Cordelia crept silently down the stairs, silky robe wrapping around her legs. She padded across the darkened living room, heading towards the fireplace. At the mantelpiece she started opening the small boxes that rested there, looking for something. With a sigh of relief she found it. Dropping to the rug, she sat crossed legged and then pulled a joint and a lighter out of the box. She lit it and smoked slowly, pushing her dark hair out of her face.

Things were changing.

Things were changing between them and she was scared.

Not of Giles, she could never be scared of Giles. He could beat her black and blue...and had on occasion...but he never frightened her. She trusted him, even if she couldn't trust anyone else. Ever since they had started this thing, this affair, he'd taken care of her, taught her, kept an eye out for her.

Now, they were getting closer.

The lines had been clearly drawn when they had begun. She was curious, fascinated with the ideas of dominance and submission. She read the books she'd pinched from her mom over and over again. They aroused her more sharply, more intensely than anything else ever had. She wrote out scenarios in a special notebook. Stories full of dark passions. It was a small naughty game she played with herself. Then she'd forgotten her notebook in the library. Giles had picked it up and Story of O had fallen out of it. He'd taken the binder into his office. She'd rushed back to the library looking for it, not knowing that he was waiting with it in his office, and she was too embarrassed to knock and just ask him if he'd seen it. This had only made him more curious, and he'd finally glanced at the contents...and found a nude sketch of himself that she'd done and tucked inside the pages. She knew never knew how much he'd read, he hadn't told her. Enough, though, to understand. He'd returned the book to her with a note.

"Until you are brave enough to ask, you won't be brave enough to do. What do you want?"

That was all it said.

Cordelia had wrestled with herself for a week. Finally, on a Sunday afternoon, she'd gone to his flat. She asked. He'd walked to her and kissed her, reminding her that no one could find out. She'd agreed. He'd locked the door and led her upstairs.

She drew deep on the joint, remembering that first time. It had been the most exciting time she'd ever had. Giles had ordered her to strip. He'd walked around her, inspecting her, touching her lightly. He'd bent her neck and pushed her to the carpet on her knees. With that action, she learned her place. He never let her forget it. He'd removed his jacket and tie, but no more. That had been incredibly hot to her that she was naked and exposed and he wasn't. Giles had made her ask, then beg to be punished. That had been the hardest. Having to admit what she wanted, ask and beg for it, acknowledge that she was helpless to her longing. She'd been bright red from blushing when he'd heard enough and drew her over his lap on the edge of his bed. He'd made her lace her fingers together behind her neck.

He used his bare hand, slowly and thoroughly, to set her ass and thighs on fire. Giles worked carefully, building slowly. At first, she had to fight her own resistance, had to keep moving her hands back up to her neck when she would involuntarily would drop them back. When that happened he would stop the slaps and pet her, pressing with his fingers and making her gasp with arousal. Soon, Cordelia began to just lose herself in the feelings. He grew harsher and harsher and she didn't resist, just giving ragged breaths, almost in a trance-like state.

After Giles was done, he'd led her on her knees to his mirror. She was turned so she could see her bottom. She was red and swollen. She'd run her fingertips over the hot, tender skin. Cordelia trembled. He'd slid a hand between her thighs in the front, caressing her. He told her how wet she was, how wet her punishment had made her, how much she needed this. Slowly, like he was playing a delicate instrument, he made her come.

Giles hadn't expected her to reciprocate. She'd begged and pleaded to with him. It became vitally important to her. At last, he moved them to the bed and let her suck him off. It hadn't taken long; he was rock hard and very ready for the touch of her mouth. That had made her overjoyed, knowing that he'd liked it, that it wasn't just something he was making himself do for her.

That had been the start of it. He was 'training her', was what he called it. Teaching her about it. Cordelia was learning about her desires. It was all about sex. It was just a game. It had been exciting and thrilling. He had introduced her to so many things, let her discover more feelings and sensations. It had helped her feel somewhat whole after Xander had broken her heart. Her emotions had frozen, shut down, and Giles didn't expect more than she could give.

And yet, things were changing. They were both giving more. Giles was becoming more important to her. They were going to each other more, calling each other more. He was becoming more possessive of her.

