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Title- Out of Time (7/8)
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 Lindsey

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Chapter 7

Angel’s head up in surprise and Steven could see a rare unguarded look of pain in his eyes. “Steven? What are you talking about?”

“Last I checked, I was with Cordelia and Doyle and it was nighttime,” Steven reasoned. “And now, it’s daylight and the Mohra just attacked. Angel, Buffy killed that thing last night!” He paused, head tilting sideways as if listening for something. “What happened to your heartbeat?”

The question was innocent enough, but it cause what little color remained in Angel’s face to disappear.

“Heartbeat?” Cordelia called from the other room. “I though you were up on your vampire lore. Angel hasn’t had a heartbeat for two hundred and fifty years.”

Steven blinked in confusion. “But I remember…”

Angel wasn’t looking at him, staring at his desk to avoid eye contact. “No one was supposed to know,” Angel whispered. “I was supposed to be the only one.”

By then, Cordelia and Doyle had moved towards the doorway, watching the confrontation with interest. Cordelia was scowling in Steven’s direction, but Doyle’s gaze was fixed on Angel.

“Angel, man,” Doyle started, “what’s wrong. Buffy was here for all of five minutes and already you’re black cloud of despair’s hovering.”

“It wasn’t five minutes,” Angel whispered. “It was a whole day.”

XXXXX

Steven felt distant, detached. Angel’s words seemed to enthrall Doyle and Cordelia, the former offering quiet words of sympathy while the latter sat in a rare state of silence, but he was having a hard time focusing. Every time he blinked, it took a little longer for the world to come back into focus. And on the outskirts of his vision, he could see Quortoth, see Holtz’s rugged face, see the demons and monsters that had constantly threatened his existence.

And it scared him.

“The oracles said no one but me was supposed to remember,” Angel said, jerking Steven from his thoughts. His head shoot up to look at the vampire, but his vision blurred red as his head moved and it took a full minute for him to orient himself.

When the room came back into focus, Doyle was at his side, hovering next to him, but not touching him. “Are you OK, man?” he hesitated as if picking his words carefully. “You… blurred.”

And while Steven hated that he had drawn attention away to himself, drawn attention away from Angel who seemed like he actually needed it, he couldn’t keep the tremor out of his voice when he said, “I feel off.”

“Sick off?” Cordelia asked. “Because this rug’s new and the last thing we need right now is vomit.”

Steven closed his eyes and willed whatever was lurking at the edge of his vision to leave. When he opened his eyes, everything seemed back to normal. “Nothing,” he muttered, “it’s gone now.”

“The oracles said something about an anomaly in the timeline,” Angel muttered, “I thought she was talking about me and Buffy.” Pain flashed in his eyes when he said the name. “But maybe it has something to do with why you’d remember.” He paused. “You never did get around to telling us how you got here.”

“I followed a demon out of Quortoth. Got through the portal before it sealed off behind me.”

“Where was this?” Angel asked and Steven could see that he was desperate for a distraction. “If we can find the source, we might be able to get you back to your family.”

Steven felt the blood drain from his face. “Get me back?” A sort of explosion was building in his stomach. “What if-what if I don’t want to go back? What if…” Something unexpected had happened in the past day. These people had stopped being the enemy and they had become his family. His family wasn’t Holtz, just as it wasn’t Darla and Angelus, it was the motley group of Angel Investigations.

“Settle down Steve,” Doyle said soothingly. “We’re not looking to send anyone to hell.”

Red flashed on the edges of his visions. “I’m not going back.”

“Is it only me seeing the logical problems in this? Like the fact where Hell Boy over here has no identification, no place to live and no real people skills.” And she stopped short when she saw the thoughtful look cross Angel’s face.

XXXXX

They went to Kate to ask for advice. Angel in front doing the talking, Steven lingering at his heels. The process baffled him, the legality of it all. The need of social security cards and birth certificates and identification none of which Angel or Steven seemed to actually posses, was almost irrelevant compared to one all-consuming fact.

It was adoption. The same person who he’d come looking to kill was going to take him in. It didn’t feel nearly as strange as it should. It feel good, more real than anything in his life ever had.

XXXXX

Bliss lasted for all of twelve hours and then everything went to hell.

