FAOILTACH (Wolf Storm)
By D.M. Evans
Disclaimer - All characters within belong to Mr Whedon except for Cailleach
Bheur who pretty much belongs to history. Just wanted playing with them for
a little while, all play, no profit
Rating - PG-13
Spoilers - Set between "Tomorrow" and "Deep Down"
Summary - Gunn's birthday brings some unexpected surprises
Author's Note - Thanks to SJ for all the editing. This is done in answer to
the challenge #1 at the Potential Awards
NOMINATED - Text Link to the Potential Awards
"My birthday is January 23rd," Fred said, putting candles in the small
round cake on the TV room's coffee table. "Exactly five months before
"Don't know when mine is." Connor shrugged.
"November, just a couple weeks after Halloween," Fred replied.
"Somehow that's appropriate," Gunn said, ducking Fred's playful slap.
Connor didn't catch the subtle insult.
Connor's eyes turned into blue slits. "How do you know? Father never told
"I was there when you were born." Fred smiled gently at him, almost
Connor made a noncommital noise, trying to pretend he wasn't interested. As
she lit the candles, Fred could see that he was. Connor had a voracious
appetite for knowledge but was loathe to ask questions much of the time.
She understood. It made him feel vulnerable because he didn't know anything
about this world. He had to feel like she had when she ended up in Pylea,
lost and confused. He needed his dad and he was bearing up well without
Angel; more so than she was. He had to be incredibly brave. Weeks had gone
by without a solid clue as to where Angel or Cordelia were.
Fred was losing hope, which was why Charles' little birthday party meant so
much to her. They all needed to get their minds off the chronic
disappointment. "Do you know the birthday song, Connor?"
His face screwed up. "The what?"
"Never mind." Fred launched into a reedy, high pitched version of the song
and Gunn blew out the candles when she was done. "Did you make a wish?"
"You bet. Thanks for doing this, Fred." Gunn half rose out of his chair and
"Wish?" Connor queried, poking a candle with a finger as if willing it to
tell him why it was standing in a cake.
"You make a wish as you blow out the candles,""Fred said, slicing the
cake.. "And it comes true."
"But only if you don't tell anyone what the wish was," Gunn added.
"Why?" Connor asked. "I mean, why put candles on the cake?"
"Dunno," Gunn said, his eyes lighting up at the sight of the rich reddish
cake innards. "Red velvet cake, my favorite."
Fred dropped a kiss on the top of his shaved head. "I know."
"And this is how you celebrate?" Connor pressed.
"Well, sometimes you have a big party with all your friends or you go out
and do something," Fred said. "What did Holtz used to do for your
Connor gave her a look to suggest he thought she had gone suddenly brain
dead. "Who had time for that? We were more worried about not getting eaten.
I don't even know how old I am." He sounded defiantly bitter, challenging
them to deny him his right to feel sorry for himself.
Fred took stock of him."Seventeen or eighteen maybe."
"I would have said he look fourteen or fifteen." Gunn snorted. "For his
sake, I hope he's not eighteen."
"Why?" Connor pouted, realizing he was being made fun of.
"That's becoming your favorite word." Gunn grinned. "If you're eighteen,
you're done growing and hell, since you're a hair shorter than Fred, that's
not a good thing."
Connor bristled. He understood the insult, just not why it was made. "Why?"
"Because the ladies like their men to be bigger than they are."
"Ignore him, Connor. He's a man and they never know what women want." Fred
flicked frosting at Gunn. "Some women love small, slender guys, especially
when they have pretty eyes like you do."
Gunn rolled his eyes as Connor ducked his head shyly. "I was just pulling
your chain, Connor, but given your dad's size, I would have figured you to
"Oh." Connor's pout became more pronounced. He nodded at the cake. "And
this birthday thing is supposed to be fun?"
"Well, this isn't a rocking example given half our friends are missing, but
yeah usually they're fun," Gunn said.
"Presents will make it better," Fred declared, bouncing out of the room.
"Presents?" Connor asked.
"You know, gifts? Something you give to friends and family at birthdays and
holidays and you have no idea what I'm talking about, do you?" Gunn gave a
slab of cake to Connor.
"None." He took the slice. "Thanks."
