Author's Note - Thanks to everyone who gave me feedback for this. It was very helpful. I hope you enjoy this, the final, chapter


"I stink," Faith moaned, covered in a thin layer of purple goo.

Spike was trying hard not to get too close to her in the back seat of one of Angel's car. The blond vampire only had a little of the goo on him but Angel had exiled him to the back seat with Faith after the Ays demons had been handled at the college. They should have known cornering the boys in their dorm room was a bad idea, not enough room to fight, not to mention escape the backlash of Wes and Fred's spell to contain the demons. Unconscious kids littering the floor, Wes and Fred outside the room working their mojo leaving Spike and Faith at ground zero. Angel had already been knocked out the window by the Ays demons. Now Angel was lead-footing it through town back to the law firm sans Fred and Wes who had stayed behind with the kids to turn them over to the cops.

Spike doubted they were achieving sound barrier speeds because of the stench of the purple slime, or the glass orb containing demons riding in the front seat with Angel. Spike knew his grandsire enough to know he wanted to be back with Connor and Holtz to either do something without thinking or just brood some more. "We both stink."

Faith wrung goo from her hair, leaning out the window like a dog. "Demons suck."

"Well, only when asked, luv." Spike smirked at her and saw Angel toss him a warning glance over the back of the seat. "Wes and Fred obviously studied how to plan so things blow up in your face from Angel. Lucky we all didn't end up possessed." He gauged Angel's reaction which was merely a tightening of his knuckles around the steering wheel. How dull. What fun was teasing if Angel wouldn't react?

Faith thumped his leg. "At least it's over. Ays demons are jarred. The kids are getting arrested and I'm not sure if I feel sorry for them or not. Probably not, if Wes is right and they summoned the demons on purpose. But once I get the goo off me, I'll be five by five."

"I can scrub your back for you," Spike said, half hoping she'd say yes, half hoping to get a rise out of Angel. He got another over the shoulder glare from the vampire and Faith rolled her eyes.

She leaned close to him and whispered. "Not to change the subject but what do you think he's gonna know, about Holtz?" She gestured at Angel. "I know I shouldn't but I feel bad for Holtz. He has to be sitting there worrying if and when he's going to be killed."

Spike shrugged. Giving someone time to make peace with God was generous in comparison to what Angelus was used to doling out. In spite of himself, Spike admired Holtz's ability to handle himself against vampires. He couldn't have exacted a better vengeance on Angel if he had tried. "Angel might not kill him. He let him go last time."

Faith bobbed her head. "I trust Angel to do the right thing." She looked up to see if Angel was listening in, Spike figured. Angel seemed to be in his own little world. "Spike, this quiet little dance we're doing, what's it all about?"

Spike looked away, fumbling for the cigarettes, wishing he had an easy answer. It was a bullet he had been half hoping to dodge. "I don't know. I'm not playing you, if that's what you're worried about, looking for sex."

"No, that would be too easy," Faith muttered.

"I know." He took a deep drag on the freshly lit cigarette, passing her the pack. He waited for Angel to yell at them for smoking in the car or bum a ciggie but he did neither. "I'm not looking to replace Buffy. That's not fair to any of us. I don't know...I just feel this...connection to you, you know? We both know what it's like to be on the outside in the rain, looking in at everyone inside. They're warm, loved, having fun and you're not invited to the party. I know what that's like. So does Angel. So do you."

"Got that right."

Spike heard the bitterness in Faith's voice. "You and me and Angel, we're different, two souled vampires and a rehabilitated rogue Slayer. Sounds like a bad combination but I think it can work."

Faith looked him up and down. "Spike, if this is some kind of a proposal for a three-way between us, I'm not interested."

Spike saw Angel's head snap around. In a space this small, he knew Angel couldn't help but overhear but hadn't bothered to let Faith in on that. Angel almost didn't turn his attention back to his driving in time to avoid running up on the sidewalk. He yanked the wheel hard, sliding Spike into Faith. The Slayer shoved him back. "Hell, no. He's invited himself in on the action between me and my girls more than enough to last several life times. If I never see him naked again I'll die happy, trust me." He smirked, seeing the expression on Angel's face as the elder vampire looked over the seat yet again.

