Note: This is the third and final installment in my "Just Another" series. It's been finished for ages but I guess I forgot to post it here. Oops! You will definitely want to read "Just Another Moonlit Beach" first and then "Just Another Fool In Love" before you start this one or you'll have no idea what's going on. :p
Just Another Happy Ending
(3rd in the "Just Another…" Series)
The first time it happened was just over two years ago. We'd been together almost two years then, me and B. Two years, man! Crazy, right? It seemed fucking unreal to me then cos I never thought in my entire life I'd be so happy, especially with Buffy Summers at my side.
We were though. Had the whole blissful thing goin' on too. Goin' to Scotland after that dream we had on the beach was the best decision I ever made in my life. It was the best new beginning ever, and hey . . . ya didn't hear this from me but I might even be startin' to believe in that whole happy ending thing. What can I say? Buffy has me believing in all kindsa crazy things these days, including myself.
But before I get too far ahead of myself, we need to go back two years ago.
There we were sittin hand-in-hand at some beautiful restaurant watching Kennedy and Willow sayin their homemade vows. I'm not shittin you either. Kennedy was gung-ho about Willow from the beginning, and though it took almost three years for her to realize it, Willow finally realized that Kennedy was her happy ending too. Red's family decided to boycott; they couldn't accept the fact that their perfect little Jewish daughter didn't want to marry a perfect little Jewish man. Guess that's why Kennedy's family footed the bill and made sure that the girls had the best of everything. I'm talkin' Dom Perignon in crystal glasses, string quartet, a live band, more flowers than a fuckin greenhouse, and two kinds of meats for dinner.
Two kinds of meats!
Holy shit, I don't even need to tell you that I made a fool outta myself eatin' everything in sight.
I was in fuckin heaven, except for the part where I was uncomfortable all night cos it was all so fancy and I had no clue what to do with myself. I used the salad fork for my prime rib and my shrimp fork for my salad – which I only pretended to eat anyway – but B didn't care. She didn't say a word about it or about the fact that I kept having the waiters bring me more food.
And I mighta had some of hers too if we're bein' completely honest here, but she didn't care. All she could do was keep looking around and commenting about how beautiful everything was and about how happy she was for Willow and Kennedy. I was about halfway through my third piece of prime rib when the comments started.
"I'd never have a live band," she said under her breath, one of her arms looped through mine as my other was busy shoveling steak in my mouth. "It's so awkward for people to dance to."
So I looked up and followed her line of sight to the dance floor, and sure enough Willow was busy dancing awkwardly along to the band's rendition of Walking on Sunshine by Katrina and the Waves. I'm gonna go ahead and tell ya something though, and keep your mouth shut about it cos B would kick my ass if she knew I said anything: live band, DJ, radio – it doesn't matter. If there's any kind of music playing? Red's dancing awkwardly.
I just kinda laughed and went back to eating. Luckily for me, Xander was at the same table as us and he was as much into the two kinds of meat as I was. We were the only two fuckers still eating in the entire place. His date – Renee, one of the younger slayers – didn't seem to care either. While me and Xan ate, Renee and B started talking about how they envisioned their own weddings. Me and Xan just kept looking warily at each other as our girls discussed their non-existent weddings.
After all, I knew I wasn't marriage material and Xander thought the same thing of himself. He didn't wanna put another girl through what he and Anya went through.
Guess people change though cos it was less than two years later when I found myself sitting at a round table in some kinda banquet hall with B at my side, watching Xander and Renee share their first dance together as husband and wife. A DJ was playing their favorite song and that instantly got Buffy's seal of approval.
"See? It's all about the DJ. He plays the songs you like exactly as you know them, there are no bad singers or middle-aged men jumping around playing the guitar and trying to impress the bridesmaids; it's just so much better."
"Gotta agree with ya there, B. Wonder if the guy takes requests. This party could use a little Nine Inch Nails."
And that's when it happened the second time. Honestly, I shoulda seen it coming. I'd set myself up for it. It was just a little bit different than when it happened at Red's wedding.
"Remind me not to let you pick the music at our wedding," she said easily, not even noticing what she'd said as she continued to watch Xander and Renee dance.
