Fatherly Concerns

Author: Dlgood
Co-Authored: S.J.Smith
Email: dlgood@comcast.net
Disclaimer: All characters are property of Mutant Enemy
Rating: PG-13, verging on R
Spoilers: AtS up through 4.11 - "Soulless"
Distribution: Fanfiction.net, Chocolate and Chains, KickDress Archive, Buffy Fiction Archive, Ducks Fanfic Board, anyone else wants, please ask.
Feedback: Oh please do…
Author's Note: A big thanks to SJS for helping me turn a clever idea into something I'm willing to read.
Ship: Mentions of C/C, A/C, A(us)/D, other hints,
Summary: Connor has a return engagement with a caged Angelus

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It had been four hours since Cordelia walked out. Still I reveled in the blessed silence where once the screaming conscience used to be. Apparently, since no one had been back down to check on me, the little experiment in soul extraction hadn't worked as well as Wesley had planned.

What a shocker.

After all, Wesley's plans always worked so well. I have to give him credit, though. The ex-Watcher did manage to pull me out of the ocean.

The sound of footsteps caught my attention. I rose to my feet, delighted. The boy was coming back for more. What a trooper.

"Hello Angelus." He reached the ground floor and walked across it to stand on the other side of the bars. The stench of vomit permeated his sullen demeanor.

"Well, well." I tucked my hands in my pockets. Mock concern colored my voice. "Something go wrong upstairs?"

Connor unconsciously mirrored my stance. "Seems Wesley lost the soul." He shrugged. "To be honest, I'm not too concerned."

I checked to make sure Cordelia had turned the camera back on. If the goody-goodies knew what she was up to; they'd do their best to stop her. Turning back towards my spawn, I took a moment to contemplate the best angle. It was hard to tell what the boy wanted, aside from Cordy and a way to vent all his anger. At least that's familiar.

"I can see why. You hate Angel and you'd much prefer to have me around. Trust me, the feeling's mutual."

The boy wandered off to pick up one of my battle axes and slowly began to study the edge. "The soul's the same thing as this cage. As far as I'm concerned, nothing much has changed." He lifted his eyes from the weapon to me, just a flicker, waiting for my reaction.

I didn't bother to hide my smirk, rocking on my heels. "Funny thing, kid. Angel doesn't much prefer to have you around either. He says he loves you but you certainly don't believe that."

"Demons cannot love." His anger is thick and I love that smell. Wesley's insecurities and shame. Fred's fear. Lorne's cowardice. Gunn's rage. I can feast
down here all day, even without blood.

"Really. And what do you know about love?" Connor stared silently at the blade, so I went on. "What could Holtz teach you? He loved you far
less than he hated me. That family he was seeking to avenge? He didn't love them either."

That got the boy's attention. His head jerked up and his nostrils flared, all upset I'd dare to drag Holtz down to my level. "That's a lie. He loved them."

"Really? More than he hated me?" I started pacing the perimeter of my cage, keeping my eyes on the boy. "He spent a decade hunting me across
Europe when I was barely more than a fledge. There were plenty of Vampires back home in Yorkshire, right near his very home, yet he kept chasing after me, and I'm pretty certain he wasn't concerned about all those tasty innocents we killed. Did he tell you how many years Darla and I waited before we could actually be bothered to go after them? How I seduced pretty Caroline before we killed his family for sport, just to remind him of how little care he gave to them? How lousy a father he was? And we were right. Did this man you respect so much tell you how he cast aside every semblance of honor, justice, and humanity he possessed in service of his hatred? The reason why he made a pact with the Demon that you were supposed to kill." I stopped, facing Connor through the bars, smiling. "Not to get vengeance against me for killing his family - but because he was ashamed of how petty a man we proved him to be."

He was starting to shake from anger. Good. I could use that. "That is a lie." He started for the cage, stopping just out reach, the axe held like he intended to use it. "God sent him to me, and me to him."

Just who was he trying to convince? "Ah, poor misguided youth. Holtz never really cared about you, my darling boy. He wasn't even coming for you." I said it gently, like I cared. "You really should thank Wesley for kidnapping you away from the only family that could ever love you, just so you could be raised in filth, by a madman, in a hell dimension." I paused to let those words soak in. The boy's eyes were wide and he bit his lips. Time to drop the next bomb. I spread my hands in a consolatory way. "Honestly Connor, even if Holtz could love anyone more than he hated me, why would he love you - the spawn of the two demons he hated more than life itself?"

I started prowling again, not quite watching the boy, though he didn't dare take his eyes off me. "Look what he did when he came back. He sent you off to this hotel and killed himself so that you might kill Angel. The Angel that would welcome you, take you in, teach you and even forgive you for burying him at sea. That madman played you like a violin, boy. So you honestly think Holtz loved you? Obviously not enough to teach you how to live in this world."

Confusion warred with anger, drifting off the boy. He shifted his grip on the axe handle. I could smell his sweat, too. "My…Holtz taught me what I needed to know."

I grinned at that one. "Right. He taught you. Sure prepared you for Cordelia, didn't he. Don't you wish you had daddy to talk to right now? Oops! He's gone! Bummer.

"But you sure did make her happy. Not enough, of course. Gosh, Angel sends you both back to that loft, yet I don't smell her on you at all." I took a deep whiff of air to emphasis my point. "What's up with that?"

The boy started, his shoulders hunching. Ooh, was that pain I smelled? "But maybe it was just Cordelia, lost in the moment, using you at the end of the world. She's like that. She ever tell you about that time she got pregnant with demon spawn?" Or this time, if I heard what I think I did.

"You leave her out of this!" He lifted the axe as if he's going to use it.

"Hey." I raised my hands to deflect his anger. "Down boy. Just giving you some fatherly advice. Still can't kill me though - what with that big beast running around out there."

"I can't wait to kill you," he mutters, before turning his back on me to look through the other weapons. He held himself stiffly. Something I'd said got through.

"Glad to see you're coming around to my way of thinking." His flinch is almost imperceptible. "Burial at sea? So very Darla of you. She was the one who always wanted to leave Holtz alive - said he was like family. Ruining his life was too much fun for her to kill him. I'd have been done with him in Rome."

Time to twist the knife just a little more. "Maybe it is you. All those times, Angel claimed to love you. But you don't believe him, do you. Maybe, you're just too much a reminder of the demonic for the old man's comfort. After all, there is that pesky soul curse. No matter what he says, you can't bring your father happiness, can you? Doesn't that bug you just a little?" Sure bugged Liam.

"Angel isn't my father."

"He didn't think so, either." That got the boy's attention. He turned back around, surprise hanging on him like a blanket. "I'm sure Holtz told you all about Darla. Not the most chaste, not that I'm complaining. The things she could do were just..."

He looks disgusted. "I should apologize. After all, no young man should have to think of his mother that way, unless he's already screwing her." Another flinch. If he could just come a little closer.

"As I was saying, you don't have her eyes and I know it's been a while since I've seen a mirror but you certainly don't have mine either. You don't look like me at all - but he was pretty desperate to have anything to hold on after what he's lost - not that you'd ever care to know... Whatever you are, it isn't human and it isn't natural."

He quivered when that one struck home, his big hands clenching into fists. "I'm human," he snarled at me.

I ignored his little outburst. "But then you came back as a teen. Angry. Hating the world, hating your father. Closed off. Introspective. Violent. Full of lusty impulses you can't control. Something tells me Holtz wouldn't be proud of you for bedding Cordy - you sure didn't waste any time biting into that apple. Ah, but that's my boy. Maybe you should've brought us down some whiskey."

