Disclaimer: 'Scarecrow and Mrs. King' belongs to Shoot the Moon and Warner Brothers Productions.
Rating: PG-13 – depicts some violence, mild sexual reference.
Timeline: Mid-second season, with references to "The Mole," written by Cliff Gould, and "Ship of Spies," written by Robert Bielak
Summary: What will Lee do when someone who blames him tries to use Amanda for revenge?
Acknowledgements: Thank you to all my beta readers at the Yahoo Group (you know who you are!!) Your input, feedback and encouragement are what got this story written.
Lee opened his apartment door slowly, praying the hinges wouldn't squeak. He didn't know if they were actually noisy, since he didn't usually pay attention. Now, however, it was very important that the door swing quietly. The last phone call with David Benson had said they were here – waiting for him.
He entered, silently, gun drawn. As he peered into the living room in the dusky light, he waited a moment for his eyes to adjust to the near darkness of early evening. He didn't dare turn on a light to announce his arrival. The wait gave him a moment to reflect on the day's events, the ones that lead him here.
Lee looked again at the conference room clock. It had been over two hours since he sent Amanda to retrieve the Sandusky file from his apartment. He'd been in such a rush to make Billy's 8:30 a.m. meeting that he'd forgotten it on his coffee table. He and Sheila had made a late night of it, and he'd been in too much of a hurry to double-check everything before leaving. Lee remembered the file just as he was pulling into his parking spot and swore loudly to himself. He'd never make it back to his apartment for the file and still be on time for Billy's meeting.
As he sat there trying to decide what to do, he heard a light tapping on the trunk of his car and looked in the rearview mirror. There was Amanda, waving and walking toward his driver side door. 'This is your lucky day, Stetson,' he tought to himself.
"Amanda, can you do me a favor?" he asked her while climbing out of his car.
"Well, hello yourself! And how are you today?" she answered with just a touch of sarcasm. He knew she thought he had the worst manners.
Lee rolled his eyes, placed his left hand on the small of her back to ger her moving toward IFF, and held out his right to pass her his set of keys.
"Good morning. How are you?" he replied smoothly.
"Fine, and you?"
"Great. Can you do me a favor?" Lee wasted no time trying to get to the point, all the while moving toward the building to make his meeting on time.
As Amanda accepted his keys, she gave a little sigh. "What do you need me to do?"
"I forgot a file on my coffee table that I'll need for a meeting at noon today. Billy's 8:30 is about to start, and I can't be late again. Can you go to my place, get the file and bring it back here?"
"What's the file look like?"
"I don't know, it's just a file folder . . . on my coffee table."
"I've seen your coffee table – if I don't know what it looks like, I may never find it."
Lee stopped in his tracks and turned to face her. He ran his hand through his hair in annoyance, but tried to keep his voice calm. After all, he did need a favor. "Look, it's the Sandusky file. That name's on it somewhere."
"If I can find it, what do you want me to do with it when I get back here?" she asked as they once again began walking toward the office.
"Just put it on my desk, it's not Top Secret or anything. I'll get it when I'm out of Billy's meeting." Lee stopped once more, giving Amanda his most charming, dimpled smile.
"Thanks, Amanda. You're a life saver!"
"Yeah . . . a life saver," she'd muttered.
That was at 8:15. From where Lee sat in the conference room, he could see his desk through the open blinds and Amanda had not yet returned. He was about to excuse himself from the meeting to make a phone call, when Billy began to wrap up.
"One final item, team. A former Agent who was arrested last year for espionage and treason, escaped custody yesterday. They were transferring David Benson to a medium security facility, and while we have no reason to think . . . "
"What?! How the hell did that happen?" Lee's outburst interrupted Billy.
"We don't have all the details, yet; but it appears he had outside help," Billy calmly responded. "Someone knew he was being transferred, and the route they would take."
"Great! Just great! We go to all that trouble to find out he's a mole and catch him, testify against him, get him locked up, and they lose him?" It was times like this that Lee wondered if they were really making any difference, or why he even bothered to care so much about his job.
"Is he armed?"
