Rating — UK 18 or R18, or FRM
Warnings — Smut, with Spanking.
Part 5 — Wesley and Faith
The door banged, and Giles smi... She jumped and came back to herself. Actually, Giles wasn’t smiling. Giles had that strained look he wore a lot of the time when Faith and Wesley were about, the look that she was beginning to know meant that he was nervous about what Faith was doing and about whether Wesley knew what she was doing. Or whether Wesley knew what he was doing. Even if she hadn't seen them across the library, she thought she would have known that Faith and Wesley had come in.
“What’s happened?” Giles sounded resigned; Faith and Wesley exchanged glances.
“What makes you think anything’s happened, G?” It was a challenge, and Giles’ expression showed that he knew it.
“You’re half an hour later than you announced you would be; you have mud on your face and Wesley is coated in what looks like brick dust. He is also out of breath, he’s favouring his left hand which obviously hurts, and the pocket of his jacket is ripped. I can see that neither of you is seriously injured, but plainly your plan did not go... ah, according to plan. I say again, what has happened?”
The pair of them exchanged glances again. “Nothing serious,” said Faith airily; Giles frowned and waited.
“The demon is dead,” offered Wesley, rather uncertainly.
Giles looked politely interested.
“I killed it,” said Faith firmly.
Giles leaned back against the desk and folded his arms.
“It wasn’t the cleanest kill, possibly,” admitted Wesley, “but all’s well, and all that.”
Giles tipped his head slightly to one side, crossed one ankle in front of the other, and raised an eyebrow.
“And that’s the important thing, after all,” agreed Faith.
Giles inclined his head a little further and raised the other eyebrow.
“All right, it caught us a little by surprise,” confessed Wesley in a rush. “It wasn’t a Foreg after all, it was a Mau, so the metal swords weren’t altogether as useful as they might have been, and Faith had to improvise with a couple of breezeblocks, which is where the brick dust came from, and...”
Giles came upright abruptly. “A Mau? And you were expecting a Foreg? Based on what?”
Wesley looked at Faith and hastily looked away again. “Based on, on, well, I understood, the coloration and size, and, and...”
Giles was frowning. “I thought that what took you out there was the footprints, originally? And then you followed it up with eye-witness reports?”
“Well, well, yes, the footprints, and then we, that is, I, and Faith...”
“Wesley, the footprints of a Foreg are nothing like the footprints of a Mau. Footprint recognition was a first year foundation course when I did my training; is it not still?”
Wesley looked silly and didn’t answer.
“And your eye-witnesses: as you say, coloration and size are useful identifiers. How did your eye-witnesses confuse a deep blue demon the size of a large dog with a scarlet demon the size of a small car?”
Wesley didn’t answer that either, and Giles’ eyes narrowed. “How reliable were your eye-witnesses?”
“I, um, well, I asked, of course I know I should have gone myself.”
Giles made the connection. “You didn’t go. You turned out based on hearsay? Or... no, you said you should have gone yourself. So who did go?”
Wesley made an obvious effort and looked at Giles. “I, I fully accept that I ought to have gone myself,” he said pompously. “The rest is, is...”
Giles turned on Faith. “He didn’t go. Please tell me that you did.”
She shrugged. “I went.”
“The eye-witness had disappeared.”
“Well, that’s the thing about disappeared, G. You don’t get to know where to.”
“You make enquiries,” snapped Giles, sharply. “You search. Did you do either?”
She shrugged. “Asked around. The witness was gone. Nobody had any idea where. I asked what he had said. Nobody was very sure, but one old guy said that the witness said that the demon was the colour of a pickup truck outside. He pointed, and it was blue.”
Giles inclined his head once, slowly. “And was that the only truck outside? Where was this witness?”
Suddenly Faith looked as silly as Wesley had done. She looked away. “Dealership. Guess he didn’t meant the truck I thought he did.”
