Timeline: Six months after Chaos in the Aftermath.
Synopsis: The Gileses take a holiday.
Giles had left work early to help Buffy pack their bags. Their flight was scheduled for six a.m. the following morning. He smiled as he walked through the front door of the house. They were only going to be away for two weeks. There were already seven bags in the living room, four of those were one each for the children and it looked as though none of them belonged to him. He shook his head as he chuckled.
He loosened his tie and unbuttoned the top button of his shirt as he made his way down the hall to their bedroom. He was already speaking as he walked through the bedroom door.
“You do realize that we’ll only be – ”
He stopped in mid-sentence, and mid-stride, as he stared at his wife. She wasn’t packing, as he had suspected she would be. No. Currently, she was stretched out across the bed…head on the pillows, hands folded behind her head…completely nude.
“Oh my.” Giles whispered, slowly moving around the bed.
Buffy smiled at him as he placed his left knee on the bed and leaned over her. She pulled her hands out from under her head and quickly took over the task of removing his tie. She dropped the piece of silk on the bed next to her as his mouth covered hers.
She made short work of the buttons of his shirt as his tongue took its time reacquainting itself with Buffy’s. She pulled his shirttails out of his trousers and unbuckled his belt as he moved his mouth to the side of her neck.
“I thought you’d be packing…”
She tilted her head, granting him more access to her neck as she slid her hands over his chest. “I was…got most of it done. But…the kids are either at school or daycare…you were coming home early…”
He lifted his head and smiled down at her. “So you thought you’d surprise me?”
“Making love with you is way more exciting than packing clothes for a vacation.” She answered softly before grasping his shoulders and rolling him onto his back.
He grunted softly as she climbed on top of him, straddling his hips. She grinned and ran her fingertip down his sternum.
“You look…deliciously rumpled.” When he raised an eyebrow at her, she continued. “Shirt open, belt unbuckled…”
He groaned as she rocked her hips against his trouser-clad erection.
“A nice, hard cock in your pants…” She licked her lips and leaned over him, flicking her tongue against his nipple. “Yeah…deliciously rumpled…”
She dragged her tongue across his chest towards his other nipple. “Mm?”
“Let me…dear, God…” His hand held the back of her head as she gently nipped at the hardened bud.
“Let you…what?” She mumbled against his skin.
“Undressed…let me get undressed…”
She lifted her head and smiled softly. “All in time. I have plans.”
He inhaled sharply at the look in her eyes. “Plans?”
She licked her lips and roughly pushed his shirt off his shoulders. “We have four hours before we have to pick the kids up…”
He sat up slightly, just enough to allow her to pull the shirt from his body. “What exactly do you suggest?”
“Oh, I plan on tying you up and teasing you for a little while.” She answered without hesitation.
His eyes darkened a couple of shades as he grabbed her and pulled her to his mouth for another kiss.
* * *
Giles pulled half-heartedly at the bindings holding his wrists to the headboard. She had taken her time undressing him, using her tongue to lick the skin she slowly exposed to her view. And then she had spent long, tortuous minutes sucking and biting at his nipples.
Now? Now he could feel her warm fluids coat his thigh as she slowly moved the vibrator in gentle thrusts. His cock throbbed against his abdomen, his eyes slightly glazed as he watched her nimble fingers push and pull at the humming phallus.
She grinned, using her left hand to grip his right thigh for support. “You’ve always liked watching me fuck myself with this…haven’t you?”
He nodded absently and pulled at his bindings again. “Please…come here…”
She removed the vibrator and lightly ran the wet tip along the underside of his erection. She smiled broadly as he groaned and jerked his hips.
“What do you want, honey?”
He stared at her as she ground her wet core against his equally wet thigh. “To taste you…”
She glanced down at the vibrator, still slick with her juices as she teased the head of his cock with it. She licked her lips and whispered huskily as she lifted the still buzzing object to his lips.
“Taste me, Giles.”
He met her eyes as the head of the vibrator nudged against his lips. His tongue darted out, tasting her essence on the latex covering. She groaned softly and shifted her body, pressing her core against his thick cock as his lips and tongue cleaned the fake phallus of her fluids.
“Jesus, that’s hot…” She rocked her hips against him, smiling as he groaned at the contact.
They stared at one another as she slowly moved the vibrator over his chin, down the front of his throat, before dropping it to the mattress. A smile formed on his lips when he read the raw lust in her darkened eyes.
“Fuck me, Buffy.” He whispered thickly. His eyes closed briefly when her fingers wrapped around his aching cock. “Yes…fuck me…”
She shook her head as she slowly sank onto him, sighing pleasurably as he filled her. “No fucking…I want to make love to you.”
He opened his eyes when he felt her lips press against his. She moved slowly, rocking against him as she placed feather-light kisses along his jaw.
“You feel so good inside of me, Giles…”
He shivered underneath her as she licked a bead of sweat from the side of his neck. He pulled at the ties again and she smiled.
“Do you want me to untie you?”
He shook his head, but answered with a gruff ‘yes’. She chuckled and nipped his bottom lip with her teeth.
“You’re contradicting yourself, honey. Yes or no?”
He arched his hips and groaned as she continued her slow movements. “Yes. Please untie me…”
She covered his mouth with hers, nudging her tongue between his lips, as she reached out and pulled the loose knots free. She expected him to roll her over onto her back and pound his cock into her. When she felt his hands on her thighs, slowly moving towards her hips as he moved with her, she smiled inwardly.
Her husband still continued to surprise her after all these years.
He held her hips firmly, but not tight enough to inhibit her motion, as he lovingly sucked her tongue. When he felt her inner muscles quiver lightly around him, he broke the kiss and looked into her eyes.
“You’re going to make me come soon.”
She smiled at the husky tone of his voice and tightened her muscles around him. He grunted and bucked his hips. His fingers flexed against her skin and he watched her breasts bounce lightly in front of him.
He barely had enough time to pull one of the hardened nipples into his mouth before she came. She called his name loudly as he continued his thrusts, his tongue feeling both hard and soft against her nipple.
She dug her nails into his shoulders as she quickened her motion, urging him towards his orgasm. He adjusted his rhythm to match hers, groaning against her flesh as his cock thickened within her.
He released her breast and groaned her name as they came together…their fluids mixing together deep inside of her. Her head dropped to his shoulder, her lips kissing his sweat-dampened skin as he tightened his arms around her.
He swallowed with effort and took a deep, albeit shaky, breath. “I should come home from work early more often.”
She chuckled and ran her fingers through his hair. “I wouldn’t mind. Not at all.”
He turned his head slightly and kissed her neck. “Maybe I should give it some thought…”
She relaxed in his arms, sighing as she felt his softening cock shift inside of her. “I love you.”
“I love you too.” He whispered softly before moving their bodies until they were lying on the bed.
She met his eyes and lightly shook her head. “We lay down, we’ll go to sleep.”
He brushed her damp hair back from her face and smiled. “I just want to hold you for a while before we have to get up.”
She returned his smile and moved into his arms, determined to stay awake.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
The house was full that night for dinner. Six adults, seven children. Currently, the five older children were playing happily with one another. Jake Osbourne was dozing in the playpen and Rayna Harris was sleeping peacefully in her mother’s arms.
Buffy grinned as she pushed the ring of keys across the table towards Xander. “Thanks for house-sitting for us.”
