Title: I Don't Want A Lot For Christmas
Series: All I Want For Christmas (Is You)
Feedback address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Date in Calendar: 23 December 2013
Pairing: Nikita Mears/Amanda Collins
Word Count: ~2400 for this part
Summary: Amanda has no holiday spirit, and no holiday plans. Nikita is not okay with this...
Advertisement: Part of the FSAC:DD11
Author's Notes: Set during Nikita's first Christmas as a full agent.
I don't want a lot for Christmas -
there is just one thing I need.
I don't care about the presents
underneath the Christmas tree.
I just want you for my own,
more than you could ever know.
Make my wish come true -
all I want for Christmas is you...
Mariah Carey, All I Want For Christmas Is You
It was all Amanda's fault, really - or at least that was Nikita's considered opinion on the matter. Not that Amanda was especially likely to see it that way, she realized as two imposing but impeccably polite security officers escorted her up to Amanda's penthouse.
Still, this entire situation could have been avoided if Amanda had just answered the damn question the first time Nikita had asked it. It wasn't as if she'd been asking for a GPS location or anything - even a vague answer would have done the trick…
Nikita's fatigue - and her annoyance at her no-show target - faded as Amanda walked up beside her, clearly on her way out for the night too. "We just got confirmation that your target never left Athens. We'll try again next week."
Nikita just shrugged even as she kept walking, waving one hand at Amanda to acknowledge the update. "Whatever."
Then, caught in a sudden fit of curiosity, Nikita stopped and turned to walk back to Amanda, who was just standing there shaking her head a little at Nikita's response. "Amanda - where do you go when you leave here?"
"Very good, Nikita." Amanda just smiled in typical Amanda fashion, seeming both pleased and amused at once. Rumor had it that that particular combination could be dangerous, but there was a certain indulgence underneath it that was a hallmark of her conversations with Nikita. "It usually takes the new agents several years to ask me that question."
Nikita, never having been on anyone's timetable but her own, couldn't help the smugness in her own smile and voice. "So how long does it take to get an answer?"
"I don't know," Amanda finally said, head tilting slightly as she eyed Nikita. "I haven't given one yet."
Nikita had laughed and laughed at that, conceding Amanda her victory - only to receive an identical brush-off when she posed the question a couple days later. She got a slightly different, and much more pointed, brush-off when she asked again a few days after that - at which point the unresolved question began to eat at her in a way she couldn't ignore.
It had taken a few days - and a few false starts - before Nikita had the chance to do anything about it, though. She wasn't stupid or foolhardy enough to try to poke around the Division databases for Amanda's address, or even start asking her fellow agents if they knew where Amanda lived. Instead, she did exactly what Michael had taught her to do - she used every bit of skill at her command to discretely follow Amanda back to her home.
She wasn't exactly sure what she'd expected - a big, fancy, and very old mansion somewhere near Division, maybe? - but the upscale apartment building a couple hours away in New York City seemed strangely appropriate once she thought about it a minute. The arrangement made even more sense the next time she tailed Amanda back home and she realized that Amanda apparently had the building's penthouse suite.
She probably could have left it at that, content that Amanda was both secure and comfortable, if she hadn't stumbled across the damn necklace while shopping and decided it would make a perfect Christmas present for Amanda. She'd purchased it right away, not even bothering to check the price tag, and then brought it with her to give Amanda before it occurred to her that it might not be appropriate to give the other woman such an expensive gift, especially at work.
Nikita was quite proud of having picked the gift out herself - it had been worth every penny even at ridiculous boutique prices - but she clearly needed to find a way to give it to Amanda outside of work. The only trouble there was that she hardly saw Amanda much at work anymore since making full agent - outside of mission prep, anyway - and certainly never saw her at all outside Division.
The solution she'd reached while half-asleep one night seemed pretty genius to her - she'd just slip into the lobby of the apartment building and leave it at the desk so that they could pass it on to Amanda for her. It continued to seem like a genius idea right up to the point where the clerk behind the desk - who she'd never met before - identified her by name and insisted on escorting her up to see Amanda in person.
