Chapter 11 – Skeletons in the Cupboard.

The dialogue between Angel and Connor when Connor reveals that he knows his parents' true identity, is adapted from Origins.


"Why don't you put the gun down, Wes?" Angel said quietly. He dropped his hand from Wesley's shoulder and waved Spike closer. "Put Ethan somewhere secure and uncomfortable, will you? We'll hear what he has to say later."

Spike grabbed Ethan by his collar and hauled him to his feet. "What? You mean like the very secure place you put that Pavayne bloke? You'll like him," he said turning to Ethan and grinning. He dragged the mage towards the door. "You two have a lot in common."

"Spike!" Angel warned. "We need him. Just lock him in the closet in the mailroom. There's nothing there of any help to him. Trust me," he added in response to Spike's questioning look, "I know."

As Spike left, Angel turned and faced the others. "Let's go upstairs. We've a lot to go over." He lowered his voice, glancing over his shoulder at his son. "Not here. Connor doesn't need to be in on any of this,"

"I don't?" asked Connor. "Why not? I thought this was all about me? I'm entitled to be in on it." He'd finished dressing and,, limping slightly, had edged gingerly from the sofa to stand beside Angel.

Angel looked at him and frowned. "Some of it is about you. What I want to talk about concerns them. And you need to stay here and rest." He turned to Fred. "Isn't it time for more meds?"

Fred uncurled herself and got out of the her chair, reluctant to leave the corner in which she'd chosen to make herself as inconspicuous as possible. "The doctor gave me some antibiotics. He should have those. The pain killers are as and when required," She opened the fridge and peered inside. "There's only beer and blood in here. Connor needs something to take the pills with."

"Beer's fine," said Connor .

"Oh no it's not!" Angel had a quick look around. "There's water here." He poured some into a tumbler from a jug that Spike had left beside the bed, and handed it to Connor.

Fred held out her hand. "Take these, and get back into bed. You need to get some more sleep."

Connor looked from Fred's hand to Angel and back again to Fred, his face creased in a frown. " Why are you treating me like a child? I get enough of the you need more sleep routine at home, from Mom."

Fred closed her fist and dropped her hand. "Sorry, so sorry," she mumbled. "It's just . . . " She took a deep breath, squared her shoulders and straightened her back. "Take the antibiotic capsules. Now! If you're worried about your street-cred with the rest of the testosterone gang here, leave the pain killers."

Connor reached out and took the capsules from her hand. He looked at her with new-found respect in his eyes. "Yes Ma'am." He swallowed the capsules with one gulp of water. "You're nothing like Mom. You're cool," he said, eyeing her appreciatively.

Angel stepped in between Connor and Fred. "Are you all right, Fred.You seem a little . . ."

"Fine," she snapped, coldly. "I'm - fine. I just need a little time to adjust to. . . " She searched the faces in the room, frantically. "Does everyone else remember? Am I the only one who . . . "

"The only one who what?" asked Gunn. "The only one who still thinks we're all here because we can do some good working from inside this place? Or the only one who didn't trade something important for their position?"

"Trade? What do you mean, trade?" asked Fred, shakily. "We got our positions here because we're good at what we do. Wesley?" she appealed to the ex-Watcher, "that's right, isn't it?"

Wesley sighed and put the shotgun on the desk. He looked at the ceiling for inspiration and, finding none, took hold of Fred's hands and led her back to her chair. "Fred," he said gently. "We all traded something for our places here," he paused, looking to the others for confirmation of his next words, "except for you. You took the job believing you could make a difference. Believing you could go on fighting the forces of evil even better with all the resources Wolfram and Hart has to offer. There was never anything to be gained for you personally. For the rest of us," he glanced at Angel; "there was something important to be gained that would have been lost to us if we'd refused the offer."

"You all have your memories back. Why don't I? Why am I the only one who doesn't remember?" She put a hand to her mouth to cover her trembling lip.

Angel joined Wesley at Fred's side and took her hands in his. "You don't remember because, apart from Connor, you're the only truly innocent one here," he said, softly.

"Guess that means I'm not as innocent as you think," Connor interrupted. "I know you're my father."

Angel's eyes widened and he swung round to face his son. "You got your memories back?" He looked away from Connor, and stared at the floor, unable to meet his eyes.

"Yeah, after the attack, when I realised Spike was a vampire, they started to flash in piece by piece. They're mixed in there with the new ones. Kind of like, uh... a bad dream I had, I guess, a very strange and violent, at times, inappropriately erotic...dream." Connor dropped his head and studied the same spot on the carpet that seemed to have captivated Angel.

"Then you probably do have a lot of questions."

"Told ya, I have a whole bunch of them. But not about . . . " Connor glanced at his father. "No. I don't want to make a thing about . . . I get what you did. You know... I'm grateful. That's as far as I want to take it...OK?" He looked into Angel's eyes and gave him a small smile.

"OK?" Angel breathed a sigh of relief. It was that simple. He'd spent weeks agonising about how he was going to tell Connor, and it all boiled down to an OK.

"But I do want to know about all this." Connor waved his hands in the direction of the others. "And about why I'm here at Wolfram and Hart."

"You shouldn't be," said Gunn. "Huh?"

"You should be – I don't know, somewhere else, somewhere safe, not heading for a law-court where they're out for your blood."

"Or your soul," added Wesley.

"I . . . I don't understand." Connor shook his head slowly.

"None of us do," replied Angel. "I suppose I'd better fill you in on what we've got."

Connor nodded. "It'd be a start."

"We've got leads to something from your personal files here, though which files we should look at I'm not too sure," Angel said grimacing. "There seems to be two different sets, leading in different directions and . . ."

