Notes and Disclaimers: Buffy the Vampire Slayer & Angel the series and all that not mine. Not for profit ever. Thanks to Leksa for the initial request. Thanks to e and tigs for super awesome beta action. Title from Leonard Cohen.
So Buffy looked at one of the five catalogues Dawn left on her bed and picked two classes. Just for the summer. Getting her feet wet. She went with poetry and history, two things she'd dropped way back when.
"Never said I was stupid," she muttered as she filled out the forms.
The dreams started right after she got her bill and her schedule. She diagnosed them as classic anxiety dreams when she was trying to take a test administered by Wesley while Darla hummed in the seat behind her. She'd done well in Psych. And the next night when Wesley stood in the middle of the Sunnydale High library and quizzed her over and over again on astral projection and Jules Verne. "Was this even on the reading," Angel murmured, fidgeting next to her. "I tried to do the reading, you know." He never looked at her.
The fourth night, Buffy suspected something else might be going on. There was Wesley again standing by a portable chalkboard, but he looked scruffy and stubbly. Willow leaned in from her left and said, "Like the Marlboro Man's cousin or something, right?" Buffy nodded. That was wrong, though.
Wesley rapped his pointer against her desk and said, "Pay attention, Miss Summers. Do you think this won't matter?"
She said, "Sorry."
Wesley turned back to the blackboard and tapped it. "As it says here, time travel is lonely." Wesley talked and talked about how Slayer dreams were like time travel, astral projections going forward and back in time, reports filtered through the subconscious, possible futures, important moments of the past. Buffy thought, I knew that, and then, no, I didn't. Was that right? She needed a pencil to write down what Wesley was saying.
She looked to her right and saw sneakers first. Boy sneakers, big feet, jeans. She didn't recognize the boy sitting next to her at all. Maybe this was more than she thought. He turned to look at her as Wesley rapped his pointer one more time, saying "To protect and serve and save the innocent, Slayers do not work like this. They prevent, defend, hunt."
Buffy said, "Whoa, Wes, chill," and woke up.
She didn't remember her dreams the rest of the week. Then it was Monday and she started her classes that morning. Dawn offered to make her breakfast. "You have to be fully fortified for studying and learning. Using the head is best with lots of vitamins crammed in your gullet." She grinned and pointed at the three cereal boxes on the counter. "I can put all of them in one bowl. I saw it on the Gilmore Girls and I've tried it once and it's really good. Really."
Dawn started talking about her classes, the ones she had, the ones she'd already taken in the first part of the summer and her deep academic thoughts. Buffy was not up for this, not on just one cup of coffee that lacked any kind of sugar or chocolate. She said, "You know, I was thinking, have you ever considered that Slayer dreams might be a form of astral projection forward and back, like, in time and then filtered through each Slayer's subconscious?" Buffy blinked and thought, come on, this would so work on Giles.
"Huh," Dawn said. "That's, wow, Buffy, that's really interesting. You know, I read a theory about Slayers having -- huh." Dawn stood up quickly and started walking back to her room.
Buffy pushed her soggy pink and blue cereal away and drank the last of her coffee. "Off to class, have a good day!" When she was outside, she thought, Thank you dream-Wesley. She loved her sister, but no one should have to hear about Indo-Gary Sinise whatever linguistic theory before two cups of coffee. Maybe even three.
When she got to class, she looked to her right and saw those same sneakers and had that boy staring back at her for a moment before he went back to note-taking, she sighed.
Not just an anxiety dream. Damn astral projecting time traveling filtering Slayerness, sending her a message on her first day back to class.
Dream boy wasn't in her history class and she was thinking of chalking the whole thing up to ignore now, ignore until attacked for once, damn it, when she saw him sitting at the bench by the bus stop. She sighed and sat down next to him. "Has the bus come yet?" It was a polite enough opening given that he was probably going to try to kill her.
He looked up and said, "No. I don't think so." Then he smiled and said, "You're in the poetry class."
"I am," she said. "I think I've decided I don't like poetry."
"Wilkamin isn't so bad. I mean, he's tough the first day to scare you and then he calms down."
"Clearly, you've had another class with him," she said.
"Last semester. And he did the same thing, first class was very serious and strict and pay attention and then he was pretty easy."
"Last session, this summer?" She had crossed her legs and thought, I'm flirting. Well, then again, she thought, his job was to kill, hers was to flirt.
"Um, no. Not here, at college." He looked down, embarrassed.
"You go to Berkeley, right?"
"No," he said quickly. "Stanford."
She laughed. "I get it, I get it, big rivals. I'm so sorry I thought you might be going to Cal. So, you're planning to be a poet or you're an English major or --"
He put his book back in his bag. "Nope. I'm pretty sure poet is off the list for jobs. I mean, pay sucks."
"Unless you work for Hallmark."
"Are those poets, really?"
Soon-to-be-trying-to-kill-Buffy-Dream boy had a really nice smile. And she really wasn't getting the killer vibe. She relaxed and said, "Maybe not. Okay, not going to be a poet. Me neither. I've also decided I'm not going to be a mathematician."
"Also, not a chemist. Or physicist," he said. "Well, not for me. I'm sure of that."
"Big no to both of those. And if you keep going all that's left is digging ditches."
