A NOTE FROM STRANGE BINT:

To all who want to know:

Don't panic, this isn't a note saying I am not going to finish "More or Less" or even my Spuffys or quitting to go write Heroes fan-fic or something. I just wanted to say that I plan on doing more writing over the holiday break. So, look forward to some new stuff from "More or Less" and who knows...an update to the site???

Thanks for being patient. I hope you can continue to hang in there as I have HUGE life projects going on. I may start writing Jossverse flash-fic just to keep my mind flowing. I am sad that the Slayer Archive seems to be down for good. I understand the show is goneā€¦less people will have interest. But, I'm still interested. Does anyone know other archives where I can post? If not, is fine. Anyway Happy Holidays to all and this is an old DARK fic I am posting.

Takes place after "Shells" in Angel season 5. It is: Spike/Buffy dark, Angel/Buffy dark, and Spike/Faith

I didn't think it was appropriate for but it seems the "M" rating carries a lot of weight. Of course, it's so old I think it's horrible now and want to change it. But, enough rambling here it is. (If you are reading on LJ or a ML this link will lead you to )

Cheers,

SB


It wasn't right. It was just bloody creepy! Of course, Spike could understand loving a girl so much that anything, any piece of her that he could have was good--like a robot made to look like her, or her using him for sex. However, Spike was sure that Wesley had gone mad. Wesley first said he was bringing that thing that killed Fred around because it was better to have a twenty-four hour watch on her. Spike asked how IIlyria had come to agree to joining in on the take-your-evil-goddess-that-murdered-your-girl-to-work-day. He was told to shut-up, of course. Then, Spike realized that this IIlyria, this leather blue bitch evil thing had developed a dependency on Wesley. This thing that had drained the life out of Fred and destroyed her soul would follow Wesley into the bloody loo if she could, and he was getting off on it! Well, Spike wasn't going to put up with that. He told Wes how disgusting he was, and if he had any real love for Fred he would find a way to destroy that thing that killed her.

This is when Spike expected Angel to jump in and defend his right hand man's honor. He didn't. He just pushed his way through the gaping employees and told Spike this is a place of business.

"Yeah, a place of morally ambiguous business that is picking off your friends one by one! They found a way to manipulate your boys, Angel. But, they had to kill your girls out-right because they were too good to be corrupted, " Spike yelled.

When Angel had nothing to say back, Spike turned to Wesley.

"I wish to God that Fred could see you now, Percy. She'd find you so repulsive she would high tale it out of this place and be somewhere safe, but I'd bet you'd rather have it this way. Something that looks just like her, but needs you to make her way in this world. Fred was doing a fine job on her own until she went with you," he said.

With that Wes had taken out a stake from somewhere on his person, and charged Spike. Good. This was just what Spike needed a good fight to get his juices flowing again so he would stop feeling so miserable about Fred. It may help Wes feel better about the whole thing too. The boy had better moves than Spike had thought. This wouldn't be a boring fight.

Then, Spike had felt himself get thrown through glass. Angel, Spike thought. His Grand-Sire had somehow snuck up on him. He wasn't usually so stealthy but it was just like the old poof to not fight fair.

"Bloody hell!" Spike coughed as he lay on the ground, "How much of the annual budget has gone into replacing these bloody windows almost every week. If I were you, I'd just forget the windows and make this place one of those cubical places."

Spike expected his Sire to be standing over him with that angered yet smug frown and protruding furrowed brow. Instead Spike saw his insey little friend, Fred. Yes, it was Fred with a punk dominatrix make-over. Spike wouldn't have minded that at all; accept that it wasn't Fred. It was just some horrible bitch that squashed her soul and remembered her life. She could pack a mean punch, or a hurling, or whatever she had just done to Spike. Spike was realizing that wasn't just his average window throw through. He felt like a speeding truck hit him.

"You were hurting the Qwa'ha Xahan. That will not stand. He is much more impressive than the other Qwa'ha Xahan that he killed," IIlyria told Spike as she looked at him with those icicle eyes.

"You hear that, Percy? That was all for you. She fancies you. You have a loyal bitch in your girlfriend's murderer," Spike laughed painfully.

"Why do you call the Qwa'ha Xahan a different name than what the rest of these humans and half-breeds call him?" IIlyria asked Spike.

"Great. Now it's talking to me," Spike muttered, "I dunno, little girl blue. Why do you call him something different than what everyone else does?"

"The title is a sign of respect for my most loyal follower," It answered.

"Well, I'm gonna give him a lot more titles in a minute, and they aren't going to be signs of bloody respect," Spike laughed as he still lay on the floor with bits of glass around him.

"You are a Warrior, but you don't lead these people. I think it's because you are much more volatile than the leader. You seem to only agitate them. Why are you here?" IIlyria asked as Spike tried to get up.

"You've gotta hand it to her; she does ask good questions," Angel said as he pulled Spike of the ground.

"It's not a girl. It's not Fred. It's no good. Have you lost your mind?" Spike sneered at his Sire as Angel let go of him.

"Go home, Spike. Patrol the streets. Play the hero and go home," Angel said in a surprisingly soft way.

"What the hell are you all playing at I'd like to know?" Spike demanded as he left.

He didn't get an answer. He did go home though. Straight home. He did not pass go; he did not collect two hundred dollars. He found himself feeling odd. He didn't want to find evil things to beat on in order to save people he didn't know. He was having a hard enough time doing that with people he did know. He knew the next big fight was here. He could feel it, as he always could feel when big things were about to come. But, maybe his place wasn't here if everyone around him was going to turn a blind eye to the big fight. He needed something to work with here, for God sake!

For now being a lone wolf would have to do until he decided if he was going to go somewhere else or find a different set of idiots to work with. Spike had his ear to the ground as usual.

He heard there was a Slayer in town. She was a rogue, chasing something big and bad. Of course, Spike kept this news to himself. It was easy enough to do; everyone was in such a state over Fred, and fucking Percy bringing IIlyria into Wolfram as if she were to be a bloody employee.

Spike thought it had to be some green Slayer that had gotten all cocky and disobeyed Buffy and went out on her own. As Spike checked his voice mail he heard that one of his connections, Frick, had called him. He said he had the Slayer. Frick said they had found her "beaten in a way to stay alive and feel the sting of pain." Well, that would teach the girl that not every Slayer was Buffy and that she best go back under Buffy's tutelage.

Spike called Frick and asked for more details. He said she had dark hair. All she did was mumble letters and colors. Spike thought maybe the crazy Slayer, Dana had escaped, and she was coming back home to do more damage, but that didn't make much sense. There would be reports of her doing damage in the news. There was just the usual on the telle. A shooting here and there in downtown, a middle aged man on his Viagra kick tortured and killed along with his lovely young wife (that had to be the Ex-wife), and the usual trash talk of all the Yank politicians. Oh yeah, Frick said something else the Slayer did mention one name that made sense--Dracula. Now Spike was more than a little interested.

"Eh," Frick sighed, "I don't know if it means much, Man. I have a theory that this beating she took brought her back to her Sesame Street' days, and she's just watching all the numbers and letters and that Count Dracula puppet in her head."

"No, Mate. Drac wasn't on the public access channel with that stuff for bits," Spike said.

"Yeah he was. Well, it wasn't him, but they have that cute little puppet that counts. You know: one bat Oowoo-woo, Ha, ha, ha. Two bats Oowoo-woo--"

"I know!" Spike grumbled, "Spare me the impression, okay? The bloody puppet's name wasn't Dracula. He was just called The Count.' Now did she mention Drac, or did she say The Count?"

"Man, I don't remember. I'm kinda high right now. Look do you want her or not? I don't want her when the thing that did this comes back for her, or when she starts to come to a little more. She may like Sesame Street but she also seems to have a temper. In her one full conscious moment she came a little too close to clawing my eyes out," Frick grumbled.

"Eh, if you were able to stop her from clawing her eyes out what makes you think she's a Slayer? Maybe the poor thing is just a regular beat upon girl. Take her to a hospital," Spike sighed.

"Trust me. I have my sources. She's one of em. Look, if you don't want her I know plenty of people that would love a Slayer in an almost coma," Frick said.

"You asshole! You're gonna sell a beat-up girl to some demons, and say she's a Slayer unless I come and get her!" Spike grumbled.

"She is a Slayer. Hey, you know me. I'm a good guy, Spike. But, times are getting tough and I have to go where opportunity takes me," Frick said.

"God!" Spike scowled into the phone, "What is it with this town? You know a place is in trouble when all the heroes are chasing the dollar, and I have to be Mr. Do-Right."

"So, does that mean you're coming, Dudley? If you are, hurry up, because I don't know how many more Sesame Street episodes she has in her head, and when she does come to she tries to bolt," Frick said.

"So, you really think her mentioning Drac was the bloody puppet? Maybe you're right. It's not bloody likely that Drac would come back to the States after last time. Hey! Is she talkin' about any of the puppets on that show that turned out to be evil?" Spike asked.

"Spike, just get here and see for yourself. I can't have her here much longer. I hate the sight of blood and she's been cut up all over. It's really sick, man," Frick said.

"Right," Spike said, "Oh and if I found out you had anything to do with makin' her the way she is, I'll kill you slow."

"Spike, c'mon," Frick gasped, "I'm a lover not a fighter."

"If I smell that you were a lover on her while she was unconscious, I'll take all your off your naughty parts and dissect them in front of you," Spike said.

"Jesus! Spike, I just ate. Just get here," Frick said before he hung up the phone.

Spike knew Frick was not capable of the things he had just accused him of, but he was still something of a slime. Spike was sure he was playing the angle of their being a Slayer in town, and he had found some poor semi-conscious girl in the street. Now Frick was gonna try to get a favor out of Spike by saying this was a Slayer. Pity. If it had been a Slayer Spike would have given the little girl a sizable lecture about how lucky she was to be alive. He would have said that Buffy may seem like a blow-hard at times, but Buffy was their leader for a reason. He'd say that the world was a hard cruel place, and she better go back with her troops if she wanted to be apart of fighting in it. Oh well, maybe it was for the best. If he had found a Slayer and sent them back to Buffy, she would only confirm that Spike was alive. He couldn't play the masked man hero. He wasn't Angel. He actually had a personality, and Buffy would have known it was him that saved one of her girls. Than Buffy would either do nothing about him being alive in LA, or something and both were things Spike did not want to face yet.

Spike got to Frick's and he saw her. It was her, lying there. His face fell. He dropped to his knees by her bed-side.

"What? What? I told you it was bad. I just figured you'd seen and done worse," Frick said.

"Bugger," Spike whispered.

Spike didn't know her very well. He wasn't even sure if he liked her all that much. He had liked her very much in the beginning, but then something happened. She brassed him off. Spike couldn't remember how now, but she had brassed him off. He didn't know the Slayer well enough to remember her smell.

"Man, what is it? Do you know her or something? Oh man! She isn't the one that you banged, is she? Damn...of course she is. That totally makes sense. Dude, I'm real sorry. But, she'll be all right, right?" Frick rambled on nervously now as Spike looked over the girl.

