Cluck Cluck
By Selenay

Title: Cluck Cluck
Author: Selenay
E-mail: selenay@talk21.com
Summary: Set in the future, everyone has graduated and a wedding stirs feelings repressed for too long . . .
Disclaimer: Everything, apart from the plot < g >, belongs to Joss Whedon and the folks at Mutant Enemy, Fox, WB etc. Please don’t sue. I’m making no money from this (sadly) and I promise to put them away tidily when I’ve finished.
Distribution: Solo, Sai Lane, anyone else just ask and ye shall receive.
Rating: PG-13

Feedback: Love it, need it, live for it. Did that sound too desperate?


The party was in full swing and their table was probably making more noise than the rest of the restaurant together. Xander stood and tapped his knife against his glass to get everyone’s attention.

"Hi guys. This isn’t going to be a long speech, because that’s Giles’ territory. I just wanted to thank you all for your help. We could never have made it here without you. At least made it here alive."

There were muffled chuckles from the table and Anya stood to add her piece. "In all my years I’ve never had a family like you. You’re weird, but you all care about each other, which probably makes you even weirder. Thank you." She began to sit and then remembered something. "Oh, final rehearsal is tomorrow at six. Don’t be late." She looked severely at Buffy and Giles who had been late today due to unscheduled Slayage.

"Isn’t anyone going to give a toast so we can ‘ave a bloody drink?" Spike asked testily.

"Spike, stop being a pain," Willow instructed him, handing the vampire next to her a glass of orange juice.

"Luv, I’m a va-person, not a bloody rabbit," Spike whined.

"And if you want me to come within ten feet of you tonight you won’t have any whiskey or any beer. If you liked wine-"

"Orange juice is fine," he muttered and turned to Giles, hoping a good argument about football – soccer he corrected himself mentally – would take his mind off the lack of alcohol.

"You’ve got him well trained," Buffy whispered to her best friend.

Willow giggled. "He’s not so much trained as . . . ok, he’s kind of trained. But whiskey and beer smell horrid. It’s not like I’ve made him give up anything else."

"Just smoking and killing people."

"Umm, ok, but he can do those if I’m not around to know about it."

"Is that likely to happen?"

Spike and Willow’s relationship was one of the more unexpected changes during their second year at college. After living with Giles for nearly six months everyone had finally decided that Spike was not going to able to do much harm to anyone with the implant in. In fact it was far more likely that Giles would end up staking his uninvited flat-mate. So they relaxed their watch a little and Spike decided he wanted his own place. With Spike gone Giles realised just how bored he was without a job and finally decided to do something about that. After all, one could only spend so long doing nothing before people, particularly immigration people, began asking questions. So he bought the lease on a shop in town, incidentally not far from the college, and opened a bookshop. It had a rare and old books section of course, but most of the revenue came from more modern books. He had been quite surprised to come out of the back office one afternoon and find Buffy talking intently to a customer. The woman had bought six romance books and congratulated him on his knowledgeable staff. She had helped out occasionally at first and then become a part-time member of staff. After all, someone at the shop needed to know about books written after 1900. And romance books were amazingly popular.

Buffy had discovered Spike’s real reason for moving out shortly after Christmas of their second year at college when she had gone to his apartment at three o’clock in the morning for some help. Willow had answered the door dressed in what appeared to be Spike’s red shirt and nothing else. Buffy had been surprised to say the least but tactfully left. And then she and Xander pummelled Spike severely the next day, until Willow forced them to stop and apologise. Willow in a temper could be really quite frightening, particularly when she was now able to levitate vases at a person.

Riley and Buffy had never quite worked out. They were good friends and she had even introduced him to his current girlfriend. But somehow the spark had fizzled out and they decided it was much better that way. At least that was the excuse Buffy gave herself at the time. Now she knew it was because Riley was never able to measure up to Giles.

