A Couple Of Old Mystics
written by Adrienne

Rating: FRAO
Spoilers: A New Man rewrite.
Summary: Ethan comes back and there's gonna be mucus.
Author's Notes: This is story four in a series, illustrating the relationship between Ethan and Giles through the years.
Feedback Author: Adrienne

The Initiative was rather sloppy, Ethan thought as he watched the clean up of the battle. They had gotten the demon, but that was only to be expected considering the arsenal of weapons that had, the array of high tech devices, the apparently unlimited personnel, and one remarkably unsubtle hint from a very talented sorcerer.

Americans. Always enchanted by bright shiny toys and gadgets. And with all of their technological advantages, had any of them even noticed his presence in their midst? No. Rupert would have noticed in a heartbeat.

Well, that was a little unfair. Rupert had a preternatural knack of knowing when he was near and not only because they shared so much of each other over the years. Rupert was a powerful sorcerer in his own right. His magic would easily detect other magic, should he care to look. And when it came to his Slayer, Rupert always looked.

Speaking of which, where was the Slayer? Surely Rupert knew about this demon. The Miridian Codex was, for a book of prophecies, remarkably lucid and Rupert could calculate the dates in his head. Still, no sign of the Slayer and her little band. The Initiative was flash and professional looking, but even Buffy's comic relief had taken out more vampires than their best and brightest. Initiative they had; it was imagination that was sorely lacking.

He would not have even noticed this paramilitary organization had it not been for the whole 314 business. His conjurations had been less than successful over the last while, and only in conjuring and binding Vassago had he been able to get any information at all about it. For one of the Seventy Two under Solomon's Seal, Vassago was almost friendly.

He had been worried, so he took this little jaunt to Sunnydale to see for himself.

Now that he had seen the Initiative in action, he was even more worried. Meddlers in the magical balance were one thing; meddlers who knew nothing about magic were quite another. Quite a bit more dangerous. He loved tossing a spanner in the works perhaps more than anyone, but he also valued his own safety. Who knew what sort of damage these rank amateurs could do? And, yes, he was a bit miffed that anyone else was mucking things up. That was his vocation.

The initiative needed a project. Something to keep them busy. A bit of magic here, a little push there and they'd be running around like chickens with their heads cut off.

He backed into shadow when he heard the voices. Rupert, Xander and Willow, if he wasn't mistaken.

He listened to Rupert fuss and fume and nearly laughed. So the Slayer had put him out to pasture in favour of a strapping clean cut boy in uniform. God, Rupert looked good. He'd lost weight and the new glasses really suited him.

Rupert must be really unhappy, Ethan thought, watching Giles sit there, a picture of depression. To not even check the energy levels was a clear indication of just how out of sorts he really was.

Ah, Rupert was leaving. Good. Now it was time for a little fun. He smirked and spoke softly to himself. Making melodramatic speeches was a little silly, but quite in keeping with the evil sorcerer routine, and fun besides.

Fuck. Rupert hadn't quite left and he knew damn well that Ripper could run faster mad than he could scared. Time for some fast talking.

* * * * *

Settling down in the booth, pint in hand, Ethan studied his old friend. He hadn't heard from Rupert since the exhibition of his paintings, despite his attempts to keep in touch. Somehow, he must have done something to piss Rupert off again, to lose what fragile trust they had built.

God, why did I have to fall for such a sensitive soul? Ethan asked himself. Ripper had the hide of an elephant when it came to emotional matters, but this new and improved Rupert seemed to be as fragile as spun sugar. Then again, perhaps Ripper had always been this fragile and the thick hide was to protect himself.

Hmm. Thick hide... The Initiative and its shiny toys... No, Ethan. Bad Ethan. Then again, Ripper was already pissed off at him. Why not be hung for a sheep as for a lamb?

Ripper went off to the loo and he quickly bespelled the next round. Twenty four hours should do it, and Rupert would never tell the Slayer, thus being in no danger. From the way he was moaning and whingeing, the Slayer wouldn't even notice anyway.

He even gave an oblique warning about the spell; clumsy for him, but he was more than a little inebriated. Then again, so was Rupert.

* * * * *

Yes, the night was still their time. After getting thoroughly pickled, they made their way back to Rupert's place.

Unlocking and opening the door was an adventure in and of itself. God, it had been a long time since the simple act of opening a door was so incredibly funny. Then again, Janus was the god of doors and all that rot, wasn't he? Ethan gave a mental salute to his patron and stumbled in after Giles, who was looking extremely proud of himself for having actually unlocked the door. Good show, old man. Ethan was rather proud that he managed to make it all the way home - well, Rupert's home, but it was the same thing, really, since Rupert was home, right? - all in one piece.

Ethan paused by the desk, one hand holding firmly to the back of a chair. Never trust a room that was spinning counter clockwise - that was his motto. Rupert was slowly letting the back of the couch take his weight - it looked remarkably like he was melting - and grinning happily at him. God, he looked so beautiful, all relaxed and mellow.

