The Twelfth Gift
By Darcy Galvan

Title: The Twelfth Gift
Author: Darcy Galvan
Rating: G (or happy, whichever you prefer)
Spoilers: None, I should think
Disclaimer: Don't I just wish I owned them instead of Joss and Mutant   and all those other groovy people?  You bet!
Summary: Giles gets better gifts than a bird in a tree and a bunch of fruity dancers.
Author's Note: This is my first attempt at a happy fic (Mother would be so proud) so be gentle.  I'm used to angst aplenty, violence, and maybe some sniffles thrown in...this is weird for me.  Darn, I've chipped a nail.  ENjoy this as I go repair it.


Monday, December 13, 1999

Spike is gone.  I can't say that I'm sad to see the fellow go, though I am a bit depressed at the thought that he's coming back.  He's only gone for Christmas.  He stated, and I quote, "I can't stand Christmas.  Matter of fact, I despise the whole bloody season.  Everyone is always 'oh, here, you take this!' 'no, I insist!' 'here, let me help you!' 'I'm having a party with my pouffy society friends and we're going to sniff at thousand dollar an egg caviar and toast and get utterly plastered on out billion buck champagne!' And I don't even get to eat *one* of the toffs this year!  Merry bleedin' Christmas!  I'll be back at New Years.  Least *those* drunkards are interesting."  He used his lovely imitations of people and several dramatic hand gestures.  The only reason I remember is because he nearly took my damned head off and such emotion tends to lodge itself quite irritatingly in my brain.  One would think that...

***

Giles placed the pen down on his open journal with a soft click when he heard the knock at the door.  He knew that, being dismissed from his position as Watcher, he was no longer required to keep a journal, but he found it comforting.  The routine of putting pen to paper was calming and letting his thoughts out into the plain, leather bound book eased his mind a
bit.

He stood and shoved the sleeves of his sweater back above his elbows.  When was the last time he'd worn one of the tweed suits the children had so mercilessly teased him about?  Opening the door, he faced only the silence of the courtyard, glowing softly with the white lights that the lovely little Mrs. Bates had strung up.  Delightful old creature she was.  Baked him gingersnaps last week, his favorite.  Looking round he was about to close the door when he saw a small package sitting on the step.  He frowned lightly and picked the package up, shutting the door and walking back to his desk.   It was wrapped in silver paper with an angel design embossed on it, tied with a simple green ribbon.

Giles gently opened the package and smiled softly, thoughtfully at the green with silver edges fountain pen that emerged.  It wrote in a lovely, midnight blue ink.  Giles hurried out of the apartment and to the entrance of the complex.  No one.  Shaking his head, he slowly made his way back to his home.

***

The same silver paper, only this time, tied with a red bow.  The gift inside the wrapping was a small, leather bound book with a design of interlocking lines surrounding a tree.

< Perhaps the children? > Giles thought.  They were giving him early Christmas presents. A smile crossed his face and he began fixing himself dinner.

***

Tea.  Peppermint tea, to be exact.  He was running out of his own stash of it, actually.  He generally drank Earl Grey or perhaps something a bit more exotic if he felt like it, but he saved peppermint for when he wanted to relax.  Perfect.

***

One of the blankets was a rich chestnut color, soft as down feathers, and was wrapped in mossy green paper and a gold ribbon.  The other, wrapped in red and silver, was the color of emeralds under water, smooth and soft as the other.  Giles raised an eyebrow.  Things were shaping up interestingly.

***

The next evening, Giles opened a delicate crystal goblet.  Most interesting.

***

And the next evening, the first goblet's twin appeared.

***

On the nineteenth of December,  Giles nearly kicked over a bottle of sparkling cider, tied with multicolored ribbons when he opened the door.

"Bloody hell," he muttered, grabbing the precariously rocking bottle lighting fast.  He glanced down at the bottle and saw a little card adorned with seven swans and intertwining vines.  He shook his head and flipped it over.  One simple word was printed on the back in cursive: wait.

"I certainly hope that I'm not agreeing to a date with a psychopath by fault of taking this inside," he muttered with a grin.

***

A package of gingersnaps showed up the next night.  Another card with "wait" written on it -- this time adorned with two geese forming an eight -- was attatched to the package.

***

On the twenty-first, Giles grinned as he walked to the door.  His odd mind had asked if perhaps today he would receive a table or a roasted pig with an apple in its mouth.  On this evening, as on previous occasions, he'd had the urge to stand guard at a window and try to spy the mystery gift-giver.  "No, no, old man," he said to himself.  "Let's not ruin it.  If they don't want to be spotted, we won't ruin it for them.  Unless perhaps they've booby trapped a gift, then they shall be beaten severly."  But there were no booby traps, no pigs, no tables.  There was a calendar sitting on the step.  He picked it up and observed that Christmas Eve had been circled and a quick, sketchy gift had been drawn inside the circle.  Giles' eyes widened.   "My, maybe I have set myself up with a date."

