Title: The Search
Summary: Connor goes searching for Cordelia and finds a lot more then he bargained for. Takes place between Btvs S6 and S7 (Ats S3 and S4) Pairings: Dawn/Connor and B/A
Feedback: Please! kristiallengames.com
Thanks to Ash for beta'ing and assuring me a thousand times that this was okay.
Written for lj user=Cookiedough101's Fluffathon for lj user=wardrobewitch
Dawn loves summer, the sun, the total lack of school and the clothes. She sits in the Espresso Pump across from Janice who is ranting about the injustice of having to go to Idaho to spend the rest of the summer with her grandmother.
"And do you know what they have in Idaho?" Janice says.
Dawn shrugs. "Uhm, potatoes?"
"Exactly! Potatoes and that's it! I bet there aren't even any cute boys in Idaho" Janice says.
"Buffy used to have a boyfriend from Idaho, or maybe it was Iowa, Riley. He was cute, not so smart but you know with looks like that he doesn't really have to be" Dawn says.
"So was it Idaho or Iowa? This makes a difference. I don't think they are anywhere close and the quality of boys definitely differs from region to region" Janice says.
"Uhm-I think it was Iowa really" Dawn says.
Janice sighs dramatically and collapses against the booth. "My life is over. You know this don't you?"
"It's just for the summer, right?" Dawn says.
"Well yeah, but the whole summer I mean you'd die too if you had to spend the entire summer on a farm in Idaho away from civilization" Janice says.
Dawn shrugs. She knows a few things about dying, really dying. Her sister has done it twice. Her mother died last year. She almost died herself but she doesn't tell Janice any of this. It's times like this that Dawn feels older then her fifteen, almost sixteen, years.
"Oooo look at the hottie that just walked in the door" Janice says leaning forward and resting her elbows on the table.
Dawn glances behind her. She catches sight of the skinny guy standing near the doorway like he's not sure what he's supposed to do. She starts to shrug and make a comment about the guy not being that hot, then he looks at her and the blue of his eyes makes her withhold her comment. He's got some really incredible really intense eyes.
"Look at him totally scamming on you" Janice says jerking Dawn's attention away from the guy with the eyes.
"What? Oh that. He probably felt me looking at him" Dawn says.
"Don't be dense, people can't feel you looking at them" Janice says.
Hunters can, predators can and sometimes people who are really used to be prey can Dawn thinks but she doesn't say it. That knowledge is part of the secret life that she doesn't tell her friends about. It also includes the knowledge that her sister came back from Heaven after being dead for 3 months. Dawn knows you don't tell people these things. These things would land her in a loony bin. Of course if anyone in Sunnydale cared to do some research, some investigation they would find Buffy's death announcement from year before last in the paper. They'd find out about her funeral. They'd even find the remains of the headstone that Spike shattered after Buffy came back. If Chloe lived here instead of Smallville, she'd be all over it Dawn thinks.
"He's still looking at you!" Janice hisses pulling Dawn out of her thoughts, okay day dreams about Clark Kent.
"Huh?" Dawn says.
"The hottie is still looking at you. You should go talk to him" Janice says.
Dawn catches sight of the guy again standing next to the juke box. He's looking at it almost mystified. She catches him casting a glance back at her. Dawn shrugs and stands up. She's gotten a lot braver this year. She figures if her sister can face demons, vampires and coming back from the dead, a cute boy is pie. She tries her best to saunter coolly over toward the juke box. She trips over her own feet and blushes to the roots of her hair. She glances back at Janice and Janice is waving her on. Dawn rolls her eyes and walks the rest of the way to the jukebox, this time settling for normal walking and leaving the cool, swaying saunter for people who have more experience with it.
"Hey, so you gonna play something or just stare at the songs all day?" Dawn asks.
The boy looks up at her as if he's surprised to see her there. He shrugs after a moment. "Don't know what to play."
"Depends on what you're in the mood for" Dawn says.
The boy shrugs. "I don't know that one sounds good. It's about fighting." The boy points to The Beastie Boys Fight for the right to Party.
"Ohmigosh that's arguably one of the best songs ever. When ever I was younger, my sister used to blare that song through the house. I used to yell at her for it but I actually really liked it" Dawn says.
The boy grins at her and she realizes he's got a nice smile to go along with his really great eyes. He puts money in the juke box and presses the buttons for the song. The Beastie Boys blares out of the juke box with a slightly tinny quality.
Dawn and the guy stand there listening to almost half the song. She is waiting for him to say something. She's not sure what he's waiting for.
"So what's your name?" She finally asks.
"Oh, I'm Connor" he says.
"Nice to meet you, Connor. I'm Dawn. Are you new here? 'Cause Sunnydale is a pretty small town and I've never seen you around" Dawn says.
"Oh, yeah. I'm just passing through, looking for a friend but I don't think she's here" Connor says.
Of course he's got a girlfriend, I mean those eyes and that smile, of course he's got a girlfriend, Dawn thinks but she pastes on her brightest smile. "Who is it? Maybe I can help I've lived here for almost seven years" Technically not true I've only been alive two supernatural key and all.
"Uhm, she doesn't live here anymore but she used to. She lives in LA now but she's missing and I thought maybe she had come back here. Her name is Cordelia Chase" Connor says.
"No way" Dawn says.
Connor looks around the coffee shop and back at Dawn. "Uhm, yes way. You know her?"
