Title: Many Happy Returns
Setting: Post-Chosen, no AtS, no comics
Disclaimer: BtVS belongs to people who have money. I do not. Just playing in the sandbox.
Beta: None, so all mistakes are mine.
A/N: Written for seldomifever for her birthday. All the best wishes, my friend.
It was that time of year again, the one where Buffy wanted to hide from the world and pretend nothing bad ever happened. Why, out of all the days of the year, did her birthday have to include major suckage? Why couldn't President's Day pick up the slack or Arbor Day? Heck, she wasn't even in the US anymore, maybe just a Bank Holiday, then. Mondays were usually pretty terrible anyway.
God, the universe always seemed to have some test for her and here she was again. Last year her birthday dinner was interrupted by a gang of juvenile demons threatening several MPs in the House of Commons for some sort of gang initiation ceremony. Luckily it was after hours and there were only a few people holed up in the chambers. Ordinarily, she and Giles would've sent one of the more senior Slayers stationed in London, but the situation had been delicate. The Prime Minister had shown up for a clandestine meeting and needed to be extracted without drawing attention to the fact that he was there. She rolled her eyes at the memory, as if the situation wasn't delicate enough with having to cover up the actual demons - not just the political kind. As far as birthdays went, though, that one hadn't been so bad. It had just been inconvenient and again an expensive party dress had been lost to the cause. Better than someone's soul she reminded herself, wincing at that particularly horrifying memory.
This year, was no different, yet another test. One that had the potential to destroy everything. Walking into the master bedroom in a huge terry cloth robe and a towel adorning her wet head, she took a seat on the bed and rested her face between her hands. Now it was just a waiting game. Giles had planned this big weekend to celebrate her birthday, saying he had reason to believe things would be absolutely fine. She wished she shared his optimism.
Why not this year? her inner voice asked. Because things had been going so well, that's why, she answered back. The universe always demanded balance and, it seemed, always on her birthday. Buffy threw herself back on the bed and stared towards the bathroom door. She wasn't ready. She wasn't sure she'd be able to face this. Maybe she'd just throw on her clothes, call the driver, and head home to hide in an oversize t-shirt and a pair of sweats and drown herself in a vat of ice cream until fate knocked on the door.
Giles was determined to give Buffy a normal birthday. Well, not exactly a normal birthday, but hopefully very happy one. He'd called in Faith from the States and turned over command of the Council to Xander for the weekend under strict orders that nothing except the immediate end of the world would interrupt this celebration.
He rinsed the razor in the sink and brought it back up for another pass under his chin. He'd arranged everything, the limo, the cottage in the Cotswolds, and the special dinner at a posh little restaurant with the intimate table next to the fireplace. Nothing was going to spoil this night for her.
Stripping away yet another layer of his day's growth, the tall man smiled into the mirror. He hoped she had settled into the cottage well. Having had a few things to take care of earlier that afternoon, he'd made sure that all her favorite bath oils and candles were present so she could relax in the huge double jacuzzi tub, and told her would join her at the restaurant for dinner. Afterward, they'd head back to the cottage together to spend the rest of the weekend together, just the two of them with absolutely no interruptions.
He grabbed the hand towel and wiped his face. Walking back into his office, he retrieved his tux and started to dress himself. Being Head Watcher had it's perks - a grand corner office over looking the Thames with it's own ensuite bathroom was one of them.
Walking back out in his shirt and slacks, he found Xander waiting for him, "I'll enjoy the seat of power, you know. I'll also enjoy a little bubble bath where Mr Ducky will sink your battleship in a little stealth maneuver I like to call bubble dive..."
"Leave my toys alone, Xander," Giles replied dryly, pulling a pair of silver cufflinks out of a box.
"You... you actually have bath toys?"
Giles glared at the younger man over his glasses and popped a cufflink in through the button holes on the right cuff.
"Right, that would be a no... cuz it's... just... a... shower. Yeah, funny, big guy. So, uh, you nervous about tonight?"
"Why would I be?"
"Well, Buffy's birthday, you trying to make it all perfect. I mean-"
"Xander," the tall Englishman started, "I have triple checked the Pergamum Codex for any prophesies that might relate to Buffy and have come up with nothing, and the Seers haven't seen anything that might interfere with our plans for the immediate future. I also have the Slayers on high alert, you at the helm, and Willow has warded both the cottage and the restaurant."
