indri: (Default)
[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.


117.

Ethan had come to London in 1968. He had a bag of clothes and a bag of books and his birthday money to tide him over. He hadn't really known anyone in London, at least, no-one he'd wanted to see again, but it was the best place he could think of for finding out more about magic.

He'd spent his first nights in a youth hostel dormitory, saving money when it was warm by sleeping in a park. Some of the people in the hostel had been like him, newly arrived and looking for somewhere to stay, so he was invited to sleep on a living room floor, which he did for a month until the landlord found twelve teenagers in his one-bedroom flat and threw them all out. By then, Ethan had met a queer in his fifties who claimed to have brought back spellbooks from Europe, so Ethan lived with him for a while, copying the spells out into his notebooks while the man slept, until they were all copied out and Ethan realised the man wasn't otherwise all that interesting. He'd dossed then on another living room floor -- or had that been later? -- and there had been the couple of months with a drug-addled would-be coven in Battersea. After them, it had been a relief to follow the scent of real magic back to Evelyn's; she was living in a borrowed flat off Ladbroke Grove at the time, so he had three weeks fucking her there before she'd swanned off back to her barge. He spent that December in an overcrowded squat where five of his housemates were in a Heinleinesque group marriage, but in January he met Randall, so then there had been the Cricklewood flat and the Camden squat. There'd been Adrienne, then biddable Pete the electronics and cricket enthusiast who'd eventually left to marry his fiance. After that, Ethan spent six months celibate to see if it helped him concentrate on his magic; as it didn't, he amused himself the following year with casual arrangements and infrequent pick-ups, which had suited him very well until the arrival of the magician-guitarist.

And all the while, Ethan had been learning about magic. When he'd first arrived, he'd thought his best bets were the major institutions like the British Library, where all the knowledge ought to be stored; perhaps it was, but if so, it was out of the reach of people such as himself with ordinary Reader's Tickets. He had had to look for magic elsewhere, in old bookshops and in boxes stored in the back of wardrobes. He picked up tricks from watching street performers and self-proclaimed psychics. When the old man had first pointed out a demon, Ethan had been terrified, but by the time he'd met Evelyn he was already used to trading blood for spells from reputable demonkind. He consumed all the magic he could find and then he would search for more.

There were footsteps outside from the concrete yard. Ethan braced himself, but it was only Philip.

Philip looked unhappy, which was hardly surprising, given the circumstances. He was pink-faced and sweating. "I did what you asked," he said. He hovered next to the garage doorway, as if reluctant to get any closer.

"I could tell," said Ethan. He sat in a chalked circle, surrounded by lit candles. "The connection lets me sense whenever someone becomes ensorcelled."

"You'll remove the spell from me now, then?"

Ethan looked at him, wondering what sort of flashy trick he could cast to reassure Philip without endangering the main spell. He couldn't think of one, so he said, "It'll wear off tomorrow, unless I renew it. Run along, now."

Philip ran.

Sometimes Ethan bumped into people from his old, pre-London life, and not just at Diedre's parties. It was usually on public transport. Most of them pretended not to recognise him, but Barton had been a couple of years ahead of Ethan at school and hadn't apparently heard of Ethan's later reputation. He recalled a rather surreal conversation on the train between Brighton and London where Barton, a banker, had quizzed him on his life choices, as if Ethan would ever have chosen the life Barton had.

But you found those sort of people in the cold-water flats too: intoxicated by their own supposed daring, shocked at even minor deviations from the norm, as if the norms were anything more than a historical quirk. Ethan frankly blamed it on the unimaginative way history was taught in schools.

No, there was only ever one path Ethan had ever desired or considered. He closed his eyes now to immerse himself more fully in the magic, feeling it warm him down to his bones. Magic: his hymn, his science, his dance, his joy. It was his life.

He sat on the concrete and waited.



118.

Rupert looked around. There were other people coming out of the pub and from the tube station who looked as bemused as Stockton. "Not everyone's affected," Rupert said.

"Are they coming from any particular direction?"

"The shouting does seem to be coming more from the west."

"I'll take a look," said Stockton. "Can you call HQ?"

"First bats, now this," said Rupert. "Got any change?"

It was Mrs Edwards on the phones tonight. That threw him a little, as she'd once taught him Document Preservation. Still, he stumbled his way through a description of the situation.

She cut him off halfway through. "Giles," she snapped. "Go and speak to your friend. I've been through the likely magical mechanisms and remedies with him already."

"Friend? Has Stockton called tonight?"

"Not Stockton, no, and it was this afternoon. Giles, has the security of this number been compromised?"

"What? No! No, I should just go and speak with this... friend of mine. I'll call you back when we're done."

Rupert closed his eyes. There was only one person that could possibly be. He'd given the number to no-one else.

When he left the telephone booth, he could see Stockton down the end of the street. Rupert took care not to be seen by him as he jogged away.

He went first to the house. Ethan's door was locked both magically and physically. Rupert chanted a likely counter-spell and then slammed his shoulder into the door. The wood around the lock gave way.

Inside, the room was almost bare. There was a mattress and a chair but everything else was gone. The place had been stripped.

