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The Meaning of Heroes
Book One: Chapter Three (Part 2 - 6,354 words) 
20th-Aug-2005 03:09 pm
wes/fred/giles OT3!, heroes

Fred had been listening in the door of the kitchen, trying not to laugh out loud at the sound of Lilah trying to go toe to toe with Giles and finding herself woefully outclassed. It was wonderful to witness the great Lilah Morgan going down in flames, even if she didn’t actually see it. Hearing it was enough.

When he called to her, she was out into the living room like a shot, a huge grin on her fact. “I’ve never seen anyone take Lilah on that way and actually win. That was amazing.” She wanted to ask him about what he had said – about his claiming Wesley and her as his, but she knew that had just been for Lilah’s benefit, to make her leave them alone. Hadn’t it? So instead, she asked about the other question she had on her mind, “Did you mean what you said? We’re going to get Connor back...and not return him to Angel?”

“I meant everything I said to her. Wesley’s instincts were good on this. I’m sure of it. Now that we have the scrolls back, he can confirm it to his own satisfaction. I don’t want him to have to live the rest of his life never knowing. “

Fred’s eyes opened wide. He thought that the scrolls were right. That Wesley had been right despite what that Sahjahn had claimed? That meant that... Suddenly, she was across the living room and throwing her arms around Giles. “He was right?”

Giles smiled warmly, his free arm wrapped around Fred. “I think he was. Wesley has developed good instincts. I don’t think he would have made a move like he did without some inkling of what he believed to be the truth. If I had to hazard a guess, I’d say this Sahjahn had his own plans for Connor, and Holtz’s vendetta against Angel interfered with that. Wesley just got caught up in the middle. Opening the rift was the only thing Sahjahn could do to salvage the situation and still accomplish his goals.”

“Oh, God, when he finds that out... We never would have known for sure if you hadn’t come up here and gotten that back from her.”

He stroked a hand down her hair. “You called me because you thought Wesley needed me. And I promised you I would look out for both of you. That includes emotional stability as well as physical. This is how I take care of my friends,” he explained.

He was puzzled that she acted like it something out of the norm for him. But in all fairness, she didn’t really know him.

“We will get Connor back, and if that boy is in danger from Angel, as most people around him are, I have no intention of returning him. I’ll contact the Council to have them organize papers showing you as Connor’s mother and Wesley as his father. You’ve been in Pylea for five years, and Wesley is a good-looking man who keeps to himself. There’s no way they can disprove the documents.” Giles tossed the sack he was still holding down on the table so he could wrap his other arm around her. “It’s now in Lilah’s best interest to cover our asses on this, even if it is only to cover her own with her bosses. We just have to find the boy first. The first step in that will be to get Wesley to stop doubting himself.”

She considered what he had said about her becoming Connor’s mother. “Do you—do you think we can really pull that off? What if the others find out? They’re going to know that I’m not—that Wesley and I aren’t—they’re gonna know.”

“Whether they know it or not is one thing. It will be the word of a man who doesn’t exist, a girl in her twenties who has lost contact with not only her friends but also her family and an orphaned street thug with a police record against you, me and Wesley backed by the weight of the Watchers Council. They won’t be able to prove a thing.”

She nodded, closing her eyes, imagining what it would be like to have Connor back and to be a mother to him. After helping to take care of him for so long, she had come to love and care for the little boy as much as she would have a child of her own. Taking that last step with Wesley’s and Giles’ help wouldn’t be hard. She was willing to do whatever it took to protect him. No one would hurt him, not even Angel. No one would hurt him or Wesley. She and Giles would make sure of that.

“I said I’d do whatever it takes for Wesley. When we get Connor back, I’m willing to do this for both of them.”

“Good girl, that’s just what I wanted to hear.” Giles smiled, resting his chin on the head of the woman his friend loved. “Wesley needs us to be strong for him right now. This mistake is going to take him awhile to get over, so all we can do is love him and give him time. He’ll get stronger more quickly under those circumstances. He just needs hope. We can give him that.”

