It is all supposed to be different now, better. We are supposed to be happy and sane, as close to well adjusted as you can get on the Hellmouth. We all came through the firestorm and somehow managed to arrive on the other side whole. Or as whole as could be expected. I mean Willow ... I don’t know if she’ll ever be the same again, but maybe that’s the point. I know I’m not the same ...
The same as what? At the heart of me, I’m sure there is some part that remains constant, but I really don’t know what it is. I change. I metamorphose with everything that happens to me and each time I lose a little bit more of what I thought it meant to be me, what it meant to be Buffy.
When I was called, when the Master killed me, when Angel lost his soul, when I sent my lover to Hell, when I tried to kill my sister Slayer, when I died to save Dawn, when I gave myself to Spike ... all of those things chipped away at what I thought it meant to be Buffy. But I’m still here. I’m still Buffy. Still the Slayer. I know what that should mean. Honor, integrity, protector, friend. I do love my friends. And Dawn. I love my sister more than I ever thought I could love anyone. I’m better now, focused. I know I can’t protect Dawn from the world. I know that sleeping with Spike was even colder comfort than being alone. I know I can’t keep secrets from the people I love. We’re all older and somewhat frayed. We’ve all been hurt and caused hurt greater than we thought possible. We’ve all lied to ourselves and to each other and somehow managed to grow up in the process.
And I guess we are grown up. Whatever that means. We’re not innocent and it’s not necessarily a bad thing. I thought losing your innocence meant understanding there was evil in the world, but that wasn’t it. Not by a long shot. Losing innocence means understanding that there is evil inside of us. Each of us. But we don’t give in to it. That’s what makes us the good guys.
And now here I am, laying in bed, lounging quietly with my nice, human lover and I can’t help wondering if I’m still nothing more than the wolf in sheep’s clothing. If, after everything, I’m still hiding or running or hurting those that I love with my convoluted reasoning. Of course, none of my friends complain about my new boyfriend. They think it’s a bit odd, a little weird, but not unnatural. He is, after all, human through and through. I think mostly they’re relieved that I didn’t take Spike back when he showed up with his shiny new soul.
My lover lays here on my bed, unashamed of his nudity like most males. One strong arm is thrown across his eyes to block out the late afternoon sun that streams through the window, warming our bare skin until little drops of perspiration bead on our upper lips. He’s so blissfully unaware of my turmoil. Not that he’s a stranger to turmoil. If my time with Riley taught me anything, it is that I need darkness in my lover, be he human or demon. So, he has his own darkness, his own taint on his soul, independent of me. I lay next to him on nights when the nightmares come. He wakes sometimes, staring wildly with those shocking blue eyes of his, his breath coming fast and uneven. He never tells and I never ask. I touch him until the horror passes, love him until he forgets about everything except the synchronicity of our bodies.
That sounds cold. It sounds like I’m using him for sex. I won’t deny that I enjoy the physical comfort he provides, but it’s more than that. Much more.
It was sometime in early fall when he showed up, ostensibly under Justine’s guidance. Justine. What the hell kind of name is that? And can we say Slayer envy much? It was bad enough that I had to deal with Faith and Kendra, but they were the real deal, not some bitchy burn-out with a bad dye-job and even worse attitude who thinks that because she’s killed a few vamps that she’s the Slayer. Sorry. That’s my line.
We clashed horns on more than a few issues. After she finally realized that she couldn’t out Slayer the Slayer, she tried other ways to play Alpha bitch. Someone should have told her what I did to Faith when she tried that crap with me. Anyway, Justine tried to cement her relationship with “Steven”. She would talk to him about things that only he knew about. She tried to have these little “in” jokes with him.
I don’t think he got it. And it wasn’t an I-grew-up-in-another-dimension issue, it was a basic oblivious guy thing. Justine tried to press upon me how close she was to Connor. What bullshit. I know Connor better than she could ever hope to even imagine. Gee, human with all these freaky superpowers, complex and painful relationships with vampires, not to mention some serious abandonment issues, ripped out of one dimension and into another on multiple occasions.
