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Fan Fiction: Lesser Men
Chapter Thirteen: Coffee and Conversation
Jonathan crept quietly down the stairs a little after ten o'clock Friday morning. He still had Wesley's keys from the day before, and he was thinking about borrowing the motorcycle for a quick breakfast run. He'd been hoping that he could get out the door without having to field any awkward questions, but it didn't look like that was going to happen. He could already hear voices drifting up from the lobby.
"Jonathan?" That voice was a little closer. Apparently, there was someone following him down the stairwell, too.
Jonathan turned to look. Great. It was the cryptic demon-guy again. "Hey. Lorne, right?"
"Yeah. Look, Jonathan, I just wanted you to know that you're doing the right thing. It's not always easy or attractive, but trust me, it's a lot more fulfilling in the end."
Jonathan blinked at him. What was this guy, anyway? Beyond the obvious non-human thing? "Are you psychic or something?"
Lorne rolled his eyes a little. "Or something. I read people's auras. Usually when they're singing, but you were lit up like a lighthouse last night. Hard not to take a peek, you know?"
Jonathan couldn't quite hold back an involuntary shudder. He'd never liked the idea of having other people in his head. "Well thanks for the encouragement but, could you not do that anymore? It's wigging me out."
Lorne smiled. "I see what I see, kid. And I see you, in front of a microphone, really soon."
Jonathan shuddered again, and resumed walking down the stairs. "Thanks, but I think I'll take a rain-check on that."
Lorne laughed, and followed him down the stairwell.
When they reached the lobby, it looked like breakfast was already in progress. Cordelia, Gunn, and Fred were busy with doughnuts and coffee, and there were more of each set out on the counter.
Fred saw them first. "Hey, guys! Good morning. There's plenty of food, help yourselves. We're just waiting for Wesley to wake up. We're keeping the agency closed for now, so there's not much else to do."
"Thanks," Jonathan said, and took one of the paper cups and a maple bar. It looked like the custard-filled kind; yum. "It's nice of you guys to feed me."
"Don't get used to it." Cordelia frowned at him. "I still don't trust you. How did you run into Wesley, anyway?"
Well, here goes. How to tell the truth in the least incriminating way possible? "I left Sunnydale Wednesday night. Warren was starting to creep me out, he doesn't care anymore who gets hurt or killed in his little plans. So I packed up some stuff and caught a cab to L.A. I was going to just hang out and hide, but this guy, Ethan Rayne, tracked me to my hotel."
"Ethan Rayne?" Cordelia interrupted him. "The creep who messed with the band candy? Not only did I have to see my mom in lycra, Snyder made us clean up graffiti at the high school."
"Whoa, that sounds like the old Cordelia," Angel said. He walked into the lobby, smiling wryly, and took another of the cups of coffee.
"It's Jonathan's fault," she said irritably. "I'm already all worked up, and here he is, reeking of Sunnydale."
"Hey," Jonathan objected. "I don't reek. But yeah, that's the Ethan Rayne I meant."
"What did he want with you?" Gunn asked, curiously. "Wesley talked about him once. The guy sounds like a bad-ass."
Jonathan sighed. "Well, yeah. But it's complicated. I've been Jonathan Levinson all my life, but I've always known I was adopted. Then, yesterday, this guy Ethan appears, and says he's my real dad."
"Your dad?" Angel asked, sounding alarmed. "You said he was behind the Holtz disguise thing, but you never said..."
"Let me finish, okay?" It was Jonathan's turn to interrupt. He didn't want anyone drawing unpleasant conclusions before he was done. "Ethan wanted me to go with him and do the father-son chaos thing. I said thanks, but no thanks. He left. End of story. Except that he was messing with Wesley too, and I decided to help Wesley get back wherever he needed to go. That's how I ended up here."
"You're sure that's the whole story?" Angel asked. "You're not here to spy on us for Ethan?"
Jonathan snorted. "I get the impression he could find out anything he wanted to know without any help, especially help from me. I have some magic skills, but not much else, and nothing on his scale."
"I believe him, Angelcakes," Lorne spoke up. "He's clean."
"Well. So where are you going next?" Fred asked, piping up. "Any big plans for the weekend? Or just more hiding out from those friends of yours? We could help with that, probably, if you hired us. Except that we're busy with other stuff right now."
"Um, actually... I was hoping I could stick around. You know, find out what happens. If you don't mind. I have some things I'd like to ask Wesley and Mr. Giles, too, about Ethan. In case he comes back."
Jonathan scuffed the toe of his shoe on the tiled floor, hoping they wouldn't object. Actually, it was more than just the Ethan thing, anymore. He wanted to see the end of this thing. He'd heard only about half the story in bits and pieces, like a swiss-cheesed soap opera, and he was fascinated. This was serious stuff, the kind of thing Watchers would write in their secret history books, he thought. Vampires with kids, time-travelling, psychic demons, who knew what else.
Besides, he'd been useful a couple of times already. Maybe he could find something else to do. He was sure anything these guys were involved in would be better than hiding out somewhere, or wandering around on his own trying to find a way to make money in this town.
The group studied him for a few minutes, then looked at each other. "Okay," Angel said, at last. "Just don't do anything you might regret, because we'll make sure you do."
"Got it." Jonathan said.
That settled, he started making a big deal with the eating, so he wouldn't have to answer any more questions. He was just finishing the last of his coffee and listening to the others' small talk when the front doors opened again, and another familiar face walked in.
"Ah. Hello. I understand Wesley is here?"
"Giles!" Cordelia set down her coffee cup and gave the older British man a hug. "It's good to see you. Yes, he's here. We're just waiting for him to show his face again."
"It's good to see you too, Cordelia." Giles smiled at Cordy, then pulled back to greet the others. It wasn't long before he noticed Jonathan, and his eyes narrowed immediately.
"Uh, hey, Mr. Giles." Jonathan shuffled his feet a little nervously. The others were fairly convinced now that he wasn't evil, but it wasn't their Slayer he'd been bothering.
Giles frowned. "Wesley mentioned that you were here. I trust this means that you have left off your plans to rule Sunnydale?"
Jonathan winced. Sarcasm. Well, it was better than being yelled at, or blasted into a crisp on sight. "Pretty much. Being evil wasn't as much fun as I thought it would be, anymore."
"Evil seldom is, in the long run," Giles replied. "At least, for men of conscience. Of course, that doesn't lessen the consequences for your crimes."
"Um, yeah," Jonathan said, looking away. "I kinda figured that." He'd been hoping to evade the worst of it, of course, but since when was he that lucky?
Giles nodded. "So. As to those consequences. Anya said that your group has been involved in robbery, murder, and the consistent terrorizing of Buffy and her friends. Is this true?"
What kind of a question was that? No, he knew what kind of a question that was. What kind of an answer was he supposed to give? Say 'yes', and get the third degree for the badness. Say 'no', to any degree, and get the third degree for lying.
"Um, well, kind of. But Warren was the one who actually killed Katrina, and he was the one trying to hurt Buffy. I was just..." Jonathan sighed. "I didn't know what I was getting into, I guess. I like Buffy, really. She's, well, she's the only real superhero I've ever met. I never thought things would get so messy."
Giles opened his mouth to say something else, then shut it again as his focus shifted somewhere behind Jonathan. There were more footsteps on the lobby floor; sounded like Wesley was up and mobile again. Good! Maybe Giles would forget the rest of his lecture.
He could dream, couldn't he?
© 2004 Jedi Buttercup.