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Rating: PG-13

Disclaimer: I don't own anything I-man related, I didn't steal anything, only thing that I have any claim to would be Amanda and Richie, but that's rather obvious

Time Frame: I don’teven know anymore...

Archive: All Amanda Fawkes fanfics are archived at

http://amandafawkes.cjb.net/

Stop by and visit, and check out the other AF fics, as well as the really cool message board :)

Comments: This is the 5th Amanda Fawkes fanfic and was beta read by Snowtiger, Many thanks to her for reading this over and correcting all the horrible little errors and missing words. I know it can be a real pain :)

 

Watching the people as they pass and all she wants is a little piece of this dream, is that to much to ask? ... If I could be like that, I would give anything, just to live one day, what would I do?

-3 doors down, If I could be like that

Jonathan knocked on the door for the third time. He had been standing in the hallway for what seemed like an eternity. Finally he heard movement inside the apartment, and a few seconds later Amanda answered the door.

"Oh, Hi," she said sounding confused. She paused for a minute then looked him right in the eyes. "Uh, what are you doing here?"

"For once I remember, and you don't? You have got to be kidding me," he laughed.

"Oh my god, that's today?" she asked embarrassed and half non-believing. "I've been so busy lately..."

"Yeah, you're one of the few people who would forget their own birthday. Anyway I thought I would drop by, take you out for the day," He explained.

"I have work today, I should..." she paused to think, then smiled. "Where are we going?"

"I knew you'd say that," he told her with a wink. "You always knew how to live right."

"Well, work isn't exactly my favorite place to be, and they won't miss me for one day."

"Are you sure?"

"Positive."

--------------

"I haven't been here in so long," Amanda said from where she was lying on the blanket.

"Why not? You don't live that far from the beach," Jonathan commented. "You could probably walk here."

"I just haven't had time, been busy with stuff," She explained.

"What exactly is it you do?" he asked her.

"I work for Fish and Game," she said.

"And that keeps you too busy to do anything else? You're working weekends more often than anyone else I know, you're always home late, and you're constantly exhausted, and that's all you do?"

"It's harder than it sounds," she replied flatly. "Can we please talk about something else?"

"Sure," he said. "Like what?"

"I don't know," she said glancing down the beach. She saw a little girl playing with a little dog, and smirked.

"What?" Jonathan asked her glancing to where she was looking.

"Remember when my parents bought that little yippy dog?" she asked him trying not to laugh. "And it attacked you, and you started screaming?"

"It was dark, I didn't know what it was!" he defended but Amanda had already fallen into a fit of laughter.

"And you tried to tell everyone that it was some big wild wolf-dog thing,"

"And then you told everyone what it really was, I still hear about that, I hope you're happy," He said leaning back on his elbows looking away from her.

"Don't worry, I am," she said rolling onto her side to look at him He sighed and looked back at her then shook his head and looked away. Amanda laughed again and laid back down on the blanket.

"You know what, you've been around here for a while, and that's the first I heard you laugh since you came back," he told her.

"I don't have much to laugh about," she replied.

"I'm sure you could find something," he said to her.

"It's too much effort."

"Why? Can't you tell me what's really going on here? I know something is up, I don't know what, but you're just not as... happy as you used to be."

"I can't tell you."

"Why not?" he shot at her.

"Just trust me… maybe someday... but don't ask me to now, just drop it," she told him.

"Fine,… for now," he replied.

"Why is it we always come to the beach in the mornings?" she asked almost out of nowhere.

"Less people."

"That's right, Maria's idea back in High School," she muttered to herself.

"Your falling asleep aren't you?" Jonathan asked.

"You know me too well."

---------------

"None of you know where she is?" The Official asked.

"I believe we established that already," Richie said as she leaned back in his chair.

"She's probably just late," Darien tried to explain from where he was standing by the window.

"I don't know partner, you never know with her," Hobbes said from where he was standing on the other side of the room.

"Do we have anyway of tracking her?" Claire asked walking over to stand next to Hobbes.

"We found the last tracer we had on her in the lab this morning," Eberts supplied.

"Someone had better get out there and find her. Now!" the Official barked.

"I wonder who he's talking to?" Darien asked sarcastically as he walked to the door and Hobbes followed.

"Any clue where she might be?" Hobbes asked after they got outside the office.

"Actually, I don't know where she is, but I bet I know where she'll end up," he sighed as they walked.

"What does that mean?" Hobbes asked.

