Title: One Last Time
Timeline: Two and a half months after Unique Relationship.
Synopsis: It’s Christmas and Ethan returns to Sunnydale.
Author’s Note: wyvernolf wanted the others to find out about Giles, Buffy, and Ethan. That’s what I started to write…and ended up with this. Very special thanks to wyvernwolf for betaing for me again.
“What are you doing?”
Giles looked up at Buffy and raised an eyebrow before glancing back at the rolls of wrapping paper, ribbons, and newly wrapped gifts resting on the table.
“I’m researching a demon. It has been rumoured that this particular demon can be rendered harmless should it be placed in a box and then wrapped in festive holiday themed paper. I don’t quite believe this rumour…therefore, I’m testing it.”
Buffy rolled her eyes as she slid onto his lap. “Funny. But, what I meant was…why are you wrapping presents when we have people coming over in a few minutes?”
“It gave me something to do while you were getting ready.” He answered softly as her fingers straightened his tie.
“You could’ve come in and talked to me, you know…”
He shook his head, his eyes darting to her lips. “I’m rather sure that I would have distracted you from your task.”
“Pretty sure I wouldn’t have minded…” She whispered as she leaned into him, pressing her lips to his.
He allowed the kiss to continue for a few moments…until he felt a certain physiological reaction to her touch. Slowly pulling from the kiss, he gave a soft sigh.
“We, uh…should probably not start this right now.”
“Yeah…” She agreed before climbing off his lap and running her hand through his hair. “And…don’t forget, you promised I could open one of my presents from you tonight.”
He chuckled softly as he stood and lightly fingered one of the large curls resting on her right shoulder. “As if you would let me forget.”
She grinned brightly up at him and shook her head. “Not on your life.”
“Lucky me.” He whispered sincerely as he trailed his fingertips down her arm.
* * *
Giles chuckled as Anya continued to ask questions concerning the upcoming wedding. Buffy sat beside of him on the couch, nestled against his side with his arm draped over her shoulders. He held a glass of egg nog in his left hand, taking a small sip before handing it to Buffy.
“I just don’t understand why you have to have your wedding so close to Christmas.”
“Buffy asked Will to
check the numbers. That was the date
that everything pointed to.”
“Numerology.” Anya snorted. “Did you check the bumps on their heads as well?”
“Huh?” Xander asked, clearly confused.
Giles sighed good-naturedly and shook his head. “Phrenology determines the psychological attributes of an individual.”
“Yeah, and numerology is so much more scientific.” Anya scoffed.
patiently. “I’m marrying Buffy on that
day because that’s the day she picked.
She chose that particular day because it felt right to her. It just so happened that the date she picked
and the date
“But…it’s so close to Christmas. I mean, it’s bad enough that both of your birthdays are in February. Now we have to deal with a wedding anniversary in January?”
Everyone looked confused for a moment and then Xander cleared his throat. “I get it.”
“Care to share with the class?” Buffy asked. “Because…I definitely don’t get it.”
Xander gave her a quick nod and then turned to Anya, placing his hand on her thigh and looking into her eyes. “An, honey…we don’t celebrate their anniversary. That’s something for the two of them to do.”
Anya narrowed her eyes in thought. “It’s not a gift-giving thing? Like birthdays and Christmases and Rashculla?”
Xander smiled and shook his head. “No…and, for the record, we’re the only ones in this dimension who celebrate Rashculla.”
Anya grinned. “And that’s because you love me.”
“Yeah…” Xander chuckled. “Yeah, I do.”
Anya nodded as she considered his explanation and then looked back at Buffy and Giles. “We don’t have to buy a present for you on your anniversary.”
“No…” Buffy drawled out as she shook her head.
“Okay, then I’m good with the date you’ve picked.” Anya stated with a twinkle in her eyes. “I still think numerology is just a way to keep bored witches busy though.”
Hearing Anya try to pull Xander into the argument, he laughed as he opened the door. His laughter ceased, but the smile remained on his lips, as he met the visitor’s brown eyes.
“Ethan.” He stopped himself from pulling the other man into a hug. Just barely. Instead, he stepped to the side and silently welcomed his old friend inside. “Merry Christmas.”
Ethan smiled as he stepped over the threshold. His smile faded when he heard the bickering females.
“Oh…I didn’t consider the possibility that you’d have company tonight.”
Giles shut the door and smiled brightly. “It’s quite alright. Would you care for something to drink? Scotch, egg nog…”
Giles stared at Ethan in disbelief, but gave him a nod anyway. “Tea…”
A grin tugged at the corner of Ethan’s mouth. “Maybe with a shot of Redbreast?”
Giles’ smile returned. This was more like Ethan.
“And what if I don’t have Redbreast?”
Ethan snorted. “For as long as I’ve known you, you’ve always kept at least one full bottle of Redbreast in your liquor cabinet.”
“Fair enough.” Giles wasn’t able to stop the wink he gave Ethan. He didn’t suppose it mattered much. The others were still preoccupied with the debate over the benefits of numerology. “Go on in and have a seat. Maybe you can explain numerology to Anya.”
