Spike walked into the ceremony early, complete with a date on his arm.
Clem stopped him in his tracks, saying, "Nu-uh mister, that's a bad idea."
The girl looked disgusted at the intrusion, but Spike contemplated his friend's words.
"You reckon?" he asked, earnestly.
"No disrespect to the lady, but I don't think it's fair on the, uh," – Clem gestured in the direction of Buffy – "the lady."
"Right," Spike replied, before turning to his date. "Guess you better sod off then."
"Excuse me?" she said, indignantly.
Clem shot the vampire a disapproving glance before telling her, "You should stay. There's actually a quite few eligible bachelors here. Much richer than Spike, if you don't mind horns, that is."
Either she didn't believe the horn comment, or wasn't fazed by it, Spike couldn't tell, but she entered the crowd willingly without him.
"Great, now what am I gonna do?"
The demon looked at him sympathetically.
"Maybe I could have a word with Buffy. Smooth things over?"
"Don't bother, she's made 'er choice."
Clem nodded, solemnly, "But you're both unhappy. It's clear to see."
The vampire just shrugged and slopped off to the bar.
Just then Clem noticed Krelvin and made his way over to him, not even noticing when he accidently tripped up an old man with his own umbrella. Said old man transformed into his true demon self upon hitting the floor, causing Xander's young cousin Karen to scream – inadvertently drawing Halfrek's attention.
"Good lord!" she exclaimed, before grabbing hold of D'Hoffryn's cloak.
"What is it Hallie?" he asked.
"That demon, I recognize him. He's one of Anyanka's."
The old demon squinted, "Anyanka made him? You're sure?"
She nodded, adding, "Probably here to cause trouble."
D'Hoffryn let out a sigh, "I'll see him out."
Spike was on his third Jack Daniels when Buffy walked up behind him.
"I think Clem's matchmaking Krelvin and Xander's Aunt Carol," she said, making conversation.
"Only right someone should be happy," he replied, with a glum expression.
"No, don't. I don't need your pity."
Buffy gave a gentle nod, before asking – almost in a whisper – "What do you need?"
Spike looked at her like she was made of gold – his eyes saying it all.
"I'm sorry," she said then.
"Yeah, well, aren't we all," he agreed, before pointing behind her, "Think Red's trying to get your attention."
"Oh, right; must be starting. You'll stay, right?"
He nodded his assent and took another swig.
A cheer went up as the bride and groom kissed, then, almost immediately everyone was on their feet and heading in the direction of alcohol.
Not paying the least bit of attention to their guests, Anya and Xander carried on their heated embrace.
Buffy remained in the seating area, alone, watching them.
"Beautiful, ain't it luv?" said Spike, coming to stand behind her.
"Really is," she agreed, wiping the tears from her eyes. "God, I'm a mess. How can I want this when I…"
She shook her head, "I don't know. Kinda all over the place. Ignore me."
"Never could," he replied, brushing her cheek.
"Spike, I told you," she said, quietly.
Just as softly he replied, "Told me you couldn't carry on as we were. Can't rightly say it was doin' me much good either. But… I think this is the drink talking, but what if it was something different. Something… something that didn't hurt."
"You think anything between us could ever be good?"
He should have been stung by her words, but they were asked in earnest.
Continuing Buffy said, "If there was something good. If we could be good. God, I want it."
Spike's heart swelled. "You mean that?"
"I do," she said, then chuckled, "Pardon the pun."
He smiled too. "Buffy, if you'll let me, I want to try and do right by you."
Her eyes began to well up with tears again. "I can't not let you try," she said, "I can't say no to you, but I don't know if it's right. Spike, make it right? Can you?"
Once more he was silent, but his expression spoke volumes. It drew Buffy in. She couldn't help but lean in to feel his soft cool lips on hers again. The moment she kissed him she knew it was different.
Suddenly she heard Xander's voice, and the kiss broke apart.
"Woah!" the groom was saying, "What the hell, Buffy?"
"Oh, leave them be," said Anya, "It's been building for weeks – years, even. You can freak out about it after the honeymoon."
The mention of her honeymoon reminded Anya of a few things she had in store for her new husband, so she started telling him about them, in order to get his attention back on her.
"Quick," said Buffy, "Let's go while he's not looking."
Spike chuckled, but she pulled on his arm, "Oh, you're serious?"
She rolled her eyes, "Duh."
His smile grew wide, "Wait, have you seen Clem? I wanted to thank him."
"Last I heard he was giving Xander's parents marriage counseling."
"That so," the vampire said, "I'm impressed."
"Hidden talents, that one," Buffy agreed.
To be continued...