Screen Captures Courtesy of Swoopes
For personal use and select distribution only © May 2002 by Amber Stockton
One Bear Dances, One Bear Doesn't - tagalogue
Written by Whitney Wherrit Robinson (excerpts from the episode belong to her)
"And she has a very special daughter, too."
Amanda turned to find Lee's eyes completely focused on her. She smiled, then held her breath as Lee leaned towards her. "Awh," she murmured, touched by his words.
Relieved but at the same time slightly disappointed that his kiss was only on her cheek, she watched him pull back to seemingly gauge her reaction. A small part of her wanted him to lean towards her again and this time touch her lips with his. However, she knew the chances of them being seen by someone else were very high. The room where her mother and Mr. Zernov were might have a mirror on one side, but they were still at the Agency.
So, instead, she settled for a shy smile. "I guess it runs in the family." She shrugged and turned back to look into the room and saw Mr. Zernov lift her mother's hand to his lips and bid her a final farewell. "You know, Mother really is going to miss him."
"Got pretty attached, did she?"
"You could say that." Amanda nodded and looked at her mother. Dotty was sitting at the table, her arms loosely crossed and her elbows resting on the table's surface. She had a very melancholy expression on her face. It almost broke Amanda's heart to know just how much Mr. Zernov would be missed.
"Hey," Lee whispered. His fingers lightly touched her chin to turn her to face him. "What's with that sad look, huh? There's nothing saying that Andrei won't be back here in D.C. sometime. Your mother may still get to see him again."
Amanda smiled at Lee's attempt to once again find the silver lining in the situation. "You're right, Lee." She sighed. "I'm sorry. I just know how much my mother enjoys sharing some time with others. When it ends up being special times like she's spent with Mr. Zernov, I feel bad when she loses that opportunity. It puts her in a very somber mood."
Lee reached down and took both of her hands in his. "Well, if she's anything like her daughter, I have a feeling she'll bounce right back soon enough." He smiled. "Now, how about we head on up to the Q-Bureau and get our report done? Then, we'll find something to take your mind off of this."
Amanda smiled. "I'd like that."
She held onto Lee's hands as he started to leave. He paused, a question in his eyes.
"Thank you," she whispered.
When he lifted one hand to his lips and placed a kiss on her fingers, she knew that no more words were needed. He understood exactly how much she was saying with those two words.
* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *
"All right, since it's a bit late, and we've got to get this report written, I managed to scrounge up a little bit of energy for us ... It's not the Blue Fox, but it'll do in a pinch."
Amanda watched Lee from the doorway to the vault, bent over in front of the mini-refrigerator in the Q-Bureau as he reached inside to retrieve a paper bag and two soft drinks. She had gone into the vault to retrieve the necessary folders for their report. Once she double-checked one folder to make certain everything was there, she gathered everything to her chest and entered the main room.
"Which one would you like? Turkey or ham?"
She saw him pop up his head over the refrigerator door.
She set the folders on his desk and turned to face him. "Turkey."
She looked up to see a plastic-wrapped torpedo flying directly at her face. With reflex reactions, she managed to snag it before it reached its target, then lowered her hands to the desk.
Amanda smiled and began to open her sandwich, partially leaning and sitting on the corner of his desk. Lee closed the refrigerator door and walked around her to take his seat at his desk before he opened his own sandwich. After he popped the lid on his soft drink and took a sip, he reached for the first folder she had pulled from the vault. He took a bite of his sandwich and almost dropped a few pieces of lettuce, but his free hand quickly came up to catch them and put them back into the bun.
Once his mouth was again empty, he looked at the folder in front of him. "So, what do we have here?"
Lee opened the folder and shuffled through the top papers. Amanda had to fight the smile that wanted so much to appear on her lips at his expression.
He glanced up at her. "What's this?"
Her face was the picture of innocence as she took a bite of her own sandwich. "What's what?"
"Don't give me that, Amanda. You know exactly what I mean. This is your work, and you know it!" His accusation was abrupt, but without any hint of hostility. He gestured at the almost-complete report. "When did you find time to do this?"
She ducked her head a little and managed a sheepish grin. "Well, I know how much you hate writing reports. Most of the time, I'm the one who ends up writing them. So, when I had some extra time on my hands, I typed up everything that had happened in the case." She leaned towards him and touched her index finger to the paper. "All that's left is the wrap-up!" Amanda took another bite.
When Lee didn't say anything in reply, Amanda turned her head to find him watching her. There was a mixture of softness and hesitation in his expression blended with the hint of a smile on his lips. It was then that she realized how close their faces were. She immediately straightened and busied herself with her soft drink.
