Band Candy
by Twinkledru J.

He's in the alley outside of the Bronze, smoking a cigarette, and first she thinks he's some creepy trashy guy who's been thrown out and is gonna make obscene comments when she walks past but is too drunk to do much else, until she hears him swearing at the bouncers and realizes that it's Giles. He's in some ratty undershirt and jeans, really tight jeans, actually, and is surrounded by a cloud of cigarette smoke.

"Giles?" she asks incredulously, staring at him.

He looks up and laughs. "Oh, that's bloody fabulous," he slurs. "What do you want, Cordelia?"

"Oh my God, something really is wrong with you. I mean, we thought you might be sick when you didn't show up for study hall, but -- "

"Cordelia, do you mind?" he says irritably, standing and walking a little ways with her. "I've got a headache."

"That is the least of your problems, Giles," she says distastefully. "Even the tweed is better than this. I mean, I've heard of shabby chic, but I think that's just -- "

And then he slams her against the brick wall of the Bronze, not hard enough that she's really in pain, but hard enough to really throw her off.

"Cordelia," he murmurs, and his voice is a lot rougher than usual, which could have something to do with the fact that he reeks of booze and cigarette smoke, "I'm going to do two things that I've wanted to do to you for a long time. First of all, shut the fuck up, and second of all..."

And then he kisses her.



Joyce turns around, smiles widely and mouths "thank you!" at Buffy, then hurries away from the guy she's talking to.

"Oh, god, thank you, Buffy. That guy could not take a hint! Honey, you would not believe how bad my night has been. I was here with Ripper, and -- "

"What? You were here with Gi -- I mean, is something wrong? Were you guys looking for me, 'cuz, you know, they can page people here, all you had to do was call, and I would've -- wait, did you just say Ripper?"

"Nothing's wrong!" her mother giggles. "We just wanted to have a little fun...but then we, we kinda had a fight..." her mother's face clouds up. "And he stormed out, and he probably left with some skank just to make me -- "

"Wait, what? Mom, did you just say 'skank'? You told me never to call people names like -- that's not the point! What is wrong with everyone tonight?"

Joyce just giggles again. "Oh, honey, you can say whatever the hell you want. SKANK!" she shouts at a passing teenager to make her point. The other girl rolls her eyes and glares at Buffy. "And nothing's wrong with us," Joyce continues, "we just...I don't know, I guess everyone just feels like having a little fun tonight!"

Buffy stares at her mother. "Okay, mom, we're going home."

"But I just got here! I haven't had anyone fun to hang out with since Ripper left, and -- "

"Would you stop calling him that, Mom? It's...creepy. Willow," Buffy says as Willow and Oz catch up to them, "something is definitely not right here. We need to find Giles. Mom says she came in here with him and he left, so apparently he's okay, because..."

"Can't really see Giles in here by choice," Oz finishes for her.

"Thank you," Buffy says as her mother sighs and rolls her eyes.

"You guys are boring," Joyce announces. "Come on, let's go have some fun!"

"Mom, we're leaving," she says in what she knows is her mom's voice. Somebody's gotta be the adult here, right?

Joyce doesn't move.

"It'll be cool, Mrs. Summers," Oz says.

"We-we could probably use a hand with the researching, right?" Willow says, looking pointedly at Buffy. "That can be pretty cool. And, you know, we could always use more people to help us keep things safe. That's a death-wish way."

"Really?" Joyce asks, looking at Buffy hopefully.

"Fine," Buffy says. "You can give us a hand, Mom. But that means we have to find Giles and get to the library, now."

"Cool," her mother says, shrugging. As they slowly try to head for an exit, she hears her mother say to Oz " can call me Joyce, Oz."

Oh, god.


This isn't like Xander-kisses, or any other guy-kisses she's familiar with, for that matter. Taste of booze and cigarettes notwithstanding, Giles is a man who knows how to kiss. Even though, ew, not only is he old enough to be her father, he's Giles.

But goddammit, as soon as she's getting into it, he pulls away, but his hands go from being next to her shoulders to being wrapped around her, pulling her right up to him, and how is it possible that he's No, really, he has a really nice face and all, and his body doesn't seem too bad now that she can actually see some of the lines of it, but...he's hot, literally. The heat coming from his body transfixes her.

"Cordelia," Giles whispers, making her name sound like something really, really, really dirty, "have you ever really fucked a man?"

