“Don’t get up,” Ethan told him. Giles watched him busy himself at his sideboard, pouring a generous slug of something into a glass. He stepped back across the carpet, silent. The tumbler was heavy in Giles’s hand. Crystal. And the whisky was good. Ethan had done well for himself. Giles supposed he ought to ask questions about exactly how he had managed to do well, but the thought made him inexpressibly tired.
“Back for good?”
“Yes. Had my things shipped back weeks ago. Been sitting in the place in Bath, waiting for me.”
“What was the holdup?”
Giles shrugged. “Hard to leave.”
“That bloody awful little place? Population twenty thousand, at least a quarter of it living in the sewers, the rest in the gutter. Expected you to scarper the moment you could.”
Ethan was silent. Then, “I am sorry, old boy.”
Giles stared at his Scotch, at the ice melting into it, and wondered if Ethan had meddled with it. “That had the ring of sincerity.”
“It was sincere.”
Giles watched Ethan drink from his own glass, then let his head fall back against the armchair. “Sorry, sorry. I’m useless company just now, I’m afraid.”
Bloody useless he all was, bloody useless they all were, pointless, years of work all pointless, all of it wasted to save a girl who wasn’t even a real human being. He tipped the glass up and had a healthy swallow. It burned nicely on the way down.
“I knew what sort of company you’d be when I asked you here.”
“No idea why you did,” Giles said, into his glass. If Ethan had slipped him another mickey, so much the better.
“Because, once upon a time, we had a chat about this eventuality.” Ethan held his own glass up to the light. “We made a bargain with each other. That you’d contact me when, well, when you were in the situation you’re now in.”
“Did we?” Giles had no recollection of this conversation. Strange that such things left, while he could still call to mind the texts he’d been studying when that must have happened.
“Indeed. You told me what Watchers who lose their Slayers generally end up doing.”
“Suicide by vampire,” Giles said, automatically. It was in the Council handbook. Watch for the signs, it read. Preserve your fellow Watcher’s knowledge so they might expend the life of the next hapless girl more efficiently than they had expended the last.
The ice in his glass rattled. Empty already, it seemed.
“Planning on following the trend? Or are you going to be the inventive sort?”
Giles shrugged. “Seems like a lot of bother.”
The glass vanished from his hands; Ethan had plucked it away and was bearing it off across the room. “I can see I chose the wrong means of consolation. Come on, old boy. Time for you to enjoy my skills at massage.”
Giles snorted. “I know where that will end.”
“And what if it does?”
“Don’t play games with me, Ethan.”
“I can see fifty not far ahead of me, Rupert, and I’ve lost patience for games. Well, not all of them.” Ethan grinned. “Come to bed. You’ll feel better.”
Giles doubted it. He stood anyway and allowed Ethan to lead him by the hand down a darkened hallway and into a bedroom. Ethan’s. Unmistakably his taste on display, from the thick rug underfoot to the curtains on the high bed. Giles sat on the edge of the mattress and untied his boots. Ethan lit a candle on the nightstand, and Giles saw that condoms and slick were already set out. He supposed he’d known what would happen when he’d accepted Ethan’s invitation to stop by for a drink, though he hadn’t even let himself express the hope. It seemed too soon to be feeling selfish pleasure again.
Apparently Ethan wasn’t going to waste time with the pretext of massage. Pity; Giles hadn’t had one in ages. Though soon even that thought left him, for what Ethan chose to do instead was touch him. Simply touch him, all over his body, as he slowly stripped him. Slow soft strokes everywhere. Along his arms, down his back, gently across his chest. Ethan lingered a moment on the fresh scar on his stomach, where the lance had gone. It had taken its sweet time healing, though perhaps that had been his own fault for refusing the bedrest the doctor had demanded. At first the need had been too urgent, and then he’d-- then he’d simply refused to let himself sit still.
