Giles sank onto the couch and took a long, slow swallow of whisky. It might not cure the world’s ills but it was making him feel better. His mouth was still experiencing the pleasant tingle from a malt blended to perfection when a knock at the door shattered the illusion of peace.
Giles swore under his breath and pulled himself up wearily. No one he knew ever bothered to knock which meant that it was someone he didn’t want to see. At least he could rule out a demon. Like the Scoobies, they tended toward the ‘mi casa es su casa’ approach. For the first time that evening, but not the last, Giles was wrong.
“Wesley? Good Lord! What brings you here? Please, come in.”
His former colleague smiled. “Forgotten the first rule, Giles?”
Giles raised an eyebrow and then smiled back as he took Wesley’s meaning. “Good rule but if you turn your head – yes, there. You show up nicely in the mirror I hung to reflect the doorway.”
Wesley nodded, pleased that the first awkward moments had been smoothed over so easily. Giles showed him to a seat, poured him a glass of single malt and sat down with an expectant look.
Wesley sipped appreciatively and then began to speak, his eyes fixed on the amber liquid in the glass he held. “I haven’t seen you for a while, have I?”
“No. You left Sunnydale as soon as the hospital released you. I was a little – surprised that you didn’t stop by to make your farewells.”
Wesley looked over at him. “You were? I didn’t know that. I’m sorry. I made such a bloody mess of things from start to finish that I’m afraid I ended my time here as I began it – by taking the easy way out.”
Giles frowned, his eyes sharp as he studied Wesley. “I think you’re being a little hard on yourself. We didn’t get off to a good start and you made some spectacular mistakes but –”
Wesley grimaced. “Please. Don’t remind me.”
“But you came through in the end,” Giles finished. “You fought beside the Slayer in one of her more spectacular battles and acquitted yourself –”
His voice trailed off and Wesley smiled bitterly. “Cordelia killed more vampires than I did.”
“She only staked one...oh.”
“It doesn’t matter, Giles. I haven’t come here for reassurance.”
“Bloody good job. I’ve got enough on my hands right now,” Giles said bluntly. “Besides, from what I gather, you’re being of considerable assistance to Angel.”
Wesley’s shoulders straightened. “Yes, I think if you leave off the adjective that’s a fair and accurate description.”
Their eyes met and the tension dissipated in a shared smile. “Still brooding, is he?”
“Oh, my, yes.”
Giles picked up the bottle and walked over to refresh Wesley’s drink. Wes glanced up with a nod of thanks and Giles felt a tug of affection that startled him with its intensity. Wes was so like what he had been, could have been, might have been. Watching him change and grow had been fascinating. Having him leave so abruptly had hurt him more than he cared to admit, but that had been drowned in the greater hurt of finding himself sidelined and unemployed. Wesley was still fighting. He’d virtually retired. Fighting back the urge to sit down on the chair beside Wes, he retreated to the couch.
“You know, this whiskey is a real treat but I am driving –”
“No; you must stop the night. Really. It’s no trouble.”
Wesley smiled. “Thank you. I won’t even pretend that I didn’t hope you’d say that. However, I’d still like to beg for a cup of tea. I know you’ll be able to make a proper pot, unlike these revoltingly soggy teabags on strings they give you over here.”
Giles laughed. “Of course. I’ll go and put the kettle on.”
Over the rush of water he heard Wes call out but it wasn’t until he’d turned off the tap that the words registered. When they did he groaned and turned but it was too late. By the time he reached the bathroom Spike already had Wes against the ropes.
“You scream like a –”
“Finish that sentence and I dust you where you lie, vampire!”
“Like a Ragnith demon.”
“Ah. Fair enough. Known for their fierce, warrior like battle cries aren’t they?”
“No. Everyone agrees they scream like girls.”
Giles sighed and Wesley whirled around, his eyes flashing indignantly. “You have a vampire chained in your bath tub!” Giles’ expression was sufficient to make him flush. “Well, yes, I suppose that’s not exactly news, is it. But you have to admit it’s unusual.”
“It’s a bloody pain in the arse,” Giles said, giving Spike a look of resigned loathing. “However, there are excellent reasons for it, even though they escape me on an hourly basis, so I’d be grateful – God, it hurts to say it – if you didn’t stake Spike. We need him.”
