PAIN TO KILL Story #3 in the Postcards from the Edge series D.M. Evans Feedback - Spoilers - All of Ats4 and BtVS 7 Disclaimer - You know the routine. I don't own them. Joss does Summary - After the First Evil is beaten Faith, Connor and Angel take a road trip and Connor learns a few lessons in life. Author's Note - this is the sequel to Save Me. #2 in this series is by S. J. Smith called Wasteland and can be found at: If you skip it then you need to know in this AR Cordy's mind was fractured when they took the demon out of her and Spike sacrificed his life for Angel's.

I got some pain to kill, hurt to heal.

Anything I have to do, I will.

So come on, baby, let's take a ride,

Way on over to the other side,

Of this low down, lonely, no good way to feel.

I got some pain to kill. Pain to Kill - Terri Clark

What a wild, wonderful trip. I wasn't sure what Dad was up to when he asked Faith to take me on vacation with her and even less sure when she asked Angel to come with us. I didn't want to go, not with him. Now I'm glad I did. This was something we needed to do. Things happened on this trip that I could never have even guessed at.

I had felt so raw, so used and beaten that it took all my strength just to drag out of bed in those first days after it was all over: the Beast gone, Angelus recaged, the First Evil defeated, the stuff we did in Sunnydale and what happened with Cordy. I still can't deal with it. If I think about Cordy in particular, I'm sure my heart will burst and I'll die. That's why I thought Dad was insane for wanting me to go away. Why should I do something enjoyable when so much had gone wrong? I didn't understand what he was trying to give to me, this sense of peace, this feeling that things will work out.

It was hard at first. I was afraid at seeing all these new things, like amusement parks. I didn't want to be happy but she wouldn't let me be sad. Faith's lust for excitement turned out to be contagious. I had fun in spite of myself. Hearing Dad scream on that roller coaster really cracked open the armor I had pulled around myself once I had to face the horrible things that Cordy was forced to do by the demon half of her. Hearing him, I couldn't stop laughing. All the sadness boiled out of me like a poison. Dad seemed a little put out about me and Faith caught in our giggling fits over him but in the end he was laughing, too. Faith got it on tape cause Fred gave us this little camcorder. I can't wait to show Gunn.

I hadn't known this world could be so beautiful. I saw more than I could have imagined. Deserts, mountains, rivers, things that whispered to me that I did have a part to play here, that I belonged. I could almost feel my body and soul healing. Much of that healing happened on Harney Peak. I've learned that the Lakota Indians believe it is a holy place. Maybe it is. You could feel the breath of God there. Father would have loved it and it's a shame Dad couldn't have made the climb with me and Faith. At least Faith got it on tape. Of course, she got me bawling like a baby as I stood there on the top of the world. Part of me wanted to make her eat that thing and the other part said let them see I can feel something more than anger.

And maybe it was better that Dad didn't join us, given what we did out there in the woods. I hadn't planned on that. Even after Faith stripped to sunbathe, I wasn't expecting her to kiss me. Then we made love and I don't know why I did it. It felt right. I felt like I belonged in her arms. Both of us, so strong and yet so gentle with each other, like the soft touches were more important than the actual act. Pieces of broken hearts got glued and barb wired back together out there under the pines. I knew that I wanted to do it again. I'd even take the awkward parts of it, too, like her trying to explain to me what a condom was. What did I know? Father never discussed it and I haven't been in this world long. All she had to do was mention it would keep me from becoming a father again. I could go along with that.

Afterwards I thought it should have felt wrong to me. I wasn't in love with Faith. I was taught this is what you do with women you were in love with. But I did feel something for her, a connection altogether different than what I felt for Cordy. Faith and I were cut from the same cloth. We reveled in our strength; Neither of us had a real childhood. We had a violence in us that needed channeling in order for us to do good. Maybe we had something to build a relationship on, even if it was an anguished foundation.

