Giles blinked slowly and cleared his throat. "Spike?"
"Yeah?" The low drawl stretched one syllable into three and the amused look in Spike's eyes deepened.
"What in heaven's name are you doing?"
He was rather proud of the fact that his voice was controlled, even calm.
"What does it look like?"
Giles pushed the front door closed and stepped inside his apartment. He managed three small steps before he had to pause because he'd run out of floor on which to tread.
"An explosion? Burglars?"
Spike studied the chaos he'd presumably created with a satisfied eye. "More like a work-in-progress."
Giles took one giant step, two tiny tiptoes and lunged, taking hold of Spike and pushing him back against a wall. "Spike," he said through teeth gritted painfully tight, "why are my books on the floor? All over the floor?" He glanced around. "In fact, all over every flat surface in the place?"
"Bed's clear," Spike said meaningfully.
"That's of no significance right now," Giles said. "And if as much as a page is creased in a single book, it never will be again as far as you're concerned."
"Threats don't scare me, Giles," Spike said softly, arching his hips just enough that Giles could feel the solid press of a leg against his own. "Should know that by now. Just make me... creative."
"So this is revenge?" Giles asked. "We argue, I kick you out – for possibly the fifth time in this disaster of a relationship we seem to have fallen into – and you decide to spring clean?" He stepped back cautiously because Spike's proximity was having its usual effect on his judgment – rendering it null and void – and folded his arms.
"I'm saying sorry by trying to help," Spike said in an injured tone. "Not like you're the sort who goes in for flowers – least you weren't last time –"
"That would be the dripping bunch of chrysanthemums with a card attached saying, 'To dear dad, we'll miss you' would it?"
"I was always told it was the thought that counted."
"You actually think? Really?"
It came out with a little more edge than he'd intended and Spike's face tightened with hurt before relaxing into an innocent smile.
"Sometimes I do. Like the way I think you've been missing me, Rupert."
"And how did you arrive at that conclusion, Sherlock?" Giles reached out and gripped Spike's shirt, hauling him out of the confusion of scattered volumes until they were in the relatively clear, if cramped, kitchen.
Spike nodded at the nearly-empty bottle of whisky on the counter. "That for a start. Wasn't it full two days ago?"
"I had visitors," Giles said. Which was true, but as Dawn had brought her own refreshments in the form of a cherry-lime slushy, she couldn't really be held responsible for the rapidly-sinking level of the whisky since Spike slammed out of the apartment vowing never to return, with somewhat more sincerity than usual, and a final, irritable kick at a table between him and the door that had left Giles with one fewer vase.
"Do you really think I can't tell when you lie?" Spike asked with interest. "It'd explain why you keep trying it when it's bloody pointless, trust me."
"Is that all you're going on? That I drank a little more than usual?" Giles demanded.
Spike reached out and deftly extracted a book from the wobbling stack on the hatch. "Your diary had a few clues too."
"You dared ..." Giles straightened up, scalding anger and embarrassment making his voice shake.
"'E' is for 'ever so', 'v' is for 'vile' or maybe 'violent'... want me to go on spelling it out for you? I'm evil, yeah?"
"That's no excuse for reading my diary!"
"Being evil means I don't need one," Spike pointed out. "But don't worry; I skipped over anything that didn't mention me." He frowned. "And you don't. Not really. 'Interrogation of William the Bloody going as well as can be expected'? What the fuck does that mean? Interrogation? The only questions you ask when you've got me tied up involve where the hell the lube got to and I nearly always tell you that."
"It's an official diary, meant to be handed on to future generations of Watchers," Giles pointed out dryly, doing his best to ignore the fact that his head was filled with an image of Spike's wrists encircled by steel, his blue eyes bright with longing. "The one you want is my private –" Spike's head tilted back just enough to let his gaze flick up to the bedroom where Giles had thought his diary was hidden well enough to fool even a determined vampire and then he met Giles' eyes blandly.
"I was curious. And bored. Fatal combination." Spike pursed his lips. "You'll write it, but you've never said it."
Giles abandoned the conversation and jerked his head at the books. "Put them back. Now."
