PLEASE NOTE: I accidently posted the epilogue instead of prologue. I fixed it straight away but not before it was read. Sorry. Please check out the proper prologue.

Disclaimer: I don't own this wonderful world, just my own plot and the original characters.

Warning: This story is very depressing and is full of angst. There will be character death, comic spoilers and lots of pain. If you're looking for nice and fluffy, then this isn't for you despite the prologue.

This was written for the letsgetitdone community on livejournal. Please check out my journal to get link to the beautiful fanmix and banner created to go along with this story by the fabulous ladyofthelog.

Part I: Being Human Is Not All It's Cracked up To Be

Chapter One

In the years since the closure of the Hellmouth at Sunnydale, Buffy Summers had learned to appreciate what she had. She was in a long-term relationship with Spike, and these days she had the time and the inclination to go out and enjoy herself every once in a while. Still, there was something in her blood that stirred at the thought of doing what she did best: slaying. Buffy and Spike had just returned to San Francisco from a month long vacation, but she was feeling antsy after a few weeks of doing nothing at all. She knew Spike felt the same, as he had spent the day pacing around the living room. When they got a call saying that there had been a large number of vampire attacks in the neighbourhood over recent weeks, they jumped on the excuse to patrol. There had to be a nest in the area and, going by the reports, they were regular vampires. Since the success of Harmony Kendall's reality TV show, a lot of vampires were supposedly living by the "Harmony Code," only feeding on willing humans and not killing or turning them. However, this was clearly not the case with the group of bloodsuckers they were after.

Spike was rubbing his hands together in anticipation for the fight. "Ready to go, love?"

Buffy couldn't help the snarky comment coming out of her mouth, "It seems your ex can't win them all over."

She went over to the weapons chest, which was hidden in the corner of the room, then pulled out her favourite, shiny knife and pocketed Mr. Pointy the Third.

"Don't remind me that I used to shag that vacuous bint, love." He came up behind her and kissed her cheek. "Besides, I never told you before, but every time I was fucking her I was thinking of you. We used to play a role game where she was the Slayer."

She pushed him away, "Eugh."

Shaking her head, she waved the knife at him, "Did you have to tell me that?"

"Yeah I did." He chuckled at her indignant look. "I wouldn't miss that expression on your face for the world."

She rolled her eyes, "You're such a pervert." She bent down and put the knife in her boot. When she looked up again he was grinning at her. She wondered if she had something on her face.

"What?"

He flicked his tongue along his lips. "You love it, really."

She laughed as she pulled him to the door. "Come on. Let's go slay some vamps, Blondie Bear."

"Don't call me that!"

They were lucky they didn't have far to go tonight as the area in which the attacks were occurring was within walking distance. Spike wrapped his arm around her waist and the two of them headed out into the night.

Buffy tilted her head so she could see Spike. "Where do think the vampires would be?"

"I reckon we should start with Chinatown," Spike answered. "All those young people out for a good time are bound to attract some vamps."

Buffy and Spike walked in companionable silence, as they listened out for any sign of the vampires' location. A loud scream reverberated from one of the alleys nearby and the two took off immediately.

They came across a male and female vampire attacking a blonde haired woman, whom they had backed into the wall of a building. If Buffy had to hazard a guess she would say these two had been turned in the eighties, with their bad perms and brightly coloured clothing. The captured woman's eyes were as round as saucers when she noticed their arrival, and the two vamps turned around to see what she was looking at.

"Help me," the terrified woman managed to rasp, before the female vampire silenced her with a slap across the face.

Enraged the vamps turned to face the couple. Buffy and Spike walked towards the trio and stopped about a meter away. Buffy pulled out her stake and the corner of her lips upturned into a smug smile when she saw their rage turn to fear. Oh yes- Slaying was such fun.

"Hey, Spike," she said and turned to her peroxided companion. "When you were evil did you ever smell this bad?"

He winked at her, "I always smell good, love."

"Slayer," the male vamp said, baring his fangs.

"Uh huh," Buffy said. "Also known as Slayer Numero Uno and soon to be known as the Slayer Who Kicked Your Ass."