He wasn't even sure if it was her at first because her face was so badly beaten, but an instant later he knew it was. He checked her arm for the tattoo, and his face didn't even sink a second time when he saw it there on her arm, the black tribal etchings against the soft white skin. He knew it was her before the tattoo because he would have recognized that body anywhere. Short, compact but lean, perfect round breasts in a tight black shirt.

"Bugger," he repeated and slowly got up.

"I mean, she'll be okay. She's a Slayer, right?" Frick asked.

He looked like a sad body-building Woodland creature--literally. He had an average sized extremely over muscled human body and his brown eyes with their long lashes showed no white in them. Frick's clan of demons were all over LA. They often passed for human when they covered up their ridged earlobes, and Hollywood thought they were so pretty. They often played action heroes. But, all that natural muscle didn't do much good against Spike when he was this angry.

"You have thirty seconds to tell me what it is you're not telling me so I hope, for your sake, it isn't a lot," Spike said in vampire face as he pushed Frick into his wall.

"Spike, you're my friend, man. You knew I was kidding when I said I was gonna sell her to someone else, right?" Frick said nervously.

"20...19...18..., Look who the real Count is, only I am much more violent when I get to zero than the puppet or Drac combined," Spike said.

"I don't think either of them have violence as their thing. Dracula just messes with your head before he feeds on you and the puppet---" Frick babbled.

"10...9...8..." Spike said as he grabbed Frick's throat.

"Dracula, gotta get... He got her," the Slayer moaned painfully as if Frick's mention of Drac made her stir some.

"See, Dracula...She says Dracula' I told you that, and then she starts in with the numbers, the-the letters, and the colors, man. I told you that too," Frick said.

"5..4..3..2--" Spike continued.

"Two. Two ways to save her. Two ways to bring her back. Two, two, and then three, "The Slayer said this like she was arguing with someone.

"See," Frick said.

"Oh, look at that," Spike smiled in vamp face, "All this talking brought us past zero. Too bad it's not the talk I'm after."

He punched the demon in the face.

"Okay!" Frick pleaded.

"She came to town and she hired a couple of my boys to help her bring down a vampire," Frick said.

"She hired some demons to help her bring down Drac? That makes no bloody sense! You better stop lyin' to me," Spike threatened.

"It wasn't Dracula. She said it was a vampire, but I don't know. I think it was something else. Something way worse and she didn't want to be straight with the boys about what it was. I feel sorry for you if you have a thing for this girl. She's no Sweetheart. She threatened and beat-up a lot of demons and people to keep it quiet that she was here. She said if anyone leaked it out to that company that you work for, she'd kill them. She really did not want you to know she was here, Dude," Frick sighed in relief as Spike relaxed his hold on the demon.

"Bloody hell," Spike grumbled and went over to the Slayer's bed-side where she now laid unconscious again.

"What have you gone and done, you little Bitch? Still tryin' to prove you're as good as Buffy. Well, you're not. You thought you could handle some big bad on your own. Looks like I'm gonna get to give my little unity speech after all. Wake-up, Coma girl! This bullocks may work with Buffy, but it won't with me, Faith," Spike grumbled as he grabbed her arms and shook her.

"B!" she yelped but her eyes were still shut.

"There she goes with the letters, I told ya. She says the numbers, but she seems to be really upset at the letters and the colors," Frick said.

"What the bloody hell are you talking about?" Spike demanded.

"B," Faith cried now and opened her eyes.

"Oh Man," Frick sighed, "I really hope she isn't going to keep saying b' over and over now like when they first brought her in here."

"What did you do to, Buffy? You Bitch!" Spike yelled now.

"I let her go. Killing is wrong," she said. Then she opened her swollen eyes. "Spike!"

"That's right. Now tell me what you did to Buffy."

"We can't do it your way," Faith shook her beat up head at him and now was rising up out of the bed.

"There's where you're wrong. There's only my way. What did you do to Buffy?"

"Red said we can't do it your way, the fighting way. She doesn't want to fight for it, so we'll do it the other way. It'll all be five by five. I have to go get her is all," Faith said in a cheerful almost child-like way. She was clearly not herself. She was in some state of disorientation, and she wasn't shining it on. This girl couldn't fake cheerful and child-like. She'd have to be beaten into it.

"Well, I can see this is a private conversation between you two love-birds, so I'll leave you alone. See, I'm a good guy. I'll let you use my place," Frick said nervously before running out. He was a man that knew when he was out of his depth.

Faith was now trying to stagger out of the place too.

"I don't think so," Spike said as he grabbed the girl around her waste. She fell back on him. She was lean and soft and smelled of her own blood, and someone else's that he knew well.

"No! Let me go! I have to get her before they find her first," She screamed. He had no idea that Faith had a shrill girl scream like that in her. It almost made Spike feel sorry for her when she started to cry.

"All right," Spike said slowly, "You're still alive for two reasons. Number one it seems like Buffy beat on you way worse than you beat on her, and number two you can tell me where she is."

"Red said I can't tell. You could be with them," Faith whispered now.

"Who? Wolfram and Hart?"

"No, The New Council. The Old Council. Same difference. They kill us bad girls. Red said they could get to you. So, we have to take care of B alone. Bad girls unite," Faith was whispering like a drunken school girl with a secret. She was still trying to weakly run from his grip on her waste.

"Right, this whole little girl delirious number was much cuter on Drusilla. Red would never hurt Buffy," Spike said.

"Red will make it right, but, I--I am the one to bring her back," Faith said.

Spike's insides felt like someone had poured holy water on them, and they were melting away and sliding down the shell of his outsides. Spike sat down on the bed with his arms still around Faith's waste. It made it so she was sitting in his lap.

"Can't play with you, Stud," Faith laughed as she was forced to sit on Spike, "Gotta go save B."

"Faith, is Buffy dead?" Spike asked in dread.

"No, you can't kill her. It's wrong!" Faith began to cry again.

"Faith, did Dracula kill Buffy?" Spike asked with a swallow.

"No!" Faith wailed now, "She's not dead. There are two ways. Two ways to get a vamp their soul. Red said we can only do it the one way. Then there will be three of you. Three of you. It'll be five by five."

Frick was right. She went on about letters, colors, numbers, and Drac. What he didn't realize was that it was no trip back to kiddie land on the telle. Much like Drusilla, Faith was talking in a code in her state, and in that code was the whole sodding wretched tale. B and Drac; Red and two and then three. Spike wondered what five by five was. Then he realized it was the old radio code. Sometimes cops still used it, and Spike knew Faith had spent some time around them. Five by five- everything was all right. Everything was not bloody all right.

You're never gonna find him! Not before he gets to her. That's what Spike had said to Captain Cardboard about Dracula. That seemed like ages ago. He was powerless with that chip and was down a soul back then, but he was right. He knew he was bloody right. What he didn't know, what he should have realized, was that Drac wasn't about to give up. Not with a creature as fine as Buffy. He had been humiliated and dusted twice, and Drac wasn't going to let that stand. Spike told Buffy that Drac couldn't have been dead, that as tacky as he was with his smoke and mirrors truly killing him had to be harder than that. I Euro-trashed him twice. I saw smoke like he was thinking of rising again, but then he decided against it. Decided against it! Like Drac would just choose to stay smoke forever because of her. This is where Buffy was so naive. You didn't decide to stay nothing because of her; you rose up and became something better and greater because of her. Accept Drac's idea of becoming something better wasn't to get a soul. He had a bit of Angel's style; it was all about me, me, me.

Why hadn't Spike seen this coming? He knew best how Buffy went weak for the bad boy monsters that called for her. He should have bloody done something, damn it! He wasn't even doing anything now. He was just sitting in his place crying like he had done when Buffy had died. He cried quietly as to not wake the beat up Slayer that laid unconscious in his bed now. But, he knew there was still hope, still something that could be done. Maybe that's why Spike had stayed up staring at this dark haired bitch of a Slayer. He knew that with all of Angel's Wolfram and Hart connections, and all of Rupert's white hat connections the only one that was really going to be able to make it possible to save Buffy was Faith.

Faith knew how Buffy would think now that she was a vampire. This Slayer had always fancied herself as Buffy's darker half, but now the light half had turned black. Spike really hoped this girl was up to the challenge. Things didn't seem like they were off to a pleasing start, did they?

He wasn't sure how oriented Faith was. She seemed to go in and out. Sometimes she seemed to know Spike and tell him how it was going to be all right, or how they couldn't do it his way (whatever that meant.) But, when he asked her real questions like where Red was or why Red hadn't just done the bloody ensouling spell already she could never answer. But, Faith's one track mind did remain on one thing--Buffy. Had to get B; had to save B; B wasn't dead. If Spike was anyone else he would have gotten sick of hearing the letter "B" too. As he wasn't anyone else, he was liking Faith more and more. She was a very determined girl. She bolted up out of the bed several times the minute she got some strength in her fevered head. She wanted to go save B, damn it! Spike would have to toss her back in the bed and explain that it wasn't time for that now, but soon it would come. He was reminded again of Dru, who would often be weak after a vision and get it in her head that it was a fabulous idea to wander off in that state. However, with Dru it had all been a fun game. Faith was angry and miserable, and Spike was surprised at how miserable this made him. Well, she was the Slayer that would save Buffy.

Faith had been tossing and turning and crying a little all night herself. Spike had given her Aspirin and she had looked at him with suspicious delirium, like she wasn't quite sure of who he was. But, then when he offered to take her to Wolfram and Hart so she could get some real medical care she had bolted up.

"No! No Angel!" she objected furiously, and then started to cry.

If only more girls he knew had that reaction to his Grand-Sire he'd be happier. But, he hadn't really liked to see her crying. He'd of thought that Faith's tear ducts had hardened long ago. It brought him back to the reality and horror of the situation. This wasn't just another fine mess. This wasn't just the end of the world. This was something much worse. It made Spike cry again himself.

"Vamps cry?" Faith half asked him or herself in her beat upon state that was definitely getting better than before. However, it didn't look like she liked finding out the fact that Vamps cried. As she looked at him with her one good eye that wasn't swollen up, her scratched up forehead creased with more lines of confusion. Her bloody lips pouted.

"Don't. Between me an' her. It's five by five," the Slayer said groggily, and she reached out and touched Spike's arm.

Spike was pretty sure Faith was trying to be soothing. He was surprised she would even attempt such a thing. Of course, if she wanted to be any good at it she had to start making sense. Faith had made enough sense for him to put two and two together though, and he knew it was four no matter what. Maybe the girl was crying at the thought of seeing Angel because Faith knew he would refuse to accept her painful semi-conscious whispers as the truth and he would demand she wake up and recite the whole tale.

Spike didn't want to hear the details of how Dracula had turned Buffy and how certain Slayers wanted to kill their leader because she had turned into the enemy. Buffy had turned into the enemy that she had trusted and believed in when she saw there was still good inside. She believed in the enemy when there was just a scrap of good left. Of course, it had been Faith that knew this and somehow had not allowed them to kill Buffy.

"Sorry, sorry," Spike muttered as he took off Faith's jeans and her little black top. She was whining in her sleep. It was probably painful for her to be tugged at, but he couldn't stand it anymore. The clothes were blood filled and dirty with other things. They had the slight smell of Buffy on them. It was feint, but he couldn't take it.

