Angel laid Connor down on his bed. He slipped the boy’s shoes and jeans off before settling him down within the sheets.
Slipping his fingers through the boy’s soft hair, Angel sighed wondering if he had done the right thing.
Angel leaned down and planted a kiss onto Connor’s forehead.
“Rest kiddo, tomorrow’s going to be a big day.”
Turning around, Angel nodded to Fred at the door following her out into the hallway, turning off the lights and shutting the door behind him.
“Come on Fred, we can all talk in the living room.”
Nodding, Fred came up beside him, slipping into a side hug before they headed down to the ground floor of the Hyperion Hotel.
In the living room, Wesley, Gunn, and Lorne all waited for Fred to return with Angel.
When they did appear, all three started talking at the same time.
“Angel, are you serious?”
“What happened up there?”
“When do we move in?”
The others all looked at Lorne. The green demon was overly excited to sign up with the ‘evil’ firm, Wolfram and Hart.
“What? Like you crazy kids weren’t thinking the same thing.”
Angel walked around the couch and sat down besides Wes, who had been flipping through a book while they waited.
“Like I said before, it was an executive decision that had to be taken.”
“Angel, we operate as a team! You can’t just – “
“So, you don’t want to do this, Wesley?” Angel asked the Englishman skeptically.
Wes opened his mouth to speak, but he couldn’t respond. Because, yes, maybe he had been thinking that it wouldn’t be so bad to go to Wolfram and Hart, but that he had been cheated out of making his own decision.
“You can still say no, Wes. Any of you can. But, the fact of the matter is, I’m doing this. I know what they there, but –
“I don’t know what they offered ya, man, but if it’s like what I saw, then I’m in.” Gunn adds.
“You can’t do this alone, Angel,” Fred said, sounding somewhat worried and somewhat indecisive.
“And if you could see the kind of talent that they represent! You just wouldn’t believe it!” Lorne added, still amazed that some of his heroes were being represented by a demon-run firm.
Wes looked around at his friends, he had been thinking, just before Angel had announced to them that he had accepted, how it might be working with all that knowledge at his disposal. But, could they really do some good out from such a place? Was that even possible? He voiced his concerns to them.
“We’ll never know unless we give a go!” Lorne answered enthusiastically.
“Worth a shot,” shrugged Gunn.
Fred looked at the guys over. She didn’t want to go to the evil law firm. But, there was no way that she would feel right leaving Angel to do this alone. Gunn and Lorne seemed convinced and even Wes, though he was stating skeptism, seemed supportive.
“Might as well, I guess,” Fred said softly, looking down at her hands as if afraid that something bad was going to happen just because she had consented.
“Alright then,” Wes said with finality in his voice. He was slowly gaining trust back in the group after having lost Connor a few months back, when the boy was still a baby. There was no way that he would desert them now.
“Great! Now that that’s settled, everyone go pack. We’ll leave to our new headquarters in the morning,” Angel stated, pushing himself from the couch and back to his feet.
“Where to?” Fred asked.
“Well, these new positions, come with courtesy suits, right in the building.”
“So they can watch our every move,” Wes stated a little heatedly.
“Because it’s convenient,” Angel defended, though he had felt the same way when Lilah had told him.
“And by suit you mean?”
“The works,” Angel told Gunn watching as the black man’s eyes glistened for a second. Recalling the new, huge screen HD TV in his new office, Angel couldn’t help but agree. Oh, the possibilities.
With that, he bid them all good night and headed back upstairs to check on Connor before he too headed to bed.
Connor was twisting around on his bed. His breathing was heavy and small whimpers were escaping his lips. Instinctively, he was kicking at an invisible foe, effectively kicking the sheets to the end of the bed.
He was having a nightmare.
“What are you doing here, kid?” the man asked in a hard voice.
Connor stepped back. Just a second before the man had been crying in agony and now he looked about ready to sock him.
“What are you doing here?” he asked back.
The man stood, making sure to use his height to tower over Connor’s smaller frame.
“Get lost kid! Go let your Mommy tuck you in and kiss you beddy-bye,” he snarled at him.
Connor glared back. He wasn’t too sure what the man had been talking about, but he didn’t like how he was talking down to him. And he didn’t appreciate him bringing up his mother.
“Fuck you man!” Connor growled, shoving the man back down into his corner.
“Hey! Watch it kid!”
Connor looked at the man, staggering to get back up. There was a funny scent coming from him, one that Connor knew from the streets that most of the homeless old guys living on the streets smelled like.