"Yeah. She and my sister were friends, ok so enemies, in high school. I haven't seen Cordy around lately though, not that she would come see us because hello not really friends but...anyway haven't seen her. You should talk to my sister and her friends. Maybe they've heard something" Dawn says.
Connor shrugs. "Okay."
"Let me just tell my friend we're leaving" Dawn says and walks over to where Janice is still sitting.
"I'm gonna take him to talk to Buffy. He's looking for someone she used to know" Dawn tells Janice.
"Whoa, Dawn way to work fast" Janice winks at her.
Dawn rolls her eyes and turns back toward Connor.
The walk back to her house isn't a long one. Dawn finds herself babbling most of the way. Connor isn't one to over-share. She's grateful when the house on Revello comes into view.
"This is it. My house. Buffy should be home" she says opening the front door.
"Buffy!" Dawn yells out.
"In the kitchen!" Buffy yells back.
Dawn beckons Connor further into the house. He follows her a couple of steps behind, seeming almost shy now.
"Hey, Buff this is Connor. Connor this is my sister Buffy. He knows Cordelia." Dawn says.
Buffy sits her milk on the counter and sticks out her hand to shake Connor's. He looks at it a moment and then takes her hand. He looks at her through narrowed eyes. Buffy glances at Connor and then at Dawn.
"Always nice to meet friends of Dawn's and well, Cordelia's" Buffy says still watching the way Connor is watching her.
"He says Cordy is missing. No one in LA knows where she is" Dawn says.
Connor sniffs at Buffy and narrows his eyes even further.
Buffy sniffs herself. "Okay do I have BO or something? I promise I showered after I worked out."
"You're not human" Connor says.
Buffy widens her eyes and looks at Dawn. "No, last I check I really am."
Connor sniffs Buffy again. "Not entirely. You're something else" he says.
"And you think you can tell this by sniffing me?" Buffy says giving him a look.
Connor sniffs again and nods.
"Oh God, you're like Angel" Buffy says with an exasperated sigh and then quickly covers "who is a dog we used to have that died."
"My father's name is Angel. He's a vampire" Connor says.
"Okay, whoa. Your what is who?" Buffy grips the edge of the counter with enough force to crack the formica top.
"My father is a vampire with a soul named Angel. He's missing too. Everyone thinks they went off together but Cordelia wouldn't do that" Connor says.
"Okay, Dawn go pack some bags. We're taking a road trip to LA" Buffy says.
"Wait a minute, I came here to find Cordelia. Besides, Angel is gone. There's no reason to go to LA" Connor says.
"Cordelia isn't here" Buffy says.
"How do you know?" Connor asks.
"Sunnydale is a small town. If Queen C came back everyone would know about it and I'm sure she'd have to stop by and gloat over the fact that she works with Angel everyday and I don't. Trust me, it's not something Cordelia would pass up" Buffy says.
Connor crosses his arms over his chest and regards the tiny blond in front of him. "How do you know my father?"
Buffy sighed and sat down on a bar stool. "Never was there a tale of more woe...Angel and I are a long story. I take it since you know about vampires and demons you also know about slayers. I'm the slayer."
Connor rakes her over with his eyes and smirks. "Not much to look at, are you?"
"Says the rack of bones" Buffy retorts.
Connor glares at her and then goes into brood mode.
"Well, it's nice to know the brood is hereditary. So do you want to hear this or would you rather do the whole Me Man me bigger stronger then little girl routine?" Buffy says.
"I want to hear it" he says.
"Once upon a time a slayer fell in love with a vampire and the vampire loved her back just as much. But there was a mean wicked old witch, ie Gypsies, that cursed him so that if he had one moment of pure happiness he lost his soul and tried to suck the world into Hell. Of course the slayer equaled pure happiness to the vampire so he left and apparently did a pretty nice job of putting his own life together in LA. That's the short version" Buffy says.
Connor narrows his eyes and considers what Buffy has told him briefly. "So you are entirely motivated to go to LA to find Angel?"
"I'll look for Cordy too" Buffy says.
Dawn interrupts the stare down Buffy and Connor have in progress by clattering down the stairs with two bags over her shoulders.
"Please tell me you packed me good stuff" Buffy says taking her bag.
"Dawn" Buffy warns.
"Alright, I packed you good stuff 'cause I figured if I got tired of what I packed I could go through your bag" Dawn says.
Buffy smirks at her and toss her bag over her shoulder. She glances back at Connor. "You coming Bony boy?"
"Don't call me that" Connor snarls.
Buffy notices that Dawn sis in the back seat with Connor but she doesn't say anything about it. Dawn is fifteen and at least Connor is human, or not a vampire. In any case it is an improvement on Dawn's last choice of boyfriends. Besides, he's Angel's son, a fact Buffy is still trying to wrap her brain around, how bad could he be? Don't answer that.
"So, Connor, if Angel is your father, who's your mother?" Buffy asks.
"Another vampire named Darla" Connor answers.
"Okay, wait. That's not possible" Buffy says.
Connor shrugs. "Holtz says it was prophesized."
"The man who raised me, the man Angel killed" Connor says.
"There's really not a chance in Hell that I'm going to understand this story at all is there?" Buffy says looking at Connor through the rear view mirror.
Connor shrugs, not inclined to answer.
"The tendancy to avoid over sharing, hereditary. Look if I'm going to help you find Cordelia I need to know some of these things" Buffy says.
