All characters belong to their respective creators / film companies / etc. and are used without permission. This story may only be distributed on a non-profit-making basis.
FINAL PART! If you like this story, check out my other stories on the Fanfiction Net, Twisting the Hellmouth, and Fonts of Wisdom websites. Other sites please ask before using.
by Marcus L. Rowland
"Okay," said Dawn, "first point to Willow. It's pouring."
"Told you," said Willow, adjusting her dress. "No reason for that to change, I guess, unless Xander and Anya changed the date of the wedding or something."
Buffy moved up beside her and critically looking at her own reflection. "This isn't too bad. The blue kinda suits me, and the concealed pockets are great, plenty of room for stakes and stuff without ruining the lines. Did Tara work her mojo?"
"Yep, she did it last night after the rehearsal. They've both got about thirty-six hours of protection against thrall and illusions. Not a hundred percent guaranteed, might not hold up against someone really powerful like Dracula or Dru, but at the very least they'll know that someone is putting the 'fluence on them. And of course they're primed to expect problems, which is half the battle."
"Getting through this without killing any of Xander's family or Anya's friends is gonna be the other half."
"No argument there. Haven't seen Xander's family so bad since my Bat Mitzvah."
"And you're okay with Tara doing the spell?" Buffy asked Willow, helping Dawn to fasten her dress.
"Sure, she always was better than me at purely defensive magic. We've kinda agreed that she's gonna be the Wicca of the family until we're good and sure that I'm over the addiction, I'll stick to the science. I can't turn off my own defences completely, it'd be stupid to try, but I'm not gonna do anything active if there's any alternative."
"It's great that you're working so well together," said Dawn.
"Remember, I've got a whole new box of tricks to play with, Baltian ideas I can adapt to our technology, provided I can sneak them past the MIB guys. I'm not gonna get bored with my lack of magic any time soon."
"So long as they don't arrest you for breaking the Prime Directive or something."
"Would I do that?"
"Okay, don't answer that."
"Did you see to the other security stuff?" asked Buffy.
"Sure. The body suits are on the doors, I've got Warren's cameras installed all around the Bison's Lodge with April monitoring them, Zap'll be guarding the presents and keeping an eye on the main entrance, Tara's on auras and Spike, April and you can be bouncers if necessary. It's a shame that Riley and Sam and the MIB guys can't make it, they would have been good as extra backup, but you can't have everything."
"Probably just as well, I think there might have been a few problems if Riley and Sam saw some of our guests, especially from Anya's side, or the MIB guys saw Zap. And the other stuff we discussed?"
"What.. oh, yeah, that's in hand."
"What stuff?" asked Dawn.
Willow whispered "We've kinda bugging Anya and Xander. Buffy and I will be able to listen to anything that's said to them."
"Holy..." Dawn whispered back, "you'd better make sure that they're unbugged before they leave on their honeymoon."
"Don't worry, not a problem."
Tara came in and began to put on her own dress, and Willow hustled out to keep Anya company.
"Let's hope that things are under control at Xander's place."
Spike slammed Xander's Uncle Rory's arm to the table for the third time and said "Right, that's best of five, you want to try for seven?"
"Uh... no, I think I'd like to keep that arm."
"You'd better get dressed then, I'm getting kinda bored here and time's a-wasting."
Xander came over, looking for his cufflinks, and murmured "Thanks for helping to keep my family out of mischief."
"No problem, reminds me of the last time I went to the zoo."
"Good of you and Clem to come along and give me moral support."
"I really wouldn't miss this for the world."
"So you were the strong man at the circus?" asked Uncle Rory, staggering back towards them.
"That and I used to bite the heads off chickens. It's a tough job, but someone's gotta do it. Of course they taste pretty bad, what with the blood and feathers and all..."
"Gotta go..." Rory said, and staggered off again.
"Just don't let him get started on stuffing animals," said Xander. "And when my dad shows try not to hit him more than you have to."
"Don't worry, chip still works on him, I think."
