By: AKA Amanda
Summary:I can't it would ruin the story.But Amanda does get a codename.
Disclaimer:These characters belong to Warner Brothers and I only borrowed them for a little bit to write this story and what fine characters they are
Author's Notes:The lyrics to the song in this story are from Martina McBride.I am a HUGE fan of hers and absolutely adore the song. The lyrics as well as the song are by NO MEANS mine.I just wanted to use the lyrics to help with this story.and feel if you were to listen to them while reading the story it would help with the effect. This is not my first fanfiction just my first for this list...if it is received well I will continue posting stories. So please feedback....both for my ego and to continue building on my writing techniques.
Lee walked aimlessly through the house. Entering the kitchen, from the back door, he brushed his hand across the island that stood in the center of the floor. Walking past the pantry he noticed her apron was hanging from its hook, a sign of how quickly she had left. Going into the living room he dared not look at the sofa, the sport where they had spent many a nights cuddled together watching movies and enjoying each others company. Many of those nights had come long before they had ever told anyone about their relationship, even before the boys had known him.
Smiling through his pain he remembered back to those nights when only being together was what mattered. They could spend days tracking down their case and making sure the country was safe from terrorists, drug dealers or gun smugglers and yet just being together on the sofa, watching television, eating some popcorn and having her in his arms was enough to almost forget the dangerous life they led.
He walked up the stairs and into their bedroom. This was by far the hardest room to enter day after day. After Amanda had left Lee had slept on the sofa for nearly two months. Partially because he was trying so desperately to find her he would work into the early morning hours and would fall asleep out of sheer exhaustion. Yet the main reason was because Lee couldn't bear the thought of falling asleep and waking up in their bed without his beloved Amanda there in his arms.
The bedroom still wore a faint smell of her. He had kept things just as they were before she left except for the clothes littering part of the floor and the huge chair that sat in the corner. Amanda had been trying to get him to be neater, picking up his clothes and putting them in the hamper that was only a couple feet away, in their bathroom. But he chalked it up to the fact that he had been a bachelor for so many years breaking him would be tough. He really would have to try harder especially when he found her.
Sitting for a second, on the bed, he closed his eyes and remembered all the times he had climbed the trellis, outside their window. When Amanda had first started at the Agency it had been just discussing cases yet as they both began to express their true feelings for the other their rendezvous became more frequent and after their marriage he would spend the night only to sneak away just as the sun was popping up over the Easter horizon. It was then they realized the night wasn't long enough and they had always wanted just a few more minutes. Yet who knew how short life really was. Lee was just thankful he had told her he loved her before she had disappeared. She knew how much she meant to him and that he would always love her. Maybe that was why this was so tough.
Their line of work was never dependable. One minute you were fine working in the office, on paperwork, and the next minute you could be gone. He had to find her she was his entire life and nothing seemed to make sense without her. Everyone dreams of that one special person and some are lucky enough to find that one that seems just perfect for them. Yet Lee hadn't ever imagined someone as wonderful, beautiful and intelligent as his wife. Falling for her had been too easy. Admitting it on the other hand had been the tough part, yet now she was gone and he didn't know if he would ever see those loving eyes or hold her tiny frame again in his arms. The one thing he was sure of Lee was going to find her he had to because his heart wouldn't rest until he knew what had happened.
Sighing Lee picked up the novel and headed back down the stairs. He wasn't really a lover of books but he needed something to keep his mind occupied until the boys came back in. So going back down the stairs he went to the sofa that had been the spot of many romantic evenings and lay down. Opening the book to chapter one he was quickly lost in the pages of the latest Tom Clancy novel as his eyes slowly closed.
They were running through the forest. Branches slashed his arms and face as they worked their way farther and farther into the dense trees. Slowing down he glanced back and stopped. She had been right behind him.he knew she had.
"Amanda!" He shouted back into the trees. "Amanda!"
"Lee, you have to keep going. Take care of the boys." He could hear her but he couldn't see her.
"Lee.Lee.Lee." Lee opened his eyes and exhaled finding he was looking into the eyes of his stepsons.
"You were dreaming again." Philip said as the boys sat down. They had come to lean on their stepfather more than they ever thought possible.
"You were dreaming about Mom." Jamie added and Lee noted the hurt in his voice.
"How about we head out to the park. We can shoot some hoops or something." He said quickly changing the subject. The boys nodded in agreement and headed up the stairs to change.
Sighing heavily Lee sat up and ran his hands through his light brown hair. The chronic lump in his throat had returned and his heart was breaking all over again.
"Oh.Amanda, what happened to you? Where did you go?" In the matter of 24 hours his life had been changed along with that of Philip, Jamie and Dotty.
He and Amanda had been working on a standard procedure case. Nothing out of the ordinary had happened at all. Which was sometimes a bad thing as they waited for something to happen, yet when nothing did they quietly slipped into the night and headed back to the office. They had planned on taking the weekend off to reacquaint themselves. Lee had sent Amanda home to pack and he would meet her there after finishing up the paperwork. A few months earlier they had told her family about their marriage and then earlier that week had told the Agency. Keeping their marriage secret had proved to be harder than planned they felt it was easier this way. Yet arriving at home that night Lee found that Amanda had never arrived and no one had heard or seen her since. Now nine months later he was still having nightmares trying to find her.
"Lee, we're ready." Philip said as they boys ran down the stairs. He smiled noting that Jamie hadn't changed but instead carried his camera. He knew even before he had moved in, a year ago, that the boys were complete opposites but living with them proved it even more. He loved them both as if they were his own and was thankful Joe hadn't fought for custody. Their father, Joe, was still traveling around the world, now with his wife Kari. If Lee had lost the boys he wasn't sure how he would make it everyday. They were all he had left of his Amanda.
Piling into the Explorer the three men headed for the park to spend some quality time together. Lee still had the Vette; he kept it stored in the garage. But he knew he needed something larger to take the boys around and run errands. Having left full time status at the Agency he knew there was no real need for the fancy sports car. Who knows maybe someday he would pass it on to Philip.
Arriving at the park Jamie headed off to snap pictures while Philip and Lee went to shoot some hoops. Awhile later the two were ready for a break and went to get a drink. "Hey Philip, why don't you go get Jamie and we'll head home. I'm sure your grandma will have supper ready." Nodding Philip headed towards the pond to get his brother. Lee reached down to get the basketball and standing back up he stopped.
"Amanda?" He said half to himself seeing the brunette sitting on the park bench just a few feet away. Moving quickly towards her the woman stood and moved toward the grove of trees. Lee took off in a sprint he had to reach her to make sure.
"Lee.Lee!" Philip shouted as he and Jamie came running up to him and Lee turned to face them. "We're ready to go." Looking back towards the trees he found himself staring at nothing. He knew it had been Amanda and he would find her. Her eyes had been hidden behind the sunglasses yet Lee would know Amanda anywhere and in any disguise. Lee was trained to spot people and he had. Now he just had to figure out where she was staying and go get her. But why had she run? He had known something was wrong from day one, with Amanda leaving without a trace, but now he had this terrible feeling in the pit of his stomach that this case needed to be solved quickly or else he may never see her again.
As Lee drove the boys home he talked to both of them, asking about their day and wondering what kinds of pictures Jamie had taken at the park. Philip began giving him a hard time about nearly beating him at one on one. As they arrived at the house Lee dropped the boys off and told them he needed to run a couple errands but to tell their grandma that he would be back in a couple hours and that he would find something to eat.
Driving off Lee knew where he needed to go. There was only one person he could turn to about this. For some reason he was having trouble at the Agency. After Amanda had left he had tried to stay a full time agent yet it wasn't long and Billy had pulled him in. It seemed that Dr. Smyth had closed Amanda's case and Lee was being ordered to Brazil for six weeks. Lee couldn't' do that to the boys and he couldn't leave not knowing where Amanda was. So he had decided instead to drop to part time status. Yet he was feeling a lot of pressure from the suits to leave completely. That discussion would come after he found Amanda. Right now he needed the Agency even in the limited fashion he had access to. But at least he still had Billy and Francine they were going to bat for him and even though no one had really found anything he was thankful he could at least count on a few of his old friends.
"Billy, it was Amanda. I know it was her." Lee said later that night as he stood in Billy's office. After dropping the boys off at the house with Dotty he had headed in.
"Come on Lee, you and I both know that you have thought you saw her at least a dozen times over the past nine months."
"I know that Billy, but this time it's different."
"Lee, you know I thought highly of Amanda but this has to stop. Now I've been putting my butt on the line for you long enough. Dr. Smyth has been on me to cut your clearance. Now you either come back full time or you'll be out of a job. I'm sorry but we can't hold your head up much longer."
