Disclaimer I: 'Scarecrow and Mrs. King' belong to Warner Brothers and Shoot the Moon Productions. I am simply borrowing them, with due respect to their creators, for a short duration. I am not making a profit from this story.
Disclaimer II: 'She' was written and performed by Charles Aznavour and is also performed by Elvis Costello.
Timeline: Moments spanning first through fourth seasons. Vague reference made to the following episodes: 'Service Above and Beyond,' 'Ship of Spies,' 'The Eyes Have It,' and 'Do You Take This Spy?'
Summary: He expected that she would change when she came into his life. But he never expected that she would change . . . him.
Archive: SMKfanfic and Blue Boxers and Beyond. It will also be posted on FF.N. Anywhere else, please ask.
Author's Note: To my absolutely talented beta group, I thank you. I never cease to grow and improve with your encouragement and skills. You each know how much I love ya, right?
May be the face I can't forget.
A trace of pleasure or regret
May be my treasure or the price I have to pay.
She may be the song that summer sings.
May be the chill that autumn brings.
May be a hundred different things
Within the measure of a day.
Lee unlocked the door to his apartment, tossing his keys in the direction of the nearest piece of furniture. He went into his bedroom and glanced at the general disarray. Shrugging, he picked up a pair of boxers from a basket of freshly laundered clothes and stepped into the bathroom.
After starting the shower, he undressed quickly and stepped in. Once under the hot, needling spray of the water, he realized just how tense he was. The pounding water pummeled his tight shoulders. Leaning his head back so that it was under the flow, he closed his eyes.
He'd nearly lost her. Lost her . . . a few months ago, all he'd wanted to do was get rid of her. Perhaps even a week, or a day ago, that would have been the case. But seeing her lying there, helplessly sprawled across that bed, had been a shock.
His arms still bore the memory of holding her lifeless, fragile body as he carried her down the spiral staircase in James Delano's home. Even now, the rage he'd felt at the thought of someone harming her stirred in him a smoldering anger that he had rarely ever felt.
The paramedics had tried to keep him from climbing into the ambulance with her. A few well-phrased threats had fixed that. Holding her hand, he'd felt so guilty, so responsible. He'd inadvertently brought her into a very dangerous business. If anything had happened to her . . .
But it hadn't. He'd held her hand and spoken soothing, reassuring words. He'd realized that he'd come to have a grudging respect for her courage and abilities. To his immense relief, she had opened her eyes and smiled at him, having heard at least part of what he'd been saying.
Now that it was all over, he couldn't help but wonder why he'd insisted on riding with her. He could have just as easily followed the ambulance in his own car, but he'd been motivated by some force that he hadn't understood - still didn't understand.
Then later, he'd stopped by her house to make sure she was feeling all right. As he was leaving, she'd stopped him and asked how he'd gotten her out of the mansion.
"I carried you."
It was the simple truth, and yet, incomprehensibly, she'd seemed touched by his admission. As he'd hurried away, he'd heard her softly repeat his words, her tone surprised and contemplative. 'He carried me.'
Why did she react to things so personally? Why was it that he found himself responding to her? He amazed himself with his candor when he was around her. He found himself opening up to her without even meaning to. She was easy to talk to, but there was so much more to it than that.
She could move him from laughter to anger in a split second, and from frustration to instant remorse in the next. He'd never allowed anyone to affect him the way she did.
'Well,' he thought cynically, 'she'll learn to hide her emotions soon enough. In this line of work, it's inevitable.' He couldn't understand why that thought filled him with sadness and a twinge of regret.
The truth was, he didn't want to see her change. Not in that way - not to become hardened and jaded. It came as a surprise to him to realized that he genuinely liked Amanda King.
May be the beauty or the beast.
May be the famine or the feast.
May turn each day into a heaven or a hell.
She may be the mirror of my dream.
A smile reflected in a stream
She may not be what she may seem
Inside her shell
"Nothing more to it." The phrase reverberated in Lee's mind as he navigated the Corvette through the streets of Arlington. "Nothing more to it." Amanda had repeated his words, nodding her head, but there had been an amused glint in her brown eyes.
Why had he found it necessary to remind her, yet again, that there was nothing between them? Sure, she had been confused in Billy's office; she hadn't realized the marriage wasn't valid, but that didn't mean anything. It was he who had felt uncomfortable with the situation.
He'd come to know and respect Amanda as a friend. She still infuriated him at times, but he was becoming accustomed even to that. Though he wouldn't go so far as to call her his partner, he didn't mind working with her as much as he previously had. In fact, he found himself relying on her more and more.
Deep in thought, he barely registered the fact that he was heading toward her neighborhood. "Nothing more to it," he muttered under his breath.
Amanda had never reacted to him the way other women did - fawning and cloying. She'd wanted his respect and to be his friend. It was also clear to him, right from the start, that she'd considered herself his equal in every way. She was altogether different than any other woman he'd ever known.
So why was he obsessing over their phony nuptials? Even now, after she agreed that there was nothing to it, he still worried.
It wasn't her; it was him.
It was that kiss. The kiss they'd shared at their 'wedding.' He hadn't expected it to affect him at all; it was just a kiss. He'd kissed a lot of women, and usually the kissing was just a precursor to more. Kissing had never had much of an emotional effect on him, until he kissed Amanda. It had been more than just a kiss, after all.
