First
written by Raynedancer


Rating: FRAO
Spoilers: Who Are You, To Shansu in LA.
Summary: After everything that's happened since Faith returned, Wesley really needs to talk to someone...
Dedication: To Brenda, who's fault it all is. *g*
Feedback Author: Raynedancer



Wesley brought the rental car to a halt. It was small and serviceable, but there times when he truly missed his motorcycle. Right at that moment he'd have given anything to be on his way to somewhere, anywhere...free and unfettered, without anything to think about but just...going. With a sigh he extracted his long frame stiffly from the tiny two-door, mentally thanking Cordelia for her thoughtfulness in her choice of model, and locked it up.

It was very late, but when he reached the familiar door he was surprised to hear music. On closer attention he realised it was live music. Rupert was accompanying himself on an acoustic guitar. He knocked tentatively. The music stopped immediately.

A moment later the door was unlocked and Rupert was standing there in black jeans and a black V-necked knitted shirt. Wesley swallowed. He was wearing a silver hoop earring and his hair was different.

"H-Hello," he said quietly.

The green eyes stared at him for a long moment, then the older man's expression softened. "Hello," he said softly. "Long time, no see."

Wesley looked down. "Y-Yes, well, there have been things...I have responsibilities now and-"

"Wesley," Giles interrupted. "Come in."

The apartment hadn't changed much.

"You sing beautifully, if I may say so," he offered, looking down at the guitar propped against the armchair Giles had flopped in once again.

He grinned, his cheeks reddening. "It's just something to do," he said self-depreciatingly. "So to what do I owe the honour of this visit?"

Wesley struggled to hold the gentle green eyes he'd grown to love so much, so quickly, but his gaze slid away again.

Giles frowned, but said nothing.

"I...I told Angel I was going to brief you...about Faith."

"Oh," Giles said quietly. "I'm truly sorry you weren't warned earlier. Buffy told me most of it, Cordelia the rest. From the sound of it Angel wasn't quite as impartial as he liked to think he was. I know Buffy isn't exactly level-headed when it comes to Faith, but it's not easy for her. She tried so hard to help the girl, only to be constantly slapped down, as you know. Angel knows what she did to Buffy; that she tried to kill Xander, Willow, to torture Buffy herself to death and tried to turn, and later kill him, even. The spectre of Angelus obviously still weighs heavily for him to have been that blind."

Wesley nodded. "I know. I remember how difficult it was for Buffy, for all of us. I was never so ashamed of the Council. And in hindsight I now understand what drove her to so foolishly pursue Faith to the extent that she did," he added through his teeth. "I believe now I would have done the same thing myself, in her place..."

Giles rose and went to pick up a tray with his whisky decanter and four glasses on. When he came back and slid it on the coffee table he poured two fingers of scotch into two of the glasses and handed one to the younger man.

Wesley looked at it then looked up. "I don't..." He stopped when he saw Giles' expression and took a sip, and then another, his cheeks immediately flushing crimson. "My word..."

"It'll help," Giles said softly, without elaborating. "Have you eaten?"

Wesley shook his head. "Haven't been very hungry lately. Had a good run up, though, pleasant, not too much traffic."

"How is Cordelia? I haven't spoken to her since she called to warn us that Faith was still at large and that she was making herself absent until such time as Angel rectified that situation."

Wesley looked up. "Oh, well, thank you. At least she is now. The last few weeks have been very hard on her, what with...Faith...and the visions."

"Visions?"

"Oh, yes...you know of course, that Doyle passed his gift of prophetic visions to Cordelia-?"

Giles nodded.

"Well, for a time she couldn't turn them off. They almost drove her mad before Angel found a cure. We've had rather a hectic time lately, what with Wolfram and Hart trying to kill Angel and raising demons from hell and such."

"From hell?" Giles demanded, alarmed.

"Well, yes. It all has to do with the prophecy...the one which says Angel will become Human again, one day."

Wesley was alarmed to see the colour drain from Giles' face. "I say are you-?"

Giles finished his drink in one gulp and put the glass down. "Fine," he said roughly and poured another two fingers.

"Is there something I should know?" Wesley asked almost timidly.

The older man looked up slowly. "Nothing I want to discuss," he said roughly, regret immediately softening his scowling features. "Sorry. That was uncalled for," he said quietly. "I'm fine, Wesley. Let's leave it at that. Why don't I find you something for dinner?"

"I could help..."

Giles looked at him inquisitively.

He shrugged sheepishly. "Cordelia expects me to make myself useful. I've become quite adept at the odd salad, slicing and dicing...putting the pate on the canapés..." he finished feebly.

Giles chuckled. "I think I can handle club sandwiches. I'm afraid I don't have much else in the place. The others were here researching a couple of nights back."

"Xander," Wesley guessed.

"Xander," Giles confirmed dryly, heading for the kitchen.

Wesley sat alone only for the briefest moment before moving to the stools at the breakfast counter and sitting on one.

For several long moments he watched the older man move around the kitchen, putting on the kettle, finding knives, bread. The long legs, the wide shoulders...the long back moving under the uncharacteristically clinging shirt.

Wesley swallowed. The new jeans were tight. He'd never seen Rupert in anything tight before. And their last...their only...night together was little more than a blur...a blur of warmth and joy and delight...but a blur none the less. It had been inevitable that Giles would be called away, and he was, cutting short any continuation of that encounter.

He wanted so much to feel that way again, to be...

He sighed. He hadn't exactly been welcomed with open arms this time. To be expected, really. He was, as a rule, fairly much a disappointment to everyone who ever meant anything to him.

Oh, my...

