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council_secrets
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May 2007
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As his father bids...


"I want you to go over to the British Museum and fetch Rupert Giles. He's needed here at the Council, not at that bloody hobby of his."

His father's words ringing in his ears, Wesley sat on the Underground's Picadilly Line, his arms crossed over his chest, not happy to have to be doing this at all. He had been hard at work on a translation in the Council library until his father had come in and pulled him out to send him on this errand. It was as if his own work wasn't important. For a moment, Wesley had wanted to say no - after all, he had been a full-fledged member of the Council for a year now, and errands like this were for Initiates.

But of course, when he had opened his mouth, he had acquiesced and quickly closed his books, straightening up his work area before picking up his suit jacket and slipping it on. The weather was rather nippy outside, so he had also grabbed his heavier coat from the cloakroom before heading out.

The weather didn't help his mood any. He had been so close to figuring out the declension of the demon language, and now that discovery had been delayed.

"I still don't know why they let that reprobate back into the Council, even after all these years. Nothing but trouble, that one, since the day he started at the Academy. Oh, but his grandmother and his father were Chairs of the Council. I suppose some people have to use their relations to make their way. You know better than that, don't you, boy?"

Of course, he did. He had learned very early that he was to never ask his father for help - he was to figure it out himself or not at all. And not at all was never an option.

So hearing that someone had used his family relations after having apparently left or been dismissed from the Council didn't sit well with Wesley. Especially when that person was apparently shirking his duties. And now he was causing him to put aside his own duties to fetch him.

When the tube train reached Russell Square, Wesley pushed his way through the oncoming crowd of people trying to get on and headed for the exit. It had started to drizzle while he had been below ground - and that just made this trip all the better - so he found himself hunching in his coat as he hurried as fast as he could down Great Russell Street to the museum.

The museum was busy with school outings and tourists loitering around. Wesley stopped for a moment to clean his glasses, then walked over to the information desk to inquire where he might find Rupert Giles. After a few moments, he was directed to the lower level to a closed area.

When he reached the gallery, he stopped for a moment, looking around until he saw a man on the other side. Straightening up, he threw his shoulders back and marched over. This Mister Giles had better not give him any problems as he had work he had to return to in short order.

"Rupert Giles? My name is Wesley Wyndam-Pryce. I've been sent by the Council to fetch you as you're needed straight away."

Current Location: London, England
Current Mood: gloomygloomy
Comments

"Mister Giles? Mister Cummings from Harvard is on the phone."

Giles looked up from the paperwork in front of him and let out a long sigh. He'd been dealing with Richard Cummings for the past month about an artifact Giles wanted for the museum. Cummings had promised the artifact, a set of texts dating back to the seventeenth century, but had yet to make good on it.

"Tell him I'm busy," Giles told his assistant before he went back to his paperwork.

"I sort of told him you were here and could take the call, sir," Thomas said with a sheepish look.

Giles reached up and rubbed his forehead. Why was it so bleeding hard for him to find a good assistant? All of them were overeager and rarely followed directions. He had someone, a young man, coming in for an interview later that day. Hopefully they were better than his current assistant. He could only hope.

"I'll take the call in here," he said as he picked up the phone. Once Thomas had hung up the other extension, Giles started his conversation. It was like all the others - Cummings promising the books, while Giles rolled his eyes. After twenty minutes, the call ended and Giles stood from his desk to stretch his legs.

Walking out into the gallery, he looked about and was about to go back into his office when a younger man approached him. Giles brightened up a little, thinking it was the person wanting the job, but when he introduced himself and said he was from the Council, Giles narrowed his eyes.

"I see their standards have gone down," he muttered as he looked Wesley over. "Roger's son I take it. Didn't he ever teach you not to speak of certain things in public places?"

The nerve of this man, waltzing into his museum and talking about the Council as if it was the most normal thing ever. It would seem the academy had stopped teaching the students tact and common sense. But, one look at the man in front of him, Giles could tell he was one of the employees the Council loved - the type that would do back flips in order to please them.

"Come along," Giles said, motioning Wesley toward his office. "If we must talk business, I rather do it in the privacy of my office."

Without saying another word, Giles turned around and went into his office.

At Mister Giles' remark about public places, Wesley immediately went on the defensive. They certainly were not in a public place as the gallery was closed, and he had made sure that no one was around. Besides that, just what exactly was he trying to imply about him being Roger Wyndam-Pryce's son with his tone? From what his father had said, this man certainly had no room to be talking about the standards of Council members.

Before he could say anything, though, Giles was telling him to come into his office. Wesley didn't want to go into his office. There was no reason to go into his office. The Council needed Giles, and that was all there was too it. Nothing about it to discuss.

But it seemed that he wasn't going to come until they had this talk.

Sighing deeply, Wesley followed him into the office. "I don't see what there is to discuss, Mister Giles," he said, crossing his arms and standing inside the doors. "I was sent to fetch you as you're needed. I wasn't told why, and it wasn't my place to ask. I have a translation that I need to get back to, so I don't really have time to stick around. Shall I tell my father and the others that you'll be on your way shortly?"

Giles stepped into his office and over to his desk before leaning against the edge of it. When Wesley didn't walk all the way in, and just stood there, Giles had to resist the urge to throttle him. He was Roger's offspring all right - even had the air of thinking he was superior around him. The apple didn't seem to fall far from the tree, and Giles was going to treat the younger Wyndam-Pryce much like he treated Roger.

"Good on you," he merely said as he stared at Wesley. "And, I have paperwork here to finish and an interview to conduct. I'm not at the Council's beckon and call. If they refuse to allow me to work at the headquarters, then they're going to have to wait for me." He pushed off the edge of the desk and circled it before sitting down behind it.

"Tell your father and Travers I'll be there when I see fit," Giles said as he started to look through his books. He sensed Wesley was still standing there so he looked at him over the top of his glasses. Shaking his head, he stood again and went over to one of the cabinet and pulled out a small weapon to compare with the one in the book.

"How long has the Council been allowing their errand boys do translations?" Giles asked as he continued to study the weapon.

Wesley was definitely starting to understand why the Council preferred that Mister Giles didn't actually work at the Council headquarters unless he was needed. He couldn't imagine anyone speaking about it the way they did. And he couldn't imagine keeping the board waiting the way Giles seemed wont to do.

