Author's note: This chapter has specific spoilers for the episode 'Long Days Journey into Night'. Written August 2005.
Disclaimer: I do not own any of these characters, and I am not making any money from these stories.
Warning: Non consensual disciplinary spanking of an adult by a parent.
How it Should Have Been Chapter 9
The whole team had been trying to find information about the little girl who used to live in the white room of Wolfram and Hart for most of the evening with no success. Connor had had a long day of confronting the Beast, killing zombies, getting spanked, and confessing all the secrets of his life to his girlfriend, and by 2am he had nodded off into his book twice. Angel finally told him to go to bed, and he didn't argue. By 3am everyone was tired of research. Angel finally closed his book a little louder then necessary and said, "Let's call it a night, and we can get started on it again in the morning."
They all nodded and as Wesley headed for the door Angel said, "You can sleep here if you want Wes."
Wesley shook his head and said, "I want to look in one of my books at home. I'll bring it with me in the morning."
Angel nodded and everyone headed to bed.
The next morning everyone slept in. Fred was the first to wake up, and she went to start some coffee. As she was making it, Wesley came in. She smiled at him and said, "You're here earlier then usual."
Wesley held up a book to her and said, "I've found a reference to the girl in Rhinehardt's Compendium."
Fred practically grabbed the book as he tried handing it to her opened to the page with the reference. Fred read it and smiled at Wesley. She said, "This is great. Now we know where to look. Good job."
Wesley smiled and looked back at the book as he said, "I believe we may find more about her in the Sinth volumes."
Fred nodded and started walking towards the office that housed those books, and left the coffeepot sitting on the counter with water still in it.
Half an hour later Gunn woke up to an empty bed. He sighed as he looked at the time and realized he had slept in. He took a quick shower and got dressed. He went downstairs and looked for Fred in the kitchen. He found the coffeepot, and poured the water into the coffee maker and turned it on. Then he went to find Fred. He found her sitting next to Wesley deep in research mode. Gunn felt the usual flash of jealousy seeing the two of them working together so closely, and immediately noticed that Fred was still in her pajamas and bathrobe. He hadn't been noticed, so he said with false cheer, "Morning."
Fred barley looked up as she said, "Morning Charles. Could you bring me a cup of coffee?"
Gunn glared at the two bent heads, and turned to go back to the kitchen. He stood and waited for the coffee to get done, and poured a cup for himself and one for Fred. He thought about getting one for Wesley too, but he didn't. He took the coffee in, and Fred said, "Thanks."
The room grew silent again and Gunn said, "Did you guys find something on evil red riding hood?"
Wesley broke away from his reading long enough to say, "Yes, we should know more in about
He looked to Fred and she looked to him. They both looked back at Gunn and said, "An hour." in unison.
Gunn didn't hide his look of annoyance, but no one saw it, because Fred and Wesley were back into their books. Gunn had to work hard on not sweeping the books onto the floor before leaving the room. He went out to the lobby and found the daily paper to get his mind off them.
Half an hour later Connor got up, and a few minutes after that Angel was up too. Gunn informed them that Wesley and Fred had found something, and that they should have some information for them in half an hour or so. Connor, after eating two slices of leftover pizza, and a bowl of cereal, said, "More research today?"
Angel sipped his blood and said, "Let's wait and see what Fred and Wes come up with."
Angel nodded to Gunn and said, "Why don't you start doing some tutoring for now."
Connor groaned but said, "All right."
Gunn handed him part of the paper and said, "Start with this for now."
As he said that, Lorne came in and said with genuine cheer, "Morning kids."
After a few mumbled mornings, Angel went to his office to check the answering machine for any messages that might have come in during the night.
A couple of minutes before the allotted hour, Fred and Wesley came out of the room holding some books. Everyone gathered around them, and Wesley started in on the explanation. "The girl at Wolfram and Hart apparently had another function as well. Her name was Masektet, and she was one of a group of five entities that together formed an order called the Ra-tet. They are enormously powerful beings which are linked to the ancient God Ra."
Fred broke in with; "They're kind of like totems or symbolic manifestations of Ra."
Wesley nodded. Gunn said, "What did the Beast want her dead for?"
Wesley said, "Well with her gone, Wolfram and Hart has lost their connection to the senior partners."
Fred said, "And he sucked some kind of power from her. We don't know yet what that will enable him to do."
Angel said, "So what do we need to do to find out?"
Fred pulled a paper out of her stack and said, "One of the other five totems supposedly lives here in town. She's a well known and powerful shaman and magic woman named Ma'at."
Lorne nodded, "I've heard of her before. Some of my old clients at the bar talked about her. But from what I know of her, she's one of the good guys."
Gunn said, "Maybe it's not the same person."
Wesley shook his head. "No, it makes sense. If they are all manifestations of Ra, it is perfectly conceivable that they could all be very different sides of the same god. One could be basically evil while another could be good and kind."
Fred said, "The three others who make up the five are Ashet, Manjet, and Semkhet. We are trying to find out their locations right now in case we don't get any information from Ma'at."
Angel nodded and said, "Good work guys. Lorne, why don't you go see if you can get an appointment with Ma'at and see what information you can get from her. Wesley and Fred, you keep looking and see what you can find out about the other three totems. Gunn, would you mind tutoring Connor for a couple of extra hours today?"
Gunn nodded and said, "That's fine."
Connor said, "I think our time would be better spent helping with the research."
Angel shook his head no and said, "Maybe later today when we see what Lorne can find. For now do some schoolwork."
Connor rolled his eyes and clearly showed his disapproval but didn't say anything. Gunn went over to Fred and whispered in her ear. She looked down at her bathrobe and gave an embarrassed look to the other people in the room as she said, "I'm just gonna go
.freshen up. I'll be down in a few minutes."
A few hours later Gunn noticed that Connor was starting to stare off into space instead of doing his math homework. Gunn asked, "Something on your mind?"
Connor looked confused for a second and then shook his head no. He went back to studying. Ten minutes later Gunn said, "You've been on the same problem for the past ten minutes. What's up?"
Connor looked a little embarrassed and said, "It's nothing."
Gunn closed Connor's book for him and said, "It's enough to distract you, so tell me."
Connor sighed and slumped back in his chair. "You know that girl in the white room?"
"Yeah, what was her name? Messy-tet or something."
"Yeah her. Well, you know what she said
'The answer is among you'."
do you think she was talking about me?"
Gunn looked down for a second to collect his thoughts. He looked back at Connor and said, "The thought has crossed my mind. He arrived in the spot you were born. He showed up at Wolfram and Hart to go on a killing spree ten minutes after you got there."
Connor couldn't keep looking at Gunn and looked down at his closed book. He had had the same suspicions that Gunn was voicing, but it somehow sounded much worse when someone else said them. Gunn noticed Connor's demeanor had changed and he said, "Hey."
Connor looked back up with shame in his eyes. Gunn said, "Even if you are somehow 'the answer', and even if you are connected to the Beast, I do not think that you are evil or malicious. I don't think you're causing the Beast to do these horrible things. In fact her statement of 'the answer is among you' might mean that you're the key to killing the Beast, and that could be a good thing."
Connor thought about that for a few seconds, and then slowly nodded. Gunn continued, "But for now we have to wait and see what Lorne, Fred, and Wes come up with, so could you try to concentrate on your math?"
Connor sighed and opened his book. Gunn said, "Just think about getting your GED and having Angel get off your back about it."
Connor muttered, "That would be nice."
A few hours later Lorne arrived looking grim. Angel noticed him first and said, "Bad news?"
"Ma'at is dead. Something ripped out her heart last night."
"She was a powerful woman. But he didn't seem to have any trouble getting to her."
By this time the whole gang had gathered around and was listening. Gunn said, "The Beast must be killing them all. Wiping them out one by one."
Wesley disagreed, "We can't assume that. The Beast has killed thousands of people here in the city. Just because two out of that thousand have a connection doesn't mean he is specifically targeting them."
Fred nodded, "Two points make a line
Wesley finished, "Not a pattern."
Gunn glared at both of them. Connor said, "But it wouldn't hurt to try and find one of the other three and get information out of them right?"
Angel nodded and was about to say something when the hotel's front door opened. Gwen stood there looking at everyone. Angel had met her about two months ago when they were both after the Axes of Pithea. They hadn't seen each other since. Angel smiled, as he looked her up and down. She was wearing tight red leather pants and a tight black leather top that showed off her midriff along with the always-necessary gloves. He said, "Gwen?"
