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1.

With Eyghon––Randall’s––head swept clean off his neck, Ripper let his sword clatter to the floor. It wasn’t as though he could hold it any longer–the weapon had served its horrible purpose and his hands were shaking like a junkie coming down from a high. Wide green eyes wildly searched the room – Deirdre was crying into Phillip’s arms (they have time, they had time) – and found Ethan across from him with such a blank look in his face like he still couldn’t quite believe what just happened.

Ripper cleared their distance in two strides, seized Ethan by the back of his head and kissed him for the first time. (His hands stopped shaking. He realized he was crying.)

—thank fuck it wasn’t you.

(They might have time.)

2.

“Oh, give us a kiss!”

It was only a joke, a flippant remark after one too many spliffs. The next thing he know he is backed against his own bed by a lapful of Ethan Rayne who– who is kissing the fucking daylights out of him. Ethan Rayne, whom he only knew for a handful of hours. Ethan Rayne, who may be lying about what he rolled into the joints.

His lips are softer than the few blokes he’d had, and Rupert is lost in the glide of his tongue against Ethan’s pearly whites. How his nails dig half moons on his skin. Something about Ethan’s giggle when he helped himself to a handful of his bum. His breathing, pressed against his chest.

(They burn brighter.)

3.

Giles was ready to kill someone before he realized the pounding was in his head. Served him right for letting Ethan back into his life with pints of beer, shots of liquors, and questionable motive. He only had until the rest of his days to berate himself for that choice.

As springing off the bed like the exuberant youth he once was wasn’t exactly an option, the ex-Watcher chose the dignified route to roll and stand sway miserably until balance was restored. Someone was climbing up the stairs to his bedroom, though knowing Sunnydale and his rotten luck it could also be an overachieving killer demon. Giles would face death with dignity.

Ethan, wearing stealing his velvet dressing gown, walked up and kissed him soundly.

“You’re looking a lot less dead,” he said.

Giles found his voice. “I couldn’t recall necrophilia being one of the things you’re into.”

(The days are kinder.)

4.

Ethan lunged forwards and met Giles’ lips with his own. It lasted for a precious five seconds before Giles released the death grip on his hair and pushed him away, his face red. The room temperature had plummeted into what was widely considered to be a characteristic Arctic climate. Someone had dropped a precious volume (must be Xander), Buffy was catatonic, Willow had disappeared, and Cordelia had metaphorically gauged her own eyes out.

Ms. Calendar–Jenny, bless her soul, walked up to them and said something for their own ears.

“Not that I would mind an encore, boys, but we are having a situation here.”

Reset. Take two. Everybody back on your positions.

(The world is a stage.)

5.

“Don’t fall,” he warned, tortoiseshell glasses hiding what truly was reflected in his green eyes.

The easy smile and a cock of dark eyebrow said, “Never.”

The lovers kissed and parted, slaves to their own destiny.

The tragedy lies where one fell the other would follow through none of his own folly, because it was all a trap and they were playing a game they didn’t even understand the rules to.

(They were the eye of the storm.)

+1.

“Is that it, then? You’ve had enough of us now you’re just gonna leave all you please?”
“We killed Rand––”
Eyghon killed him! Not you! Not me! Not either one of us!”
“Did you forget the part where I cut his fucking head off?! Did you forget––”
“Oh, shut up! You saved us! Stop playing martyr, Rupert, and get your head out of your arse––”
“We were arrogant and stupid–”
“––and bloody brilliant, Ripper! Half your precious Council can’t do what we made up in our sleep!”
“––that is precisely why I’m going back.”

(Parallel lines never meet.)