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This has been a long time coming I hope you guys enjoy.

I can't believe I forgot to post this earlier, but I suppose

it doesn't matter, really. We're one step closer to the end!




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June 2024

“Sit, Buffy – breathe. Let the calm wash over you.” Buffy didn’t know how much more she could stand. This was her wedding - their wedding. Will and Buffy. Not Angel and Nina. Not Charlotte and Hugh. Most definitely not Dawn and Connor.

It wasn’t that she didn’t love them all, and, deep down, she knew they only wanted the best for her. It was just that they didn’t realize she already had the best of everything. She had Will. After all those years of solitude and pain, she had the man of her dreams – albeit in a slightly different form from what she’d once imagined.

If she had her way, she’d have an anti-wedding. In fact, she’d mention it to Will this evening, after dinner. No frilly fripperies. The satin and lace wedding gown she’d once dreamed of was now no more than whispers of smoke and ash.

The elegantly catered dinner at Dawn’s wedding had been enjoyable, but it was heavy – made you want to fall asleep when you were finished. Buffy wanted lighter fare; something that wasn’t meant to be the center of attention, but fuel for everything else.

Not that Dawn’s wedding hadn’t been beautiful in its own right – it was. But she wasn’t Dawn. She was Buffy, and Buffy wanted something different, especially since it was so soon after the other affair. As casual as that had been, Buffy wanted something even less staid and traditional.

“What’s got you so deep in thought, Buffy?”

Buffy startled. She’d been so self-involved she hadn’t heard him enter their bedroom. “Not much, I guess,” she shrugged her shoulders. “Just our wedding.” Might as well discuss this now instead of putting it off, she thought.

“Just our wedding?” Will laughed. “Have the Bridezillas of the Dowell family been descending on you again?”

“You have no idea, Will. Nina’s been hounding me to go shopping for a new dress. ‘We can do something plain and elegant. No ruffles, no lace, but something to enhance your pretty figure,’ she’d said. Dawn’s no better. ‘I want your day to be something special,’ she insisted. ‘How many weddings do you plan to have?’ Even Charlotte and Bethany have wedding bells in their eyes. ‘Come on, Buffy – let’s find something to knock Will’s socks off.’ And that’s just on the one topic of wedding clothes. There’s the venue and the menu and the music – I don’t want any of it, really. Just you.

“We could always just run off to the Justice of the Peace, ourselves,” Will offered.

“We could,” Buffy admitted, “but that would hurt everyone else, and I don’t want to do that to them. They all care so much.” After some thought, she asked, “And what about you, Will? What do you want our wedding to be? We’ve never really discussed the actual event, itself.”

“Honestly, I’m not interested in all the fancy trappings, but I would have been happy to go along with your wishes, should you have been. Maybe,” he said, thoughtfully, “maybe we could just have the ceremony on the beach, and have a picnic-type lunch, or dinner, whichever time you’d prefer.”

“Ooooh – we could wear jeans, or even bathing suits!” Buffy blurted out, but then rethought. “No bathing suits – that would be carrying things just a bit too far. Besides, nobody wants to see their parents in spandex.”

Will shuddered. “Not an image I’d like to carry with me, for sure. But you like the beach setting? It’s simple, no real fuss or muss, and we don’t have to hire anyone but the Justice.”

“I like the way you think, Mister!” Buffy laughed. “Never in a million years would I have thought of something so low-key when planning my wedding, but time and isolation have taught me what’s really important – and that’s having you in my life. Just you – the most important thing in our wedding, for me.”

“The same here, my sweet girl,” Will murmured. “We just need to figure out where to go on our honeymoon, if you think you’ll be up for it.”

“I’m sure a trip away from here will be okay.” She’d been working really hard with Lorne, and it had helped, a lot. The panic attacks were much easier to handle now, and far less frequent than they used to be.

“My brave Buffy,” he cooed into the shell of her ear. “Facing your own inner demons with a smile.”

“That’s me, Buffy the inner-demon Slayer!” she said with a smile. “Doing my best with what I have. With you by my side, Will, I’ll do more than get by, for sure. With you, I’ll live – live the best life has to offer.”

