Xander hadn’t wanted any of this to happen. He had just wanted a nice wedding, well as nice of a wedding as he could have with all of his horrible family there, as well as Anya’s, well, beings. (Honestly, he’d never even met any of them. Was she so desperate for the perfect human wedding that she needed to make up a pretend extended family so that she could seem like a normal girl?)
But all that he could put up with. Probably. This whole thing with his future self showing him how everything was going to shit if he married Anya? That was too much. He didn’t need that in his life. He didn’t need any of this.
“I'm so sorry. I didn't want to show you,” said the guy claiming to be future him.
“What happened? What was that?” he asked, knowing full well what it was.
“A glimpse of your future. Harnessed ... by magic,” said the old him, in the most no duh moment of the reveal.
“Is she okay?” said Xander, horrified by what he had seen himself do. “Is she okay, what did I do?!”
“Listen. I don't have long here. The spell that brought me back, it won't last. But you can change things. It doesn't have to go like this. But you can't marry Anya.”
“You'll hurt her less today than you will later. Believe me. Sometimes, two people ... all they bring each other ... is pain.”
Xander stares at him, horrified.
“And sometimes--revelare--all it brings is lies.” Giles appeared from behind them, blowing a sort of powder into the old man’s face while he spoke in Latin, and suddenly the old man begins to grow, and morphs into a huge demon with gray skin, yellow eyes, and short yellowish spikes all over his head.
“What the heck is going on? Giles, that guy was me from the future. He had an orb thing that showed me my future, and you just turned him into a demon!” Xander says, still in a panic.
Giles blinks, not as interested in Xander’s panic as he is in the demon. The demon old man growls at both of them. “Whatever your game is, know that I have magicks that exceed whatever weak powers you’ve conjured up. Get out of her before I use them or summon the Slayer, who’s somewhere at this wedding, I’ll have you know.”
The demon considers fighting back, but then flees out the door.
“Well glad that’s over,” said Giles, almost casually. “Time for you to get married, I suppose.”
“What?” Xander asked, looking out the door. “But the things in the crystal...”
“Were an illusion, Xander,” said Giles, putting his hand on Xander’s shoulder. “A trick. If he had been who he said he was, a simple glamour reveal spell wouldn’t have turned him into a demon. Therefore he was lying about something. Therefore, he was undoubtably lying about everything. Just put it out of your mind. You’re good at that.”
Xander starts to vibrate with panic, sweat starting to appear on his face. “But even if it wasn’t true, the things I saw...I can’t live like that. How could I spend my life with someone...who becomes that...how could I become that...why would I want to spend my life with her after seeing that?”
Giles looked for a moment as if he would slap Xander out of a fit, or perhaps slap him for defaming Anya that way, the Ripper/Rupert pull making him unsure of his true motivations. He managed to still his hand, and used his words to slap.
“You don’t know why anyone would want to spend their life with Anya? Are you a bloody idiot? For starters, she’s cleverer than you are. Frankly, she might be cleverer than I am, and it’s always good to have a partner who is more clever than you. Her zest for life? She’s been around a millennium, but she’s not bored. I’m not even up to a half century, and some days I can’t see the point of all of this. But never Anya. Every day she sparkles with delight at the act of living. Her passion for the things she loves...well you can almost taste it, can’t you? And let’s not forget her refreshing lack of bullshit. You’ll never have to wonder why she’s angry with you, since not only does she have the emotional maturity to know why she’s angry in the first place, but she has the wherewithall to not keep it a mystery. You’re young yet, and all your other relationships were in high school, but think back man. I see you get irritated with her for her bluntness, but she gets to the point. It’s beautiful, really. And due to her honesty and oversharing, I gather that, despite being together for a few years now, you have the sex life comparable to a man in the first blush stages of a relationship. Value that. Not to mention how beautiful she is, inside and out, of which I assume you’re aware. Anya is a rare, precious individual, and she wants to marry you, you fool. And right now, I’m the only person who knows that you were thinking of running from that blessed opportunity. Don’t be a bloody idiot.”
Giles had rarely been impressed with Xander’s intelligence in the years he'd known the boy, especially his ability to take in large chunks of information at one go, but he seemed to have heard him.
