one for sorrow
Loss catches in his throat each time Giles looks at the bot; the uncanny simulacrum chokes him with an acrid reminder of his failure. The first time Buffy died, he was shaken but soon relieved. Xander didn't know what he'd wrought; no slayer had ever before been revived.
But now she is truly dead and buried, and naught remains but the memory of his inability to protect her. Stopping Glory too late, killing Ben, it was all futile. And as the bot asked, why is he still here?
Opening a pack of Dunhills, he lights one, then inhales. Why not smoke in his flat? He's unlikely to recover any damage deposit after everything that's happened here. And with that thought, he realizes he is going back across the pond. Home is where you make it, and that's no longer here.
two for joy
The scene that greets him when he enters his flat is quite remarkable. The roses, the champagne, the music - a duet from La bohème, with Mimì and Rodolfo in the first blush of new love. Giles wonders if Jenny randomly chose an album from his collection or if she is familiar with this opera.
On second thought, it's amazing she can operate a record player. She's not so very much younger than Giles, but the gap in technology and approach looms vast. And she's more likely to go to Burning Man than the Met.
Yet she wishes to share his company, against all odds. Giles lifts a rose and inhales the fragrance, allowing himself a genuine moment of joy before ascending the stairs.
three for a girl
Sipping his beer, Giles savors the aroma of the hops. McGillicuddy's gets points for keeping bottles of Merlin's Ale at room temperature for him, and it isn't as if any bar in Sunnydale has imports on tap.
Three pints in, and a kiss from Jenny lingering on his lips, all is right in the world. Buffy's alive, the Master is dead, and perhaps the Hellmouth will be quiescent for a time. Giles would very much appreciate the sort of respite that would allow him to become better acquainted with one Ms. Calendar.
This is like nothing in his prior experience, which is best not thought of at all.
four for a boy
Power sings in his veins, and Ripper reaches for Ethan. Deidre and Phillip are gasping in a corner of the flat, while Thomas and Randall are off doing Eyghon knows what. Ethan is pliant, supple beneath him, and Ripper grasps him a fair bit harder than is strictly necessary. Judging by Ethan's intake of breath, he's loving every minute of it.
The high is enticing, but even more so the boy he's caressing. Ripper reaches for the scented oil.
five for silver
Ripper stretches languidly and Ethan rolls over, taking most of the blankets with him. Instead of starting a bout of wrestling, Ripper rises, pads his way to the loo, and pauses at the window on his way back to bed.
The street below their flat is closed for another tiresome Jubilee celebration. More bunting than London has seen since the war ended hangs haphazardly from light posts. The laughter of children carries on the noontime breeze, and Ripper has just the thing to drown that out. He rifles through his satchel until he finds the just-acquired album from the shop down the street, the one featuring an improved picture of their esteemed monarch.
"No future in England's dreaming," Ripper mutters, drawing the vinyl out of its cardboard sleeve.
six for gold
The life expectancy of a magic-shop proprietor in Sunnydale may be measured in months, but the previous ones didn't have a slayer training in their back room. And the profit margins are indeed excellent, even considering what he's paying Anya.
He doubts all vengeance demons are quite this fond of the filthy lucre; Anya is a special case. Given how good her instincts are, he's lucky to have her.
This isn't where Giles saw himself in his boyhood dreams of being a grocer, but then, at any given point in the past, his guess about the future would have been wholly inaccurate. Amusing, somewhat, that he so thoroughly turned his back on the dark arts, and now he sells their trappings as baubles. Best not to dwell on that irony, as he has a business to run.
seven for a secret, never to be told
Power emanates from Willow. Giles knows now how dreadfully dangerous she can be; he castigates himself for not realizing before. How could he have left? He doesn't want to examine the answer too closely, doesn't want to admit to himself the desire that surges through him.
Not for the girl, though she's grown up to be fetching enough, but for the witch, or more accurately, for her ability. Giles drank deeply of this aphrodisiac, back in his day, and power still calls to him. Willow and Ethan are nothing alike except in the undercurrents of energy that roil beneath the surface. Giles should want neither, desperately longs for both, and will never admit this.
eight for a wish
He is a watcher without a slayer, but that doesn't leave him weaponless. Oz and Larry and Nancy are trainable, and what they lack in mystical destiny they make up in sheer determination.
Watchers are called to guide, not to care; nevertheless, he can't help but love this ragtag band of children who are all that stand between Sunnydale and utter chaos. When imprudent Cordelia speaks her truth and, for her troubles, is drained by the Master's most vicious, Giles weeps not for her. He does mourn Nancy, who fought valiantly and to no avail.
Perhaps, he thinks, as he smashes Anyanka's amulet, Nancy will be hale and happy in the better world he seeks. He has to believe.
nine for a kiss
Breaking that window and getting Joyce the coat she was admiring is tops. Lashing out at the stifling forces of authority, ignoring societal restraint, doing as he bloody well pleases... it's been too long. Ripper flexes his biceps and lifts Joyce, bends her against the bonnet of the police cruiser.
Sliding his hand along her thigh, he hikes up her skirt. Her mouth is on his, and the years slip away. He's just got to London, fresh out of the confines of Oxford, and the girls are brilliant. Nothing like the prim sorts at uni. He left the city of dreaming spires during Michaelmas term, and London was a bloody revelation.
Then as now. Joyce's thigh is firm to his touch, and when he inches higher, her response is ever oh so gratifying.
ten for a bird you must not miss
The Edinburgh art scene drew Olivia away before London went all pear-shaped. Ripper wasn't best pleased to see her go, but the Giles of now is grateful she escaped before Eyghon tore their set asunder.
Of course he wondered how she fared over the years, but missing her was a familiar ache. Overwritten by the rift with Ethan and the burdens of watcherhood, the loss of Jenny and his falling out with the Council, the joy he once felt in her company was forgot. Giles has been battered by destiny, his and Buffy's, longing layered over loss.
No need to miss this one bit of his past anymore. Joyce's gallery keeps Sunnydale visible enough in art circles that Olivia has reason to come to town regularly. The Hellmouth is quiet enough that Buffy can devote herself to her freshman year at uni and Giles to the loveliest bird out of 1970s London.
Despite his erstwhile (always) slayer's horror at the thought, Giles is quite ready to have a personal life. He drops the needle on a Cream album and waits for Olivia's arrival, for levity to chase the darkness out of his day, for a chance to escape the hard land of the winter he's found in sunny southern California.