Friday night was the night Giles and Xander had off, from their jobs, from their vocations, from their friends. The Slayers went on a group patrol under the auspices of Buffy and Faith, and the house was mostly empty for the space of several hours. It was their night home alone. It was the night they played their games, when they were in the mood for games.
Giles had found that Xander usually was.
Dinner was its usual noisy self, with all fifteen of them eating at once, milling through the kitchen and the overloaded dining room. Xander handed him a bowl of the strange stuff Andrew had made, something he called Cincinnati chili. Giles sniffed suspiciously: chocolate? cinnamon? over pasta? Could something with that much orange cheese be edible? But in the end chose to trust Andrew’s judgement. He followed Xander to a corner of the dining room. They sat on the floor together, for there were no empty chairs at the table. Giles surveyed his charges from the vantage of the floor and tried not to worry about them. They were safest en masse. He inched himself over until his knee brushed Xander’s. Xander grinned at him.
“Looking forward to tonight?”
“Is there anything in particular you wanna do?”
Giles glanced around the room. Kennedy was telling a raucous story about her adventures scaling the side of a tall building last night, and what she saw through the windows. The girls were giggling, and no one was paying the least attention to them. They, unlike he, weren’t working themselves into a state over the evening’s patrol. They professed to look forward to it. He couldn’t imagine why. When he looked at each of them, he remembered when he found them, how he’d found them, what had happened to their Watchers. And the ones he hadn’t brought home.
Giles shook himself and returned his gaze to his bowl of questionable chili.
“Whatever you want,” he said. “Don’t want to have any choice or control at all over what’s happening. Bind me and do what you wish.”
“In the mood for some intense stuff, then?”
Giles found himself flushing under Xander’s calm regard. “I’m in the mood not to make decisions.” Giles regretted the words once they were out of his mouth, because Xander would take them literally and quite seriously. But it was said, and Xander nodded solemnly.
“I can take charge. Not a problem. Starting now. Eat your dinner.”
The chili was strange and not entirely to Giles’s taste, and excitement suppressed his appetite. Giles made himself finish it anyway. Food should not be wasted, he’d said to one of the younger Slayers once, Meg, when she’d balked at the sight of broccoli. Giles emptied his bowl and didn’t take a second helping. Not that there was any left; fifteen people ate their way through a great deal of food every day.
It was his night to wash dishes, and he distracted himself with some easy conversation with Vi about the night’s upcoming patrol. Buffy had planned a circuit of one of the older cemeteries, more a scouting patrol than an assault on anything in particular. Vi was looking forward to some action. Giles hoped they saw none, though since it was the Hellmouth he had no such hope. Vi danced around the kitchen while she waited for him to hand her another dish to dry. She was taller than she’d been when he’d rescued her. When? Nine months ago? Less time than that. Her Watcher had been staked to the wall and the Bringers had-- Giles’s recollection stopped there, as always or rather was stopped by iron will. There was no point, especially if it no longer troubled Vi.
He saw her off with the others with the nerves that always tweaked him when they patrolled without him. The trepidations were always with him when these girls left his sight, though he never spoke about his fears or allowed himself to think about their origin. Xander appeared even as he closed the door behind them, giving him not even a minute to work himself up into anxiety.
“Hey,” Xander said, in his ear.
“Oh, ah. Where have you been?”
“Upstairs, getting some stuff ready. Go up now and take your shower.”
The note of sure command in Xander’s voice wasn’t usual. It was more playful between them, most nights. Another of those waves of regret, almost panic, ran through him, but Giles made no outward sign of it. He wasn’t going to be a coward in front of Xander. He merely inclined his head silently, then turned away to ascend three flights of stairs, there to scrub away his work day and his distractions. He took his time about it, to allow himself to slide into the mood. He was something approaching calm by the time he ascended to their room, warm, scrubbed, freshly shaven, wrapped in the robe Dawn had given him. A thrift-shop find, like everything else in the house.
Their attic bedroom was warm despite the autumn chill. Xander had been thoughtful, and left the little quartz heater running. Votive candles burned on the windowsills, on Giles’s desk, on the nightstand, next to a stick of incense streaming sweet smoke into the air. There were other things laid out on the nightstand as well, but Giles made himself look away. He didn’t want to know before it happened, though it was difficult.
