Secrets & Lies, Part II

Author’s Notes: Future-ish fic.

Thank you again to everyone who has read this story and has taken the time to send such great feedback!

Rating: Adult; explicit sex

Disclaimer: Own nothing. All belongs to Joss, ME, Fox, et.al.

Pairing: Ultimately B/A. Has C/A and mentions of B/S.

Distribution: My site, EverySixSeconds; sites currently with permission to host my fics; all others please ask.

Originally Posted: posted Jan 22, 2003

When Angel joined the team downstairs, he attempted to work on the St. John case as Cordelia had requested, but found it difficult to concentrate. He absently toyed with objects on his desk, twirled his pencil and disinterestedly opened and closed the case files in front of him.

Even though he’d thought them resolved in the ruminations of the night, the things that Giles had told him yesterday continued to prey on his mind. If Buffy had really not known about the attempt to return his soul, then why had Cordelia believed otherwise? Had Buffy really loved him as much as Giles seemed to believe?

The dream he had also played through his mind; flashes of it popping up at inopportune moments. It seemed prophetic somehow and connected to the whirl of unwanted thoughts continuing to ebb and flow through his consciousness. He was strangely curious about the identity of the unknown fantasy girl, as if her identity somehow mattered. As if she was a missing piece of the puzzle his brain was trying to solve.

Cordelia laughed, drawing Angel’s attention. Glancing up at her as she was smiling and laughing at something Gunn had said, he was also struck with the thought that he hadn’t told her the news about his soul. Why hadn’t he simply woke her up when he returned to the hotel and celebrated the news as he had once imagined he would… by indulging in a veritable marathon of sensual pleasure, making love for hours on end? That had been the dream, hadn’t it?

Angel shifted uncomfortably on his chair, picking up the pad of paper that sat in front of him. That had been the dream, but that had been years ago. That dream and others like it had been abandoned long ago, not long after he had left Sunnydale. His eyes returned once more to dyed blonde at the counter. That still didn’t answer his question; why hadn’t he shared his news with his new love? If not this morning, then why then hadn’t he told her this afternoon when she had awakened him? Why the hesitation?

Sighing heavily, Angel once more shifted his position at the desk. He could find no explanation for his reluctance to confide in Cordelia, yet it was there nonetheless. Absently, he began to sketch on the pad of paper in front of him, his mind still filled with a jumble of confused thoughts.

The vampire’s agitation was obvious to Cordelia and Lorne, both of them shooting him covert inquiring looks periodically over the course of the evening. Fred and Gunn seemed oblivious to his tension, alternating research with playful arguments over who had last changed baby Amelia. Connor, if he was aware of anything other than the video game he was playing, gave no sign of it.

After another two hours of unproductive effort, Angel sighed with frustration. He pushed away from the desk, deciding that maybe physical activity would be a better choice for releasing some of the tension coiled up inside him. When he left the room, both Cordelia and Lorne watched him with questioning eyes.

Over the next hour or so after Angel left, the rest of the AI team gradually disbanded. Lorne had a gig at a nearby club, Cordelia was off to do laundry and Conner went off to do whatever it was he did with his evenings. Gunn had gone to put Amelia to bed, leaving Fred to finish any last bits of research and put away the files.

Retrieving a small stack of papers from the printer, Fred made her way to Angel’s desk where she had left several case files earlier that afternoon. The yellow legal pad of paper caught her eye and she paused, picking it up and flipping through the various pages in bemused surprise.

She had heard that Angel was somewhat of an artist, drawing or sketching occasionally, but she had never really seen any of his work. He was too private or perhaps too modest to really show any of his drawings to anyone else. The various quick sketches of the woman he had drawn were remarkable, the lines simple and elegant. His talent was obvious, as was the apparent feelings of reverence he seemed to have for his subject. The woman he had drawn was beautiful, smiling slightly in one sketch, looking impish in another, gazing sadly though a smoky cloud in yet another.

Fred glanced at all the figures, nearly blushing when she reached the last picture. It was the same woman as all of the others, only in this sketch she was lying on a bed, nude. Despite the simplicity of the drawing, it was a sensual picture, as if the woman were waiting for her lover.

Suddenly feeling as if she had somehow violated Angel’s privacy, Fred hurriedly placed the pad of paper in the back of his desk drawer and slammed it shut. She looked around guiltily. As the initial panic dissipated, she wondered if perhaps Angel was having an affair. The woman wasn’t someone she recognized, and yet the drawings suggested an obviously intimate association.

With a worried frown, the brunette toyed with the handle on the drawer. She was truly fond of Angel and wanted him to be happy but she also felt a sense of loyalty to Cordelia; ever since returning from Pylea, the seer had been her only female friend, willingly offering her support and tips on how to improve her appearance…But Angel…Angel was the one who had rescued her. If Gunn were having an affair and Cordelia knew, she’d want Cordelia to tell her, right? On the other hand, Cordelia would make everyone at AI miserable, especially Angel, if she found out that he had been drawing likenesses of other women even if just in absent-minded doodles.

Fred chewed her lower lip for few more minutes while she considered what she should do. Finally she opened the drawer again and withdrew the pad. She’d ask Angel about it later and insist that he tell Cordelia the truth if there was something to tell. If there was nothing to tell, then Angel could do what he wished with the sketches. Either way, there was no sense in risking Cordelia finding these just yet.

Tucking the pad carefully between two files, Fred stuck all of the items in her desk. She locked the drawer then pocketed the key before making her way up stairs.

————————————————————-

After an hour of practicing various martial arts, Angel hit the shower then the street. He crept quietly out of the hotel, avoiding everyone in hopes that he could get his head on straight before he was confronted with the inevitable barrage of questions for which he had no answers.

He wandered aimlessly for a while before detecting the scent of fresh blood. The smell led him into an alley where, after only a brief search, he found the body of a woman. She had, unfortunately, been a vampire’s recent meal. With senses now on full alert, Angel opened the door of the building at the end of the alley, the only other exit that the vampire could have taken without having passed Angel on the street.

The first thing that struck him when he opened the door was the cold. The building was an old and somewhat dilapidated ice rink. The lights, however, were on but the place appeared to be largely deserted. Or so he thought.

As if on some unspoken cue, music began to play softly from a portable stereo set up on the edge of the rink. Angel stealthily moved closer just as a blonde woman skated across the ice with grace and poise. Her petite blonde figure drew his eye, her size and coloring reminiscent of a certain Sunnydale Slayer.

Dropping back in the shadows to avoid being seen, Angel watched mesmerized as she performed her routine, his search for the vampire temporarily forgotten.

