“Hey Will, are you excited about your birthday this weekend?” Xander asked as they walked down the halls at school.

“Yeah... it's not everyday you turn eighteen,” she replied.

“Do you think G'man will be back by then?”

“I'm not sure, I can't believe he's been gone four months already,” she said as they continued towards the library.

“It's good to hear from him, every now and then. But man, it's always, 'Willow, research this, Willow research that'. Geez, you'd think he'd have something else to say,” Xander said.

Willow blushed, hoping her best friend wouldn't look in her direction.

“So, what have your parents got planned?”

“I don't know we haven't talked about it yet. I know turning eighteen is a big deal, but, I'm not sure I want a party, you know me,” she told him.

“Yeah... I do. Hey... how about if we head to the Bronze tomorrow night, you know. Kind of a pre-birthday party party,” he said, his head moving from side to side in that manner that was all Xander, opening the door to the library.

“That sounds great.”

“Hello Xander, Willow.”

“Hi Shaester, what's goin' on?” Xander asked, heading for his spot at the table.

Willow groaned inwardly, somewhere along the line, Xander had begun calling Miss Foster by that nickname.

The fact that she thought it was cute, surprised her no end.

“Well, ever since that problem last month, everything seems to be going smoothly, for right now, but of course that could change at any time. The only one who seems to be busy is Willow, with all the research Mr. Giles is asking her to do.”

“That's what I like about you Shaester... always looking for that bright side of life,” Xander quipped.

“Hey guys.”

“Hey Buff.”

“So, what's up?” she asked, as she sat on the edge of the table.

“I think we can skip patrolling the rest of the week. It's been very quiet,” Shae answered.

“Cool. So... birthday girl, have any plans?” Buffy asked, turning towards Willow.

“Xander was suggesting a pre-party party at the Bronze tomorrow,” she replied.

“I'm there, I'll bring Angel.”

“Great... you'll come, won't you Miss Foster?” Willow asked.

“Yeah... it'll give you a chance to relax and party hardy Shaester,” Xander added.

“You wouldn't mind?” Shae asked.

“Oh no! I would like you to be there, if you can,” Willow said.

“I'd love to Willow, thank you,” Shae replied.

The bell for first period brought the discussion to a halt.

“Well, another day, another step towards fast food management,” Xander bemoaned, getting out of the chair.

They arranged to meet later at the cafeteria to talk about the party.

When Willow arrived at her house after school, her mother called her into the kitchen.

“Yes Mom?”

“These came for you,” Mrs. Rosenberg said, gesturing to the kitchen table.

In the middle of the table was a bouquet of roses, white ones mixed in with yellow one, with a single red rose in the center.

“Mom... you and Daddy didn't have to do this,” she said walking towards them.

“We didn't.”

“You didn't? Then who?” she asked reaching for the card. Opening it she read:

'I hope your birthday is
a memorable one.

Thanks for researching (for) me.

Rupert Giles.


“Who sent the flowers honey?”

“Oh... they're from Mr. Giles.”

“Isn't that the school librarian?”

“Yes he is. That was nice, he remembered my birthday.”

“Are you going to call and thank him?”

“I can't, he's in England. He asked me to do some research on the Internet for him, before he comes back.”

“Well, that was nice of him. Maybe you could invite him over for dinner when he returns, as a thank you gesture?” Mrs. Rosenberg said. She wondered about the other flowers her daughter had received five months ago, could he have given them to her?

“Um... okay?”

“Your daddy and I have decided to let you plan what you'd like to do for your birthday, on Saturday.”

“Well, I'm meeting everyone at the Bronze tomorrow night. I'm not sure I really want to do anything on Saturday.”

“Whatever you decide, let us know by tomorrow, in case we need to pick up anything.”

“I will Mom,” Willow replied.

Willow took the flowers with her upstairs to her bedroom. She knew that she would take one of the white roses, along with a yellow one, and the single red rose, and press them in her scrapbook. They would be next to the ones he had given her months ago.

Rupert had kept informed on what had happened when he returned to England for the inquiry.

The whole process had taken another week to wrap up. It was an open and shut case. The most damning piece of evidence was the tape, and there was nothing Matthew could do to refute the images that played on the television screen.

The reports requested by Sir Henry had also helped the case against Matthew. Xander's recollection that Matthew was the man Giles had identified as Jason Mercury, helped proved malice aforethought.

In the end, Matthew was stripped of his rank and sent to a sister house in Amsterdam; he would be kept under 24-hour guard, while he worked under the supervision of the director of the Amsterdam branch.

The various men, who were in Matthew's group, were scattered to other houses located around the world, and they would not be allowed contact with any member of the team. They had been informed that they could return to England if... if their superiors had deemed that they seemed remorseful for their actions, and only after a period of ten years.

The only exception to this was Matthew.

He had been permanently banned from returning to England...

In the eventuality of his death, his remains would be buried in Amsterdam as well.

