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.
_________________________

It was a subdued group that returned to Buffy’s house. The effort of killing Emoveren coupled with the jarring aftershocks of their emotions returning to normal left everyone drained.

Spike, who knew he was still disliked by the group and still hurting from his injury from weeks ago, left to go home first. Buffy watched him leave, wishing she could have said more to him.

Willow wanted to check in on her new mysterious girlfriend. Xander mumbled an offer to walk with her on his way home. He shambled morosely along behind her as she hurried away from the house.

Dawn went straight to bed but Giles had made tea, knowing full well that Buffy wanted to talk to him.

Buffy sat snugly in the arm chair as Giles handed her the warm mug of some type of tea that he had brought from England. She enjoyed the smell and sipped it, pretending that she liked the super bitter taste so she wouldn’t offend Giles.

Carefully, Giles sat down across from her on the couch with his own cup in hand. “I take it that you wanted to talk?”

“You know me, Giles, I’m always up for a pep talk.” Buffy’s slightly sarcastic tone caused Giles to give her a sardonic glance for just a second before putting down his cup.

“This is about your loss in power, correct?” Giles’ voice was soft and understanding. It quickly put Buffy to ease.

Even so, Buffy still wasn’t able to look Giles in the eyes when she spoke. “Yeah.”

“Did you feel weaker today?”

Buffy kept her eyes on the dark liquid in her cup. “Yeah.”

Giles waited for Buffy to say more. He sat patiently, and even though Buffy wasn’t looking at him, she felt his his eyes on her.

“I … I don’t know what happened. I picked up the sword but it felt heavy, heavier than it’s ever been. I feel like it’s almost gone, like I’m at the end of my rope.” Buffy set her cup down and finally looked up to face her father figure. “But today, I felt something inside me come alive, something I didn’t really know I had or relied on. And even feeling so weak like this, I knew, for some reason I absolutely knew I’d be able to kill that demon.”

Giles gave her a small smile. “I think, Buffy, that maybe the demon brought out something in you that you already had all along. Whether or not you have powers, Buffy, you have strength that most people could only dream of having.”

Hearing Giles speak those words caused Buffy’s heart to stir. She felt courage and new found confidence surge through her. Warmth spread through her as she relaxed, letting all the tension dissipate from her muscles. She realized with perfect clarity that her powers would fade completely--and soon--but she would be able to pull through.
_____

The next morning seemed brighter than any morning that had come before to Buffy. The colors surrounding her as she walked down the street were vibrant and alive, full of potential. Perhaps the morning had been this bright back during Hermery High when things hadn’t been so complicated. But back then Buffy hadn’t thought about what she would do with her life, she only thought about marrying the richest, handsomest man she could find and be catered to for the rest of her life. After her calling she had just counted the days until she would die to save the world. Even after she died and was brought back Buffy had still just counted the days till she would die again for a greater cause.

Now, since yesterday, Buffy had only thought of the things she could do with her life when the final ounce of her powers left her. She still wasn’t happy with the idea of being normal, because she wanted to make a difference in the lives of the people around her; she still wanted to save the day. She just had to find a way to do so without superpowers, and the thought wasn’t as depressing as it was just a week ago. Spike was human, normal, and yet he still made a difference. Buffy could too; she just had to think of a way.

Stepping up the stairs to Spike’s apartment, Buffy felt a jolt of giddiness pass through her. She was excited to see Spike, a little apprehensive, but happy and excited nonetheless. She wanted to see him, especially now that she felt even more connected to him because of their mutual loss of power. She knocked on his door, somehow knowing he would be up even at this early hour.

When Spike opened the door, her morning suddenly turned dim. He looked horrible. There were dark circles under his blood shot eyes, his skin was almost as pale as when he had been a vampire, and his apartment smelled of rotting coffee. His sweats--the only clothing he wore--were wrinkled, and the bandages on his shoulder looked as if they needed to be changed.

“Morning,” he said in a flat voice. He turned away from his open door to walk back into his apartment.

Buffy stepped inside with a worried expression glued on her face. “What happened to you?”

“Haven’t slept a wink, been trying to figure out that coin our little camp leader dropped yesterday.” Spike picked up an old book from the floor and began to flip through it.

Buffy took the time to look at his bare living room. Besides the punching bag that hung in the corner, there was a table pushed against one of the walls, a single arm chair and a small television near the balcony doors, all of which were covered with old paper and books. “Where did you get all this?”

Spike looked up from his work and shrugged. “Got most of this from a few demons I killed, some I bought, others I bargained for.”

“You bought?” Buffy had been wondering how he could afford an apartment, let alone buy old and probably expensive demon books.

This time Spike kept his eyes on the book in his hands as he answered. “Got a job.”

Buffy was baffled--how could she not have noticed? “When and how?”

“Almost since I’ve been in Sunnydale. How is long a story, though. More important things to figure first before I get into that.”

Buffy shook her head. “Spike, you need to rest. You’ll end up being useless. I don’t need someone on the battle field falling asleep on me.”

