Archive: Sure, let me know where
Feedback: Always wanted and appreciated
Time Frame: Not long after ATWAS
Written: Fall 2000
Notes: This story is in answer to a challenge posted on the egroups archive site. The original challenge was posted by Ruirui.
The sun shone brightly through the Q bureau windows. It was a beautiful day. The gentility of the morning was in contrast to the interior atmosphere of the room where Lee and Amanda were in the process of a good-natured disagreement.
"Amanda," Lee sounded exasperated, as if trying to explain why the sky is blue to a small child. "There is no point in arguing about this. I can't believe you'd even make such a statement."
"First of all, we are not arguing. Secondly, it wasn't a statement, it was a dare, one I've noticed you have not yet accepted." She smiled that sweet smile that always made Lee's heart beat faster.
"I wish she wouldn't smile at me like that; she has no idea what it does to me," he thought silently. "Amanda," he replied, "I haven't accepted it because it's ridiculous."
"You're chicken! I don't believe it, the great Scarecrow is afraid of a challenge from little old me!" Amanda sat smugly behind her desk, hands folded neatly on top of the blotter.
Lee threw his hands up in the air in defeat. This debate had been going on for a solid twenty minutes, and he was getting tired. "Fine, if you really want to do this, let's do it. What do I get when I win?" He sounded very confident, and why not? He knew she didn't stand a chance. He just hoped it wouldn't be too discouraging to her.
"I thought it'd be interesting to each write down what we want for winning. Then, we'll seal them in envelopes and only open the appropriate one when needed." She hoped she wouldn't have to tell him what she wanted to win. They'd only been dating for two weeks, and she didn't want to scare him off by moving too quickly, but this was so important to her and something she really wanted to have happen.
Lee looked at her for a moment, trying desperately to read her face. "She's gotten too good at keeping her emotions hidden," he thought, "I've trained her too well." After a brief pause, he smiled and nodded; "Okay, but we have to give the envelopes to a third party. That way they'll be no confusion later and no temptation to sneak a peak."
"Agreed. Let's do it then!"
In silence they sat for a few seconds before each of them started writing a short note. When both of the envelopes where sealed and labeled as to which was which, Amanda said, "I think we should give these to Billy. He'll be impartial." And he won't snoop like some people, she thought to herself.
Together they headed down to the bullpen. It had been quiet at the Agency for the past week or so, so when they walked in everyone looked up. There were murmured voices all around the room, as was typical whenever they appeared together lately. Francine approached them and leaned in close as she whispered, "Alright you two, what's up?"
"What do mean Francine?" Lee asked her pointedly.
"What I mean is, you two appear very determined and way too serious for there not to be something big going down. So what is it and why didn't I know about until now?"
"Francine," Amanda began, "there is nothing going on. We just need to speak with Mr. Melrose for a minute. Now if you'll excuse us." With that, both of them walked around Francine and Lee knocked on Billy's door before letting himself in.
"Yeah, sure there's nothing going on. I hate being out of the loop!" Francine moaned as she made her way back to her desk.
Billy looked up when they entered and smiled. He loved seeing them together, even if they didn't seem to realize how perfect they were for each other. "What can I do for two of my favorite people today?" He asked in a lighthearted tone that surprised both of his guests. Although Billy was often in a good mood when work wasn't too harrowing, this sounded absolutely playful.
The couple stood in front of his desk and handed him the sealed envelopes that held their fate. "Sir, we would like to ask you to hold onto these for us." Amanda tried to sound business like, but knowing the true contents of her envelope made her voice slightly squeaky, a fact which did not escape either Lee or Billy.
"Well, what's in them?"
Lee looked at Amanda, who had lowered her gaze to study with great intensity the pattern in her plaid skirt. Sighing, he said, "Wagers."
"Wagers? On what? And why are they sealed up?"
"Amanda and I have a small bet going, and we decided to keep our individual wagers a secret from each other until a winner is declared." He hoped this sounded like a simple thing between two friends, but he could see by the smile growing across his boss's face that he understood the potential ramifications of a wager between these two particular friends.
"In that case, I'd be happy to hold them for you. When will this little contest be over?"
