The Giles Thing
by Dr Squidlove
drsquidlove @@@

Xander meets the teenaged Ripper, and his relationship with Rupert Giles will never be the same again. This is kind of an ode to that look Xander gets in his eye when his life is imploding.
First of eight parts.

Pairing: Giles/Xander. Technically, it's Ripper/Xander.
Set in season three, right after Amends. Before Helpless. Everyone experiencing any kind of sexual gratification is eighteen.

Rated R, for porny goodness.
No serious violence, no sexual violence, no underage sex... mild drug use; I don't warn for anything else.

Is there anyone who doesn't love feedback? I love all kinds, including critical. This is a story a care particularly a lot about.

Wordcount: 14 560

The complete Giles Thing is on the drsquidlove livejournal,
or on my website

Everything comes from Joss, and Mutant Enemy. Everything returns to Joss, and Mutant Enemy.

Grovelling thank yous to gloriana, mmmchelle & mireille, who all helped to make this considerably better.

Also archived at No One Knows.

The Giles Thing
by Dr Squidlove
March, 2007

"Earth to Xander."


"Are there two beautiful women making out in the corner?" Buffy's tone was amused, and Willow craned her neck to see what held Xander's attention on the other side of the Bronze.

He hurriedly turned back to the table, before Buffy used some heretofore unknown Slayer sense to detect the exact direction of his line of sight. "If there was sexy girl-on-girl action, d'you think I'd still be watching from all the way over here?"

"You've been staring for ages," said Buffy.

She was still trying to see, so Xander threw an arm over her shoulders, turning her away from the corner. "Of course, if you and Willow want to give me a show..."

"Nice try."

Willow was frowning at him, though, and then she angled her chair a little further away and stared up at Oz on the stage. It made his chest ache. It felt like things were never going to be right between them. It was better now she had Oz back, but it wasn't better-better. Not fixed. Which was completely unfair, because he could pretty much look at her now and not want to kiss her.

It was completely unfair because somehow she'd come through it and landed on her feet, life back to normal, while Xander - as usual - landed on his head, repulsive to women everywhere. Welcome to 1999, already looking a hell of a lot like 1998. He should make a new year's resolution, or something. Xander Harris was gonna find someone, some non-demonic, non-evil person, to be all boyfriendy with, before 2000 hit. Ideally sooner.


"I was listening," Xander said, desperately clawing back to the thread of the conversation. "You were going to head back to the library to see if Giles had found out more about the First Evil thing that messed with Angel."

"Well, your ears were here, but your eyes were somewhere over there."

Xander very carefully did not look over to see if, yep. He was still looking. It was a guy, about their age, with short brown hair and a black leather jacket with a too-wide collar. He was half-draped against the wall, with a surly expression that flashed attitude in big whirly lights with a Tarantino soundtrack.

He'd been staring since not long after they came in. At first Xander had thought the kid was biding his time to pick a fight, but he hadn't moved, and as the night progressed his angry look took on the shadings of a permanent state of un-Zen manner of worldly being, rather than a particularly Xander-directed-ire. And there was something familiar, faintly...

"I have a feeling it's gone back to the hell from whence it came, but... I don't know. Something about that one gave me a definite sense that there was a really bad sequel on the way."

"Coming soon, to a hellmouth near you," added Willow.

Xander blinked, looking back at Buffy. "Giles is back in the library? He hasn't spent enough of his Christmas break in there?"

She shrugged. "Guess he doesn't have anything else to do."

"I remember when Christmas was the time of year when we *weren't* in school."

"You coming with?"

"After Oz is done," Willow cut in.

Yeah, Xander really enjoyed hanging out with Oz, these days. "Uh-" He slid off the stool, about to make his excuses about going to the bathroom so he could wander a little closer to the stranger, try to figure out his issue, but as he stood he saw the boy's dark expression warm into a devilish smile, and his mouth went dry. No way. "Uh. No. No, I'm, um, gonna call it a night." He grabbed up his jacket and pulled it on.

Buffy glanced awkwardly between him and Willow, and Xander almost sighed aloud. For once their indiscretion was going to work in his favour.

He didn't know why this guy was staring at him - or maybe he did, but he didn't really believe that - and he didn't know why he didn't want to tell Buffy and Willow - unless it was that same maybe that he didn't really believe.

If he *had* believed it, then that would mean that when he looked the boy boldly in the eye as he moved away from the table, he was inviting him to follow, or something. And he wasn't, because Xander Harris may have had occasional male guest stars in his jerk-off fantasies, but he certainly didn't make eyes at guys in the Bronze.

Not even to prove that Willow wasn't the only one who could get a life back.

New year's vague resolution or not, he certainly hadn't been inviting the guy out, but sure enough, thirty seconds out of the Bronze he heard footsteps behind him. Of course, that was when his good sense decided to make its occasional - but consistently tardy - appearance, to ask if the stranger with the intense glaring gaze might just perhaps, maybe, might, be a vamp.

Buffy was gonna kick his exsanguinated ass.

A subtle movement had his handy pocket stake tucked in his hand as he turned. "Hey there."

Yes, crap, it was a vampire, it had to be one because it had Xander in one of those thrall things, that was the only possible reason why he was pinned to the spot as it sauntered closer, all seductive and cool in its overly-tight jeans and white t-shirt and really expensive black jacket and one earring and hadn't Buffy warned them all about bewaring out-of-date wardrobes?

It arched an eyebrow as its glance flickered down at Xander's hand. "Won't be needing that," it murmured when it was close enough. Fingers were slipping the stake from Xander's loose fingers, sliding it into its own back pocket as it leaned in for the kill, but there was no hideous wrinkly face and he wasn't quite aiming for the neck.

Sweet Jesus, he was kissing Xander. Definitely not, no way was this a vampire. His mouth was burning hot, blowing breath gently inside Xander. He tasted of cigarettes.

So this, this was kissing a guy. It was pretty fucking good. An arm wound around Xander's waist and a hand slid into his hair, dragging him deeper. He was smaller than Xander, not shorter but leaner, somehow tighter and entirely in charge, and when he pushed Xander backwards, Xander went back until he hit a wall. In a moment between shadows he got another look at his face: green eyes? hair curly on his collar, lean, handsome, familiar but not... brother of someone at school, maybe? Or someone he'd just seen in passing?

And then the guy's body was full-length against his own, and teeth were tugging at his lip as a hand pushed between them and was - whoa - undoing Xander's fly. This was surely a bad idea, but not for any reason Xander could remember right now. He gasped and groaned as a hot hand closed around his hard dick. All of a sudden he'd gone further, way further with this guy than with he'd gone with anyone, ever, and he didn't even know his name. Xander moaned.

"That's it, yeah. Knew you'd be a player. Saw it 'cross the room, prettyboy like you 'mong the girls." English, he was English, Xander wanted another look at his face, but the boy was whispering in his ear as his hand worked magic on Xander's dick. "Fancied shagging you 'cross the table, let your girlfriends watch, maybe."

Xander whimpered, and the hand moved faster, pumping him harder than Xander ever did himself. He probably should return in kind, but he wasn't sure he'd ever be able to get his fingernails out of the bricks behind him.

Thank god, because his fingernails were all that was keeping him up as his hips chased that hot damp grip.

A hand was sliding up under his shirt, flat against his stomach, and that was somehow more shocking than what the other one was doing.

Xander made a noise he'd never made before, and then nails scratched down his stomach and Xander's vision went white, and he held onto the wall for his life.

A sticky hand was stroking him slowly as he came back. He just got a hand job from a stranger in an alley. From a guy-stranger, in an alley, right outside the Bronze. Holy crap.

Xander was panting, eyes closed. That was like nothing ever. He opened his eyes to see his partner waiting, smug. His familiar... English. And looking just like...

"Oh god. Giles?"

The guy stared at him, eyes flinty. "Who the hell're you?"

"Oh god!" Xander jerked away, shoving himself back in his pants and fumbling up the zipper, taking three tries to get the button through. He'd just been jerked off by Giles'... nephew? cousin? illegitimate love-child? Oh god. "Who are you?"

The boy snarled. "Who's askin'?" Apparently the romance was over.

"Are you- Do you know Rupert Giles?"

"The name's Ripper," the other guy snapped.

He was...? Oh god, he was. Same eyes. Earring. Barely-there dip in his chin. Pursed mouth. He was Giles exactly but not-old. Xander looked around in panic. Modern car parked on the corner. And the door to the Bronze looked just the same. Xander was definitely still living in the now. So his new friend, if it was really Giles, wasn't. "What year is it?"

"Are you barkin'?"

"Am I what? What year is it? How old are you?" Xander grabbed his arms... Young Giles was buff under his jacket. No, don't notice that.

Giles tipped his head, still annoyed, but curious now. "Eighteen."

"And what year is it?"

"It's 1972, you pillock."

"No, Marty McFly, it's 1999. You're in California."

Giles took a few steps back. "No way."

Xander grabbed his sleeve and dragged him out of the alley to the street, to see all the shiny new American cars.

"Far out." A reaction at last, wide eyes as his gaze swept over the cars.

"You didn't notice the distinct lack of flared trousers and wing collars back in the Bronze?"

