When Cordelia mentions that a new coffee shop has opened a few blocks away from the office, Wesley pops in to see if their selection of teas is any better than the usual LA fare. He is, you see, on a continuing mission to find a decent brew of Earl Grey.
As he's leaving the place despondently with a Styrofoam cup containing something called a vente skinny decaf latte he's given cause to do a double-take.
"Giles? Rupert Giles?"
The man in question glances up from the book he's reading, eyebrows arching up over the rim of his glasses. Green eyes make a quick sweep from head to toe, taking in the motorcycle leathers that cling snugly to the younger man's frame. "Wesley."
Giles doesn't look entirely displeased at the interruption so Wesley takes that as an encouraging sign and approaches gamely. "Do you mind if I...?" He indicates toward the vacant seat facing Giles.
The other man closes the worn paperback with a small sigh and makes a vague hand gesture.
"So, how are things in Sunnydale?" Wesley asks brightly, setting down his coffee.
"Oh, the usual. I expect the next apocalypse is just around the corner."
"Settling in to college life."
There's a lull, during which Giles purses his lips and Wesley tries to cover his discomfort by taking a sip of scalding hot coffee and promptly burning his mouth. "What brings you to Los Angeles?" Wesley inquires, wincing through the pain.
"A scouting mission, of sorts."
"I see. Say no more." Wesley taps his nose. "I'm in pursuit of a few leads myself."
"Oh?" For the first time Giles' interest appears piqued.
"Yes. I don't know if you're aware but I was, um, let go by the Watchers Council so I've been freelancing to pay the bills. Well, until recently. I'm working with Angel Investigations now."
Giles nods. "Ah."
"Mostly research, reconnaissance, bagging and tagging, that sort of thing." He senses the older man's attention waning and for some reason he feels compelled to fill the silence that ensues. "I've seen my fair share of action too. Took out a t'shok matriarch with just a dessert knife last week. Quite messy, it was."
"Well... i-it was nice to see you." Wesley rises slowly and Giles barely acknowledges him with more than a wan smile. "Give my regards to Buffy and her friends."
As he lopes towards the door, shoulders hunched, Wesley almost misses his name being called. He turns back uncertainly.
"I thought perhaps you'd like to exchange numbers?" Giles asks. Off Wesley's look of astonishment Giles clears his throat. "The Council isn't exactly forthcoming with information since they fired me. It would be useful for me to have another source I can tap into. On a quid pro quo basis, of course."
"Oh, yes. Of course, as one professional to another," Wesley replies, absurdly pleased with this idea.
That chance meeting quite slips Wesley's mind as the weeks pass. Working for Angel one loses track of the days, irregular hours making one demon infestation or cult summoning ritual blur into the next.
So when he receives a call one evening on his mobile phone, the last thing he expects to see is Giles' name on the display. "Hello?" he answers immediately, preparing himself for some dire announcement. Why else would Giles be phoning?
"Wesley, hello. I ... I hope I'm not disturbing you."
"No, not at all." Wesley sits up a little straighter in his armchair, reaching for the remote to mute the reality television show he'd been half-watching featuring some vacuous twits competing to be America's Next Top Model. (It was a slow night at Angel Investigations and it was a choice of watch mindless drivel on television or listen to Cordelia run through her lines for her commercial audition so he chose the lesser evil.) "Is ... is something the matter?"
"Oh, no. Nothing amiss." Giles clears his throat faintly on the other end of the line.
"Working any interesting cases at the moment?"
Wesley passes the phone to his other ear. "Actually, I would like to pick your brain about a particular client of ours. Would you mind...?"
"I'd be delighted."
The phone calls become a weekly then almost daily occurrence. At first to check facts, confirm correct translations or glean titbits of obscure references from rare texts; Giles is, it goes without saying, a fount of knowledge and experience.
But, lately, Wesley's come to feel a measure of anticipation for the contact.
It's only when Cordelia breezes past one day and blithely comments, "Honestly, Wesley, it's like you two are secret girlfriends," that he realises it may not be strictly professional courtesy at the root of it all.
She puts on a bad English accent in an attempt to mimic him and Giles. "'You hang up.' 'No, you hang up.'"
"Cordelia..." Wesley stares gravely at her. "Are those split ends?"
Although it's incredibly petty, he can't help but relish the outrage on her face.
Also, she doesn't mock him for the rest of the day. A win-win, one might say.
