Chapter 8 – Gossamer Wings

The music blared out from the gym, and the pulsating beat of 'We Are Family', left a slight smile on Buffy's face. Even if she wouldn't keep in touch with them, the kids she had grown up with and shared her life with would somehow always be her family.

With a final smoothing of her dress, Buffy stepped into the melee and immediately tensed. Somehow history had repeated itself and she found herself facing the same gauntlet that she had encountered in the school hallway just a few short weeks ago. An overwhelming desire to run coursed through her but knew she wouldn't. Because just like before, Spike was on the other end and getting to him was worth facing this. Forcing herself to buck up, Buffy straightened her shoulders and vowed that this would be her victory.

Xander was first. She stepped up to him and when his eyes widened in surprise, she patted his chest.

"Xan, I just want you to know the reason I never went out with you. It's not because I didn't think you were good enough for me but because of what happened in eighth grade."

"What?"

"You put glue in my hair trying to be the class clown and they had to cut about five inches off because it wouldn't come out. And you never apologized and that's why I never went out with you."

She stepped further into the room toward Willow. Without hesitation Buffy hugged the girl and was glad that the red head had come to prom.

"Just want to say thank you for all the help you've given me over the years."

"You're welcome, Buffy."

They exchanged a smile before she moved to her next target, Cordelia. There had never been any love lost between the two girls and Buffy wasn't going to sugar coat it now.

"Knowing you Cordy has taught me the difference between being competitive and being a bitch. Thank you for the help."

And that left only one person, Angel. Her Angel or so she had thought for two years. This was good-bye. And she wanted to go away with good feelings. His gaze was tender and filled with a touch of pride for not letting anyone cut her down tonight and she cupped his face and smiled up at him.

"I loved you with everything I had. And as badly as it ended I don't regret one moment of it and I wish you all the best that life has to offer."

"Buffy, I'm sorry…"

"Don't be. If you hadn't hurt me then I wouldn't have found the one I am meant to be with."

