|A Question of Timing
Author: Mary PM
A slightly alternate version of the episode "Bad Timing"Rated: Fiction T - English - Chapters: 7 - Words: 21,661 - Reviews: 30 - Favs: 14 - Follows: 1 - Updated: 01-29-01 - Published: 04-20-00 - id: 20439
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
*DISCLAIMER** Scarecrow & Mrs. King is copyrighted to Warner Brothers and Shoot The Moon Production Company. The original portions of this story, however, are copyrighted to the author. This story is for entertainment purposes only and cannot be redistributed without the permission of the author. Situations and some dialogue have been used from the episode "Bad Timing", written by Robert W. Gilmer. No infringement of copyright is intended.
Summary: This is a slightly alternate version of the fourth season episode "Bad Timing". This story is set at the end of January, 1987.
A Question of Timing
Amanda listened to the melodic sound of Lee's voice in the darkened restaurant. He had been recounting one of his crazy anecdotes for the past fifteen minutes, an elaborate mixture of half-truth, half-invention. His face become more and more animated as he embellished the tale, something about a band of Bedouin pirates and the local slave-trading bazaar.
"Is this the truth?" Amanda interjected, barely able to mask the disbelief in her voice.
"'Is this the truth?'" he parried.
"My word of honor…I swear." He laughed softly at her expression, continuing the story with a twinkle in his eye. "Listen to this…"
Amanda smiled as she watched him. They were sitting side by side in the booth, the dim light from the candle on the table creating an intimate mood. The soft, romantic music playing in the background coupled with the scent of Lee's aftershave made it increasingly difficult for Amanda to concentrate on what her fiancé was saying. His nearness was almost overpowering. The proximity of his leg, a mere inch from her own, caused his words to float over her, 'in one ear and out the other'.
"You're not buying any of this, are you?" Lee asked, suddenly aware that her attention had wandered.
"Not very much of it, no."
"All right, all right…enough of my convoluted stories." He exhaled deeply as he carefully studied her face. She looked so beautiful tonight, the muted candlelight making her seem almost ethereal. He hesitated for a moment, carefully considering his next words.
"What d'ya say we go back to my place and have some…dessert?"
His fingers toyed absently with the diamond she wore tonight on the third finger of her left hand, a symbol of their commitment that was rarely displayed. Sometimes he wished he could tell everyone how he really felt about his 'partner', how much he loved her and how important she'd become in the few short months since their engagement. But he knew it wasn't the right time for that. Someday he would shout it to the entire world; but for now, he'd have to be satisfied with whispering it to the woman he loved. He raised his eyes to hers as he caught the last part of her sentence.
"…and we have to be at work early."
"I know, I know," he responded quietly. Masking his frustration, he gave her hand a comforting squeeze.
"What are we gonna do?" Amanda asked sorrowfully, leaning against him for the briefest of seconds.
"Same thing we always do. Go home alone…" he carefully extricated his hand from hers, adding tersely under his breath, "…again."
He didn't want to push things. He respected Amanda's desire not to make love until they were married. But as he sat in this booth looking into her eyes, Lee found it was getting harder and harder to wait. He placed a tentative hand on her knee, moving it slowly and sensually up and down her thigh.
Amanda sighed as her body responded to his touch. She heard the implicit question in his seemingly innocuous words. Yes, that is what they always did. At the end of the evening, they always headed home, alone, to their separate houses and their separate beds.
In November, after the incident with Lee's friend Kai, they had reluctantly agreed they would have to keep their marriage a secret for her family's sake. Since then, they had been too preoccupied with work to make any concrete wedding plans. Amanda suspected Lee was giving her some space. He was still a stranger to her family. She knew he realized that it would take some time for them to adjust to his place in her life.
Still, knowing that didn't make it easier to deal with. There were times when she suspected Lee still felt like an outsider in her life. A month ago she'd practically had to drag him to her house on Christmas Eve. The thought of an evening with her family still made him kind of edgy. But she hoped things would improve as they all got to know each other better.
She looked up abruptly and caught Lee watching her. There was an elusive 'something' in his eyes tonight. It was a fleeting look, gone almost as suddenly as it appeared, like quicksilver. She knew without a doubt what he was thinking.
Resting her hand on his, she returned his reassuring smile. She knew he understood her feelings, knew that he would never pressure her. She vainly tried to remember why it had once been so important to wait. The reasons that at one time seemed so compelling melted away one by one in the warmth of Lee's eyes. Those wonderful eyes were what had first drawn her to him so long ago at the crowded train station. They could convey with one look all the feelings he kept locked inside. The corners of her mouth turned up in a hesitant smile as she watched him in the romantic candlelight. At this moment the only thing she understood with any certainty was how much she loved him and how right everything suddenly felt.
