Inside the car, Connor was silent. He watched out the window as they drove down the streets of LA. Nothing seemed different, yet inside he himself felt different.
And in a good way.
Not that he was going to admit it. At least not today.
He glanced to his right, at Angel, who was driving. He seemed relaxed, calm, and happy. He actually seemed happy.
Connor was not happy. He was not happy at all. And he didn’t like Angel being happy. Not because of this. That bastard!
He was so busy glaring at Angel, that he didn’t notice where they’re going. He was surprised when they pulled up to a huge building that he had never seen before.
“Where are we?”
Angel said nothing, just drove towards the building, and into its underground garage.
Connor’s eyes grew wide. There were so many cars! Some looked really old, and some were really new. Really, really new. Like haven’t been made, new. And they looked shiny.
Connor saw Angel smirk.
“Home,” replied Angel.
“Home? This isn’t home. Where the hell are we?”
“I told you, we’re home.”
Connor rolled his eyes.
They drove further down into the garage, until there was a gap between two really cool looking cars.
Angel parked the car. They stepped out of the car. Connor looked around. He wasn’t familiar was anything around him. He started to panic slightly inside, because no way was he going to admit to being panicky. He wondered, could Angel be leaving him here? Would his dad leave him behind?
He thought Angel loved him. Didn’t that mean that no matter what, you’d never let go?
Connor felt like he could cry.
“Come on, let’s head inside. It’s getting late, and I for one want to rest. Tomorrow’s going to be a hell lot of crazy.”
Connor wasn’t certain what that last bit meant, but he noticed that when Angel said it, his face had this hurt look to it. Like he was regretting something. Could it be him?
Maybe he didn’t want to leave Connor behind.
Connor wanted to ask who was waiting for them. He wanted to know who he would be staying with and for how long. But, he didn’t know how to ask that. Not without sounding whiny and needy. And from what he had learned from his time on this dimension, no one appreciated whiny, needy people.
Angel’s grip on his upper arm brought him back to the present.
Connor glanced over to him. He wanted to read Angel’s reactions, determine maybe how hurt Angel would be at turning him over to someone else.
But Angel wasn’t looking at him. Surely that couldn’t be a good sign.
Connor watched straight ahead as he was lead to an elevator.
Angel groaned softly as the elevator’s door closed behind them. Goodness, but what was he doing? He felt like he was walking Connor right into the lion’s den.
No matter that he had just been made President of the entire building and its operations, this was still and foremost Wolfram and Hart. And it would be best for them all to remember that.
Seconds later and the elevator doors slide open. Angel noticed Connor jump slightly at the sudden stop of the machine. He hoped that nothing too traumatizing would happen there. Not so soon after bringing the kid back.
Last thing he wanted to do was to lose his son.
Angel watched as the numbers moved further and further closer to the top floor.
It was almost morning and the rest of his team would be there soon. Angel had wanted to spend his last night at the hotel, but it seemed a safer bet to just bring Connor there then to having to drag him there later on in the day.
At least in this way there’d be cameras.
And with the firm’s high interest in his son, Angel didn’t doubt that they all knew exactly who the kid was.
The elevator stopped and they stepped out onto the top floor of the firm. Connor looked around. He could smell all kinds of things inside the building, not all of which were human.
“What is this place?”
“I’ll tell you in the morning. For now, stick close to me, and don’t wander.”
Connor rolled his eyes. He hadn’t planned on wandering off. He hadn’t taken to lightly to the beating he had received not that long ago. Sure he had handled pain before, plenty of times, but that had been brutal.
Not sure of what had caused his dad to do that in the first place, he was going to try and avoid angering the man until he could safely escape.
He followed Angel through a crowd of busy looking people. They reached a desk that was unoccupied. Besides the desk were two large doors.
Angel walked purposely towards them.
Connor looked around, thinking that they shouldn’t be barging into someone’s office like that.
Angel pulled both doors opened, walking in.
Seeing as how none of all the people around seemed bothered to stop him, Connor too followed through the doors and into the office.
“Close the doors.”
