Not bad strange. No one is really bad strange. Certainly she's not strange. And if she's not strange then Amanda's not strange. It's really just that she's...
Yes, Amanda is unique, mostly in that Farah can't seem to wrap her head around exactly where she fits into all of this. Is she a Lydia in need of protecting? Is she a Dirk in need of... well, supervision. Or is she a Todd in need of... Actually, she's not really sure what Todd needs, but whatever it is she's fairly certain Dirk has it covered.
It is possible that Amanda's friends have her covered, but then that begs the question: Are they her friends? And if not, what are they? For that matter, who are they? Farah doesn't really understand Amanda's connection to the Rowdy 3. It's a whole other bag of weirdness she doesn't really want to address.
Truth be told, she's not even really sure why she's worrying about this. Amanda is... well, she's Amanda, who is Farah's friend and the only reason it's confusing is because Farah hasn't really had one of those before. Her life, up until now, has consisted of employers and charges, whom she supposes were her friends except that the more time she spends with Amanda--and Dirk, and Todd--the more she realizes the two things are entirely different. Certainly she never told Patrick Spring about her failed applications to Quantico.
And actually, why did she tell Amanda, anyway?
It doesn't matter, she decides. She just needs to get it together. After all, it's just a text. It's not like Farah has any reason to be nervous. Amanda is hardly the first pretty girl she's met. Girl. Amanda is not the first girl she's met. She's just a girl who happens to be someone Farah knows and likes. People like each other all the time. Friends like each other. Friends text each other all the time. It's all very normal.
Texting Amanda back would also be normal. She should do that. Sooner rather than later.
God, who is she kidding?
And okay, maybe she has a bit of a crush. It's not like it's her first. She's had crushes before. There was Sally in middle school. And Rebecca in sophomore year. And the woman Patrick hired to paint Lydia's sweet sixteen portrait. She's had plenty of crushes, enough to identify this for what it is, which means she can now process it, compartmentalize it, and then put it aside and never think about it again.
Besides, even if Amanda was interested, it's not like Farah has time for romance. Not that that matters, because Amanda's not interested. Of course she's not. Even if she does always take the time to compliment Farah on her wardrobe choices. Or her proficiency with gun. Or her interrogation skills.
But that's just Amanda. Amanda is nice. She likes complimenting people. She's probably complimenting someone right now. Someone who isn't Farah, which is also fine because as she's established, Amanda is nice.
Still staring at her phone, Farah is somewhat startled when it rings.
And of course it's Amanda. Which probably means she's in trouble. Which means Farah can't not answer it. Which means...
"Hey. Hi, Amanda. Hi," she says. Stupid. Stupid.
"Hey, are you busy?" Amanda asks. She doesn't sound like she's in trouble. If anything, she sounds excited. Excited in the way only Amanda ever really gets. Farah tries very hard not to picture her bouncing in her chair.
"I... am not," Farah says. Because she's not. Because Dirk and Todd are off on some quest to find some thing that may or may not be related to a case and as such Farah has the day off. Unless they call her. Which she hopes they won't.
"Awesome," Amanda says. "You wanna meet up? I'm drowning in testosterone over here."
There's a response to that. Something that will sound cool and make sense and also make Amanda want to hang out with her more. Farah doesn't know what that response is, but she's certain it exists. What comes out is:
"Yeah. Okay. Okay."
"Cool," Amanda says, followed by, "I'll be over in ten."
It's not... a date. Of course it's not a date. Why would it possibly be a date? They're just two friends. Hanging out. Spending some time together. Doing girl things. Girl things because Amanda spends half of her time living in a van with four grown men and Farah has no doubt things can get a little... How would Amanda put it? Testosterone-y? Certainly there is, from what she's seen, a lot of shouting and breaking of things.
"Watcha wanna do?" Amanda asks when she arrives, as though this is something Farah might have an answer for. And she probably should have considered this. At the very least she should have come up with a list of options. Instead she spent five of the ten minutes pacing the length of her apartment and then the remaining five minutes trying to decide on a jacket.
"Um... Well, I was planning, before you called, and it's not set in stone or anything, but I was planning on going to the range, getting in some practice. We could..."
"Whoa? Seriously? Can we do that? Can I do that?"
She's bouncing again. It is, as Farah expected, adorable.
"I um... I don't see why not?"
She can't think of a reason, anyway. Every woman should, after all, achieve proficiency with a variety of weapons. If anything, it concerns her a little that Amanda might not know how to operate a gun. Certainly given her chosen companions, not to mention her brother and Dirk, firearms expertise should list amongst her skillset.
"Oh man, oh man," Amanda says. "Todd is going to freak. No, wait, we can't tell Todd. Can we not tell Todd?"
"I... I certainly don't think it's my place to inform your brother of anything you do or don't do on your own time," Farah says, which is not a yes, but Amanda, if her smile is any indication, certainly interprets it as such.
"Or we could do something else if you..."