And he's moving now, and god he's thrusting, slowly, supporting her so she doesn't have to lean on the wall of the Bronze, which is probably covered in god-knows-what. He's thrusting, and this is Giles, it's sick and wrong and against the laws of god and man, but he knows what he's doing and this is a new Giles, she thinks. Maybe this is something Hellmouthy, but it doesn't seem like a demon Giles, it seems like it's just a different version of Giles.

"I -- " is all she says. "I...ah..I mean, I've --" But it's kinda really hard to concentrate when he's kissing her at that wierd little soft spot that's not quite her ear, it's just below her jaw and not really her throat and his lips are so hot and dammit, he's still thrusting.

Her ears are ringing. This is, like, like something out of those trashy romance novels her mom has, but...evil and twisted. It's, like, the anti-romance-novel. But her ears are ringing. And there's definitely a little panting, which of course leads to involuntary bosom-heavage, and wow, there's that "throbbing manhood" she's heard so much about and no wonder Jenny seemed to like him so much.

"Not Xander," he says, laughing cruelly. "Not that poor little nancy-boy Xander, not some glorified make-out session in the backseat with a football player, not some little high school boy's hand up that fucking beautiful little cheerleading skirt, I mean have you ever actually fucked a man?"

"Am I about to?" And she's so incredibly proud of herself that she's not only formed a coherent sentence, but she's actually said -- or moaned or panted or whatever, she's verbally expressed something resembling a trademark Snappy Cordelia Comeback.

He laughs again, and whispers, his lips hot and soft against hers, "We'll see, won't we?" before he kisses her again, this time slow and sweet and very soft. He pulls away, and it might be soft but it's not gentle, and she finds herself pushing her mouth against his for more, for something a little more satisfying.

But Giles ignores her attempts, instead wrapping an arm around her waist. "You don't really wanna spend your evening in the Bronze, do you?" he asks, guiding her away from the club.

"Well, I mean, Buffy -- " Buffy should really hear about the fact that her Watcher's midlife seems to have hit and hit hard, but it doesn't seem that he's gonna give her much of a choice on this matter. She might be able to make a break for it if she was really lucky and didn't trip on any of the busted-up concrete on the way up to the club, but the memories of hard-ass Giles discourage that path, because hard-ass Giles is intimidating enough, and drunken, apparently slightly insane hard-ass Giles...yeah.

"Buffy and Willow were kind of expecting me, but...hey, they can wait, right?" she says weakly.

"Mmm," he says, nuzzling her throat before lighting up another cigarette. "Don't suppose you smoke," he says snidely.

"No, I personally like clean teeth, good breath and lungs that will last me a good eighty or ninety years. But don't let me stop you."

"I won't," he says, not visibly offended by her comment.

And they keep walking, away from the Bronze, his arm still tightly around her waist, fingers idly tracing circles on her hip and sliding up and down in an area of only a few inches that feels like it's buzzing beneath the fabric of her shirt.

Okay, maybe this is something Hellmouthy.

It's about ten minutes later that she finally says something. "Uh, hey, Giles?"

He just laughs. "Giles?" he repeats. "What is this, the soddin' X-Files? It's not Giles anymore, Cordelia."

And she's really genuinely scared for a few seconds, because crazy Giles is still better than scary demon in Giles's body. But then he tosses away the cigarette and breathes in her ear "Ripper's back, sweet thing."

Not demon.

But oh shit.

"Ah," is all she says. "That's...uh -- that's good."

And Giles, or Ripper, or whoever he is now, laughs some more. "Has anyone ever told you you're incredibly beautiful when you're terrified?" he asks her, lighting another cigarette and replacing his arm around her waist.

"No," she says, tossing her hair, "but it would explain why the demons always come after me, wouldn't it?"

He just smiles.


When they get outside, Buffy hands her keys to her mother. Joyce looks at her blankly.

"Don't you want to drive?" Buffy asks her mom.

Joyce shrugs. "Nah, you can go ahead. I'm sick of driving everywhere."

"Uh, Mrs. Summers," Willow says nervously --

"No time," Buffy interrupts. "Come on, we gotta go. Mom, you said Giles left, did he say where he was going? To the school, or to his place, or..."

Joyce shrugs as Buffy speeds off, and giggles as they take a hard right. "Wow, Buffy, you suck at this," she laughs.

"Thanks for the rousing endorsement. Think, Mom! Did he tell you where he was going?"

"I told you, no."

Buffy gives a little frustrated growl. "Mom, you need to tell me, did he seem...different from normal? I mean, was he -- "

"He was acting like everyone else," Joyce tells her. "Until he suddenly turned into Super Jerk and left me. If we find him, do I have to talk to him? He's not gonna be giving us all orders like you say he normally does, is he?"