"Angel would probably be just as happy," Faith said.

"Why don't you ask Mr. Big Ears? He's listening in." Spike gestured at the other vampire. "Car coming!"

Angel pulled the car back into his own lane before he ended up in a head-on.

"Angel!" Faith shot him a dirty look.

"I can't help it. You're loud." He shrugged. "Giles should have warned you vampires have really good hearing."

Spike winced a bit at the hot look Faith shot him for holding that tidbit back but he blundered on with the conversation. "If friendship turns into a little slap and tickle, I'm okay with that, too."

"What about Harmony?" Faith smiled derisively.

"You have no idea how dull that gets even with her role playing games. I'm looking for more than that and I'm not asking you to provide it. I'm just saying don't close the door on me," Spike said, wondering why he was shimmying out on the thin branch like this, especially in public. Probably because when it was him and Dru and Darla and Angelus, they were all very public with their affections.

"I'll keep it in mind."

"Can you two stop flirting where I can hear you?" Angel asked, plaintively, running a red light.

"Aww, we're making him blush," Spike said.

Faith slapped him. "Sorry, Angel. So what was up with those kids? Did you get a load of how they were dressed? What was that? Goth by Wal-Mart?"

"I think they all saw one too many Slasher flicks," Angel said, obviously grateful for the subject change. "They had everything Hollywood told them they should."

"I noticed," Faith replied. "All the black candles, pentagrams, silver stuff, heavy metal posters, the Necronomicon, a Halloween skull. I know Willow said black candles and pentagrams are for doing good things, not whatever the hell those twits were trying to do with them."

"Think Peaches is right," Spike said. "Did you see the movie collection on the shelves? The Exorcist, Day of the Dead, Jeepers Creepers, Ricky 6, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, House on Haunted Hill, Evil Dead, Wrong Turn. Every freaking slasher flick they could get their fingers on."

"You'd think magic wouldn't work for the stupid," Faith said then leaned over the seat to look at Angel. "What are you planning to do with Holtz? Only asking cause when we get back I need a shower and I don't want to come out and find you've done something...hasty."

Angel looked at her sourly. "I won't. I need to think about what I have to do with him and my son. "

"Great, how old are you prepared to get waiting for him to think up a plan, Faith?" Spike curled his lip, seeing Angel shooting him the bird and nearly losing control of their speeding car.

"Be nice," Faith said.

"Please, to paraphrase Rimmer, Angel's got more teeth than brain cells," Spike said.

"Rimmer?" Faith asked.

"Red Dwarf," Spike replied, flicking the stump of his cigarette out the window.

"What's that?"

"A fucking funny show from back home. Kinda sci-fi, which I don't normally go for but you have to love Lister's attitude." Spike gave her a disappointed look. "You don't know Red Dwarf? I'll have to educate you."

"Why does that sound wrong and creepy?" Faith asked.

"Because it's Spike that said it," Angel said then tapped the orb on the seat beside him. "Spike, when we get back, you take these demons to the containment area in Wolfram and Hart. Faith needs a shower and I'll be busy thinking up a plan. You know how hard that is for me." That last was almost Angelus in its mocking tone.

"Great, stick me with disposal duty," Spike whined. "Smeghead."

"Containment area?" Faith's lips twitched. "Anyone else feel like we're suddenly in Ghostbusters?"

Spike snorted. "You're a hell of a lot cuter than Bill Murray."

"Ditto. Come on, Angel, drive faster. This stuff's starting to crust," Faith demanded, flaking a layer of goo off her arm.

Spike just sat back and took stock of the way the slime had plastered her shirt to her body. Angel buried the speedometer's needle in lieu of answering.

* * *

Faith was actually surprised Angel wasn't in the holding pen area with his son when she got out of the shower. Spike had gone to dump off the demon orb and she had no idea what was on Angel's mind. She broke into his suite and he wasn't there either so that left either he was checking on Gunn who, after surgery, had no recollection of trying to murder a kid, or he was with Holtz. She rather not interrupt that.

