Disclaimer: The characters of Tracey, Kristen, Danielle, and anyone else you don't recognize do belong to me, as does the original concept of this story. Please do not steal my ideas.
Dedication: To everyone who submitted reviews to the fanfic. You made me smile countless times and enabled me to become a better writer. I thank you. A few people that I would like to thank specifically are Kitty, Sara at the Spike Threw the Heart Awards, Gretchen, and Vanessa. And of course, Tara, who has been there ever since the first word of the prologue. Thank you for all of your support and ideas. I love you all!! :-)
Author's Note: Wow. This is it. I hope you enjoy the final part of The Good Life! I have enjoyed every minute of writing this fanfic. It turned out even better than I expected, and I never expected the reactions that I have received either. This is definitely not the last from me. I have several shorter fics planned, as well as an idea for a possible sequel to this fanfic, although that idea is still very basic, and I am not promising anything. Also, if the wedding ceremony is a little off, sorry, I haven't been to a wedding in a while. I hope you like this, I think you are all really going to enjoy this. -glee- Well, go read! And remember to drop me a review when you're done! Love, Erin
Somewhere over Los Angeles
"Passengers please fasten your seatbelts, we are coming in for landing."
Buffy sat up and stretched. She had been trying to do wedding stuff, but she'd fallen asleep. She turned and saw Angel smiling at her.
"What? Do I have bad hair?" she said, feeling her head nervously.
He laughed. "No. You're beautiful. You'd better get your stuff together, we're landing."
She stretched and began to gather her papers. She still had so much to do before the wedding. She was grateful that there was only about 30-40 people coming though. Just her friends from Sunnydale, Angel's friends from LA, some friends from New York including some of her former co-workers and co-cheerleaders, some of her mom's friends, and a few people from North Dakota, including Professor Strang. They were having the wedding at the church in Sunnydale, and the reception was going to be at a restaurant about 5 miles outside of town. And all in only 2 and a half short weeks.
She put her lists into her bag and then reached for the small gift bag her friends had given her. Smiling, she looked at her gift again. It was a photo of the 4 of them from Tracey's last birthday. They were all smiling and laughing. The picture was in a silver frame with the words "Lynn, Tracey, Dani, and Kristen: Friends Forever" engraved in it. Tracey had said that she was unsure of whether to put Lynn or Buffy, but Buffy was glad that they had gone with Lynn. After all, it was taken when she was Lynn. Smiling, Buffy put it in her carry-on bag. Then she fastened her seatbelt and sat back.
"Angel, I'm really nervous," she said. Her heart was beginning to pound. Everyone was meeting them at the airport in a matter of minutes.
Angel squeezed her hand. "I know. But it's going to be okay. They are going to be thrilled to see you."
She looked at him. "Is Connor coming?"
He looked down. "I don't know. Gunn said he told him, but he doesn't know if he's coming." Now it was Buffy's turn to squeeze Angel's hand.
"It was really nice of your mom to let us stay at your house for a while," Angel said.
"Yes, but she is going to stay with Giles! With Giles!" she said.
Angel laughed. "You aren't going to get over them as a couple anytime soon are you?"
"Never. I just hope they're not..." she shuddered. "Like kissing when we get there or something."
Angel laughed/ "I think it's sweet."
Buffy stared at him. "My future husband, the hopeless romantic." At that moment, the plane hit the ground.
"We have reached Los Angeles. Thank you for flying United Air, and enjoy your stay."
Buffy and Angel stood up. Buffy was surprised to find that her legs were shaking. "Angel, I'm scared," she whispered.
He put his arm around her. "It's going to be okay. In a few minutes, you'll wonder why you were ever nervous."
They started down the aisle. Finally they reached the door to enter the lobby. There were already people filing out. Angel looked at Buffy. "Are you ready?"
She gulped. "As I'll ever be."
Hand in hand, they walked through the door into the lobby. Buffy looked around. Then she saw them.
Standing back a little ways was the entire Scooby Gang. Xander, Willow, Giles, her mom, Anya, and a blonde haired girl who must be Tara. Standing near them were Wesley, Cordelia, who she assumed was Gunn and Fred, and a green-skinned demon in sunglasses and hat that had to be Lorne.
