Angel was up fairly early waiting for Destiny to come back, if he was being honest he hadn’t truly slept since she left. He knew it wasn’t likely that she would turn up at the crack of dawn especially since she hadn’t even left the hotel until around two in the morning, but he’d rather be early and have to wait than miss her when she finally came looking for him.
It was a day of busy work, there was a silent understanding that barring a vision from the powers they weren’t taking on new cases at the moment, with Cordelia alternating between dusting and filing with the occasional break to flip through a new magazine. He spent his time lounging in the lobby trying and failing to read. Every little squeak of hinges or shuffle of papers had him looking up to check the door.
Destiny didn’t show until around two in the afternoon and when she did she hovered in the doorway for a few minutes before making the decision to fully enter. He didn’t blame her. It was going to be hard getting past a lifetime of thinking he was a monster, walking into the hotel must feel like strolling into the lion’s den. Dangerous, stupid, and counter productive.
“Destiny, good afternoon. Did you find a good place to stay last night?” He had given her a couple hundred bucks and a fast rundown of where and how to find the kind of motel that didn’t require ID but was still safe enough to bed down in. He hoped she took his advice but the scent of dust and asbestos on her clothes told him she probably squatted in another abandoned building instead.
“Yeah, I met a guy at a club and he let me crash at his place.” The slight emphasis on the word made him think that it was something new that she had only just learned. She was picking up the lingo, so to speak fairly quickly. That would really help her out in the long run. He tried to work past the words she actually spoke, but he couldn’t.
“What?” His voice sounded so strained, it was a wonder that any sound came out at all. She went home with some guy from the club? He remembered some of Cordelia’s horror stories about her dating life out in the glitz and glam of L.A and cringed at the thought of his daughter having to try and navigate those waters alone. Not to mention his own involvement in some of those escapades filled with demonic pregnancies and thoughtless jerks.
“Yeah, after I left here I found this club and decided to check it out. Best way to learn about a culture is to watch the behavior of a large group of people after all. When I was there I ran into this guy, we ended up having this really vile drink called coffee. I don’t know if any of you have ever tried it but it’s really bitter and kind of nasty so I would steer clear if I was you. After the coffee chat I said something about going to find somewhere to stay and he offered to let me come back to his place so I did. It was a really nice place. Very comfortable bed.”
“What?” He more than most knew how easy it was to seduce the unwary, but something about the way she spoke gave him hope that wasn’t what happened last night. She was casual about her time spent with this boy and didn’t seem to have any questions about what happened. Could it be that this guy really just gave her a place to sleep with no strings attached.
“So you two shared a bed?” Even if they did it didn’t necessarily mean anything, but he had to know. So he would know just how painful this punk’s death needed to be when he eventually tracked him down.
“No, I slept in his spare room.” With those words Angel finally started breathing again, metaphorically. “I mean I thought about having sex with him, but then I just felt so tired I decided to just sleep instead.”
“So this guy was cool with… everything.” He wasn’t really sure what she was asking, he supposed he was just worried that Destiny’s mystery man might have pushed the issue a little. This was L.A. after all, and more often than not any act of kindness from a random club guy came with a bit of a price tag. That tag usually included sex, if not right away, then soon after. If being best friends with Cordelia had taught him anything about being a young woman in the city it was that.
“Yeah, sure, I mean he was a vampire so it’s not like he had much room to judge or anything.” That statement was the one that put him over the edge and caused his mind to be empty of all thought. There was no safe place to hide, so he decided to simply not think at all.
Destiny wasn’t sure what just happened, but Angelus seemed to almost freeze in place. Reaching up she waved her hand in front of his face and got no reaction. Was he okay?
“He’s fine sweetie, just give him a minute.” Looking over towards Cordelia she let her confusion show. Was this normal? Cordelia didn’t seem phased, if anything she looked almost amused.
“Is he okay?”
“Yeah, he’s just having a dad moment. It’ll pass, but be prepared to go into a completely different conversation and know if you bring the boy up a second time this will happen all over again.”
Different conversation? She wanted to talk to him about a lot of things, but she wasn’t sure where to start. They had talked about his past for a bit the night before and she didn’t want to continually bring it up when she wanted to know about so much more. He and his friends had made it quite clear what they thought about his past and she didn’t want to shut the conversation down too quickly. What should she ask about?
Should she ask about her mother? A woman Holtz had spent a lifetime claiming had no redeemable qualities to speak of. Was she truly a monster or like her father had she changed in the time Holtz had been made of stone? Would she want to know if she was?
No Darla wasn’t a good place to start, she loomed so large over them all she would engulf them if given the chance. She needed to start out smaller and work her way up to the bigger questions.
She wanted to ask him about his hunger, to know if it matched her own or if she was truly an abomination, but again that was a larger conversation. Nearly every conversation she wanted to have seemed to be simple starting points for larger topics. There didn’t seem to be any safe space where a question could be a simple and straightforward asked and answered kind of deal.