He stood up and said, "I don't think it's a job anymore. I think they have a machine that does that now."
"Are you sure? I could so totally do that one."
"Maybe settle for construction?"
She said, "I did that once. And I was good, too. I mean, it was just one day, but the only one day thing totally wasn't my fault. I should have gone back. Not to that site, but another one."
"Way better than being a poet," he said. "And, um, also, hi, I'm Connor."
"I'm Buffy. You're heading out now?"
He blinked at her name. Just when she thought he wasn't evil.
He said, "You know, if you want a ride -- I have a car." He even blushed a little.
"Really? I hate the bus. I would be super happy to do that."
He had a neat car and took instructions well. Maybe a serial killer (neat car) or a minion to a demonic master (took instructions well). It really was a pity, because he was totally nice. And cute. And a good driver. She said the last bit out loud.
"Thank you. You don't have a car, huh?"
"I don't drive. I passed all the other ones, swear, but not so much with Driver's Ed."
He said, "I learned through magic, shoved right in my head." She briefly debated if she could get out of the car after snapping his neck without anyone noticing. He grinned, "Kidding."
She smiled back. Definitely evil. School always turned out the same for her.
Dawn didn't buy it. "I think you're being paranoid."
"Paranoid? Dawn, I had a dream. My dreams are special."
Dawn did her shoulder bounce head roll gesture of 'whatever' and said, "Duh. But not always. Also, let's say it was a Slayer dream, okay? When you dream of someone who's all evil in your special dreams, they do evil things. Or symbolically evil things. They don't just sit there and look at you."
"So you think he's nothing? Why are you dissing my spider sense? You were all excited by the astral projection thing and that came straight from the dream. Also, let's not forget, I thought he was cute and we were flirting."
"Okay, part a? Your astral projection thing was a good idea and it totally ties into these questions Giles and I have been having about these converging dreams Slayers are having, like, all over the world. And you may not have thought about it, but it's a proven thing that spirits of dead Watchers can enter the dreams of Slayers, even perfectly ordinary ones. So --"
"See, it might have been Wesley! Coming to me to warn me. With tests. Which really, that's so Wesley right there."
Dawn held up her hands. "Hey, pause it. I had a part b and a part c. And you're going to listen to them." Buffy sat back and crossed her arms. "Look, part b is that I don't accept your thinking some guy is cute as evidence of evil. And you shouldn't either. And you've made me forget part c which is so annoying."
"Hey, look at my track record, Dawn. For me cute is generally evil."
"That's not true. Lame Owen and stupid Scott and stinky Parker? Not evil. Lame, stupid and jerky, sure. Angel? Sure, evil later, but not when you thought he was cute. Riley? Cute. Not evil. With the exception of Spike and some spell-induced wackiness, your instincts are not cute equals evil. You've just convinced yourself of that."
"At the very least, I have bad taste." Buffy sat back further. "Plus, he's cute and not my type. Clearly an unnatural attraction."
"Buffy," Dawn said, leaning forward. "You're my sister and I love you and you're crazy. And when you're not crazy, you're making yourself crazy so you can be crazy. Trust your actual instincts and not, like, your crazy warped instincts."
"Is there some test Dear Abby gave you that tells you the difference?" Buffy stood up. "Aren't my instincts saying this guy is not what he seems and evil?"
Dawn made a frustrated noise. "Your instincts are telling you he might not be what he seems, and your crazy bad instincts are going straight to evil. I say, don't kill him or anything. Just, you know, get to know him since you want to."
"The better for him to kill me." She sighed. "Or not, okay, point taken. And you're right, even if that was a Slayer dream, there was no evil vibe. Or currently evil vibe. Though I'd like to point out I thought Ben was cute, too."
Dawn said, "Ben wasn't evil. He had evil inside him and he was weak. And you didn't go out with him."
"Not because I sensed anything."
"Okay, let's go around in circles on this again. Yay!"
Buffy dropped it.
She still had patrolling after all, because, a week into school, her new Watcher type. Good old Robin Wood.
"It's all right if I stay here? I can look for another place," he said.
"Hey, we got room to spare. Well, one room. And while we were thinking of using it to store shoes, I think you're a better use."
"Were they nice shoes?" He grinned and carried his bags into the back room.
And then it was morning and she had class. "Fee fi fo fum, la la," she muttered, sitting in class. Her professor at UC Sunnydale had been much more engrossing. Or maybe it had been that she wasn't in his class for two hours a day three days a week, cramming a full course into six weeks of summer.
"I smell the blood of an English muffin," Connor said as he sat down. "Sorry, my mom used to say that in the morning when she made breakfast. Not the la la part. That's your innovation." He smiled.
Such a nice boy. Apparently. She'd been going with friendly verging on flirting mode since Dawn had talked her down from possibly killing him. So far there'd been no signs of serial killer-ness or closet demonic knowledge or anything. Just nice and cute. Like Riley, she thought. Or Ben. She sat up straight and smiled back. "My mom didn't go in for morning poems. Not even haikus."
"She stopped when I was thirteen. I made fun of her and she decided I didn't appreciate her art."
"How much art is there in changing man to muffin?"
Connor laughed and whispered, "This was my point."
