Time frame: This is a crossover story between SMK and Twice In A Lifetime. Those familiar with TIAL will understand that there is not a consistent timeline.
Archive: Sure, let me know where please
Summary: Alternate Universe warning. This is an AU type story with a crossover to TIAL. Lee discovers he has some regrets.
Thanks: Extreme thanks goes to the wonderful members of the smkauthors group for their invaluable input into improving this short story in both grammar and plot. Also, thanks to Diane for helping locate the disclaimer information regarding TIAL.
Lee Stetson stood in the shadows, something he was very good at. He watched the young men and women file across the makeshift stage as they beamed with pride. His own attitude was a bit darker and much more subdued. He wanted nothing more than to be welcome at this celebration, to be seated next to the woman he loved more than life itself, and to share in her joy when her oldest son accepted his high school diploma. Instead, he quietly lurked behind the bleachers, feeling empty and alone.
Then he heard the principal's voice announce, "Phillip King". Looking up, he saw the dashing young man take the stage and shake the principal's hand. Lee had watched Phillip grow up from a boy, but always from the outside looking in. As Phillip held up his newly earned parchment to pose for a picture, Lee's gaze drifted to the stands. There she stood, radiant as always, perfection incarnate. Her smile was broad and sincere as she snapped the photo. Then, she turned to the man standing next to her. He reached out for her hand and leaned over to kiss her. Some sick sense of voyeurism was all that kept Lee's eyes on the seemingly happy couple, the same fascination that causes people to watch an accident scene as they drive by.
Finally, he managed to turn away. He'd seen what he came for, and then some, so he skulked back to his car, a boring brown sedan. It was all he could get after he'd wrapped his Corvette around a tree last year. He'd spent the evening at the bar, again, and although the bartender had tried to get him to take a cab, Lee insisted he was fine. Twenty minutes later, there was nothing left of his precious 'Vette and he was on his way to the ER. His insurance company refused to cover another sports car because of his recent trouble with drinking and driving arrests.
He drove his four cylinder, four door to the nearest bar. Granted it was mid-afternoon on a Sunday, but he didn't care. In fact, he hadn't cared about much of anything in four years.
As he sat alone at a booth in the corner, he worked his way to the bottom of a bottle of scotch and remembered. Funny, he'd started drinking to help him forget, but all it really did was keep the pain fresh in his mind.
Four Years Earlier:
Lee sat at his desk in the Q Bureau anxiously awaiting Amanda's arrival. Although they weren't really dating, he knew he loved her and was pretty sure the feeling was mutual. He just wasn't ready to admit it. In his pocket today, he had two tickets to a sold out show that he knew she wanted to see. When she came in today, he would ask her out for their first real date.
He'd been thinking about it for a while now, but the timing never seemed
right. There was always something in the way. Then, last month,
Joe had returned from Africa, the proverbial prodigal husband. At
first, Lee wasn't worried about this development, at least not after the
initial jealousy wore off and Joe's innocence was proven. He figured
that Joe would be off
again to some foreign land. Much to his dismay, Joe decided to stay in DC. To make matters worse, he admitted to Lee after his final debriefing that he intended to do his best to get back together with his wife, Amanda. Of course, Joe didn't know anything about Amanda's involvement with the Agency or her 'friendship' with Lee.
It had been a month now, and although she had been a bit more reserved than usual, Amanda hadn't mentioned Joe except in passing and usually in reference to the boys. Lee patted his pocket and smiled, "Let's see good ol' Joe top this!"
When Amanda entered the office a few minutes later, he immediately knew something was not right. She was still beautiful, but she had an air of confusion to her face today and dark circles under her eyes. She obviously hadn't slept the night before. "Amanda, what's wrong?" All thoughts of the show tickets were gone as Lee imagined all the things that could have placed that look on her lovely features. "Are the boys okay? Your mother?"
She looked up at him as if seeing him for the first time. "Morning Lee. Mother and the boys are fine, thank you."
"Then what's wrong? Let me help."
She stared into his eyes at that last request. He felt like she was pleading with him with her eyes. It took his breath away. "I don't know if you can," she finally responded in a soft voice. "Last night Joe asked me to re-marry him."