The girl laughed as she completed a short jumping turn and looked over her shoulder.

Angel followed her gaze, noticing for the first time the dark haired man waiting for her on the edge of the rink. He was smiling at her in response to her laugh.

As the song ended, she skated over to the waiting man, laughing again as he caught her in his arms and swung her around before he bent to kiss her.

Now feeling like an interloper, Angel averted his eyes and resumed his search for the vampire that he suspected was still lurking nearby.

As he moved through the shadows the girl’s soft murmur triggered a memory, and Angel found himself thinking back to the time when he had taken Buffy ice skating all those years ago. He had been beyond worried when the man that had attacked her had turned out to be an assassin from the Order of Taraka. But Buffy’s concern had only been for him and for the superficial cut over his eye. He had attempted to turn away from her worried face, ashamed of his demonic visage, but she had tenderly turned him back to face her as she trailed her fingertips gently over the ridges that proclaimed his primal nature before pressing her lips to his, indifferent to his demonic countenance.

Angel paused and closed his eyes, letting the distant memory of her kiss take over. Her kisses had been so sweet, so eager. She had explored his fangs with her tongue, tentatively at first, testing their sharpness and then, with a small breathy moan, she had passionately possessed his mouth. There had been no hesitation, no revulsion, no fear, only hot, eager, and wet kisses while she tenderly caressed the contours of his face, the ridges in his brow.

The memory was in direct contrast to Cordelia’s words that Buffy had hated his demon’s face, had been disgusted by his kisses – complaining that she often expected him to taste of blood. His thoughts shifted to Cordelia; *she* avoided him when he was in game face. In fact, she had told him once not to come near her while he looked ‘like that’. The contrast between their responses was startling and abrasive, like a shock of icy water being dashed into his face. His eyes opened with a start.

Before he could come to any conclusions regarding his ruminations, a flash of movement caught his attention. Any further thoughts about the Slayer would have to wait. Angel spied the vampire he had been searching for slipping silently out the door. Moving quickly and noiselessly through the darkened rink, he spared one more thoughtful glace at the couple, now holding hands and making their way off the ice.

Outside the ice rink, Angel quickly and efficiently captured and dispatched the rogue vampire without a sound. The souled vampire turned and walked away before the dust of the slain demon had even completely settled on the ground.

————————————————————-

With bored indifference Connor lay on his bed and flipped through the leather bound journal that he had stolen from the old man’s hotel room the night before. He wasn’t particularly interested in reading the neatly penned entries, preferring visual stimulation to the effort required to make sense of the various words.

His eyes widened in surprised interest when he flipped the next page back to reveal a photograph. Picking up the picture, he studied it carefully. It was a group shot, apparently taken at a birthday party as evidenced by the balloons and the party hat worn by one girl in the picture.

Connor recognized Angel and Cordelia immediately, but the others were unfamiliar. A petite blonde stood in front of his father, cheeks flushed and smiling happily, her arms resting on his, which encircled her waist. Angel himself was smiling slightly, his expression almost mischievous as if he might have been whispering something to make the girl blush just before the picture had been taken. On one side of them stood a red haired girl in a party hair smiling brightly along with a guy with reddish-blond hair and a straight-faced expression. On the other side of his father and the girl stood a guy with dark hair and a goofy grin and Cordelia, the only one of the group that didn’t appear to be having a good time. Her expression was pursed and somewhat envious, her eyes looking toward the couple in the center of the picture rather than at the camera.

The only thing written on the back of the picture was a date: January 1998.

Connor rolled over on his back on the bed, holding the picture out in front of him. He’d never really seen his father looks so … happy, almost playful. Who was the tiny blonde? Was she the Buffy that Angel and the old man had been arguing about? She seemed so … small. Angel’s once spoken words to him once echoed through his mind… But then I got stuck in a hell dimension by my girlfriend one time for a hundred years, so three months under the ocean actually gave me perspective. Could she really have been the girlfriend that had sent the vampire to a hell dimension?

It was just after ten pm, and Angel had been in the training room when Connor had come up the stairs, but he’d seen his father’s black GTX leave the hotel not long ago.

Taking the picture and the journal, Connor crept quietly along the hallway to the rooms that his father and Cordelia shared. As he pushed open the door, he could hear the sounds of Cordelia humming and singing along with some song on the radio. He smiled.

Silently, Connor made his way into the bedroom. The dyed blonde seer was facing away from him, folding the laundry that she had dropped on the bed. He tiptoed up behind her and gave her a nipping kiss on the back of her neck. Cordelia swung around and nearly knocked the young man backward in her surprise.

“Connor!” The former brunette hissed, glancing at the door nervously.

“What?” Connor grinned, enjoying her nervousness.

“You know we can’t be in here. Together.” Cordelia glanced anxiously at the door again, her voice low and irritated.

Snatching the wispy lace panties out of her hand, Connor held them up to his lips. “So? He’s not here. He went out again.”

Cordelia snatched her panties back from his hand, a disgruntled expression on her face. “Even so, you know we shouldn’t meet here.”

Connor shrugged, unconcerned. He sat down on the bed and watched her as she moved around the room, putting away her clean clothing.

Cordelia snapped off the radio. Angel was quiet enough; she didn’t need the additional interference of the radio if she wanted a chance at hearing him return.

After a few minutes, Connor suggested with a smirk, “Hey – why don’t you put those flowers that he hates so much in here? He’ll stay away and then I can *come* more often.”

The dyed blonde seer rolled her eyes at Connor who was grinning heartily at his own pun. After a brief pause, she shook her head and laughed. “Well, he does go out of his way to avoid them, that’s for sure. You’d think they were crosses and the vase was full of holy water or something.”

Laughing in reply, Connor leaned back on one elbow on the bed. He held up the book that he had brought with him. Mischievously, he grinned at her. “Look what I took from the old man.”

“What is it? And what old man?” Cordelia glanced at the object uncertainly, her fears not completely assuaged at being alone with Connor in the room that she and Angel shared. She was, however, unable to disguise the curiosity in her voice. “Giles? Did you take that from Giles?”

“I dunno. I guess. It’s some book. But look at this. It was in the book.” Pulling the picture out of the book, Connor held it out for her inspection.

Fluffing her hair and applying a fresh coat of lipstick, Cordelia glanced at Connor in the mirror. When she finished, she crossed the room to look at the picture.

“Oh, god. Look at me.” Cordelia studied her outfit, her hair. She looked… perfect. The only thing that was perhaps not perfect was the expression on her face, and for that she could blame Giles. He had obviously taken the picture when she was not quite ready.

