A Sunnydale Christmas Tale
By RebeccaM

Title: A Sunnydale Christmas Tale
Author: RebeccaM
Email: beccam1@ozemail.com.au
Paring: Buffy/Giles
Rating: NC-17
Spoilers: General Season 5
Feedback: Yes please
Disclaimer: All Buffy characters mentioned in this story belong to Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, Fox Television, etc. I don't own Barbie, Mattel does. The song 'Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas' (H. Martin, R. Blane) was sung by Judy Garland in the film Meet Me In ST. Louis.
Author's note: This is my first venture into the Buffy universe and fan fiction. I would like to thank Gail C for her wonderful advice, guidance and patience. All errors are mine. I hope you enjoy!

Summary: In response to Gileswench Christmas Challenge (Sorry, it's a bit late)
Must include ALL of the following: A non-traditional use for a candy cane, either Giles or Wesley telling someone: "You know, when I take off my glasses, you're beautiful", Giles playing his guitar, a homemade Christmas gift.
Must include at least THREE (3) of the following: Alternate lyrics to a Christmas Carol, somebody watching a well-known holiday movie or tv show, Anya misinterpreting a Christmas tradition, Buffy and Giles patrolling together, a lump of coal in someone's Christmas stocking, Buffy crying.


A Sunnydale Christmas Tale

As in previous years in Sunnydale, a cold snap enveloped the town bringing with it a high probability of snow. The streets were decorated with Christmas lights and bright decorations, culminating with a large Christmas tree in the centre of Main Street. A man dressed as Santa Claus stood outside the toy store proclaiming 'Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.' If people noticed that Santa held a large cross in one hand while the other waved a hefty looking bell, they didn't comment.

At number 12 Ashwood Lane a log fire blazed in the hearth and coloured Christmas lights blinked invitingly on the tree, creating a warm, cosy effect. On closer inspection, one could see presents placed haphazardly around the tree and the living room walls covered with red and green streamers.

Inside, a man sat with a defeated expression on his face.

Rupert Giles knew with certainty that he had lost. He wondered, not for the first time, how she could do this to him. 'I'm a grown man for gods sake. Just say No,' he thought, crossing his arms over his broad chest.

Giles looked down at her using his best 'watchers' glare, the one that said, 'I am determined. I will not budge.' Fat lot of good it did him. It did not deter her one little bit. If anything, it encouraged her further.

He could see the corners of her mouth curve upward into a small smile, could see her eyes pleading with his and knew with certainty he could not deny her. He exhaled noisily and reached for the plate of homemade chocolate chip cookies sitting on the coffee table. "This is your last one," he said gruffly, offering her the plate.

"Oh thank you, Daddy," she squealed, snatched a cookie from the plate and turned around to hug him fiercely. "Love you, Daddy."

Chuckling, Giles placed the plate back onto the coffee table and returned the hug. "I think you love those cookies more than me," he replied, tickling his daughter unmercifully.

"Not true! Not true!" she giggled hysterically, squirming in her father's arms.

They both turned towards the door when they heard a key scrape against the lock and a moment later Joyce Summers entered with her hands full of packages. Giles extracted himself from his daughter's embrace and rose from the couch to help Joyce. He took the packages from her outstretched arms and proceeded into the study with them.

"My goodness, Joyce. Is there anything left in the store?"

"I may have left a few things on the shelves," Joyce answered dryly, as she walked further into the room and then spotted a small auburn head sitting on the couch. "Annie Giles! What are you doing still up? It's way past your bedtime, young lady. Honestly Rupert, she should have been in bed an hour ago."

Giles closed the study door, walked back around the couch and grabbed his five-year-old daughter. He slung her over his shoulder and gave her backside a playful whack. "Yes, well, we were just going, weren't we Annie?"

"Yep. Night-night Nanna," Annie replied getting an upside down kiss from a smiling Joyce.

Giles grabbed a clean pair of pyjamas from the tall boy and then proceeded to turn down the bed as Annie cleaned her teeth in the bathroom.

Annie entered her bedroom and spotted the pyjamas her father had placed on the bed. "Daddy, I can't wear them," she said indignantly.

"And why is that, Annie?" he asked seriously.

"They don't match. I can't wear my green bottoms with my blue top!"

"It doesn't matter, sweetheart. They're clean, warm and no-one will see you when you pop into bed," he explained patiently, trying to cajole his daughter into wearing the pyjamas.

Annie raced over to the tall boy, opened every drawer she could reach, searching for new pyjamas. "Daddy, they don't go together."

Giles sighed loudly. "Bloody typical, just like your mother," he grumbled good-naturedly. "Have to make a fashion statement with everything." He opened the top drawer, spotted a matching pink set he'd missed the first time, hidden under her well worn Barbie tank top and held them up for her to see. "Does this meet with your approval?"

"Yes!" Annie squealed, placing her arms around his legs and giving them a tight squeeze. "Pink is my favourite colour," she said, smiling up at him.

Giles laughed, bent down and lifted his daughter up into his arms. "Hmmm. Disaster averted. Let's get you changed, shall we?"

Satisfied at last with her nighttime attire, Annie snuggled down under the covers. She waited patiently while her father picked out a story from her large collection of books. She loved books and received new ones all the time, from Daddy and Mummy and Nanna and Aunty Dawn and Willow and Xander and even Spike, except Mummy and Daddy had to look at those ones first.

Giles settled himself comfortably on the bed beside his daughter and started to read. "Once upon a time, there lived..."

***********

Buffy arrived home to find her mother in the study wrapping presents. Joyce had boxes and bags of goodies everywhere. Colourful wrapping paper lay scattered about on the desk with bits of sticky tape stuck, for easy access, against the glass Wizard ornament Willow had given Giles for his birthday two years previously. "Hey Mom," she greeted. She gave her mother a hug and glanced at all the presents on the desk. "Are any of those for me?"

Joyce smiled and returned the hug, "Buffy, I've been hiding Christmas presents from you and Dawn a long time now, and my success rate is ninety-nine percent. And I only lost that one percent, young lady, because the blasted window seat got stuck and you heard me cursing."

"Mom, if I recall, I helped you with that window seat. Slayer strength comes in handy for something and... I didn't tell Dawn where you hid the presents and... I didn't sneak back down later when you went to bed to check them out."

At Joyce's disbelieving look, Buffy quickly changed the subject. "So, where is that husband of mine?"

"Oh, he's putting Annie to bed," Joyce replied, returning to wrap up a toy guitar. "I hope Annie gets her musical ability from Rupert's side and not ours. You remember when Dawn decided she wanted to play the drums?" Joyce grinned at her daughter.

"Oh, don't remind me," Buffy grimaced, as she went in search of her husband. That phase had lasted the longest and loudest five months of their lives, before Dawn decided she wanted to try Ballet next. Even though it was an added expense, Joyce had readily agreed to the quieter activity, saving Buffy from killing her sister and winding up in Jail.

