Lawson was sitting in his living room for lack of a better term and thinking about Destiny. They’d put off their game until later, she’d wanted a shower and a quick hunt first. He could understand that, what he couldn’t understand was what he was feeling for this girl. She’d kicked his ass without even really trying and yet he still wanted her here. Still wanted to be around her. If anyone else had done that, his pride would have demanded that they find somewhere else to rest, but not her.
She was something different, something special, he felt a connection to her that he couldn’t explain. Hopefully their little game would help him come to grips with it, whatever it was.
His thoughts were just about to go through another confusing loop about Destiny when he heard a crash from the ally outside. Normally he would just ignore it, but he could smell Destiny nearby and he was worried.
He got out to the alley just as the rain began to fall and was stunned by what he saw. There was Destiny and she seemed to be fighting with some boy about her age, but that wasn’t what was stunning him into immobility. It was the speed of their attacks that left him unable to move. They were each moving so fast they were just a blur of motion, how was that possible?
Each kick and punch was practiced and came with ease, he’d seen some of the older vamps or demons fight in a similar way but they were all ancient. This kind of fighting only came when you were so comfortable in your own skin and so confident in your own skills that doubt never creeped in. While he was no slouch in a fight he could confidently say that he would be dead in minutes if he went up against either of them. Though it was clear from watching that Destiny was the winner from the beginning. She had more control while the boy was all wild energy and barely contained rage.
The rain was making things slippery and anyone else would be slipping and sliding in every direction but the two of them were nothing but graceful. They flipped and jumped without fear and always landed on their feet. For the first time since he’d become a vampire he was starting to envy someone something other than their humanity. He was beginning to envy them both for their power. Now that was a first.
The fight seemed to drag on with Destiny dodging and blocking more than hitting, but it was clear even with her defensive stance that she was the one in complete control of them both. She chose where they moved and how he just followed along behind her trying to catch up but never quite being able to.
Until she decided to end it and he went down.
Destiny stood over her brother’s 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, when she was the one protecting his boney old ass from every creature within a hundred miles in every direction, 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. He was the kind of boy who would simply keep throwing himself at any obstacle in his way until either the obstacle was removed or he was too hurt to get up again. She personally thought it was stupid, but it seemed to work for him. As long as she was there to back him up at least.
“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 do 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.
When it came down to it she loved herself just that little bit more.
“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 Quor’toth, 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 for that one slip to be enough to make 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 long enough for him to calm down. 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 that 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?
He could feel the pain of bone scraping against bone as his body tried to heal itself from an injury it had never had before. Even with all the fights he’d gotten into with all manner of creatures in the past none of them had ever had the strength needed to break him so thoroughly before. The pain helped him clear his mind of the anger that had fogged his ability to think, he was pushed out of attack mode and as he sat against the wall of the alley he tried to understand what had just happened, he tried to understand exactly how everything had changed, and exactly what to do about all those changes. Did he continue on with Holtz’s 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.
As he slowly made his way back towards his temporary home and his father he thought about how many times he and his sister had fought over the years. Time and time again they were pitted against one another and he was starting to think it was time to stop. They were fast approaching the day when they would both go too far and there would be no coming back from it. As much as he feared his sister descending into darkness, what he feared more was a life without her.
That was something he could never imagine.
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 Destiny 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 doorway, 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. Far flung references to old world writers and philosophers landed but common idioms and everyday sayings seemed to throw her easily.
“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.” It was the same kind of violence as any vampire family reunion only amped up to a level that most people, creatures or not, could never reach.
“Yeah, my family is a little over the top by anyone’s standards.” She stepped closer to him and that’s when he saw it, finally, the sorrow she was usually so good at hiding. 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 nonetheless.
“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.” Time under the lights wouldn’t do it this time she needed more than a few moments of lighthearted joy to pull her free from this one.
“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.
Their mouths connected and he took the lead, showing her how to move and where to touch. He was certain this would be another thing that was just that little bit out of reach for her and he was right. She hesitated and waited that one breath too long before she reacted. He was going to be her first and for once that didn’t fill him with the dark satisfaction of conquest, it filled him with awe. She had chosen him and now he would choose her in return.
Her skin was cold to the touch from the rain but he knew just how to warm her. Her low moans and subtle gasps gave way to the curious glide of fingers and light filled eyes of wonder. He was taking her to a whole new world and she was embracing it and him with all she had. No one had ever done that before and he felt like all the air he didn’t technically need had been knocked out of him. It hurt to see such trust in him knowing that no one else ever had or ever would feel something even close to it again. She saw him, fangs and all, and still looked at him like this.
It was paradise.
Destiny didn’t know what she had expected really, she knew about sex in the abstract, but she’d never participated in the act 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, but do I need to be worried about him coming back? Defending your honor?” She could hear the laughter that never seemed to leave his voice, but the tremble of worry beneath was also echoing around her mind stealing some of the warmth from her skin.
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 knew that really wasn’t how it was going to work.
“He wouldn’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. A lifetime of Holtz pitting them against each other in small ways leading up to this ending that was always coming.
“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….” She talked for hours with his arms wrapped around her so still it was like he wasn’t there at all. It was peaceful and freeing in a way nothing else ever had been before.
It was paradise.
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.
The girl was 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 though the girl was all Darla, there wasn’t much of Angel to be seen in her. A bit around the eyes maybe the tilt of the nose but other than that he just wasn’t in her.
“Not really, I just…”
“Wanted to talk to someone?” She knew that look, that silent pleading for someone to listen. Her body 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. She didn’t imagine that good mental health had been a big thing in her hell dimension home.
“Well, if it was me you were looking for then 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 could follow her or take the final steps into the hotel to see Angel.
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 and where to find it, crime, the police and why it was a big deal to follow all the laws and to never fight the cops if it could be helped, drugs and how to identify the more common types by sight, 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 Quor’toth 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. Like 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. The boys got no real discipline.
“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 so… so new and just good you know. Afterwards he asked 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 any level of sunlight problem, so I told him a little bit about it. I didn’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 revelation 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 me being an only child and all, 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 and blood that smelled nearly rancid 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. She would have her answers damn it, even if she had to beat it out of both of them.
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.”