Out, Out, Damn Spot of...

“Try not to bleed on my couch; I just had it steam-cleaned...” Giles singing in 'Restless'.

The morning light trickled through the windows, gleefully giving every smear and finger print their day in the sun. Giles glanced up, as a particularly mischievous beam tickled his face, and watched, captivated, as the dust motes danced within the golden light. His gaze travelled around the room and he frowned. Oh, dear. The place was looking positively shabby. He had never dared to risk hiring a cleaning service - too many mystical items lurking around for that to be feasible, not to mention the weapons – but he usually managed to keep the place relatively clean and tidy.

Regretfully putting down his book, a particularly fascinating exploration of the mating rituals of the Benzogii demons, he wandered around, wondering where to start first. The couch caught his eye at once as it was in the path of the sunbeam, every spot and stain mercilessly highlighted.

“Good God,” Giles muttered. “I’ve actually been sitting on that?”

He made his way to the kitchen and opened a cupboard, studying the meagre assortment of cleaning products and marvelling at their ability to cut through grease, destroy germs, fight bacteria. “Perhaps Buffy should take some on patrol,” he thought cynically, too wise to be taken in by their optimistic pictures of gleaming floors and sparkling surfaces. “Ooh! Fabric cleaner! Guaranteed to hmm, hmm, not for use on, yes, yes... spray, leave, and vacuum off. I can do that!”

Beaming brightly, he set about restoring the couch to something approaching a sanitary state. The foam fizzed out and he watched in fascination as the couch turned into a cloud of white. As he sat back and waited for the foam to die down, sipping on a cup of tea as he didn’t believe in working one’s fingers to the bone in the worship of the goddess Hestia, he found his mind cataloguing the various stains.

That smear of black on the arm of the couch; that was left there from Xander’s sleeve. The lad had scrambled under a car, trying to escape a demon with a hide so tough that Buffy’s punches had seemed to do no more than tickle it. He had tried to wiggle out the other side to resume the attack and his sleeve had snagged on something hanging down, trapping him there. Then the demon had focused on his thrashing legs and started to pull...Giles shuddered. Xander had been in such a state that he hadn’t had the heart to scold him for the mess he’d made, when they returned to his house for a very necessary cleaning and, according to Buffy and Willow, equally necessary cocoa and cookies.

When Olivia had been recovering from her encounter with the Gentlemen, Giles had tried to calm her by pouring them both a stiff brandy. That hadn’t been spilled, except internally, but it had indirectly been responsible for the rather large wet patch on the centre cushion, the one that had dried in the shape of the African continent, as Giles had discovered the next day, as with pounding head and trembling hands, he’d sponged away at it as best he could, refusing to think about desperate kisses, exploring fingers and a messy, if agonisingly blissful conclusion...dealing with the bitter knowledge that he’d lost Olivia for good.

Shivering with the memories and gulping down scalding tea to calm himself, Giles let his eyes move along and up. Bright green splodges. Tara tripping and spilling a potion supposed to cure Willow’s hiccups. Brown dots; Buffy licking frantically at a chocolate popsicle on a day so hot it was melting almost as soon as she tore off the wrapper, her pink tongue curling around it as the droplets dripped from the stick and fell unnoticed...

With a pang of sorrow, Giles realised that he didn’t want this living journal to be obliterated, didn’t want the memories to be wiped clean. If Adam turned out to be the one foe they could not vanquish, it seemed so silly to be fretting about minor details. He looked at the couch. The foam had sunk in and dried. Sighing sadly, he went to fetch the vacuum cleaner, his brow furrowing as he tried to fix on an attachment he’d never used before. After it had roared to life, he set about his task, still wallowing in nostalgia. He finished, stepped back and swore.

“It’s not touched it! Bloody waste of time!”

Fuming he stalked over to the phone directory, flipped through the pages and then called a number. “Hello? Is that ‘Ezee-Steam, We Get It Clean’? I wonder if you could come out as soon as possible. I have some furniture... A special offer? The hallway counts as a room? But I don’t really have a hallway. No, the stairs are... well, I suppose if it’s twenty percent off on Tuesdays...”

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