Under the Mistletoe

AUTHOR:  panda

DISCLAIMER:  All characters belong to Warner Brothers and Shoot the Moon Productions.  I am merely playing with them for a bit, and promise to put them away when I'm done.   Lee and Amanda didn't mind being in this story, in the least... they told me so.  Honest!  This story belongs to me, so please don't re-distribute without my knowledge.

SYNOPSIS:  What happens when Lee and Amanda get caught under the mistletoe?

TIMELINE:  Takes place during all four seasons of SMK.


TYPE:  Tried to stay within canon.

DISCUSSION:  All is welcome!

AUTHOR'S NOTES:  Sandy put out an idea on the smkfanfic list about how Lee and Amanda would have dealt with ending up under the mistletoe together during each of the four SMK seasons.  This is my response to her challenge. Thanks for the idea, Sandy!

Thanks also go to my team of beta-readers, especially to Dotty for helping me out of a sticky spot.  You guys are the best!

Season 1

The festive atmosphere in the bullpen was heady.  Everyone was having a wonderful time celebrating.  After all, if asked, they all would have been of the opinion that a little fruitcake, a little eggnog, and a little seasonal goofiness were much preferable to being out in the snow dodging bullets.

All, that is, except Lee Stetson.  He hated Christmas.  Or at least he said he did.  He would've much rather been out dodging bullets than standing around trying to share the spirit of a season he'd much sooner forget.  The look on his face said, "I'm barely tolerating this, so leave me alone."

But there was one person in the room determined to ignore that look.  Amanda King, housewife, mother, and part-time civilian help at the Agency, couldn't believe anyone didn't like Christmas.  She was determined to bring the spirit of the season to the elusive Scarecrow, whether he liked it or not.
He didn't like it.

"Amanda, I do not want any fruitcake," an exasperated Lee told the annoyingly happy woman by his side.

"But, Lee, it's really very good.  I've tasted it and it's got just the right amount of rum baked in, and the choice of candied fruits is quite delicious.  I really must get this recipe.  How about some sugar cookies? Here's a cute one decorated just like Santa.  Or how about some cheese and crackers, or some eggnog?  Oh, I know!  I seem to remember that you like these pastries, or..."

As her voice droned on, a crease appeared between Lee's eyebrows while the muscle in his jaw twitched.  He wasn't going to say something he'd regret later.  He wasn't.   Sighing, he finally said, "Amanda.  Enough.  I'm not hungry.  Don't you have some more gifts to pass out?"

Suddenly, from across the room a chorus of "Kiss, kiss, kiss!" erupted. Startled to realize all eyes were on them, Lee and Amanda both looked up. Unknowingly, they had worked their way around the buffet table and had wound up in the doorway to Billy's office.  Hanging strategically over their heads was a sprig of mistletoe.

The blush rising up Amanda's face was in stark contrast to the look of exasperation on Lee's.  Amanda was probably the last woman in the room he'd have chosen to be in this position with.  But, he had a reputation to uphold.  He was a ladies' man, through and through.  Maybe this could be fun, after all!  The thought of embarrassing her with a kiss seemed like a nice reward for the last half hour of pestering.

A look of devilment creeping into his face, he looked down at the still blushing Amanda and said, "Well, we can't disappoint the crowd, now can we? Spirit of the season and all..."

"Um, yeah," she said, shifting her weight from foot to foot, "I guess it is a tradition, after all, and I wouldn't want to be guilty of breaking tradition, and..."

Interrupting yet another bout of rambling, Lee swooped her into his arms and delivered a kiss that had been known to weaken women's knees.  Amanda was no different.  Her determination to remain unaffected by the kiss slipped away and she found herself returning his kiss, her lips softening under his.  She let out a tiny gasp as he broke away, barely maintaining her upright position.  Seeing the smile on his face, a smirk that reminded her of the cat that ate the canary, she fought for control and smiled at the cheering spectators.  She wasn't going to let them see how much the kiss had affected

"Well, Lee, I'd better finish delivering my gifts.  Merry Christmas," she said as she turned away.

"Yeah, Merry Christmas, Amanda," he replied.  Watching her walk across the bullpen, a rather thoughtful look on his face, he reached up and absently stroked his lips.  His reaction to the kiss surprised him.  He wouldn't have thought a housewife from Arlington could kiss like that.  Hmm, maybe he would have a glass of eggnog, after all.

Season 2

The festivities in the bullpen were as uproarious as usual.  Any opportunity to put aside the day-to-day dangers of their chosen profession was a welcome one.   Of course, some were better at letting go than others.

