Title: Corpus et Sanguis
Length: 57,236 words
Primary Pairing: Willow/Giles
Secondary Pairings: Willow/Tara, Giles/Ethan, Xander/Anya, Buffy/Spike
Spoilers: Through "The Gift"
Warnings: het, femslash, slash, violence, mpreg
Summary: A vengeful spell leaves Giles in a condition he never imagined he'd be in, and changes his life completely.
Giles walked up to her where she sat at the table in the Magic Box with an uncharacteristic caution.
“Just... um, speaking... hypothetically... when you were a vengeance demon... did you ever, um, well... That is, did a woman ever wish...”
“Obviously this has something to do with sex, so just say it already, really, you're not going to shock me.”
“It's not about... well, I suppose it sort of is about...” He brought himself up short, girding his loins, and said, “Did you ever make a man, um, pregnant?”
“Oh sure. Heck, I thought you were actually going to say something weird. That was the number one wish among spurned pregnant women.”
Giles paled a few more degrees. Anya tossed her magazine aside and stood up, since this seemed to be one of those conversations better had standing.
“And given that you said hypothetically, that must mean that you think you are. Pregnant.”
“Oh, good lord,” Giles said, swayed, and then plopped down into the chair Anya had just vacated. Ok, so maybe this was a sitting-down conversation after all. She sat, in one of the other chairs, and squirmed uncomfortably for a moment. No fair, why did he get her chair? This one was cold.
Oh, he was distressed, right, cleaning his glasses with vigor. Anya reluctantly shifted into comforting-friend mode, wanting to get back to her reading, and patted his knee awkwardly.
Giles leveled a deep, glowery glare over the tops of his newly-reseated glasses.
“I hardly think ‘there, there' covers it, Anya.”
Anya sighed. So, comforting wasn't the correct option after all. She would just never understand all this nonsense. She grabbed her magazine and pointedly began reading again.
After a few minutes, Giles cleared his throat softly, and Anya looked up again. The thunder was completely gone from his face... in fact, he now looked... well, sort of... fluffy, in point of fact, holding his glasses in one curled hand that rested lightly against his lips and sort of peering up at her from behind his lashes.
“These, er, men... what... what exactly... well, became of them?”
Resigned, she set aside her magazine again.
“Well, mostly they died. You know, male bodies not really being designed to, you know, grow infants.”
His eyebrows crawled up a notch or two and he said, “Hmph,” softly.
“It really depends on the spell, of course,” she continued quickly, “I mean, if you are pregnant, well, something magical had to have caused it, so it really all depends on what it was and what the caster intended. I, of course, never really intended those back-stabbing liars to survive. I mean, a painful death was pretty much the point, but, you know, if someone *did* want you to live, well, it's entirely possible, I suppose. Although, probably not at all comfortable... So, who do you think knocked you up?”
It just never ceased to amaze her how quickly that man could go from looking as shy and contrite as a lost puppy to murderous.
“Well,” she commented mildly, “You're certainly getting the mood swings.”
And just as he opened his mouth to protest, the bell over the Magic Shop door jingled and Buffy bounced in with a cheerful, “Hi guys!” and then saw them and immediately transitioned to cautious alarm, “Uh oh, badness, what's up?”
Before Giles could waste half their too-short mortal lives stammering, Anya said, “Giles thinks he's pregnant.”
Beside her, Giles dropped his glasses on the table and buried his face in his hands. Buffy just stared, mouth open, for a long time, before she suddenly snapped it shut, then turned to Giles and yelled, “You WHAT?”
“Oh, nonono, Watcher-mine, don't ‘Buffy' me. I *said,* ‘you what?'”
“This is all purely... baseless... speculation at this point,” Giles said, briefly going back to Ripper-mode to directing a poisonous glare Anya's way, “But... um... well... I've... been experiencing certain... symptoms...”
Buffy tossed her bag under the table and sat down in the chair on the other side of Giles, leaning towards him intently.
“Well, um... morning nausea, strange cravings... um, mood swings...” he glared at Anya again, clearly daring her to comment. So she did.
“Oh, yes, he's definitely having mood swings.”
“But, Giles, that hardly qualifies as enough to jump straight to... um... you know... I mean, hey, I'm even a *girl* and that wouldn't--”
“I can feel it,” he said, suddenly. “It's nothing... physical, exactly, I just... well, and there's...”
He paused for a long time, looking off in to the middle distance thoughtfully. Then, he drew something out of his pocket and laid it on the table.
A home pregnancy test. It was positive.
After a protracted pause, during which Anya resumed reading her magazine, Buffy stared, and Giles pretended not to exist, Buffy finally spoke again.
“Oh. Um. Hey. Congratulations?”
“Ok. Ok, putting aside all the sense this *doesn't* make... would that test thingy even work on a- a- pregnant guy? And also... No, there's too much also. I can't even cover all the alsos. I'm lost. I give up. Willow's checking out for a little while.”
And she did, thumping down into a chair at the table and getting a spaced-out look in her eyes. Tara patted her hand gently, and shot a sympathetic look over at Giles.
“I-I guess this must be, p-pretty shocking for you, too, huh, Mr. Giles?”
Giles's head lifted just a bit, but he didn't really look at her.
“Hmm?” he said, mildly.
Buffy rolled her eyes and threw up her hands.
“Hello? Is anyone at this table actually coherent?”
Anya gestured in the affirmative with a twitch of her magazine, and Tara shyly raised her hand. Xander stared at Giles. He looked vaguely like something in his brain might have broken.
Buffy rolled her eyes again, and tossed in a heavy sigh for good measure.
“I'm coherent!” Willow said, after an extended pause.
“No, no. I am,” she said. “Really. Back with the program. Ok. Thinking now.”
“Thank god,” Buffy said, and sat down at the table. Thinking was not her strong suit. At least, not this kind of non-tactical thinking, and she was beginning to fear she may have had to do some.
But it was ok now, because Willow was thinking. Leaning forward, with her elbows on the table and her chin resting on her hands.
“Oh. Oh, of course. Demon! It must be a demon, right?”
“Well,” Buffy said, “Yeah. I mean. Of course. Duh. Why didn't anyone think of this before now? I mean, I just kind of assumed we'd already rejected that hypothesis. Giles?”
