Notes: Mutant Enemy is in charge, I make nothing. Written for no_absolutes for the Giles-a-thon. Requests were Andrew, magic, banter. Title from Robyn Hitchcock's song As Lemons Chop. Thanks to Tigs, Mosca, Katie, Dine and Mare.


"Do you think every person has some innate, like, inherent mystical ability and it varies between people? Cause Warren could never even float a pencil but Jonathan could do all those things with his magic bone and stuff."

Giles rubs his forehead and says, "There used to be a fair amount of research on that very topic by the Watcher's Council, which is all, of course, lost now." He blows on his tea to cool it and listens to the neighbors outside getting into their cars, saying goodbye as they leave for work.

Andrew does a little bounce and slides down in the other chair at the breakfast table. "Really? Cool. We could do that. Recreate the research, push it to the next level, be like Indiana Jones in his more academic guise."

Giles sips his tea. "Certainly."

Of the many things that have gone wrong with Giles's second retirement, the most glaringly wrong and possibly apocalyptic is cheerfully sitting across from him, drinking tea noisily from a Babylon5 commemorative mug. His plan after deciding not to run the New Council anymore was to pass off his duties and find a flat in Reading. It seemed rather ideal, even bucolic, doing research for far-flung Watchers and Slayers and in between compiling a fine library to rival the old Council's. It *was* an excellent plan, he's still rather sure than that.

Andrew says, "Could we start on it today? I know I've got that translation thing and you've got that corpse-a-gram, that's really cool, too, but, you know, independent research. We could enlist test subjects and pay them money and advertise --"

"Let's not get ahead of ourselves, Andrew."

Giles should have an assistant, they said. Everyone said Giles would need to have someone to help him, to assist in research. He was initially flattered until it occurred to them they thought he needed someone because he was senile. He has yet to figure out if Andrew getting the job was a compliment or a sign of their desire to wish him into an even earlier grave.

He knows he never should have agreed to have the boy live with him.

They clean up from their breakfast and Giles goes to his study to work on the odd symbols the Slayer in Peace River Flats, Canada, found carved on a body floating in Great Slave Lake. "Fascinating names," he mutters and begins his search. Primarily rounded letters, no dots or breaks, emphatically not human. It takes two hours to narrow it down to G'swuribish and another thirty minutes to realize that Andrew has the G'swuribish/Geshundi dictionary he needs.

Which requires a trip to Andrew's study. Giles always knocks before entering as at some point he will certainly walk in on Andrew masturbating and the longer he can put off the inevitable, the better. The far far better.

Lucky for him this time Andrew is reading a garish graphic novel and a lengthy text in Geshundi, apparently simultaneously. "Andrew, I need that Geshundi/G'swuribish dictionary." He decides to omit adding that he prefers that Andrew not wander into his study and simply take books. One would think that saying it every day during the first two months they lived together would be sufficient.

"G'swuribish? Who uses G'swuribish anymore?" Andrew jumps up and moves the Geshundi book over his graphic novel. He grabs a battered black book from a pile on the floor next to his bookcase of action figures. "I never quite got G'swuribish, you know? All the words just mean kill or die or mutilate or sometimes mulch. I wonder how they said 'don't forget a pint of milk on the way home?'" Andrew giggles. "Maybe it's mulch mulch die mulch!" He hands over the book and says, "Do you need any help? I'd be happy to help, it would be really cool."

"No, I'm fine. A Slayer in Canada found it carved on a body floating in a lake. Carved by mystical means, I would suspect, as it remained clear in the flesh even after extensive decomposition."

"Gross." Andrew looks up at the ceiling. "I can't think of any demon summoning rituals that use G'swuribish but maybe that's because I could never really get all those glottal stops. Glottal stops kinda suck. It could be, like, a way to send a message. It'd be really funny if it were just someone saying, hey, don't forget that milk! Wouldn't it?"

"Yes, very amusing." Giles takes the book back to his study where there are, thankfully, no large posters of science fiction television stars with dubious orientation staring down at him.

