Laughter To Replace The Tears
Pairings: B/Aus, C/Aus, B/S friendship
Mentioned: W/O, A/X, F/S
Feedback: Please. Constructive criticism is always welcomed and appreciated.
Disclaimer: I do not own anything associated with BtVS.(Characters, plots, and dialogue from the show are borrowed with no infringement intent whatsoever.)
Distribution: Please ask and let me know where it's going.
Summary: At a time when Buffy has lost all hope Spike steps in and convinces her that life is still worth living. Contains all human characters. This story is not Cordelia friendly. If this offends you, you might not want to read this story.
A/N: Thoughts are in single quotes ('').
Buffy didn't know how her life had gone so terribly wrong so quickly. She and Angelus had been so happy together that summer leading up to her senior year in high school. Looking back on events that led up to today, she tried to piece things together in her mind. She had had a wonderful, sweet and caring boyfriend in Angelus, great friends in Willow, Xander, Anya, Oz, Faith, Spike and Cordelia, she thought.
She remembered the summer following her freshman year at Hemery High School in Los Angeles when she and her mother and her sister first moved to Sunnydale from LA. They had all been miserable in LA with her abusive and cheating father so that once her parents' divorce was final, her mother decided to take advantage of the opportunity to own her own art gallery and the three of them felt that moving to a new town was just what they all needed for a fresh start.
She met Willow and Xander her first day at her new school, Sunnydale High, and they seemed to click right away. It was the same with her other friends, Oz, Anya, Faith and Spike. Cordelia wasn't exactly her friend, but they weren't enemies either; the two of them were friendly rivals. Cordelia's personality took some getting used to, but once she looked beyond the surface, Buffy saw her as a decent person.
Faith disagreed and said so. "You'd better watch your back with her, B," Faith had warned; "that chick doesn't like you. She doesn't like anyone that she views as a threat to her status and popularity; hell she thinks she rules this school and everybody in it."
Willow also disagreed, but her comments were less critical than Faith's. From her first day at the school, Buffy got the distinct impression that Willow was actually afraid of Cordelia.
As time passed and the rivalry continued, neither girl mentioned Faith's warning again and Buffy soon forgot about it.
By the time their junior year in high school started Willow and Oz were a couple, as were Xander and Anya, Faith and Spike. Buffy and Cordelia seemed to be the only ones in the group that were unattached, so to speak.
One day Faith was teasing the two of them about not having boyfriends, when Cordelia made the boast that she could have any man she wanted, even if he was seeing someone else, she could take him if she wanted him, "and the only reason you girls have somebody at all is because I wouldn't look twice at any of your loser boyfriends."
"Honestly, Cordy, that was really harsh; you really have a high opinion of yourself, don't you?." Buffy told her.
"Yeah, Buffy, unlike you who have no self esteem, you're such a loser you couldn't even find another loser who wanted you," was Cordy's comeback as she turned and walked off before Buffy could reply.
"I told you before, B, that chick does not like you," Faith told Buffy repeating the words she had spoken to her before.
After that the whole friendship/rivalry relationship between Buffy and Cordelia began to change for the worse. The rest of their junior year continued more or less without major confrontations. Cordelia distanced herself from the group and became closer to some of the other more popular girls at school, like Harmony and Amy and, as was usual, she spent her summer vacation with her family in Europe.
It was about the end of junior year that Angelus O'Connor and his family moved into the old Crawford Street mansion.
Angelus was a recent high school graduate and had already planned his future. He would seek a degree in business management while he continued working for his father learning the trucking business so that when his father retired, he would be ready to take control of the family's nationwide trucking business. He had worked in the family business part-time during school and now worked full-time before going off to college.
Angelus and Spike had known each other in high school in LA. They weren't exactly friends, but they were members of the same social set before Spike moved to Sunnydale.
Buffy met Angelus during the summer one Saturday when he delivered pieces of artwork to her mother's art gallery. Buffy was instantly smitten, but being the shy person that she was, she waited for Angelus to make the first move. He did. He asked her out for the next weekend.
She didn't tell her friends about her date with Angelus at first; she wanted to see what kind of person he was and whether or not she thought there was a possibility of a relationship with him.
