Time Heals All Wounds

By: Angel Koerkel

Disclaimers: The established characters belong to WB and STM. This story is the property of the author. No copyright infringement is intended.

Written: April - October 2001

Summary: What if someone hadn't immediately forgiven Lee and Amanda for all the lies?

Rated: PG-13 at the most

Timeline: Summer 1998 (assumes ages for Phillip: 25 and Jamie: 23)

Feedback: I'd love it! The more the better. This has not been beta-ed. Please, no flames.

Archive: Here at the fanfic archive, and at ff.n. Anywhere else, please ask first.

Thanks go out to my very best friend in the world. Ironically, she's not a big SMK fan, but she is my #1 fan, and she got me over a major hump with this particular story. Thanks Marcy!

Notes: Some of you may not know me. I've been absent from the discussions for quite a while now. I have been trying to keep up with reading the stories, but RL has barred me from spending the time I'd like commenting and sharing online. I hope to someday have time to share in the talk again, but for now this will have to do.

Now the story!

+++++++++++

For just a moment, Lee couldn't help but think how wonderfully the day had started. He remembered waking up that morning next to Amanda, holding her tightly against his body. He thought of how they'd spent some time talking softly about the day's schedule and of how they'd stopped speaking to enjoy a few intimate moments as husband and wife. As he closed his eyes now, he could picture her nude form walking across their bedroom toward the bathroom for her morning shower. He felt his eyes moisten anew with fresh tears as he wished and prayed that he could turn back the clock to those perfect moments and once again hold his wife. As it was though, he was sitting in the hospital chapel, trying desperately to ignore the blood soaked shirt he was wearing.

Francine entered the dimly lit room cautiously. She'd never known Scarecrow to be a praying man, but if he wasn't praying, he was sleeping and she knew that that was not possible. Slowly, she approached him, her silence a testament to many years of training. "Lee," she began hesitantly.

"Yes, Francine," he choked out without turning to face her. She thought she saw him wipe his eyes.

"Is there anything I can do? Call someone, maybe?" Gently, she laid a hand on his shoulder. "Thanks for the offer, but I need to do that myself," Lee answered. He glanced at his watch and realized how long he'd been in the chapel. "Have they started surgery?" he asked, rising and turning to face his long-time friend, the mask of Scarecrow falling into place simultaneously.

She nodded, "Yeah. A nurse came out and said that it'll be several hours before we know anything. Billy and I are staying with you until we hear, one way or the other."

A sad smile crossed his face. "Thanks, Francine. I appreciate that. Come on," he placed a hand along her back and led her toward, the door, "let's go. I've got some calls to make."

++++++++++++++++

Dotty West picked up the cordless phone from the ground next to her knees. "Hello," she said as she brushed the dirt from her hands. A light brown terrier played in the grass near her.

"Dotty. It's me, Lee."

"Oh, Lee. I'm so glad you called. Lillian called me this morning. She wants me to go on a cruise with her. I wanted to know if you and Amanda could take Ginger for a week. I could put her in a kennel, but..." As she finally paused for a breath, Lee took the opportunity to break in.

"Dotty! Please, listen to me. Dotty, there's been trouble. You need to come down to the hospital."

"Is she okay, Lee?" Suddenly, Dotty's dirty hand began to shake; her whispered voice was barely audible.

"She's in surgery now. I'll explain when you get here."

"I'm on my way." The line went dead before Lee could respond.

His conversation with Jamie went similarly. Lee dreaded the next call he had to make. Billy saw him staring blankly at the pay phone, his hand resting on the receiver. He approached his chief of training operations and offered to help. "Lee? Let me call him for you."

"I wish you could, Billy, but I have to do this myself." Lee shook his head and reached into his pocket for more change.

"He still hasn't gotten over it, has he?"

"No. He keeps in touch with Dotty and Jamie but he hasn't spoken to me in ten years. Unfortunately, he doesn't get a choice this time," Lee explained as he dialed. Billy placed a supportive hand on his friend's back and felt him tense when the line was picked up.

"Hello," the deep male voice answered.

"Hi, Phillip. Please don't hang-up. It's Lee."

