SUMMARY: Christmas in the future, Giles' Seventieth Birthday approaches
The message was a surprise! It had been so long since any of us had heard from our old mentor. He was spending his twilight years cataloguing antiquities in the British Museum. The wheel had turned full circle.
We were invited to spend Christmas with him and as I said it had been a while. We all dutifully arrived in a 'parcel' just as we always had on his doorstep to receive news of the latest 'menace'. Our numbers were sadly depleted with Buffy no longer with us. All of us were older and wiser, well, perhaps not wise in my case. Cordelia looked very elegant with upswept hair shot through with grey. Oz still looked the same to me perhaps it was the influence of the wolf within.
Anya stood at my side impatient to be in; she doesn't like the cold it gets into her joints. I can't say as I like it much either. I knocked on the door again. I heard someone call "I'll get it!" The door opened wide.
"Giles?" I gasped. He hadn't changed a bit. No, it couldn't be. He looked younger.
The young man smiled and I saw a hint of Willow's mischief there. No, it was Giles' son Jack.
"Come in, Come in all of you. Nippy out there isn't it? We've not had snow at Christmas for years." Jack took our coats and deposited them in the hall. He led us through tall sliding oak doors into a light and airy living room.
"I'll go and make the tea, Dad will be down shortly. He's having a nap."
We all gravitated to the warmth provided by the fire in the huge Ingle-nook fireplace. After warming themselves the others sat down on one of the long sofas in the room. I decided to have a 'nose around' By the French windows leading to the conservatory I saw an oil painting bathed in the weak winter morning light. It was Willow. Lithe and glowing with life she was holding some flowers in her hand and was looking out of the picture with happy sparkling green eyes. I moved closer and her eyes followed me. I stepped back in shock was she laughing at me?
"She always does that y'know. I think she bewitched the canvas as I painted her."
I whirled round at the familiar voice. Giles. Really Giles! He walked slightly stooped and more slowly than I remembered. He's Seventy you idiot! His lean frame still lean but his face had a hint of pain as he sat in his leather wing backed chair. He smiled and the pain vanished. How is it some people just don't age? Their hair just greys. In Giles' case it made him look more distinguished and his hair was still more brown than grey.
"Hello everyone, Jack's getting the tea." He glanced at Willow's picture I could swear she winked at him. He smiled gently. "They're all here again, love. Just like old times." Jack came in and deposited the tea. We all had china cups Giles took his mug from the tray caressing it lovingly, Willow's last Christmas present to him.
"Would you like me to tell you a story?" We looked at each other. We knew of course that Giles had taken to writing Children's books about a grouchy vampire called William. With a penchant for hot chocolate but did he really intend to tell us fairy tales all Christmas?
"About my misspent youth? I think you're old enough to understand now." He took a gulp of his drink. I put my teacup down and we leaned forward in our seats. Eager for a story...
I first met Ethan in a pub. He pulled someone off me who was intent on murder. I think I liked him immediately. It was the way his expressions changed so quickly indicating a lively mind. If your face remains in one expression too long you begin to feel depressed. Even smiling too much gives you face ache after a while.
Back to the reason for the fight. Chloe had travelled with me to Oxford. I was starting my studies there and she thought I needed the company. On our way through the crowded bar someone accidentally tripped over her sticks and swore at her.
"Fucking Cripple! Oi! You I'm talking to you!"
I think it safe to say that we had never heard Giles lapse into gutter English before I was shocked. I wanted more! More characterisation, being told a story is much better than reading a story. A voice brings it to life.
Giles paused to sip his tea sparing us a smirk at our shocked faces. He resumed.
Chloe took no notice. I couldn't ignore it and took a swipe at him. Never mind that he was built like a brick out house, a member of the Rugby team with all his mates in tow. He had insulted my sister! Chloe stood by and looked at her watch while the team attempted to extract my brain through my nose. She tutted in disgust and finally helped me out by braining one or two with her crutches then Ethan took care of the last three with my help. We had a celebratory pint and all three of us reeled off in the direction of my dorm room at closing time four hours later.
I didn't even have a chance to go to the library to collect my books. (He smiled again he looked like a guilty school boy.) The next morning feeling a little heavy in my cups I opened my eyes to see a naked Ethan pouring boiling water into a tea-pot. Understandably, I was a little perturbed. He had been living on his own for so long that he didn't feel the need to wear anything until absolutely necessary. I think he had some jeans hidden somewhere in case of fire.