He scoffed, turning away from the man. He had decided that the scumbag before him was a waste of his time. Though he was the first one that Connor had met on a roof, and with such fancy clothing, he knew that the guy was homeless like the rest of them. A guy like that couldn’t possible function in civil society.
“Don’t you walk away from me, you little shit! I ain’t done wit you!”
Connor lashed out, falling from the bed onto the floor and awakening on impact.
“Connor! Are you okay?”
Twisting around, Connor saw his father sitting off to the side of where he’d just been sleeping. Angel was dressed differently then he had seen him before, and then that was when he realized that his dad was dressed for sleeping.
He looked around, taking in his surroundings for the first time. He didn’t remember coming there. He couldn’t remember seeing Angel at all that day. All he could recall was that horrible night.
He felt like he was missing out on something.
Angel stood up, started to walk towards him. He leapt to his feet, stepping back so as to remain from within Angel’s reach.
“Where am I, what am I doing here?”
Angel stilled looking back at him.
“You’re home, son. Where you belong.”
Connor shook his head. He didn’t want to be there. This wasn’t home. He didn’t have a home. Never had had a home.
“I didn’t come here,” Connor state, wondering frantically how he had gotten there.
“I brought you here, don’t you remember?”
Angel watched his son for reactions. He wasn’t sure how much the boy was going to remember. Maybe the whole thing had been a fluke. He hoped that he had done the right thing, that trusting Wolfram and Hart to alter his son’s memory – everyone’s memory – had been the right choice.
Connor opened his mouth, but then shut it. He looked down at himself, finally aware of how he was presented.
Angel tried to hide a smile as he watched his son dive for the bed and under the covers. He resisted saying that it was nothing he hadn’t seen or that he had just months before been changing his diaper.
Connor’s head poked out from beneath the covers.
“Where’s my clothes?”
Angel pointed to a desk chair, where he had taken to laying out a jacket and the boy’s jeans. He had tossed the long overcoat away the second that he had had it off of him, it being the only thing from that dreadful night that he could physically get rid of.
“But we’re going to have to buy you something new. Those are already falling apart, and you’ve only been here a month.”
Connor glared at him, but it had no effect. Especially with his hair all over the place and him hiding in the bed sheets.
“Get out, I want to change.”
Angel shook his head.
“Go back to sleep, Connor. You were having a bad dream, that’s the only reason I woke you.”
Connor sat up on the bed.
“I’m not staying here! You, you kidnapped me!”
Angel gave his son a look. He wondered where he had heard the word, figuring that Holtz would not have taught it to him since the man had committed it himself.
“Where’d you hear that word, Connor?”
“None of your business!”
Angel was between worry and getting angry. He really hoped that nothing had happened to his son, that he hadn’t seen anything too bad and damaging while he had lived out there on the streets alone.
“Is it so my business. Everything you do is my business,” he said as calmly as he could, trying not to jump into conclusions.
Connor rolled his eyes.
“Real touching, Dad.”
“I’m glad,” Angel replied, not giving into his son’s sarcasm. “Go back to sleep, we’ll talk in the morning.”
“As if I’ll even be here,” he whispered to himself.
Obviously, he forgot what incredibly great hearing his father had.
“If you’re not here in the morning, I’ll come find you. And when I do, you’re not going to be very happy, to say the least.”
Connor looked at him guilty for a second, knowing that he’d been heard. Then, the stubborn boy returned.
“Like you’ll find me! I’ll be so far gone by the time you can try and come find me, there won’t even be a trail to follow!”
Angel groaned, debating with himself if he wanted to get into it now. It was only three in the morning, and while he was a creature of the night, he wanted the time to think things thoroughly through.
“Don’t start, Connor. Not right now, it’s too late, or early. Let’s just talk in the morning.”
Connor kept his mouth shut, but Angel wasn’t too convinced yet. Wish that damn vile had worked longer.
Angel backed away slowly and out the door. He unnecessarily took a deep breath, hoping that the kid would stay put, at least until morning.
Connor groaned when his dad left the room. He glared at the closed door, but it wasn’t as satisfying as glaring at Angel.
He got to his feet, rushing over to his jeans and slipping them on. He grabbed his sneakers and put them back on. He went to grab his jacket but stopped staring at it.
“That’s not my jacket,” he said looking down at the dark jean jacket in his hand.
He looked around, wondering where his jacket was when he realized that he wasn’t even sure what his jacket looked like.
Connor glanced over at the door. Something wasn’t adding up, but he really didn’t want to take the time to find out what.
Slipping on the jacket, Connor eased the window open. Glancing down, he was pleased to find that the three story drop was nothing compared to some of the rooftops that he’d jumped down from and between. He grinned back at the door. Night, Dad. I’ll see you in the morning.
