Timeline: Four months after the end of Biology. Buffy is two weeks away from her due date with their fourth child.
Synopsis: Faith sends Buffy some interesting symbols. Giles is somewhat unsuccessful in determining their meanings and enlists the help of an expert in the suspected area. A few surprises in this one.
Anya walked into Giles’ office and crossed her arms. “When did you know that you and Buffy were ready to have children?”
Giles chuckled softly and raised his head. “Good morning, Anya.”
“Yeah, yeah…” She waved her hand in a nonchalant manner and looked at him expectantly.
He dropped his pen and leaned back, gesturing to one of the chairs in front of his desk. “Where did this question come from?”
Anya plopped onto the chair and sighed heavily. “I think I want a baby, but Xander says he isn’t ready. How long did it take you guys to be ready?”
Giles smiled warmly. “It wasn’t a question of how long Buffy and I had been together. It was more to do with the fact that we had been discussing the prospect of having children for a while. And…one day I looked at her and knew. There was no question.”
When Anya furrowed her brow, Giles continued. “I must say something though. If you ‘think’ you want a baby, you’re not ready. This is something you must be sure of. May I ask why you think you want a baby?”
Anya shrugged her shoulders. “Xander and I have been together for a while this time around. It just seems the next logical step.”
Giles grinned. “Marriage?”
Anya shook her head quickly. “The thought of marriage scares me. I mean, we were close one time, you know?”
Giles nodded. “And that is a perfectly understandable fear. Two people can be very happy without being married. And it’s common knowledge that you don’t necessarily have to be married to have children.”
She tilted her head in thought, a smile appearing on her face. “It was important to you, though?”
“Yes, well…I’m terribly old-fashioned in that sense. But, I wouldn’t think badly of anyone who chooses to bring a child into the world without being married. It’s a matter of personal preference.”
He leaned forward and folded his hands on top of his desk. “Is it the fact that Willow and Oz have had a child?”
Anya lowered her eyes and shrugged a shoulder. “Maybe. Xander and I are the only ones left who are child-less.”
“Are you happy in your relationship otherwise?” He asked carefully.
“Oh yeah. Xander’s very sweet and the sex is very good. Sometimes exceptional, depending on – ”
He held up his hand and shook his head. “I don’t require the details, Anya. But, I do feel the need to say that I believe Xander loves you very much. And I believe that, when the time is right and you both feel that you’re ready, a child will come into the picture. Don’t rush it, though.”
“Do you think we’ll have demons for children? I mean, Maria isn’t very wolfy…but, Oz’s situation is a little different than mine.”
Giles chuckled, quickly following the abrupt change in the conversation. “You aren’t as much of a demon as you once were. And if I were to be very honest, most children are demons some of the time.”
“Not yours. Your kids aren’t demony.”
Giles laughed loudly. “You weren’t at our house the other night when Braden and Lucas decided it would be a good idea to cover Haddie in flour and then go on a ‘ghost hunt’.”
Anya snorted. “It’s probably good we weren’t there. Xander would’ve helped them.”
Giles grinned brightly. “All children get into mischief, which to some people equates to demon-like behaviour. Do I think any child you would have would have demon aspects? No. I think you are more human than you tend to believe.”
In a highly uncharacteristic move, Anya stood and ran around the desk, throwing her arms around Giles and kissing his cheek. It was at that moment that Buffy walked into the office. She raised an eyebrow at the display.
“Should I be worried?”
Anya turned quickly and shook her head. “Sex with Giles isn’t appealing to me.”
Buffy barked out a laugh. “Good to know.”
Anya glanced at Buffy’s well-rounded stomach. “How come you haven’t told anyone what you’re having this time? I know that you know.”
Buffy smiled and made her way to Giles, leaning down and giving him a soft kiss. “Because we want it to be a surprise this time.”
Anya scoffed. “I think it’s because you don’t want Xander trying to talk you into naming the baby after him.”
Giles shook his head in amusement. “As if that’s quelled that urge. Instead of just proposing names for one sex, he’s bombarding us with ideas for both.”
Anya narrowed her eyes. “You’ve already named it, haven’t you?”
When they both merely smiled at her, she rolled her eyes and made her way to the door. “You know…if you have a boy next Wednesday, I win the pool.”
Buffy laughed as Anya left the office, closing the door behind her. When she felt Giles’ hand rub her abdomen, she looked down at him.
“So, what was all that about?”
“Hm?” He lifted his eyes to meet hers. “Oh, apparently I’m turning into a relationship counsellor of sorts.”
“Are they having problems?” She asked quickly, concern in her voice.
“Not exactly.” He smiled as his son gently kicked his hand. “Anya thinks she wants to have a baby, Xander isn’t ready yet. How are you feeling?”
“Like a whale. Normal for this stage of pregnancy for me. I always feel whalish around this time.”
He chuckled softly as she pouted. “And I always find you extremely beautiful.”
She rolled her eyes playfully. “You say that because you know my hormones are unpredictable and you’re scared of offending me.”
He pulled her onto his lap, gently stroking her cheek with his fingertips as he leaned in for a kiss.
“Yes, of course you’re right.” He murmured a split second before he captured her lips. He kissed her slowly, sighing when she pulled away and rested her forehead against his. “I love you.”
“I love you too.” She whispered softly.
“Not that I’m unhappy to see you, but…what brings you here this morning? And…where’s Haddie?”
She grinned and moved from his lap to sit on the desk. “Oz kinda kidnapped her as soon as we walked into the building. And I’m here on business…I’m just lucky that my husband is also the person I need to do business with.”
“Ah…in that case, what can I do for you?”
She pulled a piece of paper out of her pocket and handed it to him. “You can tell me what this means.”
He looked at the drawings on the paper, his eyes widening. “Oh, interesting!”
Buffy rolled her eyes. “Great. It’s an apocalypse, isn’t it? You only get this excited over something I’m clueless about if it’s really bad…”
“It’s not an apocalypse.” He met her eyes and smiled. “At least…I don’t think so. Give me some time to consult my books.”
She grinned, finding the excitement in his eyes completely adorable. “Been a while since I’ve heard you say that.”
He turned the paper in his hand. “Where did this come from?”
“The fax machine.”
He narrowed his eyes. “Pardon?”
“Faith faxed it to me. Said she found these symbols carved into the trunk of a tree and felt some weird vibes going on in the area.”
“Are they still in Bolivia?”
Buffy nodded as she stood up and stretched. “Yeah. They were getting ready to head out, but then this came up.”
He nodded absently and pushed himself out of the chair. She chuckled as he made his way to the bookshelf and pulled a few volumes down.
“Call me when you find something?”
“Hm?” He looked up as he opened the first book. “Oh, of course. Um…where are you going?”
“Thought I’d take Haddie and go check in on Will and Maria.” She pulled her phone out of her pocket and waved it at him. “Call me.”
He smiled warmly. “I will. As soon as I know something. Have a nice visit.”
She winked at him and opened the door. “Have fun!”
He chuckled as he watched her close the door behind her. And then he sat down, flipping through the pages of the book.
* * *
“Hey!” Willow grinned brightly as she opened the door. “Come on in!”
Buffy chuckled and moved past Willow. “Craving adult company?”
Willow grinned and ushered her into the living room. “Is it that obvious?”
“Oh, a little.” She carefully lowered her body onto the couch and looked around. “Where is she?”
“Nap time. And I’m not afraid to tell you that I was almost as ready for her to take a nap as she was!” She sat down on the couch next to Buffy and smiled. “So, what brings you into town?”
“Business.” Buffy grumbled light-heartedly. “Though, business isn’t so bad when it concerns my hubby.”
“Something big in the works?”
Buffy raised an eyebrow at her excited tone. “My God, you’re as bad as Giles!”
“Huh?” Willow furrowed her brow in confusion.
“Give the man a few ancient Bolivian symbols to look up and you’d think he was five years old on Christmas morning.”
Willow laughed and shrugged her shoulders. “It comes from growing up on a Hellmouth. You get used to the excitement of big things happening.”
“Yeah, but…Giles didn’t grow up on a Hellmouth. What’s his excuse?”
“The fact that he was groomed for this from a young age?”
Buffy snickered softly. “Yeah, I guess there is that.”
“So how is he?”
Buffy’s hand automatically moved to her stomach. “Who?”
“Oh. He’s good. He was playing relationship counsellor when I got there. And apparently he was doing a pretty good job at it, going by the hug and kiss he got from Anya.”
Willow quirked an eyebrow. “Everything okay?”
“Oh, yeah.” Buffy waved her hand in a vague gesture. “Anya wants a baby, Xander isn’t ready…but they’re okay.”
A spark of mischief flickered in Willow’s eyes. “And the baby? How’s she doing?”
Buffy shook her head in amusement. “You’ll have to try harder than that, Will. The baby is fine. Pretty active lately, actually.”
Willow sighed heavily and gave a slight pout. “Why won’t you tell me? I’m your best friend!”
“Yeah, you totally are.” Buffy agreed happily. “You also can’t keep a secret to save your life.”
“Can so!” Willow gave her a mock-glare and then laughed. “Okay, maybe not. But…baby has a name, yeah?”
Buffy grinned and glanced at her abdomen. “Yeah, baby has a name.”
“How many derivatives of Alexander has Xand given you?”
Buffy laughed loudly. “More than I knew existed. And a few that I’m sure he made up on his own.”
“And the funniest he’s given you?”
“Xanadu.” Buffy replied with a grimace.
Willow snorted, her eyes lighting up with amusement. “What did Giles say?”
“The best response he could’ve given him.” Buffy laughed at the memory and then continued. “Giles looked at him, deadly serious…and said…Xanadon’t.”
The two fell into a fit of laughter and hoped they didn’t wake Maria.
Giles looked up as his office door opened. He smiled when Oz walked in, holding Haddie’s hand. Oz grinned and shrugged a shoulder.
“Someone wanted to see you.”
Haddie’s green eyes shone brightly as she let go of Oz’s hand and ran across the room. “Diddy!”
He scooped her up and gave her a kiss on the cheek. “Hello, beautiful.”
She shook her head quickly. “No. Mummy!”
He laughed gently. “Yes, Mummy is beautiful…but so are you. My beautiful little angel.”
Haddie giggled and squirmed in his arms.
Oz sat down at the table and looked over at the piece of paper, his brow furrowing. “Interesting.”
Giles nodded in agreement and pushed the paper towards the young man. “Yes, quite. Faith found them carved on the trunk of a tree in Bolivia.”
“Maybe.” He turned the open book so that it was facing Oz. “Though the symbols seem to derive mainly from alchemy. And most of them are from ancient alchemy.”
“In Bolivia?” Oz looked up in confusion.
“Yes. It’s quite puzzling. Not apocalyptic, but puzzling. According to Buffy, Faith sensed something in the area.”
“What kind of something?”
“Weird, I think is how she described it.” Giles gave a sardonic grin.
Oz chuckled. “That’s helpful.”
Giles sighed. “That’s Faith.”
“Who’s the expert in alchemy around here?”
“John Crifo. But something’s telling me that this isn’t about alchemy.” Giles ran his hand through his hair and looked down to find Haddie had dozed off. “I could send a copy of this down to him…”
Oz nodded in agreement. “Wouldn’t be a bad idea.” He smiled and gestured towards the clock. “Lunch wouldn’t be a bad idea either.”
“No, it wouldn’t.”
Oz pushed his chair back and stood, motioning to the door with a tilt of his head. “Lunch at my house.”
Giles smiled and shifted his sleeping daughter in his arms.
* * *
Willow groaned and gently moved Maria. Oz chuckled softly, which earned him a glare from his wife.
“How long did you breastfeed?”
Buffy looked up as she bounced Haddie on her thigh. “Different lengths for each one, actually. Braden spent the shortest amount of time because he started chewing…which wasn’t exactly pleasant. Why?”
“Yeah, the chewing? Not so much fun.” Willow grumbled.
Buffy nodded in understanding and looked at Giles. “Ru was about Maria’s age, wasn’t he?”
Giles swallowed a bite of his sandwich and thought for a second before he nodded. “Near enough, from what I can remember.”
Haddie gently patted Buffy’s stomach and giggled. “Ebbie!”
Buffy and Giles exchanged a quick glance. Oz raised an eyebrow and Willow grinned.
“What did she say?”
“Um… ‘baby’.” Buffy replied in a not so convincing tone.
Oz chuckled again as Giles took another bite of his sandwich. Buffy cleared her throat and met her husband’s eyes.
