Summary: When Connor's father dies, he still sticks to what he is good at: Quantum Physics.

Rating: PG-13 Language and Adult diolog

Author Notes: Written for the Connor fic-a-thon for Seldear who wanted:

Connor and Angel interaction Post-"Home." Memories or no memories. No pairings.Spoilers up to "Home."

Story Notes: I just want to say I personally know nothing about physics, let alone Quatum physics. I couldn't take physics in high school because I failed chemistry. It's Connor that knows about physics-- I faked it.

Connor poured his father's ashes out of the boat, and watched them fly away in the ocean wind. The funniest things come to mind at a time like this. He should be having deep thoughts about life, love, family, and loyalty. He was just thinking--why. Not- "Why did Dad have to die?" but "Why am I the one to pour out the ashes? Shouldn't we have all been given a little bit?" But, maybe that wasn't right either, dividing dad up like that. You don't know what part of him you had, like maybe someone would have the ashes that were his eyes, and someone else would get his mouth, and then there were even the guts that turned to ashes, right? Who would get the ashes that were his heart? These thoughts that he was having weren't right, and he knew it. Thank God he had that Dylan Thomas poem to read because if he had to speak his thoughts he'd have been screwed. Then Connor thought about Dad's eyes and mouth and heart.

We are the power- the Wolf, the Ram and the Heart.

No, he didn't have to think about that ever, if he didn't want to.

He was lucky like that; he had been given a father with kind eyes, a kind mouth, and a kind heart. Connor's father had never hit him, had never manipulated him, and had only guided him through life. On top of that his father made him feel like that is what he deserved. Connor felt his throat close and his eyes sting. Oh, this was why he made himself think the weird thoughts, right. If he thought the other ones he would lose it, and that wouldn't be good. He was the man of the family now. That sounded really pompous and if his sisters heard him think it they would elbow him in the gut, even though his little sister was now twenty-two. When had that happened? What had Connor been doing when he was twenty-two? Starting grad school, in the only combined physics and philosophy program in the world, trying to figure out the mysteries. He was pretty sure he knew more of them than most people, and he was also pretty sure that meant he knew less than ever.

His older sister Quinn's face looked as hard as stone, like the ocean air was spewing offensive things in her ear and she wasn't going to take it. She went to start up the boat's engine as his little sister, Jolene, untied the sale knot. Jolene's face looked normal as did Connor's mother's, for people at a funeral anyway. Connor wondered what his own face looked like, as he looked out over the water. Did it look like angry stone, like Quinn's? What did they have to be so angry about? They had received the great gift of a good father, a good life. Quinn always responded with anger when the world didn't bend the way she wanted. Connor was "the optimist" in the family. Why shouldn't he be? The boat's engine was having trouble starting.

Some day you'll learn the truth - and you'll hate yourself. Don't. It's not your fault. I don't blame you.

Liar!

Listen to me. I love you! Never forget that…Connor! Connor, never forget that I'm your father and that I love you.

Connor was pretty sure the family optimist shouldn't throw up on the boat. He went over to Quinn, who was muttering under her breath at the old boat engine. Connor was glad she was keeping quiet for Mom's sake.

"Do you need help?" Connor asked.

"I've sailed this thing as much as you!" she snapped, like he knew she would.

"Well, it's been a while…we haven't been on this boat since…since…"

"Since you started college. So, it's been about ten years or so. God! I can't believe it's been that long," his mother said.

"That's why I don't understand why Dad wanted us to do this. He lost interest in sailing a while ago," Quinn said as if this were a family vacation and Dad was downstairs.

"He never lost interest. He just lost time. You all just got as busy as us when you grew-up. You all take after him—over-achievers," Mom smiled sadly. She looked very tired. They say it's worse to lose a child, but Connor never quite got that. He knew it was absolute torture to lose a soul-mate, and he couldn't bear to think of his mother's pain.

"If he were here he would say that he was only an over-achiever to make up for his lack of talent, and that you were the one with talent, and the one we take after," Connor said as he walked over and put his arm around his mother. Her red spirally hair had been blown frizzy as some of it blew over Connor's arm.

"My boy," she gave him that sad smile, "My special boy. Sometimes I wonder where you came from with all this wisdom. You're father said you would save the world. He said you would save the world, and Jo would change it, and Quinn would rule it."

Connor supposed that losing a child would feel worse than losing a soul-mate in a way, because you felt responsible for the child. Connor shook off the idea that he knew anything about children or soul-mates. He never really had either.

"Did he say I'd save the world after Jo-jo changed it and Quinn ruled it like I fixed what they did to the washing machine that time? Dad really knew what he was talking about, Quinn and Jo always have to have everything their own way," Connor joked.

His mother laughed. Jolene walked over and hugged their mother. Connor heard her sobbing like she had a few years back when she had raced to the hospital after Connor had been in a building that mysteriously collapsed. I thought they were lying. I saw the building on TV, and I thought you had to be dead. I thought I was coming here to be told you were dead. She was angry at him after she had stopped crying. She wasn't satisfied with his excuse for being in such a place. Are you buying drugs? Is that why Tracy broke up with you? Was that like a crack-house? He had only teased her and laughed. Now Jolene had real death in her life. Connor's dad wasn't as fortunate to escape death, but he hadn't been in a freak accident. It was his own body that betrayed him. It was unfair.

"It's okay, honey. Daddy was lucky. He knew. He had time enough to make peace with it but not too much time. It was just what he wanted," his mother said to Jolene.

