03/14/06

A Long Time Coming


Angel sat on his bed next to an empty suitcase with a frown on his face. Having had more than enough of this, Cordelia Chase drew herself up to her full and elegant height and stood in front of him. "All right vampire I have had just about enough. You will get off of your ass and throw some really nice and hopefully designer threads in that bag or I will taser you myself, chain you to the wall downstairs and torture you."

Cordelia went to walk away when Angel's hand reached out and grabbed her pulling her down onto his lap. "And what will you wear when you are torturing me Cor?"

Unable to resist his charms she couldn't help the smile that crossed her beautiful face. "A Brunhilda costume with a dress that covers every inch of my luscious bod, a gray wig with a bun and a moustache."

Now he lightly nipped her neck. "Oh god Cordy I love it when you talk dirty to me."

She chuckled at his response. "You are not only a vampire but an honest to God pervert Angel, now stop procrastinating and pack."

She pushed herself off of his lap. "But Cordy…."

She stamped her foot. "Do not whine Angel- Connor is going to be just fine without us for a whole, entire weekend while we have grown up adult fun without him, and if I have to kick your ass to do that then that'll work too."

Within half an hour Angel came down the stairs with his packed suitcase in one hand and Cordelia in the other. Connor was sitting on the round couch and playing his gameboy and looked for all the world to Angel like a normal teen aged boy. "Connor can I talk to you in the office please?"

No one in the room missed the roll of Connor's eyes as he stood and walked into the office. Angel looked to Cordelia who gave him an encouraging smile. The vampire closed the door and motioned for his son to have a seat on the couch and then he sat down next to him.

"Now things lately have been going pretty well with us Connor. I really believe that I can trust you to continue to follow the rules while Cordy and I are gone. But I wouldn't be doing my job as your father if I didn't make you understand that bad choices will come with bad consequences understood?"

Now Connor looked to his father and sighed. "Yeah just like all the rest of the time right?"

Angel was overcome with delight that finally after all they had been through the boy was finally starting to get the idea and see the bigger picture. "Yep pretty much."

He reached over and hugged the boy and reaching for his wallet handed him some spending money and laughed when Connor's eyes got wide. "Just in case you need anything while I'm gone son."

"Hey this is great you and Cordy should go away lots more often Dad really."

Shaking his head at his sons comment he smiled again. "I'll add another twenty to that if you don't ever say that in front of Cordelia."

Everyone in the hotel lobby was surprised to see Angel and Connor return so quickly and Cordelia who had though he would be giving the boy instructions for at least an hour was particularly delighted. "Okay then it looks like we are ready to roll then."

She wrapped Connor in a huge hug and then hugged both Gunn and Fred. "Now you be a good boy for Aunt Fred and Uncle Gunn Connor!"

Even Wesley smiled when both Angel and Connor rolled their eyes at exactly the same time. Cordelia grabbed Angel's hand and placed the luggage in his other hand and they headed for the door and into the darkness. About half way there Angel turned to Cordelia and kissing her hard pulled back and asked her a question that everyone heard. "Did you bring your fake moustache?" Cordelia just laughed but everyone including Connor grimaced.

"Y'all know I just love those two but sometimes they are just icky!" Both Gunn and Wesley nodded their heads in agreement with what Fred had just said.

Within a few hours Fred had ordered pizza and they had all eaten while continuing to research. At about eleven o'clock Wesley headed for home and Gunn played video games with Connor until midnight when Fred came in and with a kiss for the boy had sent him on his way to bed. Sitting down on Gunn's lap she now kissed him. "So see this parenting thing isn't so tough we could sooo handle it."

Gunn didn't look too convinced. "Do ya remember at all last summer when Angel was doing the deep sea diving thing Fred?"

She laughed "Well thank God Connor is way better now."

"Yeah and it is only a weekend now isn't it?"

She stood up and turned off the television "C'mon Uncle Charles let's go to bed."

He smacked her playfully on the behind "right behind ya Aunt Fred."
*******************

Connor tiptoed past Fred and Gunn's room and realized with relief that no one had caught him sneaking in. He gently opened the door to his own room and closed it behind him as quietly as he could. Smiling broadly he went to sit down on his bed when the light that was on the night stand came on. "Well look whose come draggin on in, it's our boy Connor."

He found himself looking into very angry brown eyes. "Uh hey Gunn what are you doing here in my room? I just went down to the kitchen and got a snack?"

Now Gunn shook a finger in his face. "Don't play me like that Junior I know damn good and well that you were out hunting for the last oh say…four hours. I thought we told you to go to bed hours ago. And you know good and well that you aren't allowed to go out hunting alone at midnight either."