Xander locked the door at the foot of the stairs and came up behind to sneak his arms around Giles’s waist. Giles leaned back against him. He was solid, immovable, and he never seemed prey to these fits of nerves. In Xander did Giles live and move and have his being, if that were not sacrilege. Could love be sacrilege? Xander’s hand fidgeted with the belt of Giles’s dressing gown and undid the knot. The robe slipped down from his shoulders to the floor. Giles closed his eyes and let Xander hold him and pet his hair. He let himself lean back and be held up; Xander was strong enough not to mind. When had he last been able to relax like this? How many years had it been?
“Just making sure. There are some things you always flinch away from. Things you say not now to when I ask you. You don’t get to say that tonight. You still okay with this plan?”
“Yes. I’m okay with it. I’m not sure how to say it. I don’t want to have to think or do anything. Just want to feel.”
Xander kissed the back of his neck. “Stress monster. That’s you. The responsibility gets to you, doesn’t it.”
Giles shrugged. “I’m not in charge any more.”
“Yes, you are. Buffy decides what we’re going to do, but it’s you who makes it happen. You’re the one sweating the details. You know it’s true.”
Giles shrugged again: it had always been that way with Buffy. She proposed and he disposed. He was an unworthy servant, and he did merely what it was his duty to do.
“What you need is a timeout, so that’s what you get. Starting now. Kneel on the bed.”
And so began he didn’t know what. A timeout, whatever Xander meant by that. Giles took the three steps to their bed and knelt facing the head. Xander had folded the coverlet at the foot, so he knelt on clean cool sheets.
Apparently it began with a blindfold. Xander tied it at the back of his head and Giles let out a breath he hadn’t realized he’d been holding. Xander hated the blindfold, and Giles understood why. After the first experiment, it stayed in the drawer when Giles was in charge. Giles loved wearing it. Or perhaps love was the wrong word: was terrified and thrilled by it. Simple sex, nothing more than Xander’s hands and mouth on him, was supercharged by the blindfold. The Watcher blinded. Relieved of his burdens for a night. It wasn’t up to him any more.
Next, cuffs at wrists and ankles. Neoprene cuffs, crafted on the cheap by Xander from the remains of a wetsuit that hadn’t survived a fight with a lake demon. The Slayer inside it had: Rona, who’d been disappointed that the slashes hadn’t left scars. Giles had tutted at her and stitched her up. Xander had thriftily collected the remains of her gear for recycling in other projects. And here it was, recycled: Velcro and neoprene and webbing, modern bondage, unromantic but effective. Giles would be bound exactly as Xander wished.
Tugs at his ankles as Xander tested the cuffs. Giles held his wrists up, waiting. Xander tested them, then made a satisfied sound. Something nudged against his lips. The gag. Giles bit his lip. They’d bought it with the highest hopes, but neither one of them liked it. It made his jaw ache and he drooled. Humiliating.
“Last chance,” Xander said.
Giles said nothing but merely opened his mouth to accept it. He wouldn’t have asked for it, but then, it wasn’t up to him. It was Xander’s decision, and Xander had chosen to silence him. And so he was silenced.
“Can’t see your face,” Xander said. “Hate that part, but gotta be done. You need to know you’re completely helpless. And you are, aren’t you?”
Giles shuddered again and nodded.
“I could do anything with you. The things you like, the things you hate, the things you’re scared of but secretly want. Oh, yeah, look at that. Can’t hide it.”
Xander’s hand closed around his cock and Giles thrust into it.
“This turns you on more than anything else we do. You love spanking me, don’t I know it, but you love this more.”
God, yes, he did, he loved it, but he loved everything he did with Xander. Fighting, fucking, working, sleeping, coming, crying, all of it. Full-body tremors. Every time. It was impossible for Giles to distinguish this feeling from terror, save that he was hard, that Xander was stroking him and bringing him up, up.
“I’m right with you,” Xander said. And he was, with one strong arm around Giles’s waist, holding him close. At last Giles’s trembling eased.
“Okay. Enough of that. On your face, please.” Xander pushed him forward, gently.
Face down on the bed, arms spread wide, wrists and ankles anchored. Bless this ancient iron bedstead, so heavy and solid. Giles pulled, hard, reassuring himself that no matter how he struggled later, it would hold. It could be trusted. No choice now.
