Sunday, May 5th, 2002
Sunday Late Evening
Spike and Buffy made their way over to the prime table where the rest of the Scoobies were waiting. It had been occupied by a group of teenage boys until recently, but for some reason when they saw Dawn heading in their direction they had all decided to move. It would be cynical to say this was because they were watching when Dawn prevented Andrew's escape by rearranging his genitalia with her foot, repeatedly. Cynical but not entirely inaccurate.
Spike deposited the two pitchers he was carrying in one hand onto the table and then passed the large glass adorned with umbrellas, straws and twizzle sticks whose contents looked suspiciously like orange juice from his right hand to Dawn. Then he fell into the last armchair at the table and shrugged off his coat. Buffy put down the armful of margarita glasses that she had been carrying and turned to pout at the vampire. He responded by pulling her into his lap, easing her arms out of her coat and planting several playful kisses on her mouth.
Tara took on the job of pouring out the drinks. Willow flinched when she asked who wanted strawberry, but Rack was soon forgotten when Tara smiled at her as she passed her the first glass from the pitcher of lime margarita. Meanwhile, Xander stared aghast at the couple opposite for several seconds. Throwing himself upward out of his chair, he pointed at the pair shouting. "Déja vu! It's a spell. It's exactly the same as when Willow did her will spell except Giles isn't blind, we're in the Bronze instead of Giles' flat and I've only got one possible demon, we're not sure. But other than that it's exactly the same. I knew it wasn't natural." He looked over in Willow's direction, opened his mouth, had second thoughts and then looked at Tara instead. "Did you do that will spell?"
Tara looked over to where Spike was obviously listening to all this but not letting it distract him from Buffy, who gave no hint that she was aware of being discussed. "Actually, Spike did do the will be done spell." Xander launched himself toward the couple, but was tripped by his bride en route. ". But he reversed it last night." Xander looked backwards and forwards between Tara and Anya. Spike paused just long enough to smirk at the carpenter sitting on the floor before going back to nibbling at Buffy's lower lip. "Then how." Xander's query came out almost as a whine.
Tara smiled. "He wished that Buffy would understand how he feels about her. Looks like she approves." She passed a glass of strawberry margarita to him across the table, pouring another for Buffy and lastly a lime one for Spike.
"See, cookie-face," Anya bent forward to speak to him. "I told you not to interfere. Now, sit back in your chair. You can't stay on the floor all night,"
Spike looked around the table. Seeing that everyone now had a drink he picked his up off the table. "Once Harris is back in a chair, I'd like to propose a toast." Xander rather self-consciously returned to his seat. "To happy couples and second chances."
"Happy couples and second chances" chorused the rest of the group as the glasses all clinked together. Buffy and Spike watched each other as they took their first sip. Willow and Tara looked into each other's eyes. Anya watched Xander watch Buffy and Spike and then she kicked him in the shin. "Not your business!" she somehow managed to hiss at him without removing the smile from her face. Dawn looked round the table at all her friends back together, only Giles missing. She smirked when she saw Xander turn his attention back to Anya. "Round one to the vengeance demon," she thought.
"Hey, tequila tastes far better mixed in with this strawberry stuff. How come you didn't tell me 'bout this stuff that night you were playing poker?" Buffy teased Spike.
"I don't think Dave could really run to mixing up margaritas, love." Spike placed a kiss on the end of Buffy's nose. "Besides, I wouldn't have got to see your liquor face, and that." Another kiss on her forehead. ".Is just so cute."
He finally claimed her mouth in a deep kiss that lasted until Dawn let out a screech. "You guys get a room."
Spike looked up, eyeing Dawn over the top of her sister's head. "Okay, Bit. We'll give it a break." He gave her a rueful lop-sided smile. Buffy moved so that instead of sitting across his lap, she now sat facing in the same direction as he was, her arm around his shoulders.
"So, Anya, what did Xander do to get you to the altar then?" Buffy tried to start a conversation within the group.
"He asked. And this time I stayed right there with him. from the point when he asked, right up to the point where he said I do, except when I got the dress." Anya replied.
Spike literally bit his tongue to stop himself from making a comment about not giving Xander the chance to run this time. He knew the malice behind Xander's continual bickering could prove a major stumbling block to his relationship with Buffy. He was often seen as being to blame for the confrontations between the pair but nine times out of ten it was the younger men who instigated them. There was no way he was going to cast a pall over the evening by starting anything tonight.
Now that Buffy had set the ball rolling it seemed like all the others wanted to know something about the chapel, the service, the dress, the rings or something. However, the details of someone else's wedding weren't of any real interest to Spike, even if it was slightly amusing that Anya point-blank refused to include the word obey in her vows.
