Cordelia knocked on the door to Angel’s apartment. "Angel? Hello? Are you in there?"
He didn’t answer, but she heard movement. That was good enough for her. There was no such thing as privacy when you were Angel—the man’s sex life was an issue of world importance for crying out loud—so she just barged right in.
"Hi, Angel. I was just stopping by to do something sweet and maternal while you stood around making googly eyes at oh, my God!"
Now, admittedly, if God was present, Angel would undoubtedly be making googly eyes at Him/Her/It. But God was not present, and the events that were taking place in Angel’s apartment sent Cordelia fleeing back out into the hallway, screaming for the other members of Angel Investigations.
The other four people who seemed to do nothing else with their lives but wait around the hotel for something bad to happen came running. Their reactions were the same in tone, if not content, as Cordelia’s. Lorne gasped and grabbed his heart in shock—Cordelia, who knew nothing of the anatomy of the Deathwok clan, had no clue why he suddenly grabbed his own butt—and started to weep. As much as he’d complained, he’d liked the little drool factory. Wesley just stared in open-mouthed horror and shock. Fred was staring, too, but it was at least partly in fascination. She hadn’t seen such a mess since one of the horse-demons in Pylea had gotten into some Gooshplish Weed, which was both a laxative and an emetic. That had been the day she’d run away. There are some fates that are much worse than death, and cleaning the stables that day was one of them.
Surprisingly enough, it was Gunn who tossed his cookies.
"My God, Angel," Wesley said. "What have you done?"
What he’d done was completely dismember and eviscerate Connor, then start feeding once-important organs into the same living fire that had been used to destroy the Glove of Myhnegon. But that was so obvious that Angel assumed that wasn’t what Wesley had meant.
"Don’t worry, Wesley," he reassured the ex-Rogue Demon Hunter as he dropped Connor’s ex-pancreas into the flames. "It’s okay."
Gunn, finished with his most recent cookies, began tossing the previous night’s.
"How is it okay?" Wesley demanded, outraged.
"Well it’s not, now," Angel said as he reached for Connor’s former spleen. "You’re paying to get that cleaned, Gunn."
"That’s not what I’m talking about!" Wesley shouted. "Are you even aware of the fact that you’ve murdered your son, Angel?"
Angel wondered if Wesley maybe wasn’t a little dense. Or thought that he, himself was. You don’t put this much effort into something and not realize you’re doing it. "Oh, that," he said. "He’s not my son."
That brought them all up short. They’d gone through an awful lot of melodramatics for this kid, and it hadn’t even been their worry in the first place? But still…
Cordelia switched into her "Hothead Cordelia Paisan" persona and began one of her "Men Are Evil" rants. "Oh, sure it’s not yours. Isn’t that just like a man, trying to evade your responsibility after using that poor woman—"
Wesley’s reaction time was a little slower. "Then whose…?" He asked blankly. Then he shook his head. "That still doesn’t make it right."
"You don’t understand," Angel said as he dropped Connor’s gall bladder into the flames (Behind him, Fred patted Gunn on the back as he started tossing the cookies he’d eaten for afternoon snack time on his third day of kindergarten) "He’s not human. He’s not even a vampire. He’s a MacGuffin demon."
"That’s just the kind of lie you’d expect from a man," Cordelia snarled.
"How do you know that?" Wesley challenged.
Angel reached over to where Connor’s eyeless head sat on his bedside table and flicked its ear. It snarled a mouthful of needle-sharp teeth at him.
The entire crew of Angel Investigations leaped backwards. There were only two women present, but there were at least three girly shrieks. And Angel was by no means certain that the women accounted for two or even one out of the three shrieks. Sometimes, his crew scared him. A lot.
"That’s how," He said.
"But how did you know?" Fred asked. "You know—before you started gutting Connor?"
In answer, Angel turned to Wesley. "Wes, what did you do before you came here?"
"I was a Rogue Demon Hunter," Wesley answered promptly.
"And before that?"
That was a stumper. "Um…uh…"
"So you were never a Watcher?" Angel asked.
"A what?" Wesley asked, blank confusion on his face.
"Angel, have you overdosed on Highlander again?" Cordelia accused. "I don’t know why you’re so addicted to that show. All you do is complain about the historical inaccuracies."
"Cordelia, where is Sunnydale?" Angel challenged.