+++++++++++

Dotty entered the waiting area and quickly made her way to Billy. "What's happening?" She asked. "How's Amanda? And how's Lee holding up?" She indicated the apparently sleeping form of her son-in-law, now dressed in hospital scrubs, lying across a couch.

"Amanda's still in surgery. We won't know anything for a while. One of the doctors gave Lee a mild sedative. He needed to rest. Jamie and Phillip are both on their way."

At the mention of Phillip's name, Dotty visibly winced. "When will Phillip get here?" She wanted to be prepared.

"His plane gets in from Detroit in about," he checked his watch, "three hours. All the more reason Lee needs to be rested." Billy glanced again at his watch. Subconsciously, he marveled that so much could happen before 10:00 a.m.

"Phillip's still angry, but I'm sure he'll behave considering the circumstances. What happened, Billy? Can you tell me what sent my daughter to the hospital? She and Lee aren't even on field duty anymore."

Signing heavily, Billy nodded. As he began his tale, Francine approached with a tray of coffee cups and took a seat across from Dotty. "Well, a couple of rookie agents got into some trouble during a stake-out. They called for back-up and Lee and Amanda volunteered to go because they had been the primary instructors for these particular agents. Not long after they got to the scene, shots were exchanged. Agent Carlson, one of the rookies, panicked and started to stand-up from her cover. Amanda jumped up and pushed the agent down, but Amanda was hit in the process. The bullet went through her thigh, striking the femoral artery. She lost a lot of blood. Francine had also gone in for back-up and she shot the man responsible. He's in the morgue." As he finished his narrative, Billy Melrose, Director of the Agency, sipped his lukewarm coffee.

Dotty nodded her understanding, and the three of them settled in for a long wait.

Meanwhile, behind Lee's closed eyes, he was remembering another day of catastrophe. The day he and Amanda had told the family everything.

Flashback: Fall 1987:

"Amanda, we've been married six months, and your family - our family - still thinks I'm just your boyfriend! I'm tired of sleeping alone. I know it was my idea, but this secret marriage is just plain stupid! You'd have to be blind to not know we're in love, and..."

"Lee!" Amanda practically screamed into the phone. "Can I get a word in here? I'm sure you practiced a wonderful speech and are prepared for a great debate, and I'm sorry to disappoint you, but I think it's time we told everyone, too." She smiled at the silence on his end.

Lee finally recovered his senses. "Really!? Great! Um, Amanda, now what?"

"You mean you don't know?" She laughed.

"Well, honestly, I thought it'd take a lot more fighting to convince you. So, I haven't thought that far ahead," he answered sheepishly.

They talked long into the night, devising the perfect plan of action.

That Saturday night, after dinner:

"Mom, may I be excused? I'd like to go to Sarah's house." Phillip was already rising from his seat in anticipation of his mother's response.

Lee and Amanda's eyes met across the table. He gave a slight nod, and she sighed deeply before saying, "Actually, Phillip, I need you to stay home for a while. We're going to have a family meeting."

Dotty's glance turned expectantly toward Lee. He pretended not to notice. Soon, Phillip and Jamie were seated on the couch while Dotty got comfortable in a chair. Lee and Amanda stood anxiously before them, holding hands.

"So, what's up, Mom?" Jamie inquired when it seemed that everyone was just going to stare at each other all evening.

Slightly leaning on Lee for support, Amanda began, "Mother, do you remember a few years ago when I told you that I was a spy and that there was a nuclear bomb in Washington?"

"Well, yes, but what does that have to do with anything?" A very confused Dotty asked.

"That wasn't a story, Mother. It's the truth." Lee squeezed her hand as he picked up the confession. "Mrs. West, boys, Amanda and I don't work for a film company. IFF is a cover for an ultra secret government organization known as the Agency. We're intelligence operatives." They both waited with baited breath for the response. The silence was deafening, until finally, Dotty whispered, "You're what?"

"I can explain, Mother. See, several years ago I met Lee at the train station. He was in serious trouble and needed help. So, I helped him. Before long, I was helping out with small projects, doing filing, typing, that sort of thing. Our boss, Mr. Melrose, began pairing us up on various assignments and the next thing I knew, Lee and I had become partners. Eventually, I became a full agent." Her head was bowed as she shared this.

"Is all that supposed to help me understand why you've both lied to us for years?" Dotty stood and approached the couple.

