One for a sin offering
by Te
June 16, 2003

Disclaimers: Not even close to mine.

Spoilers: Vague mentions of things up through Chosen.

Ratings Note: NC-17.

Summary: Some years later, Ethan and Willow meet

Author's Note: Really, I only thought of this pairing
because of something Robin Sachs said at
Buffycon. Um. His fault? For the Get Ethan Laid

Acknowledgments: Love to the Spike and Molly for
audiencing and catching my mistakes. Everything else
is my fault.

Feedback: Yes, please!


She reeks of goddess when he comes close, and suddenly
some of the odder rumors he'd been hearing make
infinitely more sense.

The witch with too much power, and that hadn't been
especially strange -- one does hear of risings and fallings
when one lives the way Ethan does. But the *source*
of that power was ever in question. The black, the white,
and the green. The male and female. She would've been
a temptation even without the *other* rumors.

Traveled with Slayers, in a world so full of them that they
didn't even need Watchers anymore -- not that there
were many left. Travels with *one* of those Watchers.
Just one, and Ethan didn't need to hear the name.

Ripper was far, far too unfinished to die with the rest --
and certainly Ethan wasn't finished with *him*.

But Ethan had waited. He'd been quite patient, really --
even putting off his planned exit (escape was such a
crass word) from the remnants of the Initiative until his
hair was just a trifle greyer, his rage just that slightest
bit more keen.

They'd taken him to the jungles, wet, dark, *green*
places full of the stench of filth and plant-life like wild,
rough-hewn woman. A different sort of chaos than
what he was accustomed to, but something he could
use, just the same. Oh, yes.

The world had been full of ripeness and rot, the soldiers'
shoelaces and underpants rotting with the natural
entropy that surrounded all of them, leaving them
slack-jawed and stupid and... careless.

He remembers the stink of machine oil from all those
blunt and ugly little guns. He remembers the crackle
of ozone as the *other* guns fired and fired, randomly
damaging the soldiers far more than they could ever
damage the jungle. Just machines, as subject to chaos
as anything else.

And really, all of those orderly minds working on all of
those orderly and well-muscled bodies... you'd think
they would think to drop their weapons, or at least
stop trying to use them as they were intended. Ethan
would've gone down from a rifle-stock to the temple
as quickly as anyone.

Would have bled and bruised under their fists...

But truly, he's being unfair. Calling up illusory demons
and other creatures to devil the waking sleep of a
group of young people trained and pared down to fight
such things, pared down to the very essence of human
weaponry... they'd been distracted, poor darlings.

And Ethan had used up nearly every bit of reserve
energy within him to take his vengeance. There, for the
manacle scars around his wrists. There, for all those
clever little *jokes* about his sexuality -- as if they
could ever come close to understanding.

There, for the stink of iron that he will never, ever be
able to forget.

In the end, he'd made a mess so lovely that the jungle
took it up as its own instantly. Blood no redder than the
flowers, metal so filth-ridden it made its own kind of
camouflage amid the bodies and the mud.

He remembers being more tired and weak than he'd
been in those first few days in the Nevada installation,
when the endless white and perfect right angles of the
place had brought him close to true despair, to knowing
exactly why the Christians found it to be such a sin.

He remembers joy bearing him up, and the satiation of
spent rage.

He remembers the jungle welcoming him into its grasp
with promises of things to learn, animals to confuse,
demons to... use.

The exhaustion hadn't lasted long.

Weeks passed, or perhaps years, and when the jungle
spit him out he'd been lean, far more tattooed then
before, and scarred almost entirely of his own volition.
He had tasted the pure, wordless fear of the scattered
tribes of the Amazon, he had eaten flesh straight from
the living, bleeding source. He had learned.

Something like a finer degree of patience, something
like the purest expression of memory. There was a
vine that he'd named love, and every time he'd seen
it he'd remembered the look in Ripper's eyes when
Ethan had danced, or when he'd quoted some ancient
tome Ripper had been young enough to believe no
eyes had seen but his own.

The look had been something trapped hopelessly
between helplessness, religious awe, and guilt.

And Ethan remembers being young enough not to
understand it well enough to react with more than
callow triumph.

There was a snake he'd named faith, and chided himself
for the easy joke of it all, and yet there'd been something
about its sinuous hunger, and deadly grace...

