Secret Slasha – The Buffy the Vampire Slayer & Angel Slash Fanfiction Secret Santa Project
Secret Slasha – The Buffy the Vampire Slayer & Angel Slash Fanfiction Secret Santa Project

Five Gold Rings
By Wolfling & Magpie
For KindKit

Saturday, 20th December

Well, that had been disappointing.

Back when Ethan had been in the business of creating happy -- or not so happy -- mayhem, he would have been ashamed at such lacklustre trickery. There was so much thrilling potential for chaos in a huge toyshop such as Hamleys that a spell to constantly move the stock around the shelves seemed embarrassing in its unadventurousness.

He caught up with Rupert, who had just finished talking to the manager, and said dryly, "Someone needs to take these young wannabes in hand and teach them that the first rule of Chaos is -- never be boring."

"That was never a problem of yours," Rupert admitted with a wry smile. "But professional pride aside, I would prefer that they didn't get too... creative."

Ethan knew better than to argue, although he didn't fully agree. There was no challenge in resolving such a simplistic puzzle as this one had been. "Well, while we're here, shall we take a look around? There are only five shopping days left before Christmas, after all."

"You've certainly been getting into the spirit of the holiday," Rupert observed, as they started wandering down one of the aisles at random.

He felt a moment's uncertainty. "Am I going too far? It's just..." It was just that Ethan hadn't had anything approaching a 'proper' Christmas since his days with Ripper in London, and even then, it had hardly been traditional, as tradition was what they'd been so busy flouting. 'Proper family Christmases' Ethan knew only second-hand through watching dodgy sitcoms and over-sentimental films.

It wasn't exactly that he felt the lack, he told himself, more that he wanted to make sure Megan found out what it was like to have a loving and fun Yuletide for the first time.

"It's fine," Rupert was quick to reassure him with a smile and a brief brush of his hand against Ethan's arm. "Although it's a bit surprising; I don't think in the old days that I'd ever have predicted your keenness for all the bells and whistles of the season."

"I want to make it nice for Megan and Kat," Ethan insisted.

"And for us?" Rupert asked, as his smile grew knowing. Ethan just looked at his husband, not wanting to admit out loud that this was important to him. Rupert glanced around them, then back to Ethan. "So this looks like the type of place where we can pick up a few bells and perhaps some whistles as well."

"There has to be something here we can get for the young at heart amongst our little clique." Ethan grinned, carefully not saying who they might be.

"Like a Scalectrix racing set?" Rupert asked with an air of innocence.

Ethan looked askance at Rupert. "I've noticed you there with me every time I play with that, you know."

"It's a lot safer than doing it in a mini."

"Hmm." Ethan considered that. "That spell would probably work on my little metal cars. You know, that spell."

Rupert gave him a look. "Much as I'm sure Gwydion would enjoy chasing tiny flying cars about the living room..."

Ethan chuckled, as he loved the idea, but, "Well, I couldn't cast it anymore, formal spells no longer being my oeuvre. So unless I can persuade you that we just have to have such things..."

"I don't think even your powers of persuasion are up to that particular task. Why don't we look for something a bit less fraught with temptation like..." Rupert looked around, then laughing, picked up a cuddly fox from a nearby shelf... "This."

Ethan crimped his lips, trying very hard not to smile, and just stared at his husband.

Looking as whimsical as Ethan had ever seen him, Rupert held out the fox to him. "Merry Christmas?"

He started to hold his hand out for the toy, the cuteness of which he was in no way admitting even to himself, when his gaze flickered over something on the shelf beside Rupert. He made a detour to pick it up. "Happy Christmas to you too, dearheart." He grinned as he exchanged a fluffy little badger for his fox.

Rupert chuckled as he looked down at the toy in his hand. "There are worse things to get for first gifts between us."

"They can cuddle up somewhere warm together and have dodgy cross-species liaisons." Ethan pressed a quick kiss upon Giles' cheek, ignoring the shoppers milling around them.

"Or watch us have dodgy same-species liaisons," Rupert suggested, as they began heading back down the aisle towards the cash desk. "If we keep them in our room."

"They can keep the bed warm while we're not there." Ethan heard himself suddenly and... didn't wince. He wasn't sure why not. However, "No one must ever know about this."

"It does take some of the mystique away from the Head of the Council and his lover, the reformed Chaos mage, doesn't it?"

"If anyone asks? They're Megan's."


Sunday, 21st December

"I must be insane to have suggested this," Giles muttered, as the cab they were in threaded its careful way through the abundance of West End traffic.

Ethan patted Giles' leg encouragingly. "Really, dear, if you are going to brave Harvey Nicks so close to Christmas, you couldn't possibly be in better company." He grinned. "I wonder if they remember me."

In the old days, Harvey Nicks had been one of Ethan's favourite shops to nick stuff from, and there had been more than one close call. "If they do, this is going to be the shortest shopping trip in history," Giles replied dryly, although he dropped his hand on top of Ethan's and squeezed it affectionately while he spoke.

"Oh, I wouldn't say that." Ethan had a wicked little smile on his face.

"I wasn't planning on this being quite that much a trip down memory lane," Giles warned, but spoiled the effect by not quite keeping a smile from his own lips.

"Don't worry, I won't endanger your sterling reputation," Ethan promised, still looking utterly untrustworthy.

The black cab pulled up outside Harvey Nichols, Knightsbridge side, where busy, well-heeled shoppers were streaming in and out of the doors. Giles paid their driver then followed Ethan out onto the pavement in front of the shop.

Ethan was looking at the entrance with something close to glee, although only someone who knew him as well as Giles would have been able to see the intensity of it. He turned. "Where first? Menswear?"

"I leave the decisions of where we go up to you," Giles replied. "I always did, if I recall correctly."

Chuckling, Ethan took his hand, and smiling, led Giles into the store.

"Place hasn't changed much," Giles observed.

Inside was brightly lit and crowded. Ethan pulled Giles straight to the closest cosmetics counter where he released Giles and started studying quite appallingly expensive little pots and tubes with an expression of intense concentration.

Giles noticed his lover had to hold the items quite far away in order to read them. Was Ethan's perfect 20-20 vision finally becoming less so? "Do I need to make an appointment for you with my optician?" he asked, not looking too closely at his feelings concerning Ethan and ageing. On the one hand, they were growing old together; on the other, the last thing Giles felt with Ethan was old, and he disliked anything that pushed reality into conflict with that feeling.

Ethan scowled at him. "There's nothing wrong with my vision; they've just used a typeface too small to be read with the naked eye. I suppose there's something that they don't want us to know about--" He paused to turn the tube around. "Pout Bronze Sparkle."

"Do I even want to know what that is?"

"A gift for Kat possibly, although it's not quite her colour," Ethan answered distractedly. "Would you pass us one of those little baskets, please, dear?" Sighing, Giles obediently did so, resigning himself to being here the better part of the afternoon and to leaving with a far lighter bank balance.

Ethan spent some time moving between the cosmetics counters and accessory boutiques, collecting a small fortune's worth of elite little bags by the time he'd finished. He turned to Giles as they stood waiting for the lift up to arrive.

"The girls are going to love us." He smiled at Giles, the expression simple and genuine. "It's nice we have them both for Christmas. I'd felt sure that one or both would head home for the holidays."

"It's their first chance at Christmas here as well," Giles pointed out. "I'm sure they're looking forward to it as much as you are."

The lift doors opened, and they walked in. A pair of snooty women who'd been waiting behind them declined to join them in the lift, one woman waving them away with a dismissive gesture of her gloved hand. Giles felt Ethan bristle beside him, and he squeezed his hand while the doors shut.

Ethan pouted and said sourly, "Congratulate me."

Giles took advantage of their momentary solitude to kiss Ethan, partially as a reward for not pulling a magical prank on the objectionable women and partially, simply, because he always wanted to kiss Ethan. "We'll turn you into a civilised being yet," he teased.

"Not too civilised, I hope. Where would the fun in that be for either of us?" When the lift doors opened again, revealing another two women very similarly dressed to the ones they'd left downstairs, Ethan seemed very unwilling to detach himself from Giles. One of the new women giggled.

Giving in to a mischievous impulse of his own, Giles winked at her as he and Ethan stepped from the lift, still holding hands. She grinned back at him, clearly delighted.

"For every Francesca, there's a Pamela," Ethan murmured, as they headed deep into menswear territory.

"Indeed. And thank all that's holy for that."

Ethan made a small noise that had it been louder would have sounded suspiciously like a girlish squeal. He turned and deposited all his little bags and packages into Giles' arms, then disappeared at speed into the Dolce and Gabbana boutique.

What was that Giles had been thinking earlier -- that Ethan was getting old? His lover was certainly doing his best to disprove that right now. Shaking his head in amusement, Giles followed Ethan at a slower pace.

He found Ethan with an arm full of clothes. "Am I allowed to try stuff on?" he asked, his eyes seeming to hold an almost childlike happiness.

"Do I get to watch?"

"I damn well hope so." Ethan smirked, and after grabbing another couple of garments, strode off towards the changing rooms. There was a short debate with the initially pompous and overly camp lad overseeing the cubicles about how many items Ethan was allowed to take in with him, but it didn't surprise Giles at all that Ethan got things completely his own way in the end.

