Disclaimer: I own nothing to do with Buffy, or Highlander what-so-ever. I wouldn't be writing fanfic if I did. ^^.Tell Me What
Xander was sitting on the couch, which up until around four years ago had served as his bed, staring blankly at the dark television screen. He’d have had it on, just for the distraction that it would have provided, but last night one hell of a storm had swept through, and when it had left it had taken the power with it.One Day Ago
The monitor by the bedside beeped, and Xander glared at it. He’d come to hate hospitals just as much as Giles, at the very least. Even when he knew that they were necessary.
He looked at Giles, who was lying there, far too pale, and then over to Ethan, who looked as though he weren’t sure of what he was meant to be feeling.
In the space of a few seconds, he went from anger to concern, to impatience, reassurance, and everything in between. The only constant, was the pain, which blended everything.
Quietly, he looked back away. It felt like he had walked in on an intimate moment.
And then, the buzz of another Immortal gave him the escape that he needed. Questus, a large man, whose hair was streaked with blue, gold, and red, came up to the door.
“Said your goodbye’s yet, boy?”
No, he hadn’t. Not really.
Not his own, anyway.
Ethan glanced to him, and glanced away.
Spoke without looking at him again.
“I’ll see you later, back at home.”Present Day
The place was quiet –Far too quiet.
He hadn’t felt this uneasy, here, since the morning after the night when Ethan had showed him his own jealousy, by bringing home a complete stranger.
He wanted to know, fully, what had happened last night, but even without being told he could guess.
He knew only what had happened on his side of things.
The memories that weren’t his swirled around his head, pushing him to the brink –They tormented him. Hurt him. Some of them were deeply enough ingrained that he found his cheeks wet when he snapped back to the present.
He hated the after-effects of the bloody Quickening –His first Quickening. He wished that he weren’t alone.Maybe I should put the jug on… Distract myself, keep myself busy –Stay in Ethan’s good books. Na who knows when he’ll get back?
Even as he thought that, the door opened and slammed back against the wall, and a stricken-looking, soaked Ethan came in. He headed towards the stairs, his eyes sliding over Xander as though he barely existed. The only recognition that he gave was when, on reaching the top of the stairs, he looked back and grunted a few brief, clipped words.“Don’t
As he said that, Xander frowned. Maybe it was about time that he packed his bags and moved on…
As the silence enveloped him again, he thought back to where it had started to go wrong.Six Months Ago
Xander was sitting in his usual spot on the arm of the couch, his own arms crossed lightly over his chest, a mild expression on his face.
The room was lit only by the television, but he wasn’t paying it any attention. In fact, the sound wasn’t even on.
Instead, all his attention was directed towards Ethan, who was sitting directly beside him, looking up towards him, a tender hand resting on his upper thigh.
As it crept a little higher, he caught it.
“No, Ethan. I’m serious. Why don’t you ever say it? How do I know that you even do, if you can’t say something so simple? How do I know that this is real, and not just a ploy to keep me in your range?”
“I think you’ll live, even without the declaration, dear.”
Ethan’s tone was mild, and dry, trying to turn something serious into a joke that he could brush off, and forget about. That was the way he always dealt with things whenever they got too close for comfort.
“No. I want to hear it. I need to know.”
“I’m certain, in my case at least, that the words are jinxed.”
“What do you mean?”
He looked at the young man for a few moments, thinking. The he decided that he might as well explain. The Gods knew that he’d told everything else to this boy. When he’d taken his first head. Who his first teacher was, and why they’d parted ways –His first mortal boyfriend, his first Immortal boyfriend. A whole parade of firsts, and he’d revealed them all, for his young student. Almost everything,
he amended, thinking about the stories in between everything else.
And it was all for his young …boyfriend? No, that sounded too distanced. Partner? No, that made things sound like they either worked together, or should have both been wearing rings, in spite of what the law said. Lover? Almost too cliche, but in this case, it was the only word that felt appropriate.
“Last time I said to someone that I loved them, a few months later things ended very badly –And the time before that. And the one that was before that. In fact, it goes all the way back to when I was mortal. It was some six months after telling someone that I loved him, that I lost my life. Sometimes it takes as long as six months, and other times it’s been as quick as a few weeks, but it always happens. Things always end badly.”
“Well, I think that you’re being paranoid.”
“I can assure you that I’m not.”
He moved, slipping off the arm of the couch, until he was sitting directly in Ethan’s lap. It was entirely on purpose that he wiggled a little, as he tilted his head back, allowing Ethan to catch his lips with his own for a few seconds, before he pulled back
“Then prove it.”
He grabbed Xander by the hair, and tugged his head back down, until he was close enough to kiss again. Then, as he did just that, he pushed the young man off his knee, and onto the couch, so that he could do things properly.
Saying what he wanted to hear, without words.
