"I'm coming with you."
"I don't have anything to stay in LA for."
Angel regarded him for a moment. It went unspoken that Connor didn't want to be left alone. He no longer had Holtz and Justine had abandoned him. That left him with a dead mother and a father he wasn't entirely willing to claim.
"Fine," Angel said.
"Don't you want me with you?"
"Of course I do, but I want you with me for the right reasons."
"What reasons might those be?"
"There's a variety of them, too long to list. Not at the top though is coming with me because you think you have no other choice."
"I don't know that I do really."
"You could stay here with Wesley, Gunn and Fred. They could use your help."
"I don't want to stay with them."
"That's fine I was just making sure you knew you had options."
"I know my options. Staying here isn't the one I choose. I can do more good with you anyway."
"Fair enough and you're right. You really can say you're going because you want to be closer to Dawn." Angel chuckled lightly. "Yeah, don't give me that ‘who me' look. Just be careful with her. She's just a kid."
"No more than I am. Hey, I'm your son; shouldn't you be looking out for me instead of her?"
"You've seen more than she has."
"That's not the way I've heard it."
"Okay, you grew up faster than she did and have had more real experience than she has. All of her memories until a couple of years ago are fake, Connor. She didn't exist."
"You just don't like the idea she could be more powerful than you are."
Angel shook his head. "You don't know me at all if you believe that. I'd welcome someone more powerful than I am into this fight. In ways Buffy is already. She was strong when I lived in Sunnydale, I'm sure she's stronger now."
"Don't you care that you're leaving LA without a protector?"
Angel shrugged as he took in his surroundings and what he'd left behind. Anything he needed Wesley or Gunn could bring him. "No, I mean yes, but it's clear Buffy and I aren't meant to do this alone. Gunn and Wesley will be here. We can come here if we need to. I don't even know if we'll stay in Sunnydale. But I was sent to Sunnydale to help Buffy. Buffy left LA for Sunnydale. The Powers That Be obviously want her where she is."
"So what are you going to tell her?"
"I don't know. The truth I guess."
"That's a switch."
"What does that mean?"
"You're not exactly the king of honesty, especially with her."
"The things I've done and kept to myself have been for her."
"A lot of good it did either of you. You're heading right back to where you started."
"No, we're not. The Powers even said they weren't prepared for us falling in love. Things will be different. I won't lose my soul and I won't have to watch her grow old and die. Or worse, die young from something there's no cure for."
"Would you turn her?"
"No, never. She'd hate me and I'd hate myself."
"It must be tempting."
"Sure it is, but no, never. The one person I sired after my soul, he wasn't right. I mean, he wasn't quite fully a vampire. I'm not sure if my having a soul had anything to do with that. He had a conscious, felt guilt but he eventually stopped caring. I wouldn't want that for Buffy."
"You're not so bad."
Angel laughed. With his back to Connor the tears he felt forming in his eyes went unseen. It was better that Connor did not see him this way. His son was accepting him. "Thanks, son." He stood there for a moment longer, composing himself. Connor's words were firmly planted in Angel's head, tightly wrapped around his heart. He would forever carry them with him. "Let's go."
It was well after midnight when they arrived in Sunnydale. For the first time since Connor had been back, Angel felt like he was close to bonding with his son. Their conversation while barely scratching deeper than the surface had been animated and fulfilling. The breaks were not overwhelming or uncomfortable.
"Do you think we'll see the other side of that sign anytime soon?"
"I don't think so, Connor. Buffy needs us, Sunnydale needs us."
"So, we can't visit LA?"
"Connor, I gave you the chance to stay."
"I don't want to stay. I was just curious that's all."
"And I'm answering is all. I should never have left. Of course, I wouldn't have you if I'd stayed in Sunnydale, so I guess things work out the way they're supposed to."
"Where are you going?"
"What do you mean?"
"Their house is that way, isn't it?"
"But you're not going that way."
