Angel held a tiny baby in his arms. "Isn't our son beautiful?" Cordelia walked up from behind him and put her arms around Angel, staring at the baby. "He's going to grow up just like his father. Our little Conner will be a champion of the people, a hero."
Angel looked around at the hotel lobby. Gunn and Fred were sitting on the couch, discussing something intently, the grins of lovers on their faces. Lorne could be heard singing upstairs. Wesley came running out of the office. "I finished the translation!" The man looked overcome with boyish glee and Angel couldn't help but mirror his infectious smile. "It says Conner will grow up happy and healthy with his family and never feel pain, anger, or terror."
Angel looked down at the baby in his arms. Blood began to stain the blanket he was wrapped in and dripped from the bundle onto the ground. Cordelia gasped and snatched the bundle away. "What did you do?" She asked "How could you do this to your own son?"
Fred appeared in front of Angel. "The father will kill the son."
"No, I would never…" Angel backed away.
He backed into Gunn, who pulled out a stake. "Don't worry Angel, it will be quick."
Angel rushed away from Cordelia, Gunn, and Fred. He ended up next to Wesley. Angel grabbed the man by the throat and shoved him against the wall. "This is all your fault!" Angel shouted at the wide-eyed man he had pinned to the wall. Blood began to leak over Angel's hand and between his fingers. Angel let go of Wesley and the man hit the ground, blood pouring from his neck. Angel reached down to help him but then stopped. "I should have killed you." He said
Angel looked up and he was in his old office, the one that had gotten blown up. Cordelia and Wesley were arguing about something. Wesley picked up a knife and stabbed Cordelia between the ribs. Angel rushed forward and caught her as she fell. "Why did you do that?"
"I was aiming for him." Wesley pointed to the door.
A teenager walked through the door, Conner. Conner stared at Angel in accusation. "So you killed her too. You killed us all, you're a plague." Conner pulled out a stake.
"No it was…" He looked around, but he was alone. Wesley and Cordelia were both gone.
Conner walked further into the office. "You left Sunnydale to protect people, so that no one would get close to you. Then you came here and surrounded yourself with good people so that you could destroy their lives. You ruined my life dad, I can never be happy now."
Angel blinked and looked through the glass window of the container he was in. He could see the dark heavy water pushing down on the lid. There was nothing else, not even a fish or some sort of vegetation that grew down here. It was eternity down here. In this eternity he had only his dreams for company, but they were all nightmares, even the good ones.
"Cordelia?" Fred asked cautiously as she entered the main office
"What is it Fred?" Cordelia said evenly, hunched over paperwork
"Maybe you should go home, get some sleep."
"Cordelia it's one o'clock in the morning. You can't do this every night."
Cordelia looked up from the paperwork and she did not look happy. "So you think we should just give up? You think we should just forget about Angel and move on?"
"No," Fred said firmly "I could never think that. We'll keep looking for Angel until we find him, but it's been three months and you have to get some sleep at some point."
"I slept last night." Cordelia lowered her head over the paperwork.
"For three hours," Fred protested "Cordelia please-"
Gunn ran into the office. "I've got a lead!"
Cordelia was on her feet in less than a second. They all headed to the lobby. Cordelia pulled a sword from the weapon's cabinet. Fred grabbed a crossbow and Gunn picked up his trusty ax. "Can I come?" They all turned to the stairway and looked at Conner.
"Sure," Cordelia said "But only if you listen to everything we say."
The boy grinned. "I promise." He ran to the weapon's cabinet.
Fred saw a small smile on Cordelia's face. Conner was the only thing that could make her smile these days. With Angel missing and Wesley alienated from the group times had been tough for all of them, but Cordelia had taken it the hardest. Fred wanted to say something, anything to bring her comfort, but she knew the only words that could help were 'we found Angel'.
"Let's go." Gunn said
Gunn stopped his truck in the middle of the empty street. "These are his hunting grounds." Gunn said "He should show up at any moment."
"And he'll tell us where she is." Cordelia said, no question in her voice
Conner saw a shadow approach the truck but didn't say anything. Something hit the truck bed. The four of them got out of the truck. The vampire in the back picked up Gunn's ax and Cordelia's sword. Fred pointed her crossbow at him. "We just want to talk." She said
"And that's why you came into my boss's territory packing all this heat?"
