Summary:A sequel to Jealous Partner Syndrome, previously posted. Amanda decides to give Agent Henderson a chance.
Disclaimer:The main characters belong to Shoot the Moon and Warner Brothers Productions. The story is a product of my imagination.
As Amanda and Lee walked down the corridor to the elevator, Amanda stole a glance at her partner. He was still fuming at whatever Billy had just said to make him so mad. His face was dark, and a little vein was popping out along his temple. His jaw was clenched. Amanda was grateful that it wasn't her that he was angry with.
They entered the Q-Bureau and sat down at their respective desks. Lee looked up to see Amanda pick up a folded note from her blotter.
"What's that?" Lee asked her.
"I don't know yet," she responded pointedly, and unfolded the paper.
He watched warily as her eyes scanned the paper and a slow smile spread across her face. Refolding the paper, she slipped it inside her purse. Without a word, she picked up a case file and began reading.
Lee sighed in frustration. "Well?!"
Amanda raised her eyes to him. "Well what?" she asked. Lee certainly was acting strange.
"What did it say?" Lee asked, as if she owed it to him to tell her what was in the note.
"It was personal," Amanda said, her hackles rising.
"From Henderson?" Lee couldn't help it. His mouth was on auto-pilot.
"If you must know, yes. It was from Henderson." Amanda was annoyed, and Lee could tell.
"Remember what I told you. Remember what you agreed to," he said, a note of authority in his voice.
"Well I know at first I agreed, Lee. But you're going to have to give me a reason here. He's not my type, really, looks-wise or anything, but I try not to be judgmental, and maybe he's a really nice guy. So unless you think he may be a serial killer or psycho, I may just..."
"Fine, Amanda. Do whatever you want. I don't care," Lee huffed at her. The problem is, I *do* care, but I don't *want* to care.
Amanda raised her eyebrows. "Fine," she said.
Later that afternoon, Amanda took some paperwork down to Billy's office. When she left, Lee guiltily took the note out of her purse and read it.
I was wondering if you'd like to catch dinner together tonight. I'm sorry I didn't ask you in person. I've been interested in you for a while, but I've been too nervous to ask you out. I think you are a very nice person and I hope you can forgive me for taking the chicken's way out and writing this note to you. If you'd like to go out with me, please let me know. If not, you can disregard this letter and I'll never bother you again.
Lee returned the note to Amanda's handbag. What a doofus, Lee thought. Imagine not being able to admit you like a woman and...for some reason he stopped his thoughts mid-sentence. On some subconscious level he recognized something of himself in John's 'chicken's way out' letter.
Shortly after Amanda arrived in Billy's office, Lee came in for a meeting with Billy and Francine. He avoided looking at Amanda's face, but Amanda dropped off her files and left Billy's office without a word or a look for Lee. Francine was already there, and said to Lee, "Well, well, well! Looks like there's trouble in paradise," observing Amanda's silent departure.
"Let's get down to it," Billy cut her off. As he spoke, he noted that Lee was distractedly looking out the window. Glancing out, Billy saw Amanda talking and laughing with John Henderson, apparently a compelling sight for his top agent.
Billy stood up and closed his blinds. "If I may have your attention, Scarecrow," he snapped. Lee's face reddened, and Francine smirked. "Amanda could do a lot worse than Henderson," she stated smugly.
"He's a potato," fumed Lee.
"Are we jealous?" Francine was on the scent immediately. "I can't believe this - you're jealous!"
"I am not!" Lee yelled.
Billy put up his hands, he'd had enough. "Both of you, shut *up*! Francine, stay out of it. Lee, John is not a 'potato', as you called him, unless I too am a 'potato'. I can only assume you're referring to Henderson's less-than-perfect physique and looks. I'm happy to see that Amanda is not as shallow as you are."
"Billy, I didn't mean -" Lee began.
"Can it, Scarecrow," Billy ordered.
