Connor- How it should have been - Chapter 10


Connor thought about Julie on and off for the rest of the day while he did the chores Angel thought up. He wanted to see her again, but he didn’t know what Angel would say about that. Most of the time when clients came in, Angel told Connor to let the others do the talking. He had explained that he wanted Connor to watch and learn how the team interacted with people outside of their group for a few months before he tried it himself. Connor tried to imagine how the conversation would go if he told Angel he was going out to see Julie for a couple of hours. He decided things would probably be bad either way. If Angel said no, Connor knew he would try to see her anyway, and then he would be in trouble if Angel found out. If Angel said yes, he would probably want to interfere by meeting her, or giving him rules about seeing her. After debating about it all evening, he decided he would see Julie without telling Angel about it.
That night when Connor went to bed he set his alarm for 7am. The team usually went to bed around 3am and got up at 10am. He thought four hours would be enough sleep for him, and he could go out and see Julie while everyone else slept. He would have time to get to the campus, visit with Julie for an hour and a half, and be back home in time to shower and be ready for the day by 10am.
He checked his alarm clock again and remembered Gunn giving it to him. At first he smiled at the memory, but soon frowned. It had been during the first week that Angel was at the bottom of the ocean. Gunn was trying to wake Connor up by shaking his shoulder, and Connor had reflexively punched Gunn before he was actually awake. Gunn was out cold, and once Connor realized what had happened, and laughed at Gunn for being so stupid. Then he got out of bed and tried to look concerned and contrite before waking Gunn up. Once Gunn was up Connor had apologized for knocking him out, and had explained that it wasn’t safe to touch him while trying to wake him up. Gunn had bought him an alarm clock that same day, and had shown him how to use it.
The more Connor thought about it, the guiltier he felt. He thought, ‘I looked down on Gunn and Fred the whole time I lived with them while Angel was ‘missing’. I didn’t think twice about lying to them. Why don’t I look down on them now? What changed? They know what I did now, and they didn’t before. Maybe I never really thought they were so bad. Maybe I talked myself into not liking them, because it made it easier to lie to them.’
Connor fell asleep still feeling guilty about the way he had treated Gunn and Fred.
All too soon his alarm went off. He hadn’t slept well during his four hours, but he still wanted to see Julie, so he got up and got himself dressed. He was happy that his butt didn’t hurt anymore from the day before. He opened his window and jumped out. It was three floors down to the sidewalk, and he landed easily on his feet. He started jogging towards the campus.
He was at Julie’s dorm half an hour later. He listened at her door, and could hear her steady breathing through it. He hoped it wasn’t too early to wake her up. He knocked and waited. He could hear her getting up and coming to the door. Julie opened the door and looked up to see Connor. She smiled and yawned at the same time, and then said, “Hey.”
Connor noticed Julie was wearing a different nightie than the day before. He smiled and said, “Hi.”
Julie opened the door wider so Connor could come in as she said, “I’m glad you came to see me today.”
“It isn’t too early is it?”
“No, but you’ll have to wait while I get ready. It shouldn’t take long. Lucky for you, I usually take a shower at night.”
Connor nodded, and sat on the edge of her bed. As she was getting her clothes and toothbrush ready to walk down the hall to the bathroom she said, “Did you want to go get some coffee again?”
“That sounds nice.”
Julie nodded and said, “Be right back.”
Connor stood and looked out the window while she was gone. As soon as she got back, they quietly walked over to the campus bookstore and coffee shop while holding hands. Once they were there Connor said, “Should I pay this time, since you paid last time?”
“Sure. I’ll have a double mocha, and a blueberry muffin.”
Connor ordered the same for himself and paid. As he was paying he thought, ‘If I do this very often, I’ll have to get more money. Maybe if I ask him, Angel will give me some. But then he’d probably want to know why I wanted the money. I’m glad I still have some of the two hundred left that John gave me for saving his wife and kids. Too bad I wasted half of it on the dumb bus ticket that I never got to use.’
Once they were sitting down Julie said, “How is your friend?”
“Who?”
“You know, the girl, Fred. She seemed pretty upset yesterday.”
“Oh, I’m not sure, but I think she’s okay now.”
“That’s good.”
Connor said, “I told you all about me yesterday. Why don’t you tell me about yourself today.”
“Okay. Tell me if there’s anything that doesn’t make sense, and I’ll try to explain. I grew up in Washington, the state, not D.C. My parent’s still live there. I’m an only child, no brothers or sisters. I came to LA to go to college, because it’s sunny most of the time instead of raining, and it’s still close to the beach. And because I wanted to get far enough away from my parents that they couldn’t just drive over and see me when they wanted to. My dad’s a lawyer, and my mom’s a hairdresser.”
“She dresses hair?”
Julie giggled and squeezed Connor’s knee under the table. She said, “People pay her to cut their hair.”
Connor looked confused and shook his head. “Why?”
“What do you mean why?”
“Why would someone pay for that?”
Julie took a good look at Connor’s hair and said, “I guess, because they want it to look nice.”
Julie looked around at the other people in the coffee shop and said, “Like those two guys at the table by the door. They probably pay to get their hair cut, and they look good.”
She looked around again and said, “Okay then see that guy over at the counter? He doesn’t pay much attention to what his hair looks like.”
Connor looked at the different people in the room, and looked at Julie when he said, “I never thought much about my hair, I just try to keep it out of my eyes. I guess you can tell.”
Julie smiled and said, “There are more important things than how a person looks. You fought a beast from another dimension to save your friend.”
Connor felt a mixture of embarrassment for not looking as good as the guys by the door, and pleased that she liked the fact that he could fight. He wondered why no one at the hotel had told him about cutting his hair. While Connor was thinking, Julie said, “I could cut your hair for you. I learned how from my mom.”
Connor shrugged and said, “Okay.”
Julie said, “Cool. Look around here, and tell me if there is any style you like.”
As Connor was looking around he realized that he couldn’t have her cut his hair, because everyone at the hotel would notice. He said, “Um… Actually let’s wait for a while to do that. Maybe in a few weeks. You said your dad’s a lawyer. Is he evil?”
“What?”
“Is your dad evil?”
“No! Why would you think that?!”
Connor could tell that he had upset Julie. He said, “Sorry. I didn’t mean to make you mad. My dad knows some evil lawyers, and I just wondered if your dad was evil too.”
Julie relaxed and said, “No, I’m sorry. It’s hard to remember that you haven’t been here for very long. Most people are pretty sensitive about their family, so asking someone if a member of their family is evil, isn’t a good idea.”
“Okay. I’ll remember that.”
They sat quietly for a few minutes until Julie said, “So I know you said that you’re not going to college, are you doing any kind of school right now?”
“I’m studying to take my GED in a few months. My dad and his friends are tutoring me to catch me up to speed. There are many things to learn, and most of them don’t seem to have a practical use.”
Julie smiled and said, “Just because something doesn’t have a practical use, doesn’t mean it isn’t valuable knowledge.”
Connor didn’t really believe her, but decided to keep that to himself. He said, “Tell me about some of the things you’re learning here at school.”
They spent the next hour talking about the classes Julie was taking. Soon Connor looked at the clock on the wall and said, “I have to go.”
Julie said, “When will I see you again?”
“Would you like to do this again tomorrow?”
“That would be nice. Same time?”
“Yes.”
“I’ll try to be awake and ready tomorrow. Will you walk me back to my room?”
Connor looked at the clock again and nodded. He would have to run full speed back to the hotel, but he didn’t care.
Connor liked the way she held his hand when they were walking. When they got to her room, she pulled his head down into a kiss. Connor felt her tongue in his mouth, and had a surge of feelings he couldn’t name. It reminded him of being with Sunny, but this was better. She let go of him and said, “See you tomorrow.”
“Bye.”
Once Julie’s door was closed, Connor walked out of the dormitory, and ran back to the hotel. He climbed up the side of the building, and into his window. He looked at his clock. It read 9:45am. He took off his clothes and got in the shower. When he was done, he started to put the same clothes on again, but they smelled like Julie, so he got some new clothes out, and put the others in his hamper.
He went downstairs to find out what was going on for the day. He found Fred first. She was sitting with a cup of coffee and staring off into space. Connor hadn’t talked to her since she caught him in her professor’s office the day before. She looked at him and gave him a weak smile. He said, “Morning…. I’m sorry about yesterday.”
Fred looked away and said, “It’s okay. I’m sorry too.”
Connor raised his eyebrows in surprise. He had been expecting a lecture at the very least. He went to the cupboard and got himself some boxed cereal to eat. Fred and Connor were sitting in a comfortable silence when Gunn came in. Gunn saw Fred and stopped halfway through the door. Fred saw the sudden halt and looked away from Gunn as she mumbled, “Morning.”
Gunn watched her, and when she didn’t look back up at him he walked to the refrigerator and mumbled, “Hey.”
Connor looked back and forth between the two. Angel had told him that something had happened between Fred and Gunn, but he hadn’t realized it was so bad. In the four months he had been living with them, he had never seen them like this. He had seen them have arguments and even fight, but this was different. Gunn got himself a glass of orange juice, and saw Connor looking at him. Gunn said, “Next time I ask you where someone is, you better tell me whether you’re angry or not.”
Connor looked down at his cereal and said, “Sorry.”
Gunn was still angry about yesterday both at Fred, and at Connor. He said, “I don’t want to hear ‘sorry’, I want you to remember this for next time. Did Angel spank you yesterday?”
Fred chided him “Charles!”
Connor got bright red. He realized that everyone knew that Angel spanked him sometimes, but no one had ever asked him about point blank. He nodded at his cereal. Gunn said, “Good.” and walked out the door.
A few seconds later Fred put her hand on Connor’s arm and said, “Gunn didn’t mean it like that. He’s just having a bad day.”
Connor didn’t reply, so Fred continued with, “Hey, it’s Sunday, how about some shopping to get my….I mean your mind off it. We could go to the mall, and if you wait while I get some shoes, I’ll count it as your hour with me for today.”
Connor nodded and got up to put his unfinished cereal in the sink.