Ethan stood there for a moment, simply watching Giles as he moved through the living room and into the kitchen. He took a deep breath and scanned the living room, stopping when he met Buffy’s eyes. He offered her a gentle smile and stepped into the room, shrugging off his jacket as he did.
Buffy smiled and stood up, dropping the glass of egg nog onto the lamp table as she started towards him. She stopped suddenly and stood there, aware that she looked like a complete idiot at the moment.
“Hi, Ethan. What brings you to Sunnydale at Christmastime?”
The bickering ended abruptly, everyone turning to stare at the new arrival. Ethan cleared his throat nervously and shrugged a shoulder.
“Would you believe I was in the neighbourhood?”
Buffy chuckled softly, which surprised everyone. Especially Xander and Willow. The others had not experienced the not-so-fun times they had with Ethan Rayne when they were still in high school.
“You know, for some reason I would.” She looked up as Giles returned with a steaming cup of tea. “Tea? You’re drinking tea?”
Ethan’s eyes sparkled as he took the mug. “Irish tea…much like Irish coffee, only better.”
“But, you’re English.” Anya stated, seemingly oblivious to Xander’s unease.
“Very observant of you.” Ethan replied, allowing his eyes to roam over her legs. “And you are?”
“My girlfriend.” Xander answered, his eyes narrowing. “Why are you here, Rayne?”
Buffy rolled her eyes and motioned for Ethan to take the free chair as she and Giles reclaimed their positions on the couch. “Xander, behave.”
“Behave? After everything that he’s put us through?”
Ethan took a sip of the tea, relishing the burn of the alcohol. “Put you through? As I recall, most of my…fun…was directed towards the Watcher and Slayer here.”
“Yeah…and me being Sergeant Major Harris had nothing to do with you at all, did it?”
Xander rolled his eyes and waved a dismissive hand at her. “So not the point, Will.”
“Look…” Buffy interrupted, her voice stern. “Ethan has explained his actions to us. We chose to accept them…and move past them.”
Xander glared at Ethan, but spoke to Buffy. “He hasn’t explained them to me. Or to Willow.”
Ethan took a deep breath, responding in a rich tone. “I do apologize for the two of you getting caught up in my little games with Ripper and Buffy…”
“Rupert.” Xander stated quickly. “He doesn’t go by ‘Ripper’ anymore.”
Ethan chuckled and sipped his tea. “He does when I call him that.”
“Rest assured, all of you…that Ethan is not here to cause problems. I’m sure he’s here for a reason…” He glanced at Ethan, nearly smiling when the other man nodded. “But, it’s nothing that would concern any of you. So…have another drink, argue about the pros and cons of mistletoe, turn the stereo on…Ethan and I will discuss his reasons for being here…”
He leaned over and placed a loving kiss on Buffy’s lips. “We’ll be back in a couple of minutes.”
listening to Xander and Anya bicker as she watched Giles and Ethan walk down
the hall towards the spare room.
She wasn’t sure what she’d say anyway.
Giles closed the door behind him, sighing as he looked around the room filled with boxes, books, and weapons. “Sorry, this is probably the safest place for us to talk…”
“Yeah.” Ethan answered, quickly pushing Giles against the door. “Swords, crossbows…this is a safe place.”
“Ethan…” Giles murmured as Ethan’s mouth found the side of his neck. “We can’t…”
“But, you want.” Ethan pressed his hand against Giles’ groin and grinned. “What do you want, Ripper? Your cock in my mouth? My arse? Do you want to fuck me while I do sinfully sweet things to your fiancée?”
Giles grabbed Ethan’s wrist, pulling Ethan’s hand from his body as he pushed away from the door…effectively pushing Ethan’s back against the nearest wall. Giles stared into Ethan’s lust-darkened eyes, loosening his hold on Ethan’s wrist and sliding his free hand to the back of Ethan’s head.
“God, yes.” He whispered moments before placing a warm, sucking kiss at the base of Ethan’s throat.
He felt Ethan’s groan before he heard it. Smiling softly, he lifted his head and took a couple of steps back. He smoothed his hand down the front of his shirt and shook his head.
“I want, you’re correct in that. But, we can’t…not now.” He cleared his throat and exhaled deeply. “Buffy and I…our friends are here. And…I doubt they would be very understanding of the agreement between the three of us.”
“Later?” Ethan questioned, pushing himself from the wall and glancing at Giles’ groin. “After they leave?”
Giles nodded and placed his hand on the doorknob. “If Buffy says yes. I won’t go against her, Ethan.”
“I know.” Ethan smiled and rubbed his own erection in an attempt to make it subside.
Giles chuckled as he opened the door, gesturing to the bathroom door across the hall. “Perhaps you can take care of that in the other room?”
Ethan closed his eyes as Giles walked out of the room. He opened them slowly when the sounds of the small Christmas party wafted down the hall. He gave himself a moment to compose himself and then walked across the hall and stepped into the bathroom.
* * *
Buffy smiled as Giles walked back into the living room. “Everything okay?”
