Connor blinked, absolutely dumbfounded at this new arrival. What was one supposed
to say in this sort of situation? He had never before been confronted by a freak
in leather that wanted to talk to him. It was some sort of surreal public service
announcement: Don't take candy from this stranger!
He wasn't sure what his first instinct was. One part of him told him to turn and walk away. The other, the one that had been obsessing about Quortoth all night, told him to punch the guy in the face.
He decided on the happy medium. He pointed to himself. "Are you talking to me?"
"Yes, I am." Andrew stepped forward, raising his chin in pride. He puffed his chest out, obviously trying to come off as powerful. The effect was failing miserably. Even Jamie, who completely lacked superpowers as far as Connor knew, looked ready to burst into mad laughter. "It's about your father."
This caught Connor's attention. There was no way he was taking about his adoptive father. This was about Angel. He took a step back, trying to remember how to breathe. "Jamie, don't you have class?"
"Yeah. Starts in ten." He took a step towards Connor, whispering in his ear, "Listen, I don't like the look of this guy. Makes me nervous. I can skip if you want back up."
Connor shook his head, keeping his eyes trained on Andrew. His predatory nature had gone into overdrive. This boy, who looked barely older than him, threatened his life. Angel calling him on the phone was one thing. Having some flunky show up was another. He wanted that life to stay away from this one. He didn't want his friends to know what he was. "Take off. I'll be fine."
Jamie nodded, giving Connor a shot in the arm. "Watch out. I don't trust that freakazoid."
"Neither do I," Connor growled. He kept glaring at Andrew, listening to Jamie's footsteps as he retreated. His fists tightened, his body tensing, ready to strike at the first hint of provocation. "So you know something about my father. I assume you're not talking about Larry Riley."
Andrew's grin was smug as he tucked his sunglasses into the collar of his t-shirt. He ran a hand over his hair. "No, of course I am referring to the vampyr--"
Connor pushed passed Andrew, stalking down the path back towards his dormitory. He didn't turn around at the feeble squeaks of protest. He forged onwards.
He could hear the scrambled footsteps behind him. Connor took a deep breath, trying to keep himself from lashing out at Andrew. It became harder and harder to control his temper. He needed to remember he wasn't that guy anymore. He didn't lash out at the first unpleasant thing. That was the old him.
Who was this guy? He didn't seem to be evil. Really, he was kind of like the guys Connor used to watch "X-Files" with when he was in high school. That didn't seem like the type of person his father would hang out with.
Then, Lorne didn't seem like the type of person Angel would hang out with. Perhaps this Andrew guy was someone who knew him.
Then why did he not remember him? True, his memories were still a tiny bit fuzzy, but Connor figured he would have remembered him. Maybe it was someone he had known at Wolfram and Hart, like that Spike guy.
Whatever the answer was, Connor was feeling uneasy. It wasn't like Angel to send someone else to him. If he couldn't come himself, why didn't he send Gunn, Wes, Fred or Lorne?
Connor went into his apartment. He stopped in the stairwell. His foot was poised on the first stair. They were finally away from any eavesdroppers. He turned slowly to Andrew, looking him over.
Andrew's gaze darted around nervously. He fidgeted like a twitchy rodent, afraid of the slightly noise.
Connor furrowed his brow, stepping back down to stand level with him. "Are you afraid of me?"
Andrew exhaled, nodding. He took a step backwards. "I have heard many stories about you in preparation for my visit. I am a bit hesitant about saying something you won't like, Destroyer."
Connor smirked, darting forward. He grabbed Andrew by the collar, crushing his sunglasses in the process. "Too late." He hauled Andrew three inches off the floor, slamming him against the wall. "Why are you here?"
"Angel! I was sent by Angel!" Andrew sputtered, flailing his arms. He grabbed Connor's hand, trying to pry his iron grip off of him.
"I don't believe you," Connor snarled. Connor Riley's sweet disposition had completely melted away. It had been 'Destroyer' that had done it. Andrew obviously didn't want the college student. He wanted him to be the Demon Hunter. Connor would make him sorry for calling him out.
Angel wouldn't have sent this guy. Angel desperately wanted him to stay away from the demon world. He wouldn't send someone to him that would call him 'Destroyer'.
"He was supposed to call you!" Andrew rasped, a whine to his voice. "Tell you what was going on! See? This is what happens when you don't have conference calls."
Connor dropped Andrew to the ground. He rubbed his temples. "He left a message. I haven't called him back yet."
