Author – D. M. Evans
Feedback – firstname.lastname@example.org
Rating – PG-13
Disclaimer- Not mine. Belongs to Joss. I'm just borrowing the scrawny boy and having my way with him.
Summary – Connor deals with life in the hotel soon after he sinks Angel to the bottom of the ocean
Spoilers – Just up to 'Deep Down'
Connor shut his eyes, lying on the unfamiliar bed. He still wasn't used to such comforts. He had been sleeping in this room for a month now but it still felt foreign to him, like skin too tight over bone, cracked and raw from the winter winds. His own scent clung to the room now, finally overriding the mustiness but it still didn't feel like his territory. He hated being here but he didn't know where else to go.
"Why did you leave me, Father?" Those words bubbled past his lips, unbidden. An ache thrummed through him as they tickled his ear. "Why did you send me to him?"
Connor forced himself up off the bed, the bed that the monster masquerading as his true father had given him. He shouldn't be sleeping here. It was wrong. That creature had killed Father, bitten into a tired old man's neck and drank him up. Connor hoped Angel was awake now, that the demon could feel his hatred all the way to the bottom of the ocean.
Pacing his room, Connor scrubbed a hand through his soft hair. How much longer could he keep Gunn and Fred from finding out the truth? Thankfully, that loathsome green demon had left the hotel for good. Connor would have had to kill him otherwise and he would have been afraid to risk doing so. At least the half-demoness, Cordelia, had disappeared. He wasn't sure why Gunn and Fred were so concerned with finding either fiend. The world was a better place without them in it. He had to struggle to remember that Cordelia had done something to him, robbing him of his rightful fire. He had almost begun to like her against all reason. Yes, he was sure he was better off with her or his so-called father. Still, his guardians were determined to find both Angel and Cordy and they dragged him all over the city and then some to make him help them.
Connor didn't mind that. It was the only way he could keep tabs on what they knew. Then, alone, he'd sneak out and make sure every demon who might know something died before Gunn and Fred could learn of it. It wasn't easy but he managed it. Gunn hated him for going out alone. Gunn despised how Connor challenged his authority even more but Connor didn't see the need for having to submit to Gunn. On Quor-Toth he had been the one everyone feared. Here, he was treated like an ignorant child.
And part of him knew that he was ignorant and he hated it. He would leave this hotel, the home the vampire wanted him to have. He wanted nothing to do with it but he knew that surviving in this world was different than back home. Here he needed money for the things he wanted, for food and shelter. He couldn't just take it by force. Why hadn't Father prepared him better?
"Not his fault," Connor whispered. That was true. Father had done his best to keep Connor safe, to make sure he knew how to survive, to make him feel loved. There hadn't been time for lessons about this world. All he knew of it was he should have grown up on a ranch in Utah - how he loved listening to Father talk about it - and that his parents were demons.
Demons, the very thought made Connor's stomach churn. He could taste bile in the back of his throat. Why had God allowed such a thing? At least God had delivered him from the demons into Father's hands. For that, he was thankful.
Sorrow deeper than the Frengali caves of Quor-Toth tunneled through him when he thought of Father, of how he'd never see him again, of how he missed his smile. Connor remembered Father's hard but gentle hands as he taught Connor how to hold a weapon or block a punch; the sound of his voice as he'd tell him stories to drive away the nightmares.
Connor sat on the floor in front of the bookshelf Angel had filled for him. He needed the distraction. Connor ran a finger over the books. Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift, Tom Jones by Henry Fielding and Robinson Crusoe, Moll Flanders and Colonel Jack all by Daniel DeFoe. Daniel, that was Father's name. The books did nothing to drive away his memories. They only made Connor hate Angel more. Didn't the vampire understand that there hadn't been time to teach him how to read on Quor-Toth and where would they have gotten books at all? With a Bible and scratches in the sand, Father had taught him to read some. He never tried to write. He wasn't sure he could. Being surrounded by books he could barely read made Connor feel small and foolish. He tore one of them from the shelf and went to shred it. Reluctantly he stopped himself. If he destroyed them, Fred would surely notice. She never could keep herself out of his room, always checking on him.
Dropping the book, Connor went to the window, looking through the glass. Justine was somewhere out there. Why had she left him? Only she understood him. Only she knew what he had done and knew that it was the right thing to do. There was something about the smell of her that had been nice. Had she stayed, would she have pressed her lips to his like Sunny had? Wasn't that what men and women did? But she was gone. Had she left for Utah without him? Connor wished he knew. He couldn't leave the city until he found her again. Father would have wanted it that way.
Knowing he couldn't sleep, Connor left his room, heading downstairs. Soft laughter and odd, wet noises put him on alert. Fred and Gunn weren't asleep either. He crept down silently until he could see them without them seeing him. Yes, they were kissing again. He knew they did more than that from the sounds he heard but he wasn't sure exactly what they did. When they made those sorts of noises they were always up in their room and they usually waited until they thought he slept. Knowing those noises usually followed lots of kissing, Connor headed back for his room. He didn't want to get caught in the hall.
