Connor decided to try running north. He was able to run for three hours straight without needing a break. He knew he had put quite a bit of distance between himself and the hotel, and he was very pleased with himself. He didn’t recognize the area any more, and he was out of the main part of the city. After running for so long he was hungry. He found a McDonalds restaurant and dug through the trash until he found something edible. Once he was full and rested he started to walk further north.
At the hotel Angel had just gotten back from checking out the sewers and the
vacant apartments he could get to in the daylight. When he walked in the door
Fred shook her head and said, “No luck here, how about you?”
“Nothing. I couldn’t smell him in the sewers at all. I think this time he is going to try to get farther away. Lucky for me, he doesn’t have a car or know how to drive. How about Gunn?”
“He just called a few minutes ago. He’s been to five of the eleven homeless shelters so far, but no luck.”
Angel sighed and said, “I guess there isn’t much else to do until it gets dark. We better call Wesley and tell him to skip today.”
By 6pm Angel was making everyone nervous by pacing around the lobby, when
Fred shouted, “Angel, come see this!”
Angel ran to see what the problem was. Fred pointed to the TV. There on the screen was a live news report. Fred had turned it up, and the reporter said, “For those of you who missed it, we’re replaying the amazing rescue, which happened just about half an hour ago. Lucky for all of us one of the people on the bridge had a home video camera, and was able to record this. Here we see the car half off the bridge, and you can even see that it’s rocking back and forth a little. As the camera zooms in you can see the two children in the back seat, and there one of them is looking out the back trying to wave at someone to help. As the camera zooms back out we can see some of the drivers from other cars getting out, and standing back from the teetering car. Now if you look in the right side of your screen, you can see the boy walking towards the car from the south end of the bridge, and well you can see the rest for yourselves, but we don’t know how to explain it.”
Everyone in the room was silent as they watched Connor go up to the car and try to open the side door so the kids could get out, but the concrete of the bridge railing blocked it. Conner then goes to the back of the car and starts to pull it away from the railing. It moves about a foot, and then two other men come over to help pull. Soon the car is clear of the railing, and Connor goes to try and open the door again. It won’t open, so he motions for the kids to move to the other side of the car, and breaks the glass with his foot. Then he pulls kids from the car window one at a time and hands them over to some of the other people who are standing around. Next he goes to the driver’s door and opens it. He pulls an unconscious woman out and lays her on the ground. There is no sound, but you can see him talking to one of the women standing by him, and she gets out a cell phone to make a call. Then Connor gets up and continues walking north over the bridge.
The footage is over and the news reporter appears onto the screen. She is standing a few feet in front of the car with an ambulance and police officers working in the background. The reporter says, “There you have it folks. The two children are fine, and are with their father. The woman is still in critical condition, but is expected to make it. The children’s father has seen the tape, and he has asked if anyone knows the identity of the young man on the tape. Anyone with information please call….”
Fred turned the volume down, and Angel said with a big grin, “That’s my kid.”
Gunn said, “I knew he was strong, but not that strong. Did you see him move that car by himself?”
Fred was looking at a map and said, “That bridge is about 90 miles from here.”
Angel looked really amazed and said, “Strong and really fast. And it still won’t be dark for about three hours.”
Gunn said, “I can go try to get him.”
Fred said, “We could both go, and try to convince him to come back.”
Angel shook his head and said, “He won’t come willingly, and you two can’t force him unless you disable him somehow like a tranquilizer or the tazer gun again. It’ll take a couple of hours to get to where he was and start tracking him, so let’s take my car and I’ll ride in the trunk until it gets dark.”
Gunn nodded and said, “Sound like a good plan. Hey Fred, is there a way to get to the other side of that bridge that won’t be backed up with traffic?”
Soon they had a plan of action, and they all got in the car to try and find Connor.
Once it had been dark for about an hour, Connor decided to eat something, and start looking for a place to spend the night. He was very pleased with how far he had gotten. He was sure Angel wouldn’t be able to find him this time. He found a Taco Bell, and dug through the trash for dinner. As he sat eating on the sidewalk, he thought about how strange this dimension was. ‘Why do people toss out edible food, and lots of it? Why won’t people help each other?’ He knew when he got to the bridge that people had been standing around the car for at least five minutes before he came along, and no one had even tried to help. ‘Angel is right about things being cruel and harsh in this dimension, but they were worse in Cortoth. Maybe it seems worse here, because everything around me like the TV and ads tell me life should be so much better than it is. Maybe it’s the expectations that make it so bad here.’