"I don't get it, Mom. You always tell us it's wrong to lie, but you've been doing it?" Jamie's confusion showed on his face.

As their personal shame grew like a fire within their hearts, Amanda swallowed hard because she knew she had to go on. "There's more. The only way to say it is to be blunt. When I was shot in California, we were on our honeymoon."

At that point, Amanda, Dotty, and Jamie all started talking at once. Lee noticed Phillip's absence from the conversation and frowned in his direction before interrupting the increasingly louder discussion. "OKAY! Would you all please quiet down so we can talk about this rationally?"

The next several hours were spent in deep discussion. Phillip was unusually quiet, until the end. When it seemed that all the questions had been answered and everyone sat absorbing the knowledge recently gained, he leaned forward in his seat and took a deep breath. Standing, he approached his mother without a sideways glance at Lee. His voice was as hard as steel when he said, "I will never forgive you for this. You've lied to us for years and betrayed us. I'm going to my room now, but tomorrow I'm calling Dad; expect me to be moving within the week." True to his word, he turned on his heel and left the room.

"Phillip!" Amanda cried out as tears ran down her face. She followed him to the stairs. Lee approached her and placed his hands on her shoulders.

"Don't worry, Amanda. He loves you. He'll come around." Lee whispered to her, his heart breaking just as surely as hers.

++++++++++++

The supposedly resting Lee Stetson shook his head at the memory. Phillip had moved out, just as he said he would, within a week. In the eleven years that followed, he'd only spoken to Amanda a handful of times and never to Lee, until today on the phone. Amanda had been heartbroken, but she did the best she could. She sent cards and called him as often as he would speak to her.

Joe apparently did a good job raising him. Phillip had received an Engineering Degree from Michigan State University and was now working in the Detroit area.

Lee was incredibly anxious to see him. 'Has it really been more than ten years since we were in the same room?' he thought.

Dotty noticed Lee stirring and went to sit beside him. Gently, she stroked his hair. He sat up and gave her a sad smile. She embraced him with all the love of a mother for her son. As they released each other, he cleared his throat and asked, "Have we heard anything yet?" Although he knew the answer, if the doctor had come out, they would've awakened him.

"Not yet, Lee," Billy answered. Just then, the elevator doors opened and Jamie King strode quickly to the waiting room.

"Lee? Where is she? What's going on?"

Lee rose from his seat and hugged his stepson. "She's still in surgery. Let me fill you in." Together, they sat down to wait.

+++++++++

The doctor swiped a hand across his tired face as he headed for the waiting room. He was ambushed as he crossed the threshold. Raising his hands to hold back the throng of family and friends, he began to talk. "Mr. Stetson, your wife is in recovery. She lost a lot of blood, but she is stable and we expect that she'll make a full recovery. You can see her after we move her to her room. Probably another two or three hours."

"Two or three hours? Doctor, please," Lee pleaded, "I need to see her."

"I'm sorry. No visitors allowed in recovery, no exceptions. I would suggest that you all use this time to get something to eat and some rest." The doctor looked over the group of people before turning back to Lee. "A nurse will notify you when you can see your wife."

"Thank you, Doctor. Thank you so much," Dotty said as she pumped the man's hand.

"You're welcome," he replied before backing out of the room.

Moments later as the close-knit group was still trying to convince Lee to go eat something, a tall man with dark wavy hair silently approached. Glancing up, Dotty noticed him first. "Phillip!" she exclaimed as she ran to hug him.

"Grandma!" He returned her embrace and smiled. As they released each other, Jamie came over and shook his brother's hand.

"Well, I take it from the mood in here, that Mom's gonna be okay?" Phillip's question was directed at Jamie, but Lee rose and joined the discussion.

"Yes, she is. You just missed the doctor." Lee held his hand out toward his oldest stepson, hoping for a response.

Phillip glared at him momentarily, then addressed Jamie again. "When can I see her?"

Jamie, no longer the shy, quiet teenager he'd once been, replied, "Come on, Phillip. You could at least acknowledge Lee's existence by shaking his hand."

Lee stepped back, trying not to look hurt. "No, Jamie, it's okay. Phillip has a right to his opinions and feelings. I'll just wait over there." He indicated the opposite side of the room, where he went to sit by Billy and Francine.

