by Te
August 2000

Disclaimers: If they were mine, I'd sigh a lot.

Spoilers: A New Man

Summary: Giles hits the road.

Ratings Note: R.

Author's Note: Staring at Laura's fifth cover for Cicatrix
can just *do* things to a girl.

Acknowledgments: To sweet Debba, for listening and such.
Brief and incongruous song lyric belongs to Metallica.


*and the road becomes my bride*

Some snatch of song on the radio, caught before it could be safely
tuned to the -- God help him -- *Classic* rock station. Which plays
music that, seemingly only moments before, was the noise he was tuning
away from.

The world makes it hard not to dwell on encroaching age, and Giles
already has a predilection for morbid brooding that needs no
encouragement. In the end, he turns the radio off entirely, rolls down
the window, and listens to the road.

Still, the concept is undeniably poetic, something made for *this*
particular road, desert browns and unforgiving white sun above.
There's something quite pure about this land, a clean place to die.

Though this, perhaps, was merely the ultimate reaction to anyone
leaving the Hellmouth. For a moment he wonders why Xander came back
last fall. For a moment he wonders if he will.

Which is patently ridiculous, for this trip is only a short one, a small
jaunt, bare bones vacation of sorts. With a side trip to a certain
abandoned airfield in Nevada which is where they took Ethan Rayne.
An off-hand mention from Riley, and Giles hadn't known it affected
him until he woke the next morning.

Needing to be there.

Not a spell, not guilt, not even a sense of rectitude. Just need. And
the absurd voice in his mind,

"Well, Rupert, he's certainly done his time, hasn't he?"

The Fyarl spell just a prank, the trip to federal prison merely a
time-out, in the parlance of the day. But of course, it wasn't a prison,
was it?

A detention center, just right for that sort of criminal, wasn't that
what had been said?

And didn't he know what that meant?

Oz, hollow-eyed on his doorstep, refusing entry, stopping only to say
good-bye, again. A painful walk back to his van. Unbidden, and somehow
for only the first time, his mind conjures the image of Ethan. Ethan
after whatever they did to warlocks had been done, hollow-eyed and in

And the image is a difficult one. Intellectually, it should give Giles
only triumph. Pain for pain, torture and fear for the same. But though
Oz with dying eyes was terrible, Ethan with the same grabbed hold of
him and *twisted* something deep inside.

The Ethan place, of course, where all the feelings, the hopes, the
dreams and fantasies, dark and light had gone over the years. The
wishes. No matter what, Ethan was *vital* in the old sense of the word.
Alive throughout it all, feeling every punch, and certainly every caress.

And yes he still loved Ethan. Always, a promise unspoken but
remembered. I will love you, and hurt you, and thus we will both pay for
what we did, yes?/ Which was to make the love irrelevant, something
to, if not forget, then certainly to live past.

Far away, drive and fly into the Hellmouth itself, just to do what's
necessary to run.

And, of course, to be productive about it.

But with his work mostly done, gathering dust... With his inheritance
dwindling slowly -- and thank you, great-grandfather, for looting all
those Yelerian stockholds and somehow managing to be the only one
of your compatriots to live. Mind wandering and the road is empty.

Silent bride, and barren, too. The thought brings a small shiver and he
turns the radio on again, searches idly and finally lets a series of
moderately obnoxious commercials play until he can't stand anymore
and goes back to silence. He could put in a tape, but it all seems very
old. Very much done.

He turns off the air conditioner and rolls the window down, instead.
And really, truly can't get enough of ground that is neither sanctified
nor defiled. Ground that is just itself, heat that is just itself.
Baking him comfortably within his clothes, and it's all right. He has
plenty of water.

And memories, of course.

A warlock and a Giles to the core. Great-grandfather dead, but
Grandmother alive, and well. He remembers being nine, and quite
terrified of the looping scar on her face, pink and shiny, tightening
the wrinkles of her face into a perpetual grin, or a snarl. It was all
the same, then. To be Rupert Giles.

And Grandmother had grasped his chin. Raised his head and burrowed
deep within his gaze with her own, of faded blue.

"You're not very pretty child, and that will do you well. Mark me --
there will come a day the demons will go for you, too. Don't be afraid
to give them your face to save your innards, boy."

She was kind, if unabashedly violent. A watcher of the old school,
guardian and life to two slayers who lived and died long before
Rupert was born. It was Grandmother who he'd stayed in touch with
from London, and it was Grandmother who took him back when he
returned, prideless and cold inside.

And it was Grandmother who honed the coldness, demanded he keep
it forever, and taught him to hide it as well.

Sometimes he still wishes he could have shown her a proper scar
before she died, and realizes that his childhood was troubled. It's
an odd thought. Spectacularly useless, yet as large as anything else.
A sense of unfairness, gifted to him now, when it would have been
far more appreciated when he was a child. And there would be no
other Gileses after himself.

He pushed the Citroen a little faster.

Sometime later, the line in the road feels solid. A gathering presence
just to his side, as though he is the car. As though a drift to the
right would skin him to the bone against the non-existent divider. The
desert is not silent, he is merely passing too fast to listen. There
are creaks, rattles and the hush-hush shift of dust on rock, and on

He wants to slow down. He wants to veer to the left drastically and
drive right through it all until he comes to stop... somewhere.

And knows, down deep, that it is not yet the time. And has to smile
because... because this has to be a summons, doesn't it? Ethan of
course, of *course* still alive and 'tripping a method to call Giles to
him, wherever he is.

/A cell?/

If so, what then?

