This week's MWC was suggested by a Forumlander preparing for a yard sale. The idea was simple, what if Immortal's had garage sales? After all, things tend to accumulate over the years, and when those years turn into centuries...

For this one I decided to give Duncan a break, since I already had someone else in mind-- Who else would acquire a collection of Stuff more than dear Amanda? On a whim, I gave the Forum's HonorH a minor role, because I knew she liked Raven; and because she always read my writing. More on her reaction later.

Once again, The Ghost Cat presents:

Pack Rat: A Mid Week Challenge

When the shockingly blonde woman stepped into le blues bar everything stopped. She adopted a casual "what are you looking at?" attitude while carrying two bulging shopping bags to a corner table, but inwardly she cringed. Amanda always loved getting attention, but there was still a part of her that was truly horrified by the thought of being memorable. "Thatís it," she thought to herself, "the hairís gotta go. Maybe itís time to go back to the red again." It had, after all, been her natural colour; not that she actually had anything resembling a natural hair colour after nearly a century of dye-jobs. Immortality may keep a girl alive, and young, and healthy; but it still had its limitations.

The owner himself came over to the table, an older man, American, with greying hair and a neatly trimmed beard. Amanda secretly thought that the cane made him looked more distinguished. He greeted her with a warm smile and a soft chuckle, "Amanda, what brings you here?"

She returned his smile with a flippant laugh of her own; "Canít a girl just stop by to listen to a little music?" Dawson didnít believe her for a second. "I know you like the blues, but not that much. Besides, the bands donít start until evening."

Amanda gave an adorable little pout that really was wasted on the old Watcher. "Fine, be that way. Have you see Nick lately?" She waved a credit card. Joe thought he could almost see a wisp of steam coming off it, but then, he had always been a touch too imaginative. "I promised Iíd return this."

Dawson looked twice at the light-fingered lady "Give it back? Are you sure youíre okay?" This, of course, provoked another disarming sulk. "All right, He might have stopped by. I think he said something about some overdue spring-cleaning. He had a set of keys with him."

Amandaís eyes went wide with shock. The warehouse! He wouldnít; he couldnít. Damn him, he probably would. Leaping to her feet, she almost tripped over her loot. "Joe, can you have this stuff sent back to my place? I gotta go; itís an emergency! Thanks, youíre a sweetheart, bye." All this and out the door before he could say a word. With a long sigh and a weary shake of the head, Dawson calls over one of his waiters.

Nick Wolfe checked the address again. The boxy steel warehouse looked out of place in Paris, but even the City of Light wasnít immune to rampant consumerism, and people needed some place to store their excess. Stepping inside, he saw that it was subdivided into smaller storage rooms that could be rented monthly, yearly or (in the case of certain unusual clients) by the decade. He passed by several doors looking for the one he needed; the name "MacLeod" caught his attention, but he couldnít for the life of him remember why.

When he finally fit key to lock, the sight that greeted him left Nick speechless. Forget the noble Raven, what we were dealing with here was a genuine Parisian pack rat. He was just starting to open an overflowing wardrobe when a piercing scream split the air. One hand twitched to grab his gun, but he already knew who heíd see when he turned around.

Amanda stood in the doorway like an avenging angel. Hell hath no fury like a woman whose stash is threatened. "Nick Wolfe, how dare you? This is all mine, and I worked hard for it. I earned it."

"Donít you mean you acquired it?"

"Acquiring things is hard work."

"Well, some of it has to go. This is ridiculous." He picked up an object at random from a pile, "Look at this, I donít even know what it is."

She snatched the item from his grasp. "That was my first lockpick, it has sentimental value."

"I thought a pick was supposed to be a delicate instrument, this looks more like a small crowbar."

"The locks werenít that delicate back then either." Nick ignored the attempt to lighten his mood.

"At least get rid of the clothes. What do all those Ladies magazines say? Anything you havenít worn in the last 6 months. Iíd bet you some of this hasnít been worn in over 6 centuries!"

"Nick youíre being totally unfair!" Amanda tried every trick she knew: she pouted, she sulked, she charmed, and she distracted-- all to no avail. If there was one thing more difficult to move than a Scotsman it was an ex-cop, and Nick Wolfe would not budge. There were tears in her eyes as Amanda settled in to sort through boxes.

The whole thing could probably be counted as the most bizarre yard sale in history. The place was all but taken over for several hours by an odd group who pawed through everything, exclaimed over the most trivial item, and asked too many questions. One of them, whom her friends called Honour H, seemed to be trying to cover up her T-shirt, when she wasnít staring at Nick. Amanda was almost certain she saw the word "Highlander" printed on it, but she had no time to think of such things. "Whatís this?" someone asked, examining a serrated throwing knife. "Itís a ginzu," she lied easy, turning on the charm as they talked price. Bargaining wasnít her favourite hobby, but it was kind of fun.

By the end of the week, a drama school had a whole new set of period costumes, a hobby archaeologist had nearly had a heart attack, and Amandaís endless collection of Things had been pared down considerably. It had been hard letting go of her "treasures." Nevertheless, she felt that strange sense of selfless satisfaction that Duncan had been trying to explain to her for years. Besides, now she had enough money to go shopping again. Oh, and in all the excitement, Amanda never did remember to return Nickís credit card.

HonorH did read my Challenge, as usual, and left a comment. She loved the story, but was disappointed that the attractive young woman in the T-shirt hadn't stolen Nick away. I responded that I didn't remember saying that the woman was attractive. This lead to a flurry of mock-flame postings back and forth. All in all, it was fun, and I took it as a compliment.
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