Return

Jan. 5th, 2008 11:10 am
abetterlie: (Innocence Drowned by Marciaelena)
Cut for length, cross-posted with Darla's journal )


ooc: and thus, I take my leave of my two favourite muses. It's been a wonderful experience playing them, and I will miss it, and my fellow players, so very much. But I hope their exit did them justice, and will give new muns the opportunity to play their own versions of the characters...
abetterlie: (Default)
Okay, there are two ways of answering this, love declarations or rants, and I don't want do do either.

Also? The whole question is wrong. If I could choose, I wouldn't be me.

And how the hell am I supposed to know how other people were/are as parents? You look at some families and you think "oh, great" or "wow, they're so screwed up", but as long as you're not part of that family, you have no way of really knowing, do you. But even if. Even if I could know - look, I already have more than my share of parents, and I don't want to choose between them, so why should I want to pick even more?

*locked from everyone but Harry*

Sometimes I think you pick those who need you the most, if that makes the best sense. Mom and Dad loved me - they were made to - and sometimes I wonder why this Cyvus Vail guy picked them to be my parents. Maybe they wanted another child, maybe Angel just asked for two great people, which they were, I don't know. But now I remember them as my parents, and if I could wish them back to life, of course I would. They weren't geniuses or superheroes or anything, and they weren't saints, either; I guess if I had come clean and told them the truth instead of getting them killed doing what I did, they'd have been angry, they'd have felt violated by the whole mindwipe thing, and once they'd have gotten over that, if they had, Mom would have insisted on group threrapy. And self help books. She was really into those. Dad would have - I don't know. Probably wondered if they could hire someone to sue Wolfram and Hart, not because of money but because it was the principle of the thing.

I miss them.

But you know, their lives were pretty good without me. Actually way better without me, at least during the last year. Mere as an only child, I don't know how that would have turned out, except she must have been, pre-memory wipe, so I figure that would have been fine as well.

My father, now. I know people think I'm brainwashed or something when it comes to him, but I was with him for seventeen years, and I think that's more than anyone else can say. Even his wife and his other family, centuries ago. And so I think that gives me the right to say I knew him best. My father - Daniel Holtz - he needed me. I don't mean for vengeance, though obviously, yes. I'm not blind, okay? Or for survival. He kept me alive during the first years before it became a mutual thing. But you see, what happened to his first family, and the quest, that had become everything, and he had given everything else up - so he couldn't let anyone in anymore before God gave me to him he stole me God gave we ended up in Quortoth. I guess Justine came close - I couldn't ask - but ultimately, he left her behind. And then there were our seventeen years together, and he loved me, and I loved him. He wasn't alone anymore. He did let me in. That was such a major thing for him, and there is no way I could wish that away from him, or him away from me.

I miss him, too.

So I remember an entire life with Mom and Dad and Mere, and I remember an entire life with my father, and none of them actually produced me in the biological sense. You could still count the time I spent with my biological parents and it wouldn't even add up to a year, I think. Cordelia once gave me a present - a dvd with a film on it that showed Angel and a baby. Actually, Angel, Wesley, Cordy, Fred and Gunn with a baby. They're all happy and goofy like you wouldn't believe, and I can't watch that film without feeling about a hundred things at once, some of which make me sappy like a wet towel and some make me want to smash the tv. Darla isn't there on the film, of course; she was dead. Still, sometimes I wonder. What it would have been like. To be that child, still growing up in the Hyperion - I would be what, six or so? Sometimes I want that. Sometimes I want that desperately.

The thing is, I can never quite believe that baby was me. Except for one scene in the entire movie. Which is when the baby starts to cry, and Angel gets into game face for some reason, and the baby stops crying. Because - I remember that. The sense of it at least. I remembered when I first saw his face again. His true face. Which isn't the game face, and it's not the human one, it's both, one shifting into the other.

Both.

I never saw Darla as a vampire weird time travel occasions excluded; when I saw her the first time, she was dead and I thought I was going crazy. But I never doubted it was her, either. She doesn't need the vampire thing to be - well, her. I can't imagine her raising me at all, either in Quortoht or in an L.A. suburb, or in the Hyperion, and yet I can imagine her pregnant, which is all kinds of weird, I guess. Sometimes I think I don't get her at all, that she's alien in a way Angel isn't, and sometimes I think I understand her way better than I want to, but either way - I can't look at her without knowing she died for me. How can you ever be possibly worthy of that? It drives me crazy.

They're not normal parents; they're not the parents who need me most. (They need a child, which isn't necessarily me. Say Wesley suddenly comes forward and declares he switched babies before my father took me, and that their son Connor is somewhere in Los Angeles as a child and I'm some changeling he got elsewhere to fool Holtz - I think that would make the difference to them. Not that they'd suddenly stop talking to me or something, of course not, but they'd feel differently, and I think after a while, they would stop bothering.) And they're definitely the only parents I hated for being my parents, for being their son, when I was a child and a good while after. But even then I was curious about them in a way I never was about Mom and Dad, who were just Mom and Dad, or Father, who was beginning and end, but you didn't question him, you didn't wonder about him. I never stopped wondering about them, being curious - okay, make that obsessing - though the hate factor kept changing, obviously. Now I'm an adult, and I have adult responsibilities, so it's far too late to be a child anyway. Anyone's child.

Last night I dreamt they were both dead, truly dead, and I thought: I can't live like that.

They're not the parents who need me. But they're the parents I need.

Timelines

Mar. 18th, 2007 02:44 pm
abetterlie: (Default)
Time has always a been flexible thing where Connor was concerned. The summer after Connor arrived in Los Angeles, Fred tried to calculate his age. She had kept track of her years in Pylea through her scribblings on the wall; it had been her link to sanity, she said, and asked him whether Holtz had not done something similar. In truth Holtz had at first, had tried to keep adherence to a calendar, but Connor had been too young to remember by the point his father had given it up.

There were events, though, that he could use to differentiate the years. The year he first managed to track his father down within three days was a different year from the one they found the swamp with the poisonous flowers, and that in turn had been at least much later than the time Connor had made his first spear, and so on. After some recounting and a lot of frowning, Fred had worked out an equation that said he was seventeen years old, going on eighteen in November.

Fred was a mathematical genius, but to this day, Connor has no idea whether she got it right.

Cyvus Vail, who created one set of Connor’s memories, was very precise about years and dates. It helps keeping the two different timelines in his head without going crazy, though sometimes, they blur: dates, months, days, hours, those are for events which never happened. They are sharp-edged and fitting to exact moments the way photos do in an album. He is four years and seven months on the day his sister Mere is born, and it is two o’clock in the afternoon of the following day when his father brings him to the hospital to watch the new baby through the glass protecting it and the other babies. Connor stretches out a hand which presses against the glass, frustrated, and leaves a very visible thumb print because he has been eating a peanut butter sandwich before they got here. The hospital watches all show 2: 32 exactly when this happens, except it never did.

The other memories are not associated with dates in his mind; not just the Quortoth ones. He has no idea on which day he crossed dimensions, but he remembers the taste of ice cream on Sunny’s lips when she kissed him, and the sense of the sun setting down while she did. He doesn’t know on which day his father died, either, except it was two days after that, but what he can still remember is the way the stars and the neon light from the pier reflected in brittle fragments on the dark sea when Gunn and Fred talked about Angel going after Holtz behind his back. It was autumm when Cordelia returned to the Hyperion, but he doesn’t know which week; what he remembers instead is the way her hand felt when taking his and the sound her feet made on the pavement when she ran away with him.

