A glow encompassed Buffy and Spike. The world seemed to whip about them a moment. Buffy clenched Spike's hand tightly as the colors spun and twisted and those odd strains of music bombarded her ears.
Finally, they were standing in the Magic Box. Off to the side were Giles, Willow, Xander and Anya. Only Xander seemed the worse for wear, dirty and smelling faintly of sheep.
"Buffy! You're awake!" Willow rushed over to hug her best friend. "We were so worried!"
Quickly, the rest followed to hug and surround Buffy. Spike stepped away as Buffy was surrounded by her friends. He watched her get embraced into their warmth, easily excluding him.
"Now that the gang's all here, can someone tell me what just happened?"
"Well," Giles began, "we're not quite sure. We think it had something to do with that book you found in the shipment."
"The fairy tale one?"
"Yes. It was some sort of magical portal, actually, and drew us into this place called the Enchanted Realm."
"Where fairy tales were real!" Xander broke in excitedly.
"And you were cast as the Sleeping Beauty," Willow added.
"Which would explain the whole sleeping thing," Buffy said slowly. "But what about Spike?"
"Yes, well, the spell cast him as your Prince Charming," Giles explained.
"I volunteered but Anya hit me. Ow! Like that." Xander rubbed his side where Anya had elbowed him. "Anyway, that sent us all for a big loop-di-loop. C'mon, I mean Spike as your Prince Charming. That's obviously - Ow!"
This time Willow had elbowed him. "I thought we had agreed to support Buffy's decision," she hissed.
Xander managed to look abashed.
"Sorry," he muttered.
Buffy ignored the mini-drama taking place. Instead, she slipped away to the back room, where she found Spike leaning against the wall, lighting a cigarette.
"Giles hates it when you smoke in here," she announced.
"That's what makes it so much fun."
"Figured you'd say that." Buffy joined him in leaning against the wall. "So, you're my Prince Charming."
"That's what the spell said." Spike inhaled and exhaled the smoke, watching it float through the air. "What do you say?"
"I say Prince Charming is an exaggeration," Buffy answered. Spike's face fell a little. Now that they were out of magic land, of course things would change. "But the rest of it is true."
He smiled. "That true?"
"Yeah." They stood there companionably for a moment. Spike was tempted to do something, but followed Buffy's lead instead.
"You know," she broke the silence, "I wasn't just no-brain Buffy for however long it was I was out."
"Nuh-uh. I was dreaming." Buffy gained a distant look in her eyes. "It was seriously weird. All these people talking to me and telling me stuff. I think somebody was, I don't know, trying to talk to me or something. They showed me a lot of things I didn't want to see."
Spike waited for her to get to the point.
"I can't say I remember what went on, exactly, but I do know you were there."
"I was?" Spike wore a proud smile. "How?"
"I was at a party, and there was something about waiting for the right song. Then I started to dance with you, but got scared and ran away."
Spike frowned. That sounded a bit like what Maleficent had showed him as part of Buffy's dream. "Then you staked me, right?"
Buffy looked at him strangely. "No. Where'd you get that idea? After I ran away from the party, someone, I think it was Dawn, started showing me all this stuff. I think they were things that had happened to you or will happen to you. It wasn't that clear." The distant look in her eyes grew. "Then I tried to leave, and a stranger came. But he wasn't a stranger because we had met before. And then we danced. Because that's all we've ever done."
Spike turned to her, surprised she was repeating the very same words he had said that awful night. "Buffy?"
He put out his cigarette and let the butt fall to the ground. With a slight bow, he asked, "Do you want to dance?"
Buffy smiled and took his hand, leading him onto the floor. "That's all we've ever done."
He carefully positioned himself, one hand resting lightly on her waist, the other lightly clasping hers. Slowly, he began to lead her in a waltz.
As they danced, he leaned to whisper into her ear, "You know I love you, right?"
She whispered back, "You know I could learn to love you, right?"
Spike smiled and held her closer, murmuring into her ear, "Guess my only chance with you was when you were unconscious."
Buffy tilted her head and pressed her lips to his. "True. So here's your crumb. And," she said with a wink, "if you're good, maybe I'll even give you the whole cake."
A group of beings watched the waltzing couple from afar. Some might call them fairies, others godmothers, even more others would say they were agents for the Powers That Be.
"I always love a happy ending," one sniffed, delicately dabbing her eyes with a handkerchief before noisily blowing her nose.
"Have another one, dear," offered one standing beside her.
"Thank you, Flora. You know how I get about a good romance," she replied.
"Hmph. This is very good, but I still think we should have been able to do something to Maleficent!" stated another. "Did you hear what she tried to make him do?"
"You know we can't go after her, Merryweather," Flora scolded, "we have to obey the rules, too."
"Well I don't like them," pouted Merryweather.
"It doesn't matter. Those two are together now and nothing can break them apart. They're going to live happily ever after!" the crying one burst into a fresh set of tears.
"There, there, Fauna," soothed Flora. "They may not live happily ever after - "
"But they will at least live," finished Merryweather, "and living can lead to happiness enough."
The Fairy Tale