Angel sat silently in his office at the Hyperion hotel, his thoughts far away. His gaze flickered to the framed photographs that he had on his desk. One was the entire AI team; the second was one of Buffy and the Scoobies the night of the Prom. The photo he was focused on, however, was one of himself, cradling baby Connor, before the baby had been taken away from him by Holtz. Even now, Angel found himself shocked at how much Connor had changed, and grown, in the few months that he had been away for. Even since his return, the boy had changed so much, not just physically, but emotionally as well.
If someone had asked Angel, before Connor had been born, what his biggest regret had been, he wouldn't have known what to reply with. There were so many things he regretted, too many things to narrow down to just one, however, after Connor had been taken, he would have said, without hesitation 'not watching Connor closely enough and allowing him to be taken away.'
Now, however, the response would be different. If he was asked now what his biggest regret was, he would be able to truthfully say 'letting my anger and hunger control me the day I kicked Connor out of the Hyperion.
Three long months had passed since that day, and Angel lived in constant fear that something had happened to his son. Every night after he had finished his patrolling, and after completing any missions, he would go searching for his child. Sometimes he would be lucky, and catch a distant glimpse of the boy, but Angel was to fearful to risk going any closer, for fear of Connor sensing his presence, and doing something stupid, or Angel himself doing something he would regret later.
On other nights, Angel's search would come to naught, and he would return to the Hyperion just before the sun rose over the city, disheartened by the fruitless search.
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Connor leant back casually in the old, moth eaten chair that was inside his, for lack of a better word, apartment. The single room dwelling, located in an abandoned apartment complex, deep in the roughest neighbourhood in the entire city, was shabby, dirty, and small. Connor's bed was a single, thin mattress on the dirty floor of the room, with a few dirty, thin blankets for warmth. Although their was a small kitchenette in the apartment, The building's electricity and gas had been disconnected a long time ago, so cooking was out of the question. There was, however, water connected, but it was not a good connection, with the flow only working on some days.
Connor spent his days sleeping, or reading some of the old books that he had found in a second hand book shop that was nearby. Night time was chiefly used for hunting, as it always had been for Connor.
Of course, Connor knew he was sometimes not as alone as he should have been. He'd sensed that Angel had been nearby on a few occasions, but had been content with the vampire staying distant. He was, however getting better at avoiding the dark haired vampire as time passed.
Connor snorted to himself as he thought of the time that had past since a newly returned angel had banished him from the Hyperion. It felt, to him, anyway, that it had been so much longer than three months that ha had been alone for. In reality, Connor felt like he had been alone for even longer than that. Even before he had tried to kill Angel, he had been alone. Connor could not remember a point of time when he had not felt alone, empty, lost, or neglected, with the sole exception of a few brief moments, when he'd been living with Angel.
Connor knew that he would never again experience the absence of his feelings of loneliness and emptiness, now that he was certain that Angel hated him. How could the souled vampire not hate him, after what he had done? No, Connor was certain that his father, for he had finally come to terms with and accepted his own lineage, and the truth behind all the lies Holtz had told him.
Connor knew he was the son of two vampires, Angel and Darla, and they were gone from him, one by death, and the other by hatred.
In the privacy of his own apartment, where he knew no-one could see, or would be watching, Connor would finally allow himself to succumb to the emotions that rolled through him, within him. Self loathing, guilt, sadness, grief all were brought to the surface. Connor would cry himself to sleep every time he lay on his mattress, bitterly wondering if this was similar to what Angel went through when he regained his soul.
In the outside would, however, Connor kept his emotions tightly locked away, preferring to keep his face as neutral, unreadable, and stony, as possible to prevent any hidden signs of his inner turmoil, the gut-wrenching pain that he felt continuously, slipping out to be seen by someone he might know, especially by Angel or his friends.
He did have a reputation to uphold, after all.
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Angel strode purposefully down the darkened stet, the steely glint in his eye telling anyone he came across not to get in his way. He was obviously a man on a mission. He had already been out hunting that night, having saved two teenaged girls, who had almost reminded him of Buffy and Willow (except without the knowledge of vampires and other things that go bump in the night) while he patrolled his usual route, which included all of the cemeteries that were still in use within central LA.
Having finished his usual patrol earlier than he had planned, Angel had closed his eyes, focusing internally, on the weak, subconscious bond he shared with Connor. As far as Angel was unaware, Connor was unaware of the bond they shared (but it was difficult for Angel to know for sure)
Angel himself had felt the bond increasing in strength every day they had spent together, only for it to be completely shattered when Connor had sent him to his watery grave. Angel knew that the bond had been further damaged when he had thrown Connor out of the hotel, and was now in tatters. Now, Angel focused on the bond's shattered remains, hoping to whatever powers that were listening that he could, one day, mend the damage that had been done to it.