Rising up on her toes Buffy pressed a soft kiss to his lips. As she pulled away she could feel his cobalt stare on her. Spike. She turned and saw him standing by the refreshment table, hurt and anger clouding his features. She offered him a huge smile and stepped away from Angel. Opening her arms wide, she slowly turned in a circle, letting him see the dress. And when she faced him again, his eyes only held love and hunger for her. He understood and that was all that mattered.

~~~~~~

This was torture. He didn't like these school events and usually avoided them at all costs. His choice of companions were usually older than the girls he went to school with and wouldn't have been caught dead at a high school dance, which was fine because he hadn't wanted Buffy to see and be able to dissect the relationships that he had once had. He sighed as he looked around the room wondering if she was actually going to show. Joyce had said she would call if Buffy wasn't coming so he just had to wait. Most of the girls tittering all week about prom had made preparations an all day event and he knew that Buffy only had a couple of hours so that was what was making her late, he reassured himself.

A tingling moved through him and he turned to look toward the door just as she stepped into the room. He could only see flashes of her as she moved through the crowd, stopping to talk to her classmates, but she was coming closer with each conversation. So, it was all right. As long as she ended up with him, she could socialize all she wanted. Until she stopped to talk to Angel and his body tensed when she cupped his face. How could she? She was looking at him like she used to when she was in love with him. When she rose up and kissed him, Spike felt as if his heart was on the verge of breaking. But then, as if she knew, she turned to look for him.  Her eyes collided with his and for a moment he could see the acceptance of his hurt in those emerald depths. He wanted to look away or run away until she smiled. That smile he had come to know in the last year. The one that flashed when everything was right in her world and his negative emotions began to slip away at the sight.

She stepped out into an open space and spread her arms out and slowly twirled. And he felt the rush of fire that she gave him burn through his soul at the sight before him. Joyce had said that Buffy had picked the dress out to wear for him and he knew it was true. It was velvet, the deep rich red of wine and when she twirled he saw that although the front was modest with a choker collar the back was open all the way to her waist. He smiled. The red was the collar of the top she had worn when they had first gone out and the open back was for the first time they had made love. He had spent long moments just kissing and loving her back, telling her it was the most beautiful one he had ever seen. Everything was somehow right again as he watched his woman walking toward him.

Spike fidgeted in his tuxedo, reaching into his pocket and letting his fingers brush over the softness of Mr. Gordo, hoping it would help relax him.  Nothing had changed over the years. He still hated social events and he still hated getting dressed up. Of course, if it was for Buffy he would endure whatever he had to so she would be happy. So, he could get his smile. Because that's what it was now, his smile. Because he was the one that made her world safe and right just as she did for him. The music changed and he froze as the crowd stood. He took a step forward so he wouldn't miss a thing and looked to his left as anticipation made him fidget even more. The doors at the back of the sanctuary opened and she was there. For a moment Buffy hesitated and looked at him as her face lit up. It was his smile and he relaxed as the power of that one gesture made him humble in her love. He half expected her to turn so he could see the full effect of the dress but there was no need. Oh, yes, he knew she wouldn't disappoint. This dress would have an open back for him and a lustful shiver danced through his veins as he waited for her at the end of the aisle.

"Hi," she whispered.

The slight picking at her dress and not looking him directly in the eye told him she was as nervous as he was. Spike laid his hand on her waist so he could pull her closer to him and with relief she came to him willingly. He kissed her hesitantly and chastely until the connection between them ignited and she relaxed in his arms.

"Hey, yourself," he said, laying his forehead against hers.

Buffy's hands smoothed the lapels of his tux down before she pulled away.

"I'm sorry for being so mean to you. But I wasn't just using you. I want you to know that. No one else can make me feel the way that you do and it was only you I wanted."

"It's good to hear that."

His slightly sarcastic answer made her look up sharply and her eyes searched his face looking for answers but he wasn't ready to completely accept her apology yet.

"Spike…" she started but another voice stopped her.

"Buffy."

They both turned toward the sound of the speaker to find that it was Xander. Looking at Buffy then Spike, he smiled and shrugged his shoulders.

"Hey, Xander," Buffy said.

"I just wanted to apologize for the whole hair thing. I'm not looking for a date but I just wanted you to know I'm sorry."

"It's okay. Ummm, thanks for the apology."

Xander laughed awkwardly.

"Sorry, it's the prom emotionalism thing going on. I just feel like I have to make amends with everybody."

"It seems to be the night for it," Spike replied. His gaze fell to the girl beside him and he saw the slight flush on her face. And because he didn't want her to feel bad he squeezed her closer to him and was rewarded with a smile.

"I hear you two are going to UCLA." Xander said. "So, am I. I guess you can't fully escape from everything and everyone." Realizing how it sounded, Xander slapped his forehead and stammered out, "Not that I want to get away from you two. Sorry."

Buffy laughed and Spike smiled. Xander and he had never been friends. And it wasn't that Spike didn't like him. They just seemed different and he hadn't taken the time to get to know him.

"It's okay," Buffy said. "Yeah, we're going to UCLA. I probably won't start until spring though."

Spike turned to her in surprise but it was a good one. Apparently, she had made some decisions while they were apart and he knew that she'd fill him in later on with all the details.

"Hey, did you say that you all were going to UCLA?" Willow asked, turning away from the punch bowl. "Me too."

"Hey, hey the gang is all going to be there," Xander quipped.

And this time they all laughed.

"I've got an idea," Willow said. Her face was flushed as she talked to them and Spike could feel the nervousness vibrating off of her. Always shy, Willow didn't talk to a lot of people, especially since she was the butt of so many of the kid's jokes in school. "Why don't we all take a ride down to LA next weekend to check it out?"

At first no one responded as they all looked at each other. Spike felt like they were all deciding whether or not since they were leaving high school if they could leave all their allotted slots behind them and take chances on people they normally wouldn't have.

"Okay, yes, sure cool," all three responded to Willow simultaneously and the red head visibly relaxed.

His best man clapped his hand down on his shoulder, "you have got yourself one gorgeous looking woman," he whispered.

Spike tore his eyes away from his bride to look at Xander, who was almost giggling in mirth.

"Yeah, and you're woman ain't so bad either," Spike responded.

The two men looked across the aisle at Willow and when she noticed the intense stares of her fiancé and the groom, she blushed. Getting Willow to blush had been a pastime of theirs over the years but Spike had soon learned that all it took was a certain lustful grin from Xander and she would blush from her toes to the roots of her hair. Dawn, standing next to Willow, noticed the playing amongst the friends, rolled her eyes, coughed discreetly and motioned toward Buffy.

Spike returned his attention to Buffy and noticed she had stopped in the middle of the aisle. He shrugged, flashing his baby blues at her and she laughed softly along with the other guests. Finally she continued toward him as if to say she had decided he was worth the trouble after all. When she reached the end of the aisle, he stepped forward, unwilling to be separated from her for a moment longer. His hand rested on her bare back and tickled her in that certain spot so that she quivered in front of him.  He watched as Eddie lifted her veil and whispered last minute advice to her before kissing her on the cheek, like the father he had become to her should.

Joyce had never left Sunnydale. She had gone in to talk to Eddie herself about the car and he had asked her to run his office. Apparently he had fallen in love as soon as she walked into the garage. Lucky for him, she had said yes, first to the job and then to his proposal a year later. Spike's former boss had become more of a dad to Buffy and Dawn than their own father ever had been. And Eddie had been tickled pink when Buffy had asked him to escort her down the aisle.

Eddie stepped away to join his wife in the pew and Buffy was his. As they joined hands, he heard sniffling and turned toward his mother, bawling and holding the hands of her husband. Spike smiled at her then turned toward the man who was like a father to him now and gave him a 'does she have to do this' look. Rupert just smiled at him and patted his mother's hand.

His mother had never given up her search for a man with class and had found it in his high school librarian, Rupert Giles. Darla had found a book that he had never returned and taken it in the following school year. She had taken one look at the gentle, stuffy man and fallen head over heels in love. Apparently he hadn't been able to resist the petite firebrand and married her after only two months of courtship.

Spike felt Buffy squeeze his hand and turned his attention back to the love of his life. Her eyes shone with pure happiness and he was glad that he was the one to give her this and knew that in his toast later he would say a thanks to her biological father for being the jerk he was. If he hadn't left, all of the lives of the people around him, and most importantly Buffy, might never have made it to this point. And he mouthed an 'I love you' before turning his attention to the minister ready to start the ceremony.