“Who’s she?” Connor asked, pointing at Buffy.

“Nobody. She’s nobody.” Lifting her nose in the air and sniffing slightly, Cordelia jerked her arm back when Connor made to grab the picture back from her. She shot him an irritated glance and then looked back at the paper image.

“Really. Does nobody have a name?” Connor prodded, wanting to confirm the identity of the girl in his father’s arms.

“Buffy.” Cordelia sneered, compressing her lips and looking at him with annoyance. She held the photograph protectively, glowering down at the image of her boyfriend’s arms wrapped around her former rival.

“Buffy, huh?” Connor snatched the picture out of her hand, his quick speed rivaling his father’s, and looked at her bemused grin.

“Yes, Buffy. Buffy the vampire slayer.” The words came out in a mocking fashion, Cordelia unable to hide her feelings of envy and loathing for the blonde Slayer. “Vampire layer, more like.” The last she uttered under her breath but Connor heard, his acute sense of hearing yet another thing he had inherited from his demon parents.

“Slayer, huh?” Connor looked back at the picture, his interest even more piqued. Holtz had taught him a lot of things about vampires, including the fact that there existed a Slayer. One girl in all the world chosen to slay vampires. Yet, here she stood with a vampire’s arms wrapped around her.

” *Vampire* slayer.” Cordelia sniffed. Buffy may be the vampire slayer, but *she*, Cordelia, was the slayer when it came to men and to dating. She’d even said as much to the diminutive blonde once, specifically in regards to Angel. And well, Angel was here with her now… which only proved that Cordelia Chase was always right.

“So, uh, he knew that right?”

“Who? Angel?” Cordelia sat on the bed, annoyed with her young lover’s persistence. “Yes, of course he did.”

“And she knew he’s a vampire?” Connor’s tone was incredulous; the facts revealed about his father’s past were surprising.

“Duh. Yes.” Cordelia rolled her eyes as she crossed her legs provocatively, her eyes critically assessing their long length revealed by the short skirt and finding no flaws.

Connor looked at her from the corner of his eye and added slyly, “She’s hot.” Knowing Cordelia as he did, the statement was a deliberate attempt to provoke her into revealing more information about the girl in the picture.

“What?! What are you talking about? She is so not hot. Look at the hair. And that outfit. That is so not hot.” Cordelia stated indignantly, daring Connor to contradict her.

Connor sat the picture and journal aside, unaware of the letters that fell out of the book to the floor, dropping between the night table and the bed unnoticed. Taking Cordelia’s hands in his hands, he pulled her down to him.

“She’s not … as beautiful … as you.” Between kisses, he reassured her firmly of her appeal. When Cordelia softened, he wrapped his arms around her and rolled her beneath him, continuing to whisper soothing words of flattery and devotion to her.

“Connor! Have you lost your mind?” Despite her fears of being caught, Cordelia was beyond flattered that her young lover was so insistent. She loved the fact that he acted like he was starved for her affections, that he could wait no longer to be with her, to make love to her.

“I can’t wait.” Pressing impatient kisses to her face and hair, Connor worked at the buttons on her shirt. Cordelia’s hands slipped under the t-shirt that he wore, tugging it over his head as he slipped her shirt back over her shoulders. She pressed kisses to his chest as his hands unhooked the bra that she wore. She shivered with desire when he tossed it aside, his hands greedily cupping the mounds of flesh as he lowered his head to take one hard peak in his mouth.

With growing excitement, Cordelia unbuttoned Connor’s pants and pushed them down his hips. He groaned with delight when her hand traced his erection. Urgently he pulled off her skirt, tearing it in his haste. He traced a path along her hips reverently with his hands before following with his lips. Removing her lacy undergarments, he buried his face between her legs, lapping at her damp flesh as she had taught him.

When Connor moved over her, his eyes dark with passion that would wait no longer, Cordelia felt a surge of power course through her. She had control of him. She pulled his head down to hers, meeting his lips in a hungry kiss.

Like always, the passion between them burned hot, anxious and demanding. She grabbed his hips, guiding him harder, faster. Connor obediently followed her lead, reaching between their bodies to pluck at the sensitive flesh between her legs the way she had shown him.

Cordelia sighed as she felt the stirrings of her orgasm. She wrapped her legs around his waist and reached down to guide the movements of his hand on her body. Even after three years, Connor wasn’t quite as skilled in the carnal arts as his father, but his eagerness to please her and his warm body heat beat out the feel of Angel’s cool skin against hers any day.

It wasn’t long before she cried out, Connor following soon after, collapsing on top of her.

Lazily the couple drowsed on the bed, sated and content. Connor stroked Cordelia’s bare flesh, enjoying the feel of her skin. Making love to her in the bed she shared with Angel had been even better than he had ever imagined. How he’d love to see his father’s face now. Connor grinned in delight envisioning his father’s pained expression.

Glancing at Cordelia, his thoughts returned to their earlier conversation. He still wanted to know about more about the girl in the picture. What had she been to Angel?

Rolling on his side, Connor kissed Cordelia’s shoulder. She smiled. Her eyes were still closed as she turned over onto her stomach so that he could rub her back.

“You’re amazing.” He whispered softly, a smile in his voice. His hand moved lightly up and down her back, soothing and massaging with firm, sure strokes.

“Really?” Cordelia murmured into the pillow groggily.

“I don’t know how *Dad* leaves you alone. I’d never even leave the bed with you here.” Forcing the bitterness out of his voice, Connor continued stroking along Cordelia’s bare back. He wasn’t completely successful though and the word “Dad” came out sarcastic and sharp.

“Me either. But when duty calls he does go running.” She muttered, glowering resentfully into the pillow even as she sighed with pleasure.

“Yeah, well. He’s not real smart.” Connor replied resentfully.

“Um… I guess.” Cordelia murmured in reply, enjoying Connor’s attentions, his warm hands stroking her back.

Pushing away the unsavory thoughts of his father with his love, Connor returned his attention to her. “You’re skin, it’s so smooth, so perfect. You smell so good.” He murmured as he nuzzled the nape of her neck, pressing his lips to her bared skin. “Your hair. It’s so soft.”

Connor lifted his head and reached for the picture still on the table near the bed.

“Why’d you change the color of your hair?” Connor probed, pensively considering how he was going to extract the information that he wanted from his lover.

“I dunno. I just wanted to I guess.” Cordelia replied hesitantly. She’d never admit that she had done it because she had believed that Angel preferred blondes. That it would improve her chances to attract – and keep – his interest.