Connor looked at where the voice had come from. His dad was leaning on the ledge of a window. Connor was glad that the sun hadn’t been up, but he knew that they only had a few more hours of that.
Turning around, he closed the door.
Angel turned away from the ceiling to floor windows and walked towards another elevator located in the office.
Connor frowned. He watched his dad press the one button besides the doors. Not up or down, just a button. And here he thought that was the point of elevators.
Following Angel as the doors opened, the two piled in once again into the elevator. They headed up another floor before it stopped.
“Where are we?”
Angel stepped out of the elevator into what appeared to be a living room. But in a law firm?
“Welcome home, Connor.”
Connor looked at his dad as if the man was crazy. Which, by now, he was sure that he was.
“Home? Dad, we, uh you don’t live here. Did you forget the seven floored hotel that you happen to own?”
Angel gave him a look and Connor couldn’t help but smirk. He had accomplished irritating the man.
Testy water, but enjoyable all the same.
“This is base now. Don’t ask, okay.” Angel sighed, leaning against one of living room’s gray armchairs.
Connor looked at his dad intently. Suddenly, the man before him seemed human. It was weird, maybe it was the worried expression on his face or the unnecessary sigh that escaped him.
“Dad?” Connor asked, feeling suddenly vulnerable since his protector looked so weak.
Angel looked up back at him as he took a few steps further into the room. He smiled at the young boy before him.
“How about I show you around?”
Connor looked around the room. He then noticed that to one side, there was a hallway leading towards a kitchen and further beyond that there were a few openings presumably to rooms.
Angel came up besides him and slipped an arm across his shoulders. Connor wasn’t too sure he was ready for close proximity to the vamp, but his backside advised him to keep his mouth shut.
Angel pointed out the kitchen, main bathroom, and two bedrooms before finally guiding him to the master bedroom. Unlike the other two, which had furniture and little less, the master bedroom was lavishly equipped. There was a king sized bed on one side of the room. Besides the bed was a door leading to a private bathroom. On the other side of the bed, a walk-in closet was clearly presented. It was still rather empty.
To the other side of the master bedroom was two couches, a metallic center table and a rather impressive flat screen TV mounted on the wall. There was also a great collection of classic novels, both in English and in Celtic, on metallic shelves besides one of the couches.
Angel walked over into the closet. He came back a second later with a pair of pajamas in his hands. He walked over to his son and handed them to him.
“What’s this?” Connor asked looking down at the soft clothing in his hands. He was already dressed and didn’t see a point in changing when the clothes that he was wearing were still clean.
“Those are called pajamas, Connor. They’re to sleep in.”
Connor looked back at him. He wondered what his dad was talking about.
“Clothes to sleep in? Instead of a bed?”
Angel gave him a small smile. It looked a little like he was sad, but Connor couldn’t be sure.
“No, you still get a bed. PJs are just something you wear so that you can sleep comfortably.”
“Comfortably?” Connor asked. He hadn’t ever thought about that. To sleep for comfort. He usually just slept when ever he couldn’t function anymore. Then, he would sleep until he had his energy back and not go back to sleep until he was exhausted again.
Sleeping for comfort sounded outrageous.
“Yes, Con. So that you can rest. You want to be comfortable, so that you sleep better. Trust me. A good night’s sleep can do you wonders.”
Angel grabbed his son around the shoulders and steered him towards the bathroom.
“Why don’t you go and get cleaned up, change into those and then get into bed.”
Connor looked over his shoulder at his dad.
“Where are you going?”
Angel smiled at him as he reached past him and switched the bathroom’s light on.
“I have a call to make. I wont be long.”
Connor stepped into the bathroom, thinking that a nice hot shower wouldn’t be such a bad idea.
Angel watched for a second as the door to the bathroom closed. He sighed again, needlessly.
Turning away from the bathroom, Angel headed out the room and into the living room. He made his way towards the portable telephone dock that was on the sleek, modern style side table. He grabbed it and started dialing.
On the third ring, the other line was picked up.