"Phillip King, that was downright rude! He has been worried sick about your Mother. And, although I'm sure he'd never admit it, he's also been terribly nervous about seeing you." Dotty piped in.

"Good," Phillip answered loud enough for Lee to hear. "He should be worried about Mom. It's his fault she's in this mess. Now, will someone please tell me when I can see her?"

"In a few hours," Jamie acquiesced.

"Fine. I'll be at my hotel until then. Here's the name and number where I'm staying." He handed Jamie a slip of paper and turned to leave.

++++++++++++

"Beth! Did you pack my blue shirt? I can't find it?" Phillip called out.

A petite blonde emerged from the hotel bathroom, wearing only her smile and a towel. "No, dear, I didn't. It's at the laundry. Just wear something else." She leaned over and kissed him on the cheek. "I doubt your Mom will care what you wear anyway."

Turning to face her, he placed his hands along her tiny waist. "You know, you're beautiful when you're right."

"Then I must be beautiful all the time," she smiled.

"Absolutely." He steered her toward the bed and kissed her while pushing her gently.

"We don't have time for this, Phillip," she murmured between kisses.

"There's always time for this, dear," he whispered seductively.

She continued trying to distract him. "I still don't understand why you didn't want me to go to the hospital with you," she managed to question while he lavished her neck with attention.

Sighing heavily, he immediately placed his mouth over hers to silence her. As he moved his lips across hers, he resumed their movement toward the bed. Just as he was about to lie her down across the comforter, there was a knock at the door.

Swearing under his breath, he walked to the door and looked out the peephole. "It's my brother," he explained.

"I'll just get dressed." She grabbed her clothes and went into the bathroom again.

Phillip opened the door, prepared for a verbal onslaught. What he got was a right cross. Jamie stood shaking out his fist while Phillip recovered. Rubbing his jaw, he demanded, "What the hell was that for?"

"Are you kidding me? You act like a royal jerk for over a decade and you have to ask why I hit you?" Jamie strode into the room and then turned to face his brother again. "Did it ever occur to you that Mom could've died today?" he asked softly.

"Of course. I've had that thought every day for the past eleven years. Why should today be any different?" Phillip smartly responded.

"Man!" Jamie shook his head. "What a jack ass!"

"Hey! What's that supposed to mean?"

"What if Mom hadn't made it? Do you want her to die thinking, believing, that you hate her?"

"I don't hate her, but she lied to us and snuck around for years. For God's sake, Jamie, she got married!"

"I know, to a really great guy." In a soft voice, Jamie continued, "We all know what they did was wrong, Phillip, but you're still holding on to it. You need to let it go."

At that moment, the bathroom door opened. Phillip stood next to the pretty, young woman that emerged and with a wave of his hand said, "Jamie, this is my fiancÚ, Beth Perkins. Beth, my brother, Jamie."

"Pleased to meet you, Jamie," Beth smiled.

A speechless Jamie recovered to respond, "Likewise, I'm sure. Phillip, you didn't tell me you were engaged. Were you planning on living your own 'secret' life?" The sarcasm in Jamie's voice ran thickly through his words.

"If you want to know the truth," Phillip answered through clenched teeth; "Beth and I were planning to come here next month for Grandma's birthday. We wanted to tell you in person."

The shrill sound of the phone ringing interrupted the heated discussion. Beth picked it up as the two brothers stared at each other in anger.

"Hello. Oh, yes, Mrs. West. He's right here." Turning to Phillip, she held out the receiver. "It's your Grandmother,"

He took it from her as he inhaled deeply and put a smile on his face. "Hello, Grandma. Great. We'll be right there. Bye."

"Well?" Jamie asked.

"We can see Mom now. She's still asleep, but they've moved her to a room." Together the trio left the hotel room.

+++++++++++++

Phillip entered the hospital room, startling Lee from his bedside position. "Oh, Phillip," he began awkwardly. "I'm glad you made it down. She hasn't awakened yet, but the doctor says that's to be expected. I'll leave you alone for a bit." Lee Stetson, confident, secure, intelligence operative, quickly rose and departed from the room like a child caught with the cookie jar.

Phillip watched the door close, then took a seat beside the bed. "Hi, Mom. I'm glad you're going to be okay." He wanted to say more, but he couldn't find the words. So instead he sat staring at the clock waiting for a respectful amount of time to pass.