Likewise Olivia and Giles split up. She found she could not handle the Slaying business and settled down with a nice, safe dentist in England instead. Giles had never told Buffy that Olivia also could not cope with competing with her. She felt guilty enough about everything as it was.

Now it was six months after graduation and everyone seemed to be starting their lives. Anya and Xander were getting married, Spike and Willow lived together and Buffy had her own apartment. < Apartment is too good a word for it. Closet would be more accurate > Buffy thought.

Willow worked from home developing anti-hacking software. She was already successful, and as she pointed out "who better to do it than a hacker?" At least she knew the back ways into people’s systems in case they ever needed it.

After a nasty incident with a gang of vampires, when the implant forced Spike to simply watch and pray as Willow was nearly killed, they made Walsh to remove the implant. Spike’s complete devotion to the red headed witch ensured that he did not harm any of the Gang, and he even stopped feeding from humans for her. He regularly called himself a whipped idiot, but made no effort to change.

Xander managed a hunting store, to everyone’s amusement and occasional gratitude, and Anya was training as a buyer for a department store. < I seem to be the only person who hasn’t moved on. Working at the bookshop is good, I get to spend lots of time with Giles, but sometimes I wish he’d- >

"When are you going to do something?" Willow asked, breaking into Buffy’s increasingly depressed thoughts.

"D-do?" Buffy stuttered. "Do what? To who?" She blushed slightly at the unfortunate way she had phrased that.

Willow glared at her. "You know. Giles. You’ve barely looked at anything else this evening."

"But-but-"

"Buffy, you’re driving yourself crazy. You’re driving me crazy. You’re even driving Spike crazy! If you don’t do something soon my short-tempered vampire is going to do it for you. Not *it* it ‘cause that would be eeuw, but I warn you . . ."

"Only Xander and Anya could have three wedding rehearsals," Buffy said to try to change the subject. "Anya really wanted this to be ri-"

She was cut off as Willow stood and dragged her into the bathroom for another lecture.

"Buffy, you have been moping about for a year." Willow put on her best resolve face. "You weren’t even this bad about Angel. If you don’t do something before the wedding, I will."

"The wedding! That’s only two days away," Buffy protested.

"Exactly. I think a year is plenty of time to mope, you need to act."

"But what if-"

"But me not buts. Talk to him."

"But me no buts?" Buffy giggled at the old fashioned phrase. "Where did you pick that up? Wait, don’t tell me. It’ll totally destroy any respect I might have Spike."

***

The post-rehearsal party wound down and everyone began to depart with their respective partners. It was at times like these that Buffy thought most about taking Willow’s advice. Not because she was lonely, but because even though Giles was giving her a lift home she knew he would go to his home and she would not see him again until morning. < You are getting melodramatic in your old age > she told herself as she followed him to his car.

They made a quick patrol of a couple of cemeteries on the way, talking and teasing comfortably, before driving to her apartment building.

"I would ask you up," Buffy began, "but I haven’t got any . . . well, anything even related to food or drink ‘cos I haven’t been shopping, so I won’t."

"It’s fine," he reassured her. "Goodnight."

"’Night," Buffy whispered.

Before she turned chicken again she brushed a quick kiss on his cheek and climbed out of the car.

***

"You ‘ave to do something."

Giles sighed at the voice on the end of the phone. He hated to admit it was right, but unfortunately it was.

"I will. When I’m-"

"When nothing. Talk to ‘er before the bloody wedding or I will."

When he wanted to be Spike was direct.

"The wedding! That’s only two days away."

"Exactly. You’ve been moping around like a bleeding wuss for how long? Five years? It’s past time."

"But-"

"But me no buts. Talk to ‘er or I will."

"But me no buts?" Giles could not help chuckling at that.

***

Buffy came into the shop as Giles put the telephone down. One look at her face told him now was not a good time to discuss anything.

"What happened?" he asked.