My eyebrows shot up so high that they nearly blasted right the hell offa my head. When I stole a glance over at her I realized that she hadn't even noticed my reaction cos she was too wrapped up in wedded bliss. Her hand was looped through my arm and she squeezed it gently, just a little loving gesture that managed to pull me outta my temporary panic mode. I flexed my bicep and leaned over to give her a kiss on her cheek. No way was I gonna freak out cos of her little slip-up. I was too crazy in love with her to let it scare me.
But the comments didn't stop there. The sit down dinner? Oh no, we weren't having that. We were gonna have stations so that people could get more food whenever they wanted. The flowers? More than Xander and Renee had and less than Red and Kennedy had. Oh, and only one kind: lilies. The DJ was good though; we could always get his number from Renee later. And the whole restaurant or banquet hall thing? That was a no. We were getting married in a park or on a beach or somewhere outside in the sun. Forget about inviting people we don't know or care about. Small and intimate was the way to go, according to B, anyhow.
It went on for most of the night and I just stayed quiet, lettin' B do the talking and dreaming and arranging. I don't know what I woulda said if I had words anyhow. Probably random grunts and terrified squeals. Not attractive at all, so I just went for strong silence with an occasional head-nod.
When it finally came time for the wedding party to have their dance, we went out on the dance floor and Buffy wrapped her arms around my neck and rested her head on my shoulder with her eyes closed. She sighed contentedly and yunno what? I'm pretty sure she was pretending that she was at our fantasy wedding.
After a few minutes she wriggled around in my arms and grunted with effort.
"This dress is so itchy. We won't pick out a dress for the girls. We'll just pick out a color and let them get their own styles."
"And what color will that be?" I asked, then immediately furrowed my brow when I realized that I was suddenly participating in this little fantasy wedding of ours.
"Lilac, of course," she answered like I was crazy for not knowing.
Of course it would be lilac. B would live in a lilac-colored world if she could.
The song went on and we continued to dance and B sighed happily again, this time letting her lips brush over the sensitive spot on my neck. My knees almost buckled and I suddenly started feeling like I was being conned.
"You tryin to work your wedding-juju on me, B?"
I felt her chuckle against me before she lifted her head from my shoulder with a guilty smile on her face.
"Not exactly, no. I'm . . . I'm sorry, Faith. I just . . . I love weddings. Always have since I was a little girl. Back before my Dad got a promotion at work when I was little and he had more time for family stuff, he used to play wedding with me. He'd walk me down the hallway – aisle – and Priest Teddy Bear would perform the ceremony between Mr. Gordo and I."
"Always knew you had an unhealthy attachment to that pig," I joked and she slapped my shoulder playfully.
"I was just your typical little girly-girl though. I always wanted to grow up and get married and have the whole fantasy wedding. But then . . ." she trailed off, her eyes focusing on some far-off place as her smile faltered.
"You got called," I finished for her and she nodded her head.
"Pretty much gave up on the whole happily ever after thing after it backfired on me a few times. I was reserved to the fact that I'd be dead before I could ever have that. Life of the slayer and all."
We fell into a bit of a silence so I did the only thing I could think of. I wrapped my arms a little tighter around her and kissed the top of her head, keeping my face buried in her hair.
"Mmm," she moaned happily. "I'm sorry for projecting my wedding fantasies on you though, baby. I guess now that I don't have to worry about dying young anymore I'm slipping back into old habits."
"You don't have to apologize. Not for somethin' like that. I just didn't know . . ." I paused to figure out what I really wanted to say. It was all a completely new area for me. ". . . I just don't know what you expect from me here, B."
There was no hiding the nervousness in my voice. I wasn't marriage material! I still wasn't fully convinced on the idea of happy endings and no way would I ever get into anything that serious and official with B if I couldn't promise her that.
She lifted her head from my shoulder and slipped her hands from around the back of my neck to my face, holding it gently as she looked into my eyes. There was the tiniest flicker of sadness in her eyes before she smiled at me. She understood where I was coming from. And though it meant that maybe she wouldn't get exactly what she wanted, at least we still had each other.
"Just love me," she said, her voice just barely above a whisper.
I turned my face to the side and kissed her palm, then turned and kissed the other before looking into her eyes.
"Always have, always will."
She smiled at me then, an honest to goodness Buffy-smile with no sadness hidden underneath, and she leaned in to give me a heartstoppingly tender kiss. The love behind it almost took my breath away. I sighed against her lips and she smiled against mine, and then she rested her head back on my shoulder and we kept on dancing. I held her as close to me as I could, our bodies pressed completely against one another's.
