Stocking Surprise

Summary: It's Christmastime for our favorite Watcher and Slayer.

Timeline: Post-'Chosen' BtVS.

Challenge: special present for zigpal.

Rating: FRT for indications of sexual behavior. Conservative rating on my part.

A/N: I realize that the song is counting backwards, but it actually makes more sense for what I want to do. If you don't like it, feel free to blame the NyQuil I'm currently downing for my horrendous cold.

A/N2: Thanks to my betas…zigpal and AshDawnSoulmates. I changed a couple things after they looked at it, but it should still be good.

Disclaimer: BtVS characters belong to Joss Whedon / Mutant Enemy. I claim no rights to any copyrighted material. Please do not copy or take this story without my permission.

It started after Sunnydale fell. After they had gotten medical treatment for the injured and the others settled in at Angel's old hotel. Given the news that his team had now taken over Wolfram & Hart, none of the Sunnydale survivors felt comfortable staying there. However, they didn't have many options until they were able to access the Council funds, and the injured were healed enough to travel.

Giles sought Buffy out and attempted to start mending the broken relationship between them. It wasn't that she didn't want that as well; she just needed time to mourn for her sister and Spike. Despite the trouble the last days in Sunnydale, Buffy still loved her sister. And she had told Spike the truth about loving him – but he was right too. She didn't love him like that.

So the former Watcher just sat there with her, content to stay by her side as she grieved Spike. They both grieved their other losses: Dawn, Anya and the Potentials-turned-Slayers who perished during the final battle.

A couple days later, the shock had worn off enough and they began talking…about everything that happened between them since her resurrection. It wasn't always easy, and there were many tears shed on both sides, but they finally boiled it down to the point that neither of them was blameless in the end. Somehow, they had managed to get on a teeter-totter of hurting each other, and it just kept happening.

As cheesy and unlikely as it sounded, they decided to start from scratch. They both smirked as they re-introduced themselves as Rupert Giles and Buffy Summers – as if they were meeting for the first time.

Their newfound friendship of equals was tested momentarily when Giles informed her that he wanted her to go to Italy for the Council. But as it turned out, it was strictly temporary so she could form an alliance with the Immortal, who – in Anita Blake'verse terms – was the equivalent of the Master of Rome. Once the treaty was signed, two of the Sunnydale Slayers stayed behind to act as decoys for Buffy there.

The moment the main headquarters was established, everyone spread out for different parts of the world. Faith and Robin went to Cleveland with a few mini-Slayers. Willow and Kennedy did the same, but in Brazil. Xander roamed the countryside in Africa looking for Slayers. Andrew bounced back and forth from Italy to England.

As the only two remaining original Sunnydale survivors from when it all started staying in England – plus their unique roles in the organization – Buffy and Giles quickly became the best of friends and confidantes. It was only a matter of time before that grew into something more.

They began to sneak glances at one another during research sessions or training classes for the mini-Slayers. There were bets quietly – very quietly – being made about when they would finally do something about it. And who would be the first one to make a move.

To help speed things along for everyone's sake, Amanda and Andrew fixed the Secret Santa drawing so Buffy and Giles would get each other's names.

December 14th rolled around and the presents started.

'On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…'

Giles opened the small package and read the card. He was going to receive 12 months of teas from around the world. This month was East Friesan Blend. Unfortunately, this gave him no clue as to the identity of his Santa. Everyone in the Council knew that he drank tea.

When she read the card, Buffy gave a small squeal of delight. Somebody got her12 hours at a full-treatment spa. Wow, this was kinda pricey. That probably meant it was one of the senior Council members – or somebody with personally deep pockets.

'On the eleventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…'

As he opened the box, Giles was startled and more than a little pleased to find an 11 piece sparring suit. The card said it had been magically altered to wear slightly thicker than regular clothes, but to be just as shock resistant as regular padding. This would be much better when he had to spar with the mini-Slayers or his own Slayer, Buffy. He wondered what she thought of his presents so far.

Buffy shook the box carefully before she opened it, but couldn't tell what it was. Oh well, there was the other method of actually opening it. She saw 11 boxes of carved stakes, fitted for her grip. Cool! Not only did this mean she didn't need to whittle stakes for a while, but somebody actually took the time to worry about the grip.

'On the tenth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…'

They almost missed opening presents the next day, due to a failed attempt to kidnap one of the minis by a vamp nest who wanted the fame of killing The Slayer when she came to rescue the girl. The vamps were famous around town after that, but only for their stupidity in pissing off the Council. Their deaths were as painful as they could be; some actually begged to be staked in the end.

But before he went to sleep, Giles unwrapped his new/old 10 volume collection of classic stories, 9 wrapped together and the final one separately. That one was the story of "The Little Prince" from a French author Antoine de Saint Exupéry. In the front cover, someone had scrawled the line from Fox in the story – which made him wonder who his Santa was:

"You become responsible, FOREVER, for what you have tamed."