She needed to find a question to ask that would let them both have at least a part of the conversation they were both dying to have. She wanted to know more about the life she could have had, the life she should have had, but she didn’t know what to ask about that wouldn’t hurt them both in the telling.
Holtz had always made a big deal out of why he chose their new names for them. She wondered if her original name had any kind of meaning behind it.
“Why Connor and Destiny?” Neither name seemed random but at the same time for all she knew they could have been. She had heard many strange names in this town and that was after only being here less than twenty-four hours.
“Well I named Connor after not only my own Irish heritage but I made his name stand for something.” Her father had been Irish? No one had ever said so in the past and she found she was a little saddened by that fact. All anyone ever talked about were his past deeds, not his heritage or his life.
“What did it stand for?”
“Names have meanings and roots and the one I gifted my son is from the Gaelic name Conchobhar, it means strong willed and wise. I gave him that name because I wanted him to be everything I wasn’t when I was a man. I wanted him to have the life that I… that I never did. Not to say it was anyone’s fault but my own that I didn’t have that life. I was too busy standing in my own way to see what was right in front of me and I wanted better for my own son. I wanted him to always be wise enough to really see the world around him for what it was and not what he thought it was.”
“Why did you name me Destiny?”
“I never knew your mothers true name, only the one given to her by her own sire. When she became a vampire she let go of everything that was once a part of her human life. I asked her about it once, why she seemed so against everything humanity had to offer. While a lot of vampires hated the weakness inherent in being human Darla seemed to feel a particular disdain for the human condition. She told me that becoming a vampire was her destiny, that fate chose her to become something more than she was and that casting away all other things was her way of embracing that. When you and your brother were born, your first day was her last. In choosing to sacrifice her life to preserve yours she changed her own destiny and re-embraced her humanity. I named you in honor of her choice and true awakening like I named your brother in honor of my own. The two of you were a second chance.”
She wasn’t sure how she felt about being a second chance for a woman she would never know. Then again Holtz had always said something similar about how she and Steven were his second chance at true vengeance. Maybe it was a common parental feeling, but she didn’t like hearing it anymore now than she had then.
Getting up she excused herself and all but fled. She wasn’t sure how to feel to be honest and she didn’t want to try and work it out with an audience. She could hear her name being called out behind her but she didn’t stop, she couldn’t.
Cordelia kept her hand on Angel’s shoulder holding him back and out of the daylight. It was becoming a habit of his to try and chase his children into the sun. She needed to help him calm down and think outside of the panic he was feeling, but she didn’t know how. All he could see was Destiny running away from him and he couldn’t seem to hear her calling out to him.
Making a decision she pulled her hand back and snapped it back across his face full force. She knew it wouldn’t be enough to truly hurt him, it never was, but if she was lucky it would be enough to help him snap out of it.
“Are you listening now?” The look of kicked puppy betrayal on his face just wasn’t fair. He was the one who pushed her to this point with no regard for her manicure.
“You hit me!”
“Well, someone had to. You were trying to run off after her and even if it wasn’t the middle of the day making it more likely you would be a big pile of dust before you reached the street it would still be a bad idea. I know you want to get her to talk to you and tell you what flipped her out so hard, but you can’t do that. When someone all but stumbles out of whatever room you’re in like that it’s not an invitation to follow after them. If you run her down now and try to demand answers she’ll never come back.” He looked so lost she just wanted to reach out and give him a hug, but that wasn’t what he needed from her. He needed a voice of reason, comfort could come later.
“I can’t just let her-” He was still trying to gently shake her off and under any other circumstances that would have pissed her off beyond belief.
“You can, and more than that you have to.” She could see she wasn’t getting through to him, yet. He still hadn’t taken his eyes off the door. Normally being so ignored would have set off her temper. She would have thrown her hands in the air and given up, walked away ranting about pearls of wisdom before swine like men. Instead she simply clamped her hand down harder, if he wanted to get past her he was going to have to hurt them both.
“But what if-”
“No! I understand that she might need someone right now, she looked pretty wrecked. But you need to understand that right now, that someone isn’t you.” She didn’t want to hurt him but she also didn’t want him to blow his chance by rushing things.
When he finally stopped struggling and sat down to put his head in his hands she closed her eyes in silent prayer. She hoped she’d just done the right thing.
Destiny made her way back to Lawson’s loft, she didn’t know why she was going back there, she supposed it was because besides the hotel it was the only place she really knew in the city.
She had walked away from the hotel in a bit of a daze, her mind whirling around and around as she tried to come to terms with the idea that Holtz and Angelus might not have been so different after all. It probably wasn’t fair of her to even think that over one shared sentiment, but the similarity of it kept ringing in her mind. Second chance.
