Acknowledgement: Thanks to IamInvisibleToo for beta'ing this in it's infancy. It's grown quite a bit since then, but she was courageous enough to point out the weaknesses. Thanks, also, to MarySueStetson for trying to teach me POV. Any errors or really crappy storytelling are totally my fault.
Lee sat on the couch trying to read the book he started earlier in the week. Amanda had fallen asleep in his bed about an hour ago and he wanted to quietly occupy himself until it was time to drive her home. After his third attempt at reading the same page, he closed the book in frustration. Images of the day's events wouldn't leave him alone. He kept seeing Benson gripping Amanda, stroking and kissing her. His anger grew every time he thought about how much Benson enjoyed it.
"Lee!" he heard her scream and acted immediately. "Lee!"
He grabbed his gun from the end table and was off the couch before the second scream. As he swung the bedroom door open and rushed in, he quickly scanned the room but found only Amanda, sitting wide-eyed in the middle of his bed.
Placing his gun on the nightstand, he sat on the edge of the bed and pulled her to him. "Sshhh...it's all right. Everything's going to be okay. It's just a bad dream."
He felt her shudder and tightened his embrace. "A dream? ...it seemed so real…" she pulled away to look into his eyes. "He died, didn't he? I killed him…"
"No," he rubbed her back to calm her. "No, Amanda...I talked to Billy. He's going to be okay."
"He's not dead?" she searched his face, needing to believe him and looking for any sign he was hiding the truth.
"No, he's going to be just fine," Lee assured her. "Then he's going back to jail. This time they'll keep him in maximum security. He won't hurt you again," he finished with determination.
She released a shaky sigh, then stood and began to pace in front of him. "Lee, I still can't believe I shot him. You know how I feel about guns," her pacing stopped and she turned to face him.
"I know," he agreed with her.
"But...I saw him...standing over you. And your gun was right there by me. I had to do something," she said the last statement with force, as if she was trying to convince him – or maybe herself.
"Yes, and I'm very glad you did. C'mere," he extended his right arm to encourage her to sit with him.
As she leaned her head on his shoulder and softly placed her hand on his chest, he continued the back rub that made her relax in his arms. They stayed that way for a while, neither one saying anything. He was content just to hold her as her trembling stopped.
"He used me, Lee. I never even suspected what he had in mind – I was so foolish," her fist lightly hit his shoulder in frustration.
"Hey, you were not foolish. You said yourself you didn't know what he had in mind."
"No, Lee...you don't understand," she pulled away from him and shook her head. "I was surprised to see him in the lobby, but I wasn't afraid of him. I should have been. When...when he smiled...and said he was there to see you, I just kept walking. It wasn't until I passed Mr. Feller that I saw his gun."
"I…" he shrugged his shoulders and shook his head, not sure where she was going with this. "You're right...I don't understand. You didn't do anything wrong."
She looked directly into his eyes, as if pleading for him to understand. "Don't you see? He knew. He knew he could get you to come to him...by holding me," she emphasized her point by placing her hand on her chest. "He used me – to get to you. I should have run away, but instead I just kept walking until it was too late." She turned away from him and began to anxiously pluck at the fabric of her jeans.
He grabbed her by the shoulders and turned her to face him. "Amanda," he dipped his head to get her to look at him. "Hey, look at me."
When she raised her chin, unshed tears shimmered in her eyes; but Lee also saw a strength there. She was determined not to cry anymore because of David Benson.
"He had a gun, Amanda, and forced you to go with him. Depending on how all this turned out, he *may* have shot you no matter what. But I have no doubt he *would* have shot you if you had run." He captured both her hands in his, giving them a reassuring squeeze. "The fact that he could get to me through you, well...that's a weakness of working with a partner," he hoped that explanation sounded truer to her than it did to him. A voice in the back of his mind whispered, 'It's more than that, and you know it.'
His thumbs gently massaged her fingers as he told that voice to be quiet. "So he got to me through you, so what? You'd do the same for me, wouldn't you?"