Now Connor felt his defenses kicking in. "Hey I don't have to listen to you, you aren't my father."

Now Gunn snorted "Damn good thing too cause we both know what he'd be doing about tonight you'd be checking out the tops of his boots from your position across his lap."

Suddenly Connor didn't seem so sure of himself. "Look I know I shouldn't have gone out but we don't have to tell Dad it'll just upset him."

Now Gunn shook his head. "More likely to upset you little man when he blisters your butt for you."

Both of them continued to stare at each other and it was quickly becoming a true standoff. "Okay here's the deal, I ain't gonna ruin his first trip away since you sent him on his Ahab adventure by calling and telling him that you are still dancing on that same old line. But what is gonna happen is that you are grounded until he comes home and that includes no video games of gameboy. After he has had a nice weekend then I'll tell him about this and we'll let him decide what to do with you."

Connor had a moments thought about just how just much he didn't want to end up over Angel's lap again and so he nodded in agreement. But it did make him mad when Gunn insisted he hand over the gameboy and the games for it. But if it kept Gunn happy maybe he wouldn't tell his dad and things would end all right. But he had to admit that even with the dangers of hunting by himself tonight had been fun again.

Gunn waited while Connor got ready for and into bed which again frustrated the boy but he knew better that to question it. The next morning Fred let Connor sleep in until noon which he knew Cordy and his father wouldn't have done. And while he knew that he was in trouble for last night still Gunn was being nice to him and so was Fred. He felt sort of ashamed that he had once again treated them badly. But even with all that he still had plans to sneak out again tonight for one more night of fun before his father came home again. The day went very well and for dinner Gunn and Fred took him out to a new pizza place and even allowed him to play some video games and he had a really nice time. They were walking to the truck when he turned to Gunn. "Look I had a really nice time and I'm sorry that I was so hateful to you before."

He saw a huge grin come across Gunn's face and Fred looked like she was going to cry. He was already feeling guilty about his evening's plans and he wished that he still didn't want to go. But his father had been keeping him under such a tight watch and even when they all went hunting he was forced to do as he was told. For someone who had taken care of himself and hunted when and how he wanted this was a bitter pill to swallow. Just one more night and no one would ever be the wiser. Gunn threw an arm around his shoulders and he gave serious thought to how rotten hurting him again would feel.

Since his dad had come back from the deep blue sea and started making Connor accountable he saw things very differently now than he had then. Fred, Gunn, Loren and Wesley all tried hard to let him know that they cared about him. And he felt another stab
at betraying that trust. But he had lived with Gunn and Fred for a whole summer and he knew that it was different than it was with his father. Angel had some pretty tough consequences which he hated. Gunn would just yell and Fred would cry and that would pretty much be that. And he really doubted if they would tell on him, despite what Gunn had tried to scare him with earlier. Because they wouldn't want to upset Angel and while he didn't feel good about if it he thought it was something he could live with.

So they went back to the hotel and at ten o'clock he yawned and stretched and kissing Fred on the cheek and telling Gunn good night he headed up to bed. By eleven thirty he was out on the streets and it was like pure adrenaline rush. He found and killed two vampires that were alone but that was too easy. He wanted something that was worthy of his fathers skill. He found a group of four vampires and he set about killing them one by one. It was a struggle and he fought hard and so did they. He finally watched the last of the group explode into dust and he let go with a victory yell.

It was then that he heard the sound of someone clapping. He turned and looked and there sitting on the bumper of his truck was Gunn. And as he walked towards Connor he looked about as angry as he had ever seen him. "Good job Sparky, now get your ass into the truck now."

Suddenly Connor was wondering why there was no yelling, with Gunn there was always yelling. He tried to calmly walk towards the truck and as he passed Gunn he felt him grab his arm and land two hard swats onto his behind. He looked at him with surprise and then anger. "You can't do that!"

He heard Gunn's answer and it was low and dangerous. "I just did now get your skinny ass into that truck NOW!"

Connor looked at Gunn with a new respect and wondered if he would really hit him again. He didn't think that he would and he never had in the past but his behind was aching already from just two swats. He thought maybe a change of attitude would help things and appease Gunn. He climbed into Gunn's truck and watched as a furious Gunn did the same.

"Look Gunn maybe…"

His attempt at pacifying Gunn was cut short with one solid and furious look. "Connor you need to be quiet. I will tell you when you can open up your yap again."

The boy became a little more panicked and he actually thought about opening the door and jumping out of the truck. Apparently Gunn was reading his mind too. "Do it Connor and you are gonna be one sorry little boy."

