~ please see notes and disclaimers in Part I ~
Giles rubbed the bridge of his nose, unrolled the small square of parchment, and tried to focus on the crabbed script that Cornelius had used to record his ravings. Buffy’s dream had come to fruition in record-time: Wesley was truly in England, being given a tour of their facilities by the only other person he knew who had come back from the grave. He hoped Buffy could draw Wesley out; the man had seemed so grim.
Who wouldn’t be? Giles wondered to himself. Wesley had lost his friends in a titanic battle. Here he was, being again asked to fight the good fight. The man seemed so different from the pompous ass that had stood in the doorway to the Sunnydale High school library so many years ago.
A flash of bare-chested Wesley sitting up in alarm replayed itself over Giles’ eyes. Changed indeed. God, he was a bit twisted himself, wasn’t he, ogling a man who was returned from the grave to help them avert an apocalypse? But Buffy’s words had played on an endless loop since this morning. Her teasing aside, he wondered if he could find out more details. The most lurid images ran across his mind’s eye. He’d made the great mistake at one point of looking up sexual rituals, back when he was first doing magic. There were thousands of them. Each one more convoluted than the next. And yet, he couldn’t stop thinking of them. He looked across the main library room, his eyes searching the vaulted ceilings and dark shelves around him as if they held the answers, but he knew this room’s answers weren’t in the long tables or leather bound chairs; the answers were in the parchment in front of him.
Across the table, Willow scribbled notes as she translated the scroll in front of her. Both turned as the merry tones Buffy’s voice floated down the hall towards them.
“And this is the heart of action central: the library. And look! Research. I know you just want to plunk down and start looking, don’t you Wes?”
“Oh yes, Buffy, that’s it,” came Wesley’s dry reply. “The very first thing I would like to do after being resurrected to save the world is bury my head in a dusty tome. In fact, I could smell the books at 50 paces.” Buffy laughed. Giles stood, relieved that the man walking with Buffy looked somehow restored, somehow determined. Very different than the man who’d greeted them from the infirmary bed.
“Hey guys, found anything yet?” Willow shook her head no as Giles let loose a regretful sigh. “Should’ve known. Wes, how’s your Latin?”
“Latin?” Wesley asked in surprise, “You read Latin now Buffy?”
She gave him a soft shove, “Hey, we grow!”
“Who are you reading in Latin that’s worth reading?”
Giles gave the short answer, “Cornelius.”
Wesley laughed. “Cornelius? Why, we read him in first year in Watcher training – he’s a raving madman, not a prophet. Why are you bothering with that garbage? They used it to show us exactly what a prophecy isn’t supposed to be. Why, the man claims the most outlandish things! Cities falling into the ground because of a vampire hero. . .” his speech began to slow, “Hundreds of slayers defending…the earth…at once. . .” He grabbed for a nearby chair and sat down heavily. Three understanding smiles graced the faces of the people surrounding him, Giles’ the biggest.
Giles remembered that he’d felt the exact same way when Willow had first brought the scrolls to him. “It’s a bit much isn’t it?” Giles asked understandingly. “But we’ve found that, from what we can decipher, Cornelius actually saw quite a few of the events during and after the fall of Sunnydale. As long as you can get through the lunatic sentence structure, he’s quite spot on.”
“His fifth coda is the one that mentions LA, too,” piped in Willow. “Otherwise we would’ve never known about it, not with Wolfram & Hart messing up all of our phone calls with you guys.”
“But . . . the man was a crackpot,” protested Wesley.
Buffy fielded that one as she pulled up her customary chair, “He was a total loony, but he hasn’t failed us yet. Or, not as far as we’ve been able to translate. The guy left a thousand scrolls, and we still haven’t made it through half of ‘em. But every time we do, and we can figure out what he’s saying, he says something good.”
