Title: Father's Day Author: Luisa Email: leyjd@hotmail.com Pairing: B/G Rating: G Distribution: Dword, Kattie, Dee, TL... all my usual archives. Anyone else, who wants it, just let me know where! Summary: A glimpse into the Giles family, 2 years on, who are celebrating a special occasion. Spoilers: Through Chosen S7 Disclaimer: Not mine although I wish they were. All I own is an overactive imagination. The ingenious invention of the Buffy-Verse belongs to Joss, Fox, ME and co. Feedback: As always... DEFINITELY! Notes: *Emphasis* [Thoughts] Thanks: Thanks so much to Donna for the beta and the advice... and for putting up with my hassling you! Dedication: To Wenchie, for setting a challenge that I couldn't resist and invariably kicking the muse back into gear when it needed it most. And to my parents... I didn't realise what a great childhood I had, or what terrific parents you truly were until I drew on my own experiences to write this part. The whole series is for you guys. You so rock :-)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"Are you okay in there, Sweetheart?"

"Uhh... yeah, I'm fine..." Buffy stared at her reflection, uncertain of how else to respond to her husband's query.

Giles frowned at the bathroom door. "Are you sure, Love? You don't sound okay."

"Mummy?"

Buffy smiled softly into the mirror at the sound of her daughter's worried voice. At just over two years old, Emma and Oliver were managing simple phrases - and where they could not find the words to express themselves, they conveyed their emotions perfectly by the way they inflected their words. Presently, Buffy was hearing matching concern in both father and daughter's voices.

"It's okay, honey. Honestly." She paused long enough to pat her face dry. When she spoke again, her voice wavered slightly. "Rupert? Would you sit the children at the table, please?"

The frown lines on Rupert Giles' forehead deepened. What on earth was going on? It was unlike Buffy to be secretive - especially when something was so very obviously troubling her. In the years following their marriage, he'd felt their relationship intensify and the twins' births had seemed to seal their future. Long-held fears and insecurities had been put to rest and a natural, complete honesty had settled upon their relationship. Although, since the onset of his wife's odd behaviour several weeks ago, Giles hadn't been able to prevent the thought that maybe he was the only one being honest. He let out a sigh of frustration and leaned his forehead against the white wood.

"Buffy..."

"Please."

Her tone made it clear that whatever was on her mind wasn't up for discussion.

Letting out a softer sigh, Giles righted himself for a moment before giving in to the distraction of gathering up the blonde toddler tugging on his trousers. "Come on then, Trouble... let's get you ready for dinner- time..." He strode quickly through the hallway, bouncing his daughter in his arms and gave a wry smile as he amended, "Or rather, 'let's-see-how- much-mess-we-can-make-by-throwing-our-food-all-around-the-room-for-daddy-to- clean-up-afterwards-time'." The grin broadened and he placed an affectionate kiss on the tip of Emma's nose. "You know, it's a jolly good thing I love you."

She gurgled happily in response, squirming in his arms at the playful tone of his voice.

Upon reaching the dinner table, Giles couldn't help but chuckle at the sight of Oliver, already seated in his highchair and straining to reach the saltcellar.

"Oh no you don't, Mister." Shifting Emma onto his hip, Giles moved the object out of his son's reach with his free hand. "You think I haven't learnt from last time?" Despite his attempt at scolding, Giles' voice was filled with warmth. "Salt is *not* snow. It stays in the pot, *not* on the table."

He settled Emma down and glanced from one twin's cherubic face to the other, well aware of just how deceiving their innocent looks were. "Now, you two are going to behave this evening, okay? Mummy's gone to a lot of trouble to make this a special dinner..."

A thought struck him, causing the sentence to die on his lips. [Maybe she's got a surprise planned. That would be just like Buffy. After all, I know she's been getting very involved in that mother and toddler group.] Losing himself to speculation, Giles was barely aware of the twins vying for the water jug, which was mercifully too far away for them to reach. [And she's always done something special in the past.]

A wistful smile graced his lips as recalled the first year they'd celebrated the occasion as a family. Buffy had baked him a coffee and walnut cake, safe in the knowledge that it was his favourite, and iced it to read, 'Happy Father's Day, Daddy.' The whole Scooby Gang had been there to share in the event and Buffy had presented him with an engraved glass plaque reading, 'The best husband and father since the beginning of time'. While he'd been close to tears, she'd been laughing as she explained that he wasn't the best in the universe, because that didn't seem a fair enough description taking parallel universes into consideration.

[Last year was just as wonderful...]

