Picnic at Breaker's Woods
By Christine Parfitt
TITLE: Picnic at Breaker's Woods
AUTHOR: Christine Parfitt
SPOILERS: Up to and including Triangle.
SUMMARY: The extended Scooby gang have a picnic at Breaker's woods to celebrate Buffy's 20th birthday. Wackiness ensues.
RATING: PG-13 for language and implied sexual situations.
DISTRIBUTION: If anyone wants it, just ask.
FEEDBACK: Yes please. This is my first ever attempt at fanfiction, so be gentle with me.
DISCLAIMER: The Buffyverse belongs to Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy and WB. However, any spelling and punctuation mistakes are all mine.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This fic is in response to a birthday challenge from Chris & Lisa Stone. It is Buffy's birthday, everyone is strapped for cash after Christmas, so the Scooby's decide to go on a picnic.
The story must include: Buffy receiving a present from Ethan Rayne, Giles in bare feet, Xander falling into water, Willow and Tara performing a spell for Buffy as their present, a card from Angel, Wesley and Cordelia, and the phrase "The only place you'll find success before work, is in a dictionary" spoken by somebody other than Giles. The story should also include any 2 of the following: A yellow scarf, the DVD of the 25th Anniversary of Rocky Horror Picture Show, a Harry Potter book, a camera, cheddar cheese sandwiches, * a mobile phone going off, a poster of Pierce Brosnan, a Mrs Gordo stuffed pig. *
Buffy surveyed the devastation before her, all her Slayer senses at the ready. With a cry of triumph she lunged across the picnic blanket snatching up the last cheddar cheese sandwich hidden amongst the debris from lunch. Xander narrowly avoided being knocked into the picnic basket and petulantly grumbled "What's up with you and your strange cheese obsession, Buff ?"
Buffy grinned around her mouthful and mumbled "I eat the cheese. It does not eat me," earning her smiles from Xander, Willow and Giles and befuddled expressions from Anya and Tara. Buffy tried to explain the cheese man from the dreams that the First Slayer had inspired then just shrugged and said, "I guess you just had to be there."
The extended Scooby gang had decided to celebrate Buffy's 20th birthday at a clearing by a shallow creek in Breaker's Woods. The unseasonably warm weather, lively banter and good food had lightened the impending sense of doom Buffy usually experienced on and around her birthday. Much to her confusion she'd found a battered box of chocolates smelling strongly of cigarette smoke on her doorstep that morning, but mangled candy was a vast improvement compared to the severed arm in a box she had opened on her 17th birthday.
After rustling through the picnic basket for any overlooked scraps of food, Xander casually mentioned "Well, if we're done with the eating, I guess we better give the birthday gal her presents." He produced a brightly wrapped present from behind his back stating, "It's from me and Anya."
Anya was quick to clarify "The overly sentimental gift was all Xander's idea, but I contributed half from my measly wages from my greatly undervalued services at the Magic Box" she said, glaring pointedly at Giles, who sighed and studiously avoided Anya's gaze.
Buffy used her supernatural strength to rip the paper from the present faster than humanly possible to reveal a female counterpart to her stuffed pig Mr Gordo. "I haven't seen a Mrs. Gordo stuffed pig, since I was a kid" she excitedly exclaimed. "Where on Earth did you find it?"
"All hail the net girl aka Will, who set me on the right track at sites for toy warehouses across the great state of California." Xander mock bowed to Willow before Anya hurriedly interjected "Yes, Yes, but I paid HALF the purchase price, in cash" Buffy gave Xander a hug under Anya's watchful gaze and graciously thanked Anya for her expenditure.
"Now I'm not going to be the only woman in Mr Gordo's life" said Buffy cradling the stuffed pig.
Willow beamed "Aw, that's so sweet"
"Yeah. Sweet, and yet faintly disturbing" Xander joked.
Buffy turned to Willow who was grinning broadly and holding an atrociously wrapped present in her hands. "This is from Tara and me. As you might know the artificial sunlight spell was a bit of a bust really, what with it resulting in troll mayhem and destruction and all..."
Xander interjected "Let that be a lesson to you two lovely wiccans. Remember, magic can really take its troll, I mean toll."
"Anyway" Willow pointedly continued "We were trying to come up with a spell that would help you with slaying."
Buffy opened the present to reveal a wooden stake and looked at it doubtfully "Um, thanks you guys, it's really innovative in the field of vampire slaying."
