Screen Captures Courtesy of Swoopes
For personal use and select distribution only © May 2002 by Amber Stockton
The Eyes Have It - tagalogue(aka: Prescription: Amanda)
Written by Lynne Kelsey (excerpts from the episode belong to her)
Five days alone with Lee Stetson.
That thought should make her smile. Instead, the effect was just the opposite. Amanda actually felt a flutter of apprehension settle in her stomach. She also felt a tremor of anticipation. It was all so confusing. Nothing could have prepared her for this. Sure, she knew how she felt, and she was fairly certain she knew how Lee felt. But this was different. Much like the dinner they had after the TransOceanic case, this was time together that wasn't in the least bit connected to the Agency or an assigment ... unless being temporarily promoted and assigned to Lee by Mr. Melrose counted. Which to her it didn't.
These five days were certainly going to be the ultimate test of their relationship. Although Lee protested at first, she could see the teasing gleam and interest in his eyes as he gazed at her. He was looking forward to this every bit as much as she was, despite the nagging little doubt that tried to weasle its way into her thoughts. There really was no reason for it. Lee was the best friend she had, and their relationship had certainly progressed quite a bit in recent months. They were both completely comfortable with each other and worked well together. She'd felt for some time that Lee had a lot on his mind where she was concerned. Perhaps this time together would help them both sort out the confusion that surrounded them and allow them to reach some encouraging conclusions. If nothing else, it was sure to be an interesting experience.
Amanda smiled just as the elevator doors opened. "Hmm." She stepped into the elevator and tightened her hold on Lee's hand as she gently tugged him in after her. "All right, Mr. Smoothie, don't think a little sweet talk is going to get you out of this assignment."
They straightened the coats on the bar, then Lee turned to her with a grin. "Aww, shucks."
She had a hard time concealing her own grin. This temporary promotion was something she was going to enjoy, especially since it allowed her to outrank Lee. That was something to most likely never happen again. "Now, we're going to take my car back to your apartment where I'm going to make certain that you lie down and rest."
"Your car? But, why not take both cars, and you can follow me to my place?"
"Because you should be resting, not driving!" Her resolve to remain firm was slipping, so she spoke like she was giving instructions to her boys. "Besides, if I follow you, you'll have your car there and can slip out whenever you like. This way, I can make sure you stay put! Mr. Melrose and Dr. Scardelli have ordered that you get five days of bedrest and relaxation. I intend to make sure you do."
Lee sighed. "Amanda King, the drill sergeant."
"You haven't seen anything yet!" As soon as the elevator reached the ground level, Amanda turned the knob and opened the door, then stepped out. "Follow me, please."
"Amanda...." He drew out her name the way he always did when he was frustrated with her.
Without a backward glance, she walked toward the front door, stopping to drop off her pass to Mrs. Marston and waiting for Lee to do the same. As they stepped out the front door and headed for the parking lot where she had parked her car, she turned her head away from him to smile. This assignment was definitely going to be a lot of fun.
* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *
Once she and Lee entered his apartment almost an hour later, Amanda closed the door and turned to him. She set down the bag of groceries on the floor. "Here, let me help you with your coat." She stepped behind him and slipped the jacket from his shoulders, then helped him remove it from his arms before she hung it on the coat tree. "All right, Scarecrow, let's go! To the couch!"
Amanda placed her hand on his back and gave him a gentle but forceful nudge. She heard him release a sigh for what seemed like the hundredth time since they left the Agency, but she knew he was reacting more to the situation that was putting him on bedrest than to her orders. He preceded her to the couch and sank into the cushions. She stepped to one end and shifted one of the throw pillows against the arm.
"Now, lie back and relax." Bending to place her hands on his shoulders, she applied light pressure and tried to turn him to recline. The look in his eyes was one of exasperation, but it quickly changed to compliance as he shifted to find a comfortable position.
"Do you mind if I use your phone? I want to call Mother so she doesn't worry."
His eyes were half-closed when he replied. "Didn't Billy already tell her where you were?"
