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The Meaning of Heroes
Book One: Chapter Eighteen (8,004 words) 
22nd-Jul-2006 05:34 pm
wes/fred/giles OT3!, heroes

The sound of a door opening woke Buffy up just as the sun was coming up the next morning. Immediately, she was out of bed and by her bedroom door, which she opened quickly. Out in the hall, Connor froze, looking up at her as though he hadn’t expected to be caught.

“And just what are you up to, little man?” she asked, crossing her arms across her chest.

Connor rocked back and forth on his heels, trying to play off his attempt. The corner of his little mouth curled into a smile. “Nothin’. What are you up to, Buffy?” he asked, mimicking her stance, unable to wipe the smile off his face. He liked Buffy. She was nice, and she needed their help.

“Oh, no. I’ve had a younger sister long enough not to fall for that ‘nothing’ routine,” she told him, finding it hard to suppress a laugh at the way he was acting like her. She glanced over at the room that he appeared to be headed to and raised her eyebrows as she tilted her head in the direction of it. “You were going to see your mommy and daddy and Giles, weren’t you?”

Connor felt his stomach sink when she called him on what he was doing, but he was brave...just like his daddy. “Yeah. Mommy and Daddy. ’Specially Daddy. They’re so sad, so I wanted to see if I can make ‘em smile. That wasn’t bad, was it?” he asked with a blush, wondering if going to them in the morning was the wrong thing to do.

Buffy’s eyes widened at his question. “Oh, sweetie, no. That’s not bad at all. In fact, that’s a really wonderful thing. But tell you what – since they’ve had such a hard time, why don’t we find a different way to make them smile.” Walking out of the room, she held her hand out to him. “Wanna come downstairs with me and help me make breakfast for them? You can be my special helper.”

Connor’s smile lifted when she mentioned other ways of making his parents smile. Breakfast, that was a great idea. “Yes, please,” he bounced excitedly. Sliding his little hand into hers, he gripped it and started tugging her toward the stairs.

Just then, Buffy remembered that the others were down in the living room and quickly put on the breaks, which was actually a bit hard. This kid was really quite strong. Another trait bestowed by Quor’Toth?

“Connor,” she said, putting her finger to her lips when he looked back up at her, “we need to be quiet. The others are still sleeping downstairs. Can you be like you were at the toy store the other day when you crept up on me?”

The boy’s brow furrowed, remembering the feeling of sneaking up on Buffy and knowing she never heard him. His blue eyes lit with excitement, and he nodded. “Daddy told me, he knew I can be...silent?” He looked up at the Slayer, wondering if he had said the right word. That man Holes, when he was trying to teach him to hunt, always said he had to be silent, but Connor had never understood what that meant.

“That’s exactly it. Silent. We don’t want to wake any of them up, so we need to be silent to do that,” she told him. “Let’s see if we can make it to the kitchen without any of them hearing us, okay?”

Connor nodded, releasing her hand. He would show her just how silent he could be, even slowing his breathing like Holes had taught him, so that anyone or anything couldn’t hear him. He went first, moving with agility around all obstacles, items, tables and bodies. He would show Buffy how good he was.

As he got halfway across the living room, he frowned when he realized the sleeve of Buffy’s pajamas had brushed something off of the table. Moving with lightning fast reflexes, he got back to the blonde, his little hand shooting out and catching the glass ornament before it hit the floor. Holding the ornament up in his hand, he put his finger over his lips, trying to stifle a laugh. “Shhhh,” he managed, quietly.

Buffy pressed her lips together, trying not to laugh. Here she had been trying to get him to be quiet, and she was the one that almost woke everyone up. ‘Thank you,’ she mouthed, taking the ornament from him and placing it on the table. Man, the little kid was fast too. Motioning toward the kitchen, she indicated that he should keep going, and they snuck by the others without waking them up.

“Good job,” she whispered to him. She started looking through the cabinets. “Now, what should we make.”

Connor beamed at her praise, but his little eyes were still lit with mischief. “You made noise,” he managed before losing his minimal composure to giggles. It took him a few moments to calm down and look into the cabinets, even though he was still smirking. His head snapped up to meet Buffy’s look. “Let’s make pancakes! Daddy says Mommy likes them, and Giles likes ‘em too. He had some at the McD...McD....that place we stopped to have breakfast on the way here.”

“McDonald’s?” she asked, grinning when his head bobbed up and down. “All right, then. Pancakes it is.” She found the mix in one of the cupboards and pulled it out, setting it on the counter. As she got the other items they needed out, she looked at it all and then over at Connor. “Somehow, I have a feeling that this isn’t going to be neat.”

*****

Antony Delacour looked down at the piece of paper in his hand. This was the address he wanted since he had already been by Mr. Giles’ flat with no answer. Tucking the package under his arm, he got out of his rental car, taking a deep breath. Slowly, he got his feet to move, and he climbed the stairs to the front door.

