Timeline: One month after Zephyr.
Synopsis: There’s only one type of love that truly unconditional.
Author’s Note: Part XXXII of the Giles Family Series.
Giles smiled as he looked out the kitchen window, watching Evan and Callie take turns chasing one another around the yard. Hearing a soft snore, he grinned and turned his gaze to the newest member of the family...who was currently sleeping soundly in Callie’s bed in the corner of the kitchen.
Zephyr had integrated himself within the family nearly immediately. Callie had become very protective of the puppy, becoming more of a mother-figure for him than anything else. More than once she’d put him into place with a low growl.
Giles had mused that training Zeph was going to be a lot easier due to Callie’s influence. Buffy had laughed at him, but it was proving true. Zephyr was already sitting, staying, dropping, standing...and doing them all perfectly. Something that Giles had had to work with Callie on.
But, he was still a puppy. Giles chuckled as he watched Zephyr roll onto his back and stretch all four legs. A very cute puppy, Giles amended his thoughts.
Hearing the front door open and close, he looked at the clock and narrowed his eyes. It was way too early for any member of his immediate family to be back. He shook his head in amusement as he waited for his visitor. There was only one person who didn’t bother knocking, or ringing the doorbell, these days.
Just as Ethan walked into the kitchen, the microwave’s timer dinged. Ethan sniffed the air, nodding appreciatively.
“What’s for lunch?” Ethan asked before looking over his shoulder and into the living room. “And where is everyone?”
Ethan chuckled and opened the refrigerator. “Well, that was a longer explanation than I was expecting.”
Giles shrugged and pulled a loaf of bread from the bread box. “If I hadn’t told you, you would’ve just asked about them individually...and that would’ve taken longer. What are you looking for?”
“Don’t know...something good?” Ethan grinned and looked over at Giles. His grin was quickly replaced with a scowl. “What the hell are you doing?”
“Getting Evan’s lunch ready.” Giles replied casually. “Could you hand me the cheese?”
“Top shelf, behind the jam. The Kraft cheese, not the proper cheese.” Giles shook his head disdainfully as he carefully spooned some of the contents from the container onto a slice of bread. “He takes after his mother in that respect.”
“What do you mean?” Ethan asked as he pulled the package of sliced cheese out of the refrigerator. “And, really...what the hell are you doing?”
“I told you...Evan’s lunch. And he’ll only eat this processed, cheese-like...substance.” Giles responded with a light shudder. “Just like his mother. Bloody colonials...”
Ethan snorted, dropping the package of cheese on the
counter. “She’s acclimatized to
“I blame Xander...and
Ethan continued to watch Giles assemble the sandwich, furrowing his brow as Giles opened the oven and slid the finished sandwich under the grill. “Has to be toasted, huh?”
“If it’s not toasted, then the cheese doesn’t melt.” Giles sighed heavily and glanced back out the window. “I’ve been cooking for over forty years and my six-year-old son is giving me culinary advice.”
Ethan laughed out loud at that comment and leaned against the counter, crossing his arms over his chest. “He’s a bit of a spitfire...always has been.”
Giles smiled and reached over to place the lid on the container of cooling spaghetti. “Mm-hm, that’s a...polite...way of saying he’s a high-maintenance child.”
“Polite? When have I ever been polite?” Ethan scoffed. “And why don’t you just use tinned spaghetti? Seems like that’d be easier. Especially for sandwiches...”
“Tinned spaghetti? I’ll not have my children consuming such rubbish.” Giles stared incredulously at Ethan as he picked up the package of cheese. “That’s worse than this vile...thing...that passes for cheese. If he’s going to insist on eating something that revolting then it’s at least going to have some amount of nourishment to it.”
“So you make your own spaghetti?”
Giles returned the cheese and container of remaining pasta to the refrigerator, nodding as he closed the refrigerator door. “At least I know what’s in it.”
“You make your own spaghetti...in what looks like would have to be at least a double batch...and keep it in Tupperware in the fridge so that your son can have spaghetti sandwiches...”
Giles carefully pulled the nicely toasted sandwich out of the oven and slid it onto a plate. Hearing the amusement in Ethan’s tone, the corner of Giles’ mouth quirked into a smile. He grabbed a knife from the knife block and precisely cut the sandwich into four pieces.
“I do...” Giles replied, pulling a fork from the dish drainer and placing it on the plate along with the sandwich. “Because he’s my son. Do me a favour and call him in?”
Ethan chuckled and glanced over at Zephyr, who was now staring back at him through chocolate brown eyes as the tip of his tail wagged. “Hey, Zeph...”
At the sound of his name, Zephyr stood up and stretched as he yawned. As Ethan opened the back door to call Evan, Zephyr galloped across the kitchen...his nails clicking against the hardwood floor. Giles laughed as the puppy slid between Ethan’s legs and raced onto the back porch at the same time as Evan ran up the steps.
Evan barely gave Ethan enough time to step to the side before he ran through the door, excitedly asking about his sketti sandwich. He paused when his father gave him a look, smiling sheepishly as he looked up at Ethan and grinned.