“Hmm?” Giles said.
Buffy looked at him.
“On second thought, I think maybe hypothesis has about three too many syllables for Giles right now. Geez, Giles, if you're going to be like this for the next nine months, I'm gonna have to hire a new Watcher.”
“What?” he said.
“Never mind,” she said, and patted his shoulder sympathetically.
“So, ok,” Willow said, looking more non-shocky by the moment, “The demon idea. Not previously explored then?”
“I'd guess no.”
“Ok! I'm on it!” Willow said, and dragged over a book.
Five hours and a pizza (ordered by Buffy since Xander still hadn't quite regained his wits) later, they had their suspects all line up. Willow looked with satisfaction over the list and nodded to herself. Ok. So, chances were good this was a demon thing. Now, if she could just get poor Giles coherent enough too see if any of these guy's modus operandi's checked out, they'd be in business. Most of these demons came with a relatively simple exorcism ritual. No fuss, no muss.
She knocked gently on the training room door and then slipped through it, shutting it behind her. It was dark. Giles was sitting on on of the mats in the far corner, leaning back against the wall, with one knee drawn up, and his arm resting on it, a glass of something dangling from his hand.
“Hey!” she said, brightly but cautiously, “Uh, so, we, uh, did the research thing. How... how are you doing?”
She dropped down to sit cross-legged facing him. He raised his head, looked at her for a moment, and then dropped it back down.
“Not good, huh?” she said. “Hey, it's ok. Look, you think you're up to looking over this list? Seeing if any of these sound like. Well. You know, your... guy? Or- or possibly girl! Several of them are actually-”
“Ethan,” he said.
“Uh. Ethan? What about-”
He set aside his drink, and rubbed both hands over his face, and then left them there, as though he couldn't face her as he spoke.
“I- A few weeks ago, I- I...” he dropped his hands to his sides, and said, “slept with Ethan.”
Ho-kay. Apparently she was not the only one around here who was Gay Now. Or... Gay Already, as the case may be.
“Uh...” she said, “But, isn't he in prison?”
Giles huffed a soft laugh.
“No prison in the world could hold Ethan. Chaos loves him far too much.”
“Um, but... well, it might not have been... him. I mean, a lot of these guys have, have the succubus thing going on. Shapeshifting-”
“It was Ethan. I've seen succubi. They aren't that convincing. Not to anyone who knows anything.”
“Ok, why are you going and having, having... sex with... he's a bad guy!” she said, with righteous indignation.
“The day there's a label for Ethan, is the day labels really do lose all meaning.”
“But... But, he's a guy!” she said, trying again, with not-so-righteous indignation.
“And? Do you think you hold the copyright?”
There was something not quite right about his eyes.
“Giles! Are you drunk?”
He blinked at her.
“Um. Perhaps a bit.”
She was shocked.
“Giles! Shame on you! Alcohol! Bad for the baby!”
“Baby...” she continued, “which is... probably a demon, ok. But still!”
“Give me the list.”
She did, and he scanned it for awhile. Finally, he handed it back, shaking his head.
He leaned back against the wall and hugged himself, a perfect picture of traumatized dejection. She reached out and laid her hand on his knee in what she hoped was a comforting gesture.
“Ok, then. So, maybe it's just a really, really good illusion. Or... even a demon we haven't found yet. I mean, it's... it's probably not a real baby. That... that just seems... unlikely. And why on earth would Ethan want to... you know? I mean, generally, one tries to... avoid that kind of thing.”
“Well. Ethan always did have a... rather twisted sense of... whimsy.”
He fell silent, staring down at his feet and looking quietly desperate. For a long time, Willow didn't really know what to say. But she really felt like she should say something. In fact, she knew what she needed to say. But she wasn't quite sure how to phrase it. But then, she never really thought before speaking, anyway, and generally, she did manage to get her point across. So, what the heck.
“Giles... I... I'm sure this is something Hellmouthy. I mean, it *is* something Hellmouthy, obviously. But... I mean, *and*... and I'm sure we'll fix this, ok?” She took a deep breath, “But if... if we can't... or, or if this, like... IS a... a real baby... which, which it probably isn't! But... if it is... you know we're all here for you, right?”
Ok, and now came the breathless waiting, hoping against hope that whatever she'd said would make some form of sense. And then, Giles's hand, the one that was braced on the mat beside her, slipped a fraction of an inch closer to her and turned over, held towards her, invitingly palm up.
Silently, she laid her own hand in his, and squeezed gently.
“Thank you,” he said, softly.
A few fruitless days later, Willow was sitting in front of her laptop in Giles's apartment, surfing the web. It was still winter break, so she didn't really have anything else to do. And besides, to be honest, Giles had been a bit... needy the past few days. She'd cooked dinner for them tonight, and even managed to make something that tasted good and not at all burnt. And now, here they were, researching again. Researching Glory. Well. Actually, Giles was researching Glory. Willow was researching... babies.
“So... when you say weeks, like, how many weeks are we talking here?”
Giles twisted around on the couch and looked back at her.
“I'm sorry?” he said.
“How many weeks since you and Ethan... you know?”
“Oh. Um.” He frowned a little. “Is it relevant?”
“Uh. Well, maybe.”
The website had cute little pastel storks all over it. And smiling babies. Willow had to admit to herself that she was fairly enamored.
“Um. Not so much weeks, I suppose.” He seemed to think for a moment, then said, “Actually, if I recall correctly it was sometime in early September.”
“September?” she yelped.
“Er. Yes. Why? Is there a problem?”
“Well, no. I mean. I just mean... you've been, you know, pregnant for... for four months and you didn't even, like, realize it?”
“Well, honestly, it wasn't exactly the first thing that sprang to mind.”
He glowered and turned pointedly back to his book. Willow sighed. *Bad, Willow,* she thought to herself, *he doesn't need you ragging on him. Bad enough what Xander and Buffy are putting him through. Thank god at least Spike doesn't know...* Willow shuddered at the very idea.
She gently closed her laptop, walked into the living room, and sat down on the couch beside him.
“Sorry,” she said.
He set his book aside and turned towards her, pulling off his glasses and beginning to polish them as he spoke.
