"It started with a girl..."
Joined: 28 Nov 2003
|Posted: Fri Jul 30, 2004 4:09 am Post subject: Even to the Edge of Doom ch4(box of crayons)
|EVEN TO THE EDGE OF DOOM
Box of Crayons Story - Color Sunglow
By D. M. Evans
Disclaimer - Sing it with me. Joss owns them. I don’t (well Ailsa is mine and the Savages but they earn me no cash either)
Spoilers - AR Post Chosen/ Post Home story
Rating - PG-13
Feedback - that would be nice connorswhip@Yahoo.com
Summary - Pregnant, Dawn and Connor make some life altering decisions
Author’s Note - This is a Box of Crayons series story and is the sequel to Walk a Mile in Sorrow which can be found here http://www.geekgirlz-r.us/dana/crayons/walkamile.html If for some reason you don’t care to read that or need a refresher here goes: To avert another apocolypse Willow cast a spell that reversed a lot of magic world wide including Connor’s mind wipe. Dawn was sent to L.A. to finish high school and starts dating Connor. Almost ALL of S5 of Angel never ever happened. Spike is back. Cordelia comes out of her coma, Lindsey and Wes do not die. Illyria does die. Connor and Dawn find themselves in a wee bit of trouble thanks to some failed birth control pills.
And I'd give up forever to touch you
'Cause I know that you feel me somehow
You're the closest to heaven that I'll ever be
And I don't wanna go home right now
Goo Goo Dolls-Iris
“You look so sad.” Connor wrapped his arms around Dawn, his hand flat on her swelling belly.
“I guess I am.” Dawn dropped her head, her hair curtaining her face.
He kissed her shoulder. “I’m sorry.”
“It’s not your fault.”
“I did this.” He moved his hand over her belly.
Dawn twisted in his arms, smiling at him. “I was there, you know.”
Connor laughed. “I do recall.”
Dawn sighed. “Look at us.” She gestured at the small but warmly furnished room. “We’re shacked up in Giles’ spare bedroom. My sister is so mad at me, she barely speaks to me.”
“At least she doesn’t want you dead.” He rested his forehead on her shoulder. “I thought you were going to find my carcass covered with Angel and Spike’s dust.”
“Like it was their fault they didn’t watch me twenty-four seven.” Dawn snorted, stiffening at the memory of Buffy throwing a major league fit when she learned her baby sister was pregnant. “It’s just...I’m seventeen Connor. What are you? Nineteen?”
He slid out from behind her and went to open the blue and green plaid curtains. “Cordy said I was eighteen, and, since that was a year ago, I guess maybe I am. I don’t know when I was born and I’m technically two years old or something I’m not sure how Cordy came up with eighteen.”
“I know. And I’m like four or five. My point is.” Dawn levered herself out of bed. Connor was right there at her side, helping her. He was always there for her and she appreciated it, even if he overdid it. She wasn’t helpless but, on the other hand, it felt good to have someone care so much for her. “We’re too young to be parents.”
“I’ve already been a parent...I liked it but...” He looked away, fussing with the ragged edge of his hair. Dawn suspected he had cut it himself.
Dawn wanted to kick herself. What was she thinking bringing that up? She wrapped her hands around him. ‘I’m sorry, baby. I shouldn’t have brought up Jasmine.”
“It’s okay. I can’t pretend it didn’t happen.” Connor turned in her arms. His blue eyes were far too somber. “And our baby is nothing like Jasmine. The doctors say everything is normal.”
“As normal as anything parented by a half demon and a ball of energy could hope to be.” She smiled. “I just never thought...my life was going to be so different. College, being a Watcher, you know. Being a mom was never in the plans.”
“You can still be all those things. Giles’ parents were Watchers. I’m not going anywhere. I’ll be here to help you.” Connor had that frightened earnest look in his eyes again, the look he had when she had first mentioned abortion. He wanted the child, no matter what it might be; having a family meant that much. He never told her not to have an abortion but she could see his pain at the idea. She saw it now.
She cupped his smooth face. “Connor, I know you will be, it’s just...”
“I don’t have a job.” He sagged on the bed. “‘Cause I don’t know anything. Why would you want me around? Maybe I should do it, do what Dad wanted. If Wolfram and Hart could shove being a lawyer into Gunn’ head, maybe I should let them do the same to me.” His blue eyes brightened.
“I want you, Connor, job or not.” Dawn hated just leaving him with that thought but she couldn’t hold it any more. She trundled into the bathroom shutting the door so she could pee. “You’d want to be a lawyer?” She called through the door. She wasn’t sure how she felt about him having that job. It just didn’t seem like him and she’d hate for him to be miserable in a job.
“Well, no. I’d probably like being a cop better. But there’s other things they could teach me. I’ll do it. I didn’t want to before but that was because I was angry with Angel for messing with my mind. I’m not angry any more. I know he was trying to protect me. I’ll do it for us.”
She knew he would, and that was oddly painful. He’d give up everything for her and the baby. He’d set aside his fear of magic to better himself for them. Such devotion terrified her and Dawn knew why. She wasn’t used to it. No one in her life had a good relationship, no one was terribly devoted. Giles never dated, not since Jenny died, so she couldn’t say if he’d be devoted. Olivia didn’t count. Dawn knew exactly what kind of friend Olivia was. Dawn’s father sure wasn’t devoted. Buffy couldn’t make a relationship work. Xander left Anya at the altar. Kennedy and Willow were always fighting. She had very bad examples of devotion in her life but, when she looked at her lover, she saw the depths of his emotions, the power of them. It was overwhelming.