“A dealership?” There was no way Giles could have sounded any more dumbfounded. “Your witness pointed outside at a dealership and you didn’t confirm which vehicle he was pointing at? Bloody hell. So the pair of you went out looking for the wrong demon because the Watcher didn’t follow up the report, and the Slayer didn’t track down the witness and hadn't the natural wit to confirm what she was told?”
Faith shrugged insolently. “Demon’s dead for all of that, G. Take a chill pill, why don’tcha? It’s not that big of a deal.”
“Not that...” Giles swallowed hard, and suddenly realised that Xander, Willow, Oz and Buffy herself were listening, fascinated. “Wesley, a word, please. In the office.” He turned away without looking to see if Wesley followed him, confident, capable, the Watcher who would never make such an elementary mistake. Wesley, shoulders hunched, face showing a mixture of resentment and apprehension, followed. Faith looked around at the others, plainly seeing that they agreed with Giles, and chose to go too, slamming the office door behind her so that the blind rattled and fell against the glass, leaving only vague figures to be seen from outside.
Giles was beyond mad, she knew that. She knew why, too: Giles was mad at Wesley for not doing his job right, and putting Faith in danger. That wasn’t hard: Giles got real mad at any of them if he reckoned that they weren’t taking the slayage seriously, and she was likely to get hurt along of it. He didn’t like Faith much – none of them did – but she was a Slayer and nothing offended Giles like the thought of a Slayer getting hurt. She reckoned he was mad at Faith too, for putting herself in danger, for not taking her own slayage seriously. He was spitting tacks, but of course Giles was too much of a proper English gentleman to rip Wesley a new one in front of them. Snippy remarks, yes; sarcasm, yes; a proper telling off from a senior Watcher to a junior? No, that would be done in private, and Giles wouldn’t think that he’d been fired, he had no right to get on Wesley’s case. He would think that a careless Watcher might end up with a dead Slayer and she reckoned Wesley was about to get his ass handed to him big time.
Well, it might do him some good. From what he and Faith had said, he had it coming, and frankly so did Faith, or ought to. It didn’t matter that Giles wasn’t really supposed to be a Watcher any more. Even if it wasn’t official, he had every right to...
Well, to what? What did a senior Watcher say – or do – to a junior one who had screwed up? She couldn’t imagine.
She could. She could so imagine it. She could so imagine Giles facing Wesley down and asking him, and asking...
“What in hell’s name did you think you were doing? You know how important it is to be properly prepared – for the Slayer to be properly prepared.”
“Mr Giles, I, I know that I’ve fallen down on an aspect of my job...”
“Wesley, keeping the Slayer alive isn’t an aspect of your job. It is your job. It is the be-all and end-all of your job. It is the only reason you are here. It is the only reason you went through however many years of education and training to become a Watcher.”
“I made a mistake!”
Giles nodded. “You made the mistake. Who teaches recognition practices now? It was Christie in my day and he would have had your balls for such a basic mistake.”
Wesley went limp. “It’s still Professor Christie.”
“Gods and goddesses preserve you then, because Christie won’t. Not once that gets to the meeting of the Section Heads. Jesus bloody wept, a mistake like that from an Active Watcher? You might as well go and pack, Wesley; Christie’s going to want your head, and he’s got enough seniority that Travers and your father won’t be able to save you.”
Faith quivered with indignation. “You’re gonna grass him up? For making a mistake? You telling me you never screwed up, G?”
Giles looked disdainfully down his nose at her. “I, I beg your pardon, I don’t think I understand you.”
“You gonna tell on him, run tattling to, to what did you call them? Section Heads? Because he made a mistake?”
“I,” said Giles coldly, “am going to do precisely nothing. Wesley, as you put it, screwed up. That is his own responsibility. An Active Watcher submits a monthly report, in writing, to the Section Heads of the Council, in advance of their policy meeting. Wesley will report his own actions. The senior staff will act as they think fit.”
She looked at Wesley. “Don’t tell them.”
