Into the Light

Author:  Sweet Defense

Rating:  Don’t know, probably soft PG13 for suggestive situations and language, just to be on the safe side.

Timeframe: Nightcrawler, between the final scene of their rescue and the tag scene.  Note: I have not yet seen every episode of the show, but hopefully I didn’t go against canon here; if I did, it is accidental.

Disclaimer: Lee and Amanda belong to Shoot the Moon and Warner Brothers, and especially Kate Jackson and Bruce Boxleitner.  They do not belong to me; I’m just taking them out and playing with them.  I’ll put them back when I’m done, I promise….  The story is mine.

Archive: Ask first, permission will generally be given; my name must stay with the story.

Synopsis:  Following their rescue from Addi Birol, Amanda’s and Lee’s relationship has suffered, with Amanda refusing to open up to Lee.  Lee has come up with a plan to get her to relax and start to come to terms with what happened, hopefully saving their relationship.  Further notes and disclaimers at the end.

Feedback:  This is a toughie, I don’t have good prior experience with feedback, so please be nice.  This is also my first fan fiction.  Guess I’d prefer negative feedback to be sent privately. I’m going this alone, without beta readers for now, don’t really have the time.

Thanks to those fan fiction writers who have made me want to write for pleasure again. I work as a freelance medical writer and this is the first pleasure writing I’ve done in more than 10 years.  Special thanks to Kate Jackson and Bruce Boxleitner for making the characters of Lee and Amanda come alive.

Amanda was curled up in a fetal position on her bed, stirring uneasily in her sleep.  She moaned softly, tossing her head around.  Sweat broke out along her hairline and upper lip, and she moved her legs restlessly, curling up on herself.   The moonlight didn’t hide the dark circles under her eyes, or that she had recently lost significant weight.  Her hair was damp with sweat or tears, and her skin was pale against the sheets and appeared paper-thin.  She had been up late the previous night trying to type her letter of resignation from the Agency.  She had endangered Lee’s life, and it wasn’t going to happen again, no matter what.   She tried to tell herself it was for the best, that Lee would find someone else to love, that she would start her life over again, if possible.  Amanda had sent her mother and sons away for the weekend, knowing she would never be able to say goodbye to Lee without breaking down.  She had resolved to spare her family that pain.    However, she found she was unable to write a satisfactory letter, and after several hours, she decided to take a warm bath and try to go to bed.  Amanda had refused the sedatives her doctor had prescribed, and she had not slept much ever since her rescue, occasionally dropping off from sheer exhaustion but startled awake again almost immediately by vivid nightmares that would leave her lunging for the light, heart pounding, sweat pouring off her body, shaking in a corner of the bed.  She had attempted to go back to work at the Q Bureau, but she couldn’t handle being that close to Lee and not telling him of her decision.  It was becoming harder to face him each day, to see the hurt look on his face when she pulled away from his touches, to see his eyes shining with love when he looked at her.  She knew she had to end it, and end it soon; they couldn’t go on like this.  Lee needed to be set free from her, so that he could go back to his old life and be safe.

Lee watched her quietly from outside her bedroom window, leaning his brow on the cool glass, carefully balancing on the rickety trellis. He ached to help her deal with the consequences of the Addi Birol case two weeks previously, but she had refused to talk to him about anything of significance, including their engagement.  She had returned to work a few days previously, immersing herself in paperwork and working long hours.  As far as Lee knew, she had not confided in anyone, not even the agency professionals, and certainly she had not talked to him about the case.  He knew she wasn’t sleeping or eating well, and she spent long moments simply staring straight ahead with a vacant expression on her face.  Lee had tried to talk to her, but she had immediately turned her attention back to work.   Lately, she had begun to avoid him, and he ached every time she flinched away from his touches.  He knew she was trying to keep control, not to drown in her emotions, but he now knew the importance of just letting go and letting out the fear and horror, she had taught him that.  Lee knew he had to do something, something to force her to let go and relax so they could work through her fear.  Lee was scared; Amanda was becoming increasingly unresponsive, refusing to be near him, finding excuses to avoid his company.   He knew it wasn’t just him that Amanda was avoiding, he had quietly watched her family through her kitchen window one evening, and he saw Amanda withdrawing from her family.  That evening, she had eaten nothing for dinner, just playing with her food, then sitting in front of the TV, staring straight ahead with unseeing eyes.

