While the slayer and her vampire lover slept through the early morning hours, her maid of honor and the nominal best man met for coffee in the hotel’s restaurant.
“So,” Xander began as casually as he could. “The Buffster went out looking for a vampire last night. Do you think she found him? And, if she did, are you thinking what I’m thinking?”
“That today is about to get really, really messy?” Willow rolled her eyes and shook her head. “Oh yeah.”
“What do you think she’s going to do? Is she really going to dump Angel – now that he’s all redeemed and breathing – for Deadboy, Jr.?”
“Don’t talk about him like that, Xander,” Willow said absently, tracing patterns on the tablecloth with her spoon.
“See, that’s the difference between Spike and Angel. He knows that’s just a term of endearment. Spike never got all offended by being called a vampire.”
“Maybe not, but it’s still not a nice way to talk about—“
“A nice way to talk about who?” Angel’s smooth voice interrupted before Willow could finish her sentence.
“Uh…” Suddenly the sophisticated and powerful witch was reduced to a stammering teenager again as the former vampire stared at her intently. “Uh…um…nobody. I was talking about nobody.”
Giving her a disgusted look, Xander said clearly, “We were talking about Spike.”
“You know,” Angel continued in a conversational tone of voice, “I think I’ve heard more about Spike in the past twenty-four hours than I have in the last two years. Does anyone want to tell me why his name keeps coming up on what is supposed to be my wedding day?” His voice was deceptively mild, but Willow could see the muscle jumping in his jaw and his eyes were cold and hard.
Before Xander could say anything else, Willow found her courage and spoke up.
“I suppose it’s because something about an impending marriage makes people think about the other…men…in the bride’s life. And you kinda can’t think about Buffy and men without thinking about Spike.”
“Oddly enough, I have no trouble with that at all,” Angel said, still maintaining a cold calmness that was more frightening than if he’d slammed his fist onto the table. “I’m not thinking about Buffy and Spike, and I would appreciate it if our wedding attendants could get him out of their minds and concentrate on what is going to happen today.”
Xander and Willow exchanged looks, but carefully kept their mouths shut and nodded in agreement.
“I think I’ll go see if Buffy’s up yet,” Willow finally managed to get out. “I mean, I’ll go knock on her door and if she answers me…”
“Maybe I should go wake her up,” Angel said, rising to his feet and putting a restraining hand on Willow’s shoulder. “This whole business about not being together before the wedding is getting on my nerves anyway.”
“I should do it!” Willow’s response was immediate and shrill.
“Why would that be, Willow?” Angel’s voice was still deceptively calm, but his gaze was making her very uncomfortable. “Is there some reason you don’t want me to go to Buffy’s room.?”
“Well…I mean…I am the maid of honor, and…I just…”
“We’ll call you if Buffy needs you for something.” Angel’s tone brooked no argument as he strode away from the table, leaving the Willow and Xander staring at each other with horror.
“You don’t think—“
“I don’t know—“
“But if she did—“
“House phone!” Xander leaped to his feet and almost ran into the lobby, heading for the bank of house phones along the wall. Willow threw money on the table and hastened after him, running up just in time for him to hand her the ringing phone.
Buffy’s sleepy “Hello?” gave Willow no useful information, but she gasped out, “Angel’s on his way up!” and waited for the response. She prayed to hear Buffy say, “Oh, okay. I guess I should get up anyway,” but all she heard was a muffled curse uttered by a masculine voice and a whimper from the slayer.
“Couldn’t you stop him?” Buffy’s plaintive question skipped right over any explanations.
“I’m sorry. We just couldn’t think fast enough. I tried to say I’d go get you, but he didn’t let me.”
“Okay. Thanks, Will. We’ll deal. Somehow.”
“So…there is going to be something to deal with?”
“Oh, yeah.” The slayer’s voice softened. “Yes, there is.”
“Do you want us to come up too?” Willow asked loyally, even as every fiber of her being was screaming to be as far away from the upcoming scene as she could possibly get.
“Sure. Why don’t you guys come up and keep Spike company while I talk to Angel? Maybe you can keep him from tearing the room apart while I’m gone.”
“Okay, we’ll be right there.”
She hung up and looked into Xander’s curious eyes.
“We’re damage-control,” she sighed. “Let’s go.”
“So, we were right, huh?” he asked unnecessarily as he followed her to the elevators. “There is going to be damage to control?”
“It seems so. It’s probably a good thing Angel isn’t a vamp anymore – I think that might be more damage than either one of us wants to deal with.”
“Former Deadboy looked pretty scary, just the way he was,” Xander admitted. “Do you think he knows?”
