The Scarecrow Starts to Understand

By Diane Minter

Disclaimers: Scarecrow and Mrs. King is copyrighted to Warner Brothers and Shoot the Moon Production Company. This story, however, is copyrighted to the mentioned author. This story is for entertainment purposes ONLY. If you would like to add it to an archive, please just let me know.  Some of the buildings mentioned are fictitious, created only to enhance the story.

Summary: When Amanda turns Lee down for an assignment, he gets suspicious and follows her.  What he finds out might just surprise him.

Author's Notes: A big thanks to Amy (my partner in crime <G>) for helping write this story and lending me her talents as a beta reader. Also, I would like to send out another big thanks to my wonderful beta reading friends. <G>

Timeframe:  Mid-First Season

Rating: G

Chapter 1

Lee Stetson exited his apartment building with a spring in his step and a soft whistle on his lips. Looking up at the bright greeting the radiant sky offered, he pulled his sunglasses from his jacket pocket and placed them over his eyes. Taking note of the doorman, Lee smiled. "Good morning, Floyd. Beautiful day, isn't it?"

Floyd Fellows grinned at the unusually chipper man. "Yes, Sir. Quite beautiful," he replied, and nodded at the hand waving acknowledgement as the younger man walked towards his silver Porsche.  `He's especially happy for a Wednesday morning. Wonder who the lucky lady was this time?'

Lee's dimpled grin increased in size at the look of happy confusion written on the older man's face as he drove past him. Humming to the tune playing on the radio, thoughts of white beaches, exotic drinks, and beautiful women entered his mind. "Three more days till I'm outta' here for two whole weeks of fun in the sun."

Pulling into I.F.F.'s parking lot twenty minutes later, Lee veered his Porsche into a parking slot directly in front of the building. "It must be my lucky day."

Checking his appearance in the mirror, he opened the car door and exited the vehicle. Continuing to hum the tune that ran through his head, he greeted the older woman at the front desk with one of his practiced, winning smiles. "Good morning, Mrs. Marston. I believe Felix is the choice word for the day."

As Mrs. Marston handed the handsome agent his badge, she narrowed her eyes in wonder at his happy tone. "Good Morning, Scarecrow."

Lee pushed the button for the elevator that led to the secret underground offices of the government agency for which he worked. To his surprise, the doors immediately opened and he stepped inside. `I need to call my bookie and make a bet on the races today,' he mused.

As the elevator doors opened, he was greeted by Francine Desmond's scowling face. "Good morning, Francine."

Francine grumbled something Lee didn't quite understand as she brushed past him and entered the elevator. Ignoring her negative vibes, he continued down the corridor, determined not to let anyone, or anything, ruin the last three days before his vacation.

His step slowed slightly as he noticed the steno pools newest member walking towards him from the opposite end of the hall. She was around twenty-two or twenty-three by his estimate. Her soft blonde curls bounced on her shoulders as she walked towards him. Taking the opportunity to introduce himself, he opened the doors that led to the Bullpen. "Hello."

Blue eyes locked with hazel as a rosy blush crept into her cheeks, a direct result of his brilliant smile. "Hello."

His eyes followed the soft sway of the pink skirt that did very little to cover her legs. `What a set of legs! They don't ever end...' Clearing her throat to drag his attention to her face, she extended her hand. "My name is, Kelly. You're Lee Stetson...right?"

Lee accepted her hand and returned the handshake. "That would be me." His smile turned mischievous as gave her a quick wink.

The conversation was cut short as the voice of his superior boomed through the Bullpen. "Scarecrow! My office! Now!"

Lee's smile never faded as he started to turn and head towards Billy's office. "Maybe we can catch lunch together sometime?"

Her enthusiastic smile answered his question, and he decided to continue his flirtations all the way to Billy's office. "I'll catch up to you later on today, maybe."

She nodded her agreement and went to return the files to an agent whose desk sat at the back of the Bullpen. Lee couldn't have been happier. `A new woman to "take out," three days till vacation. . .' He stopped momentarily before entering the office as his keen eyes scanned the Bullpen, `and no Amanda King.'

Taking his nonchalant mood with him into his superior's office, he closed the door and took a seat before his boss's desk. "What's up, Billy?"

Billy tried to maintain a gruff appearance as he noted the smug look on Lee's face. He knew that what he was about to tell Lee would send that "happy go lucky" attitude right out the window. "I have an assignment for you."

Lee turned his head to follow the movement of the Section Chief. "Come on, Billy. You know that I start my vacation in three
days." Holding up three fingers on his right hand, he counted them with his left index finger. "That's one...two...three."

Billy coughed to hide the chuckle that formed in his throat, caused by the obvious worry on his young agent's face. "It's a milk run, and it won't disturb your plans. You'll still be able to be off in three days." He smiled. "All you need to do is attend the annual fundraiser for Senator Burton's campaign fund tonight."

Lee narrowed his eyes towards the Section Chief. "And what am I supposed to do at this fundraiser?"

Billy took a seat behind his oak desk and picked up a folder that contained data on the informant. Opening the cover, he took out a picture and handed it to Lee. "You need to meet with this man. He'll give you a cassette tape that contains vital information on the status of some of our undercover agents in Europe."

Lee studied the picture, of the man. He appeared to be around his age, with some graying around the edges of his black hair. "Is he French?"

Billy nodded as he began to tap his pen against the wood grain of his desk. "Is your tuxedo back from the cleaners?"

Lee nodded as he continued to inspect the picture. "Yeah. So," he hesitated in asking the next question, afraid that there was still more to this "easy" assignment. Taking a deep breath, he asked, "Is that all?"

Tossing his pen on the desk before leaning back into his leather chair, Billy crossed his arms and studied his agent. "You'll need a date."

Lee huffed at the idea of having to try and find a date.  His momentary lack of enthusiasm started to change as he thought about the young lady he had just met. `Perhaps I can take the young blonde...what was her name...oh yeah, Kelly, with me.' He looked his boss in the eye and smiled. "I don't think that will be a problem, Billy."

Billy continued to softly rock back and forth in his chair. "No, it shouldn't be. I've got just the person in mind."

Lee's smile quickly disappeared as he stared questioningly at Billy, apprehension written all over his face. "Who?"

Billy uncrossed his arms and placed them on his desk as he locked eyes with Lee. "She's a lovely lady, housewife, two kids—"

Lee openly cringed at Billy's insinuation. "No way, Billy. What about Francine?"

Pushing himself back from his desk using his hands, Billy stood and walked over to the window that overlooked his employees. He thought about his earlier conversation with Francine and her obvious agitation of Amanda King going in her place. "Amanda has to go."

