Those Who Came Before
by Voleuse

i. round one

Wesley had traveled as far as London before his courage failed him.

He'd faced vampires, demons (rogue and no), and a couple of very brassed-off slayers. He'd been stabbed, shot, bitten, and otherwise maimed countless times. He'd carried on an extensive relationship with Lilah Morgan, which would have killed lesser men than he.

None of this, however, compared to facing his father after shooting him nine times.

The truth, of course, was more complicated than that. It had been a robot posing as his father, there had been extenuating circumstances, and his friends and livelihood had been endangered.

Everything, however, boiled down to this: The first bullet would have sufficed.

He's surprised to glimpse the bottom of his stein. He orders another.


ii. round two

It hadn't been anything important, really. Giles had called Los Angeles to consult with Wesley on an obscure Akkadian prophecy. Wolfram and Hart might be the embodiment of most things evil and corporate, but one had to dance with the devil when ancient demons were about to rise.

Wesley's secretary had apologized, explaining that Wesley had flown to London, and could she refer him to Mr. Blackall, who was their resident expert in Assyrian texts?

Giles had thanked her, taken Blackall's information, and rang off. Thought for a bit.

Had Wesley appeared at his family manor, Giles would have heard of it. The new Council hadn't quite coalesced, but Watchers will talk, and Wesley returning home would have caused some stir.

Giles wasn't the only one to have qualms about Wolfram and Hart. Sixty-five percent of all evil Watchers ended up there eventually.

Giles could have continued working on the text, but Wesley's location nagged at him. He had crossed the Atlantic often enough to have some sense of the airplane schedules.

And, had he been reluctant to return home, he knew exactly in which pub he would have stopped.

He isn't at all surprised to find Wesley there, mid-afternoon, deep in a pint.

He joins him.


iii. round three

Wesley isn't sure when Giles appeared. He'd been imagining ghosts of past failures for a while, and Giles has always hovered in the forefront, along with Cordelia and Faith.

And his father.

It's when the ghost-of-Giles gestures, and another pint appears, that Wesley realizes the truth.

He's been found.


iv. round four

Wesley's lost track of how many pints he's had, but he knows it's been a few. It took at least one to get the story of the cyborgs out, and another to get over the shock of his companion's lack of shock.

In his mind, he's close to monstrous, but Giles doesn't show a hint of horror.

Instead, he's telling Wesley his life story, though Wesley's admittedly missed a few points, what with all the ale.

"I had never wanted to become a Watcher really, though my grandmother and my father had both been..."

He wonders if, aside from the-Council-is-your-destiny, Rupert's father is the right bastard his own is.

"...or a grocer, perhaps. All the ones I had met seemed incredibly happy, and aside from my grandmother, all the Watchers I knew, weren't. Your father, for instance."

And Wesley snaps to attention.


v. round five

Giles remembers meeting Roger Wyndham-Pryce. He was seven years old, standing on the lawn, and about to ask his father whether the sun truly was a god, and if so, why didn't they pray to it.

A seemingly endless black vehicle passed him on the road, and when it stopped, Roger Wyndham-Pryce stepped out.

Giles followed him into the house, and his father, with apologies, ushered him back onto the lawn.

The man had never smiled.

Had he thought about it when he first met Wesley, Giles supposes he would have been a bit less snippy.

Only a bit, but it might have made a difference.


vi. round six

"I was never quite good enough," Wesley explains, and he's thankful that he stuck with ale, instead of following the impulse for something stronger. Scotch, thirty-year-old, two ice cubes. "Never as good as he wanted me to be."

"Can't blame him." Giles smirks for a moment. "You were quite pathetic, in the beginning."

If he hadn't bought him the last three rounds, Wesley muses, he would have hit Giles. He settles instead for a dry look and another draught. "Thanks ever so much."

"Sorry." Giles laughs and shakes his head. Orders another pint. "You have improved greatly, over the years."

Wesley decides to smile. "And your father? How does he feel about you?"

"He..." Giles frowns for a moment. Pauses. "He died in the explosion."

"I'm sorry. I didn't know."

Giles waves off Wesley's awkward apologies. "I think he was, overall, proud of me. I kept my slayer alive."

"Aside from the couple of times she died, you mean."

"Yes, aside from those."


vii. round seven

The sun has already set by the time Giles brings up Wolfram and Hart.

Wesley has been waiting for the topic to come up, and he has his answer ready.

They move on.


viii. round eight

It's quite easy to begin chatting about their days as schoolboys. Watchers by training, and arguably by birth, they would have followed very similar paths, though a few years apart.

After laughing about Binns, a particularly dry instructor of history, Wesley can't help but ask for more.

"What were your days like, Giles?" He takes a sip of ale, not for courage. "At the academy, I mean."

"I imagine it must have been heart-breaking for my grandmother," Giles begins, and Wesley wonders at the tangent. "I was in full rebellion by that time--tired of history, tired of prophecies, of ancient languages. Of the endless parade of funerals my father made me attend."


"And Watchers. Warlocks and witches. Friends." Giles stares into his drink. "I couldn't take it anymore, so I left."

"You...left? The academy?"

"I came to London, made some...unsavory acquaintances. Played with demons, and magic, and killed someone I loved."

It seems inadequate, at this point, to say "I'm sorry" again, Wesley decides.

"I can't remember the academy, really. Before I left, I spent those years in an increasingly drug-fueled haze." The barkeep hands Giles their bill, then he asks the question Wesley dreads. "What about you? What was the academy like?"

"I..." Wesley doesn't look at Giles as he answers. "I was head boy."

"Oh." There's a long, silent pause, then Giles speaks. "How nice for you."


Silverlake: Authors / Mediums / Titles / Links / List / About / Updates / Silverlake Remix