He broke out of his thoughts for long enough to cast a warning look at Oliver, who was trying to get out of his chair, before allowing himself to savour the memory of Buffy's gift to him last year. It had been an inexpensive gift, unlike the previous year, but the sentiment behind it brought tears to his eyes and a lump to his throat every time he looked at where it hung above his headboard. Buffy had cut a large footprint shape out of some brightly coloured sugar paper and had somehow managed to get the twins to walk all over it making green and yellow footprints on the page. He still wondered with dread about how much paint had gotten on the carpet before it got on the paper. But it was worth it. Over the top of the dried paint, Buffy had neatly written out a short poem entitled "Footprints", which still stirred his soul, no matter how many times he read it.

"Emma Joy Giles! Just what do you think you're doing?"

Buffy's stern reprimand snapped him out of his daydream and he looked over to where his daughter was tugging on the tablecloth with frightening vigour, causing the water in the jug to slosh gently against the sides. A guilty flush coloured his neck and cheeks as Buffy turned an accusing glare his way.

The glare softened and a twinkle appeared in her eyes. [Why is it so hard to stay mad at them?] Clearing her throat, she attempted to re-assert herself. "I can't leave you three alone for one minute, can I?"

Knowing that no apology would be enough, Giles simply stepped over to her and, wrapping his arms around her, leant down to give her a kiss that left her breathless. Pulling back, he smiled softly. "Forgive me?"

"Hmmmm..." Lost for words, Buffy could only nod dreamily and sway slightly in his embrace. It took a moment for her to regain her previous intentions and when she finally did, she smiled up at him. "Dinner should be ready now, Love, if you want to sit down. I'll go get it."

He lifted a hand to run it lovingly through her golden locks. "Look, just because it's 'my day', as you keep informing me, that doesn't mean that you have to do everything. Let me come and help you."

"I don't think so." She gave him a gentle, playful shove and looked down at where the twins were now *both* trying to get out of their seats. "Besides... you need to keep an eye on your children, Mister Giles... if you can stop daydreaming long enough."

Breaking free of his now-loose embrace, she giggled and ran into the Kitchen before he could stop her.

"Daydreamer, indeed," Giles grumbled as he took his seat between the twins. "Cheeky monkey." He shook his head with a smile on his face and started good-naturedly muttering plans for her 'punishment' under his breath, before realising that both Emma and Oliver had stopped in their fidgeting and were now staring at him in silence.

The silence was shattered as Emma, seeming to sense a need to comfort her father, suddenly flung out her arms toward him. "Daddy!" He grinned lovingly at her and lifted a hand to meet hers, allowing her to tug gently on his fingers.

Not wanting to be outdone, Oliver mirrored his sister's action in his mother's direction as she set a tray of food on the table. "'Uv 'oo, mummeee!"

Buffy shone an emotional smile toward her son in reply and pressed a kiss to his forehead. "I love you, too, Sweetie." She looked up briefly to share a smile with her husband before resuming setting the vegetables on the table.

Another return from the kitchen later found Buffy setting a large joint of meat before Giles, who was clearly trying not to drool. She smiled at him, reading his thoughts.

"I bet you're glad you taught me your mother's cooking style, now, aren't you? Although, even after making them several times, I'm still not sure I've done those... pudding... thingies... right."

"They're perfect, Love... you needn't worry." With a content smile alighting his face, he closed his eyes and inhaled the combined scents of the food that had been so lovingly prepared, the aroma taking him back several decades. After a long moment, his smile took on a slightly mischievous nature and he opened his eyes to find his wife staring intently at him.

"What?" The suspicion in her voice was evident. [*Now* what's he planning? I know that look...]

He simply grinned silently for a moment, drawing out her curiosity, before answering. "I was just thinking how we need never fritter away our money by going out for dinner again. Instead, you can make me a meal like this every night."

"In your dreams." She stabbed at a potato and missed when he spoke again, this time in a low, seductive voice that sent delightful shivers tingling down her spine.

"Oh, no, darling... in my dreams you are *far* too busy doing... well, *other* things... to be cooking..."

"Giles! Innocent ears are present, remember?" She heard the words sound but wasn't aware of speaking them... her body was too busy reacting to his words and tone.

Giles simply chuckled and flicked a glance between the children either side of him who had already managed to claim their bowls and plaster their food over their faces, completely unaware of the nature of the conversation between their parents.

"I expect they'll survive." He remarked, somewhat dryly, his mind already preparing for the major task of cleaning the mess off their clothes and bodies.

Amazingly, Buffy found that her bodily functions were working well enough for her to manage to giggle at her husbands' words. "I guess." She returned to spearing the potatoes, hoping that he wouldn't knock her off- guard again. "Come on, eat up... the food's going cold."

Not brave enough to disobey; Giles obediently began carving the meat while Buffy finished serving out the remaining vegetables. They basked in a comfortable silence during the course of the meal, as they alternated between eating and attempting to feed Emma and Oliver. Eventually, Buffy sighed in barely-concealed exasperation.

