Black Knight

Disclaimer: I am in sole possession of the idea, and whatever characters which aren't strictly canon should they appear.


Mumbling.

Angel always hated it whenever someone would decide that faint, mostly garbled, spoken words could pass for an acceptable conversational tactic.

If a person didn't have the courage, or straight up gall, to say whatever it was loud enough for everyone to hear without straining their ear drums, then they shouldn't even bother to open their mouths at all.

Opting to mumble instead was the coward's way out, and incredibly annoying to boot.

He didn't need this, at all, especially with everything else piled on his plate already.

The champion had a job to do, one he was quite familiar with: save the world.

Admittedly it did seem at the present time as if he, the very savior of said world a few times before, just might be the very cause of the slew of troubles said planet was currently experiencing.

But that was a minor glitch that would soon be fixed once he figured out how, if at all, he fit into the problem, so that he could then find a suitable solution.

Fred was helping out in that retrospect by searching through the mounds of papers and files atop her desk, trying to found a type of pattern, or unearth some sort of clue, hint, anything that would serve as a lead in the right direction.

Gunn stood by, ready to help if asked, though he secretly hoped none would be required; he was more then happy to leave the bookworm work to the resident lady genius.

Cordelia sat silently by Connor, studying the child who hadn't spoken up much since they'd all arrived back at the hotel. Holding back a smile at how well her scheme was progressing, she sought to keep up her innocent facade while inwardly gloating.

He and Lorne had just finished what had been a, though futile, delightful hour of karaoke with Barry Manilow classics.

Getting no read whatsoever from his subject, Lorne had stopped the session before 'Oh Mandy' became his funeral song as he was just minutes away from killing himself.

It had been barely two minutes since they'd rejoined the others when it all went down

When his embattled team was getting heavily discouraged, losing faith, hope, clarity, and were more than ready to throw in the towel on solving the impossible, it was up to him to keep them going, as always, by reminding them of what they were fighting for.

Sure, he knew this big bad was scary, and powerful, and, for the moment, utterly unstoppable, but he still assured them all, with the most spirited of convictions, that they would succeed for there was no other alternative.

"Until we figure out how to end this eternal darkness, it's the devil's playground out there."

Shaking them all to their very cores with the, while truthful, soul chilling statement, his attention was suddenly drawn away from the others when the, formally, subdued child to his left finally opened his mouth just enough to mumble underneath his breath, "Just the way you like it, huh?"

Every other noise in the room, including breathing, hushed immediately.

You didn't need supernatural hearing ability to know that whatever'd been said finally struck the sore chord that had just been waiting to be plucked for quite some time.

Heads slowly turned and three pairs of eyes locked on to the familial twosome.

How Angel did hate mumbling.

"Something to say Connor? You got a problem?"

Lifting up his head to meet the man's pointed gaze the youth scowled at him defiantly, "You."

Knowing it would seem strange if she didn't try and intervene in some way, Cordy spoke up halfheartedly next, "Hey, Connor."

"...acting like the big leader, like we don't already know what we know."

Continuing on with his rant as if no one had spoken to him, Connor was too aroused and aggravated to pay her any mind.

Not backing down himself his father returned a tense reply, "And what do you know?"

"Everybody thought it was me. Maybe even I was starting to...but it was you all along. You're the one who's working with the Beast."

Fred, Gunn, and Lorne found themselves standing on the sidelines, befuddled, as they watched the verbal match, the strained back and forth, between the couple.

Not one of them was sure if they should step in and put an end to it before things got out of hand, as they were bound to eventually, or should they just go ahead and let the overstressed duo get everything out in the open, as had been a long time in coming.

They all ended up settling for the latter, ready to intercede only if words were replaced with fists of fury.

Feeling his chest tighten up, Angel's jaw commenced clenching periodically as he fought to remain calm and in control.

"I'm not."

The simple response was laced thick with repressed rage, both at Connor thinking as much, or rather as little, of him, and that he had no way of proving it wasn't the truth either.

One of the things the boy hated most about Angel was that he could, somehow, remain relatively composed in situations that would have Connor going out of his mind.

And this just happened to be one of those times.

"Well, then, you're a puppet. Either way, everything's going to hell because of you. You're the reason that the sun is gone, that I don't have a home to go back to. You're the reason that she-"

Connor halted in mid sentence as he dared a swift glance over at Cordelia.

Sighing he shook his head and concluded, with a sulk, "It's you. You're the reason my life sucks."

Though they came round far and, very, few between, this would definitely go near the top of the list for true blue kid moments that the youngster had undergone since his return.

Having said his piece, for now, Connor dropped his head back down, quietly stewing as he clasped his hands together in his lap, squeezing them in tune with the rapid beating of his heart that sounded out as a thunderous roar in his ears alone.

For over three hundred years Angel had been regarded as the best there ever was when it came to thinking on one's feet, and it was also something he'd always prided himself on, still did in fact.

But continuously he was thrown curve balls courtesy of his offspring, and they would always leave him absolutely reeling.

What would be the paternally appropriate reply to such an affirmation?

"Get over it."

It wasn't the most articulate of phrases he could have come up with he knew, or sensitive for that matter, but it would do.

Connor wasn't the only one in the room surprised, or shocked, by Angel's cool and callous words.

Fred had to wonder if maybe he should have endeavored to be a tad more gentle and understanding to the teen's obvious plight.

Lorne pondered whether Angel would be ready to handle the repercussions soon coming as he could sense the great ire building up inside the teenager, ready to overflow.

Gunn stared to smile, grin actually, proud of his undead pal for finally not wasting his time babying the brat and having the guts to give it to him straight.

Cordelia could have cared less personally, except for the fact that the two were only making her job that much easier in the long run, which was good to know.

Unable to control his emotions any longer, Connor exploded, "Get over it...? Are you kidding me!"

The teen's stance changed into one of defense. as of his father's words were actually attacking him physically.

"That-thing! I thought I was responsible for it! I thought it was here because of me!"

"And how is that my fault, exactly?" Angel raised an eyebrow, "When he showed up, all signs did point to you as being the cause. However, I am the one who made it my duty to prove differently, that it was some sort of coincidence, just like when you were born."

"He almost killed me..."

"You're gonna try and blame that on me too?"

Connor swung his head up to gape at Angel, his hands fisting into such rigorous balls his knuckles were turning white, "I went to Wolfram & Hart-!"

"And who the hell told you to do that! Certainly not me!"

"Angelcakes, maybe we should try some more of that pep talky business huh?" Lorne tired to interject.

Angel shook his head at the scaly green demon, there was no way he was ending the conversation at this point, before turning his focus back on his son, "You did go there, and who had to rush off after you and save your butt?"

"I could have-"

"You could have what? Gotten out of there by yourself? Really? Do you have some sort of magical force field I'm not aware of?"

Connor's eyes narrowed dangerously, "I only went there to get answers, about what it was and how it was connected to me; if you'd figured out earlier that it was you he was buddies with I wouldn't have had any reason to go in the first place!"

"Sure, blame Daddy for making a stupid mistake that almost cost you your life! But, of course, I forgot! I am the reason your life sucks! You'll have to forgive me for actually trying to give a damn about your ungrateful little-!"

"I should be home right now and not stuck here with all of you! There should be a sun outside and not every creepy crawly imaginable running around! And I should be able to be with-!"

His frustration almost getting the better of him yet again, Connor decided to leave out the last part, as he had before.

"And it's all thanks to you! So tell me, Dad, just how grateful am I supposed to be!"

"Don't even try to pin any of that on me! None of what's been happening has been my doing! It's the Beast. He's the one who blocked out the sun, and drove you from your home-threw you out of it in fact! And who was there to rescue you then too!"

"He's your friend! How do you not fit in here!"

"The hell he is! Even if he did, maybe, at some point in time, hundreds of years ago, have some sort of an encounter with Angelus, it still doesn't mean squat! Do you know just how many evil creatures, hell bent on ending all life on Earth, I have come in contact with!"

"Did any of them block out the sun!"

"Didn't have to, they just tried to destroy the entire universe all at once, not on a timetable!"

"Guys, it might be best if you two dropped this."

Fred looked back and forth between both of them, "For now, anyway, we have bigger problems to deal with here."

"Yeah, because of him," Connor gestured over at his father.

"You make mention of that one more time and so help me, kid, I will not be responsible for what I will do to you."

Angel seethed openly, "When we all thought you might have a connection to the Beast, I didn't go around blaming you for bringing the world to Armageddon, part three, just because it seemed like you were linked to him. Why is it that I can't get the same benefit of the doubt?"

Breathing harshly and breathing without any real reason to, father and son glared daggers at each other.

"Ding ding! That should do it for round one. Now let's all go to our separate corners and cool off."

Lorne attempted, once more, to alleviate the mood in the room, but was interrupted, yet again, by Wesley coming in through the front doors.

Seeing everyone turn and look at him, Wes was overwhelmed with the sneaking notion that he'd just walked into some sort of war zone.

"Is...everything alright in here?"

Looking back at Angel, Connor smirked bitterly, "Great." Stalking across the floor next, he made his way over to the hotel's entrance way.

"Just great..." he added, in the same, exact, hushed tones that had set everything in motion ten minutes earlier, as he crossed the threshold, and went out into the nebulous, submerging, darkness, disappearing from sight.

"Connor! Connor get back here, right now! We are not done, do you hear me!"

Angel's orders were ignored, of course, and as he watched the adolescent leave anyhow a loud groan of frustration was released.

"Angel, maybe it's best you and Connor give one another some time and-and space to-"

Fred's helpful suggestion was cut off once Angel banged a fist down on the table adjacent to him, nearly cracking it in half.

"He is angry...and when my son gets angry he tends to not think things out very well, or at all, and the last thing I need to be doing is worrying about him getting himself killed out there."

Bringing his head back up, Angel's eyes flashed with determined resolve, "Besides-I wasn't through talking yet."


tbc...