Spiralling down into the darkness...
He hadn't intended to end up here.
Of course, intentions meant nothing in the grand scheme of things, not when they didn't stop what happened in the end.
He had been at the lowest point in his life in twenty-five years - thrown over by Council for caring too much, pushed aside by those he cared about. They were getting on with life while he had felt like he was standing still. No job, no purpose. He had been drifting, uncertain.
Then Ethan had shown up, invited him out for a drink, and Giles had agreed despite their last few run ins. One drink had turned to two, which had turned to quite a few. Before he had realized what was happening, he and Ethan had been in the middle of a bar brawl with several demons, magic spells flashing every which way. Afterwards, he had been buzzing in ways he hadn't experienced in twenty-five years, and he had wanted nothing more than for that high to continue.
The next morning, he had woken up with Ethan in his bed, his arm flung over the other man's bare torso. When he remembered what had happened the previous night, he had tried to pull away, tried to remind himself that this was a slippery slope - if he let himself be pulled in again, he'd never come up.
Then Ethan had drawn him back, reminding him of the rush of spellcasting. By the end of the day, Giles had started to turn his back on so many of the lessons the coven had taught him in Devon. By the end of the week, after spending several nights at the local magic den, re-experiencing old spells and learning new ones, he didn't care that he had, even when Buffy found him and asked him what was going on. He had been on his way to the den with Ethan and had shut his former Slayer out. What did it matter? He was no longer responsible for her, the Council had made that clear, and she was certainly not responsible for him.
When the others had started calling and showing up, he knew that he had to get out there. Away from Sunnydale and the interminable meddling of the Scoobies. Away from the stifling remnants of the life that he had tried to convince himself was what he needed to be.
This...this was who he was.
So he and Ethan had headed for Los Angeles, where they had found the best magic den in the city, a place to play both with magic and with sex. That had been two weeks ago.
Now, sitting in a private alcove, the music pulsing through him, intentions didn't matter a jot as he watched as Ethan played with a young woman out on the floor. With a dark smile, he concentrated, a small ball of fire forming in his hand. He blew on it, watching as it floated into the air, above the dancing spellcasters, hitting an energy ball someone else had let go and exploding in a rainbow of colors. Smiling in satisfaction, Giles closed his eyes and leaned back a little, letting the power in the den wash over him.