Francine Desmond and Lee Stetson were walking into the bullpen of IFF together, carrying on a small gripe session.
"...cannot believe we have been called in here at 6:30 on a Saturday morning," Francine was saying as they entered the double doors. "My date last night didn't leave until-well, let's just say it was very early this morning," she said with a smile.
"Oh? Who was it this time?" Lee asked looking around the bullpen. "Smith? Johnson? No, Stewart. He doesn't look like he got much sleep last night," Lee added with a smirk.
"Scarecrow, you should know that I've got better taste than that--and I'll never tell..."
Their conversation came to a halt as Billy Melrose opened his office door and beckoned them inside. "Desmond, Stetson, my office, now; and Francine, bring the Richardson files."
Francine and Lee cast a quick glance at each other and hurried into Billy's office, pausing only long enough for Francine to pick up a stack of files from her desk.
Inside, Billy had moved behind his desk. "Sorry for calling you two in here this morning, but we've had a break in the Jacob Richardson case," he began, as he briefed them on the latest news, with occasional input from Francine for background information.
A short while later...
"Lee, I want you to get inside his operation. See what you can find out. And you'll need help," Billy added. Francine perked up at hearing this. She loved being in the field, undercover, especially with Lee.
"How about Amanda, Billy?" Lee suggested.
"Amanda!?" exclaimed Francine. She slammed the folders she had been holding onto Billy's desk.
"That's exactly what I was thinking, Lee," Billy agreed, ignoring Francine's outburst. "She'll be perfect," he added with a small smile.
"Perfect? She'll be perfect? What about me? I am the fully trained agent. I have studied Richardson's every move for the last six months. I am--"
Billy cut short her tirade. "Exactly, Francine, that's why I need you here to coordinate this whole operation. I want nothing to go wrong, especially with Amanda King involved."
Lee smiled. "Face it, Francine, you're just not the type Jacob Richardson is looking for," Lee put in.
Francine smirked. "Right, the frumpy housewife type."
Lee opened his mouth to reply when Billy said, "Can it, you two. Lee, get Amanda in here ASAP and get her briefed. I want this taken care of by tomorrow." Lee nodded and headed for the door. "Francine," Billy continued, "get everything else in motion. "
Amanda King was spending her Saturday morning in her backyard, wrapped in a tent. Yes, "wrapped" in a tent. She had been helping her boys pitch the tent when her mother stepped outside and yelled, "Breakfast is ready!"
Phillip and Jamie dropped what they were doing and ran in the house, leaving the tent to fall on Amanda. For a minute she just laid there, not believing that her boys would find breakfast more important than her.
Inside, the boys were eating their pancakes and watching a strange dinosaur movie on the TV. Dotty was finishing her own breakfast when the telephone rang.
"Hello," she said when she picked up the receiver. There was a brief pause as she listened for a moment. Dotty peered out the window to see Amanda struggling in the tent. "Yes, she's here, but it will be just a minute. She's wrapped up in a tent right now ...hold on and I'll get her for you." Dotty set the phone down and walked into the backyard as Amanda was still struggling with the tent.
"Amanda, darling, telephone for you. I think it's your work."
"Thank you Mother. Could you help me get out of this? The more I move the tighter it gets." Dotty helped Amanda to extricate herself from the tent. "Thank you, Mother," Amanda said as she stood up and brushed herself off.
"You're welcome, darling. If they are calling you in to work, make sure you eat your pancakes first."
"Those film people never eat when or what they are supposed to."
As they walked into the house, Amanda looked at her boys, who calmly looked back as they continued eating their breakfast. "Thanks for the help out there, fellas," she said as she picked up the phone.
Amanda was sitting in the Agency conference room listening to Lee fill her in on the details of their upcoming assignment.
"Jacob Richardson is a terrorist-wanna-be," Lee said as he handed Amanda a picture of Richardson. 'He looks so normal, so average,' she thought. "He's made several attempts at something big but his plans always seem to fall through. But he keeps trying, and that's the problem. One of these days he'll get it right, and somebody will get hurt."
"So, we're going in to stop him once and for all?"
"That's right. Richardson is up to something big right now and we need to shut him down."
"What's our cover?"
