Author's note: : This chapter has specific spoilers for the episode 'Apocalypse, Nowish (aka Rain of Fire)'. Written - September 7, 2004
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 7


A month had passed since Julie left for home. She had called Connor a couple of times each week during the month just to talk, and he knew she was planning to come back to school in three days. It was late October, and in the middle of the fall term, but Julie said she was just going to audit some classes, get a temporary job, and try to get back into the swing of school until winter term started. She also said she needed to get away from her parent's house because it was too depressing. Connor was excited to see her, and everyone else in the hotel was happy for him.

During the first two weeks she was gone, Connor had moped around the hotel, and depressed everyone until Angel decided he'd had enough of that. He'd taken Connor into his office, and sat him down.
*****

Angel said, "Look Connor, I know you miss Julie, but you have to snap out of this….mood you're in."

Connor sneered back, "I'm not in a mood!"

"Yes you are, and you're making everyone around you miserable too. Just now when you saw Gunn and Fred kiss you yelled at them that they were grossing you out. Yesterday when Wes came in smelling like Lilah you rolled your eyes and walked away when he said hello. And four days ago when we were killing the vampires down at the pier, I had to yell at you three times to stop being so reckless while fighting."

"Whatever."

"No, that's not good enough, I want you to promise me that you'll try to stop being so unpleasant to everyone."

"No. You don't know how hard it is to see Gunn and Fred all happy when Julie is two states away."

Angel yelled, "The hell I don't!!"

Connor was taken by surprise at Angel's outburst, and stayed silent. Angel ran his hand through his hair and turned away from Connor. While he was looking out his office window he said, "You know that I have a soul now, but I've never told you how I got it."

Connor surprised Angel by saying; "Wesley and Gunn have both told me about the curse."

Angel turned around, "They did?"

"I think Wesley told me because he wanted me to know that you'd suffered for your past, and I think Gunn told me because he wanted me to be careful if you got too happy."

"What exactly did they tell you?"

"You were cursed by a Gypsy who's family you slaughtered. You spent a hundred years or so living mostly outside of society, because the guilt from what Angelus had done made you kind of insane until you started trying to do good in society. They also said that part of the curse is that if you are ever truly happy, your soul will go away and you turn back into Angelus."

"Did they tell you about Buffy?"

"No."

Angel sighed and said to the ceiling, "Of course not."

Connor snipped, "I don't know what all of this has to do with me missing Julie."

"Buffy is the love of my life."

Connor's eyes got wide and he said, "Oh."
There was silence for a few seconds and then Connor said, "What about Cordelia?"

"Cordy was nice, and I can say that I loved her, but not in the same way."

"So tell me about Buffy."

"Did Holtz ever tell you about Vampire Slayers?"

"Yes. They are very powerful girls who kill vampires. When one dies, then a new girl becomes the Slayer."

"Buffy is a Slayer."

"Don't you mean The Slayer? I thought there was only one at a time."

"Buffy has died. Twice actually, and when she died another girl became the Slayer. Then Buffy was brought back to life, so there are currently two Slayers. Buffy and Faith."

"So why would you be in love with a Slayer? Wouldn't she just kill you if she saw you?"

"I loved her from the first minute I saw her. She didn't know I was a vampire at first, and I helped her to fight evil. She was attracted to me before she knew. And then even after she found out, she still grew to love me."

Connor shook his head thinking. Angel said, "We were together for a while, and it was…..the happiest time of my life."

Connor nodded and said, "But then you were too happy?"

Angel said, "The first time we made love…I lost my soul, and Angelus was back."

"So did you kill her….you know, when you were done?"

"No. Angelus wanted to torture her first. The usual 'kill her friends and family in front of her before killing her' thing. Thank God she's stronger than me, and can pretty much kick my ass whenever she feels like it."

Connor sat up and said with disbelief, "She's stronger than you?"

"Oh yeah."

"Wow."

They were quiet for a few seconds again, and then Connor said, "So how did you get your soul back? How long were you without it?"

"Remember me telling you about Willow the witch?"

"Yes."

"She cursed me again and put my soul back. I was Angelus for a little less than a year."

Connor said, "Once that was done Buffy decided not to be with you anymore?"

"I was the one who left, but we both agreed.…eventually. I can't offer her any kind of happy life. I still love her with everything that I am, but we can't sleep together, and she deserves a better life. She deserves to be happy with a husband who can take her to the beach and enjoy the sun. She deserves the chance to have children and see them grow. She's pure good, and she deserves…..better than me."

"But if she still loves you, she can't be happy with someone else either."

Angel sighed and avoided commenting on that by saying, "So you see, I do understand not being able to be with the girl you love….if you love Julie that is. Do you love Julie?"

Connor thought about it and said, "Her happiness and safety is more important to me than mine."

"Sounds like love to me. But, being in love, and being apart from the person you love is NOT a good reason to be mean to your friends and family."

Connor sighed and said, "Okay Dad, I'll try to be….less moody."

Angel smiled and said, "Good. And I have something to help take your mind off it."

"What's that?"

"It's time to learn to drive."
*****

During the next two weeks Connor had gotten his driving permit, practiced driving, and gotten his license.
*****

During dinner the night Connor came home with his permit he said, "So, when can I practice driving?"

Angel said, "Anytime now that you have the permit."

"Can I practice tonight?"

"Sure."

"Cool. Do I get to drive your car?"

Angel coughed on his blood and choked out, "My car?"

Connor nodded. Angel said, "Well, I don't know. My car is a classic…"

Angel looked at Gunn who said, "Oh no you don't. You can forget that idea before you even say it. I gave up my soul for my truck once, and there's no way I'm letting anyone learn how to drive with it."

Angel turned to Fred who said, "Mine's a stick shift."

Angel turned to Wesley who had stayed for dinner. Wesley said, "I suppose that leaves me."

Wesley gave a long-suffering sigh and said, "All right."

Angel said, "Thanks Wes. I owe you one."

Wesley looked at Angel and said, "Actually I think it's still the other way around, and it's more like ten that I owe you."

Angel didn't know what to say at first. After a few seconds of silence he looked into his cup and said, "I don't know Wes. You fished me out of the ocean, and let me eat your blood fresh. I'd say it's close to even."

Wesley smiled ruefully and said, "Yes. Close."

Connor looked a little grossed out and said, "So can we go right now?"

Wesley said, "All right. I'll drive us to a large empty parking lot, and you can practice for a while."

For the next week Connor had fun practicing driving. He enjoyed having that much power under his hands to control. Wesley and Angel decided to stop the Biology lessons for a week, and have Wesley take Connor driving for an hour a day, so that he would have enough practice to be at ease when he took the driving test.

At the end of the week Wesley said Connor was ready, and took him to the DMV to take the driving test. Everyone was proud of Connor when he came home with his license.
*****

Now Julie was coming home in three days, and Connor was excited to see her. He was also in good spirits because yesterday was the last day of the two months that Angel had made him work for both Fred and Gunn for an hour each every day as punishment for lying to them the whole time Angel was under the ocean.

That night Angel decided to celebrate. He took Connor out for dinner, where Angel had a glass of red wine, and Connor had a huge plate full of Mexican food. During dinner Angel said, "I'm really proud of you Connor."

Connor swallowed and said, "Why?"

"For growing up so much the past two months. You've finished with Fred and Gunn, and I think you're all good friends now. You've overcome your hatred of all demons, and made friends with Lorne. You've done so well with your studying that you're almost able to pass your GED."

Connor grumbled, "Geometry sucks."

Angel smiled and said, "I would have to agree, but you couldn't get a better tutor then Fred."

"I guess that's true."

"You have a girlfriend, who's coming home in a couple of days."

"That part I'll celebrate."

"And in the past month you haven't gotten spanked once. A swat now and then when you aren't listening to me, and you get right back on track."

Connor's eyes darted around the restaurant, and he hissed, "Jeez Dad, do you have to say that in public?"

Angel smiled and said, "None of these people can hear as well as we can Connor. It's so loud in here with that music, most of them can't even hear the people at their own tables without yelling."

Connor shook his head and said, "Still. Let's not bring it up."

"You've also become so much better at fighting with us as a team that it's almost flawless when we go out."

"I could fight okay before."

"You could fight alone, but not very well as part of a team. But what I really wanted you to know is just that I'm so very proud of you."

Connor rolled his eyes and was completely embarrassed, "Okay Dad. You said that, and now can we please talk about something else? Please?"

Angel smiled and said, "I'm just so happy to see you happy."

"Seriously Dad. If you don't knock it off, I'm gonna go sit in the car."

"Okay, okay, I'll stop."

Just then Angel's cell phone rang. Angel answered and after a few minutes said; "Okay we're on it."

He hung up, and saw that Connor was already shoveling the last few bites into his mouth. Angel got the check and paid as they headed out to the car. Connor asked, "What's the job?"

"Vampire nest."

"Cool. Can I drive?"

Angel didn't answer right away. He still hadn't let Connor drive his car, and he thought to himself that it really was about time, even if he didn't want to. He stopped at the car held out his keys and said, "Okay but…"

Connor let out a "Woohoo!" and grabbed the keys.

Angel thought about changing his mind, but he told himself not to be such a baby as he walked to the passenger side. He patted the hood before getting in and said both to himself and to his car, "It'll be okay."

Connor who was already inside said, "Of course it will be okay. Get in."

They drove to the vampire nest without incident, and even though Angel didn't need the air, he took a big breath and sighed with relief. Connor drove them to the back of the large warehouse, and they were both surprised to see three large dock doors open in the back. They could clearly see five vampires practicing throwing knives at a dead woman who was hanging on a couple of hooks on the wall. All five vampires froze and looked at the car's headlights. Connor thought 'I can stun them all with the car, and then none of them will get away when we're trying to kill them.'

Without warning, Connor stomped on the gas, and the car lurched forward towards the five vampires. Angel had his hand on the door handle, ready to get out and fight them by hand when the car lurched forward. He thought to himself, 'Wrong peddle Connor, you want the break.'