“Of course he swore vengeance on everyone associated with the proceedings, which did nothing to improve his standing with the members of the high council,” Rupert had told her after the decision had been made.

Willow was immediately concerned for his welfare, but there was nothing she could do. She knew Rupert would take every precaution he could.

Willow placed the flowers on her nightstand. Taking her backpack off, she went to her computer. She was pleasantly surprised when Rupert had requested that she should start finding a computer for him.

He finally decided to buy the infernal contraption as he called it. He conceded that it did have its merits, now and then.

Not that he would ever give up his books, they were too much a part of him.

She agreed whole-heartedly.

By the time she had gone to sleep that night, she had told her parents that she didn't want a big party. Her mother said she would make Willow's favorite meal and Willow would invite Buffy and the others for a family dinner.

The Bronze was packed, which was nothing new as it was the only place for teenagers.

The entire Scooby gang had gathered to celebrate Willow's impending birthday.

Buffy and Angel came together, and as usual, Buffy was dressed to kill. While Angel wore black.


Willow smiled when she saw them enter. She gave Angel a special smile, ever since that night when he had given her the cameo, he would drop by and they would talk about his past...

His family.

They had formed a deeper bond with each other.

Buffy had spoken with her about it once had said that she understood that there were times when 'Angel needs to talk, and I can't be here for him, but I'm glad he's got you to talk with'.

“Hi Buffy... Angel,” she said as they joined the others at the table.

“Hey Will,” Buffy said.

“Hello Willow,” Angel replied. “Where's Harris?” he asked, looking around.

“He went to call Cordy,” Willow replied.

“And speak of the devil. Hey Xander!” Buffy called out as he came back.

“Buffy... dead boy.”


“I hope I'm not too late?”


“Miss Foster?”

Xander's mouth dropped open.

Miss Foster had arrived.

Gone were the normal everyday clothes that they had seen her in. Instead she was wearing form fitting black jeans, and a pale blue silk blouse, with the top two buttons open, exposing a long neck. A gold necklace with a small crucifix hung from it. To top it off, she wore black boots with a shine that would have done a Marine proud.

Cordelia arrived in time to shut Xander's mouth with an audible snap.

“Um... hi Cordy,” Xander said.

“Don't hi Cordy me, Alexander Harris. She's Buffy's Watcher for God's sake!”

“Nothing wrong with a little higher education honey,” he said.

Willow silently concurred with him.

“Well, Willow, how do the prospects of turning eighteen look to you?” Shae said, taking Xander's comments in stride.

“Oh... I can't wait. There are so many things I want to do, register to vote, first off. Maybe think about getting a car? Think about what school I'll be going to, so many things...”

“That's a nice ring you're wearing Willow,” Cordelia said out-loud.


Cordelia reached out and grabbed Willow's hand. “This ring. I haven't seen you wear it before, I would have noticed.”

'Damn!' she thought. She had forgotten to take it off. She usually kept it pinned to the inside of whatever shirt she was wearing, she had been doing that ever since Rupert had gone back to England the second time.

She'd promised herself that she would keep the ring as close to her as she possibly could, without wearing it. “Oh... that... that ring,” she looked over to Buffy, who looked as surprised as she felt.

“Hey, I've never seen it before either. Is it a birthday present from your folks?” Xander asked.

“Nice quality, you don't see this kind of workmanship anymore,” Cordelia said, eyeing the ring.

“Um... no, it's... it's not from my parents,” Willow replied.

“I like it, but, if I were you, I'd switch it to your right hand, unless you want people to think you're married,” Cordelia said.

“Oh... yeah... thanks,” Willow said, taking the ring off and placing it on her right ring finger.

“Say, how 'bout we get something to drink?” Buffy said.

“Drinks... drinks sound good to me, not that I've started drinking or anything like that...”

“Come on Will,” Buffy said, dragging her friend before she continued her ramble.

The two friends walked away from the group.

“Thanks Buffy.”

“No problem. So... have you heard when Giles might be coming back?” she asked as they made their way to the snack bar.

“No... I haven't. It shouldn't be much longer though.”

“I didn't think Xander was ever going to close his mouth...” Buffy said, gathering the drinks.

“Yeah, if it hadn't been for Cordy... who knows what would have happened?” Willow giggled.

“Shae certainly looks different, that's for sure,” Buffy said.

“Who knew?”

“Yeah, I could probably say that I have the two best looking Watchers in the business,” Buffy said.

Willow smiled. “Oh, I think you do too.”

“I guess we better head back before Xander tries to help us out,” Buffy said, taking three of the cups, while Willow took the other two.

The rest of the evening was filled with laughter and shared memories of past events of Willow's life. Willow danced with both Xander and Angel, and although she loved the attention she was getting from her friends, it wasn't the same.

Someone was missing.

She noticed that her eyes were drawn to the ring from time to time; she hoped no one else had caught her.