"You said you wouldn't anymore if I was good," Faith whispered, or at least that's what he thought he heard.

"Hey," he said, "I'm not tryin' to be fresh. I just thought I'd take these things off and wash the blood off you, but--but, I guess not, if it's gonna...trigger... bad things."

"Very bad things," she echoed as her eyes were shut.

He didn't know how he could possibly feel any worse, and then he did. Not only was the love of his life turned into an evil monster by the ultimate Euro-trash hack, but he had accused the girl trying to save her of trying to off her. On top of that, the girl was feeling violated by him now.

"Sorry," he said.

"Sorry don't mean shit," she said with a kind of drunken laughter as she opened her eyes.

"Don't I know it. S'why I never say it. You're one of a very few lucky ladies to get that word out of a bad boy like me," he told her. He wasn't sure how together she was, but it hadn't stopped him from talking

"You're not so bad. You're a cool vampire. B knows all the cool vampires," she said.

He looked deeply into her eyes now to try to suss out if she was as oriented as she seemed. She seemed all there now. He looked at her body that he had stripped down to its skivvies. Someone was very into repetitive punching in soft places; Spike knew who that someone was. But, Buffy had made it so Faith would heal.

"Staring problem?" Faith grumbled with some expression between a sneer and a grin. Oh yeah. The bitch was fully back. Spike smiled.

"No, jus' taking stock of your wounds--how you feeling?" he asked.

"Like a hostage."

"Fair enough. Just featured you'd still be sore."

"I'm good. Better than when you dragged me in here, and apparently still breathin' so, can't really complain."

"You were tossing about all night, you sleep okay?"

"Not really, pain kind'a an intrusion on the whole sleep concept. What's with you and the twenty questions anyway?"

"Just wanted to see if you were really here with me is all," he sighed heavily.

"Here I am, though I can't really claim that I'll rock you like a hurricane," she sighed back.

"Making references to really bloody awful bands, though. Maybe you're still a bit daft," he found himself smiling.

"Hey! I love The Scorpions, shut up," she smiled broadly.

"Oh, no," Spike laughed heartily, "She's permanently damaged. A bloody tragedy."

He was remembering the last time they talked now. Buffy had been jealous in an awful way. He and Faith had laughed a lot over fluffy matters like this. He didn't feel as guilty laughing with Faith then. It had only been the end of the world after all; Buffy had been all right.

"You want me to wash some of the blood off you. You'll feel better. Maybe you'll actually sleep. You need sleep for what's ahead," he said.

"When ever I come here I get sticky. It really sucks," she said.

He took that as a "yes" and got all his little nurse-maid materials to wash her. He started off with her face because that was the biggest mess and then did what he could without moving her about too much.

"Spike," she smiled, "Alive and well...Pulled a Jesus and is living in LA."

"That's me," he laughed, "Though if I was Jesus I'd have a lot more money now and daft people following me about.

That's more Angel's gig."

She laughed, and then winced in pain. He couldn't believe they were joking, but they were-- still. This one did have a way with the forthright humor. He was glad she was coming back to herself.

"But, you're being saintly with a girl in your bed. You said you didn't want to get fresh. The Messiah deals well with temptation," she said.

"I like em' a bit less immobilized and bloody these days," he smiled.

"I'm still lively...I could ride you to a gallop until you popped like warm champagne," she laughed sheepishly as if she dared herself to say it.

"You stop that talk, or I'll stick this soapy rag in your mouth," he laughed.

"Kinky," she said.

"Well, someone is back to themselves at least in the mind, as dirty as ever. But you're saying it all wrong. It was ride me at a gallop until my legs buckled and my eyes rolled up. That you had muscles I never even dreamed of, that you could squeeze me until I popped like warm champagne," he said as he was drying her off. He had done a decent job, and he hadn't seemed to hurt her.

"Wow, I said all that?" she asked.

"And more," he said.

"Damn, I am so good," she smiled. "Do you remember everything people tell you?"

"Only the important things," he sighed, "Now get some real sleep."

"I wish I could, but I can't. I have to go get B," she said and swiveled out of the bed.

"Are you mad?" he said as he felt his forehead wrinkle, "You have a half a day of healing left at least."

"Hello? I'm a Slayer. Can I borrow some clothes?" she asked as she stood up in her skivvies now.

"Yeah, hello. If you weren't a Slayer you'd have months of healing to do," he said as he stood up to face her.

"The longer I wait the longer B is out there in danger," Faith said.

"Love," Spike laughed, "Buffy is a Slayer that now has the compounded strength up a bloody vampire. If it works like that."

"Oh yeah, take a look at me and the five other demons she beat down, and trust me it works like that," Faith said as she rolled her blackened eyes.

"So, she is not in any danger," Spike sighed, the misery of the situation coming back to him.

"You don't understand!" Faith demanded, "The longer she's out there all evil and crazy like that, the worse she'll feel about it later and I don't want her to go through that. She doesn't deserve it."

"That's very noble," Spike said seriously, but then added, "But, throwing yourself to the slaughter is all you'd be doing if you left to find her in this state. Besides, it's daylight. She can't be hurting anyone now."

"Unless she has human minions dragging people underground or if she's devising some kind of diabolical plan. I really never thought about the kind of vampire she would be. You think that thought would have come to me once or twice. I guess, when you're better we should stake out all the shopping malls and shoe stores. She'll be killing clerks and pushy shoppers left and right," Spike continued.

"Spike!" Faith exclaimed, "This is serious shit!"

"I am completely serious," he said truthfully.

"You don't want to face the truth. I'm outta here," she said.

Spike really wondered if she was going to walk out to find Buffy and fight her bruised up in her underwear.

"I can't face the truth! Okay, Jack bloody Nicholson. I'm just a vampire, albeit one of the finest, but I'd say Buffy is a lot stronger than me right now. Get past me and you're free to go," he said.

He really expected her to hit him a couple of times before he got her back to the bed.

"Fuck you," was all she said and she looked down and her eyes got misty.

"Well, you don't have to spill salt over it. Tomorrow you'll be ready to fight and I'll be with you," he assured as he got her back into bed.

"I'm not--- Spike, don't you get it! Buffy is a vamp. She has no soul. She's out there killing because of me and---"

"It's not you're fault. You couldn't let those other Slayer bitches kill her. So, a few snippy little clothes horses lose their lives, while Buffy isn't herself. How many people has Buffy kept alive? She'd have to destroy the world seven times over to erase the good she has done," Spike eased.

"Giles," Faith said.

"Buffy killed Rupert," Spike felt his face fall.

Why would she do that? That would be like killing her father. Spike knew that most vampires did that, but Spike had never wanted to kill his Mum. He never even wanted to hurt her, but of course...

"No, not even she could get to him, or Dawn, all the Slayers have them very well guarded," Faith said miserably.

"Well that's great but--" Spike began with a relieved sigh until Faith cut him off.

"It wasn't the Slayer bitches that wanted Buffy killed, for the most part. It was Giles. He had all the green Slayers capture her, but then I---"

"What!" Spike roared, "I knew that bloody Wanker would backstab me, but to do it to her?"

"He says it's--she's not B. That B is dead, and now all that's left is..." Faith's voice trailed off so she wouldn't cry.

"Well, I think I'm learning that some people's bloody darkness is even a little brighter than some Git's holier that thou lightness!" Spike grumbled.

"It doesn't seem like he's got the stake rammed up his channel about this. He seems so --so sad," Faith said.

"Well, he'll be a lot sadder when I get through with him. If Buffy was nothing but evil she would have found a way to kill him. She--she would have killed you. She left you alive, right? She purposely left you alive to suffer. And you two didn't have the best of the best relationships, if she was going to kill anyone it would have been you, right?" Spike said.

Faith didn't respond. He realized she was struggling to not cry.

"Oh bloody--I didn't mean it that way. I'm sorry. I'm a thoughtless bastard at times," he said.

"I'm getting that. Are there times when you're not?" She asked, "Look, you are one naive Fucker."

"Funny, I don't remember being the one trying to run out with half a concussion to capture a vampire Slayer vampire in my skivvies," he said to her ass as she bent down to look for her clothes.

"It's bad, man, it's bad. You gotta be ready if you wanna help me," she told him as she seemed to decide that any clothing would do.

Faith put on a pair of his jeans. They were baggy like the whole hip-hop look but they fit. Buffy was the only girl that would probably ever swim in his jeans. She tried them that time she was invisible, and they kept falling down. She had laughed and even tripped in them. Look, I'm one of those commercials where all they have are the dancing jeans. Of course those jeans wouldn't have nasty sex stains on them. Hey, they're not staying up! Well, there goes another career idea. I can't even be a good invisible model. I mean, how hard is that?

"I know what Buffy is like when she's on the dark side, and I know you running out in a beat-up state won't help," Spike said firmly.

"No you don't, Dude. She's--she's mean. She had ideas. She says things," Faith warned as she closed her eyes.

"Assuming she' is Buffy and not Martha Stewart, Of course, love, she's a vampire. She's not just Buffy with new teeth and wrinklies. I'm sure she's said things, horrible things, and even got a few people, but it's that worth losing her over?" Spike said.

"She killed her father, and his wife. She tortured them, made them go out slow," Faith said opening her eyes to him.

They were healing quite nicely.

"Her real father?" Spike grumbled, "Well, that rat Bastard had it coming. He's lucky I never paid him a visit. Well, I guess he's not lucky. But, you have to expect that, love. I'm sorry the wife got in the way."

"She killed two people--people that I loved, but that-that's okay. I can forgive her," Faith said closing her eyes again.

"Damn right you can. You owe her that much," Spike insisted "Who did she kill? Slayers that got in her way?"

"I'm not sayin' that I don't wanna save her. I'm just sayin' be ready," Faith said with a serious pout. Spike didn't know a pout could look so serious.

"Look, when this is all over, she'll have you to thank for all of it. You'll finally be even," Spike said.

"That's not why I'm fucking doing it!" she roared in that shrill voice again and then she was storming out in his jeans. She grabbed a shirt of his in her hands.

He grabbed her to stop her. There was a bit of a struggle, but not that much since she was still injured and blinded by tears. He had a bloody lip when it was over. He had made sure he never hit her. He just put all his efforts to holding her down on the bed, which is where she really wanted to be. Spike remembered playing the same game with Buffy, but they hadn't been doing it for any of the same reasons. Faith breathed heavily under him, and looked up at him with angry pleading eyes. They were also undoubtedly beautiful. All right, so maybe the reasons they were playing this game were the same reasons he had played it with Buffy.

They were only human, or she was. Faith was the only human one left, and she did look so human as she lay under him. Afraid and angry, but not at him -not really. She was very warm. When she breathed in you could see a hint of rib. Her perfect breasts held snugly in that cheap black bra that had blood on it. She was trying so hard, wasn't she? And she wasn't trying to be the best in her class, that role was taken. Faith was trying to save the best in her class because the best had fallen. Fallen for something vane and one-dimensional, something that she herself could see right through in a second because she hadn't been the hero and she learned the hard way. She knew that nothing that glittered was gold, and she was going to save the hero from the bad shiny thing. She wasn't going to be all superior about it either. She was going to laugh while she did it, and at least try to have a good time, and sometimes be a right bitch, because she wasn't the sodding hero. But, she was afraid she had to be, and she felt she couldn't be because she was never good at telling the rest of the folk that it was all going to be all right like heroes did.