Angel didn't have time to do anything besides yell, "Noooo!"

Then the car hit. Two of the vampires were quick enough to jump out of the way, but the other three were hit. One of the three went under the car, and the other two bumped off the hood and the windshield, which was shattered. Connor smiled and stomped on the break. He looked to the side to see the other two vampires running. He stomped on the gas again and headed for them before they got too far away. Angel finally realized Connor was doing it on purpose, and he yelled, "Stop the car right now!"

Connor didn't look over when he said, "But I can get them in a couple of seconds. The others won't be able to get up right away."

Angel growled and said, "Stop. The. Car!!!"

Connor thought his dad was being unreasonable. He knew Angel was attached to his car, but he thought killing vampires should outweigh that. He pushed his foot down on the gas so that the car lurched forward to hit one of the other two vampires, which also bounced off the hood. Angel made a noise of frustration, and put his foot over on the driver's side to hit the break, and pulled the emergency break at the same time. The car spun to a jerky stop while still revving because Connor had his foot on the gas. Connor glared at Angel and said, "What?!"

"Get Out!"

Connor tossed his hands in the air in frustration, and grabbed a stake from the glove box before he got out of the car. He ran to catch the vampire that he hadn't hit with the car. Angel sat there for a few seconds looking at his windshield and hood. Connor caught up to the vampire a couple of blocks away, and staked him from behind. He ran back to the car and saw Angel still sitting there. He yelled, "What are you doing? They're getting away!"

Connor saw that the one vampire that he had run over was still on the ground, but the other three were up and either running or limping away. He first ran to the one on the ground and killed him. The other three were going in different directions, and he didn't know which one to go after first. He yelled, "Dad, help!"

This shook Angel out of his trance, and he got out of his car and looked at the situation. Connor said, "Three left to kill. One's hurt."

Angel said, "Take the one headed to the park. I'll get the wounded one and the one headed for the ally. Meet you back here."

They both ran different directions, and in not much time had killed them all. Connor was the first back to the car, and he went to look at the woman on the wall. She wasn't much older then him. She was starring blankly. He reached up and closed her eyes. He went to the car and got an ax out of the trunk. Angel was coming back as Connor was about to cut off her head. Angel put his hand up and caught Connor's arm in mid swing. Connor looked questioningly at his dad. Angel said, "Even if she was turned, which I don't think she was, I'd rather kill her when she rises again than have her family see her in pieces."

Connor shrugged and went to put the ax back. He closed the trunk and turned to see Angel standing right behind him in his personal space. Connor was startled and took a step back. His leg hit the car, and he sat on the trunk lid. Angel leaned down so his face was right in front of Connors when he said, "The car is NOT a weapon!"

Connor rolled his eyes and said, "Get over it Dad. Your car isn't as important as killing the monsters."

Angel tossed his hands in the air, very much resembling the same gesture Connor had used a few minutes ago. He started pacing and said, "My car more important! I kill things every day! If I used my car to run them down all the time, I wouldn't have a car!"

Connor turned his upper half around to look at the front windshield and hood. He said, "So get it fixed! You said that was what insurance was for."

"Yeah for accidents Connor, not for running into things on purpose! And even if it was an accident, the insurance payments go way up with each problem. Now I'll have to pay for it myself, and it's not cheap."

"Oh…."

Angel said, "Oh?! You wrecked my car after I told you to stop…."

Angel looked over at the hood of the car and sounded close to tears when he said, "…my beautiful car…."

Angel looked back to Connor and yelled, "….and all you have to say is 'Oh'?!"

Connor looked down at the cement floor and mumbled, "Sorry?"

Angel took the step that separated them and grabbed Connor's upper arm. Connor looked up nervously and Angel said, "If you're not now, then you're gonna be."

Angel pulled Connor up, and sat himself down on the hood of his car. He tipped Connor over his lap and started spanking him hard and fast. Connor yelled, "But it's just a car! Owww!"

Angel stopped and said, "Just a car? Just a car?!"

Angel started spanking again and as he was spanking he said, "It's not JUST a car, it's MY car. You are not to use my car as a battering ram!"

It had been a while since Connor had been spanked and he was surprised again at how strong Angel was, and unhappy that Angel found it so easy to hold him down. He was also not happy that it hurt, and hurt a lot. He yelled, "Okaaayy! I won't do it again!"

Angel kept spanking and yelled, "Like I'll ever let you drive my car again!"

The spanking was painful, but Angel's comment was what made Connor start to cry. After having Angel tell him how proud he was less then an hour ago, and now to have him loose faith in him so completely hurt Connor more that the spanking did. After the first few sobs Connor was able to get out, "I'm sorry."

Angel was surprised that the tears and apologies had started so soon, and he gave Connor a few more swats before stopping. He looked down at his son, and heard him crying, and felt his anger draining. He helped Connor stand up, and stood up with him. He pulled Connor into a hug and waited for the crying to stop. After a few minutes Connor was still crying, and Angel was feeling worse and worse. Connor mumbled through his tears, "I'm really sorry Dad. Do you…..can you….forgive me?"

The last was whispered, and Angel hugged Connor tighter and said, "Of course I forgive you."

Connor's crying started to slow down, and Angel pushed Connor away from his chest so he could look into his eyes. He was surprised when Connor kept looking at the floor. Angel said, "Look at me."

Connor darted his eyes up once, and then kept looking at the floor. Angel thought this was odd and said, "What's wrong? I mean I know what's wrong, but it wasn't that bad, so what's all this about?"

Connor got angry and pushed Angel away. He walked towards the passenger side door and said, "Nothing. Let's go."

Angel went back over the past few minutes in his head, and realized what had happened. He went over to the passenger side too and said, "You drive us home."

Connor looked at Angel clearly confused. He said, "But you said…"

"I was angry, and I said something stupid. I'm sorry about it, and I didn't mean it."

Connor just kept looking at Angel. Angel put a hand on Connor's shoulder and said, "I was mad about the car, and you did deserve to get spanked, because I told you to stop and you didn't, but I should have waited a couple of minutes until I was calmer. I didn't loose faith in you, and I'm sorry that you thought I had."

Connor nodded warily and walked around to the driver's door. On the way home they stopped at a pay phone, and Angel made an anonymous phone call to tell the police about the woman in the warehouse.

The rest of the way home Angel told Connor about the way car insurance actually worked. When Angel was done Connor said, "So you have to have it, but if you end up using it, whether it's your fault or not, you get screwed."

"Pretty much."

"That's kind of evil."

"Yeah, I guess it kind of is."


The next morning the office was flooded with phone calls. There were so many odd occurrences that everyone at Angel Investigations was busy. Fred and Gunn went to check on strange noises in someone's bathroom. When they got there, instead of finding a demon or a ghost, they found rats, and lots of them. Rats came out of the sink, the toilet, and the bathtub. Gunn and Fred ran from the room and shut the door behind them. The woman who had called them was waiting in the hall and said, "What was it? Did you get it?"

Gunn said, "You need an exterminator, not an investigator."

"Exterminator?"

Fred looked sympathetically at the woman and said, "Rats."

Gunn shuddered and said, "Lots and lots of rats."

The woman looked appalled, and Fred and Gunn headed for home.

While Fred and Gunn were out, Lorne took a call from a restaurant about cockroaches. In the morning when the owner had come to work, he had found the kitchen writhing with cockroaches, and the man was sure that one of his competitors had done it to him. He wanted someone to come check it out, and find out who had done it. Wesley and Connor went to investigate. They both looked around to see any signs of forced entry, but found none, and while they were there, the cockroaches seemed to multiply. They also told the owner that he should call an exterminator.

While Connor, Wesley, Fred and Gunn were all out, Lorne got another call from a hysterical housewife. She said something about her basement floor moving. It was morning, so Angel couldn't go, and Lorne was green, so he couldn't go. Lorne told the woman he would have someone there as soon as possible. When Fred and Gunn got back, Lorne sent them right out again. When they got there Gunn shined a flashlight down on the basement floor to find hundreds of snakes. He turned to the housewife and said, "You don't need us, you need an exterminator."

She broke down into tears and said, "I called them all!"

Fred said, "What do you mean?"

"I called every single one in the phone book, and they are all out on jobs, and have more jobs lined up. I didn't know who else to call!"

Fred patted the woman's back and looked to Gunn who didn't know what to do either. Fred said, "I'm sorry, but we really can't help. You should call and get your name on a waiting list for the exterminator, and stay out of the house until one of them can come fix the problem."

By the time Wesley and Connor got back to the hotel, Lorne had taken more calls then he could remember, and had fifteen urgent jobs lined up. Angel was pacing around trying to figure out what was going on. Lorne said, "Should we send Connor and Wesley two different places since we have so many?"

Angel stopped pacing and said, "No. Something is going on, and I don't want to send anyone else out until we're all here, and we can try and find out what's going on."

Ten minutes later Gunn and Fred got back. Everyone compared notes, and Wesley and Angel both said, "It's an apocalypse." at the same time.

Connor panicked. He got very pale and felt weak in the knees. He whispered, "The apocalypse?"

Angel saw his son was distressed and said, "Not THE apocalypse….well I don't think so anyway, just AN apocalypse."

Connor looked confused. Angel said, "I've seen more than one…." Angle looked at the ground when he said, "I even tried to cause one as Angelus."

Connor still looked confused and Wesley said, "I'm sure Holtz was very….explicit about the apocalypse, but Angel is right, there's more than one creature who would like to see this world end, and a few of them have the means to actually accomplish it. Just because there is an apocalypse doesn't mean God or the Devil have a hand in it. And it's our job to stop it."

Connor slowly nodded and thought about it some more. Angel said, "So does anyone have a suggestion for our next move?"

Just then there was a loud thud on the hotel's glass door. Gunn walked over to see what it was. He opened the door and said, "It's a bird. Looks like a sparrow. It must not have seen the glass."

