Title: Over the Rainbow
Universe: AtS/Merry Gentry
Disclaimer: Connor belongs to Mutant Enemy. Merry and Co. belong to Laurel K Hamliton.
Rating: naughty thoughts and sexual implications
Characters: Connor and Merry, also starring The Powers That Be, Rhys, Nicca and Whistler.
Spoilers: AtS5: Origin [Connor knows who he is, but has not interacted again with Angel after the original memory restoration and destruction of Sajahn], MG2: Caress of Twilight [Nicca and Rhys are still sharing Merry’s bed as a pair, none of the godhead stuff has taken place, so before the end]
Summary: How to the Powers lure a wayward hero back into the fold? By granting his wish, of course.
2004 Mid Year Ficathon
Request: Dawn, Connor, Fred
Genre: Comedy mostly, anything really … just no angst
Want to see: Someone naked in public
Not want to see: Slash
Notes: Okay, so this isn’t exactly within guidelines, but I know Echo loves Merry Gentry fiction, despite there being few authors who write it. As one who does, and given that Echo’s original ficathon writer flaked, I have permission to deviate a bit. So here it is: her original request with a twist- Connor and Princess Meredith NicEssus have a bit of a conversation. With nakedness.~~~ Over the Rainbow ~~~
So many setbacks, the Powers thought to Themselves, too many lost. They were running out of warriors in this fight, and while They rarely liked to get their hands dirty, They thought it was about time They stepped in. After all, when the Destroyer was returned to the proper frame of mind, it reopened whole avenues of prophesies to be exploited. Provided, of course, They could get him to play the game.
Touch and go, They thought to Themselves, touch and go. How to persuade him that he was invaluable without reverting him to the previous, damaged state? As he had been before the rewrite, he was too unstable. But now? Now he had just the right balance. Yes, They would convince him to play. How? By granting his wish.
In a so-ordinary-it-hurt dorm room in a run-of-the-mill dormitory at UCLA, the ‘him’ in question threw a knapsack full of books onto a low, narrow bed with rumpled maroon sheets. His hair was shaggy, flopping into his startlingly blue eyes-so like his mother’s- and his clothes were neat and practical. The young man moved easily, fluidly, like a dancer with an edge as he walked to the small fridge, shoving aside produce of questionable edibility and popped open a Coke. He swirled it around for a few moments, taking a sip or two then walked to the closet.
Connor stood in front of the mirror poking at his teeth. They were distinctly stationary, doing nothing that teeth shouldn’t do. Sometimes, he wondered if they were ever pointy, but he guessed not. He was 100 percent human. Sort of.
Nope. Nothing. He gave a huge sigh and turned to the rest of his room. The ever-present clutter was typical of a completely ordinary college student’s life. Except that most ordinary college students didn’t stake three-or any-vampires on the way home from class. Whoosh, poof, nada.
Pretty cool, except with the dismemberment came the memories, which were really sort of…wicked. In a totally inappropriate way, his WASPy upbringing said, still feeling guilty over the skin mags his mother had found when he was thirteen. But still, fascinating.
Two lives, crowding in, trying to get his attention. How did he do it, reconcile the two? A life with destiny, a life without. A life with death and destruction, a life without. A prophecy child with the moniker hero, an ordinary son living an ordinary life. He stretched, long, lean, cat under the skin and skived out of his clothes.
The bed was inviting, and sliding naked between the sheets felt like heaven. He crossed his arms behind his head, wondering yet again if he should cut his hair now that he was single again. If he ever really had the girlfriend he remembered. Besides, if he cut it, he’d look more like his father- his real father, which he wasn’t sure he wanted. He bared his teeth again.
“I just wish I could talk to someone who would really understand- two lives, one body.”
With a growl this side of human, he rolled over, pillowing his head on his arm. Tomorrow was a new day; maybe it would be clearer then. He slept the restless sleep of too many thoughts.
All too soon, the alarm rang with distressing intensity. Connor reached out and smacked it into the wall, knowing as it cracked into a million pieces it meant another trip to the electronics store- third time this month. Still blurry, he heaved himself out of bed, heading to the adjoining bathroom. Thank whoever it was up there for private bathing facilities. He gave himself a good scratch on the behind, yawning as he went through the door, pulling it shut behind him.
