Mother is the Name
disclaimer: Not mine. They belong to Joss Whedon. If they were mine, don't you think I'd have Connor be less of a little shit?
notes: The quote is from "The Crow". The song "Mandy" is by Barry Manilow.
spoilers thru "Normal Again" BtVS and "Sleep Tight" AtS.
a bit of the prologue stuff....
*~*~*"Mother is the name for God on the lips and hearts of all children..."
There was nothing. That's what she remembered first. The nothing. A great black nothing that was neither cold nor hot. Just there, just void. Then there was pain and memories. Voices. Scents. Images. Like waves on the shore in a hurricane. Crashing, killing, breaking on the beach. It was all a jumble until one memory, one voice sounded louder and brighter than all the rest.
This child... Angel, it's the one good thing we ever did together. The only good thing. You make sure to tell him that.
"The child." She whispered in pain.
Darla blinked. She could make out the silhouette of something a bit off from wherever she was. Her eyes wouldn't focus. The voice had been that of a child. Her vision began to clear slowly, and she became aware she was sprawled out in a dirty alley. How typical. What was it with her and alleys? If Angel was here, she'd ask him because there was something about him and alleys as well. But there was no Angel. No Angel to try and rescue her from herself this time. How hard had he fought for her only to have the ending they'd had? After all she had done to him, after all the times she'd ditched him to save her own hide, he'd stuck by her side 'til the end of her. Yet here she was again. At a beginning.
"Who's there, you say? Wish I knew."
"Are you all right ma'am?"
"I think... not."
"When am I?"
"What? Do you mean where? I couldn't tell you. I'm not sure of it myself."
"No, I mean when."
"The last time. The last time there was nothing, then I was again, and it had been four years."
"I wouldn't know, ma'am."
"I just got here myself. Right before you. I was here on the cement then you fell from above in all white lights and the smell of fire. You fell like an angel from heaven."
"Yanked out of hell more like." She whispered. "Like Angel."
"Come closer, boy. Let's look at you."
He didn't move.
"I don't bite." Anymore.
The child walked out. Skinny and dirty. His clothes were tattered and filthy. His head was down. Darla could see a mass of dark hair sticking out in all directions resting on top of it. He couldn't be more than six.
He looked up, and her breath caught.
"Are you ok, ma'am?" He blinked his large blue eyes at her.
All Darla could do was stare. She was looking at a child-sized version of Angel. With HER eyes. Her child. THE child. Hers and Angel's. She knew it, felt it. That knowledge made tears shine in her eyes.
"I'm sorry. I don't mean to frighten you. You just have the prettiest blue eyes."
"So do you."
Darla smiled. Flatterer. An Angelus trait. Or perhaps a Liam one. "I suppose I do. What's your name, sweetheart?"
"Stephen Franklin Thomas. But Father called me Connor. Strange, isn't it?"
"Not in the least... Connor." Her heart was pounding in her chest.
"What's your name?"
Darla considered for a long time. Should she tell him? Her own name, her given name, was long forgotten to her. "Darla."
"Father knew a Darla. He hated her."
"She killed his family. His wife, his daughter, his son."
"He wasn't my real father. He told me. Just before.... I came to find my real father."
Darla wondered what had happened. Who had raised her son? Why had Angel abandoned their child? "I guess I should help you then."
"I'm perfectly capable."
"Do you even know where to start looking?"
She almost beamed with pride. He was smart and brave. "Well. Then maybe I could tag along?"
"I wouldn't be any trouble. I hate to be alone. I could use someone to take care of me."
"I would like some company. I haven't had much since Father died. I suppose I could take you. I'd hate to leave a lady without anyone to help her." Connor held out his hand to help her to her feet. All gentleman, her boy.
"Why do you smile?"
"I'll tell you one day, darling boy."
"Cross my heart and hope to... well..."
Connor grinned up at the blonde woman and took her hand. He liked her already. He could hear her heart beating, and her hand was warm, so he knew there was no danger there. His father had told him that evil wore many faces. That he should trust no one, but somehow he just knew he could trust this woman who looked at him as if he were precious. And he knew her somehow. She was familiar to him. He felt this need to curl up against her. He knew why. He was just afraid to say it. He'd waited so long. She didn't seem like the monster his father had told him about. But there was no doubt in his mind. She was THE Darla.
Darla threaded her hand through his tiny one and they began to walk. First order of business needed to be clothing. They both looked like homeless people.
Second, was to figure out how far they were from Los Angeles. Connor stiffened slightly. Darla looked around. By the time she realized exactly where she was, and what was going on, the vampire already had a good grip on her neck. Darla screamed in rage.
"Leave her alone!" Connor screamed.
They was the sound of a struggle. Darla was thrown into the side of a building.