He cleared his throat and turned his attention back to the report. "So, you've already told me everything that happened that led you to where Andrei and your mother were being held, but how did you manage to get out of that room they had you in?"
She smiled at the memory and turned to look at the window behind his desk. "I couldn't have done that without Mother's help. She hit the guard over the head with a chair and knocked him out. We managed to get out, but it didn't take long before we were caught. By that time, you and Mr. Melrose and the back-up had arrived." She shrugged. "The rest you know."
Lee jotted down a few notes at the bottom. "You know, I think you're right." He chuckled. "This is going to drive your mother nuts not being able to say anything about what happened!"
"You're not kidding!" Amanda chuckled. "I'm sure you know by now how much Mother loves to talk..."
"Like someone else I know!" Lee winked, almost finishing his sandwich with his next bite.
"And an experience like this would keep her busy for days!" Amanda continued as if she hadn't heard him. "Not being able to say anything about it is going to be an excellent test for her. I think I'm going to enjoy watching her to see how long she can last!"
"Maybe she can take lessons from her daughter!" Lee took a sip of his drink and smiled over the top of the can "On second thought, I take that back ... she's already learned too much from you."
Amanda set down her sandwich and crossed her arms, giving him her best glare. "And just what is that supposed to mean?"
"Look how she got involved in this mess, all by complete accident!"
"She just wanted to welcome our new neighbor to the community and get to know him a little better."
"Exactly, and look where it led! She got tangled up with the KGB and what could have been an international situation."
"Of course, I think she got a little suspicious before the picnic. I told her not to say anything to Mr. Zernov that she wouldn't want to see on the front page of the paper." Amanda shifted her weight on the edge of the desk to find a more comfortable perch. "It's a good thing she didn't question me any further than that."
Lee grinned. "Reminds me a lot of you!"
Amanda uncrossed her arms reached out to playfully slap his shoulder. Lee anticipated her move and reached up to capture her hand in his, then reached for the other one. His gaze met and held hers for a moment. She caught her breath at the tender look in his eyes. With as much resolve as she could muster, she slowly slipped her hands from his and crossed her arms once more.
Needing to distance herself from the intimate moment, she shifted back to a safer topic. "So, are you going to tell me how I scared you half to death?"
His forehead wrinkled in confusion. "What?"
"When Mr. Zernov and my mother were talking with Mr. Melrose..." She paused. "And that reminds me. Mother has spoken with Mr. Melrose more than once. She still hasn't said anything to me about who he is or made any connection between me and him. With the way her mind works, I'm surprised she hasn't figured something out."
"Maybe she just ends up being so confused by his involvement and the circumstances that bring him into the picture, she doesn't stop to think about how you could possibly be tied up with him."
"I guess that's possible. Knowing Mother, she wouldn't immediately think there was any chance I could be involved. I still remember when she remarked with a laugh about the possibility of me leading a double-life!"
Lee chuckled. "Yeah!" He popped the last of his sandwich into his mouth.
"Anyway, where was I?" She thought about what she had wanted to say. "So, you reminded me about the rules of not making a move without back-up, then you told me that I nearly scared you half to death." She gave him a pointed look and raised her sandwich to her lips. "So, I'm asking if you're going to tell me how."
Lee leaned back in his chair and tossed the pencil onto the desk. He interlocked his fingers and rested them just below his ribcage. "We got a tip about that restaurant where Andrei had gone, and when I tried to call your house, no one answered. I checked messages and you hadn't left any. There was also no sign of Andrei or your mother, so I got worried. That was when Francine came into Billy's office and impatiently introduced the receptionist who had taken your call."
"So, she didn't actually pass my message on to you?"
"No, and believe me, I wasn't exactly too thrilled with her," Lee ground out. "When she said she thought it was a crank call because you didn't have any clearance codes and she didn't recognize your name, I told her that you were a clearance code all your own, and that whenever you phoned with a message it was to be delivered directly to me or Billy."
Amanda smiled as she listened to Lee explain everything. He may not admit it, but she had become very important to the Agency. It was obvious they depended on her assistance a lot. There was no way she was going to allow Lee to talk his way out of it the next time it entered their conversation. Not after what he had just admitted.
His gaze left hers and strayed back down to the report. She uncrossed her arms and leaned towards him a little.
"So, do we have everything we need?"
"Almost." There was a hint of impishness in his tone.