Willow and Buffy look at each other worriedly. "Like everyone else," Buffy repeats. "So whatever this is," she says nervously, "it may've happened to Giles. If he's regressing..."

She trails off. Willow gulps.

"Well, okay," Oz says, slightly confused, "but, y'know, even if he's sixteen, Giles is probably still a pretty together guy, right? I mean, he might not have all the answers, but..."

"Well, uh, see..." Willow starts, stuttering nervously.

"Giles at sixteen," Buffy says for her, "...less Together Guy, more Bad Magic Hates the World Ticking Time Bomb Guy."

"Oh," Oz says. After a moment, he says "Well, maybe it's for the best that he left you in there, Joyce."

"Oh yeah?" Joyce asks, grinning at Oz.

"I didn't just see that," Buffy says. "Eyes on the road, eyes on the road, always on the road."

It's quiet for a few minutes, until Joyce begins rummaging through the glove compartment. "Mom," Buffy asks, trying to be calm, "what are you looking for?"

"Nothin'," her mom says. "Hey, you kids got any of that candy left to sell?"

"At a time like this you're thinking about -- oh my god!" Buffy slams on the brakes and turns around to stare at Willow. "Will, that's it!"

"What's it?" Willow asks, staring at Buffy in wide-eyed confusion, although it could just be wide-eyed fear, since the car behind them swerves and speeds past them, tires squealing and middle fingers visible through every window.

"The candy! It's the candy, Willow! Mom, do you have any of the wrappers or anything?"

Joyce shrugs. "Nah, just threw 'em out when I was done. What're you talking about, the candy?"

"There must be some kind of curse on the candy, or demon eggs in the batch, or something." Buffy muses. "Look, we gotta get to the library. When we do, Willow, I want you to find out where the school got this candy from. Oz, you and -- Oz," she amends, "you look up curses. Mom, you -- uh -- you can look up, um...all right, I guess I need you to look up curses, too. But...would you stop the creepy Oz-flirting?"


"So," Cordelia finally says, "you really liked the cheerleading outfit?"

He looks at her, surprised. "Thought you were never gonna say anything."

"Yeah, well, I got bored waiting for you to do it. I thought you were gonna be Conversation Guy earlier, but apparently not. Seriously. You liked the outfit?"

"That is not an outfit," he declares. "That's soddin' fetish wear. It's disgraceful that a bunch of teenagers are allowed to wear that...which is to say," he says with a well-placed leer, tossing his cigarette aside and wrapping his arms around her tightly as his voice drops to barely a hot breath on her ear, "that all I could think about whenever I saw you in that bloody getup was throwing you down on the floor, ripping the built-in underwear out of that skirt with my teeth, and proceeding to fuck you so hard that you'd be unable to walk for a week."

And once again, she's rendered speechless, if for somewhat shorter a time. "Uh-huh," she says, trying to imitate that breathy voice. "Well. You know, I wish I could say the same, but since tweed's never really done it for me..."

At that moment, some passing seedy punk type makes a grab at Cordelia's ass. Giles turns around, punches the guy, slams the heel of his open hand into the punk's temple, and, after the guy goes down, swipes his leather duster.

"What about leather?" he asks as they continue, draping the coat around Cordelia's shoulders. "That better suited to Her Highness's tastes?"

"Well," she says, glancing back at the guy, "it's a start."


"Buffy," Joyce says irritably, "I'm sick of looking through books. This is stupid, and I'm getting...old-book-grungy-stuff on my hands, and..."

"Mom, if you don't want to help, just go home!" Buffy shouts finally, her voice echoing through the library. Her friends stare for a few moments, then look away, giving her privacy.

"I still wanna help," Joyce pouts, crossing her arms sulkily. "I just...isn't there something less gross I can do?"

"She -- she could help me!" Willow volunteers. "I -- I could use a hand on the computer; it's like they don't want to leave a trail, whoever these guys are."

"Yes!" Xander pipes up, jumping up from his seat, which was extremely close to Willow's, and slamming his book closed. "Yes! Joyce, you can take this seat, and I'll just go help Oz. Who is my friend. And who I, you know -- "

"Wouldn't hurt?" Willow asks nervously.

"Wouldn't hurt," Xander confirms, scurrying off to the stacks. Joyce and Buffy watch him for a moment, before Buffy shakes her head.

"Just...just help Willow, Mom," Buffy says. "And where is Cordelia? I thought somebody called her?"