Xander grinned and picked up the ring, slipping it into his jeans pocket. “No problem. It’ll be nice to have a little more room for a couple of weeks.”
Buffy narrowed her eyes playfully at him. “Just don’t have sex in our bed.”
Anya snorted. “I’m too tired most of the time for sex anywhere, much less in your bed.”
Xander reddened deeply. “Um…Anya?”
Anya looked over at him and shrugged a shoulder. “What? It’s not like they haven’t had this happen. I mean, they have four kids…I’m sure Buffy didn’t feel like having sex all of the time after – ”
Xander’s eyes widened. “Please, stop.”
Buffy and Giles exchanged a glance,
neither one of them intending to admit to Anya that that particular problem
hadn’t been an issue with them.
Buffy chuckled, thankful for
“Well, it was the last time I visited. That was nearly thirty years ago now. But, I assume it still holds the majority of its beauty.”
Braden had run into the room at the
“And there’s a medieval museum with all kinds of swords!”
Anya rolled her eyes and handed Rayna to Xander. “Your kids are so weird.”
Braden stared at her, looking offended for a moment before his grin returned. “I’m not weird. I’m appreciative. Right, Dad?”
Giles chuckled and ruffled the boy’s hair.
They’d been in the air for thirty minutes when Lucas got out of his seat, his book in his hands as he walked over to his parents. Giles looked up from his paper and smiled.
“How are you feeling, Lucas?”
“Fine.” He answered quickly, narrowing his eyes as he held his book for his father to see. “This doesn’t make sense.”
Giles took the book and glanced down at the words. “Which part?”
Lucas climbed onto his mother’s lap and leaned over, pointing to a specific line. “The part that says that Arthur was the hair to the throne.”
Buffy furrowed her brow and leaned over to have a look as well. Giles smiled as he found the word in question.
“Heir. Not hair. It means that Arthur was the next in line to be King.”
“Heir? But…there’s an ‘h’. So…it’s hair.”
Giles shook his head, his smile growing. “Sometimes words aren’t pronounced as they are spelled.”
Lucas groaned and slid from Buffy’s lap. Giles chuckled softly as he handed the book back to his son. His chuckle turned to laughter as Lucas stalked back to his seat, grumbling as he went.
“Watch your ‘h’s’, Lucas. They’re there for a reason, Lucas.”
Buffy leaned her head against Giles’ shoulder. “Someone has inherited your sarcasm.”
Giles shook his head in amusement and went back to his paper.
* * *
They had rented a cottage on the
“So, do you speak Swedish at all?”
Giles smiled and shook his head. “No, not a word. But, you’ll find that most people do speak English. No need to worry about a language barrier.”
He exhaled slowly and looked out at the clear water surrounding the island. “Rather beautiful, isn’t it?”
Buffy nodded in agreement as she turned in his arms, resting her back against his chest. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen water that clear before.”
“So clean you could drink from it if you so choose.” He whispered, his fingers lightly rubbing her stomach.
She shivered lightly and craned her neck to look up at him. “Stop that.”
“What?” He asked in genuine confusion.
“The kids are awake…and you touching me like that makes me want to do very naughty things with you.”
He chuckled softly, stilling the motion of his fingers. “Very well.”
Braden ran into the house, his siblings following as quickly as they could. “Can we go to the museum now?”
Giles smirked as Buffy rolled her eyes playfully. “Definitely your son.”
Giles took a step back and looked down at Braden. “Shall we have lunch first?”
Evan jumped up and down, clapping his hands. “I hungy!”
Giles bent down and poked his younger son’s stomach, causing the boy to giggle. “You are always hungry. I think you must have worms.”
Evan stared at his father. “I not have werms!”
Buffy laughed heartily and gestured towards the front door. “Come on, let’s go get some food. And then – ”
“The museum!” Braden exclaimed.
* * *
Buffy held Haddie’s hand as they followed Giles and the boys through the corridors. She smiled at the sight of Evan riding on Giles’ shoulders, his hands resting on the top of Giles’ head. Lucas stood at his father’s left hand side as Giles explained the many uses of the weapon in the glass enclosure that Braden had taken an interest in.
Haddie tugged on Buffy’s hand to get her attention. Buffy smiled down at her daughter.
“Who dat?” Haddie asked as she pointed down the hall, looking past the rest of her family.
Buffy followed the little girl’s gaze and narrowed her eyes. “Where?”
“Down dere.” She stated calmly.
Buffy looked again and shook her head. “I don’t see anyone.”
Haddie sighed heavily and shrugged her shoulders. “She gone now.”
Buffy felt an icy chill and started to ask Haddie what the person looked like. Before she had a chance, Haddie had spotted a bucket of old coins. When she started asking questions about them, Buffy read the description to her.
Buffy found she kept glancing towards the spot that Haddie had pointed to, wondering what it was that her daughter had seen. Hearing Giles call her name, she met his eyes. She instantly saw the concern on his face.
“Everything alright, Buffy?”
“Huh? Oh, yeah…all’s good. Just telling Haddie about the coins.”
Giles regarded her carefully and then turned his head towards the spot he had noticed Buffy glancing at. “Are you sure?”
“Yeah.” Buffy picked her daughter up and made her way over to Giles, a not-so-convincing smile on her face. She looked down at her oldest son and smiled. “What did you find?”
“Look, Mum…it’s so cool.”
Buffy listened intently as Braden explained each detail of the item to her. She was also very aware that her husband was still watching her.
* * *
Four hours later, Buffy and Giles were sitting on a park bench watching their children feed the birds in the park. Giles had his arm resting along the top of the bench, behind Buffy’s shoulders.
“Would you care to tell me what happened in the museum?” He asked softly.
Buffy sighed heavily and glanced up at him before turning her eyes back to the children. “Haddie saw someone at the end of the hall. She asked who it was, but I couldn’t see anyone.”
Giles raised an eyebrow. “There was no one else in that particular corridor at the time. It was only us.”
“Uh-huh, I know. She was pretty adamant about someone being there though.”
She looked up at him quickly. “What does ‘hm’ mean?”
“Nothing, really. Just…” He shrugged a shoulder. “Hm.”
“I hate it when you do that.” Buffy mumbled and looked back out at their children.
Giles smiled softly, moving his hand to her shoulder and pulling her closer to him. “I’m sorry, I honestly didn’t mean anything by it.”
“Are there vampires in
Giles furrowed his brow at the sudden change of topic. “I’m sure there are…they tend to be everywhere. However, there have been no recent reports of vampire activity in the area. Why?”
Buffy shrugged her shoulder again. “Dunno. Felt something earlier.” She looked up at him and narrowed her eyes. “And if you say ‘hm’ again, I’ll hit you.”
He chuckled and leaned down, kissing her lips tenderly.
* * *
The kids were tired from the trip and the excitement of the day and so the family had an early dinner. As soon as they had returned to the cottage, the children were put to bed. They had fallen asleep almost as soon as their heads hit the pillows.
Giles had built a fire in the fireplace and arranged a bed of cushions on the floor. He opened a bottle of wine and smiled as he carried the bottle and two glasses over to his wife. He sank onto the cushions next to her and handed her a glass.
She watched the firelight reflect in his eyes as he poured the wine into their glasses. “I love you.”
He placed the bottle on the floor behind them, well out of harm’s way. He lightly clinked his glass against hers and his smile widened.
