“These marks are unacceptable!” roared Roger Wyndam-Pryce, his face the color of ripe aubergine . “If you can’t master the simple roots of Latin, how will you ever manage demon languages?”
Wesley was too dumbstruck to point out that 92% was both an A and the highest grade in his class. But that would only give his father an excuse to move from verbal upbraiding to a more literal form. So silently he bore it, repeating his promises. He would be a watcher. He would be a well-respected watcher. He’d be a well respected watcher of a slayer. It would all be worth it. Someday.
As he stepped from the shower, Wesley found once more that his towel and clothing had been taken. Left in their stead was a pair of lacy, red knickers. He eyed them and sighed.
After the first time this had happened, he’d held the washcloth before his privates, mustering what dignity as a dripping wet underclassman could, and then walked to his dorm room – only to find his roommate gone and the door locked. Since then, he'd worn his room key on a leather cord around his neck when showering. And stopped bothering with the washcloth; someone was always goaded into trying to steal it off. He'd assumed they'd tire of the prank. But they hadn't.
It was when he and Jasper - who was quite possibly more awkward and bookish than Wesley himself - were doing an inventory of the antiquities library, that he'd learned why.
"It won't stop until you wear the knickers," Jasper whispered.
Without moving his head, Wesley flicked he gaze toward his friend, whose own eyes remained fixedly on the list, his cheek twitching. Wesley would not embarrass his friend further by asking how he knew, saying only, "Right."
The next time he exited the shower to nothing else, he pulled them on, and proceeded down the hallway. The hoots and catcalls were a din that he tried to smother with his mantra. He would be a watcher. He would be a well-respected watcher. He’d be a well respected watcher of a slayer. It would all be worth it. Someday.
When he'd been called in that fateful day, he searched his mind, trying to think of anything he'd done or not done that might displease the Council's leadership (particularly his father). It was rather good fortune that he'd been sitting in a chair, at the boardroom table no less, when they told him he was going to America. That he was the assigned watcher for not one, but both of the slayers. Had he been standing, he surely would have sagged in an undignified manner. As it was, he couldn't stop his legs from a jiggling bounce, thankfully well hidden by the table. His someday had come.
At least until his first introductions. Buffy Summers and Faith Lehane weren't just dossiers he'd memorized, but people - teenagers - to be more precise. It was also one thing to read that they had this cadre of friends, but to see them putting the lives of children at risk? Unacceptable. Not to mention that they still consorted with the vampire Angelus. How could Mr. Giles have allowed such nonsense?
There were reasons a Slayer did not have friends and she certainly didn't consort with anyone. What she had was a Watcher - whom she listened to with rapt attention. That was how it worked. Those were the rules. And now Wesley was the Watcher. A well-respected watcher. A well respected watcher of slayers - plural.
Except what he found was a slayer who already had a watcher, thank-you-very-much-I-don't-care-that-he's-been-sacked. And the other? Skittish as a colt and rabid as a wolverine. But he was determined he'd garner their respect. Perhaps not immediately, as he'd assumed, but someday. Someday soon.
Each morning he reminded himself that he was the Watcher. A well-respected watcher. A well respected watcher of slayers - plural. But he appeared to be the only one to receive that message. They rejected his ideas out of hand, ignored him when he spoke, and nearly without stop rolled their eyes at him. On the rare occasion when he insisted on his way and they acquiesced, it never went well. It was growing more difficult to write reports that weren't pure works of fiction about his leadership and the situation there in.
Then even that pretext was lost when Faith's allegiance with the Mayor was exposed. He was the Watcher of a rouge slayer. One who has chosen the embodiment of evil over his tutelage. The shame only magnified by the fact he'd had not a clue and hadn't been trusted to be in on the plan to expose her duplicity.
Perhaps it had been inevitably. No longer was he the Watcher of slayers - plural. Nor was he a well-respected watcher. Or even a watcher. But he was part of the solution to thwart the Mayor's ascension - and it had been thwarted. That was something, right?
After the others had left, after the last of the emergency vehicles had driven away, and even after the spring night grew chilled, Wesley still stared at the broken, water-sodden shell of Sunnydale High. It was as if he were a vampire and the world beyond the school grounds was a home whose threshold he could not cross.
Perhaps if he focused on his own home, he could leave. But where was home? The flat he rented? England? He snorted. Wouldn’t that be the homecoming – stripped of his slayers, drummed from the Council, and disowned by his father. Neither a Wyndam-Pryce nor a Watcher. Nothing but an unemployed foreigner of finite resources.
“Well done, man. Well done,” his inner voice mocked. “Some day, indeed.”
Wesley turned full around, searching for the source of the manic laughter. It was his own.