Title: Guardians of the Gate
Summary: Wesley, Faith, Angel and Spike join forces to stop a group in Europe that threatens to release the most evil of creatures on mankind.
Rating: PG13 for swearing, violence, and such.
Pairings: Oh, geez. I'm not sure right now. Maybe none. We'll see as the story develops.
Disclaimer: Joss owns all. I wish I did. I'm only playing inhis playground for a little while, and then I have to go home.
Note: This is the sequel to "Guardian Angel". Takes place several months after the episode "Fade Away". So if you haven't seen the last Angel, spoilers abound. Previously on Angel: Wesley died during the fight with Cyrus Vail. But somehow the mage brought Wesley's body back to life, just as Wesley was trying to help Faith as her guardian angel. He's alive again! So now he has rejoined with Angel, Spike and Faith to travel to England and advise the newly formed Watchers' Council about what they know regarding the Circle of the Black Thorn, Wolfram and Hart, etc. Only things don't go as expected. More on the guardian angels that are Cordelia, Doyle, Fred, and Lindsey too. Unfortunately, you might want to read Guardian Angel before this. It might be confusing otherwise.
Chapter One – England
"Here we are. At the door of the protectors of moms, and apple pie, and puppies. How on earth these buggers can even kill one of us is beyond me."
Spike stood pacing at the doorway to the most evil organization in the world. Well, the most evil to a vampire about to get staked. Only he wasn't the evil one about to get staked anymore. He was good, or at least as good as he could be with the soul he had in place now.
"Did get blown up, you know. Tried to take our girl for a ride and she bit back. Makes you wonder if we should just take over the bleedin' place."
"Spike?" Angel asked.
"Shut up," he responded, exasperated at the prattle from Spike.
Spike knew he was going on and on about the damn Watchers' Council. But the ones he was referring to were mostly dead and buried. Giles now had control over the remnants of the old and had ushered in the new. He just hoped he didn't see anyone he had tried to bite in the past.
"I don't know why I agreed to this."
"Because it's the right thing to do," the Watcher boy told him.
Wesley stood on his right, while Angel stood to his left. Faith just wandered aimlessly around, never keeping still. So much like Buffy, but so different in style.
"What're we gonna do? Stand out here all day or what?"
Faith was getting as impatient as he was. Spike bounced from foot to foot, trying to make sure he stayed ready for a fight just in case the old boys wanted to stake first and ask questions later.
"They need an invitation, Faith," Wesley answered, obviously getting annoyed with the wait also.
"Hey, not a vampire. Don't need that invitation."
"I would think that it would be rude to leave Angel and Spike out here all alone."
"Yeah, someone might try to stake us," Spike quipped.
"There is that," Wesley responded, smirking.
Spike watched Angel cross his arms over his body in a gesture of defiance. He knew it was his way of keeping busy, watching and listening for any problems. The vampire could take in a scene better than anyone he knew. Spike would never tell the big poof that though.
"Once they let us in Spike, they'd have to revoke the invitation. Revoking the invitation take time and talent. Right, Wes?" Angel pointedly looked Wesley's way.
"Not as much as you would think," Wesley told him with a cocked eyebrow.
Spike just wished that the two would kiss and make up. Not that either swung that way as far as he knew; they were just getting on his nerves. And his nerves were frayed beyond belief over the last couple of months. Sleep was a thing of the past. A few hours here and there. Otherwise, he sat and read. Or he sat and thought about the screw-up that was his undead life.
Not that the three people, no two people and one vampire who stood next to him weren't as screwed up as he was. Nope, they all had their own mega issues to deal with on a daily basis.
Angel had to deal with takin' on the bloody badest of the bad and surviving, taking most of his friends along for the suicide mission of the millennium. Hell, he was lucky that he had survived. If it hadn't been for Illyria. Spike stopped his train of thought right there. No thinking about Blue. He had come to care for her, maybe not deeply, but he had. That he had to admit to himself, but to no other.
The man on his right had been dead. Not like he and Angel dead, but dead as in choirs singing their praises and heavenly reward dead. Or at least that's where he thought Wesley had ended up. It wasn't like the guy had talked about it at all. Probably wouldn't ever because some kind of clause saying that if he did, he'd keel over and bite the dust, with every pun intended.
