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solecism \SOL-uh-siz-uhm\, noun:
1. A nonstandard usage or grammatical construction; also, a minor blunder in speech.
2. A breach of good manners or etiquette.
3. Any inconsistency, mistake, or impropriety.

Solecism comes from Latin soloecismus, from Greek soloikizein, "to speak incorrectly," from soloikos, "speaking incorrectly," literally, "an inhabitant of Soloi," a city in ancient Cilicia where a dialect regarded as substandard was spoken.

***

"Well, understand why he might want to say it," Anya said from the chair which Giles usually managed to reserve as his own. "You've said the exact same thing about the man numerous times."

"Yes, well, I didn't have him as one of the committee who was reviewing my thesis." Giles stopped pacing. "Actually, I did -- but I knew better than to tell him what I thought of his half-baked ideas."

He turned to face Spike, who was slouched on the drawing sofa. "What were you thinking?"

"Millington's been a pain in my arse throughout this progress," Spike complained. "This time, he said I was simply making the whole thing about the Gem of Amarra actually existing up out of whole cloth and unless I could produce the relic, he was going to denounce me as a liar. Yes, he used 'denounce.' No matter what I do, he's going to argue against the thesis; what's the harm in calling him the wanker he is?"

Giles found himself grinding his teeth and forced himself stop. "You don't do it because it's a solecism of the highest order. Of course he's a wanker; everyone knows he's a wanker -- including Millington. He revels in it, Spike and you've just handed him more ammunition."

The cocky expression fled Spike's face as he realized what a mess he'd just made of thing. For all his bravado, finishing both his dissertation and the thesis for the Council seemed to have become very important to him, as if he was somehow trying to prove something. "I'm going to have to grovel, aren't I?"

"Quite a bit I imagine -- and not just to him; you're going to have to grovel to the rest of the committee as well for the breach of etiquette."

"Think I can get away with letters or will I have to do it to their face as well?"

"If I was on the committee -- I'd make you do both."

"Right." Spike levered himself off the couch. "I'd better go start my penance, then. Don't worry; I know what to say; William may not have had the balls to tell a professor he was a wanker, but I put my foot in it often enough the first time I was at Cambridge that I've had to write these before. I imagine the form hasn't changed in a century."

With that he was gone, down the stairs to let himself out through the kitchen door. Looking out the windows, Giles could see him cross the garden to the gate that led to the mews house. "He showed no desire commit violence," Anya said. "We should probably count that as a victory."

"What's so frustrating," Giles said, claiming the place on the couch Spike had just vacated, "is that he knows how to behave. When he feels like it, he's got better manners than the rest of us. The problem is convincing him to use those manners when he doesn't feel like it."

"It's the demon thing," Anya said. "You don't live by human rules long enough, you tend to forget them. How many times have I said something that was a bit too frank or didn't fit in with 'proper' behavior?"

He had to wonder if it was a trick question, something along the lines of Does this make my hips look big? "You haven't done it in quite some time," he hedged.

"This from the man who told me describing his visitor as an 'orgasm friend' was the most appalling thing I could say."

"Well, it was…even if it was true. Yes, you did say some amazing things, Anya, and I was as guilty as the rest of them of trying to quiet you for my own comfort. It took me some time to learn to appreciate what you have to say."

That brought a smile as she moved from the chair to curl next to him on the couch. "It's nice being appreciated."

They snuggled quietly for a few minutes before Anya asked, "Can you explain something to me? I have never understood why Spike acts like the human side of him is a completely different person. I mean, the soul seems fairly well integrated with the demon -- at least now, anyway. Angel does the same thing, apparently."

Giles sighed. "With Angel, pretending there was a difference between him and Angelus let Buffy love him without dealing with the monstrous things he'd done."

"I was wondering when she was going to show up in the conversation."

"Shush. I'm talking." He kissed the top of her head. "The rest of us followed suit because it was quite clear she wasn't going to abandon Angel after his return from whatever hell dimension he'd been in and it was the easiest way to keep the piece. Also, he proved himself useful, such as helping us stop the vampire version of Willow you managed to transport into our dimension."

"That was not my fault; Willow got cold feet and tried to back out in the middle of the spell. Rather funny when you think of some of the things she did later. We were discussing Spike and Angel."

He smiled and kissed the top of her head once more. "Yes, we were. I think the idea of Angelus as someone completely separate from Angel is how he keeps from going mad from guilt and as much as I don't like the pillock, it's probably a good thing since he seems to be doing useful work in Los Angeles."

"But that doesn't explain Spike. He doesn't differentiate between his souled and unsouled states; he's just Spike. I don't understand why he treats his human history as something separate. I was Aud, then Anyanka, then Anya -- but it was all me."

"Ever consider that perhaps Spike is a little embarrassed by what he was like as a human? For years the Council thought he was a murderer who'd been turned; now we know he was a poet and a scholar. You know he has certain self-esteem issues; those probably tie in with treating his human self like it was separate from him. How many times have we heard him refer to William as a git?"

"I suppose." She snuggled in a little closer. "You'll talk to Millington?"

"Beat him about the head and shoulders is more like it," Giles grumbled. "Yes, I'll talk to him. He's committed a solecism of his own, after all. I know Spike used my account of the incident and a Watcher's Diary is always accepted as a primary source. To say Spike was lying about the gem is an insult to me and I firmly intend to take him to task for it."

Anya reached up to trace the line of his jaw. "But tomorrow, right?"

Giles removed his glasses and laid them on the side table where he didn’t think they'd get knocked off; one could never be sure, though. Gathering her into his arms he told her, "Absolutely tomorrow. I think we have plans tonight."