"That's not what I mean."
"Then spit it out, man!" Giles growled as he started to fiddle with his bow tie. Admittedly, he was a little nervous, and Xander's prodding didn't help. He just didn't want to talk about it.
"I just mean, you've been together for eight years, and together, together for just over a year, and you know how she gets around her birthday. Is it really such a wise idea? I'm here through the end of next month, just wait a week or two. She can't really be in the mood to, you know... be festive."
Ignoring the comment from his young friend, the Watcher finished tying the bow tie. Pulling out a diamond stud from the drawer in the corner armoire, he inserted it into his ear, and checked his hair in the mirror. "Call the car around, please."
"Alright. No worries from this end, okay, buddy? Everything is going to be fine."
"Thank you, Xander. I appreciate it." Giles said, picking up his overnight bag and stopping by his desk where he retrieved a couple of small packages and placed them in his jacket pocket. Turning back to his friend, he smiled and said, "We'll see you in three days time over at Willow's for the group party, yes?"
"With bells on. Now go. The car is waiting. Oh, and don't forget your coat."
Buffy stared at the red satin evening gown Giles had sent up with her. It was exquisite. Floor length, a slit up the side that was buttoned every few inches for just glimpses of skin, low cut with tight fitting bodice and spaghetti straps. A bit impractical for January in England, but it was beautiful. Accompanying the dress, were a pair of sassy red heels, and a rectangular square box containing a gorgeous diamond pendant necklace and a note within.
Happy Birthday, Darling,
I can't wait for tonight. Please accept these gifts as a token of my love.
She smiled. Giles was such a romantic at heart. She never would've guessed when they first started dating, she'd known the man for seven years and other than his cute bumbling stage with Ms Calendar, he'd never really given any indication that he had this side to him. It was sweet and the past year with him had been the happiest of her life... or lives, she supposed. Brushing out her hair beneath the blow dryer, she just hoped that nothing would come between them as she glanced across the counter with a grimace. Eventually she'd have to face the music. Stupid birthdays.
Looking into the master bedroom, Buffy glanced at the clock. Giles would meet her at the restaurant down the road in an hour and there were only four hours left of her actual birthday. She could make it through this, right? She didn't want to dwell on it anymore. Having finished with her hair, she applied her make up, just a little to accentuate her eyes, and a splash of color on her lips.
The dress was a little tighter around the middle than she would've liked and she cursed under her breath as she zipped up the back, thankful for Slayer flexibility. After putting on the heels and fastening the necklace, she viewed herself in the full length mirror. Giles sure knew how to spoil her. She definitely loved the way it hugged her curves and she knew he would too.
Buffy headed back into the bathroom to tidy it up, putting away her makeup and cleaning up the counter. Her hand shaking, she picked up the two little sticks at the end of the vanity. She hadn't had the nerve earlier to look at the results, and there they were, the bright blue plus signs staring out at her like giant accusing eyes on both of the tests, just as she suspected, dreaded even, and, despite all her fears and misgivings, she couldn't help but smile as she ran her free hand over her still flat belly. Maybe things would turn out well. Maybe Giles would be happy too, although, starting a family was an awful lot to ask of a man pushing fifty and established in his career and habits.
Grabbing a tissue to blot the bittersweet tears forming in her eyes before she ruined her makeup, Buffy cursed the hormones. Maybe she could wait to tell him until they got back to London on Monday. She sighed. Somehow she doubted it. He'd know something was bothering her besides the normal birthday badness and he wasn't the type to leave anything be. Maybe tomorrow then.
"Welcome, Miss Summers, Mr. Giles is in the dining room waiting for you," The owner of the restaurant greeted, taking her coat from her.
Buffy hadn't expected the entire restaurant to be devoid of people. Giles had clearly hired it out for the evening since there was only one table in the dining room and it was set up next to the giant stone hearth complete with roaring fire.
Giles watched as she entered the room and stood up in greeting, lost for words. She was an absolute vision in the red dress, her long honey blonde tresses framing her face and shoulders perfectly. Her smile was radiant, but it didn't quite reach her eyes. He could see her concern in those mossy depths from across the room.
"You... you steal my breath away," he murmured in greeting, taking her hands in his.