And the growth out of Percy's hip was his slayer, Faith. They were two peas in a pod. Almost never out of each other's sight. He hadn't suspected any kind of hanky panky between the two, but given time, he bet there would be. Who else would understand what they were going through? Faith had been just a little too possessive of the guy as of late, like she was scared that he would disappear in a puff of smoke and go back to where he had gone to after death.
Maybe the damned watchers were afraid to come out and face this motley crew. The four of them looked like some badass leather biker club with Faith and her jacket and pants, Angel's and his dusters, and the ex-watcher's coat. At least Percy's was brown in color, while the three of them wore black. He was ever so glad that the Wolfram and Hart gang in Rome gave him all those spare dusters. Fighting was hell on the wardrobe.
"We should motor," Faith finally spoke up, tired of waiting for the ponces to come out and talk to them.
Just as she turned to leave, the door opened to the place. They had waiting approximately an hour and twenty-five minutes for the Council to make up its bloody mind whether they were going to admit the four. Spike wanted to smile and make them scared that they made him wait, but he just didn't have the heart at the moment. He just wanted to sleep. Maybe they had some good scotch around.
"Sorry to keep you waiting. They were discussing strategy," Giles started.
"More likely who to stake first if we get out of hand," Spike answered.
Giles smirked a little. "Not that it didn't come up, but you may enter, Angel and Spike."
What looked like a nice townhouse was a major operation, Faith thought as they entered the inner sanctum of the Watchers' Council. People stopped and stared. She kind of wished there was something for them to stare at as they passed by. She wanted to go up to each of them and yell boo to see if any of them jumped. She bet most of them would.
Beside her, Wesley clenched his jaw, but no other emotion played across his face. But she knew that face very well, that I'm holding everything in because of the way I was treated before face. And Giles never checked him for weapons. Not so bright, she thought.
The place looked and smelled like books and tea. Not anything like Wes, though. His smell soothed her like no other. This place just put her on pins and needles.
"Pretty spiffy," she whispered to Wesley as Giles led them to somewhere.
"You should have seen the last place they used. Much larger, much more elegant than this."
Faith was glad she never got to see the last place, because that would have meant that the Council had captured her and probably she would have been on her way to being dead. So she was really glad about not seeing that place.
"With a lot more starched collars and suits, no doubt."
"No, you're right."
Faith liked it that Wesley hadn't dressed for the occasion. She was afraid that he would resort to Watcher Wesley. But he had stuck to his basics. Leather coat, dark shirt, and jeans. The jeans made her proud. That meant that the jerks didn't mean as much as she thought they did to him. Or that he was just rebelling.
"By the way, like the outfit."
Wesley turned to her and winked. She shook her head back and forth, trying to determine if that was what she saw.
"As much as we like the tour and all, Giles, where the hell are we going?" Spike piped up.
Angel had been mostly silent since they had gotten to the waiting area outside the compound. She wondered what was going on with him. Sometimes it really ticked her off that Angel wasn't in the sharing mood. Just like Spike shared too much in the past. Now Spike had become the broody vampire, while Angel had become the silent vampire. Wesley didn't brood, wasn't exactly silent, but he wasn't exactly in sharing mode either. God, she didn't know whether to beat the living daylights out of the three or kiss them for not bugging her.
"We're here," Giles rang out, voice echoing in the corridor.
Faith noticed that Spike was ready to fight and Angel and Wesley looked to be downright bored. Should she adopt Spike's stance or not give damn about what was going to happen?
Giles opened the door to a conference room. At the other end of the room was a blonde woman with her back turned away from the door. Now Angel did react, tensing up, as did Spike. Wesley just cocked that stupid eyebrow of his like he was waiting for the show.
"God, you took long enough," Buffy said as she turned around to greet them.
"I had to make sure they could actually enter, Buffy," Giles answered.
"So, here's dumb and dumber. Oh, and I should add jackass to the bunch, but I don't know what his involvement in all of this was, so I'll reserve judgment until later. What possessed you to pull such a stupid, asinine stunt like that?"
Buffy looked directly at Angel with her question. Angel put up his hand like he was going to answer her, but then he shoved them in his pockets. Spike still bounced on his heels, not wanting to answer Buffy.
