Secret Slasha – The Buffy the Vampire Slayer & Angel Slash Fanfiction Secret Santa Project
Secret Slasha – The Buffy the Vampire Slayer & Angel Slash Fanfiction Secret Santa Project

And All That Could Have Been
By Kat M.
For A Secret Slasha Dropout

Giles considers making a cup of tea. In fact he walks, almost mechanically, in the direction of the kettle, but finds himself reaching up to the cupboard where he keeps the malt. Definitely something stronger required.

He pours himself a generous measure, and then returns, with the bottle, to the message pad beside the phone.

Where, upon answering it, he has routinely scribbled down the beginnings of the message:

Gerrard & Co. Solicitors.
16a Farrier St, Guildford, Surrey
Weds 17th Mar. 10.00am.
Take ID.
Reading of last will and test. of Eth...

There the writing stops, as the words have registered.

Last will and testament.

Ethan is dead.


Rupert feels lost yet exhilarated when he first arrives in the capital. Even though every intricate detail of the plan he had mapped out for his future is gone, this instils in him less a sense of fear, and more a sense of liberation. Finally, he is master of his own destiny -- no more stuffy lecturers and tutors telling him what to do and when to do it. It's not the work that he minds so much; he quite enjoys pouring over books and ancient scrolls and that sort of thing -- he has been told that he has an eye for detail. What he hates is not being able to decide for himself what books to study. He has always had a passion for the occult, and the few times he has brought such historical evidence into his essays, they have been met with contempt and ridicule. Here in London he can immerse himself in sorcery -- and he intends to.

Their acquaintance at first is one built out of convenience. They frequent the same library and the same magic shop and sooner or later they strike up a conversation. They discover that they have mutual interests and so the bond strengthens, until they find themselves turning to one another for social purposes at most available opportunities. Rupert likes how Ethan is always so sure in everything he says; he likes how Ethan's sense of fun so greatly overpowers his sense of responsibility; he likes that Ethan includes Rupert in his superiority complex.

"You and I, Rupert, we could really be something" Ethan says one day as they find themselves inevitably whiling away the hours at a local pub, the more interesting side of intoxicated. Rupert wants to believe that Ethan means something more than he does - that the two of them have something more going for them than a shared love of magic and the dark arts. But it is too soon for such flights of fancy.

They've spent the majority of the evening talking about their dreams of making their mark on the world - of doing something that will truly make themselves known, or at least give them the ultimate buzz. They know of the most dangerous and forbidden rituals but confess to one another that they've never really had the courage or resources to carry through on them. As they grow progressively drunker, the idea of spending the night concocting one such trial seems more and more palatable, and inevitably they find themselves wandering around London in the dead of night, scraping together the required resources.

Rupert feels terrified and yet more macho than he has ever felt before, tearing around the capital city with this vibrant and dangerous young man as they throw caution and law to the wind. Until now he has been mainly ensconced only in research and investigation: the theoretical side of dark power. But Ethan isn't afraid - with Rupert's brains and methodical diligence and his own command and daredevil extroversion, he states, they could be formidable. They could be lords of chaos.

But Rupert doesn't want to be the analyst, the geek in the shadows whilst Ethan gets all the glory and the takes all the risks. He has to prove that he can be just as tough, just as reckless. That he's not afraid to push the boundaries.

A sacrifice.

Ethan's eyes light up at the prospect. Rupert feels a surge of pride at his suggestion, at having impressed Ethan. He pictures them standing together in the midst of a dark storm, atop a great hill, a writhing animal strapped to a stone table as he raises his dagger high above his head, then plunges it deep into the creature's soft exposed underside. In his fantasy, Ethan stands by, reverent and humbled.

Of course the reality is far different -- Rupert scrambling across a muddy field, scattering sheep in every direction whilst Ethan yells encouragement from the sidelines. When, eventually, he manages to capture one, it is a weak and injured lamb. Rupert suppresses the side of his conscience that is screaming at him not to hurt an innocent, but the testosterone and the desire to display his fearless might in front of his companion win out. Setting his jaw and looking Ethan in the eye (all the time avoiding looking directly at what he is doing), he slashes at the creature's throat with his penknife until its wriggling and excruciating screaming subside. He emerges bloodstained and grinning maniacally, the corpse hanging limply from his outstretched hand, as he tries to ignore the sick feeling slipping through his gut.