"Still it's not fair," Connor said, "Jo's too young to lose a father."

"Well, listen to the old man," his mother laughed.

"Why do you do that, Connor?" Jolene had stopped crying to scoff, "I am only six years younger than you. "

"Auntie Gertie used to say Connor was an old soul," his mother sighed.

"No, not old. She used to say I had a worn soul, like it had been through the wash a million times," Connor smirked.

"Auntie Gertie was a freaking loon! Jolene, get back to the sail, before we all end up lost at sea." Quinn said impatiently and then she finally got the engine to start.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Connor sat drinking his coffee, and twirling his pencil. So, this guy Rosenberg thought he could best Connor with his theories of Quantum Physics. Let him try. Connor had written the book, fought it, killed it and lived it, baby. He had a new article coming out that would put the ol' Zeno's paradox on its head. He was going to do this all before he turned thirty thank-you very much.

Connor couldn't help but to think of the Zeno effect now. He could prove that the Zeno effect was real right now to anyone because time in this coffee place seemed to be lasting longer as he pretended to be reading this Rosenberg article but he was really waiting. He had used his work as an excuse for a need for time alone. His ex-girlfriend would say it was typical, but his family never seemed to mind. If only everyone understood him the way they did. Maybe it wasn't that they understood him, it was that they didn't demand things of him he wasn't able to give. It was easy to be an optimistic, caring, loyal son and brother when there were so little secrets, lies, and drama. Of course, Connor always did have his secrets, but it never seemed to bother his family much.

They said that Connor had a right to his "Me-time" and they called the times when he grew quiet his "philosopher mode." Somehow that didn't work with the ladies. His girlfriends always ended up accusing him of turning into some distant cold person that he hadn 't been before. It's like you have two faces, the jester and the hanged-man. No, not the hanged man- Death. Marisa had said. She was one of those new-age crystal wearing tarot card reading types. Why Connor had dated her he didn't know. Maybe it was her eyes. They were perfect brown opals. Oh yeah, and she had not freaked when he said he never wanted children. Not like Tracy who he really had—did —love, but she knew she wanted children. What was it with the women in their early thirties and the kid thing? He had always dated older women, partly because of his work, but now that the older women seemed all kid crazy maybe he should reconsider it. That was the last thing Connor needed, getting pushed into having children. They wanted things that Connor couldn't give, the women that is and the children too, Connor supposed.

You still believe in me, don't you? You still love me?

Yes.

You never knew how a kid could turn out. They could be such needy things. Connor always tried to ask as little as possible from his parents….and now dad was gone. Connor knew he had gotten all he had needed, more than he deserved from his father, and he hoped that his father had gotten all he needed from him. His father said he was proud, and that he loved him, and Connor completely believed him. But, he was worried that his father maybe needed something or wanted something from Connor that he didn't realize or that was unspoken because he couldn't put it into words. Was there something missing? If there was Connor would find it, find it in the real world as a physical thing and change it, change it in physics. Maybe his father thought that he was the one that would save the world, but he may have to change some things to do it, change himself.

Connor was disappointed to know his Dad hadn't lived to see this great change, this world saving that he thought Connor would achieve. He was also pretty damn sure that this big thing wasn't happening tonight. As the very atoms of everything around him seemed to move so fucking slowly. Had he only been here a half hour? It felt like years. Connor knew that Rosenberg was respectable competition, but it always amazed him that the dude could get away with writing so many run-on sentences in a professional physics article. It made the stuff exhausting to read. Connor opened his cigarette case, and looked at his distorted reflection in it.

"So…" he said as he looked straight ahead at the girl who was busy journaling and completely out of ear-shot, "I'd think that if you didn't have twelve cars anymore you wouldn't have to take forever to pick one, and you'd be on time."

"Sorry," a voice murmured, "I got held up."

Connor realized along with all scents familiar he smelt the not-human blood. He turned to the man behind him with a frown. He looked up and saw his big ol' face. His mouth looked like it was desperately trying to smile, and all it could manage was to curl a little at the ends. His mouth had a good excuse being a little bruised and bloody. That was his only injury. It wasn't at all serious. It would probably heal up right in front of Connor's eyes, but Connor didn't care about that. Anything that could do that small amount of damage to this guy could probably wipe out half of what he could, which was half the town.

"Shit!" Connor sneered, "What did you drag into my town? We had a deal, Angel. My family—"

"I didn't drag anything here," he was indignant, "It was already here. What do you think? I'm just some kind of instigator for the demon world."

"I'd go more with doom magnet, but yeah. This isn't a demon town. The closest thing we have to vampires are those really annoying retro Goth kids that don't even bother with the white make up," Connor smirked a little. It was always a little funny when you hurt his feelings.

"I'm not a doom magnet," the burly guy sat down and folded his arms, "That thing was here. You should know that demons could be anywhere. It was a big nasty sucker too."

"You're right demons could be anywhere, but there about as likely to settle here as the Hilton family is in East LA. It's dead?" Connor asked with his eyebrows raised.

"Of course," Angel scoffed, "You're smoking?"

"Oh, no. Not in here .Not in this free country. I was about to go outside," Connor said as he stood up already craving the cigarette.

"No, I mean. You're smoking. Since when do you smoke?" Angel frowned.

"Oh, yeah," Connor said, "A little thing I picked up in Germany when I went to mind meld with the big boys in quantum physics over there…Smoking and techno, but I'm kind of sick of techno."

