Ethan looked Anya up and down briefly, clearly trying to place her. Finally, giving up, he says "Do I know you?"
Anya gestures at her face, saying "Oh, I was more veiny the last time we met."
Ethan's face lights up with understanding "Ah, you're Anyanka. So, got out of the demon game, I see. How's that working for you?"
"Oh, quite well, actually. And it's Anya now. Still cursing people?" Anya asked, strangely polite.
"Yeah, when I have the free time. I'm kind of busy at the moment though, got this project in the wo-" Ethan began, before Giles interrupted.
"You two know each other?" he asked, puzzled. As far, as he knew, the pair had never met, but then he didn't know everything about Anya's pre-demon days. Although he did wonder what Ethan wanted with the patron demon of scorned lovers.
"Oh yes, he summoned me, hmm about two years ago or so? Lovely curse it was too, one of the most inventive ones I've seen. It was such a shame when you decided to cancel it." Anya said, a little callously.
"Who did you curse?" Giles asked, unable to hide his curiosity on the matter.
Ethan doesn't answer, and Anya just looks at him appraisingly before saying "No, I don't think you want to know." then pauses, and for once amends her statement "I mean, demon-curser confidentiality." Ethan shrugged sheepishly behind her, afraid Anya had given the game away.
"Yes, yes." said Buffy, getting back to business "all this catching up is all very well and good, but should we trust him?" she said, unusually opening the decision to the floor so that others could have a say. For herself, she had already made a decision - she wanted to find out as much about Riley's organization as possible, whether by Ethan's hands or by herself. Buffy didn't think for a moment that Riley would volunteer everything, if their conversation (or lack of it) this morning was anything to go by. Besides, Buffy certainly wouldn't tell an outsider everything about the way she worked, not straight away, at least.
"Well, I'd like to know more about those blokes that put a chip in me head, for one." said Spike, having watched the little Ethan-Anya-Giles interlude with amusement.
"Surprisingly enough, I'm with Spike on this one." said Giles hesitatingly. Ethan grinned briefly before remembering to look solemn.
"I'm cool with the demon hunter hunting. Not so cool on costume-man, but then if Spike here gets to play along, I can hardly complain about Giles' buddy too, can I?" Xander put in.
Anya said brightly "I have no idea what you're talking about, having missed a large portion of the conversation, but as everyone else seems to be doing it, I'll go along with it."
Willow merely said "Sure." because she wasn't keen on the whole idea - Ethan might find out too much about her, but she could hardly say no now, could she? Besides, Willow would always have the chance to obfusticate any findings they might have.
Buffy, pleased that everyone had agreed with what she would've done anyway, said "Well it looks like we're all in."
Ethan looked at her, trying in vain to completely smooth away the wolfish smile playing around his mouth. "You speak for all of them?" he asked "You speak for Ripper, Anyanka, Spike, Willow, yourself and that bloke I can't quite remember the name of?"
Gile wondered briefly why Ethan was taking such pains to spell everything out, then realised. He made to shout "Buffy, don't!" but was just slightly too late to say it before Buffy said "Xander. Yes, I speak for all of them."
Ethan grinned openly now, all need to gain the Scoobies acceptance gone. A slim, razor sharp blade materialized in his palm - whether by magic or slight of hand, it was impossible to tell - which with a rapid motion he sliced across the back of Buffy's hand. The slight pressure it took to break her skin was enough for the double-edged blade to break his skin too, causing an intermingling of thir blood.
Ethan shivered, saying "Woo, Slayer blood. Quite the rush."
Buffy shivered too, but for different a reason. Just for a split second, she had understood Ethan's point of view - he didn't cast his spells because he liked hurting people, although there was certainly an element of that. No, he did it because it was fun - so much more fun than toiling away as a servant of the light. It was only for a moment, but Buffy finally understood where Faith had gone so wrong. Then the moment was over, and she shivered to try and shake herself of the feeling.
Then she hit Ethan, in the stomach. Or tried to, it didn't quite work out the way she wanted it to. Somehow, her punch slid off to one side, slamming into the wall instead of Ethan. She wound back her arm to try again, but Giles caught her elbow, murmuring to her "Don't. He's cast a protection spell."
Ethan nodded, evidently pleased with himself. "Oh yes. And a lovely bit of spell work it is too. Of course, it'll only last a few days - two or three - but during that time, you can't hurt me, and I can't hurt you."
"Get out." said Giles, imperiously. He was crazy to have thought that Ethan would ever be trustworthy.
Ethan simulated a hurt expression which everyone could tell he didn't feel. "Now, now, Ripper, don't go throwing me out before I go and tell you that Willow here isn't who she claims to be. Or even what
she claims to be." he said, triumphantly.
Willow followed her instincts and opened a wormhole beneath her feet. Or tried to - like Buffy's punch only moments before, it didn't go quite as she had planned it. Nervous, her heart beat sped up again, and Spike grinned at having his earlier hunch that everyone had shouted down proved right. But Willow slowed it down again, with rather more effort than it had taken last time.
However, the other people in the room who didn't have such finely tuned senses burst into uproar, saying many variations on "She can't possibly be someone else! I mean, look, she's Willow!" (well, except for Anya, who merely said "I thought there was something odd about Willow", but she was drowned out amongst the din.)
Ethan wasn't paying much attention to their outcries - as a devotee of Janus, he obviously had some facility with transportation magic - and the blocking thereof (even when the transportation wasn't, strictly speaking, magical in nature). It was taking a surprising amount of concentration and effort to stop Willow from opening a wormhole and running away. He tried not to let the strain show on his face - if Willow saw how difficult it was for him to stop her from opening one gateway, how could he stop her if she tried several at once?
Unfortunately, he was unsuccessful in entirely keeping the strain hidden - Willow saw it, and deciding that her babbling friends would make a nice distraction, was just about to open as many wormholes as she could - which would have the added benefit of leaving them with no idea which one she'd gone through - when she was interrupted by SG-1 bursting through the door.
Giles really needed a better lock.Unfortunately, oh devout readers (you are, aren't you?) I've got a blasted cold, which'll doubtlessly only get worse. So expect slower and slightly shorter updates for a bit.