Timeline: Three months after The Token.
Synopsis: Braden convinces Lucas to talk to their parents about his ‘problem’.
“What the hell were you thinking?”
Giles flinched as Buffy dabbed at the bleeding wound just below his temple with an antiseptic swab. He groaned as the flinch caused the mild twinge in his shoulder to become a sharp, stabbing pain.
“Well, I wasn’t thinking that I’d let a Quandesh demon use my head for target practice, if that’s what you’re inferring.” He snapped.
She narrowed her eyes and pulled back as he tenderly rubbed his shoulder. “No, that wasn’t what I was inferring, smartass.”
He met her eyes, annoyance flickering in his. “Why are you angry with me?”
Buffy sighed heavily and dropped the bloody swab into the wastebasket that she had pulled out from under the desk and placed next to the couch. “Because you just snapped at me!”
“Before that, Buffy. You’ve been angry with me since you disassembled the demon. What have I done?”
She opened her mouth, closed it, and then opened it again as she ripped open a fresh swab. “I wasn’t…I’m not angry.”
He raised an eyebrow at her softly spoken statement. “Seems that way.”
She shook her head, not meeting his eyes as she cleaned the drying blood from the side of his face. “I’m not angry, Giles. You…you were bleeding…”
“I was scared.” She whispered, glancing at his eyes quickly before looking back at the laceration on his head. “He threw a rock at you…and it hit you…and then there was a sick sounding ‘crunch’…and then blood…and…”
He felt his annoyance melt away as her voice trembled. Lifting his hand, he brushed the backs of his fingers over her warm cheek.
“I’m sorry, Buffy.” He took a shallow breath and licked his cracked lip. “You were in danger, I…I had to draw his attention so that the momentum of the fight would shift back to you.”
She nodded slowly, understanding why he did what he did, but still not liking it. “Sometimes I wish you were just my husband…”
He tilted his head slightly in a silent request for her to continue. She exhaled softly and checked the wound once more to find that the flow of blood had stopped.
“It used to upset me when my Watcher got hurt…and then my Watcher became my lover, then my fiancé, then my husband…and then the father of my children. And now, when my Watcher gets hurt, it scares the hell out of me because when something bad happens to him, something bad happens to my husband. And if you were just my husband, then when my Watcher got hurt, you’d be okay…because you would just be my husband and the father of my children.”
He stared at her for a moment and then chuckled softly. She rolled her eyes and closed the first aid kit.
“It makes sense in my head, okay?”
He leaned forward slowly, carefully to avoid aggravating his shoulder any further, and brushed his lips across hers. “I understand, love.”
She looked into his eyes, her vision blurring slightly from the tears building in them. “I just love you so much, Giles. And I’m sorry if you thought I was angry…”
“Ssh…” He murmured, brushing away a tear from her skin with his thumb. “I apologize for snapping at you.”
“It’s okay.” She whispered, running her hand up his chest. When she felt his muscles tense under her touch, she sighed. “I should probably have a look at your shoulder.”
“I’m sure it’s merely bruised…not much that can be done for that.”
Buffy ran her fingertips along his collarbone, pausing when she felt a small lump. She repeated the motion, a small smile showing on her lips as she determined the lump to be evidence of a broken collarbone from many years earlier.
“Worried that I’d broken it again?”
“Yeah.” She answered, her fingers continuing their exploration as she looked into his eyes. “But, glad to see that you haven’t. I’d still like to have a closer look at your shoulder though. Do you think you can take the shirt off or do I need to cut it off?”
He started to lift his arms, stopping when the pain became too great. He sighed sadly as Buffy picked up a pair of scissors.
“I like this shirt.”
“I remember where I got it.” She replied as she quickly and carefully cut through the material. “I can get you another one, okay?”
He looked down at his right shoulder when she pulled the ruined shirt away, his eyes widening. “Well, it looks worse than I was expecting.”
Buffy bit her bottom lip as she carefully examined the mottled purplish-black bruise covering the cap of his shoulder. “Giles…you might need to see a doctor for this. If you’ve done damage to the joint itself…”
“I’m fairly certain that I haven’t.” He interrupted as he watched her fingers gently prod at his bruised flesh.
Seeing movement out of the corner of his eye, Giles looked towards the hall to find their oldest child watching them in concern. “Braden?”
Braden sighed and stepped further into the living room as Buffy looked over at him. “You’re hurt.”
“Not badly.” Giles replied softly. “Just a small – ”
“Cut on the left side of your head…right about here.” Braden finished for him, pointing to a spot on his own head.
Giles furrowed his brow. “How long have you been standing there?”
“Not long. Mum was cutting your shirt…”
Buffy glanced at Giles before looking into Braden’s eyes. “But, how did you know about your father’s head?”
“Luke told me.”
Giles and Buffy both quickly scanned the room. Braden swallowed thickly.
“He’s asleep.” He sat down on the coffee table and looked down at his hands. “I don’t know the name of the demon, but…Luke said it was kind of short, but looked a little like a bulldog the way it stood. Greyish-yellow in color, one horn coming out of the back of its head that looks like a corkscrew going down its back.”
Buffy’s eyes widened as Giles stared at Braden.
“Quandesh. It was a Quandesh demon. How…how did you…”
Braden took a deep breath and then met his father’s eyes. “Luke’s afraid for you to know. I’ve told him that you wouldn’t think he was a weirdo or anything, but…he’s scared.”
“Tell us, Ru.” Buffy whispered, reaching out to take his hand.
“He’s gonna be so mad at me.” Braden’s green eyes glistened as he continued. “He…has dreams. Sometimes they’re worse than others. And…not all of them come true, but…some of them do.”
Braden lowered his eyes, his voice softening. “This one…and he dreamt about the guy who took him and Evan.”
Silence fell over the room. Braden worrying about betraying his younger brother, Buffy too shocked to say anything, and Giles running through the options available.
“Do you think you could convince him to talk to us?”
Braden shrugged as he looked up at Giles. “I’ve tried.”
Giles nodded absently. “What if you were to tell him that he was right about the Quandesh demon? Maybe explain to him that he could help us by telling us the dreams that feel real to him?”
“Or I could just tell him that I told you.”
Buffy offered her son a gentle smile. “I think that your Dad is trying to keep that between us.”
“Huh?” Braden asked, genuinely confused as he glanced between his parents.
“You’re worried about Lucas not coming to you anymore if he finds out that you told us, right?” Buffy gently squeezed his hand as he nodded slowly. “Well, if you can get him to talk to us…”
Braden’s eyes lit up. “You wouldn’t tell him?”
Giles shook his head slowly. “Not unless it was absolutely necessary. And…I don’t see how it would be in this instance.”
Braden quickly launched himself at his father, wrapping his arms around his neck. Unprepared for the display of affection, Giles groaned as his shoulder screamed at him. Braden pulled back, concern showing in his eyes.
