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Transitive Nightfall of Diamonds - COMPLETE Ripper Centric

 
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D.M.
Dark Avenger


Joined: 28 Nov 2003
Posts: 382

PostPosted: Sat Sep 11, 2004 4:16 am    Post subject: Transitive Nightfall of Diamonds - COMPLETE Ripper Centric Reply with quote

TRANSITIVE NIGHTFALL OF DIAMONDS
By: D M Evans
Written for the Ripper ficathon for Malora (story requirements at the end)
Disclaimer - The characters whose names you don’t know, those are mine and I still don’t make any money off of them. The world, and major characters all belonged to Mr. Whedon was we all well know and thank you for letting us borrow them for non-profit play.
Rating - R for sexual situations and other excesses of the 1970's. (i.e. if swing sex and drug use are offensive to you, please feel free to skip)
Spoilers - zip, it’s set in the late 1970's (when exactly is up in the air since we’re never told exactly how old Giles is)
Feedback - if you’d please, I’d be so happy. Connorswhip@Yahoo.com
Summary - In the aftermath of Eyghon, Ripper and his spellcasting friends head to America after something of great magically value.
Author’s Note #1 - This story is based off of events in The Dark Age and works on the premise that Ethan, Giles and Deirdre didn’t part company immediately upon Randall’s death. It also takes place on ‘holiday’ in the States because what I know and could easily research on England in the 70's was too slim to support a story.
Author’s Note #2 - Thanks to S J for the last minute beta.
Author’s Note #3 - Studio 54 as I’m sure most of us know was a real place. Here’s a url for the curious (word of warning it has a large midi file that loads up automatically and takes forever even with a cable modem). http://www.geocities.com/~discodiva/
Sleepy Hollow Cemetery is also very real and you can find more on it here http://www.sleepyhollowcemetery.org/index.html Note also that North Tarry Town is no longer called that. It’s now called Sleepy Hollow but that didn’t happen until 1997.
The title came from The Grateful Dead’s Dark Star.

CHAPTER ONE

Rupert felt adrift, wanting to just be empty, to silence his mind and allow himself to have fun. However, all he could think of was Randall and how Eyghon shredded him from within. Worse, he suspected their exorcism spell was to blame for that. Hubris, it had been a favored downfall since humans had put stylus to clay. It had certainly laid his group of friends low.

Rupert wished he knew what he was doing in the United States. It felt like running away. Ethan called it exploring, said he had heard of a spell book that could give them incredible powers. He made the pursuit of this item sound like so much fun that Rupert couldn’t say no. They needed fun, Ethan had insisted, always looking at Rupert when he made that declaration.

For Rupert, the trip to America wasn’t about finding some damn book. It was about finding parts of himself he had shunted aside, the parts that reined in the darkness within. Nothing would bring Randall back, but maybe he could find a way to free himself from the guilt, at least enough so he could function. Rupert had begun to doubt himself, his life style, his friends.

Deirdre hung on Ethan’s arm as they walked through Central Park, gawking like tourists. None of them had been in the States before. The sheer size of the country, and the city, too, for that matter, was overwhelming. New York City, with its hoards of people, felt a little like London, comforting in its own way.

Rupert slid his arm around Gemma’s waist. She was never part of the Eyghon group, other than as one of those taking advantage of the sexual energy the possessed brought with him to the orgy. She was a good mage, but not into demon raising. For her own sake, it was a good thing, he decided. It might mean she’d be around for a little longer than foolhardy prats like Ethan and he would be. Rupert liked having her around.

“So, where are we going to find this book?” Deirdre slipped an arm around Ethan’s waist.

“I don’t know exactly.” Ethan shrugged, turning to look at a gaggle of girls in hot pants passing by.

Rupert eyed him sourly. “I thought you knew. Isn’t that why we came to the bloody States?”

“I know the grimoire’s here, but I don’t know exactly where,” Ethan admitted.

“So you dragged us here on a wing and a prayer?” Gemma arched one dark feathery eyebrow.

“More than that. I know someone who’s had contact with the current owner of the grimoire. She’s here in the city and even if it turns out to be a bust, we’re having a holiday in the States. Who can argue with that?” Ethan asked brightly.

Rupert found he couldn’t argue with that. He desperately needed a recharge. He was just lucky that the Watchers hadn’t become aware of what he, Ethan and their friends had been doing with Eyghon. They might have sent the Special Ops to deal with them, and Rupert understood the danger of that. He could only imagine his parents’ reaction should they ever find out. He didn’t want to cause his mother that kind of heartache.

“Penny for your thought,” Gemma said, giving him a hip bump.

Rupert smiled at her. She was a particularly fine looking young lady, slender with enough curves to be interesting, a long fall of walnut hair and crystalline blue eyes. Looking at her in her Bohemian, black gauze, handkerchief shirt and poppy-printed bell bottoms, Rupert didn’t really want to be wandering around in the hot sun. Home, under the covers having it off, that sounded more appealing. Gemma was pure sex on a stick.

“They’re probably deep, dark thoughts,” Ethan said. “Those are the only kinds Ripper has these days.”

Rupert heard the reproach in his friend’s voice. Things had been uncomfortably tense between them since Randall’s death. Ethan seemed almost unaffected by the death. Phillip had already left their little group, and Rupert thought he saw desperation in Deirdre’s face, like she might bolt at any time but was too afraid to let go of Ethan. “Ignore Ethan. He’s a wanker,” Rupert replied. “I was thinking about what I might like to see if we crap out on tracking down the grimoire. We could have one hell of a good holiday even if we don’t find it.”

“Really, Ripper, with the way you keep bleating on about alternatives, I’m getting the feeling you don’t want to find the grimoire.” Ethan crossed his arms, hostility leaking into his voice.

“I just know how most of your grand schemes turn out, you git,” Rupert shot back, and Gemma put a restraining hand on his chest.

“Let’s not fight. Ethan, didn’t you say your friend was having a party tonight? Maybe we ought to offer to help,“ Gemma said.

“That’s a good idea,” Deirdre added, squeezing Ethan’s hand.

The thin young mage tore his dark gaze away from Rupert. “We could do that.” He started back to where they could catch a cab.

“Does your friend know about what we do, Ethan?” Rupert asked.

“Tod knows. He’s a wanna-be. He has no talent for magic, the poor plonker. He’s the one who had the lead on where to find the grimoire.”

“Then why tell you?” Rupert gave Ethan a suspicious look.

“He thinks we can train him to be good at magic.” Ethan grinned arrogantly, ruffling his thick, dark hair.

“Especially if we use the grimoire,” Rupert filled in.

Ethan bobbed his head. “Exactly.”

“How did you find out about this guy?” Gemma asked.

“Tod has more money than brains. He came to London last year. Gemma, I don’t think you were at of any of the parties that we threw that Tod came to,” Ethan said.

“Oh, that’s why he looks so familiar. Is he that arse-licker who puked in my bed last year?” Rupert scowled. He only had a vague recollection of that time period, having had a little too much fun himself.

“That’s him.”

“Didn’t he have thick glasses?” Deirdre asked.

“He’s wearing contact now, says they’re bloody uncomfortable,” Ethan replied as he hailed the cab.

“He was a total idiot,” Rupert said, suddenly much more unhappy about Ethan’s scheme.

“A rich idiot who’s willing to pay us to help with the book,” Ethan corrected, raising a finger for emphasis.

Deirdre’s eyes gleamed. “How much?”

