Disclaimer: The rights for Buffy the Vampire Slayer belong to Joss Whedon.

AN: I'm trying out a new fandom. This is the second story test I'll be posting today; I'm just seeing what works and what doesn't.


"Everyone says love hurts, but that's not true. Loneliness hurts. Rejection hurts. Losing someone hurts. Envy hurts. Everyone gets these things confused with love. But in reality, love is the only thing in this world that covers up all the pain and makes someone feel wonderful again." – Unknown


At first, Buffy thought it was her life flashing before her eyes.

That was what happened, wasn't it, when people died?

She was in the mansion back in Sunnydale, and Angel – or rather Angelus, she recalled – had just pulled the sword from the chest of Acathla. He was smirking at his accomplishment, twirling the sword in his hand before pointing it at Buffy.

"You're going to hell," he said.

Buffy expected her next words of, "Save me a seat" to come out naturally. This was a memory after all, right?

She was surprised when they didn't; she just remained standing, watching him like he was merely a movie on the TV. Angelus seemed slightly surprised as well by the lack of comeback, but that didn't stop him from launching an attack on her. Buffy expected to fall into the fighting stance, like she had done before.

Instead the sword hit her arm and ripped her sleeve.

She cried out and leapt back in shock, her eyes widening at the sudden flash of pain that was real, and the sudden realization that came with it. This is real. It's not a memory. I'm actually here.

With all the crazy stuff she'd seen in her life, time-travel shouldn't have come as a shock. But it did. I'm actually here, back in time, before I died…before Dawn… Part of her wondered if her sister was real at this point.

Angelus – partly confused and partly angered by her not paying attention to him – swung again, and this time Buffy dodged and parried back. Right. Evil vampire. Need to figure out my dilemma later.

But…I can change this, she realized. Maybe I won't have to send him… No, he's already pulled the sword out. Buffy felt a stab at her heart as she recalled what had happened – rather, what will happen in a couple of minute's time. All the pain from the time before threatened to overwhelm her, and her thoughts raced as she tried to figure out what to do. But I can't avoid it. I have to kill him to save the world.

But what if I send him back without his soul? Easier on me, easier on him; at least then he won't suffer in Hell.

Knowing where and when he was going to strike at her made it easier to keep him close to Acathla. It also made it easier to disarm him and run him through with the sword.

The shock on his face was a lot different than the last time; this time it was full of anger at being bested by her, rather than the heart-breaking look of hurt which she had been condemned to watch as he was sucked into Hell.

"NO!"

Buffy turned at the sound of the crazed outburst and witnessed Drusilla elbowing Spike in the face before launching herself towards the statue.

Forgot about them. I thought Spike would've left with her by now?

Spike… Thoughts of what he had done for her and Dawn flooded her brain, but this didn't last for long as she took her fighting stance, ready to defend herself against Drusilla…

…only to be pushed aside as the female vampire tried to get to Angelus.

"The stars still shine; we need to snuff them out! Daddy, where are you going? Come back! Come back!" She grabbed Angelus's outstretched hand in an attempt to pull him away from the vortex which had begun to open.

"Dru!" Spike leapt towards them, and Buffy found herself instinctively holding him back.

She didn't know why she did it; at this point in time, he was still evil.

I'm changing the past. What's going on? Why am I helping him? This is too much. And yet she kept up her strength to hold him back, stopping him from getting dragged into Hell. He's evil now…but he won't be later.

The vortex dragged Angelus through, and with him, Drusilla. It began to close, and Buffy ignored Spike's cries of protest – which sounded so heartbroken that she screwed her eyes shut to hold back her tears – as she kept holding him back.

The vortex closed within moments, having taken the two vampires with it.

There was a moment of silence as the reality of what had happened crashed down upon Buffy.

Minutes ago I leapt into a portal to save my sister. Now I'm somehow back in time…and I just seriously screwed up the timeline. Tears welled in her eyes. God, what's happening? I sent my boyfriend to Hell again – OK, that wasn't really my boyfriend, but still…

"Why didn't you let me save her?!"

Buffy looked up and realized she was still clutching Spike, holding him back from the statue. She let go and looked him up and down; the heartbreak in his voice matched the utterly destroyed look on his face, and it only made the tears flow more freely. He never needed a soul to love… He loved Drusilla, and he watched her get sucked into Hell… Oh God, what just happened here? Oh God, he's like me… Oh God, Oh God, Oh God…

"I…" She didn't have a reply. What was she supposed to say to him, after he'd witnessed his girlfriend getting dragged into Hell? There was a reason she avoided people the last time around, and this was it.

"I could've saved her!" he yelled. "You bloody bitch! I told you this deal only worked one way; me and Dru gettin' out of here! I let your bloody Watcher live, and this is how you repay me?!"

"But you would've been pulled in, too!"

He scoffed. "And since when do you care 'bout that, Slayer?"

Since you protected Dawn from Glory… Since you kept her secret even though it almost killed you…

"I wouldn't have cared if I'd been pulled in, too," he continued. "At least I would've been with Dru and we would've been out of Sunnyhell." The vampire suddenly grabbed her arm. "You know what? Forget what I said about leavin'; I'm gonna kill myself a third Slayer, and it's gonna be-"

And then suddenly he collapsed to the floor, holding his chest in pain.

Despite the fact that he'd been threatening to kill her moments before, Buffy knelt down beside him, concerned. "Spike? Are you OK?"

Then she saw it; the flash of light in his eyes as he gasped in pain, and her eyes widened at the one thing which had failed to cross her mind in her desperation – and in her selfishness to not deal with the pain of sending her boyfriend to Hell.

Willow did the curse. And since Angel's not here… It had fallen upon the next vampire in line.