By: Pam (mailto:[email protected])
Disclaimer: The SMK characters in this story are the
property of Warner Brothers and Shoot the Moon Productions. Mbuto, Sweeney, and Hutchins belong to me,
as does the plot of this little excursion.
No money is changing hands in transaction, and nothing here is intended
to infringe on anyone or anything.
Please do not distribute or reproduce this story without the author's
Timeframe: mid - August, 1985, before 3rd
Summary: When Lee and Amanda unexpectedly spend a
weekend together, Lee realizes his life is due for some changes.
On-list or off. Please tell me
what you think.
Warnings: None required
Archive: At this site and at www.geocities.com/blueboxersandbeyond. Others ask beforehand, please.
Author's notes: I'd originally planned to use this idea in
an ABC challenge, but it had other ideas, refusing to let itself be written in
a timely manner. Hopefully the end
product is worth the wait. Thanks to
the queendom of beta readers for keeping me honest and for that occasional kick
in the rear to keep me going, and to my readers for letting me indulge in one
of my favorite pastimes.
"But Giselle . . ."
Lee Stetson paced across the room, telephone in hand. "I'm not exactly standing you up." He pulled the receiver away from his ear and
stared at it in frustration as a string of angry words poured forth. Somehow, at this instant, he found her
usually charming French accent anything but.
He sighed heavily and tried again to get through to the irate
redhead. "Just listen,
Giselle. Some unexpected complications
came up, and I can't get free until Sunday evening at the earliest."
He listened to her angry voice
again -- she had switched from English to French of a sort that he'd never
expected to hear from a mouth as lovely as hers -- then tried once more to
interrupt. "I know you have to
leave Monday afternoon, and if there's any way I can get free sooner . . .
Believe me, I didn't want this to happen.
I was really looking forw--"
He was cut off by the abrupt click of the other phone being
slammed down into its cradle. He glared
at the receiver and hung it up, also with more force than was necessary.
"Quarantined!" Lee snarled in disgust. "I thought quarantines were a thing of
the past." He scowled at the phone
once more before turning his back on the offensive instrument. He stood there, mentally replaying the
conversation with Giselle. Why did
things have to go so wrong this weekend?
"The circumstances are so unusual that Dr. Kelford didn't
have another choice, Lee. You heard
what he said. Until they have a better
idea of what's wrong with Mr. Mbuto, they can't let us be in close contact with
anyone else." In his irritation, he'd
forgotten about Amanda. He looked up
with a start and saw her, standing across the room from him. She wasn't looking at him, but instead was
busily studying the view from the seventh story window while she worried the
edge of the curtain with her fingers.
"I understand that," he snapped. "But I don't have to like it. I had plans for this weekend."
"Well, you weren't the only one," she countered,
turning toward him. "The boys'
Junior Trailblazer troop is doing a demonstration at the annual exhibition this
weekend. Having to tell them and Mother
that I was going to miss it was awful."
The regret lingered on her face only briefly. "But Dr. Kelford said we have to stay in quarantine for at
least two or three days. Hopefully the
whole thing will be over then, and we both can go back home . . .."
Lee was only half-listening to her, his mind still on
Giselle and the weekend that he'd planned.
He'd only seen Gisele a handful of times since he'd heard her singing in
a Geneva nightclub four years earlier, but he'd found that a weekend in her
company was guaranteed to sizzle. His
life had been getting complicated lately.
Unwanted thoughts and feelings were at his heels like hounds after a
fox, and he needed a break -- a distraction -- before he could start to get
things back under control. The best way
he knew to do that was in the arms of a willing companion. He hadn't just been looking forward to the
weekend with Giselle; he'd been depending on it.
Amanda's words finally caught his attention again. "At least Billy was able to get them to
let us stay here. Otherwise, we'd have
been cooped up in separate isolation rooms.
This way, we can at least keep each other company."
"I guess that's something," Lee conceded, grudgingly,
as he looked around the living area of the hospital's luxury suite, their home
for the duration, "but I had other activities in mind for this
weekend." He examined the room as
he spoke, as though he were looking for an escape route. "And my plans didn't include armed
guards outside the door. Hell! This is just a fancy prison."
"There's nothing we can do about that now, though, so
we'll just have to make the best of it."
He had started to stalk from one side of the room to the other, suddenly
knowing how a surly leopard on a short tether must feel.
He felt her eyes following
him. After a moment, she spoke
again. "Are you hungry? We could order something for dinner."
