Retroactive

It had been years since Rupert Giles woke instantly, alert and eager to begin the day. Oh, if he were in danger he could; that instinct was honed to too sharp an edge to be blunted by age, illness or boredom... but nowadays, unemployed and drifting through a life that had once been mapped out in straight lines, sleep was too seductive a haven to leave willingly.

So he woke gradually, his mind clinging to dreams, sleep clinging to eyelids – woke to find himself hard and aching. This wasn’t the usual transient arousal that left him before he’d stumbled, yawning, to the bathroom. This was need, pure and primal, and he half smiled as he pushed back the covers, his hand moving downwards automatically, his eyes still shut.

Before his fingers could curl around his cock and discipline its unruly behaviour with a stern, merciless, hypocritical hand, the bed creaked and dipped as a weight –no, two weights – landed on it. Giles gasped, his eyes opening, his hands reaching out. Reaching out blindly. A hand was laid across his eyes even as they opened, warm and firm, and his gasp was swallowed by lips pressed against his in a kiss. That alone might not have prevented him from lashing out, but the cool hand around his cock and the tongue and mouth that lapped and licked at the captured flesh was.

Giles lay quietly, his mind as busy as the mouths that touched his body, responding to the kiss, moving his hips in subtle encouragement, trying to guess who his early morning visitors were. The one kissing him was male. It wasn’t the mild rasp of a chin that needed shaving that told him; that confirmed it perhaps, it was the roughness of the hand, the faint scent of aftershave... half a dozen clues that led to one answer. The mouth that was enthusiastically and expertly taking care of his problem and being far too kind to that wayward member – that was male. Giles could tell the difference. It was a lesson once learned, never forgotten. The mouth was cool. Very cool. Refreshingly so – “Spike! What the hell are you doing?” Giles roared.

Fully awake, he pushed the figure beside him away and glared down at pale hair, a pale face and impish blue eyes. Spike tried to speak with his mouth full, frowned, and reluctantly sat up, one hand still wrapped around the base of Giles’ cock. “Saying hello,” he replied. “I’ve missed you.”

Giles stared at him coldly until Spike’s hand fell away, and then turned to meet the eyes of – “Wesley? Oh, God. Wesley. No! Don’t kiss me again.”

Wesley looked disappointed but sat back obediently. He and Spike were both naked and as much as Giles was seething with fury and embarrassment, he couldn’t help wishing that his revelation had been delayed by, oh another thirty seconds, perhaps. It would have made thinking clearly much easier for a start.

He reached for the covers he’d pushed away and hesitated. Spike was sitting on them, but that wasn’t what made him change his mind. He had wanted the reassurance and subtle superiority conferred on one who is clothed in the presence of one – or two – who were naked. That wasn’t going to apply here. The two of them seemed indifferent to their lack of clothing; completely relaxed and unlikely to care if he were under the sheets or not. In fact, his action might be seen as shyness and therefore a weakness.

On the other hand, Giles was uncomfortably aware that his body was, in appearance if not fact in the case of Spike, two decades older than Wesley’s and Spike’s. It showed. He repressed the urge to suck in his slight paunch and forced his eyes to stop moving between two equally enticing bodies. This wasn’t Wimbledon.

Besides, looking made his other problem worse. He was hard and if he felt ridiculous now, he’d look even more so with his erection poking up, the sheet draped over it, completely failing to disguise it.

Giles folded his arms across his chest, sat up straight and said quietly, “Wesley. The last I heard, you were off freelancing and killing demons. Why are you here and why, might I ask, have you unchained Spike from my bathtub?”

He couldn’t help the injured tone that crept into his voice at the end. Watcherly solidarity alone should have stopped Wesley from releasing a prisoner, especially one clearly dangerous.

Wesley looked at Spike as though seeking reassurance and Giles felt his temper flare. What the hell was Wesley doing with Spike? They’d never met during Wesley’s time in Sunnydale; how could they be on such good terms now?

“Giles,” Wesley began slowly, “if I tell you something that common sense indicates is impossible, and all your instincts and beliefs agree; if I ask you to believe that what I am about to tell you –”

“Sometime next week, at this rate,” interrupted Spike. “Giles. Look at him, at us. Do we look different?”

