Flashbacks (After Halloween)
“Ethan. Eeeetthan!” Buffy's voice singsonged in the spare apartment above the closed costume shop. Buffy put her hands on her hips and called out in Italian. “You silly boy, I can smell you and hear your racing heartbeat, too. Now unlock the damn door and come out of there before I kick it in.” She heard a scuffling sound and Ethan opened the door, hair mangled from sleep and one eye nearly closed and black and blue from where Rupert had socked him. The other eye peered questioningly at the blond slayer. “Fuck. You know, if you had wanted to piss Ripper off, there are better ways to do it, ones that don't involve getting a black eye.”
“Well, I did succeed in pissing him off.” Ethan grinned, a gleeful look in his one open eye. “You have better ideas?”
“Plenty. Some of which involved both of us getting laid on a regular basis. But now you've gone and screwed that all up.”
“Really? Do tell?”
“How about carrying on a torrid love affair with his slayer? Talking dirty in French and Italian in front of him? Or running off to Vegas and getting married? Better yet, put a collar on me and play the whole master/slave lifestyle to the hilt? You would've enjoyed that one.”
“Give Ripper a right heart attack.”
“Won't kill him, or at least, if it did, he'd stay dead.” Buffy grinned back at the sorcerer. “Can you imagine Rupert's face if you had me crawling on my knees and calling you master in his sacred little library and sucking you off noisily in the stacks?”
“That ship has sailed, I'm afraid.” Ethan flopped down on his bed, trying to ignore the hard on the imagery had given him. He examined the aura of the young slayer that had purchased the fancy ball dress in his shop. And nearly yelped with shock. Taking a deep breath, he rolled to his side, propping up on one elbow. “Bella, it is you in there. Right?”
“Yes, Ethan. It's me. And not from the dress either. I thought you knew when I made a beeline for that dress from Carnival in Venice.” Buffy gave him an exasperated look. “Did it really take you that long to figure it out?” At his nod, she continued. “I guess I can't be angry at you for not steering me to a more appropriate costume. Now, where are your supplies?” Buffy had turned her back on Ethan and was rummaging around in his drawers. When she discovered a black butt plug and lube she held them up. “Not these supplies, the magic ones.”
“But those are so much fun.” Ethan winked at her and winced as his bruised eye stung.
“After I've fixed your eye, darling.” She tossed the plug and lube at him, smacking him in the chest.
“Ouch! The box on the top shelf over there.” Ethan dropped the sex toy and lube on the bed with a wistful expression.
“But you like pain dear.” Buffy pulled the box down, rummaging through it, she set several herbs to one side. “Come here, let me have look at you.” Ethan held still as Buffy examined his eye. “He broke the bone. Hope he cracked his own knuckles on your hard head. Goddess, I hate Rupert right now. I'm going to be worn out from this casting.” She pulled out a few more herbs from the stash.
“You hate Rupes? He's your watcher.”
“And?” Buffy began setting up, drawing chalk lines on the floor with practiced ease. “He's not my watcher, John Merrick is my watcher. I was fully bonded to him. And he's dead. Rupert is not a worthy successor. My only responsibility to Giles is to make sure he dies a natural death and stays dead.” Buffy gave Ethan a measuring look. “We could bond. That would be a good way to annoy him.”
“They don't give Raynes slayers, love. You'd just be burying another watcher.”
“What are you doing here?”
“Black ops. Artifact authentication and procurement. Some inter-clan negotiations among various neutral demons.”
“Watching the watcher?”
Ethan looked a bit embarrassed. “Well, yes. But the Janus stunt was just me. I didn't expect to get caught.”
“Ethan, Ethan.” Buffy said chidingly. “You wanted to get caught. You wanted to see if you could still affect Rupes.”
“I'm sorry. I'm really sorry you got caught up in it, Bella.” Ethan hung his head, shamefaced, not wanting to have her see the tears pricking in his eyes.
“You don't owe me an apology, Ethan. If you'd recognized me and told me what you were up to, I probably would have helped you. If for no other reason than to bait Giles. But, if you need to hear it...” Buffy leaned over the bed to tip up his head and drop a kiss on his lips. She whispered in his ear, “You're forgiven.” Standing back up, Buffy found herself pinned in a tight embrace from the sobbing man. Eventually, the sobs abated, and Buffy was able to disentangle herself from Ethan. She pointed at the completed casting circle in the center of the floor. “Sit. I want to fix you up properly.”
“I've never quite understood how you can both mother me and turn me on at the same time.” Ethan grumbled, but rose up gingerly from the bed with Buffy's support and sat on the floor in the center of the circle.
“It's a gift.” Buffy started chanting, lighting the four candles. Ethan watched her, not recognizing the language of the chant, but familiar with the ritual itself. Soon, he found the ache in his eye fading, the soreness from the bruise to his ribs dissipating. Buffy completed the ritual, blowing out the candles and shutting down the circle. She slumped a bit, moving over to the bed sitting on it and fixing Ethan with a wry smile. “Better? The hellmouth makes the casting a bit difficult and unpredictable.”
“Tell me about it.” Ethan grimaced. He had slept most of the day away if the darkening sky was any indication. “And yes, all better. What time is it anyway?”
“I'm hoping it's time for us both to get laid, myself.” Buffy bounced on the bed with an expectant look on her face. Ethan chuckled. “That is, if you are willing.”
Ethan turned his back on the youthful slayer and went to the refrigerator. Snagging the orange juice and a bottle of vodka, he returned, pouring them both several inches of both the juice and the alcohol. He passed the drink over. “I know it's not your favorite, but the juice will get your energy back up.”
Buffy graced him with a gentle smile. “To old friends and lovers.”
“And new beginnings.” The two tumblers clinked. “So are you possessing that body, or what?”
To his surprise, Buffy considered the question thoughtfully. “You know, I'm not sure. I've worn this shell for nearly six years, I think. But I have memories built in up to eleven years old. I remember my fifth birthday party, ice skating, that sort of thing.” Buffy shrugged. “I just wake up in a new body every few decades, don't know how, don't really know why. Always immortal, always a potential. Obviously, I'm not always a slayer.”
“Isabella was a potential?”
“Yes. But I managed to hide from the watchers that time.”
“Interesting, just how many slayers do you have up there?” Ethan slid back onto the bed, propping himself on the pillows at the headboard, and tapping his head.
“All of them. Well, except for the current one.” Polishing off her drink, Buffy tucked herself into Ethan's side, kicking off her sneakers and wrapping her leg over his. “I'll get a full high-def surround-sound download the next time I'm called.”
“I'm used to it.” Buffy shrugged. “No big.” Snuggling into Ethan's side, she played with the hair that was sprinkled across his chest. Ethan tightened his grip on her, his free hand rising to catch hers. “So Ethan?”
“Wanna fuck?” Buffy grinned, letting her hand travel southward down his chest as she began to shift her weight on top of him. “Pop my cherry?”
“Nope.” Ethan shook his head with a frown, “Don't think so.”
“Oh, I'm sorry, I shouldn't have assumed.” Buffy looked chagrined, removed her hand, and disentangled herself from Ethan. “I'll just let myself out then.”
“Wait.” Ethan took her hand as she had almost vacated the bed.
“What?” She glanced back.
“Bella, I don't want to just fuck, want to spend the next few hours remembering how glorious it is to make love with you.” Ethan gave her hand a tug, and Buffy overbalanced onto the bed with a giggle. Ethan rolled her underneath him, initiating the first kiss.