“Plenty.”

Rupert thought about the proposition. Money would be nice. A powerful book in the hands of idiot, however, made him very nervous. When Ethan had informed Rupert he was after the Biblio schisimo kai afaimasso, it sparked something in his memory. Before they had left England, Rupert had done research into the Biblio schisimo kai afaimasso, the Book of Tears and Blood. It was easy enough to get into the Watchers’ library since both of his parents were Watchers and he was expected to follow in their footsteps. His parents would rather die than admit he had turned into a black sheep so the Watchers didn’t know why he was delayed in joining their ranks. The Book of Tears and Blood frightened Rupert and intrigued him at the same time. The lure of its power proved stronger than his fear, which was why he agreed to come along with Ethan.

Rupert didn’t listen to anything Ethan was prattling on about during the cab ride back to the brownstone. He wasn’t saying anything important, talking more about what he hoped would happen at the party tonight than anything else. Gemma had her hand on Rupert’ thigh. There was nothing sexual about it, more like an anchor as if she sensed his mood. It wouldn’t surprise him. Gemma was certainly both bright and sensitive. Gemma shared his concerns about the book but had the same longing to see it, use it.

The brownstone loomed into view. Rupert had recognized the building as a seat of wealth both now and at least a century before. The building had a regal air that reminded him - in spite of the darkness of the stone in comparison - of the Cotswolds, only not as green and lovely. There was a certain dinginess to New York city that not even money could entirely erase. They had gotten in to Tod’s place late the night before and crashed then they left quickly to go play tourist. Rupert hadn’t really noticed his surroundings until now. There was something about the building that made him uneasy, as if it were waiting for something. Maybe he shouldn’t have listened to so many of his father’s cautionary tales as a child. They were making him skittish.

Tod was back from wherever he had been when they woke up and gladly accepted offers to help with the party. Rupert kept an eye on Ethan, not trusting him entirely now that the grimoire might be in reach, but he didn’t hear his friend talking to Tod about the book. Soon enough, the apartment became to fill up with party guests, all of them brownstone residents since Tod was throwing a ‘block party’ more or less. The men were throwing keys into a bowl by the front door.

“Is this a key party?” Ethan asked Tod, his dark eyes bright. “Ripper and I don’t have keys.”

“Just toss in a personal item,” Tod said, waving, nearly sloshing his martini everywhere. “And if there’re more ladies than men, I hope no one minds doubling up.”

“You won’t hear us complaining,” Rupert muttered as Gemma pressed a glass pipe into his hand, nodding at the brick of marijuana that Tod had laid out along with some white powder that Rupert presumed was coke.

“It’s almost all buds,” she whispered, a gleam in her blue eyes.

“Really?” Rupert looked at it more favorably. He didn’t want anything to do with coke, but he wouldn’t mind a smoke. Catching Ethan’s eye, he nodded at the spread. Ethan grinned. Rupert filled the pipe and settled in a corner with his friends. An Aerosmith record was spinning on the deck. The evening was off to a good start for helping him to shake loose the anguish of the last few weeks.
_________________
icon by Blaar Rosir
ANGEL -No, zombies are slow-moving, dimwitted things that crave human flesh.
CONNOR -like you.
ANGEL - No! It's different. Trust me


Last edited by D.M. on Sun Sep 19, 2004 4:17 am; edited 2 times in total
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D.M.
Dark Avenger


Joined: 28 Nov 2003
Posts: 382

PostPosted: Mon Sep 13, 2004 4:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

CHAPTER TWO

Rupert’s head felt like a well-used football when he woke up. Bits and pieces of the night before came filtering back. His skin felt stickier than a spill of Lyle’s Golden syrup. A rock-hard bladder forced him up out of bed. He had to move someone’s legs out of his way so he could sit up and get his bearings before trying to stand. They were Gemma’s strong, shapely legs, a sweet kiss of cinnamon tan to them. She wiggled a bit as his getting up woke her. Rupert looked at the other occupant of the king-sized bed, a ghost-pale girl, eyebrows so white they were barely visible. Her platinum hair, now a tangle, had been Farrah Fawcett feathered last night when she pulled his watch from the key jar and took him and Gemma home with her. He leaned over and gave her back side a stroke but she barely stirred. Just as well given his hangover, and how bad he had to pee.

He staggered into the bathroom to take care of his business. Rupert splashed water on his face, trying to revive himself. Thin, red threads crazed his eyes, racoon-like with purple-black from a lack of sleep. His shoulder-length swag of hair looked elf-locked. His mouth felt stuffed with rank cotton. This wasn’t his bathroom, but he felt no real guilt about going through the medicine cabinet, rooting past the prescription bottles of amphetamines to find the mouthwash. It would do until he could get home where he could shower and brush his teeth.

A soft knock sounded at the door. “Rupert, are you almost done? I have to go!”

He opened the door to trade places with Gemma. She was the only one of their group who called him by his name and he found, as hot as he had been to leave dull little Rupert behind and become Ripper, there was a part of him that warmed when he heard his name.

He stumbled about trying to find his clothing. The thin ghostly girl lifted her head off the pillow, shooting him an irritated look. He couldn’t remember her name. “Where are we in relationship to Tod’s place?”

“He’s up three floors.” She flopped back down, and covered her head with the sheet.

Rupert was rather glad of it. He didn’t really feel like making a lot of small talk. Last night was something he needed to help shake him out of his grim little post-Eyghon world, and it had done that. It put in perspective the fact that he could never escape what had happened so he needed to learn to live with it. Or maybe that was just some primo pot talking. Either way, he figured it to be good advice, and he wanted out of this apartment and not look back. He had bigger things to concentrated on, like what he and his friends could do with the grimoire when they got it.

Gemma came back out of the bathroom and took her cues from him. She dressed silently and they crept out of the apartment, slogging up the steps to Tod’s place. Rupert couldn’t escape the feeling that all the carvings in the railing, all the faces in the stained glass windows were looking at him. He wished he knew what it was that made him uneasy about the brownstone but something did. The door to Tod’s place was unlocked, and the apartment was eerily silent, reeking of alcohol, pot smoke, and sex.

They headed directly to the shower; nothing sexual about it, just two hungover young people desperately trying to get clean. After the shower and tooth brushing, Rupert felt loads better. They went into the living room, still not quite ready for breakfast. The TV was on, Ethan parked in front of it. Rupert sat on the floor in front of the couch after Gemma curled up on it. She had his brush, and started brushing out his long locks. It was a very relaxing ritual for them. Sometimes he combed her waist-length walnut hair, sometimes not depending on her moods. Her silver brush wasn’t in sight so it was a ‘not’ day.

“Deirdre alive yet?” Gemma leaned against Rupert’s shoulders, her soft breasts tantalizing him.

“She was waiting for you two to get done with the shower so she could use it,” Ethan replied. “Tod’s still snoring, last I heard.”

“What the bloody hell are you watching?” Rupert nodded at the TV.

“I think it’s a kid’s show. There’s a boy and his talking flute,” Ethan said, pointing out the two obvious characters.

Rupert snorted. “Nothing Freudian there.”

“Don’t be gross.” Gemma whacked him on the head with the brush, then squinted at the screen. “Isn’t that the kid from Oliver?”

“How the hell should I know? It’s called H.R. Pufnstuf,” Ethan said. “It’s fucking frightening.”

