Disclaimer: Scarecrow & Mrs. King belong to Shoot the Moon and WB
Timeline: Lee and Amanda have been married for about 9 months. It is still a secret.
Rating: PG 13
Feedback: Absolutely! (but be nice about it)
Amanda donned her raincoat and hollered up the stairs, "Mother, I'm leaving. I'll see you tonight!"
Dotty peeked her head out of her bedroom and answered, "Amanda, it's raining cats and dogs out there. Why don't you wait until it lets up?"
Amanda tied her hood tight around her face and grabbed her purse. "The weather report said it wasn't going to let up until Wednesday. I can't call in sick because of the rain."
Dotty descended the steps and commented, "Well, you're not going to catch me going anywhere in that today. I plan on kicking my feet up and reading a good book."
Amanda took her keys from the forey table and kissed her mother on the cheek. "Enjoy your book," she said before hollering up the stairs, "Bye boys, see you later!" Amanda listened to her sons' good-bye's and sprinted out to the Jeep. She fastened her seat belt and let out a heavy sigh. She reached under her seat for the agency issued car phone, plugged into the cigarette lighter and dialed Lee's number. "Lee!" she shouted, hoping he could hear her above the rain and the thunder. "The weather is terrible so I'm going to take the back roads to work. Maybe there'll be less traffic to deal with. I might be a little late.......Okay, I will.....I love you too."
She tucked the phone back under the seat and drove off into the rain. Even with her wipers on full blast she had trouble seeing through the constant flow of water running down her windshield. Mondays were never an easy commute anyway, even without the rain. It always seemed like everyone was in more of a hurry than usual and extra cranky. Amanda found her way to the old highway that wound around the city instead of cutting through. She was in no mood to deal with the morning rush hour on her usual route and hoped this path would be a bit easier.
Amanda tried to listen to the radio but it was difficult to hear above the rain and every time lightning would strike it would crackle loudly. She found it annoying and eventually shut it off. She was leaning slightly into the steering wheel, holding on tightly with both hands, when she suddenly felt the rear tire complain and shimmy. 'Oh no," she thought. 'Not today, of all days.' Not two seconds later she heard the distinct clump clump clump of a flat tire. 'Great.'
Aside from the car following her at a discrete distance, which she hadn't noticed, she was alone on the deserted roadway. She pulled over and reached into her glove compartment. She was no stranger to changing a tire but decided a quick refresher wouldn't hurt on a day like this. She brushed up on the location of the jack and tire iron and hoped there was air in the spare. Counting silently to three she willed herself to leave the dry vehicle and brave the onslaught of rain. Running half bent over to the rear of the car, she opened the back end and reached for the tire iron. Bending over the rubbery mess that was once a new tire, she not-so-gently joined the iron to the first of five lug nuts.
"Would you like some help?" she heard a surprise voice behind her. Before she could react the tire iron was ripped from her grasp and she felt the cold pressure of a gun on her temple. "Come with me," the voice ordered.
Two hours later Lee was pacing in the Q Bureau. Amanda had called to tell him she would probably be late but Lee didn't think she had meant two hours late. He had called the Jeep phone but no one answered. He had assumed it was because she didn't have it plugged in but was now starting to think maybe something had happened to her. Just then the Film Library door burst open and in walked his secret wife.
"Good morning, Lee!" she greeted with a big smile.
"Good morning?!" Lee argued. "You waltz in here two hours late and all you can say is 'good morning'?"
Amanda sat down on the couch to change from her tennies to her heels. "Lee, you know the weather was bad and I called to tell you I'd be late. Plus, I got a flat tire and had to change it."
Lee stared at his wife in amazement and shook his head. "Unbelievable," he mumbled at first. "Unbelievable!" He shouted quite a bit louder this time. Do you know that you are two hours late? Two hours, Amanda! How could it have taken you two whole hours to change a tire?"
Amanda looked hurt and replied, with one hand on her hip and the other waving a wet shoe, "Well, I thought that by changing that tire myself I was doing you a favor. I could have just called you and had you come and rescue me, you know! And I'm sorry it took so long but it was raining and nothing gets done very quickly in the rain!" Amanda placed her wet shoes on the radiator to dry and sat down at her desk. She was mad at Lee but she was also a little confused. She could remember changing the tire and yet, the morning still seemed like a dream to her. And how did she manage to change a tire in the pouring rain without ruining her dress? Or her nails, for that matter?"
Lee watched as Amanda absently looked at her perfectly manicured nails. "Amanda, are you okay?"
Amanda snapped out of her thoughts and stated, "I'm fine. What does Billy want us to do today?"
Lee could tell right away that Amanda didn't want to talk about whatever she was thinking, so he followed her lead. "Nothing much. He said there's word on the street that someone interesting had entered the country but there's no positive ID yet. I thought I'd visit T.P. later to see what he knows. Basically, we're between cases right now, just catching up on paperwork."
Amanda nodded and began to shuffle through her inbox for something interesting to do. She and Lee worked in relative silence for the next two hours before breaking for lunch.
"Feel like going out for lunch today?" Lee asked from behind his desk.
Amanda looked up at her husband and smiled. "Actually, I was hoping we could order in. The rain is still really coming down out there and my Jeep is riding on a donut."
Lee reached for his phone and said, "I'll order some Chinese and then after work tonight you and I are going to get your tire repaired." Lee winked at his wife and dialed the long ago memorized number for their favorite Chinese restaurant.
Later that evening, Lee and Amanda were sitting in the waiting area of the tire shop. "Really, Lee, you don't have to wait here if you don't want to."
Lee reached for Amanda's hand and whispered, "I don't get to spend very much time with my wife. If all I have is a few minutes in a tire shop then I'll take what I can get." The longing look in their eyes was interrupted when the mechanic cleared his throat and handed something to Amanda.
"I though you might want this. I took it out of your tire when I took it off of the rim. This is why you got a flat, Mrs. King.," the mechanic said with a frown.
Amanda took the shiny hunk of lead from the mechanic's stained hands and gasped. "Lee, it's a bullet."
Lee took a closer look and then glanced up at the mechanic.
"I'd take that to the police, if I were you," the greasy boy stated.
"Thanks," Lee absently replied, with a worried look on his face. "Amanda, someone shot at you this morning. Are you sure no one was there when you stopped? No one offered any help?"
Amanda shook her head and answered, "I don't remember anything except changing the tire. I'm sure there was no one else there, Lee."
"Why don't you go through it step by step with me," Lee suggested.
"Well," Amanda began to recap her morning, "I took the old highway where there would be less traffic. I felt the flat before I heard it. I pulled over, reviewed the manual, got out, got the jack and the tire iron, jacked up the car, took the old tire off, put the spare tire on and drove to work." Amanda saw the look of confusion and concern on Lee's face. "What?" she asked.
"