Both Angel and Connor said, "Close the door."

Gunn still holding the door turned around and said, "What?"

Angel yelled "Close the door!!"

Just as Gunn shut the door hundreds of birds started flying into the glass doors. The team stood and stared. Once the thudding stopped Angel said, "I have a plan. Lorne, you stay by the phone, and try to keep people calm."

Angel looked at Gunn, Fred, Wesley, and Connor and said, "You four keep investigating these calls, but don't spend much time at any one place. Just try to keep people calm, and give them common sense advice. But also keep your eyes open so we can all compare notes when we get together again. You all keep in touch by cell phones, and meet back here in two hours."

Connor said, "What are you going to do?"

"I'm going to see a girl about an apocalypse."

Connor looked annoyed and said, "What does that mean?"

Gunn leaned down and said, "Best not to ask when he gets cryptic like that. He won't tell you anyway."

Angel had already headed for the sewer entrance. Lorne got his paper and said, "Okay let's see, we have rats, rats, or spiders."

Gunn said, "No rats."

And at the same time Fred said, "No spiders."

They looked at each other and started laughing. Wesley looked away from them and said, "I'll take rats with Fred."

Gunn stopped laughing and glared at Wesley as he said, "You got something against spiders Wes?"

Wesley glared back at Gunn and said, "Not the way you seem to have a problem with rats."

Gunn said, "Connor you're with Fred. Wes and I can split up and get more done. He can take the second rat call, and I'll take the spiders."

Fred looked a little peeved and said, "Connor and I can split up too, it's not like someone has to come with me."

Both Gunn and Wesley said, "No." a little loud at the same time.

Fred looked like she was about to argue when Connor said, "I'm sure Dad wouldn't want me going out alone."

Fred scrutinized him, and when he gave her an innocent look she said, "I suppose that's true. Okay Lorne, where's the first place?"

Fred went to get the address off the counter, and Gunn leaned down to Connor and said quietly, "Thanks."

Gunn went to get his address and Wesley whispered, "That was very mature of you Connor. Thank you."

Connor whispered back, "Dad would not be happy if we left Fred alone."

Wesley nodded and went to get his address.


While the rest of the team was working full time calming the masses, Angel went to see Lilah. Lilah was having a very bad day. She was getting calls from all of the senior partners wanting to know what was happening, and she didn't have the answers. She had the very best people working on the information they had sucked out of Lorne's head, and they had been working on it for over a month with absolutely no success. Lilah didn't like failure, and the people above her liked it even less. Lilah was starting to worry for her wellbeing, and was getting a headache thinking about what was going on outside.

Lilah came back to her office from yet another large meeting where nothing was resolved. She was rubbing her temples when she heard her door shut. She turned to see Angel standing blocking her office door. She didn't have the energy for a fake smile and said, "What?"

Angel said, "Not happy to see me? Aren't you even curious how I got past your vampire detectors?"

"No, and no. What do you want? I'm busy."

Angel sauntered over to one of the office chairs and sat down. He said, "Nice apocalypse. Is it yours?"

Lilah snapped, "And what if it is?"

Angel nodded in understanding and said, "So it's not yours. Do you know who's it is?"

Lilah gave up and said, "No. Do you?"

Angel shook his head. He said, "You know Lilah, we could work together on this."

Lilah started laughing, and partly because of the stress of the day, she had a hard time stopping. Angel waited her out, and when she started to calm down he said, "I'm sure you have the best of the best working on figuring it out, but you don't have Fred or Wesley….well you HAVE Wesley, but you don't HAVE him."

Lilah was angry at that comment and said, "You've wasted a trip. Go home."

"How do your bosses feel about all this? I doubt they're happy about someone else starting an apocalypse when they've been planning theirs for years."

Lilah looked down at the papers on her desk and said, "Fine. We're pretty sure that this apocalypse is directly related to the information that we sucked out of Lorne's head. Every time one of the seers we have actually figures out what it's about, his or her head explodes before they can tell us what they've found. I'll give you copies of everything, but you have to agree to tell me if you find something out."

Angel, trying not to let it show how much it disturbed him that the things that were going on were somehow related to Lorne's reading of his son, gave her a false smile and said, "I'm sure Wesley will be happy to relay any information to you."


After he had been out working with Fred for an hour, Connor had a strange feeling. He couldn't describe what was happening to him, but he felt compelled to walk in the direction that made the feeling grow stronger. He and Fred had just finished up with a call about bats when Connor said, "This way."

Connor started walking and Fred stood by her car and said, "What?"

Connor called behind him, "We need to go this way."

Fred reluctantly followed him and said, "But we should call Lorne and see what other calls he's gotten."

Connor held up his hand for Fred to be quiet while he followed the feeling. They walked for about fifteen blocks before Fred said, "Connor honey, we should go back to the car."

Connor said, "It's very strong now."

"What's strong?"

"Don't you feel it?"

Fred looked around her and said, "That's odd."

"You feel it too?"

"No, but this place looks really familiar."

Connor turned back to Fred and said, "Don't you feel compelled to be here?"

Fred looked around and said, "No, sorry."

Connor closed his eyes and said, "I do."

Just then the earth started to shake around them. Fred lost her balance and fell to the ground. Connor barely stayed up himself. Then in the middle of the ally, a crack loudly appeared in the street. As the earth shook, the crack became wider and wider. Hot steam was coming out of the crack, and chunks of the street were falling into the ever-widening gap. Both Fred and Connor stood and stared at the hole until a large hand with claws reached out of the hole. Fred whispered, "What the hell is that?"

A second hand followed, and soon they could see a head with horns. As the creature started to rise from the hole, Connor and Fred both felt a sense of dread wash over them. When the creature was finally out of the hole, he stood seven feet tall, and looked to be made out of rock. Connor whispered, "The devil."

Fred whispered back, "A demon, a very large demon. We should go."

Connor said, "I will kill it."

Fred shook her head no but Connor was already starting to attack. Connor ran up to the demon and punched it full force in the stomach. Instead of flying across the ally, or at least falling down like Connor expected, the demon's only reaction was to look at Connor with curiosity and mild amusement. Connor's eyes registered his surprise, and Fred yelled, "Run!"

Connor glared at the demon, and punched him three times in the face as fast and as hard as he could. The demon's head barely moved each time. Connor jumped up and kicked the demon in the stomach with both his feet, and Connor ended up on the ground at the demon's hoofed feet. Fred cautiously walked the five steps to where Connor was on the ground and pulled on his shirt while saying, "Come on! We need to get the others to fight him."

While Fred was trying to pull Connor away, the demon grabbed Connor by the front of the shirt and pulled him up to see his face. Fred quickly backed away, as the demon tossed Connor across the ally and into a brick wall. Connor fell in a heap when he hit the cement floor. The demon walked towards Connor, and Connor scrambled to his feet in time for the demon to punch him in the chest, which slammed him into the brick wall again. The demon was about to hit Connor again, and then stopped in mid swing. He cocked his head to the side as if listening to something, and stepped back. The demon crouched down and jumped to the roof of the building next to them in one leap.

As soon as the demon was gone Fred rushed to Connor's side. Connor was on his hands and knees holding his stomach. He looked up at Fred, and she could see that he was drooling blood and had a nasty gash on his forehead. She said gently, "Can you walk?"

Connor took a few labored breaths and said, "In a second."

Fred got out her cell phone and called the hotel. Lorne answered and Fred said, "We have a major problem."

Lorne answered, "We have critters swarming in every inch of the city, and now you're telling me something is worse?"

Fred said, "A seven foot demon made of rock just clawed its way out of the earth and took Connor out with one punch."

Lorne said, "Took him out?"

Fred said, "He looks pretty beat up. We're fifteen blocks from our car, so could you please call Charles and Wesley to have the closest one pick us up? We're on…."

Fred looked up to the street sign and dropped her cell phone as she said, "Oh God."

Connor could hear Lorne say, "I didn't catch that. Where are you? Fred? Are you there?"

Connor looked up to Fred's face, and looked to the street sign she was staring at. He asked, "What?"

Fred turned back to Connor and whispered, "This is where you were born."

Connor looked up to the street sign and said again, "What?"

Fred pictured that rainy night in her head, and could see the small naked baby crying as the rain beat down on it. She said, "That's why it looks familiar. You were born in this ally, right over there."

Fred pointed to the hole in the street. Connor looked over to the hole with panic, and then looked back to the ground and puked. Fred noticed there was quite a bit of blood in his vomit, and looked around to find her cell phone. She told Lorne which street, and said, "Get someone here fast, we need help."

She hung up, and said to Connor, "Can you stand?"

Connor was again looking at the hole and didn't respond. Fred said, "Connor?"

Connor gave no indication that he had heard her. She stood in-between Connor and the hole and crouched down so her face would be in his line of site. She said, "Connor? Connor! You need to get up now."

Connor's eyes focused on Fred, and she said, "Can you stand?"

Connor nodded, and with her help he was able to stand. She put his arm around her shoulders to help support him and they slowly walked to the entrance of the ally. Fred looked around and pulled Connor with her to sit on the ground and wait for help. She made sure they were facing away from where the demon had appeared. She could feel Connor start to shake, and though he was probably in shock. She pulled his head down to rest on her shoulder and said, "It's gonna be okay. Someone will be here soon, and we'll go to the emergency room."

Connor shook more violently. Fred said, "I know you haven't been before, but I'll stay with you the whole time. We need to see what kind of internal injuries you have."

Connor's voice was weak when he said, "We have to kill it before it hurts someone else. If it hurts someone it will be my fault."

Fred shook her head and said, "Why would it be your fault?"

"It has to be. It appeared where I was born. I'm the bastard son of two vampires. I'm an abomination. My birth was wrong…I am wrong. My being born caused this."