“Hello?…Yes, this is Angel…We got in, and everything seems fine. But we can’t be too sure…Exactly. Don’t forget what we talked about…This line is probably rigged, so I’ll contact you later …Keep checking things out.”
Angel turned back to the master bedroom just as Connor was finishing up in the bathroom. Angel quickly changed into his sleepwear and started to take some sheets from inside the closet.
Connor came out of the bathroom and watched as Angel moved the couch cushions from the couch and set them aside. Then, Angel set about pulling something out from inside the couch. Connor watched in amazement as a bed was formed from the couch.
“All set Connor?” Angel asked as he placed the linens onto the new bed.
Angel turned to his son, watching as Connor dropped his clothes on the floor. He grimaced internally, but he’d tidy up later.
“What was that?”
“That’s your bed.”
“My bed? But, that’s the couch. What happened to the couch?”
Angel smiled at him. In a sense he loved the innocence that the boy maintained. But then the reason for the innocence damn near broke his unbeating heart.
“It’s a hideabed, the couch hides the bed,” he explained.
Connor walked over to the now made bed. It looked like a bed, but it had been a couch. Angel watched as he stretched an arm out, as if testing the bed.
“Why don’t you hop in and get some rest. We’ve got a lot of things to do tomorrow.”
Angel nodded, he turned down the covers and motioned his son in. Connor gave him a skeptical look.
“Yes. It’s safe, trust me. And, its really comfortable. The most expansive one they had,” he told him, hoping that motivated the kid. He knew that in the streets, Connor was learning the importance of money and that he more of it one had the more important the person was. He wasn’t too happy with the street lessons the boy had acquired, but for now, he’d play with them.
“Why don’t I just sleep in one of the other beds?”
Angel tried not to groan or sigh. He could tell that the kid as tired, but he hated that the boy had to question everything. Not that he didn’t want him to ask questions and learn and grow, but with Connor it was always a power struggle. He hoped that they wouldn’t have it out again for a while, but knowing his son he knew that the defiance would grow to more than just picky bed placement.
“Because, I’d prefer to have you where I can keep an eye out for you.”
“Because you don’t trust me,” Connor stated, crossing his arms over his chest and fixing his father with a cold look.
“That’s right,” nodded Angel. “But you haven’t given me much reason to trust you, son. I told you to stay in bed, you ran off the second I turned my back. I want to trust you, but you have to earn it. I know, in time, that you will. But for now, I keep close tabs on you.”
Connor rolled his eyes. Angel knew that containing the boy would be hard, but he hoped that keeping him close at all times would give him more opportunity to gain his son back, be it by providing comfort or the well deserved spanking when called for.
Connor looked about to argue, and Angel really didn’t feel up to another face off with the boy. He reached out, grabbing his son’s arm firmly, and tugged him closer to the bed. Angel gently swatted the pajama clad bottom, effectively propelling the teen into the bed.
He crossed his arms over his chest as he watched his stubborn offspring finally take preservation into consideration and climb the rest of the way into bed. Angel fixed the cover up around Connor shoulder before leaning down and pressing a kiss onto the boy’s forehead. Straightening back up, he saw Connor giving him a curious look, biting on his lower lip - probably holding back a few choice words.
Tough. He wasn’t about to waste anymore time trying to get the kid to open up to him. He would make the first steps and keep taking them until it felt natural to the boy.
“Goodnight, Connor. I’ll see you in the morning.”
Angel turned towards his own bed, intent on getting as much rest as he could before he had to wake up and start on being the head boss to the evilest firm the city had to offer.
“Why do you do that?”
Angel stopped, turning back around to face his son.
“Why do you do that?” repeated Connor, shifting around until he came untucked and moved to lean up onto his elbows.
“Say goodnight? Um, because I hope you have a good night,” Angel responded unsurely.
“See you tomorrow? Tuck you in?”
Connor shock his head. He pointed to his forehead.
Angel smiled despite himself.
“Kiss you goodnight?” Connor gave him a look before nodding. Angel shrugged.
He wondered what kind of response “because I really felt like it” would receive.
