Chapter 6 – Family Matters
Destiny stood over her brothers prone body as the rain poured down over both of them. Why would he attack her? Did he honestly think he would win now, when he never had before? Destiny had always been faster, stronger, and more vicious in all their bouts against each other. A change in location wouldn’t change that. Why would he think he even stood a chance?
Of course it was obvious now, Holtz must have put him up to it just like he did with every other stupid thing her brother had ever done. Although their surrogate “father” had never pushed the issue before, it seemed like now he truly wanted to pit them against each other.
“Had enough brother?” She knew from experience that the only way this fight ends is when he gives up and limps off to lick his wounds in peace.
“How could you?” His rage lashed out with each word, he was truly over the edge, and she knew just who had helped put him there.
“How could I what? Kick your ass? Well, it was really easy to tell you the truth.” She tried to play it off with a joke, but even she could see the genuine fury in his eyes. The rage that Holtz had put there so long ago, that only seemed to grow with each passing year. She knew in her heart that one day her brother would cross that line that he wouldn’t stop trying to hurt her, and when that day came she would have two options. Kill him, or let him kill her. What broke her heart was the unbending knowledge that she already knew what she’d choose when that day came.
“How could you turn your back on your family? FOR HIM!” She watched him slowly climb to his feet, the superficial wounds she’d given him already healing.
“I have never turned my back on you, it’s always you turning away from me. I was never good enough, never human enough for you. We’re in a new world now, we don’t have to be the same people we were back in Cortoth, I don’t want to be that person anymore, the monster that you try to bring into the light! Angel and his friends are good people, they’re helping me understand this new place, they’re helping me survive it. You have Holtz and I have them, why is that such a problem for you?” Did her brother truly wish for her to have no one, to be alone without him?
“He’s a monster!”
“According to Holtz, but then again according to Holtz so am I.” She saw the change grip him, saw the desire to attack fill his eyes just before he actually moved. It was enough, she was fast enough, that it made all the difference.
She had him pinned against the wall before he could land a single blow, his arm twisted behind his back, his face pressed into the bricks.
“This fight is over, go back to Holtz, I won’t let you tell me what to be anymore.” Wrenching his arm up higher against his back she heard the sickening snap of bone. It wouldn’t stay broken for long, but hopefully it would be enough. She released him, letting him slide down the wall in pain, before she turned to make her way back to the loft, back to Lawson. Before she had time to overthink what she was about to say she paused for a moment and told him the one thing she’d never had the courage to say before.
“You’re my brother and I love you, I only wish you felt the same way about me, but know this if you ever attack me again I won’t hold back. I am done letting you or anyone else try to control me, try it again and you will fail, hard.”
Steven watched his sister walk away from him while he cradled his now broken arm. He’d always known she was strong, but this was the first time he’d really seen it. Seen her, clearly. Even now that she was embracing her darkness she still held back while they fought, was that a sign? A sign that she was at heart a good person, in spite of her inherited darkness? Were they wrong to continue to push her?
If they continued to push her, and she chose her darkness over them out of spite, would that be their fault or her own?
As he slowly made his way back towards his temporary home and his father he tried to understand exactly how everything had changed, and exactly what to do about all those changes. Did he continue on with Holtz plan, or did he go his own way like she had. Was he strong enough to go it alone like his sister could? He just didn’t know.
Lawson sat on the edge of his bed and waited. Once things started to become more emotional and less violent between the two of them he’d retreated to give them their privacy. He had stayed just long enough to now know that the boy was Destiny’s brother, did that mean he was just like her? He’d seen enough of the fight to know that he definitely wasn’t as strong or as fast, so did that mean they weren’t the same at all? It was no use sitting here wondering, it wasn’t like he could use logic to understand their differences when he’d never come across anything or anyone like either of them before in his entire existence.
As he heard footsteps echoing off his walls he waited for her to make an appearance. He wouldn’t demand answers, hell he wouldn’t even ask for them, he would wait and let her tell him anything that she felt comfortable saying.
He better than most knew what it was to need to keep secrets, to keep the past hidden. Hell, he didn’t even really think she was keeping it a secret. It was more like she just didn’t think to mention certain things. Like because it was common knowledge to her, it just didn’t occur to her that it might not be so obvious to those around her. He’d gotten that from some of the things she’d said to him, or rather the way she’d said them. Off handed comments, almost like she just assumed that he already had the context needed to make sense of it.