Fred silently cursed herself for letting that piece of information slip out before she could stop herself. She would have told Angel, but if she hadn't been so surprised, she wouldn't have told Connor. She said, "That's a complete load of bull Connor."

Connor shook his head and said, "It's a fact."

Fred said, "No it's not. It's a fact that you were born here, and it's a fact that you're the child of two vampires, but the rest of that is crap. I saw your birth. It was beautiful Connor. It wasn't wrong, it was a miracle. Your mother sacrificed her life for yours. She staked herself so you could live. This ally may be a convergence spot for supernatural activity, but that DOESN'T mean that you are connected to that thing that came from the ground."

Connor shook his head and was about to say something else when Gunn pulled up in his truck. Gunn jumped out and looked down the ally on his way to help Connor get into the truck. On the way to the hospital Fred gave Gunn a recap of what had happened in the ally, but omitted the talk of Connor being connected to the demon.

The emergency room was overflowing with people, some with minor injuries, and some with more serious injuries. Fred filled out paperwork while Gunn sat with Connor and called Lorne to get an update.

Gunn said, "Hey Lorne, we may be here a while, the hospital is crowded."

"Okay. I'll call you as soon as Angel gets back."

"No cell phone again?"

Lorne gave a long suffering sigh and said, "If he has it, it's either off, or he's just not answering. He probably lost it again."

Gunn nodded and said, "We'll call when we get info from the doctor."


Half an hour later Angel arrived back at the hotel with a large briefcase full of papers and notes. He smiled at Lorne and said, "Wanna look at what was sucked out of your head?"

Lorne was still in a huff about trying to get in touch with Angel. He said, "Where is your cell phone?"

Angel looked surprised at Lorne's tone and reached into his coat pocket as he said, "Right here."

Lorne held out his hand and Angel gave him the phone. Lorne opened it and then showed it to Angel. Angel looked at the phone blankly and Lorne said with false calm, "It has to be ON to work, dumpling."

Angel shrugged and said, "I thought it was on."

Lorne pointed a finger at Angel and said, "I can not believe that you expect Connor to become a responsible adult when you….."

Lorne paused in mid rant, and then said, "Did you say something about what was sucked out of my head?"

Angel smiled and was relieved to skip over the impending lecture. He said, "Yes, I saw Lilah, and she agreed to work together with us on this one."

Angel held up the briefcase and said, "Want to take a look?"

Lorne said, "Yes, but later. Right now, you need to call Gunn. He's at the emergency room with Fred and Connor."

Fifteen minutes later Angel had been reassured by Fred, Gunn, and Connor himself, that Connor was going to be seen soon, and that he wasn't in any immediate danger. Angel wanted to go to the hospital to be with his son, but it was still daylight out. After he hung up, he gave Lorne a sheepish look and said, "Okay, you were right, I should have made sure it was on."

Lorne said, "The little guy's gonna be fine. Let's take our minds off it with work. I'm dying to see what was in my head."

Angel nodded and started pulling pages and pages out of the briefcase. Once there was a huge stack in front of them Lorne said, "I take that back, I would have been dying if it had stayed in my head. Literally."

Wesley walked in the door and said, "What's this."

They all worked on trying to decipher what was in front of them for the next four hours.


Three hours after arriving at the ER, Connor was getting a x-ray. Fred told the doctor she was his aunt, and they let her stay with Connor the whole time. When the doctor asked what had caused Connor's injuries Fred answered for him. She said, "We were at a ball game, and there was a swarm of bees. He got trampled while trying to get out with everyone else."

The doctor shook his head and said, "If it were any other day…."

The doctor turned to look at Connor and said, "You have three broken ribs, and a lot of bruising. We'll wrap your abdomen to help keep the ribs stable, and you will have to keep it wrapped for a few weeks. I'll write you a prescription for some pain medication, and you should stay off your feet and limit your movements as much as possible for the next two weeks. Get lots of rest, eat right, and get lots of fluids, and you should be back to normal in a month."

Connor said, "Broken? I've never been broken before. I didn't know I could be."

The doctor looked to Fred with concern and said, "Did he hit his head anywhere besides his forehead?"

Fred smiled reassuringly and said, "No, he's just….this day has just been stressful."

The doctor nodded and said, "For me too. I'll get the nurse to come in and wrap him, while I fill out a prescription for you."

"Thank you."

Fred nudged Connor's leg and Connor also said, "Thank you."


It took another half an hour to get Connor's pain medication filled, but it seemed more like a couple of hours to Fred and Gunn, because Connor argued about it the whole time. They had called Angel for an update, and once Connor had learned about Angel's visit with Lilah he was even surer that he was responsible for the demon. He told Fred and Gunn that they were wasting time waiting for medication when they could be out looking for the demon. He told them he didn't need the medication, and that he wouldn't take it. He told them that they should get back and help Angel figure out what had come out of Lorne's head. And after twenty minutes of listening to Fred try and placate Connor, Gunn decided to end it. He cut Connor off in mid whine and said, "Connor."

Connor looked over to Gunn and said, "What?"

"Stop."

"Stop what?"

"Stop arguing. We're saying until your prescription is filled. End of story."

Connor opened his mouth and said, "But…"

Gunn said, "But nothing. You've been complaining for the past half an hour, and I've had it. Angel will want you to have the medication."

Connor shook his head no, and Gunn said, "I don't want to hear one more word about it."

Connor glared at Gunn, but kept his mouth shut for the rest of the wait. On the way home Gunn dropped Fred off at her car, and they all met back at the hotel.


Gunn helped Connor walk into the hotel, and Angel rushed over to him. Connor stood and tolerated Angel checking him over. Angel pulled Connor into a gentle hug and said, "I'm so glad you're home safe."

"Me too, but we have to stop that thing, that…Beast that came up from the ground."

Angel had talked with Fred over the phone while they were waiting for Connor to be seen, and he knew that the demon had appeared where Connor was born, and that Connor felt responsible. Angel said, "We'll stop the Beast, but right now, you've been injured, and you need to rest."

Connor started to shake his head no, and Angel said, "The rest of us are going to work full time to try and figure out what the information from Lorne's head means, but not you. Tonight, you are going to have some lunch, and take your medication, and lay down for the rest of the evening."

Connor said, "I have to help. It was my singing that gave Lorne all this information. It has to be all about how me and that Beast are connected."

"No it doesn't. It could be about you and the whole team fighting the Beast, and maybe even about how to kill it. You can help us best by resting and getting back your strength."

Connor glared at Angel and said, "I feel better already. I'm sure I'll be healed in a day. I don't need to rest."

Angel glared right back at Connor and said, "That wouldn't be a lie would it?"

Connor, still angry, looked away towards the stairs and didn't respond. Angel said, "Go lie down on your bed, and I'll bring up some lunch and your medication in a few minutes."

Gunn helped Connor up the stairs and to his room. Once Connor was lying on the bed Gunn said, "Your dad's right Connor. Just rest for the night, and see how you feel tomorrow. The whole team is going to be working on this new information, so don't worry, we'll figure it out."

Connor nodded and said, "Okay….Thanks Gunn."


Ten minutes later Angel came up with a tray for Connor. He set the tray on the bed, and Connor saw soup, crackers, juice, and pills. Connor shook his head and said, "I don't want the medication. The doctor said it could make me drowsy."

Angel said, "It will be good for your body to sleep. Take them."

Connor shook his head no and said, "I should be helping you."

Angel said, "It takes about two full days for my ribs to heal, so you're going to be out of commission for at least two days, if not more. Get used to it. Eat, take your pills, and sleep."

Connor opened his mouth to argue again and Angel said, "If you think I won't spank you when you're injured, you're wrong."

Connor shook his head and said in a matter of fact way, "My injuries never stopped Holtz from whipping me, I didn't think it would stop you either. But I did think talking might change your mind."

Angel winced at the comparison to Holtz. He reached over and brushed the hair off Connor's forehead. He said quietly, "Connor, you fight much better when you're well than when you're injured. Your injuries will heal much faster if you eat, and sleep a lot in the next couple of days. You will sleep better if you are not in pain, so the medication is a good idea. Does that make sense to you?"

Connor sighed and said, "Yes. Okay, I'll take them and eat."

"Good boy."

Angel watched while Connor took the medication and started to eat. Then Angel stood and said, "I'm gonna go help the others. You stay here and rest. I'll come wake you up if we figure anything out, or have any leads."

Connor nodded and Angel went downstairs.

Once everyone was together Fred gave them all a detailed description of what had happened in the ally, and that Connor thought it was all his fault. Angel told everyone about his visit with Lilah, and showed them all the papers. Soon they were all working hard at trying to figure out what was on them.

The papers had words and phrases in so many different languages that Wesley didn't recognize them all. There were equations that Fred didn't even come close to understanding. The words, phrases, and equations were all going in different directions on the pages.

Fred spent the next four hours trying to figure some of the equations. Wesley tried to translate as much as he could. Lorne took phone calls. Angel kept one eye on the TV news to see if there were any sightings of the Beast, and at the same time he looked through the papers. Gunn went out to the jobs that seemed very urgent and full of hysterical people, and when he had down time, he looked helplessly at the papers that made no sense to him.

Gunn got back from an especially trying job, and sighed as he took a seat on the lobby couch. Angel looked up and said, "Okay everyone, how about a break. Take half an hour to do something else. Wes, why don't you order us all some take out. I'm gonna go check on Connor."

Connor was fast asleep, and Angel took the tray of empty dishes back to the kitchen and got himself some blood.

An hour later everyone had eaten and felt ready to tackle the problem again.

Around 3 AM Connor woke up hungry. He took a deep breath, and winced. He felt his ribs with his hand, and knew they were still broken. He did think they were getting better though. He slowly got out of bed and made his way down the hall. Everyone was still in the lobby looking through the papers. Angel was the first to hear him and went to help Connor down the stairs. Angel said, "Did you sleep well?"

Connor nodded. Once they were down the stairs Angel said, "How do you feel?"

