and a late night of pouring over the compounds bills for tonight’s bout of
insomnia. Willow, Andrew and several of the girls who had good bookkeeping
skills did the actual accounting; the figures were always accurate, that was the
There simply was not enough money generated by the trusts to sustain the main
compound let alone the satellites. Just in the past three years, they had to
reduce health insurance coverage four times, to where it was now virtually
worthless for a group of young women who were often prone to injury simply by the nature of their calling and required more than the normal amount of trips to the emergency room. In addition, caring for the institutionalized Slayers and
Potentials, though their numbers were dwindling in proportion with those being
called, was also fast becoming an issue. They would soon have to look further
into the possibility of handling that task in-house, which they were damn ill
equipped to do adequately.
Rising fuel costs had severely limited travel reimbursements as well, and the
whole organization was on a “no non-essential personnel movement authorized” restriction for the last eighteen months. Even Faith, who had been visiting rather frequently in recent months…why is she here this time… he wondered, had been taking the bus and paying for it out of pocket. Not to mention the phone and internet bills.
He had already called in all his markers and fairly begged all his contacts who had the means for help, with some success; but it was still not enough. It
seemed as though they could handle all the evils that the world could throw at
them, but not their creditors.
Buffy was finally coming home and the last thing he wanted was for her to
arrive to a financial disaster; she had enough monetary woes after Joyce had
passed away. There were enough other things for her to deal with.
Damn, it’s bleeding hot! He thought, flinging off the sheet and tugging at his t-shirt. He cursed the main house’s lack of central air. The small unit in the window was virtually worthless.
Reluctantly, he arose, depositing the sweat damp t-shirt on the bed post.
Intent upon adjusting the bloody thing to its highest setting, electric bill be
damned; he’d tap his retirement fund again to pay it next month.
“Bloody Hell!” He suddenly scowled picking his bare foot up off the soaked
carpet nearly half way from the bed to the window. As if on cue, the unit began
to vibrate and rattle. Gingerly, Rupert tried to skirt the wet carpet that was
squishing water between his toes…that’s going to smell horribly before it
dries in this heat, another sodding thing we can’t afford to fix…to unplug the bleeding thing.
Succeeding with only a minor electrical shock from the outlet when he yanked
out the cord, he proceeded to the balcony door. There may be some breeze off
the sea tonight… he thought, fumbling in the moonlight with the latch. Opening it, he supposed he had heard something fluttering in the leaves of the rubber plant on the balcony and stepped outside to check. Nothing there… not even a wisp of breeze, sleep deprivation taking its toll, Ripper… he thought. Spying the unopened bottle of Glen Livet on the dresser, he headed across the room for it. There would be no going back to sleep tonight in any case. He would forgo the glass, taking the entire bottle with him down the stairs to the study.
He turned on the desk light and swiveled his chair round to face the credenza
behind the desk. He pulled the cover off the mirror Willow had presented him
with as a gift years ago.
While she was pregnant with Tara Rose, Willow had taken a sabbatical from
teaching; she had spent a lot of her spare time scouring the thrift stores and
antique shops around the Bay Area looking for whatever called to her. The mirror was something that had called to her; though she recounted to him that she hadn’t expected it to do so literally, and certainly not to call her by name and plead with her to buy it and give it to him, which is precisely what it did.
After gazing into it for a moment to no avail, Rupert gave it a hearty slap
on the side of its frame.
“Wake up you sot!”
The glass misted over slightly, giving off a faint glow and then dimmed
again. “Wesley!” He shouted at it.
It responded with a string of slurred British slang worthy of a merchant
“Oh-ho,” he scoffed,”…quit your complaining, you dozy berk, you’re dead what bloody reasons do you have for always being pissed?” He took a swig from the bottle and set it down on the credenza.
The spirit of the late Wesley Windom-Pryce in the mirror sobered somewhat,
“…looks like you’re well on your way to joining me…”
This section is actually a last minute addition, I needed something to break up the Spike/Buffy retrieving the rental car sections so they wouldn't get boring and thought, hey, we haven't heard from Giles since prolog two.
I had planned all along to re-introduce Wesley as an active part of the Slayer world, while still keeping him conveniently dead, in this story and this seemed like as good a spot as any to do so.