"Your boss knows what we want." Gunn said "He gives us the info, we leave and never come back. From where I'm standing that's a pretty good deal."
Conner heard the vampires sneaking up behind them well in advance, but didn't say anything, allowing them to make their own presence known. "Not from where I'm standing."
The group turned around, except for Fred who still had her crossbow leveled at the first vampire. Cordelia, Gunn, and Conner all had stakes out and were facing the six new vampires that were led by the one who had spoken. "You really want to do this?" Gunn asked
"How often does a vampire get an opportunity like this?" The lead vamp asked
"An opportunity to get his ass kicked?" Cordelia asked
"Kill them all." The vampire said
Fred fired her crossbow, dusting the vampire in the truck bed. She ran to collect their weapons. Meanwhile Cordelia was doing hand to hand with a vampire, trying to get her stake into its chest and barely managing to keep her footing. Conner was holding back two vamps and Gunn was holding back three. Fred tossed Cordelia her sword and Cordelia caught it and decapitated her foe in a single move. Cordelia turned and separated the head of one of the vampires Gunn was facing from its body. Fred decapitated the second one with Gunn's ax. The third, the leader, Gunn threw up against the truck. Conner dusted both his vamps in quick succession. He could have at the beginning, but he had wanted to draw this out. Gunn placed his stake against the lead vampire's chest. "How about where you're standing now?" Gunn asked
"I'll tell you everything you want to know." The vampire said, terrified
"Good," Gunn said "Start singing."
The vampire told them where the female vampire they were looking for lived. When the vampire was done Gunn stared at him, trying to ascertain if he had told the truth. Gunn decided he had and staked the vampire, coating the truck's hood with dust. "Come on." Cordelia said, already climbing into the truck "We're burning moonlight."
Lilah looked over at the person she was sharing the bed with. "You're still here." He said
"Just resting," She said "I have to be back at work in twenty minutes."
"Yes and the coalition of all that is evil frowns on tardiness."
"Not so much frowns on as decapitates or sets on fire, but yeah." Wesley smirked. It still sometimes stunned her how much he had changed. The old Wesley wouldn't have found that funny at all. "You'd fit in great with your punctuality and stuffiness."
"Still trying to bring me over to the dark side Lilah?"
"It's just a formality at this point." She said with a grin "And we have great dental."
"I floss." He told her, completely deadpan
"Well there are other advantages. You would know."
"Right; well you can leave now." He told her
She got out of bed and started to collect her clothes. She had just pulled her dress over her head when she felt his hands grab her roughly by the arms, holding her in place. He turned her around, facing her towards him. His mouth pressed against hers. She felt his hot breath in her mouth, devoid of love or even real passion. All she felt was lust, the most base of needs. She smiled. "I have to go." She shoved him away. He looked at her like meat, no emotion in him.
"I'll see you later." He said
"What makes you think there'll be a later?" She asked
"I don't think, I know." He told her
She shook her head and headed out. He was right. Wesley watched her go. When he was sure she was gone he unlocked his closet door and opened it to reveal the bound and gagged woman there. Justine stared at him with a mixture of fury and terror. "Let's go for a boat ride."
The truck pulled to a stop in front of the abandoned industrial building. Cordelia got out without a word. She pulled her sword from the truck bed and headed for the entrance. Fred and Gunn rushed to catch up. Conner hung back, looking at the shadows that filled the night. "I'm going to do a sweep." He said "Make sure no vamps sneak up on us this time."
"Don't go by your-" Conner was already gone and Cordelia shook her head. "That boy,"
"Never listens." Gunn agreed
"Should we go after him?" Fred asked
"We can't catch up." Gunn said "Let's just do what we came here to."
Cordelia nodded and they all headed for the top floor of the building. When they entered the clearly occupied room in the abandoned building they went on high-alert. But their quarry wasn't there. "Maybe she knew we were coming." Fred suggested "That window has a view of the front of the building, she would have seen the truck stop and might be on alert if she heard we were looking for her." Cordelia walked over to the window and looked down at Gunn's truck.
"Maybe she'll come back." Gunn said
"No," Cordelia said "She won't." She started for the door.