"Billy, give me a week if I haven't found her by then we'll go from there."
"Okay Scarecrow, you have one week. Just don't let Dr. Smyth catch you around here, he's out to make sure you are gone for good." Lee nodded and headed out the door. He knew it had been Amanda at the park. They had shared a bedroom, been partners for several years. He would know Amanda anywhere and know he just had to figure out where she had gone to any why.
"Stupid.stupid.stupid.Amanda get that close and almost get caught." Amanda sat in her apartment reprimanding herself. But she needed to see her sons...to be near her husband. But being seen could mean bad things for the boys and Lee. No she had to stay out of sight. Her eyes filled with tears as she longed to be with her family. Their wedding anniversary was coming up and she had to find a way to see them without putting them in danger.
"Lee.I love you." She whispered to herself as if someone might be listening in. For nine months she had been hiding out on orders from Dr. Smyth. She remembered when she had been ordered to leave everyone she loved behind; it seemed like ages since Lee had held her in his arms but she couldn't risk their lives just so she could be near them.
Leaving the Agency that night Dr. Smyth had caught her and taken her into his office. She had been shocked that he wanted to speak to her alone considering the only time she ever saw him was with Billy and Lee. As she sat on the mahogany chair he offered she was handed a manila envelope with an entirely new identity. Dr. Smyth informed her that under no circumstances was she ever to speak to Lee or her family again. He had said that men were after her and her alone and that if she returned everyone would be killed. That night as she left the Agency for the last time she knew she was leaving her entire being behind. She had no real want to live and only wanted to be with her family. Yet the thought that her being around would get the killed was enough to keep her away. But now nine months later she needed to see her husband and family.
After moving to Detroit she had started going back over things in her mind and trying to figure out who might be after her. Using the resources Lee had taught her over the years she had found out that the person after her was none other that Dr. Smyth. From what she had found out after her and Lee announced that they had indeed gotten married Dr. Smyth decided he needed to put an end to their duo. Instead of realizing that they were the best team the Agency had, he stuck to his theory that partners should never be romantically involved. Everyone knew that Dr. Smyth had been out to get Lee from nearly day one so Amanda figured this had been his way of getting rid of both of them. The only problem Amanda had now was how to get back to her family without killing them. Coming back to D.C had been the start of her plan but she had to stay out of sight if Dr. Smyth caught her everyone might be killed and that was a risk she wasn't willing to take. Her plan would go into action soon.
There you are in the early light of day
There you are in the quiet words I pray
I've been blessed by the simple happiness
Of the perfect love we've made
Lee sat on the sofa later that night. The boys and Dotty were sound asleep. Sprawled out on the coffee table were the last twenty cases he and Amanda had worked on. He had been over them at least a dozen times and nothing added up. Nothing with any of the cases had been unusual and yet his wife was gone.
"Amanda King, you are the best, the bravest, the smartest, most beautiful woman I have ever known." "I love you." "Will you marry me?" "Marry you? Oh yeah I'll marry you. We're the luckiest two people on the face of the Earth."
Their anniversary was coming up and it would be their first one apart. Grief was beginning to overtake the once cunning agent. He was finding himself unsure of many things, one being what he had done all his life. At one point he thought there was nothing more important than being an agent. But meeting Amanda had forever changed him. She was his entire world and without her in his life being an agent no longer satisfied him. His life was empty now.incomplete.
Her skin felt silky on his fingertips and he felt her lips on his. The sun was rising slowly over the Eastern horizon and neither wanted to get out of bed. She laid her head on his shoulder closing her eyes. Running his fingers through her hair he yearned for just an hour longer. They had thought disclosing their marriage would help them with these types of situations yet it only made it worse. The positive side was they had gotten much closer.
"Lee, I love you so much. Being with you had made me the happiest person on earth."
"Amanda Stetson, having you with me has completed my life." Leaning over he captured her lips in his just as the alarm rang. Reaching over to turn it off Lee found himself having no luck.
Opening his eyes Lee sat up confused until he realized he had crashed on the sofa and the ringing was the doorbell. At eight on a Saturday morning he was curious who would be at the door.
Mr. Stetson?" A scrawny high school boy asked.
"Telegram, please sign here." Obliging Lee signed the paper and taken the telegram he moved back towards the living room and the sofa. Staring at the envelope he was interested what would be inside. Slowly easing the note out he was stunned.
I know I shouldn't be doing this as I am putting you, the boys and Mother in danger. But I couldn't let our anniversary pass without telling you how very much I love you. Please tell the boys and Mother I love them also. Lee you will never know how much you mean to me, I will always love you. I promise someday soon we will be able to sit down and talk about this but you can't let anyone know that I am here. I will be in touch.
"So that had been her yesterday at the park." He thought to himself. What he couldn't figure out was why she thought they were in danger. Something wasn't sitting well with him and he would get to the bottom of everything. After all he was Scarecrow and Mrs. King was out there for him to save.
Every time I turn around
When I'm lost and when I'm found
Like an angel standing guard
There you are
Billy sat at his desk staring at the file in front of him. Only a few months earlier everything had come to light. Dr. Smyth had finally brought the report to him of where Amanda King.no Amanda Stetson had been sent and why. At first Billy had taken each word as though it were from the Bible. Yet he had always suspected something wasn't right and with Scarecrow coming in the night before he knew his gut was right again. His only trouble was proving his theory. There were only two agents he trusted with a case like this. He had to get Scarecrow and King.Stetson.back together. After this was all over they were going to have to get Amanda a code name.this was getting too confusing.
Billy knew that Dr. Smyth suspected Amanda's presence back in D.C and he would have to alert her as soon as possible. Lee would have to wait at least a little bit. "Billy, Lee Stetson is on line two." Francine said coming into Billy's office.
"Thank you Francine." She waited a few seconds loitering trying to see if she could eavesdrop. But Billy clearing his throat warned her that she better be leaving.
"Billy, we need to talk." Lee said almost frantically on the phone.
"Scarecrow, I know.meet me at the train station at one o'clock." Billy hung up the phone hoping Lee caught the code. His phones were tapped and Billy hoped Lee knew what train station he meant and that Dr. Smyth didn't.
Grabbing the file Billy headed out of the Agency and towards downtown D.C. he had heard through some snitches that Amanda was keeping herself hidden away in an apartment near the Mall.
Folding the towel she draped it over the edge of the sink and moved to the sofa. Lifting the right cushion she pulled out the tiny frame that held their wedding picture. She needed her husband.wanted him beside her. Earlier that morning, around six o'clock or so, she had met with TP. If she was going to see Lee on their anniversary she needed some help. Figuring nothing had changed Amanda had found herself stunned when TP had divulged that Lee was only a part time agent. The knowledge ripped her insides out, as she knew what her leaving must have done to him. TP had also shared that Lee wasn't giving up and one day he had vowed to find her.
She entered the Q Bureau and placed the milk and bread in the refrigerator. Crumpling the bag she threw it away and moved to her desk to finish the dreaded paperwork. Yet instead of papers there, positioned in the center of her desk was a blue box with a blue ribbon. Slowly undoing the ribbon she opened the box to find a velvet one inside. Snapping the black box open she was staring at the most beautiful solitaire she had ever seen. He door opened quietly behind her and not looking up she knew it was Lee. Without a word he moved toward her and sat on a corner of her desk. Taking the ring he silently placed it on her finger and captured her lips in his.
Amanda was startled out of her daydream by someone knocking on the door. Grabbing the small .38 she kept now under the mattress she moved towards the door. She still didn't care for guns but had decided being on her own in a large city she needed one. Everyday she prayed that she would never have to fire it. Looking through the peephole Amanda quickly unlocked the door and hustled her former boss inside.
"Amanda, we knew you were back two days ago. Lee saw you."
"You shouldn't have come you are putting yourself in danger." She said as they moved to the living room. Billy sat on the sofa while Amanda moved to the opposite chair.
"Amanda, I have proof that you and Lee were set up and why Dr. Smyth sent you away." Billy started as he handed her the file. "Dr. Smyth was trying to get rid of you both. When you announced that you were married he tried to sell you both to the Russians. Fortunately Harry caught wind and thwarted Dr. Smyth. When the plans fell through Dr. Smyth needed to get rid of you for fear you would find out."
"Dr. Smyth is a double agent?" Amanda asked stunned as she flipped through the papers.
