Titles: Sisters, Painted Ladies, [NEW PART] What's in a Name?
Ratings: PG, PG-13, NC-17
Characters: Fred, Connor (Steven), Angel
Spoilers: up to the end of Season 3, AtS
A/N: Adult themes, may be considered incest for last portion - although Steven doesn't (wouldn't) think so. A thank you to kita0610 and crazydiamondsue for the beta, and to anelith, somecandytalkin and violethamster for making me feel good about writing again.
She had a pretty laugh. It sounded like breaking glass, tinkling and shimmery. He hadn't wanted to put the smoke in his lungs like she had. He was a warrior and wanted his lungs strong. He didn't mind eating it. At first, he panicked. His eyes began to swell, and when he turned his head to look at her, to ask if his eyes were swelling out of his head, it seemed like it took seven years. And that was incredibly funny to him. When he laughed, it made her giggle. Glass. She was like a piece of glass.
"Did you know you were a piece of glass?"
"D'you just call me a piece of ass?"
"Piece of glass. You are a piece of glass. Listen. It's like a clue. Glass."
Fred started laughing, then collapsed on the arm of the couch, her leg across his. He put his hand on her ankle. So thin... he thought. Glass. Breakable. But strong. Fred began to make tiny noises - hums - as she fell further under the effects of the smoke she put in her lungs. Connor liked it when she closed her eyes. She didn't seem so strong, then. Sister. We could be sisters. Brother and sister, he mentally corrected. Relatives. I like her being my sister.
They both had thin, pointed chins, shiny and unruly hair, narrow chests, delicate bones in their limbs. Glass. But strong. He wished she was physically as strong as he was. They could fight side by side.
"We could fight side by side. Be a family. I want a family."
Fred gave a sleepy laugh, "Connor, you have a family. Angel is your family. We all are family here. Mmm." More humming.
"Sometimes I think you are my sister."
Fred sat up and threw her arms around his neck. "Ooh! I always wanted a sister! Older sister, so I could watch her and her boyfriends make out. Ooh! No! Younger sister. She'd look up to me, I'd teach her how to wear makeup..." Fred giggled and clapped her hand to her mouth. "Ha! Makeup. I never wore makeup. That was for cheerleaders, not Science Club presidents. I used to watch Cordy put on makeup. I liked to think that we were sisters. But we didn't look much alike."
"We look alike."
"Oh my god! We do! Come on."
Fred took Connor by the hand. He smiled down at her small fingers, at the smooth skin in his hand. Just alike, he thought. He let Fred drag him up to the third floor of the hotel to her room. She made him sit cross-legged on the counter of the bathroom. She sat against the wall, ignoring the light-switch digging into her back, her feet in the sink. She handed him a tube.
"It's like a wand. Rub it over your face a bit."
It felt sticky, and when she reached out, he handed it back to her and did the same to her face. It was beige, and she put it under her eyes and made a T across her forehead and nose. He mimicked her actions, smoothing the paste over his face. She got a thin stick out of a drawer and lunged at him. He grabbed her wrist and stopped squeezing when he felt her bones grind against each other.
"Hey! I'm not going to stab you!" Fred giggled, "I did the same thing when Cordy tried to put eyeliner on me, too. But, ow, without the superhuman strength."
Fred held his face still with her left hand, told him to "look up and to the right," and she began to outline his eyelids with the dark brown kohl. She gave his other eye the same treatment, then took a Q-tip and shaded the lines she had drawn. He looked in the mirror. His eyes looked more fierce. But softer, too. He relaxed his face and he looked vulnerable, soft. Fred hopped off the counter and rested her head on his shoulder, faces touching.
He remembered telling Buffy once that he hated the women of his day. Liam hated the taste of the powders they used to whiten their flesh. The stink of the rouge to redden their lips. He favored the bar wench over the refined lady of means. The bar maids smelled of ale and hard work. No scent of powders to sicken him when he wished to leave his mark. But Angelus... Angelus loved the fine ladies of the 18th century. How enticing their blood looked as it ran down their necks. The contrast of its blackness against the rice powder on their wigs and breasts. How convenient it was for a vampire with their unnaturally white flesh and blood-red lips to mingle among the fools of the court.
