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Multifoliate Rose (NC-17; a DeadWar interlude)

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  • Multifoliate Rose (NC-17; a DeadWar interlude)

    Disclaimer: Giles is not mine. He belongs to Joss. But I (and no doubt he, for once) thank Joss for kindly letting us make use of him. Sadha is mine. Ask first.

    Rating: NC-17 (No, seriously. Dan asked, so I made a special effort. Feel free to snicker if something looks silly.)

    Pairing: Giles/Sadha

    Setting: Same night as the frame story of "If Immortality Unveil"

    The dripping blood our only drink,
    The bloody flesh our only food:
    In spite of which we like to think
    That we are sound, substantial flesh and blood

    --"Four Quartets," T. S. Eliot

    "Do you never take advice, Rupert Giles?"

    Bleary-eyed, Giles looked up from the table and the papers scattered across it. "Of course I do," he said. "And I have made every attempt. The flesh is weak...but the spirit seems to be unwilling. I simply can't sleep well these days, it seems."

    "Understandable." Sadha had the sort of face and accent Giles kept associating with long, flowing dresses, however impractical that might be in a fight; instead, though, she was dressed casually for travel, in a loose grey blouse and tight blue slacks. "Still studying tactical positioning, then? I don't recall seeing those folders, but I'm not the one with the eidetic memory."

    "No," he told her. "These are some of Wesley's old files. A journal, really. I wouldn't be reading it, except that...Willow discovered these entries on his computer. They'd been erased, mystically, by someone rather more familiar with the black arts than with file structure." Not that he had really been seeing them for the last quarter hour. He truly did need to be in bed.

    "About Connor, then." Angel had explained to her briefly about the unusual life of his son. "Part of Cyrus Vail's work. So this is new information?"

    "Again, no." Giles held out several leaves to her. "They were...hope. These were written sometime before Connor's birth, shortly after it was discovered that Darla was carrying him. We found them soon after moving into the Hyperion."

    "A vampire's child, twice over," Sadha mused. "An impossibility." She retrieved a mug from the cabinet and poured herself hot cocoa from a pitcher nestled among the manila folders.

    "'An impossibility,'" Giles repeated, running his finger along a line of the page he held, "'or so it might be thought. Yet what was impossible yesterday, today has become true. It seems the universe will never cease to surprise.' He goes on like this for some time, about...change. About the chance that the future can be different from the past."

    "What's this about a Pria Motu?"

    "Angel killed it, well over a year before Connor's birth." Giles stopped there, waiting for her.

    "Good," she said, predictably. "Vile creature. Another menace destroyed."

    "On the contrary. It was protecting a woman and her child. They nearly died because Angel killed their champion."

    "What? Impos--" Sadha broke off, realizing.

    "Yes. Precisely."

    Silently, she evened the pages and replaced them on the table. "Your hope. That if one kind of vicious, destructive beast can change...."

    "So can another."

    "And yet, Buffy continues to lash out blindly, igniting further conflict and destroying the fragile balance in which you had put your faith." Sadha grimaced. "No wonder you're having trouble sleeping."

    "I trained her. I made her the Slayer she is. I can't help but wonder if there were something I could have done differently...if I could have averted this somehow."

    Sadha rested a hand on his shoulder. "You take too much on yourself. And in addition, Rupert, if you don't begin sleeping properly, you will soon be no help at all. You realize this, no?"

    "I realize it. I've tried sedatives. They leave me nearly as useless in the morning." Giles lifted his glasses to scrub his eyes.

    "I know an old Punjabi folk remedy that might be of some help to you." Her voice took on a peculiar, teasing lilt.

    Unable to see her face, Giles made an irritable groan. "At present, I'll try anything." He dropped his hands back to the table...and a pair of lips, warm and tasting of cocoa, met his.

    "Anything, you say?"

    Giles made an effort to pull away. "Sadha, I...I'm...."

    "Far too dedicated to your work to risk it by harming yourself." She pulled him back, using a fraction more strength. "I told you, Rupert. I've studied your career. I know you." This time her kiss was more forceful. "I can't give you the vacation you need. But I can, and I will, help keep you going till you have time for one." Fingernails slid along his scalp, prickling.

    "I have responsibilities." Yet he found his hands reaching for the buttons of her blouse.

    "You do indeed. We swore sacred oaths, you and I. Oaths you cannot fulfill if you get yourself killed, Rupert." Startlingly blue eyes watched his, broken for a moment by the rim of his glasses as she removed them. "You deserve better than you've permitted yourself." She was, he realized, astraddle him, lowering herself into his lap; her cool groin pressed itself against his heat.

