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All Saints' Day

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The shop is empty, of course, except for an orange flyer with three words written on the back in Ethan's strange, spiky, gothic handwriting. Ethan used to do the lettering for the band's flyers. It was all he was good for, Diedre would say, pretending to joke. He couldn't play even by punk standards, sang like a crow, was too bone-idle to move equipment. "I'm good for much more than that, love," Ethan would answer, baring his teeth in what Deirdre always mistook for a smile.

Be Seeing You. A threat, of course. Ethan says nothing that isn't, somehow, a threat.

Giles's hands are twisted into fists, ugly bundles of bone, tendons, and ire. This is how his body remembers Ethan now, as something to hit. Something that giggles at first, before it bleeds and sobs and turns Giles' rage golden and sticky-sweet as treacle.

Giles sucks on a skinned knuckle and remembers last night. Ethan had been deliciously weak, soft, and then brittle when his ribs cracked. Chocolate-covered toffee, Giles thinks with a laugh, and then hates himself a little. He smooths his fists back into hands and picks up the flyer again.

It smells of cologne. Not drenchingly, even Ethan isn't that obvious, but enough to lure and entice. Giles brings it to his nose, scents ink and cardstock overlaid with a sharp citrus like an opened grapefruit, and something dark that makes him think of jungles. Vines, steam, ants, foliage decaying underfoot but still exuding greenness. The cologne would suit Ethan, whose skin always smells of the sun though he seldom goes outdoors.

Smelled, Giles reminds himself. Went. Ethan is in the past tense. Finished and done. The simple past tense, he remembers from schoolroom grammar. The term couldn't be more laughably inapt.

He sniffs the paper again, letting the smell hit the back of his throat and rush straight to the limbic system, straight to the home of memory and desire. Dazedly, he slips the card into his pocket. He'll want it later; it will add spice to his nightly wank. Last night he stroked himself to the memory of his fists and Ethan's body. He came in a fountain, semen stinging the raw skin on his hand, and slept well afterwards.

Before leaving the shop he takes one last look around, and it's then he notices something hanging on a rack, down near the changing room.

It can't be, he tells himself with each step closer. It's impossible, he tells himself as he touches the old, scarred leather, the zipper that never worked properly after Ethan yanked it open one night, desperate to get at Giles's body. This cannot be his jacket, but if it isn't it's a perfect replica. Which is more frightening, Ethan keeping it all these years or Ethan witching another one out of thin sodding air?

It's not so strange, after all, to think of Ethan keeping it. He'd loved it even without Giles in it, used to beg to wear it and pout when Giles said no. Well, he's had years to wear it now. It might smell of him, but Giles doesn't lean in to check.

Every inch of leather holds a memory. There's a scorch mark on the sleeve where some yob threw a cigarette at him onstage. Near the collar are two indented half-moons from Ethan's teeth. They'd been in the men's toilet of a dodgy pub, and Ethan bit down to keep silent as he came. The brown stain on the lining is Ethan's blood. No, both of their bloods--Ethan had hit back that day and damn near broken Giles's nose. When they kissed afterwards they'd bled into each other's mouths.

Randall's blood must be on the jacket too, from the last time Giles wore it. But that's a memory he's used to not remembering, however hard it pushes at him.

Giles knows the jacket is an invitation. It's bespelled so strongly it almost glows. This is the costume Ethan has left for him. He can dress himself in the past, be what he's not anymore. What he is irrevocably, down in the dank sub-basement of his soul that only Ethan knows how to find. He can have himself back, for the few hours the spell will last.

He wonders, embarrassed, if the jacket even fits him anymore. He's put on a couple of stone since he was twenty. Not like Ethan, who's thinner than ever, rendered down to his beautiful bones. It was always a wonder how that frail body could hold so much magic. So much self. There was so much of Ethan that he seemed to spill over in a flood of personality. Wherever he stood was the center of the room.

When Giles puts on the jacket--if he puts on the jacket--Ethan will find him. They're not done with each other, not yet. Not this time. Hitting Ethan was never an end in itself, when they were young. It was blood magic of a sort, binding them together. Primitive, savage, unbreakable. His blood calls to Ethan's and always will.

He takes the jacket off the hanger, and puts it on.