Although by insisting that they have this discussion, he was causing Wesley to keep the board waiting. And he was fairly sure his father wasn't going to like that. Especially when he told him to tell the board that he'd be there when he felt like it. Wesley opened his mouth, wanting to tell him that he had been told to bring him back, but then he closed it again, quite sure this man didn't care. Why should he care what happened to Wesley when he returned to the Council without the person that he had been sent to fetch - it was quite obvious he didn't have any real respect for anyone on the Council.

He was trying to think of something to say to possibly sway Mister Giles' mind or at least something that he could say to his father to placate the anger he knew he would bear the brunt of when he heard the question. Frowning, Wesley straightened up, staring at him. Errand boy? He thought he was an errand boy?

"I'm not an Initiate," he told him, suddenly feeling the way he did when he was trying to justify the quality of his work to his father. "I've been a full member of the Council going on a year now. My specialty is languages, so I'm currently working in the research library on translations. I have no idea why my father wanted me to come get you; I simply did as he asked."

He stopped for a moment, wondering why he was justifying himself to this man who obviously had no interest in him. In fact, he was far more interested in the weapon he was holding, which, if wasn't mistaken... "I'm sorry - that looks like Roman pugio given its shape; however, the blade appears too small and the inlay is too intricate. That looks like..."

He suddenly stopped and remembered how Mister Giles had berated him, so he took a few more steps into the office to the edge of the desk and dropped his voice.

"That looks more like it would be a Pugliato of the Sentio demons. I recall reading that the demons were cursed Centurions that adapted the weapons of their human selves to their demon forms. The inlay is actually a symbol in the language the demons developed, used to curse whoever was cut by the blade."

When Wesley said he was a language expert, Giles looked up from the weapon. Language experts were usually regarded highly within the Council. Without them, the organization would be lost and have no one to translate ancient scrolls and texts. Why would they be sending a language expert to fetch him? The last time they had needed him, they had sent an intern. Then it dawned on him...

"Your father sent you because he's a git," Giles merely said as he went back to the weapon. It was rather obvious. Giles never remembered Roger having much to say about his son. Most Council fathers were proud of their sons, especially the ones that were following in their footsteps. Roger never said a word about Wesley. Perhaps the younger man was a black sheep like him, or Roger just hated him. Giles was banking on the latter since Roger hardly liked anyone.

Suddenly, Wesley was going on about the weapon and Giles furrowed his brow as he stared at it. "Of course!" He said as he shoved the weapon into Wesley's hand and went to shut the door. He then went to his private book collection and pulled out one of the texts. He quickly flipped through it and stopped on one of the pages.

"You're right. It is a Pugliato of the Sentio demons. I found a local 'dealer' that was about to sell it to a clan of demons in Oxford. I can only imagine what they would want with it so I outbid the clan and have been researching it ever since," he explained before he reached out and placed his hand on Wesley's shoulder. "Brilliant job!"

Mister Giles calling his father a git made Wesley start a little, his brow furrowing. No one dared ever called Roger Wyndam-Pryce anything of the sort, especially not if they valued their position within the Council. He might not now or ever be the Chairman, but he still had considerable clout. For Giles to get away with the things he said and did, his own family's influence had to be quite great indeed.

Of course, now that Wesley thought about it, he realized that was probably true. His father had mentioned Giles' grandmother and father - that had to be Enid Giles and Richard Giles, both two of the most respected Chairmen in recent Watcher history. But would the Council brook such attitude even from their progeny? Something told Wesley that Rupert Giles must have something to offer himself if he was still a member and if his father was so insistent that he fetch him, whatever the reason.

When he finished talking about the weapon the other man had been looking at, he wondered if he was going to be thrown out of the office for good now. He hadn't meant to speak out like that, but he had wanted to know, having never seen an actual Pugliato before, having only read about it. So when Giles shouted and shoved the weapon into his hand, Wesley's eyes widened. He almost dropped the dagger, but managed to hold onto it, silently cursing his clumsiness. That would have been a wonderful scene. Giles standing there with the book in his hand, and his precious demon weapon on the floor.

He found himself smiling when Giles told him he was right, telling him how he had come to have the weapon in his possession. What really surprised him, however, was his effusive compliment. His father had never even said anything like that before, and the instructors at the Academy had always been withholding with their praise of all students, so it was a bit strange to hear a stranger say it.

"Erm, thank you," Wesley said with a slight blush, sucking in his breath softly at the Giles' touch on his shoulder. He froze for a moment before remembering why he was there. "Glad to help. Although, I really should be getting back to the Council headquarters. You...I'm to tell them that you'll be along when you're able?"

Giles was so excited that he'd finally figured out what the weapon was, he'd almost forgotten his hand was still on Wesley's shoulder. When he saw the slight blush rising on Wesley's cheeks, Giles removed his hand and cleared his throat. He looked rather handsome with a blush to his face - it seemed to bring out the blueness of his eyes. "Right. The Council." He really didn't want to go but if they needed him, it had to be important. "We could take my auto and go back to the headquarters together."

Reaching over, he picked up the phone and pressed one of the buttons. "Thomas? Could you reschedule my interview for a few days? Some business has came up and I might be out of the office for a few days. Make sure Daniel is informed since he'll be in charge of the museum while I'm gone."

Once he was finished with the call, Giles placed the books and weapon away, making sure everything was locked up. He'd noticed a few of the patrons had came in with umbrellas so retrieved his jacket and slipped it on before he put his things in his briefcase. "I believe that's everything," he said as he looked up at Wesley. "My car is parked in the back."

He stepped out of his office, and once Wesley was out also, he locked the door and started for the back of the museum. Once they were at the backdoor, Giles pushed it open and motioned toward his car and started walking toward it, making sure to unlock the passenger side first so Wesley wouldn't have to stand in the drizzle.

It seemed to be an afternoon for surprises as Mister Giles didn't refuse a second time when Wesley mentioned the Council again. In fact, he was offering to drive both of them back there, and while Wesley hadn't expected that, he was most grateful as he hasn't been looking forward to walk back down Great Russell Street to the Underground. Not only was it still raining but it was also getting later, and that meant the Picadilly line would be a zoo.

Standing back after setting the weapon down on the desk for Giles to put away, Wesley clasped his hands behind his back to wait while he made his phone call and got everything squared away. He actually was clearing his schedule now, figuring that whatever the Council wanted, he was going to be tied up for days. He wondered what the Council had called him in to do before.