"You—you mind melded with them?" Angel's mouth became a befuddled oval.

"Not literally, chief," Connor chuckled, "We were working on projects. Deconstructing the Bohr Theory and reanalyzing the photoelectric effect."

Connor saw that Angel's mouth was still an oval.

"Basically, we were studying the world, all the stuff in it, and what it will do by breaking it up into itty bitty pieces," Connor said as he slapped around for his lighter.

To Connor's surprise Angel took out a lighter and lit his cigarette. Connor must have been the one to look confused now.

"It's always good to have the secret of fire," he smiled.

"…and to have one of the few things that can kill you all trapped in a metal box. Too bad it's not like that for the rest of us," Connor said.

"Connor," he sighed with all his mellow drama, "I am so sorry about you—your father."

Connor felt like someone was squeezing the inside of his chest all of a sudden. He had forgotten all about dad! He was so caught up in the little dance that he and the big man do when he comes to town, it was like everything was normal. Nothing was normal! He had responsibilities. He had to stay happy, stay reasoned, and take care of his mother and his sisters. Connor felt his hands ball into fists as he felt the nerves behind his eyes burn.

"Is that why you're here?" Connor demanded in a low rumble.

"Well, partly, most—"

"You think you showing up is going to make me feel better, like I still have a father? My father was a great man. It was all the times with him that kept me sane when I remembered your ass," Connor laughed bitterly as he flicked his cigarette towards the vampire and his usual black shirt and coat.

"Hey," his manly brow wrinkled angrily, "I just wanted to see if you were all right."

"No, I'm not all right," Connor said through gritted teeth, "My father died and he was my father. "

"Maybe," Angel said evenly, "but so am I."

"You think that you gave me to him? Well, you're wrong he gave you to me. If it wasn't for him I'd have killed you, never mind being all inviting when you come to visit to tell me the world might be ending or whatever!"

He said this as Angel had already recovered from the punch to the head Connor had given him. He hadn't punched anyone in years, not really. He had pushed that guy in that club, just barely. It was funny how the guy backed off from Connor right away. Connor didn't exactly look menacing. He had managed to put on about fifteen pounds over the years, but he was still "the skinny guy." Maybe that was why he still got carded at 28, even when he had a goatee. It didn't matter what anything looked like, though. All you had to do was split one atom and you could destroy countries, empires. It looked like the skinny twenty-something was hitting the bulked-up twenty-maybe-thirty-something. And, okay maybe it did look like just what would happen if some skinny guy punched a muscle-head, because nothing much happened to Angel.

"Connor," Angel said holding his face, "I am sorry. I came to make you feel better not worse."

"What the hell makes you think you can do that?" Connor asked in a calmer voice, but he was still angry.

Angel wasn't as cocky as he remembered, if Connor had hit him in the face before he would have hit back. Of course, Connor wasn't as cocky as he had been either, how could he be?

"Well, I had to see you. I had to say something," Angel insisted.

"You're obligations to me are over," Connor sneered, "I have a real family now."

"The man you lost will always be your father in this world, but so will I... and... I also came to tell you I need your help."

"You need my help?" Connor laughed now, "I knew this day would come. How much do you need?"

"What?" the big man flinched.

"Like I didn't know that you lost it all when you fought your way out of the corporate life and that you live in a cave," Connor folded his arms.

"I do not need money, and I don't live in a cave! It's a dwelling, I'm the guardian for the world's--- look I get cable there. And, I've been surviving for about 8 of your life times, no longer than that because you've really only been alive for about 10 years so—"

"Yeah and when you did it in style you killed for it, and when you didn't you were in the gutter."

Angel turned his head to the side and looked down. Connor thought he looked like a huge pit bull submitting to a wiener dog, Connor being the wiener dog, because he felt like a dick. He may see Angel sporadically but he knew how to hurt him, and needed little reason. His parents always joked that Connor must have taken all his teen angst out on the things he blew up in his experiments because he had never mouthed off to them. Little did they know that Connor was the experiment, and he unleashed everything on his creator.

"I wouldn't ask for your help if I didn't need it," Angel sighed.

"Don't you know an army of super-girl fighters or something? I told you I was done fighting when that hotel fell, and my sister found out. Unless, don't tell me the world's ending again because of something you set off a hundred years ago," Connor scoffed as he leaned against the brick wall of the coffee shop.

The pink light made everyone's skin look the same, even the people that were walking in and out and eyeing them. Connor supposed he and Angel had the same skin anyway; he had always been pale.

"It's to save a child," Angel said somberly.

"A kid? You need my help to save a kid? That's what you're for. That seems like something you could handle on your own…Look, if you think that you can make me feel better about my dad by coming and saying you need me to hit things, you're wrong. I'm not like you," Connor sighed.

"I'm not. I really need you. It's not just any kid. You might be particularly interested in helping me with this one," Angel said.

"Why?" Connor was only confused for a few seconds until the thought came to him.

"Oh God!" Connor scoffed, "Don't! Don't even tell me that you've been spreading your God damned seed around, and you made another bundle of joy. Didn't you learn from the first time from the train wreck that was me?"

"What? I didn't--- You're not a train wreck," Angel stammered.

"Yeah not now, and it only took a deal with Hell to put me in Heaven here," Connor reminded Angel by throwing his arms out to the peaceful suburbia.

"It's Faith's," Angel stated.