Giles’ expression was polite disdain; Wesley’s was blind horror. “Of course I have to tell them!”
“Why? I wouldn’t.”
Giles smiled a little, and the ‘no, you probably wouldn’t’ was all the louder for remaining unsaid. Wesley continued to look shocked.
“It’s, it’s a matter of honour. We Watchers,” and he cast a slightly conspiratorial look at Giles, who looked a little less blank and a little more sympathetic, “are expected to, to police ourselves. To take responsibility for our own actions. We have to judge ourselves to make sure that we’re fit for our work. The Watcher Diaries aren’t just a resource for future Watchers and Slayers, you know. They’re...” He struggled for a word.
“Confessional documents,” said Giles, calmly. “I must admit, I’m quite glad that I don’t have to send mine back to London any more. One pleasant consequence of losing my official status: nobody sees it now but me.”
“You still write it up?” Wesley was curious; then he flushed. “Sorry. Not my business.”
“I do,” agreed Giles. “Habit, partly; partly that writing down the day’s observations helps clear the mind. Admitting to one’s faults is painful but necessary. I continue to do it because I think it’s valuable, even without the idea that someone else will read it.”
Faith was gaping at them. “Yeah, but... you’re expected to tell them in London that you screwed up, when you know that they’ll...”
“In all likelihood, they’ll recall me,” said Wesley, miserably. Faith turned her gaze onto Giles. He shrugged.
“Don’t look at me. It’s between Wesley and his conscience. I won’t interfere if he doesn’t do it.”
“But you’ll despise him!” Faith was outraged. He shrugged again.
“I know what Wesley did – or rather didn’t do. It’s serious, Faith. I’m more concerned about that than about, about him telling people in London. I don’t suppose Wesley cares what I think about his character.”
Wesley made a faint miserable sound, that somehow made it plain without words that he did care, he cared a great deal.
“But...” Faith was still outraged. “You seriously think he’ll get canned? For something that was half my fault?”
“When Professor Christie hears? Yes.”
“Do something about it!”
She couldn’t keep still; three paces took her across the office, and the same back again. “G, it’s not fair!”
“It’s not fair that Wesley should be held accountable for actions that might have resulted in your death? In the Hellmouth being unguarded until your replacement arrived?”
He made a face of partial agreement. “But that has nothing to do with it. You – the pair of you – didn’t do what you did based on Buffy being here. It was sheer laziness and lack of application. In any event, there isn’t anything I can do. It’s Wesley’s decision and he can live with the consequences either way. I do believe, yes, that if he confesses, Professor Christie will insist on his recall. I will promise you, if you like, that if he chooses not to, I will not say anything unless, by some unlikely chance, I am asked directly. I will not lie, but I can’t imagine why I should be asked.”
“But you’ll despise him.” She repeated it, accusingly.
“Why do you care? I know you’re indifferent to what I think of either you or him. I’m not convinced that you care much what he thinks of either you or me.”
She cast him a look of some dislike, and Wesley one of mild contempt. “I don’t, much. But Wesley goes on and on about Mr Giles says. I can’t stand the nagging.”
Wesley blushed; Giles averted his eyes politely and said nothing. Then Wesley coughed nervously. “There’s... that is, if you... I would...”
They both looked at him. His blush deepened.
“I was... I was just thinking that you’re my senior, and, and I know that technically you have no standing but...” He dried up. Giles looked impatient.
“What about it, man? Spit it out.”
Wesley looked imploringly at Faith. “This is Watcher business; you, there’s no reason why, it won’t interest you, you could just go.”
She shook her head. “Not going until this is sorted, Wes.”
“Mr Giles has already promised...”
“And you haven’t. G’s right. Spit it out.”
Wesley looked past Giles’ ear at the pinboard behind him. “I was mentored by Richmond,” he said loudly, and then stalled again. Giles looked puzzled.
“Do I know Richmond? Do I need to? I knew a David Richmond; he was tutoring when I went in first, but I haven’t seen him in twenty years. He can’t be who you mean, surely? He must be retired by now.”