"What else? Husband and wife," Lee added with a grin, delighted at the small smile he saw flash on Amanda's face. "Jacob is trying to recruit people for his group. He wants family types, those he thinks he can convince that America is letting its children fall through the cracks. All due to a bad educational system, lack of good medical care, and an overall drop in what he feels the morals of this country should be."
"Sounds like some good reasons, he's just going about it the wrong way."
"Yeah, that's why we've waited so long to shut him down. But he snapped somewhere along the way. We warned him, but when he blew up a car at a charity carnival last night, we got the orders. No one was hurt, but it was just a taste of what's to come. Someone in his group is scared, and they've been sending us tips. Nothing specific, that's why we need to go in," Lee explained.
"Do you know who it is that's been sending information?"
"No, and right now we don't want to know. We don't want Richardson to find out he has a leak."
"Right. So, what do we do?"
Lee smiled again at Amanda's eagerness. "Well, I've already got a meeting with Richardson set up for this morning. Our informant says Jacob is telling everybody as much as he can without too many specific details. He's bragging about what he's going to do. We need to try and get those details."
"Right," Amanda agreed and stood up. "Let's go catch the bad guys," she said as she walked out.
Lee stood, shaking his head, and followed his "wife."
Lee had borrowed a "family" car from the Agency car pool. When they pulled in to the garage under Richardson's building, Lee and Amanda saw three men approach the car. As Lee stopped the car, one of the men opened the door for Amanda and offered her a hand to help her out. He was about Amanda's height, and had brown hair and eyes. She recognized him from his picture as Jacob Richardson. When she had gotten out, he still did not release her hand. Instead he said, "You must be Mrs. Stedman. I'm Jacob Richardson." And he brought the back of her hand to his lips for a brief kiss. "It's so lovely to meet you."
Amanda, a little in shock after this display, said, "The pleasure's mine, Mr. Richardson. I've heard so much about you and your group. And I'm very much looking forward to learning more."
As Richardson released her hand, he replied, "Please, call me Jacob." Amanda nodded, and Richardson turned to Lee and stuck his hand out. "Mr. Stedman, welcome. You have a lovely wife."
Lee grasped the outstretched hand in a firm handshake and replied with a smile, "Thank you, Jacob. And, please, it's Amanda and Lee. Does your whole group stay in this one building?"
"Yes, Lee, for now. We're setting up a compound just outside D.C. We're working hard to develop a place where families can live and be safe, secure from the outside world and its degradation. Why don't we get you two settled into your room?" Jacob gestured towards one of the other men with him. "This is Jimmy. He'll show you to your room and give you a quick tour. And then we'll meet in an hour."
"Thank you, Jacob," Amanda replied as Jacob and the third man left, heading for a set of stairs.
"Right this way, folks," Jimmy grabbed their bags from the trunk and gestured them towards the elevators. When they got on, Jimmy began whispering.
"Are you the agents that were gonna come?" he asked, glancing back and forth from Lee to Amanda, who just looked at each other. "I'm the one that's been sending the messages, trying to get somebody to come out here and stop Jacob. I don't really know what he has planned, but it's got a lot of us real scared. Me and Sarah just wanted to live somewhere and raise our kids without all the stuff that the rest of the world has seemed to let drag it down. That's what Jacob promised us. I guess we like the simpler times of the past." Jimmy chuckled, "Looks like things have gotten a little complicated here."
Amanda glanced at Lee, who gave a slight nod. "Jimmy, we're gonna need your help," Amanda began.
"Oh no, I've already done more than I should have." The elevator stopped and they got off. Jimmy led them into a room and shut the door.
Lee turned around to face Jimmy and said, "Well, how about just telling us where Jacob's office is, so we can get in and take a look around, see if we can find out what he's up to."
"Yeah, I guess I can do that." Jimmy took a deep breath and began. "His office is on the top floor. You can only get there with the elevator. He had the stairs blocked. It's always locked. And there's usually somebody guarding the elevator when it opens. That's all I can say."
"Thanks Jimmy. You've been a big help. Nobody will know you helped us," Lee shook Jimmy's hand. "We'll take it from here." Jimmy nodded and left.
"Well, now what do we do?" Amanda asked.
