Just A Little Persuasion

Summary: Amanda is getting tired of her over-protective partner

NOTES: Time frame is after end of 4th season, but not too much after.

DISCLAIMER: The characters here belong to Warner Brother & Shoot the Moon Production; this story is copyrighted by the author. Please do not distribute without permission. No infringement is intended, and this story is not for commercial gain but rather for entertainment only.

Scene One: 5:15 pm, Friday

Amanda looked around the apartment, and surveyed her work. The table was set with Lee's best dishes and wine glasses. A bottle of wine was in the wine cooler, and the candles were ready to be lit once he came home. The roast was in the oven, and the salad in the refrigerator. The living room had been straightened up, the lights were dimmed, and music was playing. Amanda smiled to herself, and checked the pillows one last time. 'Yup,' she said to herself, 'right where it should be.' With a final glance at the clock, she went into the bedroom to change.

Scene Two: 5:25 pm, Friday

Lee Stetson looked at his watch and ran his hand through his hair. 'At the rate this meeting is going,' he thought to himself, 'I'll be lucky to be out of here by seven.' He leaned back in his chair and tried to relax, but all he could think of was how mad Amanda had been that morning. Not that she didn't have a right to be, he acknowledged, but if Lee hadn't ducked when his phone and answering machine flew at him he would have had to explain more than why he didn't pick up the phone. She had aimed it right at his head! As far as he knew, Amanda had never thrown anything in anger before. For her to have done so made Lee realize he had badly underestimated her displeasure as of late. He shifted in his seat, and forced himself to bring his attention back to what Billy was saying.

Scene Three: 6:15 pm, Friday

As the meeting ended, Lee bolted for the door followed closely by Francine.

"Lee, wait!"

"Can't Francine. Not now." He pushed the elevator button and looked at his watch. It was going to be close, but he might be able to make it in fifteen minutes.

"Hot date?" Francine asked. She was about to pursue it, but second thoughts prevented her. "I'm kidding Lee. What's up? You look pretty rattled."

"Just running late is all."

"Another fight?" Francine noticed the surprise on Lee's face as she followed him into the elevator. "I'm not blind you know, and as much as it pains me to admit it, if the topic is what I think it is, Amanda is right." Lee glared at Francine, but she continued. "You don't get to be the one who decides when her job is too dangerous. She's an adult, Lee, and she's a good agent. She would have been a lot of help on these last few cases, if you had let her work them." Francine stepped from the elevator and walked toward the door. "And Scarecrow," she said over her shoulder, "if you ever tell her I said that I'll hunt you down and break both your legs."

Lee shook his head, thinking that Francine still had the ability to amaze him after so many years. He followed her toward the outside door but was stopped by Mrs. Marsten, who handed him a stack of messages. Two of them were from Amanda, reminding him of their dinner plans.

Scene Four: 6:35 pm, Friday

Lee put his key into the door, and cautiously entered his apartment. "Amanda?"

"In the kitchen," she answered.

He carefully put his keys on the table by the door, and walked toward the kitchen. He noticed the elaborate table, and let himself breathe easier for the moment. "I'm sorry for running late."

"No problem. Dinner won't be ready for a little while. Do you want a glass of wine?" Amanda offered a glass to her husband.

Lee walked up and put his arms around her waist. "Who are you and where is my wife? You remember her don't you? The one who wanted to kill me this morning?"

"She decided that she didn't want to be a widow just yet." Amanda gave Lee a long and intense kiss, and smiled at the surprise she saw on his face. "We just have to find another way to work through this," she told him.

"I think I'd like that," Lee answered noticing what she wore for the first time.

Amanda smiled at the look on his face. "I take it you approve?" She turned a full circle so he could admire the dress she had selected. Little and black, it accentuated her height and her figure.

"Oh, yes, most definitely." He held up his wine glass and toasted her silently.

"Well then let's go have a seat and enjoy ourselves," Amanda told him as she poured herself a glass and followed him over to the couch, wine bottle in hand. She smiled to herself as she watched Lee wait for her to sit down. Thankful for his ever present good manners, she carefully sat herself against the pillow that hid her surprise.

Lee sat next to her, and pulled her legs across his lap. "Do you want to talk about it?" he asked her.

Amanda shook her head and topped off Lee's glass of wine. "No, I'd just like to sit here quietly with you and wait for dinner to be ready." She sighed as Lee ran his hand up and down her lower leg. Amanda watched her husband start to relax. 'So content,' she thought to herself, 'that I almost feel guilty for what I'm planning.' But then she thought back to the events of the past several weeks and her resolve strengthened: before the weekend was out, this would be over one way or another.

