Disclaimer: See part 1
Don't Ask, Don't Tell
by S. K.Allen
The weeks following "the kiss" had been awkward between the friends. Angel didn't know quite how to approach the younger woman. The kiss had affected her more than she thought at first, the growing emotions making her a little uncomfortable around Jamie.
Jamie seemed a little distant to her, and avoided the older woman at every chance. Even when they couldn't avoid each other, they avoided looking in each other's eyes, each remembering the intensity that had brought their relationship to this confused and intolerable state.
It was a week until Christmas and both Marcus and Angel were sitting in the spare bedroom putting the crib together. Marcus was watching Angel and noticed that her moods were growing more introverted. He wondered at the pain and confusion he saw in her eyes when she looked at Jamie. She didn't speak directly to her anymore, or to anyone else for that matter, and that was not the Angel he knew.
"Here, let me hold this while you work the pin in," Marcus said, holding up the final piece of the crib. Angel leaned over in to insert the locking pin on the bars. "What's with you and Jamie?" he asked.
"Nothing... Why?" Angel tried to sound unconcerned, but instead sounded defensive. She pushed the pin in place and stood up. They had gotten rid of the bed, placing it into storage, to make room for the baby's crib, and changing table.
"No reason, it just feels really tense around here. Are you angry with her or something, Or is she angry with you?" Marcus asked as he moved to pick up the mattress.
"No one's angry... but I am about to be," Angel said in a warning growl.
"Hey hey, it's just a..." Marcus was interrupted by a knock on the door. Jamie had gone food shopping so Angel walked out of the room, happy to escape the questions.
A woman even shorter than Jamie stood on the other side of the door. Angel knew why she was here. "I'm looking for Jamie. Does she live here or not?" the woman asked abrasively.
Angel narrowed her eyes. "Who's asking?"
"What's it to you? I asked you a question," the woman shot back.
Angel fought to control her temper and was about to close the door in her face when she saw Jamie's car drive up. Angel backed off a little as Jamie practically ran up to the door. "What the fuck are you doing here? How the hell did you find me?"
"Oh gee, I don't know, maybe I missed you, Jamie... so I accosted your brother and I followed the directions he gave me. He thought he was helping you," Shannon said softening her voice.
Angel stood unobtrusively in the background in case Jamie needed any help with the surly woman.
"Are you out of your mind?" Jamie hissed and she pulled Shannon a little further away. "You can't come here just like that. You see her?" Jamie pointed to Angel standing uncomfortably in the doorway. "That was my drill sergeant. She is still my senior non-commissioned officer. Did you come to get me completely thrown out on my ass?" Jamie said hotly and pulling Shannon away from the blazing blue eyes.
Angel suddenly realized that this wasn't just one of the girls Jamie often found herself "going out" with, which always made Angel miserable. This was THE reason, she could no longer go home. Does she really think I would do something like that to her? I love her... That's right Angel, you love her... Oh god, I'm drowning, I love them both. Angel thought as she walked off into her bedroom.
Marcus had gone to the door to see what was taking so long and looked worriedly as she walked past him. She didn't say anything and knew that she needed room to deal with what was happening. He figured the problem was partly overactive hormones, but he knew that they wouldn't be overacting without stimulus. She needed to be alone.
Angel reached the stereo remote and turned on the music. A low jazz tune, full of turmoil, emanated from the speakers. No words to complicate it, just the roiling emotion.
Marcus didn't bother to follow her. He knew that she needed to be alone at the moment. He didn't know how or why that redhead made her react this way, but he figured he would soon find out.
Jamie pushed Shannon into the front seat of her car, then made her way to the driver side. Starting her car, she sped out of Ft. Sam Houston. She drove in silence for a while, heading towards Audrey's. Shannon watched her thoughtfully. She looked so different to her, so much going on behind those green eyes.
Jamie parked the car and stepped out, opening the door for Shannon, and leading the way inside. Jamie had taken to sitting in the same booth every time she visited the place, and she had been coming almost every night since "the kiss."
"I like your hair..." Shannon finally said.