"We don't do anything. You stay here, while I go see if I can get in Jacob's office."
"Now, wait a minute," Amanda protested. "You're gonna need help, somebody to distract the guards. And you know I can be very distracting."
'Yes, you can,' Lee thought, 'and you have no idea how distracting.'
"All right," Lee conceded. "Let's go, but you be very careful."
Amanda King was sitting in a pitch-black room, tied to a chair. She had been trying to free herself and even though she couldn't see her wrists, she knew she had rope burns. 'How am I going to explain these to mother?' she wondered.
Things had not gone well. It was almost as if Jacob Richardson had been waiting for them. She could only hope that Lee had seen what he needed to in the short time he had been in Jacob's office.
Lee. She knew he was in the room with her. She could hear his breathing, deep and even; unconscious, but apparently not injured. If only he would wake up. She had been calling out his name every couple of minutes, hoping to hear him stir. She continued to try and get free.
A short while later, Amanda couldn't tell exactly how long, she heard Lee groan.
"Lee. Wake up."
"Yes, Lee. Are you all right? You've been out for a very long time and I was getting really, really worried about you and I'm tied up to this chair so I couldn't get over to you and I couldn't get free and I'm going to have rope burns on my wrists and I just don't know how I'm going to explain them to mother-"
"Amanda!" Lee interrupted her. "Stop. I'm all right; I just have a headache. Do you know where we are?"
"Not exactly. We're still on the top floor, we didn't go on the elevator, but they blindfolded me so I can't tell exactly where we are. Lee, did you find out what Jacob is up to?"
"Yeah. On Monday there's going to be a big conference on children, focusing on their education. Richardson's plans are to blow up the conference hall they'll be in."
"But why? All those people that will be there. Our PTA is going to have representatives there. I was supposed to go."
Lee was quiet for a moment, thinking about what might have happened. Then, "I don't know why. I do know we need to get out of here. We need to get our chairs closer together so we can get these ropes untied. You just sit tight and I'll move closer to you. Keep talking so I know when I get there."
"Keep talking? I don't know what to say when someone says that to me. I mean, am I just supposed to ramble on about nothing or am I supposed to say something that has meaning and if I'm supposed to say something that has meaning what should it be about?" While Amanda was rambling on about nothing, Lee had managed to scoot his chair close to hers and situate himself so that they were back to back. Amanda hadn't noticed though, so she continued rambling, "Mother always says I can talk about anything anywhere anytime-Lee, are those your hands?"
"Yes, Amanda, and you can stop talking now. Put your right hand back towards me and grab the rope I'm holding out. No, not that one-"
"--Your right hand Amanda-"
"OK, OK I got it. Now what?"
"Pull." So Amanda pulled. "Ow! Not so hard-"
"I'm sorry. You said pull-"
"--Just tug on it little bit-"
"--So I pulled." Amanda felt the rope pull free.
"That's it! I'm loose. Now you," Lee said and stood up, pulling the ropes off of himself and turning around to Amanda. He made short work of Amanda's binds and they both stood together. "Let's get out of here."
Amanda was tired of riding; it had been over an hour that they had been on the winding, twisting road. She had never thought she would get tired of looking at trees, but that is all that they had seen for some time now.
They had managed to escape from Richardson's building. Amanda didn't know how. It had seemed incredibly easy. They had gotten out of the room they had been tied up in, Lee knocked out the guard at the elevator, and down they went to the parking garage. They found their car and got in. Lee had to hot-wire it; Richardson's men had taken the keys. As they had pulled out onto the street, a car started following them: Richardson and his men. Lee had pointed out to her that there were three Agency cars right behind Richardson; part of Francine's plan to keep an eye on them. Lee kept driving, hoping to shake Richardson. All that he managed to do was lose the Agency cars. Eventually, Richardson seemed to give up. And that's exactly what Amanda was ready to do.
Amanda was looking out the rear window. "Lee, they're gone," she said as she faced forward in the car again. "They aren't behind us anymore. I think we lost them before we ever left DC."
"Yeah, that's what I thought, too. But it was just too easy." Lee kept casting quick glances in the rearview mirror.
"He knows I saw something in his office. Richardson won't give up that quickly. He's got something up his sleeve, but what?"