Cordelia came to a decision a few seconds ago. She's a moron.

How could she never have realized just how hot Giles would be if he would wear something...different?

A cop saw Ripper kicking the punk's ass and swiping the coat, but he was a cop easily rendered unconscious. Thankfully, scary-Giles doesn't have quite enough issues to kill a cop.

But there is what could in polite circles be termed extremely heavy petting on the hood of a police car.

It's his voice, she thinks. He has the most amazing voice even normally, but right now when it's low and sandpapery and hard, the things he says make her feel like there's something wrong with her eyelids, like she can't keep her eyes open because there's this funny tension there.

It's never been like that with Xander, or anyone else for that matter. No eyelid-tension, and okay, so there's occasionally shortness of breath, but it's never actually felt like there was a lead weight on her diaphragm, something aching and pulling and making her struggle long and hard to breathe in.

But there is now. There is now, with Giles or Ripper or whoever he's going by whispering things to her about how many places and how many times and how many different ways they're going to be doing this.

She's not trashy. She's not trash, all cracks about her clothes to the contrary, she's a high-class, high-maintenance gal and damn proud of it. And this doesn't change that at all, because if it was anyone else trying to do this to her she would be kicking some serious ass. It's the voice. It's the voice telling her, promising her that at least once in her life she's going to be fucking a man.


"Huh," Willow says, frowning.

"What's wrong?" Joyce looks at the screen, then turns to Willow for an explanation. "I don't see the problem."

"It's wierd, this is the site for the Sunnydale packaging plant for the company, but...I can't find an address, or a phone number, or..."

Willow trails off, feeling a leg brushing against hers. She and Joyce recoil, stare at each other for a few moments, then turn back to the screen. "I mean, uh, uh, maybe you should go back to helping Oz and Xander, or, uh, maybe someone should look for Cordelia."

"Yeah," Joyce agrees, equally wierded. "Yeah, you know, I should...I should, um, you know, I think I need some water."

"Yes!" Willow exclaims. "Yes! Water fountain is, um, out the door and down the hall a little way, and, um..."

And then they kiss.

Just once, for a few seconds, and then pull away and Joyce jumps up, giggling uncomfortably, and Willow does the same thing, turning back to her computer as Joyce runs back into the stacks to help with the research.

Willow decides then that research is just the thing to take her mind off of this, and thus throws herself into the task at hand until, maybe six minutes later, she shouts "I found it! Buffy, I found the local packaging plant!" No time to print it, instead, she scribbles down the address and hands the paper to Buffy.

"Xander, Oz, you two stay here," she says. "Willow, Mom, you're with me. Let's go."


They're on the way to the plant when Buffy slams on the brakes for the second time this evening. For the second time this evening, Willow suddenly remembers every prayer she was ever taught.

"I found Giles," is all Buffy says, staring disgustedly out the windshield. Willow follows Buffy's gaze, which lands on her Watcher, who's wrapped around some brunette.

"See?" Joyce says pointedly. "I told you. Ripper left with the first little skank he could find."

"Oh my god..." Buffy says.

"That skank actually looks kinda like Cordelia," Willow muses.

"I think that's because that skank is Cordelia," Buffy says distractedly. "Wait, I mean...that's Cordelia!" The entire group stares at the pair, who have yet to notice the large SUV on the street ten feet away from them. "Guys, we've gotta get him away from her, if he really is..."

"Doesn't really look like she's in a lotta trouble," Joyce says with a mean smirk.

"Mom!" Buffy exclaims. "That's Cordelia!"

"So?" her mother asks petulantly. "She's still a skank."

Buffy, thankfully, misses the smirks Willow and Joyce exchange, as she's in the process of leaping out of the car. "Giles," she shouts, racing over to him and prying him away from Cordelia, "Giles, okay, uh, -- "

"Buffy!" Cordelia exclaims. "Yeah! Hey! Look at that, I was gonna go look for Buffy in the Bronze when I ran into you, and here she is, so I'm gonna go talk to her for just a second, and, uh...yeah, just hang on for a second," she says nervously, and Giles reluctantly releases her. Cordelia drags Buffy over to the car. "Okay, Buffy, you'd better be able to explain why your Watcher suddenly became really hot."

Buffy stares at Cordelia. 'I will not hit Cordelia,' she tells herself. 'Hitting Cordelia, as nice as it might feel, does no good.' "Cordelia, we don't know what's going on," she says. "To put it in words you can understand, all the adults in town are acting really wierd. My mom's in the car, she's been really scary, and...we figured out it's the candy, but that's all we know. Willow, Mom and I are on our way to the factory now, and Oz and Xander are -- "

"Christ, how long does it take to check up with each other?" Giles snaps, stalking over to them and wrapping his arm back around Cordelia's waist. Buffy stares at him briefly, then shakes her head.