"It's all right, Faith. It'll be all right," Spike said as he let go of her writs and held her hands while he knelt over her.

"No, it's really not. It's really all wrong," she said with tears in her eyes.

He moved down to kiss her. She bolted up so quickly that he thought she was going to object. What are you doing? But, she only met up to meet his lips hungrily. At first she kissed roughly like he was the plate of secret food all the other starving people wanted and she better get it all up quick or someone would take it away. But, when he put his arms around her and rolled her on top her kisses became soft and deep.

"It'll be all right, love," he kept repeating.

She took his shirt off in one swoop and gave him a wicked smile. She pawed at his chest like she was sculpting it, like she had planed out the places she wanted to go on his body long ago. Nipples, chest, stomach, her hands, her lips her teeth. She made sure some part of her was always on his cock even before he could get his pants off. She had a hand down there as if there was a magnetic pull. She liked looking at it. She'd look down at it and then look up and smile, but then look away. A few times he grabbed her face to make her look at him. This always turned to kissing, and they'd both shut their eyes. Then she'd go back to staring at is cock. She was gentler with it than she was the rest of him. She teased him handling in fast than slow fast then slow as she kissed him and bit at him hard than soft hard than soft. He had stopped saying it was going to be all right because talking was no longer a priority. His mouth was locked in an open position his back arched so his body could go more into her mouth, her hands, her body.

"You think a boy carrying such a big stick would walk a little more softly," she whispered in his ear and she was playing with his cock with both hands fast now.

Brains. She had raw brains. Few women have nasty raw big brains. Special- she was.

"But I like the way you walk. Stomp loud and scare the assholes away," She was talking still.

Saying she liked him, but...But, he had to prove himself. Prove he wasn't just a boy stomping his feet. He was a man, a man who could do things, if she let him. Underwear was so bloody annoying. He couldn't get the damn things off with her insisting on playing with his cock constantly. He ripped them off. Faith laughed. Her laugh started to get nervous as he opened the lips of her cunny to take a peak. It was a fine one, all wet and wanting. Who hurt such a sweet beautiful thing? Pet it until it feels better. A girl's loopy high voice said to him inside his head. There, there cunny. Let Spike get inside and have a rub. The cunny wanted it but Faith wasn't so sure. She laughed nervously as she knelt back. She put all her energy into stroking him now. A master of diversion she was. Spike had his fingers playing with the cunny fighting through the pleasure of wanting to just lye back. Fighting-- so much better than lying still. Oh God, fighting was the best bloody thing in the world. He was going to have to really fight later. It was bloody awful out in the other world, but no matter now he was in this world.

Faith was moaning a low throaty moan as her hands relaxed around his cock. Yes, he wanted to be able to have a clear head when he proved himself. He wanted to see it. She seemed to want to go back to playing with his cock. But, he took his free arm and pushed her down to lie on her side.

"There you go," he said as she seemed to gasp in surprise as his thumb rubbed her clit and his other fingers were inside her. He loved feeling the cunny grip his hand and release it only to grip it again. And this was quite an impressive one. Faith had a grip like a Chinese finger trap.

"Fuck. Oh God..Fuck," She whispered with her eyes shut tight.

"That's it baby. Feel it. Feel me. Spike makes everything good," he said.

"Too good. Too good," she said firmly grabbing his hand. He kept stroking the cunny as it shook.

"Good girl," he said. Her whole body shook. She let go of his hand and rapped both of her arms around him tight, tight, tight--like no one ever. She screamed. Then she started with the hungry kissing again this time with little whimpers in between.

"Want to squeeze you, ride you, pop you--all of that," she told him as she rolled him and straddled him quickly and roughly.

She surprised him by looking him straight in the face.

"Whatever you wish, love," he said.

"Do you want me to, really?" she asked rather seriously.

He reached up and smoothed her cheek.

"More than I wanted anything in a long time," he said, "Do you want me to beg? Because that's not a pro--"

She kissed him hard and sloppily. She licked his lips. Then she quickly impaled herself on his cock before he expected it. He grunted in surprise and pleasure. He unhooked her bra which he couldn't believe had stayed on.

"No," she objected softly and went to hook it back up, but as he thrust under her slowly and deeply, she forgot about it. He reached up to touch her perfect breasts as she kept with his slow deep pace.

"Don't pinch," she said as she felt his hands go to her breast. He grabbed them up each and squeezed them gently.

"MMm. Like that," she said and he felt her cunny relax around him and he felt like he' d been let into a warm heavenly room.

His mouth locked open again as they began to buck more violently. He loved her moaning- the way it sometimes sounded just like her raspy voice and other times it sounded nothing like her - a high whimper. He was surrounded by warm strong Slayer. She was lying fully on top of him and he took a nipple in his mouth. She was wailing in pleasure now; the opposite of what she had been doing last night. Faith was riding him for the broken beast that he was, and she wanted all he could give. He found he wasn't all that broken. He was giving her quite a ride. She was shaking over him, around him, it twitched his cock while she rode it. Ah, blood, nothing but blood pumping away with pleasure. No brains nothing else needed. He gave all. He got back , and it had lasted, and lasted, and it was still going as she tightened around him. Faith's cunny would never release him if it was all up to that. He would be the hostage forever. With that he roared and roared in coming.

Spike remembered now. Remembered he had forgotten Buffy- turned, out there, alone. He would feel as horrid as he did when he had been alone in the basement, only he wasn't alone. He still had his arms around Faith. She tried to roll off of him, but he held tight to her, but not too tight. He expected her to really push him away, but to his surprise she didn't. She laid on top of him now. Her face in his neck. Spike felt something creaking under him. It was the bed bitching. It had never before seen such abuse. He heard it make that familiar sod you I've had it sound.

"Oh, here we go," he rolled his eyes, and a second later the bed crashed to the floor.

"What the fuck was that?" Faith exclaimed as she shot up as if someone stuck her with a pin and she was going to kill them for it. She had clung to him tightly for a second as the bed fell. Buffy used to just laugh as she lay on her far end of the bed.

"Relax, love. It's just the bed getting revenge," Spike said.

"Holy shit!" She said still startled, "You must have got it from Ikea."

"You mean you never broke a bed before?" He asked with a raised eyebrow.

"You mean you have?" she asked.

"Well, yeah. I'm surprised you never have," he said.

"Well...everyone else has been human, though sometimes I wasn't sure I may have done it with a few zombies that I thought were just potheads," she said.

"That doesn't surprise me," Spike sighed.

"Yeah, well they don't call me a big slut for nothin'. I guess I'll get going. You mind if I take a shower?" she asked as if they had met at a bar.

"Gee, yeah. Maybe we can do it again next week when you get almost beaten to death by another vampire we're trying to ensoul. Where the bloody hell are you going?" he demanded.

"Look, I know I screwed up again, you didn't exactly stop me, ya know? Red and I are at this witch's house. I'll go there and I'll call you later," she said.

"You're kidding, right? You think I'm going to just let you walk off with Red and not make sure this all goes smoothly," he said.

"Well, you're doing a great job so far, Mr. Smooth. Look, you and I should just stay away from each other," Faith grumbled.

"You seemed pretty into the idea of staying near me a few minutes ago," he folded his arms.

"And he takes his first swing, which is exactly why I'm leaving. I don't need someone to give me shit about how I betrayed B after I rocked their world," she said as she looked at her shoes that she put on with his clothes.

"What are you talking about? I think you are the only person not betraying Buffy. True, I never thought I'd hear myself say that , but being that everyone else wants to bloody off her because she fell for Drac the second time---"

"I mean because I just fucked you," She grumbled.

"What?" he said "That's crazy. Buffy and I haven't been together in ages and I think I shagged you just as good as you shagged me. In fact I know I did."

"None of that matters chicks just always blame the other girl," she sighed.

"You watch too much Jerry Springer, love. I can't believe you are going to let this high school bullocks get in the way of saving Buffy. Look, say what you want, but you know I have a right to help Buffy, and it seems like my help is needed," he said.

"I know," she actually conceded, "We need all the help we can get, and there is someone else that has a right to help."

"Oh bugger!" Spike spat, "No, no, and no"

"High school bullocks anyone?" Faith said with folded arms.

"Things have gone round the bend there as it is."

"Red is scared. She doesn't trust Angel, but I do."

"Well, I bloody don't!"

"Fine, but do you really think Angel wouldn't do everything in his power to help B, just like you? And, hate to tell you Brit, but GQ has a lot more power than you," Faith said.

"Oh is that so? Well, I think you experienced a bit of my power a few minutes ago; I'd like to see Angel...Well, I wouldn't like to see Angel---"

"Dude, this is not a pissing contest; this is B's life!"

"Right, and what's Angel gonna do about it, besides go into a pout and lock himself away somewhere. Whenever Buffy has any real trouble he freezes up, unless he just breezes into town to lock lips with her and give me jewelry that kills me," Spike sighed.

"Doesn't Angel have a bunch of lawyers under his thumb now? Not that that does any good, but can't he hire bad-asses to help him with B and in return promise to get them off or something?"

"That awful place actually sounds fun when you put it that way," Spike sighed, "Right, let 's go then."

"Where?"

"To the big bad evil incorporated, of course."

"You mean where just gonna go there?" Faith asked.

"You were the one that said it was the good idea," Spike rolled his eyes.

"I--I can't just walk in there and say: Hey, Angel. The love of your life is dead...again. Only this time her body walks and talks and does evil shit.'" Faith went white as a ghost.

"Was that what all this hiding was about; you didn't want to make ol' Angel sad?" Spike demanded.

"Yeah, well that and the fact that if The New Council realizes we're here they'll come and try to kill B. Red and I thought we could handle it. The few people knew the less ashamed B would be later, but after last night even I'm smart enough to know I was wrong," Faith shuddered.

"Yeah, she got you pretty bad," Spike said as he patted her shoulder.

"It was more than the beating," Faith said, "But, it's over now. Time to face the next wave of shit."

"It's all coming in waves," Angel said miserably as he faced his office window, "They say it comes in threes, Cordy, Fred, and now Buffy."

"Angel, B's not--There's still hope. Red can do a spell, like the one she did with you," Faith said. Her eyes were wide, she looked worried. A different sort of worried than Spike had seen her look at his place.

"So, she can never know true happiness. So she can have a life like mine," Angel mumbled.

"As if she could ever be like your sorry ass. Besides, you seem to be doing all right for yourself with the sodding twelve cars and---"

"And the dying friends!" Angel turned and roared in Spike's face, "Don't push me, Spike. Not after you--- She deserves more." He recoiled back into his mumble.

