HOW LIKE A FALLEN ANGEL – CHAPTER 11

We spent the next couple of days recovering. Willow, Oz and Faith had come through with the least physical damage, although Faith was embarrassed by the fact that she had passed out and Willow was still feeling awful about going all psycho. Dawn and I were up and about the next day, good thing too since I was the only functional Seraph on the planet. We were a trifle busy taking care of all that needed care. In a couple of days Janice was back to functional, although she still had some demons to work out over the torture that she suffered, and what she had done to the acolyte. It was Daniel that was occupying the doctors' attention, as well as that of Willow and Dawn and I. We were all working to save him. He was burned over much of his body and that was being healed, but his spirit was sick, he did not seem to wish to recover. Finally I'd had enough; I went in to see him, practically bristling with anger.

"Why are you still here?"

He looked up at me; I honestly think he couldn't believe his ears. "I'm still injured."

"You could have healed days ago; so while you lie idly here, Janice and I are wearing ourselves thin doing your job and our own."

He looked hurt, and a bit angry. "I absorbed this saving your life as well as Dawn's."

"True, but were you looking to save our lives; or were you simply looking for death and this was the first opportunity that presented itself?"

He raised himself up, wincing at the pain. "I should thrash you for even suggesting that."

I leaned in with a sneer and said "then why don't you?"

"You had better not be here when I can get up."

"Maybe, but you're fighting to live now; aren't you?" In addition to being telepathic, we can communicate a lot with body language and nuance of phrase. Basically I had just told him he was acting like a putz.

He continued to look wrathy as a rattlesnake for a second and then understanding smoothed his features, and he even managed a little chuckle.

"Thank you" he said as I turned to leave his room.

"You're welcome" I answered "and I'm looking forward to you thrashing me".

He laughed again as I left.

Dr. Bement had heard a bit of our little talk, and asked "what was all that about?"

"Daniel was feeling guilty; I reminded him what was really important."

"What does he have to feel guilty about?"

"He left Dawn to suffer back in April, but then she risked almost certain death to rescue him. Obviously that weighed a bit on his soul."

"So he's going to be fine now?"

"Yeah, I reminded him what the focus of his life should be, and not to dwell on the past. That the rest of the world is more important than his ego."

"Thanks, he had me a bit worried."

"No problem, hey, how's Jenn doing?"

"She should be able to start training again tomorrow."

"Thanks Doc."

"Hey, that's why you all pay me, right."

I wandered out, just enjoying the sun. Most of the trainees had headed back to their homes, better equipped to survive than they had been. Jenn was still there, and she would be for a while; but the others were due to leave in the next couple of days. Even the studio was quiet. The last few tracks had been recorded and the album was now in post production somewhere over in the States. Most of the band was scattered around the world, but of course Oz was still around. He and Willow had been practically inseparable since the fight. I guess he was trying to help her control her dark side, something he knew a lot about.

After dinner, Dawn, Faith, Buffy and me went out dancing. My leg was still a bit game, but we had fun. At one point someone fired up the Karaoke machine, but we decided against singing, hey sometimes you just wanna dance.

During one of my assignments I had stopped by Scotland and picked up my Harley. Every now and again Dawn and I would go riding through the mountains of northern Spain.

Work was still there, but it was almost a time of letdown. After the horrific events that we had survived, work just seemed routine. I know it wasn't, especially for the people that we helped, but I had realized that for me to be happy, I needed challenge. That doesn't mean I did stupid stuff or went without Dawn just for kicks; I wasn't reckless, but I was restless. I had an idea that I wanted to try, but I wasn't sure about it. Truth be told, I was a bit scared.

The rest of June went by in this kind of anti-climactic blur. Daniel healed and returned to work and Dawn and I were working steadily right up till the First of July. Dawn had headed up there about the 28th of June so I was on my own a couple of days, but there were no troubles.

I finished up rescuing a family in Sri Lanka and headed to Scotland. Lucky me, I got there right in time for the bachelor party.

We were in the back room of the Boar and Hounds. Unfortunately time had not helped the quality of the food, but the company was good. Thank God there were no strippers or anything like that, but there was a huge amount of drinking. I stuck with beer, but everyone was indulging pretty heavily. Scotch seemed to be the drink of choice, but a little of everything was had that night. When everyone was good and lubricated, the evil Karaoke machine was brought out for everyone's mutual humiliation. I wish I had brought a recording device with me, because I would be swimming in blackmail money if I had. I guess the highlight of the night (if you want to call it that) was Xander and Giles singing Abba's 'Take a Chance on Me'. Oz and I went up together and did a decent job on 'Surfer Girl' by the Beach Boys; but that was the only official singing I did. Of course I sang along with the pub songs, but that doesn't really count because I was being drowned out by twenty very squiffy and out of tune Brits. About three in the morning, Oz and I finally managed to pry Xander out of there and get him back to Veritas. We made sure he was in bed and out cold, when we knocked off ourselves. That night had been fun, but beyond that; it had really helped me get to know this very quiet guy. I was aware of the forces at work inside him, and the struggle he went through to keep them in check, I found myself admiring him greatly.

