Screen Captures Courtesy of Swoopes
For personal use and select distribution only © February 2002 by Amber Stockton
Stemwinder (part 2) - tagalogue
Written by George Geiger & Robert W. Gilmer (excerpts from the episode belong to them)
Lee gestured towards the house. "So, how is everybody?"
Amanda shifted in his embrace, their arms securely wrapped around each other. "Oh, everybody's fine."
"Your mom and the kids?"
"Your ex?" he asked after a brief pause.
Amanda picked up on the tone in his voice and grinned. "He's fine ... you're jealous," she said slowly. "Don't be jealous." She paused as Lee chuckled nervously. "I love him. I'm always going to love him. But, I'm in love with you!" She looked him directly in the eyes to show him how she felt.
They leaned towards each other, but Dotty's voice from inside interrupted them. "Amanda, did you get him?"
"I'm working on it!" Amanda hollered back and smiled at Lee. His answering smile was as big and bright as her own.
This time, their kiss wasn't interrupted, and Amanda was deeply moved at the gentleness in his touch and embrace. He treated her like she was a porcelain doll that he didn't want to break. It made her feel cherished and very special. She hadn't felt like that in such a long time. If it was at all possible, she was loving him more and more with each passing minute. Instinctively, her hands moved to his shoulders then slipped into the hair at the nape of his neck, her fingers running through the soft strands.
Lee emitted a soft moan in the back of his throat and pulled away. She looked up into hazel eyes that were darkened with undisguised passion. Her breath caught in her throat at the intensity of his gaze. No young girl, innocent to the physical effects of passionate embraces, she was well aware of the reasons he broke their kiss. It was all right there in his eyes.
"Why don't we ... uh ... find someplace a little less conspicuous?" he suggested, his voice cracking with emotion.
Amanda smiled "Yes, we wouldn't want Mother to come out wondering why it's taking me so long to catch the Ferguson's dog!"
He took her hand in his and led her around towards the gazebo, a place that was rapidly becoming a safe haven for them both, at least at her house. "Is that the excuse you gave your mother to explain why you were coming out here?"
She stepped up with him and shrugged. "I couldn't think of anything else. Since I was looking out the window, it just made sense. The dog gets into our back yard once in a while, so it wasn't something completely unbelievable."
Lee led them to the bench. "What's this dog look like?"
Amanda sat beside him, fighting a smile at the mischievous itch coursing through her. "Oh, he's big and a little clumsy, but is usually harmless and can be cajoled with the right words."
He grimaced. "Great, so now I'm being compared to the likes of a clumsy dog!"
"Except you're much cuter and more lovable," she retorted and grinned.
"Gee, thanks. That makes me feel so much better."
The sarcasm that laced his words only caused Amanda to smile even more. "Oh, that's not what I meant, and you know it!"
She gave him a playful shove. He caught her hand, holding both of hers in his as he gazed tenderly into her eyes.
"But you can be cajoled with the right words," she whispered meaningfully.
"Mmm, and would you care to demonstrate?"
"Not at the moment," she hedged, then changed the subject. "So, you said that Dr. Smyth is prepared to offer me a full-time job. Do I have an appointment with him or something to talk about the specifics?"
He smiled, obviously at her attempts to avoid their previous topic of discussion, and went along with her conversation shift. "Yeah, you have to meet with him on Wednesday. Billy will be there with one other member of the council. They'll give you all of the details of the work you'll be doing, setting up the necessary tests and tasks that will result in an increase your security clearance and enhance your present skills."
"So, that means I'm going to be receiving training to become a full-time agent?"
"I believe that was the intention, yes."
"Well, it's certainly about time!" She tried her best not to grin foolishly, but maintain her composure and sound a little annoyed that it had taken so long for this to take place.
"Now come on, Amanda." Lee immediately made his attempts to pacify her. "You know as well as I do that you weren't hired at the Agency under the normal procedures of becoming an agent. You were brought in for your expertise in typing and other office skills."
She sighed. "Yes, I know."
He grinned. "You just happened to have some hidden talents none of us realized until you were forced to use them."
Amanda looked at him and smiled. "I think those hidden talents go both ways, Stetson!"
He leaned forward and placed his lips next to her ear, his warm breath wreaking havoc on her senses.
"And I have a feeling it's going to be a pleasure discovering them about each other!" His voice wasn't much more than a husky whisper. He moved to gaze into her eyes and give her a crooked, roguish grin. "Care to demonstrate some of those cajoling words, now?"
"Mmm, maybe words aren't exactly what I had in mind!"
The words were barely out of his mouth before he captured her lips in a passionate kiss, immediately pulling her closer as he deepened it. She felt herself slipping further and further into the euphoric realm their embrace was creating, completely and wholly intoxicated by his touch.
After several long, blissful moments, she cleared her throat and pulled back a little, then glanced away from his darkened and distracting eyes. "You know, I can't help but be thankful that you got involved in all of this. If it hadn't been for having no one to depend on but each other, it may have taken us longer for us to admit how we felt about each other."