Once Giles was ready to go, Wesley followed him out through the back of the museum. The rain had got a bit harder but still wasn't much more than a drizzle. Still enough, though, that it would have made walking back to the tube quite miserable. So when Giles unlocked the passenger door for him, he smiled gratefully before sliding in.

"Thank you," he said before shutting the door.

As Giles circled around to get in the driver's side, Wesley realized that they really had got off on a bad foot. He didn't know anything really about this man other than an off-handed remark from his father. Of course, he had been taught that things at the Council were to be done by the book, so it was a bit strange to meet someone who so obviously flaunted that book yet was still regarded as so important as to necessitate calling in to help the board.

Grabbing the seatbelt, he buckled himself in while Giles got into the car. "Mister Giles, I'd...erm...I'm sorry for the way I approached you. I wasn't terribly thrilled to get pulled off my work, and...well, I thought that we were in a private enough area, but still...anyway, I appreciate you driving us back. Thank you."

Giles slipped into the car as he glared at the rain. It was one thing he'd never gotten used to, even though he'd lived in England all his life. Pulling his seatbelt over his chest, he glanced at Wesley as he apologized. "It's quite all right, Wesley," he said as he started the car. "I'm rather sure you've heard things about me from our colleagues." Giles left it at that, not wanting to get into a rant about Wesley's father and Travers.

However, he was sure they'd probably told Wesley enough about him, and most of it was probably lies. Giles hated having to explain himself but he found he often did when it came to his co-workers. "I'm not as evil as some at the Council paints me," he said as he started to drive toward the Council building. "When I was twenty, I made a mistake and walked away from Oxford, and the Council. I came here to London and fell into the wrong crowd, and honed my magic skills. When it became too much, I went home and my mother was worried I'd not amount to anything and I couldn't do that to her. So I begged my father to let me back into the Council."

He shrugged a little, not knowing if Wesley believed him or not. Giles wasn't sure what the other man had been told about him. "I suppose it was my time to rebel. I'd spent my entire life being made to study all the time. And then, I found out I had the destiny of becoming a Watcher," he said.

When the Council building came into view, he slowed and pulled into parking space. Once he was parked, they got out and went toward the building. They were barely inside when Roger came storming around the corner.

"It's about time," he scoffed as he looked at the two. "It doesn't take that long to get from here to the museum." He eyed Giles before shoving a stack of papers into his hands. "We want to know what sort of magic this clan is doing. It's of great importance. You know where the library is at and I expect it done by morning. Oh, and Wesley, you'll be assisting Rupert to make sure he doesn't ruin anything. Your translations will wait for another day."

Without saying another word, Roger turned on his heel and walked off. Giles looked over at Wesley, trying hard not to groan. He really wasn't looking forward to working with Roger's son.

Wesley had to fight to keep a shocked look from crossing his face with Giles started telling him about what had happened to cause him to originally leave the Council. The way his father had talked about it, it had sounded as though the Council had thrown him out, not that he had left in a fit of rebellion.

Wesley couldn't imagine doing that, though - he had known since he had been five that he was going to go the Watchers Academy and was expected to follow his father's footsteps into the Council. He could never have gone against those wishes, no matter how difficult it had been sometimes. He had always felt that the destiny to be a Watcher was important and not something that could be cast aside, no matter what.

He wanted to say something, wanted to know how he had been able to go what had been expected of him, but he couldn't bring himself to. He didn't know why. Normally, he would never have hold his tongue about such a thing as shirking one's duty for personal and selfish reasons, but for some reason, there was something about Giles that caused him to hold back. Something in his voice. Something that told him there was so much more.

And he had to admit that the comment about honing his magic skills intrigued him. The instructors at the Academy only taught the barest minimum of magic that they felt was needed for Watchers to do their job. Beyond that, magic was considered verboten, especially by his father. He still remembered how he had reacted the day he had discovered him using one of his books to try to resurrect a bird he had seen smack into a window and die, how he had burnt the pages from the book and then held his hand over the flame, telling him that the pain of magic addiction was even worse. And that there were forces that were never to be trifled with.

Instead, he just nodded, and when they reached Council, he sighed in silent relief. Giles could see the others about whatever they needed him for.

But as he had feared, he hadn't been fast enough as his father was accosting them before they had ever finished walking through the main doors. Wesley tried to explain that they had been detained by Mister Giles' work, but before he could, he was shoving paper at Giles and telling Wesley that he'd be assisting.

"But...I was...the translation is...I tried to..." he tried to protest, only to have his father leave without paying him any heed. Standing there for a moment, he just stared at the retreating back of his father before looking over at Giles. He didn't look any more thrilled that he was. "I...I suppose we should heard to the library and get started. The faster we get this done, the faster we can both get back to our own work."

As they walked to the library, Giles read the file that was given to him and ignored the whispers he heard as they passed other people. When he'd first came back to the Council, all the whispering bothered him but, over the years, he'd learned to just ignore it. The Council rarely called on him anymore, which meant he didn't have to deal with the wankers all the time.

When they arrived at the library, Giles went straight to the section he knew where he'd find the texts he needed. Once he had everything, he motioned for Wesley to follow him. "I rather like working in the backrooms. More privacy," he explained as he continued to walk through the stacks.

"Rupert Giles. Never thought I'd see you here."

Giles looked up and sighed when he saw William Travers, Quentin's nephew, standing there. The boy was a disgrace but was kept around because of his uncle. "I'm only doing a small assignment," he merely said.

William snorted and looked at Wesley. "Be careful of this one, Pryce. He'll either pick your pocket, kill you with magic, or try to get in your trousers," he said as he barked out a laugh. "When you're finish babysitting him, come by the lounge and I'll tell you some interesting stories about this one."

Giles cleared his throat and looked toward one of the back rooms. "We should start soon," he murmured as he walked off and went into the room. He sat the books and file down on the table and sat down. If he had his way, he'd be throttling William at the moment but he had to behave, and pretend it didn't bother him.

Wesley wished he had hidden himself better in the library while he had been working on his translation so his father couldn't have found him. Then he would have sent one of the Initiates to fetch Giles, and he wouldn't have had to delay his own work. As it was, he could hear the people talking as they headed through the corridors to library, saw the way the others were looking at them - no, looking at Giles. He wanted to tell them that he had just been assigned to help, but then he'd look over at the other man and stay quiet. Better not to draw any more attention to this, he decided.

