Epilogue




Daylight again struggled to break across the town of Sunnydale, California, as the inexplicable mist lifted from the desert settlement.

In a tasteful apartment, a baby cried.

"Go back to sleep, dearest. I'll handle Everett." Giles glanced at his watch. Nearly 5:00. Well, that was an improvement. The bespectacled new father cradled his child contentedly.

"You can thank your mother for the insomnia, little one," he sighed as the child cooed.

Across town in the Summers' home, Spike was smiling.

"Ready for the big day, luv?"

His girlfriend smiled brightly as she leaned into his chest.

"Always have been."

Down the stairs, a college girl was watching the morning news over a bowl of Lucky Charms.

"In a related story, the local paparazzi have been unable to ascertain the exact date and time of the upcoming nuptials. Rumors throughout the town suggest soon—today even—yet the only people who would know aren't talking. A close friend was quoted as saying that..."

Dawn smiled. "Damn right we're not talking."

*********************************************************************************************************************

The chapel was bright and simple, elegant and ordinary all at once. A handsome, dark-haired man stood beside the aged priest, flanked on one side by an array of dashingly handsome men and on another by several dazzling young women.

The organ picked up rapidly as the center of attention (a veiled woman draped in white)approached the altar. She walked with confidence and grace, poised and appealing at the same time.

The minister smiled and said the blessing.

"You may now kiss the bride."

*********************************************************************************************************************

"You know," Giles was saying with a tender slur in his voice "I always knew it would come down to this. It's the... the one prediction that came true." His eyes fell out of focus briefly and the younger, blonder man beside him held out a supporting arm. Giles looked at him with gratitude.

"Thank you Spike... I do believe I've had a bit much to drink." A burst of laughter accentuated the Englishman's vast understatement.

"There, there," consoled his companion mischievously. "Let's get you another round, eh, Rupie?"

"Oh, yes... rather..." agreed the semi-conscious former librarian. "Drinks on the bloody house and all that?"

"Er... sure."

In another corner of the ballroom, Dawn chuckled mercilessly at the predicament her mentor was getting in. "At this rate he won't be able to think straight for a week."

"He won't be missing anything," Anya laughed. "Trust me, newborns don't allow for much straight thinking anyways. Don't ever have children."

"I'll keep that in mind."

The members of Dingo had finished playing their set and began drifting through the small crowd. Oz, finding his love, bowed theatrically low. The couple began to glide elegantly across the dance floor as a soft love song echoed through the building.

"These people are so weird."

"So why did you want to come?"

"Because they were at our wedding." The brunette looked happily at the ring around her fourth finger. "And... because I love them in all their weirdness."

"You're weird."

"But you still love me."

"Touche." The gently swaying couple kissed passionately as the song reached its crescendo.

Across the room an elderly, bespectacled man filled glass with an exotic punch from the fountain. Studying the apparatus intently, he never heard the soft footsteps of the short woman behind him. Beautiful in the classical sense, she resembled a matron who, although past her prime, still retained the ability to command whatever room she occupied. This aura alerted the short man that he had company.

"And who might this be?" Her voice, although difficult to describe, was distinctive enough to never be forgotten. Light and dark, rich and at the same time insubstantial, its sound fell somewhere between the range of a spring rain and a fall night. "Gabriel?"

Renneaux started, turning quickly with a grin lit across his unusual features. "Marie?"

It was her. The brilliant stock of red hair had grayed and the face had more wrinkles, but it was certainly the same person. "Marie Rosenburg?"

"The same. Gabriel, I did not know you lived..."

"I did not either." Flustered, the academic stammered on. "Know that you lived here... either. Marie..."

She slapped him. "No."

Smarting and immediately drawn back into the routine, Renneaux rubbed his cheek indignantly. "I did not say anything."

"Were you thinking it?"

"Yes."

She slapped him again. "Then, no."

"What was I thinking?"

"That you would like to get me to bed. Again."

"Then you shouldn't have slapped me."

"Oh?"

"Yes."