She didn't bring up any more fantasy wedding things that night and pretty much has left it like that for the last six months. We're happy. More happy than I could ever have imagined. If anything changed for her that night, she never let it on. I never noticed any changes in her.
Something had changed for me though. Every day I love her more, every day we're just that much happier. I proved my Ma wrong on a lot of things. I'm in love and I'm happy, two things she never thought could exist with each other (or even on their own, I think), and that got me to thinking. Maybe I was wrong about that whole happy ending thing. Maybe it's possible. I don't think it's offered on a fuckin silver platter and I think that's why I couldn't understand it or see it before. You've gotta be willin to work on it, and fight for it, and try.
And that was my problem this whole time. I was never willing to try. If ya don't try, ya can't get hurt, right?
But how the hell could I deny that chance to Buffy? The girl is my world. Shouldn't I try? For her?
It took me five months of thinking about it to realize all of that and about one month of planning and prepping to bring us to today. The weather is oddly warm in Scotland today but I kinda knew it would be, thanks to a little witchy mojo by Red.
Me and B have just been lounging around, me playing some video games while she's reading some kinda cookbook. Dude, I'm tellin ya – she could read every cookbook in the world and still not be able to make anything more complicated than toast. The girl just lacks the ability to cook but she's goin' down fighting on that one.
So anyway, we're just lounging around – which was totally planned by the way – and the sun comes out all bright and warm. The time is now or never so I suggest we go out for a walk. Now B gets excited about little stuff like that so she smiles all big and puts her cookbook back on the shelf with her hundred other useless cookbooks. But now that it's suddenly warmer outside, she wants to go and get dressed in something lighter. More summery.
Good thing I was counting on that.
"Why don't you wear that sundress you bought when you went shopping with Red last week? The cute little cream one?" I ask her, and off she goes to get changed. Knowing that I only have a few minutes before she's back, I quickly open the hall closet and pull on a pair of light colored linen capris that I'd stashed there the week before. Not exactly my usual style but I needed something better than jeans or leathers today. This white tank-top will do just fine. Besides, B likes it when I show off my arms.
No sooner than I'm changed do I hear B coming down the stairs. She comes around the corner and stops, looking me up and down appreciatively.
"Not that I'm not enjoying the new look but what's the occasion?" she asks as she circles around me, letting her fingertips brush against the material of my capris.
"Just thought something summery would be nice," I answer back vaguely and I know she's not buying it. I can't give her room to ask more questions though cos I know I can't lie to her if she pushes. "Come on; let's go before we get some typical Scotland rain showers to ruin our parade."
"We're going to a parade?" she asks as I tug her along and I can't help but chuckle at her.
"Not exactly but there is a surprise."
I have to tug her a little harder cos she started dragging her feet more when I said that.
"Faith, this isn't like your last surprise, is it? Because I don't think I can take Xander picking the lock on our handcuffs again without having some kind of mental trauma."
I stop walking and turn to face her, taking both of her hands in mine.
"Chill, B. No kinks, I promise. Just trust me, 'kay?"
She narrows one eye at me for just a second, then smiles and leans in to give me a soft kiss on my lips. "Lead the way, baby."
I smile and give her one last quick kiss before leading her out of the castle and down the familiar path we've taken a hundred times before. We make small talk, me about the way I got Kennedy in a sleeper hold two nights ago and had her snoring in front of the junior slayers and B about how the weather was just perfect – nice and warm but not warm enough to make her all 'glisten-y.'
When we get to the end of the path where we normally veer off to the left, I tug her arm towards the right and smile when she looks at me all puzzled.
"You mean we're not going down to the grove?"
"But I thought that's why you wanted me to wear the dress. The grove is where you like to . . ." she trails off and wiggles her eyebrows suggestively and I instantly know that I've been too much of a bad influence on her.
God I love this girl.
"We'll have to save it for another day, baby. I left the blanket back at the castle and I know how much you hate it when you get splinters in your ass."
She thinks about it for a second and then she nods and lets me lead her along down to the right down a path we've never taken together. I know where it leads. She knows where it leads too though she's too busy yapping away about the postcard she got from Dawn in Milan and how jealous she is that her baby sister gets to live around that many awesome stores to take notice.
I smile internally cos I know how bad she wants some time off from slay-duties to have a proper vacation. I mean, sure, we get down to London to see Giles every few months but it isn't the same. Two grown women sharing a pull-out sofabed in their Watcher's flat gets kinda tired after a while.