"Look, we kinda don't have a lot of options right now. Red said going to Africa and fighting for it was out. B would have to be the one to fight for it and- trust me- she's not really in a soul-fighting space. So you and B will be two of a kind," Faith said to Angel's back . She was rocking back and forth on her feet like she was trying to get Angel to turn around.

"Pffft, Buffy will have more power than he ever dreamed, and she won't be troubled by having been an evil mass murderer for almost two centuries," Spike rolled his eyes.

"But, she's killing now, isn't she?" Angel asked turning to Faith.

Faith only nodded.

"Why am I ever surprised by your thickness?" Spike scoffed, "Of course she is! She's a bloody vampire. It's what we do."

"Buffy was pure, and now she's a vampire, and you're telling me her only chance to get back to who she was is to be cursed--cursed like me," Angel said.

"Pure," Spike muttered, "There he goes with that sodding 18th century crap."

"We all have to lose our purity sometime. Some of us just do it earlier than others. Cursed is better than nothing, Angel. Don't know if you noticed but being a Slayer and perfect happiness kinda have a whole oil in the water thing going on anyway," Faith almost smiled.

"Well, maybe if you made at least one good choice in your life you'd know something about being happy, and what do you know about purity?" Angel snapped.

What was this? He was snapping at Faith now. The poor girl looked slapped. Spike knew from the get-go that she was one of Angel's loyal followers, even though she saved his ass.

"Ey'!" Spike roared, "You owe this girl everything, and now you're gonna take it out on her because you wish Buffy was here instead of her? You really are a dick."

"I'm a dick? Really? Because I don't remember taking an opportunity to get in a Slayer' s pants, while the one I was so stuck on is in desperate need of help!" Angel roared.

"You told him we had sex?" Faith gasped.

"He can smell it. The bloody pervert," Spike rolled his eyes.

"Angel, I wasn't trying to hurt B," Faith pleaded.

"I don't care about any of that!" Angel spat, "It's you Faith. You knew Buffy was in trouble and you didn't tell me right away. I know to expect it from Giles and the others, but not you. You came to my city and hid from me. Instead you went to Spike and decided to have a good time while Buffy falls deeper into hell."

"Angel, it wasn't like that. B beat me down and Spike found me. He brought me back and took care of me--"

"I'm sure he did, that was time I could have had people on this. What is wrong with you? ...And you," Angel turned to Spike, "Just when I think there's one thing you're good for-loyalty to people you care about- you go off and be you're old self. Actually, you both did that, didn't you?"

"Angel, please, it wasn't like that," Faith's voice shook.

"That's it!" Spike roared. He grabbed Angel by his black button down as he turned into game face.

"I'd say that you we're going back to your old self, but both you and I know you only have the one!" Spike said as he hit Angel in the face, "It's just a switch from good to bad with you, but you always keep the bloody hypocrite no matter which side you go to."

He was surprised, but glad when Angel fell. Spike couldn't believe he let Angel's little lecture go as far as it did. He probably did because he expected Faith to know that Angel was going to lash out, and that she would just roll her eyes over it like he was anyone else. But, Angel was never just anyone else to any girl Spike ended up giving a toss about. It was Spike's curse. Well, at least he could have a good shag.

"Stop it!" Faith pleaded, "Angel."

She ran over to where the big poof had fallen. Bugger, he had finally learned how to take cave man down in one hit, and all he was going to get for it was upset women.

"I'm not the one who's forgetting who made me what I am!" Angel jumped up and hit Spike back. Spike grabbed Angel to take him down with him.

"You have nothing to do with what I am now," Spike said as they wrestled on the ground.

"Not me! You dumb-ass! Buffy. She made both of us into good men, well at least me, and now she's in trouble and you made sure you screwed all the Slayers you could before you came to tell me," Angel said as he got Spike on the ground.

"Didn't realize telling you made it all better. Wait a second. Seems it hasn't. In fact, it just has all seemed to get worse. You've seemed to have lost you're balls for fighting the good fight these days. But, I must admit it did have to take some balls to lecture me on the improper shagging of Slayers, at least I wait until they're of age," Spike said as he struggled to get up.

"I'll show you fighting balls," Angel roared and began to pound on Spike's face.

Then Spike felt sudden relief.

"Stop it!" Faith was pushing Angel away when Angel hit her.

Maybe it was because Faith hadn't healed or because Angel hit her really hard, but she fell hard. So hard it made even Angel stop and realize what a sodding Wanker he was being.

"Faith," Angel said in his best brooding voice, "I'm sorry."

"It's okay," she coughed.

Spike realized that Angel had sent the girl across the room. It was pretty bloody far from okay. Spike would like to see Buffy say it was okay after Angel had done that to her. Spike grabbed a brass bookend and smashed Angel in the head with it as he was getting up. He growled.

"Cock-sucking Wanker! Today is the last day you hurt one of my girls," Spike yelled.

Spike was sure now that he understood it better than ever. There was a light side and a dark side to everyone. Sometimes there were little bits of dark in the light, and sometimes the dark won over the light. Everyone's darkness and lightness was as different as their fingerprints. The light was the soul. Some people's darkness was as ineffectual as they were- like Harm. Some people's soul had been so strong that bits of light had to stick to them even after the soul had been taken, like Drusilla, as mad as she was she still knew something of love. But, some people's light just wasn't enough and they were sodding Wankers that hurt girls that love them and they should bloody die! No matter how much the girls wanted him alive.

"Spike, stop!" Faith yelled as Spike held a stake now over his Grand-Sire. He looked over at her to try to explain what he now understood in five words or less. This is when Angel started pummeling him again. Well, this was going to leave a mark.

Faith was trying to stop Angel again. Good girl as she was. She was pleading to him on the edge of tears. Knowing Angel, Spike knew this wasn't going to work, if anything he'd keep going to see how long it took to make her cry. How many men had Angelus killed in front of their women because it made the woman hurt worse? Helplessness is worse than death. But, Faith wasn't quite helpless. She grabbed hold of Angel's arms and held them. If Angel hurt her again he was a chapter in a history book. Spike was going to hit Angel as Faith held him.

"Separate!" he heard a firm little voice say. Spike felt himself go into a guided hurl until he was sitting against the wall.

He looked up and saw a lean slip of a figure. She was wearing shades of purple- light and dark. There was a long dark purple skirt, and a long light purple shirt with a smiling cat on it. Her eyes had gone a bit dark and angry, along with that and her autumn red hair her skin looked a deadly pale.

"Red, it's good to see you," Faith smiled now.

Spike saw that Faith was the only person who was standing where she had been. Angel was against the opposite wall.

"Yeah, but you should work on your message leaving skills : Hey, I almost died, and Spike brought me to his place, so now I think our only chance is Angel's company. Meet me there.' An address would have been nice," Red said with her hands on her hips.

"How could you not know where Evil incorporated is?" Faith asked with raised eyebrows.

"I never did business with evil. When I became it that one time I really didn't need to do business with anyone," she said.

Red looked like she was about ready to go out of business. Her face looked drawn. The dark circles under her eyes were so bad Spike thought that she had black eyes at first. The bags she had under them didn't help either. Spike was worried if Red was up to this challenge. Spike didn't see her new girl with her, the pretty mouthy brunette Slayer. Maybe she thought bringing one of those was enough. But, Spike was confused that instead of Harris tailing behind her she had Harm, Wesley, and the blue bitch.

"So, what's with all the near-killing? Oh God, did one of them turn evil too? Because, I'm really on the brink here," Red said wearily.

"No, they are pretty much like this all the time, and they're good," Harm told her, "I'm good too. I know, I know. I'm souly challenged, but so is Buffy now, so---"

"Get out of here before I smash you're face in," Red barked at Harm.

Harm opened her mouth to say something, when nothing came to her she closed it and stormed off.

"Hi guys," Willow smiled weakly, "I hope everyone has their ensoulling decoder rings."

"Willow, I don't understand," Wesley said.

"Um, that was just a joke. I'm trying to lighten the misery, I guess," Red said.

"No," Wesley said, "Why can't you just do the spell and give Buffy her soul back? Why do we have to capture her?"

That was a good question. Percy had his uses, though Spike was sure Red thought of that.

"Um.." Red said shakily.

"Tried that. It was a bust," Faith said as she played with some things on Angel's desk.

"Great," Angel muttered.

Spike felt again as he had when he first thought Buffy was dead again.

"But, there's no reason to lose hope. I figure if I get her closer to me, it has a better chance of working," Red said.

"We're talking about an ensouling spell and a vampire Slayer vampire, not a mobile phone and a receptacle tower. Maybe this can't be done," Spike said.

"You shut your fat mouth!" Red snapped.

"I know you're not talkin' about killing B," Faith said fiercely.

"Bloody Hell!" Spike gasped, "Of course not. We can just work with her the way she is. Get her, take her in, use some of that Wolfram and Hart technology to make it so she can't kill...But, no bloody chips in her head! Nothing painful."

"I knew coming here was a mistake," Red shook her head.

"Spike, you don't know," Faith said.

"That is the most idiotic plan I've ever heard, and I've spent a lot of time with Harmony lately," Wesley said.

"Harmony!" Red beamed suddenly, "You guys were able to take in and control Harmony. She' s pretty much the same person she was before with a small blood-lust problem, maybe."

"Right," Spike smiled, "and who doesn't have that."

"Sure," Red's tired face stretched into a smile.

"We're you guys calling me?" Harmony asked.

"Go away," Red ordered.

"You're all insane. That vampire isn't Buffy, and knowing her I highly doubt that she will be able to be controlled with out a soul," Wesley said.

"Since when do you know Buffy? And you can't have it both ways, if she isn't herself at all as a vampire how do you know she can't be controlled," Spike demanded.

"She's a Slayer that's been turned into a vampire. It's happened before and--- There's too much demon in her now. I am sorry," Wesley said.

"We have to get her soul back, Red," Faith said quietly.

"I do not understand. This Slayer, she is a warrior--like her," IIlyria gestured to Faith, "and now she has become a half-breed, like them. This will make her a more impressive fighter. This should be pleasing, since this...Slayer here seems to look injured."

"It's complex," Wesley answered IIlyria, "When a human becomes a vampire who they were ceases to be. Their soul is gone."

"This is what happened when the old Qwa'ha Xahan chose this shell for me. The shell--Fred--her soul was destroyed," IIlyria said. Spike actually saw her icy eyes blink. He didn't think they did.

"Great, just what we needed, questions from the anorexic 7 of 9. B's soul wasn't destroyed by some Borg bitch. We can still get it," Faith grumbled.

"And if it takes time we'll just keep watch on her here. She'll be a hell of a lot more knowledgeable and fun than Percy's toy," Spike said.

"IIlyria isn't evil," Wesley said.

"Right, she just killed Fred and wanted to raise an army of doom. She's a real great date," Spike said.

"How can these things be happening? The Hellmouth is gone. I made a whole army of Slayers. We were finally clear and free. We had the final battle. It was supposed to be over," Red said lowly.

"Our time is never up, Red. But, we can have drinking breaks, and I'm takin' one now," Faith said.

"You're leaving! How can you do that? How can you just leave?" Red gasped.

"Angel did," Faith sighed.

Spike looked and realized Angel was gone, and he was pretty sure he wasn't off trying to save the day.