It’s a wild mixture now. Sometimes he remembers the days on which things happened, and sometimes he doesn’t. Sometimes he thinks “September” when recalling a drive to Monterey, an encounter in a hotel room and a flight to Boston; sometimes he recalls anger, curiosity, the taste of whiskey and intoxication.

Perhaps his two timelines are still running, and never became one. Perhaps he just keeps crossing from one to the other and back, some kind of construct of different selves. Doesn’t really matter, though, except when both timelines somehow fail to produce memories. Recently, someone asked him what he did on 9/11. Connor thought, blanked out and concluded that Cyvus Vail, sorcerer extraordinaire, did not cover that one, so he made a story up.

Later, he went back to the old equation Fred had given him, which included his actual birth date, and realized he had not even been born then. So perhaps somewhere, there was a third time line, covering the live of that baby on the photo Cordelia had, the photo that showed herself and Angel. Supposedly, there is a world without shrimp out there, so presumably there is one where that baby is still a child and actually wearing that hokey t-shirt Angel says he bought.

Perhaps. If there is, Connor can’t remember it, and he doesn’t want it, not really, because if he did, it would mean giving up his other two timelines, and whether they consist of dates or sensations, they mean too much to ever want a third.
abetterlie: (Default)
Between Harry in California to see Kara and Evan in New York with his mother, Connor had a lot of unexpected free time at his hand during the weekend. Talking with Cordelia about the Lex issue helped a bit, but he still found himself somewhere between anger, disappointment and renewed attacks of self loathing.

It wasn't that he was in a position to judge. Between sending Angel under the ocean to avenge Daniel Holtz and bringing an innocent girl to be sacrificed so his daughter could be born, he understood the motivation all too well. But that was just it. He understood because he was tainted the same way.

Connor found himself wandering through the house Harry had bought after discovering he had a child, and coming across various toys left from Evan's last visit. A little truck, a bear, a plush penguin. The texture of plastic and artificial vibres on his skin when he picks them up and holds them is alien, utterly alien, all of a sudden. Perhaps because Vail didn't include artifiicial tactile memory of toys, or because it somehow sums up what's at stake.

After putting the toys on shelves, Connor decides to go to Bullock's office. The man won't be there, but a staple of bills and letters will, and he can do some unpaid overtime work, which means he will stop thinking what he's thinking right now.

Last year, Harry lost a friend and nearly died himself because of a vampire playing games with Connor. This year, he nearly lost another friend because Connor's mother wanted payback. It was all very well to rant about responsibility to Darla on the phone, or to Cordelia on livejournal, but what would be the truly responsible thing to do? Now that the stakes were so infinitely higher because there was a child involved?

Remove the taint, of course.

Perhaps that was what those dreams of killing Kara had been about, too. To show Connor something. No, it's not that he's the only one responsible for Kara's state, though he guesses in the end, he bears more responsibility than Lex Luthor, but maybe he's the one who can end it, only not in a lethal way. Kara told him more than once she wished she could cut him out of her life, but she couldn't, because of Darla and Angel.

Consider this: can anyone reasonably say Harry and his son would not be better off without Aurelians in their lives? And: if Connor was out of the picture, how long before Harry would get back together with Kara? And he would not dump her again. He loves her. She's not sixteen anymore. He'd know what's at stake. Kara would finally have what she wanted, a devoted boyfriend/husband, a family of her own.

And don't have any kids yourself. That Larkin poem. They fuck you up, your mum and dad...

How long before Natalie figures out that Harry's boyfriend is a lightning rod for all kind of trouble in addition to being someone with a psycho family and a bona dide sociopath, endangering her son? And if she figures it out, won't she do the responsible and sensible thing and deny Harry any more access rights, and won't that be the worst thing, worse than the death of Harry's father, because no pain is worse than losing a child, and won't Connor be the one responsible if he stays?

He's relieved when he arrives at Bullock's shabby little office. But the stench of cigars is fresh. The man himself is there. Drunk, as it turns out.

"What the hell are you doing here, Riley?"

Spare time and some more work, Connor says, and Bullock looks at him with bleary eyes.

"Shouldn't you be with your girlfriend, kid? What kind of retard spends Saturday at the office?"

"It's boyfriend," Connor says, "and I'm just following your example, boss."

"Watch your mouth," Bullock grumbles, but when he lights up a new cigar, he offers one to Connor as well.

"I don't smoke."

"God, your generation is so wasting being young," Bullock says, and then remains silent while Connor starts typing. After the third page, the former cop says:

"Did I ever tell you about saving Jim Gordon's life?"

It turns into an afternoon of tales about the Gotham police department and getting fired not for something that deserved firing, of which Bullock apparantly has done plenty, but for something he doesn't regret. By the end, Bullock is so drunk he can't talk anymore, and can't go back to his place, either. Connor can't bring himself to leave the man in his office, not in this state, so he takes him home, puts him under a shower which the drunken Bullock nonetheless manages to sleep through, and lets him sleep in the guest room.

Sunday morning arrives, and he has an overweight 40something with a hangover to deal with.

"How come you could carry me anyway?" Bullock asks suspiciously. "You look like you couldn't carry anything that's heavier than those pansy pamphlets you read when you think I'm not looking."

"Vitamins," says Connor, and makes breakfeast. If he's honest, the whole caring for the boss thing is very much due to this helping him not to ponder that possibility which is ever more clearly on his mind, but not exclusively. It feels comfortable, caring for grumpy elder men; familiar.

"Listen, Riley, whatever I said yesterday, I was drunk, okay? I make up stories when I'm drunk."

Connor can't resist. "You mean that whole part where I'm making you consider switching teams wasn't true?"

Bullock looks so horrified that he can't keep it up and apologizes for the crack.

"You're lucky I don't fire you," Bullock says, but he eats all his breakfeast, and after putting on his coat, he turns to Connor and remarks: "Just one thing, Riley. You won't get a raise for this. And for God's sake, get a life next weekend!"

After he left, Connor realizes that the house is full of cold cigar smoke now, and out of bagels. He spends the next hours with all windows open and a vaccum cleaner, and in between comes to the conclusion that vacuum cleaners double nicely as weights to lift for training. Something still lingers afterwards, so he takes out the dogs for a run. By the time it's early evening, he comes back, feeds the dogs, orders a pizza and starts a book. The temptation he doesn't want to think about is still there, but he's waiting for Harry to come home, which he supposes is a kind of answer.
abetterlie: (Bedroom by Ithica)
Note to self: don't fuck this up. Because one way or the other, you'll be in a position to. Either through the bringing-a-demon-to-the-housedoor thing, or otherwise, by being you. You know, that Larkin poem I quoted to Harry the first time we met? And don't have any kids yourself? Still good advice.

Sometimes I think that what I should have told Natalie was to take her kid and run.

Except, you know. Except for one thing, it's hers and Harry's, not mine. Except for another, good advice or not, I always wanted a family, and I think, maybe being a uncle, maybe that's safe for the kid. Evan. Who's not Jasmine, or Emily for that matter. That's a trap I have to try to not fall into. He's not them. God's gift in return for my dead children. I always hated it when HE called me that. He's himself.

Who's just woken up. So much for "sleeping through the whole night". Back later.

Okay, later. Much later. Harry's with His Highness, and I didn't want to call Natalie the first time I'm supposed to take care of Evan for longer than an hour, so I got sort of a crash course in trying out various ways to put a two years old back to sleep. My mom - Colleen - she did this via singing in my memories, but how do I know that works in real life? Yes, Father did it, too, but usually he couldn't afford to because there were predators around, so he just put a hand on my mouth and said "Stephen, careful". Plus you know, I suck at singing. I tried, anyway, and Evan was more awake than ever. So next I tried the "make some hot milk with honey" method which was on the list Natalie gave me, except we didn't have honey in the apartment. (I need to buy that.) So it was just hot milk. Well, luke-warm milk, because I figured it shouldn't be too hot so he wouldn't burn his mouth. Anyway, it didn't work.

