Connor – What should have happened #4

Wesley let Connor sleep until noon. He had been warned that Connor woke up fairly abruptly and ready to fight, so he stood on the other side of the room and said, “Connor.”
That didn’t work, so Wesley put his hand on Connor’s foot, and shook it while saying, “Connor, it’s time to get up.”
Connor sat up quickly and got his bearings. He looked at Wesley, and outside to the sun. He said, “I’m still tired.”
Wesley said, “Too bad. Six hours is good enough. Get up.”
Connor thought about going and trying to get out the window, but he didn’t want to get in a fight and end up hurting Wesley if he tried to stop him. He nodded and said, “Okay. Can I take a shower?”
Wesley said, “Sure with the door open so I can make sure you don’t climb out the window.”
Connor was too tired to argue and took a long hot shower. He felt better when he was done and said, “What now?”
“Breakfast and Biology.”
“Wonderful” Connor said in a sarcastic tone.

A few hours later Connor was done with Biology and Math. He thought it was nicer to have Fred and Wesley tutoring him than it was to have Angel the whole time. He and Fred were about to go find Gunn when Angel came out of his room for the first time that day. Angel smiled at Connor and said, “Good morning. I’m glad you’re still here.”
Connor shrugged and thought ‘Not like I had much choice. I haven’t been alone all day.’
Angel said, “So what have you done so far today?”
“Biology and Math. We were going to find Gunn next.”
Gunn walked in as Connor was talking and said, “Hey Connor, my turn I take it.”
Connor nodded. Gunn said, “Angel can I talk to you for a minute before I start with Connor?”
Fred waited with Connor while Angel motioned for Gunn to follow him and said, “Sure come on in the office.”
Once the door was closed Gunn said, “I don’t know how you feel about it, but I was thinking about taking him to the store today. It’s my turn to do the grocery shopping, and I thought if it took a couple of hours it could count as both his lesson and his hour with me. He could learn quite a bit about how much food costs.”
Angel said, “Sounds good if he doesn’t take the opportunity to run off. Let’s bring him in, and we’ll talk to him first.”
Connor came in, and Angel explained what Gunn wanted to do. Then he said, “If you can promise me you won’t run while your shopping then you can go.”
Connor crossed his arms and said with defiance, “No.”
Gunn said, “You could pick out some junk food that you liked.”
Connor shook his head.
Angel sighed and said, “Sorry Gunn. If you want, I’ll do your hour of finances with him while you get the shopping done, and then since he’s being unreasonable you can have him for two hours tonight instead of one.”
Gunn said, “I can shop later if you have stuff you need to get done.”
“I don’t have anything pressing, you go ahead.”
Once Gunn was out of the office Angel said, “You know Connor, you can be as unpleasant to us as you want, and it will only get you more work, and less free time.”
“Free time. That’s really funny Dad.” Dad, as always, was said with a sneer and in a sarcastic tone of voice.
“Okay, let’s get started then.”

After an hour of going through the hotel’s bills and finding out what each bill was for, and how much it cost, Connor noticed the time and said, “It’s been an hour.”
Angel said, “I’m still not too happy with you, so I think we’ll do another hour of this.”
“But….you….you didn’t tell me that before Gunn left, and I still have to do another hour with him!”
“Too bad.”
“I hate you.”
“I know, and I love you anyway.”
Connor glared but remained silent, so Angel started explaining more about the bills.
Half an hour later Fred knocked on the door and said, “Charles is back, and he brought pizza home for lunch.”
Connor smiled and started to stand up when Angel said, “Put some in the fridge for Connor, and he’ll be out to have some in half an hour or so.”
Fred nodded and closed the door. Connor glared and said, “You’re more like Father than I thought.”
“What do you mean by that?”
“I thought we went over no lying Connor.”
Connor sighed and said, “When Father was displeased with something I did, sometimes he wouldn’t let me eat.”
Angel knew Holtz hated him, but he didn’t know if Holtz had turned that hatred towards Connor, or if he had tried to be a good father to him. He knew Connor was very loyal to Holtz, so he thought Holtz must have been a somewhat decent parent. He was curious and said, “What do you mean exactly by he wouldn’t let you eat. Give me an example.”
Connor looked defiant again and said, “No.”
