Disclaimer: Nothing that I own, unless you count in my fondest dreams.
And please, if you read it I want to know what you think of it.The Deviant Child.
Pairings: Giles/Ethan (past)
He hated it.
It had been years, and yet it was still instinct to reach out for that power which was still there, but that he could no longer touch. It sat, untouchable, in the depths of a bottomless well inside his very heart. He hated that it was there, yet he fought even brush to against it.
Sighing, he drew up the sleeve of his shirt; up past the sign of the monster he had once sworn allegiance to, to a circle of different marks, which were encircling his upper left forearm. He knew every single one of them off by heart, and he hated them all equally.
Closing his eyes, he reached inside himself, struggling to even brush against his closeted power. As his head began to throb he felt the tiniest brush of it. And then warmth spread through the glyphs, which had been tattooed onto his flesh, and he knew, from having seen before, that they would be glowing blue. Then, he lost even that tiny hold as an agony that was incomparable to anything else in his experience shot through him. He could feel tears coming into his eyes, even though they were tightly shut, and, with a barely held scream he crumpled to his knees. As the pain washed through him again he lost all sense of where he was. All that he was aware of was that he was yelling curses at the top of his voice.
When he came back to himself, at least ten minutes had passed, and he was on the floor curled up into a tight ball. His black and peppered-gray hair was plastered to his forehead from sweat, and he felt as weak as a child. His breathing was rapid, and it took more concentration than he was capable of at the moment to get it back under control. His heart was racing at what felt like two hundred beats a minute, and his head throbbed even worse. Groaning softly to himself, he raised a hand to it, and wasn’t really surprised to find a large lump on it. He was, after all, only inches away from the kitchen bench. As he’d writhed on the floor, he’d probably struck it against that.
“Oh Janus,” he muttered, almost whispered, to him self, as he lay there, helpless. Even speaking the name of the God that he had faithfully served for all those years when he’d had the option of it was, enough to send another warning twinge through his arm. Even the thought of experiencing that depth of pain again was enough to make him wince.
He had no idea why he persisted when he knew it was impossible. No idea why, at least once a week, he brought himself to his knees, or the floor, in an effort to feel even a fraction of what he’d once actually taken for granted.
Groaning, he bought his hand down so that he could see it, and was even less surprised to find blood on his fingers.
“Fuck you, Ripper,” he muttered with a defeated sight, and closed his eyes where he lay.
“It’s the only way that things can ever be safe. It’s the only way that he stands a chance at being normal .A chance at a normal life. He deserves better than a life of longing. He’s not that bad. Not really.”
“Are you sure? It can’t be undone.”
“Yes. And he’d say the same thing if he were in his right mind. I’m sure of it.”
“It can’t be undone, and magick changes people. You know that better than anyone, Rupert. Are you still certain?”
“Gotta be, don’t I? There’s no other real option. It’s the only way any of us will ever have closure.”
“If he wishes to leave, then I have no jurisdiction to hold him here. You understand that, as well?”
“He leaves and I go with him.”
“No. You, I have every right to keep here. It was your fathers direct wish that we keep you.”
“You can’t force me…”
“You would be surprised exactly what we have permission to do.”
“You care deeply for him.”
“Yes, I do. And you know as well as I, that…that is something that Father could never understand. He was only with mother out of a sense of duty. Everyone knows it, yet he would never admit it. He just doesn’t get what it’s like to love.”
“So young, and already an expert, Rupert, hm? Are you sure that you, yourself, understand?”
“Yes. Do it.”
Rupert looked the Council-trained Mage in the eye for the first time since he’d come back, and the other man finally nodded, wrapping a hand around the unconscious Ethan’s arm. Giles hated to see the other boy looking so vulnerable.
Before the Mage started to intone the spell, which would eventually be sealed with the glyph-circle, which Ethan would come to loath, he spoke to Rupert Giles one last time.
“If you are wrong in your assumption, then it’s you whom will have to pay the price.”
“And if I doubted, then you would simply allow him to walk out?”