She turned her attention to the dance floor.

Angel was dancing with Miss Foster.

He had said that he had never danced with a Watcher before, and he wasn't going to let the opportunity pass him by.

“Happy Birthday Willow!!” Xander said getting up from his seat and handing her the present, he gave her a kiss on the cheek before returning to his seat.

“Xander! It isn't my birthday yet,” she said accepting the gift for her oldest friend.

“Take a look at the time Will,” he told her.

Willow glanced at her watch, it read: 12:01am.

She had been eighteen for all of one minute.

“Happy birthday Will.”

“Happy birthday Willow.”

They all gave her presents.

“Miss Foster, you didn't have to,” Willow said when the librarian handed her a present.

“Let's just call it a thank you gift for all the help you've been, okay?”

“Okay... I don't know what to say.”

“How 'bout, Oh Xander, you shouldn't have, after you've opened my present,” he said. “Hey, watch the ribs,” he told Cordelia, after she elbowed him.

“I'll open them later, I promise.”

“Well, I hate to be a party pooper, but if I'm expected to look my best tonight, I need to get home and get my beauty sleep,” Cordelia said.

“Yeah... I should be getting back myself,” Xander said.

The party broke up soon after.

Cordelia took Xander home.

Miss Foster offered the others a ride home, but Willow wanted to walk. Buffy and Angel would be with her so she didn't fear for her safety.

While they were walking in the direction of Willow's house, she stopped and turned to Buffy.

“Um... Buffy? Could... could we go to Rupert's apartment?”

“Sure... why?”

“Angel... could you excuse us a minute? Please?”

“Of course,” he replied, then walked a few feet away. He knew that he'd still be able to hear the conversation due to his acute sense of hearing.

“I... I think. Buffy, I miss him... and I... thought if I was around his things, I might not miss him as much...”

Buffy looked at Willow.

“I thought I could spend the night on his couch... maybe?”

“What about your parents?” Buffy asked, not buying the reason, but she had no proof to say that Willow was being less than honest with her.

“I could... I could say I was with you?”

“I don't know...”

“Please Buffy... just tonight. I won't ask again, I promise.”

“All right, just tonight,” Buffy replied.

“Thank you Buffy... thanks.”

“I'll probably regret this later on...” Buffy muttered to herself.

They arrived at Giles' apartment ten minutes later.

Buffy took the key off and handed it to Willow.

“Be careful... call me if you need anything, you got me?”

“I will thanks again,” Willow said placing the key in the lock, “I'll take those now Angel,” she said, taking the presents from him. “Goodnight Buffy, night Angel. I'll see you later tonight, won't I Angel?”

“I'll be there birthday girl,” he told her.

“See ya Will,” Buffy said.

Willow waited until Buffy and Angel had started walking away before opening the door. She entered Rupert's apartment, closing the door behind her. She searched for the light switch, finding it, she flipped it up.

“I didn't think you were going to make it...”


Willow's face beamed.

“I... I didn't think Buffy was going to give me the key,” she replied, turning around.

“Happy birthday Willow,” Giles said, getting up from the couch and walking towards her.

Willow put the gifts down and ran the short distance, jumping into his waiting arms. Giles caught her, and held her close.

“Did you have a good time?” he asked.

“Yes, but I wished you could have been there,” she said.

“This is your day Willow, you should be with your friends. Ah... Will... um... Willow, what... what are you doing?”

“Nothing... much,” she replied, letting her hands roam across his back. Smiling to herself when she felt him arch in her embrace.

“You... you really shouldn't do that,” he stammered.

“What? This?” she asked coyly.

She located the sensitive area once more, letting her blunt fingernails slowly trail a path over it.

“Ye... yess... that!” he said, as he became aware of how closely their bodies were pressed against each other.

He tried to pull away; she would have none of it.

“You have no excuses now Rupert, not one,” she told him, reaching up with one hand and bringing his face down towards hers and kissing him.

Both his eyebrows raised in complete surprise.

He knew he should stop...

He also knew he didn't want to and gave in when she became insistent upon gaining access to his mouth. He picked her up and slowly walked backward, until the back of his knees came in contact with the armrest of the couch. He let himself fall back, taking Willow with him.

“Wheee,” she said joyfully. “You're trapped now... you do know that, don't you?”

“Oh yes,” he answered in a husky tone.

Willow swallowed nervously.

Giles saw the hesitation on her face.

“Willow, we don't have to do anything...”

“I... I... want.”

“Shh... darling, I love you, no matter what. Whether we do anything right now or not, won't change how I feel about you. I don't want you to think that you have to do something you're not ready for,” he tried to reassure her.

“You wouldn't be mad?”

“Mad? No... not mad, I won't say that I wouldn't be disappointed, but never mad. I believe when you're truly ready you'll know. I... ah... I hope to know shortly thereafter,” he said smiling.

“I do love you Rupert,” Willow told him.

