Chapter 3 – Meeting You, Meeting Me

Destiny took another sip of the black bitter liquid called “coffee”, and tried not to grimace. Between the tacos and the coffee she was surprised anyone ate anything here. Deciding she had had enough she slid the cup towards the center of the table and waited for the questions she knew would come.

“Don’t like the coffee?” He gestured towards her cup with his spoon, an almost affronted look on his face at the idea that she wasn’t going to finish the drink she ordered.

“Not really.”

“No surprise there, you didn’t put cream or sugar or nothing in it. These days no one takes their coffee black, which is a crying shame. In my day if you wanted to drink coffee you drank the coffee you didn’t pour a pound of sugar in your cup until your spoon can stand up on its own just so you can pretend you’re drinking anything other than the coffee you asked for. Kids today.” She wasn’t sure where to go conversationally after that, so she chose to wait until he steered them along where he wanted to go. This little rendezvous was his idea after all, she had wanted them both to just walk away not sit down and chat.

“So I gotta ask, what exactly are you?” Of course that would be the first question, she should have expected as much. Men were predictable in the worst ways, if they didn’t understand something they would poke and prod at it until they deemed themselves an expert. Only then would they move on.

“I am none of your concern. Next question.” Come on, move on, she did not think a discussion about her two vampire parents would go over well when in the company of a vampire. Especially one so young. She hadn’t noticed in the bar surrounded by so many others but he couldn’t be more than fifty or sixty years dead. She could taste him on her tongue and he felt fresh in her mouth. When she had been talking to Angelus she could practically feel his age in her own bones, but this guy was still spry. Baby vamps were not on her list of confidants.

“No seriously.” Of course seriously, why would he assume she thought he was joking? Then it struck her, he was using slang. Well two could play that game. She might not have been in this world long but she had picked up quite the vocabulary so far in her efforts to better fit in with her surroundings.

“Seriously, I’m not answering that question so you might as well move on.” If he wanted to move along physically that would work even better. 

“Why not?” He looked so earnest and curious she almost relented, almost.

“Let me put it to you like this. I agreed to come here and let you ask me questions, I never said my life would be an open book you could flip through at will. I’m not telling you so just move on or we’re done here and I walk out.” She raised an eyebrow daring him to make the wrong decision, she’d seen Cordelia do it to Angel and was fairly certain from his reaction that her imitation was spot on.

“Touchy, touchy, alright then moving on. If you won’t tell me what you are, could you maybe tell me what you’re doing?” What kind of a question was that? One that deserved a special kind of an answer she supposed.

“I don’t understand? We’re sitting here while I drink a rather vile beverage and have a stilted conversation. All at your suggestion I might add. Careful or I might start to think you aren’t paying attention.” She knew she was being a little bitchy, making him spell everything out, but he started it so she felt justified.

“No I mean why are you in L.A., granted I haven’t been here for very long, only a few years really, but even I know you’re not a local so why are you here?” Oh if he only knew just how much of a “local” she was.

“I was born here in L.A. I’ve been gone for a while but I’m back now.” There that should be vague enough for him to draw his own conclusions. “Now if we’re done here I have to find somewhere to sleep soon.” Their interactions had been civil so far but she didn’t want to push her luck.

As she pushed up from the table she felt his hand encircle her wrist holding her in place. Normally she would have simply ripped his hand off for presuming to touch her, but she had been doing so well since this whole conversation began she didn’t want to end it on such a violent note. At least not without a real reason.

“You know I have a place that can offer shelter from the light, if you don’t mind sharing that is.”

Her mind came up with a million and one reasons to refuse his offer out of hand and one big reason to accept. While she didn’t trust him around while she slept any more than she trusted the others, he was a vampire. If anything happened she could kill him without feeling any kind of guilt. 

“Yeah, sure, alright then. Lead the way.” If nothing else it would keep her from being alone on the first “night” in a new world. She didn’t want to admit it but being without her brother for the first time was making her feel things she never had before. She was lonely.

“You know I’m starting to sense a pattern here. Not that I mind always taking the lead, but when do you start contributing to this relationship?” His smirk of confidence was infectious and she found herself returning it with a grin of her own.

“Oh, it’s a relationship is it?” His next words were spoken so low that if she’d been anything other than what she was she wouldn’t have heard him at all.