At which point, in some very foggy part of his brain, he realized that something was wrong.
Massively, humongously, humiliatingly wrong.
He froze, hand on the doorknob, mouth agape.
Not nearly so agape, however, as those of the three people in front of him, all staring at his very naked, very embarrassed, rapidly shrinking self from a tangled, athletic pile on an enormous bed.
Connor had to admit, after the fact, that it wasn’t a very manly scream that passed his lips. He rather thought it was justified since the door that once led back into his bedroom from this decidedly-not-his-bathroom-currently-inhabited-by-naked-people was now the door to a very narrow closet.
Slamming it shut again, he whirled around; the redheaded woman shrieked; the darker man fell off the bed while the white haired one whipped out a sword from nowhere visible and pounced forward.
“Who are you?”
“Who am I?” Connor cupped his nethers protectively, twisting away from the blade. “Isn’t the better question who are you and what have you done with my bathroom!?!?”
“Your bathroom? You just wandered out of my closet! Nude! Rhys, did you know there was a naked man in my closet?”
“Not this week, Princess. Definitely news to me.” The man had only one eye, but the visible one gleamed with a fierce blue fire.
“Yo! Sword dude, seriously, I walked out my room into the bathroom and there you were…” Connor eyed the weaponry cautiously, flicking a glance at the bed. The cocoa colored man was standing now, a handgun held with distressing steadiness. Connor gulped.
“My life is exceedingly weird.”
The woman arched an eyebrow. “This sort of thing happens often?” She leaned forward, breasts bare and entirely too distracting from Connor’s point of view. Creamy, so white they looked carved of alabaster. Perky nipples-- and his attention was yanked away from the vision on the bed to the decidedly less attractive man holding the sword as it inched ever closer to his groin. Unfortunately, the cupped flesh couldn’t decide whether it wanted to stand at attention or crawl up into his body cavity.
“Um, walking out of a closet into a strange woman’s house, not so much-- inappropriate nakedness with really…disturbing consequences, yeah.” He hopped a little. “Um, can I have a towel or something? This is…”
White Hair actually grinned. “You don’t look so threatening. Not carrying weapons anyway.” Still holding the sword loosely, he reached over and snagged a robe from the chair. “Here.”
The woman stood, walking across the room with what had to be the most erotic, I’m-not-going-to-have-you-killed walk Connor had ever seen. She shook her head, blood colored hair cascading around her shoulders. “This is a new one, even for me.” She smiled warmly, unmindful of her own nakedness. “I’m Meredith.”
He fiddled the robe closed. “Connor.” He sat where she gestured.
“So, Connor, what’s the last thing you remember before walking in here?”
“Um, waking up? Before that, going to sleep.” He frowned, rubbing the faint stubble on his chin. This made no sense, not really. He’d done nothing weird, aside from vampire annihilating, which was getting comparatively less weird by the minute. “I can’t remember everything, not right away, from before. Maybe I knew why once.”
“These things happen to me. It’s very confusing, trust me, but I think this sort of thing was a lot more common than I remember.” He scowled, hearing the faint echo of a woman’s voice saying, ‘The sneer’s genetic, who knew?’ He looked up into Meredith’s face, the wide green eyes with layers of color. Eyes you could get lost in; fall in forever-happy just to be falling. He blinked and shook himself. “This is going to sound really, really strange, but I think it’s magic. I know you probably don’t believe me—“
“Magic? That’s what you think caused this? What else could it be?”
Connor narrowed his eyes. Magic was pretty universally bad in both sets of his memories, though this heavenly vision in front of him nearly made this round of magic-badness worthwhile. “You know about magic?”
“Of course, doesn’t everyone?”
The miracle child started laughing. This felt too familiar, listening to his first father talk of the other places, the paths through reality that were not Quartoth or Angel’s LA. “Not again. At least I’ll remember this time. Where are we- city, that is?”
“Los Angeles.” The woman spoke slowly, as if to a small child. He just looked her, face vaguely amused until she caught on. With a nod, she asked back, “Who’s president?”
“As in a shrub?”
“As in the one suffering from Mad Cowboy disease. Not your president?”
