Drink of Choice: Flame – it’s cheep, strong, and crash-cooled. Also, surprisingly easy to drink. What more could you want out of a beer?
Rating: FRT (I think)
Summary: Ethan manages to convince Giles that having a beer or two with him won’t result in a few hundred pounds of extra muscle, and a tail come the next morning.
Dedication/Challenge/Prompt: Prompt #36. Giles/Ethan - 99 bottles of beer on the wall.
Title: Ninety-Nine Bottles Of Beer…
What the hell am I doing?
The latest in a long line of empties went skittering across the table, and, to his great surprise bounced onto the floor intact, only to keep rolling. He knew that if he were to go down then he wouldn’t be quite as lucky.
The ground made a fair attempt at spinning away from him, as he stood and grabbed onto the back of a chair whilst waiting for the world to straighten itself again. This, too, gave him a few moments to wonder at exactly how he still managed to get himself into situations such as this.
Then, as his drinking companion grabbed at the back of his shirt as he desperately sought purchase, and they both went down awkwardly he ceased to have to wonder about it any more.
At least he was currently beyond feeling any of the aches and pains that were likely to beset him in the morning, if the sound that he’d made on contact with the floor were anything to judge by.
He tried to rise, realised that he couldn’t, and then clicked onto exactly what he was forgetting about.
A non-committal Mmm was his only reply.
“Get off me, you bloody sod.”
~-~Several Hours Earlier~-~
He was restless.
Couldn’t concentrate on any one thing for more than ten minutes.
Was going rather stir-crazy, if the truth were to be told.
And as the fates/powers-that-be/ whatever the hell else you wanted to call them knew, a restless Rupert Giles was never a good thing.
And to make matters just that little bit worse, he couldn’t shake that bloody song out of his thoughts.
He pulled the latest batch of files towards him.
Budgets. Complaints. Schedules.
The Slayers Academy was running like a well-oiled machine these days. Maybe that had something to do with it – that it had ceased to be a challenge.
It no longer sufficed to keep him on his toes, needing now only the occasional mite of human guidance, to keep it moving in the right direction.
He flicked open the folder, and began to read over the first page. And ten minutes later…
Sure enough, just like the last time.
‘Ninety-nine bottles of beer on the wall, ninety-nine bottles of beer. You take one down and pass it around, ninety-nine bottles of beer. Ninety-eight bottles of beer on the wall…’
He wondered, half-amused how many bottles would be left if he were to run down the hall scattering files left and right, and making a path of general havoc. And as he shoved the file away, giving up on it for the day something fell out and fluttered to the floor.
Frowning to himself, he reached over and picked it up, to see what it was.
What it was, was a post-card with the picture of a pub that was only a few doors down from here. He’d been out to it several times, and it was a homely, traditional little place with a rather nice brew on tap.
His frown became a serious scowl, as he flipped it over to see exactly what he’d been expecting to, and that damned song started again.
‘Ninety-eight bottles of beer on the wall, ninety-eight bottles of beer…”
Seems as though I’m not meant to be reading anything.
Three familiar words, in an even more familiar script, followed by a question-mark that managed, somehow, to look hopeful and (the disadvantage of working with teenaged girls was that he could actually recognize it for what it was ment to be) a text-style smiley, twisted onto it’s side and grinning at him with it’s frightening manic cheeriness.
“Be seeing you? =)”
“I’ll kill him…” Giles grumbled to himself, as he stood, massaging at his temples in what he knew was a now-fruitless attempt to get rid of that bloody song.
It took about ten seconds, from entering the pub to spot Ethan, sitting off to one side, but still in clear view, with four empty bottles lined up in front of him, one full one sitting in front of him, and another full one sitting in front of the chair across from him.
He glowered, and was met by a cheerful smile, which once upon a time would have thrown him off his stride.
“Starting from behind I’m afraid, my old friend,” that cocky grin widened, and he knew that he ought to simply turn and walk out.
“Keeping it in front of witnesses, I see, my old friend,” he growled in return, in a low tone, as he drew back the chair across from him, adding extra emphasis to the final word just so it was obvious how insincere it was.
“Oh, I may be occasionally mad, but I’m no fool. Come on now, Ripper, surely you remember that.”
