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
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.
_________________________

The afternoon was too sunny for Buffy. There should be clouds in the sky as her emotions had been battering her all day. What most infuriated her was that all her thoughts were on Spike. Her heart had high jacked her higher brain functions, where she should be thinking about the coming dangers and losing her powers. Now, even at work, all she had on her mind was Spike.

When it was lunch time Buffy met up with Willow and Xander at a nearby restaurant. Both of them seemed to be suffering from the mood spell that was affecting the whole town as well. Xander looked more depressed and lonely while Willow looked frustrated and tired. She could understand their prominent moods, as she felt them all herself. She could even identify with Dawn’s antsy behavior this morning. Buffy knew she had to get to the bottom of this before they all snapped one way or another.

Xander raised his voice slightly and began a new story, “So I’m at the Bronze talking to this nice girl about her previous boyfriend when lo and behold, guess who shows up?”

“Her ex?” Willow glanced up from the History of Techno Mages she had been reading through their lunch with a glare. Her attention to the conversation was momentary, though, and she turned back to her book.

“Anya! She goes right up to her and asks about her previous boyfriend. They hit it off, and I swear I heard the girl mutter the word ‘wish’. No manners, at all. This world has fallen so low.”

“So Anya is back to her old ways again?” Buffy didn’t really want to discuss Anya, but was making an effort to show some concern.

“Seems like. I knew she was a vengeance demon again, but to see it in action …” Xander shook his head and Buffy felt sympathy for him.

“Maybe she’ll leave town?” Buffy hoped that would make him feel better.

“What good would that do? I know she’ll just be giving warts to male penis’ elsewhere.”

Buffy furrowed her brows.

Willow kept her face down, adding to the conversation while she continued to read, “What about Giles?”

“What ‘What about Giles?” Buffy asked in confusion.

“Has he found anything on those coins?” Willow still focused on her book rather than fully join in the conversation.

“No, not yet. But I think we have bigger problems.”

Both Willow and Xander looked at her.

Immediately Xander spoke, “You mean about the intense emotions I’ve been feeling that make me want to just rip my shirt off in front of Anya and beat my chest like a manly man and claim her for myself?”

Buffy shot him a glance of disgust, “Yeah that.”

“It’s the spell!”

Willow cocked an eyebrow at him, “Right. At least no singing or dancing this time, that’s a plus, right?”

“Right, pluses all around. I need to get back to work and finish early so I can pester Giles about this. How about I meet you guys back at my house later so we can look into this?” Buffy stood and her friends did the same.

“Sure thing Buffy, I should be finished reading this by then.”

“I’m hoping to run into Anya soon, so I can at least talk to her about … everything. She can’t be a demon again. She just can’t.”

“I know, Xan, just come over later, okay?” Buffy patted Xander on the shoulder, trying to give him some reassurance.

“Yeah, okay.”

Buffy began to walk back to work but hesitated for a moment. Since she couldn’t concentrate and her mood swings were a constant annoyance she decided to turn around and walk home.

_____

No one showed up that night. Buffy met with a short tempered Giles, who forbade her to patrol, and a very whiny Dawn who wanted nothing to do with Buffy since somehow Buffy was a deterrent to her growth. Angrier than she liked with both Dawn and Giles, even though she knew it was because of the spell, Buffy left to go on patrol anyway. She didn’t care that she was going against Giles’ wishes. She needed to kill something, even though she was feeling worse off today than before.

Buffy tried to be casual as she walked around the graveyard, hoping to run into something. Instead she ran into Spike, fighting off a newly risen vampire with his one good arm. She watched as the vampire got the upper hand. Blood welled up from a nasty gash on Spike’s good arm, and Buffy wondered where his normal strength had gone. Was he toying with the other vampire, pretending to struggle under his attack? The strain on Spike’s face told another story; he was giving the fight his all, but his strength was gone. The surprise of this revelation spurred Buffy into action. She ran to join in the fight and together they dispatched the vampire.

Panting, Spike wiped his face and spoke raggedly, “Thanks, didn’t think newborn here could give me such trouble.”

Buffy raised an eyebrow at him, “Curious, never needed my help before with one vamp. Again, what’s your deal, Spike? Lost your strength in a bet?”

“No, haven’t gambled since that one time a few months back with that horned-” Spike stopped in mid-sentence and shrugged. “Just not feeling like myself as of late.”

Buffy wanted to argue, but because she had been feeling the same lately, she held back, “That’s a good thing. The less you feel like yourself the better you’ll be.”