"Just thought they dressed crap. Like they danced." He looked back at Xander, eyebrow raised. "Should've figured they were American."

Surely 'You just rocketed a few decades into the future,' should have got more of a reaction. Xander pulled him around. "Did you do this? Have you been messing with dark mystical powers?" Curse the hysterical note in his voice.

"No, I fuckin' haven't. This your doin', mate?"

"No! Look, Giles- oof!" Xander found himself back against the wall, struggling for the breath he'd only just regained.

"Name's Ripper, hear?" Yes, and Xander knew that expression exactly. That was Scary Giles.

Never argue with Scary Giles. "Ripper. Okay. We have to fix this. We have to go find-" Xander swallowed the first name that came to mind, "Buffy."

"Who?" Ripper didn't look impressed.

Xander was pretty sure he'd seen enough Trek to know you didn't mix up past and future, and so he had to keep his Giles out of this. Nothing upset Starfleet captains more than time travel anomalies. Not to mention the other reasons. So he just had to get back into the Bronze, tell Buffy, and let her take care of it. "We have to get someone to send you home."

"The hell." Ripper snorted and bounded back, looking around the dingy alley like he'd just landed in Wonderland. "Ninety-fuckin' nine, eh? Don't look any different to me. Come on then. Show me where the fun's at."


Ripper was already strolling off towards Main Street.

Xander knew Giles' past. At least enough to know he didn't want to know a lot about it. Enough to know that Sunnydale didn't need Giles Junior roaming its streets.

Xander froze. Oh god. He'd had intimate relations with Giles. Third base in a dark alley with Giles. "Oh god."

Ripper turned back, lifting up his hands to ask why Xander wasn't following. And then he came back, threw an arm over Xander's shoulders, and led him towards... towards something guaranteed to be bad.

This was going to be very, very bad.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

It started okay. Wandering Sunnydale with Ripper's arm slung comfortably over his shoulders was weird, even disturbing, but not in the bad category. At least, as long as Buffy and Willow and Oz headed straight to school, and didn't detour through town. It would even have been kind of nice, being held like this, if not for the Giles thing.

Ripper - and Xander was totally ready to embrace not calling him Giles - felt good. Stronger, firmer than Cordy or Will. And he was parading Xander around in a way the girls never had, like he was happy to be seen with him. Like Xander was someone to be happy to be seen with. It was kind of cool. Except for the Giles thing.

There were still a few people milling around on Main Street - not many, but enough that Xander's new charge couldn't seem to help colliding with a few of them as he passed, jarring Xander every time, never pausing long enough to collect their death-ray glares, let alone issue apologies.

"Doesn't look all that different to me."

Xander looked around. Sunnydale was kind of retro, he supposed. Typical small town. But did retro American suburbia really compare with seventies... London? "Where did you come from? I mean, where do you live?"

"I was in London. Got a couple of weeks before I get locked up at Oxford."

As much as Ripper tried to be too cool to be impressed, Xander could see his eyes were taking in everything. The buildings, the cars, the shops. Ripper unwound from him and made straight for the first shop window under a street light, using the reflection to check and groom his hair.

"So..." Maybe if Xander went along for a while, he'd have a chance of dragging him back to safety. "What do you want to do?"

Ripper smiled, a mean smile that didn't meet his eyes. These days it tended to indicate that the smilee was about to get staked by an angry Slayer. On Ripper it was... sexy. Ripper seemed to be well aware of its power, as he pulled a pack of cigarettes from his back pocket and slipped two in his mouth. He flicked his lighter with a flair that... actually made him look like a poser. But a sexy poser. His arm slithered back around Xander's neck as his free hand offered over one of the cigarettes.

"Uh, no thanks."

Ripper's nose wrinkled in contempt.

Usually Xander didn't bow to peer pressure, as evidenced by his total lack of cool, but usually he didn't hang out with juvenile delinquents who'd time warped in from the other side of the planet, either. So he took the cigarette and inhaled and promptly bent double, coughing like the proverbial girl. Even through the hacking and wheezing, he could feel Ripper's amusement.

"Not a smoker, then?"

Xander shook his head, eyes watering.

"Slow breaths, mate." A hand rubbed Xander's back, gently, up and down the spine. It felt good, and eventually Xander got himself back under control. His lungs, at least. Not so much other parts.

With Ripper's own caught between pursed lips, Xander's cigarette was plucked from his fingers and flicked into the gutter. Ripper pulled at his elbow to get him going again, then fished in his jacket for a wallet. He frowned as he flipped through. "Guessing you don't know where to get weed."

"No... No! No weed! No drugs! And - hey!" That was American money. "Where did you get that money?"

"Found it."

Xander snatched the wallet from his hands. California licence, not Rupert Giles. In fact the photo looked remarkably like one of the people they just brushed past. "You *stole* that man's wallet? You picked his pocket?"

He shrugged. "Don't freak out. I'll split it."

Xander almost dropped it. A stolen wallet with his fingerprints all over it. "No! You have to give it back!"

Ripper looked at him with utter disbelief, and waved his arm. "Gone now, isn'he?" And he snatched it back, plucked the notes out, and tossed the empty wallet with perfect aim into a trash can on the other side of the street.

"That's it. We're leaving." Xander grabbed the leather jacket by the elbow and pulled, getting a good four feet before Ripper leaned back, a seductive spark in his eye.

"Ooooh. Gonna make me, Yank?"


"Can't be leaving yet. Not square, are we?"

"Square?" Xander squeaked, knowing exactly what he meant.

Ripper crowded up to him, warm body and hot breath and burning green eyes. "What's your name?"

"Xander." And he ought to be moving back, except he wasn't.

"Got interrupted back there. You gonna do something for me, Xander?"

Do something. For Giles. Xander shook his head, violently. Accidentally being jerked off in a dark alley by a stranger before you realised it was Giles who had his hand on your dick was apocalyptic enough. To... with his own hand on... Right now, Xander could still grasp the tenuous threads of denial that Giles had anything in his trousers at all, except for the protrusion sticking into Xander's own thigh. And maybe that was a stake. A really thick, blunt stake. Oh god.

"No more touching!" He shoved Giles - Ripper - back, and got a snort of contempt in return.

"Liked my hand down your trousers well enough."

"That's before I realised I was being felt up by the ghost of Christmas past."

"Then I'll just have to go find me own fun, won't I?"

"What? No!"

But Ripper had already danced off the kerb like he was in a damned musical, and was making his way down the street.

Xander pushed both hands through his hair. Maybe it would be best just to get Giles. Go to the school, get Giles, let him deal with Ripper. He was responsible for him, after all. Dealing with the little criminal degenerate was just about as perfect definition of justice as anyone was ever likely to come up with.

If they could find him again.

Ripper had stopped dead in the middle of the street. Probably not a good sign. Xander traipsed after him, until he realised what had captured his attention, and then he broke into a jog. No way was he leaving Ripper alone while he tracked down Giles.

"It's a magic shop," Ripper explained eagerly, as though Xander didn't know, as though it wasn't the exact reason Xander was still here.

"It's closed."

"Good one." Ripper was looking around now, hands flexing like he wanted just the right projectile to hurl through the storefront. He grinned at Xander. "I know a few spells."

"Good for you. I'm sure your parents are very proud."

That pissed him off, at least enough to get his attention. "You're a boring little shite."

"Fine. Can we go?"

"Go then." Ripper shoved him backwards, hard enough that Xander almost lost his footing.

This was not getting Ripper on his side. And the only thing in this whole disastrous night that Xander was absolutely certain of was that if anything happened, everyone was going to blame him. Especially Giles.

"It's a bad magic shop. I mean a stupid magic shop. Not spells." Yeah, that was pretty good. Even had Ripper listening. "Magic tricks. Cards and rabbits, and boxes to saw through, not wolfs bane or crystal balls. Not a newt eye in sight. And absolutely no powerful 5000 year-old demon-summoning books in Latin."

"Oh." Ripper looked so disappointed that Xander felt sorry for him for about a third of a second. Then he got his rebel-without-a-cause look back in place and clapped Xander's shoulder. "Come on, then. You're supposed to be showing me your shiny futuristic world. Where are the flying cars and robots and 3D TVs?" He suddenly looked up, and peered at the sliver of moon. "They got a colony up there yet?"

"Moon colony?"


Xander laughed, and then he realised, 1972. Ripper must have seen Apollo land just three years ago. A moon colony was probably just around the corner for him. "I don't know if I should be telling you stuff."

"I'm learning stuff anyway, aren' I? California's still here, so I guess Russia didn't nuke you. And your cars have wheels, so I guess no flying."

"No flying cars," Xander confirmed.

Ripper gazed over the cars parked along the street. "Nice cars, though." He tipped his head at one a few lengths up, and wandered over, pressing his face against the driver's window.

Xander's stomach plummeted to his feet.

"You like it?" Ripper asked, forgetting his attitude and running his fingers along the metallic paint like it was a woman's thigh. Or, Xander supposed, a man's thigh. "It's like a Mustang, but it's not." He shifted, trying to find a better angle to see through the tinted window. "How's it powered? Solar? Atomic?"

"Um. Gas."

"Hydrogen gas?"

"No. Just... gas. Gasoline." Xander shrugged, somehow embarrassed that the nineties weren't cooler.