When Connor and Fred were back from the mall Connor went to find Gunn. Gunn was looking at the newspaper. Connor cleared his throat. Gunn looked up and said, “What?”
“I’m ready if you are.”
Gunn just stared at him, so Connor said half joking, “You know, for my hour of….servitude.”
Gunn looked annoyed and tossed the newspaper at Connor. He said, “Fine. Read today’s paper and tell me what you don’t understand.”
Connor could tell Gunn was still pissed about yesterday, so he just started reading. After the first few articles Connor had lots of questions, but decided to keep them to himself. Half an hour later Connor looked up at Gunn who was just standing there staring out the front door to the hotel. He walked over and said, “Hey.”
“What now?”
“You’re still mad at me.”
Gunn glared at Connor and said, “Fred could have died yesterday, and you were so wrapped up in your own problems you wouldn’t even tell me where she was. So yeah, I’m still mad.”
Connor looked away and said, “Fred was with Angel, and he can protect her better than you can.”
Gunn knew this was true, but it just made all of what happened yesterday worse for him. He poked Connor in the chest and said, “I don’t want to hear another word out of your mouth for the next half an hour. Go read the paper, and leave me alone.”
Connor just stood there looking hurt. He thought, ‘What can I do besides say I’m sorry again. But Dad already spanked me for yesterday and forgave me, so maybe Gunn should let it go.’
Gunn yelled, “Now!”
Connor walked back and looked at the paper and tried to read. He had a hard time concentrating. His feelings kept going back and forth between anger and guilt.
Fred had been standing at the top of the stairs watching. She knew that Gunn was taking his frustrations out on Connor, and it bothered her. Especially since she had done the same thing yesterday.

She remembered what had happened between her and Gunn last night. After getting home from killing the professor, they had both gone straight up to their room. Fred had taken a shower, and Gunn had sat on the bed thinking. When Fred came out of the bathroom, they stood looking at each other for a few seconds. Fred said, “I can’t believe you killed him.”
Gunn shrugged and said, “I can’t believe you were going to kill him.”
“You had no right to interfere.”
“Did I miss something here? Are we working for the bad guys now? I thought that we were the good guys, and the good guys don’t kill old defenseless people no matter how bad they are. We could have found a way to put him in jail.”
Fred glared at Gunn in a way he had never seen. She said, “Wesley understood.”
Gunn felt himself get nauseous. He yelled, “Wesley?! That’s great Fred. So now you want to aspire to be like Wesley? The guy who stole Connor when he was a baby. The guy who knew where Angel was all summer and didn’t tell us. The guy who knew Connor was lying to us all summer and didn’t tell us. That’s the guy who understands your need for revenge, and you are using that to justify your actions?”
Fred said, “I shouldn’t have to justify my actions to you! You should trust me to know what I need to do to feel safe. You don’t love me, you love an image of me that I can never live up to. I’m not perfect, and I don’t even want to be.”
“I never asked you to be perfect!”
“No you just expected me to be.”
Gunn shook his head and decided he should leave before they both said more hurtful things to each other. He walked out the door, and out of the hotel. Fred spent the rest of the day in their room just thinking about things. Fred stayed up waiting for Gunn, but eventually fell asleep on the bed fully clothed. Gunn was asleep beside her when she woke up the next morning.

Fred brought her mind back to the present problem. She looked down on Connor and Gunn, and decided to talk with Gunn. She went down the stairs, and walked to Gunn who was still standing by the door. She said, “We need to talk.”
Gunn wasn’t sure he was ready for another conversation, and said, “I’m busy with Connor.”
Fred looked over at Connor, and then back to Gunn expectantly. He could tell she wasn’t going to buy his excuse, so he sighed and said, “Okay.”
Gunn turned to Connor and said, “You keep reading. I’ll be back.”
Connor watched as Fred and Gunn went out the front door, and sat on the little bench that was outside. Connor could clearly hear what they were saying, but tried to block it out and concentrate on reading. When it wasn’t working, he turned to the sports section, because he knew he would understand most of the things written there, and would have a better time concentrating.
Once they were seated on the bench Fred said, “I know you’re angry at me, but you shouldn’t take it out on Connor.”
“I have plenty of anger for both of you right now.”
“Fine, if you’re still angry about what he did, and you don’t think he’s been punished enough, then think up an appropriate punishment and get it done with. But the message you’re sending him now is wrong. You’re making him think that you don’t care about him, and I know that isn’t true. If you can put aside our problems for a minute, I think you’ll see that I’m right.”
Gunn was quiet for a few minutes. Then he nodded and said, “Maybe.”
After a few seconds of silence Gunn said, “What are we going to do about us Fred?”
Fred looked away and said, “I don’t know Charles.”
“Let’s go away together for a couple of nights. Maybe get a hotel room at the beach, and talk it out just the two of us. Let’s try to get back to normal, or at least back to something like it.”
Fred looked at Gunn and said, “I don’t think we can get back to normal.”
Gunn felt like someone had stabbed him in the heart. He said, “So you don’t even want to try?”
Fred looked down at the ground and said, “I waited for you last night.”
Gunn put a hand over hers and said, “I wasn’t ready to talk yet, but I am now.”
Fred looked into Gunn’s eyes, and put a hand on his cheek. “Okay, let’s go tonight, and try. I’ll tell Angel.”
Gunn smiled and kissed Fred on the forehead. He said, “Okay.”
Fred went in to find Angel, and Gunn sat thinking about Connor. He decided he wasn’t really still mad at Connor. The more he thought about it the more he realized he hadn’t been handling things right with Connor. He went back and found Connor still reading. Gunn said, “Connor.”
Connor looked up warily. Gunn put a hand on his shoulder and said, “I’m sorry I haven’t been very nice to you today. Fred and I are….”
Connor smiled in understanding and said, “It’s okay. You don’t have to explain. I was rotten to you yesterday, and you have every right to be upset.”
Gunn stood there looking at Connor for a few seconds and said, “You’ve really changed this past month. Sometimes I think about the way you were when you were staying with us the three months when Angel was gone. You sure had us fooled with your innocent act. You were probably laughing at us all the time.”
Connor felt himself get red with embarrassment. Gunn noticed this and continued, “I was really shocked when I found out you’d been lying to us the whole time. I was hurt by your betrayal, because I had tried to do right by you and help you fit into this world.”
Connor felt worse and guiltier than he had in a while. He muttered, “I’m sorry.”
Gunn smiled and said, “I know, and that’s what makes what you did yesterday forgivable. I know that you’re changing, and it hasn’t been easy for you. Hell, I think it’s amazing that you’ve come so far so fast. Half of the things you learned growing up were wrong, and it’s hard to change your beliefs, especially when you’re almost a man. So, I guess what I want to say is, I know you’re still gonna make mistakes, but for the most part I think you’re turning into a person I will be proud to call a friend.”
Connor looked up at Gunn for a second and then back down. He couldn’t help but smile and feel good with what Gunn had said. It made him feel that he belonged there with the group. He muttered, “Thanks.”
Gunn pulled Connor into a quick hug and said, “Okay. I think since I was just as rotten to you this morning as you were to me yesterday, we can just call it even. How does that sound?”
Connor smiled and said, “Good. That sounds good.”
Gunn ruffled Connor’s hair affectionately. He said, “Now that I’m done being an ass, I’m sure you have some questions about what you’ve read, so let’s talk about it.”
They spent the next hour talking about current affaires.