He devoted just enough of his attention to the conversation to ensure he knew what was being said, concentrating instead on how Buffy's fingertips were tracing the outline of his deltoid muscle through the fine silk of his shirt. His own hand rested on Buffy's back, which was left open to his touch by the halter-top she wore, his digits tracing random soothing patterns on her skin. He knew "coming out" was stressful for her. Thankfully, Demon-Girl seemed to be keeping Harris from making too big a fool of himself about the whole thing, so far, but the night was still young.
The band reached the end of their first set and Spike smiled when he recognised the ballad the DJ put on. He removed Buffy's empty glass from her hand, placing it on the table. "I think they're playing our song, love."
"We have a song?" Buffy was first incredulous, then, when she recognised the voice of Michelle Branch, she too smiled. "We have a song," she said softly as she stood and took Spike's hand to lead him to the dance-floor.
"'Leap of faith', huh?" she asked softly. She looked up into his face and melted when she saw the half-smile there, and the love and happiness that gave light to his lapis-blue eyes.
"Well, I'm hoping that 'Goodbye to you' in't ever going to be appropriate, but I'd have settled for any of her other ones. They all remind me of that night she played here." He glanced over in the direction of the area under the stairs where they had kissed.
"Who'd have guessed that the Big Bad was such a romantic?"
"Anybody that's ever really known me, pet."
"There haven't been too many of those though, have there?"
"Dru, maybe Angelus, though it's not that I wanted him or Darla to see that side of me. Dawn, and maybe you, if you give it a while. possibly Joyce."
"Sp-. Will. There's something I have to tell you. I should have said it a long time ago. should have told you that day with Glory, on the stairs.
Will, I. I'm not in love with you. but I do love you." She watched him through her lashes, seeing his eyes well even brighter with unshed tears. Her hands moved from where they had rested on his shoulders to gently frame his face, her thumbs stroking the razor line of his cheekbones as she drew him in for a kiss. Spike's hands drifted down, cupping her rear and pulling her body tight against his so that she could feel the effect she had upon him.
She eased back an inch or two, returning her hands to his shoulders and spoke softly. "Hands back on waist until we're out of sight of teenage eyes. and Xander's. You probably just gave him a heart-attack."
Spike glanced over her shoulder at the Scoobies' table, before returning his hands to their earlier position. "Nah, we're safe. He's busy watchin' 'is missus like he should be. 'Bit's keepin' an eye on us though. You were right about that."
"You know what that means, then. No hands or anything else anywhere that would make you want to hit Dawn's partner if she followed our example."
Spike snorted. "If you're goin' to use that as the standard then we shouldn't actually be touchin' at all, love, but point taken." He softened his voice before continuing.
"Your mates don't seem too distraught about us bein' together considerin' how worried you were about them finding out."
"Well, Tara already knew and Dawn figured it out from something I said when I was hallucinating. Willow worked out bits. Tara told her others and the pair of us talked about it tonight while we were getting ready. Anya isn't really in any position to comment. Neither's Xander but I'm surprised he hasn't made a bigger fuss."
"Well, I think he might have made more of an impression if Anya hadn't tripped him up before, and speaking of Anya, you do realise she isn't wearing a pendant?"
"No, I hadn't. You mean she's still human?" Buffy asked.
"Don't know, but after what happened the last time I would have thought she would keep it pretty close. If she really did go back to it. I didn't want to ask in front of everybody. Specially not in the middle of all the wedding talk."
"Mmm, and you didn't even bring up Xander running away once. Most restrained."
"Might've done, if Anya hadn't been sitting there, but that sort of thing would hurt her more than him. She's the one that got left. Besides, the two of you didn't come out to watch me and him fight. Not that it'll stop me if he starts something."
Buffy smiled at him. "Thank you, anyway." Her head dropped to rest on his shoulder, the silk of his violet-blue button-down shirt gently caressing her cheek.
"Just exactly how long has the little blonde witch known about us?"
"Just before Katrina. I told her about the chip, and asked her to check out the resurrection spell. Then after, when she said there was nothing wrong. When she said there wasn't any excuse for what I did. in the alley. for what we did. everything. she thought I meant you hit me. then."
"Oh hell, love, I'm sorry. I should never have said those things that I did. I was just angry that you seemed to be tryin' to shut me out. There's nothing wrong with you. You are, were and will always be perfect. But that means when Pixie caught us at your party."
"She already knew. yeah." Buffy smiled.
"Bloody wench had me squirmin' all night, sayin' how cute Mr Oblivious was 'n' how I should put ice on it and stuff. Wicked bint. I'll have words with her later." Spike grinned and shook his head.
