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Summary: YAHF. Chaos comes to the Hellmouth. Time and space don't mean much to a being who is everything and nothing, and Chaos is rather irritated by certain events. Sometimes, if you want a job done properly, you have to do it yourself.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Literature > OtherSpaceAnJLFR13919,268138224,86919 Sep 1222 May 13No

Chapter 3

The 'kitchenette' of the motel room is a crappy little two ring hot plate balanced atop a tiny 'fridge, but since Ethan doesn't bother to cook for himself, it suffices. He's grown quite fond of a good breakfast burrito, though he hasn't gone so native that he'll forgo his morning cuppa. He yawns, rubs his eyes as he waits for the kettle to boil.

A major Working takes a lot out of him, the last time he felt like this was after a three day bender in Tangier. (Absinthe, hashish, summoning a succubus...it had been part of a whole rock band entourage thing.) He can still feel the after-effects humming through his blood. Not the dirty, sluggish feel of the Hellmouth energies, or the thin, bloodless prissiness of 'Light' magic, but something wild and fierce, barely held in check. You didn't control Chaos, you attempted to persuade it to go along with your plans. You couldn't command, you had to entreat, to coax. To seduce.

He looks across the room. There's a very definite possibility that he has that the wrong way around, of course. The backlash of his spellwork seems to be that he has had a pretty woman announce her intention of changing the future to save his life, and then drag him into bed. He's trying to find the downside of that.

Ethan is aware that he isn't exactly a prize. His skills as a mage aren't too shabby, but he is still a middle-aged man living out of a suitcase. Why anyone should go out of their way to save him or help him, he can't fathom. But if what she wants him for is to help her cause chaos, that's fine by him.

He's looked through her bag, of course. Some small feminine debris, hairbrush, nailfile, tissues, lip-gloss. A pair of sun-glasses. A British passport, which is indeed in the name of Eris Nixon. A wallet, with a couple of bank cards, and even a British driving licence. All seemingly authentic, but curiously unworn. There are no pictures in the wallet, nothing to give a sense of personality. All of that rests in her vivid little face, her laugh, and her eyes.

She might just be crazy. And if she is crazy – then he did it. He's responsible. Except - nobody knows his middle name. He hasn't used it since he...left...home. She'd whispered it into his ear. She could equally be something very nasty wearing a human shell; waking up this morning with everything intact doesn't entirely rule that out. He has always managed to deal, usually by running away, with most things that might want his wallet, his life or his soul. (His virtue...well, that's mostly negotiable.) He could still run. But where would he run to? And does he want to?

Because – if she is who she says she is, this is big. Pull-the-world-off-course big. Mischief on an unprecedented scale. Ethan had always thought that he would hide under the bed if the Call of Destiny came looking for him. The problem was, the Call had sauntered up to him in deliciously strappy little sandals and a saucy grin, and he'd been sucker-punched. Power and the chance to use it, and the price of it - is apparently to use it. He can't say no. Doesn't want to say no. Isn't sure he ever had the choice.

He almost certainly has the incarnation of the Goddess of Chaos, Strife and Discord, naked in his bed.

Ethan gives a very dirty grin. Go him.

00000000

Eris wakes to her first morning in Sunnydale to someone nibbling gently at her neck.

“I'm not sure that biting is something to encourage around here...”

“You didn't complain last night.”

Eris had had the least sliver of a worrisome thought, that maybe she would wake up alone this morning. She wouldn't totally blame him, it was a lot to drop on someone. She'd been counting on curiosity to keep his attention - though breasts seemed to work pretty well in that respect, as well. (And wasn't it a surprise to find that Ethan was a cuddler?) Right now, he looks thoroughly disreputable, heavy eyes, shadowed jaw, a filthy smirk on his face, insinuating himself back into the bed, apparently happy to wrap himself around her.

Ah, well, he can always make more tea later.

00000000

“So?”

“So, what?”

“Are you going to tell me your plan, unravel the secrets of the future?”

“I can tell you some salient points, but every act of observation changes the thing observed. In time, events will be so far off course that my memories will no longer be useful.” Eris grins. “Mainly, I'm going to wing it.”

Ethan is leant back against the headboard, and Eris is leant back against him. There has been desultory talk of going out for breakfast, but neither of them seem inclined to disentangle their limbs just yet.