A short while later, Phillip approached the waiting room where his family was gathered. Beth stood to meet him. She had wanted to get to know his family, but Phillip had specifically asked her to not speak to anyone without him being there. So, she had waited in silence.

He took her hand and turned to face Dotty. "Well, Grandma, we're going to go now. You take care and write soon." Beth stared at him in disbelief as he began pulling her toward the exit. Suddenly, Lee's voice boomed through the small room. "Phillip!"

Phillip stopped but did not turn around. He stood ramrod straight.

Lee's blood began to boil in his veins. He'd had enough and it was time to say so. "Phillip Joseph King. You turn around when I'm speaking to you." Lee's voice took on a parental authority Phillip had never heard before, but one that Jamie had become quite accustomed to. "Oh boy! Phillip's in trouble now!" Jamie whispered to his Grandmother, who merely smiled in response.

"Why should I?" Phillip asked even as he turned on his heel to face his Mother's husband. Lee had moved toward Phillip and the two now stood toe-to-toe.

"You cold-hearted bastard! You're just going to leave now? You won't even wait until she wakes up?"

"I wanted to make sure she would be okay. She will be; so now I'm going."

"Fine, Phillip. Go on. But this is it. We've always tried to keep a door open for you, but no more. I will not let you continue to hurt your Mom this way."

"Me hurt her? What about what she did to me?" he shouted.

"Oh, Phillip, get over it! We're sorry, believe me, we are both sorry for what happened. But, you are the one who has perpetuated the hurt. I love your Mom too much to let this go on. Do you know she spends your birthday every year locked in the bedroom crying, going through your baby book? She cries herself to sleep every time you don't call for Christmas and Mother's Day. And that's just the beginning. Your Mom is the strongest woman I've ever known, but no one is strong enough to survive this, and no one should have to." He finished in a soft tone.

Phillip turned impassively toward his Grandmother again. "Grandma, I'll call you next week." As he started to go once again, she replied. "Don't bother."

"What?" he asked incredulously.

"Lee's right, Phillip. I've played middleman long enough. It'll break my heart to lose you, but it's past time. Either we are all your family," she moved to embrace Jamie with one arm and Lee with the other, "or none of us are."

With a grunt, Phillip strode out of the room, forcing a crying Beth along with him.

+++++++++++

After a silent and tense ride back to the hotel, the young couple entered their room. Phillip immediately moved to embrace Beth, but she pulled away. "What's wrong?" he asked.

"Phillip, I'm not sure I know who you are anymore," she tersely responded, her grief over the scene at the hospital having turned to anger.

"I'm the same man I was yesterday at home."

"Are you? The man I thought I knew was warm, kind, and generous. The man before me now is bitter and hard. Frankly, I don't like him very much."

"What are you saying, Beth?" Phillip tried to touch her, but she moved out of his reach.

"I'm saying that I don't know if I can marry you." She gently removed her diamond ring and placed it on the dresser. As Phillip stood dumbstruck, she silently walked out of the room.

++++++++++

Lee sat in an uncomfortable chair beside Amanda's bed. His head was reclined at an awkward angle and his eyes were closed as he feigned relaxation. The sudden movement from the bed made him instantly alert.

"Um. Lee?" Amanda's voice whispered.

"I'm here, hon." He moved closer to the bed and took her hand.

Her eyes opened and she scanned the room, mentally assessing the situation. "What on earth happened?" she asked as she tried to sit up only to be stopped by the intense pain in her leg. "Oh yeah," she gritted out between her teeth while simultaneously reaching down and placing a hand gently along her thigh.

"Let me get the doctor." Lee poked his head out the door and signaled the nurse's station. When he returned, he sat on the edge of the bed next to his wife's small form. He reached out to hold her hand. "It's nice to see those beautiful eyes again! It's been a while." His smile lit up the room as he kissed the back of her hand.

Having fully awakened now, Amanda visually searched the room again with greater intensity. "Lee, is Phillip here? I remember hearing his voice."

Lee immediately released her hand as the smile fell away from his face. He rose and began pacing the room. "Well, yes and no; he was here, but when we were told that you would be fine, he decided to go home."