"It's her birthday, her life's not exactly what she expected it to be by now, If I were her I would be out getting a drink."

----------

"Okay, we went to the beach, the coffee shop, stopped by to see if Maria was home.."

"She wasn't."

"I know that. So where do you want to go, it's your birthday," Jonathan told her.

"I know, and you know where I want to go, or we wouldn't be on this street," She said.

"I was just checking," He explained as he pulled into the parking lot of the bar. Amanda got out and followed him in, after all he knew the area a little better than she did, considering he had lived here a lot longer than her. He took her by the hand and led her to a secluded spot in a corner, after quickly ordering some drinks to be taken over to them. Amanda sat down and looked up to see Jonathan smiling at her.

"What? I got something on my face?" she asked.

"No, I have something to show you," he said as he reached into his pocket for something.

"Oh god, what is it?" She asked with mock-fear.

"Calm down, you'll like this," he said as he took out a piece of paper and put it on the table.

"Is that what I think it is?" she half-cringed.

"Oh yeah, our 'Life planner,' he said as he spun the paper around and smiled.

"God, we made that thing like seven years ago," She said.

"And we were supposed to open it on your 21st birthday, but failing that, 24 will have to do," He said as he opened it and handed it to her. Amanda started to read silently.

"Read out loud," he laughed as the drinks arrived. "That's half the fun,"

They thanked the waitress and Amanda went back to the paper while Jonathan watched.

"Okay, we were supposed to get married three years ago," she said matter of factly. "And be living in our first apartment right now, while are first kid is on the way."

"Us? Having kids? Just doesn't seem right," Jonathan commented with a laugh.

"You have no idea," Amanda said before continuing. "We were supposed to get our first house in a year, and in 5 more years move into a bigger one, after our 3rd kid...what the hell were we thinking?" she laughed as she dropped the paper to the table.

"If I knew that I would be a much smarter man," Jonathan sighed as he took a sip of his beer.

"It's not all bad, just a little out of proportion," She said.

"What do you mean?" he asked.

"Well, having a family sounds good, just a normal family." She explained trailing off.

"You seem to have an obsession with all this 'normal stuff'," Jonathan said back.

"You grew up in a normal family, you *still* have a normal family, you don't appreciate that sort of thing like I do."

"Your family isn't that bad, come on, so your cousins are like your brothers, that's not all too weird," he told her.

"You don't get it." she said trailing off.

"I would if you talked to me more," he said.

"You have no idea how much I wish I could," she sighed.

"Come on," he pleaded with her.

"I would, but then I would be forced to kill you," she told him with a smile.

"That is such a load of crap."

"To bad, it's all I can give you."

"Maybe that's not good enough."

"Look, I really am sorry……"

"No you're not, you're never sorry," he said as he stood up and walked away.

"Wait a minute!" Amanda called after him as she got up and followed him out the door, only to almost run into Jonathan's back.

"Don't worry, I haven't corrupted her," he said to someone. Amanda looked over his shoulder to see Darien and Hobbes.

"Aw crap," She said with a sigh.

"Hi Amanda, how's your day been? I've spent most of mine worrying that you might be hurt somewhere," Darien said, obviously mad at her.

"I'm fine," she told him with a sarcastic smile.

"I can see that. Out partying?"

"I'm gonna get going, seeing as I'm not needed here," Jonathan said.

"Jonathan." Amanda started.

"See ya later," Darien said as he exchanged glares with Jonathan as he got in his car and left.

"What the hell is your problem!?" Amanda yelled at Darien.

"My problem? What about your problem? You really need to grow up! You can't just disappear for a day and think no one's gonna notice. There are people who worry about you!" Darien shot back, surprised that the words were even coming out of his mouth.

"You're one to talk," She countered.

"Look, how about we go back to the agency and handle this there?" Hobbes interjected.

"Oh, so I can get yelled at by everyone else?"

"No, so they don't send other people after you, and you get fired. You know what being fired from the agency means right?" Darien asked her.

"Crazy land, how could I forget," she said angrily as she stormed off to the van.

"Why me?"" Darien sighed as he followed after her.

"Don't ask me, she's your sister," Hobbes told him.

"Cousin...." Darien muttered under his breath, still shocked at the things coming out of his own mouth.

-----------------

"Have fun?" Richie asked as Amanda came into the Keep followed by Darien and Hobbes.

"Yeah…… a blast," Amanda said sarcastically as she sat down in the rolling chair.

"Let's see it," Richie told her. Amanda lifted up her arm.

