Lee walked in. Amanda smiled at him. "Good morning. I'm almost finished here and then you can have your desk back."
"Oh, no hurry. Amanda, about tonight. Is there any way we could postpone it?" Lee asked. Amanda stopped typing and looked at Lee.
"Of course. Is something wrong?" Amanda asked.
"An old friend is in town and I promised that we would get together. She's only here for the night. Besides, I know how much you hate those embassy things," Lee said. Amanda looked down at her hands. She tried to get them to type, but she seemed to have no control over them.
"It's okay. Embassy parties are not my favorite. And it's not like we are dating or anything.... And I wouldn't want you to back out on a promise. Besides, I have an old friend coming in to town for the weekend. We were going to get together tomorrow, but I'm sure he wouldn't mind changing that,." Amanda said, trying to keep the disappointment out of her voice. It wasn't working.
"Good. There won't be any problems then... Ah, What kind of old friend?" Lee asked, curiously.
"You know, the old kind," Amanda said evasively, going back to her typing, concentrating hard to make herself look calm, although she still wasn't able to type a single thing. Before Lee could respond, the telephone rang.. He shook his head and answered with a sigh.
" Hello?... Yeah, no problem. Be there in a minute." Lee hung up the phone and looked at Amanda. "Billy needs to see me. Hey, I'm sorry about tonight. I promise I will make this up to you," Lee said, walking out the door.
Amanda watched as Lee left the room, wondering how close he and 'this old friend' really were.
"You're late, Scarecrow. My office, now." Billy said, as Lee walked into the bullpen. The two of them headed into his office.
"Fieldman dropped all his files and they caused a traffic jam in the hallway. I couldn't get through unless I helped the poor guy. Why do we keep him around? Can't we stick him somewhere else?" Lee asked.
"Geez, it's too bad you already have a partner," Billy said with a grin on his face, closing the door as they entered the office.
"Cute, Billy. What's up?" Lee asked, sitting down.
"I have an assignment that needs your attention, remember Dirk Stevens? " Billy asked. "Dirk? Oh, yeah. I'll never forget him. We were on an assignment together about 6 years ago. Quite a character.... He cost me a year in Italy. The last I heard, he was working in New York," Lee said.
"Well, he's gotten himself into trouble. It seems that his partner, Brad Larson, took the encryption codes to the new missle site in Utah." Billy handed Lee a picture of Brad. " Dirk managed to get them all back. Kent Phillips, his station chief, and I go back a few years ourselves. He wants our help on this one. Word on the street is that the East Germans are interested. We know there is a scheduled drop tomorrow sometime. Brad still hasn't shown up. Kent believes he will try to get to Dirk between now and then. Dirk has the codes with him. He's not willing to give them to anyone. He thinks there are more people inside who are working with Brad. We want you to keep an eye on him until tomorrow. Kent is arriving early in the morning. You know Dirk, he's stubborn and no one wants anything to do with him... Well, Francine wouldn't mind, but she's out on assignment. You've worked with him. You know him better than any one," Billy said.
"Gee, Billy. I don't know. I've got this date tonight," Lee said. Lee didn't want to admit that he and Dirk didn't leave things on good terms. The last time they were together, they had actually come to blows. What a fight it had been! It had taken him a few days to recover from that one.
" Dirk is in the conference room. He flew in this morning." Billy said "I know you have some personal differences, but I need you on this, Scarecrow. He has worked with you and he can trust you." Lee looked at Billy. There was no arguing with his section chief. He chuckled, and walked toward the door.
"Oh, is that what he said?... All right, but I'm not happy about this." Lee walked out of the office, leaving a smiling Billy behind.
Lee walked to the conference door, almost sure he didn't want to go in. This man had been his best friend, and he had been burned by him. It was hard to let go of the past, Lee thought. But for some strange reason, he still valued this man's friendship. There was still a lot that had to be said, and Lee had tried to put the whole thing out of his mind. It had worked, until a few minutes ago.
Lee walked into the conference room. Dirk Stevens got up from the table, smiling. Lee looked dubiously his way. "What the hell." He thought. The past is in the past. Lee grinned and shook Dirk's hand..
"Of course, you would be the one watching me," Dirk said. "How have you been? It's good to see you've worked your way back to DC."
"No thanks to you." Light banter was the way to go, thought Lee. " Besides, I wouldn't let that thing with the Prime Minister's daughter get me down. Getting stuck in Italy for a year was very relaxing. Maybe you should try it sometime. Whatever happened to Rachel, anyway?" Lee asked.
" Would you believe she's married with two children?" Dirk asked. Lee opened the door and the two of them walked down the hall to the elevator. Lee looked Dirk over. He had not changed much in the last six years. Maybe a few wrinkles. No, make that quite a few. "Good," he thought.
" Speaking of children.... Rumor has it that your new partner is a housewife. Tell me it's not true!" Dirk laughed, watching Lee squirm. Dirk looked Lee over. He hadn't changed since he saw him last. A few wrinkles and no wedding ring. "Yep, the same Lee Stetson I know," Dirk thought.
"Hey, I've done worse. I had you, didn't I?" Lee smirked. "She's getting quite good at her job. She's resourceful and quick on her feet. Besides, I trust her. Which is more than I can say about you." Lee smiled at Dirk. He was just kidding, but deep inside part of that was true. He was still sore over the whole Rachel thing.
"The great Scarecrow has a partner. Who'd have thought? And a girl, no less. Well well well, it looks like this one has gotten under your skin,." Dirk said. Lee remained silent as they waited for the elevator. He was not about to discuss anything about Amanda with this guy. Dirk had quite a reputation with the women. .
"She's not your type," Lee said, stepping into the elevator.
"If she breaths, she's my type." Dirk smiled, and Lee pushed the button, quickly changing the subject. Lee separated the clothes on the rack and entered the elevator, pushing them back into place as the door closed.
"Billy tells me you are in need of a babysitter.. He also said you will not go to a safe house. What exactly DO you want?" Lee asked.
