Title: The Big 5-0
Rating: FRC Totally harmless, no cussing, and no sex.
Disclaimers: I do not own the characters used in this story and I am making no profit from it. This story is purely for entertainment purposes.
This is my entry for my Summer of Giles assignment for today. It is a cross-over with Manchild and the character of James who, as everyone knows, was also played by ASH.
The Big 5-0
Giles stood at his office window looking out at the overcast day. It had rained off and on most of the morning. Not a heavy rain, more like a mist, but combined with the temperature it made going out unpleasant. He gave a little huff. It wasn't really cold, in fact the temperature was normal for this time of year, but he had grown accustomed to the constant heat of southern California. Much to Willow's amusement he had started wearing his tweed jacket again. Her own wardrobe now included sweaters and heavy jackets.
His stomach rumbled and he glanced at his watch with a slight frown. Willow was late. She had called this morning and said that she wanted to talk to him. He had suggested joining him for lunch and she had agreed, with the condition that she bring take away to the office and they have their discussion there. The word on the grapevine, relayed to him by his secretary, was that Willow and Kennedy had split up. If this was the case, Willow probably wanted to leave so they wouldn't be meeting at headquarters. Giles sighed. He would miss Willow. She was the only one from Sunnydale that had stayed with him in London.
Xander was the currently traveling the world looking for new Slayers. Giles was very proud of the man Xander had become. In a few years, when things became more stable, he would see if Xander might be interested in learning more of the day to day functions at headquarters. He knew that, if he chose to take on the burden, Xander could be trusted to continue to run the new Council with the needs of the Slayer given top priority.
Dawn was thriving in her new life in Rome. He received detailed letters from her every week, with e-mails in between. He smiled. His family. Xander the son he had never had, with Dawn and Willow the daughters of his heart. That took his thoughts, naturally, to the last member of their little group. Buffy.
Ah, Buffy. If only…
The door behind him opened, breaking his thoughts. "Hey, Giles. Sorry I'm late, but look who I found at the drug store."
Giles turned, correcting her automatically. "Chemist, Willow, not drugstore." Whatever else he had planned to say died on his lips when he saw the person standing behind Willow.
The man stuffed his hands in his pockets and gave a sheepish smile. "Hello, Bear. Long time."
Inwardly Giles groaned, but he pasted a smile on his face. “Hello, James. Yes, it has been a long time. How are you?”
Willow gave Giles a curious look. “Bear?”
Giles continued to smile, but the look he directed at James made the man pale. “Um,” James gulped, “I’m fine.” James glanced around in a panic, his eyes settling on Willow. He gave Giles another weak smile. “There I was, minding my own business, when this lovely thing came up to me and called me Giles. Wanted to know who had taken me shopping.” His looked at Giles critically.
“I see her point. Really, old fellow, tweed? And the cut of that suit is abominable.” He reached for his wallet, pulled out a card, and walked across the room to hand it to Giles. “This is my tailor. He’s pretty pricy, but he’ll give you a discount if you tell him I sent you.”
Giles gave James another annoyed look, but took the card. “I’m satisfied with my wardrobe, thank you very much.”
James shook his head. “You cannot honestly be happy with the way you look. These clothes make you look at least ten years older.” James circled Giles and tugged on the shoulder of the jacket. “The pants are baggy and the jacket hangs on you like a sack. Have you lost weight since that was fitted to you?” James turned to Willow. “Be honest, doesn’t it make him look old?” James caught sight of himself in a mirror and posed, smoothing back his hair. “Hard to believe we’re the same age, isn’t it?”
Willow nodded her agreement. “I was stunned by how much younger he looked the first time I saw him without the tweed.” She smiled. “I had such a crush on him back them.” Willow gave Giles a mild glare. “Why didn’t you tell us you had a twin brother?”
“Twin?” James started giggling.
Giles snorted. “That prat is not my brother; he’s my cousin.”
