Disclaimer and Notes: Panzer/Davis owns the Highlander characters and concepts. Based on a concept from Misha. :-) Posted to the last Highlander Lyric Wheel Forum, when Amand-r quit being the Wheel Mistress.
Ghost of a Chance
By Raine Wynd
The phone's shrill ring broke into Richie's tired perusal of the contents of the refrigerator. Hope soared within him as he dashed for the phone on the wall.
“Whatever happened to ‘Hello'?” a woman drawled. “My, my, Richard, forgetting those lovely manners Duncan taught you already?”
“Amanda?” Richie furiously tried to get his brain to kick into gear. Amanda was trouble, that much, he remembered, but he couldn't seem to remember why. “Look, I'm sorry, it's been a rough two days. Mac's not here.”
“Oh? He's not trying to save the world and everyone in it, is he?”
“No, it's Tessa. She-” Richie's voice hitched unexpectedly as the memories hit him. The mugger's shot, Tessa falling, falling to the ground, clasping her abdomen, and then his screaming as he ran to the mugger, only to feel pain in his chest.
“She what, Richie?” Amanda's voice held a wealth of compassion. The offered comfort was as unexpected as live geese in the living room.
In front of Mac, Richie had been stoic, trying to emulate his strength, trying to give him the support he needed. Now the need to tell someone else became too much to hold. “She got shot. She's in the hospital – they didn't think she'd live. Mac's there now; he's barely left her side. He sent me home to get some sleep.”
“I see. You didn't get hurt, did you?”
The odd note in her voice should have warned him, but he hadn't slept at all since the shooting, and he didn't know her well. “If you wake up healed, does it count?” he tried to joke.
“Oh, Richie.” Amanda sighed. “Of course it counts. This mugger, did he get away?”
“If I find him, he won't.”
“I see. Richie, why don't you get some sleep? Does Connor know what happened?”
“Connor?” It took Richie a minute to connect the dots. “No, Sir Lancelot doesn't know. Mac talked to him about the engagement, but that was before all this stuff happened. I'm glad he's not here. He's too creepy.”
“Oh, he's just spent too much time alone,” Amanda said dismissively. “You're still living in the store, right?”
“We were supposed to open it today. We were celebrating the engagement when Tessa got kidnapped.”
“Yeah, Tessa and Mac were going to get married. I don't know what's gonna happen now. If she makes it through the next twenty-four hours, they'll know better what kind of shape she'll be in. She – she almost died, I think. Mac wouldn't tell me everything.”
“Big surprise there,” Amanda muttered under her breath.
“What was that, Amanda?”
“Never mind,” she said brightly. “I'm keeping you up, aren't I? Give Duncan my best when you see him, will you? And to Tessa, too.”
“I will. You don't need anything, do you?”
Amanda chuckled. “Now you sound like Duncan, all suspicious of little me. I just called to say hello.”
“Okay. Good. Uh.” Richie's mind went blank as he realized he'd left the refrigerator door open. Crossing the room, he closed the door, then remembered he still had the phone in his hand. “Good night, Amanda.”
“Good night, Richie.”
Amanda disconnected the call and swore. Standing in her hotel room in San Francisco, she realized that her avenue of escape had just narrowed. Though, if Duncan's tending to Tessa, this could still work out. And with Richie newly immortal… I definitely can go with this, she thought.
As it was, she couldn't stay where she was. The plates had waited years to be used, but their value to her right now was too great.
She took a last look around the suite, making sure she'd packed everything she'd brought with her. Then she hefted her bags and headed for the airport. If she calculated everything right, she would be in Seacouver in plenty of time to enjoy herself and do her business. If she were especially fortunate – well, then she would have plenty of time.
“What are we gonna tell Mac?” Richie wondered desperately a few days later as he stood on the river bank, dripping wet.
“Nothing,” Amanda replied calmly as she took one of the towels they'd stashed in a duffel bag earlier beside the tripod camera they'd set up to record the trap they'd set for the crooked FBI agent. Handing the second towel to Richie, she began briskly toweling herself off.
“No, he won't,” Amanda said firmly, catching Richie's arm and holding it tightly. “He is not to know anything about this. This is between you and me, and he's got his hands full trying to deal with Tessa.” She stared at him.
Richie wasn't swayed. “Give me one good reason why I shouldn't tell him.”
“I'll teach you how to survive as one of us.”
“Why? So I can watch everyone around me die? Have to try and kill people for some stupid Game?”
“You were pretty glad to know you healed, weren't you?”
That stopped Richie. For a long, wordless moment, he stared at Amanda as water continued to drip down his back. He was conscious suddenly of how the water felt, how the chill of the air was causing goose pimples on his skin, and how incongruously gorgeous Amanda was despite – or maybe because – all her clothes were sticking to her. Slowly, he finished drying off and dropped the towel back into Amanda's duffel bag.
“You'll teach me everything Mac won't?” Richie demanded, stepping even closer into Amanda's space. “I'm telling you, there's a lot he isn't saying.”
She smiled. “Do you want to live or do you want to be just like him? You know he hid out on Holy Ground for decades? Didn't want to play the Game.” She sighed. “He used to be so much more fun, too.” She angled her head, considering Richie as he continued to study her warily. “I know everything's not easy for you right now,” she said gently. “But if someone were to come along wanting Mac's head, what would you do? You're not going to run, are you? You'd never run from a fight.”
The complete understanding in her eyes made Richie want to look away, but he couldn't break the gaze. “No,” he admitted reluctantly. “Not if I can repay Mac for what he's done for me.”
“Then help me take his mind off taking care of you. He's the great clan chief, always wants to keep his people safe.”
“You can say that again. He's probably not even thinking about me right now.” Richie took a deep breath. “Tessa's his world.”
“Then come with me. We'll get this FBI rat bastard, and then we'll get you going where you should be. If nothing else, I can protect you while you decide if you want to accept me as a teacher or if you want to see if Mac will have time for you, assuming that Tessa recovers.”
“What are you going to tell Mac?”
“Don't worry,” Amanda promised him as he picked up the duffel bag and the videotape recorder. “I have it covered.”
Somehow, Richie had a feeling of impending doom as street-honed instincts kicked in. Still, he couldn't see any better choice looming on the horizon. Mac would be occupied with Tessa for some time to come. Richie had checked that morning, and the doctors weren't overly hopeful that Tessa would recover from her coma, though she had a chance. Assuming Tessa woke up, she'd still have weeks of recovery to go through. The last thing Mac needed was a new immortal to train on top of that.
Richie didn't know much about Amanda, but he knew enough to recognize a player, a fellow survivor. He'd gambled on less before.
“Okay,” he said, nodding. "Lead on."