abetterlie: (Innocence Drowned by Marciaelena)
Scars, right.

Due to the whole fast healing factor, I only have two which are pretty much invisible unless you know where to look, and I really don't want to talk about dying in the mall again, or about something pretty personal that isn't anyone's business.

In a way I guess super healing is one big cheat, and also really dangerous because sometimes you forget how fragile everyone else is. Sometimes I think people like me who don't have scars of our own, or nearly none, are like big lightning rods, channelling the wounds into everyone else instead. Jasmine could do that, only the other way around - she could take everyone else's wounds into herself and heal them. Maybe that's just the most extreme form of what we do to people. Everyone else gets scarred instead. When I was a child, I figured that was how it worked because my father didn't heal the way I did, and he kept aging - I thought he did it for me. One day I had to burn one of his wounds out with fire - it would have poisoned his flesh otherwise - and that was just a week after my arm got broken when we were hunting, but my arm had been fine for days. His wound - on his left leg - didn't heal until we did the cutting it open and burn it, and even then it took ages. When I saw the scar I thought it was mine. No, not in a "I feel guilty" way; I thought it was proof his trust in me was validated, that I could deal when something like that happened to him, and that in return him saving me, I had saved him. So what I actually felt was pride.

My father never gave me all the details on how we came to be together, just that it had been God's will, and one of Angelus' allies had somehow been instrumental in it. I got bits and pieces of the story later, from Justine, from Fred and Gunn. By the time I met Wesley, I knew it had been him, and that he had thought he was saving me from a prophecy (that's what Fred had said; Gunn had said something else, but he was pissed off at me at the time). We didn't exactly talk much - actually, we never talked at all in those months in the Hyperion - but I remember that I saw the scar on his neck and thought that he had gotten it because of me. And again, I didn't feel guilty: I thought that what happened to Wesley would somehow had been the payment that allowed my father and me being together, which made sense, because you always have to pay somehow. My father used to talk a lot about Abraham when he taught me the bible, back in Quortoth; I thought of how God had tested Abraham, had told Abraham to kill his son Isaac, slit his throat, and at the last moment, he had exchanged Isaac for a ram.

I remember thinking that Isaac and the ram must have felt pretty much the same way about God and Abraham both after that, and that I was immediately ashamed of the thought. So I pushed it away and avoided Wesley when I could afterwards.

There were only two times when that didn't work. One was when everyone tried to turn me against Jasmine. Nobody told me - which was pretty much the rule that year - but what made other people not love Jasmine anymore was getting in contact with her blood, or Cordy's. Like I said, nobody told me; instead, Angel just held me and Wesley took a knife and cut my chest so they could smear Cordy's blood in it. I had no idea what was going on, and not just because loving Jasmine for me was about her being my daughter, not about some kind of spell; they didn't explain what they were trying. So what I thought, at that moment, was that I had gotten the whole Isaac and ram comparison all mixed up; or maybe I hadn't, but what nobody told me was that Isaac and the ram could exchange roles if God wanted them to.

The other time wasn't that much later, when everything was breaking down, I could feel it was, but I tried to stop it after Jasmine had healed me, I tried to capture everyone and bring them back. Except that "capture" wasn't all I tried. When I had caught up with them, everyone except Angel, I took the sword I had and looked at Wesley, who was kneeling. We were in the tunners, under ground, but I cold see the scar at his throat far better than at any point in the past.

I remember thinking that it was my scar, that he had gotten it because of me, but somehow God hadn't wanted either of us, so maybe I should just bring it to an end, and maybe then the story would finally work out. So I raised the sword. And the story did work out. Because in the story, the voice of God finally intervened.

Jasmine's voice stopped me.
abetterlie: (Default)
Wow. Is that supposed to be a trick question? I mean, define "biggest", "mistake" and "relationship". "Big" as in had bad results for the relationship? The other person in the relationship? Me? The rest of the world? And mistake as in "wrong informed decision" or the "if I only had known..." kind or whatever? Is "relationship" a romance only thing or not?

I'm going with not, I guess. And I don't know about biggest, but it definitely was the worst. I think. See, I'll never know what other people saw when they looked at Jasmine. Except that whatever it was, it couldn't have been what she looked like to me, because when they didn't see it anymore, they freaked out and hated her. And she knew that would happen.

But what she didn't know was that I had seen it all the time. She tried to keep it a secret from me, too; that's why she didn't tell me why she had to hide Cordelia, or how Fred had managed to infect change Angel. She must have believed I would hate her too, that she needed her power with me, and she never did. She was my daughter.

So - if I had told her. I mean, it took me a while to figure it out, that the way I loved her wasn't the way everyone else loved her, and that they saw something different, when they looked at her, but I did figure it out. I didn't tell her. Really, I didn't want to be different from anyone else around her. I wanted to be part of all that, that perfect peace and happiness everyone else was feeling, and I thought if I faked it long enough, I would be. I'd have done anything to make it true.

