Rain is glorious.
It is water descended from the heavens as a mercy on all of Earth's creatures. Purified by nature's own filtering system. It is a great source of comfort to some, and a boon for all.
And people who love London, have to love rain - or, at least, see it as bearable.
Amanda watched the rain fall on Kansas, standing against the open door-frame of the caravan and letting rain-water splatter on her face and clothes. It made her feel calm, at peace. She watched the heavenly droplets pitter into muddy puddles, making rivulets that got in each other's way. And the sound of it... as rhythmic as it was... Amanda could live the rest of her life deaf to the world if only she heard that sound in continuum.
Ah, but some fancies can only remain fancies.
Something nudged her arm, and Amanda looked to her side - tearing her gaze away from the rain - and was welcomed with the sight of a steaming mug of tea in Shaun's grasp.
“I assumed you take two sugars,” he commented.
Amanda blinked at him, not understanding, but took the mug and said, “Thank you. And I do,” she sipped the tea, the liquid burning on her tongue, and she brightened - both inside and out.
It tasted like home.
Shaun leaned against the wall of the caravan, sipping tea himself from his favoured Union Jack mug, and said, “Rebecca has brought it to my attention that... some things that we might have said or done, or the impressions we gave off...” he sucked in his cheeks, “specifically myself - has caused you to... suppress your emotions. I, um...” he scratched his head, “I didn't mean to-”
“Shaun!” Rebecca growled from her computer desk, “It's two fucking words, she doesn't need a goddamn lecture!”
Shaun sighed and put a hand through his ginger hair, “I'm sorry,” he said, “I never meant to make you feel that way. It's just been... difficult. Rebecca and myself are still recovering from two deaths. Not that that justifies my taking it out on you, I'm just saying.”
Amanda didn't say anything for a moment. She drank her tea and looked out at the wet world with a deep longing.
“I miss home, Shaun,” she murmured.
Shaun raised a brow, “What?”
“Home. London. I haven't been back in years,” Amanda said, her voice resounding with sadness and regret, “I spent a couple of years in Poland, then a few in Italy and now the States. And I haven't been back once. I kept telling myself that I'd go, but I never got around to it,” Amanda sighed and closed her eyes, “I miss the obnoxious people, the neighbours I never knew. I miss a place where my accent didn't stand out, and,” she scoffed, “I even miss the pervert behind the counter of every corner shop. But most of all, I miss the crazy, insane weather. Did you know it snowed up in March this year?” she laughed sadly, “I wish I had been there to see it. Shaun...” she looked at him, “Will I ever get to go back there? To London?”
“In all honesty, I don't know, Amanda,” Shaun said, looking at the ceiling, “I haven't been back in... quite a while. It all depends, I guess.”
Amanda sighed and finished her tea. She looked in the empty mug, and then at Shaun.
“At least you keep home close to you,” she smiled, nodding at his mug.
“I suppose...” Shaun observed her, as if she was a sum he couldn't calculate.
“What?” she asked after a weird moment.
He phrased his question very carefully, “Are you deliberately avoiding the subject of your boyfriend for my sake?”
Amanda shrugged, “Not all of us have the mind to be arse-fuckers, Hastings.”
Shaun was about to object, when he considered the rebuke and decided, “I... I suppose that's an apt accusation.”
“You hated his guts. I get it,” Amanda said, “I think I might have been the only person who didn't... In a way, that's not such a bad thing. It's just...”
“Me?” Shaun suggested.
“No,” Amanda scoffed, “Well, yes, but no. It's... hard.”
“Can I ask you something?” Shaun straightened a little, “What did you see in him? You said so yourself that nobody else liked him.”
Amanda thought for a while, before she said, “It was nice - to have someone who cares about literally nothing else but me,” she murmured, “Sure he had work, but that was different. It was an obligation. He had to go. He didn't have to stick with me, but he did,” she touched her side, remembering the time she had gotten injured while Daniel had been on a mission, and when he had come back, he had thrown a fit after she told him. Daniel had offered beat the living shite out of the perpetrator, “He was sloppy and unruly sometimes, and frankly could be a bit of an arse - but... I meant the world to him. I know that. And, I don't know, I could relate to him. We were... two nuts in a shell.”
Shaun didn't respond.
“What? Not going to call me stupid? Or daft? Or ridiculous?”
Shaun tapped her shoulder, “I'm sorry I hurt you,” he said, and took her empty mug.
“Amanda,” Rebecca called, “Come see this.”
Amanda straightened, then went up to Rebecca's desk and looked at the computer screen.
“I've managed to hack into some files stored on Abstergo's database. There wasn't a lot of information on 'Daniel Cross', but I found out he was also referred to as 'Subject 4'. They've recorded all his missions from October through to December last year,” Rebecca turned to look at Amanda.
“I told you not to look...” Amanda murmured in a small voice.
“I was going to go through them with Shaun, but... I don't know, do you wanna watch 'em?”
Amanda bent low and read the file-names. One was labelled 'Subject 4 ~ Rome - 12.14.12' - the day Daniel had died.
Was she prepared to see that?
Amanda wanted to refuse the offer, but there was a desire in her mind. She had to know. It was stupid, something she was sure she would regret, but if it meant seeing him once more - even in a virtual image... But seeing him die? Seeing him aside from what she had known about him?
Amanda looked away and huffed, her hands on her head.
What to do, what to do?
Amanda swallowed, “Sh-show me,” she said.
“You're sure?” Rebecca asked.
“No,” Amanda replied, “just do it.”
Shaun joined them and then they watched through each video. The ambush in Florence, then the mission to New York and San Paolo. There were also clips of some of his doctor appointments, recordings of his nightmares in sleep, images of medical reports and documents on him. And finally, it was Rome's turn.
Amanda was crying involuntarily by this point, sniffing loudly but unable to look away or halt the recordings. She didn't want to see what happened in Rome, every fibre in her body was shaking, telling her to make it stop - but she couldn't say anything. Her voice was lost to a whimpering, whining sound that threatened to break her continued silence.
Rebecca played the final recording, and it felt as though Amanda watched every moment as if it was being played in slow-motion - every second the length of a minute, and every minute an hour by her reckoning. She broke down halfway, and turned aside - unable to look - but continued to listen.
“All the voices in my head...” Daniel's voice croaked, “S-s-screaming... SCREAMING... All the time... begging to be released,” a pause, “This... My body... My MIND!” he sniffed, breathing sobs, “They lived their lives...” he said miserably, “Why... w-why don't they let me live mine?” he sighed “Amanda... Amanda... I'm sorry...” he whispered to Desmond who had stabbed him, who paved the way to ending his pain and suffering, “You have to silence them... Pozhaluysta... Please! And... Don't hurt her, 17... She knows nothing... If you can, hide her from them... Don't let them touch her... Don't let them take her. Amanda May is her name...” he took one last, deep breath, “Now, please... please... Silence them...”
Amanda moved away, covering her mouth from making a sound and shook her head in misery. Tears streamed down her face and dampened her neck-line. Shaun and Rebecca were saying things, but she couldn't hear them. Amanda's mind was haunted with Daniel's words.
Now she understood.
Now it all made sense.
Amanda got up and ran out into the rain. She ran on and on, until she could run no more and dropped to her knees, not caring about the state of her clothes - letting heaven's water disguise her tears. She sobbed loudly, hugging herself, feeling no shame. Just sorrow. She didn't know for how long she remained this way - perhaps minutes, perhaps hours - it didn't matter.
How could anything possibly matter now?
Amanda looked up at the cloudy sky, her brows furrowed with sadness, and whispered, “I love you.”