"Where are you going?" Gunn couldn't believe she was just giving up.
"This is pointless." Justine said "You'll never find him and even if you did they wouldn't take you back. People like you and me don't get second chances, we get what we deserve."
"We all get what we deserve." Wesley agreed "But I will find him, or you'll rot away in that closet. I promise you that." He didn't even turn from the wheel when he spoke to her.
Justine hated boats, always had; but this one was the worst. She hated being stuck in the middle of the ocean under the cold dead moon with the man keeping her prisoner, but she hated getting back to dry land as well, being put back in the closet for another eighteen hours. "I believe you." She said "Even though promises from someone like you aren't worth much."
"Right," Wesley said "As opposed to someone like you, who slits people's throats and kidnaps children. You're a paragon of moral virtue."
"Yeah, kidnapping children, that is low. The only thing lower I can think of is kidnapping your friend's child. That's just about as low as it gets, don't you think Wes?"
"Suit up," He said "Radar hit something."
Her heart skipped a beat. She hated it down there, under the cold dark water. She eyed a heavy wrench on a table. "Why don't you go down this time?" She asked, reaching for the wrench "Why do I have to do all the work?" She closed her hand around the wrench.
"I'd rather not kill you Justine." He didn't move, didn't avert his eyes from the sea.
She stood still for a moment, then released the wrench. "Me to," She mumbled.
The vampire heard someone clear his throat behind her. She turned to look at one of the people who had climbed from the truck. But there was something else familiar about him. "Who are you?" Then she realized, he was the boy she had seen on the beach while hunting.
"I'm Conner." She'd been trolling for drunk college kids when she'd seen him wrestling in the waves and incapacitate a man. He'd dragged the man away with a woman's help.
"What can I do for you Conner?" She was cautious, she'd seen what he could do.
"You know something about my dad."
"I don't think I do."
"He went missing in your hunting grounds." Conner pulled out a stake.
"If this is about what you did kid, I didn't see anything." Conner paused and then pressed the stake against his arm, drawing a long bloody wound. "What are you doing?" She asked
Conner lunged forward. The vampire tried to escape, but he was too quick. He drove the stake into her heart. A pile of dust landed on the roof. A drop of blood slid from his arm and hit the pile of dust on the ground. Conner stared at the dust. That's all they ever were in the end.
"Conner!" Conner looked up and saw Cordelia entering the roof with Gunn and Fred. Her maternal concern was carried in her voice. She ran toward him. He felt a pang in his heart when he saw the anxiety on her face. He hated hurting her. She put her arms around him. "Conner are you all-" She looked at the dust on the ground. "You killed her." Cordelia's voice was emotionless. She looked away, holding something back, holding it in. "Did she say anything?"
Conner shook his head, torn between guilt and anger. "She just attacked me. I had to defend myself." He displayed his arm to the group. Sympathy appeared in Cordelia's eyes.
The same could not be said for Gunn. "This wouldn't have happened if you'd taken backup!" His frustration was tangible. "What were you thinking? You just dusted our only lead!"
"Charles," Fred said in attempt to placate him
"We've been tracking this vamp for weeks and all of that effort amounted to nothing because you ran off without any backup and dusted her!" Gunn turned away in disgust.
Conner watched the man go with rage boiling in his chest. "So I was supposed to just let her drink me?" Conner shouted at Gunn's departing back "Would that make you happy?"
Cordelia put a hand on Conner's shoulder. "Conner," She said "Please," He heard the pain in her voice and bit his tongue. She took his arm in her gentle grasp and looked at it. "We should bandage this when we get back to the hotel, come on."
Conner followed Cordelia and Fred back to the truck. Gunn was already in the driver's seat seething. Conner hopped into the truck bed. "I'll ride in the back."
Cordelia looked like she was about to protest then looked from Conner to Gunn. She nodded and got in the truck with Fred. Conner sat in the back with his arms around his knees which were pulled against his chest. So he'd been seen, it didn't matter. The only one who knew what he had done was dust now. No one would ever find Angel, Conner was safe.