“No, not if I wanted to keep my job. Your father actually pressed to have a Death Sentence passed.”
“Better bound, than dead, certainly.”
The Mage frowned, yet still started.
It was over a week later that Ethan opened his eyes for the first time, having slept straight through the magick withdrawal, thanks also, to the Mage whom had bound him.
“Fuck it. I’ve tried it, Ripper, and I just can’t bloody do it. I’m sick of being your dirty little secret. You used to be proud to walk down the street with me, and yet these days if anyone ever questions you about it then you bow your head and curl up in the shadows like a kicked dog.”
“Just a little longer. Father won’t be alive for much longer. Please, Ethan. You know what they are saying. That he’ll be lucky to see this Christmas.”
“And once he’s gone, then how many hundreds of other people will you want to hide me from, huh? How many more years until they pass away? How long is it gonna be until you’re even willing to admit that I still live?”
“It’s not like that, Ethan.”
“Then you tell me what it’s fucking like!”
For the first time since he had woken, and been told that his power had been bound for his, and Rupert’s own protection, he reached out for the power, which had always been there before.
Seconds later he hit the ground, hard, with blood pissing out of his nose, as though he’d tried for a particularly powerful spell with no prior preparation.
When he woke up his arm was throbbing, and the circle of glyphs was pulsing blue in time with the throb.
Rupert had obviously taken some small pity on him because he had been laid on the bed with a pillow under his neck, and his head tilted forward so that he didn’t drown in his own blood.
He raised a shaking hand and swiped angrily at the blood, which had dried on his chin and lips. It didn’t matter that he was getting it on his shirt, because the front of it was already soaked through with sweat and dried blood. It was, of course, his.
Ethan peered at it, an incredulous expression on his face. It had been years since the last time his blood had been spilled.
He rose to his feet, a dark anger tearing through him, and lunged at Rupert, who was sitting as his desk, facing away from Ethan, a book, which he was flipping back and forth through, but not really paying any attention to, in his hands.
Had Giles been paying any attention to the other boy then he would have easily been able to move out of the way. But he wasn’t, and Ethan could move far quicker than most people ever gave him credit for. It was a skill that had been undeniably handy when they’d been in London, and rubbing shoulders with the worst that would have them. More than once it had saved him a trip to the hospital, cells, or even the morgue.
It was Ethan’s’ balled left fist caught the back of Giles’ head, slamming it violently forward, so that his chin cracked against the desktop with a rather satisfying thud. Giles went reeling back, but managed to pull himself together so that he could attempt to defend himself from the next blow, which was aimed at the side of his face. This time he caught Ethan’s fist, but there was still too much force behind the blow for Giles to stop it entirely, and it was his own hand, wrapped around Ethan’s’ which caught him in the side of the face. There was still enough force behind it that when Giles spat it was laced with blood. If he hadn’t caught Ethan’s hand then he knew that he would probably have been spitting several teeth out at the same time.
A savage kick came in at his right, and in spite of the fact that he was still woozy from the free blow, which Ethan had gotten in, he managed to step around it. Again Ethan threw himself forward, trying to press an advantage, and Giles’ back slammed against the edge of the desk. Agony shot sharply through him and he saw a flash of white. The pain passed quickly, leaving him a little breathless, and he cursed the solidness of the desk. Had it given way under the force of him hitting it, then he may have been on the ground, but at least he wouldn’t have been almost paralyzed.
Ethan didn’t back off at all. He knew what would be happening the second Rupert regained his footing.
So much of their relationship had been about blood and violence, power and dominance. It had been an age since one had spoken a tender word directly to the other.
It had been too long.
Giles still loved him, but it had been over two years since he had last said the words.
Perhaps, if there had still been some tenderness, then things would have been still salvageable, in spite of everything.
It had been far too long.
Ethan lost himself. And Rupert lost consciousness.
It was only three minutes later when someone burst into the room, yet that was long enough. And even then, it took two more people to restrain Rayne, whom was fighting like a wildcat, biting and scratching, as well as kicking and punching, using everything at his disposal in an offensive manner.
