Giles muttered angrily to himself as he sped towards Joyce’s house.”Movingto Idaho! We’ll just have to see about that! Having my baby and not tellingme! How could she! Well, whatever she has planned is just going to haveto change!”

Giles screeched his car to a halt in front of the house. He stompedup the path and pounded on the door. He waited impatiently when he heardthe door click open.

“Mr.Giles! What are you doing here?”Joyce exclaimed as she looked atthe man. He was looking a bit haggard.”Is something wrong? Is it Buffy?”

“Buffy’s fine. She’s studying right now,”Giles said as he entered thehouse. His eyes rested on a light blue and pink baby blanket that restedon top of a side chair. A fresh surge of anger and anguish went throughhim as he took it in his hands. He opened his eyes and noticed the babyhigh chair and mechanical swing. He saw the spread out floor blanket andthe assorted toys, and gripped the blanket tighter.

Joyce looked at Mr.Giles’s back curiously.”Mr.Giles? Is there anythingwrong?”

Giles turned to look at her. Her face was glowing, her stomach stillslim. She had tied her hair up in a ponytail, accenting her high cheekbones. Would our baby look like her? “Mr.Giles? Are you all right?”

Giles shook his head, and raised the blanket to her eyes.”Did you thinkthat I wouldn’t know about this?”

“Wouldn’t know about what?”Joyce asked, bewildered.

Angry that she would even deny it with the evidence in his hands, Gilesstepped closer to her, and shook the blanket.”This. The baby.”

Comprehension dawned in her eyes.”Oh. That. Well, I didn’t know thatyou wanted to know. I mean, it really isn’t any of your business-”

“Not any of my business!”Giles yelped. He stared at her stunned.”Didyou think that I would have let you go through this alone?!? What kindof man do you think I am? To leave you like this?”

Embarrassment and defiance flooded through Joyce.”I can handle it myself,I’ve done it before, Mr.Giles. Besides, Buffy is more than willing to helpwith the baby.”

“And you felt that you didn’t have to call me,”Giles said, stunned.Joyce shook her head negatively.”Well, you should have, Joyce! I have everyright to know!”

“Why?”Joyce demanded.”It’s only a baby! Not a bomb!”

“It’s not only a baby! It’s a baby! My baby! I should know because it’smy baby, that’s why!”Giles shouted back at her.”AND you are NOT MOVINGTO IDAHO!”

Joyce stared at him. Then she staggered back when the implications ofwhat he said hit her, she grabbing the back of a chair.”Your baby? Youthink that I’m having your baby?”

“Aren’t you, Joyce?”Giles demanded as he grabbed her arms, forcing herto look at him. Her face had gone pale, so he pulled her closer in hisarms. His hands stroked her hair.”Don’t worry, Joyce. We’ll be all right.You, me, Buffy and the baby.”

Joyce’s eyes widened at that, then she pulled back from Rupert.”Ah,Mr.Gi-, I mean, ah, Ripper?”

“Rupert,”Giles corrected her  as he moved a stray hair from herface. He smiled at her.”That is my name, after all.”

Joyce smiled weakly.”Ah, Rupert? If I tell you something, you promisethat you won’t explode or do anything, well, rash?”

Giles nodded, then Joyce pulled away from him. She raised her hands,and motioned him to sit down.”Okay, um, this might be hard to believe sinceyou’re determined to believe otherwise, but...I am not pregnant.”

Giles rose from his seat.”You don’t have to lie to me, Joyce. I-”

“No, no, no. You’re not listening to me, Mr.Gi-, ahm, Rip-, I mean Rupert,”stammered Joyce as she shook her head vigorusly.”I am NOT pregnant.”

Giles nodded his head.”Yes, you are.”

“Trust me, I’m not,”Joyce said forcefully. She looked at him, her browneyes watching him carefully.”I am not pregnant.”

Giles stared at her, his mind whirling. And unable to let go of thethought that Joyce was pregnant.”But then-how-why-”

A baby’s wail hit the two of them, and Joyce rushed towards the stairs.Giles was right behind her, and was stunned to find Joyce lifting a babyfrom its crib in Joyce’s room.

“Shush, it’s all right, Jaime. Aunt Joyce is here, it’s all right,”Joycesoothed as she rocked the baby.”Did you have a nice nap, honey? Think Ishould change your diapers, hmm? My, you did a lot of smelly stuff, youngman!”

Giles stared at Joyce as she changed the baby. He sat down hard on herbed. Joyce was not pregnant.

When she finished changing Jaime, Joyce looked at Buffy’s watcher. Helooked, well, if she could find a word for it, she would. All she knew,from just looking at him, her heart broke for the man.”Rupert? Are youall right?”

Giles looked at her, dazed.”You’re not pregnant. This is the baby thatBuffy was talking about?”

Joyce nodded slowly.”And you weren’t planning to move to Idaho to takemy baby from me?”

Joyce counted to ten before she answered that question.”I am not planningto move anywhere. Jaime and his parents are planning to move to Idaho,not me. I would have told you if I was. And I certainly would not havemoved without letting you know that I was having your baby.”

Giles nodded, then looked down at the blanket he still held in his hands.”Isee. I thought that. That you would tell me that you were having my baby.You were just waiting for the right time to tell me. Then I overheard Buffysay you, I thought, were going to move to Idaho. I somehow thought it wasbecause, well, I’m not really sure what I thought.”

Joyce nodded slowly.”Well, at least you don’t think that I’d be a totalbitch to deny you your child.”

Alarmed, Giles stared at her.”I never thought that you were a bitch.I just thought that-that, well, quite frankly, I don’t know what I thought.I just assumed that you were having my baby, and that was enough to makeme...”

Joyce sat next to him, Jaime still in her arms.”Can I ask where yougot this assumption that I was having your baby, Rupert?”

