A light, cold rain was falling over the crowded, old, Parisian cemetery, just hard enough to warrant an umbrella, but the woman who stood keeping company with the dead didn't seem to mind the inconvenience. Protected by the elements by a black leather trench coat and an oversized paisley umbrella, she seemed to be at home in the midst of the drizzle. A glance at her face, though, told a different story.
Life, she thought, wasn't supposed to be like this.
Then again, if life had worked out the way it was supposed to, she wouldn't be standing here now, twelve centuries after her birth. Amanda sighed resignedly.
So many regrets in one lifetime: love lost, love gained at cost, lives taken and chances stolen away, and all of it scars on my heart. God knows I love all the beauty and progress I've seen, all the interesting people I've met, the things I've been able to hold and keep, but the cost for it all is sometimes too much, especially when I thought I knew what the price would be.
"I wish you were here, Rebecca," she told the grave, her fingers tracing the name and dates. The birth year on the marble headstone was wrong, Amanda knew. The name engraved on it was true enough. "I need to talk to someone, and you were always there for me." Amanda closed her eyes, feeling the deep ache of loneliness fill her heart.
"I always thought you would really live forever," Amanda commented, opening her eyes. "You were already so old when I met you, and you always seemed to know just what to do." She chuckled ruefully. "Even if I screwed up and you'd tell me that you couldn't help me make it right, that it was my responsibility to fix my own mistakes." Even now, she could hear Rebecca's voice, see her wry smile.
With another sigh, she set her bouquet in front of the marker, and rose to her feet.
Strong Presence assaulted her as she became upright. Warily, she reached for her sword, but did not draw it. The cemetery was Holy Ground, and she had no wish to defile it with blood, particularly her own. Aside from that, the rain made the ground slippery, and she'd never been good at fighting in the rain. Silently, she calculated her options. She could close her umbrella, hide among the headstones, or she could just wait to face the other Immortal. She chose to wait: there were times when retreating was a better option, but she trusted that the tradition of Holy Ground as a no-fighting zone would be upheld. Only the most foolhardy defiled that tradition.
Her dark brown eyes soon found the source of the signal, striding towards her as casually as he would greet a mortal. In deference to both the sword he carried and the weather, a coffee-hued trench coat was wrapped around his lean, tall frame. He moved with the exaggerated grace of a feline and the apparent indifference of the college student his looks declared he must be. Amanda knew better; he was a lot older than he appeared. His unexpected appearance pleased her, brightening her mood somewhat. She relaxed, and moved her hand away from her sword. A part of her wondered why she didn't feel him as intensely as she used to, and surmised it was a result of having taken so many Quickenings in the past year.
"I thought I might find you here," he greeted, his words flavored by a British accent. He came to stop beside Amanda.
"You mean you convinced my Watcher to tell you." Her voice was dry. She held few illusions about Methos's tactics; therefore, she wasn't surprised that he'd found her when she had told no one where she was going.
He shrugged, neither confirming nor denying the accusation. "I needed to find you, and no one was at The Sanctuary. I thought you had that ex-cop running the bar."
"Nick left," Amanda said shortly. Without saying good-bye. She ignored the pang of regret the thought produced and focused her attention on her companion. It didn't surprise her that Methos knew Nick had been a cop; though Amanda had been careful not to mention Nick when she'd spoken to Methos, she knew he would have heard about him from Joe, if nowhere else. It wouldn't surprise her if Methos had checked Nick out personally. His next comment only served to prove that he had done so.
"He's one of us now," Methos stated, apparently guessing at the reason for his departure.
Amanda sighed, and moved away from the grave. Methos followed her. She felt his knowing gaze on her back as they reached the parking lot.
"I thought I was doing the right thing," she told him, turning at last to face him. "I was so sure I knew exactly what to do." She gestured awkwardly, the umbrella hampering her movement. "I thought he'd stop being angry with me by now. It's been two weeks, and he hasn't been home. I know he hasn't left the country yet because his passport is still in his apartment above the bar. I thought I was doing him a favor by killing him before the poison finished its work."
"He might never forgive you," Methos pointed out.
Amanda nodded, sighing. "I know." She paused, reflecting. Methos waited patiently, his hands stuck in the pockets of his trench coat, seemingly comfortable to stand in the rain. She had the passing thought that he looked rather adorable standing there, but not as cute as Nick would look.
"I would have done anything for him, you know," she mused. "How much more can I show him that I care?"
"You could've let him die."
"I promised him he wouldn't."
"That," Methos observed, "was a mistake."
Amanda narrowed her gaze, knowing he was right, and hating him for it. "Mine to make," she snapped off, irritated by his judgment. "I couldn't let him die. I wanted to save him from dying forever." She sighed, frustrated. "I wanted to do something right for once."
"Taking his life without his consent makes you no better than the thug who poisoned him. Did you ever ask him if he ever wanted to live forever? "
Amanda moved restlessly. "He seemed curious — " she began.
"It's not the same, Amanda," Methos cut her off. "I told you before that you can't protect him forever. You knew the risks of staying. You made your choices."
Remembering that conversation, Amanda shook her head. "I thought I had it all figured out."
"What, that you'd wing it?" Methos crossed his arms and stepped, ever so imperceptibly, underneath the cover of her umbrella.
Amanda winced and tried a smile. "That counts as a plan, too," she countered. "Tell me the whole thing with Duncan fighting Kronos wasn't at least partly by the seat of your pants, and I'll call you a liar."
Methos stared at her. "I didn't think you knew about that," he said finally.
She smiled then. "Joe had to tell someone, even if he couldn't write it all down."
"I don't want to know how you got him to tell you," Methos decided. He watched her closely, as if he half-expected her to judge him.