"I had a cold shower this morning." Buffy kept her voice light, but he could tell she was going to build up. "I didn’t mean to so it was a bit of a shock. Turns out the boiler’s broken. And it won’t be fixed till next week! No heat, no water, for over a week. How am I meant to get ready for a wedding like that?"

Sensibly Giles did not answer, not that he could have got a word in edgewise.

"Why did I move into a stupid, tiny, tatty, icky apartment? Independence is not worth this."

"Weren’t you and Anya going to Willow’s to get ready?" he asked when she paused for breath.

"That’s not the point!" Buffy paused for a moment. "Ok, I made that a point, but it isn’t. The point is that I only want cold showers when I need them, not when I don’t."

"I see." He didn’t really but it was easier to say that.

"Do you want some tea?" she asked suddenly.

"Uh, thank you."

While Buffy clattered around in the back office Giles sat at the counter and tried to decide what to do. Ordinarily he could have simply taken her out to dinner and seen what interpretation she put on the invitation. However the next two evenings were full of wedding duties and then it would be the big day. With the shop he could hardly invite her out to lunch, so what on Earth could he do? No matter how many times Spike told him Buffy loved him, he was hardly going to trust him. Spike sometimes had a vicious sense of humour.

***

"Did you talk to him?" Willow asked.

They were standing in Willow’s kitchen, putting the finishing touches on the meal and drinking coffee. The rehearsal had gone off without a hitch and even Giles and Buffy managed to turn up on time. Spike and Willow had invited her over for a meal afterwards and the witch seemed more determined than ever.

"Well . . . uh . . . nearly."

"Nearly?"

"Very nearly. Five times. I had a bad day. The boiler-""

"What really happened?"

"I chickened. I’m a chicken. A big, fat, clucky chicken."

Buffy rested her head on her hands on the counter so her voice was muffled when she added, "Cluck, cluck."

"Normally I hate to make people feel bad, but I have to agree. Cluck."

"Thanks Will, you’re a great support."

A doorbell sounded but Willow knew Spike was getting it.

"So," she said casually, "tell me again when you knew."

Buffy thought back to the night when she realised that she was hopelessly in love with Giles and a soft smile appeared on her face. "He was working late at the shop and fell asleep. I came into the back office and saw him there, with his head on the desk, and just knew. He looked so . . . I can’t describe it but it was like I suddenly saw everything that had been hidden before."

"Wow," Willow breathed.

***

"You, mate are a chicken." Spike announced as he let Giles into the house. "You didn’t speak to ‘er, did you?"

"I was going to, but then . . ."

"You chickened out. You are a bloody chicken. I’m amazed you ‘aven’t started bloody clucking!"

Giles stayed silent, reflecting on the truth of the vampire’s words. He hadn’t even been this bad with Jenny. < But if Jenny had rejected me my life would have gone on rather than falling to pieces > he reminded himself. < At least at that point anyway. Later . . . >

"Tell me again when you first realised," Spike demanded.

"I don’t think I have ever told you. I believe it was Willow that-"

"Technicalities – bloody Watchers. Now, talk."

Giles sighed and relented, his face softening as he remembered. "It was when Travers told me she had gone to the inn during her Cruciamentum."

Spike snorted but stayed silent.

"I felt as though the bottom dropped out of my world. When Travers told me I was fired I knew I could never leave her. She’s everything to me."

"You sure about that?"

Giles looked confused. "Of course."

"Good. Willow!"

At the signal Willow came out of the kitchen, followed by a surprised Buffy, and gave her mate a slight nod.

"We promised we wouldn’t say anything," she said. "We never promised not to *do* anything, and Spike got impatient."

"Me?" he protested. "You’re the one that spent the day pacing and disturbing me every five minutes."

"What’s going on?" Buffy asked.

Willow looked at her as though she was blind. "You two are talking before the wedding, like we said. Spike and I are going to a movie."

With that she and blonde vampire walked out and closed the door behind them.