“Well, that’s good because love and time I have in abundance.” Sighing softly, she shook her head slightly. “It’s amazing how so much can change in so little time. Never thought I would have been standing here just a few days ago, but now I’m here and I can’t imagine being anywhere else. Doesn’t seem right somehow that I possibly couldn’t be here.” She pulled away slightly and looked up at Giles. “Where will we start with all this? I wanted to tell Wesley what you did...do you think that’s a good idea?”

He laughed, stepping back. He could see her excitement. She was practically vibrating with it. She reminded him so much of Willow when she was younger. “You deserve this, and so much more. With Wesley, you have a chance at it.” He smiled, giving her a nod. “And by all means, tell him. It might do him some good to know that the scroll is here and what we plan to do with it.” He glanced down at his watch. “He should be up again within the hour. I’ll make the call to the Council and see what texts they can find on Quor’Toth. I’ll have them sent here. Until then, we can work with Wesley’s books and the few I brought with me.”

“Sounds good. And I actually started the kettle again while I was in there, so we can have fresh tea as well. Don’t worry, though, I didn’t actually put any hemlock in any of the cups. Wesley seems to be fresh out of it.” She wrinkled her nose for a moment. “Maybe we should pick some up if we have to do a supply run. Just in case.”

“Ahh, I shouldn’t worry about Lilah. By herself, she’s a little amusing, but I’ve dealt with far more dangerous creatures than her. And by claiming Connor as well as the two of you, I’ve tied her hands, guaranteeing she cannot use her precious firm against us. In this case, it will actually be in her best interest to help us. I know someone very much like Lilah Morgan. They’ll push you until you think you might break, but when it boils down to it, self preservation is all they care about,” Giles told her, thinking of Ethan. Maybe he would make it up to the lawyer and send his old friend her way. “Now, why don’t you get that tea? I’ll bite the bullet and be your first guinea pig. I’ll make the call before you get back.”

Fred nodded with a smile, knowing that if he said that Lilah Morgan would never darken their doorstep again, then he was probably right. Turning, she grabbed the two abandoned cups of tea they had never finished due to the lawyer’s earlier arrival and hurried back into the kitchen, where she set about making a fresh pot after rinsing out what was left from before. As she worked, her mind wandered. The idea of becoming a mother – especially to the son of vampires, and one vampire in particular – was a bit daunting, but she knew that they could do it. Part of her wanted to tell the others that they had been wrong and Wesley had been right to clear his name with them, but after what had happened at the Hyperion, she knew that it probably wouldn’t do any good whatsoever. They would believe what they wanted to believe.

So it would be her and Wesley and Giles, and they would make sure that Connor was taken care of and loved, and she would also make sure that Wesley was taken care of as well with Giles’ help. After scooping five teaspoons into the pot, she poured the water in from the kettle on the stove and let it steep while she rinsed out the cups. She loved Wesley and knew Giles did too. He would see that they were going to be there for him no matter what.

*****

Out in the lounge, Giles picked up the phone and immediately dialed the familiar number. He smiled when his friend’s voice picked up after three rings.

“Collins.”

“Mark, it’s Rupert. I’m calling in that favor we talked about. Tell Burke I’m calling his in too. I need you both to do this quietly but quickly. Go to the Library. I need all information you can dig up on Quor’Toth. It’s another dimension. Everything I’ve heard leads me to believe it’s a hell dimension. So start there with your search. I don’t care how small the reference, I want it all sent here to Los Angeles,” he instructed, hearing his friend writing things down.

“You’re in L.A.? Does Quentin know?” the man asked.

“Probably not, but when have I given a flying fart about what Quentin knows or thinks. I’m at Wesley Wyndam-Pryce’s flat in L.A. You can send what you find here. I need it all. We have a spot of trouble here that needs a resolution as fast as possible.”

“All right, Rupert, you’ll have to give us at least a day to track it down. We can magick it over if it’s that important,” Collins offered.

“It is. And you do this for me, both of you are squared,” Giles told him.

“Well then, I best get to work then. Until later then.”

He heard the call disconnect and replaced the receiver.