She went back into the bedroom, her business taken care of, for the time being, since being fourth months pregnant she always had to pee and knew it would only get worse. Connor had dressed in the interim. “Connor, I don’t want you to do anything radical.”
“I just don’t want to be like Xander and Andrew...not that there’s anything wrong with them but look at what they’re limited to job-wise. I know it scares Xander sometimes,” Connor said, looking concerned. Dawn knew the two men didn’t really get along well. Xander was very angry about Dawn’s condition. “I don’t want to live like that. I could be a Special Ops Watcher. Giles has already talked to me about it. They get to beat demons up so it’s good for me.” Connor was practically bouncing with excitement. “but I’ll still need a cover job. It’ll be expensive having a baby. I looked at the price of diapers. It was scary.”
Dawn sagged against the door to the walk-in closet. She had looked, too. Twenty dollars for a sack of something the baby was just going to crap in was stunning. “I know. I’m very scared.”
“I’ll call Dad and make arrangements.” Connor’s enthusiasm flagged. “I guess I should decide what I’m interested in.”
“Well, what were you in college for before this all happened?” she asked, while trying to decide what to wear. She was desperate to not have to buy maternity clothing, at least not yet but everything was getting tight.
“Business but that’s so damn boring. I wanted to switch even before my memory came back. I was pretty much majoring in keggers.” He smiled at her.
She wagged a finger at him. “Well, that’s over with, buddy.”
His grin went positively wicked. “I liked my writing classes. I used to write short stories, horror, based on my dreams.” His pale face darkened. “Only it wasn’t dreams. It was Quor-Toth but writing isn’t a good career. You have to be so lucky. Maybe I should just tend bar.”
“Wolfram and Hart could probably get you on the best seller list like that,” Dawn snapped her finger, “If you think you could still tell Quor-Toth stories. It could be a fantasy series like Lord of the Rings or something. You could tell stories about vampire slaying and be the next Anne Rice...Stephen King. I meant Stephen King.” Dawn said hurriedly, seeing his scowl.
“I’ll talk to Dad about it. I could tell those stories a lot...but I’m not sure I can write any more.” Connor scowled. “I lost a lot of my skills when Willow’s spell broke the one that rewrote my life for me.”
“You don’t have to do it tomorrow, Connor.” Dawn went over and kissed the crown of his head. “I’m going to have to go to the damn maternity shop. This sucks.”
“Want me to go with you?”
“No sense in both of us suffering. I’ll go with Ailsa.” Dawn was very grateful to have met Ailsa, a young Canadian-born Slayer. Her mom was a Watcher and friends with Giles. The twenty-year old Slayer was now with Giles as he rebuilt the Watchers in England since she decided promptly he was less severe a Watcher than her mom. Dawn shuddered to think. Ailsa was exuberant and bright, like a lusty cross between Faith and Willow. Dawn only hoped Connor didn’t notice because everyone had mentioned that Connor had a thing for Faith when he met her originally and liked the power of the Slayers. Still, his eye had yet to wander.
“Want me to start breakfast?”
“Belgian waffles,” she ordered. “Lots of fruit and whipped cream.”
“Only if they’re frozen. Giles yelled the last time I tried to use his waffle maker.” Connor shuddered.
“That’s because you were doing in really wrong. And maple syrup, the real stuff, not the fake stuff.”
“Yes, your highness. Anything else you might like?” He smirked at her.
“Talk to your child about it.” Dawn poked her belly. “I never eat like this.”
His arms went around her, pulling her to him. “Are you making your mommy nuts?” He kissed her belly and she stroked his shoulders. No one should be this tender.
Dawn sat back on the bed with him. “I just wish...I’m glad Mom isn’t here to be disappointed in me, too.”
“She wouldn’t be disappointed.” He pushed her hair out of her face. “Buffy’s not disappointed either, not really. Maybe a little for the same reasons you are but she loves you and that’s the important thing.”
“Mom would have been disappointed I’m not married. I know you’re not from here and you might not know how people feel about unmarried moms. I mean it’s a lot better than it used to be but still they look at you funny and they talk...” Dawn wiped at her eyes.
“Dawn, my father never failed to point out I was the bastard son of two vampires,” Connor said without rancor. “I know exactly how people feel about it. But no one said we couldn’t get married.”
Dawn took his hands. “Connor, we don’t want trapped in a marriage just because I’m pregnant. We’ve only been together a short time. I don’t think...” she trailed off, watching his face all but melt. She could feel pain radiating from him.
“You think I don’t love you,” he whimpered.
“I...I never even thought about it.” How horrible was she? She cared about him sure but the relationship had been what it usually was for most teenagers, hot and physical without much thought for anything else.
“I would want to be with you even if you weren’t pregnant,” he assured her.
Dawn put a hand over her mouth, trying to hold in a sob. “Connor...I don’t...”
“You don’t want to be with me?” His big eyes were misty.
“I do. But no one is going to let us get married.” She brushed her lips to his. “They’ll say we’re too young and not just Buffy. All of them.”
He shrugged. “So, we don’t tell them.”
Dawn looked at him like he was crazy. “We can’t do that?”
“Connor, I know you’re used to doing exactly the opposite of whatever Angel wants but I’m not.” Liar, she thought. She had purposely done lots of stuff to irritate Buffy. “We’re too young. I’m not sure we can get married without our parents permission.”
“I’m old enough. And Giles is your guardian ad litem, isn’t that what Gunn called it? I think here in England you are old enough,” Connor argued. “Dawn, this is our lives, our decision.” He brushed his hand over her belly, touching his forehead to hers. “Our baby. If we want to get married, it should be our choice.”