Willow looked at James and then back to Giles. “Cousin?”
Giles sighed. “Our mothers were identical twins, and although the men they married were not related, they looked quite similar. This,” he waved at himself and James, “is just an extraordinary accident of genetics.”
Willow nodded. "Since he's your cousin on you mother's side does that mean that he's not a Watcher?"
James shivered. "No, thank god. I was saved from that horror." He frowned slightly. "How do you know about Watchers?" He looked at Willow in panic. "You're not a Slayer, are you?"
"No, I'm a witch."
He nodded then goggled at her wide-eyed. "A witch? With a broom and a caldron and all of that?"
Giles rolled his eyes. "No, you git. She's Wiccan."
James looked puzzled. "Wiccan? Is that like a Druid?"
Giles rolled his eyes again, shaking his head. He drew a deep breath and tried to turn the subject. "It's been nice seeing you again, James, but Willow and I were about to discuss business. Why don't you call next week and I'll clear some time to visit with you."
"Giles!" Willow looked shocked. "We were just going to have lunch."
James shrugged, sticking his hands back in his pockets. "That's alright. I don't want to interfere. I'll go." He moved slowly towards the door.
Willow glared at Giles with her Resolve face. He sighed. "No, James. Please stay."
James gave Willow a hand-dog expression. "I really didn't mean to butt in on your date. I can call Ru later."
"It's not a date, it's lunch, and I wouldn't have invited you if I didn't mean it. Tell him, Giles. I don’t say things just to be polite, right?"
Giles smiled at her. "No, Willow, you don't say things just to be polite."
Willow gave a brisk nod and picked up the bag that she had put down when she entered the room. "Giles, set up the table. James, there are plates and silverware in the cupboard over there." The men hurried to do her bidding. Willow watched them. How strange it was to see them together. So much alike, yet so different.
James carried the things over to the small table that Giles had erected. "In any event I wouldn't be able to call you next week; I'll be out of town. A friend of mine, Terry, has leased a villa in Cannes and we're going over for the opening of the festival. He invested some money in an independent film that’s going to be premiered there. We're flying over Wednesday morning in Patrick's' jet." He turned and looked at Giles.
Giles had a bad feeling that he knew what James was going to say next and tried to head him off. "I imagine Elizabeth is over the moon at the thought of going to the festival. All of those parties with all of those celebrities."
James looked away. "Didn't you know? Elizabeth and I had a parting of the ways."
"Couldn't put up with you chasing anything in a skirt any longer, eh?"
“Ru, it wasn’t like that. Most of those girls chased me.”
“You were a married man, James. The word ‘No’ is in your vocabulary.”
James hunched his shoulders and turned away. “You’ve never been married. You wouldn’t understand.”
“I may have not been married, but even I know that there are consequences to being unfaithful.” Giles saw Willow raise her eyebrows and give him a speculative look. He looked away, clearing his throat. “There is no need to go into this now. Let's enjoy this lovely lunch that Willow has provided.”
James looked between Giles and Willow with a slight frown on his face. It changed into comprehension. “Oh, I say, I AM interrupting. The two of you had a tiff and this is a part of your reconciliation.”
Giles whipped off his glasses and pinched the bridge of his nose. “For god’s sake, James, I’m old enough to be her father. Willow is just a dear friend. There is nothing else between us.”
James shook his head. “Age has nothing to do with love.”
Willow smiled and walked across the room to put her hand on Giles’ arm. “And I’m sure that if he loved me, or someone my age in that way, it wouldn’t make a difference.” Giles didn’t meet her gaze. She gave his arm a little shake. “Giles?”
“Perhaps not.” Giles smiled, but Willow could see the sadness in his eyes. He looked back at the table. “We should eat before things get cold. By the way, what did you bring for our lunch?”
Willow smiled. "I'm not really sure. I went to that Indian place that you're always talking about and asked if they knew you. When Mr. Singh said that you were a regular I asked him to make up a meal for four people with all of your favorites. I figured we could split what was left and take it home for our suppers."