The outside world had been distressing at first. All the
sharp corners, all the repression, and yet it hadn't taken
long to find his old joy of it. The seduction of chaos from
beneath the skin, and the far more tender veneer of

The endless change he could wreak, one man against the
crashing tide of order. Ripper had worked very hard and
very diligently not to understand Ethan's passion, hard
enough that he *never* understood the raw, powerful
*duty* of it.

To be the one to show the world the truth of things,
everything that lurked beneath the dirt and the sweat
and the crude and solid things. The energy that demanded
release, and to be allowed to re-form and change
whatever it touched. He was a conduit to the only true
god this world would ever know, eternal and unstoppable.

He was part of something... true.

It lightens his step as he walks the streets, as he finds
the bar the latest rumors have led him to, as he charms
the bouncer by complimenting her truly lush beard, and
makes himself look as harmless as any queen could ever

As he opens herself up to *her* power and feels it
rearrange his own for a brief moment, as it takes another
to make him need to prostrate himself, to destroy, to
rage and fuck and... there.

Her hair is its own beacon, a not-quite-natural red
glancing bright from the neon. She sits alone, but it's
clear that it's purely choice on her part. The dance floor
is full of couples and enthusiastic singles, and every
once in a while a mascara'ed eye or a defiantly bare
one will cast puzzled glances her way.

The ward she is using is a small one, but effective. No
one who doesn't understand who and what she truly is
will be able to come near.

Ethan doesn't have that problem.

Crossing the ward is a matter of a shimmer over his skin,
like walking through gently electrified water, and it
makes her jump, look up from her garishly cheerful
drink. He breathes deep and smells the club, sweat,
alcohol, and... nothing from her. He walks closer and

"I know you," she says, and her expression is getting
harder as he watches.

It's endearing, but he doesn't care to underestimate this
one. The body is young, the power is something else
altogether. Goddess all over her like a stain, and when
she's old her hair will be long and white. The knowledge
comes fast and easy, hard when it burns itself on his
mind. A small, backhanded gift from chaos. And the
mind... well, that remained to be seen. He nods at her
and smiles, not bothering to try to look harmless this
time. "Ripper telling tales out of school?"

The hardness checks itself on her face with a small
frown. "I met you, actually. Years ago."

And that's... disconcerting. It isn't that he's ever had
an especially good memory for faces, even ones as
pretty as her own, but that much power... he thinks
back, and remembers a hedge witch in childish
clothing, soft eyes and soft mouth and not enough
power to bother with. Raises an eyebrow. "You've
changed," he says, and to his surprise she laughs.

Darkly, but with none of the bitterness of affected
youth. It's an adult laugh. "Yeah, well, I don't think
*you'd* be here if I hadn't, right?"

It's a moment that would be improved by her taking
 a drag from a cigarette, or sipping anything but the
fruity abomination in her hand. "Very true. Miss
Rosenberg --"

"Call me Willow, Ethan. We're not friends, and I
don't want to be, but..." She trails off, and waves
her hand vaguely.

"All right, Willow... dare I ask what makes you so jaded?"

The look this time could chip steel. "I wouldn't, if I
were you."

And Ethan has to chew on that for a moment. Savor
it. There's a sense in this girl of *opposite*, of the
kind of wrong that's endlessly attractive. This one
would worship order if she knew the rites. This
one... is waiting for him to give something away. He
bows his head, only a little mockingly.

"What are you here for? What do you want from me?
And, no, by the way. You can't have it."

He wants... well, her power more than anything else.
But that particular trick isn't very easy to perform
unless one is already far more powerful than the
intended sacrifice. Or cool, refreshing beverage, as the
case may be.

No, he knows he won't be getting anything quite *that*
lovely from this little meeting, but he hadn't needed the
American military to teach him the value of

"Just to know my enemy, Willow."

She raises an eyebrow at that, puts the drink down.
Seems to think for a moment. "Stay away from me and

"I think you'll find there's some overlap, there..."

Crackle of power, quiet and deadly, and Ethan feels
something inside of him... twist.

He grunts and winces, dutifully.

"No. There isn't."

When the pain starts to recede, he tilts his head. "Why
aren't you dancing, Willow? Nothing quite your type

"Isn't your club across the street and down a few

Touche. "Not tonight."

They stare at each other for long moments, and there's
another crackle of magic. Too fast for Ethan to flinch
and the ward is down. Almost immediately, a waitress
in a rather brief mock-tuxedo finds their way to their

"Refills?" She turns to Ethan and gives him that quick,
casually intense scrutiny any man in this place would
get. "Can I get you anything, sir?"