"That's not the same," she protested.
"Oh, really?" he raised a questioning eyebrow. "How is it not the same?"
"It would never happen that way, Lee. You have a lot that can be compromised, I don't," she looked down to where he held her hands in his lap.
"I'll have to disagree with that," he reached under her chin and forced her to look back into his eyes. "There's always your poppy seed cake recipe," he tried to tease her, then felt rewarded when he saw her broad smile.
"Not exactly a State secret, Scarecrow," she joined in the teasing.
His smile turned into a dimpled grin and he reached to smooth a stray lock of hair from her cheek then let his hand remain where it was. As he lightly caressed her cheek with his thumb, she closed her eyes and leaned into his hand. Such a simple gesture on her part and it went straight to his heart.
The trust she had in him, and the comfort she drew from him, filled him with desires. A desire to protect her. A desire to always see her safe and happy. A desire... She opened her eyes and he saw longing in their brown depths. Realizing she must see the same reflected in hazel, he withdrew his hand and looked away, fearing she'd already seen too much. "I, uh...I'd better drive you home," he stood and extended his hand to help her off the bed.
For a moment she didn't move. What just happened? She had closed her eyes and rested her cheek against the soothing warmth of his palm. Hard as she tried, she couldn't stop the questions that whispered in her mind. How many times had she thanked God and fate for that morning at the train station? And exactly when had she realized she was falling in love with Lee?
When she had opened her eyes, the look on Lee's face was so tender, and she'd seen a flicker of...something... Just as quickly, his expression became shuttered and he practically jumped off the bed, offering his hand.
"Yeah...I, um...I should get going," she said as she accepted his assistance. His fingers closed around hers, and she felt the familiar current she'd come to expect whenever they had the slightest physical contact. He quickly released her hand and reached for his gun on the nightstand.
Headed toward the living room, he called to her over his shoulder, "You know, it's close to midnight. How are you going to explain to your mother?"
"Oh, I'm not worried. I don't think she's had time to miss me, yet."
He turned in the doorway, looking totally confused. "What do you mean she hasn't had time to miss you? You've been gone all day."
"I know, but she took the boys to Aunt Lillian's yesterday and we already talked this morning. They won't call again until tomorrow," she swung her purse over her shoulder as she walked toward him.
"Wait...hold it. You're gonna be home alone?" He didn't budge, effectively blocking the doorway and keeping her from leaving the bedroom.
She shifted her weight to her left foot and put her fist on her right hip. "I've been home alone before."
"Yeah, but Amanda...I don't think you should be alone tonight." He still didn't move from his spot.
"I'll be fine, Lee."
"You're having nightmares," he argued.
"Just that one – and it's not the first time I've had a nightmare." She couldn't believe he was being so obstinate. "Look, you told me you spoke with Billy and David's going to be okay. I'll go home, have a mug of warm milk and go to bed. If I can't sleep, I'll get up and have another. I'll be fine."
"No," he said stubbornly. "You've got two choices here. Either you stay here and I sleep on my couch, or I take you home and I sleep on your couch. You're not spending the rest of the night alone."
"Lee, you don't want to be sleeping on a couch."
"Amanda, I will sleep in my car in front of your house if I have to. Now what's it gonna be?"
She considered him for a moment. Really, she didn't want to go home to an empty house, but she also didn't want him to think she was afraid.
Her hesitation was her defeat. She saw a triumphant flash in his eyes and a smug smile. He walked to the dresser and began opening drawers. "Look, I have tee-shirts, and I know there's a pair of sweat pants here that are too small for me, if you want them," he threw the clothes on the bed then turned to face her. "And I even have a new toothbrush that hasn't been opened yet. Why not just stay here, and I'll drive you home in the morning?"
She sighed, knowing she'd lost. "Ill stay under one condition."
"What's that?" he asked cautiously.
"Do you have any food? I haven't eaten since breakfast."
He laughed and immediately relaxed. "I think I can find something here for us to eat."
She smiled at him, wondering what he would possibly find that was edible. "Mind if I wash up?"
