A/N: Behold, as I play fast and loose with canon. Think of it is an AU which has circumnavigated Joss' tendency to take the path of greatest angstyness.

"This meeting of the Watcher Council Bashing Society is hereby called to order."

Giles gave a little cough that sounded somewhat like a person trying not to laugh. "While I appreciate the sentiment, I'm afraid I have issues greater than ire to deal with."

"We have," Buffy said firmly, and he blinked.

"I beg your pardon?"

"You don't have issues, Giles," Willow said earnestly. "We have issues. You know, in a togetherness team-spirited fashion."

"Ah. I see." He smiled thanks at Joyce as she placed a plate of cookies at his elbow, and absently made room for Dawn as she invaded his personal space in search of confectionery goodness and perhaps a surreptitious cuddle. "As you are all aware, I have been summarily fired by the Council."

Mutinous scowls abounded. "And for doing the right thing, too," Xander pointed out with indignation.

"Thank you, by the way," Buffy said. "For, you know, not poisoning me and feeding me to a vampire."

"You're welcome," he said gravely, and continued, after pulling the plate away from the youngest Summers' grab for a fifth cookie. "So far, that has been the limit of their response. However, I have in spite of myself managed to retain some connections in England-" ("That's Giles-speak for 'friends'," Xander told Dawn in aside) "-and they have received some unsettling news. Apparently, the council is not content with removing me from their payroll and support; they want to remove my influence from you entirely, Buffy, and have me deported."

Multiple jaws dropped, and there was great furor all around. "That's terrible, Rupert!" Joyce said.

"The HELL they will! Sorry, Dawnie."

"Yeah, you can't let that happen! Can't you, like, sue them or something?"

"I am afraid not." Giles picked up his teacup and absently ran a finger over the china rim. "My visa here was obtained with the assistance of the council; there is nothing illegal involved, but they have enough influence to have it revoked on some pretext or another."

"Well...what do we do?"

"That is the problem with which I come to you."

"Could you get citizenship?" Willow offered. "I mean, you could pass the test easily."

"I did think of that, but that takes some time. The council would have plenty of time to intervene and overturn the process."

"You could get married." Dawn grinned as they looked at her in varying degrees of shock, and snatched a treat while Giles was distracted. Jamming it in her mouth, she mumbled, "That's how they do it in the movies."

"Manners," Joyce told her, as simultaneously Giles said, "We don't need to see your food, dearest." They exchanged a look of great common feeling, then Giles returned to the subject at hand. Joyce looked at him consideringly.

"It's not a bad Idea, Dawn, but who would I pick to be the 'lucky lady'?"

"It should be easy to find someone who'd want to marry you."

"While the compliment is appreciated, it's not like I could pick one out of the catalog. -an AMERICAN wife, Xander," he said to cut off the incoming comment. "It wouldn't be fair to subject someone to my exceedingly odd life, and no one 'in the know' would be interested in the idea."

"I know of someone," Joyce said meaningfully. They looked at her expectantly, and she sighed at their density. Standing up, she spun once, put up her arms in a sort of ta-daa and retook her seat to a audience of open mouths and great astonishment.

Giles sighed, and pulled off his glasses to clean the lenses. "Joyce..."

"Don't 'hmmph' me in that British tone, Rupert," Joyce said firmly. "You need to stay here, this would allow it. Besides, I like you."

He gave up the pretext of cleaning and set the spectacles down as all eyes fixed on his face. "Do you like me enough to marry me?" Four heads whipped back to the other end of the table to catch her reply.

"I think so." She began to tick off reasons on her fingers; "We get along. I enjoy your company. My children love you. It's not like you're hard on the eyes. On a personal scale, I want you here because you keep the girls safe; more broadly, you fight evil, which is always good to have around. I'm not dating anyone seriously, and not likely to begin, so it wouldn't forestall a more typical marriage; and you're over here all the time anyway, so why not?"

The youngsters were still hung up on 'easy on the eyes'. Giles rested his chin in his fist, green eyes fixed thoughtfully on her. "I'm rather old-fashioned you know, Joyce. Even if the impetus is a marriage of convenience, I would like to make things work with whomever I marry. Would you still be alright with it?"

She smiled at him wickedly. "I look forward to it. Besides, this doesn't have to be Romeo and Juliet."

"They were far younger than us, and they died." A reluctant smile curled up his lips and he straightened. "All right. I am willing."

"That," said Willow dazedly, "Was the least romantic proposal in the history of foreverness."