Rogue Demon Hunters
After pulling an all nighter, Willow mutters to
herself as she furiously works the keys of the computer. There is
just so much paperwork when forging a person's existence. It
wasn't just dummying up a transcript although she had to work on
that too. It's Conner's whole existence. He can't use his birth
records from LA. If he did then he wouldn't even be in headstart
for another two years and kindergarten for five let alone
Sunnydale High on Monday. It had involved a nationwide data
search to find a baby boy that had died in infancy eighteen years
ago. She'd finally found an unlucky Conner family in Kansas that
had been killed in a car wreck seventeen years before. At least
he wouldn't have to change his name. The boy's first name wasn't
Steven but who went by their first name anyway? That could be
When Joyce died, Dawn had become eligible for social security that barely covered her expenses. The actual estate had been eatten up with the expenses of Joyce's illness leaving the Summer girls only the house. Tara's father had been no help with expenses while Tara had been alive. He'd washed his hands of Tara when she refused to return home to take care of her father and brothers. Buffy had an income from her job at the high school. Willow's parents might be emotionally absent but they had come thru financially while Willow is in school and for the "summer abroad" she'd taken in England. With Wesley's demand that all connections between Steven and LA be obscured it's doubtful that any money would be coming from that direction and Buffy would rip off her own hand before she'd ask for money from Angel anyway. If Steven is anything like Xander was at that age he is going to eat them out of house and home. Willow leans back in the chair, her fingers taping impatiently by the laptop while she considers her next move.
"What are you thinking?" Conner asks from the doorway. His hair is a mess and his clothes look slept in. Which they had been since he and Buffy had only gotten back from patrol a few hours ago.
Willow starts. "Wear a bell. Or make a noise of something. You're going to give me a heart attack."
Conner raps on the door jam. "What are you doing?" He rephrases the question.
"Proving your existence with the minimum amount of paperwork."
"I'm here therefore I exist."
Willow grins. "Oh we could go round and round on that but lets stay with the concrete."
"Where are these papers? I don't see any papers. Only your computer." Conner is somewhat familiar with computers from staying at the Hyperion while Angel was missing. Fred had begun the process of bringing him current with the way things worked in LA. But after Angel had been found, schooling had taken a backseat to survival. And survival is a skill he honed in Quortoth.
Willow waves a hand. "I'll print them off when I'm ready. So far they are just on disk. So you're familiar with computers?"
"Some. I don't like them."
"Get over it." Willow pulls up the homeschooling webpages she'd found and scans them quickly. Since the kid is up... might as well start figuring out what to put on this transcript. She leans over to her backpack on the floor and pulls out a pad of paper and a pencil. "Write me a story."
"What kind of story?"
"Anything you like. It's just to give me a snapshot of your skill level with grammar, spelling... penmenship. 'Cause you are going to need all three if you are going to hold to your stance of hating computers."
Dawn skips down the steps still in her pjs, and
checks the front door. Today is a good day; there is a Sunday
Paper on the front porch. Some days the paper's there, some days
it's out in the yard, and some days the newspaper guy got munched.
Definitely a high risk occupation in Sunnydale.
She brings the paper in and takes it into the kitchen, tearing it apart to grab the funnies before anyone could get their hands on them. Gathering her supplies together she has a huge bowl of cereal, after sniffing the milk to be on the safe side, and settles in for a leisurely breakfast with reading material. Buffy wouldn't be up for hours yet and Willow is busy in the dining room with the new guy.
Xander walks in the back door without knocking and seeing that the coffee isn't on yet makes a pot. He reaches for the paper and pulls out the sports section. "Morning."
"Morning." Dawn says absently not looking up from 'Non-Sequiter'.
The smell of coffee brewing brings Willow out of the dining room. She pours herself a cup and grabs a section of the paper. Xander looks up from the basketball standings. "Kinda a cryptic message on the machine about an extra person going to the high school tomorrow?"
Willow nods. "Angel's son, Conner, is here and is going to be staying."
Xander frowns. He'd seen the birth announcement too. Not that Angel had sent him one but Cordy knew that they were good for getting gifts. "Is it take a baby to school day? Some kind of show and tell because I really don't remember anything like that when we were going to old SHS."
