the bunny warren v. Faith

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Till Dust Do Us Part

Author SpikeNdru
Date: December 12, 2004
Summary: Written for venus_blue, as part of the Slash Wedding Ficathon run by bookishwench, and many thanks to Meltha for the assignment; out of all the requests for this ficathon, if I could have chosen the one I would most like to write, this one would have been it! :::hugs:::
The happy couple: Spike and Giles
Timeline: Takes place during the summer and early fall, post-The Gift, BtVS Season 5. In this fic, S6 goes quite differently!
Rating: PG
Author's Notes: Since my usual betas all have higher-education connections and were involved with university finals, papers and other necessities prior to Winter break, I didn’t want to impose, so thanks to denny_dc for reading, commenting and coming up with title suggestions—I was drawing a complete blank! And thanks to my daughter (AKA “The English Major”) for proofreading and for referring to this story as Till Dust Do Us Part, which became the eventual title.
Notes 2: This fic was written for venus_blue, who requested: Everyone happy and getting along, but still a little teasing snark, some Bush bashing and a conversation about Giles getting custody of the duster in case of divorce. The restrictions were: No bloodplay and no major angst.
Credits: Love Me Tender was written by Ken Darby for the movie of the same name, in which it was sung by Elvis Presley. The tune was based on Aura Lee, written in 1861.

Xander was tired. It had been a long, brutal day at work and he wanted nothing more than to take a long hot shower, call out for Chinese or pizza, collapse in his recliner and watch mindless TV—preferably vintage comedies on TV Land or Nick at Nite.

What he did not want to do was deal with whatever crisis was causing Anya to pace the apartment, waving a buff-colored envelope in the air like a battle flag.

Did he have a choice? Not in any reality he could name.

Anya stalked over to him, waving the envelope under his nose.

“Look! Will you just look at this?”

He reached for the envelope, but she waved it out of his intended grasp.

‘It’s too soon’, says Xander. ‘This isn’t a good time’. ‘Let’s not tell them yet’. Let’s wait’. And now they’ve gone and stolen our thunder! Our special happy news isn’t special anymore now that everyone’s doing it!”

Xander felt like the last train to Clarksville had left the station without him.

“Who? What? Thunder?”

“Yes, Xander—thunder! You gave me this beautiful ring, but you wouldn’t let me tell anyone that we’re engaged and now they’re getting married!”

Who’s getting married?”

“Spike and Giles!”

Maybe if he went back out and came in again, things would be normal?

**********

The Scooby meeting took place at Xander’s. Willow, Tara, Dawn and the Bot arrived with pizza and donuts. Anya made Berry Blue Kool-Aid. Xander sighed. He missed cherry, but once Anya had discovered Berry Blue, she became obsessed with the color, informing him, “There isn’t enough blue food in the world, Xander. We have to do our part to make up the difference.”

He’d tried to explain that Kool-Aid wasn’t technically a food, and the color was in no way found in nature, at least in this world, but Anya was . . . Anya. He devoutly hoped she never ‘discovered’ spinach.

Announcements had gone out all around, but the reactions varied by recipient.

Willow was convinced it was a spell.

“Remember that ‘my will be done’ spell that went kind of ker-plooy when Giles went blind and Buffy and Spike got engaged?” she asked. “I’ll bet it’s something similar!”

“Is Giles blind?”

“I don’t know, Xander. I didn’t cast this spell. I just meant maybe it was something like that.”

“But who could have cast it? Oh, oh, wait! Maybe it’s that Ethan Rayne guy. He turned Giles into a Fyarl demon!”

“Didn’t the military t-take him away?” Tara asked.

Xander’s face fell as he saw his nicely wrapped-up solution fizzle.

“Maybe he got out?” he asked hopefully.

Dawn sighed. “I think it’s romantic.”

“No, no, no. Not ‘romantic’. The thought of a sentence containing the words ‘Giles’, ‘Spike’ and ‘romantic’ is giving me a wiggins!”

“I didn’t get an invitation yet!” the Bot interjected.

“Um, I’m sure it’s just an oversight,” Willow absently assured her.

“Yeah, it probably got delayed in the mail—and why are we talking about this?” asked Xander.

The Bot smiled brightly. “Because I commented on my lack of an invitation. Everyone else received one already, but mine is a delayed oversight!”

“Why would you get an invitation?” Anya asked bluntly, bringing in a second pitcher of Berry Blue Kool-Aid.

