A/N: Keeping this one PG-13 or R at the highest rating. Only hinting at NC-17 material. Some dialogue from “Hells Bells” by Rebecca Rand Kirshner
Chapter 8, Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed…
Oh, they all knew all right. While Buffy was busy reassuring Spike that she A. hadn’t lost her mind; B. was quite serious; and C. was fully sure she didn’t need any more time to think it through, Riley had dropped by Xander’s on his way out of town to drop the bomb. By the time she got back home, everyone was there already and all ready to pounce on her.
“But, Buffy,” Xander began, “You haven’t even adjusted to being back yet. How can you suddenly know you love SPIKE? I mean, this just sounds like more proof that the spell thing went really wrong. Giles said not all of you made the return trip. I’m thinking good sense is one of those things that missed the bus.”
“Xander,” Buffy sighed impatiently, “I know what I feel. That’s just it. Spike makes me feel. Since the night I came back he’s the one that made me comfortable, never asked me to pretend. He just accepted me and helped if I asked. I don’t just love him; I’ve learned to like and appreciate him too. I started to look at him differently the night I told him about my mom being sick. He was so sympathetic and kind. Little things just kept happening to show he was trying, and even though it didn’t seem like it, I did notice. You all saw what he went through protecting Dawn and me from Glory!”
“Will!” Xander grabbed at the witch’s arm tightly. “Come on, you have to sense something wrong here, some left over mojo that went kerplooie.”
“You’d have to ask Giles.” Willow glared. “He seems to think I messed up when I obviously didn’t. Buffy’s problem is that she’s been brainwashed by that pile of walking dust she’s been spending all her downtime with, that’s all.”
“Hey, watch what you say about Spike,” Dawn leveled a threat-filled stare at her sister’s friends. “He saved both your lives and Anya’s and Tara’s and even Giles’ when Buffy was dead, and he had nothing to gain from it. If Buffy loves him, maybe that’s part of the why.”
Buffy smiled at Dawn and had to agree, “Yes, that is a part of why, but while I’ve been trying to work out just what I feel, I realized that I was starting to kinda love him even before I died. This is just a natural progression.”
She looked pleadingly at her disapproving Watcher. “Not part of the ‘Buffy’s messed up’ part, but the ‘Buffy’s gonna be okay’ part. So yay me. Remember how I was so afraid I couldn’t love, Giles?”
The Watcher reluctantly nodded at the memory.
“You took me out there to meet the tribal queen and get some answers. I got so stuck on the ‘death is your gift’ and then dying that I forgot all about the rest. She told me that I pull away from love and that I had to risk the pain, that I had to forgive and that love would bring me my gift. Then she went on about death and then everything else happened so fast. I think she may have meant Spike.” Buffy was looking straight at Giles and saw him squirm at the thought that he had helped her arrive at this conclusion to her love dilemma.
“I mean, it fits. It makes even more sense than ‘hey you’re wondering if you can love and if you’ll ever be loved, so go jump off a tower.’ That didn’t make lots of sense if you think about it.” Buffy really wanted this third degree to be over so she could go to her room and remember the pole-axed look on Spike’s face as her admission sank in. She hadn’t been able to stay as long as she wanted to, because she knew the villagers would be coming with pitchforks and fire if she didn’t head them off at the pass herself. She had reluctantly left Spike, with his mouth still gaping in amazement, after a quick kiss and promise of further discussion and kissage later.
“I think it makes lots of sense,” Tara offered. “Spike has changed so much and, if we stop holding his past against him all the time, you have to admit that he’s done lots of good. Forgiveness is hard but not impossible.”
“You were never hit over the head and threatened by the undead menace,” Xander pointed out.
“No, but from what Willow told me about that, I was more surprised Spike didn’t just kill you then. If he were so terribly evil and beyond forgiving and change, he would have.” Tara quirked her brow in challenge. “A desperate, drunken, unchipped vampire hit you and knocked you out, then carried you to his lair and just laid you down without even taking a drink. That’s not exactly the stuff of horror novels.”
“Don’t forget the bottle,” Willow sidled up to Xander to bolster his side of the discussion. “Not very non-threatening there.”