She was surprised to see him waiting at the bus stop after class but she sat down next to him and said, "Car broke?"
"Nope. I just like to organize my stuff. And one time I sat here and there was this cute girl. That sounded lame, right?"
"Lame if you didn't mean me." Silly cute boy. Who was probably all of 16 and somehow in college. "How old are you?"
"Twenty-one. And you're, like, twenty-two, right?"
"Twenty-five. A card carrying citizen of the bold world of renting cars."
"Except you don't drive. Speaking of which, I can give you a ride again."
"I could rent that ride for you, if you didn't already have a car. Which you do."
As they walked to his car, she decided it was time to go CSI. Investigation was important. "If I'm possibly renting cars for you, I'll need more than age and name."
"Um. Okay, there's Mom and Dad. Who are still married to each other. One sibling, which would be the younger sister. Family manor is back in San Luis Obispo. Do I get to ask you these things?"
"Are you renting a car for me?" She got in the still neat car and put on her seat belt. Safety first. "I was just wondering since I'm getting in your car on a regular basis."
"Regular is twice?"
"We could so do this more often. I like getting rides. Wow, that sounded bad."
He laughed. She liked the way he laughed. "So, you're taking classes over the summer, are you, like, super genius trying to graduate sooner or triple majoring or something?"
"I'm not a super genius, trust me. I got a job working for the history department. Well, one of the professors. But it's only twenty hours a week so it's more of a resume thing than an actual job, so I thought, take some classes. Make it more worthwhile." He paused and then said quickly, "Do you want get some coffee?"
"Coffee is good. I've only just started my worthless job hunt, so right now my afternoons are free."
When she got home, Dawn was out and Robin was in. "I have a date tonight, so patrol tomorrow?"
"You have a date? Is it with the guy you thought was evil?"
"Yup. But now I'm less convinced he's going to kill me."
"So you no longer think he's evil, I take it," Robin said.
"Well, mostly. Enough to agree to the whole driving around in his car thing. Do you think neat cars are a sign of serial killing?"
Robin smiled. "I have a neat car."
"Yes, but you were raised by a Watcher. Which, you know, Giles often had a messy home. So maybe that's not as good an explanation as I think. Are you a serial killer?" She got up to get a drink.
"I'm not going to even bother to answer that."
Dinner with Connor turned out okay, though she did have to edit a lot of her life and avoid specific mentions of boyfriends who were less than alive and ended up referring to her high school graduation as a big explosion of tackiness. He seemed okay with it.
After dinner, they couldn't agree on a movie so Buffy suggested the drive up in the hills option. "No pushing me off or anything." He looked startled. "Kidding!" Another example of bad editing, Buffy thought. In the car she said, "We've covered your boring summer job, my plans to not work in fast food --"
"But I wouldn't say no to Starbucks. They have great benefits for part-time workers. Way better than most places."
"Duly noted. Anyway, jobs, cute stories about our childhood, comparison of annoying younger sisters. And you've watched more TV than I have, but I'm trying to catch up." She tried to think of something to talk about. "Wow, I've had some bad first dates. There was this one time, well, no one needs that story." Owen and that funeral home, Giles hiding with the corpses. Weird thing to remember and weirder to almost bring it up.
"Last year, my mom fixed me up with her coworker's daughter and it turned out the girl I was supposed to meet, she was 45. And had been divorced twice." Connor smiled. "It turned out okay but that was way more awkward than this."
"Did you go out with her again?"
"Sure, she had great legs. No, actually, just the one date."
The view was as pretty as promised. She got out and followed him to the front of the car. He patted the hood and said, "Sit."
"Wow, that is a great view. You can see the whole city. I guess. Can you?"
"Well, it's more than one city." He pointed out bridges and various sights she'd never been to. He said, "I used to drive here from Palo Alto all the time sophomore year."
"Sucky sophomore year, huh? I think it's a curse."
He stared at the city for a moment. "You know, it was more like, sucky freshman spring break and sucky summer. So it wasn't like bad things happened, it was like, I spent the whole year wrapping my head around all of that."
"Do you feel like clarifying that? Vague outlines. Or I can go with the secret agent idea."
He shrugged. "Just, you know. I found out my parents weren't, that I'm adopted and basically found out from my biological father and then he died. But I feel like I've made my peace with it. By aggressively not thinking about it or mentioning it to anyone." He turned to look at her. "But you asked and I told you and that's weird."
"Wow. That sucks. I'm sorry." She stared at the pretty lights and thought about Sunnydale collapsing behind her. "I had a crappy sophomore year, too. I dropped out because my mother died and I had to take care of my sister. And now I've made it all about me, huh?"
"I prefer it being all about you, really. Sorry about your mom."
"Thanks. I still miss her." Buffy watched the lights blink. "So, how about that view, huh?"
He went back to the car and she wondered if this was where the axe showed up. He was just turning on the radio. He sat back down next to her and said, "Was that totally cheesy?"
"Yes. On the other hand, I like cheese."
There were a few minutes of actual comfortable silence and soaking in the view. Maybe this was an actual successful date. Then she looked up and he was looking down and there was leaning, more from Buffy's side than his, she thought. He looked serious and intent. And happy, too. Worried. She was over thinking. Still, he was leaning in as well and then they were kissing. Good kissing, really good kissing. And he did that great thing with his hand in her hair, touching her jaw. He sat back and said, "Do you, um --"
"We could. We could use some verbs."