Lee had to strain to hear her, and when he realized what she'd said he wished he'd misunderstood. But a glance at her left hand proved her statement. "Did you say yes?" He could barely get the words out; his mouth had suddenly gone dry.
"Not yet, but he insisted I wear the ring. I refused to keep it on around the boys though. They don't know about any of this, yet. I don't know what to do." She sounded like a desperate child as she placed her face in her hands and slowly began to cry.
Lee moved next to her and took her in his arms. He held her tightly, possessively and tried to whisper comforting words in her ear. Finally, he said, "Do you love him?"
She pulled back slightly to look at his eyes. She was seeking something from him, but he wasn't sure if he could give what she needed. After a pause, she answered, "Well, he's the father of my children and we have a long past..."
"That wasn't the question."
"Do I love him? I suppose I'll always love him for giving me my boys, but no, I don't love him as a husband anymore."
"Isn't that your answer then?" He started to feel hopeful.
"No, it isn't." She saw the confused look that came across Lee's face and clarified, "Lee, he's the father of my children. If there's a chance that it could work, don't I owe them that? They've been without a dad for most of their lives. He's not an evil man, he was just young and scared, but now he's ready to try again. If I were involved with someone else, he probably wouldn't have even asked me," she looked at Lee's face, but he couldn't meet her gaze. "But I'm not. Am I?"
It was a loaded question, and he wanted to yell from the rooftops that she was taken, but instead he slowly released his hold on her arms. "No," he whispered, "I suppose you're not."
She quit the Agency the following week to provide a 'normal' life for her family. Three months later, Lee stood silently, out of sight, at the back of the small community church and watched as Joe King kissed her lips after exchanging vows. Lee wiped a single tear from his eye and walked out to his car.
1990 - Bar Room
It had been a long four years. Lee shook his head, as he thought of all the cases he'd botched in the first six months. A suspension from active duty had given him time to think. He had decided that his job was all he had left, so he had thrown himself into it full force. Of course, he'd refused another partner, but aside from that his career had been exemplary.
His personal life was another matter. He had spent most of his free time drunk. The only exception being when he would watch her. At least once a week he had driven by the house he used to know so well. He would sit outside, sometimes for hours, watching the movements through the windows.
He had been there when Phillip got his driver's license and when Jamie had to get rushed to the hospital with appendicitis and for every ballgame he could possibly make it to. But, she never knew he watched. They hadn't spoken to each other since her last day at the Agency. Their good-bye was very impersonal and neither one shed a tear, at least not until they were at home alone that night.
As Lee tried to pour himself another scotch, he realized the bottle was empty. Staggering past the bar, he threw down a wad of money and slurred, "See ya round, buddy," to the bartender. The nice looking young man, dressed in a black suit, was washing out shot glasses as he nodded at him and said in a sad tone, "Yes, you will."
In the parking lot, Lee fumbled with his keys. Finally getting the door open, he climbed into the car. It had only been a couple of hours since he left the graduation and it was still daylight. The ignition turned over and he pulled out onto the road. A mile away, he went through a red light. He never saw the truck that plowed into the driver's side door.
As Amanda, Joe, Dotty, and the boys drove home from the ceremony and
reception, they came upon a group of police and other emergency vehicles
at an accident. Suddenly, Amanda had the strangest feeling, like
an incredible sense of loss. Joe, seeing her obvious discomfort,
reached across the armrest for her hand, which she pulled away before he
could grasp it. She
looked at the scene before her and was grateful she didn't recognize either the large red truck or plain brown sedan. They followed the detour around the incident and drove away in silence.
"Hello," Lee called out as he looked around the grand hallway. He felt sober and alert, but didn't know why. Then a young man appeared, "Ah, Mr. Stetson. We've been expecting you. I'm Mr. Jones. Will you follow me please?"
Lee looked at the young man and said, "How do you know my name? Where am I? What's going on?"
"So many questions! We don't have much time I'm afraid, so here it is. I know your name because I was assigned to you. You're outside the judge's courtroom and you're about to be sentenced."
"Sentenced? For what?" Lee was following Mr. Jones down the hall to a very large set of doors; his tone was increasingly angry.