"The range," Amanda says. "Definitely the range."
And okay. The range it is. Good. It's all very good. Certainly it's nothing to be nervous about. People take their friends shooting all the time. It's... normal.
Normal enough that Farah offers Amanda an equally normal smile.
"Whoa," Amanda says when they arrive.
"Is everything okay?" Farah asks. It's hard to tell with Amanda sometimes. She seems a bit... excitable. Not that Farah minds. Or doesn't mind. Or thinks about it at all because it's not like she's obsessed or something.
"Sorry. When you said range, I assumed we were going to go to one of those shooting galleries. But this... Wow."
Farah does not wrinkle her nose, but it's a near thing. There are twenty-three civilian shooting ranges in Seattle. Farah does not consider any of them adequate for her needs. There are, of course, legal issues involved with owning your own range, but she's covered most of those, and the ones she hasn't are so obscure she doubts anyone living even knows about them. Besides, her facilities are top of the line. She has taken everything from noise to safety to ventilation into consideration. Also, her design is superior in a number of ways, not the least of which include...
Farah stops speaking. She hadn't realized she was saying all of that out loud.
"Anyway. It's safe. And secure. And it'll be fine. We'll start you with some basic safety lessons and then move on to stationary targets. You'll do fine."
"You," Amanda says. "Are so freaking cool."
Farah does not blush. It is a very near thing.
They go over the basics. And then safety protocols. And then, for good measure, Farah teaches Amanda how to field strip a 9mm. These are useful life skills. Also, Amanda keeps smiling at her so Farah can't really seem to stop talking.
"Okay, come on, you gotta let me shoot this thing," Amanda says after she's reassembled the weapon, which, okay, yes, Farah can most definitely do that.
Amanda is an excellent student. She pays strict attention and follows Farah's instructions to the letter. There is absolutely no reason to be nervous. They've already gone over contingencies for what to do if Amanda has an attack. They have safety signals in place. They are both equipped with the necessary safety equipment. Nothing has been left to chance, so really it's just a matter helping Amanda find the right stance.
"Normally," Farah says, shouting a little so that Amanda can hear her through her protective earmuffs, "I would use the isosceles stance, because out in the field it makes for a more accurate shot. However, given that this is your first time, I'm going to suggest we try the weaver stance as it will help with recoil."
She has touched Amanda dozens of times. Or rather Amanda has touched her. Amanda is naturally tactile. She likes to hug and shake hands and gently caress the sleeves of Farah's jackets. This is no different. If anything, it's more professional, because adopting a stance is a lot easier if someone helps position you correctly.
So she leads Amanda to the firing line and then starts to work on getting her into position. If doing so leaves her a little flushed and breathless, it's just that the range can get unnecessarily hot, the ventilation system obviously in need of modification.
"You want," Farah says, taking an unnecessarily large step back, "to brace and then slowly squeeze the trigger."
Amanda nods. And then does so.
The first shot startles them both, Farah because she wasn't expecting Amanda to warm up to this so fast, and Amanda, Farah guesses, because the experience is new.
"Whoa," Amanda says when the smoke clears. She's staring at the gun in her hand like it somehow holds the secrets to the universe. Farah knows exactly how she feels.
Together they bring forward the target.
It's not a direct hit, but Amanda's shot has clipped a shoulder, enough Farah thinks, that it would disarm a person, if that person was stationary and Amanda had been aiming. Still, she can't help the slight flutter of pride that spreads through her, Amanda doing surprisingly well for her first time in a range.
"Guess I was a bit off," Amanda says.
"No... No, you did good. It's just... Here," Farah says, stepping again into Amanda's space. She smells surprisingly floral for someone who spends half her life living in a van. It combines nicely with the acrid scent of gunpowder. Farah really, really didn't just think that.
Amanda, for her part, lets herself be manipulated, Farah lifting her elbow so that her trigger arm is mostly straight. She then lets her hand slide the length of Amanda's forearm, twisting her wrist ever so slightly to reposition her hands. The position is better. For the shot. Better for the shot.
"Shit," Amanda says. She glances over her shoulder, stance collapsing as she grins. "This is so cool. And kinky. You failed to mention it would be kinky."
"What?" Farah says, immediately removing her hands and falling back a step. "That wasn't... I wasn't... I didn't bring you here to..."
It's somewhat... painful, watching Amanda's smile vanished, though no more painful than it is watching her brow wrinkle with confusion. Farah's tongue freezes in her mouth. She takes another step back, well aware of the deep flush spreading across her cheeks. In hindsight, she should have never brought Amanda here. She should have seen this coming and kept it professional because professional relationships don't end in rejection and...
Amanda is staring at her again, like she's just said all of that out loud, like she's still talking because that is a thing her stupid, stupid mouth likes to do.
"Whoa, wait, do you... Shit, do you like me?" Amanda asks. Farah freezes.