"W-where did he go?" Red asked.

"Off to brood. Look Red, we can't do anymore tonight. Let Peaches have his time, and we'll start thinking about how to hook our girl. Why don't you try to get some sleep? Rest your magic aura or some such," Spike said, "As for me that drinking break sounds brilliant."

"Sorry, Brit. I kinda want to do this one solo," Faith shrugged.

"Why? You're not still sore I was gonna off your great hero that belted you across the room, are you?" Spike demanded.

"No," Faith rolled her eyes, "I'm still depressed that your Ex has been turned into a vampire that kicked my ass across the valley."

"Fair enough," Spike nodded, "But, it'll be all right, you'll see. Buffy always comes out on top...except when she came back wrong, but this won't be like that."

Spike found himself going straight home again. He really didn't feel like killing vampires for some reason. He thought of going drinking and going to that titty bar and saying "hi" to Sunshine, but he didn't. He wished Faith hadn't wanted to be alone. He had a lot of thoughts to suss out. He was sort of feeling up about the whole situation, as odd as that sounded. Sure, they weren't able to save Fred, and Wes had that creepy ice queen around because she remembered Fred's life. But, they would be able to get Buffy back. Spike even thought that now that Buffy had experienced darkness maybe, just maybe, she could really see Spike, and believe that he loved her. He knew that was a bit of a long shot, but it was possible.

First, he would have to work on a lot of things. Spike really wished that Fred was still alive, if anyone could find a way to give Buffy a soul, she would have. Now they'd have to rely on the brains of Red. He would have to make sure Red didn't give up. She was a bint whose emotions over-took her, and she could easily slide down the slope. He would have to make sure Faith didn't get herself killed, but he knew he wouldn't have to worry about her giving up. Angel could brood away, as long as the rest of them had his money to work with. Spike was pretty sure the minute he saw Buffy, Angel would come around. Then he would start barking out orders, and the whole sodding corporation would work on Buffy.

Spike was on the third level of Zelda when his phone rang. He recognized the number on his mobile as Wolfram and Hart. Angel, coming around already.

"Lemme guess, you've come out of your sad little catatonic state and now you want us to run around and do everything you say," Spike said slyly.

"That's totally it. How did you know? You always knew what I wanted even before I did. You're like a mind reader. It would be cool, if it wasn't so completely annoying," she said.

"Buffy!" Spike exclaimed standing up as if she entered the room. His stomach trembled with excitement. His eyes widened with surprise. He was pretty sure he had a semi-stiffer.

"Here I am, Spike," she said. He could hear her smile over the phone.

"So, how ya been?" he smirked.

"Dead...again and great. You?" she asked.

"Same as you, only not as great without you," he said.

"Hey, that kinda sounds like a guy that would bother to tell me he was alive," she said airily.

"I knew you were going to say something like that, but you want to know why I didn't?" Spike asked bitterly now, "You've got all your desires out runnin' free, and where's the first place you run? To him! But, it's gonna turn on you now."

"It is. Is it?" She asked coyly, "Like your brilliant idea to keep me in this building and feed me otter blood until what? I suddenly want my loser soul back? Really lame, that was your idea, right? Angel would never make me do that. He knows how bad I am at working a day job. You--you think of me as that fast food working loser."

"You know that's not true, love. You were too good for that job and you are certainly much too good for Wolfram and bloody Hart. You don't have to stay there if you don't want to," Spike closed his eyes.

"Damn straight," Buffy laughed, "I don't have to do anything I don't want to anymore, do I? "

"No, I suppose you don't," Spike answered, "But, the girl I know would want her soul back eventually, after you just get some time--"

"Only a loser would want that lame thing back. Spikey, I know you know how good it feels to be so free, have such power, don't you miss it?"

"I miss you," he said. He felt like he just realized he lost a limb after he'd been feeling the phantom leg. She was Buffy. She had sounded exactly like the girl he knew before until he brought up the pesky matter of her soul.

"Aw, I'm touched. But, is it me or the messed up loser you miss? It's such a fine line with you. Would you take me out of here? We can go away together. You and me, Spike. No more hiding like that lame soul made me do. You and me with all the power and the world at our feet. Of course, we'd have to do a little make-over madness and remove that soul. They are so not in this year," she said.

"What about Angel? Not getting the spark without the soul?" he asked, then his eyes went wide, "You didn't kill the poof did you?"

"No, that would be too nice. Let him be a slave to corporate life, since he picked it. Even when I had a soul I couldn't deny he was deciding to destroy himself in a half assed way. I'm so over doing stuff half-way, ya know?"

"What about Drac? You seemed to really fancy him giving him a second chance and all," Spike asked.

"Please, do we have to talk about that loser?" she laughed, "So, I went through a little cheesy Goth phase. You're the one still into punk."

Spike smiled wide, but then he frowned.

"What went wonky this time, Buffy? Why weren't you able to fight that Magic hack off?"

Buffy groaned, "You sound like Willow with the why, why whys' What? Do you guys want some story about how poor little Buffy, the leader of an Empire of Slayers felt more lonely and lost than ever before? How with her real friends scattered around the world and her lovers gone and her bitchy little sister finally grown she didn't know who she was? So, in enter Mr. Dark and Sexy and she couldn't fight him this time."

"Buffy, I'm sorry, love. You seemed--I mean, I thought--"

Buffy burst out laughing. "Oh man, you have totally lost your sense of humor. It wasn't like that, Spike! See, that's your problem you have to read so much into everything. The truth: Lame-ass came into my room, just like he did before. He was going crazy with the thrall, just like before, and he bit me, just like before. Only this time he knew not to stop. He took me right there. He already has his foreplay those years before."

Spike was silent.

"Life is bloody chaos," She said in a fake English accent, "There is no why.' Wanna join the party and come to get me? I have a present for you."

"I'm already almost there, love," he said.

Spike felt weird energy around Wolfram and Hart that he hadn't before. Had to be her. The place seemed empty. It was dark. No matter, he could see and smell too. Her scent was a bit different. She still had the smell of a perfumey wheat field, but there was something else- death. Of course, the smell led him into Angel's office.

"Hi," Buffy chirped.

"Hi," he said lowly and tilted his head at the sight of her.

She still had her long honey hair. It was down and fell in waves over her shoulders. She was dressed more like he remembered her doing in her secondary school days. Her shirt was white and frilly and showed off her cleavage with white frilly cut-off pants with lace trim. A sexy, simple, but high quality outfit.

"Been shopping?" he asked.

"Again, he knows. I hit Rodeo Drive the second I came, well, the third I came," she said.

"Had to visit Daddy and new step-mom first?" Spike smiled sadly.

"Well, you know, it had been forever. Step-Mom wasn't that new, really. She was years old, literally, I think she was about 5. Dad totally robbed the cradle." She rolled her eyes.

Spike laughed and bit his lip, and then walked closer to the huge cage she was in. He hadn't realized Angel's office was so big that it would have room for a guerilla cage and have all this room left over.

"Now she's gone," Spike said somberly.

"I am not gone. I'm right here," she said.

"No, Step-Mom, I mean, and Dad," Spike said.

"Oh yeah, sorry. I'm so used to everyone going You're not Buffy. Buffy's gone. Buffy wouldn't do this. Blah, blah, blah.' But, you, you know it's me Spike. You're the only one who gets that, maybe," she said.

"Yeah," he said quietly.

"So, why don't you help me out of this cage, sailor?" she smirked, "Between the two of us I know we can bust it wide open, this place too, and the world."

Spike walked up to the cage and rapped his hands around the bars. Buffy put her hands over his. They were cold. He shut his eyes.

"'Fraid I can't do that, love," he said, "And since when do you want the world?"

"Back away," she pouted, and he listened taking a few steps back. Of course, she'd be angry now.

"Since now!" she said and kicked the cage door, which fell off. She stepped out.

"Don't look so surprised," she said, "I was just testing you. You failed miserably, like a Blind potential against a Bringer. Ya know, we had a few blind Slayers? Weird huh? Easy kills."

"I'm not surprised," Spike said, "You think I'm a bloody idiot? I knew you were up to something. Like Angel was gonna lock you in a cage and then give you a mobile phone to call me. Like he wasn't gonna be the one to gloat and call me first if it all went down the way he wanted. Where is the old poof anyway? And where's Faith?"

"Oh, so that's how it is now? One minute you offer to make her a footnote in history and now she's your new obsession. You'd be really smart if you didn't have the attention span of a circus flea," she folded her arms.

"I forgot about that footnote in history thing. I suppose you'll want me to keep to my word on that," Spike rolled his eyes.

"In a way," Buffy said, "How do you know she's not already dead along with Angel? You think righteous little me wouldn't hurt them?"

"I know you'd hurt the Slayer, but you kept her alive before, and I smell her blood on you again, but it's only a little. Sadly, I don't think you'd hurt the poof--not really. You might just have put him on time out because he tried to hold you in that cage," Spike said as he followed her down the hall.

"Look at the big brain on Spike all of a sudden. Maybe hormones made you stupid before. You do still like me, don't you?" she pouted and then suddenly pulled him in for a huge open mouthed kiss.

"Ya know, you're not the only one who knows things. I knew you were here," she told him in between kisses, "Andrew has a big mouth, or at least he did."

He kissed back feeling his pain and hunger and satisfaction. She rapped her legs around his waste and undid his fly.

"I missed hurting you," she whispered biting his earlobe.

He opened his mouth in ecstasy and pushed her into the wall. He heard the wall crack a bit.

"And you sure know how to bloody do it, you bitch. I smell Angel's cum all over you," he grumbled fiercely as he pushed into her with all his strength.

"Had to," she murmured after she moaned.

"Bullocks!" Spike grunted, "Now that your soul's on vacation you can admit you wanted to."

"Fuck you!" she grunted and pushed him on the floor and straddled him.

She was going hard. Harder than ever before. She held his writs over his head with one hand as he wanted to break free to hold her.

"You think I don't know about Faith? Still with a soul you're an asshole! Loving it," she grunted then, "Not yet, you dickhead," as she could tell he was about to come.

Like old times, it was. Spike fought his will to come happily. She was loving that he was an asshole... Maybe now finally, when she came back from this she could love him, a little.

"Faith," she grunted, "Was she better?"

"Different," he grunted. She stopped riding him and looked down at him with big eyes.

"Don't stop," he grunted moving under her.

She held down his hips and stopped him. She could never do that before. Oh right, the vampire in her, extra strong.

"Different? That was where you were supposed to give a hearty: No, you were better, Buffy. You, you, you," she grumbled as his cock was still rock hard in her.

"Right," he rolled his eyes, "You were better Buffy, you, you, you. C'mon then."

"Do you love her now? Little Miss Redemption. Is that it?" she spat.

"Bloody hell!" he laughed, "I hardly know the girl. The whole reason we got it on in the first place was because we were in a total tizzy over the fact that you died."

"Oh, really?" a smile returned to her lips, "So, you just did her because she was a poor man's substitute for me. Couldn't you have just said that?"

