Title: I Believe
Disclaimer: Not mine, not a one.
Synopsis: Connor believes.
A/N: I give up. Connor has taken me over completely. And he’s very depressing.
Dedications: For everyone who is getting so much enjoyment out of me churning out these depressing little numbers. Weirdos.
It’s been five years and he still can’t make himself throw out her hairbrush. Every night he takes it from his bedside drawer and holds it in his hand, staring at the strands of hair caught in the bristles and wishing for just one more moment with her. Just one more moment of seeing her smile, seeing her raise her hand to cup his cheek – hell, just one more time of seeing her *throw* the damn hairbrush at him, because that happened a hell of a lot as well.
He got rid of everything else, even the pictures, because his memory can hold her image a lot better than some shiny bit of paper and he can summon her face any time he wants to without having to go and dig through drawers and all the crap that inevitably collects in those small spaces when a person lives in one place longer than a few months. Another big plus about not having to rely on pictures is that in his head she still laughs and talks and yells and is so much more *real* than any blurred image could ever show and if she’s still doing all those things then she’s not really gone. Not really.
In his head she’s with all the others that have left him and they wait patiently for those quiet times when he can slip away from his other responsibilities and just sit quietly on the outskirts of the lives in his head and just watch them *be*. He knows that he hasn’t proven himself yet, that maybe he never will, but he’s allowed to witness them for small snatches of time and that’s enough for now. He touches one finger lightly to an increasingly brittle strand of hair and smiles to himself. Hell, that’s enough for forever. He can take just about anything in the waking world if he’s allowed to keep them in his head for his dreams.
He lives in fear that one day someone will realise just how badly he failed her and will take his memories from him and he will be left with a nagging ache under his heart but no idea as to why it is there. Just like his time with the Reillys when he went through his normal days like his father wished, but sometimes there was an ache – a maddening all consuming *itch* -- that washed over him and he would have no idea how to scratch and soothe. He’d be there in the middle of math class or laughing with Tracey and all of a sudden it would take everything he had not to slam his fist into her smiling face or throw himself through the nearest window to rend and destroy everything around him and he wouldn’t know where this sudden murderous energy had come from. In the year with his fake family he had spent an awful lot of time pounding the sidewalks of his suburban community as he ran for hour after desperate hour trying to purge himself of the intangible demons that plagued him.
He’s vaguely aware that the people he lives with watch him with some kind of awe as he moves through their daily lives and rejects all advances made to him that would involve that kind of intimacy. To them he is strong – perfect in his isolation – and he finds that it is simpler to allow them to believe that rather than the truth of his other life that he lives in his head. There is one man that understands his remoteness and his unwillingness to connect with those around him and he thinks that Methos plays a similar game in his own life with those that have gone before and those that he couldn’t save. Methos is a man that can value the whisper of a shade and the gentle caress of air against skin that with a little effort can be made into so much more than it appears. There are a lot of people in both their pasts that still live through memory alone and there is a kind of recognition between them whenever they meet that shows in darting looks and wry, self-mocking smiles as their flesh and blood companions crowd the air around them.
He lifts the brush to his face and inhales gently, trying to catch a trace of her scent, but that is one thing that the years have denied him and instead the one memory he would give anything to have taken from him swamps his senses. He knows deep in his heart that his Dawn didn’t really smell like fresh blood and over-cooked meat, but thanks to the funeral pyre he made from the destroyed offices of Wolfram and Hart that is the last memory he has of her scent. Just blackened meat and charred marrow and no matter how hard he tries he can’t find the scent of citrus and vanilla that he remembers used to fill his head when they laid together in their room and held each other between the warm covers and soft mattress. But still he can’t stop himself from trying night after night to find that elusive aroma because that’s who he is. He doesn’t give up and he doesn’t quit and he will continue to smell her brittle, dead hair because she’s gone and he’s still here but some day he will die and then he’s not sure what will happen but he knows that he won’t be able to take her brush with him and he doesn’t want to go through eternity on his own with nothing but the smell of roasting flesh for solace.
There have been times over the years that he thinks they have come back to him. Its never been in the dark times, the times when he’s had his back to the wall and is fighting through pain and blood loss to catch just a few more seconds in which to turn the tide of battle and save the innocents of the hour. He doesn’t need them then. If a demon gets past his defences or a dagger plunges into his soft belly then he thinks he might see them soon enough if he’s lucky and so they never come to him when he’s on the knife edge of death and his back is against the door of the always half open door of the mortal realm.
He thinks they come to him when he needs them most, like the first night he met the English witch and shrugged on his father’s life with scarcely a thought to the one he was leaving behind. The times when he makes a choice, when he deliberately sets his feet on the right path and then – sometimes – he can feel them crowd him just for a second and he knows that they’ve managed to escape his mind and that they are honouring him as he honours them every time he raises his axe or swings his sword. Those are the good times and he is always surprised by the burst of joy that washes over him when it happens because he finally has the respect and affirmation he always dreamed of in his most secret places of his heart and he knows each time that he chose the right path.
He touches the bristles of the brush one more time and then slips it back into the drawer with a smile before turning out his bedside lamp and laying back with a stifled grunt of effort. Tonight was hard. He took some heavy blows before his team caught up to him and the slash across his chest came damn close to cutting through the skin and muscle and slicing open his heart. He’s been cleaned up and bandaged and he makes himself as comfortable as he can as he lays back against his pillows and prepares to sleep so another part of his father’s legacy can begin its work and heal him for the coming morning and its new challenges.
It is peaceful in his room and he thinks now he can close his eyes and allow himself time to slip away for a while and visit with those that he found too late in life to love. The sounds of traffic on the street outside fade away along with the hum of voices in the hotel below him and then he is back in the hotel but at another time. He pauses at the top of the lobby staircase and looks down to see Cordelia talking with Wesley and Fred as Gunn and Lorne hoot with laughter over a magazine they have open on the desk. He starts down the staircase unconcerned about making any noise because this isn’t one of the times that they can acknowledge him and he knows that he will not be seen; that here *he* is the shade and the unexpected brush of air against skin and he welcomes it because he knows that if this had happened for real it would not be like this.
There was never any time when he knew them that they were all together and happy and that they could welcome him with open arms and laughing eyes and take simple pleasure in each other’s company. He turns his head and smiles as a movement by the office door catches his eye and his father and Dawn come out into the lobby smiling into each other’s eyes and sharing a low voiced joke between them. No, this would never have happened in the world they lived in, but here it happens every night and he settles with a pleased sigh on the bottom of the stairs to watch and touch for a few brief moments the peace that the life he lives allows him to bring to an unknowing humanity. He is content.
Artist: DIAMOND RIO
Lyrics: I BELIEVE.
Every now and then soft as breath upon my skin
I feel you come back again
And it’s like you haven’t been gone a moment from my side
Like the tears were never cried
Like the hands of time are holding you and me
And with all my heart I’m sure we’re closer than we ever were
I don’t have to hear or see, I’ve got all the proof I need
There are more than angels watching over me
I believe, I believe
That when you die your life goes on
It doesn’t end here when you’re gone
Every soul is filled with light
It never ends and if I’m right
Our love can even reach across eternity
I believe, I believe
Forever, you’re a part of me
Forever, in the heart of me
And I’ll hold you even longer if I can
The people who don’t see the most
Say that I believe in ghosts
And if that makes me crazy, then I am
’cause I believe
There are more than angels watching over me
I believe, I believe