TITLE: Circle of Three
TIMING: Fourth season...future, somewhere
SUMMARY: A spell goes wrong for Willow and Ethan so Ethan goes to Giles for help
FEEDBACK: Yes please :) No flames...unless they come with a fireman who looks like Giles.
AUTHORS NOTE: Thanks to Brenda for the inspiration.
Ethan shifted her weight slightly. She weighed next to nothing, but Rupert was taking his sweet time answering the damned door. He looked down at her pale face again. Not since he was a small boy had anything terrified him as much as the prospect of losing her. In fact he didn't want to think about the last thing that had terrified him that much. A small boy in a dark room should never have to wake to the smell of scotch and someone's weight on top of him...
The door finally opened. Giles' eyes widened as he absorbed the scene before him. "What have you done to her?" he rasped in a voice that would have frightened the dead, and did terrify Ethan.
He knew better than to argue, instead pushing past Giles and into the apartment. "It's a spell," he said roughly. "And we did it together...only it didn't work...entirely. I don't know why and there's only one way to reverse it. Unfortunately I don't seem to be up to the task."
Giles' eyes narrowed as he eyed the unconscious figure in Ethan's arms. "A spell?" He touched her brow tenderly. "She's burning up." He pulled her from Ethan's arms. "How long has she been like this? Her lips are dry. She's dehydrated, feverish and her colour is terrible."
"A couple of hours, maybe," Ethan said hollowly. "It was fine at first, bloody brilliant in fact. We were both...well, it became apparent after a couple of hours that things weren't working quite the way they were supposed to...after that it was more like hard work...until we had to stop because she started to feel poorly."
Giles unconsciously drew the small figure closer. She reeked of Ethan. "What the hell did you need a spell for? And what gave you the right...?"
"Shut up, Ripper, before you humiliate yourself," Ethan said irritably. "First of all, the spell was for her. Second of all she gave me the right. We've spent a lot of time together since she came to me after you refused to teach her. At first I thought it would be good sport to annoy you by giving her what she wanted."
Giles' arms tightened protectively, and his face slowly became a mask. "If you've hurt her, or-"
Ethan snorted. "I could have, but I didn't. Pretty soon I started missing her when she wasn't around, then wanting her to be around all the time. I'm too fucking old for this, Ripper. If anything happens to her because of this spell..."
Giles looked down at her again. "There's a bottle of sports drink in the refrigerator. Get it. She needs the electrolytes and the fluids. Then go and run the bath. She's breathing normally but her heart rate is up. It's strong but we still have to get her temperature down."
Ethan swiftly returned with the bottle of orange sports formula and a wet cloth, left them with Giles, now seated on the sofa, while he went to run the bath.
Giles unwrapped the blanket from around the slender figure and discovered that she was still unclothed. He sighed and flicked the ends of the blanket away, allowing the cool air of the apartment access to the pale skin. Slowly, and with a not quite steady hand, he sponged her face, her hair, her lips, then trailed the damp cloth down to gently wipe her throat, her chest, her hands.
"Willow?" he called softly, and watched the eyes flickering under the drawn lids. "Willow, please..." He wiped her forehead, her cheeks again, then put the cloth down and began to stroke her hair. "Willow, love, wake up."
The lids flickered again. Then, as though it was all she could do, she forced them open and looked up again with glazed, unfocused eyes, took a long draught of the drink he immediately put to her lips, before weakly pushing it away.
"Giles? You're here...?" The huge emerald eyes filled with tears. "Why...?" she whispered. "Why couldn't you have loved me...?"
Before Giles could speak, the lids closed again, the sooty lashes dark against the pale, tender cheekbones. After a long moment just staring at her, he sobbed under his breath. It wasn't possible...He couldn't have done this to her. She couldn't have wanted him...
Trembling fingers reached out and trailed down a tender cheek. None of them had ever wanted him; they'd only wanted things from him. And Willow, most of all, had wanted him to teach her things he was terrified of her ever knowing about, much less practising. She couldn't have wanted him...else why would she have gone to Ethan...?
But he was no fool, the tears now sliding down his unshaven cheeks testament to the fact that in his heart he knew exactly why she'd gone to Ethan.
He drew her close again and kissed her brow, rested his against it. "God, I've been such a bloody fool..."
Ethan had all but run the bath when they arrived. Giles dropped the blanket and slipped Willow's naked body into the cool water. Ethan had done well. Not cold enough to shock her, but cool enough to bring her temperature down, hopefully fairly quickly.
"H-How is she?"
Giles looked over his shoulder at the other man who stepped back, in spite of his urgent need to know. "She spoke, and she drank a little," he allowed grudgingly. "Now get out and let me take care of her."
"I'm not leaving," Ethan said with just as much venom. "I can't. Not until I know she's safe. If she doesn't...if I can't...the bloody spell will kill her."
Giles made a sound that echoed rage and hate. "Then just leave the fucking room. Sleep, eat, watch the bloody telly but stay the hell out of my way."
Ethan waited another moment, watching the small, pale face, his tormented features softening almost into a smile when he saw her eyes flicker open again. It faded swiftly when he realised she wasn't looking at him, that only one thing existed in the room for her.
He swallowed. So that was why the spell hadn't worked...that was why fucking everything...
He swallowed again. He hadn't wanted to cry either, since that dark childhood night, but he damned near did now. He wheeled and left the room, barely resisting the urge, the need to slam the door behind him.
Giles smiled tenderly. "Hello love," he said softly. "Do you know where you are?"
She closed her eyes and opened them again, in lieu of a nod. "W-With you."
He chuckled. "Close enough." He picked up a sponge and began sponging her face, shoulders and throat again. "You're ill," he explained gently
He eyes closed and opened again. "Spell," she whispered. "My fault...s-sorry."
Giles let go of the sponge and laid his palm against a burning cheek. "Not your fault," he said tremulously. "We'll reverse it, I promise."
The vivid green eyes searched his. "Can't...Giles, it's not working. Supposed to be for both of us...Two loves, two hearts...Ethan... tried so hard for me...for hours...but...I can't...I just...can't."
He swallowed. So that was it. The Dionysus spell: one of Ethan's favourites in their youth. But it was straightforward, easy. It had always worked, for both partners. He had no recollection of it ever going wrong. If Willow hadn't come by now she was most certainly not going to, and if she didn't soon the acceleration of sexual, adrenal and other chemical functions being stimulated by the spell would eventually kill her.
"It's all right," he said soothingly. "Don't worry. Ethan and I will find a way."
"Research?" she said trustingly in a slurred voice, half smiling as her eyes closed again.
He swallowed another sob and nodded as it turned into a sort of wet chuckle. "Research," he confirmed softly.
He looked closely at her body for the first time. She was goose-bumped all over and her nipples were as hard as rocks...and she was so pale. If he could get her temperature down, re-hydrate her a little and perhaps even get her to hold some food down, Ethan might still be able to help her.
That was another thing that made no sense. Ethan might be a prize bastard but he knew how to pleasure a woman...or a man. It was inconceivable that one way or the other he hadn't satisfied her by now.
It was some time later before she was cool enough to wrap in a towel and carry back to the living room.
Ethan had crashed on the sofa. Giles could see now how exhausted he was, his face drawn and haggard, and almost as pale as Willow's, his obvious erection, even in his sleep, evidence of the continuing influence of the spell.
Giles continued on up the stairs and carefully tucked her into his bed, covering her only with the sheet, lest she begin to overheat again. She didn't stir. He slipped away.
"Ethan?" Giles shook him again. "Wake up."
Ethan roused and sat up swiftly. "Is she all-?"
"She's fine," Giles cut him off tersely. "But you're going to have to help her, and soon. You can't have forgotten everything you learned in your misbegotten youth. You of all people should be able to give her-"
It was Ethan's turn to do the cutting off. "Of course I could, if it was anyone else but her, you stupid bastard," he snapped, still smarting from the look in the bathroom. "Have you grown so bloody old...and blind? Don't you get it, you lumbering great clod?"
Giles straightened, annoyed and puzzled.
Ethan swore again. "The words of the spell, idiot: Two loves, two hearts, the blood of each to rise only for the other..." Ethan began, but Giles was way ahead of him. He looked down again at Ethan's unrelenting erection, straining against his jeans.
"Christ," he said softly. "You are in love with her."
"Congratulations, half wit," Ethan growled.
Giles resisted a severe temptation to hit him. " But she doesn't love you."
Ethan shook his head, then smirked. "Likes me a lot, though." It camouflaged the pain neatly. It would never do to let Ripper see how much he could actually be hurt.
"The only reason I haven't killed you before now is because she seems to care for you," Giles told him between clenched teeth. "Don't make me change my mind."
Ethan's smirk vanished and unseen by Giles, his fists clenched. "It has to be you. You know that, don't you? This whole thing has been about you. Coming to me in the first place was about you. Trying to please me, but never pleasing herself, never being truly satisfied by me...that was about you too. We would never have done the bloody spell if it hadn't been driving me crazy that I couldn't make her completely happy, couldn't even be good enough in bed for her."
Giles stood up and backed away. Only Willow could have done this to Ethan Rayne. In all the almost thirty years they'd known each other no one, save he himself, had ever breached Ethan's defences. As far as he knew, he was also the only who knew, would ever know, why...
He looked at the stairs, then back at Ethan. "I'm sorry..." he said softly, and meant it.
Ethan almost smiled, despite the growing ache in what was left of his soul. Rupert would always be too soft for his own good. "You'd be a fucking sight sorrier if I didn't know how much you loved her and how much she loved you, you stupid bastard. Now stop wasting time."
Giles stared at him for a long moment then slowly half smiled and nodded, before turning and climbing the stairs again.
Ethan watched him go all the way upstairs before closing his eyes, his brow furrowing. Then he sighed tremulously and wiped his hand over his face before lying down again.
Giles sat next to Willow on the bed and stroked her brow, her hair. She had more colour now and her mouth wasn't as dry.
The dark eyes opened slowly and focused on him, then she smiled slowly. "It wasn't a dream," she said almost blissfully. The smiled faded. "It wasn't a dream," she repeated sombrely and turned away.
Giles turned her face gently back to face him. "I'm glad it wasn't a dream," he said tenderly.
Willow's eyes widened. "Y-You're not angry with me?"
"No, love," he said tenderly. "I'm angry with me."
She closed her eyes for a few moments, as though it was too hard to keep them open. Then she forced them open again.
"W-Why?" she whispered, searching his face.
He trailed a finger down a warm cheek. "Because I've been a fool."
Willow raised a trembling hand and touched his face as though she couldn't quite believe it.
He took the hand in his and shook his head. "I know. It doesn't matter. What matters is reversing this spell and making you well again." He kissed her palm very softly and felt the tremor that went through her.
When he bent his head, however, she stopped him. "I can't," she said. "Not just for the spell. I...please, Giles...I can't."
Giles frowned at her distress, then his brow cleared and he smiled reassuringly. "Not just for the spell, Willow. For me."
He bent his head and brushed her lips with his, then took them in a kiss that was everything Willow ever imagined it would be. Her weary arms slid around his neck as her body responded instantaneously to his touch.
"For me," he said softly when he raised his head.
Willow watched him pull his sweater over his head and his jeans and underwear off together before sliding into his bed and drawing her into his arms again.
She curled up against his chest for several long moments, trembling with the power of the spell and the unresolved, overwhelming desire that was threatening to destroy her.
For all that time Giles simply held her, at times tightly, whenever he felt her arm tighten around him or the shaking increase.
Finally she raised her head and looked into his eyes, her own blurred with desire. "I want you," she breathed. "I love you, Rupert."
"And I you," he said hoarsely, kissing her very gently before letting his lips trail down her throat to her breasts, caressing and teasing them until she moaned with pleasure, before moving on, pushing the sheet away. The imperative to help her was becoming blurred with the need to love her, to have her.
As his mouth crossed her abdomen and slid down the inner side of a silky thigh Willow whimpered with anticipation and Giles shifted as his own arousal became even more intense and uncomfortable.
She was soft and tender and warm and she smelled of the herbal bath oil Ethan had put in the bath water. Giles buried himself in her, struggling to not be overwhelmed by her whimpers and groans, and the arching of her back as he teased her desire to into a frenzy.
And then, bemused, he was allowing her to push him onto his back. A moment later he realised why. "No, Willow, wait...! Damn!" he shuddered as he was sheathed by the warmth of her mouth. For a few moments he revelled in the ecstasy of her lips, her tongue moving against him, groaning as he lifted himself enough to touch her hair.
She lifted her head, her face pale again.
"You're not strong enough for this," he told her in a desire-blurred voice. "Let me, Willow...please."
After a beat she nodded very slowly.
Giles drew himself to sitting position and eased her back down onto the bed, kissed her concerned mouth until she was kissing him back just as hard.
Then he began to stroke her body in smooth, sensuous strokes, making her tremble and cry out with each sensitive new place he found. His fingers began tracing the creamy insides of her thighs, tormentingly close yet never quite touching the hot, almost literally throbbing wetness of her, teasing until she whimpered and arched to him.
"Please," she begged, electrified, aching with hours of unresolved desire.
In response he touched her opening then dragged his damp fingertips upward with exactly the right amount of pressure until they reached the hard centre of her, caressing it expertly until her cries and groans were so urgent and intense that he stopped and drew himself up.
He bent and kissed her open mouth as he moved over her. "All right, love?" he whispered as her legs curled around him.
She smiled. "More than all right," she managed hoarsely, but Giles could feel her temperature rising, see how ill she was, despite the flush in her cheeks from their love-making and the brief respite she seemed to be getting from the bath and the fluids.
"Good," he said and smiled reassuringly as he pushed against the burning heat that was straining so desperately to him.
Willow gasped. For all those hours of making love to Ethan, nothing prepared her for her body's response to the man she truly loved. He was big, far bigger than either Oz or Ethan and she was still barely tried. The sensation of slowly being penetrated and filled by him tore a scream of ecstasy from her matched only by his shuddering exclamation as she shifted and opened herself to him even more.
Giles trembled with his own desire as he pushed himself deeper inside her, ignoring the hands dragging at his hips, inciting him to just take her. Instead he began to move slowly, fighting for control as Willow raised her hips and ground herself against him.
He leaned forward and kissed her. "Willow..." he called softly and waited for her to open her eyes. After too long a moment they did, unfocused again and glazed. She was getting worse. "Let me, sweetheart," he said gently. "Let me love you."
She consciously stopped her body from its energy-consuming response to his and looked up at him trustingly, her small breasts heaving from the exertion and her face flaming.
Giles immediately began to move again, in long languid strokes, her groans turning to gasps and cries of delight as he increased his speed, struggling not to lose control despite the incredible sensation of his size burying itself in the barely tested, almost strangling tightness of her, combined with the engulfing inferno of her fever.
Unable to stop herself as he brought her closer and closer, Willow lifted herself to him again. "Oh God...please," she begged, arching and thrusting as he slid a supporting arm around her and increased his speed again. "Plea-s-s-s-e!" she screamed as his groans became cries, his strokes lunges, her hips rising desperately to meet his.
And then the world exploded.
She clutched at his body convulsively and he strained to her as wave after wave of unrelenting pleasure tore over her, everything else lost in the maelstrom of the disintegrating spell. A moment later he was there too, shuddering and sobbing at the intensity of his orgasm, the ecstasy of being, finally, exactly where he'd dreamed of being for so long, but he didn't stop. Even as the aftershocks of his own completion died away she was still convulsing with spell-induced pleasure, so that he stayed with her, moved with her, until, at last, she went limp in his arms.
"Willow!" he exclaimed when her head lolled to one side, fumbling frantically at her throat for a pulse. It was strong. He exhaled, fighting the hard pain of panic that had ripped deep into his chest. He withdrew himself swiftly, and gathered her in his arms.
Downstairs Ethan was barely breathing, his eyes closed, his face flushed and his now exposed member softening in his hand as he struggled to regain control. He hadn't known there would be a link to her through the spell, that he would not only hear but feel every moment of their passion. All he knew now was that he shouldn't have been feeling this bad after feeling so incredibly good. Something was wrong. He cleaned himself up properly and went upstairs.
He found Rupert holding Willow tightly in his arms, his eyes closed, his face buried in her hair.
"It should be over," he said hoarsely, making the ex-watcher jump.
"What are you doing up here?" Giles demanded coldly. "Leave, Ethan."
"No," Ethan retorted, then his harsh face crumpled a little. "Don't let her die, Rupert, please..."
"She can't die," Giles told him, his voice thick with fear. "Not now. I love her Ethan, more than I've ever loved anything. Tell me what to do."
Ethan came to the bedside, spread his hands helplessly. "I don't know. There isn't any more to it," he said wretchedly, put a hand on Giles' shoulder to steady himself and bent to caress her face with gentle fingers, letting the backs of them rest against a now cool brow.
"I'm sorry little one," he softly. "Truly sorry..."
Willow's eyelids flickered.
Giles' breath caught.
"Ethan...?" she moaned, even before they opened.
"I'm here, sweetheart."
She reached out and wound her arms around his neck. "I love you," she whispered near his ear, her voice still strained and weak. "But it's Giles, Ethan. It always has been. I'm sorry."
Giles felt the tremor that went through the other man and slid a hand instinctively over the one that had tightened convulsively on his shoulder.
When she released him, Ethan turned his head to look at their hands, then at Giles, wryly. It had been so many years since they'd enjoyed any kind of intimacy that the gesture was almost more than he could bear.
He shifted his gaze from one set of soft green eyes back to the other, meeting Willow's wide, uncertain regard with a rare smile before leaning down and kissing her soft mouth one last time.
"Look after him," he said and turned, lifting his hand from Giles' shoulder and laying it against a rough cheek. "And you'd better look after her or I'll have your nuts in a jar," he said unsteadily. "Take care of yourself...old friend." He bent one last time and brushed Giles' surprised lips with his own. "Be seeing you."
And then he was gone.
Willow slid an arm around Giles's neck and drew herself up enough to nestle her head under his chin. Giles...what happened?"
"The s-spell," he said unsteadily, drawing his arms around her again and kissing her hair softly. "It wasn't complete. He loves you. You love me. He loves me." He looked toward the door.
"I...I love you both. He completed the circle..."
"Then it's over," she sighed.
"No," he whispered, smiled and kissed her surprised mouth adoringly when she looked up at him.
"It's just beginning..."
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