Season of Solace. 60

60:     Giles Place, Oak Park Street, South Central Sunnydale

Having just settled down for a relaxing evening of light research and a hot cup of tea, Rupert Giles was not expecting the doorbell to ring. He had sensed that everyone was at a point where they needed to take advantage of this break in demonic activity. His Slayers needed a night off.

At a guess, Giles figured that it might be Faith stopping over to provide him with an update. A glance through the peephole revealed he could not be further off the mark. The visual distortion caused by the small glass revealed only an unnaturally enlarged pair of eyes and nose behind thick frames as his visitor leaned close to the door.

Giles stepped back and opened the door. The young man suddenly stumbled over the threshold righting himself after a moment. While pressing his hands down over his suit jacket as if straightening unseen wrinkles, he lifted his jaw a degree higher and spoke, “Rupert Giles, I presume. Wesley Wyndam-Pryce here. It is an honor to meet you.”

During the handshake that followed, Giles noted that they seemed to be sizing each other up. The young man was far from what he expected. The Council had not provided many details, just a rather vague curriculum vitae. Their primary concern was to send assistance as it now appeared that they had not only one, but two apocalyptic-level events that would endanger the security of the Hellmouth and the world at large.

His hand was soft except for the calloused edge of his third finger, which indicated to Giles that he did a lot of writing, typical of a scholar. The name Wyndam-Pryce preceded him. Like Giles’ father, his too had Council ties. That alone made Giles want to give the younger man a break for arriving a day ahead of schedule.

However, it was not simply scholarly expertise Giles required. Dividing his time between two Slayers was problematic. Buffy needed guidance and depended on him to provide it. Keeping her on track through the volatile course of her personal ups and downs was a handful. The world could not afford a lapse of concentration.

Neither did it help that Buffy and Faith were such disparate personalities. Much like squabbling siblings vying for the attention of their father figure, their relationship angled toward the competitive.

Faith needed something quite different than Buffy when it came to training. She needed control and temperance, someone she could not dominate into letting her have her way. Giles only hoped that appearances were deceiving when it came to Wesley Wyndam-Pryce.

“I understand that you narrowly beat out Gwendolyn Post for the job,” Giles said as he ushered him into the living room.

Apparently, Ms. Post did not have the necessary expertise in ancient languages required to deal with this current crisis whilst he did. Considering Faith’s sexually charged habit of manipulating the men in her sphere, through teasing or outright seduction, providing a female Watcher would have been an ace decision on the Council’s part. Putting Faith’s development as a Slayer into this young man’s hands was somewhat concerning.

On paper, his credentials were sparkling. What they did not mention was his experience in the field. Beaming proudly in response, he told Giles, “I have taken it upon myself to become extensively familiar with Sunnydale history, the origins of the Septarius scroll in your possession, and with the rather illuminating reports about my Slayer.”

Giles pressed his mouth closed and then offered his new comrade some tea. “I believe you will have better luck with Faith if you let go any preconceived notions about her.”

“Luck is immaterial,” he sounded certain of it. “It is my duty and therefore I will and must succeed.”

Oh, dear. Giles lifted his cup to his mouth hiding his smirk behind it. Idealism was hardly going to make an impression on Faith. It might be amusing to see how she reacted to her new Watcher especially since she had already protested that she neither needed nor wanted one. And yet it was necessary.

“When might I be able to meet her?”

The enthusiasm to get on with his new role was strangely annoying, and yet equally familiar. Giles could remember his own nervous anticipation at meeting Buffy for the first time. Whilst he had not expected to become Watcher to a second Slayer, acting as such on Faith’s behalf had been a challenge. They had only just settled into a steady working relationship building up the trust between them.

“Not tonight,” Giles sounded a bit perturbed. When Wyndam-Pryce’s brows shot up in reaction, he knew that he had noticed. Tempering his voice, he explained why. “I gave everyone the night off.”

Jaw dropping in reaction, he clipped, “Evil doesn’t take the night off, Mr. Giles, neither should Slayers.”

Giles watched him set down the teacup and rise to his feet. Perhaps this young man needed a little lesson in the realities of dealing with his new assignment. “Very well, then. I think it’s a good bet that you’ll find Faith at the Bronze.”

“The Bronze?” A frown appeared. “Is that a sort of nightclub?”

“I thought you’d researched Sunnydale extensively,” Giles could not help but mock the new Watcher. Enthusiasm was one thing, but overambitious idealism could be dangerous especially considering.

“Only what’s important.”

Showing him back to the door, Giles gave him directions to the eastside club. “A word of advice…”

“Yes, Mr. Giles?”

“Don’t underestimate what’s important to your Slayer,” he said. “These girls are young women with interests and…desires like any other. Stick to the training, but do not try to run every aspect of Faith’s life. That’s the road to failure.”

Mulling over the advice, he gave a curt nod, obviously still chock full of his own ideas on the matter.

“After you’ve seen and heard enough,” Giles told him, “come back here. I’ll fill you in on a few details you might not have read in the reports.”

Scene 61

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