"I only know what Holtz told me. I'm the child of two vampires, Darla and Angel" Connor says.
"I talked to Darla a few years ago. She never mentioned a son and it's kind of something she would have used to taunt me with. Darla can't be your mother" Buffy says.
Connor shrugs again. "Angel says she is."
Buffy rubs her temple and shakes her head. "Yup not a chance I'm going to understand this story. I'd really like it if Angel were here to answer some questions."
"I'm looking for Cordelia. Angel can take care of himself" Connor says.
"And I told you I'd help you look for Cordy, but I'm going to look for Angel while I'm at it" Buffy says.
"It's-she's got Angel brain" Dawn says making an excuse to Connor.
"I do not have Angel brain! I'm just worried. It's not like Angel to disappear without saying thing to hello his son" Buffy protests.
Connor shrugs again and stares out the window of the jeep.
Buffy pulls the jeep up outside the Hyperion Hotel. Dawn and Connor pile out. Buffy looks up at the hotel.
"Angel always did find cool places to live" Buffy says.
The trio ambles into the courtyard and Buffy pushes open the door to the old hotel. She pokes her head inside and yells "Hello."
After a moment a tiny brunette and a black man come down the stairs. Connor pushes past Buffy and jerks his chin toward the couple.
"Fred, Gunn this is Buffy and Dawn" Connor says and starts off upstairs. Dawn begins to follow him.
"Wait a minute, your Buffy? As in back from the dead, love of a certain vampire's unlife Buffy?" the man Connor called Gunn says.
"So nice so infamous" Buffy says.
Connor stops and looks down at them. "You two know her?"
"Know of her" Gunn says.
"Yeah I remember when you died and then when you were alive again, Angel was kind of off for a while there. I don't think he handled it very well" Fred says.
"The man went to a monastery for three months, I'd say that more then covers the not handling it well thing" Gunn says.
"Wait, monastery, has anyone checked there to see if maybe he went back?" Buffy asks.
"Yes and no he didn't. He wouldn't be welcomed anyway. They turned out to be demons and he killed most of them" Gunn says.
Buffy grins. "Nice to know the way Angel deals with his emotions hasn't changed."
"That what you're here for? Find Angel?" Gunn asks.
"And Cordelia. Connor came to Sunnydale looking for her" Buffy says.
"You know, I've gone over all this junk they have on the missing. I'll be up in my room playing Gamecube if anyone actually has new information." Connor says. He turns to Dawn and grabs her wrist, pulling her up the stairs with him.
"You are so cheating!" Dawn screeches playfully.
"Am not, can't help it if I'm naturally better at this then you" Connor says.
Dawn squeals and drops her controller. She leaps across the bed and lands on Connor tickling him. He laughs and tries to draw up into a ball. Dawn wedges her body underneath him and between his legs so he can't. She giggles as he starts tickling back. He grabs her wrists and holds them over her head giving him access to her most ticklish spots.
"Hey! No fair using supernatural strength" Dawn manages to gasp between giggles. She wiggles, trying to get out from underneath him.
Connor stops abruptly and eases his hold on Dawn but doesn't let her go. She catches her breath and finds herself looking up into those incredible blue eyes of his, blue eyes that are actually sparkling with laughter. The grin that graces his lips drops and he suddenly looks entirely too serious and soft. He dips his head, leaning in close enough to brush his lips over hers.
"Hey-oh, sorry" Fred barges into the room. She blushes bright red.
Connor releases Dawn's wrist and stands up with supernatural speed. He glares at Fred intensely.
"Uhm, Buffy is going to visit the Three Fates and she wanted to let ya'll know that you could come if you wanted" Fred says.
"Why is she going there?" Connor asks.
"She thinks maybe they can cast some sort of locator spell that will help find Cordy and Angel. I don't know why we didn't think of going there before. I mean their witches, really powerful witches but it just never occurred to me or Gunn" Fred says.
Connor snorts. "Magic."
Dawn shrugs. She has much the same opinion these days after Willow tried to destroy the world with her magic.
"Kay, so that's a no?" Fred asks.
"She can go on a wild goose chase running after ghosts of made up lies if she wants. I'm not going to have anything to do with magic" Connor says.
"I'm staying here with him" Dawn pipes up.
"I thought so. Kay well Gunn and I will probably go to you know show her how to get there and stuff. You two will be okay here?" Fred says.
"I lived in Quor-toth for seventeen years. I think I can handle a few hours without a baby sitter" Connor says sullenly.
"Kay then" Fred says backing out of the room. She shuts the door behind her.
Connor slouches down on the bed. Dawn scoots over giving him more room.
"They think they have to follow me around and take care of me every since my father disappeared. They pity me" Connor says.
Dawn wrinkles her nose. "I spent a whole summer with the pity. It's not fun."
"What'd they have to pity you for?" Connor asks.
"My mom died, my sister died, a hell goddess tried to destroy the world because I'm a mystical key who only got turned human two years ago" Dawn says nonchalantly.
Connor quirks an eyebrow at her. "Wow and I thought my life was weird."
Dawn grins at him. "I'm from Sunnydale, you've got nothing on me weird wise."
"Oh yeah? What's the weirdest thing you've ever done?"
Dawn bit her bottom lip and thought about it a moment. "I ate some gum from under the table once because someone dared me."
"Okay that's just gross. I said weird" Connor says.