***********

Buffy stood quietly in the bedroom doorway, unnoticed by its two occupants. Giles' back rested against the headboard, with his long legs sprawled on top of the covers. He had one arm wrapped around their daughter, while the other held a large storybook. He continued to read, bringing to life, a magical world of dragons and brave heroes, to an enthralled audience of one.

Buffy could just see Annie, tucked in snugly against his side, face transfixed by the unfolding tale. She looked so small, against her father. Giles was a tall man, well over six foot, and although Annie was taller than Buffy had been at five, she would never reach her father's height. What she did inherit from Giles, were her beautiful expressive green eyes, wavy golden-brown hair and a love of books.

She smiled fondly as Rupert finished the bedtime story and placed it on the bedside table. She watched as he bent down, took off his glasses and rubbed noses with Annie. She could hear him whisper, "You know, when I take off my glasses, you're beautiful."

Buffy heard Annie's delighted giggle and her "Oh, silly Daddy," as Rupert bent down and placed big raspberry kisses on her stomach. Giles then stood, gave Annie a proper good night kiss and tucked her in more firmly. He switched on the noise monitor and turned to leave the room, spying Buffy in the doorway.

"Hello, my love. How long have you been standing there, hmmm?"

Buffy crossed to the bed, wrapped her arms around Rupert and gave him a thorough kiss. "Long enough sweetie, long enough." She loved his nightly routine with Annie. It reinforced how wonderfully innocent and childlike he could still be.

There were many sides to Rupert Giles. Passionate, forthright, sincere, loving, trusting, stubborn, outspoken, and infuriating sometimes, but most of all, he was her beloved Giles. The man who had stood beside her, first as Watcher to Slayer, later as friend to friend and yet later still as husband and wife.

Buffy bent down and kissed her daughter good night. "How many sleeps til Santa comes, Annie?"

"Two Mummy, two."

After nodding her head and giving her daughter another kiss, she reached for Giles hand and they both quietly left the room. Giles switched the bedroom light off and closed the door partway. Once they had reached the hall, Giles wrapped his arms around Buffy's slender body, pulling her closer against him. He gazed into her eyes and watched them glisten with unshed tears. "My love, whatever is the matter?" he asked tenderly.

Buffy sniffed, "I'm just being sentimental girl again. You know how I get. Every Christmas I thank 'The Powers That Be' and Willow for what I have now." She smiled up at him as a single tear slipped down her cheek. "I thank 'The Powers That Be' for giving me another year spent with my wonderful husband, adorable child and my supportive family and friends."

"Oh love..." Giles held her tightly against him, fighting to keep his own fears at bay. At twenty-eight she had become the oldest slayer on record and Giles now prayed every day of his life that she would continue to live and retire well into her old age. He placed small kisses along her jaw-line and down her throat. "...And Willow?" he asked, to lighten the mood.

Buffy placed her hands into the back of his jeans, reaching her fingers as far as they could go to squeeze his backside.

"Well, I thank Willow for the mistletoe and her potent homemade eggnog," she looked up at Giles, grinning. "If she hadn't plied us with her eggnog, releasing some of our inhibitions, I would have never discovered your hidden talents," she giggled, squeezing him firmly.

Buffy could feel Giles cock stirring to life against her lower body and started to rub herself against him. She smiled as Giles lifted her up and when she wrapped her legs around his torso, whispered playfully into his ear, "Or not so hidden talents."

Giles snorted, well aware of what Buffy was doing to him. He gently pushed her back against the wall and slowly lowered her to sit over the growing bulge in his jeans. He rotated his hips and was satisfied when he elicited a low moan from her. "Need I remind you that your mother is in the next room and the first time she caught us under that mistletoe, I almost lost all of my equipment and any thoughts of fathering children were rapidly disappearing, never to return!"

Buffy sniggered as she remembered the Christmas Eve party held at her mothers' house over seven years ago. She had patrolled with Giles that night while Willow, Tara, Anya and Dawn had decorated the house for Christmas. Willow, the girl who doesn't celebrate Christmas, had gone overboard on the decorations. She had placed small bunches of mistletoe in every doorway and exposed beam she could find. Her mother had been busy in the kitchen cooking enough food to feed an army, or enough to satisfy Xander Harris at least.

Patrol was quiet and they had returned home early to find the party in full swing. They were soon into the Christmas spirit and Willow's eggnog. Giles had even complemented Willow on the eggnog and had returned a number of times throughout the night for more. Funnily enough, her glass was also never empty that night.

When she found herself standing on the stairs with mistletoe above her, courtesy of Willow, a naughty idea formed in her head. Over the last year and a half, she and Giles had really bonded. They were so much in sync it sometimes gave her the wiggins. While others had fallen by the wayside, their relationship had evolved and strengthened into something she couldn't find words for. Sure, they still laughed and teased each other while trying to survive the monster/vampire of the week, but they also enjoyed the quiet times, sharing confidences and discussing the everyday mundane problems of life. She had called Giles over and standing on the second step, found herself at eye level with him. "Merry Christmas, Giles," she had said and after that, it had seemed only natural to kiss him. She was at first shocked and then delighted to find him responding.

They had broken apart to watch the emerging recognition cross the other's face. Then they had moved closer together until their faces were inches apart and their mouths had parted simultaneously. The kisses were hard and passionate; tongues and teeth and hands came into play. Her hands had found their way to the front of his jeans and had boldly caressed his rising erection through his pants, while Giles hands had found their way under her shirt and were exploring just as thoroughly. Buffy remembered she had wanted Giles to take her right there on the stairs and would have taken it further when her mind registered glass shattering.

They had looked up to find Joyce, her face set into a murderous rage, stepping over the remains of the punch bowl and making her way towards them. The rest of the Scooby Gang had stood and watched in awe and a fair bit of fear.

Then everyone started talking at once. Buffy remembered Dawn's 'oh that's gross' just before her mom started yelling at Giles and beating him about the head and chest. Giles blocked her blows easily and had tried to stutter out an apology. That had only infuriated her mother further. As Buffy grabbed her mother's arms to calm her down, Joyce had kneed Giles in the groin with considerable force, felling the big man to the ground and silencing everyone.

Afterwards, when Giles had recovered, they talked and talked and talked. Vows of love were spoken and although her mother wasn't happy, agreed it was none of her business and that Buffy was old enough to decide for herself. The rest of the gang were stunned, but also very supportive and Dawns' comment that Buffy always did like old things finally broke the ice. Although her mother had taken a long time to thaw, she had finally come around and, well, when her father found out, let's just say Hell was a very cold place right about then and pigs could be seen in the sky.

Buffy's mind returned to the present as she ground herself against Giles, "I think I need to test drive that equipment of yours. Make sure it's in full working order. What do you say?" she raised her eyebrows suggestively.

Giles mouth quirked up into a feral grin. "Hussy. I think it's time for patrol." He slid her down his body prolonging the delicious contact as long as he could, then gave her a quick kiss. "But after patrol, you can test drive my equipment as much as you like."