Giles frowned. “You’re a vampire,” he said, with some asperity. “You can’t look different.” He glanced at Wesley, peering in the dim light that was filtering through heavy curtains. Wesley reached out and switched on the lamp beside the bed. In the sudden flare of light Giles saw what he should have seen at once. “You’re... older. How? It’s only been six months and you’re...”

His voice trailed away as he looked Wes over, taking in the shorter hair, thinner face...half a year could have produced those changes, but there was more than that. Wesley had grown up. The young man who had been laughable as a replacement Watcher now looked fully capable of dealing with that, or any other, responsibility. He looked – like me, Giles thought. He looks like me. He’s killed, he’s tortured, he’s sacrificed lives to get what he thought was needed. Welcome to the club, mate. Aloud he said, “That scar, Wesley; by the way it’s healed you acquired it some time ago but I don’t remember it.”

Wesley’s hand went to his throat and rubbed the scar. “You haven’t seen it because it wasn’t there. Yet I...acquired it many years ago.”

He looked at Giles expectantly and Spike snorted. “This isn’t Twenty bloody Questions, Wes!” He flicked his gaze over to pierce Giles. “We’re from the future. Wes is out there slaying rogue demons –”

“You know, I really can’t recall a time I ever laughed at that joke,” Wesley said pointedly.

“- and I’m trying to get comfy in your bath, right this minute, but that’s not the us you’re talking to. Bloody hell, even I don’t understand it; makes my head ache... but it’s true.”

Giles waited a beat for Wesley to start laughing, or for Spike to crack and admit that this was all some elaborate, tacky joke. They looked at him expectantly instead and he felt anger rise. He’d stayed on the bed as they talked, frozen into place by shock and wariness coupled with confusion and arousal; cuffed hand and foot by emotion. Now rage gave him the strength to break his shackles and he surged forward, well placed punches and kicks combined with an undignified scramble that let him reach the door. He was at the foot of the stairs by the time they began to follow and at the bathroom door before they could stop him.

Spike lay in the bathtub, sleeping soundly. Giles raised a shaking hand to his head, dragging his hand through sleep-tangled hair. Spike’s eyelids fluttered open and he yawned, glaring at Giles.

“Brought me some breakfast?” He took in Giles’ lack of clothing and looked surprised and then knowing. “Or are you the –”

“Finish that thought and I’ll stake you and wash you down the plughole,” Giles snarled.

“Fuck off then and let me get some kip. Taken me all night to get to sleep and now you’re waking me up at this ungodly hour...”

Giles turned away from the list of complaints and stared at Wesley and Spike – the other Spike – who were standing on the stairs watching him. He rubbed his bare eyes, knowing that donning his glasses wouldn’t change what he saw. Walking with the careful precision of a drunk, he went back to his bedroom, his two visitors leading the way in silence.


***

Once back in his bedroom, Giles reached for his robe and shrugged it on, tying the belt with a savage tug. “Why are you both naked?” he asked irritably, knowing it was inconsequential but not caring.

“It makes the time/space transition simpler,” Wesley said. “Forgive me, but does that mean you accept that what we’re saying is the truth?” He ran a finger tentatively over his cheekbone, where a reddening bruise marked the spot where Giles’ fist had landed.

“No,” Giles said flatly. “I can think of far more probable explanations and I’m still half asleep.”

“Go on then,” Spike said, a challenging gleam in his eyes. He sat down on the bed and looked up at Giles, smiling and relaxed. Giles weighed the choice of Spike remaining naked or Spike wearing – or refusing to wear- clothes that Giles would then feel obliged to give away once returned. Neither were attractive options. Wesley, he felt sure, would welcome the chance to get dressed. He looked at him. Wesley was leaning against a wall, slouched and yet alert. Giles tried to remember any time in their relationship when Wesley hadn’t stood as if the hanger had been left in his coat, and failed. He wasn’t quite sure why it was bothering him so much; they’d just told him they were time travellers and he was obsessing over a few square feet of bare flesh? Refusing to dwell on this, as he was fairly certain he knew the answer and equally certain that he wouldn’t admit it under torture, he said,

“You could be shape changing demons or using a glamour to trick me; I could be hallucinating or this might be a trick of Ethan’s. There. Four perfectly reasonable explanations, all of which strain credulity far less than the story you’d have me swallow.”

