SPOILERS: Season 4 Angel, episode 1
*~* Niceties *~*
It was the uncomfortable silence to end all uncomfortable silences.
Angel was staring at Lily. Spike was still staring at Connor. Willow and Anya were looking at Cordelia. Wesley and Oliver were standing almost protectively in front of Faith. Gunn was glaring at Wesley, and Fred kept looking at everyone like she wanted to apologize. Lorne was hanging to the back and trying to look inconspicuous. Yeah right, with green skin, red eyes, horns, and the wardrobe of a lounge singer. Severus had a hand on Willow... protectively. Even Tara and 'Moody' Sirius had been located. Dumbledore was pacing.
Angel had been fairly quick to make it understood that the Bat Pack was not there to take Faith anywhere. He got the feeling that none of them would make it out of there alive had they tried to take Faith. Willow was making his skin crawl with the magic he could actually smell on her, and the Dumbledore guy was no magician pulling rabbits out of a hat. He was a force of wizardry to be reckoned with. Angel wanted it understood that they had just been concerned when Faith had vanished and tracked her down to ensure that she was all right.
All the professors and staff were gathered in the staffroom, plus Dawn, Lily, and Amy. And the AI crew. There had just been a ton of exposition from all sides. Shock was at an all-time high. Angel had had a son? With Darla? Lily was Willow from another dimension? And she was souled and human again? But with imprints of her former vampire self? Anya was... also human again? Willow was a force of power? She had a boyfriend? Cordelia had been a deity? She was half demon? Giles was a professor? Dawn was a witch? Tara had a father? Who was a werewolf? And she was related to Spike? Spike had relatives who were actual living people? Amy wasn't speaking? She wasn't a rat anymore?
It was all a little confusing.
Amy was there because she couldn't really be left alone yet. She was wrapped in a blanket. Only her eyes and bare feet peeked out.
"Amy, luv, bare feet? You'll catch cold. You should have worn socks, pet." Spike said woodenly. The blonde vampire was still suffering from some serious shock of the 'vampires can't have children' variety. He moved Amy to a chair and set her down. He tucked the blanket around her rather meticulously, so only her eyes peeked out. "There."
Angel shook his head and blinked. His eyes fell on Faith. Wesley stiffened. Oliver whipped out his wand.
"Ya willna tay'er!"
"Easy, Ollie." Faith said as she stepped around him. "If Angel wants to try, I'm good to go. But I'm going by force. You're gonna have to drag me away from these people, soulman. I owe you my life, Angel. I know that. You know that. Hell, Wes can bear witness to it, but that does not mean you can just come here and take my life-"
"HE IS NOT TAKING YOU!" Wesley screamed as he stepped around her.
"Now, Wesley..." Fred said in an even tone. "Angel already said we weren't here to take her."
Faith crossed her arms across her chest. "Forgive me if I have a hard time believing the riff that you guys came all the way across the pond to check on little old me. It rings strongly of bullshit."
"Agreed." Wesley said as he moved closer to Faith.
Those who knew them had to blink a bit. Wesley and Faith had never gotten on so well. It was as if suddenly they really were a watcher and a his slayer. In the manner of Giles and Buffy at the height of her needing him to lead her just a bit, not that Buffy had ever truly been led.
"No one's taking you Faith." Wesley said quietly.
"Because you already did." Angel said in an overly even tone. "Because you're good at taking people. Good with the kidnapping."
Faith moved towards Angel with a menacing look. "I adore you, Angel, but you WILL NOT speak to my watcher like that."
Giles smiled then. He knew, he knew without a doubt in his mind and his heart, what those words had meant to Wesley. What they meant to any watcher, but more so to Wesley because Faith had never claimed anyone as hers.
"I'm sorry you feel that way Faith, but he just can't creep in and snatch people because he thinks his way is the right way. If he'd just tell-"
"Leave him alone." Willow said stepping towards Angel with very raven's wing hair and very onyx eyes.
"No, deadboy. Like you've never made a mistake. Like you've never tried to handle things yourself."
"Now that is just creepy." Gunn muttered.
"I agree." Fred whispered back to him.
"Not as creepy as this."
Everyone turned. The voice had been a shade off from evil demonic baritone. Red crackles of electricity were traveling over Lily's bare skin. Black was bleeding through her hair and over the whites of her eyes.
