Title: Maybe We Can
Disclaimer: I treat them better than he does, so I borrowed Joss Wheden’s characters for a while.
Summary: A sequel to “As I Should Be” (http://spuffystuff.org/asishouldbe.htm), in which I twist another episode; in this case the wedding fiasco goes a bit better for everyone involved. Some of the dialogue may be similar or identical to familiar lines from the episode. Those parts, obviously, were written by other, more talented, people who got paid for it.
Maybe We Can
Buffy stared at herself in the mirror. The glowing green dress made it impossible to concentrate on anything else. She was fairly certain that her hair and make-up were going to be totally eclipsed by the bridesmaid dress that Anya had insisted was what all the bridal magazines recommended.
“Green is this year’s ‘in’ color,” she’d stated firmly. “And this shade of green is unique, so you’ll be in fashion without being trite.”
“Trite?” Tara had fingered the shiny fabric. “Can a dress be trite?”
“I’m pretty sure these dresses aren’t going to be worn by very many bridesmaids,” Buffy said diplomatically.
“Exactly!” Anya beamed at them. “Current, but unique.”
Sighing, Buffy turned away and went out into the hall to see if Dawn needed help with anything. She tried her best not to look around the rapidly filling room for a blond head. True to his word, Spike had stayed away from her and the house since the night she’d left him alone in his crypt; although she was fairly certain that she’d felt his presence once or twice as she patrolled. Only when she was taking on something that could have given her some trouble, and it was quickly gone once she’d handled the situation.
Still watching my back.
The gut wrenching shock that went through her when Dawn casually mentioned Spike’s “skanky date” caught her completely by surprise; as did the way the back of the chair crumbled under her clenching fist.
“Spike has a date?” Her voice was much weaker than she had intended, and definitely not as casual.
Dawn looked at her in surprise, then with a shrewd smirk, said, “Yes, date. You know, as in, he brought a girl along so that he doesn’t have to spend the night alone watching you pretend to ignore him?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Buffy said stiffly. “Spike never lets me ignore him. It’s his thing. Annoy Buffy at any and all opportunities.”
“Yeah, well, guess you won’t have to worry about that tonight, huh?” Dawn snorted, gesturing to the far side of the room where Spike was holding the hand of a wide-eyed Goth girl. He was laughing and nodding as the girl pointed to one demon after another -- more with excitement than fright. Although, when one of the more repulsive-looking of Anya’s guests strolled too close to them, she squealed and clutched Spike’s shirt. The vampire put a protective arm around her shoulders and whispered something into her ear that made her blush and giggle.
“I guess not…” Buffy remained frozen for several seconds, trying very hard to reject the images her eyes were sending. Tearing her eyes away just before the vampire’s head flew up to search out the source of the gaze he could feel, she whirled and fled to the ladies room. The room was blissfully empty, and Buffy was free to stare at her stricken face in the mirror and try to convince herself that she wasn’t jealous or hurt.
He’s a vampire, a MALE vampire. What did I expect? That he was going to sit around twiddling his thumbs waiting for me to change my mind?
A nasty voice pointed out that thumbs were not Spike’s favorite things to twiddle, and she screamed at it to ‘shut up!’ Biting her lip and blinking hard, she went over what she’d just seen and what Dawn had said about Spike not wanting to be alone at the wedding while she ignored him– which was exactly what she had planned to do.
Okay. This is okay. He’s just trying to protect his own feelings, and never mind what he does to mine…or, maybe that’s his thinking. He’s trying to make me jealous. That’s it. Of course it is. He’s going to be all over that girl just to make me…Well, it isn’t going to work. I am sooo not jealous. He’s a free man..er, vampire…and I’m a grown woman. I can handle this just fine. It’s what he should do. Move on. He can’t make me jealous, because to be jealous I’d have to love him and I don’t. So no jealousy here. Nope. Not a bit.
Hoping that she had convinced herself that she was fine with whatever or whoever Spike chose to do, she fixed a smile on her face and went back out to the rapidly-growing crowd. When she realized that she didn’t see Xander and Anya anywhere, she temporarily forgot about Spike as she went looking for the rest of the wedding party.
Willow’s worried explanation that Xander had asked for some time to meet with a strange man who had shown up unexpectedly, caused some frowning from everyone – particularly the bride. However, with the guests still arriving and the room still filling, they decided to give Xander a few more minutes before his Best “man” would go looking for him.
Which gave Buffy some time to stroll casually around the room, gradually working her way closer to Spike. She waited until his date had gone off to the ladies room before approaching and smiling at him. They made some attempt at small talk, the vampire’s admiration clear in his eyes as he complimented her on the way she was glowing. Buffy’s skeptical remark about the dress’s radioactivity gave them both a small chuckle before an awkward silence fell.
