Christmas Resolutions
By Gileswench

Title: Christmas Resolutions
Author: Gileswench
Date: 12/9/01
Spoilers: Through Wrecked
Summary: Resolved: a Slayer needs her Watcher...if she can just figure out exactly how...
Rating: PG-13
Pairing: Buffy/Giles
Category: Romance
Distribution: If you've had my permission in the past, you have it now. All others, ask and ye shall receive.
Feedback: Constructive criticism always welcome. Praise abjectly sought.
Disclaimer: It all belongs to Joss, Mutant Enemy, etc., etc., etc. I just let them have all the fun Joss won't. I own nothing except my twisted mind which you really don't want. Please don't sue.
Notes: This one comes to you courtesy of Cindy B's challenge on the BGL for a Christmas story. The requirements were: Buffy and Dawn paying Giles a surprise visit for the holidays, snow, B/G smoochies, and a minimum of angst. A little forced its way in, but it's only for a moment.
Dedication: To Cindy B. for setting the challenge, to Gail for encouraging me to write something happy, and to Rari for being brutal with her comments during the writing process. Thank you all.

Giles sat reading, his cup of tea suspended on its journey to his mouth when he was immobilized by the passage he'd found.

"Good lord," he breathed. "The butler didn't do it!"

He was stirred from his reverie by a knock on his door. That was a surprise. He hadn't been expecting anyone until the next day. When he heard a second knock, he stood and hurried to the door. He flung it open, only to find himself engulfed in four arms...two of which were surprisingly strong.

"Buffy? Dawn? I don't believe it! How did you come to be here?"

Buffy grinned at her sister, and then her Watcher.

"Told you he'd like our present."

"Yeah, well, he didn't say 'dear lord' or clean his glasses yet. You said that's the first thing he'd do."

"And it is the first thing I'd have done, given the opportunity," he assured them. "I could do it now, if it makes you feel more at home."

"Nah," Dawn told him. "It should happen spontaneously."

"And it will, a whole lot," Buffy added with a grin.

Giles ushered the girls in and shut the door against the chill, English winter.

"You still haven't answered my question," Giles pointed out. "I'm very happy to see you, naturally, but I'm not entirely certain what you're doing here."

"Well, Dad came to his senses and figured out he has two daughters who might actually like something special for Christmas, and he called and asked what that might be - though it couldn't be time with him, because he was busy taking his new girlfriend to the Bahamas for the holidays. Anyway, Dawn really wanted to have a white Christmas, and that doesn't happen much in Sunnydale, so I thought, two birds, one stone, we could come see you and your English snow. And here we are. Surprise?"

"Surprise, indeed. Why didn't you call and let me know you were coming?"

"'Cause we thought this could be sort of a Christmas present for you, too...but we did bring real stuff, too, from us and the whole gang. I just thought...y'know, isn't it bad luck to unwrap your gift early?" Buffy bit her lip nervously, wondering if she'd done the right thing after all.

Giles looked from one to the other, smiled, and opened his arms to them. Both girls lunged into the hug, relief and joy filling their hearts.

"Now I'd best call my sister and let her know we shall be two more on Christmas day."

Buffy and Dawn stared at one another, dumbstruck, across Giles' torso.

"Sister?" Buffy squeaked.

"You have a sister?" Dawn echoed.

"Yes, I have."

"Since when?" Buffy demanded.

"Ever since I was three years old. I'm spending Christmas with her and her family. Now that you two have shown up, I suppose you'll just have to tag along and see what an English Christmas is like."

"'ll be okay with her, right?"

"I'm sure Lucy will be thrilled to meet you both," he reassured Buffy. "Now let's get you two settled."


A pot of tea later, Giles had been caught up on a slightly edited version of the news from Sunnydale, and Dawn, despite her protestations that she wasn't tired, was very nearly asleep. Buffy and Giles shared a bemused smile over the girl's head.

"Dawn?" Giles gently roused the girl, "I know you aren't tired, but it's late, and I'd rather like to go to bed. Would you mind if I showed you your room now?"

