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A Trick Worth Two Of That

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"Uh uh. Nice try, trickster."

Gabe quickly rearranges his expression into his most winning smile, but the mortal must have seen the surprise flicker across his face. He takes a long look at her, searching for some tell-tale scrap of Otherness draped around her shoulders, woven through her hair, glinting in her eyes or shining out of her smile. He doesn't find anything, but he's been wrong before.

"Gabe," he says, offering her his hand.

"Oh, I know. Emilie warned me about you." She takes it anyway. Gabe's always said you can learn a lot about a person by looking at their hands. Amanda's are surprisingly strong, clean, nails unpainted and cut short. Good hands, Gabe thinks. Capable hands.

And then it catches up with him.

"Wait," he says. "Emilie warned you?"

There aren't many things that scare Gabe, but Emilie is one of them. She could (and would, if he gave her a reason) crush him without a second thought. Gabe swallows uncomfortably, and Amanda quirks a perfectly drawn eyebrow in amusement. "Relax," she says. "She's not coming after you. Not yet, anyway."

That's a relief. But then he thinks about the fact that he was hitting on Emilie's mortal, and his life flashes before his eyes. It's quite a life.

Now he looks at Amanda again, he can see it. There's this tangled, winestained beauty that clings to her, just the kind that would have caught Emilie's eye. Emilie always did like pretty things, silver teaspoons and perfectly balanced knives and interesting strangers.

Amanda picks up her glass, half full of amber liquid and pale chunks of ice, and drinks. She seems so at ease, aware of Gabe and what he is, but - unaffected. Neither wide-eyed deer nor dusty-winged moth. He doesn't know how he could have missed it before, of course she's Emilie's.

"So," she says, cradling the glass in her hand. "What brings you here?"

He snorts. "To Chicago, or to this dive?"

"Either. Both."

"I fucked up," he says. The honesty feels strange, almost uncomfortable. "I was just gonna drink until I had the balls to go apologies."

She chuckles and clinks her glass against his. "Here's to liquid courage, huh?" she says dryly. She steps down from her barstool and waves to the hulking bartender, who cracks a smile for her.

"Wait," Gabe says. She turns back, her eyebrows raised questioningly. "You won't, uh. Tell Emilie you saw me, right?"

"I won't tell if you won't," she says solemnly, and pats his cheek in a way that's almost condescending. He isn't used to being condescended by mortals. "Bye, Gabe. Nice meeting you."

It isn't until long after she's gone that he realizes what that wave to the bartender was about. He shakes his head as he pays for her drink along with his own. One day, he's going to learn to stay away from tricksy mortals capable of beating him at his own game.

Speaking of which, it's time for that apology. He gets up, a little unsteady on his feet, and goes to find Bill.