He gave me my tea and I decided I simply had to buy him some clothes; it was going to be a very distracting year otherwise. We had our first lecture that afternoon. I crammed like mad all morning. Ethan lounged on his bed reading a magazine. At two in the afternoon, he poured himself into a T-shirt and his jeans and we went off to the lecture. We must have made a very odd looking couple, he looking like a beatnik and me with a multicoloured bruise down my face. We were not precisely eager and fresh-faced. Someone made a crack about 'starting early' but Ethan hushed him with a look.
I placed my notebook on the desk. Ethan didn't have a bag with him. He explained that he had enough trouble holding himself up let alone carrying a heavy bag as well. He astonished me by not looking at our Professor for the whole two hours. However later that night I discovered why he didn't have any books. He had a photographic memory and could reproduce any amount of text at the drop of a hat. The other students called him Wizard. I preferred Mage and told him why. I found myself telling him all the secrets of my Watcher family and my own background in Elemental magic. He flung his arm round my shoulders and said we were going to be great friends but Rupert was a bit of a sissy name. Couldn't I change it?
I thought for a moment and the only name I came up with was one my Maiden Aunt gave me when I was six. On birthday's and Christmas I would get so excited I would tear round pretending to be a racing car and ripping all the paper from the presents. She called me Ripper. Ethan liked it so I was stuck with it although he didn't use my explanation of the 'nick' name to his friends.
Giles paused and took another mouthful of his drink. We all smiled at him. I had realised just how much I missed the sound of his voice all these years. It was the voice of sanity in an insane world.
Jack looked at his watch. "Almost dinner time Dad, do you want to stop now?" Giles blinked heavily and took a deep breath nodding. Jack collected the tea tray and took it out.
"Was that really how you got the nick name Ripper?" Oz asked
"One of them. Are you going to stay for the week? Jack will take your things upstairs to your rooms. One story per day that's your ration." Everyone left, Cordelia and Anya giving him a kiss in thanks for the story. We didn't see the facade crumble as the door closed. His hands shook as he finished the long draft in his mug. It wasn't tea.
They followed Jack into the large high vaulted kitchen and took their seats at the long oak table set against one wall. Jack busied himself at the range opening cupboards every now and then searching for plates and seasonings.
"Is Giles not eating then?" Cordelia asked. Jack looked round at the places, he had set the table for six but only five remained on the table. He frowned as he glanced toward the kitchen door as if he could see through it and chastise his father for removing the extra setting.
"I guess Dad will be having a sandwich tonight. He's saving his appetite for one big blow out meal on Christmas day. You all look as though you need a hot meal, to take away the chill." Jack turned carrying a huge pot from the cooker to the table.
"Dinner is served." They all peered into the bubbling cauldron. The steam carried such a delicious smell!
"What's in it?" Xander asked as Jack ladled some of the concoction onto his plate.
"Everything that does you good, nothing that does you harm." He said it like he was reciting a spell. He blushed and they saw Willow clearly for the first time.
"That's what Mum used to say. She cooked this for Dad before I was born and she made me promise to cook it for him every Birthday and Christmas. Boy, that steam stings." Jack wiped his eyes with his handkerchief. Everyone knew it wasn't the steam. They sniffed as they took their first mouthful.
Giles was dozing in the Living room dreaming of Willow. When he had painted her, she hadn't been in the garden. His easel was set up in the bedroom and there was only one way to get her expression just so. He smiled in his sleep remembering.
"Willow, don't fidget! I don't do 'blur' very well y'know" He teased.
"I'm all tense, Rupert. Couldn't you come and untense me?" She said pouting. He looked at her. Yes! That's one of the expressions! He quickly loaded his brush, swept it over the canvass, and recited the fixing spell. The expression fell into place with all the other layers of magic. Her face was beginning to take on a three-dimensional quality.
"I don't know why you're worried the doctor said the baby is fine. Just a little large. It's to be expected love. I'm rather big myself." He grinned. Her elfin head appeared round the bottom corner of the canvass and her glance took in his impressive erection.
"You can say that again!"
He sighed and placed his paintbrush on his palate. "Get thee hence to the bed woman."
Willow giggled as she raced for the bed and started to bounce on the soft satin covers. She was the most enchanting fruitful creature he had ever seen. He thanked all the Gods every morning when he woke lying next to her. Now she was having their child and she wanted more love, more often. What a way to die! He made love to her gently letting their passion and joy in her condition be transmitted to their growing infant.