“His daughter,” said Wesley, in a strangled tone. “Louise. Ten years older than me. Um... Old-fashioned in her mentoring methods.”
Giles continued to look blank. Faith sighed, noisily. “Wes, I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
Wesley looked at his feet. “The annual intake of Watcher trainees has a Novice Master or Mistress, one of the tutors, who’s in charge of, well, everything. You can’t go on to the next stage of training until the Novice Master approves. As well as that, each trainee is given into the care of a recently qualified Watcher, a mentor, three or four trainees to one mentor. There are some rather old-fashioned rules within the mentoring agreement. One of them is that if the trainee screws up, he’s supposed to confess, of his own accord, to the Novice Master. There’s an understanding that if the screw-up is relatively minor, the mentor deals with it and the Novice Master never gets to hear about it, or pretends not to. Rather like, well, like dealing with the prefects at school, rather than with one’s House Master.”
He ground to a halt; Faith was wearing an expression of total exasperation. “Geez, Wes, get to the point! So what?”
Wesley refused to catch anybody’s eye. “I was just... it was just...”
Giles sighed. “You were just what?”
“You’re my senior,” said Wesley again, despairingly, begging for comprehension. Faith thought she had it.
“So you confess to Giles, Giles says you’re an idiot, you agree, that’s the end of it? Cool. Do that.”
Giles said nothing; Wesley looked at his feet. Faith stamped her own foot. “What? What am I not getting?”
“It’s not enough,” said Wesley, quietly. “That... that’s just the same as me not telling them in London and trusting Mr Giles not to tell them either."
“With the added effect of trying to shift the responsibility to my shoulders, both morally and as it relates to the Council,” added Giles dryly. “No, thank you.”
“No!” wailed Wesley. “That’s not what I meant!”
“Well, what do you bloody mean?” Giles snapped. “Stop pussy-footing around the subject, Wesley, and say what you do mean.”
“Louise Richmond was, she, I, she used the, the, insisted on the full terms of the agreement.”
Giles made a sudden leap to understanding and laughed aloud. “Good lord! She never did? Even in my day that was old-fashioned – we certainly never... She... seriously?”
Wesley, scarlet, nodded.
“She did what?” pushed Faith, irritated. “Wes, what are you talking about?”
Wesley bit his thumbnail. “Please, Faith, just go away? Let me talk to Mr Giles?”
She shook her head obstinately. Giles rolled his eyes; he was learning bad habits from the Scoobies. “I fear, Wesley, that you will have to spell out what you want. I am not taking the risk that we aren’t fully understanding each other. Faith, go away.”
She leaned back against the door, mirroring his own stance. “No. Talk, Wesley.”
Wesley took a deep breath and addressed the telephone on the desk, refusing to look at either of them. “The mentoring agreement goes back... a couple of hundred years at least. Things were... were different. The trainees were, they used to be younger. The mentor has the right – and it’s never been rescinded, although Mr Giles is right, it, it fell out of favour after the War.”
“Nouns, Wesley,” said Giles, amused. “Also verbs. And keeping to the point – you’re hiding among subordinate clauses."
From Wesley’s expression, he was expecting the telephone to do something terrifying at any moment; he stared fixedly at it. “A mentor has the right to punish a trainee.” He swallowed hard. “Physically."
Giles nodded, slowly, once. “And in that case, the matter is considered closed, and the Novice Master is not informed of it. As I say, I have never actually heard of a mentor who did it.”
“Louise did. You... you could.”
“I am not your mentor and never was. The Council never found me reliable enough to give me mentor status. You are no longer a trainee, you are a fully fledged and apparently trusted Watcher.” He held back the ‘God knows why’ but again, they all heard it.
“You’re senior to me, and, and I don’t know enough to...” Wesley swallowed again. “I’m not ready to Watch for a Slayer. I don’t know how.”
“I don’t work for the Council.”