Instead she wanted to test a theory, something Giles had recently taught her. She raided Angel's laundry basket and took a black silk shirt. Damn, Spike's not the only delicate doily around here. What is it with vamps and silk?

She headed down to the holding pen but decided to take a swing past Angel's office just to see if he was there and out of her way. Movers were already in Eve's office. She wondered if Angel knew. To her surprise, Angel came out of his office.

"I thought you would be with Holtz," Faith said.

"Called Giles and told him everything. Harmony's faxing all of Eve's files on Connor to him now. I'll tell Wesley and the others later," Angel said.

"You know they're taking every thing out of Eve's office?" Faith gestured down the hall, Angel's shirt fluttering in her hand like a flag.

"Everything Wes and I didn't pull out of there earlier." He smirked. "See, I'm not dumber than Xander."

"Guess that leaves Andrew as the reigning king then."

"Why do you have one of my shirts?" He nodded at it.

She looked slightly contrite. "I want to try something."

"You could have asked me," he scolded, gently.

"Not my style," Faith replied as Spike got off the elevator.

"Got the ghosty-demons settled with the guys in containment, Peaches."

"Good. Wes called. He said some of the kids regained consciousness. There was no adult giving them direction. They were typical teens wanting money, power and girls, only they chose a very atypical way of getting it," Angel said.

"Losers. How'd they find about the Ays demons to start with?" Faith asked.

"They found hints of it on the web and hacked into the Watcher's new database. Willow is horrified and is fixing the problem. Giles had some unrepeatable things to say about computers." Angel's smirk went even more devilish. "The rest they made up as they went along with the Ays egging them on until the conditions were right to take them whole."

"Eww. Okay, Angel, you and Spike go get Holtz and bring him down to Connor's holding pen. Give me a few minutes to try something," Faith said.

"What are you planning?" Angel asked.

Faith shrugged. "I'm kinda going on gut instinct. Giles is trying to teach me to plan and strategize but I ain't the quickest study in the class. Can you trust me on this?"

"I guess. Do you have anything in mind?"

Faith nodded. "Connor responds to Holtz. You saw that last night in the cage. Spike and I have seen it in the field. I'm not even sure he recognized you, Angel, beyond the fact you're a vampire who needs to die. Whether you like it or not Eve's little group rebonded him to Holtz. If you want to help Connor, Holtz might have to be involved." Faith met Angel's gaze levelly. At least his eye had healed and wasn't all milky like it had been.

His brow went Cro-Magnon. "You're right."

"So I'm hoping he isn't dead yet," Faith said, uneasily.

"He's fine but just giving him back Connor isn't an answer, Faith," Angel cautioned.

"Yeah, I knew that much," she said. "I'll meet you two down there."

Faith sent the guard on his way when she got to the room. Connor was pacing along the bars like the cougar she had seen on a field trip back in Boston as a kid. The tray of food he had been given was untouched. He stopped upon seeing her but he looked far less hostile than he had in the past.

"You need to eat, Steven. I can practically see through you," Faith said, smiling as sweetly as she knew how. She was used to smiling to seduce not to put at ease.

He returned the smile bashfully. He let his head droop a bit, hiding behind his David Cassidy haircut as the silky strands fell over his face.

He so needs a trim, she thought. She held out the shirt. "A gift, just to let you know I'm not holding grudges over what you called me or that ass-kicking."

He edged over to the bars, looking at her as if struggling to process the idea. Faith realized given what Angel had said about him being raised in hell, the kid may never have had a gift before. She waggled the shirt and he took it, dancing back away from the bars, seemingly afraid to stay in grabbing distance. After the incident with Gunn and Eve, she didn't blame him. He fingered the silk shirt confused then tugged up his scrub shirt.

"No, Steven, I don't want you to put it on," she said and he let go of the hem. "Do what you did with my bra." Faith pantomimed sniffing.