“I...I’d like that. I didn’t think you’d...” she trailed off. Of course, he’d be there. Where would he go? To another country like her dad, the little voice in her head said. “But we should tell Giles. He’ll keep the secret and he’d probably help us. Besides, I think we need two people to witness it. We can’t just drag bums off the street.”
“I’ll talk to him but only if you’re sure. If you’re not, Dawn, that’s okay, too. I want you to do what you think is best for you.” He kissed her. “I love you and I want to be with you, but if you aren’t ready, I’ll wait for you. I promise.”
She kissed his hard, tasting her own tears as they canted down her cheeks. “You are such a special man,” she whispered. “Talk to Giles.”
Last edited by D.M. on Wed Aug 11, 2004 2:03 pm; edited 3 times in total
|S J Smith
Joined: 10 Sep 2003
Location: Scariest Place in Florida
|Posted: Sat Jul 31, 2004 3:58 am Post subject:
|Don't do it, Connor! Don't do it!
Really sad opening; I'm sorry that Dawn's so estranged from her 'family' except for Giles.
"I know it gives the enemy a handhold, but somehow I feel better going to a big battle with pretty hair. " --Buffy, in Kristi's "Fallen Angels"
Icon By Mzz Goddess Blue
Joined: 28 Nov 2003
|Posted: Sun Aug 01, 2004 3:59 am Post subject:
Connor was busy taking down Ailsa when Dawn came into the exercise room She heard the walnut tressed Slayer grunting under him, saw the fury in her blue eyes. Dawn knew her friend didn’t like it when she lost to Connor. Dawn stopped at Giles’ side as he watched them tussling. Giles’ eyes were tracking the movements of his Slayer, his body tense even though he knew Connor wasn’t a threat. Of course, if he had been a vampire, Ailsa would likely be dead just now.
Ailsa reached back and grabbed Connor between the legs. He howled, rolling off of her. She scrambled away. Dawn wrinkled her nose. “I wish she wouldn’t do that.”
Giles’ eyes canted towards her, his lips perking up into a smile. “Your sister would say Ailsa did that a little too late.”
“Or would be mad she didn’t get to be the one to do it.” Dawn watched Connor take Ailsa back down with a scissor leg sweep. “Still, I wish she wouldn’t. I like that part of him.” Realizing what she just said, Dawn turned beet red. “Did I say that out loud?”
“I’m afraid so dear.” Giles looked highly amused, and for that, Dawn was relieved.
“Um, Giles, did Connor talk to you?” She tried not to look at Giles as she asked but her eyes had nowhere else to go. It wasn’t easy to watch Connor getting slammed into a wall by her new friend. Still, she liked watched Connor work out. He was so incredibly sexy, and even though Dawn knew it was the hormones talking, she wanted to drag him off, throw him down and have her way with him.
Giles nodded and tapped her hand. He inclined his head toward the back door and she followed him out into the garden. She liked that part of the house. All the walkways were trimmed with herbs, some for cooking, others for magic while the rest was a riot of color. The only flowers she actually knew by name were roses and the purple balls of ornamental onions and the puffy hydrangeas but she liked to think the garden was one of the reasons Giles bought the house. It was a peaceful place to be. He went to the patio table that had been set up in the shade of the rowan and small-leaved lime trees that lined the fence wall.
“Connor did talk to you.” She felt instantly nervous now that it was out there, the fact she wanted to get married. She saw the tightness in Giles’ face and knew he was uncomfortable, too.
He took off his glasses and cleaned them in that familiar way of his. What had Buffy said about it? It was his way of not seeing the things they were doing, the things he didn’t really want to see. “Connor and I had a long talk.” He slid the glasses back on. “He’s a somber young man.”
“I know. He’s got his reasons,” she said defensively. She had heard enough crap from Buffy about Connor about how moody he could be. Connor wasn’t moody with her, at least not much, no more than Angel had been with Buffy. Connor was a lot like his dad. She just had to remember not to say that in his hearing or he would get all sulky, just like Angel.
Giles held up a hand. Dawn had never realized before how rough it was, how it was beginning to wrinkle, the joints getting a little knobby. Giles wasn’t allowed to get old on her. She had lost too many people already. “That wasn’t a criticism, Dawn. If I understood him correctly, you want my help to get married in secret.”
She bobbed her head, not quite able to find her voice. Here came the ‘no,’ she just knew it.
“Are you sure this is what you want?” He rested that rough hand on hers.
Dawn slung her hair back with her free hand, listening to a squirrel chatter in the limes above her. “It is. I know that everyone would try to talk me out of it.”
“Connor shared that fear.” Giles squeezed her hand. “I’m not sure it’s the right thing either.”
“Giles, it’s what I want and I don’t want to have to fight everyone to get it.” Dawn tried not to cry. His fingers caressed her cheek. “I don’t want to make myself sick worrying about this. I want to be married. Maybe it’s old fashioned but I want my baby to have a traditional family. I know Buffy will tell me I’m too young. Xander’s already pulled the big brother routine on me, trying to tell me what to do. Later, after they get used to the idea of Connor and I raising this baby, then we can tell them.”
“I don’t want you to be under any more stress than you are.” Giles sat back, looking out over his garden. “And I don’t think it’s terribly old-fashioned either.”
“Then you’ll help us?” Dawn tried not to sound too eager but it felt like someone had lifted a house off her shoulders.
Giles smiled. “I’ll help.”
She leaned over the table and kissed his lined cheek. “Thank you so much, Giles but you can’t tell any of them, please. Promise me.”
His blue eyes clouded. Dawn knew he didn’t like that request. “I think you’re not giving Buffy enough credit. You don’t have to keep this a secret.”