"What's missing?" Amanda tried to turn her head and read the full report. She swallowed the last of her sandwich and dumped the plastic wrapping in the trashcan by the desk, then took a sip of her drink.
"Well, there's this part in the middle." Lee pointed. "When your mother and Andrei went on their picnic and you and I were on surveillance."
"What about it?"
"It seems to be missing something."
Amanda leaned closer to reread what she had written. She scrunched her eyebrows together in consternation and braced her weight against the desk with her left hand. "That's funny. I thought I covered that part pretty well."
She shifted her gaze to look at him. "Then what's missing?"
"The part about you having someone at work that's caught your interest."
Amanda shrugged. "I didn't think it was necessary to include that in the report. It wasn't very important."
"Are you saying it's not true?"
"Maybe," she retorted with a slight grin.
Lee slowly stood and reached out to grasp her right hand, then reached for her left and encouraged her to straighten. His thumbs immediately began their circular motion across her fingers. He leaned towards her, and Amanda fought hard to control her breathing. Her erratic heartbeat seemed determined to betray her. She was certain Lee could hear its rapid beat. His eyes drop to her mouth, and she moistened her lips in anticipation.
His voice took on a very husky timbre that sent tingles down her spine. "We may just have to do something about your inability to come to a complete conclusion about your working habits."
"Do any ideas come to mind?" she managed to rasp.
Lee grinned. "A few."
The touch of his hands was doing crazy things to her insides. She felt as if a hundred butterflies were not only fluttering, but had spread their wings and were flying around in her stomach. His smug grin showed that he knew what he was doing to her. Amanda decided to turn the tables a little. Gently removing her right hand from his grasp, she lifted it to his cheek and traced a feather-light trail from his cheekbone to his chin, doing her best to appear slightly seductive.
"You know," she began, her hand moving from his face to his hair, "there may be someone at work who catches my eye every once in a while." She ran her finger close to his ear and smiled as the look in his eyes changed from smug self-assurance to that of veiled self-control. "He's handsome, with the most amazing eyes. But, he can be a little too sure of himself at times. And he doesn't like to admit when he needs help."
It was hard not to laugh when he reacted to her words, his entire face that of denial. However, there was also a hint of a promise in his eyes that he would get her back. She knew she would have to stay on her toes for when that happened.
Lee finally spoke. "And is this someone you know well?"
"So, you work closely with him?"
"Very close," she whispered, leaning towards him.
He leaned towards her as well. When their lips were almost touching, he smiled. "And what exactly are you going to do about this situation?"
His warm breath whispered across her lips, and she felt him give her left hand a gentle squeeze. Amanda grinned. "I think I'll let him decide."
There was no hesitation. The distance between them was closed in the flash of a second as Lee covered her mouth with his. Her eyes fluttered shut. She felt herself begin to drift away under the spell of his kiss.
Footsteps in the hall and the knob to the Q-Bureau door turning startled them both apart. Amanda quickly composed herself as the door opened.
"Lee, do you know what happened to that..." Francine started to say as she walked into the office. "Ah, here it is!" She turned to retrieve a small box marked 'tape transcriptions' from the shelf by the door. Just as she was about to leave, she cast a suspicious glance in their direction. "I'm sorry, did I interrupt something?"
"No, nothing!" Amanda's eyes didn't quite meet Francine's.
"We were just finishing our report from the Zernov case." Lee lifted the folder from his desk.
"Oh." Francine placed her hand on the doorknob. "Well, don't let me keep you from your work. Carry on!" She stepped back into the hall and pulled the door closed behind her.
Amanda and Lee looked back at each other and laughed. He reached out for her, and she leaned against him, burying her face against his shoulder, as she tried to control her mirth. After a moment or two, Lee pulled her back and gazed into her eyes. He placed a quick kiss on her lips, then stepped around and held out his hand. She took it and hopped down from the desk, then walked with him to the door.
As she grabbed her purse on the way out, she realized just how enjoyable it was working with Lee. How easily they slipped into a camaraderie that allowed them to tease and joke with each other without anything getting too serious. Sure, they'd shared a few kisses, but nothing that spoke of any form of commitment or that contained any amount of passion. Her senses were acutely alert to his presence and touch, but so far, they seemed content to tiptoe around this new phase. Neither one of them was ready to face the reality of their situation just yet. Until that time came, she was comfortable with things as they were. But that didn't mean she wasn't going to engage in her fair share of persuasive tactics to get him to change their status.
She caught his gaze just before they stepped into the hallway, and they both smiled. It definitely was going to be a lot of fun.