Paving Stones
Chapter Four - No Way In Hell

written by Mad Poetess & Wolfling





Spike's knuckles ached. Raw and sharp and rough, the constant tingle of pain flaring into a bitter throb when he flexed his hand. He did it again, to remind himself, and from the corner of his eye, he saw Giles wince.

An irritation, that. The man hadn't bothered to wince when Spike put his hand through the wall in the first place, had he? No bookish fluster, no quiet concern. Simply a flick of his eyes at the sound of fist shattering plaster, slamming into wood. Then he'd turned back to Dawn, and handed her a slice of birthday cake.

In the silence, after, the echo of snarled curses still hanging in the air, Giles had spoken a soft word, but not to Spike. It had been Xander who rose from the table, finally. Who walked over to the doorway where Spike stood, and wrapped Anya's scarf around his hand without a sound, while the rest did their best to pretend nothing unusual was happening, Giles the most of all.

Now, in the car, top down and January wind blowing cool over Spike's bruised hand, now Giles winced at him when he made a fist. Spike flexed his hand again, just to piss him off. Watched white knuckles, un-bandaged now, turn even whiter, scrapes and cuts showing up in faded pink, looking almost healed. The illusion of no circulation - nothing healed that fast.

"That must hurt." The words were quiet, said with no inflection, but Spike could feel the unrestrained tension that was lurking just beneath their surface. Even if he hadn't been able to, the white-knuckled grip Giles had on the steering wheel, the unconscious echo of his own, or the stiff, absolutely straight posture, would have given it away.

"Done worse."

Skinned it, scraped it, staked it, had it drenched in holy water. Lot of things you could do to a hand that would always grow back, in a century plus. Things he'd screamed and begged for, some of them. Sharp red nail across the inside of his wrist, bloodstained lips against the cradle of his palm. The serpent's kiss before the fangs came down. Things, too, he'd taken silent just to prove he could, to see that glint of approval in dark Irish eyes that never smiled, no matter what direction his mouth might have curved.

"I'm sure you have. That isn't exactly comforting."

"If you wanted comfortable, I wouldn't be in this car, would I." It was a joke that had grown old between them. Possibly stale. That nothing about him was easy, and how well that reflected the place they lived, a town built over a hole to hell, a world without the Slayer who used to be there to protect it.

Spike stared at the street signs rushing past, at the neon lights of the stores that still hadn't closed, because no one had told them the party was over. He smacked his fist down on the edge of the open window, and enjoyed the shot of silver pain that sent through his hand, up his arm. Done worse? He'd killed with this hand, caressed with it. Reached up for a falling Slayer and missed by a thousand miles. Smashed the one thing that could have brought her back, that night full of fire and fear and betrayal, to so many useless shards of clay -- but he'd never made Dawn give him the look she had tonight. Never hurt *her* with his hand.

"Comfort? I can't even come up with that for the kid, and God knows she needed it more than you do."

"We all did what we could." Giles did not turn his gaze from the road ahead of them. "Tonight was not easy for any of us. It's the first..." He trailed off, and if anything, his grip on the steering wheel got even tighter. Spike almost thought he could hear it creak under the pressure. Or maybe it was Giles that was starting to give.

"It *would* be the first Buffy birthday party *I* get invited to," Spike said, striving for lightness and failing pathetically. "The one that's over her dead body."

Spike watched the muscles in Giles' throat move as the man swallowed against painful emotions. When he spoke, some of those emotions were finally leaking into his voice. "The truly ironic thing is that this was probably the birthday that went the best."

As compared to what? The one where Dawn had sliced her arms and run straight into the clutches of the thing that was trying to kill her? Or the year that Buffy gave the Souled One the best birthday gift he'd had in a hundred years, and sent them all to hell in the handbasket it came wrapped in? "Dunno. Kind of liked the one where I got to crash your car."

"You would." Then Giles sighed and added in a hushed, painful voice, "There was also her 18th birthday, when I betrayed her and completely shattered her trust in me. I could actually see the minute her heart broke. That...that was the worst one."

For a moment, Spike wanted to ask -- just after the moment when he wanted to growl. Both passed, with nothing more than a look at the man in the driver's seat, a story on his face that Spike didn't want to read, and so chose not to. Now, of course. Now, he could keep his mouth shut and his hand on the car window ledge, and simply shake his head. Now, when it didn't matter what he said or did.

"So, all things considered," Giles continued sounding halfway between forced cheer and bitterness, "this evening went quite well."

"Oh, quite," Spike agreed. "The birthday girl had a marvelous time, far as I can tell."

He'd thought he was used to it. Nine months of that painted latex smile that looked like hers but wasn't. Nine months of fighting beside it, watching it try to *learn*, try to care for Dawn the way Willow and Tara did. Lopsided peanut butter sandwiches with the crusts cut off, and the smell of burnt pancakes that would still be hanging around by nightfall, sometimes. Tara never burned them, Willow never tried them, and it... was trying to be Buffy.

"She did," Giles agreed neutrally, but the tension in his posture belied the calm voice.

Only she -- it -- wasn't supposed to have been there. Mind-bogglingly stupid idea in the first place, having a party at all. Sitting around the Summers living room passing round pictures of party hats long gone by, telling the sort of Buffy birthday stories they'd be willing to tell around Dawn. Arm in a box. Giles woke up horny and scaly. Photos of a child-sized Buffy clomping in ice skates through a house Spike had never seen before. Rubbish. Stupid. Sentimental twaddle, and there was a place for that, he wasn't a fool, but not together, not on her birthday, not in that house that was so full of her that he could stand in the doorway and close his eyes and hear her, telling him to come in.

But it had been Dawn's idea. Dawn's house, Dawn's sister, Dawn's bright eyes looking at someone, probably Willow, and like any of them would have, she'd caved. They'd all caved. They'd all showed, dressed and pressed. Even him, even Spike, best behaviour round his neck like an invisible, too-tight necktie, cutting off the air he only wasted on words like 'No way in hell.' No sooner off his tongue than he'd been following Giles in from the car, so what good were words, anyway?

He hadn't managed to smile, couldn't paste that inane Harris grin on his face, or copy even Dawn's small, melancholy one, but at least he'd kept his mouth shut. Until the back door opened and he'd heard her footsteps in the kitchen, and he closed his eyes and pretended, just for a second, and when he'd opened them, the bot was standing in the middle of the room.

"Why the hell didn't somebody program that thing to stay the fuck away?" he asked now, though he hadn't then. "Take in a midnight movie?"

"I don't know," Giles replied, again in that calm, controlled voice. "But I wish to God they had."

The quiet vehemence surprised Spike; the Watcher seemed to get on with the bot better than almost any of them but Dawn, and, despite the tension pouring off the man all evening, he had seemed to be dealing with everything, holding the rest of them together by sheer effort of will.

He'd been the first one to speak, after it had looked around the room, at the cake on the coffee table, the still-empty plates all laid out in a circle, and asked if this was a party. "There's no balloons, but there's cake. Tara's party had balloons. Do there have to be balloons, to be a party?"

There'd been utter silence, even Dawn looking lost to see her here, not being Buffy, when she was supposed to be outside in the dark, not being the Slayer. Lucky them, that the things that went bump in the night had decided to knock off bumping early, in honour of Buffy's birthday. Giles had finally answered calmly, "No. There don't have to be balloons."

"Oh." And the plastic smile, the curiosity that Willow must have programmed into it, because Spike had certainly never asked for anything more than a need to find new ways to please him. "Whose birthday is it?"