Swallow. That had been an ill chosen choice of word given his recent awakening. He wasn’t hard anymore but the ghost of cool lips seemed to press against his body in a dozen places and he felt himself react to the memory as though it were reality. Grateful for the swathing, concealing folds of his ragged but beloved robe, Giles walked over to the bed and sat down on it, as far as possible from Spike, and folded his arms, staring stubbornly at the wall in an effort to calm himself and indicate his displeasure.

“I can appreciate that this is a lot to take in but it’s not as if stranger things haven’t happened to all of us,” Wesley said mildly, persuasively.

Giles ignored him, still staring, still doing his best to pretend he was alone.

“For fuck’s sake!” Spike exclaimed. “Rupert, will you look at him – at us? Sod whether we’re in top hat and tails or stark bollock naked, aren’t you even a little curious as to why we came back?”

“Not really,” Giles said pleasantly, turning his head slightly as it occurred to him that not keeping them in view was a little risky. “To harbour that emotion would be tantamount to accepting that what you told me would be genuine. And Spike? You’re not entitled to use my first name. We’re not friends, now, then or ever.”

He waited for an angry answer, a scornful smile. In the last few days he’d had a bellyful of both from his houseguest. Instead, unmistakable hurt clouded the blue eyes and Spike glanced downwards quickly, ducking his head to hide his reaction. Giles felt guilt stir, but before it could fully waken, Wes kicked it into a state of dazed confusion.

“Giles, I’d appreciate it if you didn’t talk to Spike like that. I understand that in this time he’s –”

“A killer? A troublemaker? A viper-tongued pain in the arse who’s been here for three days too many and is making my life hell?”

“Now you’re making me feel all misty-eyed,” Spike muttered.

Wesley shook his head impatiently. “Yes, very probably he was –is- but the person you’re addressing your comments to isn’t like that, and hasn’t been for a long time. In fact –”

“Remember what Fred said,” Spike warned. “Tell him nothing you don’t have to.”

“He has to know this! You’ve admitted I’m older, changed, but you haven’t looked at Spike. Look at him, Giles. Really look...”

Wesley was standing now, his vehement voice loud in the small room. Giles shook his head wearily and glanced at Spike, looking him up and down and then shrugging. “Vampire. Ageless, not prone to scar – he’s the same as - as the version in my bath. Hair’s a little fluffier, perhaps.” Giles mentally castigated himself for coming so close to saying, ‘my Spike’. That just wouldn’t have helped matters.

Spike reflexively smoothed back his hair and Wesley growled out an impatient, adult rated version of ‘tcha!’ Two steps and he was beside Giles, kneeling down so that their faces were level. “I told you to look at him. You’re a Watcher; you’ve seen vampires by the score; twisted, hollowed, emptied of humanity and then filled with evil. Look at him and tell me he’s one of them.”

Reluctantly, Giles turned and Spike met his gaze steadily. Giles would have smiled politely if someone had discoursed on auras and expected him to be interested, and the idea of eyes being windows to the souls would have merited a twitch of lips determined not to be rude. He stared not into the blue eyes but instead at Spike’s face, adding up a dozen subtle movements and changes automatically, trying to fight back an unease that tasted like a missing step and a muscle-wrenching tumble to his mind. Spike was calmer, smoothed down, less abrasive... a certain plangent tension had been released...

“I’ll save you the agony of looking at my face,” Spike said. “Got me a soul. Nice, well-anchored, permanent soul. Way better than Angel’s. And I got it by myself, too. On purpose.”

Giles bit his lip, welcoming the sharp, small pain as an anchor in a sea of confusion. Fighting to stay calm, he glanced over at Wesley, who was smiling with a certain grim satisfaction, one dark eyebrow raised as he waited for Giles’ reaction. It came with a flat certainty.

“Bollocks.”

“Oh, come now!” Wesley said, his temper rising as Giles’ jaw set stubbornly. “I assure you it’s true. Spike has a soul and he’s been fighting alongside the Slayer and ... others for quite some time.”

“Save it, Wes,” Spike interrupted, a sour look on his face as he glared at Giles. “I’d forgotten what a stubborn bastard you used to... well, no, what am I saying? You’re still fucking stubborn in our time, that’s why we’re here.”

“Spike...” Wesley said, a warning note in his voice.