“I love you too.” He took a sip and then stretched out on the
cushions, propping himself up on his elbow.
“What do you think of
“A lot of bridges…” She smiled as he chuckled. “But, I think it’s one of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever seen. The pictures really don’t compare, you know?”
“Mm-hm.” His eyes followed her hand as she lifted her glass to her lips. “Much like pictures of you are unable to truly capture your beauty.”
“Sweet talker.” She whispered before taking a sip of her wine.
“Only the truth.” He responded, watching her tongue dart out to catch an errant drop of wine from her lip.
“Are you trying to seduce me, Mr. Giles?”
He lifted his wine glass and took a slow sip. “Possibly.”
She grinned and moved closer to him. “You know as well as I do…you don’t have to try.”
He placed his glass on the floor and leaned into her, kissing her warm lips and tasting the subtle fruitiness of the wine. As her tongue slipped into his mouth, he blindly took her glass and set it to the side.
He gently pushed her back onto the cushions, not breaking the kiss as his fingers edged under the hem of her shirt. His fingers stroked her skin as he pushed the thin blouse up. When he felt her gasp, he lifted his head and smiled.
She licked her lips and looked into his eyes. “Can’t imagine why…”
His fingers continued their journey, pausing when they grazed over a distended nipple. He gently rubbed the sensitive nub for a few moments before moving to the front clasp of her bra. She hissed softly as his fingers moved back to a now bare breast.
“So beautiful. So…responsive to my touch.” He whispered as he pushed the blouse up and over her breasts, exposing them to his hungry gaze. “My God, I want you.”
Her reply came out as a low, strangled moan as his mouth covered her nipple. His tongue felt soft and warm against her skin and she slipped a hand into his hair to hold him to her breast. He felt her tremble beneath him as he moved his right hand between them and unbuttoned her jeans.
“Giles, we…oh, God…” She whispered as he slipped his hand into her silk underwear and gently stroked her quickly dampening lips. “We shouldn’t…here…”
He lifted his head just enough to speak. “They’re asleep…”
She shuddered as his warm breath ghosted across her wet nipple. “Giles…”
He raised his head at her insistent tone, his fingers teasingly circling her clitoris. “I want to watch you come by firelight.”
Her hips arched of their own accord, increasing the pressure of his touch. He smiled and lowered his head, flicking his tongue against her sternum.
“What if they…wake up?”
He shook his head slowly as he repositioned his hand, his middle finger teasing her entrance. “They’re exhausted.”
Her right hand seemed to have a mind of its own, moving to gently caress the hard bulge in his jeans. He shifted his body slightly to give her better access.
“That’s it, love…”
She whimpered softly as he removed his hand. He gave her a tender smile and tugged her jeans and underwear down over her hips, stopping when they reached her knees. She fumbled with his belt and he used his left hand to help her as he carefully pushed the middle finger of his right hand into her.
“Oh, God…” She bit her lip to muffle her moan, her fingers working quickly at the zipper of his jeans.
He thrust his finger slowly, adding a second one on the third stroke. He inhaled sharply when he felt her hand wrap around his warm erection. When she tightened her grip and stroked him firmly, he groaned and pressed his thumb against her clit.
“Yes…” She hissed, arching her hips in rhythm to his thrusting fingers. “God, yes…”
He knew that if he allowed her to continue stroking his cock as hard as she was, he’d come very soon. He met her passion-glazed eyes and swallowed.
“Roll over…” He whispered as he removed his fingers.
She moaned as she watched him lick his fingers clean and then awkwardly rolled onto her stomach, her jeans still around her knees.
“Wouldn’t it be easier if…I took my pants off?” She asked softly as he pulled her up to kneel on her knees in front of him.
“Mm, depends.” He replied as he rubbed the firm flesh of her ass.
“How easy you want it.” He answered huskily as he pressed two fingers back inside of her. “God, you feel even tighter like this…”
When she whimpered and lowered her upper body to the cushions, he slowed his thrusting fingers. “Is it painful?”
“No, God…no. Don’t stop.”
He groaned and resumed his strokes. “I…want my cock inside of you like this. Do you think it would be too much?”
“One way…to…mm…find out…” She panted heavily.
He swallowed thickly and positioned himself behind her as he removed his fingers from her once again. As he eased the head of his erection into her, he gasped at the sensation.
“Jesus…” He pushed slowly, listening carefully for any sounds of distress from her. “If…Christ…if it hurts…”
“It doesn’t…” She groaned again, the fingers of her right hand gripping the cushion underneath her. “God…so…good…”
When he had entered her fully, he paused, breathing heavily as he tried to maintain some semblance of control. “I’m already so close…”
“Me too.” She took a deep breath and straightened her arms, pushing her upper body up. She looked over her shoulder and gave him a lust-fuelled smile. “Make me come…”
He licked his suddenly dry lips and gripped her hips tightly. He watched beads of sweat appear on her back as he started thrusting his hips against her.
Her breasts swung gently as she matched his pace, pushing and pulling against him, relishing the sensation of his erection moving within her. She wasn’t sure if it was because of the foreplay or the current position, but she was dangerously close to orgasm. By the sounds of his breathing and soft grunts, she knew that he was just as close.
She bit her lip hard to stop herself from screaming. She wasn’t exactly surprised when she tasted the familiar coppery taste of blood. When she felt his cock thicken, stretching her cramped inner walls even further, her orgasm crashed over her in an almost violent manner.
Her arms gave out and she fell forward, burying her face in the cushions to muffle her scream of ecstasy. He followed quickly, his fingers tightening on her hips hard enough to leave bruises as he emptied himself within her.
Her knees refused to support her any longer and he loosened his hold on her, allowing her to fall onto the cushions. He gently rolled her onto her back and leaned down, covering her mouth with his. When he tasted the blood on her lips, he pulled back and looked down at her in concern.
“Are you…are you alright?”
She nodded lazily, her vision blurred from passion. “Uh-huh…”
He traced her bottom lip with a trembling finger. “You’re bleeding.”
She grinned in an almost drugged-like fashion. “Kept me from screaming…”
“Oh.” He whispered as he brushed her damp hair back from her face. “But you’re alright?”
She lifted her hand and gently stroked his cheek. “Oh yeah.”
He smiled warmly, leaning into her touch. “We should go to bed. I can only imagine the questions Braden would have in the morning.”
She chuckled softly, nodding in agreement. “You put the fire out…I’ll put the cushions up.”
He watched her as she pulled her jeans up and carefully stood up. He tucked himself back into his jeans and made his way over to the fireplace. He turned to look at her as she gathered the cushions.
“Yeah?” She bent down to pick up the forgotten bottle of wine and glasses.
“I’m rather sure that I can’t find the words to express what I’m feeling right now.”
She tilted her head slightly and looked into his eyes. “Good or bad?”
“Beyond good. However, ‘I love you’ seems to not even touch it.”
She smiled and gestured at the fireplace. “Put that out and we’ll go to bed and talk about it.”
He grinned and turned back to the fire, intent on putting it out as quickly as possible.
A week into their holiday, Giles discussed the possibility of having a romantic dinner alone with Buffy. Buffy chuckled and glanced down the hallway that led to the bedrooms where their children were currently sleeping.
“That’d be great. But…we have four kids and no babysitter.”
