New York City
Wolfram and Hart was alive with activity. Lawyers were shuffling through the lobby. Most of them were on cell phones. A few of them were talking to each other, all looking very intense and trying to manage threatening.
Jamie looked down at himself, at the hole in his faded jeans and the smudge of grease on his Darth Vader t-shirt. He ran a self-conscious hand through his hair. "All right, Black... You can do this."
He took a deep breath and plastered a smile onto his face. He marched up to the front desk.
A pretty brunette sat behind the desk. She eyed Jamie carefully, pursing her lips when she saw his shabby state. "May I help you?"
"I'm here to see James Black," Jamie replied, taking another deep breath, trying to calm his nerves.
The secretary arched a brow. "Do you have an appointment?"
"No." Jamie flushed, looking down at the desk. He frowned when he saw a scroll with runic letters lying on top of her appointment book. "I'm his son. He told me to come in."
"His... Son." The secretary nodded slowly as she glared at Jamie. "Listen, kid, I don't know why you want to get in to see Mr. Black, but you're not going to without an appointment. He doesn't have a son. He has a daughter. Nice try though."
"You must be new." Jamie had a hopeful quaver in his voice. "I'm his son. Really."
"I've worked here for five years." The secretary looked bored. "Just head back out."
Jamie stuck a hand into his pocket, fishing out his wallet. "I can show you my driver's license. Really. I'm James David Black the Third."
"Veronica, it's all right." Dressed in a fine Armani suit, James Black the Second strode to towards the desk. He smiled broadly. There was a vague sense that it was forced. "He is my son."
He turned towards Jamie. Despite the smile, his eyes were cold. "Hello Trip. How are you doing?"
Jamie lowered his head, shifting uncomfortably. He slid his wallet into his pocket "It's Jamie, dad."
James grunted, turning around. He began to stride away. "I always thought that was much too effeminate. Of course, your mother thought it was 'cute'."
Jamie stayed glued to the spot, blinking at his father's retreating form.
James turned slowly, glaring at Jamie. He cocked a brow and looked around. "Well? Are you coming? I don't have all day to spend talking to you. I have to earn your tuition."
Slowly, Jamie began to shuffle after his father. He shoved his hands in his pockets, keeping his eyes downcast.
He followed James into a spacious office. He stayed in the doorway, looking over the office. Pictures hung on the wall: his mother, Jules. He searched each of the frames, but saw no image of himself. He tried to fight his frown, but it was a losing battle.
"Well, do you need an invitation?" James snarled. "Come in and sit down."
Snapping back to his senses, Jamie crossed the room and sat down across from James. He slouched in his chair, keeping his head down. "You've never told me to come to your work before."
"Well, you were never much interested in the law, were you?"James set his briefcase down on his desk, opening it. He sat down, making himself comfortable in his chair. "Now, Trip... I believe we have some issues to discuss." He pulled a stack of papers out of his briefcase, holding them out. "These have come for you. Your SAT scores seem to have impressed."
Jamie accepted the papers. "Not you," he muttered under his breath.
"What was that?" James snapped. He jumped to his feet, staring incredulously at Jamie.
Jamie began to sort through the papers. "Nothing, Dad." He blinked when he realized what the papers were. "These are acceptance letters to college."
"Yes, they are." James nodded slowly and sat back down. "Your... Scientific bent has interested quite a number of prominent schools."
"You opened them," Jamie muttered, shaking his head in confusion. He looked up. "Shouldn't a lawyer know that's, well... Illegal?"
James scowled. "I thought we would discuss your continued education." He folded his hands. "You will be attending Stanford."
Frowning, Jamie held up one of the letters. "Dad. I got into MIT." He smiled, his hand shaking. "I've wanted to go to MIT for... Well, ever."
"You're going to Stanford," James repeated. "You applied there and you were accepted."
"I also applied to MIT and was accepted." Jamie clutched the letter tightly in his hands, making sure not to wrinkle the precious paper. "Dad, it's MIT!"
