A.N Sorry this chapter was a while in coming. I had it started, but when I read over it, it didn’t make any sense what-so-ever, so I had to give myself a break, and turn my attention to a couple of other things, before I tackled this afresh, and refreshed. Hope it’s at least partially worth the wait.
It was a couple of hours after dawn, when Ethan stopped the car for the last time, pulling up just out-side the driveway of the old country estate. It would have been far too much like tempting fate, for him to actually drive up the driveway, and into the grounds, He wasn’t entirely sure that he would have been able to resist the temptation to do something ridiculously destructive to the postcard-perfect grounds, otherwise.
And that wasn’t really the impression that hat he was aiming for.
This was going to be a final farewell. And so, he wanted Rupert to have good memories about it, in spite of the fact that he wasn’t entirely thrilled, and nor did he truly see the need to go through with it. It was a tiny price to pay, when he had finally won outright.
Rupert turned to him, and cocked an eyebrow. He fell back on his usual defensive behaviour, smirking in response.
“You sure you’ll be fine, out here?” he asked, for what had to be the fifth time.
“Oh go on, and get it over with,” Ethan said, undoing his seat-belt and swiveling around to pull out a flask from behind the drivers seat, “The sooner you go in there, and do what you feel
you have to do, the sooner we can be on our merry, winding path.”
“Ethan,” he started.
“Don’t mind me,” he cut Giles off, quickly, “I’m just feeling a tad defensive, what with remembering the last time I was ever welcome –or unwelcome, at any rate –here.”
“I can’t exactly blame you,” Giles murmured, under his breath, “It didn’t exactly make for the stuff of pleasant dreams. I… I wasn’t exactly all that welcoming. And my father was more than a little tempted to put a bullet through you, himself.”
Ethan bit back a couple of smart comments that he could have said about that
Giles undid his own seat belt, and turned towards Ethan, before hesitating for a heartbeat. Ethan’s expression was closed, and defensive, “Had to fall for a damned drama queen,” he grumbled, before reaching out a hand, and resting it against the side of Ethan’s face. A hint of the defensiveness fell away. And then he pressed his lips, all to briefly, against Ethan’s, and the Mage allowed a hint of smile to play across his features.
“Thanks,” he breathed, softly, and Giles gave him a terse smile.
“Thirty minutes. Then, if I’m not out, you can come in and get me.”
“What, and risk facing you father’s famous temper?”
“You’re Immortal, Ethan. I think you’ll survive.”
“Yes, and if looks could kill, then I’d probably have been young and beautiful forever,” the Mage pointed out, dourly.
At that, Giles really did roll his eyes, “You do realize that I don’t care if you look thirty, or three hundred?” he asked, as he opened the door of the car, and started up the driveway.
There was no reply to that. Or, none, at least, that he could make out.
Once Giles was well out of earshot Ethan frowned to himself, “So you say now,” then he grinned. It didn’t matter if he were thirty, or three hundred –he wasn’t going to age another day in his life. Now there was a nice thought.
And, even before that… well, Chaos magick was good for the figure, if not for much else.XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
Duncan wasn’t really surprised to find that his apartment in Seacouver looked far from lived in, when he finally got there. But he was a little disappointed –at least until he walked into the sitting room, and found a plain white envelope on the coffee table.That
hadn’t been there before. He was certain of it.
And the light on his answering phone was blinking at him, too. Which meant that anyone that really mattered had probably already figured out that he’d been headed for here.
He opened the envelope, even as he pressed the button for playback, and sat down to read.XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXMacLeod
Thanks for the offer –I really do appreciate any helping hand that I get these days. Sure as hell, I’ve burnt more than a couple of bridges over the past decade or so.
Just because I’m not here at the moment, doesn’t mean I’m not gonna be –I’ve just got a couple of things I have to sort out, first. Things to do, people to placate, etc.
I guess you get the picture.
Well, anyways, give me a week or so before you write me off as a lost cause, please.