This was a meeting he had anticipated for over a week – ever since he had gotten this assignment. Rupert Giles was a legend among the Initiates, and the chance to meet him, to talk to him, was not one to be taken lightly. Lifting his hand, he rapped solidly on the door, waiting for someone to answer.

*****

The sound of knocking woke Dawn up, and groaning, she sat up, looking over at the front door. The knock came again. Since no one else was exactly running for the door, she wriggled out of her sleeping bag and headed to answer, just as Buffy came hurrying out of the kitchen to stop her.

“Dawn! We have to be careful.”

She just rolled her eyes. “It’s daylight out, dork. What are you doing up anyway?”

“Connor and I were making breakfast.”

“Oh, that, I’m going to have to see,” Dawn said as she went to the door and opened it slight peering out. There was a young man standing outside, looking almost like Wesley had when he had first shown up in Sunnydale a couple of years before. “Yes?”

“Umm....” Antony shifted his weight uncomfortably, not having expected anyone would open the door and welcome him. He held the package up lamely. “I’m looking for Mister Rupert Giles. I’ve been sent from England to see that he gets this package,” he managed, trying to see through the small space over the girl’s head. “Is he...is he here?”

Dawn looked him up and down, suddenly understanding why there was the similarity to Wesley. Turning toward the stairs, she looked up and yelled, “Giles! Reject from the Tweed Brigade here to see you!”

“Dawn!” Buffy said, pulling her away from the door. “You’ll have to excuse my sister. She didn’t come with an off switch, unfortunately. You’re from the Watchers Council?”

Antony had brushed a hand over his chest when the girl called him a reject from the ‘Tweed Brigade’ but gave a resigned sigh. At least she was getting Mr. Giles. Straightening his tie, he stood up straight and composed himself, ready to present the package to the Senior Watcher. When the small blonde appeared in the doorway, however, his eyes widened in shock, his mouth agape. “Good Lord! You’re dead!” he yelped, taking a step back reflexively.

Buffy hadn’t expected that particular reaction when she had stepped into the doorway – so few people had seemed to know that she had been anything but alive that hearing someone who knew was a surprise. “Yep, definitely from the Watchers Council,” she said, shaking her head. “And no...not dead. Well, not anymore. I was, and now...I’m not.” She stopped herself before she just stumbled over herself more. “Giles!”

*****

Giles sat up like a shot when he heard his Slayer’s voice call to him. He tried to slip out of bed as gently as possible so as not to wake either of his lovers and quickly donned his jeans and a pullover. He was halfway down the stairs when he heard Buffy shout for him again.

“Contrary to what you lot believe, I’m not deaf, Buffy,” he groaned, still not quite awake. But his Slayer had beckoned him, so there he was.

Buffy grimaced and turned around with a sheepish look on her face. “Sorry,” she told him. “Umm...this guy...didn’t get his name, but he’s obviously from the Watcher’s Council—he’s here to see you. Says he has something for you.” Suddenly, she remembered that she had left Connor in the kitchen. “Dawn, can you go check on Connor. He was mixing pancake batter.”

“Oh, boy,” Dawn said, running for the kitchen.

Giles looked toward the door and rolled his eyes at the sight that greeted him. “Christ, why does Quentin always insist on sending us the youngest, greenest boys he can find?” he grumbled. “Well, don’t just stand there. Come in.”

“But, I thought...” Antony was surprised to hear such an experienced Watcher utter the words.

“Son, it’s ten a.m., and the sun is out. I know what they teach, but I believe considering the facts that the closest manhole from the front door is over 200 yards away and you have yet to burst into flames...it’s a safe wager that you aren’t a vampire. Now are you coming in or not?” he groused, not in the mood to conduct business on the porch.

The younger man blushed. Of course, leave it to a man like Mr. Giles to be ten steps ahead of him. “Y—yes sir,” he replied, entering the house.

Buffy moved into the living room as the he did, watching him for a moment. He was actually kind of cute, she found herself thinking before she could stop herself. Wait a minute...since when did she find tweed cute? No, it wasn’t so much the tweed as more the earnest expression on his face and the obvious nervousness that made him cute. That and the fact that she wanted to mess up that perfectly combed dark blond hair of his.

By this time, the others in the living room had woken up, Willow and Tara sitting up on the couch while Xander and Anya stirred in their makeshift bed on the floor. Lorne sat up against the wall, his red eyes taking in everything without a word.

Willow blinked, studying the stranger that had just walked in the house. “Hey, where did the Junior Watcher come from?”

Antony looked toward the redhead before lowering his head once more. He knew these people, had read about these people. They had performed a feat unheard of by the Council in all their history – the defeat of a hellgod. “Um...Mister Travers asked for a volunteer to come to the Hellmouth. He said you needed these documents although I wasn’t told what for.” He sheepishly handed the parcel over to Giles and watched the other man rip it open immediately before looking up to size him up for a moment.

