This is a discipline fic, set around the same time as my "Proper Punishment" story. I suppose it's sort of a loose sequel to that one. It contains corporal punishment in the form of spanking. It is AU and out of character. It's also shameless fluff.
"Here, kid, take one," the man in the alley said, thrusting it toward him.
"Um. I don't think I'm supposed to," Connor said uncertainly, making no move to take the offering.
"Come on. Almost my last one. You can even have two of them if you want," the man pressed.
"I...I better not," Connor said, though he wanted to.
"Come on," the man begged. "Please. I can't keep these things. I really need to get rid of them. One won't hurt you."
Connor looked around uncertainly before reaching a tentative hand toward the box. He gently lifted out a furry yellow kitten and raised it up to eye level. The kitten peered at him with big blue eyes and greeted him with a pitiful, "Mew." Connor knew then that it was his.
"Thanks," he told the man as he hesitantly cradled the kitten to his chest. "I'll take good care of it."
"Sure, whatever," the man said dismissively, already trying to give a kitten to the next passerby.
Connor sighed, wondering how much trouble this thing was going to be. He also wondered how much trouble he was going to be in for bringing it home. He wasn't sure how the gang felt about animals. A dark part of his mind even wondered if Angel might...well, find it tasty. He tried to bury that thought.
Connor slowly walked home and stood in front of the hotel, idly petting the wiggling kitten's head and neck. He'd forgotten why he'd gone out in the first place, and as he remembered, he bristled with a mixture of anger and guilt.
"Hey, little guy," he whispered to his new friend. "Sorry about this, but I need you to go in here for a few minutes."
He gently dropped the kitten into the inside pocket of his coat. To his delight, it fit perfectly, and didn't seem too put out to be there. Connor zipped his jacket up and stepped through the front doors of the hotel.
"Connor!" Gunn snapped angrily. "Where have you been?"
"I went out," he answered. "Am I not allowed to go out now?"
"You're allowed to go out. What you're not allowed to do is run out of here in a snit when all I'm trying to do is talk to you."
Connor remained silent, only half listening to Gunn's lecture. He was praying the kitten wouldn't make any noise or move too much until he could get it to his room.
"Well?" Gunn demanded.
"Sorry?" Connor said.
Gunn exhaled slowly and deliberately so that his cheeks actually puffed out with the force of it. Connor thought that was funny, but he didn't laugh.
"I called you, you know," Gunn continued. "Why didn't you answer your phone?"
"I was mad," Connor said simply. "I didn't want to talk to you."
"That's no excuse!" Gunn said sharply. "When one of us calls you, you answer. No matter how pissed off you are. Do you hear me?"
"Yeah, I hear you," Connor said, starting to feel uncomfortable. "Sorry."
"I'm telling your father about this as soon as he gets home," Gunn promised. "Go to your room."
Normally, Connor would have balked at taking orders from Gunn—which was what they had been fighting about to begin with—but he was relieved to have an excuse to get out of there. He ducked his head as he walked past him and took the stairs two at a time. Once he was in his room, he shut the door and unzipped his jacket.
"Hi, there!" he said affectionately to his illicit pet as he placed it on the bed. "You did so well down there! Not even a peep."
The kitten purred and rubbed its head roughly across Connor's knee. He sat cross-legged and gathered the animal into his lap, but it wouldn't be still. It crawled all over the bed and all over him. Connor lay back and let it settle contentedly onto his chest.
"I don't know what you eat," Connor murmured to it. "But I bet you're hungry. I should probably go downstairs and get you some food."
The kitten blinked at the sound of his voice but offered no comment.
"Can't right now, though," Connor apologized. "Gunn will add it to the list of things he's telling on me for."
Connor suddenly sighed as that thought permeated the forefront of his mind. Angel would probably be home soon, and not only had Connor gotten into a shouting match with Gunn—he'd started it, but somehow he didn't think that'd matter to his father—but he'd left the hotel angry and picked up a stray animal on the way home. He wondered if Angel might spank him for it. He'd only gotten it the once, but had to admit that the odds seemed pretty likely that he was in for it again.
As if the mere thought had brought forth the action, Connor heard footfalls on the stairs. In a sudden moment of apprehension, he picked up the kitten and set it on the floor of his small closet.
"Sorry," he whispered as he shut the door. "Please be quiet."
He hadn't quite made it back to his bed when the door opened.
"Oh," he said out of nerves, but hoped Angel would take it as surprise.
"Hey, pal," Angel said amicably, glancing around the room. "What are you doing?"
"Nothing," Connor said a little too quickly. "I was...Did you talk to Gunn?"
Angel sighed. "Yeah, I did. He's not too happy with you right now."
"Sorry," Connor mumbled, examining the bedspread.
"It's not me you should be apologizing to," Angel admonished.
"He started it," Connor said glumly. "Not that you care."
"That's not the point," Angel said, just as Connor had figured he would. "But why don't you tell me your side of the story anyway, okay?"