“Hm? Oh, yes.” He returned her smile and glanced at their guests. “Is it time for presents now?”
Anya was too preoccupied with the idea of opening gifts to ask any questions about the time that Giles and Ethan had spent alone. Because of that, she was able to take Xander’s mind off of it as well, grinning at him as she grabbed the gift she had carefully wrapped for him and dropping it in his lap.
“We have presents to open.”
“Thanks, Giles.” She replied, her eyes drifting to a red spot on his neck. However, before she had a chance to say anything, he had taken the gift and walked over to the couch.
Buffy smiled lovingly at him as he sat down and handed the present to her. “Thank you.”
“Merry Christmas, Buffy.” He whispered, leaning down and brushing his lips across hers. “I love you.”
“I love you too.” She whispered back, before a movement caught her attention.
She glanced at Ethan, who was leaning against the kitchen counter and watching them, and then smiled wider at Giles. “So…is he here for the reason I think he is?”
He gave her a subtle nod, moving his mouth to her ear and whispering only loud enough for her to hear. “Only if you want it as well.”
“Do you?” She asked, slipping her fingers into his hair.
“Yes, love.” He replied after a brief hesitation. “But only with you.”
Buffy was quiet for a minute and then pulled back, looking up into his eyes. “Then I suppose we should get through these presents, huh?”
Giles smiled as she reached behind her and pulled a box wrapped in green paper out from under the cushion, handing it to him as she kissed him again.
* * *
It was another two hours before people started leaving…and it was thirty minutes after that that Buffy, Giles, and Ethan were left alone in the apartment. Each of them were highly aroused…after all, for the past two and a half hours they’d all been thinking of the reason Ethan had stopped by.
“You’re getting married soon, then?” Ethan asked, breaking the silence in the room.
Giles gently rubbed Buffy’s back as he nodded. “A couple of weeks from now.”
After another few moments of silence, Buffy shook her head and laughed. “Why are we all so nervous? It’s not like we don’t know what’s going on…”
Ethan smiled and took a few steps forward. “I wouldn’t say I’m nervous. More like…waiting for permission.”
As soon as the words ‘permission given’ left Buffy’s lips, Ethan was on the move. His left hand groped Buffy’s right breast as his mouth found Giles’ neck for the second time that night. Buffy’s fingers worked on Giles’ belt, groaning softly as Ethan pinched her hardened nipple. Giles gasped as Ethan bit the side of his neck, reaching out to blindly unbutton and unzip Ethan’s jeans.
It wasn’t long before all clothes had been discarded and Giles was watching Ethan pull one of Buffy’s nipples into his mouth. Giles stroked his erection as he dropped a handful of condoms onto the coffee table. He met Buffy’s eyes and smiled as she beckoned him over with a wave of her hand.
Ethan was kneeling on the floor between Buffy’s legs as she sat on the couch. Giles’ eyes were drawn back to Ethan’s mouth suckling her breast. As he moved to Ethan’s right side, he saw what had made Buffy groan suddenly…Ethan’s fingers teasing her clitoris. His eyes snapped to Buffy’s face when he felt her warm hand wrap around his cock and gently tug.
“Come…here…” She moaned as Ethan pushed his middle finger into her.
Giles swallowed, moving forward and kneeling on the couch next to her. He ran his fingers through her hair, his eyes glazing as he watched her lips close around the head of his erection.
Ethan pulled his mouth away from Buffy’s breast, watching as she slid her mouth up and down Giles’ cock. “Fuck, that’s hot…”
* * *
Tara gave a heavy
sigh as she walked next to
“But, what if they’ve
already gone to bed?”
“I’ll check the
Tara gave her the
“Well, the lights are still on. I guess that’s a good sign.”
“Or a bearess?”
But what she hadn’t expected was to see both of them naked…with a just as naked Ethan Rayne. And what she really hadn’t expected to see was naked Giles sitting on the couch with naked Buffy on top of him, her back facing him as she rode him…and naked Ethan kneeling on the floor in front of them, between Giles’ legs, with his right hand mauling Buffy’s left breast…and his face buried between her widely spread thighs.
They weren’t sure how long they’d been standing there…and had they not been in shock, they would’ve found it oddly curious that no one seemed to notice their presence. When Buffy screamed in ecstasy, her right hand on Giles’ knee and her left in Ethan’s hair, Giles groaned and lifted her off of him.
Ethan grumbled as his mouth lost contact with Buffy, but then smiled when Giles’ wet erection nudged his chin. As Buffy knelt next to Giles and fought to catch her breath, Ethan pulled Giles’ cock into his mouth and sucked as hard as he could.
“I know…” Tara pulled her away from the door when she
“I don’t know, Willow. I don’t have any answers…but, now is not the time to talk to either of them about it.”
She didn’t say another word as they walked back home.
Giles woke slowly, his arm tightening around Buffy when he felt her warm lips on his cheek, then his chin before finally touching his lips. She smiled, leaning over him and brushing her fingers through his hair as he murmured softly.
“Hey…” She whispered softly when his eyes opened.
