What the hell?
Summary: Why Connor came back. Takes place during NFA.
Disclaimer: None of this belongs to me. It is all Joss Whedon's, Mutant Enemy, 20th Century Fox, Warner Brothers and all that jazz.
Connor looked over the materials he had spread out in front of him, trying to figure out the path of least resistance. He i hated /i writing up a resume. It seemed so bogus—like you were making stuff up to show off, but most of the summer internships he was applying for required one, so he had no choice. He had a pamphlet from career services that had a couple samples in it, so he figured that was probably the best way to go. He had just started making a "skills" list when he realized that someone had approached his table.
Pretty much all capability for rational thought went out the window as he regarded the man in front of him. "Hey," Connor returned awkwardly, unable to hide his surprise.
"Can I join you?" Angel gestured at the empty chair across from him.
"Sure," Connor replied, busying himself by leaning forward and removing all of the papers he had scattered across the table to give Angel some more room. "So," he tried for casual as he slumped back into his seat "what's up?"
"Not much. Just was in the area and thought I'd drop by to say hi." Angel gave him a small smile.
Connor could tell by his tone that Angel was trying to keep it casual as well. Connor decided to play along. They talked about the mundane for a little while—Connor asking about work, Angel about school. Then Angel offered up that he was dating someone—a werewolf someone—and Connor knew he had to tease him about that one. As he watched Angel squirm and get defensive when Connor called him on having no sense of humor, Connor realized that to the casual observer, it looked like he was talking to a buddy, or maybe a grad student. Angel only looked a few years older than himself. He studied Angel's face, noting that he looked nothing like him. But then, Angel quirked a smile and Connor had a weird sensation that he was looking in a mirror.
"I know you're my father," he blurted out.
Angel took this in for a second. "You got your memories back." It was more of a statement than question. Angel already knew.
"Yeah, they're mixed in there with the new ones. Kinda like a bad dream I had, I guess. A very strange and violent, at times…inappropriately erotic…dream." He looked into Angel's eyes, wanting to gauge his reaction.
"You probably have a lot of questions," Angel tried, but was cut off by Connor shaking his head.
"No…I don't want to make a thing. I get what you did. And I'm grateful. But that's as far as I want to take it…ok?" He watched Angel carefully, but instead of the hurt or sadness he expected, there was a look of resignation.
After a pause, Angel attempted a return to the casual, "So, whatcha working on?"
Connor explained about the resume writing, which internships he was applying for, how classes were going—all normal stuff. The conversation never veered back to serious topics again. Soon, 30 minutes had passed, and Angel moved to go.
"Sorry…I gotta go. Work stuff," Angel explained apologetically as he stood.
Connor nodded sympathetically, standing as well, and offered his hand to Angel. "Thanks for dropping by."
Angel took one long last look at Connor. He seemed like he was about to say something else but thought the better of it and instead gave Connor a smile and walked away.
Connor watched him go before slumping into his chair. He stared blankly at the pamphlets in front of him for a good long while before submitting that he wasn't going to get any more work done today. His mind was reeling. He gathered up his papers and stuffed them into his bag, slung it over his shoulder, and headed out.
Campus was bustling with people trying to get to class on time, but Connor had another hour to kill before Ancient Civs. He walked slowly, trying to avoid eye contact. His mind kept trying to go to places he didn't want to let it. He had developed a game with himself—whenever his mind wanted to travel back to his old memories, he would call up a very specific memory of his childhood, in the hopes of forcing it out. Most times it worked, but it was becoming increasingly more difficult.
He remembered the day when his parents brought Erin home from the hospital. He was six, and his Aunt Beverly had been watching him. He was standing on a dining room chair at the front window, his nose pressed to the glass watching for the family car to pull into the driveway. He saw the station wagon pull in, and he jumped off the chair and yelled joyfully, "They're here!" as he ran to the front door.
He pulled it open, and the sky was blood red. He struggled against the bindings that held him to the tree. His face was streaked with tears, "Daddy, please!" he begged, "Did I do something wrong?"
Connor shook his head to clear it, and began walking again.
He ran to the car, and threw open the door. There was mommy with a new baby in her arms. Connor leapt forward to hug Mommy, but Daddy came from around the car and swept him up into his arms.
"You have to be brave, Steven." His father stood in front of him, a stern look on his face. "You need to learn to hunt and to track if you are to survive this world. And if it is God's will, you will find me again." His body was wracked with sobs as he futilely attempted to struggle against the bonds.
"No!" Connor actually said out loud, drawing a few looks. He had stopped. He blinked his eyes a few times, forcing himself to remember again.