“Have you met my date yet?”
Buffy shook her head. “No, but I’m sure she’s a fine attempt to make me jealous.”
“Is it working?” He made no attempt to deny it, simply waited for her reply.
“Yeah,” she surprised herself by admitting. “It hurts… a little.”
“I’m sorry, Buffy--”
He recovered himself before he could finish the automatic apology. His self-righteous “Good!” and the accompanying posturing only lasted for a few seconds, before it collapsed in the face of her clear distress.
“I’m sorry. I’ll just go. Leave you to enjoy the festivities. This was a bad idea.”
“Actually…” She shrugged, stepping closer to him and looking up with a small frown. “…it was probably a pretty good idea. It made me realize...”
It made me realize how important your love is to me. And how much I don’t want to be sharing it.
He waited eagerly for an explanation, but none was forthcoming, the Slayer just continuing to stare at him with anxious eyes. With a sigh, he shook his head and looked away, spotting his “date” heading towards them with a curious frown on her face.
“I don’t want to hurt you, Buffy. I’m sorry. We’ll just go…”
“It’s okay. I deserve--”
“You deserve nothing…alright, maybe you do, Maybe I should be glad that something I do with somebody else can make you unhappy. But I’m just not built that way. I can’t just ask her to leave, even if I am evil, so I’ll just take her away.”
“Well, that makes me feel much better. Watching you leave with her will… Where are you going to take her? Your crypt?”
“Well, yeah. I mean, I AM evil, you know.” He tried very hard to look as though he had every intention of spending the rest of the night shagging the girl into the ground, but when Buffy bit her lip and stepped back, fists clenched in the folds of her dress, his bravado collapsed again. Before he could begin the babbled apology for lying to her that was trembling in his throat, Polly walked up to them and looked Buffy up and down.
“Nice dress,” she said with smirk, blinking with surprise when Spike stepped between them and stretched his arm in front of the now glaring blonde. Polly glanced up at the vampire that she’d known only a day or so, and said, “I guess this must be her?”
“Her? Her who?”
“What do you mean, ‘her’?”
Spike and Buffy spoke at the same time. The girl looked back and forth between them and shook her head sadly.
“The girl that you needed to make jealous by bringing a date to this shindig.” She glared at an embarrassed Spike and continued, “Do you think I’m stupid? Nobody invites somebody they just met to something like a wedding unless they really, really need a date for some reason. You two obviously have some issues to work out, so I’ll just tell myself it was a job well-done and be on my way.”
She went up on her toes to brush her lips across Spike’s cheek as she whispered, “But if it doesn’t work out, you know where to find me. I’d be more than happy to take your mind off her.”
“I heard that!” Buffy growled.
With a laugh, Polly just waved and walked out into the night, leaving two very embarrassed people staring at the floor and waiting for the other to speak first. Before either of them could work out where to begin, Dawn ran up to Buffy and said, “Willow needs you. Xander’s got a problem…a demon-shaped problem.”
Throwing a “Don’t you dare leave!” at Spike, Buffy ran towards the door through which Xander was last seen with the strange man. Dawn stood and watched her run away, then turned to the vampire.
“So, I guess, skanky as she was, your “date” did the trick, huh?”
“Is there anybody in this bloody room who doesn’t think I only brought her to make Buffy jealous?” He stuffed his hands in his pockets, an angry pout on his face.
“Oh, probably,” Dawn said, waving her hand dismissively. “Xander, maybe, and all the people who don’t know you. But, me, Willow, Tara, Anya? Gimme a break. How stupid do you think we are?”
“You really don’t want me to answer than, Bit,” he growled, glaring at the unperturbed teenager.
“Oh please! Give it up, Big Bad. My sister has you wrapped around her finger – and she likes you there. Neither one of you is kidding anybody.” She studied her former babysitter for a minute, then said more kindly, “I saw her face when she saw you two together, Spike. I don’t care what she’s telling you - she cares. She cares a lot.”
He nodded and placed a grateful hand on her shoulder, giving it a little squeeze. “I know that, Bit,” he said softly. “Jus’ not sure that she does.”
“Well, I think watching I’m-a-vampire-groupie-skank girl hanging on you might have helped you out there. She can’t deny her first reaction – I’ve got the broken chair to prove it.”
“It’s Buffy, pet.”
“Good point.” She grimaced her agreement with his assessment of her sister’s consistency. “Okay, looks like Xander’s back. I guess Buffy slayed the demon. Let’s go find a place to sit.”
Before they could seat themselves somewhere up front, another crisis arose as Xander proceeded to tell Anya that he didn’t think he could go through with the wedding – in front of most of the guests and the entire wedding party. Spike’s enhanced hearing had allowed him to hear the entire exchange and he was already moving towards the door by the time Buffy and Willow recovered enough to go after the missing groom.
