Screen Captures Courtesy of Swoopes
For personal use and select distribution only © May 2002 by Amber Stockton
A Lovely Little Affair - tagalogue
Written by George Geiger & Kathleen Shelley (excerpts from the episode belong to them)
"Gee, that's too bad." Lee retrieved two tickets from his inside jacket pocket. He grinned as he watched Amanda, hoping he could pull this off the way he wanted. "These were for tonight." He held the tickets in front of him and flipped them to look at the front and back as Amanda's right foot bounced in a sign of impatience.
Slowly, she turned to face him and her entire demeanor changed as she noticed the tickets in his hand. "Are those real?"
Lee caught her gaze and held it. "About eight?"
He smiled. "See how easy that was?"
She laughed, and he smiled. When she recovered, she pinned him with a look. "Do you mean to tell me that you planned this entire conversation from the start?"
He tried not to look too pleased with himself, but since the result had been in his favor, he couldn't help it. "As a matter of fact, yes." At her doubtful response, he hurried to continue, "Oh, I didn't plan it all, but I had planned to ask you to join me tonight at the Kennedy. When we started talking about an agent's technique and planning, well..." he shrugged, "it all seemed to fall into place."
She glanced down at the tickets. "Eighth row? Wow! How did manage to get such great seats?"
"Let's just say that I owed Murray down at Dulles a favor when he got us some surveillance tapes that showed us Necci's arrival." He paused. "Turns out he couldn't use them, soo..."
"Mm-hm." She drew her lips drawn in a tight line. "And what if I had said no?"
He shrugged. "Then, I would have asked Francine." Secretly, he was glad she had agreed. If he was honest with himself, something he wasn't entirely certain he wanted to be at this point, spending an evening with Amanda held far more appeal than an evening with Francine.
"So, you would have given up? Just like that?"
Her question brought his mind back to their conversation. "Yeah, just like that." He removed his arm from the back of the couch and stood, then heard her stand to join him a moment later.
"Without any other attempts? You give up too easily!" she accused, and brushed past him.
He snaked his left arm out to grasp her right, then whipped her around to face him. The abrupt action caused her to stumble and fall against him. Her left hand came to rest lightly on the lapel of his jacket, and he kept his left hand firmly around her elbow as his right fell to her waist. With her standing this close to him, her face upturned, he could smell the slight scent of her perfume. For a moment, he couldn't remember the topic of their conversation. Or were they arguing? He couldn't focus enough to bring it to mind.
All of a sudden, he realized what they had been discussing and gave her a half smile. "Me? Give up easily? Uh-uh," he corrected.
"No?" Her eyebrows winged upward, then her eyes narrowed. "I suppose you just know when to toss out the bait!" Her voice was laced with sarcasm.
"Yeah, just like Chamberlain did with you!" he retorted.
"Alan? What's he got to do with this?"
Lee released his hold on her and took a few steps backwards, then turned and vaguely gestured in her direction. "Oh, come on, Amanda? Don't tell me you actually fell for that guy! You have one cup of coffee, go out to dinner with him once, and all of a sudden he's the victim in this situation."
"Now, what is that supposed to mean?" she demanded. "Alan was nothing but a gentleman the entire time I was with him, and when things got too rough, he even called and told me that we couldn't see each other anymore. So, why would you say something like that about him?"
Lee quickly glanced at her to see her firmly plant her hands on her hips as she waited for his reply. He sighed and ran his hand through his hair as he began to pace. This wasn't going how he wanted it to go at all. She was supposed to agree to attend the opera with him, and they were supposed to have an enjoyable evening together. How did it escalate into them arguing? And how in the world had Chamberlain entered the conversation?
"Do you know what I think?" she asked, her voice bringing him back into the conversation. "I think you're jealous," she continued without waiting for him to reply.
"Jealous? Ridiculous!" He scoffed at the idea and walked past her back to the table with the files on it. He began to sort through them with no real goal in mind, but needed the action to distract him. "Why would I be jealous of Alan?"
"I don't know, why would you?"
Her voice sounded from directly behind him. He froze, his hand paused above one of the stacks of files. Abruptly, he turned around to face her, and all words fled from his mind. There was no way he was going to admit anything to her, especially not jealousy, but he had to say something. He opened his mouth to speak, but nothing came out, so he closed it again. Her eyes varied in the emotion they displayed, first a hint of contention, but then a small mixture of curiosity blended with a little bit of ... anticipation? He couldn't quite tell.
She was trying her hardest to be upset with him, but it was obvious that she wasn't completely angry, or he wouldn't have seen the softness in her features. Banking on that small chance that he could still turn this all around again, he gave her his most disarming smile.
"Why don't we get back to the work at hand, so we can get out of here and make it to the Kennedy tonight?" He held his breath as he waited for her reply.