"Hey, Watcher mine, I'll take you up on that offer," Buffy replied, grinning. She straightened her clothes and whispered in his ear, "you know how much I like playing with manual transmissions."

Giles choked on his laughter and let her go, whacking her on the bum as she walked towards the living room. He went to the hall closet to retrieve the weapons, giving himself time to look presentable before he joined Buffy and Joyce in the living room.

Joyce was sitting on the couch watching an old black and white movie and Giles could hear Jimmy Stewarts' distinctive voice wailing on about how worthless his life was. "It's a Wonderful Life, isn't it?" He queried to Joyce.

Buffy wrapped her arms around his body and gave him a quick squeeze, "It sure is, sweetie. It sure is."

Giles smiled down at her and placed a soft kiss on her lips, before taking her hand and walking towards the door. He helped Buffy into her warm coat before donning his leather jacket. Picking up the weapons bag, he asked, "Shall we patrol, my dear?"

"Let's shall," Buffy replied, smiling up at Giles, enjoying the sparkle in his green eyes at their in-joke.

Joyce smiled fondly as her daughter and son-in-law left hand in hand for patrol. Although reluctant at first to accept their union, especially in the early days, over the years she saw time and time again how connected they were, how right for each other and the fact that she also had a wonderful grand-daughter out of their union, was an added bonus. She turned back to the TV to resume watching 'It's a Wonderful Life' replying softly, "Yes, it is Rupert. Yes it is."

****************

The weather had turned cold and there was a definite feel of snow in the air. Although the shopping district was busy with last minute shoppers, the rest of Sunnydale's population had sensibly decided to stay indoors, making Patrol a quiet night for Buffy and Giles.

"Giles?"

"Mm?"

"Why do you think it always snows at this time of year?" Buffy asked. "Cus, you gotta admit, it's pretty weird, what with the rest of the state enjoying a heatwave at the moment."

"Actually, I believe it may be the result of the Harbringers. The High Priests were dealing with very ancient and powerful magicks to call forth The First. Something, be it God, The Powers That Be, whomever, decided to step in to right the balance. I'll have to consult my books and..."

"Research," Buffy quipped.

"Yes, quite," Giles replied, knowing when he was being teased.

They were returning home after completing a circuit of the many cemeteries in Sunnydale when Buffy and Giles heard a familiar, if annoying voice behind them.

"Well, well, well, what have we here?"

They turned to see Spike arrogantly sauntering towards them. Spike wore his usual black jeans, with a festive red shirt and black full-length leather duster over the top. "What? No good to see you, Spike? How about a Christmas kiss?"

"Spike," Giles growled.

"In your dreams," Buffy replied.

'How very true,' Spike mused as he continued to bait the Watcher and Slayer. "Hey, it's Christmas. The least you could do is give us a hug."

"Don't bet on it," Buffy said.

"Wasn't talking to you, Pet. How about it, Rupes?"

"What do you want, Spike?" Giles exhaled noisily.

"Nothing. Just thought I'd come by and wish my favourite Watcher and Slayer a Merry Christmas."

At Giles' disbelieving look and Buffys' arms crossed over her chest, foot tapping impatiently stance, Spike continued, "Oh all right. I need money for blood and smokes."

"What, again?" Giles exclaimed. "Didn't I give you $50 last week for blood and bloody fags?" he said, clearly not impressed.

Surprised, Buffy turned towards Giles and placed her hand on his arm, getting his attention. "Giles, why are you giving him money? And what do you mean, again? It's not as if we owe him anything and he always manages to bring trouble of some kind whenever he shows up," Buffy said, giving Spike an irritated glance.

Giles looked down at her and muttered, "Well, it's Christmas love and..."

"Christmas my..." Buffy swung around to face Spike and poked him in the chest. "Listen Spike, I'm warning you, just because it's Christmas, don't expect me to be happy to see you." Spying a large wooden candy cane decoration in the front yard of the house across the street, she grinned wickedly. "If you ruin our Christmas, I'm going to grab that candy cane over there and shove it right up your..."

"Ah, Anya, Xander," Giles interjected. "Good to see you both."

Buffy turned to see Anya and Xander walking towards them. 'So, it's not just mad dogs, Englishmen and slayers out tonight,' she thought. She heard Spike mutter, "That's not how you stake a vampire," under his breath and Giles quiet, "It is, if she uses enough force."

"Hey guys, what's up?" Xander asked as Anya complained about being cold.

"Nothing, we were just finishing our patrol and heading home for the night, until Spike here, started pestering us for money," Buffy growled.

"Hey Spike, what about the 50 bucks you loaned off me last week?" Xander demanded.

"What can I say? I'm bad," Spike grinned, showing them his game face.

Giles rolled his eyeballs at Xanders' use of the word 'loan' and realised that he had been suckered too. "Shall we go home? I for one can think of better things to do than stand around arguing while all my extremities turn blue."

Anya nodded her head in agreement and started tugging on Xander's arm. "Yeah. I agree with the Boss. Xander, I'm cold and I want sex," Anya demanded. "If we don't go right now, you can start making friends with your hand again."

Xander flushed and muttered, "Er, bye," as he was happily dragged away to meet his fate.

**************

After saying goodnight and thanking her mother for babysitting, Buffy switched off the TV and turned to watch Giles move towards the bookshelf. He picked out a large, old-looking book and then settled himself down on the couch to read.

Smiling to herself, Buffy entered the Kitchen and lit the stove. She put the kettle on for tea, then returned to the living room and knelt in front of Giles. She ran her hands up and down his strong muscular thighs and coyly asked, "what are you doing, sweetie?"

Giles looked up from the book he was reading and saw the flare of arousal in Buffy's eyes. "Um... I just remembered a passage from the Black Chronicles regarding the First Evil and ahh..." he stuttered to a halt as her hands reached his groin and he felt his body respond to hers.

"The only research I want my Watcher doing tonight, is on me. Got it, big guy?" Buffy took the book from his hands, placing it on the coffee table behind her. She then started unbuttoning his shirt, planting small kisses on his exposed chest.

"Mm, I think... ahh... that is...as your Watcher, it is, um, my duty to give the Slayer what she wants," Giles replied huskily, dragging Buffy up to lie on top of him and giving her a scorching kiss. Wrapped together, passions rising, their mouths met hungrily, licking and kissing and biting. He could feel his jeans tighten with his rapidly growing erection as Buffy ground her lower body against him. Kissing and caressing each other, they started pulling clothes off in a rush to feel skin on skin when they heard the kettle whistle shrilly.

"Oh, bloody hell."

"Did you want tea, sweetie?" Buffy giggled, giving him a quick kiss and starting to extract herself from his embrace.

"Bugger the tea," Giles growled and pulled Buffy back down to straddle his lap. He removed her shirt and bra, then started kissing and licking her neck and shoulders, moving slowly southwards towards her rapidly hardening nipples.