Lee stood and began his ritual of pacing in front of the large desk. "Why? She's not trained, Billy. She'll only get in the way.  If
anything goes wrong—"

Billy turned to face him. "She's going—and that's an order, Scarecrow. She's the only one that," pointing to the picture Lee had
thrown on the desk, "Donovan Boudinet said he'd give the information to. He's a new to this double agent stuff, and wants someone he can trust. She's it."

Lee stopped in his tracks as he listened to the words of his boss. "What do you mean she's the only one?"

Crossing his arms, Billy leaned against the windowsill as he waited for Lee to calm down. "Apparently, Boudinet's family visited the U.S., on and off, for a few years in the late sixties. His parents had him tutored at their home by one of the French teachers from Amanda's high school and—"

"What's that got to do with Amanda?" Lee asked, while rubbing his temples with his thumb and the forefinger of his left hand in an attempt to vanquish the headache he was sure to come.

Billy held up his right hand to stop Lee from interrupting him. "Let me finish, Lee." Seeing his agent curtly nod his head, he continued, "like I was saying, this teacher was able to keep Donovan caught up in his studies while they were here." Looking up to be sure he had Lee's attention, Billy smirked. "Now, this is the part you've been waiting for."

"Well?" Lee asked, beginning to grow even more annoyed.

Billy's wide grin didn't go unnoticed by Scarecrow as he continued his explanation. "Donovan's parents didn't want the usual embassy tutors. They wanted their son to be exposed to some American culture. So Amanda went along with this teacher, from time to time, to help out. There you have it. Amanda just happened to be in the right place at the right time."

Billy ignored the grunt that Scarecrow expressed as he headed back towards his desk. "Oh, and before I forget, it seems he knows she does stuff for us from time to time--"

Lee took a step closer to his superior. "He knows what!?! How the heck did that happen?"

Sighing heavily at the characteristic impatience of the man before him, Billy continued, "to be honest, I don't know. There are so many intelligence officers running around D.C. with cameras in hand, taking pictures." Stopping to maintain his "I'm in charge" stare with Lee, he continued, "she's probably been seen with you, and somebody put two and two together." Billy looked back to the Bullpen as he thought, "it's only natural for someone to assume she's an agent.  She doesn't exactly match the description of the usual women you've been known to date.'

Lee flopped down in the chair he had previously occupied. "So much for an easy three days before I leave on vacation."

Billy smiled as he watched Scarecrow accept defeat. "I've already called her and told her to come in this morning for a brief meeting. We can tell her then."

Rolling his eyes, Lee stood and started to exit. "I can't wait."

Billy returned to his desk as he watched Scarecrow exit his office. Reaching into this breast pocket to retrieve the last of the roll of Rolaids he had started only that morning, Billy muttered under his breath.  "I'm sorry, Amanda."

~~~~~                  ~~~~~~

Amanda King entered the main foyer of I.F.F., and looked directly at Mrs. Marston.  The seemingly nice woman always managed to unnerve her.  "Um…the password today is…" Amanda faltered.  Why is it she could never remember the simplest things.  Seeing the picture of the man on the wall holding the cat, she remembered. "Oh, yeah, the password is Felix."

Mrs. Marston nodded in exasperation and handed her a visitor pass.  She shook her head as she watched Mrs. King wait for the elevator. `She'll never fit in around here.'

Riding down in the elevator, Amanda quickly overcame the flustered effects Mrs. Marston had had on her.  As she exited the now opening doors into the busy hallway, she began to wonder why Mr. Melrose had called her in.  Hopefully it was for some new assignment he needed her help with.

Peeking over the edge of the file Billy had thrown on his desk minutes before, Lee watched as the enthusiastic brunette entered the Bullpen. `Maybe she won't see me.'

Amanda smiled her greetings to the still-unfamiliar faces as she approached Mr. Melrose's office. Her eyes glanced towards the desk of the only agent she had ever worked with, and her smile faded. She had noticed him looking over his file when she had walked in and now he appeared to be hiding behind it. Tightening her grip on her purse, she walked, head up, toward Billy's office. `I will not let his attitude bother me.'

Knocking softly on the door that led to her boss's office, she smiled at the secretary that sat next to the phones. "Good morning."

The slight frown turned upward at the soft words of the kindly Mrs. King. "Good morning. Mr. Melrose is expecting you."

As the secretary returned her attention back to the phone lines, Amanda looked back to the office to see Mr. Melrose motioning for her to come in. Taking a deep breath, she opened the door, and entered. "Good morning, Sir."

Billy rose from his desk and pointed to the chair in front of him. "Good morning, Mrs. King. Please, have a seat. I'll get Lee."
Crossing the room and opening the door, he bellowed, "SCARECROW! My office, now!"

Lee reluctantly pushed himself from his desk and stood to answer his superior's call. `This should be fun.'

Amanda sat wide-eyed as she listened to Billy's explanation of her assignment. He had just finished explaining when Lee entered the room. "So, Mrs. King. Do you think you can handle it?"

Lee took a seat on the sofa at the back of the room, preparing himself the gush of excitement and questions he was sure she was about to come pouring out of her mouth.

Amanda reluctantly shook her head. "Sir, I'm sorry, but I can't. I've made plans for tonight, and I can't change them."

Billy eyebrows furrowed together as he listened to her refusal. Looking up at Lee, he found the agent's mouth open slightly in
surprise. "Mrs. King, this is very important."

Amanda looked at her boss, then turned around to look at Lee. "I'm sorry, but I can't break these plans. I understand about Donnie, but he's a great guy. Surely you can tell him that I just can't do it."

Lee jumped to his feet at her declaration. "This is a matter of National Security, Amanda! You just don't say no."

Amanda took a deep breath and brought her eyes to meet Billy's. "Sir, I don't take things like this lightly, and I'm truly sorry. . . but I really can not do this.  Not tonight."

Lee began to pace behind her chair, his hands repeatedly clenching into fists, and then unclenching. "Amanda, you don't have a choice. You've. . ."

Billy held up his hand to stop Lee's tirade before he said something that he would regret later. "I understand, Mrs. King. I really do, but this is important. We have to get this information."

Amanda hung her head as she replayed the options in her mind. `If I go, I'll break a very important promise. If I don't, I'll let the Agency down.'

Billy looked up from the quiet form of Amanda to give Lee a warning glance, demanding he remain quiet. "Is there anything we can do to help you with your problem?"

Amanda looked down at her fingernails thoughtfully, until an idea came to mind. "You said that Donnie wouldn't give this information to just anyone. It had to be somebody he trusts, right?"

Lee sighed heavily as he placed his hands on the back of her chair. "Yes, Amanda."

Amanda ignored his agitation and looked back to Billy. "What if someone else he knows goes instead of me? Do you think you could clear it with him?"

Lee went to lean against the corner of Billy's desk and stared at her. "Amanda, if there were someone else, don't you think we would have used them first?"

Amanda turned hurt eyes towards him, and he immediately regretted his words. "I'm just—"

"That's enough, Scarecrow." Turning his attention to Amanda, he continued, "Did you have anyone in particular in mind, Mrs. King?"

Amanda nodded. "The woman that tutored Donnie while he was in the States now works in the Internal Affairs office part time. She retired a few years ago from the school system and shortly thereafter, started working for them. I met her for the first time
in, gosh, I don't know how many years. We used to be so close and then after college we seemed to drift apart. You know, I got married and had the boys, and she always stayed busy helping other kids out, as well as doing a lot of traveling." Seeing the large eyes of her boss, she quickly concluded her response, "Well, I just happened to run into her last week when I was running those errands for Lee."

Billy looked up at the sheepish smile Lee had on his face. He hadn't authorized any courier missions for him in the last month. He was going to have a nice long talk with Scarecrow about this, but not now. They had other problems to deal with at the moment.

Amanda tugged at her lower lip with her teeth as she glanced back and forth between the two men. Stopping to look at the Section Chief, she smiled. "Donnie should know her enough to trust her, and she has a clearance level with the Agency."

Billy began to mull over her suggestion in his mind, deciding that the idea might work, he put on a stern face and turned to face
Lee. "Sounds like a plan." Looking back to Amanda, he asked, "What's her name, Mrs. King?"

Lee stood from his relaxed position at the thought of going out with one of Amanda's retired teachers. "Before anybody makes any plans, shouldn't they talk to me about it first."

Amanda refused to look at the scowling face, so she concentrated on the calm features of Billy instead. "Her name is Nancy Gultch."

Billy nodded his agreement. "I know her. She'll do just fine. I'll give her a call." Returning to his desk, he picked up the phone to get the connection needed to reach her. "Thank you, Mrs. King."

Lee turned to face Amanda. "Gultch! Like in the Wizard of Oz, Gultch?" Waving his arm in exaggeration, he looked at Billy. "You've got to be kidding."

Amanda stood and placed her hand on his arm, trying to make him realize how important her previous engagement was to her.  "Oh, Lee, she's a sweet woman. You'll be fine. You know I would go if I could, but I just can't."

Lee looked down at where her hand touched his sleeve, then gazed into her pleading eyes. He softened a bit at the concern that shone in them. "I guess if your prior commitment is that important to you, I suppose I can manage to deal with the old lady."

Amanda smiled warmly at him and gave his arm a slight squeeze. "She won't bite you, Lee." Looking up at the slight smile forming on Billy's lips, she continued,  "I hope this won't affect you using me in the future."

Billy grinned as she heard Lee's muttered disgust in the background. "Not at all, Mrs. King. We all have personal lives that we have to attend to now and again."

Amanda smiled her thanks as she twisted her purse straps in her hands to release some of her own tension. "Just let me know." With a forced sweet smile on her lips she turned to look at Lee. "Oh, Lee. Please be sure to tell Donnie I said 'hi.'" With that said, she left the room.

Lee watched her leave without uttering a word until he heard the door click shut. "I just can't figure her out. One minute she wants to get all the work she can, and the next, she's refusing to help."

Billy noticed Scarecrow's deep concentration of the woman who was now exiting the Bullpen. "Maybe she really does have something more important to take care of?" Billy couldn't help the smirk that appeared on his face as his eyebrows raised questioningly towards Lee. "You were looking for a way to get out of going with her, weren't you? Nancy Gultch should work out just fine."

Lee turned a appalled look towards his boss. "Something more important than Agency business!?!"

Billy rolled his eyes at the comment as he waited for the connection to Ms. Gultch. "Some people do have lives, Scarecrow."

Lee took a few steps and flopped into the waiting chair. "I'll just bet this Ms. Gultch is a real winner." Staring out at the Bullpen, he imagined gray hair, thick glasses, support hose, and wedged heels as he listened to the sickening tone of politeness Billy expressed over the phone. `I just hope she can fit in the Porsche. Who am I kidding? I'm taking an Agency sedan for this one.'

