Wesleysgirl and Jane Davitt

Part Nine

Spike slept better than he had any night since he'd come back human; one second he was closing his eyes, aware of his own breathing, and the next he was waking up, light filtering in through the crack in the window shade. He was too warm, his muscles heavy and stiff with sleep, sweat beaded up on the back of his neck where he could feel Xander's hot exhalations. His own arm was wrapped around Giles' waist, the man's arse cradled in the curve of Spike's pelvis, the three of them neatly spooned together with Spike in the middle.

He wasn't sure whether he should be comforted or disturbed.

Then Xander stirred behind him, the big hand resting on Spike's thigh moving slightly, and Spike felt a wet tongue lick the spot just behind his ear.

The shiver he gave meant that the lick was followed by a soft chuckle and then a kiss that was more of a nuzzle than anything else, with Xander's mouth fitting perfectly into a hollow on Spike's shoulder. Spike was still too drowsy to respond meaningfully -- and too tightly sandwiched to even think about moving -- but he made an encouraging, approving murmur and felt Xander's lips curve in a smile.

They weren't the only things waking up, either. Spike's cock was stirring to life just from the memories of the night before and the promise of more implicit in that warm kiss, and there was something pressed against his backside that told him Xander was in a similar state.

Unthinkingly, his arm tightened around Giles, and then he relaxed and let his hand drift down, fingers crooked so that he was dragging the tips of his fingers, no more, across Giles' stomach.

Giles gave a small, protesting grumble that died away as Spike's light, questing touch brushed over his cock, rousing it within moments.

With his eyes closed, Spike slid his fingers lower, running them over Giles' balls, feeling the skin there tighten as Giles' erection grew. Giles made another sound, softer this time, and pushed his arse back, rubbing it against Spike's cock. Spike groaned and nipped gently at the thin skin over Giles' shoulder blade.

Xander shifted behind him, pressing closer, hard cock sliding damply between Spike's thighs, the head of it bumping Spike's balls and driving a sudden, unexpectedly breathless sob from him. Xander's hand settled on the bonier part of Spike's hip, steadying him, hot mouth exploring Spike's neck.

The warmth of the bodies surrounding him and the soft exhalations that greeted each slow, languid shift of skin on skin were almost enough to lull Spike back to sleep, or allow him to pretend that this was a dream. Almost. Even with his eyes closed, the arousal he felt was too insistent not to be real, even muted as it was by his drowsiness.

Relaxing and refusing to think beyond the moment, or give any thought at all to what had been decided the night before, Spike stroked his fingers along Giles' shaft, barely touching it, teasingly light touches that had Giles' hips pushing forward, mutely begging for more. With a small space between them now, Spike was able to rub his cock gently against the cleft of Giles' arse, the friction enough to have him groaning softly against Giles' back.

He was discovering that one consequence of being in the middle was that anything he did to Giles affected Xander as well; as Spike thrust up slowly along Giles' warm skin, his thighs rubbed against Xander's cock, trapped between them, drawing a moan from Xander.

Spike could feel the imprint of each of Xander's fingers on his hip, Xander's rocking motions growing somehow more intense and needy even though he wasn't moving any faster. Giles' cock was hard beneath Spike's teasing fingertips, and suddenly Giles squirmed in Spike's arms, turning around until their cocks fit side by side and kissing him slowly.

Reaching a hand over Spike's waist, Giles did something -- grabbed onto Xander's ass, maybe -- that made Xander gasp in Spike's ear. "God," Xander whispered, his voice hoarse. "Spike..."

The slide of Xander's cock, slick between Spike's thighs and rubbing his balls with each slow forward push, would have been enough to make Spike beg if he'd been fully awake. Instead, he made a sound suspiciously like a whimper and clung to Giles, accepting the lingering kisses and occasional delve of Giles' tongue into his mouth. He couldn't stay still, had to keep wriggling against Giles and back against Xander.

Giles' kisses were becoming more urgent, although, like Spike and Xander, he seemed content to remain in the half-drowsy state Spike was in, with an arousal unaccompanied by impatience. Spike's cock was hard and there was a pleasant ache of need sending tingles through his body, but he didn't want to rush. This was perfect. He felt safe. Not a feeling he was used to, not something he'd known he wanted, even, but now that he had it -

With a reluctant sigh, Giles broke the kiss and Spike finally opened his eyes, staring at Giles' face, so close that all he really saw were Giles' eyes, half-closed, sleepy and gleaming at him.

Giles rolled Spike gently to his back and leaned over him to kiss Xander, their lips meeting and their eyes sliding closed again. Spike lay beneath them, enjoying the view as the pair of them were definitely playing to their audience, pulling back so that Spike could see their tongues licking and teasing each other, watch the open-mouthed, increasingly fervent kisses...

Reaching out, Spike slid his hands down and wrapped his fingers around Giles and Xander's cocks, smiling as they turned their heads to look at him, their expressions an identical mixture of surprise and pleasure. Xander bit down on his lip as Spike tightened the circle of his left hand and slid it slowly along Xander's cock, repeating the action with his right hand until he saw Giles' eyes close and his jaw tighten.

"Don't stop," Spike said, the words emerging in a murmur as if he'd forgotten how to talk. "And I won't."

Xander's thigh settled over Spike's, then the two of them were kissing again, open-mouthed, putting on a real show for Spike. The sound of their slow, slick kisses made Spike harder as he stroked their cocks with a firm grip, paying attention to each little gasp and twitch.

He felt Giles' hand on his inner thigh, sliding up, and couldn't be bothered to stop him. He considered it for a minute, though. But he wanted to be touched, wanted to feel Giles' fingers wrap around him -- oh fuck yes, like that.

He managed to keep jerking them off for about three seconds, and then Xander's hand came to cup at Spike's balls and Spike lost all semblance of rhythm, pausing, his hands locked tight around their cocks as they worked together to bring him close to spilling.

"Don't stop," Giles said, his lips a bare inch away from Xander's, giving Spike a sidelong, wickedly-amused glance.

"Making it hard to concentrate," Spike said hoarsely as Giles rubbed his thumb across the top of Spike's cock, slippery and exposed. "Oh, fuck, do that again!"

"Perhaps you need a helping hand," Giles said, so solemnly that it took Spike a moment to get that he was joking. Which made him wonder how often Giles hadn't been serious and he'd thought he was... but like this it was easy to pick up on the subtleties of expression and voice, really easy.

Giles kicked back the sheets that were still just about covering them, although by now they were half-way down the bed, and stared down at the tangle of hands. "Let go of me, please, Spike," he said. Regretfully, and with one final pump of his hand, Spike released Giles' cock.

With a quirk of his lips, Giles moved Xander's hand away from Spike's balls and brought it to his own cock, shuddering slightly as Xander's hand closed enthusiastically around it. "God, Xander," he said.

"Sorry," Xander murmured.

"Don't be," Giles said, which was all it took to bring a grin to Xander's face. Giles bent his head and kissed Spike again. "Is that better?"

Spike's hand on Xander, Xander taking care of Giles, Giles seeing to Spike... oh, yeah, that was just fine with him. He nodded and turned his head for his first kiss of the morning from Xander, who made the most of it, leaving Spike trying to catch his breath, tingles chasing and racing over him.

Spike chuckled softly against Xander's lips.

"What?" Xander asked, nipping at Spike's ear.

"Nice way to wake up, is all." Spike's breath caught as Giles' talented hand worked him expertly, the muscles in his calves and thighs tightening. They were all slow, languid, the scent of male sweat and arousal heavy in the air as they moved together. Xander's cock fit into Spike's hand perfectly, large and hard and eager, a young man's cock. Spike remembered how it had felt the night before, having that thick shaft inside him, and he groaned, shuddering on the edge of release.

Giles murmured, "No, not yet." It was quiet, but the authority was unquestionable. Giles' hand moved down to the base of Spike's cock and squeezed.

"Not yet," Xander agreed, although his cock was wet-tipped and slippery in Spike's grip. "God, just a... little bit longer."

Spike's head was moving restlessly against the pillow, and he wasn't sure how much longer he could hold out, but he was definitely in favor of making this last. They were exchanging glances now, intimate and searching, watching each other react to what was being done to them, their faces close enough to Spike's that he would only have had to crane his neck a little to be able to kiss them. But he didn't need to do even that. As they drew out the inevitable, slowing down the slide of their hands so that Spike was pretty much fucking Giles' hand rather than the other way around, tilting his hips up with increasing desperation, Giles and Xander both took turns kissing him and each other, distracting Spike -- a little -- from the sensations building up in him as his balls tightened and his cock stiffened. He was lost in the feel of them both; warm, strong bodies pressed close, and the very specific feel of Xander's cock against his palm and fingers as he learned what made Xander moan and shift even closer.

"Need to come," he said finally, staring up at Xander, turning to him instinctively for support, the words tumbling out of him. He closed his eyes, feeling a brief stab of shame that out of all of them he was the one with the least control, but he couldn't help it. He groaned, his hips jerking involuntarily, craving a hard, fast finish to this. "Fuck, please -"

Begging them came way too easy, he thought, opening his eyes and hoping they'd see that he was serious.

"We've got you," Giles said, the deep, authoritative rumble of his voice reassuring and exhilarating in one. "Xander..."

And Xander's mouth came down hard on Spike's, the kiss eager and desperate, their skin flushed and Spike's chest heaving as Giles' hand on his cock squeezed and pumped faster as if Giles had been jerking Spike off all his life. That thought startled a laugh out of Spike, and he came, crying out, shuddering in the arms of two men he'd never have imagined feeling this close to as the pleasure wracked through him.


Alone had never been Spike's favorite state, but he'd had time to get used it, and with the translation to work on it took him a while to notice how quiet the house was without the two of them there. Pushing the papers aside, he stood up and snagged a can of soda from the fridge, sipping it as he stared out at the garden.

Nice day. Should make the most of it, he supposed.

Stepping out into the garden and all that sunshine still took a small effort of will, but every time he did, the urge to stick his hand out first, like a child testing the heat of the bathwater, lessened.

Not sure he'd ever feel the need to tan, though. And it really wouldn't go with the hair.

He finished the soda in the garden, along with two cigarettes, and still didn't feel anywhere near understanding what the hell was going on here. Half of him thought that this was some elaborate joke, with the punch line being some variant on the usual 'get out, Spike, we don't want you' riff, but the buildup went far beyond the payoff.

Giles. Xander. Giles and Xander. Holding him, kissing him, fucking him until he was a gasping, shuddering wreck in their arms.


Grinding out his cigarette on the stone path that led through the postage-stamp sized garden, bright with flowers, but in need of weeding, Spike stalked back in, crumpling the thin metal of the can in his fist.

He didn't know how to deal with this. Hostility and anger -- they were easy. You lashed out, you hurt back. He was good at that. He'd scored point after point with Xander those first few days; drawn blood with a dozen sly jabs. That, he could do.

But accept friendship, trust that he was cared for -- no.

And they'd left him here. Giles had gone to his office, Xander to his shop, promising to come back if he felt at all tired... and they'd left him free to rummage through their stuff, dig out all their secrets, prowl and poke around -

Even knowing that he hadn't opened more than the fridge door didn't make Spike feel less like an intruder. He didn't belong here in this tidy, normal little house with this -- well. You couldn't really call them a normal pair. Not when you knew them the way he did. Not when you knew how Xander had lost his eye -- and what put that dangerous glint in Giles' from time to time. No. They weren't your average people and it showed. Xander might not have realized just how scary he looked when he faced down that Robbie git in the pub, and it seemed to have escaped his notice that Spike wasn't the only one shorter and lighter than the muscle-bound lunk. Spike hadn't missed it, though. Robbie had just taken one whiff of the confidence Xander slapped on like aftershave and caved before the punch.

Still didn't mean he belonged with them, even if they were all freaks -- or heroes -- together.

The key in the lock jarred him out of an introspection that was verging on depression and he went to the hall to see who'd come back early.

"Xander?" Before he knew what he was doing, Spike was checking Xander out for signs of illness. Fuck. Knew they shouldn't have let him go back to that bloody shop this soon, breathing in sawdust and fumes... "You not feeling so good, mate?"

"I'm fine," Xander said, shrugging out of his jacket and hanging it up. "Just figured I should, you know, take it easy. First day back and all. I kind of learned my lesson on that one the last time around."

"Yeah?" Spike said.

Kicking off his shoes, Xander said, "Yeah. Did a whole day and ended up needing to stay home the next one because I could barely get out of bed." Spike could picture that, Xander too weak to get up. Seen it himself, hadn't he.

"Maybe you should get off your feet," Spike said.

"I could if you'd move out of the hallway and let me by," Xander said mildly, and Spike felt himself flush.

"Right," he muttered, stepping up onto the stairs to make room. "Sorry."

"It's okay," Xander said. "I was thinking about heating up that leftover pizza from the other night. You want some?"

"What? Oh, sure. I'll do it," Spike offered. "You go and sit down." He thought about the mess he'd left on the kitchen table. "Think Giles would mind if we ate it in the front room? I'm kind of in the middle of something right now and the table's covered in paperwork."

"He's been known to eat in there himself from time to time," Xander said. "That weird yellow splodge on the carpet? Giles, a chicken curry and me -- ah...well, let's just say he wasn't expecting me to walk in wearing nothing but a towel, and then lose the towel when I bent over to pick something up."

Spike couldn't help grinning as he pictured that. "I take it this was before you two were an item?"

"God, yes." Xander gave Spike a stern look. "And no, I didn't do it on purpose."

Spike stared at him, still grinning, and waited.

"Maybe just a little bit," Xander said. "But I'll deny it to my dying day."

"Giles isn't daft," Spike said. "Probably figured it out, you know."

Xander shook his head. "Even so. Towel slipped. End of story." He walked into the front room and sat down a little heavily. "Feed me?" he said plaintively.

"Re-warmed pizza coming up," Spike answered. "Extra gooey."

"Amateur," Xander said. "It's impossible to make leftover pizza extra gooey."

Spike thought Xander's voice sounded just a little bit strained, though, and he quickly got the pizza on a pan and into the oven, then grabbed a glass and filled it with water. Returning to the front room, he found Xander slumped on the couch with his feet up on the table, holding the remote control. "Here," he said, handing Xander the water.

"Thanks." Xander set the remote down unused and sipped at the water. "I'm fine," he said.

"Sure," Spike said.

"No, really. I am."

"Don't look it," Spike retorted, although this close the only visible sign of illness was that Xander looked a little pale. "And the only way you get to move off that sofa is if you decide you need to go to bed and get some sleep." Xander opened his mouth and Spike glared at him, anticipating a protest. "Don't even think about arguing with me." He folded his arms across his chest. "Or I'll call Giles."

That shut Xander up pretty effectively. He drank half his glass of water before setting it down and saying, "I'm just a little bit tired, okay? I came home. What more do you want?"

Taken aback by the question, Spike sat down on the edge of the couch. "Came on a bit strong, didn't I?" he asked ruefully. "Sorry. Just worried about you."

Because he always worried about people he cared about, even if they numbered less than the cigarettes left in his packet of smokes. He'd been looking out for the assorted Scoobies for years now, it seemed, but this was different. With a small amount of resignation mixed in with a surprising warmth, he accepted that Xander and Giles had just joined the list of people he'd consider worth dying for.

Even if this time around he didn't think he'd be coming back.

Xander was looking at him.

"What?" Spike said.

"Nothing," Xander said. "I guess I'm just trying to figure out what's going on in your head."

Spike shrugged. "Not much."