Spike pushed himself away from the counter he'd been leaning against and leaned in close enough to kiss Giles' neck, choosing to brush his lips, not at all by chance, Giles knew, over the exact place his fangs would have picked to pierce. Discovering that a kiss there, hard, bruising and close to painful, turned him on hadn't been the first uncomfortable truth sleeping with Spike had revealed but it'd been the one that had precipitated their first serious argument, the one that ended with him slashing his finger open and holding it over Spike's stubbornly closed mouth until the scent of his blood drew the vampire out and the thick curve of fang forced Spike's lips to part. He'd fucked Spike and fed him as he did it, ignoring the curses, ignoring the dazzle of unshed tears in the blue eyes that stayed open, ignoring the way the body beneath him responded – well, no, perhaps not that.
He'd forced that single taste on Spike to prove a point and even now he wasn't sure what it was –that he trusted him? - but something had changed, had shifted, so that what had begun with a drunken, swift fuck after a patrol that had come close to leaving one of them dusted, the other dead, had become this – the two of them together, tenuously connected, to be sure, but together.
He shuddered at the cool kiss, feeling his cock harden with a predictability that was so very far from boring and put the palm of his hand flat against Spike's face, caressing the smooth plane of his cheek. "No," he whispered, because it was too quiet to talk loudly, "books. Now."
Spike straightened and glanced down at their matching erections. "Seems like a waste..." he said. He dropped to his knees and gazed upward. "Flowers are out, cleaning didn't work... how about I try saying sorry with my mouth... and tongue... and teeth?"
No one knelt with the assured arrogance of Spike, Giles thought. And he wasn't making any attempt to hide his eagerness. His hands were reverse shadows against his black jeans, his eyes were fixed on Giles's cock and he was so certain of victory that he robbed himself of it because Giles wasn't giving way on this.
"Start with the small bookcase in the corner. The one with the texts in the original demonic language," he ordered.
Spike rose to his feet in a flicker of movement too fast for Giles to follow. "Giles, did anyone ever tell you –"
Giles allowed himself one kiss to shut him up, pulling Spike to him with an impatience far deeper than any Spike was feeling. Spike's mouth opened under his, returning the kiss with interest, his hands slipping into position so that Giles felt his ass gripped and the equally arousing counterpoint of Spike's thumb stroking down the side of his neck, his hand cupping the back of Giles' head. The single kiss melted into more but Giles retained enough determination – and cruelty, though he wasn't sure which of them he was hurting the most – to break free eventually.
"Put them back, Spike. I'm not going to tell you again."
The lip he'd bitten until the soft fullness had split jutted out in a sulky pout. He half-expected Spike to leave with a sneer and a contemptuously up-thrust finger, and perhaps, a few months ago, he would have, but now he sighed and reached out unenthusiastically for a single book, wandering over to place it on what Giles couldn't help noticing was a freshly-dusted shelf. Yes; over by the window he could see a crumpled, yellow duster and a can of polish. Good Lord... he'd been serious about tidying then, and the shelves certainly had been overdue for a cleaning, although emptying them all at once really wasn't the best way to go about it.
Contrition stirred and he went into the main room and began to help Spike, working beside him in silence. It didn't take long for the atmosphere to become both more relaxed and more charged, so that when they both reached for the same book and their fingers touched briefly, they exchanged knowing smiles rather than snarls and when Spike tilted his head with a questioning lift of his eyebrows, Giles held still and let himself be kissed, a brief, affectionate, forgiving kiss, unlike any he'd ever had from Spike.
He still didn't call a halt to the re-shelving though, waiting until the last book was wedged, with some difficulty – he really did need another bookcase after the acquisition of the twelve volumes that made up the Codex of Carin – into place, to stretch, rub an aching shoulder and say tersely. "Right. Now get upstairs."
"Why?" Spike said innocently. "Told you I didn't make a mess up there."
Giles smiled at him. "Oh, but I'm sure we will."
Afterwards, with Spike wrapped around him in what neither of them would have called a cuddle, although really, it most certainly was, Giles began to laugh. "I owe you an apology, don't I?" he said.
"Not for anything you did in the last hour or so, you don't," Spike said, stretching out with a groan that was as purely satisfied a sound as could be imagined. He glanced at Giles. "Marked you up a bit here and there, though. Sorry."
Giles studied the scratches and bites Spike had left on him in places and shrugged. "I'm not complaining," he said truthfully, "and I've had worse."
"In bed?" Spike asked, with an unexpected tinge of jealousy to his voice.
Giles blinked. "Well – no. And the apology was because I'd misjudged you; I thought you were just making a mess for the sake of annoying me, not that you were really serious about tidying up."
