The Reason

By:  Fletcher Stanton

Summary: Maybe Lee needed a little push to see what Amanda meant to him

Rating:  PG

Disclaimer:  Scarecrow and Mrs. King  is not mine.  I do not make any money writing about it - this is purely for
entertainment purposes, and not intended to infringe on anyone's copyrights.
Author's Note:  This story starts before Lee and Amanda met, and skips ahead in time a bit.  Lines are used to indicate major changes.  The episode "Burn Out" is referenced at one point.

The whispers and appreciative looks surrounding her told Francine that Lee Stetson had entered the bullpen.  It was amazing – he had that effect on the steno pool, even though they saw him every day.  And he knew it, too.  She looked up just in time to see him flash one of his famous smiles at the group as a whole.  The women sighed, and she rolled her eyes a bit as she looked back at her work.  Not that she was immune to his charms either… but that was in the past.  Now they were friends, which was more than most of the women Lee had dated could say.  Francine finished what she was working on and got up from her desk to head in to the morning staff meeting.

Billy had kept her after the meeting for a few extra minutes, so she was the last one out.  She saw with no real surprise that Lee had made his way over to the steno pool, Probably looking for this week’s conquest, she thought with a sigh.  And every one of them would be happy to be it, even knowing his reputation.  Not that it isn’t deserved.  Still, you’d think that one of them would turn him down, realize that he wasn’t looking for anything lasting.  But from the bits of conversation she’d heard over the years, she knew that every one of them thought that he just needed to find the right woman, and that they were the one for the job.

Glancing over at Lee from her desk, she saw that he had settled his attentions on one of the newer girls.  Francine couldn’t quite recall her name, but then she never paid that much attention to the other women in the office, unless they too were agents.  She thought a moment more, but could only come up with the fact that this one had only been at the agency a few months.  Long enough for her to know better, but it’s her life, I suppose.  And at least he will show her a good time.  Her phone rang, and Francine forgot about Lee and his newest find as she took the call.

A few days later Francine saw a familiar sight on one of the desks as she walked into the bullpen – a small bouquet, the same one Lee always sent to his dates.  Thinking back, she remembered it was the desk of the girl Lee had been talking to a few days earlier, and she shook her head sadly.  The poor girl probably thought that the flowers would be a symbol of things to come, but Francine knew better.  Lee always sent flowers, but they never meant anything good – they were more like a consolation prize they got after seeing him, a pretty ‘Thanks and goodbye’.  Not that she’d ever gotten that bouquet, of course – their break up had been a bit too volatile for that.  The woman in question, a tall, leggy blonde, definitely Lee’s type, walked in then, and Francine looked away, getting back to the work at hand.

She put down her purse, and reached for the card attached to the bouquet, already knowing who it was from.  “Had a great evening, but too short.  Maybe we could pick up where we left off tonight.  –Lee”  She shook her head with a sad smile, put the card in her purse, and went to work.  She was intent on getting some numbers in order for a report Mr. Melrose had asked for, and didn’t notice that someone was at her desk until the figure moved, and blocked her light.  She looked up into the smiling face of Lee Stetson.  She smiled back.

“Hi.  Thanks for the flowers.”

“Hi yourself, and you’re welcome.  Pretty flowers for a pretty lady.”  He turned up the smile a notch, and she sighed inwardly.  He was not going to make this easy.

“So what do you think,” he continued, not noticing her reaction.  “I could pick you up after work tonight, a nice dinner, some candlelight, maybe a little dancing…” He sat on the edge of her desk and leaned in closer as he spoke, and the look he gave her, combined with the slightly husky tone that had entered his voice, told her just what kind of dancing he had in mind.

She shook her head slightly as she answered, ‘I’m sorry, Lee, I can’t.  But thanks for asking,” she added, feeling a little sorry for the handsome man in front of her.

Her answer took him a little off guard, and he leaned back a bit before continuing.

“I’m sorry, too, but I guess this is late notice.  How about later this week.  I may be able to get tickets to -“

She held up a hand to cut him off.  “I don’t think so, Lee.  I’m sorry, but I just can’t.”  She looked at him apologetically.

His smile faltered a bit as she spoke.  This was not what Lee had expected at all.  He wasn’t sure what to say.  He wasn’t used to being turned down – her stopping him from asking her out threw him off, almost as much as her ending their date early the night before.  Sure, this wasn’t the first time the Stetson charm hadn’t worked, but those times were very few and far between.  And they’d never failed him at the steno pool – those were the ones he usually had to fend off.  He decided to try again.

