By: Kate
E-mail: kate4616@your-house.com

Notes: This takes place around late season 5, when Amanda's married to Peter and Kyle's married to Taylor. Peter and Taylor are having an affair as this story takes place. This will be an Amanda and Kyle shipper fic dealing with how they first became attracted to each other, and if you knew me, this wouldn't come as a surprise, as they're my favorite MP couple. : ) Please review, any feedback is welcome!

- - - - - -

Amanda Woodward generally saved business for the office, but today was an exception.

Sporting a navy blue suit and white blouse she was confident she looked stunning in and a briefcase containing the day's work of several of her employees in it, she breezed through the doors of Kyle's Restaurant, taking a seat at the rather deserted bar and placing her purse on it. She didn't actually expect many patrons, Kyle's being a new restaurant, and it being nearly ten o'clock on a Thursday night. She usually left work between six and seven, but the people from Midline Airways, her biggest clients, had been giving her hell about their account.

"Hi, what'll you have?" the man tending the bar asked her, not looking up.

"A minute of your time, if you can spare it," Amanda answered.

Kyle looked up and laughed, realizing the woman sitting there was his landlord, and more importantly at the moment the president of D&D Advertising, the company that was handling his restaurant's ad campaign. "Amanda," he acknowledged her with a smile. "Sure, what's up? Can I get you something, on the house?" he offered.

She wouldn't have been completely adverse to a drink, it had been a slightly more aggravating day than she'd have preferred, but she decided it better to decline. "No thanks. I actually just wanted to show you the layout of your ad that we finished today."

"You came all the way out here to do that?" he asked.

"I was in the neighborhood," she shrugged. It sounded cliché, but it was true. The bank was right down the street.

She reached into her briefcase and retrieved a magazine-sized piece of shiny poster board, displaying the entrance to the restaurant, which was agreed to be the most appealing area to show. The restaurant's name was written in plain font over the picture, and the slogan "Everybody Comes to Kyle's," in a slightly more pristine font, was written underneath it. Details such as the restaurant's address and phone number were at the bottom in small lettering. It wasn't exactly advertising brilliance, but Kyle had insisted on a simplistic approach.

He took it from her and studied it for a few seconds. "Great," he commented, apparently pleased. "I love it. It's just what we talked about."

Amanda was glad he approved, but incase he had problems with it that he wasn't saying out of appreciation for her delivering to him personally, she threw in some extra assurance. "Now, it's just the first draft, so if there's anything you wanted changed you can still let me know."

He thought for a second. "Well, everything looks fine to me," he reiterated. "Tell you what, can you leave this here so I can take it home and run it by Taylor?"

Amanda made a conscious effort not to visibly cringe at the mention of Kyle's wife's name. She never cared for Taylor McBride from the moment she met her. Everything she did seemed to Amanda to have an ulterior motive, one that annoyed her. She also didn't like her interacting with Peter, her husband of nearly a year. She trusted Peter and knew that he wouldn't cheat on her; it was Taylor that she didn't trust. But after all, Taylor was half owner of Kyle's, and she knew going into the deal that she'd have to be involved. "That's fine," she agreed, as the remaining two customers at the bar paid their tabs and left. "Let me know what she thinks, and we can work from there." She knew that Taylor was going to have some opinion, something that wasn't right, something that would need immediate alterations.

"I'll do that," he smiled. "So, do you make it a habit to deliver all your clients' ads personally?"

"Only the ones that offer me free drinks."

He laughed again, and she had to admit to herself that she was enjoying their friendly banter. She sometimes wondered what he was doing being married to Taylor. He was her exact opposite; he struck her as someone who was very genuine in all he said and did. And that was a quality, she knew, that was quite rare. She actually found herself wanting to tell him that he deserved better than Taylor, on several occasions, but she didn't want to make it sound like she was hitting on him, so she refrained.

"So, you sure I can't get you something? I got an open bottle of McBride."