"Looks like there's plenty," Xander said. "But worrying about me doesn't have to be included in it. I'm here, I'm resting and really, I'm -"

"Fine. Yeah. Got that," Spike said. "I'll go and see if I've managed to burn the pizza, shall I?"

Xander rolled his eyes. "Tell me you didn't set the oven to high?"

"Well -" Spike sniffed the slightly smoky air and decided not to waste time defending his cooking ability in the face of the evidence to the contrary.

The pizza turned out to be on the crispy side, but still edible, and Spike carried it on two plates into the front room, setting them down on the coffee table and producing two pieces of paper towel with a flourish. "Napkins."

"Five star service," Xander said admiringly. He leaned over and gave Spike's cheek a quick kiss before stuffing most of a slice of pizza into his mouth. "Thanks," he mumbled through his mouthful of food, settling back and looking about as content as it was possible to be.

Spike watched Xander eat while chewing thoughtfully at his own pizza. He still wasn't convinced that Xander was fine, but it was simple enough to bully him into taking it easy for the rest of the day if it came down to it.

"Stop it," Xander said wearily, leaning his head back against the couch.

"No," Spike said, swallowing. "M'not gonna pretend I don't care when you're sick. If you don't like it, too bad."

Xander blinked at him. "Do you?"

"Do I what?" Spike asked.

"Care about me?"

"Yes," Spike said without thinking about it. "Both of you." He gave his words a moment's consideration as they hung in the air, and then nodded. "Yeah. I care. Nothing new about that, is there?" Xander looked uncertain enough to make Spike feel hurt. "Been saving your arse on patrol for years, Xander, and we weren't even fucking then."

"I thought that was because you felt guilty about Buffy," Xander said, not cruelly, but to Spike it felt like a punch in the gut.

"Lots of misconceptions there, weren't there," Spike said, getting up. He remembered finding out that Red and Xander had been planning to bring Buffy back, but hadn't told him, and he didn't like remembering.

Xander stood up, too. "I didn't mean it like that and you know it. What, we're not allowed to mention her name all of a sudden?"

"Sit down," Spike said. "And no. Mention her all you like. Just don't make out that everything's simple. Wasn't then and it isn't now." He ran his hand over his hair and shook his head. "Especially now." The unreality of it all came crashing down on him, and he stared at Xander helplessly. "What the hell are we doing?" he asked. "You -- him -- Christ, this is insane. You can't want me. You never did before; you just made that really plain."

"I... what? Wait." Xander looked confused. And pale. Important not to leave that part out; important not to forget it. Spike gestured at the couch sternly and Xander sat. "What do you mean, I can't want you?"

"Why do you?" Spike countered. "You've got Giles." And he couldn't let himself think about how lucky Xander was -- how lucky both of them were, until he'd come along and wrecked everything. "And you nearly lost him and it was all my fault," he said, sitting down again because he didn't want Xander to have to crane his neck. "And you expect me to believe that's the time you pick to start fancying me? Doesn't make sense."

"I'm not going to deny that I was a little bit worried for a day or so there, but... me and Giles, that's not something that's going to just end. Not even over you." Xander was watching him earnestly. "And we both wanted you. Want you. We don't..." Suddenly, Xander looked concerned. "You know last night wasn't just a one time thing, right?"

Spike stared down at his knees, rubbing his thumb slowly over denim still too new to be comfortable. "Could be," he said finally. "Wouldn't blame you both." He sighed and lifted his head, meeting Xander's anxious eyes, all dark and wide and vulnerable -- oh fuck that wasn't playing fair -- "Okay, that's a total sodding lie. I'd scream and swear and kick things. Not you," he added hastily. "But -- yeah, I'd mind. But I wouldn't -- I wouldn't be surprised, you know? So if Giles and you have spent the morning talking behind my -- about me, and you've got something to say, then spit it out, will you?"

Xander reached over and put his hand over Spike's on his knee, big and warm. "Pretty much the only conclusions we've come to at this point are that we both want this -- with you -- and that we're not ready for it to be anything but the three of us together. Everything else is still..." He squeezed Spike's hand. "It's not like we were looking for this, you know? But all of a sudden, there you were."

"Yeah," Spike said. "Turning up out of the blue." He risked a small smile through stiff lips. "Didn't plan this, you know. It just happened, and I -" He opted for honesty, because it was no more than Xander deserved. "I didn't want it to stop. You both being nice to me, you both -" He shook his head, holding onto Xander's hand and trying not to grip it too hard. "Going to take a while to get used to it. Being wanted."

And could I sound any more pathetic? he thought savagely, waiting, cringing, for Xander to come out with one of his trademark flip comments by way of reply.

Instead, all Xander did was say, "C'mere," and pull on his hand. Spike went along a bit more willingly than he might have wanted to admit, letting Xander tow him into a comfortable embrace, settled with his back to Xander's chest. "It's okay that this is kind of weird," Xander said. "We'll figure it out. It makes sense that it wouldn't be easy right from the beginning, you know?"

Spike found himself chuckling. "I'd be worried if it was. For you two, anyway. Me, I'm used to sharing -" He broke off, not wanting to think about Drusilla and Angel. Not now. Different life, different Spike. Before Xander could answer, Spike turned just enough to be able to kiss Xander, an awkward, clumsy kiss because of the angle and because he still couldn't get over that tiny thrill of shock at what he was doing.

Kissing Xander. Broad daylight. No magic, no spells, no guilt, no secrets. Just Xander, warm and strong and kissing him back, until the rough edges smoothed out and the kiss gentled into a final brush of Xander's lips against Spike's forehead as they settled back again.

Spike looked down at their linked hands, resting on his chest and relaxed, a smile spreading across his face. "Tell me if your arm goes numb or something," he said lightly, knowing that it'd take more discomfort than that to get him to move, but not wanting Xander to be at all uncomfortable.

"You don't weigh that much," Xander said, sounding amused. Spike could feel each rise and fall of Xander's chest along with his own, and he stroked the edge of his thumb along Xander's slowly until, to his surprise, Xander's hand went gradually limp in his as Xander fell asleep.

Spike didn't want to wake him, but after a little while he eased away a bit and turned, studying Xander's peaceful, sleeping face. Any small lines of tension were gone, dark eyelashes resting against his cheeks, his hair slightly mussed. Looked good like that, Spike thought. Everything about Xander looked good to him, and he was happy to sit there and watch him as long as he could.

After a while, when Xander had stirred just long enough to snuggle down even deeper into the cushions without opening his eyes, Spike stood up reluctantly and went back to the kitchen to carry on working at the translation.

He didn't get a lot done, because he kept coming to the door to check on Xander, but he'd made some progress when he heard the slide of Giles' key in the front door. In the silence of the house it was loud enough to make Spike jump, and he hurried into the hall to stop Giles from calling out a greeting and waking Xander.

Giles came through the door, saw Spike, and smiled, and then blinked in astonishment as Spike rushed towards him to stop the front door from being shut with a slam.

"What's the matter?" Giles said, lowering his voice in response to Spike's frantic shushing.

"Xander's asleep on the couch," Spike told him in a whisper. "Came home at lunchtime, had some food and dozed off."

"Is he feeling ill?" Giles asked, a frown beginning to crease his forehead. "You should have called -"

"No," Spike said hastily, wanting to reassure him. "Don't think so. Just tired, I'd say. He didn't feel hot or anything." Something he thought he saw in Giles' expression made him add, "When I say he didn't feel hot -- I don't mean I touched -- we didn't -"

Giles' hand came up to pat his shoulder, and Spike stopped talking. "If he's been sleeping this long, he'll wake soon, I'd imagine, and be all the better for it." Giles moved in closer and gave Spike a kiss that was probably supposed to be casual, but ended up lasting a second too long for that, and then said, with a smile, "Hello, Spike. How was your day?"

As if Giles had thrown a switch, Spike relaxed. He even leaned in against Giles and kissed him again, letting Giles' body partially support his own. Maybe the hours of being alone in the house while Xander slept had got to him more than he'd realized, because he didn't feel embarrassed about his need for the physical comfort. "It was okay," he said. "How was yours?"

"Fine." Giles shrugged out of his jacket without really moving away and dropped it onto the floor, which was okay with Spike since it meant they could stay where they were. "You're sure he's all right?"

"I think so."

"You've been worrying about him." It wasn't a question. Giles gave Spike a slightly mischievous look. "Has he been snapping at you to leave him alone?"

Spike nodded, realizing that Giles was just as concerned as he was and that Xander didn't stand a chance of overdoing it with both of them there to look out for him. That made him relax even more.

"He does that with me," Giles confided, slipping both his arms around Spike. "I tend to ignore him for the most part, but I suppose if he's going to have both of us fussing over him, he might have cause for complaint." Giles grinned, running his hand over Spike's back and stopping just short of his ass. Even through his T-shirt the teasingly light touch was enough to make Spike press a little closer to him. "Perhaps we can take alternate days?"

"Or even hours," Spike agreed.

There was a muffled sound from the living room, and Spike pulled away from Giles and backtracked to the doorway with Giles following. Xander had turned onto his side on the couch and was resettling himself into a more comfortable position, blinking sleepily at them. "What time is it?" he asked.

"Just after five," Giles replied, crossing the room slowly, Spike noticed, and studying Xander the whole way. He must've been happy with what he saw, because he sat down on the couch and leaned over to kiss Xander by way of hello, without asking how he was.

Xander struggled up to sitting and gave Giles a hug, resting his head against Giles' shoulder much as Spike had. He lifted his head after a moment, gave Giles a smile and another kiss, and then settled back against the couch, his hand linked with Giles', and looked over at Spike.

"You going to come here so I can say sorry for falling asleep on you? Or under you?"

Spike walked over to them, feeling slightly awkward, partly because they were both watching him, partly because of Xander's words, although Giles didn't look at all bothered. He sat down next to Xander, perching on the edge of the couch, and gave him a quick smile. "Nothing to be sorry for. Glad you got some rest."

"Well, yeah, but there could have been, you know, conversation or something," Xander said. He did look better, and he leaned forward and patted Spike's thigh. "So, someone's going to cook dinner for me, right?" he asked hopefully.

Spike looked at Giles.

"You can't keep burning things to get out of cooking forever, you know," Giles warned him.

Spike gasped with pretended hurt. "Not doing it on purpose," he said, which was mostly true. Tilting his head, he gave Giles a speculative look. "But as excuses go, it's good for a few more months, right?"

Xander and Giles shook their head in unison.

"Weeks?" Spike hazarded.

"I'll cook tonight," Giles said sounding firm, "and after that we're taking turns."

"Fine," Spike grumbled. Better to drop the subject, he thought, than get into too much detail about why he was so reluctant to participate in the kitchen, because he really didn't want to talk about it. Giles hadn't said anything to Xander about the incident in Spike's presence, but he didn't have any reason to think the two of them hadn't talked about it in private. He didn't want to think about how that conversation had gone.

He didn't like to think about them talking about him when he wasn't there at all, really.

Giles reached over and took Spike's hand, turning it so that the faint, red line of the cut from the knife was visible and then covering it with his own hand. "I'll help you," he said reassuringly. "And if you both promise to do the dishes afterwards, I might even have a go at Sunday lunch this weekend and introduce you to the wonder that is a Yorkshire Pudding, Xander," he added, giving Spike's hand a gentle squeeze before releasing it.

Undone by the fact that Giles had not only understood exactly what was going through Spike's head, but had reassured him about it without actually saying anything, Spike stood up, brushing his hands against his jeans. "Gonna go straighten up my stuff," he said gruffly, turning and heading for the kitchen where he'd left his papers strewn across the table.

He could hear Xander and Giles talking as he neatened everything into a pile, the sound of their voices familiar enough that this place was beginning to feel like home.

Spike wasn't sure how he felt about that.


Giles glanced over at the clock on the mantelpiece and wondered lazily how much longer he had before the peace of the house was disturbed by the return of a -- probably -- slightly drunken pair, eager to tell him in detail about everything he'd missed by not joining them at the White Horse for a Battle of the Bands evening.

It wasn't that he hadn't wanted to be with them, of course, but there were limits to what he'd endure in the name of entertainment, and overly-cold lager and conversations that consisted of 'What? Can't hear you!' went beyond them. Well beyond.

Besides, having the house to himself was rather nice, if only because it brought home just how much he missed them.

Sipping happily at his whiskey, he turned a page of his book and let his thoughts wander ahead to what the pair of them would do to console him for what they'd consider a lonely, dull evening of solitude. The insistent, sudden ring of the telephone came far enough into his fantasies to have him stammering as he answered it, feeling as flustered as if the caller had walked in to find him lying there on the couch, his hand absently stroking his hardening cock through his pants.

"Yes? H-Hello? This is Rupert Giles." Work, he thought, feeling a mixture of irritation and alarm. It was almost eleven, and it would have to be a real emergency for them to call him this late.

The voice on the other end of the line was instantly and disturbingly familiar, although it took several seconds for Giles' brain to catch up to his body's immediate reaction. "Hey, Giles. It's Angel."

Part Ten

Giles felt his fingers ache as they gripped the phone. Fingers Angel had broken once. "Angel. Yes, of course." He did a quick calculation, staving off the moment when he'd have to ask Angel what he wanted. "It's seven in the morning there; are you up late or rising early?"

Angel's voice when he replied was, Giles thought, just a little bit off, although he wasn't certain he knew why. "Um... up late, I guess. I've been up all night. Listen... is Spike there?"

Leaning back against the wall in the hall and wishing that this particular phone was cordless as his glass was out of reach, Giles said simply, "No," and waited for more.

Spike's account of what had happened might well have been colored by his history with Angel, but even so it had left Giles with his dislike of Angel strengthened still further. Not that he didn't appreciate the good that he'd done, not that he blamed him for Angelus' deeds -- on one level at least -- but the fact remained that they'd never been close and never would be.

"Figures," Angel muttered, and Giles thought he heard the sound of something being swallowed. "So, when'd you kick him out? Assuming he ever actually showed up there in the first place, but I'm thinking he didn't have anywhere else to go."

"You thought that and still sent him away?" Giles asked, keeping his voice even with an effort.

"I bought him a plane ticket," Angel said, with what might have been a hint of defensiveness. "I couldn't take it anymore; not the whining, and not the deliberate attempts to piss me off. You'd think he'd have toned it down once he realized that I could rip him in two now that he wasn't a vampire anymore, but no. Same old Spike." Another swallow, and what sounded like the click of ice against glass. "But why am I telling you? You already know, if you kicked him out, too."

"You misunderstood me," Giles said coldly, feeling anger stir to life. Fucking bully. "Spike isn't here in the house at the moment, although I expect him back shortly, but we certainly haven't kicked him out into a world he's still adapting to, with remarkable success I might add." Feeling vindictive, he added, "Humanity suits him, don't you think?"

There was a brief pause, then Angel said, "Having him out of my hair suits me."

Giles heard a key in the front door lock, then the sound of the door opening; Spike and Xander coming back from the pub, talking about something in the good-natured, half-argument sort of way they had.

"What do you want?" Giles said, dropping the games as he'd just run out of time. Xander and Spike came through the door, still squabbling, saw he was on the phone and went quiet, smiling at him and mouthing a greeting. They were both too used to Giles getting calls in and out of season to look surprised at finding him on the phone this late.

"I want to talk to him," Angel said just as directly, and Giles cursed the vampire's superior hearing when he added, "Is that him? Put him on the phone."