“So, find out anything about the symbols?”
He shrugged a shoulder, swallowing and lifting a glass of water to his mouth. “I’m fairly certain that they’re ancient alchemy symbols. But…I don’t think they’re actually referring to the science of alchemy. I sent a copy down to John Crifo to see what he could come up with.”
“Yeah, that’s not at all confusing.”
Giles smiled and handed a small piece of ham to Haddie. “Alchemy wasn’t frequently practiced in Bolivia. It’s quite the enigma at the moment.”
“Yay, a puzzle for you to solve.” Buffy mumbled.
Willow snickered softly and passed Maria to Oz. “So…you want to see the list?”
Giles furrowed his brow. “List?”
“Yeah, the Giles baby pool. A lot of money in the pot right now.”
Giles rolled his eyes in amusement. “I still can’t believe you’re betting on when our child is going to be born.”
“Not just that.” Oz stated softly, leaning down to place a tender kiss on Maria’s forehead. “Gender and name, as well.”
Willow nodded quickly and grinned. “Xanadu is the front-runner for names at the moment.”
One look at the expression on Giles’ face was enough to cause Buffy and Willow both to collapse into laughter.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Giles had just gotten comfortable and closed his eyes when Buffy spoke softly.
“Mm?” He mumbled sleepily, his arm draped over her and his hand resting lightly on her stomach.
“Are you upset with me?”
His brow furrowed and he placed a kiss in her hair. “No. Why would you think I am?”
“I don’t know. Because I haven’t felt like doing anything for a few days?”
His eyes opened and he took a deep breath. He instantly knew that the conversation was based on her hormones. He also knew, from past experiences, that it was best not to mention that fact. Instead, he pulled her back against his chest and moved his lips to her shoulder.
“We’ve both been tired, Buffy. Work has been hectic the past few days and…well, you’re due to give birth in less than two weeks. It’s understandable that we haven’t – ”
“You haven’t felt like it either?” She interrupted quickly. Before he had a chance to reply, she asked another question. “It’s because I’m whalish, isn’t it? You don’t want to make love to me because – ”
He took his turn at interrupting her, rolling her onto her back so he could look into her eyes. “Stop, Buffy. You’re not…whalish. You’re beautiful and very desirable. But, I know that you’re not going to take my word for it.”
“I don’t get how you can find me desirable…” She whispered sadly.
He sighed and took her hand, lifting it to his lips and placing a soft kiss on her fingertip. “I’m going to do something, but know that I’m not asking for anything.”
Before she could question hm, he took her hand and pulled it under the blankets. She gasped when he pressed her hand against the unmistakable hardness of his erection.
“Ssh.” He whispered thickly, leaning over her and giving her a tender kiss. “Know that I want you, Buffy.”
He tightened his grip on her hand when she started to caress him. “Buffy…I know you’re tired, love. I just thought you might need physical evidence of my desire for you. I’m not asking you to do anything.”
“What are you planning to do then?”
He smiled and kissed her again. “If it doesn’t subside on its own, I can take care of it later.”
She bit her lip and looked into his eyes. “Or…you could take care of it now…here.”
He raised an eyebrow at her. “I, uh…”
“I love watching you touch yourself. I always have, you know that.” She offered him a tired smile. “I may not feel up to making love at the moment, but…I wouldn’t mind watching you…”
Just the thought of her watching him masturbate caused his cock to harden even more. He inhaled shakily and cleared his throat. She smiled as she pushed the blankets off of his body.
“Let me watch.” She whispered.
He licked his lips and rubbed his palm over the pajama-clad bulge. He stared into her eyes as he slipped his pajama pants over his hips and grasped the base of his erection. Her eyes darted to his groin, a soft whimper escaping her lips.
He smiled, his hand slowly moving up the shaft towards the head. “Just the thought of you makes me hard, Buffy.”
“Are you thinking of me right now?”
He nodded, his thumb gliding over the sensitive glans. “Yes. How nice it feels when you touch me…or taste me.” He moved his hand back to the hard shaft, squeezing gently. “How wonderful it feels to be buried deep within you…your warmth surrounding me as I thrust into you.”
“God…” She sighed heavily, her fingers circling his nipple. “Tell me more.”
His hips arched against his hand, his breathing became heavier. “I want to be inside you. Your mouth, your…” He paused until she met his eyes. “Your cunt…”
He grinned as she moaned. He didn’t use the word very often, but when he did it always had the desired effect.
“Your ass. Thrusting so slowly into your ass. My God, Buffy…I want to be inside of you.”
His hand moved faster, his grip tightening. She smiled, lust showing in her eyes.
“Do you only think about fucking me?”
He shook his head quickly. “No…sometimes it’s your hand on me, your tongue teasing me. Your breasts rubbing against my cock. Sometimes it’s you…fucking me. Your tongue inside of me while I fuck your hand. Jesus, Buffy…I’m close…”
She raised an eyebrow. “Hasn’t taken very long.”
“Never does when you watch.” He mumbled, his thumb gliding through the moisture collecting on the head. “I’ve a vivid imagination…too vivid at times…”
“Come for me, Giles…” She whispered huskily. She leaned down, placing her mouth next to his ear. “And let me lick the come from your hand.”
He groaned loudly, her words pushing him over the edge. His body trembled violently as he came, the first spurt landing on his abdomen. He continued stroking himself, coating his hand in his semen. He came again quickly, crying out her name.
His eyes closed when he felt her tongue on his stomach. They reopened when she pulled his hand from his softening cock and lifted it to her mouth. He fought to control his breathing as he watched her clean his semen from his fingers.
“I wanted to make love with you tonight, you know.” She whispered lovingly as she released his hand and rubbed his chest. “I just…can’t right now.”
“Mm…” He nodded in understanding and reached up to caress her cheek. “Are you alright? I mean…can I…”
She smiled and shook her head, lowering her body and resting her head on his shoulder. “I’m fine…more than, really. Knowing that I can look like this and still – ”
“Always, Buffy.” He inhaled deeply. “I’ll always want you. And I’ll always think you’re beautiful. Because…you are.”
She draped her arm over his chest and snuggled as close to him as the baby allowed. “Thank you.”
He closed his eyes, a smile tugging at his lips as his fingers lazily stroked her hair. His earlier exhaustion caught back up to him quickly. He barely registered the gentle kick against his side.
“Have you heard of ‘The Ripley Scroll’?” The short, older man asked softly.
Giles shook his head. “No. Well, yes…I’ve heard of it in passing. I haven’t studied the Scroll.”
“Really?” John Crifo asked, disbelief in his tone.
Giles smiled, leaning his shoulder against the wall. “Really. I took a course in alchemy when I was at the Academy. Required learning, they said. I found it fairly…well, boring. I’ve never had to use it.”
John grinned and leaned back in his chair. “Until now.”
Giles laughed and nodded. He turned towards the door, pushing himself from the wall, as his very pregnant wife entered the room.
She smiled and shrugged a shoulder. “Anya said you’d be down here discussing symbology…so, I thought I’d come down as well.”
Giles chuckled softly. “Symbology?”
“Yeah…you know the symbols?” She rolled her eyes when she saw the laughter in his green irises. “Anyway…what have you found out?”
“Nothing. Yet.” Giles gestured to John. “We were just discussing the lack of knowledge I have in alchemy.”
Buffy shook her head and sat down. “Weird to think you have a lack of knowledge in anything.”
When John laughed softly, Buffy smiled. “Have you had a chance to look over the symbols?”
John nodded slowly. “I was just getting ready to go over my findings with Rupert. I think, in this instance and based on the order in which the symbols were carved, this is more metaphorical than alchemical.”
Buffy’s eyes widened and she glanced at Giles. “And I thought you spoke in annoyingly long sentences.”
Giles gave her a soft smile before turning back to John. “So, what are you thinking?”
John exhaled a deep breath. “I’m thinking this is something very nasty. And I’m thinking your Slayer may be in over her head.”
“Faith is not my Slayer.” Giles stated automatically.
“Of course, I meant no offense. I merely meant ‘your’ as – ”
Buffy smiled, waving her hand to interrupt the older man’s hasty apology. “No offense taken, Mr. Crifo. Giles knew what you meant. He, uh…still has a few unresolved issues with Faith.”
John nodded uncertainly. “Um, as I was saying…these symbols are taken directly from The Ripley Scroll. However, they are out of order. Something that a true student of alchemy would find very basic.”
He pointed at one of the symbols on the page. “Do you know what this symbol means?”
Giles nodded slowly. “It means ‘philosopher’s stone’. Which means nothing to me.”
“It means a great deal to me.” John stated softly.
Buffy grinned. “Which is why you’re the expert in alchemy.”
“Yes.” John smiled back at her. “Philosopher’s Stone…red stone, white stone. Elixir vitae, luna in crescent.”
Buffy’s grin faded as confusion sank in. “Huh?”
“Crescent moon, eternal life.” Giles responded quietly, his brow furrowed. “Red stone, white stone?”
“Blood cells, I think.” He pointed to another symbol and raised an eyebrow. “This one refers to ‘The Red Elixir Vitae’. Red stone, white stone…blood of eternal life. Not really alchemical in my opinion.”
Giles sat down and focused his eyes on another symbol. “And this one? Nearest I could come up with was ‘creation’.”
“Mm. That’s fairly correct, in its basic form. These were crudely carved. In what looks like the trunk of a redgum tree.”
“There are redgum plantations in Brazil, but I’ve not heard of them in Bolivia.”
Buffy turned and stared at Giles. “Why do you know there are redgum plantations in Brazil?”
Giles offered her an amused smile and shrugged a shoulder. John cleared his throat and ran his hand through his thinning hair.
“This is metaphorical. Blood of eternal life…”
“Vampires.” Buffy stated softly with a heavy breath. “I don’t know anything about alchemy, but vampires, I know…”
“Not just a normal group of vampires, Mrs. Giles.” John started quietly. “These are Creationist Vampires. They’re looking to create more…they’re elitists. Only the best will do. I suggest you speak with Faith and get her out of there now. She’s outnumbered and they won’t strike quickly. They’ll toy with her. They’ll make her beg for mercy. And then they’ll turn her.”
Buffy’s eyes widened. “What?”
Giles swallowed and lowered his eyes. “The only thing a Creationist craves more than the death of a Slayer by his mouth is the turning of a Slayer. And once the Slayer is turned by a Creationist…the results are devastating for everyone.”
Buffy stared at Giles incredulously. “You mean even more devastating than just dying or being turned by any vampire?”
Giles returned the stare. “Yes, precisely. Who knows the ways of the vampire better than the Slayer?”
Buffy’s stare softened. “The Watcher. My God, this has happened before, hasn’t it?”
Giles nodded slowly. “Get hold of Faith. Get her and her entire group out of Bolivia.”
“This is Faith, Giles. You know she’s not gonna just up and leave an entire nest of vampires! There has to be another way!”
“They’ll kill her, they’ll turn her. They’ll attack everyone who knows anything. The only way she’ll be able to make it out of Bolivia alive is to leave now.”
“And what if I can’t talk her into leaving?”
John exhaled slowly. “Because of the threat the Creationists cause, it has always been the way of the Council to destroy any settlements as soon as they are discovered.”
“What? How?” Buffy asked in a worried tone.
“Annihilation of the area.” Giles answered quietly. “There is really no other way. Creationist Sects are few and far between, however…when they’re found – it’s never a good sign.”
“Would Faith be able to survive? I mean, if she won’t leave?”
Giles met her eyes and slowly shook his head. “It’s complete decimation of the immediate area, Buffy. Nothing survives, that’s the point.”
Buffy stood up and began to pace. “How long do we have to get them out?”
Giles and John exchanged a quick glance. John spoke quietly. “Within twelve hours of discovery.”
Giles tenderly took hold of her arm, stopping her movement. “I’ll send a team ahead of the clean-up crew.”
Buffy lifted her eyes and stared at him. “The ‘clean-up crew’? That’s what you call them?”
“I know it sounds terribly nonchalant, but it’s technically what they do. I can get an extrication team there no more than an hour and a half before the crew arrives. That’s the best I can do, Buffy.”
Buffy sighed heavily and thought for a moment. “Then I guess I’d better get on the phone and start arranging coordination points for the pick-up.”
As she pushed past him and headed to the door, he swore softly and called her name. She turned slowly, but didn’t speak. He took a deep breath, his eyes relaying his regret.