He knew that he was being punished for not moving fast enough. He should have insisted that Giles not dally at the museum. He shouldn't have even said anything about Pugliato. Damn his curiosity.

They were almost to the safety of one of the back workroom - which Wesley had no problem with them using as it would keep them out of sight of the others, so he wouldn't have to explain himself to as many people later - when William Travers appeared. Wesley listened to the exchange between him and Giles, then felt his eyes widening at William warning to him. For a moment, he wasn't sure whether to be mortified or worried or...what. It wasn't as though he was planning on spending much time with this man - he was going to help him with this assignment and then get back to his own translations. At least that was the plan.

Giles didn't say anything to William's remark, instead excusing himself to the backroom. Wesley watched him for a moment, not knowing what to say. "I should...he's right. We need to get to work," he said.

"Just remember what I said, Pryce," William said with a laugh. Wesley felt himself reddening, feeling as though he had just spoken down to. Straightening up, he turned and walked into the room, sitting down across the table from Giles. He was going to keep them on track and make sure this was done quickly.

"May I see the folder my father gave you?" he asked, holding out his hand. "It would help if I knew exactly what clan he's having you look into."

Giles started to take notes on what he thought the demon clan was using. When he heard the door open, he looked up to see Wesley enter. He lowered his head, feeling a little embarrassed by what William had said just moments before. When the other man asked to see the folder, Giles picked it up and handed it over. "It's an Otelak clan. They're using some sort of magic to open portals to other dimensions. Supposedly the Council is afraid they're going to use said magic on a Hellmouth," he explained before he went back to his notes.

He opened up one of the books and flipped through it until he found what he was looking for. "I believe this clan isn't going to cause much damage. From what I remember about them, they're rather peaceful and they're probably opening the portals to help themselves - not to cause havoc on our world," Giles said as he looked up at Wesley. "Of course, the Council hates all demonic clans and they think all of them are evil, which isn't always the case."

Giles had came into contact with several friendly clans over the years but whenever he would write a paper about them, the Council would reject it. They seemed to believe if there were friendly clans out there, then they would be out of 'business'. They didn't seem to care that there was plenty of evil out there for them to conquer, or make deals with.

"What do you think, Wesley?" Giles asked. "Do you think the Council is just chasing ghosts?" He knew asking would probably get him in trouble since Wesley seemed to believe everything the Council told him.

Flipping over the folder, Wesley nodded as he read over the information inside as Giles explained. It seemed fairly straightforward enough - use the information about the kind of portals being opened and the way they were to track down the sort of magic that they were employing. That would give them a clue as to what their purpose seemed to be.

After reading through, he set the folder aside and reached for one of the other books. He had read about the Otelak clan before. They were mainly gatherers by means of magic, but he never recalled them using portals before. An aberration from normal behavior was always a bit suspicious.

He glanced up when Giles said that he didn't think that they were out to cause problem, his brow furrowing. Especially when he commented that the Council hated demon clans. Of course, it had been created to fight against the demons that brought evil into this world - they had to regard all clans with suspicion as it was their job. He didn't understand why this man - if he was so critical of the beliefs of the Council - continued to work with it.

He wasn't in the mood to start any sort of debate with Giles, however, knowing that would simply draw the whole process out, so he simply looked back down at the book. They weren't supposed to figure out motives - just figure out what magic was being used. But it seemed Giles had other ideas. Wesley looked up again when he asked his questions.

"I..." He wanted to say that he didn't think they were and leave it at that. It wasn't his place to question what the Council wanted done. It was their place to serve, and to serve based on the rules that had been in place for so long. But when he looked at Giles, he found it hard to spout that off to him - there was something in his eyes which said the other man wouldn't accept that from anyway.

"I don't know," he said honestly. "There are peaceful clans, I know, but this is a deviation from their normal behavior, and I don't think we can afford to say for certain based on their past behavior because this isn't anything like their past behavior. It's our job to make sure that they don't pose a threat."

He paused and glanced down at the book, flipping the page, suddenly wondering what he might have started by saying anything.

As Wesley spoke, Giles raised his eyebrows. Of course Wesley wouldn't question the Council's motives. He was probably taught to believe everything the Council said. They could tell the boy the sky was purple and he was eagerly agree with them, even as he was looking up at the blue sky. It saddened Giles to know so many brilliant minds were being wasted. The Council would always be set in their ways.

"I disagree," he said as he pulled the folder away from Wesley and dropped it to the table. He stood from the table and started to pace around. "The clan isn't the brightest. The magic they've been using is rather old. Who's to say they've just discovered the use of portals and other dimensions?" He continued to walk around the room and shook his head.

"The Council has a track record of bullying clans and making them adjust to Council rules. I bet this clan didn't listen and this is how the Council is punishing them. I'm rather sure the Council is doing this because the clan has discovered something and they want it. Really, the Council is so stuck on themselves that they wouldn't dare allow anyone to know they had gotten information from a demon."

Giles shook his head and leaned against one of the walls. If the Otelak had balked any offers made by the Council, he knew the organization was probably punishing them. And, they were using him, hoping he wouldn't see it and give them something to wipe out the clan. Giles wasn't about to become the Council's whipping boy.

Going back over to the table, he pulled the folder to him and quickly wrote something down. "It's finished. I've recommended the Council leave the clan alone. I'm sure none of them will listen but I've done by part in protecting the clan from the Council," he said, wondering if Wesley was going to fight him on it.

Had Giles even listened to what he had said? Or did he think that because he was fairly young and Roger Wyndam-Pryce's son that his thoughts were worth anything. If was obvious that he hated his father, so he was fairly sure that he was using that as an excuse not to listen to him either.

"We don't know that, though," Wesley said, putting the book down. "We can't just make guesses based on what we think we know! If we did that about everything, we'd have been overrun by demons and vampires long ago. That's why we have to do this research, so we know for certain!"

But it didn't seem that Giles was going to listen to him, going on about the Council being bullies and how this was all to hurt the clan. Wesley felt his hands clench, knowing that if his father had been in the room, he never would have allowed talk like this. He stood, not knowing how to handle this at all. If he went to his father, he just knew that he'd call him weak, tell him that he had disappointed him. And he'd probably never be trusted with anything important again - why should he, if he couldn't even handle a research project like this!

