Title: in plain sight
Spoilers: 4x22 "Home"
Disclaimer: Why oh why must Joss and Co. banish every character I like?
Distribution: Please ask.
Angel stares down at him but sees nothing, is imaging past him to whatever he wants this moment to be. It's what he always does. Then he blinks, focuses.
Finally, Connor thinks, and waits.
For a moment, one perfect moment, there's nothing but silence. He relaxes into it and closes his eyes.
Then he wakes up.
He's somewhere. Always, of course: another world, another time, something glittering that is maybe supposed to fool his eyes. But he sees right through it. He always sees through everything. This world is rotten, wrong, covered with edges that blur and warp. It's eerily almost familiar.
He waits, but nothing happens. He's in a bed, resting wrapped in soft sheets, (another glittering trap of show, he's sure) and so he gets up. He thinks of Jasmine, rising and extending her arms towards him, her eyes shining into his, and breathes slow and deep. Angerlosshate is all he has now. All he's ever had.
He's in a house. Down the hall, down the stairs, and the edges of everything stay sturdy enough around him. He's in a home, every room littered with things he doesn't know at all, the clutter of those who think this is where they're supposed to be, and standing carefully poised for whatever horror will be coming he waits.
And still he's unprepared for what he sees.
People. This is what his father made for him, a cluster of them smiling and chattering, humans in human skins. He smiles back and of course they are satisfied. They want him to join them. They seem to think they know him. They look at him and think he fits right in.
He sits in their kitchen and eats the pancakes they feed him. He thinks about their skin under his fists, their blood washing his hands, but their smiling faces are nothing but empty underneath. They don't know anything. They are stupid and slow, happy to be in their little world. No worries about their new addition. He bets they think he always was. They can't free him.
They tell him details about his life, drip them out in conversation. He thinks about Angel slicing open his throat and hears about siblings, suburbia, a high school right down the road where he already knows he'll do more than slide in. He'll fit inside. What a perfect life he has, every detail imagined and ironed out except the ones that matter. How very much like his father to toss him away and tell himself everything will be fine.
He's going to make him pay.
He doesn't know how time moves in this enchantment. He only knows that it lasts way too long. He glides through dinners and weekend outings and trips to the grocery store. He's a perfect simpering confection of a boy, all good grades and polite conversation and slouchy striped bright shirts. Cordelia would call him sweet and look right through him.
His girlfriend--of course he has one, Angel thought of everything --is small and blonde with a soft pleading voice. He knows what Cordelia would do to her. He knows what he's already done. He only goes near her when he has to, and as he sits sweating holding her hand through some pointless activity he thinks of a knife slicing through his father's head. He will hold its pieces in his hands and tell Angel everything he doesn't want to hear.
He can't track or fight, not like he used to. Of course his father would wipe the only useful parts of him clean. It doesn't matter. He'll remember. He trains himself in silence every day and then returns to the fake house that will never be his home. "Hanging out with the guys," he says when the woman who calls him son asks a cheerful question, and the littlest one, the sister he's supposed to love and who's supposed to love him back, shrinks into the sofa and stares at him. He likes her. She's smart.
He grins at her and she flinches before Angel's dream (escape) takes over and she smiles back. When he leaves --and he will, oh yes, he will --he just might set her free.
In the end he can't wait. Not for a plan, not for everything he's lost to be returned. Not for anything. He needs to be free and so he goes. It's easy, a train and then a bus, money given to him by the man who says to call him "Dad" and didn't bother to ask where he'd be.
We trust you, son.
L.A. is exactly the same, messy sprawling chaos that smells of misery and dreams. Lilah is waiting for him, standing elegant in a low-cut shirt with a choker around her neck to call attention to what she wants him to see. She should just outline her death mark in red paint.
"Connor," she says, and he stops. Not for her, but for what shimmers when she speaks. For once everything looks real, no blurred softened edges.
"Cordelia's fine," she continues, and grins at him. "I'd ask if you want to see her, but...."
Ripping her throat out would be pointless. He wants to do it anyway. She dances back a step when he lunges towards her.
"You know this won't do you any good," she says. "I must say, I'm surprised you came. You must know you're not even a memory. Not to anyone. Not even her. Angel saw to that."
"Fuck you," he says and wishes he could swallow the world. Cordelia. His father took everything, then.
"You tell him--" he says. "You tell Angel I'm coming."
Lilah isn't grinning anymore. "He left you behind," she says. "He always takes the easy way out. But you knew that, Connor. This can't be a surprise. We need him now, but later, if we don't--then you can come back. Until then--" She snaps her elegantly manicured fingers together and grins, all sharp dead bright teeth.
No blissful moment of silence this time, just a snap shift, a ripping wrinkling in time, and he's sitting in a living room. A familiar one, his for now and filled with uselessness, his fake family all around him. They seem to be having a discussion about his future. No one notices that he's just appeared.
"We're so proud of you," the empty thing that calls itself his mother says. "Didn't we always tell you that you can do anything?"
He looks right through her and smiles. "You did," he says, and lets their talk carry them away. This isn't over. He knows how to survive and he will. He'll wait. As long as it takes. It'll be worth it.
In the end, he'll make sure Angel sees.