The disclaimer: none of these characters belong to me; they belong to Shoot the Moon Enterprises and Warner Bros to whom I am eternally grateful for the opportunity to take them out for a spin and bit of light humour.

This takes place just after Season 4. Another tale where really almost nothing happens.


The stories behind the stories

The loud music playing blocked anyone from hearing their conversation but everyone in the bar could hear the large table of women in the centre of the bar who had erupted in laughter. To the other patrons in the bar, it looked an extremely boisterous bachelorette party for the pretty girl in the centre of the group, surrounded by friends, as well as a few slightly older women who might be co-workers or perhaps relatives. What was not at all obvious was that this particular group of women was made up of federal agents, and no one watching them would have realized that the entire group was currently maintaining wall-to-wall surveillance of the bar.

The Agency has received information about a threat to kidnap the daughter of a US senator and Lee's informant Augie had helped them narrow it down to this bar and this evening but the initial reconnaissance made it clear that no less than three daughters of different Senators were going to be in the bar that night, two for sorority Christmas parties and one who actually worked there as a waitress. That hadn't really come as a surprise to anyone since the bar was in the heart of the Georgetown campus, but it had made organizing the surveillance more difficult. It was Francine who had suggested they hide in plain sight by taking over a large round table in the middle of the room so that agents could face every direction and keep an eye on every part of the bar without it being obvious. It had been Amanda who suggested making it appear to be a bachelorette party, not only because criminals tended to underestimate females but also because it was unlikely that a large group of noisy women would be bothered by other patrons. With the help of the bar manager, they had set the table up with liquor bottles filled with ginger ale and water and had arranged for the senator's daughter to be their waitress; it made it easier to keep her under surveillance without her knowledge and meant for fewer interruptions.

The only difficulty they had run into was trying to recruit enough female agents to make it a credible party. The blushing bride-to-be was actually a newly qualified agent who appeared much younger than her 26 years, and the girls playing her best friends were three agents still in the training phase. It was rare to use unqualified agents in this type of operation but Beaman has assured them these recruits were excellent candidates. Francine and Amanda were the most senior field agents and the group had been rounded out with Roxanne from Accounting, Agnes from Research, and unexpectedly Jeanie Melrose. Jeanie had come by to have lunch with Billy earlier that afternoon and he had recruited her to play mother-in-law to be on the spot. Amanda had not known before today that Jeanie and Billy had met when he was a young agent and she had worked in the Agency research department but her security clearance was still active and she was delighted to spend some time with Amanda and Francine.

It was Jeanie who had instigated the latest round of laughter by quizzing Amanda and Francine on old missions. The younger girls had been shy around the more experienced agents and Jeanie had broken the ice by asking if it was still true that the best field stories never made it into the debrief files. It had taken very little for the two of them to start telling taller and taller tales. The table was currently convulsed with laughter as Francine told a story from the early days of working with Lee.

"So there we are at this reception for the Sultan of Brunei and I'm wearing this huge fake pregnancy belly – I don't even remember why now - under this gorgeous Yves St Laurent dress and this woman sweeps up to Lee and me, greets us by name and starts flirting like crazy with Lee, like I'm not even there. So we both know we've met her somewhere before but neither of us can place her and he's trying to get rid of her because the guy we were supposed to be making contact with had just come in, so he turns and makes some comment about how much the two of us are looking forward to our new baby and she gives us this look. I mean, this is an absolute if-looks-could-kill look and she looks me up and down and then looks at him and screams "THAT IS DISGUSTING!" and storms out of the room." Francine paused for breath and then barely able to speak with laughing, concluded "And THAT was when we remembered that when we'd met her the year before we'd been undercover as brother and sister!"

Almost the entire bar turned to look at the table of women who had just collapsed shrieking with laughter.


Outside the bar at the monitoring station in the unmarked truck, Lee arrived back from the coffee run. As he opened the back door and clambered in, he looked up to find Fred, Dave and Leatherneck doubled over laughing.

"What the hell did I miss?" he asked.

Leatherneck pushed the headphones off his ears and left them dangling around his neck. "Well Ace, your wives are telling the kiddies all the old stories and there's some even I hadn't heard before."

Startled, Lee almost dropped the tray "My wife?"

"Yeah, Ace – both of 'em. Hell, I knew Amanda could be funny but Francine just killed it with that last story. Although, I've heard this one before and Amanda may win this round."

"Oh my God, I'm afraid to ask."

Leatherneck leaned over and flipped a switch so that the audio from the bug on the bar table could be heard over the loudspeaker of the truck and Amanda's voice filled the air.

"So, he tells me to throw the drink in his face, but I can see that the guy he's been trying to bait has gotten really close and is trying to hear what we're saying so I throw the drink at him and yell 'And another thing, Ricky-Joe, sex with you was always a MAJOR disappointment!' and storm out of the bar…"

Lee dropped his head in his hands and muttered "I'm going to throttle her" as the men in the truck burst out laughing along with the women inside the bar.

"I thought this was going to be the most boring evening ever." said Fred "but this is the best stakeout I've been on in years."