“I’m sorry, Dad. I forgot…”
Giles shook his head as he smiled, gently pulling his son back into his arms. “A hug is worth a little pain. Don’t worry about it, Ru.”
* * *
Giles grimaced as he settled himself on the bed, Buffy lying on her side next to him. She bit her lip as she stared at the cut on his head. The bleeding had stopped hours ago, but the bruise was growing. It had to hurt like hell.
He exhaled slowly and then swallowed. “Lucas has had nightmares from the time he was a small child. I wonder how many of his dreams have…come true.”
He turned his head to look at her, his eyes glistening with unshed tears. “What horrors has he seen, but been too afraid to say anything to us?”
“I don’t know.” Buffy whispered, gently stroking his cheek with her thumb. “But, we’ll work through it…and he’ll be okay. He’s a Giles.”
“He dreamed that a Brishkan demon threatened his life…along with Evan’s.” Giles choked out as a tear finally spilled over his eyelid.
“Yeah…he did.” Buffy nodded slowly, glancing at the edge of the bed to find Callie standing there with her chin resting on the mattress. “And I know how scary that is…so do you. But, we’ve both learned to work through our dreams…figure out which ones are real and which are just dreams.”
“He’s eight years old, Buffy. He shouldn’t have to learn how to work through his dreams. He should be dreaming about wrestling with his brothers or tormenting his sister or playing fetch with Callie…family picnics, sports…anything but demons.”
Buffy sighed and leaned into him, gently kissing his lips. “He’s our son, Giles. Unfortunately, demons are a part of our lives.”
He narrowed his eyes. “Why are you so calm?”
“Because you’re not.” She answered quietly. “Trust me, I’m not so calm on the inside. But, one of the many things that I’ve learned from you is the fact that demons need not rule our lives. Sure, we have to deal with them…but, our lives don’t have to revolve around them.”
“Living with me is enough of a challenge, Giles. Don’t add to it, okay?” She interrupted him with a gentle smile. “We have a life outside of demons and the Council. We have each other…we have four beautiful children…we have friends who are more family than friends…”
“But, sometimes that aspect of our lives bleeds into what we have.” Giles replied sadly. “Braden is studying to be a Watcher, Haddie is able to connect with spirits, and Lucas…Lucas has dreams.”
“I wonder what Evan’s special power will be?” Buffy stated softly in an attempt to lighten the mood.
“Melting hearts with his smile.”
Buffy smiled and then furrowed her brow. “I hope you don’t mean that literally…”
To her surprise, Giles snorted a laugh. Her attempt had been successful. She leaned over and wiped the drying track of tears from his face.
“Now…how do you feel? Your head, your shoulder…”
He offered her a warm smile. “I feel better than I probably look. There is some pain, but whatever you gave me has gotten rid of the worst of it.”
“Thank Ethan and Willow for that.”
Giles raised an eyebrow at her. “Excuse me?”
Buffy chuckled softly as she settled next to him, her hand caressing his chest as she rested her head on his uninjured shoulder. “Ethan got a little worried when he opened the medicine cabinet a while back. Apparently, there were too many bottles of prescription painkillers with your name on them.”
“Mm-hm…and most of those bottles were full and out of date.” He murmured as he kissed the top of her head.
“Didn’t matter…it bothered him that they were there. Said that he remembered how narcotics reacted with you…so, he and Willow got together and started working on a safe painkiller.” She smiled as she draped her arm over his torso and closed her eyes. “Glad to see they came up with something that works.”
Giles yawned and curled his arm around her, holding her to his body. “Would’ve been nice if they’d come up with something ten years ago.”
“Better late than never.” She whispered, smiling as he grunted a reply. “Get some sleep, Giles. You need your rest.”
He sighed heavily but closed his eyes. Buffy opened hers when she heard Callie give a soft whimper. She rolled her eyes and gave a quick motion with her hand.
Callie lifted her head from the mattress and jumped onto the bed. She started her routine of turning circles and Buffy glared at her. When Callie made her tenth turn, she groaned.
“For God’s sake, Callie…just lay down.”
Callie gave a deep huff and flopped down next to Giles’ feet, resting her chin over his ankle.
The following morning, Lucas’ eyes widened as his father walked into the living room. “Dad?”
Giles offered him a smile, glancing at Buffy who was sitting next to Lucas on the couch. “It looks worse than it is, son.”
Lucas’ bottom lip trembled as his eyes took in the deep purple bruise on the side of his father’s face. Giles’ smile faded and he moved quickly across the room, sitting next to Lucas and wrapping his left arm around the boy’s shoulders.
“Lucas, I’m okay…I promise.” He closed his eyes as Lucas broke into sobs, wrapping his small arms around his father and holding on as tightly as he could. “Oh, Lucas…don’t cry, son.”
As he stroked his son’s back, he kissed the top of his head and met Buffy’s eyes. “The others?”
“We heard you get up…Braden and Callie took Haddie and Evan into the playroom to work on their welcome home banner for Ethan and Michael for a while before breakfast and school.”
Giles furrowed his brow. “Ethan and Michael?”
“Yeah…remember, I told you yesterday afternoon that they were coming over? Presents for the kids from their trip?”
He shook his head slowly. “No…I don’t remember. But, it’s okay…”
“Is it?” Buffy asked softly, concern in her voice and light fear in her eyes. “What do you remember?”
He looked down at the eight year old boy in his arms and sighed. “I remember that we have things to discuss.” He lifted his gaze back to Buffy’s and swallowed. “And…we’ll figure out the rest a little later?”
Buffy shook her head as she looked into his eyes. “No, I…”
“Please, Buffy.” He interrupted gently and pointedly glanced at their son, whose sobs had started to ebb. “This is far more important than some minor memory loss.”
She started to argue, but then realized that he was right.
“Lucas?” Giles whispered softly, his large hand rubbing the boy’s back lovingly.
Lucas took a deep breath and pulled out of his father’s embrace. He wiped the tears from his eyes and sat back on the couch, staring at his hands as he wrung them nervously.
Buffy gently stroked his hair with her fingers, her voice tender when she spoke. “Talk to us, Lucas. Tell us what’s wrong…please?”
Lucas bit his lip as he thought, a gesture that reminded Giles of Buffy. With a heavy sigh, he spoke…but refused to raise his eyes.
“Your shoulder’s hurt too…but, it’ll be okay. It’s just purple…darker than the bruise on your head though.”
Giles nodded in agreement. “How did you know that?”
“I dreamed it.” Lucas answered hesitantly. “I do that sometimes.”
“Why didn’t you tell us?” Buffy questioned, careful not to make him think that she was blaming him.
Lucas shrugged his shoulder and exhaled deeply. “I didn’t want you to think I was a freak.”
Giles placed two fingers under his chin and tilted his head up, forcing Lucas to look at him. “We would never think that you’re a ‘freak’, Lucas. Never.”