"Look, you managed to lose all three Agency cars that were following them following us. Then you made a couple of great turns and lost Richardson. I don't know how...Lee, what are you doing?" While Amanda was talking, Lee was pulling the car into a deserted picnic area on the side of the road.
Lee parked the car as far from the road as he could and then started to get out. As he reached for the door handle he said, "Amanda, stay put. I'm just going to look under the car."
"Why? What's under the car?" Amanda asked guardedly.
"I don't know, that's why I'm going to look. I just have an uneasy feeling about this. Stay, OK?"
"Alright," Amanda agreed. As he got out, she said to him, "Be careful."
Lee got out of the car and shut the door. He did not like this at all. He lay down on his stomach to look under the car. What he saw he didn't like -too many wires that shouldn't be there.
"Amanda, get the map and the flashlight out of the glove compartment. Then get out of the car. Hurry up!"
Amanda quickly did as she was told. While she may not always do what Lee told her to, the tone of his voice right now said that something was very wrong. She walked around the car to the driver's side, where Lee was looking under the car.
"OK, I'm out and I've got the flashlight and the map."
"Good." Lee looked up at her. 'Such trust in those eyes,' he thought. "Now, do you see the last picnic table?" Amanda looked, then turned back to Lee and nodded. "I want you to go to that picnic table and wait for me."
"But, why..." she started.
Lee cut her off. "Amanda, just do it. There are a couple of things under here that shouldn't be. One is definitely a homing device, which means Richardson didn't give up and they are probably on their way right now. The other looks like a bomb -"
"-that is probably remote controlled. Now just go. I'll be right there." Amanda turned and began to walk towards the picnic table when she heard a car coming around the bend.
She turned back to Lee. "Lee, I hear a car coming."
Lee got up from his prone position and looked to where Amanda was pointing. The car looked like the same one that had been following them earlier.
"Amanda, run!" Lee shouted as he began to run in Amanda's direction. As he caught up to her, he grabbed her hand and pulled her along. "Come on, Amanda!"
As the car rounded the bend and the occupants noticed the picnic area, the vacated car, and the two people running from the car, the man in the front passenger seat pressed a little red button on a little black box. Almost immediately, the car that Lee and Amanda had been in just moments before exploded.
Amanda was thrown to the ground, but she couldn't tell if it was from the force of the explosion or Lee pushing her down and covering her with himself.
"Amanda, you OK?" Lee asked breathlessly.
A shaken Amanda replied, "Yeah, fine."
"Good, then let's go," and he stood up, helped Amanda to her feet and they took off for the trees.
As they entered what Lee hoped would be decent cover, he glanced back over his shoulder. Jacob Richardson was getting out of the back seat of the car that had been following them. Lee saw him point in their direction and the two men he was with began to run right for them.
"Damn! They're following us," Lee said.
"What do we do now?" Amanda wanted to know, as she ducked below some low hanging branches.
"Keep running and hope we can lose them in the forest. There's an Agency emergency cabin around here somewhere. We just need to put some distance between us and them so I can check the map."
And Lee and Amanda ran.
"Come on Amanda, keep moving. The cabin is just a little farther," Lee said as he reached for Amanda's hand to help her over some rocks.
Amanda groaned. "You've been saying that for the last two hours. Are you sure we're not lost?"
"Of course we're not lost. Do I look like a rookie?" Lee asked in exasperation.
"No, but, you know, we've been out here for almost 4 hours. Now, I know that the cabin could be pretty far and it could take a long time to get there-"
"--It just seems to me that the longer we wander around the more likely it is that we will run into those men. Maybe they're lost too--"
"For the last time, I am not lost!" Lee exclaimed through gritted teeth. Sometimes she could be just so damn annoying. 'I know my way in these mountains. I am not lost. I think,' Lee thought. "Look, let's take a break and let me get my bearings. Now, let's see...the cabin is--"
"That way," said Amanda, as she pointed.
"No, it's not," Lee stated emphatically. "There is no way that it could be in that direction. We have to go up..." and he pointed in the other direction.
"No we don't. It's that way," Amanda said with certainty.
"Oh yeah, and just how do you know since you've never been here and you haven't seen a map?" Lee questioned.
