Title: Breaking Glass 1/2
Rating: FRAO for sex and drugs and four-letter words
Summary: Ethan takes Giles for a weekend away from Council pressures, and Giles travels considerably further than either of them had expected.
Word count: 4100
Notes: Many many thanks to theblackmare and hobgoblinn for the insightful last-minute reads.
maleslashminis Giles round
Wanted: cigarettes; a broken window; a holiday (interpret that as you will)
Unwanted: sap/fluff; non-con
Preferred rating: any
Giles finished The Magician’s Nephew too quickly, even though he’d been reading with strict attention to prose style, as slowly as he could. It was losing its power to comfort, he thought. Not that a story about a world created in corruption ought ever to have been comforting. Could a fall from grace ever be considered a good thing? Giles stretched out his legs in the bay window seat, bracing his bare feet against the opposite sill. He’d gone running that morning and had done his five-mile course at punishing speed, and his legs still ached.
Water slid down the pane of the glass at his elbow. It had been spattering on and off all day, broken by fitful moments of clear spring sunlight. His seat in the window nook was cozy. He’d insisted that he and Ethan take the flat when he’d knelt in it and looked down at the little garden in the back of the house.
He really ought to return to his reading of the Mabinogion. He’d broken down partway through “Culhwch and Olwen”, and fled to refuge in Lewis. His Council tutor had told him he’d be expected to start a translation of the Council’s edition on Saturday, the version with the story of Bedwyr that they hoarded away from outside scholars. His command of the medieval Welsh was advancing, had advanced greatly that morning when Giles had memorized a swathe of vocabulary. Not far enough to satisfy the tutor, Giles was sure.
He couldn’t bear the thought of studying any more.
Ethan was asleep on the sofa, long slim legs in faded jeans stretched out, knuckles on his hand brushing the floor, some dreadful economics treatise open face-down on his chest. Giles could get up and make tea for the both of them, but the noise would disturb Ethan. And he couldn’t bring himself to move.
Ethan stirred in his sleep, and the heavy book slid to the floor. He cried out and sat up.
“What?” He looked around himself as if startled to find himself in their flat. Ethan always woke up like that.
“You dropped your book.”
Ethan leaned over the edge of the sofa to locate the text on the floor, then left it there, face down, pages bent. He sat up and stretched. “Time?”
“Just gone five.” Giles was disappointed to discover it. He’d hoped the day were further advanced, nearer the time he could reasonably put himself to bed under soft blankets. Though he could always just go to bed anyway. Giles considered this plan. It had the disadvantage of requiring motion. He stared out the window, eyes unfocused.
Ethan had gotten up and come over to stand at Giles’ elbow. “How’s the work? Ah. Not working. Reading that again. Second time this week.”
“I know, I know. The thought makes me want to… it’s just an endless bloody list, of every horse and dog the fool writer felt like name-dropping, and every one of them important. Worse than the catalog of ships.” Giles let his head fall back against the wall.
“Come on. Let’s go get a few pints into us.”
“I’ve got to—”
“You’ve probably done three times what your tutor wanted from you, as usual. You could stop work entirely right now and still waltz away with a First in a month.”
“That’s not the exam that matters.” Ethan groaned. They’d argued about this before.
“Come on. Up with you.”
Giles allowed Ethan to pull him up from the window nook, groaning. Which was absurd: Giles was all muscle, the student athlete. Ethan was languid softness in comparison, a willow next to Giles’ oak. Giles bent to touch his hands to the floor, stretching stiff leg muscles. Socks, boots. They shouldered on their leather jackets, no raincoats for these brave boys, and Giles followed Ethan down the narrow stairs to the street.
“So what has you in a state today, Rupert? You were all right last night.”
“Jerry came round while you were out. The team wants me back.”
“And you said?” Ethan zipped up his jacket against the damp and buried his hands in the side pockets.
“That I couldn’t, of course.”
“There’s no ‘of course’ about it.”
“Ethan, please.” They stood together at a corner, waiting for a break in the traffic. Ethan was leading away from their usual haunts near the Cowley Road.
Ethan sighed. “Who gives a fuck if it’s useful for training a Watcher? You love rugger. So play it.”
“I can’t go against a direct order like that.”
