Rupert Giles is 21, in London and in trouble. The recent death of Randall has scattered the remaining members of the magic group. Giles in particular, has been ignoring everyone - and sits alone in his bedsit. Ethan knows that out of all the old group, Giles had the most potential for performing dark magic, so - after an early evening out drinking by himself, he swaggers over to his place to call for him. Giles opens the door - hollow-eyed, and humorless at the sight of his scrawny friend.

"I thought I'd pop round for a little chat with my good friend," Ethan said warmly. He went to walk in, beginning to put his arm over Giles' shoulder. Giles stepped back and shrugged him off coldly; Ethan smelt like a brewery.

"Don't touch me"

"Why - Ripper, don't ya fancy going into town tonight then?"

"Ethan, I - I - I cant. Not tonight - leave me uh, alone. I want - to be alone."

Ethan smirked, his eyes glittering. "Don't tell me - you got bored of your new friends. I don't think you should ignore any friends - especially after a traumatic time. We should be together Ripper - helping each other through it -"

"Don't!" Giles pleaded, putting out his hand - he raised his head and glared, rising anger kindling in his eyes. "Don't.call me that, anymore. I don't-" He bit his lip and began to push the door closed. Ethan put out his foot, wedging it open. He noticed for the first time that the look of malice he'd seen Rupert so often turn on others - was now looking at him.

"Rupert, do you think you can hide from this - there's no going back mate - not to Mummy. And as for Daddy - well he'll, you know...?" Ethan grinned.

Giles stared menacingly. "He won't, because he'll never know!"

Ethan's grin grew wider, he leaned back against the stair banisters, scratching a goateed chin. "You so sure? Maybe someone might have told him about you, the sordid side of you that is, and those little visits to Soho- "

"And you too! You're worse, you - bastard."

Ethan raised his eyebrows in mock surprise. "Ooh harsh - at this rate you'll lose all your friends in one week, speaking to them like that! I can see what you need right now. You think you can cope without? C'mon Rupe! You know there's no other way-"

Suddenly Rupert lunged forward, viciously grabbing Ethan by the back of the head. Ethan paled at the mad eyes staring wildly at him, and the teeth clenched in silent, shaking rage.

Ethan swallowed. " Here he is! Ole Ripper of London Town! What you got then, eh?"

Rupert dragged Ethan closer until his mocking grimace almost met his pale thinned lips. Ethan blinked nervously, and swallowed. Giles wore several sharp rings on both hands, and he could hit hard. His tone was dangerously hushed.

"If I haven't already made it bleedin' obvious enough for you - I don't want to hang around with immature little Tossers anymore. You made your choice, I've now decided I don't like it, if you got a problem with that then don't come whingeing round me, you sick little shit."

With this he pushes Ethan out of the door, slamming it in his face. The bang caused Ethan to wince, but he continued to taunt him out loud, his voice echoing in the corridor.

"What you going to do Ripper - or is it Rupert Giles? Go religious, Wuuu- pert? Pray for redemption - say sorry? Oh, you know we're too far gone for that - remember you can't turn back!"

Giles ignored him. He slid down the wall, he hated himself more than Ethan. Rupert - the name of a cute cartoon bear; great. And the whole 'Farmer Giles' joke capped it all.

Realising he wasn't going to get any response to his mocking efforts, Ethan turned and began to swagger down the stairs; he'd call round again tomorrow, give him time to see sense. "If he don't, then there's always the option of a little bullying!" he reasoned with himself. "Not fists of course, that's too rough and Rupert-like." The forces he was thinking about were much more fun; and far less likely to result in broken knuckles.

The Ripper was crouching behind the door, visibly shaking, wearing the expression of a person who'd just been slapped hard across the face. The odd bit of crime here and there, smash up a few things, take stuff you fancy: like girls. Enjoy yourself - you're young Ripper - good looking. You got to live, no one can make you do anything.

But now you're a killer, ironic that is - another murderer renting in Whitechapel, lost, hated - an outsider. A No-one. That's too different - too wrong. He shivered, looked around his bedsit, a dark throw hung across one wall, another draped in front of the window, glass jars full of liquid sat atop a white wardrobe with imitation gold handles and mirrored doors. A guitar lay on an unmade bed with dusty volumes stacked next to it. A small rusty cooker in the opposite corner, dark brown tiles above a dripping sink, filled with washing up, set on a Formica cupboard. In the middle of the room sat a paraffin heater two chrome legged chairs buried in clothes and a small wooden table covered in musty textbooks. This was all he had.