"It surprised me too even though it does make sense following some of the things that have happened over the years." Billy looked around her dismal apartment. The walls were void of anything that would link her to anyone. The only picture he saw was the small one on the table in front of him. Picking it up he saw Lee and Amanda kissing and guessed it must have been their wedding. When he had found out his two best agents were indeed married he hadn't been surprised in fact he had pretty much already known.the way they looked at each other day after day. A person would have had to been blind not to know that they were very much in love and Dr. Smyth had taken nearly a year away from them. "Look Amanda, I spoke with Scarecrow just before coming here and he's meeting us at the train station." Looking at his watch he noted it was already twelve thirty and they would have to hurry to meet Scarecrow in time.
"Okay Sir, then let's get out of here." Amanda stood up and froze she heard footsteps in the hallway. Moving slowly to the door she glanced back out through the peephole to find herself staring at Dr. Smyth. Racing back to the couch she picked up the .38 and looked at Billy. Her first thought was that she had been set up but she also knew she needed to trust Billy he had never let her or Lee down and from the expression on his face Amanda knew that Billy had no clue Dr. Smyth had followed them.
"Billy.it's Dr. Smyth we have to get out of here." Moving to the window she tried to push it open but it was sticking. Billy ran over to her and just as they got the window opened Dr. Smyth and two other agents kicked in the door. Slipping through the window Amanda and Billy headed down the fire escape. As they made their way down six stories they found themselves face to face with three other agents. Putting their hands in the air as they were taken Amanda felt her entire life pass before her. If she was going to die it wasn't going to be with Billy. Amanda hadn't come back to die before she saw Lee or her boys.
Suddenly Amanda "tripped" over a rock in the alley and Billy took the moment to incapacitate two of the agents while Amanda hit the other one with the rock she had "tripped" over. With all three men lying in the alley Billy and Amanda raced off in the other direction away from Dr. Smyth and thankfully still with the file.
After returning to D.C Amanda had started parking a block or so away from her apartment in an attempt to keep the Agency off her trail. It hadn't worked as she had planned as Billy had found her along with Dr. Smyth but thankfully it was still there unmanned with the keys under the floor mat. Reaching the compact car the two raced to the train station. As they drove past Dr. Smyth and the agents Amanda out maneuvered them and managed to lose them five minutes into the chase.
Billy was amazed. He knew that Amanda was a fantastic agent but he had never been able to work this closely with her. Since her arrival at the Agency he had just taken Lee's word for it along with their progress reports on cases. But in the last half hour Billy found himself amazed at the instincts this housewife had. Not only had she gotten them out of the apartment and away from the three agents on the ground but also away from Dr. Smyth at least for the time being. After this was all over he was going to seriously consider bringing them both back full time. He just hoped they would agree. Unfortunately he had a feeling after this one was over they were going to retire and fall into the cracks.
Lee began pacing the platform and looking at his watch every five seconds. Billy had said one o'clock it was now almost fifteen minutes later. Lee found his insides becoming tense and he couldn't figure out why Billy had wanted to meet him there. This was where he had met Amanda on that fateful day so many years ago handing her a package and telling her to give it to the man in the red hat. After that day his life.no both of their lives had changed forever. Some days he wished he had never given it to her, that she had never become a part of this horrible job. But he had and he had allowed himself to fall in love with her.
"Scarecrow," Lee turned around and found Billy rushing towards him. Behind his boss he saw two other agents racing towards them. Falling into step with Billy Lee felt a file being placed in his hands.
"Billy, what is going on?"
"Scarecrow, there isn't enough time. Get on the train and get off at the Arlington exchange. Go to the house and wait." Billy finished and as Lee became lost in the many people on the platform he tried to find Billy and couldn't.
The ride to Arlington seemed to take forever even though it was only fifteen minutes long. During that time Lee glanced through the file and found he was becoming very agitated. Dr. Smyth was a double agent and trying to sell them to the Russians. It had been him all along. He was to blame for Amanda's disappearance for the past nine months. If it took him the rest of his life Dr. Smyth would pay for what he had done to his family. Smiling slightly Lee still loved the way the word "family" sounded. He had never really known what it was like to have a family until Amanda and she had taught him so many things about life and himself. She had saved him from himself and now he had to bring them all back together.
Amanda slowly entered her home. She was really walking through the threshold of the home she had lived in for years. Jamie's camera laid on the table near the front door and Philips basketball laid on the floor near it. Walking into the living room she marveled at how clean it was and knew that Lee had been doing a wonderful job with her boys. Turning she headed for the stairs and their bedroom.
Entering their bedroom she noted nothing had changed. She could smell Lee's cologne and saw he had been leaving clothes and shoes littering the floor. Shacking her head she knew that was her husband and if he hadn't learned yet to pick up he never would. She loved Lee for who he was not because of his cleanliness.
A door shut and Amanda jumped. The footsteps were ascending the stairs and her instincts went into action. Moving behind the door she wanted to surprise whomever was inside her home. Knowing it might be the boys she picked up one of Lee's shoes to use as a weapon.
Just as she was about to bring the shoe down on the unsuspecting person she saw it was Lee. He looked at her and for a second time seemed to stand still. Their eyes met and tears flowed freely. Their arms were suddenly around each other and Amanda sobbed. She had dreamed of this day since she had left and now it was here. It wasn't a hallucination she was really with her husband and he was with her.
"Lee." Amanda whispered as he pulled slightly apart.just enough to capture her lips in his. The kiss was passionate and wanting both could have lost themselves in the moment if they hadn't had other things pressing.
"Amanda, Dr. Smyth is a double agent.he tried to sell us to the Russians." Lee said, as they finally broke apart.
"I know, Billy found me about an hour ago and told me." Taking his hand in hers the moved back down the stairs to the living room. Lee brought out the file that Billy had given him and together they read through it completely. Before Amanda knew it Lee was planting small kisses on her neck and she could only smile. Turning to face him they slowly moved forward just as the doorbell rang. Amanda pulled out her .38 and Lee sat there stunned. His Amanda was willingly carrying a gun things had changed in the last nine months. Amanda exhaled allowing her body to relax as she found it was Billy at the door. He had managed to get rid of the tails at least for the time being.
"Billy, I think with what we have here there is sufficient evidence to take Dr. Smyth in."
"If Harry knew about all of this I'm surprised he hadn't taken Dr. Smyth in himself." Amanda said looking at the papers that would have sold her and Lee to the Russians.
"He didn't have the proof. By the time Dr. Smyth turned over these papers you were long gone Amanda."
"But Billy it doesn't make sense that Dr. Smyth would hand over these papers knowing they would only incriminate him." Lee said looking at Amanda who was sitting across the room. It was best they kept their distance at least for the time being. Having not seen each other in nine months they needed one another and until this was over they couldn't.
"Dr. Smyth hadn't been able to finish his plans. You were separate but he had promised you to the Russians. Amanda had been sent to Detroit but Dr. Smyth knew that she would come back trying to see you at some point. So he gave me these files hoping that I would just assume that Amanda was out to destroy the Agency and when she returned I would pull her in. That would bring you in Scarecrow, and Dr. Smyth would have you both. What Dr. Smyth didn't know until today was I had been digging around ever since Amanda had disappeared. Harry had then told me what he had done but it wasn't until Amanda came back that we were able to pull this all together."
Amanda closed her eyes and shook her head. Becoming an agent had been so exciting for her. She had always enjoyed the secret ness and double life it had created. For too long she had only been a housewife leaning on her ex husband Joe. But then she had met Lee and he had created this new and exciting life for her. Together they had brought down some of the most notorious terrorists the United States had ever seen. Yet now she was again finding out how easy it was for the entire Agency to turn against you. Inside you were expendable when the hire-ups thought it was necessary or fit the case. Her thoughts took her back to Stemwinder when Lee and she had been on the run because they were believed to be double agents. That had worked out and this would too. They had Billy on their side and probably Francine.
"So how do we get him?" Amanda asked wanting to get this all over with so everyone could move on with their lives. She had nine months to catch up with her boys and nine months to make up to her husband.
"Better yet how do we get you?" Amanda looked around in surprise finding Dr. Smyth standing at the step to the living room. They had all been so caught up in their plan that they hadn't heard him enter. "You looked surprised Scarecrow.King.oops I'm sorry.it's Stetson. You know it's really a shame you aren't going to be with us long enough to gain a codename but I'm sure the Russians will do something about that." Dr. Smyth motioned and two other agents entered one went to Lee and the other to Amanda. Taking her elbow Amanda broke free of the agent and dove to the floor and rolled to the sofa grabbing her .38. Standing she pointed it at Dr. Smyth.
"Call them off." She ordered as Dr. Smyth only smiled.
"You really expect me to believe you will shoot me." Lee was stunned at the brazenness of his wife. She rarely carried a gun much less ever pointed it at someone.
