Poor Little Rich Boy
Poor Little Rich Boy
"Such a pretty house, such a pretty garden
No alarms and no surprises
No alarms and no surprises, please."
- Radiohead, 'No Surprises'
The night sky glowed above Los Angeles from all the lights of the city, but further into the suburbs it was much darker. The houses were larger too, especially one particularly grand mansion that was mostly settled in for the night.
Mostly but not quite settled in, because a boy, maybe twelve but maybe not that old, was still awake playing games on his computer. He knew he should have gone to bed hours ago, but he was close to his best game ever and he didn't want to turn off the computer.
Suddenly he stopped playing anyway. There was a breeze blowing in the window and the computer screen flickered as the wind passed it. The lights were already off, but they flickered as well.
"Buzz off," the boy muttered.
The breeze grew stronger and it wasn't coming from outside the house now. Now it was swirling around the room, blowing papers around the room and shaking the shelves.
"I told you to get lost," the boy said louder. "What is it with you anyway? GO AWAY!"
"Jimmy? You're still up? After I told you twice already to--" the boy's mother had opened the door and started to come in when she realized the boy wasn't alone in the room. "Oh God. Oh God, no, no, go away! Leave my boy alone!" she screamed.
A baseball rose into the air, hung there for a moment and then flew straight at her face. She threw her arm up in defense and the ball glanced off her forearm and hit the wall. Another ball rose up in the air to take its place.
"Why can't you leave me alone?" the boy cried. "And get away from my Mom!"
The boy's mother dashed in and grabbed the boy by the arm, dragging him outside the room even as she was pelted by objects flying about. She pulled him down the stairs and tried to run through the kitchen to the back door, hoping the spirit wouldn't follow them outside the house. But it threw the bolt on the door just as she reached it.
A drawer opened and pieces of silverware began rising in the air and hurling themselves at the boy's mother. Most of them missed her because the boy stood protectively in front of her. Nothing struck him.
"Stop it, please stop it!" he pleaded.
A plate rose up, hurtled across the room and struck her in the forehead, cutting it open. Both the woman and her son were screaming now. A man appeared at the door.
"Jimmy! Jimmy, tell it to stop!"
"I did! I did! He won't, he's mad!"
The man rushed to protect his wife and son but was too late to protect his wife from a coffee mug that bounced off her head. He stood in front of them and stared into the nothing in front of him.
"Get away from my family!" he bellowed.
It took Doyle nearly half an hour to maneuver himself out of his wheelchair and onto Angel's couch. It was only a week since the hospital had discharged him and while he was initially thrilled to be anywhere other than a hospital, life in Angel's apartment was off to a somewhat rocky start. He had already discovered that little things which were unpleasant enough in a hospital--like a bath--were worse when Angel tried to take care of them. Furthermore, Angel wouldn't leave Doyle unless either Cordelia or Wesley was with him, or at least he hadn't until this morning. Doyle hadn't known how much he appreciated time to himself until Angel wouldn't let him have any.
Relieved to be finally left alone, Doyle was just settling into an old book about demons when Angel came back into the living room and sat across from him. 'So much for my alone time,' Doyle thought. Angel didn't say anything; he just looked at Doyle a little oddly. Too oddly, as far as Doyle was concerned.
Angel fumbled about a bit before he finally got to the point. "Funny thing, Cordelia was just telling me something about her taking you out today. Shopping, I think she said. I'm sure she's making it up. She is making it up, right?"
Doyle was vaguely amused, although when he considered it, Cordelia willingly spending time with him probably did sound strange. "She's not," he advised Angel and tried to return to the book, hoping Angel would take the hint.
He didn't. "She's...not?"
Doyle sighed. Obviously he wasn't going to get to the book any time soon. He closed it and, using his elbows, tried to angle himself a little more towards Angel. "She's not. She wants to take me out shopping, I don't begin to know why but I told 'er sure."
Angel appeared more than a little confused.
"I don't think it's odd I wanna go out with her," Doyle couldn't help a little smile at that thought. "I think ya gotta wonder why she wants to go out with me. I gotta get out a bit, Angel. Ya know, see the great out of doors, preferably in daylight, and nothin' personal but you're not the right man for that job. Bursts of flame tend to put a damper on a day out."
"But...you really need to get out that bad?"
"Angel, I have been stuck in hospitals for close to a year an' a half. It's beyond bad."
"You know she said she was going to get new clothes for you?"
"There's a price to pay for everythin', isn't there?" Doyle grimaced. At least now he had figured out what Angel's real question was and he knew how to answer it. "Listen, I really appreciate everythin' you're doin' for me, you're really livin' up to your name here, but you can let somebody help out too. Even if it is Cordelia."
"Okay." Angel's agreement sounded awkward. Doyle figured there was more Angel wanted to say.
"Out w' it then. What else?"
"You're not much of a liar."
Angel studied his hands a bit. "I was thinking you don't really seem to be, well, happy."
"I could think of a lot better ways to be livin' right now," Doyle replied, running his hands over his useless legs. Using his demon aspect had regained most of the feeling in his legs below his knees, but it wasn't helping above that and he had trouble moving his feet more than a little. "Havin' you give me a bath was not on my list o' priorities of things I wanted to do in life. But I already lived with a lot worse. This is all right."
"Are you sure?" Angel asked him quietly.
"You're not much of a liar, either."
"Haven't practiced lately."
Angel didn't answer right away. "What would make it better?"
Doyle wasn't used to Angel actually giving serious thought to anyone else's feelings. Doyle did have some suggestions he'd kept to himself, thinking no one would ever hear them anyway, and it took him a moment to remember any of them. "Some time alone would be good. I've had so much the last year, I'm gettin' used to it now. I need help sometimes--okay, a lot of times now--but I don't need babysittin'."
Angel appeared relieved the answer was that simple. "Okay. I suppose I could spend a little more time upstairs. Anything else?"
This request was definitely the tougher one to make. "Could ya...could ya give me somethin' to do? Lookin' stuff up, or even--I don't believe I'm sayin' this--but some typin'. Just lemme think I'm doin' somethin' useful here?"
Angel grinned. "Sure." Angel held out a hand, but Doyle couldn't quite reach it. Angel had to get up and lean closer. "I'll go see what Cordelia and Wesley are doing, maybe they can think of something. Enjoy the book."
"I will," Doyle said, sincerely. He did mean it. Doyle wished he could pretend he was happy, but there was a limit how much acting he could do when he couldn't use the bathroom by himself. He was sick of being helpless and dependent and wanted desperately to change his circumstances, but it would be a long time before that day came. If it ever came.
Angel was half-expecting but still a little surprised to be confronted in the office by Wesley and Cordelia, who had clearly been waiting very impatiently for him to come back.
"Well?" Cordelia demanded. "Which one of you gets the broody nomination? And am I still allowed to take him shopping?"
"Any luck speaking with him?" Wesley asked.
"I think he's--well, he half-admitted it but he's not all that happy. Not miserable, but..." Angel shrugged. He had known after only a few days that something wasn't right with Doyle, but he wasn't sure what wasn't right, much less what to do about it. Angel wasn't even sure something needed to be done. Granted, Doyle had been moping, but he had plenty of reason to.
"Did you try my suggestion?" Wesley queried.
"I asked him. He wants us to give him some down time."
"He can have down time after I get him some decent clothes," Cordelia announced.
