Three months later. Buffy marveled at how accustomed she’d become to their uncomplicated routines: how he read aloud from Canterbury Tales while she prepared breakfast, how they stretched the sheets from either side to make up the bed, how each day seemed to have a theme…housekeeping on Monday, horseback riding on Tuesday and Thursday, going “to town” on Saturday, sleeping in on Sunday. Some days they showered together, and most days they jogged and then napped on the hammock, and every evening they forced themselves to talk about all of it: Sunnydale, L.A., the potentials, Angel, Angelus, Joyce, Giles’ parents, Spike, Anya, Quentin Travers, and every other agonizing topic that in years past, they would have avoided.
The rest happened without much fuss. They were walking back from the stables, hand in hand, because his touch was the thing that seemed to keep her insides from quivering from the anxiety of change, and he stopped. For a moment, she expected him to say, “It’s time for you to move on.” Those had been Faith’s exact words to her. But instead, he knelt in front of her. It was almost silly, now that she looked back on it. It was muddy, like always, and his khakis were light and probably ruined. But he looked at her with such earnestness, she could only go with it.
After taking her hands in his, Giles said, “This is the life I want. How about you?”
She looked into his eyes, which had poured endless compassion for her, and knew that this part of life was as certain as it ever could be.
“It is,” she answered, smiling fully for the first time in years.
“Shall we have a…a wedding, here? On the grounds?”
She decided to kneel next to him, let her hands brush through his hair. “Dawn said she loves it here.”
“School is almost out. She can stay as long as she’d like.”
“Let’s call her!” She planted a full kiss on his mouth before they walked briskly to the house.. their house.
And now, the quiet was shattered…by family. Dawn was the first to arrive. Her height now completely dwarfed her elder sister’s, and she was acing her classes at university and the Council. But when she was greeted by Buffy and Giles, wearing flannel shirts and standing with arms around each other, her girly squeal could have echoed for miles.
“You’re happy!” She practically picked Buffy off the ground in her embrace.
“Yep!” Buffy laughed, and Giles good-naturedly rolled his eyes as Dawn’s bear hug encircled him.
“Thank you,” she whispered. “I didn’t think we’d get her back.”
Giles tried to ignore the moisture springing into his eyes. It happened so easily lately. He just hugged Dawn for a long time in return.
Xander and Willow arrived together. Buffy had been in touch with Willow almost daily since she'd opened up to Giles. Something about it had freed her to be herself again, and Willow easily fit back into her life. But she and Xander had drifted far, his quest for self and direction and peace as desperate as hers had been. They stared at each other – she in ripped jeans with tousled hair, he in a pressed dress shirt and standing militarily straight, eye patch completing the almost-uniform look, and both burst out laughing.
“How times have changed,” he said wryly, squeezing her tightly.
“I missed you, brother,” she replied.
The first night was just the five of them, huddled in the kitchen, which had been painted lemon yellow and was now Buffy’s favorite room in which to be. They ate Mission Burrito take-out and took turns reporting on their adventures. Dawn recited a monologue in Italian. Willow twirled the white streak left in her hair as she described Violet, who had started as her research assistant but would be her date the next day. Xander reported on a mission he’d taken in Uganda and how he’d fallen in love… with 16 little kids living in an orphanage there. Giles described his plans for adding rhubarb and pumpkins to the garden and how he might consider teaching a class in the fall. And then it was Buffy’s turn.
“So…” She paused, feeling that familiar flutter in her heart, and looked at Giles, who immediately stilled her with his peace. “It seems as if…well, Giles has been working on it and…it looks like something about the spell, awakening the Potentials, and my having reached my tenth year of slaying without…well, without staying dead… has forced me into…well, retirement.”
Everyone gaped at her. Giles gave her a look that said, “Be clearer.” She took a deep breath. “My Slayer powers are fading.” No one gasped. No one fainted. “I get tired…my injuries stick longer…I’m not as strong. I’ve gained 10 pounds from Giles feeding me beef stew and putting butter on my sandwiches, and it’s not all muscle.”
Dawn scooted a chair closer to her sister and laid a hand on her knee. Buffy covered it with hers, appreciatively. “I’m scared,” she admitted. “Actually, I’m on edge almost all of the time. Except, being here…in this place, and being with Giles, I know it’s going to be ok. I don’t really know how not to be a Slayer, but…he’s reminded me that there is more to me. There always was. And looking at you guys, the people I’ve loved the most, the people who have always stuck by me, I believe it more than ever. We’re all going to be ok.”
Willow reached across the table and held Buffy’s free hand. Giles, on the other side of Buffy, did something that made her love him more. He walked around the table to Xander, who was trying to be nonchalant about the tears running down his face, and embraced the younger man. No one moved as the sobs became audible.
They’d lost so much…they’d lost so much.
But they were still here, and it was so good to be together again.
Buffy came to him after it was over.
She was wearing something long and pale pink and satin. It hugged her in the slight curves that were forming where only sharp edges had been. She’d kept the flower in her hair, and her new ring kept catching the candlelight.
She was his wife.
The love made that night was less desperate, not sad, and just as quiet as the first time. She was assured, and he was complete. Afterwards, they recounted moments from their celebration...the anecdotes Willow included in the ceremony, the greetings sent from Slayers on six continents, Xander giving away one Summers sister and dancing with the other for the rest of the evening, the surprise arrivals of Rona and Amanda, and a gift to Buffy from the Watchers Council: a full tuition waiver for the university of her choice.
As Buffy finally drifted to sleep next to him, Giles laid a hand on the small curve of her belly. He already knew what she was just beginning to wonder…that the ten pounds she’d referred to were not only from starchy meals, but the first signs of their next adventure. The good ones had only just begun.
Thank you for reading. This tone and simplicity is a departure for me. For more on why I went this route, check out "Buffy at 32: The Buffy/Giles Ship." Congrats to all the contributors, the magnificent mods, and the readers... I love that this wonder community is still around having fun and celebrating Gilesy goodness after all these years!