"Holiday..."

PG-13

Summary: William and Buffy have a bittersweet reunion in Europe...

Disclaimer: All BTVS characters remain the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and all other owner/creators of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series...

Archived at the "normal" Buffyverse (Note the quotes!) page of the Buffy Rebecca verse, www.angelfire.com/zine2/buffyrebecca/index.html

Play theme (you may recognize this from "Flight of the Phoenix" with James Stewart-It's the song the dying young Italian listens to...)

London...A rather nice restaurant with river view...Evening...

Her Dawnness enthroned at the lower end of the table...A narrow-eyed, grimly watchful chaperone...To William, newly arrived from LA, and Buffy across him...She somehow managing to look even more nervous than he...

But then he was a souled Unman without illusions...And this dinner, in his view, was intended as hello, thanks...And farewell...To she who'd cared...The first in a century...And had made him a man, at least regards the true essentials, again...

With rather a potentially nice future...Considering his new appointments as both junior partner with Angel (Liam Angel, head of the reorganized Wolfram-Hart, Inc...Attorney-at-a-kind-of-law, courtesy forged documents) and as Official Observer of the Royal Council of Watchers for LA, attached under special order of new Chairman Giles to keep a close eye on the Wolfram-Hart team and ensure that Angel and co were not succumbing to the temptations offered by the sinister senior partners...

A special order by the said new Chairman perhaps intended as much to keep him in LA and out of Europe...As to properly monitor the new situation in Los Angeles...

But Buffy seemed less pleased with the news of his worldly success than Dawn...Who was rather content after her first nervous flutterings on his arrival to see that Will seemed to harbor no foolish 'notions'...And had not chosen to bring up Buffy's kindly intended declaration at the Hellmouth battle...Good of him not to try and hold her to it...Though why she'd had to bring it up herself the day they'd learned of his return to the earthly plane...?

He made another in a series of polite remarks about how well things seemed to be going with the new Council...Another friendly question as to how Xander was getting along, complete with a sincere expression of his faith that Anya's soul was safe and would not be condemned...

Yep...William seemed to be handling his part just right...

Well, ok...Maybe a hair disappointing regards his part...What'd happened to the guy who'd happily given up his carefree murderous existence to hang with sis?...The one who'd stayed when she needed him?...As opposed to certain other souled vamps...Who had not...

Still given sis' crazed reaction on his arrival...Following on her reaction after someone at the Council had causally dropped the news one morning that William the Bloody had reappeared in LA...Which Dawn had not witnessed but Willow had told her had been...Well, crazed...Maybe it was for the best that he'd developed a degree of common sense and consideration...

Damn...But for the best, of course...And a calmed sis seemed unwilling to press him on things now that he was here, thank God...Perhaps it'd just been shock at his miraculous return, a lil' guilt at not doing more for the poor guy in his soul recovery, and more shock at his miraculous return that had caused her to overrule Giles...Almost violently...and insist on accepting his invite to this little dinner party...A somewhat surprising invite...Not only to a decent restaurant, only the second Buffy'd ever been taken to by a date...



See what you get for sticking to dating the impoverished supernatural or their hangers-on?

...But an invite which had included her Dawnness on the guest list...Was he perhaps looking to broach the possibility of a threesome?...Had naturally been her first thought...Which she'd not hesitated to suggest to Giles and Xander while she and Buffy had...Frantically...In Buf's case at least...Prepared...Xander furiously agreeing...Just like something Spi...Till a cold stare from Buf had cut off his discourse, at least temporarily...And spiked (hee) any further observations of that sort from her...

Well...Thank God he seemed to have no desire to...In fact, she was beginning to believe Willow's half-serious guess that she'd been invited intentionally as 'chaperone'...Or at least to keep the situation under control...

Only troubling thing was...She could wonder (and in fact, guess) whom of the two was the real one in danger of losing it...

And even worse...Was finding herself almost hoping that...One of them...No...Enough with the dead boyfriends, however noble Will had been at the end...

"William..." Buffy put down her fork and stared at him... "You aren't really going back to LA are you?..."

Ummn...Well...