The male vampire snarled, released the woman and stepped forward, intent on showing Buffy how wrong she was. She squared against the vamp, as the woman started running away, while Spike took on the female vampire. This allowed the woman to run to safety. Buffy's opponent was clearly an old vampire, but it was nothing she hadn't handled before. Buffy kicked and punched her opponent, but he hardly seemed to feel her blows. When she punched him, it felt like smashing concrete. She gritted her teeth and aimed a fierce punch at his face. He managed to deflect it and she was thrown slightly off balance.

The vampire was smirking at her as she regained her equilibrium. "Getting tired, Slayer?" he growled.

She answered, "Just tired of waiting for you to go poof!"

She heard Spike's chuckle behind her. The vamp was right, though she hated to admit it. She was still a little jet-lagged after her vacation. Still, there was no way she was going to let him get the better of her. She walked towards the vampire with a dangerous glint in her eyes. He thought he was going to win. Idiot.

"Playtime is over, little girl," he sneered.

"Oh yeah it is," she quipped, brandishing her stake. "Meet Mr. Pointy!"

The vampire brought a meaty fist to meet her face, which she managed to deflect with her left arm. With her free arm she landed a punch to his left cheek. The vampire shoved her hard and she landed hard on the rubbish strewn concrete. She got to her feet immediately, and as she did so she pulled a candy wrapper from where it was stuck on her ass. Buffy advanced on the vampire once more, aiming a roundhouse kick at his head. She smiled at the satisfying crunch. His nose was broken and she could see the blood running down his face.

"That was for ruining my pants," she told him. He grunted something unintelligible and he made to hit her with a right hook. She was too quick for him and nimbly avoided his fist. Her blood was singing; she was made for this. She wondered how Spike was doing in his fight and caught a glimpse of him thoroughly enjoying himself in what looked like a one sided boxing match. She turned her attention back to her own fight. The vampire glared at her, his mouth set in a hard line. She rushed him but was surprised when he ducked. He was faster than he looked. She landed on her ass once more, and he picked her up and flung her headfirst across the alley into the hard metal of the dumpster. She could taste the blood in her mouth and felt a little dizzy. She slid down to the ground and Mr. Pointy slipped from her grasp.

The vampire grinned and picked up the stake. "I'm going to kill you, bitch, and then I'm going to dust your undead boyfriend if my friend doesn't kill him first."

She heard the tell-tale sound of Spike's vampire dusting and she smirked, "Looks like my undead boyfriend made your girlfriend deader."

"Buffy!" She could hear Spike's voice as she pulled herself up. She shook off the dizziness.

"I'm fine," she said, keeping close eye on the vampire at the other side of the alleyway. She wondered why the vampire wasn't running or attacking them. Spike seemed to be more concerned with her than anything else. He was beside her in a moment and he surveyed her for injury. Buffy pulled away, as she saw the vampire finally approach them.

"Sorry to interrupt the love-fest," the heavyset vampire said. He turned to Spike. "I hear you work for the white hats now. You're an abomination."

Spike scoffed, "I don't just work for the white hats now. I am a white hat, you nit!"

While Spike took a swing, Buffy took the opportunity to break a branch from a rather decrepit looking Christmas tree thrown in the dumpster. The branch broke off sharply, and she hefted it. This would do. Spike had pinned the vampire down and they were struggling on the ground. She was about to join in the fun when she felt a tell-tale prickling on the back of her neck. She turned around to see two other vampires leering at her from the entrance to the alley. The vampire had been playing for time and now the back-up had come. Spike would just have to kick his ass on his own, while she took on the newcomers. One vampire was small and round; the other was tall and lean.

She approached them with a bright grin. "Hi, I'm Buffy, and I will be your Slayer for tonight."

