Disclaimer: I do not own Firefly, Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Angel. Written for fun, not profit.
Relics of Another Age
"There's Power in the Blood"
Summary: Connor contemplates the dopplegangers of the 'verse, and River puts his mind to ease. Well, mostly.
In some ways, it was like his world had blown up, and all the smaller pieces were spread out across the universe, waiting for him to hopscotch from one fragment of his past to the next. Only, Connor didn't understand the goal of the game. Would he win a prize if he saw them all, reached the end, and doubled back? Would he find himself in L.A. again, facing off a hoard of demons, if he won? Maybe he didn't fully understand hopscotch. He'd admit as much.
What he did understand was the weight of the tool in his hand. It was heavy, and why it was stored in the engine room for feather-weight Kaylee to use, he had no idea. The image of him, walking with it held lazily in one hand, probably should have been cause for a second glance, but the rest of the crew was busying themselves around the ship
—the ship, Serenity, his new home, in space, hundreds of years in the future, God, it was all too much—
As they usually were and hadn't quite picked on how he was a bit stronger than a guy of his stature probably should be. He'd cross that bridge when he got there; after all, the group was still, weeks since their arrival, reeling over that whole "we're five-hundred-years old and from Earth-That-Was" thing.
Connor paused when he heard Dawn's lightning quick voice spouting something at a retreating Malcolm Reynolds. A fresh serving of envy was plopped down onto his already full plate. Dawn was fitting in better than he was, here. Maybe he was also a little envious that she seemed to be spreading her time out amongst the crew, trying to get to know them all, while he was stuck looking sullen in his quietness. Shouldn't she be spending more time with him? They kind of had more in common, didn't they?
He shook his head and took the stairs two at a time, careful not to tap the railing with the weighty wrench. His dissent was nearly silent, and the man on the cargo bay floor, hunched forward in study of a grate on the far side, didn't look up as he approached. Connor's grip tightened on the tool, and he raised it higher, feeling his jaw click as it set in anger.
The man didn't have to turn, because Connor knew his face well by now. After all, one of the young man's last memories before waking up here was of being in L.A., fighting the good fight, cleaning up a mess he hadn't made—and it was, in part, because a not-a-man with that very same face had been defeated. Killed.
Connor had been there for the moment when Angel had drunk from this Child of the Senior Partners. Destroyed him by using his own power against him. And, if Marcus Hamilton was dead, he couldn't be here posing as Jayne Cobb. Still, Connor felt the hair on the back of his neck stand up when the face in question looked at him.
For a moment, he saw red, his inner predator ready to take the advantage, make a strike at the potential threat; his inner human occupied by memories of what it felt like to get tossed like a rag doll by that evil son of a bitch Hamilton.
"Took your ruttin' time, didn't ya?" Jayne snapped, but didn't move to take the tool, shifting out of the way instead. "Well, you gonna stand around or use that thing?"
Connor considered it before giving a nod and raising the wrench. He swung it down, catching the grate's oversized lip and giving a twist. A release popped free from where it had been jammed, and the hidden door eased open, showing the secret storage space below.
Jayne slapped Connor across the back. "Bout time we had the space for use again—got sealed up tight after a lil' accident involving explosives." He grimaced at a memory, then shot his gaze to Connor. "We sparrin' after our meal?"
Connor nodded again, realizing he was wrong. Most the crew hadn't realized how strong or fast he was, but Jayne Cobb knew. And for some reason, he wasn't bringing it up.
"Wouldn't miss it," Connor noted.
Connor felt like a big cat pacing his cage, and he was pretty sure it was freaking out the crew, but it couldn't be helped. He was rattled. Not just because of his situation, which, he believed, in fairness, should be enough to rattle anyone. No, it was the message from the Powers That Be—or, the lack of a message from the Powers That Be—that had his stomach in knots.
Dawn grabbed him by the elbow, steering him down to their bunk. He barely noticed. Neither of them spoke until he eased down onto his bed. It was directly across from hers, since they'd been given a shared room, despite the fact that they didn't actually know one another before this whole outer-space adventure thing.
"Ancient brats go together," had been the general consensus. But Connor figured it had more to do with it being easier for the crew to trap them down here if they turned out to be trouble. That Captain Reynolds was sneaky. Connor could live with that.
Dawn settled in beside him and sighed. "You're still worked up over that warning about the 'home office' thing, right?" She didn't wait for him to answer. They'd had this conversation before. "Listen, Connor, I'm sorry you missed Cordy's visit—"
He stiffened. He'd hoped she hadn't noticed that look of disappointment on his face when he realized his dead friend had literally popped in without saying a word to him. "I'm a bit more concerned about the fact that Wolfram and Hart, the people responsible for, you know, destroying my life repeatedly, is possibly still in existence."
It came out harsher than he'd intended, but he didn't take it back, because it was true. Dawn smacked his arm for it.
"Oh, yeah, because silly me had forgotten about that part?" She rolled her eyes at him. "Self absorbed, much? You know, moments like this, you totally remind me of your father."