Spike smirked, his eyes going between the two men with a speculative gleam. “Going to introduce us, Rupert? And am I included in the bevvies? I’ll take whatever’s going in a nice warm mug of blood. Spiked blood. Ha. Get it?”
Giles cast his eyes up in despair. “Blood, yes. My alcohol, no. Wesley, this is Spike. Spike this is Wesley. I think you’ve both heard about each other so that should suffice.”
He turned to leave and was stopped by Wesley’s hand on his arm. “Giles, I really need to pee – and well, I don’t need an audience. Does he stay in there all the time?”
“Oh, yes.” Spike said, a wide smile on his face. “All the time. Shocking really what the Watcher gets up to with his rubber duck.”
“Spike, don’t push it.” Giles gave Wesley a rather impatient look. “He has a chair I use when I need to shower but it’s a real performance getting the chains undone. Are you sure you can’t – oh, never mind. Spike, you get to come out but you’re going right back in, understand?”
“After my blood,” Spike said firmly. “Need to stretch my legs as well.”
When Wesley emerged from the bathroom, Spike and Giles were facing each other, mere inches separating them, identical looks of frustration and – was it relish?- on their faces.
“ – is not open to negotiation, Spike! Sit down and let me tie you up, or I’ll –”
“What? You’ll do what exactly, Rupert? Staking me’s not allowed and you wouldn’t hit a defence – ow!”
Wesley’s slightly embarrassed cough had them both turning to him and he flinched slightly. “I’m done, so if you want to just put Spike back...”” he offered weakly.
“No!” Spike said, folding his arms. “Been in there for hours. I’m bored stiff and stiff as a board. I want a time out. Promise I won’t try and escape.”
“That’s less of an inducement than you seem to suppose,” Giles said sourly, but clearly resigning himself to the inevitable. “Very well. Sit down and shut up.” He turned to Wesley. “I’m so sorry, Wesley. Just pretend he isn’t there. Now what was it we were talking about? Oh, yes. Tea.”
“Tea?” Spike spluttered with laughter and then subsided as Giles glared at him.
“On second thought, I might stick with the whiskey,” Wesley said, meeting Spike’s challenging stare. “Giles, what <i>is</i> he doing here?”
“More to the point,” Giles said, as they both sank back into their seats, “what are you?”
Wesley’s gaze slid past Giles to Spike, sitting outside the informal circle of sofa and chairs, but far from out of earshot. Spike smiled slowly as comprehension dawned.
“Well, why didn’t you just say you have a date, Giles? I’d have buggered off somewhere and left you in peace. Not like you get lucky more than once a decade, is it now.”
Giles and Wesley’s eyes met for one charged, hot moment of sheer embarrassment and then they spoke as one. “It’s not a date!”
Spike stood and strolled over to them, perching nonchalantly on the arm of the couch. “Excuse me? Did you just say what I thought you said?”
“I believe that line would be more appropriate from us,” Giles said. “And get back to your chair.”
Spike ignored the last part and smirked down at Giles. “Say it again, Giles. Tell me you don’t have the hots for young Wes here. Tell me you didn’t just try to lie to me.”
“Of course I don’t, and that has to be the most ridiculous – why are you laughing?”
“I know,” said Wesley, staring down into his mostly empty glass and tilting it from side to side as though hypnotised by the shifting liquid. “It was covered in the Council newsletter. Issue 34, I believe.”
“You read that drivel?” Giles exclaimed. “Good Lord, I just throw mine in the bin as soon as it arrives.”
“I noticed,” Wesley said, flicking him a glance. “And yes, I do read them. If you had, you might have known about Gwendolyn Post.”
Giles accepted the reproof with good grace and then said, “So what earth shattering discovery was chronicled in that issue?”
“Vampires can smell a lie,” Spike put in. He glanced at Wesley who nodded reluctantly. “Taken you bloody long enough to cop to that, but we’ve still got a few tricks up our sleeve, I’ll wager.” He slid down beside Giles and stretched out his legs, thrusting his hips up in a move that drew both men’s gaze but which was, for once unstudied.