Buffy spotted them at the same time that they spotted her. Her eyes locked with her mom's first. She immediately felt tears come to her eyes. Then, letting go of Angel's hand, she ran to her mother and threw her arms around her.
"Oh my God, Buffy it's really you," sobbed Joyce.
"It's me, mom," Buffy cried back.
After a very long moment they broke the embrace. Willow approached next, already crying. "Buffy, I missed you so much," she cried.
"I missed you too, Will," Buffy said, hugging her friend tightly.
Xander was next. "Hi Buff," he said quietly, with tears in his eyes. They hugged tightly.
"I missed you too, Xand," she whispered back.
Finally she was facing Giles. They hugged wordlessly. When they pulled back, Giles was crying too. "I'm so sorry Buffy," he said quietly. He didn't have to say what he was apologizing for.
Buffy touched his arm. "It's okay. I've actually realized that a lot of what you said was r-right," she said, brushing away as many of her tears as she could.
She felt Willow touch her arm. She turned to see Willow holding Tara's hand. "Buffy, I'd like you to meet Tara," she said.
The blonde smiled shyly at her. "H-hi Buffy," she said quietly.
Buffy smiled. "Hi Tara." Even though they had never met before, they hugged anyway.
Next, Xander approached with Anya. "Buffy, this is my wife, Anya," he said, somewhat nervously.
Buffy smiled at the ex-demon. "Hi Anya."
Anya smiled slightly. "I don't understand why everyone's all teary. Just because she abandoned you for four years is no reason to revert to simpering children!"
Xander smiled sheepishly and gently pulled Anya back. "The whole art of civil conversations is still a relatively new concept to my lovely wife," he whispered to Buffy.
Buffy smiled. After a short moment of awkward silence, she realized that Angel was over talking to his friends. She smiled at her friends. "Excuse me for a minute." She walked over to Angel.
"Oh, hey, there you are," Angel said to Buffy. He kissed her quickly. "Buffy I'd like you to meet Gunn, Fred, and Lorne. And of course you know Wes and Cordelia."
Buffy shook the hands of the tall African American, the tiny Texan, and the green demon. "Hello Sweetcheeks. Angel-cakes has told us a lot about you," the flamboyantly dressed demon said. Buffy smiled. She already liked Lorne.
She turned to Wes and Cordy. She was amazed at how different they looked. When she looked at them she no longer saw the pompous Watcher and the snotty bitch. She saw two mature adults.
"Hi Cordy," she said, hugging her former sort-of friend.
"Hi Buffy. It's great to see you again," she said. And surprisingly, she really meant it.
Buffy turned awkwardly to Wesley. "Hi Wes," she said.
He smiled kindly. "Hello Buffy. It's good to see you again."
Buffy realized who was missing and turned to Angel sadly. "I'm sorry," she whispered.
He shrugged, trying to hide his obvious disappointment. "It's okay. I didn't really expect him to be here anyway."
At that moment Gunn spoke. "Angel maybe you should rethink that." He motioned for Angel to look behind him.
Angel turned around and was surprised to see his son standing there awkwardly. "Connor, hey," he said. There was a moment of silence. "It means a lot that you came."
Connor nodded. "Aren't you going to introduce me?"
Angel smiled. "Connor, I'd like you to meet Buffy. Buffy, this is my son, Connor," he said proudly.
Buffy smiled at Angel's son. "Hi Connor. It's great to meet you."
Connor gave her a once-over and half smile. "Hey." There was a moment of awkward silence.
"So Buffy, we still have so much to do before the wedding," Cordelia said. "Sometime this week you so have to come to LA so we can get the bridesmaid dresses! Have you ordered flowers yet?"
While Buffy talked wedding plans with Cordy, Angel pulled Connor aside. "Connor, it really means a lot to me that you came."
His son nodded. "Gunn told me I should come. And I wanted to meet Buffy."
Angel smiled. "Well, I wanted to ask you something." He paused. "I wanted to ask you to be my best man at the wedding."
Connor looked confused. "What's a best man?"
"It's someone who the groom chooses to stand up for him at his wedding," Angel said carefully.
Connor frowned. "What would I have to do?"
"Not much. Just get dressed up in a tux, stand up at the altar next to me, hold onto the rings. It would mean a lot to Buffy and to me," he said.
Connor looked at him. "Sure, I'll do it."