Dirk cleared his throat. "I just don't want to get stuck in a safe house. They're so impersonal. What I'd really like is to stay with some friends. They live in a quiet suburban area. I figured with a surveillance team, there shouldn't be a problem."
"Okay, why don't you give me the address and we'll have a surveillance team set up," Lee said. The elevator door opened and Lee and Dirk stepped out. Mrs. Marsdan was at her desk reading. Lee waved.
Dirk pulled out an envelope from his jacket. He looked at the address on the left side.. "It's 4247 Maplewood Drive, in Arlington." Lee looked at Dirk, not quite believing what he had just heard. "What?"
Dirk repeated it and the color in Lee's face drained. "What's wrong?" Dirk asked.
"You know my partner, the housewife we were talking about? 5'10", brown hair. Cute little nose. Can fit a whole conversation in one breath. Ring any bells?" Lee asked. Dirk stared at him in astonishment.
"You're not serious?"
Amanda was filing some last reports when the door opened. She looked up as Lee and Dirk came in. Amanda's jaw dropped when she saw Lee escorting a good looking man, 6'2", dark blond hair, white teeth, and a wicked grin. She did a double take. It WAS him.... Her old pal, Dirk Stevens.
"Hey, kiddo," Dirk said.
"Dirk!" Amanda jumped up and hugged Dirk. Lee's heart dropped to the pit of his stomach. Just how well did they know each other? "Four years has been such a long time."
"I've missed you too, Panda. I'm sorry to hear about the divorce. I know that must have been hard on you," Dirk said, leaving one arm around Amanda. Lee glared at Dirk. Dirk smiled at Lee and then turned his attentions back to Amanda. Lee had the irresistible urge to take his pistol and shoot the arm off himself, but taking a deep breath and slowly exhaling, he fought it.
Lee stepped back, watching the two of them. What kind of history was between them? And the way Dirk was touching her was surprising. Why was this bothering him? He thought. It's not as if they are... Well, they aren't.
"Oh, come on. You never cared for Joe. You've told me that many times, but thank you. We weren't supposed to see you until tomorrow night. What are you doing here? I can only assume that you have something to do with the Agency." Amanda asked.
"I might ask you the same thing... Little Panda, a spy! I was floored when Lee told me you were upstairs. How in the world did you get mixed up in the spy business?" Amanda looked at Lee and smiled, who smiled in return. Dirk watched the two of them. They acted as if they shared a secret..
"You know, being at the right place at the right time. Long story. What about you, Dirk?" Amanda asked, turning her attentions back to Dirk. Lee found himself wishing she would look back at him.
" I'm with an affiliate based in New York." Dirk turned to Lee "Your partner and I go way back." Lee was having a difficult time speaking. Back to business, he thought. I'm in more control that way. Lee cleared his throat and looked at Amanda.
"Ah... Amanda, he is here on government business. He has some missile codes that the East Germans want. We need a place to stash him for the night. The Agency allowed him to pick a place to stay and he recommended your house. If that is any kind of imposition, we can find another place that will be more suitable," Lee said. He was sure that Amanda would say no. So many times before she had never agreed when it involved the Agency.
"Fine," Amanda said.
"What?" Lee asked, not sure he heard that right.
"I said that would be fine. I have nothing to do tonight anyway, remember? Besides, mother will be thrilled," Amanda said. Dirk put his arm on Amanda's shoulders.. Lee looked a little unnerved. If he had kept their date, would she be as eager to help out Dirk, he asked himself..
"Well, I'm sure I can find....." Lee started.
" We'll be fine. It'll be like old times. I will be in the best hands... Amanda and Dotty take very good care of me when I'm in town," Dirk said, playing with a piece of Amanda's hair. Amanda looked over at Lee. His jaw was clenched and his face was scarlet red. He did as best as he could to NOT get his gun. Amanda could see that Lee very uncomfortable with Dirk's affections. She knew she needed to explain a few things, if only for her sake.
Dirk noticed Lee, as well. Something's up with this guy, Dirk thought. This is not normal for Lee.
"Dirk and I grew up together. He lived next door for most of my childhood. He'd hang around so much that he almost became a part of the upholstery,." Amanda explained.
"Yea, Panda here, had a huge crush on me all throughout high school," Dirk said, trying to embarrass Amanda. But it was Lee that looked uncomfortable. He was down right irate. Dirk couldn't help but laugh. Love had bit good old Lee in the butt and he had no clue!
"I did not... Dirk is very close to mother...he could finagle anything out of her. He'd give her his puppy dog eyes and she'd melt," Amanda said. Dirk smiled and hugged Amanda again. All this touchy feely stuff is getting old, Lee thought. Time to get back to business.
"Yeah... Well... We're going to put up a surveillance team around your house, so everything will be fine. I'll check in before I head to the Embassy. " Lee went to his desk and pulled out two tickets from the top drawer and stuffed them into his breast pocket of his jacket.
"Are you sure that will be safe enough?" Amanda asked.
"I'm sure that will be fine. No one would think to look for him in suburbia. Besides, Dirk can handle any situation that comes up." Lee walked around the office, putting last minute things away to do tomorrow. He wasn't going to be able to concentrate anymore today. Not with Dirk being here.
"Aren't you going to be there? " Amanda asked.
"No, I have a prior engagement, remember?" Lee reminded her Amanda looked down, trying not to show her disappointment. She didn't realize how much she had been looking forward to going with him.
"Well, I just thought that, maybe, you were... Isn't Dirk your assignment?" Amanda asked.
"Yea, but... I think he can handle it." Lee replied. Dirk patted him on the back.
"Must be a hot date. That's the only thing that would distract good old Lee from doing his job. Tell me, is she blond or brunette?" Dirk asked. Lee glimpsed at Amanda, who was watching his reaction to the question.
"Later, okay?" Lee said, giving Dirk a dirty look.
