Word count: 1,612
Summery: This is the way that a life changes. Not in a rush, but in a snapshot moment.
No Hands (Look, Dad)
A.K.A Snapshots of the Changing Days
‘I know what I’m seeing when I see it. She’s my world, these days, certainly the only decent thing that I’ve ever helped to contribute to it, and yet I’ve no idea what to do to snap her out of it. I see her pain, and her disconnection, and I wish beyond all else that I knew what to do.
This isn’t the first time I’ve witnessed such a frame of mind, however. She’s taken her hands off the wheel and is racing towards self-destruction; a thing that I, myself, spent a long time trying to entice in my younger years. This is also how I know that no matter what I do in the end it has to be her, whom shakes herself free from this.
After all, if she doesn’t want to break free of it, then no amount of force is going to make a difference. She has to want it, in order to see not just life, but living as something worth trying to obtain again.’
Rupert Giles, 1998
He felt that thrill of anticipation as he rested at the top of the hill, both feet planted firmly on the ground, and his weight seated fully on the seat of the push-bike. Looking down he eyed the end of the track, and where his parents were, sitting on a blanket that they had spread out on the grass to put lunch on. As far as picnic weather went it couldn’t really be more ideal.
Mr and Mrs Stephenson were going to be joining them later with their son, too, and he was really looking forward to it.
The bike that he was on was painted bright red, and it had a banana seat, and as far as he was concerned it was the best birthday present he’d ever been given, even though that was almost a whole year ago, when he’d turned nine.
He went out practising on it every day that he got the chance.
Briefly, he wondered what he might get when he turned ten and then pushed the thought away. With the whole day stretched out in front of him, next month felt like it was ages away.
Pushing off the ground he peddled up to speed, until he was going as fast as he could, then at the half-way point he sat back and took his hands off the handle bars, and spread them out wide out at his sides. Going this fast it felt like he was flying, and with only his body to control the bike the ride became that much more thrilling.
As he raced past the blanket he didn’t see how wide his mother’s eyes went.
“Look, dad, no hands!” he yelled over his shoulder.
“Just watch out for that…stream,” Adrian finished ineffectually as Rupert went over the bank, and for a few brief seconds he really was flying.
Seconds later he came down again, and slowly stood up in hip-deep water. Adrian had shot to his feet, and was already over there by the time Rupert stood the bike up.
“Are you alright?” he asked, fighting to keep a straight face at the indignant look that his son bore.
“’M fine. Just a tad wet,” Rupert said after what seemed like careful consideration.
Adrian reached down and picked the bike up, then gave his son a hand up and out of the water.
“Did you think you were a bloody bird, son?” he chided softly, with no heat in it.
“I sure flew like one,” Rupert grinned, “until I came down, anyway.”
“Boys will be boys,” he heard his mother call out, and something about that expression struck him as hysterically funny. By the time he had recovered, his father was smiling widely, too.
“Why don’t you come stretch out in the grass beside us, and dry off a little?” his father offered.
“Sounds good,” Rupert held Adrian’s hand as they walked back over to the blanket, and he stretched out belly down on the grass, kicking his sandals off so that he could wiggle his toes freely in the grass.
After a few moments it began to tickle his nose, so he rolled onto his back instead, and crossed his arms behind his head, so that he could look up at the clouds and the brilliant blue sky.
Life was good.
Twenty-three, and he’d had enough. Who needed to know the name of the Slayer who had died in the bloody Boxer Rebellion, or the name of the vampire (probably long-dead, too) that had killed her?
Who was interested in the reasoning behind why a vampire couldn’t cross a thresh-hold, or History of Magick 101?
He was through with name and dates, and being told that he wasn’t working hard enough, that he would never make it as a Watcher, that he would never serve with a Slayer, or be any good at magic.
He was through with not being accepted for who he was.
Hell, he was through with trying to be a Watcher. The vampires could inherit the earth for all he cared. Maybe they would do a better job of running it than the bloody humans.
Smirking, as his imagination provided him with the image of Night-only Q&A sessions, and campaigns for cheaper blood-banks with higher-quality produce, he closed the door to his room for the last time, and started down the hallway, whistling to himself.
Look, dad. No hands.
Ethan had found them a room in London, where he could begin building his own life.
He had promised Ethan that if he found them a place to stay, then he would join him. He was nervous, but excited.
This was it.
For three years it had been a good ride.
It had been one hell of a good ride what with his hands free, and no responsibilities.
The wind whipped up around him and he shivered. It was a lazy wind, couldn’t be bothered blowing around anything, so instead it went straight through you, and out here on the highest of the high hills that grew up from the heath it had very sharp teeth indeed.
A massive silvery moon lit everything with an indistinct light, almost as though someone had grabbed a brush and drawn the colour uninhibited over the landscape. He could hear a dog barking somewhere in the distance, the wind carrying the sound across the lonely miles. Looking back down, he could see everything.
There was the scorched circle of grass and earth where they had cast the spell for the last time, the tracks that they had beaten through on their way up with equipment. If he went down there then he would find cigarette butts and empty bottles, and candle-stubs and a great many things less innocent; bone and tooth, maybe the remnants of the sacrifice that they had offered, if some scavenger hadn’t made off with it.
He wasn’t going down there.
He fancied he could see darker spots on the waving grass; their own blood, shed by a raving demon and run with Randal’s. Right there was there they had killed him, after everything had gone so horribly wrong. He wasn’t even sure how it had happened, what they had screwed up on, unless it was the whole idea of summoning Eyghon in the first place.
He could remember that feeling moving through his blood, taking hold of him like pure intoxication, flashes of memory. He dared not fall back into reminiscing, least he change his mind.
Although he didn’t think so; it was pretty well made.
At the sound of crackling grass he automatically stood to the side before glancing back. He had expected Ethan to join him, hence the side-step. Complaining as bitterly as the wind blew, laughing, arms held tight around his shoulders, waiting for Rupert to be the gentleman and take off his leather, to wrap around his slim frame.
But it was no more than a rabbit, come up to feed in the moonlight.
Ethan wouldn’t be joining him, Giles reminded himself, even as he remembered what the moonlight and magic had done to his eyes, turning them into pools of inky black. Ethan was in the hospital, along-side Thomas.
Ethan was where he, with his fractured arm and wounded confidence, and broken soul should be, as well.
But instead he had climbed the heath to look down on where it had all happened. What was more was that he wouldn’t be going back.
The drugs and magick and companionship had been fun while it had lasted, but it was time to step up and take responsibility. It was time that he grabbed hold of the reins of his life again, and took his place in the world.
He had someone to protect it for, and his own monsters to keep it safe from.
He had come up here to say goodbye, to those things and people that he couldn’t say the words to in person.
I’ll miss you like a thorn in my bloody side. He wished he could make himself believe it. It would have made life far easier after all.
Truth was, he held no ill will. Not towards any of them.
His hand moved to the earring that swung freely from his ear, and he undid it, wondering for a few moments whether he should burry it in the earth, before deciding that he was far too selfish. He was already loosing enough, wasn’t he?
He didn’t say a word, didn’t raise a hand, as he turned and headed back down.
Look, dad. I’m taking control again.
Why say a word when he was alone?