"Yes, but that was three days ago, and that was when I was waiting at the hospital for word on your condition." She adjusted the pillow under Lee's head. "I've been home since then, and she'll be expecting me home again tonight. I just wanted to tell her that I'll be a little late."
"Go ahead." His voice was already showing signs of the strain his recent activity had placed upon his body.
"Thanks. I'll only be a minute, and then I'm going to make you some of that homemade chicken soup you said you wanted." She stepped away from the couch and retrieved the bag of groceries by the front door, then headed for the kitchen. Before she disappeared around the wall, she paused and turned back to look at him. "Now, don't you go anywhere!"
She smiled, then entered his kitchen and set the bag of groceries on the counter. One by one, she unpacked the contents of the grocery bag, pulling out the noodles, bouillon cubes, chicken breasts and vegetables. Next, she found a pot to make the broth and pan to cook the chicken. With the temperature set on the oven, she opened the chicken and prepared it for cooking. Then, she filled the pot with water and set it to boil, measuring it precisely to avoid having too much.
Once the oven was ready, she placed the chicken in it to cook, then waited for the water to boil. With a quick pivot, she reached for the phone on the wall and lifted the receiver. After she dialed her number, she waited for her Mother to answer.
"Hi, Jamie. Is your grandma around?"
"Yeah, Mom. I'll get her." He paused. "Are you going to be late again?"
She detected a note of sadness in his voice, so she did her best to sound reassuring. "Yes, sweetheart, but I promise I'll make it up to you very soon."
"All right." Jamie sighed. "I'll get Grandma."
Amanda smiled. It touched her heart to know that he and Philip missed her so much and didn't mind telling her how they felt. At least they weren't embarrassed about it, like a lot of other boys their age. It wasn't easy, being both a mother and a father to them, but at least Joe was back in the States and could be more involved in their lives.
She heard Dotty pick up the phone. "Hello, Mother."
"Amanda, is everything all right?"
"Yes, Mother. I'm just helping a friend."
"Is this the same one who was in the hospital? Do I know this friend?"
"Yes, Mother." Amanda replied to both questions.
"Well, who is she?"
Amanda sighed and had to think fast for a way to get out of this one. There was no way she was going to tell her mother that the friend was a male friend. That would set off a thousand questions and suspicions in her mother's mind, and that was something she wasn't prepared to face at the moment.
"Mother, can we not have an episode of twenty questions? Could we just talk about the boys and make sure they have their dinner, do their homework and get to bed on time?"
"All right, Amanda, but you know I don't like it when you're hiding something."
"Mother, I'm not hiding anything. I just don't want to spend a lot of time on the phone, when there are several other things I need to be doing right now." She didn't like lying to her mother, but it certainly beat the alternative, at least for the time being.
"If you say so." Dotty sighed. "Don't worry, I'll make sure the boys get a good dinner and finish their homework before they go to bed."
"Thank you, Mother."
"Will I see you later?"
"Yes, I'll be home later tonight. I promise. Give the boys a kiss for me and tell them I love them."
"I will. Goodnight, dear."
"Goodnight, Mother." Just as she pulled the receiver away from her ear, she heard Philip in the background shout about getting to stay up late tonight, and she shook her head. At least they were safe and would be getting a good meal tonight. If she didn't have her mother, she didn't know what she would do.
After the phone was on the hook again, she turned back around and focused her attention on the preparations for the soup. When the water reached the boiling point, she dumped in the bouillon cubes and stirred them as they dissolved, their flavor creating a rich aroma.
"Amanda, I don't know what you're doing in there, but it smells wonderful!" Lee called from the other room.
"You're supposed to be resting!"
"I was, but the aroma woke me up."
"Well, it'll be ready in a little bit, so just continue to relax."
She didn't hear a reply, so she snapped a piece of celery from the stalk and removed a carrot from the bunch. In short order, she had the carrot peeled and began to dice it along with the celery on a cutting board, dumping them into the pot as soon as they were ready. Next, she added the noodles and checked the chicken. Once it was ready, she pulled it from the oven and transferred the chicken to a plate where she could cut it into small pieces.