The song came to an end and after he let Buffy lead him back to their seat, Spike grabbed his coat and made the excuse of going outside for a cigarette. Really, he just wanted to wait until it was more comfortable to sit down. Maybe it wasn't such a bad idea to have a no touching rule whenever 'Bit was about.
Xander watched Spike's retreating back until he was swallowed up by the crowd around the bar. "So since when does Evil Dead care about where he smokes?"
Suddenly he was assailed from all sides. Anya administered another quick kick to his shin which actually didn't hurt him at all thanks to the fact he had the orbs of Nezzla Kahn secreted about his person. All the other women chose to take simultaneous verbal exception.
"Grow up, Xander." Dawn's voice was filled with the scorn that only teenagers can manage.
"Xander." Willow, Tara and Buffy infused his name with varying degrees of anger, disappointment and warning.
Buffy decided it was time she drew a line in the sand. Then it was up to Xander to decide where he stood, and even though this was a personal matter when she spoke her voice carried the authority of the slayer. She didn't raise her voice. Instead she exuded a quiet determination.
"Xander, it's time you got off Spike's case. He's been changing for a long time now. He's still a long way from perfect but he is a good man."
"He's not-." Xander tried to refute Buffy's claim, but was deterred by the glare Buffy sent his way.
"I hadn't finished. I would say that over the last year you've probably spent multiple hours in our presence having your say about Spike, so how about you just listen and keep your mouth shut for five or ten minutes while I have mine?
Spike is a good man. He's prepared to get himself dusted for your sorry ass and he doesn't even like you, not that I blame him. Whenever he's around you seem to think it's okay to act like a jerk.
How often does the guy have to prove himself before you show some simple common decency? Y'know maybe if you learned how to act like a mature reasonable human being instead of a spoilt little kid there might be reasons other than consideration for my feelings as to why he'd want to keep you around. You're always saying you need more male friends, well, newsflash, try being civil to the one other male that's around.
Spike is not going to be going anywhere. I am not okay with the way you treat him. You may have a soul but that does not automatically make you superior. In fact, with the exception of Tara here, the most genuinely nice person I can think of is Clem. If Spike's come so far that he wants to be good even though he doesn't have the guilt about being bad that we would, I think that says more for him than having a soul would. Almost everything that he has done for the last year or more he has done because he loves me and Dawn. Well Xander, love conquers all.
He just had the chance to be Supervamp. He could have kept those ball thingies and he would be protected against the bulk of the injuries he picks up on patrol with me keeping this town safe for you and everyone else, day in day out, week in week out. Not just when there's an emergency or when it fits with his social calendar. Hey, keeping those balls might even be enough to make the difference between living and dying if he's attacked by a human, just being able to withstand someone's attacks without taking damage, but he gave them to you.
He gave them to you because after the other night he includes Anya as one of the people who are his to protect, and Anya loves you, so you score because he doesn't want to see her suffer if you get hurt. And the fact that anyone can see that unless something happens to change things, you two are going to end up beating the crap out of each other hasn't escaped him. Nor has the fact that you can, on occasion, be a bitter, twisted, little. git, who'll more likely than not use them to hurt him even more than you already could. And still he puts his feelings for Anya first, because he still doesn't realise the man he's become.
He still thinks of himself as one of the damned and worth less than any of the rest of us because of it. But I'm telling you now that you had better take a good look in the mirror and sort out whatever issues you have about vampires or about me with vampires. As your ex once told me "spank your inner moppet"; embrace the pain, do whatever you have to do to get over it. Just do it soon because if you try anything to split us up, or harm him, or even just harass him, I am not going to just let you get away with it like I let you get away with your part in the Acathla incident."
Seeing blank looks on the faces of the others, Buffy turned to Willow before she continued.
"Oh, right, I forgot Xander and me are the only ones who know what I mean by his part in the Acathla incident.
Yeah, Will, you know you asked Xander to tell me to try to stall the ritual until you could restore Angel's soul? Well it turns out that, translated into Xander-speak, it came out as "Willow said to give him hell" or something like that."
Willow's jaw dropped and she stared at her lifelong friend, her face filled with shock and disappointment.
Buffy continued on. "Angel spent half a millennium being tortured in hell because Xander decided your wishes, Jenny Calendar's and mine were less important than his perverted satisfaction."
The slayer returned her attention to Xander. "You gambled with my life and the fate of the entire world. I was forced to send the man I loved to hell seconds after he regained his soul.
Yeah, I know you thought that had escaped everyone's attention, Xander, but it hadn't. By the time I worked out what had happened there was so much water under the bridge. It took so much effort to get back to where we were after the time I spent in LA recovering from what you forced me to do and I didn't want to disillusion Will, so I left it. You got off free with that till now.