Giles’ father, whom had burst in the second he’d realized something big was going down, knocked the young man out with a sharp burst of magick, and turned to one of the people that had pulled Ethan off his son.
“I thought I instructed that this deviant was to be turned out as soon as he had recovered?”
“I’m sorry sir. I had orders from even higher up, to allow him to stay for as long as your son saw fit.”
“I want him gone, or you’ll be out of a job, yourself. Do I make myself clear?”
The youngest of the operatives tossed Ethan over his shoulder, and turned to make his way down the stairs with the young man in his possession.
That would be the last time for the next seventeen years, that one saw the other. The years were not kind to either of them. Act 2:
Ethan wasn’t entirely sure why he came to Sunnydale in the first place. All that he knew was that he was sick of doing the same thing day after day, again and again. He had paced back and forth from his kitchen to his lounge so often that he had worn through the carpet and linoleum, to the hardwood floor underneath.
And it had been seventeen years to the day since he had last seen Rupert. It was possible that had something to do with his decision, too.
He supposed that a part of him simply wanted to see how the other looked after all this time. There was no fondness in the thought, only curiosity. And while that state of mind had been what had killed the cat, that four-legged, fleet-footed form was entirely off-limits to him these days.
He had gone over quite a few of Rupert’s books when he had been welcome… well, no, not exactly welcome, but at least, not totally denied access to the Watchers headquarters in the two years which he had managed to grit his teeth and hold his temper, and there had been several of them which had been written concerning the locations of Hellmouths.
It took him three years of continent-hopping in order to track Giles down. Quite appropriately, when, for the first time in seventeen years, he laid eyes on Ripper it was Halloween, which is the night that it was when they first met in London all those years ago. It was hard not to approach Rupert, but he seriously doubted that the other man would be happy to see him. He’d heard, afterwards, that Rupert had been in the hospital for around a month, and that the doctors had deemed his condition ‘critical’ when he’d been bought in.
And beside, he knew for a fact that he still wasn’t over the fact that he couldn’t do anything that he’d once been able to.
When Buffy first saw him in the Bronze, sipping a drink and listening to the music, she wasn’t entirely sure why she felt drawn to approach him, any more then she was sure why she felt uneasy around him. He was quite clearly, only human, and yet she couldn’t shake the feeling that there was, or should have been, something more to him.
She thought he was slightly handsome, in a weird, older-guy kind of way, in fact in much the same way that Giles was. He looked world-weary, as though he had seen far more than any one man ought to have been exposed to. And he looked tired in an odd sort of way, too.
As she took a step in his direction, in order to try and figure him out a little more, he threw back his head and sculled the rest of his drink, slammed his cup down on the table, and rose to his feet, practically stalking out.
The beast, which lurked outside was both drawn and repulsed by the bound Sorcerer. It could see the power racing around, under his skin, as hundreds upon thousands of veins of bronze and silver threaded through a solid black background. The binding spell was a sold blue around his left arm, yet in spite of the strength of it, it only just seemed capable of containing the magick, which was active below it.
Then the Slayer came out behind him. The beast had seen her before, and knew to avoid her. She was the only once in this entire town whose entire aura was threaded with and equal balance of black and white. If she ever learned how to expand upon it, then she would be an even more formidable opponent that she already was.
It noticed something changing about her. The way her surround was shifting and reacting was more than enough to send him heading for the nearest route underground.
Giles didn’t believe what he was seeing, when he first spotted the still far-too familiar body making his way up the street ahead of him, only to rapidly duck around a corner before he could catch up.
He was instantly tense, instantly breathing hard, heart pounding, breathing quickening, taken by the memories that he was trying to forget, trying to deny. That he had wanted to forget, but that his body wouldn’t allow him to.