(How I learned not to touch hot things as a child: very fast. Had to, because fire is one of the few weapons you have there when you're a middle-aged man without superpowers and with a toddler to protect. So Father did what he had to teach me. But this isn't Quortoth.)

Next I tried storytelling. Which actually didn't work to for me in either memories because I paid too much attention to the stories to get tired. Judging by the way Evan started to babble, it kept him up as well.

I guess I was pretty desperate. Seriously. And I, well. Imitated the sounds of every demon I could remember, in either dimension.

That did it. He got wide-eyed, and then he got back to sleep. It looks like he's smiling. But what if he's not? What if I've just given Harry's two-years-old son his first dose of nightmares?

Note to self: don't fuck this up. Really, really don't. Also, being an uncle is hard work.

Maybe I should practice that demon sounds imitation thing some more, though. Just in case.
abetterlie: (Quirky by Ithica)
First day at a new college, which is good in so many ways. Connor will be able to think about classes and whether all the attempts to catch up will have been enough, instead of thinking about Kara's outburst at the party, and Cordelia with both Bruce Wayne and Lindsey MacDonald. Yes, good in so many ways.

First, though, he cleans the apartment, because he's not sure Harry has clued into the fact you need to do that if you don't have servants and he doesn't really want him to; it's probably silly, but it feels like caretaking and helps with the whole what's mine is yours situation given that what was Harry's is such a lot. Harry has gone to the bank, and Connor has enough time to finish cleaning; his first classes start later than Harry's.

He's just about to try for the hundreth time to teach Armani how to stand still and walk on signal, like Bailey does, when the bell rings.
abetterlie: (Default)
It's one of my favourite memories that aren't. I think it must have happened, because why would Vail make up something like that? Or maybe it didn't. At this point, I don't care.

But what I remember is this: Mom and Dad - Colleen and Lawrence Riley, if it needs to be clearer - went through a bad time when I was ten and Mere was six. They tried to keep it from us, but you notice stuff. At least when you're ten you do, and when most of the other parents of the guys you go to school with are divorced. This was when I started to have this idea of running away to the circus, or something. Anyway, Christmas came, and a visit from my grandmother - Dad's mother - and of course she picked up on something being wrong, too, and made these comments to Mom where she was saying one thing but you could hear in her voice she meant something else. And after a while, Mom just about exploded, said "it's none of your freakin' business", took the car, and drove away. She didn't come back for hours, and there was supposed to be a party for Dad's collegues at our house - every year, someone else hosted the Christmas office party, and this year it was Dad's turn. Nobody was telling Mere and me anything, still, except Dad saying I should keep Mere busy, would I do that? So I tried. And I kept imagining Mom going away, or whatever was wrong turning out to be that either her or Dad was deathly ill or something, and felt more rotten by the minute.

Mere wanted some more of the cookies, though we weren't supposed to eat any more before Christmas dinner, but I didn't care about that anymore and went down to get some. The party had already started, and nobody would notice. So I went down the stairs, and there she was. Mom. Back. And she was kissing Dad. Not a peck on the cheek kiss or a good morning darling how are you kiss or something like that - it was the kind where you feel embarassed watching when these are your parents. Except I didn't, not this time. I was just so relieved. She was glowing, and so was Dad when he came up for air, and I knew whatever the bad thing had been, it was over now. They'd stay together. Nobody was sick. Best Christmas present ever.

You can't keep track of seasons or a calendar at Quototh. My father was always frustrated about this, because he wanted to obey the holidays and teach me how to. When I first came here, Fred tried to work out how many years had passed and how old exactly I was and what happened when, but math genius or not, she could only come up with estimations. But I think I can guess what happened in Quortoth when I was ten. I nearly lost him. He was aging, you see; he hadn't been a young man when we arrived there, and now he was starting to be old. Too old to be just fast enough, strong enough to beat every creature there on his own. They nearly got his leg that one time. It had been one of our tracking exercises, that's why I wasn't with him, and when I showed up, he was already bleeding, couldn't run anymore because of the leg would, and the smell attracted even more enemies. It took me nearly two hours to kill them all. Later, I realized I was now strong enough to carry him, and we got to a cave where we could rest for the night. He was furious. Not with me, with himself, because he knew it wouldn't be the last time his body betrayed him.

"I don't need any more tracking games," I told him, which was my way of promising I'd take care of him, just as he had of me when I had been too weak to kill for myself, and that I wouldn't leave him. That he'd be safe.

"No, I don't think you do," he agreed. I was happy then. There is no kiss involved, but it's my other favourite memory of that year.
abetterlie: (Default)
The last days and nights in Los Angeles, free of prison but not yet free to leave the city, had been an eerie mixture of wandering through the past and getting ready for the future. He had gone back to the Hyperion, but he hadn't really slept there, not because of the memories but because after weeks of being locked up, walking and running and the free sky, even if it was the cool November sky, was more attractive. As was getting back to fighting demons and vampires; no lack of them in Los Angeles, never. He didn't have to hold back anymore, and though the familiar rush of the fight was followed by the equally familiar shame afterwards, the awareness that he was every bit as inhuman as the creatures he killed, it set him free.

Taking the bus, he reached the suburb where his family-that-wasn't had lived, and visited the cemetary he had done his best to stay away from. The urns with their ashes were hidden behind a stone slot, and there was no sense of anything human left. Nevertheless, he let his hand rest against the stone. Oddly enough, it wasn't the photos he thought of, the ones the detectives had shown him again and again in recent weeks, it was the first memory he was sure had been real, celebrating his graduation from high school in a joyful, messy family meal. It left him with a sense of fragile peace.

The other thing he did while in Los Angeles was waiting for something he had asked Philipp to sent to him from Savannah via Federal Express, and on Monday, it arrived, just in time for his departure for Gotham. On November 14th, it would be exactly one year since Connor had come to New York to live with Harry Osborn. While they had been in Egypt during the summer, he had found something that he knew he wanted to give Harry to honour that day, though the prospect made him nervous in a way even the Beast had not. Perhaps it was too much, or altogether the wrong gesture. But he couldn't imagine not doing it, either.

Harry wasn't the only one he had a gift for. As it seemed he would have to be an uninvited guest at St. Bruce's manor for a few days, Connor figured a gesture of gratitude was in order. The problem with millionaires was, of course, that they could buy themselves pretty much everything they wanted, and if you didn't particularly like them, you had no idea about their personal tastes which made a handmade gift equally impossible. Besides, presenting Bruce Wayne with a weapon would probably be seen as a threat instead of a peace overture. This left Connor with an appeal to St. Bruce's sense of humour, a visit to Chinatown and the aquisition of a bag of grasshoppers in eatable, i.e. frozen form.

All in all, he left Los Angeles for Gotham with even less luggage than he had arrived in New York with. The jeans and shirt he had worn when they arrested him in Savannah and which had been given back to him upon his release, the things he had had with him on that day, including the few items he always carried around, such as Daniel Holtz' letter and Harry's first gift, the silver flask with the Larkin poem, the grasshoppers for Bruce Wayne and the item that mixed the joy and expectation at the prospect of seeing Harry again with alternating embarassment and hope. He held it in his hand during the journey, freed of the small Egyptian box made of sandalwood it would be in once he presented it, and felt it grow warm, absorbing his body heat. Connor looked at it, and suddenly was sure it was wrong. Too old fashioned, too melodramatic, too -

Then he remembered the letter Harry had written to him, and it seemed right again. To hell with second thoughts. This was his anniversary present, and yes, he meant every implication of it as well.