"Okay, I guess. If you're tired," the teenager agreed as she rubbed her eyes and stifled a yawn. "I could go for hours."

Buffy helped her nearly comatose sister to her feet. Giles stood and led the girls to the guestroom. He wished them both a goodnight and returned to the lounge to put out the lights.

He couldn't believe that Buffy was there...and Dawn. What's more, this looked much more like the Buffy he'd known and loved for so long rather than the lost, wretched soul he'd left mere weeks ago in Sunnydale. He prayed that the transformation was as real as it appeared.

At last, he headed down the hall to his bedroom, changed for bed and lay down. His last conscious thought as he drifted off to sleep was a fervent thanks to whatever powers might run the universe that Buffy was with him, safe and apparently whole.


A soft noise awakened Giles sometime later. He slowly came to the realization that it was a knock on his door. He switched on the beside light, and put on his glasses as the door opened.

"Buffy? What are you doing up?"

The girl shrugged.

"Couldn't sleep. Is it all right if I..."

"If you what?"

"Make sure this is real?"

Giles smiled and sat up in bed.

"Come here."

Buffy walked shyly to the bed and sat gingerly on it. When Giles reached out a hand to her, she closed her fingers around his and gave a happy sigh.

"It is real. I was afraid I was only dreaming it again."

"If you are, then so am I. And in that case, I think I'd much rather stay asleep than wake up."

"Okay, the Giles I know would never say something that mushy."

"Sorry. I'm not really completely awake. My defenses aren't built up yet."

"Leave 'em down for a while, would you?"

"If you'll promise to do the same."

"Deal. I missed you."

"And I you. I'm sorry."

"I know. So am I. I was a real jerk about it."

"You were hurt."

"Yeah, but it still doesn't make it right. I get it now, for what it's worth. I sorta had one of those...Epilady things."

"Epilady...? I'm afraid I don't understand."

"Y'know. One of those moments when everything just falls into place and makes sense."

"Ah, an epiphany."

"Yeah. One of those."

"And what brought this on?"

Buffy shifted uncomfortably and rubbed her arms.

"Buffy, are you cold?"

"A bit."

"You do realize it's your own fault for wearing something that flimsy. Did nobody ever tell you England in December is cold?"

"I knew that. It snows and stuff. I just thought that at night, indoors, heated rooms..."

"Central heating here isn't what it is in America. Come on. We can't have you catching your death your first night."

Giles lifted the covers and indicated to Buffy that she should get under them.

"But...Giles...I...we...this is too weird."

"No defenses, remember? You're shivering. Now get in here and get warm. You're perfectly safe."

Buffy hesitated a moment, but her cotton pants and spaghetti strapped singlet left her with no real protection from the night chill. She clambered under the covers. She was amazed at how much warmer she felt immediately. Between flannel sheets, warm blankets, and the heat radiating from Giles' body, she felt better in no time.


"Yeah, thanks. Anyone ever tell you you're one hot guy?"

"Not enough, lately," Giles grinned. "Hot, eh?"

Buffy rolled her eyes and giggled.

"Hot as in body heat, not as in...there really is no way out of that one, is there?"

"Not a graceful one, at any rate."

"And you're loving every minute of it, too."

"Give me one good reason why I shouldn't. Here I am with an extremely attractive woman in my bed - albeit in a platonic way - and she's telling me I'm hot, and that she's not angry with me anymore. I fail to see a downside."

When Buffy didn't answer, Giles turned a worried face to her.

"Buffy? Are you all right? Would you like to tell me about this epiphany of yours now?"

"Could you do me a favor first? Take off your glasses and turn out the light."

"If you like. May I ask why?"

"Because I don't want to see how you look at me when I tell you this. I'm not sure I could stand it."

Without further comment, Giles did as Buffy requested. When the room was dark, he took her hand under the covers and spoke softly.

"Whatever you have to tell me, I will still feel the same way about you, Buffy. Whatever happened, we can face it together, you and I."

He was startled when she pressed against him and began to cry.

"Buffy? What's wrong?"