Angel said, “I won’t force you to tell me things about your past, but I think it would help us to get to know each other. And to make it worth your time, each time you tell me a story from your past, I’ll tell you one from my past. Eventually I want you to know everything about me as a human, as Angelus, and as Angel. Even if the stories are unpleasant and make you dislike me even more, I still want you to know about them.”
Connor considered this and said, “If I tell you what you want to know, will you tell me about the first time you met Father?”
Angel sighed and said, “Yes.”
Connor looked away refusing to make eye contact and got quite red while he told his story. “One time when I was about ten Father told me to wait in the cave we were living in while he went to go check our traps. I usually went with him, but he wanted me to memorize the verse he had written in the dirt by the time he got back. I was angry that he didn’t take me with him, so I followed him to check the traps. I watched him from a distance, and when he was done I raced home and beat him there. I didn’t think he would know but he did.”
Angel waited for him to continue, and wondered why Connor was so embarrassed about it. It sounded like a normal thing for a kid to do to him. After a few seconds he said quietly, “What happened next?”
Connor looked down and crossed his arms tightly across his chest and mumbled, “Father said I was an ungrateful son. He went over all the sacrifices he had made for me, and explained that the least I owed him was respect and obedience. We spent the rest of the day and night praying for God to forgive me and for Him to help me fight the monster that is a part of me. Then Father told me that for the next two days I was only to have water so that the monster in me would be weakened and I would have a better chance of fighting it.”
Angel was appalled and shouted, “That is unforgivable!”
Connor looked almost scared and said, “I’m sorry. I know I’m weak. I don’t know why it’s so hard for me to fight the monster. Father was very patient with me.”
Angel looked kind of sick and said, “Connor, what Holtz did was unforgivable, not what you did.”
Connor looked up and shook his head. “No you’re wrong. Father helped me to be good.”
Angel was silent for a few minutes trying to collect his thoughts and tone down his anger. He finally said, “I will never make you miss even one meal. All I said about the pizza was that you had to wait until we were done here. Holtz WAS wrong to make you go without food, especially when you were ten. I think after lunch we’ll go into some of the atrocities done in the name of religion over earth’s history, and maybe you will be able to start to understand why I’m upset.”
Connor shrugged and said, “Your turn.”
Angel had to take a few more seconds to calm down before he said, “The first time I met Holtz I was in a bar with Darla, your mother. We had just arrived at the village earlier that evening, and we wanted to stay there for a couple of nights. We were drinking some ale and listening to the town gossip trying to learn of the best place to find someone to eat without getting caught. We saw Holtz come in with some of his men. He looked around the bar, and said something about drinking and God, but we were ignoring him. Then he spotted a girl in the back sitting by herself. He had his men go get her and drag her out of the bar room calling her a monster and an abomination on God. Darla and I thought it would be fun to watch a beating, so we followed. As soon as we were outside Holtz pulled out some holy water and dumped it on the girl. She of course was a vampire, and changed face as soon as the water hit her. She was screaming in pain as he drove a stake through her heart and killed her. Darla and I had never seen someone pick a vampire out of a crowed room of people like that just to kill them. It made us really mad, and worried us too. We decided to get to know him better, and eventually to make him pay for what he was doing. We didn’t make contact that night, but we started to follow him and learn about him right after that.”
Connor smiled and said, “Father was doing good in the world. Killing the vampires just like you do now.”
Angel said, “Yes back then he was doing good, and I was Angelus. And as Angelus I helped turn him into the man he became.”
They were both silent with there own thoughts for a few minutes. Then Angel looked at the clock and said, “Let’s finish this lesson up so we can go have lunch.”
Connor had kind of hoped Angel would have forgotten about that, but tried to concentrate on the bills again anyway.

As Connor was eating pizza and Angel was drinking blood, Wesley came in and said, “We got a call. There’s some kind of demon in the sewers eating anything it can find including humans. From the description the woman gave me, I think it is most likely a Shreelo demon, but we won’t know until we see it. If it is a Shreelo, then we will need to decapitate it to kill it. The woman said it ate her two friends before she could get away. If it’s eating that much at once, it probably has some young it’s feeding.”
Angel gulped down the rest of his lunch, and Connor took his pizza with him as they headed towards the sewer. Fred and Gunn were at the sewer entrance waiting for them with weapons. Angel took the lead and half an hour later they found the demon. It appeared to be sleeping. It was two times bigger than Angel was, and it had five arms and three legs. Wesley whispered, “It’s a Shreelo.”
