Antenna (antennapedia) wrote,

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Blackmail commentary, part 1/2

DVD commentary on Blackmail, as requested by violetisblue. The story is Giles/Buffy, most definitely adult, and most definitely kinky in a leather sense, so do not follow the cut if any of these traits displease you.

Some time in December 2006 I checked the first part of this into my repository, in a file for smut_69 prompts. I had been writing them in the Tradition & Protocol universe, but either those responses weren't going anywhere, or they were turning into material I wanted to use in the main story. I knew I wanted to write some Giles/Buffy kink, though.

The germ of the story comes from two sources. First is a story called "Sleep to Dream" by Liberty N. Justice, in which Giles submits secretly to Jenny Calendar. My backstory for Giles, and my story of his relationship with Jenny, is a bit different from LNJ's take. My Giles is less of a pure introvert than hers was, but that setup was a huge inspiration. I wanted more of that Giles.

Second is a reaction to the zeitgeist: I had been seeing a lot of stories involving an extremely toppy Giles, usually paired with Wesley. That's a dynamic I can believe, but I was very much taken by the idea of Giles in the opposite role. The image of Giles worshipping at Jenny's feet. I could believe that too, more in some ways than a domineering Giles. Plus, I'm contrarian. If everybody is writing something, I'll look for ways to write the exact opposite.

The prompt word "blackmail" isn't in the list; I used a writer's choice slot for it. My initial idea was to write it as a standalone using that one prompt slot. For several months it was a "fidget story" only, which is to say, something I tinkered with when I needed a break from my main projects.

I had a complete draft of the whole first arc finished before I began posting, but I hadn't broken it into seven sections yet. I posted the first piece, then re-wrote each section in the day before I posted it. The revisions were focused on emotion and sensory experience. I slowed everything down and made myself inhabit my character's bodies. I'm still learning how to write effective porn, and this story was a deliberate exercise in prawn.

And with that introduction, let's begin with Giles:

1. Blackmail

"Thank you for coming by, Buffy. I'm sorry about the short notice, but it's rather urgent."

Giles hadn't met her eyes since she'd come in the flat. Buffy began to feel nervous. What was he about to tell her? That he was going back to England? Her stomach felt funny when she thought about that idea. She freely admitted she hadn't seen much of him the last few weeks. Partly that was because Riley had thrown a jealous fit when she'd said she was thinking about training with Giles again. No, it was mostly because of that, and because Riley had invented things for them to do every time she tried to come over here. She'd had to tell him to get bent tonight, even.

Telling not showing, alas, and I will abandon this take on Riley in part 2. Timeline is not clearly established in this paragraph, but I am thinking it's post-"Hush", pre-"A New Man". After Buffy's birthday, probably.

Buffy was sick of that. She needed Giles' training, needed his special knowledge of Slaying and the occult. And it was past time she took charge of her life and did what she knew she needed. And what Buffy needed was a Watcher. Which wouldn't happen if Giles left. What was up? He was feeding her tea with little cookies. That said it was serious.

A reference to a similar scene in "Buffy v Dracula", when he is about to tell her that he's going back. But the rest of the paragraph is moving way too fast for the overall pace of the series, as it turned out. It would be acceptable in a one-shot, where her motivations would be more set-dressing for the porn than important character issues.

"Giles. This is killing me. Please just tell me what's up."

"I, I..." Giles shook himself, and when he spoke again his stammering was a little better. "I'm being blackmailed. Or rather, someone is trying to blackmail me, and I have told them to publish and be, be damned."

Buffy let her shoulders sag in relief for a moment. Then she tensed again. Somebody needed to have their head ripped off.

Buffy being Buffy. She'll ignore Giles for weeks, but she still cares about him.

"Who?" she said.

"No one important to you. The information they're attempting to hide is important. The location and weakness of a demon new in town. They know of my connection to you, and were attempting to get me to hide it. I cannot... I cannot be used to protect demons." Giles still wouldn't look at her.

"Okay. I get that. What's the threat? Do you need me to stop it?"

"The threat involves you. I will tell you about the demon, you will Slay the demon, and then, ah. They will send photographs to you."

Buffy watched Giles's hands fidgeting with his teaspoon.

"There really isn't anybody else they could use against me," he continued, almost muttering. "I have no job, no other personal relationships. Nobody else matters to me as much as you do. I, uh, I will understand, Buffy, if you choose to, to avoid me after this."

"Avoid you more than I have been, you mean," Buffy said, drily.

"Well. It can get worse. Or so I have assured myself." He sounded endlessly sad, and worse. Resigned to it.

Establishing Giles's starting point: the ignored and out-of-the-loopy person he was in s4 canon. Season 4 is a great place to set stories that swing wildly AU, I think. Season 5 is where I want to set happy Scooby family stories. Season 6 stories all turn into psychological fix-it stories for me. Season 7 I ignore because I could barely watch it. But in S4, I have the characters who are grown up a bit from the high school incarnations I love a lot, and I also have flexibility. They can have sex without squicking readers (they're adults) and they're not tied down. Plus, the S4 canon arc is one I think the show writers botched, wasting a solid setup, so I like the idea of writing my own second half.