"Seemed like a good idea at the time," Angel mumbled as Buffy made her way over to the group.
"Oh, yeah right. Take on demons that even the jackass here hasn't heard of," Buffy said as she pointed to Wesley, "get yourself killed I might add, since at least one of you in this room did. Not ask for help."
Faith could see that Buffy was building a full head of steam. She leaned up against the wall to watch the fireworks.
"Oh, and you doing that I'm disappearing act, again I might add. Not making any points in my book, Faith."
Faith just shrugged, knowing it was best just to let her rant. She'd run out of steam eventually.
"Buffy, do we have to do this now?" Spike asked, obviously not wanting to hear the full rant.
"Do we have to do this now? Did you just say that? I'm not hearing you correctly, because you were dust. Remember? Amulet, Spike, burn to a fiery death?"
"Yep, I burned up and I came back. Just deal, slayer."
Oops, Faith thought. Spike's lack of sleep really wasn't helping the situation. Sure, he wasn't himself lately, ever since Illyria had saved them all. But she had never seen Spike take that kind of attitude with Buffy before. At least what she saw when she was in Sunnydale.
"Buffy, maybe later you can visit with them, or kill them. Right now we need to plan what the four of them will say to the full Council. The meeting is in an hour."
Angel stood stock still as always. Buffy hadn't really said hello to him, which must suck in his eyes.
"You're right, Giles. Sorry."
Buffy walked over to Angel, looking up into his eyes. "We are so gonna have words."
Faith grimaced at that thought. If she was Angel, she'd hide for a while, at least until Buffy calmed down a bit. And she'd make sure there were no pointy objects in the room when the discussion happened.
Wesley just stood with his arms crossed over his front. Man, did he look like he didn't want to be there right then. Faith was afraid that he might scoot on out of there. She just hoped that the asshole father was nowhere to be seen. Her luck wouldn't hold though. Wesley would have to see him, probably would insist on seeing him. But only if she was there for backup. She would insist on that.
"The Council would like all the details on the Circle of the Black Thorn. And any other facts that you could give them of your employment with Wolfram and Hart." Giles was all business.
"What is there to say? Bad guys, we killed them. Case closed," Spike summarized.
"Spike, they'll want to know everything about every demon, down to the last detail," Wesley added.
"I kind of liked the dragon," Angel muttered to no one.
"Get off the dragon, you git," Spike said, hearing what the vampire said.
"Not like you helped me with that, William."
"I seemed to remember someone with blue hair and wearing leather taking that one away from you."
Wesley just rolled his eyes and sat down at the table. Faith joined him as the two vampires argued. Buffy finally clapped her hands together to get their attention.
"God, will you two shut up?" she told them.
"Buffy's right, you two. We can't go in there acting as such," Giles wanted the vampires to know.
Faith sat and looked at Wesley, trying to ignore the other four. She thought he looked tired. Trying to take care of him was challenging to say the least. He didn't want to be babied. Not that she was in to that; she just wanted to make sure he was fully recovered. The circles under his eyes told her a different story.
"How are you doing?" she quietly asked him.
"Faith, I'm perfectly capable of handling being here."
"Could a fooled me," she responded, taking his cold hand in hers.
A little gasp from Buffy made her drop Wes's hand quickly.
"Hey, how about some tea? My man's cold as ice. Why do these places always have to be so drafty?" Faith said, trying to cover.
"That's an excellent plan, Faith," Giles answered, earning her an upraised eyebrow at the handholding.
He hurriedly gathered together the makings, with hot water and a selection of various teas. Wesley nodded gratefully as he took his first sip. Spike just tapped his foot on the floor where he sat. Angel didn't sit, but stood off to the side.
"Wesley, we also need to know what happened to you after your, well death? Many of the scholars . . . ,"
"I can't," Wesley interrupted the older watcher.
"But why? This is unprecedented."
"Because I just can't, as in it will not come out of my brain. No words, no writing, not anything. I guess it's a safeguard against the people in this dimension knowing anything about what goes on."
"Oh, dear," Giles told him.
"I'll give you as much as I can about all the other things."
"Wesley, one of the reasons why the Council is willing to reinstate you is your knowledge of this, whatever it was that happened to you."