~~~~~                  ~~~~~

Frustrated with the turn of events, he frowned that he wouldn't be able to spend his evening discovering Kelly. Lee left the Agency around three-thirty, his steps dragging, a stark contrast to the brisk ones he'd walked with that morning. His earlier good mood was no longer present as he bee-lined it to his apartment, barely acknowledging Floyd.  If he was going to be forced to do this assignment with someone he'd never met, he might as well go home early and "get ready."  He had been told to meet Ms. Gultch at seven-thirty at her house. He should have known that she would live only a few blocks down from the Agency. He had arranged for an Agency sedan to be waiting for him there, where he would swap cars, and head over to Ms. Gultch's house around seven o'clock.

He still couldn't get over the fact that he, a seasoned, trained agent, commonly referred to as the "Great Scarecrow," was going to a fundraiser with someone whose name was synonymous with the Wicked Witch of the West.  "I just bet she's an old hag."  He shook his head at the irony of it all as he went into the bathroom to take a shower.

~~~~~                  ~~~~~

Twenty minutes later, Lee stood before the mirror in his bedroom, knotting his tie. As he maneuvered his fingers to try and adjust the black fabric, he sighed at his inability to correctly finish it. `If I was going with the "fundraising queen" herself, she could be doing this for me.' Looking at his own reflection in the mirror, he laughed. "Did I just think that? I must be going nuts."

Adjusting his tie the best he could, he headed towards his liquor cabinet for a quick drink to relax his nerves before heading out. After pouring the amber beverage, he took a seat on his couch and swirled the ice and liquid together in the glass. His thoughts turned to the events in the office. He knew he had treated her badly, but heck, he was the agent.  `Why does Billy always want to pair me up with Amanda, the housewife? I know. It's some silly notion Billy has. He thinks I'll see her sweet, good-natured ways, and maybe learn something from her over-eagerness to do a good job.  He thinks she'll rub off on me. He thinks she'll…' Stopping at that thought, another laugh rumbled from his chest. `Billy thinks she'll be good for me. Billy's judgment is slacking off in his old age. Yeah, Amanda would make a wonderful partner. NOT! She's the type of partner who'll get me into more trouble than I could on my own.'

Thoughts of Amanda suddenly made him wonder exactly what would have been so important to her that she would so easily turn down Agency work.  Looking at the clock he noticed that it was only six o'clock.  "I think I'll just head out a little early and take a quick trip to Arlington to see what our little housewife is up to." Emptying his glass, he slammed the glass back on the table before him. "It must be something big for her to turn down working with me." Grabbing his keys from the table next to the door, he left his apartment in a rush to find out what that big thing was.