Ethan chuckled and ruffled the boy’s hair. “Hey, Evvie. Your dad said that it’d be okay if we shared lunch.”
Giles stifled his laughter as he listened to his son tell Ethan, in no uncertain terms, that if he wanted a sketti sandwich, he could get his own. Ethan was unable to stifle his laughter...calling out a ‘hi’ to Callie before pushing the door closed.
Callie wagged her tail and gave a deep welcoming bark, wagging her tail as she watched Ethan close the door before nudging Zephyr with her nose. Zephyr took the hint and quickly found a place to squat. Callie waited, sitting patiently until Zephyr jumped up and launched himself at her.
For a moment, Giles watched the two roll around on the grass in play...smiling as Callie playfully batted the puppy with her paw. Knowing that Callie would take care of Zephyr, Giles grabbed the plate and gestured for Evan to sit at the table.
Evan grinned up at his father as he climbed into a chair. “Thanks Daddy!”
Giles put the plate in front of him, leaning down to kiss the top of the boy’s head. “You’re welcome, Ev. Remember to use your serviette, okay?”
“It’s a napkin...” Evan stated as he picked up his fork and cut through one of the four pieces of sandwich. “Mummy says.”
Giles huffed a soft laugh and then gave Ethan a pointed look. He didn’t say a word, but Ethan could read the word plainly in Giles’ eyes.
Ethan answered with a grin and pulled out the chair opposite Evan’s. “Yeah, Rupe...it’s a napkin.”
Giles rolled his eyes and pushed the serviette closer to Evan’s hand.
* * *
Evan had just finished his lunch, with Zephyr and Callie sitting either side of his chair to clean up any scraps that he might drop, when Giles smiled brightly. Ethan arched an eyebrow at his best friend as he finished off a ham and cheddar sandwich that he’d made for himself.
“What are you smiling about?” He asked, chewing and swallowing the last mouthful.
“If someone had told me twenty years ago that one day you’d be sitting at my kitchen table, having lunch and teasing one of my children relentlessly about spaghetti sandwiches...”
Ethan snorted and gave him a quick nod. “Yeah, I know. Michael and I were talking about...” He glanced at Evan and then sat back in his chair, quickly substituting his words. “...how things used to be just the other day.”
“How did things used to be?” Evan asked, wiping his hands on the spaghetti sauce-smeared napkin.
“Different.” Giles replied, handing his son a clean napkin to use instead. “Sometimes, friends...grow apart. It isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it can make life different.”
Evan wiped the napkin across his mouth and furrowed his brow. “Huh?”
“You know how you sometimes argue with your brothers and sister?” Giles asked, pausing until Evan gave him a nod. “Well, Ethan and I used to argue...quite a lot. And for a while, we weren’t friends anymore.”
Evan’s eyes widened as they darted between his father and Ethan. “Really?”
“Mm-hm. But, when Mummy was pregnant with Braden...Ethan did something very good. And after that, we decided that we’d be friends again.”
Ethan raised an eyebrow at the very condensed, and child-friendly, version of their reconciliation. Expecting a question about what it was that he had done, Ethan sat back in his chair and smiled at Evan.
Evan smiled back and rubbed Callie’s head. “I’m glad you and Daddy are friends again.”
“Yeah?” Ethan’s smile grew and he glanced at Giles before reaching down to scoop Zephyr up. “Me too, Evvie.”
“Wanna play the PlayStation with me?”
Ethan chuckled and gave him a nod. “Yeah, okay...as long as it’s not tennis.”
Giles grinned and waited for the impending argument. He wasn’t disappointed, Evan protesting Ethan’s refusal to play his favourite game. Ethan gave in quickly, just as Giles had expected, and followed Evan into the living room.
Giles cleared the lunch dishes from the table and smiled at Callie. “You going to keep an eye on them or are you coming with me to wake Declan up?”
Callie stood up and wagged her tail, her brown eyes shining brightly as she smiled up at him. Giles chuckled and reached down to give her a scratch behind her ear.
“You really do have a beautiful smile,
Callie followed him across the kitchen, nudging her nose against the back of his knee as he placed the dishes into the sink. Giles shook his head in amusement and looked down at her.
“Alright, alright...let’s go wake Declan up then.”
Callie took a step back, wagging her tail furiously before turning and running from the room. Giles laughed softly, knowing that Callie would be waiting outside Declan’s door by the time he got there.
Buffy smiled, sitting down on a bench as Haddie chased after Maria. “Better than I would’ve thought, actually. He’s seemed to have...it’s almost like’s he’s embraced it as well as accepting it. It’s weird.”
“Well, yeah...but, it’s a good kind of weird. I mean...he seems really happy about it.” Buffy chuckled as Haddie tripped over a tree root. “And...I have to admit, it made me really happy too. After I found out that there were no weird side-effects or anything. It’s nice knowing that I’ll be able to grow old with my husband.”
“You were really worried about that, huh?”
