"Ash!" Ash heard Ellen shout his name and he rolled over slightly, grumbled and fell back to sleep.
"Ash!" This time it was followed with a poke to the backside from a pool cue.
"Ow!" He sat up suddenly, his hand rubbing at the offended spot.
"That's what you get for sleeping on the table again." Ellen laughed, "You have a visitor."
Ash finally looked towards Ellen and noticed the man in the suit standing slightly to the left behind her.
"Mr Giles! Sir, is there something I can do for you?" He asked as he hurriedly attempted to tame his sleep-mussed hair.
"Ash, good to see you again. No need to call me sir, it's just Giles, or Rupert if you prefer."
"Yes, s- uh, Giles." How exactly was he supposed to react to the mentor of his best friend and his boyfriend? The man was still and enigma to him.
Ash fidgeted as he watched Giles take a sip from the shot of whiskey Ellen had poured for him. And he would be having words with her about her flirting later. He leaned backwards, trying to look casual and had to hold onto the bar to stop himself from falling off the stool.
At Giles' raised eyebrow he blushed then asked Giles again,
"Is there something I can do for you, Giles?"
"Ah, yes." Giles answered, placing his glass on the bar and reaching for a piece of paper from inside his jacket. "This is something Willow sent to further explain what I'm about to ask."
After putting the folded paper onto the bar in front of Ash he continued,
"We're looking to do some work on and update the database Willow started back when they were all in high school. Unfortunately she has never had the time to work on it in any serious detail, or later on, the patience. And these days, well, as Buffy pointed out to me, the last time we needed computer help Willow used Google, and even then added a magic booster. You come highly recommended as the person to come to when in need of computer help."
"Yes, indeed. From a great many quarters, not just from within the Council itself."
Ash smiled as he picked up the paper from the bar and scanned its contents. He nodded as he read it.
"This is good, she at least remembers some of the basics. I should be able to do something with this. When do you need it by?"
"It's not terribly urgent, we can still do hands on research, and to be honest I prefer that. But, some of the travelling slayer and watcher teams would do better with the database at their fingertips."
"Ok," he thought through the list of all the things he had running at the moment, calculated the next time he expected visits from Xander, Buffy, the Winchesters and anyone else, "how does, for this first part, two weeks from Thursday sound to you?"
He smiled, embarrassed at the pride in Giles' eyes.
The following two weeks, and three days, flew by with all the work he did, and the helping with the bar and a visit from Xander, who had avoided the topics of Giles and computers altogether. Ash was once again asleep on the pool table when Giles arrived. After waking and providing the thirsty watcher with a glass of water he brought out the laptop he'd been using from behind the bar.
He took Giles through some of the basics of what he'd spent his time doing, and pointed to the disk that held the information for Willow and whoever worked on data entry.
"That should answer any questions anyone has, if not - I'm always on the end of the phone."
"Thank you, Ash." Giles said, pocketing the discs. "You are quite the remarkable man, and not just for your computer skills."
"I- uh, thanks, Giles." He stuttered, not quite believing his own ears.
"I must confess that I was a little reticent on first meeting you. Buffy has not always made the best choices in those whom she thinks to associate with. And then of course when you took up with Xander-" he cut himself off as he reached for his glasses and began wiping them, putting them back on he continued, "I view them all, Willow and Dawn as well, as my own children.
They mean the very world to me. And then to have one man mean so much to two of them, and then to Dawn as well. And eventually Willow, also. Now, though. Now I know that they all made the right choice."
"Thanks. But," he scratched at his neck, worried about the reception of his next words, "maybe you should try telling Xander that sometime?"
"You said you see them all as your own? I know that they're mostly all grown now, but they still see you as a father figure. And Xander, well, he never had the best father and you, well you were it for him. And he has totally low esteem when it comes to realising that you put him on the same level as all the girls."
Giles was silent a moment as he digested Ash's commentary of the relationships between him and the core group of 'Scoobies'.
"Thank you, Ash."
"No problem, uh, what?"
"I must confess, once more, that it had not occurred to me that Xander would have such issues anymore. He has grown into such a fine young man that it has become hard for me to relate him to the teenager he once was." He smiled and continued, "It will be a difficult conversation, but we shall persevere through the jokes and much polishing of my spectacles."
He stood and straightened out his pants, downing the last of his glass of water, he reached out and shook Ash's hand.
"Wonderful to see you again, Ash. I should make it out this way more often."