"About what exactly?" Giles said, trying to keep his face expressionless as Spike and Xander moved around the hall, kicking off their shoes and hanging up their coats, making very little noise and giving him no reason at all to ask that they leave him alone.

He knew that he was overstepping his bounds in trying to block Angel from speaking to Spike, but he felt no guilt at all. His feelings for Spike wouldn't allow him to do anything but protect him, and somehow he felt sure Angel wasn't calling out of any concern for Spike's well-being.

"What, are you screening his calls?" Angel sounded annoyed. "Just put him on."

"I'll ask him if he wants to talk to you," Giles said as neutrally as possible, making it quite clear, he hoped, that if Spike didn't, Angel would be listening to the click of the phone being hung up.

He turned to Spike, who was looking at him warily as if he'd picked up on the tension. "It's Angel," he said, not bothering to lower his voice. "He won't say why, but he wants to talk to you. It's up to you. You don't have to, of course."

Xander moved over to stand by Spike, his face losing the happiness it had held a few moments earlier. Spike gave him a quick glance and reached out to touch Xander's arm briefly. "It's okay, love," he said quietly. He held out his hand for the phone, taking it from Giles' reluctant hand with a nod of thanks, their fingers brushing.

"It's me. What do you want?"

The line of Spike's shoulders spoke more clearly than the tone of his voice of his suspicion, but his words, like Giles' had been, were neutral. "Yeah. Yeah." He kept his gaze lowered and moved down the hall a little, away from both Giles and Xander. It didn't seem that he wanted complete privacy -- he could have asked them to leave him alone easily enough. "Yeah, well, they like having me here." A pause. "Xander."

Giles and Xander exchanged a worried look. Giles noted that Spike's shoulders were hunched. One hand came up to rub the back of his neck. "Uh-huh. Look, did you want something in particular?"

The hall wasn't large enough that Giles and Xander could avoid hearing Angel laugh. Faint though it was, the harsh edge to it carried clearly, and they watched Spike flinch as Angel began to speak, his words an inaudible murmur, amplified and translated only by Spike's reactions as he turned his head to look at them both, his eyes filled with a questioning, searching expression as if he was reassuring himself about something.

"It's not like that," Spike said to Angel, his gaze fixed on Giles and Spike. "I earn my keep. Pay my way."

There was a pause as Angel said something and Giles watched Spike's lips tighten and twist before he lost whatever grip he'd had on his temper. "You what? Don't you fucking dare say that! Don't you -- I'm better than that. Better than you. Stay the fuck out of my life, Angel. You hear me?" Spike's voice rose. "Do you fucking hear me, you pathetic shit?"

The phone was slammed down on the hall table and Spike turned to face them again, his eyes wild and his shoulders heaving as he took deep, shuddering breaths.

"He -- God, he -"

He brought his hands up to scrub hard at his face and kept them there for a long moment before turning away and heading for the study where his bed had long since been turned back into a sofa.

Xander followed immediately, his instincts quick as always. It was one of the things Giles loved about him. By the time he himself arrived in the doorway to the study, Xander was close to Spike, who was pacing back and forth. Xander's arms were spread to his sides a bit, everything about his posture radiating the fact that he was there for Spike, that he'd help Spike restrain himself if it became necessary.

"I know," Xander was saying, his voice low, soothing. "He makes lots of people crazy. It's not just you."

Spike laughed, but his hands were balled into fists, and he didn't stop moving in the small space. Giles kept back, staying in the doorway because there wasn't room for all three of them if Spike needed to pace. "This isn't... Xander, please, just leave me be for a bit."

But Xander must have heard the same desperation in Spike's voice that Giles did, because he shook his head. "No. The last thing you need right now's to be alone. What did he say?"

"Said -- he said -" Spike shook his head, his face flushing with heat. He looked as dangerous as he'd ever seemed as a vampire in that moment, the rage and shame crackling off him. "Fucking bastard."

With that final word, Spike lashed out with his foot, kicking at the wheeled chair in front of the computer, sending it flying across the room to crash into the wall.

"Spike," Giles said, pitching his voice to break through the anger that was isolating Spike. "Please -"

"No!" Spike turned to the door, his face contorted. "You want to know what he said? He called me a fucking whore." He turned and took a step over to the wall, his fist slamming into it with a dull thud and a crack of bone, his back turned to them. His voice was cold, almost indifferent now. "Told him I was working, and he said he knew just where my talents lay. Said anyone'd be glad to pay to fuck a pretty boy like me. Said he knew why you were keeping me around now."

Spike punched the wall again, before leaning his head against it and starting to cry silently, his body shaking.

Xander was right there, putting an arm around Spike, not backing off when Spike struggled to push him away, remaining stubborn. "He's an asshole," Xander said, trying to convince Spike with gentle hands to turn toward him. "He's just pushing your buttons -- you know that."

Slowly, Spike allowed himself to be turned, ending with his face hidden against Xander's neck as his shoulders shook. The sound of his angry weeping was barely audible to Giles as he crossed the room and laid a hand on Spike's back.

"Come sit down," Giles said, guiding both of them toward the sofa. He wanted to get a good look at Spike's hand, suspicious that Spike had done more damage than he'd intended to, but wanted to give it a minute.

They managed to get Spike sitting on the sofa between them, although Spike curled toward Xander as if seeking protection, half-prone across Xander's lap as he continued to hide his face.

Giles caught Xander's eye, hating the distant Angel as much for the pain he saw on Xander's face as for Spike's distress, but forcing the negative emotion away. Spike didn't need company in hating Angel -- he needed to know he was cared for. Loved, although that was still something Giles had never told him, because it wasn't something he said lightly, or easily. Not the first time anyway.

Moving as close as he could, Giles stroked Spike's hair, which had grown longer so that the ends were beginning to curl slightly on his neck, keeping his touch gentle. He put his other arm around Xander, who was staring down at the blood seeping from Spike's knuckles and looking increasingly upset as Spike showed no signs of calming down.

Giles gave Spike a little longer, until the hurt, angry sobs that sounded as if they were being wrenched out of Spike had died away, then said quietly, "Spike, look at us. Please? You're worrying Xander."

Spike's reaction to that comment, unfair though it might have been, answered any questions lingering in the back of Giles' mind. He struggled to a sitting position, wiping his face with his good hand, and glanced at Giles before looking at Xander. "It's all right," Spike said roughly. "Like you said, he's just good at pushing my buttons, yeah?"

"But you're not... that's not true. What he said." Xander's distress was almost palpable. "You know that, right?"

"He's had a couple hundred years to perfect being a bastard," Spike said, as if it were that easy to dismiss everything Angel had told him. Giles noted that this was not the same as actually reassuring Xander. "He's always been able to do this. Guess things haven't changed as much as I thought." Regretfully, Spike looked down at his battered hand.

"Everything's changed," Giles said absently, slipping his hand under Spike's hurt one and bending his head to examine it as he held it cradled in his palm. The skin over the knuckles was swollen and split, but he could flex the fingers without getting more than a hiss of pain from Spike. "We need to get this seen to, but Xander's right; you should know what he said isn't true, or else we've been doing a damn poor job of showing you how we feel about you."

Spike's head came up and he stared at Giles through wet lashes. Before he could speak, Giles asked, "Have we? Not made it clear how much we care about you? Will you believe me when I tell you that we do? Or would you rather accept Angel's judgment, which is utter bollocks, not to put too fine a point on it."

Spike shook his head, apparently not ready or incapable of answering, and Xander slid his hand down Spike's back to the base of his spine, rubbing in gentle circles. "We do," Xander said softly. "Angel has no idea what he's talking about. He doesn't know."

"He always knows," Spike said, his voice shaking, but he didn't try to pull away. He was staring down at his hand in Giles'.

"I can assure you he doesn't," Giles said firmly. "He was being insulting, but it wasn't based on fact; how could it be? He doesn't know about Xander and me, let alone what's happened over the last month." He frowned. "Well, I don't think he does... "

"He might," Spike said, sounding discouraged. "Might have been keeping tabs on me."

"No," Giles said, shaking his head as he remembered Angel's first reaction. "He didn't even know for sure that you were here, so he can't have been. He was just being a prat." Letting go of Spike's hand, Giles stood up. "I'm going to get some ice for your hand," he said, touching the back of his hand briefly to Spike's face, feeling the dampness of tears against his skin.

As he went to the kitchen, he could hear Xander talking softly, earnestly, although Giles couldn't quite make out the words. He wasn't convinced they were as important as the tone just then, anyway, as Spike didn't seem capable of absorbing the meaning.

Returning to the study with a few handfuls of ice in a plastic bag and a thin kitchen towel, Giles sat down again and wrapped the bag in the towel before taking Spike's hand and cradling the wounded back of it against the makeshift icepack. Spike hissed and tensed, then deliberately relaxed. "Thanks," he said, after a minute.

Giles lifted the bag, inspected Spike's hand, and then replaced it. "I think it's helping," he said. "But it's going to be a little stiff tomorrow, I'm afraid." He leaned back against the arm of the couch, feeling tired, and a little overwhelmed by it all, but relieved to see that Xander looked less unhappy now that Spike was calmer.

"Didn't mean to go all drama queen on you," Spike said. His voice was sounding stronger, but an edge of distance had crept into it as well, as though he were trying to deny that any of this had the ability to affect him.

"Yeah, well, like I said, Angel pisses a lot of people off," Xander said, curling his hand around the back of Spike's neck and stroking the hair there. "Plus with the way he kicked you out, I figure you're more than entitled."

Spike's head turned, his eyes meeting Giles'. "He say anything to you?" There was no hiding the worry on his face.

"He didn't say anything," Giles said, not lying, not really, but seeing no need to share Angel's exact words with either of them. "Just asked for you, and then you both came in. The rest you know." He shrugged. "He was drunk by the sounds of it, and obviously still resentful. I imagine when he sobers up he'll regret what he said, but it makes no difference. It wasn't true." He cupped Spike's face in his hand, the curve of it as familiar now as Xander's. "You know that, if you let yourself think about it. He thinks you're helpless, useless -"

Xander made a small sound of protest, but Spike just sat quietly, his eyes on Giles.

"You're not. Within days of getting here you got a job, and you're doing it well. Sarah's pleased with you and so am I."

"You got me the job," Spike said.

"So?" Giles demanded, letting his hand fall away. "You're the one doing it. And don't you even think about giving any credence to the rest of what he said. Common sense should tell you how ridiculous that is."

It was very clear from Spike's expression that he didn't think it ridiculous, but Giles was out of words with which to try to convince him. He stroked his fingertips lightly over Spike's wrist as Spike began several times to say something, and then each time stopped himself before speaking.

On Spike's other side, Xander moved in closer, turning Spike's face toward him, leaning in for a kiss. Watching the two of them together made Giles ache, as it always did, even when the embrace seemed to be pure affection and nothing more. "Forget about him," Xander murmured. "He's not worth it."

"He knows me," Spike said miserably, his good hand on Xander's knee.

Xander shook his head. "No, he just thinks he does. Things are different now, and you know it." The next kiss was met by an eager, almost desperate Spike who made a small sound against Xander's lips.

Giles almost wished he could leave them alone together for a while; Xander seemed to be reaching Spike far better than he could, but he knew if he stood up to go they'd protest, so he settled for staying as quiet as possible and letting Xander comfort Spike. He could see the tension leaving Spike with each kiss, each pass of Xander's hand over Spike's back, each murmured word of reassurance. He could have felt excluded, but he didn't. The simple conviction and directness of Xander's approach was something Giles couldn't manage, and it was what Spike needed right now.

He was just glad one of them could provide it.

"There's a perfectly good bed right here," Xander said, sliding his hand over to squeeze Giles' thigh.

"No, there isn't," Spike muttered darkly. "Nothing good about it. I'm the one who slept here, remember?"

"I remember," Xander said, starting another long kiss that ended with a nip of his teeth and a whimper from Spike. "We could move upstairs?"

"You two go up," Giles said, grasping at the opportunity to give them some time alone. "I'll just make sure everything's sorted out down here and I'll be up in a moment."

Spike pulled back and turned to look at Giles. "No," he said, shaking his head and making an aborted movement with his bad hand that must have hurt before he remembered. "You come, too."

"I will in a moment," Giles said, "but -" He looked at them both, feeling helpless and unable to explain why he thought they'd be better off without him, just this once. "Wouldn't you rather -- I don't mind if -" They stared at him, identical frowns appearing on their faces, and Giles gave up. "Let's go to bed," he said.

They made their way upstairs, Spike first in line with his hand still wrapped in the ice pack and Xander behind him, hovering as though worried that Spike might not be capable of making it up the stairs. Giles followed, sorting through his feelings about the fact that neither of them had wanted to go without him, even temporarily.

Spike sat on the edge of the bed and Xander knelt on the floor in front of him, carefully unwrapping his hand and looking at the torn skin and bruising. "You don't think it's broken?" Xander asked.

"Nah." Spike curled his hand into a fist and winced. "Hurts, though."

"Next time punch something softer," Giles said dryly. "Although I grant you that's not as satisfying."

The curtains were already drawn, but he took a moment to turn on a lamp and switch off the main light, making the room feel more restful.

"When Joyce died I put my fist right through the wall in Willow's dorm room," Xander said. "Guess they build better over here; you didn't even dent the study wall."

"Or you don't know your own strength," Giles said to Xander, meaning it on more than one level. He sat down on the bed beside Spike and hugged him impulsively, feeling Spike lean into the embrace, before taking hold of the hem of Spike's T-shirt and pulling it up. Making sure that Spike's injured hand didn't get knocked, he helped him out of it, running his hand over Spike's bare chest and feeling the thud of Spike's heart against his palm.

Warm. Alive. Human. How Angel could assume Spike was unchanged was beyond Giles. Still lost for the right words, he settled for following Xander's example and bent his head to kiss Spike's shoulder where it curved up to his neck, keeping his hand flat over Spike's heart, his fingers spread wide.

Spike still had something of a throat fetish, and he tilted his head to the side, making the skin there more easily accessible to Giles' mouth. It tasted slightly salty, and the scent of cigarette smoke from the pub lingered on Spike's skin and hair. Giles inhaled and licked the pulse point on Spike's throat, sliding his hand on Spike's chest an inch or two until his fingertip rubbed over a suddenly taut nipple and Spike whimpered. "Fuck, Giles," he breathed. "Need it. You. Please."

Giles lifted his head, startled, looking not at Spike, but at Xander, sitting back on his heels and smiling up at them. Without speaking, Xander stood up and began to strip off his clothes, moving with a casual lack of haste. When Giles just looked at him, Xander sighed and raised his eyebrows meaningfully. "More getting naked, less staring," he said.

"Oh! Yes," Giles murmured sheepishly, and then rallied. "I can stare at you if I want to," he said. "I like staring at you."

"Can see why," Spike said, a hum of approval in his voice before his breath caught on a gasp as Giles dragged the edge of his thumbnail across Spike's nipple. Spike reached eagerly down to the belt on his jeans and fumbled with it, swearing as the stiff strip of leather refused to cooperate.

"Let me," Giles said, pushing Spike's hand away and dealing deftly with the fastenings on Spike's jeans. Spike lay back on the bed and lifted his hips, giving them both a look from under half-lowered lids that was so blatant an invitation that Giles found himself biting hard on his lip. He and Xander both reached out a hand and tugged down Spike's jeans together, helped by a wriggle from Spike that brought a groan of desire out of Giles that he couldn't have held back if he'd wanted to.

