The following two days went off without a hitch. Buffy didn't deal with any bouts of nausea, the self-defense classes went exceedingly well, and Buffy managed to keep Giles occupied long enough for the baby's room to be finished. She pulled him into a few stores on the way home – an old book shop, a tea house, a novelty shop – anything to give Willow more time to pick up the food.

Willow agreed to help set up dinner with her while Giles was showering, so as soon as Buffy and Giles arrived home, Buffy rushed into the shower and cleaned as quickly as possible, leaving the bathroom all to himself.

As soon as she heard him turn on the faucet, she let Willow in, set up the table, and gave her friend a hug and kiss for helping as she shoved her out the door. Buffy was lighting the candles – very plain, unscented; purchased in the holiday section of the pharmacy just to be sure – when Giles came out of the bathroom swathed in his robe.

He noticed the smell of food as soon as he was two steps down the hallway and paused, taking an appreciative whiff.

"Buffy, love, what are you up to?" he said, turning the corner.

There stood Buffy in her own robe, her hair brushed back and still wet from her shower. The table was set for an intimate dinner for two. Catered. He smiled and reached for his glasses on his desk to get a better look.

"What's all this?" he asked, moving to her side. She gave him a soft kiss and motioned for him to take a seat. She poured him a glass of red wine before seating herself.

"Early Christmas present," she said, and poured herself a glass of cranberry juice. His brow popped up but he refrained from commenting on her choice of beverage.

"I hope you're not trying to set a bar of some sort," he said, his grin belying his dry tone.

"No, I just knew that holding out til Christmas morning was going to be impossible," she said, dishing up a plate of food – chicken, steamed veggies, roasted potatoes. "And if I don't eat soon I might have to go on a rampage."

Giles chuckled and nodded as he took back his plate. "And we don't want that," he said.

"Definitely not."

He watched her eat, offering small comments as she talked about the day. They discussed the progress of their students and how proud she was of the classes and of their working together as instructors. He couldn't agree more.

With the food devoured and the wine sipped, he sat back and smiled at her, happy and sated in his plush robe and full stomach.

"That was lovely, Buffy, thank you."

"You're welcome," she said, giving him a sort of confused look. She shook her head a second and smiled at him. "Are you ready to open your early Christmas present?"

Giles blinked and smiled as he sat forward. "I thought the meal was the present."

Buffy rolled her eyes.

"Silly me," he said softly, watching her move as she went to the closet, pulled out a box, and brought it back to him.

"Merry Christmas, Watcher-mine."

His smile remained soft as he kept his emotions in check, wondering what his slayer had decided to give him for Christmas. He pulled out a mug with a heart on it and looked up to her.

"Thank you, love," he said, leaning forward to kiss her. She put her fingers to his lips and gently pushed him away.

"Turn it over," she said. She could barely contain her excitement.

In simple text, it read: WORLD'S BEST DAD.

He was confused a moment, wondering how she could possibly think this was a good gift, before everything clicked in his mind.

The energy, the retching, the appetite. Her mood swings and her motherly attention to her students!

He looked up to her, his eyes gone wide. "You're -?"

She nodded excitedly and stood, taking the cup from him. He had no time to ask what was happening as she dragged him down the hallway to the spare room. She opened the door and flipped on the light.

"How the devil -?" he started, blinking at everything.

"Mom and Willow," she said, rushing to add, "I know, I would've told you first but Will is the one who figured it out in the first place!"

She pulled him along so she could look at the furniture. Joyce had emptied out one of the savings accounts to spoil her soon-to-be-grandchild. Blankets and stuffed animals and all manner of baby goodies. Willow helped arrange everything and even managed to get a few covert pictures of Giles and Buffy kissing to frame for the walls.

"This is amazing."

"You're telling me," she said, smiling as she turned around.

"No, Buffy. Really. This is amazing," he said, turning to her. He pulled her close, trailing his thumb across her cheek. "I can't believe it. We're having a baby."

"Well if you think about it, we didn't really try to avoid it," she said, grinning at him.

He managed a small blush and looked away, hugging her to his chest. "I suppose I wasn't sure it was possible. My age and your level of activity."

She blew a raspberry and pulled back, laughing up at him. "Since when does anything ever go the way we expect it to?"

"Good point."

"So we're gonna have to move up the wedding day to sometime soon," she said, petting his arms and chest with her fingertips.

"Oh?"

She grinned and looked up to him, her playfulness bright and warm. "I don't want to walk down the aisle big as a house. I need the pictures to be a little normal if I'm going to have a ceremony at all."

"As my mistress deems it," he said softly, leaning down to kiss her. She accepted the kiss, leaning into him, and smiled as his hands rested at her sides, his thumbs running circles on her tummy.


The next morning, Buffy woke up alone, surprised she'd slept in at all. A note was left on Giles' pillow. She plucked it up close to her face and read it aloud.

