25 occasions people have celebrated in the Jossverse
1. On Buffy’s 12th birthday, an ambulance came to the skating rink because Dawn fell and another girl’s skates ripped a gash in her leg. She has a thin scar on her calf.
(Sometimes Dawn wonders why the memory, why the scar: did the shape of a key poured into human form necessitate a scar there, or did the monks give her scars for verisimilitude? What would have happened if she hadn’t been there--would there still have been the wailing siren of the ambulance, the blood on the ice?)
(Somewhere a girl named Tina Marlin does not have a scar near her calf; she spent her 13th summer in very short shorts.)
2. One of Wesley’s birthdays fell during the time when they were staying at Cordelia’s apartment after the explosion. He had not given his parents Cordelia’s phone number, and he did not check his e-mail that day, so he did not speak to his parents on his birthday. Angel and Cordelia didn’t know the date. On his birthday, Wesley was awake at midnight fighting demons. They reached Cordelia’s apartment at 2, had very hot showers, and went to sleep. When Wesley awoke, it was to sun and the smell of Angel cooking pancakes that Wesley, ravenous, shoveled in with a will. The day passed in pleasant research, with Phantom Dennis handing him books, and ended while watching an unpleasant televison programme about fashion with Cordelia, while Cordelia made scathing comments about style that made Wesley chuckle and Angel say earnest things about fashion in his days.
A week or so later, when Wesley mentioned that it had been his birthday, Cordelia slugged him. Hard. "We would have made your birthday special," she protested. "You idiot. And don't think this lets you off the hook for celebrating my birthday when it rolls around."
"Ow," he said, smiling, "don't worry, I shan't forget."
3. Sometimes--perhaps once a year, or twice, or every other Tuesday--Drusilla celebrates the day she went insane. Once, in her long life, purely by coincidence, it falls on the same calendar date.
4. When Willow was eight, her parents let her have a sleepover for her birthday. She invited Xander and Jesse. It was the first overnight Xander spent away from home. For years later, when he thought of good birthday parties, he thought of Willow’s instead of his own.
5. Giles knows, to the date and hour, the moment Buffy was called. Each year, he toasts her. His joy and fear grow greater every year.
6. Anne gets good at impromptu birthday parties: at running out to get cupcakes or ice cream. "I’m supposed to celebrate here?" people ask, sneering, "maybe I should make a wish?" but they still come on their birthdays, make sure she knows the date, lick frosting off their fingers.
7. Xander spends his twenty-fifth birthday with Willow and her current girlfriend, with Buffy and Dawn, with Oz, who’s in town, with a few local Slayers, with three of his colleagues who know about the demon thing. Giles calls to wish him a happy birthday. It’s all very low-key, steak from the grill and cold beer, talk of monsters and planning permits and the class in Sumerian that Dawn’s taking. They talk for hours after dinner, hanging out in chaise lounges, too stuffed to move, until night falls fully and the stars come out. When people leave, they hug him goodbye and clap him on the back.
Xander’s pretty fond of adulthood.
8. Every year, on the first new moon after the harvest is gathered, they gather to give thanks for the Voiceless One, the Slayer, who guards them from the night.
To this celebration, as to all of their celebrations, she herself is not welcome.
9. On Joyce Summers’ birthday, Dawn calls Buffy or Buffy calls Dawn, no matter where they are. They never call on the day of her death.
10. Gunn does not remember whether it was his birthday or Alonna’s or some other neighborhood kid’s, but he remembers the year they made an impromptu slip-and-slide in someone’s yard with a garden hose and plastic garbage bags, the joy of hurtling himself down the slide without fear, shouting with delight.
11. Giles knows, to the date and hour, the moment Buffy was called. Each year, he toasts the Slayer who fell.
12. On Connor’s 21st birthday--his original birthday, not the one his family celebrates--a woman comes to visit him and offer him a job. "No thanks," he says, recognition and memory coming to him as she speaks. "Not interested, Lilah."
"You’re as stubborn as your father," she says, and he can tell she is still trying to hook him, sink in a barb or two.
"Probably," he agrees, in a way that gives her nothing. He neither needs to deny Angel or make his choices anew.
She accedes with a shrug. "Happy birthday, anyway." A fleeting grin. "Since you’re the only one alive to celebrate the original date."
That barb works; he spends the rest of the day thinking of Holtz and Angel, all his fathers, all his mothers, all his deaths.
13. Xander looked up the materials associated with wedding anniversaries once. Anya would have gotten a kick out of them, he thought fondly, and either demanded gifts along those themes or told him why those were bad choices. Paper, the first anniversary--she would have loved that, any excuse to demand money. She would have been so disappointed by the second anniversary, cotton or straw, though leather on the third might have been some consolation.
14. Dawn spends her 21st birthday at war with the armies of a witch who only thinks her powers rival Willow's.
Armies of insects.
"I don’t care what you bought me for my birthday, I want new shoes too," Dawn wails to Buffy, grimly stomping.
Crunch, crunch, crunch.
15. The anniversary of the date she was called as a Slayer is also the anniversary of:
The day her team won the championship.
The day she stopped him from hurting her.
The day she won the race.
The day she went to jail for assault.
The day she pulled someone out of a burning car.
The day he touched her sister for the last time.
The day she started dreaming of monsters.
The day she stopped being scared of them.
16. On Faith’s 23rd birthday, she meets a guy named Dean who has some wicked awesome weapons and knows how to use them.
He’s pretty hot, too.
It’s a good birthday.
17. On the anniversary of Jenny Calendar’s death, Willow always lights a candle for her.
18. Willow does not light a candle on the anniversary of Tara’s death. She calls Xander, most years, turning over a box of crayons made from light and dust while she talks.
19. Giles knows, to the date and hour, the moment Buffy was called. Each year, when another year has passed, he toasts the Watcher of the Slayer who fell, the poor sad bastard.
20. Each year, Faith runs on the anniversary of the day she went to prison. This year she runs through rain, until she’s wet through, all she can hear is the sound of her feet on pavement, until everything within her is as still as it was when the doors clanged shut.
21. Robin Wood’s mother’s Watcher made sure to send Robin a card and a gift on every birthday, until he himself was killed by a vampire he’d gone hunting. Robin lost most of these things when Sunnydale is destroyed. He was ambivalent about this: his mother’s Watcher was kind, but he also tended to say things like, "She was a credit to me," and "I was not sure what to expect from someone who wasn’t British and was…well…but she acquitted herself honorably."
22. Darla didn't think much of Spike and wasn't shy of saying so, but every year she was the one who noted that he'd been with them now a year, two years, three, five. "Have a drink," she'd offer, pushing a body his way.
23. Kendra defied her Watcher once. She ran away to visit her mother on her mother's birthday. Her mother kissed her forehead and told her she was a sweet girl and sent her back, telling her that Slaying was the best gift she could give.
24. Angel had many anniversaries. He remembered them all, and--unless prompted--celebrated none.
25. Buffy spends her 33rd birthday on a possible demon stakeout with Faith, drinking lemonade from a thermos since their cover was a picnic. Both of them were sweat-sheened, hair pulled back and up, dressed in tank tops, complaining that they were going to melt if the demons didn't make a move.
When they got the call that the demons had been found elsewhere and dispatched, they stayed there, kissing lazily on their blanket, tasting of lemonade, until it got dark enough that they could go out Slaying.