“And you volunteered? Now either you’ve done something to irritate Quentin, or you’re just foolish. These young people will tell you that living on a Hellmouth is not steeped in fame and glory like the Council will have you believe.” Giles then glanced over the papers in his hand, his green eyes growing stormy with anger the more he read. “Xander, go get Wesley and Fred, please,” he suddenly requested, his voice icy calm.

Seeing Giles’ expression and hearing the way he spoke, Xander immediately knew better than to ignore the instruction. “Be right back.” He jumped up and hurried upstairs where he knocked on the door to the master bedroom. “Wes? Fred?”

Fred looked up toward the door, blinking when she noticed that Rupert wasn’t in the bed on the other side of Wesley. As Wesley opened his eyes as well, she responded, “What is it, Xander?”

“Giles says you guys need to come downstairs right away.”

Wesley turned his head and saw that Rupert was already absent. He met Fred’s gaze for a moment, both of them knowing it must be important. “We’re coming,” he called out.

After getting up and dressing quickly, they headed downstair together, where they found their other lover livid with anger. Giles thrust the papers in his hand at Wesley before going over and picking up the receiver. Looking down at the papers, Wes’ eyes widened before he tipped them so Fred could read them.

She looked at them in disbelief, thinking for a moment that they had to be wrong. Didn’t the Council understand what they had asked for? This wasn’t what they had decided. She looked up at Wesley, her eyes wide in disbelief. “What are they doing? Why did they do this?”

His jaw was tight, trying to hold back the pain and anger of this slight. He suspected what the Council was up to, but didn’t know how to explain things to Fred. Hell, he didn’t know how they would explain things to Connor.

Giles dialed the main number he had, immediately getting the Council operator. He knew damn well Quentin would be there. “Gladys, get Quentin on the phone now!” he snapped.

On the other end of the line in England, there was a pause, and then Quentin Travers came on the line. “Rupert. I take it you received the up-to-date papers for little Connor.”

Giles growled when he heard the voice in question on the other end. “Up to date, you pompous blowhard!? Just what the hell are you up to,” he demanded to know. “This wasn’t what we discussed, and you know it.”

“We didn’t discuss anything,” Travers told him evenly. “Do you really think that the Council would have any sort of stake in the child of a disgraced Watcher? You want our help with that little boy, then you take responsibility for him as well. It’s as simple as that, really.”

“Disgraced?” Giles could feel his temper boiling. “You and I both know he was sent as a patsy. You took a boy, fresh out of Initiate training and sent him to hell in the hopes that he would get both troublesome Slayers killed. The disgrace isn’t Wesley’s, Quentin; it’s yours. And you should know me by now. Nothing about what we do here is simple. We both know what is at stake here. Did you actually think I would stand idly by while you tried to use Wesley again? You’ve gone starkers if you believe that!”

Buffy listened to Giles’ end of the conversation, wondering what the hell was going on. What had Travers done this time? Whatever it was, she could see that Wesley and Fred weren’t happy with it either.

“Oh no, I quite expected you to put up a fuss when you received the papers. You’ve always been fairly predictable in your reaction to a perceived slight against you or someone you..care about,” he answered, picking up a pen from his desk and tapping it idly against the woodtop. “Whatever you think about Wesley Wyndam-Pryce and our part in what happened with him, the fact of the matter is that we will not allow a child such as Connor to bear his name. Do you think his father would either? Now, unless you want us to withdraw our support...or possibly call Angel and let him know where his precious son is, I suggest you accept that Connor now legally carries your name.”

Giles snarled at his words. “I could give a flying fart what that tyrannical little troll will or will not allow, and I know damn well that beyond using Roger Wyndam-Pryce to bully Initiates, you could care less what he thinks. Remember who you are talking to.” Giles was fuming, his tone growing cold when he mentioned calling Angel, skirting the edge of rage. “Hollow threats, Quentin? You won’t make that call, this is just the boost your career needed. And I suggest you shove these documents up your—.”

“Rupert!” Wesley called him loudly, not wanting to completely alienate the Council. His eyes widened slightly when he saw Rupert draw the reciever back to throw it in anger.

“Giles, no!” Buffy cried out, grabbing his arm to keep him from chucking the cordless at the wall. “I can’t afford to buy another phone!”

Travers’ eyes went wide when he heard the voice at the other end of the line. It couldn’t be... But she was... “Rupert! Rupert...tell me that wasn’t—that’s not Buffy I just heard. Couldn’t be.”

Giles felt his Slayer’s strong grip on his hand and relinquished his grip on the receiver. “You talk to him,” he managed through clenched teeth. “Before I reach through the phone and strangle the fat bastard.”

