By: Anne Olsen and Michele Bumbarger
"This is, um, big." Angel stood on the stage behind the lecture podium of the empty auditorium sized lecture hall, gazing around. The deserted hall was the first they had found to be totally devoid of students, and the first private place to talk to one another. This was after Ami had belatedly realized that her suggestion to take a walk on the bright sunlight quad wasn't the wisest of ideas, and after Angel dismissed the idea of dragging her back through the sewers the way he had come.
Neither of them had mentioned her rather unique ability of teleportation. Ami received the distinct impression that her talent in that area was something that her new found associates were not all together comfortable with. Several times in the past few weeks she had managed to startle Doyle into spilling his coffee by her sudden appearances in the offices of Angel Investigations; Cordelia luckily enough had only dropped one designer bottle of water.
"They really teach classes in here?" Bemusement and a fraction of disbelief tainted the vampire's question.
Ami nodded, opting to take a seat on the edge of the stage. "Mostly introductory level classes. The 'weeder' classes."
"Weeder?" He stared back at her, his brow furrowing as he obviously sought to make sense of the term she used.
Smiling slightly, Ami recalled that Angel was not always on the same page as everyone else. The vampire existed in the modern world, but she realized more and more, each time she interacted with him, that existing in the modern world and acclimating to it were two different things. She still only knew what little of his past that Cordelia shared with her, and part of that knowledge was the understanding that even in Sunnydale, Angel had been alone and apart, separate from the people he sometimes helped.
"That's what they're called," Ami explained. "It's the students' way of explaining the basic beginning level classes. They're usually very large and not very easy. A great deal of reading, or lab work is involved and they serve the sole purpose of discouraging only the most devoted and die hard to remain enrolled at the university."
"Doesn't that defeat the purpose of college?" Angel was a vampire. A demon that could kill with his bare hands and had once fed off of human blood. Some would have called him a monster and trembled in fear, and yet at that moment, he didn't look very threatening at all. He looked like a man out of his element, trying to make sense of something that defied every logical thing he knew; he looked -- normal. If it hadn't been for her constant awareness of his demonic nature via the bond, and the fact that he was not reflecting in the polished glass behind him, Ami might have forgotten he was a vampire at all.
Ami shrugged. "I didn't design the curriculum."
"Right," Angel nodded distractedly, continuing to look around the auditorium. He ran his fingers over the podium and rapped lightly on the microphone. "They turn this on to teach, right?"
"Usually," Ami agreed. "Angel, haven't you ever been on campus before -- any campus?"
"Sunnydale High School," he answered simply. "Mostly the library though. Besides, I could never find enough night classes to keep me interested." He flashed her a slight smile in response to her stupefied shock at the joke that he made, and nodded. "Yeah, that's how Doyle and Cordelia usually react to my jokes, too."
Silence reigned after that. A heavy, uncomfortable silence that made Ami feel like a million eyes were watching her. She knew that wasn't the way that it was, knew that it was all just her imagination - there were only two other eyes present and those were avoiding looking at her.
"Angel, why are you here?" The words came out harshly and sounded rough to her ears. Ami winced, not meaning to sound so rude, but there seemed to be no other way around it. Angel was on campus, during daylight no less, and had purposefully sought her out for reasons that he had yet to reveal. It wasn't that Angel avoided her per se - maybe he didn't go out of his way to be the social butterfly but - all right, he did avoid her, but she learned that it wasn't completely her; Angel avoided the world whenever he could, she was beginning to accept it as normal.
Correction. According to Doyle and Cordelia, it was normal.
The vampire looked at her. "I just - I mean I thought - " Angel gestured with his hands in explanation, and still stumbling over the words, shoved his hands into his pockets, "I had a dream about you. You died."
Ami blinked at him. She was certain that somehow, somewhere she had missed a vital part of their conversation - like the reason that Angel would trek all the way to campus while the sun rode across the sky to tell her that.
Unless he had been holding back. Unless his dreams were like Doyle's visions and if that was the case . . .
Ami swallowed and pushed back the small knot of fear that clenched in her stomach. "Angel? I'm confused?"
"I thought it was real." Angel frowned, and shook his head, beginning to pace and gesture with his hands again. "I mean, I know that it's not real, because you're here and you're not dead, and - I'm not making sense." The vampire stopped and closed his eyes. Tilting his head backwards, his fist clenched at his side while he took and released a very unnatural deep breath. When he looked at her again, sable eyes were calmer, more distance, showing the detached being that Ami was far more familiar with.
Angel crouched beside her, hands folded. "It's just that it seemed so real. So, when you said that you weren't sleeping - maybe I'm just overreacting, I don't know. But I need you think for a minute Ami, really think - are you certain you're not dreaming?"
"About dying? No!" Ami leapt from the stage, shivering as a phantom chill crawled up her spine. "Thank you very much for asking, sorry to disappoint."
"Disa- no," Angel landed beside her in a heartbeat, his supernatural speed reminding her that he was a creature of the dark, one of those things that went bump in the night that she had been so frightened of as a young girl. Some nights - most nights actually - she wished that she had never learned the truth. "I didn't mean it like that, Ami. I don't want you - dead. I just - haven't you ever had a feeling about something? A bad feeling that you just can't shake and it doesn't make any sense, but it's there, so you have to find a reason for it?"
"Like finding out why a strange man would ask me if I'm happy and give me his business card?"
"When did a -" Angel stopped and Ami imagined that she might have actually seen his mouth quirk a bit as he rubbed the back of his neck and looked sheepishly away. "Yeah. I guess you would know about that, huh?"
"Yes, I would," Ami tugged on her shoulder strap, shifting her weight uncomfortably from one foot to the other. "Are there - are there things out there that can get to your dreams?"
Angel nodded. "You don't want me to tell you half of what's out there."
"Is that why you're worried? You think something has gotten to your dreams? Or my dreams?"
"I don't mean to scare you, Ami, but . . ." the vampire stopped, shoving his hands in his coat pockets, "Probably a little too late for that, huh?"
"Just a little."
Angel nodded. "I'll be honest, I'm a little worried. Maybe it's just me, but . . . would you do me a favor, and let me know if you have any weird dreams? Tell me if everything isn't okay?"
"Yes," Ami nodded, not certain what else to say or how to process the information that Angel had just given to her. "And you'll tell me if everything is?"
This time his mouth did quirk into a smile, barely more than the slight curving upwards of his lips, but enough. "You'll be the first to know."
[Back to Chapter Two]
[On to Chapter Four]
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