“True, but again, he never even gave you a surface cut, did he?” Tara drew in a breath and decided she wasn’t going to back down on this. She had seen the light back in Buffy’s eyes, the light that had been missing since her return, and now that she knew why it was there, she was going to make sure no one snuffed it out again. They had done wrong in going along with Willow, she more than the others because she knew witchcraft well enough to know the dangers and yet had remained silent about bringing the Slayer back into such misery. No, she owed it to Buffy to support her in her choice. “Really none of this is even our business. Buffy says she loves Spike. Buffy LOOKS like a woman in love and at peace. We love Buffy. The end result is we should be happy for her and not try to tell her how to live, especially since we’re the ones who made her have to live again.”
There was utter silence as everyone digested Tara’s words. Clearly Xander and Willow still had objections, but this time they kept them to themselves. Giles at least appeared to be weighing the words. Perhaps his love for his charge would win out in the end and the unusual couple would find some support there as well. Tara could but hope.
Spike couldn’t believe what he had heard. Her whisper of a kiss and vow to return later merely added to the feeling of unreality. Buffy loved him! All the sex and pain of the first time had never led the girl to those feelings, and yet this time she was reassuring him that she had started to feel them before her death! It made no sense to him. He had fully expected to help her heal and then watch as one day she rode off into the sunset with some normal guy…or, in his worst nightmares, the Mighty Poof…anyone getting the girl except him! He had merely wanted to do right by her this time, no trying to draw her into the dark or the horrors that came later.
At first he had thought she was saying what she did to show Captain Cardboard that his moving on hadn’t hurt her. Then he thought it was frustration that he had been turning down her advances. He knew she was lusting after him heavily; he could smell it on her. Buffy had claimed that none of those doubts were worthy. She had actually thought her feelings through and was speaking from her heart and her mind when she said she loved him. Could he dare believe her? Could he survive it if she was wrong or misguided? Could he go on if she changed her mind?
Spike would never have expected that a vampire could actually go into shock, but he knew that was the state that best described his condition at the moment. Buffy had dropped that flower soft kiss on his lips and said she would be back, then slid into the night before he could so much as shake himself back to sensibility once more. The crypt door was still standing open from her exit.
She had said something about getting home to tell Dawn before anyone else did. Dawn didn’t despise him in this time period. In fact, Spike liked to think she’d be happy with Buffy’s news. The Watcher would likely be by soon with threats and sharpened wood. As for the witch and Harris, well, he didn’t want to think of what Buffy would have to put up with when she broke the news to them–provided she was going to break the news to them. ‘Didn’t exactly say much to them last time round. Might want me to be her dark secret this time too.’
Could it be possible that in seeking Buffy’s own good he would find his happiness in the end? Was it ever that simple for him? He trembled at the possible outcomes of this night’s revelation.
He was in new territory now. Everything had just changed. Maybe Buffy would get that counseling he had suggested for all her issues and she’d be talked back into her right mind and he’d be out in the cold once more. ‘Be my luck to get the girl only to lose her because of my own advice.’ No, Buffy’s problems had been there before she got involved with him the last time. She had to deal with losing her mum, losing Angel–hell, all the men who’d mattered to her. Maybe Giles coming back had helped heal some of that already. Lots had changed, after all. She wasn’t getting her soul sucked dry at the Doublemeat either. All the advantages he had coming from the future just went up in a puff of smoke as he realized he had no clue where things were headed now.
“Gonna have to walk carefully from here on. No benefit of hindsight to make the decisions and just following my blood won’t do it either. Gonna have to force myself to think things through.” He sighed in frustration and fear, “Shit! Ask me to kill somethin’, I’m good at that. Not so good with thinkin’ things through. Oh balls, I’m bloody buggered!”
“See, now you’ll have to include Spike in the wedding party. If he and Buffy are a couple, he’ll want to escort her down the aisle as a groomsman.” Anya prattled on about the parts of the revelation that mattered to her. “He’ll look nice in a tux and at least he’s not a hard-to-fit size like Riley would have been.”
“I don’t want Spike walking Buffy down anything, and certainly not our aisle. Blrrrrrgh!” Xander shuddered at the image of the Slayer and vampire taking part in any wedding ceremony, much less his own.