"We'll both have Mai Tais, thanks." Willow waves the
waitress off and she goes without another word.

Ethan raises an eyebrow. "I think you truly *are* my

Willow shrugs. "My table, my rules." She leans back,
tilting the chair until it hits the wall. Crosses long legs
in not-particularly-interesting jeans and eyes him

She is somewhere in her mid-twenties, and for a
moment her eyes look much older. "You're not trying
to be a Willow I'd remember anymore."

"When did you get away from the Initiative?"

Ethan blinks, smiles and remembers the metal shear
stink of blood overpowering -- briefly -- the scent of
everything else. "About a year ago."

"Mm. It's been about that long since we heard from
Riley, or Sam for that matter."

Not so much a question as an open-ended statement.
"There were quite a few nasty things in that jungle."

"You must miss it."

The waitress returns with their drinks, setting both
carefully close to Willow. She hands it to him with a
smirk. He smiles back and takes an execrable sip. "It
had its charms."

Another hard look, and then something rather far away.
He thinks of Ripper, and when he'd spend hours staring
out a window at nothing at all. He thinks of Riley
rotting into earth. "The world isn't made for you,

"This world you're trying to make, you mean?"

She downs half of her drink in a single swallow and her
mouth twists. He can see where wrinkles will form, if
she lets them. "I could kill you in the loudest, messiest
way possible right now. No one here would bat an

He bows his head slightly, and smiles. "You could,

"You think I won't?"

"I think you'll want a better reason first. I have no
intention of giving you one."

There's something bright and unformed behind her
eyes, and her smile this time is loose and rough and
somehow even older than the ones before. She's
getting drunk. "You know what the funniest thing
about all of this is? I mean, do you really know?"

He takes a polite sip of his own drink. "Tell me."

"You're a believer. I mean... you really are. I could feel
that as soon as you passed through the ward. You...
you're covered in it. I can feel it in your bones.
Whatever you do, whoever you hurt or kill... you
honestly think you're doing the *right* thing. And
that's... my ex would have called it 'fucking hilarious.'"

Interesting. He leans in, just a little. "Would she, now?"

Narrow-eyed nod. "Oh, yeah. Kennedy was... a brat.
A *fucking* brat, and she had... well. Sometimes she
got things right."

"I would think... I would think faith is something your
lot would be familiar with."

And it's her turn to lean in. She runs a finger down
the bridge of his nose with a lazy burst of magic that
makes him itch horribly for an endless second. "How
many heroes have you messed up, Ethan? Do you
get off on it? You can tell me. Since we're getting to
know each other, and all."

And there are... all sorts of ways to answer that, really.
He tilts his head. "Would it make you feel better if I

She sits back again, and makes a show of thinking it
over, youth coming back into her like it had just been
waiting for a cue. "Better.... better. That's..." She
gulps down the rest of her drink almost absently.
"That's really an interesting way of putting it."

He pushes over his own drink, watches her make a
face before taking it. "Is it?"

"The world is out of balance, Ethan."

"I've noticed. I take it that was your doing...?"

Nasty smile. "I'm going to keep it this way. I'm going
to... wipe this world *clean*."

And oh, of *course* she will. It would be almost
disappointing if there wasn't that power. That rumored
history. As it is... it makes him want to play. "You
don't think it will be terribly dull?"

And the look she gives him is purely ugly, and not as
strange to that kewpie doll face as it should, perhaps,

He has enough time to think about the war out there,
the rumors, and just how 'ex' her exes may be, and
then she stands up abruptly. Sweeps on her long coat,
drops a small stack of bills on the table, and looks at
him hard.

"Why don't you come with me?"

The night is bland and bright and starless, the air sterile
where not polluted by smoke and other human effluvia.
He dips within and reaches out, just enough to skim
beneath the world's surface and Willow watches him do

He knows he's being measured.

Apparently, he's nothing to worry about, because she
turns her back to him and starts to walk. Pauses at the
mouth of an alley and grins sloppily back over her
shoulder. "I wanna see what you can do," she says.
"But I don't think I want you in my apartment."

He offers a leer, but it's to the back of her head. He
follows her into the dark and high summer reek and
gets slammed back against damp brick. "Really,
Willow, you don't --"

The kiss is hard and sweet only through the dubious
benefit of the drinks. She bites his lip hard enough to
make it bleed and forces a rush of magic through him,
burning and cloying and then just deep and dark and
wet as this patch of night, as her tongue.

