The moaning began at exactly 1:03 a.m. Giles knew because he was lying awake, watching the clock's red numbers progress. All the digits were formed with only six line segments. He'd never noticed that before.
Spike's words still reverberated in his head, telling him he was old, unnecessary, jealous. It was all true. Giles' days were spent babysitting the potentials or going on little information-gathering missions that produced nothing, that anyone could have performed. He was a hanger-on, a guest who'd worn out his welcome and hadn't the sense to go home. Even Xander, half-blind and hurting and useless in any physical battle, was more integral. Even Spike was more needed, more trusted, more loved.
Was it jealousy that had made him want Spike dead? His reasons had seemed sufficient at the time, but now all the force and rightness had gone out of them. He'd been, perhaps, a bit mad. Madness would explain a lot. It would explain why he'd helped to throw his Slayer out of her own house, and let Faith take her place. Nothing else explained it. He hated everything about Faith. He loathed her miasmic, permeating sexuality, her smugness, her sociopathic charm. Halfway through today's meeting he'd been tempted to beat her into silence. The day's only gratification had come when Spike did it for him.
The moaning was getting louder. He could recognize Faith's voice now, and then Robin Wood's. That explained where Robin was. All of the men except Spike were sharing a bedroom, but tonight the others had disappeared. Giles had been happy to have some privacy for once, but the sound effects from next door were ruining that brief pleasure.
Oh, bugger, now there was moaning from the other side as well, from Willow and Kennedy's room. He couldn't possibly stay here and listen to this. He threw on jeans and a t-shirt and made his way down the dark stairs.
Things were no better there. The living room was full of whispering girls, twittering and rustling like birds, and there was more moaning coming from the kitchen. Going outside was not even to be considered. Which left the basement. Not a very cheerful setting, especially since he'd slit a bringer's throat there earlier today. Still, needs must.
He was halfway down the stairs before he saw that he'd have no chance to be alone here either. Andrew was stretched out on the cot, reading a comic book and eating a Hershey bar. Hearing footsteps, he looked up quickly, fearfully. "Oh, hi, Mr. Giles" he said. "I thought--you scared me for a second. I mean, I thought maybe it was the First. Not that-"
"Well, it's only me."
"It's kind of creepy down here. I keep hearing these noises, like in a horror movie right before the killer jumps out. I bet Spike never got scared though. It must be cool to be a vampire, 'cause even Freddy or Jason would be scared of you."
What on earth was he talking about? Giles said nothing.
"Can't you sleep either?" Andrew asked unexpectedly. It was a long time since anyone had come even this close to asking about Giles' welfare.
Giles walked the rest of the way down the stairs and stood awkwardly in the middle of the room. "No." He could have said something vague and polite then, about not wanting to disturb Andrew, and gone away. But he didn't. "Would you mind my company for a while?"
Andrew smiled delightedly, as he did whenever anyone addressed a non-insulting word to him. He had a very fetching smile. "That would be great. You're nice. You seem scary and mean, but you're really nice. Like Captain Picard." He sat up, making room for Giles, who placed himself a careful two feet away. "Nobody else is nice to me here." Andrew's smile lost its childish openness, became enticing, needy, vaguely pornographic. He smiled like Lolita.
Giles removed his glasses, cleaned them, tried to rub the tension out of his neck, tried to forget the sounds of sex and the feedback loop they'd set off in his body. Andrew was still smiling at him.
The boy was gagging for it. His eyes caressed every man in the house, pleading for a response, a touch, anything. They all--Spike, Xander, Robin, even Giles--got the same look, full of breathless attention and telegraphed yearning. And Giles, god help him, had looked back.
How could he not? Andrew was so young, so blond, with sad pretty eyes and lips that asked to be bitten. He moved bonelessly, like a snake, in a way that promised pliability of all kinds. And he was so transparent, his desires so clear.
Giles had looked back, but didn't, he knew in honest moments, really see Andrew. He saw every temptation he'd fought or ignored or reluctantly set aside for the sake of responsibility. He looked at the boy's slight body tied to a chair and saw Spike chained in his bathtub, bored, available, ready for anything. He heard Andrew's nervous giggle and baffling references to American pop culture and remembered Xander as a boy. Xander had been bouncing, affectionate, almost irresistible. It had taken cruelty, harsh words that Giles was ashamed to remember, to keep him at a safe distance.
Most often, and most horribly, Giles look at Andrew and saw Ethan. The beauty, the vulnerability that urged protection and abuse equally, the selfish, boyish longing for power. Andrew was besotted with magic, and only intermittently sorry for the blood he'd spilled. He liked to see himself as a dark mage, as a lord of Chaos, as evil at its most glamorous. As everything Ethan had been.