"Billy, why is attendance at the annual Christmas party mandatory?  I'd rather be working on those reports I'm behind in," Lee said as he paced Billy's office, running his fingers through his hair.

"Lee, relax.  It's a holiday.  Have some eggnog and get into the spirit. That's an order," the Section Chief finished sternly, his slight smile belying his words.  Every year was the same.  Every year he had to deal with his favorite agent's dislike of the holiday season.  He smiled broadly as he saw Amanda making her way across the crowded bullpen.  Maybe she could help him coax some Christmas cheer into Lee.

Seeing Billy's reaction, Lee turned to see Amanda approaching.  His frown turned into a rueful smile.  He wasn't sure if he was up to dealing with Amanda's holiday cheer, but he was getting used to her perpetual presence in his life, and her smile of greeting was somewhat infectious.

"Merry Christmas, Lee; Sir," she said, poking her head into the office.

"Merry Christmas, Amanda," Billy replied. "I have an assignment for you."

"An assignment?  But, Sir, it's Christmas Eve, I was just stopping by to deliver some gifts, and then I have to go finish my shopping, and pick up the goose I ordered from the butcher, and there's more to do at home before Aunt Lillian gets here, and..."

"Relax, Amanda, it's an easy assignment and shouldn't interfere with your plans," Billy interrupted, enjoying the look of consternation on Lee's face. "I want you to take this partner of yours under your wing.  He seems to have forgotten the spirit of the holiday, and I'm sure you'd be just the person to remind him," he finished, his smile even broader.

"Well, sure, Sir, if you think I should.  I could actually use some help," she said, not quite sure what to make of the look on Lee's face.

"Billy!  This is ridiculous.  I don't need to tag along running Christmas errands with Amanda.  I still have that stack of reports to finish up and..."

"Lee, those reports aren't due until after Christmas.  Quit making excuses and go enjoy yourself.  The office party will be going on for another hour, and then I expect you out of here, with Amanda," he finished, the gleeful look on his face causing Amanda to stifle a snicker.

"Come on, Lee, it won't be that bad," she said, hooking her arm through his to lead him out of the office.   "You can help me get the goose from the butcher's, and then we need to go..."

Billy chuckled to himself as the door closed behind them.  He knew there was a reason he'd put those two together.

As Lee and Amanda entered the bullpen they were greeted to a chorus of "Kiss, kiss, kiss!"  Startled, the two looked up at the sprig of mistletoe hanging just outside Billy's office.

"Oh, no, not again," Lee said, rolling his eyes at Amanda.

Smiling shyly at her handsome partner, Amanda said, "Well, Lee, it looks like you do have a Christmas tradition, after all."

"Yeah, I guess I do.  Well, we'd better not disappoint our fans."  He jerked his thumb over his shoulder, indicating the noisy onlookers.

"Um, yeah, I guess not."  Amanda felt a blush creeping up her face as she looked up into his hazel eyes.  Her heart sped up as she saw him lean closer to her and she quickly closed her eyes in anticipation.

Looking down at the woman who'd so intruded on his life for the past year and a half, he was surprised at how nervous he felt.  Determined to hide his racing pulse from the onlookers, he bent down and swiftly captured her soft lips.  Startled at the response he felt as she returned his kiss, he pulled away and cleared his throat nervously.   "Merry Christmas, Amanda," he said over the clapping of the crowd.

"Merry Christmas, Lee," she replied, her blush returning as she heard the response of the crowd.  "Our fans seem pleased."

"That they do.  Well, Amanda, I guess not all Christmas traditions are bad," he replied with a wink.

"No, Lee, not bad at all."

Season 3

The boisterous activities in the bullpen were somehow different this year. There was eggnog and fruitcake and the usual revelry, but something had changed.  An astute observer would attribute the change to the presence of a certain agent, codenamed Scarecrow.  Not only was he in attendance, but he was almost enjoying himself.   The attractive brunette by his side may have been responsible.  He'd succumbed to her cajoling; deciding that putting in an appearance at the party would not only please her, but his boss as well.

They were now acknowledged as a reliable team, the strengths of each balancing out the other's weaknesses.  No other agent, save one Francine Desmond, would have dared to make brash comments about their skills.  The respect they had earned from their coworkers was well deserved.

Crowded around the table as Lee regaled them with the tale of how he'd found one of their most seasoned field agents locked in a freezer, the other agents roared with laughter.  Francine, her face reddening as she overheard the discussion, vowed to get even with Lee for that one.  And she had the perfect plan.  She'd embarrass Lee and his housewife partner, and she knew just the way to do it.

"Lee, Mr. Melrose needs to see you in his office, ASAP," she sweetly told him, interrupting his tale.