"Willow..." She whimpered in her own scared voice.
"LILY!" Dawn rushed at her.
She hit something invisible and bounced back. Brown hair flying, Dawn was lifted off her feet. She crashed to the ground.
Cordelia started to glow. She and Willow grabbed Lily simultaneously. The girl screamed and threw her head back as a black substance flew out of her mouth and spattered the ceiling like paint. It looked suspiciously like bile. Her hair still remained raven, but her eyes had turned a vibrant green. Lily started to cough as Cordelia glowed brighter. They all started to glow. Willow gritted her teeth.
"Rosenberg?" Snape reached a hand out for her.
He screamed when he touched her.
"Albus?" McGonagall asked. She had her wand drawn.
He held a hand up. "Not yet."
"What's happening?!" Angel shouted.
"Willow, don't! Stop!" Tara rushed at the group.
"Tara, no!" Remus and 'Moody' Sirius shouted almost with one another.
Tara latched onto Lily and suddenly there was this terrible ringing in her ears. The room seemed to freeze.
"What ARE ya doin'?"
Tara turned. "Doyle?"
"Yeah." He was walking towards her, weaving in and out of the frozen bodies.
"Ya froze th'room."
"Yes, miss. I told ya tha'yer wicked powerful. Did ya not believe?"
"I think I'm starting to."
"Force 'im out then."
"There's someone in there wit the little girl who not 'posed ta be."
"Thanks for the tip."
Doyle faded out in a swirl of white mist as the room sprung back to life. Tara narrowed her eyes and sent her fist right into Lily's chest. Several people screamed. Lily perhaps the loudest. As energy swirled around the group, Lily's blackened hair bled out two white streaks while her hair blew all around her head. She screamed again. Tara pulled forth a black mass of some sort and threw it across the room it splattered on the wall and started to slide down slowly.
Willow and Severus fell in a heap. Willow's nose was bleeding. Poppy was at them instantly. Cordelia stumbled back with a gasp as she stopped glowing. Angel and Gunn caught her by the arms. Lily teetered and Giles caught her and lowered her to the floor gently. Tara stumbled and Remus and Anya grabbed her.
"Tara?" Anya asked in worry.
Then Amy screamed. She was screaming and pointing like she was a pod person in 'Body Snatchers' or something. The mass of black was moving. Growing. Everyone backed away. Except Connor. He was staring at this misshapened thing with anger. He could feel the evil in it.
"Connor..." Angel said with a slight warning in his voice.
Willow pushed herself to her feet and strode forward right as the thing unfolded itself into a person, a being.
It looked at her. "Strawberry."
Amy was still screeching and pointing.
"Shhhh." Rack waved a hand at Amy.
She whimpered and gave a close-mouthed scream as her lips were sewn shut.
"LEAVE HER ALONE!" Spike roared as he rushed the black arts dealer.
Rack whipped his hand around again. Several wooden stakes appeared in the air. They flew at Spike. Angel and Connor both lunged and grabbed him out of the way, but Connor managed to send a swift fist into Rack's gut before tackling Spike down with his father. The trio landed on the floor in a heap.
In the next instant a snarling Snape had Rack pinned to the wall with an arm across his throat. "I could happily kill you."
Rack was frozen from the neck down. He could still feel the weight of Snape's arm quite well though. "Could you, Severus? You who used to be in my inner circle."
"That was then."
"You still dance in the dark." Rack tried to move to push up Snape's sleeve - the one with the dark mark under it.
"Oh that would be the LAST thing you do." The potions master hissed as he pressed his arm more firmly into Rack's throat. "It's a good thing I hexed you into a frozen state. And most everyone here knows of my dark past. Those who don't, well, a great lot of them aren't in any position to cast stones... having some darkness themselves. As such, the only opinion that rates with me is that of the one you called Strawberry, and I think we both know how deep her dark goes. Furthermore, if you ever touch her again, I'll kill you slow."
Severus yanked Rack forward then punched him in the jaw. The dark dealer fell to the floor, still stiff, but out like a light. Severus smiled evilly. Willow waved her hand at Amy's face, and the threads disappeared. Amy let out a little sob. McGonagall moved and put an arm around her.
