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Disclaimer: I donít own anything I-man related, I didnít steal anything, only thing that I have any claim to would be Amanda, but thatís rather obviousÖ..
Comments: I once again thank Snowtiger for beta reading this, and everyone who keeps telling me to write these things for reasons beyond me
To read all of them visit: http://188.8.131.52/amandafawkes/
One Way or Another
I'll confess I don't know what to make from all this mess, Don't have much time For sympathy
But it never happened to me. You're feeling down now, I don't know where I'll be when you come around, And now it's time to make a choice
-Seeiní red, Unwritten Law
Richie walked down the hallway to the keep, and paused outside the door at the noise coming from inside. He recognized the music, and tried not to inwardly groan as he got out his keycard and opened the door. It was one of Amandaís CDís.
He put his briefcase on the desk, and walked around the divide in the keep. The stereo was up much louder than was necessary, and he saw why. Amanda had the sink on, and kept muttering obscenities. There some kind of lock picking tool on the ground, next to the lock that had been on a drawer. There was also glass on the floor from the vials that had formerly been in that drawer.
"Problems?" he asked making her jump and cry out in pain as she hit her arm on the side of the sink.
"Your early," she said quickly.
"I'm always early," he told her as he walked over to look at her arm.
"Broke some glass?" he asked looking at the three cut marks on her forearm.
"It's not like you don't know what I was doing," she replied as he went to get some bandages out.
"I told you not to touch it," he told her as he walked back over.
"Well then you shouldn't have told me that I wasn't allowed to know what it was," she told him, lowering her voice as Richie turned down the music as he walked by the stereo.
"Think of it as an example. Were going to have to learn to trust each other one way or another. But it isnít one way, itís not just you trusting me. I have to be able to trust you as well"
"Did you do that as some kind of test then?" she asked with a sigh as he started to clean the wounds and bandage them.
"Actually, I just wanted to see what you would really do," he told her as he finished cleaning the first cut and put one of the large band aids on it. Amanda opened her mouth to reply when the power went out.
"What just happened?" she asked through the dead silence in the keep, not liking the sound of her voice echoing off the walls in the absence of the normal background noise.
"I'd say, the power just went out....I believe the question is why?" Richie said as she heard him move.
"Where are you going?" she asked as she gripped the counter, trying to figure out where she was going, shuffling in the direction she heard him go.
"I refuse to stumble around in the dark," he told her as she heard him open a drawer and search for something. She turned towards the sound of the noise, then cried out and fell backwards as a light was suddenly shined in her eyes.
"Ouch," she said from her place on the floor, staring up at the dark ceiling as Richie walked over.
"Are you alright?" he asked as he helped her up.
"Do *not* do that again," she told him angrily as she pushed him away and brushed herself off.
"I don't plan too," he told her, just as there was a shrill ring of a cell phone. The sound bounced off the walls in the same pattern there voice were, making it seem louder and more annoying than it should have been. Richie reached into his pocket and pulled out his phone.
"What?" he asked in a frustrated tone of voice after moving the flashlight before Amanda had a chance to snatch it away.
"Richie? Is Amanda with you?" Asked Darien's worried voice over the phone.
"Yes, what's going on?" he asked, ignoring Amanda as she tried to listen in on the phone conversation.
"We don't know, the power's been cut off to the whole block, and all the Agency phones have been disconnected from what weíve figured out," Darien told him. "Were using Claire's cell now."
"How long do you think it's going to take to get the power back? We can't exactly get out of here until then," Richie told him. Darien started to answer, but was cut off as someone else started talking to him and arguing, and then Richie heard what he assumed to be a struggle for the phone.
"Are you in the keep?" came Claire's voice.
"Yes," Richie told her, looking around as he realized that Amanda wasn't standing behind him anymore. He turned around and shined the light around the keep until it settled on her over by the door. She shield her eyes with her hand and glared at him.
"You might be there for a while, can you unplug the computers? I don't want a power surge when the everything comes back on," Claire told him as he suddenly heard a loud noise, and Claire's phone clattered to the floor.
"Claire?...Hello?....Claire??" Richie asked in a panicked voice.There was more movement on the other line, but it didnít sound like it was anything good.
"Get down, don't move! You too! Both of you don't move!" he heard someone yell, and then the line went dead with a crunch.
"I believe we are in serious trouble," Richie said looking at Amanda.
"Dammit!" the man shouted as he slipped on Claire's phone and fell to the floor, his companion's keeping Darien and Claire covered as he got back up.