Buffy rubbed his shoulder, on impulse. Giles flinched. She kept rubbing, though, and he seemed to relax a tiny bit. "Okay, tell me what to expect. Photographs of what?"

Giles stiffened again. "Ah. Sexual activity."

"With what, a goat? 'Cause I gotta tell ya, regular old--"

This line makes me laugh.

"With a woman. A, a, professional."

"Oh," said Buffy. She thought about that for a bit. That had a lot of implications. At last, she said, "I'm not happy that my Watcher has to pay to get what he ought to be able to get from a regular smoochie-partner."

An adult reaction. First clear statement about Buffy's character here.

Giles flushed and cleared his throat. "Yes. Well. The reality is that I haven't been able to, to, to find a partner. And so I paid for it. And now I am paying again."

Buffy knew this had to be killing Giles, to go through exposing his private life to anybody. The idea that strangers had taken photos of him had to be hell all by itself. He looked like it was killing him, all hunched in on himself at the other end of the couch. "Hey. Giles. Don't worry. I promise not to hate you."

"Still. If you could refrain from looking at them, when they arrive, I would be obliged." He fumbled off his glasses and gave them a polish on his sweater.

"Right. Now tell me all about this demon I'm gonna kill tonight."

Now we jump in time, no transition. I like this sort of move.

The package arrived two days later, in her dorm mailbox. A manila envelope, with a local postmark on it and no return address. Stiff from what felt like a piece of cardboard. A little thick. Buffy carried it up to her dorm room, tucked into the three-ring binder with her life sciences labwork. Willow was there, chattering about impending finals. Impending, hell; they were three weeks away and Willow was studying already. But Buffy couldn't do anything about the package while Willow was there to be curious about it. And she didn't want Willow knowing about this. Giles would die.

Note that I originally thought I was going to set this end of season 4. I changed my mind later. I ought to have edited this paragraph in a sneaky retcon move.

Willow took off around dinner time to hang out with Tara. Buffy continued with her English Lit reading for a little while after that, but the package was staring at her. Even hidden in the binder. She should burn it. Tearing it up probably wouldn't be enough. She dug in the drawer where she had a Zippo stashed away, for the naughtier sort of dorm parties, then stopped when she remembered she couldn't burn it in the dorm. Tonight on patrol, maybe? Would it catch fire all in a lump like that? Maybe she should burn the photos one at a time.

Curiosity has bitten her. And note that Buffy gets up to a bit of illicit fun now and then. Probably without Riley.

Buffy ripped it open and slid out the contents face-down. Photos, cover letter, sheet of cardboard. She counted. Twenty photos. Eight by ten glossies.

Buffy reasoned this way: If she didn't look, this would always work as a threat. If she didn't really, totally know all the way what Giles had to hide, somebody could always threaten to expose it. And how wild could it be, anyway? He'd said a woman. One woman.


She turned the cover letter over without reading it and looked at the first one. Okay, she could see why Giles didn't want people knowing about this. Yeah, it was sex with a woman, but it wasn't exactly vanilla. Vanilla didn't involve the guy on his knees with a blindfold on. And his hands tied. And wearing what Buffy had learned from Dorm Porn Night was a cock ring. Around what was a pretty impressive package, she had to say. Gotta hand it to the Watcher there.

The image that got me in motion with this story, and I think this was the first text I wrote for it.

Vanilla definitely didn't involve the stuff in the next few photos, either. Buffy had seen it all before, at the aforementioned Porn Night. And some of it she'd read about, in books that she kept hidden in boxes deep inside her closet where even Willow's curiosity wouldn't turn them up. The bondage video they'd run had had Buffy breathing hard in seconds. She'd hidden herself in the corner of the room and hoped nobody noticed. She was breathing hard again now.

Lucky Giles, who got to do some of that stuff, even if he paid for the privilege.

Though Buffy admitted, as she lingered on the one where Giles had come, she envied the woman in the photos more than him. You never saw more than her high-heeled boots and legs, and her hands with the whip and the other stuff, but in Buffy's book, she was having the most fun. Not that Giles wasn't. The expression on his face was amazing. Pained and ecstatic and wild. Buffy wanted to see it without the blindfold in the way. It was just that Buffy wanted to be making somebody else's face screw up like that. Be the one in charge.

Buffy is a dom. There's my stake in the ground.

She imagined doing those things with Riley. Good old solid soldier boy, with his hands tied in the small of his back and clamps on his nipples. Begging her. Buffy couldn't see it. That was never going to happen. Riley bitched when she wanted to be on top when they had sex. As if that meant anything at all.

Poor Riley. Canon never did settle on a consistent characterization for him. There were times when I liked him, but in the end I had to think that he was just not interesting enough for Buffy. I'm kinder to him in later sections, and then I'll be much, much crueller to him before I'm through...

The expression on Giles' face when she had said "bondage fun" to him once. The little dip of the head Giles made when she went into in-charge Slayer mode. The way Giles did what she ordered him to, when she bothered to. How amazingly turned on she was, right now, thinking about that first photo of him, just kneeling with his hands behind his back, cock jutting out.