"Sore. I can tell it's getting better, but it's not healed. I'm hungry."

Angel nodded and said, "I'll warm you up some food."

Connor stood and stared at all the papers, which were scattered in piles on the floor. He shook his head and followed Angel to the kitchen. After a large plate of food, and another dose of medication Angel told Connor to go back to bed. Connor could feel the food and drugs taking effect and went back to bed without much argument.

At 9AM Connor woke up again, and didn't feel quiet as bad. He was still very sore, but it was more tolerable. He went downstairs, and found everyone still in yesterday's clothes staring bug eyed at the papers. Angel said, "Morning. How do you feel?"

"Better. I'm hungry again."

Angel smiled and said, "Me too. All right everyone, let's take a break and eat, and get a few hours of sleep. Connor can take phone calls and wake us up if anything happens."

They all ate something and went to bed. Before Angel went to bed he said, "You wake me up if anything happens Connor."

Connor nodded. He felt better being able to do something to help, even if it was just answering the phone calls, which had been slowing down since 6AM.


Two hours after everyone had gone to sleep Connor was getting tired of looking at the papers that made no sense to him, and the phone calls had pretty much stopped. He was thinking about getting a snack when he looked up at the hotel doors to see Julie opening one. Julie saw him and smiled as she said, "Connor!"

Connor felt a rush of affection, happiness, and lust at the sight of her. He jumped up and went to her. He pulled her into a hug as he said, "I'm so glad you're back."

They kissed for a few minutes, and when Connor pulled back, he looked at her carefully. He said, "You smell different."

Julie laughed loudly and said, "I can't tell you how much I missed that."

Connor smiled too and said, "What?"

"Your blunt honesty."

Connor shrugged and said, "I missed everything about you."

They kissed again and this time Julie pulled back to say, "I just finished unpacking all my stuff in my new apartment, and then came to see you. I have an appointment at the registrar's office tomorrow. You wanna come see my new place?"

Connor shook his head and said, "I can't. I'm working."

Julie pouted. She said, "Okay. Maybe tomorrow then?"

"Yes. Or maybe even later today."

Connor looked around and said, "You could stay here with me for a while. I'm just answering the phone."

"Sure. That would be nice."

They had a snack together, and Julie told him what she had done since getting back to town. Connor told Julie about the strange occurrences with vermin throughout the city the past day, and about getting in a fight with the Beast.

An hour later Connor and Julie were sitting in the lobby staring at the papers together, but mostly talking about other things. Angel still half-asleep walked in and smiled when he saw Connor's smile. He said, "Julie, nice to see you again."

Julie smiled and said, "Thanks. It's good to be back again."

Angel looked at the papers all over the floor and said, "Connor, will you go start some coffee while I wake everyone up?"

"Sure."

Soon everyone was up, and had met Julie. They were all sipping on coffee and starting to look at the papers again, and Julie was trying hard not to stare openly at Lorne. After a while Angel said, "Connor, you should probably go lie down and rest again for a while, and take some more pain medication."

Connor glared at Angel for bringing it up when Julie was there. Julie turned to Connor and said, "Were you hurt when you fought with that beast thing?"

"A little."

Angel said, "His ribs are very bruised, and the doctor said he needs to get as much rest as possible for the rest of the day."

Julie stood up and said, "You should have said Connor, I'll go home and go over the list of classes I want to sign up for. You rest, and I'll see you tomorrow."

Connor stood also and said, "It's not all that bad, and I wanted to see you."

Julie smiled and kissed him in front of everyone. She said, "You rest. Call me tomorrow when you get up okay?"

Connor smiled and said, "Okay."

Julie left and Angel said, "Snack, medicine, and bed Connor."

Connor mumbled, "I just had a snack, I'm not tired, and I feel much better."

Angel said, "I'm glad you feel better, and I think you will be tired after you take your medication which you're supposed to take with food, and you'll feel better if you give your body a chance to rest."

Connor rolled his eyes and said, "Okay, okay, but you'll tell me if you have a lead right?"

"Yes."

Connor went to bed, and the rest of the team all went over what each of them had been able to translate or decipher again. An hour later everyone was feeling a little disappointed and they were ready to give up. Gunn was sitting with a stack of papers in his hand feeling useless, and wishing a call would come in. He flipped through the pages rapidly, not really looking all that closely at what was written. He stopped and did it again, and then a third time. He suddenly stood up and said loud enough for everyone to hear, "You know what? I think we're looking too close."

Fred said, "What do you mean Charles?"

Gunn held up three pages, and put them end to end, while matching up the symbols on the edge of one page with the symbols on the edge of the next page. They all understood what he was doing right away, and they cleared a spot on the lobby floor, and started to also piece the pages together like a large jigsaw puzzle. Fifteen minutes later they were done. They all stood around looking at the picture that the papers formed. It was a huge box with an X in the middle. Lorne said, "X marks the spot?"

Gunn shook his head and said, "Maybe I was wrong. Maybe this doesn't mean anything."

Wesley said, "No, you were right. It's the eye of fire."

Fred nodded and said, "Archaic symbol for fire and destruction. We should look for references"

Wesley nodded and they walked off together to look in some books. Angel went over and patted Gunn's back and said, "Good job. Thanks."


An hour after that Lorne was cleaning up all the notes from the phone calls he had received when he stopped and said, "Angelcakes, we think these calls are related to the Beast right?"

Angel said, "Yeah."

"Well maybe we should see if there's a pattern to where the phone calls came from. You know, see if there's an area where the calls are concentrated, and maybe find where Rock Beast is hiding out."

Angel nodded and said, "Good idea Lorne. Get a map and check it out."

Soon Lorne had a bunch of push pins in a map of LA, and by the time he was done pinpointing each location there was a large box with an X in the center just like the one on the lobby floor. Lorne showed it to the rest of the team and said, "I guess maybe X does mark the spot."

Angel pointed to the center of the X on the map and said, "Anyone know what's there?"

Gunn said, "I think it's a new dance club. It just opened. Sky something."

Lorne nodded and said, "That's right, its called Sky Temple. It's supposed to be the hottest new thing for the best and the brightest in Hollywood. Part of it is built on the roof so people can drink and be merry under the stars."

Wesley said, "That would be a fitting place for the apocalypse to start. It's a bed of sin, skin, and corruption, and the perfect place for the Beast to go if he want's to make a real scene."

Angel nodded and said, "Okay, it's about 3PM now, and it doesn't get dark for another four hours. None of us got much sleep last night, and we may have a serious battle on our hands tonight, so we need to rest up, but we also need to keep an eye on the club. I've been keeping my eye on the TV since I got back from Lilah's, and there hasn't been anything about the Beast yet, so I know he isn't there right now."

Angel looked at Fred and said, "Fred, you and Connor go watch the club, but keep a safe distance in case the Beast shows up. You guys call us right away if the Beast shows up, and some of us, or all of us, will come running. If the Beast doesn't show, we'll all meet you there around 7:30. If the Beast shows up when we're all there, we'll kill him. And if he's doesn't, we'll see if we can get a fix on where he is or what his plans are."

Gunn said, "I'll go with Fred."

Angel shook his head, "With Connor injured you and Wes are my best fighters. I need you rested for tonight."

Gunn looked to Fred and said, "I don't like it. Connor will run off and get himself hurt instead of calling us if the Beast shows up."

Wesley said, "I concur."

Angel shook his head again and said, "Connor feels responsible for this, and in reality, he may be connected somehow. He's going to need to be part of this to let go of that responsibility. This way he can feel that he's done his part to help even if he can't fight very well. He's still injured, and I doubt he'll be completely healed until sometime tomorrow or the next day, so I don't really want him fighting at all. But I doubt I could stop him unless I literally tie him down, and I'm not going to do that. I think if I explain that we have a better chance of beating the Beast if we all fight it together he'll see the reason in that, and he'll keep his distance until we get there."

Gunn slowly nodded and turned to Fred. "If Connor runs off to be the hero, even after we've told him not to, you have to promise me to stay out of the fight."

Fred opened her mouth to say something, but Angel beat her to it when he said, "I don't think it will come to that, but I agree with Gunn. You can bring a crossbow, and try to shoot it if Connor is getting hurt, but I don't want you to try hand to hand with the Beast at all."

Fred rolled her eyes and said, "I'm not helpless you know."

Gunn put his arm around her waist and said, "We know that, we just all worry."

Angel said, "So, we all understand the plan?"

There were nods all around, so Angel went to wake up Connor while Fred went to get a crossbow and some arrows.


Angel noticed that Connor didn't wake up when he first called his name. He thought it was a sure sign that the medication was working, and helping Connor to sleep. Angel called Connor again, and this time Connor woke with a start. Connor looked around and said, "I don't like naps in the middle of the day. They make me groggy."

Angel said, "I think that's the medication. It'll wear off. I came to tell you about a lead, and an assignment."

Connor looked a little surprised, but nodded and waited to see what Angel would say before he got too excited.

Angel explained the papers showing them the eye of fire, and the X on the map giving them a location. He described the plan, and Connor thought it was a pretty good one. Connor was tired of sleeping, and ready to get out and do something useful. He got up and started putting his shoes on. Angel said, "You understand that you are not under any circumstances supposed to try and fight that thing without the rest of us there right?"

Conner started to nod and then said, "What if the Beast gets a hold of Fred?"

Angel glared at Connor and said, "That better not happen, because you are both going to keep a safe distance."

Connor said, "Yeah, but what if?"

Angel sighed and said, "Then fight with it long enough for Fred to get away and that's it, but if that happens, you better believe I'm not going to be happy that you guys got that close before we got there."

Half an hour later Connor and Fred were sitting by the window in a restaurant across the street from the club. Fred had her binoculars so she could keep an eye on the people standing by the edge of the roof next door. Nothing unusual happened until dusk.

About ten minutes before the official sunset, Connor whispered, "The Beast. He's here."