“Hello.” He replied as quietly, sliding his hands up her back. “How are you?”
“Not as tired as I should be…” She answered with a grin on her face. “And I was considering molesting you for a while…”
He raised an eyebrow at her as he smiled. “Molesting?”
“Yeah…you know, the whole taking advantage of you thing…but you woke up.”
He cleared his throat, his smile fading somewhat as she gently shifted until she was sitting next to him, her fingers tracing indistinct patterns on his chest. “You still could…or…we could take turns taking advantage of each other…”
She shook her head sadly and took a deep breath. “Not right now. We’re not the only ones who are awake.”
He glanced towards the stairs, sighing as he smelled the brewing coffee. Her hesitation didn’t surprise him. Each time that Ethan had been included in their activities, Buffy had gently refused to make love the following morning if Ethan was still there. He found her reaction oddly charming.
Sitting up, he rested his back against the headboard and lifted his hand, brushing his fingers through her hair. “Perhaps once he’s gone?”
She met his eyes, her smile slowly returning. Her reply was cut short by Ethan calling up the stairs.
“I’m well aware of the fact that you’re both awake. Coffee’s ready, come on down.”
They laughed as they took their time climbing out of bed and getting dressed. Just as Buffy reached the top of the stairs, Giles reached out and stopped her. As she turned to look at him, she couldn’t help but notice the seriousness in his green eyes.
“I love you, Buffy.” He whispered in a nearly urgent tone.
“I know.” She whispered back as she tilted her head. “And I love you too.”
His eyes darted in the direction of the living room downstairs. As he looked back at her, he swallowed and ran his fingers through his hair. “I…I don’t think we should do this again.”
“I think we’re all in agreement with that, mate.” A deep voice stated from the bottom of the stairs.
When Giles and Buffy both stared down at him, he smiled and gestured towards the kitchen. “As I said earlier…coffee’s ready. So, come on before it gets cold…and we’ll go through all of the reasons that last night was the…last night.”
Giles and Buffy walked down the stairs, hand in hand, and stepped into the living room. Giles narrowed his eyes as he looked around the room and noticed that it was remarkably clean.
“How long have you been up?”
Ethan smiled and handed each of them a cup of coffee. “A while. Your friend, the red-head, came by early this morning…forgot her wallet, it seems. She also seemed to be fairly confused about me still being here.”
“What do you mean?” Buffy asked quickly as she sat down on the sofa, grimacing as the hot coffee burned her lips as she took a sip.
“I believe her words were something like ‘Did you stay here all night? Where did you sleep? Giles and Buffy only have one bed. Why are you really here, Ethan?’” He grinned as he sat down on the nearest chair and rested his coffee mug on his thigh. “She’s quiet a rambler, little red.”
“Why would Ethan make her nervous?” Buffy questioned, blowing across the top of her mug.
“Maybe she wants me to make her scream my name.” Ethan replied with a grin.
Buffy rolled her eyes, causing Ethan to raise an eyebrow. He licked his lips and stared into her hazel eyes.
“I’ve nearly made you scream my name, love.”
“Not as nearly as you’d like to think.” Buffy retorted, smiling as Giles snorted a laugh.
“You couldn’t let me believe I’d been close?” Ethan asked with a smile. “Never mind…we have a discussion to have, I believe.”
Giles sobered and took a deep breath, placing his half empty mug on the lamp table. “I...as much as I enjoy our…well, the time the three of us spend together…”
Ethan leaned forward slightly, his eyes sparkling mischievously. “You can say it, Rupert. You can say how much you enjoy fucking me.”
“I could.” Giles agreed softly. “If I wanted to be crude. But, I don’t. Want to be crude, that is…”
“Now who’s rambling?” Ethan asked as he sat back in his chair. “We’re all adults…we know what we’ve done with one another…we seemingly all agree that this shouldn’t happen again. I’ll tell you my reason if you tell me yours.”
Giles hesitated for a moment, clearing his throat when Buffy slipped her hand into his.
“I have to deal with the guilt each time. Even though we’re all in agreement of what we’re doing, I still feel tremendous guilt. And…I can’t continue this once Buffy and I are married. If I feel this guilty now, it’s only going to get worse once she’s my wife. I just – ”
Ethan interrupted him with a gentle nod, letting him know that he understood, before turning his attention to Buffy. “And what about you?”
Buffy bit her lip and exhaled slowly. “Because I almost kissed you last night.”
Ethan furrowed his brow. “You did kiss me last night. We all kissed each other…”
“No.” She shook her head quickly, tightening her grip on Giles’ hand. “When you first got here…when our friends were here for our little Christmas party. I almost kissed you then.”
“Oh…” Ethan replied, a smile tugging at his mouth.
“I don’t love you. But…I’m always happy to see you. And I think that the edges of our relationships with each other are getting more than a little blurred.” She lowered her eyes and took a deep breath. “And I don’t want to hurt Giles…because I have to watch him work through his guilt. It’s not easy watching him berate himself for something we both took part in…and I can’t do that to him anymore.”
The room fell quiet for a few moments before Ethan finally spoke.
