From: Ktbookworm@aol.com

TITLE: Taking Hold of the Future: The First Steps
AUTHOR: Katie Hammill
E-MAIL/FEEDBACK: Ktbookworm@aol.com Please send feedback
RATING: PG I think
SPOILERS: Up through Enemies
DISCLAIMER: Buffy, Angel and the other characters do not belong to me. They
belong to Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and the WB network. No copyright
infringement is intended. Please don't sue.
NOTES: Many thanks to all the list members that commented on the episode
Enemies. The many comments inspired me, and for the first time a story idea
wouldn't go away and leave me alone. So here it is. Thanks to Lyndy for
proofreading, and many thanks to Tinkerbell for her excellent suggestions,
including the one that I stop obsessing and just send the thing out. Please
let me know what you think.

Taking Hold of the Future: The First Steps
 

Authors Note: *** Indicates dream scene.

        On some level Buffy realized that she was dreaming, that she was
observing something out of her own past, but the threat still felt real. She
yelled at her other self, desperately trying to wake the other Buffy to the
danger. 'Maybe if she finds out now, they can move faster. Maybe a little
advance warning to the escalating threat would save Jenny.'

        *** Buffy tossed and turned in bed, subconsciously aware of the
threat that hovered over her. Angelus stilled until she settled back into a
more peaceful sleep, and continued to sketch the tiny blond slayer, and plot
the next move in his grand campaign...
         "This isn't about you. It was never about you." Fear ran through
Buffy as she turned and sprinted for the library. Somehow she know it was
already too late, something awful had already happened, but she would never
abandon her friends to Angelus's cruel plans. ***

        Buffy cried out in pain and frustration, trying to wake herself up.
She knew what happened next; she'd relived what happened over and over again
all summer long. She was extremely grateful that the dream had only come back
once or twice since Angel's return from Hell.
Events steam rolled ahead, and she was once again standing above Angel, her
sword drawn back to strike the killing blow. But this time, something was
different...

        *** "Oh, no you don't lover," he growled angrily as the sword started
it's descent. Angelus reached out quickly and pulled on her knee, causing
Buffy to collapse forward. As he flipped her over this shoulder and through
the portal, she could hear him calling after her, "Enjoy the trip
sweetheart!"
        Buffy fell endlessly, her scream echoing in the darkness. Updrafts of
enormous heat caught her occasionally, and buffeted her about. More than once
the swirling vortex or the fierce heat driven winds pushed her through the
rain of fire and lava, searing her to the bone in unbearable agony. Yet each
time Buffy felt the blessed relief of unconsciousness welling before her she
was painfully healed, only to repeat the process again. Eventually she fell
onto a burning plain, divided by streams of boiling magma and pools of
bubbling tar. Buffy leaped to her feet as soon as possible, sweating
profusely, and wishing desperately for some water. She turned to survey her
surroundings, well aware she was in hell when she heard someone screaming for
help. Unable to resist, and desperate to concentrate on anything other than
her predicament, Buffy followed the sounds to their source. What she found
surpassed even her worst nightmares.
        Angel - and she could tell immediately that it was HER Angel from the
look of agony in his eyes, was the victim. He was chained naked to a bed, and
being tortured. Darla, Druscilla, Jenny, Kendra and Faith circled him, taking
turns with branding irons, whips, and holy water. As they worked they taunted
him with his crimes; submitting to Darla, driving Dru insane, killing Jenny,
allowing Buffy to be killed so that Kendra was called - an act that had
ultimately led to her death and Faith being called. They taunted him with
failing to keep Buffy safe and with how his body continued to hurt her as
Buffy scrambled forward, only to run up against an invisible wall of some
kind. She moved desperately, to get to him as the scene changed, only to
discover that the wall had formed a magical circle of some kind to keep her
out; she could walk completely around the 'room' but she couldn't get closer
than ten feet away.
        When Buffy realized what was going on next, she wished she was even
farther away, but when she tried to back up, she found another wall had
sprung up behind her. She was effectively pinned in place, forced to watch
them take turns teasing his battered body to arousal and taking turns raping
him and telling him it was only fair since his body had done the same to each
of them.
        Angel turned his head away in agony, unable to prevent the physical
response to their caresses, only to see Buffy standing there. He reached for
her, pleading with her to end it, screaming for her to make it stop, but try
as she might Buffy couldn't get any closer. "Why!?" he screamed accusingly.
"Why won't you make the pain go away?!" he sobbed. Buffy stepped back in
horror, her heart bleeding. When she found the wall behind her gone, she
turned to run, hoping desperately to find someone in that desolate hell that
would help her save him. Angel's screams followed her. "No! Don't leave me! I
need you! Only you can make it stop Buffy! I'm so sorry for hurting you....
don't go!" ***