Or maybe it was just going to be sex between us. Oddly, I was okay with that. My body seemed to want sex a lot. It had been embarrassing sleeping next to Cordy before we were lovers. I'd wake up aroused if I was lucky or with a real mess in my pants if I wasn't. I don't know what's wrong with me, why that happens. It happened even before I came to earth. Maybe it was the demon in me. Father used to beat me like it was when it happened on Quor-Toth. I understood. He didn't want me to be sinful.

I'm sinful now, lying with women who aren't my wife. I can't imagine Faith being anyone's wife. I could have married Cordelia. I loved her so much. I think the others thought it was just a teen-aged crush but it wasn't. I would have killed for her and nearly did. Her demon knew that and used me hard.

Oh, God, Cordy. Lying there in the pine forest after loving Faith, I was thinking of Cordelia. Would she hate me for doing this? Was I horrible for making love to Faith so soon after Cordy? But the truth is, Cordelia doesn't know me. She wouldn't care anymore. I remember Willow's spell. I saw Cordy break like glass. The look in her eyes when her sanity fled haunts my night and I wake up crying. Wesley and Fred are making sure she's okay. Xander and Willow will be there for her because I can't. I'm not ready. I still love her but I'm a stranger to her.

She doesn't remember me. She doesn't remember our baby. Of course, it wasn't mine but I didn't know that then. If I had know she was carrying a demonic child I'd probably be the one in a mental home after trying to carve it out of her. But at the time I thought it was mine. I was so scared. I didn't want to be a father and not just because I'm too young. I shouldn't be a father. I'm too much of a freak.

But I was willing to protect my mate and child against all odds and that nearly got us all killed. Maybe one day Cordy will remember me. Maybe we can still be friends even if she doesn't. Or as much of a friend as I can be since she's now like a child, her brain so damaged she's hiding deep within herself. We'll never be in love again. But I'd always hold her in my heart and now I was finding room in it not only for Faith but for Dad, too.

That surprised me. Thinking about Angel as I hiked down the peak with Faith added layers to my guilt and fear. I knew he'd know what we did. He'd smell it. Would he hate me for betraying Cordy? Would he tell me I'm too young? Would he be mad at Faith for seducing me? But he said nothing. That was scary, too, waiting for his wrath. But it never came and on that trip down that Wisconsin river it became clear Dad didn't mind me being with Faith.

He let us have our passion. He seemed a little sad though, even as he gently pushed Faith and me together. I think he was lonely. His curse made it so he'd be alone always. And I know he loved Cordy in some fashion or another. It was obvious he felt something for Buffy. I don't know what happened between him, her and Spike but it had left him bleeding. There was a lot of story I didn't know. Faith told me to leave it be. That Dad would tell me when he was ready. Maybe I don't even need to know.

It was on that trip in the Dells that it first occurred to me, Dad and I were talking without fighting. That we were actually getting along. I was finally feeling comfortable with him. He wanted me to go on another vacation with him someday, to Ireland and it sounded good. We were having so much fun, at least Faith and I were - I think Dad was still really hurting - that I didn't want to go home where pain was waiting for us like a forgotten thing that resented being set aside. I thought we'd hurry home once the decision to turn back was made; that the Dells would be the last of the postcards Dad mailed out but not so.

It was early when we left the river cruise so we hit a club. It was wild. The bartenders spit fire, so cool. I wanted to learn that trick. No one would serve me because I was too young-looking and that was okay. I had had my fill of alcohol, spinning beds, falling down, puking and passing out in South Dakota. But Dad and I had come together back in Hot Springs. We related, not like enemies as we so often were, nor like father and son but as two men in a bar. That night in the Dells was another man-to-man sort of thing.

Faith wanted to dance but I didn't know how. I figured I didn't need to learn in a room filled with people who were good at it. Dad wasn't a dancer either. We sat on the porch part of the bar and talked about nothing important or painful. We spoke of easy things like TV shows I liked and books he enjoyed. I challenged him on my Gameboy and murdered him. After beating him several times, I finally let him win one. He gloated for a while. He told me a little about romancing women and I dared a few questions on that subject. I found I didn't even mind Faith dancing with other men. I wasn't jealous like I had been with Cordy. Maybe I had learned my lesson after the demon part of her used my envy against me and the others. No wonder it was one of the deadly sins.

