Disclaimer: This story is based on characters copyrighted by Warner Brothers and Shoot the Moon Productions. This story is meant for enjoyment purposes only and cannot be redistributed without permission from the author. I retain the rights to the plot, not the characters. No infringement is intended. Situation and dialogue taken from "Charity Begins at Home" written by Rudolph Borchert & Marshall Goldberg.

Date Written: October 2000

Special thanks to Andrea for your support and encouragement.

Synopsis: Lee has just been released from the freezer in "Charity Begins at Home." His fingers are numb so he needs help to trade outfits with the guard. Now, let's see, who is available to help him? Warning to lovesick fans: Contains scene where Lee's chest is bare.

Background: Remember the scene in "Charity Begins at Home" where Lee is locked in the freezer by the security guard? Amanda saves the day, and Lee, by hitting the guard over the head with a large pan. She releases Lee from the freezer and starts to rub on his upper arms to get the circulation going and help him to warm up. She says "This is the standard treatment for hypothermia." Lee then wants to change outfits with the guard as he feels too conspicuous in his formal white waiter's jacket. Now we all know that just one minute after being released from the freezer, his hands will be in no condition to work on those teeny tiny buttons of his shirt. He might need a little help from a friend.....

What are Friends For?

by Linda

(email: [email protected])

Lee had just stumbled out of the freezer. He was so cold he could barely walk or talk. Amanda vigorously rubbed Lee's upper arms trying to restore the circulation so he would warm up. Lee interrupted her actions by choking out, "Amanda, grab the guard's gun." She quickly did as he asked, and tried to hand him the gun, but his hands were too frozen to take it from her. So she gingerly put it into his pocket. She commenced the hypothermia treatment for a few seconds more.

"All right now then get him undressed."

"Get him undressed." It was more of a question than a statement as she wasn't sure she had heard him correctly.

"Yes, I want to slip into something a little less conspicuous." It was difficult for Lee to talk as he was so cold and uncomfortable.

Amanda grimaced, but did as she was told.

"Okay. I'll do everything except the pants."

"Suit yourself."

While Amanda struggled with the guard's jacket and shirt, Lee told her a little about the meeting he had overheard before being captured. He explained to her the shady deal Jerry Perrine had cooked up involving the commodities market. When she had the guard's clothing off his upper body, Amanda moved into the hallway so Lee could remove his own clothing and trade pants with the unconscious guard.

First Lee attempted to take off his tie. After struggling for a few seconds with the pain and numbness in his hands and fingers, Lee realized this was never going to work. Damn it, his fingers were useless. He would get that security guard later for throwing him in the freezer. But in the meantime...

"Amanda, get back in here." The impatience sounded in his voice. He was angry, half-frozen, and in a hurry to get out of there and go after Perrine.

She darted back to the doorway. "Yes, Lee?"

"My fingers still won't work. I need you to help me change clothes with the security guard."

"Well, Lee, I..."

"Well what is it?" he asked impatiently. "You undressed the guard with no problem. He's a strange man. You know me."

Amanda thought, of course, that's just the problem. And I want to know you better. But you don't know that I want to know you better. And if you did know that I want to know you better, you would.....oh my gosh, now even my mind is babbling! Aloud she tried to refuse by saying, "But Lee-"

"Amanda, come on, it's no big deal. I'll do the pants myself. Just help me with my tie and the buttons on this shirt. They are so tiny, and the way my fingers are not working right now, I can't get them undone. And we need to move fast on this and get out of here."

Amanda hesitated. She would like nothing more than to help Lee out of his shirt and she had done so many times-in her daydreams. But the real Lee in the flesh-oops, her mind was at it again-she didn't know if she could handle this. But he was looking at her impatiently.

The woman could be so exasperating! "Amanda. Let's go. I'm not trying to make a move on you here. This is just an assignment."

Of course. Right. Sure. She moved forward quickly.

Amanda came to stand in front of Lee. She helped him out of his jacket. She then reached her hands up to his tie. She suddenly felt like she was moving in slow motion. She undid the clip and the button and unfastened the tie, letting it fall to the floor. Next came the shirt buttons. She undid the first button. Okay, that wasn't so bad. On to the next. She was standing so close to Lee, she could feel his breath moving her hair. She couldn't look at him, just concentrated on her task. She took a deep breath and went on to the third button. They were the tiny white stud buttons like tuxedos have. Lee always looked so great in a tuxedo. Black was her favorite, but he really looked equally dashing in white. Of course Lee Stetson looked really good in anything he was wearing. Or not wearing, since his shirt was half-open by now. Amanda, don't think like that, she scolded herself. It's just your imagination working overtime. You know Lee doesn't think of you like that. You're friends and partners, no less, but nothing more. She sighed. Next button. She accidentally brushed his chest while she worked. She felt his intake of breath, but he didn't say anything. Her eyes had been focused entirely on his shirt front this whole time. There was no way she could look at him. One more button. His shirt was gaping open now and she couldn't help but stare. But just for a second. Okay the buttons were all undone now. Should she proceed any further? She didn't want to ask for fear he would tell her to just get on with it. She slowly pulled his shirt out of the front waistband of the pants. She then moved another step closer to him while her arms encircled his waist so she could reach the back of the shirt to pull it out. Her hands then grasped the crisp white fabric of the shirt front and moved to his shoulders where she began to push his shirt off.

