S J Smith
Disclaimer: Mutant Enemy, Joss Whedon, et al own everything.
Summary: Right after "Home."
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A sigh escaped him. In less than twenty-four hours, his life had changed drastically. Taking over the L.A. chapter of Wolfram and Hart hadn't been on his list of things to do, ever, but it wasn't the first time his world had been knocked askew. He just hadn't expected to lose Connor the same day.
Angel turned the pocket watch over in his hands. It didn't look like much but sometimes, magical items weren't flashy. Take Thessulan orbs. They looked like smoky quartz. He sighed, thumping his head back against the seat. The scenery outside flashed by, a continuous Californian stream of browns and mottled greens. In this car, he'd be able to see what it looked like in the sunlight. If he really cared.
Angel rubbed his forehead. He could tell himself it was better this way; that Connor would be happier, that his son really would have the life that he'd always wanted for the boy. Now, though, it was too fresh a wound to think on, the scraping rawness reminding him of the day he'd turned back time to stay a vampire.
He closed his eyes, trying to will it away but the fantasy rose unbidden; if he'd kept the day; if he'd remained human, he and Buffy might've been raising Connor. They might have been able to give Connor the family that he so desperately craved.
His fingers stroked the surface of the watch, feeling the intricate design embossed in the cover. It didn't matter, he thought, turning away from those thoughts. It didn't matter. His son had a life now, one where he could be a normal boy and date a normal girl and someday, hopefully, have normal kids who never heard of vampires outside of a horror movie.
"Mr. Angel," the intercom buzzed.
He opened his eyes.
"We'll be arriving in Sunnydale in less than ten minutes." A pause. "Is there anyplace in particular you'd like me to take you?"
His fingers clutched the watch tightly. "Just drive around," he said curtly, "until I tell you to stop."
"Yes, sir," the driver said and Angel heard the intercom shut off.
He'd done what he could for Connor. It was like losing a limb but the pain would ease in time. And he could still watch over his son, from afar. Make sure he was all right. Someday, maybe, drop into a hospital to congratulate Connor on his own son or daughter. But that was in the future, far down the line. And right now, he had to find Buffy to make sure that the world didn't end.
Angel found himself rubbing the watch. A lot could change in a day.
It took twenty-four hours for him to rise from the grave and kill his family.
It was another twenty-four hours that he and Buffy had shared as a normal boyfriend and girlfriend.
It took less time to create his son and nearly that amount of time for Connor to be born. Angel tasted blood and realized he'd bit his lip. It took twenty-four hours for his life to change again, to lose his son.
He wished that Buffy had had a chance to meet Connor. Just once, to see them together; maybe she could've offered his son the healing that he needed.
The car swung around a curve and Angel felt it, that tingling that resided deep in him, letting him know that she was close. Both comforting and unsettling, familiar and altogether unknown, if Angel had a working heart, it would be racing. "Stop here." The driver piloted the car to the curb and Angel swung out of the back of it before the driver could open the door.
The air was cleaner here, scents carried so much better without all the smog to fight through. Angel took a deep breath, already feeling drunk on that particular signature that rose to greet him. He turned to the driver, halfway out of the car. "There's a mansion," he said, "on the north edge of town. Meet me there."
"Yes sir," the driver said, tipping his hat.
Angel didn't bother glancing behind him as he started trailing Buffy. Her scent grew stronger, nearly tugging him along. She was angry, she was fighting, she was the Slayer, the girl who'd become a woman, all in his absence.
Magical items, he thought, should look magical. Maybe have a glow to them. A certain feel.
Kind of like a Slayer.
Kind of like a son.
Angel broke into a run along the street, finding the entrance that would lead him to Buffy. His sharp ears could pick up the sound of her fighting. He didn't want to miss this.
He'd lost too much time already.