Title: The End Of The Beginning
Title: Falling feels like flying
Pairing: Xander/Spike (eventually)
Overall Rating: NC17
Chapter Rating: PG13
Disclaimer: Not mine, never will be. Joss you lucky bastard.
AN: If you like the concept or have any ideas for future chapters give me a shout, I'm more than welcoming of con crit.
Xander threw his keys into the bowl just inside the door, stopping to listen to the faint sound of music floating down the stairs. Looking at the clock he made a face, not bothering to toe off his shoes before heading into the kitchen, knowing he had to make dinner for them both. He heard the thump of feet on the stairs before they stopped, just at the entryway to the kitchen. He knew what he’d see without looking, stern face, hands on tilted hips, slight pout that never quite seemed to go away.
“What’re you doing home so late?” A familiar voice demanded.
“Isn’t that suppose to be my question?” He joked, turning to flick an easy smile over his shoulder.
“I’m serious, you shouldn’t work so late, I could get up to all kinds of trouble while you’re away doing the working thing.” The voice was slightly less stern, a smile creeping in around the edges.
“Ah c’mon Dawnie, I get enough mothering whenever Willow calls, don’t need you to pick up the completely non-existent slack.” The smiling man said.
Rolling her eyes the teenager bumped her hip into his, moving him over just enough that she could take over chopping the onion - after making an obligatory face at the necessary evil.
Xander stood back from himself, as he did so often these days and truly looked at his life, at the strange and painful series of events that had left him as Dawn’s guardian. None of them had known what they were going to do after Buffy… fell but it hadn’t taken long for the exodus to begin. First Giles had left with a letter left in his apartment as a goodbye. The witches had been slower in leaving; firmly staying put until Dawn was somewhere stable. The fractured Scooby gang had decided the best approach was to speak to Dawn as all teenagers wanted to be spoken to; like an adult.
As she had so often done, she surprised them all, informing them that they would have to drag her kicking and screaming if they wanted her to leave Sunnydale. Then, with that same determination, telling them that she didn’t want to live with her father, even if he moved into their strange town.
It had been Xander’s idea; he’d just received a promotion and was more than willing to move into a bigger apartment. All it had taken was a trip to visit Mr Summers, some very big words on how he was the best choice for Dawn’s guardian (after some coaching with Willow), a little (ok, a lot of) extra help from a rather powerful persuasion charm, and soon enough Mr Summers was signing on the dotted line.
When the teenager had moved in she had very carefully not mentioned the lack of Anya. Xander had been forced to be far older than he felt, explaining to the ex-vengance demon that while he loved her, he wasn’t willing to compromise on being Dawn’s guardian and it didn’t seem like she had been willing to compromise on leaving if he chose to take in the teenager. They had parted with too much unsaid but knowing that it was irrevocably the end.
Looking at the young woman in his kitchen he sighed softly and recognised that while it hurt - he still loved Anya even now - he wouldn’t trade what he had for anything. Dawn was his light at the end of the tunnel that seemed to be depressingly long now that he was the last original Scooby left in Sunnydale.
Occasionally Dawn would give him an update on Spike - the vampire had gone into deep mourning after… it happened, and simply refused to talk to anyone but the teenager. But talk to the teenager he did - doting on her hand and foot without being overly generous. He refused to do her homework for her, or write her a note so she could take a week off school “just because”. However, should she mention an interest in music, she would be seen carrying a guitar home the next day, or a case of paints the time she had decided to try painting.
Spike was the only person apart from himself that had stayed in Sunnydale, though he’d probably only seen the blonde once or twice since everything changed. The vampire kept to himself, having an apartment in a quiet part of town that was safe for Dawn to spend the night in if she chose to. Reportedly he even held a job now, managing a demon bar just outside of town. Xander didn’t ask for details, only listening happily when Dawn felt the need to babble to him about the new things in her life, as he did with anything she chose to tell him. Knowing that the last thing any teenage girl wanted was to the interrogated, he always let her come to him with news on her own time, but let her know that he was more than happy to listen when she decided to talk. It led to more communication than he’d known in most parent/child relationships.
Blinking the brunette man realised he’d been asked a question, and completely missed his cue, if the look on the teenager’s face was anything to go by. Giving her an apologetic look he smiled his goofy grin when she rolled her eyes good-naturedly.
“I said, are you going out tonight?” He could tell she was aiming for cool and indifferent, but the smallest hint of worry tinged her question.
Ever since he had become the last original Scooby he had felt obligated to do what small amount he could for the vulnerable population of Sunnydale. While he never had any intentions of taking on anything twice his size or distinctly venomous, he did try to keep the fledgling vampire population down as much as he could, doing a quick sweep of town each day after dinner.
Ruffling her hair he gave a small smile, acknowledging her worry, “Only for an hour max, then it’s movie marathon time. We still haven’t watched that awful movie Willow sent you the other week.”
“Xander, Ten Things I Hate About You is a classic.” She said with the absolute authority only teenagers had ever been able to manage.
“I think I’ll take “ten ways to stake a vampire” instead.” He grinned, unrepentant, before taking the onions she’d chopped and adding them to the pan.
Dinner only took another fifteen minutes to prepare, the pair of brunettes curling up on the couch to watch one of Dawn’s preferred shows while they ate. Licking his lips theatrically when he finished Xander gathered their plates and put them in the sink, coming back to sit with the teen for a while before he went out.
When he finally stood to collect his coat he saw the worry flash in her eyes. Kneeling next to where she sat on the couch, defiantly refusing to give him his ritual hug, he waited until she met his eyes and gave her a real smile.
“I love you Dawnie, you know that, right?” He asked softly.
She nodded silently, holding her arms out so he could wrap her in his larger ones and whispering into his neck like she did every night; “Don’t fall.”
Don’t fall… like she did.
The words always made his heart ache but he nodded solemnly as he did every time she gave the warning and kissed her forehead before making his way out into the night.