“Fair reasons from the both of you. In fact, your reasons are much more noble than mine.”
He waited until two sets of eyes were looking at him intently before continuing. He finished off his coffee and cradled the empty mug between his hands.
“I’m going back to
Giles heard something in Ethan’s tone. “Ethan?”
“I wanted to…feel…and to be felt while I still had the chance.” He cleared his throat and looked down at the empty mug in his hands. “It’s that simple. Not very noble of me, I know. But, I’ve always been more about pleasure than nobility.”
Buffy and Giles exchanged a quick glance before Giles gently spoke.
“Ethan…what’s going on?”
Ethan took a deep
breath and raised his eyes. “I’m
dying…and I want to go home. God help
me, I don’t want to die in
Buffy squeezed Giles’ hand until he should’ve cried out in pain. However, Giles felt nothing through the shock of Ethan’s words.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
She had waited all day for Buffy to come to her…or to call her. She had even skipped her classes in hopes that Buffy would knock on her door. But, she hadn’t. The sun had set over thirty minutes earlier…and she knew that Buffy would be on patrol.
She had a pretty good idea of where to start looking.
* * *
Buffy had wanted to
stay home. She had nearly stayed home, but she hadn’t patrolled at all over the
holidays. She had been curled up on the couch in Giles' arms, as Ethan took a
shower, when Giles turned the television on in time for the local news. Buffy
sat up when a report was given about a man being mauled by some wild animal.
Buffy sighed and Giles furrowed his brow. Both of them knew that it had been no wild animal, but that it had more than likely been a vampire. And so Buffy had to patrol, leaving Giles with Ethan.
A dying Ethan.
Buffy leaned against a tombstone in the cemetery she was currently walking through and bit her lip. Ethan had scolded her earlier in the day when her tears had begun to fall, saying that he wanted no tears wasted on him.
But, he wasn’t here to scold her now.
Her back scraped against the tombstone as she sagged to the ground, allowing her tears to fall freely.
* * *
A fact which made her angrier with each passing minute.
Buffy looked up and
wiped the back of her hand across her eyes, pushing herself up from the ground
“Will! What is it?”
“I wasn’t running
from anything…I was running to you!”
Buffy wiped at her eyes again and shook her head. “Nothing.”
Buffy heard the curt tone of Willow’s voice and furrowed her brow. “Nothing. I was just doing some thinking – ”
“About what?” Willow interrupted quickly. “Your boyfriend or your fiancé?”
Willow accusingly pointed her finger at Buffy. “How long have you been screwing around with Ethan?”
Buffy’s eyes widened. “What?”
“I saw the three of you, don’t try to deny it. And…how is Giles okay with this? How can he be okay watching his one-time friend have sex with his fiancée?”
Willow’s tone instantly put Buffy on the defensive. Her own anger reared its ugly head and she spoke before she even thought.
“The same way I can be okay watching Giles fuck Ethan. It’s none of your business, Will!”
Willow’s mouth dropped open in shock. Realizing what she had done, Buffy closed her eyes and cursed under her breath.
Buffy shook her head, her hazel eyes not hiding her anger. “No…you have no right to judge me, Will. Absolutely none. What Giles and I do in our private life is none of your concern.”
“But, you…the two of you…and Ethan? How, why…I don’t understand.”
Buffy took a deep breath and blew it out, willing herself to calm down. “I didn’t understand you and Tara at first either…but, I didn’t go all Cruella de Vil on you either.”
Willow furrowed her
brow. "Cruella de - "
She stopped when Buffy gave her a glare and shook her head. "No. No, you don't get to question my references tonight. They make sense to me and that's all that matters. You don't get to make a joke out of it!"
Willow felt her anger quickly subside.
“Why were you crying? Are you and Giles okay?”
Buffy ran her fingers through her hair and sighed. “Giles and I are fine. We’re still very much in love…”
“Last night was the last night.” Buffy whispered emotionally.
Willow bit her lip and then asked the question she wasn’t sure she wanted the answer to.
“Last night wasn’t the first night though, was it?”
Buffy shook her head slowly, causing Willow to exhaled deeply.
“You were crying because last night was the last night?”
Buffy nodded, forcing a new wave of tears back down. “But, not for the reason you’re thinking. Giles and I had already decided it wouldn’t happen again.”
“Then, why?” Willow asked, gently touching her fingers to Buffy’s wrist. “Please talk to me, Buffy.”
“He’s dying, Will. Ethan’s dying…and I was just getting to know the man that Giles calls his friend.”
Willow was quiet for a minute, her head swimming with all of the new information she’d been given. “Where is he?”
“At home…with Giles.”
“And why are you out here and not with them?” Willow asked softly, lifting her hand to brush the hair back from Buffy’s face.
Buffy’s brow furrowed at the concern in Willow’s tone. “And all of the sudden you’re okay with all of this?”
Willow chuckled lightly and shook her head. “No. I’m mad as hell…you should’ve talked to me. And I’m really pissed off that you didn’t. But…you’re my friend, and you’re upset because one of your friends is sick. So…you should be at home with them…and not out here giving vampires a free shot at the Slayer.”