"How come it doesn't work on Uncle Rory."
"Arm wrestling isn't fighting, Anyway, your dad didn't know it was my coat when he puked on it last night, why should I hold a grudge?"
"Hold all the grudges you like, I just want him alive and not bleeding too much during the service."
"Alive would still be nice, I guess."
"You don't sound too sure."
"Okay, I'll do my best."
"Seen my cufflinks anywhere?"
"The fat bint that just came in with your dad's wearing them as earrings."
Xander turned, noticed the new arrivals, and said "Cousin Carol, I think you've made a little mistake..."
At the Bisons' Lodge, an hour or so later, Zap prowled a table loaded with presents, paying particular attention to a box with several air-holes and a gift card from D'Hoffryn that occasionally put out a questing tentacle. So far he'd clawed the tentacles back into the box a dozen or so times, and scored eight times on the hands, flippers, and tentacles of guests who'd mistaken him for a handy snack. He was having the time of his life.
Dawn chatted with D'Hoffryn and Halfrek, carefully avoiding the "W-word" and looking around nervously for signs of trouble. "You look worried," said D'Hoffryn.
"We've had a... a warning that there might be a gate-crasher, some sort of troublemaker. Maybe you'd call it a prophecy."
"Miss Rosenberg, I presume?"
"Yeah, she's kinda remembered a little of the way the wedding went in some of her other lives."
"You don't sound too surprised."
"Oh, weddings bring us most of our business..."
"Bloody hell," said Spike, staring at Halfrek.
"William? What on earth are you doing here?"
"My girl's one of the bridesmaids."
"So am I."
"Yeah, the dress is a bit of a give-away."
"So, you're in the vengeance business now?"
"Honestly, William, I thought you realised... I always was. And it's Justice Demon."
"Right... Well, that explains a lot. The bit mentioned she'd had a run-in with one of your mob."
"That's right. No flies on that one."
"I'd better get on, we're expecting a gate-crasher. Don't want anyone to spoil the wedding. Nice seeing you again."
"Hurt your hand, Clem?" asked Buffy.
"Just a little misunderstanding with that demon on the gift table."
"Demon? Oh, Zap. Don't worry, that's just a friendly warning from him. You really wouldn't like him when he's annoyed."
"Thanks for the tip."
"I have six unknowns," said April, "Two appear to be together, I think they are members of Xander's family. Two appear to be known to Spike. The other two are both male; one appears to be fifty to sixty years old and resembles members of Xander's family, but is not drinking. The other is a goth in her twenties, and is drinking heavily."
"Any of them near Xander or Anya?" asked Willow, speaking into a microphone concealed in her corsage.
"The elderly man is moving towards Xander."
"Patch Xander's bug through to my earphone, and warn Buffy and Tara. This could be it."
"You have to believe me," said the old man. "I'm Xander Harris. I'm you. I'm from the future." He produced a purple gem from his pocket.
"Okay," said Xander, feeling an odd tingling in his head. "Prove it."
"Prove it. Do the Scooby Dance."
"Come on, if you're me you can do the Scooby Dance."
The old man began an odd lurching shuffle.
Xander watched for a few seconds, then said "That's not very convincing, and anyway it's the Snoopy Dance. Nice try, grandad, now what do you really want?"
"I'm telling you, I'm you. If you marry Anya today you'll wreck both your lives."
"You simply aren't ready to marry. Look at this gem, I'll prove it to you."
"Bzzzt. Wrong answer. Anya and I are already married, and if you were really me you'd know that."
"You're... already married?"
"Get back, Xander," said Tara, "whatever he is, he isn't you. I'm pretty sure he isn't human."
"If you know that..." said the old man. His skin turned grey and he rapidly expanded into a huge demon with yellow spikes and eyes. Xander yelled and backed away, the demon followed. "Your precious Anyanka did this to me!"
"Dare say you deserved it," said Willow, arriving by Xander's side. "Doesn't give you an excuse to gate-crash the party."