“Don’t be silly, this has been coming for ages.” Anya couldn’t believe how dense her beloved could be. “You could feel the sexual tension for miles around them. I’m just glad Buffy will be having regular orgasms now. Maybe she won’t be mad at us for bringing her back again and we can all move on from that unpleasant memory.”
Xander felt torn in half. He truly wanted Buffy to be happy. He had moved on with Anya from his early crush on the Slayer, had been delighted when it looked like she might have found Mr. Right in Riley Finn even. Still, it had been such a disaster with Angel. Vampires were bad news–evil and not able to be trusted. Even before Angel lost his soul, there had been something ‘off’ about him with Buffy, something more than just jealousy that made Xander hate the thought of them together. Spike was way worse. He was an evil, disgusting dead thing! Buffy had to be under a thrall or a spell of some kind. Maybe Giles was right and she came back wrong. He’d have to talk to Willow after the wedding, sort it all out, fix it.
“So did your mother finally accept that I come from a circus family?” Anya had been fairly impressed with Xander’s lie that served to explain the odd-looking group of friends that Anya had converging on the town for her wedding.
“Actually, yeah. Helps growing up in Sunnydale, that little known Egyptian city on the very banks of the Nile.” Xander smiled winningly at his bride-to-be. “Of course, if you hadn’t decided to invite every demon you ever knew to the wedding, we wouldn’t have had to explain a thing to anyone.”
“Xander, you can’t just wipe out over a thousand years of life and friendship just because it isn’t convenient at the moment! I have friends that would have been really hurt if I hadn’t invited them to share my special day. Would you have felt right if I asked you to tell Willow not to come because her moods have been making my skin twitch for months now? No, you would not. She’s your best friend and even if she has never been very nice to me, I welcome her because of you.” Anya nodded, quite pleased with her graciousness and benevolence. “I even agreed that she could be your Best Person, although I doubt that’s true in any way lately.”
“Point, except for that last bit. You have to admit it was kinda weird seeing my Cousin Carol making a pass at Krelvin at the rehearsal dinner. Although,” he continued after some consideration, “He would be a step up from the guys she usually goes for.”
“Krelvin is actually quite successful in his line of work. Carol could do lots worse, I agree.”
“Okay, this is just starting to creep me out a bit. Ex-demons and humans, I’m down with, marrying them even, but the whole Kumbaya feelings about demons of the not-so-ex variety and humans…I don’t know.”
“Some demon species have been marrying humans forever–very happily too, I might add. You need to broaden your view. So typical of someone who grew up in a small town and never ventured far!” Anya said disapprovingly. “In big cities you see lots of mixed marriages and no one thinks a thing of it! There are plenty of half-breeds here in Sunnydale too, but I doubt you know anything about the demon community right here in your home town.”
“Community? There’s a community now?”
“There always has been, you dope!” Anya was amazed at the blind spots the human population of Sunnydale had when it came to their own fellow citizens. “How to you think demons buy and sell? Why isn’t there more demon-on-demon violence? Of course there’s a community, businesses, even a certain amount of government. Most demons don’t want humans just killing them all off, for the love of Pete! Just look at Willy’s to see how they pick places where no one goes on a rampage but can drink in peace. For that matter, Willy’s is a good example of how they get along with some humans.”
“So our wedding going to be one of those ‘no violence’ zones?”
“Naturally!” Anya rolled her eyes at the silly question. “I want lots of dancing on my perfect day, not a bunch of brawls. I have to say some of the guests I invited were more than a little put off at my having the Slayer in my wedding party, but I explained that Buffy was not planning on any bloodletting on my big day. Her bringing Spike as her date will actually help calm some nerves.”
“I’m telling you there will be no dating of Spike by Buffy,” Xander began again.
“You aren’t her father. Neither is Giles, for that matter.” Anya tried yet another hair arrangement, trying to decide just what look flattered her gown the most and promptly forgot the entire discussion. “I’m thinking curls.”
Buffy was worried when she saw the crypt door still standing wide open, just as she had left it. She nearly expected to see Spike standing where she had left him too, even though it had been several hours since she headed for the blow-up on Revello. Spike was sitting and staring straight ahead of him at nothing–or nothing Buffy could see at least. His usually expressive face was blank.
