tennyo_elf: (SadSpuffy)
[personal profile] tennyo_elf
Title: Originally Normal
Beta: Science, Puddin, and TJBW (lots of credit goes to these three, they did a wonderful job editing this story)
Rating: FRT
Genre: Season 7 AU
Summary: It's been a year since season 6 and things are going OK for Buffy. That is until things start going wrong and someone finally comes back into her life.

Running as fast as they could, Buffy and Spike jumped over a fallen branch to get away from the seeing red mob of Sunnydale residents hot on their trail. They dropped to the damp and muddy ground under foliage as the mob ran past. Buffy counted at least ten people run by, each with the same blank, glazed expression.

Buffy felt Spike’s arm over her. His warm hand trembled as he gripped her side. She glanced at his face as he scanned the area, hardly paying attention to his instinctive impulse to hold her close when danger was nearby. The warm protection in his embrace was hardly necessary, but Buffy craved it. Spike let out a shaky breath as he clenched his jaw and Buffy knew what he was feeling, since she felt the same.

When the sound of the mob’s footsteps faded, Spike meet Buffy’s eyes. “I think we’re safe for now. They’ll be back. Best bet is to find some place in this bloody forest that isn’t on the beaten trail.”

“I’m not really that familiar with this place. Demons don’t tend to be tree huggers.”

Spike laughed through his nose. “Yeah, we’re not …” He stopped himself and shook his head. “They’re not best friends with dear old Mother Earth, at least, not that I remember.”

“We should head in the direction where it’s denser and more of a pain to travel through.”

“Sounds about right.”

They stood up and began to cautiously to make their way deeper into the forest that surrounded Sunnydale. It was getting dark and a slight chill raced up Buffy’s spine. Now that they were no longer running, her sweat-soaked skin began to feel like a thin ice coating. Buffy began to shiver, and since Spike still held her hand protectively, he knew immediately.

He stopped walking and turned to her. “You okay, Buffy?”

“I’m fine, Spike.” Her teeth clattered at the last syllable, and she closed her eyes, hating the fact she was found out.

Spike didn’t say anything, but Buffy could imagine the look on his face. It was the same one he always gave her when he’d caught her lying. Just picturing that look was enough to bring her anger to a slow boil. If anything, that could warm her up. But Buffy was stunned when Spike, so very slowly and tentatively, wrapped his arms around her and pulled her to his chest.

“One good thing about being human, I make my own heat.”

Buffy rested her head on his chest and listened to his beating heart, not caring that he had so brazenly taken her into his embrace. His arms and body were warm and comforting. She felt safe enough to just be. “This is my fault. I couldn’t figure out those coins sooner, and now I’m stuck out in the cold while all my friends are being mind controlled.”

She could feel Spike’s head shift toward her. “Not all your friends, love.”

Buffy breathed in deeply and tilted her head back to look at him. “Is that what you are, Spike? My friend?”

“If you want me to be.” He was looking at her patiently, almost as if he was holding his breath.

Buffy thought about what Spike was to her. She couldn’t define what they were or who they were to each other. Thinking back on what he once told her, she vaguely began to understand their bond. “We’ll never be friends, Spike.”

Disappointment immediately flashed across his face, and she watched as his Adam's apple slowly bobbed. His expression quickly changed to resigned indifference. Before he could reply, Buffy spoke again.

“We’re more than that.”

Buffy felt Spike’s hands tighten on her back. She watched as his eyes softened. “What …what does that mean?”

A rustle in the bushes and the sound of voices coming towards their direction broke them apart before Buffy could answer. They both began to scan the area. The voices grew louder and she felt his hand grip hers tightly. She flashed him a puzzled look.

“There’s a cliff nearby, should be able to find a cave, someplace they won’t be able to find us.” Spike’s rushed answer ignited Buffy’s prior panic.

“Unless we run into a dead end.”

“Not gonna. Come on.”

They began to move faster, leaving little chance for Buffy to feel cold. Stray branches smacked their legs as they ran, stinging their skin, further warming their bodies. Becoming more and more exhausted with each step, she realized just how weak and normal she was feeling. As her breaths began to come out in harsh gushes, she knew her powers were almost completely gone.

The oncoming mob sounded closer even though they were running nearer to the cliff and deeper into the forest. It was almost as if the mob knew exactly where they were. Buffy and Spike ran into a clearing just before the face of the cliff. Spike abruptly stopped and since they were holding hands Buffy bumped into him, but kept her eyes straight ahead. They were both taken aback by what they saw. At the foot of the cliff was a demon, dressed in modern and expensive clothes. He was humanoid, but blue-skinned. In his hand he held a coin which he flipped casually between his fingers.

“Hello you two. Didn’t think you’d find me.”

Buffy stepped forward, her anger making her forget her feeling of powerlessness. “Who are you?”

