Author's Notes: This story takes place at the beginning of season 5 of Angel, and about three months after Season 7 of Buffy. Just a little blurb, not really a story, and probably not in character. Thanks to Number 1 Manager for the idea. Written September 2006.

Running Off

Angel sat looking at his desk. He looked like he was reading some of the papers that were in front of him, but really he was focused more on his own thoughts then anything else. He couldn't get Connor out of his head. He had made sure Connor was out of everyone else's heads, but not his own. There wasn't a day that went by that he didn't wonder if he had done the right thing. But at the end of each day he came to the same conclusion. He had done the right thing, and the only reason he kept questioning that was because he missed his son.

His thoughts were interrupted by Spike's voice coming from behind him. "Brooding?"

Angel jumped slightly and said, "Jeez Spike, don't sneak up like that."

Spike walked around to the front of Angel's desk. "Not like I can knock mate."

Spike demonstrated what they both already knew by trying to knock on Angel's desk, and having his hand go right through it.

Angel's voice showed irritation, "How's Fred doing with getting you corporeal?"

Spike shrugged. "Don't understand most of what she says."

Angel sighed. "Is there a reason you're here?"

"Bored."

"Go be bored somewhere else. I'm busy."

Spike rolled his eyes and started for Angel's office door, "Riiight."

As soon as Spike was directly in front of the door, it opened through him, and Harmony was standing nose to nose with Spike. She gave a startled little gasp and he smiled at her. Harmony looked unimpressed with his smile, and leaned over a little so she could see Angel around Spike. She said, "You have a visitor."

Angel sounded put upon as he said, "Okay."

But before the visitor could come in Spike said, "Bit?"

Angel heard a familiar voice say, "Spike? Is that really you? We…. We thought you were dead."

Angel got up from his desk and went to stand next to Spike. He saw Dawn Summers standing in the doorway. He said, "Dawn?"

She gave him a smile and went over to give him a hug. He hugged her back and said, "What are you doing here?"

Still in the hug she said, "Long story."

He let her go, and she looked at Spike. She still had conflicting emotions about Spike, but she went to give him a quick hug as well. She ended up almost falling through him. Angel steadied her. She took a few steps back wide eyed and said; "You're a ghost?"

"Not exactly. We're not quite sure what I am right now."

Angel put a hand on Dawn's back and led her over to the couch in his office. He sat down next to her and said, "So what's the reason for your visit?"

She darted her eyes over to Spike and said, "Do I have to have a reason? Maybe I just wanted to see you."

Angel raised one eyebrow. "I guess you don't have to have a reason, but you've never come just to visit before, and if you were just coming for a visit, why didn't you call first."

Dawn looked down at her lap. "Okay. The truth is I was hoping you would help me with a little problem."

Spike said, "Why don't you tell us the whole story."

"Buffy and Giles have been talking about moving to England. Giles has some family there, and the few watchers that are left have all told Giles that the Slayer is needed there. I guess there is some other hell mouth opening up or something. Willow, Xander, Faith and everyone are all excited about going, but…. I don't want to finish high school in England. It's awful there. I want to finish my senior year here. So I thought maybe I could stay here with you for a year."

Dawn looked at Angel hopefully, but she could see that he was about to say no, so she jumped in and said, "Please, I won't be any trouble at all. You'll hardly even notice me around. Please, please, please let me stay Angel."

Angel said, "I don't know Dawn, Wolfram and Hart isn't exactly the safest place, especially for a kid….."

Spike said, "How do you know school will be awful in England? You should at least give it a try, maybe you'll like it."

Dawn looked at the floor and said with conviction, "I won't."

Spike shook his head. "Buffy won't let you stay here. Might as well get used to the idea of going to England."

Dawn glared at him; "I'm not even talking to you Spike. Stay out of it."

Spike looked hurt for a second and then said with irritation, "Fine!" and walked out through Angel's door.

Angel looked at Dawn and said, "I'll have to call Buffy and talk to her about it before I make any decisions."

Dawn shook her head no. "Could I just stay here for one night first. We had a fight, and she's kind of upset. I'm sure she needs a little time to cool down."

Angel said with suspicion, "Does she even know where you are?"

Dawn looked properly shocked at the accusation, "Of course she does. I left her a note telling her I was coming here, and if she hasn't called you or come to get me, then that just means she really needs some time to calm down."

Angel thought about it and asked, "How did you get to LA?"

"I took a bus."

Angel was feeling more and more like something was out of place with this whole conversation. "How did you pay for it?"