'A shit-hole, just right for a bloke like me.' Giles sneered at it all and snuffed out a few candles burning on saucers. He flung on his jacket, checked in his pocket for cigarettes, slammed the door and clattered down the metal stairs.

So if you're already there; go then, and live in the gutter, live with the rats. He smiled, his breath clouding in the icy air. He took a pair of pink shades out of a pocket, and put them on, then searched out his packet of fags. He struck a match and lit one.

Nothing like raw excitement to kill fear.

2

The multi-storey's lights flickered, Giles' shadow travelled along a graffitied wall. Cortinas, Minors, Heralds, mmm a Stag, might be a last resort. But - in the sickly light he spotted the type of car he loved so much. One that could make him feel happy, just for a moment. He tweaked it, slipped in, wired it and it roared. He smiled mischievously, glancing briefly in the Jensen's rearview mirror to drag back his bleached hair. So stupid to leave a car like this in a public car park at night.

"Hey - HEY!"

The shout made Giles pale. You must go on because you can't turn back. That's what it meant to run away.

'Ah crap, a Pig on the beat. All I need to end this Fucking clement day!'

Flicking the fag-end out the window he reversed out then spun the wheels, leaving the copper and two snaking black lines behind.

Even with his foot down he knew now fleeing was quite pointless, always was when you took things too far. Half a mile down the road he lost the back end at a junction. Poor traction on the frosty tarmac. The engine roared as the back wheels hit the kerb. The car found some grip and shot forward into a wall with a loud bang.

All was numb, Giles nose prickled and his eyes wouldn't focus. He turned off the engine. His nose felt blocked, his fingers went up to feel his face, and found it sticky. He swallowed, feeling his whole body's temperature plummet and his skin go clammy. His hands shook as a policeman dragged him out of the car and handcuffed him on the bonnet. Pain then took over his body; he didn't notice all the people staring, their voices seemed muffled.

Sitting in the back of the car shivering uncontrollably he watched little black dots floating around before he finally passed out.

He had his nose cleaned up and straightened before they put him in a cell. His father found him eventually and picked him up. They drove slowly home in silence, faces showing opposite emotions, one haunted and ashen, a bloodstained shirt hiding a body nervous and jumpy; the other wore a mask cold and steely, only the grey eyes staring at the road offered a glimpse of emotion; relief. Alistair knew that his son had finally come home to him.

3

Giles' parents were firmly middle class, and had recently moved out of the London suburbs, 'to get away from the noise and humdrum' so Mr. Giles preferred to say. They now lived in a quiet gravel-drived smallholding surrounded by cornfields in Berkshire, with a double garage, and a garden complete with greenhouse, sheds, a few chickens and geese, and a decent sized vegetable patch. It all looked pretty bleak and muddy at this time of year. It was one of those short winter days when the light was so poor it never quite managed to banish the greyness.

Mr. Giles, a very loud, strict mannered man, stood at the living room window, one hand in a brown jacket pocket, eyes firmly staring out into the garden. Hardly ever seen out of a suit, he was in one now. His face was slightly flushed, as if his temper had been roused.

"For God's sake dad - just bloody - SHUT up?!" Giles slumped down onto a chair and stared at the fireplace, pretending he didn't care. He had used milder words than he was going to, but they still caused a lot of damage. His father's tone was of rising anger.

"Rupert - you well know that I had as little choice when I was your age. I thought myself lucky to have been a Watcher and not to be drafted out to France. And you, your generation should feel nothing but gratitude owing your lives-"

"Don't bring war into it! You always bring that up - what am I supposed to do? Grovel all my life - say , oh, I'm sor-ry? SO-RRY - dead people out there!"

Giles heard the familiar sharp intake of breath, and knew what was coming. He looked away and pretended to scratch his nose. He'd seen enough of the stupid bulging eyes.

"I wish I could have been proud of you, Rupert! You are ONE step away from me dragging you out that door by the scruff of your neck-"

"Bloody Hell Dad!"

"I shouldn't have to remind you to watch your language while you're in my house! And as for the hair and those scruffy clothes." Alistair's face had reddened with anger, his brow furrowed into the grooves of habit. "GIVE - ME - STRENGTH!"

"Alistair, please calm down," reasoned a soft voice from a nearby chair. Mrs. Giles detested arguments, her hazel eyes stared over a pair of small reading glasses at her husband, but he refused to look back at them.

"May, HOW can I calm down while trying to get through to this, this here.wearing a chain round his neck like some kind of - of vicious rottweiler!" Alistair ranted, gesturing wildly toward his son.