He nodded slowly and took a sip of
his tea. “I’ve thought about that. We could hire someone for the evening. There are a fair few agencies in
She narrowed her eyes as she thought over his suggestion. “But…would you feel comfortable leaving them with a perfect stranger?”
“No, I wouldn’t. However, a trained nanny from a respectable agency for one night…I’d feel comfortable with that.”
“Of course, I’d thoroughly check her references before leaving the children with her.”
“Giles, I…” She trailed off when she noticed the disappointment flicker in his eyes. “This is important to you, isn’t it?”
“One night, Buffy. Just one. Please.”
She thought for a brief moment and then nodded. “Okay. As long as you understand that if I get a bad feeling about her when she shows up, it’s off.”
He lifted his hand and gently stroked her cheek. “I promise.”
She smiled and leaned into him, softly kissing his lips. “So what is it that you want to do on our date?”
He chuckled and pulled her into his arms. “Can’t I be allowed to surprise you just once?”
She grinned and settled for accepting his kisses.
* * *
They had four days left in
He and Buffy checked the references fully, and found absolutely nothing wrong with any of them. However, there was one that stood out for them both. And that was the young lady standing on the front porch of the cottage right now.
The young lady smiled brightly, her green eyes reflecting the setting sun. “Please, call me Katie.”
Giles tilted his head slightly and smiled as he stepped back from the door in a silent invitation for her to enter. “You’re English.”
“So are you.” Katie chuckled and walked through the doorway.
Giles smiled as he led her into the
living room. “How long have you been in
“Just a little while actually. I like working in different countries.” She smiled at Buffy and extended her hand. “You must be Mrs. Giles.”
“Just Buffy.” Buffy laughed as she shook the young woman’s hand. “Thank you for agreeing to watch our children tonight.”
Katie looked over at the four children and smiled at each one, offering Haddie a wink as well. Haddie giggled and snuggled closer to Lucas.
“It’s no problem. I’m just glad that you didn’t wait until tomorrow. After tonight, I’m booked out for a month.” She knelt on the floor in front of the children and smiled again. “My name’s Katie.”
Braden grinned, feeling completely at ease with the woman. Something that surprised, and relaxed, Buffy. Braden was normally cautious around new people. For him to feel this comfortable this soon was a good sign.
She felt Giles’ hand gently rub her back as they listened to Braden introduce himself, and then his siblings, to Katie. He leaned down and whispered into her ear.
“Any bad feelings?”
She looked up at him and shook her head. “None. I think I like her.”
Giles smiled, allowing his hand to move to her hip. “Reservations are in an hour.”
Buffy chuckled and placed her hand over his, stilling his movement.
* * *
Giles sighed heavily as Buffy looked over the menu for the fifth time. “Buffy…”
“I’d settle for a burger and fries. Reckon they’d have those here?”
He rolled his eyes and reached over, plucking the menu from her hand. “Have the kottbullar. You’ll like it.”
She laughed and leaned forward, resting her elbows on the table. “Okay, but if I don’t…it’s your fault.”
He placed the menus to the side and caught the waiter’s attention. Buffy sighed softly as she listened to her husband order their meals. As the waiter took the order, Giles cast a quick glance at Buffy and then ordered a bottle of wine as well.
As the waiter walked away, Buffy reached over and ran her finger over the back of Giles’ hand. “So, what’s the agenda for tonight?”
“Dinner, dancing, a stroll along the lakeside under the nearly full moon…”
Buffy grinned at him as he turned his hand over, allowing her fingers to stroke his palm. “Dancing? Before the stroll?”
Giles’ eyes flickered lightly. “Well, perhaps the dancing should occur after the stroll.”
“Or during…” She gave him a wink as she traced the lines in his hand with her fingertip. “That could be fun.”
“Mm.” He answered absently.
She removed her hand from his when she noticed that his eyes had darkened a shade. “Behave.”
He cleared his throat and sat back in his chair. “Sometimes you make that extremely difficult.”
She grinned and took a sip of her water.
* * *
She leaned her head against his shoulder, her arm looped through his, as they strolled along the lakeside. “This is nice.”
“Mm-hm. It’s a beautiful night.” He answered softly, pausing to look at the palace visible on the neighbouring island.
“Yeah, but I meant…peaceful.”
He looked down at her as she lifted her head. “How so?”
“I think this is the longest I’ve gone without having to slay something. It’s nice. I feel almost normal.”
He chuckled softly and brushed his fingers through her hair. “I don’t think ‘normal’ is a word I’d ever use to describe you.”
“Gee, thanks.” She pouted playfully.
“But, it is nice…peaceful.” He whispered, lowering his mouth to hers.
He kissed her slowly, sighing into her mouth as she wrapped her arms around his neck and moulded her body to his. When he felt his arousal beginning to make its presence known, he gently pulled from the kiss.
“Do you know what tonight is?”
She furrowed her brow in confusion. “Wednesday?”
He smiled softly and shook his head as he reached into his pocket. “No. Well, yes, it is…but that wasn’t my meaning.”
He licked his lips and gazed into her eyes. “Nine years ago tonight…you set our wedding date.”
She glanced down at his hand as he pulled a small box out of his pocket. “Giles?”
“I never properly proposed to you.” He whispered as he dropped to one knee in front of her.
“Oh my God…”
“I know that this is slightly inane…considering the fact that we’ve been married for nearly nine years and we have four beautiful children.” He cleared his throat and opened the box, gingerly plucking the diamond band from inside.
It was very similar to the one he had given her the night he did ask her to marry him, though the diamonds were a slightly different color. She swallowed as she fought back her tears and looked into his eyes.
“They, uh…they’re champagne diamonds. I…I thought they were rather beautiful. Much like you.” He smiled softly as she inhaled sharply. “I love you more every day, Buffy. Even after nine years, you still amaze me every single day. And I want nothing more than to spend the rest of my life with you. From the night I first kissed you, I knew that’s what I wanted.”
Buffy smiled down at him through teary eyes. “Sacred logs, chanting and bonfires. That was a fun night.”
He chuckled softly and took hold of her hand. “Aside from the melee that occurred after Willow’s phone call…yes. It was a fun night, indeed.”
“I love you so much, Giles.” She whispered, her voice thick with emotion.
“And I love you.” He cleared his throat again and gazed into her eyes. “Buffy…will you marry me?”
She squeezed his hand lightly and smiled. “If I say yes, do we have to actually get married again?”
His eyes twinkled with amusement as he shook his head. “I’ve always found vow renewal ceremonies to be without real purpose…and that’s not what I’m requesting. I simply wanted you to have the proposal you deserved years ago.”
A tear spilled down her cheek as she nodded. “Then my answer is yes.”
He exhaled deeply and gently slid the ring onto her finger until it rested against her original engagement ring. He looked at her hand and smiled as he lifted it to his lips and placed a tender kiss on the rings.
“Is it comfortable? I mean…the three rings together?” He asked as he stood up in front of her.
“Yeah…” She sighed as she examined the rings.
He smiled, placing two fingers under her chin and tilting her face towards him. “I would marry you all over again.”
She lifted her hand to his chest and rubbed the soft material of his shirt. “Take me home.”
“To Richmond?” He whispered, shuddering lightly under her touch.