Giles followed Ethan into the cubicle that the lad had indicated, then leant back against the door after it had been shut. "Now this feels like old times," he said, remembering the days they'd used changing rooms to aid in surreptitious thievery when they'd been young.

The light in Ethan's eyes suggested he was remembering something a little different. He paused halfway through unbuttoning his shirt and pressed himself against Giles for a kiss. "Good times."

"Yes," Giles agreed, kissing Ethan, then kissing him again. "But these are better times."

Ethan nodded, not arguing, and pulled back with obvious reluctance. "I doubt we can afford all this," he warned, as he stripped down to his vest, boxers and socks.

"I told you," Giles said, taking pleasure in watching his lover disrobe. "Don't worry about cost. Consider it another part of your Christmas gift." That won him a quick, happy little smile.

"Oh, these are nice," Ethan enthused, stroking the fabric of a pair of trousers before stepping into them. "Very nouveau Mafiosa."

"Planning on taking up a new profession?"

"I already have, haven't I?" Ethan raised an eyebrow. "And maybe my wardrobe needs to reflect that a little more."

Giles smiled faintly. "Are you comparing the Council to the Mafia? Does that make me the Don?"

After pulling on a coarse-knit jumper with a loose roll neck, Ethan grinned and prowled the two steps necessary to allow him to rub against Giles again. "Well, you did make me an offer I couldn't refuse."

"I did, didn't I?" Giles allowed just a bit of smugness to creep into his voice as he slid his arms around Ethan's waist.

Ethan kissed him, slowly and sensually, drawing out every touch of his lips. "I'm a willing victim."

"I've noticed," Giles said softly, then tried to bring the subject back to something less likely to lead to shagging in the changing room. "Are you going to get this outfit?"

"It's not complete yet. You need to see the whole ensemble." Ethan made no move however to go back to the clothes, instead running his hands lightly up and down Giles' body under his heavy black coat

"I never used to be able to distract you from clothes," Giles observed, remembering the lengths he used to have to go to in order to recapture Ethan's attention while shopping in their wild past.

Ethan pulled back slightly, his eyebrow raised. "But these are better times?"

Giles smiled, and couldn't resist leaning in and kissing Ethan again. "Yes, these are better times."

Eventually they separated again, and Ethan went back to his hangers, selecting a long well-cut coat jacket and slipping it on over the sweater. "I'll need new shoes, of course. But what do you think?"

If there was one thing that had remained constant through the years that Giles had known Ethan, it was Ethan's sense of style. He'd always been uncannily good at picking outfits that would make anyone stop and take notice. That hadn't changed, even if the type of image that he was trying to project had. "You'll definitely be turning heads with that."

"In the right way, I hope." Ethan chuckled. "I haven't had expensive clothes in so long, Rupert. There wasn't any point in having good things when I might have been forced to run and leave all I had behind at any moment. This feels a little odd."

"Better times," Giles said softly. Which of course brought Ethan back to Giles' lips again.

By the time they'd finished in Dolce and Gabbana, several much larger bags had been added to the substantial number Giles seemed to have ended up carrying, and Ethan was wide-eyed and talking fast. "We have to go out somewhere so I can wear them, Rupert. Somewhere posh and intellectual. Somewhere you." He giggled.

"We could go see a West End show maybe," Giles suggested easily enough. Dealing with Ethan in this type of manic happy state was always an adventure, but one that Giles would always be quite glad to undertake. "Perhaps even take the others with us."

"Please God, not a panto," Ethan said, still giggling. "But a show could be quite special, I'll concede. Rupert, we have to buy clothes for you too."

Giles blinked. "This shopping spree is supposed to be for you."

"No, well yes, but this will be for me, really. We have to match." Ethan flashed him a brilliant smile.

"But--" Giles began to protest. Watching Ethan shop was one thing; Ethan deciding to shop for him was another matter entirely.

Ethan peered at him. "You're panicking," he accused.

"I am not."

"Yes, you are. You've got that look you get around the eyes. You don't trust me."

"Of course I trust you, Ethan. It's just--"

"I understand." Ethan turned slightly away, his happy expression transformed into an upset pout.

Giles was positive that this was just an attempt to manipulate him, that Ethan wasn't really letting this ruin the day for him. But still... "All right," he gave in with a sigh. "You can dress me."

The speed with which the huge grin appeared on Ethan's face at that, together with the sudden return of the bounce in his step, showed Giles very clearly he'd been right in his suspicions. "You won't regret this," Ethan said happily, tugging Giles towards the Yves St Laurent store-within-a-store.

Giles just sighed and let Ethan pull him along.

To his surprise, they'd no sooner entered the shop, than they were leaving it again, Ethan pulling him almost forcibly across the aisle into an area of leatherwear. "Oh God, Ripper, look." Ethan's tone was reverent, almost as if he were witnessing a holy miracle. The object of his awe was a 'pre-vintaged' leather jacket in the biker style. "It's identical."

Giles recognised exactly what Ethan was referring to; the jacket looked quite remarkably like the one he had owned back in his late teens and early twenties. He'd been wearing it the first time he'd met Ethan. "Old styles must be coming back," he murmured, reaching out to touch a sleeve.

Suddenly urgent, Ethan was taking the jacket from the hanger. "Try it on," he demanded.

Giles obligingly put down the packages and took off the coat he was wearing, handing it to Ethan. He took the leather jacket and slipped it on.

"Oh. Ohh." Ethan seemed almost overcome. He stared at Giles, biting his lip, one hand tracing the seams of the jacket's front.

It fit perfectly, the way the one he'd had in his youth had fit. It made Giles feel more than a little self-conscious though; he'd changed so much since those days.

"Please," Ethan begged. "Please, Ripper. Even if it's only for between us, when we're alone. Please."

"I don't look like someone going through a mid-life crisis trying to recapture his youth?" Giles asked, looking down at the jacket.

Ethan shook his head vigorously. "You look how you always looked, like you were born to wear it."

"I think we do need to make that appointment with my optician," Giles said wryly, but Ethan's words touched him, and he knew that they'd be buying the jacket.


Monday 22nd December

Ethan woke, and as he remembered his plans for the day, smiled happily. Rolling over in bed, he snuggled close to his husband, pressing soft kisses upon Rupert's face. "Wakey wakey, dearheart. We'll be late."

Rupert's arms came around him, and he turned his face to lazily kiss Ethan back. "Late for what?" he murmured in a sleep-husky voice.

"Your special day. Don't worry, Pammy knows you won't be in."

"My special day?"

Ethan grinned, delighted at Rupert's befuddlement. "Happy Christmas. Rise and shine. We don't want to miss our appointment."

Rupert was looking more awake now, but still slightly confused. "What are you up to?"

"I'm trying to get you up and ready to drive out to Duxford." Ethan told him, as if it were the most reasonable thing in the world.

"And why would we be wanting to drive to Duxford?"

"So I can give you your Christmas present. Honestly, Rupert. You're a little slow today." Chuckling, Ethan began to lightly slap at Rupert's body to get him moving.

Rupert reached out and grabbed Ethan's wrists to still him. "I'm asking because I'm trying to decide if it's going to interfere with the gift I had planned for you today."

Bugger. "You had something planned for today? But I've got this all booked up!" Ethan tugged at his wrists, fretting.

"We may have to start checking ahead of time when scheduling surprises. Perhaps we can work both in." Rupert raised his head enough to kiss Ethan. "If not, I suppose my surprise will wait. But I need to know at least the basics of where we're going and why before I can judge."

"It was meant to be a surprise." Ethan pouted.

Rupert sighed. "I suppose I could tell you my surprise and then you can decide..."

Now that sounded better. "Ok," Ethan agreed, smiling again.

"I've got to work on the not giving in to you every time you pout at me," Rupert muttered, mostly to himself, then let go of Ethan's wrists. "There's a box in the drawer of the side table."

Scrambling up, Ethan went eagerly to the drawer in question and pulled it open. There was a largish but relatively shallow box wrapped in scarlet and gold foil inside. It had a silk ribbon around it. Feeling slightly breathless just at the extent of possibility regarding the box's contents, Ethan carried it carefully back to the bed and sat next to Rupert again, grinning happily at him.

"Go ahead," Rupert bade him, sitting up and stretching. "Open it."

Ethan pulled at the ribbon and the bow slipped undone. The wrapping was held on by two discreet pieces of tape and they didn't take much longer to remove. Inside was a black velvet clad box of the sort used for jewellery, only much bigger than any jeweller's box Ethan had ever seen. Embossed in gold on the lid was the image of a three link chain. Ethan knew that symbol. Feeling slightly overwhelmed, he looked at Rupert, lacking the courage to open it any further. "Show me?"

Smiling, Rupert reached over and flipped the box's lid open with something of a flourish.

