So maybe he hadn't been strictly telling the truth when he walked into the room, where she was huddled in a ball in the corner, and had said "Sorry, didn't know you were in here." More than that he was down right lying. He had gone looking for her deliberately and was relieved she'd been so easy to find – not that she could have gone far, this shed only had about three rooms. Bloody awful hole. Slayer knew it. She was getting downright crazed. He could see it in her eyes; in her eyes, in her jerky movements and too-quick, too-breathless speech. She was close to snapping under the pressure.

"Spike?" she'd glared up at him, trying to quickly hide the traces of tears, "What's happened?" She prepared to get up but he waved his bandaged hands in a soothing motion.

"Nothing," he tried to calm her but it backfired.

"Well I suppose I've been gone too long..." she mumbled gravelly and scrubbed at her eyes again, standing up. He placed his hands on her shoulders to halt her.

"Don't do that," he chided and she glared, some of that old fire stoking up.


He gestured a finger at her eyes and saw her well up in response before blinking them back.

"That," he responded and nodded at the floor, "they won't miss you for some minutes more."

He watched her resolve crumble, tiredness sweep back over and she folded in on herself, dropping to the floor. Spike settled himself next to her, stretching out his legs and fishing for a cigarette in his pocket. Buffy had leaned back against the wall and shut her eyes – as though to shut in the tears.

"Need to get those out you know," he muttered around a cigarette, fishing for a lighter. She focused her attention on him.


"The tears." He clasped the lighter between two fingers and drew it out of his pocket. "Need to let them happen. Good for you." He tried to flick the lighter to spark and growled at his failure. "Not good for the little 'un to see." He nodded at the door. "Nor the rest. Best let them happen now."

"With you here?" she said in a choked voice, harsh and rejecting, but Spike merely fixed her with a level gaze.

"No one better." He failed to flick the lighter again. "Want one?" He offered her the packet and she shook her head derisively.

"Have you ever seen me smoke?"

"Now seems a good time to start," he replied and with one final failed attempt to light it he shoved the lighter and packet back in his pocket.

"Can't light the bloody thing anyway."

She didn't offer to. They sat in silence – his senses over alert to her.

"It's all gone wrong." Her voice broke in the silence, cracked and drowned. He said nothing. Two hundred years had taught him a thing or two, and one was to let a weeping maiden weep...unless he was about to rip her throat out and then it was down right annoying. The sooner dead the better in that situation.

"I don't know what to do." She didn't turn to look at him and he kept his eyes resolutely forward so she could cry unwatched – he could hear in her voice the sob and the tears overflow. "Everyone's looking at me for a plan but I don't have one. I don't have one." Her voice grew frantic and he tensed his muscles to keep from touching her. "I can't protect them. Tara, Giles, you," he gave a small start that he'd been included and glanced down at his hands, "...all because I can't do what I'm supposed to do."

"I wouldn't worry about these," Spike lifted his hands up and shrugged, "like you said, they'll heal."

Her voice was so quiet he barely heard her next words.

"I meant before."

Before...when he was kidnapped and tortured. When she kissed him in gratitude. When she gave him hope. Worth it for that.

"I'm going to get everyone killed," she said in a mix of breathless horror and helplessness. He turned to look at her now, with her tear drenched face, and his stomach crawled in frustration and anger at the cheap skank of a so-called god that had done this to her.

"Hey! Look at me," he commanded and she lifted her head in something like resignation. His face was earnest and sincere, trying to communicate without words.

"This is not your fault."

The laugh was wet and derisive, choking off with a sob, "Right." She went back to staring into space and he grit his teeth in annoyance. It might not be her fault but she was right, they were probably all going to die.

"We should make a break for it."

Buffy looked at him again. The tears were subsiding, as he had known they eventually would, and she calmed herself.


"Better that then wait here for creepy monks one and two to smash a hole in Witchy's wall. We make a break for the Doc's car. Take the fight to them." She was weighing up his suggestion he could see. This was more her style – fighting not hiding.

She sighed and glanced down. "No, it's too risky. Not everyone will make it."


Her head shot back up, eyes wide and shocked, but his face was serious, mouth a grim line.

"I will get you and your sister to the car, and that is a promise."

She held his gaze, like she was searching for something. He already knew what her answer would be though, he could see the resolve hardening.

"No. Not going to happen."

He felt the flash of annoyance at her stubbornness, like a sharp pain in his stomach.

"Buffy..." he tried to convince her but she cut him off as she abruptly got to her feet.

"No Spike."

He clenched his jaw and swallowed the next words. Buffy dabbed at her face again with her hands, gave a sniff and presented herself to the vampire.

"How do I look?"

The question stumped him and the hundreds of responses he wanted to give stumbled over themselves in his head, "You look..."

She must have sensed where he was going in his expression and tone because she dropped her shoulders and stared at him in exasperation.

"The tears, Spike. Do I look like I've been crying?"

"Oh," he stalled awkwardly. "No, not at all."

"Good," she nodded sharply with a false perkiness, which he knew wouldn't last, and turned to leave.

"I know it all looks depressing and everything," he called after her, "what with the Watcher about to pop his clogs, and Witch Girl acting all crazy, and let's not forget the medieval, throw back wannabes standing outside, but it could be worse."

Buffy glared at him, "How could it possibly be any worse?"

"The skank bitch from demon hell could be banging on the door."

He was rewarded with the twitch of a smile at his nickname for Glory before it faded again.

"Don't joke about that," she warned, "that's how we get into these messes." She reached the door and tilted her head back at him.

"Thank you, Spike."

Then she was gone, leaving his insides feeling warm and fanning the hope a little further.

That was that then, he thought and prepared to follow her out of the room. He paused. Unless he could convince her friends to convince her. That buffoon Xander seemed to be the most reasonable of the bunch in terms of challenging their esteemed leader. He was the best bet. Maybe he'd even light a cigarette for him.

Spike nodded determinedly to himself. She may be all noble and honourable but he was certainly not and he was damned if he was going to let her die.