Giles was waxing wroth, and unlike the Marx Brothers joke, Roth was not about to wax Giles. Especially since in the middle of his heated denunciation of the absolute balderdash he’d just heard, Giles’ guest had calmly leaned forward across the kitchenette table, and whisked away with a smooth grab the librarian’s eyeglasses which were getting their most intensive polishing ever.
“Give those back!” snapped Giles at the other man casually settling again in his chair. This nonchalance was further expressed by the glasses gripped in Ethan’s hand being slowly twirled in circles by an earpiece.
In response, Ethan mockingly waggled his eyebrows at the fuming Watcher. Smiling as if remembering something else amusingly happening long ago, the older Englishman drawled in evident relish, “Not unless you calm down and hear me out. This is important,
Glowering with more than a hint of near-sightedness at the sheer bloody cheek of tonight’s visitor, Giles at last grumpily shrugged and then nodded in curt agreement. He next expectedly held out his own hand palm-up atop the table.
Dropping the eyewear onto the waiting fingers, Ethan let Giles replace these spectacles where they belonged on his face again, before saying in a placating tone, “Let’s look at this logically, shall we? First, there’s the essential point that I need as much information as we can get regarding this damned thing which caused me to wind up here.”
An expressive jab with Ethan’s pointing index finger towards the innocent-seeming Janus statuette resting on the tabletop was followed by, “For instance, could I return to my own dimension if it was destroyed? Or would that instead result in my permanent stranding in this place and body? In either case, is there any sort of time limit? If you want, I can come up with at least a dozen more questions. The only chance of soon getting answers to these would be to walk into the Council’s archives and have a nice little chat with anyone there who knows about Chaos magic. Which has as much likelihood of actually happening as, let me think…Screaming Lord Sutch becoming not only the Prime Minister, but also being crowned our next king.”
“What?” frowned Giles at hearing Ethan’s all-too-audible extreme sarcasm in the delivery of this last line. “Why should that be such a problem? After all, you’re the head… Oh, dear.”
“Quite so, Rupert. Let’s say I’m peacefully going over the latest budget proposals at my desk one morning. Then, the receptionist calls and announces there’s someone who just came in, claims to be from another dimension, they’re also the person in charge of their own Watchers’ Council there, and it’s necessary for them to straight away look through our most restricted magical records. Just how well do you think I’d react to that?
Giles didn’t bother answering, not when Ethan inexorably went on, “Plus, as to whatever steps I’d take to deal with that rude bugger, at least he wouldn’t be in the clutches of one of those sodding Travers bastards. Your lad in his list of what’s wrong with the Council -- was he talking about Quentin
Desperately trying to think of a way to answer that question which wouldn’t somehow backfire on him, Giles finally muttered a reluctant, “Yes.”
In his chair, Ethan vehemently threw up his hands in what couldn’t be anything other than immense vexation at this unwelcome news. Bringing these down to next press his palms against the sides of his head, as if to contain a developing migraine, the older man groaned, “Typical. He was my main competitor for the position over a decade ago, trying every dirty trick in the book to win it. And now, this same walking catastrophe is in the Director’s seat -- by the way, has Travers switched this for his own personal throne yet?”
“Not that I’m aware,” feebly replied Giles through ashen lips.
Ethan’s fingertips started to forcefully rub themselves against his forehead. At the same time, he tossed off, “It’ll happen soon here, mark my words. One of the happiest days of my life was when I called him into my new office directly after being confirmed. I declared right in his purpling face that as a reward for his long years of disastrous service he’d inflicted on the Council, he could either in the next two seconds take early retirement, or a permanent posting to the city of Ushuaia in Tierra del Fuego. Where there’s never
been any recorded demonic activity whatsoever.”
A supremely evil smile crossed Ethan’s lips. “For once showing a rare flash of good sense over his aversion to becoming a human icicle, Travers decided to accept the first option. The little twit then withdrew from my presence, muttering dire threats every step of the way. I subsequently celebrated by diverting his pension into the Widows and Orphans Fund, and sent a polite note about this to Travers where he’d holed up sulking in his mansion, daring him to complain or do anything else. Not only didn’t I ever hear back from the arsehole who tripled our Watcher casualties in the past five years before our final meeting, his former allies decided to cut their losses and flock to my banner.”
At that point of his reminiscences, Ethan brought his hands away from his head and proudly straightened up in his chair. He then glanced across the table at where Giles was staring open-mouthed at him.
Allowing a very wicked smirk to remain on his features, the older man suggested, “Not at all like your own experiences with the berk, was it? What’d he do the last time? Pronounce your duty to the Council as the highest aspiration any Watcher could strive for? All without Travers saying he meant him
and his cronies in actuality, I daresay.”
Not a word, nor a flicker of expression came from the frozen man on the other side of the table.
Shooting a considering glance at his host, Ethan further mused, “I’m just guessing here, but I think what happened then is that he sent you away on your own to the most dangerous Hellmouth in centuries. Adding even more insult to injury, he stuck you in a low-paying librarian’s job. Worse of all, Travers discouraged any form of aid, communication, and support for your Slayer from the rest of the Council.”
Giles lowered his head and commenced fixedly staring at the floor of his apartment, all while projecting a near-tangible air of betrayal and misery.
For the next few moments, Ethan looked at the thinning hair on the top of the skull presently displayed at him from the opposite end of the cheap furniture. Eventually, a quiet sigh came from the dimensional castaway, with him equally gently telling the other heartbroken man, “Rupert, I need your help.”