"Why, for eternity of course. You've heard of judgement day? Well, this is yours." Mr. Jones placed his hand on the ornate door handle and started to open it.
"Wait a minute! Judgement day? As in 'dead'? I can't be dead."
"Oh really," the judge's voice bellowed out to Lee from behind his bench. "And why not?"
"Well," Lee was suddenly very intimidated, "how did I die?"
"Bottle of scotch, through a red light, big truck, SMASH!"
"What? NO!" Lee tried to turn around to head back out of the courtroom, but Mr. Jones' hand on his arm stopped him. "Mr. Stetson, you are wasting time. Can we please proceed," the judge's tone sounded insistent.
Lee faced the judge and declared boldly, "Fine then. Let's get this over with. I'm no saint, but I've led a decent life. I served my country well."
"Yes, yes, I see that. But what about serving God?"
"Well, God gave you the marvelous gift of a good life and instead of honoring Him by doing something with it, you spent your time drowning your sorrows."
"Good life? My parents died when I was five. My uncle never wanted me. My first love was killed before my eyes. The woman I wanted to spend my life with left me for her ex-husband. And I died in a stupid car accident! What's so good about that?"
"Mr. Stetson, you are an extremely self-absorbed man. Did you ever tell her how you felt?"
Now Lee was lost. "What? Tell who, what?"
"Amanda. Did you ever tell her you loved her?"
"Well, no. The timing was never right. I never had the opportunity."
As Lee watched, the judge waved his hand and a viewscreen lit up, showing different moments along his life but all with Amanda. They were tender, affectionate moments, the times he treasured. The final scene was of her second marriage. Lee heard the minister say, "If there is anyone here who knows why these two should not be wed, let him speak now or forever hold his peace." He saw himself at the back of the church, hidden from sight, with his head bowed in shame.
"It seems to me Mr. Stetson, that that would have been a perfect time to tell her. Not to mention the dozens that came before it." The judge looked solemn. Lee glanced at Mr. Jones and asked, "What are you here for anyway? Do I need a witness?"
"No, I'm here to defend you," Mr. Jones replied.
"Well, then for God sakes, man, defend me!"
"I need some help from you for that."
"Anything. I'll do anything." Lee was pleading with the heavenly servant.
"Your Honor," Mr. Jones smiling addressed the judge. "Mr. Stetson was a good man who had trouble with personal relationships and trust because of his past. We ask the court for leniency."
"Mr. Stetson, did you mean it when you said you'd do anything?" The judge leaned forward and grinned.
"Well," Lee hesitated, "yeah. What the...heck. What are my options?"
Pleased with himself, the judge relaxed back and told Lee that he would be sent back to a critical point in time, that he would only have three days to correct his former self, and that no one would recognize him. "You are a free agent in the universe with the blessing of this court and God Almighty." The judged banged his gavel down.
The desk in front of Lee was not his own, but it was the same basic institutional style. It was bare except for a phone and a small tape recorder. That's when he heard her voice. "Doctor. Are you all right?"
"What?" Lee looked up to see an attractive young woman he knew to be Agent Simmons sitting in a chair opposite the desk. "Oh yes, yes, I'm fine. But I think we're done for now." He wanted to get her out of the room so he could figure out what was going on.
"But, Doctor, we just started. I have to have my annual psychological review done by the end of the week or I'll be pulled off field duty." She whined at him.
"I'm sorry Agent Simmons, but I forgot all about another appointment I have today. I promise, we'll get you taken care of in plenty of time." He stood up to show the pretty red-head to the door.
"All right Doctor. I'll set something up with you tomorrow."
"Fine, fine," he muttered impatiently as she finally left the office. He closed the door on her retreating figure and turned around in a circle, checking out his surroundings. In a loud whisper he called out, "Jones! Are you here?" A knock at the door startled him. He answered it, prepared to tell whomever it was to go away. What he saw was Mr. Jones dressed as one of the military guards found throughout the Agency.
"It's about time!" Lee exclaimed. "What am I supposed to do?"
"That's entirely up to you," Mr. Jones replied. "I'm just here to let you know that your next patient will be here any minute."