She sighed and set down her book. "You aren't getting anywhere, just like before, shouting isn't going to make anyone listen to you, let alone your son." May's was always the calming voice of reason. Giles took this chance to get up and quickly slip out of the room. His father went to pursue him, but Giles was swift in his fear, and slammed the living room door in his face. Alistair snatched the handle, and rattled it frantically, but Rupert was jamming it upwards.

"GOD DAMN IT RUPERT! YOU STUPID, STUPID LITTLE BOY! - LET GO BEFORE I COME IN THERE AND WRING YOUR FLAMING NECK!" Alistair gave a final wrench, then clenched his fist and thumped the door savagely.

"ALISTAIR! LET HIM GO!" His wife shrilled. Her husband glanced round, quivering, and sneered at her. She stared until he released his grip on the door handle, then suggested persuasively, "Have you considered that it's us making him what he is?"

"Oh, rubbish!" he snapped wildly, marching to the window.

"No dear! He never knew the war, you can't expect him to want to hear all the waffle about our past when all that's important to him is his future."

"Well?" spat Alistair, turning around to face her.

"Well! He's a young man Alistair, full of it. You were there once - remember?" May's eyes questioned him, her mouth thin with the routine of worry.

Alistair's voice softened after a bitter sigh. 'I, I was brought up with rules, with discipline. Table manners, chores, rotas, was set targets. You tell me to go easy on the boy - I tell you he has had it easier than I did - one squeak of complaint and I had the belt!' He dabbed at his perspiring forehead with a handkerchief. "Real fear May: the only thing which keeps a Giles lad in check, and though it was hard at the time it stopped me from straying to evil.' He crossed the room and opened the door. May pursed her lips, incredulous.

Alistair continued in a forced whisper. 'I do not hold it against my father - how can I - for I am still alive now, and at my age I do not bear such guilt as my son already does - at less than half my years! I barely recognised him yesterday, May - he - he - has changed himself into one of those - bleached, moronic thugs!" He set his jaw.

"A bad crowd, Alistair, will tempt any young naïve person - I know the Giles temperament will always be naturally good. Rupert is simply frustrated - and afraid, and I think it's because of us. Different times, my dear - I know he is sorry that he can't understand your way of seeing things." May set down her glasses, paused, and concluded sadly, "I don't think children are meant to."

A door clicked.

"Dad-"

Hope sparked in Alistair's eyes at the gentle tone of his son's voice. A quick smile flashed across his lips.

Something dripped on the kitchen floor. A second drip landed beside it.

"I, I - I'm sorry."

Mr. Giles forgave him on the spot. He really and truly was; for the first time in six years his son had spoken those words as if he meant them. Alistair turned in apprehension.

He saw a young man leaning against the door-frame, shivering and deadly pale. Red-rimmed eyes focused on the floor, his right hand clasping his left wrist, attempting to slow the loss of blood, trickling down his fingers, dripping on the tiles.

"I really w-wanted to - but, I - c-c - please, please help me."

Father and son stared at each other. The former set his jaw again, he was fighting many emotions, now should be the time to offer love, but he didn't know how. His dismay at realising this gave way to much frustration and finally anger. He bit his lip and sat down quickly in shock. He'd never seen Rupert look so afraid, but he was quite unable to help.

May stared wide eyed at her husband and tutted. He felt invisible.

"Rupert, come on, over to the sink while I get something to stop the bleeding."

Alistair looked away and wringing his hands, looked on as his wife dressed the wound. Years of suppressing emotions had shaped him into this once desirable ideal. A weathered and durable outside ensuring all worries ran off him like harmless raindrops. The hard lines set on his face synonymous with manly strength.

But his inner self was gradually crumbling away, for everything he did was restricted by the weight of this clumsy armor. Convention had changed, but his mind had long lost the will and power to free itself - it was too weak to cry out now.

There was a jingle as May picked up the car keys. "I am just taking Rupert to hospital, Alistair."

He looked at the carpet, as once again, he couldn't think how to reply, and so he sat there frustrated and impotent in the gloom.

After watching the car go up the drive and turn into the road, Alistair rose, crossed the room slowly to a glass-fronted oak cabinet, picked up a large decanter and poured himself a large measure of Scotch. He swallowed it in one and poured himself another.

Affection to frustration to anger to drink. This was the routine in the Giles' household. But only the last three emotions were ever recalled in Rupert Giles' memories of his father.

4

Giles was trying to avoid Ethan. He thought he could escape him out on his parents smallholding - Ethan disliked the countryside (- a long story). But living with his father quickly became unbearable. His mother suggested that he should go and visit his grandmother for a while. Giles didn't mind Nan, she was clever - but never set unreachable standards for him as her son did. And anyhow, he had nowhere else to go.