That night Fred and Gunn left for the beach, and Angel hung out with Connor. When Connor finished up his homework, he looked over to his dad who was reading an old book, and asked, “Have you ever….”
Angel looked up. “Have I ever what?”
“Sired anyone?”
Angel sighed and said, “More than once.”
“Are they still alive?”
“I’m not sure about all of them. I know Drusilla is alive.”
“Tell me about her.”
Angel looked away and said, “It’s not a pretty story Connor. It’s one of the bad ones.”
Connor nodded and said, “Go ahead.”
Angel told Connor about how he had picked her out and how he had made her completely insane before turning her. When Angel was done Connor felt kind of sick and said, “Enough for tonight.”
Angel nodded. He said, “Sometimes I think about killing her. I know she’s evil, and I know I should kill her, but I can’t bring myself to do it. I made her who she is, and she’s…..mine. I mean, if she was trying to kill someone in front of me, and I didn’t have a choice, I would kill her, but it would be hard.”
Connor looked confused. He yawned and said, “I think I’ll call it an early night.”
Angel knew he had given Connor a lot to think about so he nodded and gave him a hug before saying good night. Once Connor was ready for bed he set his alarm so he could go out and meet Julie again. Connor didn’t sleep well as usual after hearing one of Angel’s more horrific stories. He had nightmares about Angelus killing Holtz slowly in front of him while he was tied up. He woke up before his alarm yelling, “Father!”
He was able to fall back to sleep and get another hour of sleep before the alarm went off.

The next morning when his alarm went off he was even more tired than the day before, but he got up anyway. He got ready and jumped out his window. When he got to Julie’s room he found she was ready for him.
They walked hand in hand to the coffee shop, where Julie paid for their drinks. Julie started the conversation. “Last night, I went to see a movie with my friend Shelly. It was all about vampires, and by the end we were kind of freaked out. Then when we were walking back to campus I had the strangest feeling that something was lurking around trying to get us.”
Julie laughed a little and said, “It’s funny now, but it wasn’t last night. Shelly and I both must have been caught up in the film, because half way home we looked at each other and started to run. Pretty silly.”
Connor frowned and said, “No it’s not silly. There probably was something stalking you. I think it’s smart to run if you feel uneasy. That’s your instinct taking over. You shouldn’t be walking around after dark anyway. It’s not safe.”
Julie scoffed, “I’m sure there was no one really after us. The campus is very safe, and I wasn’t alone.”
Connor wasn’t sure what to say. He thought about telling her that vampires were real along with other nasty creatures, but he liked her and didn’t want her to think he was insane. But he also wanted to make sure she was more careful. While he was thinking about what to say, Julie laughed and said, “Don’t look so worried.”
Connor frowned. “I am worried about you walking around after dark. You don’t go out alone do you?”
Julie rolled her eyes and said, “Jeez you sound like my dad or something. It’s not safe…blah, blah, blah. Lay off.”
Connor said, “It’s just that…”
Connor thought about it, and he knew Julie had been open to the idea of other dimensions, so he decided to tell her. “I know for a fact that there are things out there that can hurt you. I’ve seen them, and I’m not talking about humans.”
Julie’s eyes lit up. She said, “Really!? Like what?”
Connor didn’t think excitement was the way he would have reacted to the same news. He thought she should be upset, not happy. “Yes really. There really are vampires, and demons out there in large numbers, and they will hurt you if you aren’t careful.”
Julie smiled and said, “Can you show me? I’d like to see one.”
“No, it’s dangerous. I’m telling you so that you can keep yourself safe, not so that you can go out looking for them.”
Julie pouted. “How can I keep myself safe if you don’t show me what to watch for. And maybe I don’t even believe you anyway. Maybe I should just walk around campus alone and see what happens.”
Connor didn’t like that idea at all. He tried to think of a way to convince her, but the only way he could think of was showing her. He nodded and said, “Okay. But it will have to be late. Can I come get you around two thirty in the morning?”
Julie looked excited again and bounced in her chair a little when she said, “Goodie. I’ll be ready. Sounds like fun.”
Connor mumbled, “It won’t be.”
“So what should I know? Are vampires like they are in the movies?”
Connor spent the rest of their time telling Julie what he knew about vampires, which was a lot. He had a hard time when it came to convincing her that they were evil and had no soul. She seemed to think that vampires would be nice if she gave them a chance. She finally agreed to at least be careful until she saw one for herself. They walked back to her dorm room, and kissed again before Connor left.

He had to run full speed to get back home in time, and even then he climbed in the window right at ten. He got in the shower and washed off. As he was walking down the stairs Wesley was starting to walk up. Wesley said, “Ah, there you are. I was about to come wake you. Since Fred and Gunn are gone for the next couple of days, it looks as though you get stuck with me for three hours of tutoring.”
Connor smiled and said, “That’s okay. You get stuck with me too.”
Wesley smiled and said, “Good point. Let’s get started.”

Half an hour into studying, Connor’s head started to nod. Wesley was so busy talking he didn’t notice until Connor was actually asleep with his head on the open book he was supposed to be following along in. Wesley stared at Connor for a second and then whacked him on the back of the head and stood out of the way. Connor woke up swinging a punch that didn’t connect with anything, and made him fall out of his chair. He looked up at Wesley from the floor and said, “What the hell?”
“Sorry. You fell asleep, and that was my first reaction. Looks like I’m becoming more like my father than I’d like to be.” Wesley smiled a sad smile.
Connor looked embarrassed and said, “Sorry I fell asleep. I didn’t sleep well. Nightmares.”
“You want to take a break and get some coffee or something?”
Connor shook his head. “I’m fine. Let’s keep going.”
Wesley started again, and after a few minutes he could tell Connor wasn’t paying attention. He said, “What is it now?”
Connor snapped out of his daze and looked at Wesley. “What?”
“You’re not concentrating. What’s the problem?”
Connor shook his head and said, “I was just thinking about Holtz. If I had fallen asleep when he was teaching me something….”
Wesley put a hand on Connor’s shoulder and said, “I’m sorry.”
“It’s okay.”
“No. It’s not okay. It’s my fault you had the abusive childhood that you had, but I was trying to save you.”
Connor looked up and said, “Angel has told me about it, but will you tell me from your point of view?”
Wesley told him the story of how he had taken baby Connor from Angel to protect him. When he was done Connor nodded and said, “You should have talked to Gunn and Fred about it instead of just taking me.”
“I suppose.”
“It’s kind of funny. I spent so many years hating Angel, and now I think it should have been you.”
“Yes.”
“But at least you were trying to help me.”
“Yes.”
Connor nodded and said, “Okay, I’m ready to study now.”

By lunchtime Connor was having a hard time concentrating on studying, because he was working pretty hard at just not falling asleep. He was happy to take a break and eat. Then he and Angel did some work with swords in the basement. Connor was embarrassed at how badly he did at first, and had to put all of his effort and concentration into the fight to bring it up to par. Angel was always able to get the upper hand both when they had really fought, and when they were practicing, but today Connor lost faster than normal. When they were done, Angel said, “Are you feeling okay?”
Connor got defensive and said in a nasty voice, “I’m fine Dad.”
Angel held up his hands in surrender and said, “Just checking. No need to get upset.”
“Sorry. I just didn’t sleep too good.”
“Nightmares again?”
Connor nodded.
Angel said, “Wanna tell me about it?”
Connor shook his head.
“It might help if you did.”
“It was about you and Fath….Holtz. You were killing him, and I was helpless to stop you.”
Angel sighed, “Again?”
Connor shrugged. “I have lots of variations on that same theme. Especially after you tell me stories about your past.”
“Maybe I shouldn’t tell you so much about my past…”
“No. I need to know about it. Even if it gives me nightmares, it still helps me to understand things.”
Angel nodded. Connor continued with, “And I’ve always had nightmares. Now they are just about different things. I used to get one all the time about not being able to save Father from a kline. I think I was afraid of being alone more than anything else.”
“I can understand that.”
Angel stood up and stretched. “You ready to do some more studying?”
Connor nodded and they headed upstairs.