"I can't treat patients. I'm not really a doctor!" This whole situation was becoming more and more confusing. "What year is it anyway? When is it?"
"It is three days before Mrs. King's last day at the Agency."
"What! Then she's already accepted his proposal. It's too late."
"Are you sure about that?"
Before Lee could answer, the outer door opened and in walked Lee Stetson. "Hi ya, doc. Could we please get this over with? These damn annual reviews are a pain." Stetson strolled past the guard and the Doctor without being invited in. He sat on the small leather couch and impatiently started bouncing his leg. "Hey, Dr. Wolfe, are you coming or what?"
Mr. Jones smiled at Dr. Wolfe/Lee, and left. As Dr. Wolfe closed the office door, he was amazed at the arrogance of the man before him. He was depressed, but still managed to maintain that self-confidence for which Scarecrow was known. "Just you wait, buddy," Dr. Wolfe thought to himself, "you're about to be knocked down a few notches."
Dr. Wolfe smiled at Stetson and started the tape recorder. "Agent Stetson, I know your partner is about to leave the Agency. Why don't you tell me how you feel about that."
Lee was immediately on his feet, pacing the room like a caged tiger. "I don't see what that has to do with anything."
"I'm the doctor here agent. I'd just like to know how you're dealing with the stress of losing a partner."
"It's not as if she died, doc. She's getting married, end of story."
"Really, then why are you so defensive about her?" Dr. Wolfe was trying desperately to get Lee to open up about what he was feeling.
"You know what, I just remembered something. We'll have to finish this another time." With that, Lee Stetson walked out of the doctor's office.
Then Mr. Jones appeared, in his black suit, before a stunned Dr. Wolfe. "How am I going to get him to tell her how he feels? He won't even admit it to himself."
"You're familiar with the Agency. Pull some strings." Mr. Jones cryptically replied.
Later that afternoon, Dr. Wolfe entered Billy Melrose's office. "Mr. Melrose, I'm concerned about one of your agents."
Billy's expression became serious. Concern from an Agency psychologist was not to be taken lightly. "Who? What's the problem?"
"Lee Stetson walked out during our meeting this afternoon. I believe he's going into a severe depression over his partner's resignation. I would recommend he be pulled from field duty, at least until he completes his evaluation."
"I know he's not happy about Mrs. King's decision, but don't you think 'severe depression' is a bit harsh?" Billy knew that Lee loved Amanda, but he really hoped he'd be okay.
Dr. Wolfe looked at Billy with disbelief. He couldn't believe that Billy would disregard this warning. "No, Mr. Melrose, I don't think it's too harsh. He needs serious help, and the sooner the better."
"Consider it done then. Set him up for another appointment."
Dr. Wolfe released a heavy sigh. Finally something seemed to be going his way. Now he just needed to get his former self to listen and acknowledge his feelings.
Lee had a positive attitude for the first time in years. As he entered 'his' office to begin his second day as Dr. Wolfe there was a skip to his step. He came to an abrupt halt when he saw her. It was obvious that she'd been crying, and he wasn't sure what to say to her. He didn't even know why she was here now.
He closed the door softly; she looked up with an apology in her eyes. "I'm so sorry. I got in early today and thought I'd wait for you in here. I know I should've waited in the anteroom, but I needed some privacy from the guards at the outer doors. I didn't plan to start crying, but I guess I did it anyway." She was finishing wiping up her face as this poured out.
'Lee' smiled. No one could say so little and so much all at the same time and all in one breath. "Aman...I mean Mrs. King, that's okay, really, but what are you doing here?"
"We have an appointment today. It's my discharge from duty evaluation. I put it off as long as I could, but since tomorrow's my last day, Billy needs the confirmation letter that I actually came to see you on his desk by 5:00 today."
"Oh." How am I supposed to evaluate her? This sucks! "Well, then, let's begin."
"Um, okay. Where?"
"Well, uh, why don't you tell me about why you're leaving the Agency. Or, maybe, why you were crying when I came in."
Amanda looked down at the helpless tissue she'd been torturing in her hands. It had mascara smears, was damp, and couldn't have been crushed any smaller. Hesitantly, but with a sad smile, she said, "I suppose those two things are related. I was crying because I'm leaving the Agency."
