Twisted Between Time and Dreams

Author: Evil Rabbit

Summary: AU. After Buffy and Spike are together in the 7th Season (*crosses fingers*) Buffy is killed (for the third time) and Dawn and Spike are told that they have to go back in time in order to save her destiny. (Don't worry, it has a twist)

Disclaimer: Not mine, don't sue. Oh and I know that Dawn's opening line is from the comic Zits (my friend told me) but I didn't know that when I wrote it so I'm keeping it in.

Spoilers: None really.its AU but everything in 1-6 is fair game.

Shipper(s): B/S, D/J, and a tiny bit of W/X

~

On the exterior, Sunnydale was everything a small, Suburban California town should be. With white picket fences surrounding brick houses and Jim's Hardware Store just off 7th street. It had The Bronze, where the teens liked to go and The Espresso Pump, an artsy hangout for the adults. There were sidewalks everywhere so that one could walk to anywhere in the town they wanted to go, whether it be the grocery store or a friends house.

Of course there was that pesky fact that buildings were blown up quite often (Like that tale of the old high school in '99) and that the obituaries were the largest section of the Sunnydale Times. But that was no matter, at least to most of the folks in Sunnydale. They brushed it aside, chalking it up to bad luck. How uncommon was it, really, for your neck to fall on an open staple-remover or a barbeque fork? There were no "demons" or "monsters" in Sunnydale, just an everlasting case of fatal klutziness.

Unfortunately for Buffy Summers, she was not one of these people. She knew the truth better than anyone. She lived right in the center of Sunnydale's dark side. Hell, she was Sunnydale's dark side. Every night she would fight the forces of darkness...of evil, which reigned over the town permanently. Tonight, however, was an exception to the rule...

~

Buffy smiled at her reflection as she put on a simple black tank-top. Perfect, she thought. She took her now long, golden hair and tied it up with an elastic hair band. After pulling a few face framing tendrils down she knew she was ready.

"Dawn?" Buffy called, "Dawn sweetie, I'm going out. You can take care of yourself, right?"

"I'm not so sure Buffy. What if I can't get the refrigerator door open? What if the toaster breaks down? Or what if the faucets stop working? I may have to resort to drinking my own urine." Came the sarcastic reply.

"Lovely imagery." Buffy said scrunching her nose slightly as she emerged from upstairs. She looked down at her 16-year-old sister who was lounging on the couch.

"What do you think?" Buffy asked hesitantly regarding her outfit.

" Hmm.I like the belt and the shirt, but strappy stilettos with department store jeans? Come on, Buffy, you can't be serious." Buffy pouted slightly.

"I thought it would be a nice mix of comfy and elegant."

"Well, I think it clashes." Dawn said shrugging. Buffy groaned and trudged back upstairs. Dawn smiled to herself. She was *good * A half hour later, Buffy came down once again wearing the same outfit, only with leather boots in tow.

"Satisfied O Fashion Guru?" Buffy said flopping down on the couch next to Dawn.

"It'll do." Dawn replied smiling. She cleared her throat and spoke again, "So, big date with the Souled One?"

"Yup. It's our third month anniversary." Buffy said unable to hide her loving grin.

"Spike knows this?"

"Of course he does, Dawn, it's our third month anniversary. It's a big deal." Buffy reasoned, "anyway, we're just going to the Bronze and then heading back to his apartment to...uh...play Parcheesi."

"Oh, really? That game has always fascinated me! Tell me, how do you play that again?" The doorbell rang just then and Buffy visibly sighed in relief. She glared at Dawn who was still smiling innocently and went to get the door.

"Hey you." Spike smiled at Buffy, who was looking up at him adoringly.

"Hey yourself." She pulled him to her and kissed him. He was such a good kisser. Passionate and soft with just the right amount of lust and need. You know you're in love when your inner monologue begins to sound like a really bad Harlequin, Buffy silently joked. She broke the kiss and smiled against his mouth. He entered the home and raised his hand in a greeting to Dawn.

"Hey short stack, how's it goin'?"