A heated touch, a hungry kiss –Hands, which moved over his chest, his back, pressing into the tiny space between the couch and him so that they could grab at his arse –Lips, which outlined his cock, lightly, through his jeans.
Xander shivered as Ethan bore down, applying a little pressure -just enough of that madding hint of things to come.
A skilled, steady hand undid his zip and the button, drawing down his pants a little way. Then his head dipped again, and he took Xander's cock into his mouth, and sucked it back. A hint of tooth -perfectly controlled and measured, and balanced by the far too practiced wicked tongue, which ran up his cock, and lapped lightly at the head, even as he still sucked.
As Ethan drew his head back Xander gasped sharply as the cool air hit him.
"Fuck," Xander snarled the word with a quiet desperation, as Ethan ran a trail of kisses up his chest. An equally skilled hand, which tugged back the foreskin covering the sensitive tip of his flesh, replaced that beautiful mouth as Ethan kissed him hungrily.
With his next gasp, Ethan's tongue slipped past lips and teeth, to stroke against his own tongue, and Xander could taste a hint of himself on it.
The hand stopped toying around with him, and a heated palm pressed against the inside of a thigh, shifting a leg sideways until it was stopped by the pants, still half up, and entirely forgotten until now. Awkward enough without falling off the couch, what Ethan wanted to do even without the added restraint. And it was only recently that Xander had become comfortable enough within the confines of his relationship to actually allow it.
"Bed?" Xander gasped, trying to rise. Ethan replied by lifting himself up, and pushing Xander sideways so that he rolled, with as much grace as possible (which was none at all, because there were some ingrained talents and habits that not even a master swordsman could correct), off the couch. He didn't know, now, why he’d first scoffed at the idea of a shag-pile rug just in front of the couch. With a slick movement, and far more style, Ethan followed him down, and grabbed at the leg of the pants, pulling them the rest of the way off.
Xander went to roll over as Ethan slid his own pants the rest of the way off but the other man stopped him in a heartbeat.
"No, Alex," always that same nickname in moments like this, and Xander had never asked why; probably something to do with a level of comfort, and letting people too far in, too close to his heart. Alex, Ripper, Tommy, a myriad of other names and faces.
"Want to look at you, see it in your face, as I take you. As I have you."
Pleasure-pressure, mounting quickly, as Ethan spat into the palm of his hand a couple of times, and rubbed it over him-self. He was well past the initial reaction, which had been a rather heartfelt ‘gross.’ Anything else that may have been used was entirely out of sight and out of mind.
Xander shifted, dropping his legs to either side and exhaled sharply as he felt a pair of fingers pressing up and into him, opening him. Another kiss, this one pressing and intrusive, as demanding as the fingers which were, even now, moving and stroking inside him, and then slipping back out.
Ethan grinned at him, that dark, devious, mischievous expression that Xander had come to love, as he raised his fingers to Xander’s lips, and pressed then up against them. Instantly Xander responded, sucking them into his mouth. And as he did that, Ethan grasped his arse with one hand and raised his up, before slipping into him.
Even after all this time, it was natural for Xander to curse out loud, even as he braced himself firmly on the floor and pushed up to meet Ethan, who closed his eyes reveling in the sensation. It was amazing how good Xander felt, with his tight, delectable arse-hole around Ethan’s cock. Ethan threw back his head and arched downwards, driving down as deeply as he could go.
It wasn’t like the sex was actually gentle, or anything like that. Then again, it never had been, not between them
It was always fucking, rather then lovemaking. So it is written, so shall it be,
the older Immortal though to himself with a trace of humor, as he kissed the younger man under him and began to move faster, pushing into him over and over again, hitting his prostate with every thrust.
Xander snarled out loud with each thrust that hit home, and grabbed at Ethan’s shoulders, driving his nails in and tugging one of Ethan's shoulders closer, so that he could drive his teeth into the well-muscled flesh. At that, the mage gasped, the superficial pain a stark, almost fascinating contrast to the overwhelming build up of pleasure moving through him in wave after wave -and even more so, as he moved, and the teeth bore down harder, actually breaking the skin here and there. For a few seconds he tasted the salty tang of Ethan's blood on his tongue, before a shot of pain sparked through him, as the power of the Quickening acted to heal the tiny wound.
At that, Ethan picked up the pace, slamming into him hard, again and again, showing nothing other than hard edges. The words flowing from Xander's lips were entirely unintelligible as the mounting prelude to orgasm washed through him. Almost there, almost there –
Again, again, again –and there it was. Ethan tensed, slamming down as far he could, with an unvoiced cry, even as he curled his hand around Xander and squeezed. The young man cried out as his own orgasm hit, and arched -not entirely sure if he was trying to get away from Ethan, or press himself even tighter against him -then collapsed back, as the shivers of aftershock passed through him.
