Window Shopping

AuthorFletcher Stanton

Rating:  G

Summary:  Lee and Amanda have a bit of free time during a case.

Disclaimer:  I do not own any of the S&MK universe.  I am writing for entertainment purposes only I don't make any money from this.  Any copyright infringement is unintentional.

Archive:  with the rest of the alphabet stories

Feedback:  of course!

Timeline:  This takes place during "Legend of Das Geisterschloss"

Author's Note:  This is a part of the Round 2 alphabet challenge.  It contains a small spoiler for "Remembrance of Things Past".  Many thanks to Ceeg and Merel for beta-reading this - their help was invaluable.


The afternoon Lee and Amanda had spent looking for Emily Farnsworth had been a wash... literally and figuratively.  They decided that the next step should be to talk further with Marianna.  The waitress from the cafe definitely knew more than she had told them earlier.  Unfortunately, by the time they got back to town, the cafe was closed for the day.

"Great, just great."  Lee brought his hand to the back of his neck, trying to loosen the knot of tension that the events of the day had brought on.  "Now we're going to have to wait until tomorrow to question Marianna."  Lee started to get antsy and began to pace - waiting was not his strong suit.

Amanda knew that Lee's concern for Emily would eat away at him if she didn't find something to distract him.  She had an idea.

"Well, if we can't do anything else today, why don't we do some shopping?"

He gave her a dubious look at the suggestion.  "Shopping?"

Lee thought about it for a moment.  The last time he'd been shopping with Amanda was in London, earlier that year.  The airline had lost her luggage, leaving her with only the clothes she was wearing.  He'd actually been surprised and impressed at the efficient way she'd found just what she needed to get her through the trip.  It had been a quick and relatively painless affair.

Still...  "I don't know, Amanda."

She knew he'd need to be convinced.  "Come on, Lee.  We can't do anymore today - you said so yourself."  She smiled brightly at him, then teased, "It won't kill you."

"All right," he reluctantly agreed.  "But I'm not promising I'll enjoy it."

Lee was glad he hadn't made that promise.  After a brief stop at the hotel to change clothes, the two started their shopping trip.  At first he'd thought that maybe she was looking for something specific.  As they passed store after store without setting foot in one of them, he had become confused, and then annoyed.  She seemed content to just look in each window for a minute or two before continuing on.  The latest stop was in front of a jewelry store.  He finally felt he had to say something.

"We've been at this for hours, Amanda - aren't you going to buy anything?"  Okay, maybe he was exaggerating a little, but the situation was starting to get to him.

Amanda looked at Lee briefly as she answered, "Probably not," then turned back to admire the sparkling array of gems and jewels before her.

The calmness of her reply agitated him even further.  "Then why are we doing this?  What's the point of shopping if you aren't going to buy anything?"

His sharp tone made her face him again.  "Haven't you ever been window shopping before, Lee?"  The disgusted look on his face was all the answer she needed.  "I guess not."  She smiled indulgently as she explained.  "Just looking at what the stores have to offer is the point.  It's fun."

Lee rolled his eyes at that statement.  "Your idea of fun and mine are very different, Amanda."

His response caused her smile to widen, and she laughed lightly as she replied.  "Come on, Lee - it's not that bad."

"I just don't see how you can find this fun."  He ran a hand through his hair in an attempt to keep calm.  Lee was trying his best to understand how Amanda could find this exercise in futility enjoyable, but it was just beyond him.

Then something occurred to him.  "Is this another one of those things that 'normal' people do?"  Ever since he'd stayed at her house, pretending to be dead, Amanda had made a point of trying to show Lee what "real" life was all about.

A look of satisfaction crossed her face.  "As a matter of fact, itis.  Normal people don't have huge expense accounts, or get to travel to exotic places with someone else paying the bills."

"You're here," he reminded her with a smirk, "and the Agency's picking up the tab.  What does that make you?"