“Well, it wasn't that I... didn't notice, precisely. I just... believed it was middle age finally catching up to me, I suppose. You know, aching back, and... well. Other things. And, of course...”
He put his glasses back on and looked down at his stomach, rubbed a hand over it absently.
“Yeah,” Willow said, “I mean, I didn't want to say anything, but... you have... put on a little weight.”
He looked up at her ruefully.
“My girlish figure will never be the same.”
Stuck by the unexpected humor, Willow broke down in giggles. To her surprise, Giles joined in.
They quieted after a moment or two, then looked at each other.
And cracked up.
For a good five minutes, they were both completely swept up in it, and by the time they finally got ahold of themselves, they were leaning on each other and gasping, with tears running down their cheeks.
“Ok, ok,” Willow gasped. “Not that funny.”
She giggled, then clamped her hand over her mouth.
Which made Giles giggle. Then, he cleared his throat and tried to look serious.
“God, I needed that.”
She felt a sudden surge of tenderness for him, and said, softly, “Good.” And then, a beat later, she said, “So, did you say backaches?”
“Oh. Um. Yes.”
“How about the barfiness? Is that a problem?”
“Uh. No, no, not now. Nausea was an issue for awhile there, but... I assumed it was the flu.”
“Well, the website I was looking at did say that would settle down in the second trimester.”
He shot her a hard look, and she “eeped” softly inside.
“Uh. Well. Yeah. You know. About... pregnancy.”
“Magically-induced pregnancy, I assume?” he said, and there was a dangerous edge to his voice and glint in his eye. Willow inched back a bit.
“Um. No. No, just the normal kind.”
Oh dear, the glasses were off again.
“There is nothing normal about this, Willow.”
“I- I know that. But... Giles... haven't you even considered that maybe this is-”
He wasn't looking at her now. He was sitting with his back stiff and straight, and glaring across the room as though the fireplace had slighted him.
“Well... maybe... maybe you should. I mean, there's a chance, small as it is, that this is... a baby, Giles. What are you going to do if it is?”
He stood up and walked over to one of the bookcases, fingering the worn leather spines.
“I can't have a child, Willow. The thought alone is ludicrous. I- I'm a forty-six-year-old single man who fights demons for a living.”
“Well, yeah. But... you own a shop. You're either there or at home a lot. You have time, Giles. And you have us. You know we'd help.”
“Thank you, Willow. But it's not a point that is up for debate.”
She watched as his idle fingering of the books changed to active searching, and he picked one off the shelf and proceeded to sit down with it in the armchair. Ok, so, maybe she'd known it was dumb to think about it. Giles's baby. Because, first of all, it probably wasn't even real. And, also, it was silly, and girlie, anyway, to wonder whether it would have his eyes. Or be all smart like him when it grew up.
Still, she was a little disappointed, if she were really being honest with herself.
Buffy pounced as soon as she saw him walk into the busy hospital hallway, all decked out as usual in his blue scrubs and stethoscope, holding a clipboard and clicking a retractable pen.
“Hi! Ben! I need to talk to you!”
He stopped, and smiled, sticking the pen behind the clip on the board.
“Hi, Buffy. How's your mom doing?”
“Oh, she's doing great. Look, is there, like, somewhere private we can talk?”
“Uh...” he looked around, “Well, the locker room's usually pretty empty. Come on.”
She followed, growing more nervous with ever step. Ok, so, it had taken a *lot* of convincing to get Giles to go for this plan in the first place, but Willow had been insistent, and they all, even Giles, knew better than to argue with Willow. Right now, though, Buffy was beginning to wonder if maybe he'd been right all along about the badness of this idea.
Then, well before she was ready, she and Ben were both sitting at a small table in the doctor's locker room.
“So, here we are, in private. What can I do for you?”
Buffy took a deep breath, and folded her hands on the table in front of her.
“Um. This... is gonna sound a little crazy. A lot crazy, actually.”
“No problem. I deal with a lot of crazy people in my line of work. Give me your best shot.”
Oh, god, this was such a bad idea. She was gonna kill Willow.
“This guy, that I know... well. Is kinda.”
Long pause. Ticking clock. Odd look from Ben.
Ok, really odd look from Ben.
“Um. When you say ‘guy,' you're just meaning, like, person, here, right? As in a... female person.”
“Um. See, that's the thing. No.”
Think Buffy, think!
“It's a- government experiment! Gone... wrong. And... cruelly abandoned.”
“Ah. Right... and I suppose your friend, the one with the really bad tachycardia, was part of a government experiment too, huh?”
“Uh. Well. Actually... yes. But don't tell anyone!”
“You guys seem to have a lot of run-ins with government experimenters, don't you?”
“Look, that's really not the point. The point is... He needs help. You know, like, medical help. But... we need to keep it quiet.”
There was another one of those long pauses Buffy despised so much. Then, finally, Ben said, “Ok.”
“Wait, is that an ok as in ‘I'll help you,' or an ok as in, ‘you really are one of those ever-popular crazy people.'”
He smiled a little.
“It's an ‘ok, I'll help you.'”
“Oh. Oh! That's great!”
But she was still going to kill Willow. Just on principle.
“Yeah. I mean, I don't want to get into too much detail, but I know a thing or two about secrets that need keeping. And being a little out of the ordinary. So, uh, how far along is... he?”
“I still don't like this,” Giles was muttering, and yet, he continued to drive along the darkened Sunnydale streets towards the hospital, a week and a half after that day in the Magic Box. Xander watched the show from where he sat, crammed in the backseat with Willow and Anya. Not that that was a bad place to be crammed, of course.
“Well, I don't care, Giles,” Buffy said, “Do you know how weird it was telling this guy I barely know that this other guy I know is *pregnant*? Come on, Giles. Make my trauma worthwhile, ok?”
“*Your* trauma?” Giles said, “Excuse me, but I think-”
“Oh, get over yourself. All you're going to have to do is show up and lie there.”
Xander couldn't resist the urge to chip in: “Oh, no, you're forgetting, Buffy. He gets to lie there half-naked after drinking about a hundred glasses of water while some random guy probes his innards.”
The car stopped rather unnecessarily abruptly for a red light. Willow was sighing deeply, in that disapproving way she had.