"Because I can see it. It's right over there," Amanda stated, gesturing towards the cabin with her head.
"Oh. Well, uh, let's get going then. It'll be getting dark soon."
"They always keep these cabins stocked for emergencies like this. There should be plenty of blankets and maybe even a small kerosene heater. And there will be plenty of food, too. I am starving after all this walking," Lee said as they entered the cabin. But when they got inside, all they found was a huge mess.
"Looks like you better have a talk with the last people to use this place. They didn't exactly leave it looking spotless," Amanda said, looking thoroughly disgusted as she surveyed the empty food wrappers, broken furniture, torn blankets and various other items that shouldn't have been there.
"Somebody must have ransacked the place. No other agent would have left it like this. It could mean their job," Lee stated.
"Just for leaving a mess?" Amanda asked incredulously, her eyebrows rising, as she glanced around the cabin.
"It's not just a mess, Amanda," Lee explained, his face becoming very serious. "This could mean somebody's life. It's not going to get too cold tonight, but what if this were the middle of winter? We'd freeze to death, or starve, if we were stuck here for more than a few days."
Amanda's head jerked back to give Lee her full attention. "A few days? You said we would--" Amanda started.
And they both finished, "--get out of here by tomorrow."
"And we will Amanda. Billy knows we were coming here, he knows about the cabin. We set this place up as a safe house beforehand incase anything went wrong. He also knows those guys were following us. He'll get help here as soon as he can and catch them. Then we can go home. I promise. Trust me?" Lee tried to placate her.
"Yeah, I always trust you. Of course I usually end up getting kidnapped, or shot at-"
"Amanda!" She finally stopped and looked at Lee. He grinned. "Trust me. You know I wouldn't let anything happen to you."
"Yeah, of course, ok," she agreed. 'How can I feel worried when he flashes "that" grin?' she thought.
"Now, let's see what we can salvage from this...mess."
As they began the daunting task of cleaning the cabin, the silence was almost deafening. Lee noticed that Amanda seemed to be lost in thought as she emptied the cabinets, then wiped them out. But Lee felt as though he should say something, so he tried to start a conversation.
"So, you seeing anybody...lately? I mean, Dan still around?" Lee began as he dropped to his knees and started rummaging through the bottom kitchen cabinets.
"What?" Amanda asked incredulously. She was standing on a chair looking through the top cabinets.
"Ah, I was just trying to make some polite conversation. Sorry. We can change the subject." Lee grimaced. 'Why did I ask her that?' he wondered.
"OK," Amanda agreed. 'Now why would he want to know that,' she wondered to herself. A few minutes passed as they worked in silence.
'Well, why not answer him?' Amanda thought. 'He was just trying to talk, to break the monotony. Where could this conversation actually go, anyway?'
So she said, "No."
"No, what?" asked Lee, having already put the previous conversation from his mind, concentrating on the unbelievably disgusting things in the cabinets.
"It's Dean, and no he's not," Amanda replied, not very comfortable with the topic. "Still around. Guess things just didn't work out the way they wanted."
"Oh. Who's they?" questioned Lee.
"You said, 'things didn't work out the way they wanted.' Who's they?" Lee asked, feigning nonchalance.
"No, I said we, ...or he, or something. Why would I say 'they'?"
"I don't know. You said it." Lee paused. 'Should I change the subject? No, I've got to know,' "What did you mean? Didn't you want things to work out, too?"
"I guess, maybe at first." Amanda couldn't figure out why Lee wouldn't let the conversation end. "But I began to wonder if Dean wasn't just a substitute for my ex-husband." Lee's eyes widened at her remark. "You know, dependable, hard working, really cared for the boys." Lee nodded in understanding. "But it seemed like my needs were always put secondary. He kept saying how after we were married I wouldn't have to worry about a job." Amanda shrugged her shoulders and smiled. "I like working for the Agency. It's interesting."
"You mean it's exciting. And dangerous. And everything your ex and Dean weren't," Lee added. He never would have thought a simple housewife would be happier casing dives with him than having a normal life with a normal, 'dependable' guy.
"Well, yeah, I guess." Amanda agreed. "And mother really liked him, too. And he really seemed to care for mother. It's not easy at my age with two kids and a live-in mother to find a man to accept all that and still care for me."
