"Earth to Amanda, are you there?"
Nick's voice broke the fog of memory and, with conscious effort, Amanda brought herself back to the present. "I'm sorry, darling, did you say something?"
"I asked you if you knew this guy." He pointed to the image on the computer screen.
She took a look at the picture and wrinkled her nose in distaste. "Too ugly for my taste."
"So?" Nick retorted. "I’m not asking you if you slept with the guy. Do you know him or not?"
"Actually," Amanda's lips curved into a smile, "I don't."
"That's what you always say," Nick growled, "and it's not very long before I find out differently." His deep blue eyes glared at her. "So quit trying to tell me that particular lie."
"Maybe you ought to take it to mean 'butt out, this one's Immortal'," she countered.
"So?" He leaned against the bar and crossed his arms expectantly. "Is he?"
She chuckled. "Not that I know of." She picked up her wine glass and started to take a sip before the warning of Presence sounded in her brain. Abruptly, she froze, all thought of teasing Nick wiped from her face.
Nick noticed her frozen movement. He'd come to recognize that look, the one that meant another Immortal was near. "Where?" he demanded, his hand slipping from the bar to rest against the grip of his handgun. Intellectually, he knew it would only slow an Immortal down, not stop one, but he preferred that to doing nothing.
"Front door, darling," Amanda said lightly. She set the glass of wine down on the bar. Though the bar was Holy Ground, she had learned never to take such things for granted. "Shall we see who it is?"
"Do you always run headlong into danger or does it just know where you live?" His tone revealed his frustration with her as she headed to answer the door.
Hand on the doorknob, she flashed him an easy, carefree grin. "Darling, I thought you knew," she drawled. "I live for excitement."
Nick snorted. "No, you just live forever," he muttered under his breath, and tightened his grip on his gun. If he lived to be a hundred, he knew he'd never understand why she took so many chances with her life and yet demanded that he not do the same. Not for the first time, he wondered why she was trying to protect him.
Amanda drew open the door with an apparent disregard for her personal safety. "Me-Adam! What the hell are you doing here?"
Amanda's body blocked Nick's view of the visitor, but he heard a faintly English accented voice reply. "I came to bum a beer."
Without waiting for Amanda's response, Adam strolled past her and surveyed the bar. With a professional's eye, Nick sized up the newcomer. Tall, wiry, a lightweight, but with an innate fluidity of movement that suggested economy of motion despite the casual way he moved. Black hair and sharp eyes that missed nothing. He looked like a grad student, especially with the backpack slung over one shoulder, but the eyes were old, far too old for the twenty-something man he appeared to be.
Not even realizing he'd done so, Nick moved to intercept the newcomer, who noted the gesture. A flicker of a smile appeared on his angular features.
As if sensing the tension in the room, Amanda shut the door and stepped in to make the introductions.
"Adam, meet Nick Wolfe. Nick, this is Adam Pierson." Amanda waved off the introductions.
The two men shook hands. Nick took an instant dislike to Adam, not trusting anyone who was Immortal. Nick noted Adam's attire -- a worn Oxford sweatshirt, faded jeans, and well-worn sneakers -- and wondered just how much of the attire was camouflage and how much of it was worn because it was comfortable to the wearer. Adam certainly radiated a knowledge that was at odds with the young college student persona his clothes indicated him to be. Or was that simply because Nick knew Adam's true age had to be somewhere older than his early twenties? Briefly, Nick debated where the other Immortal was hiding his sword, giving up the debate when his scrutiny was met with an amused look.
"So how'd you meet Amanda?" Adam asked casually, as he found, and proceeded to sprawl upon the nearest bar stool.
"I was a cop," Nick stated flatly.
Adam looked mildly interested at that revelation as Amanda handed him a draft beer. He took possession of the mug, smirking. "Get caught, Amanda?"
Amanda glanced at Nick, her expression telling him to forgive Adam's cynicism. Her voice was light when she answered her friend. "I never get caught, Adam."
"No, you just leave everyone else to take the blame for it," he retorted drolly, sipping his beer.
