There is a drop of blood on Charles Gunn's lower lip.

He's bleeding; it seems to be coming from every part of him now, as he watches Spike, Angel, and Illyria whirl and rage against the oncoming horde.

This drop of blood, however, is not his.

Spike has a scalp wound; something he got from the Brethren, apparently. It's been painting red rivers down Spike's face ever since he showed up, dripping on Gunn as Spike helped him sit down again, shockingly tender.

Dripping on Gunn's lip.

Gunn can feel the light growing fainter, the world ebbing away. It's funny, but they were right - your life really does flash before your eyes.

But what Gunn is thinking about now is a night three months ago... the night Wes and Fred hooked up, the night Spike finally got him out of the office and into a bar.

He'd talked of Fred, of course... and as the alcohol flowed, Spike had talked about Buffy. Trying to change for her, trying to be good. Battling flaming action figures to get his soul restored.

And there is a drop of blood on Charles Gunn's lower lip.

Spike had actually noticed it, started to wipe it away... and then his hand had stopped, pulling back, the weight of something deep and painful in the blue of his eyes, unspoken words.

Your choice, mate.

And Gunn slumps against the alley wall, his own blood pouring through his fingers, time ticking ever louder, ever faster in his ears, nearly drowning out the battle that rages around him.

Your choice, mate.

There is a drop of blood on Charles Gunn's lower lip.