Note: Thanks to Moon for the beta for this chapter.
Angel was in a much better mood when he woke up that afternoon. He was still annoyed at the Doyles, but now he was also concerned for them. The snatches of the fight he’d heard had been harsh. Despite his earlier intentions of giving the couple a day to cool down, Angel thought he may try and contact the couple that evening to check in.
Harry’s typical rambunctious play distracted him that afternoon. Even with both of them functioning on little sleep, they managed to keep nearly to their usual schedule. His plans to call would have probably slipped his mind entirely if it hadn’t been for the knock on his door while he made supper.
Angel checked the peephole and was surprised to see Allen standing on the other side. Angel carefully opened the door, avoiding the last rays of sunlight and gestured for the man to come in.
“Allen, what a surprise. What brings you over?” Angel asked as he closed the door.
“I wanted to apologize for this morning. I feel awful about leaving Harry like that. Little guy didn’t deserve to be brought into our fight.”
“No he didn’t,” Angel said, coming across slightly more gruff than he felt. “Come on, we’ll have to continue this in the kitchen. I’m fixing Harry’s supper.”
As they walked into the kitchen, Harry spotted Allen entering and waved at him.
“All’n, hi,” he said, cheerfully. “Da making supper. We’re having cheese toasties.”
“Hello Harry,” Allen said, his whole demeanor altering into ‘teacher mode’ as he spoke to the boy. “Lucky for you I ate before I came over. Cheese toasties are my favorite. I might have eaten them all,” Allen gave the toddler a conspiratory wink.
“No!” Harry said, giggling. “You hafta share.”
“I do?” Allen said, acting overly startled. He was clearly warming into the act.
“Uh huh. You said so.”
“Uh huh. ‘Cause sharing is ‘portant, an’ helps us make friends,” Harry replied, obviously quoting Allen’s own words.
“Oh. Well I guess I’d better share then, since I want to be your friend.”
“You are my friend, silly,” Harry said, giggling again. Then he turned towards Angel. “Da, All’n’s bein’ silly,” the boy said with all the pomp a toddler could muster.
“I can see that,” Angel replied, turning briefly from his position by the stove to answer his son. “Can I get you anything, Allen?” Angel asked.
“Nah, I’m good, thanks.”
Angel placed Harry’s meal in front of him and sat down, gesturing for Allen to do the same. Both adults lapsed into silence as Harry dug into his meal. Finally Angel broke the silence, at least a little bit.
“So…,” he started, but found himself unable to think how to finish.
“Yeah, so,” Allen replied, his voice half sigh, half mirthless chuckle.
“Does Harry know you’re here?”
“Don’t know. She left a little after you did. Said it was her turn to get some space. She probably won’t come home drunk and angry like I did, either. Lord knows I deserve it, though, after the way I unloaded on her.”
“What happened, Allen?”
Allen’s eyes flicked to little Harry, who seemed oblivious to the conversation the two adults were having as he ate.
“What did the little guy say?”
“That you sneezed and turned green and pointy,” Angel replied.
“That’s the short version,” Allen said, sighing again and shaking his head.
“And the long version?”
“Apparently the reason I’ve never met my dad has less to do with him being a low down lout and more to do with him not being human.”
Angel’s eyes widened slightly with the revelation.
“Your mom didn’t tell you?”
“It didn’t show,” Allen answered with a shrug. “That’s what she told me. It didn’t show so she figured why bother. I was only barely aware of the existence of demons ‘til I met Harry. So why make things more complicated by telling me my pop was missing for anything more complicated than bein’ a drunk, which she was quick to add, he was.”
“What did she say when she heard it was showing now?”
Allen made an angry noise that was almost a growl.
“She said I was lucky I could change back at all. She said that a lot of half bloods couldn’t pass as human. I asked her if she thought the fact I might not have been able to change might have been a reason to tell me sooner.”
“What did she say?” Angel asked when Allen stopped.
Allen gave another glance towards Harry, who was finishing his supper.
“Let’s just say her response was a reminder of why my mum and I don’t get along.”
Angel remained silent, not quite sure how to respond to Allen’s story. Finally he asked the question which had been at the back of his mind since he heard about the incident.
“Did she tell you what kind of demon he was?”
“Brachen,” Allen answered. “Not that that tells me much.”
“You didn’t look it up?” Angel asked, incredulously.
“Where?” Allen scoffed. “My reading textbooks? I don’t think demonology is in the curriculum this year.”
“Allen, your wife studies demons for a living. Surely you could have found something if you looked in her books.”
“I wouldn’t even know where to start, and even if I did, why would I want to?”
“So you can understand it. Know if there is anything else you should expect,” the vampire’s tone was a mixture of confusion and concern.
