It all comes full circle.
I don't know how long I stood there, torn between wanting to cry and wanting to scream. I stared into a familiar set of brown eyes that I thought I would never see again. They were the same warm, familiar cozy brown and yet somehow they were older, harder and colder at the same time. Long mahogany hair was pulled back in the trademark ponytail and held in place by a faux silver clip. His suit was tailor made, and the deep red collarless shirt he wore beneath it was the finest silk and managed to make him look even paler than he was.
I felt him slide against my mind, and I pushed back snapping all my shields down for all they were worth. He was stronger than Ahnold and the other one, and he somehow felt older than them as well, but I knew that couldn't be. He blinked when I resisted, a momentary flash of surprise flickering across his face before he schooled it back into an unreadable mask.
"Ami?" I heard Marty's voice, but I couldn't find my own to answer her. I couldn't pull my eyes away from the figure of Adam, the figure that had once been Adam but was now no more than an undead shell. "I'm sorry, Adam, I wasn't expecting this particular reaction --"
"I assure you, it's not a problem, Ms. Nuemiller. I'm sure that you probably don't get many clients of my ... status."
I wanted to scream at them both to shut up, to stop acting like this was normal, like anything in this room was normal. Yet, I couldn't do anything but stare at Adam. I would have liked to blame vampiric thrall on my paralysis but knew that was not the case. If anything, I could tell that Adam's attempt to move inside my head had been to make me deny knowledge of him, to make me not recognize him.
My defensive gift was suddenly a curse.
With a grace and ease that was both elegant and sensual at the same time and could only be preternatural, Adam rose from his seat and extended his hand to me. "Please, Ami, I may call you, Ami, correct? Please sit down."
My eyes darted from face to his hand and back again.
I couldn't do this. I couldn't do this.
"I'm going to be sick." I regained control of my body, spun on my heel and fled Marty's office like the devil himself was after me. In a way, I think that he was. I heard Marty call out behind me, I heard Sandra give a startled yelp, but I didn't stop.
I managed to reach the restroom and fling myself down to the floor in front of the commode before my dinner came back to boldly revisit me. I broke then, shaking and crying, shivering and throwing up. Everything that I had held in for five years, every bit of hope I'd ever had shattered inside of me, leaving me empty and cold. I threw up until there was nothing left and cried until my ribs hurt and I was hiccupping painfully. I rested my cheek against the coolness of the commode, and tightened my shields against the gentle probing of the other Tomorrow People.
Marty came and left several times, and I ignored her each and every time. Fleeing your boss's office to throw up and have a nervous break down didn't add up to the height of professionalism, but at this point in time, I really didn't care. I wanted this to be a horrible bad nightmare that I would awaken from, but try as I could to pinch myself awake, it didn't work.
Locked in a timeless void, I finally stood on shaky legs and let myself out of the stall. I half stumbled and half-limped to the bathroom sink where I rinsed my face and mouth and avoided looking at myself in the mirror. The trek back to my office was slow as my breakdown had taken everything out of me. I ignored Sandra and whatever message from Marty she tried to give me. I was going to go get my things and I was going home. I was going to curl up in Ben's arms and just hide for a few days and if Marty didn't like it she could fire me for all I cared.
Closing my office door behind me, I rested against it, letting the coolness of the wood press into my forehead.
"I'm sorry for the unscheduled appearance. I really didn't mean to shock you so terribly."
I spun, pressing myself against the door as tightly as I could. My eyes immediately darted to the four empty corners before coming to rest on Adam who sat quietly behind my desk, flipping through the pictures in my flip photo frame. "What are you doing in here?" I could hear the note of hysteria in my voice, and I wasn't ashamed of it.
I was hysterical or pretty bloody close to it.
"Gideon and Tony are waiting for me downstairs," Adam responded, not answering the question I asked, but telling me where his bulging muscle bodyguards were. It only made me feel marginally better to know that they weren't lurking outside of my office. "I thought that they would probably do more harm than good. They can be a bit imposing at times."
"This isn't happening." I shook my head and tried to meld into the wood finish on the door. I failed miserably.
Adam smiled at one of the pictures, and it would have been Adam's smile if the hint of fang hadn't shown through. He looked up at me and indicated the office that I had decorated with pictures and collectible wolf figures and stuffed toys. It was a Ben thing. "I like how you've personalized the space and made it yours. This room really says Ami Jackson."
"What are you doing here?" I repeated with a bit more control this time. I knew there was a reason that I didn't like vampires and it went beyond the fact that they were the walking dead, or undead as it were. They had this arrogance that said they thought they were better than us mere mortals, and that we should all be servants to them. They were also rude and infuriating.
"I really didn't think that this would be such an upset to you, Ami -"
I blinked. This had gone from nightmare to situation comedy. "What?!" The demand came out louder than I intended and another one of those ripples of surprise flashed across his face briefly.
"I didn't intend to upset you so much. Really."
"Because waltzing in here as a bloody vampire after being dead and gone for five years wasn't going to upset me the least little bit?" The fear and the upset were fading fast, slowly being replaced by something much more akin to anger due to the all too cavalier attitude that Adam seemed to have about his unwanted presence here.
"I didn't intend for you to recognize me, but I unfortunately discovered that the rumors are true. Evidently teleporters are immune to a vampire's gaze."
"Tomorrow People," I corrected him instantly and then felt my stomach go queasy again. His choice of words reminded me that he wasn't Adam Newman, not anymore. Only the public referred to us as teleporters; privately, we were The Tomorrow People. "You were one --" I stopped and hugged myself. I couldn't get any closer to the door and while I might talk to Adam, I wasn't going to get any closer to him either.
"I was one. Once. That was a long time ago, Aims."
"Don't. Don't ever. You can't call me that." He couldn't call me that and no one ever called me that after he -- I could stare at his dead body standing in front of me but I still had trouble referring to what happened five years ago as Adam dying. Adam had christened me with that nickname and no one ever called me that since we lost him. It was the reason that Ben called me AJ; I'd practically ripped his head off the first time he dared try to call me Aims.
"Then what should I call you?"
"Nothing. Never. Ever. In fact, you can leave."
"I would, but you see there are a few problems with me doing that." Adam stood and pushed away from my desk, walking around to the front and leaning on it. He folded his arms across his chest and pretended to be as harmless as possible. He was a vampire. I knew better. "One, you're blocking the only exit from this room, and you're not exactly calm and rational right now. I have to worry that you might try pull a stake out of the air and try something if I get too close to you."
"You know I can't and it's illegal." Yes, Aunt Rose had to live and train me and get me a job in the glorious United States of America where vampirism was legal and killing one was tantamount to murder. Yet lycanthropes could still lose their jobs for having a once-a-month full moon problem.
"Two," Adam continued as though I hadn't spoken. "I haven't concluded my business with this office yet."
I slid along the wall, away from the door and still kept my distance from Adam. "One problem solved. The other, I'm afraid I can't help you with. You'll just have to take it up with Marty."
"I already did. She assured me that no one here at Last Rites is more suited to the job than you are, and I told her that I would take it up with you personally."
"All right, easy enough." I straightened up a bit and defiantly held his gaze. "No, I won't take your case. Now get out."
"Ami, Ami," Adam shook his head, chuckling softly. It was an unsettling sound, not entirely unpleasant but rather warm and intoxicating, sliding across my skin like silken sheets and soft fingertips. It was most definitely not the laugh that Adam once had. "Whatever happened to you? I think that you've gotten rather crass living in the States. You used to be such a proper British lady."
"And you used to be alive, what of it?"
"TouchÃ©." Adam crossed his legs at the ankles, somehow managing to make the slouch against my desk look boneless. "Ms. Nuemiller has already accepted my case. Wouldn't you at least like to hear the details?"
Again, he continued speaking to me as though I hadn't said a word. "I own a dinner theatre, The Round Table, down in the Warehouse District. It has a bit of a haunting problem. Always has, actually, but the former proprietor didn't see any reason to lay the poor souls to rest."
"And you do?" I wondered why I was encouraging him after I asked the question.
"I'm trying to run a business, Ami. Maybe the former owner didn't mind losing cooks and wait staff every week, but I do. I want the place cleansed and the restless spirits put to rest. That's all."
It was a logical request, and really no different from any other requests. Except for the fact that it came from a vampire that had once been one of my best friends. Of course, I couldn't tell Marty that, and I couldn't really provide her with any good reason to turn down the job.
"I can see how this might be a bit uncomfortable for both of us." In a true demonstration of what he was, Adam was standing in front of me before I even registered his movement. We stood practically toe-to-toe, my head tilting up suddenly to adjust to the slight height difference as I let out a strangled yelp.
Adam tucked a business card in the pocket of my blouse. "It's all purely business, Ami. Why don't you sleep on it and call me. I'm sure that you, Ms. Nuemiller and I can work something out." He leaned forward and I scrambled deeper into the corner although there was nowhere to go. There was no such thing as personal space left between us and my heart beat so quickly in my chest that I thought it would explode. Adam lowered his head, his voice very soft in my ear, "Give the others my love, won't you?"
Then I felt the soft, cool brush of lips against my temple before Adam was gone, the door to my office swinging and clicking slowly shut behind him.
I slumped to the corner and didn't move from it for a very long time.
End of Rooms A Thousand Years Wide