Dawn thinks about it a little more. "Whenever Buffy was dead, we had this thing called a Buffy Bot. It was robot that looked and talked and acted just like Buffy, for the most part. She was really real. No one outside of the Scoobies even knew she was a robot. They all thought she was my sister. At night sometimes I'd go in the Buffy bot's room and curl up next to her." Dawn turns her head away to hide the tears in her eyes.
Connor reaches over and places his fingers under her chin. He turns her head toward his. It seems natural when his lips capture hers. It is an innocent kiss, or it starts out that way. Dawn teases his bottom lip with her tongue and he opens his mouth. She tilts her head sidewise and slips her tongue in his mouth, deepening the kiss. They both pull away moments later panting harshly. Connor leaps off the bed like it is electrified.
"Okay, wow, uhm, wow that was a lot better then most of the kisses I've had. Not that I'm a kiss slut. I just-"Dawn starts.
"That was my first" Connor says bluntly.
"Oh, you were really good at it" Dawn says.
Connor turns and looks at her with narrowed eyes. He sniffs the air around her. "You really think so." It is a statement.
"No I ramble like an idiot all the time, really" Dawn smirks.
Connor nods and then silence lies thick over the room. Dawn twists her hands, unsure of what to do and not wanting to ramble anymore then she already has.
"So, you wanna play Crash Nebula some more?" Connor asks.
"Mmmmm Aaaaannngeeeel" The Three Fates chime.
"Yeah, I got that like the first twelve times and I've gotta say I agree with you but it's not helping Angel any" Buffy says. She grinds her teeth and wills herself not to snap at the witches. They've gone on and on about Angel and the way he "pays" them for fifteen minutes now.
"We don't like you" the fates say.
Buffy arches her eyebrow and crosses her arms over her chest. "Excuse me?"
"You're the reason our Aaaaannngeeeeel gets all broody" the fates pout.
"Excuse me? A hundred fifty years of murder and mayhem wouldn't have anything to do with that?" Buffy says.
"Look ladies, if we don't find Angel you don't get paid for the work you've done for him in the past, ever" Gunn says stepping in front of Buffy.
Buffy bores holes in the back of Gunn's head with her eyes. "Who says Angel is gonna-Ow!" Buffy rubs the arm Fred just slithered over and pinched.
The fates pout and confer with each other in whispered voices. They turn as one and look Buffy up and down.
"We will help you but only because we want Aaaaaannngeeeel back" they say.
"You are aware his name has two syllables, right? An-gel" Buffy says.
"She's just testy. It's PMS" Fred says stepping forward.
The fates regard Buffy carefully and then join hands. They murmur a spell over a map of the world. The air thickens, there is a flash of light and a pinpoint appears over the ocean just off the coast of Los Angeles.
"Okay, girls maybe you put too many syllables in your spell because there's nothing out there. It's water, an ocean, no land" Buffy says.
The fates shrug as one and glare at Buffy. "We do not know why or how but Aaaaaaannngeeeel is there. We do not make mistakes in our spells" they say.
Buffy is beginning to suspect they draw out Angel's name and use it every chance they get just to annoy her. "How is he in the ocean?"
"We do not know" The fates say.
"And Cordelia?" Buffy asks.
"We found no trace of her. She is not in this dimension" the fates say and then turn to leave the room.
Buffy sighs and closes her eyes. They have obviously been dismissed and the only thing Buffy knows doesn't make any sense to her.
Buffy is sitting on the beach in the sand. The sun bursts over her, warming her limbs, kissing her skin with its rays. She smiles and lays back in the sand with her eyes closed. She feels a shadow fall across her. She opens her eyes and looks up.
"Aaaaaannngeeeel" she giggles.
He smirks and sits down in the sand next to her.
"How can you be here?" She asks.
He shrugs. "It's your dream" he says.
She smiles and sits up snuggling herself into his arms. "You're always in the sunlight in my dreams."
"I know" he says.
She closes her eyes again and relaxes bonelessly in his arms. It's been too long since she had a dream like this. "You know, this is what Heaven was missing."
"Buffy, open your eyes" Angel says.
"Don't wanna" she pouts.
"If I open my eyes then something bad is going to happen and you'll go away. I don't like it when you go away" she says.
"Mo Croi, open your eyes. If you find me I won't go away but you have to know what to see" he says.
Buffy obediently opens her eyes. Connor is walking down the beach toward them. Shock ripples through her body and she knows she is waking up. She struggles against it but she can't feel Angel's arms around her anymore and the sun shining on her face is irritating instead of peaceful and warm.
"I love you. Remember I love him too" Angel says.
And then Buffy's eyes fly open. She launches herself from bed and runs down the hall to Connor's room. She throws the door open. Connor is on his feet before she enters the room and if Buffy has any doubts about Connor being the product of two supernatural beings, they are gone the moment she watches the boy move.
Buffy stalks toward him, fury blazing in her eyes. "Where is he?"
Connor narrows his eyes and flicks his gaze over Buffy. He shrugs. "I don't know."
"Okay, you're lying and you have 2.5 seconds to rectify that" Buffy warns.
"And if I don't?" Connor says.
"Then I beat it out of you" Buffy says dropping into an offensive stance.
Connor snorts and smirks at her. The smirk, definitely a quality he inherited from Angel. "You know they called me The Destroyer on Quor- Toth."
"And you know they call me the Slayer. Now that we have all our fancy little titles, tell me where he is" Buffy says.
"I don't know" Connor repeats.
