Rogue Demon Hunters
The sun is just starting to peek over the horizon when the greyhound bus pulls into Sunnydale. Dawn yawns and crawls out over the sleeping body of the passenger next to her and makes her way to the front of the bus.
"You got someone meeting you?" The busdriver asks.
"Yeah. I'll be fine." Dawn lies about the first but hopes for the second. Actually she will be fine until Buffy finds out about this one. Conner spots her climbing off of the bus and jumps down next to her. "What are you doing here?"
"Take her home- he said. Remember?"
"Oh please. Just don't think you're getting a kiss on my front porch."
"Am I suppose to?" Conner falls in beside her.
"In your dreams."
They walk silently to the Summer's residence. Willow is sitting out on the front porch as they walk up making no pretence of not waiting for them. "Buffy is out on patrol so she doesn't know yet... but Wesley called."
"Snitch." Dawn mutters under her breath. "It was my father's birthday." She says defensively.
"Oh Dawnie." Willow shakes her head. "And if it had gone well then you would be calling us from your dad's but you're not." Willow looks at the boy standing behind Dawn shifting from one foot to the other. "You must be Conner. Why don't you both come in. I'll heat up the waffle iron. Buffy should be home soon-- you two can get your story straight."
Buffy walks the basement of the school wondering if this would be the day when she wouldn't find Spike but a heap of dust. Ever since he'd come back so looney, as looney as Dru ever was and making about as much sense, She'd had to add worrying about him taking a walk in the daylight to her list. "Spike is just having a period of adjustment." She tells herself. "He tried to stake himself after he found out about the chip too. Drama Queen." She mutters but it doesn't stop her from giving a sigh of relief when she sees the souled, chipped vampire huddled in the corner of the basement whimpering and pounding on the side of his head. She catches Spike's hand to stop him from bashing in the side of his head and examines the vampire.
"Don't touch me!" Spike cringes away from Buffy. "You can't look at me!"
Buffy kneels down beside him. "Spike, this is not working. You aren't getting any better. You aren't eating. You have to make some changes."
Spike starts laughing hysterically and then sobs. "Changes. Right. Need to make changes."
"Come on, Spike." Buffy rises to her feet. "You can come over to my house. Just this once." Buffy sighs and then adds the kicker. "I'll make you a hot chocolate."
"Like your mum used to make with the little marshmallows?"
"Yes, with the little marshmallows."
"But you can't look at me."
"No problem." Buffy turns her back to Spike and starts taking the route from the basement thru the tunnels to a spot that is close to the Summer's residence. She listens carefully to make sure that Spike is following her and then she makes her way to the kitchen door leaving it open for Spike to race in. "Willow, I'm back from patrolling. Spike isn't looking too good so he's going to come for breakfast but you can't tell..." Buffy turns around.
"Can't tell who?" Dawn says with a raised eyebrow finally figuring that she'd got the upper hand.
"Xander." Buffy covers quickly. "You know he doesn't get along with Spike." Just then Conner comes out of the bathroom and is drying his hands on this pants. "And it looks like you have something to tell me... Miss Spanish Club. You are so grounded."
"You aren't even going to find out what is going on! Just jump to conclusions. NICE!" Dawn stands up from the breakfast bar and faces off with Buffy. "But the minute I'm out of town you start hanging out with Spike and inviting him over for O neg and sympathy."
Willow shortcuts the argument. "Dawn went up to LA to see your Dad for his birthday."
"Oh Dawnie." Buffy's tone changes immediately to sad and pitying. "I wish you hadn't done that."
"He's my FATHER. Okay so he isn't, not really, but he's the closest I've got! I had to try." Dawn protests the tears starting to run and she sniffs wiping at her nose and eyes with the back of her hand.
Reluctantly as if drawn up from the base of her soul, Buffy can't help but ask. "How was he?"
"Not there. He's off with his wife and new family on vacation to see the grandparents."
"WHAT?!" Buffy screams.
A smoking Spike races into the kitchen kicking the door shut behind him and is greeted by Buffy's scream. He collapses to the floor in a heap. "Too loud. Too loud. My head. It hurts. So much anger. So much pain."