"Well, it ain't happenin'. They'll just have to deal, or we're gone, Giles," Faith answered for him.
Faith didn't want these buffoons pushing Wesley around at all. But she figured that for the most part he could take care of himself. Before any more questions could be posed, the door opened again to reveal another familiar face.
"Oh look. It's vampires and slayers and watchers," the first one started.
"Oh, my," the other one finished.
Faith had missed Willow and Xander at least a little. They were amusing at times. And they did care about her in some fashion. But their first allegiance was to Buffy. Just like her first allegiance was to Wes.
Both Spike and Wes rose to greet the new arrivals.
"Didn't believe when they said you were alive, Spike," Xander said as he made his way over to the vampire.
"Still dead, although undead is still better than nothing."
"We're glad it worked out," Willow said to Spike, a smile on her face.
"So am I," Spike answered without much conviction to his voice.
Maybe the two from Sunnydale would put Spike in a better frame of mind. He had been down in the dumps ever since Illyria had sacrificed herself. Faith didn't know whether Spike really liked the demon or whether everything that had happened to him in the last year had finally caught up with him. Could be both.
Angel's mood baffled her. One minute, he was happy that he still had friends alive, and the next minute he was arguing with them, trying to push them away. She was glad that Gunn had stayed in Los Angeles to recover. The man still wasn't walking right. Every time Angel saw how much Gunn suffered, he would literally go running from the room.
But her main concern was for her watcher. Physically, he was tired all the time. Giles had told her that he might be that way for some time. The spell that he performed to get her slayer powers back could drain even the best of mages. She didn't think that was the problem. The problem was the atmosphere. Being in Los Angeles had made Wesley see all that he had lost in the past couple of years. Faith hoped that being in England would help him heal, if not physically, at least emotionally. She'd put a happy face on him if it took killing everyone that ever said a cross word to him, present company not excluded.
"So, are you going to tell them the real reason I took over Wolfram and Hart?" Angel said from behind Wesley, low enough for the others to not hear.
If Angel wanted to pick a fight, here was definitely not the best place to do it. Besides, Buffy looked like she wanted to tussle and she wasn't afraid to make it hurt. Neither was Faith, if the vampire stepped over the line.
"They will find out eventually," Wesley answered, not turning around.
Faith could see the look of hurt in his eyes ever so briefly. She'd get the whole, unabridged version of the story some day. Right now, she needed to make sure a fight did not break out between the two.
"Yes, you're right. I just don't have the means right now to protect him."
"I understand all too well, Angel."
"Good. Then that's settled."
Angel walked away to stand by the door, like he wanted to get this all over with and disappear.
"Wes, you do what you have to do."
"As I always do, Faith."
Which meant he'd lie, cheat and steal for the dumbass by the door, especially if it was for the greater good.
"Tell you what? Later on, I'll spar with him and kick his ass. How's that sound?"
Wesley's mouth ticked up a little on one end, like he would love to be there to witness that. "Better you than me."
Faith grinned at his announcement. Luckily, the Sunnydale contingent had avoided them for a few minutes, until Xander decided it was time to talk to Wesley.
"So, you were dead?"
"So, you're a dumbass," Faith bit back.
"Just trying to make conversation, Faith. Down girl."
"Fuck off, Harris," Faith answered back, getting irritated at his attitude.
"Faith," Wesley softly called out her name.
"Everyone, please take your seats. Let's go over what happened, exactly," Giles told the group.
Angel begrudgingly sat the furthest from everyone, while Spike propped his boots up on the table.
"Angel, since it was your plan, why don't we start with you. What made you want to take on this organization?"
"Cordelia gave me a vision, right before she died. It gave me clues as to what the group was, what they controlled and so forth."
"So she died to save your butt," Xander chimed in.
"No, she was already quite dead before then," Wesley added. "She just came back for that one day, to help out in any way she could."
"This group, the Circle of the Black Thorn, what was their role?"
And on and on, until it was almost time to go face the music.
"Hey, you sure you don't wanna just blow?" Faith whispered in Wesley's ear.
"We should hear what they have to say first."
So, he was contemplating leaving. That cheered Faith just a little.