"I could take you home. Or we could go bowling. Or we could drive around."
She said, "I hate making out in cars. Not that you included that on your list. Ouch."
"No, no, I'd love to. Not the car part, because I really agree with you there. But, um."
Buffy thought about her apartment and about Robin and Dawn. "You have an apartment."
He had a really big smile when he was happy and surprised. Like a little puppy but older and more interested in getting her in bed.
"Big points for still being a careful driver," she said as they walked up to his apartment.
"You missed that red light I ran?" He leaned against the door and said, "Okay, I wasn't expecting this, so give me one minute to clean up?"
"Take down the porn posters, stash the bodies in the closet --"
"Pick up my dirty clothes." He grinned. "It's a studio, so I don't have much space to hide things. Anyway, I put the bodies in the dumpster this afternoon. The smell was awful."
It was only a minute, and then he opened the door and held it for her. She took a moment to think it was neat (serial killer) but didn't smell like bodies or blood, more like lemon fresh pledge. Then the door was closed and she didn't care.
Dawn sipped her coffee and then said, "So you think he's evil maybe and then you're not sure and then you go on a date and then you have sex with him and spend the night. Did that decide any of the evil or not part?"
"I decided to follow your advice. I trusted my hopefully not crazy instincts. Nice, cute guy. Me, an adult who can do this. And, in one aspect, distinctly not-evil because he was very concerned about the birth control issue. Which you always should be," Buffy said, quickly.
"And the sex was good?"
"I feel uncomfortable answering that. You're my baby sister. I feel uncomfortable and ooky."
Dawn raised an eyebrow. "Okay. Whatever. You know you want to. I'm nearly twenty, Buffy, I've had sex."
"I don't like to think about that," Buffy said.
She got the job with its slayer helpful morning and mid-afternoon schedule that also student helpful didn't conflict with her classes schedule. "Excellent all around," she told Robin when she got home.
"So, I finished looking at all the signs Andrew forwarded me. I think we have a problem. But it's smaller than we thought."
"Small like fear demon you can stomp on small? Cause those are the best demons."
"Not that small. And you know, some of your very small demons are still very threatening. And stop me now, because I was about to list them." He nearly smiled. "Anyway, forgetting that frightening moment, I think it's less than a worldwide conspiracy to bring on an apocalypse."
"Half a continent wide, say."
Buffy said, "So what do I need to do? Where are we on plans, strategies, killing things?"
"I don't know that we're even to plans right now. We've narrowed the field. Keep your ears open when you're out patrolling."
"Ah," he said and spent twenty minutes boring her with a description of the possibly prophecy that the possible Chaos demons were possibly trying to make come true with some possible signs.
She was on patrol, walking around, dark alleys, same old same old. She liked it. It was her choice to be doing this and if she decided she couldn't, someone else would. And, if she didn't run into any bad things, she would be home in time to do her homework. This might be good.
Connor called around eleven pm. "Wow, I didn't realize it was so late, I'm sorry."
"Hey, I'm up. I'm even out."
Buffy bit her lip and thought she needed a better editor. "I went to a late dinner with Robin, my roommate, and the weather's nice, so I'm power-walking home."
This, she thought, was a semi-normal kind of life. She had her goofy classes she was doing well in, she had her barista job, she had the cute semi-boyfriend and besides the three nights a week killing vampires and the usually quite creepy conversation about demons and the like around the apartment, it was practically a WB show.
She got off work and called Connor. "Are you home?"
"Yes," he said. "Did you want to come over?"
"You betcha," she said and knocked on his door.
He kissed her at the door and then stepped aside to let her in. She said, "You never invite me in."
He shrugged. "Family superstition. No verbal invites."
"That's a real family superstition? Where does that come from?"
He turned away from her and sat on the bed. "Some thing about the whole family being slaughtered back in Ireland by vampires. I mean, vampires, right? Who believes in that? But," he turned and looked at her. "You're the first person to even notice."
"Huh," she said, leaning against the door. "Maybe I believe in vampires. Not, like, believe in, but think they could possibly exist."
"Well, my high school was really weird. And my college. It would explain a lot. So, you think I'm crazy now, huh?"
"I'm the one not saying 'come on in' because of my family, so who's crazy here?" He smiled and she thought it might be vaguely fake. So hard to tell.
"Well, how do you feel about losing at Super Smash Bros again and possibly making out with a side order of studying?"
And that was a real smile, she thought. He said, "Sounds good."
As much as Buffy liked her apartment and her room and her shoes and her closet arranged in sexiest to patrol-iest order, she sometimes liked sleeping over at Connor's more. It was nice to wake up with someone, especially someone who'd never tried to kill you. And no Marines outside the door counting every time you slept over was nice, too.
She said the Marines part to Connor and he said, "They counted how often you slept over? Was there a quota?" He was always so awake when he woke up, able to speak clearly and think. Like Spike, she thought, and wasn't that annoying.
"No quota. They just didn't like me. One of them didn't like me."
He smiled and said, "What's not to like?"
