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“I take it back, I hate research,” Xander said.

Giles looked up from the book he’d been reading with an “Hmm?”

“I hate research,” he replied, wiping dust from his hands onto his shirt. “It’s dusty and boring and ninety percent of the time the books are in a language I don’t know. Of course, I think I could speak Sumerian by now. Yes, patrolling is dangerous and I could die, but the almost dying is Buffy’s shtick and at least there’s more action than reading about what some ancient dead warlock had for lunch.”

Giles just reached over, wiped at Xander’s cheek with his thumb. Xander held his breath, looking into Giles’ eyes. He resisted the urge to turn his head and take Giles’ thumb in his mouth. Giles sat back.

“You had a smudge,” he said quietly. “Perhaps I should consider dusting more often. Would you care to help me when we’re done here?”

Xander swallowed, nodding. Cleaning made Giles handsy. Maybe research wasn’t so bad after all.