"Buffy, I've gone to the market and chemist's – the chemist's, Giles, really? – for a few things, and to get a Christmas tree. No worrying, it's not good for the baby.
Love, R."

She scrunched her nose and kissed the paper before plopping her hand down onto the bed.

"R? Giles, are you really going to make me start calling you Rupert, now?" She yawned and stretched in bed, squirming around like a cat. "It's so… stuffy!"

She rolled out of bed and stomped downstairs, feeling playful and childish. She glanced at the stockings hung at the fireplace and stopped, her eyes wide. There was a third, tiny stocking, with a rattle on it. Her hands moved to her stomach and she looked down, imagining when it would be big and round.

"Well, he didn't waste any time getting on the ball, did he?" She chuckled and went to the kitchen for some juice.

She spent most of the day lounging around the flat, happy to have some alone-time to process all the new thoughts and feelings over this baby business. She put on some of Giles' older records – the ones he insisted were classics and a true testimony to music.

She danced around the apartment for a few minutes until she stopped herself, worried she'd somehow cause a miscarriage from jumping. A silly thought – but it's always silly until something actually happens. And that's when the gravity of the situation truly hit her. She had a life, growing at this very minute, inside her. She was responsible for a life, more responsible than she'd ever been before, and it seemed more important than any of the apocalypses she'd stopped.

She curled onto the couch, cradling herself in the corner, humming along to the music. She fell asleep waiting for Giles to return.


Buffy woke with a start, her heart pounding, her eyes searching the room frantically.

"Giles?"

It was dark. Well, darkish. The neighbor dog was barking at the rush hour traffic. The streetlights were already on, and Giles wasn't home yet. She looked to the clock – five hours. She'd been asleep five hours on that couch and he hadn't come home yet?

'How long does it take to get some groceries and vitamins?' she wondered. She checked outside – the Citroen was gone.

Buffy closed the door slowly and looked around the empty apartment, unsure if she wanted to panic. Last time she panicked she ruined furniture and made an ass of herself.

Slowly, Buffy moved to the couch and curled into a ball where she'd been asleep, and waited. The pajama shirt she'd stolen still smelt of him, and she used that familiarity to keep calm. She wondered how long the stunt Ethan pulled would have power over her emotions like this, and how long she was going to have the gut reaction to search everywhere for her Watcher when he wasn't exactly where she expected him to be.

She folded her arms over her knees, sniffing his shirt, and stared at nothing as she waited.

At 8:30, the Scoobies arrived, carefully opening the door and calling out before they entered the flat. Buffy stood from the couch immediately, looking to their faces like a life-line.

"Buffy, why are all the lights – oof!" Willow nearly fell over catching Buffy in her arms. "Hey, hey, what's wrong?"

"Yeah, Buff, where's the G-man?" Xander looked over their heads, concerned with the darkness of the apartment. "Did you guys forget to pay your light bill?"

Willow rolled her eyes and gently pushed Buffy back, brushing hair from her face. "What's wrong?"

"Giles left to get food or something and he hasn't been back all day."

"When did he leave?" Willow said, her voice calm.

Buffy drew on that calm as an anchor, gave herself focus. "Before I woke up – um, before 11."

"And you haven't heard from him since?" Buffy shook her head, her lower lip wobbling as she fought to remain in control of her emotions. "Did he say where he was going?"

"Just to the market and the pharmacy. Nothing special."

"Ok, let's sit down and think. Giles wouldn't just disappear on his own, so let's figure out what might've happened." Willow guided Buffy back to the couch and sat next to her while Xander turned on a light. Willow looked from Tara to Xander to Anya and back to Tara. "Do you think we can pull off scrying Giles?"

"M-m-maybe. If he's n-not being shielded."

Willow nodded and ran her hands up and down Buffy's arms, as if the girl were cold. "Okay, we'll find him, Buff, don't worry."

"We can help," Anya said, grabbing hold of Xander's hand. "The more people focusing on Giles, the more powerful the scry."

"Good to know," Willow said, smiling at the ex-demon. They found a world map in Giles' desk, covered in small red circles with intersecting lines. They laid it out and Willow moved around the room, looking for a scrying stone. She found one, tucked in his glass case, and returned to the group, sitting down to complete the circle around the map.

They all held hands, Tara with a firm grasp on Willow's thigh, as they stared at Willow.

"Okay, I need you to think of Giles. Just Giles. Think of his glasses and his hair and his suits. Whatever it is that will help you focus on him. Three… two… one." She dropped the stone, the chain wrapped about her middle finger. She swirled it once to set it in motion. "Rupert Giles, former librarian and Watcher to the Slayer," she said softly.

At hearing the word 'Watcher', Buffy visualized him perfectly in her mind. She winced her eyes shut, holding onto his image.

He was in a dark room, sleeping on a cot, held prisoner.