Here's what I should have done instead. I should have shown her that I didn't love her because I had to, that I could make my own decisions no matter what she said, but that this had nothing to do with not loving her. She only knew those two states, you see. Either people worshipped her, or they hated her and turned against her, like Fred had done the moment she got in touch with Jasmine's blood.

When she sent me to capture Fred, Angel, Wesley and Gunn. That's when I should have done it. I should have said: No. Let them go. And let us go, you and me. Let's leave Los Angeles together, we can change the world much better if we travel through it, much better than if you rule it, and I'll be there for you. You don't have to -

Anyway. Perhaps it wouldn't have worked. She was a Power that Was long before she became my daughter. Perhaps worship was the only form of love she could have understood, and the whole free will thing wouldn't have mattered to her. But the point is, I should have tried. And I didn't.

Instead, I lied to her and everyone else until it was too late.

Night

Feb. 13th, 2007 09:07 pm
abetterlie: (Default)
You know what's weird? We didn't really have those in Quortoth. I mean, obviously we had periods of greater and lesser darkness. But it wasn't as distinct as it's here; more like those white nights in Alaska or Sweden are supposed to be. Only they weren't white but red, in various shades.

Anyway, when I first came here, that what struck me most about this dimension. Those sharp differences. Day. Night. And the very different colors, so sharp and distinct, during daylight. I could handle night better, because it was closer to what I was familiar with, but I loved daylight. It was sort of one of Father's stories come true, one of the good ones. Even after I had adjusted, day was better, and then, wouldn't you know, the sun disappeared entirely. For weeks and weeks and weeks.

In the other memories, Mere and I thought a long term eclipse was the coolest thing ever, but my parents thought even Santa Barbara was too close and took us for a two months vacation to Oregon.

Lorne said it turned Los Angeles into the devil's oyster. I'd have said it turned Los Angeles into vampire central, candy for all, but whatever. So, vampires from all over the country showed up, and you'd think that would kind of attract attention and keep the humans from coming as well, but no. Lots of end-of-days pilgrims, oh, and albinos from everywhere, too. And that was when Angel and everyone else decided the solution to dealing with the Beast who had made the sun disappear was to get rid of Angel's soul and make him Angelus again. So: Angelus in the basement and then at large, everyone else in the Hyperion busy with the Beast and Angelus, vampires everywhere, eternal night. I didn't sleep much during that time. I was out staking vampires as much as I could, because hey, someone had to, plus being the Hyperion meant everyone staring at me because they had just found out about me and Cordy.

But here's the thing: I should have hated it, all of it, and I didn't. I guess because in a way it finally felt like something I recognized. I wasn't homesick for Quortoth - I mean, I know everyone thinks I was crazy back then, and maybe I was a bit, but I wasn't that crazy - but you know, a place where most other creatures were out to kill you and you had to kill them first, and there was no light around to make you stop and wonder and look around? Yeah, that I could deal with. What I couldn't deal with was all the other stuff, even though I wanted it: family, most of all.

*locked*

When I told him he was my true father, in the basement. That was the same thing.

*unlocked*

Wesley brought in Faith, Faith chewed me out and took on Angelus and was generally awesome, and the Beast got slain. I didn't see that, I was back at the Hyperion, but everyone knew when it happened, because the sun came back. It was like seeing it for the first time, also outside the Hyperion. Beautiful. That's what I had forgotten, I thought, that nights did end here, no matter how long they take. That this place wasn't a hell dimension. All the sharp colors were back, and the differences, and I was excited and happy and maybe slightly freaked out, too, because now it was back to being the place where I didn't truly belong. So I ran to tell Cordelia.

"God, I'm sick of Oregon," Mom says in the other memories. "Including the smell of the damm trees. Let's go home."

She told me she was pregnant then. Which was better and scarier than anything that happened to me before. I love sunrise, better than any other time of day. Because it always brings back that moment. The long night ending, being mostly happy about that and somewhat ashamed because not all of me was, and then finding out, in that first returned light, that we had a child.

It was night when she died, Jasmine. I don't know what else it could have been.
abetterlie: (Default)
If you had asked me that back when I was Stephen and had just arrived in this world, I'd kept it pretty simple: get rid of all the demons. That's how I saw things then. Of course the only two humans I knew while growing up were my father and myself, and I had figured out by then that if I was spawned by demons, I couldn't be really human myself, not the way my father was, no matter how much I wanted to be. But he was, and he was good, and demons were things that tried to kill us on a regular basis, so, yeah.

Then I got here, and the first humans I met, other than Angel's friends whom I ran away from, were some guys about to beat up a girl, and a day later I met Cordelia for the first time, and she was half-demon. And Lorne. Anyway, you could say I got a crash course in things being more difficult in this dimension.