He tossed his hair. If I weren't a vampire, I wondered if I'd be able to tell him and Cordelia apart in the dark. They certainly had the same hairstyle and were about the same height. "So what if the curse didn't break. Says a lot more about Angel, than it does about me." He folded his arms and flashed me a triumphant grin. As if he'd gotten the better of me.

"You'd like to believe that." So much like young Liam. Pretending to hate, pretending not to care, but hanging on every word. "You do know about your conception, right? First night with Darla in a century. Angel tried to break the curse. Funny - he wanted to set me free. It didn't work but we got you out of the bargain. Boy, was she pissed about that! How irritating do you to be to make a soulless vampire want to give up on immortality? Conceived in misery and despair. The scrolls said you were 'Born out of Darkness to bring Darkness'. To think Connor, you are the only son Angel will ever hope to have and your birth doesn't bring him anything beyond the pretend kind of happiness. Neither does your return, even though you are supposed to be a great champion and comrade in arms."

He sneered at my comments. "Perhaps Angel doesn't want that."

I laughed. Perceptive as Connor may be, he still didn't see it all.

"But you ought to know what Angel wants. A family. The loving girl. A stout Irish lad to call his son, right?" I tap my fingers together then point both hands at Connor through the bars and wink. "Irony is, boy, you are the self-styled warrior of divine justice and Cordelia the loving woman and neither of you are enough. Man, that's gotta hurt." I smiled, shaking my head. "The girl who so quickly cast you aside, who wants me so badly. Both pale - and you really needed to get more sun, kid - pale replacements for Angel's deepest desire. The thing he wants the most. The last thought and word before he lost the soul - I know you're curious about what it was, Connor."

I stepped up close to the bars, pressing into them. I wanted to see his face when I said it. "Guess what - it wasn't you. And it wasn't Cordelia, either."

Connor smiled back at me, flipping his hair out of his eyes. Cocky. Too bad I could read him like a book, see it for the bravado it was. Kid was nervous, just too dumb to think I wouldn't notice. "Yeah? What was it, then?" he taunted me. "I didn't know he felt that way about Fred."

"Oh, Angel doesn't. Not that I don't want to give her a taste. Mmm, she's sweet, the finest elixir. And before you get nasty, he doesn't care for Gunn or Wes in that way, either."

I wink conspiratorially at the boy. "Do you think those two crazy guys will ever kiss and make up. They make such a cute couple."

The boy's face was blank at first then screwed into a disgusted mask. Guess Holtz didn't try him in Quor-Toth, then. The man had more willpower than I thought, as girly as Connor was. "No, Angel wasn't thinking of anyone in Los Angeles when that magic ripped his soul away. Oh, he was dreaming of fucking Cordelia but just 'cause she's the closest willing body. And she was very willing." I made sure Connor saw me lick my lips.

He started towards the cage, almost vibrating with his rage. "If you touch her," he began.

"You'll do what, boy?" I sneered back between the bars. "Kill me? Too late. I'm already dead. Don't forget it. I know about the Beast, remember?" I tapped a forefinger against my lips, letting the anger bleed away. It worked so much better when we weren't yelling at each other. "You need me." I rolled my eyes as I turned away from him, presenting him with my back. "Gosh, that's gotta suck, right? That you need me."

"I don't need anyone," Connor hissed. I could just picture his scrawny frame tensing up, wanting to jump me from behind. Wouldn't put it past him, either. Something to keep in mind when I got out of this cage.

"Yeah, 'cause you did so well the last time you fought the Beast," I reminded, spinning back around. I closed the distance between me and the bars again. "But I was telling you about Angel losing his soul, wasn't I? Don't you want to know what he said?"

"I don't care," the boy said sullenly. Teenagers.

I shrugged my shoulders and went back to the wall, sliding down it. "Okay," I said. "Just thought you might want a little more insight on Angel." I tapped out a rhythm on my bent knee and went back to singing The Teddy Bear's Picnic. I should stake Dru for sticking that song in my head.

