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Certainty by myrabeth

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Story Notes:

AtS Season 5 canon is broken, the events we know taking place out of order and over the course of two years. Buffy POV.

 

“Do you, Aiden, take Buffy to be your lawfully wedded wife? To have and to hold...”

 

Aiden is silent for the briefest of moments after the magistrate finishes reciting the vow, and I can see what's happening in his eyes. His wedding nerves are falling away, and his face is breaking into a confident smile. The certainty makes my stomach flutter.

 

I never thought a man would be sure of me again. But here he is, the surprise of my life, a human who fell in love with a broken stranger, accepts her calling, and wants to marry her. Ok, so he's obviously a little weird, but according to the flutter in my stomach, that's not necessarily a bad thing.

 

“I do.”

 

“And do you, Buffy, take Aiden to be your lawfully wedded hus--”

 

“You bet your sweet patootie she doesn't!”

 

We all turn toward the voice coming from the back of the hall, and are faced with a tall, green demon in a tan three-piece suit accented with a purple cravat. He only makes it about a third of the way up the aisle before a dozen slayers are between him and me, and there are a lot of pointy things aimed his direction.

 

The demon comes to a sudden halt, and puts his hands up in the air. He looks over the heads of the girls to my maids of honor. “Willow? Faith? Help a fellow out?”

 

“Stand down!” Faith says in a loud, stern voice I've only heard her use a few times. I think of it as her 'slayer in charge' voice. She doesn't like being seen as I am, as a commander, so she only sounds like it when she feels she has to. I immediately know something important is happening, just by the tone of her voice.

 

“Buffy, Aiden,” Willow says, gesturing in introduction as the weapons are lowered. “This is Lorne. He's a friend of Angel's.”

 

“Just a colleague, these days,” the demon -Lorne- corrects. “Things have changed stateside, kids. Lots of things.”

 

I drop Aiden's hands to turn to face the intruder with my hands on my hips. “This is not what I meant when I sent Angel an invitation. Is he trying to intrude on my love life by remote control, so he doesn't get staked? If not, there had better be an apocalypse going down, right this minute, or somebody is about to start bleeding. In case you didn't notice, I'm in the middle of my wedding, here!”

 

No, you're not,” Lorne says, his voice low and calm, in contrast to my shouting. “And there is an apocalypse coming. Not this minute, exactly, but we're looking at about twenty-four hours, tops. LA is about to see some fireworks, honey. And not the kind you unroll the picnic blanket for.”

 

I look around at my groom, our wedding party, our guests, and my own fluffy white dress. “Yeah, this definitely looks like I'm getting married.” I wave him off. “Sit down. We'll strategize during the reception.” I turn back to Aiden and take his hands again. “Sorry, I think I might have to raincheck the honeymoon. Duty calls.”

 

“At least I know I'll never be bored with you,” he replies, shaking his head. He addresses the magistrate. “Um, should we take it from the top?”

 

“Buffy,” Lorne says. “You can't. You need to get to LA.”

 

“You said we have twenty-four hours. This will only take a minute.” I turn back to face him, keeping my grip on Aiden this time. “Now sit down!”

 

“Don't take that minute, Shortcake. He sent you a message, and it's kind of urgent.”

 

“If it has anything to do with a claddagh ring--”

 

“Not Angel. He said I should greet you with 'Hello, Cutie.'”

 

I feel my jaw drop, and my hands fall away from the warm grip they were held in. I'm vaguely aware of a growing murmur of confusion rising around me as I stare at this green-skinned, red-horned interloper. His eyes are red, too, but they look kind. They look honest and sincere. He's not pulling a fast one on me. This isn't the trickery that ruined Xander and Anya's wedding a few years ago. This is a friend of a friend, bringing me the two sweetest words I've ever heard, words I'd nearly forgotten.

 

That's how he greeted me that night, the first night we ever fought on the same side, the first time we ever had a private conversation, the first time he let me see the man behind the fangs.

 

This can't be real. Sure, Lorne is obviously being sincere, but that doesn't mean he wasn't told what to say to me by someone who wants to lure me to LA with my guard down, someone who's using his honest eyes for something evil. Good guys get conned all the time. It's not exactly the newest trick in the book.

 

...Except that no one else was present for that conversation, if you don't count an unconscious cop. No one but me knew he ever said those two words to me, or that they translate in my mind into 'We need to go into battle on the same side, love. I wouldn't ask if I didn't have to.'

 

When I find my voice, it's barely loud enough for Lorne to hear me over all the other voices around us. “What's the rest of the message?”

 

“He thought that would be enough, but--”

 

“It is.” I step off the platform, and the slayers clear the aisle between me and the demon. “I just... I need to hear more.”

 

He pulls a little glowing ball from his left jacket pocket. “Teleportation spell. An old friend owed me a favor. I can have you in earshot in seconds.”

 

“That's not what I meant.”

 

I glance around again. Aiden looks deeply confused. Faith's guard has gone back up. She's visibly tense, and the slayers are looking to her for how to interpret what's going on. Willow is trading worried looks with Xander, who is seated in the front row with Giles and Dawn. Another Scooby wedding is crashing down around us, and they can tell.

 

But no one knows enough to know why. It occurs to me that it's not an accident Lorne was sent with words only I would know how to interpret. He's trying to get me out of here without anyone having enough information to talk me out of it, or try to hold me back.

 

“The rest of the message...” Lorne raises his right hand and splays his fingers out, curling them slightly.

 

Any shred of doubt or common sense I had left is gone. “Faith, get a team together and meet us there.” Without waiting for a reply, I'm rushing toward Lorne, tangling the fingers of my left hand with his right the second I can reach him. “Now go!”