“I think I’ve had bad trips like this,” Rupert replied. “Find something else. The title’s giving me ideas, and I’m not sure I’m up to any more smoking just yet.”

“Demanding sot, isn’t he, Gem?” Ethan dragged up and flipped through the channels, settling on something less horrifying than a dinosaur in white cowboy boots; some cartoon about freaky kids in a van and their dog. “When you’re done making Ripper beautiful, Gem, think you can whip up some breakfast?”

“Sod off. You know where the kitchen is. Do it yourself.” Gemma eyed him evilly.

“Birds,” Ethan grumbled. “Didn’t bring them along so I could make my own meals. She’s probably all up on this ERA stuff the American birds keep chattering about.”

“Ethan, you’d better shut your gob before she shoves the brush up your ass,” Rupert said.

Ethan curled his lip at them but got up.

Rupert looked over his shoulder at his lover. “Just so you know, Gemma, I didn’t ask you along so you could fix my meals.”

She kissed the crown of his head. “I didn’t think you did. Ethan’s a pig. I should pull a Circe on him.”

Rupert laughed. “Ethan would be the world’s skinniest pig.”

Her eyes danced. “You have a point.”

“And for the record, I think the ERA is a good idea.”

“You would. You were raised by Watchers. You’re used to strong women, but I’m glad to hear it anyhow. There.” Gemma set aside the brush. “You’re beautiful...well, as beautiful as you’re going to get.” She grinned.

“I wasn’t expecting miracles.” He fluffed his hair, his one big vanity. “Thank you. Oh, mornin’ Tod,” he added, seeing his host coming into the room.

Tod collapsed in a chair. “Did you have a good time last night with Cynthia?”

“Excellent,” Rupert said, hoping that was the Speed-freak he had woken up with. “Ethan’s helping himself to the kitchen.”

“Good luck with that. I might have some stale corn flakes.” Tod laughed, rubbing a hand over his thin belly then shoved up his thick glasses. Rupert figured his eyes were burning too much for his contacts. Rupert had thought about getting contacts but putting hard pieces of plastic in his eyes scared him. “We can go out for breakfast...uh, lunch, at this point, I guess.”

“As soon as Deirdre gets out of the shower, we can go,” Gemma said.

Tod waved her off. “Forget going out. I’m too beat. I’ll just call for take out. Pizza, Chinese, or the Jewish deli down the street?”

“I’m not sure how much my stomach can take,” Gemma replied, making a face.

“The deli might be the best bet then.”

Within the half hour, they sat in the living room with hot bowls of matzo ball soup and sandwiches. Rupert concentrated on the soup. His pastrami sandwich was a little heavy for his angry stomach.

“So, Tod, Ethan’s told us a little about your plan,” Rupert said, paring off a bit of matzo with his spoon. “I’d like to hear it from you.”

Tod shoved up his glasses again, a broad smile on his face, obviously happy to expound on it. “Lily Moundalexakis, she’s the last of the Moundalexakis line. They’re the guardians of the Biblio schisimo kai afaimasso. Lily could care less about the book. I’m not sure she even gets the true significance of it. She’s more into partying all night and snorting as much nose candy as humanly possible.”

“So, how did you learn she had the grimoire?” Rupert considered what Tod had just said. He understood all too well how family obligations could suck. He felt for Lily.

“I was just getting into magic when I came over to England and met you guys. It really opened my mind up to the possibilities. I did some research, came across the book, and realized I didn’t live that far from the owners.” Tod swept a hand over to Ethan, bouncing in his seat. “That’s when I contacted Ethan for help.”

“If you know who owns the book, why do you need us?” Gemma asked before Rupert could.

“Lily doesn’t own it, per se. Her family does. She hasn’t really told me where it’s hidden which is where I thought you guys could come in. Besides, I know I’m not skilled enough to use the book on my own. I thought if I paid you for lessons, we’d all benefit.” Tod nearly knocked over his bowl of soup in his excitement. It made Rupert nervous. The man seemed a little too eager. Rupert glanced at Ethan but his friend didn’t seem worried about it.

“And I agreed,” Ethan replied.

“So are you just going to ask her to come back to your place since you know her?” Deirdre asked.

Tod shook his head. “I’ve tried. I might have money but I’m still the four-eyed geek to girls like Lily. I could have the best blow in New York, and she still really wouldn’t give me the time of day. The only time she even talks to me is if I can get into the cool clubs, and she’s too high to know any better. Which is why we have to go to her, tonight would be good. I know where she’ll be.”

“Oh?” Ethan’s eyes took on a predatory gleam.

“Studio 54.” Tod grinned.

Rupert’ lips curled. “You want us to go to some bloody disco?”

“It’s not just a disco, Ripper, it’s the place to be. They turn celebrities away from this place. You have to be majorly cool to get in,” Tod said, his eyes deep with longing to have that kind of charisma

“And you somehow think we’re majorly cool?” Gemma appeared amused by this. Rupert fingered his earring. He was cool but he wasn’t sure he was Studio 54 ‘beautiful people’ cool. Rupert wasn’t sure he wanted to be that slick kind of phoney cool.

“I was hoping you had a spell that could make us too cool to resist,” Tod admitted sheepishly.

“Actually, I have a little charm spell that might do the trick,” Gemma replied.

“Bloody hell,” Rupert groaned. “Disco music is from the devil. It sucks.”

“Hey, I’d rather it be at a Stones concert but what can we do?” Ethan shrugged.

“Perfect.” Rupert slung his hair back. “I don’t have any disco clothes.”

“Not a problem,” Tod said. “Eat up and I’ll take us all shopping, on my dime. We’ll be the coolest people at the club and trust me, if we are, Lily will take notice. She’s like a fixture at Studio 54, and I’m betting together we can make Lily tell us where her family has the book under lock and key.”

“Buck up, Rupert.” Gemma patted his thigh. “I bet your butt looks great in skin tight disco pants.”

Rupert just rolled his eyes. Ethan tried not to choke on his laugher.
_________________
icon by Blaar Rosir
ANGEL -No, zombies are slow-moving, dimwitted things that crave human flesh.
CONNOR -like you.
ANGEL - No! It's different. Trust me
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D.M.
Dark Avenger


Joined: 28 Nov 2003
Posts: 382

PostPosted: Sun Sep 19, 2004 4:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

CHAPTER THREE

“I feel like a bleeding idiot in this get up,” Ethan moaned, rubbing his hands his silvery pants, which were only slightly less blinding than his red and silver floral Medici shirt.

“You do? I can’t walk in these ridiculous platform shoes.” Rupert lifted up a foot, wiggling the rainbow-swirled vinyl monstrosity. His robin blue flare bottoms matched the blue in his shoes, and his shirt was some horrifying postcard imprinted mess that Tod assured him was the in-thing. Rupert had the shirt open half way to his navel so the polyester wouldn’t smother him. Gemma kept playing with the chest hair that was poking through.

“You two look good,” Deirdre assured them.

“I agree. You’re damn sexy in huge cork heels.” Gemma nibbled the back of his neck as she slicked his hair into a ponytail. She smelled like Love’s Babysoft. “There, now you look like a player. Your hair is getting so long.”

“I know.” Rupert touched his hair. “I had to go home to get my passport, and of course, Father was there. First thing he said after ‘where do you think you’re going’ was ‘get a hair cut’.”

“I know, you should cut your hair in a mohawk. You’d look good,” Gemma said.

Rupert eyed her, trying to determine if she was joking.