*****

In the kitchen, Fred set the tea pot and cups on the serving tray. She poured some milk in the creamer and placed that and the sugar bowl on the tray as well before taking it out into the other room. Looking over at Giles as he hung up the phone, she put the tray on the coffee table, figuring they would be working there.

“Did you get in touch with them?” she asked.

“Hmmmm?” he replied absentmindedly, his thoughts going a mile a minute as he was already plotting out a course of action and the steps that needed to be made to carry it out. He suddenly realized what she had asked and turned to face her. “Yes, actually. Two of my associates will be searching the Council Library. I didn’t go into detail but stressed the importance of those materials. It might take a few days, but they’ll magick everything they find here.” He sat on the couch and poured two cups of tea, remembering how Fred had prepared hers the first time. He passed her the cup. “The groundwork has been laid, but the trick is going to be tracking down the exact spell or ritual to allow us to get to this Quor’Toth. Between the three of us, it shouldn’t be a problem, though.”

She nodded. “I guess now would be a good time to mention that I took the best research and magic books we had from the office when I was packing things up. They’re in the bottom of the box.” Setting the tea cup down for a moment, she hurried over and pulled the books out. “I wasn’t sure if all of them were Wesley’s or the group’s, but I...I kind of figured that we’d have better use for them than they would. And I think I was being a bit spiteful.”

Walking back over to the couch and sitting down, she passed a couple of the books over to Giles. “I know that Wesley and I always used these when we were trying to find out information.”

Brogin’s Rituals. The Black Chronicles. Davidoff’s Demon Anthology. These are all very thorough books. Wesley has taught you well.” Giles smiled proudly. “Later, I’ll call Tara as well. Have her send The Pergamum Codex.” He was amused by her curious look. “The most likely candidate to have gone to a place like Quor’Toth would be a past Slayer. The Pergamum Codex is the Slayer’s codex, which documents past feats as well as future prophecies. We may find a lead in it. The book was missing for several generations, thought to be lost. So when Angel brought it to me in Sunnydale that first year, I tied the book to me directly, so I would always know where it was. I can call it here myself, but with Lilah, and Angel and the others – I’d rather conserve my energy.”

She nodded at that. No doubt that Wolfram and Hart would be on the look out for anything pointing to a book like that if it was so important, and using a binding spell to call it would most certainly attract their attention faster that anything.

“You said that the rest of the stuff should be here from the Council in two days. How long do you think it might take to figure this out once we get it? If this world is as bad as Angel made it sounded, it’s possible—I mean, I don’t want to think that it could, but—what if...?” She couldn’t make herself finish the sentence. In fact, she found that she didn’t want to finish the sentence. She wanted to believe that it wouldn’t be too late by the time they got everything figured out and that Holtz would keep Connor alive until they could go in and save him.

“I wouldn’t worry about Connor,” he told her, sensing the direction of her thoughts. “Darla was over three hundred years old while Angelus one of the most bloodthirsty creatures that ever existed, and Daniel Holtz kept them on the run for nearly half a century. That should be testament enough to his effectiveness. Killing Connor wouldn’t be in his best interest. We have no way of knowing how time progresses there, so he may need the boy as he grows, to protect himself when he becomes too old to fight. Besides, his revenge on Angel is more potent if he raises the boy to hate his father than by just slaughtering him outright. I think if it comes down to it, he’ll protect Connor with his life.”

Nodding her head, she glanced over at the door to Wesley’s bedroom instead. “Should we wake him up or get started on this and let him sleep for now?”

He was about to suggest they allow him to sleep but was cut off by the knocking on the door jam. He looked up and smiled at a slightly groggy looking Wesley, leaning against the wall near his bedroom doorway. “No need. Sleeping beauty arises on his own.”

“Hey,” Fred said, jumping up from the couch and crossing over to wrap her arms around Wes, helping him back over to sit down. She wanted to immediately spill what was going on and tell him what had happened with Lilah but figured that it would be better to at least get him settled before overwhelming him with all the information. “How are you feeling?”