"Note to self." Gunn said, a bit above a whisper. "Do not jack with Willow or Willow's scary dress-wearin' goth boyfriend."
"Did you have to do that?" Willow asked Severus.
"He hurt you. I hurt him." Severus took a finger and traced it down the bridge of her nose.
"Damn." Faith said in a jubilant manner. "Damn, I say. Red, your piece is wicked vicious. I love it. Snape-alicious, you've got the mad intimidation skills going on. Go you. Never mess with a potions master's girlfriend. That protective vibe is way sexy, spook."
Oliver was glaring at her.
"Oh but I still love you, baby." Faith slinked up to him. "Right now, if you wanna make an excuse and get out of here, lover."
"Has he shown you his roaring underpants?" Anya asked.
Faith just winked at her. "Who do you think's wearing them right now?"
"Oliver Wood." McGonagall sputtered indignantly.
Oliver had turned bright red.
Dawn was struggling to sit up, just like everyone else who'd ended on the floor. "Uh, no talk of Oliver's undies. Please."
"Bit?" Spike asked as he maneuvered himself from out from under Angel and Connor.
"Uh, I'm all right, Spike. I think I may have a bruise on my ass now, so I'll have to tell Harry no spanking fun tonight."
"Oh dear Lord." Giles removed his glasses.
"Speaking of things on people's asses..." Anya started.
Giles glared at her. He'd just put his glasses back on. He couldn't very well go cleaning them again.
"What? We were. And Angel has a stake protruding from one of his butt cheeks."
Everyone looked. Sure enough, there was a wooden stake sticking out of the fleshy part of Angel left ass cheek.
"Is that what that sting is?"
"Hold still. I'll get it." Anya said.
"Don't be such a babyman." Cordelia said. "Let Anya take the stake out of your ass."
Angel glared at her as several people tried unsuccessfully to hide their snickers. He didn't glare for long though.
Anya looked at the stake. "Won't Buffy be amused when we tell her I pulled the stake out of Angel's butt."
Spike cackled much like a hyena. Angel glared.
"I'm going to have to have a look at that." Poppy said nodding to Angel's posterior.
Angel shifted uncomfortably.
"Why?" Connor asked, looking at Madam Pomfrey suspiciously.
"He's wounded, and I am the school nurse. I want to make sure it looks all right, make sure it heals properly."
Connor scowled and looked from the school nurse to his father's rear end. Angel shifted even more uncomfortably than before. Spike howled with laughter.
"Oh shut up."
At that most of the other people in the room let out a snicker or two.
Poppy Pomfrey had a full 'house' tonight.
Amy was back in her bed. With Willow sitting and fussing over her. Snape was standing next to Willow fussing as well... but over Willow. Angel was propped up on his stomach with a sheet covering his backside. Poppy had forced him to remove his black slacks so that she could ascertain the damage to his behind. There had been a lot of snickering about that one, and a bit of blushing by Poppy because the vampire had a very nice posterior. Cordelia was propped up in the bed next to him taking a pepper up potion since her magic drain was acting the same as her having a cold. Tara was already asleep with Remus holding her hand. She was just plain worn out. Anya was asleep in the chair next to Remus's. 'Moody' Sirius was standing behind Remus, watching but not getting too close. Spike was stroking Tara's hair.
Angel could believe Tara and Spike were blood for some reason in the way Spike touched her, in the way he regarded her. Like she was his beloved baby sister or something.
Gunn was sitting in a chair with Fred sitting on his lap. They were whispering quietly. Lorne was sitting on a bed talking to the woman he'd heard called Professor McGonagall. A great hulk of a bearded man they'd all called Hagrid was sitting near them listening intently. Faith was lying in a bed with Oliver. Wesley was sitting in a chair next to them and rolling his eyes at the two of them cuddling. It was very innocent snuggling, nothing improper going on, hands where everyone could see them, but Giles was on Wesley's other side, looking just as irritated by the slayer and the assistant flying instructor.
Lily Rosenberg was presently being checked out by Madam Pomfrey. Dawn was sitting on her bed with her. Connor was sitting off alone, watching Lily as if she would suddenly sprout fangs and got to attacking.
The door to the infirmary banged open. There was wild squeaking, and then a ferret crawled up into Dawn's lap.