He was still now under Ethan’s exploring hands. His body was slowly waking despite himself as Ethan unbuttoned his trousers and slid them down his legs. Giles lay naked on luxurious sheets and watched while his oldest friend undressed himself. A trim body yet, graying now, with its own scars from a life intemperately lived. In bed with him yet again, for another round. Giles suspected they’d be falling into bed with each other for as long as they were capable. He saw Ethan for a moment, white-haired and stooped, grinning that mocking grin at him, prick just as unabashedly rampant as it was now.
Ethan’s fingers slid around behind and between, touched him just there, and paused. Giles supposed he ought to object. Ethan was waiting for him to object, no doubt, and would have a retort waiting. Instead Giles simply rolled onto his stomach and laid his forehead against his forearms. Let Ethan do what he wanted. What did it matter?
He was mercifully silent as he did so, for once, though he took his sweet bloody time about it. Ethan liked it smooth. Smooth liquor, satin sheets, knives so sharp one never felt when one was being cut. He liked his sex smooth as well, wanted his partners eager and open when he finally got round to entering them. Giles found himself anticipating the moment without quite knowing how he’d allowed himself to do so. Slippery fingers inside him, touching him in ways he hadn’t been touched in too long, rousing him. He’d wondered if he’d be able to respond at all. Apparently the answer was yes.
Ethan settled himself between Giles’s thighs, and Giles breathed in, let it out slowly as Ethan pressed himself inside. Relax, relax, let it happen. Let his old mate take care of him, as he’d promised so long ago. Giles remembered it now, remembered when the promise had been made on both sides. Remembered the sex that had followed the oaths, so intense. As if they would love each other forever. He’d believed it then. Believed it might last, when the truth was that nothing did. Though here they were now, so many years later, in bed yet again.
Face down, head resting on crossed arms, legs sprawled out. His own penis was trapped underneath his body, hard against his belly. Ethan’s weight was on him, pinning him down. It felt good in ways Giles was not yet willing to examine, to be held so tight. Fixed in place. He shifted his hips to rub himself against Ethan’s sheets, and concentrated on the physical pleasure instead. Friction, inside and out, his whole body sliding against those slick sheets.
“That’s right. Move with me.”
Giles moved. He dug his fingers into the sheets and remembered Sunnydale, the intensities of its pleasures. Jenny under him, for a few precious evenings. Joyce. Both gone. Olivia, safe but out of reach. Ethan, who’d been there as well, in that Sunnydale bed more than once, underneath him and on top of him by turns. And that was Ethan on top of him now, biting into his shoulder now, shocking him back into the present.
God, he’d missed this. Ethan in bed with him, Ethan inside him, moving in him, the bloody wonderful feeling of a cock in his arse and his own prick hard and demanding. Giles groaned and thrust his hips against the bed harder.
“That’s it, that’s my boy,” said Ethan in his ear. His hand gripping Giles’s hip was painfully tight, and that felt wonderful too. It was building fast now. Couldn’t hold it back, didn’t want to hold it back.
“Close,” he said, “Going to come.”
“Go on, Rupert. I’ve got you.”
Orgasm came over him in slow waves, endless until they ended. There were tears on his face and he was breathing in gasps. Ethan petted his hair, told him it was all right, it would be all right. Giles buried his face in the bed. Post coitum triste, that was all it was. Above him Ethan was chasing his own completion, and Giles focused on him instead, on those last desperate thrusts into his body, on those familiar sounds of Ethan in orgasm. And then another moment of loss when Ethan withdrew and left him empty and spent. Alone in the bed. But only for a moment, for Ethan returned with a glass of water and a solicitous hand on the blankets.
Giles rolled onto his side to contemplate Ethan sprawled on his back on a mound of pillows, sweaty and self-satisfied, with a little smile on the corner of his mouth. Giles leaned over him and kissed the smile. Ethan gripped the back of his neck and held him close. The odd thing was, he did feel better. Just a breath better, but it was enough to let him hope.
“You’ll stay the night,” Ethan said.
Giles laid his head on Ethan’s shoulder and his arm across his waist. He didn’t bother objecting to that, either.