"You're sweet. I like that." She rubbed her face and wondered how bad her hair was. "I think he resented that I was close to Riley, you know? Huh, Riley. Like you."
He had great water pressure in his bathroom but all the fun shower products were scentless. She stepped out of the shower and thought she should buy the things she liked and have another set here. She wondered why she was thinking that.
When he got out of the shower, she said, "If I hypothetically brought over some of my own things for showering, would you totally wig?"
"Are you going to make me use them? I really hate things with perfume or fruit smells. Any smells."
"I figured that out. But no wig if I had things here?"
He smiled. "If you need more than two drawers, my parents would want you to help with the rent. Otherwise, no wig."
"Which sounds good," Dawn said later, at Buffy's workplace. "No wig. Little joke. Pretty good for three weeks of dating."
"Should I be wanting that after only three weeks?"
Dawn frowned. "Is there a timeline you think you have to make here, Buffy?"
"Maybe. Here I am with my first post-Hellmouth relationship with someone who is, besides one dream, completely normal, and I'm rushing to move in. Or, have stuff when I sleep over. Should I be dating more? Finding other normal guys who Wesley doesn't know? Or what?" She felt creeping nuttiness seeping into her brain. This was all too easy. She hated easy.
"Maybe you should just let things happen. Not like letting them happen to you, but go with the flow. Be in the moment. We're not in Sunnydale. You're not the only one anymore. All those things I always say," Dawn said as she took her latte. "I have classes. You just think. Or don't think. Stop with the thinking entirely. Unless you're in class." She grinned and left.
"And so I face the dilemma," Buffy said.
Robin looked over the counter. "You're thinking of coming out?"
"When you phrase it like that, I think I should ask Willow. Or Andrew." She frowned. "But, like, I like him and it's been a month now. He didn't freak about the I possibly believe in vampires thing which is kinda worrying, but a good sign."
Robin shrugged. "This is the real reason we all end up dating people who work in the industry."
"Because it's hard to say 'vampires are real, I fight them, hey, I've been dead twice and I'm the only girl in the world who's dated two vampires, too, and how do you feel about anchovies cause I like them!'" She sighed.
"Does the anchovy part make you the most nervous? That's where I would bail, frankly."
"I like anchovies, I can admit that," Buffy said. "It's the rest, I dunno. It was easier in Sunnydale. Sunnydale was so weird, you weren't so much telling as stating the obvious in the Emperor's kind of naked way."
"There's no point in telling him unless you think it might be serious," Robin said.
"I know." She looked around the store. "Don't you think Rick's Magic and Stuff is a dumb name?"
"Tell Rick that. You know, he used to have this store in LA. He left when it started raining fire," Robin said. "We were talking once, he used to know your friend Angel."
"Wow." She picked up her purse. "Okay, and on that sad note, I am off to ruin my relationship."
"Good luck with that," Robin said.
She decided to go for his apartment as the place of revelation. Thus, no tainting with bitter accusations of craziness for her place of work or home. She wondered if sex first would be a tacky idea.
"Hey," she said, again with the leaning against the door. Good opening, neutral, friendly. "I have something to tell you."
He sat down. "That sounds ominous."
"And you sat down in advance. Cause I was going to open with you might want to sit down."
He was just staring at her now. Great, she thought, open with fear. She said, "So, vampires are real. Which I know because I've seen them, fought them, killed them. Slayed them, one might say. Which I would, because I'm the Slayer."
"You're fucking kidding me," he said. He sounded angry. Weird, she thought, around the shock. "You're, you're that girl from Sunnydale, you're that Buffy." She just stared as he got up and walked to the kitchen area.
"How do you know that?"
"How, how, how do you just date someone? People get attacked just for knowing you."
"I repeat, how do you know that? And you said you didn't believe in vampires."
"I lied. And you're Buffy. And that's --" He looked revolted. "I can't do this. Can you just leave?"
"No," she said. "You're mad at me and you know about Slayers and me, and hi, I'd like to know how."
He rubbed his face and looked at his hands. "I knew Angel. And Wesley. And Cordelia."
She said, "You did? Wesley?"
"Yeah." There was a really long pause. Then he said, "Angel's my father."
Afterwards, all she could think was that she and Cordelia ended up having a lot in common.
She called Willow and left a message. She had class in two hours. Final presentation and everything. Thank goodness she'd gotten it ready before she left for the encounter of doom and scary oedipal overtones.
She picked up the phone two seconds into the ring tone. "Will?"
"Yup. And wow."
"So really Angel's son, huh?" Buffy actually couldn't feel her fingers anymore.
"Yeah. And, um, he's changed some, right? Because he didn't seem like your type at all. He didn't seem like anyone's type."
"Willow, this is so weird." Weird, awful, unbelievable. Pick a word and you got it.
"Yeah. Are you okay? And also, this feels, you know, déjà vu."
Buffy sighed. "Like we're in the school library and I just found out my boyfriend's a vampire? Oh, wait, that was this one's dad. So fucking weird. I mean, sorry, he doesn't look like Angel. He doesn't sound like Angel. Seriously, I had no idea."
She should tell Dawn and Robin and she didn't want to. She didn't want to think about it or deal with it. She grabbed her books and went to school early.