Angel breathed a huge sigh of relief. "Wow. Thanks! It's..." his voice trailed off. He put his hand on his son's shoulder. "This is going to be a new beginning for all of us."
Connor half-smiled. "I hope so."
The next two weeks went by in a blur. Buffy and Angel got temporarily settled at 1630 Revello Drive, while Joyce moved in with Giles. Although things were still a little awkward with her friends, every day Buffy felt more comfortable. The Angel Investigations gang and Connor were in LA, but Cordelia was coming to Sunnydale frequently to help with the wedding plans. Buffy felt herself beginning to really like the new Cordy. She was amazed that someone could change that much.
Soon, almost everything was in place for the wedding. The food and flowers were ordered, the church and restaurant were ready, and the bridesmaids dresses were bought. They had found the perfect gowns at the LA Boutique that Cordy had found. The seamstress there even agreed to do last minute alterations when the other half of the bridal party arrived.
Friday May 29th
4 days until the wedding
Buffy, Angel, Willow, and Cordelia stood in the middle of the LA International Airport once again. It was the Friday before the wedding, the day that Tracey, Dani, and Kristen arrived from New York and Stacey from North Dakota. The wedding was that coming Tuesday. Yes it was a weird day for a wedding, but in such short notice it was all they could get.
"Oh Buffy, the deejay called earlier, he said that you have to let him know what kind of songs you want at the reception," Cordelia said.
"Oh, and the seamstress called, she said we can come tomorrow for our final fittings," added Willow.
"And the shoe place called, our shoes are FINALLY ready!" exclaimed Cordelia.
Buffy took a deep breath. She had never known that planning one little wedding would be this complicated. She turned to Angel. "We should have eloped," she said.
Angel laughed and gave her a hug. "It'll be okay. At least you have plenty of help," he said.
Buffy smiled and turned to Cordy and Willow. "He's right. I never could have gotten all of this done without you."
Willow smiled. "We've enjoyed it!" She leaned in closer to Buffy. "Any bridesmaid experience is a piece of cake after Xander and Anya's wedding." She shuddered. "Tara and I still have nightmares about those dresses."
At that moment Buffy heard someone call her name. She turned and saw Stacey running toward her. She ran and met her old friend with a hug.
"Oh my God Lynn, it's so great to see you!" Stacey squealed. Her dark curls bounced up and down.
"You too!" Buffy said happily. "Here, come meet Angel, Willow, and Cordy."
Just then she heard someone calling her again, and saw Tracey, Kristen, and Danielle running at her full speed, bags bouncing all over the place. Buffy screamed and ran to them. They all joined in one big, group hug.
"Oh my God, I've missed you guys!" Buffy said.
"I know! And it's only been two weeks!" Tracey exclaimed.
Buffy motioned for them to come over to where Stacey was already introducing herself to Angel, Cordy, and Willow. They joined the group.
"Cordy, Willow, Stacey, this is Tracey, Kristen, and Danielle," she said, pointing to each girl as she said their name. There was a flurry of hugs and "I've heard so much about you!"s. Finally everyone was calmed down.
"Ok. Well now that you all know each other, there is a lot to do. We have to head back to Sunnydale," Buffy said. "Last one to the car is wearing the bridesmaid dress from Anya's wedding!"
Willow and Cordelia screeched and started to jog, but not without giving a quick explanation to the New York girls, who started to run with them. Stacey, not understanding or caring, walked behind with Buffy and Angel. She leaned in to Angel.
"Is it true that you used to be a vampire?" she whispered.
Buffy sighed. She had just told Stacey the full, un-edited version of her life a few days ago. She knew that all 4 girls were in for some surprises in Sunnydale.
Tuesday, June 2nd, 2003
Dressing room at the Sunnydale Church
"Has anyone seen my bouquet?" Stacey called across the dressing room.
"It's over by the windows," Cordy called through a mouthful of bobby pins.
It was almost chaos in the dressing room at the Sunnydale Church. The wedding was in less than 10 minutes. Cordy was putting the finishing touches on Buffy's hair. Willow and Tracey, who to Buffy's pleasure had been getting along great, were adjusting Buffy's dress. Stacey was plumping up her bouquet, Kristen was putting on her shoes, and Danielle was fixing her makeup.
