Giles watched Sileya work through a series of moves with Xander, shaking his head. "Stop, just stop," he called, walking off the porch. "What did you think you were doing?" Giles asked Xander.
"Seeing what she could do." Xander looked Sileya over, picking a piece of her waist-length black hair off her face. "She's not bad, has some form problems, but she can fight. Oz tried to brawl with her."
"And I did good," Sileya said proudly. "I knocked him down."
"Yeah, and she even did a nice staking move too," Xander said proudly, wrapping an arm around her sweaty shoulders. "We have to help her some, but she's got some decent basics if you ignore the form problems."
"So I could tell," Giles said, giving them a smile. "It's good that you're taking initiative with her training. We do need to get some pads for me to work with her again though."
"Oz went into the attic to look for them and the book on baby-proofing the house," Xander told him, letting go of Sileya. "I'm going to go make sure Buffy's up. Doyle's due in an hour or so." He jogged around the side of the house, heading for the trailer that was sitting a few hundred feet from the house.
"So," Sileya started, "what I did was all right?"
"It's a good start," Giles told her, looking her over. "You need better clothes to practice in. You'll need to learn how to fight in what you normally wear, and your fighting will dictate what you wear eventually," he admitted at her disgusted expression. "Buffy somehow manages to fight in nearly pornographic shirts with no backs and skirts so short I'm surprised she's allowed to wear them."
Sileya grinned at him. "You just can't get with modern fashion, can you?" she teased, poking him on the arm. "What's up with the kids anyway?"
"Which ones? Ours or Buffy's?"
"Well, yours, but I didn't think that being pregnant and fighting was a great idea."
"It isn't, that's why the second girl is in town." Giles nodded to the porch, going to sit on the swing Xander had insisted that they get. "The girl in the hospital, Kelly, was sent out here to take over for Buffy in her delicate condition, but she was almost killed in a nest of vampires. Buffy's taken back over some duties, as has someone else that we're not sure about their identity, but they're helpful so we're accepting it for the moment." He gave her a small smile. "Kelly was a most cocky and sure young woman, and might have grown up to be a fine woman. She may still yet," he corrected himself. "We have no way of knowing if her skull fracture will heal correctly or not."
Sileya winced. "That's bad. She's really hurt that badly?"
"Yes, dear," he said, taking her hand to hold. "The job isn't fun and games. The nightly fighting gets tiring after a bit. The lack of personal life almost drove Buffy insane for a few years. And it's a very dangerous job. Buffy died one night, that's why there are two girls now. The one that her's went to died from an attack. The one after her went bad, which is where Kelly got her powers from. Faith is Miriam's mother, and at one point she kidnapped her daughter. Xander went after her and used one of my blessed weapons. It stole her soul so the powers moved on to Kelly. Death and turning out as bad as the things you're fighting are the two biggest perils of your job."
"Which is why Dad sent me to you, to minimize the second and to help me last longer against the first. Right?" Giles gave her a solemn nod. "So, how'd the other guys get into this?"
"Xander had started to help Buffy shortly after she moved to the school here in Sunnydale. He and his best friend, Willow, helped her throughout their entire time together. We still get help from Willow, though she lives in town with an enthralled vampire at the moment. She's the twins' mother."
"Wow. Why'd they do it though?"
"Because one of my best friends was taken and turned," Xander said as he joined them on the porch, handing over glasses of tea. "Jesse, Willow, and I were almost all taken one night. Buffy managed to save me and Will, but not Jesse. We went back after him the next day but he was turned by then. I had to stake him." He looked at Giles, then down at his glass. "The duty isn't easy, Sileya. Odds are, if you get friends, you'll end up fighting with them at some point. You might even have to kill them." He looked at her. "You can kiss your normal life goodbye as soon as you're chosen too. No more dating or parties, prime time for those is also hunting time. This will become your life, or you can make it a part thereof and try to juggle it the way Buffy did, which doesn't work real well." He sipped his own tea. "It's not a fun way to live, but it's necessary."
"So I'm coming to understand," she said, reaching over to pat his shoulder. "I'm sorry about your friend. Were there any others like that?"
"A few," Xander admitted. "A few friends who turned at one point or another. A lot of kids in our school died, Buffy cut down on that though. Our graduating class had the fewest fatalities of any in sixty years, since they had built that school. And we ended up bombing the place to save everyone."
"The new one is a wonder of glass and light," Giles offered. "It's also much more defensible. The hall doors can be locked off so that you can trap a group hunting in the school in a section. Each of the classrooms have an external exit, for fire safety reasons," he explained with a small smile. "Even the new gym and cafeteria are very defensible. Whomever made the plans obviously graduated from Sunnydale High and knew what sort of problems they were going to have."
Xander looked up and grinned. "One of our graduating class did it. He was working on his first summer of architecture and he submitted plans that his teacher helped him with." He winked at Sileya. "You'll like the local high school. The teachers didn't used to mark you absent unless you didn't show up for three days, and then they usually just reported it to the office that the student was habitually missing so someone could check on the kid."