"Dad, Dad?" Giles opened his eyes. Still here? He looked up at Jack.
"Do you want to come into the kitchen, sandwich time." He left the plate on the side table knowing that his father wouldn't eat them.
"Yes, yes just coming." He lifted the sandwich to his lips and Jack smiled. He put it down again once his son had left the room. He got up slowly and walked round to stand in front of Willow. His fingertips caressed the frame.
"Not long now, love." He looked into her eyes they were smiling at him still. He turned away from her and went into the kitchen with his sandwich plate.
He stood at the threshold unnoticed. He'd missed their voices in animated conversation. In his eyes they were never going to be older than twenty. They were ageless. Just as Buffy is ageless now being perpetually twenty-five. The age she was when she died. There had been a dozen or so Slayers since but because he hadn't trained them, they hadn't survived long.
Jack's Slayer would be different. Giles had trained his son since boyhood so he in turn would be able to train his Slayer. Jack's Slayer would be arriving tomorrow with her guardian.
"Hey, G-man are we going to get another story tonight?"
He smiled at the old nick name. Jack was astonished. Dad hadn't told him they used to call him that!
"No, only one per day. When would you like it scheduled? Morning or evening? You could go out exploring during the day if you had them in the evening." They all nodded.
"Evening it is then." Giles put his plate in the sink. He sniffed a familiar aroma he looked at Jack. "You made them a stew?" His son nodded. "Good Boy. I'm sorry but I'm going to my bed. It's been an eventful day and I'm tired now."
Anya yawned and Xander got the message. Bedtime, no sleeping, just bedding.
Oz had tried for hours to drop off to sleep but found it impossible to sleep in a strange house on a strange bed. With a strange but vaguely familiar scent wafting up the stairs. He padded downstairs in his bare feet being lead by his nose to the kitchen. It was pitch black except for a small glow by the wall then the smoke became more pungent.
"Welcome Lycanthrope. Join me?" Oz sat down by Giles.
"Jack doesn't like me smoking. Help yourself." Giles studied Oz as he took a joint from the tin on the table. He was very quiet.
"You know don't you?" Giles asked. Oz nodded as he searched his clothing for a lighter.
"Yes." He knew when he first saw Giles; the veil of death surrounded him. Like an old stag fearing a wolf. "How long have you been ill Giles?"
The older man sighed with relief. Someone he could be honest with at last.
"About five years. My doctor says the cancer started within a week of Willow's death. It seems I can't tolerate life without her." He gave Oz a light.
"This" He held the joint upright in his fingers. "Helps but it's not prescribed so Jack doesn't like it. He keeps asking me why I have to rebel all the time." Oz shared the Watcher's amusement. "I'm only allowed oral painkillers and I get so fed up of drinking."
"Do you know when?" Oz asked meaning if Giles knew how long he had to live.
"I've always known. It's Christmas Day. That's why I called you here to say goodbye and to give you all a present. What do you want for Christmas Ozymandias?"
Oz stared in wonder at the Watcher, how did he know his name?
"Willow told me, what do you want?" Oz tried to return Giles' steady gaze and failed miserably.
"Have you got a silver bullet? 'Cause I've been sent to kill you. I don't want to, I don't have a choice." His tears stained silver down his cheeks in the moonlight.
Giles was surprised by the werewolf's admission; he was convinced he was going to die naturally. Who would want to assassinate a dying man?
"What happened to you Oz, we all wondered."
"The government found a way to control the wolf and release him at times other than the full moon. I kill who they programme me to kill then I'm left alone with that knowledge until they need me again. I don't want to see another full moon Giles. I've had enough."
"Very well, a silver bullet for you." He handed the werewolf a handkerchief Oz accepted with a nod of thanks.
"Would you like to hear how I lost control over some magic?" Oz nodded in the darkness. A story to himself without the others! Giles began.
It was two years into my course at Oxford and Ethan and I had enlarged our circle of friends to include Philip, Thomas and Dierdre five for a pentagram. During the summer break, I had a job as a labourer on a local building site. I enjoyed it. It was hard physical work in the sun for the most part and by the end of the summer I looked pretty good. (I was very vain in those days) It stood me in good stead for the next job I was forced to take to meet the rent on the house we all shared.
