Buffy blinked as vision slowly returned, staring blankly at the place where Angelus, Drusilla, and the hell-portal had all disappeared.
"Angel," she whispered, closing her eyes. "Oh, God..."
The sword clattered from her hand as she stepped back, her grief-numbed brain trying to focus. She'd sent Angelus to hell. Her mother had kicked her out of the house. Jenny was dead, Giles had been tortured, Willow was in the hospital...
A low moan of pain from off to her right.
And now she had to deal with the bleached menace.
"Your ho-bag girlfriend caught a ride to Hell, Spike," Buffy spat. "I'm sure it's very sad for you. Now get the hell out of my town before I remember that I don't make deals with vampires."
No answer except another moan. Buffy rolled her eyes.
"Oh, please. She just broke your arm. You probably get worse injuries snacking on orphanages. Get up." She kicked him lightly in the thigh. "Stop being such a baby."
"Where am I?" Spike asked quietly. "Where is this place?"
"Knock it off with the face accent, Spike. I'm in a really bad mood and I don't have time for your crap, okay?"
"You're... you're not that raven-haired woman..." Spike turned terrified, confused eyes on Buffy. "Where... this isn't the alley. Have I been accosted? I don't... I think she... I think she bit me..."
Spike broke off, staring into space with dawning horror. "Oh, no. Oh God no..."
She took a step forward. "Spike? Did Drusilla do some kind of craziness transfer or what?"
"Bloody hell, Slayer," Spike muttered, his voice returning to normal, "What the..."
"Spike, you have five seconds to tell me what's wrong with you before your appointment with Mr. Pointy. 5... 4... 3..."
"Kill me," Spike begged, the upper-crust accent returning again. "If you have the power to, I beg you to kill me. I've become... oh God. I can't even articulate the horror. If Mother..."
More awareness swam in Spike's eyes, and he let out a keening wail, dissolving into sobs. "Oh, God, Mother... Mother, I'm so sorry... so sorry..."
"Quit your whingin', you poncy git," Spike added, his voice going through another abrupt change. "He's right, Slayer, stake us. Better dust than havin' to live like that bastard Angel..."
"Live like..." Buffy's breath caught. "Oh my God... you're not..."
"An' here I thought you weren't as stupid as you looked. Stuffed the flamin' poof back in me!" Spike struggled to his feet, duster dragging. "An' he's not bloody well stayin', either. Whatever you did, you can just undo it."
And then he burst into manic tears again.
"She cursed the wrong vampire," Buffy gasped.
"Oh, and what," Spike sneered, "I'll be walkin' around with this git in my head until I knock boots with you? Bloody well put a stake in me."
"How dare you speak to the lady in such a crude manner!" he added a moment later.
Spike whipped his head around, leering. "On second thought, Slayer, he's really pissin' me off. Take off your knickers."
If he had any further comments, they were halted by Buffy's fist in his face.
She should just stake him.
He was unconscious, he was helpless. He'd even asked her to. As many times as he'd tried to kill her, she'd be an idiot not to.
And he'd stolen the curse meant for Angel.
Which meant he had a soul.
Could she kill a vampire with a soul? Would it make him like Angel? Or would he have to spend a century eating rats first?
Buffy sat down heavily next to Spike's crumpled body, hugging her knees, thoughts of Angel and Giles and Willow and Xander and Jenny and her mom whirling in a kaleidoscope in her brain.
Don't. Don't. You're the Slayer. Problem right in front of you. Focus on that.
Hadn't Angel said the soul had made him kind of crazy? Dealing with the remorse of all the horrible things he'd done?
So... crazy souled vampire who wanted to kill her.
Crazy souled vampire who wanted to kill her... waking up.
Buffy clutched her stake tighter, rising to her feet.
"Slayer," Spike croaked, his hand trailing through the dust to rub his jaw. "Don't dust me. Not yet."
"You have no idea how good this reason's gonna have to be," Buffy spat.
"I can get them back."
Buffy lowered the stake a little. "Keep talking."
"Angelus n' Dru. I can get 'em back. M'not leavin' Dru in Hell, Slayer, even if I have to kill you and bring that right bastard back with her."
"You're really not in any position to talk about killing me, Spike."
"There's ways..." Spike coughed, sending dust skittering across the floor. "There's spells. I'd need your help, Slayer. But we could get 'em back. You could curse up ol' Angelus and get your boyfriend back, an' I'd have Dru again."
"And your soul?" Buffy challenged.
"Slayer, if gettin' my Princess back from hell isn't a 'moment of perfect happiness', I don't know what would be."
"You seem... deceptively sane..."
"Don't get used to it," he groaned, rising on an elbow. "Little bugger's screamin' in here. We worked together, didn't we? Saved the world n' all that rot? Can't you just..."
Spike winced in pain, shaking his head. "I can get 'em back, Slayer. Believe me. Don't you want Angel back?"
"More than anything," Buffy whispered.
"Then let's do this. You n' me. We'll get 'em back, we'll both get what we want, and you n' I'll never have to see each other again, I bloody well hope."
"You can really get Angel back?"
"Look, pet, if I didn't think I could bring Dru back, would I still bloody be here? I'm not a total idiot. Historically speakin', injured me plus Slayer with pointy equals Spike takin' a big ol' scamper an' comin' back to fight another day... or didn't you notice?"
"Right, then. Are you with me on this?"
"If this is a trick..."
Spike sighed. "Look, Slayer. Tell you what. Why don't we go upstairs, an' you can chain me up. For both our sakes, since the ponce's got a death wish. Get your Watcher on it..."
"Giles is so not gonna want to help you."
"I'm the reason the wanker isn't chainsawed to bits!"
"Yeah, uh-huh. 'Hey, Giles! Half the Scourge of Europe's been zapped out of this dimension! You remember them, right? The crazy lady and the one who killed your girlfriend? Wanna help me bring them back?' I'm sure he'll be right over with his helping hat on."
"What about your mum? She seemed a bit of all right..." Spike froze as tears sprang to Buffy's eyes. "What the hell'd I say?"
"Chain you up," Buffy said fiercely, scrubbing at her eyes with her wrists. "I am all over that. Where can I find some chains?"
Spike's face turned sour. "Are you kiddin', Slayer? Angelus and Dru live here. There's chains bloody everywhere. Pick a bed. Any bed."
The color seeped from Buffy's face. "I... I don't want to know, do I?"
"Try bein' trapped in a bloody wheelchair an' havin' to listen to it," Spike spat.
"Can you walk?"
Spike pushed himself up with his unbroken arm, rising to his feet. "Looks like it, yeah. Slayer... do we have a deal?"
Buffy sighed deeply, her head sagging. "Yeah. We have a deal."