~Robyn the Snowshoe Hare; September 18, 1998
Author's Note: Missy, you've been a ray of sunshine. Thank you.
"We'll handle this like we've handled everything that's happened in the last seventeen years, without you!"
Xander's angry words echoed around Angel as he fled into the night that had spawned him. He began walking back to his apartment, grimly anticipating a pretty hefty brooding session, when he had a sudden memory of the brown-haired teen lying on the couch. He remembered how innocent and defenseless that boy had looked. And now that boy was in danger.
That boy was his son.
Resolutely, Angel turned around. He couldn't go back there, Xander would just throw him out again, but he needed answers, and he knew where he could get them.
If the person didn't stake him on first sight.
The sound of banging slowly worked its way through the haze surrounding Oz Seneca's mind. At first, he ignored it and buried his face in his sleeping wife's hair, groggily hoping that the noise would go away by itself. But it continued, and he was unwillingly dragged back into full conciousness when his wife sat up, knocking him unceremoniously off of her. Groaning, he covered his eyes in pain when she flicked on the light by their bed. The banging continued, which he now vaguely recognized as coming from someone pounding on the front door.
"Who could it be?" Willow asked softly. He looked over at her, amazed even after seventeen years of marriage that she was his wife. Her long auburn hair cascaded down her back while her intelligent brown eyes regarded him sleepily. She wore an oversized shirt from the college that she taught at as a nightshirt, and was pulling on an old and faded bathrobe that she had bought during their first year of marriage.
In short, she was beautiful.
Shaking himself out of his reverie, he muttered back, "I don't know, but it had better be some kind of national emergency and not some kid begging for a better grade on their term paper." Things like that had actually happened before. They were both teachers, he was a senior physics teacher at the high school while she taught computer science courses at the local community college. In a addition to that, they both occationally did some freelance computer programming work, leaving them comfortable financially.
"You check on the boys while I go see who it is." he knew she would've done that anyway. They had made certain that they were sound asleep when they had come home from the restaurant, but Willow tended to be a bit anxious about them.
Walking down the stairs, he absently noted all the noises that came from them. Every time he walked up or down he made a mental note to fix all the squeaking and creaking, but by the time he reached the bottom or top he had always forgotten. Carefully sidestepping one of his younger son's toys, he made another mental note to have Asher clean up his things tomorrow before either he or Willow gave up and did it themselves. Reaching the door, he peered out the glass for a few seconds, but all he could make out was a tall, dark figure. Frowning slightly in puzzlement, he flipped back the deadbolt and was about to open the door when he was surprised by a low growling coming from the staircase. Surprised, he looked up to see Willow standing on the landing holding back the dog. She gave him a look of equal astonishment. Scooby never growled or barked at anyone, and at the advanced age of fifteen was usually content to simply sit down and wait for people to pet him. It was an old joke that if anyone ever broke in, the only danger they would be in would be if the dog licked them to death. Fighting down his growing unease, Oz pulled the door open. "Hello?" he called in a wary voice, trying to get a good look at their late-night visitor. The figure hesitated, then stepped into the light that spilled from the doorway.
Oz heard Willow's shocked gasp behind him, echoed by Scooby's manic barking. But that was all distant, numbed by the red haze of rage that had descended over him. Without thinking, he threw himself at Angel, catching the vampire completely by surprise. Tackling him, Oz slammed his fist into Angel's face several satisfying times before he felt Willow behind him, catching his arm and pulling him backwards and off the startled vampire.
Standing back, he put his left arm around Willow even as she put hers around him. With his right hand, he grabbed hold of Scooby's collar, holding the furious dog back as it tryed to crowd past them and get at the thing that was angering his masters. As the vampire rose painfully to his feet, both tightened their arms, offering each other support. And in Willow's case, a warning against further outbursts. Angel looked at them with an almost comic expression of stunned amazement on his handsome face, one hand pressed against his bleeding nose.
"Nice to see you, too." he said sardonically, wincing at the pain from his nose.
