Giles walked with a long, anxious stride. There was no purpose or direction to his wanderings. The ambulatory exercise was merely a way to blow off pent up energy. And he certainly had no shortage of that. Since leaving the house, the tension in his body had only multiplied until, shaking with dire frustration, he headed toward one of the local parks. There, taking to the jogging trails, he attempted to run himself into a state of near exhaustion.

Tackling the first likely jogging path, Giles followed the winding course through shaded wood and open meadow. It felt good to give his legs a stretch. For once he had the foresight to wear some proper footwear, and as his rubber-soled trainers crunched through a patch of gravel, Giles smiled, taking delight in the simple pleasure of a the breeze that teased at his hair. It was as if every part of his body was alive with a super awareness. The air, for once blissfully free of pollution, smelled of sweet flowers and newly mown grasses, and those areas of his flesh that were exposed rejoiced, basking in the sun’s soft warmth as he galloped along.

Breathing deeply, the transmuted Brit could almost feel the oxygen rushing from his lungs to his bloodstream, transferring its bounty out to every inch of his toned musculature. From head to toe his body rippled in a smooth, practiced cadence, drawing the appreciative stare of more that one passing female admirer as he jogged by. Up one trail and down the next he ran, from one end of the park to the other, and then back again, his feet pounding the earthen path, skipping over roots, fallen twigs and abandoned litter. He ran until his legs ached, and his lungs burned inside his chest. His hairless flesh glistened ripely with a sheen of perspiration, and yet he continued to push himself on, the infuriating pressure of his strange distemper building within him, growing stronger with every mile.

Eventually, Giles resigned himself to the fact that his attempted physical exorcism wasn’t working out any better than when he had fed his demonic hunger to appease it. Tired and thirsty, he exited the park, heading off in the direction of downtown. He realized that it probably wasn’t the wisest thing to do, but he needed some sort of solace to drown in, and a quick stop in at Willy’s Bar could at least satisfy one of his desires.

Willy’s wasn’t the type of place Giles normally would have chosen to go to. It was nothing like the pubs he frequented back in England. There a man could gather with friends and family, maybe have a bite to eat, or relax and listen to some local music while savoring a pint or two of “real” beer. Even in Sunnydale it was possible to find better appointed establishments. The town had no shortage of young “yuppiefied” clubs and neighborhood bars, as well as plenty of less upscale, seedier drinking holes. Willy’s, however, was one of the few places where a demon could openly mingle with the human race and not worry about undue attention, so it seemed a logical, if not completely palatable choice, given his recent species transformation.

Giles hesitated, lingering on the sidewalk just outside the bar’s entrance. He frowned, debating on whether or not it was such a wise idea to go inside. He was fairly sure that Buffy would take objection to his going in to have a drink, or any possible companionship he might seek out in such a place. She had always been very vocal in what she expected from him. He was “good old reliable” Giles. Stuffy and boring, wearer of tweed suits. A tea sipping Watcher and man of character. Someone she could depend upon.

Trouble was, that wasn’t the real him, the true Rupert Giles. He worked hard to project that stereotypical image, to play the part of the “clueless” old man, but there was so much more going on inside him. A checkered streak of insolence from his youth, years of repressed hostility toward himself, of disappointment because he couldn’t live up to his father’s image of “a perfect Watcher candidate”, it all continued to niggle constantly away at his id, encouraging him to let loose and do what he wanted, and not what was expected of him. And while keeping his rebellious nature tightly in check had eventually led The Watcher’s Council to reward him with his very own slayer, there were times when he felt overwhelmed by the effort to rein in the wilder side of his personality, the “Ripper” within. Not that he was afflicted with a psychological disorder, mind you. He wasn’t stark raving bonkers, or certifiably schizophrenic. He didn’t hear voices. It was simply a matter of controlling his baser impulses, the same thing that every other decent and civilized human being did in the course of a normal day.

In other words, he, Rupert Giles, was only human, and as such, he was subject to the same shortcomings and frailties as any other person. Unfortunately, alcohol proved a particularly troublesome vice. For the most part, he tried to keep his consumption of spirits confined to appropriate amounts and times. Well, he thought sheepishly, there had been the odd occasion or two, perhaps three, where he’d gone a bit beyond reasonable limitations and had one over the eight, but there had been extenuating circumstances involved, and damn it, a man required some source of solace to help him survive the emotional pitfalls! Seven years away from England had taken their tole on his personal life. While not exactly a hermit, his circle of acquaintances was appallingly small, and his close friends fewer in number. The only people he truly cared about these days were here in Sunnydale, but they were all so much younger, and their interests so different from his own that he often felt disconnected. Worse yet was the possibility that they merely tolerated his presence out of pity and necessity, a fact that often haunted Giles during those nights when he sat researching alone while everyone else was off having a good time.

The door to Willy’s bar swung open before him, startling Giles out of his introspective reverie. A tall Shenku demon with mottled green skin and massive muscles stumbled out onto the sidewalk. Incongruously dressed in faded jeans and a T-shirt that proclaimed anyone able to read the printed front was standing too close to its wearer, the beast sported a closely shorn head with three stubby horns, and a baseball hat emblazoned with the logo of the Cleveland Indians.

Giles swiftly jumped aside as the steroid-bulked creature bulldozed his way past. A distinctly yeasty scent clung to the beast’s clothing and hung like a stale afterthought on its rancid breath. The smell of beer triggered a loud growl from the Watcher’s belly, and the Shenku stopped, baring several rows of pointed teeth in challenge.

“You wanna say som’thin’?” the demon slurred, his blood-shot eyes glaring ominously at the Brit. His unsteady mass swayed forward as he raised a pudgy fist, and threatened the ex-librarian’s nose with brutalization. “Just go ahead and try it. I dare you!”

“Please, don’t mind him,” came a suave, quiet voice from behind the mountainous Shenku.

Peering into the darkened entrance, Giles saw two more demons exiting the bar. One creature was a shorter version of the inebriated Shenku, right down to the T-shirt and a twin copy of the baseball cap. The other demon was a species with which Giles had less familiarity. Slim and willowy in build, the humanoid creature had dazzling amber colored eyes with slitted pupils, much like a house cat. A fine, silken coat of fur covered what flesh was visible, while an expensive tailored suit served to outfit the rest of him.

“I would like to apologize on my friend’s behalf,” the catman said, his grin charming and distractedly human. “He’s had a little too much celebrating today. You see, this morning his wife presented him with a baby boy.”

Giles tipped his head politely toward the aggressive Shenku. “Congratulations.”

“Uh, thanks,” the creature mumbled, his anger suddenly deflated. Releasing a wet, extended belch, the Shenku turned to his smaller twin companion. “Hey! I think there might be a leg or two left in the fridge. Wanna stop over for a bite?”

“Sure! Why not?” the other Shenku amiably shrugged.

Linking arms, the two demons staggered off down the sidewalk together, weaving their way toward a lone sedan parked curbside on the street.

“You’ll have to excuse me,” the catman purred graciously as he winked at the gaping Englishman. “But I’m the designated driver. It’s been a pleasure meeting you. Toodle-ooo!”

He ran off after his two companions, and after carefully supervising their installment into the backseat of his vehicle, the catman hopped in the front behind the steering wheel. The car’s engine sprang to life with a grinding of gears, then pulled away, speeding off into traffic as its driver waved a cheery good-bye to the Brit.

Shaking his head in disconcertion, Giles turned and walked into Willy’s. As the door swung shut on his heels, he was immediately assailed by the sheer contrast of the bar’s interior to the day outside. Where the sidewalk had been bathed in cheery sunshine, the atmosphere inside Willy’s was dark and cave-like, an ambiance that Giles had to admit much better suited the questionable clientele. As his eyes gradually adjusted to the dim lighting, Giles unconsciously patted his jacket pocket, assuring himself that his glasses were there should he need them. Satisfied, he headed toward the long bar that dominated the decor of the main room, and staking out a place near the cash register, he ordered a whiskey and beer from the weasely little bartender behind the counter.

Willy, or Willy the Snitch as he would have been known to his good friends, had he actually had any, scurried off to get the Brit his drinks. If he had any questions or misgivings about the Giles’ presence in his bar, he wisely kept them to himself. It wouldn’t do to scare away paying customers by making a fuss over one Watcher. Now, if it were the slayer, that would be different. Besides, Giles had been there the night before, and nothing had happened. And he had dropped quite a bit of cash, too. So, who was he to complain about another man’s business? Just so long as it didn’t interfere with his own, of course.

Plunking the Englishman’s order down in front of him, Willy slithered off once again, hurrying away to tend to another customer. Giles sighed. Leaning against the slightly sticky counter, he raised his beer to his lips, and downed his first foamy swallow of the amber liquid. A momentary scowl of disapproval crossed his features. The beer was obviously a cheaper, inferior brand, but he was parched from his run, so he shrugged, and downed the cool liquid, his sensitive taste buds reveling in the bittersweet mix of undertones that washed over his tongue as he quenched his thirst.

He drained his beer in one long, unending series of gulps. Then, setting the empty glass on the bar, he took up his whiskey, and tossed it down in a single shot. The fiery liquid burned his throat, and warmed the cold beer already in his belly. Within minutes he could feel a glowing happiness spreading throughout his body, and grunting contentedly, he ordered himself up a second round.

While he waited for his drinks, Giles turned to survey the room. His friend Phyllidia was nowhere to be seen, a fact that he greeted with more disappointment than he cared to admit. Truth be told, the woman’s skills at scintillating conversation had nothing to do with his eagerness to meet with her again. The companionship he sought out was one of mutual physical stimulation, not mental, something she had been as equally adept at providing over the course of their evening together.

Fortunately, there were a number of other females present in the bar at that moment. Of course, most were demons, as were a good many other patrons at Willy’s bar. Giles’ easily identified at least a dozen different species, plus several he didn’t recognize. At the opposite end of the bar a pair of Ballybogs laughed at some comment made by another demon, a scaly skinned blue fellow wearing what looked like a very obvious toupe. Next to them stood a young, attractive, raven-haired woman that, judging by the blood-like liquid in the wine glass before her, Giles guessed to be a vampire. She was chatting up a slightly older looking man, the only human besides Willy that Giles noticed at the bar.

There were other demons and humans scattered about the room. For the most part the two groups seemed to naturally segregate themselves, with the odd humanoid creature intermingling here and there. If one were to ignore the peculiar preponderance of horns, various body protrubances, oddly hued skin tones, and the occasional tail peeking out from behind a patron, the bar’s customers looked quite as one would expect to find hiding out in a tired, sleazy establishment on a weekday afternoon.

A lilting giggle drew Giles’ attention to a booth in one corner. He squinted, seeking out the owner’s face in the shadows. She was a beautiful thing, a voluptuous marriage of curves and ripe swelling breasts, all impossibly crammed into the most audaciously tight little red dress he had ever had the privilege to lay eyes upon. There was a faint, bluish tinge to her complexion, and as she turned her head away to talk to someone sharing the booth with her, she flashed a view of some freckle like markings that ran across her strapless shoulders and up the back of her swan-like neck.

The demon woman threw back her head, and a symphony of tinkling sounds erupted from her throat. She was laughing at something her unseen companion was saying. Giles’ heart leaped, his body instantly responding to the delicate musical tones. He was encouraged to note that the demon’s table mate was another female of the same species, and she was every bit as lovely as her friend, and dressed just as provocatively in a simple form-fitting white sheath.

Abandoning all thoughts of propriety or shyness, Giles gathered up his beer and whiskey, and sauntered confidently across the room toward the corner booth. The demon in the red dress looked up as he approached, and boldly met his eyes with her own. She smiled and flirtatiously flicked back her long hair, which was the color of a silvery moonbeam.

“Hello!” Giles gave the woman his most charming grin. She giggled, her glance running up and down his torso with unhidden admiration. “Might I buy you ladies a drink?”

The demon in the red dress turned to her companion. There was a moment of humming between them as they communicated, and then the one in the white dress gave a nod, and an inviting smile of approval. Another twitter of laughter was followed by a delectable shifting of flesh as the two girls moved over and made room for Giles.