Connor looked up in surprise. He really hadn't expected his father to say that. Angel sat down on the edge of the bed and gave him an encouraging nod.
"Well," Connor said uncomfortably. "I mean, I guess it's kinda stupid, now that I think about it."
"Tell me anyway," Angel invited.
"He asked me to help him clean some things from the weapons case," Connor said, suddenly apprehensive again. "But I—I didn't want to. And I told him no."
"I see," Angel commented. "Why were you so opposed to it?"
Connor swallowed. "I don't know. I just was."
"Would you have helped me if I'd asked?" Angel said lightly.
"Of course," Connor answered without pause.
"But you didn't want to help him," Angel reiterated.
"I told you it was stupid," Connor said, blushing. "I just...I felt like he was bossing me around. I didn't like it."
"Connor," Angel said gently. "When I'm not here, that doesn't mean you can do whatever you want. You know that, right?"
"So what happened after you told him no?" Angel pressed.
"He asked me again."
"And you refused?"
"Yeah," Connor said. "And he got mad, and asked me why I was being a brat."
Angel smiled slightly.
"What'd you say to that?" Angel asked, attempting to sound stern.
"Told him to leave me alone..." Connor said quietly.
"Is that all?" Angel asked with raised eyebrows.
"Well," Connor said, "I...I may have used some language that wasn't very nice when I said it. But I mean, I learned those words from him!"
Angel nodded, but didn't reply. After a few seconds of the uncomfortable silence, Connor continued.
"So he yelled at me, and said he was going to tell you how I acted when you got home, and I left."
"You know you aren't allowed to run off like that," Angel chided. "What if you'd gotten hurt, and nobody knew where you were?"
"Sorry," Connor said, just wanting to get this conversation over with.
"Gunn said he called you and you didn't answer," Angel prompted.
"I know you know how to use the phone," Angel said. "You can certainly do it better than I can."
Connor tried to repress the smile that crossed his lips. Angel wasn't exaggerating there.
"I was mad," he said, shrugging. "I didn't want to talk to him on the phone just so he could yell at me some more."
"Where did you go while you were out?" Angel asked. "And I need the truth."
Connor bristled slightly. He wasn't sure why Angel thought his answer would be a lie.
"I walked around for awhile," he said. "That's all."
"Did you meet anyone?" Angel asked.
"Well," Connor said uncertainly. "I mean, I talked to a few people, yeah. But I didn't make friends, if that's what you're asking."
"Really?" Angel asked, and Connor didn't like the tone of his voice.
"Yeah, really," Connor said hotly, and then reeled in the attitude at the look he received.
"You're not lying to me?" Angel said sternly. "Or trying to hide anything from me?"
Connor opened and closed his mouth, but the right words didn't come out. No words did. He looked at the wall, but it offered no help.
"Connor," Angel said firmly, taking his chin and turning his head toward him. "I'm going to ask you one more time. Is there anything you're not telling me?"
Connor swallowed hard. He considered coming clean about the kitten, but he just couldn't seem to do it. He was certain that Angel wouldn't let him keep it. He clamped his mouth shut and didn't respond.
Angel sighed and got to his feet. To Connor's dismay, he headed straight for the closet and opened it. The little yellow fluff ball immediately came out and rubbed his head affectionately on the toe of Angel's boot.
"Judas," Connor murmured.
Angel picked it up and looked at Connor expectantly. Connor tried to wipe the guilty grin off his face, but found he couldn't quite manage.
"Do you even know what this is?" Angel said doubtfully.
"Yes! It's a cat! Geez. I'm not totally ignorant," Connor spat indignantly. "Someone gave it to me. He said he couldn't keep it."
"What if it hadn't been a cat?" Angel pressed. "What if someone had tried to give you something dangerous?"
"Well, I wouldn't have taken it," Connor said flatly. "I'm not totally stupid, either." He crossed his arms angrily over his chest.
Angel brought the kitten over and deposited it on the bed, where it immediately climbed up Connor's leg and nudged him in the stomach.
"Why did you try to hide that from me?" Angel demanded.
"Because I thought you'd be mad. And you are," Connor observed.
"I'm not mad because you brought a cat home, Connor. I'm mad because you tried to cover it up. I asked you if you were hiding anything from me, and you lied right to my face."
Connor shifted uncomfortably on the bed, thinking that Angel was really blowing things out of proportion. He kept that opinion to himself, though.
"If I ask you a question, you give me an answer," Angel scolded. "An honest answer. You don't lie to me, ever. Even if you think it's something small, something that shouldn't matter. Even if you think I'll be mad. You tell me the truth."
"Okay," Connor said quietly, examining his shoes. "I'm sorry."
Angel walked over and picked the kitten off of Connor's shirt. He set it gently in the floor and sat down beside his son.
"Spanking?" Connor asked with dread.
"Oh yeah," Angel said firmly, taking Connor by the arm and pulling him over his lap. "I want to be very clear here, Connor. You're not in trouble because you brought home a pet. You're not even in trouble with me for yelling at Gunn—I'm gonna let the two of you work that out yourselves. You're in trouble because you lied to me. Do you understand?"