“Aw, come on Will,” he said, for the thousandth time that week, “We're just joking around.”
“It's not funny, Xander,” she muttered.
By the time they'd reached the hospital, and were walking into one of the side doors, Giles and Buffy had been reduced to simply glaring eloquently at one another, and Willow was shooting Xander looks of death if he so much as opened his mouth. She was very touchy lately.
“Hey, Willow, what's with the attitude? Giles is the one who's-”
“Shh!” Willow hissed, but as it turned out, the man who was walking down the hall towards them was actually Ben, anyway, so it was all right.
“Hey,” Ben said. “I see you brought the whole gang along. I hope you guys can be stealthy.”
“Oh, it's all right,” Anya spoke up, “None of them are speaking to each other right now, anyway. We'll be very quiet.”
“So, wait,” Ben said, peering at them through the dimness of the hall, which was lit only by a few fluorescent emergency lights. “Which one of you is-”
He was pointing between Xander and Giles. Xander wondered what he was talking about. Then, he realized.
“What? No! No! Him! Not me!”
Ok, now Giles *and* Willow were giving him death glares. Wonderful.
“Yes, it's me,” Giles said, sounding tired.
“Right. Ok. Right this way.”
All the way down the hall, Xander kept thinking to himself, *no! not me! I could never be-!* And then it occurred to him, suddenly, briefly, in a way it never had before, that Giles must kind of be feeling exactly the same way. Only, in Giles's case... he was. Xander felt his brow furrow as this thought churned around his brain.
Luckily, though, before it could really settle in, Ben brought the whole group to a halt by turning around to face them and raising his arms, like an elementary school crossing guard. They were right outside of the only open door on the whole darkened hallway, and yellow light was spilling out from the opening.
“Ok. Before we go in, I have to tell you. I brought someone else in on this.”
“What?” Giles, Buffy, and Willow all said at the same time.
Ben made the “don't walk” sign again, and said, quickly, “I trust her, all right? I got her to go over the ultrasound technique with me, and it was just too complicated for me to learn this quickly. So. She doesn't know who you are. You can walk out now, if you really want to. But... I think you really shouldn't.”
Giles only considered a few minutes before giving in with a sighed, “What the hell. I'm already here. Let's do this.”
And so they all trooped into the room, and Ben shut the door behind them. The nurse that Ben had enlisted was an oldish woman, with a seen-it-all expression on her face. And, being a nurse on a Hellmouth, she no doubt had. She just gave Giles a kind of tired, but mostly friendly smile, and launched into a rapid-fire recitation of instructions that Xander completely tuned out in favor of gazing at Anya for a little while. Because gazing at Anya never got old.
By the time he reeled himself back out of his happy place, Giles was lying on the table with his shirt pulled up. There was some kind of clear goo all over his stomach and the nurse was running a medical gadget over it. This was the moment of truth.
Xander followed everyone else's gazes to the little screen next to the nurse and saw...
A pulsating mass of black and white.
“Eww,” he said, “What's that?”
“Nothing yet, really. She's just getting oriented.”
He found Willow, fully expecting to be on the receiving end of yet another glare, and prepared to take it like a man, but at the moment, Willow seemed completely enthralled by the nothing on the screen. And she was standing right next to Giles. And... holding his hand.
“Oh!” she said, suddenly, and her eyes lit up.
The nurse smiled at her, a much more genuine smile, this time.
“Good eye, young lady,” she said, and Xander looked back at the screen. He still didn't see anything. And then, the image shifted a bit, and he *did* see. A hand. A little hand... with fingers.
“Whoa,” he said. “That's...”
“A hand, yes,” the nurse said, and froze the image. “And here's an arm, and a little bit of leg,” she added, running her finger along the curve of human-shaped stuff on the screen.
A baby. It was a real baby. He stared, distantly aware that his mouth was probably hanging open, as the images flashed by on the screen... a spine, a ribcage, a head, two feet... a little heart that was pumping away wildly.
“Everything seems perfectly in order, Mr. Giles,” the nurse was saying, “In fact, if you weren't here in front of me, and all I had was this ultrasound, I'm not sure if I would pick up on anything out of the ordinary at all. Were you born a hermaphrodite?”
”Most certainly not!” Giles said, half-sitting up in protest. The image vanished from the screen until the nurse got him settled back down.
“Sorry, but I had to ask. This is just simply remarkable. And you don't even have any surgical scarring. How-”
“I don't know,” Giles said, in his this-conversation-is-over voice.
The nurse was looking at the baby on the screen again.
“I'd say you're about sixteen weeks along. I could tell you the gender, if you'd like?”
“Ooo! Really?” Willow said.
“No,” Giles said, at the same time.
The nurse smiled again, apparently quite warmed up to them by now.
“Want to be surprised, then, do you?”
Giles was looking at a painting that was hanging on the far wall, and Xander realized he had hardly even glanced at the screen the whole time.
“No. I want to terminate as soon as possible.”
“What!” Buffy yelped.
“Huh?” Xander said.
Willow just looked kind of sadly resigned.
“Why?” Anya said, “I mean, it's small and ill-proportioned, but it is oddly attractive. I'd want one.”
Ok, that wasn't good. Xander looked over at her and his heart clenched in pure terror at the way she was making doe-eyes at the monitor. Ben was saying something, probably something important, but fear had a very detrimental effect on his hearing. Anya gave him a strange look, and said, “What?”
“Nothing,” he said, and looked back over at Giles and the others quickly.
“It's going to take major abdominal surgery to get it out, in any case,” Giles was saying, “What difference does it make when you do it?”
“All I'm saying,” Ben said, “Is that it would be hard to keep it quiet. I'd say odds are pretty good that somewhere along the line, something would get out about this. Give me some time, and maybe I can find a way around that.”
“How much time do I have?”
“At least a couple of weeks.”
The fact that he agreed with hardly any protests to her suggestion that she stay with him that night only proved to Willow how off-balance he was. Even now, walking into his apartment, he looked tired and pale and older than his years. He was walking with a bit of a weave, and took two tries to get his coat properly hung on the rack. It wasn't late, by their standards, only just past ten-thirty, but even she was feeling like it was more like three-thirty in the morning. She could only imagine how Giles was feeling.