“Hey,” she spoke softly, but it still caused a start in the vampire. “Didn’t mean to sneak up on you. Door’s open. Not such a good idea, do you think?”
“Didn’t notice,” Spike looked like he’d been wakened from a deep sleep. “So you’re back then.”
Buffy smiled broadly. “Can’t put anything past you tonight! I told you I’d be back after I had a little talk with Dawn. Riley beat me to it though, and well, you can imagine the little scene that caused. Took me a while to make sure everyone knew my love life isn’t a democratic process and then get back here to you.”
Spike had bitten his lip in trepidation at the words ‘love life’ and he raised his eyes to stare into hers. “So I didn’t just dream all that up then. You…,” he closed his eyes and savored the feeling of the words, “you’ve decided you…,” he couldn’t bring himself to finish the statement.
“Love you,” Buffy finished for him. “Yes, Spike, I, Buffy Anne Summers, love you, William the Bloody, also known as Spike, also known as the Slayer of Slayers. I really don’t know how to get more specific than that.” She laughed lightly, “Wow, I’m usually the one who’s no good with words while you hear things I don’t say, and now I have the right words and you’ve developed a hearing problem.”
“I hear, just having trouble wrapping my brain around it’s all,” Spike admitted. “Havin’ everythin’ I ever wanted just handed to me without a fight’s somethin’ I never…lots of things I never.” He looked at her as if she were every good and lovely thing that had ever existed. “’Cept for my mum, no one’s ever….” He closed his suspiciously wet eyes. “Takes some getting’ used to’s all. Half afraid you’ll change your mind, or those friends of yours will shake some sense into you, and I’m just not sure I can handle that.”
“No changing, no shaking.” She sat down next to Spike on the loveseat and looked him in the eye. “I told you it started before I died. I really don’t know what would have happened if I hadn’t jumped and was brought back like I was, but I do know this isn’t something that I’m just starting to feel. Just starting to admit, yeah, but feel? Nope. You kinda grow on a girl.” She tapped his arm playfully.
“After you pushed me away,” Buffy continued, “I started to see that you really care about me, not just getting in my pants like Xander is always saying. If you really care that much that you’d turn down what you want to be sure things are right for me…well, that’s love isn’t it? Putting someone else and their needs above your own? I guess I saw that in the way you were with Dru too. I had to do a lot of thinking and then it all fell into place finally. I was going to tell you on my birthday, give myself a present, but it all went crazy as usual.”
A moment of insecurity born of her romantic history reared its head. “You DO still want me, don’t you?” she fairly whispered. “I’m not too late?”
Spike ran trembling fingers through her soft hair as he drew her close to his breast and gently spoke, his tone honeyed and deep.
“At last, when all the summer shine
That warmed life’s early hours is past,
Your loving fingers seek for mine
And hold them close at last at last!
Not oft the robin comes to build
Its nest upon the leafless bough
By autumn robbed, by winter chilled,
But you, dear heart, you love me now.”
“You write poetry?” Buffy was awed.
“I write doggerel. That’s just a poem I once read by Elizabeth Akers Allen, an American poet. It’s called ‘At Last’.”
“More, please.” Buffy snuggled deeper into his embrace as he continued.
“Though there are shadows on my brow
And furrows on my cheek, in truth,
The marks where Time’s remorseless plough
Broke up the blooming sward of Youth,”
He dropped a kiss on her brow and jumped ahead,
“Despite my sad and faded face,
And darkened heart, you love me now!
I count no more my wasted tears;
They left no echo of their fall;
I mourn no more my lonesome years;
This blessed hour atones for all.
I fear not all that Time or Fate
May bring to burden heart or brow,
Strong in the love that came so late,
Our souls shall keep it always now!”
“So I’m not too late? You still love and want me?” Buffy hated the ‘little lost girl’ sound to her voice.
“Buffy, I’ll love you ‘til I’m dust and then beyond, and want you every moment ‘til then.” His voice shook with emotion.