"What?  Ah, hell.  Be back in a bit," he told his disappointed audience.

"You, too, Amanda," Francine said.

"All right, Francine.  I wonder what Mr. Melrose wants.  I sure hope nothing has come up, Lee, it is Christmas Eve, and I have to finish wrapping gifts, and the tree needs decorating, and there's service this evening, and..." she trailed off as they approached Billy's office.

Knocking on the door, Lee opened it when he heard no response.  "Billy?" he asked, sticking his head through the door.  "That's funny, he doesn't appear to be here."

"Lee, why would Francine tell us he needed to see us, when he's not..." she stopped as the crowd behind them started chanting, "Kiss, kiss, kiss!"

"Francine!"  Lee said looking up at the mistletoe they were now standing under.  "She set us up."

"Well, I guess we'll just have to be good sports and play along," she said, smiling at the handsome man next to her.  She certainly didn't mind.  "After all, Lee, it is a tradition."

"True.  And if we pretend to enjoy it, I bet Francine would lose that smirk she's wearing," he said with a wink.

I suppose I could pretend..." Amanda stopped as she saw his wink. Gasping as he swept her into his arms, she locked onto his gaze. The sounds of the party faded to a steady hum as she lost herself in his eyes.

With his lips hovering over hers, the feel of her sweet breath more intoxicating than the eggnog, Lee hesitated.  He knew they were on the verge of something important in both their lives, almost ready to take that step, almost ready to forge ahead, almost ready to...

"Kiss, already!" someone yelled.

Lee considered their situation as he held Amanda close.  This was neither the time nor the place to move ahead; reputation be damned.  He grinned wryly at her and leaned closer, placing a feather-light kiss on her lips. He then reluctantly pulled back and with tenderness in his eyes, gazed down at the woman in his arms. This vibrant, loving woman who had brought so much to his life, this woman who was his partner and best friend.  Clearing his throat, he said, "That may not have had quite the effect we were hoping for."

"Not exactly," she said, grinning up at him as she got her heart rate under control.  'One of these days, Lee Stetson, one of these days,' she thought to herself as she looked into his twinkling eyes.  "But it'll have to do for now."  Looking around, she realized that everyone had turned their attentions elsewhere.  Everyone that is, except for Francine.  "Don't look now, but Francine is looking daggers at us."

"Oh, she is, is she?  I think I have an idea," he said, the look of devilment back in his eyes.  "Did you happen to see where Beaman went?"

"No, why?  Oh, Lee... you wouldn't!  Poor Francine," she said, giggling.

"Uh, huh, poor Francine, indeed.  Ah, there he is.  Come on."  Pulling Amanda by the hand he led her over to the slightly inebriated Beaman.

"Beaman, just the man I was looking for," Lee said, clapping him on the shoulder.

"Oh, hi, Lee, Amanda," he slurred, rising unsteadily to his feet, "whassup?"

"Francine's looking for you.  She wants to give you your Christmas present - a very personal Christmas present."  The earnestness in Lee's face was so comical that Amanda had to stifle another laugh.

"Oh?  Really?  I thought she was avoiding me, again.  Thanks, Lee," he said as he began to weave his way across the bullpen, calling, "Francine, pumpkin, honeybuns, I'm here, sweety.  What gift do you have for your Beamakins this year?"

Dissolving into laughter, Lee and Amanda decided to beat a hasty retreat. Exiting the bullpen to the sound of laughter, the two congratulated themselves on their swift and sure revenge.

"Well, Lee, Beaman and Francine - that's one Christmas tradition I'll never tire of," she said, laughing.

"Agreed, Amanda.  That's two traditions I have under my belt, now.  You may reform me, yet," he replied as, hand-in-hand, they entered the elevator.

Season 4

Off-duty agents, fruitcake, eggnog, tall-tales, revelry, and a little flirting - it was the typical Agency Christmas parrty.  The opportunity to forget terrorists, KGB agents, and the cold war was enough to engender the Christmas spirit amongst all attending.

There was something missing, however.  The Agency's top team, Scarecrow and Mrs. King, were no longer in attendance.  They had just finished rounding up a terrorist group guilty of manufacturing weapons in a toy factory.  Not a pleasant job at anytime, and doubly so on Christmas Eve.

"Lee, we'd better hurry if we're going to get home in time for dinner and presents.  We've already missed Christmas Eve service and I don't want to miss anything else," Amanda said anxiously as she looked at her watch.