"Oh." Giles turned back to the car, and brightened. "I've never driven anything built in the nineteen-nineties. Bet she goes like the clappers."


"What's your deal?" He glared, and then his voice shifted from a growl to a low purr. "If you're such a pansy, why don't you just sod off?" He stretched back against the car, arms spread along the roof, groin thrust forward, those jeans way too tight to disguise what was definitely not a stake. "Have you ever shagged in the back of a... whatever the hell this is? Leather squeaking, crammed into sloping seats, head bang, bang, banging on the window..."

"Well, no." Xander didn't really fit in his own jeans, right now. "Though, truly, you've painted such a vivid picture that I feel like I have."

"We'll take it somewhere quiet." Ripper raised a wicked eyebrow, then turned, bending over to examine the lock. Or to show off his really, really great ass. Which Xander wasn't watching because, oh yeah, this was Giles. Giles, Giles, Giles, he chanted in his head.

Xander was running out of ideas. Badgering him didn't work, challenging him didn't work, and the only thing that did work to distract him was the only thing that could possibly be worse than a Ripper-style crime spree.

Which was looking like it was about to kick into high gear because Ripper was slipping something down the window-gap. "Ripper, no!"

An alarm shrieked in the silence, sending Ripper stumbling back into Xander's knees, and the pair of them went rolling on the sidewalk.

"Soddin' hell! What the-" Ripper stared wide-eyed at the screaming car, now flashing all its lights like a really angry Christmas tree.

Xander grabbed his arm and hauled him up. "Come on!"

Ripper was with him, though he hadn't turned from the show. "Can't fly but your cars have fuckin' air raid sirens now?"

"We have to go!"

He followed for about two more steps, and then broke Xander's grip to jog to the next car along. He gave it a solid kick in the door, and horns blared, a grating counterpart to the shrill wailing of the first.

Xander wanted to cover his ears, but Ripper laughed and bounced about like a little kid. He hurried to the next, pouting when it met his kick with silence. He kicked it harder, leaving a bigger dent, and then rushed on.

He seemed to know Xander wasn't chasing him to join in, and he ran up the hood of the next car to its roof, giving it an extra jump for good measure, throwing his head back to laugh when it joined the cacophony, and running down the trunk. Up and over the next car, darting across the street to leap up on the hood of a Mercedes.

The alarms were piercing and grating and thudding and driving Xander crazy, and cops were gonna show any minute. Xander managed to catch him around the waist and yank him down, just as a shout broke through the noise, and thank god Ripper ran with him, the pair of them racing through streets and down alleys, long after Xander's legs were burning and his lungs were bursting, until the alarms were a distant whine, and Xander had to stop, had to drop his hands on his knees and gasp painfully for air.

Ripper was laughing, wild and carefree, which was totally unfair because Xander was pretty sure his heart was going to beat itself right out of its chest, pulse ringing like a big vampire dinner bell. He couldn't stand straight but he turned his head to glare.

It was wasted on Ripper, who was slouched back against a wall, panting as hard as he was laughing. "That was wild! Fuckin' alarms on cars!"

But Xander wasn't glaring anymore. Ripper was... Xander skirted over 'beautiful' and settled on 'unbelievably sexy'. His eyes were dancing in the dim streetlight, and the grin on his face was totally genuine. He was clutching his stomach as the chuckles continued. Giles never laughed like this.

Ripper was watching him now, innocent grin turning dirty, but still the same honesty in it. It made Xander's stomach feel funny in a way that wasn't totally unlike the still-lingering fear.

He didn't move as Ripper pushed off the wall, casually meandering closer. Couldn't move at all, except to let Ripper edge him back against a chain link fence.

Better than a crime spree, Xander told himself, only way to distract him that worked, he thought, but neither of those was remotely the reason why he was tipping his head and letting his mouth open.

Ripper's lips settled gently over his own, just brushing for a tantalising moment, and then a tongue slipped over Xander's, sweeping up behind his teeth, tasting him inside.

A hand pressing his chest so the fence dug in his back, and a hand sliding down his thigh, Xander was pinned under the sexiest kiss of his admittedly short life. Giles kissed like this? Wet and slow and now Xander imagined his Giles, very old, tweed-wearing, bespectacled, librarian Giles, pinning someone with a kiss like this, and somehow that almost gave him the power to send this boy sprawling, except he was just bracing against his solid, leather-covered shoulders when-


-and Xander's stomach, which had been residing in his shoes for most of the evening, plummeted further down, possibly tunnelling straight through to the Master's now-abandoned lair. And Xander's hands, which had been pressed to push, now grabbed the leather and held on for dear life.

He swallowed. "Angel." His voice hadn't hit that octave since he was fourteen.

Angel was staring with a look that made his usual expression seem positively animated.

The jacket in Xander's clenched fists pulled as Ripper tried to turn, and Xander jerked him back.

"Are you all right?" Angel asked, which was positively the most stupid question Angel had ever asked. Xander had just been caught making out with Giles. By Angel. What could possibly be right? Nothing was ever going to be right, ever again.

"Your boyfriend?" Ripper whispered hotly in Xander's ear, with a lewd little grind of his hips.


Xander realised too late he'd answered two questions, and he threw up a hand to stay Angel as he wrapped a hand tight around Ripper's slim waist to keep him from turning. They were in shadows here but vamp vision... oh god, vamp smell! Bad enough that Angel had seen this at all. If he recognised Xander's partner, Xander was going to have to stake him as a matter of honour. And Buffy would want to know why, and Willow would wheedle out of him that Angel had caught him necking with Giles, and the world as he knew it would be over.

"It's fine. Angel. Go away."

Angel relaxed and smirked, letting his gaze roam down their locked bodies and back up again. Amused. The undead bastard was laughing at him. "This is a bad part of town to be... necking in."

Every bit of hate that Xander had ever felt for Angel came back, and was multiplied by a bazillion. "Go. Away."

Angel didn't move an inch.

Xander squeezed his eyes shut, resting his chin on Ripper's shoulder. "Please?" Ripper's hair tickled his ear, which was kind of nice, except not right now. He reopened his eyes, to see Angel strolling away. Xander sighed and loosened his death grip.

"Not your boyfriend." Ripper was amused, too, as he finally got a look at the departing intruder. Was anyone not laughing at him? "Just some mate you don't like seeing you with other mates."

Xander ran through the forty different ways to describe Angel, and settled on "I kinda hate the guy."

Ripper's eyes lit. "Then let's go kick the crap out of him!"

For a shining moment, Xander considered the merits of that one. Giles might even appreciate the poetic justice of it. But while he suspected Ripper was a better fighter than himself, the pair of them were hardly a match for Angel. "Tempting as that sounds, he'd kick our asses."

"Didn't look so tough."

"You didn't see him."

"Didn't sound so tough."

"He's a vampire."

"Vampire!" Ripper stumbled back, fumbling Xander's stake from his pocket. "And you just fuckin' stood there?" He clenched the stake in his fist as he watched Angel's distant retreating back, and then looked at Xander, fear turning to awe. Or at least certifiably impressed. "Man, you just stood there."

Suddenly Xander realised he wasn't fully briefed on Giles' early introduction to the demon world. "You've never seen one?"

"Not so close. Not standing four fuckin' feet away with my back to him." He stared at the stake in his hand, as though he'd just realised what it was. "You know about 'em."

Xander lifted his shoulders. "I've fought a few."

"And won?"

"Well..." Xander considered lying, but honesty sadly prevailed. "No. I wouldn't say I won. I'd say I had the crap kicked out of me. But I've been known to land a punch or two before being pitched into a tree."

Ripper was standing well-back now, examining the whole of him. "Didn't tell me that," he purred. And then he came back and he reached a hand around to tug Xander forward to meet his lips, those amazing lips, who knew English people could kiss like this?

They were turning, until Ripper was leaning back on another car, which meant Xander could stop this any time he wanted. Any time. Any... No, he was helpless. And there were two hands sliding down his back now, to the inevitable conclusion. Giles grabbed his ass the way Aunt Katy grabbed his cheeks at Christmas, but produced an altogether different effect.

Xander groaned. He didn't know when his own hands had wrapped around Ripper, when he'd buried his own fingers in Ripper's hair, but he wasn't going anywhere any time soon. He pushed his groin forward, against Ripper's rocking hips, starting to wonder if he was going to come right here, on the street, in his pants. He kissed Ripper harder.

Ripper broke the kiss with a smile, and then there was pressure on his neck, pressing him... downwards. In the direction of his knees.

"No. No way. And even if I was going to, which I'm *not*, but... here?"

Ripper licked Xander's lips, with a devilish smile. "I like cars."

To be honest, the idea of going down on his knees here, in the street, and learning the fine art of fellatio on this young proto-Giles was starting to sound like an incredibly good idea, and that was how Xander knew that he needed to get back to the library and stick this guy in Giles' hands ASAP, temporal rips in the time-space continuum be damned.

With an effort, he managed to stay on his feet and summon a glare that would have made Willow proud.

Ripper held out for a few brief moments, then sagged and pouted. "Fine."

"Come on." Xander grabbed Ripper's hand and pulled. "We're going to my school library."

One eyebrow shot up, in a perfect impression of Giles. "And you think my thing for cars is perverted."