When that was finished, she turned her attention back to the pot. The noodles were almost done, and enough of the water had boiled away to create just the right consistency. After she dumped the chicken pieces into the pot, she stirred everything together and let it continue to cook on the stove while she opened the oven again to lightly toast the bread that would go with the soup. Finally, everything was ready, and she retrieved two bowls from the cabinet, as well as two spoons and napkins.
"Lee? Do you have a tray or something I can use to bring this out there?"
"Look beside the fridge on the floor!"
Amanda did as he instructed and found the serving tray. She set it on the counter, dished out two bowls of soup and set them on the tray, followed by the spoons and napkins. Next, she turned off the oven, pulled the bread out and sliced a few pieces from the loaf, adding them to the tray. Before she went back out to the living room, she covered the soup and let it simmer, then placed the loaf back in the oven to keep it warm.
The tray carefully balanced, she rejoined Lee in the other room and bent a little to place the tray on the coffee table. Lee shifted to an upright position and made room for Amanda to sit down.
"Wouldn't this be better eaten at the table?"
"Yes, but I thought we'd be more comfortable on the couch." She sat on the edge of one cushion as she lifted a bowl from the tray. "Here you go! I promise. No hidden pills or sleeping aids dissolved in the broth." She grinned and he smiled. "Be careful, it's a little hot on the bottom."
"I've got the perfect solution for that." He held the bowl in one hand as he reached for one of the throw pillows with the other. She watched him set it on his lap, then set the bowl on top of it. "See?" He sent her a proud grin.
"Not bad!" Amanda smiled and did the same. "Oh, and we have bread as well."
"Great!" He sniffed appreciatively before dipping his spoon into his soup, blowing a little on it before he took a tentative sip. Amanda watched his reaction as the hot broth touched his tongue and almost laughed. "Mmmm, Amanda, you have outdone yourself! This is delicious!"
"It's not exactly a special recipe, but it's the way my mother and her mother always made it. I realize you're not exactly sick, but it's a wonderful source of nourishment, and it has to be better than that hospital food they gave you."
He chuckled. "You're not kidding! Don't get me wrong. The NEST team is great to us agents, but it's still a hospital, and that means hospital food."
She grinned and lifted her spoon to her lips. "And you and I both know how much you hate hospitals!"
"That's certainly no secret!" He swallowed. "Speaking of which, with you and your charming bedside manner, where's your bluebell outfit? I thought you'd be wearing that for this assignment."
"Oh, well we're not in a hospital, so I didn't think it was necessary."
"That's a shame. You looked kind of cute in it."
"And I think all this strain from your injury and the grueling schedule you've kept the past twenty-four hours has affected your brain. You're starting to sound silly." He smiled and put another spoonful of soup in his mouth. "You know, I didn't tell you earlier, but I really am honored to be a member of the Barnstorm list. I know you consider everyone on that list a part of your special family, and it means a lot to me that you think of me with the same regard."
"How could I not? You've done more for me than they have, and I know without a doubt that I can trust you to be there when I need you. I'm just sorry I didn't include you sooner."
"Aww, Lee, that's really nice of you. Thank you."
He grinned. "Pleasure's all mine."
"Not exactly!" She teased him with an answering smile.
They finished the rest of their soup and bread in comfortable silence. Amanda stood to take the tray with their dishes back into the kitchen. "Would you like any more?"
"No, that was plenty!"
After setting the dishes in the sink and running water over them, she turned off the oven and the burner on the stove, then transferred the soup to the refrigerator and pulled out the bread to wrap in a towel on the counter. Once everything was put away and the kitchen back in order, she returned to the living room and walked over to the stereo to put on some light jazz.
"Now, I think you should get some more rest." She spoke in her authoritative, yet motherly tone as she came back to perch on the edge of the couch.
He groaned in protest. "Amanda! It's only seven-thirty, and if I even try to go to sleep right now, I'll be up in the middle of the night. I don't care how much my body needs the rest, I can tell you right now that sleeping isn't an option."
"You know, for a thirty-six-year-old man, you certainly complain like a little boy!"
"Oh, checking into my medical charts, are we?"
"Well, I was placed in charge of your care for five days. I have to know what sort of prescription you were given." She paused. "Now, are you going to lay down, or am I going to have to get forceful?"
Lee looked at her and appeared to consider the result of her getting forceful, and for a moment, her breath caught in her throat. What would she do if he took her up on her threat? Thankfully, he changed his mind, obviously realizing how futile it was to argue with her. She smiled when she realized he was learning when it wasn't wise to cross her.
"All right, all right, you don't have to tell me twice!"
He muttered under his breath, then reached for the pillow he had been using before and shifted to lay down, only this time, he put his head at the other end of the couch and reclined behind her. She turned around so she was facing him once again and raised her eyebrows in question.
He smiled. "I like to sleep on my left side."
Shaking her head and rolling her eyes, she rested one hand on the back of the couch and reached out the other to lovingly brush back a lock of his hair. "As long as you get some rest, I don't care which side you sleep on."
"Yes, ma'am!" Sarcasm dripped from his words. "You know, you really would make a good drill sergeant."
"I'm a mother!" She shrugged. "It's my job."
He reached up one hand up and caught hers, then pulled the other one down from his forehead and clasped it in his. "A job that you do very well." His voice was soft and floated over her. "I can see why your boys are so well-mannered and love you so much."
"Well, I was all they had for a lot of years, so I didn't have much of a choice but to make sure they had what they needed. Being a mother is hard enough, but being a single mother is even harder."
His thumbs stroked the backs of her hands, and his eyes softened, taking on an almost tender, yet melancholy look. "Reminds me of how hard my own mother worked, taking care of me while Dad was working."
"Well, I'm sure she loved you very much."
"Yeah." He sighed. "I just wish I had gotten more time with them."
"Hey," she whispered. "We don't need you getting down and melancholy, so why don't you relax and enjoy the music?"
"You're right, Amanda." He closed his eyes, his hands still firmly clasping hers and resting on his chest.
As she watched him lay there, she couldn't help but reflect on the past three days and all that had happened. The emotional rollercoaster she'd been riding had taken her to such heights, then sent her plunging to such depths, she was amazed she wasn't more exhausted than she was. It was stressful enough to realize just how far Lee would push himself in his work and how easily he put his own body's needs asides for the safety of others. Although it touched her deeply to know that he counted her among those he would give his life to save, just like she had seen him do when Brodie had aimed his gun at her in the hallway of the hospital, she knew how dangerous it was for him to not take care of himself.
In a way, she felt that was the reason she was so drawn to him, and why she continued to stand by him to make sure he didn't push himself too far, regardless of his protests, no matter how flimsy they were at times. Her mind told her there was a lot more to it than that, but she wasn't sure she was ready to admit it. Countless times, she had chided him for his inability to admit when he needed help or how he was really feeling, and here she was, doing the exact thing. In truth, she needed him just as much as she felt he needed her. They had been thrown together for a reason, and in recent weeks, she had begun to understand a lot about their relationship, especially her own feelings concerning it.
Her gaze slowly perused every feature of his face, drifting from his hairline to the gripping hazel eyes that were now closed, across his cheekbones and down to his strong jaw that would either soften with dimples or tense in anger and impatience. Finally, she came to his mouth, a mouth that could stretch into a smile or purse in displeasure, a mouth that she knew was tantalizingly soft and could stir emotions in her that had long been dormant.
Startled by the shift in her thoughts, she almost withdrew her hands from his and stood to distance herself from him, but something kept her there. Just like when she had forced him to get some sleep yesterday, she was reluctant to leave, wanting to sit with him and make sure he was all right. For some reason, she didn't want to let go just yet. Part of it, she reasoned, was added reassurance that he was safe. After the gamut of emotions she had experienced as she had watched him die on that operating table, she needed the physical touch and closeness to set her mind at ease. Although it was all staged to set the trap for Brodie, the feelings she had felt were very real, and she had no desire to go through that again. In fact, those feelings were the other part of why she was so reluctant to leave, only she wasn't ready to admit what they all meant ... not just yet.
