After The Storm

Chapter 1

By Vixen

Connor clutched his stomach, feeling his ribs to make sure they weren't broken. It was only the second fight he'd gotten into since he'd gotten his memories back, since he'd gotten his fighting skills back, and it had been a bad one. Or embarrassing at least, getting head butted and sent flying across the room, only to land in a crumbled mess and black out for a few minutes. Then when he had come to, Angel had told him to go home. His father had sent him away again, to protect him, and Connor had obeyed for once. Now he wouldn't get to see how the final fight ended, how it all went down, if his father lived through the night.

Breathing hard, he leaned against a stony wall of a city building. He'd run out of the office building, and only now that he was a few city blocks away did he dare take a break. The Wolfram and Hart building still loomed overhead, one of the tallest structures in the whole city. An immense monument to the evil that ran the city, a fortress for underhanded dealings. His father had tried to change the system from within but it hadn't worked. Now the end was coming.

Angel knew that. It was the reason he had shown at the small coffee house to see Connor. One last goodbye, and then so long. This annoyed a small part of Connor. Why did his father always wait for the last possible second to try to change things?

The boy watched as people scurried about the street, a minor panic was rising. Even the purebred humans without any special spidey senses could feel that something was amiss by now. Connor himself had felt the difference in the air since he'd left the coffee shop. The atmosphere of the whole city seemed heavier, the air tingled against his skin. He'd had thoughts of sweeping in to save the day, or at least help a little, but as soon as he'd gotten hurt he'd run away. It wasn't his fight, his father had said. He had to live. Everyone had given up so much so that he could live a safe normal life. Still, he couldn't stop the intense need to do something. Anything.

As he stood there, leaning against the building from the shadows, while people rushed by trying to get away from the enveloping evil that was threatening to swallow the city, he saw the lights at Wolfram and Hart go out. The place should have had some backup generators, but even they weren't working now. It was just black and dead.

Connor took a few steps into the street, trying to get a better view. He could feel the first few raindrops starting to fall from the sky. They smelled like sulfur and ash, with a slightly different texture than real rain. More wet, if that was possible. He reached out with one hand, letting the water hit it, "Huh, evil rain. That's not a good sign."

It started as a loud rumble in the distance, growing to a thunderous roar as the sound waves reached the street where Connor was standing. After the sound began, there was only a brief second before the destruction started. Wolfram and Hart was finally beginning to tumble under the damage it had sustained. Truthfully, Connor was surprised it had held up as long as it did. When he had been running down the stairs and out the exit, he had feared it might come down before he had a chance to get away. He hadn't been prepared for the sight of the whole structure falling down around itself though, the shockwave that was sent through the ground as the rubble hit the street.

More people had begun running away, those who had not been sensing anything or who had ignored their intuition finally seeing the danger they were in with their own eyes. Connor was numb and unmoving, as he watched the panic and alarm. Carefully, he went over his options. He could rush back and try to something stupid and heroic that would probably get him killed, or he could do the smart thing and get the hell out of the way of the oncoming slaughter. On the one hand his father had told him to leave, and on the other he knew he couldn't. He shook his head to clear it and then gave a small shrug, "Never listened to him before, why start now?"

He was the only one on the street that night running towards the site of the fallen building, the only one who was crazy enough to not want to get away as quickly as possible. Tugging his jacket tighter, he pushed his way through the crowds. When he'd gotten closer, the crowds had dispersed. Only a few other people were in the area now, and he stood out among the others just by the way he was walking.

"Hey, you," he heard a police officer call to him.

Connor rolled his eyes and turned to face the taller man, "Yes, officer?"

"Just where do you think you're going, did you not see the barricades? This part of the block is closed to cars and pedestrian traffic."

"Well, you see, officer, um," Connor turned his attention back to the rubble that littered the street. Dust covered the surrounding stores, though some of it had washed of in the rain, and there was no sign of any survivors. Quickly, he tried to wrack his brain for an excuse the cop might buy, "I just wanted to check out what was going on. That's all."

"Why don't you just turn around and go home, son," The officer crossed his big burly arms, blocking Connor's way. The boy bristled at the last word that left the man's mouth. Then, thinking of the rain and how hard it would be to pick up the trail of any one who had survived the demolition in the rain, if anyone had indeed survived, Connor did the only thing he could think of. He punched the police officer, knocking him out cold.