Angel whispered, “I’ll try to sneak up and decapitate it. If it wakes up before I can get to it, You four try to distract it so I can get a clear shot at it’s head.”
Angel turned to start sneaking up on the demon, while the others got their weapons ready. When Angel was two feet from the creature it woke up and batted Angel away. Angel hit the wall of the sewer and fell to the floor. As he was getting up, so was the Shreelo demon. Fred started shooting her arrows and Wesley shot his guns. Gunn and Connor started to advance on the demon with their swords, and Angel did the same.
After fifteen minutes of fighting, the Shreelo demon was dead, and everyone was tired, sweaty, and a little beat up. Wesley said, “It will have anywhere between two and six young hiding somewhere close. They will still be in the larval form. To kill them you have to gut them and take out the heart. The heart is a blue color. They have poison in their teeth, so if they bite you, you will go numb quickly and soon you will be paralyzed. You will still be conscious while you’re paralyzed, but thankfully you won’t feel anything. The paralysis will only last about an hour, but by that time the larvae will have eaten you if no one’s around to help you.”
Angel nodded and said, “Okay guys, Connor and I will go this way, and the three of you go that way. We’ll meet back here in half an hour to see if any of us found them.”
Connor and Angel soon found the larvae. There were five of them, and they were awake. They were each about as long as Angel’s leg, but much fatter. As soon Angel and Connor saw the larvae, the larvae smelled them, and started to slither towards them. Angel said, “I’ll go try to gut them all. You stay back in case I get bit. If I get bit, you drag me away to meet up with the others. Then you can all come back to finish them off.”
Connor said, “Why don’t we both go gut them. We’ll have a better chance of getting them all that way.”
Angel said, “No, because if we both get bit we won’t be able to get away.”
The larvae were getting closer, but they couldn’t move very fast. Angel went in and started to gut them. He gutted three of them and got two of the hearts out before one of them bit his leg. He went numb pretty quickly and was able to get the heart out of the third before he couldn’t move any more. Connor came over and gutted one of the larvae while the second took a bite out of Angel’s leg. Connor gutted the second to distract it from Angel. Angel watched in horror but couldn’t move as Connor almost got bit on the arm. Angel thought, ‘Get us out of here Connor, don’t fight them by yourself.’ Connor turned and sliced it in half to find the heart. He got the heart out, as the second larva bit his pants. He could feel the teeth touching his leg, but they didn’t break the skin. He turned and cut that one in half and got the heart out. As soon as all five were dead, Connor turned to Angel. He said, “Can you move?”
Angel thought, ‘No.’
Connor took Angel’s hand and pulled him away from the dead larvae, and propped him up into a sitting position against the sewer wall. Connor carefully put his sword against Angel’s neck. He raised it high and tried to make himself bring it down to decapitate Angel for a full five minutes, but he couldn’t. Conner dropped the sword and squatted down in front of Angel to say, “Father wanted me to kill you. If I had killed you when I first met you Father wouldn’t have had Justine kill him. That was Father’s biggest sacrifice. He sacrificed his life to help me realize the monster in me is still partly controlling me. I came to this dimension to kill you, and I still haven’t done it because the monster in me wants to get to know you. It feels a connection with you. I want to do the right thing and kill you, but I can’t seem to do it. When I see the good you are doing to help other people it confuses me, and I don’t understand why you do it. Even now you are helpless, and I can’t bring myself to kill you like I know I should. That’s why I hate you.”
With that Connor got up and started running away from Angel and the others. There was so much Angel wanted to say, but all he could do was sit there in silence.

Half an hour later Gunn, Wesley, and Fred found Angel. Fred knelt down and said, “Angel can you move.”
Wesley said, “He was bitten. See his leg.”
Gunn yelled, “Connor! Connor where are you?”
They searched the immediate area, and after about five minutes Gunn said, “The little shit ran again. How could he just leave Angel there like that?”
Fred said, “Now Charles, we don’t know what happened.”
Wesley said, “Come on Gunn, help me get Angel up over my shoulder, and then when we’re half way back, you can carry him.”
By the time they got home Angel could start to feel his chest and abdomen, but he still couldn’t move or talk. They lay him down on his bed and Wesley said, “I’ll have to go make an ointment for the bites, or they will become very infected.”