The boy shifted his weight when he realized I was ignoring him, waiting almost patiently for me to say anything more. After I got through four stanzas, he burst out, "What was it?"
I kept singing. Lock me in cage, but look who's getting tortured.

Connor huffed up to the cell, banging his hands on the bars to get my attention. I shut up, raising my eyebrows at him. "What was it?" he asked again.

"It's very rude to interrupt a man while he's singing," I said loftily.

Connor's frustration leaked through his carefully constructed poise. Ah, youth. "Tell me, or I'll…" he let the threat dangle in the air.

"We've already talked about the lack of threat in your threats, dear boy" I said.

"Don't call me that" he gritted.

"Ah, but you're a pretty thing." Irony. Darla would never have let him grow into such a tiresome thing.

He slammed his palms against the bars again, his teeth bared ferally. "I want to know."

"Well, well." I grinned. "Why is that?"

"Father," he made sure to emphasis that word, "Father always told me to learn my enemies' weaknesses."

"So they can be exploited." I cocked my head. "I've used that strategy before. I could tell you stories…but I won't."

"You said you'd tell me what Angel said when he lost his soul," he said, blustering.

"No, I asked if you wanted to know. There's a difference." I lounged back, staring at my hands. There just wasn't enough blood to wash away all the good the soul had done while it was in this body.

"Tell me." He pressed his face into the space between the bars.

I didn't bother to look up. "Say 'please'." At his wordless snarl, I was on my feet and across my cell, looming over him. The kid had incredible reflexes, backing out of reach just as I got there. He smirked, folding his arms up and lifting an eyebrow. I didn't give him the satisfaction of the reaction he wanted and his grin faded into a sullen pout. "Go on. You know you want to know."

As if I'd dragged it out of him, Connor choked out, "Please."

"There, that wasn't so hard, was it?" I clapped my hands together. "Of course, I don't know how much you'd understand of this." I glanced towards the ceiling, indicating all those upstairs, possibly watching this play out on a television screen. "But they don't tell you much, do they? Have to keep you in the dark. It's because they don't really trust you."

He flung back his shoulders. "I don't trust them much, either," he said, as if it meant something to me.

"Whatever." I dismissed his comment with a wave of my hand. "You can tell them this, if you want. If they aren't watching it right now." I twiddled my fingers at the camera and winked. "'Cause it wasn't any happy thoughts of any of them or you or Cordelia. Or even worry for them. But I said that already, right?" I grinned sardonically. "Oh, I do hope you get this on tape, so Fred and Lorne can watch it over and over. I think they need to hear this the most."

"Just get on with it," Connor snapped, humming like a plucked harp string. "You yap like a vorcha bird."

"Timing is everything, boy. The sooner you learn it…well, it's probably lost on you anyway." I shrugged. "But since you asked so nicely, I'll tell you and you can go and ask them what it all means. I'm sure they'll be glad to answer, especially Cordy."

The boy growled. His impatience would get him killed one day, I thought. I just hoped I'd be around to watch. "Tell me," he grated out.

I studied him closely, letting his anger build. "You do know, all that anger can't be good for the soul - but then I've never thought anything good could be produced by Darla and myself."

Like 'Connor the Destroyer' - how unoriginal. "Since you asked nicely, I will. But only because you said 'please'. Remember, it's manners that get you ahead in this world, Connor." His wordless snarl brought a grin to my face. "Ah, ah. Politely."

"You're just dragging it out," Connor snapped.

I pretended to think about it. "You're right. Must be because I haven't had a chance to play in so long. And I've really, really missed it." I stalked along the inside of the bars, giving him a chilly smile. "But I said I'd tell you and here it is. The last thought on Angel's mind before he went away," I fluttered my fingers towards the ceiling, watching them go, "was of a girl." My gaze drifted back towards Connor, shifting from foot to foot.

He flushed when he noticed my attention. "Who?" he asked angrily.

"Buffy."



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