"Oh, nice move." Andrew dusted off his coat, looking very put out. He got back to his feet. "Angel said you'd mellowed with those altered memories!"
His new persona slowly crept back. He had the good nature to blush. He leaned against the wall, sighing deeply. "I'm sorry. Things have been a little tense around here. Come on."
He jerked his head towards the stairs, grabbing onto the railing and stepping up. When he didn't hear Andrew's footsteps behind him, he turned. Andrew was still standing at the bottom on the stairs, hands in front of his chest as if to shield himself. "Listen, I'm really sorry. I promise I'm not going to hurt you. Just... Don't call me the Destroyer. Let's go to my apartment and you can tell me exactly what's going on."
Andrew slowly put his hands down, taking a step towards the stairs. Connor nodded in encouragement. "Come on. It's all right. I didn't mean to freak you out. But that guy I was with? He knows nothing about this. I'd like to keep it that way."
Andrew hesitated. "People usually take it pretty well."
"I don't want to take any chances," Connor said. "He's letting me live with him and his sister rent-free." He beckoned to Andrew. "Seriously. Come on. I only kill demons."
"I've known some demons that were all right," Andrew said, following Connor upstairs. "I mean most of them had the disposition of the Incredible Hulk with a wedgie. But there's always one or two okay ones."
Lorne had been okay. Cordelia had been-- Well, Connor wasn't really sure what she had been now. He had to wonder if he ever knew the real Cordy. Other than them, all the demons he met were of the crush, kill, destroy variety. "I suppose. I don't think I'd ever hang out with one on a regular basis... Again."
"It's all about control," Andrew explained. "You can concentrate, say the right words and the demon is under your thrall."
Connor considered this for a moment. He had never thought of making demons work for him. It seems wrong. "Sounds like the Jedi Mind Trick."
Andrew hopped up the stairs, walking side-by-side with Connor now. He had brightened considerably. "You are going to be the coolest assignment."
"Assignment?" Connor frowned deeply, turning to Andrew. "What assignment?"
"You have so much to learn, little one." Andrew sighed, his voice taking on a very mysterious quality. "So much to learn."
"Dude." Connor skipped up a few stepped, whirling around to face Andrew. He held out a hand in front of himself, looking deadly serious. "Unless you're jonesing to get the crap beat out of you, I suggest you don't call me 'little one'."
The mysterious smile faded from Andrew's face. He cleared his throat nervously, nodding. "So noted." His voice cracked as he spoke.
Connor turned around. He took the steps three at a time now. He had to admit, he was very curious as to what Andrew had to say. If he did have information about Angel, he wanted to know what it was. If he had the choice, he would have stood alongside Angel during the battle against Wolfram and Hart.
They were quiet the rest of the way to Connor's apartment. Fishing his keys out of his pocket, Connor opened the door. "Come on in."
"You should be careful about inviting strange people in your home," Andrew said, stepping inside. "You never know who is and isn't a vampire."
"Ummm..." Connor wasn't sure if he should laugh or throw Andrew out. Andrew was complete and utterly mad. Connor fell down the couch. "You do realize we were just outside in the hot, late afternoon sun?"
"Very observant. Your father said you were very smart." Andrew pursed his lips, eyeing Connor closely. He scratched his chin as he nodded.
After about a minute of intense scrutiny, Connor sat up straight. He shook his head. "You're making me nervous. You want to tell me what the hell is going on? Who are you, why are you here and what happened to Angel?"
Andrew straightened up. He put a hand to his heart, bowing solemnly. "My own personal story of redemption is a long and complicated one. It started when I joined forces with Warren Meers and Jonathan Levinson forming the Evil Trio. Together we planned to take over Sun--"
Connor rested his chin against his hands, sighing deeply. "Forget that first one."
Andrew looked thoroughly put out at having his origins story disrupted. He tried to regain his minuscule sense of mystique. "So you would like me to tell you the tale of how Angel and his compatriots escaped the fiery grips of the Wolf, the Ram and the Hart?" He arched a brow, nodding his head firmly.
Connor nodded. "Yeah. I really would."
Andrew swept his hands out, as if he were setting a stage. "Back three months ago, the vampyr with a soul Angel and his compatriots: the other vampyr with a soul, Spike, former demon goddess Illyria, renegade Watcher Wesley Wyndam-Pryce, the velvet-voiced demon Lorne and street thug with a heart of gold Charles Gunn decided to take on the Circle of the Black Thorn. With the First Evil brought to its incorporeal knees by yours truly, the Circle of the Black Thorn was the most evil organization in this realm of existence. Angel and his friends were victorious against the inner circle, as you well know."
