By: Anne Olsen and Michele Bumbarger
Ami could barely keep her eyes open. The only reason she was still awake and functioning under the influence of the monotonous drones of Professor Kimbell was because every five minutes or so, her roommate, Celia, would nudge her painfully in the ribs. If ribs weren't available, Celia settled for the sharp tip of a pencil in the arm or a simple kicking of Ami's calf. While at any other time, she would have growled at Celia and blamed the perky blonde's need for late night parties and lattes, today Ami knew her tired state was no fault of the other girl's. Ami had gone to bed early last night, just as she had the previous two nights, but she woke in the morning feeling as though she hadn't slept a wink.
She jerked, startled as Celia nudged her yet again, and tried to force her roaming attention back on the lethargy inducing voice of her professor. Belatedly, she realized that she didn't have to do so; class was finally over and students were gathering up their books and notes, eager to escape the confines of the auditorium and Professor Kimbell.
"Don't forget, test on Thursday, people. You will be responsible for chapter twenty-four material as well."
Celia frowned distastefully, "Twenty four! That is so unfair, we didn't even cover that in class."
As she gathered her notes together, Ami took a quick glance at the doodles that dotted the page and suppressed a grimace. The least of her worries was chapter twenty-four. She didn't even have a word of the review material that the professor had gone over this class session. "I guess this is what he meant when he said that he wouldn't 'baby' us."
"Baby us?" Celia asked. "He's not even giving us driving lessons! Nope, just throw us right behind the wheel and hope we don't hit a brick wall. We're freshmen, we're still getting adjusted to this whole college thing."
Ami yawned and slung her shoulder bag on her shoulder. "Maybe we need to adjust faster."
She turned, managing a half-smile at the sight of the young man hurrying up the auditorium stairs to join her. He raked his fingers through dark blonde locks, returning her smile with a friendly and rather attractive one of his own. "Hello, Pete."
Pete was flanked by two of his friends and fraternity buddies, but the Delta Rho didn't seem to care or acknowledge them as he came to stand besides Ami. "I didn't see you come in today. I thought maybe you were sick."
Ami shook her head, pointedly turning her back to Celia in hopes of ignoring the winks and lewd remarks her roommate was throwing in her direction. She buried a yawn in the palm of her hand, "No, I was late today. I overslept."
He nodded, falling into step besides her, "Hey, it happens to the best of us. Although if I overslept, I think I would just skip this class. You wouldn't believe how hard it is for me to stay awake in there."
Another yawn was covered in the depths of her hand and Ami nodded. "Yes, I would."
They were walking away from Doleman Auditorium now, and a quick glance over her shoulder revealed to Ami that she needed to have no concerns about Celia. The blonde was happily lodged between Pete's fraternity brothers, chatting animatedly and occasionally releasing a familiar peal of laughter that Ami often wondered whether or not she practiced.
"So, Thursday's test, are you ready for it?"
Something tickled the back of Ami's mind. The soft touches of something … not quite telepathy, but something that she just couldn't pin down … and then it faded. She paused, her weary mind and body trying to grasp the elusive thread, but it slipped away from her so quickly and quietly that she wondered if she had sensed anything at all.
Ami forced her attention to Pete. "Until today, I would have said yes to that question. But I was so tired in class that I could hardly take notes."
"Well, I've got notes. Maybe we could study together?"
The tickling awareness came again, stronger this time. Brushing against her mind, drawing her eyes away from the handsome coed at her side, to the shadows at the other end of the corridor. The pull was strong and familiar, and felt like a part of her and not something outside of her awareness. The more she centered on it, the stronger and more familiar it became until . . .
A figure took shape in the shadows. Leaning against the wall, clothed in black, a black coat hanging to his ankles. Students milled in and out of that particular hallway around him, seeming almost unaware of his presence. Ami got the peculiar feeling that those students were unaware of him; somehow she knew that she was seeing him because he wanted her to see him, to be aware that he was there.
"Ami?" The sound of Pete's voice drew her again and she blinked at him in confusion. "You awake over there?"
It took her a moment to regain the thread of their conversation. "Study together? Sure, that would be –" Ami resisted the urge to glance back over her shoulder; she could still feel him there. Lurking, waiting, watching her. Why? " – Great. Ring me?"
"You're not going to your next class?" Pete's confused words made her aware of the fact that Ami's feet were already in gear, moving towards the still concealed figure in the shadows.
Ami stopped and faced him, giving him a sheepish smile. "I – almost forgot – I have to talk to my advisor. Her office is in Stevenson. I'll talk to you later?"
Pete stared at her, the crease in his forehead telling her that he was truly debating whether or not to believe her, and whether or not she was telling the truth. Ami squared her shoulders and gave him a wave, then hurried off in the direction of Stevenson Hall – and the figure in the shadows. She was relieved when a last glance over her shoulder revealed that Pete had continued onward with his fraternity brothers and Celia.
The vampire stepped from the shadows as she approached. He glanced from her to Pete, "I didn't mean to pull you away."
Ami stared at him, a half of dozen questions on the tip of her tongue. The vampire made a point to keep to himself, and even with the bond between them, he still managed to keep his distance and hold her at arm's length. She, personally, had only seen him at the office. She would never have believed that he actually left the building if it hadn't been for their first meeting at Club Indigo and the two opportunities she had to witness one of Doyle's visions and watch as the vampire and half-demon left to save souls and battle evil.
"What are you doing here?" Were the first words she actually managed to summon. Not that she wasn't happy to see him, but it was unprecedented. And she knew enough about Angel to know that unprecedented usually wasn't good. "How did you –"
"Sewers and electrical tunnels. They run all under campus," Angel chose to answer the second question first. "Are you okay?"
The question surprised her, but not as much as his question of 'Are you happy' had the night of their first meeting. "I'm fine."
"Then, you aren't – you're not having nightmares?"
Ami shook her head, wondering where this line of question and inquire was coming from. Cordelia hadn't called her to tell her to expect Angel, and she knew that the would-be actress would have alerted Ami if she was the center of Doyle's vision yet again. "No, no nightmares. Angel, is something going on that I should know about?"
The vampire was silent. He shoved his hands in his coat pockets and appeared to consider her words. "No, I guess not. I guess I'm just overreacting." He leaned against the wall, and closed his eyes for a brief moment. As he did, Ami noticed that he was pale – not that being pale wasn't to be expected, Angel certainly would never be a sun god – but for some reason he seemed paler than normal. Pale and haggard.
Ami touched him gently on the arm, more than a little worried. Something was not right about this. "Angel?"
He startled under her touch, his eyes going wide and his entire body jerking as though someone had just abruptly woken him from a sound sleep. Ami felt the demon rouse at the sudden movement and she instinctively backed up a step.
Angel's dark eyes flickered to her, and she felt the tiniest sliver of guilt and remorse as he recognized that he had frightened her. "I'm sorry. I just – drifted. I haven't been sleeping well."
His words reminded Ami of her nights of uncomfortable sleep and she released yet another yawn. "Join the club."
Something flashed in Angel's eyes – fear and confusion, mixed with worry. There was the briefest of flashes in her mind's eye – a body falling and spilled blood – as the vampire seemed to come to full alertness, his hand gently wrapping around her arm. "Come on, we have to talk."
[Back to Chapter One]
[On to Chapter Three]
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