By: D M Evans

Written for the Ripper ficathon for Malora (story requirements at the end)

Disclaimer - The characters whose names you don't know, those are mine and I still don't make any money off of them. The world, and major characters all belonged to Mr. Whedon was we all well know and thank you for letting us borrow them for non-profit play.

Rating - R for sexual situations and other excesses of the 1970's. (i.e. if swing sex and drug use are offensive to you, please feel free to skip)

Spoilers - zip, it's set in the late 1970's (when exactly is up in the air since we're never told exactly how old Giles is)

Feedback - if you'd please, I'd be so happy.

Summary - In the aftermath of Eyghon, Ripper and his spellcasting friends head to America after something of great magically value.

Author's Note #1 - This story is based off of events in The Dark Age and works on the premise that Ethan, Giles and Deirdre didn't part company immediately upon Randall's death. It also takes place on 'holiday' in the States because what I know and could easily research on England in the 70's was too slim to support a story.

Author's Note #2 - Thanks to S J for the last minute beta.

Author's Note #3 - Studio 54 as I'm sure most of us know was a real place. Here's a url for the curious (word of warning it has a large midi file that loads up automatically and takes forever even with a cable modem).

Sleepy Hollow Cemetery is also very real and you can find more on it here Note also that North Tarry Town is no longer called that. It's now called Sleepy Hollow but that didn't happen until 1997.

The title came from The Grateful Dead's Dark Star.


Rupert felt adrift, wanting to just be empty, to silence his mind and allow himself to have fun. However, all he could think of was Randall and how Eyghon shredded him from within. Worse, he suspected their exorcism spell was to blame for that. Hubris, it had been a favored downfall since humans had put stylus to clay. It had certainly laid his group of friends low.

Rupert wished he knew what he was doing in the United States. It felt like running away. Ethan called it exploring, said he had heard of a spell book that could give them incredible powers. He made the pursuit of this item sound like so much fun that Rupert couldn't say no. They needed fun, Ethan had insisted, always looking at Rupert when he made that declaration.

For Rupert, the trip to America wasn't about finding some damn book. It was about finding parts of himself he had shunted aside, the parts that reined in the darkness within. Nothing would bring Randall back, but maybe he could find a way to free himself from the guilt, at least enough so he could function. Rupert had begun to doubt himself, his life style, his friends.

Deirdre hung on Ethan's arm as they walked through Central Park, gawking like tourists. None of them had been in the States before. The sheer size of the country, and the city, too, for that matter, was overwhelming. New York City, with its hoards of people, felt a little like London, comforting in its own way.

Rupert slid his arm around Gemma's waist. She was never part of the Eyghon group, other than as one of those taking advantage of the sexual energy the possessed brought with him to the orgy. She was a good mage, but not into demon raising. For her own sake, it was a good thing, he decided. It might mean she'd be around for a little longer than foolhardy prats like Ethan and he would be. Rupert liked having her around.

"So, where are we going to find this book?" Deirdre slipped an arm around Ethan's waist.

"I don't know exactly." Ethan shrugged, turning to look at a gaggle of girls in hot pants passing by.

Rupert eyed him sourly. "I thought you knew. Isn't that why we came to the bloody States?"

"I know the grimoire's here, but I don't know exactly where," Ethan admitted.

"So you dragged us here on a wing and a prayer?" Gemma arched one dark feathery eyebrow.

"More than that. I know someone who's had contact with the current owner of the grimoire. She's here in the city and even if it turns out to be a bust, we're having a holiday in the States. Who can argue with that?" Ethan asked brightly.

Rupert found he couldn't argue with that. He desperately needed a recharge. He was just lucky that the Watchers hadn't become aware of what he, Ethan and their friends had been doing with Eyghon. They might have sent the Special Ops to deal with them, and Rupert understood the danger of that. He could only imagine his parents' reaction should they ever find out. He didn't want to cause his mother that kind of heartache.

"Penny for your thought," Gemma said, giving him a hip bump.

Rupert smiled at her. She was a particularly fine looking young lady, slender with enough curves to be interesting, a long fall of walnut hair and crystalline blue eyes. Looking at her in her Bohemian, black gauze, handkerchief shirt and poppy-printed bell bottoms, Rupert didn't really want to be wandering around in the hot sun. Home, under the covers having it off, that sounded more appealing. Gemma was pure sex on a stick.

"They're probably deep, dark thoughts," Ethan said. "Those are the only kinds Ripper has these days."

Rupert heard the reproach in his friend's voice. Things had been uncomfortably tense between them since Randall's death. Ethan seemed almost unaffected by the death. Phillip had already left their little group, and Rupert thought he saw desperation in Deirdre's face, like she might bolt at any time but was too afraid to let go of Ethan. "Ignore Ethan. He's a wanker," Rupert replied. "I was thinking about what I might like to see if we crap out on tracking down the grimoire. We could have one hell of a good holiday even if we don't find it."