Angel winced. "Will he ever need it then," Angel thought--then realized he'd said it out loud.
"Excuse me? I heard that." Cordelia was getting irritated now.
Angel opted to ignore her, because now it was time for the trickier request. "And he wants to do some work up here. Do we have any?" There hadn't been much business lately, which was not so good for Angel or Cordelia. It was good for Wesley, who had taken a second job to pay for Doyle's wheelchair. 'Guilt money', Cordelia called it, and she was right.
"I don't know--do we?" Cordelia asked. "Does watching traffic count as work?"
"Frankly, we don't." Wesley admitted.
"We could invent a demon and tell him to go look it up," Cordelia offered. "I don't think he knows about the database yet, so that could keep him really occupied."
Dismissing Cordelia's sarcasm, that sounded like a possibility to Angel, particularly since he was more than ready for some down time himself. "Fine. Come up with something and let me know." He went into his office and closed the door on them.
"I was kidding! Really..." he could hear Cordelia even through the door.
Angel sat in his chair and tried to relax, but it wasn't working. He was still worrying about Doyle being downstairs alone. No wonder he was driving Doyle crazy. But he couldn't help feeling protective of his friend. Overprotective, he reminded himself. But if he had been overprotective of Doyle in the first place, maybe none of this would ever have happened.
Cordelia and Wesley were busy arguing over exactly what sort of demon Doyle should have to look for. Cordelia initially claimed it should be a vague description, then failed to hold to that position; whereas, Wesley was of a mind it should be at least a realistic description.
"So, we tell him it's a white demon with three horns and a tail? Three is not a natural number of anything for demons," Wesley informed Cordelia.
"And white isn't natural anything. It should be eggshell."
"Eggshell, you know, a color? You've worn that color to the office, and you don't know what to call it? No wonder men can't dress themselves. You must all be colorblind." Cordelia experienced a rare moment of thought. "You know that would explain a lot about Doyle's clothes."
"I can't answer for Doyle but I am most certainly not colorblind. And I happen to think I can dress myself, thank you." Wesley tried to use his most haughty tone on her. No dice.
"You're redefining mistaken now. Those pants? With that jacket? Please."
What with all their carping, neither of them heard the knock on the door the first time. The second time, Wesley heard it and answered.
The man at the door was extremely well--and expensively--dressed and appeared in all aspects to be a man of means. Cordelia noticed this and was immediately interested in lightening the man's wallet.
"Welcome to Angel Investigations! We help the hopeless! Especially rich hopeless people which I really hope you are!" she chirped brightly.
The potential client stared at her blankly for a moment.
"Are you hopeless? You...um...need help? We hope? We help!" Cordelia was fishing for a reaction.
The man appeared speechless. Wesley decided it might not be a bad time to intervene and offered a handshake. "I'm Wesley Wyndham-Pryce. I'm Angel's assistant--"
"Hey!" Cordelia objected.
"--one of his assistants. Do you have a case for us? Perhaps a problem you would like to speak with Angel about?"
The man seemed relieved to be dealing with someone who was arguably sane. "Umm...yes. I--have a problem, it's...unusual. I've heard this firm is good with such things."
"I can assure you, we have successfully handled the most unusual of problems," Wesley told him. He hoped he was overcoming any terror Cordelia might have inspired in the man, but Cordelia wasn't done yet.
"Well, Angel handled them. Some people can't handle ordering a pizza." Cordelia looked at Wesley disapprovingly. She then returned her attention to the possible client. "Coffee? I just made some!"
The man seemed interested until he saw the look on Wesley's face. "I wouldn't recommend it," Wesley muttered under his breath.
"No, thank you," the man informed a disappointed Cordelia.
"Maybe you should speak with Angel now, Mr.--?" asked Wesley.
"Oh, I'm sorry. Peter Ludwig."
"Mr. Ludwig. Right this way." Wesley was thanking the stars he was there to properly receive this client. The way Cordelia greeted clients, it was a wonder they ever had work.
Wesley knocked on the office door and showed Ludwig in. "Angel, this is Mr. Peter Ludwig. He may have an assignment for us."
Angel had been slightly surprised to be interrupted but quickly sprang to his feet to greet Ludwig. "I'm Angel. What can we do for you?"
Ludwig sat down but still appeared uncomfortable. Angel wasn't surprised by that; obviously Ludwig was a man of wealth and in Angel's many years of experience, such people were highly unused to being unable to resolve their problems themselves. Especially supernatural problems.
"There...there seems to be something wrong regarding my son, James. He's eleven," Ludwig said haltingly. "Odd things seem to happen when he's home. And he was just expelled from a private school because of strange things going on there."
This sounded like it had possibilities to Angel. He could see Wesley's interest perking up as well. "What kinds of strange things?" Angel inquired.
Ludwig blushed. "It wasn't anything really, when it started. Light bulbs blew out, windows opening. But now...when Jimmy's around, there've been fires, flying objects, strange noises. I thought the house was haunted, but it only happens when Jimmy's home. When he was at school, everything was fine at the house--and those things happened at the school."
"Has anything actually dangerous occurred?" Wesley asked.
Ludwig nodded his head yes. "Last night, things were thrown at my wife. Some of them--she was cut. And it threw things at me when I tried to help her. Plates, silverware and such forth. My wife is at the end of her rope."
"What about Jimmy?" Angel asked.
"I don't know. Usually he doesn't seem upset about it, but last night he was. I think because his mother was hurt. He asked me to help him. I don't know how though." The last part was clearly difficult for him to say.
Out of the corner of his eye, Angel could see Wesley was trying to get his attention and mouthing something to him. 'Poltergeist', it looked like. Sounded manageable enough. "I think I should meet Jimmy," Angel told Ludwig.
"Of course," Ludwig answered. "He's home now. Anything that you can do for us..."
"Don't worry," Angel told him. "I'll take care of it."
Ludwig's home was sufficiently far from the city that the sewers were not a viable option for getting there. Angel had to ride in the back of his car with a blanket over himself while Wesley drove. Angel hated that. It was times like these he wished he'd kept the Gem of Amara around.
Wesley reacted to first sight of the mansion with a low whistle.
"The man's home is a castle, Angel. You should see this."
"I'll see it from the inside, thanks. You pretty sure it's a poltergeist we're looking at?"
"Eleven is an ideal age for poltergeists. And clearly it's something connected to the boy, so it would seem likely," Wesley explained.
"Do you know how to get rid of them?"
"Offhand? No. I'll have to look it up."
Once Angel had made the mad dash to the mansion and gotten inside with a minimum of scorching, he could see why Wesley was impressed. It was a huge home, with dozens of rooms filled with antiques and expensive furniture. Obviously Ludwig knew how to make money and how to spend it. But Angel already suspected the man had no idea how to cope with his own son.
Ludwig was waiting for them in the living room. "I sent a servant to bring Jimmy downstairs. My wife should be here in a moment."
Even as he said it his wife appeared in the far doorway. She was also expensively dressed, but her face was bruised and badly cut over her forehead. It was Angel's recollection that poltergeists were most often harmless, but that probably wouldn't be a good argument to use with her. Whatever they were dealing with, obviously it had no fondness for this woman.
"You must be Angel," she walked directly to him and offered her hand. "I'm Leona Ludwig."
"Pleased to meet you. This is my assistant, Wesley."
Leona also offered her hand to Wesley, then sat beside her husband. While Leona was doing an excellent job at playing hostess, she wasn't doing so well at hiding fear. She was terrified of something.