Lucas’ eyes glistened. “That’s what Bay said, but…”
“You were still scared?” Buffy asked, running the backs of her fingers over his tear-stained cheek.
Lucas nodded as he looked into his mother’s eyes. “Yeah. But, maybe if I had said something…maybe Daddy wouldn’t be hurt.”
Giles smiled and shook his head. “No, I probably would have done the same thing.”
Lucas looked at him, his brow furrowing in confusion. “Why?”
Giles glanced at Buffy and his smile grew. “It’s…my duty.”
Giles ran his fingers through his son’s wavy hair. “As your mother’s Watcher, it’s my duty to protect her as best I can.”
“Even if that means you get hurt?” Lucas asked, his eyes wide with surprise.
“Well, I try not to get hurt.”
“Tommy’s dad doesn’t get hurt as much as you do.” Lucas said, an almost sad tone in his voice.
Giles felt his heart crack a little. Lucas was beginning to learn the differences between his family and the families of his friends. As much as he and Buffy wanted their children to have normal lives, they never would be completely normal.
Knowing Giles was at a loss for words, Buffy placed a kiss on Lucas’ head. “That’s true, Lucas. But…think of it like this…”
She waited until Lucas turned his green eyes to hers before she continued.
“Daddy may get hurt once in a while, but he gets hurt while helping to keep you and your friends safe.”
Lucas thought about that for a moment and then tilted his head. “Tommy’s dad doesn’t fight demons.”
“No.” Buffy replied, a smile forming on her face. “But, your dad does…so, he’s bound to get hurt once in a while, but he’ll be okay.”
Lucas turned to look at his father, his eyes darting to the bruise that spread over his left ear, and bit his bottom lip again. “Promise you’ll be okay?”
Giles knew that he couldn’t make that promise to his son. He knew that one day one of the demons that he and Buffy faced might well take his life from him. But he also knew that he needed to reassure Lucas. And so he used the tactic that his mother used to use on him when he was younger and asking difficult questions…he deflected.
“Promise you’ll tell us about your dreams? You don’t have to tell us about all of them, but if they scare you…and you think they could come true…”
Lucas smiled, the first real smile he’d given all morning, and nodded. “I promise.”
Giles returned the smile and pulled Lucas onto his lap, wrapping his arms around him in a loving embrace. Lucas didn’t seem to notice that Giles hadn’t actually promised that he’d be okay.
But, Buffy did.
She understood why Giles had deflected the request and as she met his eyes, she smiled and mouthed three words to him. She could easily read the love in his eyes as he mouthed the words back.
She knew that he couldn’t make that promise to their son. But, she knew that he’d try his best to be okay.
* * *
After their talk, Giles had sent Lucas off to get ready for school. Buffy had talked him into having a shower, hoping that the warm water would soothe his aching shoulder. He had asked her to join him, but she just merely laughed at his half-hearted offer stating that in the shape he was in, it probably wasn’t the best idea he’d ever had. Besides, she needed to get breakfast started…Braden and Lucas’ bus would be by in forty-five minutes.
And now, he stood in the shower…alone, with nothing but his thoughts to keep him company. He had to admit that the hot water pelting off his shoulder felt wonderful. Whereas his head stung where the shampoo had found its way into the laceration above his left ear.
He leaned forward and rested his forehead against his left hand, which was pressed against the shower wall. He sighed in pleasure as the water hit his shoulder and then flowed down his back. It was then that he thought of Buffy’s concern when he couldn’t remember that Ethan and Michael were coming over today.
He closed his eyes and tried to remember every detail of the previous day that he could. Maybe he’d be able to find out exactly how extensive the lapse in his memory was. He’d told Buffy not to worry about it, but he couldn’t deny the fact that he was worried as well.
He remembered Buffy cleaning his wound…and the minor disagreement that followed. He remembered his children, his friends…he could recall all birthdays and dates of major events in his life. He smiled sadly as his brother’s birthday popped into his head.
He counted to twenty in each of the five languages he was fluent in. He ran through a mental inventory of the weapons cabinet that was in the basement of their house. A list of demons scrolled through his mind…complete with descriptions of their appearances and weaknesses.
Obviously, his memory loss wasn’t severe. With a soft sigh, he started thinking of the previous day…starting from the moment he had woken up. His heart began to race as he thought of that moment. Buffy’s mouth sliding up and down his morning erection as she coaxed him out of sleep.
Feeling his cock begin to stir, he forced his mind to move forward.
Breakfast…eggs, pancakes…coffee. The kids’ laughter as Buffy told one of the worst jokes Giles had ever heard. Braden excited about the fact that it was ‘Academy day’, Lucas grumbling over the fact that he didn’t want to go to school.
Giles lifted his head and narrowed his eyes in thought. Lucas never grumbled about school. He made a mental note to talk to Buffy about this…
Haddie was asking why she only went to school three days a week and Evan had been giggling…as was his habit. Callie was sitting next to Evan, patiently waiting for the pieces of food that the child would accidentally drop to the floor.
Breakfast yesterday morning was what it normally was…a happy family affair. It was also one of Giles’ favourite times of the day.
And then he’d driven to work…singing along with the songs on the radio. He’d had a meeting with the Board…Ian Galvin and Marissa Tyler, the Watcher and Slayer stationed in Bangkok, had successfully dispatched of a nest of Rock Lobster demons.
He chuckled softly and turned his back to the warm spray of water. They weren’t really called Rock Lobsters, but that’s what Buffy had named them…much easier for her to pronounce than Rochelobseteria Demons.
After the meeting, where it was recommended that both Ian and Marissa be rewarded for their efforts, he’d had to face a fair amount of paperwork. And in the middle of that, Anya had wandered into his office complaining that the weather was not amenable to her being pregnant.
Buffy had been home alone. Braden and Lucas were at school, Haddie and
Evan were spending the day with Joyce, who had taken a well-deserved week off
work. He had grinned and tossed
And so, after sidestepping Anya’s questions of why he was going home and ensuring both of them that they could reach him on his mobile in the event of an emergency, he led Callie out of the Council building and to the car.
Giles furrowed his brow as he shut the water off in the shower and stepped onto the bathmat, reaching for his towel. He remembered the drive home, he remembered Callie barking at the motorcycles as they passed by, he remembered walking into the house and taking his very surprised wife into their bedroom.
He smiled as he dried his body. He had no trouble remembering what had taken place in their bedroom. He remembered the phone ringing about an hour and a half after he’d gotten home. Anya was apologetic as he answered the phone, but had to tell him of the report of the Quandesh demon she had just received.
Apparently one had been spotted early that morning…just as dawn was breaking. Chances were, it would make another appearance that night.
Giles slipped into his robe as he recalled telling Anya that he and Buffy would have a look after dinner. And that was where his memories stopped. He felt his heart begin to race. He didn’t remember picking the children up from school. He didn’t remember having dinner. He didn’t remember leaving the house for patrol.