"Giles, something is seriously wrong in Sunnydale, okay? We need your help on this."

"Sod off," Giles mutters, kissing Cordelia's temple.

"Hey," Cordelia says nervously, "uh, maybe we should help them out, y'know? I mean..."

"Hell no. I'm having a good time for the first time in years, and no way am I gonna let you little -- "

"Hold that thought," Buffy snaps. She heads for the car. "Mom, gimme the directions to this factory." Her mother hands her the slip of paper through the window, watching her curiously.

"Honey, should we -- "

"No," Buffy snaps. "You and Willow get back to the library and keep looking up curses. Cordelia, you can go with them if you want."

"Like hell she is," Giles growls, pulling Cordelia more tightly to him.

"You wanna fight me, Giles?" Buffy asks, in what feels like the first quiet voice she's used all evening. "You really wanna fight me?"

Giles glares at her for several moments, an intense glare, and then, with a superior smirk at Buffy, turns to Cordelia, and cups her chin in what almost looks like a tender manner. "'S your choice, love," he says quietly, stroking her hair.

Cordelia looks as startled as Buffy feels, and looks quickly at Buffy, who shrugs.

"I'm coming with you guys," she says firmly, and it sounds like she's talking to Buffy, but she's looking right at Giles.

"Good girl," he answers softly. "Be nice to have you along."

"And to that I can say only nyarghhh," Buffy shudders, gesturing the okay to leave to her mother.

"Please," Cordelia says certainly as they begin walking. "Like you two would last a second without my calming influence."

"Calming influence?" Giles repeats, laughing. "I don't know about Buffy, sweet thing, but your influence -- "

"That's it," Buffy says, stopping. She shoves the two of them apart. "You," she says to Giles, "are gonna walk on my right side. You," she tells Cordelia, "are gonna walk on my left side. Are we clear?"

Cordelia seems to come out of a stupor and shakes her head. "Oh. Yeah. Clear."

Giles says nothing, but lights up a cigarette and glares at Buffy some more.

"Where'd you get the coat, by the way?" Buffy asks, glancing at Cordelia. "It looks, um...evil."

"Oh, uh, yeah, well...hey, so where's this factory?"


"You wanna come ride shotgun?" Joyce asks, scootching over to the driver's seat.

Willow reaches down to unbuckle her seat belt, then stops and shakes her head fervently. "No," she says, "no, I'm okay."

"Oh," Joyce says. "Okay."

They drive back to the school in silence, and as they're hopping out of the car, Joyce from the driver's seat and Willow from the driver's side back door, they stare at each other for a few seconds. Both slam their doors shut at the same time, both jump, and, within seconds, they're kissing again, this time not so quick and nervous, to put it lightly.


Ripper and Buffy both tell her to wait for them at the front of the factory, so she does, albeit irritably. But, y'know, this really... um, this was a nice oufit, and most of it's still salvageable, but chocolate stains would probably just be the end of it. So she's pacing around to try to keep from thinking about things, and then she hears shouts, and someone comes running towards her. Without thinking, she kicks, and hears her foot connect with a kneecap.

The guy crumples, and she knows she's seen him somewhere before, and of course in other things Hellmouthy, and is trying to place him when Buffy and Giles catch up.

"Thanks, Cordy," Buffy says shortly, her attention still on the guy on the floor as she hauls him to his feet and throws him against a wall.

"Very nice," Ripper purrs, kissing that funny ear-jaw-throat place again and this time sucking slightly.

"Stop it," Buffy shouts, punching the guy once more just to make sure he won't put up any more of a fight, then dropping him. "Hello, Ethan," she says coolly.

Ethan. Okay, yeah, she knows that name. Ethan, Ethan, Ethan...

"Oh, is that hello?" he asks, and his voice is British too, and that's it. He was the guy she first heard the name Ripper from. She kicked him then, too. "I'd rather gotten the impression that you greeted people by beating the hell out of them."

"Well, that'd make life with some people a lot easier," Buffy says cheerfully, placing a foot on Ethan's throat to make sure he doesn't try anything. "So how about you tell us what you're doing in Sunnydale? I mean, this is pretty much a talk-or-bleed situation, so I would think the choice was obvious, but hey, wouldn't surprise me if you like that kinda thing, so..."