Giles reached into the bag and began to lift out a number of containers. He opened the largest and drew in a deep breath. Beside him James did the same. Both men sighed, "Ah, curry."
Willow giggled. "Are you sure you're not twins?"
The three filling their plates and taking the first bites of their lunch took up the next few minutes. Willow cautiously tasted the curry then looked at Giles with a smile. "This is good." She took a few more bites, hesitated for a few seconds, then said, "Um, Giles, remember I said I wanted to talk to you about something?"
Giles glanced at James. "It can wait."
"No, that's okay, it's nothing really private." She hesitated, shrugged, and continued. "Kennedy and I haven't been getting along lately. We decided that we need some time apart."
Giles reached over and took her hand. "I have heard some rumors, but I had hoped they weren't true. I'm so sorry, Willow. If there is anything I can do." He trailed off, waiting for her to tell him she wanted to leave London.
"Being here at headquarters has been great, but we both feel that she needs more practical experience. She wanted me to ask if you would let her go to Cleveland and train with Faith rather than stay here as an instructor for the newbies. I thought I might spend a few days with the coven, charge my magic batteries so to speak, then move in with you at your place."
Giles was stunned. He had been so sure that she was going to leave that he couldn't find a way to respond to her request.
Willow looked worried at his continued silence. "Giles? I won't be in the way. I'll stay in my bedroom and not play loud music or anything. You'll hardly know I'm there. I just don't want to stay in our place alone after she's gone." She gave his hand a little shake. "Giles?"
He tightened his grip on her hand as relief flooded through him. "Of course you may stay with me, Willow. Stay as long as you wish; there's plenty of room. I live a very dull life; it will do me good to have someone around to liven things up. I'll call Faith after lunch and tell her that we are sending Kennedy her way. Susan will make the arraignments and let her know about flights and so forth."
Willow jumped up and raced around the table to give Giles a hug. "Thanks, Giles." She went back to her seat and starting eating.
James had listened in silence, but his eyes went wide when he heard that Kennedy was a 'she'. He shook his head slightly. Why were all the pretty ones unavailable? He cleared his throat. "Speaking of livening things up Ru, why don't you take a few days off and come over to Cannes with us? The night of Terry's premier is on our birthday, the second night of the festival. What better way to celebrate the big 5-0 than to go to a glamorous party?" He turned to Willow. "You can come too. Terry's rented a huge place. He says it's got a dozen bedrooms. It's just the ticket to help you get through the break-up blues."
Willow frowned. "You have the same birthday? Are you sure you're not twins?"
Giles sighed. He had dropped his guard and James had blurted out the news about their birthday being next week. "I was born on schedule, but James' mother was in an accident on the way to hospital to see my Mum and she went into premature labor. James was born a month early." He gave James a glare. "Personally I think that's why he is such a prat. He didn't mature in the womb and he hasn't matured since either."
"Giles!" Willow was shocked at his tone, but James just shrugged and grinned.
"So, you going to come or not?"
"You're being awfully free with your friend’s villa. What if he has already invited other people?"
James whipped out his cell phone and hit a number. "Terry, its James. Listen, can I invite a couple of people to the festival? We'll need three rooms." He listened intently and smiled. "Cool. I'll see you later and give you the details. Bye." He snapped the phone closed. "See, no problem."
He turned to Willow and looked at her with puppy dog eyes. "Please say you'll come. If you come then I know Ru will come. He'll feel it's his duty to protect you from me and my friends."
Willow smiled, but shook her head. "I don't have anything I could wear to something like that, and I'm not going to spend the kind of money needed to buy something fancy enough and only wear it once."
James smiled back. "I can handle that too." He flipped open his phone again. "Patrick, its James. There is a young lady who is interested in going to Cannes with us, and she needs something posh to wear. Could one of your designer friends loan her a couple of gowns?" He looked over at Willow. "Red hair, green eyes, 5'4", 110 pounds."