“I am acquainted with Guyles and Spike—I’ve seen Spike naked. I am an important member of the Scooby Gang. I fight vampires and convince demons that I am the Slayer. I have an address: 1630 Revello Drive. Mail is frequently delivered there. I know because I bring it in to the kitchen from the little box. I enjoy helping out! May I have some of that?”

“This?” Anya asked, lifting the pitcher.

The Bot nodded. “I do not require nourishment, but your juice is pretty, Anya. I like to look at it.”

While Anya and the Bot bonded over a shared love of Berry Blue, Willow attempted to get the meeting back on track.

“So, we’re all agreed that it’s a spell?”

Xander nodded emphatically.

“Why does it have to be a spell?” inquired Dawn. “They’re both English, they’re both old, they’re probably lonely; maybe they just, you know, love each other?”

“This is the Hellmouth, Dawn. Plus, we already have our token gay couple.”

“Excuse me? Token?”

“You know what I mean, Will.”

“No, Xander. I’m not sure I do.”

“I just meant . . . what, 10% of the population is gay, and there are six of us . . . seven, if you count Evil Dead . . .”

“Eight,” the Bot corrected.

“Eight, if you include Evil Dead and C-3PO, and statistically . . . “

“Have some Berry Blue, sweetie.” Anya thrust a glass into his hand before Willow decided to turn him into a toad or something.

**********

Spike was sprawled on the couch while Giles slouched over the table, four separate reference books spread out before him. He removed his glasses and pinched the bridge of his nose, attempting to stave off an incipient headache. The diagonal line on the right side of his forehead deepened.

He didn’t hear Spike move, becoming aware of his presence only when he felt a pair of strong hands kneading the back of his neck and tops of his shoulders. He turned his head slightly to smile at Spike.

“You’re very like a cat at times,” Giles remarked. He felt Spike’s lips brushing the tip of his ear.

“Mrowrow,” Spike growled.

Giles’ laugh was cut short by a groan of pleasure as Spike’s thumbs dug into the muscle tissue on either side of his backbone.

“You don’t have to do this all yourself,” Spike spoke quietly. “I could lend a hand, if you’d like.”

“ ‘Lend a hand’, eh?” Giles threw a glance over his shoulder and raised one eyebrow.

“Was talkin’ about the research, but if you’ve somethin’ else in mind . . .” Spike let his voice trail off suggestively.

The years of duty and stress of apocalypse-averting fell away from Giles’ face as he laughed again. Spike could always manage to do that—make him feel young and carefree, no matter what else was going on.

When Buffy had sacrificed herself, he had felt cold and dead inside and thought he would never laugh again. When he’d accepted the position of Watcher to the active Slayer, he’d known going into it that the odds that he’d bury his slayer were nearly 100%. He hadn’t known he’d care this much. He had initially seen the Slayer as a weapon to be wielded by the Council, but Buffy had been more than that—so much more.

After her death, he had locked himself in his flat and stayed drunk for three days, wallowing in his grief. He knew it wasn’t fair to the others. They had loved her, too, and they had admirably taken up the slack. Willow and Tara had immediately taken Dawn to stay with them.

He knew he should pull himself together, if for no other reason than Dawn needed him. Her father was gone and couldn’t be located, and in a few short months she had lost both her mother and sister, but he just couldn’t bring himself to reach out yet.

Tara watched over Dawn while Spike, Willow and the Bot patrolled. He knew he wasn’t holding up his end, but he just couldn’t seem to care. It was abominably selfish of him, and he felt ashamed.

In the wee hours of the morning of the third day, there had been a knock on his door.

“Go ’way,” he’d mumbled.

“Not gonna do that. ’m stayin’ right here till you let me in, and if the sun comes up an’ dusts me, then you’ll have to get off your sorry arse and pitch in!”

“Spike. Go ’way. Not in the mood for this . . .”

“Well, here’s the thing. None of us are ‘in the mood’, then, are we? But someone’s got to do it and Red and the whelp are bone tired. Figure it’s your turn now.”

Giles stumbled to the door, opened it and peered blearily out at Spike.

Spike’s eyes held a mixture of personal pain and grief, overlaid by compassion for him, and a determination to make him see that the others needed him.

Defeated, Giles dropped his eyes and motioned Spike in. He stumbled, and felt Spike’s hand on his elbow, steadying and supporting him. Spike guided him to the overstuffed chair, and silently went into the kitchenette to make tea.

Spike poured Giles a cup of very strong, sweet tea, and guided his shaking hand as he sipped from it.

