6. Sea Side Adventures
Chapter Six: Sea Side Adventures
Faith and Wesley stood with their mouths open, looking at their dad. Dawn was happily running around with her swimsuit on.
"We're what?" Faith asked for what seemed to be the tenth time.
"We're going to the beach. As a family." Her father explained, for the umpteenth time.
"Why?" Wesley asked.
"I decided to take a day off. We haven't spent time together for ages. And if I get really boring or something, Miss Rosenberg will be with us." He said, walking to the basement to look for the beach stuff.
"Miss Rosenberg? You mean Willow? She's coming too? Ok, we're going." Faith said running to her room to change into her new bikini.
Wesley regarded his father through his glasses.
"You heard what we were talking about last night in my room, didn't you? And now you feel guilty and want to make it up to us." He accused.
William stood up, his body tense.
"Yes. That and I want us to be on speaking terms before your match next week. How would it look if you don't talk to me?" he asked, turning to look at his only son.
Wesley's face lit up.
"You're coming to the match?! That's great. Oh thank you thank you thank you." Wesley said, jumping into his father's arms.
William smiled happily. He couldn't remember the last time he had thoroughly hugged his son. He held him tighter.
"Ooh. Group hug." Dawn had come downstairs too. She also jumped into their arms.
The doorbell rang.
"I'll get it!" Faith shouted, pounding down the stairs.
She opened the door to find Willow standing there.
"Willow hey. Glad you could come. I still can't believe dad's taking us to the beach. I mean, wow. We haven't been to the beach in, like, two years. I even forgot what it looks like. And you're coming too! Which is, like, totally awesome. Cause you're just really cool. And oh, do you think there'll be sexy guys there? Oh, I hope I see Angel. I've been dying to see him without his shirt on. And maybe-"
"Faith, breathe. Babbling is my trademark. Don't steal it." Willow said, smiling at her and walking inside.
Faith blushed a bit.
"So, Angel huh? He is seventeen. And a football player. I saw a movie, "Unlikely Suspect," and football players are just unpleasant."
"Yeah, I know, I saw it too. But Angel doesn't have to be like that. I mean, for all we know, he can be one of the sweetest boys." Faith said hopefully.
"So, tell me something. Are we the only ones going or are the others playing hide-and-seek?" Willow asked, looking around.
"I think that they're still in the basement. They'll be up in a minute though. I still have to go change, I'll be right back, is that ok with you?" Faith asked, already inching towards the stairs.
Willow nodded absentmindedly, walking toward one of the bookshelves that lined the one wall of the big living room. The shelves were filled with photographs. Photographs of William, Dawn, Faith, Wesley and a woman Willow guessed must be Drusilla. There were some of Buffy too. In each of the pictures with William, he looked so happy. His eyes were shining with mischief. The way he looked at his wife, it was easy to see that he loved her very much. She picked up one picture.
It was the picture from their wedding. Willow smiled, they looked so happy. And so young. Willow thought William could have been only 18 or 19. So very young to get married. And yet their marriage had lasted for 12 years. And they had three beautiful children.
In the picture, William had brown curly hair and he was wearing glasses. He was holding his wife around the waist. Drusilla was the same height as him, with long brown hair that fell all the way down to her waist. Her eyes were also brown.
A cough behind her made her gasp and turn around. There stood a 14 years older William looking at her curiously. Carefully, she put the photograph on the shelf.
"Um, hi." She said, smiling nervously.
"Hi. Thank you for coming." He said, walking to the shelves as well and looking at the photographs.
"No problem. I haven't been to beach in ages and I really want to get a tan. People keep telling me I'm too pale."
William smiled at her.
"Nonsense. You know, I haven't looked at these pictures in years." He said, looking at the pictures.
"That was taken on Wesley's fifth birthday. He didn't have many friends, so he didn't have a party. We took the kids to Disney World instead. We had fun that day." He said, pointing to one of the pictures. This one was of the whole family and Mickey Mouse.
Looking at him, Willow saw that he was smiling sadly. Just then the three kids filed into the living room, all of them carrying some beach things.
"Let's go." They said in unison giggling.