In his left hand lay a simple silver ring.
abetterlie: (Default)
If you had asked me last week what I wanted most right now it would have been for this trip to bizarro world to be over, both for Harry and me. That the cops would somehow realize they made a mistake, or something.

(Okay, so I wanted to break some people's bones as well, but not as much.)

Now half of that has come true. And I haven't felt less like celebrating. Guess that makes me the most ungrateful whiner ever, but here are the facts:

1.) Last week I broke out of jail. There were reasons. Det. Yoon showed me some photos of Harry and what they did to him in prison. After I dealt with them, I came back. I sort of hoped that would prove I was - welll, that I hadn't done what they thought I had anyway. Didn't exactly work. I got back into solitary again.

2.) Today, they told me a few days ago some guy named Vernon Pritchard who is already serving time for drug possession, robbery and homicide confessed to having killed Lawrence, Colleen and Mere Riley. My family. They probably didn't believe him at first, but he sticks to his story. So today, they told me I was free to go but should stay in L.A. for a few more days, "for formalities".

3.) The hell?

Because I know how they died. I mean, I found their bodies. Nobody shot them or knifed them or - well, okay, that's not what this guy Pritchard says he did. He worked in a hospital at the time, so he had access to narcotics and said he just wanted to render them subconscious while robbing the house and misjudged the dose, or something like that. No way. Not the way I found them. Plus I have a pretty good idea what killed them, and it wasn't Pritchard.

Except why would he say he did? And now I'm wondering about two possibilities. One is that I was completely wrong back then about the cause, that I just freaked out because I found them all dead. I was completely wrong about why my first father died as well. And that this Vernon Pritchard did kill them. Actually, I want to believe that. And that makes me a bit sick, because the reason I want to believe it is that it would mean I didn't cause it with my request about the memories, that it wasn't my fault. I'm so good at believing lies. Lies that make everything easier. I want to.

The other possibility is that Pritchard says it because it gets me off the hook. He doesn't know me, so there's no reason why he should feel all self-sacrificial except if someone is making him to. The way they tried to make me confess. Or maybe some other way. And there is a sort of limited circle of people who'd do that. Either way, he's now in for life with no chance of getting released, and is damm lucky if they don't retry him with the death penalty in mind. For something he didn't do.

My parents and my sister - the dead ones - they lived. They existed. I'm sure they were pretty happy and would have been for the rest of their lives if I hadn't completely screwed up and Angel hadn't needed a perfect family to place me in. Then they got their brains messed with, and then I screwed up some more. And this guy Vernon Pritchard, he lives. He exists. Okay, so he was in jail before for something he did do, but that doesn't mean he should be the next one to pay the price for me.

But if he did it. If by some crazy chance he did it.

Last week I just wanted this to be over. It was so good to be out of jail again, even for a few hours, and I wanted the open sky back and to fight again, don't care whom my life back. Except I forgot my life comes complete with lies and at other people's expense, and anyway, it's just half my life until Harry can go where he wants to as well and if someone did fix this, why didn't you do it for him instead?

Guess that proves you've got to be careful what you wish for. Especially if you're a hypocrite who still hasn't figured out how to run his life without causing damage left, right and center.

I need to find out more about Vernon Pritchard.
abetterlie: (Default)
After this

"Anger and hate," Justine said to him once. "Severely underrated. Keeps you going. Well, not you."

But then, she hadn't known him when hate kept him going, save for those two days between the death of one father and the imprisonment of another. Then Wesley had captured her and locked her up. In a closet. He's thinking of Justine a lot these days, and how she hated closed rooms afterwards, how they drove with open windows whenever they could. He also thinks of Angel under the sea, and the question of who deserves what.

Until Darla comes, and suddenly the fact his cell is neither a closet nor a coffin under the sea and that he does have blood on his hands doesn't provide him with the same resignation any more. He wants to breathe air again, any air, even some of the more toxic fumes from volcanos back in Quortoth would do, he wants his life back, and no matter whether Harry is really okay back in Gotham or not, he wants to see that for himself.

He also wants to hurt someone for this entire situation. And there are no demons around.

(Save for himself.)

Ironically, his general passivity so far, after the first day and assorted knocked out inmates, and the fact solitary didn't cause him to confess have persuaded the administration to a change of tactics. He's put in a cell with another murder suspect awaiting trial. As opposed to many a prison movie, the man in question is neither an oversized gorilla interested in rape nor an innocent who somehow ended up in detention. He's mostly complaining about how his lawyer screwed things up and didn't get him bailed out, and otherwise looking forward to visits from his wife. The person he killed was his son's math teacher.

"She was gonna let him fail," he explains. "Bitch." Hastily, he adds: "But of course I didn't do it."

The next day, Connor is offered a more or less blatant deal. Instead of having to watch the photos of his burned family yet again, he gets to watch photos of Harry Osborn, severely beaten up.

"Now Detective Fitzgerald, she figures the two of you were in it together, for a joyride," the policeman pushing the photos to him says. "But me, I can see another scenario. Maybe the Osborn boy just had bad luck and bad timing. But not you. Look, son, I know a killer when I see one. Bet no one would get the idea of putting your pal Harry into general population again if you confessed to all the murders. I'm just sayin'."

It takes all the will power he has not to move and react until the policeman shrugs and is about to signal the end of their conversation to the guards. Then he takes a page from Faith's book. He has crossed dimensions. He can do this. The main thing is not to look back.

There are glass splinters in his hair and there might be a bullet somewhere in his shoulder, at least that would explain the blood and the stinging pain there, but half an hour later he's on the road. Another hour later, he's confronted with his first demon. Only the demon turns out to be a costume, and not qualified for painsharing. Connor is hiding in one of the many underground tunnels beneath Los Angeles, far too familiar from the past, when it hits him.

He had forgotten. It's almost Halloween.
abetterlie: (Default)
Harry -

no idea whether this will get through, and it will be read first anyway, and maybe the reply will be a fake, but: you'll get out of this. Promise. I don't care how.

Connor


Dear Kara,

I never got to answer your last, and you probably think this is me acting out or whatever. I just wanted to say that there are some photos from Vegas you could sell on Ebay if you still need cash. They're uploaded at my photobucket account, password Manilow.

Connor


Dad Angel -

I had a job in Savannah, at a occult shop. Could you talk to the owner and explain? This is important. Also, maybe she'll tell you what she promised to tell me. I'm looking for that teenager we met at the Hyperion a year ago because she might know about what happened to Cordelia. If it turns out I can't, you have to.

Connor
abetterlie: (Default)
following this and this


Click.

The sound his fingers make as he stretches them is the only one. They put him in general population at first, but now there is something about solitary and protection. Meaning they want to protect the other prisoners from him. They don't know he's been careful, but rendering people unconscious is the best thing you can do in limited space when they keep going at you and you can't permit yourself to seriously hurt or kill them.

Harry doesn't have superpowers. He's gotten good at self defense by now, but that's not the same thing, and he hates closed spaces. Something to think about when Connor doesn't think about the photos, or the other dead, the ones the police know nothing about.

Click.

He should have remained with them, that day. Made sure their ashes were dispersed in the wind, as he and Justine had done when they burned Father. And it's not like he hasn't seen dead bodies before, or burned bodies, but one of the photos showed Mere's left little finger, miraculously intact, barely blackened. Just the little finger, with a friendship ring from one of her friends at high school, and he tries to remember the name of her friend. That keeps him occupied for an hour, at least, because he always returns to "Harmony", and he knows that's not true. Harmony was Kara's friend.

Click.