I was so out of it that I didn't even wake up when Dawn came home. So it was with a rather wicked enthusiasm that I woke her up at eight in the morning.

"Hey Bella Alba, rise and shine."

"Go away Ian."

I got up and opened the curtains and then sat on the side of the bed "how was the party?"

She just groaned and rolled away from the light.

I pulled the top layer of covers off and started rubbing her back. "Come on, what disreputable things did you do last night?"

"Nothing too disreputable" she answered; "a bit of dancing."

"Were you onstage with the stripper?"

She turned a very endearing shade of pink; "he may have made an appearance."

"And how many of your clothes did you manage to loose because it was so hot up there?"

"One or two things, damn you know me too well; or was there a spy?"

"No spy, but Faith helped plan it, so I knew there would be strippers, and I do know you well enough to know that you would do something like that to loosen up your friend. I know you're willing to sacrifice a bit of dignity to make her feel at ease. So how naked were you?"

"Not naked, just a bit underclothed."

"So, panties and bra?"

"Hey I had shoes and socks on too, and a scarf around my neck."

I just laughed; I could picture her up on the stage, having a great time. "Come on sleepy up and at 'em."

I finally worked her out of bed, and we showered up, not taking too much extra time. The wedding was on the grounds of the estate, and for a change, the weather was actually co-operating, either that or Willow had made sure it would be gorgeous. Well for whatever reason, you couldn't have asked for a more perfect day.

The wedding was scheduled for two in the afternoon, so of course I was getting my tux on at noon. What can I say, I hate being late for anything. I knew that Dawn and the girls were getting ready somewhere else, so I took the opportunity to just sit back and watch the whole thing come together.

I had to deal with a bit of an emergency when Spazz and Annie decided that the caterer was suspicious and decided to follow him around barking to make sure we all shared their sentiments. I dealt with the dogs, and talked the guy into not quitting on the spot, but other than that, the wedding ran like a Swiss watch. We didn't run into any trouble until the reception was about to start. That's when Dawn came up to me and asked an important question.

"Where's the band, Ian?"

"How should I know?"

"Weren't you told to pick them up?"

"Nope, nobody ever mentioned picking up the band."

"You're joking."

"Dawn, I can't lie, I can't forget either; so believe me when I tell you that no-one ever mentioned picking up the band, at least not to me."

"Shit, we've got thirty minutes until the reception officially starts and there's no band. What the hell are we gonna do, steal the Karaoke machine from the pub? That'll be great, the wedding party up on stage singing to the bride and groom."

I was trying to think of a solution, when a bit of what she said registered. "Dawn, you're a genius."

"What?"

"We'll be the band, Faith, Buffy, Janice, Oz, me, you, and whoever we can find to play the keyboards. Janice and I can pop down to the studio, get our instruments and be back here in under half an hour. We'll be the band; come on, we've got to sound better than anyone they could hire. What do you think?"

She looked thoughtful for a second, "sounds like a plan."

Mentally I summoned Janice over, and was surprised when Daniel showed up as well.

"I didn't feel you arrive."

"British Rail, I was in Surrey finishing up an assignment and remembered Buffy had said something about the wedding, so I decided to crash".

"Cool, you able to lend a hand fetching some instruments."

"Seems the least I could do for them, so sure."

The three of us 'caught the express' down to Spain and picked up the equipment that we needed. We then popped back up to Scotland and started to set up. Fortunately Oz had gotten word of what was going on and had already started stringing the cable and electric that we would need.

I was setting up the keyboard when I asked "do we actually know anyone that plays keyboards?"

"I do" said Daniel "it's been a while, but I'm not bad."

"All right then, let's get this party started."

So the lineup was Janice on Tenor Sax (which was almost as big as she was), Oz on Bass, Buffy behind the skins, me on the Guitar and Daniel on the Keyboards. Faith and Dawn took turns with the vocals, and even though I'm biased, it sounded pretty good. We went through some softer versions of Motown hits and things like Clapton's 'Wonderful Tonight' and 'Dedicated to the One I Love' by the Mama's and Papa's. We played into the night, riffing just about every song any of us knew. One of the things I noticed while playing were the looks being exchanged between Buffy and Daniel. I knew that she had helped him a lot while he was recovering; I stood there hoping it was something a bit more than friendship, for both their sakes. Also while I was playing I had come to a decision, I had thought about everything that had happened in the last few years and one obvious course of action became clearer and clearer.

We had announced that this would be the last song, and eased into U2's 'All I Want is You' with Dawn taking the lead because Faith was dancing with one of the Council members (hey, they weren't all old farts).

As Dawn worked through the last few bars, her voice just above a throaty whisper; I unplugged and walked up to her. From behind, I put my right arm around her waist and leaned into her left ear.

"Dawn Summers, will you marry me" I asked quietly.

She looked down to see that I had an engagement ring in my left hand, and then she turned and looked at me. She saw that I was completely serious; tears sprang into her eyes and she started to speak, but couldn't seem to manage it. As for me, I was lost in her sky blue eyes as I stood there waiting for her reply.

GOODBYE, FAREWELL AND AMEN

Any more would be the story of a couple and not two people discovering each other. Not that there isn't romance in that as well, but let's give the lovebirds a bit of privacy, OK.