Ethan emits a sound which, on a girl, would have been a coquettish giggle. Rupert has never felt more masculine. "You look like a serial killer" he states, encouraging Rupert to raise his knife once again with a snarl.

Ethan lets forth a mock blood-curdling scream, yelling, "help! I'm being savagely attacked by Rupert the Ripper!" He tumbles towards Ethan and it almost feels as though they should kiss. Instead Ethan bats away his bloodstained hands, and the moment is lost.

He drops the sacrifice, their plan forgotten as they stumble home in drunken camaraderie. But the name sticks.


Giles stares blankly ahead, the faintest hint of a smile on his lips as he fondly recalls the foundations of one of the most significant affiliations of his life. The whiskey is doing nothing to ease the shaking of his hands, and unevenly he pours himself another.

He turns around suddenly as though expecting someone to walk in - of course there is nobody. Having returned to England once again following the demise (well, total obliteration) of his second home, he lives alone in a small bungalow in Berkshire.

Maybe it had crossed his mind to one day retrace his roots; track down his old pal; see if old bonds could be repaired. He doesn't know as he had explicitly considered this - more that he hadn't ruled it out. One of those ideas one just puts to the back of one's mind as something that can one day be addressed - plenty of time for that down the track.

Of course now there isn't any more track. And they never will get the chance to salvage the tatters of their old friendship.


He hasn't been to Ethan's flat too many times. Each time he thinks he gets a little more nervous -- to be surrounded by everything Ethan, to breathe him in and scrutinise his possessions, it feels almost perverse. Usually they meet somewhere neutral, where Ripper can pretend that Ethan isn't in control of all of this. That he isn't just a collection of reactions to Ethan's every whim. But here in Ethan's room, it feels like the ultimate submission.

Ethan regales him with arrogance and opinionated assertions about the world, their place in it, and the dark arts. He likes that word. Arts. It underlines the elements of skill and creativity in what they have begun to do together -- the poetic rituals and passionate expression of the forces that Ethan believes they have managed to capture from the ether and channel into their rebellion. Forces that Ripper is more convinced come from within, and from the electricity he feels between them.

Ripper leans back on a beanbag, his mind heavy with whiskey, and lets the words wash over him. The sound of Ethan's voice is enough to fill his concentration completely; absorbed in every tone and inflection until the words lose all significance and it is just a glorious mass of sound. Mostly he keeps his eyes shut, but sometimes he opens them to gaze upon that beautifully sculptured and animated face, watching the way his enthusiasm gives the young man a kind of a glow. Or maybe that's the alcohol. He knows that Ethan is interpreting his attention as admiration, and in a way it is.

With a burst of energy, Ethan leaps up and changes the record. Ripper shifts a little on the beanbag, making sure there is enough room for Ethan to join him if he so wishes. He also holds up the whiskey bottle, willing Ethan to walk over to him. Ethan comes over and takes it, wobbling precariously whilst looming over Ripper and taking a long swig. Ripper throws his arms behind his head and stretches, in what he hopes is a nonchalant gesture. He is leaving himself open to Ethan.

Hi companion leans over him to replace the whiskey bottle back in Ripper's hand, their fingers touching briefly, and for a moment he can smell Ethan's breath, feel the warmth coming from his skin. Alcohol has slowed Ripper's reactions though, and before he has the chance to act, Ethan has collapsed back on the bed.

Ripper sighs. For all the danger and excitement they talk about ensconcing themselves in, nothing gives him more of a high, more of an adrenaline rush, than being close to Ethan. Soon enough he hears the rhythmic pulse of Ethan's laboured breathing, and knows that his friend is asleep. He stays to observe this perfect form for a while before the longing becomes unbearable, and he slopes off into the night.


Even now the memories stir something in him - something augmented by the smooth toxin that glides so easily down his throat and numbs the unbearable pain of the realisation that he will never see Ethan again. His skin prickling, he recalls the warmth of their bodies side by side; the radiance of Ethan's devilish naivety in the days when they were just a mischievous pair of youths dissenting from society's impositions.

The days before everything took a turn for the worse.


