It had taken Rupert Giles almost ten minutes to drive from his semi-detached to his recently purchased shop on the other side of town.
The alarm company had called him, alerting that the alarm had gone off in his store that didn't have any anything in it but a working bathroom.
He had told them that he could handle it but there was a police car waiting outside for him anyway.
They entered the shop and a quick look around proved that there was no one around. Then there was a crash from the basement.
The officer and Giles exchanged wary looks before the officer pulled his weapon and headed to the basement.
They were surprised to find that the basement looked as though someone had set up a living space.
A whimper from behind them caused them to spin around.
The figure huddled into the boxes.
'It's okay,' Giles stated as he stood in front of the officer, 'he's a friend.'
The officer gave him a doubtful look but holstered his weapon and headed out without a word.
'Xander?' Giles said softly as he crouched down next to the shivering figure.
'No! Don't touch!' Xander half shouted half pleaded as he scrambled away from the older man.
Giles realized that his clothing was in an even worse state than it normally was. Torn and bloody, it looked as though he had been in a fight.
'Xander, what happened?' he asked, not moving from his crouch.
'Giles, need Giles,' the young man replied.
The older man blinked in confusion, 'I'm here, child,' he said softly, though the young man he was trying to help was no longer a child.
Xander's head shot up and he stared at Giles for a moment before launching himself at the startled older man.
They tumbled back and landed in a heap, Xander's face buried in Giles' neck. It took a moment for Giles to register the tears that dampened his flesh. He shifted himself and the boy and got them to lean against the wall, and he just let the boy cry himself out.
Even as the sobs quieted Giles continued to rub Xander's back, and it took a pained whimper from Xander for Giles to realize that the boys muscles were shifting, changing.
'Oh dear lord, what have they done to you?' he asked softly, even though he had no idea who "they" were.
Xander shuddered and then gave a howl of pain before shrinking. Through it all Giles never let go of the frightened young man.
Giles breathed a sigh of relief as the trembling slowed and the sobbing tapered off to hitched breathing.
The young man in his arms started to struggle.
'I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry,' he whispered as he tried to pull away from the man that was holding him.
'Hush, child,' Giles said softly as he kept a hold of the boy, because that's what Xander was now, just a boy and going by feel and size, Giles guessed to be about 4.
After holding the boy for a few minutes to reassure the boy that he meant no harm he pulled the child away from him, just enough to take a look at this new Xander, so he could see Giles. To know that he didn't have to fear him.
Giles ran a hand through those tussled locks and cupped the boy's cheek, causing him to lean into Giles' touch.
'You have nothing to apologize for child,' he offered with what he hoped was a friendly smile.
Xander gazed a Giles with huge brown eyes, 'Giles?' he asked in wonder and embarrassment.
Giles couldn't help the small smile of amusement to hide his confusion. Not two seconds ago he had been a scared 4 year old, now he remembered Giles? Something definitely wasn't right.
'What happened? Why are you here? How did you find me? This stores been boarded up for ages and the girls don't know about it? Why do I sound like I inhaled helium again? Why are you so big, and why do I have to pee so badly? Daddy please I gots to go,' he pleaded, holding himself and doing a mighty fine pee dance.
Giles stared at the boy in surprise, this was going to be interesting. He hoisted the boy into his arms and carried him upstairs to the bathroom.
'Do you need help?' he asked setting the boy on the floor.
'I practically potty trained myself, G, I can pee on my own,' Xander replied as he went to do his business, trying his best to hide his blush, he hadn't meant to tell the older man that. Giles turned at listened for the toilet to flush and then the water to turn on.
'I can't reached the water, Daddy?' a small voice came from behind him. Giles was going to get whiplash or something with the way that Xander went from adult to child so often and so quickly. He hoisted the boy up by his arm pits and let him wash his hands. He set the child on the counter and dried his hands for him.
Xander blushed but thanked him.
'When was the last time you ate?' Giles asked and remembered the look of the basement. There had been a bed roll, a cooler, a large bag of clothing and a box.
Xander blushed and looked down, 'I had something this morning.'
It was almost 7, Giles sighed, he hadn't eaten anything yet either, 'we should get you something to eat, then to bed, I think.'
'But I'm not tired,' Xander insisted, punctuating it with a giant yawn.
'I believe that,' Giles offered as he lifted the boy into his arms.
'You don't have to carry me, or feed me,' Xander insisted as he struggled against Giles, wanting to put down, he was a big boy now.
'Xander, you are all of four, let me take care of you,' Giles insisted.
'I'm five,' Xander pouted, sticking a hand with all finger extended in Giles' face.
'Okay, you're all of five, let me take care of you,' he replied.