“Yes, you can. Stand up to them. Ignore them, curse them, kill the lot of them. Whatever. Rupert. Please.”
Giles hunched into his jacket and pulled his hands up into the sleeves. “I can’t. It would be wrong.”
They walked through residential streets for a few minutes in silence. At the next corner, Giles spoke again. “I know you think destiny is rot. But I can’t escape it. I might as well make a good job of it.”
“It’s killing you.”
Giles cast a sideways glance at Ethan.”We’ve had this conversation before. If I don’t know what I’m doing, the Slayer dies. Not me.”
“That’s why your father is— oh, fuck, sorry, Rupert. I didn’t mean…”
“I know what you meant,” Giles said, quietly. His father had died with his Slayer, just over a year ago. Horribly.
“But you don’t have to. Somebody else can do it. All right! I’m dropping it.”
The neighborhood they wandered through now was working-class. Giles hadn’t been to this part of Oxford before. Ethan had explored considerably more of the city than he had, and was always dragging Giles to new places. This pub didn’t look welcoming. The Oak and Thorn. Ethan held the door for him. Dark inside, smoky, decent custom, mostly male. It claimed to brew its own, which was something. Ethan sent Giles to sit while he got drinks. Ethan never had money when it was time to stand a round for their friends, but he always seemed to have it when Giles needed tending. He came back with four pints. He slid the ale in front of Giles and kept the cider for himself. He lounged across the opposite bench. Giles took his first gulp. Bitter in the mouth, heavy in the stomach, but sweetness and light in the head. Or it would be as soon as he finished the first. A different sort of numb indifference would follow. The glow was in his blood and in his head already, the beer opening the gate for temporary escape.
Food appeared on the table about the time Giles was finished with his first pint. Greasy stuff, fish and chips, the sort of thing Giles avoided when he was in training for rugby. Which he wasn’t any more, so why not? He’d eaten nothing all day. He poured on the vinegar and ate, and drank his second pint. Ethan poached a few chips, but otherwise just watched Giles eat. He lounged with one foot up on his bench. He drank little. He hadn’t even made a start on his second pint by the time Giles was down to the last inch of his.
Ethan pulled out the cigarettes he’d begun smoking recently and lit up. Giles made a face. He hated the taste of ash in Ethan’s mouth. It was otherwise a wonderful mouth, clever, whether talking or caressing Giles. Giles finished his beer. He stared at Ethan’s mouth and imagined what it would feel like on him later. How it would taste. Giles loved Ethan’s face entirely. Pale under the shaggy dark hair, sensual, cruel at times, but always with intelligence shining out. And for some reason Ethan liked quiet, shy Rupert Giles.
Ethan basked in the stare for a little, then curled his mouth in that impish smile Giles loved. “What are you thinking?”
“Just trying to work out what you taste like. Nobody else has tasted like you do.”
“Magic. Most likely. Sweet and tangy at once? Fizzing?”
“Not exactly, but it’s something…”
“Magic. You taste of it yourself, you know.”
“Don’t you know? Haven’t you… what have you been studying in all those extra tutorials, if not magic?”
“Demonology, mostly. And languages.”
“What the fuck do you do with all your power, then?”
“Bloody hell, Ripper! It was practically the first thing I noticed about you. I mean, after I saw that the girl I’d had my eye on all night was hanging around your neck, and that you were prettier than she was. After I got over that, I could smell it on you. Can taste it every time I kiss you. You’ve got a lot of power.”
Giles stopped chewing his mouthful of chip. “Five months ago I was reliably informed that I have an only marginal magic talent. Not worth training at all. Though in the modern Council, that’s no disadvantage. Father… my father would have been disappointed. He had hopes.”
“Reliably, my skinny arse.”
“I can recite to you the report I read about it, written by no less than Quentin Travers, sub-director of field operations for England. I have little magical aptitude.”
Ethan reached across the table to poke Giles in the chest. “Utter rot. You’re dripping with it. Like honey from the comb, you and the magic.”
“Not according to the Council’s evaluation.”
Ethan stared at him. “You’re terribly dense for such a smart boy, you know, Ripper? They were either flat wrong or lying to you. And given the way they treat you, I’m going with lying. Though why, I have no idea.”