“I’m sorry, Buffy. This is…well, it’s protocol for purposes of safety.”
Buffy gave him a short nod. “I have calls to make. Hopefully, her cell is still working and the battery still has some life in it.”
“If you have trouble, let me know. There are…alternative ways of getting in touch with her.”
“Yeah, I know. But, the less magic, the better.”
She left the room without another word. He closed his eyes and exhaled deeply. Shaking his head sadly, he pulled his mobile phone from his pocket and quickly dialled a number.
“Emergency meeting in my office. Liaisons for Extrications and Wet-Works required. Also, I need the last known positions of any associates within five hours travelling distance of Bolivia. My office, ten minutes.”
He snapped the phone shut and looked at John. “I’ll need you to explain your findings.”
“Of course.” He gestured towards the door. “Should you go after her?”
“No. She’ll come to my office as soon as she gets in touch with Faith. I think she’s too angry and upset at the moment. She, uh…she never understood the bureaucracy of the Council. I have to admit, I’m not all that comfortable with this.”
John tilted his head and regarded Giles closely. “It has to be done.”
“I know.” He made his way to the door and paused. “But I don’t have to like it.”
John sighed as Giles quickly left the room. “No. No, you don’t.”
* * *
Twenty minutes later, Buffy burst into Giles’ office. She stopped suddenly when everyone turned to stare at her. She cleared her throat and arched an eyebrow at her husband.
“When did your office turn into Defcon Headquarters?”
Giles furrowed his brow. “I’m sorry?”
Buffy waved a hand. “Nothing, nevermind. Listen…I explained everything to Faith and…she’s ready to go.” She turned her eyes to two men she instantly recognized as Special Ops. “Which of you is pick-up and who is clean-up?”
The young man on the right smiled softly. “I’m the Liaison Officer for Extrications, Mrs. Giles.”
“Then it’s you I need.” She shoved a piece of paper at him. “These are the coordinates that Faith gave me as possible pick-up sites. She’s going to split up her team into three groups…one group at each site. Take three bogeys…simultaneous pick-ups…and get them back here.”
Buffy smiled shyly when the officer raised an eyebrow, obviously impressed. “I used to work with a government agency…for a very brief time. Can this be done?”
“Yes, ma’am. I just need the clearance from Mr. Giles or Mrs. Clayton.”
Giles and Amelia looked at one another and, with a deep and nervous breath, Giles nodded. He turned and met the officer’s eyes.
The young man nodded and stood quickly. “We should be able to leave in ninety minutes.”
“Very well.” Giles answered softly as the officer ran from the room. He turned and looked at his wife. “Buffy?”
Buffy smiled sadly. “Time to talk clean-up, right?”
When Giles merely nodded, Buffy moved to the chair next to his and carefully lowered herself. She looked up and took hold of his hand, rubbing her thumb over his knuckles.
“How does annihilation happen with these guys?”
Giles took his seat next to Buffy, lacing their fingers together. He gently squeezed her fingers as the process was explained to everyone in the room.
After all was explained, Buffy realized that there would be worse ways. At least they weren’t using napalm or atomic bombs. Daylight harnessed in the nosecones of the projectiles that would be dropped into the area would be the main weapon. The explosions themselves would take out the redgum plantation, along with the Creationist Temple that would undoubtedly be located somewhere within the forest.
Hopefully, Faith and Robin could keep their groups safe for another six hours.
Six hours later…
Buffy was pacing back and forth in Giles’ office, her hand absently rubbing her stomach. Giles watched her carefully, monitoring her movements. He knew it wouldn’t be long until their son was born. She had never made it to her due date with her prior pregnancies and he was sure this one would be no different.
He felt a gentle nudge to his right arm and turned his head to find Xander sitting next to him on the couch. “I’m sorry. Did you say something, Xander?”
“Yeah. I said ‘how are you doin’, Giles?’.”
Giles chuckled softly. “Fine. I’ve no reason to think this will not work. Though I have to admit, I am worried about the distinct possibility of casualties…”
“I, uh…was actually talking about your impending fatherhood.”
“Oh.” He glanced at Buffy and smiled. “It’s not as if I haven’t done it before. This one, however…it is a little bittersweet.”
Xander’s eyes widened. “Did you want more than four?”
“No.” Giles answered softly. “But, there is a difference in making the decision to stop at four children…and having that decision made for you by nature.”
Xander nodded in understanding. “You gonna tell me if it’s a boy or a girl?”
“No.” Giles responded with no hesitation.
Xander grumbled playfully and then looked around the room. “Okay, I know I just got back a few minutes ago from dinner with Anya, but…I know the kids were here when I left.”
“They’re sleeping upstairs. Julian and Peter are with them.”
Giles’ eyes followed Buffy, narrowing slightly when she paused in her pacing. Giles stood up quickly, mumbling an ‘excuse me’ to the young man as he made his way to his wife.
She looked up at him and exhaled slowly. “I’m okay. Just a twinge in my lower back.”
“Maybe you should rest. We can ask someone to wake us when they arrive.”
Buffy raised her tired eyes. “I need to wait until they’ve been picked up.”
Giles nodded slowly and guided her to the couch. Xander smiled and scooted over, giving Buffy enough room to sit comfortably between him and Giles.
“Hey, Buff.” He grinned and touched his fingertips to her stomach. “And Little Buff.”
Buffy chuckled. “Little Buff?”
Xander nodded happily. “Yep. I’m fairly certain you’re having a girl. And…I’m pretty sure her name will be…” He thought for a moment. “Xandetta Rain.”
Giles snorted. “First of all, Xandetta is…well, just no. Second of all, though I’m sure Ethan would be chuffed at the name ‘Rain’, it doesn’t work in this instance. Third of all, Xandetta Rain sounds like either a movie or a song title…and both of them D grade.”
Xander pouted and crossed his arms over his chest. “Tell me what you really think next time.”
Buffy rubbed his arm soothingly. “Oh, Xander…even you have to admit that Xandetta Rain isn’t your best attempt at a name.”
“Well, you guys keep shooting them down…I’m running out of options here.”
Buffy started to respond, stopping when the Liaison Officer for Extrications ran into the room. “Groups One, Two, and Three have been successfully extricated from the area.”
Giles stood quickly, reaching down to help Buffy up. “Casualties?”
“None in the process of extrication, Mr. Giles.”
Giles smiled and gave a nod of relief. “Good. Very good.”
Buffy, however, instantly read something in the officer’s eyes that he was desperately trying to hide. “And the number of casualties before extrication?”
“Three casualties, ma’am. Witnesses state that they were under heavy vampiric attack two hours before we arrived. I’m sorry.”
Buffy swallowed and leaned back against Giles’ chest. “Faith?”
“One of the survivors, ma’am.”
The officer cleared his throat and met Giles’ eyes. “Wet-Works have initiated their attack. Extrications should return to base within four hours.”
Xander’s eyes widened. “Four hours? Damn, that’s fast!”
The officer grinned softly. “Not your typical choppers, sir.”
“Obviously.” Xander smiled and then looked back at Buffy and Giles. “Four hours…you could get a little rest in. I can go down and keep Anya company while she’s tracking that Clementine demon.”
“Klavantite.” Buffy and Giles corrected simultaneously.
Xander chuckled and shook his head. “Whatever. I’ll keep her company and…I can come wake you guys up if I hear anything. And I talked to Willow about an hour ago. She and Oz are coming by as soon as Maria wakes up.”
Buffy ran her hand through her hair, her eyes dull from near-exhaustion. “Yeah…I don’t think I’m going to be good for anything if I don’t get some sleep. The baby’s kinda protesting me being all vertical at the moment as well.”
Giles gently rubbed her lower back, smiling when she moaned softly. Xander rolled his eyes and motioned towards the door.
“Can’t you guys at least wait until you’ve gotten to your room?”
Buffy glared at Xander. “Okay, when you’re less than two weeks away from giving birth and your back aches non-stop and your husband knows exactly what to do to relieve some of the pain, then you’ll have the right to say something. Until then, you don’t.”
Xander grinned. “Well, considering I’m never going to have a husband or be pregnant…I guess I’ll never have the right to say anything about it.”
Buffy gave an exasperated sigh. “You know what I mean, Xand. And…I’m sorry, I’m just tired and cranky.” She looked up into Giles’ eyes. “Can we go to bed now?”
Giles smiled and gave her a nod before wishing Xander a good night and leading her out of the office. Xander snickered and closed the office door behind him, quickly making his way down to Anya’s territory.
* * *
“It’s a boy, I’m telling you.” Anya protested.
Xander shook his head. “No, they didn’t deny it when I said it was a girl.”
Anya stared at him. “They didn’t deny it when I said it was a boy either.”
Oz smirked as he followed Willow into the room. “Maybe it’s both.”
Anya looked up quickly. “You mean like a hermaphrodite?”
Willow snorted and handed Maria to Xander when he reached for her. “No…I think Oz was actually referring to twins. One of each?”
“Oh.” Anya thought for a minute and glanced at Xander cooing softly to Maria. “I don’t think she’s having twins. She’s no bigger than she has been in the past. And…when are we going to have one of those?”
“One of what?” Xander looked up, slight panic showing in his dark eyes when he noticed she was staring at the baby. “One of these? A baby?”
When Anya nodded, Xander smiled and held Maria out towards her. Anya flinched and moved away quickly.
“When you get over your fear of holding a baby, we’ll discuss it.”
“It’s not a fear. I’m not afraid of them. I mean, they’re not bunnies or anything.”
Willow raised an eyebrow, content to stand back and listen to the conversation.
Xander cuddled Maria against his chest, smiling softly as the little girl wrapped her fingers around his pinky. “It sure seems like fear. You haven’t held any of the kids when they were babies.”
“I don’t want to break them.” She whispered quietly.
Xander regarded her closely, concern in his eyes when he realized she was being sincere. “You won’t break her, Anya. She’s just a little human, she’s not made of glass.”
“She’ll break if I drop her. And…babies are squirmy.”
Xander glanced at Willow and Oz, who were smiling back at him. He motioned to the chair and looked into Anya’s eyes.
“Sit down, An.”
Anya furrowed her brow, but did as he requested. As soon as she was comfortable, he moved in front of her and transferred Maria into her arms before she had a chance to protest.
“Hold her firmly, but not too tight.” He whispered gently.
“Ssh. I’m right here, I’m not going anywhere.” He smiled when Maria looked up at Anya and giggled. “See? You’re doing great, sweetheart.”
Anya relaxed a little at Xander’s comforting words. When Maria laid her head against Anya’s chest, she looked up with bright eyes.
“I’m holding a baby!”
Xander nodded and reached up, brushing a stray hair back from Anya’s face. “Yeah, you really are.”
“Can we have one now?”
Willow laughed loudly and Oz chuckled. Anya was getting ready to ask what was so funny when Amelia walked into the room.
“Teams one and three will be landing in fifteen minutes. Team two is about twenty minutes behind them. Peter and Julian have just brought the children down.”
No sooner had she gotten the words out, Braden and Lucas ran into the room with Haddie following them at a slightly slower pace. The boys stopped suddenly and Braden looked around the room.
“Where are Mummy and Daddy?”
“Still in bed.” Xander answered quickly. “I’ll…go wake them up, okay?”
“I’m hungry!” Lucas announced, rubbing his stomach in wide circles.
Willow laughed and knelt in front of him. “Okay, how about we go start breakfast while Xander wakes your parents up?” When Lucas nodded, Willow reached out and brushed her fingers through his hair. “What would you like for breakfast?”
“Eggs.” Braden and Lucas answered at the same time.
“Yegg!” Haddie echoed with a grin.
“Okay, eggs it is!”
“Squiggly eggs.” Lucas added.
Willow narrowed her eyes. “Squiggly eggs?”
Braden smiled and shook his head in a fashion that was very similar to his father’s. “Scrambled.”
Lucas turned to his brother and narrowed his eyes. “Squiggly!”
Willow laughed softly and ruffled the boy’s hair. “They do look squiggly, don’t they?”
“I like squiggly eggs!”
Willow laughed, standing and meeting Oz’s eyes. “I’ll get breakfast started, Xander’s going to get Buffy and Giles…”
Oz smiled, lifting his hand to caress her cheek. “I’ll stay here with Maria and Anya.”
Anya breathed a sigh of relief. “Good, ‘cause I wasn’t all that thrilled to think people were going to leave me here with a baby on my own. I mean, yeah…I’m holding her, but what if she cries or vomits or…”
Oz chuckled and gently nudged Willow towards the door. Xander grinned and left the room, making his way up to the dorm rooms to find Buffy and Giles.