Connor had never met Gwen, but he had heard of her before. He leaned over to Gunn and whispered, "Electro shock girl Gwen?"
Gunn nodded. Angel said, "To what do we owe this pleasure?"
"There are some really strange things going on out in the world right now, and you're the strangest person I know, so I thought I'd ask you about it. So tell me, freak to freak, is the world coming to an end?"
Angel shrugged and said, "I don't know for sure, but I think someone or something is trying to make that happen. Why? What happened to scare you enough to come here?"
Gwen walked down the stairs to join the little group. She took a deep breath and said, "I was meeting with a client of mine three nights ago when something killed him."
Fred still had a grudge against Gwen for accidentally killing Gunn the night they were trying to steal the Axis. She said in a snippy voice, "I don't see how that's all that unusual. I'm sure the people you do business with get killed all the time."
Gwen said, "Oh, did I forget to mention that the something that killed my client looked like the devil? He was a demon made out of rock with big horns and cloven feet."
Angel said, "The Beast."
Fred grabbed one of her books and said begrudgingly, "Not that I forgive you for what you did to Charles, because I don't, but it would help us if we could hear more about what happened. What was your clients name?"
Gunn said triumphantly, "There's your pattern!"
Fred said to Gwen, "Did the Beast take anything from your client when he killed him?"
Gwen said, "Like what?"
"Any internal organs?"
Lorne added, "Or black smoke?"
Gwen shrugged and said, "There was a lot of light all around. It was too bright to see much."
Fred looked at the book and said, "That could be it. Maybe he absorbed the light the same way he absorbed the dark smoke from Mesektet."
Wesley nodded and looked at the book with her. He said, "That means there are only two of them left, Manjet and Semkhet."
Angel asked, "Were the two of you able to find a location for them yet?"
Fred nodded and said, "Manjet was last seen in Bolivia a few months ago, and Semkhet is reported to live in Death Valley."
Angel said, "Well I say let's get to them before the Beast and find out what the hell is going on."
Gwen said, "I'm a little confused. Does someone want to fill me in?"
Angel said, "Once we have a plan we'll explain. Death Valley is a four hour drive from here."
Angel looked at his watch. He said, "It's three o'clock now, so one of us could be there by seven."
Angel looked out at the sun and said, "Well, one of us who isn't me."
Fred said, "Wesley and I should really stay and try to find out what the Beast is planning to do once he kills all of the Ra-tet. And hopefully we can come up with a way to stop him."
Angel nodded in agreement, and noticed the way Gunn continued to glare at them. He said, "You up for a drive Gunn?"
Gunn looked over at Angel with relief said, "Sure."
Fred handed Gunn a piece of paper that had all the information for finding the cave where Semkhet was supposedly living.
Angel looked at Lorne to see if he wanted to go too, but Lorne shook his head and said, "The heat is murder on my skin. No thanks."
Connor said, "I'll go."
Angel thought about it and said, "Okay, but only if you study in the car."
Connor rolled his eyes. Angel said, "I know you hate that I keep making you study when the world seems to be going to hell, but that happens pretty often around me, and if we keep using it as an excuse, you'll never get your GED."
Gunn said, "What about Julie? Is she coming over here like usual, or is she still upset about
Connor thought about Julie and looked away as he said, "I don't know if she's still upset."
Gwen surprised everyone by saying, "I'll go with Denzel."
Fred glared which Gunn noticed. He smiled and said, "Not that I mind the freakishly accurate comparison, but if you come with me, you will keep your hands to yourself."
Gwen gave him a smile and a nod. Angel said, "Good then it's settled. Connor you can stay here and study with Lorne and me, Fred and Wes can research the Ra-tet, and Gunn and Gwen can go talk with Semkhet."
Connor started to object with, "But I think I should go too
But no one was listening to him. Fred was busy glaring at Gunn's back, Wesley was busy watching Fred, and Gunn was busy doing his best to charm Gwen as he explained everything he knew about the Ra-tet as they walked out the door. Lorne put a hand on Connor's shoulder and said, "Don't worry about it munchkin. You would just get in the way of that."
Lorne nodded to the retreating forms of Gunn and Gwen as they went out the hotel's door. Connor turned to Lorne and said, "What do you mean 'that'?"
Lorne squeezed Connor's shoulder and said, "Come on Juniorcakes, let's go study some music."
Connor reluctantly followed Lorne as Wesley distracted Fred with another entry having to do with the Ra-tet.
By the time they reached his truck, Gunn had told Gwen all he knew about the Ra-tet. The truck was quiet, as both occupants were busy with their own thoughts for the first fifteen minutes. Gunn couldn't get the pictures of Fred and Wesley out of his head. Gwen disturbed his thoughts with, "It's gonna be a long drive, and if we don't find something to talk about, it's gonna seem even longer."
Gunn smiled and said, "Okay. What should we talk about?"
Gwen thought for a second and then asked, "Tell me how you started working for Angel."
Gunn lost the smile as he thought about his sister. He said, "We were both fighting vampires, and he kept calling me and asking me to help him on cases. Then one day he started paying me."
Gunn looked over at Gwen and gave her a confused look. She said, "If that's how involved all of your stories are, we better put on some music."
Gunn sighed. "Are you sure you want to really hear it? It could be a long and drawn out story that really starts back when I was a kid."
"Let's see. I guess I'd have to start with my father. I don't remember living with him, but my mom said the three of us lived together until I was about two. She also told me that he used to hit her every time he got drunk. She said that when I was almost two he got drunk and slapped me across the room. She left him that night. The next week she started living with another guy named Marvin. She got pregnant right away. I was two when my sister, Alonna, was born."
"Marvin never really wanted kids, and now because he loved my mom, he was stuck with two of us. He tried to avoid us most of the time. I can't remember him ever holding me, or even touching me. And it was rare for him to talk to either of us kids unless it was to tell us to do something."
"My real dad would come by two or three times a year to see me for an hour or so. Twice he took me to his place to spend the night, once when I was five, and once when I was eight. When I was five, I went home with a swollen eye, and a few welts. When I was eight, he broke my arm. That was the first time the state got involved with our lives. Mom had to take me to the hospital, and they asked questions."
"My mom tried to keep me and Alonna happy. She loved us both, and we knew it. She worked, but when she was home, she would play with us, and read to us. We were always kind of poor, but I can't remember us ever going hungry. So it really hurt my mom when the state came in to check on us after that incident with my dad."
"My mom died in a car accident when I was ten. After that there was no one to take care of us. Marvin flat out didn't want us, and my dad wasn't an option after the state had come in. Alonna and I were lucky though, because we got to stay together. We traveled from shelter to shelter and foster home to foster home until I turned sixteen. Then one day the state social worker told me that they didn't have a home or shelter that could take us both. When they tried to split us up, I told Alonna we were going to run away and live on our own. She didn't even ask any questions. She just packed her stuff into a backpack and we left. We lived on the streets for the next two years. It wasn't all that bad. LA is warm even in the winter most times, Alonna was really good at shoplifting, and I was big for my age, which meant most people didn't question us or hassle us."
Gunn paused and Gwen waited. Gunn looked over at her and said, "When I was eighteen I met my first vampire. He almost killed Alonna before I killed him."
Gunn continued to talk about his sister and his street friends, and how they had formed a vampire killing group. He told her about meeting Angel for the first time. He paused in his story again and realized he had been talking for the past half an hour. He also realized he had never told Fred most of the things he was telling Gwen. As he was thinking Gwen said, "What happened then?"
"We didn't trust Angel, so I locked him in an old meat locker while I went to get my sister back from the vampires that had kidnapped her. We found the nest easily. I went in first. I thought maybe the place was empty at first, but then I saw her. I was so happy to see she wasn't dead
.. But then I realized she really was dead. The bastards had turned her. I
.. She was my only family. I always looked out for her, and ultimately I failed. She talked to me about how great she felt, and about how she could make me feel good too. I could be powerful with no guilt. She said she would be the one to take care of me for once. She said she would turn me, and then all the pain and misery that we had known our whole lives would be gone."
"I staked her as she went to bite my neck."
The truck was silent for a few minutes. Then Gwen said, "Sounds like you had to grow up fast. Wanna hear my story?"