If you had asked me that when I was mindwiped, a year later, and being Normal And Happy Connor, I'd have said I wanted to change the fact that networks always cancelled the cool series and put stupid game shows on instead. Something like that. I mean, if I had thought about it I would have gone for some serious reply about wishing poverty or war away, but first I'd have brought up the tv thing, because I'd have still been pissed off they cancelled Farscape.

(Now I wonder whether Cyvus Veil liked that show when he made my Connor Riley memories, or whether that came from someone else. Maybe Wolfram and Hart owns a share of Jim Henson's company?)

Now? Well, I was in a couple of organizations back at NYU because I think some things need change, and some society rules I just don't get and I still do what I was raised to if it's necessary, but I can't wish all demons away. Or all human killers, for that matter. And not just because I belong in the club, either way.

But here's one aspect I so would change. No, not the tv stuff, though seriously, what is Sci Fi thinking, switching BSG to Sunday night? That totally ruins my patrol and job schedule. It's the beauty thing people have when they look at other people. Or maybe I should call it the ugliness thing. What I mean is: there once was this person. And okay, she did some terrible things, but the point is, she also managed to make things better for a while. If you were in Los Angeles at the time, you know what I mean. Go on. Tell me it wasn't amazing. No one was hating anyone else and there was peace. Joy. The whole enchilada they use to describe paradise, and it was there, for a brief while. And everyone claimed to love the one who had made that possible. But when they saw her without whatever made her look beautiful to them before, when they saw how she looked like, they turned against her. Sure, yes, like I said, she had done some terrible things, but they didn't know that, did they? Nobody knew except for five people. All everyone else knew was the good she had done, that she had given them paradise for a while. And they still hated her and went right back to hating each other the way they had done before. Just because they saw her as ugly.

And maybe if that had not happened, she could have

So that is what I would change, if I could. People giving and taking their love away from someone just because of the way they look.

But the only one who could have made such a change come true for everyone is her, and she is gone.
abetterlie: (Default)
He had not been alone with her very often; come to think of it, only once, when she told him to stop feeling unworthy, that all his evil deeds were forgiven, that he was her champion. All the other times, all the others were with her. Connor was okay with that, more than okay: they finally were a real family. No one was fighting anyone else. He could look at Fred without seeing the memory of tazers and three months turning to ashes in her eyes, at Gunn without hearing the accusation of being in league with the beast, at Wesley without wondering the forbidden thing: what would have happened if Wesley had not been God's instrument in delivering him to his father. Most of all, he could allow himself to love Angel without feeling the shame of it fueling the rage inside. Jasmine made all that possible with her presence.

All the same, when he walked past the suite Lorne had filled with flowers and spotted her alone, he couldn't help but feel a pang of - something. He stopped walking, at any rate, and hoped she would call him in, which she did.

She was so different from what he had expected. No baby, for starters, but that made sense; she would not be able to help anyone else for years to come if she had allowed herself to be born as a baby. But in those few weeks he had known about Cordelia's pregnancy, he had been so scared and filled with joy at the same time, imagining what he would do for the baby, and now he could do none of those things. It made him feel oddly useless, unless he was fighting for her, cleaning the earth from evil.

"There is something you could do for me, Connor," Jasmine said. He didn't know whether she had read his thoughts or just guessed, and that didn't matter. His face lit up.

"Anything," he said. She laughed. Her low, musical voice was so different from anyone else's, and suddenly he didn't wonder what a baby's gurgles would have sounded like; it could not have been more beautiful.

"Nothing as encompassing as that. But there are so many things I want to experience, now that I am among you in body as well as spirit. And I will. There is one thing in particular I always wanted to try."

She switched on the cd player Lorne had given her, and he recognized the tune because Lorne had hummed it quite often. Something from some guy named Sinatra.

"Dance with me, Connor," she said.

He felt ashamed again. "I can't," he said, face burning. "I mean, I watched people in clubs and stuff, and Fred and Gunn, but I - well, I didn't learn it, so - I'm sorry. I'll call Lorne or Gunn, they - "

Jasmine came to him and cupped his chin in her hands.

"They aren't my father," she said. "You are. And I want my father to teach me how to dance."

The warmth of her fingers burned a little, like always when she touched him, and it seemed to spread in him, sweeping his embarassment and sense of inadequacy away. What harm was there in trying? He had observed the others, and it couldn't be more difficult than learning new fight moves. Rhythm and balance. He could do it.

So Connor put his arms around her, closed his eyes, just for a short moment, and concentrated. Then he stepped sidewards, forwards, backwards, following the song about strangers in the night, and she followed suite with the perfection and grace she did everything. When he made a mistake and stepped on her toes, she laughed. With anyone else, and in earlier times he would have assumed she was laughing about him; at this moment, he understand she was laughing with him, because he joined her, and soon they were back making small steps and swaying gently to the sounds coming out of Lorne's treasured loudspeakers.

