Dawn was on her way home from school one late September day. As she passed the cemetery gates she hesitated. The sun was almost setting and Sunnydale would soon be less than safe. Breaking into a run, she headed for Spike's crypt, reaching it just as the sun sank below the horizon.
Spike was there, of course, looking slightly disheveled as though he'd not long been up. "Hello, Little Bit," he said. "To what do I owe the pleasure? Being chased by a big nasty demon were we? Big Sis in trouble and needs rescuing?"
This last was said hopefully but Dawn ignored sub text as only a teenager can and brought the conversation back to her. "I was kept in at school and it was getting really late, so I thought I'd come here to be safe, and maybe you could walk me home?"
Spike reflected bitterly on a world where a toothsome teen could consider his lair a place of sanctuary and then gave up, overwhelmed by the futility of repining. "Yeah, sure. Hey, hang about! They keep you in for an hour at most; that doesn't explain why you're walking around this late."
Dawn shuffled her feet a little and admitted that there might have been a restorative raspberry mocha smoothy or two on the way home, with a bunch of fellow detainees.
"Well, give me a minute or two to get ready and we'll be off," said Spike. "Or next thing you know, you'll run into Buffy patrolling and we'll both be in trouble."
"I'll start my homework," Dawn offered, trying to atone for her bad deeds. Moving to the table and shuddering slightly as she came face to face with Spike's breakfast, she pulled out some paper, pens and a slim book of verse.
Spike could spot poetry even from the other side of the crypt and old habits die hard. "Who're you studying then?" he called out casually as he ran a comb through his hair.
"Some mouldy old 19th century poet. Victorian or maybe Elizabethan. English and old anyway."
"Slight difference of a few centuries there but never mind," muttered Spike.
"Apparently, they found some lost verses of his a few years ago," Dawn continued, flicking her hair back as she examined the book. "The excitement's just too much for me but they published them and we have to study them to, uh, 'Examine the fresh perspective they give on his previous poems to his lost love. Compare and contrast the imagery and the...'
"God, this is so boring. Why didn't this William the wimp just ring her up, or meet her for a coffee? Why did he have to write her sloppy love poems and adore her from afar? Some men are so dense."
Spike stood, frozen in disbelief. Could it be, was it possible? His mind raced. After his death, had his mother had his verse published privately? Had it slowly achieved the recognition it deserved? Had he been famous for decades and never realised? And these lost poems - what were they?
Inspiration struck. The ones he hid behind the cistern in the bathroom! Obviously the house had been demolished or renovated and they had come to light. He was toying with the attractive picture of them going up for auction at Sotheby's, reaching the million pound mark, the frenzied bidding, the - he came back to earth as Dawn achieved heights of shrillness beyond any he had experienced before.
"I said can we go now?"
"Wait, Dawn! This poet, can I, can I just take a look?"
Dawn stared at him. "Why?"
"Umm, I just want to look, to check, I, oh give me the bloody book and stop screeching, or I'll throw you out of here with a sign round your neck giving your blood type, in case you meet a fussy vamp."
Indignation writ large on her face, Dawn silently passed Spike the book.
He held it in trembling hands then dropped it to the table and groaned in anguish.
"William sodding Wordsworth and that soppy Lucy he was always drivelling on about...."
Dreams crushed yet again, he tottered to the door and walked Dawn home in glum silence.
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