"What exactly happened here last night?" Angel asked.
The Ludwigs looked at each other. Finally, Leona spoke reluctantly. "Last night, Jimmy was playing games on the computer and I asked him to go to bed. A few hours later, I noticed he was still playing and I told him to turn the computer off now, or I would do it for him. Then a few hours after that...the lights were out, and I heard--I heard noises--screaming and howling and I heard Jimmy yelling at something. I went to his room and it--it--threw a baseball at me, and other things. I ran out of the room and it followed me downstairs. And then things started hitting me...I don't remember after that."
"I heard her screaming, and Jimmy screaming...and I heard something else screaming, so I went downstairs," Peter continued the story. "The silver and the dishes were--they were hanging in mid-air. And one thing would fly at Leona, and then another one. Jimmy was screaming to stop this but it didn't stop until I got there. Then the lights came on and everything fell on the floor."
A servant appeared at the door and ushered in Jimmy. He appeared his age, just starting to grow to his full height, and ill at ease. He didn't look very happy to see Angel and Wesley, but not completely unhappy either. Jimmy flopped himself onto a couch and waited for his parents to say something. It was evident to Angel that Jimmy was unlikely to say anything without prior permission.
"Jimmy, this is Angel and his friend Wesley," his father told him. "They're going to help you."
"Don't need help," Jimmy muttered.
"Yes, you do," Peter corrected him.
"Listen to your father," Leona interjected.
Angel interrupted. "I think Jimmy and I should talk alone, if that's all right."
Peter seemed surprised, but he agreed, and he and Leona left the room. Wesley started to leave too.
"Wes, you stay. So, Jimmy, uh...how old are you?" Angel wasn't used to talking to children. He hoped he wasn't doing it too badly.
Jimmy looked right back at him, a touch defiantly. "Eleven." Nothing further.
Angel tried to think of something else to ask. "Uhh, I guess you like games? The computer ones, I mean?"
"Yeah, some of them are cool. I'd rather make up my own." Jimmy was still regarding Angel suspiciously.
"I like computers too. I like to look for things on the Internet."
"My parents won't let me use the 'net. They're convinced I'll find bad stuff on there." Jimmy shrugged.
"I guess you don't get to talk with your friends much then."
"What friends?" Jimmy growled. "My parents won't even let anyone come over."
Angel didn't have any more ideas on what to say but fortunately Wesley seemed to.
"What about your friends at school?" Wesley asked Jimmy.
"They don't like me. I don't like them," Jimmy retorted.
Wesley decided to get to the point with the youngster. "Do you know why all these odd things seem to happen when you're about?"
Jimmy's defiance dropped for the first time since he'd come in the room. "Yeah." He studied his feet. "He follows me around. He was really cool at school, he got even with the bigger kids for me."
"What about your Mom?" Angel asked.
"I don't know why he did that!" Jimmy was suddenly upset. "I wasn't that mad at her! I told him not to hurt her and he did it anyway!"
"Does he always do what you tell him, Jimmy?" Wesley was very interested now.
"He used to. I think he does what he wants now."
"Have you told him to go away?"
"Yeah. He won't."
"I see." Wesley was ready to give an assessment. Meanwhile, the germ of an idea had struck Angel.
"Jimmy, do you really want him to go away?" Angel asked.
Jimmy thought about it. "I don't want my Mom to get hurt. Or my Dad. I think I want him to leave."
"Okay," Angel told him. "We'll make him leave."
Angel sent Jimmy out of the room, called Jimmy's parents back in and gave Wesley the go ahead.
"As you may already suspect, Jimmy seems to have attracted a poltergeist," Wesley informed them. "Poltergeists are very fond of children of this age. They like to feed off the energy and intelligence of adolescents. Meanwhile the child is still too immature to fend off the spirit, so it's an ideal situation for the poltergeist. Poltergeist don't necessarily become violent, but often do and clearly this is the case."
"Jimmy's worried the ghost is going to do more damage now that he can't control it," Angel added.
The Ludwigs looked at each other. "I saw the movie, I thought that might be what was happening. So, what do we do?" Peter asked.
Wesley was about to answer but Angel jumped in first. "Well, first of all I think Jimmy should go somewhere else for a few days."
Not only were the Ludwigs surprised, so was Wesley. Angel gestured to Wesley to clam up just before Wesley said something contradictory.
"But, why?" Leona was upset at the idea.
"We're going to have to research poltergeists and how to get rid of them for good," Angel explained. "But it's definitely too dangerous for Jimmy to be around you right now. The ghost might attack you. But if he were to stay with me for a little while, it would take a couple days for the poltergeist to catch up with him and that should be just about long enough for us to find out how to get rid of the thing."
The Ludwigs conferred privately for a moment. They were reluctant to let Jimmy leave, but equally reluctant to continue with a poltergeist plaguing their home.
"Would two days be long enough?" Peter asked.
"Should be perfect," Angel agreed.
"I'll tell him to pack," Peter and Leona left the room.
"What on earth are you doing?" Wesley asked. "It shouldn't take an hour to find a solution to this problem."
Angel smiled at Wesley. "It'll take an hour to solve the poltergeist problem. I think there are a few other problems here that need to be solved first though."
Angel scampered back to the car, leaving Wesley standing in utter confusion and obligated to make arrangements for Jimmy to be dropped off.
Jimmy was not at all impressed with Angel's office, except maybe for the computer. He began tinkering with it even as Cordelia tried to read Angel the riot act.
"He's staying here with us? You don't even ask me first?" she squawked.
"It was an emergency," Angel told her.
"A tornado about to destroy Rodeo Drive is an emergency. This is not an emergency," Cordelia insisted.
"He's staying in the apartment, not the office. Just don't come downstairs for a while." Angel hoped to end the argument there.
Cordelia was somewhat relieved Jimmy wasn't going to be in the office and therefore not her problem, but the apartment also struck her as someone's problem, if a less important one. "If I don't go downstairs, who's going to look after Doyle? Someone has to."
"Doyle doesn't want to be looked after, remember? Unless something happened on the shopping trip I don't know about."
Jimmy didn't like being the subject of anyone's argument and was glad when the argument shifted to this Doyle person. He was rather relieved to be out of his house for that reason alone, although he didn't especially think he was going to like this place any better. Certainly not if they were just going to argue about him staying there, he might as well have stayed with his parents.
"He says he doesn't want to be looked after. But if he had the right person taking care of him, well, we were fine today." Cordelia was getting adamant.
"Don't mind Cordelia, Jimmy," Angel told the youngster. "She forgets I'm in charge."
Cordelia fumed. "In charge, hmph. If it weren't for me you'd forget to charge his parents for keeping him here."
Unfortunately for Cordelia, Jimmy had already figured out Angel was the one he was supposed to listen to and he wasn't listening to her. "Okay, Mr. Angel."
"And you don't have to call me Mister. Angel is fine."
"You'll be staying in my apartment with Doyle. He works for me too. And he'll be looking after you."
"Did you tell Doyle that or does he get a big and totally rude surprise too?" Cordelia sulked.
"He's about to find out," Angel advised her, and steered Jimmy to the elevator.
Jimmy liked the elevator. There were a lot of things and gadgets in his house, but not an elevator. "How did you get your own elevator?" he asked Angel.
"I have no idea. Came with the place. You like it?"
