Buried Alive came to be in the oddest way. My friend Dare used to have a huge crush on the Undertaker (from WWF) and he was on an episode of Poltergeist: The Legacy. I don't watch the show, but I was watching the first five or ten minutes of the episode he was in because I wanted to see him. I don't know how the story ended or anything because I just watched the very beginning. Anyway, this was after I'd finished High Noon, and I was trying to figure out what I was going to do for my next story. I had no clue. So then I was telling Dare about the episode and that the Undertaker had played this guy who was from the "other side" or whatever and was trying to bring this dead guy back. And after we had talked about that I was bugging her and going...what am I going to do? I need an idea for a story. And Dare was saying that I should write a fic with the Undertaker in it. And I was going...ha ha, that's the stupidest idea ever. But we kept talking about it, and I realized that it actually would work. Not the Undertaker, but the idea of a being from hell. It fit perfectly with All Men Are Beasts. If Angel had come back from hell with a guy trying to take him back, that would be a great catalyst for writing a story about the inhuman which I was definitely interested in.
I hadn't been too happy with the way they dealt with it on the show because a) Buffy hid it from everyone b) Buffy didn't break up with Scott :P and c) Angel recovered way too fast. So I figured, this is great. If Angel was being threatened, it would force her to tell the others, and it would force her to confront her feelings for Angel. I also wanted to take a stab at Angel's animal mentality. I wanted to do some POVs to try to write his thought processes as an animal, and do some exploration of his experiences in hell. So it turned out, the Undertaker's character on Poltergeist got turned into the Hound. I tweaked him, and turned him into a threat but not a real villain. I didn't want him evil. I just wanted him doing his job. I thought it would give the story some shades of gray, because you can argue Faith and Xander side, that maybe they should just let the Hound take Angel. And I felt like it would both make it harder for Buffy since he was a sort of sympathetic guy (relative to Kakistos or someone like that) and give me the chance to have him spare Angel's life...which he wouldn't have done if he was evil or incapable of thought/mercy.
I loved writing the Angel dreams for this story. It was difficult because I had to change my writing style to make it more animalistic. The first dream I tried to write was WAY too coherent. I actually ended up using part of it for the very last dream. I had to start over, write a new dream, and work hard to keep things more basic, more instinctual, less complex. And I tried to add complexity of thought as the dreams went along. I wanted it to be a sort of backwards progress that would correspond to the progess he was making outside the dreams. As he was starting to talk, I wanted his dreams to be more articulate and human as well. So it sort of went from...the first dream being Angel at the end of his time in Hell. Totally broken and lost. To earlier times in Hell when he was lost, but less so, etc. And then the final dream is Angel as he is on Earth at the current time, faced with the choice of whether to recover himself or not. I also wanted to use the torments he'd suffered to reinforce Angel's love for Buffy, and for the other Scoobies as well. I think there was some confusion for people when the story first came out. Some people felt like they were flashbacks of Hell. Others didn't know what the final dream meant, because it wasn't taking place in Hell necessarily. It wasn't a torment. My perception of it was always that they were *dreams*. And that those dreams were based on what happened to him in Hell. They weren't exact flashbacks; they were his subconscious bringing those experiences into a dream. And the final dream is not something that happened to him in Hell, it's his subconscious making the choice to accept the pain of remembering who he is. The dreams of hell are nightmares that help the reader understand why he is so hurt and broken, the final dream is the start of a healing process.
One of the definite challenges that came with writing Angel as a beast was the no language thing. When writing Buffy fic, a lot of times I feel like it's all about the dialogue. Buffy dialogue on the show crackles, and I try to duplicate that as best I can. So taking away Angel's ability to speak and carry a conversation was definitely a difficult thing for me to pull off. I needed for the love between Buffy and Angel to be really clear, without them having any conversations. And I also needed for Angel's thoughts to be conveyed somehow. Part of that came with the dreams. But also, Buried Alive is very tangible. I tried hard to write the descriptions in a way that would allow people to really see and feel what was going on. I think being forced to write that way was a good thing for my writing, because it forced me to concentrate on movement, touches, looks, all those little details that sometimes get lost. In the end the detail was much richer than the stories I'd written before, and I don't think that I could have written Three Doors (or it wouldn't have been the story it is) if I hadn't written Buried Alive first. Both some of the tone of high drama that is part of Buried Alive, and the attempt to make things really vivid and tangible carried over to Three Doors.
Plotwise it wasn't that complicated. Once I'd figured out who the Hound was and what he wanted, most of it was taken care of. The main concern was pacing. I couldn't have the Hound return too many times or he'd lose any scariness he had. He was supposed to be invincible, so if he'd kept showing up and not taking Angel, or if he'd waited too long between his appearances then it'd undermine that invincibility. But I needed to deal with a lot of relationship stuff in the meantime so he couldn't just show up once. Obviously the main focus relationship-wise was Buffy/Angel, and there I guess my intention was just to show how deep that love goes. I had all Angel's dreams revolve around Buffy, because I felt like that was the thing that would make him feel the most deeply, and if he was being tormented in hell, that would be used against him. I also thought it was important that after all the stuff they'd been through second season, both of them are willing to sacrifice their lives for the other. And I wanted it to be clear that even if Angel forgot who he was, I thought the one thing he would never forget was loving Buffy. I wanted to deal with other relationships as well though. After Becoming I was expecting a lot of things to come out, and hoping to GOD someone would finally call Xander on acting like complete asshole for half a season. That didn't happen on the show. The confrontations they did have in Dead Man's Party, etc. were very unsatisfying to me. So I also used the story to touch on Giles' anger at what Angel did to him. Xander finally getting told to stop being so selfish. And Willow confirming her friendship for Buffy. I felt like if they were thrown together and forced to deal with their issues, they'd come out even more tight-knit than before.
So that's Buried Alive. A pretty simple plot that I used as a vehicle to address relationship stuff I felt got short shrift on the show.