Chapter Five: There Has To Be Consequences

Buffy seemed mesmerized as she stared out the car window while Spike drove. This was her first time outside of the house since that night she was resurrected. The haze of confusion from that night was gone and it felt like she hadn't seen the world in an entire lifetime. On top of that she was heading to see Faith and Angel. She hadn't seen Faith since following her to LA after the bodyswap and honestly, she had been avoiding Angel's phone calls all together. She took a deep sigh and, agitated, turned to Spike with a tight lipped scowl.

"Why did you call Angel? Since when do the two of you have anything resembling a civil relationship?"

Spike's jaw clenched. "He helped me with something a while back."

"Oh," Buffy said. "He helped you get your soul."

Spike just nodded. Buffy held her tongue. She did have questions for him but now wasn't the time.

"This Faith bird," he changed the subject. "The Scoobies really don't like her."

"Faith is complicated. She's pretty much burned all of us," Buffy tried to explain. "She's dangerous."

"Slayers are supposed to be dangerous. She's not the first one to do what she did and she won't be the last. The ideal Slayer is alone, usually orphans. A Slayer is nothing but death and power, Buffy."

"I'm alone," Buffy said weakly.

"No, love—you feel alone. You have a sister and friends who know who you are. Not to mention, two vampires giving you a hand. Normal Slayers die and don't get brought back because no one ever notices they're gone. You're the exception, Buffy. Not her."

"So now you're defending her?" Buffy snipped.

Spike laughed. "Not at all, pet. You get a pass because you were a Slayer and that makes you different than most people. Stronger and all that….doesn't make you better though."

"I don't think—"

"I've seen high and mighty Buffy more times than not. Can't imagine how many times you've given this girl the same."

Buffy wanted to argue with him but instead sunk into the seat, her eyes dragging to the window again. "Dawn told me Angel didn't come to my funeral. I know it's stupid but I can't say that didn't hurt."

Spike bristled. "I would love to see you mad at tall, dark, and forehead but when I saw him he looked pretty torn up. Don't want you thinking no one cared, love. But like I said feel free to hate him forever."

He thought she'd laugh or at least roll her eyes at him. Instead she continued to look out the window. Spike was worried about her. He knew she needed time but she looked like she hadn't eaten or fully slept in a while. She was better with him and he took that fact with a certain amount of pride. But it didn't change the fact that she wasn't herself yet.

"There it is," Buffy said tiredly. He saw the hotel sign flashing in the dark night before pulling into the parking lot. He went to turn to Buffy—to ask her if she was up to this—but she was already out of the car heading to the room number they had been given by Angel. He scrambled after her to find her already at the door.

Angel was standing in the doorway, his eyes fixated on Buffy as if he was staring at a ghost. Buffy's back was to Spike which he was slightly grateful for. He didn't want her to be happy to see him but judging by the look on Angel's face that wasn't the welcome he was getting. Buffy had brushed past him into the room before he could say anything. He watched her with a longing look on his face before seeing Spike approaching him.

"We need to talk," he said to Angel.

Buffy heard Spike ask to speak to Angel privately before he closed the door leaving just her and Faith in the hotel room.

"Hey, B. Heard you missed me," Faith teased.

Buffy crossed her arms and regarded Faith guardedly. "Then Angel must not have told you everything."

"Well I heard you aren't a Slayer anymore," Faith retorted as she raised an eyebrow. "Which means you didn't get the nifty Slayer dream about a black haired, veiny, scary-ass looking Willow about to end the world."

Buffy paled and sunk onto the bed. There was a pressure building behind her eyes that Buffy couldn't shake. "I should be handling this."

"You tapped out, B. I got this," Faith said confidently.

Buffy felt like she was drowning all of a sudden. All of this was too much. Slayer dreams meant a warning of big proportions. Was Willow the bad guy? Was she evil? Faith saw Buffy scratching her scarred knuckles in her anxiety. Buffy tucked him under her thighs when she saw Faith noticing.

"No," Buffy growled angrily. "Don't look at me like that. I can't stand it from you."

A dark look came on Faith's face. "You're offended by my pity? Ok, I killed a man. So has Angel. So has Spike. You almost killed me, remember? Face it, you're surrounded by murderers and people with demons—some of them literally are demons. Why am I so fucking special that I get the privilege of St. Buffy hating me the rest of my life?"

Buffy rubbed her temples. Faith was right—they couldn't keep going like this. Maybe Spike had a point earlier in the car. "Why are you doing this for me?"

Faith had expected more of a fight and looked taken aback by her question. "Road to redemption and all. Gotta be the new Buffy."

Buffy held her gaze evenly for moment. "I need you to protect my family because I can't. I need to be sure that you're solid right now."

"Five by five, B," Faith said seriously.