Connor was interrupted in his thoughts to see Angel’s car pull up to the curb in front of him. He was so surprised it took him a few seconds to react. By the time he jumped up and ran, Angel was already out of the car and running after him. He only made it half a block before Angel caught him and tossed him over his shoulder. Connor thought about pounding Angel on the back to try and get him to drop him, but as he raised a fist he heard Angel say, “No fighting Connor.”
Connor held his fist up for a few seconds thinking about it. Then he remembered what happened yesterday afternoon in the vacant apartment, and let his arm drop and dangle with the other arm down Angel’s back. Once they were back to the car Angel put Connor down in front of him and said in a calm but stern voice, “Now you’re going to get in the car, and be good while we drive home.”
Connor looked around him for a place to run, or a weapon, but he didn’t see anything. He looked into the car and was truly surprised again to see Fred sitting in the back. She waved and then turned to the front and said, “Hey Gunn, why don’t you ride back here with me.”
Gunn got out of the passenger seat, and looked at Connor. Connor didn’t think Gunn looked very happy, and he could hear the lecture already. Gunn said, “Glad you’re okay kid” and he not so playfully smacked the back of Connor’s head as he got into the back seat with Fred.
Connor looked at Angel again, and Angel pointed to the passenger seat and said, “Get your ass in the car.”
Connor saw no way out of it, so he got in the car. As he was getting in Angel gave him a full force smack on his butt. Connor said, “Ahh!” as he fell into the seat.
Angel locked and closed the door and walked around to the driver’s side. Connor had tried the door the second it closed, but it wouldn’t open or unlock. Angel smiled at him and said, “Child proof locks.”
Connor decided not to say anything else. He looked out the window and pouted while he squirmed hoping his butt would stop stinging quickly.
They drove in silence for the next half an hour, and then Connor couldn’t
contain himself any more. He said in a demanding voice, “How did you find
Angel smiled and said, “I saw you on TV.”
“I don’t understand.”
Fred said, “Someone on the bridge had a camera, and gave the footage of you saving those people to the media.”
Connor groaned and thought ‘Well there’s a reason not to help others. But I don’t think I could have just walked by even if it does mean I got caught. There’s always tomorrow to run again.’
Angel said, “I would have found you anyway, it just might have taken longer. By the way you did a really good thing on that bridge, and I’m proud of you.”
Gunn said, “Me too Connor. You did the right thing.”
Fred added, “It was very impressive.”
Connor didn’t know what to say, but what came out was, “I guess.”
Connor thought, ‘When was the last time Gunn told me I did the RIGHT thing. Gunn’s always telling me I did the wrong thing. I don't care if Angel’s proud of me or not.’ But as he thought that he also was kind of smiling and feeling happy.
Soon they pulled up to a hospital. Connor said, “Why are we here?”
Angel said, “There’s someone here who wants to talk to you, and you are going to go with me and be nice.”
Connor rolled his eyes and waited for Angel to come around and unlock his door for him. Angel took him by the upper arm as soon as he got out of the car. Connor said, “I can walk by myself.” As he tried to pull out of Angel’s grip.
Angel said, “If you promise me you won’t try to run until we get back in the car I’ll let you walk by yourself.”
Connor thought about it. He didn’t take promises lightly. He said, “Okay I promise.”
Angel let go and said, “If you try to run now that you have promised me that you wouldn’t I’ll spank you here in front of everyone for lying.”
Connor looked offended and said, “I don’t break my promises….EVER.”
Angel looked at him and believed him. He said, “That’s good to know. Neither do I.”
Gunn and Fred waited in the car, and Connor followed Angel into the hospital. He asked the nurse for a room number, and he motioned for Connor to come with him. Connor went into a room with Angel and saw the woman he had pulled out of the car laying on a bed. A man sat beside her. As soon as the man saw Connor he jumped up and came towards him with his hand out. He said, “I’m so glad you came. My name is John.”
Connor shook the man’s hand and said, “Hi.”
John turned and shook hands with Angel while he said, “You must be Angel. Thank you so much for calling and bringing your son here to meet me. I can’t tell you what it means to me.”
Angel said, “No problem.”
John turned back to Connor and said, “I can’t tell you how grateful I am. You saved them all, and they are my life. Is there anything you want? Any way I can start to repay you?”
