Chosen One: A Swiftly Falling Darkness
epilogue: the questions no-one answers
As he drove home in the evening twilight, Angel wondered.
Mostly, he wondered about his son.
From the moment he woke up two days ago, still sporting a headache from the plank of wood that had made intimate acquaintance with his skull, Connor had never been far from his thoughts.
That night, he'd only glimpsed his son, sword in hand, fighting vampires as though the last three months had never happened and Connor was just one more of their gang. Something in Angel had lurched at the sight and his attention had wavered from his opponents.
The next night, he'd gone back to the empty, hollow church, trying to confirm the scattered fragments of his memories. Connor's scent still lingered there, although now it was mere traces in the dust and ash of the vaulted building. His memory was good, he had not been seeing things.
Angel had stopped at his son's university campus and tracked Connor down.
In the chilling autumn night, he found Connor exactly where the young man was supposed to be. The bar was noisy with the crash and bang of the band, and full of milling students. Connor stood among his friends, drinking soda without a care in the world beyond partying and chatting up the girl who stood under his arm. A typical teenaged boy.
Connor was where he was supposed to be.
So why had he been at the church the other night?
The others hardly remembered Connor's presence at the church. And Wolfram and Hart's Senior Partners had done their work well. They didn't remember Connor as Connor - just as a strange boy who'd turned up and interrupted Wesley before he could get any useful information out of the vampire.
There were no answers for his questions about Connor, and he was having little more luck with Faith.
The young woman had spent most of the last two days asleep. Probably recovering from her ordeal, although Angel could conceive that it might be an avoidance tactic of some kind.
Fred called his office today at lunchtime, with the news that Faith was up and about the house. "She seems okay," the young woman said, nervously. "Of course, I don't know what she's usually like, but...she seems very quiet. Or maybe she just doesn't want to talk to me."
Angel couldn't say one way or the other, but he reassured Fred anyway.
He drove down the cul-de-sac of palatial homes, and as he approached, the gates of the estate swung open. He slipped the car through before the gates were fully open, carefully judging the space either side of the car, and a minute later he was down in the garage, parking the Mustang among the plethora of other cars that were a part of his 'perks' as the CEO of Wolfram and Hart.
As he closed the access door behind him and started up the stairs, Angel wondered if Faith was still at the house, or if she'd fled. Being Faith, she might very well have decided to move on, and Angel still didn't know what had brought her to LA.
Halfway up the stairs, he went into his rooms and dumped the things he'd brought back from the office. He changed from his work suit to a more comfortable shirt and slacks, before continuing up the stairs to the main body of the house. Strains of Beethoven's stormy Fifth Symphony caressed his ears; Wesley's choice of music was dark and moody, and as he reached the lobby, Angel realised why.
Two people had argued here, their voices raising in protest and recrimination. Their emotion had given their scents potency, and the sense of their disagreement lingered on. Angel winced at the bitter taste of Fred's disappointment, at the cold ash of Wes' withdrawl.
He couldn't say he was surprised; this storm had been a while coming. But the fallout from it... Well, Angel wasn't good enough to predict that. Nor fool enough to try.
The ghostly tatters of slow-fading emotion clung to him as he walked through them and into the living room. Wesley sat on the couch amidst a flutter of translation notes.
"Anything interesting?" Angel asked, more out of politeness than actual concern.
Wesley looked up, "It would depend on whether you find Ancient Thynixol texts interesting."
"Is Faith still around?"
At least Wesley knew him well enough not to be offended at the lack of small talk. Angel felt a pang of loss as he remembered Cordelia berating him for his refusal to 'make nice' to clients and other people she deemed important back in the early days of Angel Investigations.
"She's upstairs," Wesley said. Then, as Angel nodded and turned on his heel to go upstairs, he added, "Actually, she's on the roof."
Angel turned back. "On the roof?"
"Yes." The former Watcher's expression held an element of exasperation in it. "She's been there since before I arrived home."
