Time Frame: Third season
Summary: AU-What if Amanda had been trapped in the freezer with Lee instead of Francine during the episode 'Fast Food for Thought.'
Disclaimer: 'Scarecrow and Mrs. King' is the property of Warner Brothers and Shoot the Moon. This story, however, belongs to the author and is for entertainment purposes only. No infringement of rights is intended.
Author's Notes: The timing of this story is based on the hour that Amanda and Francine were locked up together in FFFT. As with quite a few SMK plots, some suspension of disbelief may be required!
Drawing on all his training and experience, Lee Stetson quickly determined what needed to be done. He surmised that, in order to get out of this makeshift prison, he needed to open that door. He also realized that opening it would be impossible so, after reaching that fairly obvious conclusion, he did the only thing in his power. He cursed a blue streak and threw his shoulder against the very solid, and all too secure, steel door.
One try was all it took before Lee gave up and rubbed his shoulder. He looked over at his companion, who was sitting on a crate of packaged french-fries. Amanda King had a bemused expression on her face as she waited for Lee to finish strong-arming their surroundings. She was a tall, slender brunette, with large brown eyes and the patience of a saint when it came to her partner.
“Are you quite finished?” she asked.
“Yeah, I guess so,” Lee answered with a sheepish look in Amanda’s direction.
“Do you feel better now, or would you like to rough up those hamburger patties over there?” Amanda tilted her head toward more stacks of food that lined the walls of the freezer.
Lee looked around with a snort. A freezer. They were stuck in a freezer. He raked his hand through his sandy brown hair and shook his head. “Thank you, Amanda, but I think I’m finished now.”
"Okay, so now what do we do?"
“Nothing. We do nothing. This place is sealed up tight. Airtight, I might add.” Lee paused, trying to determine the best way to continue. He decided to get right to the point. “Our oxygen supply is going to run out at some point,” Lee stated, matter-of-factly. “That is, if the flash-freeze doesn’t get us first,” he added, thinking about the timer that their captors had set when they locked them in the walk-in cooler.
Understanding began to register on Amanda’s face. “No air. I thought all we had to worry about was the cold,” Amanda began. “ I mean, I knew that Carla told Barry to set that timer, which, by the way, I was hoping you could disable or something. I knew that we’d have to deal with that. But I never imagined that our air could run out.
Lee instantly recognized Amanda’s fear. He took her small hands, which she was nervously twisting back and forth, and held them in his own. “Hey, look. It’s going to be okay. Just slow down.”
“I’m sorry. I'm just a little scared, and when I'm scared, I ramble. Like now." She paused and looked over at Lee. "I'm talking too much again, aren’t I?” she asked as Lee continued to hold her hands.
“Well, we do have a limited amount of oxygen in here,” he chuckled. “Besides, there’s nothing to worry about. Billy and Francine will figure out where we are. They’ll get here in time.”
“Do you really believe that? You’re usually the one who rescues me.” Amanda said.
“Yeah. Or you rescue me.” Lee pointed out.
“See, that’s my point. We’re both in here.” They looked at each other for a moment, neither one wanting to think about the possibility that they might not be rescued in time.
There was an uncomfortable silence while they considered their dilemma. After a moment, Amanda spoke, bringing them both back to the reality of their situation.
“You know, I’m already getting cold,” she said as she moved her hands up and down her arms. The light shirt and sweater-vest she wore were less than adequate protection against the cold.
“Yeah. I guess it makes sense that this thing would act as a refrigerator... until it’s time to freeze whatever needs freezing.”
“Like us?” Amanda asked.
“Hey. Come on. Let’s not lose hope already,” he said in an attempt to cheer her up.
“Oh, I’m not losing hope. It’s just that I’m getting a little tired of being locked up by every criminal we come in contact with.” Amanda said as she recalled just how often that had happened in the last few months. She looked up, giving Lee a half-hearted smile.
“I know, I know. Come here.” Lee reached out and took Amanda by the shoulders, rubbing her upper-arms as she had been only seconds before.
“Here, why don’t you take my coat?” he asked. Before she could answer, he started taking off the leather jacket he was wearing.
“Oh, no, Lee. I can’t take your coat. I mean, if I was to wear your coat, then you wouldn’t have anything to wear. And, how could I possibly enjoy being warm, knowing full well that I was the reason that you're sitting here freezing? I couldn’t, that’s how. So you just keep your coat. I will be just, well, I’ll be okay. Okay?”