Connor listened wondering when Gunn had become so menacing, but one thing was for sure, he was dead serious. The rest of the ride home was in silence and occasionally he would glance over to the look on Gunn's face and it didn't seem as if he was getting any calmer. They arrived at the hotel and Gunn got out first and opened Connor's door and grabbed his arm walking him into the hotel. Connor tried to twist out of his hold and was rewarded with two more scorching swats on the behind.

He didn't put up a fight the rest of the way in, and once they were threw the door, Gunn planted a large palm in his back and gave him alittle shove so that he ended up almost face to face with Fred. "How could you do this? You are grounded for starters and then you know you aren't supposed to be out hunting alone and what if you got yourself killed while your dad was gone and I had to tell him oh sorry remember that son that you left with safekeeping for us well he happens to be dead now!!!"

Gunn still seemed to be in furious mode. "Got anything to say to Fred Junior?"

Connor knew that this was turning out to be bad. "I'm sorry."

He said it in the little boy soft voice that he knew Fred liked. His efforts were rewarded when he heard Gunn snort. "If you ain't now little boy you are sure as hell gonna be. Now go to your room."

He looked to Gunn as if he had lost his mind. Who did he think he was sending him to his room like he was some little kid? Unhappy at not being obeyed Gunn stepped closer to him. "Did you need some help to get started?"

Connor put both hands over his butt knowing exactly what kind of help Gunn had in mind. "No."

And Gunn's reply was to simply point at the stairs and Connor took them. Fred watched as Connor climbed the stairs and then she heard the door to his room slam. She dissolved into tears and felt Gunn wrap her in am embrace. "Why does he do that Charles? Why is it that every time it is just us and him he always has to do this?"

Gunn lifted her chin so that she was looking into his eyes. "He's testing me baby and it's about time he found out what happens when he pushes too far and too hard. Before there were so many things that he was dealing with but now Angel has done a good job with him and this is just plain old teenage rebellion and my Momma had a real fine cure for that too."

Finally Fred got the meaning of what Gunn had said and she started to shake her head from side to side. "No please Charles."

They had been so engrossed in their conversation that neither had heard Loren coming down from his room. "Don't mean to be all eavesdropper extraordinaire but Gunn is right Cupcake, Broody Junior needs to be reminded that no means no even if you really, really, really want it to mean yes. And we both know the one thing that works for Broody Senior the best."

Fred still didn't look convinced. "But Angel isn't gonna like this Charles."

"Angel asked me to take care of his son Fred, and that is just what I plan on doing. And I love you baby but this is the right thing and I'm gonna see it through."

Loren stepped in and put an arm around Fred. "You go on and do what you need to do, I will just stay here with Freddykins and keep her company. Hey Doll do we still have any Peach Schnapps left?"

Gunn walked up the stairs two at a time and tried to ignore the tears on Fred's face. This showdown with Connor had been coming for a very long time and he wasn't about to back out of it or down from it.

He got to Connor's room and hoped that he would be in there but it wouldn't matter. Cause one way or another he and Connor were going to come to a long overdue understanding. Knocking on the door he went in and found the boy standing in the center of the room looking like he wasn't quite sure what he was supposed to be doing. Gunn knew that this was actually a good sign. "Sit down on the bed we need to talk for a few minutes."

Connor did what was asked of him but looked at Gunn a mixture of fear and defiance on his face. "Now you did this last night and were grounded and then you went right back out tonight after lying to both me and Fred when you said you were going to bed. And tonight you went after even bigger fish and coulda got yourself killed."

Gunn could see the sullen expression cross Connor's face. "I did all right tonight."

Now Gunn could feel his temper rising again. "That ain't the point and you know it."

He took a moment to try and compose himself because the last thing he wanted to do was to loose his temper and start yelling. "The point is that your dad makes rules for you cause he has a better grip on what life is all about than you do. So it don't matter if you don't agree. Here in this house you follow the rules or pay the price."

Now he saw Connor roll his eyes. "So then yell, that's what you always do so go ahead."

Now Gunn chuckled at how little this boy understood. "You sure do got a hard head little boy, I ain't planning on yelling. Not tonight and not ever again."

With that Gunn knew that it was time to just get on with it and he unbuckled his belt and stripped it off. He could see Connor's eyes widen and he looked like he was in an honest panic.

"This ain't like the last time when you lived with me and Fred. Then things were so messed up and in a million pieces that I musta given you the wrong impression. In my house when you misbehave this is what's gonna happen, no different than what your dad does."

At the mention of Angel Gunn saw Connor shake his head. "He won't like this, he will be really mad that you did this, and Cordy too."

