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Only Human by TammyDevil666
Only Human
Title: Only Human
Author: TammyDevil666
Summary: What if Buffy lost her powers a second time, but it happens in season 5? What if the cause was once again someone close to home, and she has to put her trust in a former enemy?
Rating: PG-13
Feedback: Any comments would be appreciated.
Disclaimer: None of the characters belong to me.

"So, how are things with Riley?"

Buffy shrugged. "I don't know. I thought everything would get back to normal, but ever since I stopped Riley from leaving town, it just seems to have gotten worse. I'm starting to think I should have let him go."

"You know I like Riley, but you can't force something that's not there. You deserve to be happy," Willow told her.

"Yeah, I have to break up with him, but that won't be easy. He gave up the army to be with me. We're sparring tomorrow night, hopefully that should give me some normalcy, even if I have to hold back a lot."

* * * * *

Buffy groaned when she crashed into the wall for the second time, feeling her back ache in places that she wasn't used to.

"Sorry about that, you okay?"

She let Riley help her up, shaking the dizziness away. He could have at least pretended like he wasn't pleased. "I'm fine, it's just one of those days."

"Must be, it's a rare occasion that I'm actually stronger than you. Wanna go again?"

Buffy really wanted to wipe that smug look off his face, but twenty minutes later and she still wasn't getting the upper hand. Patrol later that night was no better, she was screwing up left and right, something was definitely wrong. It became clear when a mere fledgling pinned her to the ground, about to stake her with her own weapon. She tried to fight him off as best she could, but she was too weak. Buffy shut her eyes at what she was sure was her last fight, when a sudden cloud of dust replaced the vampire above her. She coughed and tried to sit up, her savior being the last person she expected.

He grinned, taking a drag off his cigarette. "You feeling all right, Slayer? It's not like you to let some wannabe nearly do you in."

She stood up. "I'm just having an off day, I didn't need your help."

Spike nodded. "Right, I could tell, I guess it's too much to hope for a simple 'thank you' to cross those lips of yours. My mistake."

Buffy followed after him because she actually felt guilty, but she didn't make it far as she tripped over a rock and landed back on the ground, crying out at the sudden pain. "God, what the hell is wrong with me?"

Spike kneeled before her, gently touching her ankle. "It looks like a sprain. Come on, I'll get you all fixed up."

She didn't argue as Spike picked her up and carried her off to his crypt, wondering why he was being so nice to her. 

He placed her on a sarcophagus, getting out some supplies to bandage her ankle with. "What's really going on? You're not usually this clumsy."

Buffy shrugged. "I don't know, it's like all my strength is gone. I have no coordination, no fighting skills. I couldn't even beat Riley in a sparring match. The only other time I've felt like this was during the Cruciamentum on my eighteenth birthday, but it can't be the same thing."

Spike growled. "Bloody hell, your watcher put you through that barbaric ritual?"

"He didn't have a choice, that's actually why he was fired. He decided to help me last minute and the Council didn't take too kindly to that. You don't think he has something to do with this, do you? There is no way Giles would put me through that again, especially not with this freaky chick on the loose. He knows I have to protect Dawn."

"Your guess is as good as mine, Slayer, I don't know what else could be causing this."

Buffy knew Giles couldn't be responsible, but she was going to find out.

* * * * *

"Are you absolutely certain?"

Buffy rolled her eyes. She grabbed a staff hanging on the wall of the gym in the back of the Magic Box, trying to bend it with no success. "I'm as weak as a kitten apparently, why does this sound so familiar to me?"

Giles took his glasses off to clean them. "You can't honestly think I had anything to do with this? I was so ashamed of myself for putting you through it the first time, you must believe that."

"I do believe you. I just don't know what else to think right now. This is happening at the worst time, what if Glory shows up and I can't do anything to stop her? What if she finds out about Dawn? She could hurt my mom or any of you, and there wouldn't be anything I could do about it. We have to find out what's causing this."

Giles couldn't agree more.

* * * * *

Buffy was surprised to find Riley at her house the next night, giving him a small smile.

"Hey, your mom took Dawn to the movies, we have the place all to ourselves."

She cringed at the suggestive look in his eyes, really not feeling up to spending time with him at the moment. That break up needed to come sooner rather than later. Buffy grabbed the peanut butter jar off the counter, twisting it until her hand was red, but it wouldn't budge.

Riley grinned at her predicament, taking the jar from her and opening it with ease.

Again she had a strong urge to wipe that smug look off his face, he seemed to be enjoying this way too much.

"I made you some tea again, it'll help you feel better."

Buffy took a sip of the hot liquid, scrunching up her nose at the sour taste as she set the cup back down. It was time to just rip the band aid off and get this over with. "Riley, we need to talk. I don't think this is working out."

"What do you mean?" he asked, clearly astonished.

She took a deep breath to calm herself. "I appreciate everything you've done for me, but my heart is just not in this relationship anymore. I know yours isn't, either. And now I have this new issue to deal with..."

"Oh, I see how it is," Riley said, cutting her off. "You're not the strong one anymore and you can't handle that. You can't just end this, Buffy. I gave up everything for you. I had a chance to join the army, but I chose you and this is the thanks I get?"

