Characters: Giles, mentions of Ethan and Ethan/Giles pairing.
Setting: Season 5/6 hiatus
Summery: Giles goes to Nevada in search of a memory in the desert.
In the end the last time it was set alight at the beach had been one of their last.
It had been during 89, one of the last times that they had come together. Rupert remembered it, hearing the whisperers and rumours as the days blurred together into a haze of magic and sex-come-love, one so close to the other that the divide hadn’t mattered, for one of the first times in their joint lives.
He had needed a break, and Ethan had been there. Ethan had always been there.
Ethan had been with him. A last ditch attempt the convince him to take joy in life, and all that came with it.
That year, 1989, Ethan had convinced him to give himself a break once again. The destination that they had headed for had been San Francisco.
The event had been a gathering of gypsies and rebels and pagans and spell-casters and artists. It had been not quite the rebirth of the Burning Man, but only a few years shy of that first gathering of twenty. It had grown exponentially by word of mouth, and no ears were better pressed to the ground than Ethan’s.
They had taken off without warning, one-way tickets to San Fran, and a plan to stay if things worked out this once. Of course they never did, but that was beside the point. The point had been that they were both willing to try.
He remembered the build-up to it as though he’d watched it from outside of himself, so startling in its clarity that at times he wondered if he were filling in the gaps.
He could also remember that night, at the pinnacle of the celebration, looking up at the huge wood-built man, which had towered over them as they stood slightly back and apart from everyone else on Baker Beach. The smell of sweat, and a good three hundred people packed in together had mingled with that of the perfume of fresh sea-born salt, blown towards them by a favouring breeze.
Everything had felt like it was falling in to place.
He had held Ethan’s hand, fingers twinned together loosely, first simply for the sake of it, then his grasp had tightened out of awe as a single jet of fire had been breathed across the inky darkness, and it caught at the base of the effigy.
Moments later Ethan had pressed into his side tugging his arm around his shoulder, and looking into his eyes he could see the twin mirrors of that fire reflected there.
Both sweat and salt had been obscured by that unique smoky, not unpleasant smell of an open fire, and as the flames had shot higher into the night and the light had touched more and more of the surrounding area, and chased their shadows out longer than they had any right to be it had seemed like the best idea in the world to kiss Ethan.
The night had seemed to grow hotter, and when Ethan had kissed him back, one of those hungry kisses that made it seem like he was trying to swallow him whole, he didn’t think he could have come any closer to melting.
Right there, in their tiny little patch of the world, out of sight of the gathered masses they had stripped one another of clothing as easily as they had stripped one another of inhibitions, as easily as the firelight stripped away the darkness.
He could remember the way that Ethan had thrown his head back, eyes wide open where one might have thought they would be closed, hair shinning both dark and orange-yellow as the fire danced behind him.
Ethan had been a sight, all his edges smoothed out to shadows and hollows and a soft flame-coloured gleam. He had moved like he was dancing, a slight sway to his motion as he shifted and pressed and flexed, and as the fire had touched the crown of the effigy they had made love like they hadn’t in a long time.
It had only been in those moments, after satisfaction (so much like bliss) had been attained and Ethan had sprawled ungainly out beside him that those deep brown eyes, which seemed to laugh at the world had closed.
Ethan hadn’t been laughing as he’d whispered that he loved him, before they gained enough of their senses again the modesty didn’t seem as much the passing fad that it had, and he hadn’t been laughing, when in those moments following that declaration of sorts, they had sworn to come back one day, no matter what life might throw between them.
Now, looking back, he wondered whether Ethan mightn’t have already begun making his plans.
But here he was again. 2002.
Several years later than he’d planned, admittedly, and in a different place, but here he was, lying on his back in the spiky brown desert grass, looking up at the stars that seemed so much brighter here that they ever had in London or Sunnydale.
His tent was some ten meters away. It was still hot right now, but the nights could be cruel.
A dry, almost acrid warm air blew in off the sand seeming determined to leach every last drop of moisture from his lungs.
Know what happens to vampires that can’t feed? Living skeletons mate.
The trick was to slow his breathing, rather than speed it up. That way it didn’t feel like every inhale did that much less than the last.
The sounds of Black Rock City unfurled around him, shutting out the natural noise of the desert at night. Pounding music, screams, laughter. People didn’t come here to sleep. Yet as far as he was concerned those people, those noises may as well have been in another dimension.
A few years ago, or maybe with company he would have been out there loosing himself in the throng of the temporary community, but right now he was only here for one real reason.
He could see the uncaring outline out the wooden man held high against the sunset, and all that he wanted to do was lose himself in his thoughts again.
He was here chasing a rumour, a whisper of a rumour even, just like last time.
Tomorrow morning he would meet up with someone who would lead him into the desert, where he would find out.
He hadn’t registered for a pass-out, but that meant little when he could use magic to slip through the gate.
He wasn’t sure what to hope for or what to expect, whether there would be one more member in their party on the way back out, or whether he would find out that Ethan had escaped from his little enforced stopover in Nevada years ago. Maybe he hadn’t even hung around long enough to get here. Or the other possibility, the one that had him waking night after night, hoping against it with every fibre of his being.
He honestly hadn’t planned for Ethan’s rescue and what would come after it, but he was willing to let himself hope. His most commonly occurring one was that in a few days time he would be cursing himself for his lack of usual foresight, and that he would be back here with his old partner in crime, to watch as the flames engulfed a new figure, and the past slights along with it.
He knew that it wouldn’t be that simple of course. If Ethan was here still then he wouldn’t be quite the same person as Giles had seen being taken away those three years ago. Time changed everyone, after all, and chaos, even more so. In fact change was the only real guaranty with chaos.
He hoped, against hope and practicality, and possibly against reality itself that he wouldn’t be coming back here alone, to watch as his dreams went up with the fire, and that his hopes and a few memories, and that chance to build things anew wouldn’t be drifting away with the smoke that would spread out across the desert.
He didn’t want to see anything more in his life turned to no more than so much dust in the wind.