Connor slipped out of the window, easing himself onto solid ground. He grinned back up to his window. He wished that he could see his dad’s face when he realized that he wasn’t ‘home’ anymore.
Turning towards the open night, Connor dashed away heading towards his actual home.
Angel sighed. He pushed off the side of the hotel where he had been leaning on. He watched as Connor scurried away. He caught the kid’s smirk just as he passed his hiding place.
He stepped into the opening, looking over at the now faint image of his son’s running form.
“You just had to make this hard. Why can’t you be like all the other teenagers and sleep in?”
Angel got into his car and took off in the direction that his son was in a second ago. He had a brief idea that he knew where the boy was headed, so he had no real reason to rush.
Which, the kid should be thankful for, because he was finding it really, really hard to not give into smacking some sense into the kid.
Connor slipped easily into his apartment. He hadn’t expected it to be so easy to make it all the way back there.
For a second, a brief second mind you, he felt kind of sad that Angel hadn’t noticed he was gone.
Connor looked around his apartment, smiling to himself. No one had seemed to mess with any of his things. He figured that he had proven himself enough on the streets that people knew to not go into his ‘turf’. He had found it funny before, seeing as he would never hurt another human being. He had been very unpleasantly surprised to see how many of the human race was willing to harm one another. He’d been horrified to see what people were willing to do to themselves.
Maybe Angel was right. Maybe he shouldn’t be out there alone. He certainly didn’t feel safe around some people.
But, seeing as how the alternative meant staying with Angel, he highly doubted that.
“Home, sweet home,” Connor mumbled, a phrase he had heard on TV once when he had had the chance to see one. He wasn’t sure what it meant exactly, but he guessed it meant he was happy to be home.
“That’s good, Connor. Except, this isn’t home.”
Connor turned around so fast that he tripped over himself and fell onto his knees.
“What? What are you doing here?”
Angel scoffed from his perch in the dark corner.
“I thought I told you to go back to bed. Guess I should have made it clear which one, huh?”
Connor watched as Angel shoved off of the wall and walked over to where he kneeled.
“How’d you know I was here? No one saw me leave.”
Angel smirked down at him.
“That’s true, to a point.” He reached down and grabbed one of Connor’s arm, yanking him to his feet. “Except of course, I kind of expected you to run off like that.”
Connor stared back at him. He wasn’t sure how Angel could know something like that. He couldn’t possibly know him well enough to predict what he would do.
He watched as Angel sighed, shaking his head.
“I’m not sure if I’m happy about this, Connor. You acting like a normal teenager, sneaking off for the night. But, you can bet I don’t appreciate it.”
Connor glared at his dad. He could care less what the man appreciated or not. He tried to yank his arm out of Angel’s grip but it was no use.
“I don’t care,” stated Connor as he tried, again, to pull his arm free.
“Well, I do,” replied Angel, giving the arm a firm shake.
Connor’s entire body slightly shook. He glanced over at his arm and then back up at his dad.
“Get off me,” he growled.
“Sorry, can’t do that. I will, however, give you one last shot. Either you come down with me now, or I drag you out of here with me. I’d choose the first one, if I were you, because it’s just so much simpler.”
Connor glared up at Angel. He wasn’t going to go anywhere. There was something going on and he wasn’t leaving until he figured out what it was.
“Don’t fight me on this, Connor.”
“I’m not going with you! I don’t want to be with you! You can’t make me!”
Connor had expected the words to hurt Angel, like they had before. His dad always looked hurt when he said that he didn’t care for him, want him for a father.
But this time, nothing.
“Well, here’s the thing, son. I’m not real interested in what you want. I’ve been giving you time and space to think, but I’ve gone about this all wrong. You’re just a kid. My kid. And you’re going to learn to do as you’re told, or learn to face the consequences.”
That being said, Angel tugged his son towards the sorry looking bed in the dingy room. Connor, not sure of what was going on, still struggled to get out of his father’s hold. However strong he was, he learned that his dad was way stronger and was not letting up.
Angel sat down first on the bed, pulling him to stand in front of him. Hands on his hips, Angel held tightly onto him, talking directly at him.
“I’m sorry you feel like this, Connor. I really am. I wish I didn’t have to do this, but you make things so much harder than they have to be. I think you need me to show you how serious I am about this. You’re too young to be alone, and that’s final. I’m keeping you with me, until you’re of age. Then, it’s your decisions, go or stay, but I hope by then you’ll understand things better. For now, I’ll make it as black and white as possible. I say for you to do something, you do it. That’s it. If not, then you’ll get more of what you’re getting today.”