Giles had to tamp down on the urge to go help his friend to the couch. He reminded himself that that place was Fred’s, first and foremost. Oddly enough, though, he didn’t begrudge her for it despite his own feelings regarding the younger man. She loved Wesley – anyone with eyes could see that. And he adored seeing the smile her mere presence put on his friend’s face. He angled himself on the couch to allow Wes more room, waiting for him to get settled, but his gaze was on Fred. He smiled. She was excited.

“Fred, just tell him before you bounce out of here with excitement,” he teased, passing Wes one of his pads and a pen.

Feel fine. Rested, Wes wrote. He looked between his friend and his love, wondering what they were up to. Tell me what?

“We had a guest while you were asleep – Lilah Morgan,” Fred said after sticking her tongue out at Giles and then winking. Childish, she knew, but she couldn’t help it. Besides, she only ever stuck out her tongue at people she liked. “She wanted to try to get to you, but Giles told her to stay the hell away from us and then got her to bring us the piece of the Niazian Scroll she stole, so we have it back now, and Giles thinks that you were right about the prophecy, no matter what Sahjahn said—you were right! And he thinks we can get Connor back too.”

Wesley looked at Fred, eyes wide, the shock of what she had said, consuming him to the point that he didn’t even hear Giles’ soft laugh. The fact that Lilah had surfaced to get to him didn’t even matter either. Rupert had retrieved the scrolls from her. The pieces of parchment that could have saved him and Fred both a mountain load of grief and pain – they were in his possession once again. He was almost afraid to look at them. Looking up when he felt the hand on his shoulder, his eyes filled with tears seeing the gentle smile on his friend’s face. Wesley’s breathing began to pick up as the emotions rocked him to the core. The pain, the anguish... For the first time in months, there was a chance to know if it was all worth it. If he was right, Holtz’s interference had only delayed the prophecy. He could still do this right. His shoulders began to shake with the weight of the guilt starting to uncoil, and the tears flowed freely. Giles didn’t hesitate this time, wrapping his arms around the thin shoulders and pulling him against his chest. He held him tightly, allowing him to ride things out, as he whispered soothing noises into the younger man’s ear.

The smile dropping off her face, Fred leaned into Wesley as Giles held him against his chest, wrapping her arms around him from the other side and holding on to him tightly, her arms resting over Giles’. She hadn’t meant it to come out as fast as it had, but it had. And they had a second chance now. A chance to prove he was right.

“Just let it out,” Giles encouraged him, knowing full well, this release went much further back than the debacle with Connor. This extended years back, perhaps into his childhood. And now, for the first time, Wesley had the means to vindicate his decision...even if it was only to himself. He suspected Wesley might react this way, but he was certain he needed it. The only thing Giles regretted was not having the forethought to warn Fred. He looked down at the dark head on his shoulder, tamping down on the protest his ribs wanted to make in protest of Wesley’s desperate grip.

After several minutes, the worst of it seemed over. He lifted Wes’ gaze to meet his, his heart skipping a beat at the soulful look in those tear-filled blue eyes. There was no shame, no fear, and no sense of loss that had been present the night before. There was determination, gratefulness, and something more Giles just couldn’t put his finger on.

“I called in a few favors. Texts are on the way. We’ll confirm your translation, then we’re going to go to Quor’Toth to collect Connor,” Giles promised him, pressing his lips to Wesley’s forehead. “No more guilt, Wesley. That wanker you call your father, he’s not here. You were caught in a very ugly situation that Fred and I are going to help you make right.”

Fred kept her hand on Wesley’s back as Giles told him what they had planned. “What happened wasn’t your fault – you were right and did the only thing you could, Wesley,” she told him when Giles finished speaking, her hand moving up to the back of his head, running through his hair. She looked over into Giles’ eyes as she said this, seeing the assurance there, knowing that both of them together would make sure that Wesley succeeded in this. “I took all the books that we always used for research from Angel Investigations – didn’t know if they were yours particularly but figured that didn’t matter. We can use them to get started until the rest of what Giles has asked for arrived.”

Reaching around him, she clasped her hand over his and Giles’ to show that they were in this together, all the way, however long it took and even beyond that. “I believe in you, Wesley. I know we can do this together.”