"Very soon," Lee replied with an air of confidence that Billy knew would be his undoing eventually. Amanda was the first to turn and head for the door, still keeping her head slightly down in order to hide her blush.
After leaving the bullpen, they next headed for Leatherneck's office. He would have to be present for the competition. AS THEY ENTERED, THEIR FRIEND AND COWORKER LOOKED UP FROM THE REPORTS HE'D BEEN READING. "TO WHAT DO I OWE THIS PLEASURE?" HE ASKED OF THE AGENTS STANDING BEFORE HIM.
"LEATHERNECK, WE NEED YOUR HELP. WE WOULD LIKE YOU TO HANDCUFF EACH OF US AND THEN TIME US FOR ESCAPING." LEE STATED IT SO MATTER OF FACTLY THAT FOR A MOMENT, LEATHERNECK WASN'T SURE HE'D HEARD HIM RIGHT.
"ARE YOU KIDDING?" HE ASKED WHEN HE FOUND HIS VOICE AGAIN.
"NO, WE HAVE A SMALL WAGER ON IT," LEE SAID HOPING TO DOWNPLAY THEIR BETS.
"I SEE. YOU KNOW OF COURSE THAT THIS IS VERY UNUSUAL AND WOULD PROBABLY BE FROWNED UPON BY THE POWERS THAT BE."
"YEAH, YEAH, WE KNOW. LOOK, CAN WE JUST GET ON WITH IT PLEASE?" LEE WAS BEGINNING TO FEEL A LITTLE UNCOMFORTABLE ABOUT THE WHOLE THING. AND AMANDA HADN'T SAID A WORD SINCE LEAVING BILLY'S OFFICE. HE HAD TRIED TO REMIND HER THAT THIS WHOLE THING WAS HER IDEA, BUT ALL SHE WOULD DO IS NOD.
AS AMANDA LISTENED TO LEE AND LEATHERNECK TALKING, SHE KEPT THINKING OF WHAT SHE HAD WRITTEN ON THAT LITTLE SLIP OF PAPER NOW SITTING ON BILLY'S DESK. SHE ALMOST HOPED SHE DIDN'T WIN THIS BET BECAUSE SHE STILL WASN'T SURE WHAT LEE'S REACTION WOULD BE IF SHE DID. ON THE OTHER HAND, LEE WAS WAY TOO SURE OF HIMSELF AND HE NEEDED TO BE KNOCKED DOWN A FEW NOTCHES AND SHE WAS JUST THE PERSON FOR THE JOB. SHE BEGAN TO SMILE.
LEE NOTICED A SLOW SMILE COME ACROSS AMANDA'S FACE AS LEATHERNECK GOT OUT THE CUFFS AND BEGAN PLACING A PAIR ON LEE'S WRISTS. "I WONDER WHAT THAT'S FOR," HE THOUGHT TO HIMSELF.
SOON, THEY WERE BOTH CUFFED BEHIND THEIR BACKS AND LEATHERNECK HAD THE STOPWATCH READY TO GO. "ARE YOU SURE YOU WANT TO DO THIS?" HE ASKED ONE LAST TIME. HE KNEW WHAT THE OUTCOME WOULD BE, BUT HE COULDN'T WAIT TO SEE IT FOR HIMSELF.
"TELL US WHEN TO START," WAS ALL LEE SAID IN REPLY.
"READY, SET, GO!"
THEY EACH GRASPED THEIR LOCKPICKS AND BEGAN WORKING SIMULTANEOUSLY ON THE LOCKS. WITHIN SECONDS, AMANDA HAD ONE HAND FREE AND WAS WORKING THE OTHER. IT TOOK HER TWELVE SECONDS TO HAND THE CUFFS BACK TO LEATHERNECK. TURNING AROUND, SHE SAW LEE WAS JUST REMOVING HIS SECOND HAND FROM THE CUFFS. FIFTEEN SECONDS AFTER HAVING THEM PLACED ON.