"At least that time I only had to remember his first name. Trying to remember his last name is a whole other challenge. Stetson, Steadman…"

Francine chimed in "Stanton, Sampson"

Amanda picked up the list again: "Simpson, Henderson, Hamilton"

"Saunderson, Samuelson, Gorvandeljec" added Francine

Amanda paused at that one. "Gorvandeljec? Glad I missed that one. As it is, one time I had to spill a vase of flowers all over the front desk of a hotel because I couldn't remember how to spell Stanislowski and I was supposed to sign the guest register. It's gotten so bad, the staff at Ned's just calls me Mrs. S because they never know what name we're using when we meet contacts there."

Jeanie chuckled "Amanda dear, I don't think that's why they call you that."

Amanda tried not to look guilty as Francine rolled her eyes at her across the table. It never failed to amuse her that Amanda didn't realize how much her expression gave her away when she talked about Lee, but then again, few people spent as much time with them as she did. Ever since Jonathan had disappeared back to Europe and out of her life, Amanda and Lee had just quietly included her in their "gang", not just making sure she was working with them on their cases but also lunches, after work drinks and dinners. They'd long since given up pretending to her and Billy that they weren't involved, but Francine could tell their relationship, both personal and working was something enviable – they had some sort of almost psychic link when it came to work, but it was in those off-hours that she saw the change in Lee. He was more focused as an agent with Amanda as his partner and sounding board but off work he was calmer and more relaxed and when the two of them were trading stories like this, Francine had come to appreciate the absolute wicked sense of humour hidden behind that housewife façade. She was still wrapping her head around the fact that their partnership had not meant the loss of Lee as a friend, but gaining Amanda as one.

One of the younger agents, Katie, got up her courage. "Mrs. King, I know you usually work with Mr. Stetson a lot, but have you had to, um, you know, deal with uuhh.." she trailed off, not sure how to finish the sentence.

"Grabbers?" suggested Jeanie, and Katie nodded gratefully.

Amanda met Francine's eyes over the table and they both started to chuckle. "Guido" they said simultaneously.

"Guido?" prompted Jeanie.

Francine leaned back with a smirk. "That's just what we call him after the pimp character in 'Risky Business'. He's a big deal in Interpol and convinced he's God's gift to women. Dr. Smyth ordered me to accompany him to an embassy party three years ago and I ended up breaking one of his fingers after he grabbed me one too many times."

"And since we don't do debriefs on that type of job, when he came the next year, Lee blithely let me go off to dinner with him."

"How did you deal with him?" asked Rebecca, the fake bride, breathlessly

"Well halfway through dinner, and most of the way through a bottle of wine, he started telling me in Italian how much he wanted to spend the rest of the evening alone with me upstairs and to emphasize his point he grabbed my hand and put it – let's just say – in his lap". The younger agents gasped while outside in the truck, Lee suddenly sat up straighter and clenched his fists. He's known about the grabber but he'd never actually heard the whole story.

"But unfortunately for Guido, " Amanda continued, "I was a Kappa before I was an agent and I'd seen his frat boy moves a mile off, so when he forced my hand down on his lap, the shrimp fork hidden in it ended up stabbing him in the crotch." She added with some satisfaction, "He doesn't come to Washington anymore."

As the women at the table broke into laughter again, every man in the truck outside winced.


"Well, they can't all go that badly" laughed Jeanie. "You two wouldn't still be doing this if every man you met were grabbers. Come on, who was the best kisser you ever met?"

"Jeanie, stop it!" laughed Amanda. "You're going to get us in trouble!" She pointed to the fake shower gift in the middle of the table that disguised the microphone that was feeding their conversation to the van outside.

"Too many to narrow it down?" asked Jeanie with a raised eyebrow.

"Too easy to narrow it down" said Francine, coming to the rescue. "Prince Guillaume of Loewen-Holstein. Money, heir to monarchy and toe-curling kissing technique. He asked me to marry him but his country was too small."

Jeanie turned to Amanda mischievously "How about you, Mrs S.?" She emphasized the nickname as she pointed to the microphone and then made a motion like a fisherman reeling in a fish. Unable to help herself, Amanda giggled, but knew Jeanie was not going to give up until she answered.

"Well it's been a while but I think the best one was actually back in the early days when I was still civilian auxiliary. I had to pretend to be a sports reporter at a football camp and I was just getting some information from one of the players when the coach suddenly appeared and he had to grab me and pretend we were making out so they weren't suspicious. That was toe-curling technique". She knew Lee would be squirming out in the truck by now.

"So who was it who kissed you?" asked Rebecca

"Bela Spivak" answered Amanda in her best dreamy voice.

"The place kicker for the Patriots?!" squeaked Katie.

"One and the same" answered Amanda.

"Toe curling? Really?" Francine toasted Amanda with her drink with a wink.

"Toe curling" confirmed Amanda. "They don't call him the Mighty Mouse for nothing!"

Out in the truck, a near-hysterical Fred helped Lee back off the floor where he'd landed when his chair had slid out from under him.


