Everything either belongs to Joss or it should, no infringement is intended and no profit is to be made. When you get right down to it I’m not really worth suing anyway unless you want a share of an underpaid civil servants wages and it just wouldn’t be worth the hassle trust me.Crawford Street Mansion – Sunnydale – April 2003
‘You really own this place?’ Gunn asked looking around. It looked abandoned but was still very spacious and the décor was pretty good.
Angel nodded. ‘It wasn’t too expensive and never worth selling on afterwards because of the property prices in this town being the way they are’ he explained. ‘I used to ask Buffy to drop in occasionally in case any vamps or other undesirables moved in but it looks pretty much the same as when I left, right down to the chains’ he said, rattling them.
‘Every good home needs restraints’ Wesley observed dryly. ‘I’ve been coming over here to tidy up a bit the last few days the electricity and plumbing are working and there’s food, blood and beer in the fridge’ he told everyone.
‘Someday you’ll make somebody a very good housekeeper Wesley’ Cordelia told him. ‘Or perhaps a butler would be more your speed?’ she wondered.
Wesley straightened up. ‘Shall I tell Ms. Summers than we shall be expecting her presence for luncheon tomorrow Milady?’ he asked Cordelia stiffly and completely deadpan. ‘We will be serving a very nice microwave pizza accompanied by a really quite sublime bottle of AB Negative that will surely tickle the palate of the most discerning vampire.’
Cordelia turned to Angel. ‘Honestly you just can’t find good help these days’ she complained in her most snooty accent. ‘Anybody with any sort of upbringing at all knows it’s always Rhesus-Positive Blood with microwave pizza. I mean what next, passing the Port to the right?’ she asked dispairingly.
Gunn was looking around. ‘How many rooms you got?’ he asked curiously.
‘It’s not exactly the Hyperion but it’s a decent size’ Angel told him. ‘I’ve suggested Faith and some of the Potentials move in here too to free up some more room at Buffy’s place’ he told his crew. ‘We can protect them and it gives us another base to operate from.’
‘It will be nice not to be sleeping in the car any more’ Wesley told everyone, ‘even if I’m only swapping it for a mattress on the floor.’
‘You’ve got a mattress?’ Gunn protested. ‘I’ve just got an army-surplus sleeping bag and the hardest looking patch of floor I’ve ever seen. And I used to bed down on cement regularly’ he complained.
have a claim on the only intact bed until ten minutes ago’ Wesley replied. ‘But I got voted off by the Cordelia/Winifred alliance.’
Gunn’s eyebrows rose. ‘They sharing?’ he asked. ‘So are there pillow fights, and maybe a hidden camera involved… and I’ll stop right there because I don’t like the way Cordy is moving towards that box with the big sword resting on top of it’ he added quickly.
Angel frowned. ‘It’s my place why don’t I
get the bed?’ he wanted to know.
Fred looked at Cordelia. ‘He’s still not as whipped as the other two’ she said. ‘We need to work on that’ she continued darkly.
They both glared at Angel who flinched. ‘The bed’s yours’ he quickly relented. ‘You know sometimes I think that those subservient Eighteenth Century girls weren’t quite as unappealing as I’ve made out’ he muttered quietly to himself. They might faint at the first sight of danger but at least they wouldn’t steal your bed out from under you he considered.
‘You’re not planning to sleep with that grenade-launcher are you English?’ Gunn joked. ‘I always thought you were a pump-action kinda guy… the shotgun I mean’ he explained.
Wesley ignored the innuendo, plus the temptations of the forty-millimetre minx that was stowed in a nearby crate. It actually felt very good to be back with the gang after the last few awkward months and the teasing and joking seemed so natural it was almost like he’d never been away, almost but not quite. The scar on his throat was a constant reminder and he couldn’t ever really completely put away the sense of abandonment he still felt. On the other hand this felt good, natural, five by five as Faith would say. The whole crew was here along with Buffy’s “Scoobies” and they were going to rip evil a new one as the latter-day Colonials might put it.
Add in the prospect of actually getting some proper financial backing at last, and perhaps even a decent wage, and all in all it was a rewarding career Wesley thought. ‘I’m going to make some hot chocolate before I hit the sack’ he told everyone. ‘Would any of you care to join me?’ he asked.
‘I’ll take some’ Connor said from the position he’d taken, sitting on the floor leaning against the wall by the fireplace. He hadn’t been talking much but he didn’t seem quite as morose now as he had been earlier back in LA, though he had been temporarily annoyed to learn he wasn’t going to get to meet all the Potentials until tomorrow. ‘Got any marshmallows?’ he asked, trying to avoid looking anywhere near Cordelia. He accepted it had been some wretched demonic thing that had been possessing her during their “affair”, such as it was, and that their “child” wasn’t really anything of the sort, but what the brain knew and the heart felt were entirely different things. All he really wanted to do was beat seven shades of shit out of the first demon, or demons, he ran into. Occupational therapy for Demon Hunters they might call it, it would certainly be cathartic at least.