The gang's strength is increasing. Having recruited new members and branched out with their experimentation, they are beginning to know both collectively and as individuals the kind of power that blazes through the legacies in the books of which Ripper is so fond. They have a purpose to their mission now -- Ethan has discovered Chaos, and the entity seems to embody everything the group of students represents. Privately, Ripper still holds reservations about pursuing such a catastrophic force, but he is not ready yet to allow anything to come between himself and his idol.

Ripper's not sure how much he really likes being part of a group -- as much as it increases their efficiency and daring, he misses the days when it was just him and Ethan. With Ethan being the vibrant character he is, everyone in the group is drawn to him as a natural leader, vying for his attention, and sometimes Ripper finds it difficult to contain his jealousy. He can sense the rivalry within the group, and is ashamed to admit that he is a part of it. He knows that he is fast "running off the rails" as they say, and he does feel a certain amount of shame for this. The guilt itself though isn't enough to compensate for his need to better the others, to be the champion of anarchy that Ethan will admire beyond all else.

Ripper feels the need to bring those days back. He devotes as much time as he can (without sacrificing any chances to spend time with Ethan) to researching phenomena of the most dangerous order that they will be able to share together -- something that no-one else will dare to try.

He discovers Eyghon late one night in a library in Kensington (which he has broken into after all the staff have left, having heard rumours about their private collection on the occult). Unable to contain his excitement upon reading about how to channel the demon and the great high it gives off, he steals the book and takes it straight round to Ethan's. Ethan answers the door, clearly having been awoken by Ripper's urgent enthusiasm, in just a pair of shorts. Momentarily, Ripper is distracted. Inviting him in, Ethan clothes himself in a dressing gown, and (slightly disappointed) Ripper tells him of his discovery.

Even in his bleary, sleep-addled state, Ethan is impressed - his eyes take on that glint of mischievous anticipation that so becomes him, and Ripper feels a surge of pride at his finding. This, surely, will be something to bring the two of them closer together - a private ecstasy that they alone will share, elevating them to the state of great sorcerers and black magicians. They agree to reconvene the following evening to embark on their adventure.

Ripper finds it hard to conceal his disappointment the next day, when he turns up to find that Ethan has invited the rest of the gang. He considers taking Ethan to the side and expressing his outrage, but what good will it do? He doesn't wish to alienate himself from the young man - the whole purpose of this exercise was to unite the two of them and re-establish their exclusive bond. He grits his teeth and takes his place in the circle, to begin the ritual. After all, they can't do it without him.


No, no this isn't right. This isn't what he wants to be remembering at all. Of course, now all that floods his mind are the bad memories, snowballing out of control as they themselves did all those years ago.

He doesn't want to remember this. Not now. He stands and paces to the wall and back trying to clear his mind, but it is too clouded by alcohol and unwanted recollections to grant him this mercy.

The memories keep hurtling towards him like an oncoming train, rattling his trembling body further so that he has to take his seat again. He removes his glasses and applies pressure to his eyeballs, but it is no good. He can still see so clearly the faces of his companions, the looks of abject terror and perplexity as the convulsions seized their comrade and forced them to abort the procedure the only way they knew how.

He doesn't want to be thinking about this. But he can't make it go away. Perhaps this is his penance for his lack of remorse at the time.


He wants to hate himself. To reprimand himself for such wanton disregard for another's life - worse - gaining from its demise. Randall was his friend, or at least a member of his cohort, and he should be mourning for him. He should be paying respects, learning from their mistake, taking in the gravity of the situation and vowing to turn over a new leaf... he should care that Randall is dead.

And he does. Sort of.

Randall's death has affected them all very adversely, but none more so than Ethan. Technically, Ethan is responsible for what happened - he was the only one who knew of Randall's epilepsy, the only one who should have recognised the signs of the seizure and terminated the ritual. Ethan doesn't express sorrow very easily; he has always claimed haughtily that he is not so weak as to be in possession of a conscience, and he will not make apology for anything or anyone. Ripper recognises the signs of Ethan's guilt however, even though he can't express it.

His friend becomes increasingly moody and irritable, taking offence at the slightest things, and often spending great periods of prickly silence in Ripper's presence, refusing all offers of help or distraction. He becomes increasingly opinionated, outspoken and generally rude, wearing his arrogance almost tangibly, like a protective cloak.