“I know my sister,” Dawn argued. “Please Giles, promise me, you’ll never tell anyone unless I or Connor tell you it’s okay.”
His lips pinched. “Against my better judgement, I promise.”
Dawn kept from drumming her feet. “Thank you. We weren’t sure what to do. I mean, I’m not old enough to get married without permission but you’re my guardian and I’m not even sure if American citizens can get married here. And what about Connor? I guess Wolfram and Hart forged him paperwork so he could get the passport to come to England but I don’t know anything about it.”
His smile returned, reflecting in his eyes. “I’ll handle that aspect of it, Dawn. I’ll get everything ready for the registry office.”
Dawn sucked on her bottom lip, wondering if she were going crazy but suddenly the idea of a shoddy ten minute ceremony in some dinghy office wasn’t the wedding she wanted. “Giles, is that like going to the justice of the peace? I mean, isn’t there something better?”
A hint of humor flickered in his eyes. “You don’t want anyone to know about the wedding but you want a ceremony, too?”
She blushed. “I just don’t want to feel cheap.” She couldn’t look at him. “I feel cheap enough as it is, getting married because I have to.”
Giles pushed away from the table, getting up. He put his hand on her shoulder. Dawn recognized the parental love in his eyes as he looked at her. She got up, throwing her arms around him, pressing her cheek against the soft cotton of his shirt. The last months had brought her closer to him as a father figure than ever before, even after Buffy had died. Then he had been in too much shock, planning his retreat to England. Willow and Tara had taken over the parental roles. But Tara was gone and Willow was somewhere with Kennedy, having no real interest in being mommy again. Dawn had gone to Giles with all her fears and worries to the point he moved her and Connor to his home in St. John’s Wood. He was the buffer between her and her sister on the rare times Buffy returned to England to roost.
He rubbed her back. “You are not cheap, Dawn. You’re just a young lady who’s found herself in a bad situation and you’re trying to make the best of it.”
“Thanks,” she mumbled into his chest.
“And I think I can help you. The Watchers Council does have a few religious men among the surviving members. There’s a reverend with the COE here in London and I’m friends with a Catholic priest in Ireland. I’m sure either of them would be willing to perform a ceremony on short notice if I asked them to.”
Dawn stepped out of his embrace, wiping her eyes. “Really?”
She slumped back down at the table and Giles sat as well. “We were never really religious. I wouldn’t know one priest from the other.” Really she was rather afraid of them, given monks had tried to kill her after creating her. “I’m not sure about Connor.”
“I believe Holtz gave him a good grounding in the Bible. Catholic would probably appeal to him more,” Giles said after a moment’s thought.
Dawn scowled. “Would a Catholic marry us? I mean, I’m not Catholic and I’m pregnant.”
“Father Savage won’t care about that. You’ll like him. He’s quite a character,” Giles said. “I’m assuming you’d like me to call him now.”
“Now would be good. Willow and Kennedy are out on a mission. Faith’s with Xander, Andrew, Spike and Angel back in L.A. and Buffy’s...where is Buffy anyhow?”
“Tombstone, Arizona.” Giles smiled. “There’s an ugly something rearing its head in the Bird Cage theatre and scaring the tourists.”
Dawn nodded. “There’s no one here. It’s the perfect time for this if I want to keep it secret.”
“You’ll need another witness. I can be one of the two,” Giles said.
Dawn thought for a moment. “I can ask Ailsa. We’ve become pretty close.”
Giles patted her hand. “Why don’t we go in and make sure Ailsa has left something of Connor for you to marry and I’ll give Savage a call. You can talk it over with Connor where you’d like the wedding to take place.”
Dawn got up and kissed his cheek again. “Giles, I know we never say it enough to you but thank you.”
He beamed at her as proud as any father. “You’re more than welcome, dear.”
Joined: 28 Nov 2003
|Posted: Thu Aug 05, 2004 8:41 pm Post subject:
“I don’t understand,” Connor said, following Giles into the jewelry shop.
“The rings symbolize the marriage,” Giles said, casting a critical eye back at Connor. He had insisted the young man dress up a bit for the ring buying expedition. He didn’t want to be getting fish-eyes from the sales clerks. Connor still looked a little disheveled in spite of his best attempts.
Connor ran a hand through his hair, messing it up more. “I know that part. I don’t have the money to buy a ring, so I don’t understand why you brought me here.”
Giles put a hand on Connor’s shoulder, steering him away from the display cases. “Connor, I don’t want you to worry about that. You and Dawn are serious about this marriage and I am not about to let you embark on this without the rings. They mean a lot to Dawn so they are going to be my wedding gift to you.”
Connor blinked at him as if not understanding him at all. The young man glanced away, shaking his head. “Why? I know what my father did to you. Dawn told me. Why would you want to help me more than you’ve already had?”
Giles pushed his glasses up, thinking on an answer that Connor would accept. He had seen the fierce pride in those blue eyes before, the near arrogance. Connor prided himself on being self-sufficient, able to deal with whatever was thrown his way. Giles had no doubt that self-confidence put Connor in good stead in Quor-Toth but he also knew the boy was in over his head in this world. Yes, Wolfram and Hart had faked an identity for him but his future was murky. Giles found himself looking forward to helping. He had made a lot of mistakes with Buffy and her friends but he felt they were the better for knowing him. He hoped to do even better by Dawn and Connor. “Connor, Dawn is the closet thing I will ever have to a daughter. She and Buffy, Willow and Xander are my only family. Through Dawn, you are part of my family, too, and it’s my honor to do this for you.”
Giles saw those big blue eyes misting over. Connor swallowed hard. “But...”
