A/N: Thanks for being patient for this next installment! My week was insane (just a taste of it: 19-pg engineering lab report, two exams on one day, planning a major fundraising event . . .), but I got through it and finally had time to devote a few hours to this story.
Spike and Buffy's wedding continues! It just keeps getting longer than I planned; I'm not trying to tease you. The reception will be part 3 (maybe 3 and 4), and I will try to have the next bit out as soon as possible!
As always, all rights belong to Joss Whedon & networks
Chapter 6: "Heaven, part 2" (Season 8, Episode 3, Acts III)
**Church Sanctuary, ten minutes before the wedding**
He definitely does not know this many people. Spike wanders wide-eyed through the smartly-dressed congregation, accepting handshakes and congratulations from men and women he has never seen before in his life. At last, the sight of a familiar wrinkly face steadies his nerves.
"Clem! You made it, ol' boy!"
"Hey-ya Spike! What a big day! Would'ya take a look at this crowd!"
Spike weaves through the wedding attendees and shakes Clem's large hand enthusiastically.
"I don't have a clue who invited all these people," he splutters to the floppy-skinned demon. "Thought it was gonna be more of a family spectacle. The wedding party, Buffy's relatives and the Slayerettes, couple of Angel's coworkers . . . not half the population of Los Angeles!"
"Plus a few Sunnydale refugees like me," Clem winks. He stares around at the ceiling and walls, admiring the tall stained glass windows of the sanctuary. "Wow. You know, I think this is the first time I've ever been in a church."
"Nice, ain't it?"
"Yeah, but it still gives me the Wiggins just a bit. But . . . you don't seem to have any problem with it. So . . . is it true you're, like, only part vampire now?" asks Clem curiously.
Spike shrugs. "Sunlight and crosses are out, and I ate a whole garlic clove on a dare . . ." He cringes at the memory and the corresponding wicked merriment on Angel's face. "The Great Poof didn't bother to tell me that even humans don't eat them like that."
"Wow," Clem repeats. "But still, sunlight non-lethal. That's really something."
At the sound of his name, he turns to see Giles standing near a side door, gesturing urgently for Spike to join him.
"I guess I'll let you go now," says Clem. "Boy, he doesn't look happy."
"Better see what the trouble is," Spike murmurs in growing apprehension. "Sit anywhere you want, mate. And you'd better stay for the reception!"
"Sure thing, Spike! Good luck!"
Nervously fiddling with his bow-tie, Spike crosses to where Giles awaits.
"What's the stitch, Rupert? Your tux doesn't fit right?"
"Spike," Giles whispers angrily, and for a split-second Spike wonders if the Watcher has changed his mind and is refusing to give Buffy away to him, "the most dreadful, impertinent . . . Hank Summers is here."
"What?! Oh, balls. Thought the bugger was in Spain. How'd he even get invited?"
"Willow sent him an invitation merely out of courtesy. I can't believe he would dare show his arrogant face here, the knave," Giles mutters. "I didn't think for a moment he would actually come. I've just told Dawn, but she refuses to speak to him, of course."
"Can't blame her. That's 'im, in't it?"
Spike nods at a brown-haired, suntanned man a little younger than Giles, who has just entered the back of the sanctuary and appears to be hunting for a seat. There's just enough in the man's facial features to remind him of Buffy.
"Yes," Giles hisses. "Horrid man!"
"Think I should have a word with him?"
"I think you must, Spike. If nothing else . . . to introduce yourself to the father of your bride."
"Don't be daft, Rupert. You're the nearest Buffy's got to a real father. But, cripes, what am I supposed to say to the chap? 'Nice to meet you, Mr. Summers. Hope you don't mind that I'll be marrying your lovely eldest daughter today'? What a ponce I'd sound like!"
"Just . . . don't frighten him into making a spectacle of himself."
"Bite him," Dawn suggests darkly, sneaking up on the two of them and making Giles jump with a squeak of fright. She scowls at her dad from across the sanctuary. "Do us all a favor."
"Can't do that, Niblet," Spike chuckles. "Wouldn't want blood all over my monkey suit. 'Sides, I'm sure he tastes terrible."
"Fine, let him live," she concedes crankily. "But I don't want Buffy to see him. It'll make her think of Mom . . . and she deserves to have a happy day and not have it spoiled by him."