Just like you got away with summoning that demon for his little song and dance routine. He would have incinerated me if Spike hadn't stopped it. He did make several people burn alive while we spent days researching something you already knew all about. You didn't even own up to summoning him when the life-size puppet said that was why they'd taken Dawn. .Right up to the point where Giles worked out it had to be one of us, you thought if you just kept quiet you wouldn't have to accept any responsibility, even if that meant he took Dawn or me. People almost certainly died because you chose to pretend ignorance and it doesn't seem to bother you in the slightest. You haven't shown the least hint of remorse. It's like, oh- they died, but I didn't know that would happen so it's not my fault.
Spike? He blames himself for me dying and for every bad thing that's happened to me since. When I've been a total bitch, he blames himself because if he hadn't let me die I'd not have changed. He took a knife through the gut and a fall off a hundred-foot tower that broke half the bones in his body and still he tortures himself every night with things he could have done differently to protect Dawn and me on that tower.
If you didn't know one was a soulless vampire and one human which one would you say was evil from the descriptions, Xander?"
Xander, fidgeted and avoided Buffy's gaze, as most of the others at the table looked on stunned.
"He deserves some respect for the things he's done and for how he's changed. For too long I let you poison my mind rather than trust my own instincts, or Dawn's. I screwed up this thing between us first time round because I let you make me feel ashamed of someone I should have been proud of. He's the one who's been there to support me whenever I've needed it this past year. He's the only one who's made it his business to notice when I need help without me asking. Don't force me to choose between you. And don't you dare let me hear you call him Evil anything ever again."
Buffy finally seemed to have reached the conclusion of her speech. She waited to see if Xander had any response to make, but whilst he was still contemplating the carpeting someone else decided to act.
Dawn moved to stand beside her sister. "What she said, except for the bits about going out with him. Spike's been one of the good guys for a while now. Last summer no one had a problem with him. As soon as Buffy came back you and Giles both start treating him like shit again. Buffy doesn't need you or want you to protect her. Especially when your version of being protective is just plain being a jerk." The younger Summers expressed her support. Both girls stood arms crossed in front of them, legs slightly apart most of their weight on their right leg and their left foot held heel down as if about to start tapping it in irritation. They made a formidable sight.
"Until you opened your big mouth, it seemed to me like Buffy was having a good time tonight and she hasn't had too many of those in the last year. If you were really her friend maybe you would have taken the time to notice that and possibly even put two and two together as to why.
Right. I'm done. Are you done, Buffy?"
"Wanna dance with your little sister?"
Anya looked over at her husband who now looked thoroughly miserable and sighed. "Didn't I tell you if you pushed it, then it would be the relationship between you and Buffy that would suffer."
Shortly after, Spike dropped off another round of drinks at the table before heading onto the dance-floor to look for his women. He found them talking rather than dancing behind a staircase on the far side of the club. He came up behind Dawn putting his arms loosely around her waist and standing on tip-toe to kiss the top of her head before resting his chin on her shoulder to get a proper look at her sister and gauge how her confrontation had affected her.
"Are you two okay?" He pulled a travel pack of tissues from his coat pocket and passed it across to Buffy, who had been dabbing at her slightly pink eyes with her fingertips.
It was Dawn who answered rather than Buffy. "She kinda had a row with Xander."
"I know, pet, I heard some of it. I was on the way back to the table when I noticed. I figured it would only make things worse if I turned up in the middle of it. Thought Harris would take it worse if he thought I was standing gloating, so I made a detour to the bar, but I could still hear. and thank you, both of you, for the nice things you said about me." He reached across to Buffy gently using a knuckle under her chin to raise her head until she was looking at him. "It means a lot to me that you would do that."
"I'm kinda not sure that I should have," sniffled Buffy. "At least I think I overreacted a bit. I meant what I said but the middle of a group night out for Xander's wedding probably wasn't the best time or place. I feel like I should apologise. but I meant it all. And now I've spoiled the night for everybody."
"Pet, I couldn't get you people to stop talking to each other when I was trying to. If I've done it when I'm not trying I'll be bloody well cheesed off. Now dry your eyes, love. Say a big thank you to whoever invented waterproof mascara and both of you come dance for a bit before we all go face the music. If things are too bad when we go back to the table we can bugger off home or go find a table somewhere else. It's all up to you."
Spike took the so far unused pack of tissues from the slayer and pulled one out. He dabbed gently below her eyes until he was satisfied. "You ready to come dance, pet?" he whispered next to her ear before brushing his lips across her cheek.
She smiled weakly over at him. "That's all we ever do, isn't it?"
"That it is, love. That it is."
Spike took her hand and followed Dawn onto the dance-floor.
That's it for SWBD, but not for this particular AU because the story continues in "True Colors" , the sequel that was supposed to be a one chapter epilogue.
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