Connor nodded along. There was something oddly compelling about the theatrics of Andrew's storytelling. "I was there. I fought that big guy in the suit."
Andrew put a finger to his lips. "Shhh! I'm not finished!" His voice was a low hiss. He straightened his shirt, trying to regain his bearings. "The battle came at a very high price. Wyndam-Pryce was murdered by the demon sorcerer extraordinaire Cyvus Vail--"
"--Vail was the one who gave me my memories." Connor interrupted, jumping to his feet.
Andrew glared. "I was just getting to the good part."
Connor sat back down. He had to admit, he really wanted to hear the next part as it was the part he didn't know. "Sorry. Go on."
"Lorne, choosing to become a pacifist, much in the style of those ever-logical beings the Vulcans, left the group before the final battle could commence." Andrew rubbed his hands together, his eyes glimmering maniacally. "The massacre had angered the malevolent Senior Partners. Now down to four intrepid Champions, one of who was bleeding profusely, they faced against a hellish army: thousands of troops, demons of all sorts. Things looked grim."
Connor tightened his fists. He knew he shouldn't have left Angel. He could have helped them fight.
"Unbeknownst to his fellow warriors, Angel has contacted his former lover, Buffy the Slayer of the Vampyrs..."
Putting his head in his hands, Connor, leaned in, fascinated, "I know my memories are a bit hazy, but isn't it Vampire Slayer?"
"Realizing her two loves had not fallen to the Dark Side, Buffy abandoned her swarthy new boyfriend to fight by their side." Andrew continued, paying Connor's question no mind. "She brought with her an army of Slayers, witches and powerful yet humble Watchers. The forces of darkness were temporarily blindsided, long enough for our heroes to escape. They fled across the globe, to rejoin the stronghold created by Buffy and her friends. Together, they would now face all hardships before them."
Having finished his long explanation, Andrew collapsed in the desk chair. He sighed deeply, mopping his brow. He fanned himself. "Man, I'm hot in this coat. I don't know how Spike does it."
Connor nodded silently. He stood, pacing the room several times. He just kept nodding. On his fourth round, Connor stopped. "So you're saying... My father was saved by a bunch of girls and ran for his life."
Andrew shifted in his seat, pulling at his duster. "I don't think I am comfortable with that synopsis of the events."
Sitting back down, Connor couldn't stop frowning. "So where is Angel now?"
"Ah," Andrew steepled his fingers. "The Senior Partners are still looking for your father and his friends. They have been on the move. While they travel, they look for new Slayers for the Watcher's Council. Last I heard, Angel and his lycanthropic lover were in Cairo."
Connor plucked the Post-It off of the coffee table. He stared down at the number. He chewed on his lower lip, reading the numbers several times. He could feel Andrew peering over at the tiny note.
There was only one thing Connor could think of saying. He blurted it out before he had time to rethink it. "I want to talk to Angel."
"He'll be anxious to hear from you."
Connor picked up the phone. If Angel was really in Cario, his parents were going to kill him when he asked them to pay his part of the phone bill. Maybe he could lie and tell them he called a 900 number. It would certainly be easier to explain than this.
"Ask for Geraldo Angel," Andrew said as Connor began to dial.
"I can do this mys--" Connor scrunched up his nose, processing what Andrew had just said. "Geraldo?"
Andrew shrugged. "He's incognito."
"Okay. I'll do that. Now can you please... This is kind of a private conversation." He turned his back to Andrew, stretching the phone cord as far as it would go. He wanted as much distance as he could get between him and Andrew.
Andrew looked around the room. He snatched up Jamie's copy of The Dark Knight Returns, flipping through it. He sat down on the couch. "Ooh... I haven't read this since my copy was cut in half by the buzz saw."
Connor finished dialling and held the receiver to his ear. He gripped it so tightly he thought it might break under the pressure. It rang five times before he heard the phone pick up. A groggy female voice answered. "Hello?"
He paused, unsure what to say. He hadn't expected someone other than Angel to answer. He squeezed his eyes shut, trying to stop the blood from rushing in his ears. "Hi. Can I speak to Geraldo Angel?"
"Hm. Hold on."
There was the sound of movement and muttered cursing. Connor felt his stomach twist into knots.