He put his hand over the end of the phone. "He's on his other line." There was a brief silence. "Yes, I'm still here. Right, I'll take her there myself. Thanks, Patrick. See you later." James smiled at Willow. "After lunch I'm to take you to Ventilo's in Notting Hill. They'll have some things ready for you to try on and choose from."
Willow blinked in bewilderment. "They'll loan me a designer dress, maybe more than one dress? Just like that? They don't know me. Why would they trust me with a designer dress?"
"Because Patrick is vouching for you. It's done all the time. No, really. You wear the dresses to the various parties and if someone asked where you got them you just say Ventilo's and they get free publicity. You don't think that all those actresses really own the gowns they wear to the awards shows, do you?" He looked back to Giles.
“Come on, Ru. Take a few days off and come over with us. You don’t have to do anything, just relax on the beach.” James frowned slightly. “Really, you look all in. The place won’t fall apart if you go away for a few days.”
Willow nodded. “He’s right Giles. Things have been so hectic, getting all the Slayers together, finding new Watchers, and starting the training. I don't remember the last time you took a day off."
"And we'll just be a couple of hours away by jet. Whenever we've gone over for skiing or something Patrick leaves the plane ready at the nearest airport in case one of us needs to come back early." James smiled winningly. "Please say yes, Ru. It'll be such fun. We haven't spent a birthday together since we were boys."
Giles started to say no, but looked at Willow. He realized that he hadn't noticed the dark lines under her eyes before. She had been working just as many hours as he had. She deserved some time off, and a little pampering as well. He had seen the excitement in her eyes at the thought of wearing a real designer gown. He turned back to James. "Very well. For a few days. We'll fly over with you on Wednesday, but I need to come back on Sunday. Willow can stay longer if she wishes."
Willow squealed, jumped up and rushed around to hug him again. James beamed. Giles held up his hand. "But no cake. And if I hear one chorus of 'Happy Birthday' I'm leaving immediately."
"Never, Ru. Cross my heart." The phone on his desk rang and Giles went to answer it. James and Willow grinned and gave each other thumbs up.
Dawn was bored.
Oh, she had a lot of things she could be doing, homework among them, but she felt restless. The low murmur of voices from the other room had her glaring at the doorway. HE was here again. What was it with Buffy and vampires anyway?
He wasn't bad, not really. He drank donated blood, and he treated Buffy like she was royalty, so Dawn didn't have to worry about seeing Buffy bruised and battered like she had been when she was involved with Spike. He had also warned all of the vampires in the city leave them alone. Buffy hadn't needed to use Mr. Pointy in months.
Life was good. Great house, good friends, no danger from things that go bump in the night.
God, she was SO bored.
And she really missed the others. Xander. Willow. And Giles. Especially Giles.
Dawn looked at he clock. Willow had sent her a strange text message about an hour ago. Watch channel 7 at 8 o'clock. Must be some show Willow wanted her to see, but Willow was in London, how did she know what was on television in Rome? Dawn shrugged. Time to find out. She picked up the remote and turned on the TV.
It looked like some kind of event. People dressed in evening wear walking through a gauntlet of reporters and photographers. Dawn frowned. What on earth? The sight of Julia Roberts walking across the screen triggered a memory. One on the girls in her class had been talking about her older sister having a bit part in a movie that was going to be premiering at the Cannes film festival and that tonight was the opening festivities. They must be televising some of the parties.
Okay. So why did Willow want her to watch? A moment later her question was answered.
"Buffy," she yelled, "it's Giles."
Buffy rushed to the doorway, glancing around the room. "Giles? Where?"
"There." Dawn pointed to the television.
Buffy looked, then frowned. "That's not Giles."
Dawn looked at her in astonishment. "How can you say that? Look at him; it's Giles."