Buffy shrugged a shoulder and picked at a loose thread on the hem of her jacket. “At first I was worried about leaving him with two...then three, then four kids. But, by the time Declan came along...I was worried about losing him when the kids were still young. I guess that’s the price you pay when you marry someone who’s twenty-four years older than you.”
“It’s just kinda funny that you didn’t seem to worry about that until you’d been married for thirteen years...”
“Thirteen years on Tuesday.” Buffy corrected automatically. “You know...you hear stories about men forgetting anniversaries and such, but...Giles has never forgotten once. Not even the little things, like...”
Buffy blushed lightly, causing
“Your attempts at segues aren’t getting any better as you
get older, you know.”
“Oh...” Buffy nodded, keeping a close eye on the girls as they climbed onto the see-saw. “What’s wrong with his bracelet?”
“Jake accidentally snagged it while they were playing last night. One of the blood beads came a little loose...Oz is a little worried about it. Especially since the full moon starts next week.”
Buffy sighed softly.
So softly that
“Huh? Oh...yeah, I just...patrolling isn’t as fun as it used to be.” Buffy answered quietly. “Giles never comes with me anymore...and I understand why. It’s just...I miss patrolling with him. This is the only downfall to having a large family that I’ve found.”
“If we had one or two, I would’ve already asked. I can’t ask you guys to watch five extra kids.”
“Well...it’s really only three. I mean, Braden and Lucas are old enough to help out.”
Buffy snorted as she shook her head in amusement. “Yeah, if they’re not busy arguing with each other.”
“Really, Buffy...let us do this. You and Giles...well, I think Giles kinda
misses going on patrol too.”
Buffy’s face reddened immediately as her eyes widened. “What?”
“Okay!” Buffy interrupted, a little more loudly than she had intended...clearing her throat when Maria and Haddie both looked over at her. “I’ll talk to Giles about it...if you’re sure.”
Buffy carefully changed the subject again. And
* * *
Giles smiled as he watched Declan follow Zephyr around the room, laughing as his youngest child clapped his hands and called out “Deppy!”.
“Zephyr.” Evan corrected, rolling a ball down the hall for Callie.
“Yep...Deppy!” Declan grinned at his brother.
Evan laughed and handed a smaller ball to Declan, gesturing towards the hall. “Roll it for Zeph, Deccie.”
Giles flinched as the ball left Declan’s hand...in the opposite direction. Ethan laughed heartily, meeting Giles’ eyes.
“At least it missed the lamp.”
“Yes, quite.” Giles agreed, giving Evan a pointed look. “I’m fairly certain that Declan doesn’t have the dexterity for ball handling yet, Evan.”
“Huh?” Evan asked, confusion in his green eyes.
“Let’s not ask Declan to roll the ball for the dogs, okay?” Giles clarified with a wink.
“Oh, okay.” Evan nodded as he picked up the ball.
“More!” Declan declared, reaching for the ball in his brother’s hand.
Giles shook his head. “No, Declan. No more balls.”
Declan turned towards his father and furrowed his brow. Ethan choked on the mouthful of water he had just attempted to swallow.
Giles stifled his grin and shook his head again. “No throwing things in the house. I have an idea, why don’t you show Uncle Ethan your blocks?”
“Box!” Declan exclaimed, his furrow giving way to a bright grin.
Ethan finally got himself under control as Declan toddled over the toy box in the corner of the room, falling only twice on the way. “Oh, that was just...so very you, Rupert!”
“Buffy says the same when he gives her that look.” Giles responded with a smile. “I find it rather adorable.”
“Well, it is.” Ethan agreed. “I thought it was strange how much he looks like you...but, his mannerisms...did Buffy even get a look-in with this one?”
“Mm-hm...he has her toes.” Giles answered absently.
Ethan watched Declan carry the blocks back towards him, dropping a few across the living room on his way. He smiled adoringly at the boy as he picked him up and sat him down on the couch next to him. He glanced over at Giles as Declan started handing him the blocks one by one.
“You okay?” He asked, noticing the faraway look in Giles’ eyes.
“Hm? Oh...yes.” Giles nodded, sighing when Ethan gave him the look that said he didn’t quite believe him. “It’s just...Buffy has patrol tonight.”
“Mm.” Giles murmured, reaching down to pick up one of the lost blocks.
“Want me and Michael to watch the kids for you?” Ethan asked, gesturing to the block in Giles’ hand.
Giles tossed the block over to him and narrowed his eyes. “What?”
“Look...I know you miss patrolling with her. It’s not easy with five kids and I can’t remember the last time you went out with her...in the role of her Watcher.”
“It’s Saturday night...don’t you two have plans?”
Ethan shook his head and handed the blue block to Declan. “No, not tonight. Tomorrow, yes. Anya’s coming over...”
Giles narrowed his eyes. “You’re really going to do it?”
“Yeah. I mean...Michael was against it at first, but...”
“But?” Giles prompted as Ethan paused.
“Nothing bad happened to you.” Ethan finished after a moment. “He was worried that something would go wrong, but you’re fine. And I can’t say that I hate the idea of having an extra twenty years with him.”