Tara grinned shyly and said "It's a stake magically imbued with a dust repellent, sort of like a reverse dust buster for when the vampires go poof, leaving you without that dusty sensation."
Willow added "It also comes in handy for spring cleaning, and cleaning those hard to reach places. "
Buffy smiled at each witch in turn. "It's fantastic, Thanks so much. I'm sure my dry cleaner would also thank you from the bottom of his heart if he were here. He was starting to give me strange looks when I brought my clothes in after dusting vamps ."
Anya turned to Xander and demanded, "Why didn't you tell me that we didn't have to spend money on the present? They didn't spend any money. They always get away with using their powers to do a 'beneficial' spell for people on special occasions. Wiccas don't take a vow of poverty or anything, so why do I have to spend my hard earned money and they don't? "
After a stunned silence, Buffy turned expectantly to Giles who was holding a small velvet box. Giles grinned crookedly and softly said "Just a small token of my esteem." Buffy took the box and opened it to reveal fine silver cross-shaped earrings and a matching bracelet.
"They're exquisite, Thank you very much." Buffy quietly said looking at Giles, who ducked his head briefly before meeting her gaze. Giles broke the eye contact, briskly rubbed his hands together and said "It's getting rather near dusk. How about we get these picnic supplies cleaned up". This earned him a few strange glances from the group as it was nearly an hour until sunset. Everyone set about cheerfully cleaning up, except for Anya who was reluctant to do work without any form of monetary compensation.
Xander had wandered down to the creek to collect some food wrappers that had blown down to the creek bank. "A job well done is about more than money, An. The only place you'll find success before work, is in a dictionary. "
"Yeah well, the only place men should come before women is in a dictionary, but it still happens." Anya retorted grumpily.
Xander visibly paled. "Anya, remember what I told you about inappropriate sharing with the group? Anyway, I told you I was really tired that night and had been under a lot of pressure at the construction company..." Distracted by his earnest defense of his sexual prowess, Xander stepped off the bank and fell face first into the shallow creek water. He floundered, unable to get his footing on the slippery creek bed. Giles was the first to take pity on him, taking his hiking boots and socks off, rolling up his jeans and wading in after his hapless young charge. He extended his hand to Xander and hauled him out of the water.
Xander stood dripping on the bank of the creek with a sheepish look on his face. "Let me just explain the context of Anya's remark. You see..."
Before he could continue, Buffy held up her hand palm up towards him as though warding off denizens of the Hellmouth. "Please Xand, as a special birthday present to me, please, please, just stop right there. "
The group stood awkwardly on the creek bank for several seconds before Anya walked up to the sopping wet Xander and took his hand. "I'm going to help Xander dry off, if you know what I mean" she said winking suggestively. "And what I mean of course is taking off his wet clothing and having sex with him in a secluded wooded area"
Xander allowed himself to be led into the woods.Looking back over his shoulder, he shrugged. "I've been trying to teach her about innuendo, but she hasn't quite got the hang of it yet."
Willow and Tara looked at each other "We actually want to look in the woods for any native plants that we could use in our spells, before it gets dark" Willow stated. "If it's alright with you Buffy?" she asked.
"Sure go ahead, I've got ex Watcher extraordinaire here to keep me company" Buffy said, cheerfully grinning at Giles.
Buffy and Giles moved to the picnic blanket and basked in the late afternoon sun in companionable silence for a few moments. Buffy turned to Giles and said "Thank you again for the earrings and bracelet". Giles smiled and simply said "You're welcome, Buffy"
Buffy grinned cheekily, "Not quite the same caliber as Mrs. Gordo here, but thanks nonetheless. "
Buffy looked at Giles toes, which he was wriggling in the slight breeze. "You know I think that's the most skin you've ever shown as long as I've known you. You should do it more often, you have really cute little pink toes" she teased.
"I'll have you know that my toes are considered to be very manly" Giles stated indignantly.
"At least they're manly toes instead of demony toes, like you had after my last birthday" Buffy paused and continued seriously "You would tell me if you were feeling out of the loop again? Wouldn't you? Just so I can stop you going drinking with the likes of Ethan Rayne. I'd like to be prepared next time you come over all demony, scaly and horny" Buffy stopped mortified, instantly regretting her habit of randomly adding y to words.
Giles flushed and cleared his throat "Yes. Indeed. Let's change the topic of conversation as soon as possible, shall we?"