“I thought we had a good time last night,” he began, trying to figure out why she didn’t want to see him again.

“We did, but it just wasn’t… well,” she faltered, trying to find the words.  “It just wasn’t what I expected.” She finished lamely, knowing it wasn’t what she really wanted to say.

His smile turned seductive, and Lee leaned in toward her once again.  “That’s because you had to leave early, remember?  You didn’t give me a chance to show off all my charms.”

She was about to answer him when a commanding voice made them both start.

“Scarecrow!  Would you kindly leave my staff alone and get to work.  That is, if it’s not too much trouble.”  Billy Melrose waited for Lee to respond.

Lee stood up.  “Sorry, Billy.  I’ll get right on it.  Nose to the grindstone, all work and no play…”

Billy shook his head.  “If that’s work, I do not want to see what his idea of play is like,” he said to himself as he walked back to his office.

Lee smiled at her reassuringly.  “Don’t worry, I’ll make sure he doesn’t take this out on you.  I’ll tell him that I wouldn’t let you get any work done.”

‘Thanks, Lee.  But I really do have to get this report ready for Mr. Melrose.”  She hoped he would leave it at that, but he continued.

“So, are we on for later, or not?” he asked, as if most of their conversation had never occurred.

“All right, but just a drink after work.  I really feel like I should explain, but this isn’t the time or the place.”

His smile grew – the Scarecrow hadn’t lost his touch!  “How about Nedlinger’s then – six o’clock?”

“Sounds fine.  I’ll see you later.”  She turned back to her report, trying to see where she had been before Lee’s interruption.

The rest of the day went quickly, too quickly for her.  She really wasn’t looking forward to seeing Lee later.  She knew he wasn’t going to like what she had to say, but she didn’t think it was fair not to tell him, for either of them.  They were already the topic of choice at the water cooler – apparently the flowers he had sent were usually a parting gift.  His appearance at her desk earlier that day had caused quite a stir, and a few glares from some of Lee’s past ‘acquaintances’.

If only they knew how wrong they all were, she thought as she waited at the bar.  Lee walked in just as she got her drink.  He smiled at her, then came over to the bar to get something for himself.

“You know, a booth in the back might be better,” he suggested.  “More private.”

She agreed, and the two found a quiet booth in the back corner of the bar.  She sat down first, positioning herself so that he’d have to sit across from her, rather than next to her as he’d hoped.  They talked shop for a few minutes, which she appreciated – she really wasn’t sure how to begin.  Finally, he brought the subject up.

“I was wondering… what did you really mean earlier when you said that last night wasn’t what you’d expected?”  He tried to sound nonchalant about it, but the truth was that her statement had really bothered him.  He’d tried to figure it out all day, coming up with no good answer.

“I guess what I should have said was that it wasn’t what I’d hoped it would be.”  She shook her head slightly before he could respond.  “Which I realize isn’t a much better answer.”  She took a deep breath, and started again.  She’d had all day to think of just how to tell this man why she wouldn’t see him again.

“Look, Lee, I’m sure you’re a great guy.  You’ve got a lot going for you, you’re one of the Agency’s best and brightest.  But I just don’t want to get involved with Scarecrow.”

Who’d said anything about getting involved?  He was just looking for a little fun.  “Then why go out with me at all?”

“Because I was hoping for a chance to get to know Lee Stetson better.  Unfortunately, he never showed up.”

Lee was confused.  “What do you mean?  I was there.  Who do you think took you to dinner?”

She sighed heavily.  This wasn’t going well.  “You’re right, you were there.  But you weren’t there too.  I had dinner last night with Scarecrow, not Lee.”

“That’s crazy!  They’re one and the same!”

“No they’re not.  Scarecrow is the agent, the loner who never lets anything or anyone get in the way of doing his job.  Never lets himself get involved.  Never lets anything complicate his life.  He’s charming, and witty, and a lot of fun to be around.  He does his best to make whoever he’s with feel like she’s special, even if she isn’t.”  She stopped a moment, and looked directly at him.  “And she isn’t, not to him.”

Lee sat back, stunned and a little angry at what she’d said.  “And Lee?”

She looked sad as she spoke.  “I don’t know.  He’s never around long enough for anyone to really find out.  I’ve seen glimpses of him, but not for long enough to speak of.  Just enough to make me want to know him better.  I was hoping that last night that would happen, that maybe after hours, away from the office, Scarecrow would take his leave, and Lee would come out.  But he didn’t.  And I don’t want to be just another notch on Scarecrow’s bedpost.”