"Bits pieced together from the scholarship papers," interrupted Wesley. "But we won't understand how it all fits together unless we get some information out of Ethan."

"I don't understand," said Fred. "How all what fits together?" Fred lifted her head and smiled nervously over Angel's head. "Maybe Lorne could help. Lorne, you could read Connor, couldn't you?"

Lorne shook his head, steadied himself on the doorframe and took another gulp from the glass he was carrying. "Oh, I don't think that would be such a good idea, Cupcake. I'm a little burned. Usually I love it. You know, folk sing, I read their futures, their auras, I see into their souls ... but I've had a little too much Copa Cabana action. I think my horns short-circuited during the all-night party that lasted all week."

Connor swung his head to where Fred had directed her attention. "Wow! Lorne! What're you doing here?"

"Been asking myself that a lot, recently, buckaroo." Lorne staggered through the door clutching an almost-empty bottle to his chest in one hand and a half-full glass in the other. He waved the glass in Angel's direction and giggled. "Angel, I've still got a head full of kidnappings, demon possession, not to mention rains of fire. I was thinking of retiring from the whole Wolfram and Hart gig, going for a quiet life with the C-list somewhere in the Arctic. Did I mention the rains of fire?" he hiccuped. "I'm not sure I could even . . ."

Angel put a comforting arm over Lorne's shoulder and gently pulled him to one side "Please, Lorne. Do this one last thing for me."

"I wish I could," Lorne groaned. He looked at the liquid in his glass. "What do you call a Sea Breeze when there weren't any cranberries or grapefruit?" He took another swig. "Neat vodka," he laughed. "So what do you call it when you couldn't find any vodka either?"

"Wes's best Lavagulin?" Spike offered. He'd been on his way back, just yards behind Lorne and watched Lorne raid Wesley's office. "Well, now the Host's here, suppose it's time for the party. You want me to retrieve our friend from the closet now? Waste of time that was," he grumbled. "Although," he pursed his lips, "on second thoughts, not too sure he's in a ShowTime kinda mood. Think I might have accidentally damaged the vocal chords a little – "What?" he raised an eyebrow as Wesley fixed him with an angry glare. "Keep your powder dry, Wyatt. He can still talk. Just sayin' he's not in the mood for a Karaoke. He's – erm – resting."

Angel sighed. "All right, Spike. Leave Ethan where he is for now." He turned to Lorne with concern. "Why can't you read Connor?

Lorne collapsed into the nearest chair and poured another drink into his glass.

"No more of that!" Angel knocked the glass out of Lorne's grip with one hand and snatched the bottle from him with the other. "I need you." He stopped and turned to the others. "I need all of you firing on all cylinders."

Lorne looked up at Angel through swollen eyelids. "You don't know what it's been like," he whimpered. "Ever since Spike mentioned Connor's name . . . ever since I got my memory back . . . They won't stop. The visions just keep coming, Angel. And they're driving me insane."

Angel wiped his hand across his mouth and gathered his thoughts. "Listen to me," he said. "There are two realities, or two time-lines . . . I'm not too sure about any of this . ., but the way I understand it, if you will hear Connor sing, if you can read his destiny, we'll know which is the reality we're meant to be in. Only you can do this, Lorne," he added at Lorne's disbelieving look. "– You can."

----------

Angel turned the lights down, leaving just one lamp to light the lyrics Connor had downloaded from the Internet. Connor glanced anxiously at his audience.

"Erm – I haven't had much experience at this," he said bashfully.

"Don't worry, kid," said Spike. "There's no way you're going to be as bad at it as your Pa. Go for it."

Connor held the lyric sheet at arm's length and began to sing.

#

I,

I will be king
And you,

You will be queen
Though nothing will drive them away
We can beat them,

Just for one day
We can be Heroes,

Just for one day

Though nothing, will keep us together
We could steal time,
Just for one day
We can be Heroes, forever and ever
What d'you say? #

Fred stirred uneasily in her chair. "Handsome man, save me from the monsters," she murmured.

Wesley watched her with concern, his own thoughts turning to Lilah.

Lorne sat, motionless, in the desk chair, staring out of the window and frowning.

Spike jumped to his feet and clapped Connor on the shoulder. "Good choice, man. Not the Bowie version, from what I just heard. Had more grit in it."

"Bowie? Who's that?" asked Connor, grinning. "Naw, got a bootlegged copy of the Pogues' cover."

Spike beamed. "Boy has taste. Same with the footy team."

"Pogues?" asked Angel. "Are they an Irish band?"

"Guess some of the background must've worn off then," said Spike.

Angel smiled at Connor proudly.

"Well, doh. My parents' surname is Riley. How much more Irish can that . . ." Connor's voice trailed off as he realised what he'd just said. He looked at Angel's crestfallen face. "Oh, God, I didn't mean . . .I just . . . " He crumpled the lyrics sheet in his hand and let it drop to the floor. "This is just a little confusing, you know."

"More than a little," agreed Lorne. He'd turned the desk chair away from Connor so that he couldn't see him while he sang and was now slumped forward clutching his head. "Angel, I need another drink. Do you think I could . . .?"

"No! No more drinks." Angel swung Lorne in his chair so that he was facing Connor once more. "Tell me what you saw. What's his destiny?"

Lorne lowered his hands and looked up into Angel's concerned face. His nose was bleeding, his eyes bloodshot and puffed. He turned his gaze to Connor. "Which one, Bubba? The one where he's fighting alongside you against the Powers that Be, defending his father? Or the one where he's fighting alone, against evil lawyers, defending the helpless? Either way, it doesn't look too good for any of us.