“It would piss off your dad,” Ethan put in.

Rupert liked the idea. It would make his father shit, and that had plenty of appeal. “Once this is done, I’ll do it.”

Walking to the room, holding up a handful of necklaces, Tod announced, “I have medallions!”

“Oh, they have to have those.” Deirdre grinned wickedly, going to select a few for the men.

Rupert endured it as Gemma dug in her big purse. He assumed she was getting her ID and other necessities to switch into her smaller dress purse. He was unprepared when Gemma pulled out her camera and snapped a few pictures of him and Ethan.

“Ripper,” Ethan growled, nodding at the camera.

Rupert caught Gemma’s hand, pulling her to him. He kissed her. “You are so dead, luv.”

She laughed and pinched his butt, totally unconcerned.

“Take a few of the girls. They’re too pretty not to,” Tod said.

Rupert obliged, just to make his host happy. He had to admit Tod was right. The girls looked lovely. Gemma had brushed out her curls so her hair was like a walnut cloud. A gauzy aqua skirt clung to her narrow hips, and her lush chest was barely hidden behind an enticing blue and purple sequined butterfly halter. Deirdre was equally as attractive, her red hair like wildfire. Her black slinky pants and black sequined bandeau top highlighted her creamy skin.

“Gemma, do you need to do the charm spell now or when we get there?” Tod asked.

“Now. It’ll last for hours,” she replied.

Spell in place, they headed to Studio 54. The magic got them past the velvet ropes without trying. Rupert tried not to grimace as they entered the club to the loud strains of Dancing Queen.

Ethan clamped a hand on his shoulder. “Steady, old man.”

“Abba,” Rupert moaned, wilting.

“This grimoire will be worth it. Try to think Pink to take your mind off this crap,” Ethan hissed as Tod pushed into the crowd before them.

With Comfortably Numb in mind, Rupert followed. “Do you see her, Tod?”

“It’s a little early. Lily’s probably not here yet. I didn’t expect Gemma’s magic to work so well,” Tod said, sheepishly. “You might as well go dance for awhile.”

Rupert’s lip curled. Gemma took his hand.

“It’s a good idea. I’d love to dance.” She tugged him none too gently out onto the dance floor.

“Gem, I can’t dance to this noise,” he whispered.

“Fake it, Rupert. It’s so packed, we can barely move. No one’s going to notice you’re bad at it. Besides, I’ll make you look good,” she promised.

Rupert relented, trying to follow Gemma’s moves. She was right. The sardines-in-a-can effect of the over-crowded dance floor meant all he could do was wiggle in place. He could live with that since he was fairly sure the platform shoes were going to snap his ankles. It could be worse. He could be Gemma, whose platforms were easily six inches high.

Tubes, studded with lights, steadily rose and fell in a dizzying display. Above them, a giant crescent moon snorted cocaine ‘lights’ from a rhythmically moving spoon. The whole thing was surreal. If Rupert actually cared about being one of the beautiful people, he’d probably be thrilled to be here, and, in spite of himself, he was having fun. Rupert lost track of Ethan who had been trying to dance with Deirdre. Suddenly, his friend popped up at his elbow.

“You guys have to come try this. Tod got us some time on the machine. Come on,” Ethan said and dragged them off to where Tod and Deirdre were seated around a gas tank with masks over their face.

“What the hell is it?” Rupert asked.

“Laughing gas,” Ethan said, slipping a mask over his face.

“Shouldn’t we be keeping our wits around us so we can talk to Lily?” Rupert asked, even though he really wanted to try the gas.

“Loosen up, Ripper,” Ethan ordered.

Rupert wondered if it would help him drown out the driving beat of Funky Town before he started actually tapping his toes to it. He sat down, Gemma on his lap and they both strapped on masks. The gas made him feel great, almost hallucinogenic. Tod tapped his knee and pointed at someone.

“That’s her,” he said, pulling off his mask.

Rupert reluctantly set aside his mask and followed Tod, his friends right behind him. The euphoria from the laughing gas started trickling away, obviously a very short lived high, a pity that. They trailed after the very blonde young lady to what passed as a secluded area of the club. Rupert tried very hard to ignore the public sex happening in this more shadowy section of the Studio. The blonde plopped down at a table where a young man was only half awake, obviously not partaking in the little mound of coke she had on the table. Rupert could see the tracks in his arms and figured her friend to be a heroin junkie.

“Hey Lily, I wanted you to meet some of my friends from England,” Tod said. “This is Ethan, Ripper, Deirdre and Gemma. Mind if we sit?”

Lily’s unfocused blue eyes tried to fix on them. She smiled. “Please. Have some,” she offered before slipping a small tube out of her purse and snorting some coke. No one else made any moves towards it. “You guys are really from England?” she asked as if they had made a claim to be from outer space.

“Yes, we are,” Ethan said and she beamed at him.

“Aren’t the two of you the cutest things. I should take you home with me,” she said, oblivious to the fact neither Rupert nor Ethan were unaccompanied. Rupert figured she assumed they were swingers if they were in a club like this.

“That could a lark,” Ethan said, smiling at her.

“Lily, they want to talk about your book,” Tod said.

Her eyes narrowed as beads of sweat from the cocaine rush formed on her pale forehead. “Not that book again. Tod, you’re so boring. I hate talking about that dumb book. I wish it would just go away so I wouldn’t have to worry about looking after it.”

Rupert glanced over at Ethan. His friend’s dark eyes were alit with anticipation and greed. It might just be easier than they thought to get this book.

“But, Lily, they’ve come a long way to-” Tod said before she threw up a hand to cut him off.

“No more about the book,” she insisted. “Are you sure you guys don’t want some?” She gestured at the cocaine.

Rupert shook his head. “We’re fine.”

“Is your friend okay?” Gemma gestured at the barely conscious young man.

Lily looked at him sourly. “He’s just on a nod when he’s supposed to be watching my stuff while I was out dancing.” She shoved at him and he lolled against the wall. “How long will you guys be in the States?”

“It depends. We have business here,” Rupert said.

“Business sucks. I’ve got family crap to do or I’d be over in London right now. I love that town. Are you from there?” She gave them an eager look.

“We’re from all over but we’ve been living in London for a while now,” Deirdre said.

“I just love the way you guys talk. You sure you don’t want to go home with me?” Lily bounced in her seat.

“We do have to take care of our business,” Ethan said.

Lily pouted. “It can’t be that important if you’re here at the club.”

“Well, Lily, actually you are our business,” Ethan said, and her mouth flopped open, obviously not quite comprehending.

“You know how you said you wanted to give the responsibility of the book to someone else?” Rupert smiled at her. “We’d like to take the book off your hands. You’d no longer have to worry about it and you can concentrate on the things you like to do. We’d take good care of it.”

She smiled as empty as a jack-o-lantern. “I like that idea.”

“I thought you might,” Rupert said. “So, can you help us get the book?”

She nodded. “If I never have to think about that book again, it’s worth it. I’ve never actually seen it, but I can tell you where it’s hidden.”

“Perfect,” Ethan assured her.

It took the better part of the hour to get all the details out of Lily’s drug-addled brain but they left the club with all they needed to know. They stood on the sidewalk, waiting for a cab, letting the cool breeze wash away the heat and stink from too many bodies in polyester.

“I can’t believe we’re going to have to go grave robbing.” Gemma grimaced.