Pulling up a dining room chair, Spike straddled it, crossing his arms over the back and resting his chin on them.

“Here’s the thing, mate. Know you miss her. Know it hurts like hell, an’ you’re afraid to sleep, ’cause when you do, you forget that she’s gone for a moment an’ when you wake up an’ the realization comes crashing down on you, it’s more terrible than you can bear. But you must bear it. An’ then you think of all the things you’ve said and done, wishing you could take back the harsh words you said to her now and then, and goin’ over and over in your mind if you could have done something different . . . better . . . she might still be alive.

“She was closer than any blood kin, an’ the closest thing to a family you’ll ever have—the daughter of your heart. But the others need you. They need your strength and stability, Rupert. They’re all still reeling from the loss of Joyce, an’ with Buffy . . . gone, they need a patriarch for a bit. They need the illusion that someone’s in charge—that things aren’t all falling apart.

“You must pull yourself together, man—you’ve never shirked your duty and this would be a piss poor time to start!”

Spike’s odd mixture of comfort and censure seemed to be working. Giles felt a renewed sense of purpose begin to take root.

After he had drunk three cups of the strong tea, Spike helped him upstairs and put him to bed. Giles’ eyelids were drooping, but he forced them open long enough for a final searching look into Spike’s eyes.

“Would you . . . would you stay, William?”

Spike nodded.

“Be right downstairs, mate. I’ll hear if you need anything.”

With a smile of gratitude, Giles’ lids drifted closed and the first good sleep he’d had in weeks claimed him.

He’d woken with a sense of renewed purpose in addition to a killer hangover. Downing four aspirin, he’d then taken a long, hot shower and carefully shaved.

He hadn’t done laundry in weeks—the events Glory had set in motion had taken all their time and energy—and he realized that he had no clean underwear at all. It had been twenty-five years since he’d ‘gone commando’; he made a mental note to put ‘laundry’ at the top of his To-Do list. He found a pair of jeans that weren’t too bad, and pulled a clean sweater over his head.

He’d gone downstairs to find his flat clean and tidy. The dirty dishes had all been washed and set in the drainer with a jaunty tea towel draped over them. The mess of newspapers, desiccated food and empty Scotch bottles was completely gone. Giles was grateful not to have to face the detritus of what he’d allowed his life and apartment to become.

He put the kettle on for tea, and its piercing whistle brought a tousled blonde head out of the cocoon of blankets on his couch. He carefully checked that all the drapes were closed, and then carried the tea into his living room.

Pouring cups for Spike and himself, he sank into his chair.

Spike swung his legs over the edge of the couch, ran a hand through his hair and reached for a cup.

Giles spoke quietly. “I wanted to thank you for what you did for me last night, Spike. I’ve been a right prat, haven’t I?”

“You had reason to be. Alcohol as anesthetic? Used it m’self often enough, but couldn’t let you continue to wallow.”

“No. Quite right. I . . . I owe you an apology, Spike. I may have misjudged you. I’m becoming aware that I may not know as much about vampires as I had thought. I understood your insinuating yourself into the group to get close to Buffy but . . . last night? Buffy’s gone; there’s no possible pay-off for you that I can see in what you did last night. You showed compassion for the others . . . for me . . . for no possible reason that I can discern. You’re decidedly more than a demon walking around in a dead body. I don’t understand it; it shouldn’t be possible. I’d . . . like to get to know you better—as a person.”

An achingly sweet smile with no hint of smirk spread across Spike’s face.

“I’d like that, too, Rupert. In a hundred an’ twenty years, you and the Nibblet are the only ones who . . . well. You know what I mean.”

“Yes . . . William. I think I do.”

**********

Over the next month, the Slayerettes developed a routine. Spring term ended, and Willow and Tara left the dorm to move into the Summers’ house, doing their best to provide a home for Dawn. Giles and Anya continued to run the Magic Box, but Giles could not bring himself to enter the training room.

Spike patrolled, both alone and with the gang. He spent at least one evening each week with Dawn, hanging out, and was always willing to ‘Dawn-sit’ when Willow and Tara asked. After the conclusion of his evenings’ duties, Spike found himself frequently heading to Giles’. Sometimes he’d bring a 6-pack of Guinness; often he’d cadge Giles’ whiskey, and there was always the ubiquitous tea.

Slowly, the realization of how alike they were crept into their consciousness. They argued about football. They frequently played chess—Giles was shocked to discover how evenly matched they were. They spent an entire evening debating the merits of Benjamin Disraeli vs. William Gladstone, ending with Giles throwing a can of beer at Spike. Spike’s hysterical giggling at that point finally tipped Giles off that Spike had intentionally been winding him up.