He held her as close as he could and gently stroked her hair as he crooned soothing words to her. The feeling was unbearably intimate to him. He knew this was not the time to burden her with his heart, so he cared for hers until she calmed herself. When she got to the point of shaky breaths and odd gulping noises, he reached over to his nightstand drawer and pulled out a handkerchief. With great solemnity, he offered it to his soggy Slayer.

"Are you ready to tell me?"

Buffy blew out another shaky breath, and then answered as quickly as she could.

"I - I had sex with Spike."

The gentle hand in her hair stopped for a split second before continuing it's soothing touch. That was the only indication Buffy had that Giles had heard her.

"It was awful," she continued as if she couldn't help herself. "It was violent, and painful, and wrong in more ways than I can say, but it was the first time since I got back that I really felt something - anything. So there was a part of me that wanted it again, no matter how bad it was. Anyway, the next night, I sat there in my room with garlic hung from every window and a cross in my hands, and then it suddenly hit me; the epiphany thing. I finally realized that if I could feel pain, and humiliation, and disgust and all that, maybe I could feel something else, too, if I tried. Maybe I could even feel something nice. So I went downstairs and I turned on an old movie Mom and I used to watch together when we felt bad. And after a while, I actually smiled a little at one of the jokes. I felt like...I'd been a fist all this time, and I'd been all clenched until nothing could get in, and now I'm opening up. It's not easy. It's not always pretty, either, but I'm getting there. And I don't feel like a fist, anymore. I'm Buffy now."

"You were always Buffy. You just needed to see that on your own."

"Yeah, I think I get that, now. So the real reason I chose here instead of Aspen or Tahoe or something is that I made a sort of Christmas resolution."

"Aren't resolutions for New Year's?"

"Yeah, but those always get broken. I don't want to break this, Giles."

"So what is your resolution?"

"I had to let you know I was better, and that I understand things now. I think I understand the whole reason you left, now."

"I told you..."

"That I had to learn to stand on my own two feet, yeah. And - as much as I hate to say this - you were right. But you said something else, too, and I didn't get it at the time."

"S - something else? I don't recall..."

"You said you couldn't stand to see me suffer, and that's why you'd step in if I didn't take care of myself."

"And that's true."

"But it's not the whole story, is it? For weeks you'd been Mr. touchy-feely, and you were flirting once in a while, and spending every nanosecond I'd let you with me. Just this once, you lost the whole subtle thing you're usually so good at. You're in love with me, aren't you?"

"Buffy...I...I don't know what to say..."

"Well, I'll settle for yes or no, and I'm sorta hoping yes because no would be incredibly embarrassing at this point, but please be honest with me, okay?"

"In that case, yes. I do love you. I never meant to tell you. I know you don't feel the same. I ask nothing of you."

"But you do. Ask stuff of me. You ask more than anyone in my life has. Every guy has asked stuff of me. Dad asked me to be a perfect kid who doesn't burn down gyms, Angel asked me to save his soul for him over and over. Parker? He just wanted another notch on his headboard. Riley asked me to be Superwoman...except that I should voluntarily give up my superpowers to be a farm wife in Iowa. And Spike, well, I'm not sure if even he knows whether he wants a dominitrix or a punching bag more, but he nearly made me be both. I could accept all that. I could try to be all those things. ask me to be Buffy. Strong Buffy and weak Buffy, and silly Buffy, and responsible Buffy and kick ass Buffy, and all the Buffies I can be. Is it any wonder that scares me?"

"I'd no idea there was such a crowd in there," Giles teased in hopes of lightening the mood.

"There's all of those Buffies and a bunch more, too. And there's just one thing they all have in common: they want you back."

"How do they want me back?"

"We're not all sure yet. That's sort of my other Christmas resolution: to figure that part out."

"I see," Giles replied.

"Hey, no fair being all disappointed and sad. You think you have trouble against my pout? I have a worse time with yours, since you use it so much less."

"How can you even tell if I'm - I do not pout!"

"Do so. And hello? Slayer nightvision."

"Of course. How silly of me to have forgotten."

"See? That's why you need to come home. Giles?"

"Yes, Buffy?"

"I'm all worn out from my big sharefest, and besides, I'm too toasty to move. Is it okay if I stay here the rest of the night?"