“Well, I'm going to avoid the shop for a day or so, keep well out of Rupert's way.” Chin on her shoulder. “I'm sure we can find ways to keep each other amused, hmm?”

She captures a straying hand, kisses the end of his fingers, tucks the arm back round her.

“I was wondering about the shop, actually.”

“You think I should keep it?”

“It might make a nice bookshop.”

“A bookshop?” He hadn't expected that.

“The arty, intellectual kind, that can acquire some of the more esoteric volumes for various customers?”

Ethan catches on, grins gleefully.

“I could make Rupert pay full retail price for his obscure grimoires. Hah.”

“That's a distinct improvement on 'I shall sell the 'Necronomicon' to aspiring megalomaniacs.'” Not that she would let him do that. “At least you'd have advance warning of which particular idiots think that summoning demons for fun and profit sounds like a good idea.”

Her particular idiot coughs, wriggles uncomfortably.

“You know, I'm not exactly over-burdened by possessions.” Indicates the room. “I've a few crates in a storage locker in London, and that's about it. Unlike dear Rupert, I don't have the luxury of a wealthy family, or a prestigious organisation to support me. Settling down has never been part of my agenda...”

“Everything I own is in my bag. Or on the floor. I'm even going to have to borrow your toothbrush this morning.” Stretches in a way that Ethan thoroughly approves of. “I might nick one of your less horrible shirts, too...” (It has been a long while since Ethan had anything approaching a steady girlfriend, but there are some things hardwired into the male psyche. Losing half your wardrobe, and having the other half disparaged, seems terribly familiar. And a cold, creeping doom starts to settle over him...) “...I'll need to do some shopping.” Eris finishes.

“I can't take the chance of running into Ripper until he's calmed down.” Ethan says, quickly. “Or his little Slayer, for that matter.”

“Oh, she had a late night, cuddling up to that vampire she thinks she's in love with.” Distaste clear in her voice. Ethan blinks.

“I thought that was just some twisted Dark World rumour. What the hell is Rupert thinking, encouraging that idiocy?”

“Trying not to alienate his Slayer. He's found a purpose, she's found a father figure. She's just being a very stupid sixteen, but yes, Rupert should know better. The walking corpse is really old enough to know better. I mean, even if he was human, she's jailbait.”

“Um...”

“You are well over the age of consent, darling.”

“I was more concerned about the fact that you appear to be considerably younger than myself.”

“I look like a trophy girlfriend, not a felony. And if you feel the need to get a flashy sports car, too, I'm all for it. No, poor Rupert is well under the thumb, he doesn't know how to head this off without her going all teenage woe 'nobody understands me' at him.”

“He always did have a horror of crying women...”

“Useful to know. I'll weep on him if I want to freak him out. I'm hoping that some sage advice at the right time will get his head back in the game.”

Ethan begins to have some slightly twitchy thoughts. He'd lost more than one girl he'd spent the evening chatting up to Ripper, back in the day.

“I thought you weren't concerned about courting his assistance.” He's suddenly aware that he's tightened his grip in a slightly possessive fashion, tries surreptitiously to loosen up. From the way Eris is smirking at him, he's not being very successful.

“I bet you're dreadful at poker.”

“I cheat.”

“He's your friend, I thought you might like him alive and well.”

Friends? They haven't been friends for years. Not since Rupert turned tail and mewed himself up in the life he'd sworn he'd never return to, left Ethan in the wreckage, running from Eyghon and the fury of the establishment. If it had been Ethan left there, ripped to pieces, cold and staring...well, his family had probably sat shiva for him years before, and junkies died in the backstreets of London all the time with barely a murmur, but the police turned out in force for the son of an aristocrat. So did the Press. He stills his instinctive snort, as the implications reach him.

“Rupert dies?” Died, will die, the mechanics confuse him.

“Another monumental idiocy I'll be trying to head off.” Then she kisses him. “Don't fret, you are still my very favourite badass sorcerer.”

“Good.” Ethan accepts his doom. “You want to go into business with me, then?”

“Oh, I think having us on the Hellmouth will be very...educational.”

“Golden Apple Books?”

“That's a little on the nose, darling.”

Ethan's expression could pass for innocence in a bad light.

“Well, apples are the fruit of knowledge.”

“So what are you, the nasty little serpent?”

“There is nothing little about my serpent, madam.” He says with great dignity, then pounces.
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