Gunn was surprised. He was expecting some kind of pity. He thought about it, and thought that was why he had never told Fred. He could hear her in his mind saying, "Oh Charles." with pity. Fred, with her perfect childhood and loving parents who still called her every week like clockwork, couldn't understand that pity was the worst thing. But then Gunn realized spending five years in Pylea would mean Fred would understand pain and suffering. Gunn wondered if maybe it was just easier to tell someone he didn't know very well. Gunn said, "Yeah. I do."
Gwen didn't tell many people about her childhood. She wasn't sure why she planned to tell Gunn, but he had been forthcoming with her, so she decided to do the same. She said, "I was struck by lightning for the first time when I was four. I'm not sure if I was already somehow different from other people, or if that was what changed me. After that, any time my skin came in contact with another human, that person would get a huge jolt of electricity. I killed the gardener, Sam, the day it happened. I killed my nanny, Mary, that night. I loved both of them. My parents were quite well off, and I had spent more time with Sam and Mary then I ever had with my parents. It was traumatic to say the least."
"My parents had me tested by the best medical facilities there were. No one could explain it, and no one could find a cure. After months of testing, they sent me home with an external cardiac defibrillator to help revive anyone who accidentally came in contact with me. My parents hired me a new nanny, Sally. She was pretty nice. Then one night a year after she started, she went to tuck me in and accidentally brushed against my arm. Her scream woke me up, and I ran to get my father. They were able to revive Sally, but she didn't work for us after that."
"After that my parents started looking into boarding schools that could help with my 'problem'. Over the next year, I accidentally touched two more gardeners, and a cook. When I was six, another bolt of lightning hit me, and I think that was the final straw. My parents just couldn't take it anymore. They were both afraid of me and worried about me at the same time. They had found a boarding school for me, and two days after the second lighting strike they drove me there."
"I almost killed a boy my first day. He asked me if I was a freak, and then said I didn't look like one. He tried to hand me a toy car. I accidentally touched him. My parents had of course paid the school very well, and they had also sent along the external cardiac defibrillator, so the boy survived. After that everyone at the school called me 'The Freak'. But really school wasn't too awful. The food was decent. I enjoyed my classes, and most of my teachers. I had a large room to myself. I spent a lot of time alone, and I was lonely pretty often. But I had learned to read early, and reading helped me to feel less lonely."
"When I was fifteen a boy at school tried to kiss me. I guess it was some kind of a dare. I was sitting alone under a tree reading a book, and he snuck up behind me. He was an inch from my face before I even saw him. I started to shout 'no', but it was too late. He kissed me, and died. They tried to revive him, but couldn't. Maybe he had a weak heart to begin with. After that I moved back home. I had already gotten enough credits to graduate anyway."
"But once I was home I was bored. I wanted some of the excitement that I always read about in my books. So I decided to become a thief."
Gunn waited for more. He said, "You just decided?"
Gwen nodded. "And it turns out, I'm really good at it. I moved out at eighteen, and don't really have much contact with my folks. We talk and sometimes visit around Christmas time, and my mom usually calls me on my birthday. But I'm happier being a thief then I ever thought possible."
Gwen was surprised when Gunn said; "What about it makes you happy?"
Gwen had only told her story to three other people. They had all basically told her how immoral she was for becoming a thief when her parents were so well off. She said, "It's an adrenaline rush for one, and I guess it makes me feel powerful to know that I'm smarter then the average Joe. I love breaking into places that have elaborate security systems."
Gunn nodded and said, "That's kind of how I always felt about killing vamps. There was the adrenaline rush, but also knowing that you can kill something that is physically stronger then you, is a feeling of power."
Gunn and Gwen spent the rest of the trip happily talking, and finding that they truly enjoyed each other's company. As they pulled up to the cave Fred had given them directions to, Gunn realized with some guilt that he had had a better time talking to Gwen over the past four hours then he had had with Fred for the past few months. Gunn said, "You ready?"
Gwen nodded. As they got out of the truck, Gwen said, "Hey Gunn?"
"For just listening to me and not judging."
Gunn nodded and said, "Sure. Same goes for me too."
Gwen smiled and turned to lead the way into the cave.
They found Semkhet in pieces. His entrails were scattered about the cave. Gwen gave a disgusted groan, and put her hand over her mouth. Gunn looked around and said, "Looks like the Beast got here first."
"I guess we should call Angel and see what he wants us to do now."
As Gunn was pulling out his cell phone he heard a voice say, "What are you two doing here?"
Gunn and Gwen both turned to see a middle aged short man with a potbelly. He had on khaki shorts, a Hawaiian shirt, and a hat to cover his balding hair. Gunn said, "We came to talk with the big kitty, but he's not feeling talkative right now. What are you doing here?"
"Standing in the remains of my fallen brethren."
"Brethren? Who are you exactly?"
The man took a few steps towards them as he said, "I am Manjet, keeper of the orb, and the last living member of the Ra-tet. But on off hours, I like Manny."
Gunn looked at the man closely. He didn't look like much. Gwen said with disbelief, "You're Manjet?"
"You got it sweetie."
Gunn got down to business. "You apparently know that the Beast has killed the other four members of the Ra-tet, but do you know why?"
"He want's to blot out the sun."
"Once all of us are gone, he will perform a ritual that will completely block out the sun. First it will just be over the city where he does the ritual. But then after a few days it will be all of North America, and after a couple of weeks it will be the entire world. The whole world in total darkness forever."
Gunn and Gwen were quiet trying to absorb this information. Manny said, "Well, I've got to go."
He turned and Gunn said, "Wait! Where are you going? The Beast is already looking for you I'm sure."
Manny nodded. "I'm sure he is too, so I want to go visit my dear friends over at the Peak-a-Boob Lounge and get one last lap dance before I'm found."
Gunn shook his head. "Come with us back to LA, and we'll do everything we can to protect you from the Beast."
"Trust me kid, there ain't nothin' anyone can do to stop this."
"You don't know me and my friends. We've come up against more demons then I can remember, and we've always won. At least we're willing to try. You can't just give up and accept this. Help us fight back."
Manny looked down and thought about it for a few seconds. "What the hell, I suppose it can't hurt."
Then he walked a few steps to Gunn and not very quietly asked him, "Do you think she'd give me a lap dance?"
Gunn looked over to Gwen, who looked appalled. Gunn said, "She's way out of your league man."
"I'm a dying man. I should get a last wish."
Gwen said, "I'll drive us back. Gunn gets the middle seat. Let's go."
Gunn didn't usually let anyone drive his truck, but he thought he would make an exception this time.
Back at the hotel Connor was studying when he got a phone call. Lorne handed him the phone. Connor said, "Hello?"
Julie said, "Hi, it's me."
Connor looked at the clock. It was 4:30, and he knew she was done with classes for the day. He said, "How was your day?"
Connor could tell she was still unhappy about the things that had happened the day before. He said, "Are you calling to tell me that you aren't going to come see me today?"
. Actually I was wondering if you could come over here and talk to me for a few minutes."
Connor said, "Sure. I'll be there in half an hour or so."
Connor hung up and went to find Angel. Angel was in his office drawing a picture of the Beast. Connor said, "Can I use your car to go visit Julie for a few hours?"
Angel got the keys out of his pocket, and as he tossed them to Connor he asked, "Are you done with your tutoring for the day?"
Connor nodded. Angel said, "Be back by seven. We should have some information from Gunn by then."
Connor arrived at Julie's apartment and knocked on the door. Julie opened it and pulled Connor into a kiss. Connor kissed her back, and when they broke apart he said, "That was nice."
Julie said, "Come on in, I have a proposal for you."
Connor walked in and sat down on her couch. She closed the door and sat beside him. She said, "Let's run away together."
"I love you Connor, and I want to be with you. I can't stand that those people you live with treat you the way they do. I have quite a bit of money in the bank. We could get an airplane ticket and go anywhere. Places they couldn't find us."
Connor closed his eyes for a minute thinking about it. He shook his head. He did love Julie, but he found that he really didn't want to leave. He knew he couldn't leave with the Beast out there, but even if that wasn't an issue, he didn't want to leave Angel, Fred, or Gunn yet. He said, "I'm sorry Julie. I can't."
"The Beast is still out there killing people, and I have to stop it. I can't do it alone, and we have to find a way to get it. And
. I know you don't understand, and I know you don't agree, but I don't want to leave my family."