Spike stared at her for a moment, “I’ve changed, I’ve told you, I’m not the old me. How about you? Feeling the need for a quickie?”

Buffy opened her mouth to protest--she couldn’t believe he would say that--when she heard a powerful roar nearby. They both turned towards the roar and then nodded to each other before racing after the sound.

Buffy ran ahead while Spike trailed behind. She came to an abrupt stop that almost caused Spike to run into her. Just ahead they saw a large reptilian demon destroy a nearby gravestone, pick up a large piece of it, and then throw it in their direction. Buffy ducked first while Spike rolled to the side as the stone soared past him.

“What is that thing?” Buffy asked as she began her attack.

“Dracinien demon. They get really upset on an empty stomach.”

“What do they eat?”

“Orken demons, but they died out about 50 years ago.”

“So what does this one eat?”

“No soddin’ clue. Dracinien demons died out about 50 years ago, too. Stupid gits ate themselves into extinction.”

“Well, that’s nice. I guess--” Buffy ducked another flying rock, “--we’ll just have to kill it.”

“I’m right there with you, love.”

Buffy, ignoring the mean and hostile face of the demon, sent out a kick in its direction, but it didn’t connect and she lost her balance. Spike quickly went to help her up, but she jerked away from his touch, which had been strangely warm. He stepped back quickly, holding up his one good arm, but then had to duck and avoid the demon charging at him.

Rage and sheer determination filled Buffy. The rage at her clumsiness and at Spike, and at the feeling that she wouldn’t let her loss in power have power over her fueled her to charge forward after the distracted demon. Spike kept its attention with blows to the demon’s head using one fist and good timing as Buffy got into a position behind it. Buffy and Spike made eye contact. Without a word Spike took out a dagger and threw it to Buffy. She was grateful that she caught it. Within moments Buffy, trusting her muscles to remember the move, jumped forward, stabbing the demon in the back of the neck.

Buffy fell with the beast and rolled forward, her knee hitting a gravestone on her way down.

Spike knelt beside her, but at a distance. Buffy knew he was doing so on purpose, like he should be, “I take it you’re not feeling like yourself, either?”

Buffy didn’t want Spike to know about her losing her powers, afraid he might take advantage of the fact, “Maybe.”

Spike gave her a knowing expression, like he understood exactly what she was going through, “Must be the spell, bloody thing has me hanging by a wire.”

“It’s affecting everyone.”

“Think it affected him enough to turn into a demon?” Spike nodded to the demon corpse, which had changed to a human corpse.

Buffy stood, shocked to find the demon had changed to a human and even more surprised when she recognized him, “I know him. He was from work, he …” Buffy remembered him complaining about breaking up with his girlfriend lately and it clicked. “This is Anya’s handiwork.”

“Maybe we should have a chat with Anya?” Spike’s suggestion sounded like a good one, and she turned back to face the vampire.

“Xander was complaining about her working at the Bronze today so I bet you that’s where she is.”

“What do we do about him?”

Buffy looked back at the body and stiffened. She had killed him; even though he had been a demon, she had killed someone who used to be human. Remorse and guilt battled with her sense of duty. He had been a demon, he had been dangerous, just like Anya, and he had to be dealt with.

“I’ll make a call on the way to the Bronze.”

_____

The Bronze was packed enough to be a fire hazard. The music was also loud enough to bust eardrums, but Buffy and Spike paid no attention to the crowd or the noise. They split up and prowled about looking for Anya, hoping to find her to confront her. Buffy found her first, in a dark corner, and was surprised to see her with Xander. Both of them were arguing passionately.

“You had to do it, Anya, it was the only way!”

“I shouldn’t have done it; I’m going to be in big trouble. But you don’t care; you stopped caring since you left me at the altar.”

“It’s been more than a year since then, Anya. You have to move on from using that as an excuse!”

“How can I move on when you obviously keep popping up to remind me of the horrible life I now have to live?”

“You seem to be having fun to me, turning maybe not so nice men into demons.”

“They had it coming, they always had it coming. You have it coming!”

“Anya, would you please stop with the blaming and naming? It’s over; at least you turned that man back into a human, that’s a start.”

“And I’m not going to hear the end of it, it doesn’t matter. Not with what else is coming.”

“Wait, you know what’s coming?”

Buffy decided to finally join in the conversation. She felt bad for having listened in so far, but this was her job. “That’s what I’d like to know.”

Xander and Anya glanced at Buffy as she walked forward, both with matching guilty expressions.

