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Tangled Branches, Sturdy Roots

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Thirteen months after not getting killed by an evil law firm and escaping Hell on Los Angeles, and thirteen months after ceasing communications completely, they show up at Connor's table in the coffee shop and invite themselves to sit down.

They seem pretty much the same, besides the different clothes, though Spike's hair could do with some recolouring. Then again, maybe he has changed. Maybe he's really, really into 'N Sync these days. But they don't seem all that different, at least not when they shove one another over the chair already at the table before Angel shoulders Spike aside and sends the other vampire to get his own chair, or when Spike shoots Angel one of the nastiest looks Connor's ever seen appear on a human(-looking) face as he spins his chair around and drops into it heavily.

They're still together. They're still antagonistic. And judging by the way they invite themselves to his table without so much as a phone call as a heads up, they're still the same part of his family they were when they left.

Connor folds his arms over his textbook and puts his weight on his elbows to lean forward. "So," he says, his tone casual, "where have you guys been?"

"Rome," says Angel.

"Scotland," says Spike.

"We were in Africa for a little while."

"And there's this dimension that Wolfram and Hart haven't touched yet. Weird place. No shrimp."

"Huh," says Connor. "That's too bad. I like shrimp." He gives his coffee cup a little shake, reminds himself that it's very sadly empty now, as it's been for the last fifteen minutes. "Are you guys done running or fighting or running and fighting or whatever?"

"'Running?'" Spike looks affronted. He sits up straighter from his slouched sprawl in his chair, but doesn't bother turning it back around to face the table properly.

"It was more… strategically retreating," says Angel. "And then regrouping."

"Sure," says Connor. "That. Are they still after you?"

Spike's posture doesn't change much, but it takes on a new pride and smugness to it. "Nope." His chest sticks out a little.

Fortunately, Connor and the rest of the coffee shop shoppers are saved from the story of Spike saving the day and of Angel being saved by Spike (because that's how most stories sound when they come from Spike) when Angel cuts him off with a slap to the shoulder.

Spike scowls.

Angel doesn't look at him. "Wolfram and Hart aren't an issue right now. We can talk about that later. Why don't you talk about what you've been up to?"

Spike already looks disinterested, but he doesn't leave. He crosses his arms over the back of the chair, or over the front of the chair, considering the way he's straddling it, and drops his chin to the crook of his elbow. He keeps his eyes on Angel.

Connor racks his brain for something that is even in the same realm of interesting as dimensions that don't have shrimp. "I took a genealogy class," he offers.

"Really?" says Angel. He looks interested. Excited. Kinda clueless. Generally pretty dad-like. "What did you do?"

"Well, I had to make a family tree. You guys weren't in it, though." Before Angel can look disappointed, or Spike can make any snark, Connor adds, "I think we'd loop back around forever, and I'd need more colours than humans can see to complete it."

Angel chuckles. "Right," he says.

"So, hey," says Connor, "if you still wonder if you did the right thing, I got a family tree that doesn't look incestuous out of the deal. That counts for something."

Angel smiles at him.

Spike just rolls his eyes.