Dawn looked away and fiddled with the hem of her jacket. She said, "I had some money put away."

Angel didn't buy it, but he let Dawn think he had. He smiled and said, "Okay, I'll show you up to my apartment, and you can have a snack and rest."

Dawn was full of excitement and she hugged Angel again as she said, "Thank you Angel. That's wonderful of you."

Angel got up and Dawn followed him to an elevator to one side of his office. They got in and Dawn said with awe, "You have your own elevator?"

Angel pushed the button to the top and said, "Yep."

A few seconds later, the elevator door opened to show a spacious apartment complete with a living room, bedroom, kitchen, and bathroom. Angel showed her around and looked in the kitchen to make sure he actually had some food in there that she could eat. Once that was done he said, "Make yourself at home. I have some more work to get done, but I'll be back up here in about two hours, and then maybe we can go out to dinner."

Dawn gave him a huge grin. "Sounds great. Thanks again Angel. This is really nice of you."

Angel left Dawn to her own devices and went back down to his office. He called Buffy's cell phone number. An anxious sounding Buffy answered, "Hello?"

Angel said, "Hi Buffy."

"Angel?"

"Is this a bad time, because I can call back if…."

"No, it's fine. I'm just stressed out right now. What did you need?"

"I mostly just wanted to double check and make sure Dawn left you a note to let you know she was coming here."

"WHAT?!!"

Angel had to take the phone away from his ear for a second because of the yelling. He heard Buffy talking to someone in the background. She said, "Dawn is in LA!"

Buffy went back to talking to Angel and said, "When did she get there? Is she okay? What did she tell you?"

Angel sighed. "I take it she didn't leave a note."

"She has been missing for three days! I've been pulling my hair out trying to find her! I don't even know how she got there!"

Angel felt bad for Buffy. He said, "Dawn got here about fifteen minutes ago. First she asked me if she could stay with me this year, because you guys were going to go to England and she didn't want to finish out her Senior year in England."

Again Buffy yelled, "What! She actually asked you if she could stay with you? Of all the…. What did you say?"

"I told her I'd have to talk to you about it, and I said I didn't think Wolfram and Hart was the best environment for a kid."

"What else did she say?"

"That the two of you had a fight, and not to call you, because you needed time to cool off. She said she left you a note telling you she was coming to see me, and that she had some money saved up for the bus ride here."

Buffy was silent for a few seconds. Then she said, "So why did you decide to call me?"

"I didn't believe her story, and wanted to double check. Sounds like it's a good thing I did. Want to tell me the real story?"

Angel could hear Buffy sitting down. She took a deep breath and said, "We've been talking about going to England for a long time now. We all had airplane tickets to go and Dawn was excited about it at first. She thought England would be cool. Giles is already there, and Xander, Willow, and Kennedy were all planning to go with. Then four days ago, the day before we left, Dawn was on the internet and looked up the school she'll be going to. She found out she'll have to wear a uniform, and that they still use corporal punishment. It showed a list of the paperwork I would have to sign as her guardian, and one of them was the consent to use corporal punishment, but it wasn't really optional, if you want your kid to go to the school you have to sign it. This was the first I'd heard about that too. That night we had a huge fight. She started out accusing me and yelling at me, and I tried to calm her down but she was being unreasonable. I lost my temper, and told her to just stay out of trouble and it wouldn't be a problem. She said she just wouldn't go. It ended with her running to her room and slamming the door. We were already packed for the trip, so I figured we would talk about it on the airplane the next day, and went to bed. She was gone in the morning."

Angel shook his head, "Were you able to get the money back on your tickets? Did everyone else go already?"

Buffy sounded close to tears; "We all stayed behind to look for her. We were able to transfer our tickets to next week, but that came with a not so small fee. But we couldn't find her anywhere. I can't believe she went to you."

"But what was she doing between then and now?"

"Probably riding a bus. We're all in Seattle Washington right now."

"Did she have some money put away?"

Buffy sounded embarrassed, "I don't know. I doubt it."

"Then how…?"

"I don't want to know. Look Angel I know it's asking a lot, but could you please keep an eye on her for me until I can get there. I'll take the first flight possible, and I should be there tomorrow."

Angel shook his head. "It's not asking a lot. You know I'd do anything to protect Dawn. I'll make sure she's here when you get here. And before you get an airplane ticket, let me talk to my people. I'm sure I can get you a flight for free."

