Title: LIFE AFTER:- Trash Talkin'- An album fic based on selections from Alice Cooper's "Trash" album

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Rating: Definite NC-17. m/m Giles/Spike. No strong violence to speak of, but hot and heavy bedroom stuff and a few very bad words. Don't approve, move on.

Warnings: Serious AU, Angst, Romance, First Time. Spoilers only for "The Gift", end epi. of last WB season.

Disclaimer: Joss Whedon owns these guys, not me. The music rights are Alice's. (Love that snake!)Yada-Yada-Yada- not making money- will return them in a much happier state than I found them, emotionally and otherwise.

Timeline : Summer between " The Gift" and 2OO1 season start.

A.N. : Most of canon Season six was truly a downer, so I'm determined to make it better. Not that there won't be angst and conflict, just not as much as Joss felt the need for. Also I had a desperate itch to see Giles have someone to care about him, and I have a down-in-my-guts love for Alice Cooper. Story came first, music seemed to fit right in. Lyrics that are more Spike are starred at beginning and end. More Giles, they get a percent sign. You'll get the hang of it.

In his dreams, she was still there, still lithe and vital and strong. In his dreams, she told him it was alright, that it had been her decision to go. In his dreams, she forgave his betrayal, assuaged the guilt that constantly threatened to consume him, whether he was awake or asleep. He never spoke to her, couldn't manage it, wouldn't accept her words as truth...

%I can't find your face in a thousand masqueraders you're hidden in the colors of a million other lost charaders In life's big parade, I'm the loneliest spectator 'Cause you're gone without a trace, in a sea of faceless imitators...%

He slept only because his body forced him to. He slept when he could no longer fight it off... he'd begun to think of his days as purgatory, and sleep as his passageway to hell...

%I can't take another night... livin' inside this Hell is living without your love ain't nothin without your touch me, heaven would be like hell is living without you...%

The others, lost in their own grief, had left him to his after the first few days, seeing that he wanted no consolation, or at least would not find it in them. Once they'd all gone, he'd taken to bed, but quickly found sleep was not without risks. His first attempts to drown out his dark thoughts had involved copious amounts of alcohol and had only left him with a series of hangovers crushing down on top of his other miseries.

For the first time in his life, books had been no comfort and the thought of food left him nauseated. He had been reduced to playing his favorite hard rock and heavy metal CD's, tapes and albums over and over, praying the soul-deep sadness he could not seem to shake would just float away into the ethers with the music.

Even when he managed to find a little breathing room away from the heartache, another issue, which he'd been refusing to deal with for months before Dawn had even shown up in Sunnydale, reared it's ugly head and filled the gap without an inch to spare. Stumbling in a fog composed of fatigue and hopelessness, he found himself headed for the downstairs bathroom, and whatever oblivion he might discover in the medicine cabinet...

and then the doorbell rang.

"Rupert? You 'ere? Hey! You home? Answer the damn door and lemme in already!"

The interruption to his mission had driven its purpose from his sleep deprived mind, so, slightly confused and mildly angry, Rupert Giles shuffled to the door, unlocked and opened it and almost shut it again immediately in the face of his visitor.

"Hey!" Spike retorted, preventing the door from shutting completely. "Not feeling rude today, are we?" he continued sarcastically.

"Go away, Spike. I'm not in anything like a mood for dealing with you right now..." he responded weakly, trying again to shut the door, but having no more success than the first time.

"Look! Cut that out, now! I came to ask a favor, but... I can see you're still hurtin' quite a bit, so..."

"Hurting? The man with the dead heart... now presumes to know the level of my pain. You... you tell fine jokes, Spike. You should go on stage..." Giles mumbled, turning away and moving back into the room. "Come in, if you feel you must... then ask your favor and get out."

Distinctly uncomfortable with the state the apartment seemed to be in, and concerned with Giles' behavior, Spike moved past the threshold, but no farther.

"Right. Well... it's this way, see. I have to travel for a few days an' lil' bit asked if she could stay here while I'm gone. I told her I'd see what you had t'say. Now I 'ave... I'll go elsewhere. Sorry to intrude."

"Wait just a damn minute! What is that supposed to mean?"

"You don't even have a care for yourself right now, Rupert. Can't trust ya t'care fer lil' bit, can I? G'night."

"Spike!"

