Authors note: This fic is for my friend Sandra Tarman - I love out BTVS discussions and I'll miss them when the show is gone. She has this theory about Buffy possibly giving up the slaying to stop the first. The idea really intrigued me and with the rumors of Angel coming for the finale, this is what came to my twisted little brain.
Normal Is?
The park was empty as he pulled his jacket a little tighter around him lit the stolen cigarette. Rupert Giles watched the orange glow before he put it in his mouth and inhaled. He grinned as he realized that he didn't feel an iota of guilt over taking the pack of smokes from Spike's cot in the basement. He deserved an occasional vice after the last few weeks. He had managed to make a mess of things with Buffy by trying to take care of what he considered the Spike problem and his latest plan was not going to help win her favor back either. Buffy had made it very clear to him that the newly souled vampire was under her protection now, no if's, and's, or but's. He'd finally admitted to himself that it wasn't just Spike that worried him, it was everything, this was larger then all of them. So he had called for help from an unlikely source. Said source was now walking towards him, he stood and greeted the other man, "Wesley."

"Rupert." Wesley extended his hand in a firmer shake then Giles had remembered. In fact Wesley's whole stature seemed more confident, maybe calling him had been the right thing after all.

The two former watchers sat down on the bench, Giles stomped out the cigarette on the sidewalk in front of them.

Wesley stared at the butt for a moment then frowned at Giles, "You've taken up smoking?"

"Please don't lecture me, Mr. Wyndham-Pryce you have no idea the pressure here, the last couple of months." Giles raised his eyebrow at the younger man, "Now are you sure that this is the only way to win this battle?"

" Firstly Mr. Giles, we've had our own set of pressures in LA. Secondly, I've done considerable research since your call, if I am to understand exactly what the eye of bejolkas told you then yes this is it. Buffy must relinquish her role as slayer and put the balance back." Wesley pulled a stack of papers out of a satchel.

"And exactly how is she to do this? I.... I don't think I can lose her again." Giles sighed deeply and rubbed his temples.

"Well, that's why I wanted to come in person and show you this....it's a very obscure text that I found, it contains a ritual that will take Buffy's powers from her, she'll return to being just a normal girl." Wesley shoved a paper at Giles pointing at a specific paragraph.

Giles read the passage twice, "I think you're right, Wesley. If she gives up her powers and we can get the new slayer appointed..wait there's already another slayer.... Faith? Can we get her here?"

"It's already being done, thats the thirdly I didn't get to.....Angel will be delivering Faith tomorrow evening."
Wesley took the paper from Gile's hand and put it back in the satchel.

"Angel...here? I'm not sure how that will go over. I'm not sure how any of this will go over. It won't be easy for her to give up the fight." Giles removed his glasses and began to clean them furiously.

"I realize Buffy has been a warrior for a very long time, but did you think about the fact that maybe she can look on this as a blessing of sorts, she's worked very hard and sacrificed so much, she deserves this chance at normalcy." Wesley spoke sincerely.

"I'm not sure she'll see it that way and I'm not sure if she'll ever have normal." Giles shook his head again and stood, "We might as well go back and break the news."

***
Buffy sat alone in the ktichen. Dawn and the Potentials all sleeping soundly. Willow was staying at Xander's tonight, she needed a break. How nice that she can take one - Buffy sighed. Spike sat on the top basement step listening to Buffy's breathing and heartbeat. She had so few moments alone that he was loathe to interrupt her, so he sat behind the closed door and listened.

Giles let himself in the back door with Wesley following. Buffy turned at the sound of the door opening,
"Giles, Wesley? No offense but why are you here?" She directed the question to Wesley.

"Well...I have some news on how to defeat the First." Wesley explained as he took the stool next to her.

"I called him, Buffy. I was desperate and he has good news." Giles tried to smile.

"You don't look like it's good news." Buffy eyed her Watcher.

"It may not seem that way....." Giles stuttered.

"It will take some getting used to, Buffy. But it's a new beginning for you." Wesley smiled at her.

"Yes, you must look at it as a fresh start." Giles tried to smile for her.

"You're both scaring me now. What...what have you found out?" Buffy began to chew on her bottom lip.