“Could be.”

Cordelia knew that Angel was worried about Connor and Destiny, his normal broody-ness was twice as dark, but she also knew there was nothing he could do for them at the moment. Connor didn’t trust them at all, and Destiny only trusted them as far as she had to for now.

“Angel, you have to stop moping about this, she’ll be back tomorrow, you can see her then.” She hoped she was right. Destiny had never made any firm plans to come back, but they were the only people she knew so she hoped she would. It was bad enough when people from other places came to L.A and got swallowed up by the city so easily, she didn’t want to think about what could happen to two teens who weren’t even savvy enough to survive in Kansas trying to navigate this hellish place.

“I’m not worried about tomorrow Cordy, I’m worried about tonight. Neither of them know a whole hell of a lot about our world and now they’re both just wandering around in it after dark with little to no cash and no plan at all. What if something happens to them?” He sounded so much like a worried parent it broke her heart, she had to get him to snap out of this, it wasn’t healthy. They would be fine!

“Angel! Would you listen to yourself? They survived years in a hell dimension, I doubt one night in L.A. will do them any permanent damage.” 

“I just-” He couldn’t bring himself to say it but she heard him all the same. He was worried she wouldn’t come back. He was worried that their explanations about how he was different now wouldn’t be enough. He was worried that his past was going to ruin his present, again. Running a hand up and down his back she tried to comfort him.

“She’ll be back, Angel. She’ll come through that door tomorrow and be brimming with more questions for you to answer, and when she does you’ll be here. You’ll get the chance to explain.” She did her best to hide her own anxiety about the matter, knowing it wouldn’t help things at all to show her worry.

She was beyond confident that the both of them would be able to survive L.A. after dark, if she was honest she was a little more worried about the other people knocking around out there who might bump into them. They were raised in a hell dimension by their fathers worst enemy after all. Who knew what they could be getting up to.

Destiny looked around the old abandoned building that was Lawson’s daylight shelter and was grudgingly impressed by what he had done with so little to work with. The outside of the building gave no sign that it had been occupied any time in the last decade at least, while inside he had created his own personal haven.

She gazed at all the art and other little odds and ends and realized that this was more than just a place to wait out the sun; it was in fact his home. He’d chosen all of these things with care and an eye towards what he liked and what he wanted to wake up to and fall asleep looking at every day. She imagined all of his choices would be more revealing of the kind of man he was if she knew anything about this world beyond what little she’d managed to gleen so far in the scant hours she’d been a part of it. Some of the things scattered around were so far outside of her experience she couldn’t even identify them on sight. 

“So, Lawson, tell me about yourself.” She knew next to nothing about him and after seeing where he lived she found that being so in the dark did not sit well with her, the only thing that kept her from running or attacking was that she knew he was just as in the dark about her as she was about him. Somehow being on even footing information wise gave her comfort and made her bold in her attitude towards him. She wanted to know more.

To understand.

Looking around this room and its treasures that she knew nothing about she felt a pang of sadness shoot through her chest leaving behind burning embers in its wake. She wanted to have a space like this, a place that told the story of her life to anyone who took the time to look and see it.

“What did you have in mind, sweetheart?” Well, it was good to see that his arrogance never seemed to waver, even when allowing a stranger into his home. That filled in one puzzle piece at least, though the swaggered seemed to be off somehow. Like he had to think about what to do before his body shifted itself to move to his commands. His bravado did not come naturally to him.

She wondered not for the first time, if he was regretting his obviously impulsive invitation. As strange as it was for her to be here it had to be even stranger for him to have her here. Did he expect her to understand all these things and judge him for them? Or did he want to explain and show her his world? Did he want her to leave? If he did, where would she go?

“Well, I know that you’ve been in L.A. for a few years now, and that you haven’t been a vampire for even a century yet. Other than that, all I have is your name and your address.” Not all that much to go on for a girl like her.

She watched him start a little at her sure tone. He hadn’t told her his age, but she knew it all the same and that seemed to throw him off balance worse than her being in his space. If he’d been human he would have taken a deep breath but as a vampire he simply shook himself until he got his swagger back. He leaned against the wall behind him with his arms folded across his chest and tried to look and sound as confident as she did. She could have told him he wasn’t pulling it off but that seemed rude.

