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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.


Ethan unlocked the gates to the park with a wave of a candle. He thought there might be a good site near the zoo. He wanted a place where they wouldn't be disturbed but which was close to an exit, where they could lie flat and still be comfortable. It was good weather for a night's outing, warm but not too humid. There was a thin layer of cloud that the moon shone through and occasionally escaped.

The site he'd thought of was indeed as he remembered, but tonight it was downwind of the zoo. It would do, but he still had half an hour to find a better one. He headed south, roughly parallel with the fence, crossing cricket lawns and walking paths as he went.

He found what he was looking for near a children's playground: a grassy expanse in a slight dip of the ground. He tested it out by lying on his back, and it proved neither too damp nor too stony.

He'd spent the evening packing for the trip, not that he had many belongings to pack: just clothes and magical gear stuffed into his duffle. Half of the time it took was spent on the first floor landing, picking out an M&S bag's worth of paperbacks. Then he'd stood in the last of the evening light, looking at what was left in his room. He'd decided to leave his trunk behind as too cumbersome, and he'd have to work out with Randall and Diedre which mattress they should take, or whether they should take more than one. That was pretty much it, really.

Then he'd sat and drafted a letter to Mr Grey, carefully thanking him for the opportunity for work, but explaining that he was setting off travelling and would be difficult to reach for some months at least. He wished Mr Grey luck in finding another London associate.

He didn't post it, of course: despite his enthusiasm, he was aware that before they left Diedre would have to deal with Tom, a task she'd been putting off for a long time now. He really hoped it would only be a day or two. If she really couldn't face it, she could leave him a note and they could just leave when he was out of the house.

Randall had said they'd be going to Cambridgeshire first, where he had quite a large number of friends, followed by a trip in the direction of Ely and the fens. Ethan had seen a copy of The AA Touring Guide to England somewhere in the house, if only he could remember where. If he could find it, he could start to read about the places they were likely to visit.

Evelyn would know of interesting places. He should send a couple of letters to the post offices where she sometimes picked up mail.

So it was "Farewell, London" tonight. He wanted to do something a bit special and he'd be damned if was going to cast any major spells in the house while the unwelcome visitors were still up in the attic. They would start as they meant to go on, with just Randall and Diedre and himself tonight. It was time for him to go and meet them at the gate.

When he did step out of the park, he did not like what he saw.


Rupert got Adrienne home and into her bed. He lit candles in her room as the electricity was still off, and made her a cup of tea and some toast and jam. He couldn't run her a bath because one of the Germans was using the bathroom, so he went instead to Diedre to ask her advice. She came downstairs with him, bringing a large coffee-table book which she placed in Adrienne's lap. It seemed to be a book of trees.

"Breathe deeply and look at the trees," Diedre said, as she took a seat next to the bed. "Look, a Japanese Red Maple. A Japanese Red Maple in the autumn, scarlet leaves against a blue sky. Breathe, Adrienne."

Adrienne rubbed at her face and managed a ragged breath. "I've just been so tired."

"I don't think anyone's got much sleep lately," Rupert said, standing in the doorway.

Diedre turned a page. "Cypress trees. Cypress trees in an Italian garden. With a fishpond!"

Adrienne took another breath. "I have the passports now. Someone will be around to take them tomorrow. It will all be over tomorrow. I'm so sorry I--" and then the rest was unintelligible as she wept into her sleeve.

Diedre leant over to hold her and Rupert suddenly felt that he was surplus to requirements. He stepped out into the kitchen and made himself a bite to eat on the gas stove. It was awkward, with the lights off, having to hunt around the cupboards with a candle for tins of edible food. And there was something not quite right about the house -- it was the sounds. He could hear his footsteps, the screech and thump of the waterpipes, and Diedre's soft tones from the next room. He almost fancied he could hear the restless Germans, all the way up in the attic, pacing their room. But the kitchen radio wasn't playing and there was no music from Randall's room and no voices from the television in the attic. He was so used to these sounds that the silence felt eerie.

He took some of the heated pork and beans through to Diedre and Adrienne. Adrienne was sleeping now, so they left the bowl next to her and shut the door behind them. Rupert and Diedre sat together in the kitchen, eating their dinners in near-silence.

"She'll be all right in the morning," Diedre said. "And then the Germans will go and she'll be able to have a proper holiday and rest up."

"It'll be good to get the bathroom and the attic back."

"I'll say," said Diedre. "Good thing we'll be distracted tonight."

Rupert looked at her inquiringly.

"Spellcasting," she said. "But outside, because Ethan doesn't want to be casting that sort of thing in the house while they're here."

"Where outside?"

"In the park," said Randall, as he came into the room. He went to the stove and poked the remains of the pork and beans with a spoon. "Want to come?"

"Sure," Rupert said.

"We should invite Stan too," said Diedre. "Would you mind going to ask him?"

So Rupert walked out of the house, around to the front and to the entrance to Stan's basement flat. Stan was in, sitting on an armchair, with a paraffin lamp on the table next to him. He was reading a book.

"Tell Ethan that I don't want any fucking thing to do with him while he's having a fucking snit."

"I might paraphrase," said Rupert. "What's he done now?"