Inside the box was divided into several compartments, the largest reserved for an item, the purpose of which was hard to mistake. "A butt plug, Rupert?" he whispered. In the other compartments were items of gold, steel and leather, each exquisitely crafted at, Ethan was sure, great expense. There were ruby studded nipple clamps, various discreet restraints, a small contraption of leather and gold chain that Ethan didn't want to even think about wearing on his cock and balls. Oh wait. Maybe he did. He made a tiny whining noise and slumped against his husband.

Rupert wrapped an arm around his shoulders and took the box from him. "I had planned," Rupert said conversationally, skimming his fingers over the various items, "to have you wear these under your clothes to work today. So that only the two of us would know they were there."

Ethan pressed his hand over his mouth. He was very hard, his erection bobbing almost merrily in his lap. As Rupert's fingers touched the various objects in the box, Ethan grew harder still. He whimpered again.

"There would also be shagging at various points during the day when I felt like taking you," Rupert continued in the same conversational tone. "Is that something that would be compatible with your surprise?"


Rupert smiled, eyes bright with amusement. "Can we do this today, or will it interfere with your plans?"

"I don't have any pl--" Ethan stopped. Bloody hell. "Christ, we're going to be late. You have to get up, Rupert. Go and get ready. I'll be..." Playing with his new toys. He reached out to take the box back from Rupert.

Rupert held it out of reach. "I want to put them on you -- at least the first time."

"Oh God," Ethan moaned, as his balls tightened momentarily and his eyes flickered shut. "We're never going to leave the bedroom."

"Trust me," Rupert told him, shifting them so that Ethan was lying on his back beneath him. "I'll make sure we get out on time." He glanced at the clock. "How long do we have?"

"We have to be there by eleven, and you know what the M25 is like." Despite his worries about the time, Ethan found himself pushing up against his husband.

He could see Rupert doing the math in his head. "We have a little time. But," he added regretfully, "we won't be able to draw this out at all."

Thinking about what Rupert was about to do to him was threatening to overwhelm Ethan already. "Dearheart, I'm not sure..." He hesitated.

"Do you want to wait for another day?" Rupert asked, pausing, although he hadn't put the box down yet.

Oh. "No. No, I want this. I just... No, I want this."

"You sure?"

Ethan knew the look he was giving Rupert was close to pathetic, but he didn't overly care. "Don't give me the choice?"

Rupert looked at him for a long minute, then leant in and kissed him breathless.

Once the kiss was over, Ethan knew he no longer had to worry about watching the clock. Rupert was in control now, and Ethan's job was to make Rupert's job just a little bit more... fun. He grinned up at his husband. "More."

"Kisses?" Rupert gave him a very Ripperish grin as he picked up one of the nipple clamps from the box. "Perhaps later."

Ethan eyed the small gold clamp with the ruby teardrop dangling from it. "They'll show through my shirt, you know."

"Wear a jumper." Rupert slid a hand down Ethan's chest and pinched his left nipple.

He jolted slightly in response, despite having decided to himself that he wasn't going to react. "Were these made to order?"

"Of course. Nothing but the best." As he spoke, Rupert slid the clamp into place.

After the screw was tightened, Ethan let himself squirm a little. The thing with clamps was they didn't start to feel truly uncomfortable immediately unless they were over-tight. But if he was to wear these all day, his jumper rubbing all the time, he knew he'd be in quite exquisite discomfort by the time they returned home.

Rupert picked up the second clamp and quickly affixed it to Ethan's other nipple, then sat back and just looked at him. "Some day, when we have nowhere to be, you'll have to wear those with nothing else."

Ethan let his gaze drop to his own chest. They did look pretty, hanging there. He gave a little wriggle and giggled. The gold was cool upon his skin.

Rupert smiled. "I'll take that to mean you're ready for the next bit." He pulled out the cock and ball contraption that had made Ethan squirm just thinking about it.

"Rupert, I can't wear that all day. Really, I can't."

"I deliberately asked for it to be constructed in such a way that you could," Rupert replied, skimming his free hand over Ethan's stomach.

"Oh. Oh dear." Ethan had just worked out what was probably coming next after the little harness, and he wasn't exactly keen. "And I suppose I don't get to come first?"

"Not if we want to make this mysterious appointment you've set up. There's just not enough time, love." Rupert's fingers trailed down over Ethan's cock, then began slipping the harness on him.

The gentle touches seemed particularly cruel under the circumstances. Ethan reached out and put his hands over Rupert's, trying to keep them in place. "Please."


"Rupert, I need you."

"I'm right here, love." The sound of the fastenings on the harness being closed was loud in Ethan's ears. Reluctantly, he let his hands be moved.

Once the last small press-stud was done, Ethan sat up quickly. "Right. Torture devices all in place; time to get dressed." He started to swing his legs from the bed.

Rupert stopped him with a tight grip on Ethan's thigh. "We're not done yet."

Ethan felt his face screw up. "There's a long drive ahead, not to mention... other things. You can't seriously expect me to--"

"I do. And you will."

Oh. The stern voice. Great. "I'm going to be completely unhinged before today is over, I see," he said in as dry and casual tone as he could manage.

"Perhaps," Rupert acknowledged, pushing Ethan back onto the bed. "But I promise it will be worth it."

Ethan didn't doubt that; what he was uncertain about was his ability to last to that point. But he said nothing as Rupert lifted his legs, pushing them apart. The nipple clamps were stinging now and the harness around his cock and balls, while it was far from uncomfortable, provided constantly insufficient sensation. Both were bearable however, unlike, he felt sure, what Rupert was about to add to his torment.

He watched as Rupert put lube on his fingers and flinched as he slid them between Ethan's legs. "Relax, love."

Much easier said than done, at least so Ethan thought. But it turned out that he was so used to Rupert's touch that relaxing came naturally. He groaned as Rupert's fingers moved inside him, stretching and inevitably stimulating.

All the time, Rupert was watching him with eyes dark with lust. "You look..." he began wonderingly, then glanced at the bedside clock and sighed. "Not enough time." He pulled his fingers out and moved to pick up the butt-plug.

"Rupert," Ethan moaned. "I don't want whatever that thing is made of inside of me. I want you. Your flesh. Please."

"You think I don't want to do that?" Rupert asked, voice low, echoing the desperation that Ethan was feeling. "You're the one who made other plans."

"But I didn't know!" he protested. "I was just trying to give you a special day."

"Well, this way, we'll both have special days." Rupert slowly pushed the plug into Ethan.

He kept relatively still during the insertion; it didn't feel unpleasant, after all; it was just knowing it would be in him all day that was so difficult. He almost felt like saying they could cancel his surprise for Rupert, but after the effort of getting it organised, that would never do. Anyway, if it made Rupert as happy as Ethan hoped, it would be worth all this frustration and more.

"Rupert, I just want you to know that I love you," he said with a wry smile. "I've a feeling I should say that now, as later I may be cursing your name."

Rupert chuckled, then leant over to kiss him. "You'll be screaming my name before the day's over if I have my way."


Later the same day

"Dear God, Rupert. Do you have to hit every bump and pot hole in the road?" Ethan was sounding a little peeved.

"I've been avoiding most of them," Giles replied, glancing over at his lover. "Perhaps we should've brought a pillow?"

Ethan's arms were wrapped tightly around his upper body. "You need to follow the brown signs. Like that one." He pointed out of the window to a sign for the Imperial War Museum.

"We are going to look at aeroplanes?" Giles had spent most of the drive trying to figure out what exactly Ethan had planned and where they were going. Ethan's responses to most of his guesses, which included the museum famous for its huge collection of vintage planes, had been mostly non-committal. Although granted, Ethan had other things on his mind. Giles hid a smile as his lover squirmed on his seat.

"Well, I'm going to look at them..." Despite his prolonged frustration, Ethan still managed to sound smug.

"Where am I going to be?"

There was a small chuckle from the other seat. "When you were a nipper, Rupert, what did you dream of growing up to become, before it became obvious you were only going to be allowed to become one thing?" Ethan was sounding very pleased with himself indeed.

The question struck a chord of deja vu with Giles, and he was trying to figure out why even as he answered. "I never really settled on a career, but the frontrunners before I was informed of the family business were grocer and fighter pilot." He frowned as a memory of a conversation he'd had over half a decade before passed through his mind. "Have you been talking to Buffy?"

Ethan giggled and patted Giles' leg. "Buffy may have been quite helpful in this regard, yes, Biggles."

The thought of Ethan and Buffy conspiring together was actually quite frightening. "I think I liked it better when you two wouldn't speak to each other." The rest of what Ethan had said belatedly sunk in. "Wait, what did you just call me?"

"Biggles, you mean?" Ethan asked with false innocence. "As in Major James Bigglesworth, hero of the long running series of aeronautical adventures that I'd be very surprised to discover you didn't collect avidly when a child?"

"What have you planned?" Giles asked, having the sudden image of Ethan trying to dress him up in some kind of old pilot getup. He glanced down at himself; he was already wearing a leather jacket, even if it wasn't exactly a bomber.

"Well, there's this nice little corner shop near the museum," Ethan began. "Mr Singh, the proprietor, was kind enough to say that you could wear his apron for the day."

Giles deliberately hit the next bump at full speed.

"Bloody--" Ethan bit off his cursing and rearranged himself yet again on his seat. "Everyone thinks you're such a nice chap, Ripper. So kind, so supportive. They've no idea, have they?"