Connor glanced at the photo again an idea forming. A slow cunning smile crossed his face. “You know, it looks kinda like hers does in this picture. You know, the blonde. What was her name again? Buffy?”

Cordelia rolled quickly and whipped her head to look at her, her eyes ablaze with anger. “It does not. I am nothing like that tramp. Nothing. She’s nothing. A nobody.”

“Sorry, sweet. You know I didn’t mean it like that.” Connor schooled his features to innocence, looking appropriately chastised.

“Fine.” Cordelia sniffed, somewhat mollified. After a few moments, she allowed him to pull her back down against him and she nestled against his shoulder.

“So… did he date her or what?” Connor asked, once more pondering the picture.

“Christ, Connor. What are you so fucking interested in Buffy all the sudden?” Cordelia snapped, this time rolling off the bed and reaching for her clothes, old jealousies and insecurities rushing to the forefront. “Yes. He dated her. Hell, he even fucked her. Is that what you wanted to know?”

Craftily, Connor watched Cordelia dress, her movements jerky in her anger. He knew he could provoke her to say things in anger that she might otherwise attempt to suppress. He shrugged when she stopped to look at him, her brows lifting in question.

“Just curious. I’ve never seen *Dad* look like this before. Like… happy.”

“Happy my ass! That’s a laugh. Happy?! That little slut cost him his soul. Then she sent him to a hell dimension. Ask him about it sometime – I’m sure he’ll say he was *real* happy.” Cordelia scathingly retorted.

Connor remembered a vague statement that he’d overheard the night before while listening through the hotel room door, something the old man said about the girl’s love being the thing that had extracted Angel from hell. “So what? He got out outta hell and came here?”

“Yes. No. Well, not right away.” Frustrated, Cordelia crossed her arms over her chest. “Look, the whole Buffy and Angel story goes like this… they met, they fucked, Angel lost his soul and killed half the senior class while slay-gal Buffy did nothing. She just didn’t have the skills to kill him.” Smugly, she crossed her arms across her chest, revealing the past as she liked to remember it.

“She did send him to hell, he got out and they tried round two. Of course, they couldn’t exactly do *anything* since he was cursed and all. There was this one moment of true happiness thing – and so he finally wised up and realized that she was a worthless piece of nobody, so he dumped her and came to LA. With me.” Cordelia preened, smoothing a hand over her hair as she told Connor the story the way she would have liked for it to have been.

“Of course, that was after she pathetically tried to keep him in Sunnydale. Faith shot him with a poison arrow and Buffy forced him to feed off of her.”

Connor sat up from his reclining position on the bed at Cordelia’s words. He inhaled slowly, raking his fingers through his hair as his every nerve stood on end. “He… fed off of her? I didn’t think he … ate … humans anymore.”

“Yes, he fed off her. Left a nasty scar too.” The disgust was obvious in her voice as Cordelia pulled on her skirt, frowning at the tear in the waistband. Stripping it off, she moved toward the closet. “I hear she told people it was an angry puppy. You think Angel would like being called an angry puppy?” Laughing slightly, she perused the items hanging in the closet.

Connor sat motionless, his form tense as she stared back at his lover. Angel had bit the girl, fed off her and she had survived? She was scarred now, as in marked? Marked meant mate. Holtz taught him many things about vampires; first and foremost was how to find their weakness. A mate was almost always a weakness. And regardless of what he felt for her now, vampires, like most demons, tended to take only one mate for life…

Cordelia selected a new dress from the closet and pulled it on before turning back to look at the young man still sitting on the bed.

Even though he hadn’t said a word, Connor’s obvious tension irritated Cordelia sending her temper flaring. “Before you go all vampire folklore on me about ‘he marked her’ let me tell you something – it meant nothing. Absolutely nothing. Nada. Zip. Zero. Zilch. Noth-thing. He was sick and she forced him. It was just an instinct. Any warm body would have done just as well. She was just trying to be all noble and self-sacrificing. If it would have meant *anything* to him he would have stayed. But he didn’t. He left. He ditched her and he never even looked back.”

Connor nodded slowly intending to agree with her to keep her pacified as he mulled over her words, but his brow lifted skeptically.

Stomping forward, Cordelia snapped her fingers in Connor’s face, drawing his attention back to her. “Hey! If he wanted her, then why isn’t he with her now? Do you see her here? No? Has Angel ever mentioned her except once in complaint? No. Angel’s with me now. He loves me.” She raged at her young lover’s reluctant agreement, her voice loud and angry.

Connor suppressed his own jealousy and hurt at Cordelia’s words. He hated sharing her with Angel and hated hiding their relationship. *They* belonged together. Not she and Angel. And he hated even more that she didn’t seem to acknowledge that. That she kept telling him that they needed to wait until the Powers told her that her job was done.

Cordelia went on ranting, unaware or perhaps unconcerned that she was stomping on her young lover’s feelings. “He loves me more than he ever loved her. Did he take care of her after the giant snake thingy that almost ate us? No, he held me and walked me home. Did he go to help her fight when she fought a hell god and died? No, he saved me from an alternate dimension. Angel loves me.”

Connor’s eyes focused on Cordelia’s face with curious speculation. So the girl was dead now. Strange. The old man had talked like she was still alive. He sat the picture aside and rolled off the bed, pulling on his pants. Padding across the room, he attempted to take her in his arms. “Of course he loves you. I love you. Who wouldn’t?”

After a few moments of annoyed resistance, Cordelia capitulated and slid into his arms. After another brief pause, she returned his hug. “You’re so sweet.” In the next moment, she pushed out of his arms and began adjusting the coverings on the bed.

“Damn it. We should never have done it in here. He’ll know.” Cordelia muttered, glowering down at the telltale evident wet spot on the bed.

Connor shrugged indifferently and retrieved his shirt from the floor. He resented the fact that they continued to hide their love, but he had to admit that there was something enjoyable about putting one over on his father. “So? He should know.”

“Connor.” Cordelia quickly replied, wiping at the coverlet, a frown still marring her features. She glanced up at him, her expression stern. “We’ve talked about this before. Not yet. ”

“I know.” Connor sighed resignedly. His head turned to Cordelia at the sounds of tearing paper. He resisted the urge to rip the picture she was shredding out of her hand. No matter, he studied it enough to have committed their faces to memory.

“I wish she would just stay dead. Other people do, but no, not Buffy slay gal.” Cordelia muttered, as she torn the picture one last time, ensuring that Buffy’s face was neatly ripped in two. She swept the pieces up and made for the trash, unaware that two small remnants fluttered to the floor behind her.