Nick hadn't seen this aspect of Amanda's character before, though he was familiar with her "I was elsewhere" excuse. "You sound like you know her well."
"We're old friends, aren't we, Amanda?"
She shot Adam a glare. "He knows about us, so you can drop the act. What the hell are you doing here, anyway?"
"Can't a guy bum a beer from a friend without getting the Inquisition?"
Amanda rested her hands on her hips and gave him her best charming smile. "Oh, Adam," she cooed in a seductive voice, "you forget, I know you."
Nick breathed in deeply, affected by Amanda's charm, and glanced over to see how the other guy was doing.
Adam still slouched, calmly sipping his beer. He appeared to be singularly unaffected by Amanda's charm. "Nice try, Amanda," he noted, "but I really just came by to say hello and get a change of scenery for a while."
"Well, then, I was just leaving," she informed him airily. "I'm leaving town for a while. You're more than welcome to keep Nick company here, but do be a dear and lock up when you leave. Wouldn't want anyone to steal anything." She disappeared into her bedroom.
Nick chuckled at the thought of a thief worrying about getting her possessions stolen. "I can't believe you'd worry about something like that, Amanda," he called to her. "You'd just steal whatever it was back."
She emerged a moment later, suitcase in hand. "Yes, I would," she answered, a thoughtful look on her face. "But that requires work, and I hate work. Ta ta, darling."
Before Nick could register a protest, Amanda was gone. Left to his own devices, he turned to Adam. "Please tell me she hasn't always been like this."
Adam pursed his lips and shook his head...in the affirmative.
Nick groaned. "And how long have you known her?"
"Long enough to know to hang on to my credit cards," Adam said casually.
"Great. Just great. Care to be more specific?"
Something told Nick it was going to be a very long night.
"Though," Adam remarked half way through his beer, "I haven't seen her in almost a year."
Nick rolled his eyes, not quite believing Adam, and continued searching for more information about the man pictured on his screen. He'd promised Bert he'd give him something on this guy by 4:00, and, glancing at the time in the corner of the computer screen, saw he had about half an hour before the deadline. If only the immortal sitting his bar would tell him the truth...Then again, he <i>was</i> friends with Amanda, which meant the truth was probably going to be subjective anyway. "A year, huh?" Nick asked, belatedly responding to Adam. "That's a drop in the bucket for you guys, isn't it?"
"So I hear," Adam returned. "I'm still new at this."
Silently, Nick counted to ten and tried for patience. It wasn't working well, especially not when his cop's instincts were screaming that Adam wasn't a stranger to the Game. It wasn't anything he could put a finger on, but Nick had come to know Amanda fairly well, and from what he'd seen, she tended to act different around those immortals she'd known for quite a while. He decided the best thing he could do was just continue to do his research, and let Adam drink his beer. Still, asking for help with his research couldn't hurt. Nick silently debated this possibility for a few minutes before deciding that nothing ventured was nothing gained.
"I don't suppose you know who this guy is," he asked, pointing to the screen.
The other man took a look and shrugged. "Aside from looking like a refugee from a horror movie? No."
Nick sighed. "One of these days I'm going to learn to stop asking questions I know I won't get the answers for."
Adam laughed and toasted him. "Good luck." He finished his beer, and then set his bottle down on the bar. Shrugging on his coat, he turned to leave. Casually, he bid Nick goodbye. "If you see Amanda, tell I said thanks for the beer."
Distracted and frustrated, Nick dismissed him. "Whatever," he muttered, half under his breath. One of these days, he was going to understand immortals. Until then, he was just going to continue working on the investigation he’d been assigned, run the bar, and hope that he wasn’t going to get killed doing either.
Spinning Nick's Wheels by Raine Wynd
Disclaimer and Notes: The letters A and N bring this little ditty in search of a plot to you. Actually, this was written to satisfy a long-since forgotten challenge to write a scene where Methos and Nick meet. As always, Amanda, Nick Wolfe, and Methos belong to TPTB, but they're hanging 'round Stonyland for a while. Thanks to Amand-r for the alpha-read back in '99.