She laughed softly, suspecting that was the case. "I'm not Duncan, Methos," she reminded him.
He quirked an eyebrow, acknowledging the truth of that statement. She watched relief form in his eyes before it was quickly shielded, and realized abruptly that he'd been concerned about her reaction. She wondered if he regretted the pain his past had caused — not the past itself, for she knew he didn't regret that — but the damage it had caused in the present. Then she laughed at herself; of course, he did, but he would never let it show, not where anyone could see. He had hardened his heart to the opinions of others, but couldn't stop himself from wanting to know what they were.
With a start, she realized something else as well: she wanted Nick's approval. Nothing else seemed as important.
"Everything okay?" Methos asked, breaking into the silence.
"About what, exactly?" Amanda asked cautiously. She saw Methos take a figurative step back, a bland mask slipping into place that someone who didn't know him as well as she did wouldn't notice. Too late, she realized how her words had sounded.
"Methos, I don't care about your past," she quickly informed him. "It's not who you are now. That would be like you judging me now for being part of a harem."
He considered her statement, then relaxed. "You're worried about Nick."
"He left without a sword," Amanda informed Methos. "I don't know where he's been staying, and I don't want to get the Watchers on him yet if I can help it."
"Too late," Methos said quietly. "Joe called me and yelled at me for not telling him Nick Wolfe was going to be one of us." Annoyance showed through his voice. "As if that was somehow my responsibility."
Amanda swore. Though she liked Joe, she couldn't say she felt the same way about any other Watchers; she was inclined to distrust anyone whose entire livelihood depended on the spying of others. She knew from personal experience just how that information could be used for less honorable purposes than for the sake of history. "Anyone we know?"
Methos shook his head. "Someone new. Joe vouches for him, though." He paused. "That's part of the reason why I came looking for you."
"What's the other part?" Some instinct told Amanda she wasn't going to like the second reason.
"I saw him at the airport about— " he checked his watch "twenty minutes ago. He was headed to Torago."
No, she decided, I don't like that reason. "He left Paris," Amanda repeated stupidly. Then, realizing how she sounded, she closed her eyes and sighed deeply before opening them again. "Do you know where he went?"
"Yes, and before you ask, Amanda, the answer is 'no, I won't teach him.'"
She had been hoping for a different answer, but his refusal didn't surprise her. Her first impulse was to try and charm Methos into changing his mind, but this wasn't anything relating to Duncan, and her chances of changing Methos's mind were therefore slim. Of her own ability as a teacher, she held no illusions, but she'd learned the hard way that loving one's student made the lessons all that more difficult to teach.
"Please?" Never one to readily admit defeat, she tried anyway, stepping into Methos's space and curving her body close. "I could make it worth your while," she added seductively. "We could go to my place, and I'd make sure to... dry you off."
Methos appeared to consider the idea, then he chuckled. "As tempting of an offer that is, Amanda, the answer is still no."
Amanda pouted. "Methos," she wheedled. "It would mean so much to me."
He shook his head slowly. "You're on your own, Amanda."
She stared at him, seeing the resolution in his face, and sighed again. "I really, really would make it worth your while," she said beguilingly.
She watched as he absorbed the impact of her charm. She was just about to congratulate herself on her success when he spoke.
Then he turned and headed for his car. At the last moment, he stopped and turned back. "Oh, and there's one more thing. Do you know anyone named Elizabeth Kryler?"
Amanda thought for a moment. Then, suddenly, the name clicked. The image of a tall, blonde-haired woman with unsmiling eyes formed like a snapshot in Amanda's mind. Chills ran down Amanda's spine, and her face darkened with hate. "Where is she?"
"Joe said she's been looking for you." Methos spoke mildly, but Amanda could discern the curiosity and concern beneath that tone. "She stopped by Sanctuary just as I was leaving."
Amanda swore. "Where is she now?"
Methos shrugged. "I didn't ask. She seemed pretty intent on finding you, though."
Amanda's eyes flashed. "Old grudge. She thinks I'm responsible for all the bad luck in her life." Then she thought about that some more, and her expression changed from anger to slow dawning horror. "Nick. She'll go after Nick. Methos, you've got to help me."
Methos shook his head. "I told you, you're on your own with this one." He turned away and got into his car before Amanda could even protest.
Then she got to thinking about it. If Methos wouldn't help her, there had to be someone who would....
End Note: The line I used is: "no better than a thug." However, in order for the line to fit the context, I had to substitute "the" for "a". I also used the line "Love lost, love gained".
The poem is as follows:
As the sky departs,
Death engulfs thine bleeding hearts,
Love lost, love gained,
Life given, life slained,
A loving embrace,
A stab in the back,
A misleading hug,
Are you no better than a thug?
Take your soul, take your mind,
Wrap them in flowers and package and tie,
Underneath your love rotten, your heart beguiled,
Check your resourses because you're low on denial.
~By Joshua Hensley
The title is taken from the Heart song by the same title.
Disclaimer and Notes: Never listen to sad songs when it rains... never listen to Mercedes Lackey filk when you're writing HL fanfic. Strange things happen... oh, wait, that's another fic. :-) Amanda, Methos, Nick Wolfe, Joe Dawson, Kronos, Rebecca and Duncan MacLeod (the latter mentioned in passing) belong to Panzer/Davis.
Thanks to Amand-r for sending me said filk many moons ago. This builds on the relationship established in my stories, The Kiss and Love Over Gold, and is set after the HL:TR episode "Dead on Arrival." This also uses the combined timeline I developed for Until Then. Finally, this is another Lyric Wheel story; thanks to Zoe Wyers (a.k.a. Pretty Sabre) for the Joshua Hensley poem, "Denial".