Buffy shook her head. "No, it's not." When Dawn opened her mouth to protest again Buffy continued. "The hair is wrong, he's not wearing glasses, and Giles wouldn't be caught dead in a white suit with a pink shirt. He's not ever wearing a tie. Giles would never go to a big event in a suit without a tie. Not Giles." She started to turn away.
"I don’t know. The woman with him. Isn't it that model, Olivia, the one who came to visit him in Sunnydale."
Buffy spun back around, glaring at the television and Dawn was startled at the look on her face. "Yes, that's Olivia." Buffy almost spit the name out as she turned her glare back to Dawn. "But it's NOT Giles." She started to leave again.
Dawn looked back at the television. "You're right. That wasn't Giles. Cause THAT is."
Buffy turned more slowly this time and looked back at the picture. Her breath caught in her throat. This time it really was him. Giles, wearing a tuxedo, moving through the crowd of celebrities as though he belonged. And on his arm, looking pretty fantastic herself, was Willow. Giles glanced up and looked straight into the camera. He smiled, and for an instant Buffy was back at the Prom, seeing him smile at her across the room. "Giles," she whispered.
Without conscious thought she crossed the room and knelt in front of the television. Her hand came up and caressed the image on the screen. Dawn was startled. "Buffy?"
Buffy didn’t reply until after Giles moved past the camera. She stood back up and wiped her face before turning around. Dawn could see that she still had tears in her eyes. "I miss him."
Dawn moved over and pulled her into a hug. "I miss him too."
"Yeah, but you still talk to him. I messed up and he probably doesn’t want to have anything to do with me."
Dawn frowned. "Why do you think that?"
"He doesn't call or write to me anymore. I meant to answer, I really did, but time just slipped away and then he stopped. He gave up. I don't blame him." She shrugged. "I messed up and it's too late to fix it."
"It's never too late." Both girls turned at the voice behind them, Buffy looking at him guiltily. He smiled. "Go to him, cara, tell him, show him how you feel. If he is any kind of man at all he will not be able to resist you."
"But it isn't, that is, I didn't mean." Buffy stuttered to silence.
The Immortals' smile widened. "Cara, I am not upset. I have always known that your heart was elsewhere. Our time together has been merely a breathing space for you. A safe place to come to terms with your life and to calm your soul. I have been honored that you have graced me with your presence these last few months, but it is time for you to fly again."
Buffy giggled and crossed the room to give him a hug. "Sweet talker. I bet you say that to all the Slayers."
He gave a little half bow. "But of course. How else have I remained un-dusted all these centuries?" He took Buffy's face in his hands, his expression turning serious. "Go to him. Love it too precious to waste." He kissed her forehead. "Be happy, cara." He turned and left the room. A few seconds later they heard the front door open, then close.
There was a moment of silence, then Buffy said, "Go to him? How? I don't know where he is." Dawn gave her a look. "Well, of course I know where he is; he's in Cannes, but I don't know where he's staying." She thought for a few seconds. "I guess I'll have to start calling the hotels to see which one he's staying at."
Dawn shook her head in disbelief. "Whoever the monks used as my father must be smart, cause I sure don't get my brains from you."
Dawn pulled her cell phone out of her pocket, flipped it open, and hit speed dial three. "Hey, Willow. Yeah, we saw. You look great. Where did you get that dress?" She listened, saying the occasional, "Uh, huh," and nodding her head. Finally she broke in, "Who is this James you keep talking about? Have you changed sides again?"
"Dawn!" Buffy exclaimed. She grabbed the phone just in time to hear Willow's voice say, "No, silly. James is Giles' cousin. They look enough alike to be twins. Anyway, a friend of his flew us over and we're staying at a villa that another friend rented. You should see this place, it huge!"
"Hey, Will, it's me."
"Buffy! Did you see us?"
"Yeah. Dawn's right, you look great in that dress." Buffy hesitated. "Um, Will, is Olivia staying there too?"