Giles upended his second pint. “Precisely. Why would they bother? So therefore they are not lying, and you are wrong.”
“Come ‘round here. Taste me.”
Giles obediently moved to Ethan’s side of the booth. Ethan stole a kiss, right there in the pub. Not the sort of pub where that was wise. Ethan seemed not to care. He leaned closer and bit at Giles’ ear. Giles slipped an arm around Ethan and kissed him again. Sweet cider. Tobacco. Salt from the chips. Ethan’s tongue in his mouth, so different from a woman’s tongue. Broader, more insistent than any girl Giles had been with. And yes, it was sweet and sharp at once. Giles could imagine kissing this mouth every day for the rest of his life. He sighed happily.
Something smacked the table. Giles disengaged from Ethan to look up. There were two of them. Mid-thirties, townies. Fags still in the corners of their mouths. The one in front was beefier.
“You, nancy boy! Stand up.”
Giles deliberately picked up Ethan’s second pint. He drained it in long swallows. He put the glass down, then turned on the bench.
“Were you addressing me?” He enunciated every word clearly, in his plummiest voice.
“Yeah, you fuckin’ fairy.”
Giles stood and swayed on his feet, just a trifle. The handicap wouldn’t be enough to make the fight interesting. He could see by the way the punter stood, un-centered, with his fists held in a movie fighter’s posture. Giles stepped away from their booth to give himself a little more room, and held himself ready, loose and balanced.
“Yes, I do think I heard that the first time. Did you have some kind of point about fairies to make?”
“Don’t want you here in my pub. Keep yourself to the fuckin’ university.” The man took a swing. Giles leaned aside easily and let his elbow intercept his victim’s nose, almost as if by accident. Giles threw his own punch and caught the man’s eye. His third blow was to the stomach, to make the idiot double over and provide an easy opportunity for a knee to the groin. That one was out and Giles wasn’t even winded.
The second flung himself at Giles, which was a pure gift. All that momentum! Giles stepped aside, and kicked high. The man flipped onto the table beyond and rolled. His shoulders hit the window. He fell backwards and out, screaming, trailing showers of glass and splintered wood. Giles followed, leaping onto the ruined sill and out, smashing more glass with boots and leather-armored elbows. He grinned and bent to haul up the lout, to finish the job.
Ethan was there, however, pulling him aside and away. He had his hands in the air, casting a spell Giles was learning to recognize. He chanted something quickly, twice, and brought his palms together. The people emerging from the pub shouting turned away from the pair of them and clustered around the man on his back, bleeding. Ethan tugged at Giles’ elbow. They walked briskly away, Giles leaning on Ethan as the third pint hit his blood. He hadn’t hit the second one enough to be truly satisfied, but the sound of breaking glass had been fantastic.
“Do you feel better?”
“Lord, yes. That was brilliant.” Giles pulled Ethan close and kissed him. “Can we find something else to beat up? Vampires?”
“Not in Oxford, love. Let’s get you home, then,” said Ethan, and was that a note of worry in his voice? Ethan had nothing to worry about. Giles was fine. More than fine. Why hadn’t he thought of doing this before?
Once in the flat, door locked behind them, Giles pinned Ethan against the staircase wall and kissed him until he could taste it again, whatever it was in Ethan’s mouth that he hungered for. Then he tugged Ethan the rest of the way up to the flat and into the bedroom.
Giles had liked it sweet. On those first nights with Ethan, the first times he’d touched another man, he’d been perfectly happy to rub himself against Ethan’s body. That way he could hold Ethan close, and kiss him, and look into his eyes when he came. In the four months since, Ethan had taught him other things, other ways of pleasing and of taking. His sexual horizons had expanded dizzyingly. Ethan’s were still further out; he kept trying to coax Giles into things Giles was certain he wouldn’t enjoy. But he was an apt pupil in this, as in everything. He’d learned that on these nights, after fights or scrums, Ethan liked it rough. Ethan wanted the feeling of Giles’ cock inside, transfixing him, Giles’ weight on his back, covering him. Giles obliged. He gave Ethan what he wanted, a hard fast ride, one hand braced on Ethan’s hip, the other reaching around to grab and pull. Ethan’s cries at climax triggered his: a moment in suspense, then release and he was falling onto Ethan’s back, collapsing into blackout.