Cordy put the final bobby pin in Buffy's hair, and gave it one more blast of hair spray. "There! That's not going anywhere." She stepped back to look at the bride. "You look so beautiful." Meanwhile everyone had finished what they were doing and was staring at Buffy. "Angel is going to flip," Tracey added with a wink.
Buffy was wearing a strapless, white satin gown with beading details in all the right places. The A-line skirt gave her a long, flowing line, and the bouquet of perfect white roses in her hand pulled everything together perfectly. Her hair was swept up with her small veil flowing down from it. She really did look like a princess.
Buffy smiled, swallowing back the pending tears. "You guys don't look so bad yourselves." All the bridesmaids wore light blue, spaghetti strap, A-Line gowns and carried smaller versions of Buffy's bouquet. Tracey and Willow wore a variation on the simple dress. Theirs were strapless, with a strip of white satin just above the waist.
"Oh my God!" Cordelia screamed, ruining the moment.
Buffy became alarmed. "What!?!"
"You don't have something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue!" Cordelia shrieked.
Buffy laughed. "Calm down! We went over this back at the house, when you were in the bathroom." She smoothed her dress. "My dress is new, my earrings from my mom are old," she said, gently touching the slightly dangly diamonds that her mom had just passed down to her. "My beautiful bracelet is borrowed from Tracey," she said, holding up her arm to show off the sparkly diamond bracelet that Tracey's dad had given her when she got accepted to Columbia. "And my garter is blue," she added with a wink. Cordelia breathed a sigh of relief.
Tracey winked back. "One of the many souvenir of your bachelorette party," she said mischievously.
Buffy grinned as she thought about the previous night. Her bridal party, along with Fred, Tara, and Anya, had gone to the Bronze for her bachelorette party, where they had enjoyed dancing and drinks. Buffy had also received some quite memorable gifts. Along with the blue garter from Stacey, she had received a pair of handcuffs from Anya ("Xander and I have great pleasure with ours," she had said, causing everyone to buy more drinks) and a matching corset and panties set from Tracey to wear on her wedding night. She didn't even want to know what the guys had done for Angel's bachelor party.
Just then there was a knock at the door. Buffy jumped. "Is it time already? Oh my God, oh my God," she said frantically.
Willow looked at the clock. "Not yet...I'll see who it is," she said, hurrying to the door.
"If that's Angel trying to get a peek at his bride before the wedding, I'll-" Cordelia threatened.
Willow turned around and smiled. "It's just your mom." She opened the door, and Joyce walked in, looking lovely as mother of the bride. She stopped in her tracks when she saw her daughter.
"Buffy, you look...you look so beautiful," her mom said.
Buffy felt the tears come to her eyes once again. "So do you mom."
Joyce walked over and gave her daughter a careful hug, making sure not to muss her gown. When they pulled away, Joyce pulled a newspaper clipping from her purse and handed it to Buffy. "Everyone is here. One of your co-workers, I think her name was Donna, told me to give that to you before the ceremony," Joyce said.
Buffy looked at the newspaper clipping. It was from Friday's issue of the Tribune. The headline read, "Four New York Times Workers Press Sexual Harassment Charges Against Editor-in-Chief." Buffy smiled triumphantly as she read the small article. She took special notice of the ending. "The four women say they were inspired to come forward after reading an editorial by former Tribune Assistant Crime Editor Lynn Herring. Mr. Dempsey is temporarily suspended from his position while he awaits the trial." Wordlessly she passed the clipping to Tracey. She grinned as she read it.
"You did it girl," she said, giving her friend a high-five. Just then there was another knock at the door.
"Buffy, it's time," Giles called from outside.
Buffy froze. Panic ran through her mind, but then she realized that within the hour she would be Mrs. Angel O'Leary. She smiled at her friends and her mother. "I'm ready," she said confidently. One by one, she hugged her friends. "I love you guys," she said, choking up.
"Oh no you don't. We don't have time to fix your makeup! Come on," Cordelia said, half pushing Buffy out the door.
Angel paced back and forth in the other dressing room. "Connor, do you have the rings?"
"For the fifth time, yes," his son said impatiently. He pulled at his bowtie again. "I don't understand why I have to wear this thing," he said.
"You can take it off after the ceremony. Giles, is it time yet?" Angel said nervously.
