With the quietness born of a thousand years of practice, Amanda slipped into Nick's bedroom. She'd been restless, unable to sleep for the thoughts tumbling wildly through her head. After much tossing and turning, she had given up trying to get rest and had decided to face the source of her interrupted slumber.
She'd taken the head of a former teacher... something she probably should've done centuries earlier, but had chosen not to until one man had dared to risk his life to seek justice. She'd been perfectly content to pretend that Korda would not cross her path for years to come, secretly hoping that someone else would take his head before he came her way again. The pretense had certainly worked for well over a century, long enough for Amanda to push the threat into the back of her mind. Oh, sure, she had figured that Korda might come her way eventually... but as time had passed, she had actually forgotten about the threat Korda represented. Discovering Korda was in town had come as a complete shock. Then Nick had gotten tangled up in the whole mess, and made everything more complicated than it should have been. It had been a few days since she'd taken Korda's Quickening, but she hadn't quite resolved the events in her own mind, especially Nick's involvement.
Comfortable in the shadows, she leaned against the door and watched Nick sleep. Moonlight filtered through the window blinds. The dark-hued covers were tangled around the lower half of his athletic body, revealing that he didn't sleep with a shirt on. She gave brief thought to wondering if he was completely nude. A small moue of disappointment appeared on her face as she realized the covers were too entangled for her to risk waking him up. She contented herself with just admiring Nick as he lay oblivious to the world. A muscled arm lay extended over the empty space of the queen-sized bed, as if expecting to hold someone there. She closed her eyes briefly as she thought of just how close she'd come to losing him, and not even knowing until after the fact.
It was one thing for someone like Duncan MacLeod to try and keep the world safe. He was Immortal, like her. Moreover, Duncan was good enough that keeping his head intact, along with the rest of his body, wasn't as much of a concern to Amanda as it might've been for someone else. Nick, on the other hand, was mortal, with all the associated risks. Yet he'd been willing to toss his life away if it meant he died trying to ensure her "death" had not gone unpunished. She'd thought she'd been sparing him by concealing the truth that she'd won the fight against Krista, thought that she could prevent him from getting hurt. She'd never dreamed that Nick would do what he did.
How many times will it take for you to learn you can't control other people's lives for them? A half-smile formed on her lips as she contemplated that self-chiding thought. Probably as many times as I've screwed something up out of a desire to do something good for once.
Still, Nick, did you have to go rushing off after Korda? You nearly got killed, and for what? I'm nobody, more famous for the things I've stolen than the things I've contributed to society. As much as I love life, I've done nothing important to warrant sacrifice. You had no business getting so deeply involved with me, but it's too late now, isn't it? We're both so drawn to each other, there's only one way this attraction can go.... Do you know how much that scares me? I've always avoided getting too involved with someone, especially a mortal, but something about you keeps pulling me back when I'd run away.
Such a strong, independent, stubborn, honorable, handsome man... why couldn't you be the Immortal one? It would be so much easier on both of us and I wouldn't have to worry so much about you dying. I suppose I ought to do something about you waving that gun of yours around so damn much, but I already don't want to see you hurt worse than you have been. Why couldn't you listen to me when I told you to stay out of it? What will it take before you believe me?
In her heart, Amanda recognized she was deeply attracted to him — her mind skittered away from the "L" word — and knew that it would only end in heartbreak for one of them. Either the Game would catch up to her or Nick would die. He'd already proven what he'd do if she'd lost the Game, and the sweet futility of his vengeance made her heart ache. It didn't matter that she was likely to do the same thing if he'd lost his life to anything other than natural causes.
Why do I always fall for the Boy Scouts, she asked herself, when I could have someone less inclined to always do the right thing?
She snorted, and answered her own question. Because they're the ones I can count on to be there when I need a real friend, not someone I can just have fun with on occasion. All those years of hanging around Duncan, I probably should've been cured of that particular habit by now, but I guess I haven't been. Maybe I'm just cursed.
She sighed and hugged herself. She knew herself well enough to know that she was prone to making the same foolish decisions, the same stupid mistakes, over and over again when she was more than old enough to know better. It was so easy to get caught up in living for the sheer joy of the moment, to forget yesterday and to not worry about tomorrow. She'd done precisely that for so long, it was now second nature. Living frivolously had seemed like such a good way to pass the time, infinitely more joyous and interesting than hiding away, growing more cynical and withdrawn as the years turned into centuries. Changing her ways made her feel unbalanced, unsure in a way she hadn't been since she first learned she was Immortal and would now have to be more than just a good thief.
She thought she'd had a plan, a good one, but the last few years had proven to her that her intentions had been better than the reality. The disparity left her wondering just how she'd managed to annoy Fate so much. In typical fashion, she conveniently forgot the numerous times she'd tempted the deities into doing far worse than sending an justice-believing, honor-bound cop her way.
She hated the fact that she had screwed his life so. It wasn't right that he'd given up his life as a cop, turned his back on everything he'd known, and now saw Immortals everywhere. All because of her.
If she hadn't been so convinced she could get the Marshall estate jewels back from the rogue cop that had stolen them... if he had listened to her when she had told him to stay out of Immortal business... if they hadn't recognized the growing attraction between them right before she'd gone to fight Krista, one of Korda's underlings... maybe things would be different. Maybe Nick would have never gotten shot. If Bert Meyers hadn't been there, Nick would now be dead.
I'd give anything to have known you were going to do that, to have stopped you. I should've listened to Joe when he disagreed with me about lying to you. All I could think of, though, was that Korda was my problem, not yours.
Nick had been so willing to sacrifice himself for her. Something within Amanda had splintered when she had realized just what a waste that would be. He was too decent, too handsome, too talented, too intelligent, and damn it, too honorable to die a useless death. She had thought that she had impressed upon him the difference between Immortals and mortals, but apparently, he had chosen to ignore that.
She closed her eyes briefly and thought of something Duncan had said to her once, about how he would not let a friend die for him. At the time, it had angered her, but now, more than ever, she understood how Duncan had must have felt.
She sighed. Guess that's Fate's way of reminding me I can be just as noble as Nick, when I want to be.
For better or worse, Nick Wolfe was firmly planted in her world, and he wasn't about to budge. After this many months and their recent encounter with Korda, Amanda wasn't sure that she really wanted to let him go on anything other than mutual terms. He would get in her way, and never mind that they were now calling the same building home. She would probably have to risk death to protect him from other Immortals... but he would risk death to do the same for her.
With a smile that might have been regret or pleasure, she padded over to his unconscious form, and pressed a kiss to his cheek.
Her breath caught as Nick shifted into a different stage of sleep, and rolled over. For a moment, Amanda thought she'd woken him. She quickly stepped away from the bed and headed for the door. At the last moment, she turned back for a second look.
The low rumble of Nick's snoring reached her ears and she chuckled softly.
"Sleep well, darling," she whispered.
The smile was still on her lips when she closed the door behind herself.
moonlight shines on your sleeping form
a silvery testament to your pure light
in a world full of uncertain shadows.
i never wanted to be someone's angel,
an immortal guardian with sword held high,
but i'd give anything, be anything, do anything,
just to keep you safely by my side