Buffy loved the way he made her feel. Her nipples were on fire. She was on fire. Her hands started to wander, tracing invisible lines through his chest hair, she wanted to feel him closer, have him inside her. She moved against him, trying to get nearer but the insistent background shrill of the kettle distracted her. "This will be the third burnt Kettle within a month, sweetie," she whispered playfully in his ear, flicking her tongue out to lick his lobe.

Giles shivered at her attentions, "Ah damn!" he muttered trying to redirect his thoughts to pleasuring his wife, now that she had mentioned the whistling kettle. He couldn't ignore its annoying shrill and besides he certainly did NOT want it to wake their daughter. He had plans for this wonderful, breathtaking, incredibly sexy, maddening woman who looked at him with mischief in her eyes. Giles stood, holding Buffy tightly to him. She wrapped her legs around him, securing herself, giggling into his shoulder as Giles made his way gradually towards the Kitchen, kissing her senseless. He reached out a hand and switched off the stove. 'There goes another Kettle,' he thought, dumping the burnt out kettle into the rubbish bin.

"Rupert," Buffy purred. "Love you. Take me to bed."

Giles gazed at this amazing woman in his arms. His Slayer. His wife. The mother of his child. God, how he loved her. Even after seven years of marriage she still made him burn for her, so much, it was frightening. That she loved him equally in return was something he never took for granted, ever.

Squeezing Buffy tighter and giving her a probing kiss, he strode towards their bedroom, declaring his love for her, which unfortunately came to an abrupt end when he stood and crushed Annie's plastic princess tiara. "Oh, bugger it." He started to put Buffy down to clean up the evidence of his crime before his daughter found it and was told to 'leave it for the morning.' Grinning, Giles re-adjusted his hold on Buffy and entered their bedroom without further mishap.

Giles closed the bedroom door securely behind them. The monitor that detected any sounds from their daughter's room was silent. Giles offered a silent thanks that the kettle had not woken Annie. The monitors were peace of mind. This being the Hellmouth, they wanted to hear if Annie woke or was disturbed by anything. Luckily the monitors only worked one way, they could hear noise from Annie's room but no sounds from their own bedroom would be broadcast. Thank God!

Giles placed Buffy gently down on the bed, removed his shoes and socks and smiling, lay down beside her. He removed his glasses and stared at her, a twinkle in his eyes. "You know, when I take off my glasses, you're beautiful."

Giggling, Buffy kissed him passionately, rubbing her bare breasts against his bare chest. Her hands found their way to the snap of his jeans. "I bet you say that to all the girls," she said as she lowered his zipper, careful not to snag it on his erection.

"Only MY two girls, my love," he replied with great feeling.

He lifted his hips and allowed Buffy to remove his jeans and boxers; her right hand cupping his cock while the left one fondled his balls, sending delicious shivers throughout his body. After several delightful minutes of this activity, he reluctantly removed her hands and turned his attention to removing her remaining clothes and footwear.

Giles placed small, wet kisses along her neck as he gently lowered her back down onto the bed. He slid his knee between her open legs and pushed his cock against her side. He could feel Buffy rub herself against his leg, hardening him further; could feel her hands running through his hair as he kissed her mouth, tongues duelling. He slowly lowered his lips to tease her breasts, eliciting soft moans and murmured words of love from Buffy. His hands travelled lower, dipping down between her legs, up along the inside of her thighs and finally, grazing over her hot centre. He felt how wet she was and wanted to taste her.

Buffy felt her breath quicken. God, how she ached for him. She pulled his head up to stare into his eyes, smiling sensually.

"Rupert, I want you inside me."

"Already?" Giles asked. He loved to pleasure her and could spend an eternity doing so.

When Buffy nodded, Giles shifted his hips, his weight resting on his elbows. He lowered his body over her and felt her small, strong hand guide his penis to her opening. He slowly pushed his more than willing member into her passage, loving the exquisite feeling of their bodies joining, becoming one.

Buffy sighed with absolute pleasure and moaned his name. She loved the feel of Giles inside her; surrounding her; filling her. She wrapped her legs tighter around him, squeezing her inner muscles and exulted in his gasp of delight.

Giles smiled down at her, taking her tongue into his mouth and sucking while he began to thrust slowly, sliding in deep and then almost all the way out, feeling her body respond to his, loving the way they fit together. They made love slowly, enjoying every thrust and counter thrust, until finally, breathing heavily, plunging wildly, he could feel Buffy tighten around him and let himself go.

Buffy felt her orgasm start. She spread her legs further apart and up along his torso, increasing the angle and was rewarded with wave after wave of delicious sensations. She could feel Giles push deeper and harder and finally he came, crying out her name. His thrusts slowed and his body gradually stopped shuddering with the release of his orgasm.

Giles lowered himself to rest part of his weight on top of Buffy, knowing that she loved this closeness, enjoyed the sensation of being enclosed in his arms; protected; loved; cherished. He bent down and kissed her gently on the mouth, feeling her lips curve up into a smile. Their faces drew slowly apart and Giles could see a hint of amusement in her eyes.

"Wow! God, you're good... and it's nice to see your equipment is still fully functional."

Chuckling, Giles rolled to his side, taking her with him. Deliciously sated, still entwined, he tenderly pulled the blankets around their bodies and kissed her forehead. "Love you, Mrs Giles."

Buffy snuggled further into his body, loving the feel of him. She ran her hand through his chest hair and replied, "Love you too, Mr Giles."

******************

Christmas Eve day was a flurry of activity at the Giles house. Last minute Christmas shopping, food preparation and cleaning were on the agenda, as well as trying to get an excited five-year-old to take a nap so she could stay up late for the traditional Summers Christmas Eve party.

This year the party was to be held at the Giles residence, given that Joyce had large crates filled with artwork and statues for the Gallery's New Years Eve Bash, scattered around her home. Her business was thriving, so much so, the Black Tie, invitation only, New Years Eve Bash attracted many wealthy overseas clients.

Giles was exhausted by the day's events. It was 6.15pm and he had yet to shower and change for the party. He didn't mind hosting the party. They had more than enough room. Owning The Magic Box was a lucrative and rewarding business, not to mention, handy as hell in their other line of work. With the change in their circumstances, namely the birth of their beautiful daughter, Buffy and Giles had decided to move from the one bedroom loft apartment to a spacious three bedroom house complete with study, extra large living/dining room and two bathrooms. Number 12 Ashwood Lane was fifteen minutes from The Magic Box and ten minutes from Revello Drive. This pleased Buffy and Joyce immensely. Giles had watched as mother and daughter had gotten closer over the years. Buffy often told him that by having a child herself, she could now understand Joyce better. Her mother's motivations and actions throughout her teenage years were because she loved Buffy dearly and would die if something happened to her, much like Buffy would do anything to protect Annie.