Giles stood up, shaking his head as though he was under attack from a cloud of midges. “Enough!” His voice rang out loudly and he heard a muffled call from downstairs as an awakened and puzzled Spike demanded to know what was happening. “Enough,” he said again, moderating his voice without lessening the edge. “Tell me what you want; why you’re here. Tell me what’s behind this ... scheme. Tell me and make it good because I’m out of patience with the pair of you.” He reached into the drawer of the bedside table and pulled out a stake, turning back to stare pointedly at Spike’s chest.

Spike stood in front of him and smiled coldly. “Sorry about this, Giles.” His face shifted and reformed, his fangs forcing his mouth open in a snarl. “Get on the bed.”

Giles sneered at him. “You’re still chipped, I presume. Make me.” He raised the stake and waited, half sorry that it had come to this.

Spike stood still for long enough for Giles to play back his words and realise that a vampire who’d acquired a soul might well have managed to lose a –

“Oh, bloody hell!”

The stake was batted aside and Giles was thrown backwards, landing on his bed with a crack of skull on headboard. Spike straddled him, grinning down, and took Giles’ hand. He brought it up to his mouth and ran one finger over a fang, the scarlet blood oozing out of the neat cut in ruby beads. Tongue went where fangs had gone and Giles shuddered as he hardened despite himself. Spike’s eyes were full of heat, full of hunger, full of...

“He probably keeps the cuffs in a shoe box in the closet,” Spike said over his shoulder. “He always did at home, before I came along and they became a permanent fixture on the bed.”

Giles shut his eyes as sick humiliation swept over him in a scalding flood. He bucked upwards, uncaring of the fact that Spike could feel his reaction to what had just happened. Spike laughed, his hands gripping Giles’ wrists and holding him down. Silently, Wes snapped cuffs on wrists and attached them to the bedposts.

Spike said tersely, “Chip’s gone too. Got that? Soul, yes, vampire, yes, chip, no. You asked why we’re here. Wrong question. Ask us who we are. Ask us.”

Wesley sat beside them, his arm thrown over Spike’s shoulders. They stared down at Giles, waiting.

He shrugged in a defeat only partially assumed and obediently asked the question. “Who are you?”

“We’re yours,” Spike said simply.

“My, what?”

Spike sighed and bent down. Giles flinched and turned his head and Spike growled and held his face between his hands. “Not making this easy, are you?”

“Fuck off.”

Spike released him, springing off the bed in a frustrated flurry of movement and slamming his fist against the wall. Giles craned his head and met Wesley’s disappointed face. “What?” he snarled. “What do you expect me to –?”

Wesley didn’t make him feel as threatened as Spike. That was probably the only reason that Wes managed to do what Spike had not; get Giles to hold still long enough to be kissed. Giles couldn’t help it. Once Wesley’s mouth was on his, he was lost. The whole scenario was so dream-like; his arousal carrying over from sleep to waking and still not satisfied... it was so easy to give in and let Wesley kiss him...

Wesley pulled away, his eyes glazed. “Does that answer your question?”

Giles stared at him. “We – all of us – are lovers?”

Wesley shrugged. “It’s a little more complicated than that but essentially, yes. We have been for, ah, some time now.”

Giles turned his head. Spike was flexing his bruised hand and scowling. Giles cleared his throat. “Spike? I... I’m still having considerable difficulty in processing this but if I’ve...”

“Hurt my feelings? Don’t be soft.”

Spike’s voice was brittle and Giles winced. “Fine. Sulk. Do you do this often?” He turned to Wesley. “Does he?”

The amused look on Wesley’s face was answer enough. “He does and it’s usually because of you. I spend most of my time playing peacemaker.”

Spike came over to Wesley, dropping to his knees beside the bed and kissing him swiftly. “You spend all your time getting fussed over, you mean,” he said fondly. He glanced at Giles. “You and me... we’ve got a history, you see. Wes didn’t meet me until... after. Makes a difference. Wish I could convince you that things have changed but I don’t know how.”

Wesley looked between them both and then shifted on the bed, making room for Spike. “Why don’t you try what I did?” he suggested.

Spike looked at Giles, a question in his eyes. Giles tried not to react but Spike must have seen something change – a spark of curiosity, a hint of warmth, because he placed his hands flat on the bed and kissed Giles. The kiss was gentle, almost chaste and Giles found himself tugging to free his hands so that he could deepen it. The cuffs dug into his wrists and he pulled back. Spike tilted his head and sighed with satisfaction. “Been so long... Giles...”