Things went fuzzy. Stupid human body. Why'd she have to come back as human? Couldn't she have been Mrs. Soul-having? Like Angel. Vampire strength and a heart of pure gold to go with it.
She was fading out as she heard the vampires screaming in pain. She felt hands on her face. Soothing hands.
"Help her. She didn't know. It's all my fault."
Darla reached up. "Connor, luv, shh. Not your fault."
Another voice sounded. "She'll be ok. I'll help her."
"What's all this then?" Another voice.
Darla stiffened. She knew THAT voice. She was about to call out to him when Connor's screaming drowned her out.
"Keep away from us, you beast!"
"Shh." The woman cooed to Connor. "He won't hurt us. Not physically."
"But he's... he's a..."
"Vampire?" The woman questioned. "I know."
"BACK, YOU DEVIL!"
"Devil?" He chuckled.
"Spike help me!" The woman with the delicate touch hissed.
"Why should I, witch?"
"Spike." Darla whispered.
She passed out then.
Spike was having what Buffy would call issues.
Darla was here. She was human. She had a little boy with her. One that looked far too much like Angel for his tastes. And the little mite had HER eyes. It was too freakish.
"What are you thinking about?"
Spike looked up. The child in question was peering at him with those huge blue eyes. "None a'your beeswax."
The child had the audacity to smile at him. "You're the first vampire I ever met who didn't try to suck my blood."
Spike eyed him. "Know a bit about it, do you?"
"I know if I put a wood stick in your heart you go poof to dust."
"So what's keeping you from it?"
"The lady witch with the sad eyes said you wouldn't hurt us, and Darla called you by name."
"Why do you call her Darla?"
"That's her name."
"But isn't she your mum?"
Connor looked down. "My mother's name was Justine."
"What was your father's name?"
"It was... my real father or the man I called father?"
"Your real father."
Connor paused for a long time. This would be the first time he said this name out loud. He'd thought it so many times, but never spoken it. "Angel."
"You can go now. I can handle this." Tara said as she walked into the living room of her apartment.
Connor was wearing one of her t shirts. He had fallen asleep on the couch with a blanket. Spike was standing on her balcony/porch smoking a cigarette like he hadn't had one in months.
"I said you could go if you want."
"I'm not moving."
"Are you ok, Spike?" Tara stepped outside with him.
"That thing, that child, whatever he is, is NOT possible."
"What? I don't-"
"That's Angel and Darla's son!"
"Shh." Tara glanced at Connor. "You'll wake him. What do you mean? Make some sense."
"Angel is a vampire. Darla was one."
"Wait. Are you saying that's THE Angel's son?"
"That's not possible."
"Angel's a vampire."
"Vampires can't have children."
"No shit, witch."
"How is this even possible?"
"And now we come to the portion of the conversation that holds the reason to my not leaving. I'm going to find out."
"That's THE Darla, pet."
"Wait, that woman is his mother and Angel's the father."
"But she's human."
"She didn't used to be."
"Pet, don't the Scoobies tell you anything? Darla was the vampire that turned Angel."
Darla opened her eyes. It took her a minute to recall where she was.
"Connor?" She tried to sit up, but her head was killing her. "CONNOR!"
Hands soothed her back into the bed. "Shh. He's fine. Spike's been watching him. He fell asleep not too long ago."
"Spike's been watching him? Oh great."
Tara smiled. "He's a bit concerned."
"He seems to think Connor belongs to you and Angel."
"But that's not possible."
"Tell me about it. Try being undead and pregnant."
"You were a vampire when you had him?"
"I didn't have him." Darla noticed Spike standing in the doorway.
"My body was killing him. I staked myself so that Connor wouldn't die."
All Spike could do was stare. This was not the Darla he remembered.
The three of them were jarred by a loud crash and a child's scream.
"CONNOR!" Darla shot out of the bed like a mad woman.
Spike was the first to get back into the living room. What he saw made him skid to a stop. There was a portal opened in Tara's living room. Wind was whipping through. Connor was holding on to the back of the couch trying not to be sucked in. It eerily reminded Spike of the scene in Poltergeist when the little blonde chit got sucked into the closet.
Tara was trying to hold Darla back. Both women had hair whipping about their faces due to the strong winds.
Connor's head turned to look at them. "MOMMY!"
Darla screamed and lunged to her feet drunkenly. Her head wound was keeping her from seeing straight.
The boy's grip was finally taken from him. He went flying towards the portal. In an uncharacteristic display of heroics, Spike dove for him. The force still sent both the boy and the vampire into the portal, but Spike's arms were firmly wrapped around Connor. Darla screamed again and grabbed for them. Her hand latched on to the edge of Spike's duster as she toppled into the portal after them. Tara made a grab for them, but all she ended up doing was falling in the hole after Darla. Her hand managed to find the other woman's arm as the wind still swirled in the small living room apartment.
