Buffy sat at her vanity trying to remember to breathe while Willow and Dawn fixed her hair. Anya declined Buffy's invitation to join them in her typical tactless fashion. She was not happy that Buffy was getting married before she and Xander were. It had not been Buffy's idea to get married so quickly, but Angel wanted to get married on New Year's Eve. It was going to be a small affair with just their family and friends in attendance. Her father was in New York City for the holidays and, big surprise, was unable to attend. She had hoped her father would be there to give her away like other girl's fathers had been doing for centuries, but Giles had come for Christmas and would be instead. He had been more of a father to her the past six years so it seemed sort of fitting.
Last night everyone had come over for a traditional goose dinner, traditional for Angel's people. True, the groom was not supposed to be living with the bride before the ceremony took place, but not all traditions could be followed to the letter. The groom probably was not supposed to be a vampire either. Their wine for the evening was another request of Angel's, Bunratty Meade. The wine was apparently thought to promote virility, not that Angel had to worry about that. But Buffy had no problem fulfilling a couple of Angel's requests; it was his wedding, too. And if cooking a goose and drinking a particular wine made him happy then she would do those things. He waited over two hundred fifty years to get married, Buffy figured he deserved a request or two be fulfilled on the day of their wedding.
Willow went to answer the knock at the main door to her room, leaving Dawn alone with Buffy. Dawn looked so grown up wearing a peach dress made of silk and lace, her hair French braided and her make up and nails done perfectly.
"You look nice," Buffy said nervously.
"Thanks," Dawn said, running her hand along the side of her dress. "I hope David thinks so."
"He'd be crazy not to. He seems nice. I hope we didn't scare off his parents."
"No, they were a little uncomfortable at Christmas dinner since everyone else knew one another, but they're coming today with David and even bought a wedding gift. I told them they didn't have to," she said with a smile.
"Really? That was nice of them."
"Buffy," Giles said from behind them and Buffy stood. She was wearing her robe and tightened the belt around her waist instinctively.
"Giles, is everything okay?" Giles was on the other side of the house in the servants' quarters with the men. "Has Angel changed his mind?"
"No, of course not. Everything's fine, Buffy, I just came to talk to you for a minute."
"Oh, right," she said, glancing at Dawn and Willow.
"We'll go down and see how the caterers are doing," Willow said, tugging on Dawn's arm and both left.
"What's up?" Buffy asked nervously.
"You're not even dressed and the clergyman is due any minute, Buffy."
"I was working on it, Giles," she said with a roll of her eyes. "Dawn and Willow just finished my hair, I was going to put my makeup on and then get dressed."
"Right, good, I've never understood the process women go through to get ready. But if you say you're almost ready then I believe you. May I sit?" he asked, gesturing to an armchair.
"Of course," she said, taking a seat at her vanity.
Giles removed his glasses followed by the all too familiar gesture of his cleaning them. "I know I haven't been supportive of you and Angel in the past, and I admit I was angry when I heard what the two of you did."
"We would have been together anyway, Giles," she interjected. "And it was my idea."
"Yes, I understand that, just as I understand that Angel did not willingly feed off of you years ago. I know that Angel would never do anything to physically harm you. While I'm not your father I would like to think I've acted as a suitable substitute over the years."
"You have," Buffy said quickly.
"And I know I'm supposed to say something paternal about now, but don't think I need to warn you about your wedding night or children."
"No, none of those things will be necessary."
"And you're okay with that, Buffy? I mean, you've thought this through, what marrying Angel will mean giving up? The chance to have a family?"
"I'm giving up having children, Giles. I already have a family, everyone here today is my family. We may not share blood or the same name, but you're all family. And, honestly, Giles, I wouldn't bring a child into my world. That's assuming I can have them, I've sort of wondered. I mean, with Riley," she said and trailed off.
"Oh, I didn't realize, I mean," he said, clearing his throat clearly uncomfortable with this conversation. "You tried?"