"I've been told I snore occasionally, and I have a tendency to hog the blankets."

"That's okay. I kick people in my sleep. Oh, and sometimes I talk, too."

"Pleasant dreams, Buffy."

"'Night, Giles."


The next morning, Giles took Buffy and Dawn on a tour of Bath. He took them to sites connected with Jane Austen for Dawn's benefit, and some of the trendier shops for Buffy's. At last, he took them back to his flat to prepare for the arrival of his sister.

"Did you both have a good time?" he asked as they shared a pot of tea.

"Not bad," Buffy replied. "I got nice stuff for Will and Anya and Tara. Plus, a couple pretties for myself."

"I'm still trying to get the taste of that water out of my mouth."

"That's what you get for drinking something called 'bathwater'."

Giles grinned. He'd missed the banter he'd grown so used to with the Scoobies. Not to mention the happy glow that suffused Buffy. She looked honestly at peace for the first time since her return from Heaven. That she was with him and ready to explore her feelings regarding him was more than he could have asked for. Even if she ultimately decided not to try romance, she was open to the idea.

And she'd been so lovely to wake up to.

Her sleepy smile and tousled hair made a picture he fully intended to warm himself with for the rest of his life even if he never got to see the reality again.

"Ground control to Major Tom?"

"Hmmm? What is it, Buffy?"

"I was just asking you if your sister really has room for us, or if Dawn and I should find a hotel."

"I shouldn't worry about it, Buffy. She and Simon have a fairly large house."


"Her husband."

"So, plenty of room at the inn is what you're saying?"


"How many people are going to be there? Does your sister have any kids?"

"It's just a family gathering, Dawn. And yes, Lucy and Simon have three children, though I suppose I oughtn't to call them children anymore. The youngest is seventeen, and quite the devil with the girls, I hear."

"Takes after his Uncle Ripper, does he?" Buffy joked nervously.

"Entirely too much," Giles grinned back. "I seriously doubt the Council will know what to make of him, anymore than you and I."

"He's going to be a Watcher? Does he want to?"

"You know it's not a question of wanting, Buffy. It's destiny."

Buffy stood and looked about herself nervously.

"Are you sure this is okay, Giles? Us crashing your family Christmas like this? I mean, we could go somewhere else if you want. We don't want to be in the way."

"And leave behind the best Christmas gift I've ever been given? You two are coming with me, and that's an end to it. Besides, I do believe that's the car I hear. Too late to back out now."


Lucy Williamson, Giles' sister, turned out to be a tall woman with the same green eyes, high cheekbones, and strong chin as her brother. Her clothes, and the large car she drove, spoke of someone who had a great deal of money, but didn't feel the need to mention it to anyone. It was simply background. To have made a show of it would have been tacky.

Buffy, who had been fearing meeting Giles' family found herself much more at ease than she'd thought possible. Lucy was a lot like Giles in some ways. What's more, she'd seemed quite pleased to meet her unexpected visitors. It was clear that Giles had told Lucy far more about Buffy than vice versa.

Along the drive, Lucy told stories about Giles' childhood and early adult years that made Buffy and Dawn giggle, and Giles squirm. It reminded Buffy of the way Giles loved to tease Xander.

Suddenly, Dawn turned her attention away from their hostess and out the window.

"Hey guys! It's snowing!"

"Then it's a good thing we're nearly there," Lucy said with a smile. "It won't be a fit night out for man nor beast."

"Which seems somehow appropriate for Christmas Eve," Giles added as he peered out the window over Buffy's head.

"You're sure there's room for us?" Buffy fussed again.

"Plenty," Lucy assured her. "Rupert, are you quite certain you can't get Buffy to understand she's wanted?"

"Buffy understands things very much in her own time and on her own terms."

Something in Giles' tone made Buffy feel sure he was talking about more than her nervousness about spending Christmas with his family. She looked up to find him looking at her. Both blushed and ducked their heads at the same time.

As the car rounded a corner, Lucy announced that they'd arrived at their destination. Buffy and Dawn both gaped.

