Buffy had Ethan pinned against the wall in a heartbeat, and even Spike, who had never met the man, had to admire her reaction times, even if he did wonder what the he had done to merit such an assault.
"What do you want?" asked Giles through gritted teeth.
"Would you mind calling her off, Ripper? Only I still need to breathe, and it's getting rather difficult." said Ethan in a strangled voice. When Giles didn't respond, Ethan sighed, instantly regretted expelling so much breath, and said "It's about the Stargate program. And the Initiative."
Giles didn't even have to say "Let him go." to Buffy, because she'd already done so. Instead, he settled for asking "What do you know about the Stargate? And what's the Initiative?"
Ethan paused in the act of straightening his clothing. "So you know about the Stargate, then." he said, surprised. Everyone nodded - not that Ethan was paying attention to everyone, he seemed to be looking only at Giles, and had been doing so ever since his arrival. "Well, that'll shave a bit off my story." Ethan said.
"Oh please, can you just tell us what you know already?" said Xander impatiently. On the offhand he didn't, then there was always the chance Buffy would beat Ethan up a little, and seeing as how it didn't look like that was going to happen to Spike any time soon, it just looked like Xander would have to settle.
"No, not really. I've got to tell the whole story so you understand." said Ethan, glancing at Xander briefly as though sizing him up before returning his gaze to Giles. "So, Rupert, can I tell my story, the one that I've come a very long way to tell, or should I just leave?" Ethan asked, clearly hoping to be permitted to stay.
"Well, as tempting as the possibility of you leaving is, we could probably do with your information." said Giles slowly, and was rewarded by a dazzling smile.
"Okay then. So, Ripper, as you know, I'm a devotee of Janus - who, besides being god of chaos, is also god of doorways. Now, a few years back, I noticed a sudden, massive discharge of energy - someone was opening a doorway, and there is only a few of us strong enough to do that, and I know for a fact that it wasn't any of us.
But it never happened again, so I forgot all about it, until it started up again about four years ago or so, when the same discharge happened again. And again. And again. On an almost daily basis, something's been opening doorways somewhere."
"The Stargate program." Buffy interrupted helpfully. Ethan scowled at her before continuing his story.
"Yes. Now, unfortunately I was contracted to this bloke over in Haiti at the time - you know that's how I make my living, right, contracting my magic to the highest bidder? - so I couldn't just up sticks and go investigate.
Fortunately, my contract got terminated rather abruptly a couple of years back - my employer got killed by zombies. Not a lot I can do against them, nasty little buggers. Anyway, so I came over to Sunnydale to see if my old pal Ripper was really on the straight and narrow, like the rumours say."
"There are rumours about me?" Giles couldn't help but ask.
Ethan smirked. "Of course there are, you're the active Watcher! Even if you did get fired. Anyway, the worshippers of Moloch are really pissed at you for killing him, and there are whole tribes of demons out for your blood." he said, and Giles couldn't stop himself from beaming.
"Hey, I killed Moloch! Well, I got him to electrocute himself, but still." said Buffy indignantly.
"That's not the way the rumours tell it. So, as I was saying, I came to Sunnydale and did that little spell on Halloween. Now, if Rupert had been... like he was in the old days, he'd have joined in the fun. But he didn't. I can't say I wasn't disappointed, but I prepared to cut my losses and go investigate by myself.
That was when the Mayor caught up to me and gave me an offer I couldn't refuse - get paid a retainer by him, so my spells would be at his service, or die. So, naturally, I joined him, did that lovely spell on those candy bars, and left when you so elegantly blew him to smithereens.
Which, finally, left me with enough time to go and investigate the Stargate program - although I didn't know what it was then.
So, anyway, I headed up to Colorado to find that whatever was opening the doorways was deep in a military base. I was waiting until I had an opportunity until I could lure away one of the guards and take enough of his blood to disguise myself as him - particularly nasty spell, that one - when I was captured."
"Then how come the military doesn't know all about magic?" Willow asked thoughtfully. Ethan started when she spoke, then looked at her intently for a few moments before he answered.
"I didn't say the military captured me. No, it was some blasted mage from Wolfram & Hart."
None of the teenagers knew what that was, but both Giles and Spike looked at the other man with new eyes. Few survived such an encounter. Spike was beginning to wish he'd had Ethan around back when he had been the terror of Sunnydale.
"What happened?" asked Giles eagerly, then pretended to have an air of nonchalance when Ethan smirked at him amusedly.
"At first, I was pretty sure he wanted to kill me, but then something changed the mage's mind. He said, in return for him telling me everything about the Stargate program, I had to help him with something. I agreed - I was fairly certain he would kill me if I said no.
So Vail - that was the mage's name, Cyvus Vail- told me all about it, making it clear that his company had someone on the inside feeding them information. Then he told me something about another organization, the Demonic Research Initiative, based here in Sunnydale. Apparently they've been experimenting on demons. He said that there was something going on there that even their mole couldn't find out beyond a number - 314 - and ordered me to go and find out what it was.
That's the story. Do you want to help me or not?" Ethan finished.
However, everyone was spared the opportunity to answer when Anya slipped in through Giles's door - Giles berated himself for not closing and locking it - took a look at the stranger in the room and said "Hello, Ethan."
"Maybourne." said Jack bluntly, glaring at the other man.
"Hello, Jack." Maybourne said peaceably.
"You mistook that for a greeting. Let me rephrase - what the hell are you doing here, Maybourne?" Jack replied, trying to keep his temper. There was something about the man that made him want to hit something, and that thing ended up being Maybourne a lot less often than he would've liked.
"The same thing you are, I expect. Kinsey called, ordered me to come here and use whatever force necessary to bring back the thing that attacked him. He doesn't really care if it's dead or alive." Maybourne answered.
Daniel had to restrain himself from saying anything - unlike the other people here, Maybourne actually knew him, and would notice if he only spoke out of the corner of his mouth. In fact, he was lucky he hadn't noticed his different coloured eye. Yet.
However, Sam took it upon herself to say something. "She's a she, not an it, and anyway, it was self-defence. And Willow's possessed, not evil, so no lethal force."
If Willow had been in possession if her own body, or even nearer Sam, she would've kicked the woman. It wasn't her fault, and they probably already knew it was her anyway, but had Sam really needed to mention her name?
Riley picked up on it "I'm sorry, did you say Willow?" he asked, surprised. Of course, it could be another Willow, but just how likely would that be, knowing his luck? After all, if Buffy hunted demons, why couldn't Willow be possessed by aliens? And why didn't he have a problem with the existence of extra-terrestrial life?
"Why, do you know her?" asked Jack. When Riley looked reluctant to answer, he said "Look, I know I'm not an Army colonel, but I still outrank you, and you could consider that an order to tell me."
"Yes, I know a Willow. Little, slim thing, red hair, green eyes, about yay high. But that can't be who you're looking for." But Riley could tell from their expressions that yes, that was exactly who they were looking for.
"Well, crap." Riley said. Just when he thought his day couldn't get any weirder, he got orders to hunt down the best friend of his potential love interest.