"Trip," James sounded deadly serious. "I've given you many liberties in your life. I've let you continue to study what interests you. But you can't always do what you want. You have to do what's best for everyone. Now, I've made the arrangements for you. I even know who your roommate is going to be."
He handed Jamie a file. "His name is Connor Riley. I've secured you two the best room on campus."
Jamie studied the picture of the teenager in front of him. Frowning, he looked up at James. "He's a client, isn't he?"
"A client of the Los Angeles branch. However, they are under new management now and are unable to continue handling this case. The firm would like to keep him under close watch. I need your help."
Jamie looked away. "I'm not giving up my life for one of your clients."
"But Trip." James rose, walking around the desk. He strolled up behind Jamie, placing a hand on his shoulder. "I am going to be paying your tuition. And unfortunately, as brilliant as you are, you don't qualify for any scholarships. Not to mention how you're accustomed to a certain lifestyle. A lifestyle I have generously provided." His fingers tightened. "I can be much less generous if I wish.... Son."
Jamie shut his eyes, crumpling the acceptance letter from MIT in his fist. A few tears slid down his cheeks. "What do I have to do?"
The Nyazian Prophecies
and Tom Lenk
as Andrew Wells
Special Guest Star
as Wesley Wyndam-Pryce
"James David Black the Third, open this door right now!" Jules pounded on Jamie's door, jiggling the knob. She huffed out an exasperated sigh. "Will you please just talk to me?"
She was answered not by Jamie, but by Mick Jagger's singing increasing in volume. He had turned his stereo up to nearly full blast.
"All right!" Jules yelled. "If you're not going to open the door, then I'm going to have to take drastic measures!"
"Like leaving me alone?" Jamie hollered back.
"No, I'm going to get Connor's axe and I'm going to chop a hole in the door!" Jules crossed her arms over her chest, grinning. Under her breath, she began to count, "One, two..."
The door opened a crack. Jamie's face was barely visible. "What do you want, Jules? I'm trying to write my paper."
Jules pushed hard on Jamie's door, forcing it open. He had to stumble out of the way so she didn't barrel him down. "You're not trying to write a paper."
Jamie gestured to the large pile of books sitting on his bed. He smiled tightly at his younger sister. "Then what are those for? I realize, as you are studying to be a lawyer, you rely on those studying to be a legal aid to do all your work for you. I, on the other hand, have to do it myself."
Scowling, Jules pushed the books of the bed. She settled herself down and put her hands neatly in her lap. "I'm sure you do have a paper to write-- and I'm always working my butt off so bite me. You're just using your paper as an excuse not to talk to Connor."
Jamie's look darkened as he sat down on the floor. He pulled a book into his lap and looked down, trying to focus on the text. "I can't talk to Connor. He's not here. He's always out killing things."
"He's around when it's light out," Jules offered feebly. She frowned deeply. "You know he's going to move out if something doesn't happen."
Looking up, Jamie smiled evilly. "Does that mean that Andrew freak will stop sleeping on my couch?"
"He's actually a really nice guy." Jules reached out, pulling the book out of Jamie's lap, forcing him to look at her. "You would know that if you just tried to get to know him. He's even making us dinner."
"He brought a mace into our house!" Jamie exclaimed. "Who uses a mace? I mean, really?"
Silently, Jules gave an embarrassed smile and pointed to the wall.
Jamie turned and looked at the poster of Go Go Yubari on the wall. He sighed and turned back to Jules. "You are aware she was also shot to death on an island in the Pacific? It's fic-tion-al. The mace in the living room? Real."
"You have no idea what's going on." Jules stressed. "I've been talking to Andrew, reading his books. Things are bad and Connor is making them better."
"Well, I talked to Dad." Jamie got back to his feet. His eyes were burning with a unknown passion.
Jules blinked. After a moment, she smiled. "Well, that's... Good. A little non sequiturish, but none of the great scientists were known for being linear..."