"Hi Spike." Dawn smiled, but not as much as she used to. She loved Spike, not the way Buffy did of course, but she still couldn't forgive him for leaving her, without saying goodbye. He had promised he would never leave her...but he did. It took Buffy only a short six months to forgive him for that AND for his attempted rape. It did help, however, that he was now the proud owner of a shiny new soul. But Dawn still couldn't bring herself to forgive him fully. Not yet anyway.

Buffy watched as Dawn and Spike conversed, slightly awkwardly but still cheerfully on the couch. The couch. The same couch that Buffy helped move into the house 7 years ago. The same couch that she would think or dream or cry about Angel on. The same couch she sat on before she sacrificed Angel. The same couch Faith had sat on too many times. The same couch The First Slayer tried to kill her and her friends on. The same couch her mother died on.

"So, Dawn, we're going now...I'll be home late, so go to bed on your own and, uh, that's it. So, see ya." Buffy dragged Spike out of the house and slammed the door shut. Dawn looked at the closed door a little miffed.

"Bye."

~

"You were pretty quick to get out of there, weren't you, luv?" Spike said looking back at the Summer's residence.

"Yeah, well, I just wanted to go on my date." She said wrapping her arms around him.

"You have a date? With who? Anybody I know?" Spike responded grinning.

"Your wit has been lacking lately, Mr. Goody-Goody."

"Watch it."

Buffy looked down and sighed.

"I don't know. I just really wanted to get out of there. Its not like it's exactly a happy memory vessel or anything. Sometimes, it's too much. I mean, so much has happened there. Innumerable demons, everything with Angel, Faith, Riley, You, my mom..." Buffy looked up at Spike who hugged her in response. Buffy pulled back and swallowed.

"I'm thinking about moving." Spike's eyes widened.

"M-moving? Where to?"

"Not sure. Just across town, most likely. Its not like there's many job openings for "Vampire Slayer" anywhere else. I just...I just think it would be best if Dawn and I left. There are good memories there too, and that's what I always used to say...the good would outweigh the bad. But lately, it's become downright uncomfortable living there. Even unbearable. I can't go into any room without remembering something terrible that happened there. My mom died in the living room, Dawn was possessed in her room more times then necessary, my room is still haunted with Angel memories, you tried to rape me in the bathroom." She felt Spike tense up and she turned towards him and looked in his eyes, "Which I forgive you for. Completely and totally. But it still hurts to go in there."

"Don't I know it. I won't go within a bloody 3 foot radius of the place. But, Buffy, pet, you think that once you move these memories will just disappear?" Buffy sighed once again and closed her eyes.

"No. No, I'm plagued with them forever." Her voice had a poignant, melancholy tone to it...as if she was searching for something but she didn't know what it was. It made Spike's heart break.

"Enough of this...let's go to The Bronze. You know I heard they reinstituted the flowering onion..."

~

Buffy rolled over in Spike's bed, blissfully. Her third month anniversary date had gone just as perfectly as she planned. Spike had a way of making her forget her problems or bad, interrupting thoughts...but in a healthy way, unlike when he was without soul. He always knew how to make her happy, which was not something she ever expected * him * to be able to do. She smiled to herself and looked over at Spike who was sleeping soundly. She nuzzled up to him and kissed his cheekbone. His eyes fluttered open and he gazed down at her contentedly.

"Hey there, you still up?" He asked, his voice still heavy from the hour of sleep he was just awoken from.

"Yeah." Buffy looked away for a moment and then looked back at him. Her Spike. The man she was in love with. She coughed into her hand and closed her eyes.

"Spike?"

"Hmm?" He was starting to doze again.

"Spike...I love you." Spike's eyes flew open. He stared at her in wonder. Had he really heard that or was it his mind playing tricks on him again?

"Say that again?" Buffy smiled and kissed him.

"I love you." With that a huge, jubilant smile went across Spike's features. He sat up and started laughing. He just kept laughing and laughing. She loved him. She had said it. It was really real. Joyous laughter just kept flowing from him, regardless of the fact that he probably looked and sounded like an idiot. But, then again, he was an idiot. He went halfway around the world to get a soul, voluntarily, so that a vampire slayer could love him. Every demon or vampire in the entire world considered him an idiot. It didn't matter to him though. He was love's bitch and he knew it. He glanced at Buffy and fell on top of her. He kissed her gently and gazed into her eyes.