"Faith had nothing to do with the life I have. I know it and you know I know it. It's not that I don't appreciate what you did," Connor said.

"No, the child belongs to Faith."

"Oh, so it's like some special holy child?" Connor asked.

"No," Angel rolled his eyes, "Remember Faith, the girl? Faith the Vampire Slayer. It's her kid that's in trouble."

"Faith," Connor gasped. He hadn't thought of that woman in years, what she did for Angel, what she did for Connor.

She came in and kicked Connor's ass, stopped him from killing Angel and probably ending the world, and then acted like she did nothing but give him a quick training lesson. Connor might have killed her if he had been a better fighter than her. She knew it, but she never would have killed him, or even really hurt him like Angel would with fists. When it was all over, and Connor realized he was wrong all she did was joke and grin. She gave him a shot in the arm. She never looked at him with that pitying mistrustful glare all of Angel's other people had. He was glad to have a few bruises that she left him to remind him that making a mistake just means your one of us. Even after Connor had been given his good life he would dream of the brunette with wild hair and big brown eyes that flashed anger and laughter. She knew how to hurt him just enough.

"How is she?" Connor asked.

"Well, not so good since her kid was taken into some other dimension. She's worked very hard to protect her child, and this is the first time--- She's not taking it well. I'm afraid it's affecting her ability to fight."

"Faith is a mother. I can kind of see that. How long has she been?" Connor asked. He allowed himself to sigh pleasantly and think of Faith wearing a tight black dress and a huge belly her hands on it smiling proudly.

What is it with you and Faith? As if I didn't see the way you look at her!

"About six years. God, has it been that long?" Angel asked himself.

Now Connor's mind was picturing what he knew it would- blood and death and evil manipulation disguised as love. That was the only kind of life he could create.

I guess you can't even be loyal to our bed; let alone our family.

"So, what's wrong? You said the kid is affecting her ability to fight. Is it zapping her power? It's not making her evil is it?" Connor's eyes widened.

"No!" Angel insisted, "She has a totally normal kid, a little precocious maybe. I would never leave the kid around any weapons and anything you cherished. I'm still working on recovering my DVD collection, and a few articles of clothing, but…Faith has a good normal kid when all is said and done."

Angel stepped closer to Connor and almost put his hands on his shoulders when he said that last line. He forgot how Angel lacked subtlety when he was trying so hard to be subtle.

"If I was so good and normal, you wouldn't be here asking for my help to go kill some demons that took Faith's kid. I'm not saying I won't do it, especially if Faith is too down to fight, but what about the other Slayers? There are armies of them, right? Why don't they help Faith?"

"Faith thinks that the more fighters we bring in the more attention will be drawn to the kid, and more dangerous people, and things, will start to get ideas in their heads that she has some sort of prophecy child. Then, we have total chaos on our hands. Groups lining up to kidnap the kid, or make it their Messiah, or make it their ritual sacrifice, or what have you. We're trying to keep this as quiet as possible and if that doesn't work that's when we go to plan B."

"Oh, so you're coming to me before you bring out the big guns? Gee thanks," Connor actually grinned.

"No, you are the big guns. We go from the top down," Angel stated.

"I haven't been fighting in a while, Angel. The last confrontation I had was this summer at Stanford's Quantum Physics Conference defending that the Einstein Podolsky Rosen paradox could be solved, because all events affect each other, no matter how far you run," Connor sighed and ran his fingers through his hair.

"Actually, that whole Einstein Plato-sky paradox thing you just said is why we need you. We only know one other person to manipulate dimensions the way you do, and they never did what you did," Angel said.

"Me?" Connor asked all superiority falling from his face, "Manipulate dimensions? Look I don't think growing up in suburbia when I really grew up in hell is exactly manipulating dimensions. It just requires a certain attitude adjustment. It was you that made it--"

"You ripped through Quar' toth, Connor. You found a way through to me from a place no one was supposed to possibly get out of," Angel told him as if he had forgotten, at times he had.

"I guess even back then I was a physics geek, even though I would never know to call myself that…Well, maybe the geek part, but only because I would bite the heads off things," Connor smiled sadly.

"You're smart, Connor. Special. Nothing could keep you from family, your purpose," Angel said all-too proudly.

"Um, Dad," Connor said as the word passed through him like he breathed out sulfur and burned his throat. He felt his heart beat faster with all the forces, the particles that had been fighting for and against him to say it.

"I ripped through the time-space fabric to kill you. Then my purpose was to be the father of the anti-Christ," Connor swallowed. All that had been easier to say then "Dad."

"I wouldn't call Jasmine the Anti-Christ," Angel shrugged, "She was just another kind of God, albeit not a very good one. Taking away free-will is never a good thing."

"I think I saw that on a bumper sticker up north," Connor smirked.

"We could use your help, Connor. These things took Billy and sealed themselves up in some dimension we can't get to because it doesn't exist with our form of time," Angel said.

"Who told you that?" Connor scoffed, "I bet it was the same people you talked to when you tried to find me in Quar' toth. Look, it doesn't matter if the dimension doesn't coexist with our form of time. Time doesn't matter. Matter matters. You need---"

"Um, son," Angel interrupted softly. "Whoosh!" the thirty-year-old looking guy said as he took his hand and chopped it back quickly over his own head.

"I've never been up on any of this stuff. The last time I was in school the only thing we knew about time was we better not be late for class or the teacher would whip you in front of everyone. I could really use you there with me," Angel said.

