Angel couldn’t believe what he was hearing. He couldn’t believe that he was wasting his time with his enemy, and hearing what she thought would help fix all his worries. Or his main worry.
Angel shook his head, looking away from Lilah.
The lawyer sighed.
“Angel, this is it. It’s the only chance you get.” She pointed at the TV screen within the W&H office. The news was still playing, headlining the trauma of what his offspring had become.
There stood young Connor, maneuvering his way through the mall’s hall.
Angel refused to admit defeat. He was being offered to head the LA branch of Wolfram and Hart, an evil law firm whose clients round up most of the evils that Angel prides himself in ridding.
Lilah continued to watch him. The newsman spoke again, confirming what they could both already see.
“…evacuated and bomb units have been called to the scene where police say more than a dozen promenade shoppers are being held hostage at this hour. Police are trying to identify the suspect from these security camera pictures. So far, no motive is known for the siege, and the suspect has refused to speak with law enforcement officials. We'll keep you updated as this intense drama unfolds.”
Angel looked at the young boy on the screen. His boy.
“You set this whole thing up,” he accused, growling at the woman in front of him.
Lilah rolled her eyes.
“Been a little busy being dead.”
“You, the Senior Partners, whoever. Get them on the phone and make it stop now”
“Love to, except for the little bit where we didn’t have anything to do with-
“But you know who did!”
“Yeah, and I’m looking at him.”
Angel glared at her, refusing to say a word he turned toward the door, ready to collect his team and head home.
“One time offer only, Angel. Walk out that door, deal's off. Stay, and it's all yours.”
Around the law firm, Lorne, Fred, Gunn, and Wesley were all touring with their respective guides. Each was being ‘wowed’ through the departments that would become their own – that is to say, if Angel were to accept.
Lorne was being showcased the entertainment division of the firm, which consequently represented all of his idols. Though skeptical at first, Lorne was certainly enjoying the possibility.
Knox, the head supervisor of the science department of Wolfram and Hart, led Fred. The lab where she was led was fully staffed and looked to have the latest technology available. She kept a large gun with her, thinking that at a moments notice someone might want to try something funny and this way she would feel protected.
Wesley skeptically followed his guide into a library, testing the man’s knowledge of the prophecies all the whole maintaining his initial thoughts of checking for any signs indicating an evil plan.
Gunn was led by a pretty looking lady named Lacey. Not certain of how he would be of any help in any way that did not include combat, Gunn allowed himself to follow Lacey, with little wonder as to what was really being offered to him.
Angel stilled before he reached the door. He knew it was a bad idea. He knew what the building and everything inside it stood for. It was everything that was wrong with the world. He hated everything about it and would no, could not, be a part of it.
Not like this.
He looked sideways at the image of Connor, his baby boy and reason to live, the son that he never thought he could have. The boy he would dive headfirst right back into hell for.
“I can’t do it, Lilah. Not the way that you’re hoping.” Angel turned away from the door and walked purposely over to her.
“What have you got in mind?”
“Connor,” Angel said in a hard voice, letting her know he was leading her into difficult waters that would only led one way. “What can you do for him? What can you do about that?” Angel asked, nudged his head towards the screen but refusing to turn towards it again.
“We can take away all his sufferings. Make all this life like a bad dream. Give him something real. You just say the word.”
Angel glared at her.
“What, just give up my son? He’s fifteen! He can’t just-
“You let him roam the streets for a month, and now you care?”
“I ALWAYS cared! I watched out for him!”
“Yet, you failed to see this coming?”
“You’re not doing a very good job of wowing me Lilah,” Angel said irritated.
“So, what’ll it be?”
The police have the building surrounded. Inside, the hostages are sitting on the floor, wired to a makeshift explosive device fashioned from propane canisters taped to each person's chest.
Connor stood before the people, pacing slightly as he watched them stoically. He glared at one man, causing him to flinch backwards.
They don’t understand. None of them do. How can they keep living like this? How could they possibly want to?
Connor tensed. He felt the shift in the room and smelled that familiar scent. He wasn’t sure if he was ready for the confrontation, but ultimately that was the reason behind the scandal.
“You got in, I thought you might.”
Turning around, Connor looked up to see his father, Angel standing on a balcony in the upstairs part of the store.
Angel jumped down from the balcony, landing a few yards in front of his son.
There’s an explosion coming from behind Angel and he jumped slightly, startled. The hostages are all in various stages of panic, mostly crying.
“You might not want to move,” Connor said, eerily calm. “Everyone's rigged. Can't save 'em all, dad.” Connor shrugged, looking sideways at the hostages. “Don't know who's gonna be first. Could be any one of 'em.” Connor gave his father a little smile, not at all friendly and nowhere near reaching his eyes. He pushed aside a heavy jacket he was wearing to reveal to Angel that he too was rigged. “Could be me.” He stepped back a few steps, keeping his watch on his father. When he was besides a clothing rack, he looked down at a slump figure now besides him. “Could be her.”
Angel tensed, had he had a beating heart he was certain that it would have stopped at the sight of what he son had just revealed to him. Baby, how could you?