"Okay. I get it. There's room," Buffy said. "Are you sure we won't get lost?"

"I shall provide you with maps and breadcrumbs to trail along the corridors," Lucy joked. "And if you haven't found your way by New Years, we shall send Saint Bernards to fetch you."

Still, Buffy was glad that Giles put a hand to the small of her back as they approached the house. It was warm and comforting and...Gilesy. Demons and vampires didn't intimidate Buffy, but a house that looked as though it could be a set for a Merchant Ivory film left her weak in the knees. She took this little piece of the ordinary and grabbed onto it with everything she had.

They reached the doorway, still together. As they stepped onto the threshold, Lucy stopped the pair. She pointed up to the top of the doorframe and watched expectantly as Buffy and Giles both stared in confused distress at the bunch of mistletoe that hung above their heads.

Giles smiled down apologetically at Buffy as she blushed a deep shade of red. At last, he bent slightly and brushed his lips softly against her cheek. Lucy and Dawn shot one another disgusted looks at the performance.

"You call that a kiss? Rupert, you've kissed Aunt Mathilda with more enthusiasm than that. I absolutely forbid either of you to enter this house until you do better than that."

Giles' lips quirked in a tight smile as he turned to Buffy again.

"I'm afraid she means it, Buffy."

"She'd really make us stay out here?"

"And I forgot my pup tent."

"Oh. Okay, then. We can do this."

"Just relax and think of England," he whispered in her ear. Before she could stop giggling, Giles pressed his lips to hers warmly.

The kiss was entirely chaste, but Buffy found herself forgetting to breathe. Somehow in the back of her mind, she'd never really believed that Giles knew how to kiss. Even though she'd seen him kissing Ms. Calendar, and she seemed to think he knew what he was doing, Buffy had assumed that part of the response was simply that she wanted to make her boyfriend happy. It had never really occurred to her that Giles might actually be good. After an endless moment, Giles pulled back. Buffy stood and goggled.

"Buffy? Are you all right?"

"Hmm? Oh. Yeah. Sure, Giles. Fine. Can we go in now?"

Lucy waved the pair in with a flourish. As Buffy passed through the doorway, Dawn giggled at her.

"You should have seen your face. It was a total Kodak moment."

"If you had a camera, it would be broken now."


By the time Lucy led Buffy to her bedroom, the Slayer was ready for some alone time. Simon, Lucy's husband, had turned out to be a large, quiet man nearing sixty with a sly sense of humor and a fondness for roses. Their older daughter, Clara, was twenty three, married and expecting her first child in the spring. Her husband, Marcus, spent all his time caring for her ills, real and imagined, as only a very nervous first time father-to-be can. Jane, the younger daughter, was on leave from graduate work at Oxford in History. Giles was obviously proud of her accomplishments, and Buffy was a bit alarmed at the amount of knowledge she seemed to keep at the tips of her fingers.

As for the youngest, Trevor, Buffy had had to inflict her most impressive rendition of Giles' Ripper glare at him twice already for flirting with Dawn. He was also the one who looked the most like a Giles, with his green eyes and devilish grin. And Giles assured Buffy that the mop of curls on the boys' head would be brown if and when he washed out all the blue dye. Despite the boy's rakish appearance, it was clear that the family intellect had come down to him, as well. He was witty, and could be quite as charming as he wanted.

Everyone had been friendly and pleasant, but Buffy still felt a little overwhelmed. It was still difficult for her to cope with groups of strangers for long. And a group where she was at the disadvantage of knowing nothing about any of them while they knew quite a bit about her was making things harder.

"Here we are," Lucy told her as she opened the door of a spacious and lovely room. "You just settle in here. Breakfast will be at eight, and we'll open packages after that."

"Right. Packages. I'm so sorry I didn't bring anything for you. I didn't know. Giles never said anything about his family, so I just sort of assumed he'd be alone this year if Dawn and I didn't come here...and now I'm babbling. Sorry."

"Nonsense, my dear. There's nothing to be sorry for. And as for presents, that's perfectly fine. Having you here is present enough for us."

"Great. Extra mouths to feed. Just what everybody wants for Christmas."