Lee noticed that Amanda was running on again, but he decided not to point it out to her. He stood there holding his jacket, wondering what to do next. He had no intention of wearing a coat while Amanda froze without one.
An idea came to him. “Okay,” he began, “tell you what. Neither of us will wear it. We’ll sit on it. We could be here awhile, so we might as well make ourselves comfortable.” Lee laid his jacket on the ground with a flourish, reminding Amanda of a nobleman at court. He gestured toward the spot that had only seconds ago been a bare patch of cold concrete. “Shall we?”
“That sounds like a good idea,” Amanda agreed as she lowered herself onto the makeshift seat. “Oh, yes. This is much better,” she teased.
“Hey, this isn’t bad. This way the coat can benefit both of us,” Lee said as he joined Amanda on the ground. “We’ll just have to think of other ways to keep ourselves warm," he added as he put his arm around her slender shoulders.
Amanda shivered again, but she knew it had nothing to do with the cold. When Lee talked to her like that, dropping his voice an octave, she practically melted. She had an urge to sidestep the moment, letting her nerves overrule her desires. But, this time, her desires won out and she turned her face toward his.
“So, is this part of that field experience you were talking about last night? Shared body heat?” Amanda asked as she nestled herself in Lee’s arms.
“Actually, I had another type of field experience in mind. They both share the same basic principles, though.” It was still there, that seductive tone that sent a chill up Amanda’s spine. She felt like she might swoon, and then she realized that the feeling wasn't just because of her nearness to Lee.
“You know, I’m starting to feel a little light-headed,” Amanda said as she leaned her head against Lee's shoulder. “I feel like I’ve had too much Champagne.”
“It’s the lack of oxygen,” Lee explained. "I’m feeling a bit dizzy myself.”
“Well, at least I’m not getting drunk alone,” Amanda giggled.
“Drunk. You know, it's funny. I don’t think I’ve ever seen you drunk. It’s hard to imagine.” Lee looked down at Amanda, a small smile playing across his lips.
“Yeah, well it’s not something I normally do. Although, with the way I feel right now, I kind of like it.” Amanda returned Lee’s lingering gaze.
Lee’s heart jumped as if it had missed a beat. He took the opportunity to talk about something he had on his mind.
“You know, Amanda, I really wanted to come in for that cup of coffee last night,” Lee began. “I almost came back over, and then Francine poked her head out her door. That woman has the timing of a... of a...” Lee stopped for a second and shook his head. “Boy, my brain must be running low on oxygen. I can’t even think of a good zinger for Francine. Hmm. Now, where was I?” Lee looked down at Amanda whose eyes had never left his face. Lee reached out a hand, gently brushing aside a stray lock of Amanda’s hair. The back of his hand came to rest against her cheek, and he lightly stroked her delicate skin.
He began to chuckle.
“What? What’s so funny?” Amanda asked.
“I was just thinking that if we really want someone to storm in here, all I have to do is try to kiss you. That’s happened, what, twice now? They say the third times the charm!” He laughed again, pleased with his own joke.
“Lee Stetson, that is not funny,” Amanda said just before she burst into giggles.
They both struggled to regain their composure, but one glance at each other sent them back over the edge in a fit of hysterical laughter. They leaned on each other for support as they gasped, forgetting for a moment how little air the freezer held. They were feeling like kids at play, and it was a sensation that both were eager to enjoy, no matter what the cause or reason.
Lee gave Amanda’s shoulder a playful shove. Not to be outdone, Amanda pushed back a little harder. Soon, they were shoulder to shoulder, each one straining to knock the other off balance. It was Lee who won the battle, sending Amanda sprawling on to her back. As she fell, Lee lost his balance too, landing squarely on top of the laughing woman he had just knocked over.
Their laughter stopped the instant their eyes met. They were keenly aware of each other, of the warmth that was generated wherever their bodies touched. They had been this close, physically, in the past, but never before had they been emotionally ready to deal with the feelings it invoked.
Only the night before, Lee had been ready to take their relationship to another level. But now, as he was a mere seconds away from making the first move, he felt a wave of nervousness wash over him. He looked at Amanda, searching for any hint that what was happening between them was wrong. What he saw, etched across her face, was complete acceptance and trust.
“Lee.” It was more a sigh than a word. Her breathing had grown shallow. As she exhaled, Amanda’s breath touched Lee’s icy cheek, making his skin tingle as nerves that had been close to numbness sprang to life.
They were experiencing a moment of exquisite, unbearable tension. They were about to step, hand in hand, into uncharted space and the anticipation was almost more than they could stand.
