DISCLAIMER: All BTVS characters belong to Joss, I'm just borrowing them. Couple of OC's in there that are mine.
Buffy wasn't prepared. Not in the slightest. She'd listened to Tara's instructions, nodded when she thought she should but she hadn't been prepared to be thrown into…this.
Spike's mind. Which apparently had the settings of a completely restored Sunnydale.
A Sunnydale before her life imploded, before her friends died.
Dewy wet grass was under her feet, and the tombstones around her were just as she remembered. Mr Hawkins, buried by the old oak tree that had seen too many storms; Lady Maples, laid to rest in front of the crypt that had once had a name but the stone had since eroding past the point of being able to read its once-proud title. She knew if she took twenty four steps to the right, she'd be in front of the Alpert crypt that she'd thrown a demon against one, and smooshed it's brains out on the sarcophagus next to it.
And she also knew that a two minute walk past the small group of trees just beyond that crypt was another. A crypt that he'd taken up residence in when he'd left Giles' apartment.
She'd bet money he'd be in there if he was hiding from something.
She certainly wasn't expecting him to be outside, bloodied and bruised, involved in a particular nasty fight with Angel. Or Angelus, if she was correct about the leather pants. God, she hated those pants. Wasn't a bit fan of the silk shirts he wore either.
Spike was dressed in that leather coat, the jeans and t-shirt completing the look she remembered so well. His hair was bleach blond again – she hadn't realised how much she missed his bad boy look. Not that he wasn't still sexy in army fatigues and with short brown hair.
'Come on, Willy, you're slacking!' Angelus taunted, not noticing her approach until she grabbed him by the shoulder and threw him backwards. She winced as he hit a "Laura Price" and snapped the deceased woman's final marker in half. She had always felt bad about that consequence of her job. It seemed disrespectful.
'Buffy?' Spike asked quietly, from his sprawled position on the floor. Blood trickled down his top lip from his nose, which looked busted.
Cause you never broke his nose, huh Buffy?
She blushed at her inner thought and moved over to help him up from the floor. He took it, confused but grateful as Angelus pulled himself up from the ruined grave, brushing down those awful pants as he cackled.
'Buff! How nice to see you. Didn't think you'd show up, least of all to save this sorry bastard. He's better off in here you know?' He grinned, and it made it look like his face was snapping in half. 'Or dead. Whichever works.'
Buffy frowned. 'So, you're not Angelus? You're just…'
'Oh, I'm not a figment of Spike's imagination either. But I'm not going to let him leave. He's mine.' He took a step towards them and Buffy felt Spike flinch. 'And he knows that, don't you, Willy?'
'M'not yours. Bugger off.' Spike said, but his voice held none of the swagger he had before everything had kicked off. Buffy looked between her mate and her former, and then dropped Spike's hand. She fell into a defensive stance. Angelus laughed.
'Please! You think you can fight me, in here? This is my world, Buff, I make the rules. And my rules say…' The cemetery disappeared, and Buffy reached back to grab Spike, only to find he wasn't there anymore. She felt sick as the world spun and twisted around her. Shackles came from nowhere and attached themselves to her wrists and feet. '…what goes on around here.'
The mansion materialised around her and she looked around, noticing nothing had changed. She was changed in the same spot she had bound Faith all those years ago, and Spike was chained above the fireplace, the fire roaring behind him, his shirt and coat missing, naked from the waist up. He was sweating profusely and trying to get away from the heat. Angelus was stood in front of her, a branding iron in hand; the shape of a capital "A".
'This used to be one of my favourite implements. Never worked on vampires, they healed too quickly. You can ask him that.' He inclined his head towards the bound Spike. Buffy kept her eyes on her enemy, not wanting to give him the benefit of seeing her weak. 'But humans…oh they used to make such sweet sounds. I'm wondering if Spike would replicate some of those for me. He's so breakable in here. I don't know what you see in him, honestly. He's weak. He was always weak, but now it's just pathetic.'
Why in the hell would…Spike's human. Whatever has him in here is playing on his fears. He's never wanted to be human again…and now he has no choice. Damn these chains are strong.
She pulled at her bonds as Angelus approached Spike with the brand, plunging it into the fire and heating it until it glowed red. Spike struggled and pulled at him bonds, sweating all the while, fear reflecting in his eyes as he tried to get away from the brand coming towards him. But to no avail; Angelus brought the brand down, right onto the pale skin of his chest and Buffy had to look away as Spike screamed, the smell of burning flesh making her gag.
His scream stopped abruptly as he began to weep softly and Buffy's heart broke. Angelus stroked the burn, making Spike jump and squirm some more. 'He never used to scream. Not after the first time. I had to get…inventive. He probably wouldn't ever tell you…the things we did together. The things he was very, very good at.' The dark vampire ran his hands over Spike's bare chest, and the smaller man squirmed.