“Is that something that like dads do?”
Angel walked back over to his boy’s side, smiling all the way.
“Something like that.,” he commented softly, sitting down on the edge of the bed.
Connor looked at him intently, studying him.
“Father never did that,” he said softly.
Angel tensed at the statement, hating his son, his son, calling that man, Daniel Holtz, Father.
“Holtz wasn’t your -
“He was,” Connor interrupted softly. He fell back on the bed, closing his eyes. “But you’re my dad.”
Angel woke to someone shaking him relentlessly. He groaned, turning away from the rude awakening.
Angel turned right back around at the sound of his son’s voice.
“Dad! Get up already.”
Angel immediately sat upright. He grabbed at his son’s shoulders.
“What’s wrong? You okay?”
“I’m fine. Listen,” Connor said insistently. He twisted around to look at the closed bedroom door.
Now that he was certain that his son was alright, Angel surveyed his surroundings. He didn’t see anything out of the ordinary, but he heard something.
“Someone here,” he said, releasing his hold on his son and getting up out of bed.
“They’re arguing,” Connor said, sitting down on his dad’s bed as he watched his dad concentrate on listening in on the people trying to whisper down the hall in the living room.
Angel sighed in relief.
“That’s just Gunn and Wes, son.”
Connor shook his head.
“There’s a woman.”
Angel listened closer. Sure enough, he heard three rapid beating heartbeats. They were each familiar to him and lightened his own soul.
“That’d be Fred.”
“It’s not her,” Connor said.
And sure enough, another woman’s voice reached them. Angel grimaced.
“Eve,” he gritted.
He could feel the confused look from his son behind him.
“Stay here,” Angel said angrily, as he pulled the door open. “I mean it,” he added as he heard Connor stand from the bed, closing the door behind him.
Angel stormed over to the living room. Sure enough, his team was there, facing off with one of Wolfram and Hart’s ‘finest’.
“Eve, what’re you doing here?”
Eve was sitting on the armrest of one of the armchairs, her back towards the hallway and Angel‘s approaching form. In front of her, Wesley, Gunn, and Fred stood side by side in front of the couch looking back at her evilly.
She stood up, turning around to face him.
“Angel, glad you could join us,” Eve said cheerily. “I was just getting to know your team here.”
Angel walked to stand over with his gang besides Gunn. He crossed his arms over his chest and stared at the uninvited guest.
Regardless of his undress state, Angel could present a fierce force to be reckoned with.
Eve returned his hard look with a smile.
“What are you doing here, Eve?” Angel asked a little harder.
Eve smiled. She reached towards a purse besides her, slipping her hand in for something.
Gunn groaned from besides him, but Angel staying firmly in spot helped him maintain his cool.
Connor slipped softly out of the bedroom. He walked down the hall, softly and slowly, measuring his steps and controlling his breathing all the way. He came to the end of the hall, taking care not to appear before any of them. He heard his dad and this woman talking. He listened intently, trying to gather who this was and what she wanted with his dad.
The more Connor heard, the more confused he was. Especially since few words were spoken and only glares were exchanged.
Then, the woman moved towards something hidden from him. Connor tensed, and noted Gunn doing the same. But his dad remained firm in his spot, and so Connor didn’t make a move.
The lady pulled out an enveloped, turned and handed it over to his dad.
Angel looked down at what was handed to him before looking back up to the woman before him.
“You’re newest case,” Eve said. She smiled over at his dad, Connor catching the last of it as she turned back to the armchair and gathered up her things.
She turned without another word to the elevator and slipped out of the penthouse.
Connor watched as his dad glared at the elevator. He too looked back over to the metallic doors, hearing intently as they lowered and settled at the office beneath them.
Connor started to slip away, back into the bedroom.
“Connor, get in here,” Angel’s voice rang out just as he was turning away.
Connor stilled, closing his eyes at the threat.
“Connor,” repeated Angel.
Turning slowly, Connor headed back out to the living room.
Now the gang was situated in the couches. Gunn and Fred were sitting besides each other on the couch, while Wes took one of the armchairs. Angel sat on the armrest of the chair that the woman had just been occupying. He looked intently back to his approaching son.