“You’re such a mushy girl, Summers,” Will laughed, pushing Buffy’s shoulder. Off balance, she tumbled onto the bed, where he pounced upon her small frame. “Why in the world would I ever want to marry you?”

“Because I’m practically perfect in every way?” she retorted, wriggling out from under him.

“Ha! I love you for your imperfections,” he said emphatically. “You make the most of what you have, and then you try harder when you find yourself coming up short. I’ve never known anyone who strives as hard as you do to accomplish your goals. And,” he continued, pointing a finger at her, “a twenty year incarceration in marble that would have broken anyone else – only managed to make you stronger. You’re the one, Buffy. The only one for me.”

The words rocked Buffy hard, and the tears came as she looked into Will’s earnest blue eyes. “Oh god,” she gasped, trying to get her breathing under control. “You said… you said…”

“Spike poked his head up again, didn’t he?” Will asked, softly. “I guess I can’t be sorry – I suppose delving into his past was bound to provoke something.”

“It’s okay, Will. Really, it is,” Buffy insisted, swiping at the tears on her cheeks. “It’s just almost word-for-word from one of Spike’s most supportive speeches, ever, in our history. It moved me to tears then, and it still has the same effect on me, now.”

“Then I’m honored to have said them. Spike must have been a very wise vampire, in his time.”

Buffy nodded. “Oh, he was. Some of the time, when he wasn’t being an impulsive, mule-headed pig.” She sighed, softly. “And I did love him, so very, very much.”

“Then things are as they should be. We’re all here, together. Let’s finish the plans, and get married.”

*****

June 15, 2024. The sky was a brilliant blue, the weather temperate – everything was in go position for the wedding of her current dreams.

Buffy stretched, feeling the warmth of Will’s body against hers. They’d had a pleasant sleep-filled night; no nightmares from her to disrupt their slumber. Wake up, sleepyhead,” she murmured, her hand working through the curls on his head. “We’ve a busy day ahead of us. Last minute things to check on and pack.”

“Still mornin’, ain’t it?” Will said, muffled against the pillow. We don’t have to be there ‘til an hour before sunset.”

“Sure, and the wedding fairy will pop out of the closet and do everything for us. This is what you get when we decided on a non-wedding wedding. A do-it-yourself job.” With that, she booted his butt with her foot, and he tumbled out of bed, landing on the floor with a thump.

“Not to mention,” she continued, standing over his prone form, “we have a two hour ride to get to Zuma beach.”

“Aye, aye, my General. Your wish is my command.” Will saluted, eyes sparkling with humor.

***

Several hours later, they were ready to depart. Clothing was beach casual – jeans and shorts for the most part, light t-shirts for the men and peasant-style blouses for the women. Even Angel dressed in a darkish khaki colored pair of pants with a light blue pullover. Putting white on him would have made him look like a giant marshmallow.

Three large coolers were loaded into the trunk of Angel’s car, along with six dozen (very carefully packed) decorated cupcakes. Drinks were loaded into Will’s car, along with the table cloths and plates and silverware.

“Does someone have the beach permit?” Will called out, making a last minute round to check everything and everybody was in the go position.

Nina waved the item in question in the air, then tucked the permit back into her purse. Everyone else climbed into Connor’s van, and with the tooting of a horn, the mini-caravan headed down the road towards Zuma beach.

***

The beach plot was already packed with their guests as Buffy hustled off into the bride’s tent to await her cue. Everyone invited had come to share in their happiness – Giles, Lydia and Willow, Charles, Anne, Alonna, Benjamin and Carolyn Jane, Lorne and Andrew!

Quickly finding their seats were Charlotte, Hugh and Bethany, Angel and Nina, Dawn, Connor and Liam.

Alonna headed into the Bride’s tent to help Buffy with any nerves or last minute details. Giles sat in front of the tent, awaiting his duties once again as Father of the Bride. This time, the honors of Best Man went to Will’s brother, Connor, and Buffy’s sister Dawn was the Matron of Honor.