The feeling, of strong fingers lacing through his, or resting, casual, on his side, as in the early days, or tearing at his hair, ripping it back, sending shots of fire throughout his scalp, an open hand striking at exposed flesh. Savage bites, hard enough to draw blood, fingernails scratching down his sides, or, alternately, him self hitting at the other man, until blood ran down his chin, from a busted nose, leaving bruises and welts, and bites, the marks of his claim, loving the way he had curled up, begging for more (hit me again. Harder, Ripper, please, harder)
the feeling of his writhing back against his, flesh entering flesh, as he shoved his head down, into the pillow, or against the cushions of the old, tattered, dark blue sofa, or, on one memorable occasion, the dash-board of his old, clapped out car, or on another, bent over the seat of his bike, an old Triumph.
Pain and pleasure, sex and agony, always hand in hand, had become so interlaced that they had wound up inseparable from one another. Originally based upon love, and affection, the relationship had become a dance of dominance and power, a savage game of submission and mastery.
Even as a part of him longed for Ethan, for the feel of him shivering under him (please Ripper, my Ripper, don’t stop, make me scream, make me beg,)
and Gods, at least he had the decency to blush, even as he felt him self stiffening slightly, another part of him felt sickened at the thoughts of the destructive relationship that had been spawned.
He raised a hand, to rub at the tattoo on his forearm, through his sleeve, that god-awful mark, which had spelled the beginning of the end.
As he felt desire and lust wrestle with hatred, he forced him self to remember what it had been like waking up in the hospital, coming out of the month-long coma, and finding him self alone. Even with the final act, a part of him hadn’t been able to believe that Ethan had simply turned his back, and walked away. It hadn’t been like him at all, to just give up.
But then again, from the moment he had been bound, Ethan turned into someone that he hadn’t been able to recognize, someone that it seemed as though he had never
He longed for that far-too-familiar figure to turn towards him, and flash in his direction, Ethan’s easy, warm grin, that old mischief dancing in intoxicating brown eyes. And he also found he was wishing that his father had imposed the Death Penalty, because at least then he wouldn’t have to deal with this, now. It was the Ethan that he’d known in the early days of their relationship that he truly hungered for, and that creature, he knew through experience, was long-gone.
He knew what his duty was, and he knew that it had to come first. He would have to alert Buffy, and find out if it really was Ethan Rayne, come to town, and if it was he, then for what purpose.
If she had to eliminate him, then that was what would happen, because even without his magick at his beck and call, he was still deadly.
And he would have to be careful with how he worded things. He didn’t want Buffy to be left questioning how he knew so much about the other all ready. If he did say too much, then she was easily intelligent enough to work out that there had been far more to the relationship then what he was willing to cover.
He confirmed it, almost with ease.
“Buffy, I need you to listen to me.”
“Sure, Giles, I’m all ears.”
“There is someone new in town, someone very dangerous.”
“So, is it a job for the Slayer?”
He swallowed, “It is a possibility. What I really need you to do, prior to any assault, is to get close to him, and work out why he’s here. It is purely a reconnaissance mission.”
“So, how do I recognize him?”
He gave her the going description.
“I caught a glimpse of him the other night. He was having a drink in the Bronze.”
He caught the tail end of another memory, come along to play merry havoc with his sense of propriety. Ethan, in their favorite club, swaying and shifting to an eerie trance-like movement, or throwing himself around, body pressed up close to him, rubbing at him through his clothing, whether frantic or dream-like, always sexual, always seductive.
“His name is Ethan Rayne. I used to know him.”
“It doesn’t matter how. All you need to know is that you will need to watch your self around him. Get close, but not too close, because he uses people, then leaves as soon as he’s gotten what he wants from them. He seems charming, but he is deadly. He’ll offer you the world on a silver platter, but he’ll take twice as much as he gives. He is very charismatic, very alluring. You can’t believe any promises that he may offer.”
“So, close, but not too close, and caution. I can do that.” Act 3
It had taken a lot of manipulation on her part, in order to get close to Ethan. Nights of waiting around outside the place he was staying, in order to try to get a few minutes of conversation. Or of following him whenever she saw him in the street.