“Of that I have no doubt, I love you too,” he replied.

Willow loved feeling his body underneath hers, the warmth radiating from him. Her hand began tracing her name on his chest.

'Oh, I do want you Rupert... I do,' she thought.

She felt his arms wrap themselves around her.

“Try to get some sleep Willow,” he said, letting his right hand slowly caress her back. “Where are you going?” he asked when he felt her moving.

“I've got to be heavy for you?”

“You're not. I... um... I like it, to be honest,” he replied.

“Are you sure?”

“Positive,” he answered.

As she closed her eyes, she felt a weight being lifted off her shoulders. It would happen, perhaps not now, but it would.

Giles woke up, completely unaware that he had fallen asleep. He frowned for a brief second, then smiled, he noticed that their breathing patterns had become in sync.

Looking at his watch, he saw that it was almost 6:30 in the morning, and as much as he loved staying right were he was, he needed to use the restroom.

“Willow? Willow?”

“Hmm?” came the sleepy reply.

“I... um... I need to use the bathroom.”

“Okay... it's your place,” she mumbled.

“Yes, but... I... I can't, not with you on me,” he said apologetically.

“Sorry,” she said, and promptly rolled off him and on to the floor. “Ow!!”

“Oh God, Willow are you all right?” he asked, never thinking that she would move so quickly.

“Yes... I'm fine. I've probably bruised me ego, but otherwise, I'm great,” she said sarcastically.

Giles helped her up to her feet.

“I'll be right back... um, make... make yourself at home,” he told her before leaving.

She had remembered the other times she had been in his apartment, but this was the first time she was alone with him. Buffy or Xander had been with her before.

“Rupert? You can get some of these albums on CD's you know,” she called out over her shoulder looking through his collection.

“Yes, but I like having albums. CD's are so... sterile? With an album, you can hear all the little imperfections, the hisses and pops,” he said.

“Oh... okay, if you put it that way. Um...”

“Ah... yes, I'm done.”

“Thanks,” Willow said heading toward the bathroom.

Giles retrieved the present he had bought Willow before leaving England. As soon as he saw it, he knew he had to buy it. He sat back down on the couch, turning the gift over and over in his hands. He hoped she'd like it.

“Um... happy birthday Willow,” he said, getting up and handing her the box when she had returned.

“Rupert... it's beautiful,” she said, after opening the gift, she took the gold chain out. It was at least 22 inches long, and hanging in the center was a pearl encased in a gold sphere.

“May I?” he asked.

“Oh... yes, please,” she replied, handing him the necklace.

Willow felt his hands brush against her neck, as he put the necklace on her, she shivered.

“There you are,” he replied. He missed her long hair, the silky strands of fire. Willow had sent him a picture of her new haircut through the mail. It had taken a few days, but in the end he liked her new look.

He went around to face her, looking at the necklace, the way it drew attention to her...

'Snap out of it,' he told himself. He smiled. It looked perfect on her.

Gazing into Willow's face he noticed the look she was giving him, he swallowed.

'Good lord,' he thought, he had never seen the look before. She had a predatory look about her.

“Do you need your glasses on all the time Rupert?”

“Ma... my glasses? Um... no... not all the time,” he replied.

“Good,” Willow stated, as she reached up and took them off, closing the frames and placing the glasses on the coffee table.

“There's... there's no hurry,” he told her.

“Oh... I don't plan to hurry Rupert,” she said, letting her hand slide up his chest.

“Will... Willow, I... I need to be sure. I... yes, I may not be able to stop myself... if... if we go farther...”

“I'm sure Rupert... I'm sure,” she told him, silencing him with a kiss fueled by passion and desire.

Giles wrapped his arms around her, his right hand going to the back of her head.

She demanded entrance into his mouth, which he gladly gave her.

He couldn't get enough of tasting her mouth; he could feel her breath on his cheek coming from her nose in short bursts. He could feel her hands running through his hair, down his back before returning to his hair, sometimes pulling on it.

He broke the kiss, breathing heavily, and began kissing down her throat, smiling as she turned to give him more access.

Willow was hard pressed to keep her thoughts from becoming incoherent. Her hands had automatically reached behind his back and began pulling his shirt from his pants.

“You're so beautiful Willow,” he whispered into her ear before nibbling on her earlobe.

Willow's mind was overloading with emotions surging throughout her body. Her hands fumbled with the buttons on his shirt.

Giles swept Willow into his arms, the living room, he decided was not the place to be at the moment.

He continued lavishing attention to her neck as she held on to him.

'My dream!' ran quickly through her mind before being pushed out.

Giles placed Willow on her feet, as he reached his bedroom, she was finally able to open the last of the buttons.

She took hold of his hands and unbuttoned his cuffs.

She hadn't been able to look at Rupert as of yet, she was excited and scared at the same time.

