AUTHOR: Nikki Harrington
GENRE: Gen (yes, really)
CHARACTERS: Giles, Wesley
SUMMARY: Yet another fic_on_demand request. The requester asked for a story where Giles and Wesley have a conversation, she also asked for it to be set, if possible, after the end of Angel. I managed to do that! It is deliberately written in British English, even though both shows are American. Not because I'm British, but because both characters are and I thought that I was justified (on this occasion) in so doing.
“Hello, Giles.” The quiet, refined voice sounded from behind him.
Rupert Giles had lived through what many men could not imagine, not even in their worst nightmares. Thus little shocked him, or even surprised him anymore. However, the voice of the man he knew to be dead stunned him so much, the teacup he was holding crashed to the floor. The sound of the saucer, which remarkably didn’t smash, echoed around the patio; the noise seemed to go on for an eternity. Finally, Giles said firmly, “I don’t believe in ghosts.” He realised the absurdity of the statement as soon as it left his lips.
It was to the other man’s credit that he ignored the words. Instead, he said simply, “I’m not a ghost.” He sounded so convincing.
Giles slowly turned around and stared up into the face of the man he had last seen being helped into an ambulance. “You’re dead,” he said firmly.
“The Powers That Be owed Angel a life. They always like to pay their debts. May I?” Wesley Wyndham-Pryce indicated the second chair.
Giles nodded, as years of British etiquette flowed back. “Be my guest.” Wesley sat down, somewhat carefully, as though he wasn’t quite certain the chair would be firm.
“Thank you,” he said, politely. After all the same British etiquette was as deeply entrenched in him as in Giles.
For several moments the two ex-Watchers regarded one another across the table. Eventually Giles broke the silence. “So the prophecy was true? The vampire with the soul would become human.”
Wesley nodded. “Yes. However, he signed away his rights in order to bring down his enemies.”
“Then how come . . .?” Giles trailed off.
“His pact wasn’t with The Powers That Be. In their eyes he had finally atoned for his years as Angelus, therefore they had to grant the prophecy. A life had to be given. It was owed.”
“And because he signed away his rights he felt compelled to abide by his word.” It wasn’t a question.
Nonetheless Wesley answered it. “Yes.”
Giles stared at his old colleague and co-fighter against evil. So Angel hadn’t changed as much as Buffy and her friends had feared.
The silence stretched between them. Then Giles said, “What will you do?”
Wesley shrugged. “What I was raised to do. What I have spent my entire adult life doing: go on fighting evil.”
“I don’t know. I don’t know Angel’s plans. At the moment he is with Buffy.”
The two men looked at one another; they were clearly thinking the same thing.
The silence grew uncomfortable. Finally Giles asked, “Why are you here, Wesley? Why come to me?”
Wesley glanced away and was still for so long, Giles wondered whether he would answer. Eventually, however, he did. “I needed to be with someone who knew what it was like.”
“I only know what I observed in Buffy and Angel.”
Wesley stood up and began to pace. “Was he right to do it?” He whirled and stared at Giles.
Giles met the tired gaze and read the turmoil the younger man was suffering. He and his fellow ex-Watcher had never been close, and yet now Wesley needed him. What Angel had done might seem to many to be the ultimate gift, but it came with a huge price, a price that Giles had seen Buffy, Willow and Xander pay and pay and pay. “Why wouldn’t he be?”
“I betrayed him. I gave away his son. He hated me. He tried to kill me. I didn’t think he’d ever forgiven me. And then he does this. He could have brought back Gunn, Fred, anyone far more worthy. Why me?”
“You did what you thought was right at the time.”
“I sent his son to a hell dimension. The same son came back and tried to kill his father. He nearly destroyed the world. I’m responsible.”
Giles ignored the descent into self-blame. Instead he said softly, “Angel chose you for a reason, Wesley. He believed that you were the best person to continue the fight against evil.”
Again Giles considered the other man and considered his words. Finally he chose truth. It was what Wesley needed to hear, even if he didn’t particularly want to hear it. “Maybe because out of all his friends, you have come the closest to touching if not evil, then at least the darkness. Angel fights it so well because he has not only touched it, he has embraced it, and it has devoured him. The others . . . None of them have really touched it, or come close to being swallowed up by it in the way you have. That is why he chose you.”
Wesley was silent for a long time. Then he asked quietly, “Do you think he has forgiven me?”
“Angel forgave you a long time ago, Wesley, even if he didn’t realise it. I think it was the greatest step he took towards forgiving himself. Now, why don’t you sit back down and we’ll have a nice cup of tea.”