Lee coughed slightly and cleared his throat. His hands were on hers, stopping her from any further action. His voice sounded strange as he stated, "Uh...uh, Amanda, that's fine. Thanks for the help. My fingers seem to be working better now. I can take it from here." Still no eye contact between them. Her eyes continued to stare straight ahead, and now that meant looking at his bare chest. She gave a small nervous laugh but didn't trust her voice to speak. She turned quickly away from him and moved a couple feet forward to give him room to maneuver. She was glad for a moment of privacy to take a deep breath and try to compose her runaway emotions. She reached forward to grab the security guard's shirt and flung it over her shoulder so he could take it from her when he was ready.

Lee had now removed the dress shirt and reached to take the guard's shirt from Amanda. She really had been a good sport about this. He didn't understand why his thoughts and emotions were careening out of control all of a sudden. It certainly wasn't her fault. Poor Amanda. She felt embarrassed and didn't want to help him undress. But there was no choice. They had to get out of here and Perrine's men would have seen him right off if he continued the waiter's disguise. And his damn fingers were so numb they wouldn't function.

So Amanda had done as he asked and came to stand in front of him. She didn't look at him, so he felt free to stare at her. His mood immediately softened when he looked at her. He loved those dark curls cascading to her shoulders. He wanted to reach out to feel their silky softness. She undid the tie and the first button. It felt like time was slowing as her fingers continued down the shirt front. She was wearing a white blouse open wide at the neck. Her skin looked tanned in contrast to the white fabric. A string of pearls graced her neck, looking lovely against her delicate skin. She was on the next button. The lovely scent of her perfume seemed to envelop them as they stood togther. As she continued to work the tiny buttons, his heart started to race and he felt like he couldn't catch his breath. Why was she having this effect on him? He longed to pull her close and feel his arms around her and bury his face in her fragrant hair. She accidentally touched his chest with her fingers. He drew in a sharp breath as he felt a jolt of electricity go through his body. He needed to keep a lid on his emotions and not let Amanda see what this was doing to him. After all, she wasn't doing anything intentional to cause him to feel this way. It was simply her nearness and her unbuttoning of his shirt which was causing his reaction to her. Now his shirt was completely open in front, and Amanda must be looking at his chest as there was no where else for her eyes to go since she was not able to look him in the face. He felt the urge to tip her chin up so she would have to look at him, and then cover her lovely face with kisses.

She seemed to hesitate now as if unsure as to whether she should proceed to work his shirt out of his waistband. She probably felt that if she said anything, he would think she was acting silly and tell her to just get on with it. So she continued. In fact, even though Lee's fingers still felt stiff and numb, he could have managed to pull out his own shirt. But he allowed her to continue. She had cast some sort of a spell over him so that he felt powerless to stop her. Then she put her arms around his waist while she reached to the back of his shirt. As she did so, her soft hair brushed against his chest, sending very pleasant shivers all over his body. When she began to remove the shirt from his shoulders, Lee stopped her gently. If this sweet torture went on any longer, he would forget about Perrine and his cohorts, and succumb to the unintended charms of Amanda King. His voice was none too steady as he thanked her for her help.

So he now took the shirt Amanda held out for him. As he shrugged into it, he realized he still was not able to work the buttons even though these were a little larger than those on the dress shirt. He took a deep breath and tried to speak nonchalantly, "I guess I need a little more help here, Amanda."

She turned back toward him and made quick work of buttoning up the gray shirt. She then said, "I'll just step out while you trade pants. Call me when you're finished and I'll help with the tie. Okay?" She gave him one of her wonderful smiles.

He smiled tenderly at her and nodded. He called her back after a minute or two, and she helped him with the tie. Amanda was the most amazing woman. In the space of five minutes she had disarmed the guard, rescued him from the freezer, helped him thaw out from the cold, and now she was tying his tie. How many women would even know how to tie a man's tie? When she finished, her hand gently patted his chest and smoothed the shirt front underneath the tie for a moment. She smiled up at him with sparkling brown eyes and cocked her head to one side. "Ready to go, Scarecrow?" she inquired as she tossed the guard's jacket and cap to him.

He grabbed her hand and they were off to catch the bad guys together. But when this case was over, Amanda would have fresh daydream material, and Lee would give some thought as to why this little Arlington housewife could cast such a spell on him without even trying.

The End