The idiots just looked at one another. She figured they were fledges, because they had no idea what a Slayer could do. They waited for her to come to them before they pounced. She ducked into a forward roll as they reached her and they collided with one another instead. She picked the lid off a nearby garbage can and aimed it for the neck of Short and Round. She smirked as it hit perfectly, decapitating him, and turned to Mr. Lanky. He seemed to have more brains then his friends and he took off running out of the alley. She started back towards Spike and his fight over at the other end of the alley way. Spike was the one that was penned down now beneath the vampire, who had her stake in his hand. Buffy gasped and started to run, but it felt as if she was running in slow motion. Her world fell away and she could only watch helplessly as the stake entered Spike's chest, and went toward his heart. The inevitable poof never happened, and Spike started to glow. Buffy had just reached them when the shocked vampire jumped off Spike and backed away. The Slayer took the opportunity to shove her crude stake into Spike's would-be murderer's chest and he exploded into dust. She rushed to Spike and saw he wasn't glowing any more. What the hell? She approached his body cautiously. "Spike," she called. He was unresponsive and she reached for him to try and get him to wake up. When she touched him, he felt warm and her mouth dropped opened. His chest was rising and falling and she laid her head down where his heart would be. She gasped as she heard his heart beating. Her own heartbeat was erratic as she tried to come to terms with the fact she had almost watch Spike dust only for him to come over all human. How was this even possible? She took several deep breaths to calm herself. Shock and relief quickly turned to panic as she realized that she could still lose him. He might be alive but he certainly wasn't in good shape. She picked him up and threw him over her shoulder. She began to run. Oh god. Oh god. Don't you dare die on me Spike! Fear and terror ran through her as she sped out of the alley. Her breath was coming out in short gasps. They only lived about twenty minutes from here and at a run she knew they would make it in half that time. She tried to stick to the more deserted streets but she wasn't able to avoid the odd person considering it was a Saturday night. A few people stopped short at the sight of a small blonde woman running with a man thrown over her shoulders, although she was so quick they probably thought it wasn't real.

When she finally arrived at her door, she rummaged around in her pockets for her house keys and pulled the key out before she turned it in the lock. She breathed a sigh of relief once they were across the threshold, and she slammed the door shut. The front door led straight into their living room and she laid Spike down on the sofa. She spared him one glance before she grabbed the phone to ring Willow. She sat on the floor beside him and began to ruffle his hair while she waited for it to be picked up. The phone rang three times before Willow answered.

"Hello, Buffy!" she said.

Buffy took a deep breath before speaking. "Willow – I need you here right now." She paused for a moment. Her mouth was dry and her voice was coming out in a rasp. "Spike's been hurt and something magical happened to him," she continued. "I can't explain over the phone. You need to see it for yourself."

Willow gasped. "Oh my goddess. I'll be there right away."

"Thank you," Buffy said. The phone was shaking in her hands.

"I'll be there in five minutes, tops," her friend reassured her before hanging up.

Buffy was surprised at how together she had sounded on the phone when she was completely panicking inside. She had so many questions. What the hell had happened? Why was Spike breathing? Was he really human now? Was it a temporary arrangement or had he joined the living club for good?

She kissed his forehead. He felt a little fevered and a moan slipped out his lips. Please wake up, Spike, she thought.

Willow was true to her promise, and not even five minutes passed before she heard the screeching tyres of her friend's car outside. Buffy got up from her position on the floor.

"I'll be back in the minute," she said, not knowing if Spike could hear what she was saying or not. She ran to the door and she pulled it open. Willow was biting her lip nervously. Buffy threw her arms around her. "I'm so glad to see you," she said.

Willow patted her on back. "I rang Dawnie after I got off the phone with you."

She looked up from Willow's shoulder.

Dawn stood on the doorstep wringing her hands. "What's wrong?" she asked. "How's Spike?"

Buffy bit her lip. She was eager to get back to him and she knew they needed to see his condition to believe it. "Come on and I'll show you both."

The three women entered the room.

Dawn gasped at the sight of Spike. "He looks awful."

Willow frowned. "He's sweating, which is strange," she added.

"That's not the only thing that's strange," Buffy pointed out. "Don't you see his chest rising and falling? I totally wigged when I put my head on his chest and heard his heart beating."

The two were agog at her words.

When Willow finally processed what she heard, she found her voice. "Human? How?"

Buffy sighed, "That's exactly what I would like to know. But first I want to make sure he's alright, cos since it happened he hasn't regained consciousness. I don't know if I should take him to a hospital or not."

Willow patted her arm reassuringly. "You did the right thing," she said. "We need to know exactly what we're dealing with first. Taking him to a hospital is all well and good, but there would be a lot of questions."

The witch went over to examine him, while Dawn came over to Buffy and pulled her close.

"We'll work this out," Dawn promised.

Willow looked up from her examination. "Maybe you two should go outside for a bit while I'm doing this?"