Their first date was great fun for both of them and by the time school started in the Fall, they were an item.
Cordelia first saw Buffy and Angelus together one evening toward the end of summer when the couple was on their last date before he left for college and Cordy and her family were having dinner out.
Cordelia wondered why such a good looking guy would be out with Buffy Summers and she was determined to find out more about him. She didn't like what she learned. He was a truck driver for goodness sake. She thought it was hilarious when she found out that Buffy's boyfriend drove a truck for a living.
"What difference does it make what he does for a living, Cordy?" Buffy wanted to know. "How you earn your living doesn't say anything about what kind of person you are."
"Maybe not," Cordelia agreed, "but it does determine your status in society. He's fine for you, but I wouldn't be caught dead with a common truck driver."
At this point Xander inserted himself into the conversation. "Well, Cordelia, the more you open your mouth, the more shallow we see that you really are."
"Shut up, Fast Food Guy," she shot back, using the name she started calling Xander when he first started working at the local diner; "the only thing you know about quality is how many pickles to put on a hamburger."
"Besides," Willow added, "he isn't just a truck driver, his father owns O'Connor Trucking; they're the family that moved into the Crawford Mansion."
"WHAT? Now this is news worth hearing. Tell me more, Willow."
"I don't understand. So he's interesting now that you know his family has money?" Buffy asked.
"Of course you wouldn't understand, Buffy; your family has no money. I know for a fact that your mother's little art gallery barely puts food on the table."
"What are you talking about?"
"My father's bank holds the mortgage on the gallery. One day while I was visiting at the bank and my father stepped out of his office, I took the opportunity to look up the account for your mother's gallery. Trust me, honey, she can't afford to buy paint."
"Mom's gallery may be struggling, but at least we have a family that loves and supports each other, unlike you whose parents can't even remember their own daughter's birthday."
"You shut up. You think you're hot stuff because you're dating the son of one of the wealthiest families in California. I could take him in an instant if I wanted to."
"If you think you can take Angelus from me, go ahead. I'm not worried about it, because if someone like you can take a man from me, it only proves that he wasn't mine in the first place."
"Give me a week; I'll have him eating out of my hands."
"Take all the time you need."
Buffy didn't think any more about Cordelia's threat. Angelus went away for college as planned and Buffy's group concentrated on their senior year in high school. During the first half of the school year she and Angelus kept in touch via e-mail and phone and she had no doubt that he still loved her.
Buffy's mother surprised her daughters with a visit to relatives in Cleveland, Ohio during semester break; they had not seen their mother's sister and her family since they moved to Sunnydale.
Buffy was so excited about seeing her family members after such a long time that she forgot to tell Angelus that she was going away until they were ready to leave for the airport. 'I have my laptop in my suitcase; I'll e-mail him when we get to Cleveland,' Buffy thought as she and her family left Sunnydale.
In the meantime Angelus decided to surprise Buffy by coming home during semester break.
This was the opportunity Cordelia had been waiting for. When Willow announced that Angelus was in town and didn't know that Buffy would be away, Cordelia made her move. After finding out that his family would be attending a particular fund raiser sponsored by one of her father's friends, she "accidentally" ran into them at the affair and insisted that her mother invite them over for dinner.
Cordelia made a very good impression on Angelus' parents and the two families made plans to get together later in the week. At Cordelia's insistence her mother suggested that her daughter take Angelus to the local country club and introduce him to some of her friends.
After that and for the rest of semester break, the two teenagers were constant companions. Cordelia pretended to be surprised when Amy asked Angelus about Buffy.
"Willow said that her family is visiting relatives on Ohio," Angelus told her.
"How do you know Buffy?" Cordelia asked him with a glare at Amy daring her to say anything.
After he explained about his relationship with Buffy, Amy told him that she would never leave town without letting her boyfriend know where she was going and, if anything, she would want to spend semester break with him.
At this point Cordelia chimed in with, "So would I, but that's Buffy for you; she's selfish and never thinks about anyone but herself."
"Buffy's really a sweet girl; she's kind, loving and cares about people."
"Yeah, sure she is, when someone is looking; just how much did she care about you when she went away on vacation without letting you know that she was leaving town?"