“What else is there to know? You already know what I am, who I was has nothing to do with it.” His expressive face seemed to shut down as he spoke, his emotions hidden behind a wall of stone and ice.

Oh, so he was bitter about being a vampire. Probably turned against his will then, Holtz had told her and Steven that happened often. But, she thought that once they turned they kind of got over it and found pleasure in what they had become. Lawson sounded almost like he missed being human, like he wanted to go back to being whoever he was before he was gifted with eternity.

“I didn’t ask about who you were, I asked about who you are.” Who he had been in the past would do her little good in the present. Though she found that she was curious what sort of man he had been, to so despise what he had become. It was telling that when she asked about him his own mind wandered so readily to the past, she hadn’t mentioned his humanity once but it seemed to be constantly on his mind.

“There’s a difference?” Oh, there was always a difference, people always changed. Sometimes in ways that were all but imperceptible to anyone other than the person themselves, other times it was a more seismic shift that could be seen by anyone who laid eyes on them. It was written in their eyes and branded on their souls, for some reason that’s the change she could see within Lawson though he had no soul left to brand.

“Most definitely. I’m sure that whoever you were as a human was a good man. You seem like the type, and I would love to hear all about the good old days at some point, but right now the way you used to be really isn’t my main concern. You know, while I’m standing here in your home and all. Right now.” As she spoke she deliberately leaned to the side to see even more of his home that lay behind him. She was fairly short so she couldn’t look over his shoulder, but that didn’t stop her perusal though.

“Ah, well I doubt you’re afraid for your safety, you don’t seem the type to fear much at all.” That was true enough, spend enough time fighting monsters and normal predators lose all hold over you. She knew she was stronger, faster, and most likely better trained than most any creature found in this world. It wasn’t likely that an average vampire, and a baby one at that, would stand a chance against her.

“True.” She could tell her confidence knocked him off his stride for a minute, that seemed to happen to him a lot, she wasn’t sure how he thought this would go but she could tell from his reactions this wasn’t it. It took him a moment to reply. It would seem he wasn’t used to such declarations from his guests, or maybe he simply thought that as a woman she should have pandered to his ego and pretended to be less than she was. If that’s what he thought he was in for a rude awakening. She was not that kind of girl, if Holtz could not turn her into a simpering wilting flower this vampire had no chance of it.

“Well then, I guess we better hope it doesn’t come to blows between us. We wouldn’t want to bruise anyone’s ego, now would we?” As his words filled the empty space between them a new light seemed to enter his eyes, one she had not seen there before. 

“I guess not.”

As he spoke he’d been steadily moving towards her. Closer and closer. Until they now stood less than an inch apart. Looking up at him now she wanted nothing more than to kiss him, to hold him close and feel his body against her own. There was just something about him that seemed to scream safety. It was like she knew deep down that he would never intentionally hurt her, but even knowing that she also knew that she wasn’t really ready for this next step he was working towards either. She didn’t trust her own instincts, not here and not yet. 

She knew what sex was, not that she’d ever participated living in a dimension populated with only her brother and Holtz as eligible bed mates, but today had been confusing and so full of changes, physically, emotionally, and even mentally, she didn’t really want to endure anymore change. No matter how promising that change seemed.

“Lawson.” She was surprised to hear her voice break over his name. Her voice had always been as steady as her gaze and now it was betraying her.

“Yes, Destiny.” They were now even closer, their lips almost touching as they spoke.

“I’ve had a long day, full of some very confusing changes.”

She hoped he understood and didn’t hold it against her or make her spell it out. She knew if it became a physical fight she would easily destroy him but after the day she had already endured if their fight took a verbal turn she was nearly sure she would cry. If she did cry she would have to kill him so there would be no living witnesses to her shame and that would be a shame all its own.

The smile he sent her was almost sad as he drew himself back.

“Understood sweetheart, no fighting, or exertion of any kind. Well, if you’ll follow me I’ll show you where you can bunk down for the night.”

Following behind him she couldn’t hold back her sigh of frustration. Her life was so screwed up right now, when this whole godforsaken day had started it had all been so simple. Go to a new world, kill the monster Angelus, and then live out the rest of her life the same way it had always been. What the hell was she supposed to do now? Now that everything had changed, and this new world had turned her every thought around.

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