Inspired by: the upcoming end of the season/series (although there are no
active spoilers, only speculation); Kita's "Five Things That Aren't True"
challenge (which I probably didn't adhere to around the edges), and Vanessa
Nichols' Stargate SG-1 fic series, "Twelve". Thanks for the jumping off
points, guys.

Disclaimers: Am *not* Joss. Am Kiki. Big difference? No money.

Thanks to: Perri for beta'ing and talking through of ideas & dialogue;
Lizbet & Dee for giggling and sniffling reactions and other phone talk; the
rest of the Horsechicks for encouragement and thumbs' up. Spoilers through
S7's "The Killer in Me."

Comments welcomed.

Five Ways the World Won't End (And One Way It Could)
by C. L. Kamnikar
copyright 2003

1. Five Days After

"Where are you going to go?"


Buffy leaned on the handlebars of the bike, not
looking at his face, because if she did she'd try to
figure out what he was thinking at that moment. And
that didn't matter, it could be a million things, a
million plans or avoidances or lies, and what Spike
thinks has never mattered as much as what Spike feels.
Which hasn't been in question for a long time.

"Got room for a passenger?"

His hands clenched on the grips, and she really
couldn't look at him now. Not until he answered her.

"What are you trying to ask, Slayer?"

You were supposed to say yes, she thought. I gave you
an opening and you were supposed to take it without
asking. But when had Spike ever done exactly what she
wanted? She lifted her eyes from the chrome
and steel to meet his gaze, as hard as the metal in the

"The Hellmouth's gone. Sealed and erased forever.
Dawn's safe. Most of the Potentials are... gone, most of them.
Giles...." And she couldn't say anything more then. His
eyes softened a little, watching her face. She
wondered if her Watcher had a grave she could visit,
somewhere in England. "Willow and Xander said they'd
look after Dawn and the rest of the girls for a few weeks. And
I... I need a break. A vacation. Just for a little while."
Not like the last time she'd taken off, telling no one
and not knowing where she was going.
This time would be different. Very different, if she
had her way.

"They wouldn't like it, you taking off with me."

"They already know. They said to call when we get
where we're going."


Blind shock there, and his expression startled a smile
out of her. "Xander said to remind you to feed me. And
not to take the Pacific Coast Highway too fast, you
don't have a license and getting pulled over and
jailed isn't a good enough excuse for calling him for
bail money. Willow said to be sure to get her a
souvenir. Dawn made me promise to check in every
night, and to make sure *you* eat."

"Presumptous lot, aren't they?" He swallowed, looking
away from her and closing his eyes. "Pet, this won't


And now they were back on script, and he was glaring
at her, and the giggles were bubbling up in spite of
everything. In spite of grief, and loss, and the layer
of nervous fear underneath it all. The Faith in the
back of her head was chortling. "Jesus, B, just jump
him already, why don't you?" The Anya back there
agreed with her. The Giles was refusing to comment. Or
watch. Or do anything but polish his glasses and
pretend he couldn't see what was about to happen.

"It won't work 'cause nothing's changed! I love you!
And you're not in love with me." He calmed down as he
spoke, shrugging one shoulder angrily. "We were never
friends, Slayer. It's not like we can go off into the
sunset and be buddies now. And I don't have the
strength or the stupidity to pretend that's fine anymore."
He turned back to her, his expression closed off. "Let me go."

"No." She leaned forward, into his personal space, and
he blinked with the surprised look that made
her gleeful to have shocked him. He always saw her
coming, saw too much, and getting him in his blind
spot was always funny, whether it was with words or
fists. "You're right. We were never friends."

"Damn straight."

"Doesn't mean we can't be now. Or something more. Love
might be blood screaming for you, but it takes longer
for me to figure out."

There it was again, that wondering gaze that
stopped her cold in her tracks; the expression that meant he
was holding his metaphorical breath, unable to believe his ears or
his eyes, like she was some kind of miracle. "What?"

"You heard me." She wasn't going to say it twice,
because she wasn't going to make promises she couldn't
keep. Or give more hope than she could make good on.

"Is this some kind of test? Some kind of bloody -- I
don't know, some freakish Slayer test to see what I'll
do? Turn evil again if you torture me? Damnit, Slayer,
I don't--"

"It's not a test. It's an offer. A traveling companion
and friend, and maybe...." She shrugged. "It's your

"Maybe?" Spike narrowed his eyes. "Man can't live on
maybes. What are you waiting for? What's it going to
take?" She stayed silent, and he laughed humorlessly.
His voice softened as she clenched the handlebars.
"It's okay to say it's not going to happen for you,
pet. I don't need a damn trophy. You're not my prize.
I got the soul, fought the good fight, all of it-- did
what I did for me, and to make things right, and

He pushed one hand through his hair, clenched his jaw.
"But goddamn it, don't string me along. Let me make a
clean break, or tell me what it'll take to make you
love me. But I'm not going to beg. Not any more. What
the hell's left, Buffy? What's it take?"

And oh, this was so much easier than it deserved to


"Time?" He froze again, staring at her, his eyes
widening at the delight growing on her face.

So much simpler than she'd dreamed it would be.

"Time. Real dates. Talking. Maybe some dancing.
Finding out who you are now. Finding out who I am
around you when you've got a soul, and we're not
saving the world." Her voice choked off at the
stillness in his eyes. "No promises. I won't do that
to you. The second I know, one way or the other,
you'll know too. But-- I want the chance. If... if you
don't have any other plans."

"Time," he repeated, and the slow smirk he gifted her
with made her want to dance. "Funny thing. I've got
plenty of that. And no immediate plans."


"Yeah," he whispered, leaning forward, his gaze
flicking down to her lips. Buffy didn't back away. And
when the soft kiss broke off, there wasn't any
suggestion of violence, passionate or angry. It
reminded her of the kiss she'd given him after Glory
hurt him, in the crypt. His lips curled up. "Get your
stuff. Not waiting on you all night, pet."

"Already here." She skipped over to the nearest
gravestone and picked up her bag from the spot where
she'd hidden it.

"You daft-- You were pretty bloody confident, weren't
you? I should leave you here, just to teach you a

"Wouldn't work now. I'd just follow you. I'm not
getting ditched by people I care about again, Spike."

"Oh." Buffy caught a glimpse of the rare shyness in
his eyes as she settled onto the bike behind him.
"Right, then. Hang on tight."

She clasped her hands around his waist, and leaned
into the wind as the bike sped up, the streetlights
flashing by above. "You Are Now Leaving Sunnydale!"
went by in a blink, and then they were outside the
city limits, heading north, as she smiled.