“Sleepy Hollow Cemetery is in North Tarrytown. We’d have to get on the Major Deegan and head north to US-9,” Tod said. “It’s not that far really, like thirty miles. We could be there within the hour. It’s a huge cemetery though.”

“It’ll still be dark,” Rupert said, thinking what might be found in a large cemetery at night.

“We don’t want to go grave robbing in the middle of the day,” Tod pointed out.

“No, but we can’t go stumbling around at night. We’re all a little tired and we’re not dressed for the task,” Rupert replied. “We should go up tomorrow morning and find the grave in the light of day so we know exactly where we’re going once night falls.”

Tod nodded. “Makes sense.”

As they got back into the cab, Rupert traded glances with Gemma. She knew what he was thinking. There could be vampires in Sleepy Hollow. Ethan was aware they existed, and Rupert wasn’t sure about Deirdre. He knew Ethan didn’t think they were very common or much of a threat but Ethan was arrogant. Rupert understood how hard it was to kill them. He had staked one once, back when he was still following his father’s wishes and had been presented one as part of his training. He’d get Gemma to help him fix up some makeshift stakes and get some holy water just in case.
_________________
icon by Blaar Rosir
ANGEL -No, zombies are slow-moving, dimwitted things that crave human flesh.
CONNOR -like you.
ANGEL - No! It's different. Trust me
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D.M.
Dark Avenger


Joined: 28 Nov 2003
Posts: 382

PostPosted: Sun Sep 19, 2004 4:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

CHAPTER FOUR


“It’s actually pretty in here,” Gemma said as they crossed a picturesque bridge over a stream inside the graveyard.

Rupert looked around and had to agree. It was pretty. In some ways Sleepy Hollow reminded him of Highgate Cemetery, or at least the Victorian West cemetery. which was lovely if occasionally vampire infested. “I’m just glad we decided to wait until daylight to scout the place out.”

“No kidding. It’s going to take forever for us to find the crypt,” Ethan grumbled, eyeing Tod evilly.

Tod squinted at his directions. “I think it’s this way.”

They followed Tod downhill but it was soon clear they were going the wrong way. The powerful monuments to Victorian wealth in the form of huge mausoleums and obelisks gave way to simple headstones, rusty brown, chipped and fading into oblivion.

“This can’t be right,” Deirdre remarked, pausing, her hands on her hips.

“What’s that building?” Gemma pointed to a stone church that sat among the crooked lines of brown and white stones that looked like teeth in need of work.

They jogged over to it. The sign read “The old Dutch church of Sleepy Hollow 1685.”

“Okay, didn’t Lily tell us about the church?” Ethan asked.

Rupert nodded, taking the directions they had scribbled on cocktail napkins from Tod who obviously wasn’t doing a good job navigating. “We’re in the Old Dutch Burying Grounds. This is the wrong section of cemetery...sort of the next cemetery over. But it’s good we found it because she used it to give directions. We need to go that way.”

“Great, back up the bloody hill,” Ethan moaned.

They started climbing. Gemma paused in front of a brown, cracked stone that had a little angel head superimposed on wings at the top of it.

“Check this out.” She pointed at it.

“That can’t be right. We’re looking for a mausoleum,” Tod said, dismissively.

“No, it’s not the Moundalexakis crypt obviously,” Gemma snapped, not impressed with his snotty tone. “It’s Eleanor Van Tassel Brush.” Gemma squatted down. “Man, she nearly lived a hundred years. She was the model for Katrina Van Tassel in The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. I loved that story.”

“That’s nice. We’re on mission, remember, Gemma?” Ethan snapped.

Gemma got up, her fist balled. Rupert half hoped she’d slug him. Ethan could use it, even if it wouldn’t get them anywhere. She relaxed and marched past him. They hiked back into the more affluent Victorian portion of the cemetery. They passed tombs for Carnegie, Rockefeller and Chrysler before they finally found the Moundalexakis mausoleum. It was easily three stories high with a domed top, all of the whitest marble dotted with green moss.

“Damn, that’s bigger than any flat I’ve ever lived in.” Ethan leaned back, trying to take in the impressive structure’s full impact.

“No kidding,” Rupert said, thinking vampires would love the place, nice and roomy.

“Seems like a waste of money to me,” Tod said, unimpressed. “At least it’s right on the road. We should be able to find it tonight.”

“I’m thinking, why wait? ” Ethan went up to the cast iron crypt door.

“It’s daylight,” Tod argued.

“And the only signs of people we saw were like a kilometer away,” Ethan replied, peering in the door’s stained glass window. “We pull the door shut behind us, who’d know we were in there if we were quiet? Besides, I know Ripper is as nervous as an old woman about being here after dark.”

Rupert scowled. “And you know why.” He gazed out over the rolling hills dotted with granite, marble and limestone. The cemetery was probably a good hundred acres, an entire community of vampires or worse could be living here. Not that he expected that there was but it could happen.

“Do we want to try it now?” Deirdre asked.

“I say yes,” Ethan said.

Rupert shrugged and pulled a kit out of his pocket, removing his lock picks. He made short work of the padlock. They went inside and looked at the stained glass stuck into the mausoleum’s dome. Rupert wondered if it was Tiffany glass. He almost agreed with Tod. It was a lot of money to put into a resting place; solace for the living, he guessed.

“We didn’t bring any crowbars or anything.” Tod gestured at the marble slabs sealing in the coffins.

“I have a spell that can handle that,” Ethan said.

“Let’s try not to explode anything. Sound probably carries in these hills,” Rupert said, trying not to reach for the stake he had hidden - point up - in his boot. The crypt looked unused but better safe than sorry.

Ethan chucked his shoulder. “Trust me. Just be ready to catch the slab.”

Tod and Rupert took either edge of the slab, fingers digging into the cracks. Ethan chanted in Greek and the slab suddenly listed forward. The men caught it and lowered the heavy rock to the ground as silently as they could. The opening of the tomb added to the mustiness inside the mausoleum.

“We’ll have to slide the coffin out. We should be able to do it,” Ethan said.

It was harder than they thought it might be to pull the coffin from its resting spot, taking all five of them to wrestle it to the marble inlaid floor. The stained glass rained a splash of color down on the mahogany wood. They ringed around the casket, staring at it.

“Who opens it?” Deirdre asked, distaste written on her face.

In the excitement of getting their hands on the grimoire, none of them had thought much about the enormity of what they were about to do. Rupert knew he could do it. Watchers were required to disturb graves. Some of his earliest memories were tales of his parents’ exploits and half of them started in a cemetery. Still, he really didn’t want to open the coffin and see what lay inside since the poor woman had been sealed up back in the 1800's.

“It’s a shame that the book has been forgotten for a hundred years inside of there.” Tod pointed at the casket.

“So, does that mean you’re opening it?” Gemma asked.

“Uh, no.” Tod backed away, looking skittish. “What if it requires magic?”

“Ethan, this is your show,” Rupert said, “you get the book.”

Ethan’s lips skinned back as Rupert leaned against the wall. “Thanks for nothing, Ripper.”

Rupert ignored the insulting tone. He knew Ethan was far more a coward than he was. It would do him good to get his hands dirty. Rupert slid his foot up the wall so he could easily pull the stake should he be wrong about the casket being empty. Still, he didn’t know how a vampire could get in and out of one sealed up in a wall.