When Jimmy got off the elevator, he could see a small, dark-haired man on the couch reading. He figured that must be Doyle. Angel confirmed that almost immediately.
"Doyle? Still here?"
"Yeah, I'm still here. Like I could go anywhere. Like I'd want to wearing somethin' Cordelia picked out. Who's your pal?"
"This is Jimmy. His family's having some problems with a poltergeist with an attitude. He's going to be staying here a couple days, I'll need you to keep an eye on him."
"Ahhh...okay. If you say so."
Doyle and Jimmy regarded each other for a minute. Doyle spoke first. "You my new roomie then?"
"I guess so. You talk funny."
Doyle snorted. "I could say the same about you, couldn't I?"
Jimmy was immediately embarrassed. He could almost hear his parents telling him how they'd raised him better than to be rude like that. He'd better apologize, he thought. "Sorry. I shouldn't talk like that."
Doyle hesitated. Jimmy thought he didn't expect an apology that quick. "That's okay, Jimmy," Doyle told him.
Meanwhile, Angel had carried Jimmy's bag into another room that Jimmy figured must be the bedroom. Angel called Jimmy and Doyle in.
"Comin'," Doyle yelled back. Jimmy went in the bedroom and didn't notice at first Doyle wasn't right behind him.
"You can sleep here tonight," Angel told Jimmy, putting the bag down on the bed. Angel then noticed Doyle wasn't there yet. "Be right back."
Jimmy started to unpack his bag and he could hear Angel and Doyle talking in the next room. They weren't talking about him though. He thought that was strange. Angel came back in a minute later and Doyle was trailing him. In a wheelchair. Jimmy's mouth fell open and he stared at Doyle.
Doyle stared back. "You catchin' flies or somethin'?"
Jimmy was once again embarrassed. "No, no, I, um, sorry again."
"I'm going upstairs to help Wesley," Angel announced. "You two get acquainted."
Doyle started to say something to Angel, thought better of it and shut up.
Jimmy had never actually met anyone in a wheelchair before. There weren't people like that in his family's circle of acquaintance. He had no idea how to act around Doyle much less what to say to him. And it occurred to Jimmy that Doyle didn't know how to deal with other people either.
At least, it was a long time before Doyle said anything. "I guess I should show you around here, huh? All three rooms of luxury and grandeur we call home."
"The bathroom's down there, the kitchen's in there. Not really worth botherin', we don't have much food anyway." Doyle paused for a moment. He seemed to have thought of something. "Nothin' at all in the fridge, not even worth lookin'. Not like we keep blood or somethin' gross like that in there, just a lot of mold."
Jimmy tried not to laugh but it didn't work. Then Doyle started snickering too.
Angel went back upstairs to see what Wesley and Cordelia might have found on poltergeists. Instead he found both of them irritated with him.
"Angel, what on earth are you about?" Wesley asked him with annoyance. "There's no reason why the boy couldn't stay at home."
"And I still think you should have asked first. I'll bet Doyle's not happy about this either," Cordelia was still sulking.
"Doyle seems to be making out okay. I think they'll do fine," Angel advised her. He had stayed downstairs and observed Doyle with Jimmy for a few minutes without their knowing. So far, so good.
Wesley was losing patience. "You still haven't told me why we brought him here. My preliminary research indicates Jimmy only needs to read an incantation, tell the poltergeist to leave and then it must."
"Like that worked at my place," Cordelia noted.
"Jimmy already told it to leave once and it didn't. I don't think the ghost is taking him seriously," Angel informed Wesley.
"You're kidding, right? This is all because a blob of ectoplasmic whatever doesn't take orders from a kid who should be asking if I want fries with that?" asked Cordelia.
"As you said, I think we already proved spells don't work so great on ghosts," countered Angel. "I think Jimmy's a little too used to doing exactly as his parents tell him to. And the ghost knows Jimmy can't back up any threat he makes."
"So you wanted to get him away from his parents a bit then? That makes somewhat more sense," Wesley commented.
"Right. I think the poltergeist will catch up to Jimmy soon enough, but if he's not around his parents then he might have the nerve to do this right. So what incantations are good for something like this?"
With Jimmy sleeping in the bedroom and Doyle on the couch, Angel had to sleep in his office. Which simply gave Angel a little extra inspiration for waking up Doyle that much earlier in the morning--and waking Jimmy too, albeit a little less directly.
"Wake up, Doyle. Today," Angel barked. Waking up in the morning wasn't a strong point for Doyle ever, but Angel wanted to make sure he was loud enough to wake Jimmy.
"Go away," Doyle moaned.
"Uh-uh. Get up or I'll do it for you."
"Dammit." Doyle dragged himself upright. "What time is it?"
"Doesn't matter. You're up now," Angel informed the groggy half-demon. Doyle had been sent home from the hospital after a minimum of physical therapy--with no insurance, there was no way Doyle was going to be able to get more. So Angel had decided he'd have to work with Doyle, much to the latter's displeasure.
Angel pushed the wheelchair over to the couch and stopped it with one foot to hold it while Doyle sleepily struggled to get into it, muttering all manner of curses in the process. Holding the chair still was the only help Angel would give Doyle.
Finally, Doyle was in. "Happy now?" he growled at Angel.
"Not nearly. You know what's next," Angel informed Doyle, who reluctantly wheeled into the bedroom.
"Jimmy! Move it!" Angel ordered the half-awake teenager.
"Need the bed. Doyle's got some work to do." Angel had figured it would be much easier for Doyle to get in and out of bed--and to get used to moving himself around like that--if there were something for him to hang onto and accordingly Angel had put a steel bar over the bed. After shooing Jimmy out of the bed, Angel nagged Doyle into it. Jimmy watched (not without sympathy for Doyle, Angel noted) as Angel bullied Doyle into dozens of pullups and maneuvers around the bar. Doyle, of course, hated it.
"That's...that's a lot of work," Jimmy told Doyle when Angel finally let him take a break. "Do you have to do that every day?"
Doyle shot Angel an unpleasant look. "Oh, yeah. Nothin' like havin' evil in the house."
Angel ignored the remark. "He's not done yet either," Angel informed Jimmy. Jimmy grimaced almost as much as Doyle did.
Jimmy continued to watch in awe and amazement as Angel harassed and bullied Doyle through an assortment of exercises and therapies Angel had learned from Doyle's therapist at the hospital. Doyle, for his part, taught Jimmy a lot of new expletives.
Finally, Angel was satisfied with Doyle's work. "Jimmy, how about you go visit upstairs? I gotta give this one a bath now." Angel poked Doyle in the back as he said it and Doyle whined miserably. Jimmy took the hint and scampered upstairs.
"Good job, Doyle. I think the kid learned something," Angel remarked with a grin.
Doyle told Angel to do something anatomically impossible.
Jimmy wandered into the office, hoping Cordelia would be there. She wasn't yet. Jimmy didn't think about girls a lot yet, but he was starting to and Cordelia was sort of interesting. But he was thinking more about Doyle. He felt sorry for Doyle and was even a little mad at Angel for being mean to Doyle. Angel reminded him a little of his father. He supposed Doyle reminded him of himself.