Looking up he found her standing in the door way, soaked to the bone, just waiting.
“Hi honey, you’re home.” He watched her head tilt slightly in confusion, as she tried to place what he’d said. To understand what he meant by it. Just another clue telling him that there was more to her than he’d originally thought.
“So, you had a little visitor. I’m no stranger to strained family reunions but that was a little over the top even by my standards.”
“Yeah, my family is a little over the top by anyones standards.” She stepped closer to him and that’s when he saw it, finally, the sorrow she hid so well. She hid it better than most, but that little fight had really done a number on her, maybe not physically, but it beat her down none the less.
“You alright darling?”
She staggered towards him, steps halted and short. When she finally reached him she simply leaned in towards him, eyes pleading.
“Just help me forget it, forget my fucked up family, if only for a while.”
“I can do that darling.” Reaching up his hands closed over her shoulders, before he gently pulled her down towards him. This he could do for her, if he could do nothing else for her, he could do this.
Destiny didn’t know what she had expected really, she knew about sex in the abstract, but she’d never participated herself so she was a little lost. Was it going to hurt? Would it be amazing? The truth was that it landed somewhere in the middle. It had been amazing being that close to another person, even if he was a vampire, but it had also stung a little at first. After the initial discomfort though she’d begun to understand what all the fuss was about.
Now as she laid there in his arms listening to the rain fall down around them she felt content. Like all the awfulness of the day had been washed away by this one act. She knew it hadn’t, that once she left his arms the world would be there waiting for her, but she wouldn’t change this feeling for anything.
“So I know that guy was your brother, do I need to be worried about him coming back?”
It was a good question, a fair question, after all Steven was immune to the deadly light of the sun like she was. He could be a real threat to Lawson, assuming he knew that Lawson even existed. Either way, it looked like it was time to come clean with him, about everything.
“I don’t think he’ll be coming back here, he lost the fight, he won’t try again in the same area.” Which was true, every time Steven lost a fight to her he would always find somewhere new to try his luck the next time. Like he thought if he could just find the right place to attack he would win, when they both know that really wasn’t how it was going to work.
“Won’t want to give you home field advantage again?”
“I don’t know what that means but, I suppose. Beyond that there is really just a lot of drama that built up to this fight.” Years worth really.
“Tell me about it.” Tempting, his offer was just so damn tempting. To unburden herself, to tell this man whom she had no history with, who held no expectations of her, everything.
“Do you really want to hear me rant about my family?”
“From what I’ve seen your family is very interesting so, yeah, rant away.”
“Well the first thing you need to know about Steven and I is….”
Cordelia grabbed her purse from her desk and did a quick double check that she had everything she needed for the food run she needed to make. Everyone was starving, even Angel so she’d called in their order to their favorite Chinese place and now she just had to run to the butchers before it got there so they could all eat together. Not that Angel really ate with them, he was so stupidly self-conscious about drinking blood in front of them, it was ridiculous it wasn’t like just because they didn’t see it they forgot that he was a vampire or something. News flash that secret is already out and proud, time to strut!
Shaking her head at her inner monologue she stepped out of the hotel, only to stop in her tracks at what she saw.
Destiny. Standing out front of the hotel like she was unsure of her welcome or something. As she got closer she saw some healing cuts from a fight peppering her arms, and her fury rose, she still felt so protective over her and Connor. Swallowing it back she knew that if she came on too strong and let her anger fly it would just send her running in the other direction, so a more subtle approach was needed for this.
“Destiny? Did you need something, sweetheart?” The girl didn’t even twitch, so she at least had her fathers stoicism, if nothing else. Looking at her in the bright light of mid-day the girl was all Darla, there wasn’t much of Angel to be seen in her.
“Not really, I just…”
“Wanted to talk to someone?” She knew that look, that silent pleading for someone to listen. Her looks might be all Darla, but that look was all Angel.
“Yeah.” She sounded so relieved to not have to say it all out loud. Like having someone else guess was less shameful or something, well they would just have to deal with that while they were at it.
“Well, if it was me you were looking for you’re welcome to walk with me. I was just headed out to get everyone some lunch.” Letting the invitation go as a casual, an either or kind of thing, she turned and began to walk down the block leaving it entirely in her hands.