After seeing the 10-$25 gift certificates for iTunes, Buffy smiled at songs she would download. There might even be some Gilesy music out there she could get. Like Eric Clapton or something. She didn't know Giles had been thinking that he actually missed the days of listening to the noise she considered music. It wasn't the music per se, but the closeness of the group back then.

'On the ninth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…'

Giles was stunned to find a 9 volume Demonology and Sorcery Text by Da Vinci. This was near impossible to get. Whoever got him this certainly was going above and beyond the spirit. He didn't know that Buffy got it in exchange for allowing the Immortal to claim he was dating her – back before she was Giles' Secret Santa. It was one of the unwritten parts of their treaty.

Buffy figured her Santa must be a guy. The card for 9 trips to a beauty salon sort of made it clear. Well, that and the other certificates. They screamed 'guy mentality' – not that she was complaining or anything. They were still wonderful presents.

'On the eigth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…'

Both Giles and Buffy were thinking the same thing for the next day – one for each year they were together, plus one for the following year.

~8 blank journals for Giles.

~8 days vacation at her choice of destination for Buffy.

'On the seventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…'

That's things started to pick up between them. There were even more glances – some that the other caught now before they turned away blushing.

Giles was startled to open his next gift to find 7 tops; six stylish button-up shirts and a leather jacket. It was the jacket that really caught his attention though. It reminded him of his Ripper days. Although…it was rather tasteful and fit extremely well. Maybe on special occasions.

Buffy walked around the building with a silly grin on her face after she saw the 7 daggers, one for each day of the week. It was wrong on so many levels that she was getting weapons as presents, and even worse that she loved them.

'On the sixth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…'

If he didn't know better, Giles would have sworn that Olivia was working for the Council when he saw 6 pairs of jeans in the box he opened. She was the only one – aside from Buffy – who cared so much about his wardrobe. But Olivia was the only one to buy him anything; Buffy just made comments. Could this mean…?

Buffy bit her lip to contain her glee when she found 6 jelly donuts on her desk. There was only one person who knew that jellies were her absolute favorite donuts. She wasn't sure if it was intentional on his part, but Giles had tipped his hand. She might have to revise some of her presents now.

'On the fifth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…'

Now Giles was worried that Ethan might be involved. He held the box with 5 stud earrings away from him as though they might possess him. He'd send them to the magical department to be sure. Who else would want Ripper to return?

Okay, so 5 silver throwing stars wasn't exactly the height of romanticism, but it was still thoughtful to give Buffy weapons that could hurt more than one kind of demon. And silver? Always nice.

'On the fourth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…'

Giles was impressed when he read the titles of the 4 albums of music from his early years; 'One for the Road' by The Kinks, signed copy of 'Fresh Cream' by Cream, 'Sticky Fingers' by The Stones and 'Greatest Hits' of the Bay City Rollers. However, it was the last one that made him consider the possiblility that his Santa could be Buffy. If only that were true!

People walking by Buffy's office were scared out of their minds by the ear-piercing shriek she let out when she read the card that said she had 4 hours with a personal shopper at Harrods – and the charges were already covered for her!

The Council was holding its collective breath as the gift-giving was getting closer to being over. As far as they could tell, neither Watcher or Slayer had made a move yet.

'On the third day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…'

Giles was shocked and very hopeful that his Santa was indeed Buffy when he read his next present was 3 nights in a quiet B&B outside London, starting the day after Christmas. If she were, it would indicate she was interested in him the same way he was interested in her. But being the cautious man he was, he refused to do anything until she made the first move.

As soon as she saw her present was 3 bags of her favorite coffee blend, Buffy immediately opened one of the bags to make up a pot of the steamy goodness. Maybe she could take one of the bags on the trip with Giles – assuming he wanted to take her with him. The idea that he wouldn't caused her to pout momentarily.

The tension was getting unbearable at the Council now.

'On the second day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…'

It was just as well Giles had some time to recover when he opened the box to discover 2 terry-cloth robes; his and hers. He got a flash in his mind of seeing Buffy in the 'hers' and flushed guiltily at the images that followed.

If she didn't know how much her safety meant to Giles, Buffy might have been a tad disappointed to get 2 matching swords with sheathes instead of something a little more…personal.

'On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…'

Those that were still around for Christmas Day – including Andrew and Amanda – were about to go nuts if something didn't happen today.

When Giles opened his door to find 1 Buffy in a red stocking costume, he quickly changed his last present of 1protection amulet. After unwrapping her and enjoying his present for several hours, he reached into his wall safe and pulled out his mother's engagement ring. He said if she wanted, it could be a promise ring for now, and when she was ready, he could move it to her left hand. Buffy thought for only a second before holding out her left hand.

As they made their way out early the next morning, the Watcher and Slayer heard cries of cheering from the windows. They looked up to see happy faces staring out at them and voices screaming, 'It's about time!' Blushing, they quickly got in the car and drove off for their weekend away.

A/N: Thanks to Rippertish for the idea of the story; Catchoo for the Stones' album; KungFu Carrie for Cream; and the others from ashlatte for their ideas and encouragement. And AshDawnSoulmates always helps by letting me bounce ideas off her.