“What are you going to tell the others?”
Willow sighed. “Nothing. It’s not my place to say anything. Besides…I’m not sure how Xander would take the news of Giles and Ethan together. To be honest, I’m not sure how I’m taking it…not well, I imagine.”
“No, not really.” Buffy agreed. She gestured towards the cemetery exit with her stake. “Maybe you should come with me…”
“Um…I’m not sure Giles would be okay with me knowing about this…”
“Do you still love him?” At Willow’s questioning look, Buffy took a deep breath and clarified her question. “Does you knowing what he and I have done with Ethan change how you feel about either of us? Because if it doesn’t…if you still love us both…then I think you should come with me.”
Both of them turned quickly, having not heard Giles walk up to them. Buffy’s eyes widened, the stake falling from her hand to land harmlessly on the ground.
“Giles! Is he…”
“Resting. He’s resting.” Giles answered quickly, darting his gaze to Willow before meeting Buffy’s eyes again. “I…I was worried about you. I shouldn’t have let you patrol tonight…”
“I needed to get out.”
Giles lifted his left hand and caressed her cheek. “You’ve been crying.”
Buffy shrugged a shoulder. “He wouldn’t let me cry in front of him…”
When Giles’ eyes widened in alarm, Buffy moved closer to him and rested her cheek against his chest.
“Willow knows, Giles.”
“I’m sorry?” He answered, flabbergasted by her whispered statement.
“I…forgot my wallet…”
Giles swallowed, wrapping his arms around Buffy as he looked over at Willow. “I know. Ethan said that you dropped by this morning to pick it up.”
Willow cleared her throat. “I, uh…I actually came back last night to get it. The, uh…the door was unlocked, I…well, I didn’t think that…I had no idea…”
Giles closed his eyes briefly and inhaled deeply, his hands gently rubbing Buffy’s back. “You…saw us?”
“I didn’t mean to…” Willow offered quickly.
Giles was quiet for a long time, lovingly stroking Buffy’s back as she cried silently into the front of his shirt.
“I’m rather sure I have no idea what to say.” He stated, looking directly into Willow’s eyes.
The anger that Willow had felt all day towards Buffy and Giles was suddenly gone. She wasn’t sure if it was because it was in the open now or if it had been something in Giles’ tone or something else. But, she did know that she wasn’t angry anymore.
“It’s none of my business, Giles. I was so angry all day…and I had all of these speeches I was going to give both of you.” She reached out and placed her right hand over Giles’ left, stilling his movement. “And it all boils down to nothing. You guys are still my family…and…families have secrets sometimes. We don’t have to know every little detail about what’s going on in each other’s lives.”
Giles shifted his hand slightly, just enough to give himself enough room to slide his fingers over her hand. “Thank you, Willow.”
Willow leaned forward and placed a tender kiss on the side of Buffy’s head. When Buffy held onto him even tighter, Willow looked into his eyes.
“I think maybe you should take her home. It isn’t safe out here for her tonight.”
Giles nodded in agreement, but Buffy pulled away and shook her head, wiping the tears from her eyes. “No, there was a vampire attack last night and I – ”
“Will get yourself killed if you stay out here.” Willow finished for her. “Go home, get some rest…it feels like a quiet night anyway.”
Before she had a chance to argue, Giles gave a quick nod and carefully led her out of the cemetery…Willow on Buffy’s right side.
Giles dropped Willow off at the apartment she shared with Tara before heading home. Stopping for a red light, he glanced over at Buffy to find her staring out the side window.
“Hm?” She murmured, slowly turning towards him.
“Are you alright?”
“He doesn’t look sick.” She stated, ignoring his question. “I mean, he’s lost a little weight, but…not bad. Not like the weight I lost when I had the flu that time. Do you think he looks sick?”
“No.” Giles answered with a sigh.
“So how can a guy who doesn’t look sick at all…or act like he’s sick…only have two to three months left? And…how the hell is that fair?”
“I’m just learning about the real Ethan, Giles.”
“I know.” He whispered, reaching over and placing his hand on her knee.
“There has to be something that we can do. I mean…you and Will could – ”
Giles shook his head, interrupting her with his gentle voice. “No magick, love. His illness isn’t mystical…”
“He’s giving up.”
Giles sighed, shifting the car into gear as the light turned green. “He’s not exactly giving up, Buffy.”
“He’s refusing treatment.”
“The treatment isn’t a cure…and is nearly as detrimental to his health as the illness itself.”
Buffy grew quiet and stared out the window. He heard her murmur something, but was unable to make out her words.
“I’m sorry?” He asked as he pulled into his parking space and killed the engine.
She took a deep breath and turned back towards him, her eyes glistening with unshed tears. “Don’t ever get sick…not like this. Because I really don’t think I could survive watching you…God, I can’t even say it.”
He unbuckled his seat belt and quickly unclipped hers as well, pulling her into his arms. She clung to him, pressing her lips against the side of his neck as she pushed him against the back of his seat and crawled onto his lap.