Not sure what he was being shown, Angel stepped hesitantly forward…
There laid Cordelia, wired like the others to a makeshift explosive device. Cordy, who had mysteriously vanished the same day that Connor appeared.
“Cordy? Connor, what have you done?”
Angel stared at the motionless figure in complete fear. Could it be possible that all this time Connor had taken her?
“I found her, walking around. She felt familiar, but she couldn’t remember anything. She smelled like you. I figured that you’d know her.”
Angel looked from his son to the figure lying slumped on the floor.
“Son, you have to listen to me. This isn’t the way to go about things.”
“What’s it even matter?”
“Of course it matters! It’s because it matters that it hurts so much-
Angered, Connor swiped at some items resting on a nearby counter. Angel tensed slightly at the movement.
“I didn't feel anything! I can't feel anything,” Connor yells back. He locked eyes with Angel. “I guess I really am your son... 'cause I'm dead, too.”
Angel started walking towards his son, hating the words that were leaving the teens mouth. He knew that the boy’s mental health was unstable, but he hoped that he might help him.
“You’re not dead. You’re just starting your life-
“No, you just weren’t there before!”
Angel’s eyes start to tear at the words, hitting him straight at his soul.
“I know. I’m so –
“Do NOT say that you’re sorry!” Connor yelled back at him, stopping his father’s apology. “It doesn’t fix anything.” Connor started pacing before him, a mixture of emotions raving through his young mind and injured heart.
“Ok,” conceded Angel, blinking back a few tears. “Look, let me say this. I love you, son.”
“It’s a lie,” murmured Connor to himself.
Angel took a slow step towards his son.
“It’s not,” he said, trying to convey all his love in that simple phrase.
Connor turned slightly away from him, hanging his head. He took a deep breath, sighing what he felt was the ultimate truth.
“It’s always a lie. My own mother couldn’t even love me.”
Angel felt his throat dry up at the words. He could almost hear the words that his sire, Darla, had spoken to him on the night that his miracle son before him was born.
“You’re wrong. She did.”
Connor tilted slightly towards him. He continued his frantic pacing.
“No,” he said sadly, shaking his head. “No, she knew she couldn’t.”
“She sacrificed herself, because she loved you,” Angel gasped out, silently pleading that the boy would understand. That he could understand she had left him so that he could live.
Connor stood still and looked back at his father.
“You tried to love me. At least I think you did.”
“I still do!”
“But not enough to hold on, Dad,” Connor replied in a small voice. He felt like the small child that he never was allowed to be. He wished that he could believe the words that his dad was saying, but he just couldn’t.
Connor looked back at Angel, glaring at him accusingly.
“You let him take me! You let him get me. You never came to find me!”
Angel gulped back some tears, trying to focus on what he had to do. He had to save Connor. He had to be strong for his son. It was his last chance.
In front of him, Connor turned fully around giving his back to his father. He faced Cordy, who he had spent the last week getting to know. The lady was really nice and real funny. She had a lot of quirks about her that annoyed the boy, but she was very much like him. Lost in a strange world. She couldn’t remember much of hers and he had been thrusted back into this one. From one hell into another.
She had seemed so nice to him. Could that have been a lie to?
“Cordy?” he asked the unconscious form. “You swore you’d help me understand this world. But you don’t belong in it either. Where are you now?”
Behind him, Angel pulled himself together, he took tentive steps towards his wayward son.
“Connor,” he whispered, unsure of how his son would react. “You have to believe that there are people that love you.”
“For what? What’s there to love, Dad? I have nothing in me for anyone to love. All there are, are lies.”
“That’s not true, Connor. You’re not a lie, and you’re not dead. You’re real, and we do love you. I want to give you everything. I want to take back the mistakes, help you start over.”
Angel kept taking steps forward, trying to reach his son, hating how the boy’s fingers lingered over the trigger remote button. Connor in step, took slower steps away, shaking his head slightly.
“We can’t start over,” he replied, barely above a whisper.
Angel stared back at him, clenching his hands, stopping them from reaching out the last few feet and wrapping his fragile son up in his arms. Instead, he whispered back to the boy a silent plea.
“We can! I mean, we can change things.” Please Connor, believe me. I can help you son, just believe me.
“There’s only one thing that ever changes anything,” responded Connor’s cold voice, sending a shiver down Angel’s spine. The resolution evident in the boy’s hurting eyes. “And that’s death.”
Angel began to cry at the words. No, Connor. Death is not a means, it’s the end. It’s not for you. Not now, and not anytime soon.
“Everything else is just a lie,” Connor said, seeing the hurt in his father’s eyes, hoping for the man to understand. After all, Angel did love him once before. Maybe, after, he would forgive him. Maybe in time, he would be able to understand.
“You can’t be saved by a lie,” Connor told him. “You can’t be saved at all.”
Connor looked down at the explosives strapped to him. He started to try and activate it when he startled backwards by a punch to his chin.
Angel reached forward and grabbed the remote from the slim hands, yanking the wires off of the devices with all his strength before tossing it aside, hating the thing for being on his son.