He'd almost got up and walked out, not wanting to hear the answer, not wanting to know whose voice would pipe up with some explanation of why the pack of them were gathered in the living room on a Saturday night to celebrate the birth of a dead woman. Except it was Dawn who said it, carefully, confusedly. Said, "It's Buffy's birthday," and the muscles in his legs that had been about to propel him out of the chair, simply twitched, as they'd been doing all night, and bade him stay still.

"It is?" The bot's eyes had widened and its smile had gotten even bigger. "It's a party for me! A surprise party."

In the awkward silence that had followed that pronouncement, Spike had wanted to rage, to leave, to kill something, but he'd just sat there like the rest of them. It was Giles who had broken the tension and finally answered, even managing a faint smile as he'd told it, "I suppose in a way it is." Letting the bot in, making it a part of the celebration, sad as it was.

The place for it, next to Dawn. The birthday cake in front of it, and Spike was never going to ask whose idea that cake had been, because if the answer wasn't Dawn, he might have to kill someone. Happy Birthday, Buffy. Twin candles, shaped like the number two. He'd stared at it when he first walked in, and Dawn had said quietly, "I figure, if she's with Mom, she's got to be happy, right?"

They could have all drowned in the idiocy of it all. Even him, who didn't need to breathe, when he'd answered with the best he could give, "Must be." And hoped it wasn't a lie.

The cake, in front of that bright, mindless, eternally beautiful, artificially *happy* face, was something else. Something that made him ache and twitch and long to see its wire innards strewn about the room like streamers. Something that made what words he'd been able to speak, when directly asked a question, when passed a book of photos, congeal to a hot, hard angry thing in his throat.

He could have held it there, silent and black inside him, while they showed birthday snapshots to the bot, 'reminded' it of things that it, that 'she' had done, years ago. It was fucked-up, it was horrible, but in its way, necessary, if the bot was ever to learn to play the role for people who'd known Buffy. Someday Hank Summers would come calling, just when it was most inconvenient, and better the devil you know, than the one that swoops in and takes Dawn away, someplace where nobody ever knows why she exists at all.

But there was that cake, and there was the childlike frown that was almost the one he remembered, when something wasn't right and she couldn't figure out what it was, and she just *had* to, because dammit, she was Bu-- except it wasn't. There were those candles, and it had to ask if they were going to light them. There was Dawn nodding yes, and Giles producing the lighter from his pocket. No one even asked, no one commented, nobody remaining who hadn't already seen him smoking behind the shop one time or another, when things got bad.

Two flames, and green glass eyes lit up by them, reflecting everyone in the room but Spike, as she bent over the cake. "I blow them out and make a wish, right?"

The smile, the searching of Willow's face for approval. See, I know how to be human, really. "You don't have to make a wish," Willow had said nervously. "That's not really something you can..."

"I know about wishing. You say something that you really want, that you don't have. Like Dawn wishes I was really Buffy." It had bent low over the coffee table, not seeing Dawn's open mouth, wounded eyes, and it had pursed its lips at the flickering fire, and Spike had only wished a little that its plastic hair might swing down into the flame. Then it had blown out the candles and said, "I wish I was, too."

And Spike had stood up while they cut the cake, walked over to the doorway, and punched the wall. "No way in hell," he'd said loudly, looking at no one. "No way in fucking, bloody hell." And then nothing, for the rest of the night. Only because there was nothing left to say.

Giles had, impossibly, kept the evening going. Kept it from becoming any worse than it already had. Stopped the bot from coming near him, with some word so soft even Spike hadn't made it out. Passed the cake, cleared the plates, stacked the photo albums. While Spike stood in the open door, looking out into the night, and no one ventured near him after Xander'd wrapped his hand. Not even Dawn. Especially not Dawn. She'd sat near the bot, sat with Giles, who spoke softly to her. Once, Spike thought he even heard a laugh, though he might have imagined it.

Certainly, Giles had shown no sign of knowing what Spike was feeling. Of sharing it, the helplessness, the hate, the lack of anything to kill. Until now. Now his shell was starting to crack. Fingers tighter on the wheel, foot heavier on the gas pedal as the wind slid past. Still in control, though. Still more calm than Spike had been at any time tonight. There was the irresistible urge to poke at that control -- like the pain in Spike's hand, teasing him to call it back whenever it faded away. Jealousy, poisonous and tasty, like the sick-sweet blood of the diseased.

"Goes to show you what a waste of breath it is, wishing," Spike said, squeezing his fist again, letting the pain ground him in the here and now, the too-comfortable passenger seat of the little sportscar, blinking traffic lights, the dark twisty road that led around and down, past a cemetery and two small subdivisions, to the back entrance of Giles' condo complex. "Though come to think of it, the only breath *it* wasted was on blowing out the candles."
Giles was silent until he pulled the car into its parking spot and turned off the engine. Staring out the windshield, he said with sharp bitterness, "It's not like we haven't all wished the exact same thing the Buffybot did."

"No. Not like that." Spike shook his head, violently, and willed himself to believe the lie. "Never wished that thing was Buffy. Wished it gone, wished her back, wished I'd never had it made in the first place, but *never* wished it was her."

"Of course not. You had it made in Buffy's exact image because you *didn't* want to pretend it was her." Giles' control was definitely fraying now, his words soaked in anger and viciousness.

It washed over him again. All the hatred, all the horror, seeing her face in front of him every night, but -- *not* her. Not Buffy. The deeper horror of how close he kept coming, to almost accepting the thing as... something else. Alive, in its own way. Able to make that wish, and mean it. Wasn't fair, wasn't right. It shouldn't be allowed to wish for something that impossible, that terrible. Something they all wanted that much, and could never have.

He held his answer to a rough bark, unable to put any of it into words that could be spoken with the tongue and not the fist. "That's not what I meant, and you know it."

Giles turned off the engine, unfastened his seat belt and opened the car door, all his movements short and jerky, full of repressed anger and frustration. "Spike, if you-" he began, then visibly stopped himself. When he spoke again, his voice was quieter, tightly reined. "I need a drink. You coming?"

Though he'd heard, Spike didn’t answer, didn‘t move. He looked down at his hand, wondering why Giles even asked. Of course he was coming. He always came, always went in for a drink. Always, good night or bad, almost hopeful or hot, tired, and angry, he drank enough, pushed enough, argued enough that they ended up in bed, and for a while, it seemed like there was something. A chance. That there wouldn't be another day like today.

But there always was, and that broke Spike's paralysis. Propelled him up and out of the car, slammed the door. Spun him round, and suddenly he was kicking at the side of the building. Smashing his boot against it with a fury that raised a small cloud of adobe dust, and a sound that threatened to raise the neighbors, as well. He pulled back his damaged fist, ready to let it fly. Something harder than interior walls, that he could batter and bloody himself against without Dawn there to see him, no one watching him but the Watcher who'd seen it all anyway.

Except he couldn't, because halfway through the punch, there was a hand around his wrist. Firm as iron. The grip held him, and damn if it wasn't something scary to behold, when a vampire couldn't free his wrist from a human's grasp. Spike kicked at the wall again. Started to punch with his free hand, and had that grabbed as well. "Stop it."

"I can't." And that admission, more than anything else, let him know how far gone he was.

The grip on his wrists tightened and he was swung around until he had no choice but to meet intense, angry green eyes. "You can. And you will."

"It's not gonna change," he said, no more control over his mouth than he had for his hands. "We'll go get drunk, we'll shag, we'll pretend, really fucking hard, and in the morning..."

"In the morning, the sun will rise, we'll wake up with hangovers -- or at least I will -- and Buffy will still be gone," Giles finished. "No, that's not going to change. They're still going to need us. That's not going to change either." Giles' words were implacable, uncompromising, as much for himself as for Spike.

"Dunno if I can do it." Go in, he meant. Get drunk, he meant, or pretend to. Get shagged, he meant, let himself go in Giles' arms, something that suddenly felt like a failure, this need that had kept Giles here, kept the both of them coming back again and again. Go on, he meant , though there wasn't any alternative he could fathom.

"You can. Because you need to. There's no giving up on this, not without consequences." Giles let him go abruptly, turning away from him. "If you can live with the consequences of failing, then go. I can't."

Spike raised his arms and turned around, ready to throw that punch at the sunbaked clay, now that he could. And of course, now that it mattered, he couldn't. He let his hands fall to his sides, and walked after Giles, who stood at the edge of his own threshold, waiting. "Can't either," Spike said quietly, standing on the steps. Something he'd never shared, though he'd no doubt Giles had guessed the gist of it by now. "Made a promise."

Giles didn't answer, just met his gaze and held the door open for him, then followed Spike inside before closing and locking it. When that was done, however, Giles didn't move away from the doorway. Instead, he rested his forehead against the wood, everything about his posture telling of a man exhausted and on the verge of emotional breakdown. "Christ, I'm tired," he murmured so softly that only with vampiric hearing were the words audible.

He was tired? *He* was tired? Of this, of life on the hellmouth, of pretending the whole world wasn't a hellmouth? He should bloody well try doing it for the next hundred years, and see how tired he was then. Spike bit back a laugh, not very well; it came out something of a choked yip. Hysterical, like an animal in a trap.

Giles was tired. He was what, forty-six? Forty-eight? And already he was winding down, a human body pushed too far for too long, and who would Spike have, when he was gone? To get drunk with, to smash glasses with, to fall back on a bed and open himself up for because here, at least was someone who understood what a crock it all was? Who would he have then? Spike looked away, unable to watch the bent head, the body wavering between collapse and explosion. Who would he have now, if Giles was just as far gone as he was?

Giles turned his head at the sound of the laugh, and he must've seen something in Spike's expression, because he straightened and walked over, the weariness being pushed aside by worry. "Are you...you're not all right."

"All right?" Spike looked up and laughed again, sharper, though more intentional. Somewhat more intentional. "I can't even... Fuck, I need..." A drink. A fag. Something.

Pressing his lips together in a frown, Giles moved to the liquor cabinet and returned in a moment with a glass of brandy. "Start with that."

Spike tossed it back like water -- and choked on it. *Choked* on it, like it mattered which pipe the stuff went down. How fucking humiliating was it -- and he knew humiliating, if anyone did -- for a vampire to be leaning over, one hand braced against the back of a couch, caught in a coughing fit? He felt a warm hand come to rest against his back, a touch that provided whatever comfort it could, anchoring him in the present. "Yeah, that was a good start," he muttered. The words burned his throat.

"Perhaps a mug of blood instead?"

He snapped his head around quick enough at that - almost quick enough to make him dizzy, after the coughing fit. Saw a film of red before his eyes, for a second, as he pictured ripping into a bag. Saw himself tossing a mug of blood across the room the way they‘d both tossed glasses of whiskey, other times. Saw Giles staring in disapproval at a ruined sofa. Spike laughed, painfully. "Blood... might not be such a hot idea. Not exactly a calming influence."

Head tilted slightly to the side, Giles regarded him, none of the exhaustion or breaks in control evident now. He seemed totally focused on Spike. "What do you need?"

Christ, what a question. What did he need? A world that made sense, an unlife out there causing hell on earth, not fighting it. Not to remember that somewhere, deep in his heart, he'd made the same wish, when those flickering candles had blown out. To lose himself? But no -- he did that every night, and it was always the same, come morning. And no, because he was that close to losing himself now.

"Fuck. I should know? I need -- " Not to fall apart. Not to forget, because it wasn't possible. Not to play the drinking game where he downed one glass every time he pretended it *was*. He squeezed his hand again, and the pain brought focus, a dangerous shard of clarity.

Giles reached out and covered that hand. "You need...to find control?" he suggested.

Spike opened his eyes wide, and almost *felt* the amber flare, the fangs come down. Not quite. Not quite. "You think?"

"Far too much, probably. You need to find control and I..." The slightest mirror of the desperation Spike was feeling was visible in Giles' eyes when his words cut themselves off.

Spike looked again, and saw the same thing he'd been seeing all night -- the shoulders held just so, tight and stiff, the hands so steady that it seemed an illusion -- so still that they were actually vibrating in place, a million times faster than even the sharpest undead eye could see. But now, with one glance, one sentence, something that drew his attention from himself for a moment, that image was flipped. Like the world around him in some funhouse mirror, showing no Spike, but everything else turned inside out.

It wasn't Giles wrestling to hold himself in, to be the rock they'd all, even Spike, come to depend on. It was the other way around. He was somehow still back at that horror of a party, handing out cake while Spike slammed his fist into a solid wall. He *couldn't* stop. Couldn't stop offering to help, to soothe, to give comfort when he had none of his own. Giles was shaking in his skin, trying to get *out*, trying to let go.

And now that Spike saw it, he couldn't un-see it. Couldn't ignore the fact that while he was feeling like he was flying apart, Giles was quietly imploding under the weight of assumed responsibility that he didn't know how to put down.

What a sodding pair. He tested the weight of Giles' gaze, then answered him. "Yeah? What do *you* need?"

Spike watched as Giles' eyes widened minutely at the question, then skittered away from his in sudden nervousness. "I...I need.." he stammered, looking everywhere but at Spike. Even the nerves were controlled, familiar, a script. The flustered librarian, a game Spike honestly thought he'd given up by now.

And suddenly, that mirror flip again. Like a twist of his stomach from the booze, like the weightless, helpless feeling of falling from the top of a tower. Only it wasn't Giles who was flipping, reflecting right-handed and strange, but himself, realigning. He reached up, fast as a striking snake, and grabbed Giles' arm. Squeezing just soft enough not to hurt, just hard enough to draw that slippery gaze back to him. "What do you *need*, Rupert?"

He felt the tremor go though Giles' body, saw the struggle in his eyes, heard it in the way his breathing quickened, but the man didn't look away this time. "To--" Giles' voice caught and his tongue darted out to moisten suddenly dry lips. "To not be in control," he finally managed to get out.

And this... this was something. Something to focus on, something new. Not the body that sometimes gave itself up to lust or fear or need at the same time as Spike, no harm, no foul, nothing to say about it in the morning, but this. Potential shook beneath his hand, steadied his own, as he reached for Giles' opposite shoulder. "Yeah?"

Now Giles did look away as he replied with one telling word. "Please."

It woke something within Spike, something hot and strong and solid as rock -- to hear that word. When was the last time he'd had someone beg him for anything? Even for mercy, even screaming out the last of life to no avail, had been years, lifetimes, silicon chips away. And for something he would grant, wanted to grant? Others had teased it from his lips, or commanded it, but the only ones who'd begged were those whose need made them weak, made the begging worthless. This was nothing like weakness, vibrating in his arms now. This was power, a power he hadn't had in forever, being offered to him.

"Upstairs." It echoed in his head, a memory-ghost.

A full body shudder went through Giles, and some of the tension seemed to drop from his shoulders. He met Spike's gaze for a minute, then bowed his head and moved to obey.

Spike followed, hand upon his back, tracing the stiffness of that spine. An ache of muscle he could almost feel, tight and hot as the ache in his own fingers, the fire in his knuckles. They climbed, a climb they'd made a hundred nights before. The journey felt different though, more charged, the very air seemed to crackle with anticipation around them.

Giles moved towards the bed, and Spike halted him, with a hand in the back of his waistband. "No."

Eventually, yes, but not now. It didn't feel quite right, and oh yeah, Giles stopping like that, sudden and sharp, looking up with only the question of what, then, in his eyes... That was the rush of power, of heat down Spike’s spine. He pulled again, this time at the buckle of Giles' belt, yanking him close. Head down to meet his lips. Giles came willingly, his mouth opening under Spike's, letting the vampire control the kiss. Letting Spike control *him*.

Too long. Too bloody long since he'd had this. The feeling that what happened next was his to decide. Not some military complex, not some hellbent god, not even a tiny blonde woman with the power to crush his dignity beneath her foot, and give it back just by asking him once more through the door of her house. But his, Spike's, to decide. It roared like an explosion through his nerves, and hardened in his jeans like bedrock.

His tongue still possessing Giles' mouth, Spike slid his hands around and claimed ownership of his arse as well, squeezing and drawing the other man tight against him. Stone to stone. The smallest hint of a gasp came from deep in Giles' throat, as he rubbed against Spike, his heat seeming to burn at cold skin even through the barriers of cloth between them.

Spike bit soft, light, at his lower lip. Not even really playing with the chip's pain sensors, however they figured these things out. Just a nip. A gentle reminder of who possessed who, here. Holding himself back not because he had to, but because he could -- then pulling away. For a moment Giles stiffened, as if wanting to resist, but then all at once gave in, letting Spike go. He stood there watching Spike, expression caught halfway between challenge and surrender.

It was easy to see, with eyes that had worn that gaze themselves, so many times. Trapped on the dagger edge between what the body thought it wanted, what the man inside it needed. A look from the right pair of eyes was all it had ever taken to break the spell for Spike -- but for Giles, he suspected a look wouldn't quite be enough. So Spike gave him a word: "Down."

Even then, it took several human heartbeats before the decision was made -- but eventually Giles went down on his knees. And again, he waited, though this time, it was simply to see how Spike would play it. The questioning look told Spike as much. A nod, and Giles would do what Spike intended him to do. Wanted him to do, could scarcely wait for him to do. But a nod, and Giles would be making the decision, no matter that they both knew what it would be.

"Unzip me."

Again there was the heartbeat's pause, before Giles reached out and deftly undid Spike's jeans. That, and nothing more; once the zipper had been lowered, he pulled back, resting his hands on the top of his thighs. Spike looked down, and almost smiled. Not quite, because he wasn't anywhere near a smile; they neither of them were, but almost.

Compliance to the letter, and damn if it didn't make him hot in ways he'd never quite been hot before. He opened his mouth to say, 'Suck it,' heard the porno soundtrack in the back of his head, and thought better of it. Instead, Spike slid his own cock out, hard in his hand and as he pumped it once, twice, growing harder. Giles' gaze focused on his actions, eyes narrowing, but he didn't move, didn't speak.

A thumb, softly swept down the length, to the head. A pursing of Spike’s mouth, licking his own lips. Illustrations. Object lessons. A tiny smile, not light enough, not easy enough to be a tease, but something almost cruel. He watched, and waited.

Giles watched it all intently and Spike even saw his hands twitch, but he remained still. Remained in control. Spike frowned, as it tumbled over in his head, need warring with logic, and coming a hair's breadth from winning. He was made of need, of want, and this scene, Giles on his knees, waiting for the order, holding himself in, was made for him. For a vampire who'd lost the one thing that made being dead and walking worthwhile: the power he would never have tasted, as a fragile human fool.

But. Giles still and trembling. Waiting for his command. Controlling himself, as Spike was barely able to do, looking at him like that. So, what the hell had changed, then? This was…wrong. It wasn't Giles he needed power over, Giles he needed to stop from slamming his fist into walls and scaring the children. And Giles, reining himself in on command rather than because he had to, wasn't any less likely to crack down the center, was he.

"C'mere," Spike said, but it was an invitation, nothing more. It was an invitation that was immediately accepted, Giles leaning in to put his mouth on Spike, but he stopped when he felt Spike’s hand on his shoulder. He looked up, one eyebrow raised in question and there it was again, that iron control, even in submission. "This isn't going to work," Spike said, drawing the man to his feet. "Not for what you want."

Perhaps it was stubbornness, as much as control. Stubborn, he could understand, though how it always managed to become 'determined' on Giles, he'd never know, or judge as fair. "I can do this."

Spike shook his head. "I know you can. Not the point." He traced the side of a strong-set chin. "That's not letting yourself go; it's just handing me the leash."

For a moment it looked like Giles was going to argue the point, but then he turned away and Spike glimpsed resignation in his eyes as he did. "It may be the closest I can get," he admitted in soft voice, raw with emotion.

"No." Spike snagged his arm. Determined, stubborn, stupid as a snake, didn't really matter when they all came out the same. Something was going to give, one of them was going to explode, and he was damn well going to do his best to make sure it was here, now, away from anybody who might get hit by the shrapnel when it happened. "Got to be a way."

Giles ran his hands through his hair and laughed, the sound bitter and strained. "Well I haven't found it yet. I can't. I tried--"

Spike could feel the frustration, knew it like the back of his stinging hand, and it gnawed at him. "Let me try, then," he offered simply, nudging Giles towards the bed. "I fuck it up, you can feel free to explode all over the walls. Then I'll punch holes in 'em and we can tell everybody you just felt like redecorating."

That got another laugh, still with the edge of hysteria in it, though it was warmer for all of that. "I trust it won't come to that." Smokey green eyes sought out his own. "You're not going to fuck it up."

But there were so *many* opportunities for it, he thought as he pushed Giles firmly back against the bed, then down. So many ways to throw off the strange balance they had going here, of want and need and mutual regret. Rupert's conscience, Spike's electric leash. The easiest, most obvious of them was what he was doing right now. Unbuttoning Giles' shirt, slapping his hands away. Undressing his lover and then himself, with Giles lying back on the bed, watching him. Bemused, confused, and not completely trusting, no matter what he said.

He couldn’t be, when the first wrong move could leave Spike screaming and clutching his skull, and at best, they'd be back where they'd started, at worst... "I think you underestimate my talent for this sort of thing," Spike murmured as he rested his knee on the mattress.

"Maybe," Giles agreed, watching Spike and making no more move to reach out or help. "Or you underestimate your ability to always do what is necessary."

Spike paused in removing his shirt, then pulled it roughly over his head and launched it at the corner of the loft. "Yeah? So it was *necessary* to ruin the kid's chance to have a peaceful little... whatever the hell that was supposed to be?"

Giles shifted, staring up at the ceiling. "There was nothing necessary about that...whatever the hell it was supposed to be."

Spike paused in bending to untie his boots. That...wasn't what he'd expected to hear. "Then why the fuck were we there?"

"Because the last time I wasn't there, they decided it would be a good idea to resurrect the dead." Giles was still staring at the ceiling, his words sharp, his tone flat.

Spike scuffed off his boots in a half-daze, trying to formulate a reaction to that. Any. Anything that made sense in his head. He stood in front of the bed, jeans still unzipped and clinging to his hips by the narrowest of grips. "You... don't trust *them*." These months, he'd imagined he'd seen something else going on in Giles' head -- the rest of them earning back his faith, his forgiveness for not trusting *him* to know the right thing to do when it came to that grave out there in the woods. But that wasn't it at all.