"Okay, last chance because you're his son. I'm the slayer. I get slayer prophecy dreams and then to add to all that Angel and I have this thing. We make guest appearances in each others dreams on occasion. He made one in mine last night. He told me you know something about where he is. Now is there anything you'd like to share with me?" Buffy says.
"I. Don't. Know" Connor repeats.
"They always pick the hard way" Buffy says and launches a flying snap kick toward Connor.
He catches her ankle and twists. She flips in the air and lands in a crouch. She waits a millisecond for him to come toward her and then dodges out of his way, kicking her leg out to catch him behind the knee. He goes down and she whirls intending to land behind him but he's not there. Connor lands an uppercut to Buffy's chin and she curses as she tastes blood. He grins at her and dances out of the way of a right hook.
"Somehow, I thought the slayer would be more of a challenge" Connor taunts.
"I'm just getting warmed up Bony boy" Buffy says.
Buffy launches a roundhouse kick to Connor's abdomen. It lands and he stumbles back with an "oof". Buffy lands in a crouch. She follows the kick with a leg sweep and Connor, already off balance, crashes to the floor. Buffy pounces but Connor rolls. He's on his feet before she is. He gets off a nicely placed kick to the ribs and Buffy curses again. He dances back on the balls of his feet, giving her the chance to get to her feet.
Buffy stands, breath coming in gasps. "You're so gonna pay for that" she says.
"Looks like you're the one bleeding" Connor says.
Buffy moves in a compact, blond blur. Right hook, uppercut, jab, Connor ducks out of the way. Buffy takes a step back. Connor glares at her with murder in his eyes and Buffy is suddenly very aware that he didn't make a dream promise to not kill her. Right now blunt weapons would be good. Connor wipes at his bloody nose and spits blood onto the ground.
"You know you're cleaning that up" Buffy says and dodges nimbly out of the way of a spinning kick. She catches Connor in the back with an elbow. He tucks and rolls to his feet. He catches Buffy in the temple with a roundhouse kick that sends her to the floor. He leaps and crouches over her, bending low to sniff at her. Buffy lies completely still.
"So when it all comes down to it, you're just a little girl" Connor says.
Buffy slams her head back into Connor's. A loud crack resounds through the room and Connor stumbles back. Buffy leaps up and advances toward him.
"A little girl with a very hard head. That twittering you're hearing would be the little cartoon birdies" Buffy says.
Connor drops to his haunches and stays there for a moment. Then he launches himself toward Buffy, a human ball of rage and motion. Buffy jumps to the side to avoid the tackle and feels the sharp sting of a blade slicing into her arm. Blood runs down her upper arm. Buffy takes a deep shaky breath. This not killing your opponent thing is going to take some getting used to.
There is a clatter of footsteps in the hall and Dawn, Fred and Gunn appear in the doorway.
"Buffy! What are you doing?" Dawn shrieks.
Buffy whips her head toward the door. "I'm trying to talk to him" she says and nods her head toward Connor.
"This doesn't look like talking" Fred says.
Buffy's eyes flick between Connor and the group at the door. Connor's eyes never leave Buffy. A knife blade glitters in his hand and murder glints in his eyes. Wordless he moves, one fluid blur of motion toward her. He catches Buffy off guard and they both land on the bed. He digs the tip of the knife into her throat. Buffy brings her knee up hard and it connects with his groin. He gasps and Buffy takes that moment to lever her hands against his shoulders and toss him against the wall. He slumps there.
"Buffy!" Fred yells and tosses something in the air.
Buffy's hand shoots up in the air and grabs a stun gun out of it. "Oooo I just love new toys" she quips and advances toward Connor who's still mewling in the corner. She crouches down in front of him. Connor's eyes flick to the stun gun and something that's not quite fear fills them.
"Okay, I don't want to use this but I will. Let me tell you what I already know and maybe that will make your part easier to tell. He's in the ocean, on the ocean, something the ocean. He told me you knew something. So start talking" Buffy says.
"I wasn't driving the boat. I just helped lock him up" Connor spats at her, splattering her face with bloody spittle.
Buffy wrinkles her nose and curls her lip in disgust. She swipes a hand across her face. Fear curls a tight knot in her stomach. The words lock him up ring in her ears. She takes a deep breath, trying to tell herself he's alive or he wouldn't have met her in her dreams. Panicking isn't going to get him back.
"Gross. Start making with the details or I start conducting research on how much electricity you can take before breaking" Buffy says.
Buffy wrinkles her nose and walks inside the boat rental building. It smells strongly of fish and reminds her of evenings spent down by the docks, evenings when she didn't notice the smell or the way her feet slipped on the docks in something that is sure to be that much more disgusting in the light, evenings she spent with Angel. She pastes on her brightest "Hi I'm a dumb blond, ask me how" smile and walks toward the counter where an old man sits and whittles on a piece of wood.
"Hi, my name is Buffy. I'm hoping you can help me" she says.
The old man lies his whittling aside and stands up. "Well I can try, Sweetheart" he whistles through missing teeth.
"About a month and a half ago a friend of mine, Justine, rented a boat. I'm wondering if I could rent that same boat along with the person who did the driving for her" Buffy says.
"You know, normally I wouldn't remember something like that but there's this English fellow that's been here renting a boat every few nights. He has the young lady you're talking about, Justine with him" the man says.
Buffy's eyes go wide. "English fellow? You wouldn't know his name would you?"
