Ghosts by Raine Wynd
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Author's Notes:

Disclaimer and Notes: Since this is my answer to the Halloween Lyric Wheel challenge, I'm tempted to say the Highlander characters are spirits I'm channeling, but someone will probably not appreciate that humor, so... I know they're Panzer/Davis property, but I'm still playing with them. Thanks to Athena for the lyrics to "Ghosts" by Japan, written by David Sylvian. Thanks also to Rhiannon Shaw and James McDonald for letting me bounce ideas off the both of you — even if I decided not to take all of them. Maybe next time, eh? :-) Guess I'm not done writing angst like I thought...

This assumes that HLTR happened several months after the end of HLTS.

Halloween, 2000

The fog lay in thick streams around the city, clouding it in misty darkness full of the promise of a storm. In a cemetery in the heart of downtown Seacouver, a ghost walked across her own grave and laid roses for the carefree, teenaged life she'd once had. In a bar on the edge of town, the blues played, mournful and slow, perfect for a night like this one, when the spirits of the dead were to be remembered. And above a martial arts dojo, a man who'd been born centuries before dreamed in the slumber of a man whose passions had been deliberately, and thoroughly, satisfied.

His lover, however, was restless. On this night, when the moon was obscured by clouds and shadows, Amanda could feel the weight of her years pressing on her, the feeling of being alone never more present within her than now. Nights like this, she felt like giving up, the effort of trying to find the grand adventure in life too much to bear. It wasn't something she spoke of to anyone, nor was it something she cared to think of often, either. Slipping from Duncan's embrace with the ease of long practice, she got dressed, then walked down the stairs to the unoccupied dojo.

The room was quiet with no one else around; tonight was one of the days it was closed, and silently, Amanda was glad that it was. It was colder here, since the heat had been turned off on this floor. She shivered slightly, grateful that she'd chosen to slip on one of Duncan's long-sleeved flannel shirts before coming downstairs. Sighing, she leaned against one of the windows to stare out into the darkness. Those who knew her to be a whirlwind of motion, of charm and grace, would've been surprised at her introspection, but she'd always been more than just a well-spoken thief or a trapeze artist. Even Duncan, who'd returned to Seacouver and reopened the dojo a few months before, had noticed. She'd been successful at distracting him, but she knew he would eventually wear her down and get his as-yet-unspoken questions answered. She wasn't ready for that, not yet.

She hadn't seen Nick Wolfe since he'd walked away from her that fateful spring day when she'd literally taken his life in her own hands. For a while, she'd hoped that he'd return to Paris, and had even asked his erstwhile employer, Bert Myers, where he could've gone. Bert hadn't known, and hadn't seemed overly worried, saying that Nick would turn up when he was good and ready, and not before. If it weren't for the fact that Amanda knew Bert could lie without blinking an eye or a betraying gesture, she might've been more inclined to believe him. As the months had passed, and spring had turned to summer, and then into fall, Amanda had resigned herself to not knowing where her almost-lover had gone. Joe wouldn't tell her, only would say that Nick was safe and that he wanted nothing to do with her.

She'd thought, perhaps foolishly, that Nick was falling in love with her. There'd always been the sense, especially after his reckless, nearly fatal charge after one of her old teachers, that there'd been something she should know, something he wasn't telling her. She'd been content to let it slide; they had forever, or something close to it. Now she wished for the ability to turn back time, to turn back the ghosts of her life that had come between them, to somehow erase what had happened between her and one handsome, proud, determined, newly-Immortal ex-cop.

Yet there was nothing she could do. She had no magic save for the magic of not being able to die unless someone cut off her head, no way of undoing the bittersweet past. She'd tried running — being in Seacouver with Duncan was proof of that — and she'd tried staying, but nothing could change that being with her best friend and sometime lover wasn't where she wanted to be. The ache in her heart wasn't going to disappear, and the rain pouring through her soul at the loss of the one man she hadn't expected would leave would never stop. Not until she had a chance to see Nick again, and who knew when that would be?

He was only in danger from other Immortals and whatever enemies came crawling out of his short past. The moment she crossed paths with him, his danger increased... and she couldn't justify doing that. Not when knowing he'd been hurt one more time because of something she'd done would destroy whatever hope for their relationship they had. Her fingers brushed on the crystal she'd taken to wearing again around her neck, and its cool, etched surface reminded her of the words they'd spoken that last time.

Spring, 1999

"Nick, wait, don't leave." Amanda called out, running after him as she'd belatedly realized he was ill-prepared to go walking the streets of Paris alone, newly Immortal.

He stopped a few feet away, the set of his broad shoulders clearly telling her that she'd better talk fast.

"Please," she pleaded, stepping around him to face him. "At least let me help you get settled."

He stared at her, his hazel eyes incredulous. "You want to help me get settled?" he enunciated carefully.

She nodded, wide-eyed at the anger she heard in his tone.

"With what?" He gestured wildly. "I already know the Game, Amanda. I even know about the Watchers. What's next? You call up Joe Dawson and have him introduce me to my new Watcher? Is that it?"

"No, of course not." She stepped closer, her hands outstretched in a silent plea for understanding, and felt her heart crack when he stepped warily back.

"Then what?"

Amanda sighed exasperatedly. "Nick, what you know about swordfighting could fit on the head of a pin right now."

