Amanda stared at the crackling fire - the way it snapped and popped, sparks zipping off tongues of flame and glowing before it dimmed and faded into nothing. She wondered how long she would be in this place.
This magical, wonderful place which made dead men return to their living loved ones.
She heard Daniel's footsteps and looked up. He dropped a log into the fire, sat down and poked it around with a long stick.
“You doing okay?” Daniel asked.
Amanda nodded, “I'm just... thinking.”
“You been doing that a lot lately, huh?”
Amanda looked at him and shrugged. She sighed and said, “Sometimes I wish I could be one of those ditzy girls, who twirl their hair and keep their legs open to everyone.”
Daniel scoffed, “Really?”
“A ditzy girl wouldn't be worrying about shooting a freaking gun,” said Amanda, “She'd be concerned about her blonde hair-dye and her curlers and eyebrow pencils.”
“That's what you want to worry about?”
“You know what I mean, Daniel,” Amanda said.
Daniel stared at her for a long while before he said, “Amanda, look at me.”
Amanda looked up.
“Life's not going to be easy from here on out, and I know that's not news to you,” Daniel said, “I'm an idiot for bringing you into all of this, but there's nothing to fix that now. And, I don't know if this is any comfort at all, but - I'm here,” he reached over and took her hand, “And I'm never going to stop helping you out.”
Amanda smiled and let out a small laugh, “I wish your kind sentiments weren't mixed up with your desire to show-up Berg.”
“That's not it!” Daniel protested, and then paused, “Okay, maybe a little, but I do want to help you. Being my girlfriend will get you some leverage, but it won't mean anything as soon as the assessments take place. I'm going to make sure you're ready for them. You're going to be the top initiate.”
“I don't... I don't know if I want to do that, Daniel.”
Daniel looked at her, “...Oh.”
“You're not upset?”
“I crushed your life. I don't have the right to be upset.”
“I'm glad I still have you.”
He smiled but didn't say anything.
“And all to myself, in this weird dream,” Amanda scoffed, “I think our positions have been reversed.”
“That'll show me,” Daniel joked, “Teach me to run away whenever I want.”
Amanda laughed, “I'm not... I'm not mad at you, Daniel. I was mad because you were gone and mad because you weren't with me, but... I feel better now,” she put her hands over the fire, “Do you think I can get, like, a desk-job around here?”
“If you want, yeah. Ask for one.”
“I don't think they trust me,” Amanda shook her head, “and you don't sound too happy about it.”
“It's easy for me to just say, 'do this' and 'do that'. But I don't want to. You should do what you want to do.”
“And if I change my mind?”
“About working a desk-job, about living in Philly, about being a Templar?”
“I'll always be on your side - right or wrong. Okay? Except about England. You come from a sissy-ass country, my opinions are never going to change on that.”
Amanda laughed, “Whatever. You know you like this accent.”
“I wasn't drawn in by your fancy British accent.”
“I was in a bar, I beat up your ex - and you were standing there beaming at me in admiration. That's what drew me in.”
Amanda rolled her eyes, “I was not beaming at you in admiration!” she snapped, slapping Daniel's arm.
“You were. You know you were.”
“That's far too strong a description. I was staring at you, yes, but so was everyone else!”
Daniel raised a finger, “Yeah, but they were staring at me in fear. I can smell that sort of thing - and you didn't stink of it.”
Amanda shook her head, smiling, “What did I stink of then?”
Daniel stuck out his tongue, “Hormones.”
Amanda rolled onto her back and laughed, “Fine, you can have that one, but I was not beaming at you.”
“What were you thinking, that day?” Daniel asked.
Amanda paused for thought, “Something along the lines of 'Thank God for that guy'.”
“Really? Not 'let's get him drunk so I can take him home and keep him forever'?”
“Don't flatter yourself.”
“I have evidence to back that thought up,” Daniel pointed out, “You bought me a glass of the best Scotch I'd ever tasted, then we went to your place, and then you made the wise-ass decision of falling in love with me.”