        Horrified, Buffy listened to Angel cry out for her as she watched her
dream self run away. "Stop!" she screamed. "You can't hurt him anymore; stay
with him until you find away to help! Please!" Buffy begged, tears rolling
down her face, as she watched pain and despair well in Angel's eyes as the
hope started to die. "You've hurt him so much; don't hurt him anymore! PLEASE
..."

**********************************************************

        "... STOP!" Buffy woke up suddenly, having waken herself with the
scream. Tears were streaming down her cheeks and she was almost choking on
the deep, shuddering sobs. She sat up and blindly reached for the light on
her bedside table, desperate to get out of the dark. As the Slayer Buffy was
usually all to comfortable in the dark, but sometimes, especially after the
dark, horrific dreams, it was too much to take. She stumbled out of bed,
trying desperately to calm down as she got out of bed and went to her door. A
shiver raced down her spine, and she wrapped her arms around herself as she
crept down the hall and peaked into her mother's room.

        Joyce was sleeping soundly in her bed, a small smile on her face.
Buffy stared at her for a long moment, wishing fruitlessly for the days when
crawling in next to her mother kept the bad dreams at bay. She sighed and
turned away as tears once more welled in her eyes and another shiver ran down
her back as she realized those days were long over. Buffy softly closed the
door to her mother's room and headed back to her own, her fears barely held
at bay. She crawled back into bed, accidentally brushing against the bedside
table as she did so, only to nearly jump out of her skin when a book was
knocked to the floor.

        "God Buffy, calm down," she breathed to herself as she reached for
the book, annoyed by the tremble in her hands as she picked it up and
absently flipped through the pages. "After all, you kill the things that go
bump in the night. Just because you've been having wretched dreams for a week
and a half is no reason to come unhinged. I mean it's not like it's never
happened before..." Buffy's pep talk trailed off as her eyes locked onto a
passage in the book, her old diary. Shivers coursed through her small frame
with increasing regularity as she read the description of the dream she'd had
just before her seventeenth birthday, the one in which Druscilla killed
Angel. Tears welled in her eyes anew as she recalled how she'd gone to his
apartment the next day, and how holding him, kissing him had chased the fear
away. Something tickled the back of her memory as she flipped a few weeks
forward in the diary, pain in hear heart starting to chase the fear away.

        *I told Willow last night that it was so hard, because Angel was
always the one I ran to when things got to be too much, and now he's the
problem. They look so alike, but are so different. She agreed but pointed out
that I'm still the only thing he thinks about; aren't I just so lucky...*

        Buffy dropped the book from her suddenly nerveless fingers and stood
frozen for a long moment. Bits of pieces from her dreams of the past two
weeks, particularly the one she'd had that night mixed with the memories of
happier times, the images brought back by her old diary entry, and the final
discussion between herself and Angel after deceiving Faith. Of the pain she
had once vowed never to put in his eyes again, yet had caused once again in a
blind, selfish panic. Buffy snapped out of her trance, fear once again
becoming her focus as she scrambled into her tennis shoes and grabbed her
jacket as she went out the window and running into the night. The difference
was that this time, the fear wasn't for herself, or the horrors she saw in
her dreams. This time she was scared for her Angel, and what she may have
done to her dearest love.

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