Chp 1 Completing the Circle
What If?……by Lilachigh
A series of stories that tell What Might Have Happened If… This one is called:
Chp 1 Completing the Circle:
IF - Buffy had run faster and stopped Riley getting on board the helicopter at the end of Into the Woods…. WARNING There is obviously Buffy/Riley at the beginning, but nothing specific.
The streets of Sunnydale were chilly and deserted at three in the morning. It was a good time, Buffy knew, to stand in front of the window of the wedding shop on the way home from patrolling and gaze at dresses.
Today there was one on a model that she liked a lot. Champagne silk, swirling up from a long skirt to cling to the bust, with the tiniest silk roses sewn around the neckline. There was a veil, a froth of lace, spangled with tiny diamonds. It was feminine and fun, romantic and ruinously expensive. It was the type of dress every little girl dreamed of wearing one day.
“Mom would have loved me in that,” Buffy whispered and blinked back the tears that could still fall so easily.
It was strange to think of how quickly her life had altered over the past few months. Her decision to stop Riley leaving with the military had changed everything. She could still remember with painful intensity her lung-bursting run through the town to catch him, tell him she did care, that she didn’t want him to go away. Slayer speed had got her there in time to stop him airlifting out of Sunnydale. She still lay awake some nights and wondered what would have happened if she hadn’t been able to run so fast. Her ability had had so many consequences.
Riley had insisted they got engaged straight away and although part of her had thought, “what’s the big rush”, another part had enjoyed the feeling of being so wanted, so needed.
He’d been there, supporting and advising when Dawn learned she was the Key and although Buffy knew in her heart of hearts that when the final battle with Glory was fought, Riley would only be another foot soldier, it was still nice to have him there, at her side.
And talking about the wedding had been kind of fun – seeing the enjoyment other people got out of it had been great. Dawn and her mom had flung themselves into planning all sorts of things. Joyce hadn’t felt well, but she’d still been in her element, phoning Riley’s family, talking about visiting Iowa to meet them, searching through catalogues for the perfect Mom’s Dress and Hat for the Big Day.
Dawn, Willow and Tara, giggling together about their bridesmaids’ dresses. The big discussion about asking Anya to join them and eventually having to because of hurting Xander’s feelings if she was left out.
Buffy had felt odd during all of that. Watching, pleased that she could make so many people happy, but – well, the only word she could think of was - detached. Almost as if this was happening to someone else.
And then Joyce had died.
She bit her lip. How cold and bleak those words sounded. Five little words to sum up a world of grief.
Buffy had cancelled all the arrangements, knowing that her mom would never get to wear the big pale blue hat with the feathers round the brim that still sat in a special hatbox on the top shelf of her bedroom closet.
But now Riley was keen for them to go ahead and all her friends and family agreed with him and weren’t backward in telling her that this was her best course of action.
“It’ll be cool to have Riley living in the house,” Dawn had said. “He’s very useful with homework and he can drive Mom’s car and carry the groceries. At least it will be cool as long as you two don’t start making groaning noises all night long.”
“I think it’s really for the best, Buffy,” Willow had said, sitting on the couch with her arm round Tara’s shoulders. “He’s a nice, solid guy and we all get on so well. It’ll be nice for us to know you have someone. Me and Tara, Xander and Anya, you and Riley. It’s all good.”
“Buffy, I’m so glad that you have Riley in your life at this difficult time.” That had been Giles on the phone from England. “Someone who can cope with you being the Slayer, Who obviously loves you. It gives me a great sense of relief. It’s just what you need. I’ll try and get across for the wedding, but if your father is giving you away…”
“Sorry, Giles! He took it for granted. He likes Riley a lot. ”
She’d bit her lip as she spoke; glad the whole continent of America, plus the Atlantic Ocean were between them. She knew she would never have been able to lie to Giles face to face. She’d persuaded her dad to give her away. Even used her mom’s death in an effort to make him feel guilty. She just couldn’t have Giles giving her away. She’d wanted him to give her to Spike to during that silly spell of Willow’s all that time ago, and somehow she knew she must make her real wedding plans as different from that magic one as she could.
She‘d hardly seen Spike since she and Riley had become engaged.
Well, of course, there was no reason to see him and she was delighted she hadn’t. Dawn had said he was in love with her, but that was just stupid.
There was the whole “having a crush” thing, and the Drusilla torture affair, but since she’d watched the robot girl fling him through the window, that hadn’t seemed so creepy. Anyway, how could he possibly love her? She was the Slayer, and hey, engaged to a soldier! What could be more normal than that?
