That was the only way to describe it. Buffy’d heard that all weddings were chaos in the hours right before, but this, this had to take the cake. Just walking down the hall in her house, people were shouting through walls, and ribbons and shoes were being tossed out open doorways. The wedding was almost an hour away, and the chaos had only increased. Oh, the chaos was everywhere.
Buffy couldn’t be happier.
Sure, she was in a spectacularly ugly dress that was so bright a green it seemed radioactive, and her feet were already hurting from the equally hideous shoes, but oh, she was in heaven. This kind of crazy mayhem made her feel so alive and at home, a feeling she hadn’t felt since she’d moved out almost two years ago. How she’d missed all the turmoil and disorder that made this house her home. And it wasn’t just the normal crazy today, oh no. Today was Anya’s wedding day.
It was going to be perfect. She was certain of that. As maid of honor, she’d overseen everything from the cake to the garter. She had gone over every detail at least ten times. It was Anya and Xander’s wedding! Her step-sister and her best friend! How could she not make sure every detail was perfect for them? And no, she wasn’t making up for her own failed engagement. No matter what her little sister said.
No, this was a happy day. Two of her best friends were getting married, surrounded by people who loved them. It was going to be fantastic.
She turned a corner and walked into a tree. Wait, what was a tree doing inside ? And, hold on, that didn’t feel like tree bark. That felt more like leather…
With a growing sense of dread, she looked up to see her deepest fear (and hope—no, stop, she mentally scolded) confirmed.
“Oh, God,” she moaned in dismay. Her bubble of happiness popped instantly, leaving behind a feeling of anxiety (and lust, which she fervently ignored).
“Nope, just me, but thanks pet,” Spike quipped, giving her his trademark smirk. He took a step back and gave her a once over, slowly tracing every curve with his eyes. “Don’t you look… luminescent.”
“Oh shut up, Spike,” she said, silently cursing Anya for making her bridesmaids wear dresses that glowed toxic green. “What are you doing here?”
“What, I can’t come to my own cousin’s wedding now?”
“I meant what are you doing in my house?” She raised an eyebrow, hoping to look intimidating.
“Wanted to give her a weddin’ present, is all.”
“You couldn’t have left it on the table downstairs with all the others?”
“Alright, alright, you caught me. I’m lookin’ for Uncle Rupes. He has my suit.”
“You weren’t just gonna show up in that leather jacket like you did for Mom and Giles’ wedding, huh? My my, you have grown up Spikey,” she said mockingly.
“Yeah, ‘cause we all know how much you loved the leather don’t we pet,” he leered, giving her a lascivious smirk for a moment. “So can you tell me where Giles is or not? ‘Cause if not, I suggest you kindly step out of the way so I can tell his daughter that I’m wearing this bloody leather coat to her wedding because her bloody step-sister was too busy interrogating innocent people in the bloody hallways to let them get dressed.”
“God, used the word ‘bloody’ enough? And you’re hardly innocent, Spike.”
“You’d know that better than anyone, wouldn’t you sweetheart?” He smirked once more, and gave her a wink, before sauntering past her and down the still-hectic hallway and into one of the bedrooms.
Damn that man! She thought. She took off in the other direction trying to get thoughts of him getting dressed (make that getting un -dressed) out of her mind.
“Stupid, stuck-up, egotistical, cocky, bastard,” Buffy muttered under her breath. Oh, she was going to kill him. With all his little innuendos and flirty eyes, that bastard had some nerve trying to act like he was some gift to the world, like he was so amazing and hot and sexy, and damn he had good cheekbones…
Wait. No. She was mad at him. Right.
“Big-headed, arrogant, smug little asshole,” she continued, walking into the kitchen.
“Going off about Spike again, Buff?” her little sister Dawn asked from her perch at the counter.
“What? I wasn’t—I mean, what are you talking about?” Buffy spluttered.
“You were muttering under your breath again. You only do that when you don’t get the last word in an argument. And since Spike just went upstairs, I just put two and two together.” For someone who only just became an adult in the eyes of the law, she sure was smart
“I do not mutter! And he did not get the last word!” She slumped against the counter, putting her head down on her folded arms.
“So, what did he do this time?” Dawn prompted, eager to get fresh gossip. Since Buffy and Spike were two of her favorite people, she loved getting dirt on them to hold over their heads.
“Oh, nothing but be his usual annoying self.” Buffy was well aware of Dawn’s intent, and was careful to admit nothing.
