There were times, Giles decided, when being the ‘adult’ of the group well and truly sucked, as his erstwhile charges liked to say. He watched as the girls fussed over and tickled and pig-piled, whatever that was, Xander. And Xander, of course, had absolutely no shame about being played with and pampered by teenaged girls whatsoever. And if he didn’t know the depth of the younger man’s integrity, Giles would have been more than a little suspicious. As it was, Giles knew that Xander simply enjoyed the attention and liked to make the girls happy.

They’d relocated to a suburb just outside of Cleveland where a Hellmouth, smaller than the one in Sunnydale but just as virulent, existed. There were the familiar vampires and demons to deal with, as well as a host of new evils that had already been faced in the six months since Sunnydale had sunk into the earth.

“You don’t look all with the happy, Giles,” Willow commented, joining him on the sofa.

Giles pulled off his glasses to clean them and replied, “I’m fine, Willow, just a bit tired, perhaps.”

Willow observed, “You have been very research mode lately. Maybe you should take a break.”

Replacing his glasses and taking in her concerned look, Giles repeated, “I’m fine.”

“Good. Then maybe you can help me with something.”

He frowned at her serious expression and asked, “What’s wrong?”

“Well, it’s just that I have this friend who never sleeps, drinks entirely too much tea, like the madman he is, and won’t listen to people about burnout.”

Giles huffed in amusement. “It’s hardly that bad.”

“It is, though,” Willow insisted gently. She gripped his shoulder and said, “You need to rest, Giles. You’re starting to give the demons competish in the scary looks department.”

“Thank you, Willow.”

“You know what I mean.”

And he did. Unfortunately, there just wasn’t anything he could do to change the fact that he could not sleep, no matter how tired he was. He ached to sleep, sometimes felt he might go mad if he didn’t, and yet couldn’t.

“I could help.”

“No, Willow, you shouldn’t...”

“I wasn’t suggesting magic.”

Giles frowned again. “Then what?”

A delicate flush colored her cheeks as Willow explained quietly, “I know a few people who give a mean, ah, massage.”

While it didn’t truly surprise him that Willow would know such women, she made friends with just about anyone who wasn’t evil, Giles had to laugh that she would think of such a solution. Smiling at her, taking an elegant hand in his, Giles brought it up and kissed the back of it, saying, “Willow, you are truly a gift. Thank you, but that isn’t going to solve anything.”

She sighed and cupped his face. “You need to sleep. Maybe I should spell you down for a good three days.”

Giles allowed himself the brief caress before straightening up and answering, “No, thank you. I’m going to attempt some meditation and see if that helps.”

Sighing again, Willow asked, “You want me to tell them to keep it down?”

Glancing over at the pile of Slayerettes, as Faith and Buffy called them, that currently had Xander buried at the bottom, Giles shook his head. “Let them have their fun. I’ll see you all in the morning.”

She nodded, still clearly worried, and Giles left the living room for his study.

*  *  *  *

There was nothing like being the carefully guarded, and loved, pet of a bunch of hyper, super-strong girls. Not that Xander was really complaining, because he did love to make them laugh and act their ages for a change. Still, it grew a bit annoying at times, their so-careful treatment of him. Even though he’d regained his depth perception and was as helpful in patrolling as he always had been, which, granted, wasn’t much in certain situations, all of them had relegated him to the ‘civilian’ status. The only ones who didn’t treat him like he was handicapped, were Faith and Giles, though for different reasons.

He was pretty sure that Faith had never respected his strength, or lack thereof, simply because they’d had sex. It didn’t stop her from counting on him in a fight, though, so that was fine with Xander. Giles was just as human as Xander and so they stood on equal footing, for the most part. He did catch the other man looking at him with the oddest expression sometimes, and he hadn’t yet been able to decipher what it meant, but Giles treated him like he could pull his own weight.

Willow waved at him from the sofa and he knew from her expression that the talk hadn’t gone well. Nothing like trying to pimp for a proper British guy who’d probably only had sex twice in his life.

