Baubles and Books
disclaimer et. al in chapter oneBaubles and Books
Wesley cursed the fact that the elder watcher had declined joining them on this scouting mission. He only had a passing knowledge of the demon language, burned into the crypts walls, Giles was far better at ancient Erscutan.
"Wes what's the what," asked Xander barely holding back a yawn. They'd been progressing deeper and deeper into the crypt with no obstruction. All in all the day had been ridiculously boring. A waste of a good Saturday. Not that he was complaining. Much "Are we in for an apocalypse or is this a case of snipe hunting?"
Wesley frowned trying to puzzle out the language. "If you would find something other than pestering me to do, I might determine if that's the case."
"Fine," muttered Xander. "I can take a hint. I'll just take Kendra and scout out the area."
Wesley snorted. "You mean find a dark corner and make out."
Xander tried for innocent but gave up when the grin wouldn't be buried. "We'll be in the next room."
Wesley made a shooing motion at him. Xander saluted and headed off to find his girlfriend.
Wesley gave a sigh of relief. While he usually appreciated his slayer's boyfriend's help on patrol, dealing with Xander often took a patience he sometimes lacked. Though he was getting better at. When they'd first arrived in Sunnydale he'd been shocked to find the previous watcher not only still there but working with a civilian and a vampire to keep the demon population under control until the new slayer arrived. It hadn't taken him long to realize refusing their help would have been foolish. He wanted all the help he could get keeping Kendra alive. Mr. Zabuto had done most of his training, and when he'd entrusted Kendra to him he'd promised to do his best for the girl.
Shaking himself from thoughts of the past, Wesley gave up on the wall and bent to examine the altar. Here at least the passages were shorter. He knew one was a general warning. The other.... He frowned, re-reading the words. It wasn't possible. The existence of the books was just a rumor. There was no way that the Book of the Dead was here in Sunnydale, California. He reached out carefully tracing the inscription. It really wasn't possible so reading the inscription couldn't actually do any real harm. Besides if he was careful, and kept his magic reigned it'd be like taking a peek. He wouldn't actually crack the seals.
Muttering the demon tongue he lightened the seals, and froze. The book of the Dead! There was no way he could leave this here. With an almost silent whisper he finished the incantation. The altar slid open revealing a pool of inky blackness, just as Kendra and Xander came skidding into the room.
Kendra hurried to her watcher's side, peering down at the tar like substance. "Is dat what we're looking for?"
"Doesn't look that impressive," said Xander.
Wesley didn't hear a word. Instead he was reaching tentatively for the ancient text that floated on the surface of the darkness. He hesitated for just an instant, then snatched it up.
Kendra tipped her head to the side. "I tink I remember seeing a notation in one of Mr. Giles books with a picture like dis next to it."
"Joy. Research," grumbled Xander, glancing down at his watch. He'd been hoping they'd get done early tonight. Well at least... "It'll make the G-man's day."
"Quite," muttered Wesley distractedly as he unconsciously pried at the books edges. Giving a disgusted sigh, he gave up when it refused to budge. "I believe we should leave before some enterprising soul decides to see what we're up to."
Kendra nodded moving to take the lead. Xander dropped back to cover their retreat and they began their winding passage up to the surface. Halfway there Wesley came to an abrupt halt. "Is it just me or does this place look different?"
Xander heaved a relieved sigh. "Glad to know it's not just me! It's like the walls rearranged themselves."
"And did you notice the artifacts," pointed out Kendra. "It's like the place is trying to tempt us."
Wesley snorted. "As if anyone would be foolish enough to touch anything," he said.
"Well, except for you. You've already taken a book," Xander helpfully reminded him.
Wesley refused to roll his eyes. He was not a teenager. "Yes. Except for me."
Kendra stared around the rooms growing more disturbed. She stiffened feeling a slight tremble beneath her feet. "I think somet'ing has decided to object to dat."
Xander cursed as the wall closest to him shot forward. "Let's move, people. I did not sign on for Indian Jones crap."
Kendra started forward again followed by the others.
Wesley kept pace with his slayer just barely. He was beginning to rethink his unpleasant thoughts about Giles insisting on his training with Xander. He was pretty sure he'd have passed out if he'd tried this when they'd first arrived in Sunnydale. As he dodged another bit of falling ceiling he cursed his curiosity, if he'd had any sense he'd be safely tucked away in the library with Giles. Up ahead a bright light glittered catching his eye and he slowed trying to see it's source. Unaware of his actions he came to a halt, drawn to the object. He moved toward it, just avoiding the growing cracks in the floor. If he could just get close enough... he clasped one crumbling wall and leaned across a growing chasm. He nearly had it... a little bit further.... His fingers brushed the chain.
"What the hell are you doing," cried Xander as he came back around the corner. It had taken him a second to realize Wesley hadn't kept up with him and Kendra.
"I just need to," muttered Wesley stretching out his full length.
"Are you insane," snapped Xander reaching for Wesley. "It's not worth your life."
The pendant glittered in the shadows. "Yes! Yes, it is." Wesley strained toward it. He almost had it. He leaned further snagging it.
Just as he started to fall a callused hand locked around his wrist and Xander dragged him back.
"Ken, do you see the exit," called Xander. "Watcher here seems to be distracted by the shinies."
"Just a few feet, Xander," called Kendra, from where she was trying to prop open the collapsing door.
Xander headed toward her voice, dragging Wesley behind him as he sped toward Kendra's voice.
Seconds later he'd barreled past his girlfriend, Wesley in tow.
With a resounding crash the temple crumpled into the ground behind him.
Wesley blinked in the bright sunlight. Then stared down at the gold and jewel encrusted pendant in his hand. For a minute he'd seen nothing but dollar signs. He gave a shake clearing his head then nearly choked as reality hit him. "What the hell did you let me do that for?!" he bellowed suddenly.
Xander snorted. "Let! You're the one who decided it was worth your life."
"Are you insane? It's a bauble, no matter it's worth as a priceless artifact," muttered Wesley. "It's not worth my life."
Xander rolled his eyes, and tugged Kendra to her feet. "Next time you might want to remember that."
"Priceless artifact or not," began Wesley as he stared down at it. It gleamed even brighter in the daylight. "Do you know how much I could get for this on the black market," he said suddenly. Eyes lighting with a heretofore hidden avarice.
"Thought you said it was priceless," Xander pointed out.
"Yes. Yes," muttered Wesley. "Belongs in museum." He walked off mumbling to himself. A bemused Xander and Kendra trailing him.