"Who were you talking to?" he asked looking at both prisoners. Neither of them regarded him with more than a look of hatred.
"Fine, you want to be quiet? We'll see how long that lasts, bring them to where we're keeping the others," he told the two men.
"I hope Richie figures something out," Claire thought to herself as she was shoved down the hallway. She looked at Darien who was glareing around at the men. She hoped he wouldn't try anything, they had no idea what was going on or who these men were.
"We need to get out of here," Richie said as he looked over at the door again.
"I know that!" Amanda almost yelled in frustration as she looked at him. He almost hit a cart as he jumped back.
"What are you doing?" he asked as she let the quicksilver flake off of her eyes.
"Darien taught me how...I can see better," she told him. "There's actually a lot of light coming out from under the door."
"Well, that's obviously not helping us, and I don't want to have to give you another shot to soon, you just got one yesterday," he told her as he finally punched the door in frustration.
"Were not getting out this way," he stated before looking at Amanda, who was starting at something intently.
"What is it?" he asked.
"The vents...when..." she turned around and made him jump again, her eyes were quicksilvered over for a second time. "There's light coming out of them."
"What are you suggesting?" he asked warily.
"I think you know," she told him.
"You can't be serious."
"Very, serious." she said when suddenly there was a loud sound outside the keep door. There was bumping and swearing, then a sound Amanda recognized.
"That's a blow torch...."
"We had better go," Richie told her.
Ryan kicked in the giant hole he and his partner had just cut in the large metal door. This room was right where Andrea had said it would be.
"Come on," he said to the other man as he hunched over and stepped in through the hole, getting out his flashlight.
"They're not in here..." he muttered to himself as he walked over to the computer. Andrea had said that there would be two people in here. He squatted down as his partner came in to look around.
"I don't believe this....well they were here," Ryan said as he stood back up.
"How do you know that?" the other man asked as he walked over to the man.
"The hard drives are gone."
"Not much further," Amanda told Richie as she continued to crawl.
"It had better not be, this is getting to be rather uncomfortable," he said as he squeezed through the vents behind her. Amanda had to stop a few times to help him, they almost hadn't gotten him into the vents. Amanda barley fit herself.
"Don't complain so much," she snapped as she looked ahead to see a vent opening that hopefully lead to an office.
"You'd complain if you had this view too," he told her as she stopped.
"Don't pretend you don't love it," she smirked as she looked down into an unoccupied office. No one seemed to be in it, and she couldn't take being in this vent anymore. Amanda pushed the grate off of it, and flinched at the crash it made when it landed on the desk below. She waited, but nothing seemed to happen.
She moved forward, then lowered her legs out of the hole, and then lowered herself onto the desk. Richie handed her the jacket they had tied the hard drives up in, then proceeded to get out of the vent the same way Amanda had.
"I will never complain about how small my apartment is again," Amanda sighed as she handed the coat back to Richie. He unfolded it and put the hard drives into the pockets, thankful that the jacket had such large pockets.
"What now?" she asked.
"Now, we find the others and figure out what's going on," he said walking to the door, and opening it slowly. He looked down the hallway and didn't see anything.
"Come on, let's hurry," he said grabbing her wrist and pulling her out the door.
They both walked in silence down the hallways. There was no one around, and there wasnít a sound, except for the echo of their own footsteps on the floor. Amanda suddenly stopped Richie.
"What..." he started but she put a hand over his mouth. Suddenly he heard it too, people talking and they were getting closer.
"You have that extra Counteragent?" Amanda asked quietly. Richie nodded, and then his vision was shifted into the gray haze that signaled being covered in Quicksilver. Amanda pushed Richie back into the wall so that they weren't in the middle of the hallway, and waited.
Two men walked around the corner, they had guns, but Amanda could tell by they way they looked that they were only dart guns. As they men came closer, she felt herself take in a sharp intake of breath as the walked by. She felt Richie's hand tighten on her arm as both men snapped to attention and started to scan the hallway.
One of the men reached into his pocket and pulled out a pair of sunglasses. Amanda almost felt her heart stop beating when she saw them. She couldn't be sure they were what she thought they were...but if these people knew about the agency....
The man put on the sunglasses, and looked around the hallway, and stopped when he was looking straight at them.
"Hey guy's, what's up?" he said before he fired a dart and hit Amanda square in the chest. Richie caught her as the quicksilver flaked off and she started to sink to the floor. He looked up at the men, who both had there dart guns pointed at him.
