Man! challenge in a can Man!





His First Time

His classmates chattered nervously in soft, excited voices as they approached the house, but Wesley concentrated hard on remaining calm. Or at least, appearing to remain calm, he thought when his heart began to hammer alarmingly as their guide turned the knob. The door opened with a more than satisfying creak, and as they filed into the opulent foyer, Wesley's eyes swept over the whole room, trying to press to memory every detail of what was flickering in the half-light. He breathed in the musky scent, full of walnut oil and incense and age, as if he could carry that away as well. This was to be his first time, and no detail was too mundane to be recorded. He began writing the descriptions in his head: the ornately carved banister his fingers lightly swept over as they climbed what seemed to be an endless set of stairs; the first faint sounds of the piano tinkling on the other side of the huge doubled doors; the burgundy candles, melted wax rolling down their tapered sides like rivulets of blood; the wide-eyed gaze of his fellows when they'd been settled inside and only he had had the courage to step forward, his own striving-for-confident smile not wavering until he gazed into her eyes.

The girl was quite attractive, a bit shabby certainly but that was only to be expected, and when she smiled at him he was struck that she was downright beautiful, a study in light and dark, cascading blue-black curls over pale skin and ice-blue eyes and perfect pearl teeth. He took another step towards her, though his knees were now uncertain that this was indeed the place they wished to be and the direction he wished to go.

He hadn't thought she'd be beautiful.

She asked his name, her voice oddly friendly. He answered without thinking. Their reprimand went unheard as it was concurrent with her leap. Her hands clawed at his jacket. Wesley bit down his scream. He knew she couldn't hurt him, but it was still quite unsettling.

As she was dragged away from him, no longer so lovely with her true face showing, her skin no longer creamy but sallow, her perfect mouth now that of the monster he'd always known her to be, he truly understood how insidious the enemy could be, hiding their evil behind a mask of beauty. He spoke this revelation allowed, and the praise from the Watcher in charge that followed thrilled him so that the rest of the encounter was a blur, except for the innate satisfaction he felt when he was the one chosen to destroy the creature once the lesson was complete. The depiction he composed of her collapse to ash was thorough enough to take several paragraphs.

Afterward he would often flip the pages of his Watcher's Diary back and reread the passages, reveling in the flourishes of detail in his own descriptions. He knew that moment as his triumph, the point at which he truly became a Watcher, one of the elite. He continued to think his first time a rousing success until a few years later when he was sent to Sunnydale and found himself utterly unprepared. Then he saw the experience for what it truly was: a visit to the zoo, or a peep show; a cheap imitation of the real thing, no better than walking through a spook house without screaming. The memories he had tried so hard to preserve now shamed him.

Giles said nothing when, a few days after the Balthazar incident, he found his replacement quietly excising pages from his Watcher's Diary, even though it pained him not to warn the younger man to take care with the razor bade lest he bleed all over his library. He knew Wesley was still shaken up, and Giles could sympathize.

You never forget your first time.

Wesley. Candles. Giddy.

Man! challenge in a can Man!