Fred whipped her head around and looked in the direction Connor was looking, but instead of the Beast, what she saw was a person fall onto the street from the sky. The man's skull split on contact and blood splattered around it. Fred could tell the person had either jumped off the Sky Temple building, or had been thrown. She got out her cell phone and dialed the hotel. Lorne answered and Fred said, "It's here, and it's killing."

Lorne said, "We'll be right there."

As Fred hung up she saw a second person land on the street close to the first. Connor jumped up and headed for the door with a look of determination. Fred yelled, "Connor, wait! They'll be here soon."

Connor didn't stop, and Fred got up to follow as she continued, "You can't fight it on your own! You'll just end up getting hurt again, or even killed! Connor!!"

Fred had caught up to him, and put a restraining hand on his upper arm. She said, "You have to wait for them."

Connor shook his head and said, "I'm sorry Fred, I can't."

He yanked his arm away from her and started running as a third body came crashing to the ground. All Connor could think about was that it was his fault that these people were dying. He decided it would be easier to climb the side of the building, then to try and get though the crowd of people coming out. Fred watched helplessly as Connor climbed five stories in less than a minute. Fred pulled out her cell phone and called Gunn's cell. Gunn said, "Yeah?"

"Connor's gone to fight the beast. I couldn't stop him."

"Damn! We should have given you the tazer. Wesley's driving us there right now. We'll be there in fifteen minutes or less, and Angel should be there soon too, but he's going through the sewers because of the sun. Keep your distance until we get there."

"Hurry."

Fred hung up and looked up as she saw another person fall to the sidewalk.


Connor hauled himself over the edge of the building when he got to the roof. The sight that greeted him made him sick. There were bodies lying all over. At least thirty people dead, and fifteen more screaming and trying to find a way out. The roof was mostly open to the air, but it had some metal poles around the sides to hold up the glass that was fourteen feet above the rooftop to protect party goers from the rain. It also had one door that stood above the ground with four short walls and a ceiling around it, which led to the stairs. The Beast had blocked the door with a large section of what had been the bar, and he seemed to be smiling while catching one person at a time and killing them. Connor gave a feral yell and lunged himself towards the Beast. The Beast registered surprise, and then amusement. He dropped his current victim and turned towards Connor's attack.

Connor plowed his whole body into the Beast's stomach, shoulder first in an attempt to knock him down. The Beast had to take one step back, and Connor ended up falling to the ground. Connor stood up as quick as he could and started to circle the Beast. Out of the corner of his eye he could see that the person the Beast had dropped was crawling away with an obviously broken leg. Connor jumped back as the Beast swung a fist at Connor's face.

Connor took a few steps back and looked at the people who were still there. They were all standing and staring at him. He yelled, "Work together and get out!"

The Beast turned away from Connor and back to the people with a large smile. He chuckled and started towards the people. A few screamed, and others ran, but only two of them went to the large chunk of bar that was against the exit, and started to try and push it away.

Connor ran to help the man and woman who were pushing at the chunk of bar with little success. With his help, they were able to move it a few feet, which was enough to get the door open. Connor turned back towards the Beast when he heard a scream of pain. The Beast had stepped on the broken leg of the man he was killing before Connor arrived, and he also had woman by the throat in his hand.

Connor ran towards the Beast as he yelled to the people, "Run to the door!"

This time Connor jumped up and kicked the Beast's back in between the shoulder blades to try and knock him down. The Beast snapped the woman's neck, and had to take a step forward to keep his balance from Connor's blow. Connor again was the one who ended up on the floor. The Beast dropped the woman, and kept one foot on the man's broken leg while he used his other foot to kick the man's chest effectively killing him too. Connor was up again. He looked around and picked up a table and hurled it at the Beast. The Beast watched in frustration as the thirteen people left were escaping through the open door. He started walking towards it, but again was distracted by the table Connor had thrown. It bounced off him, but didn't appear to do him any damage.

The Beast gave up on the people who were now all through the open door. He turned his full attention to Connor. Now that the people were gone, Connor started to back away from the Beast. The Beast jumped up, and landed behind Connor before Connor realized what was happening. The Beast grabbed Connor by one arm and one leg. He held Connor above his head, and then tossed him into one of the metal poles. Connor's back connected with a loud clang before he slumped to the ground. The Beast walked over to Connor and lifted him again by his leg. Connor was struggling to get a few punches into the Beast's torso while he was being held upside down. The Beast then hurled him up towards the glass. Connor crashed into and then through the glass. He fell back through the hole his body had made in the glass, and he landed back on the rooftop with a large thud amid shattered glass.

Connor tried to stand back up, but the Beast was quicker than he was. Connor was picked up again and tossed, but this time he was tossed over the side of the building. Connor could feel himself falling and started to panic. Then his head hit metal and he was knocked out.

Fred had kept looking up anxiously waiting for the guys to arrive the whole time Connor had been fighting. Her breath caught in her throat when she saw Connor's form falling from the roof. Then she saw his head hit the fire escape on the third floor, which altered the direction he was falling, and he ended up landing on the floor of the fire escape attached to the second floor. Fred ran over to look up at him. She could tell he had a few cuts, and that his eyes were closed. She couldn't tell if he was breathing. She yelled up to him, but got no response. She couldn't reach the fire escape ladder from where she was, so she just stood there and waited even more anxiously for the others to arrive. It had only been five minutes since she had called them.

It was an excruciating five more minutes before Angel jumped up from the manhole in the street. It had just gotten dark. Angel ran to Fred, and then jumped up to the fire escape on the second floor. He leaned down to Connor and could tell he was still alive. He gently put a hand on Connor's back and said, "Connor? Can you hear me?"

Connor didn't respond. Angel picked him up and put him over his shoulder, the way he had carried his son many times before, and kicked the stairs so they would go down to the first floor. He carried Connor down, and lay him in a little patch of grass that was beside the building. Fred rushed over and knelt down next to Connor. Angel said, "He's knocked out, but alive. What happened? Is the Beast still here?"

Fred said, "We were in the restaurant waiting for the Beast to show up, when a person fell from the roof. Connor said it was the Beast and started to go after it. I tried to stop him, but when the next body fell, he went to fight the Beast anyway. I couldn't see anything from down here, but after about five minutes Connor was tossed from the roof, and hit his head on the fire escape before landing. I think he saved some people though, because about a minute after he landed, a group of people came running out the front door, and the stream of people coming out of that building had stopped a couple of minutes before that."

Angel hadn't taken his eyes off Connor for the whole explanation. Angel brushed the hair off Connor's forehead and saw there was a nasty cut there, along with three more on his face. Angel shook his head and said, "Too much like me."

Angel stood and finally looked at Fred when he said, "Stay with him please."

Fred looked over and saw that the rest of the team had pulled up to the building with a screech, and were getting out at a run.

Angel yelled, "You three with me! Let's go kill it."


The four men ran up the stairs and got up to the roof in no time. They all got their first look at the Beast and his destruction. The Beast had arranged the bodies in a large square around him, and he was standing in the middle chanting some language Wesley didn't recognize. The beast turned to look at them, and smiled. Lorne shivered and said, "I think I'm gonna need a bigger crossbow."

Angel attacked first with his sword, which bounced off the Beast with no apparent effect. Angel tried some punches, but the Beast punched Angel in the chest and Angel went flying back into one of the metal poles. Lorne shot three arrows at the Beast. Two of the arrows bounced off harmlessly, but the third landed in the Beast's upper chest. Gunn ran up with an ax, but the Beast grabbed the ax before Gunn could bring it down. The Beast took the ax blade in his hand and crushed it, and then pushed Gunn in the chest which sent him flying backwards to land on the floor of the roof. Wesley got out two automatic handguns and shot the Beast in the chest and head repeatedly. The Beast grunted a little as the bullets bounced off him. Once Wesley's guns were empty, he dropped them and grabbed the riffle that had been attached to his side. He cocked it, and shot the Beast point blank in the chest twice. The Beast took a step back with each shot, and then grabbed the riffle and crushed the barrel while yanking it out of Wesley's hands. Wesley also was punched and flew backwards onto the floor. Lorne ran up behind the Beast and hit him on the head with the crossbow. The Beast turned and whacked Lorne out of the way with his arm. The Beast chuckled and then Angel was back in front of him. Angel said, "I'd save the laughs. We're nowhere near done yet."

Angel started punching the Beast in the chest and head. The Beast took a couple of steps back, stumbled, and went down on one knee. Then the Beast smiled up at Angel as he pulled the remaining arrow out of his chest and plunged it into Angel's neck. Blood spurted out, and Angel made some gurgling noises as the Beast held him up by the neck with one hand. The Beast said, "Do you really think he's safe with you?"

Then the Beast hurled Angel over the side of the building. Gunn yelled, "NO!"

Gunn, Wesley, and Lorne all started to go for the Beast again, but the Beast stood in the middle of his square of bodies and punched the floor of the roof. The whole building shook and Wesley, Gunn and Lorne were all thrown back by a shock wave. All the bodies in the square caught fire, and the fire coalesced in the center of the square where the Beast stood. Then a large stream of fire pushed the Beast straight up into the sky. The three men watched in horror as the fire continued to shoot into the sky. And a few seconds later they saw small balls of fire falling from the sky. The Beast was gone, so they all limped back down to the street.

When Angel had landed on the ground, he had felt a few ribs break. He had yanked the arrow out of his neck, and then crawled over to Connor and Fred. Angel was lying there next to Connor, and Fred was sitting staring at the sky when the rest of the team came out of the building. Fred looked to Gunn who said, "The Beast flew off."

Wesley said, "Let's get back to the hotel and patch up our wounds, and decide what our next step should be."

Lorne looked up to the sky to see the fireballs still falling and said, "Our next step is panic, plain and simple."