“Too far right now. Take me back to the cottage.” She leaned up and kissed him warmly. “I still want to dance with you…”
“Well…we, uh…we’ll have to relieve Katie first…”
Her fingers played with his tie as she stared into his eyes. “Take me home.”
He inhaled sharply and gave her a quick nod before leading her back to their rented car.
* * *
Katie smiled as Giles offered her a cup of tea. She accepted and sat down in the chair. Buffy laughed as Katie told them about the night’s events.
“Braden seems quite knowledgeable about medieval weaponry.”
Buffy nodded, a small smile on her face. “He takes after his father. Giles has a fascination with it.”
“They’re wonderful children. So well-behaved…”
Giles snorted lightly as he carried a tray laden with a teapot, three cups, and a plate of cookies. “You don’t have to be nice. We’re well aware of how rambunctious our children can be.”
Katie shook her head quickly. “No, I’m being serious. They were wonderful. Especially Haddie. She’s such a darling little muffin.”
Giles snapped his eyes towards the woman as the tray slipped from his hands. Buffy jumped up from the couch as the cups shattered on the floor.
“Giles, are you okay?”
Giles stared at Katie, his voice lowering to a dangerous tone.
“Who are you?”
“Giles?” Buffy asked worriedly as she grasped his forearm. “What’s wrong?”
Giles continued staring at Katie. “What are you? A demon sent to – ”
Katie sighed softly. “I’m not a demon.”
“Giles!” Buffy had gone past worry, and was now demanding an answer from him. “What is going on?”
“Check the children, Buffy.”
Buffy didn’t need to be told twice. She let go of him and ran down the hall. She’d get the full story later, right now…he had her worried about their children’s safety.
Katie shook her head quickly as Buffy ran out of the room. “I’d never hurt your children. I’d never hurt anyone.”
“All the same…” He held up his hand as Katie started to stand. “Please…sit back down.”
He studied her silently, taking in her dark hair, the green eyes…the long fingers. Her name…
His eyes snapped back to her face, his mouth dropping open slightly. Buffy ran back into the room, announcing that the kids were fine and sleeping peacefully.
Katie smiled softly as she darted her eyes between the two people standing before her. “I would never intentionally cause them any grief.”
“What is your real name?” Giles asked cautiously.
Katie took a deep breath and exhaled slowly. “Katie…Dotson.”
Giles sank onto the couch, staring in disbelief. “My God.”
Buffy shook her head in confusion. “Wait…that was the name of – ”
“Amelia’s daughter.” Giles tilted his head and looked into Katie’s eyes. “My…daughter.”
When Katie smiled and nodded, Buffy dropped to the couch next to Giles. “But, I thought – ”
Giles felt his heart pound in his chest. “I…I was told that you…”
“Died shortly after birth?” She asked softly. “I did.”
“You’re a ghost?” Buffy’s eyes widened and she shook her head quickly. “But, you’re corporeal…”
Katie smiled, glancing at Buffy before meeting her father’s eyes again. “I am able to manifest for certain lengths of time…if the reason is good enough.”
“And the reason?” Giles whispered, picking out which of Katie’s features came from him and which came from Amelia.
“Haddie saw me.”
Buffy sat up straight. “You were at the museum…”
Katie nodded slowly. “Yes. Mum asked me to check on her children. And asked to stop in on the two of you.” She looked directly into Giles’ eyes. “She wanted to be sure that you’re doing okay.”
Giles looked away, taking a deep breath before standing and beginning to pace. “Is she – ”
Katie smiled, standing and taking a few steps towards Giles. “She’s fine. Beautiful, healed…and with James again. She’s still unable to leave, which is why I came for her. I wasn’t expecting to be seen.”
“I’m sorry.” Giles whispered.
Katie glanced at Buffy and then took another step in Giles’ direction. “I don’t understand…”
Giles turned slowly, his eyes watery. “I didn’t know. I didn’t know you existed until Buffy was pregnant with Braden.”
Katie smiled in understanding. “I know. I never held any anger towards you. How did you know I was something different than ‘Katie Rose, Professional Nanny’?”
“It was something you said. ‘Darling little muffin’…that’s what Amelia called Hadley one time. I laughed at her because I thought it was the most ridiculous thing I’d heard in years.”
Katie chuckled. “I gave myself away. That isn’t very impressive.”
Buffy pushed herself from the couch and made her way to her husband’s side. “Maybe you wanted to give yourself away?”
“Buffy…” Giles started, his tone one of warning. He stopped when Buffy looked up at him and smiled.
“No, I didn’t mean that in a bad way. Maybe it was the one chance she had to actually meet her father. And so…subconsciously, she gave herself away.”
Katie cleared her throat and sadness filled her eyes. “I…don’t have much time left. And there’s something you should know.”
Giles took Buffy’s hand and laced their fingers together as he looked into his daughter’s eyes. “What is it?”
“Haddie is very special. As in…I wasn’t the first ghost she has seen…and I won’t be the last.”
“What?” Buffy asked warily.
Giles shook his head slowly. “She’s never said anything…”
Katie smiled and ran her fingers through her hair in a manner that Giles recognized. Amelia used to twist her fingers in the ends of her hair just like Katie.
“They don’t frighten her. And they don’t come to her with the intentions of scaring her. Spirits are drawn to her.”
“Our daughter sees dead people?” Buffy asked, fear creeping into her voice.
Giles turned his head and looked at his wife. “She sees ghosts, Buffy.”
“Yeah…ghosts equal dead people.”
Giles shook his head, lifting his hand to place a comforting palm against her cheek. “Seeing ghosts…or spirits…well, it’s different than seeing dead people. What she sees is an unmarred version of the person who has died.”
“No blood? Or gross stuff?”
“No, love.” He whispered, his thumb gently rubbing her cheek. “No blood…no gross stuff.”
Katie smiled warmly. “Mum was right.”
Buffy and Giles both turned to look at her. Katie shrugged a shoulder, her smile growing.
“You two are right for each other. So much love…and you’re wonderful parents. Those kids adore you…each of them. I’ve never seen such devotion from children to their parents. And vice versa. Mum was right.”
Giles swallowed thickly, reaching out and gently taking Katie’s hand. “I’m sorry that I was unable to be a father for you.”
Katie smiled brightly and squeezed her father’s hand. “But, you would have. If things had been different, you would have. I know that. You see, I’ve always known who my father was. I used to watch you. You did some very naughty things…”
Giles blushed heavily.
“But, you’ve done some heroic things as well. And…I know you weren’t exactly thrilled to be moving to Sunnydale, but you followed your Calling. I’m proud of the fact that you were my father. I just wish we had more time to spend together.”
“I’m not going to see you again, am I?” Giles asked softly.
Katie lowered her eyes. “Probably not. But, Haddie will. And I’ll be around.”
Giles nodded in understanding. “Would you mind terribly if I hugged you?”
A tear escaped Katie’s left eye as she shook her head. “No, I wouldn’t mind.”
Giles pulled her into his arms and wrapped his tightly around her. Katie hugged him back, just as tightly. Buffy had mixed emotions about the entire situation.
This wasn’t at all how she had envisioned her evening. She had had a romantic dinner with her husband, followed by an even more romantic stroll along the lake. They come home to find that their nanny is actually the ghost of Giles’ daughter. A daughter who died hours after birth.
On top of that…their own daughter had the ability to see and communicate with ghosts.