Oh, crap...Chaperone Dawn thought...

***

"Buf...I'm of the literary persuasion...Was, anyway...And even Spike kept in some touch with things...I've read 'The Razor's Edge'...I realize you're not my reward for leading a good life..."

"Alright..." she glared... "Fine, you got your noble reasons for returning to LA..." Dawn now a bit uncertain, eyeing sis' tearing eyes...Did he have to be so good...so damned Angelic...about it?...I mean, a lil' effort against Fate mighta been more in keepin' just for sis' sake...Hell, he said he'd die for her...Stay with her til the end of the world...I mean...Geesh...

"What?..." he stared... "Are you saying you want me to stay?..." Uh-oh...Dawn pulled out of her romance mode...Trouble...He eyed Buffy carefully...

"You think I don't?...You thought I was lyin' back at Sunnydale?...You son-of-an-insane-vampiral...!...Ummn..." she put a hand to her mouth as several patrons stared...And William looked a bit frosty... "I didn't mean anything against your mother, Will...I meant Dru...Robin Wood told me what you said about what happened to your real..." she murmured hastily, clearly embarrassed...He glanced at a curious Dawn...Hmmn...Buffy stopped...

Hmmn...Mother...I never thought about his having family...her Dawnness pondered...Gee...We never even asked him what his name was...Wasn't till Buffy spent the night at the Council archives to get it for a tombstone marker that we...

"Please don't be hurt, Will...I didn't..." Buffy continued...

"I understand...But you have put the thing in a nutshell...I'm..." he considered... "What I am...That hasn't changed...At least in the physical sense..."

"Everything's changed for you now...In the important sense..." she insisted... "The rest is an obstacle, sure...But...You can make it, William...Even without me..."

"I didn't come here for pity and kindness, Buffy..." She gave him a sour look... "Ok, yeah...I'm always ready to milk either and a little comfort from my Slayer girl would never be taken amiss...But Buffy...I understand what can and cannot be...And I came, in part..."

"Jesus..." she glared... "I say I want you to stay...And you wanta back away?...Now?..." A panicky expression from her Dawnness...

"What?..." he blinked... "You what?..."



"Haven't you been listening to me for the past fifteen?..." she glared... "Have I been speakin' to empty air?..."

"I thought you were trying to tell me I'd make it without you...I was..."

"Tryin' to be noble?...God, right, that what's I need...Another Angel...Noble and pinin'...But not so much he could ever visit me on a regular basis or even stick when I really needed him...Hell...Is that what you've been picking up from him?..."

"I...Well, Buffy...I..."

"You're gonna back out too...God, what is it with me?...Even the guy who stuck it out for years and won his soul back for me doesn't want..." she teared up... Dawn glaring at Will...Even as hope returned...If he'd just go on being densely noble like his new boss...But damnit, what the hell's wrong with him?...Will?...

"You said you'd stick, William?...Was that only Spike talking?..."

"Buffy...I...Look, dearest, I wasn't expecting this...I mean..."

"I wasn't in LA cause I didn't know, William...I woulda come...I swear..."

"You really are...?" "What?..." she glared through tears... "You still think I'm doin' this for you?...I don't really care...I just want you to feel better?...To Hell with your hurt feelings...I love you...And you're actin' like a total angelic jackass..." Hmmn?...Dearest?..she blinked...

Oh, God...Dawn sighed...Torpedo has impacted...The ship is going down...Oh, well...At least he's got a little more sense than his boss...And he is making a good income...And then some...

What the heck is up with that, anyway?...Between his two new jobs, he's gotta be making ten times what Buffy gets as a stipend now from the Council...

"Dearest?...What the hell does that mean Will?...Do you still love me or no?...If not, say so...I know you've got good reason not to..." What?...Dawn stared, fuming a bit...After all you've done for him?...

"I did a terrible thing to you last year...You know what I mean...Will...I'm so ashamed..." she looked away...

So...You hit him a few, the year before...The demon I might note...Left him in the high school basement souled and insane a few weeks...Big deal...Dawn shook her head...Well, maybe it was a little harsh...Him having the soul back and all...Still...We couldn't take chances with Spike the rapist...