Giles smiled as Fred’s hand close over theirs, feeling himself indebted to this small woman. Without her, he would have only been able to help Wesley so much. Her devotion to the younger man was even stronger than his. Now, not only did they have a chance to get him past this one incident, but also, Wesley could be happy. He just lay still when Wesley put his hand in the middle of his chest, using him as leverage to sit up. But what surprised him was when the hand was left there. He could feel the small circles being rubbed on his chest in a silent thank you.

Wesley looked between them sheepishly. He was a little embarrassed about the loss of his composure, but neither of them looked down on him for it. Quite the opposite. He felt Giles’ hand close over his, holding it to his chest as he focused on Fred. Reaching his free hand up, he slid it along her jaw, curling around the back of her neck. Slowly, he pulled her toward him, leaning in and giving her a deep kiss. Lost in the sensations of her mouth, her taste, he didn’t hear the older man’s breathing catch.

Giles looked down at his traitorous body. Wesley had been practically lying on top of him as he cried, and his body’s desires had made its presence felt acutely. Shifting when Wesley leaned toward Fred, he winced when his zipper rubbed over his very hard flesh. He needed to calm himself before he continued.

“Fred, give him the satchel with the scrolls.” He turned his attention toward Wes. “You can start on those. Nothing too taxing. I’ll be right back.” He shifted off the couch and disappeared into the bathroom.

She glanced over at him when Wesley broke their kiss, it taking a moment for what he was telling her to process. Then she understood and nodded. Watching him as he got up and headed into the bathroom, she felt her eyes widen when she noticed Giles’...state. Those jeans had been way too tight.

Looking back over at Wesley, she wondered if he had noticed. Both men quite obviously were attracted to each other, and Wes was attracted to her, the way her lips still tingled from the kiss he had given her more than ample evidence of that. Reaching over, she ran her hand along Wesley’s cheek, her mind a whirl from all this, wondering where it would all lead – how they would deal with all the electricity being created in this flat. They still hadn’t told them about their plan regarding Connor once they retrieved him. Would he agree with that – it would tie the two of them together absolutely. Would he want that? Would he allow it?

Wesley was still reeling in shock a bit. He and Rupert Giles had started out as foes who had happened to be fighting on the same side. He wasn’t a total fool; he knew he had been insufferable, pompous and beyond arrogant. He was thankful for their friendship now. Vaguely, he wondered what he had said to Lilah, considering the viper he knew would never concede so easily.

But then Wesley realized what part of this entire mess surprised him most – Rupert Giles was fixing his life, and instead of feeling babied, like he would have even four years ago, he felt loved and cared for. Being alone as a child, that hadn’t been his choice. But now, he realized he didn’t have to be. He had two very wonderful people willing to do anything for him. The feeling was warming.

Leaning over, Fred kissed him again then went over and got the satchel from the desktop and brought it back over. Sitting back down beside him, she pulled them out to give to him. “Giles said something about Lilah having highlighted the scroll she stole. Surprised she actually got out of here alive after having done that.”

His blue eyes narrowed in anger at that. Pulling it out, he opened it, emitting a groan at the damage then wincing at the pain that flared across his throat.

“Hey, don’t let what that witch did cause you to hurt your throat anymore,” she told him, seeing the expression on his face. Reaching over for the empty cup sitting on the tray on the coffee table, she poured him a cup of tea and made it up for him. “Here. I made this a little bit ago, so it should be cool enough for you to drink now. Neither of us want you back in the hospital because some lawyer doesn’t know how to properly handle ancient texts. She’s not worth that.”

Wesley looked around the flat for a moment, spotting his pills on the counter. He didn’t want to depend on them so soon after waking up. He decided he would tough it out as long as he could without them. Grabbing his pad from the table, He quickly wrote down his thoughts.

Still not right. She’s basically made these scrolls worthless to anyone besides me, he wrote before a slow smile crossed his face. So Rupert really put her in her place? Makes me sorry I missed it considering what she did to these. Careless bint.