"You're the only one who knows every side of me," Giles replied, with far more feeling than he had planned. But it was true.

Ethan's hand found its way back to Giles' leg, and when Giles glanced at his lover, he saw Ethan wearing a much gentler expression, almost doting. "And of course you always know just the right thing to say to defuse me." He chuckled softly.

"Years of practice," Giles deadpanned. He dropped a hand to cover Ethan's on his leg. "And innate talent."

"Oh, there. Look, there it is." They were driving beside tall chainlink fencing, beyond which lay the hangers, runways and fields of the converted RAF base. Ethan squeezed Giles' leg. "Are you excited?"

Giles thought he could get excited just by watching Ethan's enthusiasm. "Just so I know for sure what I'm supposed to be eagerly anticipating -- this is some kind of plane ride you've arranged?"

"'Ride' is a little too passive for someone like you, dearheart, don't you think?" Ethan chuckled and stretched in his chair as they drove into the large car park. "You're going to fly a tiger moth. Complete with goggles and trailing scarf."

Giles blinked as it sunk in exactly how detailed this gift of Ethan's was, how completely it mirrored his childhood fantasy. "Really?" he asked. "There's actual flying involved? By me, I mean?"

"Yes. Actual flying by you," Ethan confirmed smugly. "Now, don't you think I deserve a reward of some kind?"

Flying. It was a childhood dream that he'd long ago put away with all the other detritus of childhood. But now, suddenly, it was blazing back to life -- at least for the afternoon. Giles pulled the car into a parking spot, turned off the engine, and leant over to kiss Ethan with all the love, wonder, and gratitude he was feeling.

The kiss grew heated very quickly. Ethan was clearly not in the mood for soft or subtle; a fact that became increasingly apparent as he undid his seatbelt and seemed to be trying to scramble on top of Giles.

Much as he would like to continue, Giles knew that one of them had to be level headed -- and it was obvious it wasn't going to be Ethan. Only to be expected, considering what he was wearing under his clothes. Reluctantly, Giles pulled back. "Later, love. I promise."

"We've got five minutes," Ethan wheedled, without as far as Giles could see consulting his watch or the dashboard clock.

"What I have planned is going to take longer than five minutes." He gave Ethan one more quick kiss. "I don't want to leave you any more... frustrated than you already are while I'm playing pilot."

"And I'm on the ground fretting," Ethan said sadly, reluctantly returning to his seat and opening his door.

Rupert grabbed Ethan's arm, keeping him from getting out just yet. "If this is going to be a problem..."

"No." Ethan smiled at him. "Bad choice of words. My only problem is, um, well let's just say I'm sitting on it."

"Ah." Rupert smiled back, something inside him relaxing as what he thought might have been over-dependence turned out merely to be physical distraction. "You could always stand up while you're waiting," he suggested.

"Thank you for your inestimable advice," Ethan said, dryly amused.

"Happy to help."


Later still the same day

Ethan leant uncomfortably against the wall of the hanger and watched the tiger moth as it circled the runway and then taxied in to land. He was uneasy, his breathing a little shallow and his muscles tense, and he knew that it wasn't just due to his throbbing nipples, constantly half-erect cock, and the continual feeling of fullness in his arse. Although they certainly weren't helping.

Even the slightest movement of his body caused a wave of sensation to pass through him from his arse upwards.

But no, what this unease was mainly about was, well... what if Rupert hadn't enjoyed his gift as much as he was meant to? He'd looked so very happy and grateful in the car, but what if it all turned out to be a disappointment?

Rupert was so very good at thinking up and providing just the right present. He knew Ethan so well and in their youth had always managed to find something that would bring a tear suspiciously close to Ethan's eye. And after Ethan's wonderful birthday in the summer, it was clear that if anything, Rupert's knack for perfection in these matters had improved.

Ethan just wanted to be able to give back a little of the way Rupert overwhelmed him with his generosity and consideration at these times.

The plane came to a stop near the hanger, and Ethan watched Rupert climb out and hand the helmet back to the bloke on the land crew who had helped him down. He seemed perky, but it was difficult to tell from a distance. He also looked extremely desirable in his new leather jacket.

But then, the way Ethan was currently feeling, it was possible that Rupert could be dressed from head to toe in sparking pink spandex and still look like the sexiest thing Ethan had ever seen.

Rupert talked for a moment with the pilot who had gone up with him, then shook hands and turned to look around. When he spotted Ethan, he waved then headed over with a bounce in his step that Ethan wasn't sure he'd ever seen the like of before.

Pushing off from the wall, Ethan walked to meet his husband. He was trying very hard not to mince, as it was one of those stereotypes that annoyed him, but he felt he rather was, all the same. The look on Rupert's face when he got close enough to see it provided good distraction from his discomfort. Rupert looked... well, happy, but that seemed a considerable understatement.

Feeling almost uncertain in the face of such personal joy, Ethan tentatively smiled and held his hands out. Rupert took them and pulled Ethan into his arms in an exuberant hug. "That was..." Rupert laughed, the sound seemed full of light.

Ethan felt the stirrings of strong emotion inside himself also. To have been able to give Rupert this meant so much. "I'm glad it was worthwhile," he said mildly.

"Worthwhile doesn't begin to cover it," Rupert said, pulling back enough to meet Ethan's eyes. His own were bright and seemed younger somehow than Ethan could ever remember seeing them. "Not everyone gets to live out a childhood wish. Thank you."

This new, energised Rupert made Ethan feel almost shy, as if he were intruding somehow. "I'm glad, and you're welcome."

"This isn't anything I would ever have thought of asking for." Rupert shook his head in wonder. "I never would have considered..." He trailed off with another shake of the head and a smile. "I guess sometimes you know me better than I know myself."

It was strange how unwilling Ethan felt to accept the praise; he couldn't quite have explained why. But nonetheless, he hugged Rupert tightly, enjoying the feel of the leather jacket under his arms. Enjoying it a lot in fact. "I have made you my life's work, you know."

"Mm, I think maybe it's time you deserve a bonus for service above and beyond then," Rupert replied, nuzzling Ethan's ear. Then he pulled away and started for the hanger, pulling Ethan along with him.

"Where are we going?" Ethan asked, confused.

"Somewhere a bit warmer than it is out here."

"To do what?" Ethan was having to more or less trot to keep up with Rupert, but his spirits were becoming more certain. Perhaps it was the jacket, but there was something very Ripper-like about his husband's behaviour currently.

The grin that Rupert tossed his way as they continued towards the hanger doors only strengthened that impression. "To finish what I started this morning."

"In an aircraft hanger?" Ethan laughed. "Well, that's a new one, even for us."

"The original plan was either a conference room or to go out for lunch and use a restroom. I'm improvising."

"This is better," Ethan said a little breathlessly, as they pulled to a halt beside a large biplane that he was sure Rupert could easily give a name to, but Ethan had no idea. "This way you're wearing the jacket apart from anything else. And you're excited and happy which is rather..." He giggled. "Adorable."

"Adorable?" Rupert asked, with a raised eyebrow, although an amused smile continued to hover around his mouth.

"Little boyish," Ethan explained, knowing he was getting into trouble in the right way. "It's very engaging, and I daresay, cute."

Rupert slid his arms around Ethan's waist, pulling him closer. "I can see I'm going to have to remind you of some of the other things I am." He looked speculatively at the plane they were standing beside, then once again tugged Ethan along with him as he headed for the ladder up into the plane. "DeHaviland Dragon," he said almost conversationally. "Should be plenty of room."

Already growing aroused, although really he'd yet to stop being aroused, Ethan went willingly, climbing the ladder in front of Rupert and looking into the biplane. Most of the small interior was filled with seats. "When you say plenty...?"

"We'll work with what we've got." As soon as Rupert had cleared the ladder and stepped onto the floor of the plane, he was pulling Ethan into his arms and kissing him until they were both somewhat breathless.

Ethan staggered a little, taken by surprise despite his expectations. Their heads were touching the ceiling, and his arse was pressing against a chair back. His sore nipples were crushed and rubbed by the proximity of their two bodies. Groaning, he yielded to Rupert, not wanting any control over what would happen next.

Rupert pulled back enough to start to undress Ethan, pulling his coat off and tugging on his jumper, only breaking the kiss long enough to pull it over Ethan's head. The garments fell to the floor with quiet rustles. Rupert's fingers brushed against the clamps on Ethan's nipples as he thrust his tongue into Ethan's mouth, and Ethan felt rational thought slipping away from him altogether.

The harness was tugging at his cock as his erection swelled, and he rubbed himself hard against Rupert, trying to find some release. Trying to undo Rupert's jacket was beyond Ethan, so he just enjoyed the leather, digging his blunt nails into it. The sensation was powerfully evocative of days long gone.

Rupert's hands were busy again, deftly unfastening Ethan's trousers and pushing them down out of the way. Then, with one last hard kiss, he spun Ethan around, bending him over one of the plane seats.