Pru Giles had been widowed five years. She was now near eighty years old, but still very sharp and independent. She lived in the old family home in Suffolk, and being an ex watcher had a respectable collection of dusty leather-bound volumes on demonology and the occult. It was while staying at her house that Giles found the motivation to study properly for the first time in his life. It was not the paroxysmal fear of his father that pushed him on, but the guilt of his mistakes.

He also discovered actual enjoyment for learning, which had been long stifled under peer group pressure. Pru never judged her grandson, she gave him time and space, along with a few strategic books placed where he would see them. In time even Pru was surprised at his change. Away from all his causes of frustration here was developing a remarkably kind and intelligent person. She secretly began to hope that with Rupert, she could more than make up for all Alistair's failings.

Where he had learnt most driving skills from joyriding, Rupert now learnt to drive properly in his Nan's battered Citroen. With growing enthusiasm he learnt more and more from the books, and also from non-mystic books borrowed from the local library. It was while sitting reading in this library one summer afternoon that Ethan found him standing in an aisle, glasses in one hand and a book in the other. Giles became aware that a sarcastic voice was cutting into his reading of chapter sixteen of Eurasian Necromancy, and it caused him to jump.

"Nice, I'm sure. Is this what you really want Rupert? Strange - You know, all this suffering such a sudden and dramatic change syndrome. Or, maybe it's just one of those lovely born-again miracle cases, eh? Mmm, But do tell me - either ain't healthy!"

A pair of thin lips smiled because Giles recalled their tones immediately. The book he was reading slapped shut and the young man allowed a menacing shadow to cloud his face, and narrow his eyes.

"Oh, hang on a minute. Hallelujah, maybe I was wrong. That face definitely don't look like it's repenting-"

Rupert got up, trying to hide his glower, and began putting the books carefully back on the shelves, away from the leering mouth.

"Go away Ethan, I - I've, nothing more to say to you."

"You know Rupert, however many disguises you try on, there will always be the same YOU underneath. I can see Ripper clearly through your eyes, he's a bit dusty, but I think he really, really wants to kick my head in!"

"I've no desire to stoop that low, anymore, Ethan, I told you. I'm finished with spontaneous idiocy, now get out of my sight." He turned the corner briskly and began to walk down another aisle.

"Such an act you've got going here, Rupe. I'm deeply impressed by all the extra syllables, and the new accent," he remarked more loudly, hustling him. Ethan bent forward and whispered close to his ear. "Hang on a moment, now could that be the one you picked up while at Oxford?"

Ethan got the reaction he wanted. Giles' head snapped round and inclined toward him. His eyes peered. "Who told you that?"

"I'm not telling you anything if you won't explain why you are standing in the demonology section of this library if you have nothing more to do with it!" Ethan snapped back. Giles was aware they were getting some really funny glances from some old people nearby.

"I - I-" Giles stammered, "I need it for a project," he finished lamely.

"I have more gossip to share with the library Rupert, and you are a terrible liar."

"Outside, now!" Giles whispered hoarsely, and grabbed hold of Ethan's arm dragging him stumbling downstairs, past queues of people all staring, all arms full of books. Ethan tried to persuade him.

"Listen, Rupert - I know I tend to feel like having a little bit of fun now and then. And you and me - we did some pretty top spells in our time, didn't we? We fair ripped it up, actually! You just can't admit that you, are - lets face it, a complete madman. You'll always have it if I'm here - I won't let you forget! Ahhh!"

Giles was twisting his arm round threateningly. Outside he pulled him around the side of the library, yanking Ethan almost off his feet. He gathered up his shirt and with both hands lifted him clear off the ground and began to crush him to the wall.

"Ahh!" Ethan wheezed. "Jeeze - you're a - a -"

"I'm a better person!" Giles finished wildly, with murderous eyes. "I am!"

"No! - You must see - !"

"I've seen!" he cried. "Ethan, I've fucking seen! And killed Randy, and broken my nose, stole and crashed cars, messed up lives and I've paid for it! What - what more do you expect me to do, you stupid idiot!"

"You're powerful - gone too far - you're too dangerous! - Ouch! - And you'll be killing me too if you don't - AGH! Stop! Stop - PLEASE!"

"I listened to your ideas, Ethan, for too long!" was Giles' pained response. He let go, and Ethan dropped to the floor winded, he curled up, quietly gasping his breath back.

But when he finally opened his eyes, Giles had disappeared.