Chapter 3

“Will you stop wriggling! It’s hard enough doing this back to front without you making such a fuss, you baby!”

“’m not makin’ a fuss! You’re cutting off my circulation!”

“You don’t have a circulation, dead-boy. Now stand still!”

Spike was half-dressed in his wedding suit and Xander was struggling to tie the cravat at his throat as Spike kept pulling it away from his neck and popping the fastener open.

“Aaargh! That’s it – I’m done. You do it!” Xander backed away, throwing his hands up before flinging himself on the couch.

“I can’t bloody well do it, can I, you pillock? I can’t see what I’m doing, now can I? Vampire, remember? Aw, come on, mate…”

With a heavy sigh, Xander hauled himself to his feet and moved round to stand between Spike and the mirror. “If you can’t see anything in the mirror, why stand in front of it?”

“It’s just, traditional. You get dressed and look in the mirror.”

“You are the strangest vampire I’ve ever met. And only a Scooby could say that without it being a weird statement. Right; that’s it.”

Standing back, Xander admired his handiwork. “Hmm. You’ll do; no doubt the Buffster will think you’re super primo. Your hair could use some work though.” Xander reached up to tug at the unruly, peroxide-free curls.

Spike pulled away, sneering. “Hey! I’ve not done it yet, have I? This is just a try-on. Come on, you ninny, get your togs on. I need to make sure you’re not letting me down in the style stakes. No poncey shirts allowed; I know you can’t resist a flowery number.”

“I am not getting undressed in here with you, Spike! Yeah, I agreed to be best man but that doesn’t include flashing you a glimpse of the old Xander love-machine. No way.”

“As if I’m interested! Pffft! You are seriously delusional, mate. You’re not my type.”

“As I recall you saying before, I’m a nummy treat and don’t you forget it. Anyway, we don’t have time. Get those things off and back on the hanger. I’ve got a stag night to arrange.”

“Yeah; can’t wait. Right rollickin’ time me, you and Giles are gonna have. What we gonna do – sit around and swap tea-brewing tips?”

“Aha! That’s where you’re very, very wrong! I have it all planned out, I just have to go pick up a few things. So come on – let’s move it!”

Spike had stripped off the sleek jacket and trousers and was laying them reverently on the bed, smoothing the fabric down. Removing the cravat and undoing the shirt, he glanced up to see Xander looking at him with an amused smirk gracing his features.


“It’s just, I can’t get used to the Big Bad being concerned about creased pants. It’s just odd.”

The raised eyebrow in reply just made Xander laugh. “Nah. I’m not getting the ‘I’m gonna eat you’ vibe. Might be the fact that you’re stood there with your knackers hanging out below your shirt. Not a very threatening pose, I have to tell you.”

Xander ducked the shoe whistling towards his head and headed off to the bathroom. Left alone, Spike continued undressing, arranging the shirt, cravat and suit in the holder before hanging it up. After shrugging into his jeans and black t-shirt, he stroked his hand through his hair making a mental note to himself to get it cut before the wedding. Smiling to himself he decided he’d go one further, have the bleach job redone. He hadn’t had it bleached since Rome, Buffy saying she liked his curls and natural colour. But he wanted to remind her that in marrying him she wasn’t just marrying the man – she was marrying the monster inside him, the black leather duster and peroxide hair the symbol of that melding. And let’s face it – she always did love a bit of monster in her man…

Xander walked back in to find Spike tidying away the boxes and wrappings the accessories and suit had come in. He marvelled at how the vampire could still give off an air of menace whilst carrying out such domestic tasks. He marvelled further at the fact that it no longer freaked him. In fact, it comforted him in a way – it was familiar, the feeling of not-quite safety engendered by being in proximity to a creature whose primary imperative was to rip and rend. It reminded him of home.

Inevitably, thinking of home caused him a sharp stab of pain as he recalled the last time he’d been there. Anya. Beautiful, unique, stupidly brave Anya. He still loved her, always would. He’d tried to move on in the years since her death but nobody had come close. Maybe he was destined to be alone, a punishment for the way he’d treated her – the abandoned wedding. He could live with that, welcomed it in fact. He wrapped the pain around himself like a cloak. If he still felt the anguish, she wasn’t really gone.

Noting Xander’s pensive face as he flopped down on the couch, Spike had a flash of empathy for him. It had been a while since there’d been any outright enmity between the two men. After Sunnydale imploded Xander drifted off, not keeping in touch with the old gang. It was a full year before he made any contact, seeking Willow out by e-mail. After much coaxing he’d been persuaded to visit England and hadn’t left after being seconded by Giles into the new Watcher’s Council. He couldn’t fight, not with his lack of depth perception, but he’d discovered a latent and surprising talent for demonic languages. Having spent his entire tenure as a Scooby actively avoiding research, he now ran a small department dedicated to it. Ironic.

So it was at the Council’s London headquarters that Spike and Xander had come face to face when Buffy attended her first Council meeting. It hadn’t gone too badly – Xander hadn’t tried to stake Spike and in return Spike kept his fangs sheathed. After being thrown together by circumstances, despite much grumbling and cussing the two men reached a tentative truce. At first Xander wouldn’t even acknowledge a relationship between Buffy and the vampire, trusting instead to that Sunnydale selective memory that allowed him to ignore the handholding and kisses that inevitably peppered any Spike/Buffy meeting. Eventually, even Xander’s single eye couldn’t ignore the fact that Buffy radiated happiness, more than he’d ever seen in all the time he’d known her. Giving up the last remaining vestige of his teenage crush, he’d hugged her and told her sincerely that if Spike was the one who made her skin zing, he wished them every happiness. Buffy cried, hugging him back and whispering ‘thank you’. The simple acceptance by her oldest friends of the man she loved was the final icing on her cake of bliss. Or should that be cookie.

Over the months, Spike and Xander had inch-by-inch opened up to each other, grudgingly giving respect and being politely civil, both in person and more remote dealings. Spike found he actually looked forward to the teasing exchanges that always punctuated their interaction and more and more often he rang or e-mailed Xander just to chat. Xander in return took delight in trying to outdo Spike in the snark stakes, the amiable ribbing cementing the fragile bond of friendship that had sprung up so unexpectedly between them. Still, he’d been surprised and touched when Spike asked him to be best man.

Shaking off his melancholy, Xander jumped to his feet, covering the turmoil of his feelings in the time-honoured male way by play-punching Spike in the arm. The two men’s eyes met. Spike understood; Xander acknowledged it with a brief nod.

“Right then, Spike, times a-wasting and there’s much malt beverage to be bought. I’m gonna drop you at Giles’ flat then head on out to complete the fiendishly evil plans I’ve been plotting to see out your bachelor days in style. You ready?”

“Not sure. Depends what’s on the agenda. Run it by me.”

“Nope. Nuh huh. That’s not the way it goes, and you know it. You’ll have to wait until later. Come on; if you don’t whine, I’ll let you choose the music in the car for a treat.”

“I don’t whine, you ponce! And no bloody bimbos, alright? Don’t fancy getting staked by the bride if she smells another bird on me. You hear me, Harris?”

“Move your lily-white ass to the car, Spike. I’ll take objections en route.”

The banter moved away down the corridor, through the doorway to the underground garage and out of earshot.



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