~~~~~                  ~~~~~

The gold, yellow, and red rainbow of leaves fluttered down around her as she filled the last black trash bag with them. Wiping the sweat from her brow, she looked down at her watch. It would soon be time for John to pick her up.  Lugging the heavy bundle to the gate at the front of the house, she smiled approvingly at the mound of bags. "I must have picked up at least ten bags of this stuff. Next year it's the boys turn."

Amanda swiveled around on her tennis shoes as the shrill voice of her mother called from inside the house.

"Amanda, John just called. He's on his way."

Closing the gate behind her, she walked with a spring in her step. Tonight would be a very important reunion for her. She was reuniting with a part of her life that she had neglected for many years, until an old friend had reminded her recently, of just how important that part of her life had been.  A soft smile played on her lips as she thought about how it was going to be a very important start for another young life as well.

Chapter 2

Lee drove to Amanda's house wondering why, exactly, he felt the need to "spy" on her.  `What if she had a date and didn't want to tell me?  What if it was some guy she'd just started seeing, and didn't want to ruin her chances by breaking a date? I mean, I only assumed she'd broken up with that Don guy since she hadn't mentioned him on our last assignment we had been forced to work together on.'  His tight lips turned into a sneaky smile, he knew the guy's name, but it was so much fun to tease her by getting it wrong.  He may not have been Amanda King's biggest fan, but he knew she didn't belong with a dunce like Dean McGuire.   He had seen him on T.V. doing the weather; the guy was such a dork.

As he rounded the corner onto Maplewood Drive, he parked his car as out-of-sight as possible.  He watched as a fairly handsome man, in his mid-thirties, climbed out of a black BMW. Lee narrowed his eyes at the casual stance the man took as he appeared to be surmising the appearance of Amanda's home. The blond-haired man gave his car a gentle pat before heading up the sidewalk to Amanda's door.

If Amanda had blown off the Agency for a date, he'd be extremely ticked.  `If she's going out with some guy, and sticking me with the witch, I swear, I'll get even with her.'  Looking closer at the man, who was now knocking on her front door, he noticed the guy's outfit. He was dressed in faded jeans and a Harvard sweatshirt. Hardly the attire for a "date."

He watched as Amanda opened the door, said something to the guy, walked away and then returned into view. Exiting her house, she closed the door behind her.  Lee sat with his mouth gapped wide open as he noticed that she was dressed in her tight jeans, pink t-shirt, and that silly sweatband around her head.  "Now where the devil are they going?"

Quickly jotting down the tag number of the BMW, his curiosity piqued, as he watched as Amanda tossed the keys to her Station Wagon towards the man whose hand rested against the small of her back.

Before taking his Porsche out of park, he sneered openly that this guy would take Amanda out in her own vehicle, leaving his
apparently "precious" vehicle behind. Putting his own car into drive, he slowly pulled away from the curb and followed Amanda's car.

~~~~~~                  ~~~~~~

Lee began to feel a little uneasy, as he realized that his physical characteristics, and his state of dress, would definitely become more conspicuous in the neighborhood they were now entering. This was what most called the "slums" of D.C. Sighing in relief as the Station Wagon finally pulled off the road and stopped before a rundown apartment building, he pulled his own vehicle off to the left and parked. "What on earth is Amanda King doing going in there?"

Thumping his fingers against the leather steering wheel, he watched as the "couple" exited the car. The guy held out his hand for Amanda to take before entering the building. "What kind of self-respecting man takes a fragile woman like Amanda into a place like this? `If his sweatshirt means anything, the guy must have attended Harvard.' Lee thought before verbalizing his next words with a low hiss. "All book smarts and not a lick of common sense!"

Deciding that they wouldn't be able to handle themselves if a bad "situation" arose, Lee opened his car door and stepped onto the sidewalk. No sooner had his feet hit the ground than he heard the distinct wolf calls coming from a group of teenage girls. The young women were sitting on a picnic table located in the run down park next to where he had just parked.

"Hey, Baby. You lost or something." Lee turned and narrowed his eyes as one of the "young ladies" approached him. "Yeah, man. You look like you need a date. Want me to keep you company?"

Rolling his eyes at the comment, he merely shook his head and began to head for the apartment complex. He continued to grumble under his breath about the situations Amanda always managed to get him into. As he walked up to the front entrance, he thought about all the situations she had put him into in the last few months and decided he needed to talk to Billy about getting her out of this business soon.

Hearing Amanda's laughter echo down the hallway through the open doors, he stopped. "Shoot, all I need is to get caught." Slinking back to his car, he shook his head at the sight of the girls that had been in the park, now making themselves at home on the hood of his baby. "Excuse me, ladies, but I need to leave now."

A tall girl, around six feet tall, according to his estimate, with short black hair, and dark brown eyes, jumped from the hood of his car and stood before him. "Where you heading so quick, your highness?"

Lee sidestepped the girl, and quickly moved to unlock his car. Looking back at where she stood, hands on hips, he gave her one of his famous Stetson smiles. "The palace, of course."

The girl rolled her eyes at the smart comment, and motioned for the remaining girls to abandon his vehicle with the wave of her
hand. "Tell Prince Charming that we're waitin' on him."

Turning the key in the ignition, he flashed her a smile of acknowledgement, then pushed the gas pedal a little more forcefully than necessary to leave the parking space, causing his "racer" to spin a wheel as he pulled away. As he rounded the corner he pulled off to the side to wait on Amanda's car. "What I put myself through for that woman!"

His wait was short lived as the Station Wagon passed his car, hopefully without noticing him. He was pretty sure she hadn't.  `Heck, she could barely out run a bunch of Russians without running her car into a ditch.'  Thinking back to the incident with Magdha, he was positive she hadn't noticed his out-of-place Porsche.  Just in case, however, he decided he would keep the "Agency Manual" surveillance distance. Putting his car in drive, he pulled out into the city streets to follow her. Glancing at his watch, he sighed heavily as he pulled out behind them. "Okay, Amanda, I've got thirty minutes before I pick up my `hot date.' Where are you going?"  His eyebrows raised when he noticed the vehicle now carried four occupants instead of two. "What the…"

Lee kept up the "cat and mouse" game for another fifteen minutes through the winding streets of D.C. before realizing that his
playtime was up, and it didn't look like they were going to be stopping anytime soon. Grumbling in anger that he would have to put his curiosity on the backburner for an undetermined amount of time, he swung his Porsche around in the middle of the semi-busy street and made an illegal U-turn, and headed for Ms. Gultch's home.  He cursed Amanda one more time, as he realized that he would be escorting his date for the evening in his Porsche, after all, and not in the Agency Sedan that was waiting for him.