"I know, Dawnie. I'll get him to leave sharpish. Not sure how, but I will."
"Thanks Spike." She turns towards the bride's suite but then remembers, "Oh, Giles, Faith says it's your cue to come back for final prep with Buffy. And she also says, Spike, if you keep messing with your tie it'll twist right off."
"Oh, so she's spyin' on me, is she? Nasty bugger."
"Yep," Dawn grins. "So be good for about another half hour and then you can do whatever you want and Faith isn't in charge of us anymore."
"Thank heavens for that," mutters Giles, raising his eyebrows as he cleans his glasses lenses with the handkerchief out of his tuxedo pocket.
"Okay, okay, I'll keep my hands off the tie, scout's honor," Spike promises with a wink. Grinning, Dawn gives him a quick hug and dashes around the edge of the seats and toward the back of the sanctuary.
"Actually, since Dawn suggested it, eliminating the blighter isn't a half-bad thought, to be honest," Giles says the moment Dawn is out of earshot, his eyes returning to Hank Summers. "I think even Angel would help you hide the body."
"Not you too!" whispers Spike disapprovingly. "I'll go talk to him, get him to see that showin' up after all these years is like slappin' her and Dawnie in the face."
"And if he refuses to leave?"
"S'pose I'll have to be more persuasive then," Spike shrugs. "Well, see you at the alter, Rupert."
With a genuine smile of friendship, Giles extends his hand and shakes Spike's. "You're a changed man, William. I'm ever so sorry I doubted you . . . and tried to have you killed," he tacks on, noticeably embarrassed.
"No hard feelings, Watcher," Spike grins, then steels himself as he glances back over to Hank Summers. "On to battle, then."
Giles departs along the same route as Dawn, and Spike traverses the sanctuary and approaches the unwanted guest, sitting in a pew several rows from the front.
"Hank Summers?" he inquires, somewhat hoping that they're all mistaken in the man's identity.
"That's me," the stranger says, looking up and assessing Spike's tuxedo and the rose in his lapel. "You must be the groom."
"Er . . . yes, I'm William," says Spike, suppressing a scowl. Though Buffy would never admit such a thing, and though Giles has done his best to be a father figure, Spike knows how much his beloved has suffered since her dad went AWOL, probably shed many a tear over it. And anyone who makes Buffy suffer is vying for a death-wish.
"Well, you're a lucky man, William. There're aren't many girls in the world like my Buffy."
'My Buffy, you mean' is Spike's immediate thought, but he bites his tongue.
Hank Summers offers his hand to Spike, who takes it, still fixing his soon-to-be father-in-law with a piercing gaze. They shake briefly.
"Cold hands, dear fellow," says Mr. Summers, visibly surprised by the fierceness in Spike's cool blue eyes and the chill of his undead fingers. "Hope you're not getting cold feet as well."
"Not a bit. To be frank, sir . . ." Spike takes a threatening step closer and lowers his voice, "I've loved your daughter a helluva lot better than you have these last six years. I was here for her and Dawnie when Joyce died, which didn't seem to matter two quid to you. I've been by her side through hell on earth, literally. So no, Summers, I don't 'ave cold feet at all. But you should . . ."
He only transforms for a fraction of a second – just enough for Hank Summers to see the demonic yellow eyes and the bones surfacing in his forehead, the ivory fangs extending in Spike's wicked smile – then returns to his human countenance so quickly that anyone who was not looking directly at him wouldn't have noticed a thing. Mr. Summers turns as pale as if all his blood has drained out through his socks.
"What . . . you . . ."
"I suggest you leave before my bride comes in," Spike advises with the tiniest of snarls. "Her real father's already here, you see." He indicates Giles, standing at the foot of the central aisle waiting dutifully to be admitted back to the bride's suite. "Do we understand each other, Summers?"
"I . . . What . . . did you . . . are you throwing me out of my own daughter's wedding?" he splutters, still scrutinizing Spike's face for any hints of the frightening features that he hopes he had merely imagined.
"Right about sums it up. Need directions to the door?" Spike asks pointedly, baring his human teeth in a threatening smile.
"Now see here, William, I . . . my daughter . . ."
A quiet inhuman growl ripples through Spike's throat, and Mr. Summers becomes, if possible, even paler.
"I . . . no . . . no, thank you. I'll see myself out."