"I don't know. We could rescue little Timmy from the well, and he could come out a pissed off teen shooting things at my head," Connor smiled.

To his surprise Angel laughed too.

"Billy is a she, and I doubt she would come out wanting to kill us. You don't seem to be able to convince that kid to do anything let alone brainwash her of something that isn't true," Angel said.

"Well, I wasn't exactly brainwashed," Connor said.

"Yeah, Holtz had you since you were a baby. To be brainwashed you'd have to know the truth in the first place," Angel said.

That wasn't what Connor meant. Holtz had never told Connor anything that wasn't true. Connor's parents had been the most evil vampires that killed Holtz's family and others in brutal ways just for fun. The only way Holtz could get proper revenge was to travel through time until he arrived to a place where his parent's were vulnerable. This place in time was when his parents were no longer evil, trying to redeem themselves and getting ready to have Connor. Holtz decided to take Connor and raise him as his own, because this would give Holtz his revenge with out sinning. Holtz wasn't even taking half of what Connor's parents had taken from him. Too bad Holtz had been such a hard-ass of a dad who had to raise Connor in a hell dimension, because he was never a liar.

"You've been picking up on sarcastic humor with the cable in your cave. You actually laughed at one of my jokes," Connor said.

"Well, I am hanging out with Faith these days and some other people who I'd kill if I didn't have some sort of sense of humor. But, you know that's family for you," Angel sighed.

"So, you want me to save Faith's kid from some dimension like the one I was taken to?" Connor asked as he felt his eyes narrow a bit.

"Look, if you don't want to help, we do have the other resource. They are supposed to be the best, but I thought it would be great if you could both—"

"You know someone better at physics than I am?" Connor asked.

Angel did always seem to befriend talented people. But he had thought that a lot of them had ended up like him, and high-tailed it for the more surface life. Unless, of course, they never got the chance to do that. Connor would be all for devoting his life to the mission, he really would----

"Con! Connor!" a fierce voice called. It was his sister, Quinn.---it just wasn't the time.

Quinn had her hair pulled up in angry pig tales. She had always been short and kind of curvy to his straight lankiness, if a tall person was walking down the street they may not see her there. Then she would step on their toes so they would. She was wearing a Guns 'n' Roses T-shirt. She never threw away her old clothes. She just left them at their parent's house to clutter up everything. Then when she came to visit she wore them, to justify it the clutter. He realized as she stomped up to him in her almost twenty year old T-shirt that she really hadn't changed much at all since she was a teenager. She had always bothered him at the worst of times, and she only came when she wanted something. Her face hadn't changed much either. It was one of those cute elf-like faces that would be cute minus the constant sneering. She looked young despite herself. Still a pissed off teenager, now just a thirty year old one. Poor Quinn. She was the one that always wanted to go somewhere different, be someone different, and time kept bringing her back here. She had no idea how lucky she was.

"Hi, I'm sorry to bother you," Quinn said looking up at Angel and not Connor. Their difference in height was so ridiculous that they could have easily looked like father and child if Quinn wasn't so womanly shaped.

"Angel, this is my sister Quinn," Connor said stiffly and looked only at Quinn so she would know to go away. "Quinn this is Angel."

"I'm sorry about your father," Angel said.

"Oh thanks. What can you do? I've seen you before. You must be one of Connor's friends from Stanford. He never got out of the academic life, too good at it, I guess. You could have come to the funeral," she said.

This was polite for Quinn. Actually, Quinn was never this polite. People seemed to pick up manners around Angel for some reason. They thought he was the guy in charge. Maybe it was because he looked like a bouncer. If Connor had been talking to some old high school friend Quinn wouldn't have acknowledge their presence. Maybe it was because Angel looked the way he did. Even women like Quinn noticed, the ones that said they didn't like clean-cut manly men. Maybe every woman really wanted a clean cut broad shouldered manly man, no matter what they said. Oh, if Quinn knew he thought that she would so kick his ass.

"I need the gym membership card and it's on your keychain," Quinn said to Connor.

"Why didn't you ask Jolene?" he asked.

"Well, I can't when she does nothing but sleep and I have no idea where her keys are… And don't even tell me to ask Mom. She's got it into her head to organize all the photo albums by year or activity or color coordinating our outfits or something. They're like a mother and daughter act Ms. Mania and her lovely young daughter Depressa," Quinn grumbled.

"And you're going to the gym and doing nothing about this?" Connor scoffed.

"What can I do? Sit around and smoke with my friends like you," she snapped, "Actually, that isn't a bad idea. Give me one of those."

She went into his pockets with her grubby hands and took his case and lighter. It was like when she would grab away the game-boy.

"It was nice meeting you kind of. Actually, don't bother meeting the rest of us, we're all crazy. Connor is the only sane one left," she said to Angel and went to her used VW to smoke. Connor could see that her eyes were not leaving him and Angel, only because he was Connor.

"I guess this isn't a good time. Your… sister—"

"Is always a bitch at anytime. It was stupid to think that with Dad…That she would be any different," Connor sighed.

Yes, Dad was dead. Dad was dead, and Connor knew there was no resurrecting his real Dad, or his good Dad. So, why should his sister be any different? Why should Angel be any different? He said he came to say something about Dad, but now he needs help. Connor found he wanted to hit Angel again. Maybe he was really stuck in a time loop.

"Well, I think she needs your help," Angel said.