Connor put the silk to his nose then jerked it away making a face like a skunk had caught him between the eyes. He took a deeper sniff and Faith watched him crumble. She was reminded of the china doll that a prissy little girl in grade school had treasured. Faith had crushed its face underfoot because the girl had laughed at Faith's tattered clothes. Faith remembered how the doll had shattered. Connor had that same look. His legs gave out and he sat down hard. He buried his face in the shirt screaming so loud, hard and long, Faith thought his throat would bleed. Her plan has worked a little too well.

"Steven...Connor, come closer to the bars. I can't help you from there," Faith called but he wouldn't unball. He squirmed until the shirt was under his head like a pillow. His face went red and mottled while he cried but his eyes remained dry, like he was crying from a tear in his soul more so than sadness.

"What did you do, Faith?" Angel asked as he came in. Spike followed Angel, leading Holtz whose hands had been shackled behind him.

"If your gut instinct was to make him cry, I think it worked," Spike said, pushing Holtz down into the chair.

Faith scowled at them. "My plan was to help him to remember. He seems to know Holtz but not us."

"He does not know me well," Holtz interjected. "He remembers on some level but he is not as he was."

"Yeah, big shock after Wolfram and Hart got their claws in him," Faith said. "I was hoping maybe he was taking my bra because ths smell was reminding him of me. Giles was lecturing us about how good scent works on triggering memories."

"So you thought my shirt would help Connor remember me," Angel said, sounding proud of her.

"Yeah, and that happened." She gestured into the cage. The screaming had died in volume and the tears had come. "I wanted to go in there with him, see if I can quiet him down but I don't have the key."

"Rule number one, Faith when dealing with the mentally unstable, don't overstimulate them or that happens," Spike said, pointing.

"He's not unstable," Angel grumbled. "He's just in a state of confusion."

"And you're the king of denial. Just give me the key to the cell," Faith demanded.

"It's a little dangerous, Faith. Why don't you let me-"

"Angel, for one, I'm the Slayer. I can handle myself. Two, you just make him more nuts simply by standing there pretending you breathe," Faith interrupted. "I was thinking Connor might calm down for Holtz."

"It's worth a try," Holtz said and Faith was amazed he didn't look smug about it.

Angel eyes him sourly then nodded undoing the hand cuff off one of Holtz's wrists and securing it to the bars.

"Only I am not sure it will work. His agitation is the reason I was brought back and even at that it was still necessary to give him medication to keep him calm," Holtz admitted.

"What did you give him?" Angel grabbed his shoulder, nearly tearing the man off the bars.

Holtz winced in pain then said. "I don't know. Whatever Miss Eve gave me. It mostly worked except once when nothing would calm him."

"I hate this," Angel muttered.

"It is not what I wanted either." Holtz tried to get down on Connor's level but the cross bars wouldn't let him slid all the way to the floor. "Steven, please, this isn't helping. Calmly now, that's how we stay safe."

Faith listened to his unusual words of comfort and realized that where Connor was raised, making noise made it that much easier for the demons to find you.

"Connor," Angel said. "Please listen to him."

Connor rolled so he was flat on his belly. He lifted his head up, cheeks wet, lips trembling. "Why did you do it?"

Silence shrouded the room. No one moved for a moment.

"I am sorry for what I did and for what I forced you to do," Holtz said.

"I did what I did to try and save you," Angel put in. "To give you a happy life."

"Now to figure out which of you he was talking to," Spike mumbled.

"I'm nobody now...a nothing," Connor moaned, pressing his face into the floor.

"That's not true. You're someone very special to just about everyone in here." Angel stepped away from Holtz as if to ease any fears Connor might have about him hurting the man.

"You're important enough that someone went through the trouble of raising the dead," Faith said.

"Hell, they even organized a hit squad, which isn't comforting but it ought to prove you ain't a nobody," Spike offered.

"Come over here so we can talk like gentlemen, Steven." Holtz beckoned with his unshackled hand.

Connor just made like a frightened hedgehog.

"Screw this, Angel, open this cage," Faith insisted.

He complied and she went in. Faith cautiously knelt beside Connor, half expecting to get belted across the cage. He didn't move. Faith stroked his shoulder and Connor's skin twitched under her touch. She kept up the soothing motion and he slowly responded, sitting up. He looked at her and she felt her heart breaking not just for him but for the two men on the outside of the cage looking in.