'Why? They didn't.' He stated before he clamped a hand over his mouth his eyes wide in horror. 'I didn't mean that, I just...' Xander's eyes began to tear up in frustration.
Giles ran a soothing hand over Xander's back and the boy settled into the older man, 'I am not them and I will do whatever I can to keep you safe,' he swore to the little boy/young man in his arms.
'Daddy?' Xander asked softly. Giles had no idea if this pleading, scared, hopeful little boy was the adult version of himself or the child version.
He placed a soft kiss to Xander's forehead, 'yes, child, I'm your father.'
'Love you,' the boy replied, sleepily as he nestled into Giles' warmth.
Giles blinked back his own tears, he had long ago thought himself a father to his children, but to have it returned, it was something he hadn't ever expected. 'Let's go home,' he said, his voice a little husky, as he headed for the door.
'Wait!' Suddenly the boy began to struggle in his arms again, 'lemme go,' he squirmed in Giles' arms until he was forced to set the boy down. Xander darted for the stairs.
'Xander, wait,' he called as he rushed after the surprisingly quick and agile child. He was surprised to find Xander hurrying down the stairs one at a time as he clung to the banister.
He met Xander half way down and scooped him up. 'What are you doing child?' he asked turning back up the stairs.
'No,' Xander wailed, 'want Kirk!'
'Who or what is Kirk?' Giles asked bewildered.
'Box!' Xander pointed.
Giles gave a sigh and headed for the box, as soon as he'd pulled it open, Xander practically dove in. It only took a moment but he gave a triumphant cry and came out clutching a black and purple bear.
Xander gave a deep yawn and with a firm grip on Kirk, he settled against Giles and was asleep before the older man was out of the shop.
On his way home he stopped at restaurant and carefully lifted the boy from the car, making a mental note to go shopping tomorrow for clothing and toys and a car seat.
'Not hungry,' Xander stated. It seemed that the more relaxed Xander was the more childlike he was.
'I know sweet child, but you should eat something. You've had a long day and you really need to, please, for me, you can have anything you want,' Giles crooned softly.
The girl behind the counter watched them with a look of doe-eyed fondness.
The little boy nodded, and turned his head to look at the pictures, he simply pointed to one of the boards. Giles followed the finger.
'The nuggets?' he asked, trying to get his boy to say something, it wasn't like Xander to ever be this quiet and it unsettled Giles a little.
He felt the head nod against his shoulder, 'I'll take one of those, with a small three,' he didn't want to spoil the surprise, 'and I'll have the chicken burger with a salad,' he finished.
She punched up their order and someone in the back began to make it.
Ten minutes later Xander was happily munching on his nuggets from Giles' lap as the older man ate his own late dinner. It seemed actually having the food perked Xander up much more than the prospect of food.
The pair finished up, Xander had eaten with surprising neatness, and Giles headed back to the counter, he had asked them to hold dessert until they had finished with their food. She presented the pair, namely the little boy, with the frozen treat and Xander's eyes widen in surprise as they turned to Giles.
'It's okay, I ordered it for you,' Giles replied, helping Xander lean forward to accept it.
It was a simple ice cream with chocolate sauce but Xander was rarely given treats, hell, he had rarely gone out with his parents for dinner.
Giles helped Xander eat his ice cream, and settled him in the back seat.
In the five minutes it took for Giles to get back to his place, Xander had fallen asleep.
Giles carried the sleeping boy into the house and carefully undressed him, before dressing him in the smallest t-shirt he owned. After settling the boy in bed he went to take a quick shower before settling next to the boy with a book.
Giles was jerked from his sleep by a horrified shriek.
It took him a moment to orient himself. He'd fallen asleep reading, the book had fallen to the floor and his glasses were askew.
He was kicked in the ribs by a small foot and he found Xander thrashing around, whimpering.
'Xander,' he said gently, shaking him. 'Child,' he tried a little louder.
Xander woke with a scream, lashing out at Giles. The older man grabbed Xander and held him tightly, talking calmly to him. It only took a minute for Xander to calm.
'G?' he asked, softly.
'I'm here, child,' Giles replied.
'Daddy,' the boy whimpered before sobbing into Giles. He held the boy as he cried into the older man and eventually the boy fell asleep in his arms.
Giles sighed and held his boy, wondering what he had been dreaming about, because lord new the boy had seen enough to give grown men nightmares.
It took almost an hour to convince Xander that taking a bath was a good thing, but he was either embarrassed that he need help to bathe or he was just being a petulant 5 year old who thought that baths were evil.
Finally he was clean and dressed in clean clothes. Giles had no idea how Xander had been "de-aged" and he really didn't want to think about how his clothing had shrunk.
