Disclaimer: I do not own Angel or any of its characters.
Warnings: Mentions of child abuse, sexual abuse, and self-harm.
It's not like I'm actually going to do it. Connor told himself as he stared, fixated at the kitchen knife held tightly in his hand. Did he think about it? Obviously. Was he going to do it? No. It was just hard sometimes… It was hard to look around at things that were supposed to be normal, and the only thing he could think about was how he could use them to hurt himself; how it could make him bleed.
But he was not going to do it.
Connor exhaled softly, his grip loosening on the knife's handle. He blinked a few times as if to clear away his troubled thoughts, and he brought the knife back up to the cutting board and continued to slice the tomato for his sandwich.
Finally done with the knife, he threw it in the sink as if touching it burnt his flesh.
Connor walked out of the kitchen with a turkey sandwich, and a sense of pride in himself.
Things were different from how Connor thought they'd be…
When he climbed through that portal, when he escaped from that hell, he never imagined that things would be this way. He never expected things to be so… normal.
It wasn't bad, Connor decided. It just wasn't what he was used to.
Switching to an 8B graphite pencil, he started to go over the sketch he had drawn. It was him when he was little, maybe six years old, and he looked up, smiling, at the person holding his hand. That person was Angel.
Sighing, Connor paused, his hand hovering thoughtfully above the paper. He wished he had real pictures of him and his dad like this, but he didn't. How could he? Angel didn't raise him. Daniel did.
A fine job he did, too. He thought bitterly. He was just a perfect example of stability and sanity.
"What you got there?"
Connor's head snapped up at the sound of Spike's voice, the vampire startling him out of his thoughts. Flipping the sketch book shut he quickly replied, "Nothing."
Spike merely raised an eyebrow at him as he walked further into the room. "You sure?"
Connor smiled slightly, relaxing against the headboard of his bed. "Yeah."
"What?" Connor asked as Spike sat down beside him.
"I dunno," Spike said, his hands inching towards Connor's book. "It seems to me like you're hiding something."
Connor rolled his eyes. "Well, Spike, whatever could I have to hide?"
"You little shit," Spike said good-naturedly. Snatching up the sketchbook before Connor could react; he flipped to the most recent page. "Wow…" He murmured, eyes roving over every inch of the drawing. He was surprised at how realistic it looked, how much like a photograph. Connor had only been drawing for a few months and he was already this good. You couldn't learn something like that. Spike thought. No, that was shear talent.
"It's not finished yet," Connor said, fiddling with the bed sheets nervously. "It'll look better once it's finished." It always made him nervous when someone looked at his sketches. He worried that they wouldn't like them, or that they would find them odd. Because honestly, most of his drawings were. They were hectic, and sometimes gory. Just like Connor.
"What are you talking about?" Spike asked, his eyebrows high on his forehead. "It's perfect the way it is."
Connor was blushing, he could tell by the flushed feeling creeping up his neck and to his face. "It's not perfect… It's not even done yet."
"Well, fine, pup. If you say it's not perfect then it's not perfect."
"Thanks… I think."
Spike grinned. "No problem."
"…You're weird, Spike."
Spike made an indignant noise in the back of his throat. Pointing to Connor he said, "Pot," then gestured to himself. "Kettle."
"I know," Connor sighed, rolling his eyes. He was definitely the weirdest one in his family. The black sheep, more like… He thought.
"Could you…" Connor cut himself off, gnawing on his bottom lip lightly. "Could you not tell Angel about that picture?"
Spike looked up from the drawing, confusion written clearly across his face. "Sure… Do you want to tell me why, though?"
Connor shook his head. "Not really."
Spike nodded in understanding before he began to flip through different pages of Connor's book.
Connor side-eyed Spike, as he made a conscious attempt to stop fidgeting. "Will you… Will you get me a pack of cigarettes?"
Spike just stared.
He stared and, he stared and, honestly it was making Connor unnerved. So much for not fidgeting.
"You're serious?" Spike asked dubiously.
"Well…" Connor said quietly, eyes downcast. "Yeah."
This was a bad idea, he realized. He just wanted something to replace cutting; something to take the edge off, to relieve the anxiety that he still felt. Sure he was making progress now, however small it may be. But he wasn't sure that he could keep resisting that urge to take a blade to his skin. He didn't think he was that strong.
God, he just felt so fucking stupid now. Spike probably thought he was stupid for even asking this of him.
Just when he was about to tell Spike to forget about it, that he was just kidding, Spike spoke.
"Why do want the cigarettes? And it'll help your case to be honest with me."
What was he supposed to say? That sometimes the nightmares would close in on him and he couldn't breathe? That it was still difficult to look at a sharp object and not want to hurt himself with it? That he just needed an escape?