"Exhibitionist," he growled fondly, getting undressed as quickly as he could. "The pair of you," he added, as Xander joined Spike on the bed, lying on his stomach beside him and arching his back so that his arse seemed to be begging to be touched, kissed, fucked.

Xander grinned back over his shoulder at him, looking unrepentant.

Giles couldn't resist the urge to swat Xander on the arse with the flat of his hand as he moved around to the other side of the bed.

"Ow!" Xander protested, although his grin didn't waver.

"Poor baby," Spike said. He lifted his bad hand to soothe Xander's pinkened skin, and Giles noted that Xander stayed still, not wanting to bump Spike's hand and hurt it further.

Giles got into bed, rolling Spike a bit more toward Xander so that Spike's back was to him and rubbing his erection firmly between Spike's arse cheeks, groaning when Spike pushed back against him just as firmly.

"Gonna fuck me, Giles?" Spike asked, voice suddenly gone husky.

"What do you think?" Giles said. Without waiting for Spike's reply he slipped his hand over Spike's shoulder, caressing his throat and then dragging his hand swiftly, with deliberate roughness, down Spike's body, letting his nails dig in just enough to mark the skin faintly and finishing by wrapping his hand around Spike's cock, feeling Spike buck up into the tight circle of his fingers, moaning softly.

"Yes, I'm going to fuck you, Spike," Giles whispered into his ear, licking along Spike's earlobe before sucking hard on the soft flesh, moving his hand in slow, deliberate strokes, his fingers tight around Spike's cock. "We both are," he said as Xander wriggled close enough to kiss Spike, so that as Giles worked Spike's erection his knuckles were brushing against Xander's flat stomach and the head of Spike's cock was sliding along it, leaving a trail of pre-come, sticky and warm. "Going to do anything you want tonight," Giles promised him, between the kisses he was pressing against the back of Spike's neck, still moving his hips in slow thrusts and enjoying the friction along the underside of his cock. "Going to kiss it all better," he said, fastening his mouth onto the side of Spike's neck, far too high to be covered by a shirt, and starting to suck on it hard, lapping at the trapped skin with his tongue.

Spike made a startled, desperately turned on sound and squirmed between them. Xander leaned in and kissed him, catching the next whimper that escaped him as Giles finished marking Spike and backed off enough to survey the darkening bruise with satisfaction.

"What can we do to show you?" Xander asked Spike, his cock riding along beside Giles' fist still wrapped around Spike's.

"Please," Spike begged, turning his head to look over his shoulder at Giles, rubbing against him wantonly. "Fuck me, Giles. Need it." He sounded as desperate as Giles had ever heard him.

Giles shuddered, his body responding to Spike's need with a primal surge of arousal. "God, I need you," he said. "So very much." He turned his head to glance at Xander. "Both of you -"

"We know," Xander said. He turned around, snagged the bottle of lube off the night table, and put it into Giles' hand. "Now fuck Spike. Show him."

"I will," Giles said, moving back enough to slick his cock with the lube. Spike started to shift position, but Giles stopped him. "Stay like this," he said, not wanting Spike to have to put any weight on his injured hand. "Xander -"

"Way ahead of you," Xander said, sliding down the bed and starting to lick at the head of Spike's cock, drawing a heartfelt groan from him.

Giles reached down and caressed Xander's shoulder, and then poured some lube into his hand and stroked his dripping fingers across Spike's entrance. Without bothering to do more than that, knowing Spike was more than ready for him, he pushed the head of his cock against the yielding flesh and slowly eased inside him.

Spike was hot inside, as well as unbelievably tight, and Giles locked down on his control, determined that this would be more about giving Spike pleasure than anything else. He could feel Spike trembling, could feel Spike's body tighten further around him as Xander sucked at Spike's cock.

God, this wasn't going to last long.

"Fuck," Spike muttered, shifting and making a small pained sound.

"Don't touch anything with that hand," Giles ordered, pulling out and pushing forward again, sliding deep into Spike and making him shudder. "Just be still."

"Can't," Spike said. He gasped, his breathing harsh. "Giles..."

"Come, if you need to," Giles said. "As many times as you need to. Xander and I are here to give you what you need."

Spike trembled in Giles' arms, groaning with the next thrust.

Giles's hand was gripping Spike's hip, holding him in place and giving Giles something to brace himself against as he fucked Spike. He felt Xander's hand come up to cover it, their fingers lacing together, and then Xander's fingers tightened as Spike started to come, his muscles locking, so that Giles, deep inside him, felt his cock squeezed along its length. He'd felt that before, of course, but the sensation seemed so much more profound when he knew Spike was coming into Xander's mouth, the three of them connected in that instant. He hadn't thought himself that close to climaxing, but as he'd found out a long time ago, arousal was as much mental as physical, and the sounds Spike was making, as well as the insistent, pulsing pressure on Giles' cock, brought him to the edge, but it was that single image of Xander's mouth on Spike that pushed him over, crying out hoarsely as he came, his free hand clenching around Spike's shoulder.

Spike was gasping and shuddering in Giles' arms, and Xander moved up to kiss him gently, acting for all the world as if he weren't still hard and eager himself. "Careful with your hand," Xander warned, shifting to kiss Giles over Spike's shoulder. Giles could taste Spike on Xander's tongue.

"Fuck, Giles, that was..." Spike didn't seem capable of finishing the sentence. "God."

"Been there," Xander said, pressing his mouth to the bruise on Spike's throat, then licking it.

Feeling as if even that was too much effort given the languor stripping the strength from his limbs, Giles smiled at Xander and shifted back a little, brushing his hand gently over Spike's hip as he pulled out of him. "You two bring out the -- well, I won't say the worst. Let's just say you tempt me to indulge myself, and I always seem to give in and never regret it."

Making an effort, he rolled over and grabbed the box of tissues. They'd probably all end up showering later, but Giles didn't want to leave the bed just yet. After taking care of the clean-up, he leaned over and kissed Spike, who was lying on his back, his chest still rising and falling rapidly. "We're not finished yet," Giles said, reaching across Spike and running his hand down Xander's side and around to his arse. Xander wriggled even closer, his cock hard and swollen, his face showing a slight tension. Giles couldn't blame him, and he did feel sympathetic, but God, Xander looked so good like that, his face flushed and his eyes heavy with arousal. "We're going to send you to sleep believing us when we tell you what you mean to us."

Xander nodded and leaned down, lips and teeth worrying at one of Spike's nipples, and Giles watched as Spike responded. Watched the breathing that had been evening out hitch and catch, watched the faint pink flush in Spike's cheeks turn darker.

"I'm gonna fuck you," Xander murmured against Spike's chest. "But it won't just be fucking."

"No?" Spike asked.

"No," Xander said. He slid a hand down to cup Spike's balls, then slid his fingers down below them, two sliding into Spike easily, making Spike gasp and tense suddenly as though he hadn't been expecting that. Giles knew what that felt like, to be over-stimulated and a bit sore only to be fucked a second time, and just thinking about it made his body attempt to react, his cock stirring slightly even as Spike's did. Xander shifted, moved, getting between Spike's thighs and lining up his erection. "It's going to be me loving you. Okay?"

Spike's eyes were wide, his lips parted as Xander pushed inside. His hand reached out and grabbed onto Giles' arm. "Is it?"

Giles answered for Xander, who was staring down at Spike, his expression intent and unguarded as he began to move in slow, deep strokes, his attention so focused on Spike that Giles didn't know why Spike even had to ask. "Yes, it is," he said, and then gave Spike all he could in the way of reassurance, finding it easier to say than he'd imagined in the shadows, in their bed, with the three of them so close in every way. "It's both of us loving you."

Spike's hand gripped Giles' arm tighter as he looked up at Xander, although from the way his eyes were unfocused, Giles wasn't convinced Spike was really seeing anything. His breath came in harsh gasps that sounded almost pained, and it wasn't until that moment that Giles realized the hand holding onto his arm was the one Spike had damaged. He didn't say anything, though. He knew what it was like to be that lost, and the last thing he wanted was to spoil it for Spike.

"You feel that?" Xander asked, not losing his slow rhythm. "You feel how much we love you?"

There was a whimper from Spike that Giles thought answered the question nicely. "Don't stop," Spike gasped, the words having layered meanings.

"Not... planning on it," Xander managed to say, sounding a little breathless.

Giles was aroused watching them -- impossible not to be -- but his climax was too recent for him to be hard again, although Spike's cock was full and jerking slightly with every thrust from Xander. Still, it didn't mean he had to be an observer... The bottle of lube was within reach and using his free hand he managed, at the cost of a few drops spilled, to coat his fingers. Shifting closer, with Spike's hand still wrapped around his other arm, Giles ran his slippery fingers across the back of Xander's balls, smiling at the result, as Xander, surprised, drove forward hard into Spike, making them both moan.

Xander turned his head for a second to look at Giles, and Giles, still smiling, although he doubted he looked amused exactly, let his fingers slide up and graze across Xander's opening before pushing a finger inside him.

Xander felt hot and smooth inside, tightening around Giles' finger with each thrust. "Fuck," he muttered. "Yeah. You're both... oh God." He hesitated for a moment, drawing in a desperate-sounding breath, then thrust forward again, creating a new, quicker rhythm that had Spike moaning in seconds.

"Xan..." Spike said Xander's name like that occasionally, most often when they were in bed, and every time it seemed to affect Xander the same way it did Giles. It was so intimate, so open, that it made the old, shuttered Spike seem like a thing of the distant past. "God, love, please..."

"Giles -" Xander said, riding Giles' fingers as he rocked back and forwards, each stroke accompanied by an open-mouthed sound from Spike, raw and needy. "Touch him -"

Spike's hand on Giles' arm tightened and then moved away, allowing Giles to reach between Spike and Xander and surround Spike's cock with his hand. He wasn't sure he could coordinate well enough to do any more than that, but it seemed to be enough, judging by the increased intensity of the sounds Spike was making.

"Oh God," Spike gasped, writhing beneath Xander. "God. Yeah. Like that. Oh fuck, I'm gonna come." The sound he made as his body arched and shuddered was strangled, his head tipped back and the cords in his neck standing out, his jaw thrust forward.

Xander froze when Spike started to come, eyes squeezed shut, arms trembling. If Giles hadn't had a finger inside him and felt it, he wouldn't have known that Xander was coming, too, silently, gloriously, looking like a young god. Giles felt powerful, eternal, as the two men in bed with him both relaxed suddenly, groaning and gasping for air and, in Xander's case, laughing.

"What's so funny?" Spike asked, although he didn't sound upset as Xander pushed himself up again.

Xander shook his head, still laughing. "Nothing. I mean, that was just so... wow. You know?" He leaned down and kissed Spike very tenderly.

Giles rolled onto his back, feeling exhausted, but in a good way. "'Wow'?" he said with some incredulity, shaping the word carefully. It wasn't the word he'd have gone with at all. "Wow," he said experimentally. "No, it's not growing on me." He shrugged, turning his head and giving them both a grin. "But as long as it means you're happy," he said tolerantly. His gaze drifted to Spike's face. "Are you?" he asked. "Because now that I think about it, maybe this wasn't the best way to convince you that we want you for more than just your body. And we do, you know."

Spike did looked blissfully relaxed as Xander lay down on his other side, but as soon as Giles spoke, a hint of what might have been regret flashed across his face. It was there and gone again so quickly that Giles didn't think Xander could have possibly seen it, and he was grateful for that, because he knew it would have hurt him.

Although it could easily be argued that Giles might be a bit overprotective of Xander at times.

"Don't get much happier than this," Spike said, his voice sounding close to normal.

"I'm voting for the kind of happier that comes along with a nice hot shower," Xander said, kissing Spike's shoulder. "Not that I'd mind sleep, either, but I don't want to wake up glued to the sheets." It was a horrid thought that made Giles shudder.

"I think a shower's an excellent idea," Giles said. "I just wish it didn't involve moving." He turned and put his arm across them both, feeling the heat radiating from Spike's body and sighing with unfeigned contentment. "Love you," he murmured without thinking, closing his eyes just for a moment.

Spike tensed underneath his arm, then sighed and relaxed. Giles wasn't sure if it was because what he'd said was accepted, or because Spike didn't want to talk about it, and either way he wasn't convinced that this was the right time. If Spike wasn't convinced, it was because he wasn't ready to be.

Giles mustered up enough energy to open his eyes again. "You'd better let someone else scrub you down, Spike and use that hand as little as possible," he murmured. "Much though the idea of you, me, and some shower gel appeals, I might let Xander handle that. I'm about to fall asleep here. Why don't you two use the shower up here and I'll go downstairs?"

Yawning, he sat up, scratching at his chest.

"Did we wear you out, Giles?" Xander asked, with his tongue very much in his cheek. "Maybe we could keep a bottle of one of those energy drinks by the -- ow!"

Giles shook his hand, which was stinging slightly from meeting Xander's backside for the second time, and left while Xander was still spluttering and Spike was still chuckling.


"Come on, you," Xander said affectionately as Giles started downstairs and Spike continued to lay sprawled on the bed, flushed and sleepy. "There's no way we're going to sleep like this. Up."

"Was already up twice," Spike grumbled, but he sat and rolled to the edge of the bed, favoring his sore hand.

"I'll take care of everything but the walking," Xander said. "That's the rule. You have to get there on your own two legs."

"Think I can just about manage that," Spike said, standing up and proving it by heading toward the door. He glanced back at Xander. "I can manage to wash myself, too, you know." He spread his fingers, wincing slightly. Xander saw the scabbed-over skin split, although it didn't start to bleed. It looked painful. "Still, wouldn't want Giles to wallop your arse again for not listening to him, so I might as well let you take care of me, as he seems keen on the idea."

Xander followed Spike into the bathroom and brushed by him. "I've got it," he said, starting up the hot water, and then looking at Spike's hand again. "That's going to sting like hell."

"Yeah." Spike shrugged. It was hard to figure out what was going on inside his head, and that bothered Xander. He wanted to know. He didn't like not knowing. "Don't worry about it."

"Seems like a pretty casual attitude for a non-vampire," Xander said, even though he tried to be the same way. And it wasn't like it was some serious injury, even though he was sure it hurt. "Okay. Into the shower."

Spike gave him a faint smile. "Giles bosses you, you boss me; is that it?" Without waiting for an answer, he stepped under the water, hesitating for a split second and then holding his hand out so that the spray streamed over it, the noise of the shower drowning out any sound of pain he might have made. Judging from the way his lips tightened, none would've been audible.

"Don't be stupid," Xander said, stepping in to join Spike and pulling his hand out from under the spray. "It'll be clean enough by the time we're out of here anyway. Come here." He slipped an arm around Spike's waist and nuzzled the back of his neck, kissing the warm, wet skin there. "Let me take care of you, okay? Please?"

"Don't know why you want to," Spike said, dropping his head so the words were almost washed away and Xander had to listen really hard to catch them all. "Get why you want to fuck me, yeah, because that's good for both of us -- all of us," he amended. "Taking care of me though -- isn't that just a pain in the arse? Especially the way I've been since I got here?"

He sounded curious, genuinely so, and Xander wondered if Spike had ever really heard anything they'd said to him over the last month. For someone who'd spent a century looking after Drusilla, he didn't seem ready to accept that for once he was on the receiving end.

"You took care of me when I was sick," Xander pointed out, reaching for the soap and working up a lather. He ran one hand over Spike's chest, closing his own eyes and concentrating on the feel of Spike's body. "I mean, I won't deny that you have your moments, but we all do. Of, you know, being a pain in the ass. That doesn't mean I don't want to help when stuff gets screwed up. I love you." The words weren't hard to say, and Xander kissed Spike's shoulder again after he said them.