Wesley managed an unconvincing smile. “They know you’re Watching for Buffy. You’re... de facto if not de jure.”
“Wait,” said Faith blankly. “Huh. Wes... you’re suggesting... what? That Giles should... huh?”
There was a long silence and then Giles said calmly, “Say it out loud, Wesley, what you want. I told you, I’m not risking discovering that you don’t mean what I think you mean.”
Wesley shut his eyes. “Louise would have given me twelve strokes of the cane,” he whispered. Faith gaped at him, and then at Giles.
“And you think he – Giles – should do that?”
Wesley nodded, eyes still shut. Faith stared at Giles. “You gonna?”
He hesitated; Wesley gazed at him imploringly; he nodded once, sharply, and they all pretended not to hear Wesley’s gasp of relief. “I, I don’t quite know how we’ll arrange it, because I have no idea where one would go for a cane here...”
“I have one,” said Wesley, in a small voice. “Louise made us all keep one in our weapons cases. Mine’s still there.”
Giles maintained a carefully blank face, but Faith smirked. “This Richmond chick musta been quite something, huh? Kept you in line?”
Wesley coloured again; Giles turned on her. “You think it’s amusing? This is serious, Faith, it isn’t something that, that...”
She shrugged nonchalantly. “Whatever. The Council’s never made it out of the Middle Ages and neither have you. I’m not sure Wesley’s ever even made it that far. God knows why he wants this; God knows why you agreed to do it. Kinky, both of you. Maybe that’s why? That what you want, G? Bit of...”
“Shut up, Faith,” snapped Wesley, suddenly finding his tongue. “That’s not why... it’s not Mr Giles who... it’s me.”
“You the kinky one? Wouldn’t ever have thought it of you, Wes.”
“Just go, Faith.” Giles sounded contemptuous. “Wesley is facing his own inadequacies and correcting them as best he can. You don’t even recognise yours. I do: you’re thoughtless, careless, amoral, casually unkind, selfish and not nearly as clever as you think you are. You’ve already admitted that you were as much at fault as Wesley here, but you certainly wouldn’t have the courage to accept correction. Get out.”
There was a brief moment in which she stared at him, her mouth dropping open. “You calling me a coward?”
“Yes. You’re a coward, you’re a liar, and you’re a user. Wesley’s worth two of you.”
Wesley gave a squeak of surprise, hastily muffled.
“Excuse me? Wes told me I was facing a Foreg that wouldn’t come to my knees, and I had to rescue him from a damn big thing! Without me he’d be demon-chow by now!”
“And who told him the wrong colour? You’re all mouth, you absolutely haven’t the courage even now that you know that we know, to admit to your own mistakes. Go away. If you’re not taking your own share of the penalty, you don’t get to watch while Wesley does.”
“Are you suggesting... what are you suggesting?”
He didn’t allow his eyes to leave Faith. “Fetch the cane, Wesley.”
Wesley, silently, slipped past Faith into the library and made for the weapons cage, coming back with a case which he set on the nearest table. Giles, with one last contemptuous glance at Faith, joined him and watched as he opened the box and removed two swords from their bindings, setting them aside and rolling back the padding beneath. The cane lay diagonally across the base of the box. Giles reached for it, drawing it out carefully, and testing it between his hands for the degree of spring. Wesley shuddered, and Giles glanced at him.
“I, I was never a mentor, Wesley, but I do know what I’m doing. My father was strict with my brother and me and I may not have been Head Boy at the Watchers’ Academy, but I was the senior prefect at school.”
“Sweet,” sneered Faith; Giles cocked an eyebrow at her and made the cane hiss viciously in the air. Despite herself, she flinched.
“Are you still here? I told you: if you haven’t the guts to take your fair share, go.” The cane hissed once more. “Twelve for Wesley or six each. Not keen? I can’t say I’m surprised.”