Jimmy looked through the books and papers that were left out on the desks. A lot of them were about poltergeists. One of them had a piece of paper sticking out. He pulled it out, taking care to hold the place. Wesley had scribbled a note on the paper. "For driving away unpleasant ghosts." Jimmy opened the book to the page and found a list of phrases the book guaranteed "would drive out spirits from any home, apartment or cave." He flipped through a few more pages and found another page with more phrases. This one guaranteed it would "attract spirits to enliven your home." Jimmy closed the book and took it with him when he went back downstairs.
Angel was now 'helping' Doyle get dressed, so Jimmy went into the kitchen and looked around. He sneaked a peek into some of the cupboards and saw Doyle wasn't kidding--there really wasn't any food around. He didn't get a good look inside the refrigerator because he heard Angel coming, but he couldn't see much of anything in there either.
Angel fixed a minimal breakfast for Doyle and Jimmy. It wasn't much, but it was pretty good. Jimmy noticed Angel wasn't eating with them. "Aren't you eating Mi--uh, Angel?" he asked.
Angel shook his head. "Not hungry."
Jimmy thought Doyle had an unhappy look on his face, but maybe not.
After breakfast Angel announced he was going back to the office and left Jimmy and Doyle alone, to Doyle's discomfort. Doyle had once had a good rapport with children, but now he was almost as rusty as Angel.
"Ya wanna play cards?" Doyle suggested. Jimmy shrugged. "Poker then, five card stud. Penny ante," he told the youngster.
"What's that mean?" Jimmy asked.
"You don't--you've never played poker?" Doyle couldn't believe it. The game was no longer a suggestion. "I'm teachin' ya right now then. You listen up."
Doyle was dealing a hand when Angel walked in.
"Nobody, yet," Doyle advised Angel. "I can't believe the kid's never played poker in his life. How's a man supposed to get through his life without five card stud?"
"I seem to have survived the lack of experience," Angel commented.
"Seems to me you didn't survive, period."
Angel leaned over next to Jimmy. "Careful with him. He cheats."
"I don't cheat." Doyle dismissed Angel with a wave of his hand. "You're just that bad at it."
"Doyle's quite right, Angel--you are that bad at it," Wesley mentioned as he came down the stairs.
"Enough, both of you." Angel sighed. "We'll be upstairs if you need anything. Just leave him some money when you're done, okay?"
"Fine," Doyle said distractedly. He had too decent a hand going to notice Angel leaving and dragging Wesley upstairs with him.
"We'll be fine, sir. I mean, Angel," Jimmy said nervously.
"Ya need any cards over there? Dealer's raisin' ya."
"Umm, I guess so." Jimmy was staring at his cards and couldn't seem to meet Doyle's gaze.
"Somethin' wrong?" Doyle was a little worried about the youngster. Angel had been very vague as to the problems leading to Jimmy's stay in Angel's apartment and Doyle half-wondered what he'd gotten into here.
"Well, I wanted to...I wanted to ask you something, but I shouldn't." Jimmy still wouldn't look up.
"Ya can ask me somethin'. I won't bite. Angel might, but I won't," Doyle gave the kid a grin but it wasn't helping.
"Doyle...what, uh, what happened to you?" Jimmy looked up and then back down again just as quickly.
The question stung. Doyle thought he had become adjusted, but this was the first he'd been asked by a stranger. He hadn't really given thought as to how to answer such a question. Given that Jimmy was young, Doyle decided on honesty. But it didn't make answering him any easier.
"I--I was shot," Doyle answered awkwardly.
"Oh," the boy responded. He was clearly upset, but curiosity soon took the better of him. "Did it hurt?"
"Yes. It hurt a lot." Doyle felt his eyes burning. He didn't want to cry, but the memory was strong, and his back ached at the thought of it. The pain was never completely gone and remembering tended to make it worse.
Neither of them said anything for several minutes, Doyle as he fought off the tears and the pain and Jimmy as he appeared to be mulling over another question. Eventually he asked it.
"Did they get the guy?"
"What?" Doyle's mind had been elsewhere.
"The guy who shot you...did the police ever catch him?" Jimmy asked hopefully.
"Umm, no. Not yet," Doyle added. Even as he said it, Wesley came down the stairs.
"Doyle, Angel was wondering if you knew where the Book of Demonic Activity was...'not yet', what?"
Doyle was now fighting back bitterness as well as pain. He was having enough difficulty coping with his life, not to mention the current situation, without the cause of it blundering in. "Jimmy wants to know if the police have caught the guy who shot me. Not yet," Doyle snapped bitterly.
Now Wesley was stung. "Yes, indeed. Not yet," he answered unhappily.
"I don't understand," Jimmy said softly.
"Wesley, why don't you tell him who shot me?" Doyle challenged.
Painful as it was, Wesley accepted the challenge. "Jimmy, this will be hard to understand, but...I shot him. It was a terrible mistake and I am very, very sorry for it."
"What would you do that for?" Jimmy asked incredulously.
"I thought he was someone else," Wesley answered quickly, hoping for a exit from this conversation. Clearly, though, the boy didn't really understand. "When you're older, Jimmy, you'll find adults--they make mistakes. Very bad ones, sometimes. And when you make such mistakes, you have to live with the responsibility for them."
Jimmy still appeared confused, but now he was looking at Doyle, who was chewing on one of his fingers in an attempt to keep his emotions under control.
"Why don't you hate him? Why don't you kill him, or hurt him, or something?" he asked Doyle.
Doyle didn't answer for a while. He wasn't quite sure of the answer himself. Doyle really didn't know why he didn't hate Wesley and given Jimmy's age, he wanted the answer to be right.
"Something else you'll find when you're older--you'll make a lot of mistakes too. And some of them are going to hurt people. Maybe kill people." Doyle was thinking of Lucas and the tears started to come again. He paused until the need passed. "When you understand other people make those same mistakes...you'll find something in your heart to forgive them."
Wesley was clearly touched. "Doyle, you have no idea how much that means to me."
Doyle hadn't intended for Wesley to be touched and he was irritated. "I said I forgive you. Don't think for a minute that I like you," he snapped.
Wesley was crestfallen. Jimmy, however, was grinning. "That part I understand."
"Where's that book?" Angel hollered down the stairs and the whole mood was broken.
"Coming," Wesley called back. He paused a moment. "Doyle?" Doyle regarded Wesley coolly. "A truce? Please?"
Doyle was feeling a little drained. "Truce. The book's in the bedroom."
The poker game didn't last much longer before Doyle fell asleep in the middle of it. Jimmy decided to go back upstairs. Angel and Wesley were reading; Cordelia was there now but she was painting her fingernails. Jimmy started to watch her but Cordelia immediately objected.
"Do you have to do that?"
She startled Jimmy so much he fell over a chair and landed on the desk next to Angel.
"I believe he takes after you, Wes," Angel remarked with amusement. Wesley glared at him.
"Sorry. I mean, um..."
Angel waved Jimmy off. "What happened to Doyle?"
Jimmy was completely embarrassed to begin with and now he really reddened. "He fell asleep. I must be really boring."
"No, he does that a lot. He gets worn out pretty fast," Angel told him. "I think we figured out how to make your ghost get lost."
"You did?" Jimmy queried.
"When the poltergeist next appears, you need to read an incantation, I made a note of the proper one but I can't seem to find the book," Wesley admitted.
Jimmy blushed again. "I took it downstairs."
"So you know what you need to say?" Wesley asked.
"I guess. But he doesn't listen to me anymore." Jimmy looked defeated.
"He's not afraid of you," Angel told Jimmy. "But you can make him afraid of you. You do that, and say what it says in the book, and he'll leave for good."