Connor walked directly in front of him. His dad had his hands resting on his knees and the envelope was resting on the coffee table between them all.
Angel lifted his chin, forcing him to look back at him.
“I thought I told you to stay in your room.”
Connor nodded, trying at best he could to not look guilty or anything. He wasn’t sure what the whole smacking on his bottom was about, but he didn’t like it. He also knew that if that happened in front of anyone, he’d be beyond embarrassed.
“She didn’t have a heartbeat,” Connor said softly, hoping that his dad would understand.
As far as he knew, no heartbeat meant a vampire. And other than his own dad, he didn’t know of any other vampire that was nice.
“I know you were worried, but that was more of a reason to stay put,” Angel gritted, shaking his head slightly.
Connor nodded slowly.
Angel turned to his team. They all looked really tired, they had left their things downstairs in the office, where Lorne had decided to camp out on the very comfortable looking couches that were placed there.
“There’s two other bedrooms,” Angel told them, standing back up beside him.
“Thanks Angel,” sighed Fred, now that Eve was gone, she felt calmer near her boys.
“I’ll just grab you guys some sheets, and one of you can make up the couch.”
His dad slipped an arm around his shoulders and guided him back to the bedroom. Connor waved at the rest of the gang goodnight as he turned into the hallway.
Connor made it without incident back under the sheets and listened to Angel gather the rest of the sheets for his friends. Their friends.
Connor sighed. Not certain of what much of anything was, Connor allowed himself to fall back into sleep.
The next morning, Connor awoke not certain of where he was. He looked around startled, expecting to find himself at his old apartment or in his room at his dad’s hotel. But he was in neither.
His eyes rested on the neatly made up king bed a few feet from his. He took a deep breath, allowing the memories of the previous night to take hold.
And what a night it had been.
Connor stood up, rubbing the sleep out of his eyes. He started for the bathroom before heading out the room.
As quietly as he could, Connor made his way out of the room and down the hallway. Both of the other bedroom doors were now closed. He listened closely to the beating hearts inside the rooms. Fred was in one and Gunn was in the other. He found Wesley sound asleep on the couch. The team must have really been exhausted.
Connor looked in on the kitchen and the extra bathroom, but he didn’t find Angel anywhere.
Glancing at the elevator, Connor debated the idea of heading down into the nice office that they had entered when they first got into the odd building. He hadn’t been told that he had to remain in the odd quarters, like he had been warned the previous night to stay in the bedroom.
So, surely he could go down. Especially since he was looking for his dad.
Deciding on that route of action, Connor slipped into the metallic moving box, glancing at the odd buttons before him. One said Office, so that was the one he pressed.
The doors closed and soon the elevator moved down, stopping in Wolfram and Hart’s President’s office.
The elevator doors slipped open and Connor quickly sniffed his dad in the room. Stepping in, he looked over towards the conference room division of the office. Sure enough, there was his dad and Lorne going through piles of files before them.
Angel looked up at him, giving him a soft smile.
“Morning,” he mumbled back, slipping into the room.
Connor gave a cautionary glance over to the green demon that his father had befriended. He wasn’t ever too certain of the demon’s intentions, so he always kept an eye on him. So, Connor walked around the table, making certain that Lorne was in his sight every step of the way.
“Good morning, Sunshine,” greeted Lorne with his huge, infectious smile.
“Morning,” he replied back softly.
Taking a seat besides his dad, Connor listened in a few minutes to what the men were looking over.
From what he could gather, his father was now the owner of a huge law firm and no one was really too happy about that.
Connor refrained from asking too many questions. He could gather that the two men before him weren’t too certain of the answers themselves.
One by one, the team slipped downstairs and once they were all gathered around the conference table, Angel decided to call in for breakfast and sent Connor up to change for the day.
Connor had protested leaving, but a warning smack to the back of the head and a dangerously positioned hand on his hip guiding him back to the elevator stopped all rebut.