~~~~~~                  ~~~~~~

Shifting his weight from one foot to the other as he waited impatiently for the older woman to answer the door, his mind focused on the BMW that was now parked at Amanda's house. He was planning on giving the tag information to a friend of his in legal, but he'd have to wait till after the fundraiser to get the information to him. Frowning at his own curiosity regarding the man Amanda was with, he realized he wasn't exactly sure why he was doing this. For some unknown reason, he wanted to find out just exactly who this arrogant man was that had had his hands all over Amanda.

Lee tapped the door a little louder this time, fearing that the woman was deaf. "Come on, lady. I don't have all—"

His words ceased as the door opened and the woman in question stood before him. "Mr. Stetson?"

Lee's furrowed eyebrows straightened as he looked at the woman before him. His image of the witch diminished as he took in her features. "Yes, ma'am."

Her light laugh caught him off guard as she opened the door for him to enter. "Amanda said you were quite the looker. I'll be just another few minutes. Make yourself at home."

Lee blinked his eyes as the small woman left him standing alone in the middle of her living room. Gathering his wits, he began to move around. The walls were filled with pictures, awards, diplomas, and a variety of art. Rubbing his jaw with his hands, he began to study the black and white photo that hung above the fireplace. A young couple, wrapped in each others arms, smiled brightly for the camera. The youthful woman in the picture was, without a doubt, Ms. Gultch. Rubbing his eyes with his hands, he looked back at the picture. He could have sworn that he saw the eyes on both Ms. Gultch and the man twinkle at him.

Taking a step back, he glanced at the smaller pictures that filled the mantel. Most appeared to be family photos with the same man and woman hugging each other, and children littered the backgrounds, here and there. Moving from left to right, he picked up one that was encircled by a small silver frame. The picture screamed of happiness as he studied the faces of the two teenage girls, two teenage boys, several smaller children, and one adult male.

Moving to sit in the oversized rocking chair that sat in residence beside the slate fireplace, he glanced up to be sure his date was still preparing to leave. Satisfied that she was unaware of his scrutiny of the picture, his eyes focused on the smiling brunette. Her hair was long, falling just below her waist, and an unseen breeze seemed to wrap her hair around the child on whom her hands rested.

Although the picture had faded, her brown eyes carried the same trust and innocence that they did today. Pulling his attention from the familiar face, he looked at the other three teenagers in the photo. The other girl was slightly shorter than the familiar brunette was, and was standing behind a young boy. His eyes moved to the two teenage boys. The first was a boy he didn't recognize, but the second was definitely the boy, now a man, who had picked Amanda up tonight. Unaware of the soft eyes watching him, he sighed heavily.

"Quite a bunch of misfits, huh?"

Startled by the musical voice, he looked up at her like a child caught with his hand in the cookie jar. "Hmmm?"

Smiling at his obvious discomfort, she reached forward and took the picture from his hands. "This bunch."

Studying the woman with the eyes of a trained agent, he remained quiet. Her silver hair, highlighted with touches of golden brown, was short compared to modern day styles, falling just above her neckline. Her small frame only came up to his chest in height. The long evening gown she wore accented her hourglass shaped body to perfection. Her jade green eyes held the same twinkle of mischief as the picture that hung over the mantel. To be exact, the woman had not changed much at all from her youthful years, except for a few  "laughter" wrinkles that graced her face.  'She's quite a beautiful woman for someone in her sixties.'

Clearing her throat to regain his attention, she placed the photo on the table in front of her. "They helped me a great deal that year."

Lee titled his head to the left and was just about to ask how, when she stood and picked up her coat. "Okay, Mr. Stetson, lets party."

Standing, Lee offered her his arm as they headed for the door. "Please call me Lee, Ms. Gultch."

