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[personal profile] indri
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.

113.

Diedre came by on Friday afternoon. Ethan had been half-asleep, curled up on his mattress, when he heard someone at the back door. He padded down to the first floor landing and caught a glimpse of her dark hair in the stairwell below. He wished now that he'd washed and shaved.

She was dressed tightly in black, with a long skirt and a short jacket, and her hair was tied back. Her face was clear of makeup, monochrome and indistinct in the hallway light. She didn't respond to Ethan's approach at all. Instead she reached into a large leather bag and pulled out a Polaroid camera. Ethan sat on the landing, watching as she loaded it with film.

At the bottom of the stairs she raised her arms as high as she could and pointed the camera at the wall. The flash went off and Ethan blinked, and there was a whirring sound as the photograph came out of the camera. Diedre put it carefully on the hallway floor, then raised the camera for another photograph.

Ethan stepped behind her, to better see the developing picture. From a yellow gloom appeared a pair of crows who gazed towards a red and swollen moon. It was a piece of Randall's stairwell-spanning painting.

"If you're planning to photograph the whole thing, it's going to take a long time," Ethan commented. He found that the leather bag was full of Polaroid film and hinged photo albums.

Diedre kept on saying nothing. She would not look at him at all. She carried on taking photographs. When he sat on a step immediately in her way, she just stepped around him and photographed a different part of the stairwell.

"Diedre," he said, "Diedre, it's me, Ethan. I'm the one who killed Randall. I'm right here." He saw her hands waver a little, but she carried on. "Sand and not salt for the pentagram. It was me."

She still didn't respond, so he went to make her a cup of coffee that grew cold on a windowsill. After a while, she sat down on a step to rest, rolling her shoulders and stretching her arms as if they ached.

Ethan sat down next to her. "I killed Randall," he said. His face was a few inches from hers. "I'm the reason he's dead."

She leant over and pressed her face to her knees. When she lifted her face up, her skirt was wet with tears.

He followed her in her slow progress up the stairs for hours. Polaroid after polaroid was taken, placed on the steps to develop, then put away in the albums. The batteries died in the camera, so she put in more. She spoke not a word and she gave him not a glance.

Sometime after four, the back door opened again and Ethan realised he was running out of time. He stood next to her and shouted, "It's me! It's Ethan!" and a few seconds later, something like a freight train slammed into him.

Rupert Giles slammed him up against a wall, with enough force to make Ethan's head rebound. Rupert's face was tight and cold with anger.

"Leave her alone," Rupert said.

And Ethan knew then what he had to do.

114.

The set list was sellotaped to the floor between Rupert and The Grin's lead singer. The band was set up next to the pub windows and near the door. Rupert was distracted every time someone came in, in case they tripped over the amplifier cables.

They were doing mostly covers tonight. They had an audience of about five who stood a yard away, alternately nodding their heads and sipping their beer. The rest of the packed room were just there for a drink and a chat: sometimes they looked up, but mostly they talked very loudly and kept their heads down. In quieter moments Rupert could catch snatches of conversation about football, someone's tight snatch, and a train trip to Blackpool.

"Right now," said the lead singer, "Cherry Red." After a couple of bars, he launched into the vocals. This was definitely one of the harder ones for Rupert, even if he was sometimes playing simplified licks.

But he still couldn't help but notice that there was a girl stalking through the crowd in a very familiar way. She wore a long dress in a patterned brown and her dark hair swung almost to her waist. Rupert watched her inviting herself to take a seat next to a lone drinker.

He had to concentrate hard for a solo or two, and when he next caught sight of the couple, the man had his hand on her thigh. He was not a good-looking man and Rupert doubted that women approached him often. As the song came to end, the couple rose from their booth.

Rupert was pouring with sweat from his effort. He put down his guitar and shouted, "Give me five minutes?" He made a motion with his hands to indicate a beer glass.

"We're having a short break now," said the lead singer, sounding a bit pissed.

Rupert picked up his jacket from against the wall. He ducked down a corridor as he groped in his jacket pocket. The girl was leading the ugly man into a disused back kitchen. Rupert's mirrored ring showed what he'd already guessed: that she was a vampire.

"Do you mind?" said the girl when she saw him.

He pulled out a stake.

"Oh, you've got to be kidding me," she said.

She showed her true face then and her erstwhile paramour backed off. Rupert thrust at her but missed, and with a casual backhand she slammed him into a counter. He dropped his stake and fell to the floor.

"Look, I'll just kill the both of you," she said, shutting the kitchen door and pushing a refrigerator in front of it.

Rupert rolled over and grabbed his stake. The other man was trying the rusted lock on the windows.

"I think I have to kill you first," the vampire said to Rupert. "You're going to be a bit harder than Frankie here."

Rupert pulled out a crucifix and held it in front of him.

"Oh, for fuck's sake," the vampire said, rolling her eyes. She ripped a cupboard door from its hinges and threw it at Rupert. It slammed into his midriff and he doubled over in pain. The vampire shook her head in bewilderment. "So what would you do if your bacon tried to bite back?"

Rupert scrambled around the room, as she bared her teeth and followed him. He ended up next to the ripped-open cupboard. He grabbed a container of Ajax cleaner and threw as much of it at her face as he could.

When she shrieked and rubbed at her eyes, Frankie launched himself at her, knocking her to the ground. He kept her there just long enough for Rupert to slam the stake home.

"Thanks," said Frankie. "Hey, aren't you in the band?"

He got back to his guitar. He was panting, even more sweat-slicked, and was smeared with dust from the kitchen floor and the dying vampire. There was a fine white powder of Ajax on his shirt sleeve.

The Grins' lead singer gave him a look. "The Other Side of This Life," he said, tapping his foot on the set list.

After the gig, Rupert grabbed himself a beer and then went to stand outside in the cool night air, his back pressed against the pub wall. His shirt was soaked and he needed a cigarette. He looked down the night street, thinking.

This is what his life could be, he thought: day rehearsals, evening gigs, night kills. He could get his own digs with a stipend from Chalmers and call up Stockton whenever he was in over his head. He ought to be able to manage that for a couple of years, until something killed him.

But what was the alternative? Living his own life, playing at pub shows, and staying on in the squat until he could find better-paid work as a session musician? Forever getting glimpses of the demonic world in the corner of his eye, and drinking himself under every night because wasn't doing a damn thing about it?

A group of girls came out of the pub then. Most of them waved goodbye and tottered in the general direction of a bus-stop, but a red-headed girl spotted him and hung back.

"Hey," she said. "You're in the band."

"Yeah," he said, stubbing out his cigarette with his foot.

A few minutes later, he led her through the pub to its unused kitchen.

Date: 2011-10-17 11:20 am (UTC)
shapinglight: (Giles and Ethan)
From: [personal profile] shapinglight
Rupert still adrift then, but less and less so. Sadly, I can feel this story drawing to an end and I don't want it to end.

Date: 2011-10-17 10:13 pm (UTC)
yourlibrarian: Angel and Lindsey (Default)
From: [personal profile] yourlibrarian
Great set of scenes. So Ethan identified the problem -- I wonder if Giles came to the same conclusion.

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