"You tell them to let Lee go or else." Dr. Smyth stood there thinking for a second. Time seemed to begin moving in slow motion for everyone. Dr. Smyth reached inside his jacket and pulled out a gun and aiming it towards Lee a shot was fired. For a second no one moved but Dr. Smyth slowly slid towards the floor. He hit the floor dead with a single gunshot wound to the heart. Billy took the two agents into custody and knew that nothing would happen to them they were only following orders and had no idea that Dr. Smyth had been a double agent.
Stunned Amanda stood, unable to move, the gun still aimed at the now lifeless figure that had been Dr. Smyth. Her arms were locked yet her knees were growing weak and she began sliding down as the room started spinning. Two powerful arms pulled her close but she held the gun in a death grip. He would never hurt anyone again.
Lee had seen it happen but found himself in shock. He stood only a couple feet away but it seemed like an eternity before he reached Amanda. Her entire body seemed to collapse yet he noticed her hands still had a tight grip on the gun. Her eyes were unmoving on the body that lay on the living room floor. Taking a second he looked at Billy who was already on the phone. Within minutes a crew would be at the house to get everything cleaned up as if nothing had ever happened.
"Amanda, honey.Amanda, give me the gun." Lee said placing a hand on her arm. She very rarely had ever carried a gun and never had Amanda shot anything.except the defenseless ceiling. "Billy, I think she's in shock. I'm taking her to the hospital." Lee picked her up in his arms and the gun fell to the floor. "Billy, the boys are going to be home in about an hour and a half." Lee said as the first responding agents arrived.
"Don't worry Lee, we will have everything cleaned and everyone gone before they get home." Lee nodded and headed out to his car. He had complete faith that Billy would live up to his promise. The boys and Dotty didn't' really know a lot about the Agency. They only knew that Amanda and Lee worked for the government. It had been decided to keep them in the dark as much as possible. So having a houseful of agents would lead to a lot of questions that Lee wasn't prepared to answer.
Walking to the Corvette he helped Amanda into the passengers seat and raced around to the other side. Starting the car he put it into gear and as he started down the street he glanced towards Amanda. Stone faced her eyes seemed to be looking at nothing. Her hands were tightly clasped on her lap and her entire body was rigid. Turning his attention back to the road he tried to remain calm.Amanda would need him.
They were a team, Scarecrow and.and.nothing. For the past several years they had been a team saving the world from terrorists. So many times Amanda had put her life on the line for him, the agency and their country, yet there was something missing. Amanda needed a codename, something for anonymity purposes.
He knew what she should be called but he wasn't sure if he could pull it off. Phone calls would have to be made but somehow it would get done. She was to damn good of an agent, housewife or not, and what she had done that afternoon proved it.
Billy and Francine were walking to the car just as Dotty and the boys drove up. Everything had gone as planned. Cleaning rapidly twelve agents in all managed to get everything out without a trace. The last car had left thirty seconds earlier.
"Well, Mr. Melrose." Dotty said surprised to find her daughter's boss standing in the driveway with a blonde she might remember being a coworker of Amanda and Lee's.
"Ms. West," Billy said walking towards Dotty with Francine at his heels, "this is Francine Desmond."
"Hello." Dotty said extending her hand.
"Pleased to meet you." Francine replied smiling and shaking her hand.
"We stopped by to speak to you for a minute." Billy started in; he had hoped to be gone so he would have to partially explain. "We found Amanda. Lee is with her right now and he'll explain what he can as soon as possible."
Dotty tried to register what this man was telling her. Amanda was back? She had prayed for this day for so long. "When can we see her? Where is she?"
"She's at the hospital." Billy stopped for a second as fear encompassed Dotty's face. "She's fine, I promise. Lee took her as a precaution with any luck she'll be home tomorrow morning. I will let Lee and Amanda fill in the details." Shaking hands Billy and Francine headed for Billy's car. Dotty watched as they drove away elated that her daughter was back safely. Entering the house she called for the boys to share the news.
"Lee.no.no don't!" Lee's eyes bolted open as he heard Amanda cry out. Moving to the edge of her bed he pulled her into his arms and rocked her. Her tears were felt on his shoulder as her body convulsed in sobs. Early evening was coming and Lee was thankful the doctors were keeping her at least for a little while under supervision. Amanda hadn't spoken a word or so much as moved other than her recent cry. Posttraumatic stress syndrome was what the doctors were calling it. This wasn't how he hoped to bring her home. It seemed that possibly her nightmares though were helping at least a little.
"Amanda.shh.I'm right here. Everything is all right." Lee brushed her forehead with his lips as his right hand buried in her hair and pulled her even tighter against his body. For several minutes they stayed locked in the embrace.
Slowly her body began to relax and Lee gently laid her back against the pillows. Sweeping the stray strands of hair out of her eyes he traced her cheek with his fingertips. His thumb carefully wiped a single tear as she took his hand in hers. Moving it slowly she kissed his hand and looked deeply into his eyes. Lee could see the pain and felt it boring into his very soul. They weren't just partners they were soul mates and he was hurting for her and with her. Their marriage had joined their souls as one and as Amanda looked to that soul she knew everything was going to be fine.
"Thank you." Amanda said, nearly whispering but the words touched Lee's heart like nothing else. With those two simple words he knew they were on the road to recovery. His Amanda would be back.
Every time I take a breath
And when I forget to breathe
You're watching over me
There you are
"Everything is going to be all right."
"I know.I have you." Lee nodded his head and took both of her hands in his. A knock on the door grabbed Lee's attention. Looking over his shoulder he saw Billy who had stuck his head in for a second. "I'm going to go talk to Billy. I'll be back in a minute." Amanda closed her eyes and nodded knowing he had to but not wanting him to leave her side. As Lee stood Amanda kept his hand in hers for a second longer. Lee sighed deeply and walked out the door to talk to Billy.
Exiting Amanda's room he quietly closed the door behind him and looked around for Billy. He found him a few feet away pacing anxiously. Lee knew Amanda was going to have to be debriefed that night but it was rubbing him the wrong way because she would have to endure that after what had happened. But Amanda was strong and she would get through this.
"Lee, how is she?' Billy asked as they stood in the nearly deserted hallway.
"She's doing better. When we got here she collapsed but just woke a minute ago. They said they wouldn't need to keep her overnight."
"Good.good.when she's released bring her in. WE need to know where she has been and what she has been doing for the past nine months.plus the events leading up to today."
"Mr. Stetson," Lee looked up and saw the doctor coming towards them.
"Dr. Elliot, Amanda is awake."
"Great. I'll go see how she is doing."
"How are you doing?" Billy asked as the doctor walked away.
Lee looked at him, confused. Nothing had happened to him. Amanda was back where she belonged. There would be a lot of talking and probably sleepless nights. Yet he realized what Billy was talking about. His emotions were in a tailspin. He knew he needed to help his wife but was at a loss of how to do it. Amanda was the strong one; he always did things without thinking.
"I'll be fine once we get her out of here and home." Billy put a reassuring had on Lee's shoulder letting one half of his best team know he would always be there.
"Mr. Stetson, she's ready to leave. We've scheduled her with Dr. Praff just as a precaution." Lee shook the doctors hand smiling slightly and nodding his head.
"Lee, I'll get everything set up. I think we can get through this debriefing quickly."
"Okay, oh Billy." Lee said remembering something he wanted to ask Billy.
"I think it's time for Amanda to have a codename. I think we both know what it should be."
"Lee, that isn't our operation." Billy replied knowing what Lee was thinking. But seeing lee's expression he sighed relenting. "Let me see what I can do. It might take a lot of strings being pulled." Lee flashed a brilliant smile knowing if anyone could do it Billy could.
Turning Lee headed towards Amanda's room. Stopping outside he inhaled deeply and knocked on the door. "Come in." Amanda said quietly as Lee opened the door and slipped inside. Her back was to him as she stared out into the remainder of the day.
Amanda watched as people walked along the sidewalk. The sky was darkening and her thoughts shifted, for the moment, to the boys and her mother. What if they came home before everything was cleaned? What if they found out she had killed a man? So many what ifs and yet never any answers.
Lee stood against the door watching her. She had such elegance and grace about herself. Poise and confidence were sometimes overshadowed by her extreme optimism. For years she had been his rock and now he just hoped when she needed him the most he could repay her.
"Billy asking about the debriefing?" Amanda's voice finally cutting the silence.
"Yeah. He's getting everything ready and promises to get through this as quickly as possible." With her back still towards him she nodded, her gaze still focused on the events outside.