But that question is flooded away with the simple wave of *feeling*.
No need to tease it apart, to know all of its components. It's
*Ethan*, and the sudden realization of... relief? Pleasure? Anger? And
of course he has to try to tease it apart anyway.

If this was a summoning -- and it was, it had to be -- then Ethan was
alive, and waiting for him.

Needing him.

Surviving on the desert hardpan? Somewhere in the midst of a vast,
grey institution filled to the absolute brim with technology? Some
place neither of them belonged and suddenly, the sun's oranging glare
is an accusation, because... because.

The night was their time.

Clink of glass to glass in his mind, slow anger and chagrin over the
trick. And oh, oh Ethan he would've... Ripper would've only enchanted
Ethan's clothes to shrink, perhaps cutting off air for a while. He
would've hexed his rental to the pavement. Laughed and slapped and
fucked him so *hard*.

As the demon, first.

But Giles can't do that.

Not where they can *see*.

And it's a comfort when night falls, because he can remember now.
Darling Ethan, beloved Ethan crushed to his body, giggling as he
moaned, as Giles drew blood from his throat. Ethan leaving them more
and more frequently, and the shrine Giles finally discovered by
following him.

Janus, open and grinning and sobbing and reaching out to touch the
world. Just a representation, for Janus is made of only two, and
chaos is... Chaos is many, and Ethan was one of the many. Alone, nude
and oiled, knelt before the shrine and whispering obeisances.

Beautiful Ethan, child  of Chaos.

Finishing his prayer and walking to Giles, and, "Ripper." Smiling
brilliantly, panting from exertion, wrapping his arms around Giles'
neck. "I knew you'd come. Oh, it's going to be wonderful..."

And trying to understand, to accept. Calling the demons and reveling in
it, random causality of their spells always somewhere outside
themselves and the coven.

The way it made the music *powerful*, the way it would take his
fingers and glide them over and over the strings in smoky little
fire-trap clubs where the lights caught only his sweat, and his joy.
But the good was balanced by the bad, chaos tugging away at order,
and making things... different.

Unpredictable and vastly dangerous, making them forget even the
demons of their past.

Making six months ago into The Past, as though nothing had truly
occurred until they raised the stakes and Randall... Randall in death
had been small, his tattoo irrelevant beside the porthole ripped open
in his belly, through which they could see... terrible things.

And Ethan had mourned with the rest of them, but his devotion to
Chaos only grew. The power, the randomness, the chaos, all around.

Exasperated, still bleeding from shallow, deliberate cuts in the
palms of his hands. Showing them to Giles in his frustration, blood
spattering the walls, himself, Giles as he gestured more and more
wildly. "But don't you see, Ripper? Without chaos there can be none
of your precious harmony! Order alone would strangle the world!"

All true, of course, but there could be no harmony without order.
Self-serving to choose the side of darkness, of endless pleasure and
pain when it had only supposed to be a *rebellion*.

Not a movement. Not this.

And Ethan to his back, as Giles slipped into the taxi back home. "Oh,
but you love me, Ripper. And love belongs to Chaos, as well."

The moonlit desert is done in greys and silvers. Predictably, Ethan's
favorite colors. For a moment, Giles wishes, desperately, to see the
man Ethan has become smile at him the way the boy used to, one hand
to his cheek, open and openly mischievous, as if there was nothing
degenerate at all about the way they lived.

As if it could all be that simple.

But Ethan is for sale now and knows it. Accepts it. Owns it, traveling
the world and peddling the gifts of his surrogate father-concept. One
of the last true rainmakers, and brittlely, bitterly aware of every
crime committed. Giles knows this, felt it grow as their rancorous
encounters grew less and less frequent, and more and more vicious. The
other side of love.

And he's not surprised to find himself driving in the desert at last,
jostling the poor old Citro over dirt, rocks and the crackle of old
bleached bone. And he *feels* it in his bones, and can't quite
comprehend the clock, the number of hours and what it all means.

The pinprick in the distance resolves into a fire, the shadows shift
and scuttle to leave Ethan quite alone, leaning against the rock that
serves as a windbreak. Giles does his best to stop the car before it
can kick dust at the other man and mostly succeeds.

Gets out of the car and finds that his legs are deeply, deeply angry
with him, and that he needs to urinate quite badly.

But what he does is walk the rest of the way to Ethan.

"I knew you'd come."

And Giles can only nod.

Ethan makes an expansive gesture, offering Giles the entire desert.
"Please, have a seat."

There's a large green duffel on the opposite side of the fire from
Ethan, and Giles very carefully doesn't wonder what happened to its
original owner. But he can't sit down.

"Ripper? Are you quite all right? Isn't it time for the pummeling
and recriminations? I have quite a few lined up for that first-class
trip to the Death Valley Hilton you sent me on and --"

Falling to his knees is quite easy, and Ethan's face is stubbled and
warm and his mouth is soft and welcoming. Silent, they kiss, and Giles
hopes it's a coyote he hears in the distance, for dramatic symbolism
alone, but in the end he just holds Ethan's face and kisses him until he
runs out of breath, and then does it again, and again, until the hard
light in the other man's eyes begins to soften, just a little.

"I don't recall putting *that* into the summons, old man, so don't you
dare blame --"

Pressing the tips of his fingers against Ethan's mouth, and his eyes
*are* softer. Wilder and open and confused and Giles just... *wants*.
"Ethan, please... I need to trust you tonight."

Ethan brushes past Giles' fingers and kisses him hard, careless and
needful, flash of tongue and a bite before moving back and.

"But you mustn't, beloved."

And all Giles can do is nod, and kiss him again.