They're all so young. That kept on invading Giles' mind as he stood in the doorway to his kitchen. He watched his charges converse; feeling part of them yet not part of them. He afforded a quick glance at the clock on the wall. It was getting late: time for old men to get their rest.

Buffy stole another kiss from Riley: another secret witnessed by everyone. They sat glued to each other; her right leg touching his left; her right hand finger-locked with his left hand.

The Watcher's attention was then drawn to Willow and her soul mate, Tara. They never kissed in public; afraid to cross that line as though life were primetime TV. Tara was part of their extended family now, Giles thought, so Willow should be able to share her joy, and express it as freely as Buffy and Riley. After all, Giles continued his musing, Ally McBeal had done it.

The two Wiccas reminded Giles of his relationship with Jenny. He couldn't remember ever kissing her in front of the children. Perhaps it was because she had been so much younger than him. More likely, to his mind, it was due to his tweed-coated inability to emote in public. Giles had borne that skin like shackles: they impeded his progress and announced his presence whenever he entered a room.

The "children" chatted on. The topic of conversation concentrated on how to beat Adam. There was still some evidence of the earlier unease between the gang; a vestige of the damage Spike had inflicted on the harmony of the group. Giles knew they would heal. They had all been through so much in the last three years to drift too far apart without pulling themselves back in.

Despite feeling safe in the knowledge of their re-found friendship and respect, Giles couldn't cast off his own feeling of being superfluous. He smiled at his moroseness: it was time he watched It's a Wonderful Life again.

Buffy and Riley, Willow and Tara, even Xander and Anya expressed their affections openly. Love, devotion and lust. It didn't matter really: Giles had kissed Jenny.

Jenny kissed me when we met,

Jumping from the chair she sat in;

Time, you thief, who love to get

Sweets into your list, put that in:

Say I'm weary, say I'm sad,

Say that health and wealth have missed me,

Say I'm growing old, but add,

Jenny kissed me.

(Leigh Hunt)