Rating- pg-13 (violence)
Summary- When Connor takes the wrong portal out of Quortoth, the bewildered members of the original Angel Investigations have to figure out how to deal with it.
Feedback- A definite good.
Timeframe- Early season one Angel (the Doyle episodes) and the season three Connor plot
Disclaimer- I am not Joss Whedon.
Characters- Connor, Angel, Doyle, Cordelia, Kate and probably Lindsey
Author’s note- I started posting this fic almost a year ago on fanfiction.net. It's not finished yet. I'm posting it here to give myself some more incentive to get it done. Right now, I'd say this will be around eight chapters, but noting's for sure.
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Los Angeles, Steven was quickly realizing, was just as dangerous as Quortoth. In Quortoth, you knew what to expect. You could see the monsters. Vampires were a whole new breed to him. Most of the things when he grew up were big scaly and inhuman. But vampires were human monsters. Harder to recognize. Smarter than he was used to.
He didn’t even know there was something wrong until he smelled the blood. He turned off into one of the side alleys and saw the body, lying sprawled across the pavement. Its arm was contorted sticking out at an unnatural angle, the face was pale and looked deceptively peaceful if your dismissed the livid red teeth marks on its neck. The body belonged to a young girl, blonde stringy hair, striking features, she couldn’t have been more than twenty.
Steven heard a sniffling sound and jerked his gaze towards the source.
It was another girl, she looked nearly identical to the older one, only ten years younger. She sniffled again, tears running down her cheek. Steven can smell the salt of them. Almost feel her sadness.
He knelt down next to her. “Are you hurt?”
She had wide hazel eyes with flashes of green, gray, brown and gold. “She’s my sister,” she said and looked away again.
Steven didn’t know how to respond. “Do you have anywhere to stay?”
She didn’t answer. Just looked at him blankly for a moment, tilted her head to the side and said, “you’re not supposed to be here.”
“Monsters here,” she explained. “Monsters made you.” She frowned, saw the body again and started crying. “God, Lacey! I’m sorry! Get it out of my head!”
Steven reached a hand towards her, but she shook it off and raving, “Don’t touch me! You’re an anomaly! You don’t exist! You shouldn’t exist! Son of monster. Shoulda made you a monster. And you were born next year and growed backwards. Out of time. Anomaly. It’s got to snap back. You shouldn’t exist. You shouldn’t be here.” She clutched her hands to her ears. “You think loud but you don’t exist. Paradox. Anomaly.”
“I exist.” Steven said because he didn’t know how to deal with this odd rambling preteen. Something about the situation unnerved him.
She looked up at him and smiled in a sort of vague amusement.
She had blood on her teeth.
Gold in her eyes.
He froze and listened.
No heartbeat. No breathing.
Just a dead little psychic girl who looking at him with angry green-gold eyes.
“You’re not supposed to be here,” she said, standing up, “you’re not supposed to be here and I’m not supposed to be dead, and we’re both just waiting for things to snap back into place. We are both human monsters.”
She attacked, and Steven snapped into autopilot, the stake sliding smoothly into her chest as and the vampire turned to ash.
Her words echoed in his head. Human monsters. We are both human monsters.
When he got back to Angel Investigations. He caught the tale end of a fight saw Doyle putting a stake into a greasy looking vampire as Cordelia watched in amazement. He vaguely remembered Cordelia boasting about a date and how she might not be back tomorrow.
He watched the two of them exchange a few words and then the went inside together, Doyle looking battered and bruised and Cordelia with a uncharacteristically thoughtful grin on her face.
He didn’t get it at all. Didn’t understand either of them. Didn’t trust Cordelia. Didn’t know what to make of Doyle.
And he didn’t follow them in.
Steven had gotten to the point where he’d rather watch than participate in the various happenings of Angel Investigations. Cordelia begun that trend after he’d accidentally killed one of their few customers. Sure the customer had been a demon looking to kill her, but Cordelia had insisted that he should have let the beast live until they got paid.
So instead he watched and listened and noticed the little things that break his world one thing at the time. He watched Cordelia, the one his father (Holtz, a little voice had begun hissing in the back of his mind) had said would lure him in with sweet talk, but she’s loud and oddly blunt and he got the feeling that she enjoyed arguing with him. Angel offered him a place to stay, but had laid no claim to his paternity. And then there was Doyle the perfectly decent human who had ended up in a detective agency with a pair of devils.
Trust your instincts. Holtz’s voice whispered to him in his sleep and he wondered when trusting his instincts had started coming in direct conflict with listening to his father.