As she placed her arm around the one offered, she smiled up at his pleasant tone. "Please, call me Nancy."

~~~~~~                  ~~~~~~

Lee patted his breast pocket for the third time that evening, reassuring himself that the cassette was still firmly in place. The operation had been pulled off without a hitch thanks to Nancy graciously accepting a dance with Donovan. She effortlessly took the "information" from him, and had put it inside a pocket in her dress without missing a beat. Glancing around the crowded room, he found it comforting that he was able to find Nancy with ease.

She now glided across the floor with a handsome man, who was approximately her age. He watched in awe as she moved with an air of grace that he hadn't seen in years. Perhaps the last time he had seen such a woman, he realized, had been his own mother.

Shaking his head at his own tendency to rush judgment on people, he headed for the bar. As he waited for the bartender to bring him his glass of scotch, he thought back to the conversation he and Nancy had started before leaving her place. She had intentionally avoided answering the question he was about to ask by rushing them out the door.

Taking a swallow of the beverage the bartender had placed in front of him, he began to think that she would have been one fine agent in her day. She definitely had the smarts for it. `And the slyness of a fox to boot,' he mused as he listened to the music end. Setting the now half-empty glass back down on the counter, he moved to the dance floor to see if this mysterious woman would allow him a dance. As he neared the couple, he could hear her soft laughter from behind the elderly man that towered over her as they danced. Tapping the shoulder of her current dance partner, his own smile widened at her blushing features. "May I have this dance?"

If he didn't know better, he would have sworn her green eyes turned a warm shade of blue in happiness that he had asked her to dance, as she thanked the gentleman and accepted Lee's arm. "Certainly, Lee."

The lively music faded to a slower pace as they began to drift across the dance floor. "I would have thought that a man, such as yourself, would have danced the night away with," nodding her head towards the group of young women that stood off to the side, "one of those lovely wallflowers."

"Been there, done that.  Tonight I'm working. Besides...I believe in staying close to my 'partners.'  I could ask you why you accepted this assignment," Lee retaliated with the same teasing tone she had just used.

Laying her head against the broad chest of her dance partner, she shrugged her shoulders. "I'd do almost anything to help Amanda." Pausing, she lifted her head to briefly look at him. "Now don't change the subject, Lee. I've heard a few things about your social life."

Lee was surprised at the robust laughter he heard coming from his own chest. "What exactly has Amanda King told you about me?"

Titling her head back to look up at the now sparkling green eyes of Lee Stetson, she shook her head slightly. "I never said that Amanda was the one who told me."

Lee looked at her questioningly.  He was just about to ask how she had heard, if it wasn't through Amanda.  He knew I.A. was good, but he didn't think they listened to the rumor mills.

Nancy smiled and interrupted him before he could open his mouth. "Now you should know better than to ask an old woman to give up all her secrets."

Unconsciously he pulled her closer to him as they moved across the dance floor. The couple remained quiet until the dance ended, both enjoying each others company in their own way.  Pulling apart as the music ended, Nancy excused herself to head for the ladies' room.

Lee protectively watched her as she left him to walk towards the back of the ballroom. `Something about her is hauntingly familiar.' Taking a seat to wait for her return, his thoughts drifted, once again, to the picture of a young Amanda King and her "odd" group of friends.

He was pulled from his trance as he felt cool hands caress his face from behind. "Hello, Lee."

Lee turned towards the voice he couldn't place a face with. Never letting his guard down, he shifted in his seat to look at the redhead with a bright smile as he suddenly connected the voice and face. "Hello, Bambi."

Her hands drifted lower to his lapel as she purred, "I haven't heard from you in ages. Want to go "talk" about what's been happening in our lives?"

Lee gently removed her hands from his chest as he glanced towards the restroom. "Not tonight, Bambi. I'm here with someone."

Her pouting lips and disappointed face made Lee's forehead wrinkle. 'Did I just turn down a night with Bambi?' Hearing the chair slide out beside him, he glanced from the voluptuous, pouting, redhead to look at the smirking smile of his date. Standing to assist his date with her chair, he looked from one woman to the other. "Bambi, this is a friend of mine Nancy." Giving Nancy an apologizing smile, he looked to Bambi. "Nancy, this is Bambi."

Nancy smiled sweetly towards the obviously "put out" Bambi and extended her hand. "Pleasure to meet you."

Bambi stood in a daze, as she took in the sight of the older woman Lee Stetson had as his date. Lee's light touch on her arm brought her back to her senses. "I'm sure."

Lee returned to his seat and ran his index finger around his collar as he felt the heat in the room rise. "Perhaps we can get together another evening, Bambi."

The once passion-filled eyes were now shooting cold daggers at him. "Doubtful." With that said she sauntered off to another equally handsome man.

Lee sheepishly looked back to Nancy. "I'm sorry-"

Nancy patted his hand, which was now resting on the table. "Don't apologize, Lee. A young man, such as yourself, should have the ladies chasing after him." She paused and looked around at the now thinning crowd, before turning back to look at him. "That is, of course, if you don't already have someone special in your life."

Lee turned his hand over, and took her hand into his. He thought about how at ease he suddenly felt.  For some reason she caused a calming, almost peaceful feeling in him when she touched him or looked at him with her gentle eyes. A flash of Amanda touching his arm earlier that day came to his mind. As much as she annoyed him, Amanda's touch always had the same effect on him. Closing his eyes briefly at the crazy notion, he quickly opened them and smiled confidently at the pondering eyes of the older woman. "Nope. No one special."

Nancy nodded; she had been expecting that to be his answer. "That's a shame, Lee. You're missing the best years of your life by spending them alone."

Following her line of vision, he watched couples, ranging in age from the very young, to the very old, holding each other as they swayed to the music. "Maybe so, but I tend to do better as a loner."

She continued to concentrate on the dance floor as she thought over his words. "Perhaps, but just keep one thing in mind, Lee
Stetson. . . "

Her serious tone caused Lee to concentrate on her face. "What?"

She turned to look into his curious eyes. "Life is very short. Years pass by, and you don't realize how fulfilled your life could have been until you're sitting in front of your fireplace. . . alone. No soft whispers or loving words from your partner in life.  No
grandchildren to take away the emptiness that fills your days." Her words faded as Lee watched her eyes glaze slightly from tears.

Pulling her hand from his, she patted it tenderly. "Believe me—I understand better than most, that a man in your business has a
tendency to head down that path, but it's very dark at the end of the tunnel."

Before Lee could reply, she stood, nodding towards the door that led outside. "Our mission is accomplished, my gallant knight. Shall we head home before it gets too late?"

Lee smiled at her ability to change the subject just before it delved into her own personal life. 'She could definitely have been a great agent in her day.' Glancing at his watch, he was amazed that it was already ten o'clock. He stood and extended his arm. "The evening slipped away quickly, didn't it?"

She accepted his arm as they headed to retrieve their coats. "Yes, it did, Lee." Smiling at the back of the lean form that was handing the tickets for their coats to the clerk, she began to form a plan in her mind for the remainder of the evening with Lee Stetson.

Chapter 3

The ride back to Nancy's place had been filled with conversation that centered mostly on Lee's own personal life. As he opened the door to her side of the car, he shook his head at the ability the woman had to open him up. They hadn't really discussed anything important, just things he enjoyed doing when he wasn't chasing "the bad guys." Things like how much he enjoyed riding horses, and his interest in fast cars.

Unlocking the door to her home, she gestured for him to enter. "Would you like a nightcap?"

"Yeah, that'd be great." Lee shoved his hands in his pocket and headed into the comforts of her home.

Nancy smiled at his boyish features. They reminded her so much of her own true love from so long ago. Sighing at the thoughts, she removed her coat and headed for the kitchen. "I'm a hot chocolate kinda' girl myself. You want some?"

Lee nodded as he headed for the antique couch. "Sure."

She was already starting to walk towards her kitchen in anticipation of his acceptance. "Take your coat off, Lee."

Shrugging his broad shoulders from the confining black jacket, he carefully placed it on the arm of the couch and began to loosen his tie. His eyes fell, once again, to the picture on the coffee table. Moving his gaze from that one, he looked up at the picture of the man and Nancy above the mantel, and then began to glance around at the other pictures that covered the room. As his eyes scanned the photographs, he noted that none contained the man in question at an older age. He stood to investigate the pictures further, just to make sure that he just wasn't seeing him in any of the other photos, as her earlier words of warnings crept into his mind.

Nancy watched with interest as she leaned against her kitchen door. 'He has so much to learn, my love.' Hearing the whistle of the boiling water, she turned to go back into the kitchen.

Lee's head turned at the same noise and caught a glimpse of the shining lavender gown she had worn that night. His curiosity about the woman grew with each passing minute. He made a mental note to pull the file on her when he returned back to the office the next morning.

The thoughts of the office reminded him of the trace he had wanted to place on Amanda's "friend's" tags.  Returning to the couch, he looked back at the young Amanda in the photograph. Nancy returned to the room, carrying a small tray that contained their hot beverage. "I took a chance that you're a marshmallow kinda' man."

Lee's dimples deepened as he felt himself relaxing again. "I haven't had cocoa since my mother used to make it."

Taking a seat beside him, she handed him his mug. "I used to make it for my Mark." Nodding towards the photo that Lee had been studying over the mantel, she continued, "In fact, I was know in my circle of friends as the `Cocoa Queen,' but I only shared my secret recipe with my best friend."

Lee was dying to pry a little deeper into her life, but was afraid if he pushed too hard she would avoid the subject much as she had done before. Bringing the chocolate to his lips, he sighed in contentment as he swallowed. "Exactly like mom's."

Nancy placed her cup on the table beside the picture that had caught Lee's attention earlier in the evening then picked up the silver frame. "You know Amanda King is a truly remarkable woman."

Lee remained quiet, waiting for her to continue as he settled back into the soft cushions of the couch.

Nancy placed her index finger lovingly on the image of the older man in the bunch. "Mark loved her very much." She stopped and looked up at Lee with laughter in her eyes. "Even if she did talk him to death at times."

Lee almost spit the cocoa he was about to swallow out of his mouth, the moment that comment had reached his ears.

Placing her hand on his back, she patted him gently. "Are you all right?"

Lee stiffened a little at the gesture. It had been a long time since he had allowed himself to become this vulnerable to another. Erecting his emotional walls securely back in place, he smiled at her. "I'm fine."

Nancy narrowed her eyes as she recognized the look in his. She had seen it so many times in her own mirror over the years, before she met Mark. "You know Amanda would have enjoyed tonight. She loves to dance up a storm." She noticed his lack of response, and his intense stare on the pictures that covered her walls. Relaxing back against the couch a little further, she looked down at the picture in her hand. "She really was disappointed that she couldn't go with you, but she couldn't break her plans."

Lee rolled his eyes at the statement then stood. Placing his mug on the table, he began to pace the room. "Yeah. . . I'm sure."

Titling her head slightly to study his motions, her smile returned. "She's a complex woman, Lee."

He stopped in front of another picture of the Mark, pondering Nancy's statement. 'She's a mother, housewife, not to mention—aggravating, annoying…and she talks too much. I'd hardly say she's complex.'

Nancy could almost hear his thoughts as she looked into his eyes. Sighing at his lack to see beyond his first impression of people, she stood and moved to stand behind him. "Perhaps, you should get to know her better before you make any assumptions about her."

Lee snapped his body around at her words and found himself looking into the face of a very serious woman. "She's a lot more than just a housewife."

Nancy left him standing there stunned by her harsh tone as she picked up the mugs and headed for the kitchen. Moments later she returned with the same sweet smile she had held for the majority of the evening. "It's late, Lee."

Lee now stood by the couch with his coat in hand. "Yeah. I guess I should get this tape to the Agency."

Nancy followed him to the door and opened it for him. "I enjoyed myself tonight."

Lee agreed wholeheartedly as he took her soft hand in his and gave it a light kiss. "I did as well. Thank you for such a lovely evening." He looked down at their hands as he felt her place a small scrap of paper in his hand.

"Perhaps this will help you understand things better."

Lee looked down at her with questioning eyes as she began to close the door. She only smiled up at him as the door slide closed. "Good night, Scarecrow."

His eyes immediately darted from the paper in his hand to the woman who had used his code-name. "What?" He found that his question was asked to a closed door. Shrugging his shoulders back into his jacket, he placed the note in his pocket; he'd read it once he was back in his car.

Getting into his car, he pulled out the note, letting the low glow of the streetlights illuminated the paper that he held in his hands. Unfolding the edges of the crinkled paper, he found only an address written in small cursive letters. Lee studied the numbers for a moment before starting his car and heading in the direction stated.

