Disclaimer: SMK and it's characters belong to WB and Shoot the Moon Productions. No infringement is intended.
Timeline: Oh, I guess somewhere just before Dead Men Leave No Trails.
Summary: My answer to the question; When did Lee decide he had fallen in love with Amanda? I took the liberty of changing the timing of their first kiss. Please excuse my audacity, but hey, isn't that what fanfiction is for?
Feedback: Yes, please. But be nice about it :-)
P.S. I don't use a beta (for many reasons) so please don't suggest one to me.
Amanda and Francine boarded the jet to Florida at eight AM Monday morning. Amanda was feeling a bit uneasy about working with Francine but kept her insecurities to herself. Francine, however, was as blunt as the wrong end of a tac.
"Well, this should be an interesting assignment," Francine quipped. "You and me working together. Who'd a thunk it?"
Amanda wasn't in the mood to spar with her partner but part of her really wanted Francine to know that being paired up with her for two whole weeks wasn't what she considered to be a vacation. Even if it was in sunny and warm Florida. "Well, no offense, Francine, but I didn't exactly volunteer. Billy ordered me to go. I just hope Lee doesn't mess up the file cabinet too much while I'm gone."
Francine giggled snottily and replied, "Oh, if I know Lee, he's probably wondering where you are without him and barging into Billy's office right...about...now..." Francine glanced at her watch.
Billy was just about to take a huge bite of his jelly doughnut when his door flew open and Lee almost knocked over a chair on his way to Billy's desk. "Where is she, Billy?" he demanded.
Billy set his breakfast down and gave Lee a nod. "Good morning to you, too," he smiled. "Are you talking about Amanda or Francine?"
"Come on, Billy," Lee hissed. "She's not ready to be out on her own and you know it!"
Billy sipped his coffee, thuroughly enjoying the tantrum Lee was throwing, all over a girl. "Lee, she's not alone. She's with Francine. It's an easy assignment. Nothing dicy or dangerous. They'll be back in two weeks. I'll keep you so busy you won't even remember she's gone."
"What's her assignment?" Lee asked.
Billy knew Lee would ask so he handed over a file he had left on his desk from the night before when he had summoned Amanda and Francine into his office to explain the trip. Lee grabbed the folder, gave Billy a sideways glance and began to read to himself.
"Dignitaries......President.....Two woman.....Billy! Anything could go wrong with guests like these. Why didn't you send Amanda and me or even me and Fielder?"
Billy took the file back from Lee and explained, "The top brass asked for my two best woman agents. The vast majority of the guests are women and so the logical choice for security would also be women. They can mingle, gossip, go to the ladies room together. I don't see any risk to them. All it is is a couple of weeks worth of parties. If...IF something does go wrong then they will call in for some back up. Don't worry." Billy lowered his voice a bit before continuing. "You know, Lee. Amanda is very good at what she does and you know it. Now, unless there's something going on between the two of you that I don't know about, I don't understand why you should be so upset by this. You should br proud of her. Not mad that she has this opportunity to mingle with the high mucky mucks of society and strut her abilities in front of Francine."
Lee gave Billy another scowl and mumbled under his breath as he left the office, "She better not be strutting anything..."
Billy heard Lee's comment and stifled a laugh.
Lee sulked back to the Q Bureau. He knew he was being obvious about his growing feelings for Amanda. He knew Billy was onto him, too. Billy had been giving him knowing looks ever since that day at the jazz club when he was so openly holding Amanda's hand while listening to Billy Blue Note and King Edmund. Truth be known, Lee wasn't entirely sure how he felt about Amanda. Oh, he knew he was falling in love with her. But just how deeply had he fallen already? Was he sort of in love with her? Mostly in love with her? Or all the way, 100%, head over heels in love with her? Lee wasn't familiar with love. He could write a book about the feelings of lust, even obsession. Was that what this was? Was he just really lusting after Amanda? Would he still want her a month from now? A week from now? He had thought he loved other women. He had even considered marriage with one of them. And look where that got him. Every one of his serious relationships had gone down the toilet. Why, he thought, would this one turn out any different? Lee didn't trust his own feelings. No, he couldn't be in love with Amanda. It just wasn't possible for him to give something he had never received. So, if he ever did fall in love, how would he recognize it?