Buffy wracked her brain for a suitable response "Oh. Speaking of your arch nemesis Ethan, he somehow managed to send me a present from the military installation in Nevada that the Initiative sent him to. He sent me the police issue handcuffs we used to restrain him in that warehouse during the Band Candy incident, which he obviously kept as a twisted momento of the occasion. He must have somehow arranged for one of his contacts to ship them from whatever hole in the ground he crawls from to menace the good citizens of Sunnydale. He had "Enjoy" engraved on the cuffs. Whatever that means. Now that Riley's gone, I don't have anyone that I can exactly share bondage fun with," she concluded glumly.
Taking note of Giles' obvious discomfort with the topic of conversation. Buffy clarified, "Don't worry. It's been a couple of weeks since Riley left, and I'm finally coming to the realisation that maybe it was for the best. If someone had mouthed that sort of platitude just after he left, I would have staked them, vampire or not, but it's true all the same. Over time I came to the conclusion that while Riley liked the opportunity to go all GI Joe and whale on some demons and vampires with me, he didn't really understand what me being "The Slayer" really entailed, at least not like you, Willow and Xander."
Buffy paused and continued self deprecatingly, "I guess I should consider myself lucky that Riley obviously didn't get the memo regarding the prerequisite that my birthday usually involve a yawning pit of despair. Otherwise he would have waited a few weeks and chosen today to announce that he was off to play George of the Jungle in South America."
Giles tentatively placed a hand on Buffy's shoulder. "If it's any consolation, I don't think Ethan meant the handcuffs to make you introspective about your love life or lack thereof. When I got drunk with Ethan, I was unfortunately entirely too forthcoming about my Ripperish escapades whilst under the influence of that damn chocolate. Ethan was most likely attempting to embarrass us both by sending a tangible reminder of what I got up to that night."
Buffy smiled as a thought occurred to her. "I guess I could consider the handcuffs to be sorta a family heirloom, passed from mother to daughter, so to speak."
Buffy turned to Giles to see how he was responding to her lighthearted teasing only to find an unexpectedly grave look on his face. "Buffy, I can only apologise for my utter lack of discretion in lowering my guard around a snake like Ethan. I should have known better."
"Yes, you should have known better. You got drunk, you turned into a mucousy Fyarl demon, and I tried to stab you through the heart with your own letter opener. The words, let that be a lesson to you, are a tad redundant at this point." Buffy grinned as she repeated almost verbatim what a younger yet stuffier Giles had said to her over three years before after she had dealt with Machida and the evil frat boys.
She grabbed the stake Willow and Tara had given her and twirled it absentmindedly in her hand as she considered the man sitting beside her. He was dressed casually for the picnic in faded jeans, a soft forest green coloured cable knit sweater and scuffed hiking boots sat beside him on the blanket. In appearance, he was far removed from the Englishman she had first met who wore tweed as a kind of physical and emotional armour in order to distance himself from his young Slayer. However, despite his changing appearance, he had always been her main constant in life as others, namely her father, Angel and now Riley, had come and gone.
Buffy attempted to verbalise some of these thoughts "I don't think that I'm ever gonna find a guy who fully gets me. Even Angel didn't completely understand me, at least not the way you do", she said smiling fondly at the man beside her. "Did I mention that I got a card from Angel Investigations? Not exactly a Hallmark moment, with Angel being the only person, vampire, whatever, who can communicate brooding and angst in a birthday greeting. Something's going on there in LA, I can just tell, call it slayer's intuition" Buffy stated firmly. "Besides, Cordy wrote a really nice message and Wes' message was not at all snooty, which surely are signs of a coming apocalypse" she added.
"I've always firmly believed that Cordelia would factor highly into any apocalypse" Giles observed wryly.
He was surprised to find himself suddenly enveloped in a fierce hug. "What on earth was that for?" he enquired drawing back slightly to look his Slayer in the face. Buffy removed her arms from around him and momentarily looked nonplussed as though she herself were taken aback by her actions. "I was just thinking about how you've always been there for me, and next thing you know I just had this irresistible impulse to give you a hug, what with you being ruggedly handsome Nature Guy and all today. Oh, God. I'm not entirely sure where that came from. Not that I don't find you attractive, because you are, I mean that sweater really brings out your eyes and let's not even start on what those jeans do for your...."
Buffy slapped her hand over her mouth as though to stop any more admissions from tumbling out.
By this point Buffy was wringing the stake between her two hands, and Giles gently removed it to prevent any splinters.
Giles opened his mouth to let his babbling Slayer off the hook. "Someday you'll find a man that appreciates you for the unique and wonderful young woman that you are, Buffy. A man would have to be a fool not to see your strength, compassion, and the beauty of your mind, body and soul".