'Time to go child,' Giles hoisted the boy into his arms and headed out.
'Where are we going?' Xander asked, looking around.
'We are going to do some shopping,' he replied, settling Xander into the back seat. He knew he needed a child safety seat and that was first on his list, he just needed to get to the mall.
'Why?' Xander asked.
'Because you need some clothing,' Giles replied, settling Kirk next to the boy.
'No, I can wait, Jesse's mom is getting some stuff from one of his cousin's, he said that I can have some of those,' he stated hastily.
Giles stopped the car, 'You only have a few things, my child,' he replied as he looked at the boy.
Xander blushed and looked away, 'sorry G, I just... I don't... no one's ever...' he stuttered.
Giles unbuckled his belt and turned to face the boy, 'Xander,' he said softly but sternly, 'I will buy you whatever you need, within reason of course, and you will not be paying me back when and if we figure this out.'
Xander's expressive eyes teared up, 'Giles, please,' neither one of them knew what he was asking for, but Giles cupped his cheek.
'I'm here child,' he said softly.
'Daddy,' he whimpered, as he struggled with the belt and wanting to get to Giles.
'Hush, child,' he said as he undid his boy's belt and pulled him into his lap.
'I'm sorry,' Xander said softly.
'Don't apologize,' Giles soothed.
'So shopping?' the boy asked giving Giles a grin.
Giles laughed softly, 'in the back with you,' Giles said helping the boy scramble back and buckle up.
Xander chattered all the way to the mall and let Giles carry him, and Giles wondered just how much affection the boy had been shown in his younger years.
Giles let Xander pick out some clothing and he picked up a few more things that a five year old wouldn't get and then let the five year old loose in the toy department.
'I'm ready Daddy,' Xander announced as he returned with a fantasy kit with dragons, knights and castles.
'Is that all you want?' Giles asked, he knew that Xander had looked at about a dozen things, but he'd only come back with the one.
'Giles?' he spun around to find Tara and Willow staring at him.
'Ladies,' he greeted them, allowing them to hug him.
'Daddy?' Xander asked pulling on Giles' pant leg.
'Giles, I didn't know you had a -?' Tara started only to be interrupted by Willow.
'Xander!' the redhead exclaimed.
'Mum?' a small voice came from behind Tara.
'Billy,' Tara scooped the young blond into his arms.
'Good lord, is that Spike?' he whispered the name, though the boy heard him anyway but didn't say anything.
The bleached hair looked odd on the five year old.
'I know,' Willow grinned.
'Does Buffy know?' Giles asked, absently picking up Xander.
Willow shook her head, 'No, we found him on the way home from group last night and haven't called her, or told her,' she replied.
'Look what my Daddy's buying me,' Xander said holding out the kit to Spike.
'You like dragons?' he asked shyly,
'Yes!' the boy blurted as he squirmed to get down, 'there's a giant stuffed toy that you have to see!' he shoved the kit into Giles' hands and tugged on Spike's foot.
The blond began to squirm and Tara set him down, 'Spike?' Xander asked in surprise.
The blonde shook his head, 'I'm Billy,' he insisted.
Xander shook his head, 'I'm Xander,' he replied, almost as though he hadn't just become a twenty year old in the body of a five year old. The two boys ran off after they got the okay from their respective parent.
'Does Billy have moments where he's like he was before he was a five year old?' Giles blurted out.
Willow and Tara glanced at each other, 'no, we found him, it was like he was having a seizure and he shrank in front of us.'
Giles nodded, 'That's what happened to Xander,' he sighed, 'he has moments, nightmares and such. I didn't realize it was so bad.'
'What was bad?' Willow asked, keeping an eye on the two boys.
Giles stared at Willow for a moment, 'his home life,' he replied carefully.
'What about it, his parents weren't very attentive, there wasn't much else,' Willow offered.
'Not very attentive?' Giles began, about to go on an indignant rant on Xander's behalf.
'When they weren't ignoring him they were belittling him and when they weren't doing that they were fighting with each other or blaming him. If he wasn't bruised from patrolling he was bruised because his father is an asshole,' Tara blurted.
Willow turned to Tara in shock, 'how do you know? You weren't there for any of it, besides he's my friend, not yours,' Willow hissed.
Giles didn't miss the look of hurt that clouded Tara's features for a brief moment but Willow did.
'Billy, pick out a toy and let's go, Willow has something else to do,' Tara said moving to the boys.
Billy and Xander looked up from the puzzles in confusion.
'You're coming to my place, you can have a sleep over,' Giles offered, knowing that Tara wouldn't want to go back with Willow tonight.