"I knew you could do it," Jasmine said. Connor didn't reply anything, focusing on the movement. He knew it would end soon, and there would be work to do. The others would come back, claiming their share of the wonder that was her. He'd check on Cordy, who would still be sleeping, unable to wake up until earth had become truly paradise, so Jasmine said, and then he'd go to sleep, dreaming of dead fathers fallen into ashes and whiteclad girls splattered with blood, because his dreams, rebellious to the last, did not seem to understand what she told him: that the past was over and done with and only she was the future.

Right now, he could believe it. Right here, right now, doing nothing but teaching his daughter how to dance.
abetterlie: (Default)
Moving to Savannah was a great idea, all in all, but it's still new territory, and I don't know the streets, plus I have no idea who the local bigwigs in the supernatural world are. I mean, I met a few vampires whom I staked, but just the usual type. Anyway, this makes things difficult when you try to find an Oracle.

Finding Cordy and helping her still feels a bit unreal. I'm so happy she's still alive; and then I also want to hurt Wolfram and Hart, badly, for doing this to her. But most of all, like I told Harry, I can't stop thinking about the child. Last night I dreamt of Quortoth again. That hasn't happened in a while. Only I wasn't me, I was Father. And there was Emily, and I bound her to a tree, and she cried with Jasmine's voice, and I told her it was for her own good and then when I looked back at her it wasn't Emily or Jasmine, it was a baby I had never seen, and I knew it was Cordy's.

So I have to find out. Whether the baby is alive, and what they did with her. Harry gave me the tip with the tarot reader, so that was where I started today, at the occult shop down in the square. Cue lots of touristy stuff but also some things I think Wesley had back at the Hyperion, and I remembered all the rituals, and how I always hated magic. Lots of incense, too. The smell nearly made me sick.

I asked for the tarot reader, who was a Mrs. Dupont, big woman, around fifty, and she took one look and said she wouldn't read the cards for me.

"You shouldn't exist," she said. "You know that, right? It's bad luck, touching the destiny of someone who shouldn't exist. Something. Something made of dead things, which should be dead. Unnatural."

I said I didn't want to know my future, I needed to find an Oracle. "Not just a seer. An Oracle who speaks for the Powers," I said, and felt stupid, plus I was sure she'd think I was just a tourist looking for some mumbo jumbo. At least she probably wasn't a fake. Given what she said to me. Or she had made a really good guess.

"Ah, but there aren't many Oracles left," she said. "There is a war, don't you know. They want something from me if I dare to contact them. Why should I give anything, hmmmm? What would you give me?"

Figures, I thought, Harry was right, and offered half of the cash I still had, because I thought I'd need the other half for the Oracle. If the Oracle was anything like the last one, that is. Mrs. Dupont snorted.

"You're not serious," she said.

"I get get more," I said, though I hate asking Harry for money. But it was about the baby, and that's more important.

"That, dear boy," she replied, and I got chills when she called me that, "is not what I meant. No, my sweet. What can you give me that matters? Let's see. How about a strand of hair from your beloved? A piece of skin from your father? Some drops of your blood?"

"No," I said without thinking. Which wasn't just because of magic, though I figure if she's the genuine article and a witch she could do some spells with that kind of thing. No, I just remembered what the lawyers did with my blood last time they got their hands on it, and I'll never forget that creep Griffin and what he did to Harry. And how he framed him for his own murders. Maybe I've watched too much tv, but I can just imagine some genetic samples turning up somewhere. For all I know, Mrs. Dupont is a W&H mole.

Or she could be my only way to contact an Oracle.

"Well, well, well," she said. "Tight, are we? I'm on a budget, too, honey."

"Isn't there anything else..." I said, and in the back of my mind, I heard my father - guess which one? - tell me I shouldn't waste any more time. I was stronger than her. I could grab her and break her fingers, for starters, until she called an Oracle for me, and no one could stop me.

The incense felt even more sickening. I could hear the girl crying again, the one in white who had Darla's face in the end when I dragged her to her death, and I remember all the times those people went to Jasmine's suite in the Hyperion, so happy she had chosen them.

She looked me up and down. "How are you at lifting weights?" she asked suddenly. Which was the weirdest thing, but it stopped me from thinking about broken fingers and how fragile and easy human beings are, and I said I was good. Then she asked me to carry some boxes for her to prove it, which I did.

"We need someone in the store who can handle the heavy stuff," she said. After all the you-are-unnatural declarations earlier, this was so, well, normal that I was just stunned and stuttered.

"You - you want me to work for you? In a - a magic shop?"

"Pretty, strong and dumb," she said. "Sounds like a bargain to me. Work here for seven weeks, dearest, don't ask me to read the cards for you or help you in any other way, and don't bring destruction here, and I'll call you an Oracle. I promise."

And then she laughed. "Of course, you'll have to trust me. I could be lying to get a shop boy for free. Am I, hmmm?"

I still hate magic, I thought, and the smell here makes me sick even when it's just ten minutes I'm here, plus how would I know if anyone lies to me about something important? Usually I want to believe them so badly I can't tell.

But right now, she was the only lead I had. Maybe I'd find another. Maybe not.