He'd stopped somewhere around his desk, and was looking around the apartment as though he wasn't quite sure what to do with himself. Willow hung up her jacket and set aside the overnight bag she'd packed and walked over to him.
No point in asking if he was ok, and she doubted he'd want to talk about it, so, instead, she said, “I was just planning on doing the newspaper crossword puzzle tonight. You wanna help, maybe?”
He looked down at the desk, furrowed his brow and picked up one of the books there, glanced at the spine and set it back down before he really acknowledged her.
“Uh. Thank you, Willow, but... I think I'd really rather just lie down, maybe do a little light reading before bed.”
“Ok. I understand. Oh, but, hey! Could I at least give you that back rub I was thinking of offering a few days ago before we got sidetracked by arguing?”
He looked a bit doubtful.
“Aww, come on, it's just a back rub. You said your back was hurting. You know you want to.”
She grinned at him and waggled her eyebrows, and he slowly smiled back. It was just a small smile, but it was a victory.
“Actually, that would be wonderful. Are you sure you don't mind?”
“Not a bit.”
It wasn't until she had him upstairs, face down and shirtless on his bed that the first twinge of doubt really hit her. She hadn't anticipated doubt. Doubt had not even been on the radar. Or... on the gaydar, possibly. But then, as she'd scooted onto the bed and curled her legs up under herself to sit beside him, and really looked at him for the first time, that was when it all began to get a little complicated.
Because, ok, downstairs it had all been about helping a friend who was in a weird place and had a sore back. Up here, it was suddenly about... Giles. Half-naked. Lying on a bed. All relaxed with his head pillowed on his crossed arms and the lamp beside the bed casting this soft warm light over his really *nice* back and making him look like... Like something *way* too touchable. Because, hey, not that she was meaning to be repetitive, but she was totally gay now. In love with a girl. And very fond of breasts, which Giles, in spite of his current state, definitely did *not* have.
In spite of her new misgivings, she leaned forward and laid her hands on the back of his neck. His skin was warm. And soft. He grunted very softly as she began to rub his neck. She bit her lip, and tried to concentrate on just working the knots out of his tense muscles.
Everything was quiet in the apartment, and even outside, like the whole world was holding its breath. Or maybe like she was too distracted to notice anything else. Because all she could hear were the sounds Giles was making: soft moans and sighs and grunts. It very much didn't slip her notice that those were the exact kind of sounds Giles might make if they were in a far more... intimate sort of situation. Ok, they were also kind of like the sounds he occasionally made while fencing. But now they were in a bed and she was touching his bare skin, and the context was way, way, way different.
And it was kinda turning her on.
She'd once heard someone say that 95 percent of all back rubs lead to sex. It didn't seem like a very logical statistic, probably one that would fall under that joking category of 57.8 percent of all statistics being made up on the spot, but still, when his hips shifted and bumped her knee after she'd dug into a particularly bad spot along his spine, she had some distinctly not-gay kinda feelings.
So she'd had a crush on him in high school. And he was really sexy when he sang. And he looked *good* in those nice Magic-Box-owner suits. And his eyes were such a pretty color. And he was smart. And he's always treated her like an equal, right from the start. She really loved that about him.
He was practically purring under her hands now, pressing up into her knuckles as she leaned forward to put her weight into kneading the small of her back.
“Oh, that's good,” he said, his voice kind of shaky and dripping with pure, sensual pleasure, and ok, he *never* said *that* while he was fencing, at least not in anything *like* that tone of voice.
She pulled her hands away and sat back on her heels.
He hitched himself up on one elbow and looked back over his shoulder at her. His eyes were shuttered, half-closed, rings of jade around pools of darkness, and she knew that waxing poetical about eyes was one of the leading signs that she was really in a whole lotta trouble.
“Willow?” he said.
Apparently he had as much faith in her gayness as she'd had up until just a while ago. Except, here he was, living proof that maybe things weren't always so clear-cut, what with Ethan and Jenny and Olivia.
When she didn't answer, he sat up, facing her, with one knee drawn up and hugged in his bare arms. He somehow managed to look relaxed and content and ruffled and concerned all at the same time. It was endearing. And adorable. And sexy.
“Everything all right?”
And of course everything was not all right. Everything was very bad. And she was beginning to wonder if maybe this would always happen to her. Things would get good, and then she'd sabotage everything by falling for someone else. Because, things were good with Tara right now. Amazingly good. Better than anything.
But Giles had felt so good under her hands. And she'd just realized that the reason he was sitting in that awkward position was probably because he was hoping she wouldn't notice that he had an erection.
Ok, and now, in addition to coming up with some sort of coherent reply to his inquiry before he decided she'd lost her mind, she also had to find some way to pretend she wasn't staring at his bare chest.
“Uh,” she said.
That really wouldn't do it. She mentally gave herself a good hard kick upside the head.
“Nothing,” she said, looking up. “So... uh. Is that any better?”
He continued to look doubtful for a moment, and she cringed inside, waiting to be questioned again, but then, he just let it go, and his expression broke into a small smile.
“Yes, thank you. I feel like a new man.”
“Well good. Not that I didn't like the old man. He was just a little, you know, cranky and pained-looking.”
Giles laughed gently at that, and when he looked back up, their eyes met, and then, instead of flicking off somewhere else, it was like their gazes got tangled up somewhere between them, and they couldn't quite pull them away.
This was bad. This was dangerous. It had been bad enough when it had been just her, having naughty wrong thoughts. Now there was this intense, unbreakable gazing thing. The kind of thing that takes two people. Oh, this was very bad. She was having more flashbacks to senior year and Xander, but they weren't helping to clarify anything. They were just making her feel guilty and confused and kind of helpless.
Giles got himself untangled first, looking away sharply and reaching for his glasses.
“Ah, well, I- I believe I should, um, get some sleep.”
“Oh. Yeah. Ok. I'll. I'll be down on the couch. You know. If you need anything. Not that you're, you know, incapable or anything, but-”
“Yes,” he said, mercifully cutting her rambling short, “Thank you, Willow.”
But he touched her hand as he said it, and it made her shiver.
She slunk back downstairs to the couch they'd made up with sheets and a pillow. She slept restlessly that night, and dreamed of green eyes and male hands.