That’s not fair, Xander countered to himself. Giles has had sex at least three times, even if one is in the ‘ew’ category with Buffy’s mom. Besides, he had that whole Ripper thing going for him as a young stud, so it was probably a lot more than three times and geeze, change the mental soundtrack, would you?

“I give! Uncle!” Xander exclaimed out loud, from his spot beneath two or three Slayerettes.

There were disappointed groans, but the girls got off him and Xander was able to stumble over to sit beside Willow.

She grinned at him and said, “Nothing like being a Slayerette toy, huh?”

Even though he’d been thinking just that, Xander grimaced, complaining, “I get no respect around here.”

“Who’re you, Rodney Dangerfield?” Faith asked from her spot across the room reading a magazine.

Since she didn’t even look up, Xander ignored her and asked quietly, “No dice, huh?”

“Nope,” Willow confirmed unhappily. “Not even a little nibble. I don’t know what to do, Xander. He can’t keep going like this, it’s dangerous.”

Xander believed her, even though he wasn’t really sure what a dangerous Giles could possibly do to anyone.

“To himself, dummy,” Willow huffed.

Blinking in surprise, Xander wondered if he’d accidentally said that out loud when Willow’s eyes widened comically in dismay. Grinning at her, Xander observed, “You really need to get a handle on that mind-reading thing, Wills.”

She groaned and apologized, “Sorry, Xander.”

“No problem. Wonder why it never works on G-Man?” he questioned.

Frowning, Willow said, “That’s a good question.”

“I have them sometimes.”

“A lot of times!”

“Nah. Just sometimes.”

She poked him lightly in the stomach and ordered, “Get some self-esteem, Mister!”

“Aye-aye, Captain,” he replied, mock-saluting.

Willow snorted and yawned. “Well, even if Giles can’t go to sleep, I’m going to. See you in the morning?”

“It is morning.”

“Then I’ll see you later?”

He leaned over to kiss her and said, “I’ll be here.”

Willow escorted the six Slayerettes upstairs, ignoring their groans and protests as all good den mothers did. Xander smiled at the thought, and wondered if he’d ever get to see Willow as a mom. He knew that she’d be absolutely great at it.

“So you know why he turned her down, right?”

Looking over at Faith, who was no longer reading the magazine, Xander met her dark eyes and answered, “Not a clue. Most guys I know would jump at the chance, even English ones.”

Faith smirked. “It’s a lot like Red no longer driving stick. That’s all G-Man does drive these days.”

Xander shook his head. “No chance. He was all over Mrs. Summers and Ms. Calendar.”

“So he was bi at one point,” Faith countered, shrugging. “But don’t you ever notice the looks he gives you? Or are you really that dense?”

Xander rewound some of those looks that he’d noticed in his mind, put an ‘attracted’ slant to it, and suddenly, it clicked. There was something like...yearning...in Giles’ eyes, maybe even regret. Regret for what, he had no idea.

“Well, it’s not like Willow doesn’t know those kinds of guys,” Xander pointed out.

Shrugging again, Faith said, “You don’t really think that Giles would pay for it, do you? Come on, Xan, you know better than that! He’s got that whole ‘emotional investment’ thing goin’ on when it comes to sex.”

Xander sighed, knowing she was right. “So what do we do? Fix him up on a blind date and hope for the best?”

Eyes rolling, Faith stated, “That answers that question. You are dense. I’m going to bed.”

Wanting to demand that she explain herself, but somehow knowing that he didn’t really want to hear it, Xander let her go. Rubbing tired, gritty eyes, Xander wondered what the hell they could do about a lonely ex-Watcher who wouldn’t know the first thing about relaxing his guard long enough to let anyone new into their circle, let alone into his bed. And not that he was advocating nameless, faceless sex, but sometimes blowing off steam was just as necessary as true love. Though, granted, not at the same time.

Xander looked around the empty room and decided to check on Giles, just to make sure that he was doing okay.