I can't believe canon gave us that moment, but it did. Heh. Though now that I think about it, I've fucked up my canon. That's in "Who Are You", the Faith bodyswap ep. In my original timeline, that would have preceeded this incident. In my revised timeline that shifts this to earlier in Season 4, it hasn't happened yet. Oops.

Doing those things with Giles, now that would be hot. The thought of that careful, buttoned-up, controlled man, coming unglued, letting it all out. Oh, god. Pity he'd never consider doing it with her. He'd probably get all stuffy and talk about propriety. As if Watchers and Slayers hadn't been getting it on for centuries.

The thought of Giles coming unglued: yes, please.

Buffy flipped back through the photos one at a time, paying careful attention to Giles' face. She knew him well, from years spent fighting together. Some of that stuff he loved, and some things he liked less. The top should have spent more time talking to him first. Buffy could do better, she bet.

She flipped back to the cover letter. Laser printed, her name in the salutation, then a single paragraph: "Perhaps you find this information as interesting as we did: He addressed her as Slayer."

Oh, Giles. You poor bastard.

Buffy slid the photos back into the envelope and locked it into her desk drawer, along with the Zippo. She sat back and thought. Planned. Seize the day. Bank balance, okay. She knew where the fetish shop was, and she knew that the tattoo and piercing place also carried BDSM stuff. But first, the university library. She had to know what she was doing, or this plane wouldn't fly.

The Slayer uncoiled herself from her chair and was in motion.

This section changed the least in revision before posting, and was more or less intact for a couple of months before I finished the whole thing enough to post it.

2. Proposition

Five days after he and Buffy had cleared the nest of Kammer demons, at nine-thirty in the evening, Rupert Giles sat in his armchair, drinking two fingers of the Macallan neat and attempting to read a spy novel. He'd been staring at the same page for half an hour. He thought that he should probably give it up, toss back the whisky, and turn in early. He hadn't seen Buffy since they'd slaughtered the demons together, and he'd been on edge the entire time.

Giles's point of view. Time has passed; enough time for Buffy to have done her research on how to practice safe and sane SM. I should probably have been specific about what he was reading, but that would have required work to find something with the correct secondary signals. Writing! It's work.

The demon's representative had to have followed through on the threat by now, and sent Buffy the photographs. Giles knew what they showed. The man had shown them all to Giles first. The bastard had been human, so Giles hadn't been able to kill him. Instead, he'd endured the humiliation for every second the man had wanted to draw it out.

And now his Slayer hadn't rung him or dropped by. Had she looked, despite her promise? Or was it just coincidence, and she'd simply forgotten about him again as she had so often this year? He had no idea.

Giles damned himself, his fetishes, every fool thing his willful cock had ever led him to do. Go to bed with Ethan. Raise demons. Seduce Olivia with lies. Hire that woman. Role-play with that woman. It had almost been worth it. Almost. To taste that release one more time. To be taken out of himself, purified, drained to serenity. Those moments of anticipation, feeling the bonds tight at his wrists and ankles, tugging at them and knowing himself helpless, the breathless wait for what would happen next, for the first touch of a merciless hand on him... God.

A first moment of insight into why Giles seeks out these sensations. Also, a deliberate tug on the kink strings. If this is your kink, I've just woken you up.

It wasn't going to happen again. He had to resign himself. The risk was too great. He was known as the Slayer's Watcher, here and in Los Angeles. There was no way he could find someone. It would be himself and his left hand, alone in his bed.

He wanted it worse than ever now that he knew he couldn't have it. Giles had a gulp of whisky and swore under his breath, deeply.

Poor bastard. Also, note "whisky". "Scotch" is an Americanism, as far as I can tell. And if it's a single malt from Scotland, it gets the no-E spelling. I'm more into bourbons than single malts, but I try to give Giles a different favored whisky every story. Usually one I have at least tried. Oh, research is so difficult!

Someone knocked on his door. He twitched up from his armchair to answer it, but it opened before he finished standing. Buffy. She turned, closed it, and locked it. She stepped into his little living room area. She was wearing engineer boots and a leather jacket. Full Slayer mode, fierce and focused. Deadly and attractive. But the expression on her face was stormy.

I will now expose one of my kinks: Buffy in boots and jeans.

Giles picked up his tumbler and had another gulp of whisky. Apparently the other shoe had dropped.

"Giles. Watcher." Buffy let her messenger bag slide to the floor.

"G-good evening, Buffy. What brings you here?" Disingenuous, pathetic.

"I have a problem. I think I know the solution, but I definitely have a problem."

"Oh! Er. What sort of..." Giles trailed off. She had advanced until she was standing in front of his fireplace.

"Stand up."

Giles had another pull of the whisky. What the hell was she up to?

She took the glass from him and sniffed it. She had a sip, shrugged, then put it on the mantel. "I believe I gave you an order, Watcher."

Establishing her dominance over him with a small gesture.

"Buffy, I--"

"*Stand up.*"

Dom Buffy now in full evidence. She's probably wise to be going full bore right away with Giles.

Giles stood.

He thought about asking her again what was going on, but saw the look in her eye and decided against it. He stood watching her. He didn't know what to do with his hands. His palms were wet. He rubbed them against his jeans. He tried to breathe. When she'd snapped out those words, it had gone straight to his cock. This was not the time to be dizzy with lust for his Slayer. Again.