The solid friendship that was developing allowed Spike to relax and let more of William show through than he had ever imagined possible. There were times when he even let the accent slip. After a century of burying ‘William’ deep within the persona of ‘Spike’, he finally came to understand that there were elements of both in his personality, and he began to feel whole.

For the first time in his professional career, Giles began to question the tenants of the Council that he had previously unquestionably accepted. He thought back to the near disaster that had been the Cruciamentum. He’d initially accepted that barbaric ritual as a time-honored test of the Slayer’s ingenuity. Upon reflection, he couldn’t imagine anything more bloody stupid than to intentionally disable a productive Slayer, setting her up to be killed as a test.

He now began to look at vampires in a different light. He had believed they were soulless killing machines—nothing more than a demon animating a corpse. When Spike was chipped, the demon was tamed. Unable to kill, Spike managed to find ways to adapt. Giles still worried what would happen if the chip failed, but a tiny spark of belief grew that Spike might just be strong enough to control his demon. He pushed that thought away—there lay madness and unnecessary danger for them all. But the spark of hope remained.

**********

The Magic Box stayed open until nine on Fridays, so Xander had gotten into the habit of showering after work, grabbing a quick snack, and then hanging out at the store until it was time to drive Anya home.

He was flipping through the demonology books, killing time, when something caught his eye. He was about to comment, when Spike swept into the shop looking unaccountably spiffy. The black jeans were new, and over them he was wearing a gray sweater with flecks of blues and greens in the weave, topped off with a leather blazer.

Anya sniffed. “You’re wearing cologne!” she accused.

Spike grinned. “Well, yeah. Got a date.”

Giles felt a churning sensation in his stomach. Why should it bother him if Spike had a date? He hadn’t realized how much he had come to depend upon their time together—he felt suddenly bereft, as if he had lost something essential to him. “How very strange,” he thought.

Spike continued, “There’s a cheerleader at school givin’ the Bit a rough time. The bint was tryin’ to set Dawn up with a Senior an’ called her a baby when Dawn refused. Knew she’d be getting’ in over her head, but wasn’t about to take any crap, so our Dawnie said she couldn’t be bothered with high school boys; her boyfriend was in college. Course the girl called her on it, said she was a liar, an’ one thing led to another an’ now we’re all goin’ on a double date to the movies then to the Espresso Pump. Red’s at a thing at school, so wanted to let you lot know not to worry about the Bit. We might be late.”

Giles was startled to discover that he felt—relieved.

Spike had turned to go when Xander called after him.

“What movie are you going to?”

Spike flashed a grin. “Pirates of the Caribbean. Curses, loot, evil dead and Johnny Depp. A fun time should be had by all.”

Anya elbowed Xander in the ribs.

I want to see that movie! I enjoy pirates—and Johnny Depp.”

“We’ll go tomorrow,” Xander suggested.

Anya thought for a moment. “Alright. Tonight, you can dress up like a pirate and kidnap and ravage me instead!”

Xander grabbed her around the waist and threw her over his shoulder.

“Arrrrgh! Here’s a fair damsel! I claim her as my share of the booty. Avast, me hearties!”

Giles removed his glasses and gestured to the door with them.

“Go. Both of you. Now. I’ll finish up.”

Xander carried Anya out of the shop as Giles furiously polished his glasses.

**********

It was supposed to be a routine patrol.

Xander had come down with a summer head cold and was so full of mucus, Anya claimed she could hear him slosh when he moved. She had put him to bed immediately and started vaporizers in both the bedroom and living room. The strong smell of menthol and camphor penetrated into the hall.

Willow glanced at Giles.

“Well, if there are any Respitorious Infectious demons, I think Anya’s discovered the spell to banish them!”

Giles held a handkerchief over his nose.

“We’re in agreement then? Xander and Anya will not be part of tonight’s patrol?”

Without bothering to knock, they turned and rushed from the building.

Willow sniffed her arm. “My clothes smell like Great Aunt Esther! And that was just from the hall.”

Giles cast a worried glance up at the window.

“Do you think it’s safe for them—actually being in the flat? A certain amount of un-medicated oxygen is required to sustain life, you know.”

They hurried to the Summers’ house, and put Tara in charge of making the ‘less is more’ suggestion to Anya, as it was universally agreed that Tara possessed more tact than the rest of them put together.