I had gotten a little jealous when Faith did belt shots off some half naked man the bar hired to put salt on his belly and let women lick it off as they did Tequila shots. Faith promised she'd buy us a bottle of the liquor when we got home and do some shots off of me and let me do likewise. Angel just gave me a warning look and said one word. Hangover. I still might risk it.

We had such a good time that we got a late start the next day so we decided to spend another day in Wisconsin. Dad then suggested we angle our return trip through Utah so I could see it. I knew this was his way of saying he's accepting Holtz's place in my life. I knew what Holtz meant to Dad and the others but he was my father. I loved him and I'm so grateful that I got a chance to see where he wanted me to live. And like I said, it felt like Angel was finally honoring his role in my life. I couldn't tell him then how much it meant to me.

Faith drove from the Dells to southern Wisconsin and stopped at Mazomanie beach. Dad, of course, was curled up on the back seat, hiding under blankets and sun visored windows, complaining we should have gone a little further towards home. But Faith was tired. Armed with blankets, some food and a weird smelling lotion called sun block we headed to the river's beach. It was a nude beach. I'm not shy about being naked but I'm glad this isn't on the video tape.

Faith insisted we were both slathered with that lotion. I enjoyed every moment of working it into her flesh. I took my time lingering over her muscular buttocks and soft breasts. She, in turn, put the lotion on me. I learned there's no unarousing way to put lotion on my todger. It was a little embarrassing but not half as embarrassing as Faith's comment about me being a little scrawny. I'm not. I'm wiry and lean like I'm supposed to be.

We just lay there on the sand warming our bones. I had never taken leisure like this before. It was amazingly good just to relax without having to worry about demons and death. It was a little boring, too, but in a good way. We kissed some, soft and warm and we talked a lot. No one's ever understood me like she did.

Unfortunately Faith had underestimated the type of sun block I had needed. I didn't know that at the time. My skin turned red and painful and I thought I was dying; that being a son of vampires had made me somehow sensitive to light. After all I'm almost never out in the bright sun. Dad and Faith laughed like crazy at that before Faith explained what sunburn was. I wasn't amused. I hurt. They took pictures. At least I heal fast and now I'm a brown shade that Faith likes.

We did make it to Utah eventually. First we saw the mountains. I'll never get used to so much beauty. I wanted to remain rooted near Logan for life but our stay in a resort had to satisfied me. I learned what a hot tub was. Dad needs to buy one for the Hyperion. Faith showed me a few things I hadn't known men and women could do. The things she could do with her mouth and the things she taught me to with mine, heavenly. Faith almost taped that, too, just for us she said. I think that was something that cured me of being, well, sinful. I guess I was a little shy.

Poor Dad, he had to hear that all night. Hell, the whole resort probably heard, like I could give a sluhk. The next day Dad just took a look at the bite marks Faith left on my shoulders, made a comment about me needing to put on a little weight before she broke me and rented us a yurt to spend the next night in alone. The best thing about Faith is I don't have to hold back. She can take my strength and show me hers. We won't hurt each other. The yurt is another matter.

We traveled down eastern Utah, which wasn't as pretty to me. I think Father would have wanted me to live in the mountains. Still we got to see dinosaur bones and walk in their footprints. Dad was impressed with that. More postcards went off like slices of pain and love. Finally we hit Bryce Canyon. Stark beauty, all red rock, harsh, strong and wonderful like the three of us. Dad's car blew out an important part there and we were stuck for days until someone found a replacement. Fred and Wes assured us all was well in L.A. so we didn't rush. We camped in the canyon. It was good that no one was around at night to see me, Dad and Faith climbing the rocks. We didn't look human. No one could have climbed that fast or jumped that far but we reveled in it. At some point during our camp out a strange orange and white cat showed up and took over our site. He boldly demanded food and Faith gave in to him. I practiced with the video camera shooting Dad's pathetic attempts to build a fire. Afterwards I gave him the camera and showed him how we did it on Quor-Toth.

