Entangled

By: Anne Olsen and Michele Bumbarger

Chapter Eight

Silence could be a good thing. There were times when silence could even be a blessing. Some mornings, when Doyle awoke with a million jack hammers pounding into his skull and his mouth tasting as though something had crawled up in it and died, Doyle longed to be surrounded by silence. On those mornings, silence did not echo and reverberate through his skull like a percussion band; silence did not make him want to curl into a ball and die.

This, however, was not one of those times when Doyle wanted silence.

The small office of Angel Investigations was smothering in the silence of today. Sitting behind the desk, flipping through one of Cordelia's fashion magazines and wondering how she could read this stuff, although the pictures were quite pleasing to the eye, Doyle was truly beginning to hate the silence. He missed Cordelia's endless prattle, he missed the giggles and mind-numbing discussions of auditions and college men that the starlet and Ami engaged in. Doyle missed it because the only company he had at this time was a two hundred and some years old vampire who was currently doing what he did best -- brooding in the back office.

For the first time in a very, very long time, Doyle wished for one of those mind-splitting, skull-cracking visions that the Powers felt the need to share with him from time to time.

Realizing that the Powers had no intentions of obliging him, and acknowledging that even he could grow tired of staring at pictures of willowy models, Doyle tossed the magazine aside. He pushed back from the desk, and walked over to the back office door. The Irishman waited a few moments, observing the vampire and waiting for Angel to acknowledge him. When it became evident that Angel, like the Powers, had no designs on fulfilling his expectations, he knocked and cleared his throat.

"Doyle?" Angel perused a book, crossed ankles propped up on the desk. His eyes did not raise from the book, and the single word carried far more weight than would have thought was possible to put into one word. However, he had learned some things from his time with Angel, and one of the things he learned was that the vampire was a minimalist; the less he had to say, hell, the less he had to interact, the happier Angel was.

Somehow, Doyle had been hoping that would change. He thought that bringing Cordelia on board would provide Angel's contact with humanity, his humanizing influence. While he wouldn't say that it had failed, Cordelia's idiosyncrasies certainly could get a response from Angel when nothing else could, the vampire still had a long way to go. He was on the right road, but it would take further steps to get him where he needed to be. Evidently the Powers thought that Ami would be just the person to get him there, but from what Doyle had observed neither vampire or Tomorrow Person was taking any giant strides in that direction.

For a moment, Doyle considered turning around and leaving Angel alone with his book. The thought only filtered through his consciousness for a moment though, before he stepped further into the office. "I was goin' to go out and grab a bite --"

"I'll stay in," Angel turned the page of the book, never raising his eyes, "I try to avoid immolation."

Doyle grinned in appreciation of the vampire's sarcasm and dry humor. "I was goin' to ask ya if ya wanted me to bring ya back anything."

"I'm good."

Knowing that he would receive no further input, Doyle nodded, and turned away from the door, "Right then."

He slipped on his jacket, and threw open the office door, nearly colliding with the person preparing to enter the office. Adam gave him a sheepish grin, "Sorry, Doyle, I wasn't expecting anyone to be leaving."

The mild heart attack that near collision gave Doyle was nothing compared to the massive coronaries he normally had when Adam or Megabyte decided to just materialize out of thin air. Ami tried to give warning of when to anticipate one of her fellow Tomorrow People, but it was never enough for Doyle. Something just wasn't natural about disappearing and re-appearing the way they did at the drop of a hat. Doyle conveniently ignored the taunting that voice that reminded him that it could also be argued that there was nothing natural about being a half-demon who worked for a vampire.

"That's all right," Doyle shrugged, "I wasn't expectin' anyone to be comin'. Business is slow. But, um, the lass -- Ami -- she's not here right now."

"I know," the Australian slipped past Doyle and into the office, hands shoved in his pockets. He squinted as his motion put him directly in a patch of sunlight, and rubbed his eyes, backing away. He looked tired and haggard, but Doyle didn't think it was his place to ask.

"Anyway, I was kind of hoping I could talk to Angel," Adam continued. He swallowed nervously and Doyle could smell the adrenaline level rising in the young man. The nervousness Doyle could understand. Most people didn't talk to vampires everyday, and the awkwardness and apprehension that the vampire instilled in Ami's fellow Tomorrow People was evident each time they appeared at the office, studiously 'checking up on' the young woman. "Is he around?"

With a nod of his head, Doyle indicated Angel's office. The vampire had not yet appeared in the doorway, but the half-demon knew that his employer was well aware that someone had entered the office. "He's readin'."

Adam nodded, and his dark eyes darted over his shoulder towards the office door before returning to Doyle, "Do you think he would mind if . . . if I talked to him?"

"Well, not being a master of social interaction, I'm pretty sure Angel would be happy if no one talked to him, but," Doyle met the eyes of the party in discussion over Adam's shoulder, the vampire having positioned himself in the office doorway, "You could ask him yourself."

Adam turned. His voice was nonchalant, although the scents Doyle picked up coming off of him were anything but. "Angel."

Angel folded his arms across his chest and continued to lean in the doorway. "Adam."

"You have a minute?" the Tomorrow Person took a step forwards, towards the vampire then paused as he evidently thought better of it. "I wanted to talk to you."

"So, I heard. What about?"

"Ami."

That one word spoke volumes. If the tension in the room had been a physical thing, it would have been a weight of several tons pressing down on all of them, and forcing the oxygen out of the environment. To the untrained eye, Angel didn't even appear to react to the Tomorrow Person's name, but Doyle had been observing Angel long enough to read the vampire. His face tightened just a bit, his stance straightened just a little, and Doyle could see the mask falling over Angel's features. Adam, in contrast, grew even more nervous.

"Well then, I'll just be slippin' out for -"

"You can stay." Angel and Adam said the words in unison, two pairs of dark eyes silently pleading with the Irishman to not go anywhere.

"Or, I can just hang around for a bit," Doyle shrugged.

The silence was unbearable.

With a sigh, Doyle acknowledged that the two in the room were not going to go any further without prompting. Adam, for what were probably very good reasons, did not trust Angel, and Angel . . . well, typical of Angel, felt that he deserved that scorn and felt as uncomfortable around the Tomorrow People as they did around him. "So, Adam, what's this about Ami?"

The look the Australian gave him overflowed with gratitude. He divided his attention between the half-demon and Angel, clearly more comfortable talking to Doyle than Angel. "Megabyte and I -- we've been having these dreams -- about Ami and Angel."

That got Doyle's attention. Angel's as well, as evidenced from the way the vampire unfolded from his slouch, his eyes focusing intently on Adam.

"Dreams?" Doyle prompted, "What kind of dreams."

Adam raked his hands through his hair. "Nightmares really. They're disturbing. We were wondering if maybe . . . if maybe Angel was having these same dreams. Ami says she isn't but . . ."

"You don't believe her," Angel filled in the words that Adam wouldn't say.

The Australian appeared taken aback by that, but nodded his head in agreement. "She looked tired and -- maybe, we're just imagining things but --"

"These dreams, they wouldn't have anything to do with Ami throwin' herself off of buildings would they?"

Adam blinked in surprise, as his brain clearly sought to figure out how Doyle knew the content of the dreams. However, acceptance and understanding dawned as Angel spoke up quietly.

"I thought you didn't believe me."

"I didn't believe ya," Doyle admitted, "Who knows what that guilty conscience of yours might torture ya with. But this . . . this is backup."

Adam took a step closer to Angel and paused again. "You've been having dreams too?"

"Maybe. A few." The vampire's words were guarded, the subtle stiffening of his shoulders the only indication that the young man's words bothered him.

"Did you have one last night? A really bad one?"

"I don't know," Angel gave a shrug. "I don't remember."

Doyle prided himself on being able to read people, and if this conversation had been a poker game, Angel would have lost a long time ago. He didn't however, give his observation away to Adam, who seemed to be pondering the vampire's words with some confusion. Instead, he merely prodded, "What happened in last night's dream?"

"Ami --" Adam paused, his brow furrowing and for a moment Doyle regretted asking the question. It was clear that whatever the dream had been about, it truly disturbed Adam. "Ami was different. She killed . . . Angel."

The Irishman looked to the vampire, the lack of shock on the other's face telling him all he needed to know about whether or not Angel had shared the same dream. "Well, Angel, I'm sure ya would remember a dream like that."

"I'm sure," Angel agreed. He looked away from Doyle, folding and refolding his arms around his chest. "What did you want from me, Adam?"

"I don't know. I thought that if maybe you were having the dreams, then --" Adam shrugged and rubbed the back of his neck, clearly a nervous habit. "Or maybe you might have an idea about what's causing them -"

"You think I'm causing them."

Doyle heard the faint edge of bitterness and guilty resignation in Angel's voice and quickly jumped into the conversation. "Angel, man, he didn't say that."

"He didn't have to. But that's what this is about. He thinks I'm infecting Ami."

"That's not it!" Adam protested, perhaps more vehemently than he intended if the color that suffused his cheeks was any indication. "I'm just -- we're worried about her. We're worried about what these dreams mean. You didn't see her. She says she's not having any dreams, but she was tired, she can't be sleeping well. I just want to make sure she's not in danger."

"Don't worry, I haven't gotten a hankering for seconds yet. But you'll be the first to know." The words were cold, hard and made Doyle gasp as a dark, maliciousness he had not seen in Angel before reared its ugly head. Without waiting for a response, Angel turned and walked into the elevator, slamming the gate closed behind him.

Adam recovered first, and moved to follow the vampire, but Doyle grabbed his arm.

"I know ya can't be that stupid," Doyle observed.

"He threatened Ami."

"No," Doyle shook his head, his mind rooting around to find the logic behind the vampire's words. He knew Angel better than that, at least he thought he did, and the vampire's defense mechanisms really shouldn't have been that much of a surprise. "He wouldn't hurt her, Adam."

"You don't know that. You heard what he said."

"I heard him say exactly what ya expected to hear," Doyle pointed out. "Look, I know Angel. He felt cornered, he fought back. He's not the sharing type."

"Doyle I know he's your friend --"

"And the lass is my friend too. Trust me on this, if ya don't trust Angel. I wouldn't say that she was safe from him, if I didn't believe it. The Powers put them together for a reason, and that reason wasn't to give Angel an all ya can eat buffet." Doyle glanced towards the elevator then back to Adam. "Let me talk to him. We've been kind of talkin' about these dreams, I think he might be a little more reasonable when he's calmed down and doesn't feel like yer comin' to stake him out in sunlight."

Indecision and fear warred in Adam's features, but after a long moment, the Tomorrow Person nodded. "I'm trusting you, Doyle."

"I won't let ya down. I won't let anything happen to the lass either."

With another curt nod, the Tomorrow Person vanished, disappearing as though he had never been there at all. Doyle stared at his lingering after-image, amending his early statement that teleportation wasn't natural; it may not have been natural, but it was useful.

Doyle put the closed sign in the door and headed downstairs to deal with a surly vampire.

******


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