Lucy took Buffy hands.

"The thing I wanted most this Christmas was to see my brother smile. He was so sad when he came back. So lost and hurt and I knew there wasn't a thing I could do about it."

"Why not?"

"Because he'd left his heart behind him. Do you have any idea what that's like, Buffy?"

"Oddly enough, I sorta do. But he's better now, right?"

"He was getting better rather slowly, yes. And then he rang me yesterday."


"You were there."

"What? So, I show up and poof, he's all better?"

"Well, that would be a simplistic, but not entirely inaccurate way of describing matters."


Buffy sat heavily on the bed.

"Wow, indeed. So you see, Buffy, you've given me the gift I wanted most. Anything else would be an embarrassment of riches."

Lucy headed for the door, but stopped before she left.

"Oh, and Rupert already added your name and Dawn's to all the packages he brought for us. I do think that counts."

"I still feel weird about this."

"Don't. You're here, you're welcome to stay, and, in case you're interested, that door over there connects with Rupert's room."

Before Buffy's jaw had even finished hitting the floor, Lucy was gone.


Two hours later, Buffy lay wide awake thinking about what was on the other side of that door.


Her mind kept chasing it's own tail around her head as she tried to figure out exactly how she felt about him.

He was Giles, who was safe and tweedy and comforting and not at all what a romantic girl's dream should be.

He was Giles, who had a dark, dangerous side that attracted her more than she wanted to admit.

He was Giles, who smelled of tea and leather and soap and ink.

He was Giles, who occasionally smelled of whiskey or vampire dust, but never at the same time.

He was Giles, who taught and trained her.

He was Giles, who had finally abandoned her.

He was Giles, who apparently bragged about her to his family.

He was Giles, who had never mentioned his family to her at all, except for a long-dead father and grandmother.

He was Giles, who couldn't smile when she was gone from him.

He was Giles, who still walked away to make her strong.

Buffy threw off the covers and strode to the door that connected their rooms. She hesitated one last time with her hand on the knob.

He was Giles, who was older than her own father, and about to become a great-uncle, already.

He was Giles, who wanted Buffy. Not the Slayer, not salvation, not a notch on his headboard, but Buffy.

And Buffy decided she wanted Giles. All the Giles' there could be.

She opened the door.


Giles sat in bed reading, as was his habit before going to sleep. In honor of the season, he was reading A Christmas Carol. Not that Dickens was his usual first choice of reading matter. When it came to classic novels, Giles preferred the subtlety of Trollope or the savage wit of Thackery. But Simon loved Dickens and had a library full of his works, so Giles had picked the shortest one.

Now he had been made aware, yet again, that Marley was quite dead and that Tiny Tim was arguably the most annoying child in all of literature, when a slight noise startled him.

"If that's the ghost of Christmas Past, could we just give it a miss, this year?"

"Well, I've been dead twice, but I don't think I've ever been a ghost."


"Got it in one."

"What brings you here? Come sit down."

She went to the bed and sat next to him. He laid the book carefully on the nightstand.

"To what do I owe the honor of a second nocturnal visit?"

"Well, Lucy did sort of point out who was on the other side of that door, so I thought she might want me to drop in and say hi. Y'know, talk about the weather or maybe what journals we ordered from the monster of the month club."

"And you're so given to taking orders that you decided to do as she said?"

"You can't even keep a straight face when you say that, can you?"

"So why are you here?"

"I thought I'd like some company. Y'know, I can never sleep alone in a new place that first night. What about you?"

Giles raised an eyebrow and pursed his lips. At last he lifted the covers.

"All right, then. Get in."

"Thanks, Giles."

"You're welcome."

"Take off your glasses."

"What have you got against me seeing?"

"Take. Them. Off."

Giles sighed and complied.

"Is that better?"

"Much. Giles?"

"Yes, Buffy?"

"Earlier, when we...uh...with the mistletoe and all..."

"When I kissed you?"

"Yeah. That. Do you need mistletoe to do that again?"

Giles looked at her with curiosity more than hope.

"That rather depends on what you want, Buffy."

"You. I want you. All the yous there are."