Fred nodded and said, “I’ll stay with him.”

Connor had run to the first sewer exit he could find. He knew Angel would be out of commission for a while, but he still felt better in the daylight. He thought about where he should go, and what he should do. He thought, ‘Angel’s right that I don’t have any paperwork to get a job, but I’m sure I can find someone who won’t ask for paperwork. I still have the two hundred dollars that John gave me. I wonder how far that would get me on a bus.’
As he started walking he bent down and retied his shoe and scratched his leg. By the time he was half way to the bus station, he had to scratch his leg every couple of minutes. It took him three times longer than it normally would have to get to the bus station, because his leg was itching more and more, and eventually it started to hurt. Once he was at the bus station he went into the bathroom to check out his leg. As he pulled his pant leg up he thought, ‘Crap that doesn’t look good at all. I don’t get it. The larva didn’t break the skin, why is it all red and swollen?’
He washed his leg thoroughly in the sink with soap and hot water, and went out to buy a ticket. He found out that he could get across a couple of states for one hundred dollars. He decided that would be far enough away, and that he should save the rest of his money for food until he found a job. He looked through the bus schedules, and found that there was a bus going north leaving in about half an hour. He thought, ‘Well I wanted to go east this time, but maybe going north will be better. They probably won’t think I’ll go the same way twice.’
He bought his ticket north, and went to sit on the bench and wait for the bus. As he sat there he couldn’t stop himself from scratching his leg. He knew it would probably just make it worse, but he didn’t have the will power to stop himself. As he was scratching himself he felt the skin break open in a small scratch. He raced to the bathroom thinking ‘Not good, not good, not good. As he made it to the bathroom and pulled up his pants leg he could feel his foot going numb. He quickly got himself into the only stall with a door, shut it, and locked it. He propped himself up on the toilet, and hoped he wouldn’t fall over if he became completely paralyzed. He sat there feeling more and more numb and five minutes later he was paralyzed. He kept thinking ‘I’m gonna miss my ride. I wasted all that money. I hope no one tries to get in here. I’m gonna miss my stupid ride.’

Back at the hotel Angel was finally up and moving. Wesley had put the ointment on the bites, and had bandaged them up to keep the ointment in place. The bite wounds were starting to look better already, and the swelling was down. As soon as he could talk he had explained what Connor said to him before he ran off. He also told them the story Connor had told him in the office. Fred, Gunn, and Wesley were all appalled along with Angel at what Holtz had done, and how he had twisted Connor’s sense of himself.
Once Angel could walk he said, “I have to go start tracking him. It will be dark in an hour, and I’ll have to start in the sewers, so I’m gonna leave now. He has some money now, so if you guys could think about what he might do, and then check it out that would be great. If you find out anything, I have my cell phone.”
Angel ran to the spot he had last seen Connor, and was disappointed to find out that Connor had left the sewer so quickly. He would have to wait another half an hour before he could go up to the streets.
Fred, Gunn, and Wesley were all brainstorming and trying to think of where Connor might have gone. They started making phone calls to those places to ask if anyone had seen a person matching Connor’s description.
Just as Angel was able to go into the street, his cell phone rang. It was Fred. She said, “Someone matching Connor’s description was seen at the bus station an hour ago buying a ticket.”
“I’m on my way. Have Gunn meet me there with the truck.”
Angel set out at a dead run, and made it to the bus station before Gunn. He went in and looked around. He went to the counter and asked each of the people working if they had seen someone matching Connor’s description. No one was helpful. He went to look in the bathroom and saw Connor’s shoes under the stall door. Angel knocked and said, “Connor?”
Connor had been panicking wondering how long the paralysis was going to last. He couldn’t see a clock, but it seemed like it had been hours, and he knew he had missed his bus. When Angel knocked on the door and called his name a wave of adrenaline shot through Connor’s body, but he still couldn’t move. He thought, ‘No, no, no. Why him? I think I’m cursed.’
Angel went to the next stall and stood on the toilet so he could look down on Connor. He saw him sitting fully clothed and not moving. He said, “Connor can you move?”
Getting no response, he quickly jumped over the stall wall and unlocked Connor’s stall door. He looked at Connor’s arms for a bite mark, and then the legs. When he saw it he said, “That looks pretty bad. Wesley will have an ointment for it when we get home that should clear it up. You should be fine in half an hour or so.”
