"...lad I served a term..."
"...boy to an attorney's..."
"Giles! You dead in there or what?"
Crossbow at the ready, Giles cautiously approached his door. He could think of only too many reasons why Faith might be shouting on his doorstep, but the presence of someone with a breathy but true tenor voice rendering airs from H.M.S. Pinafore had him confounded. He checked his weapon once more, then reached out and yanked the door open.
"Thanks." Faith brushed past him, hauling a mass of navy-blue gabardine over her shoulders and under one arm. "Take this, could ya?" She pushed the lump of material at Giles, who had to drop the crossbow in order to take it.
"...polished up the handle of the big front door!" Wesley Wyndham-Pryce sang cheerfully in Giles' ear.
"Faith." Giles juggled Price, who was in excellent spirits for a man whose muscles had seemingly been transformed into overcooked pasta.
"Yeah." Faith shut the door and picked up Giles' crossbow. "Nice 'bow, Watch!"
"This is Mr. Wyndham-Pryce."
"Okay, that doesn't even deserve a 'duh.'"
"Beg your pardon." Price attempted to stand up. "Bit disoriented. Some confusion. Common side effect of... many things. Including something that, er, happened. To me. Oh dear..." He pitched into Giles again. "Do apologize," he mumbled into Giles' shoulder.
"What happened to him?" Giles demanded. He got an arm under Wesley's and dragged him over to the sofa.
"Not sure. Found him tied up behind the Silver Diner on Lamont."
"I was working myself free," Wesley insisted, as Giles pushed him down on the sofa. "I was nearly there." He pitched sideways onto the cushions. "Nearly," he repeated into the upholstery.
"Oh, good lord." Sighing, Giles pulled Wesley into a sitting position and began to loosen his tie. "Did you get that lump on your head before you were bound or in the course of the rescue?" He examined the purpling contusion on Wesley's forehead, then peered into his eyes. Very blue eyes. Giles noticed himself noticing and firmly told himself to stop.
"Naturally I wouldn't have been bound had I been conscious. I'll have you know that I'm a skilled practitioner of several martial arts, as well as armed combat." Wesley jerked his head away from Giles' probing fingers and fell the other way on the sofa cushions.
Faith snickered. "Yeah, that's wicked slick," she observed, while Giles set Wesley upright once more. "Yo, Giles, if you've got the baby, I'm gonna motivate, cool?"
"Not... exactly. I need a bit more information."
"Baby?" Wesley demanded.
"Not now." Giles kept him down - and sitting up - with a firm hand on one shoulder, and turned to Faith. "He's clearly suffering from concussion, but some of the other symptoms are rather suggestive of a nonphysical cause."
"And for those of us who don't speak geek?"
Wesley gave a quiet moan. "You mean I've been cursed."
"Not necessarily. A simple spell, perhaps a localized confusion charm... but yes, something..." Giles sighed. "Something that would explain the singing."
"Oh dear." Wesley turned a bit paler. "Singing, yes..."
"Couldn't tell ya." Faith put down the crossbow. "He was tied, I untied him, brought him to you. End of story."
"But was there anything..." Giles sighed again. "Describe the surroundings where you found him."
"Alley. Dirt. Boxes. Trash. Tied-up sissyboy. Okay?" Faith had a hand on the door.
"Yes, yes, fine, go on." Giles waved her away.
"Mr. Giles?" Wesley said shakily. "I.. rather fear I... may need... er..."
Giles took a look at him, grabbed the dustbin, and passed it over just in time.
"I'm s-sorry," Wesley gasped, when he could speak.
"Quite all right. Confirms the concussion, if nothing else. Now, if we can only determine what's causing the euphoria and poor muscle control..."
"Not really very euphoric at the moment, I must say." Wesley sank back against the sofa cushions, looking worried and ill.
Giles set the dustbin aside (not too far, though, in case Wesley needed it again) and sat down beside him. "The spell may be wearing off, then." He removed Wesley's tie and unfastened his collar. "Possibly it was a simple intoxication spell... whoever attacked you may have hoped to gain information while you were under the influence."
"I've been a fool," Wesley murmured.
"Not at all," Giles told him. Then he paused, surprised at his own fervor and also remembering some choice moments. "Well, no more so than I was when I first came to Sunnydale." He smiled at Wesley. "As you may have heard, I've made quite a career of getting hit over the head."