Willow shrugged, watching as the floors crawled by.
“I think he knows something’s going on. And he has to know it’s about Spike.”
“This could actually be a lot of fun,” her friend mused. “Maybe I should have brought popcorn…”
“Xander! Angel’s about to have his heart broken. How can you be so callous?”
“I dunno,” he admitted with a shrug. “It’s just that he’s just as arrogant and superior-acting as a human as he was when he was a vamp. It’ll do my heart good to see him knocked down a peg or two.”
The elevator doors slid open and they shot out, turning quickly to run in the direction of Buffy’s room. They could see Angel, standing in front of the door, on which Buffy had clearly kept the safety chain fastened. He was arguing with her that she needed to let him in so that they could talk and Buffy was insisting just as vigorously that she would talk with him downstairs or in his room as soon as she was showered and dressed.
Just as the out-of-breath attendants arrived to stand behind Angel, they heard a loud “Fuck this!” from the room and the door was wrenched open. Standing on the other side was a half-dressed Spike, his hair still rumpled from sleep and his glare firmly in place. Beside him, Buffy rolled her eyes and retreated from the now-open space, waving everyone into the room with a sigh.
“You are an ass,” she growled at the vampire, marching over to the rumpled bed and yanking the bedspread up to create someplace for people to sit. She was wearing only her pajama bottoms and what appeared to be the tee shirt conspicuously absent from Spike’s bare chest.
“Get out.” Angel’s voice cut through the tension, drawing everyone’s gaze back to him. He loomed just inside the doorway, a sharpened stake clutched firmly in his hand.
Pushing Spike behind her, Buffy whirled to face her now ex-fiancé.
“Angel! What are you doing? I know that this has to be…painful. It’s not how I would have chosen to break it to you, but I tried to tell you to wait for me downstairs.“
Ignoring her completely, Angel never took his eyes off the equally intent vampire. With quiet deliberation, he said, “You never should have come here, Spike. You should have stayed ‘dead’. That,” he pointed at Buffy, “is part of my reward for all those years of suffering, and I am not letting you have it.”
“ ‘That’ is a grown woman, you bloody wanker. She’s not yours or mine. She’s her own person and she’ll make her own decisions.”
“Uh, guys? She’s still in the room, you know.”
Although Spike sent Buffy an apologetic shrug, Angel continued to ignore her in favor of arguing with the vampire.
“The Powers promised her to me. And there is no way I’m going to allow you to come in here with your ‘the dead hero is back’ act and take that away.” He finally took his eyes off Spike long enough to address Buffy.
“I’m going to view this as a final fling before you become my wife,” he announced haughtily. “I don’t like it; but I’m willing to overlook it, considering the way he probably took advantage of your gratitude. It’s typical of him, but you don’t have to worry about it any more.” He turned his gaze back to the vampire, who was gaping at him with the same shocked incomprehension as were the three humans in the room. “If you leave now, I won’t have to stake you in front of Buffy. I don’t want her to be upset on her wedding day – so, if you care anything about her, you’ll go quietly.”
Spike’s shift into game face was forestalled by Buffy’s hand on his arm and her quiet “Let me.” She walked slowly toward the man she had been so sure loved her and looked into his condescending face.
“Angel,” she began quietly, but with a steely edge in her voice. “I will say this only once, so please listen carefully. I am in love with Spike. I have been in love with Spike for many years. I was willing to marry you because I thought he was dead and because I thought you loved me.” She threw up a hand to halt his intended interruption. “Now that you’ve made it obvious that neither of those things is true, I don’t feel bad at all about telling you that the wedding is off. I can’t marry you. I will always care about you in some fashion, but right now I don’t even like you very much. And even if I did, I wouldn’t marry you. I don’t love you the way I love Spike. I’m sorry.”
She turned her back on the stunned man, walking directly into Spike’s arms and resting her head on his chest. He stared over her head at his former grandsire, his cold eyes daring the man to argue. Angel glared at them for several minutes before turning to leave the room.
“This is not over,” he said as he went out the door. “You are meant to be mine and I WILL have you.” He stopped and looked over his shoulder at the vampire now holding his fiancée. “You could be dead again, you know. It wouldn’t take much – a piece of wood, being pushed outdoors at the wrong time of day-“
“Get. Out. Now.” The voice was pure Slayer and the large man moved faster in spite of himself, pulling the door shut behind him.
There was silence in the room after the vibrations from the slammed door had stopped. Finally, Xander stepped away from the wall saying, “Well, that went well, don’t you think?”
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