The evening’s assignments were divided up: Willow and Spike would do a sweep of the north and east sections; Giles and the Bot would take the west and south. Tara asked Dawn to help make an infusion of healing herbs for Xander’s cold that she had promised Anya in return for airing out the apartment and cutting back on the vaporizer use.

After changing her sweater at Spike’s insistence, Willow and Spike headed out.

They patrolled in companionable silence, checking out the park and Shadyrest cemetery. As they angled toward Rosemont, Spike noticed Willow sneaking little glances at him under her lashes.

“Don’t have a reflection, so whatever you’re findin’ so fascinating ’bout my appearance, you might as well just tell me.”

Willow blushed. “Oh, sorry. I was just wondering . . . how come you’re still helping us, Spike? I mean, with Buffy . . . gone, we figured you’d just sort of take off for greener pastures or something, but you haven’t . . .”

“Made a promise to a lady.” Spike’s voice was low and raw. “She knew we weren’t all gonna make it. If anything happened to her, promised I’d look after Dawn—till the end of the world. Not gonna let her down again.”

Willow placed a hand on Spike’s forearm.

“You’ve done that—are doing that. Don’t beat yourself up, Spike. It was her choice. Free will and all that. I get that, now. And . . . thanks.”

“Yeah. Well . . . vampires!”

Willow swung the crossbow up and dusted the one on the right while Spike leapt for the two on the left. With a flurry of kicks and punches, black duster flying, Spike pummeled the one into submission, then whirled to decapitate the second with his battle axe. As soon as Spike turned, Willow aimed for the one on the ground and fired the crossbow.

Spike flashed her a grin. “Missed the heart.” He snatched the bolt out of the vampire’s chest, plunging it back in and shaking dust off his hands and arms. “But you’re getting’ a lot better.”

“Hey! I got the first one, dead on!”

“That you did, Red. That you did.”

Grinning at each other, they continued their patrol, as Willow realized that the subconscious probation was over—Spike had become a full-fledged member of the Scooby Gang. She was glad.

**********

Giles and the Bot had nearly finished their patrol, when a flash of light from the large tree dazzled him.

“Buffy!” he called, as a large, red demon wielding a very long sword jumped from the branches. The Bot went into action, when suddenly, the demon disappeared into thin air. Her brow wrinkled as she turned, searching.

“Where did he go?”

Giles felt a sharp pain in his side as the demon materialized and stabbed him.

The Bot wrestled his sword from him, decapitating the demon, but not before a swipe laid open her bicep. Electrical sparks flashed and her left arm hung useless at her side.

“Must find Willow. If I am injured, I must return to Willow immediately,” she stated, and ignoring the injured Giles, she homed in on Willow and took off.

Spike whirled, raising his axe, as the Bot came pounding up to them.

She smiled brightly. “There you are, Willow! I am damaged and in need of repair.”

Spike glared at the Bot. “Where’s Giles?”

“He is probably still at Elmhurst Memorial. He may be damaged too, but he was not programmed to return to Willow for repair.”

Spike was incredulous. “An’ you just left him there?”

“I am programmed to return to Willow when I am damaged.”

Spike took off at a run, calling back over his shoulder.

“I’ll find Giles. You fix that bloody stupid programming!”

Willow nodded. “It’s a glitch.”

Her mind was already turning over ways to change the programming to impress upon the Bot the importance of seeing to your partner’s safety first. Why hadn’t she considered that before? Big whoops! She trusted Spike to see to Giles, so she’d better get cracking on this glitch before someone got hurt!

**********

Spike sucked in a breath as he smelled the coppery scent of blood. A knot of fear formed in his gut as he practically flew over the ground, leaping tombstones like an Olympic hurdler. If anything had happened to Giles, he’d tear that bloody machine apart with his bare hands!

A soft groan reached his ears and he put on an additional burst of speed. Dropping to the ground beside Giles, his unnecessary breath came in ragged pants. His fingers flew to the carotid artery. Giles’ pulse was rapid, but steady.

“Giles. Rupert. Can you hear me?”

“Spike?”

“Yeah. It’s me.”

Giles made an effort to sit up, causing fresh bleeding to his wound.

“Gonna get you to hospital, Rupert. Just hold on.”

Giles’ hand gripped Spike’s forearm.

“No hospital. Just a flesh wound. Sword glanced off my ribs. Nothing . . . major . . . skewered.”

Shrugging off his duster, Spike wrapped it around Giles to keep him warm.

“Just . . . help me . . . home . . . Spike.”

