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How Things Used to Be

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She used to be a girl, just like all the other girls at her high school. She cared about cheerleading, boys, and making good enough grades to keep her parents happy. She wanted to be Homecoming Queen, wanted a cute boyfriend, wanted as much fun as she could squeeze out of life before she had to go to college and grow up. She loved stuffed animals, ice cream, roses, Godiva chocolates, and scented candles, and her favorite treats were a night out at the ice show with her father or sharing hot chocolate over an old movie with her mother. She never doubted that she was safe and loved, Daddy's little girl and Mom's pride and joy, and she'd thought it would always stay that way.

That was before. Before vampires and demons and Watchers and divorces and moves changed everything. Before sisters who were magical keys and best friends who were witches and lovers who weren't human. Before she knew Sunnydale or Hellmouths existed, when monsters were confined to movie screens and late night slumber party stories, and sneaking out was for meeting boys and going to clubs instead of going out to do her sacred duty and save the world. Before supernatural strength or healing, before secret identities and hidden compartments filled with weapons, before convoluted plots and stories that would never be believed. Before she was Chosen.

For a long time, she fought to get that safe little world back. She told herself and everyone around her that she wanted to be that girl again, that she didn't want to be special or different, that she just wanted to be Buffy. She railed against the fate and destiny that had marked her, and even tried to walk away from it more than once. But fate had a way of seeking her out, and destiny wove itself into her bones, until one day she woke to find that, for better or worse, the girl she used to be was gone forever. She supposed she should miss her, but when she tried, she found that she could only feel relief. The life that had been planned for her, that safe, comfortable world that her Mom and Dad and Angel had wanted for her was never going to be hers, and for the first time since before she'd met Merrick, she was okay with that.