Tunnel Light:

One year after "Embracing Darkness"

They say your wedding gown is one dress that you'll only get to wear once. Anya got to wear hers twice. Buffy watches as the ex-vengeance demon moves across the dance floor in Xander's arms; the looks across their faces couldn't possibly be more joyful. Then Buffy's view is tilted and she looks up at the vampire before her as he pulls her out of a dip. Buffy and Spike twirl in circles across the dance floor moving smoother then any other couple in the room.

This wedding is smaller then Xander and Anya's first, but it also goes off without a hitch. Only immediate family and close friends have been invited which has so far kept the ruckus down to a minimum, although Buffy has still had to keep an eye on Xander's father since he's been prone to fluttering toward the bar. Also the horrendous green bridesmaid dresses, which all mysteriously were lost over the years, have been replaced by classic little black dresses for which everyone is glad.

Buffy scans Spike up and down taking in his impeccable appearance. His hair is slicked back and the classic black and white tux he wears fits him perfectly. Then the song they've been dancing to ends and Buffy and Spike make their way back to their table. Buffy thinks that this is how things should have gone the first time around. This is the way that weddings are supposed to be. No demons, no running into your ex who's there with another woman, and certainly no watching your best friend leave his bride at the altar.

"Oh, I love this song," Dawn squeals as Buffy and Spike near the table.

"Well nibblet, care to dance?" Spike asks extending his hand to the younger girl.

"Oh! Yes, please," Dawn exclaims with a squeal while Buffy sits down next to Willow and Kennedy then watches Spike and Dawn disappear onto the dance floor.

"She's really grown up a lot," Willow says watching Dawn smile brightly as she dances with Spike. Buffy turns to watch and smiles as well. They both look happy.

Spike moves his arm over Dawn's head sending the young girl into a gleeful spin then pulls her back to him. Their friendship has not only mended but grown in the past year and the two are now closer then ever. Dawn's toothy grin beams up at the vampire as they continue to dance.

"So," Dawn prods.

"So what nibblet?"

"So when are you and Buffy gonna get married?" Spike lets out a low chuckle.

"I don't think that's in the cards for us pet."

"Why not?"

"Just isn't."

"But you guys are so great together, and you love each other, and you're both gonna be together forever anyway, and everyone is totally accepting of you guys now, I mean hello you're a groomsman at Xander's wedding." Spike lets out another low laugh then sends Dawn into spin once again. When he pulls her back to him he can tell by the look on her face that she's still expecting answers.

"Look bit, it's like this… your sis and I just have something different… something that, it's just not something you celebrate with a wedding… it's something bigger." Upon his last word Dawn's face lights up and Spike knows that he's cut off her line of questioning, at least for the time being.

After some short conversation with Willow and Kennedy Buffy wanders off as the pair disappears to the dance floor. She sees Mr. Harris making his way to the bar again and decides to step in. Things have been so perfect so far, she refuses to let anything mess this night up now. Buffy steps up behind Xander's father just as he sits down. The man is staring at his reflection in the wide mirror behind the bartender, but with Buffy's lack of reflection he does not see her coming up behind him. Buffy places a hand on the man's shoulder causing him to jump slightly and he turns to face her.

"Mr. Harris," Buffy says.

"Well hey-low there sweet thing, you startled me, I didn't uh… didn't see you there."

"Yeah," Buffy says pulling Mr. Harris out of his chair before the bartender even has a chance to set his drink down. "I think you should be getting back to your table now."

"But I just ordered a…"

"Bar's closed now," Buffy cuts the older man off and continues to guide him through the crowd. Once he's officially seated at a table Buffy starts to walk away, but he grabs her hand as she tries to leave.

"Just so you know pretty lady... golly, you've got the coldest hands, anyway, if you wanna bust otta this shindig we could…" Buffy jerks her hand away from Mr. Harris's grasp.

"No thanks," Buffy says as she successfully walks away.

After a few feet Xander comes into view and Buffy's face lights up as she walks toward him. He's lost a little weight and looks like he's been working out a little. She embraces the newly wed in a tight hug and Xander squeezes back.

"Ah, Buff, still need to breathe," Xander gasps and Buffy lets go and takes a step back.

"Oh, Sorry."

"It's alright, what's a few cracked ribs between friends eh." Buffy smiles.

"Congratulations Xander, you and Anya, you've got the real deal. I'm happy for you."

"Thanks, although I gotta say I'm not the only one who seems to have found the real deal," Xander says as his eyes focus on something behind Buffy. She turns to see that his sight is focused on Spike and Dawn dancing. Buffy turns back to Xander with a smile. Things between Xander and Spike have been better over the last year, Buffy even believes that he's come to accept her relationship with him, however he's never said anything about it before.

"Thanks Xander, really… that means a lot from you."

"Yeah well… He's still not my favorite person, but I get it Buff, I really do, and I'm glad you're happy." Buffy's smile widens and she embraces Xander in another hug.

"Hey!" Anya's voice sounds in a slightly annoyed tone. "Xander's mine… officially now." Buffy and Xander part and turn to see Anya holding up her hand displaying the diamond ring on her fourth finger. "You just keep your undead slayer hands to yourself."

"Ayn, hun," Xander says wrapping an arm around her shoulders. "It was just a friend hug."

"Oh I know… I mean after all Buffy and Spike have been going at it like Haorlag demons, but still… you're mine, I just need to make sure that stays clear." Buffy watches Xander's face flush and Buffy knows that if her face could as well that she would be red as a tomato right now. Xander turns to his bride with a smile and gives her a peck on the lips then they both turn back to Buffy.

"Thank you for coming Buffy, your presence was quite enjoyed." Buffy smiles and gives Anya a hug.

Two years ago when Buffy first came back and everything felt like she was falling into a black hole, especially relationships, Xander and Anya were her light at the end of the tunnel. They were proof that things could work out; then everything went to hell, but really there had just been a bump in the road as she traveled through that tunnel and now she's over the bump. Now Buffy is walking into the light.

"Congratulations guys," Buffy says and with a nod she turns toward the table where she sees Spike waiting for her.

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