"No, we just bumped into her at the last party. She tried to latch onto Giles, but he made it clear that he was escorting me, so she settled for James."
"So James was the guy in the white suit and pink shirt? He does look freakily like Giles."
"Look, yeah. Act, no. He's kinda like Ripper on Valium. A very laid back letch. But sweet, really sweet. Not a mean bone in his body, and he cooks like a gourmet chef. I think I've gained five pounds in the last 24 hours."
"Willow," Buffy broke in, "is Giles going back to London tomorrow?"
"No, he's staying until Sunday. He's been working hard lately and James talked him into taking a couple of days off." Willow paused and when she resumed she was speaking in a lowered voice. "Besides, tomorrow is his birthday. He doesn’t know it yet, but James has planned a party." Willow gasped. "Buffy! You have to come here for his birthday. It would be the perfect surprise."
"I would like to, but I bet all the hotels are booked."
"You can share with me. The main house has four bedrooms, and that's where James and his friends are staying, but the grounds has about a dozen guest cottages and they put me up in one and Giles in the one next door. There's plenty of room. Please come."
"I'll have to call you back after I check the airlines."
Dawn grabbed the phone back and read from a piece of paper in her hand. "We'll be on Swiss Air flight 210. It arrives at 10:30 tomorrow morning." She bounced. "Giles' birthday. This is going to be so cool."
Buffy grabbed the phone back. "See you tomorrow." There was no response. "Willow?"
"Oh, my god! He's gorgeous."
"Will?" Buffy could hear deep breaths.
"He bumped into me and smiled and said he was sorry. Oh, my GOD!" Willow gave a quiet little squeal.
There was a sigh. "George Clooney." Another sigh. "He looks better in person than in the movies. Oh, Buffy, you've got to get here and come to one of these parties. Wow."
Buffy laughed. "Don't forget to pick us up at the airport tomorrow."
"Swiss Air flight 210, 10:30 tomorrow morning. Giles is coming, got to go."
Buffy handed the phone back to Dawn and looked at the clock. "Good thing the shops stay open late, we've got to get some new clothes."
"Shopping." Dawn bounced again. "Let me get my purse." She rushed from the room, and Buffy took a deep breath. Tomorrow. She would see Giles tomorrow.
The party had gone on into the early morning hours, but Giles still woke at his normal time. He didn't think anyone else was up yet, and that was fine with him. The less time he had to spend with James and his friends, the better. Xander had been more mature at 16 than these prats were now.
He dressed casually and made himself a light breakfast in the tiny cottage kitchen. The chairs were very uncomfortable, so he went back to the bedroom and relaxed on the bed, reading a booklet about the area. He smiled slightly. He was supposed to be resting, but Willow had not allowed him to bring any books. Just what was she expecting him to do, sleep the days away?
The filmy curtains moved in the breeze coming through the open patio door, and the sound of the ocean waves rolling onto the beach below provided a soothing background. His mind turned, as it often did when he wasn't concentrating on something, to Buffy.
Was she well? Was she happy? He missed her almost unbearably, but if staying in Rome was what she needed to find peace, then he would not interfere. Although when Dawn had told him about Buffy and the Immortal he had been sorely tempted. What was with that girl and vampires? At least this one seemed to be treating her properly. He sighed and got up.
If he was going to stay many more days, he needed to find a bookshop. For now, he was going to take a walk on the beach. Perhaps Willow would be interested in joining him. Giles slipped on a pair of sandals and crossed the small courtyard to Willow's cottage. He knocked on the door, waited a couple of seconds, and knocked again. No answer.
Giles frowned slightly and knocked louder. No answer. He cautiously tried the door and found it to be unlocked. He opened the door and called, "Willow?" No answer. He entered and found a note taped to the mirror next to the door.
'Giles, a lady I talked to last night told me about this really nice shop where I could buy some inexpensive gifts for people back in London, so I'm going shopping. Don't worry, I'm not driving, I'm taking a taxi. See you later, Willow.'