"Come on Emma, be a good girl for Mummy.... just one more mouthful..."

"I keep telling you, Love, it's *how* you persuade them that does the trick. I wish you'd give it a try. If it works for me, it can surely work for you."

Buffy just let out an irritated, "Humph", and putting down the plastic spoon, folded her arms to watch Giles tackle Oliver. A slow smile spread over her lips as she watched how naturally father and son played.

"...Okay Ollie... here it comes... open wide, now..."

Oliver bounced excitedly in his seat, flailing his arms about, squealing happily in response.

"...Here comes the choo-choo train..."

In one easy movement, Giles' hand cut through the air to deliver a spoonful of mashed something-or-other into his son's waiting mouth.

"That's it... well done, son."

Grinning like a five-year-old, Giles triumphantly lay down the spoon and turned back to face Buffy. "See? I told you I could do it..." His voice trailed off as he noticed her expression. "What's so amusing?"

"I thought we agreed that Oliver would be an 'Oliver', you know... no 'Ollie', remember?" Giles opened his mouth to explain himself, but she beat him to it. "It's okay... I've done it accidentally a couple of times, myself. I guess it just comes naturally."

"Still," he interrupted, "We wouldn't want it to happen too often, would we?"

Buffy's only response was a soft, "Hmm," as she finished pushing the last of the yorkshire puddings around her gravy-filled plate.

"Rupert?"

He looked up from trying to get the worst off from Emma's mouth, chin and cheeks with his handkerchief. "Yes, Darling?"

She smiled at him, feeling the familiar prick of tears behind her eyelids as she lifted both hands to cradle her children's heads.

"What is it, Sweetheart?" Concern was creeping into his voice again, despite his best intentions. [Don't be daft, old man... she's just being emotional - again - about having a family]. He quashed his fears and smiled back.

"Happy Father's Day."

She almost choked on the words, and he realised that he'd been right in his assumptions.

Fighting to keep the tears at bay, Buffy reached over to the sideboard and grabbed the cards hidden behind the clock. "As you can guess... one of these is from the kids." She reached across the table to hand them to him and Giles took the opportunity to clasp her hand with his as they met midway.

"Thank you." The words were murmured tenderly and he rubbed a thumb soothingly over the back of her hand.

"There's... um... there's something else, too. I can't really afford something big this year, so I hope you like it."

Giles' curiosity was piqued, yet he remained silent, waiting for whatever surprise she was going to pull out. To his amazement, she didn't move. Even after several seconds had passed, all she did was draw a deep breath. Eventually, she spoke; her words making him feel like the wind had been knocked out of him.

"You see, I can't afford anything as we need to start saving up again... because... well, it seems that Oliver and Emma are going to have a little brother or sister."

Long moments of shocked silence followed. Even the twins were still.

When Giles spoke, he didn't recognise the voice as his - the hoarse sound of it, raw with emotion, foreign to his ears.

"Really? Truly? You're pregnant again?"

The tears spilled over at last as Buffy nodded. "I hope that's okay."

"Okay?" Disbelief joined the other emotions filling his voice for a moment, before he answered. "It's.... it's..." He stood up suddenly, almost knocking his chair over backwards, before manouvering himself around the table until he was by her side, pulling her up into his arms. "It's... perfect." He pressed a long kiss to her lips, before adding, "I can't think of anything more wonderful to receive from you, my Love."

"Good," she gave a watery giggle, gazing up into emerald green eyes that overflowed with love and happiness, "Because I didn't get you anything else this year."

He joined in the laughter and tightened his arms around her.

"I don't need anything else." He lowered his lips to hers again, intending on a more lingering joining, but was interrupted at the last moment by two eager voices. He turned his head back to his children, who were once more reaching out their arms for cuddles.

"'Uv 'oo, Daddy!"

"Wuv 'oo!"

He chortled softly and pulled out of the embrace to rescue Emma from the confines of her highchair. Likewise, Buffy lifted her son to her chest, wrapping on arm securely around him. She snaked the other around her husband's waist and flashed him a misty-eyed smile as he wrapped his spare arm around her shoulders, pulling her into him.

"I love you, you know."

"I know." He felt a familiar tightening in his chest at the words he knew he'd never tire of hearing. "I love you, too."

Buffy lifted her lips to his, and murmured four words under her breath mere milliseconds before their lips met.

"Happy Father's Day, Rupert."

END

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Footprints

"Walk a little slower daddy," said a child so small. "I'm following in your footsteps and I don't want to fall.

Sometimes your steps are very fast, Sometimes they're hard to see; So walk a little slower, Daddy, For you are leading me.

Someday when I'm all grown up, You're what I want to be; Then I will have a little child Who'll want to follow me.

And I would want to lead just right, And know that I was true; So, walk a little slower, Daddy, For I must follow you."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~