Los Angeles, 6-17-0 [June 17, 2000]
Amanda groaned as she found herself sleeping on a hard floor once again. Where was she again? Looking around, she remembered. Angel Investigations. Right. Ok, clothes were what she needed first. Sighing, she reached through the bars and pulled through the clothes sheíd discarded the night before. Once she was dressed, Amanda unlocked the cage and stepped outside.
"Youíre up," Angel commented, entering the room.
Picking up her bag , Amanda began to talk rapidly.
"Yes Iím up and as much as Iíd love to talk, if I donít hurry Iíll be late for work and if Iím late for work Iím fired and I canít get fired. Do you have a shower I can use?"
A little overwhelmed, Angel merely pointed in the direction of the shower.
"Great. Thanks," Amanda said quickly as she walked to the bathroom.
Amanda quickly took a towel from her bag and set it near the shower. Pulling out her brush and everything else she needed, she turned on the spray and concentrated on taking the fastest shower possible, which wasnít easy with the waist length, curly hair she refused to cut more than an inch at a time. In twenty minutes she was making the finishing touches on her long braid and drying off her brush before tossing it back into her bag. After changing into her Helenís Kitchen uniform, Amanda quickly started to wipe all traces of herself from the bathroom. At home she tended to be more of the messy type but whenever she was somewhere else she became a compulsive neat-freak. Somewhere in the back of her mind she felt that if she caused anyone any trouble, they wouldnít want her around at all. Finally satisfied, she blow-dried her towel as much as time allowed, folded it, and slid it into a mesh plastic bag that clipped to her duffel to finish drying.
Rushing out of the bathroom, Amanda found her way out of the basement and into the main offices of Angel Investigations. Mumbling thank yous to Angel, Amanda hurried toward the door and was about to leave when Doyle grabbed her arm and pulled her back.
"Hey, whatís the rush?"
She shook off Doyleís arm easily.
"I canít be late for work. Iíll be happy to show up earlier tonight if it means that much to you but I have to leave now if I have any hope of finding my way out of here in time."
"Doyle can drive you," Angel answered, tossing Doyle his car keys.
"Coffee?" Cordelia asked already pouring a cup.
Defeated, Amanda nodded.
"Iím Cordelia and that guyís my boyfriend Doyle. I hope you like it black cuz we sort of donít have anything else."
Laughing, she answered, "Thatís now I drink it anyway," as she took the cup from Cordelia. Taking a drink, she winced slightly, "Um is this supposed to be espresso?"
"Yesterdayís coffee. We wouldnít have to do that if Angel would charge the clients." Cordelia explained pointedly looking at Angel.
"So youíre a werewolf, thatís gotta beÖinteresting." Doyle said, trying to change the subject.
"Actually just kind of annoying, explaining why I canít work nights three days out the month will be a bitch."
"Where do you work?" he asked.
"This trashy little diner called Helenís Kitchen."
Angel and Cordelia exchanged a look, suddenly interested.
"So, whatís it like," Angel asked.
"Mostly lots of disgusting old perverts hitting on the waitresses, but its a job."
Angel winced slightly and Cordelia wrinkled her nose.
"Then why work there?" Angel pushed.
Amanda laughed though the others obviously didnít see the humor, "Iím sorta not allowed to have a job. My Ďrents would *never* set foot in the place."
"You work and donít have to?!" Cordelia asked completely shocked.
"My Ďrents have this habit of monitoring all the money they dish out. I like to have money of my own."
"Money for what exactly," Angel asked suspiciously.
Seeing the looking on his face, Amanda sighed exasperated, "What, do I some sign on my face that says ĎMeet the junkieí?" Calming down to a normal calm speaking level, she continued, "Please, my life is royally screwed up enough already. I donít need the help of fraqing drugs to ensure that. I happen to like my sanity. Well whatís left of it anyway. Iím saving so Iíll be able to pay for a eastern college."
"I didnít mean to implyÖ" Angel started.
"You were thinking it." she stated confidently.
"Sorry," he answered knowing she was right, "What you said, about your life, whatíd you mean?"
Amanda looked a little surprised. "Um nothing really," she mumbled. Most people didnít ask questions when she made statements like that. Actually sheíd made statements much more blatant than that and had them ignored. She had learned long ago that most people didnít want to get involved. They figured if you were alive, that was enough, you could deal. "What didnít kill you, made you stronger," they reasoned. And when it did kill you they looked the other way.
"You need help, weíll help you," Angel offered
"Yeah, cuz thatís what we doóhelp people," Cordelia added.
Searching for a subject changer, Amanda glanced at the clock and relieved it was time to go, took Doyleís arm and pulled him to the door. "Right now, what I need is a ride."
"Amanda," Angel called as she walked out the door.
She turned back slightly. "Yeah?"
"Take care of yourself."
"Lifetime of practice." Somehow her offhand comment struck something in him, leaving him even more resolved to help her.
"You know where Helenís Kitchen is?" Amanda asked when Doyle and she were seated in the car.
"Sure, cute waitresses they got there," he joked.
"Is that so?" she began to relax again.
"Heís different you know."
"Huh?" she asked, confused.