He smelled that his son was different, altered. The smoke had permeated their clothing and left a dinstinctive aroma. His first impulse was to hurt her - that she dared weaken his strong, proud boy! Angelus, ever watchful, wanted to hurt the boy while he was vulnerable. Angel stayed back in the shadows and watched Fred put base and powder on Connor's cheeks, his forehead. He stared at the small gap between his son's hairline and where the makeup began. Pink. Healthy. He watched as Connor laughed and pushed her hand away, not wanting the red lip-liner. Fred made a pouty face and Connor relented.
Angel fought the urge to grab his son by the back of his neck and throw him against the wall. To bite his lip and make the blood color that young mouth, that pink flesh. To see the black/red against the ivory of the makeup. The demon (or was it the man?) within wanted to take that pretense of innocence and pound it, hurt it, wound it to turn back into the strength that was there before.
He was not aware of the low growl he made in the back of his throat. Angel saw Connor's shoulders stiffen, yet his son didn't push Fred aside. Angel watched as Connor looked in his direction, parted his lips slightly and allowed Fred to line them. Connor titled his head back kept his gaze on the shadows through half-lidded eyes. When Angel saw Connor's small, pink tongue dart out and moisten his lower lip to test the red now staining it, he crept back into the shadows and into Connor's room. To wait. To wipe that paint off his face.
Angel's last thought before he turned away was how Connor looked just like his mother.
What's in a Name?
In his head, he was always Steven. Steven knew black from white, good from evil, his duty, his charge. Steven had a father. This man, this thing was not his father. It was evil, souless. It deserved killing. He would kill it. But it was strong, and Stephen knew to wait for the right moment to ensure victory. His real father had taught him that.
Holtz had made Steven strong. Holtz had given Steven the knowledge of the world, of the evil that existed. Stephen knew that in this new world, his father's lessons wouldn't be understood, but Steven knew his father loved him. He bore the scars of that love as testament. Holtz made him see first hand what demons would do if they overtook him. He was not shocked when Angel touched him that way. His father had prepared him for it. He was not prepared for the monster's tears. He was not prepared for the confusion that set in when Angel called him by that name.
He didn't think it strange on that first night Angel had come into his room and laid his cool hands on Stephen's leg. Nor when those hands slid under the blankets to feel all of his flesh. He let the monster think his guard was down. Steven knew the value of a surprise attack. Holtz had made it clear that vampires had no moral boundaries. He knew that his own mother was also his grandmother. His father was his brother. He did not find it odd that his monster of a father tried to hold him close. The tenderness of his kisses, in fact, the very kissing itself was not expected.
Holtz never kissed him. Holtz never held him with tenderness. When Holtz had come to him in the night, it was as a lesson to strengthen him - to prepare him for one day meeting Angelus. There was nothing gentle in their joining, no sighs, no stroking. Steven recalled the first time - the feeling that a bit of brimstone was ripping him in two. After the pain subsided, Holtz had sat him down, given him a look when he cried out in agony, and told Steven who his true father was. What he was. How they behaved with one another. "I want to make you strong, son. I want you to know their tricks, their habits. One day you will go to him, you will weaken him, and you will kill him." Steven was eight years old.
Fred and Connor (never Steven with them - always Connor - they trusted Connor) had stayed awake late into the night laughing, talking... He knew Angel was watching. He knew Angel would come to him that night. He was prepared.
He stumbled to his room for the benefit of those watching from the shadows. He fell onto his bed, sprawled on top of the blankets. He acknowledged the monster's presence by shifting his legs over to make room.
"Did you have fun?"
Eyes closed, sleepy smile on his face, hands squeezing the soft pillow his face was nestled in. "Mmm hmmm."
A hand on his ankle now, thumb tracing gentle circles. "She's a lovely girl. Pretty."
Hands moving under the heavy denim, fingertips tracing the hard muscle of Stephen's calf.
Steven shifted his hips slightly to lie more comfortably on his side, one arm thrown over his eyes. He kept the sleepy smile on his face. His other hand rubbed his chest, moved to his belly, and with a casual flick of his thumb, unsnapped the button to his jeans.