Lee eased the window open and slid silently in through the opening.  As he entered the room, he smelled the hot, heavy smell of tears and sweat, and his heart ached.  This had to work, he couldn’t take it any more, he had to have his Amanda back, couldn’t live without her. He moved toward Amanda’s bed, his face twisting in unspoken sympathy when he heard her low whimpering.  He ran his hand over her damp hair, pushing it back from her sweaty forehead.  His fingers touched the soaked pillow, and he ached for her.  Tears sprang into his eyes, hot and painful.

“Amanda,” he whispered, softly, so as not to startle her awake.  She immediately opened her eyes and slammed back against the headboard, eyes wide with fear, body trembling visibly.  She was shaking so hard the bed was moving, and she wrapped her arms around her knees, head tucked into her knees.

:”Hey, it’s okay, it’s just me, everything is fine,” Lee murmured as he slid down to sit on the bed, sliding back against the headboard and putting his arm lightly around her shoulders.  He took her hand with his other hand, twining his fingers with her, palm to palm.  Amanda relaxed immediately, slumping down against him with her head turned into his shoulder.  He felt her shudder a couple of times, and then he felt her tense up again, gathering herself together, and pulling away from him slightly.   Lee continued to soothe her with nonsense words, murmured quietly to her, as she pulled away.   At least she allowed him to hold her hand, and he rubbed his thumb over the back of her hand, stroking back and forth.

“Lee – what are you doing here?? What time is it anyway and why are you in my bedroom!?”   She attempted to pull away from him, but he kept a steady grip on her hand.

“Shh, you’ll wake your mother and the boys,” Lee said, stroking the back of her hand with his thumb, trying to get her to relax again.

“They’re not here, I asked mother to take the boys away for the weekend, I needed to think about some things, and I couldn’t do it with them here,” Amanda said quietly, reaching to turn on her bedside lamp.

Lee swallowed hard, wondering if she was regretting agreeing to marry him, or whether she had decided to leave the Agency.  He knew she had been through hell, even though he had not been allowed to attend her debriefing.  He had, however, borrowed the tapes and listened to them, noting that she did not go into detail even during the debriefing. She didn’t sound like the Amanda he knew, giving very short statements in response to questions and leaving out a lot of details.  He had spent the week trying to formulate a plan for the weekend, not even sure that Amanda would want to spend any time with him.  Now all he had to do was convince her to come with him.

“Come on, Amanda, get dressed, I have a surprise for you,” he said, removing his hand from around her shoulders.

“What?? No way, forget it!” Amanda glared at him, “you can’t just waltz in here at-“
she   checked her clock – “three a.m. and ask me to go with you, no questions asked!  Forget it Lee, whatever you have planned, I’m not going!  And I don’t care if it’s work!”  Amanda said angrily.

“It’s not work, I promise, come on, you’ll like it, I promise, take a chance and trust me,” he said quietly, looking into her eyes, willing her to remember a morning at the train station.

“You’re just not going to give up, are you?”  Amanda grumbled and got out of bed. She knew he’d never leave if she didn’t go with him, that he’d just be back, finding some other way to get into the house.  She sighed and shook her head.   “Ok, what kind of clothes does this surprise require?”

“Jeans, an old sweater, a warm jacket and your boots.  Do you want some coffee?”  Lee asked, getting out a small thermos from his pocket.

“Yeah,” Amanda said and took the thermos and her clothes and walked over to the bathroom.  “At least I guess we’re not going to some fancy club or anything- I hope,” she said, glaring at Lee, noting that he was dressed in jeans and a warm jacket.  She also noticed that he was pale and hadn’t slept much either.  Apparently she wasn’t the only one still suffering from recent events.  She now knew she was making the right decision to take herself out of his life permanently.

