Title: Originally Normal
Beta: Science and TJBW (lots of credit goes to these two, they did a wonderful job editing this story)
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.
Buffy was pretty sure this was Hell.
Hell on Earth to be precise. Brown clouds, red sky, and there, a river of blood. Broken buildings and twisted vehicles dotted the scorched landscape; and everywhere, everywhere, dead animals and desperately deprived people. Screams filled the dry air.
The buzzer of her alarm woke Buffy. Dragging herself to sitting position, she turned off the alarm and then allowed herself a moment to ponder what she hoped was an anxiety induced dream before getting out of bed and getting ready for work. Dressed, she quickly headed downstairs.
In the kitchen she went for her normal bowl of cereal but stopped when she saw Dawn popping waffles out of the toaster and placing them on a plate.
“Those for me?” Buffy asked, a bit surprised.
“Yup, carb-y goodness from Kellogg’s,” Dawn grabbed her own plate and they both sat down at the kitchen island. “I just felt like making something warm.”
“Warm is good,” Buffy munched on her waffles, happy for something different.
“Then you should probably lay off buying cereal every other day when we already have ten boxes.”
Buffy glared at her, “Isn’t Xander picking you up soon?”
“Yeah, he should be here any minute,” Dawn replied looking at the kitchen clock that read 9:45.
“Tell me again why you’re doing this?” Buffy still couldn’t believe that Dawn was genuinely interested in going to school during the summer; it was as if Dawn had woken up one morning and just decided to become a diligent student.
“I’ll be able to graduate sooner. And the faster I get out of high school the faster I’ll be able to get out of Sunnydale.”
“I thought you liked Sunnydale?” Buffy asked around a mouthful of waffle.
Dawn remained silent for a minute, filling the squares of a waffle individually with syrup, “I do like Sunnydale,” she answered quietly, “I just think maybe I’ll like it better somewhere else.”
Buffy furrowed her brows and wondered just what she meant by that. But before she could say anything, Xander walked into the house and yelled for Dawn to move her butt.
Knowing that Xander was impatient to get to work, Buffy decided to set the conversation aside for the time being and just said, “Don’t forget I’m taking you out tonight for training,” to Dawn who had stuffed her face with the rest of her breakfast and was hastily grabbing her things.
Dawn didn’t look back as she raced outside, “I won’t. Bye, Buffy!” And with that, she was gone.
Dawn ducked the punch of a newly risen vampire and then rolled between his long, skinny legs. Once she was on her feet again, she quickly raised her stake and stabbed the vampire in the back, right where his heart would be. The vampire turned to dust, and Dawn let a very smug smile spread over her face.
“How was that?” Dawn asked as she walked back to Buffy with a bit of swagger that was painfully reminiscent of Spike. It also caused Buffy to remember that Spike had been gone for entire year now. She shook off the thought.
“Good. For someone with no Slayer power, you really put the moves on him,” Buffy was impressed, but she tried to hide it; she knew if Dawn got too full of herself, she’d make a fatal mistake one day.
“Been watching you long enough. I picked up some things,” Dawn tossed her stake into the weapons bag at Buffy’s feet, her smile still stuck on her face.
“It’s important to learn the basics first, though. If you always rush into battle like that you’ll get yourself killed.”
Dawn just shrugged, “He was young. Didn’t think it was that dangerous.”
Buffy frowned and flicked Dawn on the nose, “That’s where you’re wrong. It’s always dangerous. Even newly risen ones can get lucky.”
“Okay, okay. I’ll do better next time.”
Buffy crossed her arms and gave Dawn a stern glare, “You better,” but Buffy smiled after she spoke. “Let’s go home.”
“I’m up for more, though,” Dawn was almost bouncing on her feet.
“No, no more. It’s late, plus school, remember?” Buffy liked Dawn’s eagerness, but it really was getting late and Buffy had to be responsible.
Dawn looked disappointed but gave Buffy a little nod, “I guess I should get to sleep. We’re probably going to have a pop quiz tomorrow, even though it’s only the second day of class.”
“Your teacher sounds like a slave driver,” Buffy went to pick up the weapons bag, and for the first time that she could ever remember, it felt a bit heavy.
“Yeah, he is! The whole school hates him. Plus, I think he’s really a demon. His favorite thing is to torture his classes with pop quizzes almost every day and give enough homework to make your eyes bleed,” Dawn recounted as they walked casually toward the exit of the graveyard together. She was clearly enjoying talking bad about her teacher.
“I can look into it; if he is a demon, I could probably kill him,” Buffy joked.
Dawn almost laughed, “Actually, I think I’ll get better grades if I keep him around.”
Buffy saw an opening to resume the morning’s conversation, “And you care about your grades now because…”
But before Dawn could answer, a scream, loud and shrill, filled the graveyard. Buffy looked around and then to Dawn.
“Dawn, go home.”
“No buts. Go!”
Dawn nodded and ran for home. Buffy dropped the weapons bag, grabbed a sword, and headed off in the direction of the scream. When she realized that it was leading her through the older part of the cemetery, a chill went through her body. This wasn’t a good sign.
