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Humans are hypocrites. Don’t say what they mean, don’t mean what they say, and worry about getting what they want because it 'isn't polite'. They're mortals. How much time do they think they have? Not enough to go wasting it on 'excuse me, if it's not too much trouble', that's for sure.

Take my revered but emotionally constipated employer, for example. Anyone would think that the fate of the world rested on Good Manners, to hear him go on. "Anya, don't tell my friend Syd that seeing angels dancing on a pin means that yes, either he is eternally damned or he has irretrievably fried his brain with LSD"; "Anya, I'm sure Xander would be quite embarrassed by that graphic description of his, er, personal attributes, however well meant"; "Anya, do try to smile at customers even when they ask for a refund"…

He sounds just like Xander, only the lecture is a little more convincing delivered by someone who actually uses a cloth napkin (ironed) to eat a lunchtime sandwich, rather than by someone who wipes Tiger Garden Chow Mein grease all over a red-silk-shirt-Valentine's-day-gift-from-his-hardworking-girlfriend…

Giles doesn't sound like Xander most of the rest of the time. Which is nice. Not that I ever get tired of listening to Xander, even when he's showing me how you can hold a whole conversation in nothing but belching noises. But my working life just works…better, punctuated by that unblemished, stubbornly English accent, just too cheery answering the phone for someone who I don’t think ever gets enough sleep and lets Buffy pummel him until his joints creak whenever he bends to pick up a box.

He'd probably say it was also 'rude' to stare at someone's ass when they bend over, so I don't mention it. If he ever asked, I'd lie. That's Good Manners for you. Avoidance and lying.

What? Oh, please. I have eyes. Giles has a nice ass for a man of relatively advanced years. My eyes leave no mark. It doesn't belong to anyone except him and perhaps that Council of Watchers. Or is it Council of Wankers? I never quite got that one straight; it seems to vary depending how much Giles' breath smells of Scotch. If he gets close enough my nose starts to twitch and my tongue wonders what difference it makes French-kissing someone who drinks single malt rather than Coors.

That's theoretical wondering only, of course. My heart belongs to Xander. Giles' heart…is probably furred up by forty years of English Breakfasts and shouldn't be put under too much strain. He sometimes flushes the most alarming red in the face. All I did was offer some helpful advice to that woman. She couldn't decide between one money charm and the next, until I told her neither work as well as driving a hard bargain and carefully planned tax evasion. Normally, Giles accuses me of being too pushy in the cause of making a sale. He should make his mind up. Some of us care about the profitability of this business. Some of us don’t have substantial trust funds we think our co-workers don’t know anything about. Some of us shouldn't leave 'private' correspondence just lying around

And that's another thing, Rupert. If you don’t want to hear about my 'private' life, don't listen. You can do the selective deafness: I've seen you listen to Buffy going on about shopping. If it had been me, I'd have slipped in something about getting five pink fur coats just to see if it filtered through and you got that laughy, breathy, stuttery thing going and I'd wonder what other ways I could make you look that stunned because it's really very attractive when you… in a man. Any man. In general.

Wait. Why am I talking to you, Rupert, er, Giles? This is supposed to be a safe, third-person, theoretical conversation with an imaginary, neutral interlocutor situated inside my brain. If I even imagine undr… addressing you, not a chance of keeping it under wraps. Everyone knows that. Anya, First Class Foot-In-Mouth for Hire. Xander says I should have it on my business card. I always thought he appreciated other-parts-in-mouth more, but I suppose he wouldn't want me to advertise that particular skill.

So. Where were we? Yes. Humans and their dishonesty. Giles and his dishonesty. He pretends all the time. A customer came in the other day, made a blatant pass at him and he claimed not to have noticed. She draped herself over the cash register until she could have caught both breasts in the drawer had Giles needed to dispense change. After she'd left – without buying anything, and that's at least the third time she'd been in and gone away without opening her purse – I pointed out that he'd missed a golden opportunity to get his end away, as Spike puts it, and he got all huffy, told me "I'm sure you're mistaken, Anya" and claimed that anyway, he wouldn't be interested in "taking advantage of mere casual offers". That "maturity brings with it the ability to wait for the right person to present herself."

Pfft. Never met a man yet who didn't jump at the chance. Except Xander, of course. Oh, and I suppose Riley. And…Well, never mind. They're already spoken for. Giles shouldn't be so picky. No wonder he wears glasses. He'll find out eventually that the 'hairy palms' story isn't just a myth either. Besides, how will he know if the person presenting herself is 'right'?

No, I do not have an unseemly interest in my boss' sex life. Or lack of one. So far as I know. He is known for keeping secrets and all that 'not being anyone's business but mine' nonsense. What if he's…well, what's it to you? Why do you care? Why do I? Tricky question. Especially since in a way you are me, oh imaginary confidante. How Anne Frank managed this, I do not know.

It's professional curiosity. That's what it is. Just because I've retired, doesn't mean I don’t retain an entirely disinterested interest in what makes humans fall for each other. After all, no love and sex means no vengeance, and one should study the market, shouldn't one? Even if one has promised faithfully never, ever to go there again.

What does he want? Brains? Beauty? Sexual stamina? Good business sense? Knowledge of the occult? Any one of a hundred ex-dem…I mean, women, might have those. Physical type? Giles prefers brunettes: he told me once, just in passing. Purely by chance, I found a lovely mahogany rinse at the store last week. Xander disagrees. He says I should go back to blonde. I'll think about it. Far be it from me to allow a man's opinion to influence my self-image.

Good thing I'm as honest as I am. With myself and other people. Xander says I should learn from watching others. I feel they should learn from watching me. There'd be a great deal fewer misunderstandings. People would come right out with what they are thinking and feeling and act on it, it would all be so much more satisfying.

I mean, satisfactory.