"You have to be careful with the new baby, Connor." Daddy leaned down so Connor could see the small bundle in Mommy's arms. She looked wrinkly and pink. He gently reached out a finger to touch her. Her skin was so soft. "Meet your new sister, Erin," Mommy said.
Connor heard someone approaching him from behind. "Hey, Reilly!" his roommate Mark yelled as he jogged up, slightly out of breath. "Dude, I called you like five times."
Connor was embarrassed. "Uh, sorry about that. I guess I was someplace else."
"Yeah, I could tell. Was it more fun than here?" Mark kidded.
"Not so much," Connor admitted. "You going to Ancient Civs? I'm thinking about skipping."
"Yeah, me too. That's what I was coming to tell you, that Ryan and Tommy and the guys were thinking of a little pickup basketball instead. You in?"
"Sure," Connor shrugged, "why not?" He figured that was probably the best way to get his mind off of things.
It was 3-on-3. He, Mark and Scott versus Ryan, Tommy, and Jason. It would be a fair match. Connor had promised himself soon after finding out that about his powers that he would only use them if he absolutely needed to. Like when fighting vamps. He had run into a few, although Palo Alto was nothing like LA. If he was being totally honest with himself, it was less "ran into" and more "went hunting for", but he wasn't letting himself think those thoughts.
Connor allowed himself to play decently, but they were getting creamed because Tommy was playing dirty. Lots of shit talking and shoving. Connor decided to up the ante a tiny bit and start playing with a little of his ability. He soon was mopping the floor with them all.
"Shit, Reilly, you been holding out on us all this time?" Scott asked him breathlessly, trying to keep up.
"Yeah, seems like we got ourselves a ringer," Tommy spat accusingly. He seemed to take this as his cue to fight harder and rougher. He threw a couple of elbows Connor's way and even went so far as to try and trip him, but Connor easily avoided him.
"Jesus! Take it easy!" Mark yelled at Tommy, but he was ignored.
Connor made to move in for a lay-up, and Tommy punched him in the arm. Hard. Connor dropped the ball and pushed Tommy back. It wasn't hard by Connor's standards, but it was much harder than a human could have managed. Tommy went flying backwards, crashing into the side wall and sliding down the mat padding. He hit the floor with a thud.
"Oh shit!" Connor felt panicked and instantly filled with regret. He ran over to Tommy. "Jesus, man," he reached out to give Tommy a hand up, "I'm so sorry."
Tommy batted his hand away, "Get the fuck away from me, freak!"
Connor's eyes went wide and his face crumpled. He didn't look at the others as he jogged out of the gym to the locker room.
Connor slammed his locker open forcefully and pulled his street clothes out. He angrily tossed one of his shoes into the locker with a bang. "Shit," he said to himself, and sat there motionless for a bit.
His mind returned to the earlier events of the day. Why did Angel just decide to "drop by" for some coffee? Connor was having enough trouble trying to forget his old life without reminders popping up in real time. Another thought started to form in his mind, but Mark came into the locker room breaking his reverie.
"You alright, dude?" Mark asked, concern etched on his face.
"Yeah, sorry about that." Connor ran a hand through his hair. "He ok?"
"He got what he deserved, you ask me. He's a prick," Mark grinned at him. "How'd you do that, anyways?"
"Dunno." Connor looked down, unable to make eye contact.
"You're not…" Mark started, waiting for Connor to look up at him, "on drugs, are you?"
Connor barked out a laugh. "I wish!" Then off of Mark's unconvinced look, "No. I'm not on drugs. I swear." He held up his hand.
Mark chuckled a little. "Yeah. Didn't think so."
Connor nodded in the affirmative. "Yeah, hiding a meth lab in a dorm room is trickier than it looks."
Mark gave him a half smile. "K…well, I got class in 10 minutes, so I better jet. Dinner at 5?"
"Yeah…sounds good." Connor was pulling off his second sneaker as Mark left, and tossed it into the locker with its mate. He sighed audibly, and sat in silence again, his thoughts returning to Angel's visit. It didn't make sense. Angel had sacrificed an awful lot to give Connor this new life, a thought that had often plagued him late at night. He wouldn't want to jeopardize that by making some casual visit….
Connor sat bolt upright. Angel didn't do casual. He wasn't the little moments kind of guy. He was the big moments kind of guy. He wouldn't have dropped by to have coffee if he didn't have a reason. Connor hurriedly pulled on his street shoes and pulled the laces with unnecessary force, causing one to break. "Fuck!" Connor said to the half shoelace in his hand. He hurriedly finished getting dressed, and slammed his locker shut. He looked at his watch as he left the gym. Almost 2PM. If he left now, he would make it to LA by sundown.