Angel sat in an armchair in front of a roaring fire, with Cordelia sitting in his lap, curled against his chest. Conner was asleep in another chair, a book lying on his chest, which rose and fell, marking his breaths, his life. The book slid out of his hands onto the floor. Conner woke up with a start. He stared at Angel. "Hey dad," He grinned. "You should get some sleep."
"Yeah," Angel said "But I don't want to disturb mom."
"Sure," Conner said "You don't have to." Conner stood up and approached Angel and Cordelia. He pulled a stake from his back pocket and raised it high.
Angel's eyes snapped open when he felt the motion. His prison was being raised up through the water. It was another dream. It was always a dream. He preferred the other dreams, the ones where he was in pain and terrified. They didn't give him false hope. The metal container broke the surface of the water. Angel saw figures through the small window in his prison. He heard metal scraping against metal. He felt something against his skin. It was something that had once been familiar, but now felt alien. It was the cold night air. It was real. He felt his mouth being pried open and blood being poured down his throat. Angel wanted the blood, but he had forgotten how to swallow. He couched, sending the blood flying. He heard a voice. "He needs human blood." Wesley, what was he doing at the bottom of the ocean? Oh yeah, this wasn't the bottom of the ocean. This was somewhere else. Where was it? It was dark, nice.
"You're not going to feed me to that thing." A woman, who was she?
"No, your blood's much too thin." Angel smelt something familiar, something that spoke to the demon in him and awakened his instincts. He felt something being pressed against his mouth. It was hot, full of life. Human blood dripped into his mouth. Angel sucked in the warm life-carrying fluid. He felt himself being rejuvenated. To soon the font of blood was pulled away.
Angel didn't have the strength to move, but he could now take in his surroundings. He was on a boat. Wesley was there with Justine. How odd, maybe he was still hallucinating. Yes, he was still hallucinating because there was Darla, walking up to Angel from behind Wesley who was bandaging his arm. "Looks like our boy takes after his mommy." She said "I'm so proud."
"No," Angel moaned
"Our special boy," She said "My special boy,"
"He's not yours." Angel said "You can't have him."
Justine said something he didn't hear, but it was this. "Sounds like he remembers what you did. Do you think he'll forgive you because you saved his life?"
Angel saw Wesley look over at him. The man's face was full of pain. Conner stepped up to Darla and grinned at Angel. "We'll never be a family." He said "You'll never be a dad."
"Never, never," Angel said
Gunn was in the office, putting away the files Cordelia had left out. She'd collapsed into a bed upstairs after bandaging Conner's arm. Cordelia had been pushing herself too hard and had reached the limit of her endurance. He heard Fred enter the office. "She was our last lead."
"First, last, and only." Gunn agreed "We're back to square zero."
"We need help." Fred said
Gunn stiffened. "I don't want to talk about this."
"Well I do." She said, affronted "We need to talk about this."
"Wesley doesn't want anything to do with us."
"Can you blame him?"
"Yeah," Gunn said "For a lot of things." He stared at her, suppressing his frustration. "I don't want to talk about them though. Wesley made it clear to me that he's done with us."
"Charles he's our friend-"
"He was our friend." Gunn cut her off "Not anymore,"
"Charles we can't just forget about him, pretend that he never existed."
"We could if you didn't keep bringing him up." Gunn's aggravation was coming to the surface. "He's never coming back. So we might as well pretend he was never here."
"What do you mean 'keep bringing him up'? When do I keep bringing him up?"
"Look," Gunn said "I said I don't-"
They heard the front door open. The couple ran out into the lobby and saw the two people they least expected to see, much less together. "Angel!" Fred ran toward the vampire. Wesley deposited Angel onto the couch. Angel looked disoriented, disconnected from reality. Wesley started to walk away without a word. "Wesley wait!" Fred shouted "Where are you going?"
Wesley paused. "Nowhere," He said
Fred looked from the weakened Angel to her old friend. "How did this happen?"
Wesley hesitated again. "It was Conner. He and Justine locked him in a box and dropped it to the bottom of the ocean." Wesley took in their looks of horror and disbelief. Was that how they had looked when they'd found out he had betrayed them? He imagined so.