"You're both saying that a lot tonight," Spike said, but he didn't sound as if he was objecting.

"Yeah, but is it sinking in?" Xander asked, getting lost in the way Spike's skin felt under a thin layer of soap. Giles was tired, Spike had come twice, but Xander was starting to feel as if he was going to end up jerking off in the shower or something, the way his cock was reacting, which verged on just plain greedy. He didn't think Spike would appreciate him turning the shower to cold to take care of it -- if that even worked. Somehow, the thought of Spike's body, his nipples hard under the icy water, his mouth open on an exhilarated yell, eyes sparkling -- no, wasn't helping at all. Xander stepped back a little and started to wash himself, mindful of the fact that with Giles showering as well, the hot water might run out and make the cold shower inevitable.

"I hear you," Spike answered, turning around, his gaze dropping and a smile crossing his face as he saw that Xander was hard again. "Just think you're both going to regret it. I screw things up. Always have. Don't mean to, especially not with you two, but can't seem to help it."

Distracted as he was by his physical problem, Xander couldn't help but hear how strongly Spike believed that. "You're not going to screw this up. Not any more than I will. I don't have the greatest track record for this kind of thing, either, which, I'll point out, you're perfectly aware of." He quickly soaped his cock and balls, trying to pretend his erection would go away on its own in a second or two, trying to pretend like Spike didn't see.

Spike shook his head, looking rueful. "You've got a point there," he said. "But you're still willing to try again? With Giles, yeah, can't fault you there. He's ..." Spike caught his lower lip between his teeth, and then grinned. "You know what he's like."

"Oh, yeah," Xander said. "Trust me; I know how lucky I am."

Spike nodded. "He makes sense. I don't." He ran a finger down Xander's stomach, stopping a crucial inch away from the tip of Xander's cock and holding Xander's gaze with his own. "Maybe you're just thinking with this," Spike said, not unkindly. His hand dropped and Xander gasped as Spike's warm hand teased at his balls. "Tell me you love me when you're not hard, pet," Spike said, sounding different, sounding like the Spike Xander had spent years wanting and hating and fighting with back in Sunnydale. "Might listen then."

Xander tensed. "You're not playing fair," he complained, watching Spike's face, wanting to believe that Spike really was playing and not serious.

Spike reached out and switched off the water before running his hands back over his wet hair, sending rivulets of water over his shoulders and chest. "I'm not playing," he said in the sudden quiet. "And I'm not trying to piss you off." He looked at Xander and rolled his eyes. "Not the best place for a talk, is it?" He stepped out of the shower and picked up two towels, passing one over to Xander. "See, I think you mean it -- now -" Spike said, starting to towel himself dry with the towel held a little awkwardly in his uninjured hand. "Just think once the novelty wears off, you'll be wishing it was the two of you again. And I can't say that I'd blame you. I've been thinking this was a new start, but I'm still the same." He shook his head a little bit. "Bloody annoying that it was Angel who made me realize it, though."

"Spike-" Xander began.

"No," Spike said. "I don't mean all that crap he gave me tonight. I just mean -- I don't get this. Love. Last time I was human -- first time around -- I was the most pathetic -" He sighed. "I've never loved anyone who loved me back. Not properly. Not the way I felt for them. I don't do it by halves, you see. All or nothing. I'd do anything for them -" His eyes flickered as if he was remembering nightmares and he swallowed hard. "So this -- you two -- yeah, I want to think it's real, want to think I can count on it, trust you, but give me time, yeah? It's only been a month, right? Used to be able to hold my breath that long."

Xander was still holding his own towel, still just standing there looking at Spike. And yeah, it hurt to know that it didn't seem like there was a way to get through to Spike, to convince him, but that didn't mean Xander was going to give up. Nope. Spike was scared, but Xander was stubborn, and he could be stubborn a hell of a lot longer than Spike would stay scared.

He hoped.

"Come here," Xander said. He didn't wait to see if Spike would, just pulled the smaller man in flush against him and held him. At first, Spike was resistant, but after a minute he sighed and relaxed, pressing closer to Xander, warm and pliant in his arms. "You can have all the time you need," he said softly. "We're not going anywhere. And we're not going to change our minds, either. You'll see."

Spike tilted his head back suddenly and kissed Xander hard, his mouth desperate and avid at first until he seemed to get that Xander wasn't moving away, and then the kiss gentled, with Spike's good hand slowly caressing the back of Xander's neck and making him shiver. It ended with Spike blinking up at Xander, something that looked like hope in his eyes. When he spoke, though, it was clear that the subject had been changed.

"You're supposed to be looking after me," Spike said, "but that doesn't mean you have to catch your death of cold, you know." Using his own damp towel, he gave Xander's back a brisk rub. "Come on. Dry off and let's get back to bed before Giles thinks we've disappeared down the plughole or something."

"Right," Xander said, still trying to absorb everything that had been said in the last hour or so and failing miserably. Bed, though; he could do that. He quickly finished drying himself off and followed Spike back to the bedroom, where Giles had already changed the sheets, climbed between them, and was now looking about ninety percent asleep.

He gestured at the bed for Spike to get in the middle -- they hadn't settled the issue of whose side of the bed was whose yet, but as far as Xander was concerned, he wanted Spike between him and Giles where, hopefully, Spike would feel loved. Getting in beside Spike, Xander pulled the covers up over them and smiled as Giles mumbled and snuggled closer to Spike, slipping an arm around his waist.

"You okay?" Xander whispered to Spike.

There was a moment's silence, and then Spike's hand reached out, brushing across Xander's cock, which at some point had finally gotten the message that he was tired and pushing his luck and subsided.

"Yeah, I still love you," Xander said softly. "Idiot."

Spike chuckled just as quietly. "Yeah. I am. Only just discovered that? 'Night, Xan." There was a slight pause, and then he added, "Love you, too," before closing his eyes, leaving Xander nothing to do but listen to the sounds of two men sleeping in the ninety seconds before he joined them.

Part Eleven

Almost a week after the Angel incident, Xander got home from work to find Spike frowning at the papers he was translating at the kitchen table.

Spike looked up at him standing in the doorway to the kitchen and the frown deepened. "What?" he asked, like he was being unpleasantly interrupted by Xander's presence.

"Hi, honey, I'm home?" Xander suggested. "Bad day?"

"No. It'd just be nice if every once in a while I could have enough time to get something done," Spike said, looking back down at the papers in front of him.

"You could work in the study instead," Xander said. It wasn't the first time he'd pointed that out.

"Don't like the lighting in there," Spike muttered, rubbing at his forehead.

Xander went to get a glass, and poured some water from the jug in the refrigerator into it before taking it over and setting it down next to Spike. What with all those vampire years, Spike sometimes forgot to do those little necessary human things like eat and drink. "Did you have lunch?"

Spike's fingers moved down to rub at his eyes, knuckling them until Xander's began to water in sympathy. "Lunch? No. Yes. Fuck, I don't know! I'm not hungry anyway. Got this headache -" He gave Xander a glare, as if daring him to comment, and then stared fiercely at the papers through screwed-up eyes. "Look, let me get on with this, will you? Or I'll have Sarah on my back and God knows I don't need that."

Not liking the way Spike's lips were pressed thin with pain, Xander shook his head. "No. Look, take a break for a while and I promise after dinner we'll give you as much quiet as you need to finish, okay? But you're not gonna get anything done now anyway, not like this. You want some aspirin?"

He thought Spike was going to snap at him again and braced himself, but Spike just took a deep breath and then crumpled in on himself, giving Xander a tiny nod and wincing as if even that had been too much. Xander had had those spiked-bowling-ball-inside-the-skull headaches, himself, so he kept the rummaging through the cupboard for the bottle of aspirin as quiet as possible.

Spike swallowed the tablets with the water and carried on sipping at it as Xander watched him, leaning against the table and wondering how long Giles was going to be.

"Sorry," Spike said eventually, giving Xander a contrite smile. "Just been doing this all day and getting nowhere. Whatever stupid sod wrote this must've done it with his eyes shut. I keep staring at it and it's blurred -" He frowned. "Think maybe there's a spell on it, or something?"

"Honestly? No, I think you're trying too hard." Xander went over and sat down next to Spike, dragging Spike's chair a few inches across the floor until they couldn't get any closer, then he put his arms around Spike and pulled Spike's head to rest on his shoulder. "And I don't really mean this literally, but you don't have to kill yourself over this. It's not life or death stuff. If you're hurting, stop for a while." He spoke softly, not wanting to make Spike's headache worse.

Spike made a little sound that Xander decided to take as agreement.

"You want to go lie down for a while? I could come with."

"Don't know," Spike said. "Maybe. What time is it?" He lifted his head from Xander's shoulder and looked across at the clock on the far wall of the kitchen. Xander watched Spike frown as if he was concentrating, and then he pulled away, stood up and walked closer to the clock. "Five," he said with an air of discovery. "Giles'll be in soon and he'll want something to eat. I'll get the table cleared."

"I could do it," Xander offered, but he wasn't surprised when Spike shook his head and started to neaten up the papers himself. He knew what Giles was like, how everything had to be in a certain order, and it seemed like that was something that just came with the translating territory. He heard the front door open and close, and went to meet Giles in the hall. "Hey," he said, trying to sound less worried than he was.

Giles gave him one look and asked, "What's the matter?" which proved that either Giles read minds or Xander really shouldn't be surprised about the way he always lost at cards. He came a little closer, dropping a heavy briefcase on the floor, and gave Xander a searching look and a quick kiss. "Did something go wrong at work? That special order for the cabinet wasn't cancelled after the wood arrived, was it?"

Xander shook his head as much at himself as in answer to Giles' questions. "No -- work's fine. Spike has a headache. Again." Sure, the previous ones hadn't made him all cranky, but there'd been at least a couple of times when Spike'd had headaches, and what was that they said about three times not being a coincidence, or something? "What if..." Xander lowered his voice so Spike wouldn't hear. "What if there's something wrong? Like... I don't know, a brain tumor or something?"

He was waiting for Giles to scoff at him for jumping to conclusions, but an expression that matched his own passed over Giles' face. Before Xander could really start to panic, though, Giles patted his shoulder, his face smoothing out as if he'd realized that only one of them could go to pieces at a time. "That's a little unlikely, Xander," Giles said. "Don't borrow trouble." He walked into the kitchen, Xander following him, to where Spike was sitting at the table again, his head in his hands, and said quietly, "Spike?"

Spike lifted his head and tried to smile. "Yeah. Hi, Giles. Don't know what Xander's been saying, but it's just a headache."

"I'm sure it is," Giles said. "But that doesn't mean we can't try to find out what's causing them." His gaze went to the papers stacked up on the table. "Do you find it's worse after you've been reading?"

"I suppose so," Spike said after a moment's thought. "Bound to give anyone a headache though, with people writing with quill pens from cross-eyed birds." He gave the papers a contemptuous flick of his hand. "Letters keep going all fuzzy on me, that's all."

"Ah," Giles murmured, making it sound like 'eureka'. He turned his wrist and glanced at his watch. "Get your coat."

"Why?" Spike demanded.

"Because there's an optician's in the High Street that's open until six and it's -" Giles broke off and nodded at the clock on the wall. "What time is it, Spike?"

Xander watched as Spike's gaze went over to the clock, feeling stupid as it finally clicked. He could see the same sheepish expression on Spike's face that he was sure he was wearing himself. "Bloody hell," Spike muttered, sounding relieved. "You really think that's what it is? Was starting to wonder if I'd come back with my brain scrambled."

"There's nothing wrong with your brain," Xander said loyally, as Spike got up.

"No, just my eyes, apparently," Spike said.

"Well, we'll have to see what they say," Giles said comfortingly, resting his hand on Spike's shoulder for a moment. "You're obviously not seriously short-sighted, or you'd have realized before this that there was something wrong. It's just that you're still getting accustomed to having human senses rather than vampire ones."

"Suppose so," Spike muttered. "God, wouldn't you have thought when they gave me a new body, they'd have fixed my eyes?"

"Fixed them?" Xander asked.

Spike gave him a slightly surprised look. "Yeah; wore specs when I was human before, didn't I?"

Giles sighed. "What were you saying about there being nothing wrong with his brain, Xander?" he asked.

"I didn't know!" Xander said, at the same time Spike said, "Fuck off," to Giles in an I'm-irritated-but-let's-pretend-I'm-just-joking kind of way.

"Had better things to worry about," Spike continued, looking sullen. "Angel, for one. Never even gave it a thought."

"Well, perhaps you should have done," Giles said a little tersely, obviously not reacting well to Spike telling him to fuck off. "And I fail to see how pointless fretting about Angel takes precedence over your health."

"The way I am now? Fretting over Angel is fretting over my health," Spike said, holding his arms out at his sides. "He could have killed me, and I'm not stupid enough to think he'd feel guilty about it afterwards, either. And it's not like I wanted to stay there with him. Was never so bloody glad to get away from someone in my life. So don't blame me for..." Spike stopped and shrugged. "You know what? Forget it." He started toward Giles like he was intending to push past him and leave.

Xander sometimes forgot that, when he wanted to, Giles could move pretty fast for a man pushing fifty. Spike got level with Giles, jostling him as he stalked past with the faintest trace of a sneer on his face, and Giles' hand shot out. Suddenly, Spike wasn't moving anywhere, because Giles had a fistful of Spike's shirt.

"Forget it?" Giles said, in a voice Xander had heard him use before and still wasn't sure if it belonged in his nightmares, or the dreams he woke up from hard and whimpering. "I don't think so."

"Let go of me," Spike said. His face was inches away from Giles' and the pallor caused by his headache was lost in a flush that could've been anger.

"No," Giles said. "Any more requests?"

Xander didn't say anything, because this was obviously not the kind of situation you got in the middle of. Spike didn't say anything, either; just stood there, refusing to back down, refusing to look away from Giles' gaze. He was so tightly wound that Xander could see him trembling, and had to hope that it was with something other than anger toward Giles. The last thing Xander wanted was to see what would happen if Spike hit Giles, because he was pretty sure it would end up with someone bleeding on the floor, and he was pretty sure that someone would be Spike.

"Let go," Spike said again, finally, with maybe a touch less fury in his voice.

Giles moved his head slowly from side to side once and brought his free hand up to Spike's neck. In contrast to the tight grip he was maintaining on Spike's shirt -- and Xander was sure he'd heard the fabric tear slightly -- he exerted barely any pressure as his fingers circled Spike's throat, his thumb stroking along the corded muscle of Spike's neck with an assured, controlled touch.

"You've let us take over your life," Giles said, his voice calm. "Decided you couldn't cope in a dozen areas and expected us to handle everything. Perhaps we've been too eager to help you because we love you. Yes, I think we have." The thumb stopped moving. "But when it comes to ignoring something like this, you've gone too far. I can treat you like a child if you like, Spike, punish and reward you accordingly, but is that really what you want? Do you want us to take Angel's place? Do you?" Xander was swallowing dryly now, unable to look away. "And I'll let go of you when you apologize, Spike, to both of us."

Spike was silent for so long that Xander started to suspect the apology would never come, but after almost a minute there was the slightest relaxation of his shoulders, and then he muttered, unconvincingly "Sorry."

"Oh, that's not half good enough," Giles said, and for the first time in a long time, Xander saw him angry. "Try again, Spike. Make me believe you for a change."

Giles' hand slipped around and up, his spread fingers raking through Spike's hair, gripping onto the back of Spike's head.