Angel looked in Connor’s eyes and said, “Thanks for not killing me. I know it’s what Holtz wanted you to do, but it is the human in you that stops you from killing me not the monster. I don’t believe there is a monster in you at all. I think that’s just something Holtz made up to keep you under control. A monster wouldn’t have helped those people on the bridge. A monster wouldn’t have cared if he hurt Fred, Gunn, or Wesley trying to get away from me. A monster wouldn’t have saved me from the last two larvae and put himself at risk doing it.”
Angel paused and said, “Okay I’m going to carry you out of here. Gunn should be here with the truck any minute. We’re gonna take you home and have Wes look at your leg. Then when you’re feeling better, you and I will have yet another ‘talk’ about running away, and doing what you’re told to do in a fight. I still can’t believe you fought those two larvae instead of dragging me out of there to go find the others. What if they had bitten you before you killed them. Then we would both be dead. I’m really disappointed in the choices you made today.”
Then Angel picked up Connor and tossed him over his shoulder. He laughed and said, “Hey Connor look, it’s your going home position.”
Angel continued to laugh at his own bad joke while Connor thought, ‘Oh, brother.’ Angel had given him a lot to think about, and lucky for Angel, Connor didn’t have anything else to do but think.

An hour later Connor was feeling better and was able to move again. The swelling in his leg had immediately gone down with the ointment. Everyone was in Connor’s room making sure he was okay.
Angel let Connor stand up and walk around for a little bit to make sure his leg was working. He said, “Do you feel okay now?”
Connor nodded and said, “Yes.”
Wesley asked, “Anything hurt besides your leg?”
“It doesn’t even feel bad now. I feel fine. I don’t understand why it got so swollen when the larva didn’t even brake the skin.”
Wesley said, “Their saliva slowly soaks through your skin whether the skin is broken or not.”
Wesley turned to Angel and said, “I’m going home now if you don’t need anything else. Would you like me to come back in the morning to relieve you from guard duty again?”
Angel nodded and said, “That would be great Wes.”
Connor rolled his eyes. After Wesley left Angel turned to Fred and Gunn and said, “Connor and I need to talk alone for a few minutes, and then he can spend his two hours with Gunn before dinner, and an hour with Fred after dinner.”
They both nodded and left the room. Connor started to feel very nervous. He knew what was going to happen, and he found that he really wanted to avoid it. He thought, ‘I do feel a little bad about leaving Angel in the sewer while he was paralyzed, but I don’t feel bad about running away or fighting the larvae after Angel told me not to. I knew I could kill them without getting hurt. Well, without getting killed anyway.’
Angel pulled Connor’s desk chair into the middle of his room and sat down. He looked at Connor and said, “I guess if you feel all better, it’s time to talk about running away.”
Connor looked around the room to the window. He looked at Angel sitting, and thought he could make it. He jumped towards the window and made it to the windowsill before he felt Angel’s hand grabbing his shirt. He struggled to get away, and succeeded in ripping his shirt. Angel grabbed his wrist and hauled him back to the chair. Very quickly Connor found himself over Angel’s lap with his pants and underwear down around his knees. He yelled, “Noooo!”
Angel said, “Yes.” And started spanking him.
Once Connor had started to grunt and yelp with each swat Angel said, “You will stop trying to run away Connor, or you will be in this position pretty often. This is the fourth time I’ve spanked you in four days. Not a very good track record little boy.”
Connor just kept yelping, and Angel kept spanking. Once Connor started to cry, Angel paused and rubbed Connor’s back. Then he said, “Okay Connor that one’s done. Now we need to take care of not doing what you’re told to do in a fight. I am very unhappy with your decision to fight the larvae by yourself. I told you the plan was to stop fighting and drag me away to meet up with the others.”
Connor had stopped crying, but was very anxious to still be over Angel’s lap. Angel said, “I’m sorry to have to do this Connor, but I’m going to give you twenty spanks with my belt.”
Connor started to struggle even more when he heard Angel unbuckling his belt. It brought back flashes of Holtz whipping him even though he wasn’t tied down and naked.
Angel continued with, “If we are fighting and you don’t follow orders, I will always spank you. If however you do something foolish to endanger your life like you did today, it will be a harsher spanking like this.”
