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Lay Down

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You ask for peace; I give you war.
While you let go, I hold too tightly.
I take my aim, you hit the floor.
I'm not ready to lay down my arms.

~ Natasha Bedingfield





He didn’t know how to interact with someone who wanted nothing from him.

Holtz had wanted a soldier, an avenging replacement for the child taken from him too soon, while Angel had wanted to parent a child who had never in fact existed save a few short months.

Two different fathers had stolen from him two different lives under the same pretense: that he might have a chance. Neither realized they had left him with almost none.

Cordelia had never been given a chance or a choice, except for the one she was manipulated into making and, in the end, she had paid the price for all of them.

Xander just wanted to love him, but Connor couldn’t allow it, despite his own desires, a longing so ardent, so desperate, it bordered on violent. And no one knew better than he, except perhaps for Angel, his capacity for violence.

His guilt and his anger were punishing, and he was terrified that one day he might turn them outward on yet another innocent person.

He wondered how Xander could look at him and not see Cordelia’s blood on his hands.

Patience, kindness, surrender.

Traits he once considered abject weaknesses he now recognized as strengths thanks to Xander, who treated him with respect and as a person in his own right and not as the extension of another, who blamed him no more for Cordelia’s death than he blamed him for his mother’s murder of Jesse, or Buffy for the loss of his eye.

Connor had learned through loss the art of accountability, and that he himself was not responsible for the decisions of others.

Still, he kept pushing, kept fighting, testing the limits and waiting for Xander to give up, to go away, to abandon him.

Instead there were whispers of devotion that were neither forced nor quixotic, support unyielding and love unconditional.

His chance had finally come.