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SUMMARY: Giles and Ethan, the electric Kool-Aid funky Satan groove year, in the early seventies. Rated M. Spoilers to Band Candy. Acknowledgements and disclaimers.


"We could bargain with it," said Ethan. "We could trade something to get Randall back." In fact, he wondered where Philip had got to.

"You don't bargain with demons," said Rupert. "They only agree when you've made the situation worse than when you started."

"And you're the expert?" asked Diedre.

"Actually," Ethan had to admit, "he is."

"Call Evelyn," said Diedre.

"She's on a boat," Ethan snapped. He turned back to Rupert. "Call the Watchers," he said.

Rupert said, "I need to stay here, in case it wakes. One of you should go."

"I'm not leaving him," Diedre said.

So Ethan wrote down the number. "There's a phone box near the bridge," he said. "I'll be right back."

Someone had thrown up recently in the phone booth, but Ethan barely noticed. He put in his coins and dialled the number.

It was picked up on the first ring. "Yes?" asked an elderly female voice.

"I'm calling on behalf of Rupert Giles," Ethan said. "We have an unconscious man possessed by Eyghon the Sleepwalker. We want to know what to do."

"One moment," said the voice. It was quite without any trace of emotion.

He waited, looking at the graffiti and not really taking it in.

The voice returned. "We cannot give you a specific recommendation at this time. It would take us a couple of days to ascertain the information."

"Then what should we do?" Ethan heard himself shout.

"Kill it," said the voice.

Ethan hung up. He waited there for a moment, thinking, then he called Mr Grey. The phone rang out eight, ten, then fifteen times. He gave up and went back to the yard.

He should make something up, he realised, but by then Rupert and Diedre had read his expression.

"I thought so," Rupert said.

"No, wait, I think we should--"

But then Eyghon started to move. Just the fingers, a little twitch. Diedre shouted and pointed.

Rupert swung the handlebar. It made a kind of a thick cracking sound as it hit Randall's head.

Ethan held Diedre as Rupert swung. She had her face buried against Ethan's shoulder, so she couldn't see, but Ethan watched. He saw Randall's face -- already unlike him -- cave in piece by piece, then steadily become more pulpy. It seemed to take a very long time. The twitching stopped and so did Randall's breathing.

Then Rupert stood there, panting, with his hands on his knees to hold himself up. His shirt and jacket were still open to the chest, as they had been since the start of the spell.

The sky had that first faint lightness of dawn in it. Ethan felt that his shoulder was wet where Diedre was crying onto it. He saw that one of the shoulder straps of her dress was torn, exposing most of a breast. He reached over to tie up the strap and realised that his hands hurt. The wound was still oozing from where he'd ripped out the nail and he'd burnt his palms putting out the candle flames when the spell had started to go wrong. He left a bloodstain on Diedre's shoulder as he tied the strap.

He was suddenly very thirsty and very tired.

Rupert had got enough of his breath back to say, "We need to take its head off so it doesn't re-form. The spinal cord's going to be difficult."

Diedre let go of Ethan then. She turned and marched towards Rupert, and started to hit him. It was just slaps, nothing with much force behind it, but Rupert was off-balance.

"How could you do that?" she shouted. "How could you kill Randall?"

Rupert seized her shoulders and held her away from him with his long arms. "That wasn't Randall anymore," he said.

"Not Randall?" she gestured towards the corpse, which was still unmistakably wearing Randall's clothes. "You're not really like the rest of us, are you?" she said. "You're inhuman."

She turned and left the yard.

"It's not Randall any more," Rupert told Ethan, looking almost bewildered. Ethan felt a stab of pity.

"Does it have to be the head?" Ethan asked. "What if I deliquesced the whole body?"

"Well, that would stop it regenerating. You can do that?"

"Yes," said Ethan. "Go home. I'll see you there."

Up until now, Ethan had only tried this spell on dead mice, the ones brought to him incidentally by summoned owls.

It took a lot longer to decompose a human-sized body than a mouse.

All that time, he had this niggling idea in his head that he should rescue Randall's clothes, as if Randall were waiting at home or somewhere else, and would miss his stolen shirt and trousers.

Ethan couldn't really be doing this, of course. He couldn't be sitting there, casting a spell to rot Randall's body in a yard near the canal, with the sky turning blue overhead and the dawn birds singing. He couldn't be watching skin sink into flesh and then into bone as he waited there.

He was never up that early, for a start.

Once the body had been reduced to a thick stain on the concrete he went to look at the bicycle handlebars. The stain on that didn't look human either; it was the wrong colour and too thick. Demon blood, he thought. He'd just throw it in the canal to be sure.

He watched the waters close over it.

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March 2013


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