The demon grabbed the coin from mid air and stuffed it in his pocket. “You don’t know me?”

Spike narrowed his eyes. “You’re the demon causing the big ruckus.”

The demon laughed. “Oh, dear me. It’s not a ruckus. It’s fun.”

Buffy raised her eyebrows at him. “You think this is fun?”

The demon shrugged. “Not to you. And not to my master, but he isn’t a lot of fun period. To me it’s a blast!”

“Your master? The vamp that owns a division or something?”

“Or’Divi is his name, sweetling. Don’t forget that.”

“And you are?”

“Mens’tis is my name and mental games are my thing.” Mens’tis rolled his shoulders as he spoke, barely trying to conceal his grin.

As the mob’s voices grew louder, Buffy knew they were almost out of time. “Mental games? So you’re controlling everyone … why?”

Mens’tis took out his coin again before speaking. “That’s my job. Have to feed the little Hell Mouth for what’s coming. Gotta hand out these little guys to my master’s servants to make sure they do as they are told.”

“And what’s coming, mate? Care to share?” Spike’s voice rumbled with suppressed anger. Buffy let go of his hand so they both could get ready for a fight.

“Oh no, of course not! Are you two idiots? The bad guys never share their plans, unless they’re idiots themselves.”

“Then I guess we’ll just have to kill you if you’re not willing to share.”

Mens’tis gave them a reproaching glare. “I have a mob on its way here to take care of you two. Your friends, Miss Slayer, I have instructed to throw themselves into the Hell Mouth. I hear you’re weak now. So you have to make a really hard choice. Try to save your friends or take on me and a whole bunch of silly humans in your weakened state.” Mens’tis smiled sweetly as if he was hit by a sudden thought. “Plus you’ll be all by yourself.”

Mens’tis raised his hand towards Spike, concentrating on the former vampire and Buffy quickly focused her attention on her ex-lover. Fear wrapped around her. She knew that, being human, Spike was vulnerable to mind control. She would truly be alone in this fight and with hardly any powers.

Spike just smirked. “Looks like your magic trick isn’t working.”

Buffy sighed in relief as Mens’tis dropped his hand and furrowed his brows. “Huh, why isn’t it working?”

“I think we could kill you before your backup gets here, blue bonnet.” Spike tightened his fist, ready to attack. Buffy gave him a short nod. She was ready, too.

The demon suddenly relaxed his expression and his posture. “I know why! A former demon that changed for love! You, my boy, have a bit more heart than brains. My powers only work on those with a bit more brain power than that.”

“Oi!” Spike’s angered reaction only seemed to amuse the demon more.

“That’s it. No one insults my boyfriend.”

Spike quickly looked at Buffy, shocked by her choice of words.

The demon however simply began to laugh. “I feel it! Silly darling. You are no longer the slayer. It’s all gone! And you know what that means?”

Buffy grew stone still. Pushing aside her anger and fear, she felt it as well. She could no longer sense the power in her. She could no longer feel the essence of her calling. The very last of it was gone, and she was too late. She stared wide eyed at Mens’tis who was grinning at her. And suddenly she couldn’t think at all anymore. Everything was blank and empty. Nothing she wanted mattered, and the only thing she could do was obey the voice in her mind. She felt bound by it.

“Buffy, no!” She heard Spike call her name but she wasn’t allowed to react to it.

Buffy was no longer in control of herself. She turned toward Spike and readied herself for battle.

Mens’tis laughed and spoke to Spike. “With zero powers I can control her now. Even with that little bit she had left she was protected …ah, but no more. This is gonna be fun.”

Buffy attacked Spike, but he blocked her assault quickly. She watched in horror, from the trapped confines of her mind, as her fist flew toward him once again. He ducked and avoided her blows but refused to hit back. He wasn’t going to attack her. Instead, as she pressed forward, any attack he couldn’t block, he let go through. She hit him once across the face and again in the ribs. Buffy didn’t know how much damage she was doing now that she was human but it must have hurt nonetheless.

As powerless as she was, she couldn’t fight against the mind control. Hitting Spike sent painful reactions through her body. Buffy could feel the tears running down her face, but she couldn’t wipe them away. Any emotion she felt besides the pain was out of reach. And she continued on, attacking Spike helplessly. Her limbs, the muscles attached to them were no longer a part of her. She was just a doll, a puppet on strings.

Spike rolled away from her, and she followed. He grabbed a large branch that had fallen and quickly struck out, but instead of hitting her, Spike aimed his attack at Mens’tis. The attack clobbered the demon, who fell to the floor in a heap. The demon’s hold lost a bit of its power, and Buffy stopped in her tracks. Through the haze that obscured her mind, she dimly noted Spike’s charge toward her. The feel of his hands on her arms shook her consciousness. He placed himself so she was forced to look into his eyes.