Xander had been able to rouse Buffy and Giles quickly. Much quicker than he had expected, considering they had only been asleep for a little over four hours. He couldn’t help but smile when he quietly entered the room to find them both sleeping soundly, Buffy’s back pressed against Giles’ chest and Giles’ hand resting protectively on her stomach.
Giles opened his eyes when Xander touched his shoulder. He turned his head and stifled his yawn. Xander passed on Amelia’s information and Giles nodded, gently rubbing Buffy’s abdomen and placing a kiss on her cheek.
Buffy groaned softly, mumbling sleepily. “I love you, but I’m really not in the mood…”
Hearing two distinct male voices chuckle, she opened her eyes and rolled over. “Please tell me I didn’t say that out loud.”
“The helicopters will be landing soon.” Giles answered softly.
She pushed herself up and ran her fingers through her hair. “The kids?”
Xander smiled. “Up and dressed. Willow’s making squiggly eggs for them.”
Giles snorted and sat up beside Buffy. “How glad am I that they finally got tired of pancakes?”
Buffy grinned. “Willow figured out what squiggly eggs are?”
Xander nodded, his smile growing. “Thanks to Braden. Lucas was adamant that he didn’t want scrambled eggs though…only squiggly ones.”
“That’s my boy.” Buffy moved her hand to Giles’ thigh and squeezed gently. “Shower for us?”
Giles scratched at his chin. “Mm, yes. I think I could use a shave as well.” He glanced down at her swollen abdomen. “Mind if I wash the baby?”
Xander blushed lightly and backed his way towards the door. “Okay, so…I’ll let you guys get ready.” He glanced at his watch. “Probably about ten minutes until the first two ‘copters land.”
“Thanks.” Buffy yawned and then smiled when Giles leaned down, giving her a soft kiss.
* * *
Faith strolled into the office, followed by three other Slayers and one Potential. She grinned, shaking her head in amusement as she looked at the young boy looking up at Giles and gesturing with his left hand, his right shoved in his pocket.
“Wow, look at Mini-Giles.”
Giles and Braden both turned towards the voice at the same time. Braden seemed to be studying her as Giles smiled warmly.
“Faith, it’s nice to see you again.”
Faith snorted and looked at Buffy. “Yo, B. Damn, you look like you’re gonna pop at any second!”
Buffy laughed and nodded. “I feel that way too. Any problems with your group getting out?”
“Nope. We’re all five by five. Present and accounted for.” She stared at the little girl running up to Giles and wrapping her arms around his leg. “And you have a Mini-B, too.”
Lucas looked up from his book and smiled. “I’m a Mini-Me.”
Faith laughed loudly. “Kids say the damnedest things sometimes.”
Giles chuckled as he reached down and picked his daughter up. “This is Haddie.” He placed his hand on Braden’s head, gently stroking the boy’s hair. “This is Braden, of course you’ve met him before.”
“Yeah, but he was little then. He looked like you back in the day, now he’s…well, he’s you.”
Braden tilted his head slightly. “I don’t remember you.”
“Oh, you were just a little tyke the last time I saw you.” Faith knelt in front of him and smiled, gesturing towards the couch. “Is that your brother?”
“Yes. That’s Luke.” He smiled when Lucas ran over to him. “But, I’m the only one who calls him that.”
“Really? What does everyone else call him?”
Braden put his hand on his brother’s shoulder. “Lucas.”
Faith turned her eyes to the younger boy. “Nice to meet ya, Lucas.”
Lucas gave a small wave and grinned. “Hi.”
Braden’s eyes drifted towards the door and he stiffened. Lucas furrowed his brow.
“Whas wrong, Bay?”
“I remember you.” Braden spoke softly, his hand tightening protectively on Lucas’ shoulder.
Giles stepped forward, his eyes darkening. Faith stood back up, confused at the reaction as she watched Buffy grab Giles’ arm.
Angel cleared his throat, but made no effort to move further than the two steps he had already taken into the room. “Hello.”
“Angel.” Giles spoke his name as if it were a curse.
Faith darted her eyes back and forth between them. “Um…you didn’t know he was in Bolivia with us?”
Buffy shook her head slowly. “No.”
Angel smiled softly. “You look well, Buffy. And – ”
Giles glanced at Amelia, who had just walked into the office. “Could you take these young ladies upstairs? Let them choose their rooms.”
Giles gave her a quick shake of his head and looked down at Braden. “Why don’t you take Lucas and go find Willow and Oz.”
“And Haddie?” Braden asked quietly.
Haddie giggled and squirmed in her father’s arms. Giles met her eyes and forced his eyes to soften. “Would you like to go with your brothers, Hadley?”
Giles kissed her cheek and gently placed her on the floor. Braden instantly took her hand in his. As he guided his siblings past Angel, he looked up.
“I remember you.” He repeated coldly, leaving Angel no doubt where he stood with the young boy.
Faith raised an eyebrow. “Wow, Mini-Giles is an intense kid.”
“You would be too if you were looking at the man who threatened to kill your entire family in front of you.” Buffy stated quietly.
Faith’s brow furrowed. “What? When did that happen?”
“Eleven months ago.” Angel answered softly. “In L.A.”
Faith stared at him. “You didn’t say anything about trying to kill them.”
Angel glanced at Giles, not surprised to find the man staring at him. “That wasn’t me.”
Giles took a step forward, halting when Buffy tightened her hold on his arm. He looked down at her and she shook her head.
“Not right now, Giles. We have other things to get through first.”
Giles took a deep breath and exhaled slowly before meeting the vampire’s eyes once more. “Your group…how many survivors?”
“Three. Jackson, Thomasina, and myself.”
Faith’s eyes widened. “Novak and Flinders?”
Angel’s eyes glistened. “We were ambushed. Flinders took the first hit. Novak tried to help him…I…Flinders told me to take Thomasina and run.”
Buffy gasped. “Novak?”
“I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.” Angel lowered his head. “He fought bravely. A true warrior.”
Giles took a shaky breath and swallowed hard. “I, uh…”
When he trailed off, Buffy looked up and slid her hand into his. “Giles?”
“He was a good man.” Giles whispered.
Not knowing what else to say, Buffy cleared her throat. “Um…we were told there were three casualties…”
At that moment, two men entered the room followed by two young girls. Giles instantly recognized them as Watchers, Jamison Knox and Michael Harding. The young girls were their Slayers, Chelsea Minchinbury and Leanne Clarke.
Faith stared at them, fighting to hold back her tears. “Robin?”
Knox shook his head sadly. “I’m sorry, Faith. We…”
“Dear Lord.” Giles whispered, pain in his voice.
Faith shook her head quickly. “No, no, no. This is some kind of mistake. Robin wouldn’t die…he…no.”
Buffy moved quickly, pulling Faith into her arms. Giles glanced at Angel and moved to stand in front of him.
“We have unresolved issues that I expect to be resolved to some point within the next few days.”
Angel nodded slowly. “Giles, what happened in L.A. – ”
Giles shook his head. “Not now. For now, take them upstairs and get them settled in. Find a room for yourself as well. We’ll talk later. Until then…” Giles looked into the vampire’s eyes and lowered his voice. “Don’t go near my children.”
Without another word, Angel turned and ushered the two Watchers and two Slayers out of the office. Giles turned around, sighing heavily at the sight of Faith sobbing in Buffy’s embrace.
He wasn’t sure what surprised him more. The fact that she was so obviously distraught over Robin Wood’s death, the fact that she was allowing her despair to be witnessed, or the fact that she was letting Buffy comfort her. Perhaps it was a combination of all three.
It had been no secret that Faith and Robin were lovers. Had been for a few years now. As Faith cried out Robin’s name, Giles felt his heart ache. This was not the same Faith that he had known all of those years ago.
This was a Faith who had learned to love, and who had allowed herself to be loved. And now her love was gone.
Buffy lifted her eyes and met Giles’ gaze. He watched a tear roll down her cheek and realized that tears blurred his vision.
His tears didn’t come from the loss of a friend. He and Robin had been sociable, but not exactly best friends. No…his tears came from the fact that Faith was in agony. An agony that he could understand because it was his own nightmare.
He knew that Buffy’s tears came from the same place. And suddenly, he wanted nothing more than to hold Buffy in his arms. To assure her of what she already knew…that he was completely in love with her and would do absolutely anything to protect her.
Xander and Anya walked into the room, stopping suddenly when they heard the sobs. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what had upset Faith so much. And they didn’t need to ask why Buffy and Giles were crying as well.
Xander swallowed the lump in his throat and wrapped his arm around Anya’s shoulders. Anya reached out and gently touched Giles’ arm. Giles turned slowly and offered her a small, sad smile.
The three of them turned their gazes back to the two young women sitting on the floor. Faith’s tears still flowing freely, her sobs quietening as Buffy whispered soft words in her ear as she stroked her dark hair.
When Faith mumbled incoherently into Buffy’s shoulder, Buffy leaned back slightly and looked down at her.
“What did you say?” She whispered quietly.
Faith sniffled and wiped the back of her hand across her eyes. “We were getting married in six months.”
“Oh…” Buffy sighed and brushed her fingers through Faith’s hair. “I didn’t know. I’m so sorry, Faith.”
“We shouldn’t have split up…we should’ve stayed in one group.”
Giles cleared his throat and stepped forward. “I know it seems that way at the moment, Faith. But, had you not split up…the result could have been much worse.” When Faith turned her red eyes towards him, he inhaled deeply. “And, I realize that your loss is…”
He shook his head sadly and knelt next to them, placing a gentle hand on her shoulder. “I can’t begin to imagine what you’re feeling, Faith. But, know that you’re welcome to stay here for as long as you need.”
Faith nodded numbly and Giles stood, quickly walking to his desk and lifting the phone. He dialled Amelia’s number and waited for her to answer. If anyone knew what Faith was going through, it was Amelia. And if anyone could help Faith get through this, it was Amelia.
He sighed softly when Amelia answered the phone. “We need your help.”
Amelia had taken Faith to her office. The newly arrived were in their rooms resting. Giles wasn’t sure where Angel was at the moment, nor did he really care.
At the moment, there were four children playing quite nicely in the corner of the room. He and Buffy had taken the couch, Xander was in one chair with Anya on his lap, Willow sat in the other chair with Oz sitting on the arm. For the past few minutes, the only sounds were the gentle bickering of two boys and the giggles of the two girls.
“I’m rather sure I said the wrong thing to Faith earlier.” Giles admitted softly.
Buffy looked up at him and shook her head. “No, you said what needed to be said. She just wasn’t ready to hear it yet. But, you stopped yourself and made up for it.”
When he didn’t respond, she gently rubbed his thigh. “I don’t really know how she feels. But, what I do know is…I’ve nearly lost you a few times. And…I have no idea how I would’ve reacted.”
Giles furrowed his brow. “A few times?”
“Yeah.” Buffy whispered softly.
Buffy closed her eyes briefly and shook her head. “You have to go back further than that, Giles.”
She saw the confusion in his eyes and took a deep breath. “I almost lost you the night Jenny died. That was the first time that I really thought I might lose you.”
She shook her head. “That’s where we start. Then there was the night I sent Angel to hell.”
Giles lowered his eyes and looked at his scarred hand. “He had no intentions of killing me, Buffy.”
“No, but he wanted to break you. And he almost did. We’ll skip over the numerous head injuries…but we’ll stop at Cavendale. I think that was the closest I’ve ever come to losing you.”
He swallowed and glanced at the four adults and then the children before he nodded. “Yes, I’ll agree with that one.”
“A few battles here and there, we could’ve easily been taken out by the Turok-Han or the implosion could have killed us all.”
She continued quickly. “We move to England, things are going well. And then Bamapana arrives and I almost lose you again.”
“That wasn’t a life or death situation, Buffy.” Giles stated quietly.
“No, it wasn’t. But it nearly cost us…us. And it counts. Because I don’t know what I would’ve done if he had been successful.”
“Cheerful conversation.” Oz offered softly.
Buffy shrugged a shoulder. “My point is…I’ve never lost you. You haven’t…died.”
“Where are you going with this, Buff?” Xander asked, concern in his voice.
Tears filled Buffy’s eyes. “I don’t know. All I know is…seeing her…hearing her when she found out that Robin hadn’t made it…”
“I know, love.” Giles whispered as he pulled her into his arms. “I felt the same thing.”