Connor was able to stay awake for the rest of his tutoring sessions. He went to his room to do some homework, and ended up falling asleep for an hour. Angel woke him up for dinner. After the nap Connor felt better.
Later that night they got a visitor. A woman came into the hotel while they were finishing up dinner. She said she had a case for them, and Angel took the woman into his office so she could explain the case to him. Once the woman was gone Angel gathered Wesley, Lorne, and Connor in the lobby. He said, “Looks like we have a case. The woman’s husband is missing. The police won’t do anything because he left a note, but the woman doesn’t believe the note is genuine. She wants us to find him to make sure there was no foul play. Connor and I are going over to her house now to get the guys scent and see if we can track him since he has only been gone for a day.”
Angel handed a picture and a piece of paper to Wesley and said, “Here’s a picture of him, and his name and address. See if you can find out anything about him on the Internet. Maybe a past his wife doesn’t know about, or an on line life that might give us some clues.”
Wesley nodded and headed for the computer. Angel turned to Lorne and said, “Here’s a copy of the picture for you. Take it around to the clubs and see if you can get any hits.”
“Will do.”
Angel turned to Connor and motioned for him to go with him out the door. They took Angel’s car to the woman’s house. Before they got out of the car Angel said, “Let me do the talking, but get his scent, and look around for anything out of ordinary.”
Connor nodded and they got out of the car. The woman opened the door when Angel knocked. She smiled a sad and tired smile. Angel said, “Hi Pamela. May we come in.”
She stood back and said, “Yes please come in.”
Connor shook his head at what he perceived as the woman’s stupidity. Angel said, “Thanks. We just need to take a quick look around, and I would like to see that note.”
While Pamela showed Angel the note, Connor walked around the house taking deep breaths, and looking at everything. His nose led him to the bedroom where the strongest smell of the male was. He opened the closet, and looked at and smelled the clothes. He went to the bed and smelled the pillow that smelled like the man. Then he went to find Angel. Angel was comforting the woman who had started to cry. Connor felt uncomfortable and went to stand by the front door. Soon Angel was there with him, and trying to reassure the woman that they would do everything they could to find her husband. As soon as they were outside, and Pamela had shut the door behind them Angel said, “Can you sense anything from here?”
Connor smelled the air, and walked around the yard. He walked to the street, and went a few steps in both directions on the sidewalk. He went back to Angel and said, “No can you?”
Angel shook his head. They got back in the car and Angel used his cell phone to call Lorne. Lorne said, “Hold on Angel.”
Angel waited, and then Lorne said, “Okay. I had to get out of the bar. I’m here at the bar Big Red, and when I showed the bar tender the picture of the guy, he looked like a gambler who’s cards had fallen out of his sleeves. He denied ever seeing the guy, but he was obviously lying. You want me to show the picture around and ask some more questions?”
Angel said, “No. Just wait for us. We’ll be there in ten.”
As Angel and Connor headed towards the bar, Angel tossed the phone to Connor. He said, “Call Wes and see if he has any news.”
Connor looked at him questioningly. Angel said, “I can barely use the damn thing. I sure as hell can’t drive and call Wes at the same time.”
Connor snickered and dialed Wesley. Wesley didn’t have any news to report. They arrived at the bar, and as Connor was getting out of the car Angel said, “Sorry Connor, no one under twenty one in a bar.”
“Why?”
“Because that is the legal age for drinking alcohol, and a bar’s main purpose is to sell alcohol.”
“So I’m just supposed to sit in the car?”
Angel looked at Connor and said, “I’m going in to talk to Lorne, and see what I can find out. If I come up with nothing, you and I will both walk around the building, and the surrounding area to see if we can get the man’s scent. For now wait for me in the car.”
Connor felt a little left out, but nodded his head. Angel got out and went into the bar. Connor sat there for fifteen minutes. Then he decided something must have happened to Angel, so he got out and walked around the building looking for a window. As he was walking he got a whiff of the man’s scent. He forgot about the window and started tracking. Soon he was two blocks away and trying to find a window in a different building. As he was walking around it, he heard faint sounds of muffled screaming. Once he heard that he looked more quickly for a window. He found two, but both of them had been boarded up, and he had to go back to the only door he could find. He tried the knob, and found the door locked. He stopped for a minute and thought about it. He thought, ‘Should I go get Dad? If someone lives here, he couldn’t get in anyway. Should I just break it down? Something could be killing that guy, and maybe he’ll be dead by the time Dad gets out of the bar.’
As he was thinking he heard the scream again, and decided to break down the door. He tried to do it as quietly as possible by just turning the knob and pushing until the wood around the deadbolt broke away from the doorframe. He was ready to fight, but no one was there to greet him at the door. He walked through the building, which appeared to be a closed restaurant, and headed towards the man’s smell, and the noises. He found a door in the kitchen. He tried it, and found it was not locked. He opened it slowly, and found no one on the other side, but a set of stairs going down. He cautiously went down the stairs, and soon could hear someone breathing not to far off. About half way down the stairs, he knew that he would be visible to the person breathing in a few more steps. He decided the element of surprise would be in his favor since he only heard one person. He jumped the rest of the stairs, and landed in front of a startled man. The man was much larger than Connor, and started to reach in his jacket. Connor punched him in the face, and he was knocked cold before his hand could get the gun he had been going for.
Connor stopped and listened at the door for a few seconds. It had some kind of soundproofing, but now that he was close, he could hear what was going on pretty well. He heard a voice say, “I don’t see why you’re being so stubborn Matt. You know you can’t leave the business. If you would just stop giving us problems, we could all go back to normal.”
Connor knew the guy they were looking for was named Matt. Then he heard a tired voice that was gasping for breath say, “Never.”
Connor heard the sound of flesh against flesh, and another scream. Connor tried to open the door, and found it too was unlocked. He peeked in, and saw a man tied to a chair, and two men standing close to him. The man tied to the chair had some knives sticking in both thighs, and one in his shoulder. One of the men standing was older and wearing a nice suit. The other was younger and bigger, and wearing black jeans and a tee shirt. The younger man looked to the older man who nodded. The younger man punched the man tied to the chair in the side of the head. Connor stepped in and before anyone even realized he was in the room he had knocked out the younger guy with one punch to the head. The older man was staring at Connor with disbelief. Connor took a step towards the older man. The older man ripped one of the knives out of the thigh of the man tied to the chair, and held it up to Connor. Connor easily kicked it out of the man’s hand, and punched him out with little effort. Connor turned to the man in the chair. The man said, “Please….”
Connor knelt down and started to untie the man. Connor said, “Are you Matt?”
The man numbly nodded his head and said, “Thank you.”
When he was all untied Connor looked at the knives. He said, “I’m not sure if we should leave those in, or take them out before we take you to the hospital.”
At that minute Angel came running into the room. Connor looked up, and could see that Angel was really scared. Connor looked confused and said, “What?”
Angel’s face went from scared to relieved, and he walked to Connor and hugged him so tight that Connor had trouble breathing. Angel pushed Connor away and looked him up and down for damage. When Angel looked at him again Connor could tell he was angry. Angel still had a hold on one of Connor’s arms and he gave him a little shake and said, “What the hell were you thinking?!”
Connor yanked his arm out of Angel’s grip and yelled back, “I was thinking about saving this guy!”
Angel closed his eyes for a few seconds and said, “We’ll talk at home.”
A breathless Lorne arrived and looked at the men on the floor. “Wow.”
Angel turned to Lorne and said, “Call the cops, and tell them to get over here.”
As Lorne left to make the call, Angel kneeled and patted down the three men on the ground. After he had four guns in his hands he looked at Connor and said, “Tie up the three on the floor, while I get Matt upstairs.”
Connor nodded and used the ropes that had been on Matt to tie up the three men he had knocked out. Angel picked up Matt as gently as he could and carried him upstairs. A few minutes later Connor went upstairs, and Angel said to Lorne, “I’ll deal with the cops. Take Connor home.”
Connor was still upset that Angel seemed angry and he said, “I don’t need someone to take me home.”
Angel was still angry, but he tried to keep his voice calm when he said, “I know you could get home on your own just fine, but I will feel better if you go with Lorne.”
Connor looked down and shrugged. “Okay.”
Lorne led the way out and went to a sewer entrance. Connor said, “Why are we going this way?”
Lorne smiled and said, “The cops get kind of nervous when they see green guys with horns. Sometimes they even use me for target practice. Let’s just say I’d like to avoid them.”
Connor nodded. Half way home Connor said more to himself than to Lorne, “I don’t see why I had to leave. I could have told the cops what I saw.”
Lorne smiled and said, “Not a good idea kiddo.”
“Why?”
Lorne said in a conspiring whisper, “Teenage boys aren’t supposed to be able to knock out a mob guy and two of his henchmen without help.”
“Oh.” Connor thought about it for a few seconds and nodded.
Connor said, “I guess I’m kind of a freak.”
Lorne patted Connor’s back and said, “Well yeah, but so are your friends and family.”
Connor smiled. Then he said, “What’s a mob guy?”
Lorne spent the rest of the walk trying to explain it.