He stormed over to Wes and Fred and let out a sigh, his heart hurting for the pain he saw in his lover’s eyes. “Wes...I—the council won’t supply papers if he carries Wesley’s name. In Quentin’s words, he can’t get backing to protect the son of a disgraced Watcher.” He reached up a hand gently, touching Wesley’s face. “I’m sorry, love.”

“He...” Fred said, feeling her throat knotting up at Rupert’s words as she grabbed Wesley’s hand and held it tightly, her hand moving up to rub Wesley’s back. “But that’s not his—he can’t—he has no right to make that decision.”

Buffy, meanwhile, took the phone and put it to her ear just in time to hear Travers demand of Giles. “Actually, could be. Hi there, Travers. I’d say it was nice to hear your voice again, but I can’t really say it is.”

“Buffy? But you’re...you’re dead.”

“Not so much anymore.”

“Is Antony still there? Put him on the phone! I want to speak to him.”

Rolling her eyes, Buffy shrugged and held the phone out to the courier. “Antony? That your name? Travers wants to speak to you.”

Antony was positively white. He had never heard anyone talk to Quentin Travers like that, especially over a sacked Watcher. Truthfully, he didn’t know much about the Wyndam-Pryces...except having had the senior man for one class in the academy. He had to admit, Mr. Giles’ view of Roger Wyndam-Pryce hadn’t been far off. With a shaky hand, he took the phone from the Slayer. “Y—yes, sir?”

Travers dropped the pen he had been tapping on the desk. “Antony, I know that you were required to study Buffy Summers during your Academy work. I want you to tell me – the girl I just spoke to on the phone...is that her?”

Antony turned, looking the blonde up and down. The smirk on her face made him nervous. He felt like he was in the middle of something much bigger than himself. “Yes, sir, it’s her. I don’t know how, but I’m standing in her living room, looking at her.”

Giles watched the young Watcher on the phone, a feral smile crossing his face. “Let’s allow what the boy just told Quentin to sink in. I have an idea,” he told everyone. “That pompous jackass wants to try and use Wesley again? We’re going to make him pay for it.”

“Hey, Travers, if you want, I can hit him for you. That should tell you for sure,” Buffy said, winking at Antony. She really wouldn’t hit him – poor guy looked like he hadn’t realized what he had been signing up for when he volunteered to come here – but she wanted to have a little fun with Travers.

Travers shook his head in disbelief. He had known Buffy had been revived after a short time dead a few years before, but this...this was unheard of. “Put her back on,” he growled.

Giles held his hand out for the receiver. “Let me talk to him,” his green eyes burned intensely. He saw the boy pause before hesitantly passing the phone to him. “Quentin, I want you to listen carefully. Since you and the Council want to play games...all right, we’ll play. You got your confirmation – my Slayer is alive again. You heard her, and the boy told you it’s her. So this is what will happen. Buffy and the rest of us will stay here, on the Hellmouth, fighting your war for you. And you are going to reinstate Wesley Wyndam-Pryce as a full Watcher, with everything that entails. I know for a fact you don’t have a language person on your staff with a fraction of Wesley’s skills,” he pointed out with a smirk. “Oh, and Quentin....you have three minutes to approve this offer, or I will move my Slayer and our family as far away from this Hellmouth as I can, and this will become your problem.”

“You wouldn’t dare,” Travers hissed. He knew Rupert Giles – the man never shirked his duty, not when lives were on the line. He was bluffing about this. He had to be bluffing about this. He wouldn’t just off and leave the Hellmouth unguarded. “This ‘war’, as you call it, is bigger than you or me or a single Slayer. Is the safety of the human race worth that of one man?”

“Quentin...” Giles’ smile grew, but there was nothing happy about the sight. It was something akin to a shark grinning at helpless fish. “Everyone has their limits. My Slayer has been fighting your war for six years and given you two lifetimes – most of it with you doing your damndest to hinder her. I’m surrounded by people that have saved this world more than any of your so-called Board of Directors, my father included. They’ve earned the right for peace. Even a year of harmony for them would be magical. You know my finances, so you know I can easily afford to move every one of these people back to my estate and set them up in their new lives, their peaceful lives. You think I’m bluffing? Try me. You want soldiers to do your dirty work for you? Reinstate Wesley. If not, I’m calling the airport the second we hang up.”

He had about had it with Giles. The man had gone against his authority too many times, had flaunted Council traditions far too easily and had made his life as Chairman far more difficult than it should have been. He never should have allowed him to take on the role of Buffy’s Watcher when Merrick died. He should have known, given his past.

The man thought he had him by his balls. That without Buffy, they had no Slayer. Faith was in prison, and even if she wasn’t, he didn’t trust her at all, plus none of the potentials were sufficient to take over the role, not without the Slayer traits activated. There were ways to take care of that, of course, but that would take time to set up. Time that they couldn’t afford to leave the Hellmouth unguarded.