"Why are you even a member of the Council?" he finally said after Giles had scribbled something in the folder. "You think we're bullies; you treat us with derision. Why the bloody hell are you even still here? What's going to happen if you're wrong because you told them to leave them alone? You're making a guess without even really researching! Why? Because you want the Council to be wrong? Or because you can't bear to think that you might be? You made your decision, and you don't want to do research to find out whether you're right or wrong."

Wesley dropped back down into his chair and picked the book up again. He wasn't going to allow his father to see the mess that Giles had made of this. "Leave if you want to. I'm going to figure this out, whichever way it turns out."

When Wesley started to go on about why Giles was even part of the Council, Giles felt his jaw clench in anger. Who did Wesley think he was, asking him such questions? Giles had been part of the Council long before the other man had even stepped foot into the Academy. He had no right to question Giles' motives. Wesley knew nothing about Giles or his life.

"Don't you ever question why I'm still here. Unlike you, and your pompous family, my family actually cares about what happens within these walls. Both my father and grandmother fought to keep this place afloat so men like your father would have place to go and flaunt their power," Giles angrily said as he stood and leaned across the table. "I'm sure your father has done a fine job of brainwashing you, and beating the Council ways into you, but not all families are like that. Perhaps you should learn to think before you speak, Wesley."

Leaning back a little, Giles placed the books in neat piles and picked up his notes. "If you want to finish this unneeded project in order to keep your father and Travers happy, then be my guest. Just remember what I've told you while the Council is needlessly slaughtering this clan because they dared to step out of line," he snapped before standing from the table.

He stormed over to the door and placed his hand on the knob. Giles stopped and looked at Wesley. "Maybe someday you'll learn not to be their lapdog."

Wesley felt anger coursing through him at Giles' comment.

"How dare you," he seethed, standing up again. "How dare you imply that I don't give a bloody damn about what I do here! I've been studying and working for this since I was five years old, knowing what I was going to have to do! I didn't run off or rebel against it because I knew how important it was! No matter what my father said! No matter that what I did was never good eno..."

He suddenly stopped, realizing what he had almost said and swallowed as unshed tears started to sting his eyes. Ashamed that he had let this bloody irritating man goad him, he turned around and took several deep breaths to try to bring himself back under control.

Of course, Giles wasn't content to let it end there, saying that the Council would be allowing the slaughter of the clan. "You don't know that," he whispered, clenching his fists. "And maybe you should just leave."

Once Giles was gone, Wesley walked over to the wall and leaned his head against it for a moment before turning around and slumping down onto the floor.

Bloody Wanker.

Giles glared at Wesley, wanting to throttle him. He was too young to understand the real dealings of the Council. He was too busy blindly following his elders. He opened his mouth but stopped when he caught something Wesley said. His earlier assumption had to be right - Wesley's father had practically forced all of this on him and was always looking down at the younger man.

But, it didn't matter. If Wesley wanted to take over the research then he could. Giles wasn't going to help. "Goodbye," he said before he turned and walked out of the room.

He quickly left the library and stormed through the corridors of the Council. Luckily, he didn't bump into anyone and was able to make it to his car without incident. Getting inside, he cursed the rain, that was now falling harder, and started the car and drove back to the museum. Hopefully, the Council would leave him alone, unless they really needed him.

When he got to the museum, it was starting to close. He sent all of the employees home, saying he would close the building up when it was time. Once they were all gone, and the patrons had started to leave, Giles walked out into the main part of the museum and sat down by one of the displays. Soon it'll be time to close the building and he could go home and put all of this behind him, and maybe have himself a stiff drink.

"Where's Rupert, boy?"

Wesley looked up from the report he was finishing to see his father standing at the door to the workroom, his arms crossed over his chest. Taking a deep breath, he set the pen down and closed the folder before standing up.

"He left," he said quietly. "I was just finishing up the report."

"Oh?" Roger raised an eyebrow and stepped forward to pick up the report before Wesley could even move to give it to him himself. "And what did you two find?"

"The magic's harmless. Even though it's a behavior aberration, everything points to the fact that the clan simply discovered the ability to open portals and are using it for gathering since it's getting harder and harder for them to find resources here. They've made no move to actually leave their normal habitat save to through the portals - they always return when they're finished." Wesley took a deep breath, hating in a way that Giles had been right without even bothering to do the necessary research, but there was no way he would lie about what he had found just to back himself feel better. That was why he researched - so that the right information would be found. "We suggest that the clan be left alone."

"And allow them to possibly use that magic for other means? I don't think so," his father scoffed, closing the folder and tucking it under his arm.

"What...? What do you mean by that?"

"You said it yourself - they're deviating from their previous behavior, so obviously, they're not to be trusted. Who's to say they're not going to turn around and decide to do something different with this magic they've discovered? We can't risk it. Something has to be done."

Wesley suddenly felt sick to his stomach. "But they're peaceful, father. They've never shown anything indicating violent tendencies in the past, and they haven't now either. You can't just--!"

"Watch your tone, young man!" Roger berated him. "This is not your decision, and you'd do well to remember your place unless you'd like to find yourself moved over to demon clean-up detail."

Snapping his mouth shut, Wesley stood there for a moment before shaking his head.

"Good lad. Now, Travers wants that translation you were working on by the end of day tomorrow. Good night."

Roger left the room, and for a moment, Wesley stood there in shock before finally gathering himself. Picking up his jacket and belongings, he hurried out, following his father out into the corridor. He stopped at the top of the stairs, seeing his father standing with Travers, conversing with him as he pointed to the folder in his hand. Then he glanced up, giving him that look before both of them disappeared down the stairs, no doubt to make plans.

Giles had been right. Oh, God.

A little while, Wesley wasn't sure how he had got to the Underground. The rain was coming down much harder than before, and he was soaking wet as he road the Picadilly line north to King's Cross. He knew he probably should just go home, but instead, he found himself getting off at Tottenham Court and walking toward the British Museum.

When he arrived, though, he stood in the courtyard, looking up at the building. It was late, so he was sure it was closed. Still, however, he walked around the back to where Giles' car had been parked before. The car was there again, so he just leaned against the building while it continued to rain.

The last patron walked out the front of the museum and Giles locked the door behind them. The security guards had already checked the building, making sure no one was still left inside. Once everything was locked and turned off, Giles went back to his office. He pulled out a bottle of scotch and poured himself a glass. It down easier and he knew he had a better bottle at home.

