for disclaimers, notes, ratings, ect.-see Part 1

Chapter Ten-Conclusion

Tuesday, December 23, 1997

9:30 PM

"Where's Jenna?" Lee asked Amanda. "I could've sworn that the last
curtain call was ten minutes ago."

"It was," Amanda said. "But you know Jenna-she always has to say
goodbye to Lisa first."

"I swear those two are attached at the hip," Lee said. "Are you sure
you didn't give birth to twins?"

"Mr. and Mrs. Stetson-I thought I'd find you two back here," Shelley
Hunter said, smiling brightly as she walked towards Lee and Amanda.
She was holding a large gift bag. Reaching into the bag, Shelley
handed Lee a small jewelry box. "This is to say thank you -without
parents like you I don't think this night would have happened."

Lee opened the box. Inside there were two matching Nutcracker pins,
gleaming against a background of red velvet.

"Thank you," he said, putting the box into his pocket.

"I almost canceled the whole thing, you know." Shelley said. "But then
I thought about Lillian and how she loved teaching the children-she
would've wanted the show to go on. Brad would've too, before he-well
you know."

"Well it was a beautiful performance," Amanda said. "I'm sure Lillian
would be pleased."

"Thank you, Mrs. Stetson," Shelley said, her eyes brimming slightly
as she spoke. "Now if you'll both excuse me, there are other parents
to thank as well. Have a Merry Christmas."

Just then Jenna came backstage.

"I'm sorry I took so long," she said. "But Lisa wanted to tell me
about something that happened at school and I guess we just lost track
of time."

"We understand," Lee said. "This is for you-flowers for the ballerina
on her opening night." He handed Jenna a small bouquet of red and
white carnations.

"They're so pretty," Jenna said. "I love carnations. How did I do?"

"Sweetheart it was wonderful," Amanda said.

"I think I got turned around during the maypole dance though," Jenna
said. "I went under when I was supposed to go over and Carl Mitchell
stuck out his tongue at me."

"Well no one noticed," Lee said, ruffling Jenna's hair.

"That's good," Jenna said. "Carl's never liked me anyway-he told me
that his mom said that I said I wanted to assassinate him in nursery
school with a microdot or something. Isn't that weird?"

Lee and Amanda exchanged a glance. "I'm sure that Carl just
misunderstood, sweetheart," Amanda said.

"Here they are," Billy said, as he and Francine walked backstage.
Billy was carrying a large teddy bear with a red ribbon around his
neck. "For you," he said to Jenna. "It was a lovely performance."

"Thanks, Mr. Melrose," Jenna said, taking the bear. Lee could see that
Jenna was struggling to hold both things at once, so he held the bear
for her.

"Why, hello there!" A tall woman with upswept platinum hair walked
over to Lee. "I must say that I was surprised to see you on stage with
the other parents. It's been a while hasn't it, Lee? Over 15 years."

"At least," Lee said. "Jill Klatchen, I'd like you to meet my wife
Amanda and my daughter Jenna. You know Billy and Francine, of course.
Everyone, this is Jill Klatchen, a reporter for The Washington
Post-she once assisted the Agency on an assignment." He added hastily
in response to his wife's questioning glance.

"Nice to meet you, Ms. Klatchen," Amanda said, extending her hand,
which Jill shook.

"It's nice to meet the person who was able to get Lee to settle down."
The reporter said to Amanda. "And this is your daughter," Jill turned
her attention to Jenna. "You were one of the girls in the party
scene, weren't you?"

"Yes ma'am," Jenna said. Lee could see that his daughter was blushing.

"Well you were really wonderful," Jill said. "Plus, you've got your
dad's great smile."

"Thank-" Jenna began, but her voice was cut off as Debbie Morgan's
voice filled the backstage area.

"Ms Klatchen, there you are," Debbie said breathlessly. She was still
wearing the green dress from the party scene, although the headdress
was slightly askew. "Why are you talking to these people when I
promised you an interview with my daughter?"