"That's my Lee. He's always got a hot date and he's always so modest about it," said Dirk teasingly.
"That was six years ago," Lee said, grabbing his keys. "Are you ready to go? I want to make sure you make it there safely."
"Great. On the way there, you can tell me all about her." Then whispering to Amanda, "Don't worry. I'll fill you in later."
Lee avoided eye contact with Amanda as they left the office. Amanda grabbed her keys, silently agreeing to take Dirk up on his offer later that night.
Dotty was so pleased to see Dirk. It had been four years and she had so much to fill him in on. Dirk smiled at Amanda while Dotty babbled on. He never realized how much of that he missed. He had always envied Amanda of her relationship with her mother. Dotty was one of a kind. This was nice, he thought. Being with a family again. His mom died when he was young, and his dad was always working. He had become part of the West family. He had been invited to family outings, special occasions, and even Christmas.
"...And then Amanda met the Princess. Penelope was her name. She was such a wonderful person. I have never known royalty to be so nice before," Dotty said. Amanda stopped her mother.
"That's because you don't know any other royalty, Mother." Amanda said. Dotty shrugged her shoulder. Amanda smiled at Dirk.
"Well, you never know, now do you? Look at me. I've talked up a storm. I'm sure you two have so much to catch up on. I just can't believe you are here. Why don't I go start dinner and we can stay up talking all night." Dotty said.
"As much as I love listening to you talk, I have to get an early start tomorrow. But, how about I take you all to dinner tomorrow, if my business goes well?" Dirk said.
"That's sounds wonderful, dear. Well, I'm going to get started. You know, I'll make your favorite. Pot Roast, right? Just like Amanda. " Dotty nearly bounced into the kitchen. Amanda simply shook her head and smiled.
Dirk had waited all evening to interrogate Amanda about Lee. On the drive over, Lee had been very silent, almost completely ignoring Dirk. He had hoped their camaraderie had returned, but he was wrong. He'd seen this side of Lee before. It usually involved a girl. When they arrived at the house, Lee had given him an angry look and said, "I can pull you out of here so fast, you won't know what happened to you. Don't make me do it." And some time after he'd been dropped off, Dirk remembered seeing Lee's shadow watching them from outside That was a little above and beyond the call of duty, even for Lee.
"So, tell me about you and Lee... " Dirk watched Amanda readjust how she was sitting, and glare at him. " Don't give me that look. I know something is up." Dirk asked. Amanda sat back and took a breath. Lee was such a mystery to her that she had no idea where to began.
"We're just partners. We work very closely together and that is it," Amanda said, looking into the kitchen, not wanting to have this conversation. "And keep it down, Mother knows nothing about him."
"I got the feeling that you two weren't as chummy as you let on. What was that about?" Amanda asked. Dirk scooted a little closer so Dotty couldn't hear.
"Six years ago, we were stationed in London. Very beautiful place. Lee and I were having a great time. We were assigned to help MI6 for a few months. Then we met Rachel. She was the Prime Minister's daughter. I could tell right away Lee was interested. So was I. She was beautiful. She had brown hair, dark brown eyes that spoke volumes by themselves. We sort of competed, actually, for her attentions. Lee would send flowers, I would send flowers and candy. Lee would take her to dinner, I would do dinner and a movie.
"Finally, one night, we were at a party for her father, and Lee and Rachel were dancing. I knew Lee would eventually tire of her and I wanted to tell her how I felt, so I cut in. We went for a walk. I really can't go into too much detail because it's classified, but something happened, and we were taken captive. I managed to get word to Lee that next morning. He found us. He saved the day, really. You know how Lee is. But Lee's picture ended up all over the news. It was considered an embarrassment to England's covert operations.. Rachel's father was not happy with it. He was grateful because Lee had saved his daughter's life, but he wanted to use Lee as an example for other foreign agents. He was demoted and sent to Italy for a year. I felt terrible about it, but there was nothing I could do. I was sent home right after that, which was fine, really. Things were different with Rachel after that. I saw Lee right before I left. That didn't go well.... I made a terrible mess of everything and I lost a good friend," Dirk said. Amanda touched Dirk's cheek with her hand. He looked really upset about it.
"Have you told this to him? I think it might help if you di,." Amanda said.
"After the way he's been acting with you? I think it would make it worse."
"What do you mean?" Amanda asked.
"If I even talk to you, he goes crazy with jealousy. No, not now... I wouldn't want to start the whole Rachel thing over again.. He cares about you, you know," Dirk said. Amanda stared at him in disbelief.
"We're just partners, that's all,." Amanda said, looking down at her hands. She couldn't look at Dirk. Her eyes would give away her true feelings about Lee. She wished with all of her heart that what he said was true.
" Well, it looks like a bit more than that to me," Dirk said. Amanda lightly punched him in the shoulder. He always managed to bring the playfulness in her.
"Well, then you should get your eyes checked,." She retorted.
"No, really. I know how Lee acts when he's jealous.. He's not the type to settle down. I just don't want to see you get caught in his snare," Dirk replied.
" Dirk, he's changed a lot since then. He really hasn't seen anyone steadily for about three months. Besides, there isn't anyone I trust more that Lee Stetson. He has saved my life more times than I can count. There is nothing to be worried about .... We have a working relationship, nothing else." Amanda said, looking up at Dirk. Her eyes told him that she didn't believe it any more than he did. Dirk had this way of reading her thoughts. Dirk patted her hands.
" Just promise me you'll be careful. I've seen Lee go through many girls and I really don't want to see you get hurt. I know you too well,." Dirk said.
"Look who's talking, Romeo.... Don't worry, Dirk. I'm not his type," Amanda said with a little bit of sarcasm.
Dirk reached over and kissed her cheek. "Well, then Lee is a bigger fool than I thought."