Entering the bathroom, Amanda glanced in the mirror, seeing her swollen red eyes and pale face, her hair damp and close to her head.  She grimaced at her reflection – I look like a drowned rat, she thought.  She reached into the shower and turned on the water, then stripped off her t-shirt and stepped into the warm spray.

Lee went over to the window and slid it shut all the way again and then moved back to sit on her bed, leaning back against the headboard, easing her pillow up behind his back.   He could smell her unique scent on the pillow, a combination of the light perfume she sometimes wore and her shampoo, and he immediately moved the pillow back on the bed.   He couldn’t afford to be distracted now, not by sitting on her bed, among her pillows and smelling her scent, he needed to be strong enough not to follow his immediate impulse to grab her and toss her down on the bed.  He eased himself up again and walked over to the window, again resting his forehead against the cooler glass, trying to get his emotions under control again.

Amanda quietly came out of the bathroom, looking at Lee, his back slightly toward her, leaning his head against the window, his fatigue and unhappiness obvious.   Her heart ached for him, ached that she couldn’t go to him and put her arms around him, but she had made up her mind.  She needed to leave him to his own life, she was endangering him by her presence, putting him in situations he’d never have been in if it were not for her.  He would never have gotten caught by Birol had he not gone in to rescue her, and she feared that next time he wouldn’t be as lucky as with Birol. Not as long as she was around and distracting him and putting him in danger.

“Lee, I’m ready,” she said, her voice shaking slightly.

Lee straightened up slightly, pulling his shoulders back and turning toward her, smiling softly.

“Ok, let’s get going, the car’s just outside.”

Lee drove east on quiet highways, rarely meeting any traffic, thinking about Amanda and how to help her deal with recent events.  Amanda was dozing; her head was turned toward the window, with her back toward Lee.  Her head drooped against the shoulder strap of the seatbelt, occasionally snapping up as she startled awake, only to start drooping again with the motion of the car.   Lee longed to reach out and stroke her, to comb his hands through her soft silky hair, to take her in his arms and protect her from danger, to hold her in his heart and his arms.   He resolutely kept his hands on the wheel, knowing Amanda’s reactions to his attempts to touch her. He didn’t think he could take it if she flinched away from him again.

Lee finally pulled onto a smaller road, making his way past fields and trees, finally pulling into a driveway by a house with a small barn to one side.   Oaks lined the driveway, and the moonlight silvered the leaves and the small pond visible on the other side of a dark wooden fence.  Lee turned the car off, reaching over to put his hand on Amanda’s shoulder, shaking slightly to wake her up.  She startled slightly, whirling around with big eyes, then slightly relaxing when she saw Lee.   She refused to meet his eyes.

They walked toward the old barn, and Lee slid back the door, allowing them to enter.  Amanda was trembling slightly with the night cold and general fatigue, but she followed Lee into the warm, fragrant barn as he slid the door closed behind them. Taking her hand, not allowing her to pull it away from him, he lead them down the dark center aisle, hearing large bodies moving in the stalls. Occasionally a dark eye would follow their progress or a horse would shift its weight around, rustling the straw at its hooves.

They walked up to one of the box stalls and Lee reached over to turn on the overhead light in the box.  Amanda saw a large almost white horse with dark eyes turning toward them, whickering softly.  Lee slid back the stall door on well-oiled hinges and entered the stall, still holding Amanda by her hand.

“Lee, I can’t go in there, I’m allergic, and horses don’t really like me, besides, he’s huge, I’m not going near him,” she said, pulling back from Lee.  He refused to let go of her hand and slid his arm around her waist, continuing to drag her toward the horse, who slowly walked toward them.

“I’ve already taken care of that,” Lee said, handing Amanda her allergy medication and the thermos.

“Oh, goody,” Amanda said, sarcastically, grimacing and taking her medication, still hanging back from the stall.

