Thursday, December 18, 2003



It was almost midnight, when the doorbell rang. Probability said it had to be his employer, but probability was malleable and mutable around him, therefore he had a spell ready before opening the door. The spell seemed to wriggle and squirm in his hand and around his fingers like a living thing, eager to erupt.

"Eve, welch Glanz in meiner bescheidenen Hütte, as the Germans say," Ethan said with an insincere smile, when he recognized the late visitor. He shoved his hands into his pockets, unobtrusively storing the thaumaturgical charm away. "Oh, I'm sorry, German's not your thing? Welcome to my humble abode, then. Looses a bit in translation, of course, but the sentiment's still there."

"Cut it out, Rayne" Eve replied, not in the mood for fake politeness, and pushed past him into the small, cluttered, apartment. She didn't bother looking around, knowing everything inside right down to the extra buttons for the garish shirts the English warlock preferred.

"Can I offer you something. A biscuit maybe? They're good. Your lovely Miss Burkle made them and was kind enough to share," Ethan said, pointing towards a small tupperware dish that held a handful of gingerbread cookies. There was a malicious glint in his eye.

Eve had no intention of touching either food or drink. "Enjoying yourself?"

"Who, me?"

Eve didn't sit, either. "Cute. Whatever you have planned for Saturday, cancel it. You've already gone too far with the Santa stunt."

Ethan smiled, unfazed, and perched comfortably on the armrest of his shabby sofa. "What makes you think I've got something planned? Would I do something as perfidious and anti-social as disrupting the big office shindig everybody's so looking forward to?"

"Do I have to remind you of your goals, Ethan?" Eve asked, smiling sweetly, but in a voice made of steel. "Funny. I was under the impression that they were whatever we want. We didn't get you out of Initiative custody so you could indulge in your pranks. There are bigger things at stake."

"I had to cover my tracks," Ethan said with a shrug, entirely unrepentant.

"If you had kept your head down, as planned, there would have been no need to turn our graphologies expert into a laughing Santa," Eve pointed out. "And besides, you should have killed him. The minute Wesley breaks your spell—and trust me, he will find a way—our jolly Santa will spill the beans and blow your cover."

"Trust me, no one, not even your clever Ex-watcher, will be able to undo my little ho-ho-ho spell.  It's got a fascinating little failsafe woven into it; I just wish I could see his face when he realizes that the spell acts like a yo-yo, always snapping back into place. " Ethan smiled. "It should keep him busy for weeks."

"Let me put it to you like this, Puck," Eve said. "If you blow your cover, you're no longer of use to us. So you better make sure our jolly Harold either keeps up his ho ho hos or stays silent forever."

Friday, December 19, 2003