It had gotten hammered home to her not long ago, when she'd done something stupid.

She'd gotten the idea in her head that maybe Xander had turned away because he'd suspected what sort of girl she was. What she really liked and wanted. Willow was so innocent, so nice, and so good all the time. Cordelia had never kept a single boyfriend for very long, until Xander. She always enjoyed casual dating. The last boy she'd been that serious about had been Kevin, who had died. Mitch had been the next serious, but they hadn't lasted through summer separation. She wondered how long Xander had been seeing Willow. Had it had been going on all along? Why had it gone wrong? Did Xander just want an ordinary girl? What was wrong with her?

Cordy had felt like she was going to cave in, fall apart. She was tired of pretending all the time. She'd gone to the Sunset Club. She'd had to get away from the Bronze, away from the faces, just away. They had barely given the fake i.d. a passing glance and given her as many rum and cokes as she'd wanted. She'd danced a lot. Better than that bitch Faith who was both admired and feared by everyone. Nobody ever called Faith a whore to her face. Everybody always wondered if Faith was okay. Nobody held Faith's past against her, even though she left her Watcher dying and cut and ran on her. Okay, so nobody likes Cordy, nobody trusted her, nobody would stand by her. Okay, so fuck it. Who needs them!

Two college boys joined her for a dance, then another, and then a drink and then another. They were cute and friendly. Overly-friendly. She knew they were probably trying to think of how they could both do her, and she was too loaded to care. They worked hard at chatting her up, until she wished they'd just cut to the chase. It got a bit fuzzy after that. She remembered walking out of the club, only staggering a bit. She remembered leaning against a car, someone's hands on her tits and someone else's tongue in her ear. She remembered cold metal against her back and looking at the stars. Then Giles' angry face loomed over her.

All Giles told her was that he'd shown up before things had gone 'too far'. He wouldn't explain exactly how far along they'd gone. He'd been furious with her. What if those guys had been vampires or demons? She hadn't even known their names! She'd been too drunk to think straight, and there hadn't been a condom in sight! He'd dragged Cordy back to his flat, lecturing non-stop, having to pull over to the side of the road twice to let her throw up. She'd woken up on his sofa the next morning, reeking of smoke and rum, her blouse badly buttoned and missing her panties.

Giles had brought her some black tea with a lot of sugar in it. She couldn't meet his eyes. He stroked her hair and said, "I'm so furious with you I'm tempted to tie you to my bed for a fortnight and punish you every hour. Which would be foolish, since I'd be rewarding you for your own self-destruction."

"Do you you think they would have hurt me?" She whispered.

"Thinking back, maybe not. I wasn't going to take that chance. You're too important to me." He sighed and sat next to her, gathering her into his arms. "I wish I could take this pain away from you, Delia."

"I'm sorry. That was really stupid of me."

"Yes, it was. And I'm sorry too. I shouldn't have been so angry with you. I just...seeing you there, with those two all over you...I hated them touching you...taking you with so little respect. At that moment, I really thought of you as mine. I tore them off you. Do you remember?"

"No..." she shook her head, eyes wide.

Giles gave a small smile. "I don't know if they could tell whether I was a jealous lover or an angry parent. Either way, they didn't want to pursue the matter."

Cordelia flicked ashes through the fireplace grate. She didn't want to pursue the matter at the time either. The idea of being Giles', what? Lover? Slave? At the time was too much for her. It was thrilling and terrifying all at once, threatening to drown her. She was afraid, gut-wrenchingly afraid of needing him too much. If she needed him, he just might disappear.

It never occurred to her that he might need her.

Cordelia had known something was happening. Something Watcherish... She didn't see him as much, he'd spent most waking hours in the library. He had to deal with the Council, which left him edgy and frustrated; close to a shouting fight for days. She'd come to him there a couple of times for a couple of wild, fast fucks; quick steam releases. Then there had been one long phone call. His body language had tightened so much that she was afraid that he'd snap. His voice was sharp as glass. Cordelia could almost see the weight being put on him. She wanted to do something, anything to help him. Whispering in her ear, he asked to whip her. She agreed without hesitation, stripping and assuming the position.