"Love, I'm headed for the shower," Giles called out. Hearing an answering OK from Annie's bedroom, Giles closed the door to the en-suite bathroom and stripped. He placed his clothes in the dirty laundry basket and pulled out his electric razor. Humming to himself, he started to shave.

Buffy tried to be patient with her daughter. "Honey, it's too cold to wear your Barbie tank top." She tried to keep Annie still as she pulled out a pretty dress from the wardrobe. It was a gorgeous red colour with little white flowers stitched around the neckline, cuffs and hem, very Christmassy. "Now..."

The doorbell rang and Buffy quickly glanced at her watch: 6.20. Where had the time gone? She needed to dress Annie and shower and change herself before everyone arrived at 7.00pm. "Annie, wait right here. I'll be back in a minute, okay?"

Buffy raced to the front door just as the bell started ringing again. "Okay, okay, I'm coming." She opened the door and saw her sister standing there. Before Dawn could speak, Buffy grabbed Dawn's free hand and dragged her into the living room. "Great, you're early." She snatched the dip platter out of Dawn's other hand and plonked it down on the nearest piece of flat furniture she could reach, a sideboard. "Come and help me with Annie. Where's Mom? Is she bringing her new boyfriend? Did you park in the driveway? God, I'm running late."

Dawn lifted her hands up in surrender and tried to answer her sister. "Chill out, Sis," she replied and then burst out laughing when she spotted Annie. "Well, that's a new look."

Buffy turned to see her daughter coming up the hallway. Annie had pulled on her pretty red dress. Unable to do the buttons up at the back, she had one arm in the sleeve hole and the other out. Over the top of the dress was her old pink Barbie tank top. "Oh, good grief, Annie!" she exclaimed, and then looked imploringly at Dawn. "Help! You know when I start sounding like Giles, I'm really losing it."

"Go, have your shower. Mom said she'd be over later with Jim. Leave Annie to me," Dawn answered, still giggling at the sight of her niece.

With a final look at her daughter, Buffy kissed Dawn on the cheek, thanked her and ran for the shower.

Shutting the bedroom door, Buffy quickly removed her clothes, dropping them in a disordered mess at her feet. She entered the en-suite and saw Giles step into the shower. "Haven't you finished yet?" she cried in dismay.

"Sorry, I'm just starting. I shaved first. Care to join me?" he said with a lecherous grin, water cascading down his body. He held out his hands invitingly.

"No funny business, Mister. It's nearly 6.30 and our guests are arriving at 7.00." Buffy grasped his hands and joined him in the shower, delighting in the warm water hitting her body.

"Right you are then." Giles reached behind her for the soap and then started lathering his chest and upper arms.

Buffy watched Giles wash himself. She was a little miffed that he had taken her literally. If she had really wanted to hurry, she could have used the other bathroom. When Giles passed her the soap she deliberately dropped it, with the intention that as she retrieved the soap, she could also enjoy other things that might be in the vicinity.

"Ow!" Giles complained, glaring at her. "That landed on my foot!"

Chagrined that her ploy hadn't quite worked the way she wanted, Buffy apologised. "Oops, sorry."

As Giles bent down to retrieve the soap, Buffy grinned at her good fortune. 'This will do nicely,' she thought and ran her fingernail lightly between his firm buttocks. Unfortunately this manoeuvre startled Giles and he jerked forward, hitting his head against the shower wall.

"Ow!"

"Oops," Buffy grimaced. That was definitely not the result she was after.

Giles straightened and massaged his temple. "Buffy! What are you doing?"

"Um, I thought maybe..." her voice trailed off as she stared at Giles sheepishly.

Giles finally twigged. "If I recall, you mentioned the lateness of the hour and no funny business." He grinned down at her and then drew her against his body.

Buffy hit him playfully on the chest.

"Ow!" Giles growled, rubbing his chest. Sometimes she didn't know her own strength.

"Men. They never listen when you wan..."

Giles silenced her with a searing kiss. "Come on. I don't fancy my chances in here," he said, exiting the shower. "I've been injured too many times tonight. The next thing you know, one of our guests will have turned on the taps in the Kitchen for coffee and third degree burns are not my idea of an aphrodisiac."

Buffy giggled and rinsed herself off. "Oh and speaking of guests. Moms' bringing her new boyfriend tonight, so no talk of things that go bump in the night."

"Mm," Giles replied, towelling himself off. "What's Annie doing at the moment?"

"Oh, Dawn arrived early. She's helping Annie get dressed." Buffy grabbed a clean towel and wrapped it around her body. She grabbed another towel to dry her hair and walked towards the door.

"Where do you think you're going?" Giles asked, pulling the back of her towel, drawing her nearer to him.

"I thought you said you didn't fancy it."

Giles grabbed Buffy around the waist and lifted her to sit on the vanity. "That was in the shower." He pulled her towel loose, "and we're not in the shower now."

"Oh!"

*********************

"Hey, Dawn. Hi ya, Annie," Xander greeted as he entered the house with Anya by his side. They were the first to arrive.

The house looked great he had to admit. The tree with its multi-coloured Christmas lights and presents underneath, the log fire blazing, the colourful decorations, the piles and piles of food on the dining room table. Yep, he was in for a good night. "Where's Giles and the Buffster?"

"They're getting dressed, for like the last 40 minutes," Dawn answered, rolling her eyeballs.

"They're having sex," Anya declared placing her gifts under the tree.

"Anya! Remember little ears," Xander admonished, glancing down at Annie.

"I have NOT got little ears," Annie replied indignantly, stamping her foot.

Trying to change the subject, Xander bent down on one knee. "That's a pretty dress Annie."

Annie beamed at him. "Aunty Dawn helped me put it on."

********************

Dawn went to answer the door yet again. 'Are they ever coming out' she thought as she glanced at her watch. It was 7.20 and just about everyone was here. Willow and Tara had arrived not long after Xander and Anya. Willow had brought mistletoe and homemade eggnog, now a tradition. Dawn shook her head and smiled to herself, 'boy, you should see Mom blush and Giles wince whenever that tradition is mentioned.'

No matter how many times Willow was interrogated, she never admitted to using magic. Dawn suspected she must have, cus Buffy and Giles, come on. 'Although,' Dawn thought, 'Giles does look pretty good in swimming trunks, err, for an old guy.'

Even Cordelia and Wesley had arrived from L.A. Now there was an odd couple. Who would have thought that Cordy and Wesley would wind up together. Dawn put that one down to the Hellmouth, wondering just how far its influence could reach. Angel had not come up from L.A. with them. He preferred to stay away now, although at first he did come to the Christmas Eve parties, but when Buffy and Giles got married, he stopped coming. Everyone was still friendly or in Giles case, civil with him, but Dawn secretly thought Angel always believed Buffy would return to him. Like that was ever gonna happen. She opened the door expecting to see her mom and her new boyfriend, instead Spike was standing there with a present under his arm.