His lips met hers in sacred union as he shared all that he felt for her in any and all lifetimes–past, present and future. Her response was all he could have dared hope. The tenderness of this communion quickly ignited the embers of raw passion they had both been suppressing for so long and hands joined lips in exploration and celebration.
This was far different from those shame-filled bursts of want that Buffy had allowed before. These kisses held all the promise of forever that Spike had yearned for and Buffy had felt beyond her grasp.
“Want you,” Buffy whispered huskily.
“Want you too, petal, want to make it good for you,” Spike breathed before allowing his tongue to once more plunder her mouth.
“I know you will. I’ll make it good for you too.”
The years of rejection and loss slipped from them both as they loved one another as only those who have found their true home can.
“She didn’t come home last night.” Willow sounded harsh and disapproving bordering on shrill.
“Buffy’s a big girl. I’m the little sister; it’s not up to me to set curfew.” Dawn dropped another Pop Tart in the toaster and looked to Giles for support.
“You know full well how I feel about this situation, but I must agree with Dawn. Buffy is an adult and has the right to make any mistake she chooses regarding her personal life.” He ignored the dirty look coming from the younger Summers girl.
“We need to get ready for the wedding. I have to prepare Xander for his march to doom and say all those Best Person things he’ll be expecting. I don’t have time to worry about Buffy and if she’ll pull away from the walking dead long enough to see a real friend on the most important day of his life.”
“Oh, come on!” Dawn was out of patience. “Buffy’ll be there for the wedding. So will Spike.
Just because she’s been over there every night since Riley left doesn’t change anything for anybody else. She still lives here and still patrols and everything else she’s supposed to do. She just spends quality time macking on her hottie after. I think you’re jealous.” She slammed the refrigerator as if in punctuation.
Willow’s eyes flared black, but she bit back her answer. ‘First get Xander married to that moron he’s insisting on loving, then sort this mess out.’ She turned a brittle smile on the girl. “Tara and I are doing fine, thank you for asking. In fact, she should be here any minute so we can head to the Bison Lodge to get this show on the road.”
“Yes, I suppose I need to get myself ready as well. I dare say I hope no one actually thinks me old enough to be Anyanka’s actual father,” Giles groused. “Clearly her demon friends know better, but the humans might give it a thought in passing.”
“Wear your earring and ruffle your hair and no one will believe it,” Dawn teased.
“And who better than Ripper to walk a former vengeance demon down an aisle? You may be correct.” He grinned rakishly at both girls. “I believe I may have some jewelry in my valise.”
Dawn snorted. “You were doing great ‘til you said valise too!”
“I shall endeavor to channel my inner Roger Daltry then,” he promised.
Willow had already left with Tara by the time Giles reappeared and, true to his promise, sported a small diamond stud in his left ear with his thinning hair lightly mussed. Somehow the look worked with the traditional tux to give him an edge and deduct a few years from his worry-prone face.
Dawn and Buffy were stifling their giggles as they pronounced him hot enough to have his dance card filled without any trouble.
“Am I to assume Spike will be joining us at this recipe for disaster that passes for a wedding on the Hellmouth?”
“Yes. I finally made him promise he’d dance most of his dances with me and none at all for that skanky friend of Anya’s that tried to ruin my birthday party. I think there’s a story there, but he’s not telling”
“Ooh, blackmail material maybe.” Dawn perked up. “I’ll have to corner Hallie and find out.”
“There will be no blackmailing of my boyfriend.”
“Buffy! I have to have some ammunition or he’ll never let me date in a few years!” Dawn had a pout nearly as potent as Buffy’s.
“He’s meeting us there, actually. Daylight services are not very vamp friendly. You’d think with all the demons Anya invited she would have thought about that!” Buffy huffed. “Still, it looks like rain, so the sun won’t be as big an issue as on some days.”
“Are you going to have a nighttime wedding when you finally do it?” Dawn was already making plans to cement this relationship between her sister and her favorite vamp.
“Good Lord!” Giles nearly took the door off its hinges as he raced from the house in horror.
“Too soon to even think about things like that, imp! Besides, you scared the substitute father figure. We have to gently move males in that direction,” Buffy quipped. “Especially British Watchery males.”
