Chapter 1, In which a wedding is held to the great joy of almost nobody
Every experience is of value, and whatever one may say against marriage, it is certainly an experience.
Xander tried to catch Willow as she went out the door. She’d called him a demon magnet, she expressed utter contempt for Buffy’s calling, and she was furious with absolutely everything. “Willow, don’t go! Come on, don’t leave mad.”
“I’m not mad!” Willow snapped at him. “I’m not mad.”
“Willow, I think you’re overreacting.”
“I don’t care what you think,” Willow snapped at him. “I don’t care about anything.”
Xander blinked as Willow’s eyes flashed. He was so taken aback, he just let her go.
And that was the last time any of them heard from her for six months.
“Buffy?” The voice on the other end was all but indecipherable, but Buffy just about recognized the tone. “Are you there?” There was a searing crackle of white noise smothering the young witch’s voice.
“Willow?” Buffy asked. “Willow, is that you?”
“I said, I cast a spell!”
Buffy held the phone close to her ear, and strained to hear the tiny voice through the static. “Willow? What did you say? I can barely hear you.”
“That’s ‘cause I’m on a spell phone!” Willow crackled.
“Where are you calling from?”
“Arashmaharr. It’s a- crackle, static,- story. I can’t - fizz, pop- you any faster, but I - crackle, fizz – are you guys okay?”
“Yeah, we’re fine. Xander’s got some rakish scars, but he’s okay.”
“That’s great! I’ll – wirr, crackle – about two days. Then – crackle, fizz, crackle – end the spell.”
“End the spell? Willow? Which spell?”
“The one – static – Oz. The Will be – crackle – should – fizz.”
“Willow! I can’t understand you. Willow!”
“Gotta – crackle – I’ll be there soon!” The words on the phone cut out, and Buffy slowly lowered the receiver back to the cradle, feeling dazed.
Spike was watching her with a frown on his face. “What was that, love?”
Buffy stared at the phone in horror. “It was Willow.”
“The little witch?”
“Yeah,” Buffy said. She looked up at Spike and swallowed. “She said she was going to end the spell.”
Husband and wife stared at each other for a long moment. Then Buffy crumpled. She sobbed and Spike caught her, pulling her close. “Okay,” he said. “It’s okay. Communication, yeah? Let’s talk it out.”
Things were easier now, of course. Some time into their marriage, and it had become quite clear that Xander’s “demon magnet” curse had a range, just as an ordinary magnet would. So long as they kept the demons out of a five mile radius, Xander was fine. But before they’d realized this, and cleared out the area completely, there had been constant demon attacks. With Xander on the third floor, and Buffy and Spike standing guard below, they’d managed to keep Buffy’s friend relatively safe, (except for those few demons that had wings, which Buffy had decided were the bane of her existence.)
Giles was gone at the moment. He’d finally gotten the go-ahead to receive training to earn a seeing eye dog, and he was off at their training retreat. He wouldn’t be available for the next three weeks.
Spike lay Buffy down on the bed and gently kissed her eyes, her cheeks, smoothing the tears and the sorrow both away with his soft, cool lips. “We can’t just shag this one away, Spike,” Buffy said, though she enjoyed the attention. “She’s going to end the spell.”
Spike looked down at her, and then rolled over, pulling her into the hollow of his arm. “Do you want her to?”
Buffy snuggled into his chest. “I don’t know,” she said quietly. “You?”
“You know how I feel,” he said. “You’ve known it since our first morning.”
Giles had walked Buffy down the torchlit isle with his red-tipped cane, and a bewildered expression on his face. Buffy’s mother hadn’t been thrilled, either. But Buffy and Spike had both been quite determined, and Giles had explained there was a spell in the mix. Buffy had said her vows. Spike had said his. Then a demon attacked Xander, and both of them said the hell with tradition, and the rest of the wedding took place amidst bloodshed and mayhem.