Connor glanced at Cordelia in surprise. So the girl wasn’t dead? But Cordelia would prefer that she was… He smiled, a cruel and sadistic smile, knowing then what he needed to do.

Regardless of what the vampire felt for her now, a vampire’s mate was a mate eternally. The emotional bond would still be there and it would still be painful when it was ultimately and brutally severed. He could envision the pain and anguish on Angel’s face when he returned to Los Angeles with the girl’s blood on his hands. It would be a small measure of retribution for each time he had to watch as his father touched or kissed his love – *his* mate – however benignly, for each time he had heard Cordelia’s cries of pleasure while in his father’s bed…

He’d show Angel – and Cordelia – that he was more powerful than his vampire father. More of a man than Angel could or ever would be. Surely Cordelia would no longer deny their love if he offered her proof that he loved her, offered her something that Angel had not or would not. And it would be the ultimate revenge on his father for all the wrongs the vampire had committed, for what he had done to Holtz’s family.

Now, just how to get to Sunnydale…

————————————————————-

Quietly Angel made his way to his room, creeping past the sleeping Cordelia and into the bathroom, his arm tucked tightly against his waist and cradling his left side gingerly. His ribs were cracked, probably broken and his left arm fared no better. The gash across his cheek had finally stopped bleeding although the swelling had yet to show signs of diminishing.

After the vampire at the ice rink, he’d essentially gone on patrol, something he hadn’t done in years – something he hadn’t really done since he and Buffy had patrolled in Sunnydale. Patrol wasn’t something the AI team did; their demon fighting efforts relied almost solely on clients that walked through their doors and brought cases to them or on Cordelia’s visions. This left, as Angel found out earlier tonight, a large demon population pretty much untouched in the Los Angeles area.

Angel had taken out four more vampires after the one outside the old ice rink, including one that had surprisingly been one of Spike’s former minions, and later, two nests of demons, the last of which had contained three large reptilian creatures that proved rather cantankerous and difficult and had resulted in Angel’s new and colorful wounds.

As he shrugged out of his shirt, the effort brought forth a groan, an animal sound low and guttural as the subtle movement shifted his waist, shoulder and arm. He clenched his teeth against the pain as the sensation reached his brain and he forced a breath though his lungs in deep exhale to stave off the ache. Leaning over, he started the shower. As he waited for the water to warm, his thoughts drifted back to his encounter with Lenny, Spike’s former minion.

The vampire had been a surprise, in more ways than one. Angel hadn’t realized any of them had survived the day that he had been sent to hell, much less survived and returned to LA, so to find one hanging around was like a bolt from out of the blue. Although, the minion had been equally surprised to see him, bowing down immediately on recognition – or rather the perception – that he had encountered Angelus. The minion sputtered his praise for Angelus and offered his allegiance, before babbling something about the day he, Angelus, had been sent to hell.

“Master? You’re out of hell. How’d ya – what – how?” the minion sputtered in surprise and then a slow sadistic smile lit his face. “She couldn’t leave ya there could she?”

It was only that utterance that gave Angel pause in delivering the staking blow.

“What… are you talking about?” Angel had asked, that day much on his own mind of late.

“Just… just that the Slayer – she dropped to he knees and cried. I coulda taken her out, but I knew you’d want that pleasure. Ya know, when you got back and all…” The minion lied, hoping to placate Angelus rather than admit that he had been afraid to attempt to take out the girl, both because he’d watched her fighting prowess and because her physically wracking sobs of grief had frightened him.

“I was gonna save you, boss, I was, but it was too late. I high-tailed it outta there and came to LA. But, damn, it was only a coupla days before she was here too so I took off for South America. Huntin’s real good in South America.” The minion grinned stupidly, unaware of Angel’s cold stare or the stake in his hand.

“Here? LA? The slayer was in LA?” Angel questioned, wanting to confirm the identity of the she in question.

“Yeah. She was a little overweight and all, but it was the same girl. She was living in some dump off 3rd and West. I’da recognized her anywhere. So what now, boss?” The minion was relieved that he’d come across a master. He’d be able to live in the master’s lair now instead of on the streets, Angelus always one to provide for his own – and in grand style. The minion was fairly salivating at the idea, his life looking to improve drastically. No more meals of rats on the streets, no more hiding out… Once more Lenny grinned idiotically.

“Well, what happens now is that I need to introduce you to…” Swiftly driving the stake into the vampire’s heart, Angel had easily dusted the unsuspecting minion. “my stake. You had to go and insult her, didn’t you? And it was going so well up to that point.” Dusting off his hands, Angel had moved on into the darkness of the alley in search of his next prey.

Stepping into the warm spray of the shower, Angel winced again, the force of the water seemingly powerful against his tender ribs. The thought turned over yet again in his mind…

If Buffy had been in LA, then how could she have been in Sunnydale bragging about sending him to hell?

Angel didn’t really believe in fate or coincidence or luck but a fragment of Irish superstition still existed beneath any common sense and he began to suspect that Giles’s visit had triggered a chain of events to which the end has not yet been seen.

Stepping out of the shower and drying off, Angel wrapped the towel around his waist and retrieved the medical kit from under the sink. Normally he would have asked for Cordelia’s help in tending his wounds, but this time the thought didn’t even cross his mind.

As he unrolled the cotton bandage, he could see another time in his minds eye…

//He watched her hungry intensity as she gently smoothed a bandage over the wound that Spike had inflicted during the ritual. He wanted her so badly he ached with it and being a gentlemen was beginning to wear on his control. “Why do you bother?” he asked, nodding toward the white gauze she’d wrapped around his wound. “It’s not like I’m going to get an infection.”

“Because it makes me feel better,” she murmured, kissing the back of his palm. “I almost lost you. Indulge me.”

He tilted her chin slightly, staring into her luminous green gaze. “Always,” he promised, and bent to lay a tender kiss on her trembling lips.//

Angel shook himself from the old memory and determinedly saw to his present day injuries. After he had wrapped his ribs tightly and taped up the cut on his face, he entered the bedroom.

The light was on yet Cordelia was nowhere to be seen. She had apparently gotten up sometime while he had been in the shower. With unquestioned relief, he pulled on a pair of black sweats. Just as he was painfully pulling a t-shirt over his head, he heard a small gasp from behind him.

“There you are. Where have you been?” Cordelia eyed him critically before crossing the room to stand in front of him.

“Out.” Angel straightened the bottom of his shirt and looked down at her.