"Really, Ripper, with the way you keep bleating on about alternatives, I'm getting the feeling you don't want to find the grimoire." Ethan crossed his arms, hostility leaking into his voice.

"I just know how most of your grand schemes turn out, you git," Rupert shot back, and Gemma put a restraining hand on his chest.

"Let's not fight. Ethan, didn't you say your friend was having a party tonight? Maybe we ought to offer to help," Gemma said.

"That's a good idea," Deirdre added, squeezing Ethan's hand.

The thin young mage tore his dark gaze away from Rupert. "We could do that." He started back to where they could catch a cab.

"Does your friend know about what we do, Ethan?" Rupert asked.

"Tod knows. He's a wanna-be. He has no talent for magic, the poor plonker. He's the one who had the lead on where to find the grimoire."

"Then why tell you?" Rupert gave Ethan a suspicious look.

"He thinks we can train him to be good at magic." Ethan grinned arrogantly, ruffling his thick, dark hair.

"Especially if we use the grimoire," Rupert filled in.

Ethan bobbed his head. "Exactly."

"How did you find out about this guy?" Gemma asked.

"Tod has more money than brains. He came to London last year. Gemma, I don't think you were at of any of the parties that we threw that Tod came to," Ethan said.

"Oh, that's why he looks so familiar. Is he that arse-licker who puked in my bed last year?" Rupert scowled. He only had a vague recollection of that time period, having had a little too much fun himself.

"That's him."

"Didn't he have thick glasses?" Deirdre asked.

"He's wearing contact now, says they're bloody uncomfortable," Ethan replied as he hailed the cab.

"He was a total idiot," Rupert said, suddenly much more unhappy about Ethan's scheme.

"A rich idiot who's willing to pay us to help with the book," Ethan corrected, raising a finger for emphasis.

Deirdre's eyes gleamed. "How much?"


Rupert thought about the proposition. Money would be nice. A powerful book in the hands of idiot, however, made him very nervous. When Ethan had informed Rupert he was after the Biblio schisimo kai afaimasso, it sparked something in his memory. Before they had left England, Rupert had done research into the Biblio schisimo kai afaimasso, the Book of Tears and Blood. It was easy enough to get into the Watchers' library since both of his parents were Watchers and he was expected to follow in their footsteps. His parents would rather die than admit he had turned into a black sheep so the Watchers didn't know why he was delayed in joining their ranks. The Book of Tears and Blood frightened Rupert and intrigued him at the same time. The lure of its power proved stronger than his fear, which was why he agreed to come along with Ethan.

Rupert didn't listen to anything Ethan was prattling on about during the cab ride back to the brownstone. He wasn't saying anything important, talking more about what he hoped would happen at the party tonight than anything else. Gemma had her hand on Rupert' thigh. There was nothing sexual about it, more like an anchor as if she sensed his mood. It wouldn't surprise him. Gemma was certainly both bright and sensitive. Gemma shared his concerns about the book but had the same longing to see it, use it.

The brownstone loomed into view. Rupert had recognized the building as a seat of wealth both now and at least a century before. The building had a regal air that reminded him - in spite of the darkness of the stone in comparison - of the Cotswolds, only not as green and lovely. There was a certain dinginess to New York city that not even money could entirely erase. They had gotten in to Tod's place late the night before and crashed then they left quickly to go play tourist. Rupert hadn't really noticed his surroundings until now. There was something about the building that made him uneasy, as if it were waiting for something. Maybe he shouldn't have listened to so many of his father's cautionary tales as a child. They were making him skittish.

Tod was back from wherever he had been when they woke up and gladly accepted offers to help with the party. Rupert kept an eye on Ethan, not trusting him entirely now that the grimoire might be in reach, but he didn't hear his friend talking to Tod about the book. Soon enough, the apartment became to fill up with party guests, all of them brownstone residents since Tod was throwing a 'block party' more or less. The men were throwing keys into a bowl by the front door.

"Is this a key party?" Ethan asked Tod, his dark eyes bright. "Ripper and I don't have keys."

"Just toss in a personal item," Tod said, waving, nearly sloshing his martini everywhere. "And if there're more ladies than men, I hope no one minds doubling up."

"You won't hear us complaining," Rupert muttered as Gemma pressed a glass pipe into his hand, nodding at the brick of marijuana that Tod had laid out along with some white powder that Rupert presumed was coke.

"It's almost all buds," she whispered, a gleam in her blue eyes.

"Really?" Rupert looked at it more favorably. He didn't want anything to do with coke, but he wouldn't mind a smoke. Catching Ethan's eye, he nodded at the spread. Ethan grinned. Rupert filled the pipe and settled in a corner with his friends. An Aerosmith record was spinning on the deck. The evening was off to a good start for helping him to shake loose the anguish of the last few weeks.