"It would have been hard for them to check on every student that skipped a single day," Giles told him, "but if a student was habitually missing more than likely they were dead and it was appropriate for someone to check for them."
"True," Xander admitted. "But it was nice when you wanted to skip for a day."
"Which she will not do," Giles reminded him sternly. "As I had thought you gave up in your sophomore year." His lover gave him a shy smile. "Shall I go look up your records?"
"If you'd like, go ahead," Xander told him with a wave of his hand. "I'm not going to stop you, but you won't find anything."
"I doubt that," Giles told him softly. "Don't give her any ideas, Xander, I doubt she needs them."
"Oh, I already know how to skip," Sileya said, grinning at them both. "Don't worry about that part. Do I get to blow up the school for graduation too?"
"Only if something very big is going to eat everyone in it," Xander told her, patting her knee. He stood up. "I'd better start food, Doyle's bound to be hungry." He headed into the house, the door slamming shut behind him.
"Did I upset him?" she asked.
Giles gave her a gentle smile. "No, you didn't upset him, our ghost likes to do that. She hates that door being opened. It seems to trigger off ill feelings from her."
"Oh. Okay." She shrugged. "So, I have to beat up on you tonight?"
"Tomorrow most likely. Tonight..." He stopped as Xander walked out with the phone. "Who is it?"
"Someone overseas. They wouldn't tell me but it's a really fuzzy connection." He shrugged and went back inside.
Giles walked the phone off the porch, muttering something about the Council not updating lines. "Rupert Giles," he answered formally. He shook his head. "Yes, she's here. Her father requested that I train her." He looked at the porch, giving Sileya a brave smile. "No, her *father* did. She actually thought it was all a delusion on his part." He snorted. "I'm sure but until she's called her father has arranged for her to be in my custody. Yes, he does know what's going on out here. Ethan has always kept an eye out for me." He chuckled cruelly. "I'm sure, but between Wesley and myself I think we'll have it for a bit longer." He hung up, walking back up onto the porch. "The Watchers Council is not pleased with what your father did."
"Will you get into trouble?"
"Not hardly, my dear. They fired me back while Buffy was still in high school, that's when we got Wesley, whom you'll meet tonight."
"And he's the one that'll take me around town?"
"Yes, he is." He answered the phone as it rang again, frowning at the words coming through. "I see. When was this?" He looked at his watch. "And you're just now getting around to telling us?" He sighed. "All right. Yes, I'll handle the matter. Thank you. No, give me a few days, the rest of her family's on the other coast." He hung up, dialing a number from memory. "Hello, it's me again. No, I thought you'd like to know about the girl in the hospital. No, Kelly was apparently attacked last night in her room. They found her this morning with bite marks. No, the floor nurses were also gone. The hospital here just called me after I hung up on you. I would suggest that you possibly call her usual Watcher and maybe even her family." He hung up, growling lightly. "I hate those idiots," he muttered, standing up and heading inside. "Kelly just died," he told the people in the kitchen.
Buffy nodded, looking down. "We knew it was a possibility."
"From being bitten. As were the floor nurses," Giles told her.
"Then we'll fix it," Buffy vowed. "Even if I can't fight, we'll fix it." She looked at Sileya as she walked in. "This means you're one closer. You have to really start training now."
"I found the pads," Oz said, looking up from his book. "Any news on which one?"
"No, they didn't say." Giles sighed and put the phone down on the counter. "I'd like to do something but I'm not sure what."
"We'll do what we have to," Xander told him. "Has anyone told her family?"
"I suggested that the twits on the Council call them, I'm not sure if they have. I have Philip's number somewhere though."
"Your address book is in your office," Oz told him. "I put it back when I found it in the library." He went back to reading. "If we're going out tonight, I have to take an out. I have a test tomorrow at eight."
"I'm sure we can do without you this time," Giles told him, walking over to hug him. "Do you need help studying?"
"Nope, got it," Oz said. "Just reviewing for right now."
"I can go tonight," Xander said. "Sileya, you're staying home," he told her, seeing her interested look. "Wesley and Doyle can tutor you tonight in demonology."
"I really can defend myself," Sileya protested, only to be met with a tight wall of resistance. "I'll stay out of trouble, even go only where this Wesley person says."
"No," Buffy said. "If they see you and they make a connection, you're dead already." She looked down at her stomach. "I could go help track if I don't have to fight," Buffy offered.
"No!" the three men said together.
"Fine, whatever," she sighed, nodding Sileya into the hall. "Come on, let's go find the kids before they tear up the garden." The Slayer-to-be followed her out, talking about how unfair it was.
"She's right," Xander said softly. "I can't do it on my own and whomever this other person is, didn't get this one right." He looked at the corner, then nodded at it. "Ethan sent her stuff. I'm guessing it's all her stuff, all of it was sent to Sileya Giles."
