Written for the sloth prompt at sb_fag_ends.

Somehow, she'd always thought that she and Spike would have time. It was a failing of hers, she supposed, and she never learned, did she? She'd had her defenses raised for years, choked back her confession for months, and always assumed that these things would develop when the right time came. Spike was an unstoppable force, and she'd let herself believe that it was inevitable that he'd eventually do the hard work and force out her feelings for him and the happiness they could have together.

Then he was leaving her deep in the Hellmouth, her love burning for the sake of the greater good, and there wasn't any more time at all. She'd mourned him, mourned the loss of that one last opportunity (because she knew without a doubt that she'd never know anyone like him again, never build a connection so strong with someone else), and sworn that she wouldn't hold back anymore.

Naturally, that led to depression and loneliness and seizing the day with all the wrong people, people who weren't right for her or who rejected her for her sister (but she tried not to think of that at all, because she was still ashamed that she'd gone there). And she raised those defenses again and relearned caution just as Spike crashed back into her life.

And she hadn't learned, after all, because she'd thought that she had time again (and they were in the middle of a war, for heaven's sake! It wouldn't have been right to start making eyes at Spike now!) and now Spike was on fire in the Hellmouth again, screaming in agony as Twilight towered over them both.

She'd spent weeks imagining saving him, the first time around, yanking off that amulet or pulling him from the beam of sun above him. She'd dreamed of running to the bus with him in her arms and escaping the town together. She'd thought of how their lives would have continued, training new slayers and fighting and snarking their way into bed together each night.

She'd spend longer contemplating today, she knew, as she staggered to her feet to stand between Twilight and the seed. Today, it would be Spike's life or the fate of the world. And there was only one choice there. Only one real option.

Spike's cries faded, and she tensed, awaiting the sound of bursting dust, the death of her lover yet again. But there was nothing-

-and then Twilight was bowled over to the ground, something black and charred and still on fire wrapped around his back. And once Twilight was down, batting away ineffective flames with annoyance, eyes forged of burning cobalt opened and met hers knowingly. "Not my time, pet," he bit out hoarsely. "Not this time."

"Never again," she echoed fervently, and as Twilight tossed Spike off and went for her again, she gave him a quick look that said everything from I love you to You asshole, why didn't you call?, everything she'd wanted to say as soon as she'd seen him again, and prayed that he'd understand. Then she hurled herself at Twilight, swearing to herself that she and Spike would get their moment at last, once this battle was over.

They had no time to lose.