Daniel's foot came out of nowhere, and Amanda ducked just in time. She dodged the next punch and threw up her arm to block a second.
“Time...” Amanda said, panting for breath, “Time-out.”
She fell back into a seated position, her head back and her tongue hanging out of her mouth as her breath caught up with her. She had barely gotten a blow in, and Daniel hadn't been easy on her. He'd knock-out punched her more than five times, and Amanda had felt her face become heavy with pain, before it receded almost immediately. She wondered what she might look like.
Daniel was quite literally beating her up.
She looked at him, standing where he was, arms folded. He didn't look amused, didn't look satisfied - but just pitying.
If it wasn't for that look, Amanda might have considered giving up.
She stood up and put her fists up again.
“No more, Amanda,” Daniel said, shaking his head.
Amanda didn't move.
“You can't do this any more-” Daniel said.
“Don't worry about me,” Amanda snapped.
“You're saying that like I can help it,” Daniel said, furrowing his brows.
Amanda growled in frustration, but stopped herself from saying something she might regret. She stamped her foot.
Daniel shook his head and pointed at the ground, “Sit the fuck down!”
She ran at him, but Daniel side-stepped and smacked her. She shouted and fell on the floor in a heap.
Daniel looked at his hand.
He hadn't even thought...
Amanda held her face and sat up. Daniel wondered what she was thinking. He wandered over to her side and sat by her, “You lasted longer that I thought you would,” he commented monotonously, “but you need to be ready to strike when the opportunity presents itself. You just stand there and wait to get hit again. I would tell you to cut your hair too, but...” Daniel put a hand on her shoulders, feeling the bristled tips of her hair brush against the back of his hand. He was surprised she didn't flinch away from him.
Amanda was still trying to catch her breath and Daniel held her when she fell back. She curled up against him and gave Daniel a frustrated look, wheezing and coughing.
“I'm... never going... to get it,” she said, between laboured breaths.
Daniel blinked and brushed a strand of her dishevelled hair off of her face, “You'll get it eventually, Amanda,” he said, “You just need someone to beat you up like a wild animal often enough.”
“I... don't need... your conde... condescen...”
“I was being serious, not condescending.”
“Daniel,” Amanda swallowed thickly, “I'm sorry I made you do this.”
Daniel raised a brow.
“It must feel like... When you asked me to shoot you,” she explained, “I'm sorry you have to do this... But I... I don't know who else to ask...”
Daniel didn't say anything. He always tried to be above his emotions, a typical man.
But now he couldn't, “I've hit you in ways I haven't hit anyone in my life, Amanda,” he said in a wavering voice.
Amanda gave him a look, then straightened and hugged him, “You're helping me,” she tried to reassure him.
“No, I'm hurting you. I don't want... I can't do this any more.”
“Okay,” Amanda said, “Okay. You won't have to. I'll figure this out on my own.”
Daniel kissed her neck, “Just focus on hitting, not getting hit.”
“I was trying to!” Amanda laughed in her hoarse voice. “I couldn't though.”
Daniel paused, “Okay, try this. When you get struck, try to block and throw in an attack right after. Like I did just now? Side-step and then smack. But you have to think quick.”
Amanda smiled, “Thanks, I'll keep it in mind.”
Daniel's eyes were sad. Some old part of her awoke when she saw that and Amanda felt the need to comfort him.
Amanda stroked the stubble on Daniel's cheek with her thumb, “Don't feel bad. I asked for it.”
Daniel didn't look at her. He just kept staring at his hands, “Don't ever make me do that again,” Daniel said.
“Daniel, look at me.”
He looked up.
Amanda kissed his lips softly and said, “I know. I won't. I'm sorry.”
“A huge fuck-up,” Daniel shook his head, “Just like I said.”
“I came into your life, you became attached to me, then I died and you never got to just let me go. And now... now I'm beating you up? Everything. Everything just screwed itself over.”
“I should have broke us up when I could have. I should have spared you from this.”
Amanda kissed him but he pulled away and looked dejected.
“Stop feeling sorry for me,” Amanda insisted, “This is what I want.”
“No, it's not,” Daniel shook his head, “You don't know what this is - what you'll have to see, what you'll have to do. You think it's easy being a hero? Saving the world? There are no heroes, just guys like me and Desmond throwing themselves at each other because we don't know what else to do. That's not what I want for you. That's never what I wanted for you. And you don't want it either.”
“I thought you weren't going to be 'that guy',” Amanda narrowed her eyes and said in a cold voice, “How would you know, what I want and want I don't want?”
Daniel stared at her for a long time.
“You know, maybe you're right,” he murmured, “How would I know? You're not the Amanda I knew when I was alive. You look like her, but...” he paused, “You're a complete stranger.”