~~~~~~                  ~~~~~~

Fifteen minutes later, Lee was standing at the end of a D.C. street, in front of a small brick building, which sat somewhat separated from the other buildings. Discarding his coat in the car, the warm night air, and the fall breeze, whisked through his thin white shirt. His eyes had immediately observed Amanda's car amongst the other cars parked in the lot as soon as he had pulled into the area.

Shoving his hands into his pockets, his eyes studied the plaque that hung outside the white double doors that led inside.

"This building is dedicated to a great man, Mark Kametz. His passion for life, and his need to better the world brought happiness and new beginnings to many people. This establishment is a dream that he never got to see while he walked amongst us, but we are sure he looks down from heaven each day with a smile on his face."

To the love of my life, and to the four young lives that tried to make a difference in the world the summer of 1971. Dedicated by Nancy Gultch.

Lee stepped back a step from the monument as a shiver went down his spine. Looking up at the words that were etched into the building, he began to realize what Nancy had been referring to. His attention was drawn to the doors as he heard a wave of applause, and then the sound of footsteps approaching.

Retreating to his car, which he had carefully parked in the shadows of the building, he watched the mixture of people leave the building. His eyes locked on one particular brunette, who was holding the hand of a teenage girl as they made their way to the Station Wagon. He continued to watch as hugs, laughs, and handshakes occurred amongst the departing group.

Amanda wiped what appeared to be tears from the young girl's eyes with her fingertips before they climbed into the now running Station Wagon. Sliding down further into his seat, he felt a pang of regret for his earlier assumptions regarding Amanda King. 'Perhaps Nancy was right. Maybe there is more to Amanda King than just what you see at first glance.'

Lee waited until all the cars left the lot before starting his own engine and heading for home. He slowed before the building, ducking his head down to look out the window at the sign that hung on the building. "Kametz Home For Those Lost In The World Of Drugs And Violence. Let Us Help You."

Pulling to the edge of the parking lot, he stopped as he looked up and down the street before pulling out. He sat there, lost in his own thoughts, for a few moments before realizing what he was doing. Watching the familiar station wagon drive into the darkness of the streets, Lee shook his head at the thoughts running through his mind. "Will I ever understand that woman?"

Shifting gears he pulled out into the street and headed for home, only to find himself sitting outside a white house with a picket
fence, watching Amanda waving her "goodbyes" before closing the door behind her. "Well, maybe I understand more about her now, than I did this morning."