"Dad knows about Connor. I mean... All of it. The demon fighting, his power." He sunk down on the bed next to Jules. His head was bowed solemnly. "He's always known. When I talked him, he told me everything. Even things Connor hadn't told me."
Jules' eyes had grown wide. She looked absolutely horror struck. "How... Dad can't know. We didn't even know until..."
"Connor is a client of dad's," Jamie continued. He reached out and took Jules' hand. "I've known that for... Well, as long as I've known Connor. I didn't understand it. Dad just told me he was special. I thought he was like... In training, for government computer encryptions or something X-Filesy. He told me not to tell you or Connor. I've been watching him."
Pulling her hand away, Jules go up. The look of utter astonishment on her face grew. She shook her head slowly. "You never liked Connor. He only lives with us because that's what Dad's firm wanted?"
"No!" Jamie jumped back to his feet. "I would never... I like Connor. Or, I did like Connor. I don't know-- It's all really... He's my friend-- was my friend. Not because of Dad or anything. I mean, you just can't help but like the guy."
"Preaching to the choir," Jules whispered, still looking as confused as ever.
"Jules, the things dad told me... They're..." He took a deep breath. "Scary."
Jules shook her head furiously. "I don't want to hear it."
"You have to." Jamie grabbed Jules by the arm. His finger dug into her. "He's dangerous. And I'm not talking about the vampires that are trying to kill him. Wait until you hear what he did to his friends-- his father."
"We're his friends," Jules jerked away, storming to the door. "And he's never done anything to hurt us."
Jamie looked pleadingly at his sister. "We have no idea where he is. Or what terrible things he might be doing."
Stretched out on the small single bed, Connor concentrated harder on his book. He wasn't taking in any of the words, he just needed to focus on something. He rested his head against his hand, sighing deeply.
"That page must just be absolutely riveting. You haven't turned it in ten minutes."
Connor jerked his head up to look at Salome. He looked around her dorm room, blushing deeply. He had completely forgotten where he was. He sat up on the bed, smiling apologetically. "I was just... Well... I was..." He shook his head as he gave Salome the once over. "What are you doing?"
Salome's low riding jeans, tank top and even her face, were spattered with a multitude of paint colours. Her hair was up in a loose ponytail. She wore goggles over her wide black eyes. She grinned. "You really have been spacing. I've been creating art."
She spread her arms, gesturing to the canvas she had hung on the door. Paint had been slathered onto it, forming a very colourful abstract design. Splotches had missed the canvas and coloured the door and wall. Salome grin widened. "Don't tell Oni. She'd flip out if she knew I had paint around her books." She waved her hand dismissively at the piles on her roommate's bed. "I'll have it all cleaned up before she gets back from her Meeting of the Big Brains."
Connor cocked his head, studying the picture from another angle. He furrowed his brow. He had never been a great judge of art, but he wasn't exactly sure that what you would call what Salome had done. "I thought you were an Art History student."
"Ah, but behind every Art History student." Salome threw herself down on the bed, reclining beside Connor. "Is a frustrated artist."
Nodding, Connor laughed softly. "I won't even ask about the goggles."
"Sometimes I get paint in my eyes." With a slight scowl, Salome pushed the goggles up onto her forehead. She sighed dramatically. "Okay. Can I ask you something?" She sat up. Her lips were curved down in a frown. "What's up, Ace? You've been hanging out here with me-- Well, pretty much any time you're not in class or killing demons."
"Well..." Connor hemmed and hawed for a moment before giving Salome a smile. "You got fired so I can't hang out with you at the CoHo."
"It wasn't my fault!" Salome protested, jumping to her feet. She placed her hands firmly on her hips. "I was out saving people from vampires so I got in late or had to leave in the middle of my shift... And then getting thrown out a window definitely was not my fault. Besides, I have a job interview for somewhere way better." She paused in her rant and glared at Connor. "You. You're being avoidy."