Dr. Wolfe/Lee was taken aback by that response. He met her eyes and saw how lost she looked. "But," he managed to sound professional despite his desire to take her in his arms and never let go, "aren't you leaving to get married? Shouldn't that be a happy time?"
"Yes, it should be." She looked down at the floor. "The problem is, I don't love the man I'm supposed to marry. But, he's the father of my boys and they deserve to have a dad again."
"Does he know about the Agency? Does he know what you're giving up?"
She laughed an unamused laugh. "Dr. Wolfe, nobody knows what I'm giving up."
It was killing him to see her like this. He'd never realized the anguish she'd gone through over this decision. "I really was a selfish son of a..." "I wouldn't finish that thought if I were you." Lee looked up to see Mr. Jones waving at him from his position on the arm of the small couch.
"Thank goodness you're here!" Dr. Wolfe almost jumped out of his chair.
"Where else would I be, Doctor?" Amanda asked in a puzzled tone.
"She can't see me, Lee."
Stunned embarrassment crossed Lee's features. He stammered over a way to explain his outburst. "Uh, yes, well, all I meant was that it's good you came to see me. It seems that you have a lot to work through." He knew it sounded flimsy, but it was all he had.
"Uh, huh, okay," Amanda responded in a placating tone.
Dr. Wolfe decided to plunge ahead. He attempted to regain a detached posture then looked her intently in the eye and said, "So, tell me, Mrs. King, what would you be giving up?"
With a heavy sigh she looked at him and revealed a large smile that was almost a laugh.
He smiled back with uncertainty and asked, "What's so funny?"
"It's the strangest thing. You just seem so familiar to me. It's very easy to talk to you. I don't understand it."
He bowed his head bashfully before responding. "I guess you don't have to understand. I'm here to listen. That's my job."
She nodded and looked at her hands again.
"So, are you going to answer the question?"
In a frustrated tone, Amanda replied, "Nothing and everything. Is that confusing?"
"No, I understand completely." She was surprised by this reaction. She said, "It's Lee; by leaving the Agency I'm leaving him."
"Is he the nothing or the everything?"
"Well, I thought he was everything, but apparently he doesn't reciprocate that feeling. That's why I have to go."
"What do you mean by that?" Dr. Wolfe asked, his heart felt like it was sputtering in his chest.
Amanda shook her head and said, "This is confidential, right?"
"Of course it is."
"No, I mean really confidential. After all, this is the Agency."
He smiled at her query. He knew only too well that very little was ever kept truly private in their business of secrets. "Don't worry, Mrs. King, this meeting's contents will be kept strictly between you and I."
"All right then," she jumped into her explanation. "It's just that, well, Lee and I have been partners for a while now. Over the past few months though, we've been on a relationship roller coaster."
Dr. Wolfe pretended to not know what she was talking about. "What do you mean by that?"
"Well, we've been dancing around whether or not to have one, I guess."
"Yeah, a more personal one."
"Oh, I see."
"Sorry, Doctor, but I doubt that you do because I'm not sure that I do. We've been playing this game for a while now, but something always happens and he pulls back. I tried to understand; after all he's had a rough life. He had a hard time trusting anyone. But, I can't continue living in this state of emotional limbo.
"I finally thought we were making some headway, but then Joe, my ex-husband, came back into the picture. Before I knew it, he asked me to re-marry him. At first I thought no way, I don't love him. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized he's a good man, he treats me well, and my boys deserve a father. I may not love him like a husband anymore, but I did at one time, and I owe my children a family. So, I decided to quit the Agency because Lee had left me hanging one too many times."
"I have one more question, Mrs. King." Dr. Wolfe was trying hard to hide the losing battle he was having with his emotions, but he had to know the answer to this particular question. "What would it take for you to stay at the Agency?"
She paused and looked at him as if she hadn't considered that same question a thousand times on her own. As she stood up to leave, she stopped next to his chair. Keeping her eyes straight ahead, she said simply, "For Lee to ask me to." She walked out the door.
A stunned Dr. Wolfe caught up with her in the waiting room; he put his hand on her arm. She stopped and turned to face him. The room was otherwise empty, so he asked her, "If Lee asked you to, you'd stay?"