Lee was driving by to check on Amanda and Dirk. He had stayed for a little while to make sure things were going okay. Dirk had noticed him so he figured it time to high tail it out of there before Amanda caught him, too. As Lee turned the corner, he noticed a car in front of the house that he didn't recognize. He looked closely at the man in the car. The man matched the photo Billy gave him of Brad Larson, Dirk's partner. Brad noticed Lee immediately and took out his gun and pointed it towards Lee's car. He shot out a tire and then sped off. Lee got out of his car and checked it while an agent took off in another care. Another agent climbed down from the telephone pole and quickly came over to make sure Lee was all right.
"Didn't you see him?" Lee bellowed, annoyed that these agents were not doing the job they were supposed to do.
"Sorry. He came from the house next door. We just assumed he lived there," the agent said.
"In this business, you don't assume anything. Keep an eye on the house. I'm taking Dirk out of here, but I want the family protected." Lee headed for the back yard, as the Agent walked over to the van disguised as a telephone truck, to inform Billy of what was happening and the changes that were being made.
Lee walked around the back of the house. He was kind of relieved because he was worried about Dirk staying the night. Safety reasons, of course, he told himself. It definitely had nothing to do with Amanda and how he felt about Dirk being there with her. Nothing at all.
Amanda was just finishing setting the table when there was a quiet knock on the window. She turned around to see Lee, pointing to the back yard. Amanda nodded and stepped into the kitchen.
Amanda eyed Dirk, who was helping Dotty with dinner.
"Dirk, have you seen Mother's flower garden? It is quite beautiful. Come and take a look," Amanda said. Dirk nodded. He swiped a carrot from the pot on the stove. Dotty smacked his hand.
"Sure, that would be great. But then, anything Dotty touches is beautiful," Dirk said, kissing Dotty on the cheek as he walked past her.
"If only I were 30 years younger," Dotty said, fanning her face with an oven mitt. Dirk winked at her as they headed out the door.
Lee watched as Amanda and Dirk came outside. Dirk was looking much too comfortable for Lee's taste and his effect on Dotty was not helping matters, either.
"What's up?" Dirk asked.
"I just came to check on you when I saw Brad Larson parked out front. I don't think it's a good idea that you stay here anymore. I don't want Amanda and her family in danger," Lee said.
"You're right. The last thing I want to do is endanger the family. Do you have any other ideas?" Dirk asked.
"I don't... Why don't you come to the embassy party? That way, I can keep an eye on you and there is plenty of security at those things," Lee said. Besides, he thought, Amanda will be here and Dirk will be there.
"Without a date? I don't think so. I have a reputation to uphold.... You know, I will go. Only if Amanda comes with me," Dirk said.
"I don't know, " Lee said.
"Why not? You said so yourself that she is getting quite good at her job," Dirk said. Lee looked at Amanda. She wore a pleading smile.
"You did ask me to go the the embassy party. You'll be keeping your word to me. I'll just be going with someone else." Amanda said. Besides, she thought, I can meet Lee's 'friend'.
"But you hate those things," Lee said.
"It's a sacrifice I'm willing to make," Amanda mimicked. Lee sighed in defeat.
"It looks like I don't have a choice. Alright, you can go. Just save me a dance, okay?" Lee asked, with a twinkle in his eye. Amanda smiled and hurried inside.. Tonight is going to be a very long night, Lee thought to himself.
Lee had left to change his tire and pick up his date. Dirk and Amanda drove in her car. Amanda felt guilty running out on Dotty before dinner, but was guaranteed that dinner would be waiting in the refrigerator for a late night snack when they got home. Amanda used the same excuse she was using before - A premier for their newest documentary. Dotty secretly couldn't wait until Dirk got back so she could REALLY find out where they were going. Amanda's stories left a lot to be desired..
The Embassy was bustling with people. They were all dressed in their finest. The room glowed with soft lights from the chandeliers. Amanda was dressed in a red strapless gown with a small beaded jacket that accentuated her features. Her hair was left down, with as jeweled clasp holding up both sides. Dirk led her through the crowd. Brad Larson, also attending the party, watched them from a distance.
They spotted Lee and his date, and went to join them. Lee saw them coming, and watched Amanda closely. He had never seen her look more beautiful. He also noticed how Dirk had his arm on her shoulder very possessively. That made him very upset inside, for some strange reason. It must be something he ate, he thought. Lee smiled at them and then introduced his date.
"This is Marni. She's a news correspondent, just got back from West Germany. This is Amanda King, my secretary and Dirk Stevens, an associate from New York." Lee introduced her to his friends.
"Nice to meet you," Amanda said. Marni smiled. The two of them shook hands.
"It's nice to meet you. I'm only here for the night, and Lee invited me here so we could spend some time together. I was expecting a quiet night, just the two of us, and he brings me to this wonderful party. It's not very often that I get to dress up anymore. Being out in the field doesn't present itself with these kind of options," Marni said. Amanda just smiled as Lee put his arm around Marni. Amanda was trying her hardest look pleasant, although her heart was being crushed. Dirk took Marni's hand and kissed it.
"Marni, what a beautiful name. West Germany, a fascinating place. I was there a year ago. Loved every minute if it. What is a beautiful woman like you doing as a news correspondent?" Dirk asked. Marni blushed and Amanda rolled her eyes. What a line!
"It's fun, exciting, and I love to travel," Marni said. Lee stepped in between Dirk and Marnie. Amanda's heart dropped into her stomach. She was envious of the affections Lee was showing her.
"Watch out for this guy. He's very smooth.... Shall we?" Lee said. He took Marnie's arm and guided her to the dance floor. Amanda looked over Marni. She had long auburn hair and wore a navy blue gown. The blue seemed to make her hair almost a fiery red. Very beautiful, Amanda thought.
"She's very pretty." Amanda said. Dirk took her hand. And the two of them started walking towards the dance floor.
"Yea, she is, but you are beautiful." Dirk said.. Amanda smiled and Dirk pulled her into his arms. Brad watched them from the other side of the room.