Trevor drove home slowly, not very anxious to arrive. He'd stayed out late with Nora, and had only driven her home when she had given up hinting and had flat out told him that if he didn't get her home before her curfew then she wouldn't be able to go to the dance on Saturday with him. Actually, he had almost been tempted to purposely get her grounded. Nora was popular, pretty, and a member of the cheerleading squad, but she was what his mom would call a 'sheep'. She did only what everyone else was doing, and he waspretty sure that she was only going out with him for the status of it. Oh, well. The relaitionship was on its way out anyway, and there were several girls (many of Nora's friends among them) who would be more than willing to take her place.
As he pulled into the driveway, he avoided thinking about what his friends' reactions would be to that. Not the guys who just hung around him, but his real friends. Jesse and Hunter. Jesse would shake his head in disgust at it all, while Hunter would make some cracks about how he 'went through girls like tissues'. Sometimes it bothered him, but that was just the way the world worked.
Getting out of the car, he walked into the garage. He was surprised to see his dad's car parked next to his mother's. His father was rarely home, and his visits were always celebrated with an excruciating 'family dinner' where he and his sisters had to dress in their nicest cloths while their dad tried to remember what grades they were in. His mom tried her best to keep things 'normal', but Trevor could never remember a dinner that hadn't ended with Dad yelling at Mom, and himself and the girls being herded upstairs by one of the maids.
Trevor could hear the yelling through the thin door that lead from the door that lead from the garage to the kitchen. He was already turned around, ready to drive off in his car and crash at Hunter's house for the night, when he heard the sound of breaking glass. Spinning, he opened the door and ran inside.
The moment he walked in, everyone froze. His father was standing right next to his mother, who was kneeling, his hand half-raised as if he were about to strike her. The twins, Summer and Regan, were huddled in the doorway that lead to the stairs, their brown eyes huge with terror.
Seeing Trevor, his dad dropped his hand down by his side. Hurrying to his mother's side, he saw that his mother had dropped a glass, and he knelt swiftly to help her clean up the glass shards. As he helped gather up the remains of the glass, he noticed that his mother was carefully keeping her eyes away from his, and was smoothing her long brown hair over the left side of her face. Dreading what he would find, he leaned over to see what she was hiding from him. Anger filled him as he saw the large bruise that was already forming on her cheek. Getting up, he glared daggers at his father, who was acting as if nothing had happened. He longed to do something, anything, but Mark Mannix was a big man, and while Trevor knew that he could probably hold his own in a fight, the only person to really suffer would be his mother. Trevor had stood up once before, and the next day his mother had come downstairs covered with bruises and nursing a sprained wrist.
As soon as his father left the room, the twins started sobbing. His mother hurried over to comfort them while Trevor finished cleaning up the glass. He envied them, things had been much easier when he could just start bawling and wait for his mother to hug him and tell him that it would be alright, that she wasn't hurt, and that their father had just had a bad day and was sorry. But the girls were only nine, Trevor was seventeen and knew better. Things wouldn't be alright, his mother was hurt, and his father wasn't sorry.
Later, when he was lying in the darkness of his room waiting for sleep to claim him, his mother came in. Sitting on the edge of the bed, she tenderly smoothed his dirty-blond hair with a gentle hand, and tried to feed him the same excuses. But he just turned his face to the wall and wished that he had the guts to do something about it, or even to tell someone what was going on.
He certainly couldn't trust any of the his dad's friends, or most of his mother's social-climbing back-stabbers, who would merely see this as a juicy piece of gossip. Imagine, Cordelia Mannix, only daughter of the wealthy software king Jeffrey Chase, being beaten by her husband. It would be the scandel of the year.
But several times he had almost told Mr. Giles what was going on, and once he had come very close to telling Mr. Harris. They had all been friends of his mother in high school and college, and continued to be so. They also seemed to know that something was wrong, and always asked after his mother's health with worried expressions. He had once overheard Mrs. Seneca coming staight out and asking his mother if his dad was hurting her, but his mother had just laughed it off and said that she had walked into a door.
He heard his mother sigh as she closed the door softly behind her. Rolling over onto his side, he shut his eyes firmly and concentrated on going to sleep.