"I'm not taking lessons from you," he stated emphatically. "I got a news flash for you, Amanda, and maybe, just maybe, this time you'll listen. Stay the hell away from me." His pointing finger underscored his words. "You have been nothing but trouble for me since the day we met, and maybe I was stupid enough to want to believe that there was something more to you than that. I don't know; it doesn't matter now. I was a good cop, Amanda. I had everything going for me. Then you came along. You turned my life upside down, don't you know?"

"I know," Amanda acknowledged quietly. "It hasn't been easy for you — for either of us."

"Easy?" He choked out a laugh. "That's your answer for living, isn't it? To take the easy way out when the truth doesn't suit you? You couldn't let me die, and I'm supposed to just accept it? You had no right to play God with my life. I thought I had it covered, I thought I was dying, damn it, I thought the poison Peyton gave me could not be stopped, and then you go and you shoot me. Next thing I know, you're telling me I'm not going to die, and you know what really hurts about all this? I almost fell in love with you. I wanted to love you. And now? Now, I can't."

His words struck her like blows, and she could only stand there taking them.

"Why not?" she managed finally, choking back tears.

He favored her with a sad smile. "Because my darling Amanda, in the end, there can be only one." He backed away from her. "Have a nice life. Someday, I might thank you for giving me this one."

She could only stare as he walked a few more steps backward, then turned, and strode out of her life as easily as he'd charged into it.

She sighed tiredly. There were never any easy answers, only quick fixes that didn't always work, and with her luck, always seemed to end in some grand disaster. She'd left the simple life behind a thousand years ago, when the biggest burden in her life had been stealing whatever she could so she could survive. She'd never dreamed life had such possibilities, and she spent a moment remembering all the joy of discovering new things, of learning new ways to make acquiring what she wanted all the easier. Some things didn't change, though, and she hugged her stomach and rubbed her shoulders as the reality of her situation impacted yet again. Not for the first time, she contemplated the irony of how being in love never got easier. Drawing a deep breath, she leaned her head against the glass and hugged her stomach tighter, wishing that her plan to fill the empty spaces in her heart with the purity of Duncan's affection for her had worked, and knowing that she had failed miserably.

She felt the hum of Presence before she heard footsteps strike the hardwood floor. Warily, belatedly aware that she'd left her sword by Duncan's bed, she turned, ready to charm whomever it was, and hoping it was just Duncan come to find her. Ruthlessly, she buried the hope that it would be Nick, knowing that such a miracle would be asking too much of the universe tonight. Still, she couldn't help feeling both let down and relieved when she saw that it was just Duncan, clad in a pair of jeans and a sweater.

"What's wrong, Amanda?" Duncan asked her. "Not that I'm complaining, but you're usually insatiable."

She smiled, her mood buoyed by his compliment. "Can't a girl just take a little walk?" she teased, trying to keep things light as she stepped forward and pressed herself against him. His hands slid around her waist and drew her closer against his solid bulk, reminding her yet again of how much smaller her build was in comparison to him.

"Oh, I don't know," Duncan replied easily. "Depends on what you're planning, and how much it will get me into trouble."

She laughed. "Not planning anything, I swear."

He glared at her disbelievingly, but his glare faded as he took in her face. Amanda watched in growing puzzlement as his disbelief turned to confusion and sympathy. His hand rose and touched her cheek to wipe away a tear she hadn't realized she'd shed.

"Amanda?" he questioned, his voice full of concern. "What happened before you came here?"

"Nothing," she denied automatically. "It's nothing, really."

"Amanda," he growled, predictably. She held his gaze a moment, then sighed as she realized he wasn't going to let it drop. With a slight, rueful shake of her head, she told her friend, "Just... remembering."

Duncan made a noise of understanding. "Who was it?" His voice was a tender caress of empathy, and she guessed he probably thought she was thinking of someone she'd lost, someone who'd died, a mortal lover. Only in her case he'd gone right on living after he'd died... and walked away from everything she'd hoped they'd share. Amanda smiled and, with a deep breath, blew away the clinging threads of dreams shattered before they'd been spoken and shared. Nick was in her yesterday, and someday, maybe in her tomorrow, but right now, Duncan was with her. He knew how to touch her everywhere, would give her passion to warm her heart and roses in candlelight and friendship she could rely on no matter what.

"No one you know," she answered Duncan's question, and offered her mouth up in a kiss. For now, she could banish the ghost of Nick's memory with something she could control, something familiar.

Even as he kissed her back, pouring his love for her into the kiss, she knew it wouldn't be enough. Nick had touched her soul, and there was no particular place she could go where she wouldn't forever be scarred for it.

*** Finis ****

©October 17, 2000

As usual, I borrowed heavily from the song.


(David Sylvian)

When the room is quiet the daylight's almost gone
it seems there's something I should know
Well I ought to leave but the rain it never stops
and there's no particular place to go

Just when I think I'm winning when I've broken every door
the ghosts of my life grow wilder than before
Just when I thought I could not be stopped
when my chance came to be king
the ghosts of my life grow wilder than the wind

I'm feeling nervous I find myself alone
The simple life's no longer there
Once I was so sure
Now the doubt inside my mind
comes and goes but leads nowhere

Just when I think I'm winning when I've broken every door
the ghosts of my life grow wilder than before
Just when I thought I could not be stopped
when my chance came to be king
the ghosts of my life grow wilder than the wind

Just when I think I'm winning when I've broken every door
the ghosts of my life grow wilder than before
Just when I thought I could not be stopped
when my chance came to be king
the ghosts of my life grow wilder than the wind