"Shut up."

But Ripper threaded his fingers with Xander's, lit a new cigarette with his free hand, and was willingly led towards Sunnydale High.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Of course, Xander thought, it would never be that simple. Because somehow, he'd ended up in his math classroom, propped against Mr Harper's desk, arms full of lean, writhing Ripper, nuzzled by a chin that was shaved smooth but bonier than a girl's, and those hands were wandering where Cordelia's had never ventured. Xander's own hands had somehow graduated their way to squeezing Ripper's ass, as a whole list of two-participant sexual pleasures that yesterday had been far off dreams for the distant future were suddenly here, literally, in his lap.

Xander pulled Ripper closer, kissed him harder, gasping when Ripper bit his lip, feeling the triumphant grin against his mouth. It was like a battle, kissing this guy, like wrestling to the death, like - hey. How did they end up so Ripper was the one against the desk? Of course, this was good too, Ripper's hand tangling in Xander's hair to tug him deeper, then sliding down, pushing down on his shoulder.

Sometimes you did stuff, knowing it was going to end with nothing but bad. Kissing Willow. Casting that spell on Cordelia. Something about this most definitely had that flavour of impending disaster. And yet, just a little more pressure, and this time, to hell with it, Xander went.

"That's it. Maths'll never be so boring after this, mate."

Of that Xander was pretty much certain. And math was way easier to think about right now than what he was about to do. Or, damn, how much this hurt his knees.

Ripper's jeans were crazy-tight. The view from behind had been pleasant, but now, up close and personal with the front, Xander couldn't help wincing. It was a wonder Ripper hadn't sprained himself.

His shaking hands reached up to pop the button and slowly slide the zip, and Ripper's dick pushed its way through like it was desperate for air. No underwear. He wasn't wearing any underwear.

Giles' dick. Xander swallowed. Whoever imagined that Giles was hung like... like someone who wouldn't be intimidated by some of the more unwholesome illustrations in his demon books?

He tugged the jeans a little lower to give himself more room. And more time. Brown hair grew around the base, much lighter than Xander's own, thinning back on his balls. His dick was a good length, but damn, it was thick.

...Was it still, Xander wondered? Did Giles have a baby's arm tucked in his tweedy trousers?

"You havin' trouble finding it?" was growled thickly from somewhere above him.

That was hardly likely to be the problem here. With one last waver between the lust instinct and the fear instinct, Xander went with lust and licked it from balls to tip. It tasted pretty good, and it earned him a long, warm groan that sounded exactly like Giles would sound having sex, if Xander had ever imagined such a thing.

Fingers tangled in his hair, dragging him forward, and Xander breathed deep, dizzying musk as he let Ripper slide inside.

Oh yeah. Xander was gay. All the see-sawing he'd ever done over how much he liked looking at girls, kissing girls (a pleasure already seriously overtaken by the kissing he'd done tonight) was entirely sunk by the amazing homecoming of dick in his mouth. So very gay. Xander had to squeeze his own dick painfully hard, to keep from going over.

"Fuck, yeah," drifted down from Ripper. Xander heartily agreed.

No one had ever sucked Xander's dick, but he felt he had a pretty good grasp of what might feel good, and Ripper's groans seemed to be bearing out his theories. And it wasn't uncomfortable or dirty or difficult like he'd worried it would be. It tasted good, and it felt good to have his mouth full like this, his jaw stretched wide.

Xander took him as deep as he could get and then let him slide out, in and out, god, the smell of him, and here was Xander Harris on his knees in Mr Harper's classroom sucking dick, doing a fucking great job of it, and he felt like he'd shaken something loose.

"Fuck yeah," Ripper said again, and his hips rocked as a hand settled in Xander's hair and the other settled on Xander's where it rested on Ripper's hip.

Xander was harder than possibly any man had ever been before, harder still when the hand in his hair pulled a little, dragging Xander further. He almost choked, mouth starting to close in reflex and his teeth caught Ripper's dick. He almost apologised before he remembered he couldn't, but Ripper moaned, and he realised he didn't need to.

Another experimental graze of teeth and Ripper didn't exhale at all, and somehow Xander knew that all he had to do now was suck hard, until the back of his throat filled and he swallowed and swallowed.

Afterwards he just knelt there, staring at Ripper's soft dick. He was in some meta-state beyond mortal arousal. Painfully, crazily hard. Could he... Would Ripper do the same for him? Could he do it to Ripper again? He wanted to do it again. For longer. He wanted to be the best, most talented mouth Ripper had ever been in.

Hands under his elbows hauled him up, and he realised how much his knees hurt, and then forgot again when he saw Ripper's flushed, bright-eyed face. He did that.

Ripper brushed the corner of Xander's mouth with his thumb, just like Xander's mom cleaning- oh. Oh.

Xander wiped the back of his hand hard across his mouth, blushing - did he ever stop? - at Ripper's grin.

He wanted to object when Ripper zipped up, but that was the reminder he needed. This wasn't why they'd broken into the school at night. He pictured Snyder jerking off until everything had subsided, and then headed for the door.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

"This is the way out," Xander lied, as he led Ripper towards the library, checking for the hundredth time that all their clothes were in place. The taste of Ripper was sharp on his tongue and probably on his breath, and almost certainly written all over his face, but he was just going to have to live with that. And not breathe on anyone.

Because he'd just sucked off Giles. Holy librarian, Batman.

It was getting easier to think of them as two separate people, which was probably some sort of psychological adaptation to protect his own sanity, except for little moments when he remembered they weren't. Like now. He'd just sucked off Giles.

Light still shone through the windows, so Giles - Xander's Giles - *Buffy's*, official, 1999, Sunnydale Giles - was there. Probably the girls, too. And Oz. So all in all, kind of like walking unarmed and already bleeding into a vampire nest.

Maybe they'd made a breakthrough. Maybe there was a new supernatural crisis so huge that they wouldn't have time to make a big fuss about Giles' evil twin. Xander wondered how heinous a crisis would have to be to trump this.

"You hadn't done that before, had you?"

Xander stopped in his tracks. He could actually feel the temperature of his cheeks and ears rocketing. Oh god, was he that bad at it?

Ripper slithered around him, arms sliding up his body, chest pressing to Xander's back. Just a few feet from the library doors. "Chill out. You did all right for a beginner. Just seemed a little more raw talent than honed technique." Ripper cooled his burning ear with a wet lick. So kind of him. Xander closed his eyes, gathering himself as a sharp knuckle drew a hard, ticklish line down his spine to press right in the middle of his ass, and Ripper's voice went lower still. "Does that mean I get to be first here, too?"

Xander barely spared time for a glance through the porthole before slamming through the library doors, dragging Ripper behind him.

Everyone looked up in surprise. Buffy, Willow and Oz moved on to a deja-vu-type bemused curiosity when Xander swung Ripper to stand alone in front of him, as if they knew there was something they should recognise, but they couldn't quite put their fingers on it.

Giles' surprise turned pretty much straight to comic horror. Little did he know how bad it was.

Xander glared straight at him. "Do you have an explanation for this?"

For someone who'd all but left claw marks on the walls when Xander first tried to drag him here, Ripper seemed to come to terms with the attention awfully quickly. He slouched in the middle of the room, one hand casually draped in his pocket, the other smoothing his hair, attitude turned up full. He ran his gaze over the girls and Oz, forehead creasing slightly as he took in Giles, and then he reached back to fish out a cigarette. "These your friends, then?"

Xander stalked forward to snatch it out of his hand. "Well?"

Giles' mouth was wide open. "I have no idea..."

"You're me!" Ripper exclaimed. He strode up for a better look, examining Giles from highly-polished spectacles to tie and red suspenders down to sensible shoes. In profile, they were uncanny. Ripper gave his own black jacket a tug. "Sodding hell. I think I'll top myself."

The girls stared, slack-jawed. Even Oz was tipping towards a full-blown facial expression.

"This isn't possible." Giles was more shaken than Xander had ever seen him. "This must be some kind of mystical illusion. Time travel - that's utter nonsense."

Buffy looked at Giles Junior, and then back to her own. "Uh, last week, it snowed. And now you're getting all James Randi about time travel?"

"The evidence is pretty compelling," Oz agreed.

Giles and Ripper were staring at each other, Ripper's initial fascination edging closer to matching Giles' dismay as he took in the wardrobe. From here, the similarities were striking. Giles' hair was grey and Ripper's was sandy brown, but their ears: exactly the same. And their noses, and the slight dip in the chin that wasn't quite a cleft. Xander had no idea how he hadn't seen it immediately. Giles had some wrinkles, but he was a pretty good-looking guy, really. If you forgot that he was a school librarian. And old.

"Could he be a demon who just looks like Giles?" wondered Buffy.

"He's not a demon," cut in Xander, suddenly wondering if that would be worse or better.

Willow had come closer for a better look, to stand beside Xander with folded arms. "This is easy enough to test. Ask him something."

"And what would you suggest? My middle name?" Giles asked, without looking away for a second.

Willow considered a moment. "Which teacher did you have a crush on in high school?"

"None," replied Giles.

"Miss Fenwick," drawled Ripper.

Giles shifted backwards.

"Fine." Willow folded her arms. "You ask him something. Something you've never told anyone."