She should, she realizes, deny the accusation. The situation is not as of yet unsalvageable. But it's a little hard to talk given the tightness in her chest. Also, she's fairly certain her expression will betray anything she might force past her tongue. Amanda's eyes grow terrifyingly wide. Farah scrambles to explain.
"I... I don't... not like you," she says, which is not at all what she means to say. Amanda's features inexplicably light up.
"Holy shit," she says, sounding far happier than Farah would have imagined.
"This is so cool. The hot chick likes me. The hot chick never likes me. I'm.. Oh shit. Todd is gonna be so mad."
Amanda is still holding the gun, waving it somewhat erratically, so Farah takes it from her and places it on the rack, brain still struggling to process their conversation.
"Wait, why would your brother be mad?" she hears herself ask. It's not really the part she wants to focus on, but she's having a bit of trouble with the rest. Amanda goes impossibly still.
"Um, no reason," she says, sounding decidedly sheepish.
"You mean because of his crush on me?" Farah asks, interrogation far easier than flirting. Amanda's eyes grow wide.
"You know about that?"
"I... No. I think you might have misinterpreted," Farah tells her. Certainly she misinterpreted, her attempts to make it clear to Todd that she wasn't interested an embarrassing speech that ended with them both coming out to each other.
"Really?" Amanda says. She sounds skeptical. Farah opens her mouth to explain.
And then promptly shuts it, because it's really not her place to out Todd to his sister. What she says instead is:
"You should probably talk to Todd about this." She gestures to the gallery. "And we should probably..."
"Oh, hell no," Amanda says. She's back to looking excited. "We are having this conversation. Oh my god, you should ask me out!!!"
And right on cure, there's the bouncing. It's still adorable.
Amanda, Farah decides, could probably give Dirk a run for his money for excitability. Farah braces herself.
"I asked you out, which means this is a date. Is this a date? Are we on a date?"
Farah doesn't really have an answer for that. Amanda interprets her silence as confirmation.
"Oh, man! That is so awesome. This is totally a date. We're on a date. I can't believe you took me to your private shooting range on our first date. That is so punk. Shit. I am totally putting out when we get back to your place."
There is probably a point in all of this where Farah ought to explain herself.
"I... I didn't know this was a date when I... Wait, what?" The rest of Amanda's statement filters through.
Amanda, in lieu of answering, offers what Farah thinks might be a suggestive leer. It's hard to tell. No one has ever really leered at her before. Certainly no one has ever suggested anything to her before. At least no one whose suggestion she wanted to entertain, anyway. It's all a little much, and a lot confusing, and apparently she's saying all of this out loud again...
Farah immediately falls silent. Amanda looks faintly amused.
"You are seriously so weird," she says.
"I... I'm not weird. You..."
"Relax," Amanda says. "I'm not complaining. I've never flustered someone this bad before. It's seriously cool. Also, I'm totally into you so..."
Farah has no idea what to say to that. It is simultaneously the nicest thing anyone has ever said to her and also the most nerve-wracking experience of her life. She rather needs a moment to catch her breath.
"I... I am... into you as well," she hears herself say, which for some reason earns her one of Amanda's brighter smiles.
This isn't a position she finds herself in all that often. Certainly it's not a situation for which there are protocols. Determining her next course of action is somewhat challenging. She glances once to the range, and then back to Amanda. Amanda's expression grows faintly amused.
"Do you..." Farah has no idea what she's asking. Amanda grins.
"Yeah, I do," she says, "on one condition."
There are a dozen or so questions she could ask right now, not the least of which would be a request for the question Amanda seems to think she's answering. Instead Farah does her best to appear merely curious instead of utterly confused. Amanda gives her a pointed look.
"Before you finish teaching me to shoot, we absolutely need to kiss."
Farah is only vaguely aware of her reaction. Certainly her eyes must grow wide. She suspects her mouth probably falls open. Possibly there is some flailing in there. Whatever it is, Amanda immediately holds up her hands, apologetic expression settling over her features.
"Or not. Obviously, that can wait if you're not..."
"No," Farah says, before she can stop herself. "I mean yes. I mean obviously. Obviously we should kiss. Kissing is... nice. It's very nice and I..."
Somewhere in all of that stammering Amanda has gotten closer. Close enough, anyway, that her features have started to blur. Amanda is certainly not her first kiss--not her first anything, really--but experience has done nothing to calm the anxious fluttering of her heart. The only reason, she suspects, that she hasn't said all of this out loud is because Amanda is already in the process of pressing their lips together, Farah no longer capable of words.
It lasts only a second, maybe three, and then Amanda is pulling away, wide smile spreading across her face. Farah finds herself wanting to match it. Instead she surprises herself by dragging Amanda back by the lapels of her leather jacket, their second kiss lasting a full eight seconds--and yes she counted--Farah starting to think she might be able to do this after all.
Certainly if the look Amanda gives her is any indication, Amanda seems to agree.
But first, there's a target Amanda needs to hit, and Farah is nothing if not a professional.