Amanda braced herself as Jeanie leaned in and looked around at the table with what Amanda could only call an evil grin. "How about kissers outside of missions? Who's the best kisser in the office?"

"Jeanie! Are you suggesting we make out with people at work?" asked Francine in mock outrage. "I don't know what the Agency was like in your day…"

"It was the 60s dear – you can't even begin to imagine! I know who the best kisser was in my day because I married him" she paused as her tablemates burst out laughing, "But who should I be hitting up under the mistletoe at the Christmas party this year?"

Lee could see Leatherneck's eyes bugging out of his head and knew his probably were as well. "Ace, do you think they've forgotten we're listening?"

"After those last few stories, I honestly have no idea anymore."

Fred interrupted them "Well maybe if you two shut up, we'll learn something useful."

Inside, it was obvious no one at the table had forgotten the microphone on the table. The silence after Jeanie's question stretched out until finally Roxanne leaned over to Amanda and asked softly in her ear "Is Dave listening to this?" Amanda's lips twitched and she nodded – everyone knew Dave had a crush on Roxanne that he hadn't worked up the nerve to act on yet. Outside in the truck, every man leaned closer to the loudspeaker.

"Well, if you're talking Christmas party, then definitely Efraim" Roxanne announced at normal volume. She elbowed Agnes who was sitting on the other side of her. To Amanda's amazement, the normally shy Agnes just grinned and immediately agreed with her "Oh yes, definitely Efraim!"

Amanda knew that the look of shocked amusement on Francine's face was mirrored on her own before the whole table swiveled to look at the two women who'd spoken. The younger agents' jaws had dropped open and even Jeanie looked surprised by this unforeseen answer.

"Efraim Beaman?" asked Jeanie

"Efraim Beaman our training supervisor?!" asked Katie at the exact same moment.

Out in the truck, all four men were staring at each other in disbelief. "Beaman? That hound dog!" chortled Leatherneck.

Back in the bar, Roxanne was speaking again. "Oh yeah! It's been two years and I still get flushed just walking into the copier room." As she spoke, she was shaking her head at the rest of the table and waving her hands in the universal symbol of "I am absolutely lying" while Agnes was only barely stifling her fit of the giggles. Amanda's eyes met Francine's and without missing a beat, they both looked down at the microphone, and looked back at each other, lips twitching. In one silent glance, they came to the same thought. Amanda had never liked Francine more than she did at that moment.

She turned to the younger women who were all still looking stunned, even if they were fairly certain Roxanne had been kidding. "Oh don't worry, Efraim prefers us more mature women."

Francine mentally made a promise to take Efraim out for lunch the next day as penance for what she was about to do, and then leaned forward so that she could be certain the mike would pick up what she was saying, "Well, yeah, but I mean he's really, really, really toe-curling good. You know that way his glasses fog over when he's got you in a dip? Makes you feel like the most beautiful woman on earth right for that moment. That's why I hide out in the bathroom at the Christmas party. I'm afraid I might do something I regret later after one of those kisses. He could probably actually talk me into moving to Greece and raising goats." Amanda shared a secret smile with Jeanie as just for a moment, Francine's eyes actually did glaze over with the memory of last year's party.

"I know right?" said Amanda in her best breathless voice. "It's that thing he does with his fingers in your hair..." She let the sentence drift off into the silence at the table.

The table went silent again because by this time, Francine was biting the side of her hand to keep from laughing out loud and Jeanie was rocking back and forth with her face in her hands. The younger agents were grinning from ear to ear, unable to believe seeing these women they looked up to in such a complete state of mirth.

Finally managing to catch her breath, Francine looked over at Amanda and asked "How did Efraim manage to get you in a dip without Lee stopping him?" Amanda knew she'd pay dearly for what she planned to say next but couldn't resist.

"Oh well, you know, even if you can get him to go at all, Lee never stays long at the party, and he never asks about anything that goes on and well, on a need-to-know basis –"

She did not need to finish as every woman chorused along with her "he doesn't need to know!"

As the laughter at the table subsided, Amanda gestured across the room over Jeanie's shoulder where Senator Adams's daughter who looked considerably the worse for wear was being half walked, half carried towards the door by two men who definitely did not look like their intentions were those of good Samaritans.

"It's show time, ladies" she said standing up and picking up the unopened champagne bottle off the table. "Excuse me sir, but Kappas don't let other Kappas go home with the likes of you" she called out and as Francine shot her chair backwards from the table, using it to take out the one on the left, Amanda slammed the bottle straight between the eyes of the one on the right.


It took Lee longer than Amanda thought it would. She was working inside the vault almost three days later when she heard him call out from his desk in the Q Bureau in a voice that was just a little too casual.

"Hey did you hear Dave finally asked Roxanne out?"

"No I hadn't" she answered, trying to keep the smile of her voice. "But I heard that Leatherneck's been hanging around Research a little more often."

She only had time to count to three and then:

"Amanda? When is the Christmas party this year?"

"Next Thursday. Why? Are you actually thinking of showing up this year?"

"Um, yeah, I thought I might'

Amanda smiled to herself "Yeah, I thought you might too."

** The End **