“But nothing. You are not to blame for anything Angel did to me. It was years before you were even born. In how he deals with you, I see the man Angel could have been were he still mortal and it’s not a bad thing. I’m not sure I’ve ever truly forgiven him, and certainly have not forgotten what he did but we’ve worked past that, again a handful of years back.”
Connor nibbled his bottom lip, considering this. “Thank you. I’ll pay you back some day.”
“You don’t need to pay me back, Connor. That’s the whole point of a gift.” Giles smiled. “I thought you’d like this store because they have one of the best selections of Celtic jewelry.”
Connor looked up at him. “I don’t understand.”
Giles pursed his lips. “Irish. I thought later, when you two decide it’s time to tell Angel and Buffy about the marriage, Angel would be rather proud that you honored your heritage.” Giles paused for a moment. “And I know Dawn loves Celtic jewelry. She kept borrowing Tara’s.”
Giles went up to the perky, blonde sales clerk. “We’d like to look at wedding bands.”
She grinned, showing blinding white teeth. “Do you two have anything in particular in mind to express your bond?”
Giles’ eyes slotted. “He’s my soon to be son-in-law.” He nudged Connor as the boy started to open his mouth. “He’d like to look at some Celtic wedding bands.”
She didn’t look the least bit embarrassed at her faux pas as she dragged out a tray of claddagh rings. “These are our most popular.”
Connor shook his head before Giles could protest. He could only imagine what Buffy might feel if they got Dawn one of those. “No, Dawn doesn’t want one of those. She told me so...something about Buffy and Dad.”
“No claddaghs. He’s more interested in the knotwork rings,” Giles said, relieved.
“Sure, we have a great selection of those.” The clerk brought out another tray. “These are very popular.” She tapped one with a manicured nails.
Connor took it out and scowled. “The knotwork is hearts.”
“I don’t think either of you are that fluffy,” Giles said.
Connor shook his head. “No.”
“Guess the butterfly knots are out, too. I think I have something you’ll like better.” The girl put away that tray and retrieved another.
Connor looked at them, finding the endless variations of the knotwork overwhelming, or so Giles guessed from the boy’s expression. “Do the knots mean anything?”
“No one is really sure,” Giles said. “As far as we can tell, not really. They didn’t have a specific meaning but some people like to suggest the interlocking knots symbolize an unending union without beginning or end.”
“I like this one and that one,” Connor said, pointing.
The girl nodded approvingly. “Tralee knots and Kenmare, both really popular.”
Connor examined the tray more closely, going to a ring that at the end and oddly different from the rest. He picked it up, bringing it close to his face. “This is it.”
Giles took the ring. It had the Tralee knots broken up by triskeles of spirals. It was very unusual and delicate. “It’s lovely.”
“That’s the one.” Connor handed it to the clerk. “I like it better silver than gold though. Is that wrong?” He directed that to Giles.
The older man shook his head. “Somehow, I prefer silver to gold in Celtic jewelry as well.”
“No problem,” the clerk said. “It’s actually white gold and perfect for any wedding.”
“That’s the one I want,” Connor said with a definitive nod of his head.
“Are you sure? You don’t want to look some more? We haven’t been at this very long,” Giles said, not at all sure how long it should take. The man in him wanted to run now, having shopped enough but surely it should take longer.
“That’s the one. I know it,” Connor replied. “It makes me happy.”
“Very well then. She’ll fit you,” Giles said, taking a slip of paper out of his wallet. “This is the bride’s ring size.”
The clerk smiled and took the paper before turning to Connor. “If you’re lucky, we’ll have them in stock. Do you want them engraved?”
Connor shot Giles a panicked look. “I don’t know.”
“I can’t help you there,” the older man replied.
“Well, you can bring them back if you change your mind,” the clerk said.
Giles paid through a Watchers account. He knew he shouldn’t but he was the one in charge now. There were hardly any Watchers left and those that were weren’t the type to begrudge this. The rings were expensive enough but his surprise gift to the couple would be as well and for that he was paying for out of his own pockets.
Connor surrendered the ring boxes to him as they went back to Giles’ home. Giles explained, as best he could about why the boxes had to be kept, because the emphasis women put on those little details escaped him. Still, after years with Buffy, Willow, Dawn, Anya and Tara and now Kennedy, he had learned more about women than perhaps he had ever wanted to.
Dawn and Ailsa were waiting for them when they got back. Dawn rushed Connor the moment he stepped through the door. “Ailsa and I found the perfect dresses. Giles, I’m so glad you introduced us to Rhiannon. I never thought she’d just buy the dresses for us but she did,” Dawn bubbled.
“Who’s Rhiannon?” Connor asked.
“A Watcher and a witch, she’s like a million years old and rich but she’s so cool,” Dawn said.
“She’s a very dear friend of mine,” Giles said. “And she is very philanthropic. I told her about the wedding and she wanted to help. I’m glad she was able to.”
“The dress is so pretty Giles. You have to come see it now,” Dawn demanded, going for the stairs. She put a hand on Connor’s chest as he followed. “Not you.”
Connor’s eyes narrowed. “Why?”
“It’s bad luck for you to see the dress before the wedding,” she explained and he made a face.
“Uh, okay. We got the rings,” Connor said and Dawn paled.
“How...I thought we decided...Letmesee!”
Giles just smiled and surrendered the ring box. Connor tried to open it, obviously too slowly for Dawn. She grabbed it and took out the ring. She slipped it on her finger, crying.
“It’s so beautiful.” She hugged and kissed Connor first then Giles. She shoved her finger at Ailsa for inspection. “I don’t want to take it off!”
“Take it off?” Connor’s brow wrinkled.