"Buffy, don't be silly...You brought me back...Came for me when I..."

"You know...I told you I needed Spike..." she sighed, looking down... "I told you I wanted the demon in you back to fight..." He put a hand up...

"Buffy...I came here as I said...Expecting nothing but maybe a kind word and a chance to thank you...Now you're saying...You gotta give a guy a mo..."

"I don't want you to go back to LA...Angel can deal there...Stay here..." she took his hand... "Heck, you never finished your degree...I'm starting at Cambridge in the spring...Stay and we can do our degrees together..."

Buffy...he sighed...

"A vampire doesn't care if or how he gets money...A man has to...You and the Nibs deserve better than ...Look, if I give up what Angel and the Council have offered me...I have nothing but the clothes on my back...Literally...I have nothing to offer you, Buffy..." A supportive look from Dawn...Absolutely...And with a clotheshorse like sis...

"This is nothing but nineteenth century...Sexist..." Buffy fumed...



"I didn't say I'd object to splitting the dinner bill 50-50..." he grinned...Ummn...Dawn eyed the menu carefully...

Wouldn't want to offend his Victorian sensibilities, poor reclaimed fellow...

"Silly as it seems...I think I can do a useful job in LA...More important, I might get a line on securing that damned prophecy for myself...Even more important, I'll be making enough cash to help you and Dawn get through those Cambridge degrees...And I can go for a degree there..."

Would be nice if one of the Wolfram-Hart law firm partners actually had a law degree...he grinned...

"And...Buffy, I love you...You know I always will...But we barely know each other...As people, I mean..."

"Right, fine...Go back...Be Angel, Jr....(Girl, that's beyond the pale...he frowned...) Call me in fifty years or so when you win Humanity back...If I'm still kickin' and footloose...Maybe we can have dinner again..."

"...But if I go back...And am pullin' down a fair stash...No reason why I couldn't fly back...Every weekend...I haven't settled things with the Brooding One yet...I'll just tell him far as William S. Walthrop's concerned the world's gotta be saved between Monday through Friday..." Ummn...she looked at him...

Unlike certain moronically devoted types...This superhero's gonna be keeping lawyer's hours...he grinned...

"Every weekend...You promise...?" she eyed him...If you want me...Without fail, he nodded...Or strip me of my 'champion' title...

Hmmn...Well...That's a start...she nodded...But I'll need you to do something for me...Oh?...he stared...

"London or Britain in need of saving?...Cause if it's more than a continent in danger I promised Broodo I'd leave the entire world-saving to him except on his days off..."

Nah...It's just... "I want you to read this over..." she pulled a sheet from her purse... "Tell me if it works for you..."

"Slayer handbills, girl?...Did you finally take poor ole Anya's advice and go professionally mercenary?..."

What is that?...Dawn stared...Some spell from Willow?...Maybe for daylight protection...Or, dare I hope...Another memory spell?...A kind way to ease out of a potential disaster...

"Well, anyway..." Buffy handed him the paper...Clearly rewritten multiple times... "I thought this would do...Is it the right way to...?" she stared at his blinking face...

I...he stared...

Uh-oh...Dawn eyed him...

"I...Buffy..." he looked over the announcement of the engagement of one William Soames Walthrop, of Brusset, England and Los Angeles, CA to Ms. Buffy Anne Summers, formerly of Sunnydale, California, USA...

"I thought one in the Times here...And maybe one in the LA Times?..."

Dawn frowned at her sister's sweetly innocent look...As William stared at it...Finally grinning a little...

"LA Times, eh?...Slayer...You really do have a sadistic streak, you know that?..."

"I thought you liked it when I showed my Dark Side..." she grinned back... "Last time back in my basement..."

"Nib...blett..." he hissed, interrupting...Hmmn...she eyed Dawn...Who bore a frowning...Oh, please...expression...Like I didn't know what they were doing in the basement the last night...



"Will, I want some stability in my life...God knows you need it...Will?...Do you think I'm kidding or something?...I mean...If you're not ready for this...?" she asked, rather anxiously...Dawn's face torn between slight hopefulness...Maybe he has got some sense?...And disappointment...He wouldn't do this to her now?...

"Ok, it's not the most romantic way to do it...But I'm not letting you leave without an answer...You said you still love me...Prove it..."

"Buf...I..."

"You don't want to get engaged?...You'd rather be free to run around with every lil' Harmony you come across?..." Ummn...Harmony?... "Yeah, she called to give me the glad tidings and naturally couldn't wait to spill all..." she glared... "Great...You know, you oughta take up Angel's thing...Tell 'em you gotta curse and can't be with 'em...Permanently..."

It's amazing how well it worked for our Brooding Boy she noted... "I mean for someone who's supposed to be unable to experience pure happiness...He's been plenty happy..."

"Buffy...I mean if I were human..."

"You'll do...I settle for souls without curses...C'mon William, do I hafta get on one knee?...You either want me...And can make a commitment...Or you don't..."

Why didn't I get something from Willow before we left tonight?...Memory spell, a stake, a hand grenade...Anything...Dawn thought...

"If it doesn't work out...It's not like it's a marriage...Just a commitment..." she gave an innocent stare...

Like we weren't married all that last year in all but name?...What is a marriage but what we had?...she thought...

"Buffy...We haven't even spent non-crisis situation time together...Well, outside a crypt sh...er evening or two..." he hastily corrected...Dawn rolling eyes...Yeah, I don't know what was going on back then...Uh-huh... "We don't really even..."

"We know each other, Will...You know my best and worst, remember?...And God knows I know yours...And as for spending time together..." she smiled... "I can rectify that...How long can you stay?...Assuming you still won't agree to dumping the LA job...?"

Ummn... "Well...I told Angel...I might kick around a few weeks...See if any of my family survived to the present day...Or any victims..."

Great...she beamed... "I'll tell Giles I'm starting a vacation as of tonight...I've got a place in Paris and a cottage at some little town on the French coast all set...We'll have three days here to track down your people...Kindly take out any surviving victims...Of Spike..." she noted with side glare to Dawn...

She eyed the fuming Dawn..."And our chaperone will not be accompanying us..."

Oh?...he eyed Dawn... "That's a shame, Nibs...You really should see Paris...But the little villages are even...Buffy?..." Dawn blinking as he turned to Buffy...As she stared at him...You wanna take her?...On our first decent vacation...Together?...Hell, my first ever?...

"Well...Just tryin' to be the good potential boyfriend here..." he noted...

Fiancee...Buffy corrected firmly...Oh, God...Dawn sighed...

***



Much to Dawn's horror on her and the tentatively happy couple's return, Xander had been thinking things over...Carefully...

Buffy having cautiously confided some of her plans for the evening to him just before leaving as he'd come to her to make a last desperate protest against her seeing William again...

He was polite but quiet to William as Buffy, likewise quiet...But firm...Made her announcement to him, an anxious Willow, and a resigned Giles...Dawn hanging her head...That of a chaperone failed in her duty...To the side as they listened...

Buffy's hard stare keeping things more or less light and polite until Will took his temporary leave...Hafta grab some things from my hotel...

Yeah...Dawn hopefully grabbed at the straw...Back to the hotel and onto the first plane back...Good ole Will doin' the right thing...That's our boy...

"Don't wuss, Walthrop...I will track you down wherever you go..." Buffy kissed him... "Back in fifteen, Slayer..."

"Wasn't my idea, folks..." he smiled sheepishly at the group staring at him... "I came to do the noble thing and..." he paused, eyeing Buffy's now somewhat nervous face...

And God or the Powers that Be...Or most likely, my dear sainted mum and Joyce...Took pity on me...And sent me to Heaven...he smiled...And left...

"Isn't this...Rushing things...?" Willow noted cautiously...

"We've been a couple for two years...I've seen him soulless and souled which is more than any of you can say about your lovers, guys..." Buffy shook her head... "I hope you'll be happy for us...But if not..."

Do not mention it to Will...He's terrified enough already...she smiled...

"And you intend to go...This very night?..." Giles eyed her...