He remembered, as he pulled back from the contact, looking at her. She had suddenly seemed different to him. Amanda, and yet . . . more than Amanda. It was as though, in that moment, he knew that there was far more to her than he had realized - facets of her personality that he never would know. She was a woman with needs and desires and dreams. In kissing her, he felt that he'd fallen through the looking glass.
On autopilot, he parked across from her house. 'What am I doing?' he asked himself, looking around. Still, he got out of the car, stretched, and then headed around the back of her house. These evening visits were becoming quite a habit, he realized with a start. Amanda didn't just show up at *his* place to say hello.
Pushing the annoying thought out of his mind, he tapped on her back door.
She who always seems so happy in a crowd.
Whose eyes can be so private and so proud
No one's allowed to see them when they cry.
She may be the love that cannot hope to last
May come to me from shadows of the past.
That I'll remember till the day I die
Five days. He couldn't even believe it. There was no way he needed five entire days of rest and relaxation. The very thought of it was absurd.
Still, it wouldn't be so bad. Billy had made it Amanda's assignment to make sure the orders were followed, which meant she'd be around quite a bit. A smile sprang to Lee's lips. Any minute now, she'd be there with her homemade chicken soup.
Plus, he needed to talk to her. She'd been aware of the plan - that he would 'die' on the operating table. He wouldn't have put her through the pain losing him again. Just putting himself in her position, thinking about the possibility of losing her, had made him adamant on the subject. Billy had conceded, and had told him that Amanda had done a very convincing job of appearing distressed.
But when Lee had entered the room where she was waiting, he found her crying quietly. She'd turned her back to him and attempted to dry her tears, but it had been too late. He'd gone to her and, without a word, wrapped his arms around her. When she had quieted, he asked her why she was so upset.
"Because it seemed too real," had been her simple reply. With a small smile, she had hugged him fiercely.
He sighed. When had she become such an important part of his life? When had he become so completely attached to her? He hadn't even dated anyone since Leslie. Actually, that wasn't strictly true. In a way, he'd been unofficially dating Amanda. He took her out to dinner once or twice a week and they ate lunch together nearly every day. He found himself holding her hand nearly all the time.
Neither one of them had admitted the situation, let alone discussed it. They were on the verge of a new relationship. Sooner or later, they would have to acknowledge it.
Her brisk knock brought a grin to his face and set his heart racing as he hurried to let her in. Before reaching the door, he slowed down and attempted to compose his features into a more casual expression.
Satisfied that he didn't appear overeager, he reached for the door and pulled it open. He had every intention of letting her think that he was chagrined by Billy's orders, but when he saw her standing there smiling at him, the resolve was forgotten and his face broke into a warm grin.
"Nurse King, I presume," he teased, standing aside so she could enter.
She laughed, walking past him. "Just be glad I didn't wear my Bedside Bluebell uniform."
Closing the door, he grinned to himself. He could handle five days of Amanda's care and companionship. In fact, he was looking forward to it.
May be the reason I survive
The why and wherefore I'm alive
The one I'll care for through the rough and ready years
Me I'll take her laughter and her tears
And make them all my souvenirs
For where she goes I've got to be
The meaning of my life is
The early morning light filtered into the room. Lee opened his eyes and blinked rapidly in an attempt to wake up. He could feel his wife's warm body, sleeping contentedly next to him.
Slowly, he rolled onto his side to watch her. Her breathing was slow and even. Memories of the gentle love they'd made the night before flooded his senses.
Above the sheet, the still-new scar stood out in sharp contrast with her creamy skin. Almost subconsciously, he reached over and lightly traced it with his finger. He'd nearly lost her . . . again.
What would he have done if she hadn't pulled through? He loved her so much; she had brought so much joy and tenderness into his life. Every moment was a chance to be with her, a chance to discover something new.
He sent up a silent thanks to whatever entity had allowed her to remain with him, had spared him another painful loss in his life. He needed her - needed her more than he'd ever needed anyone.
She sighed in her sleep, her dark lashes fluttering against her cheeks. Softly, he placed a hand on her abdomen and watched as one of her hands came up and grasped his fingers.
It was hard to believe they'd been working together for four years. It was even harder to believe that there was a time he'd looked at her without feeling the love and desire he felt now. Their relationship had advanced slowly but steadily. She had told him more than once that was the reason they had a good marriage, and he knew she was right.
He wanted to savor every minute with her. Everything was so brand new - watching her sleep, seeing her emerge from the shower dripping wet, sharing coffee and the morning paper. They were simple joys that he would never take for granted.
Continuing to observe her, he knew that his love for her would only grow through the years. Her eyelashes fluttered and he knew that she'd wake up soon.
As if sensing his mood, she opened her eyes. "Watching me again, Stetson?" she questioned teasingly.
"How long have you been awake?" he asked, grinning at her.
She yawned. "Long enough to wonder what you're thinking about." Shifting, she turned toward him and rubbed his forearm lightly.
Admiring her tousled appearance, he replied, "I was thinking about how lucky I am that you came into my life. How smart I was to fall in love with you, and . . . "
"And?" One eyebrow rose characteristically.
He leaned in and kissed her soundly, then pulled away and said, "And the future. How, no matter where it takes us, I just want to be with you."
Clearly affected, she smiled. "I love you."
Gently leaning over for another kiss, he smiled back, tucking a strand of hair behind her ear. "I love you, too."
For where she goes I've got to be
The meaning of my life is She
~ finis ~