Conner realizing there is a vamp in the house and not thinking that he would have had to be invited in order to have entered the private residence reaches for one of the bar stools and breaks it into pieces grabbing one of the wooden chair legs and going after the huddled Spike.
Dawn gets between him and Spike. "No, I told you, you can't stake Spike. This is Spike. It wouldn't be fair."
"And I told you there is no fair when dealing with vamps... just dust." Conner snarls.
"I knew I liked this kid." Buffy mutters to herself eyeing him a little more closely.
Spike looks up at the boy and squints. Then he sniffs. Edging up in the shadow of the wall avoiding the sunlight of the door he edges closer to Dawn and the newcomer. He sniffs again. "You smell like him... like Angel." He draws closer and sniffs again. "And like... Darla. How is this possible? You breathe. Your heart beats; I can hear it. But you are theirs."
Conner goes as if to stake Spike again. Buffy gets between Spike and Conner and takes away the stake from the young man. Conner looks at her with a bit of amazement. The only person that could have done that was Angel. "What are you?"
Buffy looks over at Spike for confirmation. He nods. "Human but more." He swings in a quick motion but doesn't connect because Conner catches his fist before it can. Spike pulls free and steps back. "But how? How can you smell like him?"
"He's my father." Conner finally says looking at the floor.
"But... but... but..." Willow starts sputtering. "I got a baby announcement email from Cordie but it was a BABY announcement. This is impossible. Even more impossible than two vamps having a baby to start with. More impossible than that selfish bitch Darla staking herself to save the baby. That baby is less than a year old. A year! And when I talked to Cordy she said the baby was taken into a hell dimension by some guy a few months ago... before...." Willow falls silent.
"Daniel." Says Conner. "My real father. The man that raised me."
"Quortoth." Replies Dawn at the same time as she realizes that there is more to Steven Conner than she first suspected. "That's the name of the hell dimension.
"Quartoth. Quartoth." Willow starts muttering and leaves the kitchen to go into the, seldom used as a dining, room where the computer is set up. "I know I've heard of that place before."
Spike sees that Willow is not going to be leaving the computer anytime soon and Buffy and Dawn are both staring at broody boy so he goes into the kitchen and carefully drops the miniblinds to keep out the sun and puts the kettle on for hotchocolate. He finds the marshmallows exactly where Joyce always kept them. The waffle iron dings while he is beside it and he absently orders. "Niblet, get your fixings."
Dawn starts automatically to the cupboard to get the syrup and preserves for the waffles when she remembers that she hates Spike for what he did to Buffy. She looks over at Buffy who nods encouragingly at her. Buffy turns back to Conner. "I spent a summer in a hell dimension once. I thought I was only gone for a weekend and three months had passed. Guess your dimension worked the other way. How old are you-- from the hell dimension I mean."
"I have eighteen years." Conner watches Dawn as she sets the breakfast bar and brings out the fixings as the vampire had called them. Dawn takes a seat and points to the one next to her for Conner. Spike brings over the waffles and starts dealing them out. Conner watchs Dawn to see how she prepares this odd food and then carefully mimics her. The first bite convinces him and he begins to refuel.
Willow comes in from the other room. She carries a bunch of papers that she is still reading as she walks into the kitchen. "There isn't much on Quortoth... just rumors and stuff. Evidently people don't come back from Quortoth." Willow looks up at Conner. "Things must have been a little bit busy up there; nobody updated the online demon encyclopedia with this information?"
Conner looks at Buffy ignoring Willow. "Is there more?"
Buffy shrugs. "How would I know? They aren't using the freezer/toaster kind." She looks over at Spike. Spike shakes his head and pours batter for the next waffle into the iron. The first pleasant memory he's had since getting his soul back. Memories of making waffles for Dawn while trying to convince her to go to school while Buffy had been... unavailable.
Dawn sniffs at herself and makes a face. "I'm going to go grab a shower. The guy sitting next to me on the bus was too gross to be believed. Buffy,You've fought demons who had better breath. No offense, Spike." Dawn adds as an afterthought.
"None taken, pet." Spike says absently as he makes little swirls in the waffle batter with the small ladle.
Dawn gets up to leave, gathering her backpack from the floor by her feet. Conner wolfs down the last bite of his waffle and starts to follow her but Buffy gets inbetween him and Dawn. "Why don't we have a little chat. You know-- who are you... what are you doing here? And why do you think you can just follow my sister anywhere she goes?"