“All right, Rupert,” he said. “Consider Wesley reinstated to full Watcher status. But Connor remains your responsibility in name – that I can’t change, and I won’t.”

Giles nodded. He knew Quentin could just as easily tell Buffy who Connor’s real father was but, in doing so, would lose what little control he had over her. Not to mention losing complete access to the only offspring of two vampires in history. The Council would flay him alive if that happened.

“Good. Wesley will be staying in Sunnydale with us. You can send any translations you need done to Rovello drive – along with his paycheck. We’ll let you know if we move.” Giles took a deep breath. “As usual Quentin, it’s been—no, even I can’t say that with a straight face. We’ll call when we need something else.”

Growling, Travers slammed the phone down on his desk. He then buzzed his secretary. “Gladys, get me Marcus. I need to talk to him.”

*****

Buffy found herself grinning at the fact that Giles had just put Quentin Travers in his place. “That...that was beautiful. I really wish he had been here just so I could have seen his face.”

Giles hung up the phone, his face the picture of innocence, but he knew his family knew better. “Huh, imagine that, he hung up on me. How rude.” His lips curled up in a smirk.

“Rupert, what did you do?” Wesley asked, still in shock over what he had heard.

“I got you reinstated with the Council and collecting a paycheck. You deserve it. Pillocks should have never sacked you in the first place. You were never inept; you were just green,” the older man explained, smiling at Buffy. His smile fell slightly when he thought about Connor, however, and he let out a sigh. “He won’t budge on the name issue. The bastard was adamant about that. I know he’s your son, but if we want the Council’s help in protecting him and getting him everything he needs, he has to keep my name.”

Fred looked back over at the papers that Wesley was still holding. She barely understood this beyond the fact that the Council was playing some kind of politics with Connor and their feelings. She wanted to hurt this Travers for what he had done even if Giles had managed to get Wesley back on, but she knew that would make things worse. “If it’s what’s best for Connor...?”

Giles sighed again. “That’s just it, Fred. I’m not sure it is best for Connor. He worships his daddy.” At this, he smiled at Wes. “But I think until we know the extent of his abilities, we need the Council’s backing with him.” He knew that both of them would understand what he meant by that, but he felt a bit helpless about the next thing he was going to mention as he looked at Fred. “I have no idea how to tell him, though.”

She sighed, looking down at the floor for a moment before raising her head back up to lock eyes with Wesley. “He’s so smart. We need to tell him straight, or he’ll know something’s wrong.”

Just then, Connor came running out of the kitchen, covered in what appeared to flour and pancake batter, followed by Dawn, who was similarly covered. “Mommy, Daddy! I’ve been making pancakes!”

Wesley couldn’t help it. The moment he saw Connor, covered head to toe in batter and flour, he laughed. The excitement in the boy’s eyes was absolutely contagious. Picking him up, he held the boy at arm’s length. “We can see,” he replied with a chuckle, starting to walk Connor back into the kitchen, immediately heading for the sink. “Fred, why don’t you make sure nothing is burning while I wash down our little Pillsbury Dough Boy.”

Giles and Xander, meanwhile, couldn’t help but smile at the sight of the youngest Summers. “Deep-fried Dawnie,” Xander managed softly between snickers.

Dawn glared at them before turning to look at her sister. “You. So. Owe me.” With that, she stomped off upstairs to the bathroom since the one down in the basement wasn’t done.

*****

In the kitchen, Fred hurried over to the stove and turned it off. The pancakes were somewhat charred on the outside but still oozing liquid from the center. A stack of similarly cooked flapjacks sat on a plate nearby. Shaking her head with a laugh, she put them all together and walked with them over to the sink, setting them down on the countertop. “You’ve been busy this morning,” she said, looking over at their son as Wesley wiped his face.

“Yeah! Wanted to make breakfast for you and Daddy!” Connor nodded his head excitedly. “I did good?”

Wesley gave him a smile. “You did very good. Now, arms up,” he instructed, peeling the crusted shirt off the small body, leaving it lying in the sink. Turning on the faucet, he ran the dishtowel under the water, getting it sopping wet. “Head over the sink, son.” The moment Connor complied, he draped the towel over his head, rubbing vigorously, getting all the batter off the boy’s face and neck. He laughed when Connor giggled and looked up, his spiky hair all askew.

“I think you got more batter on yourself and Dawn than you did on the griddle,” Fred said, laughing at the look the little boy gave from under the towel. She glanced around the kitchen at the flour and batter that was everywhere and knew that they had a heck of a clean-up job ahead of them as well. At least it would give them something to focus on. “How were you doing it? Throwing the batter at the pan? Patented Connor special way of making pancakes?”

“Silly Mommy!” Connor giggled, rocking back and forth on his feet as he stood in the water. “You don’t throw pancakes.” He stopped for a moment, tilting his head to the side. “Do you?”

