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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.


Ethan woke on the cold concrete. He was chilled and sore, having slept on his back, partly over a candleholder. He had to start with some stretching before he felt able to try standing up. He was unsteady on his feet as he gathered his gear together. His head felt full of cottonwool and his eyes didn't want to open properly.

It had been a long time since he'd left the brakes off like that.

The sun was high in the sky when he stepped out of the garage, but he was too giddy to take in whether it was before noon or after noon. In the yard he paused for a moment next to Randall, before heading back towards home.

He got most of the way there before he decided that what he really wanted first was a meal. He changed course slightly to head to the cafe where he used to have breakfast with Ripper. They made a decent coffee. He thought coffee might help.

Of course, the bloody bastard had to show up just as Ethan was starting on his egg and chips. He was carrying his guitar, so perhaps he couldn't stay long.

"We have to tell Stan," said Rupert, for no apparent reason, as he pulled up a chair. "I know you're avoiding me, but we have to talk about this. It's unfair and it's simply untenable. I was out with him for hours last night, simply hours, and I couldn't say a word to him. He's very concerned, Ethan."

Ethan chewed a bit of egg.

"You look terrible," Rupert said. "Are you drunk?" He peered at Ethan's pupils. "Or something else?"

"I'm hungry," Ethan said, pointedly.

Rupert let him eat for a moment, but then said, "So should we tell him?"

"Tell him what?"

Rupert stared at Ethan and then shook his head. "You're unbelievable," he said. "You are simply unbelievable." He stood, then leant over the table. "Your friend, your supposedly good friend Randall, has been dead for what? Ten days? And you're sitting there, eating lunch, and asking me what I could be talking about. What else would I be talking about?"

"Tell Stan," said Ethan. "Why should I care what he thinks of me?"

Rupert got up then, gave him a look of disgust, and went out the door. He'd left an untouched coffee on the table that Ethan drank.

Back at the house, he slept for a while, feeling almost numb with exhaustion when he woke. It would be some days before he could stand to cast anything that strong again.

It was late evening. He wouldn't mind watching some television, but someone had taken the TV out of the attic in the last couple of days. He lit a couple of candles and flicked, rather listlessly, through a paperback novel.

He wondered how Diedre was. He wanted her back in the house. He was perfectly sure that Adrienne would be fine, but not Diedre. She should come home.

When he heard a car up outside the house, he looked out of the window, in case it was her. He was disappointed to see that it was, in fact, someone he didn't know. He went back to bed and to his book.


Rupert left Ethan back at the cafe and headed into work. There was a rowdier than usual crowd for a Wednesday at the hotel restaurant as there were two separate tables farewelling colleagues quite drunkenly and at great length. They were ordering another round of cocktails even as he packed up.

He spent the afternoon on quotidian tasks: grocery shopping, picking up a pair of boots that been resoled, and returning a library book. He had dinner at the pub, where the barman asked after Randall, Diedre and Ethan. Rupert gave a reply that was much less honest than, "Dead, crazed with grief, and psychopathic, respectively." He'd taken his usual seat in a booth that was much too large for a single man eating alone. It had always been very crowded and rather uncomfortable when the entire household had been there.

When Rupert got back to the house, he found Stockton in the kitchen with a cup of tea.

"Hope you don't mind," said Stockton. "It gets a bit dull just sitting in the car."

"There's supposed to be a ward on the door," Rupert pointed out.

"Well, yes," said Stockton, "but it's a pretty trivial one." He took a sip of tea.

"Have you been assigned to Camden Town now?"

"Just for a few weeks. The raising of Eyghon rather worried people, so I'm on temporary patrol. I've been wondering if you know how that came about."

"A local coven," said Rupert, "since disbanded."

Stockton said, "I brought some biscuits."

Rupert brought over a couple of stools and made himself some instant coffee.

"That tip of yours paid off," said Stockton. "The 'suck joint'. We cleaned it out this morning. Very easy job, in fact. The vampires were actually chained in place."

"What about Marty," asked Rupert, "the man who runs the place?"

Stockton shrugged. "I think he got away."

"Any news on the bats?"

"Not unless you have some. I spoke to a couple of wizards around Kentish Town, but they both disavowed all knowledge. And we have Penelope Jones and Archie Walters knee-deep in cards going through the prophecy and portent index." He passed Rupert a chocolate digestive. "Could it be the same coven who summoned Eyghon?"

"They've disbanded," Rupert said firmly. "And their lead caster hasn't enough power on his own; he's still doing card tricks. Pretty good card tricks, but not the sort of thing we saw last night."

"Hm," said Stockton. "Look, Giles, there's something else I wanted to talk with you about. It's just an idea, and I haven't mentioned it yet to anyone else, but... I happen to know that Dr Chalmers has a small pot of money for special projects. I know you don't want to come back to us, but you could still be part of the fight. You could be pretty useful here, keeping an eye out, letting us know what's going on outside HQ. Your guitar business, that would be an excellent front. I could talk to Dr Chalmers about getting you a stipend. You could be one of our fellows on the outside."

"I'll think about it," Rupert said.

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March 2013


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