Setting: Mid-summer following "The Gift"
He's arranged his life, such as it is these days, around that chair. A decanter of good scotch; a glass. Spare glasses for when he accidentally breaks the pair he's wearing with constant cleaning, futile as Lady Macbeth and her bloody hands. It didn't work for Pontius Pilate, either. Mostly he leaves them off; he doesn't care to see the world around him.
There's also a stack of ancient texts, bookmarks bristling like porcupine quills, but the whole of them are covered in a sheet of dust. He's given up researching; there's no joy anymore in reading of monsters and things that go bump in the night. They may come and fetch him any time they please.
It's been seventy-five days since Buffy leapt from the tower. He can still hear her words, channeled through Dawn's sobs: "Be strong. Live. For me."
Foolish girl. She knew perfectly well that her departure would tear the hearts from them all. Live? Rubbish.
No, they cannot live. But they can exist. They can go on. And they do, one day at a time. Seventy-five today. Seventy-six tomorrow.
He reaches out an arm and finds, by instinct, the scotch and glass. They're both sticky with countless days' worth of residue. No matter; they'll do. Even with glasses off, he can see well enough to pour.
But as the amber liquid trickles into his glass, cool hands neatly intercept both and take them away inexorably as a nanny insisting on no treats before dinner. "No more of that, Rupert," a roughly-accented voice warns him. "You've had half the bottle today. Should be plenty to dull even your pain."
It's not enough, he wants to scream. It will never be enough. But he's British and middle-aged and far too used to his facade to yell, so he sinks back in utter dejection and lets himself be bereft of his comfort objects. Besides, the owner of that voice, those hands, knows that he's talking rubbish.
He would not have ever thought, at least seventy-five days ago, that he should find himself here, surrounded by the cold comfort of good furniture, and cared for by a soulless vampire – by Spike.
The blurry figure settles in front of him, between his knees. He's comfortable there, at the foot of the good chair and the ex-Watcher. Giles is sprawled out – terribly undignified; once he wouldn't have permitted himself such a lack of grace – and it's no effort for Spike to make himself comfortable with a hand on either denim-clad thigh.
When was it, he wonders, that he began to wear jeans all the time? Had he discovered they were utterly practical to sit, sleep, and whatever in? Was it a conscious decision, reminding him of her at her most carefree and casual? Or was it Spike's choice, bringing the Watcher down to his level somehow? He doesn't remember, and truth be told, doesn't much care. The jeans feel good on him, and that suffices.
He must have been wearing this pair for some time. Down the length of his right leg are dozens of tally marks, old grading to newer.
Spike studies him for a long moment – Giles is glad he can't read the expression in those blue, blue eyes – then reaches to the floor, picks up and uncaps a stray marker, and draws a deliberate hash-mark through the highest four lines. "Seventy-five, then?"
Giles nods, remembering now. It's good that it matters enough for Spike to keep track as well.
There are counting-marks on his left leg as well. He gazes at them with idle curiosity. They stand for... what? Something important. There's far fewer of them, though, and they're in different color inks. Red, blue, green, purple, even metallic gold. And instead of the standard four straight lines and a slash for "five" they're counted in twos, one short line bisecting the near-top of a long one. Tiny crosses, they look like. Uneven. Far more short lines than long ones.
Spike's cool fingers come to rest over the marks, curling and uncurling. It takes Giles a moment to realize they're caressing his thigh. "All right tonight?" he asks, glancing up beneath his eyelashes. "Missing her more than usual?"
Giles can't speak. Unmanly tears fill his eyes. "Shh, shh," Spike soothes straightaway, still petting his leg. "It's alright then, isn't it? Spike'll take away the pain. Yours and mine. Shh, shh, come on then."
He drops the marker. His fingers crawl up Giles' legs, to the zip of his jeans. "We'll forget, you and I. And soon, you'll come back to yourself. Red, Glinda, Xan, that lot, they're holding it together, but they need you. Like you're their father, innit? Mentor. And the Bit. She needs you. Otherwise they'll send her to LA, Madrid, wherever that git father of hers might be with his latest bit of fluff. Buffy left her to you, but you've got to be fit, see?"
He strokes Giles' stubbled cheek, surprisingly gentle. "And I need you too. Right? I loved her, yeah, but I love you like I love you. I think you love me too, when you're not addled with grief or deafened by Watcher should-nots. Don't you go forgetting that when you're yourself again, hear? Couldn't bear it. She left me – us. Don't you leave me too."
Giles shuts his eyes, unable to bear it. Leave this ferocious, tender creature? Even in the dimmed recesses of his mind he recoils at the thought. This thing, this Spike, is all that's saved his soul alive. And isn't that a funny thing for a soulless creature to do?
Spike takes heart at Giles' soft chuckle. He buts his head against the older man's hands, like a kitten asking to be petted. Those fingers work again, sliding down his jeans zipper and reaching inside for flesh already half-hard, turgid with a need and hunger they both understand.
Clever, clever, he draws his hand down the shaft and dips his mouth in closer to hungrily devour Giles' cock from tip to root and back again, all the while swirling his tongue in a complicated dance. Sucking the deadness from him and bathing him in his own proof of life, one gleaming pearl at a time.
Giles bursts into an internal flame that melts the ice around his heart for this blazing-brilliant moment. A voice he vaguely recognizes as his own urges Spike on: "Yes – yes – faster, harder, Gods, don't stop. More, more – yes, please, more –" His fingers dig almost cruelly into the vampire's hair as his head bobs, but he knows that pleasure is pain, and pain is pleasure, and it's all just what they need here and now.
He can just see the blur that is Spike's hand undoing his own jeans and relieving the pressure in his own pale, jutting column of flesh, and wishes – for something – but soon rational thought is past and there's only white-hot explosions of pleasure.
Then there are teeth – oh, such gentle teeth – and it's over, he's pushed past the edge. No light, no breath, no heartbeat, and if he could die as he sometimes wants to, he would want it to be this way.
Too soon he's back in his own body, gasping for air but fingers now relaxed in Spike's well-mussed hair. He feels a kiss pressed to his knee, still encased in the comforting, calendar jeans. "All right?"
"Very," he manages. Always, he wishes he could say something more, but he manages what he can. "Thank you."
"Solace, love." Another soft kiss, and Spike's doing him back up, tucking now-soft flesh away and zipping it out of sight. There's a small smear of semen on his chin. He licks it off, utterly unconscious of doing so. Giles watches and thinks – no, yes, no, yes, knows that he loves this bizarre, amazing creature.
He looks up at Giles, seeking for a little more clarity in the weathered face. "Feeling better, then?"
Giles considers that carefully. He feels a little sharper inside his mind and a little more at rest inside the black hole in his heart with Buffy's name carved on it. "Yes," he says at last. "Some. Thank you."
"Said that already, pet," Spike reminds him, but he doesn't seem offended. He lays his cheek on Giles' thigh and looks up at him, patient and willing.
"I lo-" Giles clears his throat. "I lo-"
"Shh. S'alright. I know. You know. That's enough. We'll go on, we'll get strong. And here." Spike reaches down to the floor again, digging underneath the wonderful chair. He comes up with a red marker and makes a careful horizontal bar across one of the lines on Giles' left leg. "This is to remember by. Okay?"
He takes Giles' hand in his own and kisses the knuckle. "We few, we merry few," he murmurs.
Giles loves him more than ever. He snuggles back into his chair, pushes his leg harder against Spike's cheek. Laughs, knowing he'll understand, and finishes for him. Deliberately wrong, but right for the here-and-now.
"Us. We band of beloved."