Giles frowned. "He didn't," he said, walking over to look at the boxes. "I'll be ... he did. That git."
"And there was a letter," Xander said, pointing it out. He went back to shredding carrots.
Giles opened the letter, leaning against the counter, frowning at it's contents. "I see," he said, folding it up. "I need to go talk to Sileya, I'll be back for supper." He walked out of the kitchen, heading for the other porch, where he could hear Buffy talking with someone. "Oh, hello, Doyle," he said, giving him a grim smile. "Do go inside, Xander's fixing dinner. Buffy, where's Sileya, her things arrived and her father sent me a letter I'd best tell her about now."
"She's over in my place blowing off steam from the imagined slight."
Miri gave her father a smile. "She clean. Me help but she say no." She looked up at her aunt. "Me clean?"
"Yes, you may help Oz clean tonight," Giles told her absently, heading for the trailer. "She is right about one thing, Buffy, you do need to clean better. Before you get mice."
"I try," Buffy called after him. She looked at Doyle again. "I do try but the cleaning stuff just makes me ill."
"My sis used to be the same way," Doyle told her, trying to be gentle and diplomatic sounding. "She ended up with a housekeeper."
"Yeah, but they won't give me one," Buffy pointed out. "I asked."
"If we can't have one, you can't," Xander called from inside the house. "Where's Giles?"
"Out at the trailer. Want me to get him?" Buffy asked.
"No, I'll tell the Council to call back."
"Don't you dare," Giles called, turning around and heading back. "I need to talk to the twits." He jogged back up onto the porch, taking the phone. "Yes?" He walked down the steps, sitting on them. "Yes, this is he." He shook his head, lowering it so he could hold onto his forehead, before it could explode. "No, she's fine. We started working with her today. Yes, that's what her father's letter said." He grimaced. "I didn't know that. Oh. All right then. I'll make that a consideration. Were you going to send one of the young ones out here to help me?" He snorted then chuckled. "I'm sure but there are some that are reasonably decent. That Collin person for one. Oh, I'm sorry. I hadn't heard. Yes, of course I wouldn't have. Wesley is near by, I can count on him if I need to, and I'm more than competent to deal with her. Of course I will. I have lived around that life myself." He smiled. "Yes, really. Don't worry about her, worry about the girl in front of her. From what her father said, neither of them would last long." He hung up, fake-smiling at Buffy. "We've now got major problems. The girl that was called when Kelly died lasted all of an hour. She had a heart condition and the calling made her go." He tossed her the phone. "We're going to have a lot of problems, my dear." He stood up, going back to the trailer. "Sileya," he called as he got to the door, letting her walk out to meet him. "Your things arrived, as did a letter from your father which I think you should read." He handed it to her, walking in to sit at the table.
Sileya sat down, reading the letter. "Oh, goody," she said stiffly. She put it down, glaring at him. "Why did this happen?"
"Mostly because he thought you'd be safer. Ethan does know about society, my dear, even if he is an imbecile about normal people most of the time." He grimaced. "Your father's family is sub- royal, for some part of it, and that's the side he's from. I believe your Uncle is a Lord or something. He wouldn't have pulled you from your old life if he hadn't felt the need to." He reached over, touching the back of her hand. "I know this will be a hard adjustment, there's no one here that's near your social status and that'll be hard for you to deal with, but we will do what we can to ease that problem."
She waved it off. "I hung out with the academics at my old school, Uncle Rupert. I won't miss the other pre-society girls and boys. I wasn't really looking forward to being a debutante anyway." She sighed, looking at the letter. "He did say I was going to get the rest of my things in a few days, but where am I going to wear my formals?"
Giles shrugged. "I have no clue, unless you plan on spending some time in Los Angeles' social scene. I'm sure your mother could get you an introduction out there and, with all luck, you'll have time before you're called to enjoy life."
"No thanks," she said dryly. She looked around the trailer. "I guess it's a good thing Father first brought me somewhere that was so very different from home." Giles looked confused so she explained it. "When he first took me, we lived in a house without servants, mostly so I could get used to the state I would now guess. He knew I'd end up out here, far, far away from everything I've ever known."
"That does bring up another question," Giles told her. "Your schooling?"
"I'm in an alternative school back at home. Very advanced and challenging. I have no idea where I should be put around here?"
"Knowing the local high school? In college." He gave her a small smile. "Is your name change all right with you?"
"No, but I can see why he did it. You won't have as much trouble getting me into school if my name's the same as yours." She looked at the letter again. "Sileya Rayne Giles. Sounds funny, doesn't it?"
Giles nodded. "Very. Almost as much as the woman my father wanted me to marry at one point, Ethan's younger sister Elena Socrates Rayne."
"Eww, met her. She hates me."
"She's not very fond of anyone not like her," he explained to her. "Even Ethan doesn't rate attention from her unless she wants him to do something for her." He looked her over. "Come, why don't we get your things moved up to your room. It's almost dark and I do believe Wesley would like to talk to you tonight since you can't go out."