As the last lights were turned off in the King home, Lee headed for the Agency to give the cassette to Billy. Turning his Porsche away from Maplewood Avenue, new thoughts of Amanda King and Nancy Gultch filled his mind. "I'm definitely going to have to do a little more investigating into this side of Amanda, even if we don't ever "work" together again. I'm very curious to know how she fits into the life of Nancy Gultch."

~~~~~                  ~~~~~

The fire licked at the edges of the rocks embedded in the fireplace as Nancy Gultch pulled old photographs, one by one, from the tattered blue velvet box. It had been years since she had opened the box full of memories. Thinking back to the last time she had used the old photographs for comfort, her heart saddened. It had been a few weeks after Mark had died before she finally let herself grieve for his loss, and looked back at their past together through the photos. She had always thought that one of them would have lost their lives in the line of duty, not because of a careless mistake of a fifteen-year-old child.

Mark had been on his way to pick up Carter Thompson to take him to his weekly therapy meeting for his drug addiction. Carter had pulled through the physical aspects of what the "disease" drugs had put into his life, but he still had emotional problems to deal with. A tear ran down her cheek as she remembered thinking how glad she was that Mark was fortunate to have died so quickly. According to the coroner's report, Mark had died instantly from a fatal gunshot wound to the heart.

Closing her eyes at the thought of his death, she remembered Carter's cries of apologies to her the day of Mark's funeral. "I didn't know the thing was loaded. I'm so sorry, Ms. Gultch. One of the neighborhood guys talked me into using some `new' type of drug and I felt so good. . . so on top of the world. I didn't even realize that I had the gun pointed at Mr. Kametz until I heard the shot fire off. Forgive me! Please?"

Shaking the haunting words from her mind, she picked up one of her favorite pictures. The wide-eyed three year old, whom her best friend in life held in her arms, smiled brightly at the camera for his picture to be taken with his "mommy." A new set of tears began to slide down her cheek as she touched the photograph gently. She and Jennifer had grown to be friends when the Stetsons had moved into her neighborhood all those years ago.

She laughed out loud as she remembered the surprised look on all four of their faces when they had met together for an "information exchange." Neither of the two couples realized that they all worked for the government—fate had put them together that night. They had laughed and shared secrets over wine and dinner, each telling their own stories about how they had come to work in the world of espionage. "Oh, Jennifer, he's grown into quite a man. He's so handsome, and though he tries to hide behind the mask of the "Great Scarecrow," your young boy is still there."

Replacing the photo carefully back into its home she pulled out another—this one was of two men proudly standing side by side. "And your rock in life, Matthew, is stronger than ever.  He's made one fine agent." Wiping the new tears that formed on her face she looked to the other man in the photo. "Oh, Mark. Why didn't we take the same chance to be happy as Matthew and Jennifer did? We could have had a child together…one that would be here with me now. To carry on your dreams..."

The photo dropped to the floor with the quietness of a feather as her hand fell to the side. "They didn't let their `secret lives' stop them from being happy. They took the chance." Balling her hands into fists, she tried to breathe evenly in order to regain her composure. She glanced up at the man smiling down at her from above the mantel. "Because we were afraid after they died. Weren't we, Mark? We were afraid that we would end up much the same way if we ever got married and went public with our love for each other. It was safer for the outside world to think of us as just friends. . .co-workers. I guess we thought that it was better not to bring a child into this world who we might not be able to raise, or grow to see adulthood."

Her eyes followed the bright orange spark that jumped from the fire and onto the hearth. She felt a smile forming on her lips as she thought of Lee and Amanda King. Amanda had many of the same qualities that Lee's own mother had had. Strong, smart, caring, loving, trusting, and never letting anyone escape from her love, she so openly offered, without a fight.

Amanda had proved that she wouldn't allow anyone to push her away.  Her determination shone brightly when she went to visit Carter in prison after his trial and sentencing for the Mark's murder. She visited him weekly, helping him deal with his own guilt and pain. Her efforts had caused the once lost young man to become a prominent member of society once he had re-entered the outside world.

Amanda, along with the other three teenagers, had refused to let her wallow in her grief after Mark's death. They had kept her busy all summer long, forcing her to help them with their normal activities of helping drug addicted kids come clean. She thanked them to this day for pushing her to continue onward with her life as Mark would have wanted her to do. They had started collecting funds that summer to build Mark's dream.  She had finally been able to build a place for children to go, when they had nowhere else to go, and no one else to turn to in 1979. When it opened, it had quickly become, and still was today, the wonderful place Mark had dreamed of. It gave kids a place to go in order to get the help they needed for their drug abuse, and any other problems society threw their way.

Bending to retrieve the mauve afghan that had fallen to the floor, she placed it over her lap, then began to rock back and forth in motion with the chair. Her thoughts, once again, focused on the four teenagers. They had helped eleven children that summer come to terms with their "problems" and start fresh.

The group of teenagers had all moved on with their lives after that summer of `71, but not before they had inadvertently helped her to decide to return to her "secret life" that fall. She had thought of quitting the "spy" business to concentrate more on helping "lost souls," but her government job would, and did, help to put many of the villains that caused pain in these young lives in jail.

Amanda had been the second woman in her life that she considered one of her best friends. She had seen a great potential in Amanda to become an agent for the government after college, but kept her thoughts to herself when Amanda had told her about Joe. They slowly lost contact after she and Joe were married. Amanda stayed busy helping her new husband gain his law degree, and then she had children of her own to protect from the outside world. The world of secrets that she would have offered Amanda back then would not have fit into the world she had chosen to live in. Laughing at the irony of Amanda now becoming involved in such a life, she looked over at the innocent girl in the picture on the coffee table.

She continued to substitute teach in French classes throughout the D.C. area. She saw this as a way to be near the students that needed help, and at the same time, she was able to use it as an effective cover for her true profession. Her laughter continued at the thought of the term "true profession."

As a young graduate, fresh out of college, she had planned on immediately becoming a French teacher at the local high school, but her plans were quickly changed when she was offered the position of a translator for the French Consulate. The high pay that the job offered would allow her to become independent from her dominating father.  Her mother had died bringing her into the world, and her father blamed her for her mother's death until the day he took his last breath.

Sighing at her next thoughts, she continued on in her trip into the past.  Shortly after her father died, she was attending one of the President's diplomatic parties.  It was at that party when she had met Mark. He was already a full-fledged agent for the government, and he was there on security duty. His dimpled smile, and dashing appearance, had swept her off her feet at first sight. They began to date a short time after that night, and she eventually fell into the world of espionage by helping him from time to time with "milk run" assignments. As the months went by her talents at becoming a government agent shined threw and he had convinced her to join him in his work on a more full time basis.

"We were wrong, Mark. We of all people should have realized that it's important to take chances in life." Closing the lid on the memories within her box, she stood and walked to her bedroom. Placing the box into its hiding place in her closet, she closed the door and prepared for bed.

Thoughts of the penetrating eyes of her godson filled her mind as she slipped into bed. Maybe fate was giving the Stetson family another chance at life by pushing Amanda King into the life of Lee Stetson. She laughed at the thought of Lee dealing with Amanda King over the years to come. He would definitely change his ways if he stayed around her for very long.

Rolling onto her side, she promised herself not to allow too much time to pass before she saw Lee again. She had made a promise to his mother to watch over him, and she had kept that promise, the best she could, from a distance. Perhaps, it was time to get involved a little more involved. She would be darned if she let the Agency take control of his emotions, too. No, Lee would not die a lonely man—not if she could help it. It wasn't until Mark was gone that she realized the special bond they had shared. She was definitely not going to let Lee do the same thing, if he ever found his true soul mate in life.

He would understand what life had to offer in the upcoming years. Smiling as her eyes drifted closed, she began to slip into slumber with the thoughts of the role Amanda King would play in helping Lee understand the type of happiness life had to offer.

The End