PART THREE: 20th January 2004
Chapter Two: The Plague of Quick Exits
"Guys I said I didn't want a birthday this year, remember?"
"You gotta have a birthday, Buff." Xander had joined them all in the kitchen.
"And why is this exactly?" She didn't want a birthday. Birthdays were always bad days and she had enough of those to contend with, she didn't need to encourage them with the celebrating.
Faith was standing by her side. "Cheer up, B, it's only a birthday." She pulled her lighter from a tight pocket and lit the candle that was stuck into the pile of pancakes.
Obviously Faith didn't really know much about Buffy's previouses. "No, Faith, you don't understand. This day should have been cancelled a long time ago. They should change the calendar so it goes straight from the nineteenth to the twenty-first with nothing in between."
"Hey Buffy, ever heard of over-reacting." Kennedy asked. "It's just a day with cake and presents - what's the big deal?"
There was yellow wax running down the small candle and dripping all over Buffy's breakfast - another thing her birthday was ruining. "What's the big deal? Try demon arms, evil boyfriends, insane coming of age tests," she shot a quick glance at Giles who frowned, "little sisters with abandonment issues." She ignored Dawn's snuffily glare. "You name it, on this day, it can happen."
"It doesn't just affect Buffy either. On her nineteenth birthday Giles was turned into a demon and she had to take him down." Willow chimed in helpfully.
"I'm not taking responsibility for that one." Buffy shook her head determinedly and sat down in front of her pancakes. She blew the candle out and half glanced at Faith as she made her wish. Plucking the wax stick out of the top pancake she cast it to one side, picked up a fork and dug in.
"Yes, Willow, thank you for mentioning that. The more people who know about my terrible sense of judgement, the better I'll sleep at night." Said Giles grumpily. "I must head to work. Have a nice day Buffy."
Buffy gave him a smile as he left. "So are there any presents to make this day more bearable?"
Kennedy looked at her watch. "Damn, I was supposed to be in early before classes, I need to pick up that book. You ready babe?"
Willow picked up her satchel. "Yep. If we get there too late I can go get it for you if you like, none of my students turn up until ten anyway." She rolled her eyes. "No study ethics, the lot of them." Grinning good naturedly now, she gave Buffy a quick hug. "Happy birthday." And they were gone.
Xander kissed her on top of the head and then was following them out of the door. "See you this evening, Buffster. Don't get up to any hijinks until we're all back to enjoy them, 'kay?"
Buffy waved to him as he left. "'Kay." She looked at her sister and Faith. "So no presents then?"
Dawn shrugged, sneezed, and pulled her blanket tighter around her. "Sorry, I spent all my money on your Christmas present. You'll have to wait until allowance day if you want more."
Buffy nodded, Dawn had brought her a beautiful pair of leather boots, which Buffy hadn't even worn yet because they were just too nice to put on the ground. "Fair enough. You still sick?"
Dawn sneezed again before she could answer.
"Okay, well if you're staying off school you can go back to bed. I'm finishing at three today, so I'll bring you up some soup when I get home."
Dawn, sniffing, left for her room. Buffy knew she'd be straight back down and watching the television with Faith as soon as she was out the door for work. Just like she used to do. Buffy shook her head with a smile.
Faith was sitting beside her now and eating a bowl of cereal. "What's funny?"
"Nothing. So did you get me a present?"
Faith looked at her over a corn puff-laden spoon. "After the reaction my last present got? I don't think so." Buffy pouted, but Faith seemed oblivious as she stood up and put her empty bowl on the sink. "You better go shower, you have to leave in thirty."
Buffy looked at the clock; Faith was right. She scooped up the last mouthful of her breakfast as Faith stopped next to her chair, shifting from foot to foot. Buffy looked up warily. "What?"
"Uh. You know, happy birthday, and that." Faith patted her on the shoulder a few times, which caused Buffy to raise a brow. "Have a good day."
Faith left the kitchen and Buffy didn't have time to ponder on her weirdness, or the disturbing lack of pressies, because she was going to be late for work.
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