Lovers and Lies by Lilachigh
Big and Shiny
“But Dawn, I don’t understand why you’re so upset? Someone was calling your name? A friend? Neighbour? Why didn’t you just call back?”
“There was no one there, Xander. That’s what you won’t understand. There was just a voice and no body! It was all sort of demony and weird - and why are you here? Where’s.....” The sharp pain flickered through her brain again and she lost the thought. She’d fled through Sunnydale to Giles’ apartment, knowing he would help. Finding Xander there had been...unexpected....
Xander laughed and poured her out a glass of milk. “Where else would I be? You know Giles and me are, well, married. You understand all that, don’t you, Dawn? Like Willow and Tara, but sort of different.”
“Married?” Dawn’s voice went off the higher end of the high scale. Giles, coming into the room, winced.
“Yes, rings and a big cake, remember. Buffy said you were perfectly OK with...everything.”
“Oh! Did she? Yes, big cake. Lots of icing.” Dawn gulped down her milk and wondered if she was still in bed, dreaming. Xander and Giles married? How could she have forgotten something like that? It made perfect sense, of course, except that she’d always thought Xander would stay with....Ouch! Pain struck again. Perhaps she’d had some sort of memory loss during the night. She only wished Spike and Buffy were here. They would know what to do. Although, hey, what was there to do. It was all good. Tara and Willow, Giles and Xander, Buffy and Spike.
She smiled at them - there was no way she was going to tell them about her loss of memory: their faces would go all worried and wrinkley and she would hear the “poor little Dawn” tone in their voices. She’d been hearing that for as long as she could remember and hated it. Spike was the only person who never seemed to pity or feel sorry for her. Even her sister, when she wasn’t sounding irritated, could sound concerned.
Just then the door to the apartment flew open and Spike - covered by a blanket - rushed in, smouldering slightly. Buffy was close on his heels, stamping out the flying pieces of burning wool as she came.
“Hi Dawn, we wondered if you’d be here when you weren’t at home.”
The teenager bit her lip. “I know I was supposed to stay indoors, but Buffy, there was a voice and - WOW - ring! Big shiny ring!”
It would have been hard to have missed it as Buffy was spinning around, her ring finger stuck out in front of her, waving her hand so the light from the windows caught on the deep crimson ruby that almost covered her finger between knuckle and palm. It gleamed, a pulsating red, like a great drop of blood.
“Isn’t it beautiful? Look Giles, Xander. Look what Spike’s given me. We’re engaged. Really and truly engaged. And I have a ring to prove it.”
The carton of milk that Xander was still holding, slipped through his hands and crashed to the floor. “Buffy!”
“Xander - jeez, what a mess. Don’t move - you’ll walk it everywhere. Dawn - get a cloth, help clean it up.”
Giles and sunk down into a chair. “Buffy - this is so...so well, I want to say unexpected but all I can come up with is - terrifying. I realised you and Spike were - close - but engaged!”
“I know, Rupert.” Spike hoisted himself up onto the work top and grinned down at the Watcher. “Surprised myself, if you must know. In a nice way, of course, pet - “ he said hastily as Buffy swung round protesting.
“I know you think it’s odd; but suddenly it was so obvious what we had to do. Bit like you and Xander getting together, I suppose. Unexpected but right.”
Giles frowned. “I’m not sure I would ever call the official union of a Slayer and a vampire right. I do wish you’d consulted me about this, Buffy. It’s so irresponsible.” He stared at the girl who meant so much to him and the slim, leather coated figure she was eating up with her gaze. Yes, he supposed Spike was attractive, in a mean, punk sort of way. Not attractive like his Xander, of course, but memories of guys he’d known at University, all those years ago, floated into his head and rang all sorts of thrilling bells.
Buffy smiled and studied her ring. She held out her hand to Spike who effortlessly lifted her to sit next to him, wrapping his arm round her shoulders. “Giles, you’re sounding old and grumpy,” she said cheerfully. “I’m engaged to Spike and I have a lovely ring. A ruby because Spike likes red and diamonds are too cold and we couldn’t have an emerald because, hey, Angel is Irish and....”
“Well I think it’s all great,” Dawn said, finishing with her floor cleaning. She glanced at Xander who was still standing on the same spot, a bewildered expression on his face. Then, as if something in his head clicked back into place, he grinned at Buffy. “Yes, of course, congratulations, Slayer! Hope you’ll both be as happy as Giles and me.”
“Yes, well, it’s a lovely ring.” Giles peered closely at it and raised an eyebrow in Spike’s direction, his face creased with worry. “You didn’t buy that at the mall. That’s a demon ring!”
Spike shrugged. “Only the best for the Slayer. She increases it’s power by wearing it.”
“But what does it do?”
“No bloody idea, Rupert. But I expect we’ll find out. I’ll have to ask - ” He winced violently and clutched at his head. “Bollocks! What was that for? I wasn’t threatening anyone.”
Xander frowned. “You usually grab hold of the other side of your skull when the chip fires. Do you think it’s moved?”
Spike scrubbed at his head with his fist. “Yes, that was weird. It hurt like the devil, but not in the same place as usual.”
Buffy ran her hand across the back of his neck. “Perhaps you’re tired!”
“Well, you do keep a chap pretty busy all night long, pet.”
“Right, Dawnie, how about some snacks,” Xander said loudly, interrupting a conversation that was getting out of hand as far as he was concerned.
Buffy broke away from kissing Spike. “I want to tell Willow and Tara. I hope they’ll be pleased. Tara knew about us before anyone. I’m sure she’ll be OK. Will, not so much, I guess but jeez, we’ve all got unusual relationships. Why should mine be any different? Any idea where they are, Xander?”