Oddly enough, the role of Ring Bearer was bestowed upon… Andrew, much to his delight. Will felt that Andrew had helped him find his sense of self, when he was totally lost, and he wouldn’t be here, if it wasn’t for his kindness. It deserved to be honored. Andrew had wept when asked, and wholeheartedly agreed.

Lorne had the wireless speaker all set up by the side of the altar, and tapped the remote control. The loving strains of Celine Dion’s Because You Love Me rang out on the quiet beach. The heartfelt words quickly brought tears to the eyes of the waiting guests.

Buffy emerged from the tent holding a small bouquet of wildflowers, took Giles’ arm, and proceeded to make her way to the altar. She was resplendent, even in her simple attire – faded blue denims and a soft, gauzy white peasant blouse, with blue forget-me-nots embroidered on the neck and hemlines. Her hair curled soft and loose around her shoulders. What little makeup she wore only enhanced the natural glow of happiness emanating from her in waves.

The look on Will’s face as he watched her approach was nothing short of besotted. He eagerly watched as her footsteps brought her closer to his side; their outfits similar in style. He wore blue jeans, and a simple white poet’s shirt with laces criss-crossing at the neckline.

He smiled broadly when his Grandpa placed Buffy’s hand in his and returned to his seat. Buffy relinquished her bouquet to her sister and they turned to the officiant – the same Justice who’d married Connor and Dawn just four months earlier.

“Welcome, everyone, to the marriage of William Matthew Jamison Pratt Dowell and Buffy Anne Summers,” she said with a smile. “The weather has cooperated, and we have a fine evening to celebrate the love and respect our happy couple have for each other and the institution of marriage. Before we begin, our Bride-to-be would like to say a few words.”

Buffy turned around and faced her family of friends. “I can’t believe we actually made it to this point. I mean, I’ve waited two decades longer than anyone else here, for sure. But I do have something important to say. I want to acknowledge and give my thanks to the person actually responsible for both Will and myself being here to celebrate our upcoming lives together.

“Spike is responsible for us being here, today. Literally and figuratively. We’ve all moved past the past, where things weren’t quite so rosy between us, right?” she said, glancing around.

Dawn’s partially coughed “death threats” into her closed fist had Buffy turn and give her sister a bit of a glare, but she gamely returned to her speech without breaking stride.

“As I was saying, Spike was responsible for picking me up when I’d fallen, for gluing my heart and soul back together when they’d shattered, and allowed me to become the woman I am today. As for Will – if there was no Spike, Will wouldn’t exist. I think it’s only fair that Spike be part of this ceremony in our hearts and minds as we move forward. And if you were surprised by our ring bearer – who is traditionally way younger – we wanted to honor the man responsible for helping Will through a very difficult time in his life. We were truly blessed to have him in our lives. Okay – that’s it. My speechifying is done. Let’s get this show on the road, please.” She turned back to face the Justice and resumed her place by Will’s side.

“I must say that was a bit unusual,” the Justice said. “However, now it’s time to get on with things. We have here, today, two young souls ready and willing to merge their lives together for as long as both shall live. They have grasped the concept of the seriousness of their endeavor and are more than willing to work together to achieve their goals. They’ve expressed an interest in creating a family by expressing their love to one another, and understand it will be both the most joyous and painful experience known to humanity. Will and Buffy look forward to everything that married life has to offer with open eyes, despite their youth – so, in the interest of setting them on their path together, we begin. Buffy, do your thing.”

“I, Buffy Anne Summers, take you, William Matthew Jamison Pratt Dowell as my lawfully wedded husband. To have and to hold, from this day forward, for better or worse, through sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, until death do us part.”

“William, it’s your turn, now.”

“I, William Matthew Jamison Pratt Dowell, take you, Buffy Anne Summers, to be my lawfully wedded wife. To have and to hold, from this day forward, for better or worse, through sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, until death do us part.”

“By the power vested in me by the state of California, I now pronounce you Husband and Wife. Will, you may now… kiss the Bride,” she finished softly, as the couple had already begun their first married kiss.

One traditional thing that Buffy and Will had allowed – the playing of Mendelssohn's Wedding March. As the happy couple reached the end of the marked aisle in the sand, and the end of the music, they were greeted by enthusiastic hugs and kisses from everyone.

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