"You're quite the handsome devil yourself," Buffy complimented, lifting her chin to receive a kiss from him. Giles in a tux was just about the sexiest thing she had ever seen, and ever since her high school prom, she'd secretly fantasized about it. This past year they'd attended several galas representing the Council, or rather the Council's front organization, and she'd even gotten to pick out a few of his tuxes for the events, fueling even more fantasies and enjoying making them become realities.
Raising his hands he cradled her head between them and brought his lips down to meet hers as she wrapped her arms around him, kissing her slowly and sensually. When the kiss ended, he asked with concern, "Did you have a relaxing afternoon?"
She sat down in the chair he pulled out for her and replied, "As much as I could, considering what day it is, but the aromatherapy helped, thank you."
Giles placed his hands on her upper arms and bent down to kiss her exposed neck, taking in the spicy smell of the lemongrass and ginger bath oil still lingering on her skin. "I'm sorry to have left you alone this afternoon. If I could've rearranged the meeting with the director of Scotland Yard, I would have," he said apologetically.
"I know," Buffy responded. "I wasn't great company anyway. Did the incident get taken care of?"
"Of course. Now, no more talk of work. It's just us now. Look in front of you."
She found a small wrapped box with a bow on it sitting on her plate in front of her. "Giles, really, all of this... it's just too much-"
"Nonsense, now open it," her lover interrupted with grin.
As she started to unwrap her present, the waiter opened a bottle of Pinot Noir and poured a little in Giles' glass for him to test. He took a small sip and rolled it around on his tongue before deciding the vintage was acceptable. The waiter then came around to serve Buffy, but she shook her head no.
"Just sparkling water for me, please," she requested.
"No wine tonight, love?"
"Nah, there are still a few hours left of my birthday. I need to stay alert," the Slayer answered with more than a little truth in her answer.
"Nothing's going to happen, Buffy."
"You don't know that, Giles. Just look at last year and your stupid Prime Minister."
The Watcher just nodded, conceding the point. He wasn't going to rile her up, he could tell how tense she was when she was in his arms earlier. Instead he watched as she went back to ripping at the paper on her present to reveal a small rectangular box. Upon opening it, her jaw dropped and she took out one of the drop pendant diamond earrings that matched her necklace.
"These are beautiful," she breathed as she replaced the hoops in the first hole in her ears with the new earrings. "Giles, I don't know what to say."
"They look stunning on you. I've had my eye on that set for several months."
"And yet, you bought me a coffeemaker for Christmas," she teased.
"Yes, well... you complained about the instant coffee in the cupboard."
"Gold Blend? Who wouldn't? In all seriousness, Giles, you spoil me too much."
"It's my prerogative as your-" he watched her face turn a shade green as the waiter brought out a starter of seafood bisque. "Buffy, good heavens, are you alright?"
Buffy had been having issues with food and various smells for a couple weeks. Apparently seafood bisque was now on the list of things to avoid. God, this was not how she wanted Giles to find out.
"I... could you please take it away?" she asked the waiter, who looked a little surprised. Getting up from the table, she looked at her dinner partner, "Nerves, I just need some air." Rushing from the dining room and into the cooler air of the lobby, Buffy recovered enough to not need the ladies' room.
Giles stared at the waiter for a moment, "I think we'll pass on the starter, give my apologies to the chef. Excuse me a moment."
He found her in the lobby with her arms wrapped around her torso staring out the window. Shoving his hands into his pockets, he cleared his throat, "I'm sorry, Buffy, perhaps I've pushed too hard to try to give you a special birthday."
"No, it's perfect. I'm just..."
"If you like, we can have the chef pack the food and take it back to the cottage. We can eat it later when you feel less stressed."
Turning around, she saw that his head was ducked and his shoulders hunched forward, sheepishly looking over the rim of his glasses, a sure sign that he was apologetic and embarrassed by his own actions.
"Oh, Giles!" She exclaimed walking into his arms, trying to reassure him. It hurt her to know that he blamed himself. He'd really gone above and beyond to make her day something special. "No, it's okay. Let's go back and have dinner."
Lifting her chin, he searched her eyes, "If you're sure."
"I'm sure," Buffy affirmed, taking his hand and leading him back into the dining room.
The rest of the evening went smoothly, and they enjoyed the remaining courses of their meal. When they were done, they thanked their waiter, the chef, and the owner of the restaurant for a wonderful meal before heading back to the cottage.