So where else could he be?

Downstairs, on the kitchen table, someone had left a note: "Come to the canal? Evelyn." Perhaps he was working with her.

He had to run back then, parallel to the high street and towards the moorings to the north of the park. As he ran, he wondered: did anyone else have the Watcher telephone number? Could someone have taken it from Ethan? Rupert simply hadn't thought Ethan had this level of power. If he was working on his own, why would he be doing it?

But there had been the card-tricks in the railway station and the gryphon in the schoolyard. Sometimes Ethan just liked to play tricks on people. And he could be a cruel man; Rupert grimaced at the thought of how Ethan had recently behaved with Deirdre. And after all, how well, in fact, did Rupert know him? He still did not know Ethan's age, his place of birth, or whether he had any family. Rupert would be the first to admit that he'd been far from clear-headed in the last few months and he could well have missed many clues. He should focus instead on the feeling in his gut, that there was something very wrong with the man.

Rupert realised he had helped to bring this about. He'd taught Ethan some magic, provided constructive criticism on spells Ethan already knew, aided and abetted him in money-making schemes, and had even trusted him with the Council contact number. Rupert felt revulsion at his own complicity and blindness.

Ethan could have been playing these sorts of tricks the whole time, growing in arrogance all the while. Now he had made a mistake and Rupert was going to catch him.

He reached the moorings. He ran past a dozen barges and realised he had no idea which one was Evelyn's. He slowed to a walk, turned back, and peered in the windows as he passed. In the three which had any lights on, Evelyn was not to be seen.

Of course, if Ethan had gone to Evelyn's, wouldn't he have picked up the note?

Where then? He tried to think as he walked back along the towpath. As he turned off onto a side street, he realised he was near the abandoned garage where he'd killed Eyghon. Ethan might just be callous enough to use that as a base.

As he stepped into the garage's yard, he saw a flickering light within.



119.

It was cold now in the garage. Ethan's legs were going a little numb on the concrete floor and his finger was aching where the nail had yet to grow back. The warmth from the candles was quite distinct.

Was that a sound, outside? He tensed and waited. When it did not repeat, he remembered to breath.

Rupert would be here soon, though, he was sure of it. Rupert was a smart man when he was sober.

It was the waiting that was tedious. He couldn't immerse himself properly in the magic now that he was trying so hard to listen for footsteps. Perhaps he should have brought a book.

How long had he been waiting? It was night, of course, he could see that through the open door. But was it ten or midnight or two a.m.?

Another sound: footsteps with a recognisable cadence. Rupert, now, standing in the doorway, silhouetted by streetlamps. He said something, but Ethan couldn't take in what. He didn't have to. The question would be: How do I cancel the spell? Or: Why did you do this? Or: Did you think I wouldn't find you? Did you think I couldn't tell?

It didn't really matter what the question was, of course.

"No," Ethan said.





120.

There was a narrow sink along one wall of the garage; the tap was rusty but Rupert got it to turn. He sluiced the blood from his hands and rinsed the sweat from his face. He put his glasses back on.

Ethan lay on the floor on the other side of the room, breathing heavily. It had taken longer than Rupert had expected and he'd had to break several bones. It had felt good to do the right thing.

Now he would have to go and find Stockton and tell him what he'd learnt: the spell was inflicted with a tiny spot of paint applied to the skin. All one had to do was find the spot and remove it. The caster had been an estranged housemate, one Ethan Rayne. The Council should open a file on him, if they hadn't already. Their contact number would need to be changed.

Rupert dried his hands on a corner of his shirt and walked over to Ethan. "I could call you an ambulance."

"No," said Ethan, weakly. He'd said that a lot in the last quarter-hour.

"Your friend's moored along the canal," Rupert told him. "You might be able to make it there."

Outside, he paused briefly at the spot where Eyghon had been killed. It seemed strange now, that he had ever been there or done that. He could still feel in his hands how the bicycle handlebar had felt when it crushed into the demon's skull. The memory made him uneasy and queasy.

He should hurry home. There were people that he had to rescue.



121.

Ethan waited for the worst of the pain to subside. Eventually, he knew, it would dull to a throb, though he would still have to be careful of his ribs. But he already felt clearer in his mind and heart.

He should be able to walk to Evelyn's, he thinks, if he takes it slowly. She'll take him in for a little while.

She owes him a favour, after all.




Tomorrow I'll make the last post. Thanks to everyone who's still reading.
From:
Anonymous( )Anonymous This account has disabled anonymous posting.
OpenID( )OpenID You can comment on this post while signed in with an account from many other sites, once you have confirmed your email address. Sign in using OpenID.
User
Account name:
Password:
If you don't have an account you can create one now.
Subject:
HTML doesn't work in the subject.

Message:

 
Notice: This account is set to log the IP addresses of everyone who comments.
Links will be displayed as unclickable URLs to help prevent spam.

Profile

indri: (Default)
indri

March 2013

S M T W T F S
     12
3456789
10111213141516
17181920212223
24252627282930
31      

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Sep. 23rd, 2017 12:08 am
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios