A/N: "Seriously?" you may be asking. "Seriously, you're supposed to be finishing the other story, and yet you're posting a new, different story instead? One that doesn't have anything at all to do with the other plot line? When you promised you were going to finish up the other one? That's just cruel!"
It is, I know, but I needed to get this out of my system.
"Seriously, Angel?" Connor said in good-natured dismay as he stared down the long, very long, corridor at all the rooms on either side. "You want me to sweep all these rooms? Couldn't you just give me a spanking?"
It had been a joke, and Connor chuckled slightly to himself before grabbing hold of the vacuum and shuffling toward the first stop. Something wasn't right, though, and as he glanced back over his shoulder, he saw that his father wasn't laughing. He wasn't saying anything, and he wasn't making any move to follow him to the cleaning party. He simply stood there frowning, with his arms crossed over his chest.
"Angel?" he asked uncertainly.
"Did you mean that?" he asked.
"Mean what?" Connor asked.
"What you just said."
Connor felt his face—and his ears and his neck—flush crimson. Of course he hadn't meant it. He was nineteen years old!
"I … I was only joking," he said with a feeble attempt at laughter. "Of course I don't mind helping you clean up. It was just a joke."
Connor tried to make himself turn and enter the room on his immediate left, but something about the way his father kept staring at him simultaneously unnerved him and rooted him to his spot.
"It was a joke," he said again, nervously licking his suddenly dry lips. "You know, funny? Ha ha?"
"Go to my room and wait for me," Angel instructed, and Connor's eyes widened at the implication.
"Angel!" he protested shrilly, holding onto the vacuum's handle and leaning down to rest his chin on it. "I didn't mean it. I'll help clean. I want to. Really."
"My room," Angel repeated, raising his eyebrows in what Connor recognized as a universal no-nonsense parental gesture.
"Please," he tried, laughing in a mix of nerves and disbelief. "I wasn't complaining. I'll vacuum every single room. Twice if you want!"
"I want you to go to my room, sit on the bed, and wait for me," Angel replied calmly.
"But…" Connor started, unsure how to finish, so he went with a classic. "But, Dad…"
Angel didn't give an inch, and Connor eyed him carefully before straightening and abandoning the vacuum to walk slowly down the hall, shooting his father uncertain glances every few feet. He felt a tension in his stomach that he hadn't felt in years, not since he was a small child and in danger of incurring his mother's wrath. Those memories weren't real in the strictest sense of the word, but that didn't make them or his current situation any less harrowing.
He leaned apprehensively against the foot of Angel's bed and watched the door, chewing on his bottom lip as he did so. What he'd said surely wasn't so bad as to deserve a spanking, was it? It had only been a joke. It wasn't like he had flat out refused to do as he'd been asked. And besides, he had come here of his own volition and asked to help out! He wanted to help his dad get the hotel into shape; it was something that they could do together that was almost—almost—normal. It wasn't like pushing the old Hoover around was a punishment that he had balked at. It would be totally unfair for Angel to do this to him.
He sat there perched on the end of the bed for so long that he began to wonder if Angel was coming at all, or if he was just messing with him. He didn't quite dare to leave the room, though, not after he'd been ordered in no uncertain terms to wait there. In the past, he wouldn't have hesitated to ignore his father's wishes and do as he pleased, but well, things changed.
He ran a hand over his forehead, which was slightly damp with nervous sweat, and sighed. This waiting business was no fun at all. Why was he being made to wait, anyway? It wasn't like Angel hadn't been right there when he'd told him to go to his room. Did he … Did he need to get something? Like, a something that he would then use to whack his butt? Surely that wasn't what he was doing… Was it? A spanking was supposed to be hand on butt, not like, awful wooden paddle on butt, or wicked leather belt on butt…
Angel's entrance startled him so much that he audibly yelped and jumped to his feet. He could have sworn that his father smirked a little bit, but when he looked at him a second time, the amusement was as gone as if it hadn't been there at all.
"Angel?" he asked timidly when his dad made no attempt at small talk.
"Connor," Angel returned, not unkindly.
"It was just a joke!" he blurted out urgently. "I know it was kind of a smartass thing to say, but I didn't mean it. Please, Dad, I'll do whatever you want."
"I want you to bend over my knee," Angel answered, walking swiftly past him and settling himself on the edge of the bed.
"Daa-aad!" Connor protested, unable to stop himself from bouncing up and down a little. "God, I am so too old for this!"
"Clearly you don't really believe that, or you wouldn't have brought it up," Angel countered reasonably.
"But I didn't do anything wrong!" Connor pointed out.
"Oh?" Angel asked conversationally, making Connor uncomfortable.
"Well … Well, not recently," he amended. "God, Dad, please don't do this. Can't this just be my warning? Everyone should get a warning, right? I mean, they don't even give you a ticket the first time you get caught speeding, do they?"
"You tell me," Angel invited, and Connor squirmed guiltily.
"Angel, please," he implored again. "Why are you doing this?"
"Every boy should get a spanking from his father at least once," Angel said to his astonishment. "Don't you think yours is long overdue?"
Connor did not think that. He did not think that at all. His mind raced helplessly for some way to get out of this predicament. He could leave and never come back. Except, he wanted to come back—or at least, he would have said he did half an hour ago.
"Angel," he said, trying to be reasonable, "look, it's just … I've never … I haven't … My parents never…"
"That's plain enough," Angel interrupted with a smile. He patted his own thigh. "Come on. Over you go. I promise it won't kill you."
"Well, what … What if I refuse?" Connor asked boldly, folding his arms over his chest and sticking out his chin in the most defiant posture he could manage.
Angel raised his eyebrows and looked evenly at him.
"Hypothetically, I mean," Connor backpedaled under the stern gaze. "Hypothetically, if I refused?"
"Well, then, hypothetically, I guess I'd have to hold you down to do it," Angel answered. "But I don't wanna do that."
Angel was starting to get annoyed, Connor could tell. He looked to each of the four walls in turn, hoping for some sort of guidance in how to proceed but finding only unhelpful silence.
"Okay," he finally whispered, dragging his feet as he forced himself to walk to his doom.
"Good boy," Angel said with approval, making him blush deeply.
He stood uncertainly at Angel's side, waiting for his dad to instruct him to do whatever it was he was supposed to do. Angel guided him down and over his lap, and he put his hands out to keep himself from falling into the floor. As he felt his father shift him so that his feet no longer touched the carpet—the dusty carpet, he noted ruefully—he screwed his eyes tightly shut and tried to think back to every bad thing he'd ever done and got away with, as Holtz's kid, as Angel's kid, and as the Reillys' kid.
"Ready?" Angel asked absurdly.
"No," Connor answered back petulantly.
"You're right," Angel said, tugging his loose jeans off his bottom. "What was I thinking? Now, are you ready?"
"Yes," Connor answered quickly, afraid of losing his last layer of protection.
Okay, so, one time when he was very small, he'd been mad at Holtz and had run away and hidden for several hours, and his foster father had fallen in a hole and wrenched his knee while he searched him out. Holtz had just been relieved when he'd found him alive, and he'd never really gotten in trouble for it.
And one time in the fourth grade, he pulled Judy Baisley's hair and made her cry, but she liked him so she didn't tell the teacher. He always felt bad about that, even though he honestly hadn't meant to do it so hard.
He'd cheated on that one pop quiz in high school biology. He still failed it along with everyone else, but that had been nagging at him for three years now. It was the only time he'd ever cheated in school.
And … And there was that one time that he had deceived a man, made him think he really wanted to try, only to blindside him and weld him in a metal coffin before sending him on an unwanted, extended vacation to the bottom of the sea.
Connor's vision unexpectedly blurred with tears just before the first swat made contact, and he gasped, more from surprise than pain. Nine more just like it quickly followed, and he gritted his teeth, determined to take it like a man—or like he assumed a man would take a child's punishment. Angel fixed his pants and righted him after that tenth smack, long before Connor expected it to be over, and plunked him down in his lap. He fidgeted, trying to push himself up, but his dad wrapped his arms around him and easily held him in place.
His butt stung a little, but he couldn't honestly say that it had hurt, so he was surprised at the tears that kept streaming unauthorized down his cheeks. Angel seemed to think that reaction was normal and expected, though, because he kept giving him a funny little smile and wiping the tears away. Finally, after he had cried himself out, Connor pushed up and was released from his hold.
"Seriously, Angel?" he said hoarsely. "You scared the crap out of me for that? That didn't even hurt."
He felt the pout his bottom lip was forming, but he didn't even try to stop it. He deserved to pout after being put through the wringer for practically nothing.
"Did you want it to?" Angel asked, his eyes dancing with amusement.
"No, but I … I just thought it would," Connor answered honestly. "What were you doing all that time you made me sit here? I waited like fifteen minutes."
"I was watching the weather forecast," Angel replied easily.
"Seriously?" Connor asked incredulously. "Seriously, Angel? I thought you were like, preparing the rack or something."
Angel laughed and got to his feet.
"I haven't owned a rack in at least ten years."
Connor frowned and blinked rapidly as Angel crossed the room to him and leaned down to speak quietly in his ear.
"That was a joke."
"It wasn't funny," Connor replied, though he laughed in relief as he trailed his father out the door.
"Ready to get started on that vacuuming?" Angel asked.
"No way. Nuh-uh," Connor answered, shaking his head. "That wasn't the deal. I didn't say you could spank me and make me clean."
Angel tousled his hair fondly before giving him another one of those looks accompanied by raised eyebrows.
"That was a joke," Connor assured him with a sheepish grin, already reaching for the vacuum. "Seriously."