As they entered their home away from home, Giles, turned on the lights and closed the door. He helped her removed her coat, hung it up, and then took his coat and jacket off and placed them into the closet as well.
Buffy pulled him in for a hug and rested her head against his chest, reassured by the sound of his steady heartbeat.
"The day is almost over, would you like me to build a fire and we can relax on the sofa together?"
"Sounds perfect, I could use some Watcher snuggles. Would you mind terribly if I changed into something less formal?"
"Only if you'll promise to wear that gown again," he answered with a wink.
A few minutes later she joined him again in a sleek lilac nighty that came down to mid-thigh and found Giles lying back on the sofa, his feet bare and staring into the fire with a tumblr of scotch in his left hand. His glasses were missing, his bow tie was undone but still hanging around his neck, and the first two buttons of his shirt were undone.
"Settling in for the night?" Buffy asked, settling herself between his legs and snuggling up against his chest.
"For as long as you like," he replied, setting his drink down on the coffee table and putting his arms around her.
By the looks of it, he hadn't had much of the scotch. She knew just how much he would pour into a glass when he decided to indulge, which was only on occasion these days. They sat together in the quiet listening to the crackling and the popping of the wood as it burned in the fireplace while he absently ran his fingers across her tummy.
When the grandfather clock in the hallway chimed midnight, Buffy lifted her head to look at him, and he smiled at her before saying, "Happy un-birthday, love. You made it through without disaster or some life altering event."
She gave him a weak smile before laying back down and returning her gaze back to the fire as her heart started to race. She felt him kiss the top of her head and shift into a sitting position, and she let out a little mewl of protest before sitting up to face him.
Digging into his pocket, Giles pulled out a little velvet box, saying, "I have one more thing for you, but I wanted to wait until it wasn't your birthday anymore, just in case."
Getting up from his seat on the couch, he took a knee on the floor in front of her and opened the box containing a beautiful sapphire and diamond ring. It took her breath away.
"Surprisingly, I can't seem to find the words," Giles started with a look of consternation before trying again. "Buffy, there has never been anyone that I have wanted to spend my life with until now. I love and adore you and I promise that will never change. Will you marry me?"
Her eyes were wide and filled with tears as she stared at the ring. Damn him for doing this now. A tear escaped her left eye and fell down her cheek. "Oh, Giles," she cried between ragged breaths.
"Buffy?" he breathed, putting down the box on the table and rising to sit next to her. "What's wrong?" This wasn't the reaction of an excited bride-to-be he had been expecting. When they first started to get to know each other again after the destruction of Sunnydale, she had said she hoped to get married one day.
Taking his hand in hers, she lifted her head to look at him through the tears, concern and trepidation written on his face and haunting his pale green eyes. God, this wasn't easy. In all their conversations, they'd never talked about children; and to be honest, she'd never really thought about them until after she and Giles had started dating, but he was her forever guy and in her mind's eye, she had imagined starting a family with him. Unfortunately, the subject had never come up and she never found the right time to ask him if he wanted children.
"I love you too, Giles. I love you so much, but there is something you should know, and if you don't want to get married after I tell you, it'll be okay, I promise," Buffy whispered, summoning any and all Slayer courage to help her through this. "Those weren't nerves that made me want to hurl my guts at the sight of the soup tonight." Holding his eyes with hers she announced, "I'm pregnant. I took the test earlier today... two of them."
Giles, reeled back a little trying to catch his breath. Regaining his composure, he tried to keep his emotions in check. "A-Are you happy about this?" he asked, struggling to keep his voice neutral and searching her eyes, unable hide the little grin that was tugging at the corner of his mouth.
"Yeah, I am."
His smile widened, "How long?"
"Two months, give or take a week," Buffy answered, returning his grin with her own.
Giles quickly did the math in his head, "August then."
Leaning in he pressed his forehead to hers, his left hand cupping her cheek gently, yet possessively, "I ask again, Buffy Summers. Will you marry me?"
"Yes!" She barely got the word out before his lips crashed down on hers, love mingling with relief, excitement, and passion before she pulled away unable to contain the happy tears that started to fall.
They settled back into the couch and he curled up around her as they watched the fire die, content in each other's company, his left hand resting protectively over her belly. When his fiancée finally fell asleep, Giles watched the last of the embers fade and whispered, "Happy Birthday, Buffy."