With Spike and Buffy standing side by side, tossing fighting moves – not to mention the demon, which was made up of seven different smaller demons, and had been hard to kill – back and forth like ping-pong balls, it had been difficult to hear the judge they’d hired. Spike’s gleeful laughter hadn’t helped much. He’d spent three mournful days after their engagement suffering as his fiancé’s friend was attacked again and again, feeling utterly helpless, and desperate to kill something. Then Buffy had gotten in serious danger in one fight, Spike had decided to attack the demon through the pain, and realized – “Hey! I can fight a demon!” He’d launched himself whole-heartedly into protecting Xander after that, slaughtering demons left and right at Buffy’s side.
Oh, the make-out sessions after the battles!
Buffy had finally gotten down to business when one of the demon’s component parts threatened her wedding cake. (Red velvet, so Spike’s blood-sauce wouldn’t look too disgusting on the side.) “That’s it!” she said. “An attack on my friend is one thing, but my wedding cake?” The demon hadn’t lasted another minute.
As the demon’s pieces slowly started to smoke and sizzle and dissolve, Spike and Buffy looked at each other over the tattered remains of their perfect day, and howled with laughter. Buffy’s wedding dress was torn, the full skirt tattered. Spike’s tuxedo jacket had demon ichor saturating one sleeve, and he’d lost the rose in his buttonhole. A moment later they were kissing and fondling as the terrified guests slowly started to reassemble. Buffy ripped the bottom two thirds off her white skirt. Spike had gone to get his leather coat from the van. And they finished the ceremony while the remaining guests (more than half of which had fled screaming, and wouldn’t be back until halfway through the reception) watched standing amidst the broken chairs.
The reception was charming. Buffy and Spike danced to Wind Beneath My Wings, followed by You’re Gonna Kill That Girl from the Ramones. They’d argued back and forth about whether either of those songs would even be allowed at the wedding. Buffy had protested the Ramones. “Have you heard the lyrics? It’s gruesome!”
“Hey, come on, this is our song, babe! I used to listen to it over and over while I watched videos of you fighting.”
“You had videos of me fighting?”
Spike grinned. “Half a dozen of ‘em. Sometimes I’d send out minions just to have you dust ‘em, while I had another filming you from the roof ‘cross the street. I’d spend hours watching those things. Rewinding again and again and again, every strike, every blow, every bounce of your shiny hair.” He’d reached up and caressed that shiny, perfect hair yet again. “I had to learn your moves somehow, pet.”
“Well... you did,” Buffy admitted. She’d slid herself against him, and Spike had nibbled on her neck, and she’d gasped.
“Don’t think much of Wind Beneath my Wings, though,” Spike had said.
“I love that song.”
“I just... I do, okay.”
“But Bette Midler? Really? I mean, really?”
Buffy had blushed. “Well... yeah. It... it’s a nice song. We used to sing it in chorus in middle school. I... I like it.”
“But come on, pet! It’s sappy. It’s bollocks, too. I mean, since when do I hide in the shadows holding up anyone?”
Buffy had gone white and looked away. “I know that,” she’d said quietly.
The truth dawned on Spike three seconds too late. “Oh,” he said. “Oh, I’m sorry, kitten. Yeah. Yeah, okay.”
He smiled. “We’ll play the song, pet. First dance, no trouble. Just let me have my Ramones?”
Buffy acquiesced sounding coquettish. “Okaay.”
It was Anya who had dared to say anything as Spike and Buffy had finished their first dance. “That was the song you chose?” she asked. “I thought weddings were supposed to be charming.” She looked up at Xander. “Are they trying to expose themselves to ridicule?”
“Well.” Xander looked awkward. “I don’t know if you’d call it ridicule,” he said. “I mean... the song is meant as... well... some kind of message and... while Spike isn’t really as... um... supportive as that song would suggest, he’s... well....” He stopped, unable to maintain the facade any longer. “He’s your hero, Buffy? Really?”
Buffy had blushed, embarrassed, and Spike had glared at Xander. “You don’t get it. Song’s not about me.”
Xander frowned. “But it...?”
“She’s the hero, wanker. She’s the wind, unseen, in the shadow, not asking for glory. Holding all you tossers up.” He scoffed. “She just wishes someone would realize it.” Spike had marched Buffy back to the dance floor as the Ramones started.
Buffy had looked up at him. “You realized,” she realized.
Spike just nuzzled at her jaw. “Someone had to.”
They’d already cut the cake when Angel came to ruin the party.