He packed up his things and pondered calling the Council to see if Wesley had finished with the research. It wasn't any of his business though so he went over to his coat rack and pulled his coat from it. After slipping it on, he did a quick to make sure all of his books were locked up before walking toward the back door.

Giles walked out the door and hurried to his car. He unlocked the back door and put his things inside of it. It was then that he realized someone else was standing there. Turning around, he looked at Wesley and frowned. The look on his face told a hundred stories, and even though Giles had wanted to tell him 'I told you so', he didn't.

"I'm going back to my flat," he said as he unlocked the passenger side of his car. He didn't know why he was being so nice to Wesley but he couldn't stop himself. "If you want to come with, and talk about what happened, you can." He then moved to the driver's side and slipped into the car, and waited to see what the other man was going to do.

Wesley still wasn't sure why he was standing there in the rain. It wasn't as though Giles didn't have the right to brush him off when he came out. Perhaps it was better if he left and never saw the other man again. Just continue working at the Council, doing what he was told. It would be better that way.

But he couldn't make himself move. And when Giles finally came out, he just stood there, not able to say a word. If he didn't see him before he drove off, he'd just go home, get cleaned up, go to bed and then get up early in the morning to go back to work and finish the translation.

However, Giles saw him. As Wesley watched, he circled around the passenger side and unlocked the door, inviting him back to his flat. For a moment, he thought he should say no, go home, but without a word, he walked over and go into the car, closing the door. As Giles started the car up, he stared forward, watching the rain slid down the windscreen.

"You were right," he finally said, his voice low and rough, almost hoarse from having been out into the inclement weather for so long. "I doubled checked everything, looked at the behavior patterns. The clan is simply gathering, and I told my father that when he came for the report. Told him they should be left alone. He said...he..."

Wesley took off his glasses and pressed his fingers to his eyes. "He said something had to be done. I tried to reason with him, but...he threatened to put me on clean-up detail if I didn't shut it."

When Wesley got into the car, Giles let out a breath he didn't know he'd been holding. He somehow knew he would've insisted Wesley come with him, even if it were to just drive him home, if he hadn't gotten into the car. Perhaps Giles didn't believe in some of the Council's ways but he wasn't totally heartless and he knew he wouldn't allow someone to be left, standing in the rain.

As he drove, he listened to Wesley speak. He didn't need to be told he was right, or about Roger's reaction. Giles had an inkling this was why he was called in. They never called him in for anything important. Sometimes he felt like nothing more than the Council's whipping boy but he continued to help them.

"I remember the first time I found out what the Council was really about," Giles started to say as he turned down a side street. He didn't live far from the museum and knew it wouldn't take them long to get to his flat. "It was a few months after I'd came back. I was asked by Travers to do some research and what I found wasn't what he wanted. They went after a Slayer and ended up killing her younger sister. They said it was an accident but I have my doubts."

He remembered how broken up about it he had been. Giles felt he should've done more. "That's one of the reasons why I stay with the Council. I want to make sure that 'mistake' doesn't happen again," he comment as he pulled up in front of his flat. He turned and looked at Wesley. "I won't say I understand you, Wesley. We come from two very different backgrounds. I didn't know I was to become a Watcher until I was ten, and I'm rather sure you've known all your life. But, I don't like your father nor what he stands for."

Giles decided to leave it at that and got out of his car. After retrieving his things from the backseat, he led Wesley to his flat. Once they were inside, Giles placed his coat on the coat rack and went to the bathroom to fetch Wesley some towels. "Would you care for something to drink? I have scotch or I could make some tea," he said as he handed the towels to Wesley and led him to the living room. "I believe I'm going to have a glass of scotch. It's been a long day."

Wesley looked over at Giles, watching the light from streetlamps occasionally illuminate his face before fading out again as he talked about his first run in. The Council had killed the sister of a Slayer? He had never heard about that. Of course...why would he have? If they had done something like that, he was sure they wouldn't have wanted it to be common knowledge.

He felt as if his entire view of the Council had been shattered. Even though he had always known how his father could be, he had always held on to the fact that it was for the good that the Council did. He could take anything so long as it was keeping the evil that threatened them at bay.

But when they attacked those that posed no threat...he couldn't justify that.

When they reached Giles' flat, Wesley followed him inside, feeling himself starting to shiver a little from being so wet. He took the towels offered to him gratefully, taking off his jacket and starting to dry himself off the best he could even without getting fully undressed. That would have to wait until he was home.

"I...scotch would be lovely, thank you," he said. Tea just didn't sound strong enough at the moment.

Sighing, he walked over to the window and looked out for a moment. He didn't want to think about what could be happening to that clan at that moment. Instead, he turned around, glancing around Giles' flat, trying to find something else to concentrate on. He saw the collection of books and crossed over to them.

"First editions?" he said, wanting to touch some of them but not daring in case he ruined them with damp.

Nodding, Giles went over to his liquor cabinet and pulled out the best bottle of scotch he had. He watched Wesley for a moment, wishing there was more he could say. But, he knew the other man needed to process the information himself and would talk about it when he was ready to. He poured the two glasses of scotch and walked over to the bookcase Wesley was peering out.

"Yes," he answered as he handed one of the glasses to Wesley. "They belonged to my grandmother, and then father. He had given to me as a gift when I returned to the Council but I didn't think I deserved them. He ended up keeping them at our estate in Bath until his death. My mother made me take them. I haven't touched them since the day I moved into here."

Giles took a long drink and stared at the books. They were his father's pride and joy, and there were still times when he didn't want them. Yet, he took them because it was what his mother wished for. He didn't want to hurt her anymore than he already had when he'd ran away without telling them where he was.

He then glanced at Wesley and noticed his clothes was still a bit damp. "Let me get you something dry to wear. No sense in you catching cold," he quietly said as he sat his glass of scotch down. Without waiting for Wesley to answer, Giles slipped out of the room and went to his bedroom. He pulled out a pair of sweats and a t-shirt and brought them back.

"The bathroom is the second door on the left. You can hang your clothes over the shower rod since I don't have a dryer. I'll stroke a fire while you're changing," he said as he handed the clothes to Wesley.