A small smile played at Giles’ lips as he glanced towards the hall, where Evan was currently chasing Callie up and down the hall while Zephyr chased him. “I know what you mean.”
After a slight hesitation, Ethan grinned and ruffled Declan’s hair as he raised an eyebrow at Giles. “So...did it enhance anything?”
Giles rolled his eyes. “Really, Ethan...only you would even think to ask.”
“Anya would’ve asked.” Ethan argued, his eyes sparkling.
“Buffy stopped her before she could.” Giles admitted, chuckling as he stood up. “I wouldn’t have answered anyway. Just like I’m not answering now.”
Ethan gave him a mock-scowl, to which Giles smiled.
“But...Buffy and I have never needed enhancements.” Giles stated, picking up the other blocks Declan had dropped.
“Toys aren’t enhancements?” Ethan asked, clearly enjoying the turn in the conversation.
Giles glanced at Declan, tossing the blocks back into the toy box as he shook his head. “No...toys are for playing.”
Ethan licked his lips and cleared his throat. “And do we have play time often?”
“Why do I have the feeling that you’re not talking about building blocks?”
Giles and Ethan both turned towards the voice, Giles’ face reddening as Haddie bounded into the room and made a bee-line for him. He picked her up and kissed her cheek before asking how her shopping trip had been.
“Good!” Haddie grinned, wrapping her arms around her father’s neck. “All ready for Antonia’s party tomorrow. Are you and Ethan playing with toys?”
Ethan coughed and rubbed the back of his neck. Giles glanced at Buffy, not really surprised to find her sitting on the arm of the couch and smiling knowingly at him. He shook his head and sighed heavily.
“No, Princess...we were talking about Declan’s next playdate.”
“Oh, that’s tomorrow...” She turned and looked at her mother questioningly. “Right, Mummy?”
“Mm-hm.” Buffy nodded, her eyes sparkling with
amusement. “While you
and Maria are at Antonia’s party.
Haddie smiled brightly, her fingers curling in her father’s hair. “That means you and Mummy have to keep Bay and Luke company!”
Giles shook his head, eyes darting to Buffy before settling back on his daughter. “No...Braden and Lucas have their music lessons tomorrow.”
Ethan grinned and pulled Declan onto his lap. “Oh, Michael and I can drop them off and pick ‘em back up. Might even make a stop by the football field afterwards. Local match tomorrow, you know...”
Haddie thought for a moment and furrowed her brow. “But...won’t you be lonely with all of us gone?”
Ethan successfully stifled his laugh. Buffy bit her lip to keep from laughing and reached over to take Declan from Ethan. Giles merely smiled at his daughter and kissed her cheek before brushing her blonde hair back from her face.
“Well...your mother has fallen behind on her training again. I suppose we’ll have to do something to catch her back up. For now...Evan’s missed you. Callie and Zeph can keep him entertained for only so long.”
“Where is he?” Haddie asked as Giles lowered her to the ground.
“In his room, I would imagine. He was playing in the hall earlier.” He glanced over at Buffy, chuckling as Declan squirmed in her arms. “Take Declan with you...but don’t let him throw anything.”
Haddie nodded and took off down the hall. Buffy raised an eyebrow at her husband as Declan trotted along behind his sister.
“Do I want to know?”
“Probably not.” He replied with a grin as the sounds of the giggles of their three youngest children wafted down the hall.
“Well, I for one would like to know...whatever will you do without the kids around, Rupe?” Ethan asked, grinning as he gave his best friend wink.
Giles met Buffy’s eyes and felt a sudden rush of desire. The look in her eyes told him that she’d felt the same thing.
“Well, she is behind in her training...”
Ethan snorted and pushed himself off the couch. “Training...that’s a definite euphemism if I’ve ever heard one. We’ll be back in time for patrol, yeah?”
Giles rolled his eyes, but nodded just the same...smiling as Ethan kissed Buffy’s cheek before fishing his keys out of his pocket. Ethan twirled the keys around his index finger, whistling to himself as he left the room.
“Training?” Buffy asked as the front door open and closed. “That’s the best you could come up with?”
“Well...” Giles started, lowering his voice as he walked over to stand in front of her. “I couldn’t tell my daughter that I have very carnal plans for you...could I?”
“How carnal?” Buffy asked teasingly, slipping the index finger of her right hand into his belt loop and tugging him forward.
“Enough to make you blush, love.” He whispered, bending down to capture her lips in a heated kiss.
Buffy thought of a perfect response just as his tongue slipped into her mouth.
She made a quick decision that her response could wait.
“Giles...” Buffy whispered as he sat down on the couch and pulled her from the arm, his lips firmly attached to the side of her neck.
“Mm?” He mumbled against her skin, settling her atop his thighs.
“You should stop...” She croaked out, closing her eyes as she felt him harden beneath her.
“Stop me.” He whispered, kissing his way to her throat.
“The kids could come in here...oh, that’s...Giles!” She put her hands on his chest and pushed herself back. “Really...the kids could – ”
“If I hadn’t thought of that, I’d already be inside of you.” He interrupted, pulling her left hand from his chest and placing a warm kiss on the palm. “Would you like me to patrol with you tonight?”