Spike pressed closer to the door listening intently to the conversation in the kitchen.
"We've...Wesley found the answer to the first problem. When Anya and I went to see the eye - it told us the First was able to come back because of an imbalance with the Slayer....uh....." Giles hesitated for a moment.

"An imbalance? You mean it's because of me?" Buffy asked soflty.

"Well, it seems you're coming back caused the imbalance...but not to worry, we know how to fix it." Wesley
hesitantly patted Buffy's arm.

"Fix it? How?"

Giles and Wesley began to explain the situation to her. Buffy's face was unreadable, "So, I have to give up my slayerness and let Faith fight this thing?"

"Yes, at this point the slayer line goes through Faith and if you are not in the picture so to speak, then the balance is righted and Faith can take care of this." Wesley tried to sound reassuring.

"But......how? There have been so many times in the past that I would have given it all up and it was never an option before." Buffy stared intently at the mug she held tightly in her hands.

"Wesley and Angel found a ritual it will strip you of your powers" Giles spoke softly, "It's the only way, Buffy."

"So I lose my powers and the battle is up to Faith? Have you forgotten she's in prison?" Buffy's voice rose
slightly.

"No, we haven't forgotten. In fact, Angel will arrive with her tomorrow evening." Giles watched Buffy's face carefully trying to gauge how she would react to this new bit of news.

"Angel? He's coming.....with Faith?" Buffy stood up and set her mug in the sink, "I guess you three have this all worked out. I can just go to bed and not worry right? I'm not needed anymore, just gonna be normal Buffy now."

"Buffy......."

"No, Giles. I'm tired and I don't want to discuss it anymore."

Wesley and Giles watched her leave the kitchen, she somehow suddenly seemed much smaller and so very vulnerable now.

"She'll get used to the idea, Rupert." Wesley placed a hand on Giles' shoulder, "She has too."

"I know, I guess I was just hoping she might see the positive side of all ot this. She really can be free..for the first time."

Spike couldn't take it anymore, he waited until he was sure Buffy was gone and made his entrance. His Slayer was to no longer be a Slayer and those nit wits couldn't understand why she wasn't happy? Had they not noticed anything the last seven years, Buffy may have complained often and loudly about slaying but she was born to it, it was a part of her. Giving it up would be like losing a limb....yes she would get used to the not slaying, but she'd never be a normal girl. He burst into the kitchen, "Have you two completely lost your mind? Give the girl news like that and expect it to go down hunky dory?"

"Spike?" Wesley turned to Giles, "I knew he was back but I didn't know he was staying here."

"Well..yes. Buffy relies on his help." Giles avoided the other Watcher's eyes turning to Spike instead, "And you've been eavesdropping again, I see."

"Yeah and it's a good thing too. Have either of you thought about whats to happen to Buffy after this dandy little ritual and the world saving?"

"She'll have a chance at a normal life, Spike. That's what will happen. The council is gone, but I've managed to find access to their considerable funding and part of it will go to Buffy to start her new life."
Giles explained wearily.

"Well thats all well and good, but she can't stay here? Once it gets out that the Slayer is a former Slayer, every evil in town will be waiting in line to take her out - it'll be a bit of easy revenge for all their buddies she destroyed." Spike lit a cigarette while he watched his words sink in.

Giles grimaced at the realization that Spike was right, "He's right."

Wesley nodded, "He is indeed, we'll just have to convince her she needs to move and we'll make sure she has someone to help watch out for her until she's settled."

"And you think you can just plan her life like that for her?' Spike raised an eyebrow.

"We'll show her it's for the best." Giles sighed knowing his job was cut our tor him.

"And who will be the someone that watches out for her?' Spike asked deliberately.

"I'm sure we can find someone "appropriate" for the job." Wesley gave the vampire a well placed look inferring that it would not be Spike.

"Appropriate....." Spike shook his head as he went out the back door and took his favorite seat on the back step. He galnced towards the upper floor of the house, he could feel her confusion and anger even though he couldnt' see her. In his heart he knew that Wesley and Giles both cared for the girl and wanted the best for her. Yet he couldn't' help but feel for Buffy, always being ripped from where she was comfortable. And as for who would watch out for her......whether they approved or not he would follow her to the ends of the earth to make sure she was safe. Another problem nagged at the back of his head...as he remembered parts of the overheard conversation. Oh - BLOODY wonderful - Peaches was coming into town!

TBC