“Okay, can we talk about something else now? Because you two being morbid is making me sad. I know death is bad, and it’s painful. But, it’s part of life…and you two are still alive.”
Giles and Buffy both looked at her for a moment. Xander smiled nervously and shrugged his shoulder.
“I have to say that I kinda agree with her this time. Talking about your mortality isn’t going to bring Robin back for Faith…and it’s not gonna make you two feel any better about it. I’d be devastated if something happened to Anya, but I’m choosing not to think about that right now. Instead, I’m thinking about…”
He blushed lightly and cleared his throat. “Well, it doesn’t matter what I’m thinking about…but suffice to say, death is not on my mind.”
Anya grinned brightly at Xander. Oz and Willow each gave Buffy and Giles an understanding smile, acknowledging their concerns. Their smiles also stated that for once Anya was right. Giles cleared his throat and gave a short nod.
“And what would you like to discuss?”
“Well, you could tell us if you’re having a boy or a girl. Xander seems to believe that you’re having a girl because you didn’t deny it. I think you’re having a boy for the same reason. Oz thinks you’re having a hermaphrodite…”
“What?” Buffy interrupted quickly.
Oz laughed and shook his head. “That comes from the idea I had of there possibly being twins…one of each.”
“Oh.” Buffy said in an uncertain tone.
Giles chuckled warmly. “Definitely not twins, and…as far as we know, no hermaphrodite either. It’s definitely one sex.”
Anya sighed heavily. “Yeah, but is it a boy or a girl?”
“Yes.” Giles answered, a smirk playing at his lips.
“God, you’re infuriating!” She groaned and then looked at Buffy. “How the hell can you live with him like that?”
Buffy smiled and shrugged a shoulder before leaning into him. “It’s part of his charm.”
Willow snorted. Oz grinned. Xander laughed gently. Anya continued in her quest to get someone to reveal the sex of the baby.
She gave up after an hour.
* * *
The tears had stopped for the time being. Faith now stood in Amelia’s office, looking at the pictures hanging on the wall.
“You have cute kids.”
Amelia smiled. “Thank you. They’re a handful, but I’m very proud of them.”
Faith nodded, tilting her head as she looked at what seemed to be a family portrait. “This your husband?”
Amelia sighed softly. “Yes.”
“Been married for a long time?”
Amelia cleared her throat, trailing her finger over the image of James. “James and I were married for almost fifteen years when he passed.”
Faith turned quickly to look at her. “Oh. Um…sorry, I didn’t know.”
Amelia offered her a gentle smile and placed her hand on Faith’s shoulder. “You had no way of knowing. It’s quite alright.”
There was a moment of silence and then Faith decided to change the topic. Anything to get her mind off of Robin for now.
“So…is it weird working with Giles? And…being his boss and all that?”
Amelia’s eyes widened, surprised at the sudden detour. “How do you mean?”
“Well, I’ve heard the rumours…you know, about you two.”
Amelia chuckled uncomfortably. “I’m sure you have. Most people have…though, to be very honest, I have no idea why my past with Rupert is still fodder for the gossip mill.”
Faith shrugged her shoulder. “Gossip passes the time when you’re stuck in the middle of nowhere…”
“I suppose you’re right.” Amelia answered softly. “To answer your question, it’s not ‘weird’. Different at times, but not weird. Rupert is very professional when it comes to work.”
To Amelia’s surprise, Faith laughed.
“Yeah…when we were younger, ‘stuffy’ was used more than ‘professional’ to describe Giles’ work ethics. And I reckon he’d have to be professional…Buffy’d kill him otherwise.”
Amelia shook her head and grinned. “Buffy has nothing to worry about. And she knows that. Rupert is the most loyal man I’ve ever known.”
“Always was.” Faith smiled and sank down in a chair. “Even when he agreed to take over my training until a new Watcher could be assigned to me…he was all about Buffy. I made a comment one time about his cuteness factor…he did the whole blushing and stammering thing, Buffy did the whole ‘eww’ thing. She wasn’t very convincing though.”
Amelia raised an eyebrow. “Oh?”
“Yeah. I don’t think anything was going on then, ‘cause B wasn’t eighteen…but…she didn’t like the thought of anyone looking at Giles like that.” Faith grinned at the memory. “I just wanted to see what she’d do. Not that I was lying…he was cute. But, definitely not my type.”
Amelia sat down in the chair next to Faith’s. “And Robin was?”
Faith snorted softly. “Hell no. But…he grew on me. And I guess my preferences changed over the years. I mean…at first, it was all about sex. Even with Robin. But…a couple of years after Sunnydale…well, it was more than sex.”
Amelia arched an eyebrow. “A couple of years? It took that long?”
Faith smiled sadly. “I was a slow learner. Ask anyone here, they’ll tell you just how slow I was.”
“I’m well aware of your past, Faith. I’m also well aware of the fact that you’ve worked very hard to redeem yourself.”
Faith stood up quickly and walked towards the window. “It’s all about atonement, isn’t it?”
Faith sighed and traced a pattern on the window with her fingertip. “Angel’s done a lot of bad things…and it seems like he’s done bad things not all that long ago. But, one thing he taught me was a person can atone for their sins and…indiscretions. If it wasn’t for Angel, I really don’t know what would’ve happened to me.”
Amelia regarded the young woman carefully. “Angel taught you how to love.”
“Huh?” She turned around and looked at Amelia, confusion in her dark eyes. “I didn’t love Angel…”
Amelia smiled warmly. “Perhaps not, but…he taught you how and that it was okay to love and be loved.”
“Yeah, I guess. I’ll never have what B and Giles have…I didn’t even have that with Robin. I love Robin, and I always will…but, it was never…” She shrugged and turned back to the window.
“Buffy and Rupert are an exception to most rules in life. As much as I love James…and as much as I loved Rupert at one time…I never had what they have. Not many people do.”
“So you did love him? Giles, I mean?”
“Very much so.” Amelia admitted softly.
Faith turned slowly and met Amelia’s eyes. “Did you really have Giles’ baby?”
“What?” Amelia’s eyes widened in shock. “How did you…I mean…”
“Travers came to see me a few years back. Said he’d get me out of jail if I’d help him with something. Mentioned using the child you had with Giles against him and Buffy.” Faith cleared her throat and folded her arms across her chest. “I was knee deep into my rehabilitation at that point. The last thing I wanted to do was to hurt B anymore than I already had.”
Amelia was quiet for a few minutes and then took a deep breath.
“It was a very long time ago. I didn’t find out until Rupert had left the Academy. And…Rupert didn’t find out until Quentin told him.”
Faith lowered her eyes. “He said the baby died.”
Amelia stood and walked to the window, staring out across the courtyard. “That was the reason I never told Rupert.”
“I’m sorry.” Faith whispered softly.
Hearing the pain in Faith’s voice, Amelia turned towards her. “Faith?”
“I’m sorry for your pain. I’m sorry for the things I did that hurt so many people.” Her bottom lip quivered, her eyes filling with tears once more. “I’m sorry I wasn’t there to help Robin. I’m so sorry…”
Amelia wrapped her arms around Faith. Faith allowed herself to be held for a long while.
Faith returned to Giles’ office to find Giles sitting on the floor with Lucas a few feet away, rolling a ball back and forth between them. Haddie was giggling happily, reaching out to try to grab the ball as it passed her each time. She furrowed her brow when she saw Buffy on the other side of the room with Braden, the young boy moving through a familiar routine with a stake in his hand.
“Starting him pretty young, aren’t you?”
Haddie finally succeeded in grabbing the ball and took her father’s place in the game, rolling the ball somewhat awkwardly to her brother. Giles turned his head towards Faith as Buffy met the younger Slayer’s eyes.
“Yeah, well…wasn’t really our idea. We were hoping to wait a few more years, but that choice was taken away from us.”
Faith tilted her head, not missing the hard tone of Buffy’s voice. Braden turned slowly and stared at Faith.
“He’s a vampire, you know.”
Faith nodded and moved to Giles’ desk, perching herself on the corner. “Yeah, but he’s a good vampire.”
Giles stood and walked over to them, shoving his hand in his pocket. He smiled down at his older son. “Have you finished for the time being?”
Braden nodded and handed the stake to his father. “Do I get to train with you tomorrow?”
Giles chuckled softly. “If you wish. Why don’t you go play with your brother and sister for a while now?”
“Okay.” He turned and gave Buffy a tight hug. “Thanks, Mummy.”
She bent down and kissed the top of his head. “You’re welcome, Ru…now, go on…have some fun.”
He grinned brightly and looked up at his father, his dark green eyes shining. “Can I take Luke and Haddie down to see Oz?”
Giles nodded, smiling warmly at the boy. “I don’t see why not. But, if he’s busy, come straight back here.”
Braden nodded quickly in agreement and rushed over to his siblings. Faith smiled as the three children left the room, Braden holding his sister’s hand.
“Big fans of Oz, huh?”
Buffy chuckled softly. “Those kids adore him. Pretty much goes the other way too.”
Faith cleared her throat. “You know that Angel would never hurt them.”
“With all due respect, Faith…you weren’t there.” Giles spoke quietly.
Faith took a deep breath and crossed her arms over her chest. “Maybe if you told me what happened, I’d understand. I mean…that kid looked like he’d kill Angel if he had the chance.”
Buffy and Giles exchanged a glance and Giles gave her a brief nod. Buffy met Faith’s eyes and sat down in the chair.
“Okay, short story. Angel was initiated into the Circle of the Black Thorn with the intention of taking them down. He did, but he had accepted the Mark of the Thorn. The Mark corrupted his soul.”
Giles sat down in the chair next to Buffy’s and took hold of her hand as she continued.
“So, all of us go to L.A. to help him. Giles knew this ritual thing that would work. We were on our way to his office to get all ritual-y but Angel had gone to Oz and Willow’s hotel room…where our children were.”
Faith’s eyes widened slightly.
“We find out and go back. Angel wasn’t really Angel, but not Angelus either. Well on his way though. Angel told Braden a not so nice story about Watchers, Slayers, and vampires. Giles, Ethan, and Anya performed the ritual. Angel’s soul was repaired, Giles had possession of the Mark. Ethan and Anya had to do another ritual to get rid of it…which left a not so nice scar for Giles to remember the entire experience.”
Giles unconsciously rubbed at his chest and Buffy gently squeezed his fingers. Giles lowered his hand from his chest and met Faith’s eyes.
“Unfortunately, Braden remembers the entire experience as well. As Buffy stated earlier, our decision to allow our son to be a normal child for a few more years was voided by Angel’s actions.”
“I never wanted that to happen.”
All three of them turned their eyes to the door, finding Angel standing just inside the office. Giles grit his teeth and stood, his eyes darkening.
“But it did, Angel. Do you have any idea how heartbreaking it is to listen to a six year old boy wake up screaming in the middle of the night because he dreamt that a vampire was attacking his family?”
“He wasn’t the only one having nightmares.” Buffy added softly.
Giles glanced at her, quickly lowering his eyes. “I’ve dealt with nightmares for most of my life, Buffy.”
“I’m sorry.” Angel spoke carefully, continuing quickly when Buffy and Giles both looked at him. “I know it means little when we’re talking about innocent children, but I am very sorry. I’d give anything to be able to change things, to give him his childhood back. I’m not asking for forgiveness and I’m not expecting you to forget. But, I promise you I never meant for this to happen.”
“I don’t know that I’ll ever be able to forgive you, understand that. And, I’ll never forget…know that.” Giles sighed, his eyes softening as Angel nodded. “You have much left to accomplish in this world, Angel. That’s why I allowed you to live. I let you live because you are a key factor…we all know this. And from the few reports I have received over the past few months, you seem to be doing all you can to make this world a safer place.”
When an uncomfortable silence hung in the room for a few minutes, Buffy stood, her hand resting protectively on her stomach. “What my husband is trying to say is…stay good, do what you need to do. Attempt to hurt anyone, he’ll take you out himself if I don’t get to you first.”
“Well, that would be a gross over-simplification…” Giles muttered under his breath.
Buffy looked up at him and smiled softly. “Yeah, but…that’s the basic point, right?”
“Yes, I suppose so.” He returned her smile and then looked back at Angel, his smile fading. “We’re not exactly ‘okay’. I doubt we’ll even be considered friends again. And…it shall take a very long time to regain any trust you have lost. You’re not welcome in our home, but the Council library and training rooms are at your disposal. Should those privileges be misused…”
Angel nodded slowly as Giles trailed off. The Watcher’s meaning was entirely clear to the vampire. Angel knew he had a long way to go, but a few steps had been made. There was one more step he needed to take.