“Buffy…” He groaned as her teeth gently scraped against his skin. “Christ, love…not here, not like this…”
“I want you, Giles…” She murmured as she moved her right hand down the front of his chest.
He grabbed her wrist just as her fingers grazed his burgeoning erection. “You can have me, Buffy…but not here. Please…let’s go inside.”
“I love you.” She whispered, pulling her hand free from his grip.
“I love you too, Buffy.” He lifted his hand and gently stroked her cheek. “Please, let’s go inside.”
She nodded slowly, carefully extracting herself from his lap. “Okay.”
He pulled the keys from the ignition and smoothed his hand down the front of his shirt. He turned towards her, sighing softly as she opened the car door and stepped out.
He couldn’t promise her that he’d never get sick…he couldn’t promise her that she wouldn’t have to watch him die. He knew that logically she knew that…he also knew that the news of Ethan’s illness had rocked her.
She didn’t love Ethan, but she did care about him. She considered him a friend, and she had just learned that her friend was dying. And he would hold her and comfort her…in the best way he could.
* * *
Giles held the front door open for Buffy, smiling softly as she stepped inside. His smile faded when Buffy’s eyes widened.
“What are you doing?”
Ethan turned and smiled at Buffy, glancing at Giles. “You didn’t have dinner…I thought the two of you might be hungry. I know I am.”
Buffy shrugged out of her jacket as Giles closed and locked the door. “You should be resting, Ethan.”
Ethan groaned and leaned against the counter, crossing his arms over his chest. “You see, this is why I didn’t say anything earlier. I’m not an invalid, Buffy. I would think that you would’ve realized that last night.”
Buffy rolled her eyes at his smirk and pointed to the couch. “Sit down.”
Ethan’s eyes drifted to her legs before resettling on her eyes. “You planning on sitting with me? Or…on me, maybe?”
Giles chuckled and hung his keys up on the hook next to the door. Ethan turned his gaze to Giles and grinned.
“Don’t you just look adorably rumpled. Have a quick shag on the way home, did you?”
Giles raised an eyebrow at him and tilted his head towards the couch. “Sit down, Ethan. I’ll finish up dinner.”
“For fuck’s sake, Ripper, I’m not a fucking charity case!” Ethan exclaimed, pushing away from the counter.
“I know. You’re a guest…and guests in our home do not cook dinner. They sit and relax. This has nothing to do with you being sick and everything to do with me wanting to be a good host.”
“Oh.” Ethan offered lamely, clearing his throat as he gestured towards the stove. “It’s almost ready…it’s nothing exotic or anything.”
Giles smiled warmly as he sniffed the air. “Scouse.”
Buffy narrowed her eyes and stared at them. “Scouse? What is scouse?”
“It’s a type of lamb stew.” Giles replied. “It’s popular in Liverpool and North Wales…”
Buffy shook her head in confusion. “One, you’re both from London…or the suburbs of London, anyway. Two, why do the English have to call their food such weird names? I mean…what’s wrong with calling it lamb stew? Sounds better than scouse.”
“At least I didn’t make spotted dick for dessert.” Ethan chuckled softly as Buffy’s eyes widened. “I was going to, but Rupert never liked it. And, to answer your question, my father was Liverpudlian…made his way to the city when he was still a teenager.”
Ethan turned his head as the timer dinged. As he started to make his way back to the kitchen, Giles moved forward and grabbed his arm.
“I can finish, Ethan. I remember the routine. Please, sit down…”
Ethan heaved a heavy sigh and pulled his arm from Giles’ grasp. He trudged over to the couch and flopped down on the cushions.
“Fine…you finish it up and I’ll just sit here like – ”
“Our guest.” Buffy interrupted quickly as she sat down beside of him. “Trust me, Ethan…he’d do this anyway.”
Ethan rolled his eyes, but nodded in agreement. “I know. And normally it wouldn’t bother me, but…”
He trailed off and glanced over at Buffy. “Aren’t you supposed to be on top of me instead of beside me?”
Buffy snorted and shook her head. “That was your scenario, not mine.”
Ethan regarded her carefully, lifting his hand to gently brush his fingers through her hair. “You really are quite lovely, you know.”
Giles turned around when he heard Ethan. “She’s marrying me, Ethan…”
Ethan grinned, lowering his hand and turning his gaze to Giles. “And I wouldn’t dream of trying to change that. It was just a compliment…or is it that you’re fishing for one too? Because you don’t have to fish…you know that you’re lovely as well.”
Giles rolled his eyes and turned back to the steaming pot of stew.
Ethan chuckled and turned his attention back to Buffy. “If we hadn’t made a mutual agreement this morning, I’d kiss you right now.”
Buffy swallowed and tilted her head. “But, we did…make an agreement.”
Ethan smiled as he watched her eyes darken slightly. “Yes, we did. However, we could always make an amendment…if you wanted to.”
