This is a companion piece to One Hundred and Three. This story can stand on its own, but is a little more fun if you've read the first.
Disclaimer: These characters belong to Shoot the Moon and Warner Brothers Productions. I make no profit by writing about them.
Archive: EmilyAnn's SMKFanfic Archive.
Timeline: Early third season.
Summary: Are You Afraid You're in Love with Him? A companion piece to One Hundred and Three.
Author's Note: Thank you to my awesome team of betas; your help, as always, was invaluable.
Feedback: Yes, please. Detailed or not. I live for it.
Amanda sighed deeply after dropping onto the sofa in her family room. The boys were in bed and her mother had just gone upstairs with a glass of milk-and-Galliano, to soak in 'Strawberry Splendor' and read her new romance novel.
Grateful to have a few rare and quiet moments, Amanda allowed herself to savor the time alone. Her thoughts were focused solely on one thing . . . or more accurately, on one man, Lee Stetson.
She couldn't figure out quite where she stood with him. It used to be so easy; never before had she felt such . . . displacement. Yes, displacement was the perfect word. She knew she belonged in his life, she just wasn't sure anymore where or how.
Hiding her growing feelings was becoming more and more difficult, but she was managing. In fact, she was content to have his friendship, because she was still uncertain about taking such a potentially life-altering step with Lee. She had been perfectly prepared to conceal the attraction she felt for him, until he'd begun sending her mixed signals.
In an attempt to pinpoint those signals, she thought back upon the last few weeks.
For one thing, whenever they were close together, she could tell that he was as affected as she herself. On one occasion, she had leaned next to him at his desk to look at a surveillance photograph, and he had been unable to speak clearly. He'd become jittery and distracted, and finally he'd gotten up and proclaimed it 'quitting time' at only four in the afternoon.
Then, a few days after that incident, he'd asked her to attend an embassy party with him. While dancing, he'd held her remarkably close. When other men had asked her to dance, Lee had possessively tightened his hold on her and glared at them. When she had questioned him about it, he'd explained, somewhat awkwardly, that he thought he'd seen a suspicious character eyeing her all evening.
When she'd visited him in the hospital, just a couple of weeks ago, he had virtually clung to her hand, staring at her and muttering incoherently. The next day, she'd given him a ride home and he'd chattered uncharacteristically, talking about everything and nothing as though he'd been nervous.
Amanda had come to the conclusion that his odd behavior was proof of his desire to move their relationship forward. But then she'd found out, in the midst of the Sullivan case, that he had a new girlfriend, Leslie. She had been surprised, to say the least, to see a woman in Lee's apartment, making herself at home as if she belonged there.
Amanda had never considered herself a jealous person, but she had definitely experienced an overwhelming sense of jealousy on that day. Perhaps, she reasoned, that was because she'd never had cause to be jealous . . . until Leslie.
Her state of envy, however, was short-lived. After wrapping up their case, Lee had suddenly invited her over for a quiet dinner, easily dismissing the fact that he was abandoning Leslie for the evening. Hope mingled with trepidation had risen in Amanda's heart again, and she felt that things might be heading in a new direction.
They'd had a nice dinner. Yes, it had been very . . . nice. They'd talked easily, not about work but about things friends talked about. She'd shared humorous glimpses of her family life with him, and he regaled her with wild tales of his early days with the Agency.
Friends. Amanda sighed again. Would they ever be anything more? Was she even sure she wanted more? Sometimes she thought so. She couldn't live her life in this indeterminate manner. Not that she'd expected roses and romance that night, but a hint of . . . of what? What *had* she expected?
Maybe she had read too much into his gesture in inviting her over for dinner. Was it possible that he'd sensed her jealousy and believed her to be afraid of losing his friendship? Or worse, had he realized that she harbored feelings for him - feelings that he didn't reciprocate?
Her own confusion aside, she couldn't see Lee as a family man. As far as she knew, none of the women he'd ever dated had children. Even if he were attracted to her, physically or otherwise, he would probably never do anything about it. Besides, she knew that if she became involved with him, eventually she'd have to introduce him to her mother, Phillip and Jamie. She could risk her own heart being broken, but not the hearts of her family.
Amanda sighed again and leaned forward, placing her elbows on her knees. Glancing at the coffee table, she spied one of her mother's many magazines and decided to try reading for a while. It was the latest issue of 'Today's Woman' Magazine. The cover boasted several articles, a few of which dealt with what seemed to be deeply personal subjects. She opened to the index page and skimmed titles.