Sliding one arm under Giles’ knees and the other under his shoulders, Spike picked him up, pressing Giles close to his own ribs to keep pressure on the wound and made his way as fast as he dared, without too much jostling, to Giles’ apartment.

Laying Giles on the couch, he hurried to the kitchenette, where he filled a bowl with warm water and grabbed a handful of clean dishcloths.

Cutting away Giles’ bloodstained shirt, he gently cleaned the wound, heaving a sigh of relief as the evidence of his own eyes confirmed Giles’ self-diagnosis.

Disinfecting the wound, he held the edges together with butterfly strips, then wrapped gauze tightly around Giles’ body.

After emptying the bloody water, Spike rinsed out the bowl and filled it with fresh water. With infinite gentleness, he sponged Giles’ face and chest. Giles’ hand reached out to grip his wrist, halting his ministrations.

“Spike . . .” Giles whispered, as clear hazel eyes caught and held ones that darkened to midnight blue under that gaze.

Spike slowly lowered his head until his lips brushed Rupert’s.

Giles’ hand moved to the back of Spike’s neck as he pulled him closer. The spark of passion that was ignited by that kiss startled them both, and Spike attempted to pull away. Giles’ hand tightened on the back of his neck and, with a groan, Spike deepened the kiss. At Giles’ involuntary gasp of pain, as he moved more than his wound would allow, Spike immediately pulled back.

“Well . . .” Spike gave a nervous laugh, “didn’t see that coming!”

“Didn’t you?”

Spike thought about it.

“Knew I’d rather spend time with you than anyone else, Rupert. Found m’self lookin’ forward to our times together, but the physical attraction? Have to say, that caught me by surprise.”

“I’ve been feeling it for some time . . . I’m surprised you didn’t notice.”

Spike grinned ruefully. “Keen vampire senses are all well and good, but the git receivin’ the input has to be able to recognize the source! I guess I just never thought of you as . . .”

“Gay? I don’t actually think I am. It’s not men in general I’m attracted to—it’s you as an individual, Spike.”

“Well, that works out nicely, then, as I seem to be attracted to you too, Rupert.”

“Have you ever . . . I mean . . .”

“Well, yeah. Vampires are pretty much inherently bisexual. The feeding an’ all is a sexual rush by itself, an’ . . . you?”

“I matriculated in the British Public school system,” Giles stated dryly. “As an adult . . . actually, no.”

“Well, then. I guess we’ll just have to make it up as we go along. Should be fun.”

“Oh, yes.”

**********

“Eight, if you include Evil Dead and C-3PO, and statistically . . .”

“Have some Berry Blue, sweetie.” Anya thrust a glass into his hand before Willow decided to turn him into a toad or something.

Tara broke in before the argument between Willow and Xander could escalate.

“Do-do you think that before we go any further with this, that maybe we could just—ask them?”

“You mean talk to them about it? Together?”

Tara smiled. “That’s exactly what I mean, Xander.”

There was a stunned silence while the Scoobies processed this eminently reasonable suggestion.

Xander shrugged. “Maybe it’d be better if we just talked to Giles first. See if he’s been hit with the hocus pocus before we bring Spike into it.”

Dawn rolled her eyes. “That’ll be kind of hard, since Spike’s staying at Giles’.”

Xander stared at her. “Since when?”

“Since you had that bad cold a few months ago and Giles got hurt on patrol. Spike moved back in to take care of him and he’s been there ever since,” Anya explained.

The Bot added, “Giles needed care because he was not programmed to return to Willow when he was damaged.”

Xander threw up his hands. “And I suppose you all knew about this ‘engagement’, too? I guess I’m really ‘out-of-the-loop-guy’.”

Willow grinned. “Nope. We were pretty much all out of the loop on that one! But Tara’s right, we’re not gonna come up with any answers here.”

“Right,” said Dawn. “Let’s go.”

**********

The group bunched themselves together in front of Giles’ door and paused, eyes flicking from one to the other, waiting for someone to make the first move.

With a sigh of exasperation, Dawn shoved to the forefront and knocked.

Spike answered the door, a look of uncertainty in his eyes as he saw the entire Scooby Gang en masse.

Dawn threw herself into his arms and hugged him hard.

“This is so cool! Why didn’t you tell me? I tell you everything! It’s not a spell, is it? It’s for real, right?”

Spike hugged her back and quickly swept her off to the side as the rest of the crew erupted into the apartment.

Giles was sitting at the table, four reference books spread out before him. He looked tired, but happy.