"Sounds tempting," she admitted. "But unfortunately I really have to get going." She wouldn't have minded some wine and conversation, but she and Peter had planned an evening alone that night. Lately, times alone with Peter were few and far between. When she wasn't busy with the office, he was on rounds at the hospital or tending to his ailing practice he shared with Michael. And at the rare times he could be home for an extended period of time, not just to shower and grab some clean clothes, something at D&D always needed Amanda's immediate attention. Being the president of a corporation was not as easy as she made it look, and truthfully, it was beginning to wear her down. She'd never show it outwardly, of course.

"Rain check?" she offered.

"Anytime," he told her.

She picked up her briefcase and headed off.

- - - - - -

Amanda climbed into her car and closed the door behind her, dropping her briefcase on the passenger's seat. Upon starting the car, she glanced at the clock and saw that it read ten twenty eight. "Dammit," she muttered. She had underestimated the time it had taken her to run her errands, and she now had twenty-eight less minutes to spend with her husband than what she'd originally planned. She removed her cell phone from its holding place, originally intended for holding beverages, and dialed the number for her apartment. She at least wanted to let him know that she was on her way home.

After a few seconds of silence, she glanced at the screen. She cursed under her breath again as she remembered the terrible reception that occurred whenever she tried making calls from her car. Vowing that tomorrow was going to be the day she'd buy a new cell phone, she stepped outside the car to attempt her call again.

Amanda idly paced the parking lot as the phone rang once, then twice, then three times. Suddenly she felt someone grab her roughly from behind, and the phone fell from her hand before she heard the forth ring.

A hand was clamped over her mouth. "Don't scream," said the voice behind her, and she felt him raise a knife to her throat. She couldn't defend herself, she couldn't even move. He pushed her down and she landed hard on her back.

Before she had any chance to react, the man was on top of her, straddling her the her waist. Her temporary paralysis gave way to her natural instinct to protect herself. She'd rather be killed than lay there and let him have his way. She tried to fight him, but he was strong, and after forcing her back down, he tore the front of her blouse open, the buttons popping off and scattering.

Just as she was about to give up, to just let it happen, she felt him being pulled off her. She used her arms to pull herself free from his grasp and tried to focus in the darkness to see what was happening. And when she did, she saw Kyle.

The man tried to hit Kyle, but he easily dodged him and landed a solid punch in the man's stomach. He pulled him up by his jacket and hit him twice in the jaw before the man realized he was out of his league and fled. Kyle made a motion to follow him, but instead turned to Amanda.

"Amanda," he called, out of breath. He hooked his arms under hers and pulled her to her feet. "My God, are you okay?"

She tried to answer, but her fall had knocked the wind out of her, and she was having trouble catching her breath. She felt like she was going to faint.

She must have looked like it too, because Kyle sensed it and reached out, grabbing her forearms and steadying her. She was shaking. "Amanda," he said again to get her attention. "Are you alright, did he hurt you?"

She allowed herself a few more gasping breaths before attempting to answer. "No," she finally said, putting her hands on him for support. "No, I'm fine."

But his expression was one of concern, and for a second she was confused when he let her go. She felt slightly embarrassed when he took off his jacket and rapped it around her and over her torn blouse. "C'mon," he said, putting an arm around her shoulders and ushering her towards the restaurant. "Come inside." Amanda followed, not really relishing the damsel in distress role, but grateful he was there regardless.

He led her back inside where she took a seat at one of the tables, wrapping her arms around her body and still trying to regulate her breathing. He knelt down on the floor in front of her. She could tell he was looking her over, and she took another deep breath. "I'm really okay," she told him, more confidence in her voice now.

"Thank God for that," he said, relief in his voice. "That was a close one."

She suddenly realized that in all the chaos, she didn't know why he'd been out there in the first place. "Kyle," she said, now beginning to feel like herself again. "Not to sound ungrateful, but why'd you follow me out there?"

He removed the black bag he had slung over his arm. "You forgot your purse."

She closed eyes and swallowed as she received it from him, realizing how lucky she'd been that night, and how easily things could've gone the other way. "Thanks." They made eye contact for a moment, and she began to feel uncomfortable. She averted her eyes, suddenly feeling too vulnerable for her liking. She wanted to go home and forget this had happened. "Listen, I, um…I really have to get home," she said awkwardly. "Peter's waiting for me, he's probably wondering where I am."