"Yeah, I guess so," Connor sighed, "I am kind of the initiator around here. I get things on track—like Wes… Of course, the biggest thing I've ever had to get on track before this was getting my little sister to finally talk to Quinn again after she said Orlando Bloom was gay."

"This is the first time they have dealt with death," Angel said in some sort of realization.

"Oh, no," Connor scoffed, "Are you kidding? Do you know how many kids OD or go suicidal here in paradise? Especially if your idiots like Quinn's friends, and My Mom's friend died of cancer. And of course there were our Grandparents….Of course, Dad is totally different. It's like we lost our anchor and we're out sailing around in the ocean."

Connor took a breath and stopped talking abruptly. He really shouldn't mention the ocean in front of Angel. It was in bad taste, and Connor was always known for his manners. He scowled at his own thoughts. This was Angel. What had Angel known him for?

"My father," Connor said emphatically, "Said he was lucky. He said everybody dies, but he got to do it in a way where it wasn't a surprise, and where he could look back at his whole life and be happy, and not see any wasted years. 'No one here gets out alive,' He said. It's funny how the people that deserve to live forever rarely know it's an option."

"Sometimes it feels like my whole life has been about death. There were so many times I thought I was going to die. There were times I tried to die. Maybe my death is meant to be a surprise. I've lost so many people, I wish I could be surprised about that," Angel sighed.

Damn! Now Connor felt bad. That wasn't fair. He was trying to hurt Angel's feelings again, but he never thought Angel would bring the others into it—their deaths. He would be angry at the big man, but he didn't think he was capable of doing this kind of emotional manipulation intentionally. Angel had not had sisters, or if he had them it had been far too long ago.

"Faith's little girl, if I don't help will she die?" Connor asked.

"I don't think so. They seem to have some plan of wanting her alive. Otherwise, she'd be dead already, " Angel said. Sometimes that was worse, a plan for a child to use them for your own selfish means.

"I am confident that we can save her with the other person we have. They are the most powerful witch in the world after all. I keep forgetting that," he seemed to laugh.

"Magic," Connor said with bitter happiness, "I knew if someone was better at manipulating physics theory as well as me something had to be up!"

"Maybe there is a fine line between physics and magic," Angel said.

"No, there is no price in physics—science, only controllable side affects," Connor scoffed. He knew what he was saying was bullshit and he expected to be called on it.

"Well, I'm the last person to know. Accept I do know everything has a price," Angel sighed.

He didn't really know what a lie Connor was telling about physics. It wasn't as if Angel was a fellow physicist that could discuss the Rainy Theory with him, and how trying to freeze one moment of time would make the earth stand still.

Everything did have a price. Connor saw Quinn still smoking his cigarette in her car. She looked bitter. He had kept her waiting when she wanted something from him. That always had a price with his big sister.

Dad wouldn't like this. Connor was leaving his sister alone in a car and it was getting late. Bad things could happen at night, even here. His sister would tell him to fuck off. If something was going to happen what could Connor do about it anyway? Quinn would want to know. Too bad he could never really show her.

"I have to go…my sister," Connor said.

"She isn't really your sister. I'm not---Oh…Oh. Your sister, yes," Angel stammered ended with false confidence.

Connor looked straight into Angel's eyes for a moment.

"Now is not a good time, but give me a way to reach you about Faith's little girl and I'll see what I can do," Connor said.

"Of course," Angel said stoically.

Connor got into the car on the driver's side next to his sister. Quinn seemed to look off at nothing, but then Connor realized she was looking at Angel walking away.

"Here's the gym pass," Connor said as he took the stupid magnet thing off his keys. He didn't even know why he had it. He never went. He had gained some needed weight over the years by drinking whole milk and eating lots of red meat to Quinn's disgust and maybe jealousy.

"I don't want it anymore it's too late," She said, "I will take another cigarette though."

Connor was going to defend himself by saying if she wanted the gym pass she should have just taken it right away in front of Angel instead of coming back here to stare at him.

"He seems like a nice guy. Different from the rest of your mad scientist friends," was all Quinn said.

"He seems like a lot of things," Connor sighed.

"I'm on to you, you know," Quinn seemed to smile sadly.

"What?" Connor panicked. He hadn't been afraid of this since he was 21, that Quinn would somehow find out that there was a sort of truth to all her cruel jokes that he was adopted and his real parents were aliens.

"You aren't as together as you seem," Quinn said, "You come out here telling Mom your going to do work and then you unleash all your stuff on your mystery man."

I don't even know what I am.

I do. You're a daddy. And daddies need to take responsibility, Connor. You need to face the fact that we're special.

"What?" Connor was only a little less panicked.

"I saw you yelling at him, and then you slugged him. Lucky for him you never hit anyone in your life," Quinn laughed, "But, I guess that's how it is with you two. The poor bastard just takes it. He must get off on it. Still, you should treat him better, at least bring him around the house. You know Mom won't care. Anything her golden boy does is great. She' ll probably act like you discovered homosexuality and brag to all her friends that you invented a whole new way of life."

"What? Oh God. Oh God, Quinn! Couldn't you have picked a less disgusting way to be wrong? Couldn't you have thought I was a commie spy or something? Why does everything have to be below the waste?"

Connor had been outraged, but now he was laughing more in relief than amusement.

"Yeah. You a commie spy, like you would actually break any laws. Well, I guess now you are smoking, maybe you've finally reached your rebellious stage in your late twenties. You always were a late bloomer."

"I guess I should be like you and permanently stuck in my rebel with out a clue stage?"