“I don’t know who’s worse, dear old Uncle Rory or Xan’s daddy not-so-dearest!” Buffy ducked into an alcove to avoid running into the latter. The last thing she wanted was Spike to act on his threat to rip the drunk’s liver out through his nose if he tried to touch Buffy again. ‘Can’t have my man all headachy later.’ Tara nodded sympathetically. She had been hiding from Randy Rory when Buffy had practically bowled her over in her haste to get away from Mr. Harris. “I never thought I’d see the day when demons behaved better than humans.”
“True,” Tara agreed. “All of Anya’s friends are being really nice and peaceful. That boy with the short horns has been a real gentleman with Dawnie–even before Spike growled at him.”
“Yeah, about that,” Buffy sighed, “Probably time for a mom lecture and some research tomorrow. I don’t even know what kind of demon that guy is, and if he thinks he can just waltz in on twinkling hoofs and start up with my little sister, he’d better think again! And I cannot believe what I just said.”
“You’re becoming very open-minded.” Tara nodded with a wry grin.
“Hope my brains don’t fall out,” Buffy shook her head in amazement at the change in her outlook regarding demons. “I’m dating my second demon, helping my best guy friend marry an ex-demon and even thinking about allowing my little sister to date yet another demon!”
“Hey, Buffy!” Clem’s loud and cheery voice broke into the conversation. “You look terrific! That electric green really brings out your eyes.”
“And brings up my lunch,” Buffy agreed with a smile. “Nice to see you Clem. I didn’t know you and Anya were close friends.”
“We spent some quality demon bonding time at your birthday party. Say, Slayer, you really know how to throw a shindig. I’ll be talking about that one for years.”
“You’re looking quite dapper yourself,” Tara complimented Clem and tucked her arm in his. “Mind keeping me safe from the big bad Rory monster?”
“Yeah, that guy has no manners! He’s been hitting on all the ladies here like this was a convention instead of a solemn ceremony. Disgusting,” he shook his head in disapproval his ears flapping wildly.
Spike sidled up to his beloved and whispered, “Who’s the old bloke talkin’ to Harris? Looks to be makin’ the boy as green as your dress.”
“I don’t know. I don’t think he’s one of Xan’s family and he looks human. Maybe we should go rescue the groom.”
A slight commotion at the door interrupted this plan as D’Hoffryn and his entourage arrived. Halfrek was dressed in the same blinding green dress that the other girls wore. She smiled a condescending smile at Buffy and winked at Spike.
“Okay, all bets are off with that one,” Buffy swore as Spike laughed at her show of jealousy.
“Pet, even if she wasn’t wearin’ that hideous gown, I’d not look her way.”
Buffy stuck out her bottom lip in a fake pout. “I’m wearing that same gown.”
“Ah, but on you it just looks radiant,” he vowed.
“Radioactive you mean.”
“Either,” he grinned, “I look at you and it’s not the gown I’m seein’.”
Buffy blushed and swatted him. “No naked images at a wedding, Spike!”
He chuckled, “Well, that too, but I just meant you’re beautiful enough to make anything look good. Can’t get past that lovely face, that unbelievable, delectable, angelic woman you are to notice bad fashion. Remember you wearin’ lots of dodgy costumes over the years and you made them all perfect just bein’ in ‘em.”
Buffy melted just a bit more.
D’Hoffryn was handing a large box to Dawn and explaining his greeting to the confused girl. “Hymen, God of matrimony. His salutations upon you. May the love we celebrate today avoid its almost inevitable decline.” Buffy noticed a long tentacle poking out of one of the many holes in the box and grimaced.
“So, Dawnie, how is everything? Going good? Nothing you…um…might wish were different?” Hallie put on her most ingratiating smile.
“For Yek’s sake, Hallie, take a day off! We’re not here to do vengeance; we’re here to mingle,” D’Hoffryn chided his minion.
Clem was keeping close watch on Tara as Uncle Rory descended on the pair with Cousin Carol in tow. “So, circus folk! What’s that like?” Carol had an avid look of genuine interest.
“Yeah, your…er…friend…the fellow with the warty face went off on his circus ‘heritage’ like you folks are all in some kind of cult,” Rory nearly snarled.