Andrew is, per usual, right about G'swuribish's primary words being variations of death, kill and mulch. The boy is quite skilled with demon languages and summoning, and he is an able assistant, Giles must admit. He even turns out to be right about the words on the body being a message, though it has nothing to do with milk and everything to do with a summoning taking place somewhere north of Yellowknife.

Over dinner, Giles says, "Quite inventive, if you think about it, to use a language with so few words and still convey a location and event."

Andrew nods and slurps his soup. "But not to do with milk?"

"Sadly, no. But you were correct about the message part. Are we low on milk?"

"Nope. I make sure of that, Mr. Giles. I like it in my tea. And my cereal." Andrew finally stops slurping his soup as he's drained the bowl dry. "Hey, I thought, like, maybe we could start on that magic research by you teaching me magic. I already know a little, for the demon summoning. And it would be like research, how far I can go compared to you."

"I'm hardly a gifted practitioner like Willow."

"But, like, me compared to you compared to Willow compared to, like, some loser we find with no aptitude at all. A total squib, like Warren."

Giles sighs. "Perhaps we can avoid using terms from Harry Potter when we conduct research. Any research. It does tend to make one appear childish." He curses the day he even knew where the term came from.

Andrew looks down, chastened. A sadly typical look after their interactions. Giles takes a deep breath and says, "But it's a good idea. Can't hurt for either of us to be more proficient in magic and training you will undoubtedly sharpen my skills. Though I doubt it would be useful for any study."

Andrew perks up, of course. At some point Giles needs to talk to the boy about his easily bruised self-esteem. Andrew says, "Excellent. That's totally cool. Can we start tomorrow? I was looking at some books today, in between that Geshundi thing and some other reading, and there was this 15th century Persian guy who theorized that the best way to teach magic was start with infants which, well, we're way too late for that with me, but he's got a whole plan with levels and rituals and rewards of fine victuals."

"I believe I read that as well. Doesn't his program include ritual circumcision of males and females at age ten? We might skip that."

"Oh, I'm already circumcised."

"That's exactly the last thing I needed to know." Giles puts his dishes in the sink and starts to wash up. "Are you going to make oatmeal again for breakfast tomorrow? That was quite good this morning."

"Yeah, I substituted cream for milk and then added the stuff from the packet and then added, um, chocolate, raisins, cinnamon and a little vanilla extract. Pretty much everything tastes better with vanilla extract, I think. Don't you?"

"Absolutely," Giles says. Andrew is suddenly at his side with a dishrag.

"This is working out really well, right? Cause I figured it would." Andrew grins and dries a cereal bowl.

"You figured?"

"Yup. Everyone was all, Mr. Giles doesn't need an assistant, Mr. Giles will be fine, he's not senile or anything and I said, of course he's not senile but he needs someone to bounce ideas off of and someone to make sure he's okay if he gets knocked on the head -- Xander said you get knocked on the head a lot, sorry -- and plus, you're the smartest person I know and you let me be a Watcher despite my flirtation with the Dark Side," Andrew glances up at Giles like he expects to contradicted or affirmed, but then says, "which worked really well on my plan of redemption. Along with all the training after Sunnydale so I knew we worked well together. So clearly I was the perfect assistant for you. And now it's working really well. Right?"

Giles turns off the water and stares at Andrew. "So you basically bothered everyone into making sure I had an assistant and that that assistant was you?"

"Was that bad?"

Giles steps away from the sink and sits back down at the table. "I suppose not," he says. "I should like to point out I haven't been knocked on the head once in the last six months."

"Well, if it happens again, and frankly, I think we both know it will, I'll be right here."

"Also," Giles says, "You don't have to call me Mr. Giles."

"Can I call you Rupert? I do call you that sometimes, when you're not around."

"No, and stop that, but Giles is sufficient."

Things always do go wrong but Giles thinks today that doesn't necessarily mean they've gone badly.


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