Buffy regarded him silently. She had another taste of his whisky. One booted foot was on the raised hearth. She was wearing black jeans. Tight jeans. Oh, God.

"Giles. We need to talk. About what was in those photographs."

"I asked you not to look at them!" Giles flushed red. Mercifully, his arousal faded.

It's probably crackfic, and it's kinkfic, but I'd like it to also be a believable (in some sense) story about humans. Giles is not going to be happy she's shared in his humiliation.

"Well, I did. And I read the letter that came with them."

Giles had no idea what was in that letter, but whatever it had been, it had angered Buffy. Angered? Not exactly. The expression on her face was something else. Something far more frightening to him. She was intent, though to what purpose he could not guess. On humiliating him further?

Giles turned away. His shoulders were tight. Might as well get it over with. "Say what you need to say to me."

"Giles. Relax."

He snapped. "Why in sodding hell would I *relax?*"

I love snarky Giles.

Buffy took his arm and spun him around roughly to face her. "Giles. Calm down." She gave him a few moments, then said, "It's perfectly all right to want those things. What isn't all right is the way you got them. You laid yourself open to blackmail. You went to somebody else. You should have come to me."

Giles opened his mouth to protest, but found himself speechless. Eventually he sputtered out, "Buffy, don't be absurd."

Buffy advanced on him. He backed until he was against the wall beside his fireplace. She stood inches away. He could smell her leather jacket, the musky perfume she wore. He was half-hard again. His cock admitted what he wanted, even when he couldn't. Damnable fool.

A reprise of his earlier thoughts. Also, interesting that he chooses to ascribe the desires to a body part, not really to himself.

"I've read Watcher diaries, Giles. I know what our predecessors got up to. We wouldn't be the first, or the last."

Yeah, G/B is the Buffyverse pairing that grabs me hardest, and I can't help but allude to why. Watchers and Slayers, bound together by sucky destinies, consoling each other.

"You can't want--"

"But I do want. I want you. And I know that you want me."

"I don't--"

"Don't lie to me. I know you do. You called her Slayer."

Giles felt his world falling in on itself. Buffy's gaze on him was the only stable thing around him. He clung to it. She knew, and she was here, and she was... She wanted him? He flattened his hands against the wall, to hold himself up.

Trying to get across how emotionally intense this conversation would be for Giles.

"I won't have you calling anybody else your Slayer, hear me? I'm your Slayer. I make you feel what you need to feel. I do those things to you. You're *my* Watcher, understand? Mine. Not going to share you."


"I haven't been your Watcher for a year," he whispered.

"Would you like to be my Watcher again?"

The shock of hope nearly brought him to his knees. "God. Buffy. You know I would."

Buffy said, "So. You will be my Watcher. You will train me, teach me, translate for me. Sharpen my sword. All that. In exchange, I will be everything you need in private. Your Slayer. Your mistress."

His mouth went dry, at the sound of that word from her lips. He fought to swallow. His mistress. He felt as if he were standing on the edge of a cliff. His Slayer was asking him to step off. No. He'd already stepped off. There was no going back on this conversation.

"An exchange," said Giles. His voice was hoarse. "Buffy, do you understand what you're offering me?"


"Have you, um, have you... done this before?"

"I don't have a lot of practical experience. Just reading. But I do know that what you want and what I want are a match. We go together."

She sighed. "I haven't been able to find anybody either. So many guys are either wimps or too macho. Like Riley. Think he's not a man if he's not on top. I've had enough of that. I want an adult. Somebody who knows himself."

Giles breathed out a nervous laugh. "I'm not sure I'm that. But I suspect I know myself better than your Riley does."

It takes a strong person to bottom. This is said so often it's cliche, but I think it's true.

He stared at her boots, at the worn and creased leather, and thought hard. He wanted to say yes. God, he wanted to say yes. She was everything he'd ever desired in women: strong, willful, impish, quick-witted, capable. She was pure power and grace. She was the Slayer. Could he let himself say yes?

A character trait you'll see often in my take on Giles: he likes strong and slightly wicked partners. Think about what Jenny and Ethan have in common.

What would happen if he said no? She needed him. Needed his skills. He knew that. He knew it would kill her, eventually, if they carried on this way, and she were further separated from him.

Rationalization from Giles now, but he knows it for what it is.

He had to accept. For her own sake. And if that was rationalization, so be it. Giles surrendered, all in a heap.

"I... I accept your offer."

She shifted in place, sharply, as if preventing herself from moving to him.

"I will be your Watcher. And in exchange, you will, you will be..."

"Your mistress."

"My mistress." Giles whispered the last word.

A trade. And a fair one: work, sweat, and attention from each, to the benefit of the other. Giles serves Buffy, but there is a tangible reward for him. If you want this encounter to happen, you have followed me through this character inflection point. I'm not sure how well it works for somebody out of sympathy with the concept.

She did move toward him then, stepping directly in front of him. He brought his head up and met her eyes. Solemn, intense, and pleased. She held out her hand to him, palm out. He pressed his hand against hers. "My Watcher."