Sitting in any position that she had to in order to keep him in sight on those rare occasions that he went by the Bronze, or waiting outside when he went into what Buffy had come to realize was his regular.
If she thought on it, the she had to admit that it felt rather creepy. She was practically stalking an older man. And if Giles hadn’t said that he was dangerous, then she would have thought him perfectly normal.
He wasn’t summoning demons, or raising hell, or causing chaos.
It was coming into the third week of Ethan-watching, that he stood without warning, crossed the Bronze, and sat directly in front of her.
“You, my dear girl, are stalking me.”
His tone of voice was so casual that he could have been asking her what she thought of the weather.
“Umm, no?” she attempted, without much hope that it would work.
“Yes,” he countered.
Then he did the last thing that she expected, as he smiled at her. He nodded and asked her, “So, can I get you a drink? It’d be easier for you to keep an eye on me that way,”
Then he winked.
“So, not angry, and filled with a simmering rage, and demanding of an explanation?”
“Actually, I must admit that I find it rather flattering, that a beautiful young thing such as yourself would take an interest in someone like me. Unless, of course, you were hired to do it, by some top secret private organization, or some such nonsense.”
There were two options. She could walk off and forget it. Or she could play it cool, and have a drink with an older man who was obviously hitting on her. Giles had said to be wary, but she hadn’t seen any proof of his warning of caution. And, just like Ethan himself had inadvertently pointed out, it would be easier to keep an eye on him if she were friendly with him, than it was to do so from a distance.
And the first thing that she had thought, on seeing him after all, had been that he was handsome. And if things did go any further, then since Angel had left at the end of last year she hadn’t dated anyone. And it was going on seven months now.
That was a long time for anyone to be alone.
“Yeah, sure. I’ll have a drink.”
“So, dear, what’s your poison? Beer? Wine? Some trendy latte type of thing?”
“Wine?” she asked, rather tentatively.
He rose an eyebrow, and lent in towards her, as though they were conspiring, “Red? White? Flat? Sparkling?”
She honestly didn’t know. It had been a sad attempt to make herself seem a little older than she was, and she could see it now –he was going to have a quiet laugh to himself, and then walk away.
But he didn’t. Instead he simply rolled his eyes, and gave her that quick, cheeky smile which made her heart beet just that little bit faster, and said, “Well, I could always order you my favorite.”
“But you’re a guy. What do you know about wine?”
“More than you, I dare say.”
She had to give that one to him, at least.
And so it was, that the odd friendship grew.
Ethan was satisfied with things. It was interesting, to be around a Slayer. To be spending time with such an attractive young lady.
And, just as Buffy had tracked Ethan earlier, the man now made sure that he saw enough to know that she wasn’t telling Rip –Rupert anything of the time that they were spending together.
Even as he thought the name of the man whom used to be his friend, he felt a dark anger stirring in the pit of his chest.
But this time, the anger was also twinned with an equally dark satisfaction. He was working with the one person who was the most important to Rupert Giles, and the man didn’t have so much as a clue.
And even as he thought that, another thought occurred to him.
He was meant to be meeting with Buffy again tonight.
Maybe it was time…
Time to tell her a little bit more about himself, that he had once been a sorcerer of some magnitude. Show her why he wasn’t any more.
Draw her farther into his game, twist Rupert’s little bird just that little bit further into his grasp.
His smile grew cold, and calculating, as he wondered just how far he would be able to take things. Where would the Slayer draw the line, and say to him ‘no more?’
It would be interesting to find out. Act 4
She looked at Ethan, lazing, naked on top of the bed, eyes taking in the various scars and tattoos on his chest. He was more muscular then she had expected, and the various markings made his seem that little bit more dangerous. Very much the bad boy.
The last person that she had slept with had been Angel, before he had turned.
Reaching a hand out, she ran a finger lightly over the scar, which was just over from his navel, with the question, unasked, in her eyes.