"I don't think I can scare anybody."
"You don't have to scare him, really, just let him know who's in charge here," Wesley offered.
Now that idea scared Jimmy a lot. He wasn't in charge of anything, much less of a ghost. It was his father's job to be in charge, not Jimmy's. "I don't think--"
"Then don't. Just do it. I think you can." Angel informed him. "Why don't you go practice what you have to tell it?"
Jimmy shifted from foot to foot. "Okay. I'll try."
Jimmy practiced the incantation all afternoon while Doyle mostly read but occasionally dozed off. He was tired most of the time anyway and usually was sleeping by that time of day, but he was trying to stay awake to keep an eye on Jimmy. Babysitting wasn't quite what he'd had in mind when he asked Angel for an assignment, but that was the job he'd been given so he would give it his best shot.
"You want to sleep?" Jimmy asked him.
"Am I that obvious?" Doyle asked back. "I'd like to, yeah, but Angel told me to watch ya so that's what's gonna happen."
"Do you--do you mind having to look out for me?"
"Nah. Of course, I'd rather look at Cordelia, but I don't mind."
"Oh." Jimmy closed his book and put it away. "I'm hungry."
Doyle winced. Cordelia, in her usual brash and insensitive manner, had inadvertently told Doyle how bad Angel Investigations' finances were. Angel certainly wasn't going to tell Doyle, and Doyle had so far managed to pretend he didn't know for Angel's benefit. But he was going to have to tell Jimmy something before the kid complained of hunger to Angel.
"I'm sorry, Jimmy. There's nothin' left."
"Are you sure?"
"I'm sure. I'm starvin' too. But we ate the last of it this morning."
Jimmy hesitated. "Angel didn't eat anything this morning."
Doyle studied his fingers. "He hasn't eaten in a few days. He gave everythin' that was left to me an' you." It wasn't entirely true, since Angel didn't actually eat; but Cordelia had let slip that Angel had let his supply of blood run out so he could afford some food for Doyle. It was not something Doyle was happy about. But it wouldn't be easy to explain to Jimmy either, Doyle thought, considering he was sure Jimmy had always had plenty of everything. Not to mention having to explain the vampire part.
"Why not get some then?"
"It's been a while since we had a payin' client. An' I know my bills from the hospital have to be somethin' else. We're beyond broke now."
Jimmy seemed to mulling over this information. "You don't seem like you're that upset about it though. I always thought if I had to go hungry, I'd be pretty mad about it."
"I'm pretty used to things like that now. I've never had much to my name ever. Now all I got is this chair and some stuff from Goodwill. But I always manage," Doyle explained. "Really all I got is Angel, and Cordelia. But that's enough. Friends are what's gonna get you by. And family, if you got one. Angel's my family, an' that'll do."
Jimmy sat silently for a while. "I never thought about it like that. I guess 'cause my Dad gives me everything."
"Things are nice. But your Mom and Dad are important."
"Yeah." Jimmy appeared lost in his thoughts, so Doyle returned to his own book.
Angel returned not much later. "You look beat," Angel informed Doyle.
"I feel like that, too." Doyle was glad for the break. He hadn't thought he could stay awake any longer and his back ached considerably. He wasn't used to sitting up for more than a few hours a day yet and his back was more than glad to remind him of that.
Angel started to put the blankets back on the couch for Doyle, but Jimmy interrupted him.
"I think Doyle should sleep in the bed. I can sleep upstairs," Jimmy told Angel.
"You sure?" Angel asked.
"Yeah. I mean, well, it's his bed. He should have it." Jimmy reddened a bit and stumbled over a few of the words.
Doyle wasn't expecting the gesture. "Jimmy, you're our guest, you should--"
"I'll be okay upstairs." Jimmy said with a surprising measure of finality.
Doyle looked at Angel questioningly. Angel appeared borderline smug.
"You got it, Jimmy." Angel was almost grinning now.
Doyle, however, was confused. "When that kid leaves, you are gonna have so much explainin' to do," he grumbled at Angel the second Jimmy left the room.
Jimmy had no trouble at all falling asleep on the upstairs couch. Mostly because he was feeling pretty happy with himself. Although his parents had always been emphatic with him about being polite and well-behaved, he never really had much opportunity to actually be nice or do something nice for someone else before. And he wanted to do something nice for Doyle. He liked Doyle, although he did find him kind of confusing. Jimmy couldn't imagine anyone who was as miserable as Doyle had to be who was as funny as Doyle was. Before he fell asleep, Jimmy had decided to sneak out first thing in the morning and get some breakfast for Doyle. And for Angel.
Jimmy didn't hear the sounds in the office at first; he was too soundly asleep. But when a chair fell over, that woke him. And he knew who had pushed the chair over.
Jimmy sat upright and tried to ascertain where exactly the ghost was. When he thought he knew, he started reciting the incantation. He tried to say it as strong and confidently as he could, but the spirit wasn't buying it. Instead, a bookshelf toppled over with a loud thud.
"Would you just stop it already?" Jimmy pleaded. "I don't want you around, don't you get that?"
The ghost heard him; it wasn't listening.
Angel had been awake most of the night, glad that his plan appeared to be working, at least for Jimmy. He wondered if it was working on Doyle too. Then he heard the chair fall over. He wasn't immediately worried; maybe Jimmy had gotten up and fallen over it. But then he heard Jimmy reading the incantation and knew the poltergeist had caught up.
Angel was already on his feet when he heard the bookshelf hit the floor. "Oh crap," he said to himself.
"What the hell was that?" Doyle was awake now too.
"Jimmy's poltergeist figured out where he went," Angel told Doyle. "And I don't think he succeeded in getting rid of the thing. I better help."
"Swell. Wait for me."
"No. You stay here," Angel informed Doyle. "Dodging flying objects isn't your best subject now and you're not getting hurt."
"Angel...I gotta help the kid." Doyle sounded almost plaintive to Angel.
"Sorry, this one's mine. Stay put." Angel bounded up the stairs even as he could hear more things in the office crashing and breaking.
Jimmy was standing in the middle of the office with a hopeless expression on his face. Anything in the office that hadn't been nailed down seemed to circling the room around Jimmy or being hurtled against a wall.
"Angel! I told him to leave, he won't! It didn't work!"
Angel dodged a hovering stapler and grabbed Jimmy by the shoulders. "You can't just tell him to leave. You have to TELL HIM. Like you told me you were sleeping up here," Angel tried to explain.
"But he's not listening to me! I told you it wasn't gonna work!"
"Jimmy, tell him--" Angel didn't get a chance to finish because the poltergeist had launched a pair of scissors at him, point first. Angel barely grabbed them out of the air before they ripped through his face. A letter opener came flying right behind it and Angel twisted out of the way before it stuck him.
With Angel otherwise occupied, Jimmy fled. He raced through the door and out into the street, crying.
Now Doyle was really frustrated. There was a ghost upstairs, apparently totaling the place from the sounds of it, not to mention that Jimmy was up there with it. And Angel wouldn't allow him to help.
"The hell with this. I'm goin' up," he announced to no one in particular. Doyle dragged himself awkwardly to the chair and didn't quite get completely into it but he didn't see where he had time to be perfect with it. He managed to wheel himself to the elevator but his failure to get entirely in the chair cost him at that point when he fell out of it.