Wesley answered with a ghost of a smile. "So I've read."
"Let me get you compress for that lump on your head. Do you think you could keep down a painkiller?" Giles asked as he went to the icebox.
"Not sure," Wesley confessed. "Still feeling rather peculiar, though no longer drunk."
"It might have been a proximal spell - bound to your, well, your bonds. That would explain the effects wearing off. Here." Giles returned with an ice pack. He frowned when he saw Wesley shiver, and he touched his forehead. "Good lord..."
"Give me your hand." Giles counted Wesley's pulse. "Dammit. Here, can you hold this to your head?"
"What?" Wesley held the compress to the lump and struggled to sit up while Giles darted to the phone. "Giles, what the devil...?"
"I know what the spell is. Willow?" Giles said, as soon as he heard the receiver lift. "I need to reverse a bloodstone vengeance curse."
"I've the books, but I need an eye of frog and your help. How soon can you be over here?"
"Well... soon. Uh, very, very soon. Who cursed you?"
"It's not me, it's Wesley."
"Oh. Hey, Giles?"
"Did he sing 'Macho Man?' 'Cause Buffy did when she was cursed, and, y'know, it would be funny, 'cause Wesley's not so much with the..."
"Willow. Time is a concern."
"Right. Oh! Right! Because someone not a Slayer can't take it for as long as... oh! I'll be right there!"
"Thank you," Giles said to the dead line. He went back to the sofa. "She'll be here soon with the necessary items for the reversal."
"I'm... feeling most peculiar..." Wesley turned feverish eyes to Giles. "Sorry... troublesome."
"Hush." Giles gently urged him to lie back. "Could happen to anyone," he reassured Wesley.
"Anyone. Why, Buffy herself suffered this very curse." Giles rearranged the compress on Wesley's brow. "It's going to be all right."
"No... it's not."
"Yes, it is," Giles insisted, some of his familiar irritation with Wesley creeping back in despite his sympathy. "Whyever not?"
"Because I'm... going to be sick again..."
"Oh, lord. Here, get the... yes, that's it... " Grimacing, Giles held Wesley's head while the worst happened.
"Don't believe I like this curse at all..." Wesley panted.
"I'm afraid that's not the curse, old man." Giles wiped Wesley's face with the dishtowel he'd wrapped around the ice pack. "That's the concussion."
"Oh. Then I violently dislike concussion."
"I could not agree with you more."
Wesley leaned back on the sofa cushions and offered a pale grin. "I promise I'll buy you a new bin."
"It washes, as I've had reason to determine before now." Giles grinned back. Really, Wesley was quite a sport, and not a bit as feeble as he'd seemed during that dreadful incident with Balthazar. "I can also assure you, from experience, that the nausea does pass off."
"In a matter of minutes?" Wesley asked hopefully.
"Yes. Well... yes. Technically."
"Only if one persists in maintaining strenuous activities such as... er... reading. But really, usually one feels quite recovered the next morning."
"I shall try to find that reassuring," Wesley responded dryly. They sat in silence for a few moments. Giles got a fresh dishtowel and put the compress back on Wesley's head. Their peace was abruptly shattered by hammering on the door and Willow's voice shouting Giles' name.
"This is becoming tedious," Giles murmured. He jerked the door open, then let out a rather feminine yelp when he found himself staring into the rather squashed face of Spike.
"'Ello Wa'cher," the vampire mumbled. His ability to enunciate was rather impaired by how firmly someone - a glance revealed it to beBuffy - had him pressed up against the barrier a lack of invitation made the doorway.
"Ready, Will?" Buffy asked.
"Ready..." Willow said faintly from behind her.
Buffy jerked Spike back from the doorway, giving Willow space to dart inside, then smashed him up against the barrier once more.
"Urrrgh!" Spike complained.
"This is fun!" Buffy chirruped. "I bet his face looks funny. Giles, does he look funny?"
"Hilarious, almost as much so as his presence. Why are you here?" Giles demanded.
"Hi, Wesley," Willow said. Wesley groaned. "Uh, maybe I'll start setting up? I looked up the spell reversal," she told Giles.
"Yes, excellent. Well?" Giles glared at Spike.