Connor stilled at trying to pry his father’s hands off of his waist. He stared instead at the man, listening to him, but not fully comprehending what was being said.
However, he was less than pleased when those hands finally moved but instead started to unsnap his jean’s button and lower the zipper.
“Hey! Lay off! What’re you doing! Stop!”
Angel was ignoring him, but Connor continued to yell. No one heard him, because the building was abandoned.
Suddenly, his jeans were shoved off his hips and down his legs. They slide down all the way to his ankles.
“I hate to do this, Connor. I know you won’t think that. But, you’re going to do as you’re told. Even if I have to spank you each time to get you moving.”
Connor’s wrist was grabbed and used against him to tip him over his dad’s lap. Connor braced himself against the bed and Angel’s thigh. He didn’t understand what his dad was doing, but his stomach was doing those weird flying feeling and he knew something bad as about to happen.
Angel shook his head. He hadn’t planned to get into this position with his son. Well, not so soon, anyways.
Then again, the boy had inherited his stubborn traits. Not that he was admitting that he was stubborn.
Resigning himself to both of their fates, and knowing there was no going back after this, Angel raised his hand high and brought it down onto the brief clad bottom before him.
Connor tensed against him. He could also see the look of surprise on the kid’s face.
Well, it’s now or never.
Angel brought his hand down hard on the same spot. This seemed to snap Connor out of his stoic form.
“Hey! What are you doing!”
Angel refused to answer. He had tried the talking thing, the calm approachable way, but it had deemed useless for his son. So, he would revert to the time tested, old-fashioned firm discipline.
He spread the spanks all over the boy’s bottom, making certain that no one spot got too much attention. He hoped that since this was the first time spanking the boy, the embarrassment and surprise would work to his favor.
Connor started to squirm around on his lap, causing him to tighten his hold and pull Connor closer against his stomach.
“Stop! That hurts! St-o-op!”
Angel heard the first of the sob. He decided that right then was a prefect a time as any would be to tell the boy just how things were going to be.
“You cut this out right now, Connor. I don’t want to hear about you running off like this again! You’re staying with me and that’s final.”
Punctuating his words with four more swats, directed at the boy’s tender undercurve of his butt cheeks. Connor was wailing madly, but Angel kept him on place.
“I love you too much to let you roam around, son. Especially in a place as dangerous as LA. But, I’m sure that won’t be a problem anymore. Right son?” Three more hard swats met the bottom now heated bottom.
“Okay! Okay! I’m sorry?”
Angel was satisfied was the apology, if weak, and placed five more swats on the squirming bottom before setting him back on his feet.
Connor looked down at his feet. He looked confused and angry, but the tear streaks were clearly visible against the flushed face. Angel sighed, wanting to know what the kid was thinking but really wanting to pull him into a hug and never let go.
Reaching down, Angel grasped the jean’s easing them back into place. Connor whimpered when the denim touched his sore behind, but refused to look up or speak. Angel took Connor’s chin in hand, tilting the sad face up to meet his look.
“You okay?” he asked. Connor refused to answer, staring back at him. Angel sighed, dropping his hand. “I know that wasn’t pleasant, but you left me no option. I’m serious about you staying with me, Connor. I’m not letting you go back to living like this. You’re my responsibility, and I’m going to make sure that you survive in this world. Life’s not all about fighting, son. I hope in time you’ll see that.
“For now, we’re needed back home. I’m sure everyone else has already headed out. Is there anything here you want to take with you? I’m not letting you come back after this.”
Connor glared at him. Still refusing to talk, he gave his room a look over. It didn’t have much. Nothing there was really his, just things he had found. He wasn’t even too fond of anything. He had his weapons and that was all that mattered to him. Besides, the Hyperion’s beds were better than the itchy blanket that he used for sleep. He shook his head.
Angel looked the room over, seeming to reach the same conclusion he had.
“Alright then, let’s go.”
Connor wanted to yell out that he wasn’t going anywhere. He wanted to fight, to prove that he wasn’t this little kid that his dad pictured him as. But the truth was, there wasn’t anything holding him there.
Connor thought about the man who had raised him, Daniel Holtz. He missed the man, this month that he had been back. He felt lost without him. But, Holtz had never really been there for him. Connor had pretty much been taking care of himself since he was six years old and could kill on his own. He hated to think anything against the only constant he had had in all his life, but with Angel, Connor actually felt safe. And, dare he say it, wanted.
So, when Angel took hold of his arm and started leading him back out, he only struggled a little.