Giles laid his head in his arms and laughed, waving the last bit of the report at Spike as his body shook. "Oh, dear. I haven't read anything this funny in years."
Spike snatched the page away, snickering. "She should have been a writer. Fiction this stupid would sell like hotcakes."
Giles straightened, spotting Wesley lounging in the doorway and giving Spike and he an amused look. "I take it that would be the report Miss Souther filed?"
"Wes, you have to read this," Spike said without glancing behind him, holding the first five pages over his shoulder for Wesley to grab. "She says that the girls were terrified. She underlined it!"
Wesley took the papers and Giles grinned as Wes came to sit on the desk beside him.
"I told Sarah and the others about the meeting we're having with Souther today and asked them to write up a report of their own. It's, uh, much more realistic. Hell, it's much more clear." Giles sighed, the humor suddenly draining away. Souther was a problem and as funny as her sense of reality might be, it was also dangerous.
Spike's laughter trailed off and Wesley glanced a question at him, both apparently sensing the shift in his mood. It was a bit creepy actually. Not that Wesley could do it, but that Spike could. He wondered if it had to do with their heightened senses and some kind of familiarity. Mentally making a not to ask Wesley later, Giles straightened.
"We have to do something about her," he said softly. "About all of them." Six Watchers might not have seemed like much. In fact, in Travers' day it wouldn't have been. Then, with a firm power base and enough Watchers to more than do what was needed, they could have afforded to keep them on, give them a quiet desk job somewhere. Now there were too few for such things and so many slayers who needed guidance, guidance they weren't getting from McGinny, Souther, and their ilk.
Seventeen slayers. Six watchers. Giles shook his head.
"We will," Wesley said softly, his hand reaching out to brush along Giles' shoulder. "We'll find a way to get the girls what they need."
"The auditing's a good idea," Spike put in, leaning back in his chair and propping his boots up on Giles' desk. The action drew a glare from both Wesley and Giles, but Spike pretended not to see. "My girls go out tomorrow and I'll keep a good eye on 'em. Illyria's got a group going out tonight."
"I know, but simply rearranging the groups isn't enough. Most of the auditing reports are straightforward. The younger watchers are, cooperative with the auditing, even eager to learn. There are a few who are resistant, sure they know exactly what they're doing and I've got a few ideas for dealing with them." Giles grinned at Spike. "You'll like those ideas, which we'll discuss soon, but it's these six that are the problem. And they're trying to spread their opinions. Already two watchers, young, have come to me and expressed . . . fears. I talked them down, but . . ." Giles shrugged, reaching up to cover Wesley's hand with his own. "What about your lot? Have any of them come to you with worries about Spike or Illyria?"
Wesley sighed, shaking his head. Even those watchers assigned to the translation and research departments had slayers to look after. There simply weren't any watchers to spare for devoted studies, even now that they had an apocalypse looming and were in desperate need of information.
"No, but I . . . think that might because they don’t trust me. Or, at least don't trust me to be objective. Which, of course, I'm not." Wesley snorted, tossing Souther's report onto the desk. "Rupert, we'll find away. In fact . . . I've been meaning to speak to you about Andrew. He's been coming along well in his studies, yes?"
"Quite," Giles said with a shrug, then he caught where Wesley's mind was headed. "I see. Well, I'm not certain he's ready for fieldwork, but . . . with more experienced Slayers, if he were willing to learn, perhaps even be corrected . . . it could work. Anything is better than . . ." Giles motioned at Souther's report.
"And . . . What about Spike and Angel?" Wesley glanced toward the vampire who took his boots off the desk and straightened. "They're auditing because they know what to do in the field. They both have far more experience than most of the watchers already out there."
"Me? A Watcher?" Spike snickered and then shrugged. "I'm willing to fight the nasties. I'm willing to watch out for the girls and train 'em, but the day you call me a watcher is the day I'm leaving."
Giles and Wesley shared a smiled. "What, exactly, do you think a Watcher does?" Wesley asked with a snide tone.
Spike rolled his eyes, sighing. "I ain't takin' orders from nobody. I'll help you guys out, but I'm not your damn subordinate."
Giles cleared his throat. "Of course not, Spike. But, if this is the only way to get these . . . people out of the way, would you be willing to serve as a temporary Watcher?"
Spike grumbled, flashing him a look that was meant to be defiant and came off rather pouting. "Yeah. Anything to get that lot away from the girls. They're gonna get 'em killed."
"Thank you," Giles said sincerely.
"Yeah, yeah. Can I be here when you tell off that Souther woman?"
"I'm not exactly going to tell her off. We haven't decided on anything yet and I won't leave the slayer's in her care without a Watcher. So, until we know who will take her place, all of McGinny's people's places . . . though I do plan to yell, quite a lot and no, you can't." Giles picked up the last of the three reports on his desk and handed it to Wesley. "It's Angel's say in the matter. He makes it clear that the girls were organized, efficient and resourceful. It turns out that Kelly did strike Souther, knocked her unconscious to get her out of the way so that Kelly could get to the vampire she was trying to take out."
"The woman's a menace," Wesley muttered as he read over Angel's succinct write-up. "Unfortunately, she reminds me just a little too much of myself," he sighed, handing the report back to Giles.
"No, Wesley. You weren't anything like her. Inexperienced and out of touch with reality are two very different conditions." Giles shook his head.
"Different conditions which occasionally share symptoms," Wesley countered. Giles and he looked at one another for a moment, both knowing the other wouldn't back away from their own opinions of things.
"Well, I'll have occasion to tell her something similar in a few hours, but enough about that for now." Giles smiled at Wesley. "Willow will be arriving tonight." He wasn't sure how Wes would take the news. Willow was, after all, coming to take a magical 'look' at him, to see what she could find about his new condition. So far, all the medical reports could tell him was the effect, the difference in Wesley's blood that they couldn't quite quantify, his boosted immune system. They could tell what, but not why.
"Good," Wesley said with a slight nod and a thoughtful look. Wanting to take his mind off of it for now, Giles went on.
"Also, uh, perhaps Angel would like to be here for the meeting with Souther. I think he should be able to 'defend' himself. Besides, the more exposure Souther and the others have to Angel and Spike the more likely they'll be to begin seeing them as people."
"Well then why can't I be here?" Spike asked with a hopeful look.
"Because Angel has a reason to be here and you do not, other than to scare the wits out of Miss Souther," Wesley said with a snort. "I'll call Angel, see if he'd be willing to come. We can send a van for him?"
"Of course." Giles nodded and stood. "Now, this is supposed to be my lunch hour and I have a date." Giles leaned in to kiss Wesley's cheek. "Shall we?" He held out his arm, ignoring Spike's snicker.
"A little formal for canteen food eaten in the courtyard, aren't you?" Wesley laughed, taking his arm and shooting Spike a glare when the vampire made retching sounds.
"Don't you have some Slayers you should be training," Giles growled. Spike snickered at him and stood. "Sure, yeah. Why don't I just leave you to alone for a little snog before lunch?"
"Very funny, Spike," Wesley said with a sigh.