"Aww, Gutterflower. We're ok." Dawn lifted her pet and kissed her little pink nose.
"Eww." Spike said.
"Oh please. You've kissed Buffy AND Harmony. I don't wanna hear a peep outta you."
Angel looked at him. "Harmony?"
"Oh sod off."
"Lily? Dawn?" Draco came strolling in.
Fred blinked. "I didn't know you could clone a vampire."
"Holy crap!" Cordelia said. "It's Spike's mini-me."
Draco sneered at them. "Sod off."
Angel looked at Spike again. "Let me guess, he's related to you too."
"As a matter of fact..." Spike looked at Draco. "Malfoy, come and meet my grandsire."
Draco raised a brow. "The poof's here?"
"In a minute, Uncle Spike. Let me check on my girls first."
"Girls?" Angel looked at Spike. "Dawn is not dating your twin, is she?"
"Simmer down, Peaches. That would be a no. Niblet and the dragon are just best mates. The bit is mad for the champion of the school. Harry wanking Potter. A real goodie and his two shoes. He's completely filled with mostly good intentions."
"They like to have sex in the loo."
"We were not having the sex!" Dawn screeched.
Anya jolted awake.
"How many times do I have to say it?! Harry and I have not had the sex!"
"Then how do you know he doesn't have erectile dysfunction?" Anya asked.
Dawn groaned and covered her face with her hands.
"Does it look too weird?" Lily asked as she looked into the mirror hanging in the room she shared with Dawn.
"No. You look just fine. You look like Rogue. Or the Bride of Frankenstein if she put a relaxer on her hair."
"Rogue?" Lily looked at Dawn quizzically.
"Oh. Xander always knew more about comics than me." Lily sighed. "But does it LOOK ok?"
"As I said before... you look fine. It's sort of cool. Very punk."
Lily turned her head this way and that. Someone was banging on the door. Dawn walked over and flung it open. Draco stood there looking slightly ticked.
"Potter's at the entrance to the common room demanding to see you, Dawn. He wants to make sure you're all right."
Dawn smiled widely. She took off. Draco and Lily followed her at a slower pace. There were several gasps when Lily entered the common room. All eyes were on her hair.
Draco leaned over. "I think you look stunning."
They stepped out of the common room and nearly bumped into Harry and Dawn kissing in the middle of the hallway.
"Gross." Draco muttered.
Lily swatted his arm. "We don't say that about you and Gin when you guys are snogging like mad bunnies in heat, so shut your piehole, Malfoy."
"That's because Gin and I don't look so... gross."
Lily raise an eyebrow.
"What? We don't."
Lily patted his arm. "It's important that YOU believe that, Drake."
Before he could protest, she pulled him down the corridor towards the great hall and breakfast. Dawn and Harry followed after they'd finished their kissing session.
The great hall was buzzing. Rumors were flying all over the place. The head table was VERY crowded. Drapes had been placed over the windows for Angel's sake. Everyone looked like they were enjoying themselves... except Connor. Dawn was staring at him. He looked really unhappy.
Draco looked at her. "Why?"
"I'm gonna go ask Angel's son to sit with us."
Lily glared at her. "What? Dawn, he attacked me."
"Because he didn't understand."
"Draco, my being a Slytherin doesn't automatically make me antisocial."
"I'm not antisocial." He said in a pouting fashion.
Dawn made a face at him.
"Fine. I'll show you how antisocial I am."
Draco got up and stalked over to where Connor was sitting with Angel. Connor looked at him suspiciously.
"I'm Draco Malfoy. Spike's my uncle. Sort of. We want you to come sit with us. Well, Dawn does. She has this notion of nice-ness about her. Annoying really. But she wants you to sit with us because you don't look happy to be here."
"Connor..." Angel said in a warning tone.
"Fine." He snapped. Connor grabbed his plate and stalked to the Slytherin table with Draco.
He slammed his plat in the space next to Dawn and across from Lily. Draco took his seat next to the former redhead. Everyone was staring at them.
"Hi." Dawn said. "I'm Dawn. Buffy's little sister."
Connor gave her this look that said 'Is that supposed to mean something to me?'.
"Your dad didn't tell you about Buffy?"
"There really hasn't been time with my kidnapping, growing up in a hell dimension, sinking him to the bottom of the ocean, and his kicking me out." Connor snapped.
