Patience Hath its Rewards
Xander was feeling pretty good about himself that afternoon. For the second time in less than a month, he -- Alexander Lavelle Harris -- was the hero of the moment. And he had no need to either shout it out to the world or keep it a deep, dark secret.
Everyone at school already knew.
As the police were hauling the lunch lady away -- and surprisingly, taking the time to thank Xander and Faith for capturing a dangerous psychotic -- Principal Snyder had looked like he was chewing on his own liver. That by itself was almost worth the moment or two when he'd thought he was going to be chopped into hamburger.And then there were all those grateful looks on the faces of the girls in the cafeteria.
Xander grinned. There was a time when he would've tried to make something out of those looks -- and most likely ended up making a big fool of himself. Instead, he'd just given them a small smile, tipped a non-existent hat, and gone in search of some food that wasn't full of rat poison.Damn if I didn't pull off Oz-level cool back there
, he thought smugly.
His self-congratulatory thoughts were cut off as he heard the front door open. "Hey Xan, where are ya?" he heard Faith call.
He grinned as he came into the main room to greet her. "What's up?" he asked. "Miss Peel let you out of training early?"
Faith dropped the gear she was carrying. "Yeah. Said I should catch up on my sleep." Then she turned to Xander and gave him an evil-looking smirk. "But I can think of better ways to spend my time."
"Oh. Ah . . . and I guess you're thinking, maybe, um . . . "
In a flash, she had crossed the room and thrown her arms around him. "I'm thinking that you deserve a big reward for saving all those people today. And I'm thinking that last night's skulking around, taking potshots at a demon without getting any action, left me with an itch like you wouldn't believe." Then she planted her lips on his.
That kiss just about turned Xander's legs to jello, but somehow, he still managed to protest, "No, wait, Faith . . . stop."
She pulled back, a hurt expression appearing on her face. "Don't . . . don't you want me?"
He chuckled in spite of his anxiety. "Good God, Faith, how could I not
want you? It's just . . . the way you were just talking, about 'having an itch' -- that's how it was that
night, too. You didn't care who you took to bed; I just happened to be the first guy within reach. I want our next time to be something special . . . you know, dinner and candles and flowers and all that stuff. I . . . I want to make love with you, Faith -- not just scratch your itches."
Faith put her hands on her hips and glared at him. "God, Xander. How can you be so nice and so annoying
at the same time? Any other guy would've had his pants off already, and you're just standing there, saying all these nice things . . . and I'm . . . God, Xander, I'm just about ready to bust
! I've never been this horny in my life, and I've been waiting twelve freakin' hours, and now . . . " She chewed on her lip. "Xander, if I don't get a little relief soon, I'm afraid I'll attack you or somethin'."
Xander swallowed. There were probably guys who had fantasies like this, but the possibility of Faith losing control of herself really did scare him -- she was strong enough to do some serious damage, even accidentally. And if she hurt him . . . "Um . . . I meant what I said about wanting to wait for the right time, but . . . you know, I could just . . . well . . . give you a little . . . um, relief . . . but not, ah, take my
Faith's grin slowly came back. "You know Xan-man, if you just don't wanna have sex -- at least, according to the Bill Clinton definition -- there's still a whole lotta stuff we can do. And I do
still owe you that reward . . . " With a sudden rush, she grabbed him by his shirt and practically hauled him into the bedroom.* * *
Joyce had left a message on the machine for Buffy that afternoon, saying Rupert had surprised her with a dinner invitation, and strongly suggesting that she microwave the meatloaf in the fridge instead of ordering a pizza.
She'd also told her daughter to expect her around nine, but it was quarter to ten by the time they got home. To their surprise, Buffy was waiting on the couch, and the moment they came in, she jumped up with an eager, "Well? C'mon, guys, spill!"
Joyce and Rupert gave each other bemused looks, then turned back to Buffy. Joyce was biting the inside of her mouth to keep from laughing as Rupert asked, "Spill what, Buffy?"
She rolled her eyes. "Oh, puh-lease. I know you guys go to some nice places sometimes, but Varelli's is like, the fanciest place in town. You're up to something, Giles."
Joyce sighed, and held up her left hand, showing off an emerald-and-diamond ring.
Buffy let out a scream and rushed them, pulling them both into a Slayer-hug that nearly cracked ribs. Rupert let out an "Oof!" while Joyce was barely able to squeak as the air was suddenly driven out of her lungs.
"Oops, sorry," Buffy said, relaxing her grip only slightly. "And congratulations!" She stood up on tip-toe to kiss both her mother and Rupert on the cheek -- to the Watcher's intense embarrassment.
Then she suddenly turned a mock glare on her Watcher. "And hey! How come I couldn't tell you were planning this, with the mind-reading and everything?"
Rupert, who was still red in the face from being kissed, turned even redder. "Well, that is, you see . . . I only just decided to do it this afternoon. I had been planning to wait until after the Council's visit, but . . . " He gave Joyce a fond look and murmured, "After all our talks about love, and how special it is . . . I just decided I couldn't wait any longer."