Ethan had been the breadwinner. We didn't know how he came up with the money. He just did I think I was the only one he trusted with the truth and he made me promise I wouldn't tell anyone until after his death. He was an escort of sorts to anyone who would pay. Sometimes he would come home and I would sense his revulsion at what he had to do. I think that was the beginning of the change in his character.
It was the first week back and the first weekend when we had any spare cash. On Saturday morning Ethan offered to make us all breakfast, we had a huge mushroom omelette with toast. Ethan had gathered the mushrooms on his way home on Friday night.
All I can remember of that day is waking up naked in the middle of Salisbury plain with artillery shells exploding over-head. Ethan had used *magic* mushrooms in the omelette!
Luckily, someone spotted us and the weapons test was halted while they got us off the field. We were arrested of course. The army thought we were peace protesters. We were all put in the same cell. I rattled the bars. Solid. Ethan looked at the floor and drew lines with his foot in the dust.
"It's not my fault!" He yelled as the other's looked accusingly at him. "How was I supposed to know the mushrooms were funny?" Only I caught his secret smile.
"You knew Ethan! You probably didn't know how they would affect us but you knew. How do you propose to get us out of this mess?" I looked at him he was sitting on the floor with his hands in his lap. He shrugged.
I studied the lines Ethan had drawn on the floor and made my decision. If I didn't get out us out of here, I would be on the next train to the Watcher's compound. I drew a rough circle in the dust and a pentagram inside the circle. Ethan looked on in amazement.
"That's my Ripper, love the way your mind works, man." I smiled at his use of my nickname.
We took up our positions at the points of the pentagram. It was so natural and I called on the elemental spirits to help us. It went a little haywire probably the proximity of Stonehenge I never really gave it much thought. The sky darkened, thunder rumbled overhead and lightning ripped the heavens jaggedly, it arced through our cell window and struck the locked door, it opened and we fled.
When we got outside I realised I had left the circle open and that it should be closed in order to restore balance. Ethan suggested that I cast another spell to balance the last one. I foolishly agreed. The opposite of rain is fire I muttered another invocation and snapped my fingers and the headquarters went up in flames. That's when I panicked.
I was out of control. I couldn't stop the spells spilling out of me. The others were looking at me like I'd grown two heads suddenly. I shook with magic in the midst of howling gales and licking flames, being lashed with icy cold rain. Ethan crouched beside me where we had taken refuge in the chaos and calmed me just by holding me. I was so grateful. The rain stopped and the wind died down. In the lull that he created for me we made good our escape.
Some soldiers pursued us. The others escaped through a gate in the perimeter fence but by the time Ethan and I got there, that exit was blocked. We turned and headed toward some nearby woods. I shot a quick glance over my shoulder and saw Philip and the others get in our van and speed up the road in our direction. We only had to get out the woods and we'd be safe.
I leapt over a dip in the hedge hardly breaking my stride. The van pulled up beside me.
"Ripper!" Ethan screamed.
I turned at the agonised sound. When I got to his side Ethan was on the grass verge of the road his knees drawn up to his chest. His thighs were covered in blood. As I picked Ethan up I saw some fresh blood on the barbed wire where he had clambered over the fence. I lifted him to my shoulder and hurried to the van.
"Hospital! Quick." Philip didn't have to told twice. Dierdre checked Ethan's pulse. It was still strong but he was losing a lot of blood. My hands were slick with his blood and I couldn't get a grip on the zip fastener. So I grasped either side of the zip and pulled ripping his jeans down the centre seam to reveal the source of the blood. I gasped and clamped my hand round the wound on his penis and again shouted for Philip to hurry. I sat astride Ethan all the way to hospital keeping him steady. While his blood warmed my fist, I noticed with growing alarm that his body was getting colder.
Finally, after what seemed like hours Philip squealed the van to a halt in the ambulance bay of the nearest hospital. Doctors appeared from all directions and helped me get Ethan's limp body on to a gurney. I ran along side with them until they packed the wound in the theatre. I drifted outside and leant against the wall feeling drained. I smiled suddenly I'd held Ethan in my hand for how long? Half an hour and the bastard had been unconscious the whole time. He'd never live it down. If he lived. I was serious again.
"You saved his life by doing that." Oz interrupted.
"Yeah, must have looked pretty comical though." He smiled in the darkness.
Ethan needed a transfusion urgently. I volunteered because I was the same blood group. He woke up during the transfusion and murmured something that bound me to him until his death last year.
"You are mine, I am yours blood and soul to soul forever." Spells like that are the most powerful because the caster believes that they are near to death.