Well, that wasn't exactly it, but he wasn't going to argue. Poor girl, she could be so insecure. She started riding him again. He stayed still and she really seemed to enjoy that. It took him a bit longer than her for some reason. It hadn't been that way before. Maybe the whole vampire thing made their timing wonky, or Angel. Right he'd go with Angel being minute man.

"Finally," she sighed.

"I love you, Buffy. Never stopped. Everything is gonna be all right," he smiled and stroked her hair.

"C'mon," she pulled him up off the ground and took him by the hand. Before he could zip up his fly they were running down the hall.

"What is it, love?" he asked.

"It's my present for you. You'll love it. Especially after what you just said," she said excitedly.

"What I said?" he smiled, "What I say? I love you?"

"Shhh. No more, Mr. talky mouth. Just be Mr. Thank you man," she smiled and kissed him before they got off the elevator.

Buffy took him past all these grey doors that looked like something out of a solitary confinement station in prison. She opened one with a fancy key card she pulled out of her pocket.

His eyes widened. He saw Faith strapped to a metal board. Her eyes were wide. She wasn't dead, but she wasn't moving--at all.

"Buffy," he said quietly, "What is this?"

"I take it from that look on your pretty little face, that you want her to be able to talk about all her little problems," Buffy sighed as she was un-strapping Faith, who fell like a rag doll when she undid the straps.

Spike caught the Slayer in his arms. His head was spinning with a million thoughts.

"Yes," Was all he could say. He wanted Faith awake or out of whatever had been done. He knew that much. He'd have to take it one step at a time.

"Great," Buffy said and pulled something out of her pocket. It was a hypodermic. She injected Faith with it as Spike held her.

"I'd love to hear what she has to say. Maybe she'll remind us of your other girlfriend. "

Spike just stood with his mouth open as he held Faith. Had he just held the Slayer while Buffy had put something awful in her?

"Buffy--" Spike began. He felt Faith tremble in his arms. She wasn't cold at all. She was terrified.

"Stop it," Faith said quietly as she clutched him tightly now.

"I'm not--I didn't," Spike tried to explain he had no part in this. But maybe he did now. He wouldn't hurt Faith.

"Stop it," she said again as she looked at him with terrified eyes, "Don't let it happen. You have to stop it."

Faith wanted him to stop something. What? Buffy being a vampire? He couldn't do that. But he could do his best to stop Buffy from hurting her.

"What...what did you do to her?" he stammered as he mindlessly followed Buffy down the hall with the other Slayer in his arms.

"A sensitive soul like you wouldn't want to know. After I was done I put her in this room that makes you dead, but alive. I guess she's a little freaked. I told her I was leaving her in there forever if you didn't want her." Buffy said.

"This...this is where they put the bloody reaper," Spike realized.

"Who?" Buffy asked.

"Bad man. Tried to steal my soul. Long story, love. Angel said he put him in a living-hell room where he would keep on living, but be essentially dead. Suspended life." Spike explained, then he turned to face her feeling his face tighten, "How did you know about these rooms?"

"A guy tried to take your soul and you fought it, oh Spike, what will we do with you?" Buffy rolled her eyes.

"No! Stop this. Kill me. Please kill me," Faith cried out suddenly.

"It's all right, love. It's over now. I've got you now," Spike pleaded. Did Faith think he would let her suffer more? That he was in on it?

"Oh, this is so sweet; bonding with your new crazy ho'. Everything is coming together . Now follow Mommy to get Daddy," Buffy said sweetly.

"What did you say?" Spike gasped.

"You'll love this--love it," Buffy assured. She opened a door with another key card and Spike saw Angel there. He was bloody and looking broken, but Spike could tell that he had been working at the metal straps that held him to the table.

"B, please, you can stop this now. it's not too late," Faith said.

"Damn, she's still lucid. I knew I should have let her bake in there a little more. I was always way too soft on her and Dawn. Time to get harder on both of them, wouldn't you say?" Buffy asked him.

Spike just stood. All he could do was hold the other Slayer to him.

"Oh, what do you know? You are such a softie pants. We gotta bring out the hard stuff, one way or another," She said as she walked by the table and rubbed Angel's crotch.

"B, don't do this. Let Angel--let us help you," Faith said.

Spike sensed she wanted to get down from his arms and he put her down. He had become a body that was doing what was needed as his mind was too busy spinning to talk.

"Help? You were the one that always needed help, Faith. Not me, I was just a loser that liked having it around. For the first time I don't want help. Tell me you all don't miss it? The clarity, the power. Anyone? Anyone? Oh c'mon guys gimme a little something here!" Buffy scoffed to them as they were silent. Her sing-song voiced filled the room. "Oh. Mr. Power Lunch himself is gagged. I always loved him, just not the stuff that came out of his mouth," she said and ungagged him. "But, maybe the CEO has something enlightening to add."

"Buffy, don't do this. Let Spike and Faith go. I know it's me you want to deal with; me you've come for. You didn't even know Spike was here. Faith was just doing her job. Just let them go and deal with me," Angel said. And there was a good argument for gagging him. All of this, and Angel thought it was all about him.

"You and your fucking deals! We've been there and did that an hour ago, and you did business all right, but you didn't hold up to your end. You wouldn't give up the soul, even though I gave it up to you. What's the matter, Angel? You can't have a moment of perfect happiness unless you're on top?"

"No, it's because you're not Buffy," Angel's tone was bitter now.

"Not this again. Men, I swear. I guess I felt enough like the old Buffy for you to get it up, but just not to commit yourself to me. Same ol' Angel. Maybe you're just like sonny boy here. I go away for a while and you find a new whore. Only yours is really dead. Yep, I heard she really drew it out too. Just like Cordy. You should've seen her twelve hour death scene in the school play. She just had to be in the spot-light as long as possible."

"You have no right to even mention Cordelia!" Angel was in vampire face now.

"Excuse me?" Buffy gasped and then she turned into vampire face. Spike moved back a little and Buffy smiled at him, but continued to talk to Angel. "I gave you Cordy. I gave you this company. I gave all of you everything, and now I have the power to do it the right way. We'll find a way to make you happy."

Then she straddled him as he was strapped to the table

"You'll never make me happy, not like this!" Angel insisted.

"It's okay baby, that's why I love you. You know It's about power. It's always been about power. I've known that for a while now. But, now nothing is stopping me from taking it all."

"I'll stop you. I won't let you do this in her name. I'll make it--" Angel was forced to stop as Buffy re-gagged him. Spike smiled a little. He regained his thoughts.

"Yeah, okay. I'm done with that. God, I totally see what you mean now, there is a boring table lamp side to him. Well, that'll be over soon. I have my assistant looking up ways to get the real man out of him, since we can 't do it the old fashioned way," Buffy said.

"Ah, ya don't know what you're doing', love," Spike sighed.

"Why?" Buffy frowned, "You think if I was better he would have gotten a happy? I only got to do him that once, well, twice, with that dream thing, so maybe he likes different stuff than what I do. Do you know what he likes?"

"Yeah, like you said he likes bloody power. If you bring Angelus out he's not gonna want to share it with the likes of you, so you don't wanna do it," Spike said

"You mean, he won't wanna share it with the likes of you, and your needy weak wimpy ass, but don't worry I'm giving you something that will keep you occupied. You're little counterpart there, the other half of your codependency. Only she'll be as strong as me--physically. So, I have to mix her up with a side of crazy first to balance the scales. You'll be a great Kurt and Courtney to our Jon and Yoko though."

"You hack little bitch. What happened? Did too much blood from Drac get into your veins? This is your big bad plan? To be Darla Junior? The sequel to 'Vacation' with new actors playing the bloody kids? Please, it's been done," Spike sneered and it was a sneer that came to his lips honestly.

"No it hasn't, not my way! Little Miss Seen it All and me, we will be Vamps that have Slayer strength too. You think I'm like that Dora vampire or whatever her name was? I could take her down with my eyes closed. She may have made Angel, but she let him get away. I'll never do that, not again! I have all the power now to say who goes and who stays--not him, not you--me. And please, outside of men the girl had no taste. She wore school girl outfits, in public, I don 't mean in bed."

"Wow that sounds really bloody great, Ms. Stienham. I mean you're plan, not the whole school girl outfit in pub--Anyway, what you don't realize is how much of a sad loser you're still being."

"Say that again, William," Buffy glared. She hopped down from Angel finally and all five feet of her got in Spike's face

"I mean, it's all still about us boys. What's the first thing you do? You leave a whole Army of powerful girls you could have made into your own army of doom, and you come racing here to Daddy and Angel and me to give us all what for, to put us under your thumb and--" he interrupted himself laughing, "On top of that you go after and torture the one girl that could hold a candle to you and you find a way to put her in her place and hold her under your thumb. If you were really Buffy, if you were really anything but a needy sore loser that lost all her men, you'd have turned the whole army of Slayers and your all powerful witch friend and made all the men in the world your slaves...You'd be giving the Republican party dog collars. You wouldn't be here tryin' to shag me and your first back into evil, which when he gets there shares with no one by the way. No matter what."

"Now that's some kick ass feminism, dude," Faith laughed, "Spike' s right. I know Angelus. He won't give it up to know one, no how. He has to be made."

"So, then I'll do that, then. Just like I'll make you...crazy," Buffy smiled. Buffy went into vampire face again, as she threw Faith with what was probably all her strength through the window into the next office.

"Faith," Spike called to her. He didn't see her land in the other room. He went to look, "If you killed her--"

He began and then he felt himself get thrown.

"You'll what? Bleed all over me? Cry about it? Poor Spikey. I was still debating what to do with you. Still can't be a vampire, still can't be a man. You're nothing. The biggest sell out of all time. A vampire that fought for that disgusting weak soul that's nothing but pain. Even when you didn't have it you were weak," she told him as she hit him to hurt him just enough to keep him alive.

"You loved pain. You had to love me. You had to save my sister! If you really loved me you'd let her die, let me die, saved me from pain," her voiced had changed into a tone that made him cry. He was sure if she noticed she'd make fun of him.

"So, you die for real this time. I wonder where I'll put Faith then. If I didn't already kill her. Hmm. I really don't know my own strength. Where is she? Did I toss her out the window. Well, I guess you'll go with her. See, my plans are flexible"

"Oh, C'mon. No one's as flexible as me. Here I am, B," Faith said as she sliced Buffy's arm with a sword as big as she. "Found the damnedest toy down the hall. This place kicks ass."

Faith was going to take her second slice when someone knocked her down. A blonde girl, she kicked Faith when she was down too.

"Shit! You know how much this outfit cost?" Buffy grumbled as she looked down at her bloody shirt.

"Why didn't you just kill the clerk?" Harmony asked as she stood where Faith had been.

"My lovely assistant, everyone," Buffy smiled, "Never kill the clerk. Like I wanted Rodeo drive to shut down for days? I used my dead Dad's money."

"That is so smart. You're the coolest, boss," Harmony said

"Harm? What are you doing? You told her about the death rooms?" Spike gasped.

"Duh," Harmony rolled her eyes, "I could see in three seconds when Angel brought her in and she brought him down where the winning team was. Can't you, Blondie bear? I thought you had a huge thing for her. You're over it!"

