Disclaimer: Don't own them, just borrowing
Summary: An alternate ending to "Normal Again." Buffy accepts the reality of the mental institution, but when she recognizes someone she knows she realizes that she's made a mistake.
Authors Notes: Tweaked reality a bit so that the nerds didn't just send the demon out to distract Buffy, it was part of a larger plan. All will be explained as the fic progresses.
Pairing: Eventually will be Buffy/Faith in case you missed the B/F in the summary. You have been warned.
Buffy stumbled up the basement stairs, her heart pounding so loudly it almost blocked out the crashing and screams from below. She couldn't watch it happen. If she did, she'd cave and save them and that would mean loosing herself. Stumbling out the door she collapsed to the ground, scrunching her eyes shut as she clutched at her head. "It's not real, it's not real."
"That's right honey. Come on stay with us, you can do it."
"Mom?" Buffy whispered as she tentatively opened her eyes, staring at her mother through the curtain of matted hair which had fallen across her face.
"Buffy?" Joyce asked softly as she stared intently into her daughter's eyes.
"Mom," Buffy repeated, her voice cracking as tears began to spill down her cheeks.
"Oh honey," Joyce breathed as she pulled her daughter into a tight embrace. "Welcome home."
"Help!" Dawn screamed as the demon picked her up, slamming her against the wall.
"Oh god," Xander breathed as he forced himself back off the ground, his eyes frantically scanning the room for a weapon. Reality was setting in fast now. Buffy had left them here to die. Scooping up the baseball bat he barreled forward, only to be thrown backwards like a doll, the bat rolling out of reach. Through the haze of spots and stars he spotted Tara crouched on the ground next to Willow, her eyes an ominous black as her lips moved in a silent chant. There was a blur of movement and suddenly the demon was howling and staggering backwards, the fallen bat now embedded deep in its abdomen. It hit the ground with a loud thud, which was followed by heavy silence.
There was a soft groan of pain as Willow pulled herself off the ground, placing a steadying hand against the wall as she peered apprehensively up the basement steps at the figure huddled in the kitchen outside. "Buffy?" she called out as she ascended the stairs, crouching down behind the blonde and placing a hand on her back. "Can you hear me?"
Turning around Willow looked up at the youngest Summers who was glaring tearfully at her sister. "Dawny we'll get her back."
Dawn shook her head as she pushed past Willow. "She doesn't want to come back."
"But she's fine now I don't understand why we can't take her home."
"Mr. Summers, your daughter has made an amazing breakthrough but she has a long way to go. This is a world she's been essentially hiding from for the last six years, it's alien to her. The trauma of that may cause a—"
"This hospital is unfamiliar! She'd make a better recovery if she was safe at home with us."
"Hank I think he's right. It's taken so long to get to this point. If we loose her again…"
Buffy huddled in her seat in the hallway, listening to the hushed exchange taking place a couple of feet away. The last few of hours had been a blur of hugging and crying and countless doctors stopping by to perform tests and ask countless questions. Everyone had been happy yet tense, as if they expected her to relapse again. But she hadn't. Buffy couldn't feel the other world tugging at her anymore. It was gone. She was back in reality.
"Buffy?" Nearly jumping clean out of her seat the blonde turned to look at the nurse who was standing a little further down the hallway. "Time for your meds," the nurse said as she held up a small cup.
"It's okay Buffy," Joyce said, giving her daughter a reassuring nod before turning back to her conversation.
Nodding Buffy stood up, making her way over to the nurse who handed her a tiny paper cup. "Thanks," she said absently as she moved back towards her seat.
"Take them here Buffy," the nurse said patiently.
"Oh," Buffy said with a frown as she turned around again, her eyes dropping to the brightly colored collection of pills. "I've had skittle packets with less variety than this. Do I really need all of these?" She asked, giving them an experimental jiggle.
"All of them."
"Right," Buffy said, forcing a smile. "Well I've always wanted to taste the rainb…" she trailed off, eyes widening as they locked with a familiar pair of soft brown ones. There was a clatter as her pill cup hit the ground. "Faith?"
"B?" Faith breathed, her eyes flashing with fear as she stumbled backwards. "No, no, no."
"You?... Why?" Buffy managed to choke out as she took a step forward.
"You're not real," Faith said as she flattened herself against the wall. "You're not real, you're not real, you're not real," She repeated again and again, her voice getting louder each time as she sank to the ground, squeezing her eyes shut as she began to rock herself.
The blonde spun around to face her father who was staring at her worriedly. "It's Faith!"
"The other slayer." Joyce supplied, raising her voice to be heard over the brunettes screams. "She hasn't mentioned her in years."
"She… she's in jail… no she-she doesn't exist. She can't be here! Why is she here?"
Joyce stepped forward, reaching for her daughter. "Honey it's not—"
"Don't touch me" Buffy hissed as she jerked away, letting out a small scream as strong arms grabbed her from behind, pinning her arms to her sides.
"Hold her still!" A mans voice called out.
"Ungh!" There was a sharp pinching sensation in Buffy's arm and suddenly the world around her began to dim. "This isn't happening," she slurred, slumping forward as the heavy blanket of darkness engulfed her.
"When?…Okay… thank you… bye." Warren hung up the phone and spun around in his chair, a satisfied smirk tugging at the corners of his lips.
"Well?" Jonathan asked as he squirmed in his seat.
"Faith was admitted to the prison psych ward on Tuesday. She's completely catatonic."
"And what about Buffy?" Andrew inquired nervously. "Her friends caught the other demon they must know about the antidote."
"Well," Warren drew out the word as he rolled his chair back towards the surveillance table, grabbing one of the screens and turning it towards them. "I think it's a bit late for that now."
Andrew and Jonathan leant forward, squinting at the grainy black and white image. Buffy was being lifted into her bed by a somber looking Xander. The slayers normally alert face was slack and empty, her wide eyes staring at nothing.
"We did it," Jonathan breathed as he tore his gaze away from the screen and turned back to Warren. "What now?"
Warren smiled. "We kill them."