Surprisingly, she didn't say anything, but just looked straight ahead and smoked.

"You really should get back to the house. They are both still awake, you know? Mom with the photo albums; Jo with the zombie like TV watching," Quinn said as she turned to him.

"Why didn't you try to do something? Aren't you a counselor?" Connor sighed.

"I'm an Art Therapist," she snapped. It always amazed him that somewhere someone was crazy enough to pay her to help them with their craziness.

"Well, couldn't you have asked them to express their grief in interpretive dance?" he mused.

"Good job," Quinn said, "Someone has to take the place of Dad in making fun of my career."

"You don't know how lucky you are to have had Dad to take an interest in what you do, let alone pay for it," Connor said.

"But that's just it. I do. I do know. When I worked in county you couldn't imagine the horrible things I saw. The fucked up kids that looked stellar compared to the families they came from. Growing up here I was bored out of my mind, so I hung out with all the freaks because at least they weren't boring," Quinn said.

"And here I thought you just had a thing for guys with long hair or Mohawks," Connor smiled. He was surprised by the way she was talking. He had expected her to get defensive and talk about how it sucked being her.

"You are so much like dad," she said, "You should have seen what was going on with all the people I hung out with in high school, with their parents, their lives. People think nothing bad ever happens here, that kids just go bad because they are spoiled or because their parents worked too much. There is just as much evil here as anywhere else. Maybe more, because it's so well hidden."

"We didn't have any evil, or bad problems in our family," Connor felt all the capillaries in his face drain. Then he looked away from his sister and laughed. "You just like to be dramatic about the few problems we---"

"That's what I'm saying," she said quietly, "I know that, but I always felt…I feel—removed—somehow. From this family, from this whole life, like I don't fit in it, like I was never meant to be here. I always felt like I was visiting from some other place, a harder place---"

"You always seemed to be on a different planet," Connor joked shakily. Things were still under control she was talking about herself not him, after all.

"You don't know how lucky you are, Con. You always knew how to make yourself fit in. I know how it is for you though. I remember seeing you in school, people would start in on you for being smart and not playing sports—god forbid. You always knew what to give them to get them to back off, or make them like you. You always knew how to belong," she said.

Connor had no witty response for this. Most people didn't analyze him. He didn't give them a reason to. His girlfriends had analyzed him, and had been given reasons, and he was no longer with any of them.

Why'd you leave me? Did you hate me that much?

Baby, no. I wanted to be with you more than anything.

"I really hope you know that Dad would have loved you no matter what. He would have loved you if he knew you were gay. It might not have been perfect, but so what? You don't have to put on a big show all the time. You can let people know who you really are," She was crying.

She rarely cried. She had cried some when Dad was talking to her about how he was going to die, but not like this. She may have cried like this when Bono died.

"Quinn, I'm not gay!" he laughed.

"Oh come on!" she snapped now, "That strapping dude starts showing up right around the time you go off to Stanford. He only comes around when you think no one else is going to be around, and he is always looking miserable about the whole thing. He's always lurking around every major event. He was at all your graduations, that play you were in during college, and now with Dad! You think I'm an idiot, Connor?"

"He was at the play?" Connor asked.

"Yes!" Quinn scoffed, "You really were the best non-pro Hamlet I've ever seen, little brother. Of course, you are great at everything you try, but you totally should have pursued acting more."

"Nah," he said, "The whole Hamlet thing freaked me out. I got too sucked into the role and--- I'm not gay, really."

"Then who is he?" Quinn rolled her eyes, "I used to think you were his boy-toy and he was way too old for you, but it's clear you have the upper hand. He's got it bad for you and you—"

"Quinn, I'll pay you to stop," Connor shuddered, "Look, he's—he's... You wouldn't believe me if I told you, but if I could tell one person I would tell you."

He found he meant this. If he could tell Quinn he would. She wouldn't treat him any differently, if anything she would understand and respect him more.

"What is so horrible you can't tell? Look, I've known about this for years, and I' ve said squat to anyone, so you might as well just admit it. You'll be surprised how much better you'll feel."

It's okay, Baby. Let it go.

"You remember that building that fell and Jo thought I was in it?" he asked.

"Yeah, leave it to you to have everything come crashing down around you and you're fine," she sighed.

"That was him. I mean that's what I do for him. He came to me when I was in school and asked for my help with stuff--- with physics. He's—he's part of this independent militant group that takes down evil corporations. He's the head of it," Connor said.

"So, what do you do? Blow stuff up for them like that building?" Quinn asked her pale forehead wrinkling.

"Yeah, exactly, and I do other stuff too. Figure out what weapons the corporations are developing, stay one step ahead of them, stuff like that," he said.

Quinn would be fond of this explanation, her little brother fighting Big Brother. She was one of those people that boycotted Starbucks and believed in right-wing conspiracies. Maybe he could actually make her proud.

"Oh, God!" she said, "Who do you think I am --Jolene? I'm not going to believe anything you say…What was up with you being in a collapsed building anyway?"

"I just told you. Physics. We were fighting evil, an evil corporation. Quinn, do you remember when I graduated and the government came to me to work for them and I said 'no.'?" he asked as he quickly wove together this new reality for her to live in.

"You mean when they came to you to build bombs so they could blow up more kids in the Middle East? Yeah. It didn 't take a PHD to see that was wrong and something you should have refused," she said in her don 't-expect-any-credit-for-turning-down-a-billion-dollar-deal-from-me-tone.