Xander’s weight settled across his thighs. In jeans, to Giles’s surprise. He’d half expected a rough fuck to start, or something equally intense and brutal. Though he might yet get that. Xander hadn’t moved. His hands rested on Giles’s buttocks. Giles felt himself growing tense, waiting for what might happen now. Pain? Pleasure? Anything Xander wanted. His weight shifted away and returned. Giles heard small sounds that he struggled to parse: a plastic cap, the sound of something being placed on the nightstand. Then Xander’s hands spread him open and something cold pressed against him. A plug, slick and cold, pushed just inside him and held there. Lord, the big one, the one he tormented Xander with, the one that was thicker than either one of them. Xander teased him with it, sliding it in and then out again, opening him slowly. Giles writhed in impatience below him, pushing back in a vain attempt to entice Xander into going faster. Xander responded by pulling back and waiting until Giles subsided onto the bed again. Only then did he press the plug inside again, and this time he went all the way. Hard, heavy, so thick, rubbing against him the way a man inside him might. Giles writhed again, fruitlessly, seeking to rub himself against the bed. He was beyond aroused now.
“Yeah. That’s got your attention, huh? Focus on that for a while, big guy.”
Giles focused. Pleasure, pain, the sensation of being filled. Claimed? Held. Completed. With mouth stopped and hands fixed, Giles had no way to welcome Xander but this. So many men feared it. Giles himself had, until Ethan had shown him the way. So many things Ethan had shown him. It was like the magic had been for them: Giles was the conduit. Ethan gave, he received and redirected. On his own he’d been nothing. It was that way now. He was nothing and no one without his Slayer and her friends to fill him with meaning. Without his lover. Giles writhed again, seeking the limits of his bonds, rubbing himself against the sheets.
Xander stilled him by pressing a hand to the small of his back. Giles clenched his hands into fists then made himself relax. Xander let up, then rested his hands on Giles’s back again. He stroked down, then again. spreading something over him. Massage oil. Warm oil, warm hands, sliding across his shoulders. Giles groaned behind the gag in pure pleasure. Scented oil, not his standard mixture at all, but he liked it. It was sweet and woody at once. Xander’s hands moved on his back, strong and calm and sure, slick with the oil, touching him everywhere. Xander was a good masseur. Anya had taught him the basics, then Giles had given him the Council’s secrets. Now they both knew how to massage a Slayer after a hard patrol. One must keep one’s weapons in perfect working order, after all. Buffy’d never allowed him to do it, but the younger Slayers, the ones who’d grown up with Watchers, loved it. He should do it for them more often, assuming they returned alive–
“You’re still worrying,” Xander said. Giles startled. “I can feel it in your back. Biggest brain in the house, the one inside that big British noggin, and sometimes I think it takes being conked in the noggin to get it to stop spinning.”
Giles shook his head and caught himself before he attempted speech through the gag.
“None of that,” Xander said. “You’re my toy tonight, and I say you lie here and mellow out. Listen to Xander. He’s telling you that you need a vacation. Man, you’re on the go all the time these days. Notice that? Work, training, patrolling, playing patriarch to a houseful of super-powered girls. No wonder you need this. Me, I got it easy. I repair whatever’s stuck under my nose and otherwise just wander around the house making things better.”
Giles shook his head again. Xander did far more than that. Though what was he doing now if not that? Fixing Giles, finding the knots in his shoulders and working them out with strong hands?
“I feel like I’ve just started living. It took losing an eye and my hometown to wake me up. Figured out what I wanna do and who I am. For you, though, it’s same old same old. 'Cept for me. I’m new, huh? Never had one of me before.”
No, and how much did Giles regret that? Though he couldn’t have had Xander before now. Xander hadn’t been until this year, not the Xander that knelt astride his thighs and ran his thumbs down the grooves alongside Giles’s spine. It felt marvelous, each touch riding on the curling edge of pain but breaking to leave relaxation in its wake. Giles felt his mind begin to slow and drift, his awareness to close in on what Xander wanted him to feel. Held tight, penetrated and bound, safe.
Xander’s weight was gone from his legs. He heard more sounds from the nightstand, but this time he didn’t care what they were. It wasn’t up to him any more.