“You just haven’t been introduced properly to horses.  Jumping on one and tearing off after a princess isn’t the best introduction, is it?  Amanda, this is Colin. Colin, this is Mrs. King,” Lee said, taking Amanda’s hand and putting it out for the horse to sniff as she hung back against his arm around her.  He moved her hand toward the horse’s head, finally putting it down on the horse’s muzzle, still covered by his own hand, moving her hand down the nose, stroking the soft skin between the nostrils.  He eased his hand off Amanda’s, still standing close to her, his arm in place around her waist, as she stroked down the horse’s muzzle. Amanda was surprised at the softness and warmth as she stroked her hand down the muzzle.  She momentarily forgot that Lee was still holding her and leaned back into his arm for a few seconds before slightly tensing and moving away. Colin turned a great liquid eye toward her as she ran her hands down his head.  Noticing Lee, Colin reached over and pushed his head at Lee, searching out his pocket with his sensitive lips.

“Ok, you old beggar, you’ll get it,” Lee mumbled to the horse, removing some peppermints from his pocket.  Colin nickered softly in approval as Lee started unwrapping the candy.  Lee put it in Amanda’s hand.

“A little bribe never hurts, eh Colin?  Just put the mint on your palm, keeping your hand flat and let him take it,” Lee said, holding Amanda’s hand and demonstrating.  Colin moved his head to Amanda and sucked up the mint between his downy lips, crunching it between his teeth.  Amanda fed him a couple of more mints, growing more comfortable with the horse.  Colin then reached his head up, unexpectedly putting his nose on her cheek, staring down his long head, ears pricked. He blew out softly, exhaling a cloud of peppermint scent.  Amanda stumbled back against Lee’s chest. Trapped between him and the horse, she again approached the horse.  Colin again raised his head and blew out at her face, looking down his long face into her eyes.

“Amanda, just blow out softly at him, he’s greeting you, he won’t bite,” Lee said softly behind her.  Amanda followed Lee’s suggestions, and Colin touched his soft muzzle to her cheek, moving his lips softly against her face.  Amanda thought she hadn’t ever felt anything as soft as his muzzle, and she continued to look into Colin’s shining eyes.  She didn’t notice as Lee slipped out of the stall, leaving her alone with the horse.  She continued stroking Colin, feeding him a couple of more mints.

Lee walked down the barn aisle to the tack room, picking up a hoof pick and a bridle.  As he walked back, he was surprised to hear Amanda’s soft laugh from within the box.  He crept closer to the box and saw Colin licking Amanda’s hair, and he was pushing his muzzle through her hair.   Colin then dropped his head and pushed against her, rubbing his head up and down her body.  Amanda giggled at his antics, half-heartedly trying to get away from the horse’s head, but Colin dropped his head over her shoulder and pulled her back against his chest.  Colin then raised his head and pushed at her again as Lee entered the box.  Amanda stumbled forward, and Lee reached over to steady her.  She met his eyes for a second, her eyes shining with laughter.  Almost immediately she looked away again and her eyes turned serious, but for the first time over the past few weeks Lee thought maybe she would recover, that Birol hadn’t broken her after all.

Amanda watched as Lee reached down and picked up each plate-size hoof, picking out the dirt and straw.   Lee then slid the bridle over Colin’s head, taking the reins in his one hand and draping the other softly over Amanda’s shoulders, walking out of the barn. Colin walked next to them, chewing softly on the bit, ears swiveling.   Lee noticed with relief that Amanda didn’t flinch away from his arm.

Lee walked the horse over to a mounting block, dropping the reins on the ground.  Colin immediately stopped, standing still.

“Come on, let me give you a leg up,” Lee said, turning toward Amanda.

“What!  I am not getting on him!  No way, he’s too big, I don’t like horses and they don’t like me,” Amanda sputtered, the last uttered as Colin again put his head up to her and then dropped it on to her shoulder, rubbing his chin and leaving a trail of green slobber on her shoulder.

“Well, this one seems to like you just fine,” Lee said, chuckling, then grabbing Amanda and tossing her across Colin’s broad back, not giving her the chance to back away.  Colin turned back to check who was on his back, again looking into Amanda’s eyes.  Lee walked Colin to the mounting block, one hand on Amanda’s thigh, finally swinging himself up behind Amanda.