"I've just had enough of him," said Stan. "He's a mean-spirited tit. I don't know why any of the rest of you put up with him. Also, I'm getting married."

"Oh! Congratulations! You both must be very happy."

"See?" said Stan. "You know the right thing to say because you are not a mean-spirited tit. You really need to find someone else, mate."

"Um," said Rupert.

"You should go and ask Philip if he wants to join the spell," said Stan. "He was looking forward to it last night. He got the tatt and everything."

"All right," said Rupert. "Which flat is his again?"

Philip had the basement flat in the house across the road. He answered the door in his pyjamas, and Rupert realised that it was quite possibly after eleven, which was rather late for the sort of people who worked in offices and had ordinary kinds of day jobs.

Philip looked a bit disturbed to find him on his doorstep, until Rupert explained about the spell.

"I would absolutely love to join you," Philip said. "Just let me get dressed."

Rupert sat in the living room and waited. The room had actual carpet. There wasn't much furniture, all cheap stuff and brand new: a sofa, a coffee table and a television. The olive-coloured walls had crushed and cut white tissue paper hung from the wall as a decoration.

"Ready," said Philip, after five minutes of the sounds of cupboards and drawers opening and closing. He was in jeans and a fringed denim jacket. "Will it go late?"

"Very," said Rupert.

"I might have to ring in sick then," said Philip, which reminded Rupert that he'd missed his rehearsal with The Grins. At his rate, he was going to lose both his jobs.

"Will the spell hurt at all?" was Philip's next question, as he locked the front door behind them.

"No," said Rupert, slightly baffled, but then he said, "Ah, apart from the bit where you cut your hand."

"Diedre said there wasn't anything, you know, dirty about it."

Again, Rupert had to think for a bit before he worked out what Philip meant. "No, it's not that sort of spell at all." In case Philip was interested, he said, "But I think Ethan knows some people into that sort of thing."

There was a small group waiting for them in the squat's back garden: Diedre, Tom and Randall. Rupert and Philip joined them, and then they set off to look for Ethan.

"We're meeting him at a park gate," Randall said. "I'll show you which one."

"Did anyone remember to feed the Germans?" Tom asked.

No-one had.

"They'll have leftovers from last night," Diedre said.

"They'll be gone tomorrow," said Rupert. "Everything will be all right then."


Ethan laid out the spell, but he was very, very unhappy. Why wasn't it just Randall, Diedre and himself? Tom he could understand, perhaps, but who the hell had invited Ripper? And he couldn't even remember the name of the chap from next door.

"I should cancel this," he said to Diedre.

"No! Don't!" said Diedre. "Randall's really been looking forward to it."

Randall was sitting next to her, looking very, very tired. Everyone looked tired.

"You look trashed," Ethan told Randall, as he laid out the altar cloth.

"Time to go to sleep," said Randall.

"Not yet," said Rupert. "I go first in this, remember?"

Why was Rupert here? Had Ethan not made it perfectly clear that he wanted nothing more to do with that man? Actually, it was possible that he hadn't; he was not unaware that sometimes he thought things very loudly in his head but forgot to say them. If he'd actually said that out loud in front of Randall, then Randall would have made sure that Rupert wasn't there. That was the sort of man Randall was.

Ethan tried to focus on the thought of the van trip. They could take turns driving. Or perhaps Randall and Diedre could drive while Ethan sat in the back, practising smaller magics. Or if Randall was driving, then Diedre would be a very welcome captive audience and trainee. It was really about time he took control of her training, as she lacked the willpower to stick to anything herself. He laid out the candles.

The next-door-neighbour was clearly trying to manoeuvre his way next to Diedre. That was a laugh - was he going to squeeze in between her and Tom, or her and Randall? And he didn't seem very keen on sitting next to Ethan.

"Does anyone have something to drink?" the next-door-neighbour asked. There was a bit of an embarrassed murmur, as no-one had remembered to bring any drink at all. Rupert had his hip flask, which he passed around, but everyone was stone-cold sober.

Diedre was in some sort of dress tonight with lace sleeves. Randall had changed into one of his lower-key outfits. Rupert was in his stupid fucking jacket although it was warm enough for shirtsleeves.

Outdoors, he couldn't mark out the circle in chalk, so he used sand, pouring a thin stream from a bag around them all. He asked Randall to finish off the circle around Rupert as he didn't want to get that close, especially when Rupert opened his jacket and shirt in readiness for the spell.

"No," said Ethan, suddenly. "Randall first." Rupert last. He didn't want to lay his hand on him. In fact, he'd end the spell before it was Rupert's turn.

Diedre poured the sand around Randall. Ethan turned his attention to the new boy. "You can't play if you don't know the chant."

"Dee taught it to me yesterday," New Boy said. He repeated it passably enough.

"You do realise we're summoning a demon?" Ethan said. "Make a mistake and we'll all be fucked over."

He looked around the circle then and saw that everyone looked about ready. They were all sitting on the grass, looking pale and washed-out in the moonlight, with trees silhouetted behind. Randall still looked like he was falling asleep.

"Wake up," said Ethan, poking him with a foot, and Randall smiled.

They cast the spell. And then everything went horribly wrong.
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March 2013


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