"I'm not being avoidy," Connor looked down. "I'm just saying that we're hanging out here because you're not working." He started to collect his books. "You know, if you don't want me here, I can just go." He shoved his books into his bag and got up.
"Whoa! Easy there, Tex!" Salome grabbed Connor's shoulders, halting him. "That's not what I'm saying. I like hanging out with you. Really. I'm just a little surprised that you are."
Connor bowed his head, jerking away from Salome. He lifted his eyes just enough to glare at her. "I know what you're getting at."
"You're avoiding James and the Kid," Salome said. She frowned slightly, leaning in closer. "You're here because I'm a demon who has completely accepted every weird thing in your life and I don't ask you dumbass questions about it."
"You might want to rethink that statement," Connor muttered. He shrugged. "I'm here because I like being with you."
"Yeah. I'm sure you do." Salome smiled sadly, shaking her head. "But not as much as you don't like being around your roommates. It's like when you freaked over my demonocity. You would think a guy like you would be better with confrontation."
"You don't want to see me confrontational." Connor turned away, his shoulders slumped. "We're just... Having issues. I'm sorry if I'm here too much." He sighed. "Andrew's looking for a place we can stay. Once we find one, you'll never see me again."
Salome rolled her eyes. "God, Connor! Have you ever heard the term 'middle ground'? What's with the extremes? I'm not saying you have to go. I'm saying you should talk to your friends."
Whirling back around, Connor squared up against Salome. "I don't want to talk to my friends right now. I'll talk to them when I'm damn well ready."
Salome laughed bitterly. "You're never going to be damn well ready! You're going to shut them out like you were never friends because you're afraid of what they'd think of you."
Connor's mouth curled in a snarl. "What gives you the right you pry into my life?"
Hooking an arm around Connor neck, Salome pulled him to her. She crushed her mouth against his.
Muscles tightening, Connor was frozen by the feel of Salome's lips on his. After a moment, his eyes slid shut. His fists unclenched and he slid an arm around her waist, resting his hand on the small of her back. He pulled her closer to him.
As quickly as the kiss began, it ended. Connor's eyes snapped open and he pulled away. Panting, he stared wide-eyed at Salome. "Sal..."
She gave him a small smile.
All thoughts of Jamie and Jules had gone out of his head. Connor sat back down on the bed. He furrowed his brow. "You really...." He swallowed hard. After a moment, he managed to look up at Salome. "You actually..." He put a hand to his forehead. "I thought you were messing with me."
"What are you talking about?" Salome shifted uncomfortably. She finally pulled the goggles off her head. She fiddled with them in her hands.
"The flirting, the Jersey, the...." Connor frowned. "I didn't think you really... Salome... I think you're nice." He shifted in his seat. "You're great to have around to fight demons, but... I can't..."
Salome laughed. There was something hollow about it. " I was just trying to throw you off." She rolled her eyes dramatically. "Having an angry demon killer in my presence really isn't a good idea."
"Oh." Connor got up. "So... You don't want to be with me." He sighed in relief. "Oh good."
"Of course!" Salome turned away. "I mean." She wrung her hands, wrinkling her nose. "You're a nice guy and everything, Ace... But, ah, a demon hunter boytoy really isn't high on my list, y'know? Could get ugly."
She turned back around, forcing a smile on her face. "Anyway, I got a job interview in an hour. I have just enough time to clean up and head down there. So if you want to keep avoiding your friends, you've got to come with me."
"I'm not avoiding," Connor insisted.
"Yeah, yeah." Salome picked a rag up off the dresser, holding it out to Connor. "Protest while you help me clean."
Head down, Jules shuffled into the kitchen. Andrew was busy at the oven, peering inside. Frowning, Jules sat down at the table. "I didn't even know we had an apron."
Andrew closed the oven door and stood up. He crossed his arms over his chest. "With the way you guys eat, I'm surprised you knew the stove worked." He relaxed slightly and pulled up a chair across from Jules. "So, he's still..."