"Well, you'll have to make it up to me then," Spike drawled, shifting position so that he was over Giles, who stared up at him in disbelief.
"Again? Now? I couldn't possibly."
Spike gave him a smug smile. "Challenges make me creative too." He began to slide downwards, bending his head forward, the cool press of his lips making Giles respond with an anguished whimper.
"Really, Spike, I couldn't possibly – oh God –"
"You going to tell me?" Spike said suddenly.
"What? You stopped. Why did you – oh." Giles hesitated. "I –"
"Do you love me?"
Spike would understand, Giles told himself. Understand the implications, why he couldn't commit himself this soon, this deeply, understand that –
He waited for Spike to nod and then get back to what he'd been doing.
"You fucking git!"
The bed heaved underneath him as Spike left it in an infuriated scramble, grabbing at the clothes he'd been stripped of with as much deliberation as Giles had been capable of right then.
"No! I'm not doing this anymore. Not again. Fucking sick of it –"
"So you're going to walk out?"
Spike paused long enough to give Giles a glittering smile, sharp-edged and feral. "Right."
"If you go – and I wish you wouldn't – I'm asking you to come back."
Spike seemed to be reduced to monosyllables as he stood – and had he planned it so that when he paused his cock was still visible, poking out impudently from his unfastened jeans? – but Giles filled in the blanks.
"Because I miss you when you're not here. Because I –"
"Yeah? Go on," Spike said, edging closer and gazing down at him expectantly.
Giles frowned. "The books..." he said slowly, finally realising that something had been wrong about them, something that had been nagging at him. "You got them all out, but they weren't where they should be."
Spike cleared his throat. "Ran out of space, didn't I? They ended up all over the place..."
"No," Giles said with certainty. "They weren't right. There were three books by Amherst that should've been together and they were on three different piles." His eyes widened. "You bastard!"
Giles erupted from the bed and jabbed a finger against Spike's bare chest. 'You weren't going to put them back the right way were you? Alphabetically within subjects, the way they were."
"I'd thought of a better way," Spike said with an injured sniff.
Giles closed his eyes and pictured the room as it'd been when he first walked in. "Not by title, because 'Darvik's Guide to Edged Weapons' was yards away from 'Dark Charms and Incantations'... Not by – oh God, not by size –"
"Course not!" Spike said with another sniff. "Pointless, that."
"Well, quite –" Giles bit his lip as the answer became horrifyingly clear. "Are you going to tell me, or do I have to use violence to make you confess?"
"I love you," Spike said.
"You were going to sort them out by colour, weren't you?" Giles said bitterly.
"I heard you."
"And it didn't rate a double-take or a thank you very much?" Spike said coldly.
Giles took a slow, deep, calming breath. "I already knew that you did. What I didn't know was that someone I loved could be capable of such a –"
"- not at all funny, in fact, puerile –"
"-the sort of trick a schoolboy of twelve would find –"
"Because a minute ago, you were all, 'might do, sometime, don't hold your breath' and now you're all, "yes I love you, Spike' and I'm getting fucking confused and will you stop going on about the bloody books!"
Giles closed his mouth and stared at Spike who was looking as infuriated as a cat with its fur stroked the wrong way. "This – it isn't easy, you know," he said slowly. "None of it. It's unexpected, it's complicated and to be honest it scares me."
"I can go," Spike offered quietly. "You're the only reason I'm still here these days and if you don't want me –"
"There's more holding you here than me," Giles said. "Dawn for one."
"Granted, but she'd get over it if I left."
"Make up your mind, Watcher."
"You haven't called me that for a long time," Giles said.
Spike shrugged. "It's what you are. What you always will be." He waited and then said softly. "Do you want me to go, then? Make your life a bit less... messy?"
Giles glanced around at his bedroom, by no means trashed but far from tidy and shook his head. "You going wouldn't do that."
"What would it do, then?"
Spike's question was painfully casual and Giles gave in.
"Let's put it this way; if you really prefer them that way, I'd let you shelve the books by colour rather than have you go."
Spike grinned. "You do know that was just to piss you off, right?"
"I do, yes." Giles glanced at the bed. "And now you've confessed, I think it's time you apologised properly, don't you?"
"Running out of options, then," Spike said.
Giles narrowed his eyes. "Be creative," he suggested.