"Course I do. You don't forget a long winded pretentious name like that. Wesley Wyndham Pryce."
"Ow!" Connor hisses.
"Oh don't be a big baby. It's already starting to heal" Dawn says and dabs at the cut on Connor's lip.
"How'd she get so strong?" Connor asks.
Dawn shrugs and sits back viewing her handiwork. "She's the slayer. That's what they are." She considers telling him that it was likely Buffy was going easy on him, since she didn't want to kill him but decides it would hurt his male ego more then it already is.
"Why don't you lie down and get some rest" Dawn suggests.
"Only if you'll lie down with me" Connor says.
Dawn smiles and gladly snuggles up next to him with her head on his shoulder. Connor's arm wraps around her waist possessively. Dawn is dying to ask what happened to Angel, what Connor did to him and why but she has a feeling it will shatter this comfortable feeling between them.
Buffy stands at the bow of the boat. If she turns around she can see Wes at the helm. Justine is there with him. Buffy almost complained at Wes' inhumane treatment of Justine and then she heard the account of what Justine and Connor had done to Angel. Wes' treatment is entirely too humane. If it weren't for his relation to Angel, Buffy would do worse to Conner.
Buffy closes her eyes and concentrates on that tingle feeling that she gets when Angel is around. She's not sure if works when he's a few hundred feet below the ocean or not but they've got her and they've got radar and so far, Wes' radar has been a bust.
At first it's just a ghost of a tingle and then it gets stronger. Buffy's eyes fly open and she opens her mouth to speak.
"I think I've got something" Wes shouts.
Twenty minutes later they are hauling a concrete box up from the ocean. Wes uses a blow torch to break the welds and he slides the bars freeing the lid. Buffy shoves the lid off and it clatters to the deck of the boat. Wes cuts the steel cords holding Angel. Angel's arm shoots up out of the box and grabs Wes by the throat.
"Oh, God, Wes" Buffy helps him pry Angel's fingers from Wes' throat.
Together, Buffy and Wes get Angel downstairs to a large table below deck. They lay him out and Wes gets a bottle of blood from the fridge. Justine watches them with wary eyes from a corner of the room.
Wes holds the bottle to Angel's mouth and Angel starts to gulp. Buffy watches with tears streaming down her face. He's so pale and so weak looking. She wants to curl up beside him, to stay until everything is alright.
"A vampire can go infinitely with out feeding but the damage is sometimes irrepairable to the higher brain functions" Wes says.
"I don't care. I want him back in whatever capacity I can have him" Buffy says wrapping her arms around her body, trying to keep herself from trembling.
Wes nods and tosses the empty bottle in a trashcan. "I'm going to start back to the dock. I'll be down to check on him shortly" Wes says.
Buffy paces in front of the table. Justine watches from where she is handcuffed. Angel coughs and Buffy is at his side immediately.
"So much I did wrong, so much I could have changed. I tried. Wasn't enough, wasn't enough" Angel rambles. His voice is dry and hoarse from lack of use.
Buffy gently runs her fingers along his eyebrow and temple. "Shhhh, it's okay, it'll all be okay" she whispers.
Angel's eyes snap open. He glances around wildly, eyes narrowing and widening. "I have to stop him" he says.
"Angel?" Buffy says.
"I have to stop him. I have to do it" Angel says and starts to sit up.
Buffy pushes gently against his shoulder, pinning him back down to the table. "Shhh, rest. Tell me who and I'll stop him" she whispers.
Wes walks back into the room, glancing at Buffy and Angel. "Careful, Buffy. He might not-he might not be aware of his surroundings" Wes says, unwilling to tell the small blonde slayer that the vampire she loves could be permenantly deranged.
Angel glances up at Wes. "I should have killed you when I had the chance."
Wes pales visably and Justine cackles in corner.
"And me without my camera" Justine says.
Buffy is standing in front of her in the space of a breath. She glares down at the red head and slaps her hard enough to bust her lip. "If I killed humans, you'd be the first one on my list so if I were I'd shut up before I started amending my no killing humans rule."
Justine swallows hard and looks up at the slayer. Her mouth is set in grim determination but she doesn't say anything.
"He's been down there too long. He needs more substantial nourishment then pig's blood" Wes says. He pulls a knife from his pocket and holds it aloft.
Buffy catches his wrist in her hand. "Let me. I saved him once before I can do it again" she says.
"Buffy, we don't know that he has the presence of mind to stop before he drains you" Wes says.
"So what are you going to do? Feed Justine to him and not worry about whether he stops or not?" Buffy asks.
Wes glances at Justine. "Tempting as it is, her blood isn't thick enough. I rather thought I'd feed him."
Buffy shakes her head. "No. I can survive being drained easier then you or Justine and besides if he does drain you, who's going to sail this hunk of metal back to the dock? If I could manage to do it without sinking us, I'd end up in China" Buffy says.
Wes looks from Angel to Buffy and finally nods. "Alright but I want to supervise. If something goes wrong, perhaps I can help." Wes hands the knife to Buffy.
"We won't need that" Buffy says and hands it back to Wes.
"She is not going to do what I think she's going to do" Justine says from her corner.
Buffy whirls on her heel and fixes Justine with a glare. "I think I told you to shut up" she spats.
Buffy sits on the edge of the table and then lies the length of her body down next to Angel. "Angel, listen to me. I'm going to feed you but I want you to be careful. Listen to my heart beat, don't take it all" she whispers.