~~~~~~~

The first strands of their song came on and Buffy grabbed Spike's hand in excitement. When she had been on the prom committee she had insisted this song be played. It was all part of her fantasy and she wasn't going to spoil it now. She began to drag him away when she realized that Xander and Willow were still there.

"Sorry, our song, gotta dance," Buffy said as she pulled Spike away. "Catch up with you in a few and do you all want to have breakfast when this is over?"

The two smiled indulgently at her enthusiasm and nodded their agreement to breakfast. Buffy continued to pull Spike until they were under the big disco ball in the center of the room. Another small detail to her plan that she was going to see through if it killed both of them in the process.

"Why do I feel that I am being manipulated?" Spike said as she pulled him into her arms but drew the line when she started to lead. "Hey, I'm the man. Let me have a little control here."

Buffy giggled as she looked up at him and sighed. She was back in his arms and it was heaven. There was no other way to describe being with him. Her life was now in order and she had only one last thing to do. Well, not last because after spending the evening dancing with him, the last part of her fantasy was to head out to Whistler's Dock and make love as the sun rose over their lake. But she knew that Spike wouldn't have any objections to that.

The words of 'Wind Beneath My Wings' echoed around them. Neither of them really liked the song that much but it was their song. The first song they had slow danced to and if Buffy was forced to, she would have to admit that the words were appropriate for her feelings toward Spike.

She took a step closer to him so that there wasn't any space between their bodies and she felt his hand slowly caress her back, sending shivers along her spine. Mentally she told herself to relax as she rested her forehead against his chin and his soft kiss on her brow made her realize it was time. Lifting her head she looked up into the face that she adored and smiled. Her fingers caressed the nape of his neck as tears welled up in her eyes.

"I love you, Spike. With everything that I have in me, I love you. For now, for always."

The tears spilled down her cheeks as she told him and she saw the look of joy that came over his face. She had done this. She had given him the happiness that he had been waiting a year to hear and she swore that there wouldn't be another day as long as they both lived that she wouldn't tell him how much he meant to her.

I, Buffy, take thee, William…

I, William, take thee, Buffy…

~~The End~~