written by Head Rush

Rating: FRT
Spoilers: Takes place earlyish season 7.
Summary: Sometimes it's not easy to give in, even when you want to.
Thanks: Huge thanks to Kim, Vatwoman, Sharon, and KathyP!
Dedication: This was written for Lori, who requested G/Anya, Viognier, a tie, a non-Sunnydale location, Ripper, and Anya being smart.
Feedback Author: Head Rush


Something was wrong with her man, and Anya was going to find out what it was. An English Potential had arrived at Buffy's the day before, saying that Giles had saved her from a Bringer, delivered her to Heathrow, and asked her to tell Buffy that something had come up, and he'd be back as soon as he could. He hadn't called or emailed – he never did when he was on missions – said it would be too easy for the First to impersonate him.

Quietly, cautiously, Anya unlocked the door of Giles' flat. She was glad to feel the familiar tingle of his barrier wards as the crossed the threshold. Inside, it smelled of new carpets and the stacks of cardboard boxes he hadn't managed to finish unpacking since he'd bought the place over a year ago. It had taken her an hour to cram a suitcase full of Giles-hunting outfits and accessories, and ten and a half hours to get from LAX to Heathrow. It cost another three hours and her life savings to get a cab from the airport to here, what Giles called his island unto himself, in a row of Georgian townhouses on a quiet Bath backstreet. It was now nearly four in the morning in Bath, and not-a-clue-pm in her brain. She was grimy, dehydrated, disoriented, annoyed, and worried. The only light in the flat came from a room down the hall. Anya set her bags down in the living room and went to investigate.

She pushed open the door to a cramped, badly-lit room fitted with the floor-to-ceiling bookshelves about which she'd heard so much semi-orgasmic babbling when he'd had them installed. In the far corner, Giles sat hunched over his desk. He sighed heavily, winced, swore, and gingerly rubbed the place on his chest where Willow had extracted far too much magic. In his hand was a tumbler of something clearly alcoholic. This was what he got up to when she wasn't around to keep an eye on him? He had *promised*. She heaved a small, exasperated sigh.

He frowned suddenly, looked up, and jumped, slopping his drink over the papers piled on the blotter. "Christ!"

She stepped into the room. "It's me."

"I can see that." He stood up stiffly and picked his way through the Giant's Causeway of files and papers stacked in tottering heaps on the floor. His hands slid round her waist – oh, that was very nice – and he ducked his head to kiss her.

"Scotch," she mumbled, melting.

"No thanks, I've had enough," he grinned against her mouth.

"Yes, you have. Any more and you're not going to be any use to me tonight."

He quirked a hopeful eyebrow.

"Don't look at me like that, mister. I want an explanation."

The eyebrow dropped back into place. "Anya, darling, what the fuck are you on about? And why are you here? Is everything all right?"

"No, you're drinking and hurting and awake and far away and not talking to us and I thought something happened to you."

"Nothing happened to me." He was getting that look. "I meant, is there a problem at… in Sunnydale?"

"Yes, and *I* meant, what're you doing here, and working in the middle of the night? The witches told us that you need to rest if you're going to recover from what Willow did to you."

He grunted.

"Seriously, honey."

"Yes, well, I have yet another bloody apocalypse to avert; a growing number of Potentials to locate and train; and a Slayer who barely gives me, or anyone else, the time of day. In addition to that, the Council's riding us constantly for field reports, and now one of their top watchers, who happens to be one of my oldest friends, has gone missing in action."

"That's what's keeping you here?"


"Who is it?"


"Oh." Robson. She'd spoken to him on the phone a few times. "I'm sorry about Robson, but can't the Council send someone else? I mean, if Robson dies, really it's not that big a deal in cosmic terms, but if you die, hello, apocalypse?"

His jaw tightened, and he pulled away from her. "Since the situation with the First has deteriorated so alarmingly, the Council has closed in on itself. The place is like a fortress. No one goes in or out if there's the remotest chance that they may have been taken by the First. It's understood that if you get into trouble and break contact with headquarters, you're on your own."