“Oh, he definitely put her in her place. Basically did what Angel was never able to do, and in about two minutes flat. I don’t think I even thought I would live to see it, but he did it. He’s definitely something special.” Looking over his shoulder, she looked at the scrolls and saw the yellow highlights across the aged paper, amazed that she didn’t destroy the writing on there by doing it. Most old-fashioned inks would have disappeared or smeared upon reacting with the chemicals in modern highlighters. It made her wonder if the ink had been enchanted to make sure it didn’t fade because it didn’t look like it had weathered anywhere nearly as badly as the paper.

Wesley nodded, agreeing with her sentiment about Rupert. He had believed so for some time. Intelligent blue eyes immediately scanned the document, finding where his translation had left off instantly. He was still mentally cursing Lilah Morgan. Her theft of the document had stalled his translations and caused undue heartache for all of them. But it was nice to know his old friend had got one over on her. So lost was he in his own thoughts, he never heard the man in question approach.

“I shouldn’t worry about Lilah Morgan, Wesley. I made myself clear – the two of you are off limits. As far as she is concerned, you are mine. So is the boy. She has no choice but to cover our asses once we retrieve Connor or her bosses will know she lied to them, and somehow, I don’t see them as particularly forgiving,” Giles explained, looking over his shoulder from behind the couch. He nodded when Wesley turned to face him, the question in his eyes. “I suspect you were right. And Connor is still in danger from Angel. Once we retrieve him, he’ll stay with us with you and Fred listed as his biological parents. All of this will, of course, be backed by ‘official’ documents supplied by the Council.”

While Giles allowed him to process what he had just said, Wesley considered what he was proposing. Part of him felt guilty. Angel had been his friend. And here they were talking about keeping his son away from him as casually as they would discuss the weather. But Giles was right. If the vampire was still a danger to the child, it was their duty to protect him. He knew that the part of the vampire that was his friend would have wanted that. Looking between Giles and Fred, he nodded. He was in for whatever plan they came up with.

Fred let out a little sigh of relief when Wesley agreed to their plan to keep Connor as their own son. Knowing that he understood took a lot of the worry out of this – or at least an important part. Yes, they had to worry about getting him back and there was always the chance that Angel might find out what they had done and come after them, but at least they were in this together. It would give Connor a chance to grow up in a more normal environment too, away from the demons and lawyers and people who wanted to harm simply because he was Angel’s son.

Picking up her own cup of tea, she took a few sips – it hadn’t turned out bad for her first try, actually. She just hoped the other two thought so although it was quite likely neither of them would say anything just to be nice. She tried to translate the scroll Wesley was reading herself but was only able to pick up a few phrases here and there. Although one of them she did know, having poured over Wesley’s notes after discovering he was gone.

“Isn’t that the word for father?” she asked, pointing it out but not touching the scroll. “I thought I saw that in your notes.”

Wesley looked down at the scroll, his eyes following the passage Fred was indicating. His brain was already switching over to the necessary dialects that would translate the passage to English. Grabbing his pad, he began writing.

“The Father, once consumed by light, will lose everything. Darkness will prevail...” He paused, his eyes widening as he read the next passage. “The Son, and all surrounding him, will die,” he added, slumping back on the couch. He was numb. After everything he had been through these past months, he was right, and he didn’t know how to wrap his mind around that. Darkness will prevail... Did that mean the return of Angelus? Or would it be a repeat of the time he fired them? He looked up at Giles. Darkness will prevail? Angelus? he wrote, tilting the pad where the other man could read it before showing it to Fred.

“I don’t know, Wesley,” Giles replied cautiously as Fred read what he had written. “I think for Connor’s sake, we have to assume the worst. If Angelus will indeed return, I think we should consider returning to Sunnydale once we’ve retrieved the boy. Here in L.A., we’d be sitting ducks for him. At least on the Hellmouth, we have the others to help protect him. I’ll call Anya tonight and tell her to locate an orb of Thessulah. Willow will be in danger as well. Angelus knows she’s the only one who can put his soul back.”

Fred felt her heart catch in her chest when she saw the translation. It was one thing to think that the prophecy was true and that Wesley had been right – to see it written down made it all the more real. Angel was a danger to Connor.