"Why not? I mean, can't he keep me out of trouble?"
"Maybe, but we're not taking that chance. Not until you're called if this situation isn't fixed." He gave her a stern frown. "It's not because of your age, or your gender, it's because I really don't want you to die before you've lived. This town is highly dangerous and if this vampire knew who Kelly was, odds are he knows who Buffy is and where she's staying. And I'd also bet that he's spied on us here to see who else is around. I don't want to go out tonight but it is my duty to hunt this person down and collect the damages for what he's done from his hide." He stood up. "Come, let's go get you settled in formally."
Sileya looked around the trailer, grimacing. "Give me a few more minutes. I can't stand this mess." She headed back into the living room, going back to her straightening up.
Sileya and Wesley stared at each other across the length of the couch, and finally Wesley looked away. "So," he started, "I hear you're from Connecticut?"
"Yup. From Greenwich." She looked him over. "You're really a Watcher?"
"I was, a few years back. I was Faith's Watcher, and Buffy's for a while after they fired Giles." He looked her outfit over. "Who dressed you?"
"My father, Ethan. He sent me a bunch of new clothes so I'm breaking them in."
He nodded. "Very practical. Easy to fight in and it will blend in well, both at night and at school." He gave her a small smile. "That was always Buffy's consideration, that she look good while she fought."
Sileya chuckled. "I noticed. But how did she fight in those strapless tops?"
"She found a way somehow," Xander said as he walked down the stairs. "Only ended up topless once." He hefted a bag over his shoulder. "I'm going out now. Giles is presently knocked out on the bed. Tell him I'm heading to work after this, I'm due there at ten." He waved and walked out, leaving them alone.
Wesley counted the seconds before Giles came rushing down the stairs, surprising himself when he got to two minutes. "He's left. Said he was going hunting then to work. That he'd be there at ten."
Giles glared at the former Watcher-turned-vampire. "You should have stopped him. He shouldn't have gone out alone."
"He, Buffy, and Doyle went out," Sileya told him. "Buffy said she was going to throw a fit if they tried to make her stay here." The glare got stronger. "Her exact words were something to the effect of 'I'm going to throw such a hissy the house is going to shake as if it's an earthquake and then I'm going to call Willow to knock your scrawny butts out'." She gave him a pleasant, but formal and cold smile. "She insisted."
Giles sighed. "I do wish they would have let me go. Buffy's in no shape to be fighting. Especially not six months pregnant."
Wesley snickered. "Cordelia beat someone who came in to harass Angel the other day. It seems both of them have become another of those cardboard American action heros that the boys so love to watch."
Giles shook his head, heading back up the stairs. "I have to get ready to force myself to watch Xander exploit himself. Tell me if they call."
"Of course," Wesley called after him. He looked over this new girl again. "It's most odd sometimes. Giles loves them both most of the time, but they've had some very bad fights in the past. Including a few where Xander left them with Miriam." He smiled fondly. "She's such a sweet girl."
"For now," Sileya corrected. "I'm sure she'll have those growth moments when I can give her my crown."
"You have a title?" Wesley asked in shock.
"Not quite. Though from what I hear, my father's Uncle is a Lord. No, our town hosts this small pageant for upcoming debutantes so the other families get to know them earlier. I have my first runner up crown here. It's one of those things that my father sent with my new things."
Wesley smiled and shook his head. "You're a most unusual girl, Sileya. I think you could do quite well in the duty."
"But I don't want to do it, I want to go back to my old life. Even if my new step-father is a dick." She snapped her fingers. "Do you know how my father got my named changed so easily? He exposed the fact that my father was a half-demon of some sort. The courts thought he was delusional." She shook her head. "My father can be quite cruel sometimes."
"At least you know the truth," he told her gently. "Doyle's a half-demon himself. They're not all bad."
"No, but my step-father is. He's a dick." She looked up and shrugged. "He and I didn't get along. That's why I was kinda happy when my Father took me in."
"Until you found out about all this," Wesley finished for her. He moved closer, pulling her in for a hug. "Don't worry, my dear, your Watcher is to become your adoptive family, that's the way the system works. Giles and I will be here for you always."
She leaned away from him. "Don't promise things you can't keep."
"Oh, I'm not. The average Slayer lasts about thirteen months." Her face fell. "That's why you were sent here. Buffy's been the Slayer since she was fourteen."
"Wow, and she's like twenty-two now, right?" Wesley nodded. "Okay, I'm finally starting to get it. Dad actually wants me to live so he's sent me to someone who can make sure of it. Right so far?"
"Very correct," Wesley praised. "Though your father never has a single motive in mind, that's why Giles is being so cautious."
"Everyone keeps saying what a bad person my father is but no one's ever told me why."