"Uh... thanks... Why are you here?" Jamie cut to the chase.
"Right... I wanted to know why you left without saying good-bye."
"Are you kidding?" Jamie said, shaking her head. "You outed me and I was totally disowned by my parents, so you have to forgive me if I acted a little upset that night."
Shannon leaned back in her seat. "I was drunk..."
"I know that. That was the only thing that kept me from throwing you out of the car and into the street. And believe me, I was tempted," Jamie said tapping her fingers on the table angrily. The waiter brought them their drinks and she took a chug of her rum and cola.
"Jamie, I'm sorry... I love you. I never would have done it if I had known how it would end up, " Shannon pleaded.
"Look, Shannon. It really doesn't matter anymore," Jamie said softly.
Shannon watched Jamie as the blond looked around the room and waved at an occasional woman that happened to walk by. "She is beautiful..." Shannon finally said, a hint of pain in her voice.
"Who?" Jamie asked after finishing off her drink.
"The woman at your house. Who is she?" Shannon said softly.
"My old drill sergeant... old battle buddy, and new friend... At least I hope she is still my friend," Jamie answered reflectively, a faraway look in her eye.
"Do you love her?" Shannon asked softly. Jamie looked at Shannon, comparing what she had felt for the shorter woman to what she now feels for Angel.
"Yes," she answered without hesitation. She steeled herself for a tantrum, which Shannon was famous for.
"Watch her closely Jamie...There's something there." Shannon stood up. "I'm gonna go back to my hotel now. I just needed to know why... and oddly enough... I think that it was worth coming here to see you," Shannon said as she stood.
"I'll take you to the hotel. Come on," Jamie said leaving money on the table and heading out with her. They drove silently back to Shannon's hotel, each deep in their own thoughts. Watch her closely? What can you see that I can't, Shannon. The young woman thought as she watched the red head walk through the hotel doors.
After Jamie had returned from dropping Shannon off, she could hear the blues tune playing inside of Angel's room. She walked to the kitchen, setting the groceries she had neglected to bring in earlier on the counter. The young woman pulled out the melted ice-cream and grimaced as she put it in the trash.
A long alabaster arm reached for the bag at the same time as she did and Jamie turned to meet the azure blue eyes. "Hey... I'm sorry about anything Shannon might have said to you.. She's a little hot headed."
"That was your ex?" Angel asked quietly, looking at Jamie, who looked on in silence. "Look, I'm your friend and I'm not going to report you or anything. I just want you to know that I'm there if you need me."
When the shorter woman nodded, she racked her brain for anything else to say. "I can't believe you found someone shorter than you."
Jamie grinned, and blushed slightly. Angel missed that smile. She hadn't realized it until just that minute.
"Well, I am the butch one so I needed someone smaller," Jamie answered facetiously, resuming her task of putting things away.
With a slight smirk, Angel said, "Somehow "butch" is not the word that comes to mind when I look at you." She continued to help, the tension gone from her stance. They worked in companionable silence until done. "What did she want?" Angel asked quietly as she turned to face her.
Jamie looked over and shrugged, walking into the living room, and turning on the television to Saturday Night Live. Angel sighed to herself. It isn't any of your business, Angel. "Sorry, I just was hoping..."
"That we were okay?" Jamie said looking over at Angel, who was standing at the threshold of the kitchen and the living-room. When Angel nodded, she motioned for her to come closer. "I'm so sorry for.. you know... the kiss. It wasn't right, I know... and I totally screwed up our friendship."
Sitting next to her, the taller woman stared blankly at the television "It isn't totally screwed up... I did kiss you back... It's just... I don't know... I need your friendship right now," Angel tried to explain.
Jamie nodded. "I need yours too..." They joined in silent agreement to work through everything together.
Their relationship, though not back to it's original easy state, was much more bearable for both parties. Angel especially was having a hard time now. The anonymous calls had become incessant, and she knew it was Lou.
Everywhere she went, she could feel his presence. The evening before Christmas, there was a group outing. Liz had suggested it so that Angel could loosen up and feel safe. They all headed to a nearby karaoke place in downtown San Antonio.