She held out her arms and he eased into them tentatively as if afraid she was going to hurt him. Faith gently closed her embrace. Holding him, she rocked him slightly until he slowly quieted and calmed down, resting against her, breathing hard. "There you go," she said. "I know it's not all better. We're a long way from there but this is a start." She smoothed his hair. "Do you remember me, Ste...which name do you want me to use?"

"Doesn't matter," he mumbled.

"It matters," she assured him.

"Call him Connor," Holtz said. "It was the name he was meant to have."

Both Angel and Faith looked at him in surprise. "Do you remember who they are?" Faith pointed to the men.

Connor bobbed his head, his cheek moving against her neck. "Not the white haired one."

"You've never met Spike until a few nights ago," Angel said.

"And my hair is platinum, not white," Spike said then did a full body shudder. "I sound like Harmony, stake me."

"Gladly," Angel replied.

"How about me? Do you remember me?" Faith asked.

"You beat me," Connor mumbled. "Liked you."

"That's good. I don't remember you any more. There was a big spell to make you forget all the bad stuff you went through, so you could live a happy life. No one remembers you but Angel and obviously the higher ups at Wolfram and Hart. They're the ones who did this to you," Faith said.

"I'm all gone." He pressed a hand to his mouth. "Just bits left. Nothing fits."

"It will, Connor," Angel said. "I'm sorry. It wasn't supposed to be this way. I just wanted to give you all the things you never had and could never have because of the things that had happened to you. Do you remember the last time you saw me? Do you remember the mall?"

Connor shook his head, his hand questing for Faith's. She let him hold it.

"Maybe it's better you don't remember that," Angel said. "You wanted to die and I tried the only thing I knew to do to keep you alive. But they lied to me."

"Too many lies," Connor said.

"I know." Angel shoved his hands into his pockets.

"Don't let him hurt Father," Connor whispered in Faith's ear so quiet she barely heard him.

She cupped the back of his head, pressing his cheek down against her shoulder. "He's not going to."

"What's wrong?" Angel asked liked the nervous father he was.

"He's afraid you're gonna hurt Holtz," Faith said, feeling Connor tremble at hearing it out loud.

"I'm not." Angel took a few steps towards the door to the cage but stopped when Connor cringed. "I don't know what's going to happen, Connor, but I promise you, I won't kill him."

"Shouldn't be here. I made sure he wouldn't rise." Connor pointed at Holtz.

"Uh, what's he talking about?" Faith asked.

"To keep someone killed by a vampire from rising you have to decapitate them or burn the body...which I never thought about until now. What did you do, Connor? Tell me you let Justine do that for you." Angel's voice wavered with horror.

"He would never trust it to anyone else,' Holtz said.

"Oh, gross. No wonder you're fucked up," Faith said. "But you know he's not a vampire. I know you can tell one from the other."

"Zombie?" Connor asked, more question than statement of fact. "Kinda like vampires."

"I'm not a zombie, Ste...Connor," Holtz said, sternly.

"And zombies are nothing like us, yob," Spike said. "They're slow and stupid, for one."

"Forget it. We've had this conversation before. He'd much rather not see the distinction. Connor, Wolfram and Hart brought Holtz back from the dead. It took a lot of magic to do that. It's how they brought back your mother once, too. If it wasn't for that, you wouldn't be here," Angel said.

"Hate magic." Connor thumped the floor with a fist.

"Yeah, it's a real bitch, ain't it?" Faith said.

Connor tensed against her. "Why did they?"

"That's what we all like to know. I was hoping this wasn't all part of your plan, Holtz. Make him think I killed you and have Wolfram and Hart bring you back once Connor killed me," Angel said, his eyes boring into the man.

Holtz shook his head, leaning against the cage. "I did no such thing. What they did to me is the worst kind of blasphemy. I was more than ready to lay my burden down. They couldn't control St...Connor after whatever it was that made him so wild, so....crazed. They thought he might respond to me. They brought me back to be his keeper and told me you did this to him."