She looked over at Giles at he spoke about them moving to Sunnydale to be safer. He was probably right. This was Angel’s territory. And Wolfram and Hart’s. Between them, if it was ever discovered what they had done, they wouldn’t have a chance. Especially if they decided to work together – which she was sure Angelus would do in a heartbeat, given everything that had been said about him, about what he had done previously to Giles and those he loved.

“What’s the Orb of Thessulah?” she asked, having never heard of that before. She couldn’t recall ever having run across a mention of it in any of the research she and Wesley had ever done.

Wesley looked up at Giles, figuring it would be easier for him to explain than trying to write it out.

“An Orb of Thessulah is used to pull souls from the ether. It’s also the main component in Angel’s curse. Draw the soul into the orb, and the words of the spell put it back in Angelus,” Giles explained. “Jenny managed to translate the spell from the ancient tongue to at least something we could use before...before she was killed. Willow used my orb to re-ensoul him the last time he was loose. They’re somewhat hard to come by, but that’s where the advantage of employing a former demon comes into play. She has quite an impressive list of contacts.”

Fred shook her head in amazement. “I didn’t realize it was that complicated. I always thought they were just able to pull his soul from wherever it was and put it back in his body based on what the others said.”

“No.” Giles gave her a half-smile. “Jenny was a member of the Romany tribe that cursed him, and only they knew the clause in his curse, so there had been no need for it for over a century. The dialects had evolved, so it was a matter of translating the original texts. She had to track it down among her own people.” He shrugged. “I suppose we know a little more about it because of her and having to deal with Angelus the last time he was loose.”

She wondered if any of them would be prepared if—when Angel lost his soul again. It was coming, after all – the Darkness. That was what the prophecy said. “So are we planning to try to re-ensoul him when this does happen? Give him another chance?”

He looked down at Wes at this. He could see the turmoil in his friend’s eyes and sighed, remembering that neither of them had dealt firsthand with the bloodthirsty side of the vampire before. “I know if you ask my people, Xander, Spike and Anya would say dust him right off. Xander especially still bears some hard feelings about the last time. However, out of respect for Buffy and the friendship the both of you shared with him in the past, I say try re-ensouling first. But I caution you both. Angelus is tricky. Plans may change, and to protect all of you, as well as Connor, I will kill him if neccessary.”

She believed him – it was in his eyes, in his actions toward Angel, Cordy, Charles and Lilah earlier. He wouldn’t hesitate, and he wouldn’t grieve if he had to do it because to him, there were more important people to save. It still seemed a little weird to be talking about Angel this way, to be talking about the man who had helped saved her from Pylea and had given her a place to stay and a job and had shown her how to live her life again with the help of the others. But she knew that given what they were planning, what they had found out, they didn’t have a choice.

“I understand,” she said softly, her eyes locking with Wesley as she said this. “Maybe I should make something for us to eat while you guys get started? I have a feeling we’re going to be at this for a while.”

“There’s some leftover potatoes in the fridge. Maybe we could have those with eggs?” Giles suggested, knowing Wes could handle the soft texture of the eggs. “You can choose, though.” He smiled – she understood his desire to not make Wes feel any more self conscious about his soft food diet than he already was. “Skin and Bones here can point out the texts he has, and we’ll get started on this end.”

Wesley smirked when Giles called him too skinny. He saw a knowing look in Fred’s eyes, seeing that she agreed with him. It wasn’t that he tried to starve himself. He would just get caught up in his work and would forget to eat until someone shoved something under his nose. He nodded, part of him warmed by the fact that these two wonderful people kept on him so much.

Fred grinned when she saw Wesley’s reaction to Giles’ jibe. Maybe finally he would take some notice of his awful eating habits and the fact that he had been letting himself waste away recently. “Eggs it is, then,” she said, pushing herself up off the couch. She picked up the tray as well. “I’ll also refresh the tea. Knowing Wesley’s research methods, we’re going to be needing a lot of refills.”

Heading into the kitchen, she left the two men alone to get started on searching through the books.

*****

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