Willow hands a plate to Spike and then takes Dawn's seat next to where Conner had been. He returns it with a waffle. She turns to the boy who is already taller than she at less than a year old. "Everything you know about the flora and fauna of Quortoth. How you got there. How you got back. Oh wait. I need my recorder."
"She's going to play music?--Now?" Conner asks curiously taking back his seat but keeping an eye toward where he'd seen Dawn disappear.
"Not that kind of recorder you silly..." Spike says impatiently then bites his tongue. "Red wants to copy your conversation down so she doesn't miss anything."
Conner glares at the vampire and fondles the broken wooden chair leg on the breakfast bar fondly. He hates when he appears stupid because he doesn't know the language of these people. Daniel had been from the 1800s... not exactly the time of computers. And he'd only had a little time with Justine before she'd disappeared after Daniel's death and their sinking Angel to the bottom of the ocean.
"Spike." Buffy says sternly. Then she turns to Conner. "And as for you. I know you couldn't know any better this once but we have trunks in every room with weapons in them. There is absolutely no need to break up the furniture."
"So..." Willow can't resist the need for information, for knowledge. "...who was the top of the foodchain in Quortoth? When Angel went to Pylea there were two suns and he could walk in the daylight. Were there two suns?" She puts the little minirecorder on the middle of the breakfast bar and looks at Conner inquisitively.
Conner sighs and then between bites of waffle he fills in the flame haired woman and the slayer about life on Quortoth all the while keeping an eye on the vampire. There would be time to kill him later. When the women weren't around.
When Dawn comes back downstairs showered shampooed and shined she relieves Buffy and Willow from leaving Conner alone with Spike. Buffy and Willow give each other a look that means conference away from the kids. Willow picks up the recorder and turns it off taking it with her. Dawn covers for them as they leave distracting Conner with a quick comment. "Spike knows Angel and Darla. He and his girlfriend, Dru, used to pal around with them."
Spike's eyes darken and the madness that had abated returns. "I have to go." He starts toward the back door.
Dawn grabs him and blocks his path. "No, it's too light outside. You can't leave."
"It's for the best."
"Oh damn!" Dawn keeps trying to block him but Spike's speed and strength he nearly gets by her but his care in not hurting the teenager slows him down. "Help me." She asks Conner.
Conner rolls his eyes but then coming up behind the vamp puts him in a headlock and pulls him back away from the door. "I'm not going to do this all day. Where do you want him? Sunshine is fine with me."
Dawn opens the door to the basement. "Down here."
Conner turns Spike in that direction and then in quick motions frees spike from the headlock and shoves him in the middle of the back pushing him down the stairs.
"Do you have to be so mean?!" Dawn follows down the stairs in a rush. "Spike, are you okay?"
"He's a bloodsucking demon. He's fine." Conner dismisses the possibility of injury.
"You should have let me go." Spike laments not getting up from the cold cement floor of the Summer's basement. "You know what I did. What I did to her. You should have let me go."
Dawn stands over Spike and grabs him by the tshirt with both fists. "I know what you did. And I told you if you ever hurt her again that I'd stake you myself while you slept... remember?! You are not going to get off that easy. Not going to stake yourself or walk into the sunshine or start yourself on fire. You are going to make up for what you did."
"There is no way..." Spike looks away from the teen who used to almost worship him. Whose trust he'd betrayed only realizing how much once he'd been restored.
"Probably not. But you're going to try. The first thing you are going to do is tell Steven about Angel and Darla."
"What do you know already?" Spike says softly still not meeting anyone's gaze. Dawn lets go of his shirt front and steps away from Spike. Spike moves into the darkest corner of the basement, his body in shadow.
"Only what my father, what Daniel, told me." Conner says reluctantly the desire for knowledge warring with fear of the same. "Angelus and Darla killed his wife and children leaving his youngest girl, the apple of his eye, a demon as a calling card that they'd been there. My father is...was a vampire hunter but Angelus and Darla turned the tables on him."