A buzzer from the kitchen startled both of them. Amanda jumped up to check on the progress of the dinner. Once the roast was out of the oven and the stove was off, she returned to the living room. She approached her husband from behind and began to massage his neck.

"You're still rather tense, you know."

"Um hmmm... but you're helping." Lee's eyes remained closed as a slight smile played on his lips.

"Let's get that jacket off you," Amanda told him. "I don't know how you can wear this thing given how hot it's been lately." As Lee leaned forward, Amanda pulled the jacket backwards pulling her husband's arms behind his back. As the jacket slipped down his arms, she reached behind the pillow with one free hand. Lee felt the jacket slide past his wrists as he heard the cuffs snap on.

"Uh, Amanda?"

"Yes?"

"I think I'm overdressed for whatever you have planned," Lee teased.

Amanda sighed. He wasn't getting it, she realized. "No, you're not. Come into the dining room."

Lee looked at his wife with a puzzled expression, still thinking of the possibilities that might play out. He followed her silently.

Catching his look, Amanda told him "You're on the wrong track, Stetson. Sit!"

Lee took a seat at the dining room table, his hands still behind him. He watched as Amanda brought out the dinner and placed it in front of him. Next, she brought out her own plate, sat down, and proceeded to eat.

"Amanda, don't I get any?"

"It's right there," she told him, gesturing to his plate, as she cut her own roast.

"Amanda," he began to sound slightly annoyed, "do you want to tell me what's going on?"

"After dinner. I really don't want to talk on an empty stomach. It's been a long day. You really ought to have some, it's quite good."

Lee closed his eyes and took a deep breath. He should have known better. That second glass of wine hadn't been a very good idea. It had lowered his defenses, and landed him here, sitting at his dining room table unable to reach his own dinner. Although Amanda wasn't throwing things anymore, Lee found her behavior slightly more disturbing. He opened his eyes as he heard Amanda get up from the table and bring her dishes into the kitchen. She walked back to the living room, motioning for him to follow. Lee sat where she motioned him to sit, and waited for his wife to explain.

"Another glass of wine?" Amanda saw her husband glare in response. "Okay, sorry. Just trying to lighten the mood."

"It's not working."

"Not much is these days," she acknowledged, taking a deep breath. "We've tried talking and that hasn't worked. We've tried fighting, and aside from a few electronic casualties that hasn't worked either." Amanda stood up and began to pace. She hoped that he would understand her decision. "I'm sorry about that, Lee. I don't know what came over me except I was so tired of interruptions. Anyway, I've made a decision."

"You've made a decision?" Lee asked. "I thought 'we' made decisions."

"You've made certain decisions without consulting me." Lee had to admit to himself the truth of that statement. He waited while she continued. "This isn't my payback, Lee. It's a way of dealing with where we stand."

"And where is that?"

"If I knew that this would all be so much easier. We're partners, right?" Amanda watched as Lee nodded. "Yet you keep me from anything even remotely dangerous. I know you got scared when I got shot. I got scared. But I also get scared when you're out there without me." Amanda moved and sat next to her husband. She stroked his cheek. "I love you," she told him as she gave him a gentle kiss. "And yet sometimes I have the urge to strangle you."

"Like now?"

"No, I just needed a way to get your undivided attention."

"Well, you've got it....This decision of yours?"

"Lee, this isn't easy." Amanda fiddled with her hands on her lap. "And it's not a full and complete decision. More like a realization that something has to be done, and as I see it there are two paths to take, and you can have final say on which one to take right now."

"And the paths are?" Lee prompted.

"Well, we can go and talk to Mr. Melrose, and you can tell him that you've been behaving like an idiot lately and that your partner needs to be in the field with you and if, in the future, you forget that then he should remind you." Seeing the scowl on his face, she took a deep breath and continued. "Or, I can ask for a transfer."

"WHAT?"

"Let me finish, Lee. You know if our little secret gets out we won't be able to be partners in the field anymore. So, I can ask for a transfer out of the Q bureau, and we can announce our engagement and get married publicly." Amanda waited for this last part to register with Lee. "Listen, I miss you. Something has to give, you know? I've done a lot of thinking and I don't necessarily think my family will be in that much more danger given how much you're around right now anyway." She was about to say more when the phone rang. "Why don't I get that?"

"Good idea, given I'm a bit tied up," Lee replied sarcastically.

"Hello... yes, Mother." Amanda covered the phone with her hand. "I never should have given her this number!" she told Lee.