His eyes widened as he glanced in the mirror.
He didn’t remember who had stayed with the children. And he didn’t remember fighting the Quandesh demon at all. Everything was lost from the moment he’d gotten off the phone with Anya until Buffy was cleaning the blood from his head.
He took a deep breath and came to another decision. Instead of running into the kitchen, as had been his first thought, he’d go get dressed and then have breakfast with his family. He was sure that Buffy would insist that he take the day off…he was also sure that she wouldn’t have to insist much.
He’d wait until Braden and Lucas left for school, catching their beloved school bus, and then he’d have a talk with Buffy. He needed to know, as did Buffy, exactly how big the gap in his memory was.
As they sat on the back porch, Buffy glanced at her husband, who was busy watching Haddie and Evan play in the backyard. She had known something was bothering him when he’d come back into the kitchen after his shower, but he told her that he’d talk to her later about it.
In Buffy’s mind, it was later.
“Hm?” He mumbled, smiling as Callie knocked over Evan causing Haddie to laugh hysterically.
“What’s wrong?” She asked hesitantly.
His smile faded and he shot a quick glance in her direction before the squeals of his youngest son drew his eyes back to the yard. He took a deep breath and rubbed his palm over his denim-clad thigh.
“What time did we come home last night?”
Buffy narrowed her eyes. “I don’t know really. I mean, I was a little concerned about the blood pouring from your head to worry about the time.”
Giles sighed heavily and looked over at her. “Come here.”
“Tell me.” She whispered in response, her concern growing at the tone of his voice.
“I remember looking at the clock when we went to bed last night. It was a little after midnight…”
Buffy nodded, silently moving from the chair she was sitting in and walking around the small table that separated them. “Yeah…we’d been home…maybe an hour and a half?”
He took hold of her hand, gently pulling her down to sit sideways on his lap. “How long had we been home before you started cleaning my wound?”
“Thirty minutes tops. You wouldn’t let me look at it until you had checked on the kids. Giles…”
He mentally calculated the lapse and exhaled slowly. “Nine hours…give or take.”
He licked his lips and glanced out at the yard when he heard Haddie’s voice rise. Realizing she was only scolding Evan for kicking down her sand castle, he looked into Buffy’s eyes.
“I don’t remember anything after Anya calling to tell us about the Quandesh demon…until you were taking care of my wounds.”
Buffy’s eyes glistened. “What?”
“Who stayed with the children last night?”
“Mom.” She shook her head in disbelief. “You don’t remember anything?”
“No.” Giles answered softly.
“You don’t remember picking the boys up from school?”
“You don’t remember the conversation during dinner? Braden was so excited and was telling you everything he’d learned at the Academy…and then you were telling him funny stories of your early days at the Academy…” She looked at him expectantly, her throat constricting as he slowly shook his head.
A single tear rolled down her cheek as her voice lowered to a whisper. “What else don’t you remember?”
Despite the seriousness of the situation, he chuckled as he lovingly wiped the tear from her skin. “I don’t know, love.”
She stared at him incredulously for a moment. “Why are you laughing? This is serious, Giles! I mean…nine hours is a long time!”
“Yes.” He agreed as he stifled his laughter, placing his right hand on her knee. He gave a small cough and then cleared his throat. “However…nine hours is much better than ten, or a day, or a week, or…”
“Okay, I get what you’re saying.” Buffy interrupted with a huff. “And you’re right…”
Hearing her hesitation, Giles tilted his head slightly and looked into her eyes. “But?”
She sighed heavily, lifting her left hand and running her fingers through his hair. “Nothing.”
“Buffy…” His hand gently squeezed her knee in a reassuring manner. “Please tell me.”
She was tempted to make something up, but knew that he’d see right through any lie she’d try to tell him. Instead, she took a deep breath and shifted her body on his lap so she could rest her head on his left shoulder.
His left hand gently stroked her back and side as he waited for her to gather her thoughts. Just as he was getting ready to tell her that it was okay to be upset, her whispered statement left her lips…just loud enough for him to hear.
“You don’t remember making love to me.”
He looked down at her, his brow furrowing. “Of course I do. Anya called after – ”
“No. Before we left on patrol…after Mom took the kids out for ice cream…you made love to me.”
Giles swallowed, the sadness in her voice tearing at his heart. “I’m sorry, Buffy…”
“It’s not your fault. And…I’m not angry about it, Giles.” She lifted her head and stared into his eyes. “I swear, I’m not angry. It’s just…there was this whole incredibly hot and passionate and sweet experience that we shared…and you don’t remember it.”
He thought for a moment before lifting his right hand from her knee and moving it to the side of her face, his thumb lovingly caressing her cheek.
“Maybe if you were to tell me about it, it might help me remember.”
She raised an eyebrow as felt his erection harden slightly against her thigh. “And…what are you thinking about right now?”
“Making love to you.” He answered simply.
He lowered his hand from her face, allowing the backs of his fingers to brush over her breast as he moved his hand to her thigh. “There’s nothing wrong with my memory now.”
“Um…we have two very inquisitive children playing in the yard…”
He glanced at her lips as he slowly rubbed her thigh. “Think we could talk them into having a nap?”
Buffy snorted a laugh and shook her head. “At nine-thirty in the morning? I doubt it.”
His hand stopped moving and he exhaled slowly. “Very well. Perhaps we should continue this later, then?”
“Mm-hm…definitely should.” She answered, sliding her fingertips down the side of his neck before she carefully extracted herself from his lap.
When he started to protest, she smiled and gestured to the chair next to him. “Probably safer if I sit there for the time being.”
He scoffed as he gently rubbed his shoulder, which had begun to ache again. “I’m perfectly capable of controlling myself, Buffy.”
She grinned as she sat down next to him. “Maybe I’m not.”
Before he could respond to her statement, her grin faded as she looked at his shoulder. “Hurting again?”
“Hm? Oh…somewhat.” He glanced out into the yard and narrowed his eyes. “Evan! No!”
Buffy stood up quickly as Giles leapt out of his chair, a glare firmly in place on his face. She nearly laughed at the innocent expression on their youngest child’s face as he looked towards his father.
Evan smiled and waved with his right hand, a bucket of sand held in his left. “Hi, Daddy!”
Giles shook his head as he pointed at the bucket. “Don’t ‘hi, Daddy’ me, young man. Just what do you think you’re doing?”
“Pourin’ sand on Haddie’s head.” Evan answered truthfully.
Buffy snorted, turning her head so that Evan wouldn’t see her smile. Giles bit the inside of his cheek to keep from laughing. When he felt that he had regained his control, he cleared his throat and started down the steps leading into the yard.
“And why, pray tell, would you pour sand on your sister’s head?”