'Tara?' Spike/Billy asked softly, almost as if he was afraid to ask.
'What is it honey?' Tara asked as she crouched down in front of the boy.
'I just... I was wondering... can I have...?' his question trailed off as he mumbled the last of it.
'I'm sorry, I didn't quiet catch that little man,' she teased softly.
'Can I get these?' he asked pointing to the pile of two things on the floor. One was a similar kit to the one Xander had picked out and the other was a bear that was just like Xander's only where the other boys was purple, this one was green.
Tara tried not to smile, 'tell you what, why don't you and Xander pick out one more thing for your sleepover tonight,' she offered.
Both boy's eyes lit up, 'really?' they chorused.
Giles offered a friendly smile, 'no, not really, you can each pick out one,' he teased.
Xander rushed over with a craft kit, something to make bracelets and jewellery with.
Billy looked around but he didn't seem to know what to take, 'what about this?' Xander asked, offering Billy a colourful box. 'You can make pictures with sand,' Xander offered.
The blonde grinned, 'yeah, I'd like that,' he said, the pair turned to Tara, who was trying to heard them away from Willow and Giles who had begun to argue.
'I don't what you're so worked up about, Xander's parents didn't do anything to him,' Willow stated irritated and angry.
'And that's the problem!' Xander blurted, as he rushed to Willow, 'you can't tell me you didn't notice that I was bruised and almost broken. A kid can only fall down the stairs so many times before someone starts to ask questions.'
'You were just clumsy!' she blurted out, yelling it at the young man that looked like a little boy.
Tears welled in Xander's eyes and it was Billy that pulled Xander into a hug first, 'hush pet,' he whispered softly.
'I think you should go,' Giles said to Willow as Tara hugged both boys to her.
Willow gaped, 'Billy, Tara, let's go,' she said, commanding them rather than asking them.
'No,' Billy replied, defiantly.
Willow wanted to say something, but Giles grabbed her arm and steered her away from the three others.
Giles came back a few minutes later, 'I don't know about anyone else, but I could really use something to eat,' he said with a grin.
The boys gave a chorused cheer and Tara picked up what they wanted. The boys walked close together, and Giles noticed that they were holding hands.
'There's something you should know,' Tara said softly to Giles.
Giles handed the cashier his credit card, 'what is it?' he asked, almost absently.
'It's about Billy, he's alive,' she offered.
'He's what!' he blurted, the pen veering off the paper. Billy and Xander giggled as they glanced up at Giles and Tara.
'He's alive, Giles, he's got a pulse and working lungs and everything,' she said as she worked herself up.
Giles crouched suddenly, letting Tara collect his receipts, 'Billy,' he called softly.
'Yes, Mr. Giles,' he said turning shyly to the other man, his hand held tightly in Xander's. Giles gently cupped Billy's cheek, and sure enough it was warm, his fingers ghosted down and gently felt for a pulse. He looked at Billy in shock.
'Daddy?' Xander asked softly. Giles looked at Xander; he cupped his son's cheek affectionately before standing.
'Who's hungry?' he asked.
Tara, Xander and Billy held up their hands, grinning madly.
The quartet made their way to the food court, Xander holding onto Giles' hand and Billy holding Tara's as the two boys held each other's hand and the adults carried their bags.
Giles watched Tara with the two boys. He would deal with Willow tomorrow and then they would try to figure out what had happened to the boys.
And as Xander and Billy, as Spike had been newly christened, giggled with Tara, he wondered if, after what they both had been through, if this was such a bad thing.
He had already decided to formally adopt Xander and wondered if he should adopt Billy too, he would speak to Tara and Willow about it.
On the way home, the pair was awfully quiet in the back, and at a red light he glanced back, they were as close as they could be considering they were both in child safety seats and both were clutching their bears.
'They're so sweet,' Tara commented.
'Yeah until bath time,' Giles retorted.
'No,' came a murmured protest from the back, and Tara and Giles chuckled, well Giles chuckled and Tara giggled.
'Willow is just angry at herself,' Giles offered after a moment.
Tara gave a small smile, 'I know but she didn't have to say what she did.'
'Let's just take this one day at a time, if we figure this out great if we don't even better, we can give the boys a childhood together, one that Xander, at least, didn't have.'
She nodded, 'but what about Spike?'
Giles sighed, 'I have no idea, but I say we just wait and see,' he offered.
Tara looked saddened but nodded. If Spike became, well Spike again so be it, but they both hoped that he didn't.
And neither one would be surprised if the two boys started dating when they grew up, whenever that happened.
So I have no idea where this came from, but I'd like to know what you thought. I think I wrote it because I needed to get away from Harry Potter for a little while.