*  *  *  *

Giles hadn’t managed to get anywhere near a meditative trance, even after twenty minutes and finally gave up in disgust. It was clear that his concentration was shot to hell, perhaps literally, and he had to just let it go. Maybe lying down for a stretch would actually allow him to sleep for a small bit. Before he could try, however, a short knock at the door stopped him and he sighed. At this time of night, or, more accurately, morning, it was probably Buffy back from patrol with Kennedy.

“Come in,” he called, settling in the chair behind his desk. It was a barrier he needed more often, these days, relying on the solid wood to keep most of his shaking body hidden.

To his surprise, it was Xander who walked in, offering a brief wave and, “Sorry to disturb, G-Man but I wanted to make sure you were all right.”

The patch still startled Giles, but only because it looked, oddly, as if it belonged right where it was. He almost found it difficult to remember what Xander looked like without the black leather over his eye. “I’m fine.”

“Yeah sure, that’s why you’re eyes’re glazed,” Xander observed. “Why don’t you just take some sleeping pills?”

Uncomfortable with the conversation, Giles replied, “I have an aversion to artificial remedies.”

Xander leaned on the desk and said, “I have an aversion to watching you suffer, so give me a good reason not to spike your tea.”

A bit startled by the quiet firmness, Giles sighed deeply and admitted, “The nightmares I have are impossible to wake from, when I take pills.”

Frowning, Xander asked, “Why didn’t you say anything?”

“Because it’s nothing anyone can do anything about.”

“You don’t know that. Sometimes talking...”

“Is just talking and does nothing but stir things up further.”

Xander looked at him for a long moment, then questioned, “Is that the only reason? Is there some kind of magic preventing you from sleeping?”

“Not that I can tell, and I’ve done a few spells to make sure,” Giles answered. “Although, admittedly, I’m not the best at these kinds of spells, I can tell when I’m being interfered with.”

“You should let Willow check you out, just in case,” Xander said, more than suggested.

Giving him a faint smile, Giles said, “She’s already offered her own, all-natural remedy.”

“So I heard.”

He had to smile a little more at the dry response.

“Still, you can’t blame her for it. Those who’re getting it, tend to want everyone else too, to,” Xander continued.

There was a bitterness there and Giles wondered just how over Anya, Xander really was. Add to that the loss of his eye, the change of scenery and the continued lack of employment, it wasn’t any real surprise that Xander was still awake at two in the morning. “How are you feeling these days?”

Looking surprised by the inquiry, Xander answered, “I’m doing okay. I should hear back on Monday about a couple of job leads, which will make our living expenses a lot easier. You can’t have too many more rare books to sell.”

“No, I’m afraid not,” Giles confirmed, regretful. “I lost a good many of them in Sunnydale.”

“At least Andrew’s working.”

“Yes, that’s true.”

They were both silent for a space, contemplating the mysteries of Andrew’s job as a programmer. His was the main source of income for the group home and, as such, had been given at least a little more respect than he’d had in Sunnydale. Of course, Xander had made sure that Buffy and Faith reined in Willow when it came to Andrew, taking some sort of protective stance over him. Giles still wasn’t sure that they had done the right thing, taking the young man in, but hadn’t been able to turn him away, not with how he’d helped them through the worst. He’d done his very best in a bad situation and while that didn’t forgive his sins, it was a start.

“So why aren’t you sleeping?”

Giles had again taken Xander by surprise with his question, he could tell. For a moment, Xander didn’t reply, as if honestly trying to come up with an answer that made sense.

“Some of it’s nightmares,” Xander said slowly. “But mostly, my brain won’t shut off. I can, however, take pills and get a fairly good night’s sleep.”

“So you’re faking it.”

“You betcha.”

Smiling briefly, Giles asked, “How about a game of Bridge?”

“Isn’t that a structure, more than a game?” Xander teased, dark eyes merry.

Giles’ smile returned as he opened his drawer to bring out the cards and disdained, “Heathen.”

