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25 October 2011 @ 10:02 am
Endings 14  
Wordcount:2,361
A.N. Ethan-muse is behaving again, after a prolonged argument. And I've just finished reading Indri's wonderful fic, so no more distractions. Anyways, read and enjoy.


 
14
 
The sound of laughter mocked him, the sort of mocking which was aimed to rub him up the wrong way, rather then to roll with him. He hated it.
 
It mocked him, called him out as a coward.
 
And if there was one thing which had ever gotten under his skin it was someone poking fun at him. He couldn’t stand it when people gave him the shit, made him out to be less than what he was worth.
 
It was a lingering reaction from childhood, he supposed, from forever being told that he was a disappointment, or that he wasn’t worth the breath taken to say his name.
 
A waste of space.
 
He’d heard it once too often.
 
He lunged, fists swinging, only to find his arm caught by Rupert.
 
Glancing to the side, half a dozen of his more creative curses on his tongue, he caught Rupert’s eye, and his expression gave him pause.
 
“He’s not worth it,” Rupert’s voice was soft, so that only he could hear, “You hit him, his daddy will stick up for him in court. Look at him, Eth; just another rich boy-dandy, trying to make himself into more then what he is. Don’t give him this round.”
 
Rupert’s tone of voice, more than his words, broke through to him. And only once he realized that he had Ethan’s full attention did he speak again, “You’re worth more than he is just by being.”
 
Ethan nodded, and turned away, his focus solely on Rupert now.
 
“That’s right,” the bastard jeered behind him, “follow your boyfriend-masters orders, you arse-licker.”
 
A few weeks ago he wouldn’t have held back. Hell, a few minutes ago he wouldn’t have. But Rupert was here. And that was more than enough. Rupert was always enough, these days, to curb his wilder impulses; he wasn’t always sure what he wanted out of it, but he knew that he wanted his mates’ approval.
 
 All he did, instead, was glance back over his shoulder.
 
“You only wish you had someone half as good,” he snarled, allowing Rupert to steer him away.
 
Ethan woke easily from the half-faded memory, to find the room flooded with grey pre-dawn light, and to find that Rupert had done those thoughtful little things that only he had ever seemed to do, like take his shoes off and tuck him under the bedclothes, in spite of the tiff they’d finished the day on yesterday.
 
Those little signs that he cared belied his momentary hint of fear on finding that he was alone in the room.. He had hidden the sketch which he’d brought into a new lease of life, and he’d been extremely careful not to pour too much power into the thing. That was why he’d neglected the chant.
 
That was why he’d left the power in it at a bare necessity.
 
                                                                                     ARR! ARR! ARR! ARR


It had always been in the last couple of hours before dawn, that Giles had found his peace in earlier days, and it seemed that this morning was rather reminiscent in that sense It used to seem that he’d spent his last few hours before he had to face the world with the façade that he’d woven trying to talk himself out of feelings of guilt and failed obligation. Now, watching Ethan sleep he was doing the same, although from a different angle.
 
Even the deep sleep which he found the Slayer in, once he’d risen and made his uneasy way to her room to check on her, didn’t actually help him settle back down, to any extent.
 
It was only five minutes after he rose for that final time, that Ethan woke looking as though he’d had a better sleep than he’d had in months, at the very least.
 
There was a funny sort of smile, the sort that always made Rupert think of plots and pushing limits on his face as he blinked his eyes open, and glanced around the room, until he spotted Giles leaning against the door, watching him.
 
“Ah.”
 
“Most people tend to go for good morning,” Giles stated dryly, none of his anger remaining in it.
 
“So, it is then?”

Giles frowned slightly at that, “And there’s some reason that you’d care to inform me of, as to why it wouldn’t be?”
 
A glint passed from Ethan’s eyes, and his body relaxed, releasing a tension which Giles hadn’t noticed until that particular moment, “Not really. You,” he paused for half a heartbeat, a pause that wouldn’t have been noticeable if Giles hadn’t been alert for something like it, “just don’t look as though you had much of a restful night.”
 