"You know Lee, I really wish we were normal. Sometimes I think what it would be like if we worked 9-5 jobs. Grocery shopping as a family, playing basketball in the park and not having to worry about he world around us. Becoming a spy was so exciting, at first. I remember how it felt to be living this double life, becoming someone different and learning how to be independent. Nuisance.that's how I am beginning to see how we live. We sneak around in the shadows and try to kill the bad guys before they get us. I think it's time to rethink my employment status." Never moving from her position at the window Lee stayed near the door and listened to her as she poured out her emotions. Resisting pulling her into his arms and promising nothing would ever happen again, he made his way slowly forward. He couldn't make that promise anyway. As long as they had connections to the Agency their lives would forever be in peril.
Her attitude though caught him off guard. The Amanda that had left him, nine months earlier, had been so full of adventure. Every assignment seemed to fill her with some sort of excitement Lee couldn't explain. At first Lee had thought she was too "ditzy" to be an agent. But she had amazed him by being very level headed and ingenious at times, in tough situations. Trust was something difficult for him yet Amanda was so easy to trust. Lee was unsure if he would be able to continue in the filed without Amanda watching his rear.
"Amanda." he said stopping just inches from her and placing his hands on her shoulder.
"We better get to Billy. The sooner this debriefing is over the sooner I can get some sleep." Amanda seemed to be pulled out of a trance. Turning to face him she smiled briefly and kissing Lee on the cheek she took his hand and they walked out the door.
"Dr. Smyth caught me before I left the building. He told me that a contract had been put out on me and that it was endangering the lives of the family.the boys.mother.Lee. Handing me a packet I was given a new identity, credit cards, keys to a house in Detroit, and a one-way plane ticket. I was told there was $500,000 in a bank account he said he put it in my name. All I had were the clothes on my back and the packet when Dr. Smyth dropped me off at the airport. My seat was in first class and when I landed in Detroit I grabbed a cab and found my new home. The first couple of days I did nothing but sit around and think about the life I had left. After a few days I decided to needed to get up off my rear and maybe if I could figure out who had the contract out I could put a stop to it and come home. I knew about a couple of Lee's contacts in Detroit who I could contact. AT first things moved almost too slow." Amanda went through everything from start until that night in the living room. Lee sat in the chair, next to her, and listened to everything that had happened. The near miss with a burglar had led her to purchase the .38 she now carried. Making friends with a local police officer he worked with her twice a week on her aim. So many things had happened to her in the past nine months. Every word she spoke seemed to tear at Lee as he learned everything that had led to the words she spoke earlier. Lee began to worry, Amanda had changed so much in their time apart, and maybe nothing would be the same again. What would he do if everything fell apart? Lee stopped himself, his thoughts were irrational, Amanda loved him he knew that. Things would change but they would work through the changes.
"Amanda, thank you. I know this has been tough and I am thankful you are back safely. We are all hoping you will be coming back." Lee shot a look at Amanda who had gone through the debriefing calmly was now fidgeting. She knew the question would arise and yet she didn't have an answer. Part of her wanted to say no. Spending nine months apart from her husband, her sons and her mother had nearly killed her. At first, when she thought someone from the past had a contract out she had problems dealing with it but that was nothing compared to finding out that the Agency had the contract. Well not the Agency but Dr. Smyth. Realizing that a man she had trusted with her life had become agitated with her private life made her fearful to return. What if someone else felt she or Lee needed to be expelled? Harry or Billy wouldn't be around forever.
Yet on the other hand Amanda couldn't think of anything she would rather do but work at the Agency. Working that close with her husband was dangerous yet magical. Going undercover, as a married couple was almost a dream assignment. She loved Lee and would always love him. They worked together better together, he trusted her and she trusted him. Sighing Amanda knew she had a huge decision to make.
"Amanda, take your time I didn't expect an answer tonight. In fact I don't expect an answer for a little while. But we will need one eventually.the sooner the better. Everyone wants you back. Give yourself a few days, get reacquainted with your family and then stop in."
Amanda was relieved she didn't have to tell him anything. Standing she glanced at her husband who remained sitting. Just the look told her volumes, he was nervous, so was she. So many things were going through her head. Unsure how to figure everything out Amanda wanted to leave and get some sleep. Exhaustion was creeping up quickly and Lee saw her eyes getting heavy.
"Thanks Billy, I'll get her home and to bed. We'll be in touch." Lee said rushing to Amanda's side taking her arm. Laying her head on his shoulder she knew she would fall asleep standing up if they didn't keep moving.
The couple exited the Agency and went to the Corvette. Opening the passenger door Lee waited for Amanda to get situated and then closed the door. He walked slowly to the driver's side and got in. The car came to life and he started on the way home.
"Lee," Amanda said, her voice piercing the almost uneasy silence they had found themselves in.
"I can't go home." Amanda knew she couldn't step back into the house, at least not yet. Her own bullet had destroyed the once safe haven. She also wasn't sure when she would be up to seeing her mother or the boys. So many thoughts were running through her head. When she saw them she wanted to be herself.
"Okay." Lee said wondering where to take her. For a while they had kept his apartment but it had eventually become an expense to eliminate. Now he wished they had kept a hold of it. He drove around for a few minutes before stopping at a small motel on the edge of the city. Lee went into the office and in a couple minutes he came out with a key and they were heading for their room.
Entering Lee helped her inside and Amanda pulled back the covers and laid down on the bed. She remained expressionless and he knew he had to figure something out. This was weighing too heavy on both their hearts and minds. "Why don't you lie down and I'll." He said as he started walking towards the nearby chair.
"No.Lee.hold me." Amanda's eyes were pleading and lee went to her. Sitting next to her on the bed he pulled her in tightly. He could feel her crying and he knew half of this was exhaustion. "I'm sorry."
"Why are you sorry? You haven't done anything to be sorry for." Lee responded cupping her face in his hands. "Amanda Stetson, you have nothing to be sorry for."
"This isn't how I planned our reunion. I wanted roses, champagne soft lights and music. I wanted to find a large suite where we could get lost for a lifetime and make love to you for hours and forget the past nine months ever happened. Instead I'm falling apart wondering if I will ever stop seeing his face or feel the fear I felt when I thought he was going to shoot you. I wanted this to be perfect.and I'm sorry it isn't." She replied placing her hands over his.
"Look Amanda, we didn't expect to find ourselves separated like this. However this is perfect because you are back in my life. As far as you breaking down, who better than your husband, the man who loves you to be the one you are with when it happens. Amanda, what you went through these past nine months is something very few people would be able to have gotten through, yet here you are and I promise things are going to be just fine."
"I can't stop seeing his face." Amanda said a few minutes later. They had moved positions so they were lying side by side and propped up with pillows. Her head rested gently on his chest and their fingers of one hand were interlaced. With his right hand Lee was gently rubbing her back. "Does it ever stop?"
Her question was one Lee had heard many times before and in fact he remembered asking it so many years before. "Yes the face fades. I won't lie though and tell you you won't think about it. This is something you will think about for the rest of your life. For a while it will haunt you. But it depends on how you deal with it. Now you know I'm not big on doctors, especially shrinks. But Amanda going to Dr. Pfaff will be smart. Talking it out will help." Her hair was silky as his fingers went through it. He had dreamed of this moment so many times. Yet in all of the dreams this wasn't how he had pictured it. This was better maybe because it was really happening. Whatever it was Lee Stetson was flying high on emotions having Amanda there in his arms.
A few minutes later the subject was changed. Lee began telling Amanda about the boys. Philip's baseball team had taken 2nd in the championship at the end of the summer. They had played really tough but had just been up against a tougher team. Amanda had once again found herself almost surprised yet very pleased to hear that Lee had been one of the assistant coaches for the team.
She was equally surprised to hear he was helping Jamie with photography. Lee told her about the "field trip" just the two had taken just so Jamie could put together a portfolio. It had been sent in to a national contest and taken the blue ribbon. For Christmas Jamie had taken the blue ribbon and a picture the three of them. Putting it into a frame he attached the blue ribbon with a small sign that said `Number 1 Stepfather'.
As he told the story he had noted Amanda had become quiet. Looking down he noted the tears in her eyes. "Amanda, are you all right?"
"Yes, I'm just so happy that the boys accepted you. I was also afraid Joe would take them or that." she let her voice trail off.
"Amanda, I adore Jamie and Philip as much as if they were my own. I wasn't going anywhere." Lee said not in defense but more of reassurance that the boys would always be taken care of.
"I know.thank you." Amanda replied as they once again found themselves in a silence yet this time it was relaxed.two lovers enjoying the intimacy of the moment. "What about mother?"
"Well other than making me take out the trash every night.apparently that's what husbands do.nothing has changed. Every Friday and Saturday night she went out and I stayed with the boys."
Amanda smiled thankful her mother and been able to get our. But she thought about Lee and work. They had never known when they would be needed for an assignment. What would have happened if he had been needed? Her thoughts went crazy for a few seconds until she remembered he had gone to part time.