Julie crawled over to Connor and sat in his lap. She kissed him again and then said, "Think about it Connor. You could just leave this entire mess behind. You and I could start a whole new life together."
Connor said, "I have a responsibility to try and stop the Beast. I won't leave while he is still out there killing people. I could be the reason he exists. I have to do everything in my power to stop him. Everything else comes second to that. Every person he has killed is blood on my hands. I can't leave that behind."
"You aren't responsible for what that Beast does."
Connor gave a little laugh and said, "Well you and Angel agree about something at least."
Julie was quiet while she thought for a few minutes. Connor put a hand on the side of her face and said, "Why don't you come spend the night with me at the hotel, and see for yourself what my family is like."
"I heard all I needed to hear the last time, thanks anyway."
Connor could tell she was still angry about the spanking she had overheard. He said, "You liked them before yesterday."
"Yeah, before yesterday I did."
"So give them a second chance."
Julie was quiet again. Connor said, "You know I was the one who got spanked, and I've gotten over it, so why can't you? I heal fast, and I was back to normal when I woke up this morning. I hate it when it's happening, but I can also see why Angel does it. I told you what I was like when I first got to this dimension. He had to do something to change me, or I would be in jail, in a mental institution, or dead. So why don't you pack an overnight bag and see first hand what it's like there."
Julie thought about it. Connor smiled and said, "Who knows, maybe you can change Angel's mind about it. I would be just fine with that."
Julie gave him a small smile. Connor was encouraged and said, "Or maybe with you there, I'll keep myself in check better, and he won't have any reason to. I'd be fine with that too."
Julie said, "You know when you put it like that
..I know it's not me, and I don't know why Angel spanking you makes me so angry. It just does."
Julie smiled again, "Why are you sorry?"
Connor shrugged. "Because I don't like to see you unhappy I guess. So will you pack up some stuff, and come with me tonight?"
Julie looked off towards her bedroom. "I guess I could come over for the night, and see how things go. I don't know if I can be civil towards Angel."
Connor kissed her and said, "We'll keep to ourselves as much as possible."
Julie got up and packed a bag. As she was checking the windows and turning out the lights she said, "What if Angel and the others don't want me there?"
Connor thought about it. "It doesn't matter. They know I love you, so they'll try to get along with you anyway."
"Really? Even if they don't like me?"
Connor nodded. "But they do like you."
Julie nodded also, but looked like she still had some doubts.
Connor and Julie showed up at the hotel half an hour later. Lorne was at the counter and as the two of them walked in he gave them a smile and said, "Hi."
Connor looked at Julie and saw her smile back. At least she seemed to like one member of the group still. Connor said, "Any news from Gunn?"
Lorne looked at the clock and said, "Not yet. Probably not for another hour at least."
Connor was holding Julie's overnight bag in one hand, and Julie's hand in his other. He said, "Is Dad here?"
Lorne nodded to the office. Connor started that way, but Julie didn't move as he started to go that way. He turned and looked at her. She shook her head no. Connor said, "Let's just get it over with. You're gonna have to see him sometime."
Julie looked disgusted, as if she were looking at a messy dead demon, and then gave a slight nod. Connor pulled her with him to Angel's office. Angel had known they were there, and wasn't really looking forward to the confrontation either. He set his notes down and looked up as the kids went in. Julie was giving him a look of pure hatred.
Connor said, "Hey Dad, Julie's gonna spend the night here."
Angel sat back and said, "Is there something wrong with her apartment?"
"No. I just want her to be here."
Angel paused for a few seconds and then looked at Julie and said, "And do you want to be here?"
Julie looked over at Connor and said, "I want to be where Connor is."
"Okay, you can have the room next to Connor's, but just for tonight."
Connor said, "Thanks." and led Julie out of the office and into his room.
Once they were there, Julie shuddered and said, "He makes my skin crawl."
Connor said nothing hoping that in time, she would come around the way he had. Connor looked at his dresser and said, "Do you want me to put this bag in the room next door?"
Julie smiled at him, "I didn't decide to come all the way over here and put up with your family just to be next door to you."
Connor smiled back. "I'll put it next door, and I'll come to you once everyone is asleep."
Julie nodded in agreement.
Downstairs Angel had his head in his hands trying to stop the impending headache when Lorne came in. Lorne brought him a cup of coffee and said, "Looks like you could use this."
Angel looked up and said, "Thanks."
Lorne stood and waited a minute, knowing Angel could use a friend to talk to. Angel took a sip and then said, "I don't know what the hell I'm doing."
Angel sighed. "Should I let Julie spend the night? Should I flat out say no? Which one is going to make Connor hate me less in the long run? Which one is actually best for him? Why can't he be a baby again? Even with everyone after him, it was easier then this."
Lorne smiled, "All you can do is try your best to make the right choices. No matter what, when it's all said and done he's still gonna be your son, and you're still going to love him, and if he knows that you're trying, he'll love you too."
Angel stared into his cup and said, "I don't know about that Lorne. He's never said it, and now he's attached to this girl that hates me. I wonder if he'll leave here running when his year is up."
Angel shook his head and said, "Well, I'm depressed now."
Lorne got up and patted Angel's shoulder as he said, "Why don't you cheer yourself up by thinking about the seven foot demon that's out there on a killing spree in our town?"
Angel gave Lorne a wry smile and said, "Now there's a pep talk. Thanks."
At seven, Connor had finally talked Julie into coming downstairs and having some dinner, because he could hear her stomach growling. They saw that Fred and Wesley were taking a break from research to have a snack too. Fred smiled and said, "Hi Julie, it's good to see you."
Julie didn't smile but said, "Hi."
Connor opened the refrigerator and said, "Not much here except some leftover Chinese food. I think there are some cans of soup too."
Julie said, "Chinese is fine."
Connor got some boxes out and asked Fred, "Whose turn is it to shop?"
"Mine, I've just been too busy with research."
Connor got out two plates and put some food on both. He said, "If you want, Julie and I could go get some stuff tonight."
Fred smiled, "That would be really great Connor, thanks. I'll get you the company checkbook."
Connor put one of the plates in the microwave as Fred left. Connor asked Wesley, "Have you guys found anything out?"
Wesley sighed. "Not as much as I would like. We still can't find any references to the Beast in any of our textbooks, and we've not found any new information on the Ra-tet since this morning. We still don't know why the Beast is killing them. We've been discussing some ideas for killing the Beast, or at least getting rid of him, but none of them are solid as of yet."
The room grew silent until Fred came back. She handed Connor the checkbook and a list of things to get. Connor stuck them in his back pocket and got the plate full of warm food out of the microwave to hand to Julie. She took it to the table and started eating while Connor warmed his up.
A few minutes later Fred and Wesley were both eating some chips and talking about their research while Connor and Julie ate at the table. Angel came in with Lorne trailing behind him. Angel said, "Good, you're all here."
Everyone looked up at him. Angel noticed that Julie put her fork down and pushed her plate away as she glared at him. He said, "First off, just so everyone knows, Julie is going to stay here tonight."
Fred turned back and smiled at Julie and said, "That will be nice."
Julie didn't look at Fred at all and continued glaring at Angel. Angel ignored it and said, "And second, we just got a call from Gunn."
Wesley asked, "What did he say?"
Angel kept talking as he went to the cupboard for a cup. "Gunn and Gwen found Semkhet dead and in more then one piece."
Wesley and Fred exchanged a look and Fred said, "One left. How will we find him."
Wesley said, "I could make some calls to the Watchers council and see if they have heard where Manjet might be staying."
Fred and Wesley both turned back to Angel who had gotten some pig's blood out of the refrigerator and was pouring himself a cup. He put the rest of the blood back in the refrigerator and put his cup in the microwave as he said, "No need for that, Manjet was already there. They are bringing him home with them. They should be here in four hours or so depending on traffic."
Fred said, "Wow. Well that's great. Did they get any information out of him?"
Angel nodded not really wanting to give them all the bad news. He sighed as he got his blood out of the microwave and had a drink. He opened his mouth to start explaining when Julie held her stomach and said, "I think I'm gonna be sick."
Connor looked over concerned. Julie looked at him and said, "You all use the same microwave that he uses to cook his blood! That's repulsive."
Connor looked confused. He looked back down at his Barbecue pork and said, "I don't understand. He's eating pig the same as us."