Lee rolled back to a sitting position in one fluid motion, bringing Amanda with him. They sat there for a moment, gazing deeply into each other's eyes, each one overflowing with emotions that had only recently come to the surface.
Then, with the memory of her breath still on his skin, Lee cupped Amanda’s face, framing her delicate features with his hands. He began blowing small trails of steaming breath across her cheeks, over her brow. Moments later, after he had covered every inch of exposed skin, he began again, retracing the path with his lips. Amanda tried to swallow. Even if their air hadn’t been in short supply, she would have found it difficult to breathe.
After awhile, Lee's lingering exploration of Amanda's face led him to her lips. He paused for the briefest of seconds. His face was so close to hers that he could not focus, but he knew that her eyes were closed, her lips parted in expectation. He moved forward, covering the last bit of space between them, and touched his lips to hers.
The kiss, this first joining of hearts, was intense, sparking a fire within them hot enough to thaw the entire room. Gone were Lee's gentle ministrations and his delicate, almost reverent touch. His lips took Amanda's forcefully, possessively, and he found himself only mildly surprised when she returned the kiss with equal fervor.
Amanda, herself, marveled at the intensity of their passion, so newly discovered. They were almost savage in their desire, and she didn't want to consider the hint of desperation that wove it's way through her mind. Desperate because this might be their only kiss.
When at last they pulled back, they were breathless and dizzy, as much from the kiss as from the diminishing air. They wanted more, but their minds and bodies were no longer in agreement. Lee leaned back, pulling Amanda into his embrace. It was a bittersweet moment. He placed a lingering kiss on her forehead as reality began to slip out of his grasp.
Amanda sighed. The lack of oxygen began to take its toll, and her eyelids started to feel heavy. She struggled to remain aware as thoughts of her family flitted through her mind. She wouldn't see her boys again; she wouldn't get to say goodbye. A tear slid down her cheek as she began to lose consciousness. The euphoria she was experiencing only slightly relieved the deep sorrow that was settling over her.
"Sleepy," she murmured, as she laid her head against Lee's shoulder. Her last coherent thought was of him, and how nice it was to finally be in his arms.
Lee knew that they should try to stay awake, but he too was finding that difficult. He began drift, and as he did, he saw his life as he wished it had been. Images of a picket fence and a grassy yard; sounds of laughter drifting out from a house filled with love. Was this, he thought, what heaven would be like?
He tightened his grip around Amanda's shoulders, pulling her as close as possible. The last thing he was aware of, as he too drifted off, was the flash-freeze vent coming to life, and the frigid air pouring into the already cold room.
They never knew how much time passed from the moment they lost consciousness to the moment they awoke, but it couldn't have been more than a couple of minutes.
The first thing they were aware of were rough hands pulling them to their feet, and loud voices calling out their names.
“Amanda! Lee!” They were outside the freezer now, inhaling deeply as their bodies fought to replenish the oxygen they so desperately needed. The temperature in the warehouse, which might normally have seemed cool, felt wonderfully warm.
An hour passed while Lee and Amanda were checked out by paramedics and briefed on the status of their case. Billy informed them that all had ended well. After his capture, Barry had released their location and given up Carla, as well. The contaminated shipments of Marvin Burgers were all located. Case closed.
Amanda sat on a stairway, a grey paramedic blanket draped over her shoulders, where only a short while earlier Lee’s arm had rested. She found herself missing the contact.
Lee sat next to her, wrapped in an identical blanket. An awkward silence had settled over them after Billy walked away. Neither one knew where to begin, or even what to say after they started. The throbbing in their heads did little to help the situation.
Lee finally took the first step. “Amanda, about what happened in there,” he began, but before he could continue, Amanda interrupted.
She had heard this before, and she wasn’t about to be on the receiving end of that speech again. Not this time. “I know,” she said holding up her hand. “We weren’t ourselves. It was the lack of oxygen. We can’t be held accountable for our actions.”
"Amanda, wait." Lee asked, confusion playing across his face.
“Or... oh, I know," Amanda continued, as if she hadn't heard him. "It was cold in there. We were just two people seeking a little warmth, right?”
A rakish grin spread across Lee’s face when he realized what she was doing. He shook his head. “Not exactly,” he said, with the raise of an eyebrow. He took her hand and raised it to his lips. And then, with a wink, he was gone.
Amanda sat there, rooted to her seat. “Not exactly,” she repeated as she slowly began to smile.