"I didn't want this for us," Buffy admitted. "Kendra and I weren't best friends or anything but she had my back and I had hers. We trusted each other. You showed up and for whatever reason I felt like you were trying to take things from me. The whole Riley thing didn't help with that, by the way."

Faith actually looked embarrassed. "I was willing to share. Not Riley, I mean," she quickly corrected. "I came to Sunnydale because I was running away from everything and that nasty looking hooves vampire. I mean damn, B, you had a real mom and real friends and the house with the picket fence and shit. You had things that kept you from running. Why wouldn't I want a part of that?"

"I ran once. After I killed Angel I ran away and when I came back everyone was so mad like…how dare you leave us?" Buffy's could feel her stomach turning into knots discussed this, especially when it was so closely tied to what had just happened to her.

"Why'd you run?"

"Because I finally saw what being a Slayer was. My friends would never understand and my mom had turned her back on me. Willow had gotten badly hurt trying to give Angel his soul back and the honest truth was that I had a perfect moment of clarity that everything I love isn't safe as long as I am who I am. I thought I was protecting them from myself and that I was better off without them. That it would be easier. You enjoy being a Slayer. You enjoy the power and the rush because you never had the burden of it. I've faced enemies where if I lose the whole world ends. Where if I mess up, the people I love will die. I've carried that weight for so long that my friends don't know how to carry it without me. They are dependent and helpless people that wait for Buffy to save the day."

Buffy wasn't aware of how emotional she had gotten. It was surprising for her to reveal these things to Faith but once the words came out, she didn't feel any better. Her hands were shaking with suppressed rage and resentment. Faith's eyes widened at Buffy's speech. She hadn't been expecting that either but Faith wasn't stupid. She didn't want to push Buffy but she had a feeling her friends hadn't done her a favor by bringing her back after all.

It would have been easy to misinterpret her physical and emotional reaction to sadness. Faith, however, saw a spark in Buffy's eyes she had been missing when the ex-Slayer had entered the hotel room or even when she was arguing with Faith. Faith knew anger.

What had they done?

As soon as Angel and Spike were out of earshot outside, he handed Spike a small vial containing a blue liquid. "This wasn't easy to get," he said pointedly. "The Powers That Be aren't sure what Buffy being back means."

Spike bristled. "And this is safe? I don't like them meddling with her."

"Spike, they told me she shouldn't be here. That she should have died. That doesn't sound to me like she was trapped in some kind of hell dimension."

Spike averted his gaze, his jaw clenching. "That's for Buffy to tell you but I don't think she fancies you much right now."

Angel almost pouted. "I got that impression. Because I didn't come to her funeral?"

"What did you want me to tell her, mate? You were being all dark and broody in Sri Lanka?"

Angel glared at his grandchilde. "Don't forget what I did for you," he growled. "I was there for her before you even thought about getting a soul."

Spike wanted to antagonize Angel but held his tongue. "What else did the Poofters That Be say?"

"That she needs to take this so she can have her powers back. They said Buffy may be more important because of the mystery surrounding her resurrection. The spell used to bring Buffy back was very powerful and very dark. There has to be a consequence to that."

"Buffy is fine," Spike retorted quickly, agitated.

"And what if she isn't?"

"Say what you have to say, Angel."

Angel took a deep sigh. "The stripping of her powers may be temporary. It's almost like her body is oversaturated with the magic from the spell and it's recuperating."

Spike frowned. "I don't think she wants to be the Slayer anymore is the problem."

Angel regarded Spike wearily. "I want her to get what he wants, Spike. But something has to tell you that it can't be that simple. Buffy is who she is."

"She's afraid and delicate. Not a choice of words I thought I'd ever use to describe Buffy. It kills me to see her like this. I don't think she even knows who she is right now."

It had been difficult for Spike. It was like walking on eggshells. He didn't want to push her but he didn't want to let her stay in the state she was in. It was beyond depression, beyond anger-even the moments when she was seemed OK, the moment passed just as quickly as it came. The worst part of it all was that he wouldn't trade the last couple days for all the souls in the world. As much as she didn't want to be back, he wanted her here ten times over.

Angel could see Spike battling with his emotions and didn't feel the self-satisfaction he thought he would. "You were always different, Spike. Maybe it's because Drusilla was your sire and she was well...crazy."

"I'm not like you. I'd bloody kill myself if I ever was," Spike said grudgingly.

"We both love her," Angel stated simply.

"Like hell you do," Spike growled. "You love the idea of the girl."

Angel clenched his jaw, biting back his original reply. "Give her the potion or don't. But it should be her choice."

Spike raised his eyebrow. "Her choice? Even if she chooses-"

"Even if she chooses to walk away."

"And if she chooses me?" Spike challenged.

Angel met Spike's stare evenly and said sadly, "She already has."