"My Slayer."

She slipped her fingers between his and clasped his hand.

Giles reeled for a moment. The oath the Council had administered to him had been accompanied by lashings of stiff pomp and circumstance, but this simple exchange of words with his Slayer meant far more.

Okay, I'm probably being cheesy by using "lashings" and "stiff" in that sentence, but it was deliberate. Nonetheless, I like the low-ceremony oath between the two. I want to let you know that Buffy is taking it seriously.

Buffy squeezed his hand. "We start tonight. I'll tell you what I want from you, as your mistress."

He swallowed, then nodded. "Buffy? Tomorrow. We'll discuss what I require of you, as your Watcher."

A hint that we're not in one of those 24-hour-submission scenarios. Honestly, those sorta bore me after a while. I like seeing the union of two strong people.

"Yes," Buffy said. Giles bent his head and kissed her hand.

A gesture of respect and affection. A courtly gesture. I make another statement about who Giles is with that detail. And also about my overall take on their relationship: I am a sap.

3. Confession

Buffy took his whisky glass and settled herself in his armchair. "So. Let's talk."

"Talk?" Giles felt a moment of mingled relief and disappointment. Did she not want to follow through immediately?

Did my readers have the same reaction? But I wanted to build slowly. I've read enough stories that leap into bed. I wanted a slow burn. I write primarily for myself, after all. In two senses: I write the stories I most want to read, in the hopes that my amnesiac future self will enjoy them. Also, I have learned that I produce better work when I am chasing my own story needs. I wanted slow, so you get slow.

"I need to know what you want."

"Oh. I, um." Jenny had done this to him as well, make him talk about things he'd never said aloud to anybody. She'd said she had to know, if she were to give him what he needed. And if Giles were to do this right, he'd have to reveal himself as fully to Buffy. How would she react? He rubbed his hands against his jeans again. His palms were still damp. He felt almost queasy from nerves.

Here comes the negotiation scene, which serves the minor task of nodding to safe-sane-consensual reality and the major task of keeping the reader's kink-sensors awake and quivering.

"On your knees. Now. Right here." Buffy pointed.

He moved immediately to kneel at her feet, and folded his arms behind his back. He didn't dream of disobeying. That voice of command came naturally to her, Giles thought. As naturally as submission came to him. Giles couldn't believe he was doing this. His breath was coming fast. His chest felt tight. His head spun. He'd been half-hard since she'd ordered him to stand, and now this had taken him the rest of the way. He didn't dare reach into his jeans to adjust himself to make it more comfortable.

Giles is a submissive. Now we begin to be smutty. The first section gave us photos of naked Giles, but wasn't particularly prawntastic. The second section was all character work. This next section is character work again, but sexual work.

She was studying him. He wondered what she saw. He knew what he saw in her. She had changed so much in the last year. She'd had lovers, had been betrayed, had glimpsed the world of adulthood. She was no longer the girl who refused her destiny. This older Buffy would meet it head on. So much older than she'd been. And she'd always been wise beyond her years. The gift and curse of the Slayers, that her life would be lived more intensely than the lives of ordinary girls. But, ah, a lovely light.

Buffy is an adult in his eyes. And god, it seems like all my references are giant stones dropped into the still ponds of my stories. Why do I do it?

What would she be like in bed? What pleased her? What would she do to him? Giles wanted to know. Needed to know. Would know before the evening was through. He watched her watching him. His hands were not trembling only because they gripped his arms behind his back.

"Okay, Giles. Tell me all about yourself. How did you get started with this?"

He opened his mouth to speak, but it was difficult. He fixed his gaze on her boots. It was easier not to look at her. Giles still could not speak.

"Let's start losing the armor. Take off your shoes and socks. And your sweater."

Giles obeyed, and set them to the side, the jumper neatly folded. He returned to his kneeling position. It was easier to take off his clothes than to tell her his secrets.

The emotional Marathon Man is going to have an easier time having sex than talking about it, I think.

"Talk," she said. Commanded, rather. He twitched reflexively in response, and cleared his throat to obey.

"I've had fantasies about it since I first knew it was possible. But I mostly... the first lover who... it was Ethan." He looked up at her anxiously. She hadn't known about his bisexuality before this. She looked amused, and not surprised in the least.

I take the Giles-Ethan relationship as canon. My Giles is bisexual. Let's not have the discussion now about whether bisexual men exist or not.

"Giles. Relax." She held out his glass of whisky to him. He kept his hands behind his back and let her feed him a few sips. "I figured out about Ethan. So, did you confess your fantasies to him?"

A dominance gesture again. I have Buffy doing this sort of thing throughout.

"No. He discovered it. He dripped candle wax on me when we were, ah, having sex. By accident. He was trying to move the thing out of the way. And I didn't react the way he expected."

"Where did it land?"

"My chest. Just here." Giles rested two fingers below his collarbone.

"What did it feel like?"

"Surprised me. Hurt, but felt so bloody good. All mixed up with how turned on I was. Ethan took one look at me and did it again. He pinned me down."

The experience of pain when aroused is usually different from how it's experience when you're not. Even if you're not particularly turned on by rough play, this is true. Though people vary. But I hammer in another signpost to Giles's kinks here: he craves pain.

