Giles knew he was dreaming. He knew it because he knew that Jenny was dead and Ethan was dead and the last time he’d talked to them it had turned out to be the First, and that was how he’d learned about Ethan. They were dead and he was dreaming and he didn’t mind, because it was a gift rarely given: lucid dreams about two of his great loves. Lucid dreams, for a Watcher, were mystical and significant. Signs and portents, the way the Powers chose to speak with him. Giles dreamed of Ethan and Jenny and the flat in Sunnydale where he’d slept with each of them.
It felt real. It smelled of incense, the way his flat had, and he could hear the wind chimes in his window. Ethan’s red satin shirt was bright, and Ethan’s casual hand on his arse as impudent as it had ever been. Jenny was warm and solid in his arms. She wore silk and she smelled like honey. Gold glittered in her ears and navel and tongue. Giles licked his lips. Where else did she hide treasure?
“You escaped the fall, Snobby,” she told him.
“With the shirt on my back and nothing more,” Giles said, and kissed her. She tasted like honey too.
“That’s more than we carried out of it,” Ethan said. His voice was a silky whisper. He was behind Giles, arms around his waist, face poked over his shoulder. Giles felt safe held close between these two. Whatever had happened between them in the past, it was over now and he’d forgiven them, and they him.
Ethan continued. “Besides, you never looked back once you knew she was safe.”
It was true. Once he’d known Buffy was on the bus, he’d stopped caring what the pit had eaten. He’d have abandoned it all for her.
“Not to mention the boy. He’s grown into quite a man.” Jenny’s eyes were bright with mischief. She fiddled with his tie. “I might be tempted myself. Lovely dark eyes.”
“All that delicious muscle, mmm, Ripper? And he’s like you. A slave to destiny.”
Jenny loosened the knot of his tie and pulled it free from his collar. Giles drew in a deep breath. He hadn’t realized until the moment it was gone that it had been choking him. “Lose the tweed, Rupert. It isn’t you. Did you ever wonder what made you who you are?”
“What drew you to this place, these friends?” Ethan’s voice husky in his ear, his fingers nimble on the fly of Giles’s trousers. “I was a mere detour along the way. Never could dissuade you from being one of them, no matter how I tempted you.”
“And you never hesitated when you chose her over me,” Jenny said. She’d unbuttoned his shirt all the way. Giles felt the guilt well up in him, almost a reflexive reaction, but the accusation he’d seen in Jenny’s face was not there in her dream self. “Pretty interesting, huh? You should look into it some time.”
Ethan said, “Not right now, though. You’ve got a little time to play, Ripper, before you need to know. Janus, but I’ve missed this.”
With those words Ethan slid Giles’s trousers down. Jenny’s dress fell away at the same moment. Giles picked her up and laid her down on the bed and rolled with her. She welcomed him with that wicked, wicked smile and hands that gripped his wrists and held them fast. Or were those Ethan’s hands on him, pinning him down?
“It’s good you’re doing this again,” Jenny told him. Ethan bit deep into his shoulder, and Giles cried out and rocked his hips forward.
He was inside Jenny now and Ethan inside him. The three of them moved as one, in and out together. Jenny was inside him and he inside Ethan. He was the conduit. Power rushed through him. He loved them both and they loved him. The pleasure built in him and built until he was on the edge and falling over and spilling himself into Jenny, crying out her name even as she and Ethan called his. Ripper, Rupert, names he never heard.
Giles woke. He opened his eyes to the perfect darkness of a blindfold. Dream? Someone was fucking him, draped over him, moving slowly inside him. Not Ethan; Jenny was not in his arms. He was bound hand and foot, as he’d been last night when Xander had told him to sleep. Hands and feet held fast, face down, sheets a mess below him, and his shoulders and backside were sore. It was Xander’s weight on him, Xander’s chin scratching his neck, Xander’s cock deep inside him, as Ethan’s had been. No Jenny wrapped around his body, no Jenny for him to be deep inside, no sweetness on his lips. They were both gone. Dream. They’d been a dream. He almost wept.