Ripper knows it is all a defence mechanism. Just occasionally that guard comes down, and he catches a glimpse of the real Ethan. From time to time, Ethan lets him in, and lets him comfort him like a small boy. This is why Ripper can never really be sorry that Randall has gone: his fall is what has allowed Ripper this truly unique position. And although Ethan drives him up the wall most of the time, although the pain of his constant rejection sears him so much sometimes that he wants to tear out his own heart, there is no compensation greater to him than their few fleeting moments of connection.

The other members of the gang are not so tolerant. Since what happened, there has been no more summoning of Eyghon, and they all wear their sleeves long to cover up their symbols. Their meetings have become infrequent and awkward, and there is considerable unrest amongst them which Ripper is not sure is down to grief so much as the dread of getting into real trouble. Officially Randall's death is an accident, but that doesn't prevent them from panicking that the truth, or at least a more palatable version of it, will emerge.

This fear has morphed into blame, and that blame is directed at Ethan. Their respect for him as their leader has turned into impugning contempt. Ripper shamefully encourages this, and joins in their condemnation behind Ethan's back - partly out of frustration for the way Ethan treats him most of the time, and partly because he wants to encourage the split that will leave Ethan isolated and dependent on him.

Ethan himself falls back heavily on the two things he knows he can rely on - alcohol and Chaos. Ripper almost resents that too many times now he has had to bail Ethan out of drunken mistakes and invoked catastrophes, but he says nothing. Gradually, he is beginning to realise that the man he held as his hero is nothing more than a screwed up adolescent, playing with forces he doesn't understand. Ripper is the one with the real knowledge and power; Ethan is merely a pathetic shadow of his own reputation.

And God help him, more often than not, Ripper finds it endearing. He lives for the moments that Ethan admits, in his drunken haze, that he needs his comrade. The moments that he allows the two of them to lean on each other, brush up against each other, sleep in a bed together (under the pretence that Ethan is in such a state he needs to be watched throughout the night). Ripper never sleeps.

What was once his idol, is now his dependant. When it suits him.


It is only when he polishes and replaces his glasses that Giles realises that he has been crying. Removing them again, he wipes his eyes inelegantly with the back of his hand, which only serves to bring about an uncontrollable sob.

He doesn't know whether that was the best time of his young life, or the worst. At that time it was all still the unknown -- sometimes Ethan would give him the impression that his feelings ran deeper than he could express; other times it was hard to believe he was anything but the callous, selfish boy that he characterised. It was the fact that he kept him guessing though, that made it all worth while.

A part of him has always hoped that one day Ethan would repent, would come to him and admit that all those years ago he really did have feelings that he was afraid to express. Feelings that he couldn't declare at the time, because Ethan is a coward.

Was a coward.

Shaking his head violently and commanding himself to pull himself together, he fills his glass to the brim.

Of course, it soon became apparent that Ethan genuinely cared for nobody but himself. Feeling the familiar old anger rise again, Giles balls up his shaking fist and presses it down hard into the table.

He remembers the moment he gave up hope.


Ripper is turning his friend into an alcoholic. He knows it. The only time he ever gets more than smarmy indifference from Ethan now is when he is under the influence, and for this reason he keeps plying him with whiskey. He is slowly killing the man he loves.

One for me, two for you...

Three sheets to the wind.

Ethan sits, legs splayed, head lolling back against the back of the sofa, staring up at the ceiling. He half mumbles some incoherent incantations, but whatever they are supposed to invoke fails to appear, and in frustration Ethan hurls his glass at the floor by Ripper's feet, spilling dregs of whiskey onto his bare toes.

"I want to go out."

Ripper carefully bends down to pick up the discarded glass, and sighs.

"Fine." He drags Ethan up by the arm, the other man clambering ungracefully to his feet and blinking in bewildered drowsiness.

"Where are we going?"

Ripper sighs again. He is getting fed up with this - once again they will stumble around the city like plebeian, drunken youths whilst Ethan performs mindless acts of petty vandalism under the pretence that he is summoning Chaos, and he, Ripper, as the mature and sensible one will be left to pick up the pieces.

"Out. You said you wanted to go out."