Once he got home, Connor finished up his homework and waited for Angel. He was nervous that Angel would be home later than two in the morning, and then he would be late to see Julie. He finally heard a knock at his bedroom door around one thirty. “Come in.”
Angel opened the door, walked in, and closed it behind him. He walked to Connor’s bed and sat on the edge next to Connor. He said, “I was really scared tonight.”
“Because you thought I would make a mistake and not be able to save the guy before you got there?”
Angel shook his head.
Connor said, “Then why?”
“You know what a gun can do right?”
“Yeah, I remember when you took those bullets for me right after Sunny died, and I’ve seen Wesley shoot things.”
“Well, I was afraid that one of the men that you knocked out would shoot you.”
Connor shook his head and said confidently, “They were human. I knocked them out before they even had a chance to see me very well, let alone reach for a gun.”
Angel said, “Man you really are eighteen aren’t you. It’s been so long since I was young, that I can’t even remember feeling invincible anymore.”
Connor was frustrated with the conversation and said, “Look I saved the guy, and we finished the case. What else is there to say.”
Angel could see this wasn’t going well, and decided to change tactics. He stood up and crossed his arms as he said, “Did I or did I not tell you to wait for me in the car.”
Connor looked away from Angel and out his window when he said, “Oh, that.”
“That’s not an answer.”
Connor shrugged and said, “You took too long, and I was worried that something had happened, so I got out to look in a window and make sure you were okay. Then I got the guys scent and started to track him.”
“I can understand you getting out to check and make sure things were okay with me and Lorne, but once you got the guys scent you shouldn’t have gone off on your own. You should have kept looking for a window, and looked in to see us. You could have signaled me. I could have heard you even if you just said my name loudly outside of the door.”
Connor thought about it and said, “I didn’t really think about it. I just got caught up in following the scent, and then when I found the building he was in I could hear the screams.”
Angel put his hands on his hips and said, “And then you went in anyway?”
Connor tossed his arms in the air and said, “I thought about getting you, but if it had been a house you couldn’t have gone in anyway. I had to save the guy.”
Angel started pacing back and forth. He said, “Okay Connor, I’m glad you at least thought about getting me, and I really am glad you saved Matt. You are a great fighter, and I know you can handle yourself well, but you are too used to doing things alone. You have to learn to do things with the rest of the team. Your first mistake was not getting me from the bar, and your second mistake was going into that restaurant without back up. Those are dangerous things. Those are things that can get you killed. You have to learn that you’re not alone any more, and that there are people who will care a lot if you get hurt. And you increase your chances for a successful fight when you have people fighting with you.”
Connor thought about it and said, “I guess.”
“You should also have more respect for humans as adversaries. Maybe I should have you train with Gunn or Wes sometimes. Gunn’s a strong fighter, and you never know what nasty surprises Wes has up his sleeves.”
Connor laughed and said, “Yeah right. I’d kick Wesley’s ass.”
Angel glared at Connor and said, “You think so?”
Connor scoffed. “Yes.”
Angel said, “Okay, tomorrow afternoon after your tutoring, you and Wes can have a training session. That will be part of your punishment for tonight, and it will hopefully give you more respect for humans, and maybe make you a little less cocky.”
Connor said, “Part of?”
“Yes, part of.”
“But I saved the guy.”
Angel sat down next to Connor on the bed, and put an arm on his shoulders. He said, “Yes you did, and you did a good job, but you still got out of the car when I told you not to, and you went off fighting on your own.”
Connor glared at Angel. “So you’re gonna punish me anyway? Even though I helped you.”
Angel nodded and said, “I’m not punishing you because you helped me, I’m punishing you because you put yourself at risk, and did something I told you not to do.”
“You suck.”
Angel put a hand on Connor’s upper arm and pulled him face down across his lap. He brought his hand down hard on Connor’s butt and said, “I used to suck a lot more often.”
Connor groaned at his Dad’s bad sense of humor, and yelped as the spanks continued. Once Connor was kicking his legs Angel said, “You always remember you’re part of a team, and wait for one of us before you do something dangerous.”
Connor yelled, “Okaaaaaaayyy.”
Angel gave him ten more hard swats, and helped him to stand up. Connor glared at Angel and Angel pulled him into a hug. Connor hugged Angel back and started to calm down. He thought, ‘I guess it could have been worse. In fact it usually is. I got to keep my jeans on, and Dad stopped before I even started to cry.’
Angel interrupted Connor’s thoughts with, “Now that we’ve talked about it, if you go off trying to be a hero again I’ll be harder on you.”
Connor pushed Angel away and said, “I wasn’t trying to be a hero. I was trying to…. I was trying to help you…..us….”
Angel pulled Connor back into a hug and said, “Sorry. I guess that was a bad choice of words. I know you were trying to be part of the team, and I think with a little work you’ll be great at it.”
Connor yawned. Angel let him go and said, “Get some sleep. I’ll see you in the morning.”
“Night Dad.”
“Sleep well.”