With slow and somewhat steady determination, Willow ran her hands inside his shirt, silently cursing the cotton undershirt he wore, before pushing it off his shoulders.

“We... we can still stop,” he told her, although he would most likely need to spend the next hour taking the coldest shower he could possibly stand.

“Don't want to,” she replied matter-of-factly.

Giles quickly took his undershirt off.

She moved her hands slowly across his chest, feeling the hard muscles quiver at her touch. This was something they both wanted; it was the moment of truth.

Would this foray into physical intimacy bring them closer, or would it crush the budding romance started five months ago...

Willow recalled the water droplet, moving closer she let her tongue follow the trail it had made all those months ago.

Giles sat down on his bed, his hands on her waist. He pulled her towards him, so that she straddled his hips.

Giles very slowly began removing Willow's shirt; he wanted her to be aware of everything he was doing, as not to frighten her.

“Are you cold?” he asked when he saw her shiver.

“No... not cold,” she replied, her heart pounding in her chest.

“I... um... I don't want you to be frightened Willow,” he said, knowing that she probably was.

“I know Rupert.”

He slid his hands up her arms, wanting her to get used to his touch, before his hands moved to the clasps holding her bra closed.

Willow kept her gaze locked on Rupert's, hoping that by keeping contact he wouldn't look at her, not yet. Not until she thought she was ready.

A silly thing really, but she needed to do it.

She wasn't sure what to do anymore...

Sure, she had sex education in school; she knew what was supposed to happen next...

But knowing and doing were two completely different things.

“Breathe Willow,” she heard Rupert say, unaware that she had been holding it.

“Sorry,” she uttered. “There's nothing to be sorry about. To tell you the truth... I'm... uh... I'm nervous myself.”


“Yes... it's... it's not everyday I make love to the other half of my soul,” he told her in all honesty.

Willow blushed, and then leaned forward and kissed him, feeling the love he felt for her.

She knew then, that this was the time...

She might have instigated things in the living room, but there had been a small piece of doubt...

No longer.

She felt his hands right below the clasp to her bra, without hesitating, she reached behind her and released the clasp.

Giles moved his hands towards Willow's shoulders, and slowly moved both of the bra straps off.

He kept looking into her eyes, he needed to know she wanted this as much as he did, and wasn't doing this out of some sense of obligation towards him.

He told her the only thing that came into his mind.

“Research Willow.”

He knew he had said the right thing when he saw a smile appear on her face.

“Research Rupert.”

He slowly leaned back on to his bed, keeping her close. He turned his body so that Willow was on her back and he was by her side.

He put his hand on her hip and was able to feast his eyes on her for the first time.

He already knew in his heart that Willow was beautiful, inside and out, but to see it first hand took his breath away.

He moved his hand from her waist, pausing now and then, letting her become accustomed to it.

Willow didn't think she could take the anticipation much longer.

She was feeling things she had never felt before. The room seemed hotter.

Her mouth dry, she continuously licked her lips.

Each new sensation seemed to focus itself on the position of Rupert's hand.

He bent down and captured her lips once more, before moving along the side of her jaw.

He kept moving down...

Willow frowned.

She didn't like the fact that Rupert had stopped kissing her...

Until she felt his lips somewhere else...

Then, all thoughts vanished.


Willow woke, looking around quickly and deduced that she was in a bed...

Not hers.

She felt warm breath on her ear.

She was on her side, looking down she was covered by a blanket.

Lifting the cover up, she looked underneath... and pulled it down quickly.

She lifted the cover once more...

She was as naked as the day she was born...

She smiled.

What had happened wasn't a product of her active imagination.

She had made love with Rupert...

Sighing, she turned around, trying not to disturb the arm that was holding her close.

His face was inches away from hers.

It was completely peaceful.

His eyes opened slowly, his face broke into a smile.

“Good morning,” he said, brushing his lips against hers.

“Hi,” she smiled in return.

“Are you all right?”

She nodded.

She could recall him asking that same question during...

She blushed at the thought.

“Thank you Willow,” Giles said, moving a strand of her hair, and pushing it back behind her ear.

“For what?”


“I should thank you Rupert. I don't think I've ever felt more loved or cared for in my life. It was everything I could have wished for and more,” she told him, stroking his face with her hand, smiling as he leaned into it.

“I... I hope I did okay?” he asked.

“Oh... you did better than okay, if I remember correctly,” she said watching him blush.

“Well... I think we should get up... out of bed I mean,” he said glancing at the clock. It was almost 10 AM. He was surprised; they had only slept for an hour. “You... um, you should call your parents, let them know you'll be home shortly. Perhaps you could let Buffy know as well, so she doesn't decided to pay us a surprise visit,” he told her.

“I guess... I don't really want to leave, you know,” she said, trailing her hand down his chest.

“Ah... we... we really should?”

“Yeah... you're right, but... I think I should take a shower first,” she told him.

“Shower...” he answered absentmindedly, completely distracted by her hand.