"Okay," I said. I don't think she stopped laughing for eons. Then she told me to start with the storage room.
abetterlie: (Default)
Rebellion was not something that came naturally to Connor.

Given that before he got mindwiped, he never did anything Angel told him unless this was preceded by a fight, either against Angel or with Angel against someone else, some people might have debated this assessment. But the truth of the matter was this: he did not recognize Angel as an authority because he could not believe in him. Obedience, to Connor, was connected with unquestioning faith. He felt a lot of things for Angel, some of which he never acknowledged, but they were all riddled with questions.

On the other hand, you could count the number of times he did not do what Daniel Holtz had told him to on two hands, and that was including his childhood. Holtz, to him, was not just his father but the closest thing to the all-knowing, all-wise God Holtz had told him about Connor could imagine. To act against Holtz' commandments was to sin against both. It also meant to affirm the demon blood in himself. It wasn't that he feared Holtz; on the contrary, by the time they left Quortoth, Connor had known for years he was far stronger than the older man. But Holtz was his father; he loved his father; disobedience would imply distrust and lack of love, which was only something a demon spawn would be capable of; therefore, it was unthinkable.

When Holtz told him to go to Angel, Connor came closer to rebellion than ever before, but eventually, he decided it was meant as a punishment for having lied about Angel. Then one father died and he sank the other into the sea, and for a long time, rebellion wasn't a question because there never was obedience anymore to begin with.

Until Jasmine.

Jasmine was his daughter, but she was also his goddess; it seemed good and right to obey her in everything, just like everyone else did. He had done terrible things, he knew that; Jasmine put everything right, though. She wasn't just the justification for all the preceding horrors by the peace she created, she was family, at last, and for a brief time, so was everyone else. Because of her. Then Fred infected Angel, and everything began to fall apart.

"You've no idea what she is," Wesley told Connor when Connor had finally hunted all the betrayers down. Wesley didn't get it. None of them did.

"Yes, I do," Connor said. "She's mine."

It was the last certainty he clung to; he loved Jasmine, Jasmine loved him, Jasmine was all-wise and all-knowing, therefore, obeying Jasmine as he once had obeyed Holtz was right. It was a matter of faith. Unquestioning faith. You did not rebel against this.

But then he did.

It wasn't so much what Wesley said about Jasmine that made the difference, it was that Jasmine had not told him of her own what she had done with Cordelia. It was as if she didn't trust him. Which implied that there was something she did not wish to trust him with.

"Has it become necessary to explain my wishes to you?" Jasmine asked, amazed, and he denied it, but he knew he was lying to both of them. Because the past year with Angel had changed him; he wasn't Stephen any longer, and insidious doubt had become part of his nature. He wanted to give Jasmine the kind of unquestioning faith he had given Holtz, he truly did. But he wasn't whole anymore; he wasn't even wholy hers. A part of him belonged to Cordelia, and Cordelia didn't have anyone else left. He hadn't thought it possible that loving Cordelia and loving Jasmine might mean two different things, might demand two very different actions.

He tried to talk with Jasmine about it. She was her gracious self, but there was confusion in her eyes and bewilderment in her soft smile, and this only served to disturb him more. Because she was supposed to have all the answers, wasn't she? To be all-wise, all-powerful.

"I could never hurt Cordelia Chase, any more than I could you. You're my parents, my tether to this world. It was your love that brought me here. I understand. You miss her," she said, and of course he missed Cordelia, but that wasn't the point. Why didn't Jasmine just tell him where Cordelia was? Why did she keep secrets from him?

"It doesn't matter," Jasmine said benignly. "Just know she's alive."

And that was that. Something broke in him, irrevocably.

It had taken him a while to understand that everyone else obeyed Jasmine because they felt compelled to, and because they saw her somehow differently than Connor did. Connor never found out what exactly it was they saw before their disenchantment. What he saw was his daughter throughout, but she did not understand the difference, didn't even know there was one. He couldn't obey her any longer. When he closed the door behind him and started to search for Cordelia, he knew he would never obey anyone ever again.

After all, he would have to love them first.
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.

Loyalty

Jun. 10th, 2006 09:53 am
abetterlie: (Default)
Loyalty isn’t something I’m really good at. I mean, I thought I was, but let’s face it, the only times I managed were when I was in a hell dimension or brainwashed, and what good is that?

Father and I had to trust each other completely back in Quortoth; we wouldn’t have survived otherwise. And just two days after leaving it, he had to watch me laughing and sparring with the man who ruined his life and took his family. And then lie to him. I knew it had been wrong, I knew that it had been a betrayal, that’s why I lied, but he saw through me; of course he did.

“I’ve seen his true face,” I said, feeling the shame burn in me.

“And I’ve seen yours,” he said, and that must have been when he decided to kill himself. Or have Justine do it. Because he couldn’t trust me, because I already had been disloyal.