"Yeah, sure. Towels are in the closet in there, and the toothbrush is in the cabinet above the sink," he gestured toward the bathroom. "In the meantime, I'll see if I can find something other than week-old pizza and moldy cheese," he winked and grinned at her.
Lee snapped awake. He strained to hear whatever it was that interrupted his sleep, but the apartment was totally quiet. Knowing something must have disturbed him, he threw the blanket over the back of the couch and rose quietly to go check on Amanda.
He opened the door only to find the bed empty. For a half second his gut twisted, until her saw her standing at the window staring into the night. Her head and shoulder leaned against the frame, and her arms were crossed in front of her. Wearing just his tee-shirt, her long legs were bare and the hem of the shirt fell just below...for one incredible moment he wondered if she wore anything beneath.
He cleared his throat to get her attention – and to be sure he was still capable of speech. She was startled when she turned to him, then flustered as she realized what she was wearing. His robe was draped across the end of the bed, and she walked over to grab it.
"Hi," she greeted him quietly as she shrugged into the robe. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to wake you."
"I'm not sure that you did, but as long as I was up I thought I'd check on you," he said, still a little distracted. Seeing her standing there in his robe wasn't much better than before.
"I just couldn't sleep. Then I found if you stand over here," she walked back to the window, "and lean just so, you can see the river."
"Well, you've discovered the secret to why I took this place – apartment with a view," he said with a smile as he walked to stand behind her. She pointed to where she could see the Potomac. He was close enough to catch the mixed fragrances of soap, the perfume in her hair, and Amanda's own scent. "Well, I'll be damned," he whispered as he leaned to see her discovery.
"You didn't know that?" she turned her head to look at him and her face was just inches from his. He heard her breath catch in her throat, then felt a pang of disappointment as she stepped away from him and turned to study the street below from her new angle.
Once again he felt the need to clear his throat. "Can I get you anything? Maybe that mug of warm milk?"
"No, I'll be okay. I'm feeling more relaxed, and I think if I go back to bed soon I may actually get some sleep tonight," she smiled her thanks at him.
As he studied her, he struggled over how to say what he was feeling. "Amanda, I'm sorry," he said unexpectedly.
"For what?" she asked, looking truly confused. "You haven't done anything to be sorry for."
"Yes, I have...or at least I feel like I have," he ran his hand through his hair in frustration before continuing. "If it weren't for me, you never would have been involved in any of this. You never would have met David Benson and you never would have been in a position where he could hurt you."
"Lee, it's not your fault," she said adamantly. "Did you know this would happen when you introduced me to David?"
"No! Hell, Amanda...I liked him. I considered him a friend."
"So, other than introducing me to David – which you didn't know would be dangerous – what have you done wrong? Huh?" she waited a moment for his answer, but he had none. "Besides, David had already seen me at the office, he said so himself. So, the only other way this wouldn't have happened is if I'd never met you and was never at the Agency."
He didn't know what to say to that. It had been a long time since he'd thought that things might be easier if he'd just given that package to someone else. She had become such a part of his life that he was no longer sure what he would do without her.
"Anyway, I'm the one who should apologize," she countered.
"All right, this is getting ridiculous," he couldn't believe the direction this conversation was taking. "What the hell are you apologizing for?
"I gave David the opportunity to get to you."
"Amanda, I thought we'd been all through this…"
"Yes, I know..." she interrupted him, "'weakness of working with a partner.' But, Lee, I don't want to be your weakness. I don't want it to be known that 'Scarecrow' is vulnerable because of me."
He really didn't understand where all this was coming from. He'd always protected her before, why was this so upsetting to her?
She was determined that he know how important this was to her. If she was ever going to be taken seriously and considered for training as a full agent, she had to gain respect. She turned away from him and sighed. Being Lee's Achilles' heel wasn't going to help her cause.
More important than all of that, "I don't ever want you to resent me," she stared at the floor, having put her real fear into words. He'd come to mean too much to her. What would she do if he ever decided she was too much of a burden to him?