She had no need to 'Turn Him Into a Love Slave,' not that it wouldn't be nice. Nor did she really need to 'Trim the Pounds and Shape the Mounds.' Laughing, she also passed up 'Healthy & Happy Hair' and didn't want to ponder the answer to the article that asked 'Just How Hot Are You?'
As she was about to discard the magazine, she spotted a foreboding title: 'Are You Afraid You're in Love with Him?' Turning to the indicated page, she groaned. It was a quiz.
"I'm not taking a quiz," she indignantly said aloud. Rolling her eyes, she threw the offending journal back down on the table, then immediately picked it up and thumbed to the quiz page again.
Sifting through the books and newspapers and deck of cards on the table, she finally found a ballpoint pen and scratch pad. If she was going to take a quiz, she definitely wasn't going to mark her answers in the magazine and give her mother further reason to grill her about her love life.
Amanda read the opening paragraph with growing annoyance. It claimed:
'You may say you're not in love with him, but you probably are. You know the guy we're talking about. He may be 'just a friend,' or you may 'just work with him,' but deep down you know there's more to it than that. How can you be sure? Take the following quiz, answering as honestly as possible. You'll probably be surprised at what your responses reveal.'
"Oh, these things are ridiculous," Amanda scoffed. She read the first question and noted that the answers were multiple choice, consisting of 'A. True,' 'B. Somewhat True,' 'C. Somewhat False,' and 'D. False.'
She uncapped the pen and numbered the page from one to thirty, then reread the first question with trepidation.
1. Someone specific immediately came to my mind as I read the opening paragraph.
Amanda closed her eyes. Yes, it was true that she had thought 'immediately' of Lee. But that wasn't because she was in love with him; it was because she'd been thinking about him before picking up the magazine. Reluctantly, she wrote an 'A' next to number one on the makeshift answer sheet. She couldn't lie to herself, after all, right?
2. I often wonder if he has any feelings for me.
"Ohhh!" She was irritated. Yes, she did wonder if Lee had feelings for her. It was exactly what she'd been wondering before she'd seen this cursed magazine. But that didn't mean that she *often* wondered if he had feelings for her, did it? Then again, there had been other times when she'd pondered the subject, so . . . 'A.'
3. When he's near me, I wonder if he's going to kiss me, and am tempted to make the first move myself.
"Who writes this stuff?" Amanda complained. The quiz really seemed to be reaching. Each question was phrased in such a way that she was forced to deem it 'True.' She reminded herself that this was a generic test, but couldn't help feeling personally affronted.
After completing ten more statements, she was truly frustrated. Many of them were specific to an embarrassing degree, probing inquiries about dreams and fantasies. She almost threw the magazine across the room in her annoyance, but was fascinated with it at the same time.
14. I find myself declining or backing out of dates with other men in order to be with him.
Well, it was true that she'd cancelled a few dates for the sake of work, but that was . . . well, work. She didn't cancel them just to spend time with Lee - that would be ridiculous. Still . . . if it were any other agent, she'd . . . she'd have found it much easier to refuse the job, she conceded. So in actuality, she *did* rearrange her life in order to be with him. Another 'A' was angrily scribbled on the defenseless page.
Each succeeding question raised Amanda's ire. She glared at the line of 'A's' and started rereading the earlier questions to see whether she could change at least a couple of them to a 'B' or 'C' answer. But in all honesty, she had to leave them as they were.
Infuriated now, not with herself or the quiz, but rather with Lee, she began finding words starting with 'A' to describe him. 'Arrogant. Argumentative. Aggravating. Adorable . . . alluring . . .' "Enough!" she said aloud. "Focus, Amanda."
She hurriedly went through the remaining questions, her hand quickly marking her answers, the vast majority of which were 'A', with only two exceptions where she could narrowly justify a 'B' response. Looking at the following page, she noted the tally explanations and knew without adding her score that the highest sum possible would hold the 'advice' applicable to her situation.
'See? You knew exactly who we were talking about. That's right, you're in love. Head over heels, no questions asked, no doubt about it. Chances are he's in love with you, too. Test the waters and see if he dives in with you. What've you got to lose? Live dangerously, take a risk; kiss him!'
"What have I got to lose?" she questioned the air sarcastically. Plenty, she thought. If it didn't work out, she'd most likely lose his friendship. She'd also likely have to give up her job, as it would be impossible to continue working with him.
And if her mother and, more importantly, her sons became attached to Lee, they'd lose, as well. Having missed out on having Joe in their lives on a regular basis, she knew they'd have a hard enough time accepting someone new.
Amanda snorted in derision, shook her head, and began tearing her answer sheet into tiny pieces. Real life wasn't this simple. She would be risking far more than the article indicated. "Take a risk," she muttered mutinously. "Kiss him. It's so simple. Just plant a big wet one right on his lips, Amanda."