"No, but there were times we weren't exactly careful, after a patrol or whatever," she said and glanced away, not at all comfortable talking about this. This was Giles. "Anyway, all I'm giving up is children, and had Willow not brought me back I wouldn't be here to have them anyway. I get Angel out of the deal, I'd rather have Angel by my side than a child, Giles."
"So long as you're sure, Buffy, I'm not here to talk you out of anything. I just want to make sure."
"I know," she said, standing and walking toward him. She kissed him lightly. "I love you, Giles. If I've never said that, or only said it to try and get my way I'm sorry."
"Oh, Buffy," he said and Buffy thought she saw tears in his eyes. "I love you, too, dear. I should let you get dressed or your groom might think you've had a change of heart."
"I'll be down in a minute. Would you send Willow up?"
"Yes, please," she said softly.
"Of course, Buffy, whatever you like."
"Thanks," she said and sat at her vanity again to apply her makeup. She glanced in the mirror, holding the powder brush in her hand near her cheeks and sighed. Now she was nervous. Not because of the questions Giles had asked, but because she was getting married. To Angel. It was not exactly her dream wedding, a dozen people in attendance in their living room instead of a whole bunch of family and friends in a church. The wedding arrangements had been made in less than a week. Her father was not even here, which hurt more than she would ever let Angel know. She was no longer the girl from those dreams she had once had.
"You ready to get dressed?" Willow asked coming into the room.
"Yeah," Buffy said, nibbling on her lower lip before applying her lipstick.
"I wanted to give you my gift ahead of time," Willow said and handed Buffy a brown paper wrapped gift.
"Willow," she protested. Everyone had been told no gifts.
"Just open it," Willow said.
Buffy tore it open and inside of the basic brown paper wrapping was the wedding invitation Willow had created for them framed. In one corner of the ivory parchment like paper was a picture of his and hers Claddagh rings in teal and silver. The script lettering was teal as well.
Buffy's eyes grew teary as she read it. The word moon had replaced sun given Angel's inability to follow her into the sun. Willow had handed out the invitations since everyone attending was at the mansion except Cordelia who was staying with her parents. One had been mailed to her father, but chances were he would never even read it.
"Thank you, Will," she said and hugged her best friend. "It's beautiful," she said, running her fingertips along the picture frame. It was wood and had been painted silver and teal to match the colors on the invitation. She had not really seen the point of doing an invitation, but Willow had insisted and Buffy was glad now that she had.
"You're welcome, now let's get you dressed."
She dressed in the pale blue silk floor length gown that was serving as her wedding gown. It was rather plain, but the three girls had all agreed it looked elegant on her. Buffy decided elegance was the way to go on her wedding day, the slit along the left leg was perhaps a bit racy but it made it easier to walk. Willow placed the wreath of wildflowers on Buffy's head, which also served as the crown to her veil and fastened it in place. She slid into her pumps, a low enough heel to remain comfortable but high enough so that Angel would not tower over her that evening.
The clock struck the half hour and Buffy glanced at herself in the mirror one last time.
"Let's see. I have my something old," she said, gesturing to the pearl necklace she wore that had been her maternal grandmother's. "I have my something new," she said, lifting up the hem of her gown slightly revealing her shoes that she had bought and had died to match her dress and probably could have fulfilled the something blue portion of the tradition. "I have my something borrowed," she said, indicating the lace handkerchief that Cordelia of all people had lent her. "I have my something blue," she said, gesturing to her upper thigh where the garter she wore was but could not be seen at the moment. "I guess I'm ready," she said, taking the bouquet of flowers into her hands. Her bouquet was the traditional bridal bouquet done in all white. Willow's maid of honor arrangement was an assortment of wildflowers that matched Buffy's headpiece. Wesley, serving as Angel's best man had a single white tea rose boutonniere on his jacket lapel while Angel's boutonniere was two white tea roses with a sprig of baby's breath. "You have the ring?"
"Yes," Willow smiled.
"Okay, let's go," she said, glad Willow did not have the enhanced hearing Angel and Spike had to hear her heart beating a mile a minute. She descended the stairs where Giles waited for her and Buffy placed her hand in the crook of his arm. Willow went on ahead and Buffy felt fresh tears form in her eyes at Giles' appraisal of her.