Ethan takes a few seconds to catch up, and then beams a smile at Ripper that almost makes him forget his irritability.

"Excellent. We can pick up some totty, and..." Ripper cuts him off, unable to counter the jealousy he feels that Ethan isn't satisfied by him alone.

"You're not in a fit state to be picking up litter, let alone women."

Ethan blinks before bursting out in hysterical laughter.

"You an' me, Ripper, we're like... a duet. No, a duo." He pauses in concentration, considering this. "The one that means a pair of dangerous men. Fighting crime and whatnot. Except not fighting it, more... instigating it." He lurches forward, wrapping his arms around Ripper's neck, almost causing the pair of them to topple over.

Ripper plants his hands firmly on the other man's waist, pulling him upright so that they are facing each other. Ethan's arms are still around his neck, and they gaze at each other for what feels to Ripper like an eternity. Eventually the moment gets too intense, and reluctantly he looks away.

"I thought you were going to kiss me then." Ethan smirks, and Ripper feels his skin flush crimson. He cannot tell from Ethan's expression whether or not this is an invitation: his friend's arms are still around his neck, their bodies still almost entwined. Cautiously, he takes a risk.

"What if I had?" he enquires with sincerity, and for a moment he thinks Ethan is going to respond as he has always hoped...

Instead his earnestness is met with cruel laugher.

"Don't be a fairy, Ripper. C'mon, where we going?"

Spurned, Ripper's embarrassment grows further, and he breaks away, incensed.

"I don't want to do this any more." Ripper crosses his arms over his chest, defiantly defensive.

"What?" Ethan asks, confused.

This is it. All the tension, the doubt and resentment that has been building up over the past year has filled him up to overflowing, and he can't contain it any longer. Spurred on by humiliation, he regards Ethan with the most contempt he ever has in his life.

"This. I don't want to do it. I'm fed up with covering for your childish little escapades. I'm fed up with being your bloody lapdog whilst you prance around getting your ya-yas from behaving like a total prick, always counting on me to sort it out for you. You don't even have a clue you're doing it do you?"

Ethan stares at him blankly, still trying to process this unanticipated little mutiny.

"Face it Ethan, you rely on me. You like to think you're the big shot, you're this anarchical lord of chaos, when in reality you're nothing. Even though they've all left you except parade around as though you own the place."

"I do own the place, Ripper," Ethan points out reasonably, "you're in my flat."

The quip only serves to enrage Ripper further. He continues, jabbing his finger accusatorily at the inebriated young man before him.

"You think the whole world revolves around you don't you? I suppose what makes it worse is that I grant you that indulgence. And for what? You're a pathetic little waste of space, Ethan Rayne. You're at best a... a mediocre sorcerer -- really you only know the simplest of tricks and more often than not you get those wrong." He crosses his arms in admonishment, pausing for breath.

"Most of the time I have to help you out with achieving anything of substance, and even then whatever brainless little endeavour it is you're trying to accomplish inevitably goes wrong and guess who it always is who has to undo all the damage?"

Struggling to follow his companion's train of castigation, Ethan allows himself again to smirk. A furious Ripper flushes a deeper shade of purple in vexation, now practically screaming.

"What the bloody hell do you think you're laughing at? You think it's clever to engage in what can only be described as puerile mischief to the benefit of nobody? Look in the mirror Ethan, and for once try not to get side-tracked into narcissistic self-admiration. You're twenty-two. And the greatest skill you possess is the ability to bugger everything up and run away. Hardly chaos, is it? On a good day, you're a meddlesome, cowardly nitwit."

His piece said, he turns away to storm out with dignity before the hot tears stinging the backs of his eyes bring themselves to the forefront and humiliate him further.

Behind him, Ethan blinks a couple of times, and then topples backwards dispassionately onto the beanbag, grasping and raising his whiskey bottle in mock toast.

"Be seeing you then, Ripper."

Resolutely, Rupert Giles does not turn around.

"No Ethan, you won't."

He closes the door behind him.


Bitterly, Giles clumsily raises his own full glass in toast, spilling the scotch carelessly over the side and onto his message pad. The ink detailing Ethan's post-mortem financial arrangements blurs as the liquid seeps into the paper.

He echoes his own words of some two and a half decades earlier.

No Ethan. You won't.