"I...can't trust them." The admission was obviously a costly one. Giles couldn't trust them, so he was watching them. Making sure he would be there to step in the next time they tried to do something insane. Taking responsibility not only for his own actions, but theirs as well.

There were any number of things Spike could say to that. 'Serves you right' might be one, if he were feeling cruel. Serves you right for even thinking you could leave, for imagining the world's not full of idiots, and the ones you love not twice the worst of all. Or 'ha, at least I knew.' Hadn't known what they were planning, but he'd known the lengths they'd go, the sharp edge of stupidity they walked on because they thought being in bodies that were old enough to fuck meant they were grown-ups now. Of course he knew it -- how fucking far was he from it, himself? The span of a battered hand.

What he said, though, was "Sorry," as he skinned his jeans down past his knees and kicked them off.

"So am I." The voice was weary and Spike could see the knowledge of all the things he hadn't said in Giles' eyes. "I just...want to be able to let it go for a little while. But--"

"But it's hard." Spike crawled the length of the bed to stare down at him, one knee planted between Giles' loosely spread legs. "Ever occur to you it might be easier to let go with somebody you actually *can* trust?"

"Of course." Giles' mouth curved slightly up into a wry smile. "That's what I'm trying to do."

Again, not what he'd expected. Spike gave him a hard stare. "I thought you were smarter than that. You think just because I can't bite you--"

Giles overrode him, meeting his gaze seriously. "I trust you." Then the smile was back. "I quite possibly may be insane to do so, but..."

"You're not insane; you're an imbecile." Spike lowered his mouth to Giles' throat in a move so quick, there'd be blood in his stomach before Giles could widen his eyes, if there hadn't been a chip. If he'd wanted. He sucked, just hard enough to make a point.

Giles gasped, one hand coming up to tangle in Spike's hair as he actually arched into the touch. When he pulled away, Giles fell back with something like disappointment on his face, and Spike shook his head.

"Imbecile," he growled softly.

"You're welcome."

"It's not a compliment." But somewhere, it was. Some place between his teeth and his gut. "Wanker." He dropped to cover Giles' mouth with his. It opened at his touch, Giles' tongue darting out to slide along Spike's lips.

Spike fought it with his own, struggling for some imagined dominance that Giles had already offered, and he'd already turned down, hadn't he? But this was so much better, so much closer, fighting to earn that control. He caught Giles' hand where it was reaching again for his hair, and pinned it back against the pillows, hard. Same with the other, the weight of his arms, shoulders, pressing Giles’ hands back and down. Giles struggled against his hold, but Spike recognized it as merely a desire to feel the strength holding him down. There wasn't that edge of desperation that would've been there if he was seriously trying to get free.

That was -- not quite *it*, but close. The right direction. He bit without biting, at Giles tongue, at his lips. At his chin and down his throat, back to the place where the dark red mark was already stark against his skin. Spike sucked again. He got a muffled sound somewhere between a growl and a moan as Giles bucked upwards, pressing against the grip Spike held him in.

Fire and ache, flaring again, as his belly pressed against Spike's cock, and Spike pressed him down again, with the rest of his body. Skin rubbing skin, hardness against Spike’s hip, muscles still tight and shuddering beneath him. Giles continued to move under him, half struggle, half encouragement.

This wasn't a game he got to play often. Being on top. Holding Giles down. Lead too straight a path to things he hadn't dared try, and didn't want to say. Didn't matter; Giles knew. Unspoken agreement, that it ended in rubbing or sucking or rolling bodies and Giles looking down at him before reaching for the lube. It wasn't a game he *wanted* to play often, because unspoken or not, it was always there - something he couldn't do. That fulcrum point of knowing, when he rolled off and they both gave up pretending... Easier just to bottom from the start.

This, though - this was... ache and push and something so right, Giles underneath him staring up glassy eyed in need. Of him. Of someone to take control, give him something to struggle against. Arms strong enough to contain him, if he flew apart. This was Giles, trusting Spike. This was himself, pushing the edges of his fear.

Just how far he was going to push it, how far Giles would trust him, he was trying not to dwell on. Though the way Giles was arching up against him, straining against his grip, was making it difficult to keep those thoughts out of his mind. He moved up and stared down at wide, fiery eyes. Searching for some answer that he could have, without having to ask.

What Giles saw, looking back at him, he couldn't know, would never see. Narrowed eyes, raised brow? The scar that marked him as a killer of Slayers, or the hidden face beneath the skin, that marked him as the thing that Slayers killed? Or the questions that Spike wouldn't, couldn't ask. Whatever it was, whatever he saw, Giles shut his eyes -- and when he opened them, there was no question in them at all -- which was answer enough for Spike.

Giles' gaze remained on his, his body still now beneath Spike's, save for minute tremors that showed just how tightly he was wound. "I let you go, what happens?" Spike asked, voice low and catching in his throat. Hands in his hair? Ripping the sheets? To do this, to do it safe and easy and headache free, he needed stillness, at least for a start. And not the sort that hummed beneath him now, ready to spring into movement in the space of a breath.

"Don't." The word was half order, half plea. Giles licked his lips and the tremors going through his body got stronger.

Spike darted down to nip at a soft, slick lower lip. "Can't do much else," he said after a second, "if I'm stuck up here holdin' your hands down." He lowered himself, ground their bodies together. Left no issue of what else he had in mind.

Giles breathed in sharply. "You could...tie me up."

Talk about lack of control -- just hearing the words in that voice, full of strain and need, almost made Spike lose himself. Not yet, he growled at his own wayward body. Not nearly yet. "That…could be a thing." He glanced at the bureau. "Ties? Socks?" He paused. "Cuffs?" He knew what drawer they were in, how to twist the chain to break them if he had to. Had felt them clasp around his own wrists more than once, but never had the pleasure of snapping them round Giles'.

He could feel Giles' body react to the question. "Cuffs...would be satisfactory."

Images spun in his head, and Spike knew that for the understatement it was. He leaned forward, an extra bit of pressure on Giles' wrists. "I let up to go get 'em, you gonna make a break for it?" he asked, only half joking.

"You'll have to try and see." There was a dangerous glint in Giles' eyes.

Spike matched him glint for glint, not letting Giles realize how close that look came -- how close it always came -- to getting him off right then and there. Then he straightened up, and pulled his hands away from Giles' wrists. They remained where he'd pinned them; in fact Giles remained totally motionless, only his gaze following Spike's movements.

Sliding off the bed was an experience in itself, since the thrumming of Giles' muscles beneath him had Spike half convinced he'd be tackled and grabbed the second he turned his back to walk to the bureau. That wasn't a bad thing, any other night, but wouldn't end up being what either of them needed now.

But he made it to the bureau without a sound from behind him, not a creak of the bed. Bottom left drawer, steel and leather wrist restraints, silk ties, and any number of pretties he considered and dismissed in an instant as too much, too fussy, too complicated for this. Back to the bed with the scant handful of what he *did* need, and Giles was silent and still, watching him.

He placed his handful on the bedside table, and pulled out one of the cuffs. Looked at the hole that the buckle had worn wide, and didn't hold back a small, not quite bitter grin, when he wrapped it around Giles' left wrist and had to set it two holes closer to the end. He wondered how long, since anyone had done this. Wrapped leather and metal around those wrists, bound Rupert Giles with his blessing. Ever? Spike couldn't be the first, yet in some ways, it was hard to imagine the man holding his wrists out for anyone. Even as it was happening.