"Ask Xander some time about his time as a soldier. That was prompted by your father." Wesley looked out the window. "Your father's tricks seem to be more about annoyance and chaos than about actually hurting people, though his stunt with the candy and turning all the adults back into sixteen year olds wasn't very pleasant for some from what I've heard." He coughed lightly. "We've met your father in the past as an enemy, both Giles and the Council. We're all going to be a bit more careful around you as a result. Give it time, I'm sure they'll start to treat you normally," he told her with a small, warm smile. "Did you meet Jim and Sam? I heard they were up yesterday when you got in."
"Yeah, but we never really talked or anything. They seemed nice. Especially that Blair guy. He seemed pretty cool for such an old guy."
Wesley smiled at her. "He used to teach college courses and he's very used to dealing with the paranormal now. If you're having problems adjusting, ask if Giles or one of the other two can't make you an appointment to see him or his wife. Preferably him though, as he's had the most experience with it." He looked toward the stairs as a little figure tried to sneak down them in the weak light. "Miriam, what are you doing?" he asked.
Miri jumped then frowned at him. "Shh. Me go visit pony." She waved at Sileya and headed for the door, not expecting her Uncle to pick her up and hold her. "Me go," she said, pointing at the door.
"No, you may not go," Wesley told her firmly. "You'll get lost in the woods before you get to the neighbor's farm." He frowned at her. "You may be able to go see her in the morning, all right? We'll ask your father."
"Me go now!" she demanded, kicking him in the stomach and getting dropped. She ran for the door, not expecting anyone else to grab her, especially not Spike. "Me go!" she demanded.
"I doubt it," Spike growled at her. "Back to bed with you." He walked her to the foot of the stairs and put her down, pointing up them. "Now, before I tell your father."
She pouted but he didn't relent so she drug herself back up the stairs. "Meany. Me pony," she told him in the most pitiful tone she could.
"In the morning, poppet," Spike explained, still pointing. He watched as she finished walking up to her room, then turned to shake his head at Wesley. "Pity she's not a little older yet. Fantastic fits we'd be getting." He clapped his hands together. "Willow wanted to see you. She told me to come and get you and her." He looked Sileya over. "You're the new girl then?"
"Not yet," Wesley corrected. "There's one in front of her."
"Yeah, heard she was a princess who was afraid of dirt." Spike shrugged. "Come on, let's go."
"I have to tell Giles," Wesley said, heading up to the master bedroom.
Spike looked her over again, taking a long time. "You need work, chit. You're not near good enough yet."
"Hey! I've only known about this stuff for a few days." She crossed her arms. "It's not my fault I wasn't kidnapped as an eight year old to start training."
Spike smiled at her. "Good, it's good to see another of you with life. Makes it more fun." He headed outside. "Come on then, we've got to go. Before Willow throws another fit. Her cousin's comin' in and she's not real happy."
"Wait for me," Wesley called, walking back down the stairs to meet them at the door. "He's not very happy and we'll have to be back before he has to leave to join Xander at work. We can't leave the kids alone and Buffy's napping already. Seems Doyle called from their patrol route and she's fallen asleep in the back of his car."
"Yeah, heard the baby was demonic. Pity that. She was such a good Slayer." He shrugged, leading them out to his old, battered Corvair. "Get in." He slid behind the wheel, letting them decide who got the cramped back seat.
"This is worse than Giles' old car," Wesley complained. "Why did you get this?"
"It's only me and Willow," Spike scoffed. "It's not like we needed more room." He reached over to slam the other door. "There, off we go." He started the engine, nodding as it started to squeak. "Come on, one more time," he coaxed it, trying the engine again. This time it roared to life and he backed down the drive at around forty miles an hour. "You'll like Homer. He's a bit like her only without the magic." He did a spin in the middle of the road and headed for town, Sileya yelling in pleasure, Wesley yelling in fear as he cowered in the back seat.
Giles walked into the police station, glaring at the three people sitting there. "Are they being held?" he asked the desk Sargent.
"Nah, two of them didn't have a clue. The other's not something we want to deal with tonight." He waved at them. "All yours."
Giles glared at the three people. "In the Explorer, now." He followed behind them, grabbing Spike by the back of his duster when he tried to stray off the chosen path. He got in, looking at the people in the back, ignoring Wesley completely. "What were you thinking?"
"Willow said we needed a new car," Spike said with a diffident shrug. "We were tryin' the model out."
Wesley turned to glare at him. "You will never do that to us again, Spike. It was most fortunate that the officers believed us about not being with you when you stole the car. Imagine what sort of reputation Sileya is going to get from this episode."
The girl in question cleared her throat. "Sileya already has a criminal record so lets not talk about her reputation, huh?" Giles gave her a look in the mirror. "I was caught breaking into my boyfriend's house by his parents and they pressed charges. He was there but he wasn't being allowed to see me because his father's a royal dick and my parent's aren't royal enough for him." She snorted. "He wanted his son to be pure for his future wife and it was already *way* too late." She gave him a little, pleased, smile. "Any other questions?"