There is an almost imperciable nod from Angel and Buffy isn't sure if he hears her or not. She places her hands underneath his head and cradles his mouth against the crook of her neck. For a moment she doesn't think he's going to do anything and then she feels his face shift. There is the sharp pain of his fangs piercing her skin, sliding in like a knife through warm butter. There is a tugging deep inside of her and pleasure overtakes the pain.
Connor and Dawn glance up from their place cuddled on the couch when the door to the hotel slams open. Connor tenses and straightens up, shoving Dawn away from him. Buffy and Angel walk through the door. He's being supported in part by her.
"Hello, Son. Gosh it's good to see you again" Angel says. He moves his arm from Buffy's shoulders and takes a tentative step toward Connor. The next step is more sure and then the vampiric speed returns to him and he's in front of Connor, lifting him off the ground by his shirt.
"How was your summer? Mine was great. I spent it by the ocean watching fish swim by and going out of my mind" Angel hisses and drops Connor to the ground.
"No, you can't take me. You're too weak" Connor protests getting to his feet a bit slowly.
"Amazing what the blood of a slayer can do" Angel says.
Connor glances around Angel to where Buffy is standing with her arms crossed over her chest. Dawn stands in the space between Connor and Angel and Buffy. She looks back and forth, her loyalties torn.
Connor's eyes go wide at the side of the already healing bite mark on Buffy's neck. Buffy levels a stare at him that says she will tolerate no comments.
"You deserved worse" Connor spats into Angel's face.
"Because I killed Holtz, but I didn't. I tried to tell that while you were dumping me into the ocean. Holtz had your friend and mine, Justine, kill him with an ice pick, to make it look like I'd done it" Angel says.
Buffy starts to step up beside Angel and Angel holds out a palm to her. She steps back into place, a silent sentry guard.
"You still deserved it. He told me what you did all those years ago. How you murdered his family. You deserved it" Connor says, his voice wavering just a little.
"What I deserve is up for debate. I understand the need to take vengeance. I've done a lot of taking vengeance in my time. I'm rather good at it. So now the question remains, what do you deserve?" Angel says.
"He-"Dawn starts and steps toward Angel.
Buffy grabs Dawn's wrist and pulls her back. "This is Angel's problem to deal with, Dawn, not yours" she says.
Connor starts to dart out the door. Angel grabs him by the back of his neck and throws him against the wall. He stalks over toward Connor and glares down at Connor.
"Daddy wasn't finished talking" Angel hisses. He crouches down next to Connor who is sitting slumped against the wall.
"Wes told me what's been happening here. I haven't yet decided what you deserve but a lot of it does hinge on this one question. What did you do to Cordelia?" Angel says.
"I didn't do anything to Cordy. I went to Sunnydale looking for her. That's why Buffy and Dawn are here" Connor says.
"He's lying" Buffy says.
Angel sniffs at the air. "No, I don't think so" he says.
"I'm telling the truth" Connor says and his voice sounds a bit broken.
"I know. I can tell" Angel says quietly. "Get up" He says standing, offering a hand to Connor.
Connor stands without Angel's aid and glares him.
"What you did to me was unbelievable, Connor. But I've been stuck in worse places," Angel's gaze flicks to Buffy briefly, just long enough to see hurt cross her eyes. His glance apologizes to her.
"Three months under the ocean gave me some perspective. I thought about things, sorted through some things my life, came to some conclusions" Angel says, his eyes holding Buffy's now.
"Nothing in the world is the way it ought to be. It's harsh and it's cruel but that's why there's people like us, champions. It doesn't matter where we've come from or what we've done or what we've been through or even if we've made a difference. We live as though the world is what it should be to show it what it can be. You're not a part of that yet. I hope one day you will be. I love you, Connor. Now get out of my house" Angel says.
"I'm going with him!" Dawn says and jerks away from Buffy. She runs over to Connor who takes her hand.
Buffy starts toward them and Angel stops her with a hand on her shoulder. "Let her go. He'll take care of her" he says.
Connor and Dawn walk out of the hotel without a backward glance.
Angel's knees buckle and Buffy catches him. "Whoa, still a little weak there big guy?" she says.
He grins at her. "Yeah but I had to make good with the bluffing" he says.
"I bet you are a great poker player" she says.
"I used to do alright" he says leaning on her.
"Let's get you up to your room where you can get some rest" Buffy says.
Connor lights the last candle and glances around the hovel. It's the old hotel where Sunny took him when he first came back from Quor-Toth. It might even be the same room for all he knows.
"I'm sorry it's not nicer. I didn't know where else to take you" Connor says.
Dawn sits huddled on the couch. "No, it's okay. The candles are nice" she says trying not to look too hard at the room.
Connor nods. He sits in uncomfortable silence. "So, I'm going to bed. You can come too if you want or you can sit here"
"Kay" Dawn says and sits with her back ramrod straight on the couch. Her hands are knit together between her knees and she chews on her bottom lip.
Connor strips off his clothes and climbs into the bed without a glance toward Dawn.
He is almost asleep when she crawls in the bed and he wonders if she planned it that way. He reaches over and wraps an arm around her waist, tugging her to him. She doesn't struggle. He tucks her up against his body, her clothes preventing her skin from touching his. He starts to growl in protest of her clothing and then the smell of her fear reaches him and he silences. He tucks her up against his body and buries his nose in the nape of her neck, saying with his actions all the things he doesn't have words for.