Of course, compared to the real thing Andrew was weak tea, light beer, whiskey profaned with water. He was Ethan minus. Minus his magical gifts, his razor intelligence, his wild daring, minus everything that had made Giles love Ethan, once. Yet at odd times, when the light fell a certain way or Giles' mood was particularly hopeless, the resemblance coalesced, ghostlike, out of some ectoplasm of chance and memory. Giles looked at Andrew and remembered a time when Ethan could yet have been saved, before he went all the way into Chaos. Ethan had only needed a strong hand, and Giles had failed him.
Andrew needed a strong hand. His fitful impulses towards redemption weakened a little with every rejection from the righteous little band of heroes he lived with. But Giles couldn't flatter himself. He was no redeeming angel, not with a conscience that already creaked and strained under its load. Whatever hand could lift Andrew up, it wasn't his. He didn't want to give redemption. He didn't want to give anything.
Andrew was still talking. "I know I did really bad stuff," he said. "But they don't have to be so mean about it all the time."
Not very bright, really. And no moral sense at all.
No, perhaps that wasn't fair. Andrew had done far less evil in his life than Spike, or even Faith, and not much more than Giles himself. Yet he was the outcast. He's our scapegoat, Giles thought. He bears all the crimes we can't stand to carry on our souls or look at in each other's eyes. Poor lad, no wonder we all detest him. Would it be so bad to give him a little comfort?
Then he had to laugh at his own hypocrisy. He didn't want to comfort Andrew, he wanted to fuck him. He wanted him with the accumulated force of too many self-denials. Denying himself again would take more courage than he had left. The world might end in the next few days. Even if it didn't, Giles doubted he'd survive. Andrew's body might be the last bit of pleasure for him on earth, and he was going to take it.
Andrew's blue eyes widened when Giles caught his chin and tilted it up, and his mouth made an O of surprise. Then his eyes fluttered closed, for all the world like Blanche Dubois with an attack of the vapors, and his lips opened under Giles' kiss. He tasted of cheap chocolate, and his mouth was slack and too wet. Soon, though, he began to respond, making sounds of acquiescent pleasure as Giles' tongue thrust into him, a mouth-fuck rather than a kiss.
Giles started tugging Andrew's shirt up, but stopped when the boy twisted under his hands and giggled. The giggle was more nervous than usual. Fucking hell, he wasn't a virgin, was he? Let him not be a virgin. It was too complicated.
"I never . . ." Andrew said, confirming Giles' fear.
Well, if he was a virgin, what difference did it make? Might as well be hanged for a lamb as for a sheep, Giles thought, with a bitter laugh that was purely internal. "Then I'll be your first," he said, stroking Andrew's back through the shirt, then reaching under to brush bare skin lightly with his fingertips. "I'd like that," he lied. More soft touches up the spine, caressing that babyish innocent skin, and Andrew shivered and his lips parted. "I'm surprised, though," Giles added, putting a hand on his thigh. "A lovely boy like you." That much at least was true. All he'd have had to do was go to a bar. Men would've been queuing up.
Andrew giggled again. He was blushing a vivid red in the harsh, unshaded light. "I was kind of in love with Warren for a while. But he liked girls."
Oh god, little boy, don't talk about love. Don't mistake this for love. Giles kissed him again, to stop him talking.
The shirt came off without resistance now. Not a bad body, though a little boyish for Giles' taste. Andrew could have passed for fifteen, although he couldn't be much younger than Xander. An image flashed into Giles' mind of Xander and Andrew locked together, dark and fair hair mingling as they kissed, and he clung to the thought for a moment. He might be dead tomorrow, so why not entertain every dirty fantasy, every longing he'd ever denied or been denied?
He'd had men sometimes. But never in Sunnydale, where he was the Watcher and protector. There was no one in Sunnydale he could fuck without consequences. He'd averted his eyes, controlled himself, shut the closet door tight, and slipped off to Los Angeles for a weekend sometimes when the need became unmanageable. Now, though, the world was ending, and he couldn't protect anyone, and he no longer cared about consequences. For once he'd have something he needed.
He pressed Andrew back onto the cot, licking his neck and grinding his own erection against the boy's. A hand over Andrew's mouth quieted his cries. Of course he would be noisy. This couldn't be simple and easy. "I want you," he said into Andrew's ear. "Tell me I can have you. Tell me I can have what I want."
"Anything," Andrew said indistinctly through the muffling fingers. Giles felt the boy's hands on his arse, kneading the flesh, pulling his hips down as Andrew thrust upwards against him. Christ, he wants it, Giles thought. He wants me. He wants me to fuck him. And there's no sodding lube, and spit's not enough. Not for his first time. Bugger, bugger, bugger. I want to take him. I want everything, and even now I can't have it.