"Aha. 'They.' Your mother and Dean."
"You know, you shouldn't give up so easily. There's probably someone right under your nose that you're overlooking." He looked up at her. "Who knows, your knight in shining armor could barge into your life at any moment and..." He caught her gaze. He couldn't help it; she was staring right at him.
"Ah, what I mean is, you shouldn't just settle. You're bright and ... and attractive...and ah," Lee faltered again. "What I'm trying to say, is that there are other men who would like to be with you, to get to know you better and..." Lee felt like he was digging that hole deeper and deeper. And she wouldn't stop looking at him. Those dark brown eyes just kept boring into his soul. If he didn't do something quick, he might say something he couldn't later blame on the case.
Lee looked down at his hands. Inspiration!
"Chocolate!" Lee grinned, proud of his quick thinking. "Found it in the cabinet. You know, they say chocolate is one of the better foods to eat when you're stuck in the wilderness." He tore open a wrapper on one of the 3 bars he held. "Want a piece?"
Amanda turned quickly away so that Lee couldn't see the tears that had started to form. "No, thank you. I don't think I'm very hungry right now," Amanda replied, hoping that Lee would think it was because of the questionable items they were pulling from the cabinets.
"I'm all finished here," Lee said, and stood up dusting off his knees. "How about you?"
"Yes, I think we're more than done here," Amanda replied. "Why don't I just take these bags outside? They smell really bad. And I think I need some fresh air." She picked up the newly filled garbage bags and headed for the door.
"Wait a minute." Lee stepped in front of her to stop her and reached for the bags; he missed and only grasped her hands. Again, she fixed him with that penetrating stare. "I mean, you probably shouldn't go out there, not with Richardson and his goons on the loose." Lee took the bags from her. "I'll go."
"OK." As she assembled the few remaining useful items on the counter, Amanda wondered exactly what Lee had been trying to say earlier. She knew what she hoped for, maybe even longed for, but what were the chances that Lee Stetson could feel that way about her? She was just a housewife, with two kids, a mother and a mortgage. Nope, most definitely not Lee's style.
Then again, he had changed a lot since she first met him that fateful day at the train station. They had become really good friends, and great partners. But could there be more between them? Should there be more between them, she wondered?
Her thoughts were interrupted by the entrance of Lee, stomping his feet as he came in the door.
"It started raining while we were working so hard in here. And the temperature is dropping fast. It's going to get colder than normal for this time of year." Lee surveyed the meager amount of items on the counters.
"Not much left to use," Amanda observed. All that was left on the counter were three packs of crackers, 2 candy bars, three blankets and a bottle of water.
"Not exactly an embassy dinner but it'll do. Luckily they didn't cut the mattress," Lee said. "We should still be able to get warm laying on the mattress and covering with those blankets." Amanda's head jerked up. "We should probably go ahead and go to bed. We need to get up and moving early. The rendezvous point that Francine set up is a pretty rough hike from here. Not to mention it's already getting cold in here."
"Ah, Lee. That's only a full size mattress. And I, uh, well..." Amanda didn't quite know how to say she wasn't very comfortable with the proposed sleeping arrangements.
"Aw, Amanda. What do you want me to do? Sleep on the floor? Huh?"
A little while later, Amanda was trying to get comfortable on the bed. It was difficult since it was cold and she only had one blanket. She had let Lee have the other two; he was on the floor.
Lee was trying to get comfortable, too. He was having a difficult time even with two blankets. The temperature had dropped farther than he anticipated. He couldn't stop his teeth from chattering. And he could swear the floor had more holes than boards.
Amanda could hear Lee trying to get comfortable and warm. She could even hear his teeth chattering. She felt guilty about making him sleep on the floor. She knew he would never try anything unless she wanted him to. But that was the problem. She wasn't sure she could refuse him. 'But that's silly,' she thought to herself. 'We are both adults, not some lovesick teenagers battling raging hormones. This is a life or death situation. Lee wouldn't let his guard down like that... would he?' Amanda argued with herself. 'Of course he wouldn't, Amanda King, he's a gentleman. Just tell him to get up here. You can work something out.'