“Amazing, what the absence of your tossing and turning can do,” Giles locked eyes with him for a few moments, and a silent battle of wills took place, before Ethan sat up, using the movement to break gazes.
 
“Yesterday took more out of me then I realised.”
 
“If you say so.”
 
“Whatever happened to your trusting me?”
 
There was a tiny trace of resentment there, and Giles found himself fighting with the sudden urge to snap you’re what’s happening to it at the moment. Instead, he bit his lip, and forced his own body to relax a little more, “Ethan. Please, let’s not start the day like this.”
 
“Fine.”
 
Ethan closed his eyes again, and fell back against the pillow again, leaving Giles a good couple of minutes in which to wonder what was going on.
 
The time seemed to stretch, until Ethan opened his eyes again, and twisted his expression into a faux-smile, “Good morning, Rupert.”
 
In spite of the fact that the smile was completely false he could see a hint of Ethan’s more usual humour coming back into his gaze and this more than anything made the world feel right again. Giles felt the last traces of his own tension dissipate, and he crossed the room to sit on the side of the bed for a few moments, raising a hand to push a few of the more unruly strands of his lover’s hair back.
 
“Good morning, Ethan,” he smiled slightly, as Ethan tilted his head towards the touch, a cat following the sunlight-warmth, and stilled for a few impossible moments.
 
“You’ve looked in on the Slayer?” Ethan finally spoke again, in spite of his reluctance to break the comfortable silence that was hanging between them.
 
“She was still asleep, last I checked. She’d be recovering from yesterday, herself, I’d guess.”
 
“That’s good then,” Ethan tucked himself a little closer to the warmth of Rupert’s body, and let the silence stretch out again, the ghost of a memory showing in his expression.
 
Telling himself that it was common sense which was ruling, Giles finally detached Ethan for long enough to slip back under the blankets and stretched out next to him, holding himself up on one elbow, and half leaning over him. A single hand loosened the belt of his dressing gown enough to slip inside, and rub lightly at the hair underneath, as Giles lowered his head and rested his forehead against Ethan’s, staring at him.
 
Truth told; the fight had started a few weeks ago, in spite of both of their efforts to manoeuvre around it. It was only yesterday that had made the worst of their tensions spill over again.
 
And this reconciliation, something which should have happened last night, had been far too long in coming.
 
“Love you,” Ethan whispered against his lips, letting him feel the honest need in it, which Giles responded to as much as he did to the words themselves, before tilting his head forward to kiss him.
 
An hour later saw him finally able to find some peace, as he held Ethan tightly to his chest, enjoying the alluring notion that it was only a fine layer of skin that kept then apart. Raising his head slightly, he buried it in the crock of Ethan neck between head and shoulder, and breathed in deeply, almost as though he could draw Ethan beneath his skin, and into himself, into a place where the fighting wouldn’t be possible ever again, and the peace could last out until the ends of the earth.
 
Almost lazily, he flicked out his tongue, tasting the tiny patch of skin under him, enjoying that flavour which was uniquely Ethan; sweat, and a dark-storm hint of his magic. The way that Ethan giggled in response put Giles in mind of a man who was far younger than either of them had felt in an age, and he smiled to himself as he rested his head back down on the pillow behind him.
 
This was the way that things were meant to be.
 
This was the way that he wished they could stay, wistful thinking though it was.
 
                                                                                     ARR! ARR! ARR! ARR


Buffy had already gone back to the research when footsteps, which were headed in her direction, alerted her to the fact that Giles and Ethan were finally up and about again. She glanced up for half a second, to see them walking past the entrance to the study, Giles with his arm looped casually around Ethan’s neck, and into the kitchen.
 
So, obviously they’d made up whatever had been between them.
 
She stared after them for a few moments, and forced her attention back to the text in front of her when she heard the sound of the kettle being filled, seconds before Giles came into the room. He was dressed casual today, blue jeans and black tee-shirt, with a white button-up shirt pulled on over that.
 
