tennyo_elf: (SadSpuffy)
[personal profile] tennyo_elf
Title: Originally Normal
Beta: Science and TJBW (lots of credit goes to these two, they did a wonderful job editing this story)
Rating: FRT (This chapter mentions the AR!!)
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.
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The living room at Buffy’s house was well lit. More than comfortable lighting would be required to dispel the grim attitude filling the room, however. Buffy, Willow, Xander, and Dawn sat in silence, staring at one another. Just moments ago everyone had been discussing the current situation. Buffy hoped that even without telling them about her changes or Spike, they could come up with a solution--or at least help her pinpoint what was going on. It was her mention of her call to Giles that had caused the awkward silence to fall over the group.

No one wanted to admit that calling Giles felt like defeat. Though Giles mentioned the most adult thing anyone can do is sometimes ask for help, Buffy wanted to be able to deal with these issues on her own, though she knew she couldn’t. Everyone knew they needed Giles. Buffy knew they would need all the help they could get, especially with her getting weaker.

Buffy hoped her calling Giles didn’t leave anyone with the impression that something more was up. Not wanting to give away her fears and worried they may be too obvious on her face, Buffy stood, turning her back on her friends and family.

“There has to be something we’re missing,” Buffy said, a little forcefully.

“There probably is. We just don’t know what yet,” said Willow.

“That’s kinda the point,” Xander shifted to look at Willow who was sitting next to him, “Any all-solving magic spells you could use to maybe point us in the direction we need to look?”

“I tried to use a spell to find concentrated demonic aura and found that the whole of Sunnydale is saturated with it, but no direct leads.”

“The emblem on the coins is really distinct; we should be able to find something right?” Dawn leafed through a heavy tome on demonic symbols and emblems.

“We got zilch.” Willow’s voice carried just a hint of exasperation and defeat, a combination Buffy didn’t particularly like.

Buffy turned around with a renewed sense of determination, “We need to look harder, search for anything weird or suspicious.”

Xander perked up, “My crew stumbled on this weird underground tunnel yesterday and since weird tunnels aren’t not normal in Sunnydale I didn’t think anything of it, even when the crew looked a little spooked after they left.”

Dawn added, “Then we focus on underground areas.” Her voice gushed with excitement at the prospect of field work.

Buffy nodded at Xander and Dawn, “Exactly. We can start with the construction site and spread out from there. We need all the clues we can find.”

“And I have just the clue you need,” the new voice startled everyone in the room. They all turned to find Spike leaning against the living room wall, as far from everyone as possible.

Buffy didn’t know what to make of Spike being in her house again, even though he had recently saved her life. Twice. He sported a cut on his neck, but otherwise looked better than the last two times she'd seen him.

It took a moment for Buffy to notice her friends’ reactions to Spike’s presence. They had all stood to face him with matching glares. The room felt hotter and even grimmer than it had just moments before.

It was too much for Buffy; she turned away from her friends and from Spike. No one said anything, but even with her back turned, she felt all eyes on her. She didn’t know if she could dig up things from the past. She thought she had moved past it, but seeing Spike here and now made everything feel fresh. She knew she felt something still for Spike, even with what he'd done.

Buffy shook her head. She had to remain professional. She couldn’t afford to focus on personal matters when Spike might have a clue to her dilemma.

Buffy turned around and took three steps in Spike’s direction, hands on her hips, “Okay, what do you know?”

Spike nodded and pushed off from the wall and took a slow step towards Buffy, “I got the drop on who those vampires were working for.”

Buffy could almost feel the air shift as her friends shifted gears from angry to confused. She wasn’t surprised when Xander asked, “Wait, vampires? What vampires? And why do we care what Spike knows about vampires?”

“You saw Spike and didn’t say anything?” Dawn’s anger was clear in her voice.

Buffy turned to her friends. She hated the looks of disappointment and bewilderment on their faces. She spoke quickly, “Yes, I saw Spike a few days ago. He saved my life when a few vampires got the upper hand.” Buffy hoped her brief explanation would dispel the questions her friends had, at least for now. She wanted to hear what else Spike had to say.

“The upper hand? Buffy, why didn’t you say anything?” Willow’s clear concern almost relieved Buffy.

“Buffy’s had other things on her mind, I’m sure. Ain’t that right, love?” She probably should have been upset at Spike’s nerve in answering for her, but she was too grateful for the escape route.

“No one asked you Spike,” the venom in Xander’s voice was palpable.

Spike looked down and didn’t retort.

“Spike’s right. I did. We have a mystery to solve,” Buffy looked back to Spike. “And you have some information?”

“The demon that sent those vampires goes by the name of Favisa’el. He's been digging himself a nice little freeway under our feet.”

“Anything more?” Buffy was impatient to get the information so she could go kill it and have one less thing to worry about.

“Uh … I might know where it is currently.”

“So you can show us?” Buffy continued on when Spike nodded, “Okay then. We’ll get weapons and leave. You’ll show us the way.”