“She’s not supposed to wear it until you give it to her in the wedding ceremony, eijit,” Ailsa said as Dawn reluctantly removed it.
“I’m so confused,” Connor whispered to Giles as Dawn gave back the ring box.
“You’re getting married. Get used to that feeling.” Giles shot him a cheeky grin before Dawn caught his arm and started hauling him upstairs to see the dress.
Joined: 28 Nov 2003
|Posted: Wed Aug 11, 2004 4:09 am Post subject:
“Why is this taking so long?” Connor moaned, fussing with his bow tie.
Giles smacked his hand. “You’re rumpling it.” Connor glared at him. “Think of it this way, Connor, if you were having a church wedding you’d be doing this in front of a church full of people, having a complete Catholic mass in addition to the marriage. Here,” Giles waved his hands around the beautiful reserve on the banks of the river Nene. Willows wept along the water’s edge and the lush grass was alive with flowers like handfuls of gems scattered on green velvet. Butterflies drifted along, jewels on the wing and dragonflies darted in and out, almost as if curious as to the disruption in their territory. A cluster of chairs were nestled under a grove of oak and not far off was a ‘dining hall’ tent where Ailsa was helping Dawn prepare. Savage and his family had done a good job of preparing the site. “Here, you just have to contend with some noisy birds and a smattering of Watchers.”
Connor looked at the oak grove. “I don’t even know the Watchers. Why would they want to come and watch this?”
“You’ve met Rhiannon now, and Saeth,” Giles reminded him. “The rest are just Father Savage’s family.”
“And it’s a right big family,” a new voice joined the conversation. Father Savage strode their way, wearing a blue vestment with Celtic knotwork trimming it. He was tall, rail thin and Dawn had told Connor that the priest looked like Pierce Brosnan with greying hair. Connor, for his part, wondered if his father had ever had the lyrical lilt the priest’s voice had. It seemed to make Dawn all doe-eyed. “I’m one of thirteen.” The priest beamed.
Connor’s eyes widened, a nervous tickle in his belly. “You can have that many kids?”
“Yes.” Giles fought back a smile. “You’d do well to remember that.”
Connor eyed him sourly.
“My family’s just here to help set up the chapel. Mostly they’re Watchers so doing actual hard work like this is good for them.” The priest smiled even more widely.
“Need I remind you you’re a Watcher as well,” Giles said, sardonic.
Savage patted his vestments. “This is hard work. We’ve got everything squared away, son, paperwork-wise. We’ve fudged on some of the waiting periods and all that, but if you don’t tell, neither will we.” Savage winked.
Connor smiled. “Thank you, Father.”
The priest clamped a hand on his shoulder. “My pleasure. How could I miss out on a wedding this interesting? Don’t worry, son. You’ll do fine. Just say the vows like we practiced last night,” Savage said and the vows went shooting out of Connor’s mind. He had had them firmly in his brain up until that point. Savage glanced up at the crystalline blue cloudless sky. “You don’t get days nicer than this. Usually it’s pissed with rain. Though, I’m glad you opted out of the full mass. It’ll be a bit warm for your bride. Just don’t tell anyone I said I was happy to skip mass.” Savage gave him a conspiratorial grin.
Connor wasn’t sure why it mattered but he was happy to help. “I won’t.”
“I’d better go check on how things are progressing,” Savage said.
“Nervous?” A feminine voice chimed in.
Connor turned to see Ailsa behind him. Her dark hair fell in a loose mass of curls topped with a crown of flowers. Her silver gown fell in a straight simple line except for where it was gathered just under her breasts in a wide band of blue Celtic knotwork. She and Dawn had wanted him to have a cummerbund of knotwork but Giles came to his rescue and settled the matter; his tux was very traditional black and white and horribly uncomfortable to someone who had never worn formal clothes. “Not until you just asked that.”
She smiled. “Giles, you have Dawn’s ring?”
He patted his pocket. “Safe and sound.”
Connor could see his ring tied to one of Ailsa’ curls with a white ribbon.
“Connor, you remember your vows, right?” Ailsa’ blue eyes caught his.
“I wish people would quit asking. Every time they do, my mind goes blank,” Connor moaned as a dragonfly landed on his boutonniere. He waved it away.
“You forget them up there.” Ailsa jerked a thumb at the oaks. “And I’ll give you a Slayer ass-whipping, got it?”
He nodded frantically. “I’ll remember them. Dawn made me rehearse them a lot.”
“Oh, and Dawn wanted me to tell you, if she’s crying, it’s not because she’s sad, okay?” Ailsa gave him a look like he was completely foreign to human ways.
“I know tears of joy,” he assured her.
“Good. Remember what I said.” She kissed his cheek and fled.
“Giles.” His voice shook.
“Why won’t my hands stop doing this?” Connor held out his trembling hands. “I’ve never felt like this, like my bones are trying to climb out of my skin and go running off.”
Giles smiled at him, patting his shoulder. “It’s called nerves, Connor. You’ve never been nervous before?”
“Not like this.” Connor was afraid to tell him he felt a little queasy, too, which was another new sensation. He was never sick. “Why am I scared? I’ve faced all sorts of demons.”
Giles chuckled. “None of them are as scary as a wife can be.”
Connor’s lips skinned back. “That’s not helping.”
“Probably not. Let’s get you to the altar. I’ve have to be with Dawn as well,” Giles said, playing the roles of best man and father of the bride.
