This story is an unauthorized sequel to 'You think she's an Open Book (but you don't know which page to turn to)' by Spuffyduds, wherein Lorne finds Fred's daughter born on Pylea.
Second, this'll be an experiment for me as this'll be a collection of related stories than an ongoing one. So lets see how it goes!
He doesn't say why he wants them to come, not exactly. Hell had ears, it was no different from any other place in that regard, after all. But he adds 'Fluffy' and 'Taco cave of crazy' (and to Spike, an empathic 'Do not bring Illyria under any circumstances whatsoever!') to make sure their curiosity is peaked, and sits back and waits.
It takes a few days for them to reply back, and promise to be there, but in the end, they all make it on the same day.
Lorne sighed as he saw what was left of 'the old gang'. Angel looks like he's been dragged behind a truck, Wesley's fashion is five years out of date (and a ghost), and Spike is, well, Spike. And as beaten up and beaten down as they were, they were still the best of what was left of his friends.
It wasn't the lack of a real sun, the overwhelming armies of demons or heat and humidity that absolutely ruined his best suits that made Los Angeles hell. No, for Lorne what made LA hell was seeing his friends like this.
But, Lorne had found, even Hell had miracles.
"Okay Kermit, we're all here," said Spike, "what's this all about then?"
"It's a surprise," smiled Lorne, which quickly flipped upside down when he saw how they tensed.
"Really guys?" Lorne said, "even you, Wesley? You're just a ghost! What do you have to be scared of anymore?"
"You'd be surprised, Lorne," Wesley said, "and you'll have to forgive us, but may I remind you this is hell? Even if you don't intend us harm, who's to say that you haven't been forced to bring us all together by someone who does?"
"And besides, some of us have some lounging to do by the pool side," Spike added.
"Always the humanitarian," Angel huffed, "I'm sorry Lorne, but they're right. What's so important that the three of us had to be here together?"
"And that Illyria not be," Spike added, "can't say she's the most fun at a party, but she's still one of us, mate."
"You'll see," the smile returns to Lorne's face, and he ushers them to follow him.
Angel studied his old friend, and sees an energy in him that he hadn't seen in Lorne since before the Senior Partners threw all of LA into hell. An enthusiasm that seemed to evaporate like a mist when Fred…
"Welcome to what used to be Embassy Row," Lorne led them threw a white picket fence, and like a car salesmen, swept his hands towards the little green skinned girl, wearing a yellow dress patterned with flowers. The young girl didn't seem to take notice of them at all, but was writing something in the sandbox with a straight stick while a young woman sat a few feet away, reading a book, but glancing up every now and then to keep an eye on the child.
"What, is she your cousin or something?" said Spike. He looked at Lorne and back to the child. Their coloring was different, hers was a light lime green in contrast to Lorne's green, lizard like skin. In fact, if it weren't for her skin color and small horns, Spike would have easily taken her for just a normal kid.
The young child heard the new voices, felt the eys cast upon her and her head snapped in their direction.
That was the light bulb moment for everyone. The light brown hair, the lips, her cheekbones and then finally, her eyes. Her eyes told it all.
"Fred…" said Wesley.
"Blood…eeee…hell," is all Spike can think to say.
And again, Lorne's smile fades as he sees Wesley almost on the verge of tears while Spike, who threw himself at anything without a second thought, simply stood there in shock.
The exception was the big man himself. Angel said nothing, but Lorne sees him put on a practiced fake smile and realizes that he's not doing it for himself, but for the little girl.
"Hello there," Angel bent down to look at her better. Some part of him just needed to memorize her features, "what's your name?"
"Jenny," she says, eyes cast down.
"Jenny? That's a very pretty name. Mine's Angel."
"Hello," Jenny said, without meeting his eyes.
"What are you doing here?" Angel looked at the sand. There were all kinds of different symbols, but they looked consistent, a series of pattern…
Jenny stood up and dragged her feet through the sand, destroying everything.
"I'm tired," Jenny said softly. Her words are carefully selected, as if she's just learned the language, "can I go to bed?"
"Of course pumpkin, you go get some rest," Lorne patted Jenny on the head, and she quickly rushed inside.
In all the shock and raw emotion, the four realize that they hadn't even met the girl's caregiver.
"Oh! Ashley! Please meet my friends," Lorne introduced them in short order, "guys, this peach is Ashley. She was a kindergarten teacher, before everyone, ya know, everyone became too afraid to send their kids to school."
"Ah yes, the 90s. Terrible era that," said Spike.
"Anyways, she's been watching Jenny for me, and she hasn't been too much trouble, has she?"
Ashley snorted, and then shook her head.
"Honestly, I barely know she's there half the time. She spends all day drawing in the sandbox, or in her room."
"Same ol' story," Lorne said with a sad chuckle, "well, why don't you run along and get some dinner, and we'll see you tomorrow, bright eyed and bushy tailed?"
"Sounds good. It was lovely meeting you," Ashley offered her hand to Wesley to shake first, but when it passed through like smoke, she politely excused herself.
"Smells a little like her," Spike says, but then shook her head, "but no way. No bloody way."
"Lets discuss this upstairs," Lorne says. He leads the stunned trio into the house and upstairs, but motioned for them to be silent.
Lorne was surprised to discover that, even though he was a lord of hell, there was still room for diplomacy here and there. And where ever there was diplomacy, there was duplicity. Some demons of hell were not exactly familiar with certain human inventions, like 'sound proofing' and 'one sided mirrors'.
The room was opposite of Jenny, and they saw the young girl not laying on the bed, but sleeping on the floor atop of some dresses she must have pulled out of the closet and strewn about the floor for reasons known only to her.
"Who the bloody hell has a one way mirror and a sound proofed room across from the main bedroom?" Spike said.
"You don't want to know," said Lorne, "like, super don't want to know that I made sure they burned through two bottles of cleaner before I even thought to give her the room."
"Should have had them sweep, too," Spike looked down at a small pile of dry wall dust on the floor.
"You listen to music in here too?" Angel asked.
"I'm sorry, Angel cake?"
Angel held up an Ipod, "Found this on the floor."
"Oh, I gave that to Jenny, full of country music" Lorne shook his head, "kids, they get everywhere, ya know?"
"Not Fred's," Wesley said, as if it were Gospel, "she's not. It's impossible."
"No Wes," Angel says gently, "it's not. Look at Groo…"
"Who looks considerably different than that…thing!"
"Hey now!" Lorne snapped, "that is not a thing, that's a little girl!"
"I'm sorry," Wesley stepped back, "but you know what I mean. She can't be Fred's daughter, She would have told us! Why wouldn't she have told us?"
"Think you just answered your own question there, watcher boy," Spike folded his hands across his chest, and leaned back against the wall, "even if we'd never say it, what would be the first question we'd ask ourselves?"
"'Why didn't you tell us sooner'?" Angel nodded.
"And who's to say she even thought she was alive? It was a little before your time, but believe me Wes, life as a slave is no picnic."
"That's…" Wesley shook his head, "she was with us for years. Why never say anything?"
"Remember when her parents first came?" said Angel, "remember what happened? She tried to run away, because seeing her parents made everything, Pylia, demons, vampires, everything real. Not vampires, or green lounge owners. What made everything real was her parents, not being back on earth, and most certainly not us."
"That…doesn't mean anything."
"Denial is a powerful tool," Spike cast his eyes at the ceiling, "back in '78, me and Dru met this real stuck up ponce. He swore up and down that there were no such things as vampires, demons, nothing like that, and anyone who said otherwise was a liar. So we decided to set this guy straight.
We kidnap him, and introduce him to all our friends. From The Master, to Clem. And this guy, he's screaming and crying and wetting himself the whole time. And I mean…"
"Yes Spike, we get it," interrupted Angel.
"Anyway, we only do it for the weekend, see? Then knocked him out, splashed him with some cheap booze, cleaned him up, and the next day, the very next day! Bloke didn't recognize us crossing the street," Spike said, "though he did eat a gun a week later."