There was a glow of deep contentment about him that Willow hadn’t seen in years—not since the early days of his relationship with Jenny Calendar. He had occasionally dated after Jenny’s murder, but had never recaptured that glowing happiness . . . until now.

Willow moved to stand beside him at the table and took his hand in both of hers. She looked deeply into his eyes.

“It’s not a spell, is it? You’re really happy—with Spike.”

A bashful smile touched Giles’ lips as he nodded.

Willow leaned down and hugged him hard.

“I’m so glad,” she whispered.

“Well,” Dawn said cheerfully, “since this looks like it’s turning into an engagement party, shouldn’t there be food and stuff?”

Everyone began talking at once, and the apartment became a flurry of activity.

Xander and Anya and Tara made a provision run; after dropping them at the supermarket to pick up cold cuts, cheeses and crackers, Xander continued to the Wine and Spirits store for a bottle of champagne and other libations.

Willow and Giles were seated at the table talking, while Dawn was curled up on the couch next to Spike, when there was a knock at the door. The four looked at each other quizzically—it was much too soon for the ‘catering crew’ to be back.

Giles answered the door to find the Bot beaming at him, brandishing a pitcher containing a radioactive-looking blue fluid.

“Hello, Guyles! Everyone else drove over here, but I did not mind walking. I brought you some of Anya’s blue juice. She showed me her secret recipe. Isn’t it pretty? It’s very blue.”

“That’s ‘Berry Blue’,” Dawn supplied.

“No, the Buffybot was correct,” Giles countered. “It’s very blue!”

**********

Several hours later, the party was still going strong.

After setting out the food and putting the wine and beer and the Bot’s Kool-Aid into the fridge to chill, Giles had opened the champagne, wincing slightly at Xander’s choice of vintage. Even Dawn was permitted to have a glass. No one but Spike noticed that she had continued to surreptitiously sip from his glass all evening, sampling the merlot, Chianti and whiskey that had been making the rounds.

Feeling rather mellow, she asked into a lull in the conversation, “So, do you guys have engagement rings or anything? How does this work? Do you get diamonds for each other or what?”

“Good Lord, no!”

The laughter that greeted the look of horror on Giles’ face soon had him joining in also.

“Well there should be something to show you’re engaged,” Dawn pressed.

“Here,” Giles said, removing his wristwatch and presenting it to Spike with a bow.

The merriment increased as Spike blushed, but he clasped the watch tightly.

“I don’t have anything for you,” he mumbled.

“How about your duster?” Dawn suggested.

Spike looked like he was ready to faint.

“My . . . my coat? But that’s . . .”

Giles came to his rescue.

“Not bloody likely! I much prefer the coat on Spike.” He waggled his eyebrows in a parody of a leer. “Although, I must say, in case of a divorce, I shall request custody of the duster, as it does seem to provide an unfair advantage in the sex appeal department.”

Xander clasped his hands over his ears. “TMI! Way TMI!!”

“But Spike has to provide an engagement gift for Giles, or it’s not official,” Dawn decided.

Spike grinned as an idea occurred to him. Standing up, he dug into the pocket of his jeans, coming up with his Zippo.

“Will this do?”

“Perfect!” Dawn agreed. “Now that’s settled, when’s the wedding?”

“How about Halloween?” Willow suggested. “It’s the perfect date for a commitment ceremony between a sage/spell-caster and a vampire, and it gives us almost six weeks to plan everything. Plus, it’s a quiet night for the creepy-crawlies, so we won’t have to worry about patrols.”

As the excited planning swirled around him, Xander glanced at the books on Giles’ table. Recognizing the one he had been looking through at the Magic Box before getting distracted by pirate fantasies, he flipped through the book looking for the demon he wanted to ask about.

“Here, look!” Xander exclaimed. “Daemonious Buxis Familia: ‘Bush’ demon or ‘Shrub’ demon family. Currently resides in the Southern United States. Daemonious Buxis Familia excels at sowing dissention and in confusing its prey by incorrect use of language and malapropism. Warlike and frequently belligerent, it is not lethal of itself. Its main danger lies in its ability to incite others to violence. First known sightings appeared in ancient Greece as minions to Ares, God of War. Do you guys think . . .”

“Of course, sweetie. I though everyone knew. I dated Jeb once or twice in my demon days.”

Anya patted his shoulder and handed him a glass of wine.

Xander drank it down in one gulp.

**********

All Hallows’ Eve dawned clear and sunny, but with a hint of crispness in the air. Giles and Anya prepared for a busy day at the Magic Box, with the Bot pressed into heavy-lifting and package-wrapping duties. Xander agreed to come in immediately after work to help out.