“I love how you've conveniently left out the part where you kept booty-calling me,” Amanda retorted.
“Oh, yeah. There was that.”
“What... What were you thinking?”
“Something along the lines of: 'let's get her drunk so I can take her home',” he said with a shrug, “I didn't think I'd want you forever then.”
“I don't know. What do you think?” Daniel rolled his eyes, “You know, I died once. And when I was dying, I was thinking of three things - how clear my head was, that I deserved to die for not killing Desmond when I had the chance, and,” he pointed at Amanda, “you. I feel like those were the only three things I cared about in my life.”
Amanda gazed at him and said, “This,” she pointed at her face, “This is me beaming at you in admiration.”
Daniel snorted, “That's so the look you had on your face on the day we met!”
Amanda shook her head and gave up. She pulled her clothes around her and edged closer to the fire.
“You hungry?” Daniel asked.
“No, I'm fine,” Amanda said.
“Good, because you don't want to eat anything here.”
“Don't ask, just trust me.”
Amanda put her tongue in her cheek, “Did they cause some of those gastric problems?”
Daniel scowled, “Shut up.”
Daniel looked up. He stared at something intently. Amanda followed the line of his gaze and wondered what he was thinking.
“Come,” he said, “I want to show you something,” he got up and offered a hand to Amanda.
She rose and followed him, “Where are we going?”
“I'm not spoiling it for you,” Daniel said, “but it's quite the climb, so be ready.”
Daniel led her to one of the strange columns that jutted out of the island's surface and climbed up on it. Amanda followed him, jumping up, grasping the ledge and hauling herself up.
Daniel climbed higher, reaching for a ledge above them and calling, “You doing okay down there?”
She looked up at his bottom, and laughed, “The view from here is just great!”
She heard Daniel chuckle and then say, “Stop staring at my ass and catch up, Amanda!”
Amanda examined the rock and put a foot on an irregular crevice in the otherwise smooth surface. She raised herself, grasped the ledge and climbed steadily higher. She saw Daniel's hand and allowed him to pull her up.
“Thanks,” Amanda said, already out of breath.
“We're not done yet,” Daniel replied, jerking his thumb behind him.
Amanda furrowed her brows as she saw a field of more rocks, each taller that the one before it.
“You're not going to make me jump, are you?” she asked, staring at Daniel.
“You look scared.”
“I am scared!”
“Any other person would have denied it.”
“An American, maybe! Or a man. Or an idiot. Or all three.”
“Ha-ha,” Daniel said, “Come on, it's not that bad.”
Daniel bent down and kissed her, “You'll be fine,” he said, “I'll go first.”
“What? Wait!” Amanda reached out, but failed to catch him as he let go and jumped off the column.
He caught the ledge of the next column nearest to him and climbed up on top of it.
“See? I'm fine!” he called, his hands cupped around his mouth, “Now you try.”
“Daniel, I am mentally questioning all my life choices right now!” Amanda replied, her face becoming a look of sheer fright.
“That makes me feel great!” Daniel laughed, “Come on!”
Amanda took a deep breath then a few steps back. She shut her eyes for a moment and then ran broke into a run. She timed the jump just right and screamed as she felt almost weightless in the air. The ledge was getting closer and closer, Amanda reached out to grab it.
Her hands slipped.
She panicked in mid-air, her limbs flailing everywhere, until something caught her arm.
She swore profusely and did nothing to help herself as Daniel pulled her up.
“It's okay, I've got you, I've got you,” he kept saying, holding her close as she kicked and writhed in his grasp, “Shh, shh, I've got you!”
Amanda pounded her fists into his shoulders, “You bloody, mother-fucking son of a bitch!” she shouted, hyperventillating, “You said I'd be fine, you buttwad!”
“You are fine!” Daniel laughed, “I have you right here.”
“Argh! You bloody-” she grabbed his face and kissed him with passion, crunching her lips against his. She calmed down and then let go and slapped him across the face, “Don't ever do that to me again!”