Everyone waited quietly, until Giles cracked a tiny, sly smile. "Christmas break, when I was fifteen. The year Aunt Martha brought her family. Upstairs, in the-"

"Shut it!"

Giles straightened up, and then backed away to sit on the edge of the table. "He's me."

Buffy leaned in. "Oooh, I want to hear about-"

"Shut it," retorted Giles.

Buffy huffed. "This isn't like the movies, is it? Where if the two of you end up in the same place it makes the universe go boom?"

Giles and Ripper both leaned back.

"I'd be more concerned with the grandfather paradox," Oz put in.

"Yes!" Willow agreed, with a little too much enthusiasm. "What happens if Young Giles coming here somehow causes our Old Giles to disappear?"

"Name's Ripper," Ripper snapped.

"And I'll just stick with Giles, if it's all the same to you, Willow. A little less of the old."

"So what now?" Xander asked.

"Now we find a way to send him back."

"I say we interrogate him," Buffy suggested.

"C'mon Giles," Willow begged. "Can't we keep him a while? This could be so much fun! We could learn all about what you were like when you were our age." She turned to Ripper. "What music do you like? What's your favourite class? What do you do for fun?"

Buffy tipped her head, puzzled. "You're wearing something kind of cool. For the seventies. Not a stitch of tweed in sight. Jeans. Sneakers. Are we sure this is Giles?"

Willow giggled. "He's kinda cute. Not in a want him to be my boyfriend way." She added the last for Oz.

"No, he's kinda cute. I can see it," Oz agreed.

Ripper cast a smug look back at Xander, and smoothed his hair.

Giles adjusted his glasses with that look that said he was tuning everyone else out. "Do you have any idea how you came to be here?"

"I was hangin' out. Then I was here. In that club."

"You were at the Bronze?" Buffy frowned at Xander. "Is he what-"

"Found him, didn't I?" Ripper drawled. No way in hell the girls could *not* see the sex in that look, and yet, score two for obliviousness. Giles, though, was narrowing his eyes. "Me and Xander here met up outside in-"

"I found him. And you know. It's Giles. So I brought him here."

"Why didn't you tell us?" Buffy pouted.

"You left the Bronze ages ago." He could always rely on Willow to sniff out the lie of omission. "We listened to the end of the set and then helped the Dingoes pack up and still got here a while back."

"Xander took me for a little tour of your piece-of-crap town."

Giles balked. "You did what? For goodness' sake, Xander, there's no telling the... ramifications of such an escapade-"

"I'm guessing it'd start with a jump in car insurance premiums," Xander retorted.

"Now look here-"

"Do you think I could control you?" Xander exploded, throwing up his hands. "It was all I could do to keep your hands out other people's pockets!"

"Other people's... You picked pockets?" Buffy exclaimed. "You're a pocket picker?"

"I have to say, Giles, you're a man of hidden depths," Oz added.

Giles seemed hard-pressed to decide whether to press his thin-lipped glare on Xander or his own young self. Unsurprisingly, Xander won.

Ripper was loving the chaos. He pulled a chair from the table and sprawled in it. "Saw you two girls in the club." Tipped his head at Oz. "And you. Your band is crap."


"It's a fair assessment," shrugged Oz.

"He's Oz," supplied Willow. "I'm Willow."

Ripper spared her half a glance.

"And I'm Buffy."

She stood, and that got a raised eyebrow out of him, as he took a good look at her very small pink and green floral dress. He looked at Willow again, clearly taking in her pink sweater and mustard tights, and gave Xander a nasty smile. "Americans."

"I think you'll like Buffy," Xander replied. "She burned down her last school."

That got a growl from Buffy, but as expected, Ripper looked a little more respectful, now. "Cool."

"It wasn't the whole school. It was the gym."

"Best place to start."

"Perhaps we should see about solving this," Giles said, pointedly.

"I'm in no hurry," purred Ripper.

"Time travel could have all sorts of dangerous side effects," warned Buffy. Then less sure, "Couldn't it?"

"You can't imagine," Xander said, exactly in time with Giles' "I'm quite certain."

"Research. Books." Willow waved a random tome. "Shouldn't we be researching?"

Giles shook his head. "I very much doubt it. My books are on demon lore, apocalyptic signs. Not temporal physics."

"It must be a spell. You have spell books."

He frowned, thinking. "It would take an incredibly powerful caster. The spirits of time do not take kindly to interference."

"A demon?" suggested Oz.

"A Watcher-turned evil?" asked Willow.

"Ethan Rayne?" Buffy said it softly, but Giles flinched.

"Who's Ethan Rayne?"

"Absolutely nobody."

Xander shifted, uncomfortably. "This does have that chaossy-fresh scent. And you in the centre of it."

"This isn't his style." That was somehow the end of the subject, and no one was welcome to ask for details. "In any case, there's no reason to assume the cause is here, now, with us. You all forget my father was equally embroiled in the mystical world."

"Somebody trying to get at your dad?"

"Quite possibly."

Ripper put his feet up on the table. "Let's find 'em, see if there's anything we can do to help."

Buffy stood, ready to move past humiliating everyone and into marshalling the troops. "Xander and Oz, you start with the library books. Willow-"

"Computer," she responded, crossing to sit at the terminal.

Ripper sat forward, and then bounced over to join her. "A computer? You have your own private computer? Can I see?"

Willow gave him a shocked, sceptical look. "Are you sure you're our Giles?"

"Giles, do you have any personal diaries from back then, day planners, anything that might give you clues about what you were doing in...?"

"Seventy-two," supplied Ripper, not moving from the monitor. "Christ. This thing is a computer?"

"1972. Wow."

"Does the Council give 'em to all the Watchers, now?" He grinned at Willow. "My grandmother took me to see a mini-computer in Manchester, but it was the size of a closet. You calculate dates and stuff on here?"

"Um. Yeah. Calculations and stuff."

"The guy's an impostor," Buffy decided.

Giles clenched his jaw. "I have papers at home. There are some books worth trying as well." He didn't look pleased at the idea of leaving.

Buffy turned to their guest. "Ripper, if that's who you really are, you can help us research here."

"He's coming with me," Giles argued.

Ripper finally pulled himself from the PC. "Not bloody likely."

"I'm sorry?"

"Not your bleedin' anorak. C'mon, Xander. Let's have some more fun. You can show me where you have your English class."

"No fun," Giles and Xander replied in unison, and Giles added, "You know, study wouldn't induce such blind panic if you wore your glasses."

"I'm obviously waiting to find a pair as sharp as those."

"You just sit right down and keep quiet."

"Can't tell me what to do. But you'd know that, wouldn't you, old man?" Ripper's look was challenging, and in Giles' steely gaze, Xander thought he could detect the first shadings of panic.

If this got out of control again, it was going to get a lot out of control, and fast. And since Giles had seemingly forgotten how to control himself, it was coming back to Xander to do the dirty work.

"If you have more books at home, why don't Ripper and I both come with you to your place?" As the words left his mouth, somewhat before the relief and glee reached old and young Giles' respective expressions, Xander began to profoundly regret opening his mouth at all. This was a bad, bad idea, and surely someone - Giles, or Ripper, or the eagerly curious girls - would veto-

"Fine." Buffy looked disappointed, but she was already heading up to the books. "The three of you there, the three of us here. Call us if you find anything." She gave Ripper a piercing look. "We'll grill you for dirt later."

Giles yanked on his jacket, ignoring Ripper's disgust at the fresh tweed, and led the way out.

Xander followed him through the doors, mentally cataloguing all the ways in which the next few hours could lead to disaster, leaping away when he felt a hand snaking into his back pocket. He pointed a warning finger at Ripper, checking to see Giles' back was still turned before he mouthed 'No touching.'

Ripper just smiled as innocently as he clearly didn't know how, and headed on forward, leaving Xander to watch the backs of the two Gileses. Could this truly, possibly be the same person? Ripper was sauntering, hands in his black leather jacket pockets, head slightly cocked, ass perfectly moulded into his ridiculously tight jeans. Giles was striding down the corridor, briefcase clutched to his chest, eyes directly ahead, ass... ass invisible in staid straight trousers. And please, please don't wonder if the ass inside those shapeless pants is still as shapely as... dammit, too late. Which meant now Xander was imagining Giles' dick, and if he still liked guys to suck it.

Xander and Willow had kind of guessed about Giles and Ethan Rayne after the whole Eyghon demon incident, but that was vague speculation about Giles' vague and theoretical past, in a kind of 'Do you think he likes guys?' kind of way; it wasn't *knowing*, in a first-hand, evidence seen, Giles really has a dick and he liked it when I grazed the tip with my teeth kind of way. And would he still?

Ripper glanced back with a knowing smile as they stepped out into the cool night, and Xander flushed all the way down to his toes. And then Ripper saw Giles unlocking the car and bounded forward. "You got a... I get a Citroen?"


He smoothed a hand over the mottled grey undercoat that had been its topcoat since Giles bought it. "Nice. Must be an old car, these days. You doin' it up, like?"

Giles' smile became a squirm. "That was the idea."

"You haven't-"

"Do be quiet, Xander."

As Giles circled around to the driver's side, Ripper turned to lean back on the back door, facing Xander. With a smile, he laid his hand flat on his own chest and let it slide gradually south.