"Ditto."

Then the two of them didn't talk again for a long, long time.

~

"But he does love her. I mean, he feels that he can't live in a world without her...that's love." Willow moped to Xander and Buffy the next night at The Bronze.

"It's not, though. If Romeo had been able to live without Juliet, they would've been together forever, happily married. He never really loved her. He was obsessed with her." Buffy reasoned.

"And Buffy is of course the expert on that topic, considering her most recent boy toy's past." Xander contributed. The two women stared at him, incredulously.

"What?" He asked.

"Open mouth, insert foot." Buffy remarked, smiling. She had gotten used to Xander's wry comments on her relationship with Spike...but she still called him on it.

"It still doesn't make sense though. Besides, Claire Danes is way too good for Leonardo DiCaprio." Willow rationalized.

"Well, I'm not arguing with that one," Buffy replied, "but enough about Shakespeare...how've you been lately?" Willow put on a smile and nodded.

"I've been okay. Better than okay, actually. I mean, sometimes when I'm at the mall or something, I'll see a cute sweater and say, "Ooh, Tara would've loved that!" and then I realize that I used the past tense which reminds me that she's gone which reminds me of Warren which reminds me of the fact that I killed him and almost killed Giles and hurt Dawn and hurt you and tried to end the world. Then I have to go away and eat a lotta ice cream."

"Ice cream is very much of the good." Xander said.

"I think a doctor should patent it as a legal drug...it does wonders when you're sad or lonely or PMSing." Buffy added.

"This is go great," Willow commented, "the three of us hanging out together again...like old times." Xander and Buffy smiled at each other and than at Willow. Xander picked up his beer and dramatically cleared his throat.

"I believe that this calls for a toast! To good friends and old times."

"To old times." Willow said.

"To old times." Buffy repeated, with a hint of sorrow plaguing her voice. She missed the old times. When it was herself, Wills, Xander, Cordelia, Oz, Angel, and Giles. The original Scooby Gang. Of course, she loved Spike more than anything, but she sometimes wished...

"Its getting pretty late there Buffster...maybe you should head home to Dawn?" Xander mentioned.

"Yes, mom." Buffy retorted, but then she sighed looking at her watch, "You're actually right. It's almost 12. If I don't get home soon, Dawn * will * get worried. I'll see you guys tomorrow, hopefully." She hugged Willow and then Xander. She looked at them once again and walked off. Xander watched as she walked away and felt a sadness overtake him that he couldn't explain. It was a lot like when he heard a train whistle in the distance late in the night. There was something sad and lonesome about that sound...just like there was something sad and lonesome about Buffy's goodbye.

~

The streets of Sunnydale were quiet as Buffy walked along the sidewalks. Too quiet, she thought, her slayer senses coming to a full alert. She took out a stake and held it against her, stopping abruptly. Her breathing got heavy and she slowly turned her body around, taking in her surroundings. Her heart rate elevated and she closed her eyes. When she opened them, she found herself face to face with an ugly, green Lork demon.

"I have to get home, so let's get this over with, okay?" Buffy said as she dropped her stake and got in her fighting stance. The demon lurched towards her and Buffy flipped him on his backside just as he cut into her stomach with a razor sharp claw.

"That hurt a little." Buffy whimpered. The demon flew back to its feet and went in towards Buffy's head.

"Not enough though." Buffy exclaimed as she hit him with a smooth roundhouse. She sent a flock of lightening quick punches his way, looking constantly around for something sharp that she could do him in with. The demon grabbed Buffy by the shirt tail and threw her out onto the street. She recovered quickly, grabbing her stake, aiming towards his heart. He might not've been a vampire, but she was pretty sure a stake to the heart would kill anyone. Next thing she knew, however, she was in a headlock...with cold hands around her neck. She gasped and looked up to see a vampire. Not a special one, just an ordinary one. She twisted and turned, but for some reason, she felt powerless in his arms.

"That's no ordinary cut ya got there, sweetie. It's a Lork demon cut. It paralyzes." The vampire laughed sadistically, "I can't wait to tell my friends. I killed not just a slayer...but * the * slayer. Buffy the Vampire Slayer is dead at my hands."

