full 3/4 1/2   skin light dark       
Normal Is Just a Word by slaymesoftly
<<     >>
Chapter Ten

Although Sean couldn't resist teasing Will about giving up his life and being willing to wear a ball and chain, he was actually pleased that his friend had found someone to marry. Sean knew that, even though he was thoroughly enjoying the life of a perpetually eligible bachelor, that wasn't true for Will. As flirty and as fond of women as Will was, he had always been happier when he had a special girl in his life, and Sean was pleased that Buffy had become that special girl.

To celebrate the engagement, Sean had convinced Marcia to give Buffy and Will the same night off so that he could take them out to dinner at a nice restaurant. He picked them up at the apartment, giving Buffy a congratulatory hug and kiss before settling in for a night of giving Will a hard time about giving up his freedom.

Will and Buffy took his ribbing in the spirit in which it was meant, reminding him that he couldn't seem to keep a good woman for more than a month, and pointing out that Buffy was giving up her freedom, too.

"That's right!" Sean said. "And I saw her first, didn't I?" He turned his warm eyes on Buffy. "Are you sure you don't want to get a taste of the real thing before you settle for this second-rater?"

Buffy smiled back, so used to Sean now that she barely registered his slight physical resemblance to Angel. He was so open and good-natured, and his attempts to put Will down were so obviously the teasing of someone who cared deeply for him, that she barely had to smother her anger when they sometimes struck a little too close to the bone. Once in a great while he would say something that sounded more like Angel expressing his disgust at Spike, but she smothered the flash of irritation, knowing it had more to do with her remembering how much her imaginary vampires disliked each other than it did with Sean's actual feelings.

When Will left the table for a few minutes, Sean took advantage of it: "You've made him very happy."

"He makes me very happy," Buffy replied, turning her hand and admiring the way her ring caught the light. "I'm a very lucky girl."

"You're both very lucky people," he said, almost wistfully. 'I wish you nothing but the best..." Will's return interrupted the serious talk and Sean immediately added, "But just so you know, I intend to embarrass both of you as thoroughly as I can when I stand up to make that best man's toast at your wedding."

Will shook his head and sat down, automatically reaching for Buffy's hand.

"Ah, everyone knows what a wanker you are. They won't be listening...or believing a word of it."

Buffy smiled at the banter between them, basking in the affectionate aura that seemed to surround their small table. While the two men tried to outdo each other with embarrassing anecdotes from their high school days, Buffy zoned out and began mentally designing her wedding dress.


Buffy and Will settled into a comfortable domesticity, enlivened by the obligatory family meet and greet, where Joyce and Jane established an immediate rapport. In no time they were calling each other regularly, discussing both the wedding, and the other things they'd found they had in common. Hank and Jane's husband had enough activities in common that they had no trouble carrying on conversations about cars and golf on those rare occasions when they had to spend time together.

Every once in a while, Buffy would still get flashbacks to her life in Sunnydale, and she marveled at how wonderfully different it was here in the real world. She insisted that Dr. Swinson figure out what could have triggered a need for her to escape her very ordinary and happy real life to spend years in one that offered only heartbreak and horror.

"Dr. Swinson, I know enough about psychology by now to know there had to be a reason. Only a crazy person would go somewhere like that when she could be here, having boyfriends, getting engaged..." Her voice trailed off when the doctor just stared at her with raised eyebrows. "Oh... yeah. Right. Crazy. I was crazy." Buffy bit her lip. "But why? Why did I go crazy like that? I was happy—I think. As much as anybody is happy in high school."

Dr Swinson sighed. "Buffy, there's so much we don't yet know about the mind and how it works. It's not uncommon for teenagers to have problems dealing with reality. There are chemical changes in the brain, hormonal fluctuations..."

"Other teenagers don't go to live in another world where they have to fight vampires and demons every day," Buffy muttered. They'd been over all this many times before and the answers just weren't satisfying her desire to understand why she would have ever left her very nice life.

"I suspect a chemical imbalance of some kind," the doctor said, giving a mental sigh and wondering how many times she was going to have to repeat herself. "You started getting better when we started you on a new drug for treating schizophrenia. I think we have to assume—"

"I'm a schizophrenic?"

"I think you have a form of it, yes. Certainly you are not a classic case—you fell ill at a younger age than is normal, your episodes of being in touch with reality were very rare and never lasted long enough for us to make any progress—"

"My dreams," Buffy interjected. "When I was asleep in that world, I was awake here."

"Sometimes, yes. But as I said, those episodes were very few and far between; they really didn't give us enough to work with."

"Am I going to go crazy again?" Buffy's question was blunt and she stared hard at the doctor, daring her to lie.