“I don’t believe a word of it,” Giles said flatly. “The Council has its head up its bloody arse but I refuse to accept that it’s sunk so low as to endorse myths like that.”
“It’s a complex assessment of physiological changes,” Wesley explained, looking wretchedly uncomfortable. “Your body reacts to a lie and a vampire, with its heightened senses, can, in some circumstances, detect the changes.”
“Some circumstances,” Giles said, latching onto salvation with a death grip. “Spike, you’re either making trouble or your chip is having an effect on more than your ability to be violent.”
“Chip?” Wesley said, raising his eyebrows and momentarily distracted from his churning emotions. He couldn’t allow himself to believe that Giles -
“Bloody soldiers,” Spike explained, eager for a fresh audience. “Operated on me. Diabolical infringement of my civil liberties –”
“Oh God,” Giles sighed, rolling his eyes. “Here we go again.”
“ – and put this sodding chip in my skull. Can’t feed, can’t so much as thump someone without this pain ripping through me. God, it’s unbelievable.” He waited, in vain, for outpourings of sympathy and then sniffed as Wesley’s steady gaze showed nothing but distant approval of his condition. “Fine. Be on the side of the folks who’ll have you out of a job by Christmas.”
Wesley looked at Giles who shrugged. “They do seem remarkably efficient at hunting demons, but I’d back Buffy against them any day,” he said, with more conviction that loyalty. He really didn’t trust that lot at all.
Spike sensed that the conversation was drifting and brought it back to a more amusing topic.
“So, you think I can’t do it then, Watcher?”
“What? Oh...be a walking lie detector. Certainly not.”
“I’ll prove it,’ said Spike. “In return for a drink. Very rude of you two to sit there necking back the booze and not offer me some.”
“Wesley is a guest. You’re an infestation.”
“That’s what you call ‘em these days, is it?” Spike murmured, with a wicked grin.
Giles’ lips thinned and he stood, got a glass of whiskey for Spike to shut him up, and refilled his and Wesley’s glasses while he was at it. Spike studied the small measure sadly and then downed it in one.
“Good stuff. Right. I’ll ask you a question, you answer and I’ll tell you if you’re lying. Wes here can write it down. If I can get say eight out of ten –”
“Ten out of ten,” Giles said firmly.
“That’s not very fair,” Wesley said. He looked at Giles apologetically. “You could tell Spike he’s wrong and we’d have no way of knowing.”
“Well, thank you, Wesley,” Giles muttered.
“It’s simple enough,” Wesley said, refusing to feel hurt at Giles’ disappointed look. “I’ll ask the questions; things I know the answers to but Spike couldn’t possibly.”
“Sounds like a plan to me,” Spike said, over Giles’ indignant refusal and taking advantage of the situation to casually appropriate the bottle of malt and pour generous refills. Giles and Wesley were so intent on each other that they barely noticed. “Off you go, lad.”
Giles tensed as Wesley sat rapt in thought for a while, taking frequent sips at his drink. This was futile. Spike knew he’d made an accurate guess and Wesley seemed to have elevated that bloody rag of Travers’ to Holy Writ. Giles took slight comfort in the fact that neither of them were howling with laughter or, in Wesley’s case, stalking toward the door, outraged and disturbed. The fact that Wesley, at least, seemed well on the way to being drunk, might have had something to do with it. Giles tried to drink from an empty glass, gave it a puzzled look and then nodded in automatic thanks as Spike refilled his glass.
Wesley glanced over and smiled shyly at Giles who found himself flushing as he let his concerned scowl soften in reply. The urge to kick Spike out into the night and make Wesley smile with pleasure was very strong. Then Spike shifted beside him and Giles found himself studying the vampire’s scarred eyebrow and wanting to trace that interrupted line with finger and tongue before moving down to – Christ, stop it, you pathetic fool, he chided himself. One’s not interested and the other would use it as a weapon.
“Did you own a dog named Benjy?” Wesley began.
Giles opened his mouth to deny such a hideous suggestion and then sighed. “I’m attracted to you, Wesley. There’s no need to continue with all this. I’ll...you can let yourself out. If you wouldn’t mind just chaining Spike up for me?”