Connor was kind of embarrassed. He thought, ‘Why is this guy getting so worked up over me doing what anyone would have done? Well what anyone should have done anyway.’ All Connor said was, “No. It’s okay.”
John nodded like that was the answer he was expecting and said, “Well, I know it’s not much but I want you to have this.”
John pulled out some money out of his wallet and gave it to Connor. Connor just looked at it and said, “Um…” and looked at Angel.
Angel said, “It’s okay.”
Connor nodded and turned to John and said, “Okay. Thanks.”
John handed Connor a card and said, “Here is my number. If you ever need anything, you give me a call, and I’ll do what I can.”
The woman on the bed moaned and John went back over to her side and held her hand. Angel said, “We have to go now John. It was nice to meet you, and I hope your wife recovers quickly.”
John looked at Connor and said, “Thank you again.”
Connor nodded and followed Angel out the door.
Back in the car Gunn noticed Connor was still holding the money and said,
“How much did he give you?”
Connor looked down at the money in his hand and looked through it. He said, “Two hundred.”
As they headed back to the hotel Fred and Gunn chattered in the back about a kind of demon Connor had never heard of, but he couldn’t concentrate on the conversation because his thoughts were very sporadic. He couldn’t figure out why Angel had taken him to see John, and he couldn’t figure out why Angel went to so much trouble to find him each time he was gone.
By the time they got back to the hotel it was midnight. Angel pulled up and turned around to Fred and Gunn. He said, "Connor and I are going to go to his room for a few minutes, but then after that Connor will spend his hour with each of you before we go to bed if that is alright with you.”
Fred nodded and Gunn said, “Sounds good.”
Connor didn’t like where this was going, but he was locked in the car with no where to go. Angel came around and unlocked Connor’s door. He pulled Connor out and kept a grip on Connor’s upper arm as he said, “Come on Connor. We need to go talk about running away again.”
Connor started to struggle and dug his heels in so Angle had to literally drag him towards the door. Angel decided that wasn’t the best way to do it, so he picked Connor up and tossed him over his shoulder again. Connor kept wiggling, but Angel was pleasantly surprised when Connor didn’t try to bite or hit his back. Angel carried him all the way to his room and dumped him on his bed. Connor scrambled to the other side of the bed and stood up. Angel crossed his arms and said, “Let’s get it over with.”
Connor shook his head and said, “Let’s not.”
Angel actually laughed a little at that and said, “I told you if you ran off again I would spank you and then make you stay up to do all the things you were supposed to do during the day when we were all wasting our time looking for you.”
Connor didn’t say anything but looked towards the window.
Angel took advantage of Connor looking away and grabbed his upper arm again. Connor tried to pull away, but he couldn’t. Angel walked to Connor’s desk and pulled out the chair and turned it around. He sat down and undid Connor’s jeans while Connor continued to try and pull away. Angel pulled him over his lap and started spanking hard and fast. Connor was really pissed at how easily Angel could manhandle him. He grunted at the first couple of swats, and to his amazement after a few more swats he started to yelp with every swat. He thought ‘Why am I making that noise? Last time I didn’t.’
Angel was also surprised to hear Connor reacting a little more vocally to the spanking. He wondered if Connor was a little less angry with him, and had let his other emotions surface. Angel continued spanking and said, “You will not run away Connor. It wastes everybody’s time, and it doesn’t do you any good. What the hell were you planning to do if I didn’t come to get you? You have no paperwork to get hired for a job, and you can only live out of garbage cans for so long. It would really make me happy if you would just stay with us, and let us help you.”
Connor had started to cry so Angel gave him a couple more swats and stopped. He pulled up Connor’s underwear and pants and helped him to stand up. He stood and pulled Connor into a hug. Connor didn’t struggle at all. He didn’t hug Angel back, but Angel thought it was a big improvement.
After a couple of minutes he stepped back and held Connor at arms length. He said, “Okay you go do your hour with Fred and then your hour with Gunn. Then we’ll get you something to eat. After that because everyone else will be going to bed, I will be staying up with you for four hours to begin your tutoring. Somewhere in there we can take a couple of half-hour breaks to relax and talk. Then since I don’t have the energy to look for you tomorrow, I will be staying in your room watching you sleep until Wesley gets here in the morning.
Connor was pretty tired after running all day and then getting spanked, but he somehow knew that Angel wasn’t going to change his mind about this. He nodded and headed downstairs to find Fred.
Downstairs Gunn and Fred couldn’t help but hear what was going on upstairs.