By the time he got to Wolfram & Hart, Angel was lying on the ground looking pummeled and some big guy was looming over him with a stake. Connor swung as hard as he could, knocking the guy through the glass window of Angel's office. He held his hand out to Angel to help him up.
"What the hell are you doing here?" Angel asked somewhat shakily as he stood.
"Come on. You drop by for a cup of coffee and the world is not ending? Please." Connor snarked back. Angel tilted his head and rolled his eyes, conceding Connor's point.
They fought in concert after this, driving the big guy back. Connor vaguely realized their movements were perfectly mirrored. They anticipated each other like dancers. Not that it was doing them a lot of good, as the big guy clearly had them outmatched. He headbutted Connor and then picked him up by the collar.
"What is it with you people?" the big guy asked him before throwing him into a bank of elevators. The world went black for a little while, but when he came to a bit later, it appeared that somehow Angel actually had the upper hand. The big guy was on his knees, and Angel was punching him repeatedly, finally hitting him so hard that he broke the other man's neck.
Connor could feel blood running down his nose. "He dead?" he asked Angel as he attempted to stand.
"Yeah, he's dead," Angel answered. Connor thought he looked battered but rejuvenated somehow. Then all hell broke lose as the world opened up beneath them.
"That's not good, is it?" Connor asked Angel. The place seemed to be collapsing onto itself, pieces of the building began raining down around them.
"Wolfram & Hart. Looks like they've taken the gloves off" Angel said vaguely.
Connor still didn't understand what was going on. He limped towards Angel. "What do we do?"
Angel regarded him sternly. "You go home." Connor scoffed at him, but Angel continued. "This is my fight."
"That some serious macho bull…" Connor was cut off as the world tilted below them. He groaned and clutched at his abdomen. The motion had caused him to jerk to the side, reinjuring ribs that he assumed were broken.
"Go home. Now." Angel ordered, eyes unrelenting.
"They'll destroy you," Connor said in earnest.
Angel grabbed his arm. "As long as you're ok, they can't." They shared a significant look, but were soon distracted as another large beam fell from the ceiling. "Go." Angel urged again.
Connor took one long last look at his father, knowing it could be his last. He wanted to stay and fight, but knew Angel wouldn't allow it. He limped away.
Connor stood outside the building for awhile, watching it implode in on itself. The earthquake seemed to be localized, just affecting Wolfram & Hart. He stayed as long as he deemed it would be safe, until pieces of the building began hitting perilously close to where he was standing. He limped off into the night, not sure of where to go. He smelled rain, knew he should probably get indoors, but could tell from the looks of passersby that his face was more of a mess than he had figured. He had walked for awhile before he realized he had been tracking Angel's scent. He lead him to the hotel.
He quickly climbed the tall tree in front with movements pulled from the memory of performing the task several times, and easily hopped the last ten feet from the top branch to the roof. He walked over to the edge and squatted on the ledge, looking down into the alleyway below. The sky had already opened up, making it difficult to see. Connor brushed the water from his eyes.
Angel was walking down the alley, trailing a sword behind him. Another figure stepped out of the shadows, He looked vaguely familiar to Connor—Spike. He met him at Wolfram & Hart.
A horrible sound began to emanate from the area at the end of the alley, but Connor could more feel than see what was coming. Soon, Gunn jogged up to join them, hefting an axe, but Connor could tell that he was badly injured by the way Angel and Spike ran over to help him sit down. Another figure dropped from the sky. It was Fred. Or the girl who looked like Fred. Connor was pretty sure it wasn't. He couldn't remember her name, though, having been distracted by what she was wearing the last time he saw her. He wondered where Wesley was.
Suddenly, the hordes came into view. His eyes bulged in horror. He couldn't even count how many scores of demons there were, but he was pretty sure he saw a dragon in the mix. Angel led the others in fighting formation. It was going to be a bloodbath. Angel took the first swing, but soon, it became hard to follow as the horde descended upon their small group.
Shortly after the fight began, Connor noticed a swath was being cut through the demon's from the opposite direction. A small girl emerged and joined Angel's gang. Faith. He grinned.
Connor pulled his eyes away from the fight for one moment, weighing his options. He thought of his mom and dad. How proud they were when he got into Stanford, how scared they were when he was hit by the van. How much he loved them. He sighed aloud as he made a decision. "What the hell?" he said and jumped down, joining the fray.