Buffy didn't like the idea of owing Angel any more then she already did, but she really couldn't afford another ticket after having to change her original flight to Europe. "Okay….. Thanks."

Angel said, "I'll have someone call you back with the details in a few minutes."

Angel picked up his phone and called to Harmony. He told her to make flight arrangements for Buffy, and to call her with the flight information as soon as she had it.

As soon as Angel hung up the phone, a voice behind him said, "So the little bit not only went missing and worried her sister for days, but she also probably stole the money to get here."

Angel turned and saw Spike had been listening in on the conversation. "What did I say about knocking?"

Spike gave him an annoyed look. "What did I say about knocking?"

Angel gave up and said, "Buffy's pretty upset about the whole thing. We need to keep Dawn here until she picks her up."

Spike shook his head. "I thought after everything we went through with the hell mouth, that Dawn would be getting better, but it sounds like she's getting worse."

"What do you mean?"

"She used to shoplift, and she's lied to Buffy about her whereabouts more then once."

"What has Buffy done about it?"

"Mostly let Rupert handle it, and begged Dawn to be better."

Spike saw by his face that Angel didn't approve of this. Spike defended Buffy, "It's been hard on the Slayer. She lost you, her mom, Rupert moved, and then she lost me too. When most of her friends were off having a good time at college, she was trying to pay the mortgage and keep her sister under control."

Angel looked over at Spike and said, "Dawn ran away because of a fight with Buffy about her new school using corporal punishment."

Spike nodded, "I could hear Buffy's half of the conversation too. I can't believe Dawn would worry her friends and family over something like this. Seems to me that a little corporal punishment could be a good thing, and it's not the first time I've thought so."

"From what I've just heard I agree, but I somehow doubt Buffy is gonna do it."

"What about Rupert?"

Angel thought about it. "Giles probably would if he thought it was what was best for Dawn."

"What about you?"

"Me?"

"Well I would say me, since I've been around her more then you recently, and since I helped keep an eye on her when Buffy was dead, but you know I can't right now."

Angel couldn't help but think about Connor. How many times did he tell Connor he loved him? It never seemed to actually sink in. How many times did he look past Connor's mistakes instead of pointing them out and making him face them? He didn't want Buffy to have to go through the same type of thing, watching Dawn spin out of control just because she didn't have it in her to be the tough parent that Dawn seemed to be looking for. Angel slowly nodded. "I could do it."

"We could do it together. Then when the Slayer gets here to collect her sister, maybe Bit will be in a more accepting mood about England."

Angel thought about it for a few more minutes, and the more he thought about it, the more he thought Dawn would benefit from it. He sighed. "Okay, let's go get it over with."

Angel and Spike headed for the elevator. Spike said, "Buffy won't like it. When she finds out, she'll probably kick your arse."

Angel rolled his eyes. "Won't be the first time. It also won't be the first time I do what I think is best for her whether she agrees or not."

"If it works, we can tell Rupert about it. He can always threaten, even if he doesn't follow through. Although I think you're right that he could if he had to."

Angel nodded in agreement. The doors to the elevators opened, and they found Dawn on the couch eating chips and watching TV. She turned and smiled at them. "Hey guys. Done with work already?"

Angel went in, turned off the television, and stood glaring at her with his arms crossed. It took her a few seconds, but as she looked back and forth between Spike and Angel who both had similar expressions on their faces she pouted and said, "You called Buffy didn't you?"

Angel said, "You're in a lot of trouble here Dawn."

Dawn stood up and glared at him. "No thanks to you. Now I'll have to find some place else to stay."

She stared walking towards the elevators, but Angel quickly got in her way. He did his best to look intimidating and said, "You are going to sit down on the couch and listen to what we have to tell you."

Dawn wasn't scared of Angel in the least, Angelus she was scared of, but not Angel. She rolled her eyes and tried to walk around him. Angel could tell she had no respect for him as a person of authority, and decided talking could come after, because he was pretty sure she would disregard anything he said to her in her current frame of mind. Angel moved too fast for her to fight back or even realize what was happening until it was too late. He wrapped his left arm around her back and waist, and lifted her up off the ground. Her upper body was looking behind Angel at the floor, and her lower body was dangling from Angel's arm with her bottom up high right beside his hip.

Dawn flailed a little bit, and a gasp of surprise came out of her. Angel walked over to the couch, sat down, and deposited her over his lap. At this point she started fighting him, and yelled out, "You let me up right this minute!"