When Giles suggests a visit to LA - comparing research notes is much easier in person, they concur - it only makes sense for Wesley to put him up for the weekend. It's a rather modest flat but the fold-out IKEA sofa bed is perfectly comfortable for a short stay.
He goes a bit OCD, to coin one of Cordelia's phrases, in ensuring the place is tidy prior to the other man's arrival. He tells himself that it's just expending nervous energy, except that he's come to care, rather deeply, about Giles' opinion; of him, his abilities, his work, and, by extension, the cleanliness of his flat.
A certain giddiness flits through him when a red, two door sporty number, Giles clearly visible at the wheel, pulls up outside his building.
"Nice car," he says in greeting as he lets Giles in.
Giles spares him a withering glance. "Don't you start. It's bad enough Buffy takes great delight in poking fun at my apparent mid-life crisis."
"Yes, well, I don't even have that excuse for suffering Cordelia's cutting remarks, do I?"
"No, I suppose not." The other man gives him a sympathetic smile.
Into the small hours they pour over the demonology texts Giles brought with him, cups of tea giving way to brandy as the night wears on. It's gone 3am when Giles finally removes his glasses, wearily rubbing his eyes, and declares himself exhausted.
Rather tipsier than he thought he was, Wesley struggles to his feet and as he sways precariously Giles catches him by the elbow, keeping him upright.
"Lightweight," Giles mutters, though there's a lopsided grin tugging at his lips, a twinkle of something akin to affection in his eyes.
Later, Wesley might conclude it's the brandy clouding his judgement that causes him to lurch forward and kiss Giles. (Not that he's been thinking about this in idle moments for weeks.) As moves go, it isn't what one would call smooth or masterful but the other man doesn't recoil, just reflexively tightens his grip on Wesley's arm and kisses him back.
The wet brush of Giles' tongue across his lower lip causes Wesley to inhale sharply and Giles uses the opportunity to deepen the kiss. Wesley hardly knows what to do with his hands, aware as he is that he's trembling, so he places them on Giles' waist, clutching at the soft cotton of his shirt.
When they eventually pull apart, slightly breathless, Wesley notices there's a flush to the older man's cheeks. His own face feels hot and he avoids Giles' gaze directly. "Right, well. I ... I should let you get some sleep. Goodnight."
"Wesley - " Giles reaches for his hand, catching hold of him before he can retreat any further. "Ordinarily, I would say that this isn't a terribly good idea."
"Right. Y-yes, of course."
"But, lately, I'm inclined to think otherwise."
Wesley glances up, meeting green eyes without flinching. "You mean...?"
"Life's too short," the older man says with a slight shrug of his shoulders and gently tugs Wesley closer.
An indecent groan is wrenched from Wesley as teeth rake over his nipple, swiftly replaced by warm lips closing over the abused flesh. He feels rather than hears Giles' chuckle before the other man continues a haphazard downward trail.
Wesley's head is swimming, a combination of the alcohol and the knowledge that this, his most secret fantasy, is actually happening. A quick glance down confirms that yes, it is Rupert Giles mouthing damp kisses down his stomach and not some figment of his fevered imagination.
Giles' hands are on his thighs, gently but firmly urging his legs apart to settle between them. Wesley's been hard from the moment Giles started undressing him and now, with the anticipation of the older man's touch, he's terrified he's going to peak too early like some inexperienced schoolboy.
The look Giles gives him is part amusement, part rebuke as if he knows and Wesley swallows hard, trying desperately to think of anything but Giles' mouth where he most wants it to be.
Then that incredible mouth engulfs him, fingers circling and stroking in tandem and all Wesley can do is arch upwards helplessly.
His colleagues take the news remarkably in their stride.
"So you and Giles are, like, dating now?" Cordelia asks after Wesley explains the situation. On his nod she promptly turns to Angel. "I told you. Duh. You owe me a pay rise."
The vampire scratches his head. "You and Giles, huh? How about that..."
"Does it ... does it make you uncomfortable?" Wesley asks, slightly fearful of the answer, because for the first time in his life he feels like he's found a place where he actually belongs and is appreciated for his skills.
"What? No!" Angel replies quickly. "I mean, who hasn't...?" He shrugs.
"I haven't. That time in the supply closet with Willow on Parent/Teacher night? Totally doesn't count because we never -" Cordelia halts and swivels a gimlet stare in Angel's direction. "Oh my God."
Angel shoves his hands in his pockets. "It was one time, okay?"