For a while the Slayer and former Watcher looked at each other awkwardly, and then Buffy spoke. "You must be wondering what’s going on."

"I think I can make an educated guess. Willow has been badgering you, much as Spike has been doing with me, and they’ve finally given up and forced us to talk."

"Good guess."

Silence.

"I hate this," Buffy said, deciding to act. All of Willow’s words, about her ‘moping’ and most of all the ‘cluck cluck’, came back and she wanted to prove them wrong. Giles was looking at her, half hopeful, half-afraid and that was what finally decided her. < What if Willow is right? Could he feel the same about me? Only one way to find out. And I *have* wanted to kiss him for ages. If I’m wrong this could be the only chance I get. >

She moved forward at the same time as Giles and they found themselves standing only an inch away from each other. For a long moment they stared at each other, then Buffy reached up an arm and pulled his head down. He did not resist, but she stopped when his lips were nearly brushing hers. < Cluck cluck. > she heard in her head, but this was important and she needed to do it right or it would all blow up in her face.

There was something she needed to say to him. "If you don’t want this, stop me now and we don’t need to say anything about it again. I’ll also be eternally humiliated, but-"

The feel of his warm lips against hers stopped her and she gave herself up to the sensation. It only lasted a few seconds before he lifted his head, chuckling at her slight whimper. "I love you," he whispered.

"I love you too."

He could feel the smile against his lips as they kissed again.

"Do you wanna finish this somewhere else? I don’t really feel right here. Your apartment is nice," Buffy pointed out.

"Are you sure-"

She covered Giles’ lips with a finger and then, unable to resist, she replaced it briefly with her mouth. "Completely. I’ve waited a long time and I’m an impatient person."

"You’ve waited a long time?"

"Uh-huh. A year, or seven years depending on how you look at it." She grinned at him, the smile lighting the room like a small sun. "You can tell me all about how long you’ve loved me later. We’ve got all the time in the world. Right now I think it’ll be a good plan to get out of here while we can."

Giles’ smile competed with Buffy’s for brilliance as she led him to the door.

"Now I don’t have an excuse to be late to work tomorrow," the blonde Slayer said.

"I’m sure your boss would understand if you were."

***

The band played a lively piece as the assembled guests waited for the bride and groom to reappear. The vows had been said, the toasts had been made and the first dance had been danced. All that was needed now was for the happy couple to appear and leave for their honeymoon. As the song ended Xander and Anya walked through the doors of the hall the reception was being held in holding hands. The room quietened.

"Guys, thank you for all you’ve done." He began. "The day has been perfect, and you have no idea how glad we are about that." The Gang knew better than the rest of the guests how special that was on the Hellmouth. "We’re off to the Bahamas, thank you Giles," he grinned at his best man, "leaving you lot with the washing up. Thanks. Don’t stop the party on our account – we wouldn’t if we were you!"

Everyone followed them out to where their car, decorated courtesy of Giles and Spike, waited. Before they climbed in Giles dashed up and handed Anya her bouquet, which she had left on her table.

"One, two, three!" she shouted and threw it in the air.

Most of the females present jostled for it, but somehow it managed to land in Buffy’s outstretched hand. She had been sure it wasn’t going in her direction, until she noticed the grin Willow gave her and smiled back.

Anya was looking at her expectantly, along with Willow and Spike, but Giles seemed to be looking anywhere but at her. < I’m sure I haven’t got food on my face, and I’m wearing a dress so it can’t be an undone zip. What . . .? > She felt something cold on her hand and looked down to see a ring tied to the ribbons on the bouquet. A suspiciously diamond-looking ring that she was sure Anya hadn’t been wearing.

"Cluck cluck," Willow whispered to her.

< It can’t be. > she thought. < He wouldn’t . . . he has. He’s walking towards me. Cluck cluck. >

"Will you m-"

"Yes!"

"Join us here next month, same time, same place, different couple," Xander announced, watching Giles place the ring on Buffy’s finger.

THE END