To Angel’s amazement Connor started to visibly shake all over and he even started to say quietly over and over, “I’m sorry Father.”
Angel wasn’t sure what to do. Connor was obviously lost in his own memories somewhere. Angel decided to go on with his plan and see what happened after the first couple of swats. He brought the belt down across Connor’s butt and saw a red line appear. Connor showed no sign that he had even felt it, and continued saying, “I’m sorry Father.”
After five more swats Connor had stopped repeating the line, and when Angel got to ten Connor asked, “Father?”
Angel paused and said, “No son, it’s Angel or Dad if you like.”
Connor shook his head a little and said, “A..Angel? You aren’t whipping me?”
Angel hated Holtz with a passion and wished he were there so he could rip his heart out and show it to him as he died. He said, “Not in the way you think. Ten more to go. Let’s finish.”
This time when Angel brought the belt down Connor started yelping again, and soon he was crying again. When Angel was done Connor just lay across his lap crying. Angel tossed his belt on the bed and pulled Connor’s underwear and pants up. Connor didn’t struggle or help as Angel turned him around so he was sitting in Angel’s lap. Angel hugged him close and rocked him back and forth a little. Connor let his arm’s dangle, but he didn’t struggle with Angel as he whispered, “I’m sorry I left you there unprotected. It was wrong.”
Angel said, “I forgive you Connor. I forgive you for all of it, but I want to make sure you understand that I spanked you for running away from us, for not following my instructions, and for putting yourself in danger. I did not spank you because you left me unprotected. It wasn’t very nice of you, but being nice to me isn’t one of the rules I told you to follow. Can you understand that?”
Connor nodded even though he wasn’t sure if he did understand. He thought, ‘Why is Angel holding me after he spanked me? Father would have left me tied up for a couple of hours. Why didn’t he whip me? What’s the point of using a belt on someone if you don’t want to make the person bleed? Why is he still holding me? Why would he forgive me so soon if I did something to make him mad?’
Angel was stuck with thoughts of hating Holtz, and soon he had to ask, “Why did Holtz whip you Connor?”
He felt Connor tense up in his lap, and let him go when Connor pushed away. Connor stood and started to pace. He said, “Because I was bad.”
Angel said, “Give me some examples.”
“Sometimes it was because I didn’t learn my verses. If I lost in a fight and he had to help, or if I let something trail me back home to the cave he would whip me.”
Angel didn’t think he wanted to know, but couldn’t stop himself from asking, “Will you tell me about one so that I have a clear understanding of what you mean by a whipping?”
Connor was starting to feel a little more normal now that Angel wasn’t holding him, and he said, “What story are you gonna tell me in exchange?”
Angel thought about it and said, “I’ll tell you about my father whipping me, but I’m betting that a whipping doesn’t mean the same thing to you that it means to me.”
Connor stopped pacing and stared at Angel. He had trouble thinking about Angel being a boy. He turned away and slowly said, “Okay. One time when I was about twelve Father and I were checking our traps when a Klin started to attack us. A Klin is kind of like a bear with no fur. I started to fight but I wasn’t quick enough and the Klin clawed my arm before I could kill it, so Father had to help me. We went back to the cave, and after I stripped he tied me to the wall. We had made a structure with logs and animal skins for when he had to whip me, because the first time he whipped me I was too weak to keep still. He usually just whipped my back, but if I had led something back to our cave he would continue all the way down my butt and legs. This time he just whipped my back. He always used his belt, and he always kept whipping me until I started to bleed. When he was done he would wash my back with a special blend of water and herbs to make sure it wouldn’t get infected. Then he would leave me tied up until he saw my back start to heal. He always told me it was a sure sign that the monster was still in me when I would heal in a couple of days…….Why did you use your belt if you didn’t want to make me bleed?”
Connor turned back to Angel and saw that he had tears running down his face. Connor didn’t understand this at all. He said, “Is your leg hurting again? Do you want me to get Fred?”
Angel shook his head no and said, “Connor, I…..I’m so sorry I wasn’t able to get you out of Quor-Toth, and away from Holtz. I did everything I could to get you back.”
Connor just stood there confused while Angel walked into the bathroom to wash his face and try to calm down. When he came back he was more in control and walked to Connor and hugged him again. Connor didn’t struggle or hug Angel back. Angel hugged Connor so tight that Connor kind of thought it hurt and Angel said, “I will never whip you Connor. I will never make you bleed as punishment. No one who loved you would. I used my belt on you because I wanted to make you realize that I think hurting yourself or putting yourself in danger is worse than running off, or not obeying me.”