He shifted his weight nervously, careful not to avert his gaze from Giles. “I’d like to apologize to Braden.”
“Oh, hey…I don’t know if that’s such a good idea, big guy.” Faith responded quickly as she slid from the desk. “You didn’t see him earlier. Just the thought of you…”
Angel looked at Buffy and smiled tenderly. “You’ve been training him.”
Buffy exhaled slowly. “Kinda had to start. Not the ideal situation, but…”
“I’m sorry that I took that choice away from you.”
Buffy sighed and shook her head. “Kinda getting tired of hearing ‘sorry’. What’s done is done, he’s adjusting well.”
“I need to speak with him.” His dark eyes plead to her.
“Not alone.” Giles stated, staring at Angel. “He’s frightened of you, understandably so. He may be adjusting well, but he’s still a six year old child. Our child…and we’ll be there with him.”
Angel nodded in agreement. “I think that’s for the best as well.”
Buffy inhaled sharply, causing Giles to look at her in concern. She smiled up at him and shook her head.
“He’s just seeing how far he can stretch my ribs apart.” Buffy groaned and rubbed at her aching side.
Faith raised an eyebrow. “He?”
“Shit.” Buffy mumbled and gave Giles an apologetic glance.
“It’s alright.” He smiled lovingly and tucked a strand of hair behind her ear before looking at Faith. “Please keep that to yourself. We, uh…we’re wanting it to be a surprise for everyone.”
“That, and…if Xander knows the gender, he’ll just double his efforts of coming up with the ‘perfect’ name for our child.” Buffy added with a gentle laugh.
Faith scoffed lightly. “I can only imagine what he’d come up with.”
“The last one was Xandetta Rain.” Giles shook his head as Faith laughed. “At least at the moment, he’s convinced himself we’re having another girl…I’d like to keep it that way.”
“Done.” She looked at Buffy’s swollen abdomen and sighed. “I, uh…I think I’m going to go lay down for a while.”
As she started to walk by, Giles gently took hold of her elbow. When she looked up at him, he spoke in a soft tone.
“Maybe you should take a break.”
She gestured to the door. “Yeah, that’s what I was gonna do.”
He shook his head slowly. “No, I mean…a break from this, from Slaying. You need time to…well, to mourn.”
“No. I need to keep busy. If I’m sitting around doing nothing, I’m just gonna think about him all the time.”
He moved his hand to her shoulder and rubbed his thumb over her collarbone. “Promise me that you’ll at least think about it. I’m worried about you.”
“I’ll be five by five in no time.” Faith smiled even though her eyes glistened. She turned to Buffy and tilted her head towards Giles. “You know you have the best Watcher ever, right?”
“Yeah.” Buffy whispered softly. “Yeah, I really do.”
With that, Faith took a deep breath and quickly left the room. She wanted to get to her room before she broke down again. She was never comfortable with letting people see her cry. Except for Robin.
She showed Robin everything. And he had accepted her for who she had been, who she was, and who she could be. Not only had he accepted her, he had loved her.
He had gotten down on one knee in the middle of a Brazilian rainforest after they had slain a Maroomba demon and asked her to marry him. When he produced a simple solitaire, she had realized he was serious. It had taken her all of ten seconds to say yes.
A tear trickled down her cheek as she ran up the stairs.
Oz looked up from his spot on the floor when Buffy and Giles walked in. Haddie was sitting on his lap, Lucas was hanging on his back, and Braden throwing marshmallows at him. Oz grinned as he caught a marshmallow and threw it back at Braden.
“Snowball fight.” Oz supplied.
“Oh.” Giles smiled softly. “Who’s winning?”
Oz glanced at the floor around him, which was littered with small puffs of confection. “Seems that it’s not me.”
Braden drew back his left arm, three marshmallows held in his hand. “Do you concede defeat?”
Buffy barked out a laugh, which turned into a snort when her husband looked at her. “That’s such a you thing to say!”
Oz quickly conceded defeat and Braden dropped the marshmallows and looked up at his father. “I won this battle, but tomorrow is another day.”
Giles shook his head in mild amusement, laughing softly as Braden grinned up at him. Remembering the reason for their visit, Giles’ laughter slowly ebbed. Braden tilted his head slightly, curiosity in his eyes.
“What’s wrong, Daddy?”
“Nothing’s wrong, per se. However, someone would like to speak with you.”
Giles exhaled slowly and looked into his son’s eyes. “Angel.”
Braden’s eyes widened, a brief flicker of fear flashing in them. Buffy took over quickly, stroking the child’s hair in a comforting manner.
“He won’t hurt you, Ru. And…your father and I will be right there with you.”
Braden glanced at Giles and Giles instantly knelt in front of him.
“You can say no, Braden. You don’t have to do this.” He spoke softly, his hand gently covering the boy’s shoulder. “There is no shame in saying no right now.”
Braden thought for a few moments, his eyes moving from his father to his mother and then back again. “You’ll go with me?”
Giles moved his hand to touch Braden’s cheek. “Both of us will go with you. You have nothing to fear here, son. We’re not going to let anything bad happen.”
Braden thought for a few more seconds and then took a deep breath. “Okay.”
Giles stood and met Oz’s eyes as Braden moved between his parents. “Would you mind watching Lucas and Haddie for just a little while longer?”
Oz shook his head. “Not at all. I’ll be here if you need anything.”
Giles nodded, hearing the unspoken promise in the young man’s statement. “Thank you.”
As Buffy, Giles, and Braden walked out of the room, Lucas picked up a stray marshmallow and pelted it at Oz’s head.
* * *
Angel was sitting in a chair, leaning forward with his elbows on his knees and looking extremely nervous when Buffy, Giles, and Braden entered the room. Angel moved to stand in greeting, stopping his movement when he noticed the boy stiffen. He sat back down and cleared his throat.
Braden’s grip tightened on his father’s hand. “Hello.”
Giles led him over to the couch and, after helping Buffy lower herself to the cushions, picked Braden up and sat down, placing the child between him and Buffy. Angel could smell the fear and anger radiating from Braden and rubbed the side of his neck in a nervous gesture. He watched as Buffy lovingly ran her fingers through the boy’s hair.
“I, uh…” He glanced at Buffy and stopped himself before he said ‘sorry’. “When your mother was expecting you, I came to help her and your dad out with…um…some things…”
“He knows about patrols, Angel.” Buffy stated softly.
Angel gave her a quick nod and ran his hand through his hair. “I wanted her to be safe. I wanted you to be safe. I…I came to see you when you were just a few weeks old. I remember holding you…and you didn’t cry. I thought that was odd.”
“Why?” Braden asked tremulously.
“You were the first baby I had held who didn’t cry. I think it’s because…well, because I’m…cold. Babies don’t like cold things and so they cry. But, you didn’t. You looked up at me and I swear you smiled at me…and then you fell asleep in my arms.”
Braden looked up at his mother, a question in his eyes. Buffy smiled and nodded, confirming Angel’s words as truth. Braden turned back to Angel when he heard the deep voice continue.
“I promised myself at that very moment that I would do everything I could to protect you. And then I failed at that promise. I was working so hard to protect everyone from everything that I forgot about protecting myself. And that error nearly cost me my soul.”
Giles’ brow furrowed as he realized that Angel’s words were sincere.
“You have every right to fear me, Braden. But, one day I hope you’ll realize that it was never my intention to put you or your family in harm’s way.” Angel cleared his throat and slowly moved to the floor, resting on his knees as he looked into Braden’s eyes.
“It’s perfectly understandable if you will never be able to trust me. But, I am now…and for as long as I’m walking this earth…at your service. I know this may be confusing for you right now and I know that you’ve had to learn a lot of things that your mom and dad were hoping you wouldn’t have to know about for a while longer. But, I can help you. I’d like to help you. If and when you need my help, you just need to call me.”
The room fell into silence. Buffy and Giles exchanged a glance. Angel held Braden’s gaze. After a few moments, Braden’s soft voice broke the silence.
“You’re not as scary now as you were when you hurt Dad.”
Angel’s eyes glistened. “I never wanted to hurt your father. I didn’t want to hurt anyone.”
Buffy inhaled sharply, moving her hand to her stomach. Giles turned to her quickly.
She groaned at the sudden pain and gave him a quick nod. “He has perfect timing.”
“Mummy?” Braden asked in a worried tone.
“Dad?” He turned his worried eyes to his father as Giles stood up.
Giles moved quickly, bending down and lifting Buffy into his arms. “Your brother has decided it’s time to make an appearance.”
Giles turned, one arm under Buffy’s knees and the other supporting her back, and glanced from Angel to Braden. “I need to get her to the hospital…”
Angel nodded quickly. “I can take Braden to Oz.”
Giles looked down at his son. “Are you alright if Angel takes you back to Oz?”
“Yeah.” He looked at Angel and then smiled at his father. “Yeah, it’s alright.”
Buffy groaned Giles’ name as her hand clamped tightly on his shoulder. “He’s coming fast…”
Giles uttered a curse and rushed towards the door, disappearing quickly down the hall. Braden looked up at Angel, his fear of the vampire easing somewhat.
“Willow will want to know.”
Angel nodded and followed Braden, grateful that it was true that children were more forgiving than adults. He wasn’t naïve enough to think that Braden had completely forgiven him, and he was sure the child didn’t fully trust him, but this was something for them to build on.
And Angel wasn’t going to let this opportunity pass him by.
* * *
Giles made it to the hospital in record time. Not that it was that far away, a fact that Giles was extremely grateful for, but he’d been able to cut the thirty minute drive in half. Even though labour had been fairly short with their daughter, Giles was surprised at how quickly this one seemed to be moving.
When he pulled up to the emergency entrance, a nurse was waiting there for him with a wheelchair. Buffy rolled her eyes when she saw it. Giles helped her out of the car and smiled at her.
“You aren’t going to argue with me this time, are you?”
“Would it do any good?” She asked through gritted teeth.
“Absolutely none.” He chuckled softly and lowered her into the chair. He looked up at the nurse and exhaled deeply. “Dr. Kiffling?”
The nurse smiled and gave him a quick nod as she pushed the chair through the sliding doors. “Everything is ready, Mr. Giles. Which I suspect is a good thing, because it looks like it’s not going to be long now.”
Giles took a deep breath and reached down to take Buffy’s hand as he walked beside of her to the elevators.
* * *
Faith sat down next to Angel and looked around the now nearly full waiting room. Willow and Oz sat on one lounge, Maria sleeping in her father’s arms. Xander and Anya were talking quietly with one another, Haddie dozing on Anya’s lap. Braden and Lucas were playing happily with Peter and Julian. Amelia walked in and, after giving Faith a smile, sat down next to Julian.
Faith watched the two men play with the boys, a smile on her face. There was a story there, she was sure. She was also sure that she’d love to hear about it one day.
She looked up at Angel and nudged him with her elbow. “Get things worked out with the Gileses?”
He smiled and glanced at Braden. “Not entirely, but I’ve made some headway.”
“Good.” She took a deep breath. “Giles thinks I should take a vacation.”
Angel regarded her carefully and then reached up, gently brushing her dark hair back from her face. “If my opinion matters, I think it’s a good idea. It doesn’t have to be a long break. Just…enough time for you to process everything that’s happened. Give it some serious thought, Faith. Taking the time you need to heal is not a weakness. It’ll make you stronger in the long run.”
Faith opened her mouth to respond, closing it when Giles rushed into the room with a wide grin on his face. Everyone turned to him, Braden and Lucas quickly making their way to his side. He reached down and gently picked up his daughter, kissing her warm cheek before casting his gaze across the room.
“Evan Alistair Giles. Seven pounds, ten ounces. Healthy set of lungs. Buffy is extremely tired, but she did a wonderful job.” He grinned proudly. “Give us a few minutes and then I’ll come retrieve you for a visit.”
Haddie looked at her father sleepily. “Ebbie!”
He nodded as he laughed, nudging his two older boys towards the door. “Yes, Evan’s here. Let’s go see him and Mummy.”
As four members of the Giles family exited the room, Willow’s eyes widened. “Ebbie. She was saying ‘Evan’ the other day…not ‘baby’!”
Xander’s shoulders slumped. “No Xandetta, no Xanadu, no Alec, no Alexander.”
