Summary and author`s notes: Slightly off-canon first season filler, occurring after "I Am Not Now, Nor Have I Ever Been . . . A Spy". Contains possible spoilers for that episode, as well as "Lost and Found". Thanks to Beth for suggesting the alphabet challenge, and thanks to Sally for keeping track of it.
Amanda King stood over her bathroom sink, gripping its smooth porcelain edges with both hands and staring into the drain. Anyone watching her would think she was about to be sick, but in reality, she felt fine. Physically, anyway. Emotionally . . . well, that was another story. Amanda had some thinking to do, and she had come into the bathroom to do it. It was one of the few places in her busy household where she could invariably find a little privacy.
She looked at her teary-eyed reflection in the mirror, wondering how well she really knew the woman who stood there staring back at her. Amanda had seen the change in herself. She wasn't the same person she'd been four months ago. She wasn't the same person she'd been last week, for that matter.
Amanda reflected on the absurd chain of events that had brought her here, into her bathroom, to stare at herself in the mirror. It had begun with a trip to the train station, where a perfect stranger had interrupted her fairly conventional suburban life with instructions to get on a train and give a package to a man in a red hat. It had culminated last week with a kidnapping, a car accident, a trip to the hospital, and a case of partial amnesia, not to mention a terrorist plot to annihilate an entire city with nerve gas. This same chain of events had brought her to the brink of a very important decision, one that she was convinced she had to make today. Now. Here. In the bathroom.
It was this crazy spy business. It was so dangerous. Too dangerous. How many times in a single day could a person nearly get killed? Four? No, five, if you counted climbing down a fire escape from an eighth floor apartment. How long could she keep it up? How long before there wasn't a happy ending? How long before she didn't come back home to her mother and her sons?
And then there was the lying. She hated lying. Absolutely hated it. And it was only going to get worse. It was one thing to tell a story to her mother . . . it was for her mother's own safety and that of the boys. But what about Dean? He had been dropping some pretty strong hints lately that he was ready to take their relationship to the next level. He had even told Amanda that he loved her. She had almost been expecting a ring this past Christmas, although she honestly didn't know what she would have done if he had presented her with one. Valentine's Day was coming up in a couple of weeks, though . . .
Maybe she could continue to lie to her mother, but there was no way
she could even begin to lie to her husband. It just wouldn't be right,
she told herself, shaking her head and staring into the drain again.
If Dean was to become her husband, Amanda knew she would have to give up
her double life. No more formal Washington parties, she reflected,
with a twinge of regret. No more stakeouts or drops.
No more life-threatening situations, she thought wryly. No more Agency.
And no more Lee Stetson. At that notion, Amanda looked up at the
mirror and stared in surprise at her own reflection. She blinked
at herself, then blinked again, realizing that she no longer had
a decision to make. She had already made it. Four months ago.
At the train station. She turned on the faucet and splashed cool water onto her face, before she opened the bathroom door and took a few short steps to the telephone in the hallway. Gathering her courage, she picked up the receiver and dialed the familiar number. "Hello, Dean? It's me . . . No, no, I'm fine. Listen, could we meet somewhere for a cup of coffee? We need to talk."
Three hours later, Amanda found herself sitting on the steps of the Jefferson Memorial. She sat with her feet together and her arms wrapped tightly around her scrunched-up legs, drawing her knees all the way up to her chin. The sun had gone behind the clouds, and the temperature had dropped several degrees, but Amanda was totally oblivious to the chilly afternoon.
She had been sitting there for several minutes when she looked up to see a familiar figure climbing the steps to join her. She wasn't the least bit surprised to see him. She probably wouldn't have been surprised to learn that he had been watching her from a distance all afternoon.
"Hi," Lee said. "Want some company?"
"Hello. What are you doing here?"
"Just going for a walk. You?"
"Just came here to think."
"Oh. Well, I should leave you to your thoughts, then . . ." He started to turn away.
"No, Lee," she said. "Please stay. I'd really like the company."
"Are you okay?" he asked tentatively, as he sat beside her.
"I'm fine," she replied, a little bitterly. "Never felt better in my life."
Lee nodded. He knew better.
They sat for a minute, staring out over the water, before Amanda spoke again. "Dean and I broke up today."
"Oh. I'm . . . sorry."
"Don't be," she shrugged. "I'm the one who broke up with him."
"I did. It was something I wanted to do, Lee. Something I had to do." The expression on her face was bittersweet. "I wasn't in love with him. You know? And the thing is, I realized I never would be. It wouldn't have been fair to make him wait for something that I already knew was never going to happen. Dean's a good man. He deserves better than that. I`m just sorry I had to hurt him."
Lee was silent for a moment before he spoke. "Amanda, I know this is none of my business, but how do you know you'll never . . . you know . . ." he faltered, a little embarrassed. It really was none of his business.
"It's okay, Lee," she answered. "Remember a couple of weeks ago, with Eva? We talked about `when it's over, you'll know that it's over'?"
"Yeah . . ."
"Well," she stated simply. "It's over."
In a gesture of understanding, Lee reached over and squeezed Amanda's
hand. She looked up quickly at his touch. There it was again
. . . that almost imperceptible jolt of . . . something. She knew
she hadn't imagined it. She had felt it before, and she
felt it again now. She hadn't permitted herself to pay much attention to whatever it was . . . until today.
She scrutinized Lee's face, trying to determine if he had sensed it, as well, but she was suddenly unable to read his expression. The Scarecrow had slipped back into secret agent mode. An impassive mask had been drawn down over his face, and his eyes, full of expression only moments before, looked at her blankly. Amanda smiled knowingly to herself. Yep. He had felt it, too.