Summary: Fizz of various kinds is enjoyed.
Notes: In the universe of "A Tragedy in Six Holidays" and "Tactical Considerations".
Word count: 2400
Feedback: Makes the author happy. Even if you just say hi.
Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction. I claim no ownership and am making no money.
The wedding was in a little church that Willow explained was Anglican, though Buffy couldn't see much difference between it and the Catholic church she'd been to twice a year since the earliest she could remember. One big difference was that the priest was married to a cute little woman who helped with the rehearsal two days before. Willow had dragged Buffy along to that, probably because she was afraid her parents would freak at the thought of Ira Rosenberg's daughter as a bridesmaid in a Christian church wedding. She got over it, though, in the thrill of getting dressed up and carrying flowers for her favorite teacher.
Buffy sat on the groom's side of the church, and kept an eye on her nervous Watcher, fidgeting in front of the altar.
Giles turned out to have parents, and not to have sprung fully-formed from the forehead of a giant tweed Watcher as Buffy had half-suspected. He even had a handful of friends willing to fly all the way to California from England, including a beefy guy named Robson who was his best man. Robson eyed Buffy respectfully when Giles presented her to him. And Giles used that word, which was not something anybody had ever said when introducing Buffy to people before, which meant that this Robson guy was another Watcher type. Buffy resolved to avoid him at the reception.
Miss Calendar, or Ms Calendar as she was about to become, had a larger gathering, from her Wiccan circle friends to her extended family. And of course the nicer faculty of Sunnydale High showed up. Not, Buffy was relieved to see, Snyder. Still, it wasn't a huge wedding. Maybe thirty people, tops, in the pews at the front of the little incense-wreathed church. These Anglicans were into the smoky stuff.
Xander was a groomsman, standing up there now along with Giles and his best man. Xander was there probably more to make Willow happy than to make Giles happy. Though Giles seemed not to mind. Buffy suspected he wouldn't have minded anything short of a two-by-four hitting him in the face. Or noticed. He had a megawatt smile going, all teeth and crinkled eyes, when the organist started playing.
Buffy cranked around with everybody else to watch Jenny glow her way up the aisle. She looked just as happy, and maybe a little bit smug. Buffy wondered again what the appeal was: what did her Watcher have that made Miss Calendar look like a cat with her head in the cream carton? He was so old and stuffy and all wrapped up tight in those absurd jackets and checked shirts. Though he did look spiffy today, dolled up in a nice dark wool suit with a buttonhole. And as the ceremony progressed-- just like in the movies, complete with old-fashioned "with this ring I thee wed"-- Buffy had to admit she was touched. Giles said his vows as if he meant them, in a choked-up voice, which was almost swoon-worthy. Ms Calendar said hers as if the glee were almost but not quite about to bubble over and fill the church with fizz.
The reception was at a good French restaurant, a place Buffy hadn't realized Sunnydale had, with a view of the ocean and the sunset. She was at a table with the other people under the age of fifty, Willow and Xander and a couple of Calendarical connections who were more interested in talking to each other than to them. Not that Buffy minded; they seemed boring and half the time they didn't talk in English.
Willow was well over her freak and deep into thrill mode. She looked utterly fab in her dress, which Miss Calendar had helped her pick out. Xander was impressed, anyway, and kept sneaking peeks. And he looked great in a suit, himself, and Willow was not so much sneaking peeks at him as marching around grabbing them. Buffy did wonder when he was going to get a clue.
Willow ate a bite of her salmon with whacky shrooms something or other Buffy still couldn't pronounce after two years of French, and made a happy face. "Best wedding I've ever been to," she said. "Good food, no Rosenbergs making snide comments about Glassmans, nobody singing Bette Midler songs-- I'm a happy Willow."
"I am still loving the dress, Will," Buffy said.
Willow wriggled her shoulders. "Mmm, thanks! Me too. It's making me feel all grownup. Hey. Angel didn't come?"