“Fine, spoil my fun. Like I don’t already know everything about you two anyways.”
“Everything about who Dawnie?” Willow asked, coming into the kitchen with the sea of noxious green that was Tara, Cordelia, and Faith, the other bridesmaids.
“Buffy and Spike. Although come to think of it, all of you. I mean, really. Have you guys ever realized how incestuous you guys are?” Dawn asked, looking over the seating chart. “Let's do a rundown, shall we? Buffy dated Angel, was engaged to Riley, and slept with Spike. Xander's fooled around with Willow, dated Cordy, had a crush on Buffy, and is marrying Anya. Cordy and Wes had a fling, now she's with Angel, who if I remember slept with Drusilla at one time, leading her and Spike to break up." Dawn took a breath, not noticing the wide-eyed expressions on everyone's faces. "Gunn and Wes both liked Fred, and she went on a couple of dates with Gunn but then he met Gwen so now she’s with Wes. And then there’s Faith who has come on to anything with a penis including but not limited to Xander, Wesley, Angel and Spike." She took another breath. "It seems the only one who hasn’t been around is Willow, and that’s only ‘cause you realized you like the ladies after the whole Oz fiasco. I’m just saying, you guys seem to go through the same set of people over and over again,” Dawn said, finally looking up and realizing the stunned expressions on everyone’s faces.
“Shit, this chick scares me,” Faith whispered to Cordelia.
“I only like one lady,” Willow protested weakly. Tara shot her a small smile before soothingly rubbing her hand on her arm.
"And who are you bringing to the wedding, Miss Know-It-All?" Buffy asked her irksome little sister. "Oh, that's right. Connor. And he's who? Oh, Angel's little brother. Right."
“Hey, he’s been my best friend for as long as I can remember! And again, why is that? Because you dated his brother for so long that he and I had to befriend each other due to our mutual feelings of disapproval on how much our group of friends intermingle.”
“Alright, alright, point taken, and we’re all slightly scared of how much you know about all of us,” Cordy interjected, trying to change the subject from their dating lives.
“That’s not even the tip of the iceberg. I can list every partner any of you guys have ever had off the top of my head. It’s amazing how much people let slip when they consider you too young to know anything about what they’re talking about. Remember the Parker incident? Like I didn’t know exactly what you guys meant by—“
“Okay, can we please not discuss Parker right now,” Buffy cut her off. “C’mon girls, we have a wedding to go to! Chop chop!” Buffy urged, just as eager to change the subject. And with that, the girls gathered their belongings and headed into the front room to wait for the bride, mentally shaking off ghosts of lovers past. Today was for happy endings, not heartbreaks and regrets.
“Buffy, thank goodness you’re here! I don’t know where my—oh, it’s you.”
“Is that any way to treat your favorite cousin? Even if you are the bride, a little common courtesy would be nice, pet.” Spike gave her a genuine smile, before heading into the bedroom.
“Hello Spike,” Anya said, before launching into a tirade. “Have you seen Buffy? I need to go over my vows again and I don’t know where they are and what if I forget them, I mean, that would not be good and then—“
“Hey, breathe, pet,” Spike soothed, holding her arms. “From what Red told me, you’ve gone over your vows at least twenty times in the past hour, you’ll do fine.”
“Spike, I think I’m going crazy. I can’t think straight, all I can think about is how much money I’m gonna lose if this wedding doesn’t go through. How weird is that, for a bride to be thinking of on her wedding day? And anyway, aren’t you supposed to be with the guys at Xander’s apartment? What are you doing here? If you make me lose any money by making this wedding not go through, so help me, I’ll bring vengeance on you so hard, I’ll—“
“Calm yourself Ahn. I’m just here to wish you luck.”
“Oh, well, that’s okay then. Thank you. Now go away so I can concentrate on having the best day of my life.”
“Sure, pet,” Spike chuckled. “I’ll get out of your hair. But first I need to find Giles. You know where he is?”
“I don’t know, ask Buffy. She’s the one who knows practically everything about this wedding. I’m just supposed to stand there, say my vows and look pretty.”
“You’ll look pretty anyways, ducks. And I’m not gonna cross paths with Buffy right now. She’s bein’ more of a bitch than usual lately.”
“Well, you know, this whole wedding thing is probably putting her on edge since the whole Riley fiasco. Dawn says that she’s transferring all those feelings on to me and Xander in some weird psychology thing. I don’t understand half of what Dawn says nowadays, ever since she started going to college it’s all Freud this and Chaucer that. I’m up to my elbows in historical figures here, especially with a father like mine, but she just won’t shut up —“
“Wait, Anya, what was that about Riley? I thought he and Buffy were all about the happy engaged couple thing?”