Christ. Ethan propped himself with his hands on the armrests to stop himself tumbling right over. His trussed up cock was pressing into the seat back, and he thrust forward for more stimulation. But of course the leather stopped any direct contact, and the feel of the harness itself just wasn't enough. "Ripper..."

"Shhh..." Ripper's voice was soothing, although his actions were anything but. His hands slid over Ethan's arse in a proprietary manner before moving to grasp the end of the butt plug. Ethan felt the bastard thing being wriggled inside of him.

"God, please. Ripper, this car passed the little town of distraction miles ago." Well, it made sense to Ethan's fevered mind.

Ripper's chuckle was low, and the sound seemed to rumble up Ethan's spine. The plug was jostled a few more times, then suddenly pulled out.

Ethan gasped loudly before gritting his teeth. His fingers dug into the armrests. After so long of feeling over-full, the lack of the toy from inside of him felt... well, he wouldn't have imagined it was possible to be so aware of being empty.

Knowing, or at least hoping fervently, what was to come next, Ethan reached out with one hand to brace against the back of one of the chairs in the next row.

"Been wanting to do this since this morning," Ripper muttered, taking a hold of Ethan's hips and sliding his cock into him up to the hilt.

Hell. Christ. The difference between the rubbery plastic and Ripper's flesh was dramatic; again far more than Ethan would have imagined. He moaned, writhing back against Ripper, his breath already staggered and noisy to his own ears. "Please. God, please. Now. Please now."

"Yes." Ripper slowly pulled almost all the way out before thrusting back in hard. "Now. No more waiting, love."

After hours of an itch he couldn't scratch, the movement felt almost unbearably good. "Don't stop. Harder, faster. Please, Ripper; I'm holding on by a fraying thread here."

Ripper bent over Ethan's body and whispered in his ear. "Who says I want you holding on at all?"

Ethan whimpered. "I can't. I'm too..." He moaned and writhed, almost scared by how intense he was feeling and how fast. "Ripper, please. Help. I need control."

"I've got the control," Ripper told him. He muttered some Latin words, and Ethan felt a small hit of his lover's magic surge through him, solidifying around his wrists, binding them in place to the chairs. "I've got you."

Oh, this was just exactly what he'd needed. Ripper had known even if Ethan himself hadn't worked it out. "Thank you," he said with heartfelt sincerity. He tugged at his new restraints, checking their strength. "God, yes."

That taken care of, Ripper seemed to turn all his attention to fucking that last vestige of control out of Ethan.

It took less than ten seconds before Ethan was wailing, thrashing about in his restraints, his cock whipping against the seat back and merely adding to the sensation overload. The teardrops hanging from the clamps were swinging madly as Ripper slammed into him; they smacked against Ethan's chest and tugged at his aching nipples.

He was so caught up that he was barely aware of when Ripper's hand reached around and grasped one of the clamps. At least until Ripper pulled it off with a quick yank.

"FUCK!" Ethan more or less screamed. It felt like someone was holding an open lighter to his chest as the blood rushed back, and his tortured flesh protested in the only way it knew how. Before the sensation began to ease or he could adjust to it, Ripper was pulling off the other clamp.

Ethan was hyperventilating now. It could have been his skewed perceptions, but the plane itself seemed to be moving with the power of Ripper's thrusts. Nothing that was coming from his mouth was in any way coherent, and there was little in his mind that could be graced with the description 'thought'.

It was then that his eyes, which were staring unfocusedly out of the window of the plane, finally gathered enough information for even his fogged brain to understand what he was seeing. Two men were standing outside the hanger doors, silhouetted against the light outside.

Groaning deeply, Ethan wondered distantly how aroused one could possibly get before something broke or ruptured. He doubted that the men could see them, but just the idea that they might...

"Do you want to come?" Ripper's voice was low in Ethan's ear, as a hand slid down and cupped him through the harness. "Want me to take this off so you can?"

Ethan wasn't sure how he answered. He knew he'd made a noise, and that in his head the noise had meant 'Please, yes, oh God, pleasepleaseplease', but it was anyone's guess how it had actually emerged. However it had, it seemed Ripper had been able to decipher it because his fingers were already undoing the harness' fastenings one at a time.

It seemed to take forever for the contraption to be removed, and Ethan realised somewhere dim and far away that his squirming was undoubtedly not helping. But all he knew was a desperation and urgency that possessed his entire body. "Ripper," he wailed. "Ripper."

Then, finally, Ripper was pulling the harness away from Ethan's body and there was nothing holding him back except the absence of his lover's word, and then not even that as Ripper murmured, "Come, love."

Orgasm was a huge fist gripping Ethan. His lungs refused to draw in air, and his spasms threatened to break the chairs he was fastened to. His vision blurred and started to darken around the edges, as a pleasure wracked him so close to pain that it was indistinguishable.

But through it all, Ripper was there, holding him, urging him on, keeping him together as he flew apart. Sharing in his climax and making it better merely by his presence.

Ethan's awareness of the world returned very slowly, but eventually the discomfort of his position, bent over the hard edged chair back, made itself known, and he groaned. Then he chuckled as his eyes focused outside the window again, and he watched the two men outside the hanger walk off together, clearly deep in conversation, and equally clearly, unaware of what had been happening close by.

"Are you all right?" Rupert asked, as he moved a hand over each of Ethan's wrists and the magical restraints vanished. He gently pulled Ethan upright and turned him around to pull him into his embrace.

"Lot more than that," Ethan mumbled, leaning heavily on his husband.

Rupert kissed him. "You arranged for me to fly; I felt it was only fair I return the favour."

Ethan slipped his arms inside Rupert's jacket and laid his face on the cool leather of the garment's shoulder. "This is a lot better than all those birds."

"I'm not sure I want any more information about that statement," Rupert said, chuckling.

Ethan dug his nails lightly into Rupert's back. "I meant the French hens, calling birds, and partridges, amongst other wild fowl."

"Ah. So I should return the milkmaids then?"

"I think so. But I suppose we might get some fun out of the leaping lords." Ethan chuckled, and raised his head to kiss his husband softly.


Tuesday 23rd December

Giles sat in his chair in the living room, drink at his hand, faithful dog curled up at his feet... and several inches of reports he had to get through before the next Council meeting in front of him.

He heard Ethan, who was curled on the sofa reading a novel, stirring restlessly. "It's Christmas Eve Eve," his lover pointed out.

"I'm not sure that's an official designation," Giles replied absently, glancing up for a moment before going back to his reports.

"It's the third day of Yule," Ethan insisted. "Saturnalia. The Romans would have been knee deep in orgies and vomit by now."

"Now isn't that a pleasant image?" Giles murmured dryly.

"It sounds a lot more fun than Council reports. If I make it worth your while, will you put them away?"

Giles looked up again. "How would you make it worth my while?" he asked, although he really shouldn't put these reports off.

Ethan smiled. "I could give you today's Christmas present."

"I thought that breakfast in bed this morning was today's present."

"Come now, Rupert," Ethan said, smirking just a little. "Since when have my plans ever been that unadventurous?" He stood up and walked towards the drinks cabinet near the study door.

Curious now, Giles put aside his papers and got up, stepping over Gwydion and moving to join Ethan. "All right. You have my attention."

Ethan stood where he was and cupped Giles' face between his fingers. "Close your eyes," he said, before kissing him.

Giles obeyed. "I wouldn't do this for just anyone, you know."

"Well, I certainly hope not," Ethan agreed, pressing another kiss on Giles' mouth.

"It's a very short list."

"Of one, I fervently insist." Giles felt Ethan's hands slide down his back to cup his arse, fingernails digging in.

"So I'm just closing my eyes so you can feel me up?" Giles asked, smiling.

"Is that such a terrible thing?" Ethan asked rather archly. He rubbed against Giles, pulling their lower bodies close together. "One day, you'll have to let me blindfold you while I have my wicked way."

"That could be... intriguing." It wasn't something they'd tried before; not with him the one wearing the blindfold at least.

"Just imagine it, Rupert," Ethan whispered in his ear seductively. "Not knowing where I'm going to touch next. Will it be a gentle caress or a cruel nip, a lick of my tongue or a scrape of teeth? Do you trust me enough to give up control to that extent, dearheart?"

With anyone else the answer would have been an emphatic 'no.' Giving up control was never easy for Giles, but with Ethan it was different. "I trust you with everything I am."

Ethan's quiet chuckle by Giles' ear was clearly not meant to be reassuring, and it sent a little shiver through him. It made no difference to his sentiments, however. Ethan said in a low voice, "We'll have to see what we can do about that then," and pulled back. "For now, just keep them closed a little longer."

"So it's not to be ravishment then?" Giles teased.

"Perhaps later. Hold out your hands." Giles heard Ethan open the cabinet and the scrape of glass upon wood. Then something long and thin and a little more lightweight than he was for some reason expecting was placed into his waiting hands.

"Can I open my eyes now?"

"Yes, open them. And come back to the couch."

Giles did so, glancing down at what he was holding. The gift was, as he had felt, slender and wrapped in red silk with a green ribbon tied around it. "Very... festive," he commented, as he crossed over to the sofa and sat down.