"Do you like her?" A small amount of pressure when the zipper was pulled down. Steven barely lifted his hips, but the intent was understood. He wavered when the cool air of his room chilled his flesh, but Angel quickly covered the boy with a thin blanket. Strong hands ran up and down Stephen's thighs with the pretense of giving warmth. Rough fingertips traced patterns into the soft, brown curls higher up. Steven slowly pushed his backside down into the mattress, then forward, invitation sent.
Steven bent one knee, pushed forward, forcing Angel's hand lower than he intended. Steven watched under his arm and saw the monster lower his head, chin to chest. Its hand began to stroke him, preparing him for penetration. There was a flash of the demon's face when Angel realized this wasn't Stephen's first experience.
Steven knew it was time. He crawled to his knees, rubbed his thin chest against Angel's, took his face in his hands and rubbed his cheek against Angel's. Although the monster didn't need breath, Steven felt Angel's chest heave as Steven laid his head on Angel's shoulder, and felt Angel tremble when his small hands ran up Angel's powerful arms.
Steven laid back on the bed, got on all fours, turned back to look at Angel and said simply, "please."
Another flash of the demon. Hands on calves, desperate kisses to backs of thighs, head lain on Steven's small back. While Stephen wasn't accustomed to the tenderness, he braced himself for the invasion. His father had taught him that at release, the monster would be at his most vulnerable. Steven let a hand steal back under his pillow, checking for the stake he had secreted away. His hand dropped it suddenly when he felt Angel's tears on his back. Was this a trick? Angel's hand wiped the wetness from the small of Steven's back, then moved the wet hand to his backside, stroking the boy. It was a trick. Holtz had not done such a thing.
Steven was bothered by the pleasure it gave him to be readied for joining. It had only been a lesson with Holtz. His father had not prepared him for gentle touches. His hand wavered over the stake. When Angel entered him, slowly, with gentle rocking motions and not the swift invasion that was expected, the moan that escaped him gave him his first experience of shame at this act. Angel called back to the boy with his own moan, hands stroking up the soft, pale skin of the boy's back, hands gripping shoulders, almost pulling out completely, slowly driving back in, hips moving in circles, hands never ceasing their gentling.
The familiar feeling of being stretched brought Steven back to his senses. He had a duty to perform. Make the vampire weak, kill him. He recognized words coming from the monster. "Connor. Love. You. God, Connor."
Steven. My name is Steven. He would never be Connor. Steven had a duty. Connor was a name for some child that didn't exist. A child with a mother, a father... Connor came from evil. The words the monster spoke came from evil. Steven must remember that. If only it would shut up and be finished. He wouldn't shut up. Steven heard that name over and over, moaned softly at first, rough hands traveling up his spine. Angel gripped the back of Steven's neck and pulled him up off his hands. Steven felt a moment of panic when he was forced to drop the stake, but quickly forgot when Angel's blunt teeth scratched over the pulse in his neck.
He stiffened, thinking he had let himself forget what Angel was, then relaxed when he felt a tongue trace the pulse, cool breath, lips. As Angel began to quicken his pace, Steven looked down to see hands stroking his narrow, smooth chest. Hands gripped him tight. He didn't realize people held each other with tenderness when they coupled. He isn't a person.
Angel began driving upwards more quickly, face buried in Stephen's neck. And he was gasping that name. Begging him to join the monster. Steven didn't want to hear that name. It broke something inside of him that he didn't know was there. Why didn't Holtz tell him that names had power? He couldn't stand to hear it from Angel's mouth anymore. He pulled away quickly. Only later did he realize that it would have been the perfect time to reach under the pillow for the stake. To end it. To fulfill his duty. His destiny.
He moved back against the headboard and took Angel by the back of his head and forced the monster down onto his own erection. "Shhh." The tears that fell on Steven's cheeks went unnoticed. The tears that fell from the monster onto his belly did not. Much later, in the small hours of the morning when he was finally alone, Steven began to shake. He held the stake in his hand, not knowing how many minutes (hours?) had passed. He dialed the number given to him in secret and told Justine to find a boat. And a box.