Prompt: 49. Heart
Pairing: Giles-Xander friendship, Giles/Buffy, Xander/Anya
Summary: Fish and chips are eaten; Xander makes deductions; Giles follows instructions.
Word count: 3000
Notes: All Blackmail stories, in order. The best way to think about this series is as "kinky sex leavened with a season 4 retelling". D/s themes.
Sunnydale had exactly one "authentic" English pub. It was notable for an inauthentic but eatable fish and chips; dart boards with good darts for hire at the bar; a couple of tables unfortunately built for pool instead of snooker; Bass, Harp, and Newcastle in bottles; and the ubiquitous Guinness on tap. It also had a projection television that ran football broadcasts from satellite and consequently it was crowded at odd hours of the day. During the World Cup it was intolerable. Giles had attended one such broadcast during his early homesickness period, but none since. He preferred a quieter dinner and pint followed by a solitary bit of practice with darts or a pool cue. Rarely, when his life was at its most stressful, he'd take his glass out to the back garden, sit at the sun-bleached picnic tables, and have a quiet smoke.
When he'd first taken Xander to the pub, his most shameful secret had been discovered: he'd taken to drinking a local microbrewery's ale instead of anything imported. Xander had ribbed him mercilessly. Giles had revolted and threatened Xander with going macrobiotic for their next weekly night out. Giles was entirely happy to eat brown rice and tofu, especially if Xander would suffer. He'd yielded in the face of miso and sprouts, and agreed never to mention Giles's penchant for colonial beer again.
Tonight, Xander drank Coca Cola and Giles his usual Razorback Brown Ale, and they both crunched into fried cod slathered in tartar sauce. Giles found his appetite was patchy; his mind was more on how his evening would end than on the food or his companion. He shook himself out of it and let himself enjoy his meal. Each pleasure had its time.
Xander dunked a chip into the mess of ketchup and black pepper he'd made in a corner of his plate, held it up, and contemplated it for a moment before biting off the ketchup-coated end.
"So! Giles. Can't help but notice you're dating again."
"Oh. I mean, er, I am?"
Xander ate the second half of his chip then pointed at his neck. "The hickey suggests neck biting. The lack of puncture marks suggests human not vamp. And finally, the rosy glow of happiness and the utterly goofy grin you'd had on your face all night clinches it. It's a case of the smoochies."
Giles smiled into his pint glass. "Compelling evidence indeed, Holmes."
"You know my methods. Though I also had the evidence of my own ears when we stopped by your place Sunday morning. There was some definite Giles-happies being given."
Giles flushed. Well, he'd asked for that, and it was justice that Xander was teasing him now for that stunt. "Your reasoning is sound. I'm, er, seeing someone new."
"So, who is she? When do I get to meet her?"
"Not just yet."
"Is this a big secret then or what's the deal? 'Cause it's not like I don't know."
Giles arrested his glass on the way back down to the table. Xander's voice had been unusually intent on those last words, almost angry. Not quite. Tense, perhaps. Giles collected himself, but didn't lift his gaze to meet Xander's. He shrugged, very carefully.
"Xan, if it were, were up to me, I'd tell you. But I have been asked, by my, my new partner, to be, ah, discreet. She has, ah, some unfinished business."
Xander shook his head, and Giles was reminded that Xander's relationship with Buffy had been uneasy at times. The tension was there because Xander was feeling protective. Giles was almost touched, but hid it by rummaging for the vinegar.
Xander ate the last of his chips before he answered.
"She should finish up that business. Anya hasn't figured it out yet, and neither has Willow, I'm pretty sure. But they will. And so will other people. Uniformed people, if you catch me. I am not one to throw stones here, because of past history that I'm pretty sure you know all about. This stuff gets out."
"I know. And it's painful when it does. I admit it. But can't be helped at the moment."
Xander cocked his head, then seemed to accept that. He lounged back against the back of the booth, his own glass in hand. "On a completely unrelated topic, where's our friend the Buffster tonight?"
Giles blinked. "I believe she's on a date with Riley."
Xander's face cleared. "Oh. So she'll do it tonight. Okay."
"I doubt it."
"Aren't you-- I mean, what?"
Giles sighed. It would be impossible to explain the dynamics to Xander without explaining the exact nature of his relationship with Buffy, and he had no intention of doing that. He looked at Xander, and shrugged, hoping it would get across what he needed. "She has her reasons. To do with the Slaying."
Giles looked up to see Xander gazing at him. The expression on his face was solemn. It was an odd thing to see on Xander, as foreign to him as anger was. And then it vanished, fleeting as all intense emotion was on that sunny man Xander, and he was snatching a chip from Giles's plate.
"Gonna eat those? Hurry up. I wanna get my ass handed to me on the pool table again."