The demon roared and swung a fist at her; she ducked, and Buffy arrived and drew a short sword from under her skirt, manoeuvring for position. Xander grabbed an ash-tray on a steel pole, and began to swipe at the demon's clawed arms. Together they pushed it out into the lobby before many of the guests had time to notice what was going on. Willow and Dawn followed, and Zap wriggled through the crowd to join them. Spike was last out of the hall, shutting the door behind him then joining the fight.
"Spoil my wedding, would ya," shouted Xander, slamming the pole into the demon's belly. Willow pulled a plastic box from her sleeve and pressed a button; nothing happened, and she frantically pried it open, looked at the electronics inside, and pushed a wire against a terminal, then pressed a button. There was a loud "Thwak" noise and the demon collapsed.
"What the hell was that?" asked Buffy, prodding the inert demon with her sword.
"Told you I could build one," said Willow, rubbing her arm where one of the demon's blows had bruised her. "Cost seventy-five bucks though, didn't allow for inflation. And it only has a 'stun' setting."
"You built a phaser?" asked Tara.
"Sure. Can't do magic any more, needed something else to give me an edge."
"Right," said Xander, bemused. "How long will demon-guy be out for?"
"Should be a few hours."
"By then we'll be heading off on our honeymoon."
"Get back inside," said Buffy, "I'll drag him out. Spike, give me a hand. You okay, Xander?"
"I guess. Wonder what would have happened if we hadn't been ready."
"Believe me," said Willow, "you wouldn't have liked it. Let's get in there and get on with things before something else goes wrong."
Buffy and Spike dropped the demon down a convenient sewer cover, hoped that it would stay out until the wedding really was over, and ran back inside to wash and towel the worst of the rain off. Buffy was just barely back out of the cloakroom in time to help Anya walk down the aisle. Xander was waiting for her, Willow by his side as the best man.
Wet footprints and a minor fist-fight aside, the rest of the wedding went perfectly. Willow even remembered to recover the bugs before Xander and Anya left for Niagara Falls.
Outside, on one of the wettest days in Sunnydale history, the demon was upside down and unconscious, its head soon underwater as the level rose. By the time the wedding was over he was thoroughly drowned. In Hell the demons that received him couldn't think of a better punishment so they left him that way, with Warren occupying the next manhole along a very, very long sewer.
"Willow," said April, "now that the wedding's out of the way there's something I need to discuss with you."
"You may have noticed that I've been seeing quite a lot of someone lately. The thing is, we'd like to date, and that's a little difficult given the current circumstances."
"You want me to tell someone that you're a robot?"
"No, he knows, we just need your help to handle the physical side of things..."
Buffy listened, bemused, for a few minutes, then as the conversation got increasingly technical turned to the equally bemused Dawn and said "I think we'd better leave this one to Willow. Ice cream?"
"Did you hear the latest about Mister Shark?" Willy asked.
"What's that?" Buffy asked warily.
"Seems he was running some sort of black market scam with fake demon eggs, got caught up in a shoot-out between a bunch of government agents and some Columbian drug guys. There wasn't enough left of him to scrape off the pavement."
"Anyone else left from his gang?" asked Spike
"Not that I know of."
"What a shame," said Spike sarcastically, turning to Buffy, "now you won't be able to give him that money."
"Mmm, I guess." Buffy guessed a lot more; sooner or later she was going to have to have another talk with Spike about morality. But tonight she was nearly forty thousand dollars better off than she'd expected, and fairly sure that she would never see the inside of a Doublemeat Palace again. Even if she was really, really hungry...
"Okay," said Willow, "You've got three of the body suits, I'm gonna hang on to the habitat module and the fourth body suit in case any more of my Baltian relatives want to visit. Are you still cool with that?"
"Sure," said Jay, "just out of interest, why that one?"
"It would have been too weird to keep Sheila or Ira around, especially since they're supposed to be dead now. Most of my Baltian relatives are male so I got a customisation set from Baltia, gave the young Ira suit a new face and fingerprints. I checked, it's okay for someone with dual Baltian-Terran citizenship to order that if it isn't being used to cover criminal activities."