Giles smiled weakly.”I could say that it all started on Saturday whenI saw you at the book store...”

Joyce listened, wide-eyed as she heard his side. When he was done, sheshook her head in wonder.”So from all that, you assumed that I was pregnant.Wow, talk about misunderstanding the situation. I bought the pickles andspinach because they were on sale, ice cream because Buffy went to thedentist. I wanted to read some child care books for Jaime in case I needthem, and rented some furniture for him. Like that crib.”

“And the dentist’s name was not yet put up in the medical building,only the previous obstetrician’s name was there,”Giles sighed as he lookeddown at the blanket.”And when Buffy talked with Willow, she was talkingabout wanting to baby-sit Jaime and you having to. Christ, what was I thinking?”

Rubbing his shoulder sympathetically with one hand, Joyce soothed him.”Youwere thinking about having a baby. And getting caught up with the ideaof it.”

Giles stared at the blanket.”Yes, I suppose I did. But I was so sure,especially what we did on that night...without any protection...”

Giles looked at her when Joyce cleared her throat.”Well, to tell thetruth, so did I. After doing what we did four times and without protection...well,I wasn’t going to take any chances. So I picked up a test kit on the Mondayafter...and it turned up negative. After it taking forever to give me thatanswer.”

“Were you disappointed?”Giles asked hollowly. He looked at her whenshe didn’t answer. She played with the baby’s blanket a bit.”Joyce....”

“I am thirty-eight years old. I have an almost eighteen year old daughterwho’s a Slayer. I’m the manager of an art gallery and can barely maintaina social life outside of work because I know what goes out there at night.I have no time for a baby in my life,”Joyce said slowly. She looked downat Jaime’s small round face. The baby happily gurgled up at her and shesmiled a bit sadly.”Hell, yes, I was disappointed. I was planning the colorof the baby’s room when I got my answer.”

Joyce looked at Rupert, knowingly.”What were you doing when you thoughtI was moving to Idaho?”

“Planning to name him Thomas Rufus, after my father and grandfather.Or Catherine Genieve after my mother and grandmother,”Giles admitted thenlifted an eyebrow when Joyce snorted at him delicately.

Joyce gave him an amused look.”Catherine’s too formal. I like Katarinabetter. But then with my luck, the kid would probably rename herself ‘Tari’or ‘Rufie’ or something ridiculous like that. Buffy certainly did.”

“Buffy named herself?”Giles asked, surprised. Joyce nodded as Jaimefidgeted in her arms. Joyce smiled as she remember her daughter as a baby.

“You really didn’t think I would name my child ‘Buffy’ did you? No,her birth name is Elizabeth, after my Nana Bethie. We were going to callher Betty, but Buffy had other ideas about her name,”Joyce said with ashort laugh.”She refused to answer us unless we called her ‘Buffy’. Sowe had to change it to make it official when she was about five. She wasso stubborn about it...”

Giles nodded. Joyce placed her hand on his cheek.”For what it’s worth,I think that you would be a great father. And any woman who married youwould be lucky to call you her husband.”

Touched, Giles placed his hand over hers.“Thank you, Joyce...”

Nodding, Joyce slowly removed her hand and stood. Giles automaticallystood with her. He looked at the clock. It was almost one o’clock.”I-Iguess that I should be going back to work now. I think I left Buffy andWillow worrying about my mental state when I left them...”

As he started to leave the room, his shoulders still drooping a bit,Joyce called out to him.”Stay.”

Giles looked at her puzzled. Joyce repeated herself.”Stay. I mean, school’sgoing to be over in two hours anyway. And you’re here, so stay. Cut outof work. The library isn’t going to fall apart if you don’t work.”

“And what-what would I do here?”

Joyce smiled as she dropped little Jaime into his arms.”Babysit.”

At a loss, Giles held Jaime like a sack of flour. Joyce shook her head,as she adjusted his arms.”I really don’t think that-that-”

“There! You’re a natural,”Joyce smiled as she looked at him, then atJaime. He gave her a toothless grin.”See? He’s happy to be where he isright now. Aren’t you, sweetie? Aren’t you happy?”

Giles looked down at the giggling baby, then at the cooing Joyce.”Iknow that I would be...”

Startled, Joyce looked at him, a faint blush on her cheeks. She lookeddown at the baby, and was startled again when she felt his arm go aroundher waist.”Rupert-”

“Joyce,”Giles whispered as his face neared hers.”I wondered-”

“Mom? Where are you? Is Giles still here?”shouted Buffy as she boundedinto her mother room.”Hey! You’re still here! What are you doing in mymother’s room? And why is your arm around my mom, Giles?”

Joyce simply blushed as she detached herself from Mr.Giles’s hold.”Iwas just showing him how to hold Jaime when I tripped, honey. Why are youhome? And how did you get here?”

Buffy merely grinned as she bounded towards Giles, her Mom and Jaime.”Xander,Cordelia, Willow and Oz are downstairs. Oz and Cordy drove us all here.Classes were canceled due to weirdness in the basement, gotta get backthere tonight, Giles. How’s Jaime? Hey, Jaime! Wanna come to Buffy? Giles,you have to leave my mom’s room. Feels weird that you’re in here.”

“Buffy!”Joyce scolded as she led her daughter out of the room.”That’sno way to talk to Mr.Giles! And leave Jaime where he is, he likes Mr.Giles.Are you hungry?”

“Starved! You have no idea at what they tried to serve us for lunch!”

Still cradling Jaime against his chest, Giles watched as Joyce lead her daughter out the room. Funny, he still felt a pain in his heart. Of all the things that he regretted not doing, he never thought that not making Joyce pregnant would be one of them.

He looked down at the baby smiling at him. Oh, yes. He regretted that very much.


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