason not to,” he retorted. “Doesn’t order me around. Just expects a bit ‘f common courtesy.”

Dawn shrugged. “Whatever,” she agreed, nervously glancing back at the door. “What do suppose they’re talking about for so long in there?” she asked worriedly.

“Prob’ly just sortin’ things out,” Spike shrugged. “What’s gonna happen tomorrow an’ all.”

The worried look in Dawn’s eyes increased. “Don’t worry ‘bout it, Li’l Bit,” he reassured her. “Things’ll work out right.”

Dawn felt her cheeks flushing slightly at the nickname. Usually she didn’t go in for that sort of thing, but it sounded so sweet and sexy coming from his lips. She decided she liked it. Hell, she would probably like anything he called her…

Elizabeth reemerged from the study then. “Disaster on hold,” she announced, “for the moment.”

“So I’m staying here, then?” Dawn asked excitedly.

“For tonight,” Elizabeth insisted. “We’ll see what happens after that tomorrow.”

“Thanks, Buffy!” Dawn practically squealed, throwing her arms around her sister and looking every bit the girl she still half was for a moment.

“You can thank me by not calling me ‘Buffy’,” Elizabeth retorted.

“Only if you don’t call me ‘Dawnie’,” Dawn insisted.

Elizabeth managed a wry smile at that. “Deal,” she agreed.

* * *

It was well after midnight by the time Elizabeth and Spike finally got Dawn settled into the guestroom and were able to return to bed themselves.

Elizabeth let out a huge yawn as she slipped under the covers and gave Spike an apologetic smile. He merely shrugged before spooning up behind her. It had kind of been a foregone conclusion that the romantic mood of the evening was broken ever since Dawn’s first appearance.

Elizabeth sighed and snuggled into his embrace, shutting her weary eyelids. “Grown-up stuff sucks,” she complained softly.

“’specially when it has such poor timin’,” Spike teased against her hair.

She murmured in response, already half asleep from the worries that had just been put upon her shoulders.

Spike held her for a long time, contemplating her sleeping form tenderly, before the steady rhythm of her sleeping breaths lulled him into sleep as well…

Hey, I couldn't just go on forever with nothing but Spuffy lovin', could I? (Well, OK, yes, I could. But plot is good, too. Right? Right?! ^_^) Review for more...

On To Chapter 23