"No better time than the night for my fellar..." she replied... "Though we'll have a few things to help with the daylight thing...Umbrellas...Conservative lawyer suits...Glasses....Sunblock...We'll manage..."

Giles...she looked at his grim face... "Don't do this to me...Don't make me choose..."

"Of course she's going..." Xander insisted suddenly... "You are going, right?...Paris...And then that village on the coast I told you about..." She nodded... "Good...And when you get there...You gotta take an open plane...A biplane from the nearest airport in Brugges...I have a couple of numbers of guys who take tourists up..." he paused...Buffy eyeing him...He rushed on...Not looking at anyone...

"She wanted to see the countryside from a biplane...Saw some lovers or something do it in some French movie...Hell, I was never really gonna do it...Figured I'd watched from the ground if she absolutely forced me to take her over...But she made sure we had the numbers and a place all set..."

Funny thing is...He smiled a bit... "Every now and then...I call them...And some of the other places we wanted to go to...Just to hear that they're still there..."

It makes me feel a little better to know they're still there...Cause of her...What she...And William...And the rest of us did...

The group stared at him...Except for Willow who moved up to him...

Well, anyway...he rubbed his eyes and looked back at Willow...

"Willow?..."

She sighed but offered Buffy a folded paper..."This is for you...The two of you, Buf...Xander asked me to pull it together after you left...It should give him...Both of you...A few hours a day out in the sun..."



Buffy blinked...And grabbed...

"Willow's spell should last long enough if you do it just before..." Xander said quietly, looking steadily at her...

Yeah...she nodded... "That's what we'll do..." she patted him..."Thanks, Xander..."

Ummn-hmn...he nodded... "Just do it, Buf...Don't make the mistake I did...The moment...If that's all you get...Is worth it...It is...Forget what I said earlier..."

I could've had a year...That whole year before... And a day doesn't pass that I don't regret it...

"Giles, Willow...?" he eyed them... "You're not gonna sit there and tell her it's not...That you'd give up a second?..."

No, Xander...Giles shook his head...

***



Seven days later...A field on a backroad of a country village, Brittany...

Whee....!....Buffy cried out in glee...Spinning round in a circle with William holding her...Spinning in tandem as she held him...

Music playing from a small radio...

“Somehow!...” he called, grinning at her as he swung her around again... “I really never thought that this...”

“So you like the novelty of a relatively normal relationship, eh?!...” she called back...

“Hardly normal with a Buffy Summers!...” “Damned straight, Walthrop!...”

Whoa...He slipped and raised a hand...One mo...

Hell...he eyed her beaming face... If I needed to breathe Slayer...he chuckled...They halted...She falling into his arms...

“Hey...?” she kissed him... “You like this engagement thing?...It working out for you?...”

Yeah...Oh, yeah...he nodded...

“In fact...Darling...” he grinned... “I’m beginning to see a picket fence in my future...”

“Smile again...” she beamed... “I like seeing you smile...” she kissed him again...

“Buffy...” he eyed her...Oh, Lord...she rolled her eyes... “I’m getting to know that look...”

“Yeah, well?...” arms folded, a grim look...

“I...I’m grateful...More than I can say...”

She frowned... “Shut up...” she glared... “Buffy?...”

“I know what you’re going to say...You’ve been trying to say it for the past four days...Ever since you let yourself start believing I meant what I said...”

“That’s not true...” he noted quietly... “I believed you the first day, Summers...From the moment you waved that damned piece of paper in my face...” But...

“Yeah?...But as in... ‘We hafta think seriously about this, Buffy...?’...William?...Do I look like a fool?...Do you take me for a dimwitted blonde idiot?...Do you think I didn’t tear my heart apart about all of this for weeks before and after you died and came back...God...”

“I’m not a man, Buf...How can you be engaged to, let alone marry...”

“You just said...” “I said... ‘In my future...’...” he eyed her...

“Oh...Great...So I’m supposed to wait umpteen years till you manage to get the Powers That Be to hear your plea for full Humanity...And if they’re in a generous mood, bastards...Grant it...”

“Something like that, yeah...” he nodded...

“No...” she shook her head... “I don’t need you to be a certified human male...I need you to be William Soames Walthrop...The one I love...And you are, again...”

“Children...Daylight...And what about what happens when you get up there?...I hafta sit around watching you die?...”

“Angel had a kid...We will or we’ll adopt...Willow’s taken good care of the daylight thing...Or hadn’t you noticed?...And when I age...If you don’t plan to run out on me...I’ll stake you just before I croak...So what the problem?...”

If you get full Humanity back someday...Terrific...If not...We’ll be fine...

“Sides...You can fight much better in this form...And I’m still a Slayer...Even if only a slayer...Will...Don’t do this to me...I don’t want to wait any more...I love you...I need you...I would die to be with you...Do I hafta go souled vamp for you to stick?...Tell me, cause I think we might have a vamp in the vicinity judging by what I felt last night...”

Summers...he frowned...

Walthrop...she glared...Then smiled... “Actually I think I’ll go with Summers-Walthrop...That’s just enough to make it clear you’re mine...But that I’m a 21st century liberated type...”

William...she stared into his frowning face... “Believe me...I would rather die with you than be apart from you...I love you, Will..."

"And you know as well as I do...We are married...In everything but name we've been married since the day you fought your way out of Spike to save me...And I came to save you from the First...We are already married...Will, I can't do it...Any of it without you...Listen...”

Hmmn...He glanced at his hand...The exposed skin was turning a bright red...Buffy caught sight of it... “Will?...”

“I think we’d best be heading back, girl...Continue our first post engagement spat at the inn...” he smiled... “Outstaying my time in the sun, I’d say...”

“Come on...” she pulled him... “The bike’s right here...We’ll get you back in just a few...”

“Nothing to worry about, pet...Lets go...” “Right, right...Lets move it, Will...”

***

The next day...A country village, Brittany...The local constabulary...

"I'd never seen...A bicycle move so fast..." the trembling old man shook his head... "They came from nowhere..." He twisted gnarled farmer's hands... "Heading for the village...I never saw them...Until..."

"I see..." the dark-haired young American nodded and paced, the elderly farmer now waved to a seat by the constable...

"What puzzles me, Monsieur..." the doctor paused, eyeing the young man... "Is the nature of the deaths...The young man burning like that...And the girl...One might possibly accept that somehow gasoline fumes built up around him...But...While it was amazing that she survived the collision...In the end her wounds were not so severe as to be fatal...I don't understand it...Monsieur Depard?..." he turned to the shaken old man...Still trembling as he eyed the others...

"You said she was conscious when you found her...She looked at her companion..."

"She..." the old man paused...Xander put an arm on his, patting gently with a reassuring smile...The man looked up at him, tears in his eyes... "Sir...I..."

"Please...Just tell us..." Xander kindly told him...

"She looked at him...The small blonde man...I turned and my God!...He was aflame!...She screamed 'William!...'... 'William!!'...And she was still..." he put his head down, sobbing...

"I see..." Xander nodded...And left quietly as the others watched him...

Her brother...The doctor noted to several...

He paused just outside where Dawn sat blankly on a stone bench...

"Dawn..."

"We have to call Willow...That's all..." she said quietly... "Willow will know how to get them back...We just have to..."

"Dawn, they died naturally...Willow couldn't bring them back...And I don't think they'd want to come back..." She looked up at him, shock in her face...Buffy wouldn't...?

"It's not you, Dawnie...You know she'd stay for you if she felt she had to...But William needs her more now and she needs him...And peace...At last...She died to be with him...I know that's not easy for you to hear...But..."

"I won't see her again?...Them?..." she stared...

Well...he paused...Taking her hand... "You will someday..." he began... "I'm the Key...What if I'm not even real...If I don't even have a soul?..." she eyed him...

"You have a soul, Dawn Summers..." he shook his head... "The Gift...The real Gift your sister gave you...When you were born from her...As for seeing them..."

Heck, no reason we couldn't try a seance tonight...

"If they'd be willing to let us break into their holiday ..." he smiled...

***