"You look lovely, Buffy."
"Thank you," she said softly. She ran a fingertip along the string of pearls she wore nervously. The cross pendant she always wore was hidden beneath the bodice of the blue silk gown, where it would remain until the night was over. She had debated taking it off, but realized since she had no stakes or other weapons on her it was best to at least keep one thing handy.
She and Giles walked across the hall to the living room. It was a nice night, warm even for California, so the doors leading out to the terrace were open. The light breeze was refreshing and the air smelled sweet after a late afternoon rain shower. There was no pomp and circumstance, Giles merely walked her to Angel and took his seat next to Dawn after telling the clergyman he was the one giving Buffy away.
The room could have been filled with two hundred people and Buffy would not have noticed anything but the man standing in front of her now. He looked handsome, even more than on prom night. He was not wearing a tuxedo tonight, but the double-breasted, old-fashioned cut suit he wore was flattering. His tie was one of those old fashioned ties, but with the style of suit he wore the tie fit right in. Distantly, she heard the clergyman's words, repeated what she was supposed to, gave her bouquet to Willow when they got to the exchanging of the rings part of the ceremony, and gasped from stifled tears when Angel lifted her veil away to kiss her for the first time as her husband.
Buffy and Angel turned to face their family and friends as the clergyman formally introduced them as husband and wife. Buffy's eyes widened when she saw her father. She glanced at Angel, wondering if he had anything to do with his being here and suspected Angel and Giles had together done the Godfather thing and made her father an offer he could not refuse.
"Hi Daddy," she said once they had made their way to the back of the room. She felt a little self-conscious in front of her father. It had been so long since she had actually seen him and here she was marrying a man within a week of getting proposed to.
"Hi princess," he said, taking both of her hands in his and kissing her cheek. "You look beautiful. So much like your mother," he whispered and he sounded sincere. It had been over six years since her parents had divorced, Buffy just assumed her father never thought about her mother much.
"Thanks," she said appreciatively. She certainly did not mind being compared to her mother. "I'm glad you came."
"I wouldn't have missed it," he said and offered Angel his hand as he turned to face his new son in-law who was in actuality old enough to be the man's great grandfather several times over. "Congratulations."
"Thanks," Angel said with a smile as he tightened his hold on her. "I'm glad you could make it, I know how much it meant to Buffy to have you here."
Dawn approached them and offered their father a hug and a kiss. "Hi Dad."
"I didn't even recognize you with your hair like that, sweetie. You look all grown up, both of my little girls do," he said. Buffy knew the words would make Dawn feel good and that her sister was just as happy and surprised that their father had come here, no matter how it was he got here.
"Are you staying for dinner?" Dawn asked. Buffy was still too stunned to say anything, surprised her dad was really here. She felt a little bad that Giles had given her away when her dad was here, but really she would not have it any other way.
"I was planning on it."
"Oh good. Angel had the dinner catered and you wouldn't believe all of the food there is."
"I can't wait," Hank Summers said. "I am curious why you chose New Year's Eve."
Buffy glanced at Angel, interested in knowing this as well. "Because when I married your daughter I wanted the whole world to celebrate with me. Marrying her on New Year's Eve was the closest I could come to actually making that happen."
"Oh Angel," Buffy said softly and kissed him. She had no idea if that was the real reason or not, but it sounded good.
The rest of their friends gathered around to offer their congratulations, introductions were made between her father and those he did not know, which was most everyone besides Giles. It was a little disheartening how far removed from her life he had become, they did not live that far away but a couple of hours seemed daunting at times.
Soon they all gathered in the dining room where the buffet style dinner waited for them. Dawn was right, the spread was amazing and seemed never ending. Angel had not been sure how long everyone would stay up given it was New Year's Eve and did not want anyone to go hungry or to get sick from having too much to drink without benefit of a full stomach.