"Don't you have anything to say?" the Sergeant had asked, Kathleen Fitzgerald, and her partner had added: "I wouldn't count on your boyfriend to bail you out if I were you. He's probably already cutting a deal with the NYPD and moving on to the next best thing. Hey, come to think of it, didn't he already? Wasn't there something in the papers, Kath?"

But the woman had ignored that lead and had leaned forward, across the seat on the plane where they had Connor handcuffed. He didn't mention the cuffs were redundant. "You know you do," she had said intently. "I think you know exactly what you've done, and that you want to confess. Don't you?"

The thing was, she wasn't completely wrong. He's been thinking about it intermittendly, ever since meeting Faith again. When he had gotten drunk at Peter's, he had almost spilled it out. That singularly simple idea: human justice. No, he hadn't murdered Mom and Dad and Mere, not the way the police thought, or Mario, but he was responsible for their deaths nonetheless. He had killed a man more recently, the one who had held Emily captive. and hadn't even been sorry. And he had dragged a girl to her death, kidnapped her and delivered her to be slaughtered, with her blood allowing his daughter to be born.

You still love me?

Yes.

That was the death nobody would ever hold him accountable for, because even Angel, who knew about atonment and being a killer better than anyone, thought it was a good thing that she was dead: Jasmine.

Click.

Solitary, and maybe it's not even night any more. If he called out and said he didn't want to wait for a lawyer, he wanted to confess now, someone would get in immediately. He wouldn't mention human sacrifices or mind wipes or spells or fallen powers, he'd just say what they wanted to hear. Well, almost. He'd say he killed his family because he was a psychopath and hadn't told anyone so far. While he was at it, he could throw in something about killing Mario as well, also due to being a psychopath. It would be easy. And whether he'd get a lifetime in jail or a death sentence, it would be just, wouldn't it?

Now the question is, what do you deserve? Don't get up. Daddy is not finished talking.

Except that there is no way they wouldn't use such a confession to go after Harry as well. He's not naive enough anymore to believe otherwise. Someone famous convicted is always more important than some unknown convicted. They'd insist Harry had known. So he can't confess.

Click.

Today. He found them dead today. If it is still today, and not tomorrow. He's not tired, but then again, that doesn't tell him anything about whether it's night or day or whether or not he should sleep. Angel must have felt like that under the sea.

Now the question is, what do you deserve?
abetterlie: (Default)
"It's going to be a year, now, tomorrow," Kathleen said to her partner while they were waiting. "I can't believe it took us so long to get enough to make the arrest. That sick fuck must be so sure he got away with it."

"Temper, Kath," Jim Yoon replied. "Play it cool, remember? A clean arrest. Otherwise we have the bloody media here in no time flat."

No kidding. Still, she had waited for so long, and it had only served to make her more angry. Kathleen had been the one to take over what had been classified as a horrible accident by the original investigators: Colleen, Lawrence and Mere Riley all dying in the fire that consumed their house, probably started by old cables going haywire. Bullshit. Kathleen recognized arson when she saw it, and more careful investigation of the photos made confirmed her theory. There wasn't enough left of the bodies for the pathologist to say whether they had died through violent means before the fire struck, but either way, she knew she had a triple homicide on her hand. It had taken her ages to convince Lt. Yoon, mostly because the obvious suspect, the son, had something of a stellar record: school files describing him as a completely non-violent, helpful kid, neighbours and former classmates who swore he was basically Little Lord Fountleroy, Stanford. Then Kath dug a little deeper, and lo and behold, the picture didn't look quite so pretty anymore. There had been an estrangement during the months before the Rileys died. Some arguments. Not so many visits. He'd lost his place at Stanford. When she found out he had ended up in New York with Harry Osborn in what was obviously a gay relationship, she had a moment of uncertainty, admittedly. Maybe that had been all about some belated coming-out, with spectacular bad timing, and the fire had been set by someone else, some thief who had been surprised by the Rileys and wanted to cover his tracks. She didn't think so, but she made herself investigate other angles as well. She was a good cop.

It had been Yoon, surprisingly, who had brought the investigation back on track. Following a hunch, he had checked out Harry Osborn's record. The usual rich kid crap, and then some. What was important, though, was that Osborn was another fairly recent orphan, inheriting one of America's largest fortune after his father had been found with some ghastly wounds at the Osborn penthouse. No murder had ever been arrested, Harry Osborn was the only witness, and he claimed the vigilante Spider-man had been responsible. Who, of course, never was brought in for questioning. Nobody had ever asked Harry Osborn for an alibi, despite the fact all sources described relations between him and Osborn Senior as strained.

"And they let him get away with that?" Kathleen exclaimed in disgust when Yoon told her. Yoon shrugged, but she saw the anger in his eyes. "Money talks."

After that, the clues dropped in thick and fast. Osborn had a drug record. He and Connor Riley had met some weeks before the Rileys' death, and had been spotted at a New York club taking ecstasy. There was some hushed up business in New York in January during which Osborn had spent time in one of those fancy hospitals designed to give alibis to rich psychos who belonged in jail, and then there was another homicide, a New York restaurant owner, with the Riley kid all but caught with blood on his hand and another hospital stay for the rich boy. Apparently, the duo had thought it wiser to move to Savannah after that one, but the pattern was clear: thrill seekers, a pair of serial killers in the making.

In between, there was a P.I. investigating the case as well, on behalf of some guy in Gotham, and when his client told him to drop it, he showed enough decency to hand over his notes to Kathleen and Jim Yoon. Thus, they had been finally able to find the lacking piece: a witness who had spotted Connor Riley near his parents' house on that day, with a parcel in hand. "I thought it was pizza at the time," said witness defended herself. "And I didn't realize it was that day. But now I've checked, and it was."

As this case involved several states, they had to bring in the FBI as well as the NYPD, but Kathleen and her partner were allowed to make the actual arrest themselves, with two New York cops waiting to take Osborn off their hands. It was clear the two needed to be seperated anyway.

Their waiting was rewarded when Connor Riley and his boyfriend finally showed up walking towards the loft serving as their current address, with the Osborn boy holding a dog's leash in hand. A St. Bernard, Kathleen thought; well, Hitler had loved his German shephard. She waited till they had reached the entrance of the building and had opened the door to go in, which removed them from the crowd, then stepped towards them, presenting herself as Sgt. Fitzgerald and her partner as Lt. Yoon in a calm voice.

"There has been a new lead in your family's deaths, and we need to ask you some questions," she told Connor, still calm and polite. "Would you be willing to come to the local precint to talk about them? We'd be happy to drive you there."

Any cop had to develop a gut feeling. It wasn't infallible, sure, but she didn't even need it in this case. The boy looked at her, his face going very still. He didn't ask her what the hell she was talking about it. He just looked at her. Kathleen was forty-two years old; she had talked with a lot of killers in her time, with innocents, with guilt-ridden people, with amoral freaks, and with debatables. Those eyes did not belong to a confused kid out of his depth. She'd investigated a homicide involving a girl who killed her father once, not in a fight, not spontanously, but calculated, and that girl had shown the same stillness and far too old eyes. Guilty, Kath thought, and forced herself to remain calm and pleasant while the Osborn boy said something about coming with them.

"Absolutely, Mr. Osborn," Jim Yoon said amiably. "We have a car for you as well."

You knew, Kathleen thought, not taking her eyes from Connor Riley. You always knew this would happen. Well, time's up, boyo.

Once she had him on the plane to California, she would start by showing him the photos made of what pitiable remains had been there for the autopsy, a year ago. It was no less than he deserved.
abetterlie: (Default)
You know the thing about memories? You can rewrite them. All the time. So sure, a summer memory. As it should be. So it's summer, 2006, and Lawrence and Colleen Riley celebrate together with their daughter Mere. Mere just finished high school. She's their only child, which means they're a bit over anxious about her, but she managed to persuade them to let her make that cross country road trip with her boyfriend anyway. Her grades are good, save math, because Mere always sucked at math, but who needs math later in life anyway?