‘Sorry no marshmallows’ Wesley replied apologetically. ‘We don’t tend to have them with hot-chocolate back home like you do here so I forgot to get any.’
‘We’ll pick some up tomorrow’ Angel told Connor. ‘Maybe you could get some new clothes at the Mall too’ he suggested, looking at his sons less than dazzling attire. ‘Something black maybe?’ he suggested. ‘It goes with anything’ he said.
Connor looked his father over. ‘Yeah, because if I dressed like my Dad that wouldn’t be creepy at all
’ he replied sarcastically. ‘Maybe I could get some hair gel too?’
Okay so he wasn’t particularly homicidal right now but he was still a teenager Angel considered. Why couldn’t he have come back on his twentieth birthday so they could miss out the damn attitude completely?Crawford Street Mansion – Sunnydale – April 2003
The next morning Wesley found himself the last one awake which was unusual but there were various sullen faces as the gang, except Angel of course, got ready to head out to a diner.
‘Get a visitor last night?’ Wesley asked sympathetically.
‘The First dropped in to say hello’ Angel told him. ‘It’s still as big an asshole as ever’ he stated grimly.
Gunn looked mad as hell. ‘Looked like my sister’ he said. ‘Sounded, acted just like her too, glad I got the heads up about the mind-fuck’ he said, barely holding back the anger which you could read in his eyes.
‘Appeared to me as Doyle’ Cordelia told everyone, ‘absolutely spot-on imitation’ she said. ‘Must be a method-actor or something’ she theorised, ‘the Robert De Nero of Evil.’
Angel leaned back against a wall. ‘Jenny Calendar’ he said. ‘Gotta love the classics’ he added between gritted teeth.
‘Professor Seidel’ Fred said quietly. Everyone looked confused except Gunn who couldn’t look her in the eyes. If she didn’t want to explain nobody would press her and they didn’t ask.
Connor twitched. ‘My mother’ he spat. ‘It appeared as my mother’ he repeated through searing hatred. ‘I tried to rip its throat out’ he said, ‘but my arm passed right through’ he said bitterly.
Angel looked at his son. He would have given anything to make it better, to go straight over and hug him but that just wasn’t an option, not yet. ‘Your mother loved you more than her own life’ he told Connor evenly. ‘That thing
you saw last night wasn’t worth a hair on her head, just use the hate against it’ he told the boy.
‘I will’ Connor vowed. He didn’t like being played, people kept doing that to him and it wasn’t going to happen any more he promised himself.
‘So what about you English?’ Gunn asked, looking to Wesley, everyone doing likewise.
Wes had been pouring himself a glass of milk and took a mouthful. ‘Oh I got a visit on my first night here’ he told them. ‘Lilah not too surprisingly’ he continued. ‘Even had a nice red ring around her neck, but I’ve not seen The First since’ he said.
‘Only tries the once?’ Gunn asked hopefully.
Wes shrugged. ‘Not sure about that as a rule’ he replied. ‘But when I asked if it could wear an even shorter skirt next time it appeared it seemed to take the wind out of its sails and it left in a hurry’ he continued as everyone looked at him in surprise. ‘Hey you knew Lilah’ Wesley continued, ‘those legs always made up for a crap-load of evil’ he stated dispassionately, taking another drink from his glass.
Gunn broke up first, his anger turning to booming laughter. ‘You really are
the man English’ he told him as the others joined in with the laughter. It was the emotional release they needed.
Angel gave Wes a look of gratitude. Seeing Lilah probably had hurt a lot but Wes put the group first. Acknowledging Angel’s look, Wes nodded back and raised his glass in a mock salute. ‘Shall we go get breakfast then?’ he asked. ‘I know a place that actually serves half-way drinkable tea’ he told them. ‘I’ll drop in at Buffy’s on the way to see if anyone wants to join us and offer to pick them up any provisions they need after we eat’ he told them. ‘Do you want to tag along Connor?’ he asked. ‘You can meet the potentials’ he told the teenager.
Connor considered that. ‘Has anyone got a comb I could borrow?’ he asked plaintively after a few seconds. ‘One that’s not covered in hairgel remains’ he added, pre-emptively stopping an offer from his father.Summers Residence – Sunnydale – April 2003
Breakfast for twenty or so working out of a small kitchen required detailed planning and an efficient schedule, none of which they had so it often reverted into a free-for-all until Andrew started yelling about personal space or Buffy ended up making a speech about teamwork.
Anya was probably the best administrator of the group, she had a single-minded approach to problems and her business acumen could be easily turned to other endeavours, but for some reason they wouldn’t let her put together a detailed daily routine for everyone, even though Andrew had offered to help with the time and motion study and illustrating the charts. The house therefore operated as a freaky kind of anarchic dictatorship where the dictator was frequently far too hands-off for the good of the group. Even communism would have been better, the former vengeance-demon had claimed, and look at the way that
panned out eventually and incidentally to her slight surprise.