Faith looked at Wesley, who turned his head away. Giles laughed. “Wesley’s conflicted, Faith: he knows how much it hurts. He won’t admit it, but deep down he wants you to take half of it to save his arse. He’ll never say so because he thinks that as a gentleman – which he is – he should save a lady – which you are decidedly not.” He paused for consideration. “There may also be an element,” he allowed, “of him believing that I would think badly of him for allowing you to be hurt when he could prevent it. In that, he is mistaken. With another woman, possibly I would think so. In your case, I would not. I think you deserve a caning at least as much as he does, but I doubt if you could take it."
She sputtered indignantly. “I can take whatever he can!”
Giles raised a disbelieving eyebrow and looked down his nose; she quivered with rage. “I can! Six each, G.”
Wesley looked up in amazement. “Faith...”
“I can! What do we have to do?” That sounded a little less sure. Neither Wesley nor Faith saw Giles smile to himself as he moved a little further into the library.
“Wesley, what were Miss Richmond’s rules?”
Wesley looked blank for a moment, before catching up. “Just, keep still. If you put your hands behind you, or tried to get up without permission you got that one repeated and an extra one at the end for cowardice.” He shuddered; obviously there was an unpleasant memory there.
“Good enough. My rule is, no swearing. I don’t care how much noise you make, provided it doesn’t include bad language. Same penalty – the stroke repeated and one extra for lack of self-control. One of you at each end of this table, please. Bend over. Faith, I recommend that you hold on: I think this may surprise you.” Wesley obeyed without enthusiasm but without hesitation; the desk took him mid-thigh and he settled his elbows on the surface, his hands going wide to the table edges, and his chest lowered between his forearms, head turned to one side. Faith watched, and copied him. Her shorter stature left her more neatly doubled over the edge, but she kept her head up.
“We’ll go in twos, I think,” murmured Giles, affably, and stepped behind Wesley, who screwed his eyes shut. “I, I imagine that you’ll both wish soon enough that you’d worn denim.”
Wesley’s eyes snapped open again. “Hell, she’s in leggings!” he discovered. “Mr Giles...”
“I’ll allow for it,” Giles assured him, lining the cane neatly across the seat of Wesley’s own fine wool trousers. Wesley braced himself conspicuously; the cane gave that horrible hissing sound again, and cracked loudly. Wesley jumped, and his knuckles turned white on the table edge, but he made no sound. The second stroke made him grunt; Faith’s expression was slowly morphing from indignation to apprehension, unrelieved when Giles strode from Wesley’s end of the table to hers. She half twisted to look at him; he smiled at her but she didn’t seem to find it reassuring. “Eyes front,” he chided, mildly. “You don’t need to see.”
He didn’t tap the cane so she had no warning when the first stroke whistled in, and her eyes and mouth both opened widely, although she seemed unable to make a sound. He waited, eyes narrowed as he judged the moment at which the pain had reached its peak and landed a second stroke half an inch below the first. Faith bucked and squealed in shock, her arms went wide as if she was swimming, and Giles smiled again at her surprise. "Not so mouthy now, are you? Want to quit?”
She twisted again, her expression one of deep shock, and he looked politely enquiring. “I’m sure Wesley will take your other four if you ask him. If you aren’t brave enough.”
Her jaw set, and she shook her head stubbornly; Giles walked back around the desk. “Legs straight, please, Wesley. Push up a little.”
Wesley, with a look of dismay, did as he was told, arching his neck to touch his forehead to the table. Plainly he knew what this presaged, and didn’t care for it.
“A little lower this time,” announced Giles, and struck, snake fast. Wesley cried out, strangling back the sound into a groan, but the second stroke brought him up onto his toes, panting. Faith made a faint noise in echo, and Wesley, taking a couple of deep breaths, raised his head to look at her. She was nervously watching Giles’ approach. “Same, please, Faith. Legs straight, push up. I’m sure you’ve worked it out from Wesley’s reactions, but the lower I go, the more you’ll feel it. Nice and still, please.”