"Lee, why are you only part time?"
Lee had been waiting for this question to arise so he jumped right in. "After that night I threw myself in full force trying to find you. At first the leads were great in fact I knew you were in Detroit. Yet every time I got close Dr. Smyth would pull me in for 24 hours letting the trail go cold. But I wasn't giving up. I knew you were out there and I was going to find you. Billy started giving me other cases though.small ones that got pushed aside. For a month or so he let things slide knowing my head wasn't in it. But then seven months ago, not quite two months after you had disappeared Dr. Smyth ordered me to Brazil. The trip was dangerous and I would be there a minimum of six weeks but looked more like three to six months. The boys and I, by this time, had already formed a lasting bond. There was no way I could go and leave them. So I refused the assignment and asked to be put on part time."
"You mean you went to part time because of the boys?"
"Yes I did they needed someone and well they are more important. Anyway I promised them I would find you so how could I leave without doing good on my promise."
"I feel pretty lucky to be married to someone like you. I don't know if I will ever be able to thank you for taking care of the boys like that." Amanda replied finally letting her body relax.
"The boys are fine, your mother is fine.everything is perfect. Now that you're back we can get back to work."
For a few minutes Amanda just stayed where she laid. Deep down she knew how anxious Lee was to get back to the field. It had been a huge sacrifice for the chivalrous Scarecrow to do what he had done. This noble deed had been done not only out of love for her but also out of devotion to her sons.
"I'm really exhausted, I need to sleep." Amanda said moving to her spot in bed. Fluffing her pillow she quickly laid her head down and closed her eyes. It was the idea that she might never return that was holding her back. "Will you be here?" The question came just before she drifted off.
"I'm not going anywhere." Lee replied covering her with one of the blankets. He sat motionless for several minutes as he replayed everything in his head. Something made him uneasy and he felt it stemmed from her abrupt end to their conversation. Mentally kicking himself Lee tried to stay confident that she was just tired and had fallen asleep out of fatigue. After they both had a good nights sleep they would sit down and discuss things. Lee's only concern was that she was back safely. If she ever wore her badge again he would figure out something. As long as she wore her wedding band he would be able to make his own life choices. Who knows maybe it was time for Scarecrow to come in full time behind a desk. Chances were Billy would move up and if he played his cards right maybe he could get Billy's position. It wouldn't be a 9-5 but it would be a lot safer.
Lee laid there thinking for quite awhile. He felt everything was coming into view and couldn't wait to relay it all to Amanda. There was no way Lee was going to allow what Dr. Smyth had done to ruin their entire lives. Lee didn't care that there was no real plan etched in stone he just knew that their lives would be salvaged. Amanda meant the world to him and he would prove it.
A half hour after Amanda drifted off Lee's eyes closed. He was slightly propped up by two pillows. Amanda lay quietly on her side with her back towards him. Anyone who might have seen them would probably doubt they were a happily married couple that had been separated for as long as they had.
There you are standing in a crowded room There you are the earth and I'm the moon My desire is to stand by the fire That burns inside of you
Amanda awoke with a start. Rolling to her back she closed her eyes and draped a hand over her forehead. The eyes had returned for a fourth time. Breathing in deeply she tried to calm down as she turned her head to read the clock.six o'clock. The night had been extremely restless. Three previous times Lee had awaken to hold her as she shook with fear. Each dream had been a little different yet they all starred Dr. Smyth and each time she killed him. Unfortunately this last dream had ended with Lee's demise before Dr. Smyth's.
Knowing she couldn't sleep anymore Amanda slowly rose out of bed. Her bare feet padded against the carpet that covered the floor. Going to the bathroom she shut the door and turned on the light. The contrast made he eyes squint for a few minutes until they adjusted. Turning on the faucet Amanda splashed a little water on her face to wake her up fully. The thoughts were clean and she knew what had to be done. Leaving the bathroom, for a second, she grabbed a pen and a piece of paper. The pressure to make a decision had swelled inside but so far nothing had come to her.
While Amanda had been in Detroit she had thought a lot about whether or not she would return. For almost nine months the answer had been "not a chance". Yet being back had rejuvenated feelings about the job that had been dormant. Lee was her partner and husband, which made him biased. There was only one person Amanda knew she could go to that could help her being, at least, make her decision.
Sitting on the bathroom floor Amanda went through several drafts of the note until it sounded just perfect:
"Lee, my darling, I love you so very much. Please do not worry, as I know you have, waking and not finding me. Being back I have found myself unprepared to decide if I will continue with the Agency. I will meet you back here tonight. Please tell the boys and mother not to worry and if everything works out I will meet them back here tonight. Lee I can't return to the house, at least not yet. As soon as I am done clearing this up and thinking we will sit down and have a long talk. Lee remember I do love you.I will see you.A"
Rereading her work Amanda looked everywhere for the perfect spot to place the letter. She wanted to make sure Lee saw it shortly after he woke up otherwise he would worry and she didn't want that to happen. Finally she chose her pillow and stopping just a second she looked at her sleeping husband. His face was so boyish when he slept and she remembered back to the first time they had waken in each others arms, as man and wife. Being together was magical and Amanda knew she needed to sort things out and then the magic would be back.
Opening the door she quietly crept out. Leaving the Corvette Amanda went to the office and called a cab. Thirty minutes after she woke she was heading off to hopefully figure out her future. Closing her eyes she laid her head back and silently prayed that this would be the last time she would have to leave her husband. Knowing the heartbreak she would cause him she vowed to somehow make it up to him.
A honking horn, an arguing couple and a siren blaring past all contributed to Lee waking. Rolling to his side he sat up quickly expecting to find Amanda his fingers were willed to pick up the note and he read it.then he read it again. She had left him again, the note helped, but didn't prevent his heart from feeling the pain. They were going to meet with the boys and Dotty but now he would have to make up a story as to where she was. Getting up Lee walked to his car and headed toward the house.
The cab stopped at the end of the road. Amanda handed the driver the money for the fare plus a decent tip. Getting out of the car Amanda waited until the driver headed back for the city before she started down the drive. Taking her time she wanted to think. Her hopes were high that a decision could be reached and she was also thankful she had reached him on the phone so early in the day.
Every time I turn around
When I'm lost and when I'm found
Like an angel standing guard
There you are
He sat in his car for a few minutes letting the weariness escape from his body as his thoughts tried to focus on talking to his family. This wasn't by far as hard as it had been when he had come home to a deserted bedroom. Lee knew Amanda wasn't far and hopefully she would be back in their room when he got there. Still he was worried she had always been able to talk to him so after he talked to the boys he would have to go and see if he could figure out where she went. He also had a couple of stops to make to get the surprises under way. He had tossed and turned the night before trying to figure out what to do for their upcoming anniversary and an idea had come to him. Now he just had to put it all together.
Getting out of his car he walked up the sidewalk and headed inside. Entering the living room he stopped for a second as the events of the previous day came flooding back into his mind. So much had happened in such a short period of time it was almost overwhelming yet there were Jamie and Philip sleeping opposite each other on the sofa. Over one wall was a banner that read "Welcome back Mom" and balloons hung freely in the corner. Going into the kitchen for a glass of water he found a chocolate cake decorating the island. He knew the boys were going to be really disappointed when they found out their mom wasn't coming home just yet.
"Amanda.is that."Dotty stopped short seeing her son in law standing opposite her in the kitchen. Lee noted the disappointment that had crept freely onto her weary face and his heart went out to her. All of these months hoping and praying that your daughter would return and when you find out she does having to wait and wait until the right moment to meet again. "Lee.I.Mr. Melrose was here and said Amanda was back."
"She is." Lee started trying to put the words in the right order. "There was an accident yesterday.I can't go into the details.but Amanda.she's all right.but well she's.she left a note saying we are to meet her back at the hotel tonight."
"Hotel.why not here?" Dotty said worried about her daughter's safety maybe more now than she had in the past several months. "This is her home why on earth were you at a motel?"
"It was Amanda's idea."
"Mom?!?" Jamie and Philip shouted in question as they awoke and heard voices in the kitchen. Running in they stopped suddenly in great disappointment.
"Guys why don't you go upstairs and change and then we'll discuss when you will see your mom." Lee said trying to think of things that might keep their mind off of their mother for the day. It was only seven thirty and who knew when Amanda would be back at the hotel. But he would let them give her a welcome back party.
"I have a few errands I need to get done today so can you take the boys out to get some things for tonight? Now I'm not sure what time Amanda planned on being back in the room so how about we meet there at three and get the place set up for a small party."
"Yeah.sure.I can do that. I still don't understand why she can't just come here." Dotty replied confused and yet happy that her daughter was indeed safe and they would be seeing each other that night.
A few minutes later the boys came charging down the stairs and met Lee in the living room. "Lee, where is Mom? I thought she was coming home this morning." Philip said as he tied his shoelaces.
"Well your mom wanted to see you both this morning too but something came up and instead you are going to see her tonight at the hotel we stayed at last night. She wanted to make sure tonight was extra special so your grandma is going to take you out today to get whatever you want to make your mom's welcome home party perfect."
"But why can't we have it here?" Jamie asked knowing Lee was keeping something from him. Both of the boys had grown accustomed to being kept in the dark on certain things and were able to detect when it was happening.
"Jamie, I wish I could tell you I just can't. But does it really matter where you have the party?"
"No." Was all Lee received for a response but it was enough and he soon stood and looked towards the kitchen with an apologetic expression.
"Good, now I'm heading out I told your grandma where the hotel is and I will meet you there at three. Don't worry boys this is just the beginning. After today things are going to be like old times." The boys smiled at their stepfather and nodded trusting what he had said. Turning to leave Lee once again paused for an undetected amount of time as he once again saw Dr. Smyth reeling backwards from the gunshot Amanda had fired. Shaking his head he said goodbye and left the house.
"Harry, it's so good to see you again." Amanda said as she walked up to her old friend.
"Amanda, it is a pleasure. I was so grateful for the phone call knowing that you were back and all right."
"Yes, if it hadn't been for you who knows where Lee and I would be right now. Thank you." Amanda replied as Harry motioned for them both to sit. Leaning back in her chair Amanda noted the quietness of the area where Harry lived. Trees surrounded the entire structure and even though it was more like a fortress inside when a person sat outside it would appear a normal cabin in the middle of nowhere. The air was cool and crisp and the dew was still clinging to the reeds of grass. Birds were singing their early morning songs and Amanda was beginning to feel safe after so many months on the run.
"Amanda, I heard what happened yesterday. I am sorry things turned out the way they had." Harry said pulling Amanda back to the present. "Is that why you are here?"
She sat there for a moment unsure what to say. When she had made the phone call her thoughts had been that Harry could help her yet now that she was here she didn't know where to begin. "Yes it is. But it's more of me not knowing about returning to the Agency."
"Amanda, you are a fine agent and I know Billy will want you back, he knows you are an asset. If you are worried about you and Lee being split up I can guarantee that won't happen. You both work."
"No, Harry it isn't that." Amanda said cutting him off. "I guess I am scared. I've known all along that anything could happen, that Lee or I, or even both of us, might not return after a mission. But this has been different. Both Lee and I were going to be sold to the Russians because Dr. Smyth didn't like that we were married, not to mention the fact that he never cared for Lee."
"But Amanda.Dr. Smyth is dead."
"I know that.I pulled the trigger.he died in my living room.a place I'm not sure I can return to even though my family is I'm sure waiting for my return." Amanda caught herself as she started rambling. "Harry, I just lost the past nine months and don't know if want to risk that happening again. The next time I might not get so lucky." She stopped as her level of anxiety had increased and it wasn't Harry she was upset with it was the system the one she had thought she loved working for. "Harry, I'm sorry.I just have so many things running through my head right now, things I can't talk to Lee about."
"Amanda, don't apologize what you have been through isn't easy and I'm sure Lee will understand. I know you, you will eventually be able to talk to him about this."
"Yeah, I know. What happens though if I can never return to my house?"
"Amanda, things happen that we don't have any control over. You know that. I can't make your decision for you but I really think you would miss working for the Agency and I know the Agency would miss the second half of its best team." Amanda smiled and nodded at his words. He was right a huge part of her would miss working there and she realized her apprehension was largely based on fear. "Come on let's go inside and finish talking." Getting up Amanda followed Harry inside where they spent the remainder of the morning and most of the early afternoon talking.
"I'm sorry Lee, but I haven't seen her. I'm glad to hear she's back though." T.P said later that morning as he and Lee sat on park benches in the Mall. Lee was hoping he would find Amanda with their old time friend unfortunately he hadn't been that lucky. "How is she doing?"
"She's doing all right. It will be nice once we get everyone settled and become an atypical family again. Thanks T.P I appreciate you meeting." Shaking hands the two gentlemen headed off in different directions. Lee looked at his to do list and marked off the meeting and read on further. He had several more stops to make before he could meet the boys and Dotty back at the house. Glancing at his watch her knew he would have to hurry a couple of them might require a little extra time but he had connections and a few favors he would pull.
"Lee is that straight?" The boys asked as they each stood on a chair on the far side of the room hanging their new banner. It was three thirty and they all were working hard trying to get things looking just right as quickly as possible unsure when Amanda would arrive.
"Yes it looks great boys." They smiled at each other and finished tacking the banner to the wall. Jumping down they both walked back to check out their work.
"You know Lee, we knew you would find Mom. Thank you for being here for us. If we had to chose a stepfather we couldn't have picked a better one." Lee looked down at his stepsons and smiled. He too was thankful for the two young men that had become his sons. Jamie and Philip pulled Lee into a hug that surprised Lee and just as they parted they heard a sigh coming from the doorway.
All three turned and found Amanda standing in the doorway. Her eyes were filling with tears as the boys rushed forward and wrapped their arms around their mother. Everyone had tears forming in their eyes including Lee who was thrilled the boys had their mother back. As the small group moved forward inside the room Dotty arrived from the store with their food for the evening. After the boys released their mother Amanda went to her mother and they too embraced.
"When are you coming home?" Jamie asked later that night. They had eaten fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy and were now digging into the chocolate cake Dotty had made the night before. Neither boys had left Amanda's side for more than a few minutes and Lee had moved to a far end of the room allowing them time to talk.
"I'm not sure."
"Amanda, that is your home." Dotty said cutting in from her spot across the small table.
"Mother, I really don't want to go into it. Maybe someday I will be able to tell you at least some of what happened but right now I can't."
"So you aren't coming home with us tonight?" Philip asked and Amanda knew it was hurting her sons that she wasn't coming home. She wanted to return so badly yet there were things she had to work out first and one of them was working through the fact that she had killed someone. A thought had arisen while talking to Harry that afternoon and Amanda kind of liked it. After the boys left for the evening she would discuss it all with Lee.
"Will you come to the house tomorrow?"
"I think I can do that." Amanda said knowing they couldn't stay at the hotel forever and this time away was just enough to get her thoughts together before she faced what had happened by returning home.
"Well boys, it's getting late and you have school tomorrow." Dotty said as she cleared things from the table and threw them in the trash.
"Mom, will you be there when we get home tomorrow?"
"I promise I will be there." Amanda said smiling and hugging each boy separately and then her mother she walked them to the door and watched them pile into the car and drive off. Hugging herself as the cool night breeze caught her off guard she turned and closed the door. As she turned around two strong arms pulled her tightly. Laying her head on Lee's chest she sighed and smiled softy as he kissed her forehead.
"You were awfully quiet tonight." She said as they walked to the bed and sat down.
"Well I was just letting you have some time alone with the boys." Lee said pulling her into his arms as they laid down together.
"For what.allowing you to spend time alone with your sons who haven't seen you in nine months?" He replied as she brushed her lips across his.
"Yes for that." Looking up at her husband she began again, "I heard what the boys said to you when I arrived. I'm so thankful they have accepted you like that. To think how worried I was that they wouldn't ever accept you or if you would accept them. Yet now I realized those worries were unwarranted."
For a while they both just laid there in each other's arms listening to the sounds around them. "I went to see Harry today." Amanda said breaking the silence. "I've decided I'm going to stay at the Agency. We spent most of the day discussing things and I realized that no matter what happened yesterday can't change how much we have and can still do."
"I'm glad you were able to get that all sorted out." Lee said knowing Harry was someone they both trusted yet silently he wished she had been able to come to him.
"Lee, I know you are wishing I had talked to you but if I had you would have persuaded me to stay. I needed to talk to someone impartial and Harry was it. We also discussed a few other things. I want to move."
Lee sat there for a few minutes he had wanted to bring that topic up himself. In fact one of his errands that afternoon had been to a realtor to see of any available homes in the Arlington area. He had been pleased to find two that were fairly reasonable and were larger.
"Really? I had wanted to bring that up.I actually went to a realtor today and found two homes in Arlington not too far from yours that would allow the boys to stay at the same school."
"Really?" Amanda said sitting up smiling.
"Yes, but I wasn't sure if you would want to. I know going back to the house will be tough but it's your home and I just wasn't sure if you would want to move."
"But Lee that's just it. That house has never been our home. I want a home that will be ours."