They're all sitting around the table, with Colleen's sister come to town to celebrate her niece's graduation, and Mere is on to her second pizza (getting cold, because Mere is talking all the time). Colleen wanted to cook something extra special and couldn't believe Mere wanted pizza instead, but it was her daughter's big day, so, pizza from some Korean with a fake Italian name it was. Lawrence is printing out the pictures of Mere in her robes which he took earlier and she says she'll confiscate them, because she looks so dorky, which isn't true, and Lawrence pretends not to understand a word of her babble anyway. Her boyfriend thinks they're all insane, in a good way.

None of them ever met a single employee of Wolfram and Hart. None of them ever saw a demon. They remember everything just the way it happened, and nobody ever brainwashed them into believing they had another child.

It's a perfect summer's day, and they have many more of those ahead.

That's my summer memory.
abetterlie: (Default)
It's the same dream, over and over again. He's a child in a department store. All the smells, all the colours, everything is new, he just has to look, and suddenly, Mom and Dada and the baby, little Mere, they're all gone. So Connor tries to find them again, but it's no good, there are just walls and walls of boxes and funny smelling fruits and endless masses of strange people. Some of them almost look like those cartoons he watches on tv on Saturday morning, except Connor is big enough to figure out those don't exist. Well, not outside of Disneyland.

He's not too sure about the Blob, though. Mom and Dad and baby Mere could have been eaten by it. Maybe the Blob does exist. He can see it, quite clearly, and the screams that fill the air as he thinks of it are loud enough to bring Mom rushing towards him, and Dad sweeping him up into his arms, safe and sound. And he's happy, so incredibly happy that he found them, or they found him.

But not in the dream. In the dream, he's the wrong child altogether. He's a child who never was in a department store, except that is where he finds himself, tied with something which should be improvised leather strings but somehow is the fishing gear Lawrence Riley will present him with on his tenth birthday. And the wrongness doesn't end there. This altogether wrong child does not scream. He gets rid of the ties, and he remains silent; in fact, everyone else is silent, too. All the many people in the department store, but you don't hear anyone talking. Instead, you hear a woman singing "We're going to the zoo" and playing the piano, and somehow, at a larger distance, the sound of beasts. The child which should not, can not be Connor Riley starts making his way through the store, silent, and there is something in his hand which is altogether wrong as well. A knife made of bones.

There is a huge mountain build of diet coke cans, a pyramid, and it should just smell of tin and metal, sugar and chemicals, but that's not what he smells. No, not at all. So he pushes the cans aside, and there they are, hidden, buried under all the diet coke: Mom, Dad and little Mere. They're cowering, which brings them nearly to his eye level, and he can see the widened pupils, the tiny drops of sweat, can smell them, too. Dad doesn't open his arms, and neither does Mom, and they have no intention of standing up. Instead, they try to rebuild the pyramid again, putting it between them and himself. Baby Mere wimpers.

"Why are you hiding?" Connor asks, and tries to change everything to what he knows it should be, the happy, happy ending, but he's the wrong child, and the knife of bones is still in his hand. He looks down on it, wishing it to go away, and that is when he notices the blood, which is wrong, because he always cleans his weapons. He's been taught to, hasn't he?

"We're hiding from you, Connor," his father says, and the wounds on his chest are wrong as well, as is the blood pouring out of a cut of Mom's throat and Mere's hands. "We're hiding from you."
abetterlie: (Default)
Define "strong". I guess it's true in one sense, the way my father used to believe it. You've got to learn fast in a hell dimension, or you die, when you're lucky, or you're kept alive for some time as something's food supply or toy. There's no time to coddle a child or fool around or anything like that. If he had raised me that way, well, he wouldn't have raised me at all. There wouldn't be even bones left.

So he did what he had to. You don't make a child understand just by saying "don't". And if you're surrounded by monsters, you have to make it clear you're every bit as tough as they are.

The thing is, this completely worked in the sense that I made it out of Quortoth alive, and that I'm good at fighting till this day. But I don't know about strong. I mean, let's face it, strong people don't go to pieces and go crazy and try to kill themselves and blow malls with people up while they're at it. Strong people find a way to keep their child alive somehow. Angel did it for me, and I couldn't do it for Jasmine, I couldn't find a way to help her with the pain she was in except to kill her. Strong people don't have violence as their drug of choice, full stop.

So no. It didn't make me strong in that sense. Perhaps it was the basic material, but sometimes it just makes you completely fucked up.

But on the other hand, the next time I lost family and was in a pretty bad place, I didn't go for a repeat performance. Which was partly because by then, I had memories of making my parents believe I still believed in the Easter Bunny so they'd keep on hiding chocolate eggs at Easter, of learning to swim in an ocean that nobody ever dumped anyone into, and of getting into a shell collecting competition with Mere. I don't care whether they're fake, they're real to me. And partly because I had got it into my thick head by then there were still other people around who needed me. And whom I needed. So if that means I had gotten a bit stronger, it wasn't because of stuff that almost killed me. It was because of having had the chance to be weak.
abetterlie: (Default)
The last time Connor had spent alone with his mother had been a rather uncomfortable Christmas chat. The truth was he never quite knew how to handle her. Angel, he got, whether he was angry at him or not, but he never knew what Darla was thinking, and was secretely convinced she knew what he was thinking all the time.

But when Angel, who had been his anal-retentive self about the schedule he had made, reached the "alone time with Kara" point, Connor was actually glad to take the opportunity, and for several reasons. He had successfully managed to keep the New York Times society page away from Kara and his parents, though it had taken hunting down every single copy of the dammed paper in the Pyramid hotel and tearing said page out to do so. Which had been quite cathartic, in its way. But it still left him ashamed he hadn't handled the news better, and determined to somehow find a make to make it up to Harry. Atonment, they said, happened through suffering. Though the reconstructed and on occasion slightly schizophrenic person Connor was thought suffering should not be pointless and result in something Harry would actually enjoy. These deliberations led him to one inevitable result: shopping for clothes, which he really, really, hated to do. Finding something which Harry would enjoy wearing was difficult when you considered fashion brands strange aliens from another planet. Hence the urgent need of maternal advice. Darla might have been the bloodthirsty nightmare of centuries, but even Holtz had always described her as elegant.

"Don't tell Angel and Kara, though," he implored while they headed off to the next boutique. "I mean," he said, embarassed, when she regarded him with a raised eyebrow, as if to ask what kind of fool did he believe she was, "we have to find something to tell Angel and Kara about where we were."

"No, dear boy, we don't," Darla said wryly. "Angel thinks we're off to watch the Chippendales."

By now, thanks to a lot of posters, Connor had actually figured out the Chippendales had nothing to do with furniture and stared, then was unable to prevent himself from using a Kara term.

"Gross!"

Not strippers per se, though really, Harry always excepted, the idea of guys stripping did nothing for him. But going to a strip bar, no matter who stripped, with one of his parents in tow was just wrong.

"Don't worry," Darla said amused. "I wouldn't dream of wasting the boys on you."

Yes. Atonment was suffering.

Darla suggested the Venetian, which would offer the opportunity for a gondala ride while visiting the shops there. He had never been in Venice, or Italy in general; that brief time in Rome, courtesy of being abducted for an insane ritual, didn't really count. For a moment, while helping his mother in the gondala, he remembered the sight of her in Galway, a ghost from the past made flesh, similar and yet different. But she looks at him, and her smile is a human smile, eyes crinkling with what soon will remain signs of age, and for another moment, he loves her without being ashamed of it.