He put his right arm around her waist and eased his legs forward until they were supporting her legs around the horse’s sides.  He flinched again as she pulled away from him, ducking her head into her chest and trembling with tension and fear.  He reached around Amanda with his left hand to hold the reins, looking over her shoulder.

He clucked softly at Colin who moved forward in a slow walk.  Lee felt Amanda tighten up even more in his arms as the horse moved.  She was trying to avoid his touch, but then she wobbled on the horse’s back and clutched briefly at Lee’s arm.

“Relax, I’ve got you.  Just feel the motion and grip with the insides of your legs and let your legs hang down.  I’m not going to let you fall, neither is Colin, are you, you old beggar?” Lee said, softly into Amanda’s ear.  She felt his warm breath on her cheek and ear, and she nodded nervously, trying to relax.  She again held herself rigidly away from Lee, who felt it and despaired.

He moved Colin down a soft sand path, the horse moving silently among the trees, his white coat shining in the moonlight.  Lee held Amanda silently, stroking her waist up and down, willing her to relax with the motion of the horse.  He still felt the rigidity in her body and her avoidance of him.  Amanda kept her head down, and she was trembling slightly in his arms.

Amanda glanced down, swallowing as she stared at the ground, far below.  She wobbled again, clutching at the horse’s sides with her legs and hanging on to the mane with both hands.  Again, Lee held her steady against his chest.  After a few seconds she again became rigid in his arms and leaned away from him.  She could feel Lee behind her, and she tried to hold her thighs away from his and remove herself from any contact with him.  She knew she would break down if she got too close, losing herself in him as always, yet again hurting him.

They wound down a path through a small group of trees, past more fields, not seeing any houses or signs of inhabitants, just them and the great animal underneath them, his hooves silent on the sand.  Amanda felt herself relaxing as the warmth of the horse penetrated through her jeans and her fear.  She sank down on his back, allowing her legs to drape down Colin’s sides.  Lee noticed that she wasn’t holding herself as rigidly as before, although she still tensed and tried to withdraw from his touch every time she felt his thighs at the back of her legs.  He could smell her hair just in front of his face, and he ached to put his arms around her and pull her back against his body.  Quietly he reached around and ran a soft hand down her right arm.  He felt her pull away slightly, then relax again as he ran his hand up and down her arm, in rhythm with the horse’s walk.  He smiled softly into her hair, happy that she was already more relaxed than she had been since her rescue.  Lee then reached his hand up and ran it through the soft hairs at her neck, then lightly massaging her neck.  He flinched at the rigidity of her neck muscles and the sight of her clenched teeth.  He stroked her neck softly, lightly rubbing the tense areas.  Amanda groaned slightly as her muscles relaxed, then immediately tensed again as she realized what she was doing.   Behind her, Lee smiled softly and kept stroking her hair along her neck with feathery, barely felt touches, and she finally shivered in response, trembling slightly.

Colin kept walking along the sand path, and Amanda eventually noticed that there seemed to be fewer trees and more fields.   The moonlight was fading with the horizon becoming a lighter gray.  She glanced upward, noticing that the stars were also fading.  Lee hadn’t allowed her to bring her watch, but she guessed it wouldn’t be long before the sun rose over this desolate area.  She was now almost totally relaxed, moving in rhythm with the walk of the horse, feeling his muscles between her legs and the warmth of his body, Lee against her back and behind her legs.  She occasionally leaned back against his chest, allowing herself to feel him behind her briefly before again pulling back from his touch as she realized what she was doing.

As they approached the sand dunes, Lee reached in front of her and leaned forward, pushing her slightly forward also, telling her to grip with her legs.  He clucked at Colin and squeezed his legs against the horse’s sides.  Colin immediately picked up a canter, a steady rocking-chair gait with metronome regularity.  Amanda tensed and wobbled on his broad back, but Lee steadied her from behind and put his mouth to her ear.