Julie shook her head and said, "No, it's not the same."
Angel had had enough and decided to do something to shut her up. He looked into his cup and said casually, "Would you prefer it if I ate one of you?"
Julie gasped and put her hand over her mouth. Wesley tried unsuccessfully to hide a laugh. Connor yelled, "That is NOT funny Angel. Knock it off."
Connor put an arm around Julie and looked at her when he said, "He's kidding Julie. He has a horrible sense of humor that you'll have to learn to ignore. He wouldn't eat anyone, I swear." He rubbed his hand up and down her arm a little to comfort her.
Lorne said to no one in particular, "I prefer my blood cold. With some vodka and a twist of lime." He turned to Angel and said, "You should try it that way sometime."
Angel mumbled, "You're as bad as Spike and his wheat-a-bix. Blood is blood, if it's not fresh and warm, it's just sustenance."
Fred clearly annoyed with the entire conversation said, "Hey! I think we have bigger issues here. Like what did Gunn learn from Manjet."
Angel delayed again and gulped down the rest of his blood. He set the cup down and said, "Apparently once all of the totems of the Ra-tet are dead, the Beast will perform a ritual to blot out the sun for all eternity."
The room was silent for a few seconds. Angel said, "We're going to try and keep Manjet safe, so that the Beast never gets the chance to do the ritual. But I think we better find anything we can on this ritual just in case."
Wesley and Fred turned to each other and started talking books. They got up and left the room ignoring everyone else as they talked. Julie looked at Connor and said, "The sun? Really?"
Connor shrugged and said, "We'll stop him."
Connor turned to Angel and said, "We were going to do some shopping for everyone. Do you want us to do something else instead? Maybe research?"
Angel shook his head. "No, shopping would be helpful. Just try to make it quick. We're going to have to talk about how to keep Manjet safe, and set up a controlled area for him."
Connor nodded and finished up his food. Angel and Lorne left talking about some books they were going to try and look at for information. Connor looked over at Julie and said, "Are you going to finish your food?"
Julie looked pale and disgusted. She shook her head no. He took her plate and ate the rest of hers too. He put them both in the sink and said, "Do you want to go with me to the store, or do you want to stay here."
Then before she had an answer he said, "Or do you want me to take you back to your apartment?"
Julie seemed to snap out of her daze and said, "No. I'll go to the store with you."
Four hours later, the shopping was done, and the plans for keeping Manjet safe were settled. Everyone was in the lobby still doing research a little after 1 AM, when Gunn, Gwen, and Manny came in the door. Gunn said, "Everyone, meet Manny, the keeper of the orb."
Manny gave a slight wave. Fred looked a little confused and said, "You're Manjet?"
Manny gave her a lecherous smile and said, "That's right sweetheart, and who might you be?"
Fred looked uncomfortable and said, "Fred. Nice to meet you."
"Fred? A sweet little thing like you should have a prettier name."
Angel stepped in and said, "We have the basement set up for your protection, and we'll be guarding you in shifts."
Manny said, "I ain't expectin' no miracles. But I do appreciate that you're tryin'. You got a john?"
Angel pointed him in the right direction. Once Manny was out of the room Fred said, "Well he seems
Gwen said, "Yucky."
Fred and Julie both nodded. Wesley said, "We should question him about the ritual that blots out the sun immediately upon his return."
Angel agreed. He said, "Fred and Wes can get down all his information in a few minutes, and then Connor and I will take the first watch while the rest of you get some sleep. Gunn and Fred can relieve us at 7am. Then Wes and Lorne can take over for them around noon. Gwen, it's late, and you're more then welcome to spend the night here. Same goes for you Wes."
Gwen nodded and said, "Sure. Sounds good."
Gunn said, "I'll get you set up in a room."
As they walked upstairs Wes said, "I'll stay too."
Angel nodded and turned to Connor, "Get a snack if you want, and maybe some homework, or a book to read, and I'll meet you at the basement door."
Connor nodded and then turned to Julie. He gave her an apologetic smile and said quietly, "I guess you'll be staying by yourself tonight after all."
Julie glared towards Angel's retreating back and said, "Just the way he wants it I'm sure."
Connor saw his dad's shoulders tense, but that was his only reaction. Connor said to Julie, "I saw you yawn three times already. I'm sure you could use some sleep."
Julie gave him a hug and said, "I'll see you in the morning then before I go to school."
Connor hugged her back. He let her go and said, "I'm gonna go make some coffee and a sandwich. You want anything before bed?"
Julie smiled at him; "I can't believe how much you can eat. Nothing for me thanks, but I'll make the coffee for you before I go to bed."
"That would be nice."
Half an hour later Fred and Wes were done questioning Manny, and knew all there was to know about the ritual, included the pieces needed to make it work. Then they had both headed to bed. Manny was in the basement watching some old movie on Angel's TV while laying in Angel's bed, and Connor and Angel were both sitting in chairs right by the basement door. Connor had eaten his sandwich, and both father and son were now sipping coffee and staring at the basement door. After a few minutes Angel said, "Maybe we should talk about Julie."
Connor leaned back and said, "Maybe we shouldn't."
Angel sat there for a few minutes trying to think of the right way to start a conversation about Julie without upsetting Connor. Then Gunn was shaking him. Angel woke up with a start. He said, "I'm awake! What?"
Angel turned to see Fred shaking Connor. Connor also woke with a start. Angel looked to the basement door and saw that it was open. Gunn said, "What the hell? You guys just fell asleep on watch?!"
Angel and Connor both jumped up and raced towards the basement door. Angel got there first and rushed down the stairs. He stopped at the bottom and quietly swore to himself. Angel, Connor, Gunn, and Fred all stood there at the bottom of the stairs and looked at the devastation in the basement. Fred put a hand over her mouth and gave a slight groan of disgust. Manny was in many pieces all over the basement floor. Most of the pieces were too small to recognize. But his head was there. Angel took a few steps over to the head and inspected it. He said, "The top of his head has been cut off, and his scull has been emptied."
Gunn said, "The Beast?"
Connor sniffed the air. "I don't smell him. But
.. I don't smell anything. I can't smell myself even."
Connor looked a little panicked, and Angel sniffed the air too. He nodded and said, "Same for me."
Gunn said, "Something is fishy here Angel. Both you and Connor fell asleep on watch. That isn't normal. Fred and I were yelling at you for a solid minute before you woke up, and both of you are light sleepers. And now the two people with the best noses on our team can't smell anything?"
Connor nodded and said, "I don't even remember being tired. I can only remember sitting there for a few minutes before being woken up. What about you Dad?"
Angel nodded too. "Five minutes at most."
Gunn said, "You were both drugged. That's the only thing that makes sense."
Angel nodded in agreement. He turned to Fred and said, "Wake everyone up, and have them meet in the lobby."
Fred nodded and headed up the stairs. Connor said, "Drugged how?"
Angel said, "We both had some of that coffee Julie made right before falling asleep."
Connor glared, "Great! So because Julie doesn't like you, you assume she had something to do with drugging us?! She doesn't have anything to do with this mess."
"Calm down Connor, I didn't say it was Julie, maybe it was in the creamer we both used. I'm just saying it's the only thing we consumed that was the same. But then a drug could have been sprayed into the air too. But I'm not ruling Julie out as a suspect either, because everyone here is suspect for now."
Angel turned to Gunn and said, "Let's go get a sample of that coffee."
Gunn shook his head. "Sorry man, Fred and I poured out yesterday's coffee and made some new when we had breakfast about fifteen minutes before we came to relieve you."
Angel shook his head and said, "Damn. Alright, let's just go upstairs and see what everyone has to say."
Soon everyone was standing or sitting in the lobby. Angel said, "Manny is dead, and the orb was removed from his head. I think it's safe to assume that the Beast has all the parts he needs to perform the ritual to blot out the sun."
Wesley said, "How could the Beast have gotten past the two of you?"
"Connor and I were both drugged. It was most likely an inside job."
The people in the lobby looked around at each other. Wesley said, "But who here would want the sun gone?"
Julie looked at Angel and said, "My vote would go to the vampire."
Angel said, "That's funny, because my vote would go to the person who made the coffee."
Julie's eyes got bigger and she said, "You think it was me?"