He remembered that moment: his involuntary moan, and Ethan's startled eyes meeting his. Then the intent look on Ethan's face as he did it again while Giles held himself as still as he could. The hot wax-spatter on his chest, his almost wild excitement at the pain, Ethan's hand on his throat holding him in place. Ethan's delight in the discovery, and the savagely methodical manner in which he explored it over the following days. They hadn't talked about it at all. Ethan had silently acted, and Giles silently submitted.

"That guy pinned you?"

Giles smiled briefly. "I was much scrawnier at the time. And I wanted to be pinned. So he was my first."

"Have you been with a lot of men?"

"A few. Mostly not in, ah, this sort of relationship. I tend to be dominant with men, Ethan aside. And submissive with women. I... well, I have a theory about that." He looked away from her, at her boots on the rug next to him. She nudged his knee, gently, with a boot.

"It's, um, the Watcher training. They condition us, I'm fairly certain, from a young age. To admire power in women. Physical power. Fighting prowess. Everything the Slayer is. And long to serve it. To... bluntly, to worship our Slayers."

An important character moment.

"Aha," said Buffy, very quietly. "That's why your fantasy was to call the dominatrix Slayer."

Giles flushed again. He couldn't look at her.

"There is no shame here, Giles. I'm happy you want that. I'm going to give it to you for real."

My theory here is that Giles has been ashamed of his desires in the past. Jenny cured him of a lot of that, but it's still there. The experience of being blackmailed probably reawakened the shame. His life would be less complicated if he didn't have these desires. If his sexual orientation were vanilla.

"Thank you," he said. A flood of strong emotion that he couldn't name welled up in him, and he bent to kiss her boot. He lingered for a moment, then her hand was on the back of his neck, pressing him down, gripping hard. He sighed in satisfaction. His worries that she would be tentative because of inexperience faded. She released him. He knelt up again, cautiously, and met her eyes. He saw approval there. She liked the little gestures, then. He would be careful to please her with them.

"Take off your shirt," she said. Giles immediately pulled it over his head and folded it. She was slowly stripping him bare. Oddly, more slowly than he would have, if he were in charge. He'd be naked already. Jenny had always said he needed to learn patience.

I'll come back to this in a future segment.

"What made you buy it from someone?"

"Desperation. It had been so long, I... I couldn't find anyone. Either they got frightened off by the Hellmouth, or they were, were, were killed by it. Jenny-- I couldn't risk that again. Getting involved with someone seemed... impossible. But I wanted the sensations. I thought... I thought it could be safe."

She reached out, then, and stroked his face. Giles closed his eyes and opened himself to the touch, to her wordless sympathy and affection.

She gave him another sip of whisky. It was helping. She coaxed it all out of him like that, gradually. A taste of whisky, a question, another secret yielded. It helped that he'd done this before, with Jenny, who'd taught him words for some of his more intense desires. It all came out. The jolt of pleasure he felt when his lover took command of him. The sweet terror of helplessness. The need to have control stripped from him, so that he could be carried beyond himself, let himself feel. His tangled emotions about pain: need, craving, fear. The floating euphoria of the trance-state. The build to breaking point, when he at last surrendered himself to his mistress' will, when he at last let go of himself.

I am staking out my kink territory here: pain, pleasurable fear, loss of control. Also, I speed up the narrative and get across this information in summary instead of the dialog I've been doing. I figured I'd established the pattern, and you didn't need to see the characters directly saying all of this.

Catharsis, he said to her, and watched her anxiously to see if she understood. She nodded, serious and respectful as she'd been all evening. He recognized the expression on her face. She was thinking deeply, her gaze somewhere over his head. She refocused and smiled at him.

My husband and I have been arguing about whether there's any such thing as catharsis in reality. Yeah, Aristotle said it's what drama does. I think if anything is going to revitalize you following an extreme emotional experience, it would be sex. Particularly sadomasochistic sex. Giles believes in it, anyway, and craves it.

"I can give you what you need," she said.

*God, may it be so.*

She fed him the last of the whisky. He wasn't drunk, not in the least, but he was smoothed out, damped down by it. He might have fled his own flat in terror without it. He wished he'd had the courage to ask her to bind him immediately.

I'll probably return to this, too.

Buffy stood and carried the tumbler to the kitchen. Giles remained where he was, on his knees, because she had not given him leave to stand. He heard her moving around, opening the refrigerator. She returned with a bottle of spring water. She sat in his armchair again and drank a little. She didn't offer him any.

"Okay. Next. What don't you like?"

Giles sighed. This part of the catechism was more frightening. Ethan would ask him what he didn't like, and then do exactly that. Buffy, he reminded himself, was no Ethan. "I don't like humiliation. Ethan used to like to do that to me, but I... I like being valued."

This is a promise from me to my readers: no humiliation in this story. It is an anti-kink for me, a bulletproof squick.

"Valued for the gift you give to your top, of your body. Your pain and compliance."

Giles was a little surprised she understood this. "Yes, exactly. As I value the gift my mistress gives me, of her attention and her, her, her--" Giles broke off. He didn't have a word to use other than "love", and he didn't want to bring that up with Buffy yet.