"Why?" Fred asked
"You'd have to ask Conner that." Wesley said before he walked away
Fred and Gunn just stared in disbelief as the door swung shut, unable to process this new information. They heard footsteps on the staircase. They looked up and saw Conner looking at the scene in the lobby. He looked from Angel, to Fred, to Gunn, back to Angel again. Conner took off running up the staircase. Fred and Gunn started after him but they were no match for his speed. As Conner reached the top floor Cordelia stepped from around the corner and used the hilt of her sword to hit Conner in the face. Conner's momentum made the injury that much more severe. He hit the ground moaning. Cordelia drove the sword into the ground right next to the boy's head. Fred and Gunn stared slack-jawed at where the sword lay imbedded a centimeter from Conner's check. Conner looked up at Cordelia who loomed over him, furious.
"Just tell me why." Her voice was a deadly calm. "Tell me why you did this."
"I-I…" Conner stuttered, frightened "He deserved-"
Cordelia grabbed Conner by the front of his shirt and threw him against the wall. Conner made no move to defend himself against her when she punched him in the gut. "Try again," She whispered in that same deadly calm "And try a lot harder Conner."
"He killed Holtz." Conner said
"That's a lie!" Fred protested
"Shut up Fred." Cordelia said, causing Fred to step back in shock "Conner and I are having a conversation." She never looked away from him. "Why do you think that?"
"Justine told him." They all watched as Angel struggled to the top of the stairs. Fred and Gunn tried to offer him support but he waved them off. "She killed him and framed me."
Now all eyes were on Conner as he took this in. "Liar," Conner spat
"She confessed everything to Wesley." Angel said "And then he made her tell me."
"So what you guys are buddies now?" Conner asked
"No," Angel said "But he did tell me you've been living the good life in my house while I starved at the bottom of the ocean for three months. That sort of rubs me the wrong way."
"So now what?" Conner asked "You kill me?"
Angel chuckled. "It's always about the death with you." Angel said "Why is that?"
"I was born to two murderous demons." Conner said "Might be a contributing factor."
"Huh," Angel said "That's what Darla said, weird."
"Uh Angel," Gunn said "You okay man?"
"Yeah," Angel said "Can I have a minute alone with my son?"
Fred and Gunn shared a look. "Are you sure that's a good idea?" Fred asked
"Go," Cordelia said "I'll stay."
Angel didn't protest so Fred and Gunn headed back down to the lobby. Conner sent a weary gaze toward his father. Angel returned the stare. For a moment there was silence. Conner realized this was a battle of wills. He intended to win. Two minutes later he caved. "What?"
"Did you ever think about what it must be like for me?" Angel asked "Ever feel guilty?"
Conner shook his head. "No,"
"You're lying." Angel said "I've been lied to by you enough to tell. Maybe there is hope for you Conner. Maybe one day you'll be a champion. Now get out." Angel stepped away from the staircase. "If you ever want to apologize, stop by. Until then, stay gone."
Conner cautiously approached the staircase. Then he took off running toward the exit.
Wesley sat at his desk. He remembered sitting here three months ago making a promise to himself. He would find Angel, he owed him that much. When Wesley had found Angel, or at least found out what had happened to him, he would allow himself to have his reward. Now Angel was back at the Hyperion safe and sound. Wesley could have what he had wanted three months ago. He put the glass next to the bottle of very expensive scotch. He reached for the bottle of pain pills, the ones he hadn't been taking as often as prescribed. He poured a handful of pills into his palm. He stared at the little white pills. He'd considered leaving a note, but there was no one to read it, no one who would want to read it. His father would see the suicide as a sign of weakness, an insult. It would never occur to the man that his son had been working through something that he needed help with. As for the remaining members of Angel Investigations, would they even notice he'd left the world? He liked to think so, liked to think that they might care, but he couldn't think it, not really. This was one of the few times in his life that Wesley wished he wasn't so smart, that he could lie to himself. He poured the very expensive scotch into the glass, filling it to the rim. Some would spill, but it wasn't like he was going to get to drink a second glass. Wesley stared at the pills in his hand. He'd imagined this moment for three months. He would wake up, try to get some work done, have some fun with Lilah, take Justine out on the boat and then lie in bed thinking about this moment until he got up and started the cycle over again. Three months of unending pain, of just going through the motions until he had earned his end. Father was right he thought; he was weak. He was too afraid to keep going. He wasn't strong enough to move past his failures. So many failures, a failure of a life. So much unhappiness. He'd gotten used to it, and then something had happened. But he couldn't think of that, could never think of that again. He couldn't remember what it had been like to be a part of something, to belong somewhere. He had changed, been hurt, but this time he had become stronger. He hadn't let his pain erode at him, he had used it. This time he had something to fight for, a reason to care. But not anymore. He was different, not a repressed school boy with delusions of grandeur hiding secret shames. Now he was a man, a man who couldn't look at himself in a mirror. He was a man who had found his inner demons and let them out. He hated himself. Now he was going to kill the person he hated most in the world. He was going to send that person to hell. Nobody would care, nobody would weep. That was just.
He heard a knock at the door. There was only one person who knocked on his door these days. Wesley looked at the pills in his hand and the full glass of scotch. She would go away if he didn't answer. "Come on lover!" He heard her call "I just had a great day and I need to celebrate." She sounded so happy. It was funny. The idea of two people he had hated getting together for the most unholy couplings, himself and her, had seemed fitting. He got to let out all the repulsive urges he had spent so long hiding from, because there was no reason not to anymore. She was just as disgusting and screwed up as he was. She made him forget, for little stretches of time. Then he looked at her and he hated himself even more. "I know you're there."
How was that? How could she know? Had she seen his car in the parking lot? He was curious, not about how she knew he was here, but about why she was so eager to see him. There must have been something that had happened. Maybe she had just closed a troublesome case, ordered the slaughter of some innocent. "We have twenty-four hour surveillance on the Hyperion." She said "I have to say you had me fooled with your cold as ice routine."
So that was how she knew. He stared at the pills. Was her joy connected to Angel's return? Did she have some plans for the vampire with a soul? It seemed pointless to have saved Angel just so Lilah could enact some vicious move against him. Then again Wesley would be hard-pressed to find something about his life he didn't find pointless. But if he could find out what Lilah had planned and warn Angel, then at least his last action on this earth wouldn't have been. There was something to that. Wesley poured the pills back into the plastic container and put it in his desk drawer. He stood up to answer the door. When he opened the door he saw a leering Lilah Morgan leaning against the frame. "There you are lover boy." She said
"I was sleeping." He complained
"As you should be after a hard day's work." She said "Saving Angel, getting the senior partners' prophecy boy out of cold storage, which we appreciate." She leaned forward and kissed him. "I got a fair bit accomplished today as well. Killed my boss and took over the L.A. branch."
Wesley raised an eyebrow. "Good for you." He said
"You just have to know how to play the game." She said "Now are we going to do this or what?" So Lilah had been promoted, no need to warn Angel about that. He could turn her away and get back to what he was doing. But her kiss had stirred him, and what did it matter what his last act was? If he was going to hell anyway, he might as well indulge himself while he could.
He stepped out of the doorway, giving her access to his apartment. "Come in."
Angel sat on his bed, downing a quart of pig's blood. He heard a knock on the door. He recognized Cordelia's knock. "Come in." He wiped his mouth and set the jar of blood aside.
She came in, her face full of sympathy. "Are you okay?"
"I'll mend." He assured her
"I know." She said "That's not what I meant."
Angel sighed. "I figured." He ran his fingers through his hair. "I don't…"
Cordelia came in and sat down next to him. "Take your time."
"Thank you," They sat in silence for a little while until Angel found the words. "I love him so much, more than I ever thought I could love a person. All I wanted was what was best for him." Angel struggled with the next part. "So he dumped me into the bottom of the ocean."
Cordelia leaned against his shoulder. He could feel her heartbeat. "I'm sorry."
"He saved me." Angel said
"Wesley?" Cordelia clarified
"Why did he do that?"
"Why wouldn't he?" Cordelia replied
"Well for starters." Angel said "I tried to kill him."
"Sure," Cordelia said "But all things considered, I think he understands."
"This doesn't change anything." Angel said "I can never forgive him."
"I don't think I can either." Cordelia said "But he did save your life, so maybe we should hold off on the homicide thing yeah?"
Angel chuckled despite himself. "That was just a…" He couldn't figure out what he meant. "I don't want to kill him, I just can't ever forget what he did."