Giles stabbed at Xander's hand with a fork and glared, because it was expected. Then he handed over the plate and let Xander consume the lot. Time to give his diet an overhaul, now that he was in training again. The jog with Buffy in the morning had been a rude awakening. He'd be on salads for some time, salads and lean meats and water instead of single malt. Perhaps that macrobiotic restaurant would be no idle threat.
Giles split the bill with Xander, then paid for a couple of hours with a set of pool balls. Giles was only middling among his peers at snooker, but found himself a dab hand at the easier game of pool. He enjoyed complaining about the wrong-sized balls, and mocking the Americans who needed to make snooker easier the same way they made rugger easier on themselves. Xander took it all in good part, and cheerfully exploited Giles's skills to improve his own game. He was a menace with darts, though, and Giles had refused to let him touch them after one go.
Xander broke and failed to sink anything. Giles surveyed the table.
"Solids. Three in the side pocket."
He leaned a hand on the side of the table and craned down to take a second look at his rather cocky called shot. Xander's hand grasped his arm, and Giles froze. Xander pushed his sleeve further up. Clearly visible on Giles's wrist were bruises from where Buffy had grasped him so hard last night. Her fingerprints, purple and blue on his arm. Giles flushed, and felt a wave of that familiar shame wash over him. The thought of those bruises had been so arousing to him at the time, but now-- Now they were still exciting. He was surprised to learn it. Proofs of her dominance over him, visible proofs. She'd gripped him and told him he couldn't come, and anyone who looked at him could see it.
Nonetheless he was afraid of what he'd see in Xander's face. He made himself look anyway. Sympathy. Guileless sympathy. It was almost more painful than revulsion would have been.
"Anything you need to tell me?" Xander's voice was careful.
"I'm fine, thanks."
Xander stood steady however, eyebrows still raised. "I've had bruises like that, and I wasn't fine, no matter what I said. You told me so yourself when you gave me the keys to the library."
Giles flushed deeply red, right out to the tips of his ears. "Xander. It's, ah, consensual."
Now it was Xander's turn to flush. "Oh. That kind of bruise. Right."
Xander made a big production with the chalk on the end of his cue. He put too much on then rubbed it off on his sleeve.
"Have done that sorta thing with Anya. And let me tell ya, she likes wearing the handcuffs a lot. So do I. I mean, like it when she wears them. Hated it when I wore 'em. And I totally am not talking about bondage with you."
Giles breathed out a silent laugh. "I'm content to drop the subject if you are."
"Dropping it now. So long as you're okay."
"Yes, yes, thanks. Am I now allowed to get on with it?" Giles gestured to the table.
"Be my guest. Five in the corner?"
"Three in the side." Giles shook out his shoulders to relax himself and shot. He gloomily watched the ball carom off the corner of the pocket.
"Ought to have gone for the five," Xander said, cheerfully. Giles glowered at him. Xander made the shot himself, then muffed his next through sheer over-ambition and over-confidence. Giles settled in and set himself to the task of clearing the table.
"Can't keep my mouth shut."
"And here I was wondering if the sun had risen in the east this morning."
"Snarkmonger. You need to know that if things go smasharooni I'm still your bud. No matter what Buffy does."
"Xander, she's not going to--"
"She might. She's flakey about guys. Don't look at me like that! I am not the Slayer of you, and you can't glare me into shutting up. Okay, you can. Just not about this. You're my friend, Giles. I get to worry about you. This could end in a world of hurt."
Giles sighed and turned back to the table. "Nine in the corner. Bearing in mind that officially I have no idea what you're talking about-- I... yes. But the alternative was... worse."
"Her going on without a Watcher, without training, without help. She's been training with those ruddy soldiers. Watchers have been working with Slayers for millennia, literally millennia, Xander. Building a training program that works with who they truly are. I've spent my entire life learning how to keep a Slayer alive and effective. Without me, she--"
"You can be her Watcher without going to bed with her."
Giles shook his head. She'd awakened in time. Sexual jealousy, he suspected, the same emotion that had sent her spinning away from him when she'd walked in on his morning with Olivia. This time it had moved her, finally, to lay claim to him. He stretched out over the table and made a bank shot. The cue was in good shape for his next shot. This was the aspect of the game that gave Xander the most fits: the planning. Not that snooker was chess. Giles could play it with only half his mind on it. He moved around to line up the next shot.
He said, "Fourteen. It was her requirement. An exchange. She wanted this in exchange for my service as her Watcher. We both wanted it, truthfully."
Xander made a thoughtful noise. "Does this happen a lot? I mean, Watchers and Slayers getting their nookie on."
"Better to ask how many have not. It's discouraged nowadays, but in earlier times it was, ah. Simply expected. The inevitable result of the pair being so isolated from everyone else, from ordinary lives. Hunting demons until their deaths. Twelve."
Giles muffed a perfectly easy straight shot. "It's an intense partnership. Or it was."
"And you're old-fashioned." Xander was silent. "Well. That's why we like you. Hey, look! You didn't beat me without me getting a shot this time."