He’d crashed through the pile of broken chairs like... well, like an avenging angel, and attacked Spike with a stake without so much as a word of salutation. Spike was so startled to see his old sire he actually staggered to the ground without getting in a single blow.
Buffy took care of that, though. She surged forward and grabbed Angel by the back of his jacket. “No!” Buffy cried. “Get back! Get off him!”
“Let me do this, Buffy!”
“What the hell do you think you’re doing?”
“I’m saving you!” Angel snarled.
“Saving me from what?” Buffy snapped. She managed to haul Angel to his feet, and stood between him and Spike. Spike surged off the ground, and the two vampires looked daggers over Buffy’s blond head – no longer quite so elegantly coifed.
“Saving you from a fate worse than death, married to that monster!”
“Oh, like you saved me from a similar fate married to you?” Buffy retorted.
Angel looked wounded. “Well....”
“I got news for you, Angel. This time, you don’t get to pick!”
Xander looked confused. “Who called Angel?”
“I did,” Buffy said. “You’re late! You missed the wedding, Angel.”
Xander still wasn’t buying it. “What?”
“I invited him to my wedding,” Buffy said. “Spike was getting all insecure, and I asked him if he’d rather Angel got to see how happy we were, and he said he’d love to see Angel’s face while we got married, so I called and invited him. I expected you to get here on time, though.”
“I was being sarcastic, love,” Spike said.
Buffy looked disappointed. “Oh. Well. Anyway.” She took hold of Spike’s arm. “Now you can see how happy we are!”
“That he can, poodle.”
The happy couple beamed beatifically.
“I’d have been here sooner if you’d told me yesterday,” Angel said. “I had to wait until sunset to get here. But this can’t be real. He’s got you under some sort of a spell. It’s got to be, this is suicide!”
“Why does everyone keep saying that?” Buffy asked.
“They can’t accept the purity of our love, pet,” Spike said quietly.
“It’s not a spell,” Buffy said. “And Spike can’t hurt me.”
“‘Fraid the slayer’s right, peaches,” Spike said, brushing the dust off his battered tuxedo trousers. “You got your little soul keeping you off the slayer’s throat. Well, I have this neat little commando microchip implanted in my head. ‘Least ways that’s what we figure it is. Means I can’t fight anything other than demons. Which means I can’t fight you, since you’re not – oh, wait a minute. Yes you are!” Spike launched himself at Angel.
Buffy got between them again. “Jeeze, Spike, you too!” She stood, keeping the two vampires apart, and turned back to Angel. “Angel. It’s over. You’re the one who made it over. Just go, drink some punch, have a slice of cake, dance with the maid of honor, and find something else to do with your life.”
Anya didn’t look opposed to the idea.
“Yeah. Go brushing your ashes somewhere else, mate,” Spike said. He put his arm around Buffy. “Your bird’s with me now.”
“I’m not a bird,” Buffy said.
Spike smiled down at her annoyance. “My little baby bird,” he said with a grin.
“What, and you’re a hunting cat?” she said, looking up at him.
“No,” he said seductively. “Bad dog, remember?” He kissed her warmly, and she returned the kiss with enthusiasm, and Angel made a sound halfway between a broken car alarm and a hurricane force wind. It was enough to make both of them break their kiss and look over at him.
“Angel, are you okay?” Buffy asked. “Giles, maybe we should get him to lie down somewhere.”
Giles had just come up, slowly, working around the tables with his cane.
“No!” Angel pulled away when Giles tried to take his arm. “My god, Buffy, can’t you see what you’re doing? You’re throwing your whole life away on this idiot!”
“He’s not an idiot,” Buffy said staunchly. “He’s a sweetheart. And you’re just jealous.”
“This isn’t what I wanted for you!”
“Well, what you wanted seemed to be for me to live alone and pining for you for eternity!” Buffy snapped. “You don’t want me, but you think no one else ever would?”
“Buffy, I do want you. I... I love you.”
Buffy only frowned at him.
Angel strode forward and took her arm. “I do love you. I’m sorry. I should never have... I didn’t mean for this to happen! I didn’t know this was going to...! God, Buffy. Not a vampire, not Spike! If this is what you wanted, if this is what you really need, I’ll... I’ll... I should have.... God! There’s got to be some way...!”
