There were applause and singing as the cake was brought out. Setting the cake before her son, she watched as he tried to pull the cone shaped hat from his head. Frowning at her in a patented Angel glare, she just laughed.
Crouching next to her son, she tried to encourage him to pay attention to the cake. "Blow out the candles, Brady!"
Helping her now one year old son to extinguish the flame from the wax number one on the cake, she bounced him in her arms as everyone around them yelled and made a fuss over the birthday boy.
Kissing his wife, Angel smiled at his beautiful son. Running his hands through Brady's thick, dark hair, Angel smiled. Brady had Buffy's features, a delicate nose, green eyes, and high cheek bones. He had his father's hair and temperament. Buffy had said that Brady's smile reminded her of Angels'.
Everyone was clapping, including Allie. She was only five months older than Brady, and had experienced her own birthday party not long ago. Following her mom's movements, she clapped her hands and screamed her high pitched baby coo at the top of her voice.
Looking down at Allie, a little startled, Dawn let out a laugh. She was hoping her baby was a girl. She and Will had received the news the day before, but she hadn't told anyone yet. She vowed to tell at least her sister after the festivities were over.
Taking his daughter from Dawn, Wesley nuzzled his lips into her dark brown hair and laughed. She had Fred's smile and eyes and Wesley's nose. Gunn said she was going to be a heart breaker when she grew up. Wesley thought he would turn into a leg breaker once suitors started calling on his daughter. She was the one person on the face of the planet that could make him comfortable doing research from prison.
Stealing his little brother from Buffy, Connor tickled Brady until the toddler giggled and cooed. Smearing a little icing from the cake onto Brady's fist, Connor watched the baby try to shove his entire hand in his mouth as he licked at the sugary concoction.
Buffy and Fred had baked the cake that morning, and though neither of them were geniuses in the kitchen, somehow the chocolate layer cake had turned out to look and taste good. Buffy was glad she hadn't had to go to the bakery at the last notice. She was trying to expand her domestic skills.
Wrapping his arms around Dawn, Will whispered something in her ear that Faith could see made her blush. Snickering to herself, she looked at Gunn. He was laughing with Angel and Giles, obviously having a good time. Rearranging the presents on the table, she smiled to herself. She was glad the marriage and baby bug hadn't bit her. These chumps could have their institutions, she thought. She was perfectly happy living and working with Gunn. Putting their commitment on paper was a little much for her.
Looking to her side, she saw Willow join her and Faith took a deep breath. Somehow, she had been roped into handing the presents to Buffy and Brady so they could open them. Plastering a smile on her face, she tried to tell herself that she was not having as much fun as she thought she was. It wasn't right for a slayer to find happiness is bright blue boxes with orange ribbons and tiny little baby bibs, Faith thought. Buffy was an abnormality.
Telling stories like the proud grandparent he was, Giles put his arms around Angel and hugged the man in a rare show of affection between the two. He was the closest Giles was going to come to a son in law, and they had been slowly getting to know each other better over the past year.
Xander was trying to coax Cordy from her spot in the corner of the veranda, but she seemed content to sit with Cerise and Amelia. Trying not to show how uncomfortable she was, she caught Angel's eye for a moment and smiled. He waved to her a little, a smile spreading across his face. Smiling back at him, she couldn't help but feel happy for her friend. He was happy, content, perfectly at peace in his life.
Though they had denied it all year, everyone knew she and Xander were living together in Chicago. He had subleased his Las Angeles apartment a few months ago and was now commuting around the world form the windy city. Turning to the slayer to her left, Cordy smiled at the embarrassing stories Amelia was telling about Connor.
The slayer had met Connor when she had first moved to the slayer school, which was running effectively. Connor had been right; Faith had been fine with him dating a slayer at the school. They had been together only a few months, but the family liked her already. Buffy had insisted the girl come to the birthday party.
Cerise and Willow had been joined in a civil union in May. Their four year relationship seemed to be going smoothly, Cordy thought. She had never seen Willow so content. Cerise had no special powers, she wasn't s a demon. She was just a woman trying to help save the world in any way she could. Cordy knew that extended to keeping those with powers happy. It wasn't an easy job, either.
Connor had spoken to Cordy briefly in a few telephone conversations, but Cordy thought the young man was accepting his past. He didn't need her to explain things to him; he had either figured it out or had accepted it as fact and moved on. She envied his ability to be so casual around her. She still found it difficult to look him in the eye.
Looking at her watch, Cordy realized she was tapping her foot. She and Xander were catching a plane in two hours and it seemed she would have to suffer through more togetherness before they could leave. She preferred graveyards and zombies any day, she thought. Seeing everyone happy and in the same place made her feel good inside, but also a little awkward. She didn't belong there, she thought.
Watching his wife and son open presents in front of him, he fought the urge to take pictures every few seconds. Angel had come to accept the fact that he was a big dork and a total pushover when it came to Brady. Gunn had made sure Angel came to accept it by pointing it out every chance he got. Smiling at the scene in front of him, he laughed without reason.
He was happy. His wife was happy. His sons were happy. Looking around at the people standing around the pool and under the gazebo, he was filled with a sense of belonging. This was where he was supposed to be. This was his life, he thought. His wonderful life.