Title: The Smell of Autumn
Summary: A case gone awry gives Lee and Amanda a rare chance.
Story: short story
Timeline: Sometime in the 2nd or 3rd season
Archive: List archive. Anywhere else, please ask first.
Disclaimer: Scarecrow and Mrs. King belong to Warner Bros. and Shoot the Moon prod. I don't own the characters, just the story idea.
Author's Note: This is something I keep thinking about writing every year, but seem to fail in getting the right words; I hope I have found them this time. Thank you to all my cyber-friends and a special thank you to Larry for the encouragement and to Brenda for beta-ing this idea.
When they left Washington D.C. it was a good thing. Four days, no Agency, no Dotty, no boys, just them… and the case. That was five and a half days ago. They were tired and Lee was in a bad mood. The jeep they rented had broken down two kilometers down the service road.
Lee grunted as he dumped the wood on the ground. This was supposed to be an easy case. A simple stake out, four days at a five star hotel with his best friend. It had started off great until the suspect they were tailing led them on a wild goose chase. The suspect eluded them until a few hours. Amanda had taken everything in stride. He knew she was looking forward to this case, but now…. 'Look at the bright side, Stetson, at least no one is chasing you this time.'
Amanda knew he was upset. The thud of the logs had made that even more clear to her. He had gotten grumpier ever since the car had broken down. At least their prisoner was co-operating, albeit he was out cold from a blow to the head. 'He really shouldn't have made that last comment to Lee.'
The fire crackled and popped. The flames danced on the logs casting its light around. Lee just stared into the fire, lost in thought and guilt. They were running a day late and Thanksgiving was tomorrow. This year he had so much to be thankful for, and he wanted to show the person he was the most thankful to have in his life how much he cared for her. Now they were in the middle of nowhere with an unconscious suspect and a small emergency kit that she had been thoughtful enough to pack.
Amanda sat down next to him and took in a deep breath and then sighed. This was among her most favorite times of the year. She smiled as she took in the smell of the burning logs, the smell of leaves burning in the distance, the musty, warm smell of autumn.
"What are you smiling about?" he grumpily asked. Her arrival had interrupted his thoughts.
"Can't I just smile?"
"Well, I...that is...yes… I suppose so. I just expected you to be upset about this week." Lee was flabbergasted. This was unusual behavior for her.
"I was, earlier. But now," she paused. "Now I just have to accept that Thanksgiving won't be a lunch, but a dinner. Besides, right now things couldn't be better."
"Lee, take a deep breath." She looked at him. After a few moments he did as she asked. "What do you smell?"
"Wet leaves and smoke," he replied flatly.
"Nothing," he paused briefly. "Amanda, what do you smell?"
"Thanksgiving, friends gathering together." Amanda got lost in her narrative. "When I was a young girl, we would take drives out to the country. The smell of the farmers burning leaves always fills me with warmth. The smell of wood fires remind me of family gatherings, of Grandma's special apple crisp, heated spiced cider, and laughter." She took a small breath. "I love the smell of autumn."
Lee looked into her eyes. The firelight sparkled, but there was something else. As he looked deeply he figured it out, he was seeing pure joy. He took another deep breath and found that he too was able to smell the warmth and other things that she described. Picking up the tin cups of heated cider, he handed her one, smiled, and repeated, "The smell of autumn. I like that."
They clinked the cups together, leaned back against a fallen tree, basking in the warmth of the fire and talked well into the night. They would reach civilization in the morning, but for now they would give thanks that they had each other and a chance to reaffirm their friendship.