Woodbridge, VA – 1967
Andrew Hotchner was a normal five-year-old boy. He lived with his mother and father in a modest, three-bedroom house in Virginia. His mother – Jane Hotchner – was a receptionist at the local hospital, while his father – Earnest – was a criminal lawyer. Andrew loved his parents, even if they were distant and too focused on their careers at times. He looked forward to going to school each day, because it gave him a chance to be around people his own age.
The day everything changed was a Saturday. There was no significance attached to the date; it was, by all appearances, just another day. Earnest had gone into the office to prepare for an upcoming case, and Jane was cleaning the house. Andrew was upstairs, building a tower out of blocks. He was just adding a platform at the top of the structure when it happened. In an instant, he became one of six human beings to survive the apocalypse.
Andrew Wells remembered himself. He could recall having parents that neglected him in favor of his sadistic older brother; killing his own best friend to appease an entity more evil than anything else in existence. For the first time in over fifty years he could remember, with perfect clarity, the moment a former vengeance demon died to protect him. He saw the years of his life go rushing by, from his lonely childhood immersed in science fiction through to his last years as a bald magician battling the forces of darkness with his friends.
Roughly seventy years' worth of memories flooded into him at once. It lasted less than a minute. If not for his heavy breathing, there would be no outward sign that anything had happened at all. Andrew opened his eyes to see the structure he had been building. He remembered installing cameras throughout Sunnydale, and being unnerved when one of those cameras showed the missing mental patients building a life-size version, complete with the platform. Of course, Jonathan and Warren had shut the camera off as soon as he drew their attention to it, saying that it wasn't important to their plans. He punched his fist into the blocks, scattering them across his room.
Andrew ran downstairs, desperate to be held by his mother. In the absence of someone who truly knew what had happened, he would settle for the most important person in his new life, even if he couldn't tell her the truth. Somehow, he doubted that she would believe – or even understand – if he told her that he could remember growing old or fighting demons.
Or, he thought as he skidded to a halt at the bottom of the stairs, that I could summon demons and perform basic spells.The thought caused him to change direction, heading into the backyard instead of the kitchen. He sat at the base of a tree, closing his eyes and attempting the meditation exercises Willow and Dawn had once tried to teach him.
Six months later, Andrew had managed to levitate pencils and change the color of his backpack. He considered it great progress, as he didn't want to rush the magic and risk turning evil. Unfortunately, he had become so focused on retraining himself magically that he had let his social and scholastic requirements slip.
He entered the house quietly, not wanting to alert his parents to his presence. Unfortunately, his young body was still clumsy and awkward, and he tripped over an untied shoelace. The sound of Andrew crashing into the coat rack brought both his parents rushing to the front door. He briefly considered playing the moment up for sympathy, but the note in his backpack – one requiring a parent's signature – had him foregoing that plan. They would be unhappy enough about the note without him lying about being hurt.
"Andrew, are you alright?" Jane asked, helping him to his feet. "Did you hurt yourself?"
"What happened?" Earnest added, looking a bit confused.
"I'm okay," Andrew reassured them. "I tripped. My shoes came untied."
"You know how to tie your own shoes." Jane glared at her husband after his statement. He simply shrugged at her as if to say, 'Well, he does.' Andrew had to hide a grin.
"I wanted to come home faster. I have to give you something from my teacher."
"Okay. But in the future, you need to take the extra minute. We don't want you getting hurt."
"And why didn't one of the older children remind you of that on your way home?" Jane asked, referring to the group of children, ranging from Kindergarten to Junior High, who lived nearby and walked to and from school each day.
"They were all talking about a game at the high school this weekend."
"Mm-hmm… Alright, now what was this about something from your teacher?" Jane reminded him.
"Right. Um… first I want to say that I know I can do better, and I was just distracted lately. This won't happen ever again," Andrew promised as he handed the note to his parents. He stood silently and watched their expressions as they looked at the note. First was the amusement all parents seemed to get when their child tried to sound older than they were, followed by confusion and concern. They settled on disappointment as both adults turned to their son.
"Andrew. This says that you haven't been paying attention in class. Your grades have dropped drastically in the past few months, and you aren't interacting with other children. Your teacher wants to know if something happened recently to cause this shift in personality." Andrew was confused for a moment; it seemed as though his father was more concerned about a perceived attack on their family than he was about Andrew's grades.
"I just… I'm learning to play the flute," Andrew blurted out. He could have smacked himself as soon as he said it. While technically true, the flute was actually used as a tool for his magic. Besides which, his parents would –
"Why do you want to learn the flute? And where did you even find one?"
– want to know where he had gotten hold of a flute. Oh well. In for a penny…
"Mr Jorgensen next door has a flute that he lets me borrow. He even taught me a couple really neat tricks! And I read in a book that children have a better chance of getting into college if they can play an instrument."
"Is that why you've been spending your weekends next door lately?" Jane asked. Andrew nodded.
Earnest concentrated on the second part of his son's statement. "Aren't you a little young to be worried about college? Andrew, you're six. Concentrate on being a kid for now. College will come later."
So, so very different from the mindset of parents in and after the nineties,Andrew mused. "But I like the flute," he protested aloud.
"If you enjoy it," Earnest started, "and it doesn't cause any more problems at school, you can continue to learn. If you ever want to get a real tutor, we'll even discuss that. But Andrew, your grades had better not drop this low everagain."
For just a moment, Andrew was strongly reminded of Tucker's anger, and the results of having it turned on him. Then the moment was gone, and the man before him was just a concerned parent. "I promise."