Resting her head on his shoulder, she leaned into him for a moment, her hand tightly gripping his. "Lee," she said, her voice little more than a whisper as her eyes met his. "I've changed my mind. I think tonight I'd like some dessert after all."
* * * * *
Lee cast an anxious glance at Amanda out of the corner of his eye. She had been uncharacteristically quiet since they left L'Ornate. Sitting beside her in the front seat of the Wagoneer as she quickly covered the short distance from the restaurant to his building, Lee tried to guess what was going through her mind.
Her statement in the restaurant had taken him by surprise. They had been dancing around the issue of their physical relationship ever since the Stemwinder incident last fall, when they had both finally admitted the depth of the feelings for each other.
It seemed to him that it all boiled down to a question of timing…most of it incredibly bad. Even though they had shared a bed while they were on the run, they both implicitly understood that this was not the time to take their relationship to the next level. Trying to deal with the Agency and Alexi Makarov took all their energy and concentration. And Lee knew that Amanda was deeply worried about her mother and her sons. Everything had happened so fast. In the days following their rushed words in her bedroom, he feared she might be regretting her impulsive decision to go with him. But her logic had been right on – if she had stayed, she would undoubtedly have ended up in an Agency holding cell. Dr. Smyth would have seen to it personally.
Lee had thought things would fall into place naturally after the dust settled from the Stemwinder mess, but their lives had grown even more complicated. Then, Amanda began working full time and she was so caught up in her agent candidate classes that their time together seemed very limited. He knew Dr. Smyth's job offer had been an important milestone for her professionally, almost a validation of her efforts for the past three years. He was more than willing to take a back seat to her newfound career for a little while.
Then came the Addi Birol case. It had proved a powerful catalyst for both of them. Lee had always intended to discuss the future with Amanda, but he had never envisioned proposing the way he did, in such grim surroundings. And certainly not with Birol's threats hanging over their heads like a sword, ready to drop at any moment. But from the instant he'd laid eyes on her after his disastrous rescue attempt, he knew he couldn't waste another second. Suddenly, that small dismal room seemed like the perfect time and place to pop the question.
And after her kidnapping and their subsequent engagement, Amanda seemed more than ready to take their physical relationship to the next level. After a lengthy discussion, they decided to let 'nature take its course' on their romantic weekend getaway to Pine Top. Unfortunately for both of them, nature had other ideas. Amanda, still not fully recovered from the aftereffects of her kidnapping, came down with a bad cold the first night there. Once again, the timing just didn't seem right for either of them. Even the weather refused to cooperate that weekend, Lee thought with a grin, the skiing the worst it had been in five years.
But those days at the secluded resort weren't a total loss. Alone and completely relaxed for the first time in a long while, they spent their time talking, getting to know each other all over again as they held each other close. Snuggling before the fire, they happily made plans for their future.
Amanda whispered that maybe fate was trying to tell them something that weekend…that maybe they should wait for their wedding night to be together completely. Lee had wholeheartedly agreed with her decision. He could see how important this was to her and he was happy to follow her lead. And for the first time, he found that he didn't need to sleep with a woman to let her know how he felt. Their relationship encompassed so much more than just the physical aspects. Even without making love, he had never felt closer to anyone than he did to Amanda.
But as the days went by, their wedding seemed more like a distant promise than a reality. Their plans changed, the ceremony they had originally envisioned turning into a secret elopement to protect her family. From that point, on more than one occasion, Lee found himself regretting their choice to wait. In their business, life was too short and time too precious to dismiss what little opportunity they had to be together.
He'd dropped a few discrete hints, trying to see if Amanda felt the same way. But after she turned down his invitation to spend the weekend at his friend Crump's cabin, he had steeled himself to wait until she was ready. Since she hadn't responded to any of his attempts discuss their sexual relationship, he surmised that the timing wasn't right for her yet. He wanted everything to be perfect. In the final analysis, this step was just too important to both of them to rush it.
Lost in these thoughts, Lee suddenly found himself standing in front of his apartment, Amanda's hand resting lightly on his arm. He wondered for a minute how he had gotten here. Then the comforting pressure of her touch roused him from his reverie. Smiling tentatively, he unlocked the door, stepping aside to allow her to enter.
Flipping on the light switch, he took a quick look around the room. "Ah, sorry about the mess." Smiling sheepishly, he grabbed the scattered newspapers from the sofa and tossed them hastily onto the coffee table. "I meant to take care of that earlier."