Buffy lowers Angel onto the bed and then stands awkwardly to the side, unsure of her place here. She doesn't know why no matter how old she gets Angel manages to make her feel like a sixteen year old girl in love for the first and last time in her life.
"So, uhm, I'll go get you some more blood. It's in the fridge downstairs?" She says.
"I'm not hungry. Come sit by me" Angel says and beckons her over.
Buffy sits tentatively on the edge of the bed. Angel's fingers creep over and rest against the back of her hand.
"I guess I've got a lot of explaining to do" Angel says.
"Can I have that with a side of Duh?" Buffy says. She glances up at Angel, still looking extraordinarly pale and haggard. She sighs and brushes her fingers over his temple. "I'm sorry. It can wait until you're feeling better."
"I'm alright, really and you've taken a lot on faith here. You deserve some answers. I suppose the first one you want is in regards to Connor" Angel says.
"Yeah, I'm kind of stuck on the how, what, when type questions right now" Buffy says.
Angel sighs. "It's not pretty. I did some things I wish I hadn't."
"We've all done things we wish we hadn't done, Angel."
Angel nods. "Year before last Wolfram and Hart, the evil law firm, decided their newest game was going to be to torment me and bring out Angelus. They thought the best way to do that would bring back Darla. So they pulled her out of Hell, only she was human. She was bitter about being brought back as a human. I did everything I could to save her and finally convinced her to start with a clean slate. That's when Wolfram and Hart brought in Drusilla to turn her. There were a lot of things that led up to it, besides just that but I ended up in a very dark place, not Angelus dark, depression dark. I didn't see any reason for going on and yet I was so pathaetic I couldn't bring myself to walk out into the sunlight so I tried to lose my soul in Darla."
Buffy gasps and anger turns her eyes in bright, flashing emeralds. "How could you do something like that? All you had to do was call, Angel. I would have been here."
Angel shakes his head. "Buffy, for us its harder then that. Anyway, if you had been here at a time like that I would have succeeded in losing my soul. And you would have had to kill me, again."
"I would have done it, but I wouldn't have survived it. Not this time" Buffy says.
Angel nods. "Anyway, that one hopeless, desperate night produced Connor, who happens to have been prophesied centuries before."
"Okay wait, year before last? He should only be what 2 years old at the most or is the accelerated aging a special thing?" Buffy says.
"That's the reason Wes and I were...uncomfortable, to say the least. There was also a prophecy that says The Father will Kill the Son, in relation to Connor and I. He took Connor as a safe guard to save him and gave him to a man named Holtz. Holtz is a much longer story then I feel up to discussing tonight but long story short he took him to a Hell dimension called Quar-Toth" Angel says.
"And time moves differently in those lovely places so when Connor gets back, he's all grown up, or mostly anyway" Buffy says.
"Exactly" he says.
"That's crappy and you don't even have made up memories like we do with Dawn" Buffy says.
A hurt looks crosses Angel's face and he nods.
"Oh, God. I'm such a ditz. Angel, I'm sorry" Buffy apologizes.
Angel shakes his head. "No, I'd mourn the lack of memories regardless of whether you brought it up or not."
"So Connor is stronger and faster then a normal human, almost slayer strength. It's a little scary" she says.
"I'm guessing you were the reason for the bruises on his face?" Angel asks.
Buffy nods. "I had to get him to tell me something about what he'd done to you. He wasn't real forth coming with the information. If it's any consolation I think he knocked one of my teeth loose."
Angel grumble growls in his chest and Buffy grins. "Are you okay?"
"I'm fine, really. But I was somewhat impressed" Buffy says.
"He's really good. If he'd learn to control his temper he'd be better" Angel says and pride shines in his words.
"Give him time. I think it's a universal teenager thing" Buffy says.
She scoots closer and curls up next to Angel. His arm goes around her and her head nestles on his shoulder. It's amazing to her how easily they fall back into each other.
"How did you find me?" Angel finally asks.
"Oh, that's a nice long story. Let me start by saying Aaaaaaannngeeeeeeel" Buffy says with a grin.
A month later:
Buffy snuggles up next to Angel, her body coming flush with the side of his body as if it was made just for her. She drapes her legs over his with a contented sigh and blinks away unshed tears as John Cusack holds the boombox over his head, "In Your Eyes" blasting out. She sneaks a peek up at Angel and almost snickers. She's pretty sure he's falling asleep. He surprises her by dropping a gentle kiss on the crown of her head. She looks up at him and a smile spreads over her face. Who knew you had to go to an other worldly plane, considered Heaven for some, live a year of Hell all to find a little slice of Heaven on earth.
Buffy takes her eyes off Angel, a feat to be sure, long enough to steal a glance over at the other couch where Connor and Dawn are snuggled up.
Buffy isn't sure how she feels about Connor and Dawn yet but they are both living, in separate rooms, in the hotel again. Dawn seems to have a good effect on Connor and Connor seems to make Dawn a bit less moody, more like the laughing, fun loving teenager she should be. In any case, Buffy has plenty of time to watch over the both of them. She's moved in with Angel and the curse, let's just say Gunn is still busy paying off Angel's debt to the Three Fates.
Requests were: Connor goes to Sunnydale in search of Cordelia between Btvs S6 and S7. He meets Dawn at the Espresso Pump. Restrictions were: No angst, no slash no dancing.