“Gees, Spike where have you been? Buffy and Riley split up almost six months ago when she caught him cheating in her with some ‘vapid ho’. Those are Buffy’s words not mine. Anyway, after that, Riley left on some top secret mission thing in Africa, and Buffy stayed and became our personal wedding planner.”
“Oh, God,” Spike said in shock. “Why didn’t anyone tell me this?”
“Well, we thought you knew. And it’s not that big of a deal. Well, for Buffy, I’m sure, and you, of course, but it hardly matters now, does it?”
“I guess—wait, what do you mean, ‘and me of course’? Why would it matter to me what Goldilocks does with her personal life?”
“Well, because you’re in love with her. Everyone knows it. Andrew and Dawn have bets on who will admit it first, you or her. I had my money on you, but since I just told you, I guess I’m disqualified. There you go again, losing me money. Now shoo! I have to pick out something to wear on my wedding night.” And with that lovely image, Spike was shoved unceremoniously out the door without another word.
What?? He thought to himself. He was not in love with Buffy! Who the bloody hell would think that? Just because they fight constantly and he often caught himself staring at her and imagining what her neck tasted like… Oh, God, he was in love with her.
God save us all, he thought. The world was going to hell. And he still hadn’t found Giles with his suit.
Three hours later, the wedding had gone off without a hitch. The vows had been said, the bridesmaids had looked toxic, and the best man hadn’t lost the rings (though, it was Oz, so it wasn’t like there was any doubt). Everyone had gone onto the reception, but Buffy had stayed at the church. Why, she had no idea, but she kept getting the feeling that something was about to happen, and being typical Buffy, she refused to face it.
Oh, she was no coward. She was perfectly willing to face everything from a spider to a mugger, and with her black belt in karate, she was perfectly capable. But this didn’t feel like something she could physically fight. And that, the feeling that something huge was approaching and she had no way to face it, that made her want to find the nearest corner and curl into a ball. Unable to do so, she did the next best thing; denied its existence. If she could pretend that nothing was going happen, then maybe it would come true. At least, she hoped.
She stared at the flower bouquet on the altar, a bouquet that she herself had made and wondered what was wrong with her life. She was busy helping everyone else’s love lives when her own was in shambles. She was the one to set Dawn and Connor up. She had gotten Xander and Anya to meet, though that hadn’t been her intention at the time. Giles had been tutoring her when he met her mother for the first time. Angel was with Cordy because she had suggested they would make a cute couple, giving him the confidence to ask her out. Willow and Tara were still together because Buffy had supported her when she told her she was a lesbian. All this love around her, and Buffy had helped to create it.
But she couldn’t feel it. She was watching from the outside as everyone else got to be happy. She was beginning to think that she wasn’t meant to have the happiness at all. She was just one of those unlucky souls who—
“Hey Goldilocks, come here often?”
Oh, why now?
“What do you want, Spike?” she groaned.
“What, can’t a bloke amble up to a pretty lady without having a hidden agenda?”
Buffy just looked at him.
“Fine, fine. I was wondering where you were. Almost everyone’s left to the reception, and I noticed you weren’t in the limo. It wouldn’t do to have the maid of honor left behind in the church, now would it?”
“I needed some time to myself. This wedding’s taken a lot out of me.”
“By the looks of it, you’ve put more into it than it’s taken out of you.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“It means that, you’ve put so much of yourself into this wedding, I could almost think that it was you getting married and not my lovely cousin. You can barely see Anya’s influence at all. Except for maybe the bridesmaid dresses, ‘cause those dresses are ghastly. “
Buffy chuckled at that.
“Ah, knew I could get grin,” Spike said, a small smile of his own emerging on his face. He tilted her chin up at him. “But seriously, pet, what's going through that head o' yours?”
“I don't know, Spike. It's just been a long year,” Buffy sighed, looking down again.
“That it has, pet, that it has. But what do I know? I haven't been around dear old Sunnydale near as much as I would've liked, and I missed some stuff. You wanna catch me up on what exactly in this past year has made you so glum?”
“How 'bout we just go get drunk at the reception instead?” Buffy asked, looking up at him with a smile that didn't fully reach her eyes. “First round's on me.”