Buffy stopped and took cover behind an age-worn headstone as soon as she saw the large, hideous demon just beyond a small mausoleum off in the distance. The clawed demon was simply standing there, proudly holding its screaming victim in one hand. Then suddenly, the demon began tearing at the flesh of its victim. Buffy took off, focused on getting to the demon as fast as she could.
Buffy tackled it, and the impact threw the injured woman and the sword to the ground several feet away, but Buffy kept her attention on the demon in front of her. It glared at her as it slowly regained its feet. Once upright, the demon roared and then charged Buffy who side-stepped its attack and landed a punch to the demon’s neck; as it cried out in complaint, she tried not to notice that the punch had stung her too. The demon staggered through its counter-attack, so Buffy was easily able to land a punch to its face and begin a volley of blows to its body. Then mid-attack, the demon connected a wide punch and sent Buffy flying across the graveyard.
Buffy got up as fast as she could. The demon was almost on top of her but she kicked it, sending it backward but not off of its feet. Catching its breath, the demon charged forward with a resolute expression plastered on its face. Buffy blocked its punch and shifted away and down when it tried to head butt her. She landed a blow to its gut, pushing the demon back again, but still not off its feet. Buffy stepped forward, keeping at the demon, but again the demon punched wide and hit Buffy hard on her side, breaking a rib and sending her flying once more.
Shaking her head, Buffy tried to right herself quickly, but this time the demon was already looming over her, ready to land the killing blow. She was moving too slowly!
But the demon stopped abruptly and convulsed. Buffy watched perplexed as a sword burst through the demon’s chest and its weird eyes rolled back into its head. As it fell, Buffy saw her savior and gasped.
Sure enough, Spike was standing there, still holding the sword, with a serious look on his face though his body language was less than confident. Buffy realized she couldn’t sense him, not now and not during the fight. It was as if he were a ghost.
“Buffy,” his voice sounded tired and weak. He stared at her in recognition, but his expression quickly turned into crippled realization. Spike let the sword drop to the ground and he clutched the side of his head. He turned away from Buffy and began muttering, “Not now, not now, can’t be now.”
“Spike, is it–” but Buffy stopped when she once again took notice of the unconscious woman she had come to save. Kneeling beside her, she checked the woman’s pulse and found that she was still alive. She grabbed her cell phone and dialed 911. Once she was off the phone, Buffy looked around the cemetery, but Spike was nowhere to be seen.
Buffy turned back to the woman and saw something glint from the ground close to the woman’s head. Buffy slowly reached out and picked up the shining object to get a closer look. It was a weathered coin embossed with a deformed humanoid shape encircled by 4 hearts.
Hesitantly, she took the coin and placed it in her pocket.
Buffy didn’t want to wait here in the middle of the night, but luckily for her and the woman lying in front of her, it didn’t take long for the ambulance to arrive.
Buffy called Dawn from the hospital to let her know the situation. She fiddled with the coin in her pocket while she waited for Dawn to answer the phone. Normally she would have let the paramedics take the rescue victim to the hospital without accompanying them, but she felt shaken from the night’s events and wasn’t quite ready to go home.
When Dawn answered, Buffy explained that she was waiting for word on the victim’s surgery before she left the hospital and that she would come home as soon as she knew the woman was okay.
Walking the hallways of a hospital always gave Buffy goose bumps, but she resolutely ignored them because she needed to use this time to think about her dream, the old part of the cemetery, Spike’s return, and the coin in her pocket. The coin wasn’t the first she had seen lately dropped from a demon either. Looking at the coin again she remembered that just last week she found a coin identical to this one after she had slain a Grulek demon. And three weeks ago she found a coin similar to this after slaying a group of vampires in the old part of Restfield cemetery. The most important issue on Buffy’s mind though wasn’t all these dubious signs. As she rubbed her broken rib with bruised hands she wondered what was happening to her. She was not healing as quickly as she used to. Her wounds she received too easily and when she thought about her fight tonight her punches had felt too weak and too painful.
It happened without warning. Buffy felt the ground beneath her shift, like a bubble ready to pop. Living in California, she knew what that meant. She glanced around for a doorway and raced toward it just as the ground and the building began shaking violently. She watched others run for safety as the items around the hospital shook, and anxiously waited for it all to end.
As she braced herself, it came to her that the amount of earthquakes had been increasing over the last few months and suddenly she found herself thinking that there may be more to these quakes than just frustrated tectonic plates.
The shaking ebbed slowly and the entire quake was over in less than a minute, though it felt longer. Buffy relaxed her body, and tossing her hair over her shoulder, she left the hospital and headed home, eager to share her apocalyptic suspicions with her sister and her friends. As she walked, she became grateful that they had plenty of clues to go on because she was now certain that something was brewing.
Something was definitely coming.
The rest will be posted on the Free day!
Originally posted at https://seasonal-spuffy.dreamwidth.org/319952.html