"I've finished this." Conner comes into the room and hands Willow his essay.
Xander's jaw drops. "Okay." He shakes his head. "So who RipVan Winkled me?"
Willow is lifting the coffee cup to her lips but pauses long enough to say. "Hell Dimension."
"Ah." Xander nods in understanding. That explains it all.
"Can you drive us over to the mall?" Dawn asks. "There is no way I'm going to school with a guy who looks like that."
"Sure." Xander agrees. His long association with Anya brushing off on him asks the next question. "Who is paying?"
Willow winces and starts to say something but Conner is there first. "I have money."
"Probably not my business..." Willow hesitates to ask but does anyway. "but I thought you weren't getting along with Angel."
"Ah a man after my own heart." Xander says cheerfully perking up.
"I got it at the bus station."
"Oh my GAWD!! You banked those drug dealers!" Dawn blurts out.
"They didn't need it anymore."
"Drug dealers?!" Xander and Willow glare at Dawn. Somehow that had been left out of the story earlier.
"They were dead! The vamps got them."
"Yeah, but they probably weren't dead when you were figuring out their occupation." Xander says sternly.
"You know you were a heck of a lot hotter when you weren't going all parental." Dawn says defensively.
"Like walking to school much?"
Dawn shuts up.
At around eleven, Buffy rolls out of bed. Weekends are her days to catch up on sleep. Specially now that she'd taken a day job at the highschool. Grabbing a quick shower, shampoo and shine. She heads downstairs to face the day... um afternoon. "Hey! Where is everybody?"
"Xander took Conner and Dawn to the mall to get school clothes." Willow answers. Still working on the paperwork that would be demanded on Monday.
"How bad is it?" Buffy asks looking over Willows shoulder.
"Could be worse." After printing off the transcript. Willow does a little incantation and rubs her finger on the bottom of the last page. There appears the name of the head of the department of Education for the State of California. Willow holds the paper up to the laptop screen and compares. Perfect match. "I think that will work. That Holtz guy covered the three R's with Conner. He's reading, writing and mental arithmatic skills probably exceed anybody his age. But no exposure to any kind of regular science, higher maths, literature, history..."
"He'll fit right in." Buffy says wryly.
"I'm not the best person for this." Xander mutters as he accompanies Conner into the men's section of a department store. Dawn had taken a small portion of the money and head off for school supplies. "I wasn't part of the cool crowd back in highschool. Okay so I dated the prom queen but that was just cause she liked the way I looked in a speedo. You need a girlfriend. Life is so much easier when you have a girlfriend to pick out your clothes."
"Cordelia Chase. Girl I dated in highschool." Xander goes over to the rack of Hanes and starts tossing packages of underwear at the kid.
Conner stops in his tracks, dropping one of the packages of boxer briefs. "Cordie was your girlfriend? But she is a..."
"A fox? A hottie? A beautiful girl with a tongue that could flay flesh when she's ticked?"
Xander winces. "Yeah, heard about that. Blew my record. Figured I'd have one normal girlfriend but nope. I've dated a mummy, a spiderwoman, hyenagirl, a witch, a psycho slayer and I'm still madly in love with a vengence demon. Cordie was supposed to be my normal girlfriend. Well Willow was different in high school too." Mutters under his breath. way different "Life on the hellmouth. You can't afford to be too prejudiced to alternative... lifestyles or you'll never get a date."
"Okay! What did I miss?" Dawn arrives carrying a large bag of school supplies. "Is that all you've gotten done?" She rolls her eyes and starts in on the racks tossing things in the direction of Conner until she reaches the limit of the Department store and then she pushes him in the direction of the changing room. "Try them on. If they don't fit give them back and we'll get more. The grunge look is way over. OH hell!"
"What?!" Conner demands looking around for the source of Dawn's dismay.
Dawn gives him a shove and then blocks the door to the dressing rooms. "Janice! Hey! What are you doing here? How was the Spanish Club trip?"
"Lame. How was LA?" Janice wiggles her brows suggestively.