"Well, did it ever occur to you that there was another side to work for? The side that was stopping the people from blowing up the children, and that they would come to me too? And that this would all have to be top secret X-file kind of stuff," he said patiently.

"Don't tell me that guy is Molder?" Quinn laughed, "He looks like the type. I loved that show. It made high school tolerable. Dad and I never missed an episode. It was our bonding thing. You were too scared of it, wuss."

"Well, he is kind of like Molder, actually, and I'm one of those nerd guys he goes to for help," he said.

Yes, Quinn would believe that. She saw him as a nerd, or so she said, but hadn't she just said he always fit in? She always had been quite an ambivalent person; Connor understood. He was always patient with her.

"At least this is cheering me up," she laughed, "Like Molder would ever have a tiff with one of the dead presidents and they would show up at his Dad's funeral. God damn it, Con! There is nothing wrong with being gay. You can do it now a days and still be considered Mr. Average Nice Guy."

"Actually, those guys did come to Molder's dad's funeral, and they did have disagreements," Connor said. Quinn just stared at him now.

"I caught a lot of the reruns in college. They were on at 2am when I would be done at the lab. It was a good show. Maybe a bit mellow dramatic. But, it did show how people involved in underground grassroots movements are much more emotionally involved with each other than the cold malevolent powers above them," he said emphatically.

"You want me to believe that you—Connor Fox, my little brother is involved in an underground movement to overthrow the U.S. Government?" she demanded.

"Well, we don't actually want to overthrow the government, just keep it good. Keep everything good, " he said.

"Well good luck," she laughed.

"We do what we can. But, I don't recommend working for the people you are trying to take down, even if you have your reasons, that never works out," he said carefully.

"Yeah, that was always my biggest problem with the X-files. Why were they working for the FBI? I mean, cigarette smoking man was their boss," Quinn shook her head.

"You think you could take something down from the inside, and sometimes coming pretty damn close does some good. Remember that Wolfram and Hart collapse years ago? It may not have started a socialist state, but it opened up a lot of free industry, maybe even stopped a couple of wars. I thought you kept track of who all those CEOs were," Connor said.

"The Fortune 500 bastards, yeah. They don' t change much. Accept that one that was in that Wolfram and Hart mess. He came out of nowhere all young and cocky and then he must have felt really stupid when he caused the--- Oh…. Oh God!" Quinn opened her mouth and what was now her 3rd cigarette fell out of it and landed on the gear shift.

"He doesn't photograph well, I know," Connor said smugly.

"I thought—I thought they would have him killed," she whispered.

"Don't think they didn't try," Connor said. So, his sister was finally proud of him. All it took was the closest version of the truth he could ever tell.

"Connor, I don't like this!" she yelled, "You have to stop this. You have to stop this now."

She grabbed his hand squeezing it in a way that should have probably hurt him.

"I mean are you an idiot?" she snapped.

Who's been filling your head with big, confusing words?

"No!" he snapped, "If I was an idiot I'd be building bombs, wouldn't I?"

"No! Being an idiot is getting involved in this at all with your big brain in a big way with either side of it," she said.

"Well, I picked the right side, didn't I? I just didn't sit there, like you accused mom and dad of doing. I'm not a lazy liberal," he said.

"Oh great! Now you're going to say this was my influence! You don't have to go off and become some revolutionary and risk your neck. You could just donate money, or protest the World Trade Organization with a sign. Why do you always have to be an over achiever at EVERYTHING? Couldn't you have just been gay?"

"This is nothing to be jealous over. You wouldn't want to be involved in this, believe me," he said.

"You got that right! I am not jealous. I'm pissed. This has been going on since you were 18? I should kick that guy's ass. Don't you understand, Connor? Nothing can happen to you. Not now. Not ever. You think Mom and Jo are going crazy now? You would just do that-- wouldn't you? Go and get killed and say it was my influence."

Don't worry, Cordy. I'll always protect you. And our family.

He could tell his sister it had nothing to do with her, but maybe it did. There was that damn Einstein Podolsky Rosen paradox . Maybe if Connor didn't have memories of his rebellious restless sister he'd never want to rejoin Angel in the mission. The whole truth would make her feel proud and depressed, so she would be right where she was now, only more confused.

"Maybe that is what you're for. Someone in my family to inspire me to fight," he said.

"So, it's not enough I'm an inspiration. You want me to cover for you to Mom and Jo so they don't go into some coma with worry," she said.

"That's the idea," he said.

"Isn't that what you're for? You cover for me so they don't worry about me," she said.

"So, return the favor. Just this once now. Take care of them, and I'll be back in a few," he promised.

"What are you going to do?" she asked.

"Save a little girl," Connor said.

"What? That makes no sense. Is she in a sweat shop or something? You don't have to glamorize what you are doing for me; I am not Mom. Even if you are doing something harsh I know it'll be the right thing."

I feel the pain, the anger, the hurt, like it were my own. But most of all, I feel the good in you and no matter how much you're beaten or twisted or lied to, it's still there in your heart. I know it, and deep down, you know it, too.

He rolled his eyes. He knew he would have to explain more- make up some alternate version of reality that made sense to her. He knew Quinn, and what would make sense to her. He had grown up with her after all, or had remembered growing up with her.

You can't be my mother.

I have her memories, her feelings. Isn't that what makes a person who they are?

He wasn't sure he had the time to explain everything to Quinn. However, Connor was always bending realities and time. That was what he was for.

End