"They dare say any words that I don't like, they may find one pissed off slayer in their faces."
"I'm sure they're aware of your status."
"And you're status. Don't forget that."
"What makes you think that I could for one moment?"
The two had closed the gap between them, like they were telling secrets to each other and no one else could hear. Except that Angel and Spike could probably hear everything they said, and Buffy could at least hear snippets. Damn supernatural hearing.
They were all led down a long corridor until they came to a stop at a set of large doors. Spike still bounced on the balls of his feet, making Faith even antsy. She just wished the vampire would get over it. They weren't gonna stake him this time. Too many slayers around that had their lives saved by the guy. Wesley just stared at the doors, trying to hide his emotions. The man wasn't scared. He was angry. All that resentment was building in him. She might just have to stop him from making some grave mistake and ending his paid career as reformed watcher. Getting paid for the stinking job was a plus.
"Ready to face those jerks?" she asked him as the doors opened.
"Nothing to face, Faith."
Wesley cringed inwardly as the doors opened. He was finally back in the halls of the Watchers' Council, even if it was a new building. He could count on his hands the number of watchers that had actually survived the explosion of the main headquarters. New ones were being trained, but it would take time to rebuild the enterprise that had taken millennia to build.
Wesley recognized a few of the faces that were sitting behind a large, long table at the other side of the room. Not that this was the inquisition, he thought sarcastically. It looked to be a bloody trial. And if they were found guilty, they might be led away, never to be heard from again. Four chairs sat before the table, lined up in a perfect row.
Spike wouldn't have anywhere to put his feet, and Angel would balk at having to sit still that long in those chairs. Faith, he didn't even want to think how she would handle the questions, much less be able to sit for them. He himself didn't want to sit and listen to all their inane comments.
"Well, this is friendly," Spike spoke out loud.
Spike would always tell you how he felt about a situation. He may not tell you how he truly felt about you, but if something were there to glom upon, then Spike would find it and exploit it to his advantage. He was such the student of human nature.
Angel was the first to seat himself before the Watchers' Council board. The Scourge of Europe wasn't afraid of these mere mortals. As he shouldn't be. Angel had survived far worse over the past hundred years with having a soul and stopping numerous apocalypses.
Spike sat next, turning his chair so that he straddled it. His show of bravado had several of the people sitting behind the table whispering and gesturing.
Faith sat down, propping her leg up on the last chair. She tapped her hands to her own beat, always moving her fingers. That meant that she was nervous. He was the last to sit down, shooing her feet off the chair. He eyed each member of the council board, trying to assess what their agendas might be. He knew a few from his father's days, but the rest were fairly new. Green, just as he was in Sunnydale.
Giles took a seat behind the table in the middle. The rest of the Sunnydale gang sat off to the side, in what looked to be more comfortable chairs. He just hoped that Spike didn't see this and throw one of them off. It wouldn't bode well for them to cause a scene.
"Thank you all for coming. As you know, we are here to ascertain what exactly happened in Los Angeles approximately two months ago. I wanted you all to be aware of the danger that still lurks out there," Giles spoke with authority.
"Danger, Will Robinson," Spike leaned over to whisper in Faith's ear.
Faith just smirked back. Wesley rolled his eyes, gesturing with his head for them to pay attention. He wanted everyone's opinion on the new Council, which meant that they needed to pay attention, not be off thinking of other things.
"You all know each of the four before us," Giles continued.
"What I do not understand is why we let them in?" a young man to the right spoke up.
Wesley almost snickered. Green indeed. The man couldn't be more than thirty. His tweed even looked too new.
"He couldn't fight his way out of a nest of birds," Faith mumbled.
"Reminds me of someone," Angel spoke up.
"Yes, let's bring that up," Wesley quipped back, trying to joke. He kept the venom out of the statement, because Angel seemed to be amused. "And Faith? That was a really lame joke."
"Bite me," she countered.
"Are you finished?" Giles offered.
"Yeah. Go ahead your highness," Spike told Giles.
Xander stuck up one finger, like he was marking a chalkboard. One in their favor.
"Spike, would you like to start? How did you come back?"
"Amulet I was wearin', someone sent it to Angel. Poof, I'm back, only I'm a ghostie. Which really sucked, by the way. No thanks to the two poofs here. Then I'm a boy again, undead mind you. So that's what happened."