Connor felt very alone under the shade of the oak trees, even with the calming and rather humorous presence of Father Savage. At least the priest’s sense of humor was helping to ease the feeling he should run far and fast, but the shaking wouldn’t stop. Connor tried to concentrate on Rhiannon’s lined face as the hundred year old and then some Watcher sat waiting patiently. He had quickly grown to like her. The tall dark haired woman with Rhiannon, her granddaughter Saeth, another Watcher, intrigued him. Off to the side near a thick oak tree, one of Savage’s relations played the bagpipes, a strange noise that Connor wasn’t sure he liked. Elsewhere was were two women, also Savages, one with a camera and another with a video recorder. He had never felt more on display.
“Here we go,” Father Savage whispered then moved back to the unlit candle that sat on a grey, craggy rock in the grove. A crystal decanter rested next to it. He motioned to the few people sitting and waiting. They all stood.
Connor turned as the bagpipe music went from a soft background noise to loud, demanding and almost lyrical. Ailsa came out of the tent and walked slowly and purposefully down the aisle. He was struck at how pretty she was. He hadn’t really noticed in all the times they had been sparring. She spared him a wide smile then took her place opposite him in front of the priest.
Connor’s heart felt as if a hand had reached inside and stopped it for just a moment as he saw Giles leading Dawn out of the tent. Like Ailsa, a ring of flowers encircled Dawn’s head. Her sleeveless gown fell like fire to her feet. Dawn had told him she hadn’t felt right wearing white and he hadn’t asked why. As Giles walked her towards him, she was like flame coming to devour him. The velvet gown - she had told him that much - was iridescent gold over red and as she neared him, he could see the knotwork around the neck in bright red, blues, greens and purples. It was beautiful. Dawn never looked lovelier than she did at this moment.
Tears were already trickling down her face. As Giles left her by Connor’s side, he walked behind the young man and patted his shoulder. Connor saw Giles looked ready to cry himself and that oddly made him feel much better.
“My dear friends,” Savage intoned in a voice much more loud and commanding than he had been using with Connor earlier. “We have come together to bear witness to this marriage between Dawn Summers and Connor Skerret.”
For a moment, Connor didn’t know who Savage was talking about then he remembered that was his new last name, the one Angel had made Wolfram and Hart put on his papers. He wondered if that truly was Angel’s last name. He had never asked, never really caring to know. Suddenly, it seemed important.”
“As God has already abundantly blessed you with his love, he shall now enrich and strengthen you with this special sacrament as you take on the duties of marriage in a mutual and lasting fidelity. So, in the presence of the beauty that God has created,” Savage gestured at the serene woodlands around them, “I ask you to state your intentions. Have you come here freely and without reservation to give yourself to each other in marriage?”
Dawn’s “I have” was as clear as a bell and loud enough for Buffy to hear wherever in the world she might be. Connor found his own voice almost gone, like a Riswoljo demon had wrapped its tentacles around his neck. Dawn smiled at him, her laugh barely audible. He concentrated on her big, sweet eyes, which kept the swirly darkness that was threatening to take him at bay.
“Will you love and honor each other as man and wife for the rest of your lives?” Savage asked and Connor was certain he had lapsed into a tongue he had never heard before. He squeaked out an “I will” just because Dawn did so commandingly.
Savage paused, smiling encouragingly at them both. “As Connor and Dawn have expressed a desire to have a simple ceremony, we won’t be having a full mass but that doesn’t mean you get to escape my witty homily.” Savage grinned broadly and the audience laughed. Connor wasn’t quite sure what homily was and his shaking grew just a tiny bit worse. “There has been so much wonderful poetry written about love. I don’t doubt it was one of the first things man ever did once he learned to write. Probably long before he even accomplished that feat, men were whispering declarations of their love. I turned to someone far more eloquent than I to find the right words for Connor and Dawn. I ask that you all think on these words of the bard and pray that you all find cause to feel this way in your own life.”
Savage took a few steps closer, laying his hand along Connor’s chin and did the same with Dawn with his other hand.
“Let me not to the marriage of true minds admit impediments.
Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.”
Connor listened to the words, his eyes never leaving Dawn’s. He understood every word of it, felt them resonating deep within him. From her soft gaze, he knew Dawn felt it, too.
“Since it is your intention to enter into this marriage, join your right hands and declare your vows,” Savage instructed.
Connor wasn’t sure his hand would have moved if not for Giles and Ailsa stepping in as rehearsed to place Dawn’s hand in his. He looked at the woman who was going to be the mother of his child and all thought left his mind. He was a blank slate and if he didn’t think of his vows soon, he wouldn’t have to worry about Ailsa kicking his butt. Dawn would kill him first. Time stretched out. The bagpipes whirled softly in the background. Connor wasn’t sure if time had actually stopped or not but seeing the smile still on Dawn’s tear-dampened face he figured only a heartbeat’s time had actually passed.
“I am the sky,” he said as the words Dawn had written for them flooded back. “You are the earth. Together we are life. I pledge that like a star, my love will be bright and constant. I will be the shield that protects you as you will be the shield that I shelter under. It will be your name on my lips as I drift off to dream each night and in your arms, I shall wake.”
“I am the earth,” Dawn said, her voice nowhere near as shaky as his had been. “You are the sky. Together we are life. I pledge that like a stone my love will be firm, weathering any storm. I will be the love that rides the waves between our souls. My heart will beat because of you and I shall love because of you.”
“As a symbol of this unity, we shall now light the unity candle.” Savage said. “May we have the flame.”
Rhiannon, leaning on her cane, stood and came forward, standing before them. She cupped her gnarled hands and said one word, “Tanau.” A small ball of fire danced on her skin. Connor’s eyes widened. He had seen magic before, of course, but he hadn’t been expecting it here. “Take it together, children,” Rhiannon instructed.