"Oh. I see." Dejected, she lowered her eyes and wrung her hands together.

Lee stopped pacing and looked at her. He hated to see her so upset. He had thought of telling her that Phillip hadn't been there at all, but decided against it. The last thing he wanted to do was hurt her even more, but he had to tell her the rest. "Amanda, you should know that we had a bit of a ... disagreement."

"What do you mean?" she looked her husband in the eye.

"Let me tell you all about it." Lee moved again to the edge of her bed and filled her in on the events of the day.

+++++++++

The door chime sounded through Jamie's small apartment. He rose from his computer and quickly made his way to the door. His, "Hello," fell short as he saw his guest.

"I know this is unexpected, but may I come in?" Beth's voice faltered and it was clear that she'd been crying.

"Sure. Can I offer you anything?" Jamie moved aside and gestured her the short distance into the living area.

"No, thank you. I'm not really sure why I'm here," she began. "I got your address from the phone book and it seemed like the only place to go." She sat on a chair that had seen better days as Jamie took a seat on the sofa that matched.

"I must look dreadful!" She raised her hands to run them unceremoniously across her face. That's when Jamie noticed the bare place where her ring had been.

"Excuse me, Miss Perkins, but did you break up with Phillip?"

"For starters, please call me Beth, and yes I did. Phillip and I have been together for two years, and in that time he's been nothing but wonderful. He's always a perfect gentleman, sweet and thoughtful, until today. The man I saw this afternoon was a total opposite of the Phillip I've known and loved. He scared me to death, Jamie. If he could be that ruthless to his own family, how would he treat me? What if he decided one day that something I'd done was unfair or a betrayal? I can't take that chance." She shook her head as her tears began to form again. Jamie offered her a tissue. "I can't believe I'm telling you all of this. I barely know you. I guess I just wanted you to know that I don't hate your family and that I'm sorry I won't be joining it." Rising from the chair, she turned for the door. "Thank you for listening."

"Wait, Beth." Jamie was already up and at the door. "Why don't you join me for dinner? We can talk some more." He felt badly for her and could tell that she needed a friend. Just then, the phone rang. He waited for her to nod an acceptance to dinner before answering it. "Hello."

"Hey, Jamie! She's awake. You should come see her!" Lee's exuberance burst over the phone lines.

"All right, Lee. Listen, Beth and I were just on our way to dinner. We'll stop by on the way. See ya."

++++++++++

Lee stared at the phone receiver as if it were alive. "What's wrong?" Amanda asked, a mother's concern evident in her tone.

"That's odd," Lee responded. "Jamie and Beth are on their way, but he didn't mention Phillip being there."

At the mention of Beth's name, Amanda's hopes began to rise, but they fell just as quickly.

+++++++++++

A short time later, a soft knock interrupted Lee and Amanda's conversation. "Come in," Amanda called with a forced cheeriness.

Beth awkwardly preceded Jamie into the room. She stood stiffly to the side as he gave his Mom a gentle hug and then embraced Lee as they shared a hearty slap on the back. "Mom," Jamie said as he brought Beth into the small circle of family, "this is Miss Beth Perkins, a friend of Phillip's."

Amanda looked the young lady up and down once while giving an approving smile. "Miss Perkins. I'm so glad to meet you." She reached out for Lee's hand. "Lee told me a little about you. Maybe we'll get a chance to know one another?" Her deep brown eyes held all the hopefulness of a child on Christmas morning.

The shy girl returned a pleasant smile. "Mrs. Stetson; please call me Beth. I would be honored to get to know you."

Amanda almost cried at the understanding she heard in Beth's tone. Instead, she nodded.

"Um-hmm." Lee cleared his throat to break up the emotional tension. "Listen, Jamie and I will go down the hall to the payphones. There are still a few people who don't know you're all right. You girls can use the time to chat." So, with a kiss to his lovely wife, the men were gone.

The conversation went slowly at first, in a very choppy fashion, but before long Amanda was telling stories of Phillip as a child and both women were laughing like old friends; and they continued on that way until Jamie and Beth left for dinner.

+++++++++++

The waiter departed the table, leaving Jamie and Beth alone again. Beth had been quiet since they left the hospital, so Jamie decided to get her talking. "So," he said matter-of-factly, "what'd you think of my Mom?"