Xander yanked open the front passenger door and manhandled him in, claiming the safety of the back seat for himself. This was the worst idea in the history of all ideas that had ever shot out of Xander's traitorous mouth.

Giles gave his young self a wary look, and a longer one to Xander in the rear view mirror, and then put it in gear and drove.

The trip was mostly silent, but Ripper kept twisting to look back at Xander with a gaze that Giles would have been blind and stupid to misinterpret. The way he hunched further and further forward, gripping the wheel tighter and tighter with every turn, kind of indicated that he was neither.

It made Ripper smile, and turn further, for a long, considering examination of the back seat, sizing it up for fucking Xander in. With the leather squeaking and the heads banging and whatever the other thing was.

So Xander curled deeper and deeper into his seat, and stared determinedly out the dark window, praying all the way that Giles would remember that Xander was perfectly straight, and just think this was all one-sided.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

As soon as they got in the door, Giles was scrambling for the stairs, muttering about things kept in his room. Xander took one look at the lustful gaze being turned in his direction and escaped to the bathroom.

So. This was bad. Trapped in a house with Giles and Giles' lusty, sexy-as-hell childhood. Xander leaned heavily on the sink, staring wide-eyed at his own reflection. What the hell business did Giles have with being young once? Or horny, or this damned sexy? Xander peered closer. Were his lips swollen? Oh god. Was he in the library with the girls with kiss-swollen lips? Had they been able to tell? Were Wills and Buff and Oz now madly gossipping about Xander and his whorish lips? Well okay, Oz would just be with the random pithy comment, but the girls would make up for him.

Oh god, could Giles tell? Giles had shot him a few looks. Did Giles *know*? Surely not. Surely Giles would never have agreed to Xander coming home with them if he even remotely suspected that there was anything more humiliating going on than Ripper's searing gaze.

Unless he was quite reasonably worried about the others realising. Then it would make perfect sense to get Xander and Ripper out of their way.

Xander dunked his face in handfuls of water. The sooner they got Ripper out of here, the better, and the traitorous little voice that kept reminding him of the way Ripper had sounded laughing in the alley, and how good Ripper had tasted in Mr Harper's classroom, could damn well shut up. Giles, whatever edition, was not the person to be road-testing his newfound gayness with. This could stop right now, and when they got Ripper back to the evil dimension from whence he came, Xander could try figuring himself out. With someone who was not Giles. Somewhere that was not Sunnydale. Far away from Buffy and Willow.

Plan locked, Xander rinsed his mouth and braced himself, before heading out to the living room.

Into the smoky sweet smell of... "What in the name of god are you doing?"

Ripper was sprawled along the length of the couch, sneakers propped up on the arm, considering Xander thoughtfully over a generously-sized joint. "Makin' myself at home, aren't I? My home, i'nnit?"

"You can't smoke in here! You can't-" Xander lowered his voice, "You can't smoke pot in Giles' house!"

Ripper just smiled, took a long drag and then wiggled the joint at him. "Stashing it in the same place after all these years. Maybe the stick up 'is arse isn't wedged so tight after all."

"You can't- where did you get that?" Xander hissed, looking desperately up the stairs, fearing Giles would be down any moment, or maybe poke his head over the edge of the loft, and they'd be busted and somehow Xander would be to blame. Couldn't he smell it already?

"My weed, i'nnit?" Ripper beamed.

His weed? As in... "Giles has pot?" Xander exclaimed.

Giles clattered down the stairs.

Xander took three steps back, bracing for impact as Giles stared at them. Xander and Giles were both frozen in place. Ripper was tipping his head back, attempting to blow smoke rings.

He must have confiscated it from someone at school and forgotten to destroy it. Kept it from Snyder to protect some kid from being expelled.

And then Giles sagged, and turned a weak glare on Xander. "Tell no one."

"You think they'd believe me?" Xander's world had just fallen over. Giles being a degenerate in his dim and dusty past was one thing, but this was now. This was their Giles. Their Giles smoked pot.

Giles strode across the room to snatch up the odd little wooden box lying open by the couch. He checked the contents and snapped it shut, then locked it in the desk. Then he looked at Ripper's bland expression, unlocked the drawer and pulled it out and carried it upstairs.

Ripper lifted his joint in offer to Xander. Xander waved it off and rubbed his face hard. Were there limits to how much bizarreness a person could handle before they got carted away?

Giles came back down with an armful of papers. He dumped them on his desk, then crossed to the bookshelf, picking out titles seemingly at random until he had a stack. "You can start with these. They cover unusual occurrences, and some of the more obscure spells." He hesitated, with a wary glance at his former self. "Xander, you take the spell books."

Okay. So, they were going to just pretend everything was normal. Okay. Denial, Xander could do.

Ripper took a long drag and lifted his legs off the couch to make room, obliging Xander to sit beside him.

Xander dropped the heaviest book on the boy's lap. "Read."

"Didn't pick you for a bleedin' swot."

"Perceptive," Giles muttered.

Xander twisted his head to level his best glare. No way in hell was he going to be playing his usual role of black sheep when Rupert the Pocket-Picking Car Thief was sitting beside him.

They settled into research mode: Giles shuffling through papers, Xander scanning through books, Ripper watching Xander through sultry eyes and randomly flipping the page whenever someone glanced in his direction.

"Ah-" Xander looked up but Giles had trailed off mid-sentence, still reading, a finger raised. "" Giles smiled apologetically. "Keep reading." He headed for the shelves for more books, dumping them on the desk and then carting the papers back upstairs.

When they were alone, Ripper dragged the last bit from his joint and leaned over to stub it out in an antique-looking metal dish that didn't look anything like any sort of ashtray. "So who am I to you?"

Xander sat bolt upright. "What?"

A huff. "Him. Who's he to you?"

"My librarian."

"The librarian you go to when you've been cocksucking time-travelling would-be watchers. How'd he suck you into the mystic gig?"

Xander winced, praying sound didn't travel too well up to the loft. At least this led into a somewhat normal conversation. "He didn't. I mean, I guess Buffy did, and he was stuck with us. We're Buffy's best friends. Me and Willow and Oz are the Slayerettes."

Ripper's mouth was open - rather a good copy of the expression Giles had worn half the evening. "Slayerettes? Wait. The little blonde one's the Slayer? She's- I get saddled with the actual Slayer?"


"No bloody way." Ripper jumped to his feet, throwing the book hard at the wall. Xander winced as pages flew everywhere. That was a really old book. "They said I'd be a bleedin' Watcher but not *the* Watcher. No bloody way."

Xander stood as well, unnerved, making calming gestures. Uh-oh. "It's not so bad. You've saved the world a couple of times. That's pretty cool."

"That's a bloody lie." Ripper shoved him, face twisted in anger, and then a punch to the gut almost threw his dinner on the carpet. Ripper grabbed his shirt and Xander was off his feet, swung dizzily into the wall, head bouncing hard off the plaster with a white flash.

"I'm no fuckin' Watcher, you hear me?" He stomped off to the bathroom, slamming the door behind him.

Giles hurried down the stairs. "What happened?"

Xander rolled awkwardly to sit, rubbing his head and clutching his stomach. He might puke. He hadn't decided. Something had broken his fall, and shards of it were now sticking into his ass. And his gut really, really hurt.

"Xander!" Giles' tone could have used a little less impatience and a little more concern.

"Apparently you weren't too hot on the idea of being a Watcher. Or at least on the idea of being *the* Watcher." He swallowed delicately against the rising bile.

Giles gave him that daggers look he reserved specially for Xander. "Why on earth did you tell him?"

"It. Came. Up. I didn't say, 'Hey, so you're going to be in charge of Buffy, who by the way is the Slayer, and hey, feel free to take it out on me.' I thought you knew since you were in diapers." And, hello, *ow*.

He backed off, rubbing his forehead wearily. "I should have thought of this. I'd avoided saying anything, but I suppose I should have warned you."

"That would have been helpful."

That earned Xander another scowl, until it was overtaken by a worried expression as Giles finally realised Xander was on the floor, in a nest of broken table. "Are you all right?"

Xander gave him the evil eye until he looked suitably contrite and offered a hand. Xander ignored it to stand without help, screwing up his face against the twist of his stomach muscles.

"Did he-"

Xander jerked back as Giles reached for him. Not for anything was there gonna be any physical contact with Giles today. Or ever again. In fact, this was way too close. A couple of steps back, that was better. Nevada would be better still. "I think I should check on him."

"I think perhaps I should," Giles suggested, with a pained look at the broken table. Fine. Let him get hit. He headed down the hall to knock on the bathroom door. "Ripper?"

No answer.


Was that a thunk?

Giles hurried back. "He's gone."


"Out the window. I suggest we find him."

"Maybe he needs some cooling off time."

Giles' jaw worked as he made a careful examination of the air above Xander's left shoulder. "Do I need to tell you what sort of things I used to do to cool off?"

"Let's go."

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

"Where is he likely to go?"

"I can't imagine." Giles stopped at the Citroen, contemplating his keys.

"Watcher, know thyself," Xander muttered under his breath.

"Xander..." That was the familiar tone of the end of Giles' patience, but he cut it short with a sigh. "Somewhere familiar, I suppose. Where did the pair of you get to earlier?"