He stood, avoiding their looks of surprise and began to walk past Spike. A hand shot out and grabbed at him. Spike’s fingers hooked inside Giles’ belt and pulled him back so that he landed sprawled on the couch with his legs across Spike’s lap.
“What the hell are you playing at?” Giles demanded, struggling to sit up.
“Could ask you the same thing, mate.”
Spike’s voice was unexpectedly free from gibe and Giles twisted to face him, his body stilling. “I don’t –”
Spike nodded his head in Wesley’s direction. “You never asked if he was lying too. When I said it was a date. He knew it wasn’t...but he wanted it to be, didn’t you, Wesley?”
Giles couldn’t stand not being able to see Wesley’s face. Putting his hand flat against Spike’s chest, he pushed away and rolled to the floor, scrambling up hastily. Wesley was staring at Spike, lips parted, eyes wild with shock.
“Wesley?” Giles said hesitantly. “Why did you come here tonight?”
Wesley stood and went to Giles. “To see you. Nothing more, I swear. I just – I just wanted to see you.”
Giles found himself looking at Spike and Wesley’s sharp gasp of panic only made Spike’s smile wider.
“Wanted to see you naked, more like,” Spike said off handedly. “Want me to tell you how he strips, pet?” He raised an eyebrow and Wesley began to stammer words that never achieved coherency.
“Spike," Giles said wearily. “I haven’t drunk enough to find you amusing, nor to make me doubt my ability to inflict considerable pain upon your skinny arse. So, for the last time, sit down, shut up and –”
“Tell me,” Wesley said abruptly, taking a defiant swig at his drink. “How the hell do you know anyway?”
Giles threw up his hands and headed for the bottle. It was about the only thing in the room that wasn’t changing in incomprehensible ways with every passing moment.
“Seen him in the shower...seen him getting dressed...seen him from top to toe.” Spike let his gaze run appraisingly over Giles, slumped across the couch and sipping moodily at his drink. “Not bad. Not bad at all. I’d give him one. If he asked. Which he never did,” he added kindly, doing his feeble best to reassure Wesley who was looking slapped with a wet fish stunned.
“I wouldn’t lay a finger on your cold, dead, scrawny body if you begged me, Spike,” Giles said.
Spike achieved a creditable sneer for someone with a mouthful of whiskey, swallowed it and, swaying slightly, said bluntly, “Bollocks. Even Wesley knows that’s a bloody lie.” He turned to Wesley who had sat down again and appealed to him: “He knows I’ve got nowhere to go, knows I can’t bite him – and he chains me up as far away from his bed as he can get me. What does that say?”
Wesley shrugged, drank, and shrugged again. “Wants to fuck you?” he hazarded.
“Go to the head of the class, pet. Understandable. I’m the ultimate forbidden fruit to your type, aren’t I?” Giles snorted with laughter at the unintentional pun and Spike played back his words and grinned too. “That’s better, Giles. Relax. Might be dead on patrol tomorrow, after all. Watchers don’t make old bones, do they now?”
“Some do,” Wesley objected.
“You and Giles are too much the hero type,” Spike said cynically. “Blaze of glory men. Boring, joyless, uptight blaze of –”
“What are you trying to do, Spike?” Wesley said. “Playing Cupid? Trying to get rid of me? Annoying Giles ‘til he stakes you? What?”
His voice was slower but he was still speaking clearly and his eyes, though hazy, were still surprisingly sharp. Giles emerged from a fog of introspection and drawled, “Good questions, Wesley. Cross examine the annoying git.”
Spike went over to the couch, grabbed Giles by the front of his sweater, hauled him up effortlessly and kissed him with careful thoroughness before letting him go so that Giles fell backward. Two long strides took him to Wesley’s chair and he stared down at him before crooking one finger imperiously. Wesley rose like a hooked fish, breathing rapidly, and Spike kissed him with an impatience that rode over any hesitancy Wesley might have shown until all that was left was a hunger for more.
Spike stepped back and looked at them both. “That just about covers my evil plans, gentlemen.” He waved a hand at Giles. “Been wanting to fuck you for days.” He turned to face Wesley. “You’re a bonus.”
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