"They were looking for you recently. They didn't know where you were. So that must mean that they…"

"Yes. They're not communicating with me anymore; it all goes through Buffy. As far as they're concerned I'm on my own, and so, now, is Robson. If I don't go after him, no one will."

Anya looked him up and down. He was unshaven, hollow-eyed, wearier than she'd seen him since Buffy had done her swan dive. Only a handful of weeks before, she'd helped to keep him still and grounded while healers at the coven worked to repair the damage Willow had inflicted. She was no stranger to the sounds of men in real pain, but the noises he had tried not to make twisted her guts until she got fierce and helpless and realised that for some time now, Giles had a power over her that she had given willingly.

Giles wasn't up to tracking missing watchers right now, and it scared her because she knew he would do it anyway, and she loved him the more for being such a good and stupid friend. She wrapped her arms around him where it wouldn't hurt too much, and rested her head in the hollow of his shoulder. He shifted a little, but returned her hug with surprising strength. Anya closed her eyes and concentrated on the warmth of him, the solidity of him, and the softness of his worn flannel shirt on her cheek. Giles' chest heaved slightly as he took a breath to speak, but he didn't let go of her, only let one hand trace up her spine to massage the back of her neck.

"The importance of the mission he was on aside, Robson has a wife, Jane, and a little girl called Kerry." His mouth quirked up. "I'm her godfather, if you can believe it. He's saved my life twice, and he's always been there when I've needed him, which is more than I can say for some." Giles let her go and stepped back. He ran a hand through his already rumpled hair, and frowned. "Sorry, it's the scotch."

"It's the truth." Giles always came last, especially with Giles. She'd noticed that.

He shrugged. "Now, why *are* you here? Even factoring my manly prowess into the equation, I take it you haven't travelled eight thousand miles for a quickie."

"No," she said. "I travelled eight thousand miles because I was afraid you were doing something stupid." She stood on tiptoe, and kissed him. "And you owe me way more than a quickie, but you're not going to give it to me tonight." She took his hand and tugged him gently into the dark corridor. "I'm going to stay awake to make sure you rest."

He exhaled with amusement, too tired even to laugh. "Splendid. I always sleep better when I'm being stared at."


"No." His eyes twinkled in that way that made her stomach lurch. "We're going to sleep together."

* * * * *

Anya had been undressed and under the duvet before her honey had finished taking his shoes and socks off. He'd gone into the bathroom to change, which made her suspicious, but they'd both been so shattered, she hadn't made an issue of it. Yet.

Now it was early morning, and they lay spooned on their left sides with his right arm under hers, his fingers idly toying with her breast. He kissed her ear. "I'll be gone all day today. Perhaps tomorrow as well."

She turned to face him. "Where are you going?"

He sighed. "A couple of days ago, Robson he told me he was on an assignment to buy… or by some other means acquire… an ancient mystical armoury compendium that was rumoured to have references to a weapon that might be effective against the First."

"What kind of weapon?"

"I don't know; I haven't seen the bloody book, have I?" he snapped. That stung, and his face fell almost before hers did. "I'm sorry. I'm tired. I need to crack on and find Robson before it's too late, if it isn't already."

Anya nodded. He needed her help, and she would give it. "Where do we start?"

He blinked. "There is no "we". There's enough danger at the moment, and I'll not have you taking unnecessary risks on my account. You're staying here, or you're going back to – " Giles gasped loudly as she pressed a few light fingers to the center of his chest.

"Honey, there's no way you're so much as getting out of this bed alone, never mind fighting the forces of darkness."

His expression wavered between irritation and gratitude. Her kiss nudged it over into gratitude. It continued for some time, deep and demanding, until they were forced to take an oxygen break. He grinned, the heartrending warmth of his expression undiminished by the shadows, and she wondered how it had ever taken her so long to get to this place.

Giles squirmed under her hands. It felt good. "Will you let me up now?"

"Tell me what you're going to do, first."

He sighed, surrendering. At least he knew enough to pick his battles where she was concerned. "I don't know whether Robson managed to get as far as actually meeting up with the book dealer he'd gone to see. I have to assume he didn't. So I'm going to impersonate him… er, you can be my assistant… and try to strike the deal, get the book, and hopefully some leads on Robson as well."