Something brushed over his face. Soft, velvety, many-stranded. The flogger Xander had bought. Suede leather, soft, not a serious tool, but even so Giles had wanted to protest when Xander had shown it to him in the shop. It was too impersonal. Spanking with his hand on bare skin was intimate, Giles felt, and whips were not. But Xander wanted it, and Giles would do anything for him, and besides, how could he protest now? He’d already consented to everything. Xander tickled him with his, over his back and arms. Giles tensed, waiting for the pain.
“Gonna soften you. Gonna soften you until you melt.”
And so let him melt, and make no noise, Giles thought, but could not say, and the first stroke fell across his shoulders. Softly, almost more caress than blow, but it was followed by another and another, infinitely gentle blows from that surprisingly gentle man who was his lover. Gentle, intense, loving, loyal, trustworthy, everything Giles might wish himself to be though he knew he was not. Xander would never flinch from what needed doing, as Giles wished to flinch. Firm, unflinching, making him just with every touch.
Not penance but arousal not pain but awakening, each of the hundred times the flogger kissed his skin. Warmth spreading everywhere it touched, from the soles of his feet up to his outstretched arms. Waves of bliss. Giles rose and fell with them. Up and down, over and over, never ending, waves of sensation, building in him, warmth flooding across him. Harder now. The leather snapped across his back and Xander grunted with the effort of each stroke. He would be begging now, if he could, for a touch, something, anything, permission, a word. He was close, so close, but it wasn’t enough. How long could he endure? How long would he be asked to bear this? Giles was moving now, not even making an effort to control himself, whimpering behind the gag, begging for it never to end. And it didn’t, mercifully, going on and on until at last the tears came. Silently, sightlessly. Xander couldn’t know he was weeping now, but he did know.
Giles felt Xander’s body once again near his, stretched alongside him on the bed. Bare chest and jeans, rough against his sensitive skin. A hand wiping sweat from his forehead, testing the gag, releasing his bonds, touching his hands and feet, rubbing circulation into the fingers Angelus had ruined so long ago. Always careful, his Xander. Careful with his work, with his tools, with his Slayers, with his friends. So patient, as he was now, holding Giles while the flood receded. Giles curled himself against Xander and let himself be held.
To his surprise, Xander removed the gag. He wiped Giles’s chin dry quietly, matter-of-factly, and equally calmly blew his nose. Giles cleared his throat. His jaw ached and there was a foul taste in his mouth. Xander had anticipated that as well, and pressed a bottle into his hands. Giles drank and tasted cool water with lemon. Xander took it back and Giles heard him drink.
“Stretch,” he said. Giles obeyed. His legs had begun to tighten up. He shook his limbs loose and wiggled fingers and toes. He knew it was a brief respite: the plug was inside him yet, and neither one of them had come. He wondered if Xander would grant him that. He felt curiously indifferent. Release came in many forms. Tears were what he’d needed tonight, perhaps.
Xander tugged him closer and leaned down and kissed him. A slow, searching kiss, that Giles gave himself over to. He had choice there, didn’t he? He could have held himself back. But there was no question. He had no desire to hold back with Xander and hadn’t since that first encounter in the back seat of his car. Xander’s kisses were a marvel. Scratchy chin, sloppy and insistent one moment then delicate in the next, soft lips, the indefinable taste of Xander. Giles ran his fingers through Xander’s hair. He loved Xander’s hair, so long and shaggy now that he could wear it in a braid if he wished.
Xander pulled away. Giles protested, but Xander silenced him with fingers across his lips.
“Sleep for a while now. I’ll wake you later.”
He bound Giles again, wrists together, feet together and then to the foot of the bed. He’d sleep blindfolded and plugged, then. Giles pulled at his bonds: solid, enough play that he’d be able to sleep, tight enough that he’d know himself bound when he awoke. Xander spread the blankets over him. Giles sighed. It would be fine. Xander set everything right. Giles trusted him all the way down and had since-- since when? Years, now. Since Xander had pulled him out of Angelus’s mansion, concussed and heartsick, with mangled fingers that would never be what they had been before. Xander couldn’t set that right any more than Giles could restore Xander’s eye.
Some game this was, that they played with their lives and bodies. That his Slayers played right now with their lives, even as he lay in bed wrapped in warm blankets. They none of them would die in bed.