"As I was about to say, we have no reason to believe he's armed or dangerous, or that he even stayed in the DC area. Most likely he's trying to run and get out of the country. Now, we'll be watching the airports, train stations, and bus terminals – trying to cover the border crossings – but with Benson's training, it may be very difficult to re-capture him."
Lee knew what Billy said was probably true, but something about this whole thing was giving him a sick feeling. He remembered how Benson had glared at him as they took him from the hearing room in handcuffs, his sentence of 15 to 20 years in prison just pronounced. Lee was the one betrayed by a friend, yet David Benson had been the one with hatred in his eyes.
"Okay, people. That wraps it up for this morning – have a safe day." Lee was out of his chair before Billy even finished his second sentence. As he opened the door and headed into the bullpen, he called out to anyone listening, "Are there any messages for me?" No answers. When he reached his desk, he dialed the extension for the Agency's message center. "Yeah, this is Lee Stetson. Were there any calls for me? Nothing? Amanda King didn't call?"
He hung up the phone and quickly dialed his home number. After four rings, his answering machine picked up, "This is Lee Stetson. Leave a message after the tone and I'll return your call. Beep"
"Amanda? Are you there?" Lee impatiently waited a few seconds, hoping she would be there and answer the phone. "Amanda, if you're there, pick-up!"
He dropped the receiver into it's cradle. 'Dammit! Where could she be?'
It had taken Lee longer than he hoped to get into his apartment. He had to make excuses for missing the 12 o'clock meeting. Then he had to borrow a car from the motor pool, since Amanda had all his keys. Leatherneck must have been having a slow day because he certainly took his time and kept trying to draw Lee into conversation.
Then Lee had to explain to his doorman that he needed a duplicate key to his apartment, which Mr. Feller assumed was intended for one of his 'lady friends.' He, too, seemed intent on making conversation, and Lee knew his, "Later, Mr. Feller," was rude, but it wasn't the first time.
"Should have just picked the lock," he muttered to himself as he stepped into the elevator.
The first thing Lee noticed in his apartment was that the Sandusky file was gone. Amanda had been here, but where had she gone?
After a quick walk through his apartment to make sure she wasn't there somewhere, and to see if anything was out of order, Lee headed back down to the lobby.
"Mr. Feller, a friend of mine stopped by earlier today to pick-up something for me. Did you see her? She's about so tall," he gestured, "brown hair, slim . . . ?"
"Mrs. King! Yes, she said hello on her way in. What a nice lady! Although, I have to say, she certainly isn't your usual type, is she?" For a doorman, Floyd Feller certainly could get pretty personal.
"Did she say anything when she left?"
"No, not to me. But the gentleman who was here with her waved and said good-bye."
"What gentleman? What did he look like?"
"Oh, I don't know. Average height, brown hair, late 30's maybe."
"Are you sure he was with her?"
"Well, she came in alone, but he seemed to be waiting for her when she left."
"Billy! I'm telling you, she's in trouble and I need to find her!"
"I realize that, Scarecrow, but do you have any other ideas?" Billy began to count off their actions so far, "We've already got a description of her and her car out to all the local police departments. Francine has checked with the hospitals, and there's no sign of her. We haven't heard from her or anyone who knows anything about her. What else do you expect us to do?"
"A-a-g-g-h-h!" Lee's nervous habit of running his hand through his hair did little to calm him. "I don't know . . . all I know is I can't just sit here!"
"So. You're just going to go out driving the streets?" Billy's look told Lee what he thought of that idea. "Unfortunately, Scarecrow, your doorman wasn't able to give a very detailed description of the guy to our sketch artist. Without something to go on, we're at a loss here."
"So . . . what? We just wait?" As Lee moved to sit in the chair across from Billy's desk, he sounded almost resigned, "What if we don't hear anything?"
"We're bound to hear something, sooner or later."
Lee rested his elbows on his knees, then put his head in his hands.
'How the hell did this happen? It was just a damn file folder!'
They both jumped at the sound of Billy's phone ringing. "Melrose here. Amanda?" Billy's eyes met Lee's and he heard Lee's sharp intake of breath.
"Yeah, he's right here." As he handed the receiver to Lee, he mouthed the words, 'Something's wrong.'
"Amanda, where are you?"