"And if the dealer *did* see Robson, and knows you're trying to trick him?"

"In that case, I imagine there will be a fracas of some description." He sighed again, and this time she let him go. He sat up and eased his feet to the floor with a wince. "Right, we have to get going."

Not without a pang of regret, Anya got out of bed and watched in agony as he tried to stand without broadcasting the amount of pain he was in.

"You don't have to do this," she said.

He gave her a look that discouraged further comment, so she pondered the contents of her suitcase. "What should I wear?"

"Something book-dealerish."

"Which is?"

He considered. "Shabby."

Anya glanced at her suitcase. "How about my grey pinstriped suit and red slingbacks?"

"Er, I'll be the shabby one, then."

"Okay." She smiled and left him to get dressed in private.

* * * * *

Giles heaved her suitcase and his duffle bag into the back of his blue Range Rover. He didn't look shabby at all in those black pants. Light blue shirt, dark blue tie with intricate gold filigree embroidery, and suspenders which accentuated the broadness of his shoulders and chest in a way that made her tingle.

He caught her looking at him and raised an eyebrow. "All right?"

"Very… shaggable, as you people say."

He barked a laugh. "Excellent. You too, darling."

"So where is this nasty little bibliophile?"

"Hay-on-Wye. It's up the arse of nowhere, on the Welsh border. Lovely little place on a river. More bookshops per square inch than anywhere on Earth."

* * * * *

The winding, single lane road was bordered on either side by thick green and brown hedgerows, and it went on forever. This was like one of those labyrinth dimensions where you went round and round in circles until you were hunted down and eaten by giant ferrets. Anya frowned at the crumpled Ordnance Survey map. "Are you sure this place is in the same dimension as Bath?"

"Yes." He reached over and stabbed irritatingly at the map with his index finger. "Look at the map. It shouldn't be far."

"I *am* looking at the map. Get that finger away from me, or you'll lose it."

After a moment, he glanced over. "What have I done?"

She sighed, and tugged on an unruly strand of hair. It wasn't his fault, exactly, but he'd made her give up her power. Again. And she was going to pay for it by having her heart ripped out when something happened to him. Or if something happened to her, then he would be the one to pay, because he was giving up his power too, as surely as he'd done with Willow, or with that Jenny woman Xander had told her about. "I'm confused and scared and pretty sure I'm going to throw up."

He grinned, and squeezed her knee. "That last bit could be carsickness. And if it's any consolation, I feel much the same." They passed a sign pointing up a narrow track to Builth Wells. Giles' eyes lit up. "There was a battle there," he said. "Legend has it that Prince Llewellyn tried to outsmart the English troops by having his horses' shoes put on back to front, so that the English would think he was running away, when in fact," he grinned, "he was advancing."

Anya wondered if there was a moral to that story. "Did he win the battle?"

He squeezed her knee, and his hand drifted just a tiny bit under the hem of her skirt. "Yes, he did."

* * * * *

It was raining when they arrived, and the smell of wet tarmac and fields rose up to meet them as they opened the car doors. "It always rains when I'm here," said Giles. The rough grey stone of the bridge over the shallow Wye was a perfect match for the weathered old town itself, where buildings leaned, shady alleys and snickets wound, and the streets gently heaved with the hills beneath.

Giles collected his minimalist weapons' bag from the back seat, and they walked some way up Castle Street until they came to a narrow, cobbled alley on the left. It was bordered on either side by bookshops casting yellow light onto the wet path. "This is it; the Back Fold," he said quietly.

As they came to yet another ramshackle establishment with a buckled bow window, Giles hissed, swore, and stopped walking. At the same instant, Anya felt a painful electric snap of black barrier wards. The sign propped against the shop read, "~ Origo Mali ~ Open 11-4pm, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday. Closed 1-2:30."

Giles snorted derisively. "Origo Mali? Someone certainly thinks a lot of themselves."

"`The source of all evil'." Anya wrinkled her nose. "Yeah, they wish."