Buffy could hardly comprehend what was going on. She couldn't die. She had to get home to Dawn. She had to take care of Dawn. Plus, Spike couldn't survive without her. He needed her. Willow had been through too much pain. She...she couldn't lose Buffy. I'm not ready to die; again, Buffy called out in vain, Please, I don't have a death wish. I want to live. Next thing she knew however, she was floating up. Up towards a huge white light. She felt herself soar higher and higher. She was free...but all she could think about was Dawn.



~ The Next Night ~

Spike smirked as he watched one his old "Passion" reruns, which he had on tape. That bloody Charity was really daffy sometimes. Of course, she was a zombie in this episode, so that might've had something to do with it. Shaking his head, he flipped off his VCR and turned on Nick at Nite, hoping to catch some Cheers reruns. Unfortunately, it was a Brady Bunch marathon.

"Will do, I suppose. I can laugh at Mike Brady's hair." He murmured to himself. Suddenly, the show stopped just at the crucial point in which Marcia was going to tell on Greg for...gasp! * Almost * smoking a cigarette.

"This is Sunnydale Breaking News. The time is 9 p.m. and the temperature is 78 degrees with clear skies. Our latest story is of a young, 22-year- old woman found yesterday around 12 midnight, near the nightclub known as "The Bronze". She suffered from fatal neck injuries and was rushed to the emergency room immediately. Sadly, though, she was dead before they got her there. Oddly enough, when the SD Hospital coroner did a medial examination on the body 3 hours ago, she found that the body was completely "drained" of all blood.."

Spike could hardly believe the density of the people in Sunnydale. The proof was looking them straight in the eye and yet they failed to see the truth behind everything.

"..girl's sister was informed moments ago, as she was her only known living survivor. A foster home will be found for the young 16-year-old as quickly as possible. We now return you to Nick at Nite's Brady- Licious Groove- Worthy Marathon."

Spike stared at the wall. Only known living survivor. 16-year-old sister. 22-year old victim. He knew. It was Buffy. Absently, he grabbed his duster and headed out the door. He had to go to the Magic Box.

When Spike arrived at the shop, he was not surprised to find that all of the lights were on, despite the 8 o' clock closing time on Sundays. He entered, half-unaware of what he was doing and looked around to see the sullen, defeated faces of the rest of the Scoobs. Willow looked up into his eyes and it was confirmed. Buffy was gone. Spike sat in a chair and felt all of his insides tighten with a sob he didn't want to let fall. He was numbly aware of his head going into his hands and he would vaguely recall later crying out loudly and painfully. But what he would remember sharply was the feeling that he got. It was worse then the way the memories or the guilt of his past made him feel. He had a sense of emptiness. Of not wanting to go forward. Of being physically unable to go forward. After what seemed like days, Spike pulled himself together and stared emptily at Willow, Xander, and Anya. He choked back the oncoming cry he felt slinking up like bile and sighed heavily.

"Anyone call Giles yet?" He asked.

"I'm going to. I don't think Willow or Xander can handle making the call..." Anya said softly. Spike nodded and looked at Willow. Normally, his new soul would've had him feel for her, her having lost so many people. But he felt nothing. Nothing but a sharp, scorching pain within him. It was worse then before, because this time he had nothing. Dawn hated him and she would be sent to live with her father once the Social Services realized he was still alive. He only had his memories. Nothing more, nothing less. It hit him then. The Choosers. The ones Lurky had worked for. They could explain...explain why his only solace and only joy was taken away from him two days after she had professed her love for him. Two days after everything was so perfect. He jumped up and began to search for The Book. The simplest title, which held all of the ancient summoning or portaling spells. Xander, gradually aware of Spike's actions, walked over to the distraught vampire.

"Look, I hope you're not thinking of bringing Buffy back again...because it won't work. The urn is gone. Besides, she would just be angry with us again. She's happy now."

"Exactly how bloody daft do you think I am, Harris? I'm not looking for a spell to bring her back from the dead, I'm looking for a spell which will explain why she's dead in the first place." Spike replied in a tight voice. Xander nodded and patted him on the back.