It wasn't a hard puzzle to solve - Amanda had clearly realized that Nikita had been following her home and alerted the front desk in case she tried to enter the building - but Nikita couldn't predict exactly what mood Amanda would be in once they reached the penthouse.
On the one hand, Amanda didn't usually fuss too much anymore about Nikita's more impulsive moments, preferring to let her hone her instincts - and would probably be amused at all the trouble Nikita had gone through just to give her a Christmas gift. On the other, Nikita was suddenly struck with the realization that she'd most definitely invaded Amanda's privacy, even if she'd never meant to.
The security officers - polite as ever - pulled Nikita out of her thoughts as the elevator finally reached the penthouse. They escorted her out of the elevator and into the foyer, where Amanda was waiting - Amanda thanked them for bringing Nikita up, assuring them that there was nothing further for them to worry about, and they left without another word to Nikita.
One glance into those blue eyes once they were alone in that foyer was enough to confirm every fear Nikita had had about her reception - Amanda was clearly pissed, for all that she kept her voice even as she finally acknowledged Nikita's presence. "Hello, Nikita."
Nikita could almost hear Amanda's inward sigh as she studied her unexpected guest's face - Nikita knew her expression just then was appropriately, and genuinely, embarrassed, and hoped it would help smooth over Amanda's temper. It seemed to work, at least a little, because Amanda's voice when she spoke again held more irritation than actual anger. "We talked about this, Nikita - I thought I had made it perfectly clear that I wasn't going to give you my address just to satisfy your idle curiosity."
The object of Amanda's irritation found herself unable to do much more than stare down at her shuffling feet. Feeling oddly like a schoolgirl being chastened by her teacher, she tried to explain that she'd meant no harm - unfortunately the words didn't come out intelligibly, much less correctly. "...present..."
Amanda, already annoyed, apparently couldn't help being even more so at Nikita's botched explanation - not that Nikita really blamed her. "Why are you here, Nikita?"
Amanda's question was as much a command as anything else, and Nikita knew it. She quailed under Amanda's scrutiny for a moment, then lifted her head up, jaw set in a mixture of stubbornness and defiance as she explained herself. "I only followed you here twice before today. I wouldn't even have come inside but I wanted to leave your Christmas present at the front desk for you as a surprise."
Incredulity - still tinged with irritation - laced every syllable of Amanda's response. "You did all this just to give me a Christmas present?"
The negative reaction to what was supposed to be a nice, friendly gesture stung a little, but Nikita reminded herself that Amanda had a right to be upset. There was something off about the entire conversation, though, something Nikita couldn't quite place other than to recognize that it somehow felt much worse than being similarly lectured in Amanda's office…
That was when the realization struck Nikita - there was absolutely nothing of Amanda in this penthouse, lovely and perfectly decorated as it was. Amanda's presence permeated every square inch of her office at Division, from the classical music that always played softly in the background, to the well-loved tea set that always stood at the ready, to the faint lingering traces of Amanda's perfume that Nikita swore she could always smell even under the scent of the delphiniums Amanda seemed to love so much.
There was nothing at all like that here - just picture-perfect holiday decorations, complete with an equally picture-perfect tree that would rival any retail store display. It was cold, and soulless, and Nikita felt an actual physical pang at the thought of Amanda staying here, presumably alone, for the holidays - that last part, of course, was gut instinct with no proof whatsoever, but it felt right.
Before Nikita could think of some way to verify that, though, the sudden whistling of a kettle from the kitchen startled them both. Nikita jumped a little, but Amanda's only visible reaction was a slightly longer than normal blink as she continued eying Nikita - then she let out a quiet sigh and just pointed over at the doorway to the next room.