Just then Andrew rounded the far corner, his eyes going wide at the sight of Wesley calmly seated at the library tables. He let out a silent “OH!” and Giles quickly hopped up to forestall the gushing that was sure to come as the blond made his way towards them. The last thing Wesley needed was Andrew’s melodrama. Unfortunately, the young man had a penchant for the most ignorantly romantic expressions. They’d put him in charge of the library to keep him out of trouble, although he demanded they call him the Archivist (and Giles winced every time Andrew said his own title because he could hear the capital letter implied). The silver lining was that he was quite adept at translating Cornelius because the horrible phrasing almost matched the prose Andrew liked to speak on a regular basis.
“Wesley? Are you hungry? What about a bite to eat before research?” He asked. Wesley looked up at him and smiled, and Giles couldn’t help but smile back.
“That would be lovely.” Both men rose, just as Andrew fetched up to their table.
“Oh my goddess! Wesley! You’re ALIVE!” Andrew was trembling with surprise, and he looked like he was on the verge of hugging Wesley. Giles swiftly moved between them, then turned to head off Andrew’s impending attack.
“Andrew, Willow and Buffy can fill you in on the details of Wesley’s resurrection. We desperately need your help. Another apocalypse is on its way, we think it’s due to occur at the next full moon. It appears that Wesley will be the key factor in fending it off, but he’s had nothing to eat since he was returned to us, and so we’re off to find a bite and we’ll be back. In the meantime, call if you find anything, will you?” Giles moved away from the group with Wesley as he went, sending apologetic looks towards Willow and Buffy.
Willow helped them make their escape, “No problem Giles! Now that we have Andrew to help I’m sure we’ll find something.” Andrew preened under her praise and turned towards the scrolls.
Giles noticed Buffy had a peculiar kind of grin as she waved goodbye and knew that Willow would shortly know the entire contents of her dream, embarrassing to her watcher or not. He sighed, but knew that getting Wesley settled—and out of Andrew’s line of fire—was more important than his own discomfort.
The remains of various curries spread out on the table before them, Giles and Wesley sat at his kitchen table, nursing their beers. It was surreal, Wesley thought, to be sitting in the remodeled deans’ house that was now Giles’ living quarters, calmly eating a meal, letting others do their research. Giles had assured him it was reasonable to have the others looking for them. Buffy’s dream had, for once, seemed to include a timeline.
Buffy’s dream . . .he ducked his head to try and hide any signs of a blush. She’d been predictably vague; he supposed Giles hadn’t trained that out of her, but had mentioned that he and Giles . . . would . . . that they would . . . a spell . . . he shook his head, realizing that he couldn’t form the words in his own mind. Not that it stopped the images. Oh, no, not with Giles sitting in front of him, heedless and relaxed, talking about the opportunities Wesley had within their new organization. He could admit to himself that he was watching the other man’s lips, and not really paying attention to his explanation that his flat was also the quietest place to stay, since the others had taken the provost accommodations attached to the residence halls which meant Buffy, Xander and Willow were able to keep an eye on the slayer trainees—and Andrew—without sacrificing their own privacy, although they had to deal with a great deal of teenage giggling and pranks.
The relative peace here made Wesley feel . . . comfortable. Far too comfortable for a man who’d suffered such upheavals. His brain shunted away from the delicious line of Giles’ throat and into the other line of thought he couldn’t escape: he’d lost his friends. He had lost everything. He struggled to hang onto the grief, because it was the only thing he had left of them, but there was something about the place that seemed to seep into his bones. A feeling, a sense of purpose that he’d had at the Hyperion but lost when they’d moved to Wolfram & Hart. Not that he knew what to do with that sense of purpose. Right now they had nothing but Buffy’s fragmented dreams of a tentacled beast to go on. And there was nothing productive in her vague details and giggles about naked watchers – just the knowledge that something was coming, and he and Giles were the ones who would have to vanquish it. There he was, back to thinking about Giles again. He couldn’t seem to escape that. He looked at the other watcher under the cover of his eyelashes and wondered at the man. Rupert Giles hadn’t changed a bit since Sunnydale. Rather, he had changed, but all the changes had been good ones. He admitted to himself that he’d always noticed the other man, even in Sunnydale. Nothing more than that, just noticed. Unfortunately, now, he couldn’t stop noticing.
