Connor crouched down in the shadows and eyed the building again. It was a bar that catered to demons, he had heard of it before, but he never thought he would enter. He didn't need to be around anyone, least of all the lowest scum of the earth!
His thin body shook as a gust of wind blew down the alley. He was cold, a chill down to his bones that had little to do with the weather. If he had to admit it—and he wasn't admitting anything, mind you, but if he hadto, he would say he felt a little guilty about the deep sea adventure he had sent Angel on. Now he knew he had been wrong about Angel. Wrong about a lot of things, but his shame stemmed from thinking that Angel killed Holtz, now that he knew about the part that Justine played.
He shook his head. He was also wrong about Angel. Maybe, just maybe, the vampire did have a soul. Having spent the summer with Gunn and Fred, he heard about the type of stuff that their agency, Angel Investigations, did. Their motto was, "We help the helpless," and it seemed that was exactly what they did. Connor himself had even gone on cases. His favorite, of course, was dusting vampires.
Connor's mind went back to Quor'toth, as he remembered how Father first taught him to kill vampires. It was his purpose in life to exact revenge upon the demon, Angelus, for what he did to Father's family. They practiced the art of vampire slaying as early as Connor could remember. There were all kinds of monsters to kill in that hell dimension. He was never quite so alone. Not like now, after having wrongfully punished Angel. He shook his head, he had been so sure that Angel had killed Father.
The cold wind blew again, bringing his attention back to the present. He looked back to the demon bar. He didn't need to go there. He was fine being by himself! Sure, he was starting to like having people around him. People that treated him nicely like Gunn and Fred. But it wasn't like he neededpeople. It was just as well that Angel threw him out. Connor wanting to be with other people was making him soft. He was becoming so weak that he was even considering going back to the hotel and begging Angel to forgive him.
The door to the demon bar swung open with music and muffled voices pouring out. Connor pushed himself up off the ground quickly. He may not have needed anyone but he could go in for a drink. Sure he was only 18 in this world, but a demon bar wouldn't care. With that thought he stepped forward, leading right into the darkened bar.
The atmosphere was lively and the place was packed. Connor strode forward as if he knew what he was doing. When in doubt, act like you belong.He stopped at a spot where it wouldn't be strange to stand around and people watch. He glanced around the room and noticed all the different kinds of demons, some red, some green and some that even looked human. He focused on the bar so that he could properly order a drink and watched as a blond vampire ordered a beer.
Connor walked a little closer so he could make out what was being said. This blond vampire had an accent like Father's. Connor noticed something new in the air. He breathed in deeper and realized that this vampire smelled familiar, almost, but not quite like Angel. He stepped a little closer to investigate when the vampire's head suddenly lifted. Connor quickly darted into the crowd behind him before the vampire could turn his head. Unnatural speed came in handy, sometimes. He could almost feel the eyes of the demon hunting him when a voice called out, taking the attention off Connor.
Spike had been sitting at the bar, quietly ordering a beer when he smelled something…Something that smelled almost like Angelus and Darla. He lifted his head quickly and scanned the crowd, wondering if he was either going crazy or his Grandsire had lost his soul again. He saw nothing that could possibly be The Scourge of Europe (A.K.A. Angelus). He was about to get up to take a closer look, although if Angelus were really there, everyonewould know it, when he heard someone call for him, "Spike! You old scoundrel, what are you doing here?"
"Blimey, mate! What are you doing in Los Angeles?" Spike asked the demon that had just addressed him.
Connor breathed a sigh of relief. That was exactly what he didn't want. He had wanted to blend into the crowd, not stand out. And there was definitely something up with that vampire. Connor wasn't sure what it was, but it was familiar, safe. He quickly squelched those thoughts. He didn't need to think about the smells that made him think of Angel, to think of having a home. He didn't have a home. He didn't have a family. He sighed again and tried to distract himself with the sounds around him.
He found himself listening to a pair of demons. The red, scaly demon was explaining to the more human looking one about a deal he had going.
"…is all you need." Connor had missed what the first part of that sentence was.
The human looking demon then stated, "But you said he likes babies."
Connor's ears perked up at that. There was no way he was going to let someone hurt a baby. A distant memory came to him as he heard the words in his mind, "I'll snap its neck if you come any closer…" A chill crept down Connor's spine as he thought the voice sounded like Father's. Why would thinking about saving a baby bring that thought to mind?He wondered as he absently rubbed his own neck.