“No, Connor, you do not throw pancakes. You’re right, Mommy was being silly.” Wesley smirked at Fred, setting the towel down on the counter, encouraging Connor to sit. “You did really well today, son. But your mum and I have something to talk to you about.”

“’Kay, Daddy.” Connor sat up, looking up at his parents expectantly.

Fred glanced over at Wesley and took a deep breath before turning to look into her son’s eyes. No matter how it had happened, he was their son now. Nobody could say anything different. “Connor, sweetie...you know I’m your mother and Daddy’s your father, and we love you very, very much, and nothing can ever change that, and Giles loves you too, and he’s part of our family and wants to take care of you and make sure you’re safe just as much as we do, right?”

Connor’s eyes widened in surprise as he waited for his mother to run out of steam. “What did she say, Daddy?” he asked, truly confused. He smiled when his father laughed.

“Connor, you are a very special boy. Because of that place Holtz took you to, you have special abilities,” Wesley began, believing that this was the best way to go.

“Like bein’ able to sneak up on Buffy? And bein’ silent?”

“Exactly like that. Because of those abilities, people might want to harm you. The people that Giles works for, they’re willing to help us protect you,” he explained to the boy. “You know Mummy and I love you...and Giles loves you very much. But these people, they want you to have Giles’ name. Do you understand what that means, son?”

Connor looked from Fred to Wesley, his little face screwed up in thought. “You mean like my name is Connor, but Holes called me Stephen? Like that?”

“Sort of, sweetie,” Fred responded. “In this case, your name will still be Connor, but instead of being Connor Wyndam-Pryce, like your daddy is Wesley Wyndam-Pryce, you’re going to be known as Connor Wesley Giles. But this doesn’t change who we are and what you mean to us one bit.”

“Giles will be like another daddy?” he asked, his little brow furrowing with concentration, trying to wrap his brain around the idea. When his father nodded, he continued, “I know Giles loves Mommy, and he loves you, Daddy. Does Giles love me too?”

“Absolutely. Giles has a lot of love to give, son, and I know for a fact he loves you very much,” Wesley explained with a smile, running his fingers through the boy’s damp hair.

“And we’re going to be a family? All of us?”

Fred nodded, taking Connor’s little hand in hers and squeezing it gently. “We’re very much going to be a family together, and we’re going to take care of each other, no matter what happens. We love you so much, Connor, all of us.”

“Love you too, Mommy,” Connor replied, sensing the seriousness of the conversation. “And Daddy and Giles.” He took a deep breath, looking up at his father. “I like Buffy too. And Dawn...but I think Dawn is mad at me.”

“Oh, Dawn just doesn’t like getting dirty, I think,” Fred told him. “She won’t be mad for long. She likes you too.”

*****

Out in the living room, Buffy looked in the direction of the kitchen where Wesley and Fred had taken Connor before turning toward Giles. Antony was still standing there, apparently not sure what to do with himself now. “Giles, what exactly is going on? I could hear Travers a bit when you were talking to him. Slayer hearing and all, you know. Why is he insisting that Connor take your name?”

Giles sighed, rubbing his face tiredly. He always felt exhausted after dealing with Quentin. He despised lying to his family about the boy, but for Connor’s safety, they needed to maintain the story. “Because that was the condition for the Council’s help. They won’t allow, in Quentin’s words, ‘such a boy to have the name of a disgraced Watcher.’ Pillock!”

Suppressing a growl, he tried to keep control of himself, knowing his family didn’t trust the Council as far as they could throw them. Neither did he. “I’m sure you have realized by now, that Connor is different? That he has abilities that are above the norm...especially for a boy his age? Well, until we know the extent of how much his stay on Quor’Toth has changed him, we need the power of the Council to deal with any trouble that might arise.”

Listening to Giles, Lorne remained silent, not wanting to give anything away. He, of course, knew that Quor’Toth wasn’t the only reason for all this, but he also knew that Wesley and Fred and Giles wanted to keep that part of things quiet from the others. He understood their reasons, especially given everything that had happened. It was better to blame all the differences on Connor’s time in hell.

“Gotta love the Council. Still as helpful as always,” Buffy said, rolling her eyes. “At least they’re letting him have your name and not insisting on something more. And I have to say, damn, that was fun, listening to what you did to him.”

Giles snorted at what she said. “Truthfully, I don’t expect them to lift a finger to help us. Normally, Quentin is about as useful as tits on a bull. But Wesley, Fred and I want to prepare for everything. We want the power the Council is capable of weilding, just to be safe.”

Nodding, she looked over at Antony again. “So did Travers ask you to stay here and spy on us too? Or are you just lost now?” she asked, causing the boy to jump and let out a startled yelp. She exchanged a glance with Giles, who shook his head, thinking that he was so much like Wes when he first arrived those years ago.