"Okay," he agreed. "Lemme walk you to your car."

She did let him, and after he did so she sat there for a few moments to collect herself before driving home. She paused outside her apartment door when she arrived, smoothing her hair so she didn't look like the wreck that she felt like. She hoped she'd have a chance to change before her husband realized she was wearing a man's jacket, not wanting to explain what had happened. She unlocked her door and went inside.

Peter wasn't home.

- - - - - -

Amanda awoke the next morning to the sight of her sleeping husband next to her. She was tempted to wake him and inquire as to where he'd been the previous night, but she was sure the answer would be "the hospital," and frankly it was easier to wait and deal with it later, so she did. He didn't leave a note anywhere in the house, but then again she didn't expect one. She told herself to be more understanding, that Peter had an all-encompassing job that she knew going into the marriage would be the cause of some tension. But she still couldn't help feeling somewhat bitter, despite the rational voices in her head. At least she didn't have to rehash the ordeal she went through last night, which upon reflection she found even more embarrassing. She liked to think of herself as independent, and relying on others for help only made her feel weak.

But those thoughts left her head when she got to D&D and began her work for the day. As stressful as her job could be, it always provided a sort of therapy for her. Being the president of a company was a good way for Amanda to exercise the power and authority she sometimes needed to get her feet back on the ground. Of course it was sometimes at the expense of her employees, but she always felt that if it bothered them horribly, they could quit, and there'd be plenty more eager interns and execs that would jump at the chance to work at one of the best ad agencies in Los Angeles.

Today was a better day, work-wise, than yesterday had been. She spent a better part of the day doing damage control on the Midline account, working with Billy Campbell to decide the best course to take and contacting their representatives. Billy had only been the number two man at the agency for a year or so, but he'd been a presence in Amanda's life almost since she came to LA. Not only that, but he had a natural instinct when it came to advertising, something that made him a very valued employee.

Amanda estimated that the odds she would find Peter when she arrived home where about one in ten, so she was surprised when she arrived back at 4616 Melrose Place around seven thirty to find him inside their apartment, watching a game on TV.

"Hey stranger," he greeted her with a smile, getting up and giving her a kiss that helped slightly in getting him back into her good graces. "I'm sorry about last night, we were short staffed at the hospital." He waited a beat, presumably to gauge her reaction. "And yes, I'm aware of how tired the excuse is."

"I figured," she said nonchalantly, trying to demonstrate her willingness to let the topic go. "That's why I didn't wait up."

"I'm sorry," he reiterated, wrapping his arms around her waist and pulling her closer to him. "I promise, the next chance I get we'll spend some quality time together. We'll go out, we'll go… dancing, we'll do anything you want."

She smiled. "I miss you," she confided, putting her arms around his neck.

"I miss you too," he said, and planted another kiss on her lips before letting her go. "But right now I'm gonna jump in the shower and then get some sleep, it must've been 18 hours since I've had some shut-eye."

His words stung her, and try as she might she couldn't stop herself from commenting on them.

"That's it?" she asked, her voice suddenly taking on an antagonistic tone that she didn't attempt to conceal. "You haven't seen me for, what, a day? And all I get is a quick 'I'm sorry' before I won't see you again for another day?" She may have sounded irrational, but she was frustrated and didn't care.

Peter immediately took on his typical defensive stance. "Amanda, please," he said dismissively. "I'm exhausted, I just worked an eighteen hour shift, I've had to deal with accidents, surgeries, irritable patients, incompetent doctors…"

"Well I'm sorry that I'm just one more thing you have to deal with," she said angrily, emphasizing the last two words for effect.

"I can't go through this with you right now," he said simply, turning away from her. "I'm taking a shower and I'm going to bed." And with that he headed off to the bathroom and shut the door, leaving Amanda standing there in the living room, confused and angry. She wasn't even sure how a simple conversation escalated into a slinging of hurtful remarks, she just knew that lately it had been happening all too easily. Her apartment suddenly felt restrictive; she needed to get out.