Daniel guffawed, and he managed to get them both to sit down.
“It's not funny!” Amanda protested, crossing her arms.
Daniel planted a kiss on her forehead and said, “Yes, it is. You were flailing like a drowning spider.”
“Okay, I'll stop,” he cuddled her, “but you did slap me, so.”
“Slap-? You made me jump off a cliff!”
“But I caught you, didn't I?”
Amanda scowled at him, but it just made him laugh more.
Amanda crossed her arms and huffed, “Why did you bring me here?”
“I was supposed to take you right to the top,” Daniel pointed up at the tallest column, “but I think you've had enough heart attacks for today.”
“You want to go again?”
Daniel looked amused, “Why not?”
“Because I nearly had a heart attack. Nearly.”
“Ah, who's the manly, American idiot now?”
Daniel shook his head and scoffed, “Come,” he stood up, “Look.”
Amanda got up and stomped to his side. A breeze played with her hair and she gasped.
Daniel's arm snaked across her shoulders and he said, “Amazing, right?”
Amanda's breath left her as she looked at the island, the columns shining in the dark. She could see the campfire, and the shimmering water lapping over the sandy banks, “It's... amazing,” she agreed.
“Wasn't it worth the jump?”
Amanda turned to him and put a finger on his lips, tracing over them lightly, “I'm never jumping like that again,” she smiles and kissed him. She felt a crackle of his energy, every one of her nerves lighting with pleasure.
“Never say never,” Daniel said.
“That's a Justin Bieber song,” Amanda pointed out, “And that boy's Canadian.”
Daniel looked away, “I don't even...” he laughed.
“What's...?” Amanda pointed to a glowing blue wall standing on its own island, “What's that?”
“That's the Animus, the memories,” Daniel replied, “I'm assuming you've already been there?”
Amanda nodded, “Yes,” she said, “I'm... related to Jacques de Molay-”
She was about to explain, when Daniel said, “No way. I thought he didn't have any kids.”
“He didn't,” Amanda said, loving the way he mirrored her own reaction to the news, “I'm related directly to his brother, Robert...” she paused, “I experienced Jacques's death. You know, at the stake?”
“That's crazy...” Daniel murmured.
Daniel stared at her pensively, and then looked down, “It's getting chilly up here, let's get down,” he jerked his head to a side.
Amanda looked to her side and shook her head, “No, no, Daniel, no - I can't...”
“Shh,” Daniel said, “We'll jump together.”
“That doesn't help!”
“Just, listen, hear me out,” he held her face, “Here, take my hands,” he held her hands, “and close your eyes and we'll be fine. I promise you.”
Amanda shook her head, “It's a long way down.”
“Just... trust me.”
Amanda looked over the side and bit her lip. Fear wracked her in cold shivers, making her hairs rise. She looked at Daniel and laced her fingers with his, “Don't let me go. Please, don't... don't let me go.”
“I wouldn't dream of it,” Daniel whispered, “Now take a deep breath and shut your eyes.”
Amanda took a deep breath and closed her eyes. She bit her lip.
The world tilted in the darkness and air rushed past her. A scream burst from Amanda's mouth, before a warmth embraced her and a mouth kissed her. It soothed her, and contrasting cold around her made the experience exhilarating. Amanda opened her eyes and saw Daniel's face ballooning because of the wind, the tears from his eyes flying away on the air. She found it in her to laugh and Daniel laughed with her.
The ground rushed to meet them and - where Amanda should have heard a loud smack and felt her body crumble into a broken heap of mangled flesh and bones - there was only darkness, filled with dulled pain.
It took a moment, but the world reformed around them and they were safe - lying on the ground looking up at the column they had jumped from. Amanda sat on Daniel's chest before he could get up.
“What are you doing?” Daniel laughed.
Amanda pinned his hands down and kissed him, “Something that isn't completely insane,” she said before rectifying, “Or maybe he is? I'll never know.”