Fred once asked me how I could do that to my father, but she meant Angel and sinking him to the bottom of the sea. Everybody seems to think that was the big betrayal, and not what had happened earlier, and I never understood that, because one was being true to the man who raised me and his cause, and the other was being Judas; that’s how he would have put it. Anyway, it sort of set the pattern it took me a while to figure out – that you can’t be loyal to one person without betraying another. Well, maybe you can, but I couldn’t.

*locked from everyone save Harry*

Still can’t, I guess. I can’t imagine making another choice than I have done in Ireland, I’d do it again, but it was still a betrayal, of him and all those people Angel and Darla killed throughout two centuries.

*unlocked*

It’s even true for Cordy and Jasmine. When I made my choice and condemned that girl to death, I told myself it was because I had to protect the baby and Cordelia, my family, that I was being loyal to them, even if that meant murder. I hadn’t thought that being loyal to Cordy and being loyal to our child could be two different things as well. I only realized when Jasmine had Cordy moved and didn’t want to tell me where to.

“Has it become necessary to explain my wishes to you?” she asked, and I said no, of course not, but that was when I realized, and that was when I betrayed Jasmine. Not when I killed her later – that was for her, like what Angel did was for me. But earlier. I loved Jasmine more than anyone, but I also loved Cordelia, and I had to find out what happened to her. If I had been truly loyal to Jasmine, I would have trusted her word, but I couldn’t, not anymore, and so I betrayed her, too.

Here’s something that took me even longer to figure out, though: loyalty and betrayal may be completely mixed up, but that doesn’t mean one is more true than the other. Angel was someone I betrayed pretty much from the start. Well, from three days after the start. I never understood why I should feel loyalty to him, just because he and Darla had brought me to life – that was just another reason to hate him.

But when my memories had come back, and he had stopped by for coffee and I knew he wouldn’t have done that if he didn’t think he’d survive, when I had my family I could love without guilt and my shiny new life, I still didn’t think twice about going after him, showing up at Wolfram and Hart to find out what the hell was going on. I wasn’t kidding myself. Going back there meant going back to who I had been as well. It meant that sooner or later, I wouldn’t be able to keep Mom and Dad and Mere away from that other world, not unless I kept them away from me. But he is my father. Or maybe he became my father at that moment, when I betrayed his gift and my other family by being loyal to him for the first time.
abetterlie: (Default)
Did you ever intentionally make a complete fool out of yourself while fully realizing what you were doing?

When Lorne suggested his morale booster to cheer everyone up about Fred's betrayal and continued absence, Connor didn't quite know what to say. Demonstrating his love for Jasmine by slaying her enemies was one thing. But standing in front of hundreds of people and "reciting" something? It sounded horrible. Given that everyone else, including Angel, was beaming at the idea and congratulating Lorne, he adjusted his face to a smile as well and said "Sure".

Not feeling universal bliss when everyone else did was really quite unfair.

Later, Angel came to him and said: "You're not really happy about this, are you?"

Panic engulfed Connor. If Angel knew, it might mean he'd do what Fred had done. Tensing into a fighting stance, he looked at Angel, yet could spot nothing but continued cheerfulness.

"Don't worry, son," Angel said. "I used to hate doing this as well. But that doesn't count. What counts is proving how much we love Jasmine, and you know what? I think it's going to be fun."

Angel didn't know, and Connor relaxed again.

"So what do you have in mind?" he asked cautiously.

"You and I," Angel pronounced gravely, "are going to rewrite one of the all-time classics. I never taught you about Barry Manilow, did I?"

The next hour was spent practicing what Angel said was "the best song in the world" with new lyrics. By necessity, Connor had heard Lorne on numerous occasions during the recent months, and he had heard several recordings Lorne played now and then. He liked music. In fact, he liked it enough to realize that Angel sounded terrible, and he himself sounded worse.

"And we're going to sing that in front of everyone?"

Angel stopped humming Jasmine, and looked at him. There was something of the old uncertainty that used to come with every second look at Connor in his brown eyes.

"Don't you want to?"

It would be completely humiliating. But they'd do it together. Something that had nothing to do with death, or any kind of struggle. They'd do it together, and everyone would smile and have a great time, and maybe Connor didn't deserve being as completely happy as everyone else, but on this occasion, he would be.

"Sure," Connor replied. "Sure, Dad. I want to."
abetterlie: (Default)
Cordelia is pregnant.

I felt like the Beast had another go at me together with Angel in a very bad mood when I read that, so "suckerpunched" is putting it mildly. And at first, I couldn't figure out why. I love her, I want her to be happy, a non-demonic baby is great, she's adult and married and wealthy, so I should be thrilled for her and busy looking for presents or something.

But instead, I took Bailey and went out to the Central Park and sat down on a bench and stared, and at some point, I started to cry.

It moved, I had told her when she put my hand on her belly, and I could feel it, her, our child.

Of course it did, she replied and laughed. That's what babies do when they're happy.