“I’m not going to let you fall, I’m not gong to let anyone hurt you, I’ve got you, just relax and feel his motion, feel the rhythm of his canter, let your abdomen go soft and allow it to move with the horse, and grip with the insides of your legs. Lean forward slightly as he runs, and take some of his mane in your hands. I’m not going let go of you, trust me, just relax, trust me, relax, take it easy” Lee kept repeating, while keeping his strong arms around her waist, trusting the horse to keep on the path.  He supported her weight with his thighs and corrected her balance when she wobbled.

Amanda felt the wind catch her hair, blowing it around her face, first scaring her into tensing and grabbing more of the mane, then enjoying the feeling of the wind lifting up her hair, Lee all around her, holding her, keeping her safe.  She moved with the rhythm of the horse’s gait and found she no longer wobbled or swayed on Colin’s broad, secure, warm back.

Lee then leaned further forward, into Amanda, and pressed his heels into Colin’s sides as the path widened out as they cantered over the first sand dunes. Colin immediately spurted forward, thrusting into the stride, his hooves hitting the ground faster and harder, his head extending, his mane and tail flying out behind him.  His hooves thundered across the sand dunes, kicking up sand behind them.

Amanda was caught up in the motion, leaning far forward, feeling the mane in her face with her own dark hair mingling with the white hairs of the mane, feeling Lee up against her, his thighs warmly supporting her, his arms around her waist, his head next to hers.  They seemed to fly across the sand in the half-life of dawn, silently except for the sound of the hooves drumming on the sand.  Amanda vaguely heard waves breaking somewhere in front of her, and she thought she heard Lee telling her that he loved her, but the words were snatched away by the salty wind.  Amanda couldn’t help the grin spreading over her face, feeling the magic of their headlong rush across the sand, feeling herself become one with the horse, the wind and the light, with Lee at her side, holding her safe in his arms.

Lee again pressed his heels into the horse and they seemed to fly over the last of the sand dunes, cresting the rise just as the sun appeared over the horizon, lighting up the deserted beach.  Lee sat up and eased Colin to a stop, pulling Amanda up against himself at the same time.  Colin came to a halt, facing the sun, his mane golden in the warm light.  Amanda leaned back into Lee’s arms, leaning her cheek against his, holding his hands in hers, trembling softly.  Tears sprang into her eyes, softly rolling down her face, soundlessly.

Lee held her closer, rubbing his thumbs over her hands, kissing her neck and the sides of her throat, murmuring softly.   He leaned forward and briefly captured her mouth with a soft, undemanding kiss, and then he kissed away the traces of her tears, tasting her skin, bittersweet and salty on his tongue.  Amanda was trembling harder, now audibly sobbing, her hands gripping his tightly.  The moment had come.  Galloping across the sand in the dark with Lee holding her had released her tight control, leaving her weak and trembling and allowing her to break down in the face of the beauty in front of her and the love of the man holding her.

Lee slid off Colin and reached up to slide Amanda off Colin’s back and into his arms.  He carried her, still sobbing frantically, in his arms to a large log that had washed up on the beach.  She kept her head buried against his chest, soaking his jacket, shaking violently, keening and moaning softly, unintelligibly.

Lee sat down and eased her across his lap, simply holding her and stroking her hair with one hand, letting her grip his other hand, murmuring quietly to her, as she continued sobbing and shaking.  He kissed her hair softly, stroking the sides of her head, wiping away her cleansing tears.  She buried her head even further into his chest, smelling his safe smell, her best friend, her heart, her everything.  She knew that now, knew she couldn’t leave him, couldn’t be that unselfish, and she shook harder in his arms.

Lee finally slid down from the log, leaning against it, shifting her slightly so she could lean her head back against his shoulder if she wanted to, keeping his arms around her.  He watched as the sun rose, gilding the sand, the waves, the solitary white horse and Amanda’s hair, all the time holding on to her and kissing the top of her head, feeling the silky hair under his lips, smelling her shampoo.   He started kissing her hairline, moving down her cheeks, moving back up her hair, and he stroked her back, murmuring soft endearments and assurances into her ear.