She made it less than half a block before she felt someone step up to walk beside her.
“So was there anything in particular that you wanted to talk about? Something else you don’t quite understand maybe?” So far they’d explained money, crime, the police, drugs, and how to find somewhere to live. On her own she’d discovered night clubs, grocery stores (though she employed the five finger discount and they had to discuss theft), and the beach (apparently there wasn’t much water on Cortoth so she spent a whole day just staring at the ocean).
“Boys.” Oh boy, that was one she wasn’t looking forward to trying to explain, they were just too complicated. Way too much subtext involved.
“Anything specific about them or just boys in general?” Maybe if she had a specific problem to work off of they could narrow it down a little bit.
“Why are they so … strange. Steven, he thinks that I’ve turned my back on my family by associating with you and the others. So what does he do? He attacks me, like all of sudden he can actually win a fight between us. It would take a lot more than just a change of scenery for that. Then after the fight I will admit I was a little emotional, I mean my brother did just seriously try to kill me, even if I know that he never stood a chance of actually getting it done. So I go to Lawson and we have sex, like really nice make me forget all my problems for at least a little while sex, and it is just mind blowing. Afterwards he asks me about Steven, he’d seen us fight and he was a little concerned about Steven maybe coming back, understandable given his whole inability to deal with sunlight problem, so I tell him a little bit about it. I don’t even tell him some of the really bad parts and what does he do? He gets up and just leaves. That was last night and I haven’t seen him anywhere since. So, why are boys so strange?”
Wow, okay that was a lot to take in. Destiny was having sex, and the fact that that wasn’t the biggest shock of the whole speech was a shock all its own. Connor, eh, Steven tried to kill Destiny. Destiny was stronger than her brother, the brother who nearly took down all of them including Angel when he first popped into their dimension. The toad who slept with Destiny while she was vulnerable and hurting just got up and took off like she was some cheap hooker? That bastard! What were the odds she and Angel could track this jackass down with just a name? Soooo not the point at the moment, she needed to focus and handle this as best as she could.
“Well, when it comes to… Steven, I really don’t know what to tell you. That’s a bit beyond my experience, but maybe Angel could help you with that, he’s a bit more fight-y than I am. Not that I can’t handle myself in a fight, but you know he’s been at it longer. As for this jackass Lawson, well men are not only weird, they’re sometime stupid to. There really is no understanding them sometimes, but we can talk about it a bit more if you want, see if maybe we could figure it out together?”
“Yeah, I would like that. I mean it’s not like I could figure this stuff out on my own. Thank you for… I don’t know, just thank you.”
“No worries, we’re family after all.”
Destiny followed Cordelia around for about an hour picking things up here and there as they discussed the inner working of the male brain, and both came up empty for an explanation. When Cordelia had figured out that Lawson had been her first time, she’d gotten a little angrier than normal but that hadn’t lasted long so she just let it go, it wasn’t like rapidly changing emotions was anything new to her.
It wasn’t until they pushed open the doors to the hotel, their arms laden down with food that they got any kind of answer. There in the middle of the lobby were Angel and Lawson. They were both dripping blood and sporting their fair share of bruises, they’d obviously been slugging it out for a while now.
“What is going on here?”
Both men stopped in their tracks and looked towards them wearing identical expressions of equal parts guilt and defiance. They were going to be stubborn about this. That was fine, she could be just as stubborn.
Wes laid awake in his cold bed and tried to think of another good excuse for why he was doing what he was with Lilah of all people. He knew it was wrong, he knew he should end it, but at the same time he had no reason to end it. All the reasons he came up with had to do with them, those other people. The ones who used to matter to him so much, until the day they’d all collectively turned their backs on him.
He’d done what he thought was right, what he thought was best for those babies, never intending for any harm to come to them, intending quite the opposite in fact, when he’d been ruthlessly cut down and summarily cast out over the course of a single night. There were no reasons to stop, not anymore, those reasons were all long since gone and they were never coming back.
As Lilah slipped between the sheets and her warmth reached him he couldn’t stop himself from reaching back towards her, the one person who was there with him, the one person who hadn’t taken the moral high ground, because she knew she hadn’t a leg to stand on in that arena so she didn’t even try.
“You will never believe who has come to town lover.”