"Evening. I've come for the party." Spike said and grinned at Buffy's kid sister, turning on the charm. He flicked out his cigarette and threw it in the rose bush. Spike knew he wasn't allowed to smoke in the Giles residence and although it chafed him, he submitted to the rule. The implant still functioned, much to his disgust. The people in this house were the only ones he could rely on when he needed something ... and that's all he would ever admit to himself.

"Have you now, Spike?" Dawn replied, looking sceptical.

"Oh, just let me in. I've got a present for the little one." Spike spotted Annie in the living room playing with Willow and Tara. "Hey, Annie, look what uncle Spikey got you," he called out, waving the present to attract Annie's attention.

Annie jumped up and raced over to the doorway. "Ooh Spike, what did you get me?" she asked him excitedly.

"Oh, you're evil, Spike," Dawn said and looked at him in disgust.

"Yeah, playing on a little kids' feelings, that's low," Willow put in, coming to the door herself.

Dawn sighed and opened the door wider, indicating he should enter. Spike wouldn't need an invitation if Giles still allowed him access to the house. Dawn waited to see what would happen.

"Ta, I try my best," Spike thanked her with a lopsided grin and walked over the threshold. Tucking the present under his arm, Spike clapped his hands together and then closed the door behind him. "Merry Christmas, Red. How about a kiss? Oh yeah, forgot. You don't like kissing the boys any more."

"Spike. Behave yourself," Willow answered, hitting him on the arm.

"Ow!"

"Hey, what's going on?" Xander asked, "and why is he here?"

"I want my present," Annie complained, having been forgotten.

Spike bent down to Annie's eyelevel and presented her with the gift. "Here you go, Pet."

"Err, perhaps I'll help you open it, Annie," Dawn suggested and tore a small hole in the wrapping, dreading what she would find. She sighed with relief and signalled it was OK. Everyone relaxed and watched Annie open her present.

"Ooh, look, Xena. Can I wear it now?" Annie held up a Xena Costume consisting of a skimpy, short, leather outfit with armbands and a plastic sword.

"Perhaps later," Dawn answered her niece, ushering everyone further into the living room. Just as she sat down on the couch, the hosts of the party surfaced. "Bout time you two surfaced," Dawn grumbled good-naturedly.

Giles went to greet Wesley and Cordelia as Buffy leaned over the back of the couch and whispered in Dawn's ear, "Sorry Sis, got carried away."

"Oh that's gross. Don't give me any details."

Smiling, Buffy turned and noticed Spike helping himself to Giles' scotch. "Hey, what's Spike doing here?"

"Short story," Dawn replied. "He bribed his way in."

"Hmmm," Buffy answered over her shoulder as she went to rescue what was left of Giles liquor.

***************

Joyce sat fidgeting in the car, unable to articulate what she wanted to say to her date. Jim was a wonderful man, pleasant looking, kind, considerate and with a passion for art. They had known each other for over a year and whenever they met for business deals, each could feel the attraction. She really enjoyed his company and hadn't flirted so much in a long, long time. Then, three weeks ago, Jim had gotten up the courage to ask her out and she agreed at once, blushing at how eager she sounded. He had just taken her hand, smiled and said, "Phew. That went better than I thought." They had enjoyed three glorious weeks of day trips, dinner outings and late night smooches, and now the all-important meet the family time had come.

Jim put the car in Park and turned off the engine. They had arrived at the Giles residence and now Joyce sat trying to think of a way to ease him into the all-important first family gathering. 'Jim, if you notice anything odd with my family and friends, don't worry. It's just a Slayer and her Watcher, witches an ex-vengeance demon and maybe a vampire or two. No, that wouldn't do' she thought.

"Um, Jim, about my family..."

"Joyce. I must admit, I'm a bit nervous. I hope they like me."

Joyce smiled and gave him a kiss. "As long as you're a real, living, breathing person, they'll love you. Come on, let's go in."

Jim looked at her oddly. "Err, if you say so. Now what were you saying about your family?"

Joyce smiled, "It doesn't matter." He would find out for himself and if he did, indeed love her, he would accept them regardless.

As they walked up the path, they could hear music from the stereo, indicating the party was in full swing. Joyce knocked on the front door and waited, Jim fidgeting nervously beside her.

Buffy grabbed Giles hand and together they answered the door. She had already warned everybody to be on their best behaviour, threatening Spike with severe bodily damage if he so much as growled in Jims' direction after his antics with Annie. Giles had nearly had a heart attack when he overheard Spike telling Annie 'you show me yours and I'll show you mine.' He had raced from the Kitchen to find Spike and Annie in a "growl off" as they described it. Teeth barred, fingers clawed and growling as loud as they could into each other's faces, Spike in full vampire face and Annie doing her best to copy it. Kids!

Giles opened the door and extended his hand to Jim as Buffy greeted and hugged her mother. "Hello. You must be Jim? Rupert Giles," he said.

"Yes, nice to meet you Rupert. Jim, Jim Kirk," Jim replied, shaking Giles hand.

"Really!" Buffy couldn't hide the smirk on her face. "Jim Kirk?"

Even Giles, ignorant about most movie and TV cultural references, understood that one. "I'm sorry, Jim. My wife has a strange sense of humour. Please," Giles pointed to the living room, indicating they should come in. In this household they never invited anyone in.

Joyce and Jim entered and were soon introduced to the rest of the gang. Jim took the ribbing of his name on the chin and even joined in some of the jokes about it, making everyone feel at ease.

He didn't quite understand all the fuss when Xander had pointed to Spike and said, 'He's dead Jim.' The room had gone strangely quiet. Young Buffy had hit Xander on the arm and Rupert had choked on his beer. Joyce had rescued him, and together they moved away to talk to Wesley and Cordelia, hearing Xander's: "What? What did I say?"

The Summers tradition of opening one present on Christmas Eve was heartily agreed to by everyone. Large and small packages were exchanged with much kissing and laughter.

Even Jim received a gift from Willow. It was soft, round in shape, made up of some type of hessian material with a leather thong through it and produced an unusual smell. Although he didn't quite know what it was or what to do with it, he smiled and thanked her. Willow proudly told him she made all the protection charms herself and that they really worked. He noticed that Cordelia and Wesley had also received the unusual gifts and had placed them around their necks. 'Ah, that's what you do with them,' he thought and quietly slipped his own gift around his neck. 'Maybe it's a Jewish thing.'

Spike grumbled long and loud about not receiving anything, until Giles, sick of hearing him complain, went to his liquor cabinet and handed him an unopened bottle of Scotch. "Here, don't drink it all at once."

"Oh, Rupert. You shouldn't have," Spike replied.

Giles just shook his head and retuned to sit on the couch with Willow and Tara.

Annie's high-pitched squeal assaulted everyone's ears as she proudly displayed her toy guitar. "Wow, just like Daddy's." Annie scrambled up onto her father's lap and proudly showed him the guitar.