“Buffy,” said Xander in greeting.

“What are you doing here?” Anya asked rudely.

“My job. I killed a demon today, and he turned back into a human. I take it that was your work?”

Xander turned sharply to look between Anya and Buffy. “Dead? He’s dead?”

“Yeah.” Buffy still felt guilt and sorrow for killing the man who had been turned into a demon.

Anya just rolled her eyes. “Great, now I’m going to get into trouble for no reason. Thanks, Xander.”

“You got a man killed, Anya, and all you can think about is getting a slap on the wrist?” Xander’s disbelief was clear in his voice.

“Anya,” Buffy spoke up, cutting into the conversation before it could start, “you have to stop this, or I’ll stop you.”

Anya just snorted. “You can try, but I hear you’re getting a bit weak. I think I could take you if need be.”

“Wanna try now?” Buffy just folded her arms in front of her chest to glare at her former friend.

Anya sighed and threw up her arms. “Look I don’t want this OK? I got into something I really regret and it’s not my fault--”

“Anya.” Xander was about to begin his reproach but Anya continued.

“It’s not about you leaving me at the altar, Xander. It’s something I was dragged into against my will. It’s big, and scary, and it’s coming for you, Buffy. It’s coming for everyone. I’m not saying anymore. I’m out of here.” Anya quickly flicked her wrist and teleported herself out of the Bronze faster than either Buffy or Xander could blink.

Buffy looked at Xander and could see he was clearly torn from this new information. He was staring off into space, his eyes locked onto the floor. Buffy put her hand on his upper arm to snap him back to reality.

“Oh, Buffy.” Xander was obviously uncomfortable. “I think I should head home. I have an early day tomorrow.”

Buffy watched as Xander left. Buffy shut her eyes tightly after he was gone. She felt for her friend and for her old friend. Things had gone badly for them both, yet it was clear to Buffy that they still cared for each other.

Opening her eyes and looking around, Buffy wondered what happened to Spike. She heard a commotion on the dance floor and went to investigate. She pushed people aside to find Spike on the dance floor, his head in his hands, barely keeping his balance. Instinctively she tried to go to him, but he backed away from her like she was toxic.

“No!” His face contorted with fear. “You’re not her!”

“Spike?” Buffy again was confused. Something was wrong with him; this wasn’t the first time he acted like something was driving him insane.

“You’re just a … a bloody … you’re in my head, that’s it. My mistakes, my crimes, coming to haunt me.”

“What are you talking about, Spike?”

He began to laugh and wavered on his feet, stumbling into people next to him. This time when Buffy moved to his aid, he made no effort to push her away. Immediately Buffy felt the difference in holding him. He was warm to the touch, full of life. Her hand slipped up his chest and felt his beating heart; the blood beneath his skin was flowing. She let go of him as if he burned her, and he slid to the ground, oblivious to everything and everyone around him.

“You’re … you’re human.”

Buffy felt everyone in the room fade away, she felt the air still and all the sounds around her became as silent as the grave. She could only look at him on the floor, sitting there, as if all his crimes were weighing him down. Buffy was rooted to where she stood. If he was human, that meant he had a soul.

“How …?”

It was a long time before Spike finally looked up to her. “You wanted this, right? I’m a man now, can’t hurt you, can’t … I can be a man now, for you.”

“You did this … for me?” Buffy finally was beginning to understand his guilt, his help.

“Had to, didn’t I? Always you, Buffy, always you.” He looked down again, away from her.

Buffy wasn’t sure why he was normal most of the time but acted like this once every now and again. There was a lot she had to find out. Where he had been this last year and how he turned human. Buffy was sure of one thing: he wasn’t the same person he had been. He had changed for her, he did something so outrageous that Buffy couldn’t help but be touched by it. And she felt it, the tears in her eyes, for him. The emotions in her were too strong, and Buffy desperately wanted to run away.

Buffy was spooked, but Spike was human. She was still stronger than him, and he was lost. The small bubble of compassion for him burst into a sea within her heart, and she knelt beside him slowly, carefully. Gently she helped him to his feet. He looked at her with enough love and awe that Buffy tightened her grip on him to make sure he didn’t fall. She guided him out the Bronze and to his home. His second floor apartment, she now understood, faced the east, to the rising sun, so each morning he could watch the sun rise.

It wasn’t until Buffy was home, in bed, that she finally understood one other thing. If anyone could understand the loss of her powers, it was Spike, because together, they were turning back to their original state of normalcy.

________
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