Liz, Lil, Jamie, a young woman named Jen, Marcus and Angel all trooped into the place, taking over one of the front tables by a stage. Apparently, there was a small contest going on, with parades of people coming on and off the stage as the group dined, giving their often bad renditions of music better left forgotten.
As Angel listened to the singing, the only one that she really liked was by a little girl, maybe twelve years old, presenting her rendition of "Blue," and trying her best to follow in the footsteps of LeAnne Rhymes.
"Would anyone else like to join the contest?" the announcer asked, coming on stage "Anyone?"
Leaning closer to her daughter, Liz whispered. "Go on, dear.. Have some fun up there."
"Mmm, I don't know, Mom. I . . .," Angel said a bit hesitantly.
"Oh, go on, you are so good at it," Liz said.
"Are you really?" Jamie asked as Liz, Lil, and Marcus nodded fervently. Background music started playing again.
"You're pretty good too, Jamie," Jen said.
Angel looked at the young woman, trying desperately to keep from glaring. The girl's presence irked her. How could she share that with her and not me. But that's not fair, she offered it to me and I turned it down. But still.
"Sing with me," Angel said decisively, standing, taking Jamie's hand and going over to where the program coordinator was.
They picked a song that they both could sing and waited for the woman on stage to finish singing "I Will Survive." Nervously, they took the stage. Both Angel and Jamie sat on a pair of tall stools on stage. Then the music prompted them to start.
Count on me through thick and thin
a friendship that would never end
When you are weak, I will be strong
Helping you to carry on
Call on me, I will be there
Don't be afraid
Please believe me when I say
The first part of the song was Angel's solo. When they got to the chorus, Angel he had never heard a voice that blended so harmoniously with her's in her entire life. Jamie's voice was velvety and smooth, and mastered the sound beautifully as she sang. Angel almost missed her cue to start the second verse as she looked in Jamie's direction. The dark haired woman closed her eyes and swallowed before she began.
I can see it's hurting you
I can feel your pain
It's hard to see the sun shine through the rain
I know sometimes it seems as if it's never gonna end
but we'll get through it, just don't give in ëcause you can.
As they both sang the chorus again, Jamie couldn't help but fight to keep her concentration on the words she was singing. Those words were so full of emotion, and the song immediately became words that had been left unspoken between the two. Jamie steeled her nerves and prepared for her solo.
There's a place inside of all of us
Where our faith in love begins
You should reach to find the truth in love
the answer's there within oh...
Angel's turn to interrupt, swept up with the emotion of the moment.
I know that life can make you feel
It's much harder than it really is
Then together they sang.
But we'll get through it
Just don't give in...
As they sang the last chorus, they looked at each other and smiled softly. Jamie shook her head and sang as she walked off to the side of the stage. Angel walked to the other side and they both ascended the stairs meeting in the middle and walked towards the program director, handing him the mics after the last note was sung.
Wild applause arose all through the bar. People stood, clapping and patting the women's backs as they headed back to their table. At their table, it wasn't any better, more teasing than anything else. The women won the contest, each receiving a 500 dollar check.
"Oh, I am a rich woman now!" Jamie joked around as they all headed for their cars.
"Oh, Jamie, you're silly," Jen said. The girl's voice grinded on Angel's nerves. She was so cute, she hated her. Making a face, Angel looked away and rushed to Marcus' Rodeo.
"God, that girl gets on my last nerve," Angel said, fastening her seat-belt.
"Who? Jen?" Marcus asked.
"Yes. She is just .. I don't know... unbelievably quirky and cute.. or something."
"Jamie seems to like her doting all over her," Marcus said as he pulled out and headed towards Angel's house.
Angel noted that Jamie was heading the opposite direction, probably hurrying to get "miss cutie pie" home. "She doesn't seem to be Jamie's type at all," she mumbled, looking out of the window.
"Do you even know her type, Angel?" Marcus asked in an odd tone.
