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Timeline: A few years after Lee and Amanda are married publicly.
There was something to be said for marriage, Lee mused. He wished he could visit his younger self, ten years ago, and tell him of the joys of being married to a good woman. He'd lucked out, he knew, on finding this particular woman, who was exactly right for him in ways he hadn't even begun to discover yet…but he'd been so scornful in the past of so-called happily married men. He'd thought they were missing out on all life had to offer, stuck in one place with one woman.
Little did he know how wrong he'd been.
It went beyond the simple creature comforts that most wives provided, though he knew Amanda had spoiled him completely. Someone to come home to, someone to clean up after him on days he was too tired to do anything but tumble into bed, someone to cook him a hot meal on a cold night, or to let him steal her freshly baked cookies.
Those were some of the smaller things Lee treasured so much about his new life – he was finally sharing it with someone. Someone who would pick up the slack when he couldn't, who would take care of him when he needed it. Someone to whom he was more than happy to return the favour.
But ten years ago, if a man had told him about all these things, Lee still would have scoffed. They were trading in the excitement and fun of the single life for a few basic and unnecessary comforts a man could get from his mother.
Now, though, Lee was only beginning to realize some of the things his married friends and acquaintances had only ever hinted at, only ever implied in veiled euphemisms. If he could have met his younger self on the street one day, the stories he could've told would have curled the younger man's hair.
Being with only one woman was far from restrictive, he'd realized. It gave him far more freedom – there was no pressure to perform, to maintain his skilled reputation. Instead, he got pleasure from seeing a normally strong woman, who'd seemed all but completely immune to his charm at the start, reduced to shudders at his very touch. He relished the challenge. His pleasure came from bringing hers.
And he didn't have to worry about what a woman might think of him in the morning, didn't have to stop himself from showing even a shred of vulnerability. His wife had held him together through the roughest of times, and if their nights together overwhelmed him every now and then, she only seemed to love him all the more.
The emotional connection he'd been missing all those years as a lonely young man was something he didn't think he'd ever be able to explain to someone who hadn't already experienced it. His younger self still would have laughed it off, saying he didn't need anyone; he was perfectly happy the way things were.
But Lee knew one thing his younger self would have understood immediately.
Little had he realized, before he'd been with Amanda, how a committed relationship could release one's inhibitions. He had tried things with her that he never would have dreamed of doing with a woman he never planned on seeing again. Sometimes they'd ended disastrously, with the couple dissolving into giggles at their humourously failed attempts. But other times, they had been able to attain a level of pleasure he'd never imagined possible outside of fantasies.
And it was not only his own inhibitions that were lowered, but hers as well. Seeing his normally conservative wife trying out all the bizarre things they could think of – well, it was more of a turn-on than any of the women in his little black books putting all her effort into seducing him.
And to the younger Lee, that definitely would've been saying something.
He'd never realized quite how much marriage would affect him. Far from becoming bored with the same woman in his bed every night, he'd actually discovered that he couldn't get enough of her. Every time they were together was better than the last, it seemed; their shared memories of each encounter only served to bring them closer, and to make them more desperate for each other. His younger self would have laughed, but Lee never felt 'stuck.' He simply didn't want anyone else. No one else could possibly hold any interest for him anymore, not after knowing firsthand what a spitfire Amanda could be.
There was something to be said, too, for the chance to get to know every aspect of a woman's personality. Other women he'd been with had developed a 'bedroom persona,' so to speak – and for that matter, so had he, always putting what he thought was his best foot forward. But there was a certain joy in seeing the different sides of Amanda – sometimes sweet and romantic, other times playful and teasing – and sometimes an absolute tigress. He'd been surprised and delighted upon discovering each of Amanda's moods and methods, enjoying the privilege of being the one man to see them all, unleash them all.
And something else Lee had never really had the chance to experience when he'd been playing the field was the joy of exploring one's boundaries. Since he and Amanda had bought their new house a few months ago, they'd christened nearly every flat surface in the house – and quite a few walls, too. Every room he walked into held at least one extremely arousing memory.
The younger Lee would have been intrigued by this; a little baffled by the ability of one woman to keep him happy, but definitely curious about exploring every room in the house. Especially a house he would have to share with that woman every day, full of those memories staring them in the face. The closest the younger man would have been able to come to understanding this would be if he'd had to go undercover with Francine during their brief but torrid affair. They probably would have had sex on every available surface…
But after a few days, especially if the relationship had gone sour at that point, Lee probably would have been uncomfortable rather than aroused at the constant reminders of their previous encounters.
No, there was no way the younger Lee would have ever understood what he would one day find with the most unlikely of candidates.
But if he'd been able to see the stars in the eyes of his future self when Amanda King walked in the room, the self-satisfied look on his face as he introduced the beautiful woman as his wife, the slight blush accompanied by a Cheshire grin when a young bachelor tried to tell him what he was supposedly missing out on…
Young Scarecrow would definitely have been intrigued. And maybe, just maybe, he would have realized that perhaps he wasn't so content with his life after all.
So Lee knew exactly what he was talking about when a younger agent would be sitting across the table from him in the break room, bragging about some of his more recent exploits, and shaking his head at the idea of ever settling down.
Lee would only smile fondly at his memories, and say, "Just wait. If you're lucky, you'll understand one day."
And when the younger agent would inevitably scoff at Lee's words, he would only laugh.
"You think I'm the one who's missing out?" Lee would shake his head. "I know exactly where you are right now. I've been there. I know exactly what that is like. You're the one who doesn't know what you're missing."
"I hope I never do," the younger man would say cheerfully.
And Lee would smile. "If you're smart, you'll eat those words. Maybe not soon, but one day."
Sometimes, Amanda would enter the room just then, wondering where her husband and partner had disappeared to. "There you are, Scarecrow," she'd say, and his eyes would light up upon hearing her voice.
The younger agent would shake his head or roll his eyes. Sure, Amanda Stetson was a good-looking woman. But that was no reason for a man to make a fool of himself…
"Any plans for the weekend?" Lee would ask his wife.
She would smile mischievously. "Well, the boys are away this weekend…" There would be a twinkle in her eye as she sauntered over to Lee and bent to whisper something in his ear. His eyebrow would raise, and his eyes would be instantly full of desire when he looked up at her.
Then, to the younger agent's amazement, he'd clear his throat and stand quickly, grabbing his wife's hand. That Cheshire grin would be back on his face when he said:
"Oh, you'd better hope you're lucky enough to understand one day."