"Kind of everywhere. Look, why don't you drive around, check the school and the Bronze and I'll check Main Street?"

"As good a plan as any. Do be careful."

"Hey, you know me. Bravery is not my middle name."

"It's hardly a matter of danger. I was- he is..."

Yeah, neither of them wanted to follow that sentence to the terminal. "I got it."

Giles looked grateful, and didn't attempt to explain any further as he dropped Xander off in town and headed towards the school.

The people were all gone; the street was empty, and it didn't take long after all. Xander just followed the crashing, banging metal.

Ripper never saw him coming, and Xander had time to watch the show for a few minutes. Ripper was mounting an assault on the refuse of Sunnydale's business district, sending one trash can flying after another, plenty of cursing between angry puffs from his cigarette.

"You smoke, you lift wallets. Now you kick over trash cans. Where will your dastardly wickedness end?"

He jumped, and made a poor show of covering it. "Sod off."

"That's not gonna happen." Another trash can went flying, bakery bags splitting open and bread rolls rolling happily along the gutter, the lid clattering in noisy circles until it finally fell flat.

"What are you doing?"

"Looking for somethin' to top m'self with."

Xander took in the long stretch of spilled trash. "There's a banana peel in that pile that you could slip on. Could be both wacky and fatal."

Blinding pain, and Xander was on the ground before he knew he'd been hit. Again. "Whoa." And *ow*. Xander put his hand gingerly to his jaw.

Ripper at least had the grace to look mildly guilty, though not like he wouldn't do it again if presented with an opportunity. "Don't you take anything seriously, Xander?"

Xander fought his first response, which was to stare around the mess and snort dramatically. Instead he climbed carefully to his feet, keeping a good distance between them. "I'm not the one putting the fear of god into innocent trash cans over his distant future career decisions."

"Not a bleedin' decision, is it?" Ripper kicked the empty can. "Gonna turn into a dried-out husk just like the rest of them."

That was exactly how they would have described Giles, Xander realised guiltily. "He isn't so bad."

He gaped. "Have you seen him? Crusty old fart..."

"Yeah. I've seen him." Xander folded his arms, indignant to hear an outsider judging Giles the way they would. Did. Loudly and often. Even if he wasn't an outsider, exactly. "I've seen him fight vampires and I've seen him save my life a few million times. He's got some moves. He's totally cool with a sword. He's funny. He's better than any other adult I know. He knows pretty much all human knowledge in existence."

Ripper snarled. "I don't know everything."

"Well, not yet. I'm assuming you're going to learn it somewhere."

"Yeah. You wanna send me back so they can hoover out my personality and stick a fuckin' Encyclopaedia Daemonica in there. You can save your fuckin' research. I'm not going."

Okay, getting seriously irritated now. "Man, I don't get why you're so upset. If I got to see myself in the future, being someone actually worthwhile, being that smart and that important, I'd be checking off the days in a calendar. I'd go tweed-shopping tomorrow."

"Good for you. You be him. I like who I am."

"Would you rather be fifty-something and still kicking over trash cans?" Xander dared to move closer and lay a hand on his chest. "You're gonna be the coolest old guy I know. You kick demon ass on a regular basis. You're one the good guys." He looked into eyes that were softening. "You're kinda what makes the rest of us good guys."

"I don't fuckin' want it."

"I remember." Softly spoken, but Ripper spun around, Xander forgotten. Giles was approaching slowly, with a depth of compassion in his eyes that left Xander more shaken than his earlier collision with Ripper's fist. He'd seen a look like it rested on Buffy once or twice, but never this bare. Giles stopped a couple of feet away, and slid his hands into his pockets. "I didn't want anything to do with it, but I thought if I went along for a while, I'd find a way to escape, when I was older."

"But I'm not gonna escape."

Giles snorted, softly. "You will. And I have more regrets from those years than you can yet imagine. Eventually, you'll choose to go back."

Xander could only see Ripper's back, his hands clenching and unclenching. "Why?"

"I realised I wanted to make things better, not worse."

Ripper didn't respond.

"Buffy isn't like the other Slayers, and she won't let you become like the other Watchers. She's an amazing girl. She's doing incredibly well, and she didn't have twenty-five years to get used to the idea."

"And when she gets picked off?"

Giles flinched at the crass words. "It's going to hurt."

That was met with a long silence. Eventually, Ripper's head turned slightly. "Xander's okay."

A dry glance in Xander's direction. "He does more than his fair share of ensuring I don't become a dried-out husk."

"And Willow," Xander added, because she shouldn't be left out.

"Willow as well," Giles confirmed.

Ripper looked back at Xander, one eyebrow raised, and then turned to Giles again. "Isn't it all supposed to be a secret between you and the Chosen One?"

Giles' mouth curled up in a tiny smile, and he shrugged. "I'm not like the other Watchers." He laid a hand on Ripper's shoulder. "You're not ready yet, but you will be."

There was a long quiet, that seemed almost comfortable. Though now the distraction was gone, the swelling in Xander's cheek and jaw was making itself known. And, *ow*.

Giles blinked when he saw him feeling out the tender spots. "Come on. Let's go home. Get some ice on Xander's face."

After a moment Ripper nodded, sparing a glance for Xander and a mumbled, "Sorry."

Xander shrugged. "You wouldn't have had the full Sunnydale experience if you hadn't had something to totally wig you out."

That got a smile from Giles and... not quite a chuckle, but it definitely ranked as something approaching one. Rare score for Xander.

Ripper lit a cigarette, blowing the first lungful of smoke out hard, and followed them to the car. He kept his hands blessedly, unfortunately, to himself and his cigarette. They were running out of time. Xander wished someone would talk, to drown out the little voice in his head that was begging him to ask if they could keep Ripper around just a little longer. But he kept his mouth shut, and they drove home in silence.

When they got in, Giles pulled an ice pack from the freezer, wrapping it in a towel before he offered it. Smiling in thanks was a mistake, and his wince brought both of the Gileses closer. "I'm fine. Had worse." Not much worse without losing consciousness, but that didn't really need to be said aloud. Ripper had a hell of a swing.

Ripper tried to tug the pack away for a better look, so Xander shoved him off. "I'm going to the bathroom."

Xander-in-the-mirror's eyes went wide. Wow. That was going to stay with him. The whole right side of his face was already swelling, red taking on a bluish cast. No need to worry anymore about his lips looking swollen.

Xander sat on the toilet seat with a sigh. He totally understood the way Buffy sometimes resented being the Slayer. He would have hated that responsibility. But he'd never imagined that Giles once felt the same way. Or maybe still did.

He felt like he'd been spying. Or like he'd accidentally read Giles' diary, and any minute Giles was going to storm in and yell at him, or worse, give him that steely disgusted look.

This reached new heights in uncomfortable. Giles didn't usually share with Xander. Xander knew the guy had rare heart-to-hearts with Buffy, and Willow seemed to have won a confidence or two, but Xander was the comic foil. Like he was for everyone. Of course, now Xander was the one who'd performed lewd acts on him in Mr Harper's classroom, so it was likely he wouldn't even be that ever again.

And that pretty much sucked, because now he really wanted to know Giles better. Not just the Ripper part, though he really, really wanted to know Ripper better. He was going to grab the first moment they had to tell him that, and maybe kiss him again, while they still had time. It was just a matter of finding an excuse to shoo Giles into another room.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Giles was sitting on the couch when he came out, leaning forward, elbows on his knees. Ripper... wasn't. A bad feeling settled in Xander's gut. Somewhere deeper and to the left of where Ripper had sunk his fist. "Where is he?"

"I sent him back."

"What?" Already? "How? I thought we didn't know how."

"He's here by accident." Giles slumped back into the couch, and ran a hand through his hair, ruffling it up. "My father left notes - a simple incantation - for sending him back. I found them as soon as we arrived home."

"You couldn't have warned me?"

Giles looked at him strangely. "I didn't see the point, and I definitely didn't want to warn him. We may have calmed him down but I can assure you he wasn't fine in the least with his future."

"But..." Xander was struggling to think of something - anything - to say rather than to take Giles and shake him. "What have we been looking for all night?"

"I was organising a memory-wiping spell. He mustn't remember us, his future."

So Giles wouldn't remember. God. Xander hadn't even thought of that, Giles remembering what Ripper and Xander did. Thank all the small gods that had been fixed before it ever occurred to him, and Giles would never know.

Xander's throat closed, suddenly. Giles would never know. Up against the wall outside the Bronze, and laughing in the alley, and Ripper's sly suggestion that he could introduce Xander to more than sucking cock, and everything Xander had told him about how much he liked Giles... "He won't remember what you said, out there."

"He mustn't remember. There are mistakes I don't have the right to unmake, however much I wish I could." There was a rawness in his voice, and Xander's eyes were drawn to the inside of his elbow, where the tattoo was.

Xander wished he had something comforting to say, like he'd said to Ripper, but Giles was way ahead of him in the wisdom department. It wasn't like Xander could tell him stuff wasn't going to be as bad as Giles knew it already had been. So he just sat down beside him, and said nothing.