Lee shook his confused thoughts out of his head and began tackling the mountain of paperwork Billy had left on his desk. It was going to be a long two weeks but Lee decided that he was going to spend these two weeks sorting out his feelings for Amanda. By the time she returned, he would know.
Lee dove head first into his reports and didn't stop for a moment until noon. He probably wouldn't have realized what time it was at all except his stomach was proving to be an active time piece, grumbling for attention. Lee found himself at a loss. He had been eating lunch with Amanda for so long he wasn't sure what to do or where to go now that she wasn't here. He decided to stop by Billy's office first to make sure Amanda had made her check in.
Billy heard an uncharacteristicly gentle knock from his favorite agent and waved him inside. "Yes, Scarecrow, what can I do for you?" As if he didn't already guess.
"Uh, yea Billy," Lee stammered, feeling sort of foolish. "I just thought I'd make sure that Francine and, uh, Amanda made their check in."
Billy grinned knowingly and replied, "Yes, Lee. They arrived in Orlando as scheduled. There have been no problems. Tonight they plan on taking in some sights and tomorrow they'll meet with the head of the security team. Would you feel better if I gave you the number of the hotel they are staying at?"
"No thanks," Lee answered too quickly. "That's alright. I just wanted to, you know, make sure they made it there safely."
Billy sighed quickly and said, "Well, if you change your mind..."
Lee nodded and left for lunch. He was already cursing himself for not taking that phone number. Well, maybe Amanda would call him instead and he won't have to look like a love sick puppy asking Billy for it. The thought of Amanda calling him tonight made him smile and his sullen mood lifted some. 'In fact,' he thought, 'maybe I'll run home for lunch, just in case she has already called.'
Fifteen minutes, Lee had barreled through his door and ran straight for his answering machine. A quick glance showed that there were three messages waiting for him. Hitting play, he silently hoped it would be Amanda and not one or more of his past girlfriends wanting to rekindle a relationship. He listened as the tape rewound itself and then began to play. "Hi Lee, it's me," Amanda's voice played, bringing a smile to Lee's lips. "We just checked in to our hotel room and I thought I'd give you a quick call. Sorry I didn't tell you we were leaving but Billy only told me about it last night and you were on that milk run so I couldn't have talked to you anyway. We are supposed to be here for two weeks and don't anticipate any problems. It's just going to be two weeks of stuffy parties with stuffy people. I'm sure Francine will have a ball. Well, listen, the number for my hotel is area code 401-55...."click. Lee cursed his machine for cutting Amanda off like that. He pushed the play button again to hear message number two. "Me again," Amanda laughed. "Your machine cut me off. You know, it never made sense to me why a person is only allowed to talk for like forty-five seconds before it does that. I would think that you should be able to talk until the tape runs out. Anyway, I better give you that number again. It's area code 401- 555-..." click. Lee let out a hearty laugh. Amanda's ramblings were too much for his little machine to take. He played message number three. "Oh, sorry about that. I really shouldn't talk so much. The number, before your blasted machine cuts me off again, is 401-555-8301. I'll be gone for the rest of the afternoon sight seeing with Francine but should be home in the early evening, oh around seven-ish. Have a good day. B-bye."
Lee was definitely in a good mood now. He replayed the last message and wrote the hotel number down on a pad by the phone. He briefly wondered if he should call her tonight or not. He didn't want to come off as being too over eager. He mulled it over for a bit and thought he'd just wait and see how he felt this evening.
Arriving back at the Agency Lee had a new spring to his step. This didn't go unnoticed by Billy. "Did you have a good lunch hour Lee?" Billy asked with a smirk. He didn't wait for an answer but just turned on his heel and continued his way down the hall.
Lee jogged his way to the steno pool to pick up the final copy of his most recent report. Writing reports wasn't something Lee was very good at. He didn't know how to type, which was why he had asked the steno pool ladies to do it, and he tended to leave out inportant information in his rush to finish the paper. Amanda had been doing his reports for so long now that he had almost forgotten how to do them at all. Billy must have known he needed to brush up on his report writing skills because he had assigned two weeks worth of them while Amanda was away.
The next two days dragged by. Amanda hadn't called him since she had arrived in Florida and Lee was getting anxious. He made a point of asking Billy twice a day if she had made her check ins. She always had and reported nothing out of the ordinary. On Thursday evening, Lee lay on his couch staring at the phone that lay on his chest. He had been willing her to call for the past hour. He picked up the receiver and put it back down again. Barely able to resist the urge to call her. He knew her itinerary and from that he knew that she had no party to go to this evening and would probably be in her hotel room by now. Amanda liked to go to bed early. So, here it was, nine o'clock at night in Florida and Lee just couldn't stand it any longer. He held up the piece of paper with Amanda's phone number on it and dialed the phone. Why was he so nervous? He knew the answer to that question. Lee always had some excuse for calling Amanda but tonight he couldn't think of a one. She would know he was calling just to say hi. 'What's so wrong with that?" he thought. 'She's my friend and partner, why can't I call her just to say hello?' Lee was brought out of his thoughts by Amanda's voice answering her phone. "Amanda?" Lee stated. "Uh, I just wanted to give you a quick call to see how things were going down there."
Amanda knew better. She and Lee had been getting closer over the past couple of months. She even thought maybe he had a romantic interest in her, but still wasn't sure. It was nice of him to call and she was lonely. Maybe she could keep him talking for a while. "Hi, Lee," she greeted. "Everything is going well." Amanda layed down on her bed. "Francine is having the time of her life schmoozing with the rich and powerfull. She's actually out on a date tonight."
Lee's eyebrows peeked, "Oh? So what are you doing this evening?" Lee asked, trying to sound nonchalant.
"Well, I could have found somewhere to go," she answered. "But I really just wanted to get out of my heels, into a pair of sweats and curl up with a good book."
Lee smiled at the picture forming in his head. "That sounds like a perfectly relaxing evening," he half whispered. "Billy has me burried up to my neck in reports. My eyes are sore from staring at the computer for three days. Say, you mentioned on your message on Monday that you and Francine were going sight seeing. Where did you go?"
Amanda chuckled softly before replying, "I took Francine to Disneyland."
"You didn't," Lee said in disbelief.
"I did," Amanda laughed. "She didn't want to go but I talked her into it. I even got her to go in Space Mountain. I don't think she'll ever forgive me for that."
Lee laughed at the idea of Francine riding a roller coaster. "Oh, I hope she didn't break a nail," he quipped.
"She survived," Amanda answered, twriling the phone cord around her finger. "I bought you a souvenir while I was there."
"Really?!" Lee practically shouted, feeling like a little kid all of a sudden. "What is it?"
"Oh no, that's a surprise. It's something I'm sure you have never owned before."
Lee placed his arm behind his head to get more comfortable on the couch before replying, "Sounds intriguing, Mrs. King. I can't wait to see what it is. So, how have the parties been?
Amanda let out a sigh. "Stuffy and boring. I can't tell you how many times I was hit on by old, lonely men. I swear most of those men were married already and had no business talking to me in the first place. Never mind that they were old enough to be my father." Amanda paused for a moment before continuing. "I'd much rather be home doing your paperwork for you. I'm sorry Billy piled it all on you, it could wait until I get home."
"Oh well, you know Billy," Lee grunted. "I think the reports are punishment for getting angry with him on Monday morning." Lee regretted those words as soon as he spoke them. Now Amanda was going to ask what he was so angry about. What would he tell her?
"Why were you so mad at Billy?" she asked, making Lee grimace.
"Well," he paused, trying to find the words. "I got a little upset when I got in and had heard that you were on assignment without me. I guess I'm not used to you being, well, a real agent I guess. Capable of going on assignments with someone else. Not that I don't think you're capable!" Lee was digging himself into a hole. "I just, well, hell I don't know why I was mad."
But Amanda knew. He missed her. It wasn't something he would admit out loud, maybe not even to himself, but that's what he was feeling. She was sure of it. Maybe if he knew that she missed him... "Lee, you know I'm just fine. But I don't care much for working with Francine. What was it you had said? You get used to working with one person and then when you have to work with someone else it just feels different. Not comfortable."
Lee smiled. She knew him better than he knew himself. "Yeah," he replied, wanting to say more. The words were banging on his lips to be freed and he couldn't hold them in any longer. "I miss you, too."
"Good," was all she said.
Lee laughed and his heart felt much lighter. What was it about the telephone that helped him to vocalize his feelings? He knew he never would have said he missed her face to face. Perhaps it was just one remaining layer in the wall he had built so many years ago that Amanda had been able to tear down, piece by piece. It was his last safety point. If he said something revealing and she balked at it, at least he wouldn't have to see her do it. He was feeling so comfortable now, talking to Amanda this way. No one could scare them off the phone. Dotty wasn't going to run into her hotel room, invading her privacy. Billy wasn't going to come banging on his door wanting him to do a milk run. They had all night, just to talk.
"So," Lee was fishing for any reason to keep Amanda on the phone. "How are the boys? Your mother?"
"Oh they're all doing just fine. I had called over there just before you called. Mother said everything was under control and not to worry about them. Still, I do worry. Those boys have put up with a lot from me. Leaving town at a moments notice and half the time I don't even tell them where I'm going. They're good sports about it and mother is great with them but sometimes I feel bad. They're growing up so fast and it seems every time I go out of town they grow three inches by the time I get home. I don't even know the name of Philip's new girlfriend." Amanda sounded so sad.
"Hey, I know it must be hard to be away from them," Lee comforted. "Honestly, Amanda, your boys are extremely lucky to have you for a mom."
"Aw, come on," Amanda drawled.
"No, really!" Lee continued. "Look at everything you have done for them and still do. You've been a den mother and coach. You help them with their homework and sooth their tears. You take them camping. You're on the PTA, Amanda. And on top of all that, you work this crazy job. Your boys are healthy, happy, strong individuals and you are the reason they are turning out so well."
Amanda was near tears. "Thanks," she whispered. "I needed that."
"Anytime," Lee smiled. "Well, hey, I know it's getting late down there and you have to work tomorrow."
"Yeah," Amanda said with regret in her voice. "I should probably get some sleep. So much for getting my book read."
"Oh," Lee apologized. "Sorry about that."
"Oh, don't worry about it," Amanda put him at ease. "The real thing is so much better than the fantasy, anyway" 'Did I just say that?!' Amanda screamed to herself.
Lee let out a robust laugh. He had heard Amanda's muffled gasp and knew she hadn't intended to say what she said. "I'm going to remember that when you get home," he teased.
"Goodnight, Lee," Amanda said softly.
The next four evenings were truly enjoyable for Lee. He called Amanda every night and each time she would be waiting for him. Each phone call was longer than the last. They talked about everything and nothing. Lee was certain that he had never spoken so many words to any other female in his entire life.
On Monday evening, Lee called Amanda again but there was no answer. He double checked the itinerary. She should have been done with her party two hours ago. 'Where are you?' he thought. At first Lee was concerned for her welfare. He decided not to work himself up into a lather and instead left her a message at the hotel desk. At least she would know he had called.
Lee didn't sleep all night. He moved the phone close enough for him to reach from his bed and came short of staring at it all night long. 'Why didn't she call?' he wondered. 'Is she hurt? Maybe I should call Billy. No, that would be jumping the gun. I hate this. She should be here with me. She shouldn't be down in Florida with Francine. She should be here with me.' Lee's mind had been picturing Amanda at work, in the Q Bureau. But the more he thought the words 'here with me,' the more he began to picture her right there, in his bed, in his arms. "Oh God," Lee said out loud. "I'm in love with her."
Lee's heart lept in his chest. It physically hurt. He sat up in bed, startled by the revelation. "I'm in love with Amanda," he repeated. He placed his hands over his heart and ran to the bathroom mirror. He didn't look any different, except for the newly formed sweat beads on his forehead and the blush in his cheeks. He rubbed his chest. 'I can actually feel it,' he thought. 'I can feel love.'
The next morning Lee was overly eager to reach Billy's office. "Billy, did Amanda make her check in this morning?" Lee blurted without even a good morning for his boss.
"Lee, Amanda is fine..."
"Did she make her check in?!" Lee said with more force.
Billy frowned slightly and answered, "Well, no, but she's only ten minutes late. Give the girl some breathing room." Billy barely had the words out of his mouth when his phone rang. "Melrose here," he greeted. "Yes, Amanda......Yes...I understand.....Yes, I'll tell him....Goodbye, Amanda." Billy placed the phone on the hook and smiled up at Lee. "That was her. She's fine. She said that She and Francine were busy into the wee hours of the morning which caused her to oversleep which is why her check in is late." Billy stood up and eyed his agent challengingly. "Did you have any other questions for me?"
Lee looked sheepish and embarrassed and replied a quiet 'no' before slinking out of the room.
Once in the Q Bureau he checked his desk calandar for the umteenth time that week. "Four more days until she's home" he said to his desk lamp. "What am I going to do until then?" His phone rang, as if to answer his question. "Yeah, Stetson here," he barked.
"Having a rough morning?" Amanda asked.
"Oh!" Lee chirped. "Amanda. Yes. No. It's nothing. Uh, did you get my message?"
Amanda smiled. "Yes but it was almost four in the morning when we got back so I didn't want to call you and wake you up."
Lee laughed to himself. He had still been up at four in the morning. "Oh well, I understand. What kept you?"
"You'll never believe it," Amanda said excitedly. "We had a bit of a run in with a couple of senators wives. Seem one accused the other of having an afair with her husband and they, well, they kind of had a little fight, right there by the punch bowl. Anyway, it took a long time to get everything straightened out with the police. It's really not important. The only reason we had to stick around until the end was because one of the ladies had accidentally punched Francine in the eye."
"What?!" Lee exclaimed. "How bad is it?"
Amanda sighed. "It's really not that bad but she insists she just CAN'T go to another party with a black eye so she's coming home early and since I'm not an official agent they have paired me up with a different female agent from down here to finish out the week. Aparently because I didn't get socked, I don't get to leave early."
"Aw, Amanda. That's too bad," Lee said. "But, I can't wait to see Francine."
Amanda laughed. "Listen, Lee. I can't really talk now but I should be back in my room around eight o'clock tonight. You know, if you're bored and wanted to talk."
"Eight o'clock it is," Lee stated with a smile. "I'll talk to you then. B-bye."
Lee was glad to hear her voice and wasn't sure how he would get through the next eleven hours until he could hear it again.
That week was the slowest of Lee's life. He might as well have just stayed home for all the good he was at work. His mind kept wandering to all he wanted to tell Amanda. Would he tell her he loved her as soon as he could? 'No. She doesn't love me,' he thought. 'I need to take this slow. I need to date her and woo her. Not scare her off.' When Friday evening finally arrived Lee took a hot shower, shaved, changed into his jeans and a nice shirt and even applied colongue because at precisely 8:51 PM, he would be picking Amanda up at the airport.
Lee parked his car with care in the airport parking lot and locked all of his doors. He knew he could have just picked Amanda up outside at the pick up curb but he had really wanted to meet her as she got off the plane. He grabbed the shuttle to the terminal. Sitting in the front seat, his legs were bouncing and his palms were getting sweaty. 'I should have brought her some flowers,' he thought. 'Too late for that now.' He berated himself for his thoughtlessness. 'She has a gift for me and I have nothing for her.' The bus pulled up to the main terminal and Lee hopped off. He knew this airport like the back of his hand and without thinking jogged straight to Amanda's gate.
Lee glanced up at the board showing that Amanda's flight would be coming in on time. He checked his watch again. He still had over ten minutes to wait. He decided to go for a walk. There was a row of shops nearby that catered to the business traveler, he supposed. He spied a book store and smiled. 'Well, I never did let Amanda read her book, maybe I'll buy her one.' Lee perused the shelves, not even sure what kind of books she read. He didn't dare buy her a romance novel, that would be too wierd. Did she read westerns? Maybe. Philosophical? Hmmm... Sci-Fi? Probably not. He was running out of time when he found a row of spy novels. 'Perfect!' Lee quickly read the back covers trying to come up with the right choice. He settled on the only book with main characters being a man and a woman. He hurridly payed for his purchase, had it gift wrapped, an amenitiy always available in airport shops, and tucked it under his arm.
Two minutes later Lee stood anxiously watching the stream of people desembarking from the plane. He was as nervous as a school boy. What was it about Amanda that made him feel such things? He knew that answer to that questions even as he was asking it. It was becasue he loved her. He loved her.
Lee spotted her waving hand first. There she was, waving excitedly, as happy to see Lee as he was to see her. "Hi," she greeted.
"Hi." Lee wasn't sure what to do. Does he kiss her? Does he hug her? She'd never gone out of town for two weeks before. He'd never picked her up from the airport before. He'd never been in love with her before. He finally just took a hold of her carry on with one hand and offered his arm for her to hold. "How was your trip?" he asked on the way to pick up her luggage.
"Oh, just fine. I've always enjoying plane rides," she answered.
Lee stopped suddenly. "Oh," he said, just remembering something. "This is for you." Lee handed over the wrapped package. "It's sort of a 'Welcome home - sorry you didn't get to read your book' giift."
Amanda smiled sweetly and tore open the gift. "Oh! A spy novel! Thankyou, Lee," Amanda chirped while giving Lee a kiss on the cheek. "My present for you is in my bag there. Would you like it now?"
Lee bounced on his heels, glad she enjoyed her gift and even more happy to be getting one from her. "Sure," he said eagerly. Amanda unzipped the bag and pulled out the last thing Lee would have guessed. A Mickey Mouse hat complete with black ears and the name "Lee" sewn into the front with yellow stitching.
Lee laughed heartily at the sight of Amanda placing the hat on his head. "Oh Amanda. You never cease to surprise me. Thankyou." Now it was his turn to give Amanda a kiss, only he chose a quick peck on the lips instead of a brush on her cheek. He could tell immediately that she was a bit embarrassed by the attention. Instead of staring at her, which is what he really wanted to do, he quickly picked up her carry on and led them, once again, towards the baggage claim. He had already forgotten that he was wearing those silly Mickey Mouse ears.
They chatted happily, at total ease with each other. Lee couldn't stop looking into her eyes as he spoke but Amanda was now relaxed enough not to mind the scrutiny. They sat, holding hands watching the luggage carousel spin empty, waiting for it's anslaught of suitcases and duffle bags. When Amanda saw her bag being dropped down the steel slide Lee jogged over to retrieve it.
The drive to Amanda's was too short for Lee's liking. But he knew that her family was probably waiting up for her and he needed to say goodnight. "Well," he began, haltingly. "I'll walk you to your door." Lee grabbed Amanda's bags with one hand and Amanda's hand with the other and led her to her front door. He placed the bags at her feet and stared for a moment. "I'm glad you're finally home," he said softly.
"Me too," Amanda replied. They both leaned in for a kiss. Just as their lips were a mere centimeter apart the porch light turned on. Lee quickly dashed off the stoop and around the corner of the house, a split second before the door flew open and three happy voices greeted Amanda. Lee listened for the door to close and dashed towards the 'Vette. He turned the engine and chuckled to hiimself at yet another inturrupted kiss. "I'll see you on Monday, Amanda," he said towards the house and slowely drove home.