“Why, thank you,” the Brit said, squeezing into the proffered space. He placed his drinks on the table, and gesturing to the bartender, ordered his companions a refill on their refreshments. Leaning forward, Giles’ eyes burned hot and hard as they slid from one female to the other. Though they wore their hair differently, the one long and straight, the other bobbed short and sassy, the two demons were otherwise a near carbon copy of each other, right down to the peculiar sprinkling of freckles on their shoulders.

“I take it that you two are sisters?” he queried as he raised a curious eyebrow at the pair.

The girls giggled in reply, batting their eyelashes as they postured suggestively. Suddenly, one of the demons loosed a trilling barrage of musical notes at him. It was obviously some type of language, but try as he might, Giles couldn’t make heads nor tails of any word that the woman said. But it didn’t matter. She was making her message quite clear as she leaned in and presented him with an uninterrupted view down the front of her dress.

Giles leered, his pulse quickening in appreciation as the girl in the red dress sidled closer. Boldly, he stroked a finger up her forearm, tracing his way across the smooth, delicate flesh toward her spotted mantle. He was rewarded with a sultry hum as she melted against his side, and snuggled her nose into his shoulder.

Drawing his breath in sharply, Giles felt an undeniable heat begin to grow within his loins. He growled, his eyes glinting with need as, beneath the table, an exploring hand caressed the inside of his thigh.

The girl in the white dress shot him an impish smile, leaving no doubt as to just who it was that had decided to better acquaint herself with his anatomy. Giles shot back a piercing glare, and groaned as a heated rush of hormones assailed his body. Leaning forward, he found himself greeted halfway across the table by an eager pair of lips, and an equally curious tongue, both of which he made good use before finally tearing himself away to catch his breath.

“Aren’t we the frisky one,” the Brit purred. In answer, the groping fingers beneath the table grew bolder, climbing steadily northward until they encountered his groin. There they lingered, gently stroking, encouraging his lust until, with a lecherous grumble, Giles reached over to pull the sassy demoness into another tongue dueling kiss.

Instead of inciting jealousy, the neglected female began to nuzzle at Giles’ neck, reminding him that she was still there. Any shred of self-discipline the Watcher possessed quickly dissolved as he gave himself up, surrendering to the lust that roiled in his veins. Buffy’s sweet kiss soon became a distant memory, and Giles groaned, shuddering as the last stages of his demon transformation finally took hold. He was no longer Giles, the Watcher. Nor was he Giles, the man. Deep within him, a new beast had awakened, and it cried out, hungering for the taste of moist lips and warm, willing flesh.

“Well, dearies,” the Brit rumbled, his breath lightly ragged. Sitting back, he lifted his beer, his eyes twinkling with a rakish gleam as he took in the two female demons. “Since its obvious that we’re all well on our way to becoming such good friends, perhaps it’s time we introduced ourselves. My name’s Ripper.”

The stunning creature in the white dress giggled in reply. Licking her tongue suggestively over her lips, she wriggled up onto Giles’ lap, her one arm anchoring possessively around his shoulder. Her companion immediately took advantage of the seat her sister had vacated, and sliding over, warbled a scale of soft musical notes into the Watcher’s ear as her hand gently squeezed his groin.

“You’re so right,” Giles leered as the precocious duo proceeded to kiss him senseless as they engaged in a game of rousing foreplay from both fronts. “To hell with introductions. This is a much better way to get to know someone.”

From his vantage point behind the bar, Willie the Snitch stared at the threesome frolicking openly across the room, his eyes following the bawdy scene with voyeuristic interest. The Trillyaad Sisters had quite the reputation among his other patrons. If past experience and gossip proved true, the lucky Watcher was looking at the night of his life.

With an envious sigh, Willy wiped the rag in his hand over the tacky surface of the counter top before him. While he enjoyed a free show as much as the next man, there were customers to serve, and money to be made. Plastering on his best selling smile, he turned and greeted the pair of hairy Yaksas demons seating themselves at the bar.

“So, what can I get you folks tonight?”

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