"Yes, sweetheart. Just like Daddy's," Giles replied fondly. He showed his daughter how to hold the guitar and where to place her fingers on the strings. Annie enthusiastically played away, much to everyone's amusement. When Giles glanced up, Buffy was standing in front of him, holding out his own guitar. "Play for us, Rupert?"

Giles looked around the room. There was so much love and affection emanating from his family and friends he felt overwhelmed. Settling Annie beside him on the couch, he swallowed the lump in his throat and took the guitar from Buffy's outstretched arms. "What would you like me to play?"

"You know the one I want," Buffy answered softy. She lightly brushed his cheek with her fingertips, before seating herself on the floor beside his legs.

Eyes overbright, Giles settled himself and quickly tuned the guitar. With a final glance at his beloved, he started to play. His voice, soft and intimate, carried to everyone in the room.

Have yourself a Merry little Christmas
Let your hearts be light
From now on, our troubles will be out of sight

Have yourself a merry little Christmas
Make the Yuletide gay
From now on, our troubles will be miles away

Here we are as in olden days
Happy golden days of yore
Faithful friends who are dear to us
Gather near to us once more

Through the years we all will be together
If the fates allow
Hang a shining star upon the highest bough
And have yourself a merry little Christmas now

When he had finished the song, Buffy reached up, captured his large hand in hers and placed a soft kiss in the centre of his palm. "Love you," she whispered.

Eyes shining, Giles glanced up and saw he was not the only one affected by the song. Clearing his throat, he said, "What's next?"

The requests came thick and fast from then on. 'Oh Come All Ye Faithful, Jingle Bell Rock, Let It Snow, Little Drummer Boy, Silent Night, I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus' much to Annie's delight.'

Eventually Giles stopped playing and pleaded for a drink. He had been singing for about twenty minutes and said his throat was parched. Giles overheard Cordelia say to Wesley 'Wow, that's sexy. Do you sing, Wesley?' Trying to hide his smile, he placed the guitar on the coffee table and glanced down at his wife sitting on the floor against his legs.

"She's right, you know. It's damn sexy," Buffy whispered for his ears alone. She reached over and grabbed a large square box wrapped in red and gold Christmas paper. "This is from me, Giles," she said and handed him the box.

Giles looked at her, intrigued. Buffy had a strange look in her eyes and a big grin on her face. He unwrapped his present and, turning the box right side up, stared at it. He could feel himself blushing and glanced down at Buffy. He brushed the back his fingers against her cheek and cleared his throat. "Thank you, my love, I... I'm sure I'll make good use out of it."

"I don't get it," Anya complained loudly. "It's just a kettle. That's not a very romantic present." She turned to face her longtime boyfriend, " Xander, don't get me one of those."

"Yeah. What's with the kettle, Sis?" Dawn smirked at her sister.

"Well, I for one think it's a great present." Willow defended her friends' choice in gifts. "Giles loves tea and what better way to make tea than in your brand new electric kettle." Willow leaned over and pointed at the box. "See Giles, these new ones even turn themselves off once they boil."

"Ah y... yes," Giles stuttered.

For a passionate man, Rupert Giles could still be very bashful. 'It must be his English upbringing,' Buffy thought, loving the way his face coloured brightly. No one else would be aware of the significance of the kettle and yet he still blushed, turning her insides to mush. God, how she loved him. Mindful of the others, she reached up and gave him a soft kiss on his lips. "Tea," Buffy asked him innocently and could see she didn't quite pull it off.

"Yes, splendid. Would you care to join me?" Giles asked, rising to his feet and pulling her up with him. Clutching his new electric kettle under his arm, he escorted her to the kitchen amid shouts of 'Yes please. Can I have coffee? Tea for me. I wouldn't mind a hot chocolate, got any of those little marshmallows?'

After kissing his wife senseless behind closed doors, Giles returned with a tray full of hot drinks. Buffy followed behind with a plate of home made chocolate chip cookies.

"Um, Giles?"

"Yes, Willow?"

"You missed a bit." Willow reached up and wiped the remaining lipstick off his cheek. She watched him blush and smiled to herself, 'same old Giles.' Willow returned to her seat and saw Tara's answering smile. Willow loved the people in this room, well maybe not Spike, in the actual love sense and she really couldn't include Jim, having just met him, but Tara, Giles, Buffy, Annie, Joyce, Dawn, Xander, Anya in her own special way, Wesley and Cordelia, ok, she sometimes still had issues with Cordelia and Wesley had improved with age, but they were all her family. And even though she didn't celebrate Christmas, being Jewish and all, she celebrated the coming together of her family.

At 11.00pm, Joyce and Jim said their goodbyes and Annie was finally put to bed. She had fallen asleep, cradled in her father's arms, half an hour before and Giles had just let her sleep, cherishing the quiet time with his daughter. He returned from tucking her into bed, just as Buffy was saying good-bye to Dawn.

"Um, Dawn. Why was Annie wearing her Barbie top under her dress?" Giles asked, amused.

"Well, that kid of yours can be mighty stubborn. She wanted to wear the tank top, so we had to compromise."

"Annie gets stubborn from Rupert," Buffy replied, straight-faced.

Giles snorted. "I like to call it determined. She acquired stubborn from you," he rejoined, hugging Buffy against his side.

"Bye, munchkin. See you tomorrow. Come on Giles, you still have Santa duties to perform."

"Cor, mate. We haven't got all night! Just put part A with part B, screw them there bolts in, and then, Bobs your uncle."

"Spike, enough!" Giles was rapidly losing patience as he grabbed the wheel off Spike yet again. "I tried that. The bleedin' bolts don't fit in the bloody holes," he replied irritably. "Hey, is that Santa's beer you're drinking?"

"Er," Spike squirmed. "Xander ate the cookies!"

"Bloody marvellous. I'm the one doing all the work here and I can't even enjoy my own daughter's thoughtful offerings to Santa!"

"The carrot's still there," Xander replied helpfully.

"I think that's for the Reindeer," Wesley answered seriously.

Kneeling on the floor in the Study, with numerous bits and pieces scattered around him, Giles sighed and began searching for the correct size bolts again. He had been doing this for the past half-hour and his so called 'helpers' weren't exactly being helpful.

"You boys need a hand in there?" Buffy asked as she watched the menfolk try to assemble a little girl's bicycle. The girls had retired to the living room, while the menfolk were in the study assembling Annie's new bike.

"No. No. It's all under control," Giles answered back, running his hand through his hair and reading the instructions yet again.

"R i g h t," Buffy replied dryly, reading the signs. Giles was getting frustrated. She rejoined the girls in the living room and said, "Men!"

Willow, Tara, Anya and Cordelia nodded in agreement, and then resumed discussing Jim, the new man to enter their world.