His scowl didn’t falter, “You honestly expect me to share a drink with you after what happened the last time? Have you ever been able to fool me twice Ethan? Surely you remember that?”
In spite of himself, he was already enjoying twisting Ethan’s own words back onto him.
The sorcerer shrugged, reached across the table, grabbed the uncapped bottle from in front of the chair that Giles had sat himself in, and took a large, pointed mouthful out of it, before pushing it back, “Surely you know I wouldn’t try twice?”
He knew that what he ought to do was grab out his cell-phone and call in the Council for a pick-up job. But that tiny part of him, which he was so skilled at ignoring, that it was as though it really didn’t exist, had been concerned. Ethan had never gone five… no, seven… years without some form of contact before.
He was careful to avoid the questions that would send them down a path which he didn’t want to follow. Both ‘how did you get away?’ and ‘what exactly did they do?’ went unasked, and, even more thankfully, unanswered.
He quietly eyed the empties, and the two almost full bottles.
Four, five, six.
And damn it, there it went again, but he couldn’t help himself.
“Ninety-four bottles to go I see…” his expression remained straight, and his voice dry, as he nudged back with that same telepathic stroke which Ethan had obviously been rubbing him with all morning.
And he did his best to ignore the taste of the others lips, slightly dry, and (mixed with the spices which were in the beer) not entirely a bad thing, on the mouth of the bottle which he’d finally picked up, and taken a mouthful out of.
He saw the second that that smile became genuine, rather then tensed.
“Glad you could join me, Ripper.”
He finished off half the bottle, in another, deeper draught.
“And of course you didn’t think a phone-call would suffice.”
A comment, not a question. And yet still answered.
“What, and have you hang up on me? I think not. Decidedly unsatisfactory for me, and, if I know you half as well as I think I do, then I’m sure you’re itching about now for a chance to shake the dust off your old… wings… so to speak.”
Giles raised a single eyebrow, “Wings?” he asked, in an incredulous tone, decide at once that he was not anywhere near intoxicated enough to be having this conversation.
And there, right there, was the question. Did he actually want to be, knowing that it could end in any number of ways, as long as Ethan Rayne was involved?
The answer surprised him.
That he didn’t have to hesitate over it surprised him even more.
“Right. Buy I’m not picking up the bloody tab. Not this time, knowing how much you can put away when you’re in top form.”
“Yes, yes. Whatever you say, dear.”
Ethan sculled back the rest of his own bottle, and signalled for the next round before Giles could reproach him for use of the pet-name.
“You’re really trailing, you know,” he said, before tipping a wink to the waitress, “keep them flowing won’t you, honey?”
Giles followed suit with his own drink.
“You’ve always been a light-weight when it came to butting heads with me.”
That grin came back, “Maybe I wanted you to get me drunk. Ever consider that one?”
Far too often.
But rather then reply, he stood, and Ethan pouted at the action.
“Oh, fine. I won’t do any more damage to your precious reputation around these parts.”
And as Giles sat back down Ethan pushed a fresh bottle over to him, having grabbed two, and offered him the bottle-opener which he declined, before slamming the cap down on the edge of the table and flicking it off, “I don’t care. I’m still not letting you anywhere near my beer.”
“When did you become a proper Watcher, mate?”
“Thanks to you, I’m still working on it.”
The other laughed, “Guess that means I did something right then.”
He didn’t even deign that worthy of a reply. Instead he simply took a long draught of the drink in hand.
Ethan was beginning to waver very slightly from side to side.
Or maybe it was just the effects of the drink.
After all they had killed about fifteen bottles between the two of them already, and neither of them was as young as they once had been.
The ease of the conversation surprised him. But then again, talking to Ethan had always been easy enough, hadn’t it? It was only when it had come to co-existing with him for any extended period of time that the problems came up.
He shot the other the lazy, relaxed grin of the intoxicated, and forced himself to sit up straighter in his seat, before reaching out for the bottle that he’d been nursing minutes ago.
“Was certain there was more in it then that,” he professed, after it had given up the final three or four drops that it had been holding onto.
“You know what certain is,” Ethan uncapped a couple of fresh bottles, and sent one over, and Giles found that he no longer had it in him to be concerned.
“No, I, I…” he took a mouthful, and trailed off, point forgotten and simply stared at his drinking companion.