Connor’s fingers brushed Dawn’s as they took the fire from her. It was cool to the touch and tickling. Together they walked to the candle and looked back at Father Savage. He nodded. “You know what to say.”
Together they touched the ball of fire to the candle. It flared and disappeared, leaving just a remnant behind dancing on the wick. This time Connor found his voice first and together they said, “We swear by peace and love to stand, heart to heart, and hand to hand. Mark, o’ spirit, and hear us now confirming this our sacred vow.”
Father Savage waved them back before him. “May I have the rings, please.”
Ailsa stepped forward, untying Connor’s ring from her hair. Giles set Dawn’s in Savage’s big hand. The priest went to the rock and took up the crystal decanter, splashing holy water on them then made the sign of the cross. “May the Lord bless these rings which you give to each other as the sign of your love and fidelity.” Savage put Dawn’s ring in Connor’s hand and nodded at the girl.
Connor slipped the ring on the tip of her thumb. “With this ring, I thee wed.” He moved the ring to her index finger. “With all my worldly goods, I thee endow.” The ring moved to her middle finger and quickly to the finger were it would rest. “Take this ring as a sign of my love and fidelity. In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, amen.”
Dawn repeated the ceremony with his ring. It was then he noticed how hard she was shaking. He barely realized he was crying. Savage clasped his hands over theirs then stepped back, raising his hands to the heavens.
“Let us pray. O Eternal God, Giver of spiritual grace and everlasting life, send your blessings upon this man and woman whom we bless in your name. As Connor and Dawn have pledged their troth each to the other and by the giving and receiving of a ring and by the joining of their hands, I pronounce them husband and wife. May they remain ever after in perfect love and peace together in your name, amen. You may now kiss the bride.”
This was one cue Connor hadn’t forgotten or froze up for. His lips touched Dawn’s softly and the world melted away. In that moment, only she existed and it wasn’t until he heard Savage saying, “I present to you for the first time Mr. and Mrs. Skerret,” that the rest of the world filtered in. Connor wasn’t sure what he was supposed to do now and stood rooted as the piper started a rousing song and the people clapped for them.
“The ceremony is over, you may go in peace, in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit amen,” Savage said and Giles nodded up the aisle to the tent.
Dawn had to hold Connor back at a dignified pace. All he wanted was to get away from all the eyes. To his horror, he had forgotten the part where he had to stand and shake the hands and receive kisses from everyone who had stood witness before Dawn bundled him into the car with Giles and Ailsa. As the driver pulled away, Ailsa popped the cork on a bottle.
“Fake champagne,” she said, apologetically, “But better for us. So, how does it feel?”
“Wonderful.” Dawn rested her head on Connor’s shoulder. “But I thought Connor was going to faint on me.”
“You weren’t the only one worrying about that,” he assured her, not the least bit embarrassed by it.
“But you survived admirably,” Giles said.
“And just wait until you see the hotel,” Ailsa bubbled.
Connor was all for that, wanting to be alone with his wife even though he knew he still had a dinner to make it through. Dawn’s breath caught as the hotel came into view. It was all pale brown-grey stone like some ancient fortress.
“It’s beautiful,” she squealed excitedly.
“The Talbot hotel,” Giles said, “It’s Elizabethan. Parts of it came from Forthinghay Castle.”
“Elizabethan?” Connor asked as the car pulled up to the building.
“It was over two hundred years old when your father was born,” Giles said. “Your luggage has already been brought around and dinner should be waiting.”
“It’s like a fairy tale,” Dawn burbled.
Connor wanted to get to the dinner. Instead he had to pose for pictures. By the time that was done, most of the wedding guests, including Father Savage, most of his family, Rhiannon and Saeth were inside by a stone fireplace that made Dawn squeal some more. That meant more photos. Connor felt wiped out, adrenaline having ravaged his system by the time he and Dawn sat at the head of the table closest to the unlit fireplace.
“Did you see that oak staircase?” Dawn asked.
“Let me guess, photo time?” Connor managed a smile and Dawn kissed his cheek.
“After dinner. That staircase is so beautiful.”
“It came from the castle,” Ailsa said. “Mary Queen of Scots walked down it...right before they executed her. Best not to think about that.”
Dawn’s lips puckered. “She doesn’t like haunt this place, does she?”
“Well,” Giles hedged.
“Giles! You got us rooms at a haunted hotel?” Dawn let him a consternated look.
“It’s quite a lovely place. I’m sure a simple haunting won’t disturb anyone,” he said. “Besides, the Watchers keep rooms here.”
“Forget about the ghost,” Ailsa said. “Time for a toast. Giles.”
Giles stood up and everyone quieted. “Dawn, Connor, your lives together may have had a tumultuous start but may you have much calmer waters to sail on here after. For you, I hope that the saddest day of your future is no worse than the happiest day of your past. May the lamp of love burn brightest in the darkest hours and never flicker in the winds of any storm that may come. May your years together be many and happy.”
“Kiss, kiss,” Ailsa chanted as others clinked fork to glass.
Connor was only too happy to oblige then and many times throughout the dinner and the dancing. Savage’s family provided the music and other entertainment. Dawn looked thoroughly exhausted as he carried her up the stairs and into their room. He gently placed her on the bed.
“I can’t believe it,” she said, taking the flowers off her head, him helping her with the pins. “We’re married.”
“It was...” he trailed off, trying to find the right word.
“Touching,” she said, kissing him.
Dawn stood and tried to get out of her dress. He helped her, carefully folding the gown over a chair. He knelt at her feet, kissing her belly.
“You will be such a lucky child to have such a kind and gentle mother,” he whispered. Dawn’s hand, rested on his head and at that moment he couldn’t imagine being anywhere else.
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