“I....I honestly don’t know,” Antony replied shyly. “I think Mister Travers was too startled by the fact that you were alive since he neglected to issue orders. I suppose I shall have to find a hotel and call to check in.”

“There’s some good ones out near the main highway to LA,” Willow offered as the others looked at her. “What? The poor guy obviously didn’t know what he was being sent into. It’s not like it’s his fault what those papers says, is it? Even Buffy said it, we all know what the Council is like.”

Buffy knew Willow was right. The poor guy really wasn’t to blame for all this; he was just the one unlucky enough to volunteer to be the messenger. “I second her recommendation about the hotels out near the highway, then. Stay away from the ones in town – they’re not quite as good. And...hopefully Travers won’t poke you too much about what happened here. We all know how he can get when he’s cross.”

Antony seemed surprised that Miss Rosenburg and the others hadn’t tossed him out on his arse, knowing the way they clearly felt about the Council. He accepted their advice with a polite nod. “Thank you for that then. I’ll secure a room for myself,” he answered politely.

“So what’s your name, Tweed Boy?” Xander asked, not liking the way he was looking at Willow and Buffy.

Buffy wanted to tell him to stop being a pain in the ass to the poor guy, who actually seemed nice and not evil. She was starting to wonder, however, about the uniform that the Watchers seemed to require. At least Giles and Wesley had gotten past it – maybe they could give pointers to him. She stopped for a moment when she thought that. Why in the world was she thinking about him as if they might even see him again after this? He was just a courier after all, and she still didn’t even know his name.

“Antony. Antony Delacour is my name, Mister Harris,” he replied.

“Any relation to Martin Delacour?” Giles asked, the memory tickling the back of his mind.

“Yes, sir. Martin is my father.”

“Martin Delacour?” Buffy asked, trying to think if she had ever heard that name before. “Should I know who that is?”

“No, there’s no reason you should...but Wesley should. Martin Delacour taught languages at the Watchers Academy. From what I heard, he retired last year with full pension,” Giles explained, seeing Antony nod at his mention of retirement. “I had him myself for Sumerian. He really put me through the ringer. When you talk to him next, thank him for me. If my Sumerian wasn’t sharp, we would have never been able to access the spell we used to defeat Adam.”

“I will, sir,” Antony told him with a smile, pleased that even distantly, his family had helped the Slayer in some way.

“Well, if your father was responsible for Giles knowing how to do that spell, you can thank him for me as well,” Buffy said, giving him a smile. The showdown with Adam had been tough enough even with Giles, Willow and Xander supporting her through the linkage of the spell. She couldn’t have imagined trying to do it on her own. “Come on. I’ll walk you out to your car. If you have a map, I can show you where to go to find the hotels.”

“Thank you,” Antony replied with a bashful smile, holding his hand out for Buffy to go ahead of him. When they approached his rental, he unlocked the passenger seat and withdrew the map, passing it to her along with a pen. “Here you are – one map of Sunnydale.”

As Buffy took the map and pen from him and leaned over to trace the route from the house to the highway, he ducked his head, trying to gather his nerve. Taking a deep breath, he finally proceeded, “For what it’s worth, Miss Summers, not all Watchers are like Travers. There are families – probably more than you realize – that are thankful for your efforts here on the Hellmouth. I just...I just thought you should know that.”

His words caused her to straighten up and look up at him, right into his eyes. “You...really?” When he nodded, she smiled. “Thanks for telling me that. It’s not something we hear a lot, as you can probably imagine.”

Showing him the map, she ran her finger along the route. “Just turn right at the end of the road up here, then follow Burns to Broadway and then Broadway to the highway. The hotels are along there. Can’t miss them.” She handed the map over to him and took a step back, sticking her hands in her pocket. “Umm...hope everything goes all right when you talk to Travers. I know he probably won’t be in the best mood when you call him. Can’t say I’m sorry, though.”

A roguish smile passed over Antony’s face as he chucked. “Truthfully...neither am I. Sometimes, Mister Travers is a little too full of himself. Even if he is in a foul mood, it’s worth it. I got to meet my hero and watch him take Travers down a few rungs,” he admitted, his eyes still lit with amusement. “It was an honor to meet you, Miss Summers. And I must admit, I’m rather hoping that he does assign me to ‘spy’ on you...so that I can see you again.”

Buffy smiled a bit. “Well, if he does, be sure to let us know. We could always come up with some interesting intel for you to feed back to him.” She stuck her hand out to shake his. “See you later, Antony.”

“I’d be glad to be of service,” he chuckled, extending his hand and clasping her smaller one, giving it a small shake. After giving a small bow, he moved to the driver’s side with map in hand. “Good day, Miss Summers.”

He smiled, getting in and starting the engine. With a final wave, he pulled away from the curb, his heart hammering wildly. The young woman he had just met was not only lovely, she was legendary.