"No, I think I've heard enough," Giles sighed. "Where were you three going?"
"Willow's," Wesley said, putting a hand on Giles' thigh. "Thank you for coming after us. I had no desire to spend any more time in there."
"Next time, I'm going to send Buffy and Doyle," Giles told him firmly. "Just so this doesn't happen again."
"Oh, it won't," Spike said. "Not nearly as fun next time," he muttered, then nudged Sileya when he noticed she had heard.
"Spike, don't make me drop you off," Giles warned. "If I do, then I'm going to Willie's and tell him all about the spell she put on you to make you her lap dog."
"You wouldn't," Spike snorted. Then he saw what street they were on. "Fine, I'll be good. For now."
Giles nodded, turning the car toward Willow's apartment. "Thank you."
Willow looked Sileya over, blowing the candle out. "Absolutely no gift at all," she told Giles with a smile. "Which is a good thing I guess."
"It is," he assured her, helping Sileya off the floor and onto the couch. "I'm sure we'll be able to find enough sorcerers to help her when she needs it. Maybe even her father." He looked his charge over. "What's wrong, dear? You look shocked."
"To an extent," Willow said, curling up in her new girlfriend's, Tara, lap in their recliner so she could snuggle in and be held. "That was to find out if you have magical gifts or not, and if anyone had already cast any spells on you. As far as I could tell, you don't have any gifts. You do have a protection placed on you, and it looked a lot like Ethan's signature, which Giles made me memorize after he was turned into a demon by your father once." She smiled at the girl. "If you need magical help, you can yell in our direction," she took Tara's hand to hold. "We're both witches in training. Giles is a sorcerer." She looked up at him. "What's up with her father anyway? Is he in town?"
"I'm not sure, but I would doubt it," Giles said, sitting on the arm of the couch. "He does trust me to train the girls, otherwise he wouldn't have brought Sileya to me." He patted her head. "She'll be fine and if her father is about, then we'll just have to deal with the havoc he'll cause when it happens."
"My dad's not that bad," Sileya protested. "Mostly it's pranks and things."
"Oh, they are, but they're most uncomfortable and harmful in some cases. The Halloween that he had everyone possessed by the spirit of their costumes was most dreadful. Xander became a soldier and shot at some of the little goblins going around. Willow became a spirit, though her attire was most atrocious." He looked at her. "What was Buffy dressing you up as? You never did say."
"And I'm not going to either," Willow said with a grin. "Get over it already." She focused on Spike, who was coming back in after doing his punishment of the dishes. "Go do the laundry too." She zapped him with a spark of power, making him jump. "Now, before I start yelling about you stealing cars and corrupting Wesley."
Wesley smiled at her. "You do that very well," he commended. "Have you had many pets?" Spike growled behind him, making him duck. "Well, you are."
"Shut up," Spike said, heading into the bedroom. "Do your own underwear," he called.
"Fine, don't get any tonight," Willow yelled at him. "Or for the next week." Giles spluttered and choked, Wesley not doing much better. "I meant letting him feed off me. He nibbles every so often." She grinned at the shocked expressions. "What did you think I meant?" she asked innocently.
"Never mind," Giles said tiredly. "I'm not even going to think about any other possible meanings." He looked at Sileya, who was yawning. "I think someone's ready to go home." He checked his watch, frowning. "And I have to watch Xander at work, I'm already late." He stood up, holding a hand out to pull Sileya off the deep cushioned couch. "Come, dear, I'll drop you at the bottom of the driveway and then go to where he is." He bowed to Willow. "I thank you for doing the spell for us, I hadn't even thought to check her for gifts." He let her walk out first, smiling at the tiredness she was throwing off. "Come on then, lets get you to bed. All you'll have to do is walk up the drive."
"It's a really long drive," Sileya complained through a yawn. "Maybe you could just pull up by the door?"
"Of course I will," Giles told her, making sure she was hitched in before starting the engine, heading for home.
Giles walked into the strip club, wincing at how loud the music was. He took a table where he could see the stage, trying hard not to show his revulsion for what his lover was doing. He asked the waitress for a scotch, neat, then went back to watching Xander parade around for money.
Xander prowled off the stage, heading right over to Giles' table. "You were late," he chided, sitting down with a smirk for the waitress. "See, I said they'd be here."
"Yeah, he is," she said, handing him a bottle of water. "You sure you don't want something stronger, honey, your shoulder's bleedin' again."
Xander shook his head. "It's fine." He opened the water, waiting until she left to look at Giles. "And what sort of explanation do you have, young man? You were supposed to be here before I went on."
"Spike stole a car then picked up Sileya and Wesley in it," Giles told him with a grimace. "I had to go pick them up and then Willow was testing Sileya for gifts and works on her." He finished his drink, looking around. "These are really overpriced you know."
"Yup, but that's how the dancers make money." He smiled at his boss. "Mine," he said, patting Giles' hand.