Giles glanced at her in surprise, as she'd known he would. "You speak Latin?"

She shrugged modestly. "A little. Vengeance Latin, mostly."

"`Vengeance Latin'." The corner of his mouth twitched. "Is there a phrasebook for that?"

"Not one you'd want to read, watcher." She couldn't be sure if he'd taken that as an insult or not, but he poked her out of the way with a sharp index finger, and entered the shop ahead of her.

Origo Mali smelled of the damp outside, and the mildew inside. Books were piled high in haphazard heaps on tables with, Anya noted, no attempt to create a display that would make people want to buy anything. Furthermore, it smelled of millions of pages crumbling to dust under the proprietor's watchful, unnaturally green, eye. Demon. So obvious. He was, as Giles had predicted, shabby. He wore a baggy green sweater and his hair could have stood some attention. His fingernails were cut into points. He appeared neither welcoming nor interested in encouraging them to spend lots of money, until Giles went to the counter and introduced himself as Martin Robson.

The proprietor looked puzzled as his eyes drifted back and forth between Giles and Anya, eventually coming to rest on Anya's breasts. Giles moved in front of her ever so slightly.

"From the Provincial Booksellers' Association. Magus division. I'm here about the `Book of Sharps'. I believe it was you I spoke to on the phone the other day? You claimed to have a copy?"

Anya watched him blink. `Claimed to have'. That was fighting talk.

"I'm prepared to pay," Giles added. He would be aware that that really wasn't the best way to put it.

The proprietor's unpleasantly smile revealed pointy yellow teeth. "You are, are you?"

"Up to a point." Giles' eyes went flat and cold. "After which, *you* should be prepared to pay. Do I make myself clear?"

Anya hoped the demon wouldn't take too much offence at that, but dismiss it as testosterone-fuelled posturing.

The proprietor's smile widened. "What did you say your name was?"


"Ah yes, I remember now." He was looking positively eager, and Anya didn't like it. "All our most potent and antiquarian items are kept in the cellar. Lower humidity, you know." He shambled out from behind the counter. "Follow me."

Giles and Anya exchanged a glance.

"We'll wait up here while you get it, if you don't mind," said Giles. "We're in a bit of a hurry, and we'd like to have a quick browse."

The proprietor's forehead erupted into furrows. "I'm sorry sir, but I can't move the book more than ten feet from its shelf without transferring the rites of ownership."

Anya frowned. Of the two of them, she was the one who could move without pain, and who knew what was lurking in this little toad's basement. "Okay," she said lightly. "I'll go down and check out the book while my partner here looks at your stock." She reached for Giles' weapons bag. He opened his mouth to speak, but the proprietor got in there first.

The demon bit his lip. "I'm afraid you both need to be accompanied whilst in the shop. There are… security… issues. Some of our stock is… volatile. We can't afford to take chances, you understand. Insurance rates and what have you."

Damn. "Sure," said Anya. "Health and safety."

The demon nodded uncertainly. "Yes, quite."

After a moment, Giles nodded. "Of course. Lead on." He squeezed her hand very briefly as they set off towards the door at the back of the shop.

The proprietor flicked a switch on the wall and opened the door. He led them down a steep fight of stairs into a dim, vaulted grey stone chamber. "Roman," he announced. "It's been used as a wine cellar for two thousand years, till I came along. One of the better pubs still keeps a bit down here for special occasions."

Oak barrels lay around the shadowy periphery of the room like so many sleeping dogs.

A movement behind them, footsteps on the stairs, and they turned around too late. The lights went off, and the door slammed shut.

"Oh for fuck's sake," Giles snapped. "I knew this was going to happen."

Anya rolled her eyes in the darkness and reached out for him. He felt down her arm until his hand closed around her own, warm and strong, and she felt… safe.

"Illumino," said Anya, and a watery yellow light filled the room. Now they could take inventory. The demon hadn't been lying; the truly antiquarian stock was kept down here, in alcoves carved into the stone walls. If the demon didn't care about them seeing this stuff, it meant that he didn't expect them to get out of this cellar. Giles practically sprinted to the nearest shelf, and as he did, his foot collided hard with a barrel. He swore, and then fell silent. He gave the barrel another, more experimental, kick. She liked him in those back boots.