It all started with Doyle’s vision, slamming into him when as they were leaving the office for their nightly patrol. Even Steven, who was still not used to the half-demon’s visions, knew this was worse than usual. When the vision let go of him, there was a haunted look on his face and he wouldn’t look at Angel or Cordelia.

“What is it?” Angel asked, a supporting hand on Doyle’s shoulder. “Doyle, what did you see?”

Something was wrong. Steven had spent the entire day with Doyle yesterday, a day that by rights, should go the same way as today. But this, this, had not happened. Something was wrong.

Doyle’s saucer wide eyes bored into him, not Angel, not Cordelia, but him and Steven could see a myriad of emotions there, regret, sympathy, incomprehension and under it all, pure unadulterated fear.

“Doyle,” Angel said again, voice more insistent. “Doyle, what did you see.”

“The Scourge is coming,” a new voice said from the doorway and in unison, three heads snapped in its direction. “They’re looking for Steven.”

XXXXX

The scene flickered before him and for a second, Steven could see a street, fire, a baby in a man’s arms and then he blinked and he was in Angel Investigations staring at the man in the doorway. “Lindsey?” he heard Angel hiss. “What brings Wolfram and Hart here?”

There was history there, one glance between Angel and Lindsey told him that much.

“Someone’s in trouble,” Lindsey said evenly, “and helping people is what you do. I’ve got some information that might help.”

“We don’t work with Wolfram and Hart.”

“I remember,” Lindsey clipped, “you threw my client out of a twenty story window.”

“I’d be happy to do the same for you, all you have to do is ask.”

“Very funny. Threaten the guy who comes to help you.”

“Angel,” Doyle said gently, “we should let him speak his piece.”

Lindsey gave him a curt nod and slipped into the room, leaning up against a wall. “Steven’s in trouble. Wolfram and Hart have decide he’s a threat and they’ve contacted the Scourge in an effort to get him eliminated.”

“Why?” Steven asked. “I’ve haven’t even been here for two weeks.”

“Because they’ve never heard of you.” Lindsey explained. “They’ve got records of everyone who’s ever existed and quite a few who will exist, but nothing about you. You took them by surprise and it’s got them scared.

Angel’s words rang in his ears “The oracles said something about an anomaly in the timeline. I thought she was talking about me and Buffy. But maybe it has something to do with why you’d remember.”

And all at once everything made sense, why no one knew of Angel’s son, why this reality didn’t resemble what Holtz had described, why Wolfram and Hart didn’t know who he was.

He was out of time, displaced. By all rights, he shouldn’t exist yet. Steven Holtz or whatever name Angel had originally given him wouldn’t exist for years. And between the here and now and the then and there, things would get worse, people would change grow darker, grow evil. Doyle would be gone, Cordelia’s brash personality would twist and Angel himself would lose to the darkness.

Unless of course, Steven could stop it before it happened.

XXXXX

Unfortunately, his plans for grandeur were put on hold because. It turned out, the first thing Angel did when someone was in trouble was sideline them. They took him to the police station and left him and Lindsey with Kate while they went to go fight the Scourge.

They were putting themselves in danger in the name of saving him. The fact burned. This wasn’t their fight. The Scourge was looking for him. The weird thing about it was the tug of inevitability. The somehow intrinsic knowledge that this would end badly no matter what he did.

Kate, not at all happy with being kept out of the loop had brought them all to an interrogation room and promptly began grilling Lindsey for information.

He tried not to listen to the argument. It was obvious that neither one was particularly fond of the other and most of Kate’s questions couldn’t be answered without broaching the supernatural angle. Lindsey answered what he could, but evaded most.

“Who exactly is after Steven? If you actually give me a name, I could get police on it.”

“They’re a fanatic group,” Lindsey allowed. “Bad news.”

“Well why are they after Steven of all people? He doesn’t have any ties here. His family’s gone and left him…”

Steven’s vision flickered. He was in a hotel, surrounded by people he didn’t recognize holding a….

“Kate, I don’t know why they’re after him. They just are.”

Lindsey evaded more questions. Kate’s frustration was mounting because she just didn’t know, didn’t know about demons, didn’t know about Angel, didn’t know about Doyle

“Are they clients of yours?” Kate snapped. “Protecting the bad guys. I’ll pin that one down on that firm of yours--aiding and abiding know fugitives, impeding a police investigation.”

“Kate. I don’t know when they’re coming or why. Angel went out to find out. If they figure anything out…”

“I figured it out,” Steven said aloud. “I’m not supposed to be here.”