It had been different that time. Cordelia could feel it as he started to warm her up with his hand. No less pleasurable for her, but different. This time, she'd been giving her pain for him, doing this for him, not just for her own gratification. She felt blissful, even though Giles was harsh, as he leaned her against the desk and brought the belt down again and again on her haunches. She finally had to drop her head and lace her fingers behind her neck to keep from crying out. Giles' body finally relaxed against her, he drew her up, pressing her to him, fondling her breasts, mouth ravishing her throat. The feel of her abused skin next to his wool trousers always made her fiercely on edge. He pushed her into a crouch. She felt the cool gel against her anus and the rush of intense pleasure as he took her there. She loved it when he fucked her like that, the taboo pleasure that brought her ecstasy and shame. He'd been the first, the only, and it was like every time he did it, it reinforced his dominance. When he thrust in her ass, she felt completely mastered by him. She moved her hand to touch herself but he refused her. She keened in protest, but gave up to him, losing herself in his thrusts, pushing her farther and farther. She gave a moaning wail as he came. He pulled her back as he leaned back against the desk. Cordelia was shaking with rocketing sensations, ready to beg and plead to come, when he ordered her to spread her legs. He lifted the belt again and lightly slapped her vulva. Her whole body arched like a bow, and she panted. Using the belt, he spanked her between her legs until she came again and again.

He led her to the sofa and drew a throw around her. He cuddled her close, kissing and murmuring. His gratitude filled her with joy. He kissed her deeply. "Oh, Delia. I wish I could tell you, but I can't. I gave my word."

"Is it dangerous?"

"Yes. Very much so."

"Is it going to happen soon?"

Giles' sighed. "Buffy's birthday...or soon thereafter." His hand stilled for a second, then continued to stroke her hair. "She'll need her friends."

She knew what he was asking, and had the satisfaction of being ahead of him. "I bought her a birthday card. And some earrings. But I'm not making any promises."

"No, no. Of course not."

She swallowed. "The weekend after? My parents are going to New York for a few days... Would you like me to...come stay?"

"Yes, I'd like that very much. We'll have to be careful, but I think...I think I'll need you near. Thank you, Delia."

And here she was...

He'd been dismissed.

Cordelia had let herself in to find him on the sofa, holding a drink and not drinking it, looking completely destroyed. She'd taken the glass from his nerveless hands and taken him in her arms. Giles buried his face in her hair and wept.

She stayed. For two days, she stayed, sharing his bed, his bath...just being next to him, nearby for him to touch, to hold. They had hardly spoken, but there wasn't a burden to speak. Cordelia had never felt like she was reassuring to someone before. It gave her a warm feeling deep inside. She could understand his feelings, she knew what it was like to feel like a failure. She also knew that the Council was wrong. Nobody could have done for Buffy what Giles had.

Which found her here, smoking a joint in the middle of the night. She closed her eyes and savored the smoke.

A creak on the stairs caused her to look up. She smiled.

"I see you found my stash." Giles said wryly. He walked over and took the joint from her fingers and had a hit. Cordelia was relieved. He finally sounded a bit like himself again. He sat on the sofa. She climbed on him and took it back.

"Wanna punish me for it?" She asked wickedly.

For the first time in two days, he smiled. Pulling her face in, he kissed her. "I'm too tired. We'll put in reserve. Delia?"


"Thank you. I don't know how I would have managed without you here."

Tears pricked her eyes. "You're welcome."

They finished the joint together in silence. He pitched the roach into the fireplace. Then with a small grin, he kissed her on the nose. "We have to work on your mushroom and tomato for the eggs though."

"Hey! I still can't believe you fry tomatoes! It looks revolting."

"You overcook them. When they're perfect, they're glorious. Now if you want revolting, I'll make you a black pudding."

"Sorry, black is only for wardrobes, not breakfast. I'll make you hash browns. Fresh even. I like the tea in the morning though." She stroked his chest.

"Good. Ready for bed, again?"

"Mmmm...yes." She kissed him, soft and relaxed.

Gathering her up, he carried her up the stairs, and put her back to bed. Curling around her, he took her in his arms. In the ring of protective warmth, she fell asleep.