Connor had been standing beside his dad, but walked over to stand by Julie when he said, "If we're going to be pointing fingers, maybe we should ask ourselves how Gwen knew Ashet, and how she might be connected to the Beast. Gwen is a thief, so she could benefit from there being no sun, and she could protect herself from demons with her electric skin. Everyone has access to the kitchen, so blaming Julie seems kind of far fetched to me."
Gwen glared at Connor and said, "If I had wanted to steal the orb, I wouldn't have helped Gunn get Manny here. I think the fact that I listened to the yucky little man talk for four hours without killing him should be proof enough that I didn't want him dead."
Gunn not liking that Connor had accused Gwen said, "Well if you want to go down that road, where did the Beast first appear, and who does he call by name."
Connor looked hurt and Gunn regretted what he had said.
Wesley said, "I believe the next few hours are going to be crucial if we are going to try and prevent the sun from disappearing. Shouldn't we focus on that rather then bickering amongst ourselves at this point in time?"
Angel nodded and said, "Wes is right. We can worry about how the Beast got the orb later. Right now we have to stop him. Wes, did you and Fred come up with any ideas last night when you talked to Manny?"
Wesley looked to Fred and nodded. Fred sighed and said; "Wes and I discussed this all day yesterday. We think the only way to defeat the beast is by using a portal."
Gunn had been standing next to Fred, but as he heard her, he shook his head thinking about the professor and mumbled, "Just great."
Gunn walked towards the little couch to sit by Gwen. Fred said, "Gunn
.", but he ignored her.
Angel nodded and said to Wesley, "A portal sounds like something that actually might work."
Lorne nodded also and said, "Send the big nasty back to the hell sweet hell he came from."
Angel said, "Can the two of you do it?"
"Fred and I should have no problem opening the portal. Getting the Beast to step through it will be up to you."
Angel nodded and said; "It just might work. Good thinking."
Angel said, "Okay we have a plan, but it's obviously dangerous. Gwen, did you want to stay and help us, or are you done here?"
Before Gwen could respond Wesley said, "From what Manny told us, part of what he took from the five totems was metal. If you got a piece of that in your hand, do you think you could melt it?"
"Yeah, I could, but I don't think I'm gonna stay. I'm thinking Tahiti sounds nice right about now."
Gunn said, "What, and pass up the opportunity to be the hero in your own story?"
Gwen gave him a small smile. Gunn continued, "And if you think stealing is an adrenaline rush, try defeating a seven foot tall demon."
Gwen was looking at Gunn as she said, "I guess I could come along."
Gunn nodded in approval. Fred glared at the backs of their heads. Angel said, "Good. How about you Julie? Did you want to come along? It will be dangerous, and I don't know what exactly you could do to help."
Before Julie could say anything Connor said, "You have class don't you? You should go to that. I will feel better, and be less distracted knowing you are safe."
"I have class in half an hour, and I guess I should probably go to that."
Angel noticed that most everyone was still in pajamas, and that he was wearing yesterday's clothes. He said, "All of you get ready to go as quick as you can. We'll met back down here, and then Connor and I will try to track the Beast."
Everyone headed their separate directions to get dressed.
Five minutes later the lobby was deserted when the Beast walked through the front door.
When Connor got to his room, he could tell that Julie had spent the night there instead of her room. He didn't say much as she came in with him and started getting dressed. Julie had taken a shower the night before, and was finished getting dressed when Connor finished taking a quick shower to rinse off. He came out of the bathroom in a towel. He went to her and took a deep breath. He said, "I can smell again. Maybe the shower helped wash something off me."
She kissed him and said, "Good, then you should be able to track that Beast."
He nodded and started to dress quickly, knowing everyone needed to hurry if they were going to stop the Beast. As he was putting on pants Julie said, "You will be careful right? I mean when I get back here tonight, I want you to be alive and well."
Connor pulled on a shirt and said, "I'll do my best."
There was a knock on his door. He rolled his eyes as he walked towards the door and said, "I'm getting ready as fast as I can Da
He opened his door and found the Beast on the other side. The Beast said, "Hello Connor."
Connor quickly got over the shock of seeing the Beast at his door. He turned as quick as he could and ran for his far wall where a sword was hanging. As he ran he yelled to Julie, "RUN!!"
The Beast didn't even acknowledge Julie, but quickly followed Connor into the room. Connor yanked the sword off the wall and turned to see the Beast coming at him. He also saw out of the corner of his eye that Julie was running for the door, and was almost out the door. Knowing Julie was out of immediate danger, Connor was able to focus on the Beast. He pointed the sword at the Beast's belly and tried to skewer him. The sword didn't penetrate the Beast, and bent under the pressure Connor was putting on it. Connor realized it wasn't working and dropped the sword. He punched the Beast twice in the face, and turned to kick him in the stomach with his bare feet.
The Beast had been watching Connor do these things to him with some amusement. But when Connor kicked him, the Beast grabbed Connor's ankle. The Beast kept a hold of Connor's ankle, and flung Connor's whole body face first into the floor. Then the Beast picked Connor up by the ankle again, and flung his body down to the floor on the other side of him so that Connor landed on his back. The Beast tossed Connor back and forth a couple of more times, and then flung him out the window. The window crashed upon impact, and a dazed Connor fell three floors to land face down on the street below.
The Beast smiled and shut Connor's door. He blockaded it with some furniture, and then got out the things he needed to perform his ritual.
The second Julie got out the door she ran down the hallway yelling, "The Beast is HERE!!" and continued down to the lobby.
Gunn and Fred came out of their room, quickly followed by Gwen and Wesley. Wesley looked at Fred and said, "The spell."
Fred and Wesley both took the stairs at a run to get the supplies they needed to open a portal. Gunn looked at Gwen and said, "Weapons. My room."
Gunn and Gwen both ran to Gunn and Fred's room and gathered up a few swords and a crossbow. Lorne appeared in the hallway with his own crossbow, at the same time that Gwen and Gunn came back out. They all turned when they heard Connor's door slam, and then they noticed Angel at the end of the hall by the window.
Angel had been the first back into the lobby, and had heard Julie's scream. He ran up the stairs as Julie was running down. He passed Fred and Wesley who said, "Getting the spell book!"
Angel headed directly to his son's room, but heard the window crash before he got there. He said, "Oh no." and passed Connor's room and went to the window at the end of the hall. He quickly got a glimpse of his son lying on the street not moving before the sunlight made him start to smoke. He darted back away from the window and heard the door to Connor's room slam.
Angel looked back down the hall and saw Gwen, Gunn, and Lorne all looking at him. He said to Lorne, "Connor's out there on the street not moving. Go see if he's okay, and have Julie stay with him if you can."
Lorne nodded and ran down the hall towards the stairs.
Angel held out his hand, and Gunn tossed him a sword. Angel said, "Let's wait for Fred and Wesley before barging in."
Gunn nodded and then said, "Do you think the Beast needed to do this ritual in the place where Connor lives?"
Angel said, "I don't know."
There was a tense silence while the waited.
Downstairs Fred and Wesley were gathering things as quick as they could. Julie was standing in the lobby crying and hugging herself. Lorne ran up to Julie and said, "Connor's hurt. Come with me."
Julie and Lorne ran out the door, and went to the side of the building. Julie and Lorne arrived at the same time. Julie said, "Oh God, Connor can you hear me?"
Lorne helped Julie turn Connor over. Connor's eyes darted around and he said, "The Beast."
Lorne nodded and said, "Your Dad's all over it. Can you move all your parts? Anything broken?"
Connor looked down at himself and moved both feet and arms. "Maybe a rib or two, and my right ankle hurts, but I don't think it's broke."
Julie said, "Your face."
Connor put his hand up and it came away with blood. Lorne took a hanky out of his pocket and gave it to Julie. She held it to the large gash on Connor's forehead. Lorne said, "You kids stay here. I'm gonna go help send this monster back to where it came from."
Connor sat up with help, and Julie helped him move to the curb. Connor held his ribs and said, "I should go help."
Julie said, "Don't be ridiculous, you can barley walk. Let the other's handle it, you would just be in the way."
Connor hated that she was right, and sat with her waiting to see what would happen.
Upstairs Lorne arrived just as Fred and Wesley said in unison, "We're ready."
Angel tried the door. Nothing happened. He pushed with all his strength, and the door slowly opened wide enough for him to squeeze through. The Beast saw him, but ignored him and kept chanting. Angel pushed the bed that was blocking the door out of the way, and everyone piled into the room.
