As he sat beside her, Dawn finally looked up. Her face was streaked with tears. Spike put an arm around her shoulders and pulled her close, letting Dawn snuffle into his coat. He noticed that her grip on the shoes hadn't wavered.
"You want to tell me what's going on, love?" Dawn nodded, sniffed loudly and scrubbed at her eyes with her free hand.
"They're the Manolo Blahnik's."
Dawn didn't need to say any more. Buffy had found them after a rather terminal vampire eviction from a downtown warehouse. She had bent everyone's ears about her find for weeks.
The shoes were rare. At the looks of incomprehension from all and sundry, Buffy had all but drawn a timeline of design changes and significant moments in the history of the designer and his shoes.
Word of the street — that would be the street where people discussed the whys and wherefores of women's footwear — had it that the designer had yanked this particular design from a collection on the grounds that it was too dangerous. The shoes had a 9cm titanium stiletto heel that tapered down to a tiny 2.5mm that, rumour had it, was capable of cutting through flesh and bone. While this had briefly perked up Spike's interest, Buffy was more excited about having shoes nobody else had owned.
The evening's lecture had degenerated into the kind of affair where you were forced to watch the slide show of your uncle's recent holiday — all ten cartridges of slides. It was riveting stuff if you were the uncle, but halfway through the third cartridge the audience was contemplating homicide, suicide or both.
Xander had snored loudly during an exciting if you're a shoe fetishist moment and Buffy hadn't spoken to him for a week.
"And the shoes would appear to have been dipped demon excretions because..." Spike was surprised that Dawn could stomach being near the stench, he guessed that her runny nose was filtering out the worst of eau-de-demon.
Dawn sniffed again, but still didn't show any reaction to the smell. "I had just gotten home when Buffy called, said she'd left the shoes at the Magic Box and asked me to pick them up. You know how silly she is about them, she didn't even realise that it would be dark when I got back."
Spike was less than impressed at Buffy's priorities.
"So, I packed a couple of stakes and filled the water pistol with holy water."
"But you didn't see a vampire," Spike guessed the rest of the story. "You ran into a Hywrhill demon and they tend to get miffed about being poked with bits of wood."
Nodding as Spike described her situation, Dawn continued, "I ran, but he was faster and I tripped and he grabbed my leg and I swung around and I think I took his eye out with the heel of one shoe, but the other was kind of stuck in his head, here..." She pointed to her temple. "And he didn't move."
Spike hugged her tight against his side. Hywrhill demons had a peculiar physiological condition that was not dissimilar to the anti-slash seating used to deter vandalism on public transport. Once the skin of the demon was puncture, it held the weapon tightly. Dawn must have had a burst of terror-induced strength to have freed the shoe from the demon's head. He could see small burn holes on the rolled-up cuffs of her jeans. Dawn was lucky not to have gotten seriously hurt from the demon's acidic sweat.
"How am I going to tell Buffy?"
He was about to suggest the she tell Buffy the truth and to make sure she included a nice little guilt trip, but Dawn turned to him, her eyes puffy and red, but the look was enough to tell him that Dawn's health and welfare came second to the that of the shoes.
"You could say I borrowed them for the screening of The Rocky Horror Picture Show." At least it got a giggle out of Dawn. "Or you could distract her." Being the product of a mass media generated short attention span did have some benefits, but Spike was pushed to think of a shiny thing large enough to make Buffy forget about her beloved shoes.
The front door opened and Dawn jumped to her feet, Spike could see the tension in her frozen expression. She looked like a deer caught in the headlights.
As she stomped through the house, Buffy yelled for her sister and Spike had a moment of clear and perfect insanity. As Buffy stepped into the kitchen and looked towards the back door, Spike grabbed Dawn and kissed her.
Screaming as if her throat had been cut, Buffy threw herself across the room and fumbled with the door handle in her haste to kill Spike. But she was too late. Spike and the ex-stilettos had vanished, leaving Dawn to face her sister's wrath.
It was all Dawn could manage to look suitably chastened through her telling off. Kissing Spike was a far less serious offence than accidentally destroying a pair of shoes and one she was happy to sit through, nodding and shaking her head at the appropriate moments when Buffy needed to take a breath mid-rant.
He'd dug her out of a hole that she thought would bury her. When she saw Spike again, she could just kiss him.
spikedawn — challenge #5: choices