Connor glared at his father, hating him for interfering. He reached out to punch him, but Angel dodged the move. Instead, he got another punch to the face, which sent him a step back.
Connor strikes back at Angel, this time making contact. He then rushed over to some weights, using one to punch out at Angel when he reappeared behind him.
Angel got the knocked down by the full impact of his son’s strength and the heavy weight. He looked up to see Connor rush over to some baseball bats. Grabbing one, Connor came back at him, swinging for his head just as he was standing. He ducked out of the way, causing Connor instead to hit a clothing rack.
Angel grabbed a bowling ball and punched Connor in the face with it. Connor staggered, but quickly recovered and punched back. But Angel grabbed at him and threw him across the room into a counter. Connor fell to the floor, rolling to a still.
Dashing over to the hostages, Angel helped them to undo their restraints and unwire themselves.
“Run. Hurry. All of you. GO.” He told them, watching as they frantically pulled off the devices and rush over and out the door.
Connor stood back up, watching as the last of the hostages made it out the door. It was just him and Angel left, father and son. He glared at the back of his dad’s figure, wanting nothing more now than to make him leave so that he could just end it all, like it should be.
Connor grabbed at Angel, but Angel just turned around and punched him back. Angel made a swipe at Connor’s feet, hoping to knock the boy over. Connor, agile as he is, quickly leaped into the air, avoiding being taking off his ground and landing perfectly before his father.
Before Angel even mentally congratulated the boy’s movements and, Connor kicked out with his right leg, nailing Angel in the face. He quickly spun around, standing up back in defense mode. Angel too quickly got to his feet, hating to have to fight his son, but willing to take him down any means necessary.
Connor punched at him, but Angel was more determined now and easily pushed the arm aside. Then he landed his own punch to the boy’s stomach. He made another attempt at punching Connor, hoping to knock him out and take him away, but Connor just stepped back using Angel’s momentum to grab at him and tossed him away.
Connor rushed over to Cordy, thinking that maybe if he detonated her explosives, it would be enough to take him out as well.
Angel stood quickly, watching as his son made his way over to the woman he had grown close to over the years. He punched down at a display near him, grabbing one of the items inside. The hunting knife lingered in his hands for a second before he propelled if at his son’s leg.
Connor staggered to his knees, a pain jolting from behind stopping him feet before reaching Cordy.
“Aahhh!” yelled the teen at the pain. He felt back and dared a brief touch at the knife’s hilt. He then used his right hand and leg to try and crawl onwards.
Angel shook his head, reaching forward and yanking the knife from the boy’s leg. Hardening himself to the harsher outcry of pain as he watched his son fall to the ground.
Angel dropped the knife on the floor. He reached forward, grabbing at the slender waist. Connor struggled in his hold as he turned him around to face him.
“Damnit Connor! What are you doing? Can’t you understand that your life is worth more than that?! This isn’t a game, son!”
Connor struggled against his father’s firm hold on him.
“Get off of me!”
Angel shook his head.
“Don’t you get it?” Angel asked the hurt evident in his voice. But it didn’t matter. Connor didn’t have to understand, he just had to survive. “I really do love you Connor.”
“So what are you gonna do about it?” Connor asked him, voice low and tone serious.
Angel reached into his jacket, pulling out a vial and a needle. Connor’s eyes widened for a second before calming. Good, thought the boy, it should be Dad that kills me. He should be the one to end it all.
Angel shook the cover off of the needle head, and without another thought jabbed it into his son’s thigh.
“Prove it,” he whispered back.
Connor felt the effects instantly. First his senses died out and then he was falling into a white abyss of nothing.
Angel gathered up his most precious treasure in his arms. He finally let the tears fall and murmured loving words to the unconscious little boy in his arms. His Connor.
Straightening up, Angel got a tight hold on his son. He looked back at Cordy just as a swat team made its way into the building. They rushed over to Cordy, un-strapping her from her bomb. The rest that piled in gathered up the remaining bombs and started cleaning up the store.
One man surveyed the damage from the door momentarily. He located Angel quickly and made his way towards him, taking off his helmet as he went.
“Sir, we’re going to need to move now,” he said addressing the distressed father.
Angel looked over at the man besides him. He had seen him before, somewhere. It took him a moment before he realized who it was.
“Greene, sir,” said the agent, noticing the look. “It’s Travis Greene now. And we need to get you and your son out of here before clearing up this mess. Don’t worry, we made certain everyone was gone and safely home by now.”
Angel nodded. He now remembered where he had met the man. He looked back in time to see Cordy getting taken away.
“Sorry, Cordy,” he whispered at the unresponsive form.
Angel brought Connor closer to him and followed Greene out the door and to his awaiting limo.
“Where to sir?”
Angel settled Connor besides him, resting the young one’s head in his lap. He let his gaze linger as they pulled into the freeway. Passing his fingers through the boy’s soft hair, he sighed unnecessarily, hoping that he had made the right choice for all of them.
“The Hyperion Hotel, Vega. Then home.”
“Yes sir,” replied Vega.