He rolled off, opened Andrew's jeans and took out his cock, remembering just in time to clamp a hand over his mouth again. Andrew was already close to coming, as the movement of his hips and his harsh, irregular breathing showed. He was too young and inexperienced to last.
Giles ran his tongue up the shaft, hearing Andrew make soft, choked noises. Pity they circumcised him, he thought as he reached the head, why do American parents do these things? Cautiously, slowly, he took the cock in his mouth, moved up and down a few times until Andrew was holding his breath, teetering on the edge. Ignoring a mewl of protest, Giles stopped and pulled his own cock out. He remembered, then, that he had no condoms. Fuck. The world was ending. What was a little moderately unsafe sex, compared to that?
"Put your mouth on me, Andrew," he said. "Like I did. Make me come, and then I'll do it to you some more. I don't want you to come too soon, it's better to wait." Another lie. His own need was killing him, and he wanted Andrew hungry, eager, not dazed with orgasm.
He let Andrew kiss him for a moment, then pushed his head down and down until his lips were brushing Giles' cock. The boy hesitated, and Giles reached down and pulled his foreskin back. "Go on," he said, closing his eyes.
Heat and wetness enveloped his tip, then, slowly, more, until the boy had taken as much as he could. He didn't move, though. Giles was going to have to talk him through it, when all he wanted was to lie back and receive. "Good," he said. "Now just move up and down. Watch out for your teeth, though. Don't bite me." Andrew obeyed, slowly at first. "A little faster. That's good. And use your tongue, too." A tongue swipe in response made him gasp. Andrew moved faster, making Giles grit his teeth and hiss as he worked the base of his cock in rhythm with Andrew's mouth. He wanted to thrust but held still as the need built, as his whole body, his whole life became his cock and the hot wet movements. Then he was there, exploding with a force like dynamite, coming violently into Andrew's mouth. Andrew choked a little, but didn't pull away, and swallowed his sperm with a willing gulp. No doubt he'd been fantasizing for years about a man coming in his mouth.
"Now," Giles said as Andrew lay back beside him, "I had some unfinished business with you." He reached for Andrew's cock and found it still hard, with a young man's exuberant, belly-grazing erection. Giles licked and tasted Andrew's skin on the way down, covered Andrew's mouth again, and drew in his cock. He held the boy's hips down when he tried to thrust, wanting to draw it out for him a little. It was his first time, after all. Gradually he moved faster, stroking along the underside of the shaft with his tongue and then, very lightly, his teeth. Andrew's whole body went rigid with tension, he moaned loudly under Giles' hand, and shuddered in orgasm. Giles swallowed--there was nowhere to spit the stuff--and wiped his mouth on his shirt.
He started to sit up, but Andrew pulled him into an embrace that he didn't quite have the heart to refuse.
"It's funny," Andrew said with a giggle. "I don't even know your first name."
Giles felt a clenching in his stomach that might have been shame. He despised himself for taking advantage, and the boy for being so easy to take advantage of. For being so desperate for love. And this was not love. Andrew embodied every temptation, every sin Giles had committed or desired, every loveless fuck he'd ever had. Every bit of ruin that had followed his one vast, mistaken love.
If you didn't remind me of Ethan, he thought, you'd have been safe from me. I could've kept away. Or maybe I'd have been able to care for you, a bit. But probably not.
"Calling me Giles is fine," he said. "That's what everyone else does."
Andrew's face fell, but still he was nestled against Giles' body, stroking his chest like a lover. "You know magic, don't you? Would you teach me?" he asked. "I bet you know lots of cool stuff. Spells and curses and everything." He smiled greedily.
Giles felt relieved, in a way. What he had to do next was now much easier. "I'm going back upstairs, Andrew. I need to get some sleep." It should be quiet, now, and he felt a good deal less tense.
He pulled out of Andrew's arms, avoided his kiss, and stood up. In a moment his jeans were fastened, his shirt smoothed, his hair restored to order. He was as neat and composed as if nothing had happened. "Andrew, I'd appreciate it if you didn't, well, mention this to anyone. It would be awkward, you know." Not the gentlest of brushoffs, but he'd tried. A little.
As he climbed the stairs he knew Andrew was watching him. Knew, somehow, that the boy would start to cry as soon as he was alone. But there was no help for it. The world was ending, and anyway it had been a lifetime since Giles had love to spare. Andrew would have to bear the sorrow and longing and humiliation as best he could. That was what scapegoats did.