"I'm waiting."

Two words and Xander was hard, responding to the tension in the air in a way he wouldn't have expected, given that he'd grown up in a house where raised voices and threats weren't a sign of anything but dissatisfaction and frustration.

Not that Giles was doing either of those...

Another very long pause, and then all the fight went out of Spike at once. Xander could almost see it in the shiver that ran through him, and his voice was almost inaudible as he said, "Sorry. I'm sorry." Spike tilted his head forward, letting his forehead come to rest on Giles' shoulder like he didn't have the strength to hold it up anymore, and it took a lot for Xander to stay where he was, to not go to them.

Giles had Spike in his arms at once, holding him close, his hands firm and gentle as they rested against Spike's back, his face showing a tenderness far more familiar than his anger, to Xander at least.

"Thank you," Giles said, almost under his breath, and it was as if it was for both of them, which was why Xander found himself going to them after all, slipping his arms around their waists. He got his first kiss not from Spike, who was still clinging to Giles, but from Giles, who kissed him with enough of that dark edginess still flavoring it to have Xander feeling that Spike's eye examination could wait until the morning, but Giles fucking both of them shouldn't wait for more than the time it took for them to get naked.

"M'sorry," Spike said again, lifting his head. It seemed to be mostly to Giles, which was okay with Xander, who wasn't totally sure what the apology was for anyway. There were little stress lines around Spike's eyes, and he was looking at Giles like Giles was bigger and scarier than Angel at his Angelus worst. Not like he was afraid of Giles, though. Well, not like that, at least. More like he thought he didn't deserve Giles' forgiveness or acceptance.

"I'm sorry, too," Giles said with a sigh. "I was worried, and then you, you just -- and you don't even know you're doing it most of the time, do you?"

"I know," Spike said. "Just don't know how to stop it." He turned to look at Xander, his expression troubled. "Not mad at me?"

"No. Confused, maybe, but not mad," Xander said, tightening his arm around Spike and leaning in for a quick kiss.

They stood like that for a moment longer, linked and close, before moving apart, exchanging somewhat self-conscious looks. Giles looked embarrassed, as if his reaction -- or over-reaction -- had startled him as much as it had Xander.

"I'll put the kettle on," Giles said, going over to fill it as if he was glad of the chance to do something normal and drama-free. "I don't think we'll make it to the optician's in time now, but they'll be open tomorrow, if that's all right, Spike?"

"Sure," Spike said, dragging back a chair and sitting down at the table again. He pressed his fingers against his forehead a little gingerly, but didn't seem to be in as much pain as before. "Another few hours won't matter, and now I know what's wrong, it feels better, somehow."

Xander went over and rubbed the small of Giles' back as Giles filled the kettle. Giles kept a lot of tension in his back when he was upset, and Xander had learned that touching him there was a pretty good indication of how he was doing. Giles turned and smiled at Xander reassuringly, so Xander went over to the table and sat down next to Spike. What he wanted to do was pull Spike into his lap and hold him like that, but he wasn't sure Spike would like that, and he wasn't sure where the instinct was coming from.

Giles finished getting the teapot ready, taking longer than normal, as if he was using it as an excuse to keep his back turned, and then joined them at the table. Without preamble, he said, "If I ever do that again, feel free to tell me I'm being a complete idiot. I certainly feel like one." He shook his head, giving Spike an apologetic look. "I know you're different now, and Lord knows the way I feel about you has changed for the better, but when you... challenge me like that, I react as I would've done when we first met, and that's so very unfair of me." He placed his hands on the table, his fingers loosely clasped, and stared down at them. "I suppose we all have different buttons. You've always been able to hit mine with a frightening accuracy."

"No," Spike said, shaking his head and reaching out a hand to cover one of Giles'. Xander was pretty sure he'd deliberately chosen the one with the slightly crooked fingers. You couldn't really tell by looking at them, but when you were touching them, you could feel where they weren't completely straight. Xander felt a surge of anger toward Angel -- for what he'd done to Giles, for what he was still doing to Spike. "I deserved it," Spike said. "Sometimes that's just... what I need. To get me to listen. Though I will say I appreciate that you didn't hit me, even though I probably deserved that, too." Spike was smiling a little bit, ruefully.

"Hit you?" Giles said, sounding a little disconcerted, curling his fingers around Spike's hand as he spoke. "Spike, I'd never -- I don't recall hitting you when you were a vampire, and being particularly annoying, so I'm hardly likely to start now you're human and we're in a relationship." Giles looked a little angry again, but Xander was pretty sure it wasn't Spike he was mad with. "You shouldn't be glad I didn't hit you; it shouldn't be something you'd expect from me." His fingers tightened around Spike's in an unspoken appeal. "I'm not Angel. I won't act like him, or treat you as he did."

Spike nodded, but he was looking down at the table now, not up at either of them. "Wouldn't blame you if you did, though." He put his other hand over his eyes and sighed. "Sorry. Bloody headache's making me maudlin."

"I think you're allowed," Xander said, rubbing the back of Spike's neck gently. "We'll get some food into you, and then you can lie down for a while."

Spike dropped his head even lower and made a soft sound of pleasure as Xander's fingers found a new spot to massage. "Feels good," he said. "Think it's helping."

"Is that a hint?" Xander said with a grin. He stood up, moving to stand behind Spike's chair and using both his hands to work at the tight muscles along the base of Spike's neck and over his shoulders. Giles glanced at them as he went to finish making the tea and smiled, the final lines of tension smoothing out of his face.

"So I'm getting sent to bed in disgrace, am I?" Spike said, as Giles put a mug of tea in front of them both, sounding plaintive and putting a quiver in his voice that had Xander snorting with disbelief.

"You say that as if you expect to be fed on dry bread and water, spanked thoroughly and locked in a dark cupboard for an hour." Giles said, raising his eyebrows and clearly trying hard not to grin. "Don't you want to rest for a while?"

"Want to go to bed," Spike said with a little more sincerity. "Don't want to go alone, though."

"I think we can arrange something," Xander said, patting Spike's shoulders and reaching over him for his mug of tea. It was just a little bit too hot, but it had been a long time since lunch and he was, he realized belatedly, starving. "But first, food. Someone," he told Giles, "couldn't remember if he'd had lunch or not."

Spike sat up a little bit straighter. "I did," he said.

"Actual food, or a package of chips?"

"Crisps," Spike corrected him.

"Is that a yes to the no actual food?" Xander asked.

"Yeah," Spike said. "It was just... I was in a groove. Didn't want to lose my place."

"Maybe I should start making you a sandwich before I leave in the morning," Xander said. "Or call and remind you to eat at lunchtime."

"You two should meet up for lunch at the shop," Giles said, rummaging in the fridge and emerging with a large steak. "It'd do you good to get some fresh air, Spike, and if you're there, Xander might actually stop working while he eats."

Xander thought about what used to happen when Giles joined him for lunch, which he hadn't done since Spike turned up, and felt a tingle start, low down, at the thought of Spike bent over the table in the back room.

"If we want something soon, I think we'd better skip the baked potatoes," Giles continued.

Xander realized that maybe Giles didn't always want to be the one doing all the practical stuff and went to help him. "There's stuff for salad," he said, patting Giles' hip to get him to move out of the way. "You do the steak and I'll wash lettuce." There were some mushrooms and peppers in the vegetable bin, too, so he took those out and set everything beside the sink.

"I could help," Spike offered, from his seat at the table.

"No, you couldn't," Xander said. "Stay there. Rest. Drink your tea."

Spike propped his chin on his hand and smiled at him. "Whatever you say, Xander. Whatever you say."


"That's the last cup of coffee for you, young man, or you'll never get to sleep tonight," Spike said firmly, dumping the dregs from the pot down the drain.

"Since when did you become Giles?" Xander asked, frowning and drinking his coffee quickly like he was afraid Spike would take it away from him if he didn't. Which, from Spike's perspective, wasn't a stupid thing to be afraid of.

"Giles and I both know what you're like when you've had too much coffee." Spike went over to sit at the kitchen table, picking up his new eyeglasses and slipping them on surreptitiously. He'd had enough comments about the new specs and didn't want any more if he could avoid them, not that it was easy to wear the things without anyone noticing. "So. What's the plan for today?"

"Other than 'try not to lose my mind?'" Xander didn't look worried, though. "I have three orders that need to be done by the end of the week, so I'll be working hard. Hence the chemical stimulant." He gestured with his coffee mug.

Coming back into the kitchen with the file he'd gone upstairs to get, Giles frowned. "Tell me he hasn't had more than the one cup of coffee?"

"I could tell you that, Giles, but it would be a lie," Spike said. It came out sounding primmer than he'd expected it to, and he scowled in an attempt to earn back his bad-boy cred. "I have to deliver this to Sarah by two, then I've got some errands to run. Should be back in time to start dinner, though."

"Don't feel you have to rush back," Giles said as Spike began to sort through the papers in front of him. "By the sound of it, Xander and I won't be back until late; I've got a meeting set up for the afternoon, and if Appleby takes his usual fifteen minutes to introduce the topic you might not see me until midnight." He opened his briefcase and slipped the file inside, closing it with a decisive snap. "Right, I'm off. Have a good day, both of you." Spike straightened, expecting Giles to come over and kiss him goodbye, and found himself staring at a closing door.

"Got to go," Xander said, rinsing his cup and leaving it on the side. He did come over to the table, bending down to kiss Spike, but when Spike took a handful of Xander's T-shirt and tugged him closer, he stepped back. "Really got to go, Spike. There's a delivery of lumber due, and if I'm not there they'll either dump it on the sidewalk, in which case it'll be gone before they get back in the truck, or drive off and it'll be days before they schedule me in again."

"Fine," Spike said, trying not to sound grumpy. "On your bloody way then. Not like I'm not busy, too."

"Bye," Xander said, disappearing into the front hall and, from the sounds of it, struggling to put on his boots without sitting down, which always resulted in some cursing.

After the house was quiet, it didn't take Spike long to get lost in the translation he was finishing up. It took the whole morning and he didn't finish until just after one, which left him without enough time for lunch -- and it wasn't until then that he realized Xander'd never called to remind him to eat, which he'd been doing faithfully for the past week. Spike sighed, ignored his growling stomach, and tucked his new spectacles into the pocket of his T-shirt before packing up his stuff and heading out to meet Sarah.

He didn't even think about trying to pop in and see Giles while he was at the Council offices; he'd done that once before when Giles was in a meeting and learned his lesson. Sarah was pleased to see him, though, which was something, and she promised she'd have more work for him the next day.

Spike discovered on his way out that he only had a few pounds on him -- enough to get home, at least -- and that he'd left his bank card at the house. He distinctly remembered setting it on the phone table in the hall.

Without enough cash for lunch and no way to get more, Spike headed back to the house. He could get something to eat there, and then decide whether or not to go out again.

The house felt different, somehow, when he closed the front door behind him. Some sense of caution made him stand still in the hallway, looking around, but there was nothing there that shouldn't have been. Then he saw Xander's work jacket slung over the banister rail and relaxed. Xander must've come back early for some reason. Spike glanced into the kitchen and the living room, but they were empty. Moving quietly in case Xander was taking a nap, and feeling a stirring of concern in case the lad was ill again, Spike went upstairs.

He was halfway up the stairs when he heard Xander cry out, answered by a low murmur that brought another cry from Xander, as if it had been accompanied by an action. Spike felt nothing but bewilderment for an endless moment, but it wasn't because he didn't know what was going on. No. Easy enough to figure that out. Xander was getting fucked and he only ever sounded like that when Giles was the one doing it.

Breathing unevenly, his heart pounding, Spike forced himself to finish climbing the stairs. The bedroom door was half ajar and he pushed it open just enough to see them, just enough to make sure --

Giles and Xander were on the bed, naked, and even in his misery, Spike couldn't help responding to the sight of them. Xander was on his hands and knees, one of Giles' hands tangled in his hair, the other on his hip. Giles was bent over him, his hips moving in a controlled rhythm, thrusting inside Xander in deep, relentless strokes, his voice harsh and desperate as he said Xander's name, telling him he loved him -

Without saying a word, and before either of them could see him, Spike turned and went quietly back down the stairs. He felt... well, he didn't really feel anything. Empty, hollow, like his heart had suddenly stopped beating. Part of him wished it had.

They'd known he was going to be out. Thought he'd be gone a lot longer. Told him they both had busy days planned. Xander couldn't even be bothered to phone him and remind him it was lunch time. All of these thoughts echoed around inside Spike as he reached the foot of the stairs and stood in the hall, listening to Xander as he cried out in release, hearing as Giles came, too.

Giles and Xander didn't need him. He'd known that all along, but he'd let himself be fooled into thinking this was something it wasn't. Now, with the proof that they were sneaking around behind his back, lying to him...

His bank card was right where he'd left it, on the phone table. Spike picked it up and slipped it into his pocket. Then, on second thought, he took his spectacles -- the spectacles that Xander and Giles had taken him to get, that he'd never be able to look at or through without being reminded of them -- and set them on the table beside the telephone.

Spike didn't know where he was going to go.

That didn't stop him from shutting the door just a little bit too loudly on his way out.


Giles sighed with contentment and pulled Xander into his arms. "Love you," he murmured again, realizing that since Spike had become part of their lives, he was saying that a good deal more and finding it easier every time. It was as if Spike, never particularly reticent about sharing his feelings, had rubbed off on both of them, he thought.

He felt a fleeting regret that Spike wasn't with them. Having his meeting cancelled because Appleby's cold had turned to bronchitis had left him with an empty desk, and he'd headed home, after finding out from Sarah that Spike had been and gone, hoping to find him there. He'd been so busy the last few days that he felt as if he'd hardly had time to speak to either of them, let alone do anything like this.

He kissed Xander's shoulder and felt Xander's breathing slow down a little. They'd arrived home at the same time, Xander forced to give up work for the day after a power cut that had affected the whole street and left him working in a windowless room with no lighting and no power tools. Xander had smiled, kissed him, said something about going to take a shower to take care of the sawdust clinging to his body, and Giles had nuzzled into Xander's neck, smelling warm skin and the familiar scent of wood and got hard between one breath and the next...

They'd started right there, moved to the shower, and ended up in bed. Which was, as far as Giles was concerned, the perfect place to spend an afternoon.

From downstairs, there was the unmistakable sound of the front door closing.

Xander turned slightly in Giles' arms and looked at him. "Did you hear that?"

Giles nodded and sat up. "Spike?" he called, and listened. There was no reply.

"Maybe he doesn't know we're here," Xander said, getting up and reaching for a pair of brushed cotton trousers that was on the chair beside the bed. Giles got up as well, putting on his robe in lieu of actual clothes because it was closer, and they went downstairs together.

"Spike?" Xander said, reaching the bottom of the stairs and looking around. There was still no answer, the ground floor as silent as if Giles and Xander were the only ones there.

"Perhaps he just came back in to grab something and didn't hear us," Giles suggested. "Well, he can't have heard us, can he, or he'd have joined us." He stared at the hall table, and then nodded to himself. "His bank card was on the table when we came in; I remember thinking he'd kick himself for forgetting it because he wanted to do some shopping; it's gone now." Giles shrugged. "He must have literally just put his head through the door, grabbed it and left. Damn; we could've all gone somewhere; it's not often we're all free on a weekday."

"He left his glasses," Xander said, frowning and reaching out to pick them up. "Well, maybe he thought he wouldn't need them. I don't think..." He paused. "How could he not have heard us? We weren't being all that quiet."