"Angelís different, heíll help you. Heís the real thing. I promise."
Amanda looked at him, trying to see in his eyes and finding it impossible due to the angle, but his voice told her enough anyway. "You really believe that, donít you?"
"I know it," he said, turning and looking at her as he stopped in front of Helenís Kitchen. Sensing there was more to him than he was saying, Amandaís heart softened to him. Worried slightly, she smiled softly as she got out. Making her voice impersonal, she answered, "I wouldnít put too much stock in him. If heís human, heíll let you down." With that she walked quickly inside without hearing Doyleís reply.
"Only heís not human."
"Where is she? Maybe I should go looking again," Angel said.
"Give her time," Doyle answered, "I think you scared her this morning."
"Remind me why Iím here again?" Cordelia cut in.
"Well princess, she doesnít trust Angel and she didnít seem to want to listen to me, so youíre whatís left. Maybe not idealÖ"
"So Iím supposed to ask her? Well I donít know what would make you think sheíll tell me."
"Youíre a girl. Girls talk to girls," Doyle said shrugging. "I never said it was a *good* idea."
"And you donít have time to help. Remember?" Cordelia reminded Angel, "Watcher training? The council? And how do we know she needs help? She certainly hasnít asked. And do you think sheíll pay for a service she didnít ask for?"
"I could tell. I just donít know what it is. Cordelia, this isnít about the money, its personal." Angel argued.
"She reminds me of someone. Someone I didnít save." Angel turned his back to them and faced the wall.
"Great, brood. Thatís productive." Cordelia answered annoyed.
"Hey, I actually made it by myself this time!" Amanda came into Angel Investigations determined to be cheery. She didnít want their pity and she definitely didnít want to discuss her life. Despite her promise to come in earlier, she had hung around Helenís Kitchen after work talking to Anne and putting off her return so that they wouldnít have time to ask any questions. Now there was less than fifteen minutes before sundown. It didnít take her long to notice everyone had ceased talking on her entrance and now looked uncomfortable.
"Silence, nice. So either your getting nauseated cuz I smell like food or you were talking about me. And I think the latter is the truth."
"They want me to ask you whatís wrong because they think youíll tell me cuz Iím a girl or something." Cordelia said causing Angel and Doyle to glare at her angrily. "What? I asked. I told you it was a stupid idea."
"Yes it was a stupid idea." Amanda interrupted furiously. "My life is my business *not* yours. I donít want youíre help. Iíve handled my life just fine so far without you. I hate relying on you as it is to let me stay here. And I donít have time for this," she finished, glancing at the clock and walking to the elevator where she turned to face Cordelia. "Thank you for being honest. I wonít be manipulated," she cast a look at Angel and Doyle, "Its nice to meet a person that actually says what theyíre thinking." With that she closed the elevator.
"I think that went well." Cordelia said.
Los Angeles, 6-18-0 [June 18, 2000]
Amanda woke up on the cold hard floor for the third day in a row. Tired, she managed to shower and get dressed without encountering Angel. Taking all her things, she made her way upstairs where she found Angel, Doyle, and Cordelia. Ignoring Angel and Doyle, she walked straight to Cordelia at her desk and offered her two twenty dollar bills. "This is for letting me stay here." Cordelia started to accept the money but Angel stopped her. "We wonít take this."
"Yes you will. Iím paying you. End of story." Angel started to protest but Doyle took the money and thanked her. With that she rushed out the door.
"We made money!" Cordelia said excited, "And we didnít even do anything!"
"I donít like taking her money."
"Man, I told you itís not about the money. Its about her not owning you. She canít be in debt to you."
Amanda walked slowly home from work. It was nice to see the moon again. Pulling her brown, suede leather coat closer to her, she walked up the stairs leading to door. Trying the door, she found it locked. She felt chills run down her spine, telling her something bad was coming. Unlocking the door, she pushed back the feeling, ignoring the fact that usually her feelings were right.
The house was empty. Something she was grateful for. She didnít want to see her parents. Part of her wondered if she should have told them, but she shook the idea from her head. She would just be setting herself up for yet another disappointment. A disappointment she couldnít take.
Taking advantage of her time home alone, she quickly changed into dance clothes in her room. While she wasnít the best dancer in the world and she certainly wouldnít ever be prima ballerina, dancing was more than that to her. It was outlet. When she couldnít find the words, she could always find the movements. Grabbing a CD, she ran down the stairs to the basement where she had set up a makeshift studio. After quickly warming up, she switched the CD to "I Wish" by Lisa Loeb and began to sort out her thoughts through the dance.
I wish for a place
Where the Earth doesnít shake.
If the Earth wonít be still,
Than I will.
And my friends can be my family
And they can be my company
And Iíll take them to a party
And weíll have fun.
Can you tell me if Iím near
To anywhere but here
I wish for a place,
Where itís not such a waste
I can tell the girls my name
Itís okay although itís plain
Can you tell me if Iím near
To anywhere but here
If I could sleep
Then I would dream of what you promised me
And everything would seem better than it is
I wish for a place were I could go
Cuz everything here moves so slow
Can you tell me if Iím near
To anywhere but here
I wish for a place
Where the Earth doesnít shake
And if the Earth wonít still
Then you and I will
Can you tell me if Iím near
To anywhere but here
Exhausted from both the dance and from her lack of sleep the past three days, Amanda turned off the music and headed up the stairs to get ready for bed.
