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What the Caged Bird Feels

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Two Slayers stand guard outside the small room in which the prisoner is held; they each give Dawn a small nod of recognition as she moves past them and into the room.

The room holds a table, two chairs, and Ethan Rayne, who is, not unexpectedly, smiling happily back at her. "I rather wondered whether it would be you or Ripper who I'd see first," he says to her.

"There are orders for anything with your name on it to pass my desk immediately," Dawn says, sitting down across from Ethan. "That said, my husband has ears in many places, and I cannot claim to be able to predict his behavior when you are involved. He could be here any minute." 

"Ah yes," says Ethan. "Jealous husbands, always so inconvenient. Then again, I hear that Ripper's rather used to being the cuckold. Wears his horns proudly, does he?"

It's been years since she's seen the man, but the memories, like all of her memories of Ethan, are vivid. The feel of his palm against her bare ass, of his fingernails digging into the flesh of her side, of his cock in her mouth; these sensations which would be easily forgotten with any other man or woman persist in her memories, burned forever into her consciousness. Dawn has had no small number of sexual partners in her life, both before and since her marriage, but Ethan taught her lessons about herself that no one else had, lessons she hadn't wanted to learn, lessons that made her into the woman she is today.

It is also impossible to forget just how excruciatingly enfuriating Ethan can be.

"Why are you in Britain, Ethan?" she asks him, and she can hear her own exasperation in her voice. "We have allowed you relative free rein."

"Not free, never free," Ethan corrects. "I may be able to move through much of the globe unaccosted, but I am never free. Do you think I'm not aware of you monitoring me, following me, keeping an eye on me? I'm sorry, but being watched never was one of my kinks."

"Do you really expect just to let you go and trust you not to get into trouble?" Dawn asks. "We both know what the chances of that happening are."

"My expectations have nothing to do with it," Ethan answered. "After all, the universe has a tendency of surprising one. All I'm saying that while my cage has been a large one, it is still nonetheless a cage. 'For I must fly back to my perch and cling when I fain would be on the bough a-swing, and a pain still throbs in the old, old scars and they pulse again with a keener sting .'"

"Are you looking for sympathy from me, Ethan?" Dawn asks, making it clear just how much he is likely to find.

Ethan acts as if he offended by the very suggestions. "Of course, never," he says. "It's a disgusting thing, symptathy. And if I were interested in it, I wouldn't turn to you for it, anymore than you would turn to me. We're too alike for that."

Dawn nods. He's right, of course. It was never for sympathy that she turned to him in the past. What was it for, then? Absolution?

"I am not a tame beast, Dawn. Never that. I came to Britain for a simple reason: to force your hand."

Dawn gets up and walks around the table. "Well, you've done that." She sighs and places a hand on his shoulder. "What are we going to do with you, Ethan?"

He smiles, a smile which isn't so much happy as it is defiant. "I'm eager to find that out myself, actually," he admits.

She pushes him back against his chair so that he's looking her in the eye. "There have always been voices within the Council calling for your head," she says. "It's been possible to placate them before, but now action will have to be taken."

He grabs her wrist and pulls her down to him. "Then take it," he says, and then their lips meet.

Their mouths slide open, not having forgotten the contours of each other despite the many years since last they met, and it is only moments before Dawn and Ethan are pulling off each other's clothes, tearing them away to make room for lustful hands and mouths. He frowns when she pulls a condom from her briefcase, but allows her to sheath his penis without a word. She thrusts him back down into the chair and straddles him, but after a few thrusts he seems to get bored of just sitting there while she does all the work and pushes her up and throws her onto the table. What follows is a mad sequence of various positions, one after another: him on top, her on top, against the wall, and Dawn can't say exactly where she was or what she was doing when she comes. Soon they've both had enough, however, and they've just finished putting their clothes back on when Rupert enters the room, a cold gleam in his eye. 

"Hello, Ripper," Ethan says, and straightens his collar, even though it wasn't crooked.

"Do what you want with him, Rupert," she tells her husband as she exits the room, her voice cold and uninterested.