He slid his fingers along her denim clad thigh as he continued, his voice thick and heavy. “I could be inside of you right now, my mouth stuffed full with Rupert’s cock…you could suck his balls while he fucked my mouth…”
The sound of the metal spoon in Giles’ hand dropping onto the stovetop rang loud in the room. Ethan looked over at Giles, smiling as he watched Giles turn the eye of the stove off.
“What about you, Rip? Sound good to you?”
Giles walked into the living room, shaking his head as he met Buffy’s eyes. “Buffy, I…”
Ethan smiled, understanding Giles’ reluctance. “Or…you two can finish what you obviously started in the car…and I can sit here and pretend I’m a Watcher.”
Buffy turned her head sharply towards Ethan. “You want to watch us?”
Ethan licked his dry lips and sighed softly. “Oh, I’d much prefer to do more than watch…but, we should probably adhere to our agreement as best we can.”
Giles shook his head as he sat down on a stool in front of the breakfast bar. “I…don’t think that would be a good idea.”
“Why not?” Ethan asked, moving his left hand to cover the prominent bulge in his jeans. “You’d have nothing to feel guilty over, Buffy wouldn’t feel bad about you feeling guilty, and I would – ”
“Still be dying.” Giles finished in a hoarse whisper. “And then my last memories of you would involve you sitting there watching…because you’re too tired to do anything else. I can’t do that, Ethan.”
Ethan was quiet for a moment before taking a deep breath.
“What if I told you that I’m not dying? What if I only said that because it was easier than to admit that I’d fallen in love with you…because I know that this can’t continue once you’re married?”
Giles narrowed his eyes as his back straightened. “Then I would try extremely hard to not thrash you. But, I can’t promise that I would be successful.”
“You’re not sick?” Buffy asked accusingly.
Ethan ran his hand through his hair and swallowed. “I am sick. And I am dying.”
“Then why on earth would you say something like that?” Giles questioned, moving from the stool to the coffee table. “Ethan…”
“Because it’s all true.” Ethan admitted softly, lowering his eyes and folding his hands in his lap. “I’m sick, I’m dying…and I’m in love with you. And I know this has to end.”
Giles’ eyes widened. Whatever he had been expecting Ethan to say, it wasn’t this.
Ethan’s eyes glistened as he glanced up at Giles briefly, lowering his eyes once more as he continued. “I’d never intentionally come between the two of you. I know how much you love her…and how much she loves you. You two are right for each other. You always had been…but, strangely enough, it took the three of us having sex together for you both to admit it.”
“I…” Giles started, but didn’t know how to continue.
Ethan sighed and shook his head. “I was here for you that night, Rupert. Neither of us were expecting Buffy to come in. I’ve grown to care for Buffy very deeply as well, but…it’s always been about you.”
“Ethan, I…I don’t know what to say.” Giles whispered.
“There’s nothing to say, Rupert.” He raised his head and offered Buffy a gentle smile. “I honestly meant it when I said that you’re lovely. I do care for you, you know.”
“I know. And I care for you too.” Buffy stated as she returned his smile. “But, him? He’s mine…”
Ethan chuckled and leaned into her, placing a soft kiss on her lips. “I know. I wouldn’t dare try taking him from you. It would be a lost cause on my part.”
Ethan turned his eyes to Giles and smiled. “I know you don’t love me, Rip. I’m okay with that. But, I thought you should know the real reason I think it’s best if we stop this.”
Giles raised an eyebrow. “You still think it’s best if we end this part of our relationship, however…you were the one coming on to Buffy.”
Ethan smiled and shrugged a shoulder. “I do think it’s best…but, it doesn’t mean I have to like the decision.”
Ethan turned abruptly towards Buffy and tilted his head. “Did Willow find you?”
“Huh?” Buffy asked, surprised at the sudden change of conversation.
“Willow. She knows, you know? I’m not sure how, but she does know.”
“Oh.” Buffy sighed, carefully moving from the couch to sit beside of Giles on the table. “She kinda saw us last night.”
“Kinda?” Ethan asked, a mischievous smile on his lips.
Buffy rolled her eyes, causing Giles and Ethan both to laugh.
And just like that, the moment was broken. There was no more need to discuss the new revelations tonight. Those discussions would most certainly happen at a later date. Possibly after the wedding, which Ethan had promised to attend. But first, Buffy was curious as to what Ethan’s scouse tasted like.
Buffy smiled as Giles and Ethan began trading stories of their youth. She stood up and made her way into the kitchen, pulling three bowls from the cupboard and filling them with the still hot stew. She looked over at them and smiled.
Ethan had stated that he was going back to England, that he didn’t want to die in America. But, maybe…just maybe…she and Giles would be able to change his mind. England was his home, she understood that. But, the question was would he rather die at home, alone…or would he rather die here, with the two of them at his side.
She pulled three spoons out of the drawer and chuckled softly as she overheard Ethan laughing about the time that Giles had called the police while in a drug-induced paranoia. She placed the full bowls on the bar and watched them laugh together.
Now wasn’t the time to bring up her idea. Now was the time for a nice English dinner and tall tales. Later, it would be time for making love to her fiancé…and maybe Ethan would watch.
Or maybe he might join in…one last time.