Cold. All he could think of was the cold. And the pain from the multiple stab wounds across his aching torso. The robed guys had left, taking whatever they’d freed with them, but they’d left him down there. Alone. Absently, he wondered if the Scoobies would even look for him. And if they were, why they hadn’t found him yet.
‘They’re not looking for you’, the basement itself seemed to speak. ‘Why should they? You broke a wall, hurt that Andrew kid. Why should they care if you die down here?’
He heaved in a ragged breath, the ropes chafing his wrists, the cuts on his stomach and chest burning with the motion. “They’ll come…”, he rasped out, his throat dry after hours of whimpering and labored breathing. “She said… Buffy said.. she believes in me… They’ll come…” And yet he still felt so alone, and he wondered who he was trying to convince, the ‘voices’, or himself.
Another couple of hours passed, and there were no signs that anyone was looking for him. His skin had taken on a slight almost blueish tint from the cold and blood loss, and he was rapidly loosing consciousness. And something told him, that if he went to sleep now, he might never wake up. Still, he was so cold… and unconsciousness promised a release from the aches and pains that plagued him.
Fifteen more minutes, and Spike had all but given up. He’d stopped breathing, for it just forced more of his precious blood out of his body. He was too weak to heal any faster than a normal human, and he knew it. Still, there was a part of him that held out hope that he would be found. William, the eternal optimist, was in there now, along with Spike, and he believed that Buffy would find him. So Spike couldn’t help but feel it too. Still, he was very close to passing out. Maybe he’d just close his eyes for a little while…
Spike opened his eyes, to find the world slowly rotating. And he appeared to be lying down… on something metal.. outside…during the day.
DURING THE DAY!!??
He scrambled to his feet, which was rather difficult being that he was on a playground merry-go-round. He fell off the side of it and landed on his back in the warm sand. It was then that he noticed that he wasn’t on fire.
Wait a minute… He’d been in the school basement, on the wheel, hurt, bleeding… and.. he must have passed out.
“I’m dreaming,” he muttered, looking around. “Or am I?” This place lacked the… darkness of his usual nightmares. In fact, it was actually rather pleasant, especially considering the bleakness of his current ‘real’ surroundings. He closed his eyes, sighing quietly at the wonderful feeling of the sun on his face and arms. Glancing down, he found himself to be wearing a… tweed suit? Oh well. He’d worn weirder in dreams. There was that time with the banana skins and… Now was not the time to be thinking of that.
He drew in a deep breath, enjoying the daytime scents, and the fact that it didn’t seem to hurt to breathe anymore. That was good. That was very… He sniffed again. There was someone around… Someone familiar…
Upon rounding a tree, he was greeted with the rather strange sight of Giles on a swing. Admittedly, he was just… rocking there, but still. “Rupe?”, he questioned again, once he was sure he was within the ‘older’ man’s range of hearing.
Giles glanced up and gave a small smile. “Ah. There you are. I’ve been waiting.” He looked confused for a moment. “Somehow I thought you’d be here sooner. Oh well. Have a seat.” He gestured to the swing near him.
Tentatively, Spike lowered himself into the swing, surprised that he liked the feel of the plastic thing. Glanced over at his unofficial mentor. “What are we doing here, Rupert?”
Giles gave a small shrug. “Well, I’m in a hospital back in London, and you’re unconscious in the basement of the High School, so neither of us is actually *here* at all.”
“You know what I mean, Watcher.”
Giles sighed. “Yes, Spike. I do know. And first, I need you to know something.”
“I’m proud of you. I know it probably doesn’t mean anything, but I am. You’ve done an amazing thing by winning your soul, and besting your demon. You’ve started on a road that will, in the end, assure you a place wherever all of us will go when it’s our time.”
Spike’s jaw had dropped slightly. Rupert was proud of him? After all he’d done? After what he’d almost-
“Don’t even think of that, William,” Giles said suddenly, sternly. “That wasn’t you, and you know it. Deep inside, you know you’d never even attempt to hurt her.”
Spike’s eyes nearly bugged out of his head. “You can hear my THOUGHTS!?”