*******************

Buffy awoke slowly and glanced at the clock on the bedside table. It was seven forty-two. The last of the guests had left around 1.00am and Spike had left twenty minutes later when she had cut off the booze supply. Buffy recalled Giles and Spike sitting on the couch like long lost mates, downing drinks and seriously discussing Xena. Giles insisting that his Slayer could kick Xena's butt anytime. The merits of Xena's costume were extolled by both men and she remembered Giles' delighted 'They come in Slayer size, you say?' comment before she had had enough and kicked Spike out. Men!

She closed her eyes again and stretched, enjoying the way her muscles responded. She also enjoyed the feel of Giles body tucked behind her, spoon fashion, his arm wrapped around her waist and his legs nestled under hers. She could feel his semi aroused state, felt her body start to respond and wondered if they would have time to do something about it before their peace was shattered by an excited five year old.

"Mm, morning my love. Merry Christmas," Giles gravelly voice mumbled near her ear. His hand found its way to her left breast, leisurely massaging her nipple, sending little jolts of pleasure throughout her body. He started to kiss the back of her neck, pulling her in tighter against his body to enjoy the contact further.

"Good morning, sweetie." She twisted in Giles arms to kiss him on the lips, "Merry Christmas to you too." She slipped her leg between his legs and lightly ran her fingers up and down his hip and upper thigh. "What are the chances we could finish this before one very excited little girl wakes up?"

"Hmmm, shall we find out?" He rolled onto his back taking her with him.

Buffy ended up with her body on top of his and she reached up to give him a long, thorough kiss. She explored his mouth with her tongue, then teased his lips with her teeth. She could feel his cock pressed against her stomach and was more than willing to give Giles his Christmas present early.

A sudden sound from the monitor made them both jump apart, giggling. Their pride and joy was stirring. Smiling, Giles said, "I believe that puts an end to that, Mrs Giles." He kissed her softly on the lips and then threw back the covers, rising to find his jeans.

Buffy sat back, admiring the view. At fifty-four, Giles was in exceptional shape. He was fit, toned and well muscled, benefits from training a Slayer and running after an energetic five-year-old. He also had fantastic endurance and stamina, which definitely benefited them both. A little more grey had appeared in his hair, around his temples and on his chest and rather than making him look old, all it did was make him look more distinguished, sexy, desirable. Buffy sighed blissfully as Giles reached down to pick up his jeans. It gave her a superb view of his firm backside. She could watch the Watcher all day, especially the naked variety.

He turned at the sound and seeing her lustful look, grinned. "Tonight, my love, I'm all yours."

Giles stepped into his jeans, pulled them up his legs and reached for the zipper. Thinking of giving him a taste of what was to come that night, Buffy rose from her sitting position to help. "Here, Rupert, allow me." She took her time to tuck his equipment in, giving his member a final squeeze. "There," she said, satisfied.

"Just about," Giles replied, delighting in the shivers that ran down his body.

Smiling to herself, Buffy slipped on her dressing gown and was startled when the bedroom door crashed open. "He's been! He's been!" Annie shouted excitedly, jumping up and down, hands waving madly.

"And who would that be, Annie?" Giles asked solemnly, merriment in his eyes.

"Santa Claus Daddy! Santa Claus!" Dismayed with her parents' slow response, Annie impatiently grabbed their hands and hurried them to the living room. "Look?"

While her parents watched, Annie went straight for the biggest present. Hidden under a blanket with a bright red bow tied around it, stood a little girls pink bicycle, complete with training wheels, a basket in front and pink and white streamers hanging from the handlebars.

Screaming with joy, Annie climbed onto the seat, "Look! Look what Santa gave me, Daddy. It's even got go fast streamers and... and Mummy, it's pink, my favourite colour.

Buffy nodded as she watched Giles clear a path around the living room for Annie to ride her brand new bike. "Where's the Barbie bell for the bike, Santa?" she whispered when Giles returned to her side.

"Bloody Spike! The pillock was playing with it last night, while I was assembling the bike. I'll just have a look in the Study." He returned triumphant a moment later, with one pink Barbie bell held in one hand, and a spanner in the other.

"Sweetheart. Look what Santa left for you!" Giles said, ringing the bell.

"Oh! A Barbie bell. Wow! Put it on, Daddy. Right there," she indicated the left side handlebar.

Giles sat down on the couch after attaching the bell and pulled Buffy onto his lap. They lovingly cuddled, while watching their daughter ride her new bike around the room, excitedly ringing the bell for all it was worth.

"Oh," Buffy winced hearing the bell yet again. "Perhaps, Santa could've forgotten that bell until a little later." She snuggled further into his arms and received an answering squeeze.

"Mm," Giles replied, kissing the top of her head in agreement.

After unwrapping all the presents, Annie was quite content to sit and play with her new dollhouse, while her parents took turns to shower and change. At 9.00am, the front doorbell rang, interrupting Giles. He stopped playing with Annie's doodle-board and got up off the floor to answer the door. He gave Annie's bent head an affectionate tussle as he passed. She looked up at him smiling, and his heart melted. 'She's got you wrapped around her little finger' he thought to himself, strangely not minding in the least.

Giles unlocked and opened the front door to find Joyce and Dawn standing there. "Good Lord! Is that snow?" he exclaimed, viewing the outside world. Everything, from lawn to cars parked in the street, was covered with a least a foot of snow.

"And Merry Christmas to you too, Rupert," Joyce teased.

"Buffy's got a bright one there, Mom," Dawn drawled. She loved teasing Giles. It was just so easy. He may be old and stuffy sometimes, but he was always there for her. Particularly in her younger years, when trouble found her, no matter what she did. Dawn had to admit, for a brother-in-law, he was pretty damn good, but she would never tell him that.

"Forgive me. Merry Christmas, Joyce, Dawn." He kissed them both and escorted them into the house. "Just in time, actually. Buffy's in the kitchen preparing waffles, I believe."

Giles gaze returned to the open front door. He couldn't believe it. Snow. Again. Sunnydale never ceased to amaze him. Every year at Christmas time, it snowed. He was reminded of England and felt a pang of nostalgia. He could remember times, spent frolicking in the snow as a very young lad, surrounded by family and friends.

"Sweetie. Breakfast's ready," Buffy called from the Kitchen.

Smiling, Giles closed the door, shutting away the cold and thoughts of England. He was right where he wanted and needed to be. He picked his daughter up, swung her onto his shoulders and together they joined Joyce and Dawn at the dining room table. After depositing Annie into her chair, he proceeded to the Kitchen, to help Buffy with the food.

Buffy felt strong arms encircle her waist and lips brushing against her hair. "Love you, Mrs Giles," he said, embracing her tighter.

Buffy turned, so she could face the man she loved. She placed her hands behind his neck and slowly drew his unresisting head down toward her. "Love you too, Mr Giles," she replied. She stood on her tiptoes and kissed his lips softly. "Merry Christmas, sweetie."

"Merry Christmas, love." Giles returned the kiss. A sweet, undemanding declaration of his love.

"I'm hungry!" Annie complained loudly, breaking into her parents' quiet moment. "Can I wear my Xena clothes today?"

 
THE END