Lee found it impossible to concentrate on the rest of the meeting. Billy finally gave up, telling them they would meet again the following morning.
When Lee went back upstairs, Amanda had obviously left for the day. Glancing at the clock, he decided to knock off early himself, and headed back down after grabbing his jacket and keys.
Agent Henderson was glowing, talking animatedly to Billy. He looks like Barney Rubble, thought Lee snidely.
Lee walked up to the two men. "Billy, I'm going to take off early," he announced. He noted that Henderson was cagey and nervous around him. "Mr. Melrose, I'll talk to you tomorrow," Henderson said, and skittered away with one hasty glance at Lee.
"Stetson," Billy said, "I recommend that you use your time tonight to straighten out your feelings for you partner."
"What are you-" Lee started to protest.
"In my office," Billy gestured.
"Billy," Lee began as he closed the door.
"Now, you listen to me," Billy pointed a finger. "John Henderson is taking Amanda out for dinner tonight," he held up the same finger as Lee opened his mouth. "Just listen. He asked Amanda out and she agreed to go with him. If you have feelings for Amanda, then you should either tell her, or forget about her. There was a time when I could tell Amanda had feelings for you. Why, I don't know. But she has obviously moved on, forgotten about you. John Henderson is a very nice guy. I don't want you interfering."
"Is that all?" Lee was angry. How dare Billy say those things to him?
"I believe I've said my piece," Billy nodded.
"Good. Because I have something to say here. I do not have any feelings for Amanda. I don't know what you think you see, but there's nothing there. She is my friend and my partner. I care about her a great deal," Lee paused to regain control of his anger. "I don't think it's a good idea for Amanda to go out with Henderson because I want her for myself, and that's it. Stop reading into it!"
Billy just stood there grinning. Lee was furious! He just told his boss off and he stood there like a cheshire cat, every tooth gleaming. "What, may I ask, is so amusing?"
Billy shook his head. Lee didn't even realize what he'd said. "Nothing, Scarecrow, nothing."
Lee left the office. He was unlocking his car, replaying the conversation in his head, trying with all his intelligence operative brain-power to figure out what he'd said to make Billy grin like that.
Oh, no! He thought. No! I didn't! I did...oh, my god. 'I don't want Amanda to go out with Henderson because I want her for myself,' that's what I said! Oh, hell!
Getting into his Corvette, Lee sat behind the steering wheel for a good fifteen minutes, thinking.
Do I love Amanda? No! His mind screamed at his heart. No! I do not love Amanda King, and I never will!
Lee drove home somewhat recklessly. Checking his answering machine, there were three messages. The first was from Kitty.
"Hi, Lee baby. How about dinner tonight? And maybe dessert? Call me."
The second message was from Amanda.
"Ummm," at the sound of her hesitant voice, Lee's heart lurched, to his extreme irritation. "Lee, I'm sorry. I don't know what I did today to upset you, but whatever it was, I'm sorry. I'll see you tomorrow, okay? If you want you can call me, not that you necessarily want to call me, but if you need to, or, you know, whatever, I should be home around ten or so. Okay...bye."
Lee couldn't help but laugh. She was priceless..adorable. Stop it, his mind shouted. She is *not* adorable! The third message was from Billy.
"Lee, I didn't mean to laugh at you. I don't think you know what you said, but if you think about it and remember, it'll explain a lot. See you tomorrow."
Lee stood indecisively for a moment, then dialed Kitty's number.
"Hi, Kitty, it's Lee."
"I knew you'd call!"
"How about seven?"
"I'll be waiting," she purred.
All through his dinner with Kitty, Lee kept replaying the day's events and conversations in his mind. It was ridiculous, Billy seemed to *want* him to fall in love with Amanda or something. Fall in love with Amanda. A couple years ago, the thought would have made him laugh out loud.
"Lee," Kitty reprimanded him, "You're ignoring me."
"I'm sorry," Lee smiled. When had Kitty become so...boring?