Her brow furrowed at the oddly timed question. “Well, yeah...and
“Full house tonight, it seems.” He stated, grazing his teeth across the heel of her palm.
“Huh?” She asked, shuddering as his tongue flicked over the inside of her wrist.
“Ethan volunteered himself and Michael as well.” He whispered, pulling her right hand from his chest and repeating the soft kisses and grazes. “Maybe we should call Xander and Anya...make it a full family affair?”
“They’re busy...taking the girls to...” She inhaled sharply as he met her eyes, not bothering to hide his lust for her. “Uh...Halfrek’s sister’s cousin’s wedding...or something. Giles...we really need to stop now...”
He licked his lips and gave her a nod. “As long as you know that I really don’t want to right now.”
She smiled and leaned down to brush her lips across his. “I think that’s pretty apparent.”
“I love you, Buffy.” He whispered, reaching up to tuck a strand of hair behind her ear.
She sat back on his thighs and smiled adoringly at him. “I love you too. And...I really don’t want to stop either, you know?”
He glanced at her lips as his fingers traced the pale scar on her neck. “We...could make each other come quickly...”
She shivered at the contact, her fingers gripping his shoulders. “Is that what you want? To come fast? Here on the couch?”
“I want to come.” He stared into her eyes and swallowed hard. “Where and how quickly are only determined by the fact that we have three young children who could possibly come in here at any given moment. And still...I want to come. With you, if not in you.”
He smiled as her voice trembled. “And you want to come as well.”
“Not here.” She shook her head, glancing over her shoulder. “We can’t...”
He took a deep breath and moved his hands to her hips. He offered her a gentle smile when she quickly turned back to him as he shifted her from his lap.
“You’re right. We can’t...” He gave her a tender kiss, caressing her cheek with his fingers. “We’ll just have to make the most of tomorrow afternoon.”
“Yeah...” She licked her lips and sighed, fighting the urge to climb right back on top of him. “Are you upset with me?”
He chuckled softly as he shook his head. “Not in the least. But, I do think I’m going to have to take a cold shower.”
“Giles, I – ”
He interrupted her quickly with a kiss, pulling away before he lost control once more. “I won’t be long.”
After another quick kiss, he pushed himself up...carefully adjusting his erection in his jeans as he gave her a smile. “We could always stop off somewhere before we come home in the morning...if you want.”
She returned his smile as she curled into the corner of the couch. “Sounds good...”
Hearing a crash come from Evan’s room, Giles grimaced. Buffy sighed heavily and waved him off.
“Go on...I’ll see what they’ve done.”
He thought once about checking on them himself, but thought better of it when she gave him a very pointed look. Instead, he gave her a broad smile and a nod before slipping down the hall and into their bedroom.
With another shake of her head, she stood up and started down the hall...wondering just what she’d find when she got to Evan’s room.
* * *
Braden grinned as he looked into Evan’s bedroom. “Hey, Mum...we’re home.”
Buffy looked over her shoulder at him as she picked up a large shard of glass from the lamp that had shattered on the floor. “Did you two have fun?”
Lucas nodded as he stepped into the room and surveyed the damage. “Yeah...what happened in here?”
Buffy snorted and gestured to the bed...where three children were sitting quietly. Haddie was leaning against the pillows, a book in her hand and Declan on her lap. Evan was sitting cross-legged, back against the wall and arms crossed over his chest. Callie was sitting next to Evan with her chin on his shoulder and Zephyr was asleep...his head resting on Callie’s foot.
“Declan knocked the lamp off the table.” Evan supplied with a heavy sigh. “I liked that lamp...”
“Well, Dec wouldn’t have knocked the lamp off the table if you hadn’t put his bear behind it.” Haddie reasoned, flipping the page of the book and smiling as Declan barked at the picture of the dog.
Braden chuckled and knelt next to his mother. “Need some help?”
“Oh, I’ve gotten the worst of it up...thanks, though.” She smiled as Braden held the trashbag open for her. “How’s Jason doing?”
Braden sighed and shrugged a shoulder. “He misses Matt. I just...can’t believe that his father kicked him out of the house.”
“Well...” Buffy started quietly, looking into her eldest child’s bright green eyes. “Sometimes, things are hard for families to deal with...and not all families deal with the same problems the same ways...”
“Is that your way of saying that you and Dad wouldn’t kick us out?” Braden asked, dropping his voice to a near whisper as Lucas climbed onto the bed and nudged Evan with his shoulder.
Buffy furrowed her brow. “Well, no...that’s not what I was trying to say. I mean...we wouldn’t. I can’t think of anything that would cause us to do something like that. Braden...”
“Not me.” He whispered, leaning over to kiss her cheek. “Where’s Dad?”
“In the shower...” She tilted her head slightly, looking for further information.
Braden shook his head lightly and took the trashbag from her, carefully tying it. “Not my story...and I don’t even know if it’s a true story. I don’t even think he knows yet.”