*  *  *  *

The alcohol came out about a half hour after Bridge was changed to Poker, as Xander mostly just refused to get the rules of Bridge. Giles had given in with an exaggerated sigh, but he’d still given in, pale eyes crinkled with amusement behind his glasses. It was a sight that Xander could get used to, that was for sure. He couldn’t remember when he’d last seen Giles honestly smiling about anything, when he really thought about it, and that sucked rocks. Everyone should smile, or at least have a reason to and pretend not to, as Giles used to do.

“Ever notice that things were easier before?” Xander asked, looking into his glass of whiskey. Which, once he’d gotten used to the burn, wasn’t that bad. Wasn’t as good as rum, but it would do.

Giles flashed him a wry twist of the lips. “Easier when we were on the borders of the worst Hellmouth in a century and fighting for our lives, you mean?”

“Yeah.”

“I suppose it wasn’t easier, so much as more clear-cut,” Giles mused.

Xander sighed. “I suppose. Hey, when was the last time you got laid, anyhow?”

When Giles froze, it occurred to Xander that he’d asked that out loud. Groaning, Xander put his head down on the desk and pushed his glass towards the center. He heard the liquid being poured and figured he’d been given a freebie and lifted his head to take the glass and a healthy swallow from it.

“Jenny was the last person with whom I was intimate.”

The quiet revelation came as a surprise to Xander. Not the revelation itself, but the fact that Giles had made it at all. He also noted the use of ‘person,’ instead of woman and knew that Faith’s observation was right. Sighing, he said plaintively, “I miss sex.”

Giles blinked at him a moment. “I gather you got used to quite a bit of it, ah, with Anya.”

Xander snorted. “You have no idea, G-Man, seriously. The woman had a one-track mind and it was a track I loved to plow. Among other things.”

Coughing a bit on his liquor, Gile muttered, “There’s a mental image I’d rather not have had.”

“Hey, you started it.”

“You started it.”

Xander paused. “Oh yeah. Anyhow. You need to get back out there. Date someone. Have a roll in the hay. You’re not dead, Giles, and maybe if you celebrated life a little, you’d be able to sleep.”

Practically studying him, Giles questioned, “Are you offering?”

Was he? Leaning back in the chair he’d dragged over to the desk so they could play cards, Xander studied the man before him. Giles’ eyes widened as he realized that Xander was taking his question seriously. Not that that surprised Xander, given how he’d probably come off as a bit of a ‘phobe in the past. Offering an apologetic grin, Xander explained, “Anya was nothing, if not open to a lot of different experiences. Probably came from living so long. She...broadened my horizons, in a lot of ways.”

“Ah,” Giles replied, still nonplussed. Then he seemed to gather himself together and continued, “But I wasn’t being serious, Xander. You’re far too, well, young for me.”

Arching an eyebrow at Giles, he countered, “Only in years, G-Man, trust me. Being in love with an ex-vengeance demon, seeing the things I’ve seen, helping to kill a lot of them, having the experiences of that Marine still in my head, though it’s faded now, grew me up really fast. If I had to guess, I’d say were almost the same age. Though of course I’m still better looking.”

Giles snorted at that and took another sip of his whiskey.

Xander watched as the other man shifted, clearly uncomfortable with his scrutiny, but continued to look his fill. There was no doubt that Giles was a handsome man, his strength of purpose somewhat dimmed these days, but not his devotion. And that was when the real problem unfolded itself to Xander. Giles was faded from more than lack of sleep, though that had a lot to do with it. He no longer had the Council of Watchers. Most of his old friends were dead now. There was a big difference from being ostracized to being the only one left.

“Are you going to start up a new Council?”

Giles paled. “What on earth?”

“Council of Watchers,” Xander clarified. “Are you going to start a new one? You’re pretty much the only one who can. And this time, you can do it up right.”

“I, I hadn’t thought, I mean, I suppose that’s a good, oh dear,” Giles sighed.

Xander grinned and stood, moving closer to lean on the desk beside Giles. “We all need a purpose, Giles, and you’ve got to admit, Buffy’s a little beyond the whole trainee stage. So is Faith. And between them, they train the girls, not you.”