The older man smiled at him. "Not quite yet. Just calm down. Everything is going to be perfect."
Angel stopped pacing for a moment. "I know. It's just...I want everything to be perfect for Buffy," he said quietly. "She deserves this."
Giles touched his shoulder. "I know she does." He looked at the clock again. "Well, I suppose it's time for you and Connor to be getting in your positions," he said. At that moment, Angel heard the music change, and he knew that he was right.
Angel took a deep breath. "Ready Connor?"
"Ok. Well, here we go," Angel said. He walked out of the dressing room with his son.
The door to Buffy's dressing room opened. Giles was speechless when he saw her. "Buffy you look..." his voice trailed off.
She smiled. "I'll take that as a compliment."
Joyce gave Buffy one last quick hug. "I have to go sit down now. Good luck honey," she said. Then she started down the aisle.
Buffy craned her neck. "Are Angel and Connor already down there?"
"Yes. We are starting any minute. You girls should get lined up," Giles said to the bridesmaids. The girls scurried around. Buffy looked at Giles as she took his arm.
"I never thought that this day would be happening," she said, trying not to cry.
Giles smiled gently. "I don't think any of us did." At that moment they started playing the processional music. Stacey started down the aisle. Buffy felt her heart begin to race.
"This is really it," she said. Now Danielle had started down the aisle. She was followed by Kristen and Cordelia. Willow and Tracey turned back and smiled at Buffy one last time before they too walked down the aisle. Giles looked at her.
"Are you ready?"
She nodded confidently. "Yes."
Angel stood there nervously as Buffy's friends walked down the aisle. When it was Cordelia's turn, their eyes locked, and she grinned at him. He felt some of his nerves begin to disappear.
He watched as Tracey and Willow walked down the aisle side by side. He knew that Buffy had been thrilled with how great the two girls had been getting along the past few days. She had been worried that her two best friends might clash. But she had obviously worried for nothing. By the time he had finished his thought, the two girls had reached the altar. The music changed to the Bridal March. The small crowd stood up. Then Buffy appeared at the end of the aisle, and he gasped. She looked so beautiful. And in a few minutes, they would be married.
He felt a lump form in his throat as he locked eyes with his bride-to-be. She smiled at him, and he smiled back.
Buffy tried to control her urge to cry as she walked down the aisle. As they approached the front of the church, she tore her eyes away from Angel's to look at her guests. She immediately spotted Professor Strang, and she smiled at the kind woman. If it hadn't been for her it was very likely she wouldn't be here today.
She spotted a group from the Tribune sitting near the back. A few friends from Columbia were also there. In the first few rows she saw Xander, Anya, Tara, and her mom. She was slightly surprised to see her dad there as well. She had invited him, but she hadn't really expected him to come. Wesley, Gunn, Fred, and Lorne, green skin partially hidden by a big coat and sunglasses, sat near them.
Before she knew it she had reached the altar. She managed not to cry while Giles gave her away. She stepped up to the altar and handed her bouquet to Willow while Tracey smoothed her dress. She took Angel's hands. She smiled shakily at him.
"You look so beautiful," he whispered to her. She felt the first tear run down her cheek.
"I wish I could kiss you now," he said, only half joking.
She smiled. "You have to wait for that part." They were forced to be quiet as the minister began the ceremony.
"Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to join Buffy Summers and Angel O'Leary in holy matrimony."
The first part of the ceremony went by in a blur. The rings were exchanged, and finally it was time for the vows.
"The couple has written their own vows," the priest said. "Angel?"
Angel took a deep breath. "From the moment I saw you I knew that you would be mine," he began. "Over time, I grew to love you like I've never loved anyone else."
"But then I lost you. I was terrified that I would never see you again. I swore to myself that I would not give up until I found you." He smiled. "And then, by some miracle, I did. We found our way back to each other, and it has led up to this moment." He took a breath. "Buffy Summers, I will always love you. I promise to never let you go ever again."
Tears were running down Buffy's cheeks by this point. "Buffy?" the minister said.
She wiped her eyes. "Wow." She took a deep breath. "Angel, I also promise to never let you go ever again. The past few months that I have been with you have been the best months of my life. And I am ready to spend the rest of my life loving you. It took us a lot to get here today, and..." she paused to wipe more tears from her face. "And I am never going to let go of what we have now." Angel felt a tear fall down his own face.