"So," Darla says, while they sit in the gondola, gliding on a canal between art galleries, restaurants, apparel and jewelry shops, "first you ask your father to torment you and now it's my turn. There are easier ways to handle your love life and deal with those jealousy issues, you know."

So Angel had told her about Wednesday. Well, he would. Connor bites his lip and avoides looking into her eyes which are identical to his own. At least she doesn't know about this morning, and the papers.

"It's not about that. Not only about that. I need to take out..."

"One Tony Chilton," Darla interrupts, and her voice, usually soft and whispery, sounds rather steely. "Yes, so I gathered. And I have no doubt that you will."

This was actually encouraging.

"And what then? When the next enemy comes along? Because there always will be one. You don't always get consultation time. You certainly don't the next time Hal decides to branch out his social circle, because really, darling boy, be a little realistic and a little grateful. If you two were stuck with only each other and no one else, it wouldn't be an idyll. It would be the final five minutes of Dead Ringers, and trust me, you wouldn't pull it off as well as Jeremy."

"I already know I screwed up," he says in frustration. "Tell me something new."

Darla signals for a halt, and they exit the gondola near a shop called "Lior's".

"You'll never have an entirely peaceful relationship, not with him, not with anyone," she says. "You're your father's son. But here's the new part, because apparantly someone has to spell it out for you. You'll always be able to make him want you more than anyone else, no matter how much a shining hero the someone else is to him. Because you're my son as well." She looks at him, entirely serious. "We may never get the Madonna position in their lives, Connor. But trust me, we're the one ones they bloody well can't do without. Now let's go shopping."

Three hours of severe atonment later, during which Connor stumbled across the strange fact he had not the slightest idea what Harry's size was but that his mother didn't even hesitate to make a guess, he found himself carrying bags David and Goliath and Banana Republic in addition to Lior's, filled with what Darla had declared to be Harry-suitable casual wear for the summer. He desperately hoped she was right and figured he'd have to get rid of the bags and boxes and hide the actual shirt and trousers in his duffel before Angel and Kara returned to the hotel. He also hoped that he'd make it through the next six months or so with complete serenity, taking everything in stride, never making a single mistake in his reactions to anyone in Harry's life, because Darla had shamelessy exploited the opportunity to blackmail him into trying out some items for himself as well. It was difficult enough to distract Harry from doing that all the time, without giving his mother the opportunity to join the act.

Between carrying bag and storing them in various gondolas, between waiting in shoe stores while Darla tried on new shoes and staring at the children's toys section in a speciality shop, wondering whatever became of those legos Harry had given to Emily, he did have another idea. They were sitting in their final gondola when he cleared his throat, pulled something out of one of the bags and handed it over to Darla.

"And what's that?" she asked, sounding surprised for first time.

"A thank you," he said, blushing. He had thought about it. What would be suitable. Jewelry would probably be too much, and besides, his budget was pretty much blown apart by this trip, and he really didn't want to ask Harry for money. And he didn't want to just say thank you, he also wanted to make her smile and show her he got it, at least some of what she had meant about herself and him. So, thinking about certain recent journal entries made by Angel and ramblings made by Kara, he came up with what was hopefully just the right symbol.

The small package he handed over to Darla, beautifully wrapped up, contained a chinese laque box, and in the box, filled to the maximum, tea.
abetterlie: (Default)
Playing happy family was exhausting as hell. It also led to weirdness, because Connor kept forgetting he was just pretending, was having fun for half an hour or so, and then was hit by a memory. Not, surprisingly, that often by a memory of Angel, or anything that actually had happened. The memories of what hadn't were the ones who flickered into his consciousness, and sometimes he nearly used the wrong names. Which wasn't the weirdest hing. That was when he actually did try to remember and at one point saw Kara, not Mere, at age 9 in the circus, talking about the elephants. But Kara didn't like the circus, and he had not known her at age 9, and he wondered whether he might lose his grip on reality altogether.

After magic shows and roller coaster rides were over and done with, he found out he was supposed to stay in one room with Angel while Darla shared one with Kara, and fled to the hotel business center to catch up with his email. There was one from Chilton, and Connor decided to call Harry, lateness of the hour or not, just to make sure he was okay. He didn't want to do so from the business center; it would be just his luck to have either of his parents show up there just when he started to talk. So he left the hotel again, reasonably sure he wasn't followed. He had just taken his cell phone out when a limousine stopped next to him. Slowly, he put down his cell phone. He hadn't come unarmed; there was a stake in his other pocket, and another bound around his ankle, hidden by the baggy trousers he wore.

Except that nobody left the limousine. Instead, the window went down. Tony Chilton sat in the back, as Connor had more or less expected when the car had stopped; what he hadn't expected was the young woman next to Chilton, eyes clazed over, obviously drugged, and smelling utterly, completely human. Chilton's hand kept circling her neck.

"Get in," the vampire said. "Passenger's seat."

He could do the human thing and cry for help. He could try to dive through the backside window that had just opened so Chilton could talk to him. But there was no way he could reach the young woman before Chilton broke her neck. Such a fragile thing, human bones. So very, very fragile.

You have a choice, his mother said in his memory, and her bloodstained face looked at him from the body of a terrified young girl.

Connor got in the car, passenger's seat. The Fyarl was driving.

"So," Chilton said, a low, baritone voice from the back while one could hear the sleep-addled breathing of the girl, "you suddenly had a change of heart and decided to trade in the Osborn kid before he trades you in? I'm wounded. I thought I had left the impression of being an intelligent man, and that ploy is really transparent. Though as covers go, playing family with that old has-been and his squeezes is at least somewhat imaginative."

"You're not a man," Connor said while the car sped up, trying to figure out how to provoke Chilton into leaning forward and taking his hands of the girl's neck. "You're just something that should have died a long time ago. And apparantly sucks as a demon as well, if you can't find minions in a less complicated way."

"Well," Chilton said, sounding amused, "there is complicated and there's interesting. You know, originally I thought you were just from one of the demon species who can pass as humans, but that's not what your blood smells like. Tell me, just how many vampires already had you?"

The Fyarl just kept driving. He didn't look at Connor at all. If he jumped him, he could get behind the wheel, but that still would give Chilton enough to time to kill the girl. No, he couldn't risk it. Better to go for the provocation attempt.

"Doesn't matter. That's another thing you'll leave behind when you stop playing human. All those pretensions to guilt."

"I thought you didn't want to turn me," Connor said.

"I don't," Chilton replied, matter-of-factly. "As you are right now, you have no problems with daylight, which is useful. Besides, you're one of us already, aren't you... and then there is something which every businessman knows, even such lousy specimen as your poor little rich boy in Manhattan."

"And what is that?" asked Connor, making himself turn around. Chilton still had his hand on the back of the girl's neck.

"Never try to change the act of a first class whore," Chilton replied with a thin smile. Connor said nothing at all. Tony Chilton's smile deepenend.

"You know that this is what you are to him, don't you? You're responsible for the instant gratification. That's all he wants, nothing else. The high-minded conversations take place in Gotham these days. Now, I'm the last person not to be thankful for trained personell. Tell you what - I'll tell you to kill the industrious Mr. Wayne as a first order, and I'll even reward you with a saved damsel in return. That's what you want most, isn't it? The permission to kill and to tell yourself you have no other choice. Not free choice. The freedom from choice."

Connor stared at him. Then his lips moved.

"I didn't quite catch that, Mr. Riley. My hearing must be in decline."

"Yes," Connor whispered. "That is what I want."

Lazily, Chilton extended his right arm to let his hand touch Connor's cheek.

"Now that can be..."