Spike felt the deep shiver that went through Giles as the cuff was fastened, felt him tremble even harder when he fastened the next one around Giles' right wrist. All of Giles' stubborn control seemed bent on holding himself still as he was bound. His scent, the look on his face, even the sound of his breathing were full of conflicted emotions: unease, arousal, and above everything else a desperate need.

But that didn't make it easy to submit. A bright metallic click as one chain snapped into a place on the headboard that Spike had only known before by what direction his own arms were straining. Then another click, and he was staring down at a Rupert Giles who had given over control to *him*. To Spike. Voluntarily.

Giles tugged experimentally on his restraints, making the chains rattle. When he felt their strength, he went boneless, seeming to let go of some of the tension that Spike was only now realizing the man had been carrying for months. Or… longer? The question itched behind his lips, tapped at his teeth to be let out. "How long?"

A muscle in Giles' jaw twitched and his mouth pressed in a thin line as if holding in the answer.

Spike drew a finger slowly across his throat. Light, barely any pressure at all, just feeling the muscles straining not to speak. "How long since you let loose? Since there was somebody you could do this with?"

"Years." He felt the vibration of the grudgingly given answer under his finger. "Decades."

"Yeah?" Spike didn't let the surprise show in his voice, that the wild glint he was watching now had been kept hidden for so long without the top of someone’s head blowing off. "Best be careful then, hadn't I?" He trailed his fingers down from Giles' throat, to his collarbone-- then raked both hands straight down his chest, pressing lightly with his nails. Giles arched into the touch reflexively, but stifled the gasp that it engendered. Still unable to let go of himself completely.

Soft marks on his skin; Spike hadn't pressed hard enough to risk... well, anything, but certainly not a headache. The sort of marks that sting *after* the shock of touch wears away. Or if someone were to bring his head down and trace one straight red mark after another, with the tip of a cool, wet tongue. Another gasp, this one hissed through clenched teeth, as Giles shifted restlessly beneath him, the chains clattering in counterpoint.

The sounds, the little gifts of release, and the signal of things withheld, made Spike impatient. More impatient, since god knew, patience and Spike had never been words to share space on anybody's lips. Impatient to take what had already been offered, impatient to push Giles to the point of insanity or relaxation where the offer wouldn't, no matter how well meant, result in pain of the unwanted sort for either of them.

He braced a hand on Giles' hip, drew the other in lazy patterns down his stomach. Lazy. Slow. Easy. While it was eating him up inside. Because pushing it wasn’t an option. If what he'd needed was to grab his lover's cock, grind their bodies together, pump until they were both spent... then shoving his fist into a wall would have been enough in the first place. And it wasn't.

The muscles under his hand twitched in reaction, and again the chains rattled with movement. Giles' eyes when Spike looked up were dark and full of need, and though he remained stubbornly silent, the restless shifting of his hips and legs, placing his feet flat on the bed and using the leverage to arch upwards, was a mute but clear plea for more contact.

"Nice," Spike whispered. "Got no idea how you look, like this, do you." Wanting. Open. Helpless by choice.

"I-" Giles' tongue darted out to lick at his lips nervously, clearly made uncomfortable by the question, by Spike just staring at him. Still he met the vampire's eyes with a glint of challenge in his own. "Tell me."

Spike laughed, sharply, then knelt up and scraped his gaze down Giles' body, needy eyes to heaving chest, to cock that, bereft of Spike's weight pressing against it, shot up stiffly, begging to be touched. "Like you never heard of tweed," Spike said with a tiny grin. He played casually with the soft gray hair on Giles' chest, followed the trail down his belly, but stopped there, despite the flash of irritation in Giles' eyes. "Like you've never worn anything but leather in your life."

Giles snorted a laugh, the sound sharp, holding the edge of dark memories. "There was a time that would have been true."

That edge was a sweet one, and it set Spike thrumming - but this was *his* moment, looking down at Giles, like this. It didn't belong to whoever -- and he had his suspicions, a name that brought fondness and flint to Giles' voice when it was spoken -- had been trusted enough to be here once, and had lost that privilege, long ago.

"Like you're mine." He reached down now, and grabbed that hard, needy cock by the base. "To do whatever I want with."

With a loud groan, Giles bucked into the touch, back arching off the bed as he did so. "Yes," he hissed, whether in reaction to Spike's words or the touch, Spike wasn't sure.

"Like this," Spike growled, reaching down to cradle Giles' balls with the other hand. He squeezed, easy, but firm. Then a bit harder. Giles froze as the grip tightened, becoming absolutely still save for the movement of his chest as he panted for breath. "Yeah. Like that." Spike slid his cock-holding hand slowly up the shaft, and bent down to bring his lips a breath away from the head. A breath that he blew in a cool whisper across hot flesh -- then let go.

Both hands free, he listened to the sigh of disappointment, cut off at the end, as if Giles suddenly realized how desperate he sounded. Then Spike leaned over to the table and retrieved the other thing he'd brought back from the bureau. Giles followed his movements, half curious, half lost in want, and Spike held it up for him to see.

If possible, Giles' eyes turned a darker green when he caught sight of the lube. Without a word, he spread his legs wider, another blatant offer of himself, of control.

It took equal portions of fear and pride -- or stubbornness -- for Spike not to miss the point entirely, and lose himself in taking what was offered, without anything like control at all. He forced himself not to rip the cap off the tube, not to move with the speed that he *could*, that his undead body was made for.

Pride, that he'd calmed himself this much, that it was Giles, willing and wanton under him, and himself staring down, holding still. Fear that he'd cock it all up with one false move, and they'd never trust each other -- or themselves -- again, and then who would be left to count on? And stubborn… well, that part, he’d come into the world with.

He unscrewed the cap slow and easy. Slicked his fingers far more than he should need, than he remembered ever needing. But that was why he'd grabbed the full tube in the first place, instead of relying on the one in the bedside drawer. Taking enough chances as it was -- so they'd best be the *right* ones. Not the stupid ones.

Spike looked up to catch Giles watching him, and quirked his lip, as he held up slick, dripping fingers. The liquid slid down over his knuckles, reminding him of the scraped, stinging skin, and cooling it at the same time. "Look good, then?" he asked, almost amusedly. Pretended amusement, while inside, the animal part of him insisted that he didn't have time for teasing, no time for power games, just take, take, now now now.

"That depends. Are you planning on doing something with that?" It sounded like he wasn't the only one having trouble with patience. But that was good, wasn't it? He wanted Giles needy, wanting, even demanding if it meant the man was losing himself in the moment. And it seemed he was coming closer. That voice had been raspy, almost annoyed, emotion barely held in check.

Spike reached down and gently stroked the inside of one spread thigh. "Thought I might, yeah." He felt Giles' leg twitch, and moved his hand further down, slippery fingers sliding over hot flesh, to the place where his hands had last been. Smooth, teasing the skin behind Giles' balls, marveling at how hot it was, how it felt as if the tips of his fingers were melting.

"Yes," Giles breathed, then gave a heartfelt groan. "More." And *that* was most definitely a demand.

Spike acquiesced to it immediately, though slowly. Patiently. To outward appearances, at least. He trailed his fingers left, right, a meandering path downwards that had Giles quivering by the second not-quite-there-yet sweep across sensitive flesh -- and probably calling Spike all sorts of names that never passed his lips. Eventually, he stroked a finger lightly across Giles' opening. Just one, a swift, breath-light movement, then pulled it away, just as quickly.

Giles' swift intake of breath ended in a whimper when Spike pulled away. "Spike," he all but growled.