Ethan said nothing as he sat down beside Giles, reaching forward to pinch a succulent cube of Turkish delight between his fingers from the box on the table. He ate it, then licked his fingertips, as he watched Giles unwrap. The ribbon came undone easily, and the silk fell away to reveal...

A pen.

It looked expensive, sleek silver and black with his initials monogrammed on the clip. But there was more to it than met his eye, Giles was sure. Normally pens weren't so charged with magic that they practically vibrated under his touch.

Ethan was smiling smugly at him from under his brow. "Nice?"

"Yes." Giles looked at his lover. "What exactly does it do? Other than write?"

"Do?" Ethan asked with a raised eyebrow. "Why would a pen do anything but write? Of course, you could always try the command, 'Auram', but make sure you're holding away from the nib when you do."

Shifting his grip down to the base of the pen, Giles obligingly repeated, "Auram."

The magical vibration intensified, and Giles could feel the pen slither and melt under his hand, solidifying again into the form of a stiletto dagger. Black and silver like the pen, the handle fit comfortably in his hand, while the point looked lethal.

"It's steel with a central band of blessed silver," Ethan said casually.

Which was damned expensive and hard to come by, even without the magical camouflage; Giles found himself treating the stiletto with more reverence with that knowledge. "This may come in handy during Council meetings," he joked, looking up at Ethan and letting his lover see his gratitude. "Thank you."

"I've not finished yet." Ethan was clearly pleased with the reaction. "You might want to try the other three elements. But, um, might be best to not be holding it when you call for 'Terram'."

Lifting an eyebrow, Giles set the stiletto down on the coffee table before saying, "Terram."

The knife wavered and melted, morphing into a hemisphere of black stone shot with silver. It looked like nothing much more than a fancy paperweight. "Try to pick it up," Ethan suggested.

Giles did so, already suspecting he wouldn't be able to shift it, and indeed he couldn't. "Lodestone?"

Ethan grinned and nodded. "It's attuned only to you, dearheart. No one else can make it change."

"My own magical equivalent of a Swiss army knife." It really was quite an enticing gift. Feeling much like a child with a new toy, Giles tried another element. "Ignem."

The stone rippled and extended and then a bright white illumination filled the room. The item was now a jet wand tipped with a ball of magical light. "You could say I cashed in my nest egg to get this made for you," Ethan told him.

Giles looked questioning at Ethan as he picked up the wand, wondering what such a nest egg would have consisted of, and if he should be feeling guilty that Ethan would use such to get a gift for him.

"There's someone who owed me a big favour from a long time ago," his lover explained. "I was saving the favour for a rainy day, and it seemed to me one particular grey day in November that the rainy day had come." He smiled at Giles and offered, "But I did the attunement myself."

"Yes, I can sense your magic," Giles said, returning the smile, leaning over to kiss Ethan. "It's a wonderful gift, thank you."

Ethan returned the kiss briefly. "Aquam returns it to the pen form, obviously. Do you really like it?"

"I do." He murmured "aquam," transforming it back to the pen and sliding it into his shirt pocket under his sweater. "Hopefully it will be the pen that I get the most use out of, but I'm sure all the shifts will come in handy."

Ethan shifted uneasily on the seat. When Giles glanced over, he saw Ethan was frowning, although the expression was quickly forced into an uncertain smile as Ethan reacted to the attention.

"Something on your mind, love?" Giles asked, tugging on Ethan's arm to pull him closer.

"No, nothing," Ethan replied quickly. He twisted to the side and wrapped an arm around Giles.


"Nothing that matters. Would you like some mulled wine? I think I can make some that's almost palatable now."

"Wine would be lovely," Giles admitted, but merely tightened his hold on Ethan. "As soon as you tell me what the nothing was."

There was a long moment's silence. Ethan fidgeted and huffed, but Giles just held him, waiting patiently. Then, "I'm not very practised at giving presents."

"And that bothers you?"

"They possibly take on more significance than they should for me," Ethan admitted grudgingly

"I don't know if there's such a thing as too much significance when it comes to gifts for loved ones." Giles brushed a finger against the ring on Ethan's left hand; certainly that had been a gift with depths of significance. Ethan didn't say anything, and there was nothing about his body posture to suggest his lover was feeling more encouraged. "They certainly have significance to me," Giles continued, running a hand lightly over Ethan's back.

Gwydion stirred on the floor, stood up and shook, before padding off to the kitchen. Ethan played his fingers about on Giles' sweater. "Well, you liked the flying lesson, and that was... gratifying."

Giles smiled. "Liked would be far too mild a word." He paused, a sudden insight striking him. "Ethan, do you think I don't like the pen?"

"It's too flashy," Ethan replied, his tone brusque and dismissive. "Just a gadget really. It wasn't special enough. Not sufficiently personal."

"Not sufficiently perso--" Giles echoed, then pulled back enough to meet Ethan's eyes. "Love, what could be more personal than a custom made item that you attuned solely to me with your own magic?"

Ethan wouldn't meet his eyes. "Maybe it will grow on you in time."

"Ethan." He slid a hand under Ethan's chin, making him look up. "It doesn't have to grow on me. Liked would be too mild a word here as well."

Ethan's head may have been raised, but his eyes still looked anywhere but into Giles'. "I'm being quite idiotic, dearheart. May I go and mull the wine now?"

Giles didn't let him go. "What do I have to do to make you believe me?"

Slumping and sighing, Ethan admitted, "I don't know. I just don't feel it."

"I suppose I could shag the belief into you..."

Ethan seemed to perk up slightly. "I'm unlikely to refuse."

"Or," Giles began, as an idea struck him, "maybe I could serenade you?" He knew how much Ethan liked his singing after all, and sometimes it was easier to get emotions across when using someone else's words.

And now Ethan grinned, his whole face appeared to brighten with a warm glow. "If you wassail me really well, I might even have a penny or two to give you." He giggled. "Let me mull the wine for the full experience?"

"All right. It'll give me a chance to make sure the guitar is in tune." But Giles pulled Ethan back as he started to get up and kissed him lingeringly. "You could give me anything, and I would treasure it because it's from you."

Ethan nodded. "So for your birthday, I'll just buy you a pint then?" Smiling, he pressed one more kiss on Giles, then got up and headed out to the kitchen.

"As long as I don't wake up the type of horny I did the last time you bought me a pint," Giles called after him, teasingly.

"I don't recall paying that particular tab, you know, dearheart," Ethan replied, sticking his head back out through the kitchen door.

"Really?" Giles got up and retrieved his guitar from its place in the corner of the room. "Neither do I. Did we stiff them?"

"Quite possibly. I was somewhat distracted at the time, having just been invited back to yours."

"And that wasn't what you were angling for all along?" Giles sighed. "I suppose it's all moot now anyway, as that particular establishment was destroyed along with the rest of Sunnydale."

"Cheery, Rupert. Very seasonal." Ethan went back into the kitchen, and Giles heard various noises to suggest his lover was attempting something that could just about be considered cookery.

"Try not to burn the kitchen down, love," he called out, sitting back down and starting to tune his guitar.

There was, fortunately, no cry of dismay or smell of smoke, and Ethan reappeared quite quickly with two gently steaming mugs of spiced wine, the smell of cinnamon and nutmeg prevalent. However, as he sat back down after placing the mugs on the coffee table, Ethan raised two of his fingers to his mouth and sucked absently on them.

"I see I'll have to add trying not to burn yourself to the list as well," Giles observed wryly.

Removing his fingers from his mouth with a little wet noise, Ethan gave Giles a wry look. "Drink or sing -- they are your only options currently."

"Yes, dear. Do you have any requests?"

"Well, not Christmas carols. I haven't changed that much. How about something you used to sing, way back when." He snorted very softly as he bent to pick up a mug. "When I couldn't relax enough to sleep."

There was one song that came to Giles' mind, one that Ethan had particularly latched onto so many years ago. The lyrics seemed even more appropriate for them now. Smiling, Giles played the opening chords and then sang. "I'll be your mirror; reflect what you are in case you don't know. I'll be the wind, the rain and the sunset, the light on your door to show that you're home."

As Giles worked his way through the Velvet Underground classic, closing his eyes occasionally to help concentrate on the words, Ethan slipped from the sofa to sit at his feet. He was sucking on his fingers again, but all his avid attention was on Giles, at whom he was staring as if a child transfixed by the face of Jesus. He wrapped his arms around one of Giles' legs.

"When you think the night has seen your mind, that inside you're twisted and unkind, let me stand to show that you are blind. Please put down your hands 'cause I see you. I'll be your mirror." With that last chorus, Giles finished the song and put the guitar to one side.

Ethan rested his cheek on Giles' knee and was quiet a long time. Giles combed his fingers through his lover's hair, letting him be silent for as long as he needed to be.

Finally, Ethan stirred and looked up at him, his expression very serious. "I think I understand a lot better now." He pressed his lips to Giles' knee. "About gifts. About what really matters."


Christmas Eve

"Ah, five days off. The life of a bureaucracy lackey is rarely so sweet."

Ethan parked the car in their space outside their house, pausing to briefly thank himself for the foresight of enchanting the area months ago to ensure it remained free for them. The rest of the street was clogged solid. It was only mid-afternoon, but Rupert had called on the perks of his office and decided their working day was over.