“Now you want me.” Buffy snatched her hand away. “You dump me. Then you come to my prom. Then you run off. Then you stalk me. Then you tell me to stay away from you, and now that I’m finally moving on, you come right back again! Gee, way to mix signal a girl!”
“It’s over, Angel. And you just can’t accept it.”
“I’m trying to help you!”
Buffy rolled her eyes. “Angel, if you really want to help, you can keep Xander safe for the night while I’m gone.”
“Gone? Where are you going?” Angel asked.
Buffy smiled broadly, squeezing Spike’s hand. “I’m going on my honeymoon!” she squealed.
“Beach side,” Spike added.
“That’s it!” Angel growled, and he launched himself at Spike again.
Buffy punched Angel, and he staggered backward. “Keep. Your mitts. Off. My. Husband!”
“Angel,” Giles said. “Can I talk with you in private?” Giles took Angel’s arm and pulled him across the tent. “You’re not going to be able to persuade either of them. We’ve tried. They do get very violent when people try to keep them apart physically.”
“This has got to be a spell!”
“No, you’re right, it is a spell, but it wasn’t Spike’s doing. Now, we’ve tried breaking it, but it’s a fearsomely strong thing–”
“I don’t accept that!” Angel said, a wail hiding in his voice.
Buffy turned to Spike, feeling sorry for herself. “Why does everyone want to ruin my happy day?” she asked him.
“I dunno, poodle.”
“I mean, why do they all think it’s a spell? Can’t they see what a sweetie you are?”
“I’m not a sweetie, slayer, I’m a killer.”
“Yeah, but you’re my killer,” Buffy said with a little pout.
“That I am, love. Give me that lip.” He kissed her warmly. “Mm... sweet as sugar candy...” and he bit her lip gently.
“You know what?” Xander said. “I think I’m gonna go hang out with Angel.”
“I think I’ll join you,” Anya said.
Their disgust was obvious.
Buffy glared after them, disgruntled. “I don’t get it. He’s killed just as many people as you have in the last few years.”
“More, probably,” Spike said. “He was always one for the great swathes of death. I’m more of a one-on-one kind of guy, ‘less it’s a brawl.”
“Yeah, but they never liked him before,” Buffy said, bewildered. “Why are they suddenly all Angel’s the guy for you now?”
“We’re just not sure that this is the best choice for you, honey,” Joyce said, coming up beside her. “I don’t actually think Angel is the best guy for you out there, but... nothing personal, Spike. I’ve always found you... ahm. Pleasant enough. For the most part. But... a vampire, Buffy!”
“But Mom...! I’m happy.” She laid her head on Spike’s chest. “I don’t think I’ve ever been happy before.”
“Come on, Joyce. Why you want to ruin it?”
Joyce sighed at Spike. “I want Buffy to be safe, with a real boyfriend. Someone who’ll put her best interests first. She’s very young.”
“You’ve been through all this before,” Spike said. Spike and Joyce had had a private conversation just after Buffy had announced their whirlwind engagement. They’d been together for barely a week, but they were both convinced, they had to get married, and it had to be as soon as possible. They’d nearly up and eloped a few times. “I get she’s young,” Spike continued. “College, yeah, she can finish. Slaying? Well, hell, I can’t kill anything but demons, might as well help. Kids? We can adopt or sommat, it won’t matter. We could get a sperm donor. Hell, I could even accept wanker boy over there as surrogate, if she don’t mind her brats looking like mangy pug dogs. Not as if he’s not soiling enough socks already.”
“Don’t be crass, honey.”
“What I’m saying is,” Spike said to Joyce in all seriousness, “I love your daughter. Whatever she needs, whatever she wants, whatever is best for her, I will go to the moon and across the fires of hell to be sure she gets it. For all eternity. Until I am dust.” He kissed the slayer’s forehead and then gazed down into her eyes. “She’s everything I ever dreamed of.”
“Oh, Spike,” Buffy whispered.
“Slayer,” Spike moaned.
They kissed again. Their lips were starting to get numb with it. Angel made another sound of torment across the tent. The happy couple were oblivious.
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