Amanda listened to Lee's breathing, slow and steady, and released a sigh of relief that he had finally relaxed enough to get some sleep. She withdrew her right hand from his grasp and reached up to lightly touch the bruise that was still evident on his forehead, then impulsively leaned forward to tenderly touch her lips where her fingers had just been. When she pulled back, she glanced down to see a grin on Lee's lips that hadn't been there a moment ago, and her heartbeat picked up its pace.
"You missed a spot."
His voice drifted over her like a soothing balm, but also caused a shiver to travel straight down her spine. His grin widened when she couldn't contain the physical reaction, and she felt his right hand gently squeeze hers.
Summoning every bit of strength she had, she managed to croak out, "Oh?"
He lifted his left hand to touch his cheek. "Right here."
She grinned, although his eyes were still closed, then lightly touched his cheek. "Here?"
She leaned forward and once again placed her lips where her fingers had been, then pulled away.
He touched his other cheek. "And here."
She complied, enjoying this little game, then leaned back. This time, he opened his eyes a little and pinned her with the intensity of his stare.
"And right here." His voice was a husky timbre, flowing past his finger that tapped his lips.
The look in his eyes was one of tenderness, mixed with an obvious challenge. It was as if he was silently daring her to take him up on it. For a brief moment, she hesitated, wondering if she should. Inner desire won over reason and she slowly leaned forward once more, pausing just before she touched her lips to his and gazing down into his eyes. The twinkle she caught in them was enough to encourage her to continue, and she finally closed the hair's breadth between their mouths as she settled her lips against his, closing her eyes and relishing the feelings that washed over her at their contact.
Her mouth lingered on his, and he responded a little. A moment later, she opened her eyes and pulled back. Once again, their gazes met. Unable to say anything for fear that her feelings would betray her, she remained silent. Instead, she reached out and tenderly traced a line from the bruise on his forehead, down his cheek and finally to his chin, where she pulled away to rest her hand on his chest.
He took her hand in his again and smiled. "Much better. Now I can sleep."
Swallowing a couple of times, she took a deep, calming breath and smiled in return. "Good. I should be going, anyway. You need to get some sleep and allow your body to mend, and I need to get home to put the boys in bed. Mother said she would handle it, but if I can be there, I'd like to be. I don't like to miss saying goodnight to them, and I always feel bad when I'm not there, so--"
His tone pointed out to her that she was rambling again. It always happened when she was nervous, and being this close to Lee certainly set her nerves on end. She glanced down. "I'm sorry, Lee."
"Don't be." The soft tone of his voice compelled her to raise her head. "You're right. You should be home with your boys." He paused and gave her hands a little squeeze, his gaze turning serious. "Thank you."
Those two words might not mean much to someone else, but to her, they meant everything in the world. Amanda knew what he meant. He didn't have to say it. It was in his eyes, his touch, and even his smile.
"You're more than welcome." She slowly stood. "Are you sure you wouldn't be more comfortable in your bed?"
"I'll get there. I promise. I'm going to enjoy the music a little longer before catching some shuteye. You go on home, and don't worry about me. I promise to follow orders."
She grinned and squeezed his hands. "I'll see you tomorrow." She paused, then whispered. "Goodnight, Lee."
She reluctantly removed her hands from his grasp, gave him one small smile, stepped around the couch and walked toward the door. Lifting her purse from the hook, she hung it on her shoulder and prepared to leave. "I'll lock the door behind me!"
With one final glance into the apartment, she pulled the door closed behind her and rested her hand on the cool surface. One day down and four to go. This was one assignment she knew she was going to enjoy, if only she could successfully keep her feelings to herself. That was going to be the hardest thing about spending so much time alone with him. He didn't make it very easy, and at times, she wondered about the looks she caught in his eyes in the brief seconds before he concealed them. If what she thought she was seeing was really what she was seeing, she might not be the only one who was struggling.
That thought alone put an extra bounce to her step and a smile on her face as she pressed the elevator button. Yes, this was certainly going to be an enjoyable assignment, and one she felt would reveal quite a lot.