Snatching up his wedding program, Hank Summers flees the sanctuary, leaving several other guests staring in bewilderment after him.
Giving a soft sigh of relief, Spike looks around the congregation as he strolls up the aisle to take his place at the front. He makes eye contact with several of the Potentials-now-Slayers, the girls who had resided in Buffy's house. They've all heard the story now: how he saved the world, how the amulet bridled his demon power and used him like a sunlight focusing lens to kill the Turok-Han and destroy the Hellmouth. The girls all look at him with various levels of awe . . . except Kennedy, who is craning her neck towards the back, waiting for the first glimpse of Willow.
As Spike nears the front of the sanctuary, he notices Robin Wood and Andrew taking their seats now that their ushering duties are over. Andrew gives him an encouraging wave and a thumbs-up, while Robin – his face solemn but with just a fraction of a smile – briefly inclines his head to Spike. It may not be a sign of friendship, but it's definitely the start of forgiveness and mutual respect, and Spike knows he couldn't ask any more yet from the man whose mother he killed all those years ago.
Focusing back on the present, Spike passes Clem, who waves a floppy hand, and then observes Angel's coworkers on the far side of an aisle: Gunn, Fred, and Wesley, who all seem to be here solely for Angel's morale support. Finally, he reaches the two groomsmen – Xander smiling, Angel obviously brooding.
"Almost time," Spike says quietly to Xander. "Got the rings, right?"
"Faith sewed them inside my tux pocket. I'm glad I noticed and loosened them up, otherwise I would have left you guys hanging a while during the ceremony until I fished them out."
Spike laughs nervously and runs a finger across his upper lip, surprised when it comes away sweaty, his hand visually trembling.
"Sunlight might be gettin' to me after all," he mutters, glancing apprehensively at the stained-glass windows in the bright church sanctuary.
"It's not the sun, Spike," Xander says confidently. "Cold sweats, clammy hands. That's just good ol' wedding jitters. Come to think of it, you've already gotten farther than I did. How ya holding up, champ?"
"Can almost feel my heart racin'," Spike admits, his grin filling his face. "I . . . I'm really getting married, mate. Buffy's really marrying me."
"She sure is. Any last bachelor words?"
An organ behind the alter begins the opening strains of Pachelbel's Canon in D to announce the bridesmaids. Spike turns so he's standing parallel to Xander, with Angel behind them. At this distance he can only distinguish between Faith, Dawn, and Willow by their respective hair colors, but he gazes past them, watching the double doors at the back of the sanctuary. He whispers four little words, too quiet for even Xander to hear him.
"Here comes the bride . . ."
**A minute previously**
"'Bout time you showed up, Giles," Faith mutters as the Watcher appears at the doorway to the bride's suite. "Another half minute and I'd have to be the one giving B away to Blondie."
"Fat chance. If it got to that point, I'd just run up, grab Spike, and we'd drive over to Vegas and elope," Buffy retorts, earning a wide smile from Giles.
"Faith, will you give us a moment, please?" he asks. Faith rolls her eyes and readjusts her dress to enhance her cleavage.
"You're screwing my timing, Rupes," she warns, but compromisingly picks up her bouquet and moves to the door. "Fine. I'll leave. Just don't miss your cue."
"I think we'll recognize the tune," he says in an appeasing voice. "Honestly," he mutters as soon as the door closes behind Faith, "whatever possessed us to make her the head wedding planner?"
"Beats me," Buffy shrugs. "She was the best we could get on such short notice, and she didn't fight with Willow about anything too major."
Seemingly only half listening, Giles sighs, removes his glasses more slowly than usual, and wipes the lenses repeatedly.
"You look splendid, Buffy, dear."
"Thanks, Giles," she smiles, looking up into his careworn face. "Uh-oh. You're not gonna cry, right? Because if you start crying, I'm gonna start crying, and then Faith will start hurting people, both of us first."
"No, no, I'm quite alright . . . oh, dash it all, I do believe I am going to cry." He pinches the bridge of his nose to hold his tears at bay. "It's . . . oh, my dear Buffy . . . I'm not quite sure what to say to convey how very happy I am for you."
"Never thought we'd get this far, did'ya?" she smirks, trying her hardest to keep her own eyes tear-free.