"How did I just know that you were involved in this somehow?" Xander comes up beside the two girls.
"Um... Mr Harris... um..." Janice's eyes go wide and she finally just gives Dawn a little underhanded wave and leaves before she gets in any more trouble.
Xander looks in the mirror. "Mr Harris. Hell."
Dawn pats him on the back. "It's okay, Xander. Some of my friends still think Buffy's my mother."
That night after dinner, Buffy starts prepping Conner for the next day. She smooths out the map of the school that was giving to her on Dawn's first day and lays out the school like a military campaign. "First things first we'll have to get you registered. Willow has that covered. She and I will both be listed as your emergency contacts."
"Buffy is listed as your guardian, your responsible adult, since I could only find a baby boy Conner that was seventeen years old." Willow hands over the paperwork to Conner to peruse. He glances at it and then passes it along.
Buffy winces at that as she takes the paperwork and sets it aside. "Oh gees. My office is a safe zone. If there are problems then head there. Dawn has a cell phone on her even though it is in violation of school rules. It is not to be used for anything but trouble. Demon sitings or the like."
Xander refers to the plans for the basement. "This whole thing was built on the hellmouth and the seepage is most evident down here. The basement is a maze. I've already lost three crew members down there. Kind of a bummer I have fond memories of the old school basement."
"Xander." Willow tsks then gets back to the subject. "I'm reregistered at college so my mornings are going to be over at the University. You should probably take a sport. It will help you fit in... especially with the holes in your transcript. They'll put up with anything as long as a jock label is attached."
Xander and Buffy nod. Buffy adds to the thought. "But it can't be a really popular sport. Nothing like football or something because a) you probably don't know the rules and b) that could draw attention to yourself. And we're trying to keep you under the Big Bad's radar. Cross country would be good. Nobody pays any attention to cross country but it's good for a jacket. And you can't win. At least not all the time. Cause that would draw attention to yourself. Second is good."
"Unless it's Eastlake. And then kick their ass." Dawn interjects.
There is a chorus of agreement from the senior scoobies and Buffy. "Yeah, unless it's Eastlake then all bets are off."
Willow shrugs. "I think we've covered the big stuff. From here on in it'll be improvising."
"I'll see you in the morning." Xander starts collecting his stuff to head back to his lonely apartment. Buffy walks him out.
Dawn goes into the kitchen. Conner follows her. "So this is your version of hell?"
"Kids, we have a new student. This is Steven Conner. Lets all make him welcome. Up until this year Steven was homeschooled so this will be a new experience for him. Steven, why don't you tell the class a little bit about yourself before you take your seat."
Steven shifts from one foot to the other looking out at what seemed like hundreds of kids. More kids than he'd seen in one place... ever. The only familiar face is Dawn at the back of the room and he can see her already wincing. "My parents are dead. The man that raised me was murdered a few months ago. I think this is a huge waste of time." He looks at the teacher to find out if that is enough.
"Well. Well." The teacher doesn't quite know what to say to that one and finally just shakes his head. "Why don't you have a seat." Conner goes to the back of the classroom and sees an empty seat next to Dawn and takes it. He settles back to find out what is next. "Okay. Pop Quiz! Everyone has their reading assignment completed I'm sure." There is a collection of groans. "Steven, you get a pass on this one. Why don't you work on the reading while the rest of the class pays for not doing it?" The teacher picks up a stack of blank test forms and a paperback and starts distributing them around the class.
Conner takes the paperback carefully. His father had told him of books and how precious they are. In LA he'd had little time for reading. One the front of this one is a title and a picture of a greek bust. The Odyssey by Homer. He begins to silently read.
TELL ME, O MUSE, of that ingenious hero who
travelled far and wide
after he had sacked the famous town of Troy.
Conner smiles. This one he knows. He and Daniel spent many a night alone around hearth fires on Quortoth where the tales of champions had been told.
Janice leans over to Dawn and hisses in a low voice keeping an eye on the teacher. "You've been holding out on me, Summers."
"Janice? Do you have something you want to share with the class?" The instructor gives her the eye. "I didn't think so. Ten more minutes."
