In the back of a drawer was a pair of handcuffs.
Every few months Rupert Giles dusted his flat in Sunnydale. Not necessarily exclusively for cleanliness but also as a type of meditative activity, a way of taking stock, cleaning out both the physical and the mental clutter.
Why he kept the handcuffs, he couldn’t say. They reminded him of the evening Ethan poisoned the town with his “band candy”, thus reminding him of Ethan in general.
Ethan and Rupert always had a complicated relationship. From their beginnings in school, including their first fumblings in the shower and occasional fucks in later years, to the disastrous years of the late seventies. Ethan was the wild one, the rebel without conscience or inhibitions. That much held true for all the years. And yet, Rupert confessed to himself, while Ethan was the wild one, the potential for — and occasionally the realisation of — violence and aggression was so much stronger in Rupert. When they were both in the band, Ethan was content to play the bass, while Rupert played the wild lead guitar front man, even occasionally emulating John Lennon (which he otherwise despised) by putting the guitar down and jumping down in the audience to put a nazi skinhead in the hospital. He rarely remained unscathed but never had a problem with the filth once his family name came up. Rupert despised his family, but was pragmatic enough to use it when necessary.
Could he have foreseen the end? Rupert played with the handcuffs. When Ethan discovered, how, Rupert never found out, that Pink Floyd had a bond to Eyghon the sleep-walker, that their sterile art school prog rock was underpinned by a fucking demon, they were all for stealing the demon from out under them. All of them, Randy, Feel, Dearest and the Sut and of course both Ethan and Ripper despised the artificiality and bombast of the Floyd. Their sympathies laid with the Ramones, the Pistols and Iggy Pop. It took a visit to Giles Manor and a clandestine midnight raid of the library to find the right rituals and spells and in a wild night in November 1977, they did it.
Ripper looked around the flat. Tom was still wrapped around Deirdre, Phil and Randy were spread out beside the sofa and Ethan whistled in the kitchen and a smell of coffee wafted through the air. He levered himself up from the bed and walked the few steps to the kitchen.
“Oh what a beautiful morning, oh what a beautiful day.” Ethan sang softly while the coffee machine burbled.
“We did it, Ripper,” he said. “We stole fucking Eyghon. And what a glorious fuck it was.”
They filled their cups and raised them in salute.
“To the end of fucking Floyd,” Ripper said.
“To the end progressive shit and the end of Pink Floyd and fantastic sex,” answered Ethan and they both laughed and drank and burned their tongues.
Six months. For six months it was fantastic. Rupert never even considered who their Syd Barrett might be. The sex was never better and except for the small scare when Deirdre was late, which was fixed by a quick and easy potion, they had the time of their life. Until.
“Hey Sut! Thomas Sutcliff! Wake up asshole.” Deirdre kicked Thomas in the ribs.
“You need to get up, the fucking landlord will be here in two hours.”
“Hey Ripper,” Deirdre banged on the door of the bathroom, “what did we smoke yesterday? Thomas is still out of it.”
“What?” Ripper came out of the kitchen.
“The Sut is still snoring and I can’t get him up. Feel and Randy are gone already and I need to get you out of here.”
“On the can, where else. If he leaves the needles again, I’m gonna castrate him”
Ripper bent over the still sleeping Thomas and lifted a lid.
“Fuck”, he said.
“The fucking sleepwalker hasn’t left. We must have messed up the banishment.”
Ripper banged on the toilet door. “Ethan get out, we need to get the Sut to our place.”
“Wha?” came the slurred reply through the closed door.
“We need to get the sleepwalker to fuck off and I don’t have the supplies here.”
They manoeuvred the unconscious Sut to Ethan’s car, brought him over to the flat they shared and with an emergency ritual they got Eyghon banished.
For two days. Until the next party.
After that disaster they took it seriously and prepared a full ritual banishment. It took them two weeks to get everything ready. And they did get him banished. Randall paid the price though. When they threw Eyghon of the plane, he took Randall with him. Ethan took the lead then, he drove the empty body to Randall’s flat and stuck the needle in, cleaned out all the demonic remains and closed and locked the door from inside with a small cantrip.
In the evening they played their gig and Ripper broke a few noses that night.
The group broke apart after that.
Deirdre went home and married a few months later, a nice and boring neighbour’s son who had a decent job as a junior stock broker.
Philip went back to Cambridge. He eventually got his Ph.D. in history and got a job as adjunct.
Thomas, the Sut, simply disappeared. A few years later he turned up again as an english teacher in Brighton.
Ethan and Ripper continued with the band for a while longer. The sex was still good, there were still groupies to be had and Ethan and Ripper fit together almost as well as before. And yet.
Rupert threw himself into brawls, his entry into mosh pits usually ended with bloody noses and bruised ribs, while Ethan went out and made deals for things Rupert didn’t really want to know. It came to a head late in 78. Cleaning up was mostly Rupert’s job. He was the one who couldn’t stand the mess after a certain threshold was reached and thus he was the one the chore fell to. On a dreary November Tuesday he came across a stack of notes that froze him.
“You took fucking money from fucking Thatcher to place a curse on Callaghan?”
“Sure. Netted a few quid.”
“Well a few more. I’ve got expensive tastes”
“You used a fucking blood curse.”
“Sure. Needed a way trough the protections.”
“Selling blood curses. You’ve been doing this a while, didn’t you? Since 75, right?”
“Actually, no.” Ethan was still unperturbed. “I stumbled upon the guy during the bit of fun in Leeds, but I didn’t give him no heed until we needed the power to get Eyghon. A bit of a geas and he delivered well.”
Ethan looked completely unperturbed.
Rupert’s voice went very quiet.
“Eyghon and ultimately Randall is on all of us, that’s true. But for money? For fucking money?”
Ethan shrugged. “It’s a marketable skill.”
“This stops now, Ethan. Now. We throw the guy to the coppers and you get out of that racket.”
“No.” Ethan smiled. “You don’t get to tell me that, Ripper. You took the power and never asked. You don’t get to ride the high horse.”
Ethan didn’t see the fist coming. Nor did he see the elbow that broke his jaw. He was unconscious for the kicks that broke his ribs.
Rupert left him lying on the floor, packed a few personal things that he didn’t want to lose and his books, destroyed anything that might be used against him, cleaned out the trash and left. He didn’t see Ethan again until that second year in Sunnydale.
He put the handcuffs back into the drawer and closed it quietly.