It wasn't a cunning move. It wasn't a long-practiced throw with axe or stake, it wasn't anything Connor had learned from either of his fathers. No Watcher ever would have considered teaching this tactic. It was, however, a move he had observed quite recently, patented and practiced by one Kara Marie Keating.

Connor slightly turned his head and bit.

Chilton was easily as startled and completely surprised as Angel had been and reacted by an outraged yell, as well as an instinctive drawing back of both arms. This momentarily freed the girl from his touch and gave Connor the opportunity to get in the backseat between them. The Fyarl snarled but apparantly didn't quite know whether to stop the car without getting orders. Connor grabbed the girl, kicked the door open and jumped out with her, trying to make sure his body shielded her from the road.

Landing on tar ejected from a car that was driving at 70 mph was a bitch, superpowers or not. So was trying to make sure one didn't get run over by the next cars. Las Vegas showed no signs of being less populated at 1 am than it had been at 10. But once Connor had made it to the roadside, that came in handy. So many people were shouting and yelling at him, including the driver of the next car, that there was no way Chilton would have escaped public attention if he had come after him and the girl now. Out of the corner of his eyes Connor could see the limo slowing, then speeding up again.

The shock of hitting the road had at least woken up the drugged girl, who had started to cry. He held her and realized he didn't even know her name.

If...

Jun. 30th, 2006 10:15 pm
abetterlie: (Default)
“If I told you I just found out I was adopted,” he asks his little sister, “a few weeks ago, what would you say?”

Mere is fourteen and thinks she knows everything. He is nineteen and is none too sure about that fact, either.

“Connor, you self-important freak,” she says, “you’re not adopted. Mom has all those obnoxious photos of you as a baby. Way more than she has of me. Which is so unfair. No way you’re adopted.”

In her hands, she holds the waffle with icecream he just bought her. She grins at him, sure he’s come up with a new way to tease her. It’s the same grin she had as a toothless baby, only he has never seen her then. He has never met her until about nine months ago.

It’s impossible.

“No way,” he repeats, and grins back.

“Wow, you had me going there for a moment,” she says, and after gulfing down some more of her scrawberry-flavoured icecream, confesses: “You’re getting better. So that’s what this Stanford thing is good for. You’re totally motivating me to go to college, Connor.”

“Nah, you’re too smart for college already,” he shoots back, and by the time he is on his way back to Stanford, he knows two things: she has successfully made him loan her fifty dollars for A Very Important Very Secret Don’t Tell Mom And Dad thing, and he’ll never ask her again. This is his world now, Mere and Mom and Dad and Stanford. His one girlfriend was Tracy who dumped him which he’s till sore about somewhat, but Tracy is dating some football-playing math genius now and safe and sound, and not in a coma or in a grave. He never breathed in the dust of a vampire after staking it. He never killed anyone.

He never had a daughter.

He’s just a boy.

Everything else is a dream. This is his world, and he wants to keep it.

The next day, Angel drops by for coffee, and the world ends.
abetterlie: (Default)
As plans go, his was a simple one. After Connor had helped Peter clean out Griffin's lab for anything that could be useful in regards to Harry, he intended to go back to the penthouse, drop his weapons there, take a shower, drive to Silver Hills looking presentable (as opposed to having Griffin's blood and eye fluids all over him), get Harry released, bring him back to the penthouse, and then sleep. Connor couldn't remember when he had slept the last time. He knew that their worries were far from over, that worst actually might not have happened yet; after all, Griffin had taunted him with the fact he had given Harry doses of the original green goo, not from the safer modified versions Peter had produced. But superpowers or not, Connor had his limits, and he needed to rest in order to be of any use to anyone. Now that the Goblin was dead and couldn't damage Harry or anyone else even further, he could allow himself to. After getting Harry out of Silver Hills. No way Harry was going to stay there a minute longer.

Unfortunately, his very simple plan started to unravel at the "get back to the penthouse" stage already when he was greeted by none other than his parents, who looked exhausted and livid enough to have been up and about the entire night as well. He had expected Angel to come to New York sooner or later, but not that soon. Darla he had not expected at all, and knew he should have. So much for any more attempts to downplay or hide what was going on. At least with the Goblin identified as someone other than Harry and dead, he didn't have to go through the entire insistence on Harry's innocence with them, and didn't have to put Angel on the list of people he was afraid would want to harm Harry. Darla said "you idiot" and hugged him fiercely; Connor was too drained not to hug her back. Dimly, he remembered the first time he had harmed a human being after the mindwipe. It had happened in her presence, and he had been horrified and shocked by the ease of it, and by the fact he had been sure, then, that she was really his mother. This night, the sole reason why he hadn't killed another human was that the guy had died through his own poison, and Connor had taken great satisfaction in hurting him before that happened.

There was something crazy and right at the same time in being with his parents after that.

The next unexpected thing that happened was that Angel told him they had been looking for Kara as well as for Connor. Now Kara had said she wanted to come to New York, but she had also said she would call Connor once she had arrived, and she had not done so. At this point, Connor thought of actually checking his cell phone and noticed he had forgotten to switch it back on after turning it off during his secret Thursday night visit to Silver Hills. After some arguments about what should come first, freeing Harry or looking for Kara - which now that the sun was up Angel was no longer in a position to do - Darla suggested that as Kara had come to New York to visit Harry to begin with, she would contact him sooner or later, and would be more likely to respond to a phone call from him than she would to one from any of them. Harry, Darla said, had claimed Kara had been there some time on Friday already, but hadn't exactly been in a condition to be sure. This brought the image of Harry full of tranquilizers and in that place again back full force to Connor, and he insisted on leaving to get him out, immediately.

Which was when Angel with surprising worldliness pointed out that no doctor worth his title would release a patient who had only checked in a few days earlier with obvious problems, and that Connor better use that new power of attorney Harry had given him to make a sizable donation to Silver Hills in order to make the release worth the staff's while. Obviously, that year as CEO of Wolfram and Hart still had aftereffects. Not that one could say he was wrong.

Harry's cheque book in hand, Connor drove off to Silver Hills and for one of the few times in his life followed his father's advice. By the time money had won over conscience, he found it increasingly difficult not to check himself in instead. Then he saw Harry again, and the sheer relief Harry was lucid, not in a stage of decomposition and about to return with him cut through the numbness and exhaustion, enough to make him smile for the first time since the entire madness started.

The temptation to do what they had done on Tuesday night and go to a hotel in order to have some quiet hours alone before facing the next step was nearly overwhelming, but there was the Kara situation, and Connor couldn't bring himself to lie about this. Kara needed to know the good news, she needed to be found, and maybe they'd even manage to get through a big scale family reunion without any more bloodshed. So the only thing Connor didn't tell Harry when explaining all was that Griffin had slipped him doses of the original formula.That, and its implication, really could wait.

The "driving back to the penthouse" part of the plan unravelled as much as everything else, though. For starters, Connor had planned to drive, and secondly, he had wanted to treasure every moment. But somewhere between the Silver Hills main building and the parking lot Harry told him he looked ready to pass out, and suggested to drive instead. Letting someone fresh out of medical care behind the wheel sounded surprisingly rational at this point. He got into the passenger seat, leaned his head back and tried out various things to say, such as "I'm sorry I didn't figure out it was him sooner" or "don't worry about my parents, I think they really just want to collect Kara and go home" or "you know, I had this crazy idea about asking Kara to... no, forget it", or "don't be surprised if Peter thinks I'm nuts now, and you know, getting tasered really is a bitch". Or just maybe "I love you". But somehow none of this made it beyond the fragmentary thoughts stage.

He was asleep before Harry took the first exit to New York.

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July 2010

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