Giles opened the door, expecting to see Buffy who had promised to stop by and report on her patrolling. The death of the Mayor and the battle at the school had left the gathered army of vampires depleted, but those who remained seemed bent on making as much trouble as possible and the nightly patrols had seen Buffy taxed to her limit.
Instead he saw Wesley, dressed in a crumpled suit and clutching a hold all.
“Oh. Good morning, Wesley. Do come in.”
Giles tried to infuse some cordiality into his voice. Wesley had come through in the end, had fought beside them all. He’d been less than useless and had complained about his injuries rather too loudly, but Giles gave him credit for trying. He also felt a small measure of guilt that he’d not visited Wesley in hospital, limiting his enquiries to a single, dutiful phone call.
Wesley walked over the threshold moving stiffly. He usually stood ramrod straight, looking, as Xander – cheeky brat – had once said of Giles, as if he had a Union Jack inserted up his – Giles reflected that Xander really did need to be taught some respect. Today, though, Wesley seemed to be moving carefully due to injuries rather than a sense of his own superiority; which Giles suspected was in itself a mask for shyness and self –doubt.
Giles waved Wesley to a chair and Wesley sat, sighing slightly as he relaxed against the cushions. “So; what can I –?”
“I need you to do a spell for me,” Wesley said flatly.
Giles was surprised, less by the request than the bluntness. Wesley had a tendency to be long-winded. By the time he got the point, Buffy and her friends had usually stopped listening or walked away, not being renowned for their patience.
“If you want a love spell for Cordelia,” he said, “I’m afraid I can’t oblige.”
Wesley looked wounded. “Please. I’ve moved beyond – that is. Look, Giles. I know you do magic.”
“I’d really love to know how,” Giles murmured.
“Everyone knows about your demon raising, Giles. You think a juicy bit of gossip like that would stay hidden? Besides, you’ve done quite a few bits of magic while you’ve been here, and I read your reports before I got assigned as Buffy’s Watcher.”
Giles felt embarrassed anger rise. “Those reports were confidential; for Travers’ eyes only.”
“I think once they fired you, they stopped caring overmuch about your delicate sensibilities, Giles.”
Giles gave Wesley a cynical look. “They cared so very much before that? I can’t say that I noticed. So, not that I intend to perform any magic, but what spell did you have in mind?”
Wesley stared down at his hands and threaded his fingers together carefully before looking up. “I want you to find out what my destiny is. Where I’m needed. I can’t go back to England. My father – ” He broke off. “I can’t afford it anyway.”
“I can lend you the money for a ticket,” Giles said, his tone gentler. “God knows, I can sympathise with being left stranded by those –”
“No.” Wesley’s voice was toneless. “I’m not going back.”
Irritation swamped pity. “Well, you don’t need a bloody spell to tell you where to go! Work it out yourself, man.”
Wesley shrugged. “I wouldn’t know where to start. I’ve been told what to do all my life and you know it.”
Giles met his eyes and remembered his own rebellion against a destiny he’d been assured was his, a Roman road when he wanted a maze. “A destiny spell can only hint; they’re notoriously unreliable. It might even, if you interpreted it incorrectly, send you in the opposite direction and the Lord knows what ramifications that could have.”
“I’ll take that chance. Look, Giles, I’ve just spent three days flat on my back with nothing to do but think and avoid over enthusiastic bed washes from poorly trained nurses.” Giles grinned at the image of Wesley fighting off a sponge and Wesley flushed before smiling back ruefully. “I’ve thought about this,” he went on in a less emotional voice. “Please? I can’t cast the spell myself; you know that. I have to be in the centre of the circle.”
“I’ll see it, not you, “said Giles doubtfully. “I’ll have to pass on my impressions; I think that’s where a lot of the errors and misinterpretations creep in and I think it’s deliberate. The Powers have their plans and they’re none too keen on humans trying to get advance information.”
Wesley stood and walked over to Giles. “Will you do it? Because if not, I’ll be on my way.”
“Where?” Giles said softly. This close, he could see the desperation in Wesley’s face. “There’s work here to be done, you know. I could use your help.”