I asked Faith for a little time alone with Dad. She made some excuse about wanting to be one with nature and left us at the campfire. I don't know what possessed me that night but I told him things I never thought I'd say. Things I hadn't even known I really felt but didn't doubt they were true once the words hung in the air. I told him that I was sorry for what I had done to him. He told me I'd regret it that day as I was welding him into the coffin and I didn't, at least not in the way he thought. I just knew how I felt when the demon part of Cordy turned her against us, how betrayed I was. It made me think of how Dad must have felt when I dumped him into the blackness of the ocean.

I told him that I was learning to love him. He had wanted to cry the day we lost Cordelia. I had seen the tears in his eyes but he had kept control then, unlike me. I saw those restrained tears when Spike dusted and he fought with Buffy. But under the stars, in the light of the dancing flames, he wept, holding onto me so tight I thought I'd snap. His tears were icy as they slithered down my flesh. He was so cold and hard to hold onto. How Buffy or Cordy had ever thought to willingly do this, I wouldn't ever understand. But I held him back, crying, too. My father was cold. No heart beats inside his chest and it made me feel suddenly and horrible alone and I couldn't say why. Maybe part of me thought it was wrong to love a creature like this or maybe it was just that I was sad for him, that his soul was trapped in a demonic prison. It didn't matter. We both wept until we were exhausted. Faith came back towards dawn and said nothing as Angel got under his day shelter.

Finally the car got fixed and we headed for home straight away. The pushy cat came with us, meowing until we carried him out of the park he wasn't supposed to be in, in the first place. We got him a litter box and dry food and named him Pushy. He spent most of the trip sleeping on Dad's head when Angel was trapped under the covers.

During a long stretch of desert, Faith taught me to drive. Dad woke up during this and I thought he was going to self-combust. Faith howled as he kept shouting threats and making promises of bodily harm if she didn't take back the wheel. I just sped up the car and turned up the radio. Pushy dug in and Angel shut up when I threatened to put the top down in the middle of the day.

Now it was dark. The Hyperion loomed in front of us now. I could see Fred, Gunn and Wesley peering out the windows at us. Dad was still sitting behind the wheel. We'd been parked here for ten minutes at least. The only one wanting out of the car was Pushy. Faith and I were both curled up together on the back seat of the GTX. No one wanted to move. If we got out of the car, the vacation was over. No more discovering the world for me. No more time alone with Faith. No more postcards.

"They're gonna come out here after us," Faith said, squeezing my thigh.

"I know. Connor, you'll be living here now, at least for a little while," Angel said as if forgetting I already did now that the Beast destroyed my home. I think he was saying he wanted me to stay for good.

"Do I get my own room or can I share?" I looked at Faith.

Angel looked over the car seat. "Your own, for now. Until things settle."

Faith brushed back my hair. "It'll be fine. We can.explore the hotel together that way and still have a place to be alone if we need it."

I smiled. "Okay."

Angel reached over the seat and tapped my shoulder. "Three things to remember in regards to that. One, my bedroom is off limits. Two, no one wants to hear you two."

"Hey, I had to hear Fred and Gunn all the time," I protested.

Angel pinched the bridge of his nose. "That's because you and I have extraordinary hearing. They're actually sort of quiet. You and Faith are not."

"That's true," Faith said and I blushed. "What's the third?"

"Keep in mind that the upper levels of the hotel aren't structurally sound. If you go through the flooring and survive, we're all going to make fun of you." Angel grinned and I rolled my eyes.

I took a deep breath. "It's supposed to feel good to come home, right?"

"Yeah," Faith muttered.

"Does it?" There was a hopeful look on Angel's face.

"You know, actually it does," I replied, gathering up Pushy. We all got out of the car and headed into our home.

Gonna find me a party, maybe start one of my own.

Light a fire of my troubles and dance around the smoke.

I might regret it, come tomorrow, when I'm nursing the good time flu.

Pain to Kill- Terri Clark