Evan narrowed his eyes and gave his father a look that said it should be perfectly understandable. “ ‘Cause I a san’ monster.”
“You’re a sand monster?” Giles questioned, a smile in his eyes as Evan nodded enthusiastically. “Well, how about the sand monster not pour sand on his sister’s head?”
Evan sighed and glanced down at the bucket of sand. “But, then I won’ be a san’ monster. I just be Evan with san’.”
Giles chuckled and knelt on the ground so that he was eye-level with his son. “Is it necessary that the sand monster pours sand over his sister’s head?”
“Well, that’s what a san’ monster does.”
“Mm.” Giles murmured and met his daughter’s smiling eyes. “Well, what if you and Haddie build a sand city…and then the sand monster demolishes the city? Because, you see…monsters are known for their destructive behaviours.”
Haddie tilted her head slightly. “How do you know so much about monsters, Daddy?”
Giles hesitated for only a moment before offering his daughter a warm smile. “I read a lot.”
“You read about san’ monsters?” Evan asked, his green eyes wide with excitement.
Giles grinned, looking up when he felt Buffy’s hand on his shoulder. He nodded slowly as he looked into Evan’s eyes again.
“Sand monsters are misunderstood creatures. People get scared of them because they’re so big, but they’re really nice.”
Haddie stared at her father in disbelief. “Nice people don’t break buildings, Daddy.”
Buffy snorted, earning her a glare from Giles. She shrugged and ran her fingertip along his ear. “Well, she has a point…”
Giles sighed heavily and shook his head. “The sand monster doesn’t mean to destroy things, but it’s so big that things get in its way.”
“Like Callie when she tries to go in our cubby house?”
Giles grinned at his little girl. “Exactly like that. She doesn’t mean to knock over your dolls or anything, but she does because she’s too big to be able to move properly.”
Haddie and Evan thought for a few moments before smiling at each other. Haddie handed him an empty bucket and pointed towards the tap next to the small garden.
“If you get some water, I’ll help you build the city.”
Evan’s smile grew broader as he grabbed the bucket and dropped the one full of sand. Evan ran towards the tap, stopping suddenly and looking back over his shoulder.
“You an’ Mummy help us?”
Giles smiled adoringly and nodded. “We’ll help. Just make sure you turn the tap all the way off, okay?”
Evan nodded quickly, his green eyes shining brightly. “I will! An’ then we buil’ a city an’ I can break it!”
Buffy chuckled as she sat down on the edge of the sandbox. At Giles’ unspoken question, she grinned.
“He pronounces his h’s very well…but, I think we need to work on his d’s.”
Giles nodded in agreement as he picked up one of the unused shovels and began shovelling sand into a bucket. “I had the same problem when I was his age.”
“And listen to you now.” Buffy offered, the tone in her voice bordering on lust.
He looked up quickly and swallowed. “Buffy…”
“Just saying.” She answered with a tender smile.
“Positive it’s too early for an a-p-n-a-y?” He replied, spelling the word carefully as his eyes darkened a shade.
Haddie looked up and furrowed her brow. “Apnay? What’s a apnay?”
Buffy laughed as Giles merely smiled. Evan ran back over to the sandbox, water sloshing over the rim of the bucket.
Haddie shrugged her shoulders. “Daddy asked if it was too early for a apnay and Mummy laughed.”
“I think it’s ice cream with applesauce.”
Evan wrinkled his nose. “Yuck.”
“Quite.” Giles agreed as he laughed. “Why would you think it was ice cream with applesauce?”
“Because it sounds like ‘sundae’ except for the ‘ap’ sound at the front.”
Giles considered her explanation and then kissed her cheek. “Rest assured, I was not talking about ice cream with applesauce.”
Haddie breathed a sigh of relief. “Good, ‘cause that sounds really yucky!”
Their laughter continued as the
sand city was built. And their laughter
grew when the sand monster ‘accidentally’ demolished all of the buildings in
the city…with the help of ‘
As they rebuilt the city for the third time, Giles met Buffy’s gaze and sighed. His shoulder was aching, his headache was threatening to come back…but, he didn’t care. She offered him a loving smile, the promise of an early ‘apnay’ for the kids blazing in her hazel eyes.
“Giles…you need to be careful…”
He lifted his mouth from her neck and smiled as he leaned back against the headboard. “I’m being careful, Buffy.”
She trembled as his fingers slipped through her wet folds, her knees resting on either side of his hips. “I just…don’t want…oh, God…Giles…”
“What don’t you want, love?” He whispered as his fingertips teased her.
She rocked against his hand, holding on to his left shoulder as she dropped her left hand to his erection. A smile formed on her lips when she heard his soft groan.
“I don’t…want to hurt you…”
He licked his lips and slipped two fingers inside of her, growling softly as her hand instinctively tightened around his hardened flesh. “I’m fairly certain that you’re not hurting me.”
She glanced at his shoulder as she rode his hand, her own hand stroking him firmly. The bruises had darkened during the day, the joint very swollen and was slightly warm when she had tenderly pressed her lips to it earlier.
He inhaled sharply as her thumb rubbed along the underside of his cock. “You’re on top…my shoulder is a non-issue.”
She groaned as he pulled his fingers from her and licked her juices from his middle finger before offering his ring finger to her. She stared into his eyes as she sucked his finger into her mouth. She smiled inwardly when she felt his cock thicken in her hand.
“Last night.” He muttered, his eyes focused on her tongue as she licked his palm.
“Tell me about last night.”
She placed a warm, open-mouthed kiss on his palm as she gazed into his eyes. “What do you want to know?”
“Everything.” He whispered thickly, dropping his hand to cover hers. He followed her movements for a few strokes before gently pulling her hand away. “I want to come inside of you, Buffy.”
She smiled and took a deep breath, leaning forward and tugging at the ring in his left ear with her teeth. For ten years, he only wore this earring. For their tenth anniversary, she had gotten him a diamond stud…which looked gorgeous on him. He alternated the jewellery…changing them when he felt the urge.
She loved them both…but, in instances such as this, she preferred the ring. She tugged again and chuckled softly when he groaned in pleasure. Yes, in instances such as this…the ring suited her needs much more than the stud ever could.
She released the earring, remembering that he wanted to know what he had forgotten. Her lips grazed his ear as she whispered to him.
“Do you want to know how you brought me in here and slowly undressed me?”
He answered by moving his hands to her hips and pressing his fingers against her flesh.
She placed a soft kiss just under his ear and gently rolled his right nipple between her forefinger and thumb. “Do you want to know how you leaned over me…your mouth moving over every inch of my skin?”
“Buffy…” He hissed as she pinched his nipple and rubbed her core against him.
“Or do you want to know how you picked me up and sat me on the dresser…pushing your hard cock into me as your teeth bit the scar on my neck?”