He rides it and groans into her mouth, feeling every
part of him rise to the moment. There is all sorts of
magic in the world and this is something of a specialty
of his. He spits blood back into Willow's mouth and feels
the girl, the *woman* reel and shake. So. Not a specialty
of hers. And really, hadn't Ripper taught her *anything*?

He watcher her feel it. What he has every day. What
he *is*.

Feels it, or something close enough to it to make her
break the kiss and shake her head and when she looks
up her eyes are wide and black and perfect.

"Oh, lovely..."

Small, hard hand in his pants and he buries his hands in
her hair and kisses her properly. Slower than her touch,
deeper than she'll ever, ever go. When she pulls back
this time her smile is a kind of joyful obscenity, wet
and shiny and hungry. "I'm going to fuck you," she says,
and Ethan doesn't have enough time to blink before
he's being spun around.

Hands up and braced and she whispers something old
and insinuating as she strokes his naked cock, then lets
him go.

Sound of a zipper and he hopes he's never too old for
this, for the crackle and burn, for the feel of a slick hard
cock that he'd bet blood was the mirror of his own
nudging between his cheeks and forcing its way in.

Can't hold back a cry at the sudden burn and doesn't try.

She doesn't slow, just rocks her way in, bites at his back
through his shirt and wraps *force* around him to make
him bend his knees. And then there's a mouth at the
back of his neck, hot and nearly as vicious as everything
he's forcing into his blood. She drinks him like a vampire,
and fucks him like a woman.

She growls out spells in a dozen dead and dying
languages, each of them more damaging than the last
and nothing she'd let herself do when her eyes were clear
and blue.

The earth shakes beneath their feet and Ethan laughs
and prepares to stumble, but the power is all around
them now, and he looks up to see rubble bouncing off
something invisible about three feet above their heads,
pushes against the wall experimentally and feels the
*true* wall, soft and utterly ungiving.

And inside... inside is his own cock and Willow's
increasing desperation, fucking his own poison back into
his body and licking him like a cat.

"Damn you, God *damn* you --"

And Ethan lets his head fall back on her shoulder and
laughs hard enough that he can feel it in his belly.
Reaches down to stroke his own cock and fills his body
with snares and dreams of the *real* God.

Short sharp fingernails digging into his hips and he can
feel it when it breaks, when she *realizes* that she
can't stop even if she (truly) wants to and she howls
with everything in her. Ethan can feel his ears bleed.

Ethan can hear the screams surrounding them and
takes a tiny part of himself back from Willow. Just to
feel it. Just to... touch.

And then gives it all back, forcing it on her in an
endless meal of human pain and joy and confusion.

She's buried to the hilt, jerking and shuddering more
than thrusting, and for a moment he's tempted to
yank at his balls, knowing that the connection between
them will stop her from coming as much as it will hurt
him. But...

He wants her power more.

Bears down and forces his hips back and back and
releases his cock to reach up and hold her head to his

"Take it," he whispers, or perhaps it's just the flow of
blood. The splash of come against the wall and the
fire of it within him. And oh, it's heady, it's wonderful,
it scorches his bones and flays the skin from his flesh,
and the best part is Willow's endless keen.

The best part is knowing that she's feeling it, too, and
that unlike *him*... has no idea what to do with it.

He laughs and laughs and comes until it feels like he's
bleeding inside, feels Willow's cock dissolve to smoke
and power within him and drives an elbow into her belly
to knock her back.

Turns, shaking and humming, and finds her curled up
on herself on the ground, twitching like a kicked puppy
and sparking with half-spent magic.

He feels like he's going to die.

He feels like he can swallow the world as he goes.

It's the work of a moment to force a fingernail to grow
long and sharp, and then he kneels beside her. Draws
on and into her cheek once, twice, and a third time.

Spits a mouthful of blood and saliva onto the wound
and watches it sizzle and smoke. A small rune, and
nothing as powerful as he *could* make at this
moment, but he wants a messenger, not a slave.

He knows the message will be received and understood.

Ethan gets to his feet and straightens his clothes with
a burst of stolen magic, and leaves her there to recover,
or not.

The world stretches before him like a strong and
needful whore, endlessly dirty and waiting for him. Ready
for him.

A goddess screams for vengeance just beneath his skin.

A vine and a snake coil around his heart and squeeze
with every pulse and thud. He... hadn't expected this.

But if that isn't the definition of God, then nothing is.