Spike showed teeth, in a grin or a growl or *something* that welled up in him at the sound Giles made, though he didn't let his own reply come grinding from his throat. He reached for the lube again, squeezing far too much. Dripping it down his finger, letting it fall on Giles' skin, just where his finger had so lately touched.

The moan that followed was everything he could've asked for, and made his hands want to tremble as he brought one finger back to Giles' body, and slid it across his entrance, once more. The chains creaked as Giles tried to push himself more firmly against the touch.

Nownownow warred with the desire to revel in the power he'd been granted, and neither quite won out. Spike pressed gently down, not hard enough to push in, but hard enough that the next unsatisfied movement from Giles did the work for him, swallowed the tip of his finger into heat and tightness.

Giles froze absolutely still for a second. Then, breath coming out in a low moan, he resumed his movements, obviously desperate for more. Spike gave it to him, little by little. Not so much care as cowardice, he admitted deep within himself. Too long, since he'd done this, and never since he'd had to worry about even the most incidental pain. No intent to harm was one thing, when it referred to blows he knew in advance he was going to pull, another when he knew it *could* happen, as quick as the lightning that could fry his brain at any second, yet he chased the edge of the storm, anyway.

But Giles wanted, Giles practically tugged at him, so, slow or not, he slid in up to the first knuckle, then the second. Easy and smooth, slippery finger surrounded by warmth. Giles moaned again, and when Spike looked up all he could see in the man's face was arousal and need. The second finger, then, if anything even slower, waiting as muscle stretched around him, tightened and relaxed. Sliding out, then in, feeling from the inside as Giles moved. Freezing, when he moved too fast, strained too aggressively to pull Spike in further.

"Easy," he warned, though he felt ridiculous for saying it, as if either one of them were any sort of new to this.

"Don't want easy," Giles snarled. He strained to move closer, to bring Spike in deeper.

"I get that," Spike ground out through teeth that he hadn't clenched in panic, no, not him. "But ‘hurts me more that it hurts you‘ isn‘t a platitude here. Too much, and I'm on the floor, and you're chained to the bed without even an in-flight magazine to read while you wait for me to come to."

It wasn't that he didn't *want* to go on, push harder, play rougher. He did the best he could, moved his fingers slightly, then curved them in. Reached for and found the place that had Giles writhing. Moan and growl and all of it incoherent. Hips moving up, down, for leverage, to push and pull, and Spike turned and twisted his fingers, nervous and pleased at once, that he was able to do this. Make Giles lose it, and keep pace, himself, keep them both safe.

And Giles was losing it, head thrown back, mouth open as he panted for breath, eyes dark and glazed with pleasure. "More," he demanded again, obviously not thinking beyond what he was feeling, not worrying about what could go wrong. Trusting Spike.

More, Spike’s animal self, his demon self agreed, was a good thing. More was his cock, hard and eager and long past ready. More was entering and claiming fully what had been offered to him. Power, control, something long lost but never forgotten. More, Spike firmly informed that instinct, was no such thing -- because power and control weren't the same thing at all, and never had been, even if it had taken him a century to learn it. He slipped another finger carefully, slowly, within.

Giles was moaning almost constantly now as Spike moved his fingers deftly, stretching him, carefully fucking him. Spike doubted the man was even aware of the sounds he was making, not with the way he seemed lost in what Spike was doing to him, hips moving roughly against Spike‘s hand, mutely encouraging a faster, rougher touch.

Nownownow, is now soon enough? Now? Voice of the monster at his core, voice of his hundred years gone self who wouldn't have known the difference, voice of his silent and waiting cock, Spike didn't know, but it was there. And perhaps now was soon enough, after all. Spike curved his fingers again, then straightened them, and began to slide them out.

"No!" Giles protested immediately, yanking on his chains so hard the headboard creaked. "No," he repeated, eyes dark with passion and desperate need seeking out Spike's. "Please...don't stop. I need..."

Spike paused, Giles' movements too erratic for him to risk moving right now even if he *hadn't* been asking Spike to stop. Which request made no sense, but the man could perhaps be forgiven for that, as far gone as he was. "Wasn't stopping -- just...trading places."

Giles shook his head. "No," he said again. "Spike, please...I need more."

For a moment, Spike honestly didn't know what he meant. Almost took insult, almost laughed, too puzzled and too tightly wound to do either. Then he understood, but was sure he had to be wrong, had to be hearing things, had to be crazy, or one of them was. 'You can't mean what I think you mean,' he meant to say, but it came out, "You don't know what you're asking."

"I know." Giles yanked on the chains, wrapping his hands around the links. He raised his head enough to meet Spike's gaze, sense and awareness in his own, along with the need and passion. "Do I need to say the words?"

The words? Fuck. How ludicrous was that? How ludicrous -- how surreal -- was it to be standing here with three fingers in the man's arse, frozen, staring at him, trying to form words to explain why what he was asking wasn't even possible?

The memory of fire and stars flared in his head. The first time he'd been in this bed. On the other side of the mirror, lying where Giles was now, on his back, legs spread wide, eyes no doubt as crazed with lust and that deeper need they seldom ever named. Giles as rock-steady and careful as Spike could only hope he was being now.

Even then, it had exploded within him, the sweetness of it, the pain. Something he'd needed, coasted through and over on a wave of feeling so right, so filled, so... He could understand. He could. But there was no way in hell that he could do the same for Giles. No way in hell that it wouldn't hurt. No way in hell that -- just no way in hell. Period.

“No. Giles, I *can't*. You know that."

"Yes you *can*." Giles' voice was fierce, uncompromising, as were his eyes. "I wouldn't ask if you couldn't. Trust me, Spike. Please. I need...need that intensity."

"Trust you?" It wasn't a matter of trusting *Giles*. There wasn't - and it rocked him a bit to realize it -- even a question of whether he did. He couldn't predict what the others, what the young ones, even what Dawn would do. Couldn't trust them any more than Giles could. Knew they meant well, but knew exactly which road was paved by people like them. Giles, though -- for all he didn't know about the man, each secret that hadn't been given on either side -- Giles, he could trust, to be fragile and stupid and stubborn in ways that Spike *understood*.

"It's not about trusting *you* -- I don't fucking well trust *me*."

"*I* trust you. You can do this." Giles gave him a look that was pure desperation and his voice cracked on the next question. "Do I need to beg?"

Another time, Spike would have said yes. Another time, maybe he would, that same no way in hell other time when Giles decided to get down on his knees again, hand Spike the leash, and heel. But this wasn't it. He didn't need begging to turn him on, to crank him up, to push him over the edge.

"No." He caught Giles' gaze. Held it, as steady as he was able. Steadier than he felt, behind his own eyes. "You don't need to beg." He slid his fingers out, almost all the way -- then silently added the fourth.

The groan that Giles let out at that had as much relief in it as desperate arousal. "Yes, just like that," he gasped between panting breaths, spreading his legs wider and moving his hips into the penetration.

There were things Spike didn't want to know about Rupert Giles. The sounds he might make while dying were, oddly, on that list. Yet, as he let Giles himself guide the movement of his fingers, the stretch and pull and burn of flesh around them an echo of what Giles must have felt once, a reflection of what he must be feeling now... Spike suspected he knew those sounds. Words interspersed with them, words like "Good," and "Please," and "More," and Giles' body was saying the same things just as loudly.

'Good' was good, and 'please' was something like music that shivered along Spike's nerve endings, but 'more'? More was huge and black and far more dangerous than one vampire with a silicon invader in his skull, and made him feel as helpless as he ever had. Helpless as he'd felt hours ago, hand plunged deep into the wall, pain throbbing in his knuckles like heat throbbed there now, biting his tongue to stop from saying anything worse than he already had.