Buffy sat in the back this time and didn't look at him during his presentation. She focused on the professor for hers and then she was done. Of course, he was waiting at the bus stop. He looked miserable and she thought she could almost see the resemblance to Angel. A little. But she was probably projecting.
He said, "Hey. You talked to Willow?"
"Look, I'm sorry, but, I don't want your life."
"Right. Plus, really weird, that whole Angel thing."
"You mean that you've slept with me and my dad?"
She looked at her feet. "I still don't understand how you got this life."
He pushed at the plastic wall of bus shelter with his finger. "Angel did it. It was his signing bonus, I guess, for Wolfram & Hart. Sign up with the firm and their magic people would erase everyone's memories of me, besides Angel, and give me a whole new life. Parents, sister, pretty good SATs."
"Because the previous one was really shitty and I wanted out of it, anyway? I don't know. He didn't really ask me. He just slit my throat and I woke up in San Luis Obispo."
She said, "I don't think we should break up."
He just looked at her.
"I know," she said, "Weird, creepy, etc. But we have things in common. Plus, I have funny stories. Not many, but some. Dancing demons. Love spells gone wrong."
"I don't have any funny stories." He looked blank. "I just want to graduate college and get a job and never think about any of this again. I'm sorry, that sounds harsh. I guess, if there's an apocalypse or something, you could call." He stood up. "I should go. I'm sorry, I really liked you."
"I liked you, too," she said, but he walked away and probably didn't hear her. Or did hear, she thought later, vamp hearing.
She told Dawn and Robin an extremely vagued-up version of Connor's life, leaving out the possibly gross Angel's son part. Robin thought Connor's reasoning was weak but Dawn thought it made sense. Buffy didn't want to think about it anymore.
She signed up for two more classes for the fall and got a 15 cent raise at work. She started spotting a few more vampires during her patrols and decided to do four nights a week instead of three. She didn't see anything of the Chaos demons Robin kept worrying about. She bought a Nintendo and Super Smash Bros but Robin hated the "pika!" screaming and wouldn't play with her so she was left playing herself most of the time. Dawn thought it was pretty juvenile.
Vampire three and four of the night turned out to be ex-rugby players who both still remembered how to scrum so she was already feeling a little battered when she found Robin. He looked fresh and rested. She hated him. He said, "Have you seen --" when the greenish grey demons came down straight from the rooftops, arms already whipping around.
It was duck and kick and jump and she couldn't lift her shoulder fast enough. She took a punch right on her temple and fell straight back. She was so tired of pain.
She opened her eyes and it was brown. Brown lobby. "Ouch." She rubbed her head and felt nothing but hair. "I know I'm not dead, because that felt different."
"You're not dead. You're unconscious," Wesley said. He was standing by a desk looking Marlboro Man again. "It makes it easier for me. Though still difficult." He spoke slowly, like he was pushing the words out.
"Ah. So not dreams but you pushing your way into my head. Right?" She looked around at the odd brown lobby. "Where is this?"
"The Hyperion. That's right, you never saw it."
"You didn't visit, either," she muttered. "Why didn't you tell me who Connor was?"
"He's alone and no one alive knew he existed."
She shrugged. "He seemed okay with it. Seems."
"He doesn't know everything that's out there."
"Well, message received badly and not clearly. Thanks." She couldn't quite get up. Coma weird, she thought. "Why me? Why --" She couldn't think of all her questions. Her head was starting to hurt.
"You're beginning to awake. You weren't the only person whose head I was trying to get into, Buffy. I have other concerns." He shook his head and walked over to her. "We all have obligations to the people we cared about." He pushed at her forehead and she woke up. Hospital, gray room, Dawn leaning over her.
"Is Robin okay?"
"He's fine. He smushed those demons good. And then they ran off and he got you here. You had a concussion. How are you feeling? Do you remember me? Do you know who the President is?"
Buffy thought about Wesley.
"Be at home," she muttered as she knocked on his door. His car was here, lights were on and she didn't get to finish the litany before the door opened. Connor stared at her and then said, "Apocalypse?"
"Sort of. Robin, my Watcher, has been taken by these demons and I need your help. It's not the end of the world, but I don't want him to die."
He went over to his bed, reached under it and he pulled out a box with a large lock on it. Then he ripped off the lock. Not many boys that strong, she thought.
She took a step back when he pulled out a gun. "Whoa, gun. Remember I said demon? Those don't usually work on those."
"Wes did pretty well with a shotgun." He put the gun in his back pocket or something. She wasn't sure. He'd done it so fast she hadn't seen it. He said, "It won't kill a vampire, but if you shoot him enough times, it'll slow him down." He walked past her and said, "Dawn has the car, right?"
He got in the back seat and Dawn drove. She was babbling. "And the really stupid part is that the stupid demons have their stupid prophecy wrong."
Connor muttered, "That always sucks."
Dawn said, "Yeah. Not only is Robin the wrong person for their thing but it's the wrong month and the wrong day. They really should have got someone who could read a prophecy right or found a better translation. It's kinda sad when you think about it."
Buffy said, "If only killing Robin would really help them end the world, huh?"