"I didn't...I made him forget that he was the son of two demons, yes but I put him somewhere where he could be a normal kid. This...this Wolfram and Hart did." Angel couldn't hide his disgust.

Holtz sighed. "I thought as much. I knew you would not hurt him."

"You were counting on that when you sent him after me," Angel said.

"What happened?" Holtz favored Angel with an inquisitive look. I never dreamed he'd join you."

"He didn't. He and Justine welded me into a coffin and sunk me to the bottom of the ocean," Angel said.

"Quite appropriate," Holtz said. "Unending suffering but someone obviously found you."

"Justine told Wesley. Remember him? The guy whose throat she cut?" Angel asked harshly then regretted it watching Connor shrivel up more. "After I came back, things got really ugly and I don't want to go into them right now. Connor's upset enough. Neither of us were very good fathers. That's why I tried to find him a better one but nothing I do ever seems to work right, not where my son is concerned. I just keep making things worse."

"Well, the Beast and the shit with Cordy didn't help," Faith said.

"Cordy? Where?" Connor asked, looking up at Faith.

Faith grimaced and glanced over at Angel, not wanting to be the one to tell the kid Cordelia had passed away.

"She's gone, son. We'll talk about that later," Angel said.

Connor's face wrinkled. Faith wondered if he knew what Angel meant by gone but he didn't press it. She shook his shoulders. "Want to get up and go outside this cage?" He tensed. "No? Okay, we won't."

"I was surprised to see you here," Holtz said. "I was afraid he had killed you by accident. You don't look like a demon or a vampire but the way you fought....and you're fine, just a bit bruised."

"I'm a Slayer," Faith said.

"You said so when you were in my position." He rattled his cuff against the bars. "What does that mean?"

"I'm a Vampire Slayer. It's a calling so they tell me. Basically, one girl in all the world gets chosen to fight the demons until she dies and another one takes her place...that was until Buffy spread the power all over the place and now there's dozens of us." Faith shrugged. "It's our job to kill demons and keep the normals safe."

Holtz's eyes narrowed. "But you are working with two demons."

"They both have souls," Faith said. "They're the good I know they weren't when you knew them...well, Angel. You don't know Spike, do you?"

"Spike came much later," Angel said.

"Vampires do not have souls," Holtz protested.

"Not normally but these two do. Angel got cursed with his soul as a punishment by some gypsies after he killed their favorite daughter and her people took their vengeance...which seems to be a recurring theme with Angel." Faith snorted. "Spike asked for his soul to impress a girl. He's shallow and stupid that way."

"Hey!" Spike said, looking deeply offended.

"It's okay, Spike. We expect that of blonds," Faith said.

"Yeah right, blond." Angel made a noise that might have been a laugh.

"It's a good thing he's not with Buffy any more. There wouldn't be enough peroxide in town to keep them happy," Faith said and Spike's eyes narrowed. "But the point is, these two have their souls. Something for you and Connor to learn; not all demons are bad ones."

"Lorne," Connor growled.

"Yeah that's an example. He's harmless...kinda like living with the Queer Eye guys but he does good for people," Faith said. "What I'm getting at, no matter how or why they got their souls, these two are saving people now...making up for what they did. Sort of. You can't ever take that stuff back. Trust me, I know first hand. But they're good even if hearing it makes them squirm."

"It just sounds wrong," Spike whined.

"Yes, it does," Holtz said. "And you think this makes me trust you?"

"No. You can't make people do that. Connor trusted me once or so I'm told. Once this spell gets truly reversed, I'll remember it," Faith said. "And maybe things will be better for you then, Connor. I know it's all scary right now and that's a bad place to be. Been there, too."

Holtz nodded. "Like when I was brought back. They told me that weeks had past before I was myself again. I could only remember that time in frightening bits and pieces."

"Once, I was the same as Connor was until his break through today," Angel said. "I spent five hundred years in a hell. Time moved differently there just as it did in Quor-Toth. It took a while before I felt like myself but I had friends who helped me recover. We can help you, Connor. I promise that we'll try our best."