"I haven't the slightest idea what you're talking about. I had every confidence in our survival instincts," says Giles, feigning offense. "It's just . . . every Watcher periodically wonders how long he will have with his Slayer, and what sort of ending their relationship will have."
"I'm getting married, Giles. I'm not retiring, and I'm not dying, again."
"I know, and that's why I'm so remarkably happy, Buffy. You've found a way to unite your Slayer life and your regular life, and you followed your heart and your instincts, regardless of what the people around you demanded or suggested. I'm so very proud of you, Buffy."
Joyful tears flowing freely, Giles leans over and gives Buffy's forehead a fatherly kiss.
"Careful," she advises, her own tears barely restrained. "Smudge anything, and Faith'll eat you alive."
"Right, of course," he agrees, straightening up and offering her his arm. Willow cracks open the door to the suite, her face aglow with happiness.
"I remembered that your train is probably a two-helper job," she says, indicating Buffy's long skirt. "The sanctuary has double-doors, but one snag here and everything goes kabloo-y. Here . . ."
Giles holds the door open for the two young women, and Willow gathers the silky folds of Buffy's train, laying it out flat again once they all pass through the door.
"Ya'know, I think this is the longest stretch of time that I haven't seen Spike since the battle," Buffy says to Willow, smiling wistfully. "We've been inseparable."
"He hasn't aged much," she smirks back. "And you won't have long to wait now. T minus one minute and counting, Houston."
"All systems go."
Beaming, Willow ignores the likelihood of Faith-wrath and hugs Buffy around the shoulders, stepping back quickly to straighten her veil and make sure the rose bouquet doesn't look crushed.
"You're fine, you're fine," she blubbers as Dawn and Faith open the double-doors and take their places nearby.
"Showtime, B," says Faith. "Last chance to back out if you wanna. I'm kidding, actually, if you back out after all my hard work . . ."
"You'll kill me, I know," Buffy cuts her off, rolling her eyes. "And I so hoped to marry the man I love out of my own free will this time," she winks at Willow.
"This is an all natural wedding, I swear. No apocalypse, magic, or GMOs."
"Music's up," Faith reminds them as an organ begins playing in the sanctuary. "Time for us to hit the dance floor, Dawnie."
Dawn answers with a nod, pausing quickly to squeeze Buffy's hand before taking her place in their queue of red gowns.
Her arm secure in Giles's, Buffy watches Faith, Dawn, and finally Willow begin walking gracefully down the aisle. The closing notes of Canon in D fade, and the congregation stands, anticipating her arrival. As the Wedding March starts, Buffy grins, thinking of a different kind of "rising music": the residual effects of the demon Sweet's enchantment on Sunnydale that had formed a backdrop to her first passionate kiss with Spike. She doubts whether any other couple could boast having such extreme highs and lows over just this last two year span the way she and Spike have. Guess that's just a shortcoming to falling in love on a Hellmouth.
Step by step, note by familiar note, Buffy and Giles approach the front of the sanctuary, flanked by the blend of strangers and dear friends. But Buffy only has eyes for one. At last, green eyes find the blue.
Spike swears his formerly unbeating heart kick-starts and revs into 5th gear as his eyes take in every beautiful inch of Buffy, from her golden hair and glowing smile to her shimmering, white gown. Sunlight is nothing compared to her. Buffy is equally enamored with the gorgeous chaos of Spike's platinum curls, the white tie and collar contrasting his seemingly less-pale skin, the expression of immeasurable love and devotion in his face.
Her eyes never breaking contact with Spike's, Buffy feels her fingers leave Giles's arm of their own accord and intertwine with her lover's cool ones. They face each other and, at the minister's direction, speak words that are both so well-rehearsed that they flow from their immediate memory without much bidding, but are still genuine, entirely from their hearts.
"Do you, William, take this woman . . ."
Slayer . . .
"Do you, Buffy, take this man . . ."
Champion . . .
"With this ring, I, William Pratt . . ."
"With this ring, I, Buffy Summers . . ."
"As long as you both shall live."
"As long as we both shall live.
"I now pronounce you, husband and wife. William, you may kiss your bride . . ."
A/N: Sorry if it seems like I'm dragging it out! I just figured you readers might like multiple short installments better than few longer installments with a lot of blank time in between. I will do my best to have the next part out in a shorter amount of time than this one was. :)