They danced for what seemed like an hour. Dirk is a very good dancer, Amanda thought. She looked over to Lee and Marni. They, too, were having a great time. She wondered what it would be like to dance with Lee. Lee glanced over to Amanda and she looked away, embarrassed. It was like getting caught with your hand in the cookie jar.. This was much harder than she had thought. She had wanted to know what his friend looked like, but to actually watch them together was very hard. They moved so gracefully together.
"Just partners, huh?" Dirk said, teasing, getting Amanda's attention.
"I don't know what you mean," Amanda said, stumbling over Dirk's foot. She grimaced and Dirk just laughed.
"Don't give me that. I can read it all over your face. Don't worry, she's only here for the night." Amanda looked over in Lee's direction. Dirk was right, of course. Tomorrow, she would be gone. Lee was holding Marni close and whispering into her ear. She sighed. Tomorrow seems like forever, she thought.
Feeling bad for Amanda, Dirk decided two could play at that game. He started doing a little whispering himself. Lee noticed right away. Lee moved closer and closer, trying to overhear anything he could.. He glared at Dirk and started clenching his jaw. Dirk smiled. He loved getting Lee all riled up.
Across the room, Brad Larson watched Dirk and Amanda dancing. He motioned to another man where Dirk was. Trent, the other man, watched them from the other side of the room, checking his watch, waiting for the perfect time to put their plan into action. Dirk noticed Brad from the corner of his eye and stopped dancing.
"Amanda, let's go outside for some fresh air, all right?" Amanda nodded and the two of them went out. Brad watched as the two of them left the room.
Once outside, Dirk put his arm around Amanda. He held her very close. Lee excused himself when he saw the two of them step out on the terrace, leaving Marnie to fend for herself. He stayed by the window to watch, for security, he told himself.... He was almost sure Dirk was making a move on her. He had to know for sure.
"Amanda, I need your help. I want you to hold on to the missile codes for me. Brad Larson is here. I know he is going to try something tonight. I can't think of anyone I trust more than you to hold these.. Can you keep them for me?" Dirk asked, keeping her close so no one would see the papers he was giving to her.
"What about Lee?" Amanda asked.
"I think they would be safer with you. Brad probably knows who Lee is. And remember, there might be other agents involved in this," Dirk said.
"You can't think Lee would ever... " Amanda objected.
"No, it's not that. Lee took the fall for something I did. I don't want him to get caught in this, too. Just keep them until tomorrow, and give them to my supervisor, Kent Phillips, if anything happens to me. You've always been there for me Panda, I know you will do this for me. It's just as a precaution, okay?" Dirk's eyes pleaded with her. They reminded her so much of another agent's eye 2 « years ago. She just couldn't help herself.
"Okay, but promise me you will be careful," Amanda said, as she took the papers and put them into her purse. Dirk kissed her cheek and the two of them went inside. Lee stepped back from the window before the two of them realized he was watching them and went to find his date.
Dirk caught up with Lee, who had returned and was now dancing with Marni. He motioned for Lee to follow him. Lee told the girls to get something to eat and then excused themselves and went to the restroom. Once there, they locked the door from the inside and checked all the stalls.
"Larson is here. I saw him earlier," Dirk said.
"Are you sure?" Lee asked.
"Yea, it was him."
"Okay, stay in the crowd. Crowds mean safety. No more going out on the terrace with Amanda I'll keep an eye out for him. I'll let the other agents know he's here," Lee said. He looked down and then back at Dirk.
"How are things going with Amanda," Lee tried to ask nonchalantly. It didn't work.. Dirk caught on right away.
"Cozy," Dirk replied nonchalantly.
"Cozy?" Lee's voice cracked, so he cleared his throat to get it under control. " What do you mean, cozy?" Lee asked. His eyes looked hard at Dirk, trying to stare him down enough to get him to explained what he meant.. Dirk grinned. He was enjoying this too much!
"As cozy as two people can get," Dirk smugly folded his arms, looking into the mirror.
'Listen, you just lay off Amanda. You two may be old friends, but I'm her partner and the last thing she needs is to get mixed up with is you," Lee ordered. Lee was very protective of Amanda. Why? He was beginning to realize his feelings for Amanda were getting stronger and that scared the hell out of him.
"Gee, I was thinking the exact same thing about you," said Dirk.
Lee became irate. "You haven't changed at all. You still have no conscience when it comes to people's feelings or their safety," Lee seethed.
"Well, I don't believe it! You've got it bad for Amanda!" Dirk squealed.
"I don't know what you are talking about," Lee said. He had to change the subject quick. He wasn't thinking straight. Dirk was mixing up his emotions. Emotions he wasn't ready to confront.
"Oh, I think you do. I never thought you'd get caught again, and here you are, standing in front of me, in love with our Amanda!" Dirk said, patting Lee on the back. Lee stepped back, trying to put some space in between them.
"You don't know what you're talking about," said Lee, trying to calm down. "I just want you to back off a bit. She's not the kind of girl you are used to. She's sweet, innocent, caring..."
"Sounds like love to me," Dirk said smugly.
"Oh, shut up." Lee took a deep breath and fixed his tie in the mirror He was finished with this little conversation. "Just be careful. This isn't a game. I don't want Amanda getting hurt. I don't want history to repeat itself."
Dirk nodded and the two of them went exited the bathroom. Amanda and Marni were waiting for them as they entered the room. Dirk was dying to dance with Marni. He figured Amanda and his old friend wouldn't mind that at all.
"Marni, Lee has been telling me that you are a great dancer. Care to give it a whirl?" Dirk asked. Marni smiled. She winked at Lee and glided over to Dirk.
Marni smiled and said, "Sure, if you can keep up." She took Dirk's hand and the two of them started dancing. Amanda looked down at her purse, not sure what to do now. Maybe I should tell him I have the codes, Amanda thought. Lee, thinking she was falling for Dirk, decided it was time for them to have a talk..
"I need some fresh air. Care to walk with me?" Lee asked. He wanted to find out what exactly was going on with her and Dirk. Amanda smiled, took his arm, and they strolled out to the terrace. There was a cool breeze that seemed to pick a few curls from Amanda's hair and play with them. Lee found himself envying the wind. He shook his head, trying to clear his thoughts.
"How are you doing?" Lee asked.
"We're having a great time." Amanda said, looking out to the garden. It was a beautiful night and Lee looked great in his tux.
"I'm sorry about how things turned out." Lee said, catching a whiff of Amanda's perfume. He found himself wishing he could get closer, but decided it wouldn't be a good idea.
"Oh, don't worry about it. It's been fun to spend some time with Dirk." Amanda said. Lee's tie was off a bit. She straightened it out, and then touched his chest before bringing her hand completely down. She looked up at Lee's eyes. The moon light brought out an ethereal glow in them. A person could really get lost in them She shook her head, trying to clear her thoughts.
"Your friend is very nice. How long have you known her?" Amanda asked, looking across at a beautiful fountain in front of the embassy.
"We've known each other for about three years. She's always working abroad so I really don't see her that often. I guess that's why I felt obligated to spend some time with her." Lee looked out to the fountain, as well.
"You know, Amanda, I know you and Dirk go way back, but Dirk has made quite a reputation for himself these past few years. I don't think you are aware of how he is now, especially with women..." Lee said. He looked into the window and could see them laughing and dancing.
Amanda smiled. Jealousy was starting to creep into his voice. "That's funny. He said the same thing about you," She said. His attention shot back to her, wondering what Dirk has been telling her. "Lee, you don't have to tell me. I know all about Dirk. "
" I really don't want to see you get mixed up with him. He's used to a good time and fast women... You're not the type of girl he's usually interested in..." Lee started.
"What type of girl are you referring to?" Amanda looked at Lee, her mood changing. Lee realized he had said the wrong thing. He put his hand through his hair and sighed. What WAS he trying to say.?
"You know, single, non-committal, the free-going type. You're more the responsible, dependable, motherly type," Lee said, realizing what he had said was making things worse.
"You make me sound like I'm 55," Amanda retorted. She shifted her weight and looked Lee squarely in the face. She knew she was a bit conservative but that last description rubbed her the wrong way.
"That's not what I mean," Lee said. Lee would be the last person to say she was old, especially the way she looked tonight. Self control was made for nights like these, he thought.
"Oh, I think I know exactly what you mean. I'm good old Amanda, always playing it safe Amanda. I'm the motherly type all right. I wake up in the morning in curlers, spend two hours to look presentable and then clean house all day, just in time to play mommy and head to bed at 8:30. I'm not 55," Amanda fumed. "You think Free! You want free? I can be as free and the next girl!." She stepped up to Lee and kissed him good and hard on the lips. Before Lee knew what was happening, Amanda pulled away.. "What had just happened?" Lee asked himself. This was so unlike Amanda. That was the last thing he expected from her. He looked in her face and saw so much anger there. He was hoping for something a little different.
"I may not be as free-spirited as your friend in there, but I'm not dead, either! Dirk knows that. When are you going to realize that?" Forgetting about telling Lee about the the codes, Amanda turned and left a stunned Lee standing by himself on the terrace.
Amanda walked inside so fast that she passed Brad Larson, not even noticing him. What had she done? What in the world was she thinking? She had never kissed a man like that. And it wasn't even a real kiss. It was more like a slap in the face. He just infuriated her so much. As she started to calm down, she realized it had been a stupid thing to do. How could she ever face him again?
Brad motioned to his associate that it was time. Amanda was walking toward the restroom, when Brad grabbed her, put his hand over her mouth, and dragged her into the closet. She tried kicking out of his arms, but the dress was so tight fitting, making it difficult to kick free..
Dirk and Marni finished their dance. They were getting along splendidly. They almost hated to go back to their dates, but they went looking for Amanda and Lee anyway. Lee was just coming inside, when they met up.
"Where's Amanda?" Lee asked.
"Wasn't she with you?" Dirk asked.
"Yea, but... we got separated." Lee looked around. He had waited a few minutes before coming in. He wasn't sure what exactly to say. The kiss had been short, but it had awaken something in him that he didn't know was there. Maybe Dirk was right. Maybe he was in love. He looked around again. He couldn't find her anywhere.
"Maybe she's in the ladies' room," Marni said. "If you'd like, I can go check."
"That would be great." Marni excused herself and left. Dirk took a good look at Lee, and he assumed something happened out there.
A waiter brought a note to Dirk. "Someone told me to give this to you." The waiter said. Dirk and Lee opened it up. It read: BRING THE CODES TO THE FRONT GARDEN AT TEN OR THE GIRL DIES. Oh, great, thought Dirk. What have I done? Dirk's face turned white.
"They've got Amanda," Lee said. He looked over and noticed Dirk's expression. "What?"
"I did a stupid thing," Dirk said. Burying his head into his hands. Lee sighed.
"What did you do?" Lee asked.
"I gave Amanda the missile codes," Dirk said, looking at Lee. Lee got angry. He face turned red and clenched his teeth.
"You what?" he retorted.
"I saw Brad and I knew he was looking for me. I figured they would be safe with Amanda," Dirk said.
"Oh, I can't believe you did it again! You involved an innocent to save your own butt. Will you ever learn?" Lee spat. "Come on, man! Billy asked for the codes, I asked for the codes, but you wouldn't give them to us. Oh no, but you can give them to Amanda. Why?"
"Because I trust Amanda. She's always there for me when I need her. I even trust her more than you. To be honest, I didn't think they would go after her," Dirk said.
"That's right, you didn't think! Just so you know for future references, Amanda has this way of attracting trouble. And you just handed it to her! Lee said.
"You know why I didn't give them to you? It's because of what happened in the past. I knew you didn't want to get involved with me. I knew that look when you came into the conference room earlier today. I know you are still sore over the whole Rachel thing. You ended up getting burned and... Look, I'm sorry. The last thing I wanted to do is hurt Amanda," Dirk said.