Faith stared at him. “Xanadu?”
Anya grinned and patted Xander’s thigh. “Maybe not, but…they did use Alistair.”
Oz smirked as Willow laughed. “Xand…they named him Alistair. Alistair…which is the Gaelic form of…Alexander.”
Xander looked lost for a moment and then a smile crept onto his face.
Buffy smiled as Braden and Lucas climbed onto the bed. Giles chuckled as Haddie squirmed in his arms, making it obvious that she wanted to be on the bed as well. When he noticed Buffy’s questioning gaze, he shrugged his shoulder and sat down on the edge of the bed.
“Anya was in my office when I was making the final room preparations over the phone. When I requested a larger bed, her first response was…” He glanced down at the two boys and blushed lightly. “Well, I’m sure you can imagine what her first response was.”
Buffy grinned and shifted Evan slightly so that his brothers could get a better look at him. “I take it that you told her it was for this very reason?”
“Mm. I’m not sure she believed me, however.” He placed Haddie on the bed and smiled as she quickly made her way over Buffy’s legs and crawled up to sit next to Lucas.
Lucas tilted his head and regarded the baby closely. “He’s liddle.”
Braden reached out and gently touched his baby brother’s hand. “All babies are little, Luke.”
Buffy smiled as she nodded. “You were little when you were a baby, Lucas. In fact, Evan is a little bigger than you were.”
Lucas looked at her in pure disbelief. “Imma big boy!”
Giles laughed softly. “Yes, you are. Do you remember when Hadley was born and how small she was?”
Lucas turned and nodded slowly. “Yeah.”
“And look how much bigger she is now.”
Lucas looked at his sister and shook his head. “She’s still liddle. Liddler than me.”
Giles nodded, amusement showing in his eyes. “But she’s bigger than she was.”
“I big!” Haddie stated as she continued to stare at Evan. “Ebbie coot.”
Buffy glanced at Braden, who was seemingly mesmerized with the baby, and then met Giles’ eyes, tilting her head towards their oldest child. Giles gave her a wink and looked at Braden.
“Ru, would you like to hold him?”
Braden turned his head quickly to his father, his green eyes shining brightly as he nodded. “Yes!”
Giles nodded and motioned to the head of the bed as he stood and gently took the baby from Buffy. “Sit up there.”
Braden shifted until his back was resting against the headboard, excitement radiating off of him. Giles placed a tender kiss on Evan’s forehead and then carefully transferred him to Braden’s waiting arms.
“Remember to support his head.”
Braden lovingly cradled his brother and gazed down at him. “Hi, Evan. I’m Braden. I’m your big brother.”
Evan opened his eyes briefly and then curled his hand into a tiny fist. Braden smiled and looked up at Buffy.
“I hope he likes me.”
Buffy reached out and ran her fingers through Braden’s curling hair. “I’m sure he does. He probably recognizes your voice from when you would talk to him and read him stories at night.”
Braden grinned happily and leaned down to kiss the baby’s cheek. Lucas caught his mother’s eye and smiled.
“Can I ‘old ‘im too?”
Buffy raised an eyebrow as she chuckled. “Could you have sounded any more English?”
Giles laughed at the confused expression on Lucas’ face. “Don’t worry, son. There’s nothing wrong with sounding English. Especially when you live in England and your father is English. It’s something to be proud of.”
Lucas nodded and turned back to Buffy. “I sound like Daddy!”
Buffy chuckled again. “Yes, you do. That’s not a bad thing. And…yes, you can hold Evan. Come up here and sit next to Braden.”
Once Lucas was settled, Giles helped Braden put Evan in Lucas’ arms. Giles smiled brightly as Braden spoke softly to Lucas.
“Make sure you support his head like this.” He moved Lucas’ left arm until it was in the right position to offer enough support.
Giles met Buffy’s eyes as she carefully pulled Haddie into her arms. “I love you, Buffy.”
She smiled as her eyes glistened, running her fingers through Haddie’s soft hair as the little girl yawned. “I love you too, Giles.”
He leaned over and gave her a soft kiss, smiling as Lucas whispered to his baby brother. He pulled back and looked over his family. Lucas holding Evan, Braden sitting to Lucas’ right, Haddie wedged between Buffy and Lucas.
He sighed in contentment, looking into Buffy’s eyes as her hand gently touched his chest. He cleared his throat and covered her hand with his.
“I’m rather sure I’ve never been as happy as I am at this very moment.”
“I know what you mean.” Buffy smiled brightly, even though her eyes conveyed how tired she was. “Everyone here?”
“Mm-hm. Well, except for Ethan and Anna. I called him to let him know…it went straight to voicemail. I suppose that they’re out of range at the moment. I left a message though.”
Buffy nodded and inhaled deeply. “Visitation time?”
“In a few minutes.” He whispered softly. “I…this may sound somewhat selfish, but…I’m enjoying this. Just us and our children. I want this for just a little longer…if that’s alright with you.”
She smiled softly and gently rubbed his chest. “Perfectly alright with me.”
He returned her smile and leaned into her, kissing her once more.
* * *
Xander beamed proudly as he held Evan in his arms. “You could’ve told me, you know. It would’ve saved me from coming up with some really bad names.”
Buffy laughed and leaned her head against Giles’ upper arm. “And where would the surprise have been then?”
Xander lowered his eyes to the baby and sighed happily. “When did you decide?”
“The night he was conceived.”
Anya narrowed her eyes. “You were thinking about Xander while you were having sex?”
Giles darted his eyes to his older children, exhaling a breath of relief to find that all three of them were asleep. He shook his head and cleared his throat.
“No, I think it can be safe to say we were not thinking about Xander during…”
“Well, that’s good because you two thinking about Xander while you’re having hot, sweaty sex is just weird.”
Giles stared at her. Oz had his perpetual smirk. Willow and Buffy both started laughing. Anya looked at them in confusion.
“What? It is! I mean – ”
“Would you like to hold the baby, An?” Xander interrupted quickly, a look of horror on his face at the thought of what was getting ready to come out of her mouth.
Anya smiled brightly and nodded. When she saw the amused smile on Giles’ face, she shrugged.
“I hold babies now. Because they don’t break. Unless you drop them, which I’m careful not to do.”
Giles chuckled and shook his head. “That’s very good to know, Anya.”
“And Xander said that when I got over my fear of babies we’d talk about having one of our own.”
* * *
A couple of hours after everyone had left the hospital, Faith quietly entered Buffy’s room. She smiled at the sight before her.
Braden and Lucas were sleeping soundly on a small portable bed, Giles was snoring softly with Haddie curled up next to him, his arm holding her protectively against him. Buffy was the only one awake, sitting up against the headboard gazing down at the newborn suckling at her breast.
She looked up when Faith walked in. “Hey.”
“Hey, uh…sorry, I can come back later.” She whispered softly.
Buffy shook her head and gestured to the chair next to the bed. “No, it’s fine. Have a seat.”
Faith glanced over the sleeping figures again. “I don’t want to wake anyone…”
Buffy snorted in amusement. “Trust me…you’re not going to wake them up.”
Faith nodded slowly and sank down onto the chair. “How long you in here for?”
“Just tonight. They like to make sure that the baby’s feeding properly before they release new mothers.” She glanced down at Evan and smiled. “And…he’s feeding properly.”
“He’s a cute kid, B. All of ‘em are.” When Buffy looked up, Faith smiled. “Xander was showing me pictures of his namesake when they came back out to the waiting room.”
Buffy’s eyes sparkled in the soft light. “He’s pretty excited about that, isn’t he?”
Faith grinned. “Yeah, you could say that. So, uh…how are you feeling?”
“Not bad. I’ll be back to normal within a few days.” She tilted her head slightly and looked into Faith’s eyes. “How are you feeling?”
“Numb.” She admitted quietly. “I keep waiting for him to walk in and make some comment about stakes laying around everywhere. I…it’s hard.”
Buffy nodded and then silence fell over them for a few minutes. There were no words that could be said. Death was a part of life, but that didn’t make the loss any easier to bear. After a while, Faith took a deep breath and leaned back in the chair.
“I think I’m going to take Giles’ advice. Go on a vacation, regroup…try to deal with all of this.”
Buffy gently shifted Evan when he released her nipple, rubbing his back until he gave a small burp. “It’s a good idea. Do you know where you’re going?”
Faith shook her head and then exhaled slowly. “No…but, Angel’s going with me.”
Buffy raised an eyebrow. “Oh?”
“Yeah. He’s going to help me keep up my training…and…he’s worried that I might need someone to talk to and not have anyone.”
Buffy smiled softly. “I think that’s a good idea too. It wouldn’t be bad for Angel either. The vacation and regrouping part. I don’t think he did much regrouping after Los Angeles.”
Faith glanced at Evan when he whimpered softly before settling back down.
“He told me what he said to Braden.”
Buffy looked down at her sleeping husband and sighed. “Yeah, I think what he said to Braden meant a lot to Giles as well. And me.”
“He meant it, you know? Everything he said to Braden, he meant.”
“Yeah, I had no doubt about his sincerity.” Buffy stated, unsure where Faith was going with the conversation.
She didn’t have to wait long to find out.
Faith blew out a breath, pulling a piece of paper from her pocket and handing it to Buffy. “He asked me to give this to you. Because of what he told Braden.”
Buffy narrowed her eyes and looked at the paper. “It’s a phone number.”
“It’s Angel’s cell number. He promised Braden that he’d be there for him. This way, he knows that if he’s needed, someone can get hold of him.”
Buffy looked up, realization dawning on her. “When are you leaving?”
“First thing in the morning. Angel’s getting things ready…like a car that’s safe for vampires.”
“Oh.” Buffy responded, sadness tinging her voice. “I didn’t realize it would be that soon.”
Faith lowered her eyes. “That’s kinda my fault. I’m…kinda close to breaking down and I really don’t want anyone to see it. I gotta leave now.”
Buffy nodded absently, a thought creeping its way into her mind. “Your potentials…”
“Amelia is having them reassigned for me. Look, I don’t know how long we’ll be gone, but…you can get in touch with us if you need us.” She smiled and leaned forward, running a fingertip across Evan’s cheek. “I wanted to say goodbye and not just leave a stupid letter.”
“Thank you.” Buffy whispered. “If you need anything…call.”
Faith stood and looked over the family once more. “I will. You’ve got a great family here, B. I’m happy for you. All of you.” She smiled warmly and walked to the door. “I’ll see ya.”
Buffy nodded, whispering ‘see ya’ in return as Faith slipped out the door. Buffy took a deep breath and exhaled slowly before slipping out of bed to place Evan in the crib. She watched him for a few minutes and then climbed back into bed and snuggled into Giles’ side that wasn’t occupied by their daughter.
He murmured incoherently, turning his head to press a kiss to her hair in his sleep. She smiled and closed her eyes.
Buffy kicked her mud-caked boots off on the front porch and reached into her pocket for her keys. It had been an unusually busy night in Richmond…two demons that she’d need Giles to research for her and five vampires. One of the vampires had said something, she narrowed her eyes as she tried to remember the phrase as she unlocked the front door and stepped into the darkened house.
“Mushed Tony?” She whispered to herself, shrugging off her jacket and hanging it on the coat rack. “Yeah, ‘cause that makes so much sense.”
She shook her head and made her way through the house, stopping at each child’s room to check on them.
Braden was snoring softly and had kicked his blankets off. Buffy smiled and tucked him back in, leaning down and kissing his forehead before leaving his room. She closed the door behind her and opened Lucas’. She laughed softly, shaking her head in amusement.
Lucas was lying on his stomach, his knees tucked under him with his head using his stuffed wolf as a pillow. She carefully repositioned him, chuckling when he whimpered in protest. She gave him a kiss and gently stroked his hair as he resettled.
Haddie was curled up on her side, her arms holding Glowy tightly. Buffy sighed softly, gazing down at her only daughter. Her hair was getting longer, the ends curling around her shoulders. She made a mental note to talk to Giles about getting it trimmed. She kissed the little girl’s cheek and tucked the blanket around her small body.
Evan’s room was the closest to his parents’ room, but the last to be checked just in case he happened to be awake. She opened the door slowly and poked her head inside to find him sleeping soundly. She made her way to the crib and smiled down at him as she watched his tiny hand make a fist and then uncurl, only to repeat the action.