"Lee," Amanda started. When he didn't answer, she called again, "Lee."
"What?" Lee answered, teeth chattering.
"This is silly. I'm sorry. Just come on and get on the bed. You're freezing down there."
"No, Amanda, I'm OK," Lee insisted.
"No you're not. I can hear your teeth over here. It would be different if we had a fire going, but--"
And they finished together, "--we can't because of the smoke."
"Lee, please. Just get up here. You've got to get some rest too. Besides three blankets will be better than one for me too. Come on."
"Oh, all right," Lee agreed.
Amanda scooted over as far as she could without falling off and rolled on her side, facing away from Lee. As Lee stood there watching he just shook his head. If it were any other person, male or female, he would never have gotten on the floor in the first place. 'But that's just it,' he thought. 'She's not "any other" person. She's Amanda. What is it about her that makes me do these things?' he wondered.
As he lay on the bed and threw his two covers over them both, he thought he could sense Amanda stiffen. 'I wish she would just relax,' he thought, a little frustrated that she would even think he would try something.
"Let's get some rest, huh?"
"Yeah," Amanda paused. "Lee, we will get out of here, right?"
"Of course we will. You'll be home before lunch tomorrow."
"Ok, it's just that I miss the boys, and my mother, and I'm cold and hungry and finding it very difficult to fall asleep," Amanda replied, her voice cracking a little.
Without thinking, Lee reached for Amanda and said, "Come here, maybe if we get closer a little body heat will get us warm enough to fall asleep. I'll buy you a big breakfast tomorrow. And I'll get you home to your family."
Amanda, also without thinking, moved closer to Lee and let him put his arms around her. "I know you will. You always do."
"Look, Amanda, I'm sorry to have gotten you into this--"
"Lee, I know you'll get us out of this, you--"
"No, Amanda, that's not what I mean. I mean, the whole thing. If anything ever happened to you..." Lee faltered. "What I'm trying to say..." Again Lee faltered. Again, he tried to start over.
"Amanda, you're...we're...ah, I..."
Amanda looked over her shoulder and found Lee staring at her. She gazed into his eyes. "Lee, it's alright. We'll be fine." She could feel his warm breath on her cheek. Suddenly, her mind wandered to "other" things. She could feel his arms around her, his legs touching hers, his chest--"I think I'm warm enough to go to sleep now," she said abruptly. 'Although, I don't know how I will now,' she thought. 'Just calm down, Amanda.'
"Yeah, I... I think you're right." A little flustered, Lee gratefully pulled away from her. They both moved to opposite sides of the bed, facing away from each other.
"Good night, Amanda"
"Good night, Lee."
Amanda woke slowly, feeling disoriented. She could see the early morning sunlight streaming through the window. Gradually, the events of the past day came back to her. Then Amanda knew something was not right. She was lying on her side and could feel something heavy across her waist. When she looked under the blankets she saw Lee's arm draped across her.
'Oh my gosh,' she thought. 'What has happened?' She noticed that her clothes were still on and so apparently were Lee's. She was grateful for that. But they had somehow managed to snuggle back together while they slept. Amanda tried to get up without waking Lee, but knew that she would not be able to do it.
"Lee," she whispered. When he didn't respond, she cleared her throat and whispered a little louder, "Lee."
In response, Lee grunted and began to nuzzle the back of her neck. Although Amanda was enjoying the sensation of Lee's warm breath on her neck, she knew she had to wake Lee now. "Lee!"
Lee jerked awake. "What?!" He, too, was disoriented, not quite remembering where he was or who he was with. And then it dawned on him. "Amanda?"
"Yes, it's me. Would you mind please taking your arm off of me?"
"What? Oh, yeah sure," and he removed his arm. Amanda slid out from under the blankets and stood up. She started shivering.
"Still a little cold in here. I guess maybe that's why we..."
"Yeah that's probably why we, uh...Well," Lee agreed as he stood up. "Ah, you sleep well?"
"Oh, yeah, fine. You?" asked Amanda.
"Yeah, great. We, uh, should probably get going. We've got a long trek ahead of us."
"Yeah," Amanda agreed. "Long trek."