Xander looked at Ethan, knowing. All of it said, ‘I love you’ –but without words, without true surrender, without having to open his heart, and bare his soul.
But that was the way in which he’d heard it for the last four years. He needed something more.
As they finished, and simply lazed together on the ground, Xander decided to take the initiative. Closing his eyes, and resting his head against the Mages shoulder, he breathed the words.
“Well I love you…”
He tried to wait, and yet seconds later he was falling asleep, slipping into the soul-deep weariness of the deeply sated.
“He never says ‘I love you,” Xander grumbled.
More often than not, every time Xander wanted to talk to Giles these days, it was about Ethan.
“I’ve only heard him say it once, Xander, and I’ve known him a lot longer than you have. It’s just the way that he is.”
What he didn’t say, however, was that when he’d heard it, Ethan had said it to him. And a few weeks after that had been when the Immortal had been forced to kill Randall, and had sent Rupert back home. Back to where he ‘belonged’.
“Tell me what you think that love is, Xander. Is it devotion? Obsession? Obedience? Partnership? Affection? Is it linked solely to the physical? Must it be reciprocated for it to exist?”
Xander looked at him, before finally, saying the truth.
“How the hell am I
meant to know?”Three Weeks Later
When it did happen, it came out of nowhere. Some three weeks after Xander had complained to Giles, when they were lazing in the bed together, he bit the bullet.
Running his fingers through Alex’s hair, he could forget the pains that life had thrown at him. He could pretend that it hadn’t happened, wish it all away.
“You know that I do
love you, Alex.”
The young man looked at him, with wide eyes.
And even as he said the words back, Ethan found himself wondering what disaster it would be, to befall him this time.
What price he would wind up paying for speaking the truth.Five Months Later
He knew, even before he answered the phone, that this would be it. This was his penalty.
A female voice that he didn’t recognize sounded from the other end.
“This is Caroline Yeats, from the General Hospital. Roughly three hours ago, we admitted a Mister Rupert Giles. He came to a few minutes ago, and gave us your name as a contact.”
“How bad is it?”
“I… To be honest, Mr Rayne, it’s surprising that he woke up.”
“I’ll be straight in.”
Even as he said it, Alex came into the room, and seeing the expression on his face, stepped towards him. For a few seconds he fought with the urge to shove the young man away, and simply walk away.
Leave, let him start his own life, and not come back.
If he hadn’t forced his hand then he was sure that this wouldn’t have happened.
“Ethan, I need to tell you something,” he sounded tentative, as he spoke.
"What the hell d’you need now?" he snarled, then winced, regretting the harsh quality of his own words. It really wasn't fair of him to take this out on him -it wasn't really his fault, no matter how much he felt the need -the desperation -to blame someone.
The young man swallowed, "Ethan, two days ago. I ran into someone -one of us -and he challenged me."
His first reaction was a panicked oh, god,
before he got his emotions and thoughts under control. In spite of his best intentions he’d fallen for the young one, and fallen hard. But as much as he wanted to, he’d already re-routed all of the boys’ challenges up until now, and there eventually had to be a point when Xander accepted and dealt with his own Challenges.
Besides, since he’d awoken to his Immortality he’d already had some four years of intensive training at Ethan’s hands. There wasn’t all that much else that he could teach the boy, as stupid as it was to give away ones entire hand.
Anything else that he needed to know would be better learned from real genuine opponents, because practice could only take someone so far. You can’t teach someone in play, what it feels like to take a human life.
Ethan closed his eyes and drew a deep, shivering breath.
Even though he wasn’t entirely stable he tended to be able to keep himself under control for the most part –keep the fires tempered, and the barriers tended.
When he’d first come across Ripper in all his glory it had felt so much like he’d found another half to his madness. The relationship had been hard, and brutal and filled with violence, and he’d loved every second of it. And so had Ripper.
And then, he’d discovered a sort of piece with young Alex falling under his wing.
And the only thing that could really throw Ethan out of sync these days, and back into his old madness, was the loss of someone that he cared about.
That was why he limited the number of important people in his life, for fear of finding himself back in that place where he cared about no one, and nothing other than himself.
In fact, his…instability was probably one of the reasons that he’d turned to chaos. Because he could relate it to it better then anything or anyone else.
“Ethan?” Xander’s voice drew him back to the present.
And the thought, that he might potentially lose two of the three people that he had any feelings for –well, that really brought out the worst in him.
So, it was in his most acidine and snakiest tones of voice that he crossed his arms over his chest, the phone temporarily forgotten in his hand until now, and said, “Well, have fun.”
The he slammed the phone down, and simply walked. Out of his house, and to the edge of the neighborhood, where he came to a rest, with his back against a fence made out of pine, and struggled with himself to control the shaking in his body, and force down the racking sobs that were threatening to spill over.Gods, the loss of control
–It was one thing that he totally despised, being in a place where he wasn’t sure whether or not he could trust his own reactions or emotions.
