Timeline/Summary: Late summer after Season 4…the family, Billy, and Mrs. Marsten know they're married, but not the rest of the Agency, not yet anyway.
Author's Notes: Thanks to Ceeg for beta-ing this for me.
Why her life had taken that sudden detour into the `Twilight Zone' Francine wasn't exactly sure however it must have begun the moment she had asked Beeman for help. She had been desperate, that much was certain and the only explanation. She wouldn't have done it otherwise. Today had started out rather uneventfully, at first…
She had gotten up early and gotten ready without any problems. Just as she was leaving Janice had called about the litter of puppies. She met Janice for breakfast on the way to work and picked up a picture of the puppy. She had checked in with Billy after that, only to discover he was in one of his moods, mumbling something about Las Vegas. She made the mistake of crossing the sarcasm line and ended up being sent to pick up boxes of files over at State that had to be delivered to the Agency, namely the Q Bureau.
Upon arriving at the blind entrance to the Agency, she had been forced
to get Beeman's help in order to get the files out of the car, into the
building, and onto the freight elevator. When she had gotten onto
the elevator she could have sworn the lights had
flickered briefly. It was no wonder no one took that elevator unless it was absolutely necessary. Luckily, she had been able to dismiss Beeman downstairs because Ragmop had joined her on the ride up and had promised to get all the boxes moved into the Q Bureau for her.
With that behind her, she had walked to the Q Bureau door and heard Lee asking, "So what happens to us now?" She could almost see him running his hand through his hair. It was then that she heard Billy's voice and decided that he must have caught them kissing again. Her suspicions had been confirmed when she walked in and found Lee wearing some of Amanda's lipstick.
She had given them a very cheery "Good Morning, all." only to have Lee practically bite her head off. She had then gotten rather agitated and said, "Well let's see if I try and do something nice for Amanda again, if that's the reception I get."
Amanda had immediately intervened and apologized for Lee's behavior and asked what she was talking about. She had told Amanda that she knew about the boys wanting a dog and that a friend's dog had just had puppies recently and Janice would give her one of the puppies if she was interested. She then showed Amanda the picture, which was what brought her here, the `Twilight Zone'….
Amanda was gushing over the picture but when Lee saw it he immediately
began to say no way would they get that dog for the
boys. Amanda began to argue back that he was the one who had initially encouraged the boys about a dog. In fact it had been his fault, he had even used that Stetson charm on her mother to convince her that the boys needed a dog. So why was he balking now that they were being offered a perfectly good dog for free?
Francine watched and was in awe of the way they communicated; neither one seemed to be taking any breaths between sentences. She leaned over and said to Billy, "You've been giving them too many assignments as a married couple, I think they may be starting to believe it."
"Just be quiet and listen Francine you might learn something," Billy said and then placed a finger over his lips and glared to show that he meant business. Why he wanted her to be quiet she couldn't fathom, because Lee and Amanda didn't act like they knew there was anyone else in the room.
The verbal tennis match between the two was slowly hypnotizing her and she knew that Billy was paying more attention to her than to Lee and Amanda. What was she missing, what could she possibly learn from listening to them argue? That was when she heard it: "Honey"; Lee had said "Honey". She mentally shook her head and began to listen more closely.
"Why any dog but that one? Dear, you know that you got the boys all geared up and now that I'm willing to go along with all of you, you say `not that dog'." As Amanda was speaking Lee began to move closer to her, put his arms around her waist, winked his left eye and started to smile. She smiled back in understanding. "Don't you try and use that Stetson charm on me, Buster, it may work on my mother, but I'm immune to it." He kissed her lightly on the nose and she started to squirm. Poking the index finger of her right hand into the center of his chest she pushed him away slightly, waved the picture in his face, and said, "Give me one good reason, Mr. Stetson, why we shouldn't get this cute little dog."
Francine looked at Billy and found that he was trying desperately not to laugh, what has she missed? Okay, so they're dating again, but why would Lee have any say in what dog she gets for the boys? Unless, they really are married… no that's out of the question, it's impossible. Lee Stetson and Amanda King, no way.
He took the picture out of her hand, and held it up in his left, keeping
his right arm around her waist, he said, "I can give you
four. One, if you think the boys are starting to eat us out of house and home, wait until you see how much this dog can eat. Two, we won't have any furniture left once he gets through chewing on it. Three, the backyard is too small and we would have to move so he would have enough room to run around. And four, this cute little dog, Mrs. Stetson, is a Great Dane."
If Francine had been a cartoon character her chin would have hit the floor along with her purse. She had been hearing things; they were playing a joke-- both plausible explanations and yet somehow, she wasn't too sure, after all anything can happen in the `Twilight Zone.' She was almost certain that she could hear that eerie music playing somewhere in the background.
The sound of her purse hitting the floor was enough to get the attention of Lee and Amanda, both of whom had the most amused looks on their faces. She glanced over at Billy and saw a look on his face she didn't quite understand, it was almost as if he expected her to faint or something. That was when it finally sank in, this wasn't the `Twilight Zone' after all, they weren't dating… they were married. The when, why, and how didn't matter at the moment, how she would react did.
A number of possibilities crossed her mind. She quickly ruled out her gun, there were too many witnesses. She could get angry, rant and rave but that would accomplish nothing. Even… she would definitely get even, but how? She needed time to think. Just do the unexpected and get out of here, Desmond. So she walked up to Amanda and Lee, gave them each a hug a said, "Congratulations and best wishes you two. You deserve nothing but the best! And let me know what you decide about the dog, Janice said that she'd hold him for you."
As Francine headed towards the door, she said, "I'm going to head down to the bullpen and get everything set up for the staff meeting, I'll see you all in a few minutes." She then walked gracefully out of the room pulling the door to, but not closing it completely. She leaned up against the wall to listen to the reaction of the three open-mouthed agents she had left behind.
*****Inside the Q Bureau*****
Lee sighed and pulled Amanda closer, "She took that well."
Amanda looked up into Lee's eyes, "Yeah, too well."
Lee raised his eyebrows at her and said, "That was pretty easy, wasn't it?"
Billy started to laugh, "Does the term cruel and unusual punishment mean anything to you?" The expressions on their faces made him laugh even harder, until he remembered that she would probably want to get back at him, also.