“Anytime you’re ready,” Spike left the living room and walked to wait by the front door.

Buffy didn’t know why he was helping, nor did she care; she wasn’t going to let it affect her, and it wasn’t going to be a way for him to win her back. She turned and walked to her weapons chest, “You heard Spike, gear up. We’re leaving.”

Xander approached Buffy slowly to whisper in her ear, “I don’t like this, Buffy-”

“I know what you’re going to say, Xander. And you’re right, but he has information, and I know I can take him in a fight if need be. Plus, we’re all going together.”

Xander stared at her for a moment, then nodded, “Okay, but if he so much as makes one wrong move, I’m staking him.”

Buffy stopped looking for weapons and met Xander’s eyes. She understood her friend’s protectiveness, but responded, “It won’t come to that.”

With that Xander began to pick out his weapon as Dawn joined them. Buffy heard them squabble over an axe as she walked away with her own weapon.

Willow waited patiently near the couch, an unsure expression clouding her face. Buffy didn’t know if it was because of her magic control issues she still had or because of Spike. A year ago Willow had tried to destroy the world, and Spike had tried to force himself on Buffy. If any crime was bigger, it was Willow’s. But Buffy had forgiven Willow already for it. Perhaps Willow was wondering if Buffy had already forgiven Spike for his.

Buffy perched on the arm of the couch and studied her friend, “You okay, Wills?”

Willow tried to smile, “I’m fine.”

“You sure? That looks like a pretty unhappy face to me.”

Willow shifted and wrapped her arms around herself, “Just some thinky thoughts.”

“Want to tell me?”

“Some other time maybe?” Willow gave Buffy a pleading look.

Buffy decided not to pry, “OK, another time. Ready?”

“As I’ll ever be,” Willow looked past Buffy’s shoulder, and Buffy followed her gaze; Xander and Dawn stood behind her, weapons in hand.

Buffy headed for the door—and Spike. She needed to make him understand why she was letting him help, make him understand his place. She had only taken two steps when Spike opened the door and strode down the porch steps. Buffy quickened her steps to catch up with him, but he resolutely kept his distance a few feet in front of everyone.

He turned only once, and that was to say, “Don’t fall behind, or I’ll leave you all to wander about the city.”

Though his surprises were keeping her on her toes—which was exactly what she would expect from Spike— Buffy knew him enough to know something was up. He wasn’t telling her something. More determined now than before, Buffy jogged to his side. She tried not to acknowledge that catching up with him was tougher than it had any right to be.

“What are you doing?”

Spike glanced at her and stepped as far to his side of the sidewalk as possible, “What do you mean?”

“The helping, the distance, the no-shows. What’s going on?”

“Nothing, just have information, and I can be good in a fight if need be. Don’t see what the fuss is about.”

“The fuss is you came back after trying to rape me and are acting like it never happened.”

Spike came to an abrupt halt. Buffy glanced sideways to find her friends walking slowly at some distance behind them, “I’m not acting like it never happened. Can’t do anything about it, now, can I? Can’t apologize, can’t make amends. Just doing what I can.”

“When did you start doing ‘what you can’? This isn’t a way for us to get back together.”

Spike’s eyes turned blank and he began to walk forward again, “Long story, Buffy, but I’m not doing this as a way to get back together with you, never going to expect that. Just I’ve changed Buffy and my reasons for doing this are my own.”

“And you expect me to just take that as is? I can see you’ve changed, but I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or not,” Buffy walked as close to him as he would let her, testing his reaction at the same time trying to keep up with his fast pace.

“Not going to bore you with the details, but you don’t have to worry about my reasons. They’re nothing that’ll concern you. It’s just about me, yeah? No need to get twitchy about it.”

“So you’re doing this for your own purpose? And that purpose being no concern of mine? You’re a vampire, Spike. That alone is enough for me to need to know what this is all about.”

Spike’s angry sigh made Buffy angry enough to want to storm away and find this demon on her own. He spoke before she could give in to her moment of temper, “Fine, I’m doing this because I got nothing better to do, and because I want to. Good enough for you?”

Buffy thought for a moment. She knew there was more to it than that, and she was going to find out what it was. That was her job, and besides, she wanted to, “For now,” she said, finally.

Spike nodded and picked up his pace. Buffy tried to keep up with him, but Spike managed to stay just a few steps ahead of her. She frowned as she thought about that: shouldn’t she be the one to want to keep her distance? Buffy let her steps slow until her friends caught up with her. If he wanted his space, she was more than happy to give it to him. She kept her eyes on him, though, as Dawn, Xander, and Willow made small talk.

Buffy realized with a start that they were heading in the general direction of the high school. And the Hellmouth. As they closed in on the school, Buffy was tempted to jog up to Spike and demand to know more. Before she could however, Spike stopped, looked around, and then strutted to a manhole. He knelt beside it and lifted the cover, which for someone of his strength shouldn’t have been as hard as it looked.

They approached Spike and the manhole. When they stopped, Spike looked up at them and gave them all a half smile, “He should be down here, if my information is correct.”