She left and stormed down the stairs, not realizing until she reached the bottom that she didn't even know where she wanted to go. Not knowing what else to do, she sat down on the bottom stair, burying her face in her hands. What had gone wrong? Their relationship had been so perfect. Granted, their wedding was not the wedding that she dreamt of as a little girl, or at least the wedding she would have dreamt of had she not been distracted by wondering where her mother was. But their marriage was one of trust and love; it was everything she could have asked for. So what had gone wrong?

Her thoughts were interrupted by a familiar voice across the courtyard.

"Amanda," she heard Kyle call, and she looked up to see him standing outside his own apartment on the second story. Upon making eye contact with her he started down the stairs. "You okay?"

She felt somewhat silly, just sitting there, and felt the need to offer an explanation. "Yeah, I'm fine," she said as convincingly as she could, forcing a smile and wondering how long he'd been looking at her. But she couldn't think of an excuse for why she was there, so she just stopped talking. He made his way over and sat down next to her.

He seemed like he was waiting for her to say something, so in order to avoid having to explain her situation to him, she thought of another topic of conversation. "I realized I never did thank you," she said, after a short silence. "For what you did for me last night."

"No need," he said casually, shrugging it off as if he'd picked up a pencil she dropped. And to be honest she wasn't brilliantly enjoying the topic herself, so she let it go there. "So," he said. "What are you doing out here?"

She sighed, supposing that she couldn't avoid the question forever. She wasn't a fan of talking about her relationships, or talking seriously about anything for that matter. "It's really nothing," she said, downplaying the situation as much as possible. "Peter and I have just been…" How did you say this to someone you hardly know? "There's been some tension lately."

"Ouch."

"Yeah."

He seemed to think for a moment. "You wanna talk about it?"

She had to laugh a little at how nice he was being to her. It was appreciated, she just didn't understand it. "Not really," she admitted.

"Okay," he accepted. "You need something to take your mind off it?"

"Like what?" she inquired. "A torrid affair?"

He laughed, an honest, genuine laugh. She was surprised by how much she liked to hear it. "I was actually thinking of something a little more innocent than that," he offered, and stood up. "C'mon," he said, and gestured with his hand. Amanda hesitated, still unsure of what he wanted her to do. "C'mon!" he urged her again, and she couldn't resist. She got up from her resting place and followed him.

- - - - - -

Amanda passed the boardwalk several times a week, but never actually considered going there, nor did she ever have a desire to. Carnival games, carousels, it all seemed too frivolous. But leave it to Kyle, she thought, to find places like this. It wasn't all bad; she just hoped she didn't see any of her clients there, which would put a considerable dent in the professional image she strived to attain.

"Taylor and I got married three years ago, and we started the restaurant right after that," Kyle explained as they strolled the boardwalk. "It's a great place. Good food, nice atmosphere, a lot like our restaurant here. A little bigger, probably," he said more to himself than to Amanda. "And it's great here, just… different from Boston."

"What made you decide to move all the way across that country?" she asked. She'd always wanted to know.

"Taylor," he answered simply. "She wanted to start another restaurant, somewhere else, and she… well, we, thought LA was the perfect place."

She eyed him suspiciously. "You moved five thousand miles on Taylor's whim? Sorry Kyle, I'm not buying it."

He smiled at her. "Okay, yeah," he admitted. "It is more than that." She waited for him to continue. "I cheated on Taylor back in Boston."

"You?" she asked incredulously. "You had an affair?" She didn't try to mask her surprise; it seemed so unlike him.

"Yeah. She was a waitress at the restaurant. Taylor found out, and we almost split up because of it. But we worked it out, obviously, and we both decided it was a good idea to start over, that whole clean slate thing," he explained. "Get away from all the bad memories."

"I can relate," Amanda said, but didn't elaborate.

"So, what about you?" he asked, effectively switching the subject. "I bet you're a native Californian."

"Well, I did grow up here, but I've lived in a lot of different places. New York for a few years, Miami…"

"Miami," he commented. "What was there for you? Family, your job?"

She cleared her throat, preparing herself to broach another topic she wasn't comfortable with. "Husband, actually."

He stopped walking, instead turning to face her. "I didn't know you were married before Peter," he said after a moment. "Did you guys get divorced or something, I mean, if you don't mind my asking?"