His eyes darted towards the dresser, his mind supplying the image invoked by her words. “Dear Lord…yes, Buffy…”
Buffy raised her hips, quickly guiding his erection into her. They both moaned as she slid back down, taking his entire length. She held still for a moment, content to feel him deep within her as she gazed into his eyes.
“You fucked me, Giles. You fucked me so hard…until I was so close. And then…”
He swallowed hard and slid his hands to her back. “And then?”
“Just as I was getting ready to come, you brought me back to the bed. And made love to me so…tenderly…so slowly.” She began to rock against him, sliding both of her hands up his chest…but careful not to touch his right shoulder. “And then…you talked to me.”
He moved his hands down her back to rest on her firm buttocks. Squeezing the flesh with his fingers, he closed his eyes and thrust upwards. “What…what did I…Christ, Buffy…”
She looked down at his face and felt a sudden rush of love and desire for him. His head leaning against the top of the headboard, eyes clenched shut…the artery running down the right side of his neck standing out in high relief as he struggled to hold on.
Slowing her pace, she pressed her lips to his forehead and ran her fingers through his damp hair…careful not to scrape her nails over the healing laceration on the side of his head.
“I love you.” She whispered, moving her lips down the side of his face.
“I love you, Buffy. My God, I love you.” He whispered back, his tone urgent as his fingers tightened their hold. “Please…please, don’t stop…”
Realizing how close he was, she ran her tongue over his bottom lip, giving it a gentle nip with her teeth.
His eyes snapped open and met her gaze. Sliding his left hand from her hip to their union, he leaned forward just enough to capture her lips once more as his fingers found her swollen clitoris.
She reacted immediately to his touch, groaning into his mouth and gripping his uninjured shoulder as her pace quickened. If his tongue hadn’t been in her mouth, he would’ve moaned her name as he rubbed her clit, pushing her closer towards orgasm with each stroke. But it was…and he had no intention of removing it.
Instead, a growl rumbled in his chest and he pinched her aching nub between his thumb and forefinger. Her left hand moved to the back of his head, her fingers scratching his scalp as her movements became frenzied.
His growl gave way to a groan as her inner muscles tightened around him, quivering as her orgasm crested. When she threw her head back to cry out his name, his mouth latched onto her throat. And when he pinched her clit once more, her cry turned to a scream as she flooded his thrusting cock with her juices.
Her orgasm was all it took for him to release himself deep within her. His teeth scraped over her throat, her name mumbled against her skin as he came forcefully.
They came down slowly, bodies seeming to melt into one another as they fought for their breath. They held one another tightly, lips brushing against skin as whispered words of love were barely heard over their breathing.
“Please tell me…you’ll remember that.” She murmured.
He chuckled softly, his hands rubbing her back. “For the rest of my life.”
She lifted her head and looked into his eyes. As her trembling fingers stroked his cheek, she smiled. “You know…I believe that you will.”
As her fingers traced his lips, his eyes sparkled. He had no doubt that he would either.
* * *
“Mm?” She answered sleepily, snuggling against his chest.
And then she sighed as her hand brushed the waistband of his pajama pants. As much as she loved their children, she did miss the luxury of lying naked in their bed…especially after making love in the afternoon.
“Have you ever heard Lucas grumble about going to school?”
Buffy snorted a laugh. “He’s your son. He gets upset when there’s a break.”
“Yesterday morning…he didn’t want to go.”
Hearing the concerned tone in his voice, she tilted her head to look up at him. “What do you mean?”
Giles carefully rolled onto his back and took a deep breath. “He wanted to come to work with me.”
“Well…” She sighed softly and folded her arms over his chest, resting her chin on them. “He’s always liked going to work with you. Maybe it’s just been a while since he’s been able to…and he misses it.”
“It was different than that.” He replied, his hand absently stroking her back. “When I explained to him that he needed to go to school…he…”
Giles met her eyes and nodded. “It struck me as odd at the time, but then…so many different things started happening.”
“Giles?” Buffy questioned, knowing that he wasn’t telling her everything.
He exhaled slowly and looked towards the ceiling. “I went through a phase when I was around his age…I didn’t want to go to school.”
Buffy arched an eyebrow. “You? Really?”
He nodded silently, his eyes narrowing slightly.
“Why?” She asked quietly.
Buffy’s brow furrowed in confusion. “Huh?”
“He…” Giles took a deep breath and then continued, his eyes still fixed on the ceiling. “He was the school bully. Two years older than me…and fairly cruel for a ten year old boy.”
Her eyes widened in shock. “You were bullied?”
“Mm. Quite mercilessly for nearly a year. Mum had to argue with me every morning to get me to go to school. For a long time she thought it had to do with Ewen being sick.”
Buffy was quiet for a moment, her fingers lightly stroking his chest. “What happened?”
“One day he pushed me too hard. And…I pushed back.” He swallowed and met Buffy’s eyes. “He learned fairly quickly that he was not to discuss my brother in any shape, form, or fashion. A few months after that, I was sent to the Academy to begin my training.”
“Do you know whatever happened to Marty? And… ‘Marty Charmichael’? That’s a name that just asking for the child to have problems later in life.”
To her surprise, Giles gave a soft chuckle. “Yes, quite.”
A small smile played on Buffy’s lips. “So, what became of him?”
“Hm? Oh…” He cleared his throat and brushed a strand of hair back from her face. “Because he was so humiliated that a nine year old gave his eleven year old arse a complete thrashing…he fell into a rougher crowd in an attempt to regain his status as school bully.”
Buffy’s smile grew slightly. “Yeah?”
“The gang that he joined…and I use the term ‘gang’ very loosely. They were merely a small group of roughneck youths whose greatest feat was to steal bread and lollies from the corner store. They wouldn’t know how to deal with a true gang if they met one. Anyway, the gang that he joined had an initiation process.”
When he hesitated for a moment, Buffy’s smile began to fade.
“Part of this, uh…initiation…consisted of spending an entire night in the cemetery.” Giles licked his dry lips and then continued softly. “Marty’s body was found the next morning. A…pack of dogs, they said…had mauled him to death.”
Buffy’s mouth dropped open.
“My best friend at the time…my roommate at the Academy, Clive Croydon…he staked Marty when he attacked us as we were walking back to the dorms from the football field one evening.”
He coughed lightly and exhaled slowly. “Clive saved my life that night. From a demon that I was responsible for creating.”
Buffy shook her head quickly. “You can’t possibly think that!”
He offered her a warm smile. “Oh, not now. But, it’s amazing what a ten year old can blame himself for when he’s pushed into a life that he doesn’t want.”
Buffy thought over the story he had just told and inhaled sharply. “You think that Lucas is being bullied?”
“I’m not sure. I think that we should talk to him…because him grumbling about going to school in uncharacteristic of him.”
The words had barely left his mouth when their bedroom door swung open. As two well-rested children jumped onto the bed, Giles gave his wife a smile that said they would finish the discussion later. Buffy gave him a nod and laughed as Evan launched himself at her.