“Sure, pet, whatever you say,” Spike sighed. If she didn't want to open up, that was fine by him, and some alcohol in her system could only ease some of the tension between them. He guessed that what had happened last year had taken more of a toll on their relationship than he had thought.
The reception was in full swing by the time they arrived. The wedding party had already officially made their entrances, and the cake had been cut. Dawn had laughed with everyone else as Anya had swiped a smear of icing onto Xander's face, only for him to smush a full piece onto her cheek. The only thing that prevented it excalating into a full food fight was Buffy reminding them both that they were in their wedding clothes, their very expensive wedding clothes that shouldn't be stored with moulding cake on them. That had stopped them pretty quickly.
But it was Buffy that Dawn was watching now. She was worried about her sister, and how distracted she'd been lately. She hadn't even noticed the diamond on Cordelia's hand all day, despite Cordy unsubtly flashing it whenever possible, earning coos from most of the other bridesmaids. But Buffy had been engrossed in her clipboard, making sure that the DJ was set up, or that everyone was seated correctly, to notice.
Dawn knew that the break up had been hard on Buffy, but she also knew that it shouldn't have been this hard on her. Riley had been, in all honesty, a rebound guy, albeit a longer lasting one than most. Buffy had been in a vulnerable place after Angel, and had found comfort in the tall, blonde, All-American boy that was Riley. But Dawn knew her sister, and she knew that, if Riley hadn't cheated first, their marriage would not have been a long one. She suspected that her sister wasn't truly broken-hearted over her break-up with Riley, so much as disappointed at her love life in general. She knew Buffy had been unsatisfied with her boyfriends for a while, and wondered what she could do to help get Buffy back on that horse. Buffy deserved a guy who could keep up with her, who would challenge her, and Riley was a little too homespun-cotton-candy sweet to be that for her.
As it was, Dawn knew of only one guy who had fit Buffy perfectly, and that guy was currently by the open bar, getting into an increasingly loud conversation with Angel. Dawn knew them both well enough to know that any peace wouldn't last long.
“Hey, Connor, I'll be right back, ok?” she said, looking over to her date. He glanced away from his conversation with Lorne, over to the bar, where he saw his brother and Spike, before nodding to Dawn.
“Yeah, they're gonna need your help. Be careful,” he said, with a kiss to her cheek.
“Aren't I always?” she replied with a cheeky grin.
“Never. You are never careful,” he said seriously.
She smiled at Lorne's laugh as she walked over to the bar. As she approached, she could hear Spike and Angel getting even louder.
“No! C'mon, are you crazy? That would never happen, that just doesn't work!”
“Angel, you twat, you just don't trust me and my reliable insight. It's not my fault you're too stupid to see what's right in front of you.”
“I don't need to trust you to see that you're wrong, just like you always are.”
“You just can't stand that things aren't always how you want them to be!”
“It's not about what I want, it's about what's right !”
“Guys!” Dawn interjected. “What are you even talking about?”
Both men stared at her for a second, before looking down sheepishly.
“Who would win a fight, cavemen or astronauts?” Spike responded quietly.
Dawn just stared at them in disbelief. The only two men her sister had ever really loved, and they both were morons.
“Seriously guys? Really?”
“He started it,” Angel pointed petulantly.
“Whatever,” Dawn said, rolling her eyes. “Spike, can you come here for a minute?”
“Sure, Niblet. Whatever you say,” Spike said quickly, eager to change the subject.
Dawn rolled her eyes again as they walked away. She dragged Spike down to their table, and sat him down forcefully before pulling out a chair to face him and plopping down in it.
“Now, I have two questions. Number one, are you drunk? Two, are you in love with Buffy?”
“No to which question?” Dawn inquired, raising an eyebrow.
“Uh... both?” Spike blushed, rubbing the back of his neck.
“Uh-huh,” Dawn nodded. “I thought so. So go up and ask her to dance, you dummy.”
Spike's mouth closed with an audible snap.
“See? You have no excuse. Look, there she is, over by the pillar, all by her lonesome. Go ask her to dance.”
Spike remained silent, staring at the floor, but sneaking glances at Buffy whenever he thought Dawn wasn't looking. Dawn sighed, before pulling Spike up, and pushing him in Buffy's direction.
“Shoo!” she said, waving him off. Spike looked back at her with a mixture of fear and excitement, before slowly walking over to where Buffy was standing. Dawn smiled at a job well done, mentally planning her maid of honor speech, before making her way back to her date.
