Tara was a little surprised to be greeted by an armed Dawn and noted that, while the girl lowered her weapon, she didn't set it aside. "How is he?" she asked in genuine concern.
"Conscious..." Dawn paused to let the impact of the word sink in. "For a change. It was mostly bruises this time, but I think there's a couple of cracked bones in his wrist."
Tara winced in sympathy and dropped her eyes, not willing to meet Dawn's direct gaze. "Buffy's at the *Magic Box*. She's very upset."
"I suppose Spike is to blame for everything." Dawn snorted in derision, she doubted Buffy was worried about Spike's welfare and was instead more concerned that her friends would discover she wasn't the princess they thought she was. Dawn had witnessed the messy consequences of far too many Slayer tantrums of late and wasn't prepared to be charitable towards her sister at the moment.
"She didn't make a lot of sense." Tara sighed. "She just said that Spike had been hurt and you were helping him. I thought you might need a hand."
Smiling for the first time since Tara arrived, Dawn visibly relaxed, the tension in her chest unwinding slowly, like a clock spring. She wasn't surprised that the only one of her friends who'd bothered to check on her and Spike was Tara.
"Buffy happened." Dawn's furious look startled Tara, the girl's anger was still close to the surface. "She's been using Spike as a punching bag to avoid dealing with the fact that she's alive again. Somehow, screwing my best friend and beating the crap out of him makes her feel better about herself."
Tara blanched in shock, she knew about Buffy's relationship with Spike, but was horrified to learn that it extended to physical abuse.
"He can't stay away from her and I'm terrified she'll end up killing him." Dawn's fingers tightened into a fist, her nails biting into her palm to hold back the tears that threatened to fall. "If she actually bothers to ask, tell Buffy I won't be coming home. I'm staying here with Spike."
Tara nodded and gave Dawn a quick hug. "I'll let everyone know and bring you some clothes and other things over tomorrow."
Dawn thanked her and barring the door after Tara's departure, returned downstairs with the blood for Spike.
15minuteficlets — word #49: spring
Part of the Alley!verse