***

When the fire log appeared on the twenty-second, Giles was beginning to feel a bit apprehensive.  Certainly this had to be the children, didn't it?  He'd suspected it was when the pen and the journal had first arrived.  They all knew that he'd written religiously in his.  However, later, the gifts had become more...general.  The first two didn't necessarily indicate a knowledge of his former Watcher status.  Maybe they just indicated that the giver had assumed he would be the type to enjoy writing.  < Stop wracking your brain.  Whoever it is, it is.  They will show up the day after tomorrow (for that is what he'd assumed was meant by the circled date on the calendar) and we'll find out who it is then. >  Lord, he hoped it was one of the children.

***

A pair of gray, flannel slippers appeared on his door step on the twenty-third.

"Slippers?  Real night of relaxation, eh?"  He sighed deeply tomorrow...tomorrow.

***

Giles placed the fire log in the fireplace and set the goblets on the table.   Rubbing his hands on the sides of his legs he berated himself for being nervous.  < I'm only a little nervous, > part of him argued.  < It's only natural when you're about to spend and evening with someone who has the potential to be a complete and utter psycopath capable of...stop it right now, brain. >  He sat down on the couch and picked up his book, trying to relax.  In a few minutes, he'd actually begun to catch interest in the words and enjoy the story when there was a knock at the door.  He fairly threw the book across the room before quickly composing himself and setting the novel back on the bookshelf  and making his way to the door.  He counted to three and pulled the door open.

"Buffy!" Giles said in mild shock.  Buffy stood before him in loose lavendar flannel pants, a pair of slippers that matched those Giles had found the previous evening,  and a sweater, hair tied sweetly in two braids.  She was blushing prettily and tugging at the red-gold bow that adorned her upper right arm.

"Merry Christmas, sort of," she said.  "How do you like the last present?"

"Delightful," he said, giving her a genuine smile.  Before he could go on, she jumped in.

"Sorry if I freaked you out with all the stalker-like stuff and I didn't want to make you think I was like, seducing you with the blankets and sparkling cider and stuff.  I just wanted to, you know, have a night to talk.  I mean, we never talk anymore.  I guess it's not like we ever did, huh?  Stupid us.  I mean, it's been like, years that we've known each other and we never really just talk unless it's about vampires or demons or the next big apocolyptic curse about to befall the world.  I just wanted to be with you.  To talk and just, sit. Did you like the stuff?  I'm going to stop talking now, okay?  Because I think I'm just embarrassing myself more this way."  She smiled.

"Come in, Buffy," Giles said, ushering her inside and closing the door.  He set her down on the couch and handed her the green blanket with a smile.  "Just a moment."  He hurried over and lit the fire log and then retrieved the sparkling cider and box of gingersnaps and returned to the living room, setting them down and then settling himself on the couch.

"I didn't make the cookies myself because I thought poisoning you on our talking night might be a slightly bad idea."

"Probably," Giles said.  He turned to her and spoke seriously, but his face pulled in a half smile.  "Buffy, I believe this is the most wonderful present I have ever recieved in my life, and I am not saying that just to assuage your nervousness.  It was an amazing idea, and I must say, I'm rather ashamed I didn't think of it myself."

"Really?  Cool.  Because, I mean, I'm just glad you don't think I'm a total creepy nut job for doing this.  This is great."  She smiled widely and curled up, tucking the blanket around herself.  Giles pulled his own blanket into his lap and leaned back, relaxing greatly.  "Oh, and Giles?  You've gotta give the cups back when I leave, 'cause they're from Mom's good set and she'd totally wig if they were missing."

Giles laughed, really laughed and it warmed Buffy all over to hear that rare, deep, wonderful sound.  "Fair enough."

At first, they weren't quite sure what to talk about, they so rarely had personal conversations other than the daily chatter and nonsense.  But soon, they had settled into a comfortable give and take pattern of bantering, reminiscing, serious discussion, and the much rarer, much more precious all-out silliness.  The cider disappeared first, then slowly, but steadily, the cookies disappeared as the log burned down, casting a mellow, liquid gold light around the room, blending the edges softly into darkness in the corners.  When it was out, they didn't even pause, just turned on a lamp sufficient to illuminate the couch.  As the night wore on, they'd also shifted positions on the couch, unconsciously moving closer and closer together.  Soon, Buffy was leaning against Giles side, his arm draped across her shoulders and the back of the couch.

"Giles?"

"Hmm?"

"What time do you think it is?"

"I haven't the slightest idea."

Buffy shrugged and turned to look at him, considering.  A moment later, she leaned forward and kissed him sweetly on the lips.  He blinked, startled, but didn't quite know how to react.

"Merry Christmas, Giles."  She curled against his side, tucking her head comfortably against his neck.

He stroked her cheek and pressed a long, soft kiss on her forehead.  "Merry Christmas, Buffy."

END