Jules nodded. "He's still." She bit her lower lip. "Andrew, what was Connor like before? You said his memories had been changed. I mean that would change him, wouldn't it? So what was he like before."
Andrew looked down, pulling the oven mitts off his hands. He shifted in his seat and shrugged. "I really don't know. I didn't meet Connor until last month."
"Don't do that," Jules whispered dangerously. "I'm so sick and tired of you boys avoiding talking about this." She kicked Andrew in the shins. He squeaked and looked up at her. "I deserve to know the truth. What was he like?"
Clearing his throat, Andrew seemed to become five years older as he prepared to speak. "He was... Confused. He didn't understand this world. People manipulated him, isolated him. There was a lot of pain."
"Was he dangerous?" Jules whispered, shrinking down.
Andrew looked away. "He was confused."
"But he's fine now." Jules' tiny voice shook with uncertainty. "He wouldn't hurt any of his friends, right?"
Jumping out of his seat, Andrew plastered a large grin on his face. He started to put his oven mitts back on "How about some dinner? You look hungry."
Jules' eyes grew wide. "Oh..." She bit her lip. "Really?"
Andrew opened up the oven. He pulled out a steaming pie. He kept grinning feebly at Jules. "It's filled with steak and kidney goodness."
"Andrew." Jules looked up at him pleadingly.
Andrew set the pie down on the table. He took a deep breath and nodded slowly. "It's possible. He certainly has a history of it. But I think... I think Connor would rather die than hurt his friends. That's why he has me." He held up the newspaper that had been sitting on the table. There were many red circles on the page. "He's afraid you'll get hurt with him around."
"I don't want him to go." Jules sniffled.
Andrew leaned over, patting her on the hand. "Have you told him that?"
Jules looked up. "Not in so many words..." She shrugged. "Then, Connor hasn't been talking to me an awful lot. See, I'm not a sexy purple demon."
"He doesn't tell her everything." Andrew offered helpfully. He got a knife from the drawer and began to cut up the pie. After he was finished cutting, he went to the cupboard and got out plates. He sighed as he looked at Jules' sad expression. "If it makes you feel any better, I think the fact he hates demons outweighs the sexual attraction he has for her."
Jules glared. "Strangely, no, it doesn't." She sighed. "I don't care if he ever does want to date me. I just want to know he's not going to completely disappear just because I'm normal and Jamie's being an idiot."
"Well..." Andrew scratched his chin. "Maybe there's something you could do."
"What?" Jules asked, becoming eager.
"Maybe you could become a Watcher." He brightened considerably. "Hey... That's not bad. I could teach you. I could be your Yoda.... Your Dumbledore. I could show you how to research demons and how to control your Slayer."
Jules managed a small smile. "You really think I could be a Watcher?"
"With all of the Slayer who get murder raps, a lawyer would be a really good thing to have." Andrew smiled and pointed to Jules' plate. "It's getting cold."
"Oh..." Jules picked up a fork. She stabbed at the steak and kidney pie. Grimacing, she looked up at Andrew. "I'm actually supposed to eat this?"
Connor strode along beside Salome down the street. She bounced along, looking very content with herself. She had changed out of her paint-covered clothes into cut off jeans and a black mesh top.
"I don't want to criticize," Connor said, shoving his hands into his pockets. "But what kind of place are you interviewing for? That dress doesn't so much scream professional as it does--"
"Vapid whore?" Salome suggested with a playful grin. "Because that's really what I was going for."
"You're not vapid." Connor offered.
Nodding, Salome gave him a sideways look. "But the whore thing, I'm just all over that."
Connor shook his head. "I was just asking you what kind of job you were trying to get."
"Bartender," Salome replied as she turned down an alley.
Connor followed after her. "Bartender? How can you work at a bar? You're not even old enough to drink in one."
Stopping in front of a door, Salome turned back to Connor. "Ace, I'm twenty-five."
Connor blinked. "Since when?"