He was making no headway. Damn Glory, whatever she was. He turned the page of the book, but there was nothing but more frustration on the next page. He sighed and looked up.
It was dark in his apartment. Darker than usual. Darker than it should be. He stood up from his desk slowly, pushed the chair in and stepped away. The light from the desk lamp was a hazy golden halo in a dark mist, pushing weakly against the blackness. He looked around, and the angles were wrong, the stairway tilting off not-quite-right.
Something was there. Watching him. He could hear it. Feel it. It had a heartbeat, and it had magic, and it was out there, beyond the pitch black window panes. His own breath was loud in his ears as he backed slowly towards the kitchen, and then the wall was solid against his side, and he hung against it, feeling the slow, dumb terror of a hunted animal, feeling the pressure of the thing. Watching him. Waiting.
With a start, he pulled away from the wall, backing up again, down the hall, because to show his back to it would be the biggest mistake he could make.
Away from the desk lamp, in the shadows of the hall, the darkness was purer. Deeper. Like the gut of a dragon. The hall suddenly seemed miles long, and the only light was a faraway glimmer, hopelessly distant. He felt his heart beating harder, and it was cold, and he trembled.
It was closer now.
He fought monsters. He had fought them all his life.
But he had no weapons to fight this one. He reached out to touch the wall, and it seemed he was reaching through a deep cavern, feeling a cold cave-breeze on his arm. Then he felt it. The wall. But it was different. Cool and slick and smooth. He turned to it with a start, pulling his hand away.
Someone stared back at him.
He flailed away, panic crushing his chest.
And then realized he was seeing himself. A mirror.
Drawn, he stepped closer again. All was black now, everywhere around him, an infinity of dark space, except the mirror, glimmering faintly, and his own reflection, reaching up as he did to touch his fingers through the cold glass.
Then, behind him in the reflection, something moved in the darkness. It was like a deep-sea fish, moving sluggishly, blindly. It was pale, white on black, and fleshy, and it shifted and changed and pulsed softly, and he knew that was It. The Thing. He stared, in horror, and could not move, watching it. It was formless, and it was meant to be. But it didn't want to be. It wanted to be something. And so it changed, slowly, like clay molding itself. First an arm. Then a foot. Then a head. Each of these in turn, as though it wanted to be human, but since it couldn't see, it couldn't understand what that was. Couldn't grasp the totality.
He breathed out, slowly, and saw his breath as a white cloud in the cold.
It heard him.
There was no time to run. No way to stop it.
It started as warmth. Unthreatening, almost, if taken out of context. Just a solid curling of heat in his gut. But it grew. Slowly, slowly, the temperature rising, a painful shock against the chill of the air. He gasped harshly, and his hand, slick with sweat, skidded along the mirror.
He whispered denial into the darkness, but nothing answered. Nothing changed. The heat curled tighter inside of him, and he could feel it, settling in there, making a nest from his innards. His hand slipped from the mirror and he dropped to his knees, as it tugged something inside him, and the heat flared unbearably. Cold sweat beaded on his brow.
“NO!” he shouted.
And then its claws ripped him open from the inside out.
Giles awoke already half-sitting up, with one hand clutched to his stomach. The dream was still wrapped around him like the tangled sheets.
Slowly, his heartbeat began to slow, and his panting calmed to slow breaths.
His hand was still pressed to his abdomen.
Just before he pulled it away, he felt it.
Something inside of him moved.
Willow looked up at a sound, and startled at the sight of Giles coming down the stairs.
“Oh. Giles. Hey. Did I wake you?” she said, looking guiltily at her midnight (or more like 4 AM) snack of crackers and peanut butter. She'd only turned on the light over the kitchen sink. She didn't think that was enough light to-
“No, no, not at all. I just. Um. Bad dream.”
He was in a T-shirt and boxers, practically naked by his usual standards, and she felt an uncomfortable twinge of interest, which was quickly superseded by concern. He looked out of sorts, and was rubbing his stomach with one hand in a less-than-idle manner. Funny, now that she knew, how obvious it was. She wondered how she'd missed it. Must be that good old Sunnydale repression at work.
“Uh. Can I get you anything?”
He turned on the desk lamp. Then the lamp by the couch.
“No, that's quite all-”
He stopped, mid-sentence, and held perfectly still, his head tilted slightly to one side, his hand motionless and pressed flat on his abdomen.
“Giles? You ok?” she asked.
He blinked, then moved his hand down to his side.
“Yes. I- I-” he paused, then said, “It's... moving.”
“Oh wow! That's so-” she stumbled to a quick halt, “So... strange?” she offered hopefully, and got a tiny smile in response.
“Very strange. One could even go so far as to say exceedingly strange.”
He sat down on the stool beside hers and cast a longing glance at the Scotch, but didn't move to pour any.
“Peanut butter cracker?” she said, holding one in his direction.
He waved it off. For awhile, they sat beside each other quietly. He was staring at the countertop. She was staring at him.
She wanted to touch him so much. Even just his arm, or his shoulder. Her crackers sat there, forgotten. He was so unclothed at the moment. Bare, pale arms, one resting on the counter, the other on his knee. Which was also bare. And fuzzy. And even his feet were bare, down there in the shadows. He had long, guy-like toes.
Just a whole lotta Giles skin, really. Right next to her. So close she could almost feel his heat. Smell a trace of his sweat. Sense the aura of his magic. It tasted like ozone and summer rain.
His jaw was stubbly.
“You think I'm making a mistake,” he said, softly, and his voice was a bit rough from sleep.
“Huh?” she said, snapping out of her reverie.
“A mistake. The wrong choice.”
Oh. About the baby.
Then it was only natural to reach out and lay her hand over his.
“I think you don't need me judging you right now. You know what's best for you, Giles.”
“Perhaps,” he said, not looking at her. He turned his hand over under hers and curled his fingers loosely, and his blunt nails traced tingling trails up from her wrist to her palm. She could feel her pulse in her throat as she mirrored his gesture, wrapping her fingers around his own, nesting them together like yin and yang. The underside of his arm was white under the fluorescent kitchen light, and his Eyghon tattoo was like a dark insect just beneath his elbow.