Buffy sighs as she looks at the pencil cup on her desk. Evidently the word had gotten out that she had the sharpest pencils on staff. The cup is decimated and what is left wouldn't even break skin. Carefully she restores a number of pencils to pointy perfection and waits for the first student to come by her office. Things were mostly on a drop in basis. And when business was slow she put out a sign on her door that announced where she was. Something that would have gotten her mass detention back when she was a student. Buffy looks at the sign hanging on the back of her door now. WANDERING THE HALLS The bell rings for the students to change classes. Buffy gets up to stand in the doorway. Navigating the halls could be murder.
The second bell rings just as Conner is walking thru the door of his next class. Already familiar with the procedure, he walks up to the instructor who is dressed unlike all the other teachers he'd seen so far but is instead wearing a heavy one piece outfit. The teacher reaches for Conner's class schedule with a hand missing a piece of pinky. The teacher scans the schedule then hands it back. "Everybody else is working independantly. We take regular breaks to discuss techniques. Your grade is based on difficulty, skill, and progress shown on your final project. What kind of woodworking projects have you done in the past?"
"I have built tables, chairs, beds, a cabin." Conner makes a list.
The teacher's brows go up. "Great. So you're familiar with the safety procedures that go along with power tools." It's a statement intended to elicit a description of the procedures.
"No power tools."
"You built a cabin with no power tools. What the hell did you use? An ax and hammer?" The instructor retorts sarcastically.
"I was kidding." The instructor mutters. "Okay, let me show you what we've got. You have to be checked out on each of the tools before you can use them independantly."
"Where I am staying now. Some of the furniture is broken. Would it be possible to bring it in and repair it?"
The instructor shrugs. "Yeah, be good practice for you but it's not your project."
Meanwhile in Study hall, Dawn is getting grilled. "So tell me everything. I noticed he sat down next to you. He is way hotter than Leonardo!" Janice digs for more information.
"His name is Steven Conner."
"I know that part. Get to the good stuff... boxers or briefs?"
Dawn rolls her eyes. "Gawd! Don't you think of anything else?" There is a long pause and then she answers. "Those boxer brief things."
Janice draws a breath in thru her nose and growls on the exhale. "I knew it. You've spent enough nights over at my house, Summers. It's time for you to return the favor."
"I have never spent the night over at your house!"
"That's not what your sister thinks." Janice smirks.
"I don't have a chance in hell. Not on a school night."
"I can wait. It'll give me time to soften him up."
"Oh good luck with that." Dawn mutters.
After school Buffy is already waiting at the car by the jobsite side of the school waiting for Xander to finish up. She hears the sound of arguing coming toward her and recognizes. "I can't believe you said that! Who the hell do you think you are?! I am never speaking to you again!"
"What is your problem? She looked like a whore. Why would I want to spend time with her?"
"She's a friend of mine."
"Then you best pick different associates."
"Oh believe me. I will! And you won't be one of them!"
"What the holy hell is going on?"
"He called Janice a whore! My best friend!"
"Conner? I think I need an explanation."
"Her manner was forward, her language foul and her face tarted up with paint. She is a whore."
"You see! You see what I have to put up with? He's hopeless! Absolutely hopeless!"
"Oh boy." Buffy starts rubbing her forehead. "I don't get this. You were living in LA for how long? Oh wait-- that might be proving your point. I took you to The Bronze. All the girls there were wearing makeup." Conner just looks at her. Buffy snaps her fingers and figures she has the topper. "Cordie wears makeup."
"Cordelia is neither forward nor her language foul. She is a good sweet woman living under horrible circumstances constantly tormented by evil." even if she is part demon
"CORDELIA?" Xander who'd just walked up and Buffy say together. "Sweet?!"
Buffy shakes her head. "Something is definitely going on up in LA." Buffy turns to Xander. "I'm not giving up makeup. Forget it. You convince him."
Everyone climbs in the car. Dawn and Buffy look at their windows. Xander looks in the rearview mirror and catches Conner's gaze and just shakes his head. It's kinda a relief to have the kid around. Let someone else make the bonehead moves for awhile.