Author: companionenvy PM
After "Not Fade Away," Connor and Spike try to solve a mystery in L.A. Post-series; not comic compliant.Rated: Fiction T - English - Adventure - Connor & Spike - Chapters: 5 - Words: 7,754 - Reviews: 13 - Favs: 5 - Follows: 3 - Updated: 12-10-12 - Published: 12-05-12 - Status: Complete - id: 8769146
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Disclaimer: Angel is owned by Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy.
Knowing, Connor had learned, was not the same as remembering. He could track, and hunt, and if Stanford ever started giving degrees in the flora and fauna of hell dimensions, he'd be set for life. He could tell anyone who still cared to know what Holtz's favorite book of the Bible had been (Daniel; Holtz hadn't been as big on fire and brimstone as one might have assumed), and what Cordelia Chase looked like without makeup or a hairbrush, just after getting out of bed. When he pulled up the record of her death, he was even sorry, but it was a distant sorrow, that pain, deeper than pity and gentler than grief, that he had felt couple of years ago when he had happened upon the obituary of a second grade teacher he had liked, long ago. And when he thought of Holtz, it was with nothing more complicated than the horror at what someone raised in California in the 1990s could only call abuse. Holtz, Connor suspected, would have called it love, of a sort, but that wasn't a word the 18th century zealot had used often, at least not in that way, and nothing in Connor Reilly's experience had prepared him to accept something so compromised and ambivalent as part of its definition.
On that last day, Angel had told him that the Reillys really were his parents in every meaningful way; Wolfram & Hart actually was that good, and the spell hadn't merely written over memories, but altered reality to accomodate his existence. The choices he remembered making as a child were still his choices; he had been given a new start, not a guarantee. Angel had said it to be kind, but there was also some part of him, Connor thought, that hoped that he needed the reassurance, that he would argue or raise doubts, insist that, on some fundamental level, the Reillys and 18 happy years were nothing but a lie that Connor had needed for a time and had now outgrown. Connor, however, hadn't been lying when he said that his life and his family were still real to him. The metaphysics of his existence didn't mean much compared to a lifetime of birthdays and first days of school and family game nights.
No, it wasn't the last 18 years that bothered him at all. It was the thought of the next. He knew what both of his fathers would tell him: finish college, become a doctor or lawyer - well maybe not a lawyer, in Angel's case - or any number of useful and worthy and utterly ordinary things. In a way, it was what Connor wanted as well. But if the knowledge he had gained when the spell broke, whatever its limits, couldn't be so easily denied, and when Connor thought now of the life he had been planning, it seemed like a betrayal, of whom he couldn't quite have said. In his more optimistic or, perhaps, more self-delusive moments, he told himself it was simple altruism; a lot of people could be good doctors, but very few had Connor's particular skill set, and he was obligated to use them for something. At other times, he thought it was just arrogance; the sense that his desiny couldn't possibly be onfined to a single battle he had won without conscious thought or effort.
In any case, it was a moot point. Connor had tried patrolling the streets, stake in hand, after dark, but Palo Alto was a quiet town, apparently no more liable to demonic than to human troubles. Becoming a superhero was not, Connor was learning, something one simply signed up for one day. Even if he moved to the city, he wouldn't know where to start: lone vigilante was hardly a career choice, and Wolfram & Hart was decidedly not hiring. So the stake went back in the top desk drawer, and Connor to his books.
Which was why, by the time it happened, he was totally and completely unprepared. The knock came late, too late for any responsible and newly solitary adult (Connor had moved off campus to his own apartment that year) to answer. Connor's response was instinctive, however; back in the dorms, a suitemate coming home keyless in th early morning hours was a common enough occurence.
What was a less common occurence was opening the door to an older, bleach-blond stranger holding a near empty bottle of Jack Daniels, staring at Connor with far too much focus for someone as drunk as Connor supposed he was.
"Hello pup," said the man, who spoke with an English accent. "What, no invite for your old nephew?"