“I’ll catch a few winks a bit later. This needs solving.”

“We’ve been trying to figure these coins out for months, we haven’t got a clue yet so I don’t think one all-nighter is going to make a big difference.”

Spike kept his eyes on the book, flipping through pages until he got frustrated and tossed the book on the arm chair. “Already found out the coin is related to a vampire.”

Buffy couldn’t hide her surprise. “What? How? We looked through everything!”

Spike sniffed; he looked ready to pass out. “Was out most of the night talking to a few demons, got a few clues.”

Buffy felt a twinge of anger at the thought she couldn’t have done the same, since the demons she talked to, or more accurately threatened, didn’t reveal anything to her. Letting out a frustrated sigh, she moved closer to Spike. “OK, you got us a step closer, now go to bed. You’re already dead on your feet.”

Spike raised his eyebrows and grabbed a towel from the back of the arm chair. “Been dead on my feet for over a century, wasn’t so bad.”

Buffy frowned. “You know what I mean.”

Spike paused and looked as if he wanted to say something back to her; instead he shrugged again. “Alright, I’ll head to bed in a few.” He turned away from her and began to rub his face with the towel, obviously trying to freshen up.

Buffy took the opportunity to move closer to him. She walked slowly so she wouldn’t scare him and when she was barely a few inches away from his back she gently touched his bandages. “What about your job?”

“Work from home, get packages in the mail to translate, UC students come to me for a bit of tutoring. Don’t have a schedule, I prefer it that way.”

“Packages? Students? What do you do?” Buffy started to peel off the old bandages, and Spike grew still.

“I know some old languages; have a fair bit of knowledge up here,” Spike pointed to his head and then grew still again, “though most people wouldn’t figure it. So I get paid to translate old books and tell off idiot students. Seems like fair trade for being able to do what I want when I want.”

Soon Buffy had peeled away all of the old bandages from his shoulder, and Spike turned to face her. His face was strangely impassive. She kept steady eye contact with him and found that behind his mask something was there. Slowly she asked, “I want to know what happened to you, how you got your job, when you came to Sunnydale, everything.”

Spike smiled a short gentle smile, and then his face became expressionless again. “In due time, pet.”

Somehow his continued blank face and intense stare made her uncomfortable, and she looked away. “I should probably get fresh bandages.”

“Just leave it. Probably needs some air anyway.” Spike took the old bandages from her hands and began towards the bedroom area. Buffy watched him, noting his wound. It was healing, which she was grateful for, but it reminded her of why it was there in the first place.

“Spike.”

He stopped and turned back to her, his face holding a million emotions all at once and then suddenly it was empty. “Yeah?”

She had wanted to ask him why he had done it, gotten hurt trying to save her sister and best friend, she wanted to ask him why he was doing everything he was doing, even if she already knew the answer. But the question she asked came from a part of her that was still scared of being powerless. “What … what do you want to do now?”

Spike stepped closer to her, away from his bedroom and into the sunlight that was coming in from the balcony doors, from the rising sun. His face was full of confusion. “Not following you, love.”

Buffy began to fidget. “Now that you’re here, and human, and you’re not immortal, what … what do you want to do with what time you have left?”

Spike stared at her as if she had just asked the meaning of the universe and took another step closer. “Thought a lot about that, but decided to live one day at a time. No use in thinking about a future right now when I got bigger fish to fry.”

“What do you mean?” Buffy stepped a bit closer to him, too, trying to understand him, watching him for signs that he was telling her more than the simple words that he spoke.

Spike smiled unhappily and looked down. “What I’ve done … I … there’s no happy endings for me, Buffy.”

Buffy couldn’t reply to that, she understood. She wanted to say that there was a happy ending, for them, for him … but she couldn’t.

“You’re losing your powers,” Spike took another step closer and nodded his head as if he silently understood something, “becoming human again, like me. I get it; you want to know where to go. I used to think there was just death and glory and sod all else, now it’s different. Because there’s death, there’s glory, and there is every bleedin’ thing in between. For you, Buffy, without power, you have to grab what you want by the balls and not let go. Don’t let any git or wanker out there tell you no. Just do it.”

He was close enough now that Buffy could whisper. “But I don’t know which balls to grab.” She meet Spike’s eyes and froze in horror as she registered her words. “Did I just say that?”

Spike laughed quietly and shook his head. “You’ll know which balls to take when you see ‘em, I know you will.”

“How?”

Spike grew still and silent. His expression wasn’t so impassive this time, it was full of certainty. He looked at her intently for a moment more before saying. “Because it’s you.”

Buffy stared at Spike and found what she had hoped to find all along, support and love hidden behind his expression. She itched to lift her hand and touch his face, but she resisted. Again, Buffy felt the strength to carry on, to deal with the loss of her powers. Buffy wanted to find a way to give this strength back to Spike, and she knew she would, one day.
_____

The night came faster than Buffy thought it would. Good days were supposed to last longer. Instead of patrolling, Buffy stayed at home to cook dinner for Dawn and Giles. While she wasn’t the greatest cook, it was at least more edible than Spike’s burnt eggs. Sitting at the dining room table with Giles and Dawn felt like family, and that feeling chased away her unease about not going out to patrol.