"There’s an actual town named that?" Cordelia said, disgusted. "It sounds like something out of a fifties sitcom."
"That’s what I thought. And here’s the $64,000 dollar question: What is a Slayer, and who is Buffy Summers?"
They all stared back at him blankly.
"Someone actually named their child Buffy?" Cordelia asked at last. "Was it a difficult labor, or did they just give Mom a lot of morphine?"
"Okay," Angel said. He picked up Connor’s snarling head and dropped it into the fire. The entire staff of Angel Investigations froze for a moment, staring blankly into space. Then they slowly started to come back to themselves, looking around in confusion as if awakened from a dream. "Now try."
Cordelia began to wipe her hands desperately on her pants. "Ew, ew, ewww," she said. "I’ve been cuddling up to you—you’ve been cuddling up to me—you’re like my brother!"
"I know," Angel said, a distasteful look on his own face.
"How did you know?" Wesley repeated.
"Demons are genetically programmed to make the dumbest possible move in any given situation," Angel explained. "Like Spike waving the Gem of Amara in Buffy’s face rather than putting it on a toe and in his boot, or Mohra demons refusing to wear helmets that cover the gem that’s their only weakness. Even if they have momentary flashes of brilliance, they have to undermine themselves in some way. This is why the Elder Gods ended up getting banished, and the human gods took over."
"I’m sure you’re coming to a point sometime today," Gunn said
"I’m getting there," Angel assured him. "MacGuffin demons are even worse: each is unique and extremely powerful and has a specific purpose, but they are stupid above and beyond the common run of demonkind. Take the Judge: he just stood there with a dumb expression on his face while Buffy pointed something that was obviously a weapon at him and Dru and I dove for cover. How about the First Evil? All he had to do was use a hallucination to trick me out into the sunlight. Instead, he torments me into going for help. Brilliant."
"The Judge’s purpose was to destroy humans," Wesley said. "And the First Evil’s is to tempt and torment the righteous. What was Connor’s purpose?"
"To destroy us," Angel answered. "Apparently, we’ve annoyed the Lower Beings so much—specifically, the ones known as Jozwe Dunn and the Dubbal Yubee—that they created a MacGuffin demon whose sole purpose was to take us out. Connor was supposed to make us so unappealing to Those Who Watch, the ones who stand behind The Powers That Be, that they’d demand that we be destroyed."
"It almost worked," Gunn said. "I mean, Angel’s been macking on Cordy—and you’ve turned into a dork, besides, man. Sorry to say, but that time you were raving about the Charlton Heston film festival, you reminded me of guys I used to shake down for lunch money."
"I know, I know."
" I’ve been losing my streetwise cool," Gunn continued. "Lorne is acting normal, while Cordy’s switching personalities between Lorena Bobbitt and Mother Theresa--"
"Poor woman," Cordelia muttered. "She’s a demon. A 400-year-old, blood-drinking demon. Who tried to eat me. ‘Poor Woman’ my well-toned ass."
"And we’ve all forgotten our past," Wesley said. "We barely talked about Buffy’s resurrection. It was a miracle, and we never even asked how it happened."
"So what was his mistake?" Fred asked.
"He went too far," Angel answered. "I was writing in my journal, pining away over Cordelia, when my picture of Buffy fell out. I barely remembered who it was until I read some of my earlier volumes. But when I read and remembered, the spell was broken. That was when I started putting things together. Me forget about Buffy? Me stop brooding, especially when I had such a good reason to brood? Who did it think it was fooling?"
"Well, then," Wesley said, brushing off his hands as if he’d been the one feeding Connor’s body parts to the flames. "I guess that’s that."
"Not yet," Angel said. "We have to get to Sunnydale."
"Why?" Cordelia asked. Returning to the scene of some of her greatest defeats didn’t appeal to her.
"I tortured some information out of Connor before I killed him: Jozwe Dunn and the Dubbal Yubee sent a similar MacGuffin demon there, to destroy Buffy. She’s already caused so much damage to Sunnydale reality that even the benevolent spirits of Yu Piyen are having trouble repairing it. She must be feeding directly from the Hellmouth."
"She?" Wesley asked. "You don’t mean—"
"Of course I do," Angel said. "Now let’s go. And bring a blowtorch or something. For a MacGuffin demon this powerful, the knives have to be heated."