Something in the tone of her voice slowed his steps. "Yeah, I guess we should," he agreed
reluctantly, finally coming to a stop and looking at her. "We haven't had much to eat since we
left Rome Wednesday."
"And I'm starving," Amanda agreed with a tired smile as
she found the menus that had been left for them and handed him one. "Now, what do you want?"
It seemed to take forever for dinner to come, and when it
did arrive, the agent who brought it refused to enter the suite until they had moved to the far
side of the living room, as far from the door as possible. From that corner, they watched as the man
shoved the trays onto the table and hurried out, glancing over his shoulder as
if afraid they'd rush after him.
Lee looked from the closed door to Amanda's widened
eyes. Doc Kelford had told them of the
precautions to be taken by anyone coming into the suite, but seeing this fellow
agent's evident unease had obviously caught her off guard.
"It's all right, Amanda. The guy's a jerk."
He softly cupped her elbow in one hand and guided her to the table.
They ate in silence and remained in their places when they
had finished, each lost in private thoughts.
After a while, he roughly shoved his plate away and slammed his fist
against the table in front of him.
"So why did all this have to happen on my watch?" he
demanded, realizing that there was no answer to such a question. "This assignment should have been a
piece of cake. We were already in Rome
to deliver the security codes for the new communications system, so it was no
big deal to escort an informant back to D.C.
It should've been a snap."
"Nobody could have known what would happen, Lee,"
Amanda reminded him gently. "He
only had a headache and a little fever when we boarded the Air Force transport
at Aviano. Who'd have guessed that he could
get so sick, so quickly? I wasn't even
sure that he'd make it all the way to Andrews."
"Neither was I," Lee admitted, digging his fingers
into his already tousled hair.
"That's why I had a helicopter waiting for us when we landed."
He fell silent again, his thoughts returning to the
trip from Rome. Mbuto had grown
steadily worse, and, when they were still over three hours out from Andrews, he
had begun vomiting blood. It was
obvious to everyone that he was a very, very sick man, and Lee had tried
everything short of handcuffs to keep Amanda away from him. It hadn't worked, of course. In the end, they'd cared for Mbuto together,
trying to keep him as comfortable as they could. Now he felt his stomach knot, just as it had when he'd seen her
leaning over the sick man, her clothes and hands liberally spattered with
His fist once again attacked the table, this time with enough force to
make the dishes rattle and Amanda jump.
"Who told you to play Florence Nightingale? Why did you have to get so close to
him?" His voice rose as his
frustrations took control. "I
didn't need your help. I could've
handled it myself! Now we're both stuck
here, and it's all because, once again, you couldn't do what you were
told!" He was on his feet, his
chest heaving and anger blazing in his eyes as he leaned forward on
tight-fisted hands and glared at her across the table.
Amanda stared at him
with widened eyes, dumbstruck. When she
spoke, her voice chilled him with its softness. "That's right. I'm sure you could've handled it without
me. And I almost wish that I'd let you. Then I could've been home with my mother and
my boys, and you'd have had the whole weekend to yourself, cooped up in
here. But if I weren't around, who
would you find to blame?" Slowly
and deliberately, she put her napkin on the table, pushed her chair back, and
walked into her bedroom, firmly closing the door behind her. The click of the lock echoed in the sudden
Tension crackled in the air like static electricity before a
spring thunderstorm. He stared at the
closed door, the muscles in his jaw working furiously. Then he spun around, kicking the chair out
of his way as he stormed across the room to the window. 'How dare she walk out on me like that?'
He took a deep breath and leaned his
forehead against the glass, concentrating on the coolness of its surface in his
struggle to regain control. 'Because
you're a jerk, Stetson,' he finally admitted to himself. Her eyes had been defiant, but as she turned
away from him, he could see that the defiance was tempered by hurt.
Lee's wrath slipped away as suddenly as it had
appeared. Deflated, he righted the
chair and slumped into it, holding his head in his hands. 'Why do things always turn out like this
between us?' Yes, he was upset, even
angry with her for putting herself at risk.
'She should've stayed away from him.
If only she had listened . . .'
But she hadn't -- she never did -- and now they were here together.
up. And with the very person who was
the biggest complication in his life.
A wave of fatigue engulfed him;
it had been an extremely long 24 hours, and his plan to spend the weekend with
Giselle, to escape from his own thoughts, had been thwarted on a grand
scale. Still cursing his inability to
do anything about the current situation, he gave up and headed for his own bedroom. Maybe he could sleep away some of his
To be continued . . .