Someone Like You
Summary: Future. Buffy. Angel.
I am so rusty, but man I still love these characters like whoa.
Thanks to Dark Star for continuing
the IWRY Ficathon
I miss you guys.
I hate to turn up out of the
blue uninvited, but I couldn't stay away, I couldn't fight it. - Adele
The sky outside her hotel room
promised rain. Typical April day in England, but it would have been nice if
just once the weather would cooperate. Buffy sighed and dropped the
curtain. She poured another cup of tea from the pot left by room service
and settled on the settee.
Eventually she'd have to get
ready, but she just needed a little more time to contemplate the day. This
Her wedding day.
Buffy took another sip of the
tea and settled the cup back in its saucer. She took a minute to admire the
china, porcelain so thin she could almost see through it. It was the
prettiest pattern she'd ever seen, and Buffy'd seen a lot of them as her
future sister-in-law had insisted she pick out her own pattern and had
dragged her to every housewares store in London.
It still seemed weird to Buffy
to even be considering kitting out a house. She was 40, after all, and had
managed just fine for all these years without china or silver or linens
with tatted lace edging. It made Lee happy though and what made Lee happy
made Bryce happy and there they were, a big happy circle.
A knock on the door.
Willow, at last.
"I keep forgetting that
traffic is crazy in this city," Willow said by way of greeting.
"It's just not orderly, which in a country that prides itself on order
makes absolutely no sense."
"It's just British
order," Buffy said, taking the damp coat and umbrella Willow offered.
"It makes sense in a British way. Do you want some tea? It's still
Buffy hung Willow's coat in the
closet and leaned the umbrella against the wall and then headed back to the
sofa and the tea tray.
"Bryce sure went all
out," Willow said, remarking on the room's plush luxury.
"Go big or go home,"
Buffy said smiling as she poured.
"Yeah, you'd think he was from
Texas instead of Surrey."
"Here," Buffy said,
holding out the dainty cup and saucer.
"So," Willow said.
"I couldn't find him."
Buffy sat on the sofa and Willow
"I tried, Buffy. I called
in every favour I could. I turned over every rock, figuratively
"I guess I'm not surprised.
If he doesn't want to be found, he knows how to be lost."
Buffy looked at her friend.
"Don't be. It was an impossible request. It was - stupid."
Willow shook her head. "Not
"I haven't seen him in a
long time. I just thought..."
"I know," Willow said,
putting her hand on Buffy's arm in a gesture of solidarity. "It's
probably time to start getting ready. Do you want me to run you a
Angel had been watching the
hotel since the moment Buffy had arrived. He'd seen her pull up in the
black limousine; seen her pull the flimsy raincoat she'd been wearing more
snuggly around her thin shoulders; seen the casual way she'd reached for
the hand of the dark-haired man she was with. Everything about her was
familiar and lost.
London was loud and grey. It
would have been better to get married in June. You could expect the weather
to be nicer then, but Angel supposed Buffy didn't really care too much
about that. Not now. Not after all this time.
Angel still knew how to hug the
shadows and that's what he did for the first couple of days. Through the
grapevine he'd heard that Buffy, by way of Willow, was looking for him, but
he wasn't sure it was the wisest thing to be found. After all this time.
Now, when Buffy seemed to finally be ...happy.
He'd checked the guy out. Byrce
Winthrop III. Big time social media advertising guru. Perfect British
pedigree: Oxford, polo captain, a few Earls in the family tree. Married
once before. Widowed young. No children. Still had a full head of hair,
even. Clearly, from all accounts, he adored Buffy.
Angel couldn't exactly find
fault with that.
Buffy sank gratefully into the
bathwater, silky with the lavender oil Willow had added. She actually
preferred bubbles in her bath - easier to hide her body's betrayals beneath
clouds of suds - but she didn't want to hurt Willow's feelings. She'd been
trying so hard, looking for Angel and doing the matron of honour stuff Buffy
knew she loathed.
Now, beneath the slick surface
of water, she could see how time was reaching out its cunning fingers,
reshaping her flesh, pulling and twisting. Bryce didn't care. We're all
of us getting older, love, he'd murmured, that first time and all the
times after. His body was trim, still, but not solid muscle like it must
have been fifteen years ago.
It wasn't even the fact of her
body's slow rebellion, although Buffy would admit to a certain amount of
vanity. It was that she'd never really appreciated its perfection
when it actually was perfect. And when she could have been enjoying it,
she'd been moping after a vampire who couldn't even actually appreciate its
And yet - there'd been that
night, one jewel in a bed of coal and just thinking about it made Buffy's
knees knock reflexively.
She really, really needed to
focus on the here and now. What was the saying: the hardest thing about
moving forward is not looking back.
The banns had been in the paper.
He hadn't seen them; he didn't often read the paper anymore. Too biased.
Spike couldn't resist calling attention though.
"Looks like our girl's gone
and got herself a man." Spike had thrust the London Times in
front of Angel, on top of his copy of Proust.
"I'm busy, Spike."
"Oh, please. You're only
pretending to read that shite. I mean, Proust? What a wanker."
"I promised him that I'd
read it," Angel said, pulling the book out from under the newspaper.
"He's been dead forever; I
doubt he'll care." Spike said. "Fine then. I'll read it to
you." Spike cleared his voice grandly. "Mr. and Mrs. Bryce
Winthrop II are thrilled to announce the wedding of their eldest son, Bryce
Winthrop III," here Spike paused in his reading to comment on his
distaste for British titles, "to Buffy Summers, daughter of Hank and
the late Joyce Summers."