"As I was saying, Japan was fabulous, but I really loved China. You should have been there," Kitty went on forever, chatting about her world travels.
After dinner, Lee drove to Kitty's apartment. "Come on in," she invited.
Lee's first inclination was to decline. Then he thought, why not?
Once inside, Kitty poured them both some wine, and said, I think I'll slip into something more...or should I say something less?" She giggled and disappeared into her bedroom.
Lee fought to overcome his feelings of guilt and discomfort. Not only did he not want to be here, he also felt like he was cheating! Why should I feel like I'm cheating? That's ludicrous!
Kitty came out of her room moments later in a red silk robe with an elaborate dragon design. "Like it? I bought it in China!"
"It's beautiful," Lee admitted, then thought: It would look gorgeous on Amanda, with her soft brown hair and eyes...
What am I thinking?! His mind was racing, his heart pounding. Kitty was closing in on him.
"You look a little...uncomfortable," she said. "Why don't you loosen up?" She began to remove his tie. "You know, you used to take care of all this yourself while I was changing...what's happened to you?"
"Nothing," Lee lied, both to her and to himself.
"Bologne," Kitty argued, sitting down on the couch beside him. "What's her name?"
"Kitty, there's no one. I've just had a rough week, that's all," Lee offered lamely.
"So we're going to play that way, are we? Well if there's no one else, then kiss me," she said, and puckered.
Lee hesistated, started moving towards her. He pulled back, and she opened her eyes.
"Spill it, Lee. Who has your heart?"
"Fine. I'll guess. We'll start with A..." she watched him, noted the look in his eyes at the mere mention of the letter A.
"Amy. Adrian. Annie. Anne. Anna. Allison. Abby. Agnes. Ariana. Ariel. Amanda."
Lee's face registered recognition. Emotion. Guilt. Love.
"Aha! Her name's Amanda." Kitty cried triumphantly. "That was easy!"
"You've got it all wrong. I responded to the name because Amanda is my partner at work, that's all," Lee explained.
"No." Kitty shook her head. "I know that look in your eyes. I've seen it many times. You're a smitten man, Lee."
"You don't understand..." Lee couldn't finish. He gave up. "I don't know. I don't know what I'm feeling. We aren't even dating. But I feel so guilty, just being here."
"That't because you're cheating," she said. "No, not on her," she held up her hand at the look he gave her. "You're cheating yourself out of what you really want. You want to be with her."
Lee sighed. "I'm sorry, Kitty, but I think I'll call it a night."
As Lee got into his car, Kitty watched him from the window. "Another one bites the dust," she thought ruefully.
Lee drove home thoughtfully. He had a lot to think about. He needed time to explore these new feelings, to analyze what was going on.
The next morning, Lee apologized to Amanda. "I'm sorry," he said. "I got in too late to call you. I'm sorry I got upset. I had no right."
"Why *were* you so upset, Lee?" Amanda asked.
"I had a lot on my mind, and I guess Henderson just gets on my nerves," he told her.
"Well maybe that means John and I are a good match. I get on your nerves, too," Amanda joked.
Lee only smiled, somewhat uncomfortably. "Not that much anymore," he said quietly.
"Oh?" Amanda smiled back. "I'm glad to hear it."
"Are you going to go out with Henderson again?" Lee couldn't stop himself from asking.
Amanda thought for a moment. Something was going on here. She decided to play it cool. "I don't know. I don't think so. We had a nice time, but there were no sparks. You have to have sparks, or it's just not worth your while," she sighed.
"Yeah," Lee agreed, smiling with relief. "Sparks are important." Sparks were flying at that moment between Lee and Amanda, but neither acknowledged them.
"Well, let's get to work, shall we? We have a lot of work ahead of us." Lee rubbed his hands together.
"We certainly do," Amanda agreed with a small smile.
The End . . . for now
Author's Notes: Kitty was the last woman Lee ever
took out. It would be months before he and Amanda finally got it together,
but Lee Stetson was already off the market.