Finally her sobbing became less frantic, and she eased her grip on his jacket.  Amanda leaned back into his arms, allowing him to see her face for the first time since their frantic gallop across the sand.  She felt the soft wind on her burning cheeks and eyes, and she felt his solid body all around her, keeping her safe.  She felt his lips on her hair and then on her cheeks and eyelids, kissing away the remnants of her tears, then moving to her nose to softly kiss her mouth, then back to her hair, covering her face with light kisses, tasting the salt of her tears on her cheeks.  Her trembling decreased, leaving her slumped exhausted in his arms.  He met her eyes, seeing his Amanda in them, for the first time since the rescue from Birol.  She looked straight into his eyes, not blinking, her eyes serious but not frantic and not hiding.  His hazel ones met her gaze and held it, not daring to believe that maybe the horror was over, maybe things could get better, maybe Birol hadn’t taken away everything.  Amanda relaxed into his shoulder, her body soft and totally relaxed, sighing softly, knowing she was home, home where she belonged, with Lee.

“Lee,” she said, softly, so he had to duck his head to hear her, “I was so scared.   He took away everything I had that had any personal connection, my necklace. I couldn’t tell what was real anymore, I kept seeing you but you weren’t there, only him, even when it looked like you.  I tried to think of you and of mother and the boys, but then when you weren’t there, I wondered if this was real, if I really had the boys, or if that was just another dream.   I was losing my mind in there.  I couldn’t tell what was real and what he was telling me, I wasn’t sure even that I didn’t dream up or hallucinate my family, my life before he took me.  Oh, Lee, he said he was going to kill you, that he was going to use me to kill you, that my purpose was to get you killed, that I was the worst thing that happened to you and the best thing that happened to him.  I tried so hard, I couldn’t do anything, I thought if I wasn’t alive anymore, then he couldn’t use me to kill you, but he never left anything with me that I could use, never a knife, nothing.  Then at least you’d be alive.  I didn’t have anything to live for, I didn’t know if you were real or just something I hallucinated, except he kept talking about you, so you at least had to exist, but he never mentioned mother and the boys and I never saw them, not like I saw you, so maybe they didn’t exist.  It was so horrible, I’ve never been so scared in my life,” Amanda said, her voice breaking again.  Amanda shoveher head into Lee’s chest, the tears flowing freely down her face into his jacket.

Lee held her even tighter, swallowing his anger and his hatred of Birol and what Birol had done to the woman in his arms.  Tears rolled slowly down his own face, and he could barely speak.  He was trembling himself, amazed at her courage and resolve and her love for him, the love that had made her want to kill herself rather than see him trapped by a mad man because of her feelings for him.  He wanted to take them both away, where nobody could ever hurt her again.  He gripped her fiercely, reaching down to lift her face up, then capturing her lips and mouth in a hard, possessive kiss, tears still running down his face.  Amanda reached up and wound her hands around his neck, holding him tightly, opening her mouth to allow his tongue to enter.

“Amanda,” Lee’s voice shook as he eventually pulled away from her, “I love you, so much, I can’t even tell you how much, you are my life, you are my heart, I can’t live without you, and I wish there was some way I could take back what he stole from us,” Lee said, looking into Amanda’s eyes, a soft smile spreading across his face.

“Oh, Lee, I love you too, I should leave and get out of your life, but I can’t, not even to protect, just can’t do it, I want to be with you for the rest of our lives, forever and beyond forever,” Amanda said, stroking her hand down the side of his face.  She traced his lips with her fingers and pulled his head down to meet her lips.

 Lee could not believe he deserved this woman’s love.  He kissed Amanda again and again, unable to let her go, shaking still, now from relief and love for her. He finally rested his forehead against hers, breathing hard, as she stroked the tears from his cheeks, her hands soft and cool on his cheeks. She ran her hands through his hair, combing through it, loving the silky feel, loving him.  She lay back in his arms, tucked up against him, feeling safe for the first time in weeks.  Lee watched her joyously, still murmuring softly, until he saw her stifling a huge yawn.