"I don't know, Marcus. What are you getting at?" Angel asked, turning to face him.
"Nothing! Just forget her and her tastes and let's focus on us for tonight, alright?" Marcus answered hoping that would throw her off the scent. He had his suspicions, and at times like this the jealousy churned inside him. He didn't want that to show. Instead, he just kept telling himself that it was just a deep friendship. Listen to yourself Marcus, lying to yourself again. But she loves you too, you know.. don't give her up without a fight, he thought as he parked in her driveway. He looked over to her. She had been staring at him since they had stopped talking. Gently Marcus leaned forward and kissed her soft lips.
Angel wrapped her arms around him and returned the kiss, fading any lingering thoughts in either of their minds.
Everyone was gathered in Liz's beautifully decorated living-room a stroke before midnight. The soft melodious and joyous sounds of Christmas were playing in the background as they all talked and sang along with the carols.
There was a knock on the door and Angel stood up from the floor and headed for it. As she opened the door, she saw a ghost from her past. The tall man that stood before her now had salt and pepper hair but she didn't notice that as a deep anger marred her features. Angel slammed the door on his face and headed back to the group.
"Who was that?" Liz asked, looking at her with concern.
"No one worth our time, Mom," she stated emphatically, sitting back down next to Marcus and leaning against him. The door bell rang again and Liz stood up this time to answer.
Jamie watched Angel's eyes go icey, her lips a tight line on her face. When she looked at the door, she noted the man standing in front of Liz, who's face didn't look angry at all. She listened unashamedly to their conversation and suddenly realized who the man was.
"Well, what do you expect, Rey. She's always been stubborn," Liz said softly.
"I just.. I needed to see her again.. I didn't mean to hurt her."
"But you did... Although, to tell you the truth, your leaving us was the best thing you have ever done," Liz stated folding her arms over her chest.
Jamie looked over at Angel who returned her gaze intently, their eyes locked for a long moment.
"Look.. She's an adult. It's not like I can make her talk to you, and I won't even try, that is her decision. Frankly, I think it's too late. She's lost all respect for you," Liz said defensively.
Jamie heard this as she looked back toward the doorway. She made a mental note to ask Angel about her father later.
Angel's night was ruined. Of all the people to come that night, it had to be her father. To say she hated the man was an understatement. Her entire body had tensed up and was now aching as she climbed the stairs of her mother's house and into her room.
Marcus followed behind her and leaned against the door frame watching her. "You alright?" he asked softly.
"Yeah, I'm fine. Just a little stiff," she answered, rolling her neck to ease the tension.
"Here," he said, sitting on the bed and signaling for her to sit between his legs. He massaged the tenseness out of her back.
Suddenly Angel felt a sense of foreboding around Marcus. She leaned back and reached for his hand. "Hey... What's wrong?" Marcus asked.
"Just hold me," she said, wrapping his arms around her. he held for a long time.
Outside, eyes watched the home grow dark. "Soon, Angel. You will be mine again... and your little nigger boy won't know what hit him," Lou said, shivering lightly in the night air.
He leaned against the tree and visualized the tall dark man in his mind's eye. "One more white girl to fuck, huh, nigger? You gonna learn that my woman ain't the one to mess with, boy." He raised his hands index finger and thumb outstretched as if holding a gun and pretended to shoot the picture in his minds eye.
He blew on his finger tips then headed down the street, gloved hands in his pockets.
The next night went much better for Angel. Her baby had received a multitude of gifts from Santa. She also received her very own copy of Tropical Storm from Jamie. "Hey, it's Dar's birthday!" Angel said to Jamie as they sat in the living room of their little home. Marcus had gone with his family to Louisiana for the rest of the week and would be back on New Years Eve.
"Huh, so it is," Jamie said. "Glad you like your gift. Too bad it's not the illustrated version."
"That may be a little too much information, much as I liked the book, " Angel said wryly, looking over the book.
Jamie only chuckled and turned back to her gift. A deluxe magic set, signed by David Blaine. "How did you manage to get his autograph?"
"I asked, and he was happy to oblige," Angel said, leaning back.