"Don't need a shot, I was a good girl for the most part today," Amanda fake smiled at him..

"I had to check, don’t want anything to go wrong," he replied as the keep doors opened.

"You're back, thank goodness, I was starting to get worried about you," Claire said as she walked into the keep and saw Amanda.

"Yeah, Sure you were."

Claire sighed and rolled her eyes, going to her computer. "You should give me more credit."

"I will when I feel it's necessary," Amanda said.

"Do you always have to act his way, this whole attitude thing you have?" Darien asked.

"What are you talking about?" Amanda asked back, standing up.

"I think I'll be going now……" Hobbes said.

"I'll go with you," Claire added getting up and heading to the door with him.

"Now you're running everyone out!" Darien shouted at her.

"I didn't say they had to leave."

"Damn, I forgot to go get those test results, I'll be back," Richie said unconvincingly as he got up and followed after Hobbes and Claire out the door.

"Well, since were alone, what attitude is it you're referring too?" she asked.

"This whole attitude, that you know what everyone is thinking, and that you can take off whenever you want. This isn't your old life," Darien explained.

"You think I don't know that? Everything around here is a reminder; I can't even see old friends without it being shoved in my face. I *didn't* ask for this, it was forced on me," She shot at him.

"You gotta remember one thing; you're not the only one stuck here. You think this is where I planned to take my life?"

"I know." She said looking down. "I'm having some trouble ...adjusting."

"I think we all know that. But you're gonna have to try a little harder than you have been," he told her.

"It's hard when the motivation isn't there," she replied.

"Think of it this way, the more you help out, the closer they get to a way to take the gland out," he told her.

"Well now that changes everything," she half-smiled.

"I knew it would," Darien smiled back as the door to the Keep opened.

"Everyone still alive in here?" Hobbes asked as he came back in.

"Only a couple of flesh wounds, nothing serious," Amanda joked as she sat back down.

"Uh, that's good... you have a visitor," he told her.

"Me?" she asked.

"That's what I said."

-----------------

Jonathan smiled nervously at the man and the woman that were standing in the hall with him. He had come in and asked about Amanda, and they had sent that guy that was with her cousin to go get her.

"How long have you two known Amanda?" he asked trying to make conversation.

"For some time now," the man said with his arms crossed.

"I'm assuming Darien's told you about me?" he asked, noticing their cold treatment of him. He knew that Amanda's family didn't like him, even Darien. The whole family had been against him since he and Amanda had first met in highschool, and he doubted it would ever change.

"Your name has come up before," the woman said.

"Are you two related? You sound alike..." he said trailing off.

"Hardly," the man said. They collapsed back into an uneasy silence. Jonathan's head snapped up when he heard footsteps and Amanda came around the corner.

"Hi!" he said almost too enthusiastically.

"I hope no one tried to kill you," she said eyeing Richie and Claire as she passed. She stopped and opened her mouth to speak but paused and looked at the two keepers. Then she grabbed Jonathan's arm and dragged him down the hall and around the corner.

"So, why are you here?" she asked.

"I came to apologize, I'm sorry I blew up at the restaurant."

"It's okay you had every right, I am... and was being kinda mean," she told him.

"No, if there's things going on in your life you won't tell me about that's your business," he comforted her, but it still didn’t seem very convincing.

"I want to tell you, believe me, I do... I can't," she said, her eye's starting to well up.

"Whatever it is... I can handle it," He told her cupping her face in his hands and wiping away a tear.

"I can't."

"I'm sorry then," he said letting go of her. "I guess this is your way of blowing me off nicely."

"No, no it's not," she said as she took a hold of his hands so he would look at her.

"Come on, you could never see me and you together, in a family," he said.

"Yes I could, the house, the kids, all of it... it's just not…… not an option right now," she tried to explain, taking in a deep breath. He looked at her and gave her a hug.

"I guess I'll call you sometime," he said, knowing that he probably wouldn't, and if he did nothing would come of it.

"Yeah, sure," she said looking back up, her eye's filled with tears. He kissed her quickly and left.

"I'm sorry," she whispered.

---------

"Where is everyone?" Amanda asked when she walked into the keep to find Richie was the only one there.

"Darien and Hobbes are getting briefed on a mission, Claire went with them, so she wouldn't have to ask about it later," he explained without looking up. Amanda shrugged and sat down in the examination chair.

"Can I ask you a question?" Amanda asked as she stared at the ceiling.

"I'm not stopping you," he replied.

"Have you ever thought about having a family?"