"I AM hurrying, Amanda," Lee replied.  It wasn't as if he'd enjoyed spending Christmas this way.  Why did she have to act as though he did?  Glancing furtively at the woman he'd come to love and seeing the disappointment clearly written on her features, he suddenly had an idea.  "Don't worry, Amanda, they won't have Christmas without us," he said as they turned onto Maplewood Drive.

During the ensuing family celebration, Lee found himself feeling welcomed into a family for the first time in his life.  The Christmas dinner, the unwrapping of gifts, and the love in the air, were all new to him.  He found himself wondering how had he gone through so many Christmases without this.

He did, however, have to force his dislike for Amanda's ex-husband out of his thoughts.  He was determined to make the rest of Christmas unforgettable for his Amanda.  And if that meant getting along with Joe King, then he'd get along with Joe King.

After the festivities were over, he finally had a few moments alone with Amanda.  Smiling his most disarming smile, he said, "Amanda, I know earlier we joked about being trapped in a nest of killers as a Christmas tradition. Well, I want you to know that I remember another Christmas tradition we have, one that's much more enjoyable, one that I'm determined to continue."

Looking at the man nestled next to her on the sofa, her worries from the day finally gone, she smiled warmly at him.  She couldn't imagine anything more fulfilling than sharing Christmas with this man, this man who completed her, this man who had entered her life unexpectedly and with the suddenness of a runaway freight train, this man who'd stolen her heart once and for all. "Oh?  And what tradition is that, Lee?" she asked, snuggling further into his arms.

"Well, Amanda, going back to our first Christmas together, before we were trapped in that little cabin in the woods, there was the Agency Christmas party, remember?"  Feeling her head nod in the affirmative, he continued, "We somehow ended up under the mistletoe, and well, I had a reputation to uphold, so I kissed you, remember?"

"Yeah, it was actually quite a kiss," she said.  "It's funny, because you used to get so annoyed with me back then, and I was so surprised when you kissed me.  I mean, you'd only ever kissed me when it was part of a case, but that kiss was somehow different..."

"Uh, huh.  It was.  I would never have admitted it, but you'd already started to have an effect on me."  He gave her a squeeze.  "And then there was our second Christmas.  Billy assigned you to make sure I got into the spirit of things, remember?"

With a laugh she said, "Oh, yeah.  You weren't thrilled to tag along with me.  Billy sure did throw us together a lot back then.  Do you think he did it on purpose?"

"I'm sure he did.  Billy was determined to reform me, one way or another.  I guess I should thank him..." pausing, he leaned down and kissed the top of Amanda's head.  "We got caught under the mistletoe yet again."

"That was a much briefer kiss, if I remember right."

"I think I was almost afraid to kiss you that time.  My emotions were in turmoil.  I denied it, of course, but I'd come to see you as a vibrant, attractive woman by that point.  Good thing I finally came to my senses, huh?" he asked, chuckling.

"Mm, hmm," she mumbled, entwining her fingers with his.  "Then our third Christmas came along.  And Francine..."

"Hah!  We sure got back at her for that one.  I don't think she spoke to me for two weeks.  But that wasn't much of a kiss.  I was so afraid I'd ruin everything if I kissed you the way I wanted to," he said, running his other hand across her shoulders.

"Oh?  And how did you want to kiss me?" she asked, gazing mischievously up at the love of her life.

"Well, I wanted to kiss you until you were breathless.  I wanted to kiss you until the world stopped.  I wanted to kiss you as you'd never been kissed before..." his voice trailed off as he traced the outline of her lips with his fingers.

Catching her breath as he removed his fingers, she said with regret, "But, Lee, this year we were at the party for such a short time that we didn't have a chance to get caught under the mistletoe."

"I know."  He grinned at her, reaching into his pocket.  "It's a bit squished, but I think it'll do."

"Where did you get that?" she asked, looking at the pathetically mangled piece of plastic mistletoe he held in his hand.

"I, um, kinda swiped it off the neighbor's door," he said sheepishly.  "I don't think they'll miss it, though - I only took a tiny piece.  But then I had to sit on it all evening, so..."

"Well, better mangled than nothing," she said as she gazed into his warm hazel eyes.  "I think this is a Christmas tradition I definitely want to keep."

Nodding his agreement, he held the homely sprig of mistletoe over her head and slowly lowered his face to hers.  Pausing with his lips just above hers, his warm breath tickling her nose, he said, "You and your family have finally made me understand the spirit of the season.  Merry Christmas, Amanda, I love you."

"Merry Christmas, Lee, I love you, too," she whispered breathlessly.

The ensuing quiet was broken only by the crackle of the fire and the slight whispers of endearment as the two lovers, the world around them forgotten, shared the one Christmas tradition they would never forget.