" When did you even get a chance to ask?" Jamie asked, fingering the trinkets.
"He's not the only one with tricks up his sleeve," Angel said with a smirk, then stretched her length along the sofa.
"God, this is great," she said then looked up at Jamie, smiling at the expression on her face.
My god, she looks so good when she's happy, Angel thought, staring into the green eyes. Jamie shifted a little then cleared her throat. "Was that your father at the door yesterday?"
Angel blinked away her thoughts. "Yes," she said shortly.
. "Why do you hate him so much?" Jamie asked.
Angel shrugged and stood, her body tensing up again. She walked into the kitchen and reached for the ice-cream in the freezer.
"Your mom said he hurt you. How?" Jamie said gently.
"I caught him cheating. It hurt because I know what that did to my mother. She means the world to me. At that moment, I lost all respect for him, and wanted him out of my life."
"How did you see him cheat?" Jamie said softly.
"Oh... this is the classic baby-sitter story. When I was growing up, I had a friend named Melinda. She had this gorgeous, older sister Mel and I loved to follow her around" Angel started, leaning against the kitchen counter and scooping a spoonful of ice-cream into her mouth. Jamie waited, seeing the blue eyes search for words.
"She was your baby sitter?" Jamie asked, sitting on the counter next to her and placing a hand on her shoulder.
"That's how Melinda and I got to be friends. Her sister started watching us when we were about nine and she would have been about thirteen. Usually for two hours after school and then, after a while, for longer periods," Angel answered.
"Then what happened?" Jamie asked, wanting to know this tidbit about her friend.
"When we were thirteen and she was just eighteen, we sat in her room one night as she dressed for a date. She seemed a little edgy. I finally figured out why. See, my father called and I answered the phone. It was her private line so I was shocked when I heard his voice. I was all set on teasing Tawny's boyfriend and embarrassing her to death," Angel said ruefully.
Jamie grinned, that sounded like her drill sergeant alright.
"That's when I first thought something just didn't add up. He gave some lame excuse that he needed to give Tawny instructions on what I was to do that night. When I told him that her parent's were there and that Tawny was going out, he told me to give her the phone anyway." Angel pushed off the counter and pulled Jamie with her, walking them back into the living room. The casual touching that had been absent in their relationship, did not go unnoticed by the blond. She blushed gently, glad that the older woman was walking ahead of her.
Settling down on the couch, Angel continued. "She smiled nervously at us as she talked to him. Melinda and I decided we were gonna follow her around that night because she looked too nervous to be up to any good." Angel ran fingers through her dark hair and looked at the woman who was hanging on her every word.
"We hid in her parent's car that night and waited for her to drive off. Melinda had stolen the keys and, since I was tall enough to see over the steering wheel, I drove. I did pretty good for a while. I followed her to the air field here in Ft. Sam. I drove past and parked the car badly at the golf club. It was about a two mile hike to get back to the air field where I had seen another car there."
"Oh yeah, we ran past there for the Brigade run," Jamie interjected.
"Uh huh... We thought that it would take us almost no time to get back to where Tawny was, it didn't seem so far in the car," Angel said with a chuckle. "Needless to say I wasn't in good form in those days."
Jamie laughed at the statement.
"After about twenty minutes, we got up to the cars. You could hear their moans in the stillness of the night." Angel's eyes grew dark as she got to this part of the story. "We were crouched behind the cars and listened for a while. You could hear their skin slapping against each other and smell them. Melinda and I looked at each other and she moved forward to look. She gasped really low and covered her mouth so that they wouldn't hear her. I swallowed and made my way towards the noise." Angel stopped for a moment and looked at the melting ice-cream. She took a few spoonfuls into her mouth and looked as if she was trying to swallow more than the ice-cream.
Which she was, as tears were threatening, and she had never cried since that night. Since she saw him... "They were so into what they were doing, they didn't see me until my chunky boots stood next to Tawny's head. My father's face went pale as he looked up into my face. They separated quickly and scrambled for their clothes. I stood frozen until he tried to grab for me. I screamed and ran like a bat out of hell towards Melinda's parent's car. Melinda was faster than me and even she lagged behind. But she was hot on my trail. That was my very first fourteen minute two mile run." Angel let a slight smirk appear on her face.