“Oh my god. Look at you. Your face. What happened?” Anxiously the dyed blonde traced him with her eyes, searching for any further signs of damage.

“Ran into a few vampires last night.” Angel turned away, noting for the first time the subtle scent of arousal in the room. Even if she might be interested in sex, he certainly wasn’t. He was close to exhaustion from the sheer physical exertions during the night, and his ribs were aching painfully; on top of it all, his mind was still in disarray.

“A vampire did that to your face?” Cordelia replied skeptically, cocking her head to one side.

“There might have been a few demons too.” He turned away from her then, his thoughts focused on acquiring the necessary sustenance before he could collapse into bed.

She grabbed his arm, effectively stopping him from leaving the room. When he looked back at her in question, she cocked her eyebrow and asked, “A few?”

“Seven, nine. Something like that,” he patiently replied, forcefully reminding himself that she might really have been worried. Glancing at the door, he expected to see his son appear as he could also detect Connor’s scent in the room.

“That’s not a few! You can’t just go out by yourself all the time. I worry. We all worry. Angel, what is up with you these days? You’ve been acting weird ever since ….” Cordelia trailed off, suddenly uncertain about bringing up anything Buffy or Sunnydale related. She considered suddenly that there was, in fact, some truth to the old adage “ignorance is bliss”.

Angel quirked a brow at her, waiting.

“Well, since the other day.” She finished feebly, looking away from his too-perceptive eyes.

Hugging her gently with his right arm, Angel sighed. “I’ve had a lot on my mind. I’m sorry. Now I’ve got to get some food, then sleep. We’ll talk later okay?” He kissed her temple lightly then made his way out of the room to the kitchen.

Cordelia watched him go with slightly nervous eyes. He appeared to be, well, brooding again. And brooding usually meant Buffy, and that usually meant trouble. Giles’s visit had been too coincidental. She needed to find out why Giles had been there… maybe Connor knew more than he had said. And how had he known where to find Giles anyway? Frowning, she contemplated her earlier conversation with her young lover. She needed to talk to him. Purposefully, she made her way to Connor’s room.

————————————————————-

Angel quickly finished off two packets of blood, anxious to restore his strength, and made his way back upstairs. He sat on the edge of the bed and stretched his arm, gingerly testing his arm and ribs for signs of healing. The pain was lessening, which was a good indication that his preternatural healing ability was beginning to show its signs.

Once again the mingling scents in the room assaulted his senses. Cordelia’s scent was familiar and expected, but combined with Connor’s and in his bed was puzzling and … annoying. Irritably Angel stood and jerked the duvet off the bed, flinging it into the corner of the room. He flinched in pain as the sudden wrenching movement strained his tender injuries.

He stood still for a moment, staring at the twisted bulk of material as he waited for the throbbing ache began to lessen. With a sudden realization it occurred to him that this wasn’t the first time he’d detected the combined scents of Connor and Cordelia; but it had been the first time they’d been so strong in this room.

Angel’s eyes narrowed as a piece of the puzzle dropped into place. With immediate and sharp clarity he realized then that he’d been fooling himself these last few years; the mingled scents meant only one thing. He hadn’t allowed himself to even consider it much less believe it because it would mean that he would have to face up to the truth… Cordelia had obviously lied to him about her “one time only” sexual liaison with his son.

More disturbing to his peace of mind however, was the other truth that he needed to face: the fact that the realization didn’t seem to bother him as it had at one time. Reluctantly, he acknowledged that his feelings for Cordelia were strangely akin to his demon’s feelings for Darla, or even Druscilla. Angelus had cared very little about either of their bedmates, as long as it wasn’t an inconvenience for him.

Only Buffy had brought out the other side of both his and his demon’s nature, the one he knew to be innately jealous and possessive. Just the mere thought of her sharing her days with Xander had driven him crazy with jealously…

He knew then that he never loved Cordelia as he had been expected to and he never would.

Dismissively, Angel turned back to the bed and climbed under the covers. He laid back and closed his eyes, putting all thought out of his mind. There was time enough later to deal with all of it; right now he needed rest. Within minutes he fell into an exhausted sleep.

The dream began much as it had the previous night. He was walking the streets of LA with a purpose, clearly seeking something or someone. The tall brick building was the same, as were all the people that he passed. As before, they watched him and whispered, but he continued past them until he stopped in front of the building.

He opened the nondescript door between the small blue lights and went inside, pushing his way through the crowded room. Since he’d been here before, even if it had been a dream, he wasted no time in looking at the other women dancing along the sides of the club in their various gilded cages. Instead, he worked his way toward the end of the club, to the unknown woman that had haunted his waking thoughts. His steps slowed as he approached the cage.

This cage was just as he had remembered it, the base and top appeared to be glass covered with tiny white crystals, sparkling like a pristine snow bank on a sunny winter day. The bars of the cage were clear and thick. On closer inspection, they appeared to be ice. A blue light illuminated the girl inside. The crowd around him parted easily and ultimately disappeared, leaving him alone with the blonde dancer.

Just as before, the girl inside the cage was facing away from him. She was wearing white knee high boots and a tiny blue skirt that hung low on her hips, barely covering the rounded curve of her behind. Her long blonde hair effectively hid her back, as she dropped her head back and swayed to the music.

The girl was an irresistible lure and Angel drew closer. His mouth was dry as he watched her dance, her movements sure and seductive. She turned and his eyes swept over her again, starting at her feet. Her thighs were tan and strong, her abdomen firm. A diamond winked at him from her navel. Her rounded breasts threatened to spill out of the tiny bikini top that held them. His eyes traveled up her body with hungry anticipation. When they reached her face, he gasped. Buffy.

Her eyes locked with his through the bars. Her lips curved into a smile as she continued to move, lifting her hair and letting it spill across her shoulders seductively. Watching him under the thick veil of her lashes, her hips rocked side to side and her arms lifted again, gracefully, reaching out for him. She danced only for him, her eyes locked on his, her every movement subtly seducing him.

Desire poured through him, insistent and powerful. He wanted her more than he remembered wanting anything in his life. He moved closer.

The outline of her hard nipples could now be seen through the thin material of her top. He watched with her hot and interested eyes as her fingers traced the outline of her body, sliding along her breasts and down her stomach to rest on her thighs as she undulated her lower body suggestively. When her hands skimmed up her stomach and reached for the tie to her top that was teasingly between her breasts, he nodded slightly as if to answer her unasked question, his eyes flicking up to hers for the briefest second before returning to watch her fingers with eager anticipation.