“You’re right, G-Man,” Xander said, slapping him on the shoulder in an attempt to demonstrate male friendship. He was back to himself. “I’m a lucky guy. I’m just...cold feet and all. I should have taken notes on what you said about her. That was better than my vows I wrote. You sure you don’t want to take my place?” Xander laughed, and didn’t notice Giles forcing a lump down his throat. “I’m gonna get up there and wait for my bride to walk down the aisle. My wife. Right. Cool. Yes, this is going to be a good thing. Thanks, Giles. You’re a real friend.”
Xander smiled at him, and went to the room the ceremony was about to take place. Giles closed his eyes at let out a sigh. What in the bloody hell was wrong with him? How did Xander not realize his secret after hearing what amounted to his confession of love? Well, if his goal was to protect Anya from hurt, at least he had succeeded at that, and Xander’s innocence played a big role in that. He turned around to find a toilet, so he could look himself in the eye and get ready to face the battle he never wanted to fight.
And found Anya, in her wedding dress, the dress itself being a bit nontraditional for his tastes, but her looking radiant in it. Well, radiant other than the furrow in her brow as she looked at him. How long had she been standing there?
He only had a moment to reflect on this before she grabbed him by the arm and pushed him into said toilet that he had been looking for. She closed the door behind them.
“Did you mean all those things you said about me?” hissed Anya, letting him know how long she’d been listening and striking him a bit dumb.
So he changed the subject. “I think you’re due to, um, walk down the aisle, aren’t you. Are you escorting yourself?”
“I’m my own woman,” she said, in an unfamiliar monotone. “No one’s giving me away because no one owns me. Did you mean those things you said, or were you just trying to convince Xander to not run from our wedding?”
Giles removed his glasses and started cleaning them. “Well, I, well you see...”
She put his hand on his and takes his glasses from her, removing the desired distraction.
“Your glasses are clean enough, Giles. That...what you said about me...I’ve never felt so appreciated in my entire life, and as you said, I’ve been alive for a long damn time.”
“It wasn’t appropriate,” Giles mumbled, still not looking her in the eyes. “Anya, I tried to not be here. I meant to not come. I knew I couldn’t behave appropriately if I did.” He reached up to adjust his glasses only to find nothing there. “Anya, please give me my glasses back.”
Anya paused for a moment, considering keeping them until she obtained an answer to her question, but eventually decided to try a different tactic. She lifted the glasses to his face, and slid them over his nose and onto the sides of his face, letting her hands linger a little too long. She felt his breath quicken at her touch. “Did you mean what you said?” she asked yet again.
This time he didn’t avoid her eyes. “Every damn word, and so much more that even I don’t have the words for. I shouldn’t have come.”
“If you hadn’t come, Xander would have abandoned me at the altar.”
Giles lets out a mirthless bark. “Well aren’t I the idiot, then. Anya, the wedding must start. They’re probably wondering where you are.”
“What?” And despite how she had touched his face earlier, this was the first moment he let himself hope. Earlier she had just wanted answers, and was willing to use her hold over him to get those answers. But a casual disregard for the wedding she had obviously worked so hard to plan, that meant something.
“Xander would have run if you hadn’t told him all the things worth loving about me. And he probably thinks that he’d just forgotten, because of cold feet or whatever, but he didn’t know those things about me, did he? I mean, I’m not sure I knew that any of those things about me were worthy of loving.”
“We can’t know what Xander’s feelings were in that moment. And whyever would you think your beautiful traits aren’t worthy of love?”
“Well probably because Xander’s always letting me know that I’m too exuberant and too honest and too...much.”
“Oh? Don’t give me ‘oh’ Giles!” Anya crosses her arms and gets a little too close to him. “You know very well how he...in fact, I’ve seen you flinch when he does it.”
“But you never do.”
“I guess I always figured that he was right.”
“And I always knew that he was wrong.”
“You couldn’t have had this conversation with me before today?” Anya said, letting out a small burst of hysterical laughter.
“I don’t mean to be having it now. In fact, I’m a right bastard to be doing so. But I seem to be on some sort of railroad train and unable to get off. I’m one step away from being the man in the back of the room yelling that he has an objection. Though I’m aware that that’s not really part of a ceremony...”
“Oh, no, that’s in our script.”
“I wanted the ceremony to be as much like a movie as it could be. Just really human.”
“Do you want to walk down the aisle, and we can finish this conversation after I yell that I object?” Giles smirked at her, not serious in his suggestion.
“No. But I’m going to need a little more information before I decide what happens next.”
“What’s that?” Giles asked, and he felt the strange urge to call her darling, like the sentence he had uttered was missing an important part of it, but he swallowed the endearment.
“Kiss me,” she said, looking up into his eyes.
“I shouldn’t,” he murmured, his lips barely moving at all.
Anya grinned up at him hopefully. “You’re supposed to kiss the bride on her wedding day. For luck, or something. Kiss me.”
“I don’t think that’s the sort of kiss tradition had in mind.”
“And I don’t care,” Anya said, her officious bossiness coming out. “I need to know the answer to a question, and the answer is on your lips. I’m the bride: do what I say!”
Later Giles could blame Ripper for what he did next. He could pretend that it was his alter-ego coming out and driving the sense from his head, as sometimes happened when given a chance to touch a beautiful being. But it was Rupert who was in control when he pushed another man’s bride up against the toilet door, having no desire for someone to walk in on this, and captured her lips in his. He let his lips say all the things he didn’t dare say. Or rather, all the things he had said about her in his rant to Xander, and more. He wasn’t trying to get in the way of her marrying that bleeding idiot man-child, a boy who didn’t even have the sense to see what was right in front of his face, but if she insisted on a kiss, he wasn’t going to let his lips lie to her. Frankly, he wasn’t sure he knew how. He felt her fingers run through his hair as she slid her tongue slightly into his mouth, exploring. While their last kiss, when they’d been enspelled, had been frantic, this was languid. It was a kiss that felt like sex, not the mad rush to join bodies, but the swell of the waves that two perfectly synced bodies create as they thrust and ride each other to orgasm. She kissed like she had all day to explore him, and was planning on taking all day to do so. And then just as suddenly, she bent her chin down and away from his lips, bowing her head almost shyly.
“Did you get your answer?” he asked, trying to push the smile off his own face.
Anya spoke as if she had just realized what was obvious to him. “I should not be marrying Xander. Oh my gods, Giles.”
“You should probably call me Rupert after what we just did.”
“Oh my gods, Rupert. He’s never...I’ve never...is that what kissing is supposed to feel like?”
And it had been a lovely kiss, but Giles was sure he could do better if given the time and a less stressful situation, so it boggled his mind that the kiss they had just shared was this revelatory for her, not in terms of partner, since he was selfishly hoping that kissing him would alter her emotions, but in kisses.
He put his hand on her face, rubbing her jawbone gently on one side. “I’m pretty sure I could do better if allowed to practice...”
“There’s better than that?” Anya looked at him with panic in her face, which was not the reaction he was going for with his gentle seduction. Well she always was his favorite curve ball. “I think I’ve been doing everything all wrong!” she exclaimed, looking down at her wedding dress. “Penis!”
“Anya, you don’t have to get married if you don’t want to...”
“How could I get married now, when it turns out that I don’t even know what kisses are supposed to feel like? Wait, how good is sex?”
“Christ would I like to show you...” Giles murmured, pulling her face towards his. “Imagine what my lips could feel like on other sensitive parts of your body...” She had just begun to kiss him back when there was a knock at the door.
“Anya? Are you in there?” It sounded like Willow.
“Are you ready to walk down the aisle?” This sounded like Tara.
Anya looked at Giles and mouthed ‘I’m not here.’
Giles cleared his throat. “No Anya here. Haven’t seen her, in, in, a little while. Only myself in here. In this toilet. Bathroom. All alone. Out in a second.”
Anya slid behind the shower curtain. Giles flushed the toilet and washed his hands, stalling for time as well as making it seem plausible that he was in the toilet for a normal reason. He might have done well to look at his face in the mirror, since his lips were covered in a smear of Anya’s lipstick, but no one is perfect in a crisis.
He came out, and found himself confronted by Tara and Willow. “So, uh, Anya’s missing is she? Strange, that. Well, must go look for her, I guess.” And he disappeared slightly more quickly than felt natural. Or maybe slower than felt natural. What does natural feel like again?
Tara and Willow gave each other odd looks, Willow pointing at her lips to ask Tara if he had seen the obvious kiss evidence of a kiss on the old man’s lips. Tara nodded, but then shrugged. But they could tell he’d been kissing someone.
“Ouch!” they heard exclaimed from the bathroom, and Willow looked at Tara wondering what was happening, and Tara gave a shrug, raising her eyebrows.
“Penis,” said the mystery woman, knowing she was caught, and both of their eyes went wide as they realized who had been in the bathroom rubbing her lipstick on Giles’s face. “Could one of you get Xander? I think I need to talk to him.”