"Pick her up and follow us," one of the men said. Richie glared at the man, put did what he was told. Amanda wasn't very heavy, but it took him a minute to get a hold of her, dead weight was hard to lift.
He followed one of the men down the hallway while the other one followed behind him. They went up the stairs to the next floor, Richie complaining under his breath about how neither of them had to carry a person up the stairs and they could have at least turned the elevators back on.
He was pretty sure he knew where they were going, and when they turned down the hallway to the white room he knew that he was right. The men opened the door for him, and shut it as soon as they were through.
"Oh my god, what happened?" Claire asked as she got up from where she had been sitting on the raised portion in the middle of the room. Richie walked over to where she had been and laid Amanda down, with Darien's help, as he got there.
"They hit her with a tranquilizer."
He looked up at Eberts and the Official in the corner, but there was no Hobbes.
"Where's...." he stopped as Claire shook her head. Richie assumed that whoever had them here didn't know about Hobbes, so he kept his mouth shut.
"Ouch..." Amanda groaned as she moved and opened her eyes. "Darien?"
"Morning," her cousin greeted her as he helped her sit up.
"We got caught...damn," Amanda said as she looked around and remembered what had happened. She hadn't even been awake for more than a couple minutes when the door opened and two guards came in. One walked forward and grabbed her arm.
"Hey!" Darien yelled trying to stop him, but the other one punched him while they dragged her out of the tiny room.
"Let me go!" Amanda screamed as they dragged her down the hallway. She struggled, but they were much to strong for her. They finally reached an office and walked inside, then threw her to the ground.
"Boys, I said gently, this is a guest."
Amanda looked up sharply, and just stared at what she saw.
"Hello Amanda," Andrea said.
"Oh my god, your doing this? What the hell?" Amanda said angrily as she stood up.
"That's a wonderful greeting after not seeing each other for three years..."Andrea trailed off.
"Well look at what your doing!" Amanda shouted angrily.
"Yes, I'm saving you. How horrible of me," Andrea replied, with a smirk on her face.
"What?" Amanda asked confused.
"We are here for you, The Invisible Girl," she told her.
"Invisible woman, but why?" Amanda corrected her.
"Amanda...I'm not going to leave you here, to this, I have a few connections, some on the inside of this," she said with a wave of her hand. "And some not. I know what they did to you."
"Wow, you really made the big time didn't you," Amanda commented. "You'd have to have some serious connections to find out what goes on around here."
"I'm a...force in the world yes...but if you come with me, we both can be," Andrea told her as she walked over. "It can be just like it was."
"Counteragent, I can't leave," Amanda said looking at her. It had been a long time since she had been involved in a conversation like this. Quick, to the point, as little crap as possible. Andrea had been her good friend for a long time, well on her way to being one of the best thieves on the planet, and almost untouchable. They hadn't exactly parted on good terms, and this rescue was confusing Amanda.
"Yes, we need you to tell us where the hard drives are. The information is on them. If we have those...you're free," Andrea told her.
Amanda swallowed hard. If she was right....being free, it wasn't something she had ever considered happening. Leaving the Agency was such a tempting idea. She would get to go back to her old life...better than her old life.
But what about Darien? Claire and Hobbes...even Richie. Not that any of them really treated her all that well, even Darien. He was still treating her like she couldn't do anything, Claire she didn't trust very much, Hobbes thought of her as a kid who couldn't even tie her shoes....and Richie.
Well he just was Richie.
"I..." she tried to answer but stopped. She didn't know what to do.
"Amanda...just tell us where they are. This is very simple," she told her.
"But...they're my friends...and Darien...I..." Amanda fumbled with the words.
"Come on, you think they really care? I've seen the files and reports, you're just the glands' receptacle to them," Andrea said as she put a hand on Amanda shoulder.
"They don't care. I do, that's why I'm here. You're still the best friend I ever had Amanda, and together, we can have anything we want. We can buy this place in five years if you want," Andrea joked.
"Andrea. You can't just show up, lock up everyone in a building, and say I have to go with you....I mean....this is my life," Amanda told her as she started to be coherent again.
"This isn't your life, you've been here how long?" Andrea asked angrily as she stalked back over to lean against the desk.
"Two, four months?" she asked her.
"Seven actually," Amanda corrected her angrily. "It's kinda hard to just walk out on all of that."
"I'll make it easy, where are the hard drives?" she asked. Amanda just looked at her with obvious mixed emotions.
