Chapter I: The Chance Of A Lifetime
Connor was restless. He had been wandering all day and a good few hours into the night, but he still couldn't shake away the feeling that overcame him at every street corner and side alley – the feeling that there were better places to be, and that he could easily get there if he tried.
But, although he had wandered several miles away from the Hyperion, it felt as though they – Angel and the rest - would know if he tried to run, and somehow bring him back. There was an invisible cord tugging at Connor, slowing him down and forcing him to stay inside LA city limits.
It was as though a leash had been slipped around his neck by his own father. The word "father" meant nothing to him anymore. It was simply a term used to describe the man who thought of Connor as his property – nothing more, nothing less.
After passing the seventeenth hotel and forty-eighth drug store he'd seen that day, Connor had to slow down. He knew he was getting nowhere, and – accelerated speed, strength and muscle capacity aside – he was beginning to feel tired of walking. He needed a break - and he knew just where to get it.
"Connor." Lorne was surprised to see him, but it didn't diminish his welcoming smile. "Does Angel know you're here?" The demon actually had to half-yell to make himself heard over the noise of a she-demon doing "I Love Rock 'N Roll" to avid applause and hooting from the bar's male patrons.
"No. And I'd like to keep it that way," Connor yelled back, hiding his irritation at the mention of his father's name. Why was he always treated like some household pet of Angel's that needed taming? Connor had walked away from the bar counter long before Lorne started to say something else; he didn't need a third degree from a demon who could be reading his thoughts as he spoke.
Connor practically had to force his way through the crowded bar to get to an empty table at the back, and when he did he found it occupied by two young men who looked fairly human in comparison to the rest of the crowd.
One of them glanced up briefly while Connor sat down, but he didn't say anything. It was then that Connor noticed that they had looked older from far away – up close, they didn't look over seventeen or eighteen. And on closer observation, they looked a lot less human.
The boy who had glanced up at Connor had strange, iridescent irises that gently shifted from one color to another as his gaze moved, and the other had two diagonal vivid orange slashes across his cheek; the slashes glittered dimly in the artificial lighting and contrasted with his dark skin. Apparently, they were both either passively or only partly demon.
Even after Connor had sat down, none of them spoke. Mentally, Connor noted that he could probably take each of them on in a one-on-one battle, but fighting them both together might prove to be a problem. Still, it didn't look like it would have to come to that – yet.
The she-demon who had been performing finished up her set to thunderous applause. The boy with the slashed cheek whistled loudly, but his companion only looked relieved.
"Finally, I can hear myself think again," he commented dryly. The other boy shook his head. "You do too much thinkin' already." Then he grinned. "But even you gotta admit, that girl was steamin' up there."
"Only if 'steaming' means she sang like a drowning cat," the first boy retorted, his eyes shifting from smoky gray to clear blue as he spoke.
"Whatever, man. I still say she rocked." He suddenly looked at Connor. "What about you? Wanna give us a third opinion?"
Connor shrugged. "Good enough, but not very impressive." To tell the truth, he hadn't been listening to the she-demon at all, but he knew it was safe to give a neutral opinion.
"Very democratic," the first boy noted, taking Connor in for the first time. He paused for a moment, and seemed to be analyzing him before nodding appreciatively. "I'm Bryce," he told him, "and this is Tyrone."
"Connor," he responded briefly, relieved that he wouldn't have to give a last name.
"So, Connor – you live here in LA?" Tyrone asked. Connor just nodded, deciding it was best to keep from giving away more information than necessary.
"Tyrone's from New Orleans," Bryce supplied. "We met here a few weeks ago – I was passing through from San Diego."
"And since we were both on our own, we figured we'd team up," Tyrone continued. "Take on the open road, you know? Anyway, it beats travelin' alone."
Connor wondered why they were telling him all of this, but listened in silence – it wasn't like he had anything better to do.
"We've planned out a road trip along the coast that should take us nearly all summer," Bryce explained.
"Yeah – we got no responsibilities, no one watchin' us, and all the freedom in the world: we can do whatever we want, whenever we want, and there's nothin' around to stop us," Tyrone said, relaxing into his chair with a grin.
Connor couldn't help the twinge of envy he felt. Here he was, trapped in one place, and these guys were living out exactly the kind of life he had wanted for the last couple of weeks.
Tyrone had been watching Connor closely for the past few minutes, and a smile was starting to dawn on his face. "Hey…" he said slowly, "you got any plans for this summer?"
Connor blinked. "What?"
"Well, the way I see it," Tyrone said, glancing from Connor to Bryce, "is this: we've got enough funds to take us both wherever we want plus a set of wheels, and it's only the two of us – so if you don't have anything to do this summer, why not join the group? We could easily make room for a third member."
"It could work," Bryce agreed. Connor could tell he was still thinking it over, but he seemed to be in favor of the idea. As for Connor himself… He'd spent all his life in a Hell dimension and had gone through more in seventeen years than most people went through in all their lives. He needed a vacation.
"All right," Connor finally agreed. "I'm in." After all, it was only for two months; he would eventually be coming back. And Connor had been trained to survive, not sit around and try to blend in with the crowd - this was the chance of a lifetime for him, since Angel would probably never let him out of his sight in the future.
"Great!" Tyrone grinned. "Trust me - it'll be the party of our lives."
"So, what's the next stop on the route?" Connor asked, already beginning to adjust to the situation.
Bryce took out a folded map from the inner pocket of his jacket and spread it out on the table. He traced the red line marked out along the coast with his finger until he found a town only a few miles from LA.
"Here," he said, turning the map around so Connor could see it better. "Next stop: Sunnydale, California."
Author's Note: A little sketchy for a first chapter, but I'm only just getting started. As always, reviews and opinions are welcome, and could probably be helpful.