Los Angeles, 6-19-0 [June 19, 2000]
Amanda woke up to her fatherís incessant banging on her bedroom door.
"Amanda wake up! Wake up now!!"
"Iím awake. Iím awake," she said sleepily, trying not to sound terrified. She could face so many things without fear, but her father was not one of them. Her mind would shut off, she would freeze with fear and everything rational inside her disappeared.
Without warning, her father burst in the door. Dressed in only an over-sized t-shirt and underwear, Amanda pulled her covers close to her and gripped them tightly with fear.
"Where have you been? I stopped by Sunnydale, seems you werenít there."
"Liar! Donít lie me! Oz wasnít even home. Get up! Get out of bed now!!"
"Iím notó" Amanda started.
Angrily, he reached over, grabbing her roughly by her pony tail and began pulling her out by her hair. Horror engulfed her completely and her every part of her will vanished. Her screams where incoherent and sounded to her as though they came from someone else. She didnít bother screaming for her mother anymore. Sheíd learned long before that such screams fell on deaf ears. Her legs now fully revealed, he used a belt to beat them continuously while still holding her in place by her hair. Tears flowed freely down her face as every muscle in her body tensed into a partial fetal position. All she could do was wait until he was finished. If he ever was.
The second he left her room, she curled into a ball. Rocking herself back and forth, she tried to decide what to do. Finally she steadied herself enough to stand and slowly with her dad out of the room, her fear and pain turned to anger. She spotted her duffel across the idea and sprung into action. When it was stuffed to almost full capacity she looked around slowly. Her eyes grazed her ceiling and as fast as could, she removed every star and placed them in a plastic bag. They made her feel safe and she couldnít leave without them. Dressing quickly, she glanced in the mirror. With jeans on, the none of the bruises showed, but her eyes were red from crying. Throwing the stars in her bag, she closed it and took it to the window. Working quickly, she slid the glass up and popped out the screen. Taking a last look at her room she went out the window.
Amanda walked nervously in the streets searching for Anneís apartment building. Coming from a wealthy family, she wasnít used to this part of town. At least the sun was coming up. Finally finding the building, she stared up at it nervously.
"Just go straight to Anneís apartment. Donít look anyone in the eye," she said to herself. Luckily finding the apartment wasnít difficult and soon she was knocking on the door. Anne opened the door quickly and seeing the look on her face pulled her close. Inside Amanda pulled up the legs of her jeans, revealing the bruises. Slowly the tears came again and Anne held her crying for nearly an hour. In the months they had worked together Anne had become like Amandaís big sister and Amanda looked up to her entirely. While Anne insisted that she hadnít always been strong, Amanda found it hard to believe.
Los Angeles, 6-20-0 [June 20, 2000]
"Angel Investigations, we help the hopeless."
"Cordelia? Itís Oz. Have you seen Amanda."
"Not since her time of the month ended. Why?"
"Let me talk to Angel."
"Okay, okay," she held out the phone for Angel, "Itís Oz."
"Somethingís happened to Amanda."
"What?! What happened?"
"Her dad came by, I just found out. I was wolfed so he was told I wasnít home and no one at the house knew about her since Iíd been at Gilesí. I called her house and her dad said she didnít live there." Oz sounded frantic, well, frantic for Oz anyway.
"Iíll find her."
Hanging up, he took his coat and he walked out.
"Can I help you."
"Iím looking for someone, she works here."
Anne eyed him suspiciously, "Who is it?"
"Amanda Muffet, you seen her?"
Anneís voice turned cold, "I canít help you."
Angel glanced at her name tag, "Anne? You knew Buffy."
Anne softened slightly, "You know Buffy?"
"Yes, Iím a friend and I want to help Amanda."
"How do I know youíre telling the truth?"
Slowly Angel reached in his pocket, pulling out his wallet. Silently he removed a photo and handed it to her. It been taken in a photo booth one day the year before. She was so happy in that picture. Heíd ended that only two weeks later. Anne flipped the picture over, reading the words scrawled on the back, "Always and forever, Buffy."
Quickly Anne walked to the counter and exchanged words with the other waitress before walking back to Angel, "Come with me."
"This is where you live? This is where Buffy lived?" The pain in Angelís voice was evident.
"Its not the worst place to live," Anne answered as she unlocked the door. Inside, Amanda, hearing the door open, walked out from the kitchen. "Anne?" Wearing a t-shirt and boxers, painful, purple bruises were visible up and down her legs. "WhÖwhat is he doing here?" she asked, seeing Angel. Not giving her a chance to answer, Angel, noticing the bruises, asked, "Who did that?"
Anne held up her hand, silencing both of them and stepped toward Amanda. "Heís here to help. Remember what I told you about the girl I took the name ĎAnneí from? Heís a friend of hers. Her real name was Buffy. He knows her." "Buffy? The Buffy I met?" Angel nodded. Anne looked confused, "You met Buffy?"
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