Rating: PG 13
Disclaimer: The SMK characters and the Agency belong to Warner
Brothers, Shoot the Moon Productions, and a bunch of other folks more fortunate
than I am. I am merely borrowing them for fun without profit.
This story is mine, however, so please don't reproduce without my permission.
EmilyAnn: You may archive this if you wish.)
Timeframe: This story takes place between 'Mission of Gold' and
'One Flew East.' Even though those episodes originally aired
only a week apart, I believe it would have taken several weeks for Amanda
to recover from the life-threatening injury she suffered in 'Mission of
Gold.' My story takes place toward the end of her recovery period.
Summary: Lee and Amanda start to deal with the emotional
ramifications of her injury.
THANKS to Dix, Kara and Tricia who each reviewed this story at various
points in time and offered encouragement and guidance.
Lee Stetson sat on the edge of the sofa in his Georgetown apartment.
He got up and slowly circled the room in an effort to dispel some of his
restless energy. Running one hand through his hair, he circled the
room a second time then returned to his perch on the sofa. Absently,
he picked up one of the sofa cushions and punched it with his fist.
God, he missed her! He missed her beautiful, adoring eyes and her
gentle, loving smile. He missed her soft, warm body. He missed
her low, husky voice. He even missed her nervous chatter.
He had barely seen her in two weeks, and he didn't know how much longer
he could stand it. He wanted to be with her all the time; he
wanted to hold her against him and never let her go again.
And yet, when he was with her, he pulled himself away, and he came back
to this empty, lonely place. He couldn't allow himself to. . . .
Lee shook himself mentally and got up to circle the room once again.
She was still weak, he told himself. He might hurt her if he. . .
. But he knew, deep inside, that wasn't the real problem. She
was stronger now, almost recovered. Nothing like those early days,
when she had fought for every breath, when she had willed her heart to
keep beating. And later, when he had supported her first, faltering
steps across the cold tile of the hospital corridor.
Glancing down, Lee twisted the gold band adorning the third finger of
his left hand. In a way, the ring was a symbol not only of his marriage
but also of the turmoil he had felt for the past month. How many
times had he slipped it on and off, as he passed through the roles of partner,
friend, boyfriend, and husband? He didn't know how Amanda had managed
to separate all of the segments of her life so effectively for the past
few years. The effort was exhausting. And even when he managed
to go through the motions, the feelings ate away at him; he couldn't
just hide them away in the velvet box where he stashed his wedding ring.
But at least he had years of practice in hiding his feelings.
The memories that haunted him were fresh and raw: Amanda's slender form
slumped in the seat of the rental car, her sweater covered in blood;
Amanda's pale face beneath an ancient oxygen tent, her shallow breathing
almost drowned out by the rustle of plastic and the steady "beep-beep-beep"
of the monitors; Amanda's eyes filled with tears of pain as she stumbled
against him on her first day out of the hospital bed.
Lee shook himself again. He wasn't going to play back all those
scenes. He couldn't. She was well now. She was strong.
Looking around the lifeless room, he took a deep breath and pulled himself
together. Yes, this is what he needed; this was his place to
escape. Unbidden, a small voice intruded. This was *not* what
he needed, it chided. He needed his wife. He needed to talk
to her, to tell her what he was feeling, to seek her guidance in dealing
with the terrifying memories. But how could he lean on her for emotional
support when she was still weak? How could he add more burdens to
the ones she already carried? Besides, when was he ever alone with
her? And the more time that went by, the more difficult it became.
He could hardly look at her anymore for fear of breaking down.
So deep was his reverie that the unexpected knock on his door made him
jump. He wondered briefly who it might be. He wasn't expecting
anyone. He didn't want to see anyone, anyone but her. He walked
slowly to the door, trying to shake the memories out of his head.
At least he would have a short distraction. But when he opened the
door, when he saw her standing there - almost as though his
heart had willed her to come - he froze.
She smiled shyly, almost nervously, as her husband looked down at her,
immobilized by surprise. "Hi stranger," she said in the low, husky voice
he had been longing to hear. "Care for some company?"
He stepped back wordlessly to allow her to enter, his mind still not
totally accepting that the one person he wanted, needed, dreaded to see
was suddenly standing in front of him. Unable to tear his eyes away
from her, yet unable to reach out, he settled for backing slowly toward
the living room, barely registering that she closed and locked the apartment
door before silently following him. Only when the back of his legs
brushed the coffee table did he finally halt his retreat. Again,
he couldn't allow himself to move. If he did, he would crush her
against him and hold on until Monday. Or a week from Monday.
Or forever. "Amanda," he said in a voice he knew was unsteady,
"what are you doing here?"
She smiled again, a little uncertainly. "Well, it's Friday night.
The boys are with Joe for the weekend. Mother is on a retreat with
her club." She paused, studying him closely. He knew
from the way she chewed slightly on her lower lip and fingered her pendant
that she was confused and nervous, but he couldn't reassure her.
He could barely breathe. Absently, he began twisting his wedding
band again. Finally, she took a deep breath and plunged on.
"And I was lonely. I missed you," she finished, a slight note
of pleading in her voice.
They were standing in Lee's living room, only a foot between them, but
Amanda sensed that the distance might just as well have been a mile.
His stance was rigid; his eyes hooded. He didn't seem even
the slightest bit glad to see her. He hadn't wanted to see her in
weeks. She didn't understand. Or maybe she did understand;
she just didn't want to accept it.
She dropped a small overnight bag on the floor. The thump startled
him; she doubted he had even noticed she was carrying it. He
glanced down at it, then back at her face, one eyebrow quirked, a question
in his eyes. The question wasn't the one she was hoping for.
"I thought you might miss me too," she added softly.
