There were few things that evoked the World Before for Doyle as strongly as this -- standing in front of a group of youngsters, conducting a lesson and watching the light of understanding dawn in their eyes when they finally get what he'd been talking about.
Oh things were different than his days in front of his third grade class -- the classroom and the materials were far more makeshift and the ages and species of his students were much more varied -- but the important bits remained the same. The kids, the learning, the teaching.
He'd never wanted to be anything but a teacher and he treasured the time he could squeeze in to be one again. His most fervent hope was to someday be able to go back to it full time and give up all the rest of the responsibilities he'd somehow found himself with, but in the meantime he consoled himself with the time he could steal.
Which was never enough. The responsibilities tracked him down and pulled him away long before he was ready to go.
Case in point, he thought dryly when he noticed Tara hovering in the doorway looking like she urgently needed to talk to him and regretful all at once.
Doyle glanced at the kids who were all busy reading the assignments he'd given them and then made his way to the door where Tara was standing.
"I'm sorry to interrupt," she began apologetically, "but you wanted to know when Angel got back?"
Okay as reasons for interrupting went, that was... refreshingly non-world ending. Good news even -- he'd been expecting Angel back a few days ago and had been starting to get a little worried. "He in my office?"
"I'm assuming that you're here telling me this instead of Xander because you don't quake at the knees at the thought of taking over the class," Doyle observed with a wry grin.
"Xander was busy doing... uh... stuff," Tara replied, her eyes sparkling with good humour.
"Isn't he always now?" Not that he objected to the choice; Tara had a quiet competence that all the children responded to. Xander on the other hand more often acted like he was still on of the kids himself.
So all in all, better he was handing the class off to Tara. "There's a list of their assignments on my desk," he told her. "I shouldn't be too long, but if I am-"
"I'll keep an eye on Siobhan," Tara promised with a smile.
"Thanks," Doyle replied, heartfelt. He glanced over at his daughter and caught the six-year-old sneaking a look back at him wearing a far too old expression of weary resignation. Though she understood -- or at least said she did -- why Doyle got pulled away all the time to deal with things, she never pretended to be happy about it. Hopefully the fact that her Uncle Angel was back will make it easier for her to forgive him this particular ducking out.
For now, he shot her an apologetic smile and left before he could work himself into a real guilt trip.
Well, more of one at least.
But his anticipation at seeing Angel again soon pushed paternal guilt to its usual place lurking in the back of his mind. Angel's trip had been vision induced and Doyle was looking forward to seeing what that particular splitting migraine had led to.
In the past his visions had led to a lot of improbable things that had turned out to be good improbable things and his mind was conjuring up all sorts of ideas for what Angel could have come back with. Given it was a library Doyle had sent him to, books were probably a given, but that still left lots to the imagination.
The possibilities kept Doyle occupied until he made it to his office where he discovered there was one thing Angel could pick up in a library that he hadn't considered: a librarian.
At least that's what Doyle's first impression when he saw the man with Angel unpacking books from a large duffel bag and carefully arranging them on the spare table against the side wall of Doyle's office.
Angel of course looked up the second Doyle entered the room. "There you are," he said with what was, for Angel, a scary amount of bright enthusiasm.
"Here I am," Doyle agreed. "And here you are and," he glanced over at the stranger who had turned to face him as soon as Angel had spoken, "here is... someone else...?"
"Wes," Angel supplied, half reaching out to touch the other man's arm then pulling back. "He was living in the library. Taking care of it, really."
So it seemed that Doyle's first assessment of the man was correct -- he was a librarian. He was also tall, with short, well-kept dark hair, but a few days' worth of stubble. There was a large but fully healed scar on the left side of his throat which bespoke of more than just a quiet past and his blue eyes behind the glasses he wore showed intelligence and a bit of nervousness as he regarded Doyle in return.
"So Angel checked you out along with the books, did he?" Doyle asked and was intrigued to see Wes blush at the inadvertent double entendre. Even more intriguing was Angel's reaction.
Maybe there was a reason to be tossing out double entendres.
"Something like that," Wes replied in a voice with a hint of rasp and more than a hint of a British accent.
"Actually he held me at gunpoint and threatened to shoot me with magic bullets," Angel put in.
"They weren't magic," Wes immediately protested. "Just... customised to be more effective against various forms of demons."
Doyle grinned. "But you held him at gunpoint."
"Yes, well..." Wes looked a bit sheepish. "He was... molesting the books."
Angel looked over at him. "No I wasn't."
"You were. When I walked up you were most definitely fondling Healing Properties of Slime Moulds and Fungi."
Angel frowned. "That was what that book was? Are you sure?"
"Angel, I've spent the last four years living in that library with nothing much to do but explore and memorise its contents. Besides that, I looked at it when you put it back on the shelf." Wes gave the vampire a small smile. "I'm sure."
Doyle watched Angel smile back and became even more convinced that books hadn't been the only things that had been fondled and molested. He'd never seen Angel give anybody quite that look before.
More and more interesting. Doyle was beginning to suspect that his vision hadn't sent Angel to the Los Angeles library to find books.
Which meant that Wes was meant to be here as much as they were meant to find this place in the first place. He wondered if it was just to put that smile on Angel's face or if there was some other, deeper reason Wes had been led to them.
He looked forward to finding out.
Grinning at the man, Doyle held out a hand to him. "Welcome to Unity, Wes. I think we've been expecting you."
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