"Lee? I . . . I'm not sure where we are right now," her voice sounded shaky, as if she had been crying.
"Amanda, who's 'we'? Who's with you?"
She was not the one who responded. Lee heard a male voice that he recognized very well. "I just wanted you to know she's alive."
"Benson," Lee stated as if to convey to Billy who it was. The muscle in his jaw twitched as he tried to control his anger before speaking. "You hurt her and there won't be anywhere for you to hide."
"She's not the one I want to hurt. She's just insurance and the ticket I need to get you to come to me."
"Yeah? Well then, you don't need her. Just tell me where you are, Benson – I'll be there."
"Not so fast. We're going to do this my way."
Benson had run Lee all over town, all afternoon. Phone call after phone call at telephone booths throughout the District, making sure he wasn't being tailed and that Lee didn't have time to set-up some kind of trap.
His last call had said they were here at his apartment. Lee stepped forward, cautiously – his body tense and his eyes darting from side to side to spot potential danger. Where was Benson? Was this just a wild goose chase, or was he hiding in another room hoping to catch Lee off guard.
As he stared down the hall toward the bedroom, the door opened. David Benson moved partially into the hallway, right hand holding a gun, his left still hidden in the bedroom.
"Hello, Scarecrow," David sounded cocky and confident. "I've been expecting you."
"Drop the gun, Benson, and come out here . . . you have nowhere to go," Lee said the words as he raised his arms and leveled his gun at Benson's head.
As David stepped further into the hallway, he flexed his left arm, dragging his captive into the open with him – Amanda! His left hand held the back of her head by a handful of hair, and she was straining backward to try and ease the pain of his grip. The barrel of his gun turned from Lee to Amanda's head.
"I don't think I have to worry about where to go," David stated. "I really think you'll let me do whatever I want, as long as I have her."
The muscle in Lee's jaw flexed as he clenched his teeth, his raw anger at Benson controlled by his concern for Amanda's safety. He had a clear shot at David's head, but knew shooting him could easily cause a reflexive action that might get Amanda hurt. His instincts were trying to quickly process the situation and find a safe way out for himself and, more importantly, for Amanda.
"Drop your gun, Lee!" David roughly ordered, while pulling Amanda closer to him and wrapping his left arm around her shoulders. He now held her tightly pinned against his body and Lee's clean head-shot was lost.
Lee carefully dropped his gun at his feet. "Kick it out of the way!"
David wasn't taking any chances. Lee gave it a gentle kick off to his left – hoping to keep it close enough in case he had an opportunity. David snorted, recognizing Lee's tactic but confident in his power over him while he held Amanda captive.
Lee took a moment to look away from David's face into Amanda's eyes. She was terrified. He'd seen Amanda in dangerous circumstances before, and her confidence in his ability to rescue her had always been visible just below the surface of her fear. But this time, she was too close to her attacker, and Lee was too far away to offer her the assurance of his presence. Lee needed her to 'connect' with him, instead of being so tuned into Benson by her fear.
"Benson, let her go! This is between you and me. You don't need her here to take me out and be on your way," Lee was stalling for time, but he also hoped the sound of his voice would get through to Amanda.
David didn't seem to hear Lee. He briefly closed his eyes, and inhaled deeply of Amanda's hair. "Ahh, Scarecrow. I couldn't believe it when both you and Amanda told me that you two are 'just business,' nothing personal." David's eyes took on a gleam.
"She's beautiful, don't you think?" His left hand came up to cup her chin and he pointed her face toward Lee. "Her fragrance . . . her softness," as he slowly caressed her cheek with his fingertips. "Have you ever kissed her, Lee?" he asked. The memory of San Angelo came unbidden to Lee's mind. The first, required kiss, followed by the second more gentle and sincere kiss – the one that wasn't necessary but he couldn't resist.
"Of course you haven't. You two are just business, right?" David was taking great pleasure in taunting him. "But I have. When we dated last year . . . some very tender good-night kisses. You really should try it some time. She's very soft, and sweet . . . " He pressed his lips to her right ear, then lightly moved down the column of her neck, never taking his eyes from Lee's. "It's like a vague memory of some long-forgotten treat. You can't quite place it, but you know you enjoy it." Again, the mocking gleam. He was successfully prodding Lee's anger.