The sadness of his orgasm faded and he woke further. Xander. No tear-floods for his absent loves: he had Xander now. Xander, who was whispering in his ear, saying the most absurd and sweet things about the way his body felt. So like him, this obscene patter-song of affection and lust. Giles wished he could reach back and touch him, thank him. That feeling of utter safety and love in the dream had to have come from Xander, embracing him in reality while Giles was somewhere else in dream. Sweet foolish Xander.
He wasn’t Ethan, oh no most definitely not, and not just because of that muscled chest. He was so straightforward in comparison with Ethan. And so open compared to Jenny, who’d held secrets inside that she’d carried to her grave. Three people he’d loved in his life. He’d taken more to his bed when he’d been young, most of them without caring tuppence for them, and how foolish that had been. Three of them he’d loved. Those two. The man embracing him now, gasping in his ear, words at last dissolved by the pleasure of impending orgasm.
Sweet to hear, sweet to feel, Xander in the throes. The slump of his spent body across Giles’s back, then the inevitable obscenity.
“Fuck. Slow’s good. You told me that, but I didn’t believe you. Thought I was dead.”
Giles smiled into the pillow. La petite mort. He would tell Xander later. “You lived.”
“Mmm. Love you, big guy.”
Xander did something at the head of the bed, and Giles’s wrists were released. He rolled his shoulders and touched his hand to the blindfold across his face. He had lost all sense of time. It didn’t feel like morning yet, though. “What’s the time?” he asked, cautiously.
“Are they back yet?”
Xander didn’t answer him, and Giles realized he’d violated the rules by asking. He was still blindfolded, so it wasn’t over yet. He touched the blindfold again. Xander crawled down to the foot of the bed and released his feet. Giles stretched his legs and grunted. He didn’t want it to end. He was floating in a bubble of unreality, where he had nothing to do and no one to worry about. The flesh was weak, though his spirit craved more. Giles said nothing. His wish had been granted fivefold and it would be impudent to ask for more. But perhaps he would get it: Xander fastened his wrists together again.
Xander helped him sit up then held the water bottle for him. Giles gulped it dry.
“You were dreaming,” Xander said. “I was sure you’d wake up when I started fucking you, but instead you dreamed. You were calling out for Ethan. I thought maybe it was a nightmare, but you sounded like it felt good. Was it good?”
“What did you dream?”
Giles might in other circumstances have held his tongue, but that wasn’t the rule. The rule was he had no choice. He answered without demur.
“I was in bed with Ethan and Jenny, making love with both of them at once. I thought at first it was mystically significant but now I’m not sure. Too, ah, carnal.”
“Wet dreams aren’t prophetic, huh?”
“I wouldn’t say that. Sex magic can be profound. There was something–” He trailed off, trying to remember. Jenny had said he should look into something, something to do with being a Watcher. All that was left now was scent. Ethan’s aftershave, Jenny’s perfume. The oil Xander had rubbed into his back hours before. He shook his head.
Xander got out of bed. Giles listened to him moving around the room and tried to guess what he was about.
Then, a noise outside. A car, two cars, pulling into their driveway, engines cutting off. Giles sat up. Car doors slamming and voices, too loud for the hour. They were back. One of them slammed the door and the whole house shuddered. Giles went still and listened carefully, but they were too distant from the rest of the house. No sound of urgent feet pounding up to their door, however. That meant no injuries, even. Routine. He let himself relax. The blindfold came free from his face. Giles blinked.
A single candle burned on the nightstand. Xander’s face in its light was ironic. “Well, I distracted you for most of it,” he said.
Giles ducked his head. “Thank you.”
“Ever think about talking to a shrink, Giles?”
“Me neither. They’d lock us up for all the wrong reasons.”
Xander showed no signs of wanting to release his wrists. Giles didn’t mind; it was almost comforting to feel the cuffs tight around him. He cradled his hands against his chest and let Xander pull the coverlet up over his shoulders. Xander blew out the candle, but the end of the wick glowed in the darkness for some time. Giles watched it glow while he listened to Xander breathe.
He remembered what Ethan had said now. One of them. What had he meant? He’d said that to Giles once before, when Giles had packed his things and left. One of the Watchers. But they were all dead, every one. Giles had seen their bodies. So what did it mean?