Community Service
written by Ruth


Rating: FRM
Spoilers: None indicated.
Summary: Answer to Gileswench's 'Watcher's bath-time fun' challenge.
Thanks: Thanks to my beta readers Rari and Gail. I'll save you both a towel to dry him off with…
Feedback Author: Ruth



Aah. Nothing like being waited on hand and foot after a lifetime of service. Especially when the waiter-upon knows how to keep the bath water at just the right heat, and the foam at the exact balance of frothy luxury and sandalwood-scented hedonism. Mmm.

Sometimes, a little magick, solely for the sake of it, really didn't do any harm: small stuff, for pleasure or gain.

"Admit it. You pulled strings, Rupert." There wasn't much rancour in the purring velvet voice, only the flavour of amusement and rue.

"You're paying your debt to society. That's good enough for them. And me."

"How precisely do you represent the whole of 'society'? Is it just your usual brand of pretension to the moral high ground?"

"I simply persuaded the authorities that, since you had to be repatriated, I was the best person to keep an eye on you; that I would direct what talents you have to…constructive pursuits. Because I know what your talents are." The last few words were a carefully enunciated, low-voiced invitation. The reply, lower still, was assent and promise.

"You certainly do. *Ripper*."

The talented one gracefully draped thick white towels, made from the finest Egyptian cotton, over the heated towel rail. His every movement was economical grace, balancing on the balls of his feet, loose-limbed, easy.

He'd made himself completely at home.

The master of the house continued to lie full-length in the giant, claw-footed, cast iron bath-tub, as authentic as all the fittings in the room: in the entire flat, in fact, converted as it was from the middle two storeys of a stone-built Bath town house.

In the best traditions of the Spa town in which he'd been born, Giles was taking the cure. Long, relaxing soaks in rejuvenating, healing hot water. Civilised conversation about music, literature and art. Uncivilised, but tremendously enjoyable, sniping matches about philosophy and what passed in Ethan's mind for ethics.

Something was missing, however, and it wasn't partaking of the Spa waters. Heaven forefend: disgusting mineral sludge.

"Ethan, get the basket from underneath the window, would you?"

It was funny how, even in apparent humbled submission, Ethan still managed to give the impression that he was doing just as he liked; that he wasn't relinquishing an ounce of true control. An impression not at all dismissed as he sauntered at his own speed to the basket in question and bent, slowly, shifting from one foot to the other so that his tight-fitting jeans squeezed his rear to advantage. He could sense the tracking of a pair of grey-green eyes following every flexing muscle, down to his well-formed thighs and calves, watching his biceps bunching under his rolled-up shirtsleeves, filling them to perfection.

"So, what's in here, then? Looks like a load of old…well, well, well." He chuckled, and drew out something from the depths, a relic which hadn't seen the light of day in thirty years or more. Standing, turning, holding it in front of his face, Ethan crooked a smile; then he pursed his lips into a kiss shape, holding Giles' gaze all the while, and blew gently along the length of a sunshine yellow, cartoony-rounded, toy submarine.

Despite the magickally enduring heat, Giles shivered. Ethan began to sing in a creaky baritone and he cut in with his own crystal clean tenor:

"So we sailed into the sun, till we found the sea of green, and we lived beneath the waves, in our yellow submarine…"

"As we live…a life of ease, "Giles sang, skipping some of the lyrics and waving an arm expansively from his chest to his big toe where it wiggled just above the waterline in time to the beat.

"Every one of us…has all we need, "Ethan chimed in, as he approached the tub. He wound up the mechanism and set the sub in the water, where it took a lopsided trajectory from Giles' left knee to his right armpit. He reached across himself and picked it up, ready to re-wind it.

"Do you remember…"

"I remember…"

They started at once, and then grinned as one. Ethan indicated with a mocking tilt of his head that Giles should please go first, by all means…

"You bought me this for my birthday at school. We'd bunked off to see the film for a laugh and I told you it was The Day and no-one else knew. My family didn't send presents; they thought I was too old. Just a phone call from the old man, reminding me how important my studies were for my future destiny."

He frowned for a moment, then shrugged and carefully wound the key.