Spike frowns. Dawn looks confused. "That would have been back before Angel got his soul back from the gypsies which is impossible. Cause when Angelus last showed up he was hanging with you and Dru here in Sunnydale, right Spike? He was trying to drive Buffy crazy and killed Mr Giles' girlfriend."
Spike nods. "Five years ago. Darla wasn't here. I would have known if there was a vampire hunter about. Buffy would have known. Unless this vampire hunter made some kind of deal with the devil himself... he would have been buried and dust over a hundred years ago."
Conner looks away. Dawns eyes go wide. "He did?!"
"My father was held in limbo until the time was right. Until Darla and Angelus were together again and they would pay for all of the evil they'd done. Darla staked herself before Daniel could do it for her. And then he took me from Angelus so that I could be raised properly."
"In a hell dimension." Dawn rolls her eyes. "No offense but I think that your father was just a little out of it. And then told you all about killing vampires like Angel. It's twisted."
Buffy stares at the phone in Willow's room. Willow shakes her head knowing the torment that Buffy is putting herself thru. "Do you want me to call him?"
Buffy looks at her and is tempted but then bites her lip. "No, I'll do it." Reaching for the phone she dials the number from memory.
Angel Investigations. We help the hopeless.
"Angel, it's for you." Fred holds the phone out to her boss. "Sunnydale."
Angel looks at her inquisitively and then straightens from the doorway where he'd been leaning and takes the phone. He covers the mouthpiece and just looks at Fred until she leaves the investigation office in the lobby of the Hyperion hotel shutting the door behind her. "Buffy?"
"um... have you misplaced something about eighteen years old, angry, and somehow hooked up with my sister?"
"That was Dawn?" Angel sits down behind the desk. "She and Conner cleaned out a nest of vampires in the bus station here in LA. I saw Conner climb onto the bus but I didn't know it was going to Sunnydale or that the girl with him was Dawn."
"Oh she is so busted. She didn't say a thing about vampires." Buffy mutters to herself before getting back to the phonecall. "Wesley called here and let us know that someone named Conner was escorting Dawn back but didn't tell us anything about him. He's been telling quite the story."
Angel winces. He didn't particularly want to get into Conner's conception with Buffy. "Then he must feel comfortable with you to tell you.... He's been back long enough to know that most people don't believe in things that go bump in the night."
"Yeah, they must have bonded over killing that nest of vamps." Buffy interjects sarcastically. "What is going on? Why isn't he living with you? Why is Wesley calling instead of you? How could your son get on a bus going you don't know where and you not stop him?"
"Buffy..." Angel pauses to gather his thoughts. "Conner hates me. He believes I killed the man who raised him, Daniel Holtz. I thought I was getting thru to him but he..." No way was he going to tell Buffy about Conner putting him at the bottom of the ocean.
"Did you kill him?" Buffy asks flatly. Angel might have his soul back and not be biting people but that didn't mean that he wouldn't kill anyone who stole his son from him.
"No. Holtz came back from Quortoth an old man, already dying. I knew my only shot of getting my son back was not killing the man that kidnapped him."
"Rough. So your only shot got screwed because he definitely believes you killed this Daniel guy."
An idea occurs to Angel and he can't believe he is saying this. "Is there anyway that Conner can stay there? The mouthpiece for evil here in LA, Wolfram and Hart..."
the lawfirm that has been giving you so much problems up there.
"Right. They've been after Conner since before he was born whether it was for dissection or to turn him to serve their agenda. I've tried to keep an eye on Conner but..."
"What about Wesley?"
"He's having regular sex with a senior partner of the firm. I don't think he would betray Conner again, but Lilah... she's been watching Conner too waiting for her chance..." Angel puts the heel of his hand to his forehead, hunched over the desk with the phone pressed to his ear. "I know it's a lot to ask but there is nobody I trust, Buffy,... not with my son. He's strong. He is one of the best fighters I've ever seen but he's only a boy. He won't let me train him and I can't let..."
"You want me to train him-- me." Gawd isn't it bad enough that the kids at the school think I'm Dawn's mother instead of her sister and now you want me to do the den mother thing? What do I look like? Carole Brady? "I'll talk to him. But I'm not making any promises other than I'll call you if he decides to head back to LA."
"Thank you, Buffy. I..." There really isn't anything more to be said. "Thank you." Angel hangs up the phone.
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