They were holding hands. This... this was not of the good. Not at all. But then, it was. Because he was so warm, and he was Giles, and the fifteen-year-old with a crush that still lived inside her was bouncing with giddy joy. Her current self was just getting quietly turned on.
She uncurled her hand again, and her fingertips brushed against his wrist. It was warm, and very soft, and, intrigued, she investigated it more, tracing circles and lines. He accepted this without protest. When she looked at his face, she saw his eyes were following her invisible hieroglyphs. And when she stopped moving, he took her wrist in his hand. Gently turned her palm up.
Cradling her hand in his own, he reached up with the other, and touched just one finger to her life line. Slowly dragged it from one end to the other. And back. Lit fire to every single one of the thousands of nerve endings along the way.
“Oh,” she tried to say, but her voice had left the building, so all that came out was a small exhalation.
His voice was still working though, because he spoke, with the rough tenor of a rumbling fire.
“Have I ever told you how beautiful you are?”
Whoa. Whoa. That... she had not been expecting that.
“Uh... no... definitely no.”
“You are,” he breathed, and touched her heart line, followed its curve up to the sensitive skin between her index and middle fingers, then let his finger linger there, stroking between hers subtly, suggestively.
It sent a bolt of heat through her.
She jerked her hand away.
“Hey! This- this is all wrong! You're not supposed to hit on me!”
“No?” he said. He was looking at her from under heavy lids, and that look alone was like a touch.
Her voice was shaking. She wanted it to be with indignation. But really, it was probably more like desire.
“No! You're supposed to say, ‘we can't do this, it would be wrong.'”
“I see,” he said.
Her body was heavy and time was slow. He touched her knee. Slid his hand up, just a little bit.
“I want you,” he said.
It was bad. And wrong. But it was Giles. And she'd loved him for so long she couldn't remember not loving him. And she'd never even hoped that she might actually have him someday. And she wanted him. So. Bad.
“Me too,” she said.
His eyes snapped up, and looked straight into her own.
“Ok,” she said.
And he leaned in, and then he was kissing her.
*Eyes open,* she thought. *I'm cheating on my girlfriend. There will be fallout.*
*I'll deal with it in the morning.*
She was kissing him, too. This was...
“Mmm,” he said.
His eyes were closed, and his hand was splayed across her cheek, and his lips were still close enough to hers they were nearly touching. And then they *were* touching, and she decided to stop thinking. She let him lead her up the stairs, let him take off her clothes and his own, let him drape them both naked across his bed. Kissing all the while, touching. Heated skin against heated skin. Friction and softness.
He braced himself on one hand over her, held himself in the other. She was stretched out under him, with her arms laced behind her head, relaxed and wanting. His eyes burned down into hers, and for a moment, she felt his magic again, cool and silver-green and electric.
Then, he touched himself to her, pressed just the tip of his cock against her slick heat, and dragged it down and then up, and then back down. Teasing them both, if the look on his face was any indication. She arched her back and groaned, and he pulled back as she moved, no penetration, just continuing the slow, sliding motion.
“Rupert,” she moaned, her voice thick with arousal and frustration.
He smiled down at her. And then pushed into her.
She gasped. He laughed, a strangled, short sound. Already his hips had found a rhythm, and he was fucking her, slowly, shallowly, giving her time to readjust to the sensation. She cupped the back of his head in her hand, feeling his hair coil around her fingers, and pulled him down for another kiss.
“More,” she murmured. He complied, going deeper, harder. She wrapped her arms around his back and hugged him close. Struggled just to breathe against the pleasure, felt his own breath, wet and hot, against her ear.
Gave herself over to it, and came, gripping his hips hard between her thighs and bucking up, pressing herself against his pelvis.
Watched his face as he followed her over.
They collapsed into a tangle of limbs and hot, damp bodies on the wrinkled sheets, and then wriggled around just enough to get under the covers.
They slept the rest of the night, soundly and dreamlessly.
She moaned in protest at the annoying buzz of the alarm clock, her head aching a bit from a night of not-enough-sleep. To her surprise, for once, her groan produced real results. Someone else turned the damn thing off.
“Mmm,” she hummed approvingly, and cuddled closer to the warm chest she was draped over. Warm... manly... chest. And that thing against her thigh? Definitely not a girly thing.
But Giles *was* petting her hair a lot like Tara liked to do.
It was kinda nice. She kept her eyes closed, and held still, putting off the whole freaking-out phase that was probably going to come as soon as they both admitted to being awake. Actually, it was *really* nice. His arm was hooked around her back, holding her close, and his dick was hard, and they smelled good. Ok, not good, exactly. They needed a shower. But it was nice, in some sort of primal, sexy way.
It made her want to crawl on top of him, let him slide inside her, and ride him for as long as he could stand it, and just say to hell with the rest of the world, like shops that needed opening, and college courses that needed attending, and lovers that needed a big confession followed by a much bigger apology.
And his hand was so tender. So fascinated with her hair. Almost made her think...
Then she noticed that her left arm was completely numb, so she had to give up the illusion of sleeping so that she could pull it out from under him. He shifted obligingly, and she ended up propped on that elbow, looking down at him. He smiled up at her.
“Good morning,” he said.
Hmm. Not freaking out. Still petting her, even, although his hand had moved from her hair to her arm. Since she'd been expecting stammering and blushing and a speedy retreat, this all left her a bit confused.
“Hi,” she said.
Then they were both just silently looking at each other. Her heart was beating a little hard. None of this was going as she'd expected. Least of all when his hand moved again, from her arm to her face, touching her cheek, and then lightly brushing over her lips. She breathed out softly around his fingers, and his eyes drifted closed for a moment. Then he rolled them over, gently pressing her down on her back beneath him.
She didn't even try to not kiss him back. Didn't hide the way her body arched up against his weight.
“Oh, Willow,” he said, and then he was kissing a path under her jaw, his tongue soft and wet and maddeningly *good.*
She said his name, called him Rupert, because she'd only ever called him by it that one other time last night, and now it felt so good rolling off her tongue, like a sex word.
He nipped her earlobe, cupped her breast in his hand and rubbed her nipple roughly with his thumb. She gasped, and rocked her hips up. Oh, goddess, he felt wonderful. His thigh was between her legs, close enough for her to rub herself against, so she did, groaning at the sweet relief of pressure against her hot, swollen center.