Buffy hesitated.

Willow's patted her arm. "I don't mean leave the house. Go into the kitchen and have a coffee or some...you know, whatever."

"Please, Buffy." Dawn looked at her. "Let Willow go about her business. We would only get in the way and if he wakes up she'll call us immediately." She turned and looked at the witch, "Won't you, Will?"

Willow nodded, "Of course."

Now that her sister and friend were here, Buffy felt like she could wig now if she had to. For the first time since it happened, Buffy felt tears pricking at the backs of her eyes. She let her sister guide her out. Once in the kitchen, Dawn sat her down at the table and started to bustle about the kitchen.

"Tea or coffee?" she asked.

Buffy slumped in her chair. "I don't care, Dawn."

"I'll make you tea with a bit of brandy."

Buffy wanted to return to Spike. She settled for tapping her fingers on the table instead. She would be no good to him like this. Dawn made the tea and set a mug down beside Buffy and sat next to her.

She looked at Buffy with shining eyes. Spike was the big brother Dawn never had and they were close. She knew Dawn must be hurting too and Buffy reached across the table to squeeze her hand.

Dawn spoke quietly, "I know you probably don't want to talk about what happened, but it might do you some good."

Buffy took a steadying breath and she explained what happened. When she was finished she broke down into tears and buried her face in her arms. Dawn moved her chair beside her in a moment and took her into her arms. "Oh Buffy - he's still here, isn't he? He will be fine. Heaven or Hell wouldn't take him; he's far too annoying."

Buffy laughed despite herself and dried her eyes with her hand. "I'll kick his ass once he recovers for scaring me so much."

Dawn smiled reassuringly. "That's the spirit. He needs you now. Willow will know what to do."

Buffy and Dawn had just finished their tea when a sombre looking Willow came into the kitchen. "As far as I can see he's one hundred percent human and no percent vampire. I tried a few spells and I don't know why he's not waking up."

"What do we do now?" Buffy asked.

Willow shrugged, I'm thinking of asking one of the witches from the Council to come over. She's a qualified doctor too."

Buffy nodded her approval. "Please - if you could ask her to come? Thanks, Will."

The witch took out her cell. "I'll give her a call right now."

Buffy smiled gratefully and excused herself from the table to see Spike. He was lying in the same position she had left him. She had been hoping that there would be some change. What if he never came out of this comatose state? Whatever good or evil power that was behind this had to have planned for him to wake up. It didn't make sense to restore his humanity only to have him killed.

His hair was starting to curl with the sweat that was rolling off him. She put her fingers through his hair. "Can you hear me? Please wake up."

There was still no response and she blinked away tears. This was a time for action not tears, so she did the only thing she could think of. She prayed to whatever powers there were to bring Spike back to her.

An hour had passed since Willow's phone call and there had been no change in Spike's condition. Buffy spent the time by his side mopping his brow. She wanted to be there when he woke, because he was going to wig big time when he figured out he was human. He didn't seem to be in any immediate danger for the moment, and she wanted to let this witch look him over before it got to the point of having to take him to hospital. Willow and Dawn were sitting on the other sofa, their heads bent in conversation. Willow jumped up immediately when the door-bell rang. A woman walked in, giving Willow a warm smile. She looked like the kind of woman who you didn't cross; yet at the same time she had motherly way about her.

"This is Clara," Willow said.

She indicated the other two women. "Clara, this is Buffy and Dawn."

Buffy got up and walked over to the woman offering her hand, which Clara shook firmly. She glanced at Spike, then turned to Buffy. "This is your young man?"

"Well I would hardly call him young," Buffy mumbled.

Clara nodded briskly. "I work best without an audience. I would suggest you leave the room for a while. I will come get you as soon as I'm finished."

The Slayer may have been exhausted, but she stood her ground. She had had her breakdown, and there would be no more tearful-Buffy, just strong-Buffy.

"No – I'll stay," she insisted.

Clara was about to speak when Willow interrupted, "Buffy's determined to stay and you don't want to mess with a Slayer."

Buffy smiled at her friend in gratitude.

"Fine," Clara relented. "I have to warn you. You can't interfere even if he's in pain. Some of these spells may be painful, but it has to be done. They're necessary if we're going to find out what's happened to him."