He cleared his throat as well, obviously struggling to regain his breath. "Yeah, although like I said, I'm just sorry it took something like this for us to realize it. Then again, in our lives, it's so easy to rely on the shortcuts and those willing to help us in times of need, that we often lose sight of what's really important." He gently turned her head back to face him. "I guess we owe Rostov and Alexei our thanks, huh?"
Amanda caught the smile in his eyes before it reached his lips. "And Mr. Melrose and Francine."
"Yeah, they stuck by us throughout, even when the entire Agency and our own government was turned against us." He shook his head, seemingly in amazement at their unfailing trust.
"It's nice to have friends that loyal." She grinned. "Remind me to get a box of gourmet chocolates for Francine!"
Lee laughed at that remark and pulled her into his warm embrace.
"Amanda!" Dotty called from the back door, and Amanda immediately pulled away from Lee, but left her hands at his waist. "Are you still trying to catch that dog?"
Amanda started to reply, but stopped when Lee's finger touched her lips. She looked at him and saw him shake his head, silently telling her to stay quiet.
"Grandma, is Mom out there?" she heard Jamie's voice.
"Well, she was, but she must have caught the Ferguson's dog and took him back home. Come on, let's go back inside, and I'll see what I can do to help you with your homework."
Amanda heard the door close once more and watched the smile form on Lee's lips. He leaned forward and placed a quick kiss on her nose, then pulled away.
She sighed and smiled. "What's the matter? Didn't want to share me with my family?"
"Not at the moment, no."
"Mmm, well I'm glad you didn't." She slid her hands from his waist up his chest and over the tops of his shoulders to lock behind his head. "We don't get nearly enough time together."
"You certainly won't hear any arguments from me!"
Unable to resist, she closed the distance between them and pressed her lips to his. Almost immediately, he responded. This time, the kiss was slow and thorough. The result mirrored the anticipation of being on a rollercoaster just as the car crests the top of that first hill. At any moment, she would plunge into the depths of passion and cross over that summit.
Lee pulled back and broke their contact with obvious reluctance. Amanda slowly opened her eyes and did her best to recover her breathing. When her eyes met his, she realized that she wasn't the only one feeling the effects of the kiss.
"I ... uh ... think maybe you'd better see what kind of help Jamie needs on his homework ... before I ... uh ... forget myself." He cleared his throat and leaned his forehead against hers.
"We will work this out."
"I know." He sighed. "Just takes time."
"After the time we've wasted admitting our feelings, I think I can handle it a little longer before we can go public," she teased.
He shook his head and grinned. "Ohh, you!"
She smiled and gave him a quick peck, then stepped down from the gazebo. "Goodnight, Lee."
"Goodnight, Amanda," he called. "I love you."
She glanced over her shoulder at him. "Right back at you!" She winked, then headed for the back door of her house. There was so much occupying her mind right now, she felt she was going to burst with the reality of it all. They had outsmarted the KGB and successfully closed the book on the Stemwinder case, and had finally confessed their mutual love for each other.
She stepped inside and looked to the living room to see her mother sitting with Jamie and working on his homework. When her gaze fell on Philip sitting in the chair doing his, she thought about Lee outside. She had her family, was now going to be promoted to a full-time agent working with Lee, had earned the trust and respect of everyone at the Agency with the resolution of the Stemwinder case, and had the man she loved also in love with her.
There was still a lot she and Lee had to discuss, but when she thought about everything in her life that had led to this point, there wasn't a single thing she would take back. They had both come a long way in their relationship. Each and every day they had to spend together, she was thankful. He had helped her become more sure of herself in many areas and given her the strength to realize that she could love again.
She had watched Lee grow from an uncertain and withdrawn bachelor who lived his life on the edge of excitement and danger, to a man full of purpose and direction and a zest for life. The evidence that his old scars were beginning to heal was clearly visible. She intended to be right beside him every step of the way as he continued to heal the past hurts and bring closure to the pain he kept buried deep in side. They were a very unlikely pair, but their differences is what made their relationship work. They believed in the same things, which made it easy for them to focus on what was important in life. It gave them a firm foundation on which to build their future.
Unable to resist, she glanced out the window of the back door and saw Lee standing just outside the gazebo, leaning against the lattice work of the doorway. As if he sensed her gaze, he turned, and their eyes met. The connection quickly crossed the many feet which separated them and linked their hearts and souls together in a way that nothing else could. He smiled, then lifted his fingers to his lips to blow her a kiss. Going through the motions of catching it and touching it to her lips, she kissed her own fingers and blew one back at him, then waved her fingers to say goodnight.
After several more moments, he finally broke their gaze and turned to leave. Her eyes remained on his retreating back until he disappeared into the shadows of the night. It wasn't easy saying goodbye, but she knew tomorrow would begin their new adventure, truly working together as full partners, in every sense of the word. Partners in work, partners in friendship, and partners in love. Shifting her gaze from the backyard once more to her living room and watching her family, she realized that life couldn't get any better.