Dawn chuckled, leaning back against the wall. "It's true, young Sir Broods-A-Lot. Your bloodline is apparent, even without the Brow-of-Judgment—" She snorted, and shook her head. "Sorry, that one came straight from Spike. You got to meet Spike, right?"
His crooked smile was answer enough, and she grinned back. The two of them had tried to establish a timeline, but their time in cryo hadn't exactly made their final memories any clearer. Mostly, they'd only put together that he'd been taken first…by whoever had done the taking—money was on Wolfram and Hart's involvement. They'd come to the conclusion because Dawn and her sister's organization had gotten word from Angel, and the fact that Connor was missing had been brought up. Dawn didn't say it, but judging from her expression, that had been an awkward conversation from her end, especially since she—and everyone else—hadn't know about Connor's very-human existence.
Something in Connor's chest tightened every time he considered that Angel had been looking for him and never found him. And, something inside him died every time he didn't consider that the Reillys had probably been doing the same... That whole memories layered on top of memories thing was a real bitch at times.
Maybe Dawn was right about the brooding. He had to kick that habit. So, he leaned back beside her, putting his shoulder against hers as if they were watching something more entertaining than the wall on the other side of the small quarters.
"I'll be chipper," he promised, sounding anything but.
Dawn lolled her head to the side, giving him an amused glance. "Yeah. Uh-huh."
He shrugged. "Our lives are weird."
"Understatement of the…well, several centuries, I guess." Dawn pursed her lips—Connor was beginning to recognize that as her thinking face. "You told me about Zoe. About what Cordy meant about her being a doppelganger, and how Jayne looked like a Big Bad you'd faced, too. And I told you about the Captain looking like that jerkface Caleb." She openly shivered at the memory. "We concluded that it couldn't be a coincidence, that we ended up here, with these people who have dead evil twins."
"Well regurgitated," Connor noted, "but do you have a point behind bringing all this back up?"
Dawn made a face. "Yes, I do. Maybe Cordy isn't the only Power on our side. I mean, maybe some part of this was planned…for better or worse."
"It's like a dream." Connor frowned, unconsciously pinching his arm. "When you're sleeping, pieces from your life just start to show up. Bad guys become good guys. Evil law firms turn into mysterious corporations. And there's always a wacky setting—case in point, the whole final frontier amongst the stars vibe."
"Only we can't wake up from this. And, also, there aren't any clowns or rubber chickens." Dawn pushed herself back up, turning to face him. "Okay, your brood is rubbing off on me. We're going to escape this funk, and do you want to know how?"
Connor couldn't help but smile. Something about her wide eyes and determined voice was endearing. "How?"
"We're going to take advantage of being here. We're going to find answers to our questions. And, then, time allowing, we're going to kick the asses of those who kidnapped us and put us to sleep for way too many centuries."
"You know, that sounds like a good plan."
"I have them on occasion."
Simon's voice bellowed after him, asking about his hand, but Connor pretended not to hear him. After all, the doc couldn't leave his current patient, a very bitchy Jayne, to follow him out. Connor stared down at his fist, at the knuckles coated in someone else's blood.
The sparring session had went alright. Until it suddenly hadn't.
Jayne would be fine, though. Connor hadn't taken him down hard enough to do lasting damage, just hard enough to ensure he was human and could be taken down. Dawn's plan had resounded in his mind the whole time; she was right, they needed to figure out who did this them. But, Connor wanted to make sure the one pulling their puppet strings wasn't already on the ship with them.
"Should have asked."
Connor glanced up. River was nearly as quiet as he was when she put her mind to it. He nodded in greeting. "Didn't know I was going to do it until I did," he explained.
"I'd already checked," River noted. "Saw his face in the Sun and had to knife him. He bled well enough."
"Like a human." Connor nodded to himself, not caring if she followed. River brought out a part of him he sometimes forgot about. A boy who'd just escaped monster-land. "Just a man. Still doesn't explain the matching face. Any of the matching faces."
River cocked her head in thought. "Ghosts," she noted. "Ghosts in our veins, ghosts in our cells. Only so many faces to go around." Her eyes focused on the doorway behind Connor, leading down to where Jayne was cursing a blue streak. "No power in his blood, just in his heart."
Connor stared back. "I agree. What about you, River? Is there power in your blood?"
She narrowed her eyes, then grinned slowly. "Dead but not dead—you're talkative for corpses. Someone's bound to hear. Let them."
Connor echoed the words. "Let them."
The clatter of footsteps drew their attention, and Mal appeared, his stern expression wavering into the territory of worry as it hopped from Connor to River and back again. "Tzao gao, why do I get the feelin' you two are up to somethin' that's gonna leave me pinched?"
Connor shrugged. "Not a clue, Captain."
River imitated him. "Can't stop fate," she noted, and gave Connor a wink. "Can only slow it down."
Mal blinked. "Wait—what?"
But Connor knew the words were meant for him and realized the part that he had and Dawn had ignored. The why. Why were they taken in the first place? Maybe Dawn had been right. Maybe it was because they had a job to do here, and now. A job they didn't get a chance to do back in their own time—or a job someone wanted to stop them from finishing then... Can't stop fate. Can only slow it down—the thought put a smile on his face.