As they hiked along, Lee couldn't help but think about last night. 'Boy, Stetson, you almost messed up. What exactly were you going to say to her anyway?' Lee stopped that train of thought. His mind wandered to this morning, when he woke up. He had felt so comfortable. And he had slept better than he could ever remember sleeping. It had felt right, like she belonged in his arms. Like they should be that way forever. Maybe he needed to really think about Amanda, and what she meant to him--
"Lee!" Amanda interrupted his thoughts. "I think I saw two men up on that ridge. They may just be hunters but I really don't want to be mistaken for a deer."
"Yeah, right. Let's see if we can find some cover."
As they crouched behind a large boulder, Lee's eyes scanned the area for the two men.
"So, what were you thinking about, Lee? I had to call you three times to get your attention," Amanda said.
Lee looked at her. 'Now is not the time, Stetson,' he thought to himself. He shrugged his shoulders and said, "When the time is right, we'll talk about it."
Amanda didn't know what to say so she didn't say anything at all. 'What exactly did he mean by that?'
When she didn't say anything, Lee asked, "So, how did you see those two guys up there?"
"Oh, I don't know, just a feeling. Like we were being watched." But, Amanda wasn't sure how she had noticed the men. She had been almost as deep in thought as Lee. And it was about last night and this morning. She thought that last night he would finally say something about what he was feeling, and that it would match the feelings she was having. But he didn't. Then when she woke up this morning in his arms it had felt so right, like she belonged there, forever. And she couldn't remember ever sleeping better or feeling safer. Maybe she should think a little more about Lee, about what he really meant to her. Maybe she should make the first--
"Amanda!" shouted Lee, breaking into her thoughts. "There's more than two guys. And we've been spotted, we need to move." He reached out for her hand. Amanda hesitated, and they gazed into each other's eyes. Then she reached out and grasped his hand.
Later that day, back at the Agency, Lee and Amanda were telling Billy and Francine all the details about how they got away from Richardson.
"...And when we knew we had been spotted we headed for the rendezvous point," Lee was saying. "We were hoping Francine had made it there with her team and that Richardson and his men would follow us, being drawn into the trap that Francine was setting up."
"And she was," Amanda added. "I don't know how we would have gotten away if they hadn't run right into those other agents. What I want to know is, how did Jacob know we were coming in the first place?"
Billy answered. "Our informant on the inside was apparently leaking information for Richardson. He wanted an agent or two on the inside, to use them to make point."
"So, he allowed you in, caught you, pretended to let you escape, and then was going to blow up your car, with you in it," Francine added.
"He was trying to tell us to stay away from his group, that it would be too dangerous to send anyone else in," Billy finished.
"Sir, what about the conference?" Amanda asked.
"It's been taken care of," Billy said with a smile. "We rounded up all of Richardson's group, got all of his plans and "swept" the conference hall clean. And, we've beefed up security. The conference should go off without a hitch-as far as security is concerned."
"Good," Amanda said, relieved.
Lee jumped back in the conversation. "Ah, Billy, I'm gonna walk Amanda out. Let her get home to her family."
"All right, Lee, but get back in here, I want to get this paperwork finished today," Billy said sternly, then smiled as Lee and Amanda turned to walk out his office door. Francine gave Billy a strange look, and he quickly erased the smile.
Out in the hall, Lee and Amanda were on the way to the elevator.
"I know I promised to buy you breakfast this morning," Lee began.
"It's all right, I understand. Work. Gotta get it done," Amanda said, nodding.
As they got to the elevator, they faced each other.
Lee flashed a grin at her. "How about a rain check?"
"A rain check? Sure," Amanda agreed, smiling. "That would be fine." Amanda had been avoiding looking at Lee, and when she finally looked up, his gaze locked on hers, and it was just the two of them, no agents, no Agency.
Just as Lee was about to say something else, something Amanda was sure she had been waiting to hear, a voice broke into their "world."
"Scarecrow, Billy needs you, now." It was Francine, of course, standing just outside the doors to the bullpen.
Lee looked at Francine and said, "I'll be right there." He turned back to Amanda just as the elevator doors opened. "We'll talk about that rain check, OK?"
"Yeah," Amanda replied as she walked backwards into the elevator. And as the doors shut, the last thing either one of them saw of each other that day were their smiles.