He didn’t have much hair at the moment, but what he did have was the dark, golden blonde color of his sister’s. He had his father’s ears and his mother’s chin and nose. Like his siblings, his eyes were green. At the moment, they were a shade lighter than Lucas’. Buffy suspected that they would darken until they reached the same shade of Braden’s eyes.
She wanted to pick him up to give him a cuddle, but knew if she did, he’d wake up. Of their four children, Evan was the best sleeper as a baby. Sounds didn’t wake him, but if he were picked up, he would wake instantly. She lovingly stroked his cheek and kissed the top of his head. After checking to make sure the monitor was on, she left his room and closed the door.
She opened the door to her bedroom and smiled. Giles was asleep, his glasses on and a book on his chest. She undressed quickly and slipped into the bed beside of him. She picked up the book and chuckled at the fact that he was reading ‘Salem’s Lot by Stephen King. As if they didn’t have enough vampire activity in their lives. When she reached up to remove his glasses, his eyes fluttered open.
“Hey.” She smiled and held the book up. “A book about vampires as reading in bed material?”
He returned her smile, plucking the book from her hand and tossing it onto the bedside table. “I find it amusing.”
She leaned over him, placing his glasses next to the discarded book. “You would.”
He lifted his hand and brushed his fingers through her hair. “How was patrol?”
“Strangely busy tonight.”
He pushed himself up, concern on his face as he quickly roamed his eyes over her. “Are you alright?”
She smiled and quickly leaned into him, covering his mouth with hers. Her hand moved to his groin and she groaned into his mouth before pulling back and looking into his eyes. She glanced down at her hand and gently squeezed his erection.
“Were you having a nice dream?”
He nodded slowly, thrusting involuntarily against her hand. “You could say that.”
“What were you dreaming?”
He licked his lips and darted his eyes to her bare chest. “Let’s just say I was being voyeuristic.” His hand moved to her full breast, his thumb brushing over her nipple.
She moved over him, straddling his thighs and smiled as she jutted her chest towards his mouth. “Go ahead.”
He arched an eyebrow and looked into her eyes. “You, uh…you’ve never liked it…”
She rubbed her wet core over his pajama-clad erection and licked her lips. “Giles…please.”
His eyes darkened, his hands moving to her hips. “What happened on patrol?”
“A few things I need to talk to you about. Later. Right now…I really need you to make love to me. And I really want your mouth on me…”
His hands tightened on her hips and he leaned forward, flicking his tongue against a hardened nipple. Hearing her whispered ‘please’, he closed his eyes and pulled the nub into his mouth.
As he gently suckled, she rocked her hips harder against him. “God, yes…so good, Giles…”
He felt her warmth as her moisture seeped through his pajama pants. He groaned and released her nipple.
“Buffy…” He panted heavily, his eyes dark with desire.
She smiled and rose up on her knees. “God, I want you.”
He understood her unspoken request and pushed his pants down over his hips, exposing his raging erection. With her arms draped over his shoulders, she quickly lowered herself and rubbed her wet core over his cock.
His fingers dug into her hips, his eyes closed and his head resting against the headboard. “Dear Lord, Buffy…”
She grinned and stopped her movement, the head of his cock nudging at her entrance. “Were you dreaming about me?”
His eyes opened and he nodded slowly. Her grin widened.
“What was I doing?”
His tongue darted out and wet his dry lips. “Having sex with another woman.”
Buffy’s eyes widened slightly. “Oh? Who was the other woman?”
“I, uh…I don’t know…”
She chuckled softly and wriggled her hips, teasing the head of his cock. “And that resulted in this?”
He inhaled sharply and quickly pulled her down, embedding himself within her. “Yes, God yes…”
She hissed in pleasure as he filled her. They remained still for a few moments, looking into one another’s eyes. She rocked her hips slowly, the slight movement barely noticeable.
“You…want me to have sex with another woman?”
He took a deep breath and held her tightly, rolling their bodies until she was underneath him, her head resting on the pillow as her thighs cradled his hips. He shook his head slowly.
“Not necessarily. Just…just a fantasy that most men tend to have.”
She smiled knowingly. “Kinda like the dream I have about you with some random guy?”
“Mm. Yes…something like that.” He mumbled as he began to thrust his hips against her.
“Tell me about it?” She asked softly, arching to meet each thrust.
“Later.” He grunted, lowering his mouth to her neck. “Just want you.”
She rolled her head to the side, giving him more access to her neck. Her hands roamed across his back as his tongue traced the pale flesh of the scar.
“I love you.” She whispered as he covered the scar with his mouth, gently sucking at the tender flesh.
His response was muffled against her neck as he lengthened his strokes, moving his hand to her hip to change the angle somewhat. She moaned her appreciation and raked the nails of her right hand across his buttock.
His hips jerked in response, sending him deeper within her. She repeated the action and he gently bit the raised flesh held between his teeth.
“Harder, Giles…God…harder!” She whispered urgently.
She felt his groan rumble against her chest as he complied, sinking his teeth into her skin. Her left hand moved to cradle the back of his head as her hips bucked against him.
“Yes! God, just like that, Giles!”
His pace increased, his thrusts shortening slightly. When he recognized the distinct taste of copper on his tongue, he lifted his head and looked down at her neck.
“You’re…bleeding.” He whispered softly.
She turned her head to look at him. “Kiss me.”
He groaned and covered her mouth with his, plunging his tongue inside. She ran her tongue along his, intrigued by the faint taste of copper. Her nails scratched his scalp as she lifted her legs, changing the angle once more.
His hand moved from her hip, sliding underneath her. She broke the kiss with a gasp as his middle finger grazed over her anus.
He glanced at her neck, relieved to see that he had actually just lightly broken the skin and it had already stopped bleeding. He looked into her eyes, slowing his thrusts until he was barely moving inside of her and nudged the puckered orifice with his fingertip.
“I love you so much, Buffy.”
She gave a strangled response as his finger carefully pushed past the sphincter. Her hand moved to his shoulder and gripped tightly. He watched her face for any sign of discomfort, smiling when he found none.
She trembled when he began thrusting his finger. He swallowed thickly, his voice gravelled when he spoke.
She nodded and licked her lips. “More…”
He groaned softly, his hips moving in time with his finger…a slow pace with alternating thrusts. “How much more?”
She gazed into his eyes, lifting her hand to cradle his cheek. “Everything…I want everything…”
He leaned into her touch before turning his head and pressing a kiss into her palm. He eased his finger out of her, much to her disappointment. He smiled softly and lovingly rubbed her thigh as he rocked his hips harder against her.
“I want to feel you, Buffy.” He leaned down and brushed his lips across hers. “I want to feel you come…and then I’ll give you everything you want…”
“Oh, God…” She moaned, her orgasm rapidly building as he varied the depth and speed of his thrusts. “Giles…so close…”
He nodded and lowered his head, flicking his tongue against her earlobe before he whispered huskily. “As soon as you come…as soon as I feel you come…”
Her nails scraped across his back, her hips lifting to meet each thrust. “Giles…”
“Tell me, Buffy…tell me what you want after you come…” He felt her inner muscles quiver and he smiled. “Or…do you want me to tell you what I want after you come?”
He pulled her earlobe into his mouth, suckling lightly on the tender flesh as he slammed his hips against her. “I want to fuck your ass, Buffy.”
She groaned loudly, her quivers intensifying. His hand tightened on her hip.
“I want to take my come-slicked cock and slide it into your ass…and fuck you…slowly. God, so slowly until you come again.”
“God, yes, Buffy…come for me…let me feel you come.” He growled into her ear.
Her nails dug into his back as her orgasm crashed over her, as if on command. He continued thrusting, basking in the sensation of her fluids bathing his cock.
“That’s it, love…” He whispered, concentrating on holding his own orgasm at bay. “Christ, Buffy…”
Her fingers flexed against his back as she shuddered violently underneath him. “Now, Giles…please…now…”
He nodded and withdrew, hissing as the relatively cool air hit his heated flesh. He shifted slightly, grabbing a pillow and placing it under her hips. He stroked his cock twice before taking a deep breath and nudging the head against her anus.
He watched her face closely as her hands twisted in the sheets. He eased forward, groaning deeply as he slipped past the sphincter muscle.
Her left hand gripped his right forearm as she stared into his eyes. “Don’t stop…”
He gave her a nod, slowly pressing forward. “Not going to take long…”
As her mind processed his words and his apologetic tone, she lifted her right hand and gently stroked his chest. “Me neither…”
He felt her tense around him. That and the tone of her words made him understand her whispered statement. She was as close as he was.
Once he was completely embedded, he leaned down and kissed her. “Ready?”
She nodded, her eyes glazing over as he pushed himself back up until he was kneeling between her legs. His hands gripped her hips tightly and he began to thrust slowly into her. His eyes darted to her heaving chest, enjoying the sight of her full, firm breasts jostling with the motion.
He moved his left hand to the soft curls between her legs, allowing his thumb to slip into the wet folds to find her clitoris. She shivered as he pressed on the hardened bundle of nerves.
He pressed harder, rubbing small circles against her clit as he continued his slow thrusts. “Buffy…”
She met his eyes and nodded, understanding that he was quickly reaching his orgasm. “Make me come…with you…”
As soon as the words left her mouth, she shuddered violently and pulled his pillow over her face to muffle her screams of ecstasy. That’s all it took for Giles. Watching her body writhe beneath him, her skin tinged pink from exertion…he grabbed the pillow and tossed it aside, quickly leaning over her and covering her mouth with his.
They swallowed one another’s screams of pleasure as he came deep within her.
* * *
Thirty minutes later, their breathing had calmed and she was lying next to him with one leg between his and her head resting on his chest. He had his arm wrapped around her, his fingers lightly stroking her upper arm.
“How long has Evan been asleep?”
He glanced at the clock and smiled. “Nearly four hours.”
He chuckled softly, nodding in agreement. Her finger traced the edges of the scar on his chest.
“Hm?” He sighed in contentment. He looked down at her when she hesitated. “What is it, Buffy?”
She exhaled slowly. “Would you…um…want to see me with another woman?”
“No.” He answered softly.
She lifted her head and shifted so she could look into his eyes. “No?”
“It’s a fantasy, Buffy. Granted, I find the thought tantalizing…as most men would. But, I would hesitate to bring anyone else into our bed.” He reached up and brushed her still-damp hair back from her face. “Bringing a third person into a relationship only complicates things…no matter how much the couple thinks they want it.”
She thought for a moment and then bit her lip. He smiled softly and tapped her lip with his index finger.
She smiled and shrugged a shoulder. “Is that why you’ve never given serious thought to, uh…”
He stopped her quickly with a shake of his head. “No. The reason I’ve never given serious thought to that is due to the fact that I’ve not had the urge. Another man is not what I want. You are all I want…or need.”
He took a deep breath and exhaled. “I appreciate the fact that you are understanding about my chequered past, but it’s just that…my past. I have no interest in revisiting that time of my life.”
She nodded slowly, a smile appearing on her face. “You okay if I still fantasize about it once in a while?”
“It would be somewhat hypocritical of me to say ‘no’, wouldn’t it?” He chuckled and pulled her up to give her a kiss. “Perhaps you should tell me about your patrol?”
She nodded and pushed herself up, resting her back against the headboard. He did the same, listening intently as she described both demons she had encountered. He took detailed notes and vowed to begin research first thing in the morning. He narrowed his eyes when she mentioned the five vampires and the mysterious phrase.
She rolled her eyes. “I’m pretty sure that’s not what he said. It’s what it kinda sounded like though. You know…like Risenbridt sounds like raisin bread.”
Giles scribbled that down in his notes as well. “Nothing comes to mind immediately. I’ll ask Amelia about it tomorrow. Maybe it will trigger something for her.”
A soft whimper sounded through the monitor. Giles placed his journal on the bedside table and ran his hand through his hair. Buffy gently rubbed her swollen breast causing Giles to arch an eyebrow at her.
She smiled back at him and slipped out of bed, reaching for her robe. “I was hoping he’d be hungry soon. I was beginning to think I was going to have to express.”
He watched her slip into her robe and tie the belt around her waist. “Mind if I come with?”
She grinned as she shook her head. He threw the blankets back and climbed out of bed, glancing down at the stained pajama pants. He smiled sheepishly.
“Um…maybe I should change first. I’ll meet you in Evan’s room?”
Buffy laughed softly, opening the door as Evan’s whimpers threatened to turn to cries. Giles shook his head in amusement as he opened a dresser drawer and pulled out a clean pair of pajama bottoms.
One thing was certain. Life with Buffy was never dull.