Ethan recovered and I began to feel the effects of his enchantment on the very same day he was released from hospital. As I said at the beginning Ethan was out of action "Escort wise" for at least six weeks so I had to step into the breach.
"You didn't *escort* anyone did you?"
"Good God no, I became a film stuntman. Ethan liked that. He took great delight in mispronouncing it *Studman. * He still called me Ripper this time explaining that I could make Lightning rip through the skies."
Oz smiled at Giles they could see each other in the early morning light.
"I'll miss you, Giles."
"Hey, not for long Oz!"
"Oz, I can trust you not to tell the others can't I? It would spoil this week and I want it to be as normal as possible. I don't want a fuss."
"OK. Just between us two, I understand. Thanks for my present Giles."
From upstairs they heard the tell-tale creaking floorboards. The guests were waking. Jack came downstairs first he came into the kitchen to put the kettle on. He took a deep breath and whirled round. He was surprised when he saw Oz. The two men regarded him quietly and finished smoking.
Jack's expression hardened. Giles pinched the end of the joint and put it in his tin for later. Oz looked from father to son and decided to go outside for a walk and leave them to their argument.
"You know I don't like you smoking hash Dad!"
"It's my house and I can do what I damn well please!" Giles shook a little as his chest began to constrict.
"The doctor says" Jack continued. Giles got up and started to pace.
"Screw the doctor! My lungs are shot Jack! There's no miracle for me! If you ask me a smatterin' of pot would do you some good. You really do need loosening up." He looked so indignant that Giles couldn't help laughing in his face.
Jack sighed. It was indecent having a rebel as a father. He sometimes thought of him as much younger than his real age perhaps forty or so. He started on breakfast and was heartened when his father said he'd have some cereal.
Anya and Xander came downstairs all out of breath. Giles looked at them over the morning paper. His cereal bowl was empty so far so good, no lurching yet. He smiled at Anya.
"I thought you'd stay in bed longer this morning." He teased. She grinned at him. Then Cordelia breezed in and gave Giles a 'Good Morning' kiss.
"I like being seventy! I get lots of kisses from beautiful young women." Giles quipped gallantly. Cordelia glowed pink only Giles could flirt at such an ungodly hour.
"So Cordelia, do you want to take me into the village and choose a tree for the living room? There's lunch in it for you."
Jack froze by the tea-pot. His father wasn't really up to excursions.
"Yes of course, have you got transport? Tell me it's not the Citroen." She laughed Giles joined her clasping her hand in his gently.
"Good God no! That one's long gone Spike crashed it. In England I drive a different car, perhaps you'd like to try?"
"You drive on the left here, right?"
"Right." Giles grinned.
"No, left!" She laughed hitting him playfully on the arm.
Jack saw his fathers shoulders tense and knew that something was wrong. Giles slipped out of his chair pausing to kiss Cordelia on the top of her head on his way out.
"Bless you." He murmured and moved swiftly upstairs to the bathroom. Jack excused himself and followed him up the stairs. The bathroom door was a-jar. There were just a few tiny blood splashes in the toilet bowl where his father had failed to clean them off. He backed out and went into his father's bedroom.
He was sitting on the bed, his shirt was blood stained and he held what used to be a white handkerchief to his mouth. Jack picked up the phone and called the doctor.
Jack paced outside the bedroom waiting for the doctor's diagnosis. Oz sat atop the stairs. The others were downstairs exploring in Giles' library.
The doctor came out Jack looked expectantly at him.
"He isn't going to last the week. How many times a day has he been vomiting?"
"This is the first time." Jack looked mystified at the question but then realised this was the first time he'd noticed something was wrong. His father was very adept at hiding things. He hid his love for Willow for years! The doctor shook his head.
"Try to get him to rest and not exert himself. He won't rest I know but try? Don't make him eat or drink. He doesn't have much functioning stomach left. I'm leaving you some morphine for him."
Jack stared at his father's door the tears stinging his eyes.
"I'll let myself out." Oz moved out of the way. Jack knocked and went in not sure that he wanted to see his father. As the door opened he saw Giles dressed in pyjamas and dressing gown standing at his easel painting!
"Hello Jack!" Giles loaded his brush without pausing to study his son's shocked expression. He could imagine the stance though, the same one Willow used when she realised that he and Jack had gorged themselves on ice cream just before dinner. He smiled at the memory.
"Dad, the doctor said not to exert yourself!" Who was the son and who was the father?