Xander went to work on the table and demonstrated how far he'd come since their first evening playing together. But that was Xander: a workman's competence. He'd never be flash, never strut, but Giles trusted him. He rested his cue on his foot and watched. Buffy had chosen her friends well.
Xander revisited the topic one last time, as Giles pulled the car up to the curb in front of his parents' house.
"I think once I would have hated you. You know. For having what I couldn't."
Xander grinned. "I've got Anya. We make each other happy, and she wears the handcuffs. See ya next week, if not before."
He slammed the passenger door and rapped a goodbye on the window. Giles watched him disappear around the back of his house, then drove himself home. Home where, he would enact in the dark proof of his devotion to his Slayer. Xander wouldn't have wanted what Buffy wanted: Buffy wanted her men in the handcuffs, to be the ones with the bruises.
And yes, the thought was unbearably exciting. Marks. Secrets under his clothing.
His excitement heightened further when his front door clicked shut behind him. Home, alone, with Buffy's instructions in his mind. He left the door unlocked, as always, in fear and hope, and got himself ready for bed, but not for rest.
No pajamas. He'd laundered them and put them away in the bottom drawer. He only ever slept nude when he had company in his bed, a warm body next to him. California nights were surprisingly chilly, even in summer, here on the Pacific. But she required him to sleep nude, and obeying her in this was easy. It was strangely erotic to be in his bedroom alone and nude, thinking about what he would be doing in the next minutes. He leaned his bare chest against a post at the foot of the bed and stroked his hands over it. He reached up and touched on of the rings embedded high up, imagined himself bound to it, stretched on his toes, waiting. He could ask for that this weekend if he wanted, if he did as she required now.
Self-indulgence, then self-denial.
He loved to be told when he could come and when he could not. This was no secret. Every one of his lovers had discovered this about him, even the more conventional ones. Jenny had been the most implacable about it, had gone so far as to train him to improve his control, but even she had never told him he couldn't masturbate. He'd rarely wanted to with her, though. She'd kept him busy just as Buffy did, worn out. He wouldn't even consider touching himself tonight without Buffy's instructions to do so.
How would he approach this? He could use a cock ring. It would slow him down, give him better control. But he thought she might not approve of artificial aids. This was a test of his self-control and his obedience. So Giles knelt on his bed, facing the headboard, and spread his thighs wide. He sometimes masturbated this way, fantasizing that he was on his knees to someone, sometimes women he'd known, sometimes Ethan, more rarely one of his other male lovers. Even more rarely, he would imagine himself dominating one of those lovers, imagine himself wielding the whip instead of writhing under it, though he'd never done so outside of fantasy.
Tonight there was only one lover in his mind: Buffy. Buffy in boots and jeans and that red tank top, nipples erect beneath it, and a riding crop in her hand. She'd begin by striping his backside. Bent over his desk, yes, cheek pressed flat against a book he'd left there, trousers down around his ankles. She'd bring him to tears then kiss him, ask him if he needed more, and he'd beg for more, more, please and she wouldn't spare him, she'd give him what he needed. His bold Slayer.
Where was she tonight? Was she with her soldier boy now? Was he making her come? Something in Giles snarled at the thought. If she was to take pleasure from someone else, he wanted it to be someone he could respect, someone worthy of her. But who was worthy of his Buffy? Who would he want to watch her with?
For a wild moment he imagined himself caught between Ethan and Buffy, suffering for both as they struggled with each other for the right to his attention, to out-do each other. Ethan behind him, Buffy before him, his whole body on fire-- He hadn't known this fantasy had been lurking inside him. It alarmed him, and he turned his mind away from it to memory instead. To Buffy seated on his bed, thighs spread for him, the scent of her arousal and how it had tasted, the burn across his thighs, how hard he'd been. Her moans as he teased her, breaking into cries as he built her up and up toward climax. Her body shuddering around his fingers, shuddering around his cock when she rode him the first time, when she fucked him. Would he ask her to do that again on Saturday? Yes: bind him and straddle him and make him come when he was bound tight, come when he had something to fight against. At her command.
Giles was seeing himself spend now, on her belly, in her mouth, against the headboard. His body shifted and his breathing changed. His hand wanted to move hard and sure on himself, and his hips thrust forward.
He flung himself onto his side, hands curled up against his chest. He gripped one with the other to help himself resist the temptation to touch himself again, to finish it. So close. Too close. He rolled onto his back and breathed, told himself to think about anything else. Sharpening stakes in the library, Xander asleep on the study table. Shelving books. Weeding the card catalog. He'd done as she asked, and God, how he wanted her. He imagined her somewhere across the town, in bed with solid Riley, groaning in pleasure even as he did without.
Giles fell asleep sprawled on his back across the blankets, his right hand wrapped around his left wrist.
Continued in "Telemetry".