Giles gave a little huff. Gifts for people in London. Oh, he had no doubt that she was buying gifts, but he would be willing to bet that at least one was for him. He knew about the party, James couldn't keep a secret if his life depended on it. Giles found the idea strangely appealing. It had been a very long time since anyone had made an effort to celebrate his birthday, including himself. He had better make sure he wasn't around when Willow got back, he would hate to spoil her plotting.
As Giles started to leave, he noticed a romance novel on the side table. Not his usual type of reading material, but it would do. He picked up the book and left the cottage. Continuing across the courtyard, he descended the steps that led to the beach. A pair of chairs was sitting under a large umbrella. Perfect. He sat down, opened the book, and began to read.
Four hours later Giles closed the book and looked up, blinking a few times for his eyes to focus. He was amazed. He had read the entire book in one sitting. The description of the physical relationship between the two main characters had been startlingly graphic, at least to him. Was this considered normal reading for young women these days? The book itself had been very well written. The characters clearly defined, the plot tight and coherent. He looked at the author's name. Jayne Ann Krentz. When he found that bookstore he would see if he could find another book by that author.
He glanced down at his watch. Good lord, had he been down here that long? Willow was certainly back by now. He would go up and see if she would join him for some lunch.
Giles bounded up the steps and knocked on Willow's door. No answer. He shrugged and crossed the courtyard to his own. When he opened the door he was almost knocked down by, "Surprise! Happy Birthday!" The small front room was filled with balloons and Willow, James and Dawn were standing there. Dawn?
The girl rushed across the room and grabbed him in a crushing hug. "Happy birthday, Giles."
Giles pretended to frown. "What did I say?"
James goggled for a moment, but Willow giggled. "There's not a cake in sight." She pointed to the kitchen counter. "We bought pastries. And no one is singing, so you have to stay."
Giles smiled and tightened his arm around Dawn. She had come, but not Buffy. His smile faltered for a second, but he wasn't going to let his disappointment spoil Willow's happiness. "What a lovely present, thank you, Willow."
Dawn giggled. "I might be Willow's present for you, but my present for you is in the bedroom."
Giles gave her a puzzled look. She gave him a shove. "Go on, go open it."
Giles crossed the room and opened the bedroom door. A large box, approximately four-foot square, sat next to the bed. What had the child bought for him? He glanced back at Dawn just in time to see the front door closing. He looked back at the box. An idea was forming in his mind, but he couldn't believe that it was really possible.
Two steps brought him next to the box and with a trembling hand he untied the large red bow. He lifted the top.
Buffy stood, wearing nothing but a strategically draped three-inch wide red ribbon. Giles looked at her, his heart pounding. Buffy swallowed against the tightness in her throat and said, "Aren't you going to finish unwrapping your present?"
Giles moved around the box and saw that the ribbon encircled her waist, with a big bow on her right hip. He tugged at the loose end and the ribbon slowly slid off her body. Buffy stepped out of the box, slid her arms around his neck, and pulled Giles down for a kiss. Just before their lips met, she whispered, "Happy birthday, Giles."
Willow and Dawn joined the men in the main house, ready to take the limo to the evening's festivities. Terry looked around. "James, isn't your cousin ready yet? We can't wait for long, I need to be there for the premier."
James glanced at Dawn and flushed. "I, um, well he."
Willow and Dawn laughed. "Giles is having a private party tonight, so he won't be going with us. Oh, and Dawn and I moved to the cottage across the courtyard. We didn't think we'd get much sleep if we stayed in the one next to Giles."
In the silence following that statement, through the window came the very faint sound of a female voice calling, "Giles." Dawn shook her head. "I don't think that's going to be far enough." The girls giggled, the men laughed, and they went out to the limo for a night on the town. Back in the cottage, Giles had a very happy birthday indeed.