Buffy walked over the arm chair and sat down, while Dawn sat on the arm rest beside her. Willow helped Clara with the examination. Clara began to write at speed on a notebook, while a little ball of light floated over Spike. Clara put her hand on his head and Buffy watched as he started to shudder violently.

"Is he meant to do that?" she whispered to Dawn, who had gone the colour of sour milk.

Buffy had not been prepared for the reality of the situation. It was a struggle to sit back and watch as the magic caused him pain. Buffy sighed in relief when she saw Clara take her hands from his head. The relief didn't last long, as Clara placed her hands on his chest instead. It was worse this time, and Spike appeared to be having a seizure. Buffy alternated between hugging herself and sitting on her hands as she listened to his whispers and moans.

"It's good that he is reacting to pain, right?" Dawn asked.

Buffy nodded in an attempt to reassure her sister as much as herself. Dawn had her hand on Buffy's shoulder, and when Spike made a noise her grip would get tighter. Clara pulled away from Spike and gestured to Willow to pass her the doctor's bag she carried. She took out her stethoscope and thermometer, then took his vitals. She then pulled out a needle and took some blood, which she squeezed into a bottle. She looked satisfied, which did nothing to reassure Buffy. The woman had spent a half an hour testing Spike, but he still was no closer to rousing.

When Clara was finished, she addressed Buffy. "There doesn't seem to be anything mystical wrong with him," she said. "I can't sense any spell or curse. Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be any way of knowing what made him human. In regards to his physical condition, I think his body is just exhausted and trying to recover from the sudden return to life. He needs to rest for now, but he should wake up once his body has had time to recover. I tested his heartbeat and his breathing. All seems normal, but I did take some bloods to be on the safe side."

Buffy let out a breath she didn't realise she had been holding. "We don't need to take him to the hospital?"

Clara smiled. "No, he should be fine. He's just unconscious. It would be safer to keep him here considering it's going to be quite the adjustment for him."

Buffy was in completely in agreement. She knew hospital staff wouldn't want so many visitors and would insist on sending her home. There was also the chance they might think he needed to be institutionalized if they heard him talking about vampires or demons.

"You're sure?" Buffy asked.

"Yes. I can come back in the morning to check on him."

Buffy went to hug her. "Thank you so much."

"You're welcome, dear. Any friend of Willow is a friend of mine. Besides, the both of you have made quite the name for yourselves and I would only be honoured to aid the original Slayer and the vampire that dusted to save the world. It's time for me to leave. I'm exhausted and I think we could all do with a good sleep."

Willow walked Clara to the door and waved goodbye.

"You two should leave too," Buffy suggested, once the door shut behind Clara. "You could get a couple of hours sleep and come back in the morning. I can manage here with Spike."

"Are you sure?" Willow asked.

"Yeah," Buffy replied as her friend tried to stifle a yawn. "You're tired."

"I'm not going anywhere," Dawn announced. "I want to be here. You or Spike might need me."

"We'll be fine," Buffy insisted.

Dawn shook her head. She had inherited the infamous stubborn Summers' gene and Buffy knew a lost cause when she saw one.

"Fine," she agreed. "You can sleep in the spare room."

"Great," said Willow. "Now that is sorted, I can go to my beddy-bye."

The three women embraced. Buffy had never been good at words, so she tried to communicate her gratitude to both Willow and Dawn in the hug. The three pulled apart and Willow smiled at them as she headed for the door.

Once the door shut, Buffy critically eyed Spike's body and decided to move him to their bedroom.

"Let me help," her sister insisted.

Buffy laughed. "Geez, Dawn. I'm the one with the super power here. I ran all the way home with him over my shoulder. I think I can manage the stairs."

"I need to do something," she protested. "Besides, you must be beat."

Buffy shrugged, not having the energy to argue, and she grabbed his middle as her sister took his feet. The Slayer was careful to shoulder the majority of the weight as they stumbled up the stairs and into the bedroom. Buffy pulled back the sheets and they laid him down on the bed.

Dawn patted Buffy on the hand. "I'm going to go to bed now. Wake me if you need me."

"Thanks, Dawn," Buffy whispered.

Dawn smiled. "That's what sisters are for."

With that she turned and walked out the door, leaving Buffy alone with Spike.

To be continued...