"Good. You okay?" He looked at the bandage. "You need to change that, you know the rules, no blood on the floor."
"Did I get some on stage?" The manager shook his head with a small smile. "Okay, I'll go change it in a second. Just needed a kiss." He leaned over, giving Giles a short, sweet, tempting kiss, which got the attention of the people in the club. He pulled back to the sound of clapping and hoots. "Hey," he complained, standing up. "I can do that much." He grinned and walked back to the changing room, going to do as he was told.
Giles looked up at the manager. "How has he been? In any trouble?"
"We had to remove someone for trying to go too far with him but otherwise no," the manager admitted. "He's a good kid." He walked toward the bar, and his office behind it. "He has another set in an hour," he called over his shoulder.
"Goody," Giles sighed. "I'll have to watch it again."
"With different music this time," Xander whispered in his ear. Giles started, looking up at him. "Yup, I learned how to do that fast." He sat down next to his lover, grabbing his hand to hold. "See, not so bad."
"Yes it is," Giles disagreed. "It's quite bad. I really do wish you could find a better job."
"Not all of us are super brains," Xander reminded him, just a touch of frost coming into his voice. "And I will not have the college debate here. I'm not going. It's not worth anything to me." He relaxed, grabbing his bottle of water to sip. "So, Spike stole a car?" he asked, changing the subject.
"Yes, a Corvair. And he terrified Wesley, that's how bad his driving was." They shared a laugh, Giles getting past his comments. For now.
Giles walked Xander into the house, steadying his tired form up the stairs and to their room, closing the door behind them without waking Oz. He undressed his lover as silently as he could, helping him under the covers, giving him a gentle kiss before heading off to do his nightly routine.
Oz rolled over, looking at Xander's barely open eyes. "You okay?" he asked, rubbing a hand down an oily chest. "You need a shower."
"I'll do laundry in the morning," Xander sighed, snuggling in. "Just tired, that's all. Did an extra set. They actually liked me this time. Got great tips." He yawned. "Night."
"Night, babe." Oz waited until Giles had walked out to look at him. "Good?"
"Very good," Giles said, sliding in behind Xander's still body. "He did an excellent fourth show when he was exhausted. He sold quite a few drinks, got many tips." He reached over to rub his finger across Oz's lower lip. "I'm afraid he's going to start liking it there. He's going to start having a very decent paycheck."
"No I won't," Xander mumbled. "Taxes are killer." He rolled to snuggle on Giles' chest. "Why did Spike steal a car?"
"To have something to do," Giles said, giving Oz a smile. "Apparently he was bored."
"Ah," Oz said, snuggling in behind him. "Who's that other smell?"
"One of the dancers kept hugging him," Giles said, glaring out the window. "I was very possessive all night but he still did it."
"Then I guess I'll have to fix that tomorrow night," Oz told him, trying to calm the jealousy he could see flashing in the dark eyes. "I'll stop it and protect him, just like you would."
"Thank you. I really don't want to have to fight for his affection. That other dancer was much younger and more limber."
"And a ho," Xander said, raising his head as far as he could. "I'm not leaving, not even for the slimy, slinky dancer that keeps propositioning me." He covered his mouth. "Never mind." He put his head back down. "Let's nap, okay? You can plot death strategies in the morning."
"Oh, I will," Giles told him, sharing a hard look with Oz. "You rest, love. You too, Oz, you have to be up in three hours."
"I'm just going to stay up." Oz sat up, looking down at the two of them cuddled together. "I'll get napping Xander later, after class." He slid out of the bed, heading for the closet.
"We don't mind alarm clocks," Xander mumbled. "Really."
"I'm not sleepy anyway," Oz told him, leaning down to get a kiss as he pulled on a pair of jeans. "You rest, babe. You deserve it after working so hard." He nodded outside for Giles' benefit then walked out, heading down to where he could barely hear a TV running. He quickly backed out so Wesley and Doyle didn't see him, heading for the kitchen and the books he had left lying in there. "Okay, not going to think about that," he told himself, grabbing his books and turning to find Wesley standing right behind him. "Didn't mean to interrupt, man, go back to having fun. Just don't stain the couch. Xander cleans those." He tried to move past the vampire but was held still. "Said I was sorry," he reminded.
"I was actually wondering why you were awake," Wesley said dryly. "We would have locked the door if we knew you were going to get up and wander around tonight." He looked the young man over. "I thought the twins were finally sleeping through the night."
"They are, but I'm awake and Giles and Xander need naps. So I'm going to continue studying. Make sure I'm not asleep around dawn? Eight am tests are hard."
"Of course. Go study, Oz. We'll try to be quieter."
"No big, I'm used to studying to screaming kids." He headed for the library, shutting himself inside. He picked up a book lying on one of the little tables, giving it a clueless look. "Candle making the natural way?" He shook his head, putting it down again and sitting in his favorite chair so he could start to study again. Within a few minutes, he was out to the world.