Gunn had caught him skulking around the hotel once. They had fought, snarling like animals at one another because Gunn had yelled at him for spying on them and Connor couldn't let that pass. He wanted badly to just shut Gunn up. All it would take was one punch but Fred was always there and in the way. He didn't want to hurt her. Father told him it wasn't proper to hurt women unless of course they were demonesses like his mother.
Connor went back to his room and thought about going out the window. He decided it was good idea so he tossed a blanket over his shoulder. He climbed out onto the window ledge. His fingers found the easy cracks and unevenness in the old bricks and he scaled the building. He liked the roof. It was quiet here. The city smelled less awful. He could almost forget it was so crowded. Father hadn't warned him that there could be so many people. They frightened him. He didn't know how to handle that.
Lying back on the blanket he had brought, Connor watched the stars. He often did that back on Quor-Toth though the sky looked nothing like this. Father yelled at him for leaving himself exposed every time. What he wouldn't give to hear Father yell at him once more. Tears, unbidden, filled his eyes and burned their way over his skin.
"Justine," he moaned. He needed so badly to tell someone about the nightmares he had most every night. He could see Father at the edge of his bed, standing there, his head tucked under his arm, staring at him. The stump of his neck pulsed with blood even though Connor knew Angel had left no blood in Father's body. Sobs tore through the boy, wracking his thin body with their force. He had cut off his father's head. He could remember the feel of his weapon as it chopped through Father's neck. In his dreams he heard the head flop off and hit ground. He remembered it rolling and Father's clouded eyes staring up at the stars. Even now, if he concentrated hard, he could scent the sickly-sweet smell of Father's funeral pyre.
"How?" he asked the stars. How did he find the strength to make sure his father would never rise as a beast? Why hadn't he let Justine do it? Father's flesh had been cool when he pressed his lips to his forehead in a final kiss. Father had lost faith in him, told him he knew Connor could never kill Angel. That had been horrible to hear. Disappointing Father always hurt but this, to fail in his life's work, to strive so hard only to be defeated at the end had nearly destroyed him. He hadn't known what to believe in and when Father had sent him to live with the monster Connor had nearly fallen to his knees to beg forgiveness, to make Father not turn him out.
Maybe Father had thought it was for the best. Maybe he hoped Connor would find the strength to do what he had to do, rid the world of a terrible demon. "I did it, Father. I punished him for what he did to you and your family," he whispered. And he had. Angel might not be dead but Connor had made good on his graveside promise. He had clung to the good. The demon was at the bottom of the ocean where he couldn't hurt anyone any more. He suffered. Connor could only hope he was suffering a lot.
The wind shifted, bringing a strange smell to Connor's sensitive nose. Somewhere something burned. Wiping his wet face, Connor gathered up his blanket and shimmied back down to his window. He crept inside. Looking at the clock, something Fred insisted he needed to do every so often, he knew he should be in bed.
But it was so hot in June. The hotel was old and didn't have air conditioning, whatever that was. Fred seemed to moan about it a lot. All Connor knew was it was too hot to sleep, even with the window open. He stripped completely and lay on top of the covers. He fished out Father's letter to read it once more. He could only trust that it was from Father. He had never seen Father write on paper but his scent clung to it. Why did he want him to live here? It hurt so much. Of course Father hadn't known he was about to die when he sent Connor away. He couldn't know Connor would betray him by trading in his name for the one the vampire had given him. He hadn't known Connor wouldn't be there in time to save him.
Feeling the tears coming on again, Connor stuffed the letter back in his bed stand lest the paper get wet. It was all he had left of Father. Thinking he heard something in the hall, he turned out his light as well. Concentrating, he did hear something. Fred and Gunn were heading up the hall. He scrambled to at least cover himself with a sheet and fake sleeping.
"You don't have to check on him, Fred. He's not a baby any more," Gunn grumbled.
"Shhh, you'll wake him. I just want to be sure he's okay."
The door creaked open. Connor could just imagine them staring at him. The door shut again and they were gone. He sighed. He could remember Father checking on him when he was little. Connor shut his eyes tight, hearing Father's voice, telling him about the ranch just like he always had before sleep. Angel's voice overrode it, begging for him not to lock him in the metal box. Eyes stared off the walls at Connor. Two sets of eyes, both of his fathers; one pleading with him not to punish him, the other soft with the release of death. Connor heard his last words to Father echoing in his head. "Sleep now, Father and forgive me."
Father slept. He was at peace. Connor knew that. He snuggled into the soft mattress. "Sleep now, Father," he whispered again, knowing full well that for him, sleep would be as hard to capture as a moonbeam.