"I just got to sleep, Andrew!" Angel's voice was savage, despite the sleep still evident in it. "It's four in the morning here."
"....Dad?" Connor didn't know when he had lost his voice, but it came out raspy.
"Connor." The tone of Angel's voice immediately shifted. The anger and drowsiness immediately melted away. "You got my message. I'm sorry about that, I thought you were..."
"Yeah, I know." Connor cracked a small smile, turning to look at Andrew, who was happily engrossed in his comic. "I can understand why you would get ticked off with him."
Angel let out a quiet laugh. "So Andrew's there, huh? You didn't try to kill him, did you? People have a habit of doing that."
Connor paced the hall. He wasn't sure what to do with himself. He was just a bundle of nerves. "Why is he here?"
"Didn't Andrew explain everything to you?"
"He told me how you guys got away from the Senior Partners. Did it really happen the way he said it?"
"Probably... less grandiose." Angel said carefully. "Yes, Buffy and Faith and their Slayers saved us. We wouldn't have made it through if they hadn't shown up."
Connor ran a nervous hand through his hair. "Why couldn't you tell me all of this? You sent someone here. To my school. My roommate saw him. And, well, Andrew isn't exactly inconspicuous. I don't want the entire campus knowing I fight demons."
"You have been fighting demons." Angel's voice filled with panic. "I knew it. I knew you would be fighting again. Andrew didn't tell you everything, did he?"
"I don't know what you're talking about, Angel," Connor shook his head. He felt like he might be sick, he was so nervous. He definitely didn't like where this was going. "Just tell me."
"The Circle of the Black Thorn is looking for you," Angel explained.
"I thought you'd killed them." Connor was drawing deep breaths. It had been a coincidence that he had been fighting more lately. No one was looking for him.
"We did take them out, but they'll be replaced. The Senior Partners will need an Earthly contingent. The lower beings are all vying for those spots. Willow did a locator spell. A lot of demons are converging in your area. The Senior Partners know you're my son. They know you helped me kill Hamilton. Most likely, they've decided the first open spot goes to whoever can kill you."
Connor felt like his heart was going to burst from his chest. He leaned against the wall. "What am I supposed to do?"
"I'm leaving the choice up to you," Angel's voice lost the panicked edge, becoming calm, gentle. "I don't want to force you into anything. But I see only three choices."
"What are they?" Connor cradled his head in his free hand. He wasn't sure he wanted to know. Really, he just wanted to wake up and discover this day had been a dream.
"You could come back with Andrew to England. The Watcher's Council will give you protection."
Scratch one. Connor couldn't abandon his family, his friends. This was his life. He couldn't just run off to England with some freak in a leather jacket.
When he didn't reply, Angel continued on. "I could come to Stanford."
"They'd kill you," Connor whispered.
"There's one last option." Angel paused. "Andrew is a Watcher. You know what a Watcher is, right? They teach and guide Slayers. I know you're not a Slayer, but you're special. There's no Slayer in California at the moment, not one that's trained. You could take that position. The council has given us approval. Andrew will stay on as your Watcher, report back to us and give you any assistance you need."
Connor moved the receiver away from his ear. He could hear Angel calling his name as he lowered it to his side.
Everything seemed to move in slow motion. His body didn't want to use his superhuman speed. He let the phone slip out of his fingers. The tension in the phone cord snapped it back. The receiver hit the desk, knocking over a pile of books there. He strode across the living room.
Andrew jumped up, dropping the comic. He smiled brightly. "Hey there! How'd everything go?"
"I have to go get some coffee," Connor muttered, opening the front door. He nodded. "Yeah. I definitely need some coffee."
Andrew followed close on his heels as he walked down the hall. "What did Angel say? Did he mention me?"
Connor nodded vaguely. "Yeah. He said people like to try and kill you." A fog had settled on his mind. He couldn't think.
Angel wanted him to fight demons. Sure, he killed a few here and there, but it wasn't like a job or anything. If he were to go along with this plan, he would be reporting to a council and everything. That didn't sound good at all.
His life as he knew it was over. All because he had gone to Angel to fight that big guy.
No, Cyvus Vail had ended it, when he ran him down with that car and he had gotten up with barely a scratch.
No, it was over because this was never his life. His life was with the demons and darkness, no co-eds and lectures.
But then, everyone told him he was a fighter. He wasn't going to give up this life without a hell of a battle. "You can go back to England, Andrew. I don't need a Watcher."