Firmly ordering the room to stop spinning, or to at least spin clockwise for a change, Ethan cautiously let go of the chair and staggered over to where Rupert was weaving. Rupert backed away and Ethan pouted, hurt.

No, wait. Rupert wasn't backing away. He was merely moving to somewhere more stable. Ethan followed, until he was staring down at a rumpled Rupert, now lying down, one foot on the floor and the other propped up on the arm of the couch. There was an open, affectionate smile on his face.

"Are you going to just stand there or were you thinking of vomiting all over me?" Rupert asked.

"I think..." Ethan tried to do just that. "I think you need to be undressed. Can't go to bed like that, you know. It's immoral. Or something."

"You trying to get me naked and into bed?" Rupert asked suspiciously.

"Oh, no, no. Getting you to bed would be... wrong. Too far," Ethan protested and untied the shoe resting on the arm of the couch. "Besides, when did we ever actually need a bed?"

"Well, that time we didn't have enough dosh to pay for the gas," Rupert said thoughtfully. "We needed to go to bed then."

"Not fair. We hadn't got out of bed. Not the same thing at all," Ethan objected, leaning one hand heavily on the couch and peeling off Rupert's sock with the other. "Up with the other foot."

Rupert put his other foot up and Ethan divested it of shoe and sock as well. Feeling his way up Rupert's leg, he groped for a few minutes in his crotch before finding the zipper.

"These are really nice jeans, Ripper," he said, fumbling with the top button. "Old enough to be soft and comfy and they mould nicely to your arse. Lift up."

Ethan went to the end of the sofa and tugged at the hems of each leg. Rupert cooperated by lifting his hips. It took a couple of tries, but Ethan finally managed to pull then all the way off, falling backwards onto his butt in the process. He burst into laughter.

"You all right?" Rupert asked, shifting to peer over the end of the couch.

"I think I might have a bruise. Want to kiss it better?"

"I'm not sure I really want to kiss your arse, Rayne," Rupert replied. "What are you doing?"

Ethan was carefully folding the jeans over the back of the desk chair, patting them gently.

"They're very nice. Not tweed. Must encourage that," Ethan said importantly.

"But now I'm half naked," Rupert pointed out. Ethan wobbled around to look at him and nodded solemnly.

"So you are," Ethan replied. "I like you that way."

"I like you that way, too," Rupert assured him, reaching out a hand to paw at Ethan's still covered leg. "So why are you still dressed?"

"I've been busy," Ethan pointed out sulkily. Undoing his own trousers, he pulled them down and toppled over, right onto Rupert. "Oops."

Rupert didn't seem to mind, though, since he helped Ethan out of trousers, underpants, socks, shoes and shirt, leaving Ethan both naked and admiring of his dexterity.

"How did you do that?"

"Don't have to worry about falling over," Rupert said proudly. "I've lots of experience in getting drunk lately."

"Ah." Ethan nodded wisely. Then, with intense concentration, he undid Rupert's shirt and pulled it out from under his back. Tossing it carelessly over the back of the couch, he flopped forward to kiss Rupert, trusting Rupert to catch him.

Rupert did, but Ethan's aim was off. Instead of catching Rupert's mouth with his own, he bounced his nose on Rupert's forehead. That was okay, though, because now he was snuggled on the sofa, half on top of Rupert, with both of them naked. That was never, in and of itself, a bad turn of events.

His next attempt to kiss Rupert worked much better, since he found himself with a mouthful of eager tongue. Rupert tasted strongly of Guinness, which Ethan didn't like, but it would fade soon enough.

Ethan shifted so that their cocks could renew their close acquaintance. Rupert was getting hard underneath him and he felt his own cock stir to life. Good thing both of them had years of early training in getting aroused while exceedingly drunk. He had heard of men who couldn't get it up after excessive amounts of alcohol; obviously they hadn't practiced nearly enough in their youth.

Wet sloppy kisses, serious groping and languorous rubbing of flesh on naked flash felt so good. Ethan wasn't drunk enough and knew Rupert was too drunk to try anything else, but this was good.

"Y'know, I don't think we've ever done this before," Rupert commented, although he didn't stop moving his hips into Ethan's.

"Done what?"

"Frotting," Rupert replied, lips moving along his cheek and to his ear. "We've fucked each other and blown each other and rimmed and used toys and all that, but I don't remember ever getting off simply by rubbing against you. 'S'nice."

"It is," Ethan agreed. "Isn't frotting done with clothes on, though?"

"Don't think it matters," Rupert replied. "Give me a sec and I can look it up."

"No fucking books, Ripper," Ethan warned, pressing down harder.

"Rather fuck you, Rayne. Less chance of paper cuts in awkward places. And it would make a God awful mess of the books besides."

"Has anyone ever told you how fucking annoying you are?" Ethan inquired, then went about the serious business of making Rupert so aroused that he couldn't think up any more smart ass comments.

It didn't take much time, now that Ethan was sincerely concentrating, to get them both to the point of gasping for breath and coming hard.