Willow and William nodded and moved to the front door. As Willow, Faith, Dawn and Wesley walked outside, William rushed back upstairs. He was back down in a minute, carrying a briefcase. Willow frowned, but nobody noticed. They walked to his expensive family Mercedes, the kids sat in the back seat while Willow and William sat in the front.
Half an hour later, they were unloading their things on one of the LA beaches. The sun was shining brightly above them as they found a spot in one of the dunes, where the wind didn't blow as much. As William and Willow took out the towels and placed them on the sand, the three kids took off their clothes and ran to the water in their swimsuits. The two adults smiled slightly and sat down on one of the blankets they had brought.
William took out his briefcase and started leafing through the papers inside. He glanced up as Willow took of her shirt and skirt, leaving her in an emerald green bikini swimsuit.
"So, Mr. Giles, do you ever not work?" she asked, lying down on the blanket.
He cocked his head a bit.
"Yeah, I sleep an' eat sometimes too." He answered.
Willow frowned a bit.
"So, why did you all of a sudden decide to bring your kids to the beach? And then not pay any attention to them?"
"Miss. Rosenberg, I already told you that my job is very important to me and to other people."
"And I also told you that you wouldn't get fire if you missed one day of work." She shot back.
"Yes, well, I'm not worried about being fired." He answered.
Willow raised her eyebrows.
"It's like you said, I need to do something to pass the time." He said.
"Are you even going to take off the clothes and sunbathe a bit?" she asked, changing the subject.
He nodded absentmindedly and took off his jeans and black shirt. Willow glanced at him, but then whipped her head in the other direction, blushing. His chest was just too good to be true and she knew that if she hadn't looked away, she would have been drooling. She looked instead out at the sea. She could see Faith, Wesley and Dawn in the water, near the edge. As she watched, a black boy came over to them. She frowned. Then she realized it was Gunn and she relaxed.
* * *
Faith, Wesley and Dawn had been splashing around in the cool seawater, when all of a sudden Faith found herself underwater. Strong hands where holding her shoulders and hauled her back up before the lack of oxygen became too dangerous. Taking a deep breath, she turned around to look at her attacker.
"Hey Faith." Gunn said, smiling down at her as she fumed, water dripping from her hair, her face red with rage.
"Gunn, what the hell was that? Were you, like, trying to kill me or something?" she demanded.
"Kill you? Hell no. Just trying out your instincts." He said, pouting at her.
Her anger slipped away and she smiled at him.
"Instincts huh? How about this one?" she asked before she jumped at him and they both went under. Faith held him there until he started struggling and then, suddenly, he went limp.
Faith's eyes widened in horror and she pulled him out of the water. His eyes were closed and he wasn't moving. She shook him.
"Gunn? Gunn? Stop it, this isn't funny! Gunn!" she cried, shaking him harder, tears forming in her eyes.
"Ever heard of CPR? I hear it's mighty useful in situations like this." He joked, opening his eyes.
She stared at him, relief flooding over her. Then her eyes sparkled with anger and she let go of him. The lack of support made him fall back into the water.
"That was not funny!" she exclaimed after he came back up for air. She started walking back out of the water and he followed her.
"Faith! Hold on! It was just a joke! Faith, hold on, damn it!" he said, catching her by the arm.
"It was a stupid joke! I thought you were seriously hurt! Or dead! And that's not funny, no matter how sick your sense of humor might be!" she cried, trying to get free of his grip on her arm.
"You were really that scared about me?" he asked, a smile gracing his face.
"Well, duh! What did you think? We've been friends for how long? Since first grade, I couldn't just watch you die in my arms and know that it was all my fault. And I'm babbling again." She said, blushing a bit, but most of her anger was gone and was replaced with relief that she hadn't lost her best friend.
He was still smiling goofily at her.
"I'm sorry I scared you." He said truthfully.
"Yeah, well don't do it again." She answered.
She looked back into the water and panicked a little when she didn't see her two younger siblings anywhere. She turned around, facing the beach and saw that they were both out of the water and playing in the sand. She let out her breath and turned back to Gunn. He was looking at the shore as well, a frown on his face.
"Is that your dad with Miss Rosenberg?" he asked, pointing at her father and their math teacher.