Then Giles didn’t have to do more than respond because Spike was kissing him with a force and an ardour that drove everything from his mind, his hands sweeping up to hold Giles’ face, then sliding inside his robe. If the kiss was meant to convince him that Spike and he had a history, it was succeeding admirably well, Giles thought. Then he felt another pair of hands on him and remembered Wesley...

Their positions were reversed but the sensations they were drawing from his body were no less intense than they had been earlier. Giles moaned against Spike’s mouth and then broke the kiss to gasp for air as Wesley took his cock inside his mouth after a series of teasing licks. Wesley was good at this, he thought hazily. No; more than that. Wesley was giving him exactly what he wanted, his fingers curled around the base of Giles’ cock, his thumb sweeping up just as he raised his head to run along the underside, his tongue swirling in strong circles, his teeth there but not digging in. Just how I like it, Giles thought, and if he –

Wesley’s free hand was kneading Giles’ thigh, moving higher as Giles reached the point where his cock hardened still further, just about to come. Wesley’s hand slid under his balls, cupping them in his palm, while his middle finger went back, nudging gently but firmly, the touch too intimate, too casual, too unerringly accurate to be the first time he’d done it. Wesley didn’t do more than that but it was enough. Giles came, feeling Spike’s arms around him as he arched up off the bed, feeling himself slip from Wesley’s mouth and Wesley move up to hold him.

Panting, he opened his eyes. Two smiling faces swam in front of him. Even as he tried to think of something to say, Spike glanced over at Wesley and slid his arm around his neck, pulling him in for a kiss. Giles watched them from a distance of inches, seeing his own come glisten on Wes’ lips, seeing Spike’s tongue lap at it greedily. Giles felt a tremor of panic. What the hell was happening here? Wesley and Spike were, not surprisingly, hard and he was damned if they were going to fuck practically in his lap while he lay helpless.

Giles cleared his throat and said, “I have a question.”

They split apart and looked at him. “Sorry,” said Wesley. “Can it –”

“Wait?” finished Spike, running the edge of his fingernail from Wesley’s throat down to his flat stomach.

“No, it bloody well can’t!” Giles snapped. “Spike, you said you,” he swallowed, “knew where I kept these cuffs.”

“Yeah, and I was right, wasn’t I?”

“Yes. And did you notice that you had to adjust them when you so kindly used them on me?”

“So?”

Wesley broke in. “You’re saying you used them on someone, rather than being the one inside?”

Giles smiled and let that answer the question.

Spike looked uncomfortable and Giles noted the fact without commenting. “Yeah, well, that’s not surprising, is it?”

“Not to me, it isn’t, no,” Giles said. “You might be able to convince me that the three of us are engaged in what seems like an unnecessarily complicated relationship, but you’re never going to convince me that I’d let you – either of you – top me.” He smiled again, making no effort to appear pleasant. “Which means this –” he jerked his head at the cuffs, “isn’t the way we normally play.”

“And?” Wesley said, with some bravado and little sense.

Giles let the smile drop from his face and stared at first Wes, then Spike, without speaking. Then he raised his eyebrows and said quietly, “I’m waiting.”

Spike shuddered. “Don’t do that!” he said plaintively.

Giles looked at him thoughtfully. “What do I normally do to you when you misbehave, Spike?”

Spike’s eyes sparkled. “Depends.”

“When I’m really angry,” Giles clarified.

The amusement vanished and Spike’s eyes dropped. Wesley reached out to him, stroking his back. “You’ve already done it,” he said, his voice cool. “It’s why we’re here.”

Giles frowned. “What did I do? And why?”

“You fucking left us!” Spike shouted, scrambling off the bed as though he couldn’t bear to be close to Giles. “You buggered off and left us and we haven’t seen you for months. Do you know how that feels? Being abandoned?”

Giles fought back guilt over something he hadn’t even done yet and looked at Wesley for help. “Why did I?” he said again.

Wesley sighed. “Because of this,” he said and went into game face, fangs and ridges and golden eyes...

Giles said weakly, “But...you’re warm...” and then leaned back, defeated. “Can I wake up now?” he said. “Please?”