She watched Giles carefully. He needed this. Upon learning of his first child’s birth and death twenty-seven years after the event had taken place, he had felt an extreme sense of guilt. She hoped that this…being able to have a conversation with Katie…would give him the closure he needed.
But, she was worried that it would only add to the guilt he had felt for the past few years.
* * *
An hour later, Katherine Rose Dotson was gone.
Giles sat on the couch and stared at the spot in the living room where she had vanished from. She had been able to say goodbye before she was forced to leave. If he were honest with himself, he hadn’t wanted to let her go. He wanted to know more…about her, about what she would’ve been, about what she…is.
She was more than a ghost, of that he was sure. Ghosts didn’t have the ability to become corporeal. They could, at times, allow themselves to be seen…but, he had never heard of one manifesting in a manner that would allow physical contact.
It was something that he’d probably research
once they had returned to
He wanted to make sure that he had been correct in stating the differences between ghosts and dead people. If he was wrong, there were things that could be done to protect Haddie. And he would protect her, and his sons, to the best of his ability and with no hesitation.
Buffy sat quietly, watching him. She watched his face, the different emotions showing their presence on his features. She saw the smile tug at his lips. And then she saw the smile fade.
“Giles? Are you okay?” She whispered, placing her hand on his thigh.
He turned to meet her eyes and, to her surprise, his smile resurfaced. “Yes, I believe I am.”
She returned his smile and leaned into him, pressing a tender kiss to his cheek. “I’m glad you are. I was a little worried.”
He lifted his hand and ran his fingers through her hair. “A few months ago, you taught me something.” He continued quickly before she had a chance to question him. “You taught me that I need not carry around guilt for events that were beyond my control. I feel no guilt here, Buffy. I feel…a sense of peace.”
Buffy leaned into his touch and sighed. “God, that’s good to hear.”
He chuckled softly and stood up, pulling her with him. When she raised an eyebrow in a silent question, he gestured towards the stereo.
“I believe I promised you a dance.”
“Yeah…” She responded almost breathlessly as he turned the stereo on. “You did.”
He smiled and pulled her into his arms, their bodies moving in rhythm with the soft music emanating from the speakers. And then he bent his head, brushing his lips across hers before spinning her gently in his arms. She laughed softly at his playfulness, her fingers caressing the side of his neck.
Katie stood in the corner of the room, invisible to her father and Buffy. She smiled happily as she watched them dance and laugh. She was glad that Haddie was special. At least this way, she could have some contact with a living member of her family.
She grinned as Giles covered Buffy’s mouth with his. She averted her eyes quickly when she realized exactly where the kiss was heading. She was happy for them and she really did like Buffy. She wasn’t lying when she told them that they were right for one another.
But, Giles…he was her father. And she really didn’t want to see her father becoming aroused. She shuddered at the thought and then chuckled before fading away.
The flight back to
Haddie had crawled between them shortly after the boys had fallen asleep. She was now sleeping peacefully with her head on his thigh and her body draped over Buffy’s legs. Buffy was asleep as well, her hand resting lightly on Haddie’s back and her cheek pressed against Giles’ upper arm.
He shifted slightly, moving his arm around Buffy. She whimpered softly, but didn’t wake up. Instead, she repositioned herself until her cheek was resting comfortably against his chest. Giles smiled and kissed the top of her head. The fingers of his right hand gently stroked his daughter’s soft hair.
He glanced over at the boys one last time and then closed his eyes.
* * *
Braden and Lucas were busy handing out gifts to everyone. Haddie and Evan were playing with Maria, Jake, and Rayna on the floor. Ethan laughed heartily when Lucas handed him a glittery keychain emblazoned with the Swedish flag and his name in gold lettering.
“Pick this out yourself, did you?”
Lucas nodded quickly, a bright smile on his face. “Do you like it?”
Ethan grinned and ruffled the boy’s hair. “I love it, mate. Thank you.”
“Don’t think I’ve ‘ad anything quite like this.”
Lucas put his left hand on his hip and looked into Ethan’s eyes. “Remember your h’s, Ethan. They’re there for a reason, you know.”
Giles snorted, choking on the sip of tea he had just taken.
Anya shook the snowglobe in her hand and smiled affectionately at Braden. “How did you know I’d like this?”
Braden grinned and shrugged a
shoulder. “You collect them. But, I didn’t think you had one of
“Now, see that island next to it?”
“This one?” Anya asked as she pointed to the island in question.
“Yep. That’s where Dad proposed to Mummy.”
It was Buffy’s turn to choke. Giles smiled and lightly patted her back as she composed herself.
“No. But, I hadn’t properly asked her to be my wife.”
“Took you nine years to do it?” Xander asked, amusement tinging his words.
Giles blushed lightly. “Thank you,
Anya nudged Xander in the ribs. “See, they’re not getting married again but he bought her a ring.”
Oz chuckled, twirling the Swedish pen that Lucas had presented him with. “So, Stockholm…nice?”
Buffy sighed heavily as she nodded. “Absolutely beautiful. And the cottage we stayed in was perfect.”
Giles grinned as Buffy described every detail of the cottage to their friends. He glanced at Ethan and noticed that he was staring at him. Ethan gestured towards the back door with a tilt of his head.
“Care to come out for a cigarette with me, Rupert?”
Realizing Ethan was wanting to talk,
he gave him a nod and kissed Buffy’s cheek.
She grinned at him and continued telling the others about the museums in
Giles followed Ethan outside and closed the door behind them. As Ethan lit a cigarette and took a deep drag, Giles smiled.
“Yeah, good.” Ethan gave him a quick nod. “His Mum’s a bit sick, so he’s helping out for a few days. Sends his regards though…along with a dinner request. The four of us.”
“Shouldn’t be a problem.” Giles leaned against the railing on the porch. “What’s on your mind, Ethan?”
“You.” He rolled his eyes as Giles raised an
eyebrow. “Not like that. What happened in
“ ‘You things’?”
“Yeah, museums and libraries and art galleries…you things. There’s something different about you. Both of you, actually.”
Giles exhaled slowly, seriously considering asking Ethan for a cigarette. “Haddie sees ghosts.”
Ethan coughed on a lungful of smoke. “Ease your way into it, now. No need to just come right out and tell me what’s bothering you.”
“There isn’t really a good way to ease into it, Ethan.”
“So, how did you figure this out? Did she come up to you and say ‘I see dead people’?”
Giles rolled his eyes and plucked the pack of cigarettes from Ethan’s jacket pocket. “You watch too many movies, Ethan.”
He opened the pack and looked longingly at the cigarettes before sighing and tossing it back to Ethan. “I’m not even sure she realizes what it is that she sees.”
“You sure you don’t want one?” Ethan asked, holding up the pack. When Giles shook his head, he slipped it back into his pocket. “So, how do you know?”
“One manifested and described the situation to us.”
Ethan stared at him for a moment and blew a smoke ring. “And why would you believe this manifesting ghost is telling you the truth?”
Giles cleared his throat and shoved his hands in his pockets. “Because.”
Ethan snorted and took another drag. “There’s a compelling argument.”
“It was my daughter.” Giles whispered hesitantly.
Ethan’s eyes widened. “Your – ”
“Katie. My daughter with Amelia.” He explained softly.
“Yeah, I know all about that…remember? It’s just…are you sure it was her?”
Giles smiled affectionately. “Yes. Certain even.”
“Well, that’s just bizarre.” He flicked his ashes over the railing of the porch. “Aren’t ghosts just…well, wouldn’t she still be a baby?”
Giles shook his head slowly. “Not necessarily. She has the ability to pick whatever age she wants to be. She chose to be her true age…thirty-six.”
“Huh.” Ethan was quiet for a moment and then met Giles’ eyes. “How did Buffy take it? Meeting Katie, I mean.”
Giles thought for a moment before answering. “I think it was a fairly confronting experience for her. It’s not as if she didn’t know, but…neither of us expected to…well, see her. She was understandably surprised, but very understanding and comforting.”
“Not threatened?” Ethan asked carefully.
“No. I was worried about that somewhat.” He sighed softly and glanced through the window, catching a glimpse of his laughing wife. “She’s an amazing woman.”
Ethan nodded in agreement. “So many men would take advantage of her understanding nature.”
Giles snapped his eyes back to Ethan. “Are you trying to say something?”
Ethan smiled at Giles’ defensive tone. “Only that I’m glad she has you because I know you wouldn’t take advantage of her.” He reached over and gently squeezed Giles’ shoulder. “How is Haddie dealing with all of this?”
Giles relaxed and sighed again. “She’s three years old. I’m rather sure she doesn’t really understand what it is that she sees.” He leaned back against the railing and crossed his arms over his chest. “What she sees doesn’t frighten her. For that, I’m extremely grateful.”
“Have you talked to her about it?”
At that moment, the young girl in question came running out the back door. As she wrapped her arms around Giles’ leg, he smiled.
“Not yet.” Giles answered before bending down and picking his daughter up.
Haddie giggled and kissed his cheek before hugging him tightly.
Ethan watched the exchange as he dropped his cigarette butt into the ashtray. He briefly wondered what it would be like to be a father. A true father to a child. He gave his head a quick shake to dislodge the thought and cleared his throat.
“Gettin’ a bit chilly out here. Suppose we should get the little one inside.”
Giles watched his friend walk back inside and then held his daughter above his head. “You, my darling princess, should get ready for bed.”
Haddie laughed as she flailed her arms and kicked her legs.
* * *
Five hours later, a sweat-drenched Giles stumbled to the bed with an equally sweaty Buffy in his arms. He had just spent the last hour bringing his wife to orgasm time and time again. The first twenty minutes had been spent with Buffy pressed against their bedroom wall, Giles on his knees in front of her. He had been able to make her come three times with his mouth before she pushed him onto his back.
He had felt her fluids bathe him twice more as she rode him before he rolled her onto her back. He had pounded his cock into her and as he felt her inner muscles tighten around him again, he groaned and allowed his own orgasm to crash over him.
The next fifteen minutes were spent with him lying beside of her, his fingers stroking her quivering flesh until she came again and whispered that she’d had enough. He smiled and struggled to his feet, carefully pulling her up with him.
Luckily, they weren’t that far from the bed. He was sure that he wouldn’t have been able to walk very far. As it was, he was able to push her onto the bed and collapse beside of her. He breathed heavily as her trembling fingers stroked his chest.
“First night home and I couldn’t even get you into the bed...”
She chuckled softly and draped her leg over his. “Well, you were Mr. Impatient tonight...”
He smiled as he turned his head to look at her. “More like ‘overly aroused’.”
“Call it what you want.” She grinned and kissed his chest. “I’m not complaining.”
When he was quiet for a few moments, she looked at him and smiled when she realized he had drifted into thought.
“Whatcha thinkin’ about?”
He exhaled slowly and ran his fingers through her hair. “Haddie.”
She propped her chin on her forearm, which was resting on his chest, and looked into his eyes. “Are you worried about her?”
“I wouldn’t necessarily say ‘worried’, but...I am concerned.” He answered softly. “I’m wondering if we should talk to her...find out exactly what she sees.”
“Twelve hours home and you’ve gone into research mode on me.” She leaned forward and lightly kissed his lips. “But, I agree. I have to admit that I’m a little more than ‘concerned’.”
“You always know what’s going on in my head?”
He gave her a gentle smile and shook his head. “Not always. But a lot of the time, yes.”
She shifted slightly and he felt her hardened nipple brush against his ribs. He gasped softly at the contact and tightened his arm around her.
“For instance...right now you’re wondering if I’m up for another round.” When she raised an eyebrow at him, he grinned. “You may have told me you’d had enough a little while ago, but...your body is telling me something different.”
She returned his grin and trailed her fingers down his stomach. “Are you?”
He licked his lips and ran his fingertips along her spine. “Give me a few more minutes, love.”
She moved her hand over the heated flesh and smiled.
The following day was a bright and sunny one. Buffy and Giles sat on the back porch watching their children play in the sand pit that Xander had built for them while they were away. Giles took a sip of his tea and spoke softly.
“I’m considering changing some things at the Council.”
Buffy raised an eyebrow and leaned back in her chair. “What kind of things?”
“Specifically the way the training of future Watchers is carried out.”
Buffy stared at him as he continued watching the children. “How so? And...why?”
“I haven’t worked out all of the details yet. I’m considering lengthening the training process.” He turned slowly to look at her. “Because most children are established in their schools at ten years of age. They have friends, have built relationships with their instructors...and I don’t believe it’s fair to take that away from them.”
“Speaking from experience here?”
He nodded and placed his mug on the table. “I had to give up everything when my training began. Some children adjust very well to the sudden change. I, uh...I did not.”
“And you’re worried about how Braden will react?”
“Of course, I am. As well as every other child set to enter the program. I don’t want our son to lose what he has now.”
Buffy could hear the determination in his voice very clearly. “So...how will it work?”
Giles sighed and shrugged a shoulder. “I’m not exactly sure. My first thought is to have the children remain at their current school three days a week and attend the Academy the other two days. It will mean a longer process, but...they’ll be able to maintain a relatively normal life as well as have their weekends free.”
Buffy nodded, immediately liking his idea. “And how long do you think it would take for them to complete the training?”
He tapped his finger on the table absently. “That’s something else that I’m thinking of changing. Some children learn and understand at a faster rate than others. In the past, it didn’t matter...it was a standard ten years of Academy training plus five years of field training before you could even be considered for activation.”
Buffy snorted. “ ‘Activation’? You make it sound like a switch gets flipped and suddenly, bam! You’re a Watcher.”
Giles chuckled softly. “Be that as it may, that’s the way it worked. Some children could take longer...some could take less time. If biannual tests and evaluations are given to each student, they can be appraised more efficiently. We might find that some children progress months, or even possibly years, quicker than others.”
Buffy raised an eyebrow and grinned. “And if this had been done when you were in training, how much quicker would you have graduated?”
Giles blushed lightly and cleared his throat. “That is a non-issue, Buffy.”
“Yeah, I know. But...color me curious.”
He ran his fingertip around the rim of his mug. “I started getting bored when I was fifteen. By the time I was seventeen, I was extremely restless. I wasn’t learning anything new...”
“So you decided to leave and find yourself?”
“Something like that.” He admitted softly. “I don’t want other children having to go through that due to Council Regulations.”
Buffy reached over and placed her hand over his. “I think it’s a very good idea, Giles. Even if our oldest son wasn’t less than two years away from officially starting his training, I would think it’s a good idea.”