Angel was spreading out the rest of the files for his team to see. He hadn’t wanted his son to hear any of this, and the rest of the gang seemed to understand that there was something important that he had been holding out on them.
“I’m not sure yet,” confessed Angel. Looked over the files, trying to see something new in them that he hadn’t seen before.
But he had the best team assembled and he knew that the ones besides him would be enough to gather up whatever was encrypted in the information before them.
They spent the next few minutes talking about the files and jotting down some facts that they each thought of. When Connor reappeared, they cleared off the conference table, preparing for the breakfast meal that soon appeared.
Connor was not too gently sent back upstairs as the ‘grownups’ worked through ‘boring law files that wouldn’t matter to him anyhow’.
Angel was skeptic, not sure of how to go about running the firm or caring for his son. ON the one hand, Connor was the most important thing in his world. No matter what, he would take care of his son first. Which made the other hand look even heavier. If he disregarded the firm, his son would suffer.
He knew that there had to of been another way around it, but at the moment, seeing his son taking hostages and threatening them with deadly weapons, he couldn’t have thought of one.
“Angel, are you sure about all this?”
Angel looked over at Wes, startled out of his thoughts. The rest of the team looked back over to him.
“I’ve got a pretty reliable source,” confirmed Angel.
He could feel the collective tension in the room, his own added.
“Well,” Gunn started saying, as he stretched to his feet. “Looks like we’ve got a hell of a day ahead. No pun.”
Connor was bored. He hated being bored. He hadn’t been this bored since…he couldn’t even remember when!
What he really wanted to do was go out.
Not certain of what was going on around him, Connor felt uncomfortable. He had the feeling that everyone knew something that he didn’t. some thing that they weren’t willing to tell him.
He had noticed the files that they had all moved briskly to put away when he had last gone down to the office. And he had every intent on finding out what was written on them.
“So, Sparky just gonna stay up in his room all day?” Gunn asked as they all prepared to leave Angel’s office and head off to (fight for office space) meet their departments.
Angel gave him a puzzled look.
“What do you mean?”
“Angel, you can’t expect the kid to just stay up in his room all day! He’s gonna grow restless. Especially someone like Connor. You know how he loves to go out and fight!”
Angel didn’t want to admit it, but he hadn’t really thought of that. He realized that his son wasn’t the little baby that he had been a mere months ago. But, that realization hadn’t exactly clicked with the knowledge that he was also his own, active person.
“Gunn’s right, Angel,” Wes said as he finished arranging the files that they’d had out into cabinets besides Angel’s desk. “Connor needs stimulation.”
“What are you talking about, Wes?”
“He needs to go and do something. He cant spend all day in the penthouse! How do you expect him to learn to assimilate from the confines of his room?”
“I thought about letting him visit the different departments once in a while.”
Wes resisted the urge to sigh.
“What they’re training to say Angelcakes, is that Connor needs to have a life of his own. People his age, deal with the chaos that is a teenager,” Lorne said, coming up beside him, patting him reassuringly on his back.
“Ooo, school!” Fred added excitedly.
“School?” Angel and Gunn both said a little unsure. Angel because he couldn’t take the idea of his child being away from him for so many hours a day and Gunn because, well he’d never really liked school.
“Yeah! He can make friends! And he can start learning things that he needs to know in order to survive outside of h-e-l-l.”
“I don’t know, Fred-”
“Trust me! He’s gonna love school!”
“I wouldn’t be too sure of that.”
“Regardless, I think it’s a brilliant idea. Allow Connor to engage with others his age, and maybe he’ll take to learning some much needed people skills. I mean, Angel, he’s spent all his life with Holtz as his only companion.”
Angel nearly growl.
“Don’t mention him, Wes,” he said through gritted teeth.
“You should seriously give it some thought. If anything, just so that Little Angelcakes won’t spent all his times in Wolfram and Hurt,” Lorne added as he stepped out the office doors and headed to his department, which he was really looking forward to working in.
The others followed, going to their own departments (or for Gunn and Wesley’s case, debating over office space) and leaving Angel to his thoughts.