“Good morning,” Buffy finally said around a yawn, and watched as he smiled at some private joke or other.
 
“Good morning to you, too. Eaten yet?”
 
“Nah,” she gestured to the book as an answer, “Straight into it.”
 
“That’s actually a good thing,” Ethan cut in, as he came into the study himself and placed a cup of coffee in front of her book, two more down on their side of the table, and proceeded to sit on Rupert’s knee, “Because I’ve talked our taskmaster into taking us out for breakfast today. Successful operation, or what ever excuse I could think of on my feet,” he grinned at her.
 
“Out for breakfast?” Buffy frowned, questioning him, “In the middle of a battle-zone?”
 
“We’re thirty minutes off of the front line,” Ethan offered, by way of an explanation, “and on the other side life tends to go on as normally as possible. People tend not to see what they don’t want to. The end of their existence as they know it tends to fall into that category,” he finished with a dark chuckle that didn’t seem as out of place as it should probably have.
 
“Yeah, I’ve seen the proof of that sort of thing,” Buffy muttered, rolling her eyes, “Sunnydale syndrome. Rationalize what you can, and forget what you can’t.”
 
“Precisely,” Giles nodded, “hence the reason that there’s a relatively solid permitter thirty minutes from here, complete with a check-point, and life beyond it carries on with that infamous resilience which humans are known for.”
 
It didn’t take long for the two men to organize and hustle her into the car. And it definitely didn’t feel like it was thirty minutes later, as Giles drove the car past the solid metal barrier which was topped with barbed wire. Half a minute later, he was pulling up next to a booth that had three men armed with high-powered rifels, and an anti-aircraft gun set next to it.
 
He clicked his fingers at Ethan, who handed an I.D card over to Giles, who passed them both out the window. The man who seemed to be in charge at the moment gave them a cursory glance, before turning his attention to Buffy.
 
“And the woman?”
 
Ethan leaned over Rupert, “Is my niece. As I’m sure you’ve read in the latest news bulletin, or whatever it is that you fellows are issued. Every hour, on the hour, isn’t it? And both you know, and I know that the cards are only truly necessary for getting back into restricted territory. Hence, if you have any of those temporary passes, for the time being…?”
 
The young man frowned and Buffy found herself wondering whether it was in response to being told his job, or Ethan’s general habit of getting under other peoples skin, or a combination of the two. However, rather than pick an argument, he gestured for her to wind her window down. A quick glance at Giles showed her that she ought to co-operate, and the moment she did, he held a scanner up to her eyes, then crossed back over to the booth.
 
“A few minutes, please, Rayne,” he spoke in the politest tone that he could muster, the sort of tone which was usually only adopted by someone talking to a superior who he couldn’t stand the sight of.
 
Buffy glance at Ethan, but the only response which she could see was a smirk of grand proportions. And the fact that a few minutes later he was back with a card that had her name on it, told her that Ethan’s assumption had been right on the mark.
 
“It’s a day-pass,” he snapped, in a superior tone of voice, “You give it to the offices on duty on your return. You’re out any longer than that, and you’ll have to apply to P and P for direct permission to cross the border.”
 
He then crossed over to the gate, and swiped his own card through it, and it slid smoothly open. Without another word, Giles started the car again, and accelerated, probably breaking the speed limit as he blew past the guard post on the other side. Buffy waited until he had slowed to a sane speed, before she looked at Ethan.
 
“Okay, so what the hell did you do to rub him up the wrong way? Because there was no way that was just general animosity.”
 
Giles cracked a grin, even as he hurriedly cut across any reply which Ethan may have been forming, “Believe me when I say that you’re better off oblivious.”
 
 

 
 
Current Mood: awake
Current Music: Men Are All The Same - The Used
 
 
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Antenna: Ethanantennapedia on October 30th, 2011 04:30 pm (UTC)
So of course I want to know what Ethan did to annoy the soldier!
0_Ruthless_00_ruthless_0 on October 31st, 2011 03:09 am (UTC)
Of course you do. :). Hence, you'll find out... eventually.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )