Summary: Just another picture of life in the Stetson household.
Feedback: Always welcome.
Archive: Yes! Yes! Yes! Anywhere is fine.
Disclaimer: I do not own the characters in this story. They are the sole property of Warner Brother's Television, and of Shoot The Moon Productions. I make no money from this story, only enjoyment.
Author's Notes: I know that my stories have, so far, just been fluff pieces, but I really like the idea of showing what life outside the agency would be like for this family, especially since I think Lee would have thrown himself head long into being a husband, and father, and all around family man. I think it was what he really wanted all along, he just didn't know he wanted it, until he met Amanda. I really hope you enjoy this one. I do this for fun, and have a great time writing my stories. I apologize for any typos, or missing commas, etc.
The idea for this story came from objects that were in my grandparent's attic.
"Guy's, it looks like we need more boxes," Lee said to the boys, as the pile in the middle of the floor grew bigger by the minute. "Why does your mother keep all this stuff?" he complained, throwing a baseball glove, that would obviously never be used again, on top of the pile.
"You have to tell mom you're throwing that away," Jamie snickered. "That's the glove Phillip caught his first out with, and then left out in the rain for a week."
"Mom always saves corny stuff like that," Phillip added, "See, here's Jamie's Superman pajamas," he laughed out loud, as he held the faded blue garment up in front of his brother to measure its size. "Hmmm, still fits," he continued to laugh.
Jamie quickly grabbed the pj's, and threw them under the pile, hoping they would be lost forever. "Keep it up, Phillip, and I'll give mom something else to save, like what you keep under your bed in that shoe box, way in the back."
"Just try it, worm brain, and I'll take those pj's to school, and hang them in the locker room for everyone to see," Phillip threatened.
Lee had to stifle a laugh at the way `his sons' were trying to out do one another. He felt proud and honored that they had included him in their little war against each other, even if he was only listening. There was a time when Jamie wouldn't say a word when they were in the same room together. They sure had come a long way since his and Amanda's secret marriage, and their confession to the family. He was happy that Dotty and Amanda had gone downstairs leaving the men to bond, although he secretly knew they had both gotten tired of cleaning, and had gone downstairs with the excuse of finding more boxes, leaving the men to do the hard work.
"Al right, Al right," Lee began, trying to break up the fight. "Phillip run downstairs, and see what's keeping your mom with those boxes. Come on, Jamie. We'll hide those pajamas."
Suddenly, the calm of the attic was shattered by a loud teenage voice. "HEY MOM!, WE NEED MORE BOXES!" Phillip yelled down the steps.
"Phillip," Lee said, covering his ears, "I said go down... never mind. That should at least get their attention," Amanda's three men all laughed simultaneously.
Seconds later Dotty and Amanda appeared in the doorway with several more boxes for the men to fill.
"Phillip, sweetheart, don't yell. You can walk down the stairs, and tell me that," Amanda explained to her oldest son, as Lee and the boys continued to laugh.
Amanda walked over, and grabbed Lee around the waist, who in turn encircled her waist with his strong arms. "Well, is it going OK up here?" she asked.
"Oh yeah, just fine. We'll be finished in no time. I hope you have a big dinner ready for us. We've worked up quite an appetite, and you two have been downstairs long enough," Lee teased, with a smile.
"Oh, you figured that one out did you?" Amanda laughed, staring into his eyes.
"Uh-huh," Lee laughed, and started in for a kiss, when a site caught Amanda's eye, and she turned to look at the growing pile in the middle of the floor.
"Oh, don't throw this away. Who put this here?" she questioned, picking up the baseball glove that lay on top.
"He did it," Phillip pointed at Lee. "Jamie told him not to."
"Lee, this is the glove that that Phillip caught his first fly ball with. We have to keep this," Amanda said, as she walked over to the shelf, and put the glove in the box marked `Phillip'.
"Aww, mom," it smells," Phillip complained.
"That's because somebody left in the back yard in the rain," She walked over to her son, and placed a box in his hand. "It stays," Amanda ordered, and ended that conversation.