"What's she doing on the roof?"
Wesley sat back in his couch. "I'd say she's looking for specific company," he surmised. "You're the only one of us who can easily get up there, and even then, you'd only go out there after the sun has set." He glanced back down at his notes as if the topic was dismissed, but Angel could feel his irritation at Faith's reluctance to speak with him.
It seemed that Angel would be the first one to really talk to Faith about where she'd been these last few months.
Maybe that was just as well.
He found her sitting on the apex of the roof, staring out over the valley in crepuscular twilight.
As he drew level with her on the tiling, she didn't move, didn't speak, didn't look away from whatever held her attention in the evening breeze. So Angel took his place on the roof beside her, but let the silence sit at her convenience.
The valley was a midnight blanket of sparkles beneath them before she spoke. The evening breeze had picked up, blowing across the roof and dragging her long, dark hair with it.
"I thought you guys were dead." She turned her head, and the pale oval of her face was clearly visible beneath the wasted crescent of the desert moon. "I went to the Hyperion and it was empty."
"We moved out shortly after we took control of Wolfram and Hart."
"Fred said." The dark eyes studied him, "So how's the world of corporate evil going?"
He shrugged, "Slowly converting to corporate good."
"Is there such a thing as corporate good?"
"We're working on it." He met her gaze, studying her, willing to be studied in return.
Angel had a specific interest in Faith.
For the redemption of one tormented, haunted girl, he'd defied Buffy Summers, Cordelia Chase, and Wesley Wyndham-Pryce in one fell swoop. In payment for his act of mercy, she'd hunted Angelus down so Angel could regain his soul and regain his life.
Turn and turn about, mirrored reflections and camera angles; Angel saw his own self in Faith, seeking redemption, finding only distrust. He'd been lucky enough to win Buffy's trust, but Faith had been on the outside in Buffy's circle.
Angel had been determined that she didn't need to be on the outside to him, even if Wesley and Cordelia seemed determined to tar and feather her. So he'd visited her in prison, given her a connection to the outside world, made sure she knew one person cared about her.
He'd never seen her like this.
Now, she was cloaked in a weariness that was at odds with everything Angel had ever seen in her. Even at the edge of desperation, Faith always possessed a knife-edged passion that cut through cloaking obfuscations and went straight to the bone.
That passion was missing now. Without it, her customary technicolour vivacity was a mere smear of grey.
"What are you going to do now?"
It seemed that this was all the answer he was going to get to that question right now. Possibly, it was all the answer she had for him.
It wasn't the answer he wanted.
And it wasn't the question he really wanted to ask, either. He really wanted to ask about Connor, why his son had been there, whether Faith knew him and did she remember him?
He didn't. Not yet. Soon, but not yet.
Angel didn't know what had brought her to LA, and his senses told him now was not the time to talk about it. It would come from her in time. And all he needed was her time.
So he made the offer. "You're more than welcome to stay here for as long as you're in LA."
She snorted, half-amused at some thought she chose not to share with him. "You sure about that?"
The amusement leached from her, leaving her dark like the night. Her gaze turned back out over the city. "I don't know what I'm going to do." It was an admission of uncertainty, and, in that uncertainty, one of trust.
Angel was warmed by the trust, but he wondered how far it would extend. "Will you stay until you do?"
The answer was a long time coming, until he wondered if she would even answer it at all.
"Yeah." Her voice was a whisper, barely audible in the evening stillness. "I'll stay. For a while."
It was answer enough.
They sat there, on the roof, together; staring out over the bright, barbarous city.
- fin -
AUTHOR'S NOTES 2: I started this as an 8-story series, but have neither the time, nor the ability to finish all 8 parts. Since Angel and Buffy finished, I have little inclination to write in these fandoms, for which I am sorry. It certainly didn't help coming late to the fanfic in this area, either. I may finish the second story in the series over time, but I can't guarantee the rest.