She gave him a shy smile and nodded.
"What about Joe? What would you do about your wedding?"
"I haven't accepted his proposal yet."
Dr. Wolfe's eyes grew wide with surprise. "What! You haven't accepted yet! Then why did you quit?"
Amanda shook her head and replied, "I decided to wait until after today to accept his proposal. If Lee lets me walk out of the office today, then I'll know that it's really over and I really meant nothing to him. If he stops me and doesn't let me leave, then Joe will never know how close I came to marrying him again." With that, she walked through the outer door, leaving a speechless Dr. Wolfe in her wake.
'Lee' had forgotten that Mr. Jones was sitting in his office still. As he reentered the office, Mr. Jones stood up and come over to the desk. "Wow," he said, "what a messed up guy you were."
"Yeah, I can't believe I let her walk out of my life and she thinks I did it because I didn't care."
"Why did you do it?" Mr. Jones inquired.
"At the time, I really thought it would make her happy to have her family back together. All I ever really wanted was for her to be happy. I knew she wanted a normal life, and I couldn't offer that. But Joe could. Boy, was I a fool."
That afternoon, Dr. Wolfe entered his office to find none other than Lee Stetson angrily storming around the room. Lee looked up, "How could you do that?" He demanded. "How could you go to Billy and tell him that I'm too depressed to be on active duty?"
"Look at yourself. You're running scared from your own feelings and from Mrs. King and, most importantly, from any future happiness you could hope for. If you don't want to admit it to yourself, that's fine, but I refuse to be responsible for allowing you back on field duty until you deal with these issues."
Lee ran his hand through his hair, frustrated, and said, "I don't know what you're talking about, but if this is the only way to get back on field duty, here I am. Let's talk."
"Okay, let's start with Amanda. Do you want her to leave the Agency?"
"What? No, of course not. We're partners and...friends."
"Is that all?"
"I don't know where you're headed with this, doc, and I don't see what this has to do with me being reinstated." Lee began to pace again.
"I notice you didn't answer the question." Dr. Wolfe stated pointedly.
"It wasn't worth answering," Lee tried to stall.
"Listen, Lee, you need to face up to your feelings. Stop being a coward and start trusting in someone beside yourself. Otherwise, you're going to end up very lonely." The look on Dr. Wolfe's face told Lee the man spoke from experience.
"Doc, I know you're trying to help, but I'm fine. Really."
"Okay, Lee. If you're so fine, then why haven't you slept decently in a week? Why do you go home at night to an empty apartment and drink scotch for dinner? Why do you dream about her after you finally pass out?" Dr. Wolfe said this in a quiet tone, but with such sadness in his voice that it was almost palpable.
"How the hell do you know that?" Lee's voice was soft, quivering.
"That doesn't matter, Lee. What's important is that you tell her how you feel, before it's too late." Dr. Wolfe spoke with urgency as he tried to salvage his own fate.
Lee stood hesitantly in front of the doctor and said, "Thanks, I'll think about it." Then he walked out.
That evening, Dr. Wolfe managed a smile as he stood in the bushes behind the white house on Maplewood Drive. It felt so right to be there, waiting for her mother to leave. When he peaked in the window though, he saw not only Amanda, Dotty, and the boys, but also Joe. He hoped that Joe would be going too, but as he watched, Dotty, Phillip, and Jamie put on their jackets and said good-bye, leaving Joe and Amanda alone. He ducked just in time as Amanda opened the window over the sink. He thought about leaving, but now that the window was open, he could hear everything said in the room and he had to find out what was going on.
"Amanda, I don't see the problem."
"Listen, Joe, I told you, I just need some more time."
"But what's to think about? We get along fine, the boys are glad I'm around more, and you told me you're not seeing anyone."
"It's not that simple, Joe." Amanda said in an exasperated tone.
"You don't love me." He sounded saddened by his own words.
She looked up at him and tried to smile, but she knew that he could read her true feelings. "No, I don't." She finally whispered. "At least not as someone should love the person they're going to marry."