“You sleeped too?”
Buffy chuckled and kissed his cheek. “Slept. And yes…Daddy and I needed a nap as much as you and Haddie did.”
Callie jumped onto the bed and joined in the fun, playfully knocking Evan down to the mattress. Buffy met Giles’ eyes and smiled.
Sure they had to make sure they were dressed when they were in bed…but, would she trade that luxury for this?
She laughed heartily as Haddie blew a raspberry on her father’s chest.
No, she wouldn’t. Not in a million years.
Haddie and Evan jumped up and down excitedly when they saw the school bus at the end of the street. Haddie turned and grinned at her parents, who were sitting on the front steps of the house.
“Do I get to ride the bus with them when I go to school every day next year?”
Buffy laughed at the horrified expression on Giles’ face and then gave her daughter a wink. “We’ll talk about it when it gets closer to time, okay?”
Haddie nodded quickly and glanced at Callie, who was lying calmly next to Giles with her head on his thigh. “How come Callie doesn’t want to jump around with us?”
Giles smiled softly. “Oh, she wants to. But, we’re teaching her that it’s better manners to wait.”
Evan stopped jumping immediately and looked at Giles. “Better not ta jump?”
Giles chuckled and shook his head. “It’s quite alright for you to jump…not so much for a dog.”
Evan laughed brightly and resumed his jumping. He pointed at the approaching bus and giggled.
“Is gettin’ closer!”
Giles chuckled and leaned back, resting his back against the wooden handrail post. He looked down as Buffy slid closer to him and placed her hand on his thigh, her fingers brushing along the inner seam of his jeans.
“Huh?” She asked, genuinely puzzled at the warning tone of his voice. “What’s wrong?”
It was then that he realized that she wasn’t aware of what she was doing. He smiled and covered her hand with his, stilling her movement.
“Probably shouldn’t be doing that right now…”
She glanced down at their hands, a smile forming on her face when her eyes wandered to his groin. “Sorry…I didn’t realize I was…um…”
“It doesn’t take much, love.” He whispered, giving her hand a gentle squeeze before releasing it. “Come on, now…the bus is almost here.”
“Is here! Is here!” Evan shouted in excitement.
Giles arched an eyebrow as he smiled. “See?”
Buffy laughed and removed her hand from his thigh, turning her eyes to watch their two youngest children greet their two oldest. Braden rolled his eyes as he jumped off the last step and into the yard, but laughed as Evan tackled him. Lucas handed something to Haddie, who smiled brightly at him, before dropping his bag and joining in on the wrestling match with his two brothers.
Haddie ran over to her parents, waving the construction paper covered piece of posterboard. “Look what Lucas made for me!”
Buffy smiled as she looked at the artwork. Lucas had obviously put a lot of effort into it. It was basically a snapshot of what was going on in the front yard right now…made from construction paper.
Buffy traced Haddie’s image with her finger, sighing softly. “Haddie?”
“Do you ever wish you had a sister?”
Giles cast a quick glance at his wife, who was looking intently at their daughter. Haddie met Buffy’s eyes and furrowed her brow.
“Is that what you and Daddy were doing? Making a sister for us?”
Giles coughed heavily and Buffy’s eyes widened. “Excuse me?”
Haddie shrugged a shoulder and ran her tiny hand through her golden locks. “Braden said that sometimes when a Mummy and Daddy lay down for a nap, they make a baby. You and Daddy had a nap, did you make another baby?”
Before either Buffy or Giles could answer that question, she quickly asked another.
“How do you make a baby anyway? Braden wouldn’t tell me that part. Is it magic?”
“Magic?” Buffy asked, smiling at Giles’ panicked expression.
“Yeah, like…is it a doll and then you make a real baby from it?”
“Not exactly.” Buffy offered, curling a strand of Haddie’s hair around her finger.
That seemed to satisfy her curiosity for the moment, a fact that surprised both Buffy and Giles. She took a deep breath and smiled as she watched her brothers play.
“I don’t think I want a sister, Mummy.”
“Why’s that, sweetie?”
Haddie looked up at her and gave her a brilliant smile…the smile she had inherited from her father. “If I have a sister, then I won’t be the only princess anymore.”
She handed the handmade portrait to Buffy and climbed down the stairs, running off to play with the boys. Buffy watched her, leaning against Giles and placing her hand back on his thigh.
Giles cleared his throat, causing her to look up at him. She smiled sweetly and rubbed his leg.
“Hm? Oh…yes.” He smiled gently and took a deep breath. “That was…a little closer than I was expecting.”
Buffy chuckled, lightly scraping her nails over the denim. “You know that she’s going to ask soon, right?”
He sighed heavily, placing his hand over hers and, once again, stopping her movement. “Yes. Which means you’ll finally have a turn at ‘the talk’.”
“But…you’re so good at it.” Buffy protested playfully. “I mean, you’ve done it twice already…you’re like a pro or something.”
He gave her a mock-glare and shook his head. “That was the deal. I’d talk to the boys, you’d talk to the girls. You’re not getting out of it, Buffy.”
She laughed heartily, leaning up to give his lips a light kiss before settling against him and watching their children…and Callie…play happily in the front yard.
* * *
After a quick afternoon snack, all four children ran off to the backyard to finish their banner for Ethan and Michael. Buffy had gone outside to supervise the use of the paint that the children were using. Giles pulled a bottle of beer from the refrigerator and sat down on the couch, smiling as Callie jumped up beside of him.
“Just us for right now, Cal.” He spoke softly as he lovingly rubbed her head.
Taking a long drink from the bottle, he allowed his eyes to roam over the pictures lining the mantle. He sighed softly as his gaze rested on the most recent family portrait. It had been a fairly relaxed shoot…and it showed. It was probably one of Giles’ favourite pictures of his family.
They were all sitting on the floor, Buffy and Giles smiling at one another…their four children surrounding them, playing with one another…Callie sitting next to Giles, her paw resting on his thigh. For a professional photograph, it was extremely candid.
And that’s what he loved about it.
He smiled as he looked down at Callie and rubbed his thumb over one of her ears. Her brown eyes were bright, her tail thumping against the cushions, as she smiled back up at him. Giles chuckled, remembering how long it took for Buffy to believe him that Callie was indeed smiling.
Suddenly, Callie looked towards the front door. Giles chuckled again as he stood up and drained the bottle, finishing just as the doorbell rang.
She jumped off the couch and followed him to the door, sitting obediently as he swung the door open. Her tail began wagging even harder when she saw the visitors.
Ethan’s smile disappeared quickly as he saw the large bruise on the left side of Giles’ head. “What the hell happened?”
“It looks worse than it is.” He stepped back from the door and smiled warmly as Ethan rushed in, Michael right behind him. “How was your trip?”