"I'm sorry you feel that way, but you will never be stronger than me. It really gets on my nerves how you're always fixating on that. I'm just going through something right now, but it won't last forever. I think you should go, the army will probably still take you back." Riley grabbed her arm before she could leave, slamming her against the fridge. She couldn't break out of his hold, no matter how hard she tried. "Let me go," she spat.

"No, this is how it's going to be. You're normal now, for all you know this whole slayer gig is over with. Maybe it was never supposed to be you in the first place, do you really think you're so special? Do you think anyone else would possibly want you now that you're not a superhero? I know all about what you used to be like, you were some shallow valley girl. And despite all of that, I still chose to be here for you. I loved you when no one else did. Angel took off, he could have cared less about you, and Parker? You were just another notch on his belt, not even worth remembering. I'm the one who stuck by you through everything."

Buffy kneed him in the crotch, finally able to get out of his clutches. "You don't know anything. I want you to stay the hell away from me, and for your sake, you better pray I don't get my strength back."

He laughed, standing up straighter. "It's cute that you think you're still tough. We'll talk later."

Buffy let out a breath when he left the house, resting her head against the counter. Something had to be done about this.

* * * * *

"Are you saying Riley attacked you?"

Buffy shook her head. "He tried, but he only grabbed me. He got too cocky thinking he was suddenly the big man in charge. Giles, I can't live like this anymore. I see girls in abusive relationships all the time, but I swore that it would never be me. Being the slayer, I never thought I had to worry about that. He made me a victim and I feel disgusted with myself, what the hell is going on? Have you heard of this ever happening before when it wasn't a Cruciamentum? Am I getting too old? I know slayers have an expiration date, but I didn't think they could just lose their powers for no reason."

Giles wished he knew what to tell her, finally noticing the cup of liquid on the counter and picking it up, cringing at the smell coming from it. "What is this?"

She shrugged. "Just some tea that Riley's been giving me, he said it was supposed to help me, but now I think that was a lie." 

"Yes, you might be right about that. When did you first notice your weakened state?"

Buffy gave that some consideration. "I think about a week ago." Her eyes widened. "It was when I thought I was getting sick and Riley gave me the tea to fight the illness, he said it had some special herbs or something. I didn't give it much thought at the time. Do you think he could have been drugging me?"

Giles nodded. "It's too soon to tell, but I'll run some tests to see just what he put in here. In the meantime, you should try and get some rest." 

Buffy knew he was right, but sleep wouldn't come easily.

* * * * *

"I'm so sorry, Buff, this is all my fault."

"How is it your fault?"

Xander ran his fingers through his hair. "I'm the one who talked you into going after Riley. He would have probably been on his way to South America if it wasn't for me. I just never thought he'd be capable of this."

Willow put her arm around her childhood best friend, seeing how upset he was.

"It wasn't your fault. I still chose to go after him, even with all the problems we were going through. I wanted so desperately to fix things that I tried to force something that wasn't there. Look, I want you guys to be careful, Riley's not stable. I don't want him taking his anger out on any of you."

Willow agreed. "What about your mom and Dawn?"

"It's taken care of, I convinced my mom to take Dawn to Los Angeles for a little while. She has a sister that lives there, it's just until I get my powers back, which I'm hoping will happen now that I've stopped drinking that tea. I'm so sticking to coffee from now on. Giles can handle himself, there's no one else to worry about."

Xander cleared his throat. "Actually, and I can't believe I'm saying this, but there's one more person."

* * * * *

Buffy used all the strength she had left to push Spike's door open, hating that she couldn't just crash through it like usual. She felt her stomach drop when she saw how trashed the place was, everything was destroyed and the vampire was nowhere in sight. She was about to panic when he suddenly popped up from the lower level, and she sighed in relief.

"Come to witness your boy toy's handiwork? He luckily didn't discover the downstairs or I wouldn't even have a bedroom left." 

Buffy didn't know what happened after that. Whether it was relief or just exhaustion from everything she'd had to go through, but she couldn't control the sobs from bursting forth as she buried her face in her hands.

Just like that, Spike's anger faded as he rushed over and took her in his arms, leading her down to his room where they would have something to sit on.

"I never meant for any of this to happen," she finally got out. "Riley's lost it, and there's nothing I can do to stop him. I barely even have the strength of a normal girl, Cordelia could probably take me in a fight right now. He's been drugging me, this whole time and I never even saw it, or maybe I just wouldn't believe it. I tried to break up with him and he went crazy on me..."

Spike growled. "What did that wanker do?" She didn't answer, but he could clearly see the bruises on her arm. He tried to keep his temper in check, that wasn't what she needed from him now. Spike went over to his desk, taking a black object out and handing it to her.

Her eyes widened as she took the weapon from him. "Why do you have a gun?"

He shrugged. "You never know when you might need one, whether I would be able to aim it or not. I want you to take this, just in case he comes back. I know you're against killing humans, but you need to defend yourself. Think about your mum and the bit."

"They're out of town, just until I start feeling like myself again."

Spike was glad for that. "Good, this will keep you safe until I come back then."