"Your bloody slayer dragged me, what d'ya think?"
Giles stared at the vampire with disgust for a long moment, then punched him in the nose.
"Arrguaah!" Spike howled, then howled again when Buffy pressed him back against the invisible wall that only affected him. "Bloody hell!"
"Why are you here?" Giles repeated.
"Giles?" Willow called. "Where's your cauldron?"
"My... there's a cast-iron stewpot in the lower left cupboard, use that. Just... grease it first? I'm waiting," he added to Spike.
"Forgot me lighter."
Giles hit him again, sparking another anguished howl.
"Grease it?" Willow asked.
"I would like to use it for edible substances again in this century, so yes, please. There's some shortening in the fridge."
"How about I just line it with tin foil?"
"Look, you're busy," Spike said. "How's about I just go along, you call when you've... AURRRGH!"
"I haven't touched you, you git!" Giles shouted.
"You were bloody well winding up to!"
"Spike," Buffy said, dangerously quiet.
"You asked if I'd cursed the watcher," Spike said, craning his neck back to look at Buffy. "I said no. And here's the watcher, very not cursed, thank you, so I'd like to be on my way."
"Not me," Giles said, in exasperation. He stepped aside. "Wesley?"
Wesley's pale, bruised face appeared over the back of the sofa. "...yes...?"
"Oh. Well. Yeah. Yeah, I did, a bit."
"Uh-huh?" Buffy squashed Spike up against the barrier and leaned sideways so she could see Giles.
"Stake him." Giles shut the door on Spike's indignant cries and went to help Willow.
Though Wesley looked much better once the curse had been revoked, he made only a token protest to Giles' insistence that he stay the night.
"I can't say that your own bed wouldn't be more comfortable," Giles remarked, as he made up the sofa into a bed for Wesley, "but in hospital they do always say that one oughtn't to be alone after a head injury. I've brought you a pair of pajamas..." Giles held out the neatly folded stack of flannel. "They're a bit shabby, but quite clean."
"Thank you." Wesley took the nightclothes and let them sit in his lap. "Really, Giles, thank you."
"Not at all," Giles said, embarrassed. He cleared his throat to cover the discomfort and rubbed his hair up the wrong way. "Er, can you manage, or would you... erm..."
"Oh... if you wouldn't mind just... giving me a hand with the buttons?" Wesley held up a trembling hand. "Still a bit shaky, I'm afraid..." he murmured shamefacedly.
"Of course," Giles answered, letting the one phrase answer both comments. He helped Wesley out of his gabardine jacket, then undid his cuffs and started on the shirt buttons.
Beneath his clothes Wesley was startlingly beautiful - stronger than his slimness suggested, with firm lithe muscles under the marble-white skin of his arms. Giles forcibly turned his eyes away from the haze of dark hair that showed through his undershirt and peeped out at the lowest point of the neckline.
"Thank you," Wesley said again, quietly, and pulled the nightshirt on. Giles turned his back so Wesley could pull on the trousers in private.
"I was singing?" Wesley said at length, as he settled himself in the makeshift bed.
"Yes." Giles busied his hands with an extra blanket. "Rather well."
"What was I singing?"
"Gilbert and Sullivan."
"Oh, dear god." Wesley covered his face with one hand.
"H.M.S. Pinafore, to be precise."
"It would be Pinafore. We did that my first year at the academy."
Giles knew, suddenly, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Wesley had been Josephine, and had been taunted for it over his entire school career and possibly after. That was the devil of being a Watcher; you never got away from the people you'd hated at school. Well, unless you were put in unofficial exile with a Slayer on the other side of the world. "We did Pirates."
"And you were the Pirate King," Wesley responded, smiling.
"I only wished. I, er, I was Frederick. Opposite a terribly spotty Mabel who suffered from halitosis and an obsession with flatulence jokes."
"I expect you were very handsome," Wesley said wistfully. Then he coughed and turned deliberately on his pillow. "Er. Yes. Um, thank you again."
"You're quite welcome. Do call if you need anything. I won't hold it against you if you snarl when I wake you to make sure you can be woken." Giles turned out the lights. At the foot of the stairs he paused, then looked back towards the sofa. "I expect you were as well," he said into the darkness, then turned and climbed the stairs to his bed.