At this point, Angel had had no
choice but to snatch the paper from Spike, if only to shut him the hell up.
"Can you believe it?"
Spike had said, smugly. "I always knew that cookie speech was a
Spike never failed to mention
the cookie speech when the occasion presented itself. Even Angel had to
admit that it was not one of Buffy's finer moments, but the remarks had
been intended for his ears only. And he'd meant what he'd said: he wasn't
getting any older, but apparently Buffy was.
"Not surprised by the
choice, though," Spike said. "All squeaky clean like that git,
Angel scanned the rest of the
announcement, noting the date and the church. Finding out where she was
staying prior to the event had been a piece of cake.
Willow had popped the cork on a
bottle of Prosecco.
"Oh, I dunno, Will,"
Buffy said, tying the belt on the soft, velvet robe provided by the hotel.
"You only get married
once," Willow laughed, pouring a flute of the bubbly drink.
"Well, if you're lucky."
"I don't know. Luck and I
have had an ongoing feud."
"Perhaps your luck is about
to change," Willow said, raising her glass in a toast.
Buffy lifted her glass and they
clinked. "Bryce is a good man," she said just before she took her
first delicious sip. "Nectar of the Gods."
"Oh my God! Do you remember
how many bottles of this we drank in Italy?"
"A million." Buffy
The women enjoyed their drinks
and the momentary silence.
"It seems like a long time
ago," Buffy said finally.
"It was a long time
Another lifetime," Buffy
said and then laughed self-consciously. "Give me some more; I'm
Willow refilled their glasses.
"Buffy," she said.
"What do you suppose would
have happened if Angel'd stuck around? Or if he'd, y'know, got his Shanshu,
Buffy sighed. It's not like
these weren't the sort of hypothetical questions she'd asked herself ad
nauseum for the first ten years after Los Angeles had become a big sink
hole. In the beginning, she and Angel had at least communicated. And then,
something changed. Angel started to retreat until, finally, without a word,
without even saying goodbye, he'd vanished. He was always really good at
Buffy twisted her hair into a
simple knot and stepped back from the mirror.
"You look beautiful, Buffy.
You have to say that, Will.
You're my best friend."
"No. You're going to take
his breath away," Willow said and leaned in to give Buffy a kiss on
"Is it time?"
Willow regarded the clock on the
bedside table. "The limo is supposed to be here at two and it's one
forty-five. We could go down to the lobby."
"No, I don't want to make a
spectacle. Let's just wait here until two."
Buffy reached out and squeezed
her friend's hand. "Okay."
Angel watched the limo pull up
in front of Buffy's hotel. It was now or never. Now or never.
Angel dug his hands into his
black trench coat and took a step forward.
Suddenly, the front door of the
hotel opened and there she was, Willow at her side.
There was something about her
dress - simple, no fuss or frills - that took Angel's breath away. His
actual breath - because he had it now. His heart clenched; a fist in his
When Buffy hesitated, looked up
across the hood of the limo, Angel stepped back into the shadowy alcove.
He couldn't let her go.
He had to let her go.
"You look beautiful, my
dear," Giles said, leaning on his cane. His arthritis had crippled his
body, but not his mind. He was waiting for her at the entrance to the
church. Dawn was there and Xander. Faith. Buffy was so happy to see them,
"I was so afraid I wasn't
going to be able to get away," Dawnie whispered into her ear. "Damn
Buffy pulled back to admire the
familiar faces beaming at her. "I'm so happy you're all here. This day
just wouldn't have been complete without you." She realized how little
of the truth her words conveyed, but it was the best she could do without
breaking down and ruining her eye makeup.
"We'd better get in there,
eh," Xander said. "There's about eight hundred Winthrops and we
need to even things out a bit or the church is gonna tilt."
"I'll see you after, okay,"
Buffy said. "At the reception. I hope you brought your dancing
"You know it, B,"
Faith said. "Any hot Dukes or wannabe Kings on the guest list?"
Buffy smiled. "I'm sure
there's someone to scratch that itch, Faith. Just don't break any hearts."
"Now that's a promise I
can't make," Faith laughed and slipped between the huge oak doors of
"She never changes,"
Willow said mildly.
"She never does."
"I'm just going to sneak in
and see what the timeline is. You okay on your own for a minute?"
"I'm not Julia Roberts,
Will," Buffy said.
Willow cocked an eyebrow.
The sun pierced the clouds just
as Angel started up the gravel path to the steps of the church. When Buffy
turned to face the sound of footsteps, his face was in shadow, but she'd
know those shoulders anywhere.
"I knew you'd come,"
"Am I that
"No. But I had a dream,
like the one I used to have back when I was in high school. The one where
we're standing in the church and we're married and we walk down the aisle,
out into the sunlight..."
"And you burst into
"Only this time I
"Maybe that's because this
time you aren't marrying me," Angel said.
"I would have," Buffy
"I know that, too"
They regarded each other
"He seems like a good man,
Buffy. I'm happy for you."
"He is a good man,"
she agreed. "But I'd rather you weren't quite so happy."
"Are you staying?"
Angel looked at the ground. He
twisted his head a little, looked out across the cemetery adjacent to the
church. Then he looked back at Buffy. He held out his hand and she took it.
His kiss was sweet.
Buffy reached up and placed her
palm against Angel's cheek.
"Thank you," she said.
So much time lost.
So little left.
When the strains of Pachelbel's
Canon drifted out into the church courtyard, it was empty except for
The End .
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