Lee needed to take control of the situation, and he needed to connect with Amanda, somehow. He again looked from Benson to Amanda. As Benson dropped his hand from Amanda's chin, he pulled her close and began to sensuously rub his left hand up and down her shoulder. That's when Lee saw it. The spark of anger and defiance in her eyes that told him she'd had enough – she was ready, and he needed to be prepared for that split second when she would do something unexpected. He'd seen that look before.
"You know, David, I actually have kissed Amanda. And you're right, it's pretty special," Lee spoke in the hope of distracting Benson from Amanda. He knew, given a small opportunity, Amanda would act.
David's surprised look told Lee he hadn't expected that. "Well, well, well. All that talk about 'just business' was just a front, huh?" His attention turned to Lee. "I should have known you couldn't pass up a beautiful woman – reputation to maintain, and all that."
Lee now had Amanda's full attention. Suddenly her fear seemed to be gone and in her eyes he could see that her faith in him was restored. She was prepared and waiting for the right moment.
Lee needed to bait David, to anger him and catch him off guard. What better way than to stir up their old rivalry over women?
"David, that was always your problem. You think you can force yourself on women. You never could figure out when they didn't want to have anything to do with you." Now Benson was the one getting angry.
"Overly confident. Too damn sure of yourself to know when you've totally screwed up," Lee continued to press. "Women, your job . . . you just never knew at what point you became the joke. That's what got you caught and sent to jail!"
David was now totally focused on Lee. He'd turned his gun back toward him, and he was no longer paying attention to Amanda. It was the brief moment she needed. As Lee saw David's grip relax slightly, Amanda strained forward while kicking backward into his knee cap. When his arm fully released her in his surprise and pain, she lunged toward the living room, falling to the floor.
That was all the time Lee needed. He sprang forward into Benson, grabbing his right arm and slamming it against the wall again and again until the gun fell from his hand. Lee had a good three inches on Benson's height, but David was no lightweight. Lee pulled back with his right hand, preparing to swing, then barely had time to duck as Benson's left fist grazed his jaw. Benson lunged forward, swinging with his right but unable to make contact as Lee blocked with his left arm, then immediately followed through with his right.
David leaned heavily against the wall, dazed, and Lee used the opportunity to take a breath. When he lowered his arms, he felt disappointment – his victory bittersweet. He had hoped to battle longer, enraged at the sight of Amanda in Benson's arms.
As he turned away from Benson, seeking out Amanda, he saw movement out of the corner of his eye. Turning suddenly, he was surprised to see that Benson had recovered so quickly. A right hook caught Lee totally off-guard. The blow took him by surprise more than it actually hurt, but it was enough to knock him to the ground. Benson quickly retrieved his gun from where it had fallen near his feet and took aim at Lee.
As he lay on the floor, staring up at David and the barrel of his gun, Lee saw him smirk and knew he would not hesitate. For a brief second Lee's thoughts turned to Amanda – he hoped she had run out of the apartment to safety. As he watched Benson's eyes narrow, Lee held his breath, waiting for the inevitable. He heard the gun shot, then another, and another.
His head turned quickly to his left as he realized he wasn't the one who was shot – David was falling to the floor, a surprised look on his face and blood spreading from his right shoulder.
Lee scrambled to his feet when he saw Amanda, her eyes wide and her breath coming in gasps, advancing toward David. As Benson lay on the floor in pain and shock, Amanda stood over him, both hands clutching Lee's gun aimed at his head.
"Amanda," Lee moved quickly to her side. He gently reached for her hands, covering them. "Amanda, please . . . give me the gun."
She turned toward Lee, her hands trembling, but her face showing no emotion. Although she was looking right at him, he couldn't tell if she actually saw him. "Amanda, give me the gun. It's over," he crooned softly as he slowly removed the gun from her grip.
As she released the gun he saw anger flash in her eyes, followed by confusion, then finally recognition. Lee pulled her to him, fragile and shaking. He held her close as he pointed the gun at David Benson, willing him to try something. Benson let his head fall back to the floor, defeat accepted.
Still clutching Amanda, Lee backed toward the phone and called the Agency. "Billy, I've found Amanda. I need EMS and a cleanup crew."