"I think...I certainly hope not. You've done beautifully since you recovered, and I'd like to think you can tell the difference now. Is it a possibility? Of course, it is. But your entire experience has been so unique, so different from anything we've seen before..." She gazed at Buffy with sympathy and warmth. "Your life is so wonderful right now, I cannot imagine your wanting to escape to anywhere else."

"I can't imagine it either. I have everything I ever wanted here. I don't think anything could make me go back to that terrible place."

"And as long as you are faithful about taking your meds, I see no reason why you should have to worry about it." Dr. Swinson smiled confidently.

"Yeah, I know. A pill twice a day keeps the vampires away." Buffy made a face. "Am I going to have to take them forever?"

"Well, for the foreseeable future, certainly. As your flashbacks begin to fade and you have no episodes, we can talk about reducing the dosage - but even if, at some point in the distant future, we wean you off them, I would never want you to be without a pill or two within easy reach. Think of these pills as your safety net. Always keep a few in your purse for emergencies. If you have a stronger than normal flashback and feel yourself slipping away, you should call me immediately, but my advice might very well be to take a pill right that second."

"Don't worry," Buffy said. "I've got a pretty good handle on those flashbacks and memories now. I don't even get them much when Will's around. He's a very stabilizing influence. And I think the journals are helping a lot."

"I've seen that." She smiled at Buffy. "And I do want to congratulate you on your engagement, even if I would have to agree with your mother that you could have spent a little more time exploring the world you've missed. But I cannot deny that he seems to be a good man and he's been very good for you." She sat up a little straighter. "About the notebooks—journals...when am I going to see them?"

"Oh," Buffy said, ducking her head and evading the doctor's perceptive eyes. "Well, I'm still working on them. I keep remembering new stuff and I don't want to give them to you until I think they're complete."

Somehow Buffy was sure that Dr. Swinson wouldn't think much of the idea that Will was reading the notebooks before she was. Let alone that he was taking notes on major events and outlining a novel on his laptop. She gave what she hoped was an open and innocent smile. I wonder if lying by omission to your psychiatrist is a sign of being crazy? Deciding it wasn't, she waited for the doctor's reaction to her reluctance to turn over her journals.

Visibly trying to hide her disappointment, Dr. Swinson nodded in agreement. "I suppose that's the best course," she said. "I do want them to be as complete as possible. And, of course, their primary purpose is to keep you aware and centered."

"That's what I thought." Buffy smiled and rose to leave. "I'll let you know when I think I've remembered everything there is to remember."


It was the end of a busy night in the store - with Christmas long over and sale and inventory time also finished, they hadn't expected any heavy store traffic. However, this particular night was almost as busy as during the holiday season and time to talk had been in short supply. Both Buffy and Will were exhausted. They put the cash and receipts in the safe in Marcia's office, locked up, and walked to the parking lot, anxious to get home and put their feet up.

After a quick shower, Will joined Buffy in their bed, snuggling up behind her and nuzzling her neck.

"Are you asleep already?"

"Nope," she said, rolling over. "Just thinking."


"Will you be mad at me if I tell you?"

"Don't know, do I? Why would I be?"

"I was thinking about Spike..."

She could feel the tension in Will's body, even as he tried to keep his voice neutral. "Were you?"

Buffy put a hand on his cheek and stroked it gently. "I was thinking about how much he changed that last year—about how much I came to trust him—and I was wondering how he took it that I died. If he hung around Sunnydale to protect Dawn, or if he left and went somewhere he could get minions to kill for him."

"What do you think he would have done?" Will struggled to keep his face expressionless, to hide the fear that always gripped him when Buffy spoke of people from her delusion as though they were real and continuing their lives without her.

"I don't know," she said, rolling onto her back. "I think he really liked Dawn, and he did promise me he'd protect her till the end of the world..." She saw the expression on Will's face and quickly recovered. "I'm just speculating. In case you want to, you know, keep the book going longer than—"

"It's alright, love. Won't deny that it frightens me a bit when you get like that, but as long as I know that you know it's not—"

"It's not real," she agreed immediately, interrupting him. "I know that. I promise. It's just that... those people...they are—were real to me for a long time. I can't help but wonder about them sometimes. I'm sorry," she whispered, turning to face him again. "I didn't mean to scare you."

"'s alright, sweetheart. As long as you don't leave me, I don't mind if you wonder about them. Just promise me you won't go there and try to find out what's happened, yeah?"

"I promise. No peeking in at them."

The kiss that accompanied her promise soon grew into something sufficiently distracting that neither one of them mentioned Sunnydale again. After a sated and happy Buffy had snuggled into his side, safe and secure with Will's arms around her and his warm breath on her hair, she sighed happily and drifted off to sleep.

<<     >>