"I understand, Amanda. Really, I do. We can handle this however you want. We can get married and remain platonic. At least that way, the children will have a mom and dad under one roof. Then, as time goes on, if you want to advance our relationship to a more traditional marriage, we could."
'Lee' wanted to go into the room and level him. He made marrying Amanda sound like a business proposal. She deserved so much more than that. She deserved the passion and fire of a real love, not just a surface marriage.
"Joe, I think that's enough for tonight. I really don't want to discuss this anymore. I will think about what you've said though. For now, I just want to be alone." She was holding back tears. She knew that he would follow through with his offer, but she didn't want a legal marriage to Joe. She wanted Lee to want her. She wanted to be married again, to give her boys a family, but she also wanted to marry a man she desired. Someone she wanted to share her bed and heart with.
"Alright Amanda, goodnight." Joe quietly let himself out the front door.
As Dr. Wolfe/Lee remained hidden in the backyard, he heard Amanda begin to cry. His heart ached with wanting to hold her. Her cries became more anguished as she said aloud, "Oh Lee. Why can't you want me as much as I want you?" 'Lee' was about to knock on the back door after hearing that remark when Mr. Jones appeared.
"You really shouldn't do that, Mr. Stetson."
"Listen to her. I have to go to her. I have to tell her what a fool I was." He was angrily pointing toward the open window as he whispered his intent.
"She doesn't know that you're Lee. She thinks you're a staff doctor at the Agency. Remember? If you try this, you may blow the only chance you have at setting things right." He sounded logical and sure of himself, but he knew that Lee was suffering terribly.
"I'll find a way to make myself listen to reason. I have to. I can't let her marry that...that...lawyer. He makes it sound like a professional arrangement. What did she ever see in him?"
Mr. Jones led the distraught man away from the house and tried to reassure him that tomorrow would be a better day.
The next day, Dr. Wolfe was pacing his office when Mr. Jones walked in wearing the guard's uniform. "Ah, Mr. Jones. I was wondering when you'd be paying me a visit."
The younger man nodded and replied, "You know, there's only a couple of hours left until your third day is over."
"Hopefully that's all I need. Anything can happen in a couple of hours."
"That's true; come on let's go to the good-bye party." Mr. Jones placed a friendly hand on 'Lee's' shoulder and together they left the room.
The number of people gathered in the bullpen was amazing. It seemed as if the entire agency had come to bid farewell to Mrs. King. As Dr. Wolfe and Mr. Jones entered the room, they noticed Amanda through the massive crowd. She was having a conversation with several agents. Lee was nowhere in sight.
As Billy and Francine approached Amanda, the other agents moved away. "Amanda," Francine began, "we just wanted to say...well, you've been a good friend and a fine agent. We'll miss working with you. Keep in touch." The blonde agent turned abruptly on her expensive heels and vanished into the crowd.
"Did you make her say that, sir?" Amanda asked conspiratorially.
"Nope, all her idea, but I agree 100%." Billy leaned forward to give Amanda a peck on the cheek and then also disappeared. Amanda wiped the tears from her eyes before they could fall.
She stood in the crowded room feeling very much alone. She'd said personal good-byes to just about everybody; "Everybody except Lee," she thought sadly. So far, she hadn't even seen him; she didn't know if he'd even come to her party.
Across the room, practically cowering in a cubicle sat another very lonely person. He'd been so caught up in his thoughts of self-pity that he didn't hear Billy walk up behind him. "I wondered where you were hiding, Scarecrow."
"Hey, Billy. I'm not hiding. I'm just..."
"Yeah, I know. I'm not going to lecture you about this, Lee. You're an adult. But, the least you could do is say good-bye to your partner." With that, Billy slipped back into the mass of people.
A moment later, Lee took a deep breath, "Time to face the music." As he stood up from his chair, he noticed Dr. Wolfe and a marine guard staring at him with sad expressions. He just shook his head in annoyance. "Dr. Wolfe is plain crazy," Lee thought. "I survived long before I ever met Amanda and I'll be fine without her. They'll all see." He strode purposefully to the other end of the room to where Amanda was standing, politely saying good-bye to several members of the steno pool.