“I'll be right back... now turn your head please,” Willow said.

“Yes, of course,” he replied, dutifully turning his head, and he felt the loss of her body warmth when she left him.

Giles waited until he heard the bathroom door close before turning his head. He understood how she deserved her privacy.

Reaching over to his nightstand, he pulled the drawer out. He quickly looked over to the bathroom door before taking out a manila envelope. Taking out the slip of paper, he scanned it before slipping it back inside and out of sight.

Grabbing his robe, he got out of bed and headed into the living room. Going to the phone, he made a few calls.

“Rupert?” Willow called out, drying her hair.

“Down here,” he answered. “Yes... thank you,” he said into the phone before hanging up. “Willow, would you go into town with me? There's something I need to do, it won't take a minute or so?” he asked.

“Sure, but you'll have to drop me off at home.”

“Promise, now if you'll excuse me... I have a date with the shower,” he said kissing her as he walked past.

“Should I be jealous?” Willow asked jokingly.

“Never,” he answered in all honesty.

By the time Giles had come out of the shower, Willow had made her phone calls.

Giles saw that Willow had made the bed. Shaking his head, he admitted he'd much rather still be asleep in her arms.

Giles dressed quickly, periodically checking the time. “Are you ready?” he asked, getting his glasses from the coffee table.

“Yeah... let's go,” Willow replied, having gotten her things together.

He checked his inside pocket, and satisfied with what was there, closed and locked the door behind him.

Willow's parents noticed immediately how distracted she was when she came home earlier.

Mrs. Rosenberg saw the necklace, and commented on it.

“It's a birthday present,” Willow answered.

“It's beautiful,” Willow's mother had said.

“Yeah... it is,” Willow replied distractedly. She had decided to open the other presents after dinner, when everyone was there.

Willow had spent the rest of the day in a daze. It wasn't like her to act in that manner, but her parents decided to wait until tomorrow to broach the subject with her.

It wasn't until her dinner guests began arriving that Willow began acting like her normal self.

Buffy, Xander, Angel and Cordelia had arrived within minutes of each other.

“Hi guys, how are you?” she asked, taking their coats.

“Great... I can't wait to taste your mom's cooking again,” Xander said, having eaten with Willow and her family before.

Ten minutes later the doorbell rang, Willow practically jumped for it. Cordelia had noticed the necklace within seconds and had been asking her all about it.

Opening the door, Willow said, “Hello Miss Foster, I'm so glad you could make it, come in.”

“Thank you again for inviting me. Look who I ran into this afternoon,” Shae said as she stepped to one side.


The rest of the gang rushed the door when they had heard Willow's cry.

“Giles!” Buffy said, hugging her Watcher, before remembering where she was. It would seem odd to Willow's Mom if she were to see her hugging the school librarian that way.

“Hey G'man.”

“Good to see you again Giles,” Angel said extending his hand.

“Perhaps I should go away more often,” Giles replied after the welcome he had received.

“Willow, who is it?” her mother asked, having gone to the kitchen before the doorbell rang.

“Oh... Mom, this is Miss Foster, you remember her?”

“Hello Miss Foster, I'm glad you could make it,” Mrs. Rosenberg said.

“And this is Mr. Giles...”

“This is Mr. Giles? The librarian?”

“How do you do Mrs. Rosenberg, I've heard so much about you from Willow. I feel as if I already know you,” he said extending his hand.

“Well, come in you two. Ira, could you check the oven for me?” she asked her husband, who was content to sit in his favorite chair.

“Sure,” he replied.

“So, Mr. Giles,” Mrs. Rosenberg began, after ushering everyone back into the living room. “When did you return? Willow tells me you were in England?”

Buffy leaned forward, she was very interested in his answer.

“Yes, yes I was. You could call it a sabbatical of sorts, I... I didn't arrive until late last night,” he replied.

“Oh... what wonderful timing,” Willow's mother said.

'Excellent timing Giles,' Buffy thought to herself, she had to talk to her friend a little later.

“Does Mr. Giles arrival mean you'll be leaving Miss Foster?” Mrs. Rosenberg asked.

“No... I'll be handling Mr. Giles post for the rest of the school year,” Shae replied.

Cordelia joined the others.

“Giles, it's good to see you,” she said. “You know there's something different about you,” she told him.

“Really, what?”

“I haven't put my finger on it but it'll come to me.”

“Mom... is dinner ready?” Willow asked.

Buffy looked at Willow and Giles, who were doing their best not to look at each other.

Willow knew that Buffy would probably want to talk to her about her oblivious deception.

“That was great Mrs. Rosenberg,” Xander said, finally pushing the plate away.

“I find myself doing something I never thought I would,” Giles began, “I quite agree with Xander, it was an excellent meal Mrs. Rosenberg,” he said wiping his mouth with the napkin.

“I've got it!!!” Cordelia cried out.