Giles walked into the kitchen to find Xander and Sileya bent over a book, both of which looked embarrassed as they pulled back when they heard him. "Good morning," he told them, heading for the coffeepot. "Do I need to make more than I need?"
"Had some," Xander told him. "I've got to stretch tonight. My legs cramped up this morning." He hopped up, going over to hug Giles gently from behind. "Thank you for coming to watch over me last night. I like it that you're so protective of me."
Giles turned, giving him a kiss and a squeeze. "I do appreciate you letting me purge all of my protective instincts on you, Xander, but I still wish you had found another job." He dropped a kiss on the sweaty forehead. "What have you been doing?"
"Searching for Miri. Apparently she decided to sneak out and go sleep with the pony." Xander pulled back enough to show his displeasure. "Our neighbor, who by the way is named Mr. Anderson, was very nice and brought her back this morning. I met him in the woods. He called as Oz walked out the door and Oz ran to get me up." He snuggled back into the warm chest. "Coffee's not running."
Giles turned to look at the pot. "Yes, well, it'd work best if I added the grounds and some water before turning it on." He was released and Xander went back to the table. "What are you two doing?"
"Looking at local schools," Xander told him, holding up the phone book. "Did you know we had a Christian Academy in town?"
"Yes, I was aware of that. It's a little place off the highway." Giles finished measuring in the coffee, then took the pot to get some clean water. "I believe it's affiliated with the church whose sign simply reads 'Jesus Church'." He put everything where it was supposed to go and turned on the coffee maker, waiting for it to start. "Why isn't it working?" he asked.
Xander got up to come over and look, frowning at it. He plugged it back in, then went back to the table, flipping the pages on the phone book.
"Thank you, dear," Giles sighed, leaning against the counter as the dark, rich liquid ran into the pot for him. After he had had his first sip, he walked over to see what else they had come up with. "Any luck finding her somewhere besides Sunnydale High?"
"Not a bit," Sileya said with a shrug. "I refuse to go to a religiously affiliated school. If I wanted to be tainted by faith, I'd start going to church." She sighed, slumping in her seat enough so her chin was lying on the table. "Do I really have to go there?"
"It's that or home school, yes," Giles told her, "and one of the best ways to know when there's a problem is to be in the prime hunting population, which around here would be the local high school." He took another sip of his coffee. "Did we switch brands again?"
"Yeah, that's part of the specialty basket Joyce sent us for watching over Buffy." Xander winked at him. "Jamaican from what it said." He closed the phone book, looking at Sileya. "We could try calling the school board you know. Maybe there is another school here and it's not listed. Maybe even an alternative school like you used to go to."
"And maybe Miri's pony will turn into a golden statue," Sileya said sweetly. "I doubt that you're going to have a top-notch alternative school out here. They only seem to be around high income college towns."
"We fit half of that," Xander reminded her. "We do have a very good private college here."
"Yeah, and it feeds from the local Catholic school. Not gonna do it."
"That's a decent Busch impersonation," Giles told her. She shook her head and groaned, leaving them alone. "Sorry, dear. Go jog for an hour or so."
"Jogging's dumb," Sileya called as she headed down the hall. "I'm going to find Buffy and see if she wants to spar."
"I doubt she's up," Xander called. "She's not a morning person." He looked at Giles, trying to figure out how awake he was. "Are you okay with last night?" he asked softly.
"No, and I told you that a few times last night. I hate that you're working out there and putting your body on display like that. I don't want to have other people thinking about you in a sexual manner."
"Actually, it's kinda cool. Nobody's ever done that before." He saw the hurt look. "Except you and Oz. But not even Cordy or Anya used to have wet dreams about me. I kinda like that someone fantasizes about me sometimes."
Giles finished his coffee. "I can't say that I do fantasize about you, or Oz," he hurried on because of the hurt look, "but then again, I've not had need of many of those recently."
"Yeah, but those are lonely people who aren't with someone, or if they are they're probably miserable. I'm bringing a little bit of happiness into their lives by showing off." He folded up on himself, pulling his knees up, his usual hurt and thinking position. "If I could find another job, I'd do it, you know that, but this is all I've found."
"I know," Giles sighed, reaching over to rub through the dark hair. "I'm sorry I can't support you in it, but I really cannot stand the thought of you being watched by all those people; and I know Oz agrees with me. It disturbs us horribly, especially when you look so happy to be up there."
"No, that's acting. I'm terrified to be up there," Xander corrected. "Want more coffee?"
"No, I'm fine, thank you." Giles put down his cup, leaning over to give his lover a kiss on the cheek. "I would rather you do anything else, even what your Uncle used to do, Xander, as long as it's not putting yourself on display that way."
"I don't want to do it but I don't have many other skills. And you said you'd think about my idea soon," he reminded.
"What idea?" Giles asked.
Xander got up and walked out, hurt looking, and headed for the library, locking himself inside. He sat down with his candle book, reading the instructions again. "I can do this," he told himself.