Then the portal closed abruptly, and everything went into an eerie silence.
Buffy and Willow were patrolling the too quiet streets on Sunnydale.... with Dawn.
Buffy was thinking about what all she had done to all of them. Dawn, Xander, Willow.... Tara. God, if Tara hadn't shown when she did, Buffy shuddered to think what might have transpired. She felt so guilty. She really wanted to apologize to Tara.
Willow was just thinking about Tara.
Dawn was thinking about how cool it was to finally get to patrol with the others. Even though Buffy had said she could only go with her and not every night. It was still cool. Dawn knew she was only getting to go because Buffy felt guilty. Dawn didn't blame her though. Not really. Yeah, she had been hurt and scared for a while, but Buffy had been under the influence of demon stinger poison. You had to make weird allowances for sibling fall outs when your sister was that one chosen in the generation.
There was a flash of light as a portal opened in the air near them and four bodies tumbled out.
Dawn jumped. She was quite proud of herself for not screaming. Willow shoved the younger Summers behind her. Right into the waiting arms of a hungry vampire. Dawn did scream then. Buffy and Willow whipped around to the sound of Dawn's scream. Buffy was about to move when she heard a voice from behind her.
"Let the girl go."
Buffy turned as a guy stepped up next to her. He was tall and thin. His long brown hair was hanging down a bit. It was wavy and made him look more dangerous than he probably was. His eyes were a clear, bright blue. He had on worn black muslin pants and a baggy beige muslin shirt that should have been tied at the throat, but was gaping open in a wide V. There was a thin braid tucked behind his ear that had red thread or something woven into it. He had a serious-looking bow in his arms and a quiver of arrows on his back. He was aiming in the general direction of the vampire and Dawn.
The vampire snarled in response to his demand. Buffy noticed his jaw ticked slightly. He reminded her of someone. She just couldn't place it.
"B-Buffy." Dawn whimpered.
"It's ok, Dawn."
"Again." The stranger said. "Release her."
Out of the corner of her eye, Buffy saw something moving in the bushes to the right of Dawn. She had to distract the vampire and get Dawn. Now. "Do you know what a slayer is?"
The vampire stiffened. "Yes."
"Well, you're holding the sister of one."
He was about to move when a body came flying out of the bushes and tackled Dawn from the vampire. In the next instant the vampire was turning to dust from the arrow the stranger had placed in his heart from the firing of his bow. Buffy looked at him for second before rushing to where Dawn was.
Dawn couldn't stop shaking. There was someone completely covering her. Whoever it was had rescued her. She sucked in deep breaths as the scent of worn leather hit her. The person on her pulled back, and Dawn gasped.
It was Spike. But not like she'd ever seen him. His hair was long. Down past his shoulders. It was also honey blonde instead of platinum.
He stood and helped her to her feet. "You all right, luv?"
He was still holding her hands. He pulled them out from her sides and looked his fill. "You are a sight for sore eyes."
"Spike?" Buffy was looking at him in shock. She couldn't believe it.
His hair was long. He wore his duster, but it looked more worn than usual. His pants and shirt were of worn black muslin. His black boots looked slightly worse for the wear.
"You know these girls, Spike?" The stranger had joined them.
Willow was staring at him.
"It's not polite to stare, Red."
Willow jumped. "Sorry, I... you just look so familiar. I didn't mean to be rude."
"Quite all right." He smiled.
Willow felt her pulse speed up. Goddess above, he was gorgeous as sin.
The stranger looked at Spike. "You know them?"
"Of course he does, Connor. As do I." A female voice said.
Everyone turned in that direction as two women stepped out of the shadows. They were both in pale blue muslin. Buffy stared at them. They looked familiar, but she couldn't place them. One had blonde hair. The other had honey colored hair.
"Tara?" Willow asked.
The woman with the honey colored hair stepped forward. "Willow." She walked to the redhead and embraced her. "Goddess, I have missed you."
"What's going on here?" Buffy asked in confusion.
"We're home." Spike said. "Bloody hell, Tara, you did it!"
She let go of Willow and rushed into Spike's arms hugging him tightly.
"We're home?" Connor asked.
"If Sunnydale is your home." The other woman said.
It was then that Buffy knew her. That voice. "Darla." She hissed. She threw her stake in the blonde's direction.
Connor caught it. He gave her a deadly look. "Don't do that."
"Whoa." Willow was gaping.
"He gets a little protective sometimes." Spike said. "Ain't that right, mama's boy?"
"Don't start." Tara hissed as she swatted Spike in the chest.
Buffy was so confused. "Could someone explain? Please."