She managed the first, with another squeal, but on the second her grip on the table failed. She was half way to the vertical when Wesley lunged up, grabbed her wrists and pulled her down again. Giles shook his head disappointedly. “Oh dear me no. Moving without permission, Faith. That last one again, and one extra at the end, for cowardice.” He emphasized the word, resting the cane lightly against her, and she broke, tears welling up, pulling against Wesley’s grip.
“She... she didn’t move,” said Wesley hoarsely. “That was me. I moved.”
The cane was motionless. “Faith? Did you move? Or did Wesley?”
She didn’t answer; he tapped warningly. “Faith!”
She whimpered, and Wesley looked imploringly at Giles. “I moved,” he insisted.
“Have it your own way,” agreed Giles, but there was a little more warmth in his voice than had been there before. “That one again, then,” as he came back to Wesley’s side, but although he touched the cane gently to the lower slope of the presented curve, the blow was higher, and not as hard as the previous one had been, and Wesley managed it with no more than a sharp inhalation. “And two more.” It seemed the single stroke had been an aberration; the last two were delivered very hard, very fast, and very low down, and Wesley couldn’t hold back the cry; he was still holding Faith’s hands and she gasped as his grip tightened, and then tightened her own as Giles circled the table again. “Last two, Faith.”
Hers were just as Wesley’s had been, and she yelled without inhibition; he pinned her hands to the table until she stopped squirming. There was a moment’s silence.
“Stand up, both of you. I haven’t forgotten that you’re due one more, Wesley.”
Wesley pushed himself up slowly and with some care, and stood very still. Faith levered herself off the table, twisting, squirming, shifting from foot to foot.
She did, but it was plainly an effort.
“Wesley, are you left-handed, or right?”
Wesley lifted wretched eyes to Giles’ face, plainly understanding the point of the question. “Right.”
“Come a little this way. Left hand out, please, thumb well back. A little higher. Keep it flat, keep it still. In fact, I suggest that you look over here at Faith. Don’t take your eyes off her. You don’t need to watch this happen. Faith, you do need to watch. Wesley, you may not swear, but you may move as quickly as you like. Clear?”
Wesley squared his shoulders and took a deep breath. “I’m ready, Mr Giles.”
The cane touched his palm, lightly, twice – and then sang. Faith cried out, but Wesley howled, torso curling, left hand clamped under his arm, right fist against his mouth, obviously to stop the torrent of profanity that wanted to issue forth. Giles waited until he could compose himself, and held out the cane. “Put that away. This matter is now closed. You may leave whenever you wish.”
Faith stalked across the library, face flushed, temper plainly gone. The door banged behind her. Giles, displaying his normal chill, followed her out, with Wesley, puppy-fashion, behind.
“Show me your hand, Wesley.”
She knocked over her soda can; fortunately it was empty but that didn’t save her from the patented Giles glare. Wesley, totally cowed, held out his hand.
“Make a fist. Now rotate your wrist. Move your thumb. Hmm.”
“It’s just bruising and grazes, Mr Giles. I fell when we... when Faith...”
“Yes. Xander, fetch the first aid kit.”
Wesley winced when Giles cleaned the long scrape; Giles was unsympathetic. “It’s your own damn fault. Have you got antiseptic at home? And arnica? Use them again before you go to bed. Now sit down and do something useful: since Cordelia isn’t here, collate these cards." He stalked off to replace the first aid kit on the shelf, and shut the office door behind him.
“All bark, no bite,” murmured Oz, eyes on his book. “Sure you’ve noticed. When any of us gets hurt, Giles blisters our ears for carelessness.”
Wesley sat down beside him, and reached for the cards, without looking at anybody.
“But he always wants to check himself to see how bad the damage is. Always very gentle with the antiseptic.” Oz turned a page. “Always careful to tell you what you should have done as well as what you shouldn’t. He worries a lot about people.”
The library was quiet.
“Yes,” said Wesley, shakily. “I’d noticed.”