"Kick him," Ripper offers, arm back around Cordelia's waist.

Buffy turns around to say something, but notices the arm-waist contact, seems about to say something else, and finally just shakes her head and turns back to Ethan.

"I'd just like to point out," Ethan says, voice a little strained, possibly because of the boot on his throat, "that this wasn't my idea."

"Meaning?" Buffy prompts, pressing down just a little with her heel.

"Meaning," Ethan chokes out, "that it's not me you want. I'm subcontracting. For Trick. You want him. I'm just helping him collect a tribute...for a demon."

"He's lying," Ripper snaps. "Kick him."

"I don't think he is, shut up, and get your hands off of Cordelia," Buffy calls without looking back.

Ripper lets go of Cordelia for a second to storm forward. "You're my Slayer," he snarls, "kick him till his ribs -- "

"Giles!" Buffy shouts, turning to look at her Watcher. He stalks back to Cordelia and kisses her, hard, his hands sliding under her shirt and up her back. She's a lot less aware of what's being said between Buffy and Ethan for the moment, and catches his lower lip in her teeth, biting down gently. Ripper growls, and she shivers as one of his fingers traces along her spine.

"HEY!" someone shouts at them. They both look up, startled, to find a disgusted-looking Buffy and a smirking Ethan staring at them.

"I need you two to keep an eye on Ethan while I call Willow and tell her what I found out."

Ripper grins. "Night just keeps getting better," he says, pulling out the gun he stole from the cop. He turns off the safety, hands it to Cordelia, and as she trains the gun on Ethan, and Buffy, looking as assured as can be expected, walks off, Ripper kicks Ethan in the ribs.

"Giles!" Buffy shouts. "Not unless he tries to get away...or," she adds, "unless he gives any sign that he's got something else to share with us. Cordelia..." Buffy looks at her doubtfully. "You think you can keep an eye on Giles?"

Cordelia rolls her eyes. "Duh."

Buffy looks from them to Ethan, and finally runs off. "I won't be long," she promises.

Ethan resumes smirking as soon as Buffy's gone. "Well, doesn't look like all the Slayer's friends are having a bad time. Tell me, Ripper -- "

"Hey," she snaps at Ethan, "I've kicked you twice in our lives now, but they say the third time's the charm. Shut up or we'll find out if that's true or not."

"'Atta girl," Ripper snickers. "Honestly, man, Cordelia beat you up?"

"Hey!" she and Ethan protest at the same time. They glare at each other.

"I kick hard!" she says, as Ethan says "She didn't beat me up, just...startled me. Brought me down. Twice, now."

"Sure she did," Ripper sneers, kicking Ethan while he's down and kissing Cordelia's neck while she keeps the gun trained on Ethan. "Kick him again, baby. Hard," he adds, teeth closing gently on her earlobe for a second. She shivers, but her gun hand remains steady, despite Ethan's leering.

"Well done, Ripper," he mutters weakly. "You know you'll be fired and sued onto the street for that when the spell wears off, don't you?"

"Shut up," she and Ripper say at the same time, pulling back their legs as though to kick him. They look at each other, smirk, and look back at Ethan.

"I can so beat people up," Cordelia mutters. "I could beat you up right now if I wanted to."

"Sounds like fun," is all Ripper says.

"Oh, please do," Ethan adds.

"Maybe I don't want to," she says sotto voce to Ripper. "Maybe I like you whole," she adds, and pulls away after a brief kiss to glare at Ethan. "And I told you to shut up," she says in her normal voice. She kicks him, and he groans.

"See?" Ripper asks. "Wasn't that fun?"

"Yep," Cordelia said, smiling. "Hope I get a chance to do it again sometime."

"It's the only good thing about the fact that he keeps coming back here," Ripper agrees. They both smile cruelly at Ethan, who isn't smirking anymore, and who remains surprisingly quiet until Buffy comes back, looking grave.

"Come on," Buffy says, her voice hard, looking only at Cordelia and Ripper.

"What about Ethan?" Cordelia asks, gun still on Rayne.

"I...Giles, see if you can find something to tie him up with. There must be rope, or twine, or something around here."

He and Cordelia look at each other for a moment, and she nods at the coat, still draped over a crate. Ripper grabs it, goes through the pockets, and finally pulls out a pair of handcuffs.

Cordelia doesn't look at Buffy, but to aim, she's got no choice but to keep looking at Ethan, who's smirking again.


"Wait, you're saying this thing eats babies?" Cordelia asks, staring at Buffy in horror. Vaguely, she can hear Ripper talking to the desk nurse out front, but she focuses on Buffy now.

