Summary and timeline: Fourth season filler, occurring after the proposal, but before the 'mystery marriage' has even been discussed.
Author's notes: Thanks to Ceeg for her comments and suggestions. Feedback is always welcome.
Rating: PG (thatís probably a little high)
Amanda focused her flashlight on the contraption just inside the door. It seemed to be almost as big as she was tall. She set her flashlight on the floor and pointed it up at the metal covering. There were two metal panels, one above the other, and Amanda knew that removing them would allow her access to what lay beneath. She placed her fingertips against a ridge near the upper edge of the top panel and gently lifted the panel up and out. She set it on the floor, well out of her way. The lower panel was a little trickier. Amanda grasped the upper rim with both hands and pulled firmly but gently. Despite her best efforts, she managed to bang the panel loudly against the wall of the device. "Rats," she said to herself. "Got to be more careful."
"Amanda?" Lee's voice rang out with concern. He'd just come in, and he'd heard the noise Amanda had made, metal against metal.
"What are you doing?" he asked, as he came around the corner.
"What does it look like I'm doing?"
"Whoa!" he exclaimed, peering into the open cavity. "Look at all those wires!" He stepped back a little. "Do we need to call the bomb squad?"
"I've almost got it. You can help if you want."
Lee didn't want. The inside of the thing looked fairly dangerous, and he wondered if it might not blow up anyway. He was confident that Amanda knew what she was doing, though. "You're doing fine," he said. "I'll wait right here with you." As Amanda worked, he stared at her with a sense of admiration. He couldn't help but smile. Was there anything this woman couldn't do?
Amanda drew on a pair of heavy leather gloves and grabbed one of the two fully loaded springs that were stretched across the floor of the device. She carefully unhooked the spring at one end, moving it up and out of her way. She repeated the procedure with the second spring, gaining access to a final panel. Grasping the rectangular shape in both hands, she lifted it up and out of the box, being very careful not to bump it against the metal casing. Holding it well away from her, she tried to hand it to Lee. "Here. Take this."
He backed up a little. "What am I supposed to do with that?" he asked apprehensively.
"Take it out to the trash," she said. "What else would you do with it?"
"Drop it in a bucket of oil? I don't know."
Amanda looked at him strangely. "Are you telling me you've never changed a furnace filter before?"
"Well . . . no . . . I've always lived in an apartment," he offered apologetically. "There's always been a building superintendent."
"Well, guess what, buster? You're going to be the building superintendent around here before too long," she said, shoving the dirty filter into his hands. "Take this out, and when you come back, I'll show you how to put the new one in."
"Amanda, this is ridiculous."
"No, it's not. Now, we need to do this once a month . . ."
"Amanda . . ." He had set the used filter down just out of her reach, knowing it would drive her crazy to have the dusty thing on her floor. "Just out of curiosity, what else does the building superintendent do around here?" He grabbed her around the waist and pulled her into an embrace. "Does he get to neck with any of the tenants?"
"Just this one," she replied, responding to his kisses. "But only after he takes the furnace filter out. Come on, Lee, we need to get this thing put back together so the heater will run again."
"We don't need the heater," he murmured, warming up to the situation. "Let's go sit on the sofa and get comfortable."
"Lee . . . " Amanda said, laughing and pushing him away. "Come on. Just take this outside. I'll put this thing back together, and then we can . . . umm . . . get comfortable."
"Okay," he agreed, reluctantly letting her go. "I'll be right back." Lee picked up the dirty filter, as Amanda began to remove the new one from its plastic wrapper.
"Mm-hmm . . ." she murmured, smiling after him as she watched him walk away.