Once Angel was out the door, Connor looked at his clock, and then his bed. He was tired, but he knew he didn’t have enough time to take a nap if he wanted to get to Julie’s dorm by two thirty. He got a book and read standing up so he wouldn’t accidentally fall asleep. He read for fifteen minutes, and then put his book away and jumped out his window. As he was running to Julie’s dorm he thought about what Angel had said about going off on his own. He was pretty sure that Angel would not approve of what he was about to do, and he was glad that Angel didn’t know about Julie. He felt a little guilty for going behind Angel’s back, and though he hadn’t thought so before, he now thought that Angel would probably think of his sneaking off as a kind of lie. Connor shook his head to get those thoughts away. He thought about Julie getting killed by a vampire while walking home from the movies, and he decided he was doing the right thing.
He arrived at Julie’s dorm, but found the front door locked. He walked around the side of the building and found Julie’s window. She was on the second floor, and he thought about climbing up to her window, but then thought she might not think that was normal. He found some small pebbles and tossed them at her window. When nothing happened he tossed another three pebbles at the window. Then he saw Julie’s face looking down on him. He smiled and waved. She opened the window and called, “I’ll be right down.”
Connor noticed Julie was dressed in tight black jeans and a tight black tee shirt. Her red hair was tied back in a ponytail. When she saw him, she put her arms up around his shoulders, and pulled him into a kiss. Connor kissed her back and they stood there for a few minutes. She broke off and said, “Wow. Nice.”
Connor smiled and said, “You look good.”
Julie smiled and said, “So where are we headed?”
Connor got serious and said, “Okay Julie, I’m willing to take you to show you a real vampire, but only if you promise to follow my rules so you can be safe.”
Julie nodded. Connor said, “You stay right next to me while I’m tracking, and then when we find one, I’ll tell you where to stand. You need to stay where I tell you until the vampire is dead. If you see me get hurt, then you run. Don’t come try to help me.”
Connor handed Julie a stake and said, “You shouldn’t need this, but in case something goes wrong, you stab this into the vampires heart to kill it.”
Julie took the stake and said, “I don’t think I could.”
“You might be surprised when your life is in danger. Okay let’s go. I’ll try to go slow, but tell me if you need me to go slower.”
Julie nodded and they headed off. About three blocks off campus Connor stopped and sniffed the air. He turned a corner and walked another block. He stopped half way through the next block and turned to look between two buildings. He walked between them into a short ally. He motioned for Julie to stand still, and he went a few more feet to the end of the ally. He saw a young boy lying on the ground. He knelt down and could see the teeth marks in the neck. He felt for a pulse, but found none. He motioned for Julie to come closer. As soon as she saw that it was a boy she ran and knelt down next to Connor. She said, “What’s wrong with him?”
“He’s dead. Vampire.”
Connor pointed out the teeth marks on the neck. Julie shook her head and said, “Dead?”
Connor nodded. Julie said, “But….dead?”
“Yes.”
“I think I’m gonna be sick.”
Julie stumbled over to the ally wall and vomited. Connor stood and waited for her to finish. When she was done he motioned her to follow him. She walked out on shaky legs, and called after him, “Shouldn’t we call the police?”
Connor stopped and waited for her to catch up. He said, “No. The boy is dead, and the police don’t believe in vampires. We need to find it and kill it. The trail is still fresh. The boy was still warm.”
Julie looked at Connor with horror. Connor saw the look and said, “I know. I’m a freak. I’d like to be able to just take you home, because I can see that you’re upset, but I need to follow it and kill it now while the boy’s scent is still on it, and it’s not safe for you to walk home alone.”
Julie just looked dazed and said nothing. Connor started walking and said, “Come on.”
Julie followed him. Two blocks later Connor stopped and looked at a manhole. He said, “Crap.”
Julie caught up and said, “What?”
“It’s in the sewer.”
Julie had had a little time to think about things and she said, “Then let’s go get it.”
Connor said, “You’ll have to come with me, and the sewer isn’t as safe as the streets. Things besides vampires may be down there.”
Julie nodded to show she was willing. Connor opened the manhole, and jumped down. He called up, “Jump, I’ll catch you.”
Julie said, “Are you sure?”
“Yes.”
They went about three blocks underground, and Connor stopped at a turn in the tunnels. He held up his hand for her to stop too. He got out his stake, and jumped around the corner of the tunnel. He was faced with one male vampire that was ready for him with a punch to the stomach. Connor dodged, and punched the vampire in the face. The vampire was taken by surprise by Connor’s strength, and fell back. Julie by this time had come to the corner so she could see what was going on. From what she could see, Connor was fighting a normal looking man. As the vampire was getting up Connor said, “Show us your true face monster.”
The vampire raised his eyebrows in surprise. He changed face as he said, “I guess I should oblige a person’s dying wish.”
Julie was repulsed at the face she saw and gasped. The vampire turned to her and said, “You’re next pretty.”
Connor took advantage of the fact that the vampire was looking away, and tried to stake him. The vampire had anticipated this move, and grabbed Connor’s arm. He punched Connor in the stomach with all his strength, and let go of his arm at the same time, so Connor went flying against the other side of the sewer tunnel. As he hit the wall Julie yelled, “Connor!”
The vampire thought Connor was out for the count, and went to the girl. Julie saw him moving towards her and turned to run. He grabbed her hair and pulled her back against his chest. He whispered in her ear, “You smell yummy.”
He licked her neck, and was about to bite when Connor staked him from the back. Julie turned in time to see the vampire turn to dust. Connor said, “Are you okay?”
Julie shook her head no, and her eyes filled with tears as she flung herself on Connor. Connor was a little surprised, but held onto her for a second. Then even though she was still crying, he pushed her away and said, “It’s not safe here. We have to make it back to the street, and back to your room.”
Julie nodded and wiped her eyes with the backs of her hands. Connor held her hand and started towards the manhole. They made it all the way back to her dorm room with no trouble. Once they got there Julie hugged Connor tight and whispered, “You were right, it wasn’t fun, but thanks for showing me.”
Connor pulled back from the hug enough to kiss her on the forehead and said, “You try to get some sleep.”
Julie looked at her watch and said, “Wow, I can’t believe we’ve been gone for less than an hour.”
“Why don’t we skip coffee in the morning, so we can both sleep in. But I’ll come by Wednesday morning, I mean, if you still want me to.”
Julie kissed Connor on the mouth and said, “Yes please. I’ll see you then.”
Connor watched while she used her key to get in the front door of the dormitory. Once she was safely inside, Connor walked back home. He was fairly pleased with how the evening had gone. He wished he had been there in time to save the boy, but he was glad he had killed the vampire, and proved to Julie that she needed to stay safe. And he was happy that she still wanted to see him. He made it home with no problems, and climbed up to his window. He took off his clothes and put them in the hamper, and decided to rinse off with a quick shower before going to bed.

The next morning Connor slept in until 10:30 when Wesley came up and woke him up. Connor felt pretty good and had a good time studying with Wesley for most of the morning. In the afternoon, once he was done studying with Angel and Lorne, Angel said, “Hey Connor, I’ve talked to Wes, and you’re going to have a training session with him in a few minutes. Wes wants to do it in the lobby.”
Connor smiled and said, “Cool. I’ve wanted to kick his ass more than once.”
Angel smiled too and said, “That’s exactly what Wes said.”
Connor frowned but said nothing. Angel said, “Well his actual words were, ‘Good. I’ve wanted to teach him a lesson on more than one occasion.’ But the sentiment is the same.”
Angel continued, “I’ll be standing by the door to make sure neither one of you gets out of control, but I’ll stay out of the way. Try to remember it’s a training session, and that you’re both on the same team.”
Connor nodded and they walked to the lobby where Wesley was waiting. Wesley said, “Are you ready to start?”
Connor nodded and Angel went to sit on the stairs by the front door.
Wesley tossed Connor a sword, and took one himself. He said, “Let’s warm up with a little sparring.”
They both kept it clean, and soon they could both tell that while Connor was stronger, Wesley was able to hold his own, and had some moves that Connor didn’t know. Wesley ended the sparring by saying, “Okay, enough of that.”
Wesley put the swords away. He said, “Okay let’s do a little hand to hand. I don’t know if you’ve thought about it before or not, but the best thing you have going for you is the fact that you look young. No human, vampire, or demon will expect you to be strong, so they will underestimate you, which gives you a chance to take them down.”
Connor thought about it and knew Wesley was right. Wesley continued with, “For someone who knows you it’s a little different. I won’t give you the chance to take me by surprise.”
Connor glared at Wesley a little, and thought, ‘I’ll still kick your ass.’
Wesley said, “Okay, come at me.”
Connor went at Wesley, and Wesley ducked the first two punches, and was able to punch Connor once in the stomach. Connor stumbled back, but didn’t loose his footing, and was trying to kick Wesley the next second. Wesley avoided the kick, but Connor was able to punch Wesley in the stomach right after the kick. He knew Wesley was human, but he had more than one reason to dislike Wesley, so he used all his strength in the punch. Wesley went flying through the air, and fell to the floor across the room. Angel stood up and yelled, “Connor!”
Connor could tell by Angel’s tone that he was less than happy, and he tried unsuccessfully not to smile with satisfaction at Wesley on the floor. Wesley lay there for a few seconds trying to breathe. Connor started to feel bad when Wesley didn’t get up, and he started to walk towards Wesley to help him up. When Wesley saw Connor start to walk for him, he reached under his pant leg and pulled out his handgun. Connor saw Wesley reaching under his pant leg, but didn’t think anything of it. Connor was able to get a glimpse of the gun as soon as it was in Wesley’s hand, and he stopped and stared at Wesley in shock.
Time seemed to go in slow motion for Connor. As soon as he saw the gun was pointed at him, Connor turned to run. He heard the gun go off, and then felt a sharp pain in his left shoulder. He was still turning, and starting to run towards the stairs, when he felt another sharp pain on the left side of his upper back. He looked to Angel, who was still standing on the stairs with his arms crossed and looking resigned and a little sad. Connor felt one more sharp pain on the right side of his lower back, and then he didn’t hear any more shots as he stumbled the two more steps to where Angel stood.
Angel caught Connor, and held him in place by his upper arms. Angel could tell Connor was terrified, and he felt bad. He didn’t know if it had been a good idea or not, but it was too late to look back. He said quietly, “It’s okay son. It’s just training. You haven’t been shot.”
Connor looked confused. He put a hand to his back where he had felt the shots, and felt something wet and sticky. He pulled his hand back to the front of his face and saw a light pink color. He thought, ‘My blood isn’t pink.’
Then Wesley was standing next to him holding his stomach, and the gun. Angel said, “It’s paint Connor.”
Connor still didn’t understand, but the pain in the areas where he had been shot was no longer sharp, but dull and fading fast.
Angel sighed and looked at Wesley when he said, “Maybe it wasn’t such a good idea.”
Wesley said in a strained voice, “If he had been expecting it, it wouldn’t have taught him the lesson as well. I know it’s harsh Angel but, from what you told me, I think it was necessary.”
Angel looked conflicted, but nodded. Angel pulled Connor into a hug and said, “I’m sorry. I just couldn’t let you keep thinking that humans don’t pose a threat to you just because of your strength. Lots of humans carry weapons, and guns seem to be everywhere. You’re not bulletproof, and I need you to be more cautious around people.”
As Angel was talking Connor realized what they had done, and when Angel was done talking Connor shoved him away. He yelled, “So this was training?!”
Angel nodded. Connor shook his head and looked at Wesley. He said, “Your idea?”
Wesley nodded. Connor raised his fist to punch Wesley in the face, but Angel caught his arm before he could throw the punch. Angel said, “No.”
Connor tried to yank his arm out of Angel’s grasp, but couldn’t. He yelled, “Let me go!”
Angel said, “I will if you can be calm.”
“Screw you!”
Angel shook Connor once and raised his voice as he said, “I know it scared you, that was the point, but you’re not hurt. I’ll let you go when I can be sure you aren’t going to attack Wes.”
Connor closed his eyes and took a few deep breaths. He stood still for a few seconds, and then nodded his head. He opened his eyes and looked at Angel when he said, “Okay. I won’t hit him, even though I want to.”
Angel nodded. “Good boy.”
Angel let Connor go and said, “Go change your shirt, and we’ll do a training session together to get rid of some of your frustration.”
Connor nodded and glared at Wesley as he walked past him and up to his room to change his shirt.
Wesley looked at Angel and said, “I don’t know if that went well or not. I suppose it got the point across.”
“Better now than when he’s out there fighting, and someone points a real gun at him. He didn’t even move when you were reaching for your gun, so he lost time. Tomorrow you should take him out and teach him how to use a gun.”
Angel could see the shock in Wesley’s expression, and Angel looked away for a second. He said, “I know what you’re thinking Wes. Connor has a hot temper, and he could fly off the handle and hurt people, and knowing how to use a gun just makes him more dangerous right?”
Wesley looked embarrassed but said, “Well yes.”
“But he isn’t going to fly off the handle, because he’s here with us now, and he knows that we love him. If he’s going to be out there fighting evil, he will most likely come across more than one gun. I want him to know how they work, so that he isn’t at a disadvantage. He needs to know how to take the bullets out safely, he needs to know how to put the safety on and off, and I even want him to do a little target practice. And really Wes, if you think about it, Connor already knows plenty of ways to kill a person. What’s one more?”
Wesley thought about it and said, “I still don’t like it, but if you want me to, I’ll show him tomorrow.”
“Thanks. I think a big part of Connor not flying off the handle is him knowing that we trust him not to. If we expect him to blow up, he probably will. I expect him to be a champion, and fight by my side.”