"I...can't." He clung tighter to Faith.

"Sure you can." She held him close. "You just have to let us help. Angel's good at it. Spike...well, I'm sure he can help. He knows about taking care of people who are confused up here." She tapped his temple. "And Giles, I bet he could help. You don't know him but he's really good at that stuff. He saved Willow. Maybe we could go to England. I'd go with you so you wouldn't be alone."

"That's actually not a bad idea," Angel said, surprising her. Faith had only been talking to keep Connor from getting hopeless. She didn't think Angel would go for that. "I've already asked for Giles' help. I could find my way there, too. Connor's never been out of this city. He should know there is more to life than Los Angeles."

"Yeah, like there's actually nice places to be," Spike said then nodded at Holtz. "But what about him?"

"Maybe you'd like to meet Giles as well, Holtz. He's a Watcher. They're the ones who train the Slayers, do all the research on the demons, give the girls guidance," Angel said, further shocking Faith. "You used to have a troop of vampire hunters who didn't have the skill or stamina or strength the Slayers do and you did well enough in spite of it."

"Shit yeah, Giles could use the help. The Watchers nearly got wiped out," Faith said, hoping Angel wasn't kidding just to keep Connor from knowing his real plan for Holtz. "I saw you out there with the vampires. You're good. You could train the Slayers, kill some more demons and have a little something else in your life beside...well, nothing."

Holtz gave them a perplexed look. "You would trust me out there in the world?"

Angel reached over and uncuffed him. "I'm not going to kill you so I guess that's my only other choice. I don't think you want to hurt Connor, either. I don't know how you managed to survive in Quor-Toth, let alone kept an infant alive. I don't approve of everything you did to him there but you tried to make him into a good man. And I think you know if you kill me now, you'll hurt him. To my mind, half of what destroyed Connor inside was the conflict between what you raised him to believe and what he saw in me with his own eyes. I fell into a shade of grey he couldn't see without it pulling him apart. You're back in this world again, Holtz. You can either leave it or find a way to live in it."

Holtz gazed at Connor and Faith wished she knew what he was thinking. She had suggested the Watcher thing because it was the first thing that sprung to mind and it was a way she could keep an eye on him, make sure he wouldn't double back and try to kill Angel.

"The Watcher gig ain't so bad," Spike said. "If you like reading and putting up with teenaged girls. That last part is some scary shit."

Holtz laughed, managing to make it sound grim. "I am willing to meet with Giles. But what of Connor?"

"For now, he stays here with me, until we work out the spell. And then I think Faith's idea might be a good one," Angel said. "He's old enough to make his own choices as to where he wants to go after that."

Connor's head jerked up. Faith saw the surprise in his eyes. "I choose?"

Angel nodded. "Both Holtz and I have been making all your decisions for you, thinking we knew best what you wanted, what was good for you. After I gave you up, I thought about me and my own father and how I hated it when he did that to me. Sometimes you have no choice. When it's your child, you have to make some unpopular decisions. But no one ever bothered to ask you what you wanted to see if a compromise could be reached. I'm sorry for that. Right now, you're in no shape to make choices, but I'm confident you will heal, Connor and then you can make your own choices, even if that means you might never want to see me again."

Faith saw the tears sheening Angel's eyes. The quiver in Connor's lips told her he saw it, too. "Sounds like a good deal to me, kid."

"Yeah." He got up then hesitated.

Faith jumped up and put an arm over his shoulders, leading him out. He paused by the two men he called father.

"I can't...I try to remember things but it all slips away like a Jovades in water." Connor trembled. "Then I feel like...being like I was..since Father came back."

"It's easier to live like that, just be and don't have to think. But it's a bad way to be, Connor. I've been there and I know," Angel said, touching his face. Connor let him. "We'll make this right some how. But until then, we're going to find you a room to stay in, okay. Get you some food since you didn't like that stuff." Angel nodded at the abandoned tray.

"Yes, you must eat. You're thinner than usual," Holtz said.

"He's always looked like a Giacometti," Angel said. "Must take after his mother."

"A what?" Faith asked for Connor who looked just as confused.