Wesley stared at him anxiously. It wasn’t an expression that seemed to fit a vampire somehow and Giles felt a bubble of amusement, inappropriate and ill-timed, swell and burst in his chest. He bit his lip and looked silently at Wes.

“You’re entitled to an explanation but it’s the end of a rather long story and I’m not sure how much of it I can tell you,” Wesley said finally. “I’m sure you appreciate the paradoxes inherent in this.”

Spike sighed with impatience. “We’ve come back and we can’t tell him why? Makes no fucking sense.” He held up a hand as Wesley began to protest. “Yes, I know what I just said about not telling him, but I’ve changed my mind. I didn’t get it when Fred burbled on about changing things, and don’t you start in on it either. If we changed it, we already did, right? So let’s do it and catch up.”

Giles knew exactly what both of them meant and found himself wondering which viewpoint was correct. Time travel paradoxes had featured in so many books, but it was all theoretical of course. He found himself locked in indecision. He had no doubt that he could get a full account from them both, by a combination of threats and cunning, but did he want to? Would he literally regret it in the future?

Wesley and Spike were hissing fierce questions at each other, speaking in the shorthand lovers are adept at, that was as baffling as it was annoying. Wesley had reverted to his human face, which was making Giles wonder if he’d really seen – oh, he must have been dreaming! A few familiar names were mentioned, bringing with them an unconscious leap of relief that they had survived at least a few years more, but Giles found himself floundering to make sense of it all. It wasn’t an emotion he enjoyed.

“That will do,” he said. Two heads turned and he smiled pleasantly. “If I’m to be told anything, I insist that it be done when we’re all dressed, free to move, and with something to drink. I haven’t had breakfast yet. I’m hungry.”

“We don’t have time for that,” Spike said. “Could get pulled back any moment.”

“Fred guaranteed us at least three hours,” Wesley objected. “She’s utterly reliable when it comes to this sort of thing.”

‘She’? Giles adjusted his thinking. A nickname or shortened form of a name. It didn’t seem important. “Three hours? Then please get on with it!” He let his voice harden appreciably and was gratified by Wesley’s reaction. The man didn’t flinch but he came to attention and began to reach for the cuffs that held Giles in place.

Spike’s hand flashed out and locked around Wesley’s wrist. “Hold it. This isn’t your Giles; this is the guy who stakes vampires first and doesn’t bother with questions. He thinks you’re evil.”

“No, I don’t,” Giles objected. “Wesley is warm to the touch and,” he felt almost embarrassed but it had to be said, “he’s souled. I can tell by looking at him. I wouldn’t stake either of you until I’d heard you out, probably not then.” Regaining his composure, he glared at Spike. “The fact that a version of you is currently hogging my bathroom, should prove that I’m not stake-happy!”

“That’s wonderful,” Wesley said gently, resting his hand on Giles’ leg, “but we still haven’t established how much –”

“Oh for fuck’s sake!” Spike exploded. “Tell him, or I will, and if our grandfathers die, so what?”

“After you get these cuffs off,” Giles said, not letting a trace of compromise enter his voice. Spike growled and freed him, muttering dire warnings under his breath as he did so.

Giles flexed his arms, settled down comfortably, tugging the quilt over him, and gave Wesley an expectant look.

“Right. Well, as you know, I set off on my own. After some time, my path crossed that of Angel and Cordelia and I joined their ...”

Wesley’s voice flowed like wine poured with a lavish hand; sometimes steady, sometimes gushing out too fast as emotion robbed him of precision, finally slowing as the last words reluctantly fell from his lips. Giles listened, the urge to interrupt fading as shock and sorrow struck him dumb. So much to take in....

Finally, Wesley fell silent. “I can’t – Giles, are you coping with all this? You’re so quiet...”

Giles stared at him. “You’ve told me things - deaths, loss – terrible things. I’m finding it a little hard to accept.”

“Suck it up, Giles,” Spike said, his tone kinder than his words. Giles glanced down and realised that at some point Spike had taken his hand and he’d been gripping it tightly, their fingers interlaced. He took his hand away, but did it after an almost involuntary squeeze of acknowledgment.

Giles’ gaze moved around the room. “All this... gone?”

“I died, too,” Spike reminded him. “And Anya.” His eyes went distant for a moment and then he shrugged. “But I came back.”