Connor wasn’t sure what to say, but Angel was still hugging him too hard so he said, “Okay. Now it’s your turn.”
Angel let go and started to pace while Connor lay down on his stomach on the bed. Angel said, “My father was a good man, but when I became a teenager we didn’t get along. He wanted me to become like him, and I wanted to go my own way. One day when I was fifteen, he told me to clean out the barn. I didn’t feel like it, so I went to the lake and went fishing for the day. I knew he would whip me when I came home, and I didn’t care. When I got home, I gave my mother the fish I had caught, and my father took me out to the barn. He took off his belt, pulled my britches down, and sat down on a bale of hay while he pulled me over his lap. He whipped my butt until it was bruised all over. Then he pushed me off his lap and onto the floor, where I lay and cried. While I was lying on the floor, he yelled at me to clean the barn. He told me if I wasn’t done cleaning the barn by the time dinner was over, that I would have to go without. Cleaning a barn is not a fast job, and it took me most of the night. I missed dinner, but my mother put out some bread and cheese for me after my father had gone to bed. In retrospect I can see that I deserved what I got, but at the time I hated him. At fifteen I thought I was a man, and that he had no right to dictate my life to me. He also thought that at fifteen I should be a man, but to him that meant I should be taking my family responsibilities very seriously. My father would have never whipped me until I bled. In fact that was probably the worst whipping I ever got. There was one boy I knew in school who sometimes had cuts from his father’s buggy whip, but everyone knew there was something wrong with that even back then.”
Connor didn’t think it sounded like much of a whipping for what Angel had done. He thought, ‘I think Father would have whipped me repeatedly and made me fast and pray for days if I had done that. I never even thought of not doing something that Father told me to do. I was too afraid of what he would do to me…..I was afraid of him. Angel wasn’t afraid of what his father would do to him, because he knew what it would be. I was afraid of him. I was afraid of Fa…I was afraid of Holtz.’
Angel put his belt back on while Connor was thinking. Then he smiled and laughed a little when he said, “I guess that story says more about what a little creep I was then anything else. Enough of this! I don’t know about you, but I’m worn out. Let’s go find Gunn and see what fun things he has thought of for you to do tonight.”
Connor rolled his eyes, but got up and let Angel put his arm around his shoulders as he walked downstairs.

After Gunn’s half hour lecture about running away and not getting help when you’re hurt, Connor had lots of time to think over the things that had happened between him and Angel while he was cleaning all the weapons they had used to kill the Shreelo demon and it’s larvae. He wasn’t surprised at all when Gunn made him clean them all again after he had finished the first time. When he was done the second time Gunn said, “We still have half an hour left. You want to come watch some baseball with me?”
Connor looked confused and said, “But that would be fun.”
Gunn smiled and put an arm around Connor’s shoulder as they started walking towards the lobby’s round couch. He said, “I think we’ve both had a hard day, and we could use a break.”
Connor smiled a really big smile and said, “Okay. Thanks Gunn.”

After dinner Fred made Connor clean the bathrooms on the fourth floor. Fred wasn’t sure what she was going to have Connor do when they ran out of floors.
When his hour with Fred was up, Connor and Angel spent an hour talking about the Salem witch trials, and how people had twisted religion and used it to kill innocent people. Connor asked, “What if they were really witches?” Angel laughed and said, “Those people would have run screaming from a real witch. I’ll tell you a story about Willow, and then maybe you’ll understand.”
Once they were done, Angel said, “I don’t know about you Connor, but I’m kind of tired. I think going to bed early sounds good. Are you tired?”
Connor nodded.
Angel said, “If you promise to stay in your room until Wesley gets there in the morning I’ll let you stay by yourself.”
Connor thought about it for a few minutes. Then he looked up and said, “Okay, I promise to stay in my room until Wesley comes to my room in the morning.”
Angel gave Conner a big smile and pulled him into a hug and said, “That’s very good of you son. I could really use the sleep.”
They walked out of the office and started towards their respective rooms. Angel called a, “Good night.” to Connor as he was walking up the stairs, and Connor yelled a, “Night Angel.” back to him.