"No, Mother... Mother calm down!" Lee watched as Amanda's face changed from annoyance at the intrusion to apprehension. "You're right, he does need to go... Arlington is closest ... The doctor's phone number is on the freezer. You need to call there first and he'll probably meet you at the emergency room.... I'm on my way. Tell him I love him." She hung up the phone and sunk to the floor. Shaking her head, she picked herself up and started looking for her purse and shoes.

"What happened?" Lee wanted to know.

"Nothing, everything,.... blood."

"What?" Lee knew he should understand his wife better by now, but there were still those times she seemed to make no sense whatsoever.

"Phillip and Jamie were cleaning up after dinner and decided to play a game of catch with the glasses while putting them away. One of them missed, and Phillip was barefoot and between picking it up and stepping on it... well there's blood everywhere and Phillip probably needs stitches and I should go meet them at the hospital and make sure he's okay."

"Then let's go," Lee told her. "Just undo these and I'll drive you over."

"Nice try, Scarecrow. No dice."

"Amanda, your son is going to the emergency room!"

"For something relatively minor. I'll be back in a few hours. Until then behave yourself." She gave him a kiss while putting on her sweater. "And just in case you're looking for them, I have your lock picks in my purse." Taking a deep breath she gave him the rest of the bad news. "The cuffs have a sensor on them so if you try to leave the apartment you're going to get a small shock."

"Amanda!" Lee groaned with frustration. He realized she wasn't going to cut him any slack. "What am I supposed to do while you're gone?"

"Think on your choices. I love you and I'll see you soon. And don't worry about answering the phone. Billy thinks I've taken you away for the weekend so we can work out our professional disagreement." With that, Amanda left the apartment and locked the deadbolt from the outside.

Scene Five: 9:30 pm, Friday

Amanda entered the main waiting room to the ER and looked around for her mother and sons. Finally she saw Jamie sitting in a corner reading a book.

"Hi sweetheart, how are things going?" She gave him a kiss on the cheek.

"Not too bad," Jamie answered holding up his bandaged hands. "I didn't need stitches. Phillip is in there now with the doctor and Grandma. They said his right foot is worse than his left. I'm just glad I kept my shoes on."

"Well," Amanda began gently, "If you weren't tossing the glasses around it wouldn't have mattered."

"I know, Mom. We'll buy you some new ones."

"I think that would be a good start." Amanda gave her son a hug and he noticed her outfit.

"Wow, Mom! You look great." Jamie felt embarrassed all of a sudden. "Did we interrupt something?"

"Just dinner with Lee. He'll live." At that moment Dotty came toward them wheeling Phillip in front of her.

"Hi Mom," he began sheepishly. Upon noticing how his mother was dressed he continued. "Sorry to screw up your plans."

"You didn't screw up my plans, Phillip, but you may have messed yours up for a bit." Amanda looked at her mother. "What's the verdict?"

"He has to stay off his foot as much as possible until the stitches dissolve. No summer baseball."

"Well, that's not too bad," Amanda noted. "You guys owe me a new set of glasses, as well as a few weeks of cleaning the whole kitchen.

"Yes, Ma'am," both boys answered.

"Now, let me bring my car around and I'll help you all get settled in at home."

"What about your date, Amanda?" Dotty asked.

"Lee can wait, Mother. I'll head back over there once these two are safely home."

"You should at least call him." Dotty knew that, despite Amanda's comments to the contrary, this incident had interrupted something important. She remembered when Amanda bought the dress she was wearing, and she knew it had been saved for something special.

"I can't, Mother, he's having trouble with the phone at his apartment."

"If you say so, dear. Come on, let's get out of here."

Scene Six: 10:45pm, Friday

Lee sat on the edge of his bed looking into the nightstand drawer. The half rake was still there, taped to the side way back in the drawer. He knew he could reach it, yet still he didn't remove it. Instead, he sat staring into the drawer and thinking over the events of the last several months. Lee felt himself shudder as he remembered that morning at the harbor... the hole in the windshield of the rental car, the blood on Amanda's white sweater, the feeling that his heart had been ripped from his chest without him knowing what had happened.

He remembered the first case they worked on once she had fully recovered. Everything had been going fine and yet once it was over and he and Amanda were returning to the Agency Lee had to pull the car off to the side of the road. Amanda believed him when he said it must have been something he ate. But it had almost happened a second time the morning they met Harry and had been fired upon. It hadn't occurred again, but then Lee had been pulling every string he could to keep his partner out of the line of fire and in the office as much as possible. In his desperation to not let his fear hamper him, it had instead driven a large wedge in his marriage.

Lee looked at the clock. 'It's getting late,' he thought, 'I hope the boys are okay.' Shaking his head to clear his thoughts, he stood up and bent backwards to reach into the night stand drawer. Finally reaching his objective, he placed the item in his back pocket and went into the living room to lie down on the couch and wait for Amanda.