Poor Justine didn’t understand that it wasn’t even a fair fight.
And in the beginning, that’s all it was, a childish power play between me and the wannabe Slayer. I got close to Connor just to piss her off. It was petty. I know that. I’m not proud of it, but there it is. But of course, since it was me, nothing went as planned. In the beginning I was really wary of Connor, I mean Oedipal complex much? My ex-boyfriend’s son. Wow. Not to mention the fact that he’s a few years younger than me. Physically. Mentally, he’s like Angel, so far out of the loop he might as well be timeless.
But he didn’t grow up here. Hell, he didn’t even grow up with humans. It shouldn’t have been a shock that all these unwritten social rules didn’t mean anything to him. The night he kissed me after patrol, I let him do it because I didn’t want to hurt his feelings, but then somewhere, somehow he stirred something inside of me. His taste, his longing. And the fact that he wanted me ... just because. He didn’t want me because he thought I was his chance at redemption or because he was some perverse masochist who got off on taking his Sire’s leftovers or because he bought into the normal girl persona I presented. Con wanted me because he liked me, because I could keep up with him and for the simple fact that I am female to his male. It was so painfully simple. A kind of ‘you Tarzan me Jane’ thing. Except I think we’re both Tarzan. Maybe I should find a different metaphor.
Point is that Connor wanted me. Buffy. He liked the fact that he didn’t freak me out and he liked the fact that he didn’t have to protect me. And he liked the fact that sometimes I let him protect me even when I didn’t need it. And I didn’t try to mother him or teach him how to behave and I sure as hell didn’t try to teach him how to fight. He got this far on his own and I mean, like I am not painfully acquainted with people trying to mold you into something you’re not. I thought I would spare him the horror. So, yeah, sometimes he says inappropriate things or misses some of the jokes. And maybe I really haven’t made it too clear that it is not socially acceptable to have sex with your girlfriend in a cemetery. Of course, it’s not like I haven’t been there before. Yeah, so maybe there are more than a few parallels.
But the attraction isn’t just the Angel thing. It’s Connor himself. And yes, I do call him Connor. He lets me because, well, hey, we’re sleeping together and that buys me a lot of slack. We have this connection on so many levels that go beyond words. Kindred spirits.
I truly believe that Angel is my soulmate, my other half, my perfect complement. But I can’t be with him and after years of bleeding pain and anguish, I think maybe I have finally accepted that fact. With Connor, it’s more like a mirror. He has no trouble understanding me because we’re the same. I know it sounds like a nice little co-dependent relationship, but that’s not it either. We take solace from one another, comfort and companionship. We understand each other on a primal level. And the fact that the sex is fabulous definitely helps smooth the rough edges.
Justine still hangs around. She thinks she’s being a big help, that she holds the answer to questions we haven’t even thought of. I let her hold onto her delusions because it makes my life simpler. She’s never mentioned the fact that Angel is Connor’s father. She doesn’t know that we even know about Angel. She says that Holtz was his father and so does Connor. Willow and Xander both think that Connor is just some sort of boy Slayer or something. Giles is in England so no one has even bothered to tell him.
Of course, I know. No one ever told me, but I know. He’s Angel’s. It’s funny. When I imagined Angel’s son, I didn’t imagine Connor. Maybe I didn’t want to. Maybe I didn’t want to give Darla that much credit, but her genes sort of won out. Connor has her slight build, her brilliant blue eyes, her flawless skin. He has Angel’s hair, poor thing, and though he’s not quite as tall as dear ol’ dad, he definitely got his stature from Angel. And yes, for the record, it does wig me out when he does certain ... things, in intimate situations that remind me of my former.
But he is his father’s son. And now he’s my lover. It makes me feel dirty to even think it, but he’s laying naked next to me, so it’s not like I can deny it. I mean, I’m good at denial, but not that good. What would Angel think? Would he be mad at me or at Connor? Both, probably, knowing him. And part of me just doesn’t care. This wasn’t about Angel. It was about learning to take love where you can find it. It was about making a family out of the ruins. That’s the one thing we seem to be really good at around here.
Dawn seems surprisingly cool about the whole thing. I wanted to kill Xander when he told her about Spike attacking me, but I have to admit now that he probably did the right thing. She still won’t talk to Spike, soul or not. Part of me feels really bad about that. I mean, I knew Angel and Angelus and there was a world of difference between the two of them. I didn’t blame Angel for Angelus’ actions – or I tried not to. But Angel had a hundred years to separate himself from Angelus. Spike and William are still just too close for my comfort. Definitely too close for me to be comfortable having him near Dawn. Spike never would have done anything to hurt her, but I don’t know about William.
So Dawn stays away from Spike or William or whatever the hell his name is. She accepts my relationship with Connor. She was weirded out at first, we all were, even me. I mean, Connor is closer to her age than to mine, but they’re worlds apart. Dawn may be just as new to this dimension as Connor, but she has a lifetime of memories. False or not, they make her a child of this world. She’s your normal maladjusted teenager and she can’t relate to a guy her own age who doesn’t like to watch TV or hang out at the mall. She thinks he’s weird. But when William came back, desperate to see me, Connor beat the shit out of him. I think that endeared him to Dawn.
Angel is in L.A. now. Wesley managed to fish him out of the drink after Connor dumped him there – yeah, so maybe Con does have more issues than me. But I did try to kill all my friends that one time, so maybe not. I keep loose tabs on Angel. I still have a few friends in L.A. He knows Connor is alive, but not where and definitely not with who. He’s still pissed at Wes and still desperate to get his son back and apparently mooning over Cordelia. I try to be adult about that one, but I can’t even begin. I always hated that bitch. But that makes me sound vindictive and I’m not. I don’t want Angel to be miserable. I’m just a little bitter. I was naive enough to think that when he said he didn’t want to be with me that it meant he didn’t want to be with any human girl. Boy, that one hurt when I figured it out. But he’s not any better at happy endings than I am, so he’s lonely and in pain right now. And hopefully Cordelia is rotting in some Hell dimension. Did I just say that?
Anyway, Angel’s miserable and I’m not. For the first time since the night of my seventeenth birthday, I don’t feel alone. But, I’m sleeping with Angel’s son, so take that for what you will. I don’t worry about Angel finding out. Like I said before, none of this was about him, but I do owe it to Connor to tell him the truth. I just haven’t figured out any way to do that without hurting him. It’s going to seem like I was lying, deliberately deceiving him and maybe some part of me was. But I don’t want to lose him. I love him, I really do. He’s so gentle and there is so much wonder in him, buried underneath all of the pain. Sometimes just being near him makes me feel not quite so jaded. And when he’s inside me I do truly feel alive. There is just something absolutely joyous about being with someone who can match you physically, someone you don’t have to worry about hurting, someone who you trust with your body and your emotions. I had that for one shining moment with Angel and I was been bereft for four long years. Not anymore.
With a sigh, I pull myself out of my thoughts and look at my lover. I trail one fingertip along his hip, tracing the bones underneath his golden skin. I remember that night when I fought the Three and patched Angel up. He was underfed then and almost as skinny as Con is now. He shifts, moving his arm away from his eyes so he can watch me and I shutter my gaze, knowing that it’s silly. Even if he saw the look in my eyes, he wouldn’t realize what I was thinking. He smiles and grabs my wrist, pulling on it lightly in invitation.
“Will’s home,” I say quietly. “I heard her come in.”
He smiles and god help me if it isn’t just as crooked as his father’s. “We’ll be really quiet then,” he says with wickedness that would do Angelus proud.
Part of me wants to tell him ‘no’. Part of me wants to sit up and pull my clothes on and explain to him the entirety of my painful past with the man that sired him. But he looks at me with those beguiling eyes of his, so old and yet so fresh and young and I know that I don’t love him because he’s Angel’s son. I love him because he’s him. I smile in return, pushing myself onto my hands and knees as I stalk up his body.
And he loves me. And I love him. And we try to be quiet, but from the pounding on the door later, I guess we fail.
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