"Dammit!" Doyle realized he wasn't going to be able to reach the elevator but then it also occurred to him the electricity was out so the elevator wouldn't work anyway. He was going to have to drag himself up the stairs.
Doyle didn't recall there having been quite so many steps involved in the staircase before. His arms were barely strong enough to pull him upwards and he had to stop frequently to get his balance before he slid back down. He could hear Jimmy and Angel arguing upstairs, but then he couldn't hear Jimmy any longer. He could only hear the sounds of what was apparently a very one-sided fight.
Finally, Doyle reached the top of the stairs and hauled himself onto the floor. The office was a mess, with everything on the floor and most of it broken, including glass. 'Wonderful,' he thought, 'I can slash my wrists while I'm here.' Doyle didn't see Jimmy anywhere, but he did see Angel.
The poltergeist was throwing anything it could find at Angel, who was trying frantically to dodge or knock away as many things as possible. He wasn't always succeeding either, as Doyle could see an assortment of cuts and bruises on Angel's face and arms. Angel spotted Doyle and wasn't at all pleased.
"I told you to stay down there! Go back!"
"Like I can!" Doyle yelled back. Angel had been right; he should have stayed down there, but it was too late for that now.
The poltergeist took advantage of Angel's momentary distraction. The ghost quite literally pulled the rug out from under Angel and Angel hit the floor, hard. Hard enough to stun the vampire. With Angel temporarily decommissioned, the ghost picked up a broken chair leg and Doyle realized what the spirit had in mind.
"Oh no, you don't," he snarled. Doyle braced himself with one arm and reached out as far as he could with the other. He was just able to get a hold of Angel's shirt and Doyle pulled on it as hard as he could. Angel's body slid out of the way of the projectile just before it would have sunk into his chest and through his heart. Instead the chair leg sliced down Angel's side.
Still holding onto Angel's shirt, Doyle pulled himself over to Angel and crawled on top of him, covering the vampire's body with his own. "Where are ya, ya stupid thing? I've had enough. Ya gotta come through me now!" he screamed at nothing.
"That's not a good idea," Angel murmured, his senses slowly coming back to him.
"What's not?" Doyle started to ask and immediately got the answer. The specter easily picked Doyle up the air and tossed him against the wall. Before Doyle even had a chance to compose himself from that blow, the ghost lifted him up again and this time threw him headfirst at the window. Doyle was able to get his arms up in time to stop himself from going through the window, but the glass shattered and sliced into his hands and arms. The dead weight of the lower half of his body hit the wall with a thud.
Doyle got hold of the sill with his hands and painfully shoved himself back the room. The shards of glass that had been the window ripped through his arms and chest as he fell back on the floor in a heap. Doyle decided now might not be a bad time to give his demon side a shot at the ghost, but nothing happened. He strained but no spikes appeared. He was too exhausted and weak to do it. Not to mention the bleeding from of dozens of cuts.
"You're right, Angel. That wasn't a good idea," Doyle gasped out. Then he realized Angel wasn't in the room anymore. Terrific, just terrific. Of all times when he desperately needed Angel...Doyle decided stalling might not be a bad idea. Maybe be Angel left because he had a plan.
"I get it," he told the ghost between gulps of air. "You're pissed at one guy at a time. And I'm it." A cold breeze hit him in the face and tore the breath back out of him again, leaving him gasping for air again.
The apparition was now facing him from the far side of the room. He was afraid of it, not to mention feeling a little desperate, but mostly Doyle was furious at the spirit. This wasn't fair. Nothing that had happened to him was fair and he was sick of all of it. ""I can tell you missed the lecture on fighting fair. Ya pick on a kid, an' you pick on some guy who can't even stand up! Aren't you tough?" he yelled defiantly. "Now it's you and me, Casper. Give it your best shot."
The hundreds of pieces of broken glass on the floor suddenly began to rise in the air and began swirling about the same area where Doyle figured the ghost was. They whirled about faster and faster and Doyle had a pretty good idea where the shards would be headed once the poltergeist thought they were moving fast enough. He pushed himself up the side of the wall; might as well give it a target and besides, he was going to face this damn thing down right to the last second.
The pieces of glass suddenly swerved and headed directly towards him from across the room. "The good fight," Doyle told himself softly.
Jimmy's voice cut through the room and, apparently, through the ghost. The pieces of glass suddenly fell to the floor, shattering further as they struck the floor. The poltergeist started screaming a horrible shrieking sound that felt to Doyle like it was piercing his eardrums.
"LEAVE HIM ALONE, NOW."
That was Jimmy's voice, wasn't it?' Doyle asked himself. It sounded like the boy and yet it didn't. This sounded far too authoritative for Jimmy, but even as Doyle thought it he could see Jimmy step into the room and face off with the apparition.
"I told you to leave. Now go," the boy said coldly.
The ghost shrieked louder and louder, until with a blast of freezing cold air, it vanished. Jimmy sagged limply into the wall and might have fallen, but Angel caught him. Doyle knew then Angel had been standing behind Jimmy from the moment he came in. Doyle lost what little strength remained in his arms and slid down the wall. He was too exhausted to move.
"You think it's really gone?" Jimmy asked Angel hopefully.
"I think it's really gone," Angel said wearily, but Jimmy already wasn't paying attention to him.
"Doyle?" Jimmy asked, pulling away from Angel and slowly approaching the bloody heap against the wall. Doyle heard the fear in the boy's voice and realized what he must look like. He forced himself to speak.
"Need more'n a ghost to kill me," he croaked. Jimmy joyfully tackled Doyle and hugged him hard. It didn't feel too good for Doyle though, as every one of the cuts screamed at him. "Oh man, that hurts," he informed Jimmy and then passed out.
Angel held Doyle's left arm down as the doctor stitched the cuts that decorated it. Fortunately that was the last place stitched because Angel had lost count of the number of stitches once it reached the hundreds. "You done now? Please tell me yes," Doyle panted.
"You still need a tetanus shot," the doctor informed Doyle.
"Great, just great," Doyle griped.
"Could have been a lot worse," Angel informed Doyle. "Or you could have stayed in the basement like I told you to."
"We'll get you some bandages and then you're done," the doctor told Doyle, "But you really should stay here tonight."
"I'm goin' home," Doyle growled.
The doctor looked at Angel, who had refused any treatment at all for his own injuries. "What he said," Angel said firmly. The doctor left the room shaking his head.
"So what'd I miss? Besides 'ER'," Doyle asked.
"One second Jimmy's gone and you're out cold. Next one you're both back and the kid's suddenly in charge. What happened?"
Angel sat back in his chair. "I knew that thing was going to kill you. It was going to kill me, but you had to butt in." Doyle glared. "Okay, end of that subject. But Jimmy was the only one who could help you. I found him outside and that's what I told him. He still didn't think he could do it, but when he saw what was going to happen to you he finally managed it."
"Too close as far as I'm concerned."
Angel shrugged. He was still too relieved that Doyle would be all right to do much nit-picking. "I guess that's the first time he was really motivated to send the thing back where it came from."
"Shouldn't he have wanted to get the thing away from his parents before?"
"Jimmy's obligated to help his parents. He wanted to help you. That's the difference."
Doyle considered this explanation. Then he finally understood what Angel had been up to. "You had that planned the whole damn time!" he barked.
"Well...yes," Angel admitted, with a little chagrin since it hadn't occurred to him Doyle might not have liked being used in such a manner. "I thought Jimmy could use a friend. And I thought you might need someone to take care of."
