Connor roamed the streets of nighttime LA. He had grown up his entire life as Steven and now he was known as Connor because that's what the vampire had named him and that's what his father had asked him to go by. He glanced back the way he had come and could still smell the ocean where he had dumped Angelus not even three hours ago. Not knowing what else to do, he left Justine standing on the pier and walked away. He wouldn't go back to Angelus' home and he couldn't go back to the hotel where his father had been staying. So, he walked.
Before he knew it, he was standing at the city limits on the side of the interstate. A car pulled up and a pretty red headed woman rolled down her window. "Hey kid, need a ride somewhere?"
Connor looked at her. "Where are you headed?"
"San Francisco. Where are you headed?"
"Anywhere but here."
"Hop in." Connor opened the side door and got in. "Boy, you sure do travel light."
"I don't own anything."
"I see why you're leaving." She smiled at him. "I'm Shana."
They drove for two hours with a one sided conversation going on and the music playing. Connor stared out the window and saw a sign for a town called Sunnydale as they got off on its exit. "Where are we going?"
"I've got to get some gas." Shana said.
"Oh." While she stood at the pump, Connor walked into the store and looked around. It was a small convenience store with candy and drinks and everything else you'd expect to find.
Shana walked in to pay for her gas and get something to drink. "I'm gonna use the bathroom."
"Ok." Connor stepped outside and something on the air caught his attention. It felt…. Wrong. And it was pulling at his insides. Not knowing what else to do, he followed his instincts and let the wrong air pull him towards it. He heard Shana calling to him to come back, but he ignored her and made his way down the road. Eventually, he came to a small downtown area that was closed down for the night. He looked at the clock in a store window and it said it was 4:30 in the morning.
Shrugging it off, Connor kept moving. He found himself picking his way through a large graveyard when he heard a noise a few feet away from him behind a mausoleum. He went to investigate, but he was suddenly thrown to the ground by a petite blonde woman. Assuming she had to be a vampire with that kind of strength in her tiny little body, he started to fight back. She managed to pin him against the mausoleum and then…. Whipped out a stake?
"Stop!" Connor said.
"Give me one good reason." She said.
"I'm not a vampire."
She looked at him for a moment, sizing him up and sniffing the air in front of him. After a long moment, she released him. "Who are you?"
"Connor. Who are you?"
Buffy stared at him for another long moment before she said, "I'm the Slayer."
She blinked, flabbergasted that there was still someone out there who didn't know what a Slayer was. "The Vampire Slayer? Pretty self-explanatory."
"Uh huh." Connor dusted his pants off. "Pretty strong for a girl."
"Slayer. Comes with the package."
"Who are you?"
She pocketed the stake. "I'm Buffy. So, what's a kid like you doing out this late in a place like Sunnydale?"
"I don't know. Something drew me here. I was on my way to San Francisco with Shana, but we stopped to get gas and I felt like I needed to be here."
Buffy smiled. "The Hellmouth is still using its mojo I see."
Her eyebrows lifted in astonishment. "Mojo? As in…. Funky magics? Allure?" Connor just nodded. "So, you were with your girlfriend…."
"She wasn't my girlfriend."
"And you ditched her because you could feel the bad vibes of the Hellmouth a'callin'?"
"Where did you come from?"
"What are you?"
"What do you mean?"
"That was some serious fighting you were doing back there. And you weren't packing a girly punch."
"I don't know what I am."
"Well, as long as your not some evil creature come to the Hellmouth to destroy humanity, I'm cool." She stared at him for a moment and then turned to walk away.
"Hey, where are you going?"
"Home. I'm going to sleep in and enjoy my solitude." She glanced back at him. "I suggest you get off the streets and go home to wherever you're calling home."
"I don't have a home."
Buffy stopped and looked back at the kid. There was something familiar about him, she just couldn't place what. She sighed. "Come on, you can crash at my house. I've got a spare room you can have."
"Thank you." He followed her back to her house and into the kitchen.
"Are you hungry?"
"I've got day-old pizza I can heat up."
"Sure." Connor looked around the place. "Pretty big house for just one person."
"Oh, I don't live here alone. My sister's in Europe visiting our dad and my friend Willow is in England visiting some coven. There was another woman living here, but she died."
"So, what's your story?"
Connor shrugged. "My father raised me. I never knew my mother. She killed herself when I was born. My father took me to Los Angeles because that's where the vampire lived that killed his family a long time ago. He wanted to kill the vampire, but the vampire killed him in the end."
"I'm sorry." Buffy handed him the heated up pizza on a plate. "Did you go after the vamp yourself?"
"A friend of my father's helped me."
"What did you do?"
"I got rid of him."
"Sounds like he got what he deserved." Connor nodded. "Well, I'll tell you what…. You can stay here as long as you like. My sister won't be back for another two months and it'll be good to have some company around here."
"Don't mention it. You seem like a good kid with some seriously bad luck. Come on, I'll show you where you can sleep." Connor set down his pizza and followed Buffy up the stairs to a room almost at the end of the hall. "This is my old room. I moved into that one down there." She pointed to the door at the other end of the hall near the stairs. "Dawn's room the door you saw in front of the stairs and that door directly across from here is the bathroom."
"Did you bring a bag? I didn't see one earlier."
"I don't own anything."
"Oh." Buffy smiled. "I'm sure Xander wouldn't mind giving you some of his clothes until we can get you some more."
Buffy opened the door to her old room and flipped on the light. "Sorry about the slight girly-ness. My mom and I decorated this when I was 16. Never really had the time to redecorate it."
"It's ok. I've never really had a room of my own, so anything's ok with me."