He asked Doyle what he was doing with the two of them whenever he gets the chance and no matter what he was always surprised when Doyle would say they were as close to family as he ever had.
“So,” he heard Cordelia say through Angel Investigation’s thin walls, “I've got to kill myself. I swore when I went that road with Xander Harris, I'd rather be dead then date a fixer-upper again. Still, maybe you're right. Maybe Doyle does have-hidden depths. I mean, really, really hidden-but depths. And I'm gonna have to buy him a moccachino to thank him for saving my life, don't you think?”
They were supposed to be plotting the world’s destruction. They were supposed to be the evil demons who had killed his father’s family…
He heard Angel stammering an answer that Cordelia talked right over “Me, too. We'll be back in a half. You watch the phones, okay?” She frowned. “Where’s Steven? Doesn’t he work here?”
Steven flinched and glanced guiltily towards the door and he would have gone in that moment if there hadn’t been a small curly haired women standing nervously in his way.
“I guess he’s late.” Angel said from inside.
“He lives here.”
“He went out on his own. I didn’t stop him.”
“For the record, that probably wasn’t the world’s smartest thing to do.” And even though there wasn’t any malice behind the statement, Steven suddenly felt justified in spying on them.
The women in the doorway, as it turned out was Doyle’s wife. Steven had the odd feeling that it hit him even harder than it hit Cordelia. Because somehow, shaking hands with that curly haired women was betrayal or the worst sort.
Because somehow, the idea had gotten into his head that Doyle was real, Doyle was normal, Doyle was trustworthy. And he could hardly admit it to himself, but he had needed that. Needed the one person he could talk to without constantly watching what he said.
But Doyle had secrets. Just like Angel and Cordelia. Just like he did.
He made an excuse to leave and hardly noticed the man he brushed by on the way out.
He took off, because he didn’t really know what else to do. Stole some food because even if Angel had offered him money, there was no way he would have taken a cent. When it got dark, he started to kill things.
And across town in a law firm called Wolfram and Hart, someone took notice.
He didn’t come back to Angel Investigations until well into the afternoon. Cordelia was the only one currently upstairs. When he eased the door open, she glanced up. “Welcome to Angel Investig… Steven.” Disappointment crossed her face, but she brightened a second later. “You know what? I’m actually glad you’re here.”
Steven blinked. “You are?” His eyes narrowed. “Why?”
Cordelia smiled at him and before he could stop himself, he’d given her a smile back. “Well, you see, I’m going to a friend’s party and we need someone to be here in case we have a customer.”
“We never have customers.”
“You never know,” she said with forced cheer. “This could be our lucky day. Now if someone calls, you pick up the phone—you do know what a phone is, right, Steve?”
Steven stared at her.
“Well, you pick it up and say ‘Angel Investigations, we help the hopeless.’? It’s not rocket science.” She grabbed her purse. “If someone comes in… Try not to scare them too much. Great. That’s covered. Have fun.”
Steven’s mouth dropped and words of protest welled in his throat, but she was gone before he could force them out.
Desk work, as it turned out, was boring as hell. Especially when Angel Investigations had no customers or paperwork to speak of. He gave up on it after only ten minutes and spent a some time looking through one of Angel’s books.
He realized it was his first time alone in the building and his lips curled slowly into a smile. They trusted him now and that knowledge opened up a world of possibilities. Not the least of which was going through Angel’s things for any and all evidence of his true plot. Slowly, he put the book carefully back on the table and moved towards the file cabinets behind Cordelia’s desk. It was as good a place to start as any.
But he didn’t think he’d find anything. The seeds of doubt had been planted in his mind and they whispered blasphemy in his ears his every waking moment. What if Angel really is who he seems? What if Cordelia is just a girl? What if Holtz was wrong about everything?
He couldn’t pinpoint the exact time, but at some point in the last few weeks, Holtz had stopped being father and started just being Holtz. The change didn’t bother him nearly as much as it should have.
“Angel?” an unfamiliar voice called from the doorway. “Cordelia? Doyle? Anyone around?”
Steven scrambled to get back to the desk and managed a smile as the pretty blonde made her way into the office. She paused when she saw him. “I don’t know you,” she said, coloring slightly. “I do have the right building? Angel Investigations?”
“I don’t think I know you,” the lady said awkwardly. “I was just looking for Angel. I could come back later.”
“I work here,” Steven replied, disliking the ease of his of answer… like he belonged here. “I can handle what you need.”
She paused and then allowed him a small smile and for a single wild moment, Steven thought that this might be his true mother, might be Darla come for her illicit affair with Angel. She fit Holtz’s description, smallish, blond…. But then he heard the steady thumping of her heart and knew it couldn’t be true.