“But, you think so?”
Braden shrugged and sat back on his heels. “Does it matter? Really, in the grand scheme of things...does it matter?”
Buffy shook her head and reached up to run her fingers through his hair. “No, not really...as long as you all are happy...that’s all your father and I have ever wanted for each of you.”
“You patrolling tonight?” Braden asked, effectively ending the conversation. When she nodded, Braden smiled. “Dad going with you this time?”
“Yeah, but...Willow, Oz, Ethan, and Michael are coming over.” Buffy stated softly, glancing at the four younger children on the bed.
Evan giggled as Lucas tickled his ribs, Haddie and Declan giggling as they watched the boys play together. Buffy turned her eyes back to Braden and smiled lovingly.
“How did you get to be so sweet?”
Braden blushed and rubbed the back of his neck in a gesture very reminiscent of his father. “Stop it, Mum...”
Buffy chuckled and stood up, ruffling his hair. “I need to go run your father out of the shower so I can have one...”
Braden nodded and tilted his head towards the bed. “We’ll go out back with Callie and Zephyr...not much they can break out there if they’re running around. Tell Dad to come out and play with us, okay?”
Buffy nodded in response, wondering when her little boy had turned into a young man. She sighed as she stepped into the hall.
Their children were growing up so quickly. Proof that time stood still for no one...as much as they’d want otherwise. She smiled as Braden jumped onto the bed with the others, giggling maniacally.
Maybe their eldest still had childish tendencies after all.
* * *
Giles grinned widely as the shower door opened and Buffy slipped in. “I thought I was going to run out of hot water before you made an appearance.”
She raised an eyebrow and moved into his arms. “Were you that sure that I was going to join you?”
“More hopeful than sure...” He whispered, running his fingers down the side of her cheek as he lowered his mouth to hers.
When her reaction wasn’t exactly what he had expected, he pulled back and brushed her wet hair back from her face. “What is it, love?”
“Nothing...” She answered quickly, sighing when she realized by the look in his eyes that she’d answered too quickly. “Can you just...hold me?”
“Talk to me.” He whispered, wrapping his arms around her and drawing her against his chest. “I can’t help you if you don’t tell me what’s wrong.”
She shook her head and placed a kiss on his chest. “Can we talk later? I promise, I’ll tell you...just...just not now.”
“Alright.” He gave a soft sigh of resignation, knowing that she was determined not to discuss whatever was bothering her. At least, not right now. “What can I do?”
“I don’t know.” She whispered, lifting her head to look up at him. “Do you still want me?”
He glanced at her lips, nodding before his words were fully formed. “Always, Buffy. But...”
“Not here, not now?” She asked in a voice barely audible over the water, lifting her arms and wrapping them around his neck.
“Not like this.” He licked his lips and rubbed his thumb along her bottom lip. He gasped as she rocked her body against his. “Of course, if you keep that up...I’m liable to change my mind.”
She smiled, pressing a kiss to the pad of his thumb as she felt his erection swell against her abdomen. “Do you still need to come?”
“Want...” He corrected gently, sliding his hands down to her hips to still her motion. “And yes, I still want to come...obviously.”
“Me too.” She whispered before pulling his head down and latching her mouth onto the pale scar on his neck.
“Fuck...” He hissed, turning their bodies and pressing her against the warm shower tiles. “Christ, Buffy...”
She felt his fingers dig into her hip as she raked her teeth over the sensitive skin. When he pressed his thigh between her legs, she bit down on the scar...smiling inwardly as he moaned and shuddered against her.
And then the fingers of his left hand glided through her folds, wet from more than the hot water of the shower. She sucked harder at the flesh between her teeth as he pushed two fingers inside of her. Her moan rumbled in her chest as she heard his voice, thick with desire, urging her on...begging her to make him come.
As his thumb pressed against her clit, he felt her inner walls quiver around his fingers. He rocked his hips, rubbing the underside of his erection against her stomach.
“God...touch me, Buffy...please...” He panted, twisting his fingers within her and stroking the slightly rough patch of flesh inside that was guaranteed to make her scream in pleasure.
“That’s it, love...” He groaned as her fingers wrapped around his thickening shaft. “Fuck...come with me, Buffy...”
“Mm-hm...” She murmured, biting the ridge of his scar harder as she stroked his cock in the same rhythm that his fingers were thrusting inside of her.
Giles tilted his head back, biting his lip as the movement pulled Buffy’s mouth from his neck. Their eyes met and Giles smiled as his thumb rubbed small circles against her clit. Just as she began to convulse around his fingers, he covered her mouth with his and thrust his tongue into her mouth.
They swallowed one another’s cries as they came, Buffy flooding his fingers and Giles coating her abdomen and hand.
She trembled as his fingers slipped from her...sliding to her hip as his kiss softened, his tongue lightly stroking hers as he pulled her under the warm spray of water. Her fingers combed through his wet hair as their kiss came to a natural end.
She offered him a shy smile as he reached behind her to shut the water off. “Sorry.”