"Angel O'Leary, do you take this woman to be your lawfully wedded wife, in sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer, for better or for worse, as long as you both shall live?"
Angel smiled at his beautiful bride. "I do."
"Buffy Summers, do you take this man to be your lawfully wedded husband, in sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer, for better or for worse, as long as you both shall live?"
She smiled through the tears. "I do."
"By the power bested in me by the state of California, I now pronounce you husband and wife. You may now kiss your bride."
Angel put his arms around his bride, and they shared a long kiss. Everyone in the chapel stood up and cheered. Then they pulled apart and she took his hand, taking her bouquet back from a crying Willow. "I love you, Mrs. O'Leary," he said with a grin.
She grinned back. "I love you, Mr. O'Leary."
They walked down the aisle, past their smiling family and friends. When they reached the end, the doors opened to reveal a beautiful, sunny day.
They smiled at each other one more time. And together they walked into the sun.
The wedding was everything that Buffy had ever wanted. The reception was wonderful, from the first dance, to the toasts, to Tracey catching the bouquet. And the wedding night...well it was perfection.
Buffy and Angel left for their week long honeymoon in Hawaii the day after the wedding. They had a wonderful time, and Angel experienced his first sunburn. When they arrived back home, Buffy secured a job at the Sunnydale Press as crime editor. They moved into a nice house on the outskirts of Sunnydale.
That summer, Buffy got the inspiration to attempt becoming an author during a conversation with Professor Strang. She realized that the story of her relationship with Angel, told from a different perspective, would be interesting reading. She could use the supernatural elements, and just pretend that she had added them to make it more intriguing. She spent three months writing her novel. It was about a vampire slayer named Serena who moved to Sunnydale to start fresh. There she met Devon, and they fell in love. She used most of the real details of her first three years in Sunnydale in the book. When she reached the part where she went to North Dakota, she used Angel's recollections on his years without her to alternate the points of view in the novel. She ended the book with the wedding of Serena and Devon. After careful consideration, she titled her book Forbidden Love.
After her novel was finished, she began the difficult process of getting it published. After a few disappointments, she found a publishing company who was willing to publish her masterpiece. Forbidden Love hit the shelves on November 8, 2003. The book was an instant success. Readers across the country became entranced by the love story of Serena and Devon. Buffy made enough money from the book to never work again, but she kept her position at the Press, as she still enjoyed crime reporting.
In February of 2004, West Coast Films offered Buffy a three million dollar deal to produce a movie version of Forbidden Love. She accepted on one condition: that the part of Serena be given to Tracey. Filming began in April and wrapped in July. The movie was slated for a December release.
Everyone who was anyone attended the premiere. The audience loved the movie, and Buffy was thrilled by the correct portrayal of her true story. Tracey's acting was acclaimed by critics everywhere, and within days she was receiving offers from primetime tv shows and movie scripts. But the most important thing happened right there at the premiere: Buffy announced to the world that she was pregnant.
The film was a complete success. Tracey landed several large movie roles, and became an A-List actress. Buffy quit her job at the Sunnydale Press so she could stay home with her child when it was born. However she became a major sponsor of the Press and the Manhattan Tribune.
As for Harold Dempsey, he was found guilty on five counts of sexual harassment. The owners of the paper immediately removed him from his position, and he spent a year in jail. But the New York Times took a major hit from the scandal, and they lost 20% of their subscribers. The number of Tribune subscribers increased 30%.
Angel Investigations remained in business, run by Cordelia and Wesley. Connor became an effective part of the AI team, and traveled to Sunnydale regularly to stay with his father and stepmother. Xander became the owner of his own construction business, while Anya continued to work at the Magic Box. Willow and Tara went on a tour of the world, and eventually settled in a house near Buffy and Angel's. Giles and Joyce moved in together, and proceeded to spoil their grandchild rotten before it was even born. Kristen broke up with her boyfriend of two years, but was quickly climbing the ranks at the bio lab. Danielle enjoyed her job at the Historical Society, and became a cheerleading coach for young girls at the community center.
Serena Lynn O'Leary was born on July 22nd, 2005. Buffy and Angel adjusted to life with a child quite easily, and enjoyed every moment of parenting. They knew that they would have many more challenges to face, but what did it matter? They were living the good life.