"You could do that to any of them."
"Sure, but the other Ira moves like an old guy, the young one can hang out with me and my friends without too many questions being asked. Most of the Baltians I've seen so far look as old as Reagan, they really need to be younger in this group."
"I guess. Okay, while I'm here I need to remind you about your finances. You'll appreciate that you're going to have to be really careful, that much money could seriously mess up the economy if it isn't used wisely. If there are any serious problems talk to the San Francisco office, they'll be handling it and monitoring the situation."
"That's okay, I'm not planning to do much until I graduate, the business partners and investments you've suggested ought to be a lot of help, and I'm gonna have a pretty good secretary to take care of a lot of it."
"Someone I know?"
"Why not? She's got a better head for business than I have, she never gets tired, and she can type two hundred words a minute, four if she bypasses the keyboard. I've offered her fifty thousand as starting salary, she seems to be reasonably happy. She'll be managing the Magic Box for the next couple of weeks, until Anya and Xander get back from their honeymoon, after that she'll be working for me."
"Makes a lot of sense. Okay, I guess that's about it."
"Not quite," said Willow, grabbing him and giving him a hug. "Thanks for all your help. I don't know how we'd have got through this without you. You too, Kay," she called to the car.
Jay gently hugged her back and said "Oh, I think you'd have coped. Try not to violate the Treaty of Tycho too badly."
Jay climbed into the car with Kay and the three body suits in the back seat. They waved a last time and drove off.
"She's working some sort of scam on us, isn't she," said Kay.
"Damned if I know, but I really don't want to try to find out unless I have to. That girl is bright, and I'm not sure I can out-think her."
"Doubt if it's anything serious. After all, it's not like she'll destroy the world or anything..."
Willow went back into the house and said "Okay, they're gone. You can come out now."
Zap scampered out from hiding, and April picked him up and lifted him to the open face of the Baltian body suit, which now looked a little like a younger Tom Cruise, only taller. He wriggled into the pilot's seat and extended his claws to the controls. The face closed, twitched, and his features came to life. Wordlessly he swept April into his arms and they began to kiss. "I love a happy ending," said Tara, as she and Willow discreetly moved to the kitchen.
"There's really only one loose end now," said Willow. "I'd still like to know the real story about my biological parents. There must have been a reason why I was abandoned in the Mall, and for all I know I have family that needs my help. I've got nowhere in Sunnydale, I think I'm gonna need professional help to get any further."
"Suppose you don't like what you find out? Suppose they're like my family... or Xander's?"
"Then I'll have to live with it. With your help I don't think that'll be a problem."
They kissed, then Willow picked up the kitchen phone, punched a number on the speed-dial, listened for a moment, and said "Hi! It's Willow... Yeah, still in Sunnydale. Listen, is he around? I've got a job for him.... Yeah, one that pays real money, put him on... Hi, Angel, I want to hire you to investigate something for me... Yes, hire for money..."
This is by far the longest fiction that I've ever written, about four or five times the length I originally expected, and I want to thank everyone who's commented on it, especially those who've pointed out my idiot continuity errors. In an ideal world I would go back and fix them - as it is, that probably isn't going to happen any time soon, I have too many other things to do.
There's going to be a sequel, which will probably be called The Rosenberg Inheritance; I've already roughed out the plot, and will post the first chapter in the next few days. I'm going to try to take it a lot more slowly and carefully, since most of the problems with this story have been caused by my posting too quickly without sufficient re-reading and editing. It's going to be a BtVS / Angel / Lou Grant crossover, which I think may be a first for fan-fiction.
Some of the ideas in this story have undoubtedly come from other fan-fiction stories and fiction in general. In particular, I've belatedly realised that Rack's unfortunate fate was suggested by one of the Wild Cards shared world stories (not sure which one, it's a long time since I've read the books), and that some of the Warren / April interaction may have been suggested by the story Opening Lines by M. Scott Eiland,