Connor smiled at her. "Be glad to. Once we kill the vampires that think they're sneaking up on us."
It exploded. Everyone was suddenly deep in the fight. Connor was already doing serious damage with his bow. Willow kept getting distracted by Tara fighting. She was actually fighting.
Connor noticed the instant the vampire grabbed the girl Spike had been calling Dawn. He rushed for her. The vampire never knew what hit him. Connor wrenched Dawn from his grasp. She stumbled as he threw her out of the way. Connor proceeded to beat the hell out of the vampire. A foot to the vampire's chest sent him careening into a tree with a broken branch. He exploded into dust. That was the last. Connor smiled before he remembered Dawn.
He whipped around. She was laying on the ground propped up on her elbows with her mouth hanging open. He held out his hand to help her up.
Dawn could do nothing but stare. He was just the cutest guy she'd ever seen. And he was a badass. She'd never seen anyone shoot that fast in real life. She was completely over her Orlando Bloom thing now. Legolas didn't have anything on this guy as far as she was concerned.
"You all right?" He asked. "Did he hurt you? I can't stake him again, but I could say a few choice words in reference to his undead person."
Dawn blinked. She was struck speechless. The closer she got to him, the better he looked.
Connor was a little concerned. The girl was just staring at him. He wasn't used to other people. Is this what they were like? Maybe he'd just stare back at her. That was his mistake. She was pretty. Her hair was straight and brown. She was tiny too. Like she might break. All her features were too large for her tiny face. She had huge blue eyes, a nice set of pink lips, and a sprinkle of freckles across her nose. The eyes were what had him though. There was something different about her.
Buffy cleared her throat. Creepy stranger guy was holding her little sister's hand and staring at her.
Connor dropped Dawn's hand and swallowed hard. It could not be possible that he'd waited his whole life to see human girls, and he falls smitten with the first one close to his age that he comes across. But those eyes.
"Explanation. Any time. Really." Buffy said.
"Let's get indoors, slayer."
She looked warily at Darla. "All of us?"
"All of us." Spike said.
Buffy and Willow were just staring at the four people assembled in the Summers living room. Dawn was just staring at Connor. If Buffy hadn't been so stunned, she would have asked her sister if she could be any more obvious.
But she couldn't. She couldn't seem to make her voice work. It was too wild. Ten years. Spike and Tara had been gone from Sunnydale for ten years. It had been like a blink. But that she understood. Time moved differently in other places. What she couldn't grasp was how Connor was Angel's son. Angel and Darla's son. And Darla was human now. She's been staked twice. Angels' son. His sixteen year old son. No wonder Connor had looked familiar to her. He looked a little like Angel. He was tall like him anyway.
"Well." Spike clapped his hands together. "I am so ready for a haircut and a bleach. And jeans. Bloody hell I have missed wearing jeans."
Tara sighed. "Bubble bath."
"MTV." Darla grinned.
Spike started laughing. "Tired of my singing?"
"No, honey. Of course not. You and Tara both sing beautifully. But I long for something other than punk rock acapella. There's only so many renditions of an unaccompanied 'I Wanna Be Sedated' a girl can hear before she really does want to be sedated."
Connor's eyes widened as they shot to her. That sound. She just wasn't getting any less pretty to him. He'd always thought his mother and Tara were the loveliest creatures he would ever lay eyes on, but Dawn Summers was moving up into that short list.
"When do we go to Los Angeles?"
Everyone looked at him.
"I want to find him."
Spike nodded. He felt a slight sense of loss. The boy had always come to him. Now Angel would take that away, just like he had everything else in Spike's existence. He looked over at Darla. She was looking at him so tenderly. That damned woman had him so figured out. She knew what he was thinking.
"He's different, William."
Everyone looked at Darla as she put her hand to her mouth and looked away, so they wouldn't see the tears in her eyes. Connor sat next to her.
"It wasn't supposed to be like this. He's probably dying without you."
Connor felt a moment of uncertainty. "Do you... think... he'll like me?"
"He bloody well better." Spike got up and started pacing.
"How could he not. You're beautiful." Dawn whispered.
Buffy elbowed her. Connor grinned. Spike stopped and looked at Dawn, then he looked at Connor, then back at Dawn, then finally at Buffy before he broke down laughing. Buffy rolled her eyes. She was well aware of the irony here. There was no need for him to take amusement in it.
Her concern was Angel's reaction when the fab four showed up on his doorstep. Because she knew Darla would go where Connor went. But somehow she got the feeling that Tara and Spike were now very much a part of that.
She almost wished she could go with them, but Sunnydale was her town. Not LA. It was never more obvious than when she looked at Angel's son. Their worlds were so different now she didn't even know if they could exist in the same room anymore.
And that thought made her heart hurt.