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It hadn't been the plan. 


But there was no where else he could go.  


Something was wrong, something was happening to him, something-


The door swung open and Angel winced as Giles stared at him, with cold, cold eyes. Angel watched him stiffen, watched him go on the defensive. He wished he didn't remember what he had done to him (but he did- every second, every taunt, every broken bone). 


"I need your help," said Angel, his voice hoarse. "I know I have no right-"


Giles laughed. 


Angel looked away. 


"You need my help?" said Giles, incredulously. There was a crackle in the air, Angel caught a whiff of smoke and sulfur before he was slammed into the brick wall. Giles remained unmoved, was he imagining it? Was he truly losing his mind? The bricks cracked- it certainly felt real. 


"Enough," called Giles. Angel slumped to the ground, breathing heavily. He could still hear amusement in his voice, and then there was another at his side.


A grin spread across his face, his eyes glittered cruelly. 


"Ethan Rayne," said Angel, frowning. He looked between the two, they had been friends once, hadn't they? They had summoned a demon into the world when they were young and reckless, drunk on the power magic could provide. Giles had grown out of it, Ethan never had. Rayne was well known in their circles, many spoke of him in fear but Angel had only ever seen cheap tricks and small jobs. He swallowed, thickly. Angel could still feel the magic, feel it crackling in the air. 


It didn't feel like a cheap trick this time. 


"That's me," said Ethan, grin never leaving his face. He leaned heavily against Giles. Did everyone know that Giles still spoke to his old friend? Did they know he still consorted with chaos mages? That they had secret gatherings- Ethan narrowed his eyes, "Oh come now, do you really think Ripper is consorting with dark magic, Angelus?" He laughed, "No, no I do that enough for us both, you'll find." Ethan held his hand out and closed his fist, Angel gasped as he was dragged forward. He screamed, pain rushing through him as he was forced against the barrier that kept him from entering Giles' house. 


"Ethan," said Giles, and his voice was soft now. Angel knew what that kind of tone meant, what it said for their relationship. It was how he had spoken to Buffy, it was how she spoke about her friends, it was how Spike looked at Drusilla, it was-




"Don't fuss, Ripper," said Ethan, almost bored. "I'm just having a bit of fun." There was a shift, Angel felt the danger in the air, even as he struggled. "It's what he did to you, isn't it?" 


"It wasn't me," Angel gasped out. "It was a demon, it was-"


"Nevertheless, you still wear it's face," snapped Ethan, harshly. Angel dropped to the ground, suddenly. "But it would seem, Rupert would like to hear you out, vampire. And as this is his house, I suppose I ought to behave." 


"A rare occurrence indeed," said Giles, wryly. Ethan winked and stepped aside, Giles moved back into the house. 


Angel struggled to his feet, hovering at the edge of the doorway. "I can't-" he said, quietly, "Not unless-" 


Giles reemerged, crossbow in hand, a hard look on his face. Ethan lit up like Christmas had come early. "I'm quite aware," said Giles, coldly. "Please, come in." He pointed the crossbow at his heart, and Angel shuffled inside, carefully. His head hurt, his body hurt. 


There was dinner on the table, Angel could smell it. Wine too, he didn't ask what they had been doing, it wasn't his business. "Well, hurry up," said Ethan, impatiently. "We don't have all night." 


"Something's wrong with me," said Angel, his voice wavering. He shook his head, all he could see were the ghosts in the street, the ghosts of kills long past. "I keep seeing- I keep seeing apparitions, ghosts, I-" He broke off, a woman stepping forward. He remembered her, he had killed her, he had left her body in this very house for the amusement of it all. Angel shook his head. No- he couldn't take anymore, he couldn't-


Angel ran. 


He didn't look back. 



Giles didn't call after him, he had no desire to be on the receiving end of Angel without a soul. He frowned, watching him disappear into the dark. 


Ethan wrapped an arm around his waist. He waved his hand, the door slamming shut. "Good riddance," he muttered. "Ruined a perfectly good bottle of wine." 


Giles glanced at him, held his gaze. He hadn't expected Ethan to show up, he hadn't seen him in months. But- it had been a nice surprise. He said he wanted to spend time with those he cared about during the holidays. The old suck up, he always was good with words. Not like Giles, fumbling and stuttering. Ethan had grinned, the same grin he'd had for almost thirty years and Giles had stepped aside, let him in.


Giles was glad he had (though it never took much).


If anything had happened, if Angel had attacked, Giles knew without a shadow of a doubt that he wouldn't have needed the crossbow. Giles hadn't seen Ethan fight with his magic in a long time. They had been on even ground once, but that was a long, long time ago. Giles could only imagine what he would be like now, how far ahead he had gotten. 


"Did you see anything?" Giles asked, his voice quiet, his mind whirring. Angel could have been afflicted with any number of things, he wasn't sure he could bring himself to care. 


Not yet. 


Not until it involved Buffy.  


Ethan shook his head, "Not a thing," he said. "It did- he did feel strange though, off."


They were silent, for a moment. 


"You didn't have to do what you did," said Giles. 


Ethan rolled his eyes, "I know that, I wanted too. I've wanted too for a while." He leaned in, his breath warm against Giles' cheek. "And I think I probably will again if he ever shows up near you, Ripper." 


Giles resisted the urge to smile. 


The knowing look in Ethan's eyes told him he didn't do a very good job at it. 


"How sweet," said Giles, sarcastically.  


Ethan shrugged, "Only the best for you, Ripper." He glanced back at their meal. "Shall we?" 


Giles nodded.


There was no point wasting a good evening. 


He could deal with Angel later.