"That's not exactly what I had intended to say, although it is entirely true" mused Giles with a puzzled frown. "I think we must be under some sort of magical influence."
"Ya think?" Buffy said. "Um. I may be out of line here, but I meant what I said, you meant what you said, so should we really care whether that old black magic has us in its spell?"
"Of course" Giles admonished her. "You know how I felt about the Band Candy. We don't even know who may be responsible for this magic. I would be less than a gentleman if I took advantage of you while you were under some form of enchantment. In fact..." Any further logical argument Giles might have put forward was halted by Buffy wrapping her arms around him and kissing him thoroughly. Giles resisted for a brief moment, then succumbed to temptation and deepened the kiss.
Lost in sensation, Giles at first didn't register that Buffy was gently pushing at his shoulders. He looked down at his Slayer who had somehow ended up lying beneath him on the soft picnic blanket and hurriedly sat up. "Buffy, I am so terribly sorry, I, I don't know what came over me…" he stammered nervously and was surprised when Buffy sat up and put her finger gently against his lips to stop his ramblings." I stopped because I had the stake that Willow gave me digging into my back" she gestured to the stake that Giles had been holding when he lowered her to the blanket. "Aside from the immediate danger of being staked, I was really enjoying myself, so there's no need for you to go all stiff upper lipped Brit on me."
Giles laughed in relief. "My lips are not the part of my anatomy that you be should worried about in that respect" he said wickedly.
Buffy laughed "Typical guy. One kiss and you get all cocky...Again with the bad choice of words".
Giles dropped the stake beside him and leaned down and brushed her lips briefly. Buffy parted her lips in invitation, but the pair were interrupted by the sounds of Willow and Tara coming into the clearing.
Willow babbled excitedly "Sorry for abandoning you, Buff. These woods have some great plants and roots for spells. There's also a really nice grove where Tara and I could do those spells that need to be performed under the stars."
Xander and Anya approached from the other side of the clearing. Xander had mostly dried off, but was looking even more rumpled and disheveled than before.
Giles stood and stretched his long legs. "Well now that you lot are back, Buffy and I might head off for some much needed training. I trust we can leave you to pack up the picnic supplies?"
"Not a problem." Xander said cheerily.
Giles gathered up the stake, Mrs. Gordo and the jewelry box containing the earrings and bracelet he had given Buffy for her birthday. He then extended his free hand to Buffy to help her up from the blanket.
Buffy smiled widely at her friends, "Thanks again for the picnic and the presents guys. I think that my 20s are going to be my best decade yet."
"Especially if you make full use of a certain present you received this year" Giles said, grinning wickedly at his Slayer.
Buffy's eyes widened and she led Giles out of the clearing without another word.
Xander watched the pair stroll off hand in hand and queried "He's talking about the stake right? Right? Does anyone else feel like we missed some major Watcher/Slayer bonding, while we were in the woods ? "
"I know I don't feel like I missed anything" Anya commented with a satisfied sigh. "I should denigrate your manhood in front of others more often. "
Xander's gaze zeroed in on Willow who was looking strangely smug.
"Oh. Will, you didn't. Please tell me you didn't invoke the great Roofie spirit? You know how much trouble that got me into last time."
Willow shook her head. "As well as imbuing the stake with a dust repellant, I also did a minor spell to cause anyone holding the stake to act on a pre-existing attraction. It also has a lesser affect on those in close proximity to the stake. The spell doesn't totally lower a person's inhibitions, so it mightn't have worked as well on Giles, but it can't cause anyone to do or say anything that they don't really feel."
"That's sneaky, underhanded and devious. Well done" said Anya.
"When Buffy's happiness is at stake, no pun intended, I'm willing to play a little dirty" said Willow firmly.
Xander turned to Tara and asked, "Did you have anything to do with this? "
Tara smiled softly at her girlfriend, shrugged and said, "She was wearing her resolve face. I didn't really have much choice in the matter. "
Xander turned to Willow "So, what happens when Buffy goes on patrol with a fantastic magical attraction stake? Huh?"
Willow paused. "The odds of Buffy ever being attracted to a vampire are..... Willow's eye's widened in realisation. "I'll remove the spell as soon as possible to be on the safe side" she said quickly.
Willow smiled as she thought of how contented Buffy and Giles had looked as they left the clearing. "Happy Birthday, Buffy." she said softly.