"I can keep it, then?" Connor asked hopefully despite his precarious position. "You said it was a pet, so I can keep it?"
Angel was silent a moment, and Connor held his breath waiting for the answer.
"Yeah," he finally said. "You can keep it, I guess. But you're taking care of it."
"I will," Connor said eagerly. "Thanks."
Without further ado, Angel started the punishment. Connor tried to take it stoically, but he found that it hurt more than he remembered it hurting last time. He thrashed around on Angel's lap so much that his father pulled him closer to him and held him in a death grip around the waist. Angel repositioned him so that Connor's legs were trapped between his and started spanking anew.
"Ow! Angel!" Connor exclaimed unhappily, thinking that this might last awhile. "I'm sorry! I won't lie to you again."
"I'm going to make sure of that," Angel said ominously, and Connor fell silent.
He gripped the bedspread for purchase and closed his eyes tightly, thinking that might help him keep his composure. He opened them when he felt it moving. His kitten was happily crawling up the blanket, unmoved by his predicament. It reached his head and purred loudly while kneading him between the shoulder blades. He laughed slightly in spite of himself and the painful state of his bottom.
"Do you think this is funny?" Angel asked sternly, not bothering to remove the cat.
Connor considered that seriously before answering.
"Kind of," he said in a small voice.
Angel swatted him extra hard and tears sprang to his eyes.
"Ow!" he protested. "You told me not to lie to you!"
"Yeah, well. That doesn't mean I have to like your answer," Angel said, releasing the hold on his waist.
"Is it over?" Connor asked uncertainly.
"Yeah. For now," Angel said. "But if I find you lying to me again, Connor, it's going to be worse. Do you understand?"
"Yes," Connor said, wincing slightly as the kitten's claws dug into his back. "Could I have a little help here?"
"What's the problem?" Angel asked, feigning ignorance and making no move to get the cat off him.
"Angel," he groaned.
"Okay, fine," Angel relented, picking the animal up and cradling it to him.
Connor pushed himself off Angel's lap and sat down on the bed beside him.
"Sorry I lied to you," he said awkwardly as he watched his dad pet the kitten. "I guess it wasn't smart. Or even necessary."
"It will never be 'necessary' to lie to me," Angel said firmly. Well, as firmly as he could while a kitten was clutching his shirt. "I thought I'd made that clear. If I didn't, we can go another round..."
"No," Connor said quickly. "I didn't mean it like that." He shoved his hands underneath his legs and continued. "I just...I guess I thought you wouldn't let me keep it. Or that you might..."
Connor suddenly shut his mouth, realizing that what he'd almost said might be offensive to his father.
"What, Connor?" Angel said, giving him a hard look. "That I might be allergic?"
"Nothing," he said dismissively. "Never mind."
"You thought I'd want to eat your kitten!" Angel accused, making a face. "Admit it!"
"I didn't say that!" Connor denied, smiling nervously. "You're putting words in my mouth."
"I do not eat cats," Angel said grimly. Connor thought an unspoken "anymore" hung in the air, but he didn't mention it.
"Well," Angel said, and Connor was relieved to see that he seemed to be letting it slide. "We'll go tonight and pick up some food and stuff. Do you know what you want to name it?"
"Can I call it Charles?" Connor said contemptuously.
"You may not," Angel said. "That would be disrespectful, and you know it."
Connor just shrugged.
"Hey," Angel said, and Connor thought his tone sounded admonishing. "You two are going to have to get along. I don't know what's going on between you, but you need to work it out. This constant bickering has to stop."
"Why don't you tell him that?" Connor murmured.
"I'll talk to him, too," Angel agreed, getting to his feet.
"Thanks," Connor said, taking little Charles from his father and putting him on the bed.
Angel lingered a moment, and Connor hesitantly reached out to embrace him, but changed his mind and pulled away.
"Come here," Angel said indulgently. He pulled Connor to him and wrapped his arms around his shoulders.
"Need to breathe," Connor said after his need for affection had been sated.
"Fine," Angel sighed melodramatically, releasing him. "If you must."
Connor sat gingerly on the bed and looked up at Angel shyly.
"Am I grounded?" he asked.
The concept was fairly new to him, and he wasn't entirely sure how it was supposed to work, but this seemed like something he might be grounded for.
"No, pal, not this time," Angel said fondly. "We took care of it already. But don't you dare let me catch you in a lie again. Understand?"
"Yes," Connor said.
"We'll go after sundown and buy cat food and things," Angel reminded him. "So don't go anywhere. And be thinking about what you want to name him."
Connor smiled to himself, knowing he'd already decided on the name, regardless of what Angel thought about it.
"Connor," Angel warned, but the tone didn't hold any threat.
"Okay!" he conceded, scratching the cat behind the ears. "I won't call him Charles."
"Good," Angel said, leaving the room.
"I'll call you Charlie," Connor whispered to the kitten as the door closed.