Through the bond, Angel was able to roughly locate his wayward son. He allowed the bond to the roughest area of LA, that someone of Connors age had no business it. Gang violence, drugs, alcohol, prostitution, and murders were all so prominent in that area of the city that Angel began to fear what condition he would find his son in. Angel tried to reason with himself that it was an obvious place for a teenaged runaway to hide out in. It was cheap, and the police had long since given up on patrolling this area of the city, meaning that they wouldn't get found and dragged back to their homes to their parents.
Angel knew another thing about this area that would attract Connor to it. There was a very high demon population in this area (which was also partially connected to the high mortality rate). Connor would not be able to resist such a target rich environment… which was a fact that strangely did not help calm Angel down much. A sudden thought came to his mind as he followed the bond. Connor lying, bloody and broken, slowly dying in one of the regions many alleyways, while a small group of demons watched on, laughing at the so called destroyer.
Angel followed the bond right into the heart of the district, to a derelict apartment complex. Angel instantly knew that this was where Connor had been living, but also knew that the boy was not in the immediate vicinity. Angel guessed that the teenager had gone hunting.
Angel's eyes misted over as he thought of Connor having such derelict living conditions, before he pushed the thought aside, blinking away the tears that had dared to creep into his eyes. Having made a mental note of the apartments address, Angel began to search for the most recent trail of Connor's scent that lead away from the building.
Once Angel had found the most recent trail of Connor's scent that lead away from the building, which Angel was sure Connor had made earlier that evening, he set out and followed it. He inwardly cringed as Connors path sent him through many alleyways that would definitely be places that Vampires would find appealing. He didn't see any Vampires though, and there was no sign that there had been any in the area that night, as Angel couldn't see, or smell, any dead bodies. Angel hurried along the scent trail, hoping to at least catch a glimpse of his wayward son before returning to the Hyperion Hotel.
Angel was rewarded for his efforts about half an hour later, when he spotted Connor in the distance, ducking into another Alleyway. Keeping his son's enhanced senses in mind, Angel slowly dew closer, cautiously glancing into the alleyway. What he saw there made his heart stop, well; it would of, had his heart been beating.
Connor was fighting two large vampires at the same time. The teenager was dwarfed by the two creatures of the night, but Angel could see who would be the one who walked away from the fight. Connor was, by far, the superior fighter. Angel felt pride at his son's skill well up within him as Connor staked the vampires one after the other. The teenager looked up, and Angel froze, inwardly cursing himself for lingering. While he had been fighting, Connor had been too busy to pay attention to what was in his immediate surroundings, other than the two vampires, but now that they had been dealt with, he would be able to sense Angel's presence. Connor turned and met his father's gaze, and Angel flinched as he saw what dwelt within the deep blue orbs. All the hate, anger, sadness, fear, resentment, and deep down, regret and guilt. Angel felt a fluttering of hope within him.
"Hello, Connor," Angel said. Connor took a few steps in Angel's direction, but kept his distance at the same time, his eyes never leaving Angel's.
"Hello, Angel. Still stalking me, I see." Connor's voice was quiet, but cold at the same time.
"I'm just checking up on you, Connor. I don't want you hurt."
"What, just so you can be the one to hurt me? Do you not like sharing those you hurt with other demons?"
Angel could hear the sadness in the teenager's voice, "I was angry and starving, I didn't mean it." Angel defended himself. Connor shrugged
"What ever, I don't care. Just, just stay the hell away from me, Ok?"
"Just go away" Connor yelled, turning his back and running down the Alleyway. He jumped over a wire fence, before swinging himself up onto a fire escape, and climbing up, until he disappeared onto the rooftops/ Angel knew better than to follow him, so he turned his back on the Alleyway, and walked slowly back to the Hyperion, his back bowed in dejection.
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Connor yelled in frustration, throwing his worn and tattered jacket across the room as he entered his apartment. He picked up a chair and hurled it angrily, before punching at the plaster wall. His fist made a clean hole in the wall, and cracked the concrete wall that lay beyond it. Connor howled in pain and clutched at his bloodied hand, rearing back from the wall. Blood seeped through the gashes that marred his skin, left in his skin by the wall, and Connor sank to his knees, tears of pain replacing the anger and frustration upon his face. He surrendered to his emotions and broke down, kneeling on the cold, concrete floor of the apartment, feeling with his entire body that he was alone in a harsh, uncaring world.
A sudden thought came to Connor, and he brushed it aside, just like he had done every other time he'd had the same though since he had sent Angel to the bottom of the ocean, but then, for the fist time, he had a second thought about it. The thought, the idea, had its merits and it would be so easy for him to do. No one would have to know until afterwards, when it would be too late. Connor knew it would go against everything that Holtz had ever taught him, but then, Connor now knew that Holtz had never truly cared about him, only his undying need to seek revenge against Angel(us).
No one would care, Connor reasoned, it would be a shock to some at first, like his father, but they would all, essentially be better off. Connor nodded, resolved, though tears still streamed down his cheeks.
It would was for the best, for everyone.