Oh man, she's gonna totally spaz when she finds out we're leaving for Italy tonight.
When her toes finally dig into the sand, she stops talking and takes notice of where we are. It's the beach; our beach. The one where we had our shared dream. We've never been here together apart from that night and I think B's kinda at a loss for words.
"Are we . . .?"
"Yup," I answer, just watching her face with a smile as she looks around.
"How did you know . . .?"
"Dawnie showed me where it was one time. Said that you brought her out here on your Ma's birthday. Once she showed me the basic area I figured the rest out. Kinda felt familiar, yunno?"
She looks over at me and smiles, then nods and takes a step closer to me.
"You don't mind that I'm crashin' your special place, do ya, B?"
"No, not . . . this isn't my special place, Faith. It's our special place."
"I was hoping you'd say that," I tell her.
She's about to say something when something over my shoulder gets her attention. Her brow furrows as she looks on in confusion and I know exactly what she's seeing.
"Well that wasn't here before," she says and I turn around to see two columns with flower garlands around them a bit further down the beach. There's a woman standing between them and about four chairs on either side of her.
"Let's go check it out," I say and start to tug her along with me but she doesn't budge an inch.
"Wait, we can't go down there. It looks like there's a wedding going on, or like there will be one soon anyhow." Her interest is definitely piqued. She's on her tippy toes trying to look over my shoulder at the setup.
"And what? We're not playing wedding crashers, Faith."
"Well, what if I told you I had all of that set up for us?" I ask and she looks at me with an eyebrow raised and a look of doubt on her face. "I was thinkin that maybe we could get married today."
She looks at me still and I can't wait to see the look of joy on her face but instead she breaks out into a fit of laughter. Wasn't expecting that.
"Ha, Ha, the joke's on me. I get it. Very funny! Now let's get out of here before they see us lurking," she says and tries to tug me back the way we came but I stand firm, waiting for her to turn back to me. When she does, I take her other hand in mine and look into her eyes, nervous but excited at the same time.
"No joke, B. This is a bone fide, no shit, for real kinda offer."
She studies my face for a moment before smiling like she's the smartest person in the world.
And just like I knew I'd have to, I'm gonna have to do this the old-fashioned way to show her I'm serious.
I drop down onto one knee and let go of one of her hands. My eyes never leave hers as I dip my fingers into my left pocket and pull out a ring. The sun catches it perfectly, making it sparkle in her eyes.
"Faith . . ." she says, her voice a soft whisper as she finally meets my eyes again.
"Never thought I could be one of those lucky happy people but you changed that for me. Don't know what I did to deserve you but I'm never lettin' ya get away." I lean down and kiss her ring finger and then slip the ring on it before looking up into her eyes again. "Will you marry me, Buffy?"
She looks from my eyes to her slightly shaking hand, staring at the ring in disbelief.
"You're messing with me," she says, her voice barely a whisper. "I know you are because you know I'd never get married without my friends and . . ."
"Hi Buffy," comes a voice from behind us, interrupting her. I smile when I see Willow and Dawnie walking up in their matching lilac sun-dresses, small bouquets of white lilies in their hands.
Dawn hugs Buffy from the side and kisses her cheek while Willow hands her a slightly bigger bouquet of the same lilies. B's shocked and confused and completely blown away. She looks back to me with a questioning look on her face and I can only keep smiling at her.
"Marry me, Buffy," I say rather than ask. Never thought I'd get those words out so easily but there they are.
And I'm not scared about it anymore.
There are tears in her eyes now and she looks from me, to Dawn and Willow, then to the wedding setup to see Kennedy, Andrew, Wood, Xander and Renee watching us from their seats.
"You're not joking?"
"Dead serious here."
And then she's in my arms and I'm trying to stand up so we both don't fall over into the sand. She's kissin me like it's the end of the world and I can taste her salty tears on my lips. God, she's such a chick.
And she's all mine.
"That a yes then?" I mumble out between kisses.
"Mm-hmm," she mumbles back. I can feel her smiling against my lips and I know I'm gonna spend the rest of my life tryin' to make her as happy as she makes me.
The sound of someone clearing his throat behind us gets Buffy's attention and she looks back to see Giles standing there cleaning off his glasses with a sly smile on his face.
"I believe that, traditionally, the kiss comes after the ceremony."