As she stared at the wedding dress, desperately trying to picture herself holding hands with Riley under a flower arch in the back yard, she felt a chill on the back of her neck that had nothing to do with night time breezes.
“‘They’re changing guard at Buckingham Palace,
Christopher Robin went down with Alice,
Alice is marrying one of the guards,
A Soldier’s life is terrible hard…
Well, well, Slayer, Little bird told me you and your soldier boy were really tying the knot this time.”
Buffy sighed and turned round. Spike was standing only a couple of feet away from her and she was suddenly irritated with herself that she could let him get so close.
“Not that it’s any of your business, Spike, but yes, I’m getting married to Riley very soon.”
“Never happen, pet.”
“Gone deaf have you, Slayer? Too much how’s-your-father can make a bloke go deaf, so I’m told. Didn’t know it happened to bints as well. What’s wrong with Captain Cardboard, then? Can’t he get it up? Leaving you to do it yourself – ”
He made a gesture that needed no words and Buffy felt hot colour flood up into her face. “Spike, you are such a pig! I have not gone deaf and whatever you think or say – which, by the way, is so of no interest to me – I am marrying Riley in two weeks time.”
Spike lit a cigarette, the flame illuminating the slice of his cheekbones, his face seeming even gaunter than usual. For a ridiculously stupid moment she wondered if he was getting enough to eat now he was chipped and Harmony had left town.
“Oh, set the date, have we?”
“Yes. And you’re not invited. If I see you anywhere near the house, I’ll…I’ll…”
“What are you scared of, pet? That you’ll wake up to what you really feel?”
Buffy brushed past him, her skin tingling at the touch of leather on her bare arm. “It’s late, Spike. I haven’t got time for this nonsense.”
“You can’t marry him, Slayer.” His voice was quiet but she flinched at the note of desperation she could hear. She spun round, eyes flashing.
“Give me one good reason why not?”
He stood staring at her, for once lost for words. What could he say, that he knew she had feelings for him, if she would only let herself acknowledge them? That whatever it was that zinged between them at every meeting, it certainly wasn’t hatred or disgust.
“Everyone likes Riley,” she went on. “Mom liked him – Mom was thrilled that I was getting married to a nice, normal guy – okay, she didn’t know about Adam, but she knew he had a family and a background that doesn’t include vampires and demons. Dawn likes him. So do all my friends.”
“Let them marry him, then! You don’t marry someone because you get to wear a pretty dress, or your mates like him, Slayer or because it pleases your parents. You marry him because he completes the circle of your life, because you can’t live without him.” He grabbed her shoulders. “Look me in the eye and tell me you can’t bloody well live without Riley Finn!”
Buffy stared at his angry face, then shook him off. She turned and walked away, refusing to give him the satisfaction of running. How dare he! Of course she loved Riley. She was marrying him, wasn’t she? And surely it was far better to have a husband everyone approved of than get involved with someone who set her whole moral compass swinging madly, violently in completely the wrong direction.
She’d show Spike! She’d go back to the shop tomorrow and buy that dress. And she’d wear it when she married Riley and became Mrs Finn.
• • • • • • • •
Angel was alone in his room when the familiar scent reached him. He reached out, slowly towards the silver paperknife on his desk….
“Don’t worry, Liam, haven’t come to fight.”
He turned to see the one man he hated and probably loved more than any other in his whole long life and death standing in the doorway. “Spike.”
“If this soddin’ hotel is supposed to be a safehouse for vamps, then let me tell you, Peaches, it isn’t! I waltzed in here and no one even noticed. You’ve got back doors that aren’t even bloody well locked!”
Angel shrugged, feeling the old sense of irritation that Spike caused him settle on his shoulders like a black cloud. “I’m sure you didn’t come to L.A. just to lecture me about security, Spike.” His gaze suddenly sharpened. “Has something happened to Buffy?”
Spike lit a cigarette and perched on the edge of the desk, blowing smoke in his grandsire’s face. “Well, yes and no and perhaps is probably the right answer.” His expression changed, the mischief fading from his eyes. “Did you know she was getting hitched?”
Angel nodded, his dark eyes inscrutable. “Heard.”
“For fuck’s sake, what do you intend to do about it!”
Angel stood up, leaning his hands on the desk, his face only inches from Spike’s. “Nothing.”
Spike stubbed out the cigarette on the desktop. “Let me rephrase that. Buffy Summers, the woman you love, is about to tie herself up to some poncy wanker soldier boy that either you or me could snap between the fingers of one hand.”
“Strength isn’t everything.”