He caught her hand, and wove his fingers through hers, before answering what she had never spoken, “I lived rather roughly when I was younger. Didn’t have quite the same sense of self preservation that I do today.”
“What do they all mean?” she asked, something that seemed to be a cross between awe, and amazement heavy in her voice.
He separated one finger out from all the rest, and traced lightly over the tattoo, which was just above his navel, and one of the most impressive of the lot, “This is known as the Balance. It’s a essential part of magick, although it only tends to be old-fashioned spell casters that represent it like this.”
The one just across from his left nipple was next.
“Power, and Magick. The ankh, obviously, is long life.”
The next most impressive, which finished just above his right nipple, “This stands for entropy, the way everything falls back into its self, constantly changing and being re-formed.”
The tattoo, a little below his right nipple, “The first one I ever got. It’s the Chaos star, with my own personal glyph inside.”
“This one,” which was to the side, and up a little, “stands for combat, and conflict. Taking a stance for what you believe in. And the one just below my lowest scar, represents the light at the end of the tunnel.”
“What about that?” she rose her hand towards the one on his forearm, well below the circle of glyphs that he’d already explained to her.
He tugged his arm out of reach, anger flashing quickly through his expression, “That was a mistake. It… I guess you could say that it represents the beginning of the end.”
He rested his hands behind his head, settling him self again, “So, dear, you gonna join me? Or am I going to have to provide the entertainment myself?”
She laughed, the sound more startled from her than anything else.
She was amazed by his brashness, as she let her gaze wander.
But with the way things had been playing out, this was most certainly where they had been headed.
It wasn’t any surprise to her, that she was about to sleep with Ethan. Ever since she had first seen him there had been some form of attraction there.
“Don’t suppose you’ve got any protection?”
“Second drawer down.”
When Giles had told her to get close to him she doubted he’d had this in mind. Act 5
Just as he was on the edge of coming, he drew out of her, flipped her on to her chest, and pushed into her arse, the unfamiliarity of the action causing her to cry out with pain and ecstasy taking her hand in hand. Seconds later, he stiffened and voiced his own cry, which was half growl, and half scream.
She felt, rather then heard, a roaring throughout her body, and then he collapsed on top of her, breathing heavily.
For him, the familiarity of the position was almost enough to make him ready again. He could feel Buffy shivering under him, although whether from exertion, or something else, he wasn’t sure.
“Shit,” she said, sounding short of breath her self, “shit.”
Ethan drew back out of her, feeling her tense automatically as he slid back, and laughed.
“Monosyllabic sentences. A symptom of great sex.”
“Then what the hell did you just have?”
He laughed again. God, he hadn’t enjoyed sex like that for eighteen years. That wasn’t to say that he hadn’t had any. Just that no one else had ever been on par with his old lover.
“Damn, that was good,” He lazed against her back, his limp member brushing against the inside of her thigh.
“So, what was the deal with pulling out, and changing positions at the end of it?”
“Didn’t want to run the risk of pregnancy, Slayer.”
Then he froze, as he realized what had just came out of his mouth, “Oh, fuck,” he closed his eyes, “please tell me I didn’t just say that out loud.”
Buffy was already moving, shoving him away, and throwing her self out of the bed, “How the hell do you know what I am, Ethan Rayne? Because I sure as hell never told you.”
He tried to cover, “I’m an Ex-Mage, dear. We know things.”
“Don’t you bloody ‘dear’ me,” she picked him up with one hand, and slammed him back against the wall, because there was no need to hide her strength now, “I want the truth, and I want it now.”
In spite of his precarious position, or rather, because of it, he felt his breath quicken, and his heart start to race. It had been an age since the last time he had been manhandled. It was almost like being back at Ripper’s tender mercy
He decided that in this case, the truth may just work best, “Your Watcher, Ripper. Rupert. He and I used to be partners.”
Or maybe it wouldn’t.
He could only watch as she grabbed her top and pants, pulling them back on quickly, giving no though to the rest of her clothing which was scattered around the room, and shoved the door open, storming out.