Angel swallowed hard when the small scrap of material drifted to the ground and stared at the perfection of her breasts, the taut rosy nipples. He wanted to touch them, to taste them. He wanted to suckle them until she begged him to stop. He stepped closer, his eyes scanning the bars and searching for a way to get her out of the small cage. He growled in frustration, there was no door. He yanked on one of the bars, ignoring the sting of ice so cold it burned. It wouldn’t budge.

Buffy dropped to her knees and leaned forward, reaching an arm through the bars. Her fingertips grazed his cheek. They were cold. He caught her hand and held it to his lips, his chocolate gaze locking with her green one.

“Angel.” Her voice was just as he remembered, his name coming from her lips in that same little breathy sigh that she had always used and that had always made him feel so special, so wanted, so loved. The music seemed to fade when Buffy spoke again, her voice a soft whisper. “You know what to believe.”

The music stopped completely and the trappings of the club disappeared. Buffy faded from his sight even as he grasped at air attempting to keep her. At a small sound behind him, he whirled around. The club was empty except for the brunette standing at the other end, a guilty expression on her face. Cordelia.

When he turned back, Buffy was completely gone. The only thing remaining was a faint iridescent shimmer where she had been.

Angel woke and sat up with a gasp.

————————————————————-

Even though it was still early – probably only five or so in the afternoon, Angel swung his legs over the side of the bed. He ran his hands over his face, attempting to clear the remnants of the dream from his mind. His eyes drifted absently around the room, glancing down at the floor when they landed on the papers that had fallen between the bed and the night table.

He retrieved them, mentally reminding himself that he and Cordelia simply had different standards of neat; he was simply used to less excess and more care of his possessions while she tended to leave things strewn about.

He frowned slightly as he turned the papers over in his hand. Three were letters addressed to Giles from someone in England. A slow sense of dread inundated his senses as he looked at the third and last item.

He turned the heavy cream parchment paper over in his hand, reluctantly recalling when he had last seen this same type of paper. His eyes lit on the familiar handwriting, the poem neatly written along the back. Almost against his will, he read the familiar words…

Love not me for comely grace, for my pleasing eye or face,
nor for any outward part, no nor for my constant heart,
for those may fail or turn to ill, So thou and I shall sever.
Keep therefore a true woman’s eye and love me still, but not know why.
So hast thou the same reason still, to dote on me ever.

Angelus had jotted the poem on the sketch of Buffy that he had drawn of her in bed. The night that he had visited her room and had forced her to receive his passionate advances.

Gently Angel unfolded the paper and looked at the picture of Buffy sleeping. His eyes closed in remorse at the demon’s memory. He had watched her sleep for a long while that night and had drawn the picture as a distraction. But afterwards… he had grown impatient.

// Deftly he rolled the blankets back so he could see her unimpeded. She stirred slightly at the loss of the cozy warmth but did not waken. His eyes drifted over her slowly, drinking in every detail. When he finally gave in to the urge to touch her, he could feel the heat radiating from her body even before he lowered his hand completely to rest on her silk covered stomach. Without a second thought, his lips had descended on hers with a demanding hunger, and she responded instinctively to the seductive assault, lifting her chin a scant inch to meet him while a low purring sound came from deep within her throat.

She kissed him eagerly for long minutes, her arms twining around his neck as she welcomed the cool, familiar feel of his lips on hers. Gradually she came fully awake, her eyes opening slowly to meet his and she smiled, the delicate curving of her lips tinged with soft suggestion. Then reality fractured. Her eyes opened wide with fear and panic as the realization that she wasn’t dreaming swept over her. She shoved hard at him, attempting to push him away but he resisted, continuing to loom over her, a feral smile crossing his lips.

He captured both her hands in his and dragged them over her head, holding them firmly against the pillows knowing full well she could have broken his hold. His eyes met hers, daring her to try. He then held a single finger in front of his pursed lips and glanced meaningfully toward the door. The threat was implied, but clear…

“What do you want from me?” She had asked him in a small voice, her emotions clearly crushed and bludgeoned as her dreams shattered into fragments all because of the demon inside of the beautiful man she had fallen in love with.

“What do I want? Hmm… what do I want?” Angelus questioned, mocking her as he ran his fingertips along her cheek, brushing his thumb across her lips before teasingly tracing his fingers along the edge of her top.

“What I want” his teasing expression changed abruptly to one of cold arrogance. He wanted her as he had never wanted a woman, and that bothered him more than he would ever admit. No woman had led him around by the nose – or cock – before, yet this slip of a girl was dangerously close to being able to do just that. “Is another taste of what you so prettily offered…” he paused, considering for a moment before correcting himself, “*begged* me to take the other night.”

“Not you, Angel.” Buffy closed her eyes, a small whimper escaping her lips.

“Oh, I was there lover, never doubt it.”

“Why? You said I wasn’t any good.” She opened her eyes and spat angrily, but it was too late. He had already seen the hurt and shame in her eyes. That night that had been every thing she had every imagined and more, resulting in the most amazing experiences of her young life – and yet, every chance he got he threw it in her face, despoiling the memory and demeaning her.

“I did, didn’t I? Hmm… Let’s just say…” Angelus replied silkily, reaching for the buttons on her top. He delighted in her look of fear, her soft moan of distress and the minute struggles as he revealed her fully to his lust filled gaze. “That from now on you have my full and undivided attention to your … education.”

Buffy moaned softly at his leering suggestion, but the sound was captured by his mouth as he lowered his head once more and kissed her, a deep, heated, intrusive kiss that ate at her mouth. Lifting his head, he nipped at her lips before running his tongue wetly along her bottom lip and sucking it into his mouth. He scraped it with teeth, biting gently and breaking the skin to taste the rich coppery elixir of her blood. He laved at the small wound gently before pressing his lips to hers once more in a primitive kiss of possession, kissing her hard and pushing his tongue into her mouth. Again and again he took her lips, plundering her mouth.

When he finally lifted his head to look down at her face, a single tear escaped the corner of her eye and rolled down toward the pillow. Angelus snaked his tongue out and caught it, relishing in her fear and her submission. His glance slowly drifted down her body and then up again to rest indolently on her full, exposed breasts.

Staring down at her lasciviously, he lifted his hand and ran it over her naked breasts, pinching her nipples with increased pressure, testing her limits. He smiled at her whimper and lowered his mouth to suckle each taut peak in turn. Unconsciously she arched her back, pressing her breast firmly against his mouth as he sucked with forceful pressure. Her head tossed restlessly on the bed and she moaned softly, biting her lip to keep from cry out loud.