Jasmine's gone, I know that, I accept that, I even get it's better for the world and everything. It was horrible experience for Cordelia and this one will be good. Emily is gone. I'm just kidding myself when I think she might come back once she has grown up and can control her powers, or that I'll figure out a way to get to that dimension without dying. But I think of Jasmine and her beautiful smile and the way Emily put her hand in mine and Cordy pregnant and the two of us sharing that and sensing the child for the first time in her, my child, and I couldn't stop the idiot tears.

("Gone". Look at that. Stupid prettifying word. She's dead because I killed her. Our child.)

It's like the last of her is being replaced and erased as if it never existed, I thought, and I knew that was stupid but I still thought it, and Bailey put her head on my knees and tagged and wanted to go and walk some more, and I stood up and did.

Maybe later I'll come up with some honest way to say congratulations to Cordy - she always could see through me when I lied - and stop being selfish and dumb, but right now, I still feel like shit.
abetterlie: (Default)
Dearest Jasmine,

You once told me I could tell you everything. I didn't. I think that was the first time I failed you. I tried, though. I tried to tell you I didn't feel worthy of complete happiness because of the things I had done, and you smiled and said I deserved whatever happiness you could give me. For what it's worth, you gave me a lot. For the first time since coming to this world and failing at the task I was raised to do, my life made sense to me again. I existed so that you could come to us and bring us peace. Everything that happened to me, everything I did to others, surely that all was justified if in the end there was a world of peace and happiness for everyone?

One of my professors quoted Milton recently. Did I request thee, Maker from my clay/ to mould me man?/ Did I solicit thee,/ from darkness to promote me? He said he doesn't know how anyone could love their creator. I guess the only way is if your creator is also your daughter. I could never be angry with you. Everyone else hated you in the end, as you knew they would, and you couldn't deal with that. So I never could be. But the thing is, Jasmine, that's why, if you came back, I still couldn't tell you everything, and why I'm writing to you now when I know you'll never read this letter. Because of course I'm angry. It took me a while to understand about Cordy. Before you died, before I died and got mindwiped and brought back, before that I thought Cordy was like me when it came to you - that she chose to be your mother, and that everything she did was for you, to create a new world, because that was what she wanted. I didn't figure it out until my memories came back. That Cordy hadn't been like me. Okay, maybe in parts, maybe something in her had said yes at first, but mostly you overwhelmed her.

That's why you had her moved to that church, wasn't it? Because it suddenly occured to you that there might come a point where loving you and loving her wasn't going to be the same thing for me, now that you were separate beings. Most of the time, I try not to think about it, because if you made her be with me, if that wasn't her decision, it means I helped you rape her, and I loved her. It also means that the one I really had sex with was you, and that's maybe even worse. When I got that the first time, I ran out of class and threw up. I was still at Stanford then, and when I came back, Tim Hu said, Man, Riley, I thought you didn't have much beer last night.

But each time I think of that and each time I'm angry with you, I also remember how you were during those few weeks, and I can't get it into my head. There was nothing malicious about you, I know there wasn't. You couldn't even stand watching me hit your enemies; you told me to stop that when it happened. You were kind and gentle, and I know you wanted to give us everything. A world with no hate. And you loved me, and Cordelia. I felt it. I never felt whatever everyone else felt when they looked at you and obeyed you completely, but I did feel your love. Just like I felt your despair, later. So that is what I can't understand, Jasmine. I can understand Father. It wasn't that he didn't love me, he just hated Angel more, and there was no way it could have been otherwise. One person just isn't enough to make up for everything that happened to him. But you didn't hate anyone. Especially not Cordy. So how could you do it?

Maybe what I should be angry with you about are all those people you ate, but somehow, I can't be. Which I guess makes me have fucked up double standards, given that I hunt vampires who eat not nearly as many if they're not Angelus or Darla. Anyway, the eating people thing - that never felt personal, you know? But what happened to Cordy does.

Sometimes I wonder. Whether I could have saved your life instead of killing you, if I had been angry with you to your face. If I had refused to do what you wanted earlier. If I had done all that, and still wouldn't have left you. Because then you'd have seen it's possible. That someone loves you without you making him do so, and that you can bear hate and anger because there is still love left as well. I don't think you understood I didn't love you because you made me; if you had understood that, you wouldn't have tried to keep the fact your blood made Fred and the others see you as you really were a secret from me. And how could you have understood, when I didn't have the guts to tell you?

So there it is. I'm angry with you, and I failed you, and maybe sometimes I hate you a little, but what I said to you before I killed you is still true, and you must know it. I love you. I always did. I always will.

I'm sorry.

Connor

Farewell

Nov. 10th, 2005 05:35 am
abetterlie: (Default)
After this and this


He’s dreaming, not of the dead, and not of anyone among the living who is with him right now. Connor is dreaming of Justine. They’re somewhere in Utah, sitting in her car, she’s driving, and she’s trying to tell him something, but he can’t hear her. At first he thinks it’s because of the smashed window, but then he realizes it’s because of the radio. Only wasn’t the radio supposed to be broken? But it’s on, playing. Techno music. And Justine doesn’t even like techno.