"It just…" He gripped the sheets beneath him, eyes seeking out Spike's dark blue ones. "It just gets really hard sometimes, and I… I need a way to deal with it… A way that doesn't involve tearing apart my flesh, you know?"
Spike's brow furrowed in a way that Connor knew meant he was actually thinking about it. Holy shit, he was actually considering it, and Connor just could not believe it.
"Okay…" Spike said slowly after a few moments. "I'll start buyin' you some."
"Really?" Connor grinned at Spike, and surged forward to envelop him in a quick hug.
Spike sighed, wrapping his arms around Connor to return the embrace. "Yeah, really…"
He pulled back, eyes narrowed as he looked at Connor. "You don't tell Angel about this."
Connor shook his head, long hair flying everywhere. "I won't, Spike. Thank you for doing this."
Spike smiled, placed the sketchbook back on the bed and, stood up. "Anything for you, pup."
Spike made it to the door before he turned around, his 'stern look' on his face. "I'm serious, though. Angel cannot know about me supplying his underage kid with smokes, you got it?"
"He won't find out, Spike," Connor said adamantly. "I promise."
Promises weren't Connor's strong suit, but he was getting better about a lot of things now, and he hoped that promises would be one of those things.
"I do this because of you, Steven," Daniel told him afterwards– After it he always liked to talk. "Because of this monster you were born into."
Steven wished he'd be quiet… He wished he would just leave him so he could cry without being punished for it. But he was thirteen now; much too old to be crying over something like this.
But it hurt. It hurt so badly, and it hurt everywhere. He ached even after his body began to heal itself, even though Steven really didn't want it to. He didn't want to heal; he wanted to die, right then and there. Could he even die? He didn't know. So instead he lie there, naked, in the dirt, and pretended that he wasn't alive, that he couldn't hear the nasty words that Daniel spat at him.
"Did you hear me, boy?" Daniel hissed. And suddenly there was a sharp pain in Steven's already bruised side as Daniel kicked him, hard.
Steven couldn't help but to cry out. "Yes, sir! I'm sorry, sir!"
"Don't take that weak tone with me, Steven," Daniel warned, looming above Steven dangerously.
Steven swallowed hard as he gazed up at the man that he called Father, making an effort to control his ragged breathing. "Yes, Father… I'm sorry."
"Good." Daniel backed away from him then, moving to sit down with his back pressed against the cave wall. "Now, put your clothes on. You have to go hunting; we're out of food."
"Yes, Father," Steven replied. Slowly getting up from the ground and grabbing his clothes, he tried not to wince from the pain shooting up his spine.
Once his clothes were on he collected his weapons and made his way to the mouth of the cave, silently willing himself not to cry.
He stopped when he heard his 'Father' calling out to him.
"I only do these things because I love you, Steven."
Steven bit his lip as he hurried to get away from this man. This man who said he loved him, but treated him like he was nothing, like he was worthless, like he was a disease.
He ran and, ran until he couldn't take it anymore. Until he stopped, back hunched over with his hands placed on his knees– And he cried.
Realistically Connor knew that hypnotherapy was not going to be easy. He knew that having Dr. Jasik go into his subconscious mind like that to get those kind of memories was not going to be a walk in the fucking park. Even so, he hadn't expected to feel this badly afterwards.
But he agreed to this, he wanted to do it. And if he was being honest, the main reason was because Angel could be there in the room while Connor described his past in great detail, and Connor didn't have to be aware of it. He didn't have to experience telling his dad these things. Because he had tried a few times, and he hated to see that guilty look on his dad's face. His dad didn't deserve to feel that way.
But it hurt now. Like an open wound. It hurt so goddamn much, and he didn't want to feel any of it.
Blinking slowly, he began to sit up. Angel tried to catch his gaze, but Connor didn't want to see what would be lurking within his dad's beseeching eyes.
"Would you like to talk about it, Connor?" Dr. Jasik asked him, a sympathetic tone to his voice.
Connor shook his head, eyes roving the floor anxiously. "Is it… Is it okay if we just go home? I-I just want to go home now."
Silence before finally his therapist answered him.
"Of course you can go home, Connor," The therapist assured him. "We can talk about this in your next session, or we can talk about whatever you want then. Whatever makes you comfortable."
"Okay," Connor said meekly, standing and quickly making his way out the door, not even waiting for Angel before he hightailed it out of the office.
Once he was in the parking lot Connor leaned against Angel's car with a sigh. He wasn't sure he could do this… He wasn't sure if he could deal with this. He needed his blades.
No. Connor thought. I'm not going back to that.