Clem quickly figured out the explanation Anya had given for her demon friends appearance. “Well, ours are ancient ways. Clowning as an occupation grew out of the Commedia Del’Arte and ancient sports, of course….”
Rory was growing impatient. “The thing I’m wondering is if you expect Xander to bring his kids up in some kind of foreign-speaking ‘bow to the east’ kinda cult.”
A passing demon interrupted in indignation, “So you think the children should be raised in ignorance of our ways and customs?”
Carol was appalled. “Oh no!!! The Harris family is very broad-minded. We’re Episcopalians!” She clutched Rory’s arm and maneuvered him away from the bristling demon with an apologetic smile at Clem.
“Broad-minded!” Clem muttered. “Drunks for the most part. Look at that, and on his son’s big day too.”
Tara nodded sadly as she watched yet another argument break out between Mr. Harris and his browbeaten wife. It brought a shiver of remembrance as she saw shades of her own family situation.
Clem picked up on her discomfort immediately. “Let’s get some sunshine while there still is some, okay? Nice girl like you doesn’t need to be around that sort of thing.”
Tara glanced at Xander, hoping he was also missing out on his parents’ display but he was engaged in a deep conversation with an elderly man and not noticing anything else at all. “Thank the goddess for small favors. Poor Xander doesn’t deserve it either.”
“Yeah, he’s a nice boy. Sometimes good eggs hatch even from bad birds,” Clem agreed.
Buffy had rushed into the breach to break up the Haggling Harris Show part six and prevent any further damage. One of Anya’s demon friends had finally had enough of the insults and a row to put Willy’s to shame was about to break loose.
“Hey, didn’t you have a small pink purse?” Mr. Harris asked as part of his brain snapped that he had seen this girl the night before at the rehearsal dinner. He had lost his lunch in said purse.
“Yeah, I did,” Buffy said sadly. She had really liked the purse too. It had been one of her new purchases that made her smile, remembering her financial woes were a thing of the past.
Harris leered at the girl guiding him away from his crying wife and several simmering demons. “Thought so! Hey, what do you say we slip into the back room. I’ll show you my….”
Spike strode up then and interrupted, “You finish that sentence, mate, and you won’t have anything to show ever again.” He turned to Buffy and added, “Thought you could use a bit of a hand with this berk. Don’t want to orphan Harris on his big day, yeah?”
The groom in question was still in deep conversation with the old man who now held a purple glowing orb in his hand. ‘Weird wedding gift,’ Buffy mused in passing, ‘but at least that one doesn’t have tentacles.’
Giles too had noticed the conversation and witnessed Xander slump as if in shock. He moved as quickly as possible through the crowd to get to the boy. ‘I certainly hope one of Anya’s demon friends hasn’t chosen this moment to object to her marrying a human. Something is off with this situation.’
Getting closer, Giles was able to hear the old man saying, “You’ll hurt her less today than you will later. Believe me. Sometimes all two people bring each other is pain.” Try as he might, Giles was unable to get to Xander’s side quickly enough to stop the boy from bolting from the room.
“Xander!” The Watcher moved with agility as he chased the fleeing lad. “Wait a moment!” Giles had a terrible feeling that Xander had just made the worst decision of his young life and someone had to take him in hand before it was one with no chance of being fixed.
“What do you mean Xander’s gone? He can’t be gone; this is our wedding!” Anya looked incredibly fragile and lost, utterly unlike her usual self.
“I’m sure it’ll all sort out. Watcher’s on it, isn’t he?” Spike reassured the girl. “No weeping now, demon girl, you’ll mess that pretty face for no reason.”
Buffy looked out the window at the now rainy gloom and spotted Xander pacing and getting soaked while Giles gestured wildly.
“What’s happening, can you tell?” Buffy whispered as Tara tried to reassure Anya that nothing momentous was taking place outside in the pouring rain.
“Sodding wanker’s pullin’ a runner, so it looks,” Spike spat contemptuously. “Thought I was evil!”
“Giles will stop him, right?” Buffy sounded like she was about to cry and Spike drew her into his arms.
“Sure. Like to see a bloke get away from the Council’s finest,” he quipped. “Rupert will sort things, no need to fear. This dog and pony show’ll just have a slight delay and bit of wet is all.”