Doyle had been about to take Angel to task when Angel gave his reasoning. He closed his eyes and said nothing at first. "Yeah, I liked lookin' after the kid," he finally said. "I really hate it when you're right."
"Sometimes I hate being right. This time I like it."
"I'll bet." Doyle sighed. "How the hell are we gonna pay for this?"
Angel didn't have an answer for that. He hadn't known Doyle was fully aware there was no income at Angel Investigations. He supposed he should have known Doyle would figure it out.
Fortunately, Angel was rescued by Jimmy at that moment. "I called my Dad," Jimmy said, walking in and sitting next to Doyle. "He's going to pay the bill."
"He is?" Angel said with astonishment.
"Sure. I told him the ghost was gone. He was kinda upset someone got hurt but he's too glad it wasn't me to be real mad. He'd buy you a 747 if you wanted one." Jimmy paused. "You want one?"
"Uh, no thanks," Angel said hastily.
"That might be--never mind," Doyle reconsidered whatever he was about to say courtesy of a glare from Angel.
"He's coming to pick me up in a few minutes." Jimmy fidgeted a bit. "The doctor says you're nuts 'cause you want to go home tonight," Jimmy informed Doyle.
"Guess the rumor got out," Doyle quipped.
"Doyle...are you gonna be okay?"
"Yeah, you bet," Doyle assured him.
"Okay. I'll see you guys. I--I liked staying with you."
"We liked havin' ya. Come back an' I'll teach ya to play draw."
Jimmy grinned. "Deal."
"Not now." Doyle grinned back.
"Enough," Angel interrupted. He was ready to go home and he was sure Doyle wanted to go too. "You take care, Jimmy."
Doyle slept like a stone the moment Angel got him in the car and he still didn't budge the next morning. Angel was disinclined to disturb him.
There was disturbance enough upstairs when Cordelia and Wesley arrived.
"Angel, what in heaven's name--" Wesley didn't even know how to finish.
"I guess the place has looked better," Angel admitted.
"Sunnydale High School looks better than this!" Cordelia whined.
"You wanted something to do," Angel pointed out to her.
"But I didn't tell you to destroy your own office!"
"I didn't. The poltergeist was pretty quick on the uptake," Angel explained.
Wesley was impressed by the damage. "But is it gone? Did Jimmy get rid of it?"
"All gone. Worked just like I had in mind--except for the ghost showing up early part."
"Nice job on the window. I always wanted central air," Cordelia observed. "Oh, ick. Who got bloody goop on the wall? The ghostie, I hope."
"No, Doyle did."
That stopped both Cordelia and Wesley in their tracks. Angel decided he'd best explain hastily. "The poltergeist tried to throw him out the window. He got cut, but he'll be okay."
Cordelia looked more than a little angry. "And you think I can't take care of him? If Doyle were staying with me he wouldn't be flying out windows!" She was about to head downstairs but Angel caught her first.
"He's asleep. You can see him later. But we have a lot of cleaning up to do."
The three of them still had a long way to go in cleaning up the office when the Ludwigs showed up.
"Good lord," Peter said in amazement. "We never had this much damage at the house."
"The ghost was never quite as angry with you as he was with me," remarked Angel.
"You have a talent for inspiring crazy ghostie things," Cordelia informed him.
Angel settled for shrugging.
"But it is gone, isn't it? For good?" Leona asked.
"Completely. Saw it go myself," added Angel.
"Just like we told you, Angel Investigations can handle any problem!" Cordelia chirped. Peter cringed. Leona only stared at Cordelia oddly.
Cordelia wasn't finished. "Now I was going to do an invoice, but I think those are somewhere down the street right now...", Cordelia held up an audition notice. "So I'll just write up your bill now and--"
"I already brought a check," Peter interrupted hastily and handed the check to Wesley. Wesley whistled and handed it to Angel.
Angel was very surprised by the number on the check. No, extremely surprised to the point of embarrassment, he told himself. "Oh, hey, we appreciate it and all but this is--this is a lot more than we--I mean--you already paid the hospital bill and--"
Peter was firm. "Jimmy had told us about the damage to your office, this should more than take care of the repairs. And you've done us a tremendous service...more than I ever expected really. I sent a boy here and it seems you sent back a young man. I can't put a price on that. Please accept it."
Angel was still searching and failing to find appropriate words, so Cordelia snatched the check away from him. Her eyes widened and she started giggling. Wesley grabbed the check away from her.
"Not the slightest chance," Wesley told her. "We fix the office first. And pay off Doyle's bills."
"Oh, about that," Leona interrupted.
"I paid all of his bills, not just last night's," Peter said.
"Jimmy told us about Doyle too. I'd like to meet him," Leona continued.
"He's...still...sleeping," Angel stalled a bit, but concluded given the Ludwigs' generosity it would be worthwhile to wake Doyle for this. "I'll get him."
Angel paused at the top of the stairs. "And Wes--guard that check with your life."
Doyle hadn't budged from where Angel had left him and he wasn't enchanted at being awakened. The assortment of cuts were burning and itching in various degrees and moving was not something he wanted to do. Nor did he really want to contemplate the irony that all of his injuries were in the places where he could still feel pain. "Not today, Angel, please. Give me half a break."
"Sorry. But this is for something else."
"What else?" Doyle rolled his eyes. He couldn't imagine why else Angel would want him up so soon, comparatively speaking.
"The Ludwigs are here."
"Jimmy?" Doyle asked a little hopefully.
"No, just his parents. They want to meet you."
Suddenly the cuts don't hurt quite so bad, Doyle thought to himself. "I'd really, really rather not."
"I didn't think you would. But..."
"They paid all of your bills, Doyle. Not just last night's."
Doyle was shocked. He'd thought paying last night's tab was pretty generous of Jimmy's parents. "All of it?"
"All of it," Angel repeated. "And they gave us enough to put the office back together. And run it for the next month or so. So I figure if they want to meet you--"
Doyle saw the big picture. "I gotta. Okay, but quick, yeah? I wanna sleep."
Angel put some clothes on Doyle quickly and plunked him in the chair.
It didn't take a moment to see Jimmy hadn't told his parents everything about Doyle. They were as surprised by the wheelchair as Jimmy had been and not much more comfortable about it, which was precisely the reason Doyle hadn't wanted to meet them. The three of them regarded each other in mutual discomfort for a minute.
"Uhhh...Jimmy tells me you looked after him the last few days," Peter said awkwardly.
Doyle squirmed. "Yeah, I guess I did."
"Jimmy seems to like you," Leona remarked.
Doyle managed a half-smile. "He's good kid. Liked havin' him here. If ya ever feel like droppin' him off for a while, I wouldn't mind seein' him again."
Peter managed a smile himself. "Jimmy already asked. He said something about learning to play poker." Doyle blushed.
"And Jimmy asked us to return the favor," Leona told Doyle.
"Jimmy has asked that if you ever need anything, to call me," Peter explained. "And I'll take care of it. My son means a lot to me and apparently you mean a lot to him."
Now Doyle was really blushing. "Th-th-than-k-ks," he stammered.
"No, thank you," Leona told him.
"We should be going," Peter said, standing up. "Again, thanks to all of you for your help."
"It was a pleasure to be of service," Wesley told them.
The four of them sat silently in the mess that had been the office for some time before finally Angel spoke.
"I like being right."
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