She looked up into his eyes and took a deep breath. "All I can say is, 'Wow!'" she began. "Your Mom told me a little bit about how she and Lee met and the jobs they do and I just can't believe that people like them really exist. She said that she wanted to tell me herself about their secret marriage and all the lies to help me understand why Phillip is so mad at her. I mean, here she is, in a hospital bed from a gunshot wound, with a son who hasn't really spoken to her in a decade, and when she found out I'd broken-up with him, all she wanted to do was help me understand why he's so angry. She defended him to me! Jamie, you Mom is one incredible lady." Breathless, she paused and took a sip of her water.

Laughing, Jamie replied, "Yeah, she is and if you keep rambling on like that, I might start to think that you're related to her!"

"Oh sorry," she bashfully returned. "I tend to babble when I get excited."

"It's okay, really. Mom does too." He continued softly laughing.

Together, they passed an enjoyable dinner as he filled her in on more of the details of the King-Stetson family.

+++++++++++++

"Oh, Darling, I'm so glad I got to see you before visiting hours ended," Dotty gushed. "I'll be right back." She stood from her seat and headed to the small bathroom.

"Me too, Mother, but I think they're just about over now anyway." Amanda called out as the door shut. She gave a mental sigh. She loved her Mother, but sometimes she was such a ... mom. Just then, Lee entered the room from his short trip to the coffee machine. Cup in hand, he sat down and flipped on the TV for Monday Night Football. 'Not tonight!' Amanda thought. Suddenly, an idea hit her. "Listen, Lee, would you mind taking Mother to dinner? I know she hasn't eaten all day and she won't without someone there to enforce it."

Looking puzzled, and slightly worried, Lee replied, "Are you sure, Amanda? You'd be here all alone."

"Sweetheart, I'll be fine," she smiled her most saccharin smile. "Besides, I'm actually quite tired. I think I'd really just like to close my eyes and get some sleep."

Rising slowly, Lee stood and retrieved his jacket from the back of the chair. "Well, okay, if you're sure," he hesitated.

"I'm sure. I'll be fine. You guys go to dinner and then go home and get some rest, because that is all I'm planning on doing tonight." Just then, Dotty emerged from the bathroom. Lee gave Amanda a soft kiss goodnight and took Dotty's elbow in his hand, "Come on!" he said with enthusiasm as he guided her toward the exit. "Where are we going, Lee?"

"I am taking my favorite Mother-in-law out to dinner." As the door closed behind them, Amanda heaved a sigh of relief.

++++++++++++

Amanda honestly wanted to sleep. She knew her body needed the rest and she could feel the aching exhaustion weighing down her limbs, but her mind was going at warp speed. So she lay in the silent darkness, eyes closed, wide-awake. Forcing her lungs to take in slow, even breaths, she focused her thoughts. An image of Phillip formed before her mind's eye. Her heart swelled with love for him and she remembered various moments throughout his childhood. Unexpectedly, she heard the door open. Before she could open her eyes and say anything, she heard Phillip's voice.

"Hi, Mom." He sat in the bedside chair. "I know it's past visiting hours. I had to sneak by the nurse's station. I guess I get my stealth abilities from you, huh? Listen, I won't stay long, but I wanted, no needed, to talk to you, and it will be easier to do it while you're still unconscious.

Suddenly, Amanda realized that he didn't know that she had already awakened from surgery. She briefly considered opening her eyes, but then decided to hear him out first. After all, he might leave if he had to face her.

"I don't know where to start," he sighed. "So, I guess I'll start at the beginning. When you and Lee first told us everything, I was really angry. I know, that's not a news flash, but the thing is, that passed pretty quickly. Then, I was hurt. I wanted to talk to you about it. I even picked up the phone to call you more than once, but I always chickened out. Before long, so much time had passed it seemed silly to still feel that way. Dad and Carrie tried to help. They encouraged me to call or write, but I wouldn't listen."

Amanda wanted to reach out and hold her baby more than anything, but she knew how hard this was for him and if she interrupted he might not go on. So she continued to breathe softly and hold back her own tears.