When Giles got to the library, he found himself face to face with one very livid-looking Slayer.
“Buffy, what’s wrong?”
“What did he do?”
Her expression hardened, and her tone of voice sharpened. Giles had been telling the truth, it seemed, when he had warned her not to get too close to Ethan Rayne.
Because there was no way that he had ever loved her for herself. All that he must have been doing, had been using her in order to get to Giles.
And if Giles couldn’t work it out…
“From now on, Ripper
, you can deal with your own fucking Ex.”
She spun and stormed out.
He closed his eyes, and pressed his hand to his forehead, “Damn it, Ethan.” Act 6
It had been four days since the fiasco that had taken place, and Ethan still hadn’t dared to approach Buffy, for fear of having her stake him.
Even though he was human, he doubted that mattered to her at this moment.
He wasn’t sure at what point he had come to stop thinking of things as a game to get back at Ripper, and started to fall for Buffy as he own person. All that he knew was that that was the way thing had played out. That was the way that they were.
He missed her presence. She had given him a new appreciation for life.
He hadn’t even tried to get past the binding on his powers any time in the last month, that was how satisfied he currently felt.
How comfortable with his life.
He would have to talk to her, make her see that he actually did care.
There was no real decision to make, no real question to it. He didn’t want to lose her. Act 7
As he looked down at her, and kissed her tenderly, he finally let go of all the hatred that he had, in a way, been living in. There was only right now, and right here, with Buffy under him, and around him, body moving in rhythm with his. Her, and her joy was all that mattered right now.
As he gave in to the moment, he felt a sharp tingling in his left arm. His gaze was drawn to the spot, and he found himself frozen, with amazement.
She arched up to meet him, and automatically, he came down. The glyphs, even as he watched, were fading.
“It’s a miracle,” he breathed.
He reached out with his mind, and his power was instantly there, as though he had never been separated from it. He sent it to his fingertips, and brushed the pad of his thumb over her nipple, a smile in his eyes at her instantaneous reaction as she felt the magick tingling through her, heightening the experience. Act 8
“Buffy, wait,” Ethan ran forward, shoving through the crowd before he could lose the blond Slayer again. As he caught up to her he grasped her by the shoulders and spun her around, so that they were face to face. She tried to pull away from him, but not particularly hard, and it was no effort for Ethan to keep his grasp. Finally, she looked up, meeting his gaze, and the pain that he saw in her expression stunned him.
“What was it that you wanted with me now?” she asked, her voice almost breaking.
“I want to know what the matter is, honey. What’s wrong?”
She couldn’t hold back the sob, which broke through her defenses, “You got what you’ve always wanted. You got your power back…an…and…”
She broke off, unable to continue for the moment.
Ethan gave her a minute or two, in order to compose herself more, before he prompted her to continue, “And?”
“Gi…Giles said that you take what you need from people, and then turn your back on them. He said that… that…that you just walk away. And I didn’t want to see you walk away from me.”
She buried her head into his shoulder, unable to contain her tears any longer.
“Oh, honey,” Ethan took a deep breath, as he muttered, drawing his fingers through her hair, “I thought you understood by now, that Ripper and I don’t exactly see eye to eye. It’s true that I’ve done a lot of things that I’m not proud of, but I could never walk away from you.”
“…I didn’t want you to break my heart…”
“Buffy, Buffy, Buffy.”
“…I didn’t want you to see me cry, ‘cause…” the rest of her sentence was too low for him to hear.
Ethan planted a gentle kiss on the top of her head, “I thought you realized that I loved you.”
“You…you love me?”
This time he hesitated. The last time that he had said those three little words had been over seventeen years ago, and if he confirmed them now, then he could never retract them.
“Oh, to hell with it. I. Love. You.”
She tilted her head up, and caught his lips with her own for a few seconds before she replied.
“I love you, too.”
“Well, in that case,” Ethan drew her close, holding her tightly against his chest, as she shivered, “I guess Ripper’s just gonna have to learn to trust me again. And so are you.”