Something's Not Right

(a missing scene from Spiral)

Xander was thoroughly wigged. In the last seven hours, just about everything he knew and believed in had been turned on its head. He'd found himself skipping town, with the others, in a stolen Winnebago, fleeing from – who knew what? He'd seen a bunch of guys who looked like Crusaders or something – good guys, holy-war-fighting types – chasing them, shooting at them, trying to kill them. They'd managed to injure Giles pretty badly.

For someone who had always considered himself to be one of the good guys, it was a profoundly unsettling experience.

There was worse. He'd been forced to watch someone who was well known to be an evil, blood-sucking bastard, who had nearly bitten his neck the first time they met and who had threatened to kill him more than once, behaving like a goddamn hero. How weird was that? He hadn't even really seen what happened. All he knew was that some of the goons had stabbed their swords through the roof, there had been a blur of black leather and bleached hair and Spike was suddenly standing over Buffy, gripping the blade of a sword with his bare hands, the point about two inches above her head. Gritting his teeth and ignoring the blood running down his wrists, he'd snapped out something about time for heroics, Buffy had yelled "Xander! Hatch!" and the next moment he was giving her a leg-up out of the roof of the RV while Spike hung grimly on to the sword, not letting go of it until Buffy had dealt with its owner. I know he likes pain, thought the boy. But surely, that's a bit much

"Buffalo jerky flavoured crisps?" snapped a disbelieving voice behind him. Xander shook himself. While he'd been wool-gathering, Spike was apparently doing what Buffy had just asked them to do and checking the supplies. "Who the bloody hell eats those? What's wrong with salt and vinegar?"

"I do, actually," said Xander, taking the packet from him. Spike just looked at him for a moment, as if he didn't quite believe he was real, and went back to sorting through the tins and packets.

Xander had had enough. He decided to go and see how Anya was doing.

Left alone, Spike leaned against the wall and stared morosely at the motley collection of food without really seeing it. Everything had been going so well. Buffy had asked him for help. Buffy had defended his right to be there in front of everyone. Hell, he'd even saved her life, or at least kept her from a nasty head wound. And the moment that smarmy doctor had shown up, it had all counted for nothing. She was probably in there with him now. Watching him heroically doing his life-saving bit on Rupert.

Spike shook his head almost involuntarily. Something was definitely wrong. Something about this bloke was bothering him, and it wasn't just his attitude to Buffy. He was almost positive that there was more to him than met the eye.

"There you are."

His heart leapt into his throat. Buffy was standing just inside the door, with her hand on the handle. She pushed it gently to behind her and took a couple of hesitant steps towards him.

He cleared his throat. "It's, er, it's, we've got about two days' worth of stuff. If we last for two days, that is. "

Buffy glanced behind her, almost as if afraid someone was listening. When she spoke, it was much more gently than she had in front of the others. "I wanted, um, I wanted to say – "

He tilted his head to one side. "What?"

"I wanted to make sure I said – Thank you. For what you've done. I mean –" she waved a hand around her head – "we'd never have got here without you, we wouldn't have got anywhere in fact –"

Spike was dumbstruck. He stared at her, desperately fighting back an urge to fling his arms around her, and wondering what she would say next. As she seemed to be expecting him to say something, he looked down at the floor and blurted "snothing really, there's nothing I wouldn't do for you and Dawn, you know that-" and stopped himself abruptly.

She reached out and touched his arm. A bolt of electricity shot through him.

"I know," she said softly.

He had to say it. He couldn't not say it.

"Look – Buffy. That bloke Ben. Do you trust him?"

"Of course I trust him," Buffy replied, looking puzzled. "He's a doctor. You know, trust me, I'm a doctor. Kinda goes with the territory-"

"Yeah. Right. Well, I bloody don't."

Buffy frowned. "What do you mean?"

What did he mean? "I – I – just – kind of get a feeling that he's not on the level. That he's hiding something-"

Buffy's mouth set in a grim line. "Oh, I see what this is. You're jealous." She turned on her heel as if to go.

"NO!" I'm getting this all wrong as usual, he thought furiously. "Well, yeah, OK – you got me there. But – I just got a feeling that he's not who he says he is, is all."

"Spike." Buffy looked up at him with big beseeching eyes. "Please. Don't do this. Not now. Not after everything you've-"

"Look, I wouldn't even mention it if I didn't think it was important," he said, desperately. "I know I'm not exactly the Brain of Britain. But I got an instinct and it's hardly ever wrong. Something's not right about this bloke. I don't know what it is, but-"

There was a sudden commotion from outside. Someone was yelling "Let me out! You gotta let me out!"

Buffy turned and dashed through the door with Spike right on her heels. Ben was hammering frantically on the front door of the gas station. Dawn, Xander, Anya and Tara were staring at him in astonishment when –

the world moved –

and Buffy froze, staring uncomprehendingly at the hell-god Glory as she stretched and smiled in front of them.

Buffy grabbed Dawn and shoved her behind her.

"Well, well, well," said Glory, looking around the little group with a really unpleasant smile on her face. "Looks like little Ben finally did something right."

They were all there. There was the Slayer, her eyes bugging out of her head. Right next to her was the follicly-fried vampire, who still had some noticeable bruises on his face from his recent encounter with a certain God. (Why did the Slayer have a pet vampire?)There was the red-haired witch with her arm around her brain-sucked lover, who was staring vacantly into space. Her other cartoon pals were scattered about. And behind her, all shiny and perfect, a little girl with long dark hair. The Key.

She caught sight of the knight tied to a pillar in the corner. "Oh, look, it's Gregor." She picked a loose hub-cap off the floor and flung it at him like a frisbee. It sliced into his chest and as his head dropped she added with glee "Now it's not."

Only Spike had seen exactly what happened. He had watched in mounting horror as Ben shimmered and morphed into the God of Bad Home Perms. And for a fleeting secondI was right resounded through his skull before he let out a furious yell and launched himself at her. She laughed lazily, batted him aside with one hand and sent him flying into Xander.

Then it was Buffy's turn to rush her and be tossed head-first into Willow. In a blur of movement, Glory was gone, and there was a Dawn-shaped hole in the immediate vicinity …

Buffy burst through the door and ran straight into the energy barrier. She turned, ran back and shouted "Will! Get it down! NOW!"

Willow's eyes were already black and she was chanting. Buffy ran back outside to see …

the Knights of Byzantium lying in a dead and dying mass in front of the gas station. The dark-skinned leader raised his head painfully and gasped out .. "The Beast…"

I won't let anything happen to you …

But Dawn was gone.

Buffy's legs collapsed under her and she sank to the ground. For a moment she was vaguely aware of Spike yelling something about car keys, and then Willow's voice, calling her name, getting fainter and fainter and fading away …