"Alberto Giacometti, you know? The surrealist? Did sculptures of these super skinny people?" Angel urged her to remember and look disappointed when he realized she had no clue.


"Angel's an art geek," Spike said, rolling his eyes. "Art, and books."

"And Barry Manilow."

"Faith!" Angel said and Faith saw Spike's eye light up.

"Sorry ,big guy. Come on, there's an empty room next to mine, Connor. It'll be nice and quiet," Faith said and Spike looked deeply disappointed. Angel seemed relieved.

Connor looked over at Holtz.

"I suspect I'm heading back to where they're holding me," Holtz said. "Don't worry, it is not a bad place." He stroked Connor's hair. "And then I'll be back home. It's been a long time since I've seen it."

"I hear that," Spike said. "Wouldn't mind going with you to England. I can tell the kid all the embarrassing shit that his dad got himself into over the years."

"Faith, have Harmony call that pet cemetery she used for her kitty," Angel said. "We'll need a little egg-shaped container for Spike's ashes."

"You could always use them for cement and make your own sculpture with him," Faith said.

"Hey! I thought you liked me." Spike pouted.

She beamed at him. "I kid because I love."

"Maybe she does. I don't." Angel put a hand on Connor's shoulder. "Let's get you settled. I'll show you where Holtz is staying if it'll make you feel better."

Connor nodded and they all swung past the small interior room that was passing as Holtz's cell. Connor seemed mollified and left Holtz there without a fuss. They got the boy settled into the room next to Faith's. Angel went to arrange for food for his son, happier than he had seemed in a long time. Faith went into her room and flopped on the couch, looking up at Spike.

"You've a nasty streak, girl," he said.

"Lighten up, Spike. You can handle a little teasing."

He snorted. "I can handle plenty." He still had a little hurt look that made Faith wonder about that. "How can you guarantee quiet?"

"You have a fried dick. Ain't nothing happening there. Should take a picture for the guys back home." Faith grinned wickedly.

"Not happening. And I'll be healed soon enough." Spike went sober. "But I'm not expecting from you, Faith, just so you know. I don't want you feeling pressured."

"No man makes me do anything I don't want to do," she assured him. "Just kinda wish I knew what was between us."

"We're just more of those touches of grey," he said. "Best not to put it under too much light or it'll fritter away."

Or we'll see it for what it is and get scared or angry at ourselves, she thought. "I'm more of a 'in the now' kinda girl, don't examine things too closely. I'm just glad there's a chance this will all work out."

He nodded. "Yeah. Hey, even Peaches deserves a little happiness but I can't wait to see him try to explain this to Buffy."

"Don't kid yourself Spike, you're still evil." She smiled.

He laughed. "I'm the big bad, luv. You look beat, get some sleep."

"And hey, no more dreams about Angel dying." Faith sighed. "I can get some good sleep."

She watched Spike leave. She didn't know where things were going between them, if they were going anywhere. She'd just do what felt right even if it was in that murky grey area. She was happy that she was key in getting Angel back his son. She had done well on this mission. Maybe she'd be a good Slayer after all. Content with thinking Angel, Giles, Robin and the others would be proud of her, Faith shuffled off to her bedroom. She knew there was a lot of work yet to do but she felt confident it would all work out in the end in a big bright swirl of color.

I will get by I will get by I will get by I will survive
The shoe is on the hand that fits there's really nothing much to it
Whistle through your teeth and spit cuz it's alright
Oh well a touch of grey kinda suits you anyway
And that was all I had to say and it's alright

Touch of Grey - The Grateful Dead

Challenge requirements:

the main character(s) must be Spike and/or Faith

Use this dialogue: FAITH:
"Staring problem?"

"No, jus' taking stock of your wounds—how you feeling?"

"Like a hostage."

"Fair enough. Just featured you'd still be sore."

"I'm good. Better than when you dragged me in here, and apparently still breathin' so, can't really complain."

"You were tossing about all night, you sleep okay?"

"Not really, pain kind'a an intrusion on the whole sleep concept. What's with you and the twenty questions anyway?"