Excused Absences

By: Sally

Rating: PG for a couple of mindless cuss words, I think!

Time Frame: Third Season

Disclaimer: Yeah, I wish… but its Shoot The Moon and Warner Bros. that owns these folks

Thanks to: Beth

She had it all planned out. She knew exactly what she was going to say, the moment he stepped through that door. And he wasn’t going to stop her. This was now the fourth day that he had not put in an appearance and all Mr. Melrose could tell her was not to worry. Not to worry, indeed. At least that meant he wasn’t dead. She’d been told once before that he was dead, and then sent home. Of course he’d turned out to be very much alive and she’d always remember the moment he’d proven that by reappearing in her living room a few days after his funeral. No, she reasoned, he wasn’t dead. He could of course be out of the country. She frowned, realising she didn’t like that thought either. The last time he returned from being out of the country he’d almost been killed at the airport. She shook her head again. No, it couldn’t be that. When she’d asked where he was that time Mr. Melrose had at least told her that he’d made his scheduled check-ins.

She sighed and surveyed the ragged stack of files on the floor beside the desk. Well, she thought, at least I’m still here, Mr. Melrose didn’t send me home this time. The first two days she had spent typing up reports, the third one she had taken a half day to attend a school soccer game. She had put off the filing for as long as she could. Estimating that there were at least fifty manila folders she sighed again. Her partner’s methods of office work were terrible to say the least. He had a habit of pulling random files out of the vault and then leaving them out, never thinking about them again. It was a habit she knew he’d never break, even though she had stressed to him the lack of security in such an act. His response would be to say one word, her name, in such a way that she would…

Hold that thought right there, she checked herself. You don’t get emotional about this, remember? She stood up and walked over to the Q-bureau door, firmly turning the key in its lock. With a renewed vigour she strode back to the desk, gathered up approximately half the files and headed to the vault.

It must have been a half hour later that she’d heard the noise, a step or two and a cough. Cautiously she reached for one of Jamie’s old baseball bats that she kept in the windowless room, hoping that an occasion to use it would never arise. There was the sound of another step, the rustle of papers being displaced and then the creak of hinges as the intruder sat down in the chair. Whoever it was was not being very subtle in their movements. Confident that she now had a better chance of escape with her opponent behind the desk, she emerged from the vault into the full sunlight of the office. She stopped still when she recognised the intruder.

“Going into bat?” he inquired, laughing.

Realising she still held her weapon aloft she blushed slightly. Lowering the bat until it was now in front of her she advanced toward the desk.

“Oh you, you… Where have you been all this time? I was so worried about you. Didn’t you even think to call? I mean, the first day wasn’t so bad, I figured that maybe you were with one of those children you like to date. But when you still didn’t show, well, I decided there was no way I was going through all those little black books you have. But I thought you might have called and Mr. Melrose said not to worry. Not to worry…”

“Amanda.” It was that one word.

She stopped for a brief moment and then rushed on before her resolve failed her. “No, Lee Stetson, don’t you Amanda me. I’ve had enough of being Amanda’d. I was worried sick about you and nobody would tell me anything. At least I got told the last time you were dead.”

He leaned forward. “I’m sorry, I really am. I guess Billy decided that you didn’t need to know.”

“Didn’t nee to know what? What excuse do you have this time?”

He leaned back in his chair again, closed his eyes and smiled weakly. “Dear Mrs. King,” he began to recite and Amanda wondered briefly if he was mocking her. “Please excuse Lee from school for the past few days. This was because he was kidnapped, drugged and held God only knows where. A debriefing report will follow shortly.”

She gasped slightly at his words. “Kidnapped? What happened?”

“Amanda, I will tell you later but what I really need right now is some rest, a change of clothing and you to get me some food.” He pulled out some bills from his pocket. “Get some for yourself too. And bring it back here. Now, I think I've got a spare shirt in the vault so that's okay." He stopped when he realised that he was getting no response from his partner. "Amanda?" he asked.

“Food? Right.”

“Oh and Amanda?” he said, briefly opening one eye. “Leave the bat here.”

“The bat?” She realised she still held it and hastily put it down so that it leaned against the desk. “Right.”