"I'm going to the mansion."
"You drove all the way here tonight to end up at the mansion? Are you crazy?"
"I don't know if she's sleeping or what she's doing."
"I'll bet she doesn't have another guy over."
Angel quickly vamped out at the mention of another man with Buffy. He'd always been jealous, protective, and some might say possessive. The idea of someone else touching her, loving her sent him into a rage.
"Settle down, I was just saying, I mean, you guys left on good terms so you know she's waiting for you to figure something out."
"No, she wouldn't, but that's my point. What are you waiting for?"
"You're avoiding her, you're putting it off. She's probably still out anyway, so why not go find her and tell her."
"It's not that simple."
"What's not that simple about it? You get to be with her. Forever, right?"
"Isn't that what you both wanted?"
"I'm not sure we meant in the literal sense."
"Okay, so that's a bit of a technicality, but it's better than being alone."
"And it's better than her being with someone else."
"Yes," he said quickly.
"Don't vamp out on me again."
"What does it matter to you anyway?"
"For starters, I can't see Dawn until you've seen Buffy."
"If you haven't seen Buffy then I can't say anything to Dawn so you need to tell Buffy first so she doesn't hear the news from her sister. And, her biggest thing about you is that you keep things from her. This is a pretty major thing to keep from her."
"I'm not keeping it from her."
"No, I'm sure you'll tell her when it's right. Just when is the right time to tell someone they're not going to die?"
"That's what I thought," Connor said when Angel did not respond. How could he understand? "Do you think she's going to believe you made her a vampire?"
"No," he whispered. It was a thought that had crossed his mind. He didn't have answers for Buffy beyond what he had been told. Like everything since that fateful day he'd seen Whistler for the first time Angel was learning as he went.
"Then find her and tell her."
"And what are you going to do."
"Take the Plymouth to her house and impress the hot chick with my wheels."
Angel rolled his eyes, not sure Connor was kidding. At least not entirely.
"All right, I can't imagine her routine has changed that much that I can't find her."
"And you're going to tell her, right?"
"Then I'll stay at her house tonight."
"Don't take advantage of her sister."
"I wasn't going to, but I don't want to interrupt anything."
"The mansion is plenty big enough for three of us."
"Can I bring Dawn back there then?"
"No," Angel said quickly, adamant in his answer.
"Because you'd be tempted to do things you shouldn't do with her."
"Look who's talking."
"I've known Buffy for seven years, Connor. You and Dawn need to get to know one another better."
"Are you lecturing me? I know about sex."
"I know you do, and I'm sure Dawn does, but that doesn't mean you have to put that education to use just yet. Get to know one another, take her out on a date. Like normal people do."
"There's nothing normal about any of this."
"I realize that, but pretend. If you really like her it's the only way to do things."
He huffed, arms crossing over his chest in a pout. "I suppose. I wasn't going to try anything anyway, I just figured it would be nice to get her away from everyone else."
"Yes, Buffy's friends can be a little overwhelming and intimidating, especially now that Willow's as powerful as she is. Go for a walk or go sit on her porch."
He saw Connor nod ever so slightly as he pulled the car over to the side of the road. He would get out here and begin his search for Buffy. Hopefully, Connor would not do anything stupid.
"Good luck." They both spoke the words at the same time, overlapping. "Thanks," they both said in tandem once again.
It didn't take long for Connor to leave the area where Angel remained wondering just where to begin his search for Buffy. He knew Connor was right. He had to tell her, even though the details of what he knew were sketchy. He wished he had more information to give her, that he could explain things better. That wasn't how the Powers That Be worked, though, so he had to take what he could get.
He felt his heart ease for the first time since he left Sunnydale the last time. He was closer to her. His soul must realize he was closer to her, that only a few scant miles separated them now. Tonight they would be together again and this time it would be forever.
Story ©Susan Falk/APCKRFAN/PhantomRoses.com