"Tell that to Amanda," Lee seethed, just as Marni came back . In all of his frustration, Lee dropped the letter on the floor.
"The attendant said she saw her earlier but she hasn't seen her since," Marni picked up the letter before Lee and a chance and looked at it. "Oh. I don't suppose you guys care to tell me what is going on?"
"Someone took Amanda. I'll explain later. Marni, I need you to stay here. Blend in with the crowd. Don't be alone with anyone. I don't want you to disappear, either," Lee said. "We'll be back. We've got to find a phone. Come on, Dirk."
The two of them found a courtesy phone and called Billy and filled him in on what was happening.
"I'll call Phillips and see if he can come in tonight. What are you going to do?" Billy asked.
"I'm not sure, Billy. We'll think of something. When Phillips gets in, meet us here and let's get this over with," Lee said.
"I'm sending some help. We will have all the exits watched if he tries to get out."
"Thanks. Billy. Talk to ya later." Lee hung up the phone and turned to face Dirk. "Any ideas on what we're going to do?"
"Now that you mention it, I do. Is there an office around here somewhere?" Dirk asked. Lee pointed him to a door. Dirk shrugged his shoulders, shook his head, and motioned for Lee to follow him. Once getting to the door, Lee pulled the lock pick out of his collar while Dirk watched for any other guests.
"I see your skills have improved, Scarecrow. Keep it up and someday you'll be as good as me." Lee made a face at Dirk. He was always so full of himself, Lee thought.
"Oh, I'm holding my breath," Lee retorted. He opened the door. Dirk walked in first while Lee quietly closed the door. The clock hanging on the wall gonged. It was 9:45. Fifteen minutes was all they had left. Lee started looking in the drawers. Dirk walked over to the filing cabinet, hoping to find something to use. He pulled an envelope out.
"Lee, I have an idea," Dirk said. Dirk came over to the desk, and they set his plan in motion.
Upstairs, in one of the extra rooms, Amanda sat on a chair with her hands tied up in front of her. Brad Larson and his associate, Trent Garrison, were discussing what they were going to do with her. She thought about the two men downstairs, her two best friends, and knew they would be worried. She should have figured that they would take her. The way her luck was, it couldn't have happened any other way.
"At ten, we will have the missile codes and then we're out of here. Our contact with the East Germans will meet us at midnight," said Brad.
"What happens if Dirk doesn't show?" Trent asked. He put his gun inside the holster just inside his jacket.
"Then the lady dies." Brad said, looking at Amanda. She weakly smiled and looked down at her hands. She tried to loosen one of the ends of the rope, but it wouldn't budge. She always ended up in this position. She really needed to think about getting another line of work. If it were only that simple.
Brad walked over to her. "How does he do it?" He gently stroked her cheek and she turned her head away. "Dirk always gets the cute ones. Well, sweetheart, next time you should think twice before getting involved with him. It could kill you." Brad left Amanda to think and walked over to Trent. He was picking up his briefcase and started for the door. He opened it and looked out the halls to see if anyone was coming.
" Well, we have about 15 minutes until we meet them. We'd better be going." Brad said, lifting Amanda to her feet, throwing her purse to her. Amanda grasped it tightly. If they knew the codes were in her purse, they would probably kill her.
Trent nodded that the coast was clear. Brad walked Amanda out the door and into the hall. "We'd better take the back way - less people," Brad said. Trent reached behind him and closed the door.
Dirk walked out to the front garden. It was dark except for the lights coming up from the bottom of the fountain. The flowers were blooming and beautiful, but no one seemed to notice. Lee waited behind a patch of bushes not far from the fountain. As he was getting into place, he realized this was the same fountain Amanda had admired from the terrace. Please let her be all right, Lee pleaded. Across from the fountain, on the path, was a park bench. The path led up to the Embassy. The other direction led to the back of the property. Lee could see Amanda and Brad from a distance. Dirk looked over to the bush and said quietly, "Stay on your toes."
A few moments later, Brad and Amanda came walking up the back path. Dirk sat at the bench, waiting patiently for them to come. Trent was walking behind Brad, with his gun out. Dirk stood up, and stepped back from the bench.
Brad stepped forward. "Do you have the codes?" He asked.
"Yea, I got them. Are you okay?." Dirk asked Amanda. She smiled weakly, and nodded.
"I'm all right, Dirk. " Amanda said, clutching her purse. Dirk eyed it to make sure it was there. Amanda, reading his mind, nodded and smiled.
Dirk put an envelope on the bench, and then backed away. Brad brought Amanda to the bench and sat her down, taking the envelope and opening it.
"These aren't the codes I took. Don't play games with me, Dirk. I know you have them. Where are they? I WILL kill her,." said Dirk, ripping up the envelope in half, along with whatever else was in there.
Brad got out his gun and pointed it at Amanda and cocked it. . She jabbed her hands up and knocked the gun from his hand. The gun tumbled out of his hands and bounced against the concrete. Not loosing any time, Dirk ran around and pulled his gun on Trent. Trent kicked Dirk's gun out of his hand. Dirk surprised him by slamming his arm against his shoulder. Trent dropped his gun and reached over and punched Dirk, sending him back a few steps. Once getting control of his feet, Dirk brought his fist down hard on Trent's face. He then swiped his feet at Trent's legs and Trent fell like a rock. While all of this was going on, Lee jumped out of the bushes and started running toward Brad. Brad grabbed Amanda and she pulled away, with Brad grabbing her purse instead. Amanda tumbled to the ground, ripping her dress up to her thighs. Brad tried grabbing Amanda by her wrist, but he noticed Lee was approaching quickly. He gave up on capturing Amanda, swore, and started running.