Taking the glass of scotch from Giles, Wesley took a sip of it, the alcohol burning his throat on the way down. He closed his eyes for a moment and took a deep breath, letting it warm him. After a moment, he opened his eyes again and listened while the other man told him about the books. He looked at them again in awe, thinking of how much he'd love to sit in front of a fire and read them.

Of course, his father had first editions, but he had never allowed Wesley to touch them, worried that he would somehow damage them. Wesley had wanted to buy his own and had saved up money to do so, but once he had...he hadn't been able to make himself buy them when they time came. He was always worried whenever he touched ancient books at the Council, too, but there, he couldn't get around using them, so he was as careful as he could be.

He took another drink and shivered a bit just as Giles offered to get him some dry clothes. He wanted to protest, realizing that he had already put the other man out enough that day, but before he could, he was heading into the bedroom. When he returned with the tracksuit bottoms and t-shirt, he set the glass down and took them. He really was uncomfortable in what he was wearing.

"Thank you," he told him before heading to the bathroom. Once he was inside, he shut the door and quickly stripped off his wet suit, putting the pieces over the over the shower rod. He scrubbed himself dry with the towel he still had, then put on the clothes Giles had given him. For a moment, he just stood there in them.

Feeling dryer and much warmer, he headed back out into the lounge again and picked up his glass to take a drink. For a moment, he didn't know what to say.

"I'm...erm...quite sorry for the way I acted toward you earlier. I really thought I was doing right thing," he finally told him. "I appreciate...appreciate all this. You didn't have to, you know."

When Wesley left the room, Giles kneeled before the fireplace and placed some kindling in it before placing a few logs on top of it. With the fireplace lighter, he lit the newspaper at the bottom and waited until it was slowly burning. He stood up in time to see Wesley walk back him. He gave him a smile, happy to see he wasn't shivering anymore.

"It's my pleasure, Wesley," Giles said as he picked up his own glass of scotch and walked over to where Wesley was standing. "I rather wish I would've had someone to speak to after I'd found out what the Council was really about. But, I didn't. And when I saw you outside of the museum, I knew what had happened."

He shook his head and finished off his bottle of scotch and glanced toward the window. Fat snowflakes were falling from the sky and he sighed. "Looks like our first snowfall of the season," he commented as he walked over to the window and looked down at the street. Giles then turned and looked at Wesley. For the first time that day, he noticed how handsome the other man was, especially with the light of the fireplace on him.

Giles took a deep breath and turned away. He knew he shouldn't think of Wesley in that way, yet, he couldn't help it. It'd been ages since he'd been in the company of a male or female. It was partly because of the time he put so much time in at the museum, but, it was also hard for him to find someone who'd understand he had secrets he needed to keep.

Sighing, he pulled his tie off and undid a few of the top buttons before rolling up his sleeves. He then looked over at Wesley and smiled. "Are you hungry? I don't have much in the house but I could try and find something to eat. Or, we could order some take away if you'd like," he suggested.

Between the scotch and the fire that Giles had built, Wesley was definitely starting to feel better. He hadn't known what he had been doing when he left the Council, but know he was rather glad that he had ended up at the museum now. Talking to Giles had helped immensely, knowing that someone else had gone through the same shock and that he wasn't alone.

He wanted to ask him how he was able to face, it but before he could, Giles was at the window, talking about it snowing, so he decided to wait. He wasn't sure how he was going to get home now if it was snowing, but he figured he'd worry about that later. Instead, he found himself looking over at Giles and wondering about the look on his face before he turned away. Turning his gaze down to what was left of the scotch in his glass, he sighed softly, not exactly sure what he was thinking. There was...something, every time he looked at the other man, but...

Shaking his head, he tried to push it aside.

Suddenly, he realized that Giles was asking him about food. He hadn't eaten since that morning, he remembered, and now that he thought about it, he was a bit hungry. "I...I don't want to put you out," he said, gripping the glass tightly as he found his eyes roaming over Giles' bare arms before he forced his eyes up to met his. "Whatever you might have is fine. I haven't had much to eat today."

He wasn't sure whether to stay where he was or sit down. So he took another drink, draining what was left in his glass before setting it down on the coffee table.

"Can I ask a question?" he asked. "How do you stand it? Working for the board, and knowing what they're doing? I mean...they haven't always been this way, have they? Your grandmother and father were chairmen at one point."

As Wesley said how he hadn't had much to eat that day, Giles made the decision to call for Chinese. He hadn't ate much either and his stomach was started to burn from the scotch he'd just consumed. He was about to go over to the phone and fetch a menu when Wesley asked his question. Furrowing his brow, he thought it over for a moment before answering.

"I don't," he honestly said as he looked at Wesley. "I tolerate it because of my father and grandmother. When they were chairs, things were much different and when Travers took over the position, he changed the rules to fit his own needs. I stay because someone with a little honesty needs to be there. Plus, I've promised my mother I would. She rather worries about me and doesn't want me to get hurt, or in trouble."

He chuckled at that and went over to the phone stand to get the Chinese menu. "I'm quite famished so I think Chinese is in order," he said as he brought the menu over to Wesley. Giles already knew what he wanted to get.

As Wesley took the menu from him, Giles looked at him before reaching over and placing his hand on his arm. "I know it's difficult, Wesley, and I wish there were something I could do to stop it. It's just something that has to run its course because Travers has so many people on his side - too many for a for a few of us to stand up to. The best we can do it protect people from them," he said as he kept his hand on Wesley's arm.

Travers had been the only Chair that Wesley had ever actually known in terms of working at the Council. He had taken over several years before when the previous Chair had been killed. All the other Chairs, Wesley had only heard about through stories and records.

He was mulling this over when Giles mentioned getting Chines for dinner. At that, he felt his stomach grumble, so loudly that he was sure he wasn't going to be able to convince Giles that he didn't need to go to any trouble. Reaching over, he took the menu and flipped it open to look at it just as Giles put his hand on his arm. He was touching him again. For a moment, all Wesley could do was stand there, trying to remind himself to breathe.

Giles was just being nice to him. He couldn't be thinking...

"I..." Wesley finally managed to spit out before trailing off. He took a deep breath and looked over at Giles, almost freezing again as he looked into his green eyes. "So it's doing what you can and waiting for a change. And hoping that if something happens to Travers, my father won't end up in charge of things because if that happens, I don't think we have a chance."