And here again I point to what the story will do eventually with the relationship. Buffy has affection for Giles now, but it's more friendship + lust. It's more for Giles at the outset, and he's reluctant to reveal that.

There were a few more things he couldn't abide, not even to please a demanding top, but those were easily dismissed by Buffy as uninteresting to her as well. At last she was satisfied. She leaned forward, focused on him with new intensity. His mouth went dry again at her expression. Her hand would be on him soon.

Generalized indicator that there's other territory I won't go near, more to give myself hooks to hang details on in the future than make any clear promises to readers now. I considered going into detail, but I thought I'd gone on long enough already with this section. End on a tease:

"Right," she said. "I think that's enough talk. It's time to give you a taste of that helplessness."

4. Collar

"Take off your belt and give it to me," Buffy said.

Giles obeyed. She took it from him and examined it as if considering what to do next. "Buffy? May I make a suggestion?"

"Go ahead."

"If you, if you wish to, to bind me, I have some gear you might find useful."

Crash, grind, clunk. The first part of this section was more driven by the prompt of "toys" than by character needs. But I still could have done better with it.

"Bring it to me."

Giles rose smoothly to his feet and padded up the stairs to his loft. It was all in the back of his clothes closet. He came down with a cardboard box. He'd stored the gear when Jenny had died, and it had been a long time before he'd been ready to experience those sensations with somebody else. And then he'd been fool enough to think a professional would be discreet. He laid the box at Buffy's feet and returned to his knees. It was rather a lot; some of Jenny's equipment had been in his flat when she'd died, and he'd had no idea how to return it to her family without enduring an agonizing conversation.

Buffy opened them and began removing the contents. New tools set at the ready for the Slayer, each a weapon to be evaluated solemnly.

Several riding crops. A leather flogger. A horsehair whip. A paddle. Wrist and ankle cuffs in heavy black leather. Carabiners and quick releases. Rope and chain. Nipple clamps. A velvet bag with a selection of cock rings in it, including a thick metal ring that he'd loved wearing. Sometimes the sensation of it snug and heavy around his cock and balls had been the only thing making Snyder's staff meetings bearable.

Heh. I'll come back to this sensation. But mostly this section is about opening up some possibilities for future exploration. And about stroking my reader's kinks.

A few boxes with plugs, some silicone, some metal. Buffy examined each of them carefully, then returned them to their boxes.

And a wide leather collar with a buckle and rings. The first leather he'd ever owned. Or been owned with. Ethan had come home with it, probably stolen, the day after he'd discovered that his friend liked it rough. Giles recalled the feeling of it around his neck, buckled tight. He had worn it through some of the most intense experiences of his life. The leather had softened with age and use, but it was still solid. Heavy. He licked his lips.

Giles has a kink. This particular kink is not mine (if I do my job right, you will have no idea as you read which ones are mine and which ones aren't) but it's his, and I'm going to show its effect on him. Or try to do so, anyway. (NB: It's possible to guess which ones are mine anyway by noticing which ones show up across multiple stories. Damn.)

Buffy was watching him. "Do you want to wear this?"

"God, yes. Forgive me, that is, if it pleases you."

Buffy smiled at him. "I like knowing you're eager. So long as you're not pushy, that's fine."

She came around behind him and wrapped it around his neck. As he'd hoped, she pulled it snug, so he felt it. He felt her tuck the buckle end through and moaned. She tugged at it again. Giles arched his back in response. She held him firmly, one hand on his collar, one around his chest. She slid her hand down to rest above his navel.

"Are you hard under those jeans?"

"Yes," he whispered.

"You like this, don't you." She pulled at the collar again.

"Yes. Oh, God. So much."

"This will be our sign, then. When you're wearing this, you're mine."

She undid the top button of his jeans and slipped her hand down inside, over his belly. Her fingers brushed down, tantalizing him. She still had a hand on his collar, pulling him back against her. Giles could feel her breasts pressed against his back, her breath on his neck, her knees between his. She was small. Deceptively small. She could hold him in place effortlessly if he decided to struggle.

Intimacy. She's half-undressed him, but this is the first time they've touched intimately. Her strength is a major turn-on for Giles: she's the Slayer, and that's the biggest kink of all for him. It's a sensual ride from here on, though: the encounter has begun.

Giles melted. "Oh, God," he whispered. "Please. Take me. Do what you want with me. Anything. Please." He rocked his hips, trying to coax her into touching him. Those hands, Slayer-hot, on his skin, so close to where he burned.

She pulled her hand away. He whimpered in dismay, but a moment later she had her hand on him, cupping him through the jeans. Squeezing. He groaned and thrust into her hand. Then it was gone again and she was standing, pulling him up with her with that amazing strength. The strength that made him dizzy.

She released him and returned to the armchair. He remained where she'd left him, his arms still folded behind his back. She'd given him no specific orders, but already he knew she liked the little reminders, the little cues in his bearing. He would gladly give them to her, teach her what she might wish to demand from other lovers.

Giles is way more experienced than she is.

"Jeans off," she said.

