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And the Band Played On

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He was young, younger than he'd been in decades, but after the babies, even though they'd saved the babies, he felt old. It hadn't taken much to convince him to go home.

Ethan was there.

“Cheers,” he said, holding up a glass of amber liquid from the most comfortable seat in the room. “And how old are you today, dear heart?”

“I ought to bash your head in,” Ripper said, slamming the door behind him.

“And will that make it all better, Ripper?” Ethan replied as he put the glass on the table and stood, stepping away from the couch. Spreading his arms out wide, he added, “Then bash away. Mea Culpa.”

For a moment he thought he might actually hit Ethan but then he turned and slammed his fist into the wall instead. As plaster fell to the floor, Ripper fell against the wall, crying out, “They're just babies.”

Ethan looked disturbed, for a moment, before concern took over his features. Ripper resisted as Ethan took him into his arms but, knowing what Ripper needed, Ethan persisted until the boy in a man's body was crying against him.

“A bit older then you were before all this, then,” he commented as Ripper's sobs ceased.

Ripper raised his head. Ethan reached out to touch his face. Giles jerked away from him.

“To old then,” Ethan said, sadly.

“Get out.” Giles stormed to the table and slammed down the remainder of the drink. He didn't look up at Ethan again.

Ethan pulled his scarf off the coat rack and arranged it just so before gently closing the door.