Buffy shook her head. "He made this really strange face when I asked him if he would come with me. Giles kinda encouraged me to ask him. Sent him an invitation and everything." She rolled her eyes. The idea of her Watcher trying to fix her up! Though if he was going to try to fix her up with somebody, this Angel guy wasn't a bad pick. Buffy was starting to kinda like him, like him. Plus he had the whole man of mystery, fights on the right side thing going for him. She was wearing the cross he'd given her right now.
Dinner ended, and the plates were cleared away. The best man stood up, and did the funny speech thing, which was funnier than Buffy had expected. Giles had apparently pulled some stunts in his youth at this Oxford place. He endured the speech with his face hidden in his hands. Xander wore an expression of total glee; Giles would not live this down ever. Robson wound up with a sappy toast that had everybody sniffling.
Buffy lifted her glass, drank, and then made a face. "This isn't champagne!"
"I checked," said Xander. "They gave us that sparkling apple juice stuff. What's a guy gotta do to have his first glass of champagne?
"No sympathy from me," said a voice behind Buffy. She spun-- Miss Calendar, no, wait, Ms Calendar, with a glass in her hand. "I'm drinking apple juice too." She had a hand laid across her belly, where she was showing.
"I, on the other hand, have the real thing. Here." Giles stretched out a hand with his glass to Xander. His face was flushed and his tie loose. Buffy suspected he'd had a couple of glasses already.
Xander took a healthy swig and swished it around in his mouth. He swallowed, and his face screwed up. "That's-- people volunteer to drink that? And before you say anything, yes, I'll figure it out when I get older. I've been told this. My current theory is that all your taste buds fall off at the age of twenty-one, and you suddenly think it tastes good. It used to be eighteen, but they-- oh just shut me up. Congratulations, Giles! I give you the manly groomsman shoulder hug."
He suited actions to words, and Giles returned it, which was proof positive he'd had more champagne than he ought to have had. Congratulations were shared all around, and there was more soppy hugging.
The bride and groom wandered off after that, to shake more hands and accept more well-wishes. Dessert arrived, which Buffy refused to eat because she had five pounds to lose to fit into this dress she'd found at the thrift shop that she was sure Angel would love. Or at least notice. Assuming his refusal to come to the wedding with her was not a bigger sort of rejection. Buffy brought this possibility up to Willow, and the two dove into a technical discussion of exactly what he'd said when he'd declined.
Xander kicked her ankle, twice. Buffy looked up, annoyed. "Don't turn around, Buff. The Giles paterfamilias is on his way over here. Yeah. Incoming. With Mrs G the elder."
Xander stood when they got there, demonstrating a politeness Buffy hadn't realized he'd had in him. He shook Giles's dad's hand and then introduced Buffy to them.
Giles's mom was a lot younger than Giles's dad was. She had a poise, and a certain alertness, that made Buffy wonder if she'd been a Slayer, or something like that, decades ago, before she got married. Did Slayers get to retire? Buffy had a moment of hope. No, wait, there was some deal Giles had mentioned once, where most Slayers got spotted when they were kids, before they had the powers land on their heads, and were raised and trained by Watchers. She was probably one of those. She had sweet things to say to Xander and Willow, thanking them for helping her son get himself married, and she even kissed Xander on the cheek. He flamed out red and went speechless.
Giles senior wasn't so genial. He zoomed right in on Buffy, one hundred percent terrifying old guy whom she couldn't be flip to without being unforgivably rude. "Come walk with me," he said, without any preamble. Buffy met Willow's eyes and made a helpless face, then put her napkin on the table.
Giles's dad was tall, nearly as tall as Giles himself, though the slight stoop meant he had once been taller. He had broad shoulders, and Buffy could see where Giles got the strong jaw. He was walking with a stick, but he didn't lean on it much. Or at all. Buffy wondered if it was a sword-stick, or something else lethal. She had the idea that this guy, when he went, would go over like an oak in a storm, toppling all in one stubborn piece. She walked alongside him and waited.
"My son thinks you've got potential."
"Potential isn't enough."