His gaze was intense, and Buffy felt compelled to keep eye contact. “Listen to me. You’re stronger than this. Your heart is just as strong as mine, Buffy, maybe even stronger. Don’t let him win. Don’t let him continue to have a hold on you. Don’t stop trying, sweetheart. You never stop trying. I know you. It’s why I love you … because you keep at it. Through all the pain, you keep trying, love. I know all of you. I know the best and worst parts of you. This isn’t you, love, letting this demon control you. Buffy, I love you. Please, Buffy, come back to me.”

The tears that Buffy had dimly felt were now running fast down her cheeks, and the touch of Spike’s warm fingertips on her skin electrified her. She felt a power grow inside her, a power that she had felt once before. Self confidence and strength surged forth. A fierce determination engulfed her in flames, and suddenly her heart grew larger. Everything that had come before, everything that she was or had been, collided together. She was her power, her heart was full of love, and all she ever needed was just herself. The powers she once had really had only come from within.

Buffy gently touched Spike’s face. “I’m here, Spike. I’m here.”

Spike gave her the biggest grin she had ever seen on him. “Then can we kill this thing and go home?”

“Oh, yes. I’m gonna give Mister Menstrual cycle a dose of Buffy.”

Spike and Buffy turned to face Mens’tis as he stood up.

“I’m impressed, little thing, that you--” Mens’tis was cut off by their combined attack.

Buffy sent out her knee to his groin while Spike aimed a fist at his chin. Buffy hooked her leg around the demon’s own and pulled, causing him to lose balance. Spike caught him by the collar of his expensive-looking shirt as Buffy grabbed the demon’s belt, removing the thin material from his pants. Unable to move by the combined forces of both Spike and Buffy, Mens’tis could do nothing as Buffy tied the belt around his neck and pulled, using all the weak human force she could muster.

Mens’tis’ mouth filled with blood, and Spike let go of his collar. The demon fell to floor once again, but this time in two pieces. His head rolled into the bushes, to be picked at by the forest residents. The dirt underneath the demon’s body was soon soaked with the blood that poured from his mutilated neck.. Buffy, with pure disgust, threw the belt she had used to kill Mens’tis on the floor. She was breathing heavily, but she didn’t care. Spike slumped to the ground, exhausted.

The voices of the mob nearby had turned confused and worried, but were far away enough that they wouldn’t stumble upon the pair next to the mangled demon body. Buffy glanced down at Spike who smiled back at her.

“I’ve had enough for one night. Want to go home?”

Spike looked up at the sky, staring at the newly awakening stars. “Home sounds about right.”

“Want to order a pizza on the way?”

“Better order two, maybe three, with the whole lot of us probably starving from this bleedin’ ordeal.”

Buffy warmly clasped Spike’s hand as she helped him to stand. Spike and Buffy both put an arm around the other, helping each other remain upright as they slowly made their way home.

After consuming four pizzas, the group all seemed ready to pass out in Buffy’s living room. Xander was happily slouched on the floor near the window. Willow and Dawn were snuggled on the couch. Giles was having a hard time sitting straight on the arm chair. Spike was resting on the floor as well, with Buffy not far away.

Buffy looked at each, happy that they were safe and free from the mind control. The town was free from Mens’tis but not everyone had made it. There were accounts of people missing and a few reports of people watching as others threw themselves into a pit. The fact that demons and vampires were real wasn’t something that everyone could easily forget or ignore. It had been all over the news. There was one thing Buffy was grateful for though. “Buffy Summers” was now safe from the public spotlight.

Everything was almost normal, except Buffy was now powerless. She was no longer the Slayer. And she had still kept that information from her friends. Friends she considered family.

Buffy stood, ready to face her next challenge. “Guys?”

Slowly, one by one, they looked up at her. The heavy lidded eyes on each of their faces told Buffy that they were tired, though she suspected that some were indignant that she was interrupting their lazy rest.

“I have something to tell you. It’s been going on for a while now, and I didn’t know how you guys would react.”

“You’re dating Spike again?” Xander’s slur almost made him incomprehensible.

“Um, no, well, kinda, maybe. But that’s not what I’m talking about.” Buffy again looked at each of her friends. “I’ve been losing my Slayer powers, which is why I’ve been kind of wonky lately. Tonight I lost the last of my powers.”

She had everyone’s attention now.

“I’m no longer the Slayer. I’m just like everyone now, as normal-y as normal can get.”

The moment the words left her mouth Buffy felt free of the burden. She felt free of her calling and her duty. She knew now, she could do anything she wanted to do. Buffy was surprised when her friends all stood and silently embraced her. Enfolded in their arms, Buffy wondered why she had waited so long to tell them.

When Spike put a hand on her shoulder, Buffy grabbed it tightly. She knew she was going to be fine. She had her family here, and nothing could stop her now.

Next... (next chapter wraps things up before the small epilogue of 11)... <3 Thanks again for reading!
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