Taking off his glasses, Giles cleaned them absently, staring into the distance as he said, “I know, and perhaps that is part of the problem. I’ve never...dealt well with change. All of this, the new location, the loss of the Council, the new Hellmouth and demons whom we haven’t ever encountered...it’s a bit much.”

Knowing what he had to do to ease that lost look from Giles’ face, which he really wanted to do, Xander pushed off from the desk and straddled the other man’s lap.

Shocked, Giles exclaimed, “What’re you doing!?”

Putting a hand over Giles’ mouth, Xander replied, “Sometimes, change is a good thing. And like I said, I’m not as young as my years, Giles.”

Xander replaced his hand with his mouth, and gently kissed Giles, who remained rigid for a good five seconds before melting into it with a groan. The kiss was soft and exploratory, both of them tasting and testing the other. Xander felt the growing hardness beneath his ass and rubbed a little over it in encouragement. Giles’ breath hitched, which Xander took for a good sign, and practically attacked Xander’s mouth immediately after.

Also a good sign.

Then Xander found himself with his back on the desk as Giles continued to devour him, leaving him breathless and moaning. His own dick was taking a decided interest in the party and he hooked a leg over Giles’ hip to bring him closer. Giles pulled back unexpectedly and Xander growled a protest.

“Xander, wait, this is, too sudden, and the alcohol, and you’re alone and vulnerable and...”

“Would you shut up and fuck me?” Xander challenged, as not vulnerable as he could possibly be, even though he was feeling a little nervous. Anya had always been present before, but this was strictly his own doing.

Giles stared down at him for a long moment, as if assessing his words and depth of commitment, and finally gave a short nod. “Don’t move.”

“Not going anywhere,” Xander promised as Giles moved off him to rummage through a drawer.

He came back with some kind of lotion and, “Muscle relaxant from training. I knew I had some here.”

Chuckling, Xander said, “You’re a pretty resourceful guy, Giles.”

Eyes rolling a bit, though obviously amused by the quip, Giles set the lotion down and put his hand on Xander’s shirt, unbuttoning it slowly, maintaining eye contact until the shirt was undone. Then his pale eyes looked down at the bare skin and he swallowed heavily, running his hands over the exposed skin. Xander sighed into the heavy-handed caress, completely enjoying it more than he remembered. He wasn’t sure if that was because he was a lot more easy-minded with Giles than a stranger because he trusted him, or if he simply felt more for the other man than he wanted to think about, but didn’t really care.

The pants were next, unbuttoned and unzipped, then swiftly pulled down, along with the briefs beneath. Giles licked his lips as he continued to stare at Xander’s body, then bent over to lick up the hard cock. Xander hissed and jerked at the wet contact, not having had more than his own right hand for so long. He groaned outright when the lick turned into a whole-mouth experience and Giles started sucking on him like a favorite lollipop. Twisting so that he could hold onto the edge of the desk, Xander couldn’t help but thrust up into the tight, wet heat.

He wasn’t sure how long it went on, but then Giles withdrew, prompting Xander to open his eyes and blink blearily at his new lover. The look on Giles’ face was one of amazed lust, mixed with something Xander didn’t really want to think about...love. Panting, he gasped, “Fucking me now, is a good thing. Honest.”

Giles smiled briefly and nodded, reaching for the lotion. Xander took the opportunity to turn over, presenting his ass for easy anything, and sighed deeply, anticipating. It was only seconds before Giles’ finger pushed slowly inside him and Xander let out another sigh, relaxing around the penetration. It seemed forever before Giles introduced finger number two, and an eternity beyond that for number three.

Frustrated, Xander kept pushing back on the invasion and demanded, “Now, G-Man!”

“As you wish,” Giles murmured.

That brought up a completely inappropriate Princess Bride reference, which Xander tried to ignore, and Giles pushed his cock inside. Shuddering in pained pleasure, Xander kept his breathing even and deep, forcing his body to relax and accept the hard shaft penetrating him inch by slow inch. Then Giles was buried deep in his body and they both panted from the invasion, Giles plastered over him, pinning him down with his weight.

Xander gasped when he realized that Giles was still dressed, feeling the edge of a belt beneath his ass.  “Oh fuck!”