“God, yes, precious,” he breathed, raggedly, against the skin he'd dampened with his tongue. He hitched his knee a little higher, pressing more firmly against her sex, and slid his hand down to her hip to encourage her. Her gaze followed his hand down and something inside her flared up like a wildfire.
His hand was flexing and releasing, following the slow roll of her pelvis against his thigh, coaxing her, begging her to keep moving. Her leg was twined around his. His breath was harsh beside her ear. His cock was hard as steel, a hot brand brushing against her flank with each upstroke.
The endearment buzzed in her mind, flickering through the haze of sleepy, sensual pleasure.
She gripped his shoulder, could feel her own slick juices, cooling on the skin of his thigh. Could feel the hair there tickling her skin, sweet friction just where she wanted it.
He whispered to her as they moved together with their easy rhythm.
“Beautiful,” he said, and then kissed the folds of her ear. “Amazing.” Another kiss, and one to punctuate each word after: “Perfect. Wonderful. Willow.”
Then his hand slid off her hip, pushed between them, two fingers curling into her without preamble. She grunted and dropped her head back, twisted up to meet him, felt nothing, thought of nothing, but the pure pleasure of his hand on her, inside her, working her with practiced skill: his fingers moving inside her, his thumb pressed against her clit.
He shifted closer, bringing with him heat and the heady scent of male sweat and sex, and his mouth covered hers, his tongue pushed between her lips, taking her, claiming her, even as his fingers dug deep into her body.
She moaned helplessly, scraped her nails down his arm. It seemed to incite him. He pressed her down, kissed her fiercely.
He had four fingers in her now, his thumb still circling her. Her orgasm hit hard and fast, raking up her body, slamming her hips up against him, clamping her passage iron-hard around his hand.
She collapsed, boneless, but he didn't let up. He broke the kiss to let her breathe, but kept up his rhythm inside her, his eyes on hers, blazing and intense.
“Goddess,” she gasped, “Fuck me, Rupert. Now, please. Please-”
He didn't, though. Not until he'd wrung another orgasm from her. Then he left her, briefly, a melted puddle of happy goo, while he leaned over and pulled open the drawer of the bedside table. It was while he was rooting around in the drawer looking for another condom that she figured something out.
This was a seduction. Not a sexual seduction, obviously, since here they were, already well into the sex part. This was about a lot more than sex.
He crawled back over her, and kissed the tip of her nose teasingly. She was too distracted by her new revelation to smile. He cocked his head to the side.
“No... I just... I'm having a paradigm shift here. Don't mind me.”
He grinned at that, a broad, happy, uncomplicated grin, and kissed her again, lightly, on her temple, and then whispered, softly, “God, I love you.”
Then, while she was still reeling over that, he thrust inside of her.
“Just making sure you shift into the right one,” he said, still grinning, a cheerfully wicked sparkle in his eyes.
He was moving gently enough that she could keep her wits more or less about her.
He was looking down at her so tenderly, though. And he felt so good, moving inside her. Negative thoughts weren't really coming to mind.
“Mmm, tha's nice,” she slurred.
He pulled away and sat back on his heels. Wow, and she'd thought she was seeing a lot of Giles skin *last night*.
“Hey,” she protested, albeit somewhat weakly, because this was her best view yet of Giles, full monty. “'scuse me, Mister, but what part of ‘mmm, that's nice' are you having trouble with here?”
“Roll over,” he said.
She arched her brow at him.
“Trust me,” he said, with another grin.
So, she did, because she was discovering that she really liked Giles when he was gleeful.
He leaned down over her, kissing her shoulderblade languidly for a little while, until she said, “So, what exactly are you planning on doing back there? Just so we're all on the same page and all.”
She felt his chuckle on her skin, and shivered a little at the feeling.
“Not that, if that's what you're thinking.”
He nipped her, and she squirmed and giggled.
“Well, thank you, that was nice and indefinite.”
“Here, sit up. Slowly, let me-”
His hands were strong and steadying on her sides, pulling her back towards him and then holding her still, up on her knees and braced against the wall with one hand.
“Big with the orders, today, aren't we?” she said, as he moved up flush against her back, his knees between hers. “What are you-”
But then she didn't need an answer, because he'd pulled her down into his lap, sliding back inside her.
“Oooooh,” she sighed. “Ok.”
His stomach was a firm presence against the small of her back, and it occurred to her that if they'd tried this a few weeks later, it probably wouldn't have worked out.
He'd wrapped one arm around her, and his other hand was on her, touching her as he began to move again. Their position kept things almost painfully slow, but that was more than compensated for by the way his cock was touching whole new places inside her, and his fingers on her clit were driving her right back out of her mind.
He kissed her neck, fucked her, held her tight, and she lost all track of time, everything just fading into a golden sort of haze. Nothing mattered except his hands on her, his cock inside her, his voice, murmuring to her. Calling her things like “darling,” and “love,” and “precious.”
Her climax, when it came, was powerful but slow, rolling over her like liquid heat. It was thorough, like being licked all over, and it left her every muscle quivering and weak in reaction.
She just hung in his arms, after that, her head draped back over his shoulder, exulting in the tingling aftershocks as he reached his own completion.
Afterwards, they were spooned together, unconcerned with their mutual lateness.
“But... what if this is just some kind of... weird reaction to, you know, this whole... weird situation. Like, maybe this is some manifestation of my nurturing instincts or something.”
His hand stopped petting her arm.
“Do you think it is?”
“I- I dunno. I mean, it's not that I don't... really really like you, Giles. I mean, I've had a crush on you for, like, ever. But... five years we've known each other, and we haven't jumped in bed before.”
The petting resumed, but warily.
“Yes. But in that time... you were far too young at first. And then there was Oz. And then Tara.”
“Um, technically, there's still Tara.”
He didn't answer.
“I love Tara.”
His silence continued.
“I don't know what I want, Giles... I didn't think... this isn't... I never planned on this.”
She started to roll over to face him, but he tightened his arms around her, and then kissed her shoulder.
“Take all the time you need, love. I'm not going anywhere.”
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