Giles unbuttoned his jeans and slid them off. He folded and added them to the little pile of his clothing. His modesty. His reservations. His decorum. The little pile of everything he'd been told about how to behave with his Slayer, how to treat her, how to manage her. As if he'd ever managed Buffy. She'd owned him from the first. They'd raised him to love her, and keep her alive, and serve her, and here he was. Standing before her nearly nude, hands behind his back, head down, the proof of his devotion and service tenting out his boxers.

The Watchers are horrified. Giles is what happens when you take a man with a submissive streak and a taste for leather, and manipulate him further to make him want to serve a Slayer. But this is one of my fictional obsessions in the Buffyverse: what makes Giles want to serve this erratic, flighty, selfish, occasionally outright stupid Slayer? a) She's the defender of humanity. b) She's got a long list of good qualities too. c) They made him want to.

"The rest of it. Shorts off too."

Giles hid a little smile when he turned to add his underwear to his discarded armor. The first sign of impatience in his Slayer.

He turned back to her and clasped his hands behind his back. Her eyes were on his cock. He hoped she liked what she saw. Most of his lovers had. He was suddenly self-conscious. She'd been with beautiful men-- the sculptured undead Angel, and now the soldier boy with his artificial strength. Young men, or men with the appearance of youth, anyway. Not his all-too-human middle age.

Vanity and insecurity at once. Giles might be 200 years younger than Angel, but he looks fifteen years older.

Before his worry could spin into fear, she was speaking again. "Kneel. Spread your legs. Wider."

He obeyed. This, this he loved. Waiting on his knees before his lover. Awaiting her pleasure.

This I want to see. Let us agree to admire the Giles-body with Buffy here.

"So beautiful," she said, quietly, as if to herself. She was still looking at his cock. Then, to him she said, "There are some things I want to do with you tonight. I want your consent first."

Giles almost laughed, but fortunately controlled himself. He was naked, on his knees, aching for her hand on him, and she wanted to discuss consent. Jenny had made a big fuss over that as well. Ethan had simply done to him what he'd wanted.

"Buffy. Anything you want. I... What do you desire of me?"

She wanted to put him in bondage. She wanted to whip him, to hurt him, to use all his toys on him. She wanted to take him to bed and give him pleasure. She would ask before she drew blood. Ask before she left permanent marks. Ask before she involved anyone else. Simple things. What he had expected. It had all been done to him before.

I didn't want to waste time on this. They've had their conversation; I nod to modern convention; now we can get on with it. I am definitely more on the side of realism in this story than anywhere else. I want my smut grounded. This isn't a slave fantasy fic where bodies are subjected to absurd things and Stockholm Syndrome is on parade. But realism can be tedious, and realism is not the reason we're reading. Character realism first, physical realism second, narrative drive uber alles.

Giles inclined his head and consented. He was disinclined to deny his Slayer anything she asked for, even when she demanded the right to leave visible marks on him tonight. Giles consented to that with a shaky voice, more from the thought of what she'd do to him than from the idea of others knowing. Then he thought about how long it had been since he'd flaunted the evidence of a lover. He'd required-- requested, rather-- that Jenny not leave any traces that would excite the interest of the students. Or any school personnel. He had no such restrictions on him now.

Tomorrow, when he went out, everyone would know he had a lover.


"Hmm, you like that idea," Buffy said. She had a wicked grin on her face. "I do too. But I have something serious to take care of tonight. I need to punish you for not coming to me first."

"Oh. Yes. Of course," he whispered.

"I'll let you decide part of your punishment. Which of these do you want me to use on you?" She indicated the whips laid out on his coffee table.

Giles opened his mouth, but was unable to speak for a moment. She wanted him to choose. Not just consent to the pain, but choose how it would be given to him. Jenny had never done this to him. Clever. Buffy would not be satisfied with a minor punishment, a wrist-slap. Not if she was the mistress he wished her to be. He thought fast.

"I don't have a cane. That would be traditional. Six of the best. Absent that... The riding crop, please, Buffy. On my back and thighs. Hard enough that I'll be reminded every time I sit down for days."

Okay! Here comes the leather. A little flare of English schoolboy kink, but mostly a solid dose of pain coming up. Readers are now told what to expect before they get there.

"Hard enough to draw blood?"

Giles swallowed. "If, if it pleases you."

She smiled, and this time it was a feral smile. Frightening. "I like your plan. Hard enough so you'll feel it for days. And I'll draw blood with the last stripe. All right?"

Giles consented. His mouth was dry. He'd been in this position before. Jenny had whipped him that much, once. The memory was precious. He hated the suffering while he was in the midst of it, but the rush, the rush would be worth it. The flood of release afterward. He craved it, but could not give himself that sensation. He needed a merciless hand on him. Ethan, Jenny, and now Buffy.

Pain is pain. It hurts. The body then reacts to the pain by releasing all kinds of fun brain chemicals. This sensation can be fun. It's extreme, certainly. Giles is addicted to it.

"Let's begin," Buffy said to him, and stood up. Giles squeezed his eyes shut. He heard her leather jacket hit the floor, then her quiet step behind him.

And I end on another tease.

Continued in commentary part 2, where the intensity rises.
Tags: dvd commentary, series:blackmail

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