Flaming Valentine's Day
By Nikki Dutton

TITLE: Flaming Valentine's Day
AUTHOR: Nikki Dutton
SUMMARY: Answer to Gabi's B/G challenge Fire
RATING: PG-14
DISCLAIMER: All characters belong to Joss Whedon
DISTRIBUTION: Anywhere
FEEDBACK: nikki@dutton19.freeserve.co.uk


Spring and a young mans fancy turns to affairs of the heart, well not quite spring and perhaps not quite so young but near enough for the Hellmouth.

The card shop's had been full to bursting point for days now, with red and pink hearts, streamers and balloons. Plump cupids fired heart shaped price tags at you left right and centre.

"Bloody commercialism" Giles muttered as another giggling band of girls rolled past him on the way to meet their Beau's.

He used to like Valentine's Day. In his youth Ethan used to take him 'on the pull' every Valentine's Day. They ended up 'smashed' in Brighton one year with an alarming number of 'young blades' vying for his affections. Giles shuddered at the memory, or was that a shiver of excitement? It had been so long since 'Percy' had had an adventure.

He stopped at a shop window, that was an interesting engraving.

"Window shopping, Giles?" He checked in the glass to identify the stranger and realised he's stopped in front of a shop selling erotic art!

"Ah. Uhm. Yes. Sort of.. Trying to get away from Valentine's, the dreaded 14th." He turned round and smiled at his Slayer and was struck not for the first time, how wonderfully the sunlight highlighted her hair.

"You don't like Valentine's day then?" Buffy fell into step beside him exactly matching his pace.

"I used to when I was younger, when women flung themselves at me." He paused and smiled indicating that he was joking. He just did that to see her smile. Self-serving really it gave him a thrill to have her smile at him that way. Perhaps?

"What, they don't do that now? I don't believe you Giles, you're hardly Quasimodo!"

He blushed at the sudden vision that popped into his head. Buffy as Esmerelda. Esmerelda, yes in that gypsy costume.

"Giles? Giles! There's a curb here, Giles." Buffy stopped him from stepping into the path of oncoming vehicles.

"Hmmm? Oh, yes, well ladies are just tripping over their Zimmer frames to get at me now." He quipped sarcastically with just a hint of a sigh.

Buffy rolled her eyes in exasperation.

"Giles, you are in your prime! When are you going to limb out of the grave and live?" Buffy stopped her mind frozen. When did Jenny die? She looked round at the shop's stuffed with red roses. Shit! She cursed herself.

"Buffy.." He had to rescue her from her embarrassment. "It's just me. I like all the love and sentiment. I just hate anybody that makes money out of it." She had relaxed her shoulders were down but so was her mood.

Up's and down's, ecstasy and agony such was the destiny of a Watcher and his Slayer.

****

Giles stepped back and gazed at his first attempt. His paint brush was clenched in his teeth. He stepped forward and whipped his brush from his mouth and stroked it gently across the canvas. There not bad, considering he'd not picked up a paint brush if fifteen years.

He had made a deal with the manager of the erotic art shop; he would paint some portraits of Greek goddesses in return for some artists' materials. He chose Pandora for his first painting. The figure was very familiar to him, he had disguised the face slightly but the eyes were Buffy's.

He lay his brush down and took a mouthful of cold tea. He winced he hadn't noticed the time at all. He whipped a sheet over the canvas and went downstairs to his real artistic task of the week. It was a Valentine card for Buffy. The paper was a set in its mould he tapped it out carefully and mixed his water colours.

He leaned back and sucked the end of his brush, what would she like? He smiled. A flaming Heart, a heart on fire. "My heart" he thought wistfully. He worked through the night making it perfect. He carefully folded the paper that would form the envelope and marked it with an elaborate 'B'. He signed inside the card with a 'kiss' mark.

He glanced at his watch it was 3am. Buffy would be asleep now. He grabbed his jacket and set off for Buffy's house. He carried his precious post in his pocket.

***

He clambered through her window and placed the envelope in her school bag. He froze as he ducked out of her window.

"Giles," she murmured dreamily. He glanced at her sleeping form and smiled. She dreamed about him! He climbed down the trellis, grinning like a 'Cheshire cat'.

He would have to act extra grouchy today, but he didn't feel like it. His mind was a tinderbox of possibilities. If only he could throw Buffy off the scent.

****

"Willow, you're looking extra chipper this morning," Xander smiled at her. "Did you get a toy in your cereal?"

Willow was smiling and bouncing and clutching a card to her bosom. Xander looked as though he wished he could be that card.

"I got a Valentine!" she squealed delightedly.

Buffy joined them and was immediately informed of Willow's mystery beau.

"Did you get any Valentines, Buffy?" Willow looked at her friend, hopefully.

"Well, yes and no. I got one but I don't know who from."

"Ooh, those are the best kind, secretive, admiring from afar." Willow smiled.

"Like a stalker." Xander chipped in. Buffy rounded on him.

"You didn't get one, did you?" Xander was silenced.

****

They opened the library door to witness Giles yawning and stretching. Buffy was instantly stressed. He hadn't slept; he was going to be cranky all day. She gazed at him stretching in front of them. He had very long arms. The cuffs of his shirt were turned back, showing just a hint of muscular forearm. His shoulders were broad. 'I bet they're muscular too.' she thought. The door banging behind her brought her to her senses and her Watcher turned. He looked tired.

"Morning, everyone." He sounded tired. The gang echoed his melancholy.

"You haven't slept, Giles. Is everything all right?" Willow asked.

"Yes, fine." He heaved a sigh and rubbed his eyes. They were grainy this morning. Too much close work.

"Well, collect your books. We'll talk this evening. Nothing's happened. Nothing to worry about. Shoo!"

He gestured them out then listened behind the door.

"I don't like it when he gets like this." Willow's voice.

"Neither do I." Buffy.

"Flaming Valentine's day!" Xander. Giles chuckled. She hadn't a clue! Then he was serious. He wanted her to find out, didn't he. Yes, he did, desperately.

****

He saw her at lunch and mentioned, innocently "Any cards today, Buffy?" She nodded and carefully extracted his card from her bag. Willow gasped.

"Wow, that's classy. Looks hand-made. Who's it from? Oh, you told me, a secret admirer." Giles allowed himself a small smile that turned into a frown when Xander corrected Willow.

"Stalker!"

****

Lunch was interminably long. The afternoon dragged. The time lingered on the clock's face. Wasn't she ever going to come?

Buffy opened the door. She still clutched the card. Giles lit the candles on the small table in the centre of the library. He had left a note in her locker, signed 'Your secret admirer'. She knew who it was when the note said to meet in the library. She rushed home to change at the end of school, her heart beating madly in her chest.

"Giles! It's you!" she cried, smiling and crying at the same time, "Thank you for my Valentine. I'll treasure it." She ran to him and kissed him. He turned the kiss around to speak volumes of his love for her.

"You are my treasure, Buffy. You light my fire," he murmured.

"Let's burn." She sighed and kissed him passionately.

END