"The next day, there it was under my pillow. Whole bloody dormitory took the piss, but I didn’t care. Not after I gave Robertson Major two black eyes, anyway."

He put the submarine in the water and watched its limping progress back down and across.

"Awkward bugger. Can't ever go straight. Bit like you and me, eh?" commented Ethan, leaning against the wall with his hands in his pockets, eyes raking every inch of skin that wasn't obscured by foam. Giles sat up, water and suds cascading off his shoulders and upper arms.

"Come and wash my back, slave," he intoned imperiously, cocking his head to one side and talking all the sting out of it with the way his mouth formed the word 'slave'.

Ethan pushed himself lazily away from the wall, straightened and bowed with a theatrical flourish.

"As you command, master," He picked up the loofah from its porcelain dish on a wall shelf and ran it through one hand as his other encircled the base. Giles inhaled sharply and exhaled with a shaky sigh; water lapped at the rim of the tub as he fidgeted, brushing an extra layer of foam over his groin.

Ethan knelt first at level with the piled-up foam, trailing the loofah in the water until it was soaked, teasing the bather beneath with the side of his hand as it met submerged hipbone and the inside of a bent knee on its journey back and forth. The little yellow submarine listed drunkenly to the left at the end of the bath, seemingly forgotten by two men whose attention was all for each other.

When the loofah was dripping gouts of scented suds from its dimpled end as he lifted it clear, Ethan got to his feet and traced a path up Giles' body, parting the whorls of damp hair on belly and chest. Watching the muscles flinch, tremble and relax, he lingered a while before passing the loofah over one shoulder and round to the back. He scrubbed gently over the sensitive, scarred skin there, as Giles rolled his head in a slow circle and flexed his shoulder-blades, eyes closed, mouth open in blissful appreciation. Ethan dropped onto one knee and steadied him with his free hand as he worked lower.

Giles suddenly lurched forward and grabbed for his toy, going onto all fours and giving Ethan a delightfully surprising view of his firm, bare backside. Ethan bit his lower lip and clutched the loofah more tightly. Giles re-seated himself with a splash, fiddling with the top of the sub.

"Damn periscope's stuck. It used to pop up and down as it went along," he groused. Ethan tutted sympathetically:

"Tempus fugit. Nothing works quite as readily as it used to." He gazed pointedly at the water below Giles' waist.

"Speak for yourself. Perhaps it's… insufficient lubrication. Needs a spot of oil."

Taking the hint, Ethan went back to the shelf, deposited the loofah and brought over a lead crystal bottle filled with translucent green olive oil (almost the exact colour of his friend's eyes), together with a small towel. He pulled out the bath plug and let some of the water drain away, replaced it and once again passed a hand over the surface to maintain the pleasant heat and the banked clouds of foam. Giles now sat with the submarine between his spread thighs, knees drawn up, arms resting on the sides of the tub, chin on his chest.

Ethan dried his hands thoroughly and removed the stopper from the bottle, pouring a generous amount of oil into one palm and smoothing it evenly between both. He massaged Giles' nape and shoulders with it until his damp skin made little droplets form, oil and water eternally refusing to mix.

But sometimes, as now, they could co-exist.

From the side now, he worked the oil into the upper arm, caressing the strong bulge of bicep, moving down to cup the elbow and soothe its roughened point, along the vein in the forearm made prominent by the hot soak, grasping the wrist lightly with his right hand and working the fingers of his left between the other man's. As he completed the clasp he looked sideways from under lowered lashes and held Giles' gaze for the space of a dozen breaths.

Slow, identical smiles formed on both their faces.

Ethan let go and replenished his supply of oil again, starting this time at the collarbone, getting Giles to lean back on the inflatable pillow as his broad chest was given lavish attentions. Ethan moulded his nimble fingers over every rib, flicking Giles' nipples with blunt fingernails, slicking down the drying whorls of dark brown hair, working into the solar plexus in long strokes and circles.

"Lower."

The whispered demand made his hands shake. He obeyed, dipping below the water, going by feel, by memory long suppressed.

Something had disturbed the yellow submarine and it bobbed off on the waves made by Giles' restless movements. Ethan saw what had set it on its way and laughed long and low, enjoying, anticipating. He said the first thing that rushed into his brain:

"Up periscope."

END