"Hey...none of this was your fault," he touched her hand, then wrapped his long fingers around hers. "I could never resent you for something you didn't do."
When she looked back up at him and saw the intensity in his expressive hazel eyes, she again heard the whispered questions in her mind.
Lee was about to get lost in the brown depths of her eyes. She stood so near to him. Just one step and he would be close enough to feel her warm breath on his chest. One step to be close enough to bow his head and finally taste her. He took that step.
Her eyes widened and her breath quickened. He was right, he could feel the warmth. He tentatively leaned toward her, not sure if this was what she needed – or what he wanted.
She reached up to run her fingers through his hair, then wrapped her hand around the back of his neck. He felt the slight pressure as she pulled him to her, and all doubt was gone. He wanted nothing more than to kiss her, and knew she felt the same.
He was gentle and tender; exploring her lips with his. When he pulled back to gauge her response, she tightened her grasp on his neck. This time he deepened the kiss, his hands finding her waist and pulling her to him.
She wrapped her arms around him and felt the smooth hardness of his back and shoulders. The heat from his body came through the thin fabric of his shirt, and she could feel the rhythmic flex of his muscles when he moved. Her hands trailed down his back and, as she began pulling his shirttail, he moved from her mouth to explore her neck with his lips. She tilted her head to more fully expose her throat to his exploration. As he kissed his way toward her collarbone, he brought his hand up to pull away the fabric of the robe and reveal her soft skin.
How many times had he imagined this? Holding Amanda close, kissing her and feeling her accepting response. He'd even caught himself thinking of taking things further, but had always backed away from those imaginings; somehow knowing it was dangerous territory. He caught himself now and pulled away from her.
"Amanda, I'm sorry," he apologized. "I shouldn't be doing this. After everything that's happened today ..." he cursed himself for being so selfish. "I would never...you must know, I'd never take advantage of you..."
She placed her index finger on his lips to silence him. "This has nothing to do with what happened today...and you know it." Her hand moved to caress his cheek, then slid down his neck to rest on his shoulder.
As she captured his mouth in a soft kiss, he fought a battle within himself. This felt so incredibly right; but he couldn't press it. His self-control was stretched thin, and he had to know this was what she wanted. "Amanda, tell me now if this needs to stop. You have to be the one to say no," his voice sounded hoarse with passion, even to his own ears.
"Lee, I'm not going to say no," she leaned toward him and drew him back to her lips, all the while undoing the buttons on the front of his shirt. When the last one was unbuttoned, she ran her hands up over his chest then eased his shirt off his shoulders and down his arms.
As she began planting kisses on his smooth, bare chest, she could smell his cologne. That scent had intoxicated her before, but this time she had the added pleasure of feeling the warmth of his skin. She lightly teased his nipple with her tongue before raising her head to again find his mouth.
His hands came up to the collar of the robe, and he eased it over her shoulders and down her arms to let it puddle on the floor. He then placed his hands on her waist and slowly caressed his way up her ribcage to rest his palms just below the curve of her breasts. His thumbs slid up the underside of each, and found her already hardened nipples. As he lazily stroked through the fabric of the shirt, they became even more taut and she arched toward him to increase the pressure.
Needing to feel his hands on her bare skin, she reached for the hem of the tee-shirt and pulled it over her head. He gently massaged her breasts, enjoying their weight and softness against his palms. Leaning down, he kissed each one then claimed a nipple in his eager mouth. "Lee.." she whispered his name and ran her fingers into his hair, clutching the back of his head.
Releasing his prize, he steered her backward the two steps it took to reach the bed, then sat down and pulled her with him. He leaned to lay her on the bed, and as he stretched out beside her, he returned to his pleasure – caressing and teasing with his tongue and fingertips.
He felt her fingernails run over his skin just above the waist of his pants as she began working on his belt buckle. While slowly lowering his zipper, her fingers brushed against his arousal and he couldn't stop the moan that escaped his lips. She began stroking him through the soft cotton of his boxers, and he had to grab her hand to stop her movements or he would explode too soon.