The Council looked as confused as ever. Wesley would have to translate it into coherent English so that they would understand.
"The amulet that Spike used to close the Hellmouth was sent to Angel at Wolfram and Hart. Spike's essence must have been stored in it after his death. It dropped to the ground, releasing Spike from its grasp. We're not sure exactly who sent it to Angel, but we can make a few guesses. As suddenly as he was brought back, he was made corporeal again. Another package had arrived, somehow making him solid. And we had nothing to do with it."
"Yeah, considerin' you wanted me to meet my maker there for an instant."
Wesley ignored Spike, knowing that if he took the bait, they could be there for hours.
"But the Senior Partners could have sent it? Am I right?" said the lady off to the left.
Wesley didn't know her. She was quite young to actually be a member of the Council, but beggars couldn't be choosers. And she was quite attractive, having some of the physical characteristics that he found in Lilah to be intriguing. Her what looked to be long, brown hair was pulled up into a severe bun, in addition to the severely cut brown suit that she wore. She looked the part of watcher. Not anything like Lilah's sense of fashion. But he wondered if she was as tall as the evil lawyer.
"That is one of many possibilities, yes. Whatever the motives were, it backfired. Spike has been working with us from day one. I don't think whoever brought him back realized that he had a soul. Or if they did, that didn't matter to their plans."
"Angel, why did you take over Wolfram and Hart in the first place?" Giles put in to the arena.
"We have time."
Great, Wesley thought. Angel would tell them half-truths, creating this web of deception. He'd have to listen very closely to follow the vampire's lead.
"I was protecting someone dear to me. If I took the job, he lived. If I didn't, he died. As simple as that. Oh, and I got the information to Buffy so that she could take down the First. Bonus points for that one."
Xander put up his finger again, marking another slash in their column.
"One person should not mean that much in the scheme of things," the pretty, Lilah look-alike answered.
One person did matter more than anything in Angel's eyes. His son meant more to him than Wesley did, more than Cordelia did, probably more than anyone did combined. Would Wesley ever do something like that? He shuddered to think that he could. Every time he had followed a path to kill Illyria, he held back. Fred had meant everything to him, and he couldn't even kill the thing that had taken her away from him.
"Glad I'm not you," Spike answered.
"I thought at the time that by working inside the organization, that I could do more good than I had done outside of it. In some ways, it worked. In other ways, it didn't."
"You did manage to take out the Los Angeles branch of Wolfram and Hart," Giles pointed out.
"For now. When the Beast destroyed most of the employees a while ago, it didn't take them long to get back into action," Angel explained.
Several of the members shook their heads in agreement. He wondered if they knew about the clause in the employee's contracts that said the lawyers would work for the evil organization forever? Wesley was so glad he hadn't succumbed to signing anything like that.
"We have been monitoring their progress. It looks as if they haven't been able to get that operation back and running," the pretty lady volunteered.
Wesley just wished he knew each of their names. He'd have to get a roster from Giles later to see which of them he knew and could trust. Then they asked Wesley about all the cases that they handled when they were with Wolfram and Hart. It took some time to go through each instance, each time they actually helped instead of hindered, and did some good. The rest beside him added where they could, but Wesley took the brunt of the questions from the Council. By the time he was done, his voice was a bit hoarse. But there was no comfort from the people in front of him. Not like he felt there would be.
"Mr. Wyndam-Pryce, is it true that you died?" the pretty lady asked pointedly.
"Wesley unfortunately cannot answer that question," Giles piped up.
"But as the heads of this body, we need to know exactly what happened," the pretty lady said.
Faith tensed beside him, knowing that he couldn't answer. Yes, she did know a few things about his existence after death, considering she had encountered Cordelia.
"Clarisse, he cannot physically tell you anything. It is not possible," Giles added.
He appreciated that Giles was trying to shield him. At least the man believed him when he said that there was no possibility of answering. Sometimes he thought that his dead life had been a dream, something he imagined. But he hadn't imagined it. He wondered if it would have been easier to stay dead. Instead, he was here, answering asinine questions from an organization he had every right to not believe in or trust anymore.
"Why on earth would be want to reinstate someone who could not cooperate?" she finished.