"Look, I know we've never really gotten along and I know I've always believed that you were an evil, remorseless thing, but you did love Buffy. At least in these past three months. I still hate you, but I have at least a sliver more respect for you now, after you treated her so well." Xander said, his attempt at bonding going down the tubes.

"I just need to find a book called The Book. It's written in ancient Sumerian, but it should have an English translation under it. I helped Giles order the English version before he went back to Bath. Help me find it, alright?" Spike said, ignoring Xander's botched compliment. Xander nodded and began scouring the shelves.

"Locate Book." Anya's voice rang out, and suddenly, from behind a pile of wood that was still unfixed from the incident the past year, a shiny green book flew through the air.

"Thanks, luv. You're getting pretty good at that one." Spike said, his voice still lacking in emotion.

"Well, you know. I try." Anya said, trying to be cheerful, but failing miserably.

Spike took the book out of the air and paged through until he found a picture of five tall men in long black cloaks standing on a tall mountain, with every nightmare creature underneath them in an intricate labyrinth of death and destruction. The men, however, were standing tall, looking powerful and mighty...and good. Underneath the picture, an inscription read: "The Choosers: Ancient Destiny-Keepers, The Choosers control every action made by man or demon, being sure that each one has a reason for existing." Spike looked to the side and was surprised at how short the summoning spell was.

"O Great Choosers of Destiny Bring Me Forth To Thine Wonder I Request A Gathering" Spike read and in a flash, he felt himself being pulled through a tunnel. When he landed on the ground, he was bathed in sunlight.

"BLOODY HELL!" He yelled, grabbing his duster to throw over himself.

"Be unafraid, vampire," A deep voice said calmly, "You will not be harmed by the rays." Spike threw his head up to face the voice. There, before him, were the men in the pictures...tall and draped in black. He felt slightly calmer when he realized he wasn't exploding but was still in agony. The sunlight was scorching into him, making him feel like he should be exploding.

"Could you work your hocus-pocus and turn it down a few notches? I can hardly think in this pain."

"It is done." The sun began to set instantly and was soon at a dim light. Spike picked himself up and opened his mouth to speak to the Choosers.

"You seek answers." The tallest one said.

"Well...yeah." Spike replied rather dumbly.

"It is part of your destiny that you came to us."

"Funny how that works." Spike muttered.

"You wish to know about the death of a loved one."

"Yeah, look, Miss Cleo...I don't have time for this bullshit. I just want to know why the hell you took Buffy away from me again."

"All is not as it seems, vampire."

"The name's Spike if you don't mind."

"Your slayer is not gone. She lives."

"Yeah, yeah in "eternal paradise"...I know."

"You don't know." The Head Chooser glared at Spike, "You couldn't possibly. She lives on in another time and place. Her past. She is alive there."

"Not followin' ya here, Black Robe."

" Time is not of matter. You cannot feel time or touch time, so therefore you cannot harness it. She lives in the past, which is the present and the future at once."

"I'm not bloody Giles here, man. I can't decrypt things like that." The Chooser breathed in heavily. Vampires were far more impenetrable than he remembered.

"Everything happens for a reason. Buffy's entire life happened for a reason, though it may not be the reason she thought it was. She lived to bring the two of you together. So that she may die when she confesses her love for you, so that you may feel angered enough to summon us, so that we may tell you what is to come in your unlife and how you may bring her to her true destiny!!!"

" Alright, alright," Spike said, backing up slightly, "you've got my attention. What do you mean I have to bring her to her "true destiny"?"

"We will send you seven years into her past, where you will help the girl relive her life. The other one, the other souled vampire? You must be sure that they do not become involved with one another. That is of greatest importance. He must move to the City of Angels before the 6th day of the 6th month. Then, before the girl turns seventeen...she will meet her greatest adversary. I cannot reveal who or what this is. I am The Keeper of The Earthly Secrets, the greatest of the choosers. It is my duty and my responsibility not to disclose all matters of time and dreams."

"What will become of Dawn?" Spike asked, his brain working hard to process everything that had just been given to him.

"The sister will be no more. She is not needed in the true reality. Now go forth, vampire."

"Wait just a minute there. I love Buffy and I want to do this, but only on one condition." The Keeper of The Earthly Secrets stared at the vampire incredulously.