Which meant, of course, there were several hours before Megan came home. Hours Ethan fully intended to encourage the best use of.

"Barring any impending apocalypses," Rupert agreed, "all things work-related are banished." He added with a melodramatic flourish, "I even left my satchel at the office."

Ethan laughed. "So how long before we have to go back to get that?"

"Are you implying I'm a workaholic?"

Ethan undid his seatbelt. "I'm saying that you need to feel in control, and that with all your work at work, you'll start to get antsy."

"I will not," Rupert insisted, opening the car door. "I told you I was taking the holidays off, and I am."

Ethan peered at him suspiciously. "You've got something up your sleeve."

Rupert made a show of checking his sleeves. "Just my arms."

Ethan was very far from convinced, but he got out of the car, and once Rupert had followed suit, locked it. "So Rupert Giles, Big Chief Red Tape, is being put away for the holidays?"

"What?" Rupert asked laughing.

Pretending to sigh, Ethan translated as he opened the front door. "You're not the boss over the next five days."

"Ah. No, I'm just a man celebrating Christmas with friends and family." Giles pressed himself against Ethan's back as they stepped inside, sliding his arms around Ethan's waist. "And counting myself lucky to do so."

Ethan turned in his husband's arms and shut the door. He pushed gently at Rupert until he had him pressed against the wood and glass. "I seem to be having a little trouble believing you," he said with a smile.

"I'll have to work at convincing you then." Rupert leaned in and kissed him.

Ethan allowed the kiss briefly, but then pulled back. "Do you mean that?" he asked, a small but interesting idea forming.

"That I'm lucky to be sharing Christmas with you and the others? Or that I'm going to work at convincing you of that?"

"That you're prepared to show me that you can give up being in charge for a period of time," Ethan answered, choosing his words carefully.

Rupert's eyes narrowed, apparently noticing the word choice. "Do you have something in mind?"

Ethan tipped his head a little and studied his husband. "Trust me?"

"Always," Rupert answered immediately.


"With everything I am."

Ethan pressed very close and almost whispered in Rupert's ear. "Then give me the control."

Rupert pulled back enough to look into Ethan's eyes intently. Then, apparently having found whatever it was he'd been looking for, he smiled and nodded. "All right."

And now, having taken his gamble, Ethan was obliged to play his hand. He felt strangely unnervous about what he was contemplating. He nodded, smiling, and stroked a fingertip along Rupert's cheekbone, down and over his top lip. Maintaining the direct meeting of gazes, Ethan said quietly, almost soothingly. "Go into the living room, take off your coat, pat the dog and tell it to stay, then go upstairs and strip."

It looked for a second as if Rupert was going to say something, argue perhaps or joke, but all he did was smile and kiss Ethan before moving off into the living room.

Ethan followed, curious and a little excited.

Gwydion was very pleased to see them both. On some days, Rupert took the dog into work with him, but knowing they wouldn't be gone long, he hadn't bothered today. The wolfhound was not so pleased to be told to sit and stay, whining even as he obeyed.

"Good boy," Rupert praised the animal, giving it one last scratch behind the ears. "We'll go to the park later, let you run around there."

"Rupert," Ethan reminded him gently. "Upstairs now."

Rupert petted Gwydion once more, then straightened, shooting Ethan an apologetic look before he started up the stairs.

Again, Ethan followed, his gaze on Rupert's back and arse. Ethan's feeling of excitement was growing. His nipples were still sore, two days after their fun day at Duxford, and quite without meaning to, he found himself running the side of his thumb over one of them, feeling it tighten under his shirt.

He brought his hand down in a hurry when he caught himself; this wasn't to be about him.

Rupert headed straight to their bedroom when he reached the top of the stairs and slowly began to strip, as Ethan had ordered him to do.

And Ethan was already beginning to remember the downside of being in control -- the fact that he had to be just that. Watching his husband strip in a way that, for Rupert, was downright seductive made Ethan want to throw himself on him, paw him, kiss him, and well, beg to be taken.

In an effort to distract himself as much as anything else, Ethan turned aside and went to their warded side drawer, the one curious Slayers would never be able to get into.

"Looking for something in particular?" Rupert asked, pausing in his disrobing.

His hand in the drawer, Ethan glanced over at Rupert pointedly. "Does it matter?" he asked, even as he drew out the velvet clad box Rupert had gifted him with on Sunday.

Rupert's eyes were immediately fastened onto the box. "What are you planning?"

"Does it matter?" Ethan reiterated, raising his eyebrow. While Rupert's gaze was locked to the box, Ethan slipped a folded length of black silk from the drawer and into his pocket.

Rupert opened his mouth, but closed it without saying anything. After a few seconds, he finally replied, "No."

Ethan put the box down on the bed, removing the cuddly fox and badger from between the pillows and putting them on the side. He walked around to Rupert, wrapping his arms around him and drawing him close. "Trust me, yes? Didn't you say that I knew you better than you knew yourself?"

"Yes," Giles replied instantly, then added with a wry smile, "It's just... difficult. To..."

Ethan stroked his hand through Rupert's hair. "Just let me have an hour; that's all I ask."

"I already said 'yes'." Rupert leaned into Ethan's touch with a sigh. "I'll do my best."

"An hour," Ethan said again, and drew back. "Finish getting undressed and lie down on your back." Rupert hesitated for a brief second, but then silently complied with Ethan's orders.

Ethan stared silently at his husband for a while. Rupert looked really quite beautiful. Not the beauty they'd both had when young, of course, but a real one nonetheless. A beauty intrinsically human and that only someone who had really experienced life could have. There wasn't a wrinkle or scar or any other supposed imperfection of his husband's body that Ethan didn't dote upon.

With a gentle sigh, he climbed on the bed on his hands and knees beside Rupert. "Put your hands above your head, dearheart." Rupert did so, his gaze never leaving Ethan's.

Ethan bent down and kissed him, softly at first, then more demandingly. Rupert kissed him back enthusiastically, but never tried to take the lead, and he kept his arms above his head.

Moving to straddle Rupert, Ethan enjoyed the sensation of being fully clothed above his partner's nakedness. He kept on with the kiss, moving his hands up and down Rupert's flanks and upper arms. He felt Rupert's muscles tense beneath him, and it was obvious his husband wanted to wrap his arms around Ethan like he usually would in this situation, but Rupert continued to remain still.

"That's it; you're doing well," Ethan encouraged. He leant to the side and pulled closer the box with the three linked gold rings embossed on the lid. "I'm only going to use one item from here. Just one."

"Do I get to ask which item?" Rupert's tone of voice was conversational, but there was just a hint of deference that Ethan wasn't used to hearing from him.

"There's no need," Ethan told him, slipping the lid off. "You're about to see." He let his fingers move over the content of the box, as if trying to decide what to select. For a few moments, he let them hover over the butt plug...

Rupert shifted restlessly the tiniest bit beneath him.

Chuckling, Ethan moved his hand slightly and pulled out the handcuffs. Strong steel inlayed with black leather, with small golden locks -- like the rest of the set, they were exquisitely made. He didn't miss the way Rupert's muscles relaxed briefly before tensing again -- more in anticipation, Ethan believed, this time.

"You see," Ethan said casually, "By expecting you to just keep your hands above your head, I'm putting you back into a position of control. Because you have to control yourself to keep them there and that will never do." He stroked his hands up Rupert's up-stretched arms, squeezing the tight muscles as he went. The cuffs dangled from his left thumb. "I want to take you to a place of freedom, Rupert, if only for a few minutes. You will be helpless, without control over events or yourself, without responsibility. And in that moment, however brief, you'll be free."

Rupert looked at him with a troubled gaze. "I don't know if I can... let go like that..." he admitted softly.

Ethan snapped one cuff into place around Rupert's wrist and looped the chain around a bar of the bedstead. "You won't have any choice, dearheart. But neither will you be scared, not by that point." He was speaking so confidently, but what if he couldn't do this for Rupert?

Rupert closed his eyes briefly, then opened them again, seeking out Ethan's. "I trust you," he said simply.

Ethan snapped the second cuff together and pulled up onto his haunches to look down at Rupert. "How does that feel?"

He watched as Rupert pulled on the cuffs, testing their strength. "Restrained," Rupert finally answered with a faint smile.

"So you don't have to be."

Rupert didn't respond directly; he merely inclined his head and said, "I am at your mercy."

"Yes, you are," Ethan agreed softly, almost whispering. "Close your eyes." After one long moment of looking at Ethan, Rupert obeyed. He looked almost vulnerable with his eyes shut.

Ethan carefully slid Rupert's glasses from his face and then bent to gently kiss first one and then the other eye. After leaning sideways to put the glasses on the side, Ethan removed the silk from his pocket and flicked it out of the folds.

"Are you feeling aroused, dearheart?" he asked. He knew the answer, both with his magical sense of his husband's body and just because he knew how Rupert looked when he was. He knew that were he to shuffle just a few inches back, he could feel the evidence for himself. But Ethan wanted to hear it.

"Yes." Rupert's tongue darted out to lick at his lips, a nervous gesture. "You always make me feel that way."