Richie slowly looked over at her and pushed his chair back from where he was sitting.

"Why do you ask?"

"I was just wondering...I mean, with your work and all, have you ever considered that it's not possible?" She asked as she sat up and swung her legs over the side of the chair.

"You mean, for example being kept from having a life because of my job… one that includes having a biosynthetic gland in my head?" he asked as he stood up and walked to stand near the chair with his arms folded.

"Something like that," she told him.

"You're not going to have that thing in your head forever."

"You don't know that."

"Yes I do, Claire and I get closer everyday to finding a way to get it out," he reassured her.

"But what if by the time you do it's too late?"

"You need to stop thinking like that. Trust me. Having a family isn't always what it's cracked up to be."

"How do you know?" she asked curiously.

"Classified," her replied with a little smile.

"I'll figure you out someday" she said pointing a finger at him as she got up.

"You’re welcome to try," he told her as he went and sat back down in front of the computer.

"Oh don't worry, I will. You know too much about me and I don't know very much about you."

"That's how it's supposed to work."

"I never follow the rules," she smiled as she turned to leave.

"Amanda……" Richie said getting her attention before she walked out the door.

"Don't worry, it won't be too late," he told her. She smiled weakly and continued out the door.

Richie paused for a moment before going back to work, realizing that he actually meant what he said, and he didn't want it to be to late for her. He shook his head as he sat back down to continue what he was doing. He need to get his mind off of this for a while.

-----------

Amanda walked up the stairs to her apartment slowly. It was the end of the worst birthday she had ever had. She slowly walked down the hall, and fumbled her keys before opening the door.

"What the.." was all she got out when she opened the door to find Darien, Hobbes, Claire, Eberts, and Richie.

"What's going on?" she asked with a smile, though she was pretty sure she knew.

"It's a little last minute, but we managed to put something together," Darien said. "Thought you might deserve something," he said. She smiled as she went to sit down on the couch.

"Why is Eberts here?" she whispered to Darien.

"We needed someone organized enough to plan something like this, and we couldn't ask him to do that then tell him he couldn't come," he whispered back.

"Of course," she said.

"I know your talking about me," Eberts said from the chair he was sitting in. Both Darien and Amanda looked over and smiled sheepishly.

"Here," Claire said handing her a package as she sat down in a chair next to Hobbes.

"A present?" Amanda asked.

"It's your birthday isn't it?" she asked.

"Yeah." Amanda said as she opened it. "Wow."

"I thought you might need it, your wardrobe's becoming only slightly less appalling than Darien's," she said as Amanda looked at the shirt Claire had bought her.

"Hey!" Darien protested.

"But you look nice the way you dress… it just takes some getting used to," she tried to reassure him.

"Here," Hobbes said breaking the tension as he handed Amanda a book set with a bow on top.

"Wow, the boxed lord of the Rings set, I've been after these for a while," she said as she looked them over.

"I know, I remembered you telling Darien about it," he said.

"Thanks," she said.

Darien picked up a package off the table and handed it to her.

"That's from me," Eberts piped up. Amanda started unwrapping it.

"Oh my God! I wanted this game for my computer forever...but it was always sold out...how did you get this?" she said looking at Eberts.

"I had an extra lying around the house," he shrugged.

"Thanks Albert," she smiled.

"And I bought the cake," Darien said as he got up and went over to get it out of the kitchen. Everyone got up to follow, but before Amanda could get up, Richie stopped her. He handed her an envelope, and she looked at him skeptically as she opened it, and looked back up at him with her mouth hanging open.

"I can't believe this." she said.

"It's just a little help…for when you get out of the Agency. You need to finish college, and I thought night school would be your best option," he said.

"Yeah, but you practically just put me in here, aren't there requirements and……" He cut her off with a hand motion.

"A few well placed phone calls, and some good letters of recommendation go a long way," he said. "Besides you're going to need to be able to help support that family you want someday."

Amanda smiled and stood up. She then hugged him, noticing that he clenched up a bit first, but relaxed after a moment.

Richie was surprised at first, but gave her a little hug back as the shock wore off.

"Thank you," she said before walking into the kitchen.

*Detachment.., remember.... detachment. This is to gain her trust...remember that* he told himself before following after her.

With a safe home, and a warm bed, on a quiet little street. All she wants is that something to hold on to, that's all she needs. We run away…… If I could be like that, I would give anything, just to live one day, in those shoes, If I could be like that, what would I do?

-3 doors down, If I could be like that