Connor felt better after training with Angel, and using the punching bag while imagining Wesley’s face for about fifteen minutes.
Later that night Angel went to Connor’s room to say good night. Connor looked up from his homework and said, “Hey.”
Angel came in and sat on the bed. He said, “I came to say good night, and to see if you’re okay with the training session today.”
Connor sighed and said, “I think it was really crappy of you both to trick me like that, but…”
“But what?”
Connor mumbled, “I guess it kind of worked. When I saw Wesley point the gun at me, it was… a new feeling for me. I felt fear, and betrayal, but also surprise. I think you were right that I underestimate humans. I’ll try not to.”
Angel pulled Connor into a hug and said, “I’m sorry about today. There were probably better ways to get the same lesson across, but I’m glad you learned something from it at least. Tomorrow I’m gonna have Wes teach you how to use a gun. Just the basics so that you’ll know what to do if you need to someday.”
Connor didn’t think guns would be of much use to him, since he usually killed things that wouldn’t die from a gunshot wound, but he nodded his acceptance.

The next morning Connor got up with his alarm at seven. He got ready and again jumped out the window and went to meet Julie. He wasn’t sure what kind of reception he would get after killing the vampire in front of her, but he hoped she would still like him.
He knocked on her dorm door, and she opened the door fully dressed and ready to go. She smiled and said, “Hi.”
He smiled back and said, “So, do you still want to go get some coffee with me?”
She pulled him into a long kiss, and when she let him go she said, “Yes.”
They walked hand in hand to the coffee shop. As they were walking Julie broke the silence with, “I want to go over everything you know about vampires again, just to make sure I remember it all, okay?”
Connor smiled and said, “Sure. I’m really glad that you’re taking it seriously. I like you, and I want you to be safe.”
They spent the morning talking about vampires and other demons. Connor looked at the clock, and was surprised at how fast the time seemed to go by. He thought that maybe he should tell Angel about seeing Julie now, just so that he could see her more often, and for longer. He said, “I’ve got to go.”
Julie frowned and said, “Do you have to? I don’t have any classes for another hour.”
Connor wished he could stay longer, but knew he couldn’t. He said, “Sorry, but I have to get back. I’ll see you tomorrow though.”
They walked back to Julie’s room, and Connor bent to kiss her goodbye. He let her go, and she said, “Are you sure you have to go?”
Connor wanted to stay and talk more, but he knew he had to go. He said, “Sorry, I have to get back.”
Julie nodded, and pulled him down for another kiss before he left.
Connor smiled the whole way back to the hotel. Connor climbed up and into his window. As he set his feet on the floor of his room he heard a noise, and looked behind him to see Angel standing in the shadows of his room.

Earlier that day Gunn and Fred had gotten up to see the sun rise over the buildings while sitting on the beach. They had been away together for three days, and this was the beginning of the fourth. During their time away, they had spent hours talking, and trying to see how they both felt about what had happened, and where they wanted to go with their relationship. When it was all said and done, they decided that they still loved each other, and probably always would no matter what else happened. They decided to stay together, and try and make it work. But they also both knew their relationship was different now. Now they both knew that the other was capable of murder, and that changed how they saw themselves and each other.
That morning, they decided they had said all they had to say, and headed for home. When they were a block away from the hotel sitting at a red light Fred said, “Isn’t that Connor?”
Gunn looked away from traffic, and towards the hotel. They saw Connor climbing out of a window on the third floor. They saw him jump and land on his feet. Gunn said, “Definitely Connor.”
Fred looked confused and said, “That’s odd.”
Gunn looked at Fred and smiled. “Home sweet home.”
“Should we follow him?”
The light turned green, and as he was driving Gunn said, “Pretty impossible in the truck, and I can’t keep up with him for very long on foot. Let’s go see what Angel has to say.”
Once Fred and Gunn had gotten their things put away, they went to check Connor’s room to make sure he wasn’t there. Then Gunn went to make coffee while Fred went to wake Angel. Soon they were all in the kitchen. Angel said, “How long ago did you see him leave?”
Gunn said, “Ten minutes ago.”
Angel shook his head and said, “I don’t get it. Last night he seemed fine. We had a training session that was kind of rough, but I thought he was over that. He hasn’t gotten angry enough to try and run away for a while now.”
Fred said, “Well now that I think about it, he didn’t look mad.”
Gunn nodded in agreement. “In fact he was smiling.”
“Smiling?” Angel said with disbelief.
They all stood quietly for a few minutes. Gunn snapped his fingers and said, “I got it. Connor didn’t run away again. He snuck out.”
Fred and Angel thought about it for a minute. The Fred said, “Why?”
Gunn smiled and said, “When I was a teenager, it was usually to go to a party, or hang out with my friends, but I’ll bet Connor is out killing things.”
Angel shook his head and said, “But he can do that with us.”
Gunn said, “Yeah, but I bet it’s pretty satisfying to be doing something behind your back. Or at least I know it was for me when I got away with it.”
Angel got a big grin on his face and said, “So you mean….Connor’s doing something normal?”
Fred and Gunn smiled too. Angel then lost the smile and said, “Or he ran away again. Well, I guess we’ll find out. I think I’ll go wait for him in his room. If he isn’t home by 10:30 or so, then we’ll assume he ran again and we’ll start to track him down.”

