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As he begins to raise his voice
You lower yours and grant him one last choice
Drive until you lose the road
Or break with the ones you've followed
He will do one of two things
He will admit to everything
Or he'll say he's just not the same
And you'll begin to wonder why you came
-How to Save a Life, The Fray

        “The others barely speak to me—”

        “You’re not speaking to them!” Ethan cried, exhausted. It seemed all they ever did was squabble anymore, and his patience for it was waning. He paced the length of their tiny flat, fingering the icon of Janus on a leather cord around his neck.

        Rupert hung his head miserably, sitting utterly still in contrast with Ethan’s manic energy. “They won’t look at the man responsible for killing Randall.”

        “Ripper, no one thinks that,” Ethan sighed, massaging his temple. "You withdrew, you moved out, there isn’t a waking moment where you’re not drunk or high or both. And your magic—“

        “Fuck my magic!” he snarled, glaring at Ethan. “Randall is dead, the rest of us are falling apart. That’s magic’s fault.”

        “If it weren’t for your magic, Eyghon would have killed us. We all fucked up,” Ethan insisted, grabbing Ripper by the collar and forcing him to return his gaze. “You saved us.”

        There was a look of revulsion on Rupert’s face, though Ethan suspected it wasn’t intended for him.

        “Maybe for now,” Rupert said, his voice barely more than a whisper as he yanked himself out of Ethan’s grip. “But sooner or later, we’ll pay for what we’ve done.”

        Ethan shook off the goosebumps threatening his neck. Rupert looked away, then stood up, crossing to pick up a bottle of scotch on the floor next to the mattress. He took a swig from the bottle, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand. Ethan walked up to him, taking the bottle out of his hand and sitting it back on the floor.

        “Hey!” Ripper protested, pushing Ethan out of the way to reclaim the scotch. Not hard, but not playfully either.

        “You’ve got to slow down,” Ethan warned him. “Wrecking your liver won’t change anything that’s happened.”

        “No,” said Rupert bitterly, “but it can make me forget about it for a while.”

        “I think we both know that’s not true.”

        Ethan made to slip past him in the small space between the mattress and the wall. His arse grazed Rupert’s groin, not intentionally, but he didn’t exactly avoid it, either. As he moved away, a hand shot out and grabbed Ethan’s wrist. Ripper pulled Ethan back so that they were facing each other, pressing their bodies together and locking eyes with him. Rupert’s energy danced over Ethan’s skin; less focused now, moving in seemingly random patterns, but still present. Rupert’s fingers tugged tentatively at Ethan’s shirt, the silence between them heavy. Ethan hardened his stare, but with a smirk just beneath the surface, daring Rupert to push further.

        Ripper grasped Ethan’s other wrist and held them together, a devilish grin breaking out across his face-- the only kind of smile he wore anymore. Ethan struggled to escape his grip, which only seemed to encourage Ripper, who dragged Ethan to the mattress below them and pinned him down with a bruising kiss. Stubble scratched Ethan’s face as Ripper worked at his belt. Soon the belt was being looped around Ethan’s wrists above his head, followed by his trousers and underwear being pulled down around his ankles. Ripper loomed over him for a moment before undoing his own zipper. After a brief pause to lubricate himself, he returned to align his cock against Ethan’s entrance, pushing in without warning or preamble. The sudden intrusion made Ethan wince, but he strived to maintain as neutral an expression as possible. He knew this game. Ripper, having lost all sense of control when Eyghon claimed Randall’s life, now craved control in whatever arena he could guarantee it. Any rebellion from Ethan was seen as a challenge, and just made Ripper more aggressive in claiming dominance. So on they stubbornly went.

        Ripper pulled out almost entirely then slammed back into him, the pressure point inside Ethan tingling with pleasure. He repeated the action, picking up speed with unrelenting thrusts. Ripper’s hand found its way around Ethan’s throat, his thumb pushing against the major artery and sending shocks into Ethan’s spine. The thrusts continued to grow in intensity, and with them Ripper’s fingers became looser then tighter as he moved back and forth. His windpipe was being constricted enough now to make Ethan lightheaded as he tried to draw breath. It was a daring kind of freedom, comparable to the feeling of being possessed by Eyghon, but at least with this he could probably decide when he’d had enough. As the edges of his vision blurred, a moment of panic threatened Ethan as he tried with bound wrists to pull Ripper’s fingers away and felt them tighten in response. Looking up, he saw Ripper’s eyes were closed as he fucked him; what he was avoiding looking at, Ethan didn’t know.

        “Rip--” he wheezed.

        Ripper didn’t relent. The world began to darken as Ethan struggled for breath against the lightning storm brewing in his throat. Ripper pistoned in and out of him at an incredible speed, finally thrusting deep into Ethan and coming with a shout. The world came back into focus as Ripper slowly released his grip.

        He breathed in great, gulping gasps as Ripper rolled off of him and unbound his hands. Ethan rubbed at his neck, where he was sure bruises would soon form. It wasn’t so long ago that Rupert felt horrified at accidentally marking him in this way; now he seemed to see it as a trophy.

       Ethan stared at Ripper’s backside as he stood up from the mattress and began pulling up his jeans.

        “Seriously?" Ethan croaked, his throat raw from the frenzied magic, whether Rupert had intended to use it or not. His pants were still down, his cock woefully unserviced as Ripper made his way toward the front door without a second glance at Ethan.

        “I’ve got a gig,” Ripper told him shortly as he pulled a leather jacket over his t-shirt. He opened the door and exited, leaving Ethan behind.