Buffy cast a glance at him sidelong, trying to figure out if he was insulting her. He'd been a Watcher too, Giles had told her. What had happened to his Slayer? How long ago? Did he remember her?
"I suppose you don't pay attention to a single word he says."
"Well, I pay attention to some of them. He says one in ten."
Giles senior made a kind of harrumphing noise. "You ought to listen to him. When you were born, he'd already spent sixteen years training to be your Watcher."
"That's... kind of pathetic, really." Which wasn't what Buffy meant, but it was too much to think about. The idea of somebody spending twice her lifetime getting ready to teach her to throw knives at a target dummy and to translate huge books in rotting leather bindings for her and lecture her about missing patrol to go out on dates.
"My son volunteered for this. Do him the courtesy of accepting his sacrifice. For your own sake." Mr Giles said.
Buffy got the impression that there were a million things unsaid, lurking behind that flat statement. But it was an annoying thing to say. She was the one making all the sacrifices. Though-- Merrick. Buffy felt guilty about Merrick and probably always would. Weird guy in a weird trenchcoat, looked perverty but had turned out to be the kind of guy who would shoot himself so Buffy could escape and live. Was Giles that kind of guy?
And speak of the devil, here was the groom, sans his bride, sans his glass of champagne, but still with the flower in his buttonhole. Giles looked wary and completely sober. "Hullo, Dad. I see you've met Buffy."
He cocked a questioning eyebrow at her. Buffy gave him a tiny nod to let him know she was okay.
"Mr Giles was just telling me I should up my listening ratio from one word in ten to one word in five. Six at the least."
Giles grinned at her, and Buffy tilted her head and grinned back. "I'm hoping for a scheme where I get you to listen to one sentence in ten. I can recite the most absurd piffle in the first nine--"
"And then tell me not to drop my left shoulder in the tenth!"
They smiled at each other. Buffy shot a look at G-man senior, expecting to see him glaring, but he looked pleased for some reason she couldn't work out.
"Dad, I'd like to introduce you to some of Jenny's family. May we take our leave of you, Buffy?"
"Go right ahead. It was, uh, interesting to meet you, Mr Giles. And nice. Also, nice. Can't forget nice."
Buffy waved them off. Giles wound his arm through his father's, with a look on his face that Buffy envied. She was due to see her dad in a couple of weeks, and she hadn't realized until that minute that she missed him. She gratefully retreated to her table, to be consoled after her ordeal with the forkful of crème brûlée that Willow had rescued from Xander, eater of all unattended desserts.
And then they were off, the happy couple, carried away in a cab for a few days somewhere hush-hush up the coast. Buffy had the phone number and address on a slip of paper in her purse, just in case; Giles was such a fuss-budget. The party broke up soon after that. Xander drove Willow and Buffy downtown for a latte at the Pump, as they were all unwilling to go home to boring lives just yet. They sat on a street table, feeling good in their wedding finery, and watched their jeans-clad townsfellows slouch around. Xander unpinned his carnation and gave it a contemplative sniff. Buffy watched Willow watching Xander, again, and hid her smile. Xander didn't make her heart beat fast, but she could see he was cute.
"So, hey. We got my Watcher married."
Xander saluted the air with his paper cup. "All thanks to the fine supportive presence of me and Willow."
"You two make a cute couple, walking down the aisle in all your awesome clothes. Xan, you clean up nice."
Willow sighed. "They make a cute couple. Meant to be together."
"And now they are. Joined for all eternity. Do you suppose they're, you know, right now?" Xander's eyes were wide, as if he'd just had a moment like the one Buffy'd had a few weeks ago: the moment of realizing that Giles and Ms Calendar slept together.
"Xan. Ew. I just ate."
To Buffy's surprise, Xander made a disapproving face at her. He shook his head.
So did Willow. "I think it's romantic," she said.
Buffy once again had that feeling of dislocation, of everybody else seeing something she didn't. But she let Willow have the last word, because why not? It was good to be sappy at weddings.