“No, we haven’t heard a word from either of them since last night. Will was all miserable and uptighty about you and Spike, remember? Then - ” he winced as a lance of pain shot through his head. “Then Giles drove us home,” he finished vaguely, because if he was being strictly honest, he couldn’t remember much about the evening until the two of them were in bed together. Well, on top of the bed because they couldn’t wait to get under the covers!
“O.K. I expect they’ll be at home when we get back. I have to patrol. Can Dawn hang with you guys?”
“Sure, no problem. Wonder where Will and Tara have gone. Unlike Tara not to be home for Dawnie.”
Buffy slid off the work top and tied her hair back with a scrap of ribbon, preparing herself for patrol. “Oh I expect they wanted a little time to themselves. I mean, I know Spike and I do. It must be hard for them, living with us.”
“They could always rent their own place,” Giles said dryly. He knew it was useful for Buffy to have Tara there to take care of Dawn when she couldn’t be around, but he was also very aware that neither girl paid their friend any rent for their bed and board.
Buffy refused to take the bait. She didn’t want to row with her Watcher on this her happy day. “Whatever they’re doing, I’m sure they’ll be happy doing it together.”
“Tara! What the heck are you doing, Sweetie. I’ve been looking for you everywhere.” Willow gazed round Willie’s Bar in horror. Various demons and even a couple of vamps were drinking and gambling, the air was thick with cigarette smoke and the smell of various drugs that could change your life for ever and not in a good way. She’d searched everywhere she could think of, looking for Tara. She’d only found her by using a location spell and she’d even refused to believe that at first because it showed her lover in a demon bar.
Tara was leaning against the bar, with what looked like a glass of whisky in her hand. And if it wasn’t whisky, then it certainly wasn’t a soda! She was wearing the tightest of tight T shirts red leather trousers. And Willow realised, with a gulp of heat, that her lover was wearing nothing underneath either garment.
“Hey Willow. Wondered how long it would take you to track me down. Have a drink - relax a little.”
“Tara - you don’t drink!” Willow was horrified to realise she sounded just like her mother!
“Oh don’t I.” Tara smirked and downed the rest of her drink. “No idea why you should think that.” She flicked her fingers and the bottle on the bar tilted by itself and poured another tot into the glass.
Willow squinted and made the liquid leap out of the glass and head back towards the bottle and for a long moment the two witches fought over the whisky. Eventually Willow gave in because it was hurting her head - not the magic part, but seeing how much Tara was enjoying herself. It was if this was the battle between them in miniature. Tara needed to win, to control everything around her.
“Willow - ” the low whisper came from behind her just as Tara began flirting with a tall, handsome demon, all three of his eyes being a vivid emerald green.
“Willie. What do you want?”
The bar owner looked nervous. “You must take her away. She keeps giving demons free drinks. She’s ruining my business! What’s wrong with her? I always thought your Tara was a real lady.”
“She was...she is. I’m sorry, Willie. I don’t think she’s feeling very well.”
Tara spun away from Three Eyes and glared at her lover. “I heard that! I’m feeling perfectly fine. Better than I’ve felt for ages. I feel myself for the first time since....since....”
“Sweetie, you’re not yourself! Look at you - what you’re wearing. And drinking and....flirting with a guy! Are you into guys now? Is this what all this is about?” Willow felt a flare of jealousy almost overwhelm her. Was that at the heart of Tara’s behaviour? A wish to escape from their relationship? No, that couldn’t be right - this was all the result of the spell she’d cast so carelessly last night. Wanting Tara to stop being so good and understanding.
“I think he’s kinda cute,” Tara said, pushing her long amber hair back behind her ear. “Bet he’d be a lot of fun. And I want fun.”
“We have fun, sweetie.”
For a second, the old Tara gazed at Willow, a look full of pain and worry. “No, we don’t. Oh you might. But I don’t. We do what you want to do, when you want to do it. And if you want something to happen, you magic it. You want everyone to do what you want. You think you know better than everyone. Last night I realised I’ve been so weak, giving in to you all the time; I’m just as strong as you. Look!” The old Tara vanished again and with bright, shining eyes, she clicked her fingers and Willow found herself standing outside the Magic Box.
Xander and Giles exchanged looks over Dawn’s head. She was telling then the whole back story of some soap opera on TV that they had never seen. Xander was beginning to wonder just how long Buffy was going to leave her sister with them. It was nearly midnight. Surely Dawn should have been in bed a long time ago. And he knew he and Giles should have been! He was longing to try a certain position he’d heard about. It sounded wonderfully exciting but he had the sneaking feeling that it was only possible when both partners were fairly athletic and, although Giles was good-looking and fit for a guy his age, you would never have called him agile.
“Dawn, shall we walk you home,” Giles said suddenly. “I’m sure Willow and Tara will be back by now. Buffy and Spike have obviously been delayed. Probably clearing out some demon nest or a vamp or two.”
Giles took off his spectacles and rubbed at them with his tie. He had a nasty feeling that he knew exactly why Buffy and Spike weren’t back from patrolling. Spike’s crypt was there, in the cemetery, dark and isolated and the perfect place for a newly engaged couple to celebrate their.....
He shut off his thoughts as hard as he could and grabbed a cushion to place across his legs because those very thoughts were making him....
“Giles! Xander! I have to talk to you.”
Willow flung open the apartment door and stood there, fists clenched, eyes blazing, a look of horror on her face and Giles realised, sadly, that he didn’t need the cushion any more.