"Plant a big wet one right on whose lips, darling?" Dotty asked, walking past with her empty glass in her hand.
Startled, Amanda turned. "N-no one, Mother," she stammered, cursing her mother's timing.
"Uh-huh," her mother responded, then headed into the kitchen to deposit her glass into the sink. "Well, at least you're *talking* about kissing someone," she replied drolly.
"Moth-er," Amanda intoned.
"Goodnight, darling," Dotty sang, ignoring her daughter's annoyed tone.
Left alone once again, Amanda debated whether she should turn on the television and channel surf for a movie or go to bed. Standing there undecided and still flustered over the results of that . . . that . . . fixed, manipulative test, she jumped when a knock sounded at her back door.
Blushing because the subject of her soul-searching contemplation was standing at her back door, she walked over and opened it. The sight of him momentarily eased her doubts and fears, and she couldn't help the surge of elation that filled her. Her delight was quickly subdued, however, as she recalled her recent ruminations. Feeling like an emotional yo-yo, she stepped outside and she hesitantly smiled her greeting.
"Hi," Lee said.
"Hi, yourself," she replied, averting her eyes.
Lee ducked slightly, in an apparent attempt to look into her eyes. "I, uh, just wanted to come over and see how you're doing; I barely saw you at all today," he explained.
She smiled again, resolved to put aside her personal dilemma for the moment. "I'm glad you did. How . . . how are you?"
"Good." He nodded, raising his eyebrows and glancing around as if uneasy. "I'm glad you're still up. I thought maybe it might be too late. But then I saw the light on, and . . . "
"Yeah, well, I was doing some reading, and then some thinking, and . . ." She trailed off, catching herself and feeling her face redden.
"Thinking? About what?" he asked.
"Oh, you know," she faltered. "Just . . . nothing really important. I mean to you. It's important to me, but wouldn't be important to you. You know, just, uh, just thinking."
"Is everything okay?" Lee asked, his concern evident. "You seem kind of . . . distracted. Besides, if something's important to you, it's important to me. Maybe I could help."
Amanda laughed softly, embarrassed even though there was no way he could possibly know the cause of her discomfiture. "Lee, really . . . thanks, but I'm fine. A little distracted, maybe, sure. But nothing for you to worry about."
"Worry about? Should I worry?" A light frown creased Lee's forehead, and he took her by the elbows, drawing her closer.
'Test the waters,' a voice whispered inside her head. "No!" she answered loudly and then clamped a hand over her mouth.
Lee's surprised look brought her back into the moment. Feeling her heartbeat accelerate and her breath come faster, she shook her head, slowly dropping her hand. "No, no. It's nothing for you to worry about, really. Please don't worry about me."
She glanced up, her brown eyes meeting his hazel ones. She felt her breath catch in her throat as he caught and held her descending hand in his, whispering, "But I do . . . worry about you."
"You do?" she asked. The intensity with which he uttered the words dispelled any disappointment she may have initially felt that he checked on her merely out of worry.
He nodded slowly, his eyes drifting down to her lips. "Of course I do," he confirmed.
"Oh," she replied, feeling like he could read her every thought. "Thanks," she added faintly.
"Amanda." His tone had deepened and his grip on her tightened. He drew her hand up and held it against his chest.
"Yes?" Holding her breath, she could scarcely believe her eyes when his fluttered and closed and he began to lean closer to her, his lips slightly parted.
A terrible shriek cut through the quiet of the night, followed by vicious hissing as two cats raced through the back yard. Startled, Amanda sprang forward into Lee, and he reflexively put his arms around her.
"Oh!" she exclaimed, finding herself pinned tightly to Lee's body. Daring to look into his eyes, she was surprised at the smoky intensity she saw in them. She drew a sharp breath and held it.
"Cats," Lee said inanely, not releasing her. His strong arms easily held her snugly against his own body.
She nodded, her eyes widen. "Cat fight," she added unnecessarily, her voice little more than a whisper.
Nervously, she licked her lips and saw him start forward, then step very slowly away, putting plenty of distance between them, and shove his hands into his jacket pockets. "I'd better go," he told her with a tremor in his voice.
"Yeah . . . Okay, well, I'll see you tomorrow, Lee," she replied, aware that her voice betrayed her tumultuous emotions.
He exhaled roughly and gave her a crooked smile. "Yeah. And, Amanda, if you change your mind and want to do something about what's worrying you . . . " he trailed off, his voice raspy.
"Oh, trust me, Lee." She drew a deep breath. "If I decide to do something about it, you'll be the first to know."