'Let him go!' Buffy shouted, not wishing to see the adventures of S&M Angelus played out in front of her. 'Seriously, come and face me, seeing as he's helpless. Don't you want a real fight, Angelus?' She scoffed, seeing as she'd got his attention away from Spike. He stalked towards her, very slowly, ire on his face as she laughed at him. 'Of course you don't. You never could take me. I killed you once before, I can kill you again.'
'Shut up! This is my place, my world! I control him. He will endure whatever I require! I suggest you go back to wherever you came from before I decide to keep you too.'
'I'll find a way out.' Buffy said slowly, knowing that this definitely wasn't Angelus, as he would never have lost his temper like that. This was something different.
'Trust me, you won't.' He said, a cold calculating smile spreading over his face, and his form shimmered for a second, like a glitch. 'I'll kill you before you get the chance.' He picked up a knife from a table beside her, which she hadn't noticed before. 'I think I'll start now.'
He advanced on her, and she shut her eyes, remembering that this wasn't real. Felt real enough when the first cut came and she gritted her teeth against the pain. Which again, felt very real.
Spike shouted something, and she opened her eyes as Angelus moved away.
'I said get over here, you ponce!' Spike was angry, fighting against his chains. She watched as Angelus snapped in anger and punched Spike with such force it broke the bonds on his hands and sending him flying across the bench next to the fireplace. He hit it with a sickening crunch and didn't get up. Angelus smiled and kicked the prone form, waiting for a reaction before kneeling down and checking the body for a pulse.
'Oops.' Angelus shrugged, turning to Buffy. 'Killed him again.' He picked the body up, smiling at the tears in Buffy's eyes, and then dumped it in the fire as she screamed for him to stop.
He's not dead, can't be dead.
'Give it a few minutes Buff.' Angelus walked over to her, ignoring the smoke filling the room. 'Been nice seeing you.' He ran his hand down her face and then disappeared from view. Buffy stood alone, shackled to the wall, confused at what had happened. If Spike was dead, why was she still here?
He wasn't dead. He was laying opposite her on the floor of an office. Buffy propped herself up, wondering where her shackles went and why she was laying on some of the itchiest carpet known to man. She crawled over to check on Spike and found him without pulse, which made her unsure of his still-living status. Shaking him gently, she whispered his name.
'Spike.' He didn't move or respond. 'Spike, wake up.'
He groaned and rolled onto his side, opening his eyes and looking at her, his eyes cloudy for a second before he sat bolt upright. 'Christ….that doesn't get any easier.' He held his head and Buffy frowned.
'What doesn't get any easier?' She asked, checking him over. His clothes were back as they had been in the cemetery and she didn't see any wounds on him.
'Every time it kills me.' He mumbled, pulling himself to his feet. He offered her a hand and she took it. 'This is a new scenario. It's been mostly Angelus and Franken-Riley, a couple of enemies from my past. Same game, torture, pain, agony and death. Then a reset. Seemed I was getting weaker each time. Then I saw him threaten you. I've seen it before, but you're real aren't you? You're not the fake Buffy it creates to make me squirm. You're real, and him threatening the real you made me stronger.'
'I'm not fake. Tara sent me in. She said something was holding you in here. I'm assuming it's this "it" you keep talking about.'
'Soldier boy…he managed to get in my mind before you turned up. Plugged himself in. I think he left something behind, a virus of some sort. I can't kill it and it's been taking over everything in here.' His voice sounded far away and terrified.
'It can't kill you for real though right?' Buffy asked, worry caused her forehead to crease as she continued to check him over.
'I don't know.' He whispered, looking her dead in the eye. 'It's done…things Buffy. Made me watch things that felt so real…I don't want it to hurt you for real.'
'I don't think it can. And Tara will pull me out if anything looks bad.' Buffy cupped his face. 'But I'm hoping you'll be coming with me.'
'How long has it been since…?' He trailed off and she looked guilty for not coming in sooner.
'About six days. It felt like longer. I didn't want to leave you.' She looked him dead in the eyes, and somehow knew that for him it had been much longer. 'Mom came by, Giles, even Angel.' He winced slightly. 'Tiree and Ryan left. I don't know where they went.' He moved away, looking around the office.
'This is definitely a new place for it.' Spike muttered, looking at the files on the desk. 'We're still in Sunnydale, but I don't recognise this place.'
Buffy looked around and followed him to the desk, looking down at what he was perusing. She paled a little. 'This is the Mayor's office. It looks like whatever "it" is has decided to make this a more personal adventure for me.' Looking to Spike, she took his hand. 'Do you feel stronger than before? Is me being here helping?'
He smiled. 'More than you know.'
'Well, well, well. Isn't this touching?' The couple froze and Buffy turned to face the voice.
Richard Wilkins stood in front of them, his hands clasped together and a creepy smile on his face.
So not the person she wanted to see.
A/N: a short one for now, hoping it will be a maximum of two days before I have the next chapter up! Enjoy!