She stopped him from walking away. "Come back from where?"

He let out an unneeded breath. "There's something I need to take care of, but I should hopefully be back in a few days."

"Wait, you're leaving? Now?"

Spike hated the scared expression on her face, taking her back in his arms. "Just stay safe, okay? I'll return before you have time to miss me."

She nodded, closing her eyes at the feel of his lips pressing against her forehead. Buffy didn't know where these newfound feelings were coming from, she didn't want him to leave, but before she could do anything about it, he was gone.

* * * * *

It had been three days since Spike left, and Buffy had been on edge ever since. It wasn't like her to have to watch her back all the time, but Riley still hadn't made a move and it was making her nervous. Her strength was still gone, it was like she was eighteen all over again and she hated it. Buffy kept the gun in the kitchen drawer, not knowing if she could actually use it. She preferred her weapons of choice to be made out of wood. A loud pounding on the front door had her nearly jumping out of her skin, a booming voice soon following.

"Come on, Buffy, don't be like this. Let me in, I just want to talk. I promise to be on my best behavior."

She moved toward the back door, ready to make a run for it if she had to.

"All right, I guess we're doing this the hard way."

Buffy ran outside when he crashed through the door, but she didn't get very far, she cried out as he grabbed her, slamming her to the ground. 

"Now, is that any way to treat your boyfriend?" He got off of her, yanking her up with him. "I didn't mean for things to go this far. A friend gave me the drugs, I could feel you pulling away ever since I decided to stay here. I just wanted to keep you with me, and this was the only way I could think of to do it. I never meant to hurt you."

Buffy had enough at that point, shoving away from him. "You didn't mean to hurt me? You made me defenseless, Riley, at the worst possible time. Glory could have attacked my family at any moment, do you even care about that? I made a mistake when I decided to go after you, this relationship was over the second I saw you getting a suck job from vampire whores. Hell, it was over way before that, I'm officially done. I can't kill you, but I have no problem calling the police on you if you don't stay the hell away from me." He grabbed her again, and she was really starting to hate being manhandled.

"Sorry, I can't let you do that. We're meant to be together, I'll make you feel it." He clapped a hand over her mouth to keep her from screaming, knocking her back to the ground as he got on top of her.

Buffy tried to struggle and push him off, but it was no use. Instead, she bit his hand hard, letting out a bloodcurdling scream when he released her and hoping someone would hear.

Riley backhanded her across the face to shut her up. "That was really stupid."

She didn't know what else to do when a loud roar sounded nearby, Riley suddenly being ripped away. Buffy tried to get her breathing under control, only to see Spike giving Riley the beating of a lifetime. 

"The chip..." Riley croaked through the blood that now coated his mouth.

"Not on a leash anymore, mate, this has been long overdue." He grabbed Riley by the shirt and let loose another punch to his jaw. "You don't touch my slayer, you bloody pillock."

Buffy stood up. "Spike, don't."

Spike kicked Riley one last time, finally knocking him out. "I only won't for you, but if he so much as comes near you again..."

"He won't, I'll make sure of it. How?"

"I told you I had something to take care of, bloke owed me a favor." Spike was afraid of her reaction, the last thing he wanted was to meet the pointy end of her stake. He would never lay a finger on her, strength or not, he would gladly let her kill him if that's what it came down to.

She smiled, brushing the hair out of her face. "I really hope I get my powers back soon, I've missed fighting with you."

He smiled as well, beyond relieved. "The second that happens, you know where I'll be."

Buffy let out a sigh when he walked away, turning back to the fallen body of her ex-boyfriend. She had a phone call to make.

* * * * *

"Riley's on his way to Belize, the army picked him up an hour ago. There's a rehabilitation center there apparently, they're hoping that with some help, he'll be a decent soldier again. I just hope he doesn't come back here."

Spike agreed. "And how are you feeling?"

"Better, I managed to lift the couch slightly. I guess whatever he gave me is wearing off, I should be my old self in no time."

"That's good to know, but before you're back to your old self, there's something I've been wanting to do and I better do it now while I still have the chance of you not staking me."

Buffy didn't know what he was talking about, when his mouth was suddenly pressed against hers. She was taken by surprise, but soon found herself returning the kiss. She licked her lips once he pulled away, shaking her head. "No staking, I promise, this whole thing made me realize something. I don't want normal, I never really did. I just tried to convince myself that it was what I wanted, but I'm done with it. I want an equal, someone I can fully be myself with, someone who doesn't have a bruised ego the second I prove to be stronger than him."

"I may have someone in mind." 

Buffy smiled as he kissed her again, she could really get used to this. "I might take you up on that, but it's getting late. Walk me home? I'm not up to my full strength yet after all."

"It would be my pleasure," he responded, giving her one more kiss.

She blushed when more of his William side seemed to resurface. He'd been changing a lot lately and Buffy had a feeling it was because of her. She hated that it took her so long to realize it, but now that he didn't have that chip anymore, he could finally show his true potential without worrying about a piece of metal holding him back. It would probably be hard at first, but if anyone could get through it, Spike could. Buffy smiled again at the thought, she could hardly wait for what else was in store for them. It would be quite a journey.