Angel had no trouble holding her in place. He was extremely careful not to use much force as he brought his hand down in the center of her rear end. It made a dull whacking sound as her black jeans absorbed some of the noise and some of the sharpness of the blow. He did it again, and Dawn let out an indigent screech that could have put a banshee to shame.

Angel and Spike exchanged a look at the noise level. Angel wasn't one to change his plans half way through something and continued to swat her, moving his hand around as much as possible so he didn't hit the exact same spot twice in a row. After a few seconds of the loud screeching Dawn yelled, "You have no right! You have no authority over me! Let me go God Damn it!"

Angel stopped but held Dawn in place. He said with calm, "A few minutes ago you just asked if you could stay with me for a year. I think that gives me a certain amount of authority over you. That, and the fact that I love your sister, and I've known you for seven years now. And frankly I don't like being lied to, no matter who does it, it pisses me off."

Angel started spanking again, and Dawn let out loud noises of frustration as she kicked and squirmed to try and get away. It took a couple of minutes, but Dawn eventually wore herself out. As soon as she stopped trying to get away, she realized that her butt was hurting. Angel noticed the difference right away, and thought she would be in a better frame of mind to listen to him now.

Angel stopped spanking her, and rested his hand on her lower thigh. "Are you ready to sit down and listen to us Dawn? Because I plan to keep this up until you are."

Dawn nodded and said quickly, "I'm ready to listen."

Angel picked her up and sat her back down next to him on the couch. She scooted away from him until she was sitting in the corner of the couch with her knees up by her chest, and her arms wrapped around her legs. She kept her eyes on the floor and waited to hear what Angel and Spike had to say.

Angel looked at Spike expectantly. Spike started pacing around the room while he lectured. "This latest paddy of yours really takes the cake Bit. Do you even realize how much time and money it has cost Buffy?"

Dawn felt her anger come back in full force. "Yeah, because it's always about Buffy isn't it? Doesn't matter what I want or need, as long as Buffy gets what she wants then everything is fine."

Spike shook his head. "Buffy said you were happy about going until the day before you left."

Dawn yelled, "Because she lied to me about it!"

Spike stopped pacing and said with obvious disbelief, "She lied to you?"

"She didn't say anything about uniforms or…. What kind of punishments they used at that school."

Angel raised his voice, "Because she didn't know about it, not because she was trying to hide it from you."

Dawn looked at her knees and said, "But when she found out, she treated it like nothing had changed. She was still gonna make me go there."

Spike said, "Your sister doesn't force you to do much that you don't want to do. If you had stayed and talked with her, I'm sure you two could have come up with some kind of compromise, but you didn't even give her a chance."

Dawn didn't have anything to say to that. Angel said, "Buffy has been really worried about you for days. No one went to England; they all stayed home to look for you. So I guess if this stunt of yours was a plea for attention, you got it."

"It's not a plea for attention! I just don't want to go!"

Spike shook his head. "It is a plea for attention Bit. Whether you can see it or not, that is what you're doing."

Dawn glared at him, "Screw you."

Angel had Dawn back over his knee before Spike had a chance to respond. Dawn squeaked out a noise of surprise, and Angel started swatting. As he swatted he said, "You'd best stop having an attitude."

He gave her about twenty swats before he heard her say, "Ow."

He stopped again and put her back on the couch. She scooted away from him again, and sat stiffly with her feet on the floor, and her eyes in her lap.

Spike kneeled down in front of Dawn to get her to look at him. Once she did he said, "I know you've been through a lot over the past few years Dawn. I know your life hasn't been easy. But you are making life harder on yourself as well as those around you when you do things like this. Your shoplifting, your lying, and your running away are all things that tell me you not only want more attention than your getting, but also that you want someone to keep you in check."

Dawn's eyes got wider and she shook her head no vehemently. Spike turned to Angel to see if he had anything to add. Angel said, "When Buffy gets here, we can all talk about the idea of you staying with me if you still want to. But I'm telling you right now, that staying with me will also involve corporal punishment when you mess up, so I'm thinking you probably will be better off in England."

Dawn muttered, "No way do I want to stay with you now."

Spike looked down for a minute and tried to think of the best way to phrase his next words. He looked back at Dawn and said, "Angel and I think Buffy has been too lenient with you. We think you will probably be much better off in a school that practices corporal punishment, and we plan to tell Buffy that when she gets here. We are also going to call Mr. Giles and encourage him to take a more active roll in your life for the next year or two."

Dawn looked like she was on the verge of tears, and she was still shaking her head no. Spike stood, looked to Angel, and said, "But for right now, I think a trashing is in order for running off and worrying your sister for days."