"Yeah, it is." She said and dipped under water. She loved to swim; it was one of her favorite sports. Her mother always used to say she was born to be in the water. That she was like a human fish. She smiled at the memory and resurfaced.
"Race you to the shore." She said before diving into the water and swimming off. Gunn jumped in after her and together they swam to the shore. Faith reached it only a few seconds before Gunn did.
"I win." She said as she straightened up in the now shallow water, panting. She started walking onto the sandy shore, in the direction of their blankets and towels. Gunn followed her.
"Not fair, you had a head start." He argued.
"Bull. You just don't want to admit you were beat by a girl." She said laughingly. When they reached their blankets, she sat down next to Willow. Gunn sat down too, looking at Willow curiously.
She looked up and smiled at him. He was a nice boy, a good student and always liked to talk to her about things. He and Faith were close friends, though she thought that Gunn's feelings might run just a bit deeper than friendship.
"Hi Gunn. How are you?" she asked, sitting up.
"Hi. I'm good, and you?"
"Um, I don't mean to be rude or anything, but what are you doing here?" Gunn asked.
"Oh, didn't Faith tell you? I'm her and Wesley's tutor. And I help take care of Dawn."
Gunn nodded. Then he turned to Faith and they started talking about the upcoming exams they were going to have before the autumn holidays. After a few minutes, Wesley and Dawn came back and sat down on the blankets.
Two hours later, Willow decided it was time to go for a swim. She stood up and crossed her arms, looking down at William expectantly. He didn't seem to notice, his nose still buried in his work. Willow cleared her throat. Still nothing. Exasperated, she snatched the papers from his hands and threw them down. He looked up at her.
"What the bloody hell do you think you're doing woman?" he asked. She took his hand and dragged him to his feet.
"Taking you swimming." She answered, still holding his hand and walking to the water. "You've been in the sun for two hours, you need to cool off. So come on."
They were nearing the water and William was getting highly amused by her indignation. Suddenly she let go off his hand and hit his arm crying, "Tag, you're it!" and running off. He stood there, a bit shocked, then ran after her. By the time he caught up with her, she was already in the water. She was still running, which was becoming slower due to the depth of the water. He dove and swam to her. Standing up behind her, he lifted her over his head. Shrieking in surprise, she started hitting his arms.
"Let me go, let me go!"
From the shore, the kids watched with their mouths hanging slightly open. This was the first time in years that they had seen their father act like this. They laughed when he threw Willow into the water and reemerged seconds later and jumped at him, sending them both into the water.
William resurfaced, laughing. As Willow looked at him, smiling, he stopped and became serious again.
She walked over to him and looked him in the eyes.
"It's ok. You can laugh. I promise not to tell anyone." She told him and he smiled a bit, before diving into the water and swimming for a few minutes. Willow did the same. Half an hour later, they went back to the blankets and lay down on their stomachs. The kids had run off somewhere again, and Faith and Gunn were playing beach volleyball a short way away.
William was once again working and Willow sighed. She made a vow to herself that by the end of the school year, he was going to be the father Buffy told her he had been before Drusilla died. It was going to be tough, but she had to try her best. The kids deserved a loving father.
By six o'clock in the afternoon, Gunn had left for home and Faith, Wesley and Dawn were once more sitting with William and Willow. Wesley was reading some mystery book, Dawn was building sand castles and Faith was asking Willow about the math exam they had in two weeks.
"Is it going to be hard?"
"If you study, then it should be a piece of cake for each and every student in the class. Trust me. It's going to be from the things that you've studied this year. And don't worry; we're going to spend most of this week revising everything."
Faith nodded, looking down at her hands. Stretching, William stood up.
"Ok, I think it's time to go home kids. Did you all have a good time?" he asked, putting on his clothes. The kids nodded and followed suit. Together they walked to the car and drove home, listening to a Linkin Park CD. After dropping the children off at home, William drove Willow to her and Buffy's apartment.
"Thank you for coming today. I hope you enjoyed yourself." He said as they unloaded her things from the trunk.
"I did. It would have been better if you actually paid attention to your children though. I'll see you on Monday." She answered, walking to the entrance.
"Bye! Have a nice weekend." He called after her. She waved back and then she was inside the building.
Sighing, William drove home and found himself humming "Faint."