Ethan undid the locks and pried up the lid. The room filled with a strange smell. Not rot, exactly, but something equally unpleasant and skin-crawling. Tod and Deirdre gagged, turning away from the desiccated corpse. Ethan slipped back outside and they stared after him, shocked, not sure if he was deserting them, throwing up or something else. He came back with some fat maple leaves, using them as rags to keep from having to directly touch the metal box resting within the rib cage of the woman. It must have been on top of her chest when she had been laid to rest. He lifted it out of its bony prison and set it on the floor.

He was green as he tried to pry open the box. “This is so gross.”

As he got it open, Tod darted in and grabbed the leather-bound, tattered book. Rupert could practically feel the heat of Ethan’s glare. He wasn’t much happier with Tod having the book first.

“We have it,” Tod murmured, looking like he didn’t even realize he wasn’t alone.

“Put the book down,” Ethan said, putting the metal box back in the casket. “We need your help hoisting her back where she belongs.”

“Who care about that?” Tod gave a dismissive wave to the coffin. “We have the book.”

“We can’t just leave a body on the ground.” Rupert wanted to throttle the American.

“Especially not with my prints on the casket so put the fucking book down, you wanker, and help us shove her back in the hole,” Ethan growled.

Tod reluctantly put the book aside and helped them seal up the casket once more. Ethan got to the book before Tod the second time, and, to Rupert’s surprise, handed it to him for safe keeping.

“We can’t take time to look at it here, too risky,” Ethan said, further surprising Rupert. Since when had Ethan cared? Maybe it was handling the book. Rupert could feel the power thrumming through it and suddenly had the urge to open up the casket again and put the book right back where they had found it.

“Fine. I’ve got some other people who’ll want to see it when we get the book back to my place,” Tod said.

“You never mentioned others before.” Ethan’s eyes slotted.

Rupert tightened his grip on the book. He didn’t like this. He didn’t want to share the book. It was his now and he was only dimly aware of the oddness of that thought. It faded after he locked the book in the trunk of their rental car, as if distance from the book assuaged some of his possessiveness and rage. Still, it was a tense trip back into the city.
_________________
icon by Blaar Rosir
ANGEL -No, zombies are slow-moving, dimwitted things that crave human flesh.
CONNOR -like you.
ANGEL - No! It's different. Trust me
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D.M.
Dark Avenger


Joined: 28 Nov 2003
Posts: 382

PostPosted: Sun Sep 19, 2004 4:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

CHAPTER FIVE

“I don’t like this,” Ethan groused as Tod’s house filled up with eight of his friends, all of them people Rupert and his friends had met during the house key party. “You didn’t mention anything about your own little coven, Tod. Wouldn’t it be a good idea to actually know a little magic before organizing a play group?”

“Who said anything about a coven.” Tod laughed. “They’re just interested in what you can do. They want to see for themselves. I don’t see the harm in that.”

Rupert did. If the book was as powerful as he thought it might be, it could be dangerous to have completely magically-naive people about. Randall’s death had proven that even experienced people could be killed. Funny, it was the first time he had thought about Randall since the time in Central Park. At least maybe he was getting a handle on his grief, that had to count for something. “If things go wrong, Tod, we might not be able to protect them.”

“What could go wrong? Let’s just try some small spells,” Tod said then his eyes narrowed, his voice going rough. “They’re not leaving.”

Rupert felt Gemma tense beside him. Ethan’s thin face twisted with fury and Deirdre looked ready to bolt. She might have the right idea but Rupert had a feeling Tod would shred him and his friends to keep the book from leaving.

Ethan glanced outside at the full moon. “Think we should get started then?”

“What spell do you actually think is safe?” Gemma asked.

“How about this one?” Tod pointed to a spell three pages in. “It’s supposed to make pictures cry. I can’t imagine what good that is but what could get hurt? Pictures aren’t alive.”

Ethan picked up the book. “I hate reading in Greek.”

Rupert agreed. It wasn’t just a different language but a completely different alphabet. It was lucky that he and Ethan were both natural polyglots. “At least it isn’t Chinese,” he offered.

“You’d be out of luck if it were.” Ethan hesitantly read the spell. A cool wind suddenly shot in through the windows and all the pictures in the living room, humans and animals alike, started weeping.

“Wow, it worked. It really worked,” one of Tod’s friends said. Was her name Cynthia? Rupert thought it might be. It was the girl he had gone home with.

“It’s as simple as that? Just reading out of the book?” Tod tried to get the book back from Ethan but the taller young man had a death grip on it.

“Not all spells are that easy,” Gemma said, annoyed that Tod thought magic could be that easy. “Some require a lot of spell ingredients to make them work.”

“And it takes a certain amount of control,” Rupert added. “With some spells, all you need to do is read them but if you don’t have the control to direct them, things can go bad.”

“People die,” Deirdre whispered, obviously thinking of Randall and the terror they all went through trying to exorcize Eyghon.

“Try another one,” a pudgy young man demanded.

“Here, Ripper, you try.” Ethan surrendered the book. He had a strange look in his eye. Rupert almost could have sworn it was fear, like he knew they were in over their heads.

Rupert thumbed through it. A few spells were harmless-looking upon the first read through. Others were terrible, dealing with pain and death and flaying of people alive or causing unrelenting sorrow. What had they unearthed from the Moundalexakis’ grave? He knew better than to continue this but if he quit now, could he and his friends wrest the book away from Tod and his companions? They outnumbered the English spell casters two to one. Maybe another spell would put them at ease, satisfy them, and then they could put the book aside and rationally think about what to do next. “Okay, here’s one. If I’m reading it right, it’ll make a pyrotechnics display with no heat. It seems like it was for entertainment at ancient theaters, like a special effect or something.”

Rupert prayed he hadn’t made a translation error. He chanted the spell and the room seemed to hold its breath. His heart skipped a beat, then balls of light started dancing on the ceiling. They exploded with little pops and brilliant colors rained down, some like falling jewels, others like crystalline flower petals. Others broke into rain drops and lightning bolts in every color of the rainbow. It was one of the most beautiful spells he had ever seen.

“Talk about your transitive nightfall of diamonds,” Gemma breathed.

Rupert reread the passage, trying to memorize the spell for later. It was harmless and wonderful to look at. He got up and touched the falling petals of light. They fizzled against his skin like a feather-tickle. Suddenly, he was brought back to earth by Tod, yanking the book from his hand.

“I think maybe it’s my turn,” Tod said, a look of pure greed in his eyes.

Rupert tore the book out of his grip. “This isn’t for beginners, Tod. This spell is just a harmless light display but others in here are deadly. This isn’t a toy.”

“I don’t think you get to decide that,” Tod growled.

Rupert handed the book to Deirdre, getting ready to fight if he had to. “Look, Tod, you don’t have the skills for this. It’s why you asked us here. I’m telling you this spell book is beyond your abilities.”

“He’s right. Maybe after we do a little of those training sessions we talked about, you’ll be able to cast some of the easier spells but not yet,” Ethan said, more placatingly.

“I’m tired of this shit,” Cynthia whined.

“No shit,” the pudgy guy said, getting up.

Before Rupert or Ethan could react, the fat man punched Deirdre in the face. As she went down, nose pouring blood, he grabbed away the book. He wiped the blood spatters off in Deirdre’s hair.

“What the fuck are you doing?” Rupert lunged at Tod who kicked a chair into him.

“Here’s a little spell I already know.” Tod chanted in French and a silvery web lashed out of his hands, wrapping Rupert, Ethan, Gemma and Deirdre into a tight little bundle. They crashed to the floor like a felled tree.