"Are they hidden somewhere?" Andrea asked studying Amanda's face. "Does a person have them...it's a person."
Andrea could still easily read her ex- friend, no matter how long they had been apart.
"Who is it?" Andrea asked, but Amanda stayed quiet. Andrea sighed and walked forward, grabbing Amanda's arm and pulling her out the door. Amanda just followed, trying to sort everything she was feeling right now. Thinking about not being at the agency ever again...well that was pretty much the happiest feeling in a while...but leaving the people here was going to make that much harder.
Andrea took a gun from one of the men by the door, and walked into the white room with Amanda in tow. Richie and Claire who had been sitting both stood up as they came in. Andrea released Amanda's arm and motioned to the group with the gun.
"Who has them?" she asked her. Amanda froze. She didn't know what to do, her voice was caught in her throat.
"Hurry up so we can get out of here," Andrea said impatiently.
"What's going on?" Darien asked, stepping forward, but he stopped when Andrea pointed the gun at him.
"We are going to get the hard drives, then we are leaving," Andrea said. "Hurry up Amanda, we need to get out of here."
"Amanda...your leaving with her?" Richie asked, only to have the gun pointed at him. He put his hands up in a defensive position as a reflex.
"Yes, she is. Do you expect her to stay here?" Andrea asked as if it was a stupid question.
"Uh, yeah?" Darien answered sarcastically, getting the gun pointed back at him.
"No. She's not going to stick around this place anymore. I'm giving her freedom. Something the rest of you took away from her," Andrea told them.
"What? Hey.." Darien started, then Andrea started to talk over him, then both Richie and Claire started in, followed by the Official, until everyone was just yelling.
"SHUT UP! Everyone just SHUT UP!" Amanda screamed getting everyone to be quiet.
"I donít think any of this is going to get anyone anywhere," the Official added, gaining only a glare from Andrea.
"Amanda, just tell me where they are so we can leave," Andrea told her.
"You have to shoot me if you want me to tell you," Amanda told her, looking up, and being shocked by the hurt in her former friends eyes.
"You bitch," Andrea said coldly. "You doing it again...I was afraid you would."
"What?" Amanda asked.
"I was gonna give you a chance..." she said as she raised the gun and pointed it towards Amanda. "But all you can think of is yourself."
"Excuse me?" Amanda asked angrily, ignoring the gun.
"You never think about how what you do affects others! Ever!" Andrea yelled. "You left me on my own, I spent 2 and a half years in jail! Didn't know that, did you?!"
"How the hell was I supposed to know that?!" Amanda yelled back.
"You should have checked. And what about now? Do you have any idea how rich we could be within a week? An invisible thieve? Come on Amanda, you're being selfish," Andrea said.
"Selfish? I'm being selfish? What about you?! You come here, wave some kind of freedom in my face when you know I can't have it!" Amanda yelled back.
"Yes you can. All you have to do is take it Amanda," Andrea said.
"No...I can't," Amanda said, trying to get the point across even though she couldn't really express exactly what she meant.
"Don't get over emotional Amanda, you're starting to cry," Andrea mocked her.
"Leave her alone," Richie said coldly. Andrea turned on him.
"You, I know what you are. Keeper I believe is the term. You're the one who's done this to her, made her think she can't leave. I know...it's her decision in the end, but you're making her think there isn't a decision," she said angrily.
"Andrea..." Amanda started, but Andrea cut her off.
"She was okay before, she was a little bit on the selfish side, but at least she made her own decisions," Andrea started, bringing the gun up to point it right at his head. "I think she'd be better off without you."
"Andrea! Stop!" Amanda yelled.
"You care?" Andrea asked, turning to look back at Amanda.
"I don't want you to kill him," Amanda said.
"I asked, do you care about...." she paused at the sound of a gun cocking, and she turned to look right in the barrel of Hobbes gun.
"Party's over," he told her.
Amanda sat on the steps outside the agency watching Andrea getting dragged into a police car, screaming. The men she had hired were not going much quieter than she was. The sun was starting to go down, and it if wasn't for what had happened that day, it would be a pretty nice night. Richie walked out of the front doors, and saw Amanda sitting on the steps. He walked over slowly to stand behind her.
"Amanda...." he started.
"Don't talk to me right now....I don't want to hear anything you have to say," she told him.
"Really? And what do you think I'm going to say?" he asked crossing his arms, as she turned her head to look back and up at him.
"I don't care, I don't want to hear about how I didn't go back over to the "wrong side" or that this means something....all that happened today was some facts got shoved in my face that I didn't want to see."