“I’m not just talking about muscles, although god help him if she ever grabs him between her thighs and really twists hard! Do you know Finn?”
Angel shrugged and flung himself back into his chair. The pain of Buffy’s engagement was something that was his alone to brood over. He hugged it to his heart and refused to divulge to anyone how hurt and angry he was.
“He’s weak, Liam. Oh, all Mr Corn-fed Iowa boy. The sort who’s always first into battle, carrying the soddin’ flag. The one who volunteers. The one in the movies who usually survives when his best friend dies! But from now on, the person closest to him will be Buffy.”
“You’re talking rot, Spike. Anyway, why are you bothered by what the Slayer does? ”
Spike shot him a glance and for a second, Angel could see once more the killer that Dru had woken. The chip in his head was controlling him, but he sensed that under the surface, William the Bloody was still there.
“Got her measure, after all these years. Know her steps. Where she’ll be and when. If she dies, we’ll get another one and I’ll have to start all over again.”
Spike wondered if Angel could be that easily fooled. Did he have no idea of how he felt about the Slayer? Couldn’t he sense the love for her that pounded through Spike’s veins? ‘Bloody stupid Mick – all he wants to do is sit and suffer,’ he thought angrily. ‘Just like he’ll sit and suffer when Finn does something rash on patrol and some nasty has himself a really good day with the Slayer.’
“So, you won’t help?” he said when Angel stayed silent, head bent, eyes fixed on some distant past happiness that would never come again.
“There’s nothing I can do,” he muttered. “Listen, Spike – ” but when he turned, the blond vampire had gone and his scent scattered on the night air.
* * * * * * * *
Two nights before her wedding, Buffy walked through a cemetery, stake in hand. She’d been to talk to her mom about the wedding, telling her all the details. It was peaceful where Joyce was buried, the fresh flowers on the grave gleamed in the moonlight.
“Slayer!” He appeared on the path in front of her, black duster swinging, his face pale against the black T-shirt.
She hadn’t sensed him around this time and she cursed under her breath. Thinking about the wedding was dulling her senses.
“Could have taken you, pet, if I’d been even an ordinary nasty, let alone one who’s a bit special. You’re getting careless, Slayer. Need to sharpen up. But then I hear married life can slow you down.”
“In your dreams, Spike! Anyway, what do you want?”
“I want you to tell Finn you’ve changed your mind.”
“Jeez Spike. Change the record. I’m marrying Riley. End of story.”
“You don’t love him!”
“What? Have you gone completely insane?”
Eyes gleaming in the starlight, he took a step forward, until he was almost touching her. “I just want you to kiss me, Buffy. I won’t touch you, I promise. If you can kiss me and tell me you feel nothing, then okay, marry soldier boy.”
“Don’t be ridiculous, Spike. Get out of my way!”
“Scared to try, Slayer?”
She flung her head back and clenched her fists. “The day I’m scared of you, Spike, is the day – ”
She stopped and caught her breath. His tongue and slipped out and licked his lips. From deep inside her came an insistent throb as her body remembered the flavour and texture of that mouth. The kisses they’d shared – and more. But that had been magic.
Spike slowly reached out, tilted her chin and bending his head a fraction, brushed his lips across hers.
Suddenly, with the strength he knew she would never use with Finn, her hands were locked behind his head and her mouth opened under his. Their tongues met and fought, insistent and demanding one second, then pliant and submissive the next.
Buffy heard a roaring in her ears, felt the ground slide away beneath her feet, knew that his arms were the only things holding her upright and at last accepted that what she felt for Riley was a pale shadow compared to this.
Oh god, her body remembered this kiss, demanded it go on, insisted that she took the next step and the next –
In horror, she broke away, pushing herself clear of the vampire’s embrace. She scrubbed at her lips with her hand, breaking the skin. Little bubbles of blood formed and he fought to keep himself from vamping out. The pain in her eyes broke his heart all over again.
“I just wanted to be a normal girl,” she said and her tone was quiet, almost dreary. “Stupid Buffy. Always wanting what she can’t have.”
Spike felt a flash of relief. Whatever it had cost him, he had won. She wouldn’t – couldn’t – marry Riley now.
“I don’t love you, Spike,” she continued in the same flat tone, “I’ll never love you,” then turned and walked away, every step a lie.
He watched her go, savouring the taste of her in his mouth. “One day you’ll tell me you do,” he said out loud. “One day our circle will be complete.”
And he could tell from the way her shoulders stiffened that she heard him. For a second she hesitated and he thought she would turn, but she didn’t.
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