"Jesus, I'm a mess," Rupert complained, as soon as he got his breath back. Ethan simply nodded.

"Well, you are one giant wet spot," he pointed out. Lifting himself off, he cast a simple sobering up spell and went to find the bathroom.

When he returned, clean but still naked and carrying a damp towel, he found Rupert passed out on the sofa. With a sigh, he set about cleaning all traces of their frolic and went to find a pair of the loosest pyjama pants he could find. Rupert would need them in the morning.

He dressed quickly and then managed to wake Rupert up sufficiently to put him to bed. Thank God Rupert slept so heavily while inebriated; he wouldn't remember this in the morning.

Tucking Rupert in, he bent to kiss him goodnight.

"Sweet dreams, Rupert. Because waking up is going to be hell."

* * * * *

Packing up took very little time. He had made his inquiries and found out all he could and in the morning, he'd be off. He had a name - Maggie Walsh - of who was behind the disruption in the demon world, and that would be worth a great deal to his particular clientele. He still didn't know what 314 was all about, but now that Rupert knew, it would be taken care of.

Of course, he should have left town this morning, but he wanted to wait until his spell had worn off. He had watched discreetly all day and had a good belly laugh at poor old Rupert. Rupert hadn't gone to his Slayer, but he did try to get help from one of the children. Not being able to communicate must have been so frustrating, poor old thing. He'd have been far better off sulking at home or beating the crap out of the Initiative soldiers.

He hadn't expected Rupert to actually find anyone who spoke Fyarl and just what was Rupert on about, to be on such friendly terms with a vampire, anyway? Still, it was rather fun to watch the news reports of a bad accident involving two hummers and a nearby Citroen.

He was just putting the last of his shirts into the case when the door crashed open.

Oh, fuck. He stared for a moment; it had been a while since he'd dealt with Fyarl demons and forgotten how big they were.

"Giles?" He tried to speak placatingly, not that it mattered. A Fyarl would rip his arms off without needing a pretext and, if Giles was still in control of himself, Giles had a perfectly good reason.

He had never been so glad to see Buffy as when she burst in as well. He glanced at the letter opener in her hand and realised it wasn't going to do any lasting harm. The spell would end in another fifteen minutes anyway and she was a sharp girl. She couldn't kill the demon with that little pointy bit of metal and a Fyarl couldn't take out the Slayer in full battle mode.

Lying quickly, knowing he could use the ensuing battle to escape, he told her that the demon had killed Giles. Her attention nicely diverted, he bolted, taking a swing at the bit of beefcake by the door.

Ethan admitted that he wasn't much of a fighter, but he could hold his own against most men his size. This one, however, was bigger than he was and, dammit, appeared to be some kind of a soldier. He couldn't break out of the hold, so he watched with a certain amusement as Buffy stuck the letter opener in Giles' chest.

And realised who he was. If he'd ever needed any confirmation that the Slayer and the Watcher were Called to one another, he now had it. He knew they were, but it hurt to watch.

* * * * *

He fiddled with the totally unnecessary ingredients, letting his excellent time sense for magic guide him to speaking complete gibberish as soon as the spell ended.

Giles was, naturally, somewhat less than pleased, but Buffy's guilt ridden fussing kept his temper in check. Really, he had to like the girl, if only for that.

He tried again to leave, since they really had no reason to hold him, and found himself taken into custody. It was totally illegal, in his opinion, but he wasn't on particularly good ground to protest it too vehemently. He'd have to get away using magic. He murmured a small spell.

He expected to be hustled into a car as soon as he was outdoors, but for some reason, there seemed to be a bit of confusion as to where they were going to take him and under whose jurisdiction he was to be held under. Janus could be very quick sometimes.

"Ethan." Oh, terrific. Now Giles wanted to talk to him, probably to gloat. Well, he liked gloating, too. He could be magnanimous.

"Yes, darling?" he said brightly, in Dutch. He knew Giles spoke it fluently and that the soldiers did not.

"You turned me into a demon. Again." Giles replied in the same language. It sounded harsher than it would have in English.

"Well, you were complaining that you were bored."

"And Buffy nearly killed me."

"With that letter opener? Do give me some credit for observation."

"Very well. I can afford to be generous since you're going to be locked up for a very long time."

"And hour is a long time?" Ethan asked, amused. "I'll be out of this before you get home and changed out of my shirt. You owe me for it, by the way."

"I'm doing you a favour. It's hideous."

"It brings out the green in your eyes," Ethan said sweetly and insincerely. "And your skin."

"You really think you'll get yourself out of this?"

"You doubt me? An hour. Two, tops."

"Not likely, Rayne."

"Care to make a wager, then? Ten quid. I'm out in two hours."

"Twenty. I'll even give you an extra half hour," Giles offered with faux sweetness.

"Done." Ethan nodded. The soldiers, having finished their argument, tugged at his arm. Ethan smiled at them and switched to English for a final taunt at Giles.

"Be seeing you."