Giles smiled as he relaxed. “Thank you.”
Buffy glanced at their children and furrowed her brow. She gently squeezed Giles’ hand and he followed her gaze. His own brow furrowed when he noticed Haddie off by herself next to one of the large trees.
It wasn’t the fact that the boys were still happily playing in the sand that made his heart begin to race. It was the fact that Haddie was giggling and apparently talking to someone.
Someone that neither Buffy nor Giles could see.
Though he felt anything but calm, Giles calmly pushed his chair back and stood, pulling Buffy with him. They made their way across the yard towards their daughter. Buffy noticed with slight amusement that their boys were completely clueless, being too busy building sand castles.
Giles cleared his throat and crouched down next to Haddie. Buffy knelt beside of him. Haddie looked up and grinned brightly.
Giles smiled and gently ran his fingers through her blonde curls. “Hello, Hadley.”
Haddie turned her green eyes to Buffy and smiled even wider. “Hi Mummy!”
“Hey, Princess. Whatcha doin’?”
Haddie held up the pink sparkly pony. “Playin’ horsies with Nessa.”
Buffy and Giles exchanged a quick glance and Giles cleared his throat softly. “What does Nessa look like?”
Giles tilted his head slightly. “Glittery?”
Haddie shook her head as she looked towards the seemingly empty space. “No. Kinda like water.”
Buffy thought for a second. “Like water? Maybe shimmering like when you throw a rock in the pond and the water ripples?”
Haddie bit her lip in concentration, a habit that never failed to make her father smile, and then nodded. “Yeah, like that.”
Giles sat down on the grass next to Haddie and pulled her onto his lap. “When you see these shimmering people, do you get frightened?”
Haddie shook her head quickly. “No, they nice. We play and talk.”
Giles nodded and kissed his daughter’s temple. “Okay. But, promise to tell us if they scare you?”
“Yep.” She looked to her right and smiled before looking back at Giles. “Nessa likes you.”
Giles smiled warmly. “Well, tell her I said ‘thank you’.”
“Can we play some more now?”
Buffy chuckled softly and picked Haddie up from Giles’ lap. She gave her a cuddle and a kiss on the cheek before placing her back on the ground.
“Have fun, Princess.”
Haddie nodded and then giggled. “Nessa says you pretty, Mummy.”
Buffy smiled and then looked in the direction where she assumed Nessa was situated. “Thank you, Nessa.”
Giles sat where he was for a moment, listening and watching his daughter play with Nessa. Buffy lightly tapped him on the shoulder to get his attention. When he looked up at her, Buffy tilted her head towards the back porch.
Giving Haddie another quick kiss, he pushed himself off the ground and followed Buffy back to the porch.
“What do you think?”
Giles stopped, watching Evan and Lucas bury their older brother’s legs in the sand. “Shimmering entities are generally benevolent spirits. There have been a few cases of malevolence, but it’s very rare.”
“And the glittery ones?”
Giles looked down at her, his eyes giving the answer before his words left his lips.
“Evil, soulless entities intent on causing fear in those that can see them.”
Buffy took a deep breath and exhaled slowly. “Well, let me just say ‘yay for shimmerings’ then.”
Giles smiled, slipping his arm around Buffy’s shoulders. “Yes, quite.”
“Daddy! Hep us!” Evan called, holding a bucket of sand up before dumping it over Braden’s ankles.
Giles laughed as Buffy nudged him.
“Go on, play in the sand with the boys. You know you want to. I’ll go get lunch ready.”
Giles leaned down and pressed a tender kiss to her lips before moving away. Hearing Haddie’s bright giggle, he looked over at her and chuckled. He smiled brightly as he kicked off his shoes and stepped into the sandbox.
He laughed as Evan attempted to tackle him and knock him to the sand.
Buffy grinned as she stood on the porch and watched her family. Her husband and sons playing happily in the sand, her daughter laughing at something Nessa had said or done. She supposed that she should feel apprehensive about her daughter playing with a ghost. But, all she felt was a sense of peace.
As she made her way inside, the doorbell rang. She hurried through the house and opened the door to find Ethan on the doorstep.
“Hello, Buffy. Sorry for just dropping in.”
She waved her hand in a dismissal of his apology and laughed. “Come on, you can help me make sandwiches for the kids.”
Ethan narrowed his eyes as he walked in and closed the door behind him. “Well, I didn’t actually come over to cook.”
Buffy snorted as she led him into the kitchen. “Making sandwiches is hardly cooking. Besides, Haddie loves it when you make sandwiches for her.”
Ethan chuckled and opened the bread box. “That’s hardly fair, using your daughter’s love for me against me.”
Buffy grinned at him and opened the refrigerator. “So, what brings you by today?”
Ethan opened the loaf of bread and glanced at Buffy. “I was concerned about Haddie. I was doing a little research on spirits last night...”
Buffy smiled affectionately and handed him the block of cheese. “She sees shimmerings.”
Ethan breathed a sigh of relief and leaned against the counter. “Thank God.”
Buffy regarded him carefully as she pulled a knife from the knife block. “You know...as much of a troublemaker as you used to be...you’ve really changed a lot in the past ten years or so.”
Ethan blushed lightly as he began slicing the cheese. “I’m sure I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
Buffy chuckled, slicing the tomato and placing the slices on the bread. “The kids missed you while we were gone. Especially Haddie and Lucas.”
“Mm-hm. Haddie kept saying ‘Where’s Even?’”
Ethan laughed as he added the cheese
to the sandwiches. “I find it amusing
that each of your children called me something different. With Braden it was ‘
“Eban. I know, it makes me laugh every time he says it.”
They were loading the sandwiches onto a platter when Evan came running inside, trailing sand behind him. “Mummy, we hungy!”
“Stop!” Buffy said quickly and pointed at the floor. “You’re tracking sand everywhere.”
Evan stopped immediately and looked behind him. As he looked back up, he noticed Ethan standing there.
Ethan laughed and walked around the counter, kneeling down in front of Evan and ruffling his hair. “Hi there. What are you doing?”
“Berrying Daddy. Is fun. You pay too?”
Ethan looked up at Buffy, confusion in his eyes. Buffy laughed as she picked up the platter.
“They’re playing in the sandbox.”
“Ah. Then it all makes sense.” He looked back at Evan and grinned. “How about after lunch?”
“Okay!” Evan started back out the door and then stopped, looking around the kitchen. “Mital?”
Ethan chuckled. “Michael wasn’t able to come today, but he told me to tell you ‘hi’ and that he’d see you soon.”
Evan nodded and grinned brightly before running back outside. Ethan stood up and took the platter from Buffy’s hands.
“That’s nearly as cute as ‘Eban’.”
“Cute?” Buffy snickered. “Ethan Rayne used the word ‘cute’ to describe my son?”
Ethan raised an eyebrow. “I’ll deny it should it ever get out.”
Buffy laughed as she followed Ethan out onto the porch. The children came running quickly at the sight of food. She laughed harder as Giles dug himself out of the sand and walked over, brushing the grains from his jeans.
Giles smiled at her as he climbed the porch steps. “I have sand in areas that sand should never be.”
Ethan snorted and pushed the platter towards his friend.
As he listened to the children chatter excitedly about anything and everything, Ethan grinned and thought, not for the first time, that being a surrogate uncle wasn’t all that bad.