Lee stood stiffly in front of her, only the slight tic of his jaw muscles
belying his air of detachment. His voice was terse when he finally
spoke. "You shouldn't have come." A shadow of remorse crossed
his features as she flinched involuntarily, and when he finally spoke again
his voice was gentle. "You should be at home. You should
be resting. You'll tire yourself."
She sighed. For a moment, her shoulders slumped, and she considered
walking back out the door. 'No,' she told herself firmly. 'I'm
going to get through this. I have to. We can't keep going on
this way.' With renewed determination, she straightened and met her
husband's eyes. "I'm not going to tire myself, and you know it.
Or you should know it. The Agency doctor said I'm almost one hundred
percent." Steeling herself, she enunciated each of her next words
slowly and clearly. "I - can - do - anything - I - want
- to - do. Anything. " She paused again for emphasis.
"And I want to be with my husband.'
As she stopped speaking, she watched Lee, uncertain of what to expect.
The first few weeks after she had been shot, he had hovered over her so
protectively. He had barely left her side. But the last few.
The last two weeks she had barely seen him at all. And when he did
come by to visit, he seemed so, so. . . . She didn't know how to
describe it. He was still protective, still gentle, still tender.
His eyes still held that special glow when he looked at her. But
he didn't seem to want to touch her, or to let her touch him. When
she tried to put her arms around him, or to kiss him, even when her hand
brushed against his, he seemed to retreat into himself. Pull away.
And now he seemed to actually be avoiding her. She had to ask him.
She had to know.
"It's the scar, isn't it." It was a statement more than a question,
her voice soft and hesitant. He didn't say anything; he didn't
need to. She saw the slight hardening of his jaw, the tiny flicker
in his hazel eyes that told her she was correct. She lowered her
own eyes, hoping he wouldn't notice the moisture threatening to gather
there. Unconsciously, her left hand went to her blouse, faintly tracing
a small line across her chest. She swallowed and tried to continue,
her voice wavering. "It isn't as big as you might think. . . "
Her voice faltered as she tried to continue. "I know it isn't attractive,
but it isn't really that, uh, that. . . ." She stopped, unable
to say more.
Lee's chest tightened as he realized the implication of her halting
words. In the lengthening silence, his gaze moved slowly from the
tears gathering in her beautiful brown eyes, staring in a lost way toward
the floor, to the delicate hand trembling slightly at her breast.
Oh God, he thought, pain twisting his stomach, he had been so lost in his
own fears that he hadn't even noticed hers. How could he have let
her think. . . . "Amanda," he whispered, reaching through the
distance between them to take her small hand between his larger ones.
Closing his eyes for a moment, he tried to gather the strength to face
both their demons. "Amanda, look at me. Please." One
hand left hers to gently raise her chin so that she had to look into his
eyes. He swallowed the lump that had formed in his throat and continued.
"I don't care what the scar looks like. I swear I don't. If
you had a hundred scars, you would still be the most beautiful, desirable
woman in the world."
He watched the words sink in. He saw the haunted look recede from
her eyes to be replaced by a look of confusion. She shook her head
slightly, as if to clear it. "But, then , why? " The words
were almost inaudible.
Slowly, he gathered her into his arms and held her tightly against him.
For a long moment, he simply held her there, breathing in her fresh, delicate
fragrance, searching for the words to make her understand. "I don't
care what it looks like," he repeated, his voice stronger.
"But it's a reminder, a reminder that I almost lost you. I didn't
want to think about it anymore. Think about you lying in that hospital
bed fighting for life. " He paused, closing his eyes again before
opening them to gaze once more into hers. "Those first few days.
I've never been so lost. Even when I was five, when my parents died.
I don't think I could have survived if, if. . ." His voice trailed
away; his head turned slightly, his eyes staring unseeingly over
her shoulder. He still couldn't say the words out loud: '.
. . if you had died.'
She hadn't even realized she was holding her breath until she was able
to slowly let it out. She knew how difficult this was for him.
He was a man of action. Words, feelings: they didn't come easily
for him. Slowly, she wrapped her arms around his neck, drawing his
head down onto her shoulder. "I can't make the memories go away,
any more than I can make the scar go away. But both will fade with
time. Please don't let them tear us apart. I don't think I could
He lifted his head and looked once more into her eyes. "No," he
breathed with a slight shake of his head. She trailed one hand tenderly
down his cheek, and he turned slightly to press a kiss into her palm. "I
love you, Amanda" he promised. "Nothing will ever change that."
"Show me," she urged, her eyes never wavering from his face as she pressed
closer and moved her hand to caress the hair on the back of his neck.
His arms tightened around her as he gazed at her intensely. "Are
you sure? I mean, are you sure it's okay; you're okay?"
"I'm sure," she said softly as she leaned in to brush her lips lightly
With a groan, he lowered his head and covered her mouth with his, pouring
all of his pent up emotions into a kiss so passionate it left both of them
gasping. Then he slipped an arm under her knees and lifted her into
Much later, as they lay snuggled together in Lee's large bed, she took
his hand in hers and slowly, gently, traced one of his fingers down the
thin, red line of her scar. His tension, and her
tension, had been dissipated at least temporarily by their lovemaking.
As his finger touched the scar, his eyes found hers. His look was
gentle, adoring, content. He couldn't hide it from her, though.
She could still see that faint flicker of fear, of pain, lurking behind
the love and the strength. She knew the memories and feelings evoked
by the scar would be part of him for a long, long time. "I
know you can't help thinking about it," she whispered, "But
when you do, try to remember how hard I fought to stay with you."
At her words, he smiled slowly, wonderingly. "What did I do to
deserve you?" he murmured. Then he leaned down and slowly traced
the thin, red line with his lips.