"Well, I'd love to stay and, ahhh, work some more, but I have to get ready for my date," Dotty began. "Captain Kurt said six o'clock sharp, and something about the air show, and wear comfortable shoes. I wonder what he has in mind?" her voice trailed off down the stairs, as the four remaining occupants in the attic broke out in giggles."
"Mother, always did know how to get out of work," Amanda laughed.
Lee grabbed her around the waist again, "Like mother, like daughter," he laughed into her ear.
"You better be nice to the cook, Buster," Amanda replied, and headed toward the door. "You guys finish up up here, and I'll think about ordering pizza," she glanced back over her shoulder, with a devilish grin, as she headed down the steps behind her mother.
"OK, fellas you heard her," Let's get back to work," Lee ordered.
"Yeah," Phillip agreed, "I want to finish this today," He walked over to the box marked Phillip, picked up the glove, sniffed it, and with a sour statement, threw it back on the pile. "Stupid glove."
"Hehehe," Jamie laughed, "At least she didn't find my pajamas."
Lee watched as the two boys again set about emptying shelves. He was going to enjoy this being a father thing, very much. When neither boy was looking, Lee picked up Phillip's rotten glove, and Jamie's Superman pajamas, threw them in the box marked `Lee's things', and closed the lid. `Amanda would kill me if I let those things get lost,' he thought to himself.
"Man, come on, hurry up. I'm starving," Phillip complained.
"Well, go down and tell you're mother we're almost done," Lee began, as Phillip headed for the door. "Wait!" Lee stopped him, knowing what was about to happen. "On second thought, we'll tell her together when we head down," All three laughed.
"Jamie, can you reach back on the bottom shelf, and pull out those boxes?" Lee asked.
"Yeah, no problem," Jamie sat down on the floor, and began unloading the shelf, box by box, stopping to look into each one. "Papers," he said, as he handed the first box up to Lee. "Papers," he said, as he handed the second box up to Lee.
"Your mom sure does keep a lot of papers," Lee shook his head.
"Oh, these are our old school papers," Jamie informed him. "I think mom has every paper we ever got back since Kindergarten. I don't know why she bothered to keep Phillip's, they all have F's on them."
"Shut up, Geek," Phillip squealed at him, as he whacked Jamie over the head with a paper.
"Ouch, stop," Jamie returned, as he reached around to punch Phillip on the leg.
"Guys stop it, we're almost done, don't start now," Lee warned,
surprising himself that he was developing a fatherly tone to his
"Al right, here," Jamie replied. "There's just a few more boxes here in the back, and something up against the wall," he reached over and pulled out the first box, but didn't hand it up to Lee and Phillip like he had the others.
"Hey what are these?" he questioned, looking up at Lee, as he pulled out one tiny round tin after another,
Phillip squatted down next to Jamie for a better look, "There's tons of these things in here." He said, as he handed one up to Lee, and stared as Lee opened the tin to see what was inside.
"Guys, I'll tell you what these are. These are film canisters. These are old 8mm film canisters, and look... there's film inside them." Lee held the tin down so that the boys could see, and knelt down next to them to see the contents of the box. "Wow, I haven't seen one of these in a long time. What else is in there?" Lee began to rummage through the box.
"Look, there's writing on some of them," Phillip pointed out. "What do they say?" all three were now pouring through the box.
"Well, the writing's a little faded, but this one says...1969," Lee announced, as he reached in to examine another canister.
"Hey, this one says, Anniversary Party 1959," Jamie announced the words on the one he was holding.
"Ahhh, guys," Phillip began, "Look at this," he held it
up for Lee and Jamie to see, as he read the words, "This one is mom's
graduation, he held up the can that read `Amanda's Graduation.'
Jamie reached in the box for another tin, but put it back when he read the words that were written on the label.
"Hey, what's that one say?" Phillip questioned, as he reached in and retrieved the canister, read the words, and put it back in the box, just as his brother had done.
"OK, what's up you two? What's it say?" Lee questioned.
"Uhhhh, nothing," Jamie began.
"Yeah," Phillip continued, the words were too blurry to read."
"Uh-huh, sure," Lee said, as he reached into the box, and read the label. "Oh, now I see. Thanks guys, but you don't have to hide this from me. You're mom and I don't have any secrets, including this," Lee gave them each a pat on the back, as he placed the film labeled `Amanda's Wedding' back into the box. "Besides, I bet your mom would like to see it again." He reassured the boys, as he carried the box over to the top of the steps.
"How are we going to watch them?" Phillip questioned.
"Good question," Lee replied, as he stood in the attic thinking for a minute. "Wait a minute. Jamie, did you say there were other things on that shelf in the back?"
"Yeah, why?" Jamie asked.
"Oh, just a thought, but I have a feeling..." Lee bent down to be able to see the remaining contents of the bottom shelf. "Uh-huh, I thought so, these things are usually kept together," he said, as he pulled out a large black box.
"Cool, what is it?" both boys asked.
"This, guys, is an 8mm projector, the kind you use to watch 8mm films," Lee informed them.
"Cool," Jamie said, eying the box that at first had looked like just another piece of junk in the attic.
"Awesome," Phillip chimed in, taking the box Lee handed to him to the steps, and setting it next to the box of films.
"There's more," Lee added, "But you have to help me. It's stuck behind the shelves, and this table," Lee gestured to the table next to the them, that was piled high with boxes and old toys. "Do you guys think you can help me move this?"
"Sure, No problem," the boys answered simultaneously.
Lee and the boys shoved and pushed the heavy table out of the way, until there was just enough room for one of them to squeeze through to the other side.
"Jamie, do you want to get that other thing you saw?" Lee asked.
"Sure," Jamie replied eagerly, and began to inch through the space next to the shelf. "Uh, how am I supposed to get this thing out, it's big."
"Try standing it up on its end first, and then handing it to us," Lee gave him directions.
"Ok," Jamie shrugged his shoulders, and shook his head. He tried several times, and on the third attempt, he was able to stand the large round object up. "Man, this is heavy," Jamie complained.
"Whimp," Phillip laughed, and caught a stern glance from Lee.
"Yeah, well, you try doing this in this small space, at least I'm helping, and not standing there picking my nose," Jamie shot back at his brother.
"Ok, enough already. Everybody's helping," Lee once again stopped the fighting. "Now Jamie, Can you scoot that over here to me and Phillip? Phillip you grab the bottom, and I'll grab the top."
With just a little effort the large metallic, blue, metal case was free from behind the shelf, and being supported by Phillip and Lee, as Jamie squeezed out from behind the table.
"What's that?" Jamie asked. "It looks like what I put my fishing poles in, only bigger."
"I'll show you what it is," Lee responded to his young son's question. "Jamie, see that metal handle over here?"
"Yeah," Jamie said, looking over the case to see the other side.
"Give a pull," Lee requested.
Jamie ducked under the object, and pulled the handle.
"Oh, cool," Phillip gasped when he saw Jamie reveal a large, white, rectangular movie screen. "I knew I'd seen one of these before. We have these at school."
"Ok, guys, I think it's time to surprise your mom," Lee suggested. Jamie, you take the films. Phillip, you carry and camera, and I'll get this. Let's go."
The three of them bounded out of the attic, the rest of the cleaning forgotten. They couldn't wait to watch their discovery, and Lee couldn't wait to see the look on his wife's face.
"Hey, mom, look what we found," Phillip burst out.
"What in the world," Amanda walked over to examine their find, as Phillip, Jamie, and Lee stood back looking very pleased with themselves.
Lee's smile grew wider as he watched Amanda examine the contents of the boxes, and saw recognition dawn on her face. He walked over and put his arm around her shoulders, and the boys joined them at the island, each grinning as big as Lee.
"Oh, my gosh, where did you find these? I had completely forgotten about these," Amanda continued to dig through the box of films.
"They were way in the back, mom," Jamie announced, "It was the last thing we cleaned out."
"Do you know what these are?" she questioned again, with a shocked smile on her face.
"Yeah, they're films," Phillip said knowingly.
Amanda gave him a smile. "That's right sweetheart, these are my father's old 8mm films. I thought they were lost a long time ago. I thought I'd never see them again."
"Well, we found everything we need to watch them," Lee said, "So tonight, I guess it'll be pizza, and a movie." They all laughed.
"Thank you," Amanda smiled up at Lee, and rewarded him with a kiss. "Thank you all," she walked over and hugged the boys, "Oh, I've got the three best men in the world living right here in my house."
"Can we watch them tonight, mom?" Jamie asked.
"Of course we can, sweetheart," she hugged him again. "Oh, mother will want to see these," Amanda walked over to the stairs, and called up, "Mother, can you come down here for a minute?"
A few seconds passed, and Dotty could be heard coming down the steps. "Is Kurt here?" she asked, "Oh, he's early, he said six o'clock."
"No, mother, Captain Kurt isn't here yet. I just want to show you something. Look what Lee and the boys found in the attic." Amanda guided her mother into the kitchen.
It took a few minutes for Dotty to recognize what she was looking at, but when she finally did she had the same reaction as Amanda had. "Oh, my gosh," she began. "I had forgotten about these."
"Grandma, are you sure you don't want to stay here tonight?" Phillip questioned. "We're going to watch them."
Dotty reached out and hugged Phillip. "Oh dear," Dotty's voice changed. "I wish you could, but we can't watch these anymore."
"What, why not, mother?" Amanda asked, surprise written all over face.
"Sweetheart, the last time your Daddy and I watched these, the bulb in the projector burned out. Carl looked, and called all over, but nobody carried that type anymore. So I put those away, and then we he died they just kind of got shoved out of the way, I guess. I'm sorry, baby," Dotty reached out, and hugged Amanda, as Lee watched his wife's happiness dissolve into disappointment.
"Oh...Oh well, " was all Amanda could say, and Lee wanted so badly to do something, that would cheer her up. He knew she was looking forward to watching her old memories again.
Dotty let go of Amanda, as the sound of knocking was heard from the front door. "There's Kurt, Dotty announced," giving Amanda a motherly look. With a kiss goodbye, Dotty again said, "I'm sorry."
"That's Ok, mother, you couldn't help it. Have a good time tonight," Amanda tried to hide her disappointment, but Lee was not fooled.
The foursome watched as Dotty left for her evening. Lee could feel the down hearted mood in the room. They had all been looking forward to watching those movies. He knew the boys wanted to see their family before they joined it, and he was looking forward to seeing a younger Amanda. Sure, he'd seen pictures, but actual moving images were altogether different.
Lee walked over and hugged Amanda. "I'm sorry, I wish there was something I could do. I know you all wanted to see those. Hey...," Lee said, trying to cheer everyone up. "How about after the pizza, we go out to the movies. I know it's not home movies, but I'm sure we can find something to watch,"
Amanda looked up at her husband. "Sounds great, she forced a smile. Boy's, you go wash up. The pizza will be here any minute," she turned to Lee, as the boys ran up stairs. "And besides, I've got a movie date with my husband, and my boys that I don't want to be late for." She smiled up at him, and kissed him again, and was rewarded by the same in return.
Lee couldn't get the sad image of his beautiful wife out of his mind all night. Not on the drive to the theater, not as he stood proudly in the ticket line with his family, and not as they watched Tom Hanks grow from a boy to a man after making a wish.
During the movie Lee and Philip went out to the concession stand for the third time. It amazed him how much two boys could eat. As they stood in line, Lee trying to decide whether $4 for popcorn was a national conspiracy, and Phillip trying to look cool for the blond working behind the counter, Lee overheard the conversation that the theater owner was having with another patron.
"Oh, man it doesn't matter. This thing'll be out on video in a few months anyway. Those video stores are killing my business. I tell you..."
`Video,' Lee thought to himself. `Of course, how stupid am I. Great intelligence work, Stetson.' Lee knew how he could again surprise Amanda, and this time she wouldn't be disappointed.
Lee sat back down next to Amanda in the theater, and placed a kiss on her cheek.
"What are you so happy about?" she asked, glancing at her husband with a smile.
"Oh, you'll find out," he gave her a sly grin.
"Care to fill me in on it?" she questioned.
"No, not really. Just watch the movie. What did I miss?" He smiled at her, grabbed her hand, and then suddenly became very interested in the bigger than life piano on the movie screen.
Amanda's mind was working over time, but she knew she'd eventually find out what he was up to. She intended to try to get it out of him when they got home, one way or another.
"Morning, beautiful," Lee reached over, and gave his wife a passionate kiss.
A quiet moan escaped Amanda's lips, and when they broke apart, she said, "I'll never get tired of waking up this way."
"Listen," Lee began, hoping Amanda wouldn't see through his plan. "You sleep a little longer. I have a meeting to be at this morning, so I won't be back at the office until about ten," He hated lying to her, but he decided it wasn't really a lie, if it would help Amanda feel better. She had tried to hide it, but Lee could still tell she was a little depressed about not being able to watch those old home movies.
"Oh, no," she started, as Lee could see his plan crumble into pieces. "I have too much work to do. Besides, what would my boss think. No, I'll go in with you."
`Damn,' he thought to himself. `How am I going to pull this off?' "OK, suit yourself," he kissed her again, and rolled out of bed.
An idea formed quickly in his mind. "Hey, Amanda," he yelled from the bathroom. "Could you do my a favor this morning?"
"What?" Amanda yelled back.
"You'll have to take your own car, but could you drop my shirts off at the cleaners?" he hoped this would work.
"Lee Stetson," Amanda poked her head around the bathroom door. "Are you trying to get rid of me this morning?"
"What are you talking about?" Lee said, hoping he didn't sound too nervous. "Of course not, I just need clean shirts."
"Uh-huh," Amanda looked at him suspiciously. "You're acting awfully funny. You've been acting funny since the movies Saturday night. What are you up to?" Amanda asked, wrapping her arms around her husband's waist.
"Amanda, I'm not up to anything. I just need to be at a meeting early, and I don't have time to drop my shirts off. Please help me out," he leaned over and gave her another passionate kiss.
"Al right, but I still think you're up to something," Amanda let go, and glanced backward at him as she walked back into their bedroom, and pulled on her robe.
Later, before they both left the house. Lee took advantage of Amanda's shower time to go up to the attic, retrieve the box of films that Dotty had the boys put back on Sunday, and hide them away in the trunk of his car. His plan was now in motion.
After a kiss goodbye, and another "I don't know what you're up to, but I'll find out" look from Amanda, Lee drove quickly, trying to make it to work before Amanda caught up with him.
He stuck his head in the firing range, hoping to find the person he was looking for. No luck. `Oh, man, come on, be here.' He tried the property room, and finally found who he was looking for.
"Hey, Leatherneck," Lee walked over, and placed the box on the counter.
"Mornin', Lee," You're here early. What's the matter, you and the Mrs. get into a fight, and you had to make a quick exit?" Leatherneck chuckled.
"Very funny, no, we didn't have a fight," Lee said sarcastically.
"But I might be in the dog house if you can't do this for me, and
quick. Amanda already knows I'm up to something."
"I don't know my man, I don't want to get in the middle of marital bliss," Leatherneck again laughed out loud.
"No, it's nothing like that, it's a surprise for Amanda," Lee continued.
"Oh, in that case, what do you need? Anything for Mrs. S," Leatherneck replied, eying the box that Lee had deposited in front of him.
"What can you do with these?" Lee questioned, pushing the box closer to the man behind the counter.
""Where'd you get these?" Leatherneck asked, after peeking in
to see what was inside. "These things are ancient."
"I know, they were in Amanda's at...our attic," Lee corrected himself. "At home. They're Amanda's dad's old home movies."
"No way," Leatherneck chuckled. "Pictures of the family, what do they look like?"
"I wish I knew, " Lee shrugged his shoulders. "The bulb in the projector was burnt out, and we couldn't watch them. Amanda's was so disappointed."
"So, I take it that's where I come in," Leatherneck said, picking up one of the film canisters, and opening it to reveal its contents.
"Yeah, I was hoping that you could help. Is there a way to put these on video tape, so we can watch them on the VCR?" Lee asked hopefully.
"Lee, my man, that's the easiest thing there is to do with these things," Leatherneck put the film can back in the box, and smiled at his friend.
"That's great, so can you do it?" Lee questioned.
"Well, just for my close friends, and their wives," and with that Leatherneck agreed to help.
"How soon can you have them done?" Lee asked, hoping it wouldn't take too long.
"Well now, let's see," Leatherneck looked around to survey his workload, and then looked through the box of films. "There's quite few here, but if I just put them through the machine, and let it run, and work through lunch, which'll cost you. I should have them done by the time you leave tonight."
A big smile lit up Lee Stetson's face. "OK, I owe you big time, Leatherneck, just name it, anything you want," Lee shook his hand, and he turned to leave.
"I plan on taking you up on that," Leatherneck laughed.
"Oh," Lee remembered, just as he reached the door. "Do me favor, and.."
"Don't mention this to the Mrs.," Leatherneck finished for him.
"Thanks, like I said I owe you," Smiling, Lee shut the door, leaving Leatherneck laughing at the thought of what Mrs. King had done to the Scarecrow.
"Oh, yeah, he's definitely a married man, that's for sure," Leatherneck chuckled to himself, and turned to thread the films through the tape machine.
Several times Amanda looked up at him, with the same "You're up to something" look on her face that had been there when they left for work that morning. Around lunch time she had tried to use her `interrogation skills' to coax the information out of him, and although it took all of Lee's will power to resist his wife's advances, he was able, just barely, to break away.
Finally, at 5:30 they decided to call it a day. They walked hand in hand out of the Q Bureau, and down to the parking garage. Lee's mind was racing. He had to get back inside, and get those tapes, but how? `Come on Stetson, think,' he demanded of himself. `Think!'
"Amanda," he finally said, with an exasperated air in his voice. "You go on, I'll be right behind you, I forgot the file I needed to look over tonight."
"Lee," Amanda turned around, equally exasperated. "Now, you just stop right there, What's going on? You didn't want me with you this morning, and now you're trying to get rid of me, again."
"Amanda, you're paranoid. I just forgot the file, that's all. Now, go on, before it gets too dark. I worry about you driving in the dark," He took her in his arms, and placed a light kiss on her lips. "I'll be right behind you."
"Right," Amanda gave in. "And we'll have a long discussion about this when you get home."
"Yes, we will," he kissed her again. "Now, be careful, and buckle up."
"Uh-huh," Amanda eyed him, as she shut her door, and backed out of the parking space. `You know,' she thought to herself. ` For a spy, he's not very good at being sneaky.'
Lee watched her drive away, turned and headed back to the elevator, praying that Leatherneck had the tapes ready, or he really would be having that long discussion with Amanda.
"I hope you're not thinking of having that for dinner," she heard a familiar voice whisper in her ear, as she felt familiar arms encircle her waist.
"Yeah, I thought this would be perfect for dinner tonight," Amanda replied, without turning around.
"Well, then what are we going to do with this?" her husband's voice questioned.
Amanda turned in his embrace, as he let go, and held up the pizza he'd brought for his family's dinner.
"Oh, so that's why you were late? You decided to make dinner," Amanda mused.
"Yeah, that was my plan," Lee replied. "Dinner and a movie," he held up a video tape for his wife to see.
"What movie?" Amanda asked, taking the tape from Lee to examine the title. "Uh, Lee, there's no title on this movie.
"I know," Lee said, as he walked to the cupboard, and got the plates out for dinner."
"You know?" Amanda questioned.
"It's a surprise," Lee said slyly.
"Oh, one of those movies; one we'll have to watch after the boys go to bed," Amanda shook her head up and down knowingly.
"No, it's not one of those movies, Amanda" Lee replied, as he walked over and took her in his arms once again. "It's one for the whole family. I just thought I'd bring something different to make up for my sneaky behavior," Lee smiled and kissed his wife.
"So," Amanda said when they pulled apart. "You admit, you were being sneaky,"
"Yeah, I was," Lee responded, with another kiss.
"Are you going to tell me why?" Amanda questioned.
"You'll find out," Lee whispered, and again his lips met hers, just as the boys came down the stairs.
"Ugh, Jamie run, they're at it again. Phillip whined.
"Phillip, leave them alone," he was admonished by his grandmother, who followed closely behind.
"Hey, pizza on a Monday. Man, you must have screwed up big time," Jamie laughed at Lee.
"Hey, can't I just do something nice for my family once in a while?" Lee joking replied.
"Yeah," Phillip started. "I could go for you being this nice more often."
"Ok, Ok, everyone get your pizza, and join me in the family room," Lee held up the tape.
"A movie too, on a school night," Phillip was astonished, "Boy, how do we rate?"
A few minutes of commotion in the kitchen followed, as the pizza was divided, as Amanda wished she'd had time to make a salad, as Phillip complained that there wasn't enough ice, and as Lee waited impatiently by the TV. Finally, everyone was seated, and Lee pushed play on the VCR, then joined his wife on the sofa, as the countdown started on the screen. Five...four...
"What, no previews," Jamie complained.
"Shut up," Phillip said, with a mouthful of food."
"Boys, " the adults all said at one time.
"Just watch the movie," Amanda finished as the screen went dark, and before her eyes was a picture she thought she'd never see again.
Dotty was the first to voice her amazement. "Oh, my gosh," she said, nearly dropping her pizza. "That's my baby."
"Amanda's mouth fell open, as she realized what she watching, and she turned to look at Lee.
"Surprise," he smiled, and kissed his wife.
"Is this what you were sneaking around for?" she asked him.
"Yep,...and you thought I was up to something," he laughed.
All Amanda could do was stare at the man sitting beside her. The most wonderful man in the world. "I love you," were the words she was finally able to form, and she leaned over and kissed her husband again, before turning to watch the images on the tape.
"Hey, grandma, is that mom?" Phillip turned and questioned Dotty, who now had tears running down her cheek.
"Yes, sweetheart it is, that's your mother on the day your Grandpa and I brought her home from the hospital. "Oh, look at those tiny hands." "Yeah, wave to Daddy."
Lee stared at the image on the screen. "That is the most beautiful baby I've ever seen," he said, and put his arm around Amanda, who nestled down next to his side. Lee watched amazed that the perfect little bundle sleeping in her mother's arms had grown up to be the beautiful woman who was now sitting next to him. He thanked god that she had.
"I remember now," Dotty remarked, "I wrote `Amanda's first day home' on this film. I think we watched it over and over again. I'm surprised we didn't wear it out. Oh," she said her eyes fixed to the TV, "What a big yawn. My beautiful little girl."
Amanda got up, and crossed over to her mother's side. "I love you mother," she said, as she placed a kiss on her mother's cheek. Dotty turned, and held Amanda's face in her hands, " And look at her now, all grown up."
Dotty watched more of the day she brought her only child home, and then looked over at Lee. Amanda had returned to his side, and Dotty could see tears welling up in both of their eyes. "Lee Stetson," Dotty began, getting up from her chair and coming to stand in front of him.
Lee looked up at her, hoping she liked the surprise.
"This is the most wonderful thing anyone has ever done. Thank you," she reached down to hug him, and placed, a kiss on his cheek. "Amanda couldn't have done any better," she whispered, before retuning to her seat.
Amanda looked over at Lee, and whispered, "No, I couldn't have," Again, she kissed her husband.
"Hey, this in only one tape," he said, trying to lighten the mood. "I've got seven more in the car."
Lee watched the images that danced across the screen of his wife as a young girl. Amanda, in a party dress, dancing on her father's feet. Amanda, on vacation catching a prize fish with her proud father right next her. Amanda, in the kitchen of a big old house, helping Dotty bake Christmas cookies, and then Amanda the following day, Christmas Morning, unwrapping her new bike. Amanda, as a cheerleader at the big game, and getting her diploma as an honor student. He wished more that anything that he'd known her then, but he took solace in the fact that she had grown up in a family feeling very loved, and very protected. It made him wonder what kind of movies he would be watching had his parents lived long enough to take any.
Amanda nervously looked over at Lee as the image on the screen changed from her in her cheerleading uniform, to her in a long white dress, and flowing vail. Lee leaned over to her, and with a few simple words took her nervousness of him seeing those images away. "God, you were beautiful," he tightened his grip on her shoulder as if to say, "but you're mine now," and she tightened her grip on his knee, as it if to say "but I'm yours now." In the back of his mind Lee wished that he'd been able to give her another wedding like that.
Other images flashed on the screen that night, images of Phillip and Jamie as newborns being held by their mother, playing in the yard, and dressing up for Halloween. Lee noticed that Joe was conspicuously absent from most of these movies. He longed to be included in the pictures of this happy family, but that was a time before he came into the picture. However, he still wished he was the one who Amanda handed Phillip to, or who picked up Jamie after a fall off his tricycle, and not Joe, but he couldn't change that. All he could do was try to build new Images with his family.
Later that night after the tapes had been labeled and put away, after everyone had gone to bed, and after Amanda had thanked him over and over again, in a way only she could, Lee lay in bed thinking back to the Images that he had seen, and forming another plan.
"Morning, handsome," she whispered, as Lee leaned to kiss her. "Have you been watching me all night?" she questioned.
"Most of It," he spoke quietly. "I could watch you forever."
"But, we need to get up," Amanda said, reminding him that today was a work day.
"OK, he said, kissed her again, and rolled out of bed, only to stop and turn to face her. "Amanda, I need to ask another favor." After a pause he continued. "Could you take your car again this morning?"
"Being sneaky again, Scarecrow?" Amanda laughed.
"Well, sort of, but I'll let you in on this one when I get back," he promised.
"Well, when you put it that way," Amanda rolled back onto the pillow, and flashed her husband the smile that she knew drove him crazy. Lee climbed back into bed; so what if they were a little late for work.
Later that morning, after he'd seen Amanda off, he got into his car and headed in the opposite direction. Now, he stood in front of a counter, waiting his turn in line.
"Sir," the voice from behind the counter roused him back to reality. "Can I help you?"
"Ah, yeah," Lee began. "I need to buy a video camera."
"Are you watching that video again?" she softly questioned.
Lee didn't jump when he heard her voice. He had heard her soft footsteps coming down the stairs, and knew she had been watching him.
"I told you, that's the most beautiful baby I've ever seen," he whispered, and eased over so she could join him on the couch.
"Yeah, I guess she is pretty cute," Amanda said smugly, as Lee placed his arm around her. "Oh, look at those tiny hands. Yeah, wave to Daddy. What a big yawn," Amanda said, remembering her mother's words.
They sat together watching the film several more times until Amanda finally spoke. "Lee, you're going to wear it out. Let's put it up for tonight."
"Al right, I guess it is time to get bed," he spoke, as Amanda got up from the couch, and pushed the eject button on the VCR. She grabbed the tape cover, carefully put the film back inside, and slid the video labeled `Jennifer's first day home' back onto the shelf along with the others.
"Come on you two, let's get some sleep," Amanda whispered, bending down to take her sleeping daughter from her husband's arms, and placing a kiss on the baby's head.
Lee and Amanda moved quietly and slowly up the stairs, so as not to wake their perfect little bundle, and into the nursery where together they tucked their little girl in for the night. Lee spent the rest of the night with Amanda in his arms, dreaming of the images that had flown by in the past few years, and those that were yet to come.