"Yeah," Buffy says quietly. "Pretty gruesome, huh? Ethan said that's why they did the teenager-regression thing. There's no way people in this town would let Trick get away with it, otherwise."

"When did Ethan say...oh. Never mind."

Buffy looks at her pointedly. "Cordelia..." she starts.

At that point, Ripper storms back in. "Says she never saw who took 'em."

"I know who took them," Buffy says grimly.

"Well, are we gonna do anything?" Cordelia demands.

"Yeah," Ripper adds. "Let's find the demon, and..."

"Kick its ass!" Cordelia finishes.

"Okay, that's scary," Buffy snaps. "And since neither of you was listening when Ethan was talking, let me clue you in. We don't know where Lurconis is. Trick could be headed anywhere in town with those babies. Hell, he might be going -- "

Ripper is frowning now, not scowling or leering or glaring but frowning, he's frowning and just for a moment, he's Giles. "Lurconis..." he muses. "'Lurconis dwells beneath the city,'" he recites. "'Filth to filth."

Buffy and Cordelia both stare at him. "What?" Buffy asks.

"I know this," Giles says, deep in thought, staring at Buffy. "Or... I knew this. 'Lurconis' means 'glutton', and we'll find it..." He trails off, thinking, then shrugs, and he's Ripper again. "In the sewers."

"Sewers?" Cordelia repeats, looking down mournfully at her outfit. "That's great. Giant demon, baby sacrifice, and I'll never be able to save this outfit now."

Buffy glares at her. "What?" Cordelia demands. "Giles is the one hopped up on curse-chocolate, not me."

"Yeah," Ripper grins, pulling Cordelia to him and kissing her deeply, "it wouldn't be half as fun otherwise."

"Look, you two!" Buffy finally shouts. "Those children are going to die unless you can see fit to keep your hands off of each other for more than three minutes at a time. Giles, I need you to at least try to be an adult. Cordelia, act your age., don't do that. Act his age," she says, nodding to Ripper.


The battle, she didn't see much of. Everyone mainly wanted her to get the kids to safety, and as she was neither Slayer nor badass, Cordelia was more than happy to do just that.

When it was over, when it was quiet again, Buffy hurried over to check on her and the kids. They were fine, of course, and she looked over to the small pool Ripper was crawling out of, soaked through.

Giles. The way he reacted when their eyes met told her that he was most definitely Giles again.

Which, of course, was good.


There's an emergency Scooby meeting Saturday evening, and Giles still refuses to meet her eyes.

"Hey," Buffy says to Willow while Xander and Giles are talking, "you wanna have movie night at my house after I patrol tonight?"

"What? No, I...your mom doesn't like me, I -- "

"Will, what are you talking about?" Buffy prompts, amused. "All I ever hear from Mom these days is how I should be more like Willow. My mom loves you."

"No she doesn't!" Willow says quickly, eyes wide. "N-no, no, she doesn't love me, no love."

"Actually," Oz says, and Willow jumps as he puts an arm around her shoulders, "Will and I were thinkin' we'd maybe hang out tonight."

"Sounds like our cue, Cordy," Xander says cheerfully, and Cordelia stiffens as his arm goes around her. "Wanna go do stuff?"

"Oh, you're a real smooth-talker, Xander," Cordelia snaps, rolling her eyes. "No wonder I had to fight off girls with a stick to get you to notice me, with lines like that."

"Or we could not do stuff," Xander adds, looking around to the rest of the group for help. "It's all good."

She rolls her eyes and sighs in exasperation. "Whatever. Let's just go."

The two of them leave, making their way out to the parking lot in silence, when Buffy calls from behind them "Cordelia! You, uh, you forgot something!"

"I'll get it," Xander says, clearly trying to get back on her good side.

"No, I've got it," Cordelia snaps. "Just go wait in the car," she says, handing him the keys. "Standard procedure, don't turn anything on, don't touch anything, don't use the keys for anything..."

"...except getting in," Xander says edgily. "Yeah, I know the drill, Cordy."

"Good," she says, turning and hurrying back inside, to where Buffy's waiting. "What is it, Buffy?" she asks, putting on her best 'I don't have time for this, be very grateful that I managed to squeeze you in' face.

"Cordelia," Buffy asks in a tone that suggests she's afraid to hear the answer, "I know you and Giles were pretty, um...buddy-buddy during that whole thing, didn't actually...he didn't... while he was Ripper, I mean, you two didn't -- "

"Ew, no," Cordelia exclaims, disgusted. "Color me unbelievably grossed out, Buffy! He was...he wasn't bad-looking as Ripper, but... he wasn't that hot!"