“Not by half. So, if I’m getting this right, you somehow wandered into a different dimension?” She grinned, lips soft and lushly colored. Connor wondered what it would be like to taste them. “I’ve heard about this, the theory that other realities existed, but never thought it was possible. You don’t feel like you’re lying, and you don’t feel threatening. None of the wards were activated, which means you didn’t come from outside, and none of the other guards came running so I think you really must have come from the closet.” She shook her head. “I guess I should be pleased you didn’t borrow a dress to wear on the way in.”
With a wicked grin, White Hair said, “But I’m sure you would have been very pretty.” At Connor’s grimace, the man held out his hand, “Rhys. So, you’re not from around here?”
“I’d say probably not.” At the touch of Rhys’ hand, Connor stiffened. Something felt different about him- not human. Something that had come back to him with the memories was the feel of the hunt- the taste of other, of pursuit. He stiffened.
All three noticed it, though only Rhys gripped his weapon again. Meredith cocked her head, curious. “Connor, what was that?”
“He doesn’t feel human.” A growl rose in his throat. “What are you?”
Rhys looked genuinely shocked. “You don’t know? We’re sidhe, boyo.”
“Sidhe? Is that a demon.”
Meredith laughed, free and wild. “Oh, Connor, our worlds are different. We’re fairies.”
Connor tried surreptitiously to look for wings on Meredith’s back, but he decided that leaning in and touching that skin soft as moonlit glow might not do wonders for keeping himself under robes. He squirmed, shifting his seat.
“We don’t have fairies. At least, not any I ever met.” He looked around. There was a bed, a dressing table, a pile of loosely scattered clothes, and two doors, one to the closet and one to the hallway he guessed. Nothing that screamed ‘Exit your worst naked-in-public nightmare here!’ “Um, so how do I get back?”
Nicca, the dark man with an incredible tattoo of wings all over his backside opened the closet door again. The ensemble peered inside. Meredith sighed, pulling out a dressing gown. Connor tried not to be disappointed when she slid it on. “Clothes, no way home.”
Connor shrugged. “That would have been way too easy.” He looked down at his bare feet before clicking his heels together. “There’s no place like home, there’s no place like home.”
The trio looked at him like he’d gone mad. He blushed, tying the robe tighter. “So, that didn’t work either, huh.”
“There has to be a reason for this. I think it has to do with you, Connor, since you’re the one out of place. Think, is there anything?” Meredith laid her hand on his arm, peering up at him. Connor wondered if it were possible to spontaneously combust; the place where she touched his skin frizzled with an electric energy that made his heart thump and his knees weak.
He gathered himself together enough to murmur, “Uhhhhh…Wishes. I was wishing I could talk to someone who would understand having two lives at once.”
He didn’t miss the looks that Meredith exchanged with her bedpartners. Yes, ‘ers’. Connor finally picked on the fact that both men had been in her bed –naked-- and were therefore like to have been…He yanked his thoughts back on track when she nodded contemplatively.
“So, you wished for someone to understand having two lives?” She laughed a bit self-depreciatingly. “Like a faerie princess who pretends she’s a human detective, hiding her true self to live out amongst normal people who’ve never heard of court politics?”
He blinked. She smiled, elegance incarnate. He thought his heart would burst, which was entirely too weird, though about right for the situation. Maybe there was something in the air- it felt a bit heavy, if that was the right word, full of seductive things that made his nerve endings shiver. No one else seemed to notice.
Regardless, Connor didn’t fall head over heels just like that. He mooned and nanced and was pretty standard teenaged angsty about his love life, what little there was. Well, that and bed his pseudo-mother figure in a rain of fire. Eh, six and one half dozen the other.
“How about the miracle child of two vampires who was kidnapped and raised in a hell dimension by a fundamentalist, unbalanced adopted father who set you up to think he was killed by the broody, heroic biological father who in turn gave you a chance at happiness by inserting you into the family of an ordinary, loving imaginary father?”
The men blinked, but Meredith nodded. “So, your two lives are the mystical, magical one and the one like the Cleavers.”
“Exactly. Except until a few weeks ago, I didn’t remember the real life, only the one my Dad- Angel- created for me. Now I remember both. How do you be a normal guy when you can bench press a car?”
“A car? Impressive,” Rhys murmured, looking at Connor in a whole new, not entirely unthreatened way.