Wesley and Lorne helped Angel to stand and got him into the car's front seat. Gunn picked up Connor and carried him to the car. Wesley and Angel rode in the front, and Connor rode in back with his upper half leaning on Gunn, and his legs resting on Fred and his feet on Lorne. The way back to the hotel took almost an hour because of all the accidents and panicked people running from the fireballs, which were causing considerable damage everywhere they fell. Half way home Connor came to. He shook his head and mumbled, "What happened."

Gunn said in his ear, "You got knocked out."

Connor turned his head around, and saw that he was basically sitting in Gunn's lap. He shook his head again and looked around the car at everyone.

Connor started to try and get off Gunn to sit on the floor. Gunn said, "Settle down. It's gonna be a long ride, and you're fine right where you are. Rest your stubborn head on my shoulder and relax. We're all beat up, and we're going back to the hotel."

Connor hurt all over and gave up the struggle. He said, "Did we win?"

Fred said, "No sweetie. We lost."

Angel's throat hadn't healed enough to talk yet, but he shook his head no. Wesley saw it and said, "It was just a setback, not a loss."

Lorne snorted a laugh and looked out the window. Gunn quietly described the whole thing to Connor while they drove back. When he heard about the fire in the sky, Connor twisted himself to look out the window, and couldn't believe it was still happening. He said, "Julie."

Gunn said, "You can call her when we get back. I'm sure she's fine."


As they walked into the hotel, they all saw a scared looking Julie sitting on the round couch in the lobby. She stood when she saw them and said, "Connor…you're hurt."

Connor smiled with relief and said, "You're not."

She shook her head and said, "I was scared…."

Julie looked out the window and shuddered. Connor said, "I'm glad you're here."

Angel covered the gaping wound on his neck with his coat, and nudged Wesley. Wesley said, "We've all just been in a loosing fight with a demon, and we need to tend to our wounds. It would be most helpful if you could go into the kitchen and make us some coffee."

Julie looked away from the window and said, "Okay."

She headed to the kitchen and Wesley said, "I'll take Angel and see if we can cover the hole on his neck."

Wesley and Angel headed to the main bathroom on the lobby floor.

Connor said, "I'll go help Julie."

Gunn stopped him and said, "Bathroom first. We need to get you patched up, and then you can see your girl. Trust me when I say you don't look so good."

Gunn and Connor headed up to the bathroom in Connor's room. Fred turned to Lorne and said, "Come on, I'll put a bandage on that gash."

Fifteen minutes later everyone was bandaged up except Fred, who didn't have any injuries. They all met back in the kitchen and said thanks to Julie as they all got some coffee and sipped it. Angel started to look Connor over when he came in the room, and Gunn said, "He has some scrapes from the glass that should heal up soon, and his 'bruised' ribs have new bruises, but the only serious wound is on his head, so no worries there."

Connor rolled his eyes and said, "Real funny."

He sat next to Julie and held her hand.

Angel felt the lump on Connor's head, and when he was satisfied that Connor wasn't nearly as injured as he himself was, he went to sit down too.

After ten minutes of silence Wesley said, "Angel and Connor sustained the worst injuries, so I suggest they both lie down and get some rest after eating something."

Angel nodded and Connor turned to Julie and was about to protest when Julie said, "If you got hurt again you should lie down. I'll be fine. I'll go back…..to my place."

Connor said, "No. I want you to stay. It's safer that way."

Connor gave Angel a pleading look, and Angel nodded again. Wesley saw the nod and said to Julie, "Yes, it probably isn't safe to try and go anywhere tonight, and the hotel has many unused rooms. You can take the room next to Connor's for the night, and go home tomorrow."

Julie looked relieved and said, "Thank you. That's very kind of all of you. I really wasn't looking forward to going home to an empty apartment."

Wesley looked again at Connor and said, "Which means you can go rest."

Connor frowned but nodded his acceptance. Wesley said, "I'm going to try again to find references to the Beast now that I've seen him."

Fred nodded and said, "I'll help."

Gunn sighed and said, "Me too."

Julie said, "I'll help too if I can."

Lorne looked directly at Angel and said, "I'll rustle up some food for everyone while you all work, and then I'll help."

Angel nodded at Lorne and stood to go lie down. Connor kissed Julie and went to lie down in his room too.

Once everyone was out of the kitchen, Lorne got some blood warm and took it to Angel so he could feed, sleep, and start healing. Then he made regular food for everyone else, and took a tray up to Connor.

Connor ate, and tried to rest, but he couldn't sleep. Eventually he stood and stared out the window feeling guilty as the fire fell from the sky.


Around midnight everyone who had been looking for information about the Beast was tired, and discouraged that they hadn't found anything. Wesley decided to stay in the hotel instead of trying to get home, and they all went up to bed. Julie went to the bedroom that they had given her, but about half an hour after everyone had gone to bed, she got up and went to Connor's door. She didn't knock, she just opened the door a crack and looked in. Connor turned from the window and smiled at her. She went to him and said, "I thought you might be asleep."

"I tried, but I couldn't."

She wrapped her arms around his neck and pushed her body to his. She said, "Come away from the window Connor. Come to bed with me."

Connor took one last look at the sky and let her lead him to the bed. He lay down, and she lay on top of him and started to kiss him. After a few minutes of that she took off her shirt. Connor said, "You're beautiful."

She smiled and tugged at his shirt. Connor winced as he put his arms up to get the shirt off, because the ribs that had started to heal were broken again. When the shirt was off Julie traced her hand around the large bruised area. She said, "That looks like you might have broken a rib. You should go see a doctor."

Connor shook his head no and said, "There are some things I haven't told you about me and my family. Some things I'm not ready to tell you yet. But I will say that the bones are broken, but they will be healed in a couple of days."

Julie pulled her hand away from him and said, "Are you like a demon or something?"

Connor looked away from her and said, "Maybe. I don't know what I am."

Julie put her hand on his face and turned him to look at her. She said, "Even if you aren't human, I know you're good."

Connor pulled her down to him and kissed her. After a few more minutes Julie sat up again and said, "Are you feeling up to anything besides kissing…I mean with broken ribs, and all those cuts, do you just want to sleep?"

Connor said, "No, I want more. Do you?"

"Yes."

Julie stood up by the side of the bed and took her jeans off while Connor worked on getting his off. She was done first and said, "Let me help."

When the pants were off, Julie lay on top of Connor again and they kissed some more. Connor suddenly stopped and said, "Wait. What about….protection?"

Julie smiled and teased, "You worried I'm gonna give you something?"

Connor didn't think it was funny, and frowned when he said, "No, I'm worried about pregnancy."

Julie looked surprised and said, "Oh, I'm taking birth control pills. Do you know what those are?"

Connor smiled and said, "Yes."

"Good, now shut up and kiss me."


The next morning Angel woke up ravenous. He went to the kitchen and drank twice the amount of blood he usually had. He cleared his throat and tried to talk, and was pleased when a, "Hello?" came out of his throat.

He was feeling much better than he had last night. He could tell his ribs were on the mend. He went to the lobby to see if anyone was up yet, but found he was the only one awake. He tried to start looking through books, but he eventually couldn't stop himself from going to check on Connor. He had been very worried about him last night, and he had dreamed about Connor being hurt, so he wanted to see for himself that his boy was all right. He walked to Connor's room and opened the door. He was shocked to see Julie and Connor asleep in each other's arms. He stood staring for a few seconds with his mouth open. Then he shook his head and closed the door quietly.

He thought, 'I shouldn't be surprised. He's eighteen, and in love. Lord knows I was younger when I lost my virginity. Even Buffy was younger when she slept with me. Damn I'm old. Is it just because he's my son that it bothers me so much? Is it because I haven't had any since Darla? Is it because I lost Buffy and Cordy? Man, it shouldn't bug me, but it does. I'll have to snap out of it, because I'm sure he's not going to want to stop, and it's really not fair of me to ask him to. God, I hope he used one of the condoms we got him. I guess I should ask him about it. I so don't want to have that kind of talk again!'

Angel paced around the lobby waiting for people to wake up.


Connor woke up hungry. He turned to see Julie beside him and decided his stomach could wait. He smiled and kissed her forehead. She stirred and opened her eyes. She mumbled, "Morning."

"Morning."

Julie sat up and said, "Oh, I should go back to my room before anyone wakes up."

Connor smiled and said, "It's okay. No one will be upset."

Julie said, "Not even your dad? Are you sure?"

"Yes."

Julie lay back down and said, "Okay then, lets just rest for a few minutes before getting up and facing the day."

Connor sat up suddenly and said, "The day."

He went to his window and looked out. He sighed with relief when he saw there was no more fireballs falling from the sky. He could see damage where some had hit, but all in all, things looked better than he had expected. He smiled as he turned around and said, "No more fire in the sky."

Julie got up and came to the window also. Julie smiled and said, "I'm so glad it's over."

Connor looked out again thinking that it wasn't over. Julie said, "Come take a shower with me."

Connor turned to watch Julie walking to the bathroom naked. He followed her.


Gunn and Fred came downstairs and saw Angel pacing. They all said their good mornings and then Fred went to make some coffee. Gunn said, "How ya feeling this morning?"

"Better."

"Good."

Angel stopped pacing and looked at Gunn. He said, "Can I ask for your opinion on something?"

"Yeah."

"Yesterday Connor went off to fight the Beast even after I told him not to, but at the same time the Beast was killing people, and Connor saved some lives by fighting it. Add that to the fact that I would have done the exact same thing, consequences be damned, and I'm at a loss as to what to do. If I spank him for doing what I told him not to do, when both he and I know that it was probably the right thing to do, and that I would have done the same thing, doesn't that make me a hypocrite? And if I don't spank him doesn't that make him more likely to go off on his own and do even more dangerous things when I tell him not to?"

Gunn sighed and thought about it for a few seconds. He said, "I'm sorry Angel. I wish I had an answer for you, or even a suggestion, but I don't. I can see the sense in both ways. I do think that you need to decide which approach you're going to take, and be confident about it before you start talking to Connor."

Fred came in with a cup of coffee for Gunn and said, "Talk to Connor about what?"