Dawn went on as if he had not even spoken in such a surly manner. "Oh, well then let me tell you about my sister. She's a vampire slayer."
Connor raised an eyebrow.
"What? Just cos you're all cranky pants junior you think I'm gonna give up? Please. Have you met the head of our house? He's the original cranky pants. No one is more irritated about life than him. It's like a rule or something. Thou shalt not out-surl the king of the bitchy britches. You've a baby chip on your shoulder, Angel Junior. Professor Snape carries a whole rock formation."
Lily snickered. Connor's eyes shot to her harshly.
"You wanna go again, sweettart. I'm ready."
Dawn placed a hand on his arm. "Lily, stop it."
"By the way, that's Lily Rosenberg and Draco Malfoy. I'm Dawn Summers."
"They named me Connor Angel."
Just then Montague slid into the seat next to Lily. "Hey Rosenberg. I really like your hair. I heard it was permanent. Guess I can't call you copperhead anymore though, huh?"
"Oh Connor, this is Aaron Montague. He's the captain of the quidditch team." Dawn said proudly.
"I'll explain. Montague, this is Connor Angel. He's Angel's son. Angel's the one at the head table with the spiky hair and the overhanging forehead."
Connor actually had to give a little snicker at that description of his father.
Montague waved him off dismissively and went to whispering in Lily's ear. Connor was looking at the two of them and scowling. Something about Aaron Montague bothered him. He just couldn't put a finger on it.
Connor was having what Cordelia called issues.
Dawn was being way too nice to him. No one was ever nice to him. Not for real. They all suspected him of bad stuff. Ok, so most of it he HAD done, but still. There was no judging from Dawn.
Willow had offered the AI crew a tour of Hogwarts. Dawn had said she and her friends would take care of giving Connor a tour... because he'd be bored with the grown-ups. He didn't want to go with her and Draco Malfoy and that Lily girl who smelled so much of vampire it was frightening.
But he wanted to go off with his father even less.
And Dawn was nice. Friendly. She explained things, but not in a way that made him feel like he was an idiot for not knowing. At least that Montague guy had not joined them.
"There you all are."
Connor looked up. There were five teenagers heading their way. Two girls and three boys, and the one that spoke felt weird. Like he had power. Connor scowled at him.
"Hi. I'm Harry Potter." Harry stuck his hand out to Connor.
Connor stared at the hand suspiciously before taking it. Ron and Hermione exchanged a look. Ginny had already moved to stand next to Draco. Neville was shifting from foot to foot uncomfortably.
After Harry, Ron shook his hand.
"Ron Weasley. This is my girlfriend Hermione Granger. That's my little sister Ginny."
"She's my girlfriend." Draco said possessively.
"Merlin knows why."
Hermione elbowed Ron.
Neville stepped forward and offered his hand to Connor. "N-Neville Longbottom."
Connor nodded. Why were they all being so nice?
"We should show him the owlery." Lily said.
Everyone looked at her like she was crazy.
"I think it's cool. All the birds."
Connor perked up. "Birds?" There had been no birds on Quortoth, so he was sort of fascinated with them. He wasn't used to small flying creatures who weren't trying to eat you.
"To the owlery then." Dawn said with a smile.
"Thanks, streaks." Draco muttered.
"By the way, Lily, I really like your hair." Ginny said moving to walk next to the Slytherin girl.
Hermione moved up too. "Oh yes. Me as well."
"Definitely. It suits you. And everyone will stop calling you little Willow behind your back." Hermione clapped her hand over her mouth when she realized what she'd just said.
"Slick, Granger." Draco commented.
Lily sighed. "It's fair though. I am Willow. I'll always be Willow.... no matter what they call me."
"But that's not such a bad thing to be. " Dawn said from her place in between Connor and Harry.
"I never think so anymore."
"Anymore?" Connor asked. Normally he wasn't so curious about things he didn't plan on killing, but since he wasn't sure about her yet....
"When I was human the first time, I hated my life some days. I would ask... whoever... for a change. Goddess, I didn't know what I was asking."
Connor scowled. This was striking far too close to home.
And he didn't want to identify with the girl who smelled of vampire.
But she was human. Like him.
But she smelled like death. Like him.
Connor scowled harder.