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In the End

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THEY’RE EXACTLY WHERE THEY ALWAYS SEEM TO BE. A mess of tangled limbs on a beaten-down couch. A spring pokes out from one of the cushions under Randall’s back and stabs him, hard, in the base of his spine...though, not as hard as Ripper’s dick as he moves his hips against Randall’s, through their trousers, working up a sweat just teasing each other while they wait for the other’s to show up at the old, abandoned warehouse that doubles as their “club” of sorts. The candles, salt, and ancient text have already been laid out by Ripper’s careful hands, and now those same hands are exploring every inch of Randall’s body, copping as much of a feel as he can get before they have company. They’ll be frenzied, later, pent-up on both each other and magic and Randall shivers in delight at the thought of what they’re going to do to each other when they’re not waiting for an inevitable interruption.

Then Ripper bites his shoulder and draws a different kind of shiver from him.

“Easy…” Randall protested, as Ripper’s hands slide down his stomach, under his shirt, and threaten to start undoing his belt. “I’m sure they’ll be here, soon.”

“Taking too fucking long…” Ripper mumbles, his face still pressed down into Randall’s shoulder, his tongue lapping at the mark he’d left with his teeth. “I could have had you twice by now.”

“It’s cute that you think I’d let you strip me down on this couch…”

“It’s cute that you think you could have stopped me.” Ripper retorted, but his hands venture back up from Randall’s belt, admitting defeat. He pulled his hands out from under Randall’s shirt, grinning at the whine that earned him, and leaned down to press another, fierce kiss to Randall’s mouth. He slipped his tongue against Randall’s, drawing another moan from him, and seemed to be debating having another go at his belt to see if Randall’s will-power was as resolute as he liked to say it was…

And, of course, that was when the others arrived.

Deidre and Philip came pushing through, first, the latter of the two making a face at the sight of them tangled up together. Deidre, however, was all business and grabbed one of the texts, anxiously reviewing like they hadn’t been doing this for a year, already.

Randall started to try and sit up, trying to right his clothes and cover the newly forming hickies that Ripper had left in patterns of red against his skin, but Ripper was having none of that and pushed him back down, not interested in getting up - in a different way than he already was - until everyone had come through the door.

“Are you ever not on top of him?” Philip asked, plopping down on the floor next to the couch since they were taking up most of it. He shot Ripper a disparaging look but was met only with a cheeky grin. “Seriously, give the poor boy some time to breathe.”

“Just because you don’t get any.” Randall muttered, at the same time that Ripper said, “Fuck off.”

Thomas and Ethan came breezing through the door, next, with Thomas taking the lead and dropping down next to D, and Ethan casting a withering look at the two of them tangled up together on the couch.

Ripper leaned in and gave Randall one last, quick kiss before finally pulling back away from him and giving him space to pull himself back together. (And, of course, Randall cast an aggravated look at Ripper, who wore his messy hair and slightly askew jacket like it was a new fashion statement. He never looked proper ravaged, not like Randall did. He’d kill to see Ripper off-balance, even a little...but it’d never happen. Not in front of the lot of them.)

“Right, then. Now that we’re all here…”

Randall leaned back into the corner of the couch, watching as Ripper took his natural role of the leader, his voice shifting from husky with want to cool and commanding. The sort of tone that brooked no argument. It was almost eerie how he was able to shift like that. Flipped like a switch with no traces of what he had been feeling left behind.

“Whose turn is it?” Deidre asked, looking away from the text she was pouring over.

All eyes are Ripper, now. He’s the one who always decides. Usually without any obvious rhyme or reason.

“Randall’s.” Ripper said, without missing a beat, leaning over to grab Randall by the shoulder of his shirt and pulling him out of the corner of the couch and closer to him, again. “Everyone else... go get in the circle.”

There was some light grumbling from everyone that hadn’t been chosen, and Randall’s dark eyes flashed to Ripper’s cooler blue-greens.

“Me?” He asks, under his breath, chewing nervously on his bottom lip.

“You,” Ripper said, again, obviously not interested in sharing his reasoning. He leaned over and pressed a sloppy kiss to Randall’s cheek, instead, the kind that’s meant to make him turn red with embarrassment. “Get over there. Lie down, and try not to think too much about my cock, yeah?”

Oh, yeah. He’s bright red.