He fiddled with one of the many perfume bottles on the vanity, wondering if that was the scent that Meredith smell so…divine. “I mean, not that I want to, but if you could be superman, would you? Do you just let things happen or do you try…” he trailed off with a sigh, dropping his head to his hands in frustration.
Meredith pursed her lips in thought. After a moment, during which Nicca and Rhys settled into an armchair across from them, she spoke. “You can never truly hide yourself. If you have gifts, they will out in the most extraordinary places. I thought I could hide, could be so innocuous that no one would notice me. It worked for a while, but then I was outed in the most embarrassingly naked situation you can imagine.” Connor raised an eyebrow and she chuckled. “Or maybe you can. You can’t just turn off what makes you you. If you can bench press cars, then one day you’ll come across a little girl trapped under one and lift it off, only to be faced with her hysterical mother wanting to know how. If you’re extraordinary, like it seems that you are, then you can’t be otherwise. Lord and Lady know I’ve tried.”
Connor watched her as she ran her fingers through her hair. He wanted to touch and see if it was a soft as it looked, light sparking off it like spun rubies. A small part of his brain said no woman could be this appealing. Ever. And he had to snap out of it.
He cheerfully ignored it.
She continued, “If you were really wished here to talk with me, then maybe that’s the answer you need. Learn what you can from both lives, the lessons you learned yourself and the ones your father- which father was it again? The vampire? Angel wanted you to learn. He must have loved you very much to give you up.”
For the first time since his memories had been glued back together, Connor felt a bit more whole. There were still cracks and tears, but what this strangely delicious princess in a Los Angeles far, far, away from home said made sense. He smiled a bit, noticing for the first time his robe was covered in butterflies. Meredith nodded to Nicca.
“Try the closet again.”
The man, sidhe, did as she requested, a startled gasp indicating that there was something more than silk and leather in the closet. “Merry, you may want to look at this.”
The three of them came over, crowding around. Connor flushed as he noticed how messy his dorm room was, reminding himself to really clean next time. Meredith chuckled. “Wardrobe to another world indeed. So this is home?”
Connor nodded, taken by surprise when she leaned up and gave him a light kiss on the lips. Meredith tasted of lemons and moonlight. She smiled, eyes like liquid emeralds. “You have your answer. Take care of yourself, and good luck with the Superman gig.”
The teenager, too stunned to react, merely nodded, clutching the robe tighter. Rhys inclined his head and Nicca smiled faintly before Meredith gave him a light push. He had one last glimpse of her framed by her two men, wearing a transparent robe, nothing hidden, before the door fell shut. He grinned. What a sight.
Still pleased with himself, he almost missed the soft whooshing sound behind him. He gave a startled yelp when a scruffy man wearing a very bad outfit came into view. Without thinking, he leapt forward, pinning him against the wall, one hand holding a letter opener against his throat. He looked like a man, but something wasn’t quite right- he smelled sterile, as if his true form had been whitewashed.
“Did you enjoy your little trip? Wishes are such wonderful things…” The stranger smiled ingratiatingly and adjusted his neon green and lavender striped tie. Connor leaned back a bit.
“What did you say?”
“I’m here to offer you an opportunity, my violently unpredictable young friend. One that you might find quite interesting.”
Connor loosened his hold, allowing the demon to drop fully. It cocked its head, “Interesting choice of attire- I didn’t know butterflies and ruffles were your thing.”
“I’m borrowing it,” he mumbled, tightening the sash.
The not-a-man smiled again, removing his atrocious hat in a small bow. “Whistler at your service. Now that you’ve regained the memories of what you were, the Powers that be would like to offer you the chance to become, how does it go- all that you can be?”
Connor winced as Whistler shoved a pile of dirty laundry to the floor. The creature didn’t seem evil, but neither had Cordelia at first. “Go on,” he said, “Let’s hear it.”
Whistler beamed and settled his hat on his knee. “It goes like this, Destroyer. In the beginning were the demons…”
Across the boundaries that separated this plane from Theirs, the Powers were relieved. The balance would be maintained, now that this miracle child was in play. How it turned out, not a One of Them could say, but They had to agree, it was going to be a very interesting ride.~~~End Over the Rainbow~~~