Angel was getting anxious and depressed when the clock said 10:04, but just as it went to 10:05 he saw a pair of hands on the windowsill. He smiled with relief, and even happiness, but caught himself quickly and put on what he hoped was a stern face. He stayed perfectly still until Connor was all the way in the room and then he cleared his throat. He could see the emotions flicker on Connor’s face when he saw him. First was surprise, followed by worry, and last anger.
Angel raised his eyebrows at Connor and waited. Connor glared at Angel for a few seconds, and then soon started to feel his face heat up as he looked away.
Angel said quietly, “Where were you?”
“Out.”
“Out where?”
“I don’t want to talk about it.”
“Too bad. You can talk face up, or face down, but you will be telling me about it.”
Connor glared at Angel. Angel said, “Close the window and pull the shade for me please.”
Connor thought about it for a few seconds. He knew while he was standing in the sun he was safe, but he also knew that if he didn’t do what Angel asked him to do things would be worse later. He reluctantly closed the window and pulled the shade. Angel said, “Thank you. Now where were we? Oh yeah, you were going to tell me where you were.”
Connor sighed and looked defeated as he went to sit on his bed. He mumbled, “I went to get coffee with a friend.”
Angel couldn’t help but look surprised. He walked over and stood next to Connor. He said, “What?”
Connor glared up at him and said, “What part didn’t you understand Dad?”
Angel was close enough to smell both the coffee and a female scent on Connor. He said, “There’s so many parts I don’t understand that I don’t know where to start. Who is your friend? How did you meet her? How often have you snuck out? Why didn’t you just ask me if you could go?”
Connor wasn’t sure what to answer first, and all that came out was, “Umm….”
Angel sat next to Connor and said, “Why don’t you tell me the whole story from the beginning.”
Connor thought for a few seconds and said, “You remember when Fred gave that lecture and I went to track that girl?”
“Yeah.”
“Well, when I found her, she asked what that thing was that attacked Fred, and I told her it was from another dimension. Then it kind of came out that I was from another dimension.”
“What! Connor that’s not something you should be telling people.”
Connor rolled his eyes and said, “I know. It just slipped out before I could stop myself, but the great thing is that Julie not only believes me, but she still likes me anyway.”
Angel thought this was strange. He said, “Okay, so how did you go from investigating her, to going out?”
“She said she was interested in other dimensions, and wanted to talk some more but I had to get back to meet you guys, so I went to see her the next day.”
Angel thought about it for a minute. He said, “When? You went with Fred to see her professor, and then we were all trying to convince Fred not to kill him, and then you were with me for the rest of the evening.”
Connor mumbled, “I saw Julie in the morning when Fred was with the professor.”
Angel was silent until Connor looked at him. Angel said, “So instead of protecting Fred like you were supposed to, you were goofing off?”
Connor looked back down and said, “Fred said she didn’t need a babysitter.”
“I’m sure she did, but that’s not really the point is it? The point is that you were supposed to be there to protect her. What if she had confronted the professor, and he had sent her to another dimension. We wouldn’t know where she was or what had happened. She could have died while we were looking for her. I’m really disappointed that you chose going to visit with a person you didn’t even know over protecting your family.”
By the time Angel was done talking Connor felt a huge lump in his throat. He whispered, “We didn’t know the professor was the one.”
Angel put an arm around Connor’s shoulders and said, “But we did know she was in danger, and that she had been attacked at the university last time. You should have stayed with her Connor.”
A tear slid down Connor's face, and he nodded his head in understanding. Angel said, “So you went to visit with Julie, and met up with Fred when she was done?”
Connor nodded. Angel said, “When did you see Julie again?”
Connor wiped his face with his sleeve and said, “The next morning. I set my alarm for 7am, and went to go see her. We went to coffee again, and talked. Then I came home in time to start the day.”
Angel said, “And then that worked out so well, you’ve been doing it every morning since?”
Connor wanted to get this conversation over, and he didn’t want to go into how he took Julie vampire hunting. He thought to himself that 2:30 technically was morning, so he said, “Yes.”
Angel thought about it and shook his head. He said, “So when you were tired, it wasn’t because of nightmares like you said, it was because you’d been going out.”
Connor said, “I did have a nightmare….it just might not have been the only reason I was tired.”
Angel shook his head and said, “How much have you told Julie about yourself, and us?”
“She knows an abbreviated version of my life both in Quor-toth, and here. She knows you’re a private investigator, and that our friends live here and work with us. I told her about my tutoring to get my GED.”
“What about what we really do, and what I really am?”
“I didn’t tell her that you’re a vampire, but I did tell her that they exist….mostly so she would be careful at night. I didn’t go into the whole fighting evil thing.”
Angel said, “And she believed you?”
Connor was hesitant when he said, “Well, not at first, but eventually she did. She’s really very open to new ideas when it comes to the super natural.”
They were both quiet for a few seconds, and then Angel asked, “Why did you keep it a secret from me? Why sneak out when you could just tell me about it and see her when you wanted?”
Connor stood and paced. “I didn’t think you’d let me see her.”
Angel was both hurt and surprised. He said, “Why?”
“You never let me talk to people. You always seem to be worried that I’m gonna blurt out the wrong thing. It’s always ‘let us do the talking.’ So I thought you would either not let me go, or you would want to come with me to make sure I didn’t screw it up.”
Angel sighed. “I’m sorry you felt that way Connor. I guess I’ve been too over protective when it comes to other people, but from what you’ve told me this morning I think I have cause to be. This is the first person out of our circle that you’ve talked to for any length of time, and you’ve told her a lot more information than you should have. You’re lucky that she didn’t call the police, or worse.”
Connor said, “So what now? Are you gonna tell me that I can’t see her?”
“No. You can still see her, but I want to meet her.”
Connor groaned and said, “See this is why I didn’t want to tell you. You’re going to scare her off.”
Angel thought about it and said, “Okay how about if Fred goes to meet her?”
Connor didn’t really want anyone to meet her, but Fred was better than Angel so he nodded and said, “Okay.”
“Good. Are you supposed to meet her tomorrow in the morning again?”
“Yes.”
“Then Fred can go with you.”
Connor thought that sucked but he nodded. He was at least glad that Angel hadn’t told him he couldn’t see Julie. Angel then said, “How many times would you say you lied to one or more of us since you met Julie?”
Connor felt his stomach lurch at that question. He said, “Lied?”
Angel narrowed his eyes and said, “Yes lied.”
“Um….None?”
Angel stood up and walked over to where Connor was. Connor tried to take a step back, but Angel grabbed his upper arm. Angel said, “Try again little boy.”
Connor audibly gulped and said, “Not any direct lies.”
Angel gave Connor a hard swat with his free hand and said, “How many not direct lies?”
Connor’s eyes darted around the room looking for an answer. Angel said, “If you’ve seen her five times since that first time, my guess would be at least five lies.”
Connor’s voice was higher than usual when he said, “Not telling you something isn’t a lie!”
Angel gave him six hard swats and said, “Oh yes it is. Do you really expect me to believe that you don’t know it’s wrong to keep it from me when you’re doing something I wouldn’t approve of?”
“So having coffee and talking is wrong?!”
“Don’t be ridiculous, you know what I’m talking about.”
Angel pulled Connor over to the desk to pick up the hairbrush that he had left there earlier that morning just in case. Then he pulled Connor to the bed and sat down bringing Connor face down over his lap. Angel said, “Sneaking out is wrong.”
Angel gave Connor ten swats with the hairbrush. Connor yelped and said, “Okay! Okay! I won’t sneak out any more.”
Angel said, “Every time you sneak out, you are lying to me about what you did that night, and when you said you were tired from the nightmares, that was a direct lie.”
Connor didn’t have anything to say to this, so Angel started spanking him. Connor was soon sorry he hadn’t talked to Angel about seeing Julie in the first place. When Connor was squirming around and trying to get off his Dad’s lap, Angel said, “You.”
Smack!
“Don’t.”
Smack!
“Lie.”
Smack! Smack!
Connor yelled, “Owww….I’m sorry!”
Angel stopped and stood Connor up. He said, “The pants are coming down Connor. You can do it or I can.”
Connor took a shaky breath and unfastened his jeans. He said, “You don’t have to Dad, I won’t sneak out any more.”
Angel reached out and pulled Connor back over his lap. He ignored the protests and pulled Connor's pants and underwear down together. He said, “This part is for leaving Fred when you were supposed to be protecting her.”
Connor started to cry before Angel brought the brush down, so Angel knew Connor felt guilty about that one. Angel started spanking the bare butt in front of him, and didn’t stop until Connor was crying too hard to yell that he was sorry about it.
When he was done, Angel tossed the brush on the bed and rubbed Connor’s back until Connor pushed himself up. Connor stood and fixed his pants. Angel stood up next to him and pulled him into a big hug. Connor hugged him back and put his head on his Dad’s shoulder. Angel said, “Family is the most important thing Connor. It may not seem fair to you, but because of who you are, you have more responsibilities than other people your age do. When I send you out to protect one of our group, I damn well expect you to do it. Do you understand me?”
Connor nodded his head. They stood there until Connor let go of Angel. Angel let go and stepped back. He said, “Why don’t you get a couple more hours of sleep. I’ll come wake you up in a little while, and we can talk about seeing Julie.”
Connor was very tired from lack of sleep, emotional overload, and physical punishment. He didn’t argue at all. He lay down on his bed and was soon asleep.
Angel took the brush, and went to go get a couple more hours of sleep himself.