Phillip shifted in his seat and continued. "The next thing I knew, it'd been a year and I began to resent having lost all that time with you. Jamie would come to Dad's and we'd carefully avoid talking about it, but I could tell that he was happy living with you and Lee. I loved Dad, but I missed you terribly. I just couldn't get past my stupid pride. I couldn't make myself dial the phone, no matter how much I wanted to. Well, time passed, and I left for college. Then, Dad and Carrie were killed in that plane crash and it got that much easier to not come back here. Before I knew it, I had graduated and gotten a job. Now, here we are, all these years later and nothing's changed. I'm still resentful and prideful and unsure of how to get through it. I'm a grown man now. I don't need a mommy, but I would love to have my Mom back." Amanda heard him sniffle and knew from his tone that he was fighting back tears. "Well, now that I've said all this to you while you're sleeping, maybe I can get some of it out when you're awake tomorrow."

She heard him rise from the chair and felt the bed shift as he placed one hand on the mattress and leaned over her to place a slight kiss on her forehead. He quickly rose and headed for the door, but stopped abruptly, his hand on the handle, as he looked back over his shoulder, "I love you, Mom."

Unable to hold back any longer, Amanda opened her eyes. "I love you, too, Phillip."

"You're awake? For how long?" he inquired as he moved closer to the bed again.

"Please don't be mad. I was awake when you first came in, but when I realized it was you I had to just listen. Maybe if I'd done that, listened, all those years ago, we could've avoided this."

He stood beside her now, his initial angry reaction softened at her words. "No, Mom. It wasn't your fault. You couldn't listen because I wouldn't talk."

Sitting up in bed, she winced slightly at the pain that shot up her leg. "But you're talking now, and I'd like to hear more."

"Are you sure? Part of me is still pretty angry, especially with Lee. I thought that the anger had subsided years ago, but when I found out that you'd been shot, it all flooded back like it was yesterday."

Taking a deep breath, she steeled herself for the oncoming conversation. She knew that she'd made mistakes in the past, and now it was time to face them. "Yes, I'm sure. We need to get this all out so that we can move beyond it."

Phillip pulled the chair closer to bed and sat back down. "Okay, then," he sighed. "Here goes."

+++++++++++++

Lee walked briskly through the light traffic of the early morning hospital corridors. He hated these places, but he'd go through far worse to be beside Amanda. He opened her door slowly, careful not to disturb her. Although normally an early riser, he hoped she was sleeping in today. The sight that greeted him stopped him in his tracks. He blinked in disbelief before fully entering the room to confirm the visual image.

Amanda was lying in her bed, turned up on her side toward the chair, which was occupied by Phillip. Both were sound asleep, their hands clasped together at the bed's edge.

+++++++++++

Six Months Later:

Amanda helped Lee knot his tuxedo's tie. Her hands worked deftly from years of practice. As she finished her task, she slipped her hands up to cup her husband's face. He smiled at her and she shook her head slightly. "I can't believe it," she uttered softly.

"I know," Lee replied, taking her fully into his arms.

"My baby is getting married!" Her eyes filled with tears. "I'm so proud of him and I'm so glad we get to share this day."

"Well, you and Phillip have worked hard these past six months to rebuild your relationship."

"So have you. I never would've imagined it, but the three of us in counseling together with an Agency doctor really has helped. And I am so glad that Beth decided to join Phillip for some counseling. I doubt we'd be here today if we all hadn't worked so hard. I know we have a long way to go, but I'm so excited for the future!"

"Amanda, I've been excited for the future since the first time I saw you on that train platform." He squeezed her closer and nuzzled her neck.

She closed her eyes and relished the moment. All was right with the world. Finally, after all these years, her family was together.

A soft knock at their open door interrupted their embrace. "Mom, Lee, come on already." Jamie's voice telegraphed his excitement and impatience.

Laughing, the couple turned toward him. "All right, Jamie. We're coming." Amanda acknowledged. Jamie hurriedly left the room to attend to his other tasks as Best Man.

Lee placed his hand at the small of Amanda's back to guide her from the room, but she stood still, suddenly lost in thought. "Amanda!" he called to her, drawing out her name in exasperation.

"I'm sorry, Lee. I was just thinking."

"What about?"

"I suppose it's true what they say. Time heals all wounds,"

Smiling, Lee kissed Amanda gently. "Come on, Sweetheart. Let's go to a wedding."

THE END.