He shook himself from the dreary thoughts as he tuned back into the conversation. The red demon was speaking again, "….All you gotta do is grab the kid. I can get the portal open."
Now Connor knew he had to stop whatever these two had planned. There was no way he was allowing them to open up a portal, especially one they planned to put a kid into! He checked to make sure he had his weapons on him as he made his way to the back of the building. He planned to track the demons once they left. He didn't have to wait long.
Connor followed the red demon to a dark alley, surrounded by old abandoned buildings. He watched and waited until the human looking one returned, carrying a small, crying, human girl. He stepped out of the shadows and ordered them to stop. The human looking demon was so startled he put down the little girl, who promptly ran off.
The red demon smacked the other on the arm and said, "You stupid oaf! What did you do that for? Go get her!" And with that the human looking one ran off. The red demon turned to him and asked, "Who the hell are you?"
Connor strode forward and exclaimed, "I am the Destroyer and…" was all he was able to get out before hearing a deafening 'crack!' Everything froze for a long moment before blinding pain flooded his brain and the world went dark.
Spike walked into the bar and sat at a table this time. The last time he had been there was a few days ago. He was still trying to work up his courage to go and speak with Angel now that he was in LA, but chickened out…uh, decided wisely against going, when he thought he had smelled his Grandsire. Turned out that it was just his senses playing tricks on him, since he never did come across Angel. So, instead of going to see the older vampire, he chose to listen to the local gossip.
Apparently there was rumor that Darla had come into town a few months ago. The next part of the story proved it was all a lie though, since the rumor also said that she had been pregnant. Spike almost laughed out loud at that one! A pregnant vampire, as if. He was still smirking as he watched a trio sit down at a table near him. He listened with half his attention as he waited to get served.
"I'm telling you, it was the funniest thing," a red scaled demon was saying as he sat with his companions.
The human looking, Vocar demon snorted as he said, "It wasn't that funny at the time."
The first one waved him off, saying, "Well, if you hadn't put that kid down we could have had two. Now we only have the one." Tilting his head to indicate the other red scaled demon, "He smacked that boy in the head with the pipe. The only problem is with that one being so old it is going to take much longer…"
Spike's interest in the story was abruptly halted when he smelled a familiar smell. This time is was the distinct smell of his grandsire…
Angel circled the block again. He couldn't believe he had lost the trail. Well, lost wasn't exactly what he had done. It seemed that the last place his son had been was the demon bar, "Apathy". He rolled his eyes at the name but pushed forward. He hadn't seen his son in days and he was really beginning to worry. He knew that he was the one that threw him out, but he regretted that decision from the moment the words left his mouth. His own stubborn pride kept him from taking those words back. He should have. Instead he was keeping an eye on him from a distance. He stalked the boy every day up until a few days ago when the trail ended here at this bar.
Angel pushed the doors opened and walked in. His eyes quickly scanned the bar then the tables, only stopping when they caught the sight of a familiar blond vampire.
Spike's head shot up and he caught Angel's eyes. They both stared at each other for a moment. Spike was thinking about the last time he smelled the other vampire and that he was actually more than surprised to see him there now.
Angel couldn't believe that it was Spike before him. He had heard that Spike had a soul, but he didn't think he would find him here. He opened his mouth to say something, but before he had the chance the boisterous table next to them said something that changed Angel's focus.
"Then he said, 'I'm The Destroyer'," the red scaled demon stated loudly, and the table of demons erupted into laughter, completely oblivious to the attention they had just garnered. "Some Destroyerhe turned out to be."
Within the blink of an eye, Angel was at the table with his hand around the speaker's neck. "Where is he?" Angel shouted at the now choking man.
Spike wasn't sure what was going on. One minute Angel was staring him down, the next he was strangling some demon.
"I won't ask again," Angel stated menacingly, his eyes on the demon in his hands.
Spike glanced around at the other members of the demon's group. They were all just as shocked as he was that Angel was acting this way. "Er, mate, I don't think…"
Angel didn't let him continue, "Shut up, Spike!"
The demon stared at Angel, open mouthed but saying nothing. Finally, Angel snapped his wrist and dropped him to the floor where he laid unmoving.