"Listen to me better than you usually do," Gunn said, his tone light to
take out the sting of the words. "I'm gonna tell you the most important
thing I'll ever tell you. When you start dating, never, ever forget a
birthday or holiday. I don't care what you have to do to your calender to
make you remember, don't forget her birthday. You can remember it for
twenty years straight but you forget once and she'll never let you live it
"I didn't know that I should have gotten you something." Connor made a
face. "What would I get?"
"Don't worry about it, kid. I'll have Fred give you gift ideas for women
because you don't want to mess that up."
"This is all too complicated." Connor shoved some cake into his mouth.
Gunn nodded. "Women are complicated."
"No, we're not," Fred said, coming back in with a box. "Men are just
Gunn frowned. "You're picking on me and it's my birthday."
"You'll live. Guess what it is." Fred gestured at the gaily wrapped box.
"Let's see." Gunn shook it and the box exploded. He dropped the torn
smoking box on the table.
"Was it supposed to do that?" Connor asked, wide eyed.
"I hope not." Gunn checked to see if he still had all his fingers.
"It wasn't supposed to go off." Fred scowled, extracting a shattered device
from the remains of the box. "I was trying to make you a stake launcher
like the one Connor came here with. Only I used a battery to give it more
"Well, it had that," Gunn said. "Glad you didn't load it when you put it in
"My launcher never exploded," Connor said superiorly, then got up, heading
"Dare I ask what he's doing?" Gunn gave Fred's hand a squeeze.
"Probably not." Her face held disappointment. "Sorry my gift exploded,
He pulled her onto his lap. "Don't worry about it. I'm sure you'll figure
out a way to make it work. Connor and Holtz did it."
"Well, the gift might have been a bust but tonight will be fun," Fred said,
"You and me nightclubbing."
"Just so we don't have to take the kid," Gunn said.
"Fred sighed. "I just feel bad leaving him behind. We're the only people he
"He's under age. He likes to be alone. He was raised in hell so he can
handle sitting around the hotel alone for a few hours." Gunn ticked off his
points of protest on his fingers.
"I know but..." Fred silenced, hearing Connor thundering down the stairs.
He had a large knife in his hand. Reversing it, he offered the handle to
Gunn. "A present."
Gunn smiled. "Thanks, Connor. You don't have to give me anything."
The boy pushed the hair out of his eyes. "I want to."
"In November, we'll have a big party for you," Fred promised him.
"Hopefully by then your Dad will be back."
Connor's broad smile wavered at that. "Cool."
"You pick up slang fast," Fred said. "It's cute."
Connor blushed as Gunn got up. "We're going out for the night, just me and
"If you don't want to be alone, we can stay," Fred added hurriedly.
Connor shook his head. "Nah, I like it quiet."
"I just worry. You're in a strange place alone." Fred gave him a one-armed
"I'm used to it. Father used to leave me alone and go hide then make me
find him. It took weeks sometimes. It was a good game. I like being alone.
I have the TV," Connor assured her, putting his plate on the table and
grabbing up the TV remote. He traded it for the DVD remote once he had the
TV turned on. He pushed the on button but nothing happened. Connor scowled,
shook it and tried again. "It's dead."
"I took the batteries out to make Gunn's new weapon," Fred said.
Gunn poked at the mess on the table. "Think the batteries are a done deal.
Connor shrugged and started surfing up and down the channels. He stopped at
something that was obviously dated.
"Ooo, that's a good movie," Fred said.
"Why's it all light like that?" Connor gestured at the washed-out picture.
"It's old, from the seventies," Gunn said."It's Willie Wonka and the
"It's an old kid's movie. It's cute," Fred said. "But it really needs
"And it shows you what happens when you don't listen to your guardians."
Gunn grinned, patting him on the shoulder. Connor stuck his tongue out at
him. Gunn laughed. "Come on, Fred, let's get ready to go."
"Have more cake, Connor. If you get hungry, you know how to order take
out," Fred said.
"I know how to forage," he replied solemnly, trying to impress on her she
didn't need to watch him constantly.
"No foraging," Gunn said. "Last time you said that, you were catching rats
by the dumpsters. That's not protein no matter what you say. You get
hungry, call the Jade Inn."
"I will." Connor slithered down on the couch, getting comfortable.
Satisfied, the lovers left him and went to change for their night out.