She smiled and squeezed his arm. "Well, you can have this room. It was just going to sit there until you came along…. Or until I got the urge to have a game room, but luckily you came along cause I wouldn't know what to do with a game room anyway."
Connor smiled. "You're funny."
"That's a first. It's usually, 'hey, you're weird' or 'you're a problem to society.'" He laughed. "Get some sleep Connor. I'll see you in the morning. Or afternoon, depending on when I can drag myself out of bed tomorrow…. Today." She shrugged and headed back downstairs to clean up the kitchen before going to bed.
Two months later, Connor was settled in at Buffy's house and they had become close friends. Buffy was teaching him fighting methods and training him to be a better fighter and the two of them went out on regular patrols. Connor hadn't ever been this happy in his life that he could remember. Killing demons and monsters used to make him happy, but since meeting Buffy, he'd come to learn that killing demons to help people made him happier.
And he'd also learned that just being with Buffy made him happy too. She'd been the nicest person he'd met since coming to this world from Quar-Toth. She had given him a home when she hadn't even known him and then became his friend and gave him a purpose in life. Sometimes when she was around, he found it hard to speak to her. His words got mixed up and he ended up standing there and blushing at her. Thankfully, she didn't seem to notice it. Or if she did, she was choosing to ignore it.
At the moment, Connor stood in the basement where Buffy had set up a little training room. He had intended on working out down here while she was out with her friend Xander, but had quickly gotten bored and started wandering around the room. He looked at the stairs and then took them two at a time. He started to meander around the house, checking out pictures of Buffy and her friends and family. He liked the one of her, her sister, and her mother. She had told him about her mother and when she died, Buffy had found her lying on the couch. He didn't understand how she had died, but he knew that it had upset Buffy a lot because it was something that she couldn't save her mother from.
Moving away from the picture, Connor headed back downstairs and looked at the shelves holding boxes and plastic containers. He picked up one that said pictures and sat down on a mat, opening the box. Inside the box were envelopes and small plastic containers full of pictures. He started going through them, smiling every time he saw one of Buffy smiling or just looking pretty. At the bottom of the box was a big manila envelope that was simply marked Angel. Curious, he picked it up and carefully opened it.
The first thing he pulled out was a beautiful drawing of Buffy that even Connor could tell had been done out of pure love for her. The next thing was a picture frame and what he saw staring back at him made his blood turn to ice water and then his heart pound with anger. It was a picture of Buffy and Angelus together with their arms around each other looking up into the other's face with loving smiles. On the back of the picture, a tiny plastic bag was taped there and in the bag was a beautiful silver ring with delicately carved hands holding a crowned heart. Connor didn't know what it all meant, but he knew his Buffy had known Angelus and had known him too well for his taste.
When Buffy got home, the house was seemingly deserted. "Connor?" She called. When there was no answer, she put her coat on the coat rack and headed into the kitchen. He wasn't there, so she searched the house until she found him sitting in the basement with pictures strewn about him. "I see you've found my pictures." He didn't answer her. "Everything ok?" She walked down the stairs and saw that he was holding the picture frame Angel had gotten her with the picture of the two of them at the Bronze.
"You knew him." Connor said quietly.
"Who?" She glanced at the frame. "Angel? Yeah." When Connor didn't say anything, she walked over and sat down in front of him. "Did you know him?" Connor dropped the picture frame on the ground and the glass broke. He stood up and walked away from her. "Connor what is this about?"
"Why didn't you tell me you knew him? Why didn't you tell me about him?"
"Because I didn't know you knew him. How did you…." Buffy stopped and stared at Connor. Angel had been the vampire that had killed Connor's father's family. Angel was the vampire that Connor hated so much. "Connor, how do you know Angel?"
"He's my real father. Holtz was the man that raised me, but he wasn't my real father. That monster was."
"Connor…." She looked closer and Connor and realized that he looked so much like Angel, it was scary. And she also felt stupid for not seeing it earlier. "You were just a baby. Oh God…. He was so devastated when he lost you. How did you get back?"
"I found a way."
Buffy's mind was racing until it hit on Connor's words. I got rid of him. "What did you do?" Connor shook his head. "Connor, where's Angel? What did you do to him? Is he still alive?"
"That demon was never alive."
"Don't call him that. What did you do to him?"
"You betrayed me! You're just like the rest of them!" He started to bolt past her, up the stairs, but she caught him and held him there.
"I didn't betray you! I took you in! I gave you a home when you had nowhere else to go! Please Connor!" He looked away from her. "Please, what did you do to him? Is he still alive?" He still didn't say anything. "Connor, I'm still your friend. I understand that you were misled, but Angel is a good person and he did NOT kill the man you think of as your father. Please, trust me."
Connor shook his head. "You're the only real friend I've ever had."
"I still am."
"Why do you care about him so much?"
"It's complicated." Connor glared at her. "Connor, it's too complicated to explain right now. I need you to trust me."
"I never meant to hurt you. If I'd have known about Angel being your father sooner, I would've told you. But Connor, this is important. What did you do to him?"
Connor looked at Buffy's panic filled eyes and felt guilty that he was hurting her. "Justine had a boat. We locked him in a coffin and threw him in the ocean."
Connor felt Buffy's grip on his arm weaken as she struggled to stay standing. "I don't remember where we were though. I just remember a lot of ocean."
After a long moment, Buffy managed to take a couple of deep breaths and look at Connor. "You may not remember, but I'll bet you anything Justine will." Connor nodded. "Do you think you could find her?"
Connor nodded again. "I can follow her scent."
"Then we're going to LA. Pack a bag."