And finally, after a solid hour left alone with his own thoughts he sensed the approach of another Immortal and looking up he wasn’t at all surprised to see Xander walking towards him. Because that was the type if person that the boy was –And this wasn’t the first time that he’d witnessed one of his turns of temper.
Wordlessly, he took the proffered hand, which quickly became an arm over his shoulder, in spite of the young mans’ fear at being seen in public with another male, and he finally allowed the last of his tension to pass, as he was lead back to their house.
“You… ah, you got another phone-call while you were out there. Did you need anything, other than the usual?”
“No thank you,” his tone was distant, and even, and it was obvious that he was holding any anger –or anything else for that matter –inside himself.
“You know, all that repression can’t be good for you.”
“And the prize for stating the obvious…” Ethan muttered dryly, as he headed up to the bedroom to retrieve his sword.
Half a minute later he came back down with his jacket slung over his arm and his sword god-knew-where, but apparently somewhere on him.
“Got your sword, boy?”
“Yeah. Did you want me to drive?”
He handed the keys over.
“So, what’s the name?”
“Huh?” Xander took his eyes off the road for a few seconds, to shoot Ethan an inquiring glance.
“Your Challenger. What is his or her name?”
“Oh. It’s Questus.”
Ethan nodded, even though Xander had already turned his attention back to the road.
“I know him by reputation. He’s quite young, at least by our terms. If you keep you head –excuse the pun – then you should be fine.”
The hospital was quiet –The kind of quiet that preyed on a persons’ mind.
Before going in, Xander drew out his cell-phone, and made a quick call.
He hesitated out-side of the room that Giles was in, until Ethan came back out.
“In. Now. The feeling, of you hovering out here is… distracting, to say the least.”
“He’s coming here. We’re going to go across the road, the old factory just over there.”
“As good a place as any. Now do
come in. I insist.”Half an hour later
Ethan watched, as Xander followed Questus out of the room. Then he turned his full attention back to Rupert.
One of the few people in his life that he’d genuinely loved.
“A stroke, of all things.”
“Yes, of all things. I told
you that you ought to lift your bloody nose up from the grindstone.”
“I can do without you patronizing me, Rayne.”
Ethan heaved a sigh, and reaching down, took Rupert’s hand in his own, “So, how bad is it? Really?”
“They… they won’t be entirely sure, until they get the test results back, of course, but it’s unlikely that I’ll regain any feeling, or… or movement in my legs.”
“Why me, Rupe?”
“Because… you’re not the type of person to gloss things over.”
Hr ran a thumb over the back of Giles’s hand.
“I’m sure you’ve read my chronicle, Rupert.”
“I… well, until recently, at any rate, I only ever dated the pre-immortal.”
“So I was what? An exception?”
“No. You fit the pattern. Which is why there are several options here. The first option is that we do nothing. The problem with that is that if you have another stroke, then it’s an unnatural death, and I can’t protect you forever. You’d be paralyzed until some one took your head. And that’s an existence, rather than a life. The second option is that I could… finish things now. The damage is fresh enough to be healed by your Quickening. The problem with that, however, is the fact that you’re not young, not as strong, or as quick as you once were. At the most, you’d probably get another decade, or so out of things. You… you wouldn’t really have much of a chance. If you were a little younger, then I wouldn’t hesitate about it, but…”
He met Giles’s eye for a few seconds, before glancing away.
“There’s another option?”
“I kill you, here and now, via magick… It’s a clean death, and… you wouldn’t come back from it.”
He knew, even before he voiced it, the choice that Rupert would make.
He pressed a hand to the side of Rupert’s face. Whispered, to him, softly.
“I loved you.”
Then he began to intone the spell.
Ethan stood on the top of the hill, and lashed out at everything around him with magick.Present Day
Xander watched after Ethan, as he slammed the door to the room behind him. Not the first time he’d encountered Rayne’s famous temper.
And he couldn’t leave him to bear it on his own.
He knew a thing or two about pain, himself.
After fifteen minutes had dragged by, he headed up the stairs, and into the room to find Ethan stretched out, flat, on top of the bed, shivering.
He pressed a hand to his teachers –lovers –back.
“It’ll be okay.”
“No it won’t,” Ethan’s voice broke.
“Maybe not straight away. But it will be okay. I’m here for you. I’m not going anywhere.”
As the words registered through the haze of pain and exhaustion, Ethan found that he was capable of breathing again.
As the room fell into darkness, Ethan stirred, and looked up. It felt insignificant, and trivial, and stupid, but…
“Why are the lights off?”
“The storm last night knocked the power out.”
“I don’t care about the bloody power, Ethan. I care about you.”
“I…” oh, this felt even more ridiculous. It was still equally hard to say, even though the worst had already happened.
“Love you, Ethan.”
“… Love you, too.”