Screen Captures Courtesy of Swoopes
For personal use and select distribution only © March 2002 by Amber Stockton
ACM Kid - tagalogue
Written by Gregory S. Dinallo (excerpts from the episode belong to him)
The doorbell rang, and Amanda rose from the couch to answer the door. When she opened it, she didn't see anyone, but then her gaze dropped to the step. She smiled and stooped down to place her arms around the large stuffed panda bear Lee had originally bought for Alexei.
The sound of a very familiar car starting and driving off caused her to look up as Dean called to her. "Amanda? Who is it?"
Instead of answering, she wrapped her arms around the panda and smiled. Her words came floating back to her as she stared into the darkness of the night, broken only by the intermittent streetlamps illuminating Maplewood Drive. ...maybe you're trying to buy his affections. You know, you could definitely buy mine with this guy. He's gorgeous! Lee had looked at her for just a brief moment, as if pondering something, then took the bear away and set it in the corner. She didn't have time to ponder the meaning behind his special delivery, as Dean called to her again.
"It's nobody, Dean," she called back, rising from her stooped position and wondering what she was going to do with the bear. "Probably just one of the neighborhood children playing pranks again." She lifted the panda and re-entered the house, then closed the door behind her. Looking to her right, she decided to stow the bear just inside the dining room and out of view for the time being. She would worry about what she would do with it once she and Dean and Jamie returned from the movie.
A sigh escaped her lips, and she forced herself to focus on the man in her living room, not on the one who had just driven away. "So, are we ready to go?" she asked, sitting on the edge of the couch.
"Yes, I'm right here," Jamie answered, stepping down into the living room, his jacket hanging across his left arm.
Amanda immediately stood. "Well, then shall we go?" she exclaimed a little too cheerfully. Dean gave her an odd look, but rose from the couch and joined her as they retrieved their jackets. Amanda closed and locked the door behind them, sighing and thinking to herself as they walked to Dean's car. This is going to be a long movie.
* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *
She gave Dean a quick kiss goodnight, then followed Jamie inside and closed the door behind them. "All right, upstairs, brush your teeth and get ready for bed. I'll be up to tuck in you and Philip in a few minutes."
"Okay, Mom," Jamie replied, doing as she bid.
As soon as he disappeared around the wall, Amanda walked to the window and looked out into the street. Mentally chastising herself for her wandering mind, she allowed the curtain to fall back into place and sighed. She must be going out of her mind, thinking she had seen a silver Porsche parked a little ways down the street when Dean had pulled into the driveway after the movie. "I've really got to stop this," she muttered to herself.
Despite her best attempts throughout the entire evening, her mind had continually gone back to that conversation in Lee's apartment a couple of days ago. No matter how hard she tried, she couldn't persuade her thoughts to obey her wishes, and that led to her wondering if she really wanted them to. Although she tried, she couldn't remember a thing about the movie they saw tonight, and it wasn't fair to Dean that her mind was elsewhere almost every time she was with him. It was usually dwelling on memories of working with Lee. Tonight, it was the bear, which was left by Lee. If she was completely honest with herself, it was no one's fault but her own.
Taking a few steps into the dining room, she retrieved the panda bear she'd placed there earlier. Certain that the downstairs was unoccupied, and finding no one around, she lugged the large stuffed animal into the kitchen and propped him on one of the stools. After he was balanced against the counter and safe from falling, she placed her hands on her hips and stepped back. "What am I going to do with you?" she asked, her question referring to more than the bear sitting in front of her. Shaking her head, she chuckled. "As if he's going to answer me back. You are cute, though," she added, reaching out and touching the small button nose and stroking the soft fibers of the synthetic fur.
"Why, thank you!" came a voice floating in from outside.
Amanda snapped her head around and nearly jumped at the sound. Lee was casually leaning against the doorjamb of her back door, his arms crossed and a smug grin on his lips. Embarrassed at being caught voicing her thoughts, she quickly hid her discomfort as she turned to walk to the back door and braced her arm along its length. "I wasn't talking about you, I was talking about the bear," she retorted.
"But you were thinking about me, right?" he pressed with a teasing glint in his eyes.
"Don't you ever knock?" she asked, avoiding his question. "What are you doing here, anyway?"
He grinned at her change of subject, but obviously decided not to pursue it. Instead, he leaned casually against the doorframe and crossed his arms across his chest. "Ohhh, I was in the neighborhood and wanted to check to see that old Pandy was delivered safely."
She saw through his subterfuge and replied, "You know very well that he was. You waited until I answered the door before you drove off earlier, so what's the real reason?" she demanded, placing her hands on her hips and giving him an intent stare.
He sighed. "All right, I just wanted to wrap up the case with Alexi and let you know he's back with his parents."
"Thank you," she replied, trying to maintain an appearance of nonchalance, despite her heart beating a little faster than normal.
She didn't say anymore, and Lee nodded in the direction of the panda in the kitchen. "So, what *are* you going to do with him?"
Amanda turned to face the object in question and sighed. "I really don't know. He's awfully big, and Mother will spot it right away..." She trailed off and turned back to face him, placing her hand around the doorknob. "Why did you give him to me? Did Alexi not want it after all?"
Lee didn't reply immediately, but caught and held her gaze with his own, his probing hazel eyes reflecting something she couldn't quite identify. He shifted his stance, then cleared his throat. "The panda was a little off the mark," he admitted, avoiding her first question.
"I hate to say it, but I told you so!" she retorted with an impish grin.
He placed his flat palm against the doorjamb where he had been leaning a moment ago and smiled. "You love being right, and you know it!"
"Well..." she replied, ducking her head and smiling as she averted her eyes briefly before returning to his. "You're not the king of honesty, either, you know," she challenged. "You still haven't told me why you left the bear with me instead of returning it." She placed her hands on her hips again as she waited for his answer.
"Mom! Phillip and I are ready for bed!" Jamie called from upstairs.
"I'll be right up, sweetheart!" Amanda called in reply, turning to call over her shoulder before turning back to look at Lee, expectantly.
"Looks like my cue to leave," he said with a mischievous smile, backing away from the door. "Let me know what you do with the bear. I'll be seeing you," he called, disappearing around the side of the house without giving her a chance to reply.
She shook her head as she closed the door and walked around the kitchen counter. Facing the panda on the stool, she muttered, "One of these days...." She gave the panda a little flick on the nose, then lifted it from the stool and carried it upstairs.