Amanda wasn't about to be caught in his trap.  "An ordinary person in an extraordinary situation."  She shrugged her shoulders.  "I know better than to think that this is the way life will always be.  As much as I'm enjoying this, it can't last forever.

My real life is back home, with Mother and the boys."

"You admit that you're enjoying this, and yet you think being a normal person is a good thing?"

"It's a very good thing."  A more serious look appeared on her face as she continued.  "You know, Lee, it wouldn't hurt you to try - you might just learn something."

He sighed in resignation.  Maybe Amanda's attempt at normalizing him would help him keep his mind off how worried he was about his missing friend.  "All right - what life lesson do you see me learning from window shopping, may I ask?"

"That everyone needs a little bit of fantasy now and then.  It can help you appreciate what you have."

He wasn't sure where this conversation was heading.  "And do you have anything specific in mind that you think I don't appreciate?"

Amanda sighed in exasperation.  Of course she did, but now was not the time to broach that subject.

"Lee, not everything is about you.  I was speaking in a general sense.  Take this store, for instance.  I look in the window, and see a lot of beautiful jewelry that I can't afford.  And honestly, I really don't need it.  But I can look at it, and pretend that it's mine, just for a minute.  I can imagine what it would be like to be rich, or powerful, or... whatever kind of person I think would have these kinds of things.  And then I go back to my everyday life."

She stopped for a moment, trying to see if he understood what she was trying to tell him.  At his puzzled look, she thought about how to make her point more clear.  An insight struck her, and she spoke again.

"You know, for me, being on a case with you is kind of like window shopping.  I can pretend, just for a little while, that I'm Amanda King, sp- sorry... intelligence operative.  I get to go places, and see and do things I'd never be able to on my own.  And when it's over, I go back to being Amanda King, divorced housewife and mother.  And that's not a bad thing at all.  As exciting as all this can be, I like my life.  I have a great mother, a nice house, and two wonderful boys.  I like being a normal person - but I enjoy the fantasy, too."

Lee still wasn't sure he understood what Amanda was trying to tell him.  Of course, the fact that he was still focused more on finding Emily than on what Amanda was saying probably wasn't helping.  He made a conscious effort to quiet the concerned voice in his head, and take part in the conversation.

"But if I'm leading what you say is a 'fantasy' life, why would I need to do any window shopping?"

She thought for a moment before answering.  "Maybe it's the opposite for you.  Maybe you need something to help ground you, so you don't get so caught up in the fantasy that you lose sight of what's real."  She could see that he wasn't buying that, so she tried another approach.

"Lee, even if you don't want to lead the kind of life most people live, aren't you doing what you do so that the rest of us can have normal lives?"  He nodded.  "So having a better understanding of what normal life is like can only be helpful, right?"

"I guess so."

"Then every so often you need to do the kinds of things the rest of us do.  Besides, you never know - you might see something in a window that you never knew you wanted until it was right there in front of you."

Lee was becoming uncomfortable - talking in a generic sense was one thing, but now she was focusing specifically on him.  He was starting to be sorry he'd ever brought up the topic.  Looking to take the attention away from himself, he gestured back at the jewelry displayed in the window.

"So, are any of these something you never thought you'd want until now?"

Amanda took the change of subject in stride, knowing that Lee would think about what she'd said when the time was right.

_____________________

Late one evening, several months after they'd returned to the States, Lee found himself standing in Amanda's backyard.  He'd gone to her house to check on her.  They'd just finished a particularly rough case, and he wanted to make sure she was all
right.

As he watched the familiar scene through her kitchen window, a wistful look appeared on his face.  Amanda looked so happy, talking with her mother, and kissing Philip and Jamie goodnight as she sent them to bed.  A sudden wave of longing coursed
through him, surprising him with its intensity.  He shoved the feeling down, and quickly left the backyard before Amanda could
see him.

As he drove back to his apartment, Lee tried to figure out what had prompted his reaction to the sight of a typical evening at the King household.  A rueful smile came to his lips as he realized that Amanda had been right about window shopping after all.

END