The barrel was hollow. The bung-hole was not blocked up. It was empty. Of wine, at least. Giles kicked the lid in. "Good Lord. Books." He grabbed a couple and flicked through them. "I think there's a bit of smuggling going on here," he said in a tone such as to indicate fascination. This was not the time.

"Honey? We're trapped in a basement."



"We're not trapped. I have a mobile phone. I can call the police to get us out, if not the Council. I just want to have a look around while we're here." He turned the pages slowly, as Anya began to formulate ways to make him suffer. "No, not smuggling, exactly." He looked up, mouth open, blinking slowly. "Anya... I know what this is."

She knelt beside him and prised the book from his loose grip. "What?"

He got to his feet with a groan – she'd almost forgotten about that – and squinted at other titles. "It is," he said incredulously, almost to himself. "It's a storage facility for the mystical texts the Bringers are using to increase their numbers and their power in this dimension."

"How do you know?"

"They've done it before. Frequently. Their fondness for recording the rituals and tools of their trade, and their enemy's trades, is a rather warped connection with their former lives as medieval monks and priests."

"It's a good thing they weren't beekeepers in their former lives," said Anya. "We'd be assaulted by bees the size of houses… Wait. If they record how they travel between dimensions, maybe we can find a way to stop them doing it?"

Giles curled his hand around the back of her head, and kissed her. "You look over there, I'll look over here." He went over to another barrel, gave the lid a solid kick, and recoiled. "Bloody hell! It's Robson."

Anya peered into the cask, where a dark form lay curled. Blackening bloodstains had soaked into the wood beneath him. Giles reached in and pressed his fingers to the man's jugular. Anya tensed; more on Giles' behalf than Robson's. From what she'd heard, he'd lost more than enough friends already. "Is he dead?" she asked quietly.

He gave a small sigh of relief. "No." Giles took his friend under the arms and started to manoeuvre him into a better position. When both men groaned, Anya helped Giles heave the badly beaten watcher over the barrel chime and onto the cold stone floor.

She sat back to let Giles work. He had slid into watcher mode, assessing his friend's injuries in an efficient yet careful-not-to-hurt way, and Anya wondered if it was wrong to be so turned on by it. "Why didn't they kill him?" she said, poking tenderly, Giles-style, at the purple-black lump on Robson's forehead, making him groan again.

"No idea. Perhaps whoever it was beat him up and threw him in the barrel to suffocate, and didn't stop to notice the bunghole was clear." He pried one of Robson's eyes open, and shook him gently. "Martin? Are you with us?"

Anya leaned over and scowled down at the man who'd landed them all in danger. "Are you the First?"

"The First… what?" Robson muttered thickly.

Giles rested his hand over Robson's forehead, and both men closed their eyes. A few moments later, Giles smiled slightly. "You're Martin Robson. What's my name?"

"Giles," he said hoarsely. "Sorry… sorry about this."

"S'all right. I owed you."

"I didn't," said Anya.

"Oh, right. Robson, this is Anya, my –" Giles grunted hard as Anya tackled him, sending them sprawling and tangled across the floor, barely clear of the Bringer's axe.

There were three of them. Huge, hooded demon priests come to catch up on their reading. Everything got blurry, but at the same time crystal clear. Anya was back on her feet, and Giles was rifling through his bag. He shoved a long knife and a hand-held crossbow into her hands. He dealt himself and Robson the same hand, but moved back across the cellar to draw the Bringers away from the injured man.

When a Bringer got Anya by the throat, Giles tore one of her shoes off and rammed the stiletto heel into its eye socket, giving her an opening to stab it through the thick folds of its robes. She shoved it away and kicked off her other shoe, the better to fight with.

They fought shoulder to shoulder for what felt like a very long time. She parried blows meant for her man, and he did the same for her. When two Bringers slammed Giles against the wall and held him there as they drew back their axes, Anya and Robson – who couldn't even stand – shot each demon priest in the back of the head, then grinned at one another. Giles meant a lot to both of them.