He closed his eyes and listened to the ragged sound of Giles' breath. The heavy beat of a human heart sped up, moving to a rhythm that pulsed around his fingers, tried to draw him along, draw him in, drown out the fear that pounded in his own head.

Had he fallen so far, then? That helpless, that useless, that small? Sleeping with the enemy, in so many meanings of the phrase that he'd lost the sense of what the last word even meant -- that was nothing. It was doing what he had to. It was changing with the times. But this -- this fear of his own abilities, his own body, his own *hands* ... "Tell me you want it," he growled softly, at himself as much as Giles. That much of the words, at least, he needed. "Tell me you want my hand, inside you."

A shudder rippled the length of Giles’ body at the question and he groaned ever louder. "Yes," he hissed. "Please. I want. I need. Spike...your hand, please."

"Yeah." Any meaningless sound from Spike’s mouth would have done as well, but that was the one that came out. Less than poetic, but good enough for somebody who'd found better things to do with his hands than scribble. Good enough for Giles, who relaxed against his fingers as if they did this every night, as if there was nothing to be afraid of at all. Spike opened his eyes, and moved his thumb. Drizzled and slicked and folded and pushed, slow and simple and sure, and in.

Mouth open in a silent shout, Giles went completely still, not even seeming to breathe. It was as if he was so totally focused on what Spike was doing that everything else had just....stopped.

He couldn't *not* be in pain - even if it was that screaming, blissful pain that made everything right, made everything else not matter. Yet there was nothing in Spike's head to match it. Not even a buzz, not a flicker. Nothing but rushing warmth from his groin, and the echoing of a heartbeat that couldn't possibly be that loud, and quiet amazement as his hand slid even further in. Sore knuckles encased in soft, firm flesh. Bathed in fire. Like that, with no effort at all, he slipped in, past the flare of width at his palm, up to the wrist. Welcomed.

Giles gave a shuddering gasp, then another and another, until he was panting harshly, almost sobbing for air. Minute tremors shook his muscles and he seemed to be trembling on the edge something big, seemed to be on the verge of flying apart.

Here, now. Spike was absolutely still, realizing where he stood. Or knelt, rather. Here, now, he had the power to do this to Rupert Giles. Rupert "I lose control for nothing but death" Giles, who even when he cut loose with fists, with words, even when the glint of an old nickname shined through the civilized mask, always knew what he was doing. Meant every action, every reaction.

Where Spike was now, if he cared to, he could hurt, and judging by Giles' abandonment of sense, the thing that sparked in his brain wouldn't even hurt him back. But there was no urge to do so, to take advantage of that. There was only that silent amazement, even from the dead thing that lived in the gold of his eyes, the animal thing that roared behind his ribs in place of a heart. Amazement, and the need to take Giles wherever it was he was going. Carefully, smoothly, Spike bent his fingers and stroked.

Giles' whole body jerked like he was being hit with an electric current, and he cried out, the sound wild and desperate. Shaking almost violently, he shouted again, and Spike saw the last of the man's control shatter, catching a glimpse of the maelstrom in his soul as it did. Red and raw as an open wound, black as the place behind Spike’s eyes , times he'd closed them and believed himself truly alone -- and it burned as bright as the electric fire in Spike's head. He might have mistaken it for such, if he hadn't been kneeling there still, open-eyed, staring at the man laid bare for him. Cracked open to the core.

In the center of all that, inside where it was still sweet and tight and burning, he cupped his hand -- almost expecting to be able to see it, as he could see everything else within Giles at this moment -- and stroked again. Stroked until the shudders reached a fever pitch, couldn't get any faster, any rougher, all the energy and violence Giles had been seeking, done by his own body, reacting to Spike's steady hand. Throwing his head back, mouth wide in another silent scream, Giles came.

Free hand braced on a hip gone rigid, Spike folded his fingers in and withdrew, smooth and sure. Now, when there was nothing of Giles that was free to notice the passage of wrist or knuckles. He didn't look down at his hand, though, as he pulled. Right at the end of his wrist where it always was, after all, and the next time he put it through a wall, he'd remember, and bloody well do it because he intended to.

Now, he watched the face of his lover, lost and found at once, and in the finding, saw something he hadn't seen for more than a hundred years, in the glassy depths of Giles' wide open eyes. Himself.

For a brief instant the glassiness left Giles' eyes and they focused on him, and there was so much in that gaze that Spike couldn't even begin to describe all that he saw. Then Giles' body went totally limp-- as he passed out.

Spike blinked for a second, listening for breathing and heartbeat, and when he was sure he heard both, he looked down at his hand, and laughed. It wasn't funny. Not funny at all. Hotter than he could have believed, to see Giles lying silent and still, wrung out and empty as a dead man, still fastened to the head of the bed.

Except somewhere in his head Spike could hear a female voice accusing him of killing her Watcher, and just see if she didn't come back and haunt him for the rest of his days -- and what wouldn’t they both of them give, if she really would? So he laughed, as he placed his hand on his own untended erection, and brought himself off with a handful of rapid jerks, watching Giles all the while.

It wasn't long before Giles stirred, eyelids fluttering briefly before opening. He looked at Spike for a moment, then up at the chains that still were bound around his wrists. "Could you...?" he asked, voice hoarse from the earlier exertion.

"What, let you go?" Spike asked more lightly than he'd thought he could manage, even as he crawled to the head of the bed. His knees protested a workout he hadn't put them through, grumpy at having held so still, so long. "Now that I've got you at my mercy?" He shook his head in mock rue, as he undid one cuff, then the other. "Should be savouring the moment, here."

"You or I?" Giles' mouth curved up slightly in a sardonic smile, which disappeared into an involuntary wince as he lowered his arms, then lightly rubbed his wrists where the restraints had been fastened.

Spike rolled over to his side and fell against the pillows with a heavier thud than he was expecting. As if his whole body were as worn out as his knees were pretending to be. As knackered as Giles obviously was. In a way, it made sense - everything Giles had been holding in for ages, he'd let loose -- and Spike had been keeping still for both of them. No wonder he was suddenly exhausted. "I should. You in chains and all. But might just get some sleep, and let you savour for the both of us."

"Maybe in the morning," Giles murmured around a yawn. "Sounds far too energetic for me right now."

Spike spared the energy to raise an eyebrow at him. "Afterglow is too energetic for you?"

"At this point breathing is almost too energetic for me." The smile was back.

"You could always join the evil undead; breathing's entirely optional, and there's that free toaster for every past-it ex-good guy we recruit." He managed it with a straight face and no yawn, only because he'd closed his eyes and couldn't see Giles' reaction, and because breathing was, as advertised, optional.

"Spike." The quiet address was enough to make Spike open his eyes again. Giles had turned his head to look at him, gaze still far more unguarded than Spike was used to seeing. "Thank you," he said softly.

If he'd been awake enough, Spike would have frozen, then squirmed, then made some crack about just being in it for the toaster. At least he comforted himself with that thought. As it was, he simply blinked once, then didn't say the same thing back. Said nothing at all, but shifted towards a warm, sweat-slick shoulder that was as good a place to rest his head as any other.

As he closed his eyes again, a light breath stirred the damp hair on his forehead. "And I'll show you who's past it." Where Giles dug up the strength to imbue the whisper with a growl, Spike hadn't the slightest clue. He was already drifting away, though, and couldn't wake up enough to laugh when he heard the softer epilogue, "Tomorrow."

END