"Since I ceased being twenty-four." She shrugged. "It's a demon thing. Different maturity rates. I was in my terrible twos until I was four. Besides--" She morphed into her demon form. "The last demon bar I worked at didn't even have a license."
"Demon bar?" Connor stepped in front of the door, blocking Salome's path. "You're applying for a job at a demon bar? Whatever happened to killing demons?"
"It'll be easier for you to kill them when they're drunk." Salome reached for the door handle. "Besides, the guy who runs this place is supposed to be really nice. And I won't have to strain myself with my glamour all the time. And I might be able to get some information on Clarice. Can you just--" She tried to open the door. "--Get out of the way?"
"Salome." Connor gave her a stern look. "This isn't a good idea."
"Please don't make me hit you," Salome begged. She bounced up and down impatiently. "Because then you'll hit me and I'll have to hit you back and it will all be so very ugly. If you're worried, come in with me. You'll see there's nothing wrong."
She rolled her eyes when he didn't move. "You know, I'm an adult and I can do whatever the hell I want. You're not the boss of me. If you're not happy about this, you can just go and confront your roommates who you are so anxious to avoid."
Connor didn't budge from his spot in front of the door. Salome whined, wrinkling her nose. "Connor! I need to pay my tuition!"
Reluctantly, Connor moved out of the way. She gave a curt nod. "There. That's better. Thank you." Salome opened the door and strode in. She could fell Connor walking close behind her. She scowled. "Want to back up, Ace? You're in my personal bubble."
Connor looked around, frowning as surveyed the bar. It didn't look much different than a normal bar, except for the black symbols painted on the walls. "What's with the decor?"
Salome looked up at the symbols. She shrugged. "Runes. It's either a spell or just some funky decoration."
"Don't ask, don't tell, kitten," a cheerful voice called out from behind the bar. Both Connor and Salome turned to the bar, but saw no one there.
"Hello?" Connor called out. He reached into his jacket, wrapping his fingers around his knife.
"You're Salome?" A green demon popped up from behind the counter. "Who's your boy--" Lorne stared at Connor. "Oh, balls."
Jamie poked his head out of his bedroom. Eyes narrowed, he looked around suspiciously. The phone cord was stretched from the desk in the living room all the way into Jules' bedroom. The door was shut tightly.
But Jules was sitting at the fully set kitchen table, a plate of food in front of her. She looked back at him. She gestured to the seat beside her. "Come on, Jamie. It's safe to come out. Connor's not here and Andrew's in my room."
Jamie stepped out hesitantly. He ducked under the phone cord before walking slowly to the kitchen table. He sniffed the air, grimacing. "What's that smell?"
"Dinner," Jules sighed. She poked at her food with her fork. "I don't know if it's supposed to smell that way because it's British... Or if Andrew is just a really bad cook."
"Why is Andrew in your bedroom?" Jamie asked carefully as he pulled the chair next to Jules out and sat down.
"Conference call with the Watcher's Council." Jules sounded very casual. "He needed some privacy. He also knew you would never come out of your room to eat if he was talking about all of that 'voodoo crazy person stuff'." She glared at him.
"I never said that," Jamie cried defensively. "Geez, Jules. Don't put words into my mouth. You're making me sound like some prejudice moron."
Jules arched a brow. "You are some prejudice moron."
"Do you think this is easy for me?" Jamie snapped. "Everything Andrew and Connor have told us in the last week flies in the face of everything I've ever known. It doesn't make any sense, Jules. I can't just accept it. Maybe you can, but... I need to understand it."
"If you need to understand it--" Jules stared back down at her plate. "--why are you trying as hard as you can to ignore it?"
"It's not safe." Jamie put a hand on Jules' shoulder. "My priority is making sure you're safe. I don't care about vampires or demons or the end of the world. I need to take care of you. I promised mom."
"I'm sure if your mother were alive, she would understand you being in this world."
Both Jules and Jamie looked to the door. Jamie's face contorted to a look of horror, while Jules squealed and jumped to her feet. "Daddy!"