Willow and Tara set themselves the task of transforming the training room into an appropriate setting for the ceremony. With much whispering and giggling, they proceeded with the decorating, firmly refusing all requests for ‘just a peek’ until everything was ready.

Spike had been banished to the Summers’ residence, under Dawn’s watchful eye, as Anya had declared it would be extremely bad luck for Spike and Giles to even catch a glimpse of each other before the actual ceremony.

At nine o’clock, the last customer was ushered out, and the ‘CLOSED’ sign firmly affixed to the door.

Xander and Anya went home to change and Willow accompanied Giles to his apartment in her capacity as his ‘Best Woman’, as Dawn was acting for Spike. Tara remained at the shop to take care of the last minute preparations.

At exactly ten o’clock, Tara threw open the doors to a collective gasp. The training room had been transformed into an ersatz enchanted glade that looked as if it had been transported directly from the English countryside. Wearing a flowing dress of moss green velvet, Tara looked like a wood sprite as she guided Xander, Anya and the Bot to their seats, which were designed to look like toadstools.

The strains of Love Me Tender filtered through the glade as Giles, in black tie and tails, accompanied by Willow, entered from the side door. Willow’s gown was similar to Tara’s, and in keeping with the woodland theme, was a rich, burnished bronze.

Love me tender,
love me sweet;
never let me go.
You have made my life complete,
and I love you so.

Love me tender,
love me true,
all my dreams fulfilled.
For my darlin' I love you,
and I always will.

When they had taken their places in the open center of a copse of trees, Dawn and Spike appeared at the main entrance. Spike was resplendent in white tie and tails, and Dawn’s gown was the color of an English primrose.

Love me tender,
love me long,
take me to your heart.
For it's there that I belong,
and we'll never part.

Love me tender,
love me dear,
tell me you are mine.
I'll be yours through all the years,
till the end of time.

“Thank you. Thank you verra much.”

The entire wedding party burst into laughter and applause, as what they had assumed was a CD was revealed to be an actual Elvis impersonator, dressed in a sequined white leather jumpsuit and matching cape. He lifted his upper lip in the trademark snarl and adjusted the high collar of his suit as he made his way to the copse.

“Do you, Rupert Giles, promise to always love him tender, keep the romance All Shook Up and walk by his side in the warm Kentucky Rain?”

Giles, who had turned an interesting shade of puce, managed to sputter, “I do.”

“And will you, Spike Williams, let Rupert be your Teddy Bear, promise to never step on his Blue Suede Shoes and always be his Hunka-hunka Burning Love?”

Spike and Dawn were clinging to each other, laughing so hard no one was sure if Spike was supporting Dawn or vice versa.

Hunka-hunka burning love?” Dawn gasped.

Spike elbowed her in the ribs. “Bloody right, I do!”

“May I have the rings?” ‘Elvis’ requested.

Willow and Dawn each managed to produce simple white gold bands, a happy compromise, as Spike had originally wanted silver, but Giles complained that silver turned his skin green.

“By the power vested in me by the Memphis Mafia, I now pronounce you committed.”

“To Belleview,” Xander muttered, but he was grinning as happily as everyone else.

Spike swept Giles off his feet into a passionate kiss and the entire wedding party cheered.

‘Elvis’ reached into a hidden pocket of his jumpsuit and produced an envelope, which he handed to Giles.

“This here’s a deluxe honeymoon package for three days and two nights in Las Vegas, courtesy of your friends.” His arm swept out to encompass the group.

“I . . . I don’t know what to say . . .” Giles began.

Spike broke in, “Just say ‘Thank you. Thank you verra much’!”

Dawn was herding Spike and Giles to the door.

“If you leave now, you can make it to Vegas before the sun comes up,” she said.

Their happiness palpable, Giles and Spike turned to wave and then hurried out of the store.

As the tinkling sounds of the shop bell died away, the Scoobies smiled tiredly at each other.

“That went really well,” Dawn stated.

“It was lovely,” Tara added softly.

“I was so afraid we weren’t going to get everything done, but it was perfect,” Willow agreed. “I never realized planning a wedding was such hard work! But everything turned out and now that it’s finally over, we can relax.”

Anya raised her left hand as the hundreds of candles illuminating the room reflected the facets of her ring, sending a rainbow of color and sparkle into everyone’s eyes.

“Xander and I have an announcement to make . . .”


The End


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