"This isn't exertion," he gestured to the painting. "This is relaxation." Oz peaked round the edge of the canvass and the figures seemed to move toward him.
"I have to finish this. Jack, I'm all right. The doctor gave me a shot to settle things for a while. Will you take Cordelia out on the tree hunt? Oz will have to pose for me so I can finish." His father was murmuring continuously under his breath, his paint brush moving lightning fast capturing the essence of the werewolf on the canvass. Oz appeared next to Buffy, Ethan, Willow and himself five for a pentagram. They were standing on a dimly lit bridge. Waiting.
His son disappeared and left him to his work. Oz looked up at Giles seeing him filling in the background working feverishly, a fine sweat forming on his brow.
"What say we tell a story to Buffy hmm?" Giles laid down his brush. Oz glanced up at Buffy and swore she smiled at him. Then he saw his own face in the painting and stared. The man-wolf had quiet eyes that glowed with an ethereal quality not exactly a mirror but pretty damn close!
"Well now Buffy's story. Something fun!"
It was Rag week and we were madly haring round Oxford raising money for charity. When I say 'We' I mean my new girlfriend, Emily and me. She was a creature of sunshine, a blue-eyed blonde and I was smitten. I liked her because she was normal, she liked me because I was a little dangerous.
Ethan was tolerant of this relationship because it allowed him free access to my Watcher diaries and magic books. He absorbed them while I was absorbed in her.
One evening when I got home I found Ethan blowing up a vinyl sex doll. I thought 'ello he must be desperate! Turned out he wasn't blowing it up for himself but for someone else. He asked me to help him dress it in bondage gear. I picked up a plastic bag and Ethan snatched it away.
"That's your Birthday present Ripper!" said he slightly embarrassed.
I, of course wanted to unwrap it straight away I was still six in that respect. That's another story.
The plan was to shin up the drainpipe outside the Dean's office and place the dummy in his bed next to him. Then get an incriminating photo for the Rag magazine. Then he'd give a donation to the charity to stop publication. All good-natured fun! But! When I got in the room and I can tell you it was a tight squeeze through the window with the doll all blown up. Ethan was practically pissing himself snapping away with that damn camera of his as I tried to shove the over inflated rump past my waist. It must have looked like I was humping the thing instead of the Dean! Anyway it entered the room as if launched by catapult and I tumbled in afterwards and none too quietly either!
I grabbed the doll by its neck, slapped it a couple of times for giving me a hard time, and sallied forth to the Dean's room. It's amazing how many creaking floorboards' one can find when trying to practice stealth! I heard noises from behind the door. I knelt down taking my silent partner with me and looked through the keyhole.
"Guess who I saw" Giles looked at Oz with a wicked gleam in his eye.
"Don't know, can't guess! Tell me." Cried Oz eager for the next part.
The dean in bed with the school secretary, going at it hammer and tongs they were. Suddenly the bondage gear Ethan had bought for the doll seemed tame compared to what they were wearing. Spiked collar and leather wrist cuffs and nipple clamps and that was just the secretary. He had chained the Dean...
"HE?!" Oz yelped.
"Yes, didn't I mention? How very remiss of me!" Giles gave him the filthiest smirk Oz had ever seen. Ripper in full "game-face"
...To the bedpost and was 'servicing' him. I left the doll outside the door and ran to the window. I clambered out but lost my purchase on the ledge it was two storeys up. I flung out my arm wildly and caught hold of a drainpipe bracket. It broke my descent but at the same time ripped my shoulder out of joint that's the third and fourth reason Ethan called me Ripper. He said I was ripping good fun and I'd ripped my shoulder.
The next day I had a fight scene to choreograph for a film so my shoulder has never really healed properly.
"Now have you had breakfast yet? I'm afraid mine was a bit of a non-starter." Giles cleaned off his brushes and sighed at the painting. Nearly there now, not long to wait.
"Giles?" Oz asked the old man gazed at him his eyes and demeanour calm.
"How can you be so laid back? About everything? Dying and stuff."
"Oz, dying is easy. Living is the hard part. There are still things about me you don't know. Perhaps some things you shouldn't. I don't know what will be in the stories I tell until I open my mouth and they spill out. That way you get Ripper and not me." He dropped the cloth suddenly with such a look of fury on his face that Oz shrank back.
"He's opened the door! Bastard! Xander's opened the door!" Giles raced from the room his speed belying his age and condition. Oz followed on behind.
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