She looked like she was going to disagree and continue their argument, but after a split second, she carefully concealed her expression and stepped up to the desk. Lifting a stack of folders into her arms, she headed toward the door to Billy's office. "Are all of these going upstairs to the Q-Bureau?"
Lee watched her as she walked past him and smiled. He knew she still wanted an answer to her question, but he wasn't about to give it to her, at least not now. Some time was needed for him to collect his thoughts and put some distance between himself and this recent case. Everything was too fresh and too raw, and he knew he'd say something he'd later regret if he answered her now. It was much safer to continue as normal, so that's just what he did.
Lifting the second stack of files and clearing the desk, he joined her at the door. "Yeah, all of them. We'll have to find a place to file them, once we get through the other stacks of folders and files up there!" He sighed in exasperation, wondering if they would ever make sense of the cluttered state of the room. "I certainly don't need another visit from the 'Dragon Lady' prying into my personal affairs and accusing me of being disorganized."
"Oh, of course not! We certainly can't have her saying something as off the wall as that!" The facetiousness in her tone wasn't lost on him.
"Hey! I know exactly where everything is when I need it. There's an order to everything I do!"
"I'm sure there is." She nodded, then shifted the weight of the stack of folders in her arms. "Well, the sooner we get them upstairs, the sooner we can enjoy our evening!" With that, she reached for the door, then stepped into the bullpen.
Lee followed right behind her and watched as she walked toward the double doors. He chuckled and shook his head. Either she wasn't as effected as he thought she was, or it was all an act, and she would get him later. Somehow, he knew it was the latter. Nevertheless, she was still agreeing to accompany him tonight, and he wasn't about to do anything to jeopardize that again.
* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *
Lee pulled the Corvette to the curb and stopped, then put the car in park. For what seemed like the hundredth time, he glanced over at Amanda and took in her appearance. Her sleeveless, white sequined gown with the low-cut, scooped neckline in the front was nothing short of beautiful. The drape of the dress flattered her trim figure, and it set off her features to perfection.
Throughout the entire evening, he'd had trouble keeping his mind on the opera and not on Amanda, and every time he caught another man casting an appreciative look her way, his shoulders straightened a little more in pride, knowing that she was with him for the evening. Although his mind told him over and over that it really was a date, he wasn't ready to fully allow that into their relationship at this point.
As he looked at her again, he realized how quiet she was, appearing like she was in deep thought about something. Rather than question her, he shut off the engine and got out. Tonight, he was going to walk her to her door, even if it was the back door. He walked around the car to her side, and a small part of him wished he could walk her to the front door to say goodnight.
When he had arrived at her house at the start of this most recent case, it felt so natural to assume he belonged there, especially when the pizza delivery boy had called him "Mr. King." However, he knew that wasn't possible, so he kept his mind focused on the here and now. Once her door was open, he extended his hand to assist her from the car, then shut the door behind her. Her lips formed a partial grin as she dangled his keys from her fingers and dropped them when he held out his hand.
Shaking his head and placing a hand at the small of her back, he nodded towards her house, and she silently allowed him to accompany her around to the back of the house. For a brief moment, he wondered what she had told her mother about her evening tonight, but since she didn't appear to be worried, he figured he didn't have to be, either.
"So," her voice broke the stillness and quiet of the night, "tell me again what happened in that opera tonight?"
Lee cleared his throat, and they continued to walk along the edge of her yard as they made their way to the back of her house. "Well, Verdi's La Traviata is based on the book by Dumas called The Woman Who Strayed. Alfredo and Violetta loved each other, but their relationship was hurting those they cared about. Violetta also knew she held the secret of her illness. So, rather than risking more and shaming their families by staying together, Violetta resisted Alfredo's affections, and Alfredo insulted her in public. In the end, they both realize that their love can overcome the obstacles, but she dies before they can really make a go of their love." He finished just as they reached the patio outside the kitchen door, and she turned to face him, her expression unreadable in the darkness.
"I knew there was something about it I didn't like."
His left arm rested at her waist from when she had turned. "What's that?"
"It's so sad. Just when they realize that their love can get them through anything, she dies. It all seems so hopeless, ending that way. You would think it would be better to show them working together to get past the barriers and how their families would ultimately accept them," Amanda suggested as an alternate ending.
"Yeah, maybe," Lee countered, "but I think the point of it all was a consequence for them giving in to their desires and not thinking about how it would affect others if they got together."
"I guess you're right," she conceded. "Still, it's just so sad."
"It's opera," Lee pointed out. "It's supposed to be somewhat tragic." He paused, then looked intently into her eyes and lowered his voice. "But, let's talk about something a little nicer ... like ... what a wonderful time I had this evening. Thank you for accompanying me."
She smiled. "Thank you for inviting me. I had a nice evening, too."
"And I know we really didn't get a chance to talk about the Chamberlain case, but you did a great job with surveillance on Chamberlain. It helped us pinpoint the Red February group with Necci and get Sophia back for Alan."