"Lee, the purse! Get the purse!" Amanda yelled. She stood up, adjusting her dress. Lee ran after Brad. Brad ran up a small hill, leading to the side entrance to the property. He looked back and saw that Lee was closing in on him. He pulled a second gun out of his pocket and started firing. Lee saw the gun and ducked. One bullet whizzed past Lee. Then the gun clicked. No more bullets. Brad dropped the gun and started running faster. Lee jumped at Brad, bringing his legs to the ground. Lee turned him around and punched him in the face. Blood appeared on his face as Lee hit him again. In defeat, Brad laid his head back on the grass. Lee pulled him up, picked up the purse, and dragged Brad back to the fountain.
A few more agents had showed up and were escorting Trent away. They came and picked up Brad. Lee walked over to the fountain to where Amanda and Dirk were standing. Dirk was helping Amanda untie her hands. When the bonds were loosed, they embraced. They turned and faced Lee, with Amanda's arm around Dirk.
" Amanda, are you okay?" Lee asked. He looked into her eyes. The anger was gone and admiration shone through them once again.
"I'm fine. You two make a pretty good team," she said, putting her arm around Lee as well.
"Yeah, I guess we do," Lee said, chuckling. That was something he had forgotten. With all that he and Dirk had been through, they worked well together.
"I know I had the codes in my purse, so what was in the letter?" Amanda asked. Lee and Dirk looked at each other and smiled.
"A menu prepared for the reception," Dirk said. "The only office we could find in such short notice was the person in charge of catering. We figured it would kill time and Lee told me how well you think on your feet." Amanda blushed at the complement. Dirk squeezed Amanda's hand as he stepped away. Lee left his arm right where it was. Amanda didn't mind one bit. "It seems he was right. You are quite remarkable. If you ever get tired of this guy, you let me know. I'm looking for a new partner."
Amanda smiled and looked at Lee. "You know, I'm pretty happy with the one I have now."
"Well, we had better get inside. Marni is probably worried sick." Dirk said, looking toward the Embassy. "She's quite a girl, Lee. I'm impressed. Did good this time." Dirk winked at Lee. Lee stepped away from Amanda and looked toward the Embassy. Fortunately, no one inside knew anything had happened.
"Oh Yeah, I completely forgot about her," Lee said. He longed to stay with Amanda, but knew Marni would be expecting him. "Billy will want to debrief us as soon as he gets here. You'll need to stay awhile." Lee said, as they walked toward the building. Lee watched as Dirk put his arm around Amanda.
"Oh, don't worry. Amanda, here is a pretty good dancer. I'm sure we can entertain ourselves," Dirk said. Lee sighed. Dancing with Amanda would be nice, Lee thought. Hopefully he would find that out for himself sometime tonight.
It was about three in the morning and the reception was over. Billy had debriefed everyone and was finished. Kent Phillips had the missile codes and he and Billy were headed back to the Agency. Lee looked around to find Amanda and Dirk. Dirk was no where to be found but Amanda was standing at the window overlooking the terrace, thinking about the evening's events. But most especially, the kiss. Lee walked up behind her, cleared his throat, and she turned around.
"Well, Brad Larson and Trent Garrison are on their way back to New York. It turns out that Trent was working in the New York office and he and Brad were in this together. I guess they were both tired of the business and opted for early retirement. Dirk is safe to go back anytime. Speaking of which, where is he?" He asked. Amanda stood up straight and cocked her head toward the door.
"He took Marni home. It seems that you've lost another girl to him yet again. I overheard them making a date when Dirk gets back to New York. I didn't know that's where her home base is," Amanda said, looking down at her hand bag. She wondered how well Lee would take that piece of news.
"Funny. I didn't, either. Oh, well. You win some, and you loose some," Lee said, casually. Amanda was half surprised by his reaction and very pleased.
"He took my car. I'm just waiting here for him to come back. We're going to head home right after that.... I was kind of waiting.... to talk to you," Amanda looked out to the terrace. She wanted to say something about what happened earlier, but wasn't sure just what to say. Lee looked at her and decided to say it for her.
"Amanda, about what happened earlier," Lee said.
Amanda looked up. "I'm really sorry about that. I don't know what I was thinking..... " Amanda started.
"No, I'm the one who is sorry. I didn't mean it the way it came out. You are a special person and I didn't want to see you get your heart broken," Lee said.
"Oh, you don't have to worry about that. I have dealt with him most of my life. Dirk and I have been friends forever... just friends. My mother says I'm oblivious to his charms. She'd always hoped to see us together, but that will never happen. I'm more like Dirk's kid sister. Believe me, that is enough." Amanda said, shrugging.
Lee took her hand. " That wasn't exactly what I was talking about. I meant the kiss." Lee said.
"I was trying to prove a point. I was angry.... I'm really sorry. I feel so stupid about doing that," Amanda said looking down and closing her eyes in embarrassment.
"No, don't... " Lee said. Amanda looked up into his eyes. "You are a very beautiful woman, Amanda King.... And too special to be treated in such a careless fashion. That's all I was trying to say" Lee stumbled out. Amanda smiled at him. He smiled and let out a sigh of relief. He looked around and noticed that the clean up crew was busy starting their jobs. Lee wasn't ready for the night to end. He had to think of something.
"You know, we never did get that dance," Lee said. Amanda looked around the room.
"But there is no music," She said. Lee looked at her, laughter beaming from his eyes.
"Who says we need music? Come on." Lee took her by the hand and they went out to the terrace, under the stars. The starts were shining brightly and the wind was blowing lightly. Lee pulled her into his arms to keep her warm. He couldn't imagine any other place he would want her. He breathed in her perfume and lost all thought to anything else. Not a word was spoken. Nothing had to be. Lee held Amanda tightly as if to never let go.
When Dirk came back, he found the two of them dancing, and not a sound could be heard except vacuuming and mopping. He grinned, and said, "I give it a year."
Quietly, he turned around and left. He knew Lee would give Amanda a ride home, when they were ready. Meanwhile, Dirk was being called home by the pot roast that awaited him in the refrigerator. If Dotty were only 30 years younger, indeed!