Giles retrieved his glasses and put them on again.

"What did you do that for?"

"I need to see you clearly for this. Now tell me, what brought on this sudden resolve?"

"Giles, I came all the way from California to see you because my sister wanted to see some snow. I didn't warn you so you couldn't go away or say you didn't want to see me. I slept with you last night...though, not in a sex way, but you know what I mean. Why do you think I did all that?"

"Because you're quite mad?"

"No, you big dummy! Because I love you. Okay, so my head didn't figure it out until just now, but I think my heart knew all along. Or at least for a long time. And I already figured out you love me, so what are we waiting for? Slayer here. Maybe not with the final expiration date of a Cheeto."

"You'll have that long expiration date if I have anything at all to say about it."

Buffy felt the pinprick of tears in her eyes as Giles leaned down to kiss her gently. He gathered her into his arms and held her close as she cried on his shirtfront.

"I do hope you don't plan on crying every time I take you to bed," he teased.

"Stop laughing at me," Buffy huffed through her tears as she swatted him lightly. "This is me being happy."

"If this is you being happy, how on earth am I meant to tell it from you being miserable?"

"Miserable takes more ice cream to fix."

"What stops you crying now?"

"Well, it's kinda hard to cry if you're kissing me."

Giles smiled as he put his glasses back on the nightstand and turned back to Buffy. He ran his fingers over her cheeks softly, wiping away the stray tears. She leaned into his caress and closed her eyes in anticipation. At last, he bent his face to hers and brushed his lips over her eyelids, her cheeks, her chin, and her forehead.

"Come on, Giles," Buffy complained half-heartedly, "I'm not your Aunt Mathilda."

His lips pressed against hers tenderly. The kiss was slow and sweet. It was followed by another, just as sweet, but more passionate. With the third, he parted his lips slightly, and the fourth introduced the tip of his tongue to the proceedings.

Instead of a fifth kiss, Giles rolled to his back and pulled Buffy to his side, nestling her head against his shoulder.

"Why did you stop?"

"Because this is going too fast. I felt a need to slow things down."

"Why? We're both grown ups. We've both had sex before."

"But that's just it, you see. I don't want to have sex with you."

"Huh? Y - you don't?"

"No. I want to make love with you."

"Okay...I thought that was pretty much what having sex was."

"Oh, but there's a big difference. See...having sex is just dealing with one's animal instincts. Getting off. Making love, that's sharing yourself through the physical. Opening up to your partner. And that, my love, takes time."

"So you're not unwrapping your Christmas present tonight?"

"Didn't you say that's bad luck?"

"Just so I know, you do plan to unwrap me before next Christmas, right?"

Giles chuckled and kissed her hair.

"I've no doubt that we shall unwrap one another well before then."

"And I can stay here tonight, right?"

"I'd be delighted if you did."

"Is it okay if I squeeze the package to try to figure out what's under the paper? You could do it back?"

Giles laughed out loud and pulled Buffy atop him. He kissed her soundly.

"I do adore you, Buffy," he told her.

"I'm sorta crazy about you, too, Giles."

This time, Buffy initiated the kiss. Giles groaned when her tongue slipped between his lips. He welcomed her explorations, and indulged in some of his own. By the time they broke apart, both were panting and flushed.

Buffy snuggled down against Giles' side and rubbed his chest through his tee shirt.

"I have another Christmas resolution," she announced.

"What might that be?"

"That I spend every Christmas for the rest of my life with you. Wherever you go, whatever you're up to, I plan to be right there, too."

"I like that resolution. But how can we be sure it won't be broken?"

Buffy kissed his cheek softly and smiled at him.

"Silly. It's a Christmas resolution. They can't be broken."

"I think I shall also make a Christmas resolution, in that case."

"What is it?"

"To spend every Christmas with you, and with our family, at home."

"Our family? Home?"

"Dawn, Willow, Xander, Anya, Tara, and whoever may be added over time."

"And where exactly is home?"

"Where you are. Sunnydale."

Buffy's eyes filled with tears yet again.

This time, Giles knew just what to do to stop them.

And he did.