By:  Constance

Desk Soldier (Billy Melrose)

Pacing helps. Yelling doesn't help but I do it anyway. Francine gives me that look--she's wondering why I bellow. I'd explain it to her but she has to find out for herself if she wants to reach her potential. Amanda seems to understand. She cringes too, but then glances sympathetically afterward.

Lee knows. He knows because he yells for the same reasons I do.

The phones ring. Or they don't ring. I know they're out there and may or may not be alive anymore.

Missed check-ins. Late nights. Cassette tapes with horrifying demands thrown on my desk.

I pace.

Coifed (Francine Desmond)

She didn't sleep the night before. Hollow inside, memories.

As soon as the sky is light she dresses. Two hours on the hair. Nails. Lipstick. Foundation. Blush. Earings. Heels. Nylons. Eyeliner. Jewelry, nothing gaudy. The essence of professionalism.

It's a mask, a role as crucial as any played while working undercover. Its purpose is to hide the weakness from herself, more than from others. She knows she's at tear's edge, that she's in a business where people you like and laugh with over drinks might not be alive the next day.

She knows this. It doesn't make the hurting easier.

Dead Giveaway (Scarecrow)

When she told me I was just doing my job, my stomach bottomed out. It was a new sensation. I'd been scared before. This wasn't just scared.

I felt detached, as if I'd slipped into a darkly alternate world.

It wasn't Amanda.

It looked and sounded like her.

She only nodded at my assurances that the agency would pay for damages.

(Where was the effusiveness, the talking with her hands?)

It made sense out of the last few days. It made my present moment a hell.

Follow her. Play along. It was the only way to save the real Amanda.

Pass or Fail (Amanda, sometime in Spring, 1985) 8/10/2003

It's my third try.

In the past two years, I've been drugged. Almost laundered to death. Chloroformed. Shot at. Used as a revenge tool. Abducted. Gassed.

I'll be damned if my career becomes Amanda King: Professional Hostage.

So I'm going to pass this training course.

The times I've saved Scarecrow's life or survived a face-to-face with the KGB or gosh, once prevented the nuclear annhilation of Washgington, D.C.? Intuition. Panic. Luck.

I need more than luck (or a very protective partner) to survive.

I can't tell Lee this. He's misunderstand. He'd feel guilty.

It's my third try.

I will pass.