"I never will." Cordelia said "I don't think any of us can. It's… unforgivable."
Angel nodded. "But Conner, he's my son. It's different."
Cordelia sat up straight, lifting her weight from him. Angel looked at her. He tried to make out what was in her eyes. "No, it's not different, you only perceive it to be."
"We want it to be different, but the only different is in that want. You want Conner to be your son, and I want that as well. But Angel, it isn't any different. I can't lie to myself."
Angel nodded. "Well," He said "It doesn't matter right now, they're both gone."
Cordelia leaned against him again. "But you're here." She said "And I'm so glad."
Conner sat on the edge of the overpass, watching the cars go by under him. They reminded him of the demon stampedes he sometimes saw in Quor'Toth. Conner thought about what Angel had said. Was it true? Could it be true? Had Justine killed Holtz? He refused to believe it, but even as he was refusing a part of him knew. A part of him had known for a long time. Conner swung his feet. Conner wasn't stupid. He knew that Holtz had lied about a lot of things, but the man was still his father and Conner loved him. But if Holtz had killed himself, or had Justine do it for him, than Holtz wasn't the man Conner thought he was. Holtz couldn't really have loved him if he had left Conner here on purpose; left him to finish Angel. Conner had done what he was supposed to like a good boy, he had taken revenge, but that had come back to bite him big time. Now he was out here all alone, and Cordelia hated him. Cordelia, the mother he had never had. She had loved him, without reservation and with her whole heart.
Conner got to his feet, full of nervous energy. He was angry, but unsure who he was angry with. So he just ran. He wanted to find something to kill. The night was full of creatures.
"You should have seen the look on Gavin's face when I told him to pick up Linwood's head. I thought he might wet himself right there in the conference room."
Lilah was on top of Wesley, her mouth against his skin. She could feel all the little imperfections that made up a human epidermis. She could feel his scar. Under his skin she felt the flow of his blood. Was what she sensed now something vampires were attuned to always? He gripped her, felt her body, the shape of it. It was just that, a body. It didn't matter to him that the woman inside was evil, that he should hate her, that he had hated her. She was just meat, like all of them. She was just another animal making its way through the senseless world postponing a senseless death. Good and evil, right and wrong, these concepts that had defined him no longer held any meaning. All that mattered was her body and those pills in his desk drawer. So he lay in bed, feeling her, in some way a part of her; he listened to her story. On some level it amused him.
He took in the scent of her hair, her expensive conditioner. "Why didn't you kill him?"
Wesley nodded, his cheek brushing against her hair.
"Cold-blooded murder Wes? How dark," He could hear the smirk he couldn't see.
"You hate him, why not kill him?"
"I'd rather see him suffer." She said "Besides, if I have to deal with an interoffice rival I prefer an incompetent like Gavin to someone who actually knows what they're doing like Lindsey." She pulled away, severing their connection, rendering them two lost souls again.
"Where's the sport in that?" He asked her
She lay next to him, as close as a person can be to another, and a million miles away. She kept that cocky smile, the one she could never let down in front of men. She would never let them know what was under it. "That's what I have your friend Angel for." She said
"He's not my friend." Wesley's face and tone gave no hint of the emotion hiding in him.
"So then why did you save his life?"
"I owed him one."
"Right," Lilah said "For kidnapping his son."
Wesley got up. "Get out." He told her
"Sensitive much?" She asked, unmoving
"No, I'm just bored."
She sat up, as inscrutable as him. "I was just getting started."
"Well I'm done." He told her "I have things to do."
"Like what?" She asked
"Like getting some sleep." He said "Leave. Now."
"The man of many secrets." She gathered her clothes. "See you later hot shot."
"There is no later." He said "Don't come back."
This gave her pause. "So you're going back to the clean living then?"
"No, I just don't ever want to see you again."
"Fine," She pretended not to care. "One more for the road?" She dropped the clothes she had been picking up. The hurt she felt at being treated like a whore didn't even approach the surface. Her demeanor was as unaffected as ever. She crawled back into the bed.
When they were done she left and Wesley listened to her retreating footsteps. They lulled him to sleep. He did not dream. It was a peaceful sleep, his first real one in months.