Spike spoke a bit louder for Anya’s benefit. “Likely the groom got a bit of the jitters. Thought of marrying such a beauty’s enough to spook anybody.”
That seemed to do the trick with the ex-demon and she began to fuss at her gown again. “Well, he has been a bit nervous. He’ll be fine once we get on our honeymoon. I have some surprises for him! He’ll never look at duct tape the same way again.”
No one had any desire to ask for any further explanation and silence prevailed. “So,” Tara finally said after clearing her throat, “What are those vows you have planned?”
Anya went back to practicing her vows having been mollified by her friends. “And I had seen what love could do to people, and it was … hurt and sadness. Alone was better. And then, suddenly there was you, and … you knew me. You saw me! And it was this … you make me feel safe and warm.” She smiled in complete happiness, “So I get it now. I finally get love, Xander, I really do.”
“I’ve seen what love does to people,” Xander was saying to Giles. “It turns ugly and hurtful. You destroy the person you once vowed to cherish.”
Giles had no idea what the old geezer had said to the boy but having seen the Harris parents in action he knew what was on the lad’s mind now.
“You browbeat them until they have no self-esteem and then you actually beat them until they’re unconscious,” Xander was working up quite a rant.
“I love Anya too much to put her through that.” He looked at Giles as if noticing him for the first time. “Tell her that, will you? Make her understand?”
“I’ll do no such thing,” Giles thundered louder than the weather did. “You leave that girl now and you will be destroying something within her that can never be fixed. And you will be shaming her in front of every friend either of you has. No woman– actually no human being–recovers from something like that, you idiotic boy! Why do you think so many tragic songs and stories involve people being left at the altar? Because it’s highly traumatic and emotionally crippling. It’s the worst form of public rejection by the very person who had sworn love.”
He grabbed Xander’s shoulders and forced him to look at him. “You fear becoming your father? You are well on your way to that if you take the coward’s way this day. If you wish to be a man, you march yourself in there, dry off and marry the woman you claim to love. This is not fate, this is a choice. Are you to be your father and ruin the woman who loves you, or are you to be the Xander I’ve known for years who fights the battles each day and does so bravely? Don’t tell me you can face down any demon but the ones within yourself.”
Xander pondered what Giles had said and his mind flashed to a heartbroken Anya that he knew he’d be leaving behind. “What if I fail?”
“With that attitude, no one would ever accept any challenge,” Giles said in a softer tone. “You take it a day at a time and do your very best.”
“Think this suit will shrink while I’m saying my vows?” Xander shot an embarrassed grin at the Watcher.
One inner demon slayage, one actual demon slayage, and one dripping groom later, the pair were wed and the reception was in full swing.
Buffy and Spike were in a world of their own as they danced to ‘Because You Loved Me’ blaring from the speakers. Spike had been so happy to have his Buffy in his arms that he hadn’t even snarked at the DJ’s choices in ‘perfect’ wedding songs. Having his girl warm and happy and publicly loving him was enough to make even Celine Dion go down well.
Xander had finally dried off enough that he wasn’t soaking his beaming bride so he took a moment while she danced with Giles to check up on his Best Person. “Say, saw you and Tara dancing a while ago. Another celebration in the making?”
Willow smiled happily, “Could be. I think she’s finally coming around.”
Just then, Buffy and her vampire glided into view. Willow narrowed her eyes at the pair. “Something is going to have to be done about THAT though.”
Xander eyed his friend warily. “No poofy stuff at my reception, remember? My family may buy the circus explanation, but if a guest suddenly becomes a toad there will be questions.” He hoped to tease her out of her rapidly worsening mood. Ever since Giles and Spike had questioned her resurrection spell, Willow had been on one large mood roller coaster, one promising plenty of chills, spills and possibly screams. He had also noticed her eyes actually change color and that was something he didn’t want to worry about on his wedding day. “She’ll get sick of him soon enough.”
Willow was already thinking about possible solutions to her vampire problem. “You could be right.” No point in bothering Xander at his reception. Besides, what she was thinking of might require a quick side trip to Rack for a little something borrowed. That was, after all, a wedding day tradition.
Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/262205.html