Now Spike was the one with the open mouth. He couldn't believe it. Sure, he had thought the other day that since he smelled both Darla and Angel that perhapsAngelus had returned, but now with him snapping the necks of random demons hunting for "The Destroyer" maybe Angel had lost his soul again.
Before Spike could get himself too worked up over that though and worry that he was now the only vampire with a soul, he noticed that the red scaled demon on the floor was actually still breathing. He felt his own breath of relief at the sight. There was no way that Angeluswould let any potential threat live. This had to be Angel he was dealing with. He was so caught up in his own thoughts he missed the exchange between Angel and the other red scaled demon. Whatever was said, though, it seemed to get the point across. The demon was babbling something about portals and how he could open it.
Angel dragged the demon out of the bar with one hand and flipped open his cell phone with the other. "I found him but something is wrong," Angel told the other person on the line. "Yeah, a different dimension." There was a pause before Angel said, "I don't know, but meet me in the warehouse district." Angel proceeded to give a general direction for the receiver to find him.
Spike was catching on to the idea that Angel had planned to go after whoever this "Destroyer" was. "I don't think that's such a good idea, mate."
Angel shot him a withering glare but walked on without comment.
The captive finally decided to add his two cents to the conversation, "Yeah, vampire, it wouldn't be a good idea. Time runs in reverse in my dimension." He seemed to feel braver as he spoke, "You'll be nothing but a sniveling child by the time you return."
That got a reaction, but not quite what the demon had hoped for. Angel came to a complete stop, turned the demon to face him and snarled, "What did you do to Connor?"
The demon was a bit shaken but asked, "Who?"
"Connor," Angel stated, then paused and said, "The Destroyer."
Whatever bravado the demon had earlier vanished as he took in the dark look from Angel. He began to babble again, "Look, I don't know what beef you have with the kid but it is taken care of now."
His grip on the red demon tightened, as Angel shouted, "You will take me to him, NOW!"
The demon struggled to bring in a breath of air as he said, "I can't…"
Angel didn't like that answer at all. "What do you mean you can't? You will!"
As frightened as the demon was becoming he still repeated, "I can't," but he went on to explain, "One of my kind must stay here to keep the portal open. If I go with you we will not be able to return."
Angel wasn't sure if he believed him. He had to think fast and the resolution came to him in the form of a friend.
"Yo, Angel, man. We got here as fast as we could," Gunn said as he jumped out of the car, cautiously eyeing the blond vampire that stood with Angel.
Fred followed Gunn. "What's going on? What were you talking about with the dimension? Will we be able to reopen it? Is it safe for us to go?" she shot out question after question without waiting for a reply.
Angel was in no mood to explain. "I can't lose him again." And that was all he needed to say.
"Alright, man. I get it. We go in, get the kid and deal with this demon after," Gunn stated as if there was no question as to what was going to happen.
"No," Angel said, a bit calmer now that he had a plan in mind. "You need to stay here with this…" he left the sentence hanging as he shook the demon he was talking about. "He claims he has to be here to keep the portal open. Besides, if time does run in reverse there, it isn't going to hurt me. I'm more than two hundred years old. A few years backwards isn't going to hurt me.
Gunn had been ready to fight Angel on his plan until he heard the reasoning behind it. "Alright, it sounds like a plan."
Fred raised her bow and took aim at the demon as Angel released him.
The demon took one look around and knew he was outnumbered and outmaneuvered. He raised a ceremonial knife and drew an imaginary doorway in the air, said a few words in a language that none of the others understood and then cut his hand dripping blood in front of where the 'door' was.
The air shimmered within the rectangle and night vanished, being replaced by a bright green sky. Angel jumped through the opening, with Spike on his heels. Angel turned when he heard the footsteps behind him. "What are you doing, Spike?"
"Well, I figured time reversal might do me a bit of good—what the hell do you think I'm doing here?" Spike replied with heavy sarcasm.
Angel only huffed and kept walking. He was using every sense he had to try to track Connor but the atmosphere in this dimension was making it difficult. The area looked like a lush forest with light green misty fog. The sky was a bright green and the dark green sun warmed the air around them.
They pushed forward but finally, Spike had enough. He had to know. "Who is this Destroyer, anyway?"
Angel didn't look back at Spike as he answered matter of factly, "He's my son."
Spike stopped and stared at Angel's back before he burst out, "Bloody hell! The rumors were true?"