“What? Are you all right?” Giles questioned, immediately concerned.

Struggling for words, Xander answered, “Just realized...this is a long, long-time fantasy of mine.”

“What?”

Grinning a little at the stunned tone, Xander nodded and explained, “Daydreamed in school about you bending me over the library counting and fucking my brains out. Totally buried it until just now.”

Giles jerked hard at that, provoking a moan from them both, and Xander grinned wickedly, thinking, Must’ve been a seriously forbidden thing for him, since I was fifteen when we met.

Out loud, he teased, “So come on, Mr. Giles. You’ve got poor, helpless student Xander at your mercy. What’re you going to do with him?”

“For fuck’s sake, Xander!” Giles groaned, pulling out to thrust back in, hard.

Xander laughed, a little wildly, and exclaimed, “Yes! I finally got you to swear! And all it took was your cock in my ass!”

Growling, Giles set up a punishing pace, fucking him hard and fast. Xander was breathless inside of fifteen seconds, whimpering and begging mutely for more, ten seconds after that. Shoving back on the hard flesh inside him, Xander couldn’t help but cry out when Giles nailed his prostate. A hand covered his mouth, reminding him that there were others in the house, most of them underage, and Xander moaned gratefully.

It had been over a year since he’d had this, and Xander didn’t remember it ever being this good, even though he’d usually been buried inside Anya while their nameless paramour pounded Xander from behind. He relished every wordless grunt and almost-silent curse that seemed dragged from Giles’ gut as his lover humped almost savagely into him.

Giles stopped abruptly, sheathed in Xander’s hole, and panted, “I didn’t use a condom, should I, shall I, what should I...”

“Come in me,” Xander ordered, needing it a lot more than he’d ever have guessed. Squeezing his ass muscles around the thick shaft inside him, he repeated, “Come in me, Giles, fuck, please, just oh! Oh God! Yeah, that’s, oh shit, I’m, it’s you Giles, oh God, it’s all you!”

Coming hard enough to see stars, Xander shouted hoarsely at the release that seemed pulled from his very being, his cry only partially muffled at Giles’ belated hand over his mouth. A few grunts and short, hard thrusts later, Giles stifled his own, chest-deep groan, by mouthing Xander’s shoulder as he came, his body sealed to Xander so that none could escape.

For a few long minutes, Xander was completely boneless and sated, unable to move a muscle, let alone think of asking Giles to pull out. The feel of Giles on him, the weight covering him, was comforting in a way he hadn’t ever experienced. Always before, he’d wanted the third party to get out as soon as possible so he and Anya could snuggle after. This time though, he was wishing badly for them to magically be transported to a bed so Giles could stay right where he was.

There was a shocked sense of dislocation before discovering a firm mattress beneath him.

“What on earth!?” Giles exclaimed, partially pulling out of Xander.

Laughing loudly, Xander reached back to keep him in place, forcing Giles to stay put. When he could finally speak through the occasional chuckle, Xander gasped, “It was Willow! She’s been linking into my thoughts by accident and must’ve heard me wishing we were in bed so we didn’t have to move.”

Giles groaned and pressed his face against Xander’s back. “I’ll never be able to face her.”

Still chuckling, Xander yawned and ordered, “Suck it up, G-Man, ‘cause I’m going to be wanting this on a regular basis, from now on.”

“You, you are?”

The hesitant question caused Xander to twist around so he could look into Giles’ eyes as he smiled and said, “Definitely. If it’s okay with you, of course.”

Disbelief entered Giles’ pale eyes and he repeated, “Okay? Xander, this is...well, more than I’d ever dreamed of. That you want me...I still can’t believe it.”

Even though his back muscles protested, Xander pushed up and kissed him gently before saying, “I do. Now come on. Time for snuggles and sleepy-time.”

Giles blinked at him a moment, then smiled indulgently and observed, “You’re not as old as you think, Xander.”

But since he complied by curling around Xander like a limpet and his breathing slowed into sleep, Xander wasn’t going to correct him.