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[personal profile] last01standing
Title- Out of Time (Chapters 5/8)
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.



 Chapter 5

For the next few days, Steven stayed out of the office as much as possible. He couldn’t stomach Cordelia and Doyle right now. The two of them were still going on like nothing had changed. And for them maybe nothing had.

But for Steven everything was different.

Angel had left for Sunnydale two days ago. Something wrong with Buffy (yet another name in the growing list of people Holtz had never mentioned). He’d left immediately following Doyle’s vision with only a word in Steven’s ear. “Keep them safe…”
Another contradiction. No one was what they seemed. Angel wasn’t the big bad but the protector. Doyle not the easygoing comic relief but the monster. Cordelia not the gentle seductress but a mere girl.

He found himself loitering outside the police station half hoping he could talk to Kate, but he couldn’t build up the courage to go inside. He bit his lip and turned to leave when he heard a voice call his name.

“Steven? I thought that was you.”

“Kate,” he said and turned around slowly. “Hey.”

“Is something wrong?” Kate asked.

“No,” stammered Steven, taken aback. “Nothing.”

Kate smirked at him. “No sixteen year old hangs around the police station without a good reason. Is Angel in trouble?”

“No, he’s out of town.” He blushed. “I actually wanted to talk to you.”

“What about?”

He opened his mouth, on the verge of telling her everything, about Doyle, Angel and Holtz. Tell her about Quortoth and betrayal and demons and lies. Tell her how much he wished she was Darla because that would mean someone in this world was real and human and trustworthy.

But he looked at her and saw the unmarred innocence of someone with absolutely no knowledge of the supernatural. And somehow, he just couldn’t drag her into this all.

“I was wondering if you could run that search for my dad again,” Steven lied smoothly. “I was hoping we could turn something new up.”

XXXXX

If anything, talking with Kate only made him feel more isolated and when he came out of the police station, his head was throbbing. He needed to do something, kill something.

Kate had offered to walk him home. Said it wasn’t safe for a kid like him to be on the streets at night.

And as much as he liked and respected Kate, she didn’t know him.

She didn’t know him at all.

XXXXX

Steven wasn’t at Angel Investigations when Angel came back, wasn’t there for the emotional confrontation between Buffy and Angel. He bumped into Cordelia and Doyle coming out of the office as something inside crashed. Steven tried to push his way past them.

Doyle caught him by the shoulder and held him firm. It was all Steven could do to keep himself from ripping his head off. “Someone needs help,” he growled

“Trust me,” Cordelia said, “it’s just Angel and Buffy. You so do not want to go there.”

Steven forced his muscles to relax and took a steadying breath. “Why?”

“Because it’s Angel and Buffy,” Cordelia said as if it explained everything. “They’re doing their angsty lovesick thing. And besides, they’re some of the very few people who could take you down without breaking a sweat. I wouldn’t interrupt.”

It wasn’t a threat, it couldn’t be a threat, but Steven was so tense at that moment his mind was distorting their every word.

“We’re thinking on taking off for the day,” Doyle announced. “A sort of non-superhero paranormal free day. Want to come?”

Steven did not want to come. He did not want to spend the day in the false normality and false cheer of Cordelia and Doyle, but the optimism was bewitching. Doyle’s cautious grin and Cordelia’s rolling eyes seemed completely genuine.

And for a long moment, all he wanted was for it to be true. “Yeah,” he said before he could stop himself. “Sounds like fun.”

XXXXX

And despite everything, it had been fun. Calming almost. Steven had never been to the beach before and the gentle waves lapping at the sand was transfixing. He could stare at it for ages. They’d brought hot dogs and lemonade from a street vender and for more than an hour, Steven could forgot that Cordelia was a seductress and Doyle a monster and pretend that they were just friends.

He was making it hard on himself and he knew it. Sooner or later, he would have to deal with Doyle. And he’d rather not have memories of this Doyle, the easy-going friendly Irishman muddling his conscious when it finally came down to a kill or be killed situation.

And when they got back to Angel Investigations, everything changed.

XXXXX

Angel, his brain echoed dully, Angel is human. Angel is human.