Giles sighed. “I wouldn’t be much of a guide if I couldn’t, now would I?”
Spike didn’t have an answer for that.
“Now,” the Watcher continued. “We’d best get started. I don’t know how much time we have. I have to come out of my coma sometime, and Buffy and the others are already looking for you. So I don’t have much time to show you what He needs you to see.”
“What who needs me to see?”
Giles looked at him. “About a month and a half ago, Spike, you went to a church. You asked for help, and now you’re getting it. But, like I said, we have a limited amount of time, so I suggest we get moving.” He started pumping his legs, making the swing go higher and higher. “Come on, now, William! We don’t have all day!”
Spike blinked, shrugged, and started pumping his legs, quickly catching up with the Watcher. If there were answers here, he sure as hell wasn’t going to miss them by not obeying his guide, even though this seemed rather ludicrous to him.
“Come on! Put your back into it! A Watcher knows no gravity!”
Spike looked at him, not pausing his legs. “A *what*? Rupert, mate, you’re the Watcher. Not me.”
“Faster! Faster!!”, was Giles’ only reply.
Spike shrugged. The man was in a coma. Of course he wasn’t entirely there. Spike obeyed and pumped his legs faster.
And screamed at the top of his lungs when the swing set suddenly catapulted them into the air.
Spike landed, face down, in a pile of hay. As he scrambled to his feet, quickly discovering that it is extremely difficult to get leverage in a haystack, he became aware that there were massive amounts of people and demons milling around.
A train whistle? A TRAIN whistle? Sure enough, it was. And an old steam engine, at that. He cocked his head, muttering apologies every time someone or something new pushed past him. He stood on his toes, doing his best to make out his surroundings. The park from before was no where to be seen. All there seemed to be was this train platform, and a train that stretched for seemingly miles. With the exception of the engine, all the other cars were box cars. Like the kind that you’d use to transport cattle, or some other livestock. Except that they were filled with people. All different species and races of humans and demons imaginable were crammed into car after car.
Now that his ears had adjusted to the noise, he could make out individual voices from the milling throngs, and they all seemed to be saying about the same thing.
“This isn’t happening…”
“We’re not here, this is an illusion..”
“This is completely illogical. A place like this can not exist, therefore, it does not.”
And they just kept muttering the same things, over and over, an endless litany, as some of the stronger species herded group after group into the box cars.
Suddenly, he caught sight of Giles and waved. Giles waved back, and made his way over to Spike, pushing through the throngs. “There you are. I was wondering where you’d gotten to.”
The vampire looked around. “Where is this place, Rupert? Who are all these people?”
Giles shrugged. “Don’t ask me, Spike. This is, after all, your mind we’re in. I must warn you, though. I’ve been told that I’m to help you ‘through’ something. What that is, I don’t know. But, knowing a bit about dreams and the worlds therein, I would believe that all of this must stand for something. The train, for instance, could be some sort of journey.”
Spike nodded slowly. “Yeah… I guess… But all these people…”
The Watcher looked around. “Yes… well. Perhaps they are all symbols of the same thing. We just don’t know what that is, yet.”
“*Rrrallphrash! Move on, gallfaph creatures!*”, some sort of burly looking demon said, pushing them ahead of him, prodding with one of the nightsticks that these ‘overseers’ seemed to have. “*Rrellin in train!*” It was speaking some sort of combination of English and whatever it’s native tongue happened to be. Whatever it was, it was nothing that Spike had ever heard before.
The vampire and Watcher allowed themselves to be prodded into one of the box cars at the front of the train. A few moments later, it began moving. Spike stood up and paced around the boxcar, stepping over people who had curled up on the floor, still in various stages of denial that this was even happening. And the smell… whew. There was a reason that showers were invented.
Giles watched the vampire from where he leaned against the wall. “Something wrong, Spike?”
“I’m looking for something.”
“I don’t know… But it’s not in this car.” He looked at Giles, pausing in mid step. “We should go check out the other cars, Rupe. There’s something… I’m supposed to be looking for something… or someone.. I’m not sure which.”