Now Gunn smiled "Please I'll be surprised if it doesn't involve a medal of some sort for me."

Gunn walked to the bed and sat down. "Come on little boy it's gonna happen and that is that."

Connor must have believed him because he made a run for the door and Gunn caught him by the waist and carried him back to the bed throwing him across his knee's and yanking his jeans down to mid thigh with Connor fighting him all the way. Although Connor had the whole super strength thing going on Gunn had good old fashioned resolve plain and simple on his side. "Stop it now Connor or the boxers will be the next thing to come down."

That must have been the last thing that the boy wanted as Gunn was surprised to feel him stop fighting and just be still. Gunn had never spanked anyone but he still knew how it went as his Momma had done the deed to him often enough. And while he didn't want to do it he knew that it worked.

He had loved Connor from the time he was born and even when he was lost and in pain Gunn had prayed with all that he had that he would pull through. And Angel and Cordy had done a good job of putting him on the right track but now that he was doing so much better Gunn knew that this was just plain old teenaged defiance and that he could fix. He raised his arm and brought the belt down hard and felt the boy stiffen. He knew that Connor would refuse to let him know that this was unpleasant and so he decided to pretty much ignore his responses and just whip the boy.

The belt kept pretty perfect time and soon Gunn could see that Connor had abandoned any hope of staying still and not crying as he was both struggling and making small sounds of distress and still Gunn continued. He didn't want to hurt the boy but at the same time he didn't want to deal with any attitude after he was done because he wasn't sure if he would get another chance to get Connor in this position. Soon the sting must have become too much and Connor was crying out and still Gunn continued. And then came the pleading and then the outright begging him to stop and the hard crying and finally Gunn knew that he had gotten through to the boy and he sat the belt down on the bed. He rubbed Connor's back for a moment feeling even worse about what was going to happen next.

He put his hand into the waistband of the boy's boxers and yanked them down. Connor apparently aware that this wasn't a good thing raised his head. "Gunn?"

The worry in his voice was inescapable but Gunn knew that this was the right choice. "That whippen was for yesterday and the day before. Now this one coming is for that whole summer that you outright lied to both Fred and me and all we did was try to take care of you and love you. This little boy, I want you to remember for a while."

Having said that he brought his hand down on the reddened bottom fifteen times hard. He did it as quickly as he could and even with knowing that the boy richly deserved it, the sound of Connor sobbing almost broke his heart. He readjusted the boys clothing and pulled him to his feet and then not quite sure what to do next he and just looked into the tear ravaged face and said, "Oh hell" and pulled the boy to sit on his lap.

He thought Connor would resist the affection but to his surprise he laid his head on Gunn's shoulder and just cried. They stayed like that for some time until Connor finally began to squirm. "Gunn I'm sorry, and not just because of what you just did either. I have felt bad about that summer for a while now."

Now Gunn sighed relieved that at least that was behind them. "That means a lot to hear you say it Connor. Now I am gonna have to tell Angel what went down here today."

Now Connor sighed. "I know and it's okay. If you didn't tell him, I probably would have to."

Gunn looked to the boy in surprise. "What? Just cause I made some stupid decisions doesn't mean I have a death wish."

Now Gunn laughed and Connor got off of his lap and they both looked uncomfortable for just a moment. "Okay then I am going back downstairs to tell Fred that I didn't kill you and you need to go to bed and I'm guessing maybe sleeping on your stomach might be something you want to consider."

Gunn was pleased to see Connor roll his eyes. He stepped to where Connor stood and as manly as he could planted a kiss on the kid's forehead and told him goodnight. He went downstairs and found that Loren and Fred had indeed found the Peach Schnapps and he told Loren goodnight and carried the little woman to bed glad as hell that he didn't have to really tell her every moment of what when on with Connor. He was feeling like crying himself and it would just be better if this conversation was saved for the morning when he was a hard ass again. He put a slightly more than tipsy Fred in bed and undressed and climbed in himself. Stacking his hands behind his head he lay in the darkness and thought about the events of the night for a while.

He and Fred had talked about having children someday and he had not really given it more than a quick thought. But for some reason watching Angel mold Connor into what Gunn knew would be a fine man someday and having had an actual hand in that Gunn felt the stirrings of some feeling that he couldn't name. While the events of the last hour had been hard, knowing that Connor had loved him enough to accept his punishment brought tears to his eyes.

"Charles are you all right?" He rolled over and pulled his beautiful woman into his arms.

"Yeah baby I am and it's all gonna be just fine go back to sleep." And to his amazement she did just that and finally so did he.

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