The truth was, she did mind his asking, but there was no way he could have known what a sensitive subject her first marriage was. Truth be told, the four years she was married to Jack were the worst of her life, and she didn't like to think about them, much less talk about them. She certainly wasn't going to recount the whole story; she considered the day she left Jack to be the first day of her new life, the day she became who she was now, and anything before that she preferred to think of as insignificant. She took a seat on a nearby bench facing towards the ocean and away from the unnecessarily bright carnival lights. Kyle followed, taking a seat next to her.

"Or something," she finally answered.

"Fair enough," he agreed, looking out at the ocean. "You don't like talking about yourself, do you?"

"Not really," she answered, somewhat surprised by his insight.

He leaned back against the bench. "You're a very complicated woman, Amanda," he commented. She wasn't really sure how to respond; "thank you" didn't seem appropriate. No one had ever said anything like that to her before. So instead of responding, she opted for a few moments of silence and watching the waves break against the shore.

- - - - -

The courtyard that night was quiet, deceptively so. You'd almost think it was a peaceful, tranquil place to live, Amanda thought as they arrived back. She really had no desire to go back to her apartment, but what other options did she have? To further complicate matters, Kyle had insisted on winning her a prize at one of the carnival games. When asked which one she'd prefer, she chose a small inconspicuous bear, but the man working the booth misjudged where she was pointing and handed her a bright pink and yellow bear that was three times the size of the one she'd requested. She wasn't about to explain this to her husband.

"You're gonna have to take this," she told him, referring to the neon atrocity that was taking both of her hands to hold.

"What? No, you keep it, I won it for you," he protested.

"I know, and I really appreciate it," she said as they paused in the entranceway. "But I was planning on telling Peter I just went for a drive," she explained, letting the statement speak for itself.

"I understand," he said, and took the bear from her. "Well, I'll just… keep this guy… somewhere." She smiled as she watched him try to think of a place to put it. "I'll keep him for you though, incase you ever wanna spruce up your apartment."

She nodded, glad that he wasn't offended.

"You gonna be okay, Amanda?" he asked suddenly.

"Oh, yeah," she quickly assured him. "Peter and I have had our share of hard times, we've always worked it out."

"I'm not talking about your marriage, I'm talking about you. Are you gonna be alright?"

She was somewhat thrown by his question, and mentally scolded herself for allowing Kyle to get the impression she was so fragile. Why did she do that?

"I'll be fine," she said, although she wasn't sure whether she believed it. A sudden gust of wind breezed through the courtyard, sweeping some of her hair into her face. She unconsciously hugged her jacket closer to her body.

There was a beat, and Kyle reached up and brushed her stray hair behinds behind her ear. She couldn't explain it, but at that moment, she wanted to kiss him. It wasn't because she was angry at Peter or because of the disheartened mood she was in, she just wanted to kiss him. As if he was reading her thoughts, he pulled her face to his and kissed her first, and she reciprocated. Her problems were momentarily forgotten as she put her hands on his face, curving her body and leaning into the kiss.

Some unknown force suddenly pulled Amanda back to earth, and she pulled away from him, averting her eyes. "I… can't do this," she stammered.

"Yeah," he agreed, a look of guilt on his face. "Me neither."

"I'm sorry."

After an awkward pause, Kyle was the first to speak. "Listen, I had a good time tonight."

"Me too," she admitted. "Thanks for listening."

He smiled again. "Goodnight, Amanda," he said, giving her a friendly touch on her arm before turning and heading back to his apartment.

And she did the same. She wasn't sure what had just happened, or what had been happening over the past two days. She had no desire to cheat on Peter, but something attracted her to Kyle, and that scared her. She was heading up her apartment stairs when she suddenly had the urge to call out to Kyle, who was across the courtyard, about to enter his apartment.

"Kyle."

He turned, and it was only when he did and they made eye contact that she realized she had no idea what she wanted to say to him. She glanced quickly at the ground and swallowed before she looked up again and spoke.

"Goodnight."

He grinned back at her, a look that seemed to suggest that they had a secret no one else knew, and said nothing. She stood there for a moment longer before turning and going back to her apartment, shutting the door behind her.