I actually do look forward to catching up with you –properly, and not with us at opposite side of the Game.
You know, without me living down to other peoples’ expectations of me, in other words.
He sat down, and folded the letter, sliding it back in. There hadn’t really been much in the note that he couldn’t have guessed, outright.
Still, that didn’t mean that he didn’t find it a little… disheartening.
Sighing, he picked up the phone. He had a date to keep.XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
“Rupert?” his father opened the door, surprise showing quite plainly on his face, “I… ah, I wasn’t expecting you, to say the least. Come in,” he stepped away from the door, “What brings you here?”
As Rupert stepped in through the door, he felt the familiar tickle of the wards brushing over him. He was surprised that they didn’t flair, like they were meant to when they passed over something that was unrecognized.
Which had to mean the Immortality didn’t alter a persons’ base magick, or essence, or whatever. It was fascinating, really, and if he’d given him-self longer then half an hour he’d have looked into it.
But it wouldn’t actually do anyone any good, really, were Ethan to take him up on his offer to come in and get him.
While the wards hadn’t kept the budding mage out in the past, things had changed now. Ethan’s power was a lot darker now then it had been the last time he’d been here. And the wards were designed specifically to prevent the crossing of destructive magick.
He followed his father with his gaze as the old man went to put on the kettle.
And he felt a bite of guilt.
Damn it, but sometimes he wished he could be as well controlled, emotionally, as his old friend seemed to be.
Drinks made, they sat down across from one another, and he managed a tentative, although sincere smile.
“So, what did you say brought you here?”
“I didn’t. I came to let you know that I…” Rupert paused, trying of think of the gentlest way to word things. Then he decided that the best way to do it was completely, and straight up, with no gloss. After all, it wasn’t like he was doing it out of spite, or cruelty, “I came to say goodbye. I… I have to leave.”
The old man didn’t look surprised. Or annoyed, or upset, or anything else that he may have expected. Instead, he frowned at him slightly, as he took a sip from his cup, and nodded.
“I thought that you would come by later, rather then sooner.”
“How did you know that I was going to come by at all?”
“I still have my ways, boy. I still keep an eye on you. Or, at least, I have.”
Rupert swallowed, “So… you know?”
“Yes. I know what you’ve been doing. I know whom
you’ve been seeing.”
“I don’t need to tell you everything.”
Rupert put down his cup, and stood quickly. He’d only been here for some ten minutes, but already it felt like ten minutes too long. He was receiving a rather painful reminder of why he’d vowed never to set foot in here again.
It was one word, clipped, and sharp, which left no room for argument.
“Goodbye, Rupert. Take care of yourself,” in spite of the barely masked anger that was now evident in his tone, Adrian also allowed a hint of sincerity to creep through.
And as his son left, for what he knew would be the final time, he stood on the doorstep and watched him make his way out to the car.
Then, he went back inside and made a fresh attempt to call that Calendar woman, that he’d arranged to have transferred to Sunnydale in order to keep him informed of what was going on there.
Again, he was unsuccessful.XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
Giles threw himself into the passenger seat, as Ethan glanced up, “So, how’d it go?”
“Shut up and drive. I need something to drink.”
Ethan frowned at him, and looked reproachful, but he still turned the keys in the ignition, and pulled out onto the road.
Closing his eyes Giles forced himself to let out a long, slow breath, as he clamped down on his turbulent emotions.
After fifteen minutes of uncomfortable silence, he finally trusted himself to speak, “Sorry. For snapping at you, that is.”
“So, not so well, huh?”
“I think that’s an understatement.”
wouldn’t be a good time to say I told you so.
Not if he wanted to keep all his teeth where they were meant be, anyway.
Come to think of it, Ethan wasn’t entirely sure if teeth grew back when they were knocked out, or not. He knew that limbs didn’t regenerate.
He didn’t really want to find out, either.
“So, anywhere in particular?”
“Just somewhere. Somewhere that’s away.”