Angelus had no answer for that. As the evening progressed, between Cordelia and Amy, he was seeing Buffy in a whole new light. He thought these girls were her friends and if what he had heard from them was true, she really wasn't the girl he had thought her to be.
'How could I have been so wrong about someone? Gods, I thought I was in love with her.'
In the meantime, Buffy was really concerned. She had not been able to get in touch with Angelus the entire time she was in Cleveland. He wasn't answering voice mails or e-mails. 'Where is he,' she kept thinking to herself; 'I hope he's all right. I couldn't stand it if something bad happened to him.'
By the time Buffy returned to Sunnydale Angelus had already left and returned to college the previous day. She decided to try one more time to reach him before contacting his parents. He answered the phone on the fourth ring. Buffy was so excited to hear his voice.
"Angelus, gods, are you all right? Where have you been? I have been trying to get in touch with you for two weeks."
When he answered her queries, Buffy hardly recognized Angelus' voice. He was so cold on the phone.
"I could ask you the same question, Buffy, but I know where you've been. I know that you went on vacation and didn't even care enough to let me know you were leaving. I came to Sunnydale to surprise you on semester break only to find that you had already left.
"Look, I don't think things are going to work out between us; we are too different and we have absolutely nothing in common. I feel that it would be better for both of us if we didn't see each other any more."
"Angelus what happened to you? I have been trying to contact you for the past two weeks. Did you not get any of my messages?
"When I got back to the dorm I saw that you had sent messages; I deleted them all. It's over, Buffy. Please don't contact me again. Goodbye."
He hung up the phone before she could say anything else.
Buffy was devastated. What could have happened in two weeks to change his mind about her? Her first thought was to call her girlfriends to see if they knew what happened while she was away, but she couldn't. She couldn't let them know how much Angelus had hurt her.
She didn't have to say anything to her friends; Spike already knew. Cordelia had been telling everyone, except Buffy's close friends, what had happened over semester break and that she and Angelus were now an item.
At first Spike couldn't believe what he was hearing. How could Angelus be so stupid as to even look at someone as mean spirited as Cordelia when he already had a nice sweet girl in Buffy? The more Spike heard, the more he was convinced that Angelus was as much an idiot as Spike had thought he was while he was still in LA.
Spike was also convinced that he had to talk to Buffy before she heard the news from someone else. He talked it over with Faith first, then with the rest of Buffy's friends. They all agreed that he should be the one to talk to Buffy, since he knew Angelus better than the rest of them did. Maybe he could explain to Buffy what had happened.
When he met with Buffy, Spike was touched after seeing the pain she was in because of her ex boyfriend. "There, there, pet," he consoled; "Angelus isn't the only bloke around. You'll meet someone else who'll love you the way you should be loved."
Cordelia decided to spend the second half of her senior year of high school at a school in another city and so did not return to Sunnydale High after semester break. Unknown to anyone in Sunnydale, Cordy was completing her high school education at a school near the college that Angelus attended.
With the support of her friends, Buffy made it through the rest of senior year and was making plans to attend the local college, UC Sunnydale, after graduation.
As had been the case the year before, Buffy ran into Angelus when he made a delivery at her mother's art gallery. Angelus greeted her formerly, as an acquaintance, not as someone that he had been close to at one point. Buffy was hurt by his coolness, but she tried not to let it show.
"So what are you doing this summer," Buffy asked casually; "are you working for your father again?"
"Actually, I'll be attending college full time, including summers, that is except next summer, so that I can get my degree in three years instead of four. After that I'll be joining the business as a partner." Angelus told her.
"Oh, that very ambitious. What's happening next summer?"
"Well, most of next summer will be taken up with the wedding and the honeymoon; I didn't want college to interfere with that."
Buffy was speechless as she stared at him, unbelieving.
Seeing the look on her face Angelus softened. "I thought you knew; Cordy and I are getting married next June."
Buffy couldn't believe it. "C-Cordy?" She stumbled over the name.
"Yes, Cordelia Chase, my fiancee. She has proven that she really loves me and I think we can have a happy life together. The guest list is almost ready. I'm sure that I saw your name on the list."
Buffy turned away from him. She could not let him see her tears. "I-I have to go..." she said as she ran from the gallery.