“No, you’re not.” He chuckled, bending to kiss her lips softly. “And furthermore, I don’t want you to be.”
“But...” She furrowed her brow as he opened the shower door and stepped out onto the blue bathmat. “You said... ‘not like this’...”
“Mm...so I did.” He smiled, grabbing a towel from the rack and wrapping it around her. “Still wanted us to come though. And to be very honest, it would’ve been more dangerous had we not.”
“Huh?” She asked, taking over the task of drying her body as she watched him start to dry himself.
“Both of us that...tense? I can’t imagine either of us really concentrating on patrol instead of each other...” He replied with a grin and a wink.
Buffy rolled her eyes, but smiled just the same.
He could always make her smile.
“Oh, did Oz talk to you about his bracelet?” Buffy asked, wiping vampire dust from her hands as she stepped out of the alley.
“He did.” Giles smiled as he gestured down the darkened lane. “Why has it taken you nearly twenty years to adhere to my instruction of ‘plunge and move on’?”
She grinned at him, allowing her eyes to wander down to his beltline before returning to his eyes. “I have ulterior motives.”
Giles laughed and shook his head in amusement. “Of course, you do…”
“Did you fix it?”
“Hm? Fix what?” He asked, casually wiping a speck of dust from her cheek.
“Oz’s bracelet. He was really worried about one of the beads being lose or something…”
“Oh, that. Yes, it was nothing that a strip of leather wouldn’t fix. To be honest, as rough as Jake can be, I’m surprised that Oz hasn’t had to replace the leather and beads altogether.”
Buffy tilted her head and furrowed her brow slightly. “What would happen if the bracelet did break? I mean…would you have to call your friend back?”
Giles smiled and shook his head. “No, I have everything that’s needed for an immediate replacement. Along with the incantations to strengthen the beads…if that ever becomes a problem.”
“That could’ve been a problem? Weak beads?”
“I suppose it could have been. But, Oz is naturally strong…spiritually. This is something that he wanted desperately. And he’s worked so very hard to maintain control over that aspect of himself.”
When Buffy grinned, he raised an eyebrow at her. “What?”
“You just sound so…paternal…over him. It’s kinda cute.” When Giles rolled his eyes, she laughed and changed the subject as best as she could. “So…this demon…”
Giles kicked an empty can before picking it up and tossing it into the nearest bin. “I’m fairly certain it’s an Adisser. But, it’s the Ripper-like qualities that are more fascinating.”
Buffy arched an eyebrow at him. “Ripper-like?”
He shook his head, smiling softly as he shoved his right hand into his pocket. “As in ‘Jack the’ and not me.”
“Too bad…” She grinned as he looked at her expectantly. “It could be kinda fun hunting down a demon that’s emulating your bad habits as a thug in his early 20s.”
“Fun?” He narrowed his eyes slightly and licked his lips. “Oh, love…I daresay you wouldn’t have found me very fun. But, I would’ve loved giving you a go to see how long you’d hang around.”
“Oh?” She laughed, slipping her arm through his. “And what if I’d surprised you and refused to leave?”
“We’ll never know, will we?” He cleared his throat and surveyed their surroundings. “The Adisser is fairly vicious…preferring to kill rather than taunt. Mutilation is always present in some respect. This one seems to be quite enamoured of…abdominal mutilation. Especially of…prostitutes. I’m not really sure why…but, a few of the clues are pointing towards the demon attempting to, um…well…breed.”
“Yes, quite.” He watched as she twirled a stake in her right hand. “No sightings or deaths have occurred in the last thirty-six hours. It very well may have moved on from Whitechapel.”
“Been a while since we’ve been in Whitechapel…” She mused in a tone that made him wonder if she was even aware that she had spoken aloud.
“No need to come to Whitechapel. Not the best of neighbourhoods…not the worst, by a longshot, but…” He shrugged a shoulder when she looked up at him. “I guess it still kinda holds bad memories for me.”
“Yeah, I get that.” She looked around and then pulled his hand out of his pocket. She smiled up at him as she laced their fingers together. “What do you say…one more round and then we find a nice secluded spot on the way home?”
“Why were you so upset earlier?” He whispered, looking into her eyes with concern showing clearly in his.
“Um…you get that I was trying to start a seduction, right?”
“You can seduce me at any time, you know this. You don’t even have to try…you know this as well.” He sighed and lifted his hand to comb his fingers through her hair. “It’s just…you looked so worried and there was nothing I could do.”
“You did something…” Buffy offered with a small smile. “But, I know that’s not what you mean. I kinda distracted you then, didn’t I?”
“Mm…much like your attempt to distract me now. Which isn’t going to work, by the way.”
She inhaled deeply and then exhaled slowly, giving his fingers a gentle squeeze. “Okay…we could always find a nice secluded spot on the way home to…talk about what had me so upset.”
When he gave her a soft nod, she continued quickly.
“Not that I was…or am…really, really upset about anything. It’s just…well, it’s more like concern and sometimes that can come across as being upset. But, I’m not. Upset, I mean…”
“Braden thinks that Lucas might be gay.” She blurted.
