Title: From The Inside Out

Story by:
Banner by: inxsomniax
Pairings: Spike/Buffy
Rating: R to be safe. Unfortunately I have no idea where this fic is heading.
Genre: All Human
Betas: Many thanks for the encouragement and enthusiasm.

Warnings: This will be a Timetravel/Dimension travel fic.

Summary: Set Season 7.

Part One

Sometimes, it just didn't pay to get out of bed in the morning. More often than not, thinking about Spike for any part of her day resulted in more pain than he was worth.

Except today.

Today, Buffy was betting Spike had never caused her this much pain in all the years she'd known him, and that was truly saying something.

She seemed to be making a habit of it. Killing the only souled vampires in existence. Killing the men who'd had the greatest impact on her life.

Buffy, shaken and dusty, dropped to her knees, hands outstretched and trembling. Her stake fell with a dull thud to the dirt floor, yet she didn't reach for it, her gaze instead lost in those hands that delivered death as a matter of course. That saved people from the monsters of their world and made each day a little bit safer. Or tried to. By what she'd just witnessed, she was fighting a losing battle, especially if those on her side were turning humans faster than she could kill them.

His laughter cracked her abruptly from the study of her hands, and the shaking she couldn't seem to stop. Drew her out of that world of oblivion she longed to become lost in, yes, but that deep, hateful mirth made her want to crumble into the earth as well. She couldn't look, for it made no sense. She had Spike's dust on her hands, trembling on her fingertips, and yet he laughed at her from the side of the basement that she now dubbed Spike's ultimate burial ground.

Tortured eyes lifted from her fascinated study, lifted wearily and with fear she ought not to fear, and she clashed with shock upon the stark blueness of the vampire she'd shared such a complicated part of her life with.

"You're not Spike." He was a damn good interpreter though, resembling the punk vampire right down to the smirk and the scarred eyebrow. The differences lay more in the level of hatred this Spike exuded and the other one had lost. This one was evil, right down to his fake Docs. Before he could utter a word, she knew it. This was the Spike she'd first met all those years ago, not the one whose chest would have been gaping and bloody if he'd been as human as the soul should have made him.

"And you're not the Slayer. At least, you shouldn't be. Girl like you, dying for the world, should be six foot under and floating in the clouds."

Buffy felt sick; that horrid freeze she'd often felt submerged in when she'd first come back threatened to overtake her now, but she couldn't let it. Not until she found out how Spike could be standing before her straight after she'd buried a stake in his chest. How he could be leering at her with evil intent when mere minutes ago he'd been sobbing for her to end his torment.

When he wasn't accusing her with depthless eyes as she ended his very existence.

"I killed you," she said, her voice hoarse as the grief swelled up in her gut.

Spike snorted, letting his eyes roam up her body and then back down to her shoes.

"Believe me, sweetheart, you're not that good. Only way you could kill me is if I let you." He shoved his hands in his jeans pockets and tilted his head, peering at her curiously. "Did I let you?"

The Slayer stared at him, incredulity pushing away the tremendous sense of failure from dusting Spike. "Well, yeah, actually. I'd definitely say your begging me to stop you was your letting me do it." She frowned, wondering if this was some kind of trick, or some kind of word teaser she didn't have a hope of solving.

"Fair cop, Slayer. You got me."

The words were familiar, but the malice was new, and in that moment Buffy snapped out of it and realised once again that this wasn't Spike. Not the true Spike that had been a part of her world for the past four years and counting. Not the Spike who'd been the only one to help her—albeit misguidedly—survive her coming back to life.

"And I'll admit you got me, for a few seconds. But you aren't him. Now tell me who you are and why you're impersonating Spike." She could feel her body start to shake, scared of how she was meant to take action with this new threat when she hadn't quite faced in her heart that she'd just dusted Spike. Souled Spike. Her heart squeezed tight, her nose stung and her eyes began to water, and all of a sudden Buffy was transported to the second in her past when she'd speared Angel through with a sword. For reasons she was unable to face, the pain of that moment rivalled this new one, except the reality then had been that she'd had to do it to save the world. This time she'd killed just to save a soul.

"No need to let your heart go all a quiver. You were right the first time." And Spike turned into Angel, making Buffy gasp and fall back against the wall Spike had earlier been huddled against, her feet stamping his dust into the dirt and making Buffy feel like she was going to vomit.

"A…Angel?" Her voice broke and the tears started to sting her eyes with the effort of repression.

"No, not Angel. Angelus would be closer but even that nightmare of your past was nothing but a toddler when it comes to true evil. We've met before, Slayer. Once. And when you finally work it out—" He laughed, using the voice of Angelus, and shivers of fear of the unknown raced down her spine. "Well, let's just say," Spike said, Angelus gone without even a shimmer in the air, "you won't be celebrating my demise. You might actually get it that I was your one true supporter."

She snapped. "No!." The scream echoed around the darkened basement as Buffy launched herself at Fake-Spike, thoroughly distraught from grief, guilt and anger. He didn't move, didn't even prepare to fight. Seconds later Buffy didn't have to wonder why. Instead, as she sailed right through him and into a swirling vortex of blue light and screaming winds, she had little time to think on that discovery at all before she found herself somewhere that was seriously not where she'd started. No, the only thoughts running through her head as she plowed into a group of surprised shoppers in downtown Sunnydale, was how she'd managed to not break her neck connecting with the basement wall and how much her life sucked to be diving headfirst into another dimensional rip.

Surely things like that could only happen to a person once in their life.