“Well, you can try going down first. If you don’t come back, we’ll know it’s the right place,” Buffy said sarcastically.

“Right. If this isn’t our place, at least you all got a name to put to this demon,” with that, Spike jumped in. One by one Buffy and the rest went down after him, holding both their weapons and their flashlights.

Buffy watched Spike closely as he led them out of the sewers and into a tight, dug-out tunnel. The walls were buttressed with planks that still carried a whiff of fresh-cut wood. Semi-circular cut outs marked intersections with cross tunnels at regular intervals. The group walked in silence for what seemed miles. Spike took a right, two lefts, and another right, all with a confidence that made Buffy wonder where he had gotten his information. Perhaps she had trusted him too easily.

Spike held up his hand in warning, and his pace slowed as he approached a juncture. Xander muttered something Buffy didn’t catch. She turned to speak to him, but as she did, Spike was yanked brutally to the side and then flung across the tunnel. He skidded down the cross-tunnel and came to a halt in an untidy heap at the base of the dirt wall.

“I think we found our demon,” Buffy said as she raced down the tunnel. Spike slowly climbed to his feet as a large, white snake-demon hovered over him, waiting to strike again. Willow, Xander, and Dawn had followed her and stood ready to help. Buffy was determined to handle this alone, though.

“Hey, I don’t think he’ll go down real well. He’s too big for you. Try something a little smaller!” Buffy charged for the demon as it looked at her and began her attack.

Buffy punched it in the gut, or at least what she thought was its gut, and then ducked as it retaliated. Its tail made a sweep at her head, missing her by inches. She kicked at the tail and then twirled to land another punch, this time closer to its head. It hissed as her fist connected with something that looked important to its anatomy, but said nothing. Buffy wondered if it even had the power of speech. If it didn’t, then this wasn’t the demon that had sent those vampires after her.

Buffy tried for another punch but didn’t see the tail coming up from her side; she slammed into the wall and was left dazed by the impact. She shook herself and was dimly aware of Willow casting a spell on the demon, but it was too fast. Willow was knocked aside as if she were a rag doll. Buffy tried to get up as fast as she could, but her body wouldn’t listen. Buffy watch horrified and feeling utterly useless as the demon opened his large mouth to attack Dawn and Xander, who stood back to back. The demon was too strong for either of them and too fast. It would easily rip into her sister and her other best friend. Buffy managed to get to her feet, but she was too slow. The demon reared back before diving down toward Dawn. Buffy was sure her sister was going to be bitten in two until Spike jumped in front of her, taking the brunt of the demon’s attack.

Spike cried out as the demon’s mouth clamped onto his shoulder. He staggered and fell to one knee. Blood began to spill from his wound. Xander and Dawn stared at him in shocked silence. But as soon as the cry died in his throat, Spike used his good arm to pull a long dagger from somewhere on his person and stab the demon in the eye. It let go of Spike and began to thrash around. Buffy saw Spike fall to the floor, and furrowed her brow at the sight of his face turning a deep red.

But Buffy had a demon to kill and couldn’t dwell on the sight. Willow had gotten up and was chanting a spell, while Dawn and Xander moved away from the fight. Spike slowly got to his feet and limped away as well. Buffy kept her eyes on the demon, which was calming down. With as much speed as she could gather, she grabbed an axe from the ground near her feet and ran up to the snake-demon. She had to swerve in between tail attacks, but she got to the head and swung her axe. The axe sliced through its skull in a vertical motion, stopping at its neck. Buffy watched, unsurprised, as a coin fell from the gaping maw that had been its mouth. She knew without looking that it was embossed with the same emblem as all the others.

Buffy looked back to her friends, relieved that the demon was dead. She left the axe imbedded in its neck and moved toward Spike, who was still bleeding heavily.

Spike spoke before she could reach him, “Well, Favisa’el’s dead, job’s done. I’m falling to pieces here, so I’ll leave you all to find your own way out.”

Buffy called out to Spike as he walked away. No matter what he had done, he had just saved her sister, almost killing himself in the process; she wanted to make sure he was alright. But he ignored her and disappeared around a corner.

Xander walked up to Buffy and stood by her side, “What was that all about? The guy nearly rapes you, then almost dies to save us and just walks off with his arm dangling from his body like it was no big deal.”

Willow stood by Buffy’s other side, “That wasn’t very Spike-like at all.”

“He seemed like he was in a lot of pain … we could have helped him. The tough guy act is so old coming from him,” Dawn’s voice was a mix of worry and annoyance, which given the fact she had hated him for most of the last year only seemed appropriate now he had saved her life.

Buffy didn’t like this situation and didn’t understand this Spike. She had another worry to add to her list. She should run after him, but something was holding her back. He was a vampire and wouldn’t die from a wound like that, but still she worried. She looked at Spike’s blood on the floor and again furrowed her brows. He was definitely hiding something, something big. And she needed to find out what it was.

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tennyo_elf

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