by Vampire Fever
Wesley stares at the book in front of him until the words become one huge ugly blur.
He can't concentrate; he can't keep his mind off of the memories that have come flooding back. He remembers everything and each image is as fresh as the next. There's no distinction between them. Everything that has happened throughout his life feels as if it all happened yesterday – and in a way, with the end of the spell, it did.
Strangely, with all the competing thoughts in his head, it isn't anger at Angel or Wolfram and Hart that consumes him. The memory at the forefront of his consciousness is a little event that occurred in Sunnydale five years ago. A small exchange of words between himself and Rupert Giles that took place in the school library, just days before the school building itself ceased to exist.
All his missed opportunities and failed relationships are shining bright in his head. He knows that bridges have been burnt and there's no turning back the clock, but this memory of his old colleague keeps bothering him. Its persistence makes him play the sequence of events over and over, trying to fathom what he feels he's missing.
The words that were spoken all those years ago do not seem to bear any particular meaning; just preparations for a battle in a long line of battles he has fought ever since. When he feels like this just might drive him crazy, he finally stumbles across a moment that might be the key to this enigma. A moment he has not consciously ever acknowledged before. A moment that, at the time, passed by without his younger self even noticing its potential significance. The moment when words meant to instil confidence in an immature man out of his depth were accompanied by a soft brush of fingers across his cheek and a look of concern and affection.
It was that look that was stuck in his memory and it was that look that makes him reach for the phone to place a call to England.
There's a pause at the end of the phone as he's put on hold. Whilst he waits to
be connected, his mind starts to wander. It's strange to think that the man
sacked by the Council for being deemed unworthy of having responsibility for
the Slayer, is the very man who has become its salvation.
He wonders if his persistent memory is a signpost to his own salvation at Giles' hands. He quickly shakes off that thought. It was his own foolishness in believing false prophesies that has brought him to this point; you would think he'd have learnt his lesson by now.
The phone clicks and Giles' voice comes through the receiver loud, clear and strong.
"Wesley, is that really you? I couldn't believe it when they told me I had a Wesley Wyndam-Pryce holding for me."
"It's me Giles. I hope you don't mind me ringing you?"
"Not at all man, I'm just happy to hear your voice. Is working in the belly of the beast living up to expectations?"
"Yes, I think I can confidently say that Wolfram & Hart have delivered everything one would have expected of them, right down to the double crosses, the betrayals and the plans in motion for our ultimate demise."
There was a pause and then Giles said softly.
"Five years is a long time Wesley, it must be something big that's forced you to contact me now."
A sad, wry smile flits across Wesley's face at that remark.
"Actually it's the very opposite that prompted this call; it was something very small, but I'm thinking significant nonetheless. And no event has forced this call on me. It's something I should have done many years ago, but was too wrapped up in my own life to see beyond the here and now."
There's a small pause on the end of the phone. Wesley pictures Giles taking off his glasses and leaning back in his chair.
"The lack of communication between us goes both ways, Wesley. I'm equally to blame for letting the time slip away, pushing us further apart than mere geography should allow. If it's any consolation, I too was preoccupied with the ever present apocalypses and couldn't see further than my own small corner of the world."
"Is that why we're both still alive, when all our Council contemporaries have been systematically wiped out - total immersion in our work?" Wesley murmured.
"No Wesley, I think our success has been due to the one thing the Council failed to teach us, and found incomprehensible to understand. I believe it's because we care. Obviously we care for the world, for life and humanity but, more fundamentally, we care for the people we surround ourselves with. We fight to keep our loved ones alive, and that's what has made us strong."
"That's why I phoned you today, Giles. A memory of a conversation we had before the final battle with the Mayor has been running in circles in my head. I couldn't fathom what its significance was until this evening. I won't go into details but suffice to say that what we're dealing with here at Wolfram & Hart is way bigger than any of us expected and some of us have already fallen in its wake.
A recent turn of events has left me numb and empty, with no motive or purpose to carry on. With all of this to process, I couldn't understand why this small memory has been so persistent. But now I know."
Wesley paused and looked around his sterile office.
A few moments of silence ticked by, before Giles whispered, "Wesley?"
"I'm still here Giles. I was just trying to decide the best way to thank you."
"I finally deciphered what my subconscious was trying to show me. The memory was the moment I learnt that someone cared for me and that whether I lived or died mattered. It was the moment I learnt to care for others myself, and it was you that taught me those precious lessons. I want to thank you, because that knowledge is what has given me incentive and reason to carry on fighting till the bitter end."
"Wesley, I.." Giles started to reply but the phone had already gone dead.