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On the smoking porch, for old times' sake, Angelo shares his news with Amanda and makes her an offer.


A lot had changed around the mansion since Xorn's patch-up job, but the small porch off the kitchen at the back of the building was still the place the smokers congregated for their nicotine fix. Amanda looked somewhat nostalgically at the battered fire bucket full of sand that still served as a place for butts, although their were definitely fewer in there these days. And no Cain to grumble about them potentially setting the building on fire. She leaned on the railing, looking out over the back yard, now filled with golden afternoon light, and exhaled blue smoke into the air. Just like old times.

And just like old times, the door opened behind her and light footsteps approached. "Room for another one?"

"For you? Always," Amanda said, turning to grin at him. She dug in the pocket of her shorts and pulled out a packet of cigarettes. "'S the good Turkish ones. Had a job in Istanbul and picked up a couple of packs. If I'd had more time, it would have been a carton."

"Nice."  He came forward to lean on the railing beside her.  "I never did find a place to get the best kind in New York, or not reliable."

She passed him the cigarettes and grinned again. "Maybe I can help out, talk to my people. Which in this case, is a whole city. New York might be cranky these past six months, but it still likes me."

He fished one out and lit it before handing the packet back.

"Does New York know details like that?"

Amanda nodded. "It's more of a 'show, don't tell' thing - if I think about something I want and 'port, I usually wind up at New York's best option for it. Most of the time. The only downside is sometimes I wind up across the bloody globe 'cause I had a hankering for curry." She laughed. "Not that that's entirely a bad thing, but I'd rather not repeat the waking up in weird places thing."

He grinned.  "Yeah, it must be pretty mind-twisting if it isn't where you went to sleep.  And I don't guess your cities would drop you in a nice soft bed when that happens."

"All I can say is, there's a reason I started wearing PJs to bed again," she replied with a snort. "Well, that and living here again. Wouldn't do to scar some kid for life if there's an emergency and no time for pants."

He chuckled.  "The kids around here mostly aren't that hard to scar.  A couple of the more sheltered ones, maybe... mind you, Ray claimed to be after the time she broke in again and found JP sleeping naked."

"Serves her right for not knocking like a normal person," was Amanda's reply. She glanced over at Angelo. "So you two are still going strong?"

"This is what I tell her", he said, laughing, then nodded.  "We really are.  Speaking of, I've got some news."

"Oh?" Amanda took a drag on her cigarette, raising her eyebrows.

Angelo grinned at her.

"How do you like the sound of being a best woman?"

"Best wo-- wait, what?" She stared at him, completely floored. "You mean you and Sparky..."

"We've talked about it", he said simply.  "No concrete plans yet, but it's legal, we talked about it and we both want to.  So it's pretty definitely going to happen."

"Must be something in the water," Amanda muttered, but she smiled at Angelo. "What brought this on? I never saw JP as the marrying type. Too bourgeois for him."

"You'd be surprised, he brought it up."  He smiled back.  "Might have been half a joke at first, but when we actually started talking about it..."

"Just when you think you know someone..." Amanda said, shaking her head. She was still processing, and there was a small pang of regret for what might have been. Then again, they'd had their shot. Abruptly, she turned and gave him a hug. "Congrats, mate," she said, squeezing him tightly. "Make sure he takes good care of you."

He leaned contentedly against her shoulder, hugging her back.

"We'll take good care of each other.  So how about it?"

"Best woman?" Amanda let him go and gave him a mischievous look that harkened back to the sixteen year old she'd been. "Only if I get to arrange the stag night."

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