    "You've been planning this," he said, ruining the accusation with a gasp as she peeled the shirt away from his chest.

    Sadha lowered her face to his neck, nibbling with still-human teeth. "I plan," she said, "many things," working her way lower. Her body tipped away from him as she did, making room for the hand that unbuckled his belt and slid beneath his pants. "Is this, by any chance, why they called you 'Ripper'?"

    How much did she know about him? And how long...bugger that. "You wouldn't want to meet Ripper, I think."

    "Don't tell a lady what she wants...Ripper." She turned yellow eyes upwards at him. Vampire eyes. Reflexively, he lashed out, striking her hard in the chest. Not enough to dislodge her. "Ahh. Now we're getting somewhere."

    "I...I'm sorry--I haven't been..."

    "Don't apologize, Rupert." Shedding her blouse, now. Nothing underneath. Why hadn't he realized that before? "That's no stake in your pocket, so you aren't likely to do me any real harm." She pressed herself against him, growling softly. "And I do like it rough. Wear yourself out."

    His mouth found hers, this time, tongue studying the sharpness of her fangs. The taste of chocolate had faded, but warmth lingered; his own heat was warming her, little by little. He flinched, but only just, as the points cut into flesh, and was gratified to hear her moan at the taste. Giles' hands slid downward along her back, along those strangely regular scars that followed her spine, onto the swell of her hips and arse. He tugged at her slacks, found them tight, began to reach for the zipper...then simply pulled harder. They slid away with a faint tearing sound, taking her panties and leaving faint red lines along her flesh. Some human women might have complained; Sadha only snarled quietly and dug her nails into the back of his neck.

    And still she was cool atop him, kicking her feet loose from the confining pants. He reached up to cup her breasts, found her nipples hard, and yet no warmer than his hands. He squeezed, much more forcefully than he might have otherwise, and heard her involuntary gasp. "Different, isn't it?" she asked huskily, lifting him slightly to remove the final barrier of his trousers and shorts. Her nostrils flared, reminding him: if he could smell her, then to her his scent must be overpowering. "You're like an oven, you know."

    Giles didn't...couldn't...answer her, as she lowered herself back onto him, impaled. Somehow he'd expected this part of her, at least, to hold heat; the contrast proved more than he could handle. He exploded beneath her, gasping her name, and felt her shiver in response. "Ripper," she moaned, arching; her fingers clenched painfully around his upper arms, all but crushing the muscle there. Her feet dug into the floor, and a soft thud alerted him--barely--to the chair's collision with the office wall.

    Giles sprawled there, head against the wall, as his breathing slowly returned to normal. Sadha lay there across his chest, disturbingly immobile, save for a few irregular gasps. Finally she raised her head to look into his eyes, letting the yellow melt out of her own as he watched. "Ripper," she chuckled throatily. "That, I believe I could deal with."

    "I could," he considered, "still ask you to stay." Though, after all these years, being called by that name again--with affection, no less--was a bit disturbing.

    "You could," she confirmed, lazily getting to her feet. "And I would be quite tempted. Nonetheless...I believe 'duty calls' is the appropriate turn of phrase, and there is a great deal we both must do." Sadha bent to retrieve her clothing, a view of her that he still hadn't seen till now. "You wouldn't wish me to die of guilt, would you?"

    Giles laughed, and meant it for the first time in a great while. "You know...I never thought to ask...your soul?" She hadn't yet ripped his throat out, though, and that was a good sign.

    "The curse is intact, Rupert." For a moment, a mask seemed to slide from her face, only to be instantly replaced. "You were very good...but no one is that good, I'm afraid."

    "Six months," he mused, bending to gather his own clothes. "It must be very difficult for you."

    "At times," Sadha confirmed, muffled slightly beneath her blouse. "This was, in part, about letting myself forget. But only in part."

    "When all this is over...I trust you will be back?" He couldn't allow himself to hope for too much.

    She sighed. "I would like to. I would like that very much. We'll see what happens, Rupert." Sadha struggled briefly with her pants before releasing a small hiss of frustration. "Ah well...this will do. No, no worries, Ripper. I've managed with worse. And I will keep in touch, assuming you can operate a cell phone?" She produced hers from a pocket with a slight snicker. "Who'd believe you were the one behind the times?"

    "Who indeed?" He summoned his courage and stepped forward to kiss her on the lips. "You should get moving, Sadha. And we will both hope for better days ahead."

    "Yes," she said with a smile. "For better days." And was gone.
    DeadWar: Burden of Proof
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