“Why?” Allen asked angrily. “All the understanding in the world ain’t changing’ it. It’s in my bloody genes. I can’t get it out. Knowing the facts and figures of it won’t make me any less of a monster.”
Angel felt as if he’d been physically slapped by the man’s harsh words. While he knew the man’s anger was more directed at his own situation, Angel couldn’t help being hurt. The vampire had come to see the man as a friend, one of the few who was able to look past his demonic nature and see him as a person. Now he wondered if Allen was simply ignoring it, rather than accepting it. His face hardened as he gave Allen a hard stare, while trying to reign in his temper.
“Being a demon doesn’t make you a monster.”
“Doesn’t it?” Allen shot back angrily.
Angel shifted into his demon features, glaring at Allen with amber eyes.
“Not unless you let it.”
Allen seemed to realize how his words could have been hurtful, but before he could do more than open his mouth to apologize, Harry cut it.
“Da go grrr,” he said, clapping and giggling while scrunching his face to simulate Angel’s demonic features. “All’n do it, too,” he demanded.
Allen gave the boy an unreadable look, then spoke quietly, avoiding Angel’s eyes by speaking to his son.
“I don’t know how.”
“Sneeze,” Harry commanded, imperiously, as if his request were the simplest thing in the world.
“I’m afraid I can’t do that on demand,” the man replied.
“Allen,” Angel said quietly, causing the man to turn towards him. He got a face full of pepper for his trouble. The resulting sneeze was thunderous, and left Allen covered in bluish green skin and spikes, glaring at Angel with red eyes.
Harry laughed and clapped at the display. Then he settled down to regard Allen critically.
“I’m glad someone is happy,” Allen muttered. “That was a damn dirty trick, Angel,” he spat at the vampire, who was still in demon face.
“True,” Angel allowed, “But it proved a point.”
“And that was?” Allen snapped.
“Unless you learn about the demon and learn how to control it, it will pop up at the worst times.”
“An’ I still say, I’d rather it not be popin’ up at all, an’ all the learning in the world isn’t going to stop that,” suddenly his attention turned back towards Harry. “What are you starin’ at,” he asked, uncharacteristically harsh towards the boy.
The harsh tone didn’t seem to phase Harry, although it drew a soft growl from his father. Before Angel could form a reprimand for the man, Harry answered the question.
“Da’s grrr is better,” the boy declared solemnly.
“Yeah, your Da’s demon is a right pleasure, I’ve heard,” Allen replied sarcastically.
Angel gave Allen a glare, along with another growl before turning his attention towards his son.
“I’m glad you like my grrr, Harry, but you remember what I’ve told you.”
“Tha’ you’re special, like me. An’ your grr is the only vamp’re grrr, that’s good. So if I see another vamp’re I’m ‘posed to scream for help and run way.”
“That’s right,” Angel said, standing to clear away Harry’s dirty dishes and pausing to kiss the boy on the forehead as he did so.
“Great lesson. I can feel the ‘go demon’ vibes just rolling off of you,” Allen said, shaking his head, his features fading back towards human.
“Be angry with me if you want, Allen, but that doesn’t make what I’m saying any less true. You’re right, you can’t make the demon part of you go away, but if you learn about it then you can control it and you can live a pretty normal life. If you try and ignore it and remain ignorant than eventually it’s going to take over your life and end up controlling you. Believe me, I know.”
Allen let out a frustrated sigh, shaking his head as if denying what Angel was saying.
“I don’t know if I can.”
“It all depends on what you want and how bad you want it.”
“I, I just can’t, not now, not yet.”
It was Angel’s turn to sigh this time, finally shaking off the ridges and fangs.
“Go home, Allen. When your wife comes home, talk to her instead of yelling at her. If you won’t listen to me, maybe you will listen to her.”
“If she comes home at all.”
“She will. I meant what I said this morning. You two love each other too much to let this push you apart.”
“You’re an expert in relationships now too?”
“Go home, Allen, before your bad attitude makes me decide I don’t want my son around you at all anymore.”
Allen’s face softened and for a moment it seemed like he would apologize. Then the moment was gone and he headed for the door. Angel followed.
“Whatever. Just let me know if you’re dropping the kid off ahead of time,” the man responded, then he was out the door.
Angel shook his head, as he locked up behind Allen, then turned back towards the kitchen. Allen was taking this pretty hard for someone who had exposure to the supernatural. A lot of the man’s prejudices were showing. It wasn’t a pretty sight.
Harry looked expectantly towards his father when Angel came into the kitchen. He raised his arms towards Angel, signaling his readiness to get out of his seat. Angel gathered the boy into his arms and gave him another kiss and a hug.
“All’n still mad,” Harry decreed solemnly.
“Yeah, yeah he is,” Angel agreed. Inside he was hoping that because of his anger, the man didn’t do something stupid.