"Because it's the right thing to do," Faith said to the body, very serious look on her face.
"Like you would know the right thing to do," Clarisse challenged.
Faith started to rise from her chair to challenge the council's representative. Wesley's hand stayed her from going any further. He could defend himself from this verbal assault.
"I don't think that we've had the pleasure of meeting, Clarisse is it?"
"Clarisse Clairbourne," she answered with disdain.
"Ah, there are some Clairbournes in my family tree."
"I assure you that if we are related, it is very distantly."
Now Wesley knew where he had recognized her. She was a distant cousin from his father's side of the family. The last time he had seen her had been at least ten years prior. She had been a teenager, full of energy and curiosity.
"Family connections aside, I believe that you did not answer the question that was put forth to you."
"And as Mr. Giles has answered for me, I cannot reveal any information to you. As simple as that."
He thought that Faith was going to stick out her tongue at the woman, but she controlled her temper. He kind of felt like doing it himself just to see her reaction. It would be enjoyable to be the rebel for once in his life.
"And as for my slayer, she's helped save the world several times. I think a little respect is due Faith. Don't you?"
The board as a whole looked pointedly at Wesley, knowing that he had challenged them. Giles just smirked his way. Earning their respect would be hard. And he really didn't care at that time to try. He had proved himself time and time again.
"You are right, Wesley. Faith, in addition to Buffy, does warrant our respect, as this body well knows. I apologize to you if anyone here has offended you in any way."
Wesley didn't want Giles apologizing for anything this group was doing to them. Neither did Angel, by the look on his face. Steam seemed to be coming out of his ears. Did Angel really care how this body treated him? But Angel held his tongue, not speaking up. Wesley realized that Angel would save his words until necessary.
"Then, I'm sorry, Mr. Wyndam-Pryce. I do not see why you would be reinstated as Faith's watcher," Clarisse finished.
The room broke out into chaos at that moment. Angel rose up, pointing to the board that they were making a big mistake. Faith stomped her feet down, planting them in a fighting stance. Both Willow and Buffy made their way over to the group, with Willow in the lead, not ready to calm the others, but joining in his defense. Even Spike decided to join in, if just to have some fun. Xander made the gesture of another point in their favor, and making the miming that the bell had rung and Angel's team had won that bout. Wesley doubted that had happened. He really didn't care what the body thought of him. He knew what and who he was. So did Faith.
"Everyone, please take your seats. We cannot discuss this unless I have quiet."
"We're done. Wes, let's go," Angel announced.
Angel did not boss him around anymore. He was not the head of Angel Investigations, not the head of Wolfram and Hart's Los Angeles offices. He was just Angel, vampire with a soul. But he had the best idea Wesley had heard all day.
Several of the board members had rose from their seats also. Wesley could see that many of them had stakes held in their hands. They'd all be dead in less than a minute if Angel, Spike and Faith were to actually attack them. Might make a good show, he thought. But that would be very wrong, indeed.
"Let's blow, loverboy," Faith added.
Xander laughed out loud at that statement, but several of the members did not. He knew Faith just did it to tick them off. He really didn't care what they thought of his relationship with Faith. It just didn't matter anymore.
"Best idea I've heard all day. Let's go get a pint," Spike told him.
"Are you buying?" Wesley asked. Spike turned his pockets inside out. "I guess not."
"Giles is buying, believe me," Buffy offered, turning her back on the table.
"You will not leave until we say you can," Clarisse challenged the group.
"Uh, two slayers, two vampires, the most powerful witch in the world, the carpenter and the ex-watcher say yeah. We're leavin'," Xander told the woman.
"Xander's a carpenter?" Wesley asked as the group headed out the door.
"Man, you would not believe the number of windows and doors I've had replaced over the years. Being around Buffy is hell on a house," Xander answered him back.
Wesley snorted at Xander's antics, glad that the group before him actually wanted him around. Faith attached herself to his side as they walked out the door. Before leaving the council's sight, both Buffy and Faith shot their middle fingers out in an act of defiance.
"Buffy," Willow admonished.
"Dawn's not here. Faith's influence," Buffy answered, blaming the other slayer.
"Ha. I don't think so," Faith quipped back.