LEE HAD LOST. HE HAD BEEN SO INTENT ON HIS TASK THAT HE DIDN'T EVEN REALIZE THAT AMANDA WAS ALREADY DONE UNTIL HE TURNED TOWARDS LEATHERNECK'S DESK AND SAW HER STANDING THERE, ARMS CROSSED IN FRONT OF HER WAIST AND A HUGE GRIN ACROSS HER FACE.
AFTER RECOVERING FROM THE SHOCK HE SAID, "YOU KNOW, SOMEONE REALLY SHOULD WIPE THAT SMIRK FROM YOUR FACE. IT'S NOT VERY ATTRACTIVE." HE STARTED TO LEAN IN TO KISS HER BEFORE REALIZING THAT LEATHERNECK WAS IN THE ROOM. HE MOVED SLIGHTLY TO THE SIDE AS IF IT HAD BEEN HIS INTENTION ALL ALONG TO SIMPLY PLACE HIS PAIR OF CUFFS ON THE DESK BEHIND AMANDA.
"I GUESS YOU WIN MRS. KING. WHAT IS THY BIDDING MY MASTER, OR IS IT MISTRESS," LEE SAID WITH A VERY SEDUCTIVE SMILE AFTER MOVING OUT OF LEATHERNECK'S OFFICE TO THE HALLWAY.
AMANDA BLUSHED UNDER HIS SCRUTINY, BUT CONTINUED WALKING TOWARD THE BULLPEN. "I SUPPOSE YOU'LL KNOW IN A FEW MINUTES," SHE TOSSED OVER HER SHOULDER TO HIM. HE SHOOK HIS HEAD AND SMILED AS HE WENT TO CATCH UP WITH HER. SHE WAS INCREDIBLY NERVOUS, BUT DIDN'T WANT IT TO SHOW.
TOGETHER THEY CALMLY WALKED INTO BILLY'S OFFICE AGAIN AND ASKED FOR THEIR ENVELOPES. HE SMILED OBLIGINGLY AND OFFERED THEM UP. "DO I AT LEAST GET TO KNOW WHO WON?" HE ASKED POLITELY, WHAT HE REALLY WANTED TO KNOW WAS WHAT THE PRIZE WAS. THEY SHOOK THEIR HEADS IN UNISON, THANKED HIM QUIETLY AND LEFT THE OFFICE FOR THE ELEVATOR.
AFTER REACHING THE Q BUREAU, AMANDA HANDED LEE HER ENVELOPE AND SAID, "YOUR TASK." SHE THEN PICKED UP HER PURSE AND WALKED OUT TO HER CAR.
MOMENTS LATER, LEE CAME DOWN THE STAIRS AND MRS. MARSTEN STOPPED HIM AT HER DESK, "WHAT WAS MRS. KING BEAMING ABOUT? SHE WALKED OUT OF HERE LOOKING LIKE THE CAT THAT ATE THE CANARY."
"IT'S NOTHING," LEE ANSWERED AS NONCHALANTLY AS HE COULD. "WE
JUST HAD A LITTLE BET GOING AND SHE WON. NO BIG DEAL." HE TURNED
WITH A SMILE AND HEADED BACK UP TO THEIR OFFICE. WHEN HE ENTERED
HE PICKED THE PIECE OF PAPER UP AND READ IT AGAIN, TO BE SURE.
"COME TO MY HOUSE TONIGHT AT 7:00. PICK ME UP AT THE FRONT DOOR FOR DINNER. COME INSIDE AND MEET MY FAMILY BEFORE WE GO."
HE SHOOK HIS HEAD IN BEWILDERMENT. IT WASN'T POSSIBLE. IT
JUST COULDN'T BE. SLOWLY HE PICKED UP THE OTHER ENVELOPE, THE ONE
HE HAD SLIPPED HIS DESIRE INTO ONLY A COUPLE OF HOURS EARLIER. WITH
A DEEP BREATH, HE OPENED IT AND PULLED THE PAPER OUT. IT SAID:
"I WANT TO PICK YOU UP FOR DINNER AT THE FRONT DOOR OF YOUR HOUSE.
BUT MORE THAN THAT, I WANT TO COME IN AND MEET YOUR FAMILY TOO."