Spike hated Dawn. Let it go on record that he hated her, from the moment he was forced to babysit her when she was seven and called his bleached hair and leather jacket stupid. She had refused to play with him until he had taken the jacket off. And now, here he was, more than ten years later, and he was still following her orders, despite being 28 years old, a grown adult in anyone's book.
He elbowed past someone doing the chicken dance, and marveled at the depths his life had fallen.
Refusing to completely follow Dawn's order, the first words out of his mouth once he'd reached Buffy were not “Would you like to dance?” but “Hey pet, I believe you owe me a drink.”
“Nice to see you too Spike,” Buffy replied, before taking a drawl from her bottle of whiskey.
“Didn't figure you for a whiskey kinda gal, pet,” Spike said, gently taking the bottle from her hands.
“Didn't figure your for the kinda guy that would take a bottle from someone trying to drown their pain, Spike,” Buffy slurred, making grabby hands at the bottle as he held it out of her reach. “Man, I hate being short,” she huffed, before crossing her arms.
“C'mon, love, why don't we sit you down and try and get you sobered up,” Spike smiled softly.
“No,” Buffy pouted. “I want to wallow in my misery. Leave me to wallow in peace, you big...blonde guy.”
“'Blonde guy,' huh?” Spike chuckled. “Your quips aren't quite up to par, love.”
“Shut up, Spike,” Buffy glared hazily.
“You know what? I don't think I will. C'mon, pet. If you don't want to sit, maybe you want to dance?” Spike asked holding his hand out enticingly.
Buffy looked out at the dance floor for a moment before sighing.
“Alright,” she conceded, putting her hand in his.
“Don't have to get so excited, love,” Spike rolled his eyes. He slowly led her to the dance floor where the DJ was playing some slow song that seemed vaguely familiar.
“I love this song, this cover is so pretty,” Buffy sighed, relaxing into Spike's arms.
“Yeah,” Spike replied staring at the blonde in his arms.
Wise men say, only fools rush in
But I cant help falling in love with you.
“Hey, Buffy?” Spike asked after a moment.
“Oh, you used my actual name, this must be important,” Buffy smiled, not lifting her head from Spike's shoulder.
“Yeah,” smiled hesitantly. “It's just... nevermind.”
“What?” Buffy pushed, lifting her head.
Shall I stay
Would it be a sin
If I can't help falling in love with you.
“It's just--” Spike faltered, looking down at the ground. “I-- I mean--”
“Hey,” Buffy said, lifting his chin so he would meet her gaze. She smiled gently.“I've never seen you speechless before. Are you ok? Whatever it is, you can tell me.”
“It's just...Whatever happened to us, love? I mean, we used to be able to talk about everything. And now... Now I didn't even know you and Soldier Boy had broken up until months after the fact, and even then, from Anya, not you. What happened? Was it because of... that night?”
Buffy seemed to think for a moment, before answering him in a slightly slurred voice.
“Yes. Yeah, it was because of that night.”
“Oh,” Spike said, face falling.
Like a river flows surely to the sea
Darling so it goes
Some things were meant to be.
As Spike seemed to draw into himself, Buffy seemed to realize what she said.
“Oh! Not like that. No, I mean that, I couldn't handle it.”
“What do you mean?” Spike asked, puzzled.
Buffy blushed under the dim lights of the dance floor.
“I mean that I couldn't handle it. I couldn't handle that I had you, and then I lost you. I couldn't go through with that again.” She hid her face against Spike's shoulder.
“Buffy,” Spike teased her out from hiding. “Buffy, are you saying what I think you're saying?”
“I don't know, what do you think I'm saying,” Buffy equivocated.
“Buffy,” Spike chastised.
“I'm saying that I hmmphmmp,” Buffy mumbled into his shirt.
“What was that? I didn't quite catch that,” Spike smiled.
“I said that I huv shoo,” Buffy said, dropping the end of the sentence once more into his shirt.
“One more time, love.”
“I said that I love you!”
A few people near them seemed to stop and stare. Fred was trying to muffle her laugh into Wesley's shoulder, and Angel didn't stop staring until Cordelia whacked his shoulder.
“Sorry, everyone, nothing to see here,” Spike called out, shielding Buffy, but not able to contain his grin. “You want to get out of here?” Spiked whispered. At Buffy's nod, he dragged her off towards the exit, through the crowd of their family and friends, and straight through the doors outside.
One year later, Dawn finally got to give her maid of honor speech. She made sure to embarass everyone as thoroughly as possible.