Grumbling under his breath, he clambered off the couch and rose to his feet, stretching and eyeing the cold patch of floor that he’s going to be lying on with an expression of distaste. He knows he won’t even be able to feel it after a few minutes of chanting, but it’s still uncomfortable for those few minutes.

He glances over at Ripper, one last time, shooting him a nervous little smile. He’s never been as...excited about this or as confident as the rest of them. It’s not that he doesn’t enjoy it, it’s just that...he’s a nervous wreck at the best of times and having a demon inhabiting him isn’t a soothing effect.

Ripper rises from the couch, too, moving to step past him but pauses, midway, and grabs him by the back of his neck, pulling him into one last, fierce kiss.

“You’ll be fine.” He says, a bright grin on his face. “See you on the other side, yeah?”

 

***

 

The ground is cold.

It permeates even through his jacket and shirt and he shivers, staring up at the ceiling.

“Close your eyes.”

He doesn’t know who tells him to. He just does it, counting back from twenty as the chanting starts. He keeps his eyes shut and his body still. Just letting himself drift away on the words. Falling deeper and deeper inside of himself, not quite unconscious...more like he’s shifted sideways, making room for the demon.

He can’t feel the floor under his back, anymore, but the air is still cold.

 

***

 

It comes to him in flashes.

You don’t see anything that happens when Eyghon has control of you. It’s like floating, confusing images racing through his minds. Things that happened in the past, things that hadn’t happened yet. He’s everywhere and nowhere all at once. Infinite and unbound by any earthly limitations. It feels like God.

It’s amazing.

 

 

***

 

It hurts.

It doesn’t usually hurt. It doesn’t usually feel like anything but euphoria and power so strong that he can taste it. But this time, it’s agonizing.

The visions stop. He can see, but he’s not back in his body. It’s like he’s standing on the outside of it, watching as the world goes to shit. Somehow Eyghon - wrapped in his body - had breached the salt circle that kept him contained and sent the warehouse into chaos. With a wave of his hand, the couch flew across the room, knocking over Philip and Thomas in one blow and the burning candles skittered across the floor, flames burning impossibly high.

“KEEP FUCKING CHANTING.”

Ripper’s shout is powerful and terrible. His nose is bleeding like someone - Randall? - hit him, but he’s standing closer than the rest of them, refusing to back down, and resuming chanting the Latin exorcism spell, holding out his hands like he might try and grab Randall but keeping his distance from the demon that’s now inhabiting his body. He doesn’t look away from Randall, even as he reaches to grab Ethan by the shirt before he can run away, throwing him back on the floor in front of the text that he’s supposed to be chanting.

Fire’s catching. Spreading through the room on Eyghon’s energy alone.

The chanting gets louder and the pain gets worse.

Eyghon - in Randall’s body - stumbles.

Someone’s saying different words. The wrong ones. He can hear it, even if he can’t understand it. Someone’s saying something different and it hurts.

His vision is fading out.

He can feel his body, again, but it’s heavy. Too heavy to stand. He falls.

And he doesn’t get back up.

 

***

 

The warehouse was eerily quiet in the aftermath.

Or maybe it was just that the ringing in Ripper’s ears was louder than the whimpers of pain from Deirdre who was nursing badly burned arms, or the groans from Philip and Thomas as they stirred against the floor. He scrambled, himself, to where Randall had fallen, breathing heavily and bracing himself to have to soothe a panicked, hurting boy…

But Randall didn't move when he touched him.

“...Randy? Oi, mate, c’mon.”

He shook his shoulder and Randall just flopped, lifelessly.

Terror suddenly overcame the pained exhaustion. Ripper scrambles closer, turning Randall over and biting his own tongue against the scream that rose in his throat. Randall’s eyes were open but lifeless, misted over and unseeing, reflecting the dim lights of the warehouse. Ripper grabbed his wrist, pressing his fingers painfully hard into Randall’s rapidly cooling skin, feeling for a pulse. It has to be there. It has to be there. He’s fine. He’s fine. He -

Ripper couldn't feel anything. No heartbeat.

“Oh god.”

His voice didn't sound like his own voice, anymore.

“Oh, no. No, no, no, no, no - RANDALL!”

He’s shaking him out of desperation like he can force the life back into him through force alone.

“Ripper!”

Philip’s behind him, now, his hand on his shoulder and his dark face ashen with pain. He’s bleeding from a cut on his temple and his lips are curled back in a grimace of terror as he takes in the sight of Randall’s lifeless body.

