Spiral Interlude

Disclaimer: All the world belongs to Joss, and I merely play with it.

Summary: A short moment of shared angst for Buffy and Spike in the gas station before Ben turns to Glory and the whole thing goes to hell.

Rating: G. Nothing racy here, people.

Spoilers: End of Season 5.

Feedback: Always welcome.

Distribution: Just let me know where it's going.

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Spike sat in the dark corner alone. He would have had a smoke but that pillock, Xander walked off with his Zippo. The Zeppo with his Zippo. Spike chuckled quietly to himself. It was about the only thing he could laugh about.

He wanted to get out of there. Gas station was no place to just wait for the bloody medieval throng to just come and get them. They'd have a better chance of at least the Nibblet and the rest of the ladies getting away if they just stuffed them in the Doc's car and left the men-folk to fight back the knights. 'Course the wanker did have a point. What bloody good would Spike be in a battle against humans. About none.

'Sides, Buffy had said they would all make it. Which meant that they all would, or she'd die trying. Damn stubborn woman.

She wandered in at that moment. Speak of the devil. He watched her a minute from his corner. He knew her to be the strongest person he'd ever encountered, but in that moment, she looked like a small, frightened girl, struggling to keep things together. She let out a shuddering sigh, running her hands through her hair.

He stood up, stepping out of the shadows. "Slayer, you alright?"

She started and hastily swiped at her eyes. Was she crying? "God Spike, what are you doing? Lurk much?"

"Just sittin' here. Trying to figure our next move. I ask again, are you alright?" He took a step towards her, concerned.

She shrugged off his concern. "I'm fine." Her tone softened when she saw that he was genuinely worried about her. "Really, Spike. I'm just a little wigged. Options quickly dwindling."

"Yeah, I spotted that too. We'll figure something out Slayer. Scooby Gang is always left standing at the end of every episode. Velma will come up with something brilliant and Shaggy will accidentally pull it off." He smiled at her and sat down on a table, patting the spot beside him.

She didn't return the smile, but sat next to him, hands kneading the edge of the table. "It's not a cartoon Spike. It's real life. I'm not going to do anything that could end up with someone dead."

"You may not have that option, love."

She pushed off of the table, throwing him a look of anger and hurt. He wanted desperately to comfort her, take her in his arms and hold her, but instead he kept his hands in his lap, fingers itching to have his Zippo so he could light up.

"Everyone's getting out of here, Spike. That includes you so I don't want any no-brain heroics."

"Pet, it's a nice sentiment, but if it comes down to getting me out at all and getting the Little Bit out safely, I think you know which curtain you've got to choose. I'd like to live through this, but not at the cost of Dawn's life, or anyone else's mind you. Except maybe Xander." He walked over to her, trying to make his point. "Her life is worth more to us than any of our own lives. Yours too. Ask anyone out there and they'll bloody well lay down and die for both of you."

She stared at him and for a moment he thought she wasn't listening to him at all. But she whispered, "I know. But that doesn't make it any easier. In fact, it just makes it harder."

He took another step towards her. "It'll be alright, Slayer. You always make the right choice in the end. You are a hero after all." He lifted her chin to look into her eyes. "It'll be alright." He thought if he said it enough times, maybe they'd both believe it.

The eyes that gazed back at him were so lost. She grasped the hand that held her chin and pulled it away from her face, but didn't let go. She held on like he was a life preserver and she was drowning. She looked down at the ground and he had to strain to hear her soft voice. "I can't do this anymore, Spike. There are no options left. Nothing that won't end up with people I love being hurt or killed. I'm supposed to be the leader, the Chosen One. I have no idea what to do. You're right, we're just sitting ducks here, but the next choice I make will mean someone dies."

She looked up at him with pleading eyes, begging him to help her make the hard decision. He swallowed. He had no idea what to tell her. He wanted to be a man for her. Be a man for Dawn, but at that moment he was struck with the same fear that was paralyzing Buffy. How do you choose which friends live and which ones die?

He would never have to answer her unspoken question. The next five minutes were a blur. Ben shouting, Glory appearing, grabbing Dawn and massacring the knights. And when it was all finished, Buffy sitting in a heap outside, staring off into nothing. The only safe place left for her. And while he panicked, trying to get her back, part of him wasn't surprised. Part of him knew. She couldn't be there if the only choice left was death.