Connor looked at the man again. A memory - a real one, this time - flashed before him: the blue-haired woman who was and was not Fred, fighting with the man in front of him.
"You worked for Angel," said Connor.
"I worked with Angel," said the man, "when the bloody ponce could bring himself to let me. But yeah, we were close. Thick as thieves." He took a swig from the bottle. "Well, as thick as people who thieved now and then after the massacre was done. That good enough for the invite?"
The penny dropped. "You're a vampire?"
The man waved. "Hello."
Connor stared. The man - vampire - had called him his nephew. "Angel sired you?"
"Grandsired, but close enough. Name's Spike."
"And I should be inviting you in why, exactly?"
"Because if I wanted you dead, I wouldn't need to step over the welcome mat to do it." Spike's tone had taken on a harder edge but not, Connor thought, a threatening one. He continued, "Besides, I've got a soul."
"Angel's the only vampire with a soul."
"And now I am. Funny, how that works."
Connor hesitated. Spike was definitely drunk and probably lying, but apparently, Angel had trusted him at least enough to let him in the door, and, after all, potential assassains didn't generally take the time to knock, or so he assumed.
"Come in, then."
Spike entered, taking in the bare room. Most of Connor's things were still in boxes in the closet. It had been four months, but somehow, he hadn't found the time.
"Love what you've done with the place," said Spike.
Connor moved toward the desk, hand on the top drawer, but he didn't go for the stake.
"If you've finished criticizing my decorating, maybe you can tell me what happened to Angel. You said you're the only one left. So he's...?"
"Fear in a handful of dust," said Spike. He waited for a response. "I'm sorry," he offered when Connor didn't answer
"No, it's okay, " began Connor, and then trailed off, because he wasn't sure if it was really okay or not. "He told me he wasn't coming back."
"None of us were," said Spike. "And yet here I am."
Connor didn't ask how Spike had survived. It didn't matter. Instead, he asked, "What are you doing here, Spike?"
Spike took a newspaper clipping from his pocket and handed it to Connor. "Read it and weep."
It was an article about mysterious disappearances - literal disappearances, as in, people vanishing right before the eyes of astonished passersby who, apparently, could think of no better response than to call The L.A Scoop.
"Spike," said Connor carefully, "This is a tabloid." He continued scanning the article. "I mean, their working theory is alien abduction."
"Well that's just stupid," said Spike. "There's no such thing."
"Then why -"
"Because I saw one," Spike interrupted. "Downtown L.A, last week. Seedy looking bloke, crossing the street, just vanishes."
Connor looked at the bottle, which was completely empty now. ""Were you by any chance drunk at the time?"
"M'not drunk now." Spike paused. "Well, maybe a little, which is really impressive for a vampire. But I saw what I saw. And this was no ghost. Looked solid, and smelled human. Living human," he clarified. "Right until he went poof."
It was absurd, of course, but not more absurd than Spike's existence, or Connor's, for that matter.
"Why did you come to me?"
"Family reunion?" tried Spike, but Connor wasn't buying it. "Okay, so it turns out I'm useless for work like this. Give me a mugger in an alley, I'm your vamp. but unless someone works some mojo to tell me who to hit or gives me the keys to an evil law firm with more resources than a mid-sized country, I'm not much good."
"And you think I am."
"Dunno," said Spike. He pulled out a keychain and dangled it - rather obnoxiously - in Connor's face. "Want to find out?"
Connor hesitated. He had class tomorrow, and this was stupid. As stupid, maybe, as welcoming in a tipsy vampire at 3 AM just because he asked reasonably nicely. His parents - all of them - would tell him to close the door in Spike's face and never look back. But Connor was tired of wondering about what his life could have been, once upon a prophecy. And, he thought, looking around the nearly empty room, school aside, there wasn't much keeping him here.
"Okay," he said, "but I'm driving."
Spike tossed him the keys. "Let's just hope you get your brains from Darla," he said, and Connor followed him out into the night.