“What are you trying to do... give everyone a heart attack honey?” Xander asked.

“I'm so sorry Mr. and Mrs. Rosenberg... it's just I've finally figured out what it was...”

“What 'what' was?” Buffy asked.

“I knew there was something different about Giles...”

“Cut to the chase Cordy..... 'Chase', get it,” Xander said.

Buffy threw her napkin in Xander's direction.

“He's married!”

“Good lord,” Giles whispered.

“What?” Angel said, wanting to give Giles an opportunity to answer. He looked over to Willow quickly and saw her head bent down. Angel felt Buffy's hand on his thigh, he knew he wouldn't do anything here if the answer wasn't totally acceptable.

“What are you talking about?” Buffy couldn't believe it, Giles wouldn't get married to anyone else but Will, she was sure of it.

“You're crazy,” Xander said.

“Oh boy,” Willow uttered.

“He's married...” Cordelia repeated.

“You've said that already. What's going on in that head of yours?” Xander asked.

“He's wearing a wedding ring... see,” Cordelia gestured to Giles left hand.

Everyone looked down towards his hand, there it was, plain as day.

A simple gold band.

“Giles... is it true?” Buffy asked. She couldn't believe it.

“Um... yes. Yes it is.”

“Whoa! I don't believe it,” Xander said.

“When did this happen?” Mrs. Rosenberg asked, getting caught in the conversation, wondering why Willow hadn't said anything the entire time.

“Actually... it... it happened this morning,” he supplied.

“See... I told you,” Cordelia gloated.

“Wow! So... where's Mrs. Giles... Giles?” Xander asked.

Mrs. Rosenberg took a better look at her daughter, thinking about her behavior this afternoon.

The expensive gifts...

The flowers...

Her eyes focusing on the fact that Willow was hiding her left hand.

“Mr. Giles?”

“Yes Mrs. Rosenberg?”

“Why don't you help me in the kitchen? It'll give you a break from answering all these questions,” she said.

“Of course,” he said, taking his plate with him.

“No... leave that. Willow, I'm going to need you for a second, we'll be right back.” Mrs. Rosenberg said to the group.

“Yes Mom,” Willow replied, getting up from the table, taking her plate with her.

The trio walked into the kitchen, while everyone except Buffy and Angel put their two cents in, wondering whom Giles had married.

Xander had earned another elbow to the ribs when he suggested that possibly Miss Foster was in fact Mrs. Giles.

As soon as her mom had placed the dishes in the sink, she turned around.

Mrs. Rosenberg noticed how close her daughter and the librarian were standing, not close enough to touch...

But close enough.

“Are you pregnant?” she asked point blank.

“What?” she couldn't believe the question her mother had asked.

“No... of course she's not!” Giles said coming to his wife's defense.

Accepting the answer for the truth, Mrs. Rosenberg breathed a sigh of relief.

“Willow... honey? I need to speak with Mr. Giles for a minute, why don't you go back to your friends?”

“Mom..." “Willow, I believe your mother and I should talk. I'll tell you about later, I promise,” he said.

“All right,” she said, placing a kiss on his cheek before leaving the kitchen.

“I was wondering about the ring... it's very nice,” Willow's mother said after her daughter had left.

“Thank you... it's um... it's been in my family for years,” he replied.

“Have a seat... what do I call you?”

“Rupert will do,” he answered.

“Have a seat Rupert,” she said gesturing to the chair at the kitchen table. She wasn't at all surprised when he pulled her chair out for her. “Well... I'm going to ask you something about my daughter that I never had any intention of doing before now.”

“I understand...”

“Do you? I'm not sure you do... Rupert. Well... how many times have you... when did you decide to get married?”

“We've been engaged for four months.”

“Four months?”

“That would mean that you were seeing my daughter while she was underage?”

“Yes... that's... that's correct.”

“Did... did anything...?” she couldn't ask, she knew or hoped that Willow would get married one day, but to someone near her own age. Now, she was about to find out things about her daughter that were private in nature and talked about between themselves.

“No... never. I... I made my feelings known to Willow, but I never let anything happen between us before...”


“Um... yes. Ah... before her birthday,” Giles replied, he felt the heat rising to his face.

“I see... so you waited until she was eighteen before you two did anything?”

“Mrs. Rosenberg, I... I realize how difficult this is... and I know I might have to answer some questions about my relationship with Willow. But, I only intend to do so, here and now. After that I will not answer any more personal questions. I know how much Willow loves you both, and I pray to God, that I have not done anything to jeopardize her relationship with you. Willow and I have been intimate with each other, and before you ask, yes, I took precautions. We wanted to wait to get married, I had fully intended to come and ask Mr. Rosenberg for her hand in marriage...”

“What happened?” Mrs. Rosenberg asked, “Why the rush?”

“Well, the fact is... she didn't know that we were getting married today.”

“You don't expect me to believe that do you?”