Giles frowned and nodded his head. "There's a chance things won't change before I retire - actually, I doubt they will, but I'll continue to do what I can. It's all I can do, besides murder Travers and your father," he said before grimacing. "I'm sorry, Wesley. I shouldn't have said that. I shouldn't say such things about your father around you, no matter how much I dislike him."

It was then that Giles noticed his hand was still on Wesley's arm. It's been so long since he'd touched someone since most of the people he worked with at the museum were standoffish and didn't like others touching them. Plus, it was very professional. Yet, Giles couldn't bring himself to pull away. "The Chinese place closes soon. How about I pick something out for the both of us," he said as he took the menu out of Wesley's hand.

Giles walked over to the phone and rang the restaurant. He ordered a few items and rang off. When he was finished, he looked over at Wesley and motioned toward the sofa. "It'll be here in about forty-five minutes," he said as he sat down and smiled at Wesley. "Why don't you sit down? We can talk about something besides the Council."

He didn't know what but he figured they could find something to discuss.

When Giles joked about murdering Travers and his father, Wesley was stunned for a moment even though part of him wanted to actually laugh. He couldn't say that he hadn't ever considered what it would be like to be free of living in his father's shadow, to be out from underneath his thumb. But still, he was his father. He...cared about him. At least he tried to despite the fact that he never returned the affection he had tried to show him.

Giles' hand on his arm was more affectionate that anything Roger Wyndam-Pryce had ever done. Actually, everything the other man had done that night was more.

And he rather didn't want Giles to move away. It felt...nice.

He let him take the menu from him, nodding when he offered to order for them. He wasn't sure what he really wanted anyway, so he was sure whatever Giles got for them would be fine. It meant that he let him go though Wesley swore he could almost feel the ghost of his touch on his bare arm still.

He blinked when Giles suggested they sit down before walking over to the couch. He sank down, glancing at the older man's hands for a minute before looking at his own. He clasped them together.

"I'm...I'm not sure what to talk about," he said for a moment. "You...erm...said that you went to Oxford? What did you...what did you go there to study?"

For a moment, Giles thought Wesley wasn't going to join him. But, when the younger man walked across the room and sat down beside him, Giles smiled. He knew it would be polite to move over to give Wesley more room but he didn't want to. He was close enough to smell an odd mixture of old texts, shampoo and soap. It was a wonderful and his mind drifted for a moment, wondering if all of Wesley's skin smelled like that.

Wesley's question made his start a bit but he quickly pulled his thoughts back and looked at the other man. "History," he answered. "I'd always been fond of it, especially the dark ages. It only made sense I study it at Oxford." His mind drifted as he wondered what might've been if he would've stayed in Oxford. Would he be one of Travers' lapdogs?

"By the time I saw the error of my ways, it was too late to go back. I wanted to though but I've spent the last twenty years of my life working at the museum and helping the Council when needed. I believe you learn more from experience than books," he said as he glanced at Wesley for a moment. He couldn't help but to wonder if Wesley had any experience or if all of his knowledge was from books.

As he continued to look at him, he noticed a small piece of lint on his shoulder. Giles reached over and plucked it off before giving him a soft smile. "How about you? Did you go to Oxford also?"

Wesley was highly aware of just how close Giles was sitting to him on the close. So close that he could smell the scotch and aftershave on him. It was a rather heady combination - so much so that he almost didn't hear Giles' answer to his question.

But given what he did at the museum, how much he obviously knew, History made sense. He could just see him, head bent over old texts and other artifacts from bygone eras, piecing together their story and history. He wondered for a moment what spending a day with him at the museum would be like. He thought he'd quite like that.

Suddenly, her realized that Giles was reaching for his shoulder and looked over as he picked at something. "I...erm...no," he told him. "I went to Cambridge, same place my father attended. I studied Classics, Linguistics and Languages, so it took me an extra year to finish my degree work. I...I wanted to know as much as I was able before I went back to the Council to take my place as an Initiate."

Giles listened to Wesley as he dropped his hand to his lap. If he had his way, he'd touch the other man more but he didn't want to overwhelm him. In all honesty, he didn't know what he was doing. He felt he was being foolish and thinking too much. A little human contact and he was acting like a hormonal teenager again. It wasn't fair to Wesley and he needed to stop it.

"Ah, Cambridge," he said, nodding his head. He looked toward the fire for a brief moment before looking at Wesley again. "My father went there also but, since I seemed to want to go against everything he stood for, I chose Oxford instead. He was rather upset with me for a while but eventually got over it once he saw how happy I was. Sometimes I wish I would've stayed instead of coming here, and getting caught up with the group of hoodlums I found."

He sighed and tried to think of something else to ask the other man. Giles didn't want the conversation to die, especially since they still had close to thirty minutes before the food got there. "Are you seeing anyone?" he asked, wondering where the question came from. Maybe he wanted to compare notes. "I've found it hard to find anyone to date, especially since I'm the member of a secret organization. It's rather hard to tell someone why you're being so secretive."

Giles then shrugged his shoulders and looked toward the fire again.

"I was...my father told me I was to go to Cambridge and join Peterhouse College, and that was all there was to it," Wesley told Giles. "I did actually rather like it once I was there. It was...different from the Academy. A bit strange at first, though, because most everyone there had no idea that demons and vampires exist."

He looked toward the fire for a moment before sitting back and stretching out his legs a little. He was normally used to sitting for long periods of time as well as walking and running since Watchers and Council members were expected to stay in top physical condition, but he found he was a bit restless. Possibly because of what had happened, he wasn't sure.

Just as he sat forward again, Giles asked his question, causing Wesley to look over at him in surprise. When he opened his mouth to speak, he felt his voice catch in his throat and swallowed hard. "I...erm...well...not--well, not right now, no," he told him. And then because he wasn't sure what kind of answer Giles was looking for, he found himself continuing, "I mean, I've dated, of course. I...my first year of Cambridge, I met a lovely girl. Quite liked her...a lot, but...she moved--transferred to an American university. Then in my third year..."

He paused for a moment, looking down at his hands, wondering if he should tell him the next part. It had taken him a while to get over what had happened, the way it had all ended. Once again because of his father.

"In my third year, I met Alexander. I...also quite liked him, but my father...he found out, and he told me..." He took a deep breath. "I was told that I was losing focus, and I was to forget him. I...letting him go was the hardest thing I ever did."