The realization left him oddly disappointed. He hated his own weakness.
“So, do you have a name, or are you another one of those shady characters Angel’s always got around.”
“Little of both,” he admitted. “Steven Holtz.”
There was the barest flicker of recognition in her eyes but she covered it quickly and extended a hand. “Detective Kate Lockley.”
Steven didn’t recognized the name. He felt his frustration with Holtz building as he calmly shook hands with Kate. How was he supposed to know who to trust when all of Holtz’s information kept turning up wrong.
“I work with Angel sometimes,” Kate explained as he let her hand go. “He did me a favor a while ago and he asked me to help him out with something.” She pulled a folder from her oversized purse. “I think it was a favor for you anyway. It must be tough, not knowing your parents, I just wish I could have been more help.”
Steven accepted the folder in a sort of daze. “I ran through all the Daniel Holtzs I could find, but didn’t find any who had a kid around your age.” She indicated the folder in Steven’s hands. “That’s folder has all the likely candidates. Who knows, maybe you find something I missed.” She paused and almost as an afterthought added, “I’m sorry .”
He blinked, unsure of exactly why she was apologizing. “Thank you,” he said thickly, words sounding foreign to his own ears.
“It was Angel’s doing, not mine,” Kate said with a shrug. “He told me he was letting you stay here until he could find something on your case. He’s a good guy. Me, I’m just paying back a favor.” She shook her head and glanced back to the door. “Look, I’d love to stay and chat, but I’ve got the graveyard shift tonight. Tell Angel I stopped by?”
“Yeah,” Steven muttered, “Sure.”
He hardly noticed Kate leaving. He was busy flipping through the files she’d left. Picture after picture of men named Daniel Holtz and not a single one the Holtz he knew.
But that wasn’t what had been bothering him. No, what bothered him was the fact that Angel had been looking. That despite everything he’d done to Angel, everything he’d accused him of, everything he’d said, Angel was willing to track down his family.
Too bad his family didn’t exist. Too bad no one was looking for him.
And, for the first time. Steven wondered if living and working at Angel Investigations was really a bad thing. He’d originally accepted Angel’s proposition so he could bide his time and wait for the right moment to take him down, but it had been more than a week and he still hadn’t made his move. Angel hadn’t done anything evil and the longer this trend stayed, the harder it would be for Steven to even contemplate killing him. He was getting attached. To Doyle, to Cordelia and even to Angel.
And it felt like home. More than Holtz and Quortoth ever had, it felt like home.
The phone rang suddenly, bringing Steven out of his daze. He stared at it for a minute before picking the receiver. “Angel Investigations,” he said quickly but forgot the rest of the mantra and trailed off like he’d fallen asleep on his feet.
“Steven!” Angel’s voice comes through the phone, strong and steady. “Doyle’s in trouble. I might need back up.”
“Where are you?”
Angel told him without taking a breath. Then again, Angel didn’t need to breath.
Steven was out the door before he even realized he was moving.
He didn’t see how the fight started, how they managed to secure Doyle in a circus box and draw a crooked dashed line across his forehead. He arrived all of five minutes after Angel, but the restaurant was already chaos. There were twenty or so demons in the room, all the same type as far as Steven could tell. Red face, red eyes, a pair of scaly ridges where their eyebrows should be. Angel was in the thick of it and Doyle was sliding around in the box trying to avoid the fight.
And then all of a sudden, there was a demon where Doyle should be. Sickly green skin with blue spikes protruding from its face, but the hair the clothes, the jacket.
It was all Doyle.
Betrayal sliced through Steven like a knife and it was suddenly hard to breath. Because of out of the small group that was Angel Investigations, it had always been Doyle who he trusted, Doyle who he would confide in, Doyle, more than anyone, he had almost considered a friend.
Holtz was right after all. Everyone associated with Angel was deceitful. Liars. Demons.
He didn’t notice Harry and Cordelia brushing by him. Didn’t hear the words that finally ended the melee. Didn’t quite process Cordelia beating on a demon Doyle only to hug the human one a few seconds later.
It didn’t make sense.
He finally felt Angel’s eyes on his and forced himself to smile through his daze. “I guess I missed the fight.”
Angel shrugged and put a hand on his shoulder. His touch burned. Fake! Steven’s mind screamed. Lies! But he restrained his instinct to fight and allowed Angel to steer him out of the restaurant. Ahead of them Cordelia seemed to be chewing out Doyle for some relatively minor offensive. The superficiality of the scene bit at him and underneath the truth lied dormant, deadly, dangerous.
He wouldn’t be fooled again.
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