A few shuddering breaths and he returned to himself. He rolled off Ethan, sweaty and spent and hollow. Sobriety was binding itself around his head again. And fear. The words of his Council tutor came to him, the lecture he’d received early in his schooling, about the dangers of Pagan friendships. Temptation and corruption and moral decay. He hadn’t understood it at the time. All of this was forbidden: the magic Ethan cast, the sex. If they knew, they’d make Giles leave. Or they’d do something to Ethan to make him leave. How long would he be allowed to enjoy this?
“You’re still wound up, aren’t you,” Ethan said. He was leaning on an elbow, studying Giles.
“I can’t— I keep— Everything I like, they take away.”
“They can only take away what you let them. Ripper.”
“Rub it in, why don’t you.” Giles tried to sit up. Only his rugby teammates called him that.
“Hey! Hush. I’m not needling you. I just like thinking of you playing. Muddy and bloody and so fucking magnificent. Shirt torn half off. My Ripper. That’s who you are to me. Who you were in the pub tonight. Gonna call you that, to remind you.” Ethan ran his hand over Giles’ chest, then down his flat belly. That wasn’t who he was. Giles knew it. But if Ethan wanted to believe it, if Ethan wanted him to be that man, Giles could do it. That was a small price to pay for the caresses Ethan was tickling over him now.
“Sorry. God. Ethan. Sorry. I’m such a berk.”
“I’ve got an idea for you. I think it’s time you worked it all out. Cleared out the lumber from the attic in your brain.”
“What?” said Giles, suspiciously.
“Let’s go on a little holiday this weekend. Get out of town.” Ethan rubbed circles around Giles’ navel.
“I can’t. Got to do that translation for the Council—”
“Yes, you can.”
Giles sighed. “Where?”
“Why there?” Giles turned onto his side, mirroring Ethan.
“I know you were reading about the site there, the lake village. I saw the papers on your desk last month.” Giles smiled and looked away for a moment. Nobody had ever paid as much attention to him as Ethan did. “And it’s soaked with magic because of the Tor. If you can’t feel it there, then I will believe you’re inept.”
Ethan pushed him onto his back again, and knelt up next to him.
“I can’t get away this weekend.”
Ethan’s questing hand had found its goal in Giles’ half-hard cock, still messy with lube and his own come.
“Yes, you can. And you will. Won’t you, Ripper?” Ethan straddled Giles’ thighs, and wrapped both hands around him. Giles was hard again in two breaths. He reached up over his head and gripped the posts on the headboard. He strained upward under Ethan’s weight, struggling to thrust. Ethan had perfect control over him, had him pinned. He’d do whatever Ethan wanted. He always did. Left to himself he’d just hide in the flat and work. Ethan could take him outside himself.
The Triumph was running well enough that Giles wanted to ride it down to Somerset. It was still spitting rain, off and on, though, and Ethan didn’t want to get wet. Giles had been going frantic with the need to be outside and moving, inside his skin and not inside the books. He’d been living on the memory of that moment when the pub window broke, the sight of the man flying through it, the feeling of the glass under his boots. If he couldn’t have that again, he wanted to ride. And in this instance, he got his way. So they were two up, Ethan’s hands on his waist, both in leather jackets and boots, their supplies for the weekend in a rucksack on Ethan’s back.
Ethan did a screening charm over them, to keep the worst of the rain off. He had to renew it periodically as they rode. He groused every time.
Giles wrung the Bonnie’s neck and kept it as fast as he felt was sane, given the wet roads and the fact that they were two up. He scraped pegs in the more open corners. This was almost as good as playing rugger, or brawling. Leaning into the turns, the bike an extension of his body, the breathless thrill of watching road sweep into view around the curves. He almost wished Ethan weren’t there, so he could go all-out and see what that felt like. Do his best Mike Hailwood. Maybe break his neck, scatter his body and the bike across the road, but there was no one left to care about that. Only gray men in suits who’d shake their heads and mark him down “failed” on their clipboards before banishing his records to the dead files.
Ethan would care. Giles could feel Ethan snugged up against his back. Hands tight on Giles’ waist, thumbs threaded through his belt loops, his thighs warm against Giles’ hips. Grounding him.