The two sat in awkward silence then.  Lee wanted to tell her she was wrong, but in his heart he knew she wasn’t.  He hadn’t really thought that much about her as a person, what she liked, what she wanted.  He’d just done what he always did, find an attractive woman, and then take her out on a carefully planned evening designed to get her into his bed, and then out of his life as quickly and painlessly as possible.  Only this time he’d been caught at the game.  He stared unhappily into his drink, unsure of what to say.

After a few more tense moments, she spoke again.

Look, I’m sorry.  I know this isn’t what you expected, and that it probably isn’t what you wanted to hear.  I may even be way off base – maybe we just didn’t click, and I read more into it than I should.  It’s just… I’ve only been at the Agency a few months, and I’ve seen this happen several times already.  Maybe it will keep on happening – I don’t know.  All I know is that I thought you deserved to know why I won’t see you again.  That maybe hearing this will make you think before you push away the person you really should be holding close.”  She looked at him wistfully.  “And I know that it isn’t going to be me.”

She reached across the table to touch his cheek.  “You’re a good man, Lee Stetson.  You deserve better than the life Scarecrow is leading.”

She got up then, leaving Lee to think about what she had said.

That had been several years ago.  She transferred to another department in the Agency a few months after that night at Nedlinger’s.  He hadn’t thought about her, or that conversation, in a long time.  He hadn’t let himself think of it.  But now he couldn’t get it out of his mind.  He’d just done the very thing she’d predicted he would do, and he hadn’t even realized it until it was happening, and he couldn’t do anything to stop it. .  Her words just kept echoing back at him – “maybe hearing this will make you think before you push away the person you really should be holding close”.

He had been at Nedlinger’s, pretending to be drunk, to be burnt out, trying to reel in whoever had been recruiting and then killing the Agency’s real burnt out agents.  He’d fooled everyone, even Amanda.  And that’s what he couldn’t stop thinking about.  She’d followed him down to the bar, tried to talk him into going back to the office, and he’d - God, how could I have done that?  How could I have hit her?!  He’d tried to apologize, but ended up sending her away, having to stay in character even though it was the last thing he wanted to do.  The look of pain and betrayal in her eyes would haunt him for the rest of his days.  He had to make things right between them – he just wasn’t sure how.

Lee watched Amanda carefully as she sat across the table from him, drinking some water and trying to recover from the shock of someone trying to kill her.  He wasn’t sure where to start, how to begin to apologize, to rebuild the trust they had shared until this last assignment.  No, not the assignment.

Admit it, Scarecrow, you really screwed things up this time.  You could have pushed Billy harder, made him understand that Amanda shouldn’t be put through this.  But you didn’t.  You kept her in the dark, and now you may have lost the best person that ever came into your life.

Admitting her importance to him, even to himself, was harder than he’d ever thought it could be.  But she was important to him, as Lee and Scarecrow.  And as much as that thought scared the hell out of him, the thought of losing her, even as a friend, scared him even more.  He gathered up his courage, took a deep breath, and began to explain what was really going on to the one person he was determined not to push away.

Lee was glancing through some files at the Q-Bureau when a picture caught his eye.  He smiled at the photo, and went on to read further.  Amanda noticed the look on her husband’s face and went over to see what had captured his attention.  Leaning over his shoulder, she saw the picture of the beautiful blonde, and laughed softly.

“So, one of your ‘Randi-baby’s’ is moving up in the Agency.”  She smiled down at Lee, letting him know she was amused, not jealous.  “Anyone I should be concerned about?”

Lee shook his head, still smiling, turned, and pulled her into his lap.  “No, but I think we should send her some flowers.”

“Maybe I should be concerned.  You usually don’t send flowers to any of your old girlfriends as congratulations.”

“This one was different, Amanda.  And I didn’t say I should send them, I said we should.  As congratulations, yes, but as a thank you as well.”

“Thank you?”  Amanda was puzzled.  “What did she ever do for me?”

Lee smiled at his wife, still amazed that they were married, even after all this time.  He lovingly brushed a stray lock of hair from her face as he spoke.  “Let me tell you about the best turn-down I ever had…”

She smiled at the flowers, nearly identical to the bouquet she had received all those years ago.  The addition of a small stuffed scarecrow confirmed the sender’s identity before she even opened the card.

Her smile grew as she read the note.  ‘Pretty flowers for a pretty special lady. – Lee and Amanda Stetson’