She saw him approach out of the corner of her eye. Part of her wanted to bolt from the room, but the stronger part knew she had to see this through to the end. "One last good-bye, and I never have to look back." Her emotions reeled, but her limited Agency training came in handy, as she tried to keep up a friendly exterior. The steno pool girls excused themselves when they noticed the tension skyrocket as Scarecrow got closer.
"Hi," he said softly.
"I was wondering if you were going to make it today." She tried to sound disinterested, as if she hadn't been waiting for him all day, much less all of her life.
"Yeah, uh, I got busy with paperwork and lost track of time. Sorry about that." He shuffled his feet like a nervous teenager as he stuffed his hands into his pockets.
"That's okay, Lee. You don't owe me anything." The meaning behind her words was thinly veiled. She'd never looked so resolute to him before.
They both hesitated a moment, letting the harsh sound of her voice sink in; finally, Lee found his voice, "Well, so, I guess this is good-bye then, huh?" He studied the tops of his shoes intently. "What will you do now?"
"I'll do what I've always done, Lee. I'll be a suburban housewife and a mom to my children. And yes, it's good-bye."
"Okay," he paused, unsure of himself. "Don't be a stranger." He was losing the battle with his emotions and knew that if he didn't get out of there soon, everyone in the room would see through him.
"Sure, right, whatever." Amanda King turned her back on him and with her head held high, walked toward the glass doors of the bullpen for the last time. She didn't know how she was holding back the tears, only that the restraint wouldn't last long. She had to get out of there fast.
Lee looked up at her retreating form and tried to casually glance around the room. But then he saw Dr. Wolfe staring at him, pleading with his eyes. Everything that the doctor had said the day before came to Lee in a flash, as did his potential future, a future without Amanda in it. Lee took a deep breath, knowing what he had to do.
Her right hand reached out for the door handle, but just before she grasped it she heard Lee from across the room.
"Amanda! Wait, don't go!"
Every eye in the office was suddenly staring right at Scarecrow, then over to Amanda, and then back again at Lee. It was like watching a tennis match and the verbal ball was now in Amanda's court.
Without turning around she said in a hushed tone, "Why not, Lee?" She could feel the gazes of every person in the room burning through her back.
"Please, Amanda. We need to talk." Lee hadn't moved from his spot, there was still a roomful of people between them, but the silence was deafening.
"There's nothing left to say, Lee." Still, she refused to turn around. She wouldn't let all of her co-workers see her crying for a man who couldn't or wouldn't share her love.
"Amanda, I love you. Please, I'm begging you, don't go." It was almost a whisper.
She whirled around like a stack of fall leaves caught in a strong wind. "You what?" Her voice cracked. He had to strain to hear her.
He walked to her, through the throng of agents not even pretending to be minding their own business. Finally, he stood in front of her. He reached down and gently wiped the tears from her cheeks. "I love you. Stay with me."
"Oh Lee! I love you too!"
Dr. Wolfe began to yell out, "Woo-hoo," when suddenly he was no longer in the crowded bullpen, but an even more crowded stand of bleachers.
Amanda looked sideways at her husband and said, "Lee, I'm excited for Phillip too, but he'll be so embarrassed if he hears you yelling like that!" She smiled and tenderly kissed him before taking another picture of her handsome son.
Lee looked around, his disorientation fading. He saw Jamie on Amanda's other side and Joe and Dotty to Jamie's right. "Really, Lee," Jamie declared. "You're going to completely blow your cool step-dad image." Lee smiled. As he looked to his left, he saw Mr. Jones sitting next to him.
"Mr. Jones. This is incredible," he said quietly to the man in the black suit.
"Yes, Lee, it is. You and Amanda were married about a year after that little display at her party. She stayed on at the Agency and you two are an unstoppable team."
"Her family knows me." He felt such pride at this statement.
"They know you and love you, but they still don't know what you guys do for a living."
"How can I thank you? Can I introduce you to Amanda?"
"No, I'm afraid not. In a moment I'll be gone and so will all your memories of your other life. All you'll remember is the past you and Amanda created together."
"Lee, is everything okay?" Amanda's voice seemed to come to him through a haze. He turned to see her beautiful face and smiled. "Oh yeah, everything's great."