Around noon, the landscape opened out, and flattened. They were in the Somerset Levels. The road wound through flat, treeless pastureland. Glastonbury Tor crept into view across the fields to the south miles away, even through the rain-haze: a strange thing jutting above the moor, the only hill.
Giles slowed to look at it. It was strange. He knew the geological reasons for the formation, so it ought to seem mundane. But it wasn’t. It was an entrance to the underworld. Not a hellmouth, but a portal to the realm of true gods. Its summit had boasted many sacred sites to them. A ruined Christian church was visible there now, graceless stone walls erupting straight up.
They were near the town, now, a little maze of streets crowded at the foot of the Tor. Giles relaxed his wrist and took them into town at a staid putter. Ethan directed him through the streets to their lodging with taps on the arm. He braked neatly in front of the inn and waited for Ethan to dismount before kicking down the sidestand. He pulled off the helmet and stretched. The last twenty miles had been a trial on his legs.
Ethan shoved a wad of notes into Giles’ hand. “Do the talking, would you, Ripper? Do your best young don imitation. The middle-aged ladies eat that up from you.”
So Giles went in, and offset the bike and the leather with a nervous push of his wire-rimmed glasses up his nose, and a bit of Oxbridge stammering. Ethan liked to pretend that it was an act, that Giles hid behind the donnish persona. Giles knew well enough that the shy smile he gave to the innkeeper and her pretty daughter was genuine. Pretend he wasn’t an academic. Pretend he was a rugger thug. Escape from himself. Giles was along for that ride.
“Here to walk up the Tor, then?”
“I was hoping to take a look at the lake village. It’s, ah, my field. At university.”
And the woman was indeed charmed, and happy to show the two nice young men the room they’d asked for when they’d phoned a couple of days ago. One room with a single bed was fine; they were pinching pennies.
They dropped their gear and puttered off on the bike again to see the lake village. They wandered around the site for what remained of the afternoon. Their student status and Giles’ name-dropping his tutor got them more access than the few tourists present had. Giles was thrilled with the site. He’d read a great deal more than just the papers Ethan had seen on his desk, of course, since Britain’s early history was his specialty. He was afraid he wittered on too much, given the indulgence that had crept into Ethan’s smile.
“Are you bored?”
“My idea to come here, Ripper. You look happy.” Ethan stuck his hands into his jeans pockets, and rushed on. “Besides, if the details of pottery design are less than, ah, fascinating, I can always just soak in the power. It’s nearly strong enough for a mundane to feel it, I should think. There are few places in England where it’s this close to the surface.”
The hair had risen on the back of Giles’ neck more than once as they’d walked, but he wasn’t sure if that’s what Ethan meant by power. He asked.
“So you truly didn’t know.”
“No. But I think I’m beginning to get an idea.”
They walked in silence for a while. “And here I thought you’d been holding out on me, and was working up to a royal snit about it. Well, well.”
“So I can sense something. I still don’t believe I have any power.”
“I can prove it.”
“Tomorrow. We’ll visit the abbey site and climb the Tor. I’ll give you something to make you more receptive. If you see visions on the Tor, you’ll know you’re an adept. Mundanes can’t.”
“If you’re not an adept, you’ll just get stoned and have a good time. Which is why we’re here.”
“Ethan… I don’t know.”
“Do you trust me?”
Giles just looked at him sidelong, and began leading the way back to where they’d left the bike.
They had a nice dinner that night, something better than pub food, from one of the restaurants catering to tourists. Ethan paid from a surprisingly thick wallet. Ethan had a pair of absent-minded parents somewhere in London, who paid his tuition and board, but not much more. Giles supposed he should be asking where Ethan had come up with the dosh, but he set aside the problem. It was Ethan’s business.
Back in the room, Giles got what he wanted. Nothing complicated, just simple mutual head, which he thought had to be his favorite thing in the world. A long, slow worshipful caress with lips and tongue. Sweet.
Afterward, lying sated with Ethan’s taste in his mouth, with the taste of Ethan’s sorcery in his mouth if what Ethan said was true, Giles said, “All right, I’ll do it.”
TO BE CONTINUED