Eventually Giles drew a sharp breath and sat up, ready to move on. "I'll get these books back on the shelves. Thank you for your help, Xander. I'd forgotten what a trial I could be, at that age."

No, no, this was not okay. He couldn't just... "I didn't get to say goodbye."

Giles stopped and rubbed his neck. "It's irrelevant. He didn't... *I*... don't remember you." His gentle voice did nothing to soften the way that hurt.

"But I remember you." Xander didn't know why it mattered, but it did. It mattered a lot. Just because Xander dreaded Giles knowing what happened with a cold and fearsome dread, was no excuse for Giles not knowing. How didn't he know? Was he blind?

Maybe not entirely, because dull realisation was dawning in Giles' expression. That maybe yes, Xander had kind of liked Ripper, too. And Xander stared at the floor, not wanting to see when the realisation became one final embarrassment to cap Giles' night.

Giles pulled off his glasses to rub the bridge of his nose. "What would you have said, Xander?"

"I don't know..." Xander hated the whine in his voice. He lifted his chin and stopped, startled, staring.

He looked just the same. Younger and confused, and vulnerable - hair ruffled, without his glasses, Giles looked just the same.

Giles huffed, exasperated, and lifted his glasses but Xander caught his hand before he could replace them, not-thinking as hard as he could as he leaned in and kissed Ripper, just lips, and a hand in his hair.

When he pulled back, Giles was gaping, speechless, for the second time of the evening.

"That's what I would have said. You should call the girls, tell them it's over. I'll see you in school." Xander hurried out the door, before it could really sink in, what he'd just done.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Xander wasn't nervous about going to the library. No. Not nervous at all. Why would he be nervous? Just because he kissed Giles over the holiday, and maybe his usual post-break opener of "What's up, Giles? What crazy British hi-jinks did you get up to over the vacation?" was entirely off the table. No reason to be nervous.

"You coming Xander?" Buffy asked, not waiting for an answer before she hauled him by his elbow towards the library.

"No, um, actually, I was going to hang out with my other friends today."

"You don't have any other friends," Willow scoffed, taking his other arm.

"So it would seem, what with me never hanging with them."

"Come on," urged Buffy. "How often do we have such prime material to torment Giles with? Make with the hay, I say."

"Hey!" Willow's fingers touched his jaw where Ripper had left his fist-print. "What happened?"

He jerked his chin away. Damn her eyes. He'd worked hard to avoid her while it faded; another day or two of vacation and he would have escaped. "Minor accident. Nothing worth mentioning."

But now Buffy was pawing at him, too, trying to see. "Ouch. That must have been a doozy."

"Embarrassing story. I'm not sharing."

Willow pouted. "You're no fun."

Buffy resumed dragging him towards the library. "Lucky for you, we've already blocked off today for making fun of Giles."

"All day?" Xander winced.

"It's Gilespalooza. For now, at least. I told Angel I'd stop by this afternoon."

"Well at least... Angel? You've seen Angel?" Xander couldn't remember how to inhale. "You spoke to him?" He'd completely forgotten about Angel, and the whole Angel seeing them thing...

Buffy was looking at him strangely. "Yeah. We see each other. And we talk. It's a seeing-talking thing we have going."

"Oh-oh-oh!" Willow made with the crazy hand-waving gestures. "Did you tell Angel about Giles Junior?"

"Yeah." Buffy frowned, perplexed.


Xander's head whipped from one to the other. This was a nightmare. This was a Hellmouth-proportion nightmare from which there was no waking.

"His eyebrows crawled up really high, and then he just folded his arms and said, 'Well. I'll be damned.'"

"That's all?"

"Yeah." Buffy was deeply disappointed. "It's kind of hard to wow someone who's 240 years old. He's pretty much seen everything."

Xander sagged. Little did she know. He owed Angel big time. Another one to throw in the 'shocking and unexpected' file.

They pushed through the swinging doors as a single unit. "So Giles," Buffy announced, before the doors had closed behind them, "turn over any lemonade stands lately?"

"If there's anything you need to tell us, it's always best to own up straight away. Your mother and I won't be angry if you come to us," added Willow.

The girls didn't seem to notice just how much Giles wasn't seeing the funny. "If you're quite finished?"

"Are you kidding?" Buffy pulled the book out of his hands and closed it on the desk, ignoring his stuttered objection as she lost his place. "We haven't even started."

"Yeah, we want to hear all about your wild delinquent youth."

"I think you've heard quite enough about it, thank you." He hadn't looked up yet, gaze focused entirely on the book he'd just had confiscated, which was good, because it saved Xander from being the one who avoided eye contact.

Buffy poked his chest. "You whisked him back to the land of polyester flares without letting us interrogate him. You must be punished."

Their needling continued, while Giles did his level best to direct the conversation back to scheduling Buffy's training. The girls were having far too much fun to notice that the usual master of mock was sitting this one out, curled quietly in a chair.

Giles was being especially Giles-like; the nervousness and exasperation that had been gradually fading since he arrived in sophomore year were back in full force, and he cleaned his glasses three times in the hour they spent there. When his hands weren't cleaning, they were always moving, shifting books and tugging at his clothes.

Buffy and Willow didn't let up until the bell went for next period, and they were still poking fun as they wandered towards the doors. Xander tried to sneak out unnoticed behind them.


It had been a slim hope. Xander stopped, letting the girls leave without him.

A smart person would have spent the rest of the holiday break trying to figure out what to say in this conversation, but of course, the world wasn't exactly lacking for evidence of Xander's stupidity.

He braced himself and walked back to the table. Maybe Giles would be as eager to avoid the subject as he was. Maybe Giles was going to ask him about... late fees.

Giles tapped his fingers on the book he was clutching to his chest. "Xander, we, uh, we need to discuss what happened on Friday night."

Or not.

Xander forced a nervous grin. "Did they trace the fingerprints on that wallet?"

"Oh, do be serious for five minutes."

Xander stepped back. Damn.

Giles glanced up and saw his expression, and immediately looked contrite. "I'm, I'm sorry. I just... I've been rather thrown for a loop."

Xander nodded. "Loops all round."

"I'm quite sure. I... I need to know..." Giles took a long breath, and then came closer. He considered for a moment, and then pulled out two chairs, indicating for them both to sit. Very... formal. It did nothing at all to put Xander at ease. "I need to know what you meant by it."

"I don't know."


"No, really." If Giles could just give him a minute to figure this out, then maybe he could have a better answer. "I liked him. And I know you're not him. Except you are." That wasn't the better answer.

"So it was about him. My younger self."

Relief was flooding through his tone, and it would have been easiest for them both just to leave it at that, but once again, Xander's mouth led the way. "I don't know."

Giles' eyes really were astoundingly wide. And, as Xander had noticed in Ripper on Friday, very green. He could see the hole where his earring used to be.


Because it had been about Ripper, when he did it, but now he was sitting here, one step away from Giles, and he really wanted to do it again. And maybe it was still about Ripper, and how Giles' eyes were just the same, but maybe it wasn't.

He couldn't look at Giles' mouth now, and not think about what it was like to kiss him - either version of him. "It doesn't matter, does it?"

"Doesn't matter?" sputtered Giles.

Xander squirmed in his chair. "Even if it did mean something, and I'm not saying it did, but if it did, then it still wouldn't mean anything to you, obviously, and all that aside, it still wouldn't matter because librarian, student." Xander really wanted to stop talking before he actually digested his own feet.

"Of course."

"So I'm thinking we pretend it never happened."

Giles sat back and rubbed his forehead, examining Xander the whole time. "Can you do that?"

Of course he couldn't, and probably Giles couldn't either, but if there was another option, Xander really didn't know what it was. "This is Sunnydale. We have the national trophy for forgetting freaky stuff. If the rest of the town can forget being held hostage by vampires on a regular basis and getting attacked by zombies and being turned into teenagers by magical chocolate bars, then... I figure we can repress one..." Xander was not going to say kiss, "...moment."

"Of course." Giles continued to sit there, all serious and thoughtful, until Xander began to think it would be up to him to end the conversation. He was just making to stand when Giles spoke again. "I hadn't really wanted any of you to know that I was..."

"Bisexual? Yeah. Well, Willow and I figured it out ages ago. Well, Willow figured it out. She has pretty sharp gaydar. I agreed. Ethan Rayne was kind of..." Stop talking now.

Giles stared at him. "I was going to say 'wary about my Watcher duties.'"

"Oh." Xander could feel the stupid embarrassed grin laying siege to his face. "Not so much with the wisdom on that one. Willow's career-dysfunction-dar fails us every time."

Giles blinked and smiled nervously. "Buffy has some idea, but I can't imagine it's something she needs to know in detail."

"I get it."

At last Giles stood, and Xander figured he was dismissed, making a bolt for the doors.

"Xander?" Giles was standing awkwardly by the check-out desk. "I heard what you said to him. Out on the street."

It took a moment, and then Xander smiled. "I meant it."

Giles looked - glared? - at him. "Forty-something."


"I am not fifty-bloody-anything." It took a second to see the warmth in his eyes, and then Xander smiled again. He had a hand on the door when he heard, "Xander? Thank you."

He wasn't sure what he was being thanked for, but it seemed to encompass everything, so Xander simply nodded and made his escape.

The story picks up months later, in The Giles Thing II

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