“What is going on here?” Ethan thrashed against the bonds.

“I sort of lied to you, ol’ buddy.” Tod squatted down in front of them. “See, during my research I also discovered this book was written by supplicants of Penthus. Zeus made him the personification of sorrow. His favorite type of grief is the kind caused by death. When Ethan told me about your problems with Eyghon, I realized you were perfect.”

“Perfect for what?” Rupert snarled, trying to free himself.

“I lied about us being a coven, too. We are. Penthus is our patron and we’ve made this brownstone his temple.” Tod beamed like a proud papa. That explained the weird feeling the building had been giving Rupert but knowing there had been a good reason didn’t make him feel any better. “I also learned that if we sacrificed sorrowing wizards we could gain even more powers, straight from Penthus. We’d become his right-hand men so to speak. We could become gods. We wouldn’t even need this damn book but the sacrificial spell is in here so we needed it for that. It would be better if we had more sorrowing wizards but I’m betting four is good enough for a start. Penthus should be happy.”

“Ethan, remember what I said about your plans blowing up in our faces,” Rupert growled, struggling against the webbing.

“Not helping, Rupert.” Gemma thrashed as Tod and his companions turned away from them to concentrate on the book.

“We all have our samples of their hairs or fluids for the spell?” Tod asked.

“It’s been in the freezer,” Cynthia said, producing a condom in a bag from her purse.

“Are you as nauseated as me?” Ethan mumbled.

“Worse. Got an idea,” Rupert whispered. “Join hands.”

“What do you have in mind?” Gemma fumbled for his hand.

“Let them get started, get their minds off us. We all know Marin’s Unlocking spell. If we cast it in unison, we might be able to undo this,” Rupert replied.

It didn’t take long for Tod and his friends to find their spell and start it, the room filled with the foul odors of burning hair and latex as the sacrifices were loaded onto a fondue cooker cum cauldron. Rupert and his companions locked fingers as best they could in the tangle they were in. The first time through, the spell didn’t work so the quartet tried again griping harder, daring to be a little louder as they chanted.

“I think it’s coming!” Tod screamed, dancing around the room.

Rupert ignored it and his growing fear as their bonds dissolved. They all scrambled to their feet, racing for the door, to hell with the book. Rupert saw the entity forming near the ceiling, vaguely man-shaped from the waist up and, from the waist down, vapors, weeping tears so salty the apartment suddenly smelled like the sea. Penthus had come for his sacrifices.

“They’re free!” Cynthia shouted, pointing at the quartet.

Rupert punched the nearest of the group in the face as he made for the door. He didn’t worry too much for himself or Ethan in a fight. They were capable of handling themselves. Gemma was probably even more capable than Ethan was. Deirdre, with her broken nose and swelling eyes, worried him the most. He snared her arm, propelling her toward the door. Someone grabbed Rupert’s long hair, yanking him back. Deirdre jumped forward, tearing the door open. She didn’t wait. She thundered down the brownstone stairs.

Rupert broke the hold Tod had on his hair and kneed the man hard. Gemma was being dragged back towards Penthus by two of the coven members while Ethan slammed Cynthia face first into the wall. Rupert tried to get to Gemma but he was tackled by three of Tod’s friends. They were outnumbered too badly. Gemma screamed as Penthus’ vapor rained down on her. Spurred on by her cries, Rupert bit the arm closest to him, tasting blood as he shoved his elbow back into the person but he still couldn’t get free. Ethan kicked one of them away from him and hauled Rupert up. Together, they tore Gemma away from Penthus. Some tears hit Rupert and for a moment he thought he’d never be anything but anguished again.

He shook off the horrible sorrow, stumbling after Ethan who was trying to drag them both out. Rupert started running, pulling Gemma who was still screaming, her face a mask of tears. Ethan dodged one of the women and managed to scoop up the grimoire in the same move. Rupert was nearly yanked off his feet by Tod who had another death grip on his long hair. Gemma fell to the ground. Screaming, Rupert grabbed Tod and shoved him through the window onto the fire escape. Tod moaned and whimpered, bleeding everywhere. As much as the Ripper part of him wanted to ‘help’ Tod off the escape the hard way, Rupert turned and fled through the apartment, managing to dodge Penthus who was enveloping Cynthia in his vapor, obviously not caring who was a supplicant and who was sacrifice.

Rupert lifted Gemma up and half carried, half dragged her out of the apartment. Ethan was waiting on the stairs and he took Gemma’s arm. They carried her down the street between them. Deirdre was three blocks away. Panting from exertion, they eased Gemma down onto the filthy sidewalk. The street was deserted and eerily quiet until the screams started coming from the brownstone. Gemma curled up, sobbing.

“It’s turned on them,” Ethan said, staring at the brownstone.

“What’s wrong with Gemma?” Deirdre asked.

Rupert knelt beside his weeping lover. He brushed her hair back, looking into her wet eyes and saw no sparks of her intelligence behind them. “I think the sacrifice wasn’t our deaths. It’s our happiness.”

“What do we do now?” Deirdre sat down, putting her arms around Gemma.

“We take this damn book and we lock it back up where we found it,” Rupert snarled but he knew that would do no good. It would be the first place Tod would look.

“Are you nuts? Do you know how much power is in that book?” Ethan brandished it.

“And look what it did to Gemma.” Rupert stood up, getting in Ethan’s face. “We can’t keep the damn thing, Ethan.”

“Well, we’re not stupid enough to call down an ancient God,” Ethan argued. “I’m not giving up something this powerful.”

“The hell you aren’t.”

“Let’s see you make me, Ripper.” Ethan tossed the book onto the grassy spot that made up the front ‘yard’ of another brownstone. He threw a right hook that Rupert dodged.

They went at it, street rules, and Rupert went all out. All they needed now was the cops on top of it all. Deirdre was crying for them to stop then she was pulling on Rupert’s arm. He hadn’t even realized he had gotten Ethan down and had been whomping him at will. He staggered up to his feet.

“Are you happy now?” Deirdre shoved him.

“No, I’m not, Dee, but we can’t keep this book, and you know Ethan’s not going to give it up.” Rupert turned, looking back at Tod’s brownstone. It had fallen silent. “I think Penthus is done with them.”

“Look!” She pointed to the roof. They watched in horror as three of Tod’s companions leapt off in unison. Deirdre crushed her face against his chest as they hit ground. “Oh, god.”

“Shit.” Rupert couldn’t look away. “What did Tod say? Penthus likes the sorrow of mourners for the dead?”

“We have to get out of here,” Deirdre said, tugging at him.

He pulled free. “We have to get back inside.”

“Are you insane?”

Rupert wasn’t sure of the answer at this point. “Deirdre, we have no money, no clothes and worse, no passports. We need our stuff. The cops will be here shortly. Even if Penthus took out everyone in the brownstone, someone had to have heard the jumpers. We don’t have much time.”

Her pale face twisted into a rictus of terror. “What if Penthus is still in there?”

“I don’t know.” Rupert tried to keep the fear out of his voice. “Help me get Ethan and Gemma out of sight.”

They pulled them into the doorway of the nearest brownstone. It wouldn’t hide them from sight for very long but it was better than nothing. He and Deirdre went back to the brownstone and at his suggestion, climbed the fire escape. He peered in the broken window. The sea-salt smell was gone replaced with a coppery one. There were no signs of Penthus but all of the remaining supplicants other than Tod had slit their wrists or throats. Blood was everywhere. Tod was huddled on the floor, weeping like Gemma.