And then Buffy is out of my arms and hugging Giles like nobody's business. No way did I wanna let her go but I've got places to be, yunno? So while she's hugging G, I walk towards the columns and take my place next to the Officiant. Chaplain? I dunno what the hell to call her. Let's just stick to wedding lady.
By the time I get to my spot and turn around, I see Buffy and Giles walking down the beach arm-in-arm, her eyes never leaving mine the whole time. Andrew's weeping like a chick and Wood's busy tryin' to calm him down so I don't try to bury him in the sand.
Just before they make it to us, Willow walks down the middle aisle between the two groups of chairs, then Dawnie follows after her. Xander is sitting with one arm around Renee and with his other hand placed on her tiny little baby bump, a big proud smile on his face with all of the family here together today.
Yeah, that's right. We're family, each and every one of us. I wouldn't have this day any other way.
Andrew rests his head on Dawn's shoulder when she sits down next to him, trying to control his sobs as B and Giles finally reach us and walk down the makeshift aisle together. They stop once they're next to me and Giles turns to B, giving her a hug and a kiss on her forehead. When he pulls back, he takes her hand in his and puts it in mine, a proud smile on his face.
I give him two minutes before he's sobbing along with Andrew, mark my word on that. I just hope Dawnie can hold up with two heavy heads on her shoulders.
B's stopped cryin now and she's just smiling like she's the happiest girl in the world. Not sure about the happiest; maybe the second happiest after me.
Yeah, you can kick my ass for goin' all soppy later. I've got a wedding to get to first.
The wedding lady starts the ceremony, beginning with a little story from Greek mythology. She says that when humans first walked the earth, they had four legs, four arms, and two heads. Fucking weird, right? I'm starting to wonder about what kinda crackpot I hired to marry us but then she continues. See, Zeus was apparently pissed off one day and started hurling down thunder and lightning bolts from the heavens. The bolts split the people in half and sent them flying off to different points in the land.
Still feelin shaky about the wedding lady but then she gets into the good stuff. After the people were split in two, they wandered around the earth looking for their missing half. Some of them got lucky and found that other half. They'd get married, uniting them as one again.
So see, this is what humans are destined to do. We walk around looking for the person that completes us. It's not always easy, and it's not always pretty. Sometimes we pick the person we think is right simply out of fear of being alone.
Me? I know I've got the right person. From the minute I met B I felt like she was everything that I was missing in life. The light to my dark, the yin to my yang, the peanut butter to my jelly.
Guess I was right; I really am one of the lucky ones.
The wedding lady keeps on talking and as much as I'm tryin to listen, I'm only gettin' like a quarter of everything she's sayin. I'm too busy looking at B who's still smiling at me, wondering how any person could be that beautiful inside and out. She's everything in this world that I love and I know without a doubt I made the best decision ever when I started planning the wedding.
She can kick my ass later for leaving her out of the planning but I knew she'd drive herself crazy going over the details. The way she's looking at me now with tears in her eyes though? I know it's not something she won't get over, and fast.
The wedding lady says something and Dawnie stands up, leaving Giles and Andrew to comfort one another. She walks up to Buffy and gives her the platinum band that I picked out for myself. Buffy takes the ring and looks back to me, a brilliant smile on her face. When the wedding lady asks her a question, Buffy slowly slips the ring on my finger and nods,
And I swear to god I've never felt as girly in my entire life. My knees are weak and there's like a whole flock of butterflies in my stomach tryin to make me lose my cool. No way can I do that though cos even though I can't hear what the wedding lady is saying now over the sound of my heart beating in my ears, I see Xander get up from his chair and walk over to me. That's my cue. I take the platinum and diamond band from him and look over at Buffy.
This is it. In this one moment I get to prove to my Ma - and more importantly to myself - that she was wrong. That love does exist. That happiness does exist. It's not always easy to find and people fuck it up more often than not. Hey, I know that firsthand. But it's there, and sometimes all ya gotta do is shut your eyes, plug your nose, hold onto your ass and take the plunge.
It's been worth every minute.
Buffy gives my hand a soft squeeze and I can't help but smile at her. I've found my other half and now I'm gonna spend the rest of my life just loving her. Doesn't get any better than that.
As the wedding lady wraps up her little speech and asks me the question everyone's been waiting for, I can't help but ask myself my own question: Do I finally believe in happy endings?
Buffy smiles at me and the answer comes clear and easy in two little words.