He rose an eyebrow, as reality came back to him, “I what …what?” then he frowned, “When’d you become the better drinker?”
If it were anyone other than Ethan, then, floating on the tides of alcohol as he were, he wouldn’t have noticed the way that his eyes flicked away for the briefest of seconds, before that wicked grin was back full-force.
“As far as you’re concerned I’ve learned to appreciate that nothing is impossible,” he frowned as a hint of his buzz faded, “you. You’ve drugged me, haven’t you? Only bloody thing that co… could explain it.”
This time those deep brown eyes stayed locked on his own, as the mage shrugged, “Who, me?”
The grin became what was quite clearly a smirk, “Couldn’t be.”
And his temper was quick to respond, and hard to master, as drunk as he was. Ethan drew back, and raised his hands in what he obviously considered to be a placating manner, but really only served to annoy that tiny bit more, as it meant that Ethan was ready to cast if the situation called for it.
Giles snorted to himself. How typical of him – cast first, and consider any consequences later.
“Honestly, Rue, I haven’t done anything to the beer. Why the hell would I, when I’ve no desire to end up bloody, bruised, and with more than likely a couple of broken ribs to boot, tonight?”
“Because you’re Ethan Rayne. You never consider the consequences until they’ve already kicked you in the arse, and hung you out to dry.”
Ethan returned his scowl, and changed his tactics, “Why the fuck is it that you always think the worst of me, anyway?”
“It’s not like you haven’t given me cause to.”
Waiting for the reply, he decided he was still too sober, so polished off the rest of his own bottle, and grabbed at Ethan’s half-empty one which was moved back out of his reach.
“How many years ago was that?”
He did the maths, “Only … seven… I think that’s it… the last time I shared a friendly drink with you as a matter of fact. How you managed to convince me to get with you this time, I’m not entirely sure that I want to know.”
Ethan turned his I’m innocent expression onto him, “You needed to let your grey, thinning hair down?”
The second Ethan’s concentration drifted he followed through and sculled back the rest of the beer, before pushing the empty back over to the other side of the table. He noted it, “I’m still three up, lo… mate.”
Not even the cut off word could bother him. He grinned, easily, and gestured to the waitress, “Not for much longer. Bring us three more, will you?”
She raised an eyebrow at him, but did so.
And as he finished the last one, and had to fight to keep his small lunch down he realised two things. The first was how much of a bad idea those last two bottles had been. And the second, which Ethan’s shoulders, rolling with laughter tipped him off to, was that he’d just played right into the others hand.
At least he could make his expression appear annoyed, even if he couldn’t keep his emotions there. And Ethan had known him too long to be fooled by outer appearances.
He stood, and his hand flashed out in order to help him keep balance, knocking against glass.
The latest in a long line of empties went skittering across the table, and, to his great surprise bounced onto the floor intact, only to keep rolling.
After Ethan had shifted and rolled away, so that he was lying flat on his back, and he had hauled his own sorry self back to his feet, he reached down and grabbing Ethan by the back of his smart collar, returning him to the same position.
“Call us a cab would you?” he asked the waitress, flashing her a smile that would have made Ethan more than a little nervous, if he’d been in the right position to see it properly.
“Already have,” she replied, briskly, “we’re closing in fifteen minutes.”
He shot Ethan a glance, and the next question, too, died on his lips, although the other still nodded, “Of course. And take tonight out of my tab will you?”
The waitresses entire attitude changed, “Certainly, Mr Crowley.”
Giles had to bite his lip to keep himself from laughing out loud at that one. Although Ethan’s expression of mirth told him that he knew he’d gotten the joke.
He wasn’t particularly surprised when Ethan gave the cabbie his address, rather then his own. And he was even less surprised when the other man oozed out of the cab after him.
“Coming in, then, I take it?”
It was another question that he hadn’t actually had to ask. But it was common decency to do so rather than presume.
Ethan’s hand caught his shoulder, spun him around. And the long, slow kiss that he was drawn into on the doorstep told him that even though it was just after two in the morning, tonight wasn’t anywhere near over.
And that grin told him that the other had set up his bottles of beer just like fucking dominoes. And that every single one of them had fallen into place.
http://0-ruthless-0.livejournal.com/9024.html - Link to Shallow Past 02.