Strange Again
By Miss Witch

Title: Strange Again
Author: Miss Witch
Email: misswitch@qwest.net
Rating: PG - language
Summary: Buffy questions which reality was real and wonders if she made the right decision.
Disclaimer: I own nothing. Not even my car. BtVS belongs to Joss (all hail), Mutant Enemy (grrr argh), Fox, UPN, WB…. whoever. Basically, it belongs to someone who is not me, no matter how much I whine and beg.
Spoilers: Season 6 - Normal Again
Distribution: Just ask. I guarantee I'll say yes. I just like the thrill of knowing someone wants it.
Feedback: Definitely. Especially if you're planning on saying wonderful things!!


Buffy gingerly put the frying pan back into place. She was trying to make as little noise as possible while the rest of the household recovered from her almost killing them. Xander and Tara had returned to their respective homes and Willow and Dawn were upstairs asleep.

Buffy had drunk the disgusting sludge of a cure and it had done it's job and returned her to reality. She supposed.

<Really, which one was real?> she thought. In a way, Buffy wondered if she'd made the right decision. Had she left her real life behind for a nightmare world? Even if this was the real world, wouldn't a life with both her parents together and alive where she wasn't a Slayer been a better one?

Buffy shook her head, trying to clear the confusing thoughts. She covered her face with her hands and fought the urge to cry. This was just one more thing that she wasn't sure if she fucked up or not. Buffy wasn't sure when the last time she made the right choice, other than ditching Spike, but it had been a long time ago.

Buffy turned suddenly, and before she could talk herself out of it, she snatched up the phone and dialed the innocent looking number stuck on the refrigerator.

Biting her lips nervously, listening to the clicking sounds as the call connected to it's destination.

One, two, three… Buffy paced the kitchen floor nervously as counted the rings. <He's not there.> she thought sadly. <Gone and gotten himself a life.> Sighing, she started to hang up. Just as she was about to return the phone to the wall and disconnect the call, her Slayer hearing picked up a breathless "Hello?" Buffy brought the receiver back to her ear.

"Giles?" she sobbed in relief. There was a moment of silence.

"Buffy?" Giles said. "Buffy? What's wrong?" Buffy sobbed helplessly for a moment.

"Giles, I need to see you." she whispered finally. "I'm so confused. I just need to see you. To know I made the right choice."

"What happened?" Giles asked gently. Buffy rested her back against the wall and slid to the floor.

"There was this demon," she started. "A Glack Girl Kashmir, or something like that."

"A Glarghk Guhl Kashma'nik?" Giles asked, a trace of laughter in his voice.

"Yeah, that's it. It stung me."

"You were injected with it's venom?" All trace of humor had left his voice.

"Yes."

"Are you alright?" Buffy smiled wanly.

"Physically, yes. Mentally, I'm not so sure." she told him. "Which is why I need to see you." There was silence on the other end of the line, and Buffy held her breath. She braced herself to hear that he didn't want to see her. Finally he spoke.

"I can't get away right now. I'll send you a ticket to come here." he said. Buffy bobbled the phone.

"Me? Go there?" she asked in excitement. "I didn't expect that, but, ok, that works for me."

"I'll take care of everything and send you the details." Giles told her. Buffy could almost hear his smile through the phone.

Her mood much improved, Buffy hung up the phone. She was going to see Giles!

******

Buffy wearily dragged herself off the plane. She didn't know how Giles had done it, flying back and forth when she'd returned from the dead. Even with her small size, she'd felt cramped and smushed.

Rolling her shoulders, she strode up the walkway, her steps growing faster as she grew closer to the doorway. As the waiting area came into view, Buffy began to scan the crowd for Giles' face.

"Buffy."

Buffy whipped around at the sound of her name. There he was! Toward the back of the crowd. <He looks tired.> she thought as she broke into a run toward him. People waiting for their loved ones to disembark blocked her way. Frustrated, Buffy scanned the area for the easiest path. Heedless of the looks she was getting, Buffy jumped onto the plastic chairs and leapt into Giles' arms.

"I missed you." she murmured, burying her face in his neck as her feet dangled above the floor. Giles wrapped his arms around her tightly, eyes shut as he held her close.

"I missed you too." he whispered, inhaling the scent of her shampoo.

Finally, he released her, lowering her slowly to the floor.

"We'd best get your things." he said awkwardly, looking everywhere but at her. Giles was overwhelmed with emotion. He and Buffy had rarely ever touched, until her resurrection. He'd never trusted himself enough.

"I just have one bag." Buffy told him, giddily, looking around the airport, trying to take in everything at once. Giles grinned.

"And just how big would this "one bag" be?" he asked. "Knowing you, it's the size of a small car." Buffy laughed, and linked her arm with his.

"Not quite." she assured him.