“Yeah, good.” Ethan muttered. “Tell me what happened.”
Giles sighed and glanced down at Callie, who was still sitting but becoming impatient. “Would you please say hello to Callie? I’ll grab a few beers and then…I’ll explain why I look such a state.”
* * *
Giles rolled his eyes as Ethan carefully slipped his fingers into his hair. “Ethan…”
Ethan ignored him, parting the hair to get a better look at the laceration. Narrowing his eyes, he glanced at Buffy. “He didn’t need stitches?”
Buffy snorted a laugh and took a sip of her husband’s beer as she leaned back in the chair. “Oh, it probably did. But, he was being difficult. The bleeding stopped on its own though…I’ve been checking it for any signs of infection.”
Giles pulled away from Ethan and gave him a glare. “I told you…I’m fine.”
Ethan arched an eyebrow as Giles grimaced from the movement. “Yeah…I always look like I’m in pain when I’m fine. Ask Michael…it happens all the time.”
Michael tilted his head slightly, carefully regarding Giles. “You hurt your shoulder as well?”
“Mm.” Giles mumbled, taking his beer back from Buffy and glancing at the children playing happily in the yard. “I landed on a rock or something when I fell.”
“Brick.” Buffy stated, causing Giles to look at her. “You landed on a brick. Well, more like a cinder block than a brick. You’re lucky you didn’t break something.”
Michael bit his lip as he thought. He caught Ethan’s eye and asked a silent question, turning back to Giles when Ethan had given a silent answer.
“Would you mind if I had a look at it?” At Giles’ questioning look, Michael continued. “I…well, I was in medical school for a couple of years before I decided to become an accountant.”
Buffy smiled. “Doctor, accountant…pretty big change there.”
Michael returned her smile. “Not so much. I still take things apart and fix them…it’s just numbers instead of bodies.”
Giles chuckled at that and slowly unbuttoned his shirt. As the material fell from his injured shoulder and Michael knelt on the floor to get a better look, Ethan gasped.
Buffy nodded solemnly. “Yeah, I tried to get him to let me take him to the hospital…”
Giles winced as Michael gently prodded the bruised and swollen flesh. “I didn’t want – ”
His sentence was interrupted by footsteps clambering up the stairs to the porch, followed by a sharp gasp.
Giles turned his head quickly, finding Lucas’ eyes brimming with tears as he stared at his father’s shoulder. “Lucas…I’m alright. Come here.”
Lucas moved slowly, his eyes not straying from the purplish-black colored skin. “I…I don’t remember it looking like this.”
Ethan’s brow furrowed. “What’s that, mate?”
Lucas swallowed and glanced at Ethan, shrugging his shoulder. “It didn’t look this bad in my dream.” His eyes darted to Michael, his voice dropping to a whisper. “Is it going to be okay?”
Michael nodded slowly, offering the boy a tender smile. “I’m pretty sure it’s just bruised, Lucas. It’s bruised badly…”
Giles sighed in exasperation. “I’ve always bruised badly.”
Ethan thought for a second and then smiled. “Yeah, that’s true enough.”
“Is it broke?” Lucas asked, gliding his fingertips over the top of his father’s shoulder.
“Broken.” Giles corrected automatically in a gentle tone. “And, no…I’m fairly certain that it isn’t broken. But, why don’t we ask Dr. Michael?”
Lucas looked at Michael expectantly. “Is it broken?”
Michael shook his head, his smile growing. “No, just swollen and sore. Basically, it means that he won’t be able to throw a ball with you for a while.”
Lucas looked confused. “Why not? He’s left-handed…like me and Haddie.”
Michael chuckled. “My mistake. I forgot that he’s left-handed. In that case, it just means that he’ll be a bit sore for a while.”
“Okay.” Lucas took a deep breath and looked into Giles’ eyes and smiled. “I love you.”
Giles’ eyes twinkled. “I love you too. Oh…how was school today?”
Lucas grinned, his green eyes sparkling with excitement. “Great! Miss Quigley said I’d make a good drummer.”
Giles narrowed his eyes in confusion. “I’m sorry?”
“Oh, we were having music class and I was hitting my pencil against the desk. She said it sounded good and that I should talk to you about it. ‘Specially since Bay plays guitar…and she knows you used to be in a band.”
Buffy’s eyebrows rose. “And how does she know that?”
Lucas smiled shyly. “I kinda told her. Can I? Tommy’s learning piano. Can I learn drums? Please?”
Buffy and Giles exchanged a quick glance, a decision made within seconds. Giles nodded slowly, his fingers buttoning his shirt back up but leaving the top three buttons undone.
“On one condition.”
Lucas grinned. “What?”
“Will you tell me why you wanted to come to work with me yesterday instead of going to school?”
Lucas’ grin faded and he took a deep breath. “I thought maybe if I stayed with you…you wouldn’t get hurt.”
Giles breathed a sigh of relief and quickly pulled his son into his arms. Michael noticed the tears in Giles’ eyes and looked at Ethan. Ethan arched an eyebrow at his husband, plainly stating that he wasn’t sure what was going on, and then looked at Buffy. Buffy looked from Giles to Ethan, her own eyes glistening.
Gently rubbing Giles’ back, Buffy cleared her throat and answered Ethan’s unspoken question. “We’ll explain a little later, okay?”
Ethan nodded slowly and sat back in his chair, running his fingers through Michael’s hair when Michael lowered himself to the porch floor and leaned his back against Ethan’s leg. “Everything’s alright though, yeah?”
Buffy smiled warmly, watching her husband kiss their son’s cheek. “Yeah…everything’s okay.”
“Some would say ‘nearly perfect’.” Giles added, lifting his head and nudging Lucas. “Go on…go play.”
Lucas grinned and took off back into the yard, stumbling on the last step. He picked himself back up, dusted the loose dirt from his jeans, and took off again…without even the slightest whimper.
Ethan chuckled, causing Michael to turn his head upwards to look at him. Ethan laughed again and shook his head in amusement.
“He’s a clumsy kid. I’m pretty sure I know what side of the family that came from.”
Buffy snorted as Ethan started chuckling once more. Even Michael grinned as Giles narrowed his eyes and stared at his best friend.
It was only a few seconds before his glare softened and his own laughter joined the mix. Any residual concern about his memory loss slowly dissipated. What was nine hours compared to a lifetime? It still bothered him that he wasn’t able to remember certain aspects of the missing nine hours, but there was nothing he could do about it.
He glanced at Buffy, his smile widening as she laughed at Ethan’s retelling of one of his travelling adventures with Michael.
He’d just have to make more memories tonight to take the place of those he’d lost. He relaxed in his chair and rested his hand on her thigh. She looked up at him with desire in her hazel eyes as she covered his hand with hers.
He gave her a slight nod and gently squeezed her leg as he turned his attention back to Ethan and Michael.
Yes, he’d do what he could tonight.