“Randall, oh fuck. Oh, no. No, don’t - please! Please, Randall, wake up.”

“Stop - stop shaking him! He’s dead, mate, alright? We gotta go.”

Ripper looked back. The others - all three of them - they’d already run. He hadn't even heard them leave. They’d taken one look at Randall’s body and taken off, the fucking cowards.

“I’m not leaving him.”

Ripper stopped shaking him but pulled him into his lap. Holding him there. Frozen, uncertain. Looking down into Randall's slackened face and wiping the blood that trickled down from his nose during the possession away with the sleeve of his jacket.

“You can’t stay here! You’re cradling a corpse, mate!” Philip snapped, shoving Ripper, who rounded on him with a wild, unhinged look in his eyes, still clutching Randall like a doll to his body, stiffening at the word ‘corpse’. How fast they all turned on each other...he always knew it would happen, but not like this. Never like this.

“Then you get the fuck away from us! Run like the rest of them, you craven, gutless worm!”

Ripper swung at him, awkwardly, trying to both land the blow and keep from jostling Randall - his boy, his bright-eyed, hopelessly inept boy - where he’s lying in his lap. Philip skitters back, trying to avoid being hit, and raises his hands in a gesture of surrender.

“...There’s nothing we can do, mate. He’s dead and we’re surrounded by candles and ancient texts about demon raising. What do you wanna do? You wanna carry him somewhere else? How? Someone’s going to see us holding a dead body. What the fuck do you want to do?”

Ripper shifted against the floor, grabbing a leaflet of text and flipping it over to the blank side, grabbing Deidre’s discarded pencil from her note-taking and writing a number, shoving it at Philip.

“Call this. Tell him where I am.”

“...Tell who?” Philip asked, taking the number with shaking hands.

“...My father. You tell him where I am, and he’ll come to figure this out.”

“Are you fucking -”

“JUST. FUCKING. DO. IT.”

Ripper grabbed a candle and chucked it at him before bowing his head back down and smoothing Randall’s hair back from his eyes with trembling hands.

This is all his fault.

If he hadn’t -- if he’d -- Randall could still be…

 


 

 

"FATHER, NO! DON'T TOUCH HIM!"

Giles wakes up with a violent jerk that sends books and papers flying from his desk. An empty teacup tumbles to the floor and shatters. He sits back in his chair, his heart pounding in his ears, sweat pooling at the small of his back and dripping from his hairline. Tears stream freely from his eyes as he rubs them with both fists, a futile attempt to wipe away the horrible visions from the nightmare.

He has apparently fallen asleep at his desk again. Giles pats around in the chaos of remaining books and papers on his desk for his glasses. He finds them, puts them on, and surveys the damage.

With a shuddering sigh, he sinks to his knees to pick up the scattered papers and books and manages not to cut himself as he retrieves the shards of China cup and deposits them in the rubbish bin.

The path is now clear to his liquor cabinet, and he makes a beeline across his flat in Sunnydale to fetch the good scotch from its hiding place behind the vodka. He pours himself a generous three fingers and swallows it down in a single gulp. It is a terrible waste of fine sipping scotch, but at least it stops his hands from trembling. He refills his glass and slumps down in the middle of his couch.

Randall.

Good Lord, he hasn't thought about Randall in years...

He forces himself to sip, not gulp, his drink. His tolerance for alcohol has dwindled greatly in the past twenty-odd years, and he has plans to meet with Buffy for training at the library before classes begin. A hangover would never do.

Still.

Randall bloody Evans.

Giles rises from the couch and downs the rest of the scotch, leaving the glass on the coffee table to be dealt with in the morning. He races up the stairs to his bedroom, kneels at the side of his bed, and pulls out an old-fashioned, hard-sided suitcase. He unlocks the latch and digs through the assorted memorabilia piled haphazardly inside until he retrieves a small, velvet box. Giles sits on the side of his bed and holds onto the box for a very long time before he can bring himself to open it.

Inside is a simple silver cross on a silver chain. He'd had the chain repaired after his father had ripped it off of Randall's throat, and then stashed it away, out of sight, out of mind.

For the first time in decades, Giles touches the cross. A sob tears from his chest before he can bring himself back under control. Swallowing hard, he fastens the chain around his own neck and settles the cross at the base of his throat.

A feeling not unlike peacefulness fills him. He lies down, still fully dressed, and falls into a deep, dreamless sleep.