They reached the Magic store. Dawn said, "We were all talking and he walked that way. We tried a locator spell and it didn't work at all. So. Um." Dawn thrust Robin's jacket in his hands. "This will help, right?"
He almost smiled. He held it for a moment and then looked around. Then he started walking. Buffy thought she could totally believe he was Angel's son then. Brood, brood, brood. She took a deep breath and set off after him.
"He walked into the alley but the fight was here," Connor said. He bent for a moment and touched the wall. His fingers came away red and Buffy took a deep breath. "There isn't that much blood, so he's probably still alive." Connor glanced up at bricked over window with a tiny ledge twenty feet up. "I'm pretty sure they went up." Then he did, too, with just one jump.
Buffy had always hated it when Angel or Spike did that, that insane vertical leap.
"So we should follow you now?" Dawn looked around like a ladder was just going to show up.
Connor leaned over the edge of the rooftop and nearly smiled again. "They went this way. I'll stay up here, you keep me in sight on the sidewalk."
They went another two blocks, looking like idiots because they were staring upwards. Dawn muttered, "Sorry, excuse me," over and over again even though they didn't run into anyone.
Stupid demons. Connor waved them into another alley and jumped down next to them. "They went into this building through the roof. I went in a little but they're one floor down and we need to coordinate."
He looked at Buffy like she was in charge. Which she was. She absolutely was. She said, "Did you see how many? How's Robin?"
He shrugged. "I could hear them through the ceiling, but the stairs down to that floor let out pretty near where they are."
Buffy looked around the alley. "Let's use that fire escape and see how close we can get." Thankfully the window on the fourth floor hadn't been bricked over. All they could see through the window was a faint glow off to the left.
Connor glanced at Buffy and said, "Me first." He pulled the window open and slipped in. After about five seconds he stuck his hand out to bring Dawn and Buffy in as well.
The entire floor was one big empty room, with a few supports still standing and some boxes shoved in the corners. Over to the left, away from the windows and right by the staircase, there was a fire type thing happening and seven demons gathered around a thank-god-and-anyone-else-listening breathing Robin. "Idiots," Dawn whispered. "They're keeping him alive so they can do the ceremony in the prophecy but it won't work tonight and it won't work on Robin. You have to be more special than that."
Connor spoke quietly, "They think he's special?"
"Probably because he beat them up when Buffy got conked on the head." Dawn looked at Buffy. "What now?"
Buffy wondered for a moment if Connor could handle himself and then figured it'd be stupid to ask. She said, "Connor, you attack that way, and I'll go from here. Dawn, you'll sneak in and grab Robin."
"What's the signal?" Connor drew his gun from his back pocket or wherever he had it.
"When you see I'm close, you start shooting. And then stop before you hit me." He actually smiled at that and then he was just gone. Damn vamp speed. Something to worry over when Robin was safe. She spotted him again, already in position over in the farthest corner.
"Hang back behind me," Buffy said to Dawn and started creeping along the opposite wall to Connor.
Then it was a fight, like every other fight. It took five minutes and she only got walloped three times, just once in the face. Not so bad. She thought she heard the gun fire twice.
She stood over the bodies and said, "Had to rip off that one's face?"
Connor shrugged and rubbed the blood on his shirt. "I didn't learn to fight against people who looked like me."
"What do you mean?" She kicked the closest demon body into the fire.
"You started fighting vampires and they look like people so you find the easiest way to kill gross. These weren't people."
Buffy looked at Dawn. "Robin's okay?"
"Yeah, he will be. We should take him to a hospital."
Buffy said, "We should torch this place. Is anyone else in the building?"
Connor said, "No," and took one of the sticks from the fire to the boxes pushed in the corner. "Go on, I'll meet you outside."
When he jumped down from the burning building, Buffy was resting against the opposite alley wall, cradling Robin. "Dawn went to get the car."
Connor smiled. "I can already hear the fire trucks. She better get here soon."
"Where's your shirt?" He was only wearing a t-shirt now. She'd never known he was a Pearl Jam fan. Maybe it was another fucking sign she missed.
"Threw it on the fire. I can get home on my own from here so you guys can go straight to the hospital."
"So this is goodbye until there's an actual apocalypse?"
He looked down and stopped smiling. Fire bad, Buffy thought. She was really exhausted now that she knew Robin was all right.
"I'm glad your friend is okay," Connor said. When she looked up he was already gone.
"So like his dad," she muttered.
She thought about calling him when they got out of the hospital and Robin came home. "Robin said he totally had a plan, by the way," she would have said. "When we made fun of him for it." But she kept picking up the phone and putting it right down before she dialed. "I've decided that every relationship I've ever had that was worth anything was totally weird, so I totally don't mind that you're his son." That would go over well.
So she didn't call. Instead there was a knock at her door. With a Connor behind it. "Hey," she said because "Did I wish too hard on the phone" would have sounded crazy.
He held up a white cardboard box. "I wanted to bring you this."
Drink, she thought. Having a drink right now would give her something to fiddle with, something to sip whenever she was tempted to say something stupid. She poured herself a glass of lemonade.
"Do you want some?" She waved her hand and spilled lemonade on the counter. I rock, she thought in despair.
He put the box on the counter and helped her mop up everything. "Sorry," he said. "I should have called."