“It's the truth, before she came home I'd asked her to accompany me into town, on the pretense of picking something up... which I did,” Giles said, holding his left hand up and showing off the ring. “It wasn't until we reached City Hall that she began to put things together. She asked me 'Why?' I told her I didn't want to hide my relationship with her... I wasn't content to be with her only during certain times of the day. I also didn't want her to ever doubt my feelings towards her... that I only wanted one thing from her and that once I had my way with her I would toss her aside. I couldn't have her thinking that... not for one moment...”

“You love her, don't you?” Mrs. Rosenberg asked, after listening to his impassioned words.

“Yes... oh God yes. I would die for her Mrs. Rosenberg.”

“If you ever hurt her Rupert... you'll wish you'd never met our family. Do we understand each other?”

“Yes... perfectly.”

“I'll be back,” Mrs. Rosenberg said, Giles got to his feet. “We still have things to discuss... but not tonight.”

“Of course,” he replied, and watched her leave the kitchen.


“Rupert... calm down.”

“I can't,” he answered, pacing back and forth.

“She's going to be fine,” Mrs. Rosenberg said. It had been a long five years; she was skeptical at first that the marriage would last. Yet, with each passing year, she could see the bond between her daughter and son-in-law growing stronger.

After Willow had graduated from high school, she and Rupert had reaffirmed their vows.

The location was a little out of the way, but she admitted, it was a beautiful place. Willow had told her that Rupert had taken her on a picnic there once.

The Rabbi and minister performed a double ceremony.

The marriage contract, the ketubah, was read underneath the chupah, or the canopy and signed.

Rupert gave the contract to Willow for safe keeping as was the tradition.

Rupert wanted Willow and her parents to know that he was aware of how important the Jewish faith was in their family, and did not keep that part of Willow's heritage from her during their wedding.

Mrs. Rosenberg was brought out of her memories when the doctor arrived in the waiting room.

“Mr. Giles?”

“Yes... yes... that's me.”


Giles couldn't believe it.

“How's my wife?”

“She's fine... she's asking for you. I'm sorry we couldn't wait... but, that's how it is, when the baby wants out... the baby wants out. We were lucky that her back up coach was around.”


“Hey Giles... Willow's asking for you,” Buffy replied, attired in surgical scrubs.

“Yes... yes, thank you Buffy... thank you for everything...” he said, impulsively taking her into his arms before releasing her and heading towards the labor and delivery room.

He had rushed from the airport, having come back from his trip to England.

The High Council had agreed: Buffy would be allowed to retire on her twenty-fifth birthday.

He would tell her the good news later.

It was a surprise; Buffy had no idea as to why Giles had gone to England, only that he would return within the week.

It had been Willow's idea to go to the council, saying with the service Buffy had provided over the years, she should be allowed to retire, rather than risk her safety any longer.

Sir Henry agreed, saying that Buffy's knowledge could be passed on to the next Slayer, something that had never been done.

The opportunity was too good to let pass by.

Buffy smiled as she watched Giles tearing down the hall. She gave the thumbs up to Willow's mom; she'd call Angel in a few minutes, knowing he'd be chomping at the bit once he heard the news.

She'd left a message on Xander's and Cordelia's answering machine, it wouldn't be long before the Scooby gang arrived in force.

Giles was instructed to put on a surgical gown over his clothes, and booties over his shoes, before he was allowed to go inside.


“Rupert?” Willow replied. She was exhausted; she didn't have the strength to turn her head to see her husband join her.

“I'm so sorry I wasn't here...”

“I understand... who knew? The baby wasn't due until next week,” she said. “Did things go well?” she watched him nod his head. She smiled. “Would you like to see your daughter?”

“You mean our daughter? Yes... oh yes.”

The bassinette was wheeled over, the nurse carefully picked up the baby girl and handed her to Willow.

“Hello there sweetie... Megan... this is your daddy,” Willow said smiling.

“Oh... my... she's... she's so small,” Giles wasn't able to say anymore, as a lump formed in his throat. His vision blurred, he didn't care if anyone saw him crying.

“Do you want to hold her?”

“May I?”

“Of course silly,” Willow told him, positioning Rupert's arms correctly and watched as her husband became wrapped around their daughter's little finger.

They had agreed once they knew they were having a baby girl to name her after Angel's sister.

Angel was dumbfounded by the gesture, promising to be there whenever they needed anything, babysitting, anything at all.

It was a second chance for him.

Willow couldn't wait to see Uncle Xander's face when he finally came by.

It couldn't get any better than this.

Rupert looked over to his wife, bending down to her ear.

“Research Willow...”

“Oh yes, Rupert... research.”

'Once in a while...

Things happen, beyond
our control... Beyond all we've ever known... And we must simply go for the ride,
never knowing when it will end...

Some how hoping we will be better off
for the journey.'

The End.

Began Sept. 1998
Completed March 21, 1999
Revised October-November 2001


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