Caressing her hip, he began to toy with the waist of her silk panties. When he slid beneath the fabric, he felt her even silkier skin, and explored lower through her soft hair to her moist warmth. She arched against him as he slid his long finger inside her, and he continued to suckle her breast while he stroked and used his thumb to stimulate her.
"Lee, I need you," she whispered to him, desperate to feel the weight of his body pressed against her and have him inside to fulfill her aching need. With a final swirl of his tongue and a gentle nip, he released her then leaned up to place a soft kiss on her lips. Kneeling beside her, he removed the final bit of silk from her body and threw the soft piece of fabric to join his robe on the floor. He then stood, lowered his slacks and boxers, and kicked them out of the way.
Lying on his bed she was bathed in the soft light from the open door and he couldn't remember if he'd ever seen anything more beautiful. His eyes traveled up her long legs and over her soft curves to finally rest on her dark hair spread across the white pillow. Her hungry eyes were studying his body candidly, without a hint of shyness, and her undisguised admiration increased his desire.
He reached into the nightstand drawer and took out a small packet. "I'd like to do that," she spoke as he tore open the wrapper. Another surprise from her. Not that the request was unheard of, but it's something he hadn't expected from Amanda.
As he lay back down beside her, he handed her the packet and sought her mouth in a lingering, possessive kiss. She pulled away from him to remove the pliable disk from its wrapper and positioned it on the end of his arousal. He was hard and hot; using her thumb and fingertips, the slick, tight sheath slid easily over his length. She gripped him with her hand to feel the weight and heat of him and, as he moved to cover her soft, delicate body with his own muscular one, she guided him to her, then wrapped her arms around his waist.
He entered her slowly, a little deeper with each thrust of his hips, until he finally filled her completely. Her hands traveled down his back to clutch him and still his movements.
"Are you okay?" he whispered, rising to his elbows, ready to pull back.
"Yes...only...please don't move yet," her voice was full of emotion. Just having him sink fully into her had almost caused her to climax.
He reached his hand to smooth the hair from her face, and looked in wonder at the passion he saw in her eyes. How was it he never suspected this of her? How could he not have seen that she would be a passionate lover?
She began to move, slowly and sensuously, and he tried to match her movements. Looking into each other's eyes, they found their rhythm. He claimed her lips and she opened her mouth to allow him entry. As she felt his teasing, she gently sucked while returning his exploration. Her body movements became more intense and she gave a low moan from the back of her throat.
That moan almost sent him over the edge. Groaning, he tore his mouth away from hers before the actions of her tongue ended it all too soon. He buried his face in her neck, then traced her jaw with his tongue until he came to her ear, nibbling and sucking lightly on her sensitive lobe.
She gently bit into his shoulder, then as quickly released it. Her waves of pleasure surged hard and fast, and she arched against him uncontrollably, wanting him to penetrate her deeper and harder. Her ecstasy was almost unbearable in its intensity.
He felt her climax as she contracted around him, and heard her call out to him, "Oh, Lee...pleas …" Her throaty cry was the end of his self-control.
"Amanda..." he could no longer deny himself and kept repeating her name as he felt her equal response. Her body met his, thrust for thrust, and as his physical release came, he felt the wet warmth of his passion and the familiar rush of pleasure spread through his body.
But this time, there was something more – something intangible that settled around his heart as the fury of the moment subsided and the calm set in. He relaxed against Amanda and trailed gentle kisses from her ear to her mouth. He didn't know how to explain this new feeling, but knew definitely that it was unique to Amanda.
They lay in each other's arms and Lee felt the need to tighten his embrace – he just couldn't get her close enough to him. Their legs were entwined and he used his knee to pull her even nearer.
She snuggled contentedly on his shoulder and wrapped her arm more securely around his waist. "Lee?"
"You can forget what I said earlier."
"What do you mean? About what?"
"You know, what I said about going back to bed and actually getting some sleep tonight."
He chuckled and pulled her to him to kiss the top of her head.