Buffy laughs lamely. "Of course. Yeah. It's just, you know...he seemed so afraid of you today, and -- "

"Maybe because he was groping me every chance he had," Cordelia answers, shuddering. "And the stuff he was saying? Ugh, if I didn't know you needed a Watcher and he was under a curse, I would've had his ass fired three minutes after I walked into school today."

"I think I get the picture, Cordelia," Buffy says quickly. "Very relieved. I gotta go. Have fun with Xander."

"Xander," Cordelia repeats as Buffy runs off. "Right. Xander."


She and Xander drive only as far as they need to to get a little privacy. At that point, they start to make out for awhile in her backseat, but all she can think of while he's fumbling around ('this doesn't even deserve to be called groping,' a mean little voice says in her head, and today it's got a British accent) is how Xander's body temperature doesn't feel different from anyone else's. He's just...sweatier.

"Oh, geez," she finally says, "I forgot, I was gonna go shopping today, with, um, yeah, I gotta go. I'm sorry, you need a ride somewhere, or -- "

And he's hurt, she can tell, and she really is sorry, but she really can't take it anymore. He refuses the offer of a ride, sulking, but she really doesn't need that, she already said she was sorry and if he wants to sulk, he can go ahead and sulk alone. 'Or better yet,' she snarks to herself as she drives back towards the school, 'he can go sulk with Willow, I'm sure she'll be more than happy to make Bambi eyes while he pouts.'

Buffy's not there, thank God, so she doesn't feel awkward about banging into the library (of course, when does she really show that she feels awkward, but this isn't really the same as every other time she's barged in while they're training) and then into Giles's office. He jumps at the noise, sees that it's her, and jumps again.

"Oh, uh -- Cordelia, I -- "

She kisses him. He smells nicer this time, but there's still the slightest taste of Ripper there as he begins to return the kiss, at which point she pulls away.

"Look," she says, straightening up, "Buffy will kill me if I get you fired, and anyway, everyone was acting really wiggy 'cuz of the candy or whatever. I get that. So what I want to know is...did you really want to kiss me?"

He looks up, startled, and then looks away from her. "I -- well, you have to understand, that was my -- my younger self, and the -- the voice of everything I usually try to, er, repress -- "

"Oh, so you repress the urge to kiss me? Thanks, Giles," she snaps, affronted, and then adds impatiently, "I didn't ask you to make excuses. I asked you if you really wanted do all that with me?"

He takes off his glasses, and as he's cleaning them, he glances at her for just the briefest moment. "I -- you're a very attractive young woman, Cordelia, and I -- all right, yes," he says finally at her glare, replacing his glasses and looking down again. "Yes," he admits, more quietly. "Everything I -- " pauses, takes a deep breath and finally continues, "everything I said I wanted to do with -- or, ah, to you, as the case may have been -- I meant it."

"Oh," she says. "Well, uh -- at least you're up front about it."

"Yes," he says with a bitter laugh, "I'm told that's one of my virtues."

"You even wanna do the part with the -- "



"Shut the fuck up."

He doesn't even look up from his book, and Cordelia stares at him for some time before turning on her heel and storming out.


She comes back about fifteen minutes later, having stormed only as far as her car.

Specifically, as far as her trunk, where the coat he stole for her and all the bags she needs for school are. It would've taken a lot less time, but what was she gonna do, leave her clothes in the bathroom? She'd had to take her street clothes out to the car, folded carefully, of course, place them gently in the trunk, pull the coat around her, and head back in.

When the library doors close behind her, Giles calls from his office "Buffy, you're quite early, the sun doesn't set for another -- "

"It's not Buffy," she calls back.

There's a long pause, and he finally comes out, clearly having prepared a speech on how they need to forget what happened and move on with their lives and that wasn't anyone's fault. But she'll never know, because he can get only as far as "Listen, Cordelia," before she pulls open the coat.

He stops, stares, and finally she pulls the coat off altogether and tosses it aside.

The two of them stare at each other, and finally she snaps "I seem to remember something about you fucking me so hard I wouldn't be able to walk for a week, Giles. Repressed or not, it's still a desire, isn't it?"

Giles stares at her for a second. Finally, he looks down gravely, taking off his glasses and rubbing his eyes.

The glasses get folded up and set aside, as does the jacket. "Indeed," Giles says.

Cordelia smirks.


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