“Let me, pet,” he said, putting a hand on Buffy’s arm. “I think another bloke – even one he doesn’t like much – would be what’s needed here.”
Buffy and Willow looked at him dubiously, but nodded and stepped back.
“If you’re not back in ten minutes, we’re coming after you,” Buffy threatened.
Without responding, the vampire slipped out the door and sniffed the air. Finding Xander wasn’t difficult. The missing bridegroom had only gone as far as an outside patio, where he was leaning on the balustrade, his head in his hands. Spike walked up, being sure to make enough noise that the other man would know he was being approached. Xander turned his head to the side far enough to spot the beat-up black boots, then dropped it again and groaned.
“What?” he said plaintively. “My life isn’t ruined enough? I’ve got to listen to you gloat?”
“No, you stupid git. You’ve got to listen to me tell you what an arse you are for leaving that lovely girl standing there with egg on her face. I don’t give a flying fuck how badly you think you’ve screwed up, be a man about it and go back in there and marry her!”
“Shut up, Spike. What do you know about it? I’m doing this for her. Because I know I’m going to be a bad husband. In the long run, this is better.”
“And in the short run? I’m no expert, mind you, but I’m pretty sure being left at the altar by a man who should be thanking the stars every night that a girl like that would have him wasn’t on her list of things she wants to have in her memories.”
“She’s better off without me.”
“Can’t argue with you there,” Spike agreed mildly. “But she wants you. Don’t you think you should have included her when you were decidin’ that it wouldn’t work out?”
“Just because she thinks she wants me, doesn’t mean I’m going to be good for her. What would you know about it anyway? “
“Know a bit about wanting what’s not good for you. Know about being left, about being unwanted,” he said quietly. “Know a bit about getting what you want… and losin’ it, too,” he added. “An’ I can tell you, having what you want – even if it isn’t good all the time – is way ahead of not having it. Or thinkin’ you have it and then losing it. This is a terrible thing you’re doing, Harris. And that’s coming from somebody who knows a bit about terrible things…”
Spike rested his elbows on the railing and leaned quietly next to the man he’d watched grow up from a teen-aged boy into a young man. There was silence for several minutes, until Xander grumbled, “Aren’t you ever going to go away?”
“Nope,” Spike answered cheerfully. “If I come back without you…well, lets just say I don’t fancy my chances of surviving the night. What with Buffy and Red expectin’ me to deliver the goods.”
“I’m the ‘goods’?”
“Well, not to my way of thinking, no. I think you’re a waste of good blood; but Anyanka seems to want you, and the best man and maid of honor seem to think you belong back in there. Don’t know about you, but brassing off an ex-vengeance demon, a slayer and a powerful witch just doesn’t strike me as a very smart move.”
Before Xander could respond, Buffy and Willow came walking up, trying very hard to appear to be surprised to find them. Xander raised his head and met Willow’s distressed face with a sheepish smile.
“I’m sorry,” he began. “I’ll just—“
“You’ll just get your butt in there and marry the woman you love,” Willow said, her resolve face firmly in place.
He nodded and straightened up.
“Do you think she’ll still have me?”
“Of course, she will! She’s crying her eyes out right now, but we’ll just make something up about the demon putting a temporary spell on you or something. It’s not a problem. I can fix it.” Willow exuded confidence, pausing to glare at the vampire when he couldn’t repress a snort.
Buffy looked back and forth between her two friends, now heading back to the entrance, reluctant bridegroom being harangued every step of the way by his red-haired best “man”. She shuffled her feet uncertainly, taking one step towards the door, then back to where the vampire was quietly waiting. After a minute of watching her dither about where to be, Spike spoke up.
“Go, Slayer. You’re part of that little show.”
She bit her lip, nodding but still not moving. He sighed and stepped closer to her, raising her chin with one hand and stroking her hair with other.
“I’m not going anywhere, love. Gonna have myself a fag and then join the happy crowd. Save me a dance, yeah?”
She gave him a sudden, fierce hug, then whirled and ran to catch up with the rest of the wedding party. Stunned, Spike remained where he was, staring after the blur of neon green as it disappeared into the building.
Did Buffy just hug me?
He lit a cigarette with a hand that refused to hold still; the flame trembled and wavered as he brought it to meet the tip of the cigarette clenched so tightly between his lips. He took a deep, calming drag, holding the smoke in his impervious lungs, then letting it out with sighing breath. He smoked until only the filter and ash remained, then dropped and crushed it beneath his boot. Straightening his shoulders and taking another deep breath, he walked towards the door and whatever awaited him on the other side.
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