They retrieved Buffy's bag from baggage claim. ("Oh, it's merely motorcycle size." Giles had claimed sarcastically.) Giles led her to the car park and as they drove back to his apartment, they discussed the every day happenings of Sunnydale.

Giles' apartment was in a quaint part of the city, filled with old buildings and shops. Giles led Buffy up the stairs to his apartment.

"Wow, Giles" Buffy said in awe. "this is a really cool place."

"I'm glad you like it." he told her, leading her through the living room to the guest room. "I suppose you're exhausted from the long trip. Why don't you get some sleep and we'll talk when you're rested." Buffy shook her head.

"If you don't mind, I'd like to just get this out of the way." she told him. "It's driving me crazy, and I keep going back and forth over whether or not I did the right thing." Giles nodded.

"Why don't you make yourself comfortable in the living room while I make us some tea."

Buffy settled herself in a very comfy chair, curling her legs under her. She rested her head on the back, preparing her speech in her head.

Giles returned with the tea tray, and she watched him silently as he handed her the tea and settled on the couch. For a moment, they just looked at each other.

"So, I got stabbed by this demon." she started suddenly. "And I began to have hallucinations that I was in an insane asylum. I'd been there since the time I saw my first vampires." Buffy took a sip of tea. "According to the doctor, I'd been living in a fantasy world since then. Mom was alive and still married to Dad. Dawn didn't exist. And I wasn't the Slayer."

"It sounds like a wonderful place to be." Giles commented softly. Buffy nodded.

"It was everything I wanted, a normal life with both parents, alive and well, who loved me and knew I existed." Buffy looked Giles in the eye. "And all I had to do to stay there was killed everyone I loved here."

Fear gripped Giles' heart. Very slowly, he put his tea cup onto the table.

"Buffy, what did you do?" he asked.

"Well, Willow had made the antidote for the demon venom from the spike of the demon that Spike and Xander had captured and chained up in the basement. I dumped it into the trash, dragged Willow down there, tied her up, knocked Xander out with a frying pan and chained him to the pole, dragged Dawn down there, as she cried and begged me to stop. Then I let the demon loose on them." she told him.

Giles stared at her in horror. He was stunned by the matter of fact tone in her voice. He said nothing and just let her finish her story.

"I just sat there and watched the demon try to kill them. In the other reality, Mom, Dad and the doctor all encouraged me to kill them. Tara came down the steps and when she tried to help, I attacked her as well." Tears began to flow down Buffy's face. "All I had to do was let them die." she sobbed. "But I couldn't. Real or not, how could I live with myself in any reality if I let my best friends die?" she asked Giles. "So, I told my mom I loved her, said good bye and kicked the demon's ass." Giles silently released the breath he'd been holding.

"You did the right thing." he assured her, leaning forward and taking her hand between his.

"Besides," Buffy continued as if he hadn't spoken. "it wouldn't have worked anyway. I would've still been stuck here." She raised her teary eyes to his. "Because I would've never been able to kill you." she whispered. Giles smiled.

"Well, that's good to know." he said. Never letting go of her hands, Giles slid off the couch and kneeled in front of Buffy.

"I know, even now, you question which reality is the true one." he consoled. "But I can't believe that no matter what the circumstances, you would allow yourself to retreat into a fantasy world."

"I feel like I killed Mom." she whispered. Giles reached up and caressed her cheek.

"It's not going to be easy." he told her. "I wish I could tell you it would be. But you did the right thing." Buffy nodded sadly.

"The gang's been pretty forgiving about the whole thing. Even Dawn." she told him. "Would you?" Giles cocked his head.

"Would I what?"

"Forgive me if I'd tried to kill you?" Giles didn't even pause.

"Without question." he assured her. Buffy sniffed, and without warning threw herself into his arms.

"Thank you." she sobbed. Giles did the only thing he could… he held her tightly as she wept.

Eventually, her sobs quieted, and with only the occasional hitch in her breath, she rested her head on Giles' chest. Now that she had cried herself out, Buffy noticed the way his hands were running up and down her back. Slowly, she drew away. Only enough so that she could look into his face, not enough to make him let go.

"I love you, Giles." she told him. Giles blinked, startled. Buffy was sure that if he'd been wearing his glasses and his hands were free, he would've been cleaning them.

"I love you too." he told her matter of factly. Buffy shook her head.

"No, Giles." Buffy said slowly. "I - Love - You." she repeated, stressing each word carefully. "And not in a father - daughter way." she said. Before he could protest or she talked herself out of it, Buffy pressed her lips against his.

For one stunned moment, Giles didn't respond. He had been sure that he'd heard her wrong, that she'd couldn't have possibly said what he thought she'd said. And now her lips were pressed against his.

<Oh, this might have been a huge mistake.> Buffy thought. Just as she started to pull away, Giles tightened his grip and kissed her back.

Finally, they broke apart, staring at each other.

"Definitely the right reality." Buffy murmured, brushing her lips against his. "Definitely."