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Giles tapped the arms of his glasses thoughtfully on the side of the table.
"Hmm. I see. Yes, well, I concur then. I will see what I can organize from
my end." He listened for a few minutes. "Very well, I will notify you when
my representatives are ready to leave. No, no, I don't think they need to
know. A pleasure."

He frowned thoughtfully before turning back to his children. Well, young
adults now, he reminded himself. They lounged about the "research area" of
the shop, all in various poses representing 'we are so not listening in to
your telephone conversation'. Except Spike, who was sprawled easily in a
corner of the sofa watching the Watcher intently, and obviously listening
to every word. When Giles met his eyes the vampire shrugged and gave one of
his patented 'hey, I'm evil' smiles.

Xander, who was  sitting on the floor, leaning up against the sofa
Spike sat on, caught the exchange between Giles and his housemate. "So,
G-man," ignoring  the man's wince, "Do you want to tell us what that was
all about?"  He considered Spike's smirk for a minute. "Or shall I just
torture it out of Spike instead?" He laughed his best B-grade villian laugh.

Spike genially flipped Xander off and breathed, "Oh, give it to me, baby,"
in his best porno voice.

Xander snorted and opened his mouth to retort and was whapped lightly on
the arm by Buffy. "Don't start. You two. I swear having you sharing the
same apartment can't think of anything bad enough to describe
you." She folded her arms and mock glared. "And ewww." That was addressed
purely to Spike who smirked back.

Giles waited, enjoying the friendly by-play between Slayer and the Slayer
of Slayers. Friends. Only on the Hellmouth, he had decided when he had
looked around and discovered he had acquired another adopted child. Hadn't
that given the Watchers Council the wiggins, to use Buffy's term.
Especially when the Ripper, let out to play, had threatened the council
with dire retribution if their goons were even scented near the vampire.
Sometimes  the Ripper was a reputation to be savored.

When the attention of the Scoobies was all back on him Giles
spoke. " It would seem that the Tome of Imarka is still available. To us.
Not the Council, or at least certain elements of it. Its current keeper is
willing to let us purchase it. He is, however, unwilling to consign it to
the postal service." Giles paused. "So some of us will have to go to
England and collect it." He sat on an available chair and waited for the

Buffy bounced in her seat, hand in the air. "Me, me, oh, pick me,
please," she chanted. Tara and Willow looked at each other then turned
identical pleading faces on Giles.  Xander's face was hopeful, chocolate
eyes gleaming with excitement. Spike looked interested but not particularly

"I thought perhaps Xander and..." Giles voice trailed off. He had been
going to suggest Tara but on the sofa Spike had imperceptibly stiffened.
Giles didn't think any of the others had noticed. If he hadn't deliberately
been watching Spike he would have missed it himself. Since being accepted
by the group Giles had observed that Spike displayed a great deal of
protectiveness towards the others. Protectivness and a well -hidden

The possessiveness had disturbed Giles  until he realized that he was
thinking of the vampire and his interactions with the others in human
terms. But Spike wasn't human, for all that he was humanized, and that was
something they all often forgot. Spike was a vampire, and Giles had finally
decided that Spike was reacting as if they all were his own menage of
fledglings or childer. Chosen by him, needing his protection and simply
*his* and he seemed to have an extra dose of possession and protection
reserved for Xander. God only knew what was going to happen when the lad
started dating again, given Spike's aggressive reaction to a boy interested
in Dawn. All in all, the whole situation would make an interesting addition
to his Watchers Council reports, if he'd cared to make it. Giles picked up
the thread again. "...Spike." The vampire relaxed, satisfied.

Buffy pouted. "I never get to go anywhere." She sighed and held up her hand
to forestall a comment from Giles. "I know, I know. I have responsibilities
here." Dawn reached over and gave her a sympathetic hug, which the Slayer
returned. Willow and Tara shrugged off their disappointment and began to
make excited sightseeing  plans for the 'boys'.

As they babbled about art galleries and museums Xander groaned and rolled
his eyes at Spike who returned the look with a pained one of his own. "The
sooner we're gone the better, whelp."

Giles nodded. "I'll make the flight bookings and accommodation plans for
you tomorrow."

"Ahh, thanks but no, Rupes. If I've gotta travel freight I'll make my own
arrangements. I can deal with accommodation m'self too. Know a couple 'o
places we can stay. All you need t'do is find the dosh for the fares." He
shot the Watcher his patented evil but still completly cash-strapped smirk.