"I'm always glad to help, you know that."
He reached out and took both of her hands in his. "Yes, but with this one, you knew just the right touch it would take." He raised her right hand to his lips and placed a quick kiss on it. For a fleeting moment, a flash of hesitancy appeared in her eyes, almost like there was something more that had happened on this case than what she had told him. Just as quickly as it had appeared, it disappeared, and Lee figured he had just imagined it.
For several long moments, neither one of them spoke. Then, Amanda glanced down at their joined hands, and Lee swore she was fighting to control her breathing. He glanced down to see that his thumbs were unconsciously drawing slow strokes across her fingers, and he grinned, knowing how that had affected her on previous occasions. Suddenly, he realized it was probably best to put an end to this evening, even though he wished they could prolong it a little more. However, propriety won over his own wishes, and he knew he would be thankful later, especially considering the tenuous strings that held their relationship together at this stage.
"Amanda, I think we should say goodnight."
"Lee, I think we should say goodnight," she said at the same time.
They both laughed, then a moment of uncomfortable silence followed. Lee felt his breath catch in his throat at the look on Amanda's face. The moonlight bathed her face in a soft glow, and for a moment, the only thing on Lee's mind was how badly he wanted to kiss her. Slowly, he held onto her hands and lowered his face towards hers. She lifted her face to his, obviously feeling the same thing he was, but just before their lips touched, Lee changed direction and placed a soft but lingering kiss just to the left of her mouth.
As he pulled back to gaze into her eyes, he could barely see the hint of surprise at his actions mixed with a small amount of what appeared to be relief. Although it was obvious they both had succumb to the enjoyment of the evening and each other's company, they knew they had to take things much slower.
Releasing her hands, he stepped back and whispered, "Goodnight, Amanda," then retreated into the shadows.
Although he knew she couldn't see him clearly, he watched her eyes remain fixated to where he had just been for several moments. Her hand reached up to touch the place where his lips had kissed her cheek, and a small smile crossed her face. With a sigh, she turned and went into the house, and Lee turned to walk back to his car.
It was a short walk, but he reprimanded himself the entire way. What was he doing, thinking of Amanda in that manner? How could he have allowed his defenses to slip so easily, not to mention letting her see it? It was the same thing that had happened a couple of nights ago in her bedroom. That thought alone sent his mind in several directions, none of which he should be thinking, so he forced his mind back to the matter at hand.
When he had driven to her house to pull her off the case, he didn't know why he had waited until the middle of the night. The proofs from her photos had been dropped off earlier that evening, so he could have waited until she returned from her date. After going around and around in his mind about the reasons why, Lee convinced himself that he waited because he had other things to take care of before he could get to her. He wouldn't even allow the thought that he had wanted to come see her in the middle of the night to enter his mind.
It was bad enough when he had managed to climb the trellis and tap on her window, then after clumsily climbing inside, he had realized how improper it was for him to be there with her. More than that, it was awkward, especially with her in only a thin, cotton nightgown, and the two of them sitting on her bed. When they had shaken hands in agreement of her continued involvement with the case, he had felt something pass between them, and he knew she had felt it, too. While they discussed the case, his mind wasn't on where they were or the propriety of the situation. However, when they had come to an agreement about how to proceed, and had finally looked into each other's eyes, that was when things had changed. He had found it very difficult to leave her. What made it more difficult was where they were and the current status of their relationship.
As he reached his car and lowered himself into the driver's seat, he realized that he wasn't even sure what that status was, but he certainly knew he wouldn't have made a decision at that moment in her room. Instead, he had forced himself to put distance between them and tried to put up an emotional barrier. It had worked too, up to the point that he saw Amanda say goodbye to Chamberlain at the edge of the Botanical Gardens. Although he tried to deny it, something went off inside him when he saw them share that quick kiss. However, he didn't want to admit to jealousy, as that would mean he was more involved than he continued to tell himself he was.
No, it was much easier to simply pass it off as concern for her involvement with the men she met in this line of work. Sometimes, she was too trusting, and that could lead to trouble if she wasn't careful. That's why he was around, to help keep her safe. What started out as a small part of him enjoying that role had grown into a larger part, and he had to admit that protecting her was something he relished. There was something about her that kept him coming back, but at the same time had him keeping his distance.
He knew he was interested, or at least he was fairly certain he was interested, but he couldn't make a move yet. It was too early, and it would either scare her off or cause a problem in their friendship. As far as they had come, that wasn't even an option. No, he would take things slow for now, very slow. He still wasn't entirely sure of what he was feeling, so he needed time to explore those feelings and see where they led. He just hoped Amanda would be patient enough to wait for him, but also willing to explore and share her feelings with him. If not, this would all be for naught, and he honestly didn't want that to be the case.