Dawn tensed up and looked ready to bolt. Angel pulled her over his lap for a third time and she wailed, "Noooooo!"

Angel brought his hand down with a little more force this time, and Dawn's whole body jerked in response. As Angel spanked her he scolded, "You ran off without telling your sister where you were going. You made everyone change their flight plans, which cost money. You made everyone worry about you for days. You were out there alone for three days riding various busses with who knows what kind of people. It was a dangerous and mean spirited thing to do Dawn, and I don't want to hear about you doing it ever again."

He wasn't sure how much of it she had heard, because she was jerking around, and her incoherent vocal complaints had turned into crying as the spanking continued. But he thought she probably got the basic idea that he was unhappy with her choices of late. He looked up at Spike, and Spike could tell without words that Angel was wondering if it was enough. Spike gave a little nod and Angel stopped. Angel picked Dawn up again, but instead of putting her on the couch, he sat her on his lap and pulled her into a hug with her head resting on his shoulder.

Both men waited quietly for Dawn to cry herself out. A few minutes later when she was down to more sniffles then all out crying Angel said with quiet authority, "When Buffy gets here, you are going to apologize to her, and then you are going to go to England without a fuss. If you try to run away before Buffy gets here, or if you don't apologize to her, I will spank you again. Do you understand me?"

Dawn's crying started up again, but she nodded her head yes. Spike said, "I hope that someday you can understand that both of us did this because we care about you, and not because we're trying to make you unhappy. We both want to see you grow up and make a happy life for yourself."

Dawn didn't reply. Angel was rubbing her back and holding her close. Angel patiently sat with Dawn for the next fifteen minutes, waiting for her to make the first move to get up. Spike stood nearby waiting as well. Dawn kept going back and forth between anger that they had spanked her, and guilt mixed with acceptance that she had deserved it. Eventually she lifted her head off Angel's shoulder, and Angel relaxed his arms around her so she could get up if she wanted.

Angel said, "Why don't you go into the bathroom and splash some cold water on your face. You'll feel better. Then I'll make you something more healthy to eat then chips."

Dawn nodded and walked into the bathroom. Once she was out of the room, Angel went into the kitchen and made some canned chicken noodle soup for her. He looked over at Spike and said, "I think you should tell Buffy."

"Why me?!"

"Because it was your idea, and…. Because if she decides to get violent about it, she can't hurt you."

Spike shook his head. "Sorry Angel. We're in this together all the way."

Angel ran his hand through his hair and tried to come up with a way to shed a positive light on what he had done. He muttered, "She's gonna kill me."

Once Dawn was eating, Angel left Spike to deal with her, and went downstairs to finish his work for the day. He checked with Harmony and found out that Buffy would be arriving in four hours. He muttered, "Great." And walked into his office.

After brooding for half an hour he decided to call Giles and give him the news first to see how he reacted. He was pleasantly surprised when Giles said he had thought about it more then once himself. By the end of the conversation Angel felt better. Once he was done with work for the day he left instructions for Harmony to send Buffy up to his apartment, and then went to see how Spike and Dawn were getting along.

He found them playing poker for pennies, with Dawn holding both hands of cards with Spike's hand away from her face. Angel rolled his eyes and said, "This is your idea of good behavior to show her?"

Spike shrugged and said, "Bit's been playing poker with me for a long time." Then he turned to Dawn and pointed to two of his cards and said, "These two."

Dawn took those out, and put two more cards in her hand facing so Spike could see them but she couldn't.

Angel left them to it and said behind him, "Buffy will be here in a couple of hours."

Spike and Dawn both winced at that for different reasons. Spike waited a few seconds and then looked Dawn in the eye. He said, "She's gonna forgive you right away when she finds out what Angel and I did."

Dawn looked down and nodded in agreement. Spike said, "Are you mad at us still?"

Dawn shook her head no and said quietly to her cards, "You were right…. It… it was wrong of me to take off like that."

"You're gonna be just fine. England can be fun. Maybe if Fred figures out how to make me solid again, I'll come see you and take you to some clubs your sister wouldn't approve of."

Dawn looked at Spike and smiled. She said, "I'd like that."

"Then it's a plan." Spike indicated the cards and said, "I call."

She put both sets of cards down and Spike groaned. Dawn pulled the pennies towards her and said, "You can't spend them anyway."

Spike smiled at her, happy to hear that she was back to some kind of normal.