Nikita didn't need any further clarification - she went through that doorway into a huge living room that somehow seemed even colder and more impersonal than the foyer had. The fireplace and large, twinkling Christmas tree should have added warmth to the room but somehow couldn't quite manage it - the way that the echo of Amanda's heels against the hardwood floor quickly faded away into silence probably didn't help either.
Whatever conversation they were going to have about Nikita's behavior was obviously going to happen over tea - a strangely reassuring thing to contemplate - so Nikita took a seat to wait for Amanda's return. It gave her a little time to process everything she'd seen in the last few minutes, and she realized that Amanda was apparently living alone in a penthouse that covered an entire floor of the apartment building.
It was a safe bet that it belonged to Division, and was also occasionally used for official Division business, but that didn't make it seem any less lonely or any less sterile. All the times Amanda had laughingly referred to her office as her home away from home suddenly took on an entirely new meaning, and Nikita winced at the thought of Amanda coming home to this huge, empty place each night - hell, the tiny rooms they gave the recruits were more welcoming than this.
The renewed echo of Amanda's heels on the floor gave Nikita just enough time to compose herself before Amanda entered the room carrying a tea tray. Most people would have rushed to assist Amanda with it, but Nikita knew better - she just waited quietly until Amanda had everything arranged to her satisfaction.
Amanda handed Nikita a mug - not a teacup, Nikita absently noted, but a coffee mug decorated with a cute little poinsettia for the holidays - ignoring her own teacup as she took her seat. It was perhaps the only lingering sign of her earlier irritation. "I trust you understand what you did wrong."
Nikita just nodded, relieved that Amanda was nowhere near as angry with her as she could have been. "It was stupid of me, and I'm sorry."
That seemed to be all Amanda needed to hear, since she actually smiled at Nikita. "Well, it is your first Christmas as a full agent, so I suppose I can excuse it this once - as long as it doesn't happen again."
Nikita grinned then went to sip at her tea out of reflex, eyes widening as she realized it wasn't actually tea. She wasn't especially surprised that Amanda had remembered her offhand comment about preferring hot chocolate to tea during the holidays, but she definitely would never have expected Amanda to remember her recently-developed fondness for adding hazelnut syrup to it.
It was a not-so-subtle gesture of forgiveness on Amanda's part, and gave Nikita the courage she needed to start poking around into Amanda's holiday plans. "Tomorrow's Christmas Eve - shouldn't you be getting on a plane to go see your family or something?"
Amanda picked up her teacup and took a sip before settling back into her seat. The look she gave Nikita made it clear that she knew Nikita was digging for something, but she apparently decided to humor her anyway. "My family passed a long time ago, not that we were ever known for our holiday togetherness. I much prefer a quiet day at home, anyway."
She took another sip of her tea, and then changed the subject. "And what about you? I assume you have plans of some sort."
Some agents lamented the forced separation from their families at times like this - Nikita was not one of them, and Amanda knew it. It was the first Christmas that Nikita would be free - more or less - to do what she wanted, and she did indeed have plans, even if they weren't anything fancy. "There's going to be a big Christmas party in my building. I've made a few friends, so it should be fun - even if it isn't, it'll be good for my cover."
Amanda smiled at that, steering the conversation to the strangely more familiar and comfortable ground of Nikita's extended cover and how she was settling into it. They lingered quite amiably over the topic through a second cup of hot chocolate - tea for Amanda, of course - after which Nikita made her excuses and left.
She'd made sure to give Amanda her present before leaving, and Amanda's genuine smile as she did so made her feel a little bit better about Amanda being by herself on Christmas. There was a part of her, though, that just wouldn't be mollified and kept insisting that there had to be something she could do to keep Amanda from being alone.
Somewhere between Amanda's apartment building and her own, Nikita's impulsive side managed to formulate a plan that was actually solid enough to overcome the perfectly justifiable fear her more rational side had of angering Amanda again. Grinning to herself, she started working out what she'd need even as she scarfed down the dinner she'd picked up for herself on the way home…