Angel knew Fred didn't like him spanking Connor ever, so he already knew what she would say about his dilemma. He said, "Nothing. Let's check the news to see what's been going on."


Fifteen minutes later Connor and Julie came down holding hands. Angel said, "Did you both sleep well?"

Connor smiled and said, "Yes."

Angel said, "Good. There's coffee in the kitchen if you want some."

Once they were both sipping coffee Angel walked over to Connor and said, "Let's see."

Connor rolled his eyes, but lifted his shirt. Angel looked at and felt the bruise where the ribs were broken. Connor groaned when Angel hit a particularly sensitive spot. Then he looked at Connor's cuts and felt the lump on his head. When he was done Angel said, "You need to eat and rest again today."

Connor sighed and said, "How about if I rest down here and help find information on the Beast?"

Angel shook his head no and said, "You can stay down here for part of the time, but you can do some tutoring, and you need to take a nap in the middle of the day."

Connor said, "Tutoring?! You've got to be kidding. We have to find a way to kill that Beast! That should be a priority. Tutoring can come after."

"I'm not kidding. We just watched the news, and there have been no new disasters since last night. We don't know where the Beast is, or how to kill it. We've all been looking for information on it for days now, and haven't found anything. What if we don't see or hear about him for a week? I'm not going to let you stop your schoolwork unless we are in crises like we were yesterday."

Connor slammed his coffee cup down and yelled, "Half the city is destroyed, and the Beast is still on the loose probably killing people! I'd call that a crises!"

Angel glared at Connor and said, "I think you need to tone it down a little."

Angel nodded it Julie's direction. Connor turned to look at her, and she was staring at Connor with surprise. Connor didn't like Julie looking at him like that. He looked down at the floor and mumbled, "Sorry."

Julie put a hand over Connor's hand and said, "I'm gonna go home."

Connor looked at her and said, "No, stay please. I want to know you're safe."

Julie shook her head and said, "I need to go see if my apartment is still standing, and I have an appointment at the registrar's office…if they're open."

"But I…."

Julie interrupted Connor with a finger to his lips and said, "You rest, and I'll come by later this afternoon when I'm done."

Julie stood up and turned to Angel when she said, "Thanks so much for letting me stay the night. It was really nice of all of you."

Angel smiled and said, "No problem. Feel free to come over any time you like."

Julie kissed Connor and surprised everyone by walking over to Angel and giving him a quick hug before walking out the door.

As soon as the front door was closed Angel looked at Connor and said, "My office."

Angel turned and walked into his office, and Connor reluctantly followed. Connor shut the door behind him as he got into the office. Angel pulled the chair from his desk around to the front and sat in it. He pointed to one of the other chairs and said, "Sit."

Connor sat and crossed his arms waiting. Angel said, "Three things we need to talk about."

Connor's eyebrows raised wondering what they could be. He was expecting Angel to talk to him and probably spank him for running off to fight the Beast, but he didn't have any guess as to what the other two things were. Angel continued, "First is I went to check on you before you were awake today."

Connor waited expectantly and when Angel didn't say anything Connor said, "And…?"

"And you had sex with Julie again."

"Yeah…..Oh, are you worried about protection?"

Angel nodded and Connor said, "She's on birth control pills."

Angel said, "But you used a condom anyway right?"

"No…..why should I? We've had sex before, so if we were going to give each other any diseases, we would have already."

Angel put his head in his hands in frustration, and wanted the conversation to be over. He said, "Okay Connor, you don't want to hear this I'm sure, but I'm gonna tell you anyway, and I want you to be quiet until I'm done."

Connor nodded and Angel said, "Julie seems like a very nice girl, and I'm happy that you've found someone, but you've only known her for a little over a month, and most of that time she's been away. Now I know you're very attached to her, and that's fine, but….some girls lie."

Connor shook his head and said, "She wouldn't…."

Angel held up his hand and said, "Quiet. Now, I don't think Julie is that kind of girl, but we don't know her well enough to trust her. I'm 98% sure that Julie is taking the pill, but what if she isn't? And you're going to like this even less, but what if she was with someone else while she was at home?"

Connor stood up and yelled, "She wasn't!!!"

"And you know this because you were with her the whole time?"

"I know because I know her!"

"I hope you are right, I really do, but I've had more experience with women then you, and I'm telling you, even a girl that seems really sweet and innocent can be plotting behind your back."

Connor paced around and stopped to glare at Angel as he said, "She's not."

Angel said, "Just use the condoms Connor. I don't care if you don't want to. Do it because I told you to. Promise me you'll use them, or I'll have the team work in shifts to watch you all night every night to make sure you don't get the chance to sleep with her again."

Connor shook his head and said, "Why are you so paranoid about this?"

"Promise me."

Connor rolled his eyes and said, "Fine. I promise I'll use the condoms. Happy?"

"Ecstatic. Now we go to issue number two. If you get out of control when Julie's around, I'll warn you to stop like I did today, but if you keep going I'll still swat you. I'll try to take you in another room, but it depends on the situation. If you're not listening, and doing something dangerous I'll swat you in front of her."

"I hate you."

"I don't think it will come to that, but I thought you should have fare warning. If I need to spank you I'll do my best to wait until she's gone."

Connor silently glared at Angel. Angel said, "And the last issue. Sit back down, and tell me about running off and fighting the Beast after I told you not to."

This was the thing Connor had been expecting. He sat back down and said, "Those people were dying, and it was my fault. I had to try and help them."

Angel nodded in understanding and said, "Think about this next question for a minute and try to answer me honestly. Would you have run off to fight the Beast if he wasn't killing people, or would you have waited for us?"

Connor looked at his shoes thinking for a few seconds. He said, "I'm pretty sure I would have waited. I knew we had a better chance of beating it with the whole team than with just me. But when that guy smashed on the street I just…..I had to see if I could help."

"And you did help. You saved some people."

Connor nodded at the floor and said, "But not very many. He killed a lot more than I saved."

"You did your best, and that's all you can do. We can't save everyone son."

To Angel's surprise he smelled tears. He bent down so he could see Connor's face instead of the top of his head. Angel said, "What's wrong?"

Between sniffs Connor said, "All those people….the people on the roof, the people that were hurt or killed because of the fireballs, the people he could be killing now…..they're all dead because of me….I….I have to stop it."

Angel reached over and pulled Connor into his lap. Connor struggled, but Angel held him there anyway. He said, "I don't know how you are connected to the Beast Connor, but I do know for a fact that it is not your fault that those people are dead. I know you would have saved every last one of them if you could have."

"What if my birth…..the birth that wasn't supposed to be….caused this somehow? Then I'm responsible for all this death."

"That's ridiculous Connor. Did you ask to be born? Did you make a conscious decision to be born? If the Beast is only here because you were born, then me and Darla are the ones to blame, not you."

Connor shook his head no and said, "You're wrong."

Angel had heard enough. He flipped Connor over on his lap as gently as possible trying to make sure not to jostle Connor's ribs and swatted him hard on the butt. Connor said, "Oowww!"

Angel gave him ten more swats, and Connor yelled, "I'm sorry I didn't wait for you before I went to fight the Beast!"

Angel stopped and said, "That's not why I'm spanking you Connor. I would have done the same thing as you. I think you made the right choice. I'm spanking you because you are stubbornly clinging to the idea that the Beast and what he does are your fault."

Angel started spanking again and Connor yelled, "It is my fault!"

"It's not, Smack and we can just stay here, Smack until I hear you tell me Smack that it's not your fault. Smack, Smack."

"But it iiiiiiss!!!"

Angel shook his head and concentrated on spanking. After the first thirty swats Connor said, "Stop! Please Dad Stop!"

"Say it Connor."

"Nooooo!"

Angel shook his head at Connor's stubbornness, and again thought Connor was too much like him for his own good. Angel kept spanking and soon Connor started to cry hard. Angel gave him ten more swats and stopped. He kept his hand on Connor's butt and said quietly, "Tell me it's not your fault Connor, and we'll be done."

Connor said nothing, and after a full minute of silence Angel started spanking again. When the spanking started again, Connor let out a yell, and then continued to cry. After fifteen swats Angel stopped again, and rubbed Connor's back when he said, "Connor, it's not your fault. You are the only one here who thinks so. Fred, Gunn, Wesley, Lorne, and I all think you are a good person, and there is no way that you could have caused that thing to be. Trust me Connor, you know that I haven't ever lied to you. It's not your fault, and you need to say it, even if you don't believe it yet."

Connor cried even harder at Angel's words, and Angel waited until Connor was calm enough to talk. When he heard that the crying was a little softer he said, "Tell me Connor."

Connor sniffed and said, "It's…..it's not my fault."

Angel patted his back and said, "Good boy. Tell me again."

"It's not my fault."

Angel turned Connor back over to sit in his lap and hugged him. Angel said, "It's true, even if you don't believe it yet."

Connor hugged Angel back fairly hard. Hard enough to make Angel wince as his ribs, which were still broken too, got squished.

After about fifteen minutes Connor was calmer and pushed himself off Angel. Angel got up and dug into one of his desk drawers. He pulled out a couple sheets of paper and a pen. He wrote at the top of one sheet, 'The Beast's actions are not my fault.'

He handed the two pages to Connor and said, "Copy that sentence for me until both sheets of paper are full front and back."

Connor looked unsure and said, "Why?"

"Because I hope it will get stuck in your head, and help you believe it."

"Seems kind of pointless to me."

"Do it anyway."

Connor sighed, "Okay."

Angel said, "I want you to go to your room and rest while you write that, and I'll bring you some breakfast, and some of that medication for your ribs. Then when you're done writing you can go find Gunn and do some history."

"You'll tell me if there are any leads right?"

"I promise."

Connor nodded and headed out the door. Angel put a hand on his shoulder and stopped him. Angel said, "I love you."

Connor nodded and said, "I know Dad."

Chapter 8


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