"Look, no arguin' about it okay? The place is a bleedin' wreck... and so are you. Ring me up when you get yourself back together."

"You never loved her."

The words struck Spike's ears like his namesake weapon. Suddenly furious, he vamped, spun and rushed Giles, driving him backwards into the nearest convenient wall.

"I'll kill you for that. No guilt, no remorse. I will just fuckin' kill you..."

"Please..."

"Beggin' never did cut any slack with me. Just made me more pissed off..."

"No. Please kill me..."

Shocked, Spike backed off, his fury gone, replaced by anxiety.

"Damn. What the hell are... do you even know what you're sayin'? Shit, I don't think you do. Look, Giles..."

Without warning, Giles leapt forward and attacked Spike, though his weakness left him little to fight with. Spike merely grabbed his wrists and held him off.

"Kill me, damn you! Kill me..."

"Stop this, now. I'm not doin' any such thing. We're all in pain, Rupert. You're not the only one who wanted to..."

Still struggling with Giles, Spike censored himself, understanding that if he returned to his own dark places he'd be back where Rupert was now in less than a minute, perhaps not even that long. Suddenly seeing his sorrow mirrored, however briefly, in Spike's eyes, Giles went still. His weeks long depression cracked, then shattered and began to fall away in the face of another's anguish for Buffy.

"Spike? Lord... I'm sorry. I don't know..."

Gazing around the room, he grimaced at the sight. "Where have I been and for how long?"

"You been grieving, man, like we all have. No shame in it. You bein' a perfectionist an' all... I guess you just felt like doin' it till ya got it right."

"Yes. Perhaps. This can't be my apartment... it's a federal disaster area..."

"Kinda, but it can be fixed. You get upstairs and hit the mattress. I'll see what I can do 'bout this."

"No. It's my pigpen. I should do it myself..."

"You... couldn't pick up a used tissue." he joked gently, turning Giles and pushing him toward the stairs. "Go. I'll call Dawnie and let her know I'll be here for a while. Come down when ya wake up an' I'll fix ya somethin' t'eat if you're up for it."

Reluctantly, Giles went, feeling that maybe he would sleep peacefully for once. Halfway up the stairs, he turned to watch Spike replace the phone, move into the kitchen and return with a large trash bag into which he began to stuff some of the many empty liquor bottles that lay strewn around the room.

When he awoke the following morning, Giles stretched his neck a little to see the bedside clock and discovered it was already ten-thirty. Rising slowly, he drew his favorite cotton robe toward him, then changed his mind and decided he felt like actually wearing clothes. For the first time in several days he grabbed a towel and headed for the shower. As the water sluiced over him he could almost feel the last flakes of his self-imposed cocoon of isolation and wretchedness leave him.

Moving back to his room, he pulled on a simple polo shirt and a comfortable pair of jeans, stepped into a pair of loafers and made his way downstairs and into the kitchen for his toast and tea, only to find it already hot and waiting for him and Spike just finishing the dishes.

"I didn't expect you to still be here. Who's watching Dawn?"

"Lil' bit's pretty used t'me bein' out nights. I called to be sure she didn't need nothin' urgently. Says she's fine an' she understood you havin' the more pressin' need. How're you doin'?"

"Better. Much better. I... I want to thank you, but that doesn't seem like enough somehow."

"No need. She'd expect no less of me."

"Dawn?"

"Buffy."

"Yes. Spike. Did you notice anything strange about our little... fight last evening?"

"No. Why? Did you?"

"Yes, actually. You drove me into the wall quite hard... but you didn't feel any pain in the bargain."

Turning from the sink to face Giles, Spike's expression clearly showed his astonishment.

"Cor, you're right. Well, well and well. Happy birthday to me. Think it, like... broke?"

"More likely it shorted out when... that night. A sudden burst of intense emotion, too much electrical energy floating around the brain... zap."

"Yeah. Zap. I like that." Spike repeated, chuckling low.

"Yes. You have changed your mind about Dawn I hope. A mild concussion and fifteen hours of sleep have served me well I think."

" 'Course I have. Told her this mornin' you were back with the livin' and she could come here after the shop. She's been hangin' round there most days... just to be with familiar faces, ya know. Keeps her..."

"From doing what I did? It's alright. I understand. I got lost, but you dragged me back onto the path. I'll be alright now." Giles told him, rising to walk him out to the front door.