Buffy looked impressed. "Wow. Stuffy British guy does the impulse thing. I like," she said with a grin.
"Band candy aside, his impulses are pretty good, Buffy," her mother commented.
"Yeah. I know about Cordelia," Buffy said, tapping the side of her head. "And hey, the band candy got you guys together, so I'm thinkin' Giles is batting a thousand here."
"Oh please, you'll swell my head," he protested -- somewhat half-heartedly.
A light came into Buffy's eyes. "Ooo! I gotta tell Wills she won the bet!" she cried.
The happy couple gave the Slayer hard looks. "Bet?" they said, amused and annoyed at the same time.* * *
Oz figured that sound was probably a happy squeal coming from his girlfriend, as opposed to a cry for help. But in Sunnydale, it never hurt to be sure, so he put down the tea he'd been making for the two of them and rushed into the living room.
"Details, details!" Willow was shouting into the phone. "How big was the ring? Where did he do it? When's the big day?"
Oz grinned, and retreated back into the kitchen. Definitely a good thing I insisted on decaf tonight.
He'd had to reheat the mugs in the microwave by the time Willow's babblefest was finished, but it was well worth it to watch her as she danced around the room, singing, "I won the be-et! I won the be-et!"
Finally she exhausted herself to the point where she needed to sit down and have some of her tea, and between sips Oz got the whole story.
Giles had invited Mrs. Summers out to the nicest restaurant in town, proposed, and given her a to-die-for-gorgeous engagement ring. The wedding was tenatively set for June 26th, to give both of them a chance to invite their families and friends.
And yes, Willow had won the bet. She, Oz, and Xander had each put fifteen dollars in the pool, which left Willow a grand total of--
"Forty-five dollars! What can I do with forty-five dollars? I could buy something! I could buy a couple videos! I could buy some music!" Then she glanced over at Oz and smiled. "I could take my boyfriend out to dinner."
Oz pursed his lips and nodded. "All of which sound like very good ideas. The last one seems particularly appealing to me."
"I thought you might like it." Then her expression changed into one of innocent speculation. "Of course, if you made me some popcorn . . . and shared this nice big snuggly blanket with me . . . while we watched a movie . . . you might be able to convince me."
"Regular or extra butter?"
"Oh, extra butter, of course."
"Okay. But I pick the movie. Deal?"
"Deal. As long as it's a comedy -- and not Spinal Tap
. I'm in a good mood; I don't wanna see spontaneously-combusting drummers tonight."* * *
Angel looked up as he heard a familiar footstep. "Buffy? Aren't you supposed to be resting tonight?"
The Slayer gave him a wry grin as she strolled into the mansion. "Couldn't sleep. Too much on my mind."
"Like . . . ?"
"Like my mom and Giles getting engaged."
Angel's eyebrows lifted in surprise. "Wow. Good for them; it's about time Giles asked her."
"Yeah. Too bad a certain someone didn't actually bother to ask
, huh?" She held up the claddagh ring, rolling it between her fingers for emphasis.She took it off
, he thought sadly. He'd tricked her into wearing it in the way that meant "marriage," but still, it was disappointing to see that once she knew what it meant, she'd removed it.
Buffy stared down at the ring, looking thoughtful. "You know, I asked for Willow's help, looking up the symbolism of these things. Once I knew where to look, it was amazing how much stuff we found. I know all the different ways to wear it -- left hand, right hand, point in, point out, whatever. And tonight, seeing my mom and Giles together . . . I made a decision."
Very deliberately, she put the ring on -- heart pointing inward, on her right-hand ring finger.
Angel gulped. "You know what that means?"
"Uh-huh. It means I'm promised to someone. Engaged. And somehow, someday, I plan on moving this ring back to my left hand."
"Buffy . . . "
"Yeah, I know, 'I'm a vampire, you're a Slayer, it can never work, blah blah blah.' Angel, I'm tired of being told what I can and can't have. There are things I'm willing to give up -- things that don't really matter, like cheerleading, or being Homecoming Queen, stuff like that."
She walked up to Angel and laid her hands on his chest. "You
are one of the things I won't give up. If I'm going to spend the rest of my life fighting to save the world, I'm going to do it with the man I love at my side."
"But the curse . . . "
"Watchers' Council, coming to visit us in a couple weeks, remember? English guys in suits, with books on just about anything magic-y? I'll bet if they really tried, they could find a solution to your little curse problem. After all, now they know you're not just the weird vampire who helps the Slayer, you're a warrior with an all-important destiny. Kinda like yours truly, huh?"
She tilted her head to the side a moment, looking up at him quizzically, then said, "Of course, to make this all official, someone here should be on their knees, asking a question."
Angel was down on his knees in a flash. She really has me whipped
, he thought to himself. Then again, he thought, the traditionalist in him would've been deeply embarrassed if Buffy had tried to go down on her knees to propose to him
Well, here he was, down on his knees in front of the girl of his dreams. There was only one thing he could do . . . "Buffy Anne Summers . . . will you marry me?"