Flashficathon entry dedicated to marguerite_26. Pairing; Willow /Ethan, with Ethan taking the place of Rack in S6.

Thanks to Green for kindly beta reading this for me.

Coming For Me

He always knew when she was coming. The house did too, its walls creaking in anticipation, getting ready to open wide and swallow her up. He couldn’t wonder at its eagerness, or his own. She burned so brightly that when she left he could close his eyes and still see her image against the darkness inside his skull for hours afterwards.

He’d come back for revenge of course. He thought back to the long weeks of imprisonment beguiled by the endless scenarios his hatred conjured. Betrayed. Handed over to the soldiers like garbage on bin day. His last sight, Ripper’s gleeful smile and ice cold eyes. He’d come back to find the town changed, safer. For him, at least. No Giles, and a walking corpse for a Slayer. He’d still taken care though; this town had seen him crash and burn too often. Chaos was only amusing when one was causing it, not experiencing it.

This house was perfect for him. It had been abandoned by its previous owner – well, if one were to be strictly accurate, he’d killed the warlock and taken his form, but abandoned sounded ... neater. He’d grown tired of the alien face in the mirror and reverted to his own after a while but none of his customers seemed to care or even notice, lost in their tail-chasing dreams.

When Willow turned up, his heart sang. Ripper’s child. One of the waifs he’d adopted, but this one was the cuckoo in the nest. She didn’t belong with Rupert. She was destined to come to him.

The first time she visited with her witch friend, he saw those lovely eyes widen in shock as she recognised him. Before she could speak, he sent a tendril of power lashing out to wrap around her tongue, lying against her lips like nectar from nightshade, sweet and deadly. Power. His power, offered to her like goblin fruit in the old poem (The wicked, quaint fruit-merchant men, Their fruits like honey to the throat, But poison in the blood). And, like foolish Laura, she took it and thirsted for more.

He might have seen her as a daughter, twisting the analogy to make both he and Ripper her parents. Both of them had brought her to this point, both had left their mark, put something of themselves into the woman she had become – but that would have meant he was responsible for her, and even in the depths of his reluctant admiration, that was one step too far.

Besides, taking her body, thrusting into her arid folds and imagining Rupert standing watching them, his habitual frown creasing his scholarly forehead as he nervously polished his glasses – well, that lent sufficient piquancy to their encounters without adding incest to the mix.

He knew about her girl lover of course. Hadn’t he spent hours listening to her justify her use of magic on the already addled brain of a cautious coward? He sometimes tried to pinpoint the moment when jealousy embedded itself in his heart like a splinter, infecting him with something to which he’d long thought himself immune, changing his boredom into desperation as he tried to rid her heart of the witch’s charms.

He fought it at first, pushing her away, trying to stop her from coming to him. It was too late. By then he needed her as much as she wanted him. They shared power now, each gaining from each meeting in a dizzying spiral upwards as their powers fed on each other, becoming dependent, becoming linked. He drew back from her only to find her waiting behind him as he retreated. There was no escape for either of them, or so he had believed.

He knew that she allowed him access to her body not as payment – they had passed that point – but as a penance for what she still saw as her betrayal of her ideals. He counted for nothing as a lover, which rankled, but he was the perfect hair shirt – which amused, then angered, him.

He wove subtle webs of suggestions around her, leading her into the hot darkness he knew so well, but no matter how encompassing the night, one light gleamed, one memory still tethered her to all he would have her forget. He could have borne it, could have waited, been patient for once, but then the line was tugged and he watched her turn back from the abyss, an eager smile on her face, alive again as she had never been in his arms.

Unforgivable. Not to be tolerated, not to be permitted.  (‘Put out the light and then put out the light.’) He sent an angry young man out to cut through the mess with a sword. Except this was modern America. Guns, not swords. Well, it wasn’t elegant but it would serve his purpose. The Slayer escaped, her third death still to come, but the bright one, the evening star, Tara...a black hole where her heart once lay safe within her breast and the spilled blood sprayed across his darling like a scarlet, lacy veil.

Then he sent the panicked boy, the sacrificial goat, away with a pocketful of garbage to protect him and waited for her to come to him through the long hours that followed. He knew she’d come for him.

He always knew when she was coming. She screamed a lot. If he listened, really hard, he thought he could hear her.

Well, someone was screaming.

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