*****

Buffy waited as Antony headed down the street, watching until his taillights disappeared before heading back into the house. She looked at the others when she walked in, seeing that they were all looking at her. “What?”

“You know, Buffy, most people collect coins or stamps, not English guys in tweed,” Xander quipped, his lips curling up in a smile. “By the way, if you’re looking for the other two, they’re in the kitchen with Pancake Boy and Fred.”

Before he could even finish what he was saying, a pillow went flying through the air, hitting Xander squarely in the head. Willow started giggling, putting her hand over her face as she leaned against Tara while Lorne shook his head, trying not to laugh. He didn’t dare say that he thought Xander deserved it, considering he had only known these people for less than twenty-four hours.

Instead, he walked over to Buffy. “Don’t listen to him,” he whispered to her. “And thought you might like to know – you’ll see him again.”

Buffy looked over at him. “How do you—?”

“He was humming a bit while you guys were talking earlier. He’s a good guy.”

“Yeah...I sort of figured that out on my own.” She stopped herself for a moment, wondering exactly what the heck she was thinking because she had only known Antony for about a half an hour. She couldn’t be thinking like that...could she? Sighing, she looked down at herself, an expression of horror crossing her face. “Oh, God, why didn’t anyone tell me I was still in my pajamas?”

Xander was fighting the urge to laugh even harder. “You’re in yummy sushi, and he was in tweed – who is he to comment about fashion?” His smile grew. “And since when has the Buffster cared about what a Watcher thought? Or could it be that you thought our boy Tony was a hottie?”

“Xander, I have another pillow, and I will use it,” Buffy threatened, reaching for the one on the chair next to her.

“You so thought he was a hottie,” Willow joined in.

“I did not! I just...felt sorry for him is all. He didn’t know what he was getting into. And besides, he said that his family and a lot of the others don’t agree with Travers and actually said they appreciate everything we do, so there.”

“Oh, yeah. Cause I always drool over people I feel sorry for,” Xander taunted dryly, diving behind the couch to avoid the missile.

*****

When Buffy walked young Antony out to his car, Giles decided to check on Wes and Fred to see how things were going with Connor. Poking his head in the kitchen, he smiled at the sight before him. His lovers were standing over a grinning Connor, who was sitting on the edge of the sink. “Everything all right?” he asked.

Fred glanced over her shoulder at Rupert, reaching her hand out to him and indicating for him to come over and join them. “We were just telling Connor about the fact that he’s going to have your name now and that all of us are going to be a family together because we all love each other very much.”

Giles took her hand and moved to stand behind her and Wes. Looking down at Connor, he smiled warmly at the blue eyes that met his. Staying silent for a moment, he let the little boy look for whatever it was he was seeking until he finally asked, “Well, what do you think about that, young man?”

Connor’s smile grew at the sight of Giles standing with his mommy and daddy. “I think it’s okay. We’re family,” he pointed out, as if that was enough for him.

“The question is,” Wes stated, “what does he call you in public and in such? Connor has a wonderful way of looking at this in the fact that he sees it as him having two fathers that love him very much. But when he is trying to talk to us, it could get confusing.”

Fred looked over at the two men in her life then down at their son, knowing that Wesley was right. If Connor tried to call them both “Daddy”, things would get very confusing. And he certain couldn’t call one “Dad” and the other “Daddy” because there would be a time when he’d want to stop using the more childish nomenclature.

Then she remembered something from when she was a child and wondered if Connor would go with it. “Connor,” she said, reaching out to run a hand through his hair. “When I was about your age, your grandmother used to read to be a series of books called The Berenstain Bears. It was about a family of bears, and the children used to call their father by the name of Papa. Now, since I had always used Daddy, I was confused by this, but my mommy told me that Papa was just another word that meant the same thing as Daddy. Some people call their father Daddy, like I did, while others call their father Papa. You’re lucky because you can use both if you’d like. You have your Daddy Wesley and your Papa Giles.”

“Papa.” Connor rolled the new information around his little brain, his brow furrowing in concentration, and looked up at the man in question. “What’cha think, Papa?” he asked, not realizing that he had decided for everyone already.

“I think,” Giles chuckled, pressing his lips to Fred’s temple, “that your mummy is not only beautiful but brilliant as well.” With a grin, he reached his free hand between Wes and Fred, touching Connor on the head.

She grinned, glad that that both Connor and Rupert liked the idea. She looked over at Wesley and ran the back of her hand across his face, knowing that what the Council had done had been hard on him, but they had made the best of it and would continue to. “We’re all a family.”

*****

Comments 
23rd-Jul-2006 01:47 pm (UTC)
Awwww! I like Antony! I think he would be good for Buffy! And I love the idea of Giles being Papa. Just so very well done.

*hugs you*
24th-Jul-2006 11:05 pm (UTC)
*grin* Thanks so much! We're glad that you like Antony - he'll definitely continue to play a role in this.

*hugs*
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