The Day That Almost Wasn't
Xander stood outside in his wedding finery including one expensive Italian suit with the cold, bitter rain sluicing down his body in torrents. He was some distance from the church where in precisely five minutes his wife to be would be walking to the altar only to find her mate missing. Xander felt lower than the waste excretions of the scum that grew on shit, but he couldn't seem to stop himself from making what he knew in his heart to be a huge mistake. The visions he'd gotten from the older him where just too convincing because in his mind Xander had always had trouble making this step. More so than his friends Xander found growing up hard. Sure his part in the ultimate battle against evil forced him to grow some and finally finding his niche in life, his calling, also helped and not to mention his entire relationship with Anya. Being with her taught him so much about compassion and acceptance and without a doubt she makes him a better man. So why was he hesitating? Why was he retreating from this ultimate final step into adulthood?
In a word Xander was afraid. Afraid of what he'd grow into. He was deeply scarred by his upbringing in a way he didn't fully understand until just now. Without the timely intervention of Buffy and the nightly fight against evil in his life he would have never made the leap that allowed him to become more than his parents. Just as Willow might have never outgrown her incapacitating shyness he'd have still been on the path to future drunkard and bitter wife beater and it might have been Willow who bore his wrath were things different.
He lacked the faith in himself to believe that he was more than that now. The visions got to him so bad because they were in his head even before he asked Anya to marry him. What he needed now was his best-est best friend, his best woman, to remind him that he had evolved and to give him the kick in the pants that he couldn't give himself right now. Buffy was never as close to him as Will had been even before the division between them with Willow's death. There was simply too much between him and the blonde Slayer including all the unresolved romantic tension. And though any thoughts of being with Buffy were far, far in the past he still had a greater connection to Willow because of that, and because of how long they'd been part of each other's lives. He could just imagine what she'd say if she were here with him now...
You idiot,. she'd begin not willing to pull punches in this case in fact there might even be some rarely used profanity in her speech. You are about to walk away from the best thing that has ever happened to you and you'll regret this for the rest of your life. Whatever is going through your head now will not compare to what you'll be thinking and feeling if you break that woman's heart. Despite the fact that Anya and I have had our share of issues over the past few years she has proven herself to me. When it came to you I was afraid she'd break you into pieces and leave you devastated, that she'd take you from me, my oldest friend, and then just drop you. But I was wrong. She loves you Xander with all that she is and that is evident to everyone each time she looks at you. You are no longer Alexander Harris the boy from a broken home doomed to repeat the cycle his parents fell into. You are a man I am proud and grateful to call my friend. Don't let your fears beat you, you are stronger than that.
Xander stood a moment longer under the dreary grey sky and heavy rain before turning on his heel and sprinting back toward his future, all the while praying he wouldn't be too late.
Anya stood at the ruined altar in her ripped dress dispassionately observing the scene that was left in the wake of the fight between her relatives and maybe in laws. The place was a mess and even if Xander was to miraculously show and say he was merely held up, it didn't seem as if any wedding could take place in this disaster zone. It was at the moment when she was considering just walking away and cursing all men for eternity that her groom appeared in the doorway. Xander leaned against the door out of breath and clutching a stitch in his side before hobbling down the aisle looking mostly drowned in a suit which they were obviously not getting a deposit back for.
When he reached her he was still breathing heavily but made himself understood as he explained that he had been held up by demons and he was so ready to do this. Suddenly the destroyed hall, disheveled guests and drowned appearance of her lover meant nothing. Like a switch being flipped her despair became overwhelming joy and she couldn't imagine getting married anywhere else or waiting even one more second to become Mrs. Alexander Harris. Were it not for Buffy begging for ten minutes to make things just a bit more presentable for the big day, Anya would have said to hell with everything and demanded that the priest do his thing right then!
As it was it took nearly fifteen minutes to restore some order with all the guests pitching in though the all grumbled under their breaths and drunk Uncle Rory and Mr. and Mrs. Harris were more of a hindrance than any kind of help. But eventually everything was ready and even her dress had been repaired with a little magic from Tara. The bodies were covered with sheets and flowers and the guests had straightened themselves up some save Uncle Rory who was passed out in the far corner.
Anya walked once more down the aisle her steps light and her heart ready to burst as she met up with her best friend with whom she was prepared to spend the rest of her life.
Dawn stood before the door to the inner sanctum a vision of innocence, youth, and purity in her snow white gown, which was simply made with no adornments at all, and her cheeks flushed pink with nervousness. Dawn felt as if she were wearing a night gown, which was basically what the dress was, and she had not been allowed any make up or jewelry at all not even a tie for her hair. So her hair, freshly brushed until it gleamed, fell down her back in waves. She carried no flowers or anything, her role was to die at Xander's hand after he defiled her to cement the success of his marriage to Anya in terms of longevity and fertility. Her only thought at this moment was why is it always me and I'll never get any stains out of this dress.
When she first heard of this ritual that Anya wished to include alongside the vows she was just confused. What did a ritualistic rape and murder have to do with a successful marriage? What demon culture used this in their joinings? And would this ritual even work for Xander and Anya, one of whom was human and the other a former demon? But Anya was insistent that it be included and as she made so many other compromises for the ceremony already Xander eventually agreed so long as they made a few tweaks to the whole rape and murder part, which Xander felt squeamish about doing. And Dawn never did get her questions answered.
And so Dawn was drafted as "flower maiden" because she had wished to be in the wedding but was dismissed by Anya as too young for bridesmaid. At first Dawn agreed to the position without knowing anything about it simply because Buffy was against it, and she and Buffy were not getting along so well at that time. When she finally did find out what it was all about it was too late to refuse to do it and so she was stuck. Which is why she was here now. Anya had passed her five minutes ago on her way to join a wet and bedraggled looking Xander at the altar so in about eight more minutes she would be called upon to do her part.
On schedule the door opened and two handsome boys in dark tuxes escorted her down the aisle to the altar where Xander and Anya stood before a demonic priest (oxymoron right, but he was an obvious demon and wore priestly vestments). Upon reaching the altar both boys dropped back and returned to their seats while Dawn dropped to her knees before Xander and bowed her head. Xander looking nervous and somewhat conflicted though more excited than anything brought his hand to Dawn's chin and lifted her head so that she looked at him. He then took an offered wreath of pure white roses and baby's breath from the priest and gently placed it upon Dawn's head. The kneeling teenager was then offered his hand and helped to stand, before Xander placed a chaste kiss upon her lips. Blushing Dawn glanced quickly at Anya who was had a smile five miles long as she passed Xander a bottle of a dark red and full bodied, as well as super expensive California wine.
After fiddling with the cork and corkscrew for a few long moments Xander eventually got the bottle open before pouring into a single gold rimmed glass chalice. The rest of the wine he poured over Dawn's head staining both her flowers and dress leaving the teen to resemble a red drowned rat. Dawn then let herself dramatically fall as if dying from blood loss while Xander and Anya entwined their arms and shared the chalice of her "blood". Dawn remained lying on the floor while the priest chanted then led Xander and Anya to jointly light a candle from two already lit ones sealing their union. Everyone stood and clapped as they were pronounced husband and wife and kissed for an obscenely long time before stepping over Dawn on their way out to the photographer's set up outside the church both smiling and glowing all the way.
Buffy came and lifted the "dead" teen in her arms before she and Tara followed the bride and groom commenting along the way about a waste of a good bottle of wine.