"I drove as fast and as safely as I could to return her parent's car so that Melinda wouldn't get in trouble. I gave her the keys and went home to where my mother sat with Victoria and Lil, fuming about her husband. Victoria saw me speed to my room and came to me shortly after that." Angel paused thinking. "V became my father from that point on until she died."
"So, did you tell her?" Jamie asked.
"Yeah, I told her. I was too upset to tell my mother. I was just so angry that he could do something like that. Victoria made me tell my mother. I had just finished telling her when the front door opened. The three women just glared at him. Victoria reached for Lil's hand, guided her towards the door, and left."
" Whoa, that had to have been incredibly tense," Jamie said, enjoying the length of this conversation.
"It was silent for the longest time, two against one in a stare down. Then my mother's low voice scared the shit out of me and she exploded. She asked him to leave, and I hadn't seen him again until last night," Angel finished.
"So Victoria lived with you ever since?" When Angel nodded, Jamie slid her arms around her neck unconsciously bringing her into a hug. "It must have been hell for you to see him yesterday."
Angel blinked and slowly returned the hug. It felt right, very right.
Birth of a new year... Death of the old?
"It is great out there. Everyone looks so terrific... Oh, it's eleven fifty," Lil said, primping quickly, then grabbing Liz's arm, and pulling her out of the powder room of the ballroom in the Mariott. "I want my midnight kiss, Liz."
"Alright already," Liz answered with a smirk and winked at Angel as they walked out. Angel only shook her head and followed them out to find Marcus.
Lou stood near the side exit of the ballroom. His sights were set on a tall dark figure talking animatedly to a smaller light, haired woman. Then he saw her, the devil with the face of an Angel. Her long dark locks were swept up beautifully, with soft tendrils framing her angular features.
He watched her form walk closer to the dark figure and pull him to the dance floor. Instinctively, he removed the safety of his weapon and cocked his gun.
As the count down began, Angel looked into Marcus' eyes and smiled. "5...4...3.." She counted. He smiled in return and held her closer.
"2...1...Happy New Year!!!" Auld Lang Syne started to play in the background. In what seemed like slow motion, Marcus placed a soft kiss on Angel's lips.
Jamie watched from her chair as the two locked lips, having just broken free from a kiss of her own. She spotted a familiar male figure making his way to where her friends stood.
On the floor, Angel felt a wrenching in her abdomen and pulled away from the kiss and turned her head just as she heard Jamie scream. " Look out!"
A shot rang out as Marcus pushed Angel out of the way to protect her. He was felled by the shot directly into his chest. The gunman was disarmed but he somehow managed to escape.
There was a chase, but all Angel could do is kneel next to Marcus and try to stop the blood flowing from his chest. "It's gonna be okay. It's gonna be fine. Please hang in there, Marcus."
He was conscious and he reached to stroke her face. She kissed his cold hand and held back the tears that threatened to escape her. Finally an ambulance arrived and the paramedics started treating him. Angel held his hand as they lifted him on to the stretcher and went with him into the ambulance.
"Angel..." She heard his soft voice calling to her. She leaned closer to him to hear him better. "She loves you...love her..."
"Marcus, no.. I can't..." she said, tears finally starting to flow down her cheek.
"I... need her to love you... for me..." Silent sobs escaped her now
"Please don't go... not now... my baby has to know you. Please..." she begged as his hand went limp in her's. The paramedic reached out to move her out of the way as he to resuscitate Marcus, but she knew it was too late.. She let out a gut wrenching howl within the confines of the ambulance. It was everything the driver could do not to loose control.
Angel was completely heartbroken. The only man in her life that she had ever respected and loved was gone. He had changed her so much, and filled the gaps in her life. She felt as if she were being ripped apart and exposed for the vultures to pick on her bloodied flesh.
To be continued in Part seven
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