“Stay here. There’s blood everywhere. We can’t leave footprints. I’ll get the stuff and start handing it out to you,” Rupert said.

As quickly as he could, he gathered up their rucksacks, making sure he had some of the money, the passports and everyone’s ID other than Ethan’s, whom he assumed had it in his wallet. Rupert put the book in his rucksack before going back out the way he came. Tod hadn’t even noticed Rupert had been in the apartment. He and Deirdre hurried back to their friends. Ethan was still unconscious, and Gemma still curled into the fetal position, crying.

“Now what?” Deirdre asked, shaking so hard Rupert didn’t know how she walked.

“We have to get them off this block. We can’t hail a cab here. We might be remembered. If I can get Gemma on her feet, think you can guide her?” he asked and Deirdre nodded.

Rupert managed to get her to stand and she followed Deirdre meekly, silent tears streaking down her face. He pulled Ethan up, and dragged him along, hoping anyone who saw them thought Ethan was drunk. That was exactly what he told the cab driver several blocks away.

“Where will we meet up?” Deirdre asked as they stuffed a semi-conscious Ethan into the back seat.

“We won’t.”

Her eyes took over her face. “But Ripper--”

“Dee, Ethan won’t let the book go, and I need to get help for Gemma. I need to get her to the Watchers. When Ethan wakes up, tell him I stole the book and you couldn’t stop me. I’ll see you back home.”

Deirdre put a hand on his arm. “Are you sure?”

“Positive. Be careful, Deirdre.” He kissed her cheek and shooed her into the cab before the irritated driver changed his mind about his late night fare.

Rupert found a pay phone, swallowed his pride and called the local branch of the Watchers.

EPILOGUE

Rupert looked back at the Blackhorse convalescent home, wishing it had gone better. Three months after the Watchers had private jetted him and Gemma back to England, there was little change in her status. She was catatonic, spending her days weeping almost endlessly, going until her body couldn’t make any more tears then recharging for a fresh bout. She couldn’t speak and barely reacted to the world around her. Rupert went once a week for a pointless visit, like pulling on a hair shirt, pertinence for this latest misdeed.

“Watch where you’re going, Ripper, or you might knock someone down.”

Rupert’s head snapped around and he found himself face to face with Ethan. “I don’t have time for you, Ethan.”

Ethan curled his lip. “So I gathered since you’ve been ignoring my calls.”

“Take the hint.” Rupert almost turned then thought better of giving Ethan his back.

“Don’t get shirty with me. We’re going to talk, Ripper, here or do I have to do something unpleasant?” Ethan’s voice never changed from its cheery tone but Rupert heard the threat just the same.

He followed Ethan into the nearest pub and they both got a pint. “What do you want, Ethan?”

“That was dirty pool you played back in New York,” Ethan said, sliding into a booth. “What did you do with my book?”

“It wasn’t your book, and I did what had to be done.”

“You gave it to the bloody Watchers, didn’t you?” Ethan grabbed Rupert’ wrist. “You stupid wanker.”

Rupert yanked his hand way. “That book is safe. The Watchers know how to handle it. You don’t.” He paused for emphasis. “I don’t.”

“I can’t believe you threw it all away. We had power at our fingertips,” Ethan hissed, slamming a hand on the table.

“Tell it to Gemma, Ethan. Why don’t you go visit her and tell her about that power?” Rupert took an angry swallow of his ale. “We’re just lucky the New York City police think Tod was the head of a suicide cult and they’re not looking at us as murderers.”

“You got scared, Ripper.” Ethan stabbed a finger at him. “You threw it away because you were too busy pissing your pants.”

Rupert’s lips thinned. “Damn right I was scared. You’d have to be an idiot not to be.”

“Well, I’m going to give you another chance, Ripper.” Ethan sat back, taking a magnanimous tone. “I’ve got a line on something that will make us-”

“No!” Rupert snapped and Ethan’s eyes widened.

“What?”

“You and I are done, Ethan. I’m not going to help you do whatever it is you think is going to gain you power and riches, or whatever the hell it is you’re looking for.” Rupert leaned forward. “We killed Randall. Thanks to us, Gemma may never leave the mental hospital. How much more death and destruction will it take before you wake up? Magic isn’t to be played with.”

Ethan snorted, tossing back some of his pint. “Look at you. I don’t even know you any more, Ripper. Did you go running back to Mummy and Daddy? Look at your hair.”

Rupert touched his hair. After turning the book over to his father, the first thing he had done was cut his hair. Not into the rebellious mohawk Gemma had suggested but into something conservative and preppy. When his long locks hit the barber shop floor, it felt like something in him had died.

“Look at how you’re dressed. You going back to Oxford, Ripper?” Ethan sneered. “Or can’t I call you that any more. Hope you’re still up on all the nobby hand shakes and butt pats you need to do to get to the top. You’re disgusting.”

“No, Ethan, you are. I’m done with you. We’re not friends any more.” Rupert tossed back the rest of his pint and got up. “Don’t call me with any of your schemes. Don’t come around looking for me. Leave Deirdre the hell alone, too. She asked me to tell you that next time I saw you. We’re all done with you, Ethan.”

Rupert turned and started walking out. Ethan called after him, “Done with me you prissy little shirtlifter? Oh, I’m not done with you, Ripper. I know what you are, killer. You can’t hide that. You run along back to your Watchers. Sit around stroking your wire, while you let a little girl do all your fighting for you. Next time we meet, Ripper, I’m going to have something special for you, make you wish you aren’t pretending you don’t have a bad side. You should have kept me as a friend, Ripper because you don’t want me as your enemy.”

Rupert shot him the two-fingered salute and kept walking. Ethan was mostly bluster and always had been. Still, he was wily and just petty enough to come looking for him some day. Rupert couldn’t worry about that. He would have to hurry to get to his Roman Occupation of Britain class and tonight he was meeting Jiao Zhao so she could work with him on his martial skills, something in his Watchers training he was actually enjoying. He resisted looking back at his one-time friend, not sure he could resist the temptation to join him in his next quest for power. Rupert pictured Gemma’s empty eyes and Randall’s headstone and his decision to rejoin the Watchers felt right. He was where he belonged.

Requirements:

Which Ripper: pre-BTVS Ripper, or Giles with Ripper flashbacks
Setting: Whatever works in the story.
Pairing: Doesn't matter. I have trouble suspending my disbelief for non-canon slash. But if you think you can convert a non-believer, go for it.
Other characters you would like: No preference.
Acceptable rating range: G - R is best. I'm okay with NC-17, I'm just not dying to hear about Giles's throbbing man-parts. I prefer passion to porn.

Two or three things you want in your story:
1) a character-driven piece or a plot driven-piece (or both).
2) a story from Giles's past that gives us new insight on a moment from the show

One or two things you don't want in your story:
1) A wandering plot where the beginning has nothing to do with the end (unless it's some sort of farce where that's the point.)
2) Making him a Mary-Sue. Giles shouldn't be the perfectly wise father-figure and Ripper shouldn't be the perfect bad-ass.

Anything you absolutely will not read: Personal vendettas the author has against a particular character. Don't have Ripper kill Joe Finn so "that jerk" Riley is never born, or have Giles give multiple, long rants about how he hates Spike. Conflict between characters is great, but don't turn it into a soapbox
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