"Lee, what's going on?" Billy Melrose sounded tense and concerned. "Where are you?"
"We're at my apartment. Just get over here with a cleanup crew and I'll explain everything." Lee wanted to get this over with so he could take the time to really comfort Amanda.
As the EMS team wheeled Benson to the ambulance on a stretcher, Amanda sat on Lee's couch staring, unseeing, out the window at the streetlight. Lee couldn't take his eyes off her, and he was answering Billy's questions automatically, without much thought. He wanted to get through this part of it so he could sit with Amanda, pull her to him and hold her close – he needed that comfort as much as she did.
"Lee, you know we'll need to get a statement from Amanda." This comment from Billy got through to Lee. He turned to meet Billy's gaze.
"Can it wait until tomorrow?" Lee asked, already knowing the answer.
"Look, Scarecrow, there was a shooting here . . . justified . . . but still a shooting that needs to be explained. With Amanda's status as 'agent in training,' I think we'll be alright on legal grounds, but she's going to have to tell her side of it," Billy voice rose in frustration as he ended his sentence.
"A-h-h-h-h!" Lee impatiently ran his fingers through his hair. "Are we through here?" Lee questioned, anxious to be near Amanda.
"For now," was Billy's reply.
As he walked toward the couch, Francine looked up at him from her spot sitting next to Amanda. He had one question in his eyes, 'Is she alright?'
Francine shook her head slightly, released Amanda's hand with a slight murmur to her and relinquished her spot to Lee.
As soon as he sat next to her, Amanda leaned into him, wrapping her arms around his waist and resting her head on his shoulder. He embraced her and held on as tightly as he could without hurting her. She still wasn't crying, and that worried him. She seemed to be in shock and he wished she could release the emotions that must be warring within her.
"Lee .. ?" spoken so softly he barely heard her whisper.
"Hmmm. . . ?"
"I . . . I thought . . . I wanted to . . . kill him." Her words were muffled as she spoke with her face buried against his chest. "How could I ever feel like that?" Her question was pleading. He knew she struggled with the idea of feeling that much hatred for someone, anyone.
All he could do was pull her closer to his chest, whispering meaningless, comforting words, "It's all right, Amanda. It's over and he can't hurt you again."
He wished that he had been the one to retrieve his gun. Lee had no problem with the hatred he felt for Benson. He likely would have killed rather than just wounded him, and that thought didn't bother him at all.
"Lee, we need to get started." Billy seemed hesitant to interrupt. Lee's glare told him he wanted this postponed.
"Now. And Amanda needs to do this on her own." That was Billy's not-so-subtle way of telling Lee he needed to release Amanda and move away from her during the questioning.
Lee reluctantly stood to move across the room and lean against a wall where he still had full view of Amanda, so small and vulnerable on his couch. He knew she needed to do this on her own without relying on him. Finding her own strength would begin her recovery.
Billy sat on the coffee table across from her and began the questioning.
"As he had me pressed against him . . . as he . . . kissed my neck," Amanda struggled with her memories. An hour into her questioning, she was feeling the strain of recalling the events of the day. "I could feel him . . . his . . . " Amanda faltered, her face reddening as she recalled what had happened – embarrassed that she had to tell others. She closed her eyes and swallowed hard, then tried again, "I could feel him, against my . . . hip," she gestured with her right hand to indicate where she could still feel his erection pressed against her. She lowered her head, too anguished to meet their eyes and willing this to be over quickly.
"Oh, God," Lee closed his eyes briefly against the sick churning in his stomach. He hadn't known about this, but realized that must have been the moment he'd seen the spark in her eye. The realization did nothing to calm the bile that threatened to rise in his throat. He quickly pushed himself away from the wall, intent on being at Amanda's side.
"Scarecrow!" Billy yelled, stopping Lee short.
"Dammit, Billy! The sick son-of-a- . . . " Lee caught himself and glanced at Amanda's bowed head as she seemed intent on studying her own hands. "He enjoyed tormenting her," he continued in a low voice.
