Smoke and Fire

"That's a filthy habit," Giles snapped, stalking over to the couch and taking the lit cigarette from Spike's hand.

The smoke curled up between them and Spike sighed. "Aren't they the best kind? Give it back, Rupert. Might as well; you know I'll only go and light another one."

"If you want to smoke, you can bloody well do it outside."

"It's two o'clock in the afternoon and if you'd ever look out the window, you'd spot the blue sky and blazing sunshine. I want to have a smoke, not go up in flames."

Giles didn't even turn his head. Of course it was sunny and bright. It always was. He'd given up hoping for a variant, even though he knew that it did rain, that there were cooler days when he needed a jacket, a warm sweater... It didn't matter. His homesickness had sea-changed the memory of every flat-splat of falling rain into a ray of light, dazzling and bright.

"Are you trying to see what I look like when I'm ecstatic with joy?" he said dryly, producing a hoot of laughter from Spike.

"Way to go with the attempted wit, Rupert. Leave it to the experts next time, why don't you?" Spike nodded at Giles' hand. "Going to give it back, then?"

Giles stared at the cigarette, noting how he'd automatically twitched it into position between his fingers, ready to be raised to his lips.

"Oh..." Spike said in sudden enlightenment. "Like that is it? Should've said. I'm not one to tempt a man beyond endurance by dangling something tempting right in front of his... oh, wait..."

"I'm not tempted," Giles said evenly. "I admit that I've smoked in the past – in my younger days – but it's been years."

He didn't count the ones he'd smoked while under the influence of enchanted candy. None of what he'd done that night counted. Of that he was perfectly certain.

It was a shame his body wasn't listening right now.

"You're addicted," Spike said with an irritatingly confident nod of his head. "Say no more. I like a man with weaknesses. But if you don't watch it, you'll have ash all over the floor – yeah, there it goes."

Giles glanced down at the smear of grey on the carpet and tsked irritably, rubbing it in with the toe of his shoe. The end of the cigarette glowed briefly and he hesitated, looking around for whatever Spike had been using as an ashtray and finding, with a deep indignation, that it'd been a saucer.

"Do you mind?" he snapped, picking up the saucer and cradling it protectively. Minton, dammit, fine china and Spike was abusing it with as little thought as one might expect.

Inflicting any more damage on the delicate glaze was unthinkable and somehow, under Spike's encouraging, amused, sardonically lifted eyebrow of a look, Giles found himself taking a long, satisfying drag of the cigarette.

"Well, you look like you're enjoying that," Spike said softly. "Needed it too, didn't you?"

Dizzy from the unexpected rush of nicotine, Giles ignored him, concentrating on the blissful sensation of filling his lungs with something a damn sight more interesting than fresh air.

"Needed it enough that you don't mind where it's been. Don't mind that I had it in my mouth a minute ago, between my lips..."

Giles blew out a soft, shifting cloud of smoke, the light from the window turning it silver, the breeze shaping it into a phantasmagoria.

"Like having something of mine in your mouth to suck on, do you?"

The length of the white cylinder he held was decreasing, the paper etched and curling in the heat. Giles took a small, careful pull, hoping he could remember how to coax every last flicker from it, knowing he'd be smoking this one down to the filter.

"Got something bigger than that you can try, you know. And I'm not talking about a cigar either."

What brand was it? It was ambrosial but that meant nothing after this long without... Giles squinted at the table beside Spike with the packet and Spike's heavy silver lighter on it. Benson and Hedges Silk Cut. Not his favourite, but it'd do.

One, two, three more drags and it was over. Giles dropped the butt into the saucer and, feeling pleasantly light-headed, turned to go to the kitchen.

He paused. "Spike? Why the hell is your zip down and your – oh my God! Put that away at once." He shook his head in pitying disgust. "You'll do anything to get a rise out of me, won't you? It's utterly pathetic and a complete waste of time."

"Yeah," Spike said moodily, zipping himself up. "Got that right."

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