"Uh, sorry," Connor said, excusing himself as he walked around the fallen man. If his parents, his fake parents, knew what he had just done he'd be grounded for life. He was kind of angry with himself for not being able to think of an alternative way to handle the situation. Time was running out however, and his adrenaline was pumping making it a little difficult to think straight at the moment. It felt like old times, he admitted. Back when he used to do this kind of thing regularly. He took one last passing glance at the man he'd knocked out, and then ran towards the crumbled stone and iron I-beams that had once been Wolfram and Hart.

Carefully, he inched his way through the broken glass and bent metal. The wreckage was piled up in unstable bunches, but he was able to climbed on it without falling or cutting himself on any of the sharp shards that reached up from the remains. He closed his eyes, focusing on the smells that emitted from the area. Smelling blood, he reached under one of the fallen beams, lifting it up with inhuman strength. Underneath it a woman with strawberry blond hair was looking up blankly at him. She was having difficulty breathing. It was a miracle she had survived the fall at all, but her life was slowly draining away. She wouldn't last long; she probably wouldn't even make it to a hospital.

Connor couldn't just leave her there though. Picking more debris off of her, trying to dig the woman out from under the weight of the collapsed building, Connor barely noticed when she said it the first time. When she repeated her words the second time he heard them clearer, "He's gone."

Connor continued to work to uncover her, "Who's gone.. Angel?"

She seemed to laugh weakly, but only ended up wheezing and coughing before she continued in a dead far away voice, "Lindsey. Lindsey's gone."

"It's okay," Connor said without knowing whom she was talking about. Picking her up in his arms softly, he reassured her, "I'm going to take you to someone who can get you help. Just don't die, okay?" The woman let herself be carried away like a weakling, unresisting and even patient as he handed her over to a police officer. The fight had long since left her.

As soon as she was in the care of the police, Connor took off bolting towards the other scent he had discovered while he had been pulling her out of the wreck. There were more police in the area now, and they weren't taking his previous actions lightly. Connor could hear a couple of them start running after him, but he was quicker than them. He just hopped he'd be able to reach his father in time; this was one fight he couldn't miss.

When he heard the sirens from the police cars coming after him, Connor darted into an alleyway. The streets were littered with cars filled with people trying to escape the city. It would have been almost impossible for the police to follow him in their cruisers; still he couldn't take any chances. Rushing up a fire escape ladder, Connor pulled himself up to the top of an apartment building. He'd take the high road from then on.

He hopped from building top to building top, not having to stop to pick up the scent trail now. It was all too obvious where the big fight was going to be. A hoard of demons was filling the sky; he thought he even saw what looked like a dragon. There were probably just as many, or more, creatures on the ground, and they were all converging on one spot. The alleyway behind the Hyperion. It was still a few buildings away. Connor raced through the night, brushing his wet hair out of his eyes, as he tried to make it in time. He had no idea what he was going to do when he actually did get there, but at least he'd be in the fight. He'd make a difference. He'd be one of the good guys for a change.

Finally, he reached one of the building tops that framed the alleyway. He looked down to see his father, Gunn and the two others he'd met during his first trip to Wolfram and Hart. They looked like they were in bad shape, losing the battle, losing the war. There were just too many demons. The Senior Partners had unleashed every weapon they had against those who sought to bring them down. Connor took a deep breath and then hurried towards the ladder on the side of the building. Time to get to work.

He skipped a couple of steps as he raced down the fire escapes on each floor. Halfway to the ground, he was about to jump the rest of the way to the street when he felt a large force of wind hit him. Looking towards the alleyway, Connor starred in horror as a portal began to open up. Angel and the others were too preoccupied with the fight to notice the opening was growing behind them. When they did notice it, it was already too late. The portal acted like a vacuum, dragging those around it into it's swirling chaos.

Connor clutched the side of the fire escape to avoid getting sucked in with the pull of the wind. He tried to scream out to the others, but his voice was lost in the storm. His father and those who fought beside him were unable to stop from being pulled into the portal, and as soon as they had been plucked up the portal closed and vanished without a trace. Connor starred, horrified, he could do nothing. Falling to his knees, his hands wrapped so tightly around the metal bars of the fire escape he lost feeling in his fingers, and he felt the ultimate defeat. His father was gone. He had been too late.


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