Giles chuckled. "We weren't being quiet at all," he said. He stared at the glasses Xander held and lost the desire to laugh. There was something a little worrying about them being abandoned on the table when Spike had been so pleased by the difference they made. His headaches had cleared up immediately, and he got the most endearing smile on his face when he looked at something and saw it clearly without having to squint.

"You don't suppose he felt awkward about interrupting us, do you?" Giles said, trying to put himself in Spike's place. "Although you'd think he'd have been so glad to find us here that he'd have just come straight up to join us." Giles gave Xander a questioning look. "I would have, I think," he said, frowning slightly. "Wouldn't you?"

"Yeah," Xander said. "But this is Spike we're talking about here. You don't think..." He looked very worried suddenly. "You don't think he felt left out?" The worried look intensified, if that was even possible. "Fuck. Giles, you don't think he thought we were sneaking around, do you? We weren't supposed to be here."

"I know," Giles said, "but how can it be sneaking around when it's us?" He reached out and rubbed his hand along Xander's bare arm reassuringly. "If he thought you were here with someone else -"


"Well, exactly," Giles said, smiling at the absurdity of it. "But if he heard us, he must've known it was just you and me and -" He held out his hands helplessly. "What's wrong with us making love? It's not as if you and he don't..." Giles' voice trailed away. "Uh, you do, right?" he asked. "Or you have... at some point...?"

"Without you?" Xander asked, giving a little shake of his head. "No. I mean, I guess we could have, but we just.... didn't. It didn't seem... I don't know. And I didn't know how you'd feel about it."

"I'd have wished I was with you both, of course," Giles said, "but it wouldn't have bothered me at all. Why would it? I assumed with you both working so close together that -- well, I just assumed it had happened now and then. I didn't ask because -" He pushed his hand through his hair, flushing slightly. "Imagine it: 'Hello, Xander, Spike, have a good fuck at lunchtime today?' It would've been a little embarrassing, to say the least. And it's not as if it mattered." Giles stared at Xander. "You didn't mind what we just did, did you?" he asked, feeling completely lost and wondering what else he'd been missing, assuming everything was going well. "Didn't feel we were doing something wrong? Oh, Lord, Xander, I hope not!"

"Don't be stupid," Xander said, his tone making it clear that he was the one feeling that way. "We've always... since before Spike was here. It's just different, you know?" He was frowning. "So have you and Spike ever? When I wasn't home?"

"It isn't different," Giles protested. "If this is going to work, Spike can't feel that there's something special about you and me. And I don't see any reason at all for sex to be banned unless all three of us are there. I'm going away next month for a few days; do you and Spike plan on sleeping in separate rooms? Because I can't see you sharing a bed for three nights and doing no more than kiss each other goodnight!" Xander opened his mouth, and Giles guessed what he was about to say and added, "No. We haven't. But if I'd felt like it -- as I did with you just now -- I would have suggested it." He was starting to feel quite indignant now, he realized. "And if he'd said, 'No, I'm not in the mood,' I wouldn't have minded at all, but if he'd said we had to wait four hours for you to get home from work, I'd have been bloody stunned."

Xander looked indignant. "Wait; so now this is my fault? Look, Giles, I'm sorry if this -- the three of us -- isn't falling into whatever expectations you had for it, but it hasn't been that long, and I'd never even considered trying to do -- whatever this is -- before Spike showed up. I figured it would be a miracle if I could have an actual relationship with one person that didn't implode when I was least expecting it. And that when it did implode, it'd be mostly my fault. So yeah, okay, sure. If you want to pin the blame on me, go ahead."

"Your fault? When did I ever say it was your fault?" Giles demanded. "And what expectations? I don't have expectations! I have the two of you, which is more than I'd ever dreamed of, but I don't expect anything. Certainly not for it to all go swimmingly, given our track records, but making difficulties out of thin air like this -" He shook his head. "You couldn't have asked? Said something? It was easier to assume that I'd got all manner of rules about who did what to whom and where?" He heard his voice get louder and tried to calm down. This really wasn't helping.

"I didn't think you had rules," Xander said, sounding miserable and wrapping his arms around himself. He looked up. "Giles... what if I really did screw things up?"

All Giles' anger fled as he saw the shiver that passed over Xander, leaving nothing but concern. Stepping forward, he hugged Xander hard, brushing a kiss over his hair. "God, I'm so sorry, love," he murmured. "And of course you haven't. You haven't done anything wrong at all." Giles pulled back enough to be able to met Xander's eyes. "You do realize that we don't even know for sure that that's what happened?" he said, trying to smile. "We've invented this dire scenario, and it really could just be that he's gone off shopping and he'll be back soon. And when he does get back, we'll get this all sorted out, I promise."

Seven hours later, it was a promise that Giles was beginning to doubt his ability to keep. Spike hadn't turned up with armfuls of shopping. Hadn't turned up in time to start dinner. Hadn't turned up in time for dinner at all, though Giles and Xander had cooked a meal and sat at the table pretending to eat it until Xander had given up the pretense and put his plate in the refrigerator. Eventually, they'd moved into the living room and curled up on the couch together with the television on and both of them listening for the sound of Spike's key in the lock.

"He's not coming home," Xander said finally, when it was nearly midnight. He got up and went to the window, looking out, then turned back around and looked at Giles. "What are we going to do?"

"I don't know," Giles admitted, giving up hope himself. "He could just be in a pub somewhere; one of us could stay here and the other go around the ones he usually drinks at?"

"The pubs will be closing in a few minutes. Besides, he'd be unconscious by now if he's been drinking all this time," Xander said, then looked even more worried. "You don't think he could be at a hospital or something, do you? Should we start calling around?"

Giles drummed his fingers against the arm of the couch. "We could, but there's a simpler way. Unethical and a misuse of power, but I'm not going to lose sleep over it. Not if there's a chance Spike's in trouble." He met Xander's eyes and smiled faintly at the question in them. "Have you forgotten my day job?" he asked. "Head of one of the world's most powerful secret organizations? When it comes to finding people -- well, it's part of what we do, and we're damn good at it. I can track Spike across the globe if I have to, but I doubt it'll come to that. Mystical means or mundane, I can find him."

He stood up and went to make a phone call. It took fifteen minutes to get him an address.

"He checked into a cheap hotel near to Heathrow airport two hours ago," Giles reported, watching the relief on Xander's face change to panic at the implications.

"You don't think he's -- " Xander started, and Giles shook his head.

"The accounts he has access to don't have any credits to an airline as of just now," Giles said. "So if he's planning to leave the country, he hasn't got as far as buying a ticket yet."

Xander looked grim. "Let's get over there before he can."

Part Twelve

Spike stared at the bottle of vodka he was half-way down, clamped in his left hand, and the phone he'd dragged off the table by the bed into his lap. Decisions, decisions... one more drink before he started dialing, or would that tip him over the edge so that his carefully-rehearsed insults, honed over the last few hours, became an incoherent rant?

"You're a total fucking tosser," he said experimentally to the empty air of the hotel room. Sounded all right to him.

The hours of walking, drinking, and putting as much distance as possible between him and the house had dulled nothing of the pain he'd felt as the door had slammed behind him. Nothing. He only had to think of the pair of them betraying him, laughing at him, not loving him like he'd thought they did, and a raw agony ripped through him, leaving him wishing he'd stayed dust in the alley. Too fucking much. Every single fucking time he thought he'd got something right it was taken from him.

"Never bloody learn," he whispered. "Stupid, stupid boy..."

He was too drunk to remember just when Angel had said that to him the first time, but he could remember the last time he'd had those words flung at him, Angel's eyes dark with misery and malice as he pointed at a ticket to England.

Angel. Yeah.

Spike's finger stabbed down hard, pressing out a number he knew off by heart. It rang three times, and then a sleepy voice answered.


"Angel. It's me. Spike. Guess what, you useless wanker, I'm coming home."

"What the fuck are you talking about?" Angel said.

Spike frowned at his feet, wriggling his toes inside his boots, toes which were starting to feel numb. "Seemed pretty clear to me. Sitting here in a hotel near the airport and I'm coming back to fuck up your life the way you've fucked up mine. Seems fair to give you a bit of warning, right?"

He wasn't sure he wanted to go back to the States, but it was starting to seem like a good idea. Not like he had anywhere else to go.

"Yeah," Angel said. "I appreciate that. Because this way I can tell you not to come."

"It's not up to you," Spike said. "You're the one that sent me here. Fucked everything up."

"That makes twice you've said that. What's fucked up?" Angel asked.

"Everything," Spike said bluntly, letting an ounce of vodka slide down his throat and shuddering. "And whose fault is it? Yours, mate, that's who. How about you sending me over to Giles? Get a taste for torturing him, did you? Felt like making him suffer a bit more? Or maybe it was Xander you were trying to hurt. Yeah. Never liked you, did he? Bet that had to stick in your fucking throat."

"I just wanted to get you out of my hair. I didn't even know Xander was there." Angel sounded irritated. "Anyway, they sounded happy enough about having you around when they called me."

"When they what?" Spike said, resting the bottom of the bottle on his knee.

"They didn't tell you? They called me the next day after the last time we talked. Yelled at me, pretty much. Said that they were both in love with you and that if I called again they wouldn't let me talk to you, not even to apologize -- not that I was going to do that anyway."

"They did what?" Spike shook his head, not caring that Angel couldn't see him. "What are you trying to pull, Angel? Why would they do that? They don't love me. Never did. Want to celebrate being right 'gain? Like fucking always?"

Angel's voice was surprisingly gentle now. "Yeah, well... it sure as hell sounded to me like they love you. They were pretty pissed off at me, that's for sure. So... it turns out I was wrong about that. Just don't let it go to your head."

"Won't," Spike said, feeling the words gather and spill from his mouth, bypassing his brain. "Won't, because they've stopped. Don't love me any more, and why the hell should they?" He sighed. "Got each other. Don't need me. Don't want me. Proved it today."

"They came right out and said it?" Angel asked.

"Well... no." Hadn't needed to, had they.

Angel made a frustrated sound. "Look -- I don't have time to talk you through this, and I don't really care what you do as long as you don't come back here."

"It's your fault," Spike said with as much clarity as possible. "And you can bloody well listen while I tell you why, or I'll pack this fucking phone in my carry-on bag and the first thing I'll do when I see you is shove it so far up your self-centered arse you'll call Australia every time you sit down on said fat, fucking arse, okay?"

"Fine," Angel said, sighing. "Tell me why it's all my fault."

As soon as Angel said that, Spike stopped knowing why. It'd seemed really clear in his head, but now it'd gone fuzzy. Like the room. He missed his glasses, even if they did make him look like a prat, he was sure of it.

"If you hadn't sent me here, I'd never have fallen in love with the pair of them, would I?" he said sullenly. "Never mind that, though-" Angel made an exasperated sound, but Spike ignored it. "Why did you call me, anyway? Never did find out." Spike flexed his hand, remembering how it'd hurt. "Made me so fucking angry I put my fist through a wall. Don't recommend it when you're human. Xander was doing up the buttons on my shirt for two days afterwards, because my fingers wouldn't bend right."

There was a pause, during which Spike was aware of the sound of his own breathing and the utter silence on the other end of the line. He knew that Angel, with his vampire senses, would be able to hear him breathing, and he wondered how that felt. "I don't know why I called," Angel said. "I was drunk. Wanted to see what you were up to."

"I'm drunk and I called you because I was miserable," Spike told him, a flicker of curiosity kindling. "Why were you drinking? Not like you found out people you love have been screwing 'round behind your back. Not like you found out they'd been lying to you." He thought about taking another drink, sighed, and put the bottle down. Didn't taste good any more. "And since when did you give a rat's arse about what I was getting up to, as long as I was doing it far, far away?" He sighed again. "Am a long way away, aren't I, Angel? You missing me yet? You think they'll miss me?"

"God, what time did you start drinking?" Angel asked. "Actually, what time is it there? No, never mind. It doesn't matter. And they're not going to miss you because you're not going anywhere. What do you mean, screwing around behind your back?"

Loyalty to Giles and Xander kept Spike silent for a moment before he remembered that they didn't deserve it any more. "Came home. Found 'em fucking, didn't I? Not s'posed to be home. Didn't think I would be. Planned it." He was running out of words now and feeling tired, with the tears anger had held at bay beginning to form in his eyes. "Couldn't wait for me to go, so they could be by themselves again. Just them. That's how they want it."

"Wait," Angel said, sounding confused. "You came home and they were having sex together Just the two of them?"

"Yeah," Spike said.

"But I thought they were, you know, together before you showed up."


"I'm not seeing how that's screwing around on you. Did they tell you they wanted you to leave?" Angel asked.

"Didn't give 'em chance," Spike said coldly. "Heard them, together, in our bed, when they were supposed to be at work. Contrary to what some people think, I know when I'm not wanted, and I got the hell out of there. Probably not the first time it's happened either. Bastards. All they had to do was say. Didn't have to lie about it, make me look stupid. Laugh at me.... "

"Sorry, I don't buy it," Angel said.


"I don't buy that two people who called me up to yell at me for upsetting you -- two people who told me more than once that they were in love with you -- not just that they cared about you -- suddenly don't give a shit." Angel sounded a hell of a lot calmer than Spike felt. "Sounds to me like you ought to give them a chance to explain."

"Fuck off," Spike snarled, refusing to let himself admit that there was a possibility Angel was right. "Like you're such an expert on either of them. Wouldn't have sent me to them if you'd thought for one minute I'd have ended up happy, would you? You thought they'd kick me out. Thought they'd hate me. You wanted them to hate me."

"You're not making any sense, you know."

Spike bit his lip hard enough to hurt, hard enough that he felt it. "Never bloody do, do I? God, I hate this. Should be there with them now. Tucked up between them. That's where they put me, y'know. Sleep between them, and doesn't matter which way I wake up, there's always one of them there, smiling at me and kissing me, and you've no idea what they're like, Angel. Wear me out, they do, but it's not just that. Not just the sex, though God that's so fucking good. We talk and they take care of me. Look after me... God, why did they have to do that to me? Doesn't make sense. Does it make sense to you, Angel?"

"You're the one talking crazy," Angel said. He sounded bored, and Spike thought suddenly that he was wasting his time. Angel didn't care about him any more than Giles and Xander did. Possibly less. So why was he talking to him? Why didn't he have someone else to talk to, someone who did care? Was he really just that fucked up that he couldn't even have a friend?

Spike drank another huge swallow of vodka and almost dropped the bottle as he choked. "I hate you," he told Angel, conversationally.

"Yeah, well, I hate you, too," Angel said. "Which brings us back to the question of why you called me."

Spike took great, savage pleasure in hanging up on Angel without another word.

And less pleasure in realizing that he didn't know what the fuck he was going to do tomorrow, and he'd left everything he owned back at the house. He couldn't even storm off properly, could he. God, he didn't even have his passport! So much for all his threats to visit Angel. Maybe he could hang around outside the house tomorrow; wait for Giles and Xander to go to work, and then he could collect his things. Assuming they weren't already dumped on the step, of course.

In the silence of the room, Angel's words started to play back in his head, bringing a frown to his face. So they'd phoned him, had they? Something else they hadn't told him. He went from being angry that they thought he couldn't deal with a prat like Angel by himself to wishing he'd been there to hear them lay into him. Xander was almost as good as Spike was as the jabs that hit home hard, and Giles knew just how to get under Angel's skin with that lethal politeness of his.

"Bet they made you fucking squirm," he muttered. "Serves you bloody right."

The faint glow from picturing that encounter faded fast. Still didn't excuse what they'd done. He remembered them on the bed together again and his hand tightened into a fist, hearing an echo of Giles' voice, hoarse and passionate, Xander's answering groan of pure pleasure. If he'd been there, he'd have been close to coming just from that, the way the pair of them sounded when they were close. Few nights ago it'd been him Giles was pounding into, every stroke driving him towards coming so hard his fingers ached afterwards from the hold he'd had on the sheets, twisted in his hands.

Warm and slow, the tears gathered and fell from his eyes, blurring the room still further.

The knock at the door was so sudden and unexpected that Spike twitched, but he ignored it. He'd paid for the room, it was his, he could use it as he bloody well pleased.

Another knock, more insistent. Familiar. And then Giles' voice in the hallway. "Spike? Open the door."

"No," Spike said hoarsely. His heart was pounding in his chest, though. Gave him away, even to himself.

"Do you want us to break it down?" Xander.

Slowly, reluctantly, Spike got up, gripping the neck of the vodka bottle in his hand as he went over to the door and pulled it open just enough so that it was unlatched.

Giles' hand curled around the edge of the door, meaning that Spike couldn't slam it without hurting him. "Spike, we're coming in no matter what you want, so I suggest you step back and let us."

"Spike, please," Xander said, sounding desperate. "We have to talk to you."

Spike stepped away from the door and walked over to the bed, turning his back on them both. He lay down again, still not looking at them. "Right. You're in. Now what? Come to make sure I'm leaving? Needn't worry. I'll get my stuff tomorrow and be out of your way -- oh." He glanced up at them. "That's why you're here, is it? Brought my kit with you?"

Looking at them was a mistake. Xander was pale, his eyes huge in his face, and Giles looked furious and loving at one and the same time, which was a combination that got to Spike on too many levels to be ignored.

Xander came right over and got down on his knees on the floor so that his face was on level with Spike's. "We came to bring you home," he said.

"Place is your home, not mine," Spike said. Fuck, he didn't even have a space that was his in that house, other than a drawer in Giles' chest of drawers and the sometimes use of the kitchen table when he was working.

"That's not true," Xander said. "Maybe things haven't been perfect, maybe we screwed some stuff up..." He glanced up at Giles. "But it is your home. Because it's ours, and we need you."

"Yeah? Didn't seem that way this afternoon. You seemed to be managing fine without me." Spike managed a sneer, hoping they couldn't see that he'd been crying. "Didn't even hear me come in, did you? Course, you weren't expecting me to be home. Lot of that going around, right? Because I sure as hell got the impression you two wouldn't be around until later."

"My meeting was cancelled at the last minute," Giles said quietly. "I went home hoping to find you there, actually. It was a coincidence that Xander's building had a power outage and he was there instead."

"We didn't plan it, if that's what you're thinking," Xander added, reaching for Spike's hand and looking hurt when Spike pulled it away. "It just... happened."

Giles made an impatient sound. "Xander, you're not to apologize for what we did." Spike stared up into Giles' face, feeling indignant. Bugger wasn't even going to say sorry?

"Spike," Giles said, his voice tight with what seemed to be anger, and maybe a bit of hurt, "there's obviously been a misunderstanding here. I can't say that I'm pleased with your way of dealing with it, but let's get one thing straight, since you and Xander both seem to share the same erroneous belief. There's nothing wrong about two of us making love when the other isn't around. It isn't a betrayal of any sort, and I'm still trying to work out how you two got it into your heads that it was." Giles sat down on the bed, close to where Xander was kneeling, his face softening a little. "I like the idea that if I'm not there, Xander's got you. In every way. To talk to, to be with -- and yes, to make love with. Why not? We're in a relationship, for God's sake." He reached out to touch the back of his hand to Xander's face, the loving familiarity of the gesture making Spike's eyes sting with sharp tears he blinked away quickly. "This whole thing began because you two couldn't keep your hands off each other; do you really think I expected that to change?"

"Wasn't his fault," Spike said, because somehow it was easier to talk to Giles like Xander wasn't right there. "Was right there, wasn't I? Doesn't surprise me after all this time that people want me. Want this" He ran the hand Xander had tried to hold over his chest and belly to cup his wholly uninterested cock. "Shouldn't have surprised me to find out that that was all you wanted. And then that you didn't even want that anymore." He couldn't look at either of them.

"You know what, Spike? Fuck you." Xander stood up and spat the words out like he hated Spike, and even though that hurt, it didn't seem wrong. "We -- I want you. And not just for the sex. You're the one that's running away, pushing us away. So don't blame this on us." He reached over and wrenched the bottle of vodka out of Spike's hand and took it to the other side of the room, setting it down on the desk hard enough that for a second Spike thought he might have broke it. Then Xander came back over to the bed, climbed onto it and Spike, straddling Spike's waist even as Spike struggled to get away, to get out from under.

Xander's mouth came down hard on his, bruising, not letting up. At first Spike fought it, then, when it became obvious there was no point, he went limp, not participating. As soon as that happened, Xander's lips became soft, coaxing, Xander's hands on Spike's face cradling it, and Spike felt a sob well up in his chest.

"Don't hurt him any more," Giles murmured. Spike wasn't sure which of them Giles was talking to, but the thought of Xander being hurt by him wasn't one he could live with. Surrender was easier than he'd imagined with Xander's mouth kissing away his bewildered resentment and hurt, and he found himself hugging Xander fiercely, kissing him back until Xander broke the kiss and smiled down at him.

"Xander," Spike whispered. "Oh fuck, I'm sorry, love."

"Does that mean you won't do it again?" Xander asked. "Because when you didn't come home..."

"I won't do it again," Spike promised rashly. "Not if you still want me." He was elated, astonished, hopeful. He wanted to take both of them in his arms and hold them, touch them, reassure himself that this moment was real.

"How could you think that we didn't?" Giles asked, sounding mildly exasperated. "You really don't listen very well, you know."

Spike struggled to sit up, helped by Xander moving off his lap to sit beside him. "Giles -" he said, looking at him doubtfully, knowing how Giles reacted when Xander was upset and not sure if Giles was still too annoyed with him to be in the mood to be hugged.

"I love you. I want you. I was worried," Giles said gently. "Now stop crying and come here."

"'M not crying," Spike said with as much dignity as he could manage, moving closer to Giles.

Giles' mouth gave the little twitch that meant he was trying not to smile, and he brushed his fingers across Spike's cheek and held them up. "Yes, you are." He brought his wet fingertips to his lips, kissed them and pressed them against Spike's lips. "Stop. Please?"

"I didn't know," Spike said, genuinely surprised, but then he was in Giles' arms, and Giles was kissing him, and none of the rest of it mattered.

Xander curled around him from behind, kissing the back of Spike's neck, one arm around his waist. "We love you," Xander murmured. "Both of us. I love you, just as much as I love Giles."

"And we're stubborn," Giles said, drawing back just far enough to meet Spike's gaze. "We aren't going to let you go."

"That's right," Xander said. "You're stuck with us."

"If that's what you want," Giles clarified, as though he was worried they were coming on too strong, although he hadn't needed to. Hearing them say that made Spike feel loved, and they couldn't say it often enough for him. "We can talk about it more, sort things out -- anything we need, but just -- don't go."

"You called Angel," Spike said, remembering. "Shouted at him."

Giles and Xander exchanged glances.

"Yeah, we did," Xander said. "Do you mind?"

"Mind?" Spike shook his head. "I was surprised, though."

"We don't want him hurting you anymore," Xander said. "We don't want anyone hurting you. Including us. Which means if we do something stupid, you have to tell us. Not just walk out."

Spike turned his head and rubbed his cheek against Xander's in agreement. He was exhausted suddenly, the combination of the day's emotions and all the vodka stretching him thin and almost dizzy. He clung to Giles' shirt front with his hand, not wanting to let go. "M'tired."

"Yeah, I'll bet you are," Xander said sympathetically. "Here, lie down. Giles, get his shoes?" Spike felt Xander's hand disentangling his own from Giles' shirt and he whimpered -- he couldn't help it. "Shh. It's okay," Xander said, lying down and pulling Spike into his arms, holding him tightly as Giles took off Spike's boots and dropped them onto the floor.

"Don't go away?" Spike said, his voice muffled against Xander's neck.

"We won't," Giles said from behind him, arms warm and comforting, his chest pressed to Spike's back. "Get some sleep. We'll both be here when you wake up."

Reassured, Spike slept.


"You're scraping the wall!" Giles said, wincing as he watched a curl of wallpaper flutter down, gouged out by a corner of the chest of drawers Spike and Xander were trying to carry up the stairs.

"It's heavy," Xander said, his face flushed. "Built to last."

Spike paused long enough to give him a fond look, and then adjusted his hold on the piece of furniture. "Course it will, love. Hundred years from now, it'll be worth a fortune. An original Harris."

"Hey, less with the mocking," Xander said, taking a careful step backwards as Giles held his breath. This time the angle was right and there was a clear inch between the chest of drawers and the wall.

"I'm serious," Spike protested. "You're good at this, Xander. Really are."

"He is," Giles agreed, following them up the stairs to the spare room and watching them maneuver the chest of drawers into place against the far wall. "That's perfect." He pursed his lips. "Well, possibly a little to the left?"

"I'm going with 'perfect'," Spike said firmly. "And if you want it moved, you can shift it yourself, Giles."

The location of the chest didn't matter, Giles decided. What mattered was the happy smile Spike was wearing as he looked at it, his own piece of furniture. A piece of furniture that Xander had made specifically for him. The look of surprise and pleasure on Spike's face when he'd first seen it down at Xander's shop two hours before had made the hours of work more than worth it, Xander had confided to Giles under his breath.

They'd decided to move all three of their chests into the spare room, making it into a sort of dressing area and leaving just a small chest and the closet for their bedclothes. The space this had freed up had left enough room in the bedroom for a writing desk near the window, and a brand new desk lamp, still in its box, was sitting on the floor beside the comfortable chair Giles had ordered through work. It was Spike's very own work space, where he could spread out his papers and not have to clear them every time they had a meal. Xander and Giles had discussed it in private and decided to let Spike choose whether to have the desk in the spare room or the bedroom, and Spike had quickly said he'd prefer the bedroom, then gone on to demonstrate why it was his favorite room in the house by drawing them both down onto the bed and removing their clothes piece by piece.

Kneeling on the floor and opening the bottom drawer, Spike put the jeans Xander handed him in and shut it again. "This really is beautiful, love," he said, running his fingers over the glowing wood.

Xander beamed. "I'm glad you like it."

"Maybe you could teach me how to do it," Spike went on. "Could start off small. A little box, or something?"


Giles rescued Xander, repressing a shudder at the thought of the damage Spike could do to himself if let loose with a saw, hammer and nails. "Did you have any interests when you were younger, Spike?" He thought of the neglected garden behind the house and said hopefully, "Gardening, perhaps? I seem to recall the Victorians were very keen on that..."

"Because I react so well to spending time in the great outdoors?" Spike said, rolling his eyes. It was true that he sunburned absurdly easily, and it was still a struggle to get him to spend any time outside as he adjusted to sunlight exposure again. "Nah. I'm busy enough," he said, but there was something wistful in his voice that had Giles filing away this conversation as something that should be revisited in the near future.

"It looks good in here," Xander said, hands on hips as he surveyed the room. The bed was still there, although they'd talked about replacing it with a couch or something else that would take up a bit less space.

"It does," Giles agreed. He stared at the bed and then smiled, going over to it and sitting down, bouncing on it experimentally. "You're the only one who's ever slept on this bed, Xander. Is it comfortable?"

"Not bad," Xander said with a grin. "I wasn't in it for long. You seduced me and lured me next door, remember?"

Spike chuckled. "Can't blame him for that." He stood up and went to Xander, giving him a quick kiss and then taking his hand and drawing him over to the bed to join Giles. "I'm having trouble imagining you two saying good night and toddling off to separate rooms, though."

"God, it was awful!" Giles said, remembering those early weeks. He turned to them, reaching out for Xander's hand and leaning against Spike, who slipped an arm around him at once. "I used to lie there for hours, wishing I had the courage to knock on your door and say something about how I felt. I'd picture you in bed and feel so guilty for wanting you -" He shook his head. "And you wondered why I was so irritable in the mornings."

"I thought you just didn't want me around," Xander said, grinning, because they'd had this conversation before and it amused them now.

"How'd it happen the first time?" Spike asked. His hand slid up the inside of Giles' thigh slowly, tantalizingly.

"Oh, you know," Xander said. "He just couldn't resist me."

"I kissed him," Giles said. "When he was washing dishes at the sink. His hands were wet and covered in soap suds, and I'd been standing there behind him, watching his arse as he shifted his weight from one foot to the other, and I couldn't bear it anymore."

"He kissed me, and then I kissed him back, and the next thing you know, my hands were on his ass." Xander was smiling as he remembered it.

"And then he just had to take off his trousers, because they were all wet," Spike guessed, not far off the mark. His fingers had slid higher, pressing against Giles' growing erection. "And he put this to good use."

"Not then," Giles said, breathing a little faster because of the look on Xander's face as he stared down at Spike's hand as much as what that hand was doing. Giles had to admit that it was a kink he shared. Spike wasn't keen on watching the two of them for long without joining in, but Giles doubted he'd ever get tired of seeing Spike and Xander kiss and touch and fuck, and Xander always got that intense, aroused look when Giles was with Spike. "Later, yes, but then -- God, Spike! -- I just pushed him against the table and went down on him, and I came just from tasting him for the first time."

Giles arched against Spike's palm, gasping as Spike's hand rubbed slowly along his length. "Have you forgotten how to take down a zip?" he demanded, wanting to feel Spike's hand on his bare skin.

Spike shook his head, clicking his tongue in a reproving way. "That sound impatient to you, Xan?" he said. "Remember what Giles did last time I was in a rush?"

"Eager," Giles said. "Not impatient; eager. Quite different."

Spike didn't seem particularly inclined to tease just then -- his fingers were already pulling down Giles' zip and sliding inside Giles' boxer shorts to touch his cock. "And this was the first cock you ever had inside you," Spike said to Xander, squeezing the tip and making Giles groan.

"Yup," Xander said, watching.

"First one you ever had in your mouth," Spike murmured, sliding to his stomach and giving Xander a perfect view of Giles' cock getting a leisurely lick from Spike's tongue that left it quivering and wet-tipped.

Giles glanced up at Xander, whose eyes were dark with longing, whose lips were slightly parted, then back down at Spike as his tongue slid up the length of Giles' shaft again, toying with the foreskin. Giles' stomach muscles tightened as he waited.

"Yeah," Xander answered hoarsely.

"Wouldn't mind being your first something," Spike said, bending his head to suck on the tip of Giles' cock for just an instant, an instant that had Giles panting. Spike looked at Xander. "Ever been tied up?"

"What?" Xander blinked in what had to have been surprise. "No."

"What about fisted?" Spike asked.

Xander was wide-eyed in a way that Giles had to admit was particularly appealing. "No."

"Good," Spike said, bending his head and breathing warm air over Giles' cock. "Gives us something to aim for, doesn't it."

"What about you?" Giles said, trying to get out of his shorts and pants without disturbing Spike in any way. "Is there something we can do to you that no one else has?"

Spike paused, his hand wrapped around Giles' cock, and smiled at them both. "Keep loving me?"

"We can do that," Xander told him.

"Good enough for me," Spike said softly.

The End

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