Maybe Steven’s sense of right and wrong had been skewed from years of living in a hell dimension, but he’d been raised to trust in one simple face: Humans are the good guys, demons are evil.

The fact that people could change quickly, almost instantaneously from one to the other was not only unthinkable, but it distorted his every moral value. Because the thick dark line he’d drawn between human and demon, between good and evil was suddenly blurring and the contents of the well divided sides had begun seeping into each other.

Doyle was the only demon now, he realized vacantly as he watched the surreal scene in front of him. Doyle who looked completely human and…

…and then there was Steven himself.

He was at least part vampire. Holtz had drilled that into his head since he could remember. The fact that he was in some ways evil, unclean. It had been the driving force behind most of his training and all of his punishments.

Angel was laughing, eating for the first time in God know how long. Doyle was worried. Cordelia seemed vaguely shocked. Watching them, Steven suddenly felt out of place. He shouldn’t be here. He couldn’t watch this kind of joy from people he couldn’t trust. Because if he stayed too long….

He left before Angel could give him an assignment, before he was enlisted into their newest mission. He couldn’t deal with this right now.

XXXXX

He may not have helped them, but he watched the whole thing. Watched the odd visit to the oracles, watched the happy reunion between Angel and Buffy (another blonde, he noted, another blonde not named Darla) and tried to make sense of the whole thing.

But the more he watched the day play out, the less he understood. If Angel was human, then Holtz was wrong. And if Holtz was wrong, Steven’s entire existence up to the point he stumbled out of the portal, was an outright lie. When he was honest with himself, he knew that simple fact had the ability to unravel him. When he finally forced himself to reenter Angel Investigations, Cordelia and Doyle shooed him back out the door saying that they should give Angel and Buffy some space. There was a suggestive look in her eyes when she had said that made Doyle turn bright red.

Steven allowed himself to be pulled out the door.

He couldn’t do this much longer. Sooner or later he was going to lose himself in the lies, in the deceit and plunge headfirst into a world where the nice, friendly, normal-looking guy could turn out to be the monster in disguise. And for the first time since this all started, he missed Quortoth with it’s scaly demons and fundamental simplicity. In a hell dimension, you killed the demon in front of you, or you got killed.

He watched Doyle sit at the bar stool and order his usual, whatever that was. Cordelia just ordered a water and asked for a root beer for Steven. The show of kindness took him by surprise. He hadn’t thought Cordelia would ever do something nice for him and he took his glass with a muffled thank you and for a moment they all drank in silence.

“So,” Steven started awkwardly, “who’s Buffy?”

Cordelia laughed harshly. “You really are out of the loop, aren’t you?”

Doyle seemed more willing to answer. “Buffy’s Angel’s on true love. From what I understand, and this is from one of those cryptic brain-numbing visions from the powers that be, they shared a moment of true happiness.”

“Sex,” Cordelia injected.

“And Angel turned to the dark side, lost his soul. It was part of the curse.”

“Long story short,” Cordelia continued, taking up the narrative, “Angel got his soul back and now the two of them are big with the angst and woe. He left Sunnydale for her own good. They haven’t spoken for a long time.”

“And now,” Doyle finished, “Angel’s human.”

“And I’m out of a job,” Cordelia moaned.

“It’s not just you, you know?” Doyle answered. “Me and Steven have also ventured into the realm of the unemployed.”

“Oh, please. Who are you kidding? You're glad it happened.” Cordelia took a sip of her drink and shot Steven a glance. “Steven here might be on my side. He’s been gunning for Angel and killing a human’s a lot messier than killing a vampire.”

“I’m not going to kill Angel,” Steven replied. And it was the plain and simple truth. The events of today had all but confirmed what Angel had insisted from the very beginning.

Angel wasn’t his father. The fact left him feeling purposeless and oddly disappointed. Angel Investigations, as it turned out, wasn’t the soul sucking, manipulative organization he’d been lead to believe it was. They were out to help people. The only bad egg in the whole place was…

…Doyle’s head slammed into the barroom table.

“What did you see?” Cordelia asked.

And suddenly, Steven knew how to make it all better.

“We got trouble.”

He needed to kill Doyle.

XXXXX

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