“Me neither kid,” Lindsey said with a wry grin. “I’d much rather be in my office right now.”

“No one’s keeping you here,” Kate spat.

“My bosses are probably looking to kill me now,” Lindsey replied tersely. “I’m going to lie low.”

The different scene hovered on the edge of Steven’s vision, threatening to overwhelm him, take him back to his true time, and only sheer force of will kept him firmly where he was.

“Did you just see that?” Kate was suddenly at his side, gripping his shoulders like she was afraid he might disappear. “I want to know what’s going on.” Her nails dug into his skin. Steven welcomed the pain.

“I—I think I’m out of time. Holtz, my father, he used to tell me about Angel and his friends, but nothing’s like he said it was.”

He could see Kate slipping into cop mode. “You mean this Holtz character has been stalking Angel? Why hasn’t he reported it?”

Steven took a steadying breath. “Because it hasn’t happened yet.”

“But you just said…”

Lindsey was quicker on the uptake. “Do you know how far you came back?”

“I was in Quortoth for most of it,” Steven said, eyes closed. I’m not sure, but things are going to change.”

“What the hell are you two talking about?”

“Steven’s from the future.”

It sound insane when it was voiced out loud. Kate’s eyes narrowed, searching for any sign of sarcasm in either Lindsey or Steven’s face. She stood up and paced a bit before finally turning back to them both. “You’re going to tell me everything. No lies.”

Steven opened his mouth to start, but at that moment, the door to the interrogation room sprang open reveling a haggard looking cop with wide, terrified eyes. “Lockely, something’s happening downstairs… It’s bad.”

“Spit it out, Pete.” Kate snapped. “I’m in the middle of something.”

“They’re…. They’re… God, Kate, they’re not human!”

“You’re not making a lot of sense, Pete.” Kate’s eyes drilled into the other man’s skull and Steven would have been grateful that the look wasn’t directed at him if he hadn’t already figured out what was happening.

“They’re attacking the police station?” Lindsey said in disbelief. “The police station?”

“They’re demons,” Steven hissed. “They attack anything.”

“Maybe in Quortoth,” Lindsey allowed, “but here, they try to lie low. A flat out attack on the cops draws attention. Wolfram and Hart are going to have a hell of a time covering this up.” A funny look crossed his face. “Might distract them from looking to kill me.”

“It’s the Scourge, isn’t it?” Steven whispered. “They’re looking for me.”

“They want you bad, Steve.” Lindsey answered. “Bad enough to break all the rules.”

“But why?”

“You mean you don’t know?” Lindsey asked. “Time travel, well that’s unusual, but doesn’t automatically make you a threat. The Scourge is dedicated to getting ride of any half-breed demons. And as far as half-breeds go, let’s face it you’re as good as it gets. Son of two vampires with all the benefits of both sides and none of the drawbacks. You’re a threat to them all. Wolfram and Hart found out and….”

Steven’s thoughts were spinning. It was one thing to know he was a freak, the bastard son of vampires, cursed to carry the blood of monsters, but another thing completely to look at his heritage, look at his person and see the advantages of it all, the benefits, as Wolfram and Hart, the Scourge and Lindsey so clearly did.

Holtz was wrong. Steven realized with absolute certainty. Holtz was wrong about everything…About Angel, his friends, demons, the world…

“You two stay here,” Kate ordered. “We’ve got a situation downstairs I need to deal with.”

“It won’t work,” said Lindsey. “You’re not going to be able to stop them with bullets.” He shut the door before she could leave. “Kate, we’ve got to figure out a plan.”

“A plan,” Kate repeated dangerously. “This is my job.”

“You’ll pump some lead into them and you know what, they’ll just keep coming. They’re faster than you, stronger and nothing short of broken neck is going to stop them. They’re demons, Kate. Fire and brimstone. The whole nine yards.”

“Fine,” Kate said crossing her arms. “If there are demons attacking the police station which, by the way, is something out of a Stephen King novel, why now? What are they after? And how can you kill them?”

Steven stood up. “They’re after me.”

XXXXX

The police station blurred with scenes from his youth, scenes from Quortoth. Chaos, screams, the strong preying on the weak. Ineffectual bullets, blood, the stench of death everywhere.