Wesley shook his head, refusing to pretend that Giles was being anything but polite. “You’ve managed without me for years and I’m not needed as a Watcher, even if I were still on the payroll.”
“You never were,” Giles said, but there was no malice in his voice.
“I can see that. I always could. I’m not stupid, you know.”
Giles reached out and patted Wesley’s shoulder. “No. You’re far from that. Just – young.” He hesitated and then said, “Very well. I’ll do the spell for you.”
Wesley’s mouth opened. “Oh.”
Giles turned away and began to look for the book he would need. “What?”
“I had more persuasive arguments and inducements to inflict upon you,” Wesley said, smiling.
“Really?” Giles flicked him an amused glance. “What kind of inducements?”
Wesley nodded towards his hold all. “Bottle of single malt,” he said succinctly.
“Well, feel free to get it out and pour us both a measure,” Giles said. “Sun’s past the yardarm in England and if I’m to do magic I think I need to relax a little. It’s been...it’s been a while.”
The candles had been blown out, Wesley had, grimacing with distaste, washed off the symbols Giles had painted onto his chest using a mixture of their own blood and herbs, smelly enough by themselves but revolting when combined, and they were both dressed and sipping appreciatively at aged whiskey.
“What did you see then, Giles?” Wesley asked, trying to keep the eagerness out of his voice.
Giles smiled, part of him pleased that Wesley had regained his enthusiasm, part of him still trying to process what he’d been shown.
“I saw you fighting demons,” he began. “And doing quite well, too. Which seems to suggest it’s a good few years in the future, as the way you fight now, an angry kitten would give you problems.”
“Giles!” Wes protested, laughing. “I’m not that bad!”
Giles looked at him, no trace of a smile on his face. “You are, and it’ll get you killed. Before you do anything, you need some training in basic fighting and demon specific combat too.I can’t help you; Buffy takes up all my time, but I have some names of people who might be able to help.”
“Thank you,” Wesley said, his face downcast. “So; anything more specific about where I’m to go? Who I’m to be with?”
Los Angeles. Angel. The words thrummed so loudly in Giles’ head that he was sure they were audible to Wesley, but the man just sat there, smiling expectantly. I’m not going to do it, Giles thought. Not going to send him to Angel. Giles was far from certain what Angel had been doing besides fighting alongside Wesley, but he assumed Angel was continuing to find his own inadequate means of soothing his guilt for centuries of killing by, well, more killing. Jenny’s face rose up and Giles shuddered. He was damned if he’d help him in any way.
“Consider yourself a roaming uh, fighter of evil,” Giles said. “I think you’ll be travelling a lot. Maybe you should get yourself a –”
“Bike!” Wesley said. “Yes. I’ve always wanted a motorbike. I’d need leathers, a helmet –”
“Car?” Giles said, knowing it was futile. Wesley was off in a dream, oddly reminiscent of Xander’s plans for the summer in that they were both equally unrealistic and involved miles of open road.
“Car?” Wesley snorted. “I don’t think so. New image, new me. New...where do I go then?”
Giles made some phone calls, wrote down some addresses and gave Wesley some money. He closed the door behind him eventually and sat down. What had he done? On one level, he’d thwarted the plans of the Powers. That probably hadn’t been wise. On the other, he’d doubtless saved Wesley’s life. He’d last until the first rainy night and be phoning home to ask his parents for a loan the next morning. The Council might have fired him, but a man of Wesley’s abilities would have no difficulty in finding work. Just...not here.
Giles pursed his lips. Yes, all things considered, it hadn’t been a bad day. Buffy hadn’t shown up; she was so full of college plans that he barely saw her, and his own life was so lacking in anything approaching meaning that he’d been tempted to do for real what he’d told Wesley to do in jest, but still.
“Rupert Giles, Rogue Demon Hunter,” he murmured, topping up his glass. “Oh, yes. Has a ring to it.”
And the Powers shook their heads with a tolerance born of complacency and watched Wesley begin a journey with only one destination.
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