"You mean, that this is your job? You're never going to be able to go back? All of that?" Richie asked. Amanda glared back at him.
"You think you're the only one at this Agency who doesn't want to be here?" Richie asked a little more angrily than he wanted too.
"What's that supposed to mean?" Amanda asked as she stood up.
"Everyone except for the Official and Eberts is being forced to stay here. You think this is going to look good on my record? This is the last resort place for people who have no where else to go," Richie told her. "So stop acting like you're the only one."
"You don't get it Richie," Amanda told him. "I didn't just lose a job....I lost my life, and I'll never get it back. This is going to be my life till I die!" she screamed as he motioned with her hand at the building, earning some looks from the officers who were still around. "Even if I did leave, how long do you think it would be before something happened with the gland? Something I couldnít take care of on my own? This is the end of the line for me. My life ended with this."
She pointed to the back of her head, and glared at him.
"Don't start acting like a Martyr, Darien covers that," Richie told her. "And don't act like this isn't better than your old life."
"Even if it is..."
"In the end, you couldn't leave. That's the issue here," Richie told her. "You care, and you don't know how to deal with it."
Amanda just stared at him, but couldn't think of a response. He was right.
"No, I couldn't, but that doesn't make me feel better about it. Sure, this isn't the worse place I could be, but it's still a prison, and I'm being forced to stay here. *That* doesn't change. Ever," she said before she turned around and walked away to her car.
"You just need to realize...you're not the only prisoner," Richie muttered under his breath before he left and walked out to his car.
He walked by the car that Andrea was currently in, and paused.
"It's to late, she's done for. You think I'd come here without a plan in case she said no!"
She was screaming like a lunatic, and it was obvious she had finally snapped, but what she said still caught him.
"What's she talking about?" he asked as he caught a man by the arm that was passing.
"She's been screaming about bombs and things since we got her out here, were investigating it, don't worry," the guy said before he continued walking.
Richie sighed, and ran to his car. He needed to get to Amanda's apartment.
Amanda sat on her couch and flipped through the channels while she waited for the popcorn in the kitchen to finish. She had already changed into her sweats, and was ready for a night of self pity. She hadn't had one for a while.
She had just sat down on the couch, when someone started pounding on the door.
"What?" she asked angrily as she got up and opened the door, only to have it shoved open the rest of the way by Richie.
"Why are you here?" she asked angrily.
"You need to leave, now," Richie said grabbing her arm. Amanda pulled out of his grasp and stared at him.
"Excuse me?" she asked.
"I think that Andrea is going to blow up your apartment," he told her.
"She was screaming about it."
"Richie...you saw how she was right? She's finally, totally lost it, come on," she said trying to shut the door, but he pushed it open.
"If I'm wrong, I'm sorry, if I'm right then you can thank me later," he told her.
"You know what..." she stopped when a high pitched screech sounded through the apartment, Richie grabbed Amanda and pulled out of the apartment and around the corner, just as the explosion happened, and they were both thrown to the ground by the force of it.
"Okay...Sorry?" Amanda asked looking over at Richie. He sighed and pushed himself up off the floor.
"I think we better go call someone," was all Richie said.
"I'm going to stay at Darien's till I get a new place," Amanda told Richie as he worked at his computer. She had finally broken the silence between them. She'd been sitting in the keep for a good half an hour, without a single word besides "Hello" from Richie.
"I thought as much," he told her without looking at her.
"Yeah....that was...really close," she told him.
"Yes," he replied, still not looking up.
"Richie...thanks, and I mean it this time. You saved me, when I could have gotten you killed," she told him.
"How do you figure that?" he asked spinning around in his chair to face her.
"If I hadn't left the apartment, I doubt you would have....you saved me," she repeated. "I'm just trying to say...I'm trying...I appreciate it," she finally said.
"Thank you. That's all I need to hear," he told her before turning back around.
"Yeah...well, your part of the reason I'm still hanging around," she said before she started walking out.
"What?" he asked turning around again.
"What would be the fun in hanging around if you weren't here to make fun of, or bug all day?" she shrugged before she walked out of the keep.
"How *did* I ever end up with this job," Richie sighed to himself before turning back to his computer.
And foolish lies, we'll can't you see I tried to compromise, cause what you say ain't always true,
And I can see the tears in your eyes, and what you said now can't stop the words from running through my head, And what I do to get through to you, but you'd only do it again.
-Seein' red, Unwritten Law