HE LAUGHED ALOUD BEFORE PLACING BOTH PIECES OF PAPER IN HIS POCKET. THEN HE PICKED UP HIS CAR KEYS AND LEFT.
AT 6:55 THAT EVENING HE WAS PARKED IN FRONT OF AMANDA'S HOUSE. HE WAS NERVOUS, THERE WAS NO DENYING THAT, BUT HE WAS ALSO EXCITED. HE FREED HIMSELF OF THE CONFINES OF THE CAR AND STRODE PURPOSEFULLY TO THE FRONT DOOR.
WHEN AMANDA'S MOTHER ANSWERED THE DOOR, SHE LOOKED HIM UP AND DOWN AND THEN GAVE AN APPROVING SMILE. HE INTRODUCED HIMSELF TO HER, "HELLO. YOU MUST BE MRS. WEST. I'M LEE STETSON, BUT PLEASE, CALL ME LEE."
"ONLY IF YOU WILL CALL ME DOTTY. NOW, PLEASE COME IN AND HAVE A SEAT. AMANDA WILL BE RIGHT DOWN. SHE'S BANDAGING UP JAMIE'S KNEE. HE TOOK A PRETTY GOOD FALL OFF HIS BIKE TONIGHT AND WAS BLEEDING QUITE A BIT."
THEY MADE SMALL TALK FOR A FEW MINUTES UNTIL FINALLY NOTICING AMANDA STANDING BY THE STAIRS. SHE'D BEEN WATCHING THEM FOR A SHORT TIME AND ENJOYING EVERY MINUTE OF IT. LEE APPROACHED HER THERE AND TOOK HER HAND IN HIS. HE PULLED IT TO HIS LIPS AND GAVE IT A SOFT KISS. HER MOTHER SMILED AND PLACED HER FOLDED HANDS OVER HER HEART.
AMANDA INTRODUCED LEE TO BOTH PHILLIP AND JAMIE AND AFTER A SHORT INQUISITION ABOUT WHERE THEY WERE GOING AND HOW LATE THEY WOULD BE, THE COUPLE WALKED HAND IN HAND OUT TO THE CAR.
BEFORE LEE STARTED THE ENGINE, HE LOOKED AT HER. SHE SMILED SHYLY AND SAID SHE WAS GLAD THAT HE CAME TO THE FRONT DOOR. SHE TOLD HIM THAT SHE HAD BEEN AFRAID SHE MIGHT BE RUSHING THINGS FOR HIM, BUT THAT IT WAS VERY IMPORTANT TO HER THAT HE MEET HER FAMILY.
AFTER SHE NOTICED HIS AMUSED GRIN, SHE ASKED WHAT WAS SO FUNNY. HE PULLED OUT BOTH SLIPS OF PAPER FROM HIS JACKET POCKET AND HANDED THEM TO HER. SHE READ THEM BOTH IN SILENCE, RECOGNIZING HER OWN NEAT HANDWRITING AND LEE'S SOMEWHAT HURRIED SCRIBBLING. WHEN SHE WAS DONE, SHE LOOKED AT HIM ASTONISHED.
"REALLY. DID YOU REALLY WRITE THIS BEFORE THE CONTEST? IT'S TOO WEIRD THAT WE WERE BOTH THINKING THE SAME THING."
"I KNOW, BUT YOU KNOW WHAT ELSE? I THINK WE'RE THINKING THE SAME THING RIGHT NOW." HE LEANED OVER AND KISSED HER.
"UM," SHE STARTED AS THE KISS ENDED, "YOU'RE RIGHT. WE WERE."
THEY SMILED AT EACH OTHER, HELD HANDS, AND STARTED OFF FOR DINNER.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: I'M SORRY ABOUT THE CAPS THING, I DON'T KNOW WHAT HAPPENED AND COULDN'T SEEM TO GET IT FIXED. MY HUSBAND IS OUT OF TOWN CAMPING WITH BUDDIES, SO I DIDN'T HAVE HIM AROUND TO FIX IT EITHER. I KNOW IT MAKES IT HARD TO READ, AND AGAIN I'M SORRY. I HOPE YOU ENJOYED IT DESPITE THE CAPS.