She didn’t want to be a second chance, not to Holtz, not to Angelus, and not to Darla. Not that she was in any way sure that Darla herself would have seen her that way. Maybe it was just a male parental figure quirk to think in those kinds of terms, maybe her mother would have been different.
“Problems?” If she had less control of herself and her own body she would have jumped at the sudden sound. Instead she simply glared at the man who made it. “Oh, not only problems, deep problems.”
“I don’t want to talk about it, Lawson.” While she had become a bit closer to the vampire than she was to most others in this new place that didn’t make him her confidant. She could only imagine the shock and horror on his face if she ever did confess to him the things that were on her mind. The very idea that two vampires could possibly procreate without turning someone to continue their sire line would be enough to send him into fits.
“Are you sure? Because your words say no but your eyes are shouting please ask me.” Closing her eyes she berated them for being so weak.
“My eyes are shouting nothing.” It was only after his light laughter registered for her that she realised he’d been teasing her. Keeping her eyes closed she silently huffed in annoyance, jerk.
“Sure they are, they’re very expressive eyes. Like right now they’re screaming at me to fuck off.”
“How could you know that? My eyes are closed.” She wasn’t sure how to respond to this kind of teasing. There was no maliciousness to it and no real stakes in place. If she lost the verbal spar there would be nothing but laughter in response.
“True they are, but your shoulders are practically in your ears. I hate to be the one to tell you this doll, but you are stressed.”
She supposed she was. She hadn’t been in this world long, but nearly every second of it had been spent on high alert. Between her brother, her father, the likely impending arrival of her “step-father”, and trying to navigate a society she didn’t understand, her life had gotten far more complicated than she had ever thought it would. Coming here was supposed to be simple, it wasn’t supposed to be… this.
“I don’t want to talk about it.” If she talked she was going to cry and that was unacceptable.
“Fair enough. What do you want to do instead?”
“Forget.” She wanted to just close her eyes and float away. Find a place she could just shut out the world and let all her problems die for at least a little while. Why was that so damn hard?
“Oh! Really. Well you’re in luck I am an expert at forgetting. Come with me.” He grabbed her hand and pulled her deeper into this home, to a corner she hadn’t explored yet. Since he’d been so kind to invite her in she had been trying to stay out of his private areas and not be too intrusive. While she knew deep down their association was most likely going to end in a fight to the death, she didn’t want to cause him un-do hurt before then. This was his home and she was a guest.
Stopping in a far corner he laid down on the ground face up, never letting go of her hand he dragged her down with him and just stayed there. She wasn’t sure what was happening or what was supposed to be happening but she for one thought it was getting a bit awkward. She was just about to demand answers when he reached over and flipped a switch. Dozens upon dozens of light clicked on over them, in varying colors and brightness. After a moment they began to blink and dance casting lights and shadows against the ceiling until it took her breath away. It was amazing.
“Can you feel the amnesia taking hold yet?” His words were whispered like he didn’t want to disturb anything about the moment and she understood why. This was magic.
“Yeah.” She kept her voice just as low, as whisper on the wind.
“Thank you, Lawson.” She thought about it for a moment, her thoughts still whirling even with the tranquil surroundings before she decided to be brave. “I learned something about my parents today that I kind of wish I didn’t.”
“What did you learn if you don’t mind me asking?” His fingers began to lightly run back and forth against her hand. His touch was feather light but for some reason it was all she could feel in that moment, that warmth of being next to someone else. Of being seen even when they were both looking up and away from each other.
“I learned that they aren’t as different from the man who actually raised me as I thought.” She kept her eyes solely on the lights, maybe if she didn’t look at him or anything else but this little piece of magic it wouldn’t hurt so much.
“And that’s a bad thing?”
“Yes.” She had never come this close before to admitting out loud how much she hated Holtz. How much she despised him and the ruined childhood he’d foisted on her and her brother out of some petty desire for revenge for something that happened decades before they ever drew breath. How much she hated him for turning her brother into someone she could barely stand to be next to, who was always judging her for things beyond her control. How much she had wished all her life that he had never come into their lives at all. How she had dreamed for years about what her life could have been like if she’d been allowed to stay here and have the life she had been meant to have. Only to have that dream start to shatter against the rocks so easily and quickly with just one revelation out of a thousand more to come.
“Well, is this something you learned the sum of them?”
“You said you’re upset because they’re similar, right?” She gave a little grunt of agreement she didn’t want to give voice to the revelation again. “So now I guess the only question is do the similarities outweigh the differences. Are they more alike than they are different or is it just this one way they are the same?”
She wasn’t sure, not really. The only things she knew about the “adults” in her life for sure were the big things. Vampirism vs. humanity. They had to be different in most ways for that alone. Didn’t they?
“I don’t know, I don’t really know much about my birth parents at all. At least nothing I can trust to be true.”
“Then I suppose you need to learn a bit more before you can really say how angry you are. Getting angry is natural but being angry just to be proven wrong later just plain sucks. Trust me.”