Before Angel could answer both vampires heard a pitiful wailing. Angel took off towards the noise with Spike not that far behind. As they got closer they could hear the words that accompanied the cries. "Please Father! I'll be good, I swear, I'll be good. Please don't leave me here."
The sounds almost broke Angel's un-beating heart. And if the words were bad, the sight was significantly worse. Before them sat a small boy, dressed in oversized clothes trying his hardest to pry open what appeared to be a bear trap that was cutting into his leg.
Angel moved slowly toward the boy, trying not to frighten him. He wasn't positive that this child was his son. The last time he had seen Connor, he had been an 18-year -old, with a smirk and a smart mouth. This child was sobbing, dripping with tears and snot. But the demon had said that time ran in reverse so Angel spoke softly, "Connor."
That got the boy's attention. He stopped crying, his head shot up and as soon as he saw Angel, the boy began to scramble backwards, stopping short when the chain attached to the trap kept him tethered to a pole.
As soon as the blue eyes caught Angel, he knew that boy was Connor. His heart gave a lurch watching the child hurt himself trying to crawl away from him. He ran on instinct as he said, "Shhhh, it's ok. It's going to be alright, Connor."
This did nothing to settle the child. "My name is Steven!" the boy said defiantly.
"Er, are you sure we got the right kid?" Spike asked.
When Connor heard him speak his eyes became hopeful. This man had an accent like Father's! "Do you know Father?" he asked with wide eyed innocence that only a young child had.
Before Spike could speak, Angel nearly growled, "Holtz is not your father!"
Still defiant, Connor said, "Yes he is! His name is Daniel Holtz and God brought us together so he could save me from the demon…"
Angel internally rolled his eyes at the boy's words. The last thing he needed to hear was Holtz's rhetoric. Connor was his son. Hisson! Angel attention was brought back when he heard Connor wince as he shifted his leg. "Look, Connor, I'm not going to discuss this with you while you are trapped here."
He looked down at the steel trap around Connor's leg. "Spike, help me get this off him."
Spike did as he was asked, prying the jaws open.
Angel gently lifted the leg out and pulled the boy into his lap. Connor didn't even whimper through the actions. Angel examined the jagged cuts before sighing, "Oh, Connor."
Connor looked up, confused at the sentiment and said, "It's ok. Father says the demon inside me will heal it quickly."
Angel's face tightened into a grimace that Connor missed as he continued, "Like it did last time."
"Last time?" Angel repeated as a question. "What do you mean last time?" He couldn't keep the anger from tinting his words.
Connor thought the anger was directed at him. He hung his head to reply, "I didn't mean to…" then he paused. He seemed to struggle with himself for a moment remembering what Father had taught him. You have to own up to your mistakes. So Connor started again with his head hanging even lower, "I was bad."
Angel was about to lose it. Holtz had strapped Connor into a bear trap as a punishment? And it seemed he had done this to the boy when he was no older than six! He opened his mouth to say something when the noises of the forest changed. He stood quickly, cradling Connor close to his body.
"I think we need to get outta here, Angel," Spike said quietly, while looking around to detect the threat.
Agreeing with him, Angel started to walk quickly in the direction he had come from.
The interaction between the vampires was all the time Connor needed to figure out who was now holding him. "You're Angelus, aren't you?"
Spike and Angel continued toward the portal as Angel answered, "No, I'm Angel—your father."
Connor began to struggle against Angel's hold. "Let me go, you filthy demon! I'm not going with you!"
Holding the boy closer, Angel informed the squirming boy, "Yes, you are, and we will discuss this after we get your leg looked at."
The struggle continued but fortunately they were near the portal.
When the trio emerged from the opening, Gunn turned abruptly to face them. "How did you find him so quickly? Ya'll just walked in there."
"Oh my! Is that Connor?" Fred asked while she walked closer to examine the struggling boy.
Angel shifted Connor to a better hold and said, "It must have something to do with the time differences."
"Where did the demon go?" Spike asked as he looked around the general area.
Gunn spun around and realized that the demon had gotten away while his attention was on the vampires. "Damnit!"
Angel was less concerned about the missing demon than he was about his son. "We'll worry about him later. Let's just get him home."
Fred and Gunn only looked at each other with Fred mouthing the word "home". They had no idea what had happened to Connor in that other dimension. They were only concerned with how it was going to affect them now. Instead of voicing their opinions they gathered their gear and followed Angel to the car, and headed back to the hotel.