Giles looked at him. “You seem solid for a ghost. So; you were all employed by the law firm?”

Wesley nodded. “Things were difficult at first. We didn’t realise quite why, of course. Angel was distant, Spike a ghost ... then it all got resolved very quickly. So much so that I think we were all a little stunned for a long time.”

“A feeling I can fully sympathise with,” Giles remarked. “So, what happened?”

“Cordelia woke up,” said Spike. “And she wasn’t happy.”

Giles frowned. “She was in a coma, I got that, but you never quite explained why.”

“Until she woke up, we didn’t know why, not really,” Wesley replied. “Angel had arranged for our memories to be affected; similar, I imagine, to the spell used to create the false memories of Dawn.”

“Dawn...” Giles murmured. “You know, that’s the most difficult part of this for me. Buffy with a sister...”

“I can imagine,” Wesley said. “It’s decidedly unnerving to have one’s memories tampered with. What can one trust?”

“Speed it up,” urged Spike. “Cordelia woke up, still a higher power or whatever – never got that bit – and went spare. Rocked the building, she screamed so loud. Never seen Angel move so fast.”

“Why?” Giles asked curiously.

“Was screaming his name, wasn’t she? He went in there and didn’t come out for hours. When he did, he got us all together and she reversed the spell. People threw things – ”

“<i>You</i> threw things,” Wesley said, giving Spike an affectionate hug. “I was impressed. What was it? Two pencils and a cell phone?”

“Huh. Feelings were running high and you can’t deny it. Anyway, she laid it on the line. Connor was to stay where he was. Lad was happy and she was watching him. Angel got offered a choice; turn human, or stay a souled vampire with no catches.”

“Really? Which did he choose?”

“Brooded for ages; you know what he’s like –”

“Only too well.”

“But he’s learned some sense in his old age –”

“Meaning?”

“He asked Buffy. They’re still discussing it. He’s with her in England at the Watchers Academy, helping her train the new Slayers.”

Giles waved a vague hand. “I feel like a soggy sponge. Finish telling me. I cannot believe I’m doing this before breakfast.” He gave then both a resentful look. “I still think I’m dreaming this.”

“Want me to convince you we’re here?” Spike said, his voice as insinuating as his fingers. Wesley smiled and moved closer and Giles sank back as they began to kiss him, Wesley capturing his mouth, Spike pulling back the covers and running a line of kisses over Giles’ stomach. He yelped as Giles grabbed him by the hair and tugged hard, breaking free of Wesley’s kiss as he did so.

“Do you bloody well mind?” he said. “We just – and I’m not – ”

“So?” said Spike, looking puzzled.

“You are,” Wesley said at the same time, with a slight smile.

Giles rolled his eyes. “Keep your distance and finish this improbable, implausible tale. Please.”

“Oh, fine! Cordelia made me solid. Said I’d earned it for saving the world –”

“Every time you say that, I get a sharp, stabbing pain behind my left eye,” Giles said. “You just don’t strike me as the world saving type.”

“Helped stop Acathla,” Spike said succinctly, with a look that dared Giles to argue. “Anyway, she did the job and I stuck around to help out, as Angel had done a runner. Everyone paired off one way or another; Fred with a nerd, Gunn with Little Miss Sparky –”

“Who – oh, forget it. What about Cordelia? Did she go back to heaven? Or hell?”

Spike snorted. “Did she, buggery! Who do you think’s running the show now? Should see her power dressing, doing lunch with Harmony, getting heads chopped off – ”

“Queen C,” Giles murmured.

Wesley looked startled. “Her personalised number plate? I’d forgotten that!” He looked wistful. “Simpler days.”

“I’m starting to think so,” Giles said tartly. “Which leaves me with a thousand questions but I’ll settle for three, if you give me clear, short answers.”

They nodded, Wesley cautiously, Spike impatiently, and he took a slow breath before speaking, his gaze flicking between the two waiting faces.

“Why are you a vampire, Wesley? Spike, when did our relationship begin? And finally, what did you hope to achieve by coming back here?”

“I memorised lottery numbers for the next three weeks for nothing?” Spike said. “that's all you want to know? Typical.”





A/N And here it ends. Why this story, out of all the many, is one I couldn't finish, I don't know. Maybe because it got Jossed, or I was working on another Spike/Giles/Wes...

Maybe one day.

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