"For your information," Jill said. "I never said that I was going to
interview your daughter. And if I was going to do interviews, Terri
wouldn't be the only one."

"You promised my husband!" Debbie said, her finger stabbing the air
accusingly. "And unlike this –child you're talking to, my child is an
actual star."

"Now just wait a minute," Amanda began, turning to Debbie. Jill held
up her hand.

"It's not worth it, Mrs. Stetson," she said. "I'm leaving-it was nice
to see you again, Lee-and I really enjoyed meeting your family. Excuse
me."

"Ms. Klatchen, please!" Debbie said, but the reporter didn't turn
around.

Debbie turned to glare at the Stetsons.

"This is your fault," she said. "Someone's going to pay for this, I
promise you." As Debbie turned to go, Francine stepped on the back of
the woman's dress. There was a loud ripping sound as the dress tore up
the back.

"Oh, I'm so sorry," Francine said mildly. "You'll probably want to get
that fixed, won't you?"

Stifling a strangled cry with her hand, Debbie glared at them all
before running out of the backstage area.

"Francine, that really wasn't funny," Amanda said, even though she was
smiling.

Lee looked at Billy, who had his lips pressed tightly closed and was
trying his best not to laugh.

"No," Lee said, putting his arm around Amanda. "That wasn't funny at
all, was it Billy?"

Billy shook his head, but a suspicious sounding snicker passed his lips.

"Cute, Stetson," Amanda said.

"Well I thought it was funny," Jenna said, looking up at her parents'
faces.

"Jenna," Amanda began.

"You know what, Jenna? So did I." Francine smiled, briefly patting
Jenna on the arm. She looked down at her watch and the smile vanished.
"I better get going. I'm supposed to pick Mom up from the airport and
I'm running late as it is. Bye all-Merry Christmas."

"Well, I really should be getting home to Jeannie," Billy said. "So
I'll have to say goodnight and Merry Christmas."

"Merry Christmas," Lee said.

Dotty came backstage as Francine and Billy were leaving, followed by
Jamie and Philip.

"Fellas!" Amanda said happily as her sons gave her a hug. "I didn't
expect you until tomorrow."

"We decided to come earlier, to beat the holiday traffic," Jamie said.
"And plus we wanted to see the munchkin's ballet-which was really good
by the way."

"Yes it was," Dotty said.

"Why don't we all go out and celebrate?" Philip said. "My treat."

"Nice try, wormbrain," Jamie said, lightly punching his brother in the
arm. "It's way past Jenna's bedtime."

"Jamie, don't call your brother a wormbrain," Lee and Amanda said at
the same time.

Jenna tugged at Lee's hand. "Can't we go out somewhere Dad?" She
said. "I'm really not sleepy." The last word was punctuated by a
yawn. "Really."

"Why don't we go back to the house?" Lee said, not wanting to
embarrass Jenna by reminding her that she'd just gotten over the flu
and still wasn't back to full strength. "You can watch your new
Rudolph video in bed with some hot chocolate."

"Hot chocolate with marshmallows, right?" Jenna said.

"Yes, with marshmallows," Amanda said,taking Jenna's bouquet while she
helped her put on her coat and hat.

Jenna hesitated, and then nodded. "I am a little tired," she said.

"I thought you might be," Lee said. "Come on guys, let's go." It was
snowing as they left the community center, soft flakes falling from
the sky and forming a thin layer on the ground. Lee put his arm
around Amanda and she leaned against him as they walked towards the
car. Jenna threw a snowball at Philip's back and then shrieked as he
picked one up to throw at her.

"Jamie, save me!" Jenna yelled, hiding behind her brother.

Dotty picked up a snowball of her own. It hit Philip's chest and he
threw up his hands in mock surrender. Amanda laughed.

"You know what, Mrs. Stetson?" Lee said, looking down at his wife's
face.

"What?" Amanda said.

"I think this is going to be one of the best Christmases we've ever
had." Lee said.

Amanda smiled. "I'm with you there, big fella," She said.

The End