"Someone had to, watcher-boy. If I read you right, you were on the edge of doin' somethin' fairly stupid when I showed up."

"Perhaps. I don't remember all that much."

"Judgin' by the number a'vodka and Glenfiddich bottles I dustbinned, I'm not surprised. You take care a'yourself, and keep both eyes on Dawnie. No more a'that."

"No. Have a good trip, William."

Almost out the door, for the second time in two days, Spike whipped back around to glare at Giles, fury in his eyes.

"That... is not my name. Use it again, an' I'll bleed you dry. Got me?"

"I... I'm sorry."

"Yeah, you are. You and all your kind."

"Excuse me?"

"You heard me fine. Do what I told you."

"What you told me? I have a mother back in England, thank you very much, and I am noone's slave! Why do you do this? You're perfectly fine one minute, the next you're a... a sullen, sniping child. I shall never understand you..."

As had happened the day before, in his anger Spike allowed his demon to surface once again. This time, he rocked back and forth, heel to toe on both feet, hands clenching and relaxing, as if trying to maintain control, but it lasted only a minute. In a flash of motion, Giles was once again pinned to a wall, held there by two inhumanly strong hands on his shoulders and a vampire two inches from his face.

"I may not be your mum, watcher-boy... but I can be your master... as easy as this." he growled, switching his grip swiftly to the watchers' throat. "See... what you need to understand... is that you human feebs are the lowest form of life on the planet... and that Dawnie... is the only one left out of your entire, worthless race of worms... I'd ever raise a fingernail to save again!"

"Don't do this... gahhhh... I don't want this an... anymore..."

"I do. I should have done this the day we met. I'm not gonna kill you, sweets... just... change your life. Or should I say unlife..."

"No! God, no..."

His panic rising uncontrollably, Giles squeezed his eyes shut and tried to prepare himself for the pain about to be visited on him. The only injury he received, however, was a slightly worse headache than he already had as Spike shoved his head into the wall, releasing his victim and moving away to stalk the living room.

"Bloody... I've waited all this time, waitin' to be able to drain off a skinbag 'stead of a plastic one... Now it's right under my claws... no pain to punish me, and I still can't feed! Grahhhhh! I'm turnin' into freakin' Angel!"

Massaging his bruised throat, Giles felt an immediate, and perfect, reply come to his lips, but pushed it back.

{I can't. Dawn clings to him like a security blanket. If I push him too far and he does hurt me... or, God please forbid it, turn me, Dawn will never forgive him and she needs the stability... Oh, to hell with it. Dawn will have Willow, Tara and the others...and I've wanted to use this line for years.}

"I know Angel. I consider myself a friend of Angel's, and let me tell you... you are no Angel."

Smiling viciously, fangs gleaming in the pale light, Spike slammed Giles back the inch or two the smaller man had moved away from the wall, holding him in place by the chin.

"That was all I needed. Won't you ever learn to shut your mouth? Hard as it is, I'm gonna bleed you anyway... let your buddies try and catch me."

Ever so slowly, Spike leaned in close to Giles neck, nuzzling and barely nipping with his fangs, trying to prolong the moments before he fed, desiring a higher plateau of fear that would make the meal sweeter. Giles obliged, terror flooding his body with adrenaline, but within moments another, equally intense reaction added its two cents to the mix and the would-be victim groaned almost inaudibly, praying Spike would get it over with before he died of shame and disgust.

%Your cruel device, your blood like ice one look could kill, my pain, your thrill...%

{I'm not ready to face this yet, damn it, I'm not! God of the stupidity prone, if you'll just make him sink into the floor, make him lighter than air... anything, I will swear eternal allegiance.}

The watcher keened inwardly as he felt Spike's large hand snake between their bodies to discover the evidence of Giles' arousal. {Shit! The universe just couldn't give me that kind of good karma when I really need it...}

Abruptly, the oppressive aura of violence and rage the vamp had built up burst like a soap bubble and his attitude did an instant 180 degree turn-around.

"What the hell..."

"If you're going to turn me, do it now!" he shouted, one hand coming up to cover his eyes. "Please, God, do it now... after this I have no reason to live any longer anyway. I'll be the laughingstock of Sunnydale... I'd rather cut the Master's toenails..." he mumbled more softly.

Instead of complying, Spike braced his hands on either side of Rupert's head, leaned back in and whispered in the other's ear.