Steven entered the room, and threw himself into the fray before Lindsey and Kate could even think to stop him and the demons, one by one, abandoned their opponent and began to focus solely on him. Steven’s world narrowed to the fight, the demons on all sides of him, blows and counter blows as the rest of the group ran for cover.

He heard Kate yell his name. And then a flash of light.

He panicked for a moment as white invaded his vision. The light, so like the portal that had brought him there filled him with dread and he lashed out blindly in every directions, now caring what or who he hit as long as it meant he was still there.

He felt Lindsey’s hands close around his wrist and relief washed over him. “Calm down, Steven, we’ve got about thirty seconds.”

He let Lindsey steer him out of the station, Kate following close behind. “That was one of Wolfram and Hart’s flares. Always make for a quick getaway, but security will be here in about two minutes. Not to mention the Scourge will be back in business as soon as the flair dies.”

When they were outside, Lindsey pulled out his phone. “I’m going to call Angel.”

Steven collapsed in the ground, all energy suddenly flooded from his bones. Kate crouched down next to him. “Steve?” she asked. “You all right? You hurt?”

His muscles screamed, his vision flickered, blurred. He was exhausted as if, in one moment, years of fighting had finally caught up to him and for just a moment, he wanted to give up, give in. Let whatever was pulling at him win, and let himself be pulled back into his rightful time, go back to Quortoth or where ever he was supposed to be. At least things would be simple there. Black and white…

Lindsey snapped the phone shut. “We’ve got to go to the docks. Angel’s got a ship, the Quintessa. They’ve got a some people who they need to get away from the Scourge. We’re meeting up with them at the docks.”

“I’m not going.” Steven muttered addressing the world in general. “You can’t make me go back.”

“Take that up with Angel when you get there. My car’s around front. Kate, you think we could make sure we’re not followed.”

Kate nodded. Steven could see the terror hidden behind her eyes. She was trying to be strong, trying to keep things together, but she was a step away from following apart.

“Let’s go.” Lindsey said, and Steven forced himself to move.

XXXXX

They had a tail, but in the end, that really didn’t matter. The battle was already raging by the time they got there. The ship was pulling off but there were some of the Scourge soldiers on the gangplanks, others were already on the ship.

“The ship’s gone,” Lindsey said in defeat. “We’re too late.”

Steven looked from him to Kate, face resolute. “Stay out of sight,” he ordered. “There may be more coming.”

“Steven?” Kate said in confusion. “What are you talking about.”

He gave them a small smile, an unintentional goodbye. “Thank you. For everything.”

And with a single, giant leap, he was on the ship.

XXXXX

Inside, pandemonium. The demon refugees were huddled in the cargo bay, Cordelia and Doyle trying to keep them calm and Angel was locked in a fight with what seemed to be the Scourge leader. Steven wasted no time in throwing himself into the fray, punching, kicking, fighting. All the way, he felt that tug, pulling him from every side and as he fought the demons, he fought the pull, promising himself that they’d all get out of this all right. That him and Angel and Doyle and Cordelia and even Kate and Lindsey would go back to Angel Investigations and things would be good and things would stay good no matter what Holtz had told him.

He didn’t remember how he and Angel made it to the catwalk. Didn’t remember tearing the head off of a demon, didn’t remember how Cordelia and Doyle climbing up to meet them. He barely heard Angel’s explanation of what the light, was, what it did.

All he do was stare at the beacon, the burning white light and see the portal that had brought him here and now threaten to take him away again.

He didn’t register his surroundings, didn’t notice Doyle knocking Angel off the catwalk, didn’t see Cordelia and Doyle’s kiss. His vision tunneled until it all he could see was the beacon, the portal, Angel’s words ringing in his head.

If I pull the cable, I think I can still shut it off.

Steven jumped, landing easily, effortlessly on the beacon’s platform, hands seeking the cables Angel spoke of, finding them almost immediately. He didn’t look back, just closed his eyes, shielding them against the blinding light and pulled with all his might.

Quortoth swam on the outskirts of his vision, Holtz and demons and red, but at the same time, he saw something different something softer. Angel holding an infant, a younger Steven laughing and smiling and…

The light flickered out and the beacon swung back and forth serenely for a moment and then crashed to the floor, glass shattering in every direction.

“Steven!” Angel’s voice echoed over the cargo bay, a cry of anguish, panic.

His call wasn’t answered.

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