Giles had bent over to retrieve salad vegetables from the crisper drawer at the bottom of the refrigerator, the curve of his backside pressing against the fabric of his jeans. It was patently obvious that he wore no underwear, and the tautness of the curves taunted Wesley. He shifted uncomfortably, remembering the shower they'd once shared, the feel of those hands on his skin, the way...he shifted again on the stool, wishing he'd kept a tighter rein on his imagination and his libido.

"A-Are you sure there's nothing I can do-?"

Giles turned, a tomato in each hand, saw the flush in the smooth cheeks and grinned lopsidedly.

"Yes," he said affably and turned back to find a cutting board. "Just sit there and relax. Perhaps you could tell me what brings you all the way to Sunnydale?"

Wesley's spirits sank and with them the momentary tightness in his jeans. If he had to ask, then it was patently obvious that Rupert wasn't interested in reverting to their previous footing. He looked down at the counter. "As I said, I ... wanted...I came to give you a report on Faith's status, and to fill you in on the developments of late regarding Angel's destiny and the powers that are being meddled with currently by Wolfram and Hart," he said in a pompous rush, his voice cracking a little on the girl's name.

Giles stopped for a brief moment, then resumed his slicing. "Tell me about Faith," he said eventually.

Wesley's hands clenched. "She is currently being held on remand until a trial date is set. She has been charged with a number of offences, including the murder of that archaeologist, but fortunately... or... otherwise, they still don't know about the Mayor's Assistant. Probably for the best; there are far too many awkward details there, anyway."

"You've seen her?"

"N-Not since she was taken into custody, no. I believe Angel has been visiting her at least once a week."

"But not you?"

"No."

Giles finished tearing cress and began to assemble his sandwiches. "Do you believe that the girl is redeemable?" he asked quietly.

Wesley didn't answer.

Giles finished arranging the ham, cheese, cress, tomato and cucumber, and closed the sandwiches before cutting them diagonally with a large nife. He turned slowly with the plates and pushed one across to the younger man.

"Faith?" he prompted quietly.

"I believe that she is at best an unmitigated sociopath and at worst a homicidal psychopath who needs professional help. A lot of help, which she is un...unlikely to get in a penitentiary. And I still believe that Angel is no more objective than Buffy or I when it comes to Faith. We see what she has become...what she's...what she's done to...others whereas he seems only to be able to see a similar dichotomy in her to the one he recognises in himself." His expression grew haunted. "He's a fool. He thought he was saving her soul. He doesn't realise that her soul is as tainted as the rest of her. He just can't seem to grasp that just because his soul is not, because he, Angel, is untainted by the evil that is Angelus, doesn't mean that hers is also." Wesley didn't see the bitter expression that passed momentarily over the older man's handsome features. "Faith has a soul...has always had a soul...and yet chose to be what she is in spite of it...she willingly laid down her humanity to b-become wh-what she is. Angel w-wasn't given a choice. H-He doesn't u-understand..."

Wesley slid off the stool and strode across to the fireplace, annoyed with himself. He took off his glasses on the pretext of wiping them and surreptitiously tried to wipe the moisture from his face. He could see her face; hear her taunting voice ringing in his ears, the memory of her nauseating perfume mixed with sweat and the metallic taste of blood, cloying at his nostrils.

His mouth had gone dry and his palms sweaty and his heart was racing. He despised himself for his weakness, as he was certain Rupert would despise him even more.

Behind the counter Giles watched the slightly hunched figure in silence, his hands clenched and his mouth pressed into a flat line.

Wesley finally cleared his throat. "Any...any chance you might havesome coffee, there? I've grown rather...fond of the stuff...of late," he managed almost calmly.

A look of something, perhaps pity, flickered in the green eyes, then Giles' expression softened.

"I'm sure I can find some," he said gently, turned and went to pull his espresso machine from the dusty recesses of his pots and pans cupboard. He hadn't bothered with it in over a year, perhaps longer. Visitors weren't exactly an occurrence of note at casa Giles, and neither Olivia nor any of the gang liked anything but the sweetest, sickliest versions of 'coffee' known to man.

By the time he'd hunted down a crumpled, almost empty packet of grounds, tucked in the back of the refrigerator behind the extremely suspect looking, unused eggplant, and produced two mugs of the fragrant brew, Wesley was sitting on the sofa idly fingering the frets on his guitar.

The younger man's eyes were a million miles away.

Giles slid the tray, complete with Wesley's uneaten sandwich, onto the table and sat down at the other end of the couch.

"A fine instrument."

"Not really," Giles said mildly. "I've had it forever, but it's junk, really. Just can't bear to part with it."

"Have you...do you ever have trouble playing...with your fingers, I mean?" Wesley stammered, still not looking up from the guitar.

"Rarely." Giles sipped at his coffee, his eyes flashing. "Sometimes, in unusually cold conditions. Fortunately this is California..."

Wesley shifted uncomfortably and picked up his own cup. "Ah, yes," he said uncomfortably. "And how I detest it in all its dry, gaudy, common glory."

Giles saw the involuntary tremor in the long arm as the younger man brought the cup to his lips, and frowned again.

"It took a long time to regain more or less full use of them," he went on quietly. "Drove me insane, but I managed to conceal it for the most part. And I was lucky. For all the damage, there was very little impairment of the nerves."

Wesley finally looked at the older man, his deep blue eyes searching for something. "A-And the rest...?" he whispered.

Giles' face lost all expression. "The rest...?"

The blue eyes wavered, but didn't pull away this time. "You were tortured by an expert, I by an amateur. Please don't patronize me," he said through his teeth.

"I rather thought I was telling you to mind your own business," Giles pointed out acerbically.

Wesley banged his coffee mug down hard on the table, rose and strode toward the door.

Giles was there in moments. "She isn't worth it," he said softly.

END