"Then tomorrow before we go home we will go take a look at them." Lying back down Lee began rubbing Amanda's back. "I spoke with Billy today. He was offered Dr. Smyth's position and he accepted. That leaves his position open and he asked me if I wanted it."
"What did you tell him?"
"I said I would have to discuss it with my wife."
"Well your wife thinks you should take it."
"I guess I should but that would leave me without an assistant."
"What about Francine?"
"She took a position in a different branch so she is heading to New York. I was wondering since you are coming back.would you really want to keep working with your husband?" Amanda smiled and turning her head to face Lee she kissed him gently.
"Of course I will accept the position."
The two spent the remainder of the evening in each other's arms. They would have some really busy days ahead of them with finding a new home and the two moving their things down from the Q Bureau to their new office. Lee also had to somehow get everything going on the big surprise he had planned. He hadn't been able to get things scheduled for their anniversary but that was all right Amanda would understand afterwards that he knew.
"So what do you boys think?" Amanda asked two days later and she guided the boys and her mother through their soon to be new home. Two days prior she and Lee had toured the two homes and both had fallen in love with this one. There were five bedrooms, three baths, a huge family and living room, the kitchen was enormous and the backyard was large enough to play baseball and have a nice neighborhood barbeque.
"We love it!" They each exclaimed as they ran back towards the yard.
"What do you think mother?"
"Well I still don't understand why you want to move. The other house is perfect and we have lived there for so many years."
"That's just it Mother. The other house was my home for so many years Lee and I want a place that is ours. This one is perfect because it's larger and the boys won't have to change schools." Amanda didn't want to argue with her mother the decision had been made and she and Lee were buying it. Arriving back at the old house for the first time had been hard. She hadn't been able to spend any time in the living room alone and that had made the boys and her mother suspicious. But she and Lee had covered it up that telling them all that she hadn't seen them in so long she didn't want to miss a thing. At night she found herself clinging to Lee and neither wanted to continue living that way. Amanda had also gone in and spoken with Dr. Pfaff who told her that moving was a good choice and after only one session said she was progressing fine and would only need periodic reviews over the next six weeks to make sure she was doing all right.
"Can we go pick out a bedroom?" The boys asked as they came running back inside and without waiting for an answer they rushed up the stairs.
"Well I admit this is a lovely house. It will be nice having a bedroom in the basement. Privacy and quiet nights, a lot better compared to having it next to your guys. I guess I should go check on the boys."
Amanda and Lee both held in laughs until Dotty was out of earshot. Neither had really ever given thought of having a bedroom that close to her mother, until that moment. "Well, I guess we should learn to be a little quieter." Lee said chuckling.
"Oh my gosh, the boys!" Amanda turned bright red almost embarrassed at the thought yet they were adults.
"What's so funny?" Dotty asked a few minutes later as she and the boys descended the stairs.
"Nothing." Amanda and Lee smiled at each other and left the house hand in hand with the boys and Dotty following closely behind. As soon as the paperwork was finished they would be moving into their new home.
Amanda was just returning home from work. Lee had said he would be right behind her. It was early afternoon on a Friday and Amanda had been back for almost three months. Their new home was coming together nicely. Several boxes still littered different sections of the house but sometime soon they would get everything into its proper place. Amanda had been upset when their anniversary had come and gone with only a card and flowers from Lee but she figured with the events that had happened she was lucky that they were even together on their anniversary.
Going up the stairs she wanted to change and get a little more unpacking done before Lee got home. Yet as she entered their new bedroom she stopped as she spotted the dress she had worn for their wedding lying on the bed with a note.
"Amanda, if you will please do me the honor of meeting me at the Rose Garden at five o'clock I would be very grateful. Please wear this dress. Lee"
With a hint of curiosity Amanda, instead of putting on sweats, took a shower and got ready. Driving to the Rose Garden she found her mind reeling with ideas of what her husband was up to. The past several weeks he had been so full of surprises, roses at work, quiet evenings with the boys at friends and her mother out with the Curt. She would find cute notes telling her how much he loved her taped to the mirror on mornings he had to be at work before her. Lee had been acting strange since she had gotten back but this was the strangest.
"Lee, we're all ready." Jamie said as Lee fixed his tie making sure it was straight.
"Great, your mom should be arriving soon. You and Philip stay right around here okay?"
"Okay." Lee found himself more nervous then when they had gotten married. The decision to surprise Amanda with a wedding that had their friends in attendance had occurred to him shortly after her arrival. He had hoped that they would be able to do it on their anniversary but deciding to do it in the Rose Garden he had to wait until the temperature warmed and things started turning green.
Looking around Lee was thrilled so many people had been able to make it. Dotty was standing near the boys and Billy was there with Francine who had flown in from New York along with several others from the Agency. T.P and even Harry had taken time out of the schedules to make sure they were in attendance as Lee and Amanda recited their vows publicly. Now all Lee needed was his wife to arrive and he could give her the anniversary present he had been waiting to give her for three months.
"Lee, what is going on?" Lee turned sharply finding Amanda standing in front of him. She noted Lee's tux and her sons were in suits.
"Amanda, will you marry me?"
"Lee, we are married."
"I know, but everyone missed out on it. I thought this would be the perfect way to celebrate our anniversary. I know I'm three months late but I wanted it perfect and I think this will be perfect."
"Oh Lee, this is.is.I'm speechless." Amanda said hugging Lee who laughed as he had finally found her speechless.
There ceremony was beautiful and simple. Amanda had been able to keep her emotions in check when they had gotten married in the private ceremony but now in front of their friends and family she found a lump in her throat and tears forming in her eyes. Lee was by far the best man she could have ever found he had done so many wonderful things for her.
Even Lee found a lump forming in his throat. Thinking back he wasn't sure why it had seemed such a good idea to keep their marriage a secret. Their family was such a huge part of their lives and keeping it a secret had been so hard. Now in front of everyone they were finally expressing their love and devotion to one another making it seem final.
Later that night the two found themselves in a quiet hotel room out of the busy city limits. They had called ahead making sure their room was cleaned and ready this time not wanting to deal with what had occurred on their first honeymoon. Lying now together they both found so many things to be thankful for. A year ago she had left without a warning and having no idea if she would ever see her family again. But now she was with her husband wrapped in his loving arms.
"I don't know how you ever came up with this idea but I'm sure glad you did." Amanda said.
"Well I wanted to show you how much I love you."
"I think you did that a few minutes ago." She said smiling and placing her head on his chest.
"Well I have another surprise, this comes from Billy and Harry."
"Really.what is it?"
"Well you have been at the Agency for a long time yet something has gone undone. You my gorgeous wife have been without a codename. So the last couple weeks Billy, Harry and I have been thinking of what that would be and yesterday we finally agreed."
"Yes really. It took a lot of thinking because we all wanted it to be the same thing but that name died with her." Amanda knew right away Lee was talking about Dorothy and she also felt honored that he had even considered giving her that name with the meaning and memories it brought with it.
"But you figured one out?"
"Yes how does Scarecrow and Scarlett sound?"
Amanda sat there for a few minutes as she said the combination over and over in her head. "Not as good as Scarlett and Scarecrow but I guess I have to take what I can get." Lee laughed and shook his head. So many things had happened in the last year of their lives and the healing was nearing an end. Amanda no longer awoke with nightmares of that night that seemed ages ago. On a couple of occasions he had found her deep in thought, in her own world, and knew she was back in Detroit. But those moments were coming fewer and far between the longer she was back. Both were enjoying their new positions at the Agency and were both busy training several new agents and were preparing for a possible operation in Europe. So far Billy hadn't given them a definite go ahead but he was seriously considering sending them knowing the mission would get done even though he should send a younger team.
Francine kept in touch from her new position in New York. She missed them all and yet was thankful for the transfer. In the short time she had been there she had met a wonderful man and things were progressing smoothly, both Amanda and Lee expected a wedding invitation by the end of the year. Billy also was enjoying his new status at the Agency, yet Amanda and Lee wondered if he didn't miss his former one just a little. Several times they had found him just sitting in his old office staring at the walls. Yet his position was of great stature and while he was there Amanda wasn't worried of anything happening to either her or Lee.
Their new home was a wonderful decision. Because of the extra room Lee and Amanda had decided to let the boys get a puppy. They had chosen a beautiful Golden Retriever naming her Penny. The boys had made some new friends in the neighborhood and were still close enough to their old friends they frequently rode their bikes to the old neighborhood. So many things in such a short time yet as their lives began to move forward everyone realized that nothing really changes.
Every time I take a breath
And when I forget to breathe
You're watching over me
There you are
When I'm looking for the light
In the middle of the night
Searching for the brightest start
There you are.