"Nope. Don't think so, Rupert. Tell me... what did it, hmmm? Was it the fangs, or me bein' so close? Probly the fangs... How long have you wanted, me, ducks? How long have you been dreaming of me wrapping my hands... and my lips around that sweet-meat between your legs? Tell me..."

A rage of his own boiling up inside him now, Giles laid his hands against Spike's chest and pushed him away.

%You come on strong with a great big smile but your teeth are as sharp as a crocodile.

You promise me the moon and the stars and the sun but you never did nothin' for anyone...

There used to be a time when you were the best, you had the fastest tongue in the West.

You gave a look and a line like nobody else. You'd try to sell the Bible to the devil himself...%

"Excuse me? Is that any way to respond to a properly begun intimate proposal?"

"Get out! Stop laughing at me and get out."

"Who said I was laughing?"

"You must be balmy! Spike not taking advantage of a clear opportunity to humiliate me... it wouldn't be Spike."

Gracefully, slowly, his expression so solemn and un-Spike like that Giles felt a million and one doubts and questions suddenly assault him, the vampire moved back close to the older man until their noses were touching, and spoke so softly that Rupert had to strain to hear him.

"You're right. But... I'm not always Spike... and I'm... not... laughing."

"Stop... if your intent is to make a fool of me... please stop."

Spike kissed him lightly on the forehead. The watcher's eyes slipped closed and shivering began to rack his entire frame until he was sure his body was about to shake apart at the joints.

***I'm dressed in black, I'm a heart attack and my draw is lightnin' quick

If you're lookin' for a man with magic hands I can really do the trick.

If someone's givin' you trouble, I'll be there on the double,
Just call me on the line.

I got a muscle I can flex that'll fog your little specs 'till you think you're goin blind...***

"I told you it isn't. Can I touch you again? Let me touch you... just once, hmmm? Please?"

"No... God, I can't let this happen..." Giles mumbled, his words utterly unconvincing, even to his own ears, the skin of his face and hands suddenly chilled as blood rushed away from them and sent its heat elsewhere.

"Yeah, you can. It's alright to want it... need it. A man gets lonely, tired of pleasurin' himself... someone else, even a pain in the hindquarters like me, can make it better. Let loose watcher-boy. Let go... and lemme make it better..."

%I used to be so in control but reality is losing its hold.
Now, I don't know where to begin Just look at the state that I'm in My mind is in total decay%

***I'm coming to take you away..."***

"Please... no... God help me, please... don't..." Giles whispered, even as his body took control and settled the argument, surrendering and relaxing into the easy caresses and slow movements of a willing pair of hands.

"Relax... That's it. This is good... I hate the jeans with millions of buttons and a snap and... supposed to be fashion... when you're hot an' bothered... they're just frustratin'. No tightie whities? You little scamp you... let's see, now... Holy mother of... you really got somethin' here don't ya? Hardly get my fingers around it... Never woulda' guessed." Spike chuckled, freeing his hand despite Giles soft protest noises. "S'alright, luv. Easy, now. Decisions must be made." he murmured, stepping away to allow Giles freedom of movement.

Giles immediately took the offer and strode several steps into the room, breathing heavily and holding his jeans closed with one hand.

"I... don't understand."

"It's like that insipid game show... Who Wants to Be, ya know? I ask a question, ya clear your head and think on it, then give me a final answer."

"Ask. Just a warning, I'm very well read."

"Cute, sweets, real cute. Look, your body's beggin for it, but any man's would after all this time by his lonesome. I won't go forward on a blush an' a tingle. Your million dollar question is... what do you want?"

Standing with his back turned to Spike, Giles worked frantically to clear the lust fog from his brain and logically analyze the past few minutes of his life. Once he was able to think, the answer seemed obvious, but he knew it wouldn't end up being that simple.

He'd been rejecting this growing part of him, rejecting himself, for over a year and a half and, until five minutes ago, acceptance had still seemed unattainable; un-crossable light-years away.

Until five minutes ago.

Slowly, he faced Spike, gazed intently into his eyes for a long moment, then moved past him and up the stairs.

"Hey. A, B, C or D?"

Pausing near the top, Giles cleared a suddenly tight, dry throat and spoke.

"This is all the answer I can give you, for now at least. Coming?"

Grinning, Spike shook his head a little and sauntered after Giles, finding he was eagerly anticipating the hours ahead.

TBC...