Despite her reluctance and her fear, Angelus could feel the rapid beating of her pulse, he could smell the aroma of her arousal and he gave her a leering smile. He ripped the bottoms of her pajamas from her, taking pleasure in the sounds of the rending fabric and the look on her face, her eyes large and darkly green in the dim light.

“Now lover, spread those pretty legs for me.” He growled slightly when she hesitated, and her eyes met his once more. With tears leaking out of her eyes, she slowly parted her legs as Angelus lowered his head and laved at her pulse. To her shame and horror, she turned her head away to give him unrestricted access, as if she were offering her life’s blood to him.

Angelus slid his hand between her legs, chucking when he found her wet and ready for him. His lips traveled up her throat to her ear and he began to whisper shameful things to her, taunting her about her unbridled and obvious lust for a demon. Gliding his hand over her swollen and damp flesh, his expert fingers toyed with her, circling her clit then sliding inside her, bringing her to climax after climax all the while continuing the furtive whispers in her ear of all the things he would do to her, the things he would have her do to him.

When she lay limp and trembling from the orgasms he had unmercifully orchestrated from her, he released her hands and moved in a seeming blur of motion, unbuckling his pants and guiding his rampant erection inside her, plunging into her without care as the pulsing urgency drummed in his ears.

“Angel…” The soft breathy moan had caught him by surprise as he sank into her, his concentration on the feel of her hot clenching channel surrounding his hard cock. The word angered him and he pulled back, grabbing her legs and pushing them back toward her chest so that he could thrust into her harder, deeper. He flexed his hips and slammed into her, fast losing all semblance of control. Abruptly he stopped and sat back on his heels, grabbing her hips and pulling her toward him so that she stayed impaled on his rampant erection. Pushing her legs back and wide, ensuring that she was exposed and vulnerable, he reached between their bodies to run his fingers around the sensitive and distended flesh surrounding him. Buffy whimpered.

“What name did you say, lover?” Angelus asked, his voice touched with anger. His fingers brushed her breasts, pinching each nipple lightly before his moved menacingly back across her engorged clit, stroking firmly and deliberately.

She had stared back at him, her eyes wide. He felt her shiver. Yet even then she resisted the demon, knowing full well that there would be repercussions. “Angel.”

He twisted her clit hard, punishing her for defying him. She bit her lip hard to keep from crying out and waking her mother.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t hear you, Buff.” Once again Angelus prompted her, his hand still hovering threateningly over her highly sensitive nub. “What was that?”

“Angelus.” The word had been so soft that had he been mortal he doubted that we would have heard it. But it had been enough. She had capitulated.

He lifted her legs over his shoulders and drove her hard into the bed, as if sheer strength would somehow free him from his hated obsession with her. When his mouth sought hers again, she wrapped her arms around his neck, sighing softly and stroking the short hair on his nape.

Her touch had been his undoing, and he had slammed into her savagely as the violent, unrestrained pleasure washed over him. When she joined him in climax, crying out softly, he laughed softly in her ear and reminded her to be quiet… she wouldn’t want her mother to hear them and interrupt.

Feverishly he had taken her again and again that night, at the last wrapping his hands in the silken mass of her hair and crushing her against him so tightly he felt her melt into him as he lost himself in uncurbed, intoxicating sensation. Her soft whimpers of pleasure vibrated through every pulsing nerve in his body. The astonishing pleasure of fucking her was unique in his much-explored sexual universe, bringing him an explosive pleasure so shocking, so violent and intense that it rocked his very being, burning through his body with an all-consuming rapture he had never before known. It was a heady sensation, particularly combined with knowing that he could so easily make the reluctant Slayer gasp and cry out his name.

But that alone hadn’t been enough to drive her out of his mind, his heart, his very soul…//

Abruptly, Angel stood and attempted to push away the memory but the masculine triumph that his demon had felt at her submission along with the pleasure he had experienced that night, were seared deeply into his mind, unable to be forgotten and impossible to dismiss. To his shame, he guiltily savored the long buried memory; the pleasure that he had experienced that night nearly unsurpassed in his long existence; in fact, he could only recall two other occasions that were even comparable: the night she had gifted him with her innocence and the day that he had been human, the day that he had given back.

Angel forced his thoughts back to the objects in his hands. How had these things gotten here, in his room? His brow knitted in contemplation as he pulled on his sweats. There had to be a connection to Giles’s visit – but how? Giles was never out of his sight – he couldn’t have planted the letters in his room.

Angel retrieved the key from his pants pocket and padded across the room to his old trunk. When he opened the lid, he frowned as he looked at the contents. From the jumble of items, it appeared that someone had gone through his things. But how? The trunk had been locked. And who?

Angel’s head came up abruptly. Connor. Connor had been in their room recently and undoubtedly, Connor knew how to pick locks. Sighing, he excused Connor’s behavior as curiosity, perhaps even stirred by Giles’s visit. But still, Angel knew he’d have to talk with him. Connor needed to understand that he was to respect Angel’s privacy. Things were locked for a reason.

Angel frowned again as he opened up the small cloth box that had held several of his items from Sunnydale. Several pictures were missing, as was his old address book. Opening the small jewel box last, Angel scowled. His Claddagh ring was also missing.

With controlled anger, Angel put Giles’s letters and the drawing of Buffy in the cloth box and returned it to the trunk, which he closed and locked.

He strode to the closet and stripped off his sweats, dressing in his usual black slacks and a black button up shirt. Despite Cordelia’s attempts to introduce color into his wardrobe, he still gravitated to what he liked best. And right now, black suited his mood.

He washed up quickly in the bathroom, absently raking his brush through his hair followed by a dab of hair gel. He had no idea if the stuff actually worked to control the unruly locks, but it made him feel better at least for trying.

He was just crossing the door on his way out of the room, when a small scrap of paper caught his eye. Reluctantly, he bent to retrieve it wondering what other reminders of his past he might find.

The small photograph scrap turned out to be a partial picture of Willow in a party hat. Angel stared at it pensively, finding it familiar but not completely able to place the occasion. He was certain though, that it hadn’t been one of the photographs missing from his collection. Those photos had all been of Buffy – with one exception – the one of he and Buffy at her senior prom.

Angel sat the torn piece of the picture carefully down on the chest of drawers near the door. He’d worry about it later. Right now, he wanted to have a talk with his son.

When Angel reached Connor’s room, he knocked once, a quick forceful rap, before opening the door. He glanced around the room, but Connor was nowhere in sight. Disgruntled, Angel made his way down stairs.