Fred’s eyes got very round and she said to Gunn in a quiet voice, “It
sounds pretty bad.”
Gunn listened for a second and said, “Sounds normal to me.”
Fred felt kind of uncomfortable, and she felt really bad for Connor, but she understood the reason for it. She just hoped there wouldn’t be much of a repeat within her hearing. She tried to keep busy putting things away. Soon the sounds stopped, and she felt a little better.
Fred was looking at a book and heard someone clear his throat. She looked up to see a red eyed Connor looking at her. He looked down and said, “I’m supposed to spend my hour with you now.”
Fred put her book down, walked over and hugged Connor. He was surprised but found himself hugging her back. She broke off and cleared her throat to say, “Okay, lets go work on the third floor bathrooms.”
Connor followed her upstairs.
An hour later Connor found Gunn watching some TV and waiting for him. Gunn
turned off the TV and patted the couch next to him when he said, “Let’s
talk about running off.”
Connor sighed and said, “I know Gunn. You’ve given me the same lecture like twenty times.”
“Well maybe after twenty more it will stick in your head, and you’ll stop doing it.”
Connor sat carefully on the couch and listened to Gunn lecture him for about fifteen minutes. Then Gunn said, “Okay kid that’s enough of that for one night.”
Gunn got up and motioned for Connor to follow him. Connor was happy to stand. As they headed for the door Gunn put his arm around Connor’s shoulders and said, “You know Connor, I really am proud of you for what you did on the bridge.”
Connor smiled and said, “Thanks Gunn.”
“And now you get to help me change the oil in my truck.”
Conner lost the smile but nodded.
When they were done working on the truck, Gunn took him into the kitchen and
found Angel there. Angel was making a sandwich and some soup. Gunn said, “We’re
all done, so I’m turning him over to you, and I’m going to bed.
See you in the morning.”
Angel said, “Thanks Gunn.”
Angel handed the food to Connor who went to the table to eat. Once he was done, Angel took him to his office and they started the lessons. Connor usually didn’t mind learning new stuff, but he was really tired and had a hard time keeping his mind on the things Angel was saying. After an hour of trying to learn about division and practicing it with various numbers he was more than ready for a break. Angel took pity on him and said, Lets go downstairs and work with swords for a few minutes to wake you up.
After the break they started on Biology. Connor found this subject very strange. He didn’t see why anyone would care what a cell was made up of, or why it had any importance to what he would be doing in life. About half an hour into it he interrupted Angel with, “Why do I need to know this?”
Angel said, “I know it seems pointless, and you’ll probably never use a lot of the stuff we’ll all be teaching you, but if you want to fit into this society then it is just stuff you should know.”
“I don’t care if I fit into society. I already know I never will.”
“But I do care. And I think, someday you will be able to fit in. You’ll have to decide whether you want to fit in or not, but at least you’ll have the option.”
Connor said, “Whatever.”
Half an hour later Angel said, “Do you want another snack before we get started on religion?”
Connor said, “I’m really tired. Could I just go to bed?”
Angel looked at him and said with regret, “No son. I wish it hadn’t taken so long to find you, but you will stay up and finish this.”
Connor lost it and picked up the book in front of him and threw it at Angel’s face. Angel caught it and said, “Tantrums won’t help you get out of it. Lets go see if we can get you some sugar and caffeine. Then you may not want to go to sleep even when we’re done.”
Connor had cake and coffee before starting with the next subject. He thought ‘Well that did perk me up, and listening to Dad…..Oh shit. NOT Dad! Never Dad! The monster Angel. Much better. Listening to the monster Angel talk about Buddhism isn’t too bad.’
An hour later Angel said, “Okay last but not least let’s talk about money.”
Connor put his head in his arms on the desk and almost cried. He said, “Please no more.”
Then Connor and Angel both realized Connor had pretty much begged Angel to stop. This made Connor mad at himself for being weak. He sat up and said, “Okay lets talk money. How much do you pay Fred and Gunn for working for you?”
Angel was proud of Connor for sticking to it even if it was probably for the wrong reasons. They talked for an hour about various jobs. Angel explained what they each paid, and why some paid more than others did. By the end of the hour, Connor was a little more impressed with his two hundred dollars.
When it was all done Angel put an arm around Connor’s shoulders to lead him up to his room. Connor pretty much fell in the bed and fell asleep without thinking about much at all.
Angel sat and watched him as the sun came up, and soon Wesley came to relieve him.