Two days later Cordelia showed up at Buffy's house.
"What do you want, Cordelia?"
"I see you found out about the wedding before the invitations went out. I just wanted to see the look on your face after you found out."
"Why was it so important to you, Cordy? Why am I even being invited? You've already proven your point. You have Angelus eating out of your hands. What more do you want?"
"I want to see you hurt as much as you hurt me," Cordelia yelled.
"What are you talking about?"
"I'm talking about you. Everything was fine before you came here; all of the guys wanted me... me," she gestured toward her chest with her thumb, "and no one else. The other girls around here couldn't hold a candle to me.
"Then you came along, with your blond hair and your doe eyes; then all of a sudden guys were looking at you as much as they were looking at me, and I hated it. Your name was all I heard about, it was Buffy this and Buffy that, like you're somebody important; you're nobody.
"I was the prettiest, smartest, richest girl at this school until you came along. I could get any guy I wanted just by glancing at him, but oh no, now I have to prove myself. Well I proved I was more woman than you. I took the one thing that you wanted most in the world: Angelus. And I did it just to show you that I could."
"Cordelia, Angelus thinks that you love him."
"Let him think whatever he wants; he's mine until I get those papers proving that we are married, then, if I'm feeling generous, I'll let you have him back – if I'm feeling generous."
"How can you use him like this. Angelus thinks that you care about him."
"I do care about him, sort of; I just care about his money a whole lot more. And don't bother running to him and telling him. He'll never believe you. I've seen to that."
"What have you done?"
"I've convinced him that you never loved him, that you were just using him to get at his family's money."
"You mean the way you're using him to get at his family's money?"
"Well who do you think he'll believe, you or his fiancee?" She asked flashing her diamond in Buffy's face.
"Cordy, please don't hurt him, he's the kindest sweetest person I've ever met."
"Oh my gawd, you really love this guy."
"You know that."
"Well you can forget it; you're never getting him back. I told you before, you don't have a clue about what is going on; you're a loser, you always will be a loser and you are never getting him back."
"How can one person be as heartless and cruel as you are?"
"It's simple," Cordelia said walking toward the front door. "I work hard at it," were her last words as she let the door slam shut behind her.
Buffy collapsed on the sofa in tears. "It's over," she sobbed, "It's all over."
One year later
Buffy walked away from the church with her head down. Tears blinded her as she made her way to her house on Revello Drive. She bumped into something, or someone; she didn't know which, she never looked up.
It should have been her day, the happiest day of her life, the day that she had dreamed about since Angelus first told her that he loved her. Even before that, she dared to hope that it was true, but his words to her on that rainy night before he left for college made her dreams reality.
She still didn't understand what happened; how did things go from 'In all my life I've loved exactly one person.' to 'It's over'? How did they go from, 'Eternity with you would not be enough.' to 'Please don't contact me again.'?
'What did I do wrong that made him stop loving me? Did I not show him enough affection, enough appreciation? What? I know it's my fault; I just don't know what I did.'
Buffy walked into her house; it was empty, it was always empty these days when she got home. Her mother was dead and her sister was living somewhere in Spain with their father; well at least he considered one of them his daughter; it's ironic that he chose the one that wasn't remotely related to him from what her mother had told her.
She hadn't heard from her father or her sister in six months. Dawn had been in Spain for almost nine months. Buffy had gotten one post card from her soon after she left for Spain; since then her sister had not answered any of her letters and she was always busy or on her way out the door whenever Buffy called. Even her friends seemed distant now.
Spike was the only one that had stuck by her all this time; he often stopped by just to check up on her, while Angelus, the ex-love of her life, dumped her and never looked back. He didn't even call when her mother died. 'Of course he didn't, he was too busy enjoying his engagement to Cordelia.'
'And now he has married Cordelia Chase of all people. I can't take this any more; I just can't.'
Spike was first in line to greet the newlywed couple as they entered the reception hall. He ignored the bride and spoke directly to the groom. "Congratulations, peaches, you've finally sunk to your lowest level yet. You gave up an angel because you knew you would never be good enough for her and you sank to the level of the devil himself."
His words brought the crowd to silence as they waited for Angelus' reaction to Spike's insult. They didn't have to wait long.