"You're giving me a condition?"

"You bet your ass I am. Dawn will come with me. Give her a new identity, do whatever the hell you please, but she has to come with me. Or else you've got no deal." All five of The Choosers stared, stunned, at Spike who glared at them defiantly. One of the shorter ones cleared his throat.

" I suppose I could pull some strings...give her a name, insert her into a family...I've always been partial to the name Ambrine. There's a family around that time...the Jones', they always wanted a girl...and I always liked them. I could just make them believe that she was a part of their family and then it would be easy. No one would ever have to know. Not even the Powers." The greatest Chooser sighed.

"Technically, its not part of her destiny, but we are the ones who decide all of those things. So now it is. Of course, I may have to add a more detailed fate along with it, if she's going to exist for more than a few hours now."

"Will she still have all of her memories?" Spike asked.

"Um, yes. Yes she will." The shorter chooser reiterated.

"Good doing business with you gentlemen. Now, about this going back in time thing..."

~

Dawn gloomily walked into Buffy's room. Touching the little knick- knacks and picture frames that surrounded a large white bed, she smiled softly at all of the memories that each thing filled. Everything there was filled with Buffy. Dawn felt tears come to her eyes as she lied down on Buffy's bed and squeezed her stuffed pig, which Buffy had fondly called Mr. Gordo. It was cruel. The way they had given Buffy back for two years, just to take her away yet again. She hated the world for putting her through such constant torture. Her reverie was broken when the door was quietly opened and Spike walked in. She smiled weakly at him.

"I guess third time's the charm, huh?" she sniffed. Spike sat down on the bed and put his arm around her. He hugged her gently and let her cry on his shoulder. When she finished, he looked into her eyes.

"Bit, there's something I gotta tell you."

~

"Let me get this straight, we read this gibberish and then we're back in 1997?" Dawn asked in awe after Spike explained what The Choosers had said.

"In a nutshell, yeah."

"But, I won't be Buffy's sister?" Dawn asked quietly.

"Er, no. You'll be Ambrine Jones."

"Ambrine?" Dawn asked dubiously.

"I know, but the short guy liked the name, so...Look, if I could make it so you were Buffy's li'l sis, I would. If I don't take ya now, you won't exist as soon as I do this spell. You'd be wiped off the face of the Earth. Every memory, every record, every documentation of you would be destroyed. Except for me. I'd remember you and I couldn't live knowing that you weren't."

"Weren't what?" Spike sighed and ran his fingers through her hair.

"Living."

~

Spike and Dawn sat around a large, bad-smelling candle in the Summer's living room, the lights dimmed to a soft glow.

"Essence of Slug?" Spike asked disbelievingly.

"It was the only candle Buffy had."

"That girl was very strange." He said shaking his head.

"I'm glad that we'll have more opportunity to delve into that strangeness." Dawn said softly.

Spike locked eyes with her and nodded his agreement. He clapped his hands and opened the auburn colored book that the Choosers had given him.

"Right then. Now we have to read this and then we'll be in the future."

"That easy?"

"Apparently." Spike said, wondering himself what the catch was. He cleared his throat and took Dawn's hand.

"Are you ready?" Dawn gulped and nodded.

"Alright, read this with me." The two of them looked down at the words on the old paper and began to read them aloud in unison.

" Ancient mysteries

Combine your power

Take us back to the place

Take us to where we're needed

O Mother of Earth

Hear our cry

Take us to the place that was foreseen

Hear us

Hear us

Take us

Take us"

When they finished the chant, the vampire and the girl looked around anxiously. Nothing happened.

"I guess that was a bust, huh?" Dawn said. As soon as she did, however, a black hole burst into the room, circling around. Lightening was all around them and Spike covered Dawn with his body.

"I think the catch is that we have to walk through that thing!" He yelled over the wind, which had also appeared in the Summers' living room.

"Ya think?" Dawn replied sarcastically.

"You still want to do this?" He asked, concerned.

"Of course, I do. Let's go." Spike nodded curtly and took her hand. Closing their eyes, he and Dawn walked into the hole and were immediately engulfed into blackness.

~

tbc.