He can’t hear her words, the techno is drowning her out, and it’s getting louder and louder. Somehow, he knows she wants him to switch the radio of. Which is the logical thing to do. And with the certainty of dreams, he knows she can’t do it; only he can. Two times, he raises his hand to switch it off, and two times, he draws it back again. Justine looks at him, and her expression is the one she had when she found him with his parents. The car swerves off the road, crashing into a tree, and he can see the window which is suddenly there again splintering, decapitating her in slow motion.

“I told you so,”

Kara says, who for some reason in sitting in the back of the car, even though he hasn’t noticed her until now. “Obviously. I told you so.”

Which is when he wakes up.

It’s the way Stephen used to wake up in Quortoh, at once, without a transition of drowsiness, hands on the ready. Connor had gotten rid of the habit a long while ago, though it had crept back a bit when he was on the run with Emily. Who is standing in front of him, holding something in her hand that resembles a skeleton key.

“I remember now,”

Emily says. “Not your memories. Mine.”

She climbs on the bed and puts her arms around him, one hand still clutching the key.

“In the beginning,” she says, and the rhythm of her voice is and isn’t hers, is and isn’t Jasmine’s, “there was the One, and the Many were the One, and the One were the Many. But then she split herself up. She was going to be born anew, but her mother was a mortal woman, and many dangers surrounded her. Despite all caution and all the plans of the world, her mother could have died before giving birth. So the One put bits and pieces of the Many everywhere before joining with her mother. If her mother had died, any of these pieces would have become the One. But the One was born, and the pieces were forgotten.”

He feels her trembling, and the image of the cupboard is in both their heads.

“So dark,” she says. “Didn’t know. Didn’t know anything. And he hated me. There was nothing in his thoughts to explain. Nothing but pain.”

“I know,” Connor whispers, and strokes her hair, which Cordelia must have brushed only this evening, because it is far smoother than he remembers.

“If you cut of a piece of a worm, it dies or it becomes a new worm,” Emily says. “Not the same like the old one. New. I saw it today, when we were fishing. I didn’t die.”

“If I had known,” Connor says, understanding what she is telling him and feeling the realization wash over him, “I would have come for you. Far, far sooner. I wouldn’t have left you…”

But he has said this to someone before. When? Where? Justine, he thinks. He has said it to Justine, after she had told him about Wesley and being locked up for three months.

Reassurances after the fact weren’t worth anything.

“You saved me,” Emily says. “But it’s not enough. This is the wrong place, Connor.”

It’s clear she doesn’t mean the island.

“I shouldn’t have been here. We shouldn’t have been. And now I finally remember, and I know where to go.”

Connor doesn’t ask her where. It doesn’t truly matter.

“Will we go now?” he asks instead. Wondering whether or not to say anything to Darla and Kara. But they need to tell Cordelia at least.

“I gave Cordelia my seashell necklace,” Emily says. “Tell her. About the One. It’s a dark place in her thoughts, just like the cupboard. She’s afraid, Connor. That it was her fault. Tell her it wasn’t. There isn’t anything she could have done, not after the One chose her.”

“You can talk to her,” Connor replies, refusing to acknwledge where this is leading towards. “Before we go.”

Emily looks at him sadly, and as she has done the first time they met, touches his cheek.

“It’s not a place for humans,”

she says. “A good place. Home. Where the Many came from, at the beginning. But not for humans.”

“I’m not human,” Connor says, saying it out loud for the first time. “Emily, it doesn’t matter where we come from. We…”

“The air would kill you before you finish your first breath,”

Emily says in an eerily quiet voice that sounds a lot like Darla.

“Can’t stay here,” she continued. “I can’t. They’ll come to take me and take you, and I’ll eat them, and then you will break. The One broke herself to be here. She broke you as well. And me. But she didn’t understand, see, didn’t understand. That you loved her anyway. Not until the end. I do. I don’t want to be the One. I want to be one of the many. You gave me that. And now I give it back to you.”

“But…”

She starts to transform, and he can feel her reach out to him. The first time she tried this, in Harry’s condo in Boston, she had not truly known what she was doing, and had left him feeling drained. This time, he feels the sensation of waves rolling over him, as he had done when Jasmine healed him, but it’s not pain they take away; it is consciousness. He feels himself falling asleep again, and though he knows he has to stop this, he’s helpless.

“Connor. Father. Live,” she says, and he finally feels that love radiating from her which everyone felt from Jasmine. “I will.”

With the last flicker of awareness he can muster, he sees her withdraw, sees something expand around her, something familiar. A portal.

When Connor wakes up, though it is only minutes later, she is gone. And only some toys, some clothes and a seashell necklace lying on Cordelia’s cushion for her to find are proof Emily ever existed.

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