"That's…certainly more elaborate than your usual fair," Angel observed.
"We were…*cough* rollplayingasyou," Spike muttered under his breath.
Angel chuckled, gallows humor being all he had left these days.
"Fred was never suicidal," Wesley countered.
"No, but she'd just left the nest, right?" Spike said, "young girl, first time away from home. No Watcher school teaching her that things do go dump in the night, and all of a sudden she's in a whole other world? Where she's the slave of green nasties and not even considered human? That she clawed back to sanity was proof of how tough she really was."
"And how much did she really talk about it, Wes?" said Angel, "I mean the gritty details. How she escaped the shock collar, where did she get the supplies for her cave? How she was made a slave in the first place?"
"We never pressed her for what happened, and that was our mistake. We acted as her coping mechanism, we…we should have looked harder. Tried to…"
"Hey, hey!" Spike snapped his fingers in Angel's face, "past is past. Lets focus on what we have here, eh?"
"I…" Wesley tried to think of something, anything, "Could she be like The Key? Something like that?"
"Her name is Dawn, you ghostly ass, and she's just as real as any of us," Spike said, "and more than some. Now, does anyone remember her before now? No? Then move. On."
"Wolfram and Hart, they…" Wesley said, "she's…something out of a lab, or…"
"Her hands are calloused, and look at her back, towards the top."
Wesley did, and he saw lines of discoloration that meant…
"…this is impossible."
"Said that already four eyes."
"And look at her muscle tone. I haven't seen anything like that in over a hundred years," said Angel, "no baby fat whatsoever."
"So she was a slave, that doesn't prove anything!" Wesley took his glasses off and cleaned them on his shirt, even though they couldn't have had a speck of dirt on them.
"I know what will," Angel said, "Lorne, just how much education are half, I mean hybrids generally allowed?"
"Angel?" Lorne gave his old friend a 'why does it matter?' kind of look.
"Just humor me. How much are they allowed?"
"Nothing past manual or degrading labor, and I really do mean nothing," Lorne replied, "if any…ah…hybrid is caught learning without their, umm…owner's permission or very good reason, they're whipped along with five others selected at random, left to hang by their wrists for four days and then they get mean. And that's if the ahh…owner doesn't decide to get creative."
"That settles it, then," said Angel, "she's Fred's daughter."
"What, you have DNA vision now, Captain Forehead?" Spike said.
"Hey, I ran a detective agency," Angel said defensively, "I can detect!"
"Oh bullocks. That was just an excuse for you to run around and play hero! You couldn't find a clue right in front of your face."
"Funny you should say that, Spike. Look at the dresses. See how they lead to the wall? And what do you think they were hung on?"
"Coat hangers," Angel said, "metal, I'd bet my soul on it."
"And this matters why?" said Spike.
"Just…just wait," Angel said, "this is my Parlor scene, and I'm the detective here. Lorne, you have pretty good hearing right? It's a…green thing, right?"
"You better believe Angel baby. You would not believe the juicy gossip these babies have picked up over the years…"
"And again, this all matters because?" Spike rolled his eyes.
"Put it together, Spike. Look at the dresses," Angel said, "they lead to the wall here. Metal carries vibrations, sound. Remember the drywall dust, that Ipod that was here? I know in my heart that that little girl in there is Fred's daughter… because without any formal education, she's developed, tested and then concealed a listening devise using nothing but metal coat hangers, dresses and duct tape."
"Then, that means…" Lorne looked at Jenny, and saw her trembling even though only a minute ago she seemed to be asleep.
"She's listening to us right now."
"Please…" Jenny shot up to her knees with the speed of a startled cat, head bowed. She turned around, and lowered the back of her dress, revealing an ugly web of scars, "this cow asks for twenty lashes. Please, twenty lashes, I deserve it…"
Spike couldn't keep himself from growling.
"We can't solve this by punching someone," Angel said with an even voice, "I'll handle this. I just need some candy to fix this."
"Oh, big tall and dark is bringing the little bird candy," Spike rolled his eyes, "you'd make father of the year easy."
"Shut up, Spike."