Ethan folded the silken length in half longwise, and then again, creating a blindfold. "Lift your head now." Rupert did so, and he seemed to be looking at Ethan, even with his eyes closed.

Holding each end, Ethan let the black silk drop across Rupert's eyes and quickly tied the ends together around the back of Rupert's head. With his fingertips on Rupert's forehead, Ethan pushed him slowly back down to the pillow.

"Don't trust me to keep my eyes closed on my own?"

Ethan smiled to himself and arranged his body to lie closely beside Rupert's. He pressed in to whisper in his ear. "Remember what I said to you about the cuffs, dearheart?"

"Restrained so I don't have to be." Rupert's mouth curled up slightly at the corners. "What's next?"

"This," Ethan replied, before licking up the side of Rupert's neck. "And then this." He kissed just under Rupert's ear.

He heard Rupert's breath catch at that touch. "Is nice so far."

Grinning, Ethan took the earlobe into his mouth and sucked. At the same time, he stroked a light hand up and down Rupert's chest, releasing just the tiniest tingle of magic from his fingertips. Rupert gasped softly, and Ethan could feel his lover's muscles tense in an effort to remain still. "You can stop that anytime," he remarked, drawing a circle around the outside of Rupert's furthest nipple with his finger.

"I'm not doing anything," Rupert protested.

"That's my point. You're stopping yourself doing things." Ethan ran his hand up and down again, increasing the magic charge.

"I'm not..." Rupert broke off in a gasp. "God, what you can do to me..."

"You are, dearheart. You're fighting it. You're holding back." He began to nibble softly on Rupert's neck; it was something he could do without too much thought while he concentrated on studying the patterns of Rupert's body, of his arousal, mapping them out.

Rupert arched his head back, giving Ethan better access. "I'm just lying here, enjoying your attention," he insisted, his voice beginning to take on that deeper, huskier tone it always did when he was aroused.

Ethan moved around to the front of Rupert's neck, licking and kissing. His hand, he began to move in soothing circles around Rupert's belly. Not all that soothing of course because of the provocative magic calling on Rupert's own to come out and play.

"Ethan..." Rupert groaned, the sound rumbling up from his chest. There was a soft clink of metal as he briefly pulled on the handcuffs restraining him before once again falling back into stillness.

"Want something?" he asked with a chuckle, not pausing in what he was doing.

"Would it do any good to ask?"

"Might do. Anything is, as they say, possible."

Rupert seemed to be considering that, gasping again as Ethan brushed magic imbued fingers back up over his left nipple. "More."

Ethan slid back into a straddling position over Rupert. He kept his body high however, not yet wanting to give Rupert the sort of stimulation he was almost certainly craving. "More what?" Ethan asked, pulling his sweater and shirt off as he was getting hot. "More where?"

"More of you touching... everywhere," Rupert finally replied after hesitation.

With a smile made all the more evil because Rupert couldn't see it, Ethan shuffled further down his husband's body and gave him what he'd asked for, caressing with hands, mouth and magic everywhere he could reach... apart from one particularly needy area.

In spite of Ethan's encouragement, Rupert continued to try to remain still and silent, but was having less success the longer Ethan teased him. Involuntary moans and movements escaped until Rupert finally broke and growled, "Dammit, Ethan, get on with it!"

Without a word, Ethan slid off Rupert, and indeed, off the bed and stood very quietly.

"No," Rupert protested, handcuffs rattling against the bedpost as he jerked his arms, trying to get up. He lifted his head blindly trying to locate Ethan's presence. "Don't-- don't leave."

"I'm still here," Ethan quickly reassured, knowing he was in danger of triggering more serious anxiety from Rupert if he didn't. "You can sense me; you know where I am." His words seemed to have the calming effect he was looking for, because Rupert stopped fighting the restraints and laid his head back down on the pillows. Rupert took a couple of deep breaths, obviously searching for control of himself again.

Which Ethan allowed, as that hadn't been the kind of out-of-control he was after. He considered lecturing Rupert about what he'd done wrong, but really that wasn't his style. Instead, he climbed back onto Rupert, kissed him on the mouth, then began the same caresses and kisses as before only without the magic.

Rupert was both quieter and more responsive this time, arching into the caresses and gasping softly. The moans and demands and desperation seemed absent; Rupert seemed to be just accepting the attentions Ethan was giving him.

"Good," Ethan murmured. "You're doing so well." He kissed Rupert in reward before adding the magic back into the equation again. Just a little.

"I'm not doing anything," Rupert protested again, softly, distractedly, even as the way he moved under Ethan's hands silently begged for more.

"Yes," Ethan agreed. Rupert was doing so very well; it was time to move things up a notch. He slid down the bed further and began to play his charged hands around Rupert's loins and inner thighs.

Rupert made a noise suspiciously like a whimper.

By lifting his leg and placing it between Rupert's, Ethan encouraged him to spread his legs apart. Then his hands moved down, stroking and teasing all the tender flesh between them, including Rupert's balls, which Ethan bent to kiss.

"God!" Rupert exclaimed, hips bucking upwards in reaction. "Ethan, please..."

A surge of intense arousal went through Ethan himself at Rupert's reaction, and he was a little breathless and husky-voiced when he said, "Tell me what you want, dearheart. Tell me exactly what you want."

Rupert's tongue darted out to lick at his lips as he very visibly struggled for the words. When he finally did speak he began hesitantly, but once started, the words began tumbling over each other faster and faster. "I want... you. Your hands, your mouth, your cock, your magic. On me, in me, anything. Everything. I want... Make me forget anything but you?"

Ethan had raised his head to listen, and for a few moments, all he could do was to stare at Rupert, his mouth slightly open and his cock straining against his trousers. But then he shook himself and bent low again, determined to give his husband... everything. Starting with his mouth.

Rupert was more noisy now, as if having asked for what he wanted had loosened his voice. He moaned and whimpered and uttered words like, "Good" and "Please" and "Love" and "Ethan."

Ethan worked hard with his mouth, slowly building up an increasing barrage of sensation, working instinctively, and with little conscious thought as he knew Rupert's cock probably better than his own. With his pattern sense however, Ethan was watching Rupert's arousal with a fierce attention, allowing his husband's body to increase in excitement and sensation, but stopping, rerouting the patterns, whenever there was the slightest chance of orgasm.

After the third or fourth time Ethan did so, Rupert's voice began to be tinged with desperation and his handcuffs rattled again as he tried to pull his hands free.

Ethan raised his head just long enough to mutter, "Good, you're doing so well," before returning to his work.

This was going swimmingly; Ethan was so sodding happy. This was his most perfect Christmas gift for Rupert.

The badger had just been mirroring Rupert's actions, and the jacket had been as much for Ethan as anything else. The plane ride had been wonderful for Rupert, but Ethan had felt somehow detached from his husband's joy. The magical gadget pen was fun, but too over the top to be truly special. But this, this, was Baby Bear's bed. This was perfection... or would be, if he could just take Rupert up one further notch.

Soaking his fingers in near liquid magic, Ethan began to tease at Rupert's entrance.

Rupert let out a wordless shout as his body arched violently in reaction.

Ethan's own arousal level was really quite intense by this point, but he refused to tend to it at all. This was for Rupert. Just for Rupert.

He pulled up and said in a low voice, "Taste freedom, Rupert. Taste what you've taught me so well. Learn how to fly." Then he bent again and took Rupert's entire cock into his mouth, until the short hairs were tickling his lips. As Ethan swallowed, he pushed his two fingers, sparking with magic, deep inside his husband's body.

Rupert's mouth opened in a scream, but no sound came out, stolen away by the intensity of what Ethan was doing to him.

He didn't want to, he really didn't want to, but Ethan shut his eyes. He needed to concentrate so hard for these last few seconds. Keeping absolute control over Rupert's patterns, Ethan finally allowed the level of arousal to travel the tiny remaining distance to orgasm, but instead of just letting Rupert come, Ethan carefully steered a course towards the longest, most intense, most freeing climax Rupert's body could safely maintain.

He felt the way that Rupert's body shook as the pleasure went through him, heard the panting gasps of his breathing, though his voice still remained silent. Despite that, Ethan felt as close to his husband as he ever had in that moment.

He drew it out as long as he dared and then relaxed his control completely, pulling his attention back to the room. Lifting his head and swallowing, he now allowed himself to fully enjoy the view of his naked, bound, blindfolded, and totally spent husband. "Oh Rupert, my one love," he whispered, feeling almost overwhelmed by the sight.

"E-Ethan," Rupert replied, voice hoarse and shaky and far more open than Ethan was used to hearing it.

He surged up the bed, pressed a quick reassuring kiss on Rupert's lips, and then unlocked the cuffs, moving Rupert's hands down to his chest and rubbing at sore looking wrists. "You did so well, dearheart. You did brilliantly."

Rupert moved to pull the blindfold off, but stopped mid-gesture. "May I-?" Yes, he could, but instead Ethan did it for him and then kissed him once again.

After the soft kiss was over, he pulled back and met Rupert's blinking eyes. "Happy Christmas, dearheart."