Harmony smiled and then her face fell.

"Oh, I get it," she said, "You only like the Slayers when they're good. You have a whole good girl complex. You like her now."

Harmony pulled Faith up by the hair.

"Get off of her you miserable bitch," Spike snarled.

"God!" Harmony stamped her foot, "What is with you? Can I kill her, boss?"

"Fine," Buffy folded her arms, "He's a man. They never want what is right in front of them."

"You got that right!" Angel said.

The Git was finally free. It took long enough. He threw Harmony off of Faith. He hit Buffy who fell back and looked at him with a frown. She sprung up and hit him across the room. Faith still had some fight in her. Spike couldn't believe it. She had found her sword and sliced Buffy's torso. Buffy looked down and frowned.

"Ooo, Mommy. That itches," She said and elbowed Faith in the face.

Spike saw Angel getting up and he was running at Buffy from the back, so Spike decided to run at Buffy from the front. She had knocked them both down using their own speed against them.

"Now," Buffy said, "Is there still any questions about who holds the power here?"

"See what I mean, Blondie Bear?" Harmony sighed, "Resistance is furtile or whatever. Can I kill the Slayer now? Can I have Blondie Bear instead? You said if I proved myself I could be in."

"You still haven't found away to take Angel's soul," Buffy stated.

"Oh yeah," Harmony chirped, "I forgot with all this fighting. I did! That's why I came in here. Look, a black magic spell that'll take it. Cool, huh?"

Buffy opened the book that Harmony gave her hungrily with wide-eyes. She looked like a little girl who got her new red shiny bike for Christmas.

"Cool," she said trying to maintain her excitement.

"Buffy, don't do this, Spike and Faith are right. Angelus could never love you. He'd betray you. If you want someone to love you stay here with me, we can work this out," Angel said.

The sod was actually jealous of himself. He didn't want his other half to have her. As much as he said she wasn't Buffy, he was still trying to save her for himself.

"Boss, can I kill the Slayer now, please? She keeps giving me dirty looks from the floor," Harmony said.

Buffy grunted in frustration. She made a quick motion and Spike saw Harm turn to dust. She never even had time to be surprised. Spike wasn't surprised either. Buffy had gotten everything she wanted from the bimbo minion.

"Yeah, like I was going to spend my immortal time with someone I hated in high school," Buffy said, "Harmony may have had better taste in clothing, but crazy Faith would just be so much more fun. Don't ya think?"

Buffy looked at the book and cleared her throat. She began reciting the spell. It was Latin, Bloody Ancient Romans had a spell for it all. Harm must have got her a book where it was spelled out phonetically.

"No, I can't go back," Faith cried, "Spike, will you kill me. Kill me after she turns me, please. I can't be evil again."

Spike found her on the floor and held her hand. No, if she was sired he wouldn't kill her. He didn't know what he would do. Maybe he would try to have a go of it like Angel had with the soul.

"You were never evil, love," he told Faith. He was sure of it. Especially after today.

"Would you two keep it down. Like this stuff isn't hard enough to read with out your yapping. They both yap far too much. We'll buy them ball gags," Buffy said to Angel on the floor.

"Ow! What was that? Figures reading this would give me a headache," Buffy said as she stopped reading the Latin.

Then Red came in with Wesley in tow. He was reading a spell in Romanian. It was Angel's bloody spell! They would get Buffy back! He never should have doubted Red.

"You! I thought I made you crazy when I killed your bitch dyke girlfriend, but I guess we all knew she was rebound chick. Faith was probably more upset about her death than you. Hmm, what's that about? I'm sure I'll see," Buffy said.

"It'll be okay, Buffy. I already forgive you. We all love you," Red said.

Wesley went on reading.

"Oh, Will, it's so sad. You could be so cool and instead you hang out with such-- Whose that? Oh shit, it's Wes!" Buffy laughed. Then she held her head like it hurt again.

"C'mon, Will. This is funny. Wes, the Dork Watcher is gonna curse me with a soul. You're doing this to be funny, right?" Buffy asked.

"No, he can curse you; he doesn't love you. I can't," Red said firmly now.

Buffy reached for Willow and she got a magical binding around her.

"C'mon Will," Buffy grunted as she struggled, "I thought we'd been through this before. Count Dorkula taught me enough to get over your lame protection spells."

Buffy closed her eyes and the binding seemed to break around her like glass and disappear. She smiled sadly.

"Don't get you, Will. Never did really. I mean, you could be the Goddess of this whole stinking world and instead you hold back," Buffy said as she grabbed Wesley by the throat.

She was thrown off by something. Spike rose to see IIlyria standing over Buffy who was on the floor mouth open in surprise.

"Who the hell are you?" she said rising.

"The Goddess of this whole stinking world," IIlyria said.

"Yeah, like I haven't heard that before," Buffy rolled her eyes.

She hit IIlyria back and she actually fell. Buffy grabbed the sword Faith had used and went to behead the blue bitch. Smart girl, Spike thought, if you don't know what something is it's best to behead it. IIlyria grabbed Buffy's arm and held it still. Buffy's eyes went wide with shock of Blue Bitch's strength.

"You are the most impressive fighter I've seen in this world. The Qwa'ha Xahan will do his magic and then you will still have your power but you will not be so detrimental to the other warriors. Then, you can fight for the humans together and you will teach me more about the hopefulness of this world that I am destined to be in," IIlyria said as she held Buffy's arm frozen.

Wesley continued with the spell.

"No!" Buffy cried, "You bitch! Who the fuck are you? I won't be some minion under you. I'm the Slayer."

"No, Buffy is the Slayer. You're not anything, and when the spell is over she'll be back with us," Angel said.

"No, Angel," Buffy pleaded, "Help me! I can't go back. I won't! You know how it is, really. I'm finally free."

"He is helping you, B," Faith said.

"No," Buffy said through gritted teeth, "I am not you! I am not going to spend my life on my knees to everyone because for one second I knew what my real power was."

"It's not like that, love. You'll see. We can all really be in the same boat now. We'll be together."

"I don't wanna be with you. You're weak!" Buffy spat at him.

"Angelus, please, I love you. You're the one. You know, you were cursed. Make them stop. This is the only way we can be together. Don't you love me?" She cried to Angel.

"Yes, I do. It's because I really love you that we can't---" Angel stopped like that in mid sentence.

Spike thought perhaps that Buffy had thrown a stake at him or something due to the look of frozen pain on his face.

Wesley had stopped the Romanian chanting. Was he done? Was it over?

"Nooo!" Red was crying. Spike looked and Buffy was gone.

"What happened?" Spike asked. He saw IIlyria holding the sword.

"She turned to dust," IIlyria said, "Where has she gone?"

"You bitch!" Spike roared, "You dusted her!"

"No, Spike," Faith said in a drone-like voice, "She dusted herself. She put her throat through the sword."

"You need to cry," Spike pleaded as he held the dark haired girl's hand as she stood in his doorway.

"I need to go. Everyone has done enough of it for me. Even Angel has done enough for me and him. Never knew a Brit could be so sensitive," she told him.

"Not sensitive just honest," he said.

"Right a thoughtless bastard, I remember," Faith smiled.

"Right," he said.

"It wasn't her. She died that night in her room with that Euro-Fag Bastard I swear vengeance on. That's the popular view," Faith said.

"Right," Spike sighed.

"Right that's the popular view or right that wasn't her?" Faith asked.

She saw that the question surprised him. Faith had refused to examine any of this. She just hung about making sure no one else offed themselves. Now that it seems they wouldn't she was going.

"C'mon, honest bastard, tell me what you think," she commanded.

"I think it was her. Her darkest half and nothing else. Something I thought I knew, but really only saw hints of when she had that beautiful soul."

"Oh, well, there you go," she said and tears filled her eyes.

"There I go, makin' you spill salt now. I thought you should do it, but I never volunteered to be the instigator," he said.

"You're nothing else if not the instigator," she laughed as she wiped her eyes, "You saved our lives stirring B--stirring the vamp up like that sayin' that it was all about us. It bought us time."

"Never thought about it. Just thought I was shooting my gob off , but okay," he said.

She laughed and touched his arm.

"Do you want to hear something awful?"

"Couldn't hurt now," he said.

"I cried because I was happy you said it was her, part of her, in that vamp, because after all was said and done, she really wanted me. She thought she needed me. I was somethin'" Faith said again with tears in her eyes.

"I'll top you. Sometimes I cry because she didn't want me. She wasn't sure she needed me. I was nothing. It was Angel--Angelus that was everything," he sighed. He was over crying, about that part anyway.

"You're stupid." She said this simply, "Don't you realize you were the most important piece. You were her heart. That was why she was so mad at you. You chose to get a soul and care and that killed her."

"I killed her?" He tilted his head painfully.

"No not--look when I went all psycho chick it was her I hated most, because she was everything that reminded me about how hard it was--and how good it was--to really really love people. Not that I really am an expert on it now, but, do you understand, or do I just sound insane?" she asked.

"Bit a both," he said.

"I don't know how I feel about these Angel-like one sentence blurbs from you," she laughed.

"Well, here's another. Why don't you stay?" he asked.

"I can't," she looked off at nothing, "I would only remind you of her. You deserve better...Hell, I've had enough therapy to say I'm somthin' and I deserve better."

"I'm an honest bastard, right?"

"Right."

"So, more simple blurbs. You're everything. You deserve everything, and if you stay, in time, I can give it," he said.

"I can't think of a snappy response to that one," she swallowed hard, "So, I should go."

"Expected as much. Where will you be?" he asked as he felt the inevitable ripping in his chest.

"Dunno," she sighed, "Now I'm blurbing. This is turning into a Brit good-bye after all."

"Right O'. Better hop on then," he laughed, "Good-bye." He said and kissed her forehead.

Spike was home again. He hadn't patrolled in weeks. He hated to think about how the vampire related death count may have risen, so he didn't.

He heard a soft knock on his door. Now what? Lorne here to say how (basically) everything was going to be all right. There was a Yank word if he ever heard one "basically." What the hell did that even mean? It was still day light, so this knock couldn't be anything worthwhile, but he was thinking too much, so he opened the door.

"Hey," she said.

"Hey," he looked at her sideways to try to figure what had gone wrong. Why was she here?

"So, here I am," she said.

"Here you are," he repeated.

"The Dude just won't start with the talking again. Maybe this is a good thing," she smiled.

"I have something," he said, "So here you are--rock me like a hurricane or here you are passing through? Because if it's the passing through one I was waiting for this and I have a big brassed off speech about how I won't be used for parts and service. But, I should let you know that is probably complete bullocks and I will be used for parts and service, but you will have to put up with a lot of bitching about it until you leave yet again."

"Wow," she nodded and smiled and licked her lips, "Um, I don't think I could take your hardcore bitching ...So, here I am--rock you like a hurricane, but if you start to be a hardcore bitch I am so outta here."

"No see, I'm only a hardcore bitch if you go to leave," he explained with a smirk he tried to squash.

"And if I stay? You're what a regular bitch?" she asked.

"Pretty much, but so are you, right?" he said.

"Pretty much," she sighed.

"Should be fun then," he said.

END