This story is an AU based on Season 4's episode, Rumors of My Death. I always wanted Joe to hear what Amanda had to say about her and Lee's upcoming marriage. Here is my take of what might've happened if she had gotten to tell him. There were a few different ways this could've gone! I hope you enjoy this version.
Thanks to my two Betas. Any errors are my own.
"Hello?" She called out. "You still there?"
"Yes, I'm still here," He replied slowly.
"So, how did it go?"
"Well—" He began but paused.
"Are you okay?"
"What?" He answered blankly. Then said, "I'm fine."
"I was asking you how it went?"
"It went okay," he said hesitantly then asked, "You know what, do you mind if I call you later? I have a terrible headache."
There was a pause before the woman on the other line replied. "Sure. Feel better."
"And I'll tell you all about it then."
"Okay," She replied, then added. "Make sure you take something for it."
"I will, I promise."
Joe replaced the receiver on the hook then walked in the bathroom to look for something to take for his headache. After locating some Tylenol and taking two of the disgusting-tasting tablets, he sat down and lay his head back against the chair, closed his eyes, and recalled his lunch date from earlier.
He and Amanda met for lunch; he'd phoned her earlier and asked if she could meet him; he had something he wanted to talk to her about. She, in turn, had some big news of her own. Once done with their food and after a bit of awkward conversation, Joe was just about to tell Amanda about Carrie when she said, "Joe, I love you—"
"Joe, I'm getting married."
The rest of what Joe was about to say was left forgotten as his brain couldn't catch up to his mouth until finally, he asked, "What? What did you say?"
"Lee and I are getting married!"
To say he was surprised would undoubtedly be an understatement. If he hadn't been sitting, he would've fallen.
"Wow! When did this happen?" Joe managed to ask.
"He asked me a few weeks ago, but we've just now decided to set a date."
"Wow, well, that is some news."
"Now, Joe, you can't tell Mother or the boys, not just yet."
"What do you mean, can't tell the boys? Or your mother?"
"They don't know. We want to wait a little while for the boys to get used to the idea before we spring it on them."
"Oh, not spring it on them? Like you just sprung it on me?" He asked shortly with a slight laugh.
Amanda laughed. "Yeah, I guess, I did sort of spring it on you."
Now there was a laugh, he thought. Wasn't that precisely what he was going to do himself?
"Aren't you going to say how happy you are for Lee and me?"
"Huh?" What else could he say, but that he was happy for them? "Of course, I'm happy for you." He managed to get out, his words sounding wooden, even to his ears, but if Amanda noticed, she didn't say anything. Instead, she asked, "So, what did you want to talk to me about?"
"Talk about?" Joe repeated.
He opened his mouth and said the first thing that he could think of, but for the life of him, he couldn't remember what exactly that was. Amanda didn't seem to think much of his response one way or the other; by then, they made a little more small talk then Amanda said she had to get back to the office. He'd returned to his apartment where he'd been thinking for quite some time about how he was feeling about Amanda's engagement. That was when Carrie had phoned.
Before her call, Joe's mind had been going over the conversation with Amanda again. The thing that kept playing around in his mind was that "his" Amanda was getting married again.
Yes, he knew that she was seeing Lee Stetson. He figured as much even before he came over for Christmas, and although he didn't know the exact particulars about what they did at IFF, he had a pretty good idea. After all, she'd run off with him earlier in the year. Yet, somehow he hadn't given any thought to Amanda getting married to Lee, or if he was honest with himself, to anyone for that matter. And now that she said she was engaged, and getting married soon was almost inconceivable to him even though he was engaged himself. Now that he knew just how serious Amanda and Lee were, more than he'd realized—he didn't know what to do. The more he thought about it, the more his headache seemed to bother him, especially since their engagement was a secret to Dotty and the boys, which got him wondering about what else they didn't know.
While all this was playing around in his head, the biggest and most concerning thing was that the news caused him to doubt that he was, in fact, ready to marry Carrie. With that thought in his head, Joe got up and headed out the door. Maybe a walk would help clear his head.
"So, how did it go?" Lee wanted to know when he met up with Amanda at the office.
"I guess it went okay but—"
"I have the distinct feeling that Joe was planning on asking me something besides what he asked me," Amanda said thoughtfully.
"What did he ask you?"
"He asked me about taking the boys to Goofy Golf."
"Goofy Golf?" Lee asked incredulously. "You've got to be kidding. Isn't that the place you were going to take the boys when you ate my sandwich, the poisoned sandwich?" Lee asked quietly. The thought that he could've lost her that day was still very prevalent in his mind.
"Yeah, that's the one."
"He could've told you that over the phone."
"Exactly! That's what I thought, but then we went on to something else."
"Do you think he was going to ask you back like I said earlier, but you beat him to it?"
"No, actually, I don't-but I'm pretty sure it wasn't to ask me about Goofy Golf."
"Hmm! Maybe he'll go ahead and confess later that he was going to ask for you to take him back."
"Oh, you!" Amanda said, throwing a wad of paper towards Lee, who caught it.
Smiling, he stood and walked over towards her desk. "Well, we better get going, check on that lead."
Joe wandered, almost as if in a fog, not really sure where he was headed as his thoughts drifted to when he returned to Washington and he and Amanda went out after his name was cleared. He'd asked her if she wanted to go back, and she'd said she wanted to go forward. Well, it looked like she was going forward now, and so was he.
Yet, the very fact that Amanda was moving on was throwing him for a loop. If only he'd been able to say his news first. Well, where would that have gotten him if she'd told her news afterward? Would he still be having doubts about a life with Carrie?
Before he started seeing Carrie, often, he wondered what he would've said or done if Amanda had indeed said she wanted to go back. Would they have been able to make the marriage work? He didn't think he'd changed all that much, but Amanda certainly had. He shrugged. Well, now none of that mattered. It was what he was going to do about Carrie that was important now.
Joe walked back towards his apartment, got in his car and headed towards Carrie's place.
"Hi," Carrie, a petite blond, said as she opened the door.
"We need to talk," Joe said.
"I know." Came her simple reply.
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