"But Angel entrusted me with this mission!" Andrew kept knocking into the back of Connor's shoes. "Rupert said it was a great opportunity, seeing as how you're the first human male with abilities rivalling a Slayer."
Connor began to run. He wanted to get as far away from Andrew as possible. He wanted to go back to being Connor Riley. He wanted to go to class and learn all of the intricate details of database configuration and software engineering, to discuss with Jamie who would win in a fight: Juggernaut or the Blob, to shamelessly look down Salome's blouse as she fished his balled up notebook paper from under the table at the CoHo.
Connor had just opened the door to the CoHo when Andrew caught up with him. He was winded, wheezing for breath. "You are a Slayer, one of the girls in all the world with the strength and skill to kill the vampires."
Gripping the door handle so tightly it bent, Connor scowled at Andrew. "Do I look like a girl?"
Andrew grabbed the stitch in his side. "You don't really want me to answer that, do you?"
Connor rolled his eyes and continued inside. "Go away."
Andrew chased after him, grabbing his shoulder. Connor was very tempted to flip him, but in front of this large a crowd it would be a fatal mistake for his social career. Instead, he just turned to face Andrew, giving him as menacing a look as he could muster.
Andrew looked apologetic. "I memorized the speech for normal Slayers. You're a Boyslayer. The Boyslayer."
"Boyslayer?" Connor shook his head. "Dude, you have got to be kidding. Listen, I'm not interested. I'm doing fine on my own. I haven't died yet."
"There are dark forces gathering, pal." Andrew stabbed a finger into Connor's chest. "And they're coming after you, Destroyer."
Connor looked down at the offending digit. "I think you better reconsider doing that."
Andrew crossed his arms over his chest. "And I think you're going to ignore this particular problem until it swims up and bites you in the ass!"
Connor was starting to understand why people wanted to kill Andrew. "You're completely insane."
"You have a destiny. Blessed with skills even Slayers don't have. You know you can't avoid fighting forever." Andrew sighed, shaking his head. "You don't have to decide this minute. I'm staying at the Mermaid Inn. Give me a call if you change you mind."
Andrew turned on his heels, striding out, his jacket flowing behind him.
Connor let out a frustrated, strangled groan, raking his fingers roughly through his hair. He shook off the anger and pasted on a smile. Andrew was gone, and he wouldn't bother calling him later. He would just go back to his normal life.
Bounding up to the cash register, he grinned at Salome. "Hey Sal."
Salome was frowning at him. "You okay, Chess Club? You and that guy seemed pretty close to throwing down."
"Naw." He shook his head furiously, praying no one had overheard the actual words they were saying. He just needed to shrug it off, pretend it hadn't happened. Go back to his normal life. Starting with the obvious. "You want to go out with me?"
"Sure." Salome shrugged and walked around the counter. She looked at her watch. "I'm just getting off in... Three, two... Now."
Connor was too dumbfounded to do anything but follow Salome. He rubbed his temples. Now he was sure this was a dream. Angel's phone message had messed with his head and he was having an extremely bizarre dream.
But, no, that didn't make any sense. His dreams about demons were never this complex. They were flashing images of blood, fleeting feelings of terror and anger.
"You've just thrown me completely off." Connor finally managed to say as Salome stopped in an alley. "I ask you out, you say no... It's our thing. I like our thing. It's fun. It's harmless. Why are you saying yes?"
The sun was starting to set. The sky was bathed in a warm, orange glow. Salome looked up. "You know, all this time, I never would have pegged you."
"Pegged me for what?" Connor felt his stomach lurch. "What are you talking about?"
"Morpheus should be a bit more careful who he talks about 'destiny' in front of." She was smirking, leaning casually against the wall.
Connor reached out, grabbing Salome's wrist. He tightened his grip around it. He tried to control his anger, but blind panic was superseding it. "How much did you hear?"
"Enough." She struggled to get away, "Connor, let go. No one else heard. I've got really good hearing."
He wouldn't-- couldn't-- let her go. What if she told someone else what he was? Then, he realized something. "How did you understand what we were talking about?"
As Salome struggled to get away, Connor's fingers slipped beneath the purple bracelet on her wrist. The thin cord holding it together snapped, the beads scattering across the pavement.
Salome's pale skin darkened, turning purple. Her pupils dilated until they nearly dominated her whole eye. "You dick! Do you know how hard is it to buy glamours on a cashier's salary?"