"Spike." Angelus' voice was a low growl, a warning and a threat, which Spike ignored and continued speaking.
"Bad tidings to you and a future filled with misery; you deserve it and you're going to get it."
Angelus drew back and attempted to punch Spike in the face. Expecting the action, Spike was ready for it and leaned out of the way of the punch, then using the force of Angelus' own momentum, sent him sprawling on the floor flat on his face.
"See what I mean? Lowest level yet and this is just the beginning of your downward spiral."
With that he turned and walked out of the reception hall with a self-satisfied grin on his face and a jaunty air to his step, leaving those assembled totally shocked and speechless.
Harmony's date leaned over and whispered in her ear, "If you're going to insult somebody, that's the way to do it."
"I'll say," Harmony agreed as she watched admiringly as Spike exited the room.
Spike headed directly for Buffy's house. He had seen her leave the church after the wedding and knew that she had headed for home. When no one answered his knock on the door, he forced the door open and yelled, "Buffy, where are you?"
He dashed up the stairs when he heard her sobbing and found Buffy on her knees on the bathroom floor with a knife at her own throat. She was going to kill herself. She hadn't even heard him come in.
He grabbed the knife from her and threw it across the room.
"What the bloody hell is wrong with you? If he wants that bitch let him have her; you're better than this and you deserve a whole lot better than him.
"You still love him, I get that. You've cried over him, now get up off your knees, dry your eyes and get on with your life. You are too good a person to wallow in pity feeling sorry for yourself over a wanker who chose to marry the devil himself when he could have married you. Do not validate this asshole by killing yourself over him. He's not worth it. He's not worth you."
Buffy looked up at him, tears still running down her face. She saw the look of anger on Spike's face and finally let his words sink in. She stood up.
"You know you're right," she sniffed. "I don't deserve the heartache and misery that Angelus has caused me. I deserve a man who loves me and who wants to have a family with me and who wants to spend the rest of his life being happy with me. And I'm going to go out and find that man, starting right now," she said with determination.
Spike smiled at her, grateful that his words had gotten through to her. "Damn straight." He looked at her face, pointed at her and burst out laughing.
"Uh pet, I suggest you wash your face before you go man-hunting; you look like a wet raccoon."
Buffy looked in the mirror at her face as Spike continued laughing. She couldn't help herself; she joined him and that was how Faith, Willow and Oz found them, both with tears streaming down their faces laughing like a couple of hyenas.
"What's going on in here?" Willow wanted to know. "What is so funny? We came over because we thought you might need us and this is what we find?"
Instead of stopping, if possible they laughed harder.
Spike pointed at Buffy. "Look at her face."
By now Buffy's face was worse than before; there were strands of hair stuck to her face and other strands sticking out in all directions.
Willow giggled. "You do look pretty funny, Buffy." Then she, Faith and Oz joined in the laughter until the five of them collapsed from exhaustion.
Buffy tried to clean her face with her hands and only made things worse. Now mascara and lipstick were smeared on her cheeks, her nose and her chin.
The others looked at each other and cracked up all over again. When the laughter finally stopped, Willow went into the bathroom, returned with warm washcloths, handed one to each of the others and kept one for herself. Each cleaned their own face.
"Thanks guys," Buffy told them; "I really needed that."
At that moment Xander and Anya entered the house, concerned when they saw the broken lock. "Buffy where are you?" Xander yelled.
"Up here," was all Buffy could manage.
He ran up the stairs and found Willow, Oz, Buffy, Spike and Faith on the floor leaning against each other.
"What happened here?" Xander asked confused.
With that the laughter started again as Buffy stood up. "Come on guys, let's order pizza and have a party."
"And beer, no soda," Spike yelled after Buffy as she headed for the phone.
"I think she's going to be okay," Spike whispered after Buffy left the room.
"Yeah, I think so too," Willow said, "as long as she doesn't drink any of the beer."
Their smiles disappeared as Willow and Xander looked at each other and, remembering their friend's last encounter with beer that produced wacko-Buffy, they quickly yelled, "Buffy forget the beer."
The seven of them dissolved in laughter.
Note: Sequel is 'Laughter Needs No Tears'