She did it again, albeit softer. "Oops. My hand slipped."

"I was thinking that we should have married fifty years ago," complained the agitated scholar. "Perhaps I should stop talking."

"Perhaps so," agreed Marie as she moved to kiss her once and future lover.

"Dude," breathed Devon to his bassist. "The old French people are gettin' dirty."

"Duude," agreed his bandmate. "Totally."

A different song began to echo through the hall as the dance floor cleared.

Well, here we are again I guess it must be fate We've tried it on our own But deep inside we've known We'd be back to set things straight I still remember when Your kiss was so brand new Every memory repeats Every step I take retreats Every journey always brings me back to you

Worlds apart from the celebrations surrounding them, a single couple danced across the checkered dance floor. The single beam of light brilliantly illuminated the pair, contrasting their radically different outfits in an unusual and beautiful way.

Two angels who've been rescued from the fall After all that we've been through It all comes down to me and you I guess it's meant to be Forever you and me After all

Willow smiled into her husband's shoulder as the gently rocked to the music. Ordinarily the song would have been completely wrong for a slow dance (it wasn't, after all, a slow song), but tonight, as the single beam set the lovers in another world... tonight, as the redhead danced with the man she loved... tonight, everything was perfect.

When love is truly right It lives from year to year It changes as it goes And on the way it grows But it never disappears

The music slowed and, an eternity later, silenced completely as the couple snapped back into the world. Looking into his new wife's eyes, the dark-haired man flashed his patented Xander-smile. As one the couple moved close, searching for the perfect kiss. Finding it in one another's lips, a tumultuous clap went up from the surrounding crowd of friends, family, and well-wishers.

After all the stops and starts We keep coming back to these two hearts Two angels who've been rescued from the fall After all that we've been through It all comes down to me and you I guess it's meant to be Forever you and me After all

The newlyweds walked purposefully over to their closest friends. Anya, predictably, was the first to speak.

"May your children be prettier than ours."

"Dear!" Giles, only mildly offended at his wife's expression of goodwill, looked at his younger friends. "I must say, bloody well done."

"You know, Giles," quipped Buffy with a wink at her sister. "You're looking a little tipsy."

He raised an eyebrow. "Oh, a man can't drink at his children's wedding? Adopted, that is," he added quickly in preparation for a bad joke.

Willow laughed. "If our 'father' takes a cab home."

"No, I'll drive him." Anya smiled at her husband's predicament. He, on the other hand, blanched.

"Yes, perhaps a taxi would be nice..." He smiled happily at the two. "You have my congratulations and my wishes for a life-long and happy marriage. My only complaint is that, by waiting so long to take this step, you've forfeited lots of valuable time." Waving a merry goodbye, Giles found himself being dragged off by his wife.

"I love you all," she said irately. "But he's very... fun when drunk."

"Oh... bloody hell." Spike shuddered as they disappeared through the door. Buffy nudged him sharply in the ribs.

"Ow... why'd you have to... oh, right. Ahem," he cleared his throat. "Not to steal the spotlight from the lovebirds, but Blondie and me've got an, err, important announcement."

Joyce covered her ears. "Mom, what's the matter?" inquired Dawn. "Don't you want to hear?"

"He's probably gotten her pregnant or something," shuddered Joyce. Buffy rolled her eyes.

"No, but he has gotten me engaged." Her mother was saved from hitting the floor only by the quick reflexes of her youngest daughter.

As the pair of former-supernatural creatures walked away, Dawn smiled at her friends. "I love you guys," she squealed before carrying her still-comatose mother away.

Xander smiled at his best friend turned true love. "Where to?"

Willow shrugged in his arms. "Second star to the right... and straight on 'till morning."

"Ooh... kinky." Playfully punching her husband's shoulder, Willow accepted his outstretched arm. The star-crossed lovers ventured through their friends, out the tall doors... walking to a future of love and happiness.

And in the still, serene silence of the night, a voice could just barely be heard in the distance:

"I guess it's meant to be forever, you and me.... after all."


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