Buffy laughed heartily at one of Dawn’s jokes when she was silenced by the front door opening suddenly. Buffy, Dawn, and Giles stood and watched to see who was disturbing their dinner.

Spike stepped away from the door as he closed it, and Buffy relaxed, though she noticed that Giles did not.

“Slayer, found more on that coin.” Spike walked into the dining room, talking in a rush when he stopped and noticed everyone eating dinner. “Am I interrupting something?”

Giles looked away, clearly annoyed. “Hardly.”

“No, not at all, we were just eating. Want to join?” Buffy wanted to ease any remaining tension between her father-figure, Spike, and her sister, who was crossing her arms and staring at Spike.

“You’re human.” Buffy watched her sister address Spike coldly and all hope that things could be better between them grew thin.

Spike didn’t move, and again his face grew solemn. “I am.”

“You could have died saving me. Then you couldn’t win any more points with Buffy.”

“Dawn!” Buffy’s reproach was ignored by both Spike and her sister.

“Not trying to win points with your sister. Know better now, just trying to keep you safe.” Spike’s voice sounded honest and humble and so not like the Spike Buffy knew from before that her heart twisted. Buffy realized there was much she needed to relearn about Spike.

Buffy kept her eyes on Dawn as her little sister stared at Spike silently. Buffy felt the tension in the room begin to cool. Buffy watched as Giles sat back down and continued his meal, and Dawn suddenly relaxed.

“Yeah, OK.” Dawn’s voice was dismissive, though Buffy saw a hidden smile flash across her sister’s face.

Spike nodded. “Right.” He turned to face Buffy. “Found out the name of the demon that’s been handing out those coins.”

This got Giles’ attention. “How do you come by this information so quickly?”

“Know a few demon languages, tried blending in when needed, picked out some useful tidbits in some big books with big words.” Spike seemed proud of himself; his half gloating smile gave him away.

“So? Name?” Buffy, though happy with new information, did feel a bit impatient.

“Oh right, the demon’s name is Or’Divi.”

Giles quickly grew contemplative. “That name sounds familiar to me.”

“You know the demon, Giles?” Buffy felt extremely optimistic. The more information they gathered, the quicker they could locate and kill this demon before Buffy was completely powerless.

Before Giles could say another word, Spike clutched his head and almost fell to the floor. Buffy rushed to his side and grabbed his arm to keep him from falling. Giles and Dawn followed Buffy to Spike’s side.

“What’s wrong?” Buffy was scared; Spike was a demon hunter who routinely got hurt. She didn’t know if these weird episodes of his were because of that.

Spike’s eyes were unfocused and his head began to bob, but he snapped himself out of it. “Need to sit for a spell.”

“OK, I gotcha.” Buffy nodded quickly to Dawn and Giles, and they went back to their dinner. Buffy escorted Spike to the living room. She carefully helped him sit on the couch and sat beside him, watching him for any other signs that he was ill.

“Spike, what’s going on?”

Spike wouldn’t look at Buffy and his voice was low. “Back when I first turned human, I went around the bend.”

Buffy reached up and put a hand on his back, waiting for him to continue to tell her what had happened.

His voice was barely a whisper. “What …I did …the guilt …isn’t something a normal human noggin can handle or so I learned, seems like there is a lasting effect. Go through periods where I can’t think straight, go a bit insane.”

“If you were still a demon?”

“Probably would have gotten over it by now.”

“Spike …”

“You don’t have to say anything. It’s bloody well done. It’s less than what I deserve anyway.”

Buffy closed her eyes. Again she didn’t know what to say. She couldn’t fathom the guilt he must carry. But she knew Spike, and he was stronger than to let an illness control him; he faced walls higher than this and still overcame them. Buffy gazed at Spike and finally understood the strength of his heart. She finally knew what to say. “It’ll pass, Spike. You’ll get through this.”

Spike turned his head sharply to look at her, the question was clear on his face.

“I know you’ll defeat this, Spike.”

Spike began to reply when the door swung open to reveal Willow and Xander, both panting and clearly exhausted. Dawn and Giles joined them, staring in bewilderment at another rushed intrusion.

“Turn on the TV, quick!” Xander shouted.

“Hurry, before they come.” Willow sounded frantic.

Buffy stood, confusion and worry etched on her face. “Who’s coming, what’s going on?””

“TV, TV!” Xander shouted again.

Spike grabbed the remote from the coffee table and pushed power. The news popped up with a stern looking reporter staring back at them.

“These riots in downtown Sunnydale have been confirmed to be in opposition of a resident here in Sunnydale. Reports have been coming in saying that most of the towns people believe the town’s deterioration has been caused by one Buffy Summers.”

A paper sign flashed on the screen, being held by a random stranger on the street. It read: Sunnydale’s Number One enemy is Buffy Summers.

________
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tennyo_elf

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