Giles’ voice broke into his thoughts. “I do wish you’d think about it. We need all the help we can get.”
Wesley shook his head, to clear the wool, not to negate what Giles was saying. “I . . . I will think about it. It seems I need a bit of purpose in my life. It simply feels strange to be here, much less think about training slayers to become better slayers.”
“I know the prospect’s a bit daunting, but I think you’ll find most of them are far more tractable than Buffy was when you first met her. Even those that come here with as many issues as Faith find something that challenges them.”
Wesley winced at the mention of his slayer. He still thought of her that way, regardless of the years or the pain between them. At least the last time they’d parted on mostly reasonable terms. He was proud of her, of the things that she managed to do and continued to do. He knew it wasn’t due to his help, but if he could actually do the job he’d always thought he’d spend the rest of his life doing? Except not with a Council filled with old men who looked down their noses at him, but instead run by four people he respected immensely. He stopped waffling and decided to throw in his lot – they seemed more like family every passing moment.
“I would like to be some part of what you’ve built here. I’m honored that you’d ask.”
Giles made a pfft sound at that. “Wesley, we need you. For far more than what the powers have brought you back for. You realize you and I are the only people I know who can still read Anamelish? We’d be trying to drag you here for that alone.”
Wesley smiled at that, “And how often do you need to know the language of an obscure baby-eating Assyrian demon?”
“It’s come up.” Giles dryly replied. “You see, the reason why we got this place on the cheap? It had an Anamelech in the basement.” As he continued his story, Wesley dropped into his own reflections again, content to let the other man’s voice drift over him in a kind of soft wave. He marveled again at how familiar this seemed. Sitting at Giles’ table, eating his dinner, talking about demons and, in a horribly selfish way, looking forward to the next apocalypse. It was not what he would have predicted for an afterlife, but as far as they went it didn’t seem quite that bad.
“Alright, that’s it.” Giles’ voice once more broke into his thoughts. He looked at the man inquiringly. “This is the second time you’ve slid right out of the conversation. I know that Anamelechs aren’t the most entertaining of creatures, but I think you might need some sleep.”
Wesley tried to perk up at that, “Nonsense. There’s research that needs to be conducted. A-and don’t you think we should talk about . . . Buffy’s . . . dream?” Giles grinned wryly at him and shook his head no.
“You need a fresh head to read Cornelius, or don’t you remember? And I’ll be reckless and suggest that any discussion we have about Buffy’s prophetic dream should probably happen when you’ve been back from the dead less than a day. Especially when we have a little time. It can wait. Let me show you a place to sleep. You can wake up and translate to your heart’s content. I promise.”
Wesley followed him down a short hall to a guest room furnished in heavy oak and rich colors. The bed looked so inviting, he nearly groaned aloud, only to find Giles looking at him with a bit of a smile that made him think some involuntary sound had escaped.
“Just as I thought.” Giles walked over to a chest of drawers and pulled out a set of nightclothes. “Hmm, we’ll have to see about getting you things that fit properly. I hope you don’t mind wearing my things for a bit longer?” At Wesley’s negative headshake, he pressed the clothes into his hands then moved past Wesley. At the door he turned, “Get some rest Wes. The scrolls aren’t going anywhere, and neither are the rest of us.”
Wesley chuckled a bit at that. “You’re right, of course. Wake me, though, if they find anything?” Giles nodded his reassurance and then closed the door on his way out.
Wesley changed into the softer bedclothes and pulled back the deliciously thick bedding. He felt as if he hadn’t slept for weeks. The last thing he remembered thinking as his head hit the pillow, wrapped in warmth and down and a lovely clean scent that came from the linens, was that it was very silly to be tired when he’d been in some other realm, dead, for a month. Shouldn’t he have felt more rested?
To be continued . . .