 

Lorne crushes the little ball in his left hand and the hall disappears, immediately replaced by the lobby of some kind of office building. I look around as my hand drops from his. 'Wolfram & Hart' is emblazoned across the front of the reception desk, where the late Harmony Kendall has stopped chewing her bubble gum to gawk at us. A small, blue-haired woman in dark red leather is standing at the bottom of the open staircase, nodding calmly at the sight of a green demon and a slayer in a wedding dress appearing out of nowhere. Above her, a scruffy-looking guy who reminds me of Wesley leans on the railing, looking pleasantly surprised. I turn back around to look at the open office door behind Lorne. Angel is standing there with his arms crossed over his chest, wearing an expression I can't quite read. And beside him...

 

“I told you so, Liam. Two words. Green, vouch for me.”

 

Lorne shrugs as he steps aside, giving me a clearer view of the two men in the doorway. “I guess they were the right two words.”

 

I'm staring, awestruck at the reality of him, of the true meaning behind those two words. He's back. He's real. He's standing beside Angel in a giant office building like it's the most natural thing in the world.

 

“Sorry, love.” Spike gestures casually to my dress. “I know you had plans today.” He smirks. “But sending Angel an invite to it was bloody inspired. He's been pouting for weeks.”

 

“Uh-huh.” I'm still staring at him. “You... You're really here.”

 

He nods. “Got to her in time, didn't you, Greenie?”

 

“Just barely,” Lorne says. “And as a side note, a warning that the guest list was full of people who kill non-humans for a living would have been nice, Crumbcake.”

 

He chuckles at that as he comes toward me. “So long as you stopped it.”

 

He's almost close enough to reach me when I manage to find words. “I'm not really dressed for an apocalypse.”

 

“Yeah, well Mr. 'I Can Get Her Here with Two Words' also knows your sizes, and went shopping for you,” Angel says bitterly, gesturing to the office behind him. He adds in a low grumble, “Stalker.”

 

Look who's talking,” Spike says over his shoulder. To me he says, “Tomorrow's gonna be rough, love. Could use your help, if you're up for it.”

 

“I have been, for 742 days,” I whisper when he is standing in front of me, holding out his right hand much the same way Lorne did in London a couple of minutes ago.

 

“More like 685, but it's a long story.”

 

I interlink our fingers, and gasp at the contact. The last time we did this, our hands were on fire, and we both knew he was dying. But now, his grip is as cool and strong as ever, and I can feel that bone-deep certainty that he's not going anywhere.

 

'A hundred plus years, and there's only one thing I've ever been sure of...'

 

The look of certainty in Aiden's eyes as he said 'I do' made my stomach flutter, and I thought it was enough. He was sure about me, sure I was the one for him, and I reveled in that feeling, in that echo of something I thought I'd lost, something I never expected to get back.

 

He had no idea what he was getting into with me. What he's been good-natured about so far would have worn on him after a few years, rather than make him even more invested in the crazy life I live. He's never fought beside me, never been a part of the crazy. He's a spectator, a cheerleader. That's nice and all, but it's not the same as a having a partner in every sense of the word.

 

Aiden's certainty is nothing compared to the power of a vampire's grip on my hand and the look in those dark blue eyes. Aiden thinks he's willing to give me everything he has, thinks he'd lay down his life for me. But it's not enough, not compared to the guy who's already done it.

 

I'm not going back to London. I'm not going to marry a human, even a really great one like Aiden. Because it isn't enough for me. Because it never was, even when I tried to convince myself it was. I've never been so sure of anything in my entire life.

 

“Tell me after we save the world?”

 

“Sure.” He looks down at my dress with a grin. “So what was the first dance gonna be?”

 

“I told him to surprise me, but that Bette Midler was off the table.”

 

He laughs. “Outgrew it?”

 

“I considered it taken.”

 

I guess that's all the confirmation he needs. His hand breaks away from mine so he can grab me, pulling me closer and kissing me like it's the only thing he's ever wanted.

 

It's all I've ever wanted, too. Maybe there was other stuff, I vaguely recall having a few mental bucket lists over the years, but right now, I can't think of a single thing that was on them. All I can feel is the cool pressure of his mouth, his iron grip on my body, and the soft ease of knowing the world is as it should be, a feeling I haven't had since the last night I spent in his arms, the night before...

 

I break the kiss, gasping for breath. “So, um, the message. That kinda sounded like the Bat Signal to me. World Save-age?”

 

Spike nods toward the office doorway Angel is still occupying as he stares at the floor. “Clothes and weapons in there. Get changed, and we'll fill you in.”

 

“Ok.” I can't make myself pull away from him. “We'll both survive it, right?”

 

“Have to,” he says with a shrug. “It's your turn, and I'm not gonna let that happen.”

 

“Fair enough. Come on. You guys can talk to me while I get out of this fluffy thing. I might need someone to unbutton the back.” I start toward the office, making it only a few steps before I realize no one else is moving. “Are we going to go be heroes tomorrow or not?”

 

They all exchange looks. Angel is the first to speak. He waves everyone toward his office and leads us in. “You heard her. Let's go to work.”

 

Spike takes my hand as we walk toward the door, and I find myself struggling to remember what my world was like an hour ago. All I know is, it wasn't right, it wasn't sure, and my stomach shouldn't have been fluttering.

 

I was supposed to be on my honeymoon tomorrow, enjoying the peace of a beach on a Caribbean island with an adoring human man beside me, my stomach fluttering whenever he gave me the slightest gesture of his feelings for me. Instead, I'll be in some kind of war zone, with my undead partner beside me, fighting for my life and his, and my stomach won't flutter even once.

 

It never has with him.

 

This is what certainty feels like.

 

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