The Beast had drawn a large circle in the center of the room with some wavy triangles all around it. It looked like a representation of the sun. The Beast was kneeling in the center of the circle, and had two metal pieces that he had taken from Ashet and Semkhet side by side with the small glass orb he had taken from Manjet in the middle of them. The Beast opened his mouth and the black energy he had sucked out of Masektet at Wolfram and Hart went into the glass orb turning it black. Then the Beast reached behind him and picked up the heart he had taken from Ma'at. He dripped some of the heart's blood onto the orb and kept chanting.
Fred and Wesley started some chanting of their own and Angel went to the Beast to attack. The Beast kept chanting but stood to meet Angel's attack blow by blow. Gwen crouched down and tried to sneak by the Beast to get her hands on one of the metal pieces, but the Beast was quick and kicked her in the side as she got close to him. She went flying against the wall and landed in a heap. All the while the Beast was still blocking all of Angel's blows and chanting.
The Beast knocked Angel back and Gunn took his place fighting hand to hand with the Beast. He was quickly tossed aside. Then finally Fred and Wesley's portal opened up behind the Beast. Angel saw it and used all of his strength and then some to kick the Beast backwards into the portal. The portal closed up, and the Beast was gone.
The room grew silent. Gunn went to help Gwen stand. Fred looked around and said, "Did we do it? Is he gone?"
Angel smiled and said, "I think
Angel heard a noise behind him and turned to see the Beast standing there in Connor's doorway. The Beast walked to the center of the circle again and said conversationally, "You know Angelus, you need not be my enemy. Join me as I asked you to before."
The entire room was stunned into silence. The Beast bent down and grabbed the now black orb and put it in his mouth. The Beast turned to look at Angel one more time and jumped out Connor's window.
Wesley said, "Angelus?"
Angel said more to himself then anyone else. "How does he know me? I don't remember him. I would remember someone like him."
Fred said, "The answer is among you."
Wesley nodded and said, "It's not Connor, or anyone else, it's Angelus."
Gunn had looked out the window to see Connor kick the Beast and said, "Angel, Connor's out there fighting it."
Angel walked as close to the window as he could without getting in the direct sun and yelled, "Connor! Get back in the hotel right now!"
Gunn shook his head and said, "No good. He's still after it."
Angel noticed it was getting dimmer out. Gunn said, "Want me to try and catch up to him?"
Angel shook his head. "If Connor's unwilling, he would just shove you away and maybe get you hurt. From the looks of things, the sun will be gone in a few more seconds. I'll go get him."
Wesley said, "Angel
Angel held up his hand and said, "One crisis at a time Wes. Once Connor's back, we'll talk."
Outside Connor asked Julie, "What is it like when you pass out? Don't things get darker?"
Connor and Julie both looked up towards the sun at the same time. They could see little black threads crawling along the sun and covering it. Julie said, "Oh no. Please no."
Connor jumped to his feet when there was a loud thud behind him on the sidewalk. He turned to see the Beast standing on the cement he had just cracked with his landing. Connor said with hatred, "You. You did this."
The Beast turned and started walking down the sidewalk. Connor gave a feral yell and lunged after the Beast. Julie tried to hold onto his hand, but he yanked it away. She yelled, "Connor no!"
Connor kicked the Beast's back with both feet, and gave a yell as he made his ankle worse. The Beast kept walking without even turning around. Connor yelled, "Why?! Why are you doing this?! Hundreds of people will die!"
He heard Angel yell from the shadows of his room three floors up, "Connor! Get back in the hotel right now!"
Connor ignored him, and he ignored the pain in his ankle as he followed the Beast. He continued his assault to the Beast's back. He kicked and punched the Beast multiple times, all the while getting weaker from the pain in his side and ankle. Two blocks away the Beast suddenly stopped walking, and turned to face Connor. He grabbed Connor by the throat. Connor gasped for air and the Beast said, "Do you really trust him?"
The Beast tossed Connor away, and he landed against a metal dumpster before falling to the pavement. Connor lay there breathing hard and trying not to let the pain in his right ankle overpower him. He looked up and noticed the sun was almost completely gone. He pushed himself up to a sitting position and tried not to cry about the fact that they had all failed.
A few minutes later it was dark out, and the sun was no more. Then Angel was kneeling down in front of Connor. Angel put a hand on the side of his face and said, "Connor?"
Connor looked up at Angel and said, "We failed Dad. The sun
Angel nodded and said, "I know. Can you stand?"
Connor wiped a few stray tears off his face and nodded. Angel helped him stand up, and they started towards the hotel. Angel noticed that Connor was limping and said, "Put your arm over my shoulders, and I'll help, so you can keep the weight off your leg."
Connor said, "I'm fine."
"Put your arm over my shoulder, or I'll toss you over my shoulder to carry you home, the same way I have more then once."
Connor reluctantly put his arm over Angel's shoulder, and Angel put his arm around Connor's waist to help hold most of his weight as they walked back to the hotel. Julie met them halfway there and stood on the other side of Connor. She said, "What were you thinking Connor? The Beast could have killed you."
Connor said, "I guess I wasn't thinking much. I was just angry."
Julie asked, "Angry?"
"That we failed, that the Beast is so connected to me that he did his ritual in my room, that the sun is gone and I was helpless to stop it, and that hundreds of people will die because of my failure."
Angel stopped walking, took his arm away from Connor's waist and swatted him once. Connor already holding in his reaction to the pain in his side and ankle only flinched and sucked in some air.
Julie said, "He's injured you asshole!"
Angel gave her a glare and said with anger, "Yeah, inside and out. Do you only see the physical injuries?"
Connor said, "Hey, stop talking about me like I'm not here you guys."
Angel put his arm back around Connor's waist and started them walking as he said, "You are not the center of the universe son. If people die because the sun is gone, it won't be your fault. And you didn't personally fail today, the team failed all together, but we all did our best, and that's all we can do. And you haven't even heard the best part yet."
Connor gave Angel a weary look expecting some bad humor. Angel said, "The Beast knows Angelus."
Connor looked confused. "Angelus?"
"Looks like you're off the hook. The Beast has a connection to me, not a connection to you. Do you understand me? Me, not you."
Julie muttered, "Figures."
Connor kept his mouth shut thinking the rest of the way back to the hotel.
They walked in the door and Fred walked over to Connor and said, "If you were anyone else, you'd need stitches for your forehead. Come on in the bathroom, and I'll put some of those butterfly Band-Aids on it."
Angel said, "His ankle is sprained or broken. Could you bring the stuff out here, and I'll get him sat down."
Fred nodded and went to get the stuff. Gunn was sitting on the round couch, and Angel helped Connor walk over and sit next to Gunn. Gunn said, "Did your ankle get hurt before or after you chased the Beast down the road?"
Connor looked down and mumbled, "Before."
Gunn shook his head. "So you basically made it worse after it was already injured."
Gunn said, "I know you're a smart kid Connor, but sometimes it seems like you don't use the sense God gave you. What were you thinking?"
Connor, having answered this question once already, was more prepared this time. "I wasn't thinking. It was stupid, I know, but I was just mad about the whole situation, and I couldn't help myself."
Fred was back and started washing up his face with some cool water. Angel picked up Connor's lower leg and pushed his pant leg up to inspect the ankle. Angel said, "You're lucky none of the glass from the window got stuck in the bottoms of your feet."
Angel tested the movement of the foot and noticed Connor tense up with pain. Angel said, "Not broken, but it's a bad sprain. I would guess two days to heal. Are you hurt anywhere else?"
Connor lifted his shirt and pointed to an area on his ribs. Angel said, "Are they broken?"
"I'm not sure."
Angel said, "I'm gonna check. It will hurt."
Connor nodded and got ready. Angel tested the ribs to see what kind of damage there was. Angel sighed and said, "Just bruised I think. I'm guessing two days for that too. We still have some of that pain medication from the last time your ribs were broken don't we?"
Connor groaned and said, "I hated that stuff."
"Yeah, but it worked and you know it. Fred, when you put the first aid kit away, could you get him one of those pills?"
Fred nodded as she put the last band-aide on Connor's forehead. Angel had been kneeling down next to Connor, but now stood and started pacing, "Okay Wes that crisis is done, so let's hear it."
