s k i n

"Is there anybody hiding if you peel away the skin..." -- Oingo Boingo

He stumbles into town, creaking loudly as he walks. Most people look at the shoes, shiny new alligator, and make an honest, innocent assumption.

But the assumption is wrong. The red-haired, pale-skinned boy's face grins, but he is not grinning. The face no longer belongs to his spirit, the one called "Oz", who played in a rock band, who howled at the moon.

It's amazing what a little magic, a sharp knife, and a lot of patience can create. Not one accidental mark, just the long solitary slit from head to perineum, tracing along the spine as the skin pulled away, buttery slick and smooth. It's perfection. It remains perfection, smoothed nightly with cream. Can't have the skin dry, peeling and cracking around the folds, showing the older man underneath, the man named Ethan.

He still creaks when he walks though, the extremely thin skin stretched just a little too taut against his own sundried wrinkled flesh. Oz's skin is tight and tender, pulled onto Ethan's nude skin while still wet with blood. It's molded wonderfully against his skin, smoother than wet cow hide. It's warm, soft, and almost real. He's almost Oz.

And almost-like-Oz, he walks towards that familiar apartment, Southern California Spanish style, more than likely a mogul's mistress's pleasure pad back in the olden golden days of Hollywood. He sees it, and, with a slightly overstretched (the fingertips cracking, but that's just blisters, that's just guitar playing, it's nothing to worry about) fist, knocks once, twice, three times on the thick wooden door.

The door slowly opens, and the face behind it, cautious at first, breaks into a wide grin as recognition occurs. "Oz," Rupert Giles says in a soft voice. "You've returned."

Magic occurs again, just subtle enough, a simple glamour spell, changing the voice just to the point where a person thinks it's who it is. "Hi..."

And when Rupert opens the door and invites him in, Ethan knows he has won, that he has passed, that he is Oz. Oz sitting on the couch, gratefully accepting a cup of tea from the elegantly faded older man, hiding his smile behind the teacup.

"Where have you been?" Rupert asks, surprisingly blunt, that was the Ripper Ethan remembered from long ago, not the failed Watcher Rupert had become.

"I...was captured by...that group...the military...shortly after leaving," Ethan said, just enough hesitation in his voice for the stunningly silent young man he had become, silent even when the knife had slid into his scalp. "They took me to...Nevada. I think. The desert."

Rupert leaned forward, staring at him intently, Ethan hiding another smile behind the thin china teacup as he continued his story. "I...uh...met someone there...Ethan Rayne..." Rupert's hands grip the teacup as that name is mentioned. Ethan smirks underneath Oz's skin, but the face has is grim, concerned, because Oz would be concerned, maybe even a bit afraid, and Ethan is Oz today.

Ethan-as-Oz takes a breath and continues. "We escaped together...got halfway through the desert before they found us..." He looks at Rupert to see his reaction as he says his next line, practiced flawlessly before arriving. "Ethan distracted them...I ran as soon as I heard gunfire..." He looks up at Rupert with wide green eyes, innocently regretful. "I'm sorry..."

Rupert sets down the tea cup shakingly, and it takes all of Ethan's reserves to keep a straight face. "He...he saved my life..." Ethan watches Rupert's reaction, the remorse, the regret, and that ever so slight, ever so delicious spark of satisfaction underneath, but remains as Oz would remain -- concerned, not just for himself and his past predicament, but for Giles, the man who looked after him like a father...

...Or was it more?

When Rupert reached over and patted Oz's knee comfortingly, Ethan felt Rupert's fingers through thick corduroys and Oz's skin and instantly knew there was more. Much more than Rupert would dare admit to.

And Ethan repressed yet another grin as he looked at Rupert with wide not-so-innocent youthful eyes and said, "You cared about him a great deal, didn't you?"

Rupert looked at him in surprise, then nodded slowly. "Yes," he said softly, removing his glasses and looking directly at Oz. "Yes, I did."

It may be the cruel conquering satisfaction or it may be the relief of formerly unrequited love, but whatever it is, the sensation rushes through Ethan's body, and, for the briefest of seconds, he considers tearing away the mask of flesh he hides behind, and be reborn in Rupert's eyes, no longer the penny dreadful villain of the epheremal regions. The reptilian survival instincts kick in instantly, and he simply reaches over and touches Rupert's shoulder, comfortingly, seemingly mature before his time, but it's easy to be older than your years if you're wearing the skin of a 20-year-old boy.

And the touch on the shoulder becomes a caress and the caress slowly moves upward, stroking along the short hairs curling down into Rupert's shirt collar, and before Rupert realizes exactly what is occurring, Ethan's lips (Oz's lips, soft, young, full) are against his, Ethan's tongue, for it was Ethan's tongue, the magic of skin against skin extend beyond the surface, is in his mouth, tasting bittersweet tea and menthol chewing gum.

The kiss is so reminiscent and so sweet that Ethan can't restrain himself. His hands (cracking slightly, yes, but they're chapped, not overstretched) slide under Rupert's jumper and shirt, tangling up through chest hair for a moment before crawling down against the stomach, undoing belt buckle, button, zipper, pulling down jeans and pants just low enough to release an old familiar friend, naturally hard, because surprise always turned Ripper on.

Oz's lips and Ethan's tongue make their way down Rupert's body, pausing only for the slightest of moments before taking his cock into his (their?) mouth. Sucking on it gently, pushing it further and further down into the throat (something that only comes with practice, easily explained for Ethan, but Gods only know what Rupert rationalized for Oz's ability), causing Rupert to grasp the couch cushions, gasping in that old-fashioned way, the way of young men not wanting their mums to realize their darling sons were having it off in the upstairs bedroom.

It doesn't take long, of course, it never did. Rupert could never control himself when Ethan's mouth was around his cock. Ethan looks up with his eyes (tinted slightly with glamour to imitate Oz's) and watches Rupert's face as he comes, salt and chalk and man causing his tongue to go numb. And Rupert...

Rupert's eyes widen as he looks down into Oz's face. The eyes widen and, for the split second before the crash of orgasm, he sees Ethan.

And in that split second, he realizes he doesn't care.

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