Biting his lip, Connor thought about the pack of cigarettes he had stashed in a hollowed out book in his room. He could have Angel run out and get him some fast food so he could smoke. Angel would undoubtedly do it. He'd become incredibly helpful and willing to do just about anything Connor wanted recently. If Connor was to find a word for it, he would go as far as to say that Angel was coddling him.
Oddly enough, Connor found that he was okay with that. And why wouldn't he be? He'd never had that before.
"You ready to go, kiddo?"
Connor glanced up, eyes finally meeting Angel's. He saw nothing but concern.
"Yeah, Dad, I am."
Connor shivered as he made his way out onto the roof of the hotel. Pulling the hood of his red hoodie over his head, he looked down over the edge.
'Don't look down.'
That's what everyone always said about heights; that you shouldn't look down. But Connor didn't understand why. To him it was incredibly humbling. It was humbling to peer over the edge of that roof and realize that, yes, falling from this height probably could kill him.
It was beautiful.
Taking a cigarette and a lighter out of his pack, he quickly placed the cigarette between his lips. Inhaling while he lit it, Connor wondered how long he had before Angel would be back. His dad would be furious if he found out that Connor was smoking, especially when he found out that Spike was his 'supplier' or as Angel would probably call him, his enabler.
But Spike wasn't doing anything wrong. He just wanted Connor to get better, and was helping him in any way that he knew how.
And this was definitely helping. Connor thought.
Exhaling smoke Connor sat down a few feet away from the edge with his legs crossed. He wasn't stupid. He knew that smoking was bad for him; he knew that it caused diseases and affected his lungs. But he healed so rapidly, much faster than an average human, so odds were his lungs healed themselves before any major damage could be done. And as for the diseases… Well, he would deal with that if it ever happened.
Because all Connor really cared about was right here and now. He couldn't think too hard about the future –A few months ago he didn't even think he would have a future. And now he did, and it was scary. He didn't want to think about it.
Taking another drag, he stretched his legs out, feet dangling off the building, and laid back.
Life was weird, Connor decided. But he found that he wanted to be here, despite the pain and, the memories. He wanted to be here, and he made a promise to himself right then and there, that he would try his hardest to stay.
"Thanks for going out and getting this, Dad," Connor said before taking a bite of his burger. He had had just enough time to smoke a cigarette before Angel had gotten back home. He was afraid that he wouldn't be able to shower to get rid of the smell of smoke before Angel returned, but thankfully he had had time.
"You're welcome." Angel smiled at him from across the kitchen bar. "Are you… Are you feeling any better?"
Connor chewed slowly, considering how to answer his dad. On the one hand, he did feel a little better than he did at the therapist's office, but on the other… Well, he didn't think he would honestly ever feel one hundred percent better about what happened to him. He decided to go with the easiest answer.
"Yeah, a little bit."
"That's good. I'm glad."
And Connor could tell that Angel was. He was glad that Connor was getting better, that he was being honest, that he trusted Angel enough to be honest with him.
"I'm really proud of you, Connor," Angel said after a moment of silence. "You know that, right?"
Connor dropped his burger down in the open wrapper, mouth still slightly agape from where he was about to take another bite. To say he was shocked would be an understatement. He knew that Angel loved him, yes, but he never expected his dad to be proud of him. What could he possibly be proud of?
"What?" Connor asked disbelievingly. "Why?"
Angel's brow furrowed. "Because you're doing so well, Connor. You haven't hurt yourself in such a long time, and you've been opening up to me more." As Connor shook his head, Angel continued more adamantly. "You're growing as a person, son. You're getting better. You are. And I love you, and I'm proud of you regardless of whether or not you believe it."
Connor stared up at his dad, and as he did he wondered why he ever tried to fight his relationship with him in the first place. Because Angel was being truthful, Connor could see it in his eyes.
"Thanks, Dad," He mumbled, trying not to get over-emotional. "I love you, too."
He didn't miss the way that Angel's eyes lit up at that, he just pretended not to notice.
A/N: Sorry it's been months since I've updated. I have been extremely busy though.
I hope you all like this chapter. I kind of just wanted it to be Connor in everyday life for the most part. Like, him just doing mundane things and how those things can be a struggle for someone battling with self-harm.
And I looked up Hypnotherapy and I read that it's actually not the best thing for recovering memories because there's a chance that it can cause fake memories. But it just fit the story so I went with it.
I'm not sure if I want this to be the last chapter or not. I've thought about doing one more, but I kind of like how this would end things, like Connor is still a work in progress. Because he is. Even if this is the last chapter there is still a possibility that I'll write a few one shots to go with it.
Let me know what you think?
And thank you guys for all the reviews! They're probably one of the main reasons I didn't just give up on this fic.