“I’m sorry?” Giles asked after a moment. “You and Braden were discussing Lucas’ sexuality? He’s not even ten years old, Buffy…”
“I know, Giles. I know how old our children are.”
“Did you say anything to Lucas?”
“What? No…what…” She paused for a moment and really looked at him. “You’re not surprised…”
“Of course I’m not surprised. But, I’m also not going to put the thought into his head.” Giles sighed and raked his fingers through his hair. “Has Braden said anything to him?”
“No, no…I don’t think so. He’s just…” Buffy’s eyes glistened as she shook her head. “After what happened with Matt…Jason’s brother…he was just curious. Or concerned…”
“He wondered if we’d kick his brother out of the house over his sexual preference?” It was Giles’ turn to fight back tears at that thought. “Have we not made it absolutely clear that all we want is for them to be happy? I…it would never occur to me to…does he not realize that?”
“He does…it’s just that he’s seen what it can do to a family. Jason’s his best friend, Giles.”
Giles looked away, biting his bottom lip as his mind raced. “The only unconditional love I truly believe in is the love a parent has for his child. There is nothing that any of those kids could do that would make me not love them. Nothing.”
“I know…they know, Giles. He’s just being a protective brother.”
Giles looked at her quickly. “You were upset…”
“Not about the thought of one of our children being gay. If he is or if he isn’t, I don’t care. As long as he’s happy.”
“It’s just…I remember what it was like in high school. How cruel kids can be…” She shook her head as a tear rolled down her cheek. “I just don’t want kids being cruel to our son. That’s what upsets me.”
“Should we talk to him?” Giles continued quickly when Buffy’s eyes widened. “I mean…make it more about Matt and Jason…and their family. So that they both know that no matter what…we love them and they’ll always have a home.”
“Oh…oh, okay…” She nodded slowly and offered him a small smile. “Yeah…I think that would do them both a world of good. You know…a lot of fathers would have…issues…with just the thought of their son being gay.”
“I’m not ‘a lot of fathers’. And I’m hardly one to throw stones, am I?”
“And they’ve all grown up knowing that any love is acceptable…as long as it doesn’t hurt.” Giles stated softly.
Buffy nodded slowly. “A witch and a werewolf, an ex-demon and Xander, Ethan and Michael…”
“And a Watcher and the Slayer.”
“The Watcher.” Buffy corrected with a smile, as usual when he slipped and used ‘a’ instead of ‘the’. “He’ll be okay, right?”
Giles leaned down and brushed his lips across hers. “I honestly believe so, Buffy. He has so many people who will be willing to stand up for him…and who would do so without any hesitation or questions.”
Buffy breathed a sigh of relief and slid her arms around him. “Still interested in finding a secluded spot somewhere?”
Giles shook his head as he ran his left hand along her spine. “I think…I’d rather go home. Watch our children sleep…have a laugh with our friends…maybe make love to you in our bed once they’ve gone home.”
“Maybe?” She asked, pulling back just enough to look up at him. “Just maybe?”
“The raw need is gone…” He swallowed thickly and slid his fingers into her belt loops. “Fucking one another in the back of the car on some abandoned road isn’t what I want…or need.”
“I get that…but, you said ‘maybe make love’…” She clarified, sliding her hands up his chest to rest on his shoulders. “I’d go for leaving the ‘maybe’ out and throwing in a ‘definitely’…”
He tugged her closer, not caring if anyone wandering along the streets of Whitechapel was watching them. He kissed her slowly, sliding his left hand to the back of her head when he moved his lips to her ear.
“Definitely, Buffy. By candlelight…the thick red candles, the ones we picked up at that little market in the country a while back? They’re so very beautiful…even more so when they’re casting a warm glow over your glistening body as you writhe beneath me.”
She trembled in his arms, reaching up to lightly flick his earring as she inhaled deeply.
“Mm-hm…I love watching you writhe. My arms hooked under your knees…your head thrashing against the pillow as your back arches…the thick, warm – ”
She cut him off with a kiss, pushing her tongue into his mouth as her fingers curled in the fabric of his jacket. He didn’t stop her for a long few moments…not until he felt the groan rumble in her chest.
He pulled back and grinned as they both panted heavily in an effort to gain control over their breathing. He curled a strand of her hair around his finger and licked his tingling lips.
“I meant to ask you…”
“Ask me what?”
“Do you have plans for Tuesday?”
She laughed softly as she shook her head. “Not yet…I was waiting for an offer though…”
He trailed his fingertips down her cheek and sighed. “Pencil me in?”
“Oh…you’re in permanent marker, babe…”
“Am I?” He asked, eyes bright.
She nodded happily and took a step back, slipping her hand into his. “One more time ‘round the block…then we head home, okay?”
“Very well.” He answered with a warm smile, more than content to allow her to lead him back down the street.
Once more…round the block. And then home.
To their children, their friends…their family.
Giles squeezed her fingers lightly and fought the urge to pull her into another kiss.
There’d be plenty of time for that…and much more…later.