Giles shrugged. “Once again, it’s your dream. Let’s go.”
With some difficulty, they made their way to the back of the car that they were in, and Spike broke the lock that held the door closed, stepping out onto the narrow platform on the back. He quickly jumped to the other car, then turned and helped Giles cross by walking on the coupling between the cars. Then he broke the door into the next car.
How long, exactly, that they went through this monotonous sequence of smash, jump, help, smash, “Excuse me”, as they passed through the cars was unclear. Time seemed to have lost all meaning. Soon enough, they appeared to be at the last car.
Every car before had been filled with people in various stages of denial. From the people in the first car, curled up, bemoaning that it couldn’t possibly be real, to one car that had been filled with people just sitting there, shaking their heads and chanting “No no no no” over and over, to a car full of people crying that there was no way that this could be happening to them. The strangest thing was, they weren’t only all different species, they were also from all different time periods. There were knights in armor, society women from the nineteenth century, kings, queens, noblemen, slaves, all different people, from all different times, all with one thing in common, they didn’t believe that this was happening to them.
However, despite being in denial, the people had been relatively quiet, not even responding with more than just a nod or headshake when Spike or Giles questioned them. All in all, despite being smelly, all the cars had been quiet. So Spike and Giles were completely shocked when breaking open the door to the final car revealed a madhouse!!
People were screaming, pushing, shoving, biting, and clawing at each other franticly. Shouts of, “It’s not me! They want you!”, and the ever popular “This isn’t happening!!” kept ringing out from around the car, amid the sounds of landing punches and grunts of pain and anger. Spike didn’t know what to do. So, true to form, he did the first thing that popped into his mind.
“PEOPLE!!!”, Spike shouted, relieved when everyone stopped to look at him. “Look at yourselves! What good is all this fighting doing? Rather than fight, why don’t we all band together, go back to the front, and stop this train?! We don’t have to stand by and let them take us where we don’t want to go, right? Right?”
This got quite a reaction out of the crowd. The reaction being that they all turned and ATTACKED SPIKE AND GILES!!!
Knowing his chip still worked, and not wanting to risk testing dream rules on that point, Spike did the only thing he could think of. He leaped up, grabbed the rafters at the top of the boxcar, kicked a hole in the top of the car, and pulled Giles up after him.
And both of them were nearly knocked off by the wind. They quickly dropped to their stomachs to minimize their profiles.
“Our situation has not improved!”, Giles shouted over the howling wind. “And we didn’t even find whatever you were looking for!”
“Gimme a minute, Rupert! I’m trying to figure out what to do now!”
“It seems to me,” Giles continued as if the vampire hadn’t spoken. “That we’ve been going about this backwards! We were previously at the FRONT of the train! Rather than making our way back here, we should’ve gone to the engine, and stopped the train! Then we could’ve made our search of the boxcars in a much more leisurely fashion!”
Spike froze, and shot the Watcher a look that could’ve melted steel. “You just thought of that NOW!?”
“Well, no! But you seemed so certain about searching the cars that I figured-!” He shrugged awkwardly.
“Bloody HELL!” Spike slowly climbed to his feet, shifting his balance till he found a way to walk that didn’t allow the wind much leeway. “Come on! We’re gonna stop this train!”
Making their way back to the front of the train actually went a lot faster than the trek to the back had. Mostly because they didn’t have to push through mobs of people to get from car to car this way. When they were about three cars back from the tender, Spike stopped, squinting in the strange, reddish sunlight of this… wherever they were. The train was coming up on a bridge, and at the other side of the bridge was a tunnel.
A tunnel that roared and spat smoke and flames.
It was obviously the last stop for this train. Spike quickly realized that they’d have to stop the train BEFORE the tunnel, or everyone in those hundreds of cars would die. He hurried up, leaping ahead of Giles, his vampiric balance aiding him greatly as he ran the length of the remaining box cars to leap to the tender. He stood up instantly upon landing, and began to make his way to the engine, when he saw him. There was no mistaking who it was.
Angelus was the engineer.
“Oh, bloody perfect.”