"Not like I'm not home. So, what's up?"
"I brought this for you."
"I left stuff at your place?"
He shook his head. He wasn't looking at her. "No. I mean, you did. But it was, like, a t-shirt. And a People magazine. I recycled the magazine. And I forgot the t-shirt. Really forgot. I'm not doing anything with it."
She shrugged. "One time Spike stole all this stuff from my house, and, well, not one time, many times. Plus then he had this gross Buffybot built. And before that there was a shrine."
He paused with his hands still in the box. "Is that one of the funny stories you didn't tell me when we were going out? Because that doesn't sound that funny, really."
"It wasn't funny at the time, either. But the t-shirt thing made me think of it, sorry."
"Anyway," he said. "Six weeks after Wesley died, I got these in the mail from a friend of his. They're his journals. Except the ones where he apparently went back and corrected everything once he got his memories back. Not the ones that mention me. Or, uh, Darla being pregnant. I kept those. I received them, but I'm not giving them to you." He took a deep breath and handed over ten bound books. "I don't need them, but I thought, information is good. Wesley was always looking things up."
Buffy flipped through the first book. Wesley's time in Sunnydale. "His dad went bonkers looking for these. Even threatened to sue us. Are you sure they're not, you know, cursed or something?"
"I doubt it. I got them from David Nabbitt. He said in the letter that Wesley sent them to him the day before he died with some note about sending them to me if something happened. And Nabbitt's so rich, I don't think Wolfram and Hart could touch him."
"I guess neither of us are turning into frogs or anything."
"I only read the early ones once. He mostly called you the Slayer so I wasn't sure it was you. When we met, I mean. When I heard your name. I really didn't want to think that about you, you know? Plus your picture wasn't in the yearbook."
He pulled a Sunnydale High 1999 yearbook out of the box. "Cordelia's. After, uh, I searched the Hyperion. There were still some of Cordelia's things in one of the rooms, so I took them." He sighed. "No anyone else wanted them."
Buffy didn't know what to say to that. She flipped through the book, stopping when she saw Anya, looking put out, staring at her in black and white. "Thanks for bringing this by. I bet I do know someone who wants it." Merry Christmas, Xander, I got you your dead ex-girlfriend's yearbook. He probably would like it. "And the journals. Thanks."
He was still just standing there. Looking really cute. He said, "So you're still taking classes? Are you going to Berkeley now? And is, uh, Robin okay? I figured he was, but ..."
"Oh, he's fine now. A little banged up, but he's pretty much okay now." Buffy gathered up the journals and the yearbook and put them back in the box. "I'm not going to Berkeley, just lame little community college right now. But I applied to Berkeley. Fingers and toes crossed. Though it's going to be really lame that I'll be a junior and my little sister will be a senior."
"I bet you get in. And maybe Dawn will flunk everything and you'll be the same year," he said, smiling. He was fidgeting. That had to be a good sign. He was nervous and had more to say.
"It was nice of you to come by."
He said, "I actually sort of enjoyed the whole demon killing thing. I mean, I'm pretty good at it. And I'd forgotten that. It's sometimes kind of fun to beat demons up."
She smiled. "Plus we just had one of those little bonding moments, sharing stories."
"The one about Spike who built a robot that looked like you? Are all your stories that creepy?"
"Honestly, yeah. Or they're really sad. One time I killed Angel."
"Sent him to hell for a hundred years. He mentioned that once when he was yelling at me. After I put him in a locked box and sunk him to the bottom of the ocean." He almost smiled. It was nice and kind of creepy. He really was her type after all.
She grinned. "You're thinking 'good times,' aren't you?"
"Not really. I mean, actually, they were really shitty times. But, um, dating you. That was good times."
"Yes. And, you know, we have experiences in common, like you said. And I think if we just, um, set a rule, maybe. Like no talking about Angel. Not ever, but say, not a half hour before dinner. For a while."
"Like food before swimming?" Buffy stood up so they were even closer. "I think you get used to it. All my relationships have been sort of weird if you look at them right."
"You're a slayer who dated a vampire. He took you to prom."
"Two vampires, actually. I dated Spike, too."
"After the robot thing? Wow. So you have to really twist around to think your relationships are weird, huh? Like an acrobat flexible to look at it."
"I'm this close to slapping you," she said.
"Actually, I like that in a woman." He pulled her closer and then they were kissing. She really liked the kissing.
Somewhere in the midst of the kiss, he lifted her up onto the back of the couch and she was starting to think with a little pull, they'd both be on the couch with the nice cushions and the full body contact. He broke away a little and said, "But not as a career, okay?"
"That would be a fun career. Especially if it was you. Were you. Whichever is correct. I meant the fighting demons thing. I don't want it as a career."
"It's pretty much part-time for me these days. It´s not like dating me is signing up for the whole Slayer gig. Or helping gig. If we're dating. Which we are now, right?"
"I hope so. I mean, I had my righteous anger and then I had the regrets and then I started forgetting why I had either. And one night, I was seriously thinking about starting an apocalypse." He smiled. "Kidding. I only thought about it for a second or two."
"Apocalypses actually suck."
"Don't I know it," he said and they finally made it onto the couch. It was perfect after they pushed her books onto the floor.
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