A knock at the door was answered by Vi who had already managed to eat and who found herself looking at an unusually shaven Wesley and a teenage boy who she let in. The boy was kinda cute she thought, but she wasn’t sure having his hair that length really suited him.
‘Good Morning All’ Wes greeted the house. ‘I’m just here to find out if you need any groceries picking up from the supermarket and to introduce Connor who you’ll be seeing a lot of’ he announced. They’d already been told about him and his unusual parental and upbringing circumstances so at least the boy didn’t have to go over that hurdle himself.
Connor was surprised at just how intimidating being looked over by a horde of teenage girls could be. He tried to maintain a disinterested, cool and slightly aloof manner however and was glad he’d tidied up his hair at least.
‘So he’s the boy with superpowers?’ Kennedy asked, looking him up and down. ‘I heard you’re supposed to be almost
as strong as a slayer?’ she said to him.
Connor wasn’t entirely sure whether he objected more to being called a “boy”, or to the “almost” crack, so he ignored both equally. ‘I’m only here because I got dragged here’ he replied. ‘If people don’t want my help I’ll head back to LA and kill demons there instead’ he said, giving Kennedy a cold stare. She was still only a potential, he could put her on the floor in a second, snap her neck in barely more time, and she wouldn’t be able to do a damn thing about it.
Kennedy returned the challenging stare. ‘So I also heard they call you “The Destroyer” back where you grew up?’ she remarked. ‘They going to change that to “Battleship” when you’ve put on a few pounds because you look like you could do with a good meal?’ she told him.
Connor scowled for a second then his face changed to a smile. ‘Okay I’ll admit it’ he said. ‘That was a good line’ he told her eventually, offering his hand to shake.
Kennedy looked at it. ‘Sorry but I like girls’ she responded. He probably thought that as the only teenage guy around everyone was going to fawn all over him she decided.
‘Not a problem’ Connor replied evenly, ‘but you’ve got a bigger ego than mine if you thought I was coming on to you’ he told her. ‘And I
was the meanest thing in a place so bad you couldn’t even imagine it’ he declared, ‘so I’ve got a lot
of ego’ he stated, maintaining the smile.
Wesley watched the exchange with interest. Connor was doing better than he would have expected given his understandably poor social skills and lack of experience with verbal, as opposed to physical, sparring. Bright lad, he thought. People would underestimate his intelligence because of his ways and being underestimated is often the best advantage you’ll ever get.
Kennedy reappraised Connor ‘Okay I’ll admit it too’ she replied. ‘Good line yourself’ she said, grinning and shaking his hand. ‘I’ll introduce you to the girls’ she offered and began reeling off names as Wes went to see Buffy.
‘Settled in alright over there?’ Buffy asked, looking for a clean bowl for her cornflakes. She had to start getting up earlier she decided looking at the state of the kitchen.
‘Not too bad’ Wesley replied. ‘We had a visit from The First’ he told her. ‘Nothing that the team couldn’t handle, but they’re extremely pissed off.’
Buffy nodded. ‘It’ll have that effect’ she sympathised. ‘Not wise to get certain people riled up at you however’ she noted with a chuckle. When he was annoyed and vengeful Angel was at his meanest and most creative.
‘It doesn’t strike me as the master tactician’ Wesley agreed. ‘Too much bluster and not enough effective action’ he opined. ‘We were going to go get breakfast would you like to join us?’ he asked.
The slayer shook her head. ‘Better not’ she responded, ‘Faith and I are going to run the potentials through some hand-to-hand in a minute’ she told him.
‘I’ll come’ Dawn said, quickly abandoning her efforts to find a cereal worth eating.
Wes smiled at the younger Summers. ‘More than welcome’ he told her. ‘If you can rescue Connor from the girls we should be going’ he said. ‘If I’m late I’ll end up stuck with the bill’ he told her, displeased by the prospect.
Buffy frowned. ‘I thought you had money now?’ she asked. ‘With the lottery win I mean?’
‘It’s the principle of the thing’ Wes told her seriously, checking his watch.
‘Connor, Food!’ Dawn said loudly, it was easier than fetching him.
Connor turned and acknowledged the girl and then waved his goodbyes as he went to join her and Wesley. ‘See you all later’ he told the potentials. ‘I’ve got to eat’ he explained. ‘Some people think I’m a bit on the skinny side’ he told them. ‘Don’t see it myself though’ he added in feigned mystification.
‘Don’t think I’ve forgotten about this afternoons training run’ Wesley said loudly just before leaving the house, smirking to himself.
The potentials collectively moaned, they had to go further each time.
‘Sadist’ Dawn chided Wes and poked him in the arm.
‘Can I come along?’ Connor asked. ‘I’m good with distance’ he told him.
Wes nodded. ‘Certainly but its only eight miles’ he apologised.
‘I’ll sprint the last couple’ Connor decided.