Entangled

By: Anne Olsen and Michele Bumbarger



Chapter Fifteen

"You know, if you have this pressing need to be stabbed by sharp, pointy objects, you can just ask me or Doyle to do it." Angel winced as Cordelia crowded into his space, cleaning the wound that Ami had inflicted upon. It wasn't the overbearing presence of the starlet that made him wince, or even her ongoing tirade regarding the levels of insensitivity he demonstrated when he put himself in danger, got hurt and then expected her to bandage him up. No, he winced because at that moment, Cordelia chose to dig into the wound with her tweezers, without providing him any warning.

"I may be dead, but I still feel pain, Cordelia."

She looked up from the physical abuse she applied to his body long enough to give him a disbelieving glance. "Like this hurts worse than having a big piece of wood shoved through your shoulder. I don't think so." Then she dove again at the last splinters with newfound enthusiasm, her warning words, "This might hurt a little more," coming a bit too late.

Angel growled and backed away from her. Or rather, he attempted to, but there was really no where for him to go when she had him cornered up against his leather couch.

One perfect eyebrow arched upwards, bloodied tweezers, complete with a long, bloody splinter waved in front of his face. "See? Told you this was a big one."

"Are you sure that's not bone, Princess?" The words from Doyle, leaning comfortably back in the arm chair, were tinged with humor.

"I think I've done this enough that I know the difference between wood and bone, dorkus." Cordelia discarded the tweezers and reached for the bottle of alcohol and gauze. "And don't call me that."

"Sorry," Doyle apologized. "Princess."

Angel gritted his teeth as Cordelia swabbed at the wound with far more pressure than she might have if Doyle hadn't spoken. He glared at the Irishman over Cordelia's ducked head, promising paybacks later. His glaring was interrupted however by the stinging pain produced when Cordelia poked at the wound and he swung his attention towards her. "Did I do something wrong?"

Hazel eyes blinked at him. "Boy, you really are being a baby tonight. You're normally not this sensitive."

"You normally aren't trying to poke my insides out."

"Exaggerate much?" Cordelia retorted, then took a step back, waving the gauze and tape in front of him. "You want to do this yourself?"

As tempting as the thought was, Angel realized that the position of the wound really wouldn't allow him the access that he needed. Without a word, he deferred back to Cordelia's nursing skills, such as they were, and sunk into the sofa with a very human sigh.

This just was not his day.

"I thought you would see it my way." The starlet gave a sniff of pride and returned to her work, but Angel noticed this time she was at least being more gentle and not taking her frustrations on Doyle out on the vampire. "So, how did you get staked anyway? You never did say."

Angel shifted uncomfortably. This time the discomfort came not from the medical attention he was receiving, but from his desire to avoid talking about what happened in Ami's dorm room. The longer he had to think and reflect, the less Angel wanted to talk about it because he realized that he still really had no true understanding of what had happened in Ami's dorm room. The vampire only hoped that Adam and Megabyte were making some sort of progress with the young woman. He hoped, but Angel didn't feel particularly confident towards that happening.

Something in Ami's behavior was well, off. And it wasn't just the fact that she had come at him with a stake in her hand. That had only been the metaphorical icing on the metaphorical cake, the confirmation that something was not quite right with the Tomorrow Person. Ironically enough, he was the one soul bound to her and he knew her the least, and knew the least about dealing with her. He'd been reluctant to turn her over to Adam and Megabyte, but had been left with few other options.

Realizing that both Cordelia and Doyle were still waiting for an answer, Angel sighed again. There was some small comfort in that very human gesture. "It was a misunderstanding."

"Lucky you, because from where I'm standing, it looks like they misunderstood the difference between your heart and your shoulder."

Doyle rose up, eyeing the vampire critically. "What sort of misunderstanding? This wouldn't have anything to do with our good buddy Cordovan, would it?"

"No." Angel looked down as Cordelia taped the gauze in place. "Are you done?"

"Why? You have a date?"

"So, who staked you, man?" Doyle pressed, coming closer. "Did something go after the lass -"

"What's Ami got to do with this?" Cordelia smoothed out the bandage and smiled at her handiwork. "Now, I'm done."

The vampire leapt up from the sofa, slipping between the two humans as quickly as he could. He didn't like having them crowding his space like that, particularly not when they were asking questions that he wasn't in the mood to answer yet. Correction, when they were asking him questions that he was not equipped to answer.

Noting the glance that they exchanged, but pretending not to, Angel stalked towards his bedroom in pursuit of a clean shirt - and the avoidance of the round of twenty questions that was about to come his way.

"He was headed over to talk to Ami when he left here earlier," Doyle spoke to Cordelia in a soft voice, but it was not soft enough to avoid being picked up by Angel's preternatural hearing.

"Well, I hope she was a little less wiggy than when I saw her." Cordelia didn't make any attempt to lower her voice. "Do you know she actually begged off from going to the movies and shopping?"

"And that's wiggy?" Angel could hear the humor in Doyle's voice, and other any other circumstances, he might have found Cordelia's indignation amusing as well. The world did not revolve around shoe sales and cappuccinos, no matter what the former May Queen might protest otherwise. In this case, though, Angel had to agree with 'wiggy' as a description of Ami's behavior.

The vampire jerked a shirt off the hanger, and slipped it on, heading back into the living area.

"Well, yeah, sort of. I mean, it wasn't just that she didn't want to do the shopping gig, but she was - I don't know - she was just kind of -"

"Rude? Withdrawn?" Angel volunteered.

Cordelia snapped her finger and pointed at him. "That's it exactly. So, I guess she was weird when you got there too, huh?"

Angel focused his attention on buttoning his shirt. He knew that his next words were going to come as a surprise to his seer and secretary. Hell, the events of the afternoon still unsettled him and he had a while to think on them. But, if Cordelia had witnessed some strange behavior, it had to be discussed. There might be a clue, a hint, something she noticed that Angel hadn't. The chances were slim, but it was still a possibility.

"Ami stabbed me."

"Excuse me?"

"Come again?"

The vampire looked up, dividing his gaze between the disbelieving blue and hazel eyes that focused on him. He indicated his shoulder with a negligent flick of his wrist. "Ami. My shoulder."

"Are you feeling okay?" Cordelia was standing before him in a few strides, her hand reaching towards his forehead. "I mean I know you're not supposed to get like gangrene or anything but -"

"I'm fine, Cordelia." He dodged her hand and batted it away, side stepping her. Angel looked from one to the other, "Look, I know how crazy it sounds. But trust me, I was there. Ami stabbed me."

Doyle tilted his head thoughtfully. "Why would she stab you?"

"Because she was trying to stake me and I held her off."

"Trying to -" Doyle paused, clearly stumbling over the notion. "But I thought that Tomorrow People couldn't kill."

"They can't," Angel admitted, sinking to the sofa and folding his hands. "Adam and Megabyte were confused too. And Ami - she didn't even really know what she did. She was so confused." Angel trailed off recalling the fear and confusion he had felt coming from her, coming through their bond. In those few moments after her attack, when he had dared to get closer to her than he had ever tried to before, actually moving into her mind, into the very fringe of her consciousness, he had seen and felt more confusion and disorientation than he thought one person could feel. Then it had faded, nearly as quickly as he had found it, and he had retreated, allowing her the privacy she needed and feeling guilty for having even breached it. He didn't know what had possessed him at that time, but now was not the time to speculate on it. Instead, he held onto those tendrils of emotion, the ones that slipped through his fingers almost like smoke. "She was afraid and so lost."

"So psychotic!" The outburst came from Cordelia who stalked around the sofa and sat down heavily. "I knew it! I knew this bond was just a bad thing waiting to happen!"

"Cordelia, you remember when we talked about being supportive?"

"Yeah, well that was before little Miss Teleportation decided to go psycho and try to kill Angel. Or doesn't that bother you?"

"I'm sure there's an explanation. Why don't we let Angel finish telling us -"

"What if Cordelia's right?" Angel asked quietly. "What if it's what I've been thinking all along, Doyle? What if being this close to me is doing something to Ami?"

"See, he agrees. Bond. Bad."

"I don't think it's that black and -" Angel paused and flinched, a tremor going through his entire body. For one brief moment, the entire world shifted, blurred and faded and he literally felt as though layers of his mind and soul were being stripped away. Phantom fingers trailed ice along his spine, tiny fingers spread throughout his being, and he leapt to his feet, searching for the source of the intrusion.

"Angel?"

"Angel, man?"

And then the world was back, in full clear Technicolor. Technicolor that featured Cordelia and Doyle both poised anxiously between approaching him and backing away.

"You're not about to 'grr' are you?"

"No, I -" Angel gave a last glance around his basement apartment and shook his head to clear it. Whatever it had been, it was gone now. There was no one with them in the apartment, or even in the office above according to his vampiric senses. "I thought I sensed something."

Doyle dared to brave the distance between them, although Angel could scent the traces of fear coming from the half-demon. Small and minute, buried beneath worry, but still there. "Sensing something like what?"

"I don't know," Angel answered honestly, having no other way to describe the elusive phantom awareness that touched him and vanished. He focused his mind inward, ignoring the growling and prowling of the demon, searching for the remnants and finding nothing. Or rather, feeling like something was missing; something vital that he simply could not put his finger on.

"You've had a long day, Angel, what with being staked an all. Maybe you should get some - Blessed Mother!"

It took a moment for Angel to realize that Doyle's exclamation came not from some threat in the apartment, but rather from the threat he saw in his mind. Only a few mortal heartbeats for Angel to recognize the way the Irishman toppled forward in pain, clutching his head, twisting as though he might shake off both the pain and the horrors he saw.

Angel caught him before he toppled onto the floor, easing Doyle to the sofa as the vision peaked and waned. He was peripherally aware of Cordelia moving around the apartment, gathering the prerequisite aspirin and scotch that the man would want when the vision concluded.

This time, as Doyle sank back, blinking away tears of pain, Angel did not have to prompt him for the details of the vision. "It's the lass. She's in trouble. She's on a roof."

If he'd had a beating heart, it would have stopped at that moment, Angel was certain of it. In his mind's eye, the dreams flashed in rapid succession, one after another, always Ami and always the rooftop.

"Where?" Angel shook his head, standing. "No, I know where. Don't ask me how, but I know where." He crossed the room and gathered his coat.

"Angel, Giselle is there." Doyle accepted the aspirin and scotch from Cordelia, barely acknowledging her as he kept his attention trained on the vampire. "She's up to something. Magick of some sort. I only got bits and pieces -"

"Enough to stop her?"

"Maybe."

Angel pulled on his coat and gestured to the bookcases. "Then research it. Do whatever it takes to figure out your whole vision."

"Where are you going?" Cordelia demanded.

"To save Ami," the vampire stalked towards the door, calling out his last words over his shoulder. "I don't have time to wait."

******
To Be Continued...
[Back to Chapter Fourteen]

angstqueen@hotmail.com and/or anneo@paradise.net.nz

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