Julie who had been standing a few feet away watching everyone now went to sit next to Connor and put her hand on his lower thigh in comfort. Wesley said, "The Beast knows you. Obviously Masektet was talking about you being the answer among us."
Angel shook his head. "Trust me Wes. I remember it all. There are things that keep me up at night because I'm cursed to remember them. I don't remember this Beast, and I'm pretty sure he would have made an impression on me."
Wesley said, "Yes, but how do you know that Angelus doesn't remember him?"
"What? Are you forgetting that we share the same brain Wes? We share the same memories. I know what he knows and vice versa."
Angel was getting frustrated. He crossed his arms and said, "Then why don't you tell me about it."
Fred came back into the room from putting the first aid kit away and handed Connor a pill and a glass of water. Then she went to stand between Gunn and Wesley.
Wesley said, "Let's look at the facts shall we? Masektet was warning us that one of us was the key to our connection to the Beast. He knows your name, and the name of your son. You said yourself that your being drugged this morning was an inside job. And the Beast performed his ritual here in the hotel you own. What if the Beast has a way of controlling you through means of hypnosis or a spell? What if he can bring Angelus out? These are things we need to consider."
Angel said, "Well, even if it's true I don't see how I can help, because I don't remember him."
Wesley stood and said, "We need Angelus."
Angel said, "You've got to be joking."
Wesley shook his head no. "I'm quite serious."
Gunn said sarcastically, "Yeah, because one super strong bad guy running around isn't enough for you."
Wesley said, "We could set up a safe controlled environment."
Angel said, "Even if we could, how do you propose getting rid of my soul? Perfect happiness is looking pretty distant with the city in total darkness."
Wesley looked at Fred and said, "I'm sure we could find a way."
Fred nodded, "I'm sure we could figure it out."
Fred noticed Gunn looking unhappy and said, "Not that I think that's the right thing to do. I guess that's up to Angel to decide."
Gwen, who had been silent during this talk, stood and said, "Well, this has been fun and all, but I'm thinking I want to get out of this city tonight. Maybe a trip to Europe is in order until the sun is back to full shine."
She turned to Gunn and said, "Thanks for the trip. I had a good time."
Gunn said, "Me too. Are you sure you want to go? I'm sure we could use your help."
Gwen shook her head. "I've fought with Angel when he was being nice. I don't plan to be around when he's evil. And we saw how that hero thing worked out for me a few minutes ago. But I do appreciate the opportunity to try."
Angel said, "Thanks for sticking around and helping Gwen. You should be pretty safe getting home to pack. Most of the vampires will be asleep this time of the morning, and won't know the sun is even gone yet."
Gwen nodded and said, "Bye everyone."
Everyone piped up with his or her good byes, and Gwen walked out the front door. Lorne was standing next to Gunn and said quietly, "Don't look so glum. She'll be back sooner then you think."
Gunn was surprised how happy that statement made him. Angel said, "Look Wes, I can understand why you might think this is the best idea, but I'm not convinced. For now why don't you and Fred do some research and see if you can find out how to reverse this spell that the Beast did. Lorne, you man the phones, because I'm sure we'll be getting calls very soon. Give people common advice, and try to convince them to stay in their houses. I'll go to help the urgent calls, and work on cleaning up Manny from the basement. Gunn, why don't you drive Julie home, and
Connor said, "NO!"
Angel said, "What?"
"It isn't save out there. Julie needs to stay here where we can protect her until the sun comes back."
"Well first we should see what Julie wants to do. Second we should consider how safe she really is here, when the Beast has shown up here and obviously knows both of us. And third, as I was saying before you interrupted, if she wants to pack up some of her stuff, Gunn can bring her back over here and even stop at school with her to see what they are doing about classes first."
Connor looked down sheepishly and said, "Oh."
Julie looked at Angel and then looked at Connor. She said, "I
.. I guess I could stay here for a few days."
Angel said, "There's just one condition. You have to try and be civil towards me."
Julie glared at him and said unconvincingly, "I'll try."
Angel said, "Needs some work." Angel turned his attention to Connor and said, "Connor, you need to stay off that foot if you want your ankle to heal fast, so take that pill that you're trying to hide in your hand. Then I'll carry you to your room where you can lie on your bed for most of the day."
Connor said, "But I
"No, I don't even want to hear it. After you're settled on your bed, I'll bring you some breakfast, and then you can start some studying. But unless the Beast shows up in your room again, you are not getting up today. And we'll have to get you a makeshift crutch or cane to use when you need to go to the bathroom so you can stay off your ankle entirely."
Angel looked around the room and said, "Any questions?"
Fred and Wesley headed to the back room, Lorne went to sit at the front counter, and Gunn walked over to Julie and said, "You got everything you need to take?"
Julie nodded. She gave Connor a quick kiss, and got up to follow Gunn out the door. Angel and Connor regarded each other. Angel said, "Take it."
Connor put the pill in his mouth and drank the water. Angel took the glass from him and went to set it on the counter. He went back to Connor and leaned down to pick him up. Connor said, "Couldn't I just lean on you again?"
Angel picked Connor up and settled him bottom up over his left shoulder. Connor groaned, mostly in embarrassment. Angel said, "It's easier and quicker this way. Besides, it brings back old memories."
"Not good ones."
Angel laughed in spite of everything that was going on and said, "And who's fault is that?"
Connor wasn't exactly joking, but wasn't all that serious either as he said, "Yours, because you keep carrying me this way!"
Angel started up the stairs and said, "I'll try to keep that in mind next time."
Connor sighed hoping there wouldn't be a next time. Soon they were upstairs in Connor's bedroom, and Angel kicked the door shut behind him. He walked over to the bed, but instead of setting Connor down he sat down himself and shifted Connor so he was over his lap. Connor groaned again, more loudly this time knowing what was coming. Angel said, "I know you heard me tell you to come back into the hotel. Want to tell me why you didn't?"
"You know why Dad."
"Because you were angry, and because you felt hopeless watching the sun disappear."
"But when you hear me yell at you to do something, that should override pretty much everything else. We've gone over this before."
"I know. I'm sorry."
Angel raised his hand and then thought about what Julie had said. Angel said, "If you want, I could wait for a couple of days before I spank you, to give you a chance to heal first."
Connor was in pain already, and laying over Angel's lap was hurting his ribs, but he knew Julie was gone, and he didn't want to lay on his bed for two days dreading what would happen. He whispered, "No."
Angel thought for a second and said, "Or, since you know what you did was wrong, I guess I could try grounding you. We could say no going on cases or helping with research for a week."
Connor struggled to look back at Angel and said loudly, "No! That would kill me Dad. To know the Beast was out there, and you were all trying to find a way to kill it, but not letting me help. I couldn't take that. I just
.. I couldn't."
Angel nodded in understanding and said, "Okay."
Angel brought his hand down with a loud smack on the back of Connor's jeans. Connor grunted from the feeling of the first swat, and before his breath was all the way out, the second swat had landed. Angel spanked him hard and fast, and Connor was very soon trying to wiggle away from Angel's hand.
After twenty swats Angel paused and said, "You need to do what I tell you to do Connor. Going after the Beast by yourself was not a good idea. You ended up causing yourself further injury because of it, and the Beast could have killed you. In fact, if you had made him angry, he could have come back here and tried to kill all of us."
Connor listened to Angel while breathing hard and willing the sting in his butt to go away. But by the time Angel was done with his speech, Connor was having a hard time not crying. Angel started spanking again and Connor cried out at the first swat. Five swats later the tears started, and five swats after that Connor got out, "I
. really am
. sorry Dad!"
Angel gave him a few more swats that were harder then the rest, and then stopped. Connor realized the spanking was over and wiped at his face and tried to stop crying. Angel rubbed his back for a minute, and then gently flipped Connor over and picked him up again, this time with one arm behind Connor's back and one arm behind Connor's knees. Angel said, "Is this a better way to pick you up?"
Connor just shook his head no and wiped at some of the tears that refused to stop. Angel set Connor down on his bed and Connor rolled onto his side. Angel sat down beside Connor's back, and gently rubbed his back and shoulders until Connor was more relaxed and finished crying. Angel said, "You know I love you right?"
Connor nodded. Angel said, "I'm gonna go get something for you to eat, and I'll bring you some of your textbooks."
Connor nodded again. Angel got up and headed out to get his son settled for the morning.
(Feedback makes me happy.)
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