“Come on, kiddo, let’s go home,” he murmured, looking into Amanda’s sleepy brown eyes.

Lee stood up gently, Amanda almost asleep in his arms, and he carried her toward the waiting horse.  Amanda woke up as he put her up on Colin. When he joined her on the horse’s broad back, she leaned back fully into his chest, loving the solid, warm, safe feeling of him. As Lee turned the horse away from the beach, he thought with relief that his plan had worked. He knew that for him there were few things as relaxing and freeing as riding a horse alone into the wind, especially on a deserted beach.  It wasn’t anything he was able to do very often with his schedule, although he thought with a soft smile that maybe he’d have to make the effort to do this more often, but not alone anymore, with Amanda instead.  Lee brought his arms around her and rested his chin on her shoulder, surrounding her, as he moved Colin forward into a walk, leaving the solitary beach behind, the sun gilding the edges of the hoof prints.

Lee carried Amanda up to his apartment, gently putting her down on his bed, yawning himself.  She had dozed in his arms as they rode back toward the stable, and Lee had to pull her off the horse’s back and carry her to the car.  She had slept soundly the entire way back, not even waking up as he pulled up outside his apartment.  He stripped off her jacket and boots, then noticing her sandy jeans, covered with white hairs.  He swallowed hard and shook his head at himself, then stripped off her jeans, leaving her sweater, immediately covering her with his comforter.  Amanda opened unfocused, sleepy, hazy brown eyes and reached for him.  Lee kicked off his own boots and jackets as well as his equally sandy and dirty jeans and sat down on the bed, behind Amanda, running his hands down her back and through her hair, a quiet smile of incredible joy on his face.

She reached for him again, “Come here Lee, just hold me, please, I need to know you’re really here, just stay with me for a while.”  Lee lay down next to Amanda and pulled the comforter over both of them. He pulled her close to him, draping his arm around her waist and his leg over hers.   He kissed the back of her neck and then buried his nose in her hair, smiling inanely.  Within seconds, both were asleep, holding each other tightly.

Amanda awoke, opening her eyes to the darkness around them, slightly disoriented, feeling rested for the first time in a long time. She felt Lee’s breath in her hair, the heaviness of his leg over hers, the comfort of his arm around her waist and his chest against her back.  She stretched hard, only to be brought up short by the pain along her inner legs, causing her to groan softly.   She had forgotten what horseback riding did to her leg muscles. Lee stirred behind her, first tightening his grip on her waist, then dropping a kiss on her sleepy lips with his own soft lips.

“Morning Amanda, what’s wrong?” he said, still sleepy, his eyes half-open, already drooping closed again as he tightened his grip on Amanda even more, running his hand over her sweater-clad breasts.

“I’m in pain, that’s what’s wrong, you and your great ideas, stupid horse, thanks a lot,” Amanda grumbled, glaring at Lee, “I’m not going to be able to walk anywhere for the next few days and it’s all your fault – and get your mind out of the gutter! “ she added, seeing Lee’s grin.

Lee turned over and reached down next to the bed, and Amanda heard the rusting of a paper bag.

“I picked up some things at the drug store when I got your allergy pills,” Lee said, chuckling at Amanda’s suspicious frown, “no, not that, I have plenty of those, in that drawer over there” he grinned as Amanda followed his eyes, chuckling softly to himself, “but this –“

And he proudly held up a tube of Ben Gay.

He was hoping that Ben Gay would turn out to be the great unknown aphrodisiac, and he figured he’d give it a try, they still had the whole evening and all of Sunday before her mother and sons would be back.  Then there was the small box he planned on leaving on her desk at the Q Bureau for her, early Monday morning.   They were going to be okay, after all.

“Turn over,” he said lazily to Amanda, sinking back down onto the bed, opening the tube of Ben Gay.

The End

Note:  I took a lot of liberties here because this is fiction, but I don’t recommend riding any horse without a helmet, the penalties are too high if you get in trouble.