"That's okay," Amanda grinned, a little amused by his embarrassment. Lee looked as nervous as she felt. Sitting beside him in the intimate atmosphere of the restaurant, everything had seemed so clear. But here in Lee's apartment, she suddenly didn't know how to behave or exactly what he expected of her.
"Here, let me take your coat."
She smiled at him as he helped her off with her coat, then watched as he removed his own, hanging them both in the hall closet.
"Would you…ah…like something to drink?" Lee asked solicitously.
"No, thanks," she replied in kind. "I'm fine."
Lee stood awkwardly by the hallway as Amanda sat down on the couch. He watched hesitantly as she settled back against the cushions, a little puzzled by his uncertainty. In the past, in moments like these, he instinctively knew all the right moves, his line practiced and smooth. But suddenly nothing in his usual repertoire seemed appropriate.
When it came right down to it, Lee had to admit that he was more than a little apprehensive about the step they were about take. In the past, his sexual relationships were usually transitory, fleeting moments of physical passion that never touched him emotionally. Life was simpler for him that way. The less he cared, the easier it was when it ended.
Things were very different with Amanda. Exactly when she had slipped under his skin, he couldn't completely say. He only knew that she was now firmly entrenched in his heart and in his soul.
Of course, he could have totally misjudged the situation. Maybe all Amanda was really anticipating from him tonight was a piece of that cake she had baked for him the other day. He considered that idea, then quickly dismissed it. It may have been a while last his last romantic encounter, but it hadn't been so long that he'd forgotten how to read a woman's signals. Besides, he recognized the look in her eyes. He'd seen it recently during some of their more heated 'discussions'.
"I've got a great bottle of wine that will just hit the spot," he offered again with a smile. "It'll just take a minute to get it." As he headed towards the bar, her voice called him back.
"Yeah?" He swung around towards her expectantly, a funny half-smile on his face.
"I'm really not thirsty." She looked up and met his gaze, her lips curving up in a sultry smile as she patted the space next to her on the couch. "Why don't you come over here? "
Amanda watched him closely as he nodded in response, casually discarding his suit jacket and loosening his tie as he crossed the room to join her. She found his uncharacteristically bashful behavior oddly reassuring. It was comforting to know that the notorious Lee Stetson, that suave ladies' man, could be as uncertain and vulnerable as anyone else.
She leaned towards him as he settled in beside her, laying her head on his shoulder with a sigh. She felt his arm come around her, instinctively pulling her closer. His lips lightly brushed against her forehead as he softly breathed her name.
"Yes?" she whispered, lifting her face to look up at him, his unspoken question hanging in the air.
He leaned in towards her, his lips barely touching hers as he tenderly kissed her. Her contented sigh encouraged him and his lips covered hers again, kissing her more deeply this time. The intensity of their feelings caught them both a little off-guard. As the embrace ended, Lee pulled back slightly, gently cupping her face with his hands as he looked lovingly into her eyes. "Amanda, are you sure? I don't want to…I mean, if you're not ready…"
"I'm sure," she whispered, touched by his concern.
"But you seemed so certain before, about waiting for the wedding…"
"A girl can change her mind, can't she?" she teased, trying to lighten the mood. "Are you telling me you've changed yours?"
"No," he asserted quickly, reaching for her hand and bringing it gallantly to his lips. "I'm sorry if I'm handling this badly," he murmured, lightly kissing each of her fingers. "I guess… I didn't really expect…to be here with you…like this."
"Come on, Scarecrow," she returned playfully, "I thought you were trained to expect the unexpected?" Her eyes twinkled mischievously as she continued, "of course, if you don't want me to stay, I suppose I could always go home and get a good night's sleep." As she started to get up, she felt his strong arms close around her, pulling her back down on the couch.
"Not on your life," he grinned, beginning to relax as he drew her closer. "It's just that this kinda seemed like a spur of the moment decision…one I wouldn't want you to regret later." His voice grew serious as he leaned closer to whisper in her ear. "This means too much to me."
"It means too much to me, too," Amanda said, pulling back a little to look him in the eye. "That's why I've wanted to wait. But Lee," she added, running a caressing hand over his cheek, "I wouldn't be here if I didn't want this…need this. It just seems so right tonight."
Smiling back at her, he stood up slowly, his eyes locked on hers in perfect understanding. "Then shall we?" He slowly extended his hand, glancing over his shoulder as he reached out to her.
Amanda nodded as she grasped his outstretched hand. Together, fingers entwined, they walked towards Lee's bedroom.
To be continued…