* * * * *

The Old Black Lion Hotel, Hay-on-Wye.

"It's a good thing the police in Hay don't have much to do of an evening," said Giles, shutting the door behind him. "We'd have been down there forever."

"Is Robson going to be okay?"

He smiled. "Yes, I patched him up and left him on the phone to his wife."

"Good. I'm glad he didn't die."

"So am I. Sorry the demon got away, though. That'll give Robson something to keep him occupied once he recovers."

"It must have hurt you to set those books on fire," said Anya. "What if one of them was `The Book of Sharps'?"

He opened his mouth to speak, but instead held his breath.

She frowned. "*You're* not about to die on me, are you?" The image of him lying on the floor of the Magic Box, and on the bed at the coven, was sickeningly fresh.

A moment later, he exhaled and waved her off. "No."

"Were you hurt?"

"Just bruised. Don't fuss, Anya. It's fine."

"No it isn't. You haven't let me see you since we left the coven."

He looked out the window and nodded absently. "It's stopped raining. Let's go for a walk. I'll show you the sights."

* * * * *

It hadn't taken long to walk the winding streets of the town, and down to the bridge. They crossed it, and wandered into the expanse of field beyond. As if on cue, the rain started up again. The chestnut tree had to be at least half her age. Its thick canopy of leaves spread high above them, a giant, benevolent umbrella as the Scotch mist came down. It was warm despite the lateness of the season. No. That wasn't the reason she was warm.

Giles took out his Swiss Army knife and yanked the cork from the bottle he'd ordered on their way out of the hotel. "No glasses, I'm afraid," he said. "You're the lady, so you can have the first uncouth swig of mine host's finest Viognier."

She accepted the wine gratefully. Fighting for your life was thirsty work. The wine was magnificent. Bright, and tasting of the goodness of life, distilled. "Apricots," she said slowly, passing him the bottle.

He nodded, swallowing. "Peaches." He gave it back.

She sniffed at it. "Pears." Sweet and acidic at the same time, they were one of the flavours she had most enjoyed since becoming human. Anya looked at him, and this time he looked back. Gods, his eyes… She closed hers as he leaned in and kissed her full on the mouth. Softly at first, and then more demandingly.

When her questing hands wandered from the back of his head to push his suspenders off his shoulders, he didn't quiver. But when she reached for his shirt buttons, he took her hands and held them against him, but immobile.

She pouted. "If you don't get this shirt off right now, I'm not going to have sex with you."

He barked a laugh, and seemed to relax. He covered her mouth with his own, effectively silencing her, then tugged off his tie and gently, but insistently, pushed her down onto her back on the thick, damp grass. His large, strong hands encircled her wrists and brought them up over her head to rest on a small, wandering tree root that broke the surface of the ground before diving below again. He wrapped his tie first around her wrists, and then around the root. She tugged, testing the bond. It held. The silk lining was still warm from where it had lain against his chest.

Thrilling as it was, Anya squirmed against the loss of power. He smiled at her, but there was far more to his expression than amusement. "Surrender? You can trust me, Anya. I won't hurt you."

Her eyes felt all wet, and she nodded. "Come here," she sniffed. Obligingly, he moved partway over her and bent to kiss her deep and long. She forgot about her restraints, and tried to reach for him. Frustrated, she wiggled helplessly. "How do you expect me to get naked now?"

His deft fingers parted her coat and unbuttoned her blouse. "In deference to the location," he unhooked her bra, exposed her left breast and kissed it, "I think we'll keep a few clothes on," he exposed her right breast and kissed it, "lest the Pony Club should trot past and be traumatised."

"Let me see you, Giles."

His eyes came up to meet hers, and he sighed. "All right. But Anya, I want you to remember that I am *still alive*, and you don't have to try to protect me all the time." He smiled. "Yes?" She nodded, watching enthralled as he unfastened his shirt and, after a moment's hesitation, pulled his t-shirt off.

Anya didn't say anything. The wounds would heal completely in time; she would see to it.