Title: How To Win Friends

Chapter Title: A Gift To Keep On Giving

Author: Restive Nature

Rating: PG-13 (at most)

Pairing: None

Disclaimer: All things Buffy belong to Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy.

Timeline: BtVS Season Two Post Surprise/ Innocence

Series Summary: Cordy presents Buffy with a Seventeenth birthday gift that keeps going and going…

Chapter Summary: Buffy opens a birthday surprise.

A/N: The book discussed on this fiction is a real book. While the book and author are mentioned, none of the contents are included in this fiction.

A Gift To Keep On Giving

"So are you ready to dive into this pile?" Joyce asked of her daughter. Buffy's seventeenth birthday presents had been delivered by her best friend Willow Rosenberg the previous evening. Apparently, according to a stammering Willow, something had happened to break up the surprise party that the teens had planned for their friend. And Buffy had left without opening the gifts. Which was very odd, Joyce reflected.

"Ooh, presents!" Buffy chirped, though her voice sounded more tired and forced, than truly cheerful. Joyce knew that something had happened that had affected her daughter deeply. And just as she knew that, she knew better than to push.

It didn't take long to go through the pile. Joyce had already informed her daughter that her present this year would be a Mom sponsored shopping trip this weekend at the mall. And she'd noticed that Buffy was sporting a lovely new ring. That left presents from Willow, Xander, that librarian, Mr. Giles and two others.

There was a new sweater from Willow, which Buffy proclaimed would be great with a blue skirt she'd seen at her favored store at the mall. A necklace from Xander. Joyce sighed over that. Sometimes the boy tried too hard. Mr. Giles had seemed to stay true to form and had given Buffy a journal. Although from the look on Buffy's face, she could have sworn that it had been filled with mathematical equations all waiting to be solved… in French. The other presents were a surprise, until Buffy explained who the givers were. One Joyce knew and the other she knew of.

"That was very sweet of Willow's boyfriend to give you that CD," Joyce commented softly, looking at the eclectic artwork hand drawn on the cover. Whoever had done it was very spirited.

"Totally," Buffy agreed as she hefted the present she'd left for last. "I had no idea that the Dingoes ever taped their sets." She grunted softly as she tried to work her fingernail under the tape at the edge of the last present. "Ugh! Feels like a book."

"Oh I hope nobody got their wires crossed with Mr. Giles," Joyce teased.

"It's from Cordy Mom," Buffy retorted dryly. "I seriously doubt that Cordy and Giles were shopping buddies." Finally the tape gave and she was able to remove the paper covering. She stared at the book in consternation. "Huh? How To Win Friends And Influence People."

Joyce leaned over for a better look. "By Dale Carnegie?" she asked. She didn't wait for Buffy's confirming nod. "That's pretty good. I read it when I was in college."

"It's a text book?" Buffy gaped at her mother, groaning again. Joyce chuckled. Suddenly in her daughter's eyes, that journal must be looking pretty good.

"No," she smiled. "More like a self-help manual."

"Oh, influencing people?" Buffy looked the book over again. "You mean like hypnotizing them or something? 'Cause I could definitely go for that, you know. Make my teachers forget that I-!" She cut off suddenly and Joyce knew that she didn't really want to hear what Buffy had in mind. Yet at the same time, she couldn't resist asking, just to see her daughter squirm as she tried to come up with a believable, yet not too horrible answer.

"Forget that you what?"

"Forget my books!" Buffy exclaimed brightly. "You know, sometimes I'm in such a rush in the morning…"

Joyce chuckled. "The only thing you rush to do in the morning is your make-up sweetheart," she chastised gently. Buffy flashed an impish grin at her as she flipped open the front cover. She pulled the book up to her nose and Joyce assumed that Cordelia must have written some sort of inscription.

"Oh isn't that so typically Cordy," Buffy groaned as she set the book back down.

Joyce took the book and quickly read the inscription as well, deciding to laugh at it, rather than be affronted on her daughter's behalf. 'Dear Buffy,' (it read) Happy Birthday. I wanted to find you something useful that you wouldn't totally mangle with your challenged sense of fashion. From Cordelia Chase.

"Well," Buffy sighed as she took the book back and closed it. "It'll be useful if I ever have trouble falling asleep." She stood to move over to the book case and put the book away on the upper shelves.

"Oh it's not that bad," Joyce remarked. "As I recall, there was some useful advice in there. And at least she did get you something."

"Rather than promising me something with the hopes that I'd be so busy I'd forget about it and not mention it until a few days after the supposed event was going to take place at which time the prezzie giver is too busy to take the prezzie receiver shopping?" Buffy teased.

"I'm not going to forget and I will definitely remind you so you don't forget," Joyce smiled at the gentle teasing. "And right now I'm going to remind you to help me pick up all this wrapping paper."

"Yes Mom," Buffy sighed as she began picking up stray bits of ribbon.

And so the book stayed in the shelf, pretty much forgotten, until a few weeks later, when Buffy did indeed have trouble falling asleep. But when she went to find it… somehow, the book had disappeared.