Scene Seven: 12:15 am, Saturday

Amanda quietly unlocked the apartment and entered slowly. Lee was on the couch, sound asleep and looking quite uncomfortable. Feeling guilty, she walked over and sat down in the chair across from him. Watching him sleep, Amanda wondered if her little plan would solve anything or if it would only heighten the tension that had come between them of late.

She thought back to the events following their honeymoon. At first, Lee seemed fine with having her with him in the field. But slowly he began to find more and more office based tasks for her to do. When he started to use Francine more, Amanda began to get angry. Lee refused to talk about what was behind his actions, but Amanda knew he was being driven by fear. Between his fear and their secret marriage, Amanda felt her life was being fragmented into more pieces than she could control.

Amanda hadn't meant to throw the phone this morning. She felt worse when she realized it had been attached to the answering machine and both pieces barely missed Lee's head. She had hoped that a romantic dinner would make him more amenable to discussing where things were headed, but at the last minute she got nervous and borrowed a pair of the new sensor cuffs from Leatherneck's office. Amanda shook her head, knowing that on Monday she was going to have to explain why she signed them out for the whole weekend.

Finally, she opened her purse and removed the small key. Sitting gently on the edge of the couch, she removed the cuffs from her husband and began to massage his wrists. He rolled over, and woke up realizing that his arms were finally free.

"How are the boys?" Lee asked tentatively as he rubbed his own wrists.

"They're fine. Bandages for Jamie and stitches for Phillip. They'll live." She leaned over and kissed him on the forehead. "I'm sorry. I guess I didn't handle this evening very well."

"No, you didn't," Lee told her. "But while you were gone I did have some time to think."

"And?"

"I don't want to lose my partner - not yet anyway."

"So you'll stop keeping me in the office?"

"I'll try, and yes, I'll ask Billy to keep me honest. Okay?"

"Thank you."

"Amanda, none of my actions were intended to anger or hurt you."

"I know that, Lee. I even understand what was behind them." She stroked his head, knowing how hard it was for him to have this conversation. "But I've finished my training, I even went back and redid Station One. I've improved at the shooting range...."

"I know all that, it's just..." Lee struggled, "I don't want to ever again have to see you in a hospital bed like I did when we were in California."

"And I don't want to see you in one either, but we know it's a risk for both of us. We just need to be careful. Together."

Lee sat up, and put his arm around Amanda, drawing her close to him. "You know, that other idea held some appeal as well."

"Coming clean you mean?"

"Yeah, think of it, no more sneaking out in the early hours of the morning to get home. No more trellis climbing, no more lonely nights..."

Amanda groaned. "You're doing this to torture me now, right?"

"No, I'm admitting that it's just really hard to keep some feelings hidden all of the time, Amanda."

"What are you saying?" Amanda asked as she felt her heart quicken.

"That although right now coming clean at the Agency isn't in the cards, it might be time to start with your family." Amanda watched as Lee reached into his back pants pocket and removed her engagement ring. "I had a helluva time getting this out of the box in the night stand, you know," he teased her. "Will you wear this Amanda King Stetson? Will you agree to marry me, again?"

Amanda looked into Lee's eyes, and felt the tears leaving her own. Slowly she nodded her head and whispered, "Yes, I will." She began to lean her head into his neck, but Lee took one hand and held her face up toward his own. He leaned into her and kissed her gently.

As they broke apart, Lee cleared his throat. "You know, I might be able to think of some more, um, entertaining uses for these," Lee teased as he dangled the cuffs in front of Amanda.

Scene Eight: 6:15 am, Saturday

Amanda sat at the table in her breakfast nook with a cup of coffee. Still in her dress from the night before, bare feet propped on the seat across from herself, she was lost in thoughts of the last several hours. She was glad that her family would finally have some concrete proof of the bond between Lee and herself. She and Lee would figure out the Agency side of things eventually... she knew that. For now she was relieved to have Lee's word that he would try to quell his overprotective behavior. Her mind began to wander to the events following their discussion and even now, alone in her kitchen, Amanda felt herself blushing at the memories.

"Good morning, Amanda," Dotty said and smiled as she watched her daughter jump up and spill some of her coffee.

"Mother! You startled me." Frantically reaching for a napkin to wipe the spill, Amanda noticed the look on her mother's face.

"Did you just get in, dear?"

"Um, yes," Amanda answered, not quite sure what to say.

"That's a lovely ring," Dotty stated as she walked to the coffee pot. "You should have worn that dress sooner. I'm sure Lee didn't stand a chance."