"She needs to get through this – on her own. You know that as well as I do!" Billy took a breath, then continued in a calmer voice. "The sooner she finishes telling her story; the sooner she can get past this." Lee studied Billy intently for a moment. His emotions were raw, and his self-control was near the breaking point – but he knew Billy was right.
Lee looked helplessly at Amanda as she raised her head, tears finally spilling slowly and silently from her eyes. "Lee, it's . . . I'm alright." She took a deep breath and, using both hands, wiped the tears from her cheeks. "I'll be okay." She then took in another calming breath before continuing.
"Lee said something to David, I think he was trying to keep him talking, or distract him . . . something. As I felt David's grip loosen I knew I might never get another chance." Amanda stopped, trying to organize the thoughts she had at the time. "The self defense classes I'd taken said, 'Go for the eyes, the groin or the knee caps.' I thought my best opportunity was to try and kick his knee cap, so that's what I did. I think it mostly gave me the forward momentum I needed to fall to the floor."
Lee's thoughts went back to that moment. 'You were great, Amanda. You fought back – good for you!' Although he wouldn't say the words aloud, especially not in front of Billy and Francine, Lee couldn't help but be proud of her for fighting not to be a victim.
"Anyway, that gave Lee the chance he needed to fight with David – get his gun away from him and try to help me." Amanda again hesitated, as if she was unsure what to say next. She licked her lips, then continued.
"I saw David hit Lee and he fell to the floor. That's when I saw Lee's gun by my feet. When David aimed at Lee, I just picked up the gun and started firing . . . I don't even really remember aiming – just pulling the trigger," Amanda's voice faded, and Lee recalled her actions. She'd walked toward Benson, stood over him while he lay helpless and bleeding on the floor. She had aimed at his head . . .
Lee knew Amanda didn't want to face what she felt at that moment, and he needed to do something to encourage her. "Amanda, you're doing great. It's almost over," he tried to reassure her. Her brown eyes met his hazel ones, and the look she gave him was filled with so much pain.
As she continued to look directly at Lee, all her emotions playing across her features, she tried to finish. "I . . . I walked toward . . . him with . . . Lee's . . . gun . . . " she was now sobbing between her words. That was it, Lee could watch no more. Once again he pushed away from the wall.
"Scarecrow!" Billy yelled again, this time to no avail.
As he sat beside her, Lee pulled Amanda to him. "Look, Billy! Benson and I fought, Amanda found my gun and shot him, then I took the gun from her . . . okay?"
That was as much as Lee would allow, and it was as close to the truth as they needed. No one had to know exactly what was said between David Benson and Lee – what words were used to provoke the Scarecrow, or what words were used to cause Benson to loosen his grip on Amanda. Lee still didn't know for sure everything Amanda felt while she held his gun, but he had his suspicions. As far as he was concerned, enough of the story was told to declare this a justified shooting, and move on.
As Billy, Francine and the cleanup team prepared to leave the apartment, Lee still held Amanda. Her sobbing had subsided and he realized that exhaustion was her next step.
"Lee, I'll see you at the office tomorrow," Billy said as a farewell greeting. Lee glanced up, nodded, then returned his attention to Amanda as the front door closed, finally leaving them alone.
He was content to hold her in silence, for as long as she wanted – hours, days if necessary.
She spoke too soon to suit him. "Lee?"
"I'm so tired." Her voice barely a whisper.
"I know," he soothed. He moved his right arm to reach beneath her legs and began to lift her as he rose from the couch.
"No, Lee . . . " Amanda tried to protest.
"S-h-h-h-h, Amanda. It's alright. Get some sleep, and when you wake up, I'll drive you home." She relented and Lee carried her to his bedroom. As he gently laid her on his bed, her arms remained around his neck and he sat on the edge.
"Lee . . . thank-you," she murmured, already drifting off to sleep.
"For what?" he smiled slightly at the look of her half-closed eyes and her hair spread across his pillow.
"'For what?' he asks" she gently chided. "For rescuing me . . . and for everything after that." She pulled him to her and kissed his cheek, ever so softly. She then released him, sighed and immediately fell asleep.
As Lee stood looking at her sleeping in his bed, he still couldn't quite figure out his feelings for Amanda. All he knew was that she was safe and here with him – that was enough, for now.
-- The End --