Angel sat at the head of the table with Buffy seated to his right. The table was really not designed for them to sit side by side at the head of the table, but Buffy was small and they were sharing a plate so it worked. Buffy would have sat on his lap more than likely, but Angel thought it best to behave with at least some decorum with her father present. His right hand was resting over her left, his ring finger tracing the diamond solitaire on her finger absently. Every once in a while, his fingertip would slip and graze the smooth surface of her wedding band. Her band matched his, only thinner.
Hank Summers was at the foot of the table with Giles seated to his left. The two men had been talking for most of the evening, which had not surprised Angel. The rest of their ensemble of family and friends were seated around the table as well. The caterers had ensured the dishes remained full during the dinnertime. They would be serving cake next and then after ensuring all of the food was replenished one last time for the evening would depart to return in the morning to collect everything.
"Are you all right," he leaned over and asked Buffy. She had been quiet throughout most of the meal, not broodingly so but still he hoped he had done nothing wrong.
"Yeah," she said, leaning into him and kissing him. Her kisses this evening had come few and far between as far Angel was concerned. Perhaps her father's presence had something to do with that. She had been somewhat stingy with her public displays of affection since Giles had gotten there on Christmas Day, but not quite this stingy. "I'm just watching everybody."
"Wishing there were more here, you mean?"
"Other than my mother, no, Angel, the day was perfect."
"You sure?" he asked uncertainly.
"I'm sure, baby. I wouldn't want it any other way." She slid her left hand from under his and placed it on top of his. She squeezed gently and leaned even closer to him, lowering her voice to the faintest whisper. "Wait until you see the garter the girls gave me."
He swallowed hard, considering they had a couple of hours yet until midnight and the year two thousand two rolled around, he would unfortunately be waiting for a little while. "How long do I have to wait exactly?"
"Not much longer if you play your cards right," she said and kissed his ear.
"Oh. I had sort of planned on ringing in the New Year just the two of us. Is that okay?"
"More than okay."
She ran a perfectly manicured nail along his cheek and ran it along the roundness of his lower lip. "Good. We'll take a bottle of champagne up with us when we go."
"I'm not sure we'll take the time to drink it, Buffy."
"You might take the time to lick it off of me."
A low rumble came from his chest at the thought she had implanted in his mind. "I might," he agreed with a slight shake of his head to quell his demon.
"Are you going on a honeymoon," her father asked from the other end of the table.
"Not right now," Angel replied. "Buffy's about to start a job, I'm in the middle of moving back down here, and tying up loose ends with the business in Los Angeles plus the case with the state. So, maybe this summer when school's out for Dawn and she's with you we'll take a trip somewhere."
"Sure, we can work around whatever plans you might make."
"Thanks, Dad," Buffy said. "You never mentioned a honeymoon," she said with a whisper.
"I didn't want to disappoint you that we had to wait for a while to take it, so I sort of figured it would be a nice surprise once the case is closed and things are settling down to talk to you about it."
"Always thinking. What would I do without you?"
"I try not to think about that too often," he admitted with a grimace.
"Have I told you recently that I love you?"
"No, you have not."
"And you're the most handsome groom I've ever had the privilege of seeing?"
"No, you have not mentioned that either. Just how many grooms have you had the privilege of seeing?"
"Um, boy, I don't know honestly, none?"
He chuckled lightly and took a sip of wine. "I have seen my share of brides, but none hold a candle to you. You're the best New Year's present I can possibly think of."
"And we haven't even gotten to sharing the champagne yet."
He leaned to kiss her ear, nibbling the lobe lightly. "Stop taunting me already or my demon's going to break free and I don't think you want that in front of David's parents and your father."
"If you insist," she said with a pout.
"For now, if they leave, tease and taunt all you want but I don't think it's quite the dramatic effect one wants for their wedding reception."
"All I want?"
He rolled his eyes but his smile widened. "All you want."
"I like the sound of that."
"I figured you might."
"How can we convince them to go? Soon?"
"I don't know," he said with a low chuckle and captured her lips in a heated kiss. "Mine," he whispered.
"No," she said shaking her head slightly. "Mine."
"I can live with that."
Story ©Susan Falk/APCKRFAN/PhantomRoses.com