Road to Forever
"Where is it?" Buffy glanced around the room, frantically searching for an item only she knew about.
Willow, who had been checking the hallway, pulled her head back into the room and closed the door. She turned and smiled at her best friend, a futile effort to calm the frenzied blond down. "Buffy, where was it the last time you saw it?" She asked, ever so patient. "And what is it, exactly?"
"My bracelet!" Buffy cried, pouncing on the dull gold object. She held up the small object with a look of triumph. "Got it!"
The redhead pried the object from the Slayer's tight grip in order to get a better look. She laughed when she recognized the cheap ID bracelet that read 'Yours Always.' "This is what you were looking for?" Willow had thought Buffy lost her mind. This was a cheap gift… "Oh! I get it! Something old, right?"
Buffy smiled and nodded her head. "Yup! Sentimental reasons. I have the new covered with my absolutely beautiful ring and I borrowed these earrings from you. Now all we need is…"
"Something blue," Tara called, entering from the adjoining room. In her hands, she carried a light blue scarf. The color matched the bridesmaids' dresses she and Willow wore.
Buffy looked at her friend, curiosity piqued. "What's that? I thought we were doing the traditional garter belt."
Tara and Willow shared a smile. "No offense, Buffy, but you are hardly what we'd call traditional."
"Hey! I resent that!" Buffy cried. "Or possibly thank you. I haven't decided which. But what is that?"
Avoiding the question, Tara walked over to Buffy's wedding dress, hung carefully in the small closet. She turned to the other two girls, "Time to get your dress on."
Buffy and Willow squealed. "I can't believe I'm getting married!" Buffy said. She began to move around the room, nerves kicking in. "Oh god! Am I doing the right thing?"
Willow rolled her eyes in Tara's direction and the other witch quickly covered a fit of the giggles. They had already been through this a hundred times. Buffy was definitely a nervous bride-to-be. "Buffy," she started. Buffy continued pacing, so Willow grabbed her arm, forcing her to stop. "Slow down! Sit!"
Buffy sat down in the armchair and faced her friend. The redhead offered a stiff smile before taking a deep breath. "Ok, let's try this again. Buffy, how did Xander propose?"
Buffy's eyes lit up at the mention of her fiancée. "Well, it happened on this rainy night…"
"Run!" Xander yelled at Buffy, dragging her behind him. They raced towards his apartment building, splashing through the expanding mud puddles.
"Stop!" Buffy yelled, suddenly, resisting further movement. Xander screeched to a halt and stared at his girlfriend, confusion written all over his face. She smiled, "Let's play."
The blond offered a wicked grin before jumping into the nearest puddle with both feet, causing water to splash as high as Xander's chest. She laughed, "I haven't done this in ages!" She ran around the parking lot, jumping from puddle to puddle.
Xander just stood there, watching her. She was beautiful, splashing around in the rain like an innocent child. Her face radiated with an inner glow that only came about when someone was intensely happy. Xander knew his face bore the same expression. He had never been happier in his life than he was at this moment.
Buffy ran over to her boyfriend and grabbed his arm. "Come on! Jump with me," she ordered. Not one to refuse goofy pleasure, Xander joined in the festivities. They danced about, enjoying each other's company. The rain continued to fall in sweeping gusts, but the couple paid it no attention. It just added to the excitement.
Buffy ran a few steps ahead of Xander and gave him a quick glance over her shoulder. Xander noticed the look on her face and knew she was up to something. But before he could figure it out, Buffy turned abruptly and jumped in the large puddle at Xander's feet. He coughed and sputtered as the spray hit his face. Then he looked at his girlfriend through narrowed eyes. "Oh, you are so gonna get it!"
Buffy shrieked with laughter and took off running. Xander released a menacing growl and took off in pursuit of the fleeing blond. Once he was close enough, he leapt forward with a boost of momentum and tackled her to the ground.
Startled, Buffy rolled on the ground and found herself lying on her back, Xander on top of her. He smiled at her, victory in his eyes. "Oh yeah, baby!" he cried. "I think I just scored me a touchdown!"
"Touchdown? Puh-lease!" Buffy scoffed. "I let you tackle me."
"You're just jealous," Xander smirked. "What can I say? I'm just better than you. I'm faster, I'm sexier, I'm…ouch!" The boy quickly found himself on the bottom, lying uncomfortably on a small rock.
Buffy looked up at Xander with a look of feigned innocence. She stuck out her lower lip, "Aww, did the big strong man hurt himself?"
Xander glared at her. "Very funny. You did that on purpose."
Buffy stuck her tongue out at him. "Yup. Damn I'm good!" she gloated. She rolled off the top of him, allowing him to move off of the rock.
Xander reached down and picked a twig out of her golden locks, now caked in mud. He brushed his thumb down the side of her face, smearing the dirt. "You are so beautiful."
Buffy laughed in disbelief. "Maybe you've gone blind. You didn't hit your head or anything, did you?"
He shook his head, now serious. "Marry me, Buffy." She just looked at him, shocked. "I didn't want to ask you this way," he admitted. "I had all of these romantic intentions. You know, fancy dinner, candlelight, the works. But I mean it, Buffy. Marry me."
Buffy was speechless. She wanted to say yes, but no words would come out. After opening and closing her mouth a few times, succeeding only in swallowing huge amounts of air, she just nodded her head.
It was Xander's turn to be shocked. "Did you just say yes?" She nodded her head again. "Wow! You…" Xander's mind lost all ability to function properly. He leaned down and smothered her face in kisses. He quickly pulled back, sputtering.
"What's that all about?" Buffy asked, confused by his reaction.
"You taste like mud pies," he explained.
"And you actually ate mud pies?"
"Well, Willow told me it was chocolate mousse and you know how I am with food," Xander began.
Buffy giggled. She lifted her head up and captured his mouth in a short but sweet kiss. "Hey look! It stopped raining."
Xander glanced around at their surroundings and noticed the showers had indeed finished and the sun was beginning to shine. He reached down and tossed the offensive rock away and lay down next to Buffy. He pulled her closer to him and wrapped his arms around her petite form. They lay there for a few moments, just enjoying the silence.
"Look! A rainbow!" Buffy whispered, pointing to the sky. Sure enough, a rainbow had formed, brilliant colors fading into the distance.
Xander stared at the magnificent view. "You said yes," he stated, still a bit shocked.
Buffy turned her head to look at his profile. He was amazing. "Of course I said yes. I love you. What else would I say?"
The young man returned her stare. "What else matters?" he asked. "You said yes."
They shared a smile and locked lips once more. This time, they both pulled back. Buffy laughed, "I think it's time to shower. Then we celebrate."
"And boy did we celebrate," Buffy smiled at the memory.
"I'll say," Willow agreed. "By the way, you still owe me the bail money."
"Yeah, yeah, yeah," Buffy brushed off Willow's comment, standing up and moving toward Tara.
Together, Willow and Tara helped Buffy put on her dress. It was fairly simple, yet elegant. The dress was sleeveless and made of white satin. It pulled in at Buffy's waist, accenting her slim figure, before flaring out in a wide circle. Buffy didn't want anything to hang on the ground because she was sure she would trip and fall on her way down the aisle. She wore white ballerina slippers, hidden underneath the dress. Her hair was pulled off her neck in an elegant bun and Willow's pearl earrings hung from her ears.
"Wow!" Willow stated, staring at Buffy's reflection in the floor-length mirror. All three girls stood still, amazed at the sight.
Buffy was the first to shake out of it. "So what's the scarf for?"
Tara smiled. Once again, not answering, she took the scarf and tied it around Buffy's waist. The pale blue of the scarf brought out the blue in her eyes. It was perfect.
Buffy's eyes grew misty, "Tara, Willow. I can't thank you guys enough. You've been the best. I couldn't have done this without you."
Willow, on the verge of tears herself, fluttered about the room. "Don't cry, Buffy, you'll smear your make-up."
Buffy laughed. All of the sudden, there was a knock at the door. "Come in," she called out.
"Unless you're Xander," Tara yelled.
"I don't have that problem," came the voice of the new arrival. "Buffy, you look...amazing!"
"Thanks Dawn," Buffy couldn't prevent the sad smile from escaping. "I just wish Mom could have been here."
Dawn rushed forward and gave her older sister a hug. "I'm sure she would say that she is proud of you and that you are the most beautiful bride she's ever seen," Dawn told her. "That is, until I get married."
Buffy laughed and swatted playfully at the younger girl. She and her sister had grown a lot closer since their mother had died. Nothing like a tragedy to bring a family together.
"Oh, hey, they're ready for you," Dawn pulled back. "That's kinda why I'm here. I was sent to fetch you guys."
Tara looked at the bride. "Ready?"
Buffy smiled. "You guys go ahead, I'll be there in a minute." Willow nodded and took one last look at Buffy before pulling the other two out of the door behind her. Buffy turned back to her reflection. *So, this is it. I'm really doing this. I'm going to get married. To Xander. Who would've thought?* She smiled one last time at the mirror before rushing out into the hall.
Giles saw Buffy heading in his direction. "You ready?" he whispered to Buffy as she grabbed a hold of his arm. She nodded, unable to speak. The butterflies were attacking her stomach with a vengeance. Giles smiled at his 'daughter' and motioned to someone nearby that they were ready.
Music began to play and Buffy's bridesmaids made their way down the aisle. First was Dawn. She slowly made her way to the front of the church on the arm of Trevor, Xander's cousin. Then Tara went next, her escort none other than Oz. Willow was the last to go. Her escort turned and gave Buffy a quick kiss on the cheek. "I always knew he was the one who really had your heart," Riley whispered.
Buffy smiled as they left. Riley had been a pleasant surprise. She had expected things would be awkward when he returned, but they hadn't. Both she and Riley had grown as people and were in a place that made it possible to be friends. He and Xander bonded once more and Buffy was just happy Xander had a male buddy. And a best man. *Stranger things have happened*
Finally, it was Buffy's turn. She instinctively tightened her grip on Giles arm. Wincing, Giles leaned over, "Buffy, you'll be fine."
Buffy loosened her grip and took a deep breath. "Let's do this," she told her father figure. She had always known that it would be Giles who would give her away if she ever got married. He was the only one worthy of the honor. Giles was her father in every sense of the word.
They took the first step towards the altar. Buffy was concentrating on walking, but when she saw Xander, nothing else mattered. All she saw was him. He looked gorgeous in his tuxedo. His hair was cut short and slicked back. But to Buffy, it was his eyes that made him so captivating. They were shining. She could see the happiness in his expression and it meant the world to her. She made him happy. And he made her happy. It was meant to be.
The pair made it to the front and Giles solemnly handed Buffy over to Xander. The young man took her arm, holding it carefully, as if she were made of fragile glass. He mouthed 'I love you' to her before they turned to the priest.
The ceremony was a blur to Buffy. She couldn't remember anything. But it was soon time for their vows. "Alexander and Buffy have chosen to write their own vows, as an expression of their love for one another. Alexander, you may proceed," the priest stated.
Xander looked at Buffy, "I have loved you from the moment I first saw you. We have been through so much over the past few years, but that one fact has never changed. No matter what happened, no matter who I was with, you had my heart. I wish I could tell you that life is going to be perfect from today on, but we both know that's not true. What I can promise you is that I will never leave you. I will never forsake you. You and me together. The way we were meant to be. 'Til death do us part."
The priest turned to Buffy, "And you Buffy."
The bride turned to her groom. Gazing deep into her eyes, she began. "I wasn't as quick as you. For the longest time, I was terrified that by loving you, I would lose you. But when I asked for answers, I was told to risk the pain. I am so glad I did. If I hadn't, I would never have come to know your love. In a way, I don't feel worthy of such a gift. And I will never leave you. I am giving you everything about me today. You're getting the whole package, the good and the bad, faults and all. But most of all, you have my heart. You've always had it, I just didn't realize that at first. But we'll be together forever. Forever. Does that sound good to you?"
Xander and Buffy shared a brief moment before turning back to the priest. They had just committed their lives to each other in front of the ones that matter most to them, their friends and family. And both knew they meant every word.
The ceremony finished without a hitch. The priest never got the chance to officially allow Xander to kiss his bride. He was already there and the crowd was on its feet, applauding the newlyweds. The priest smiled, "Ladies and gentlemen, I'd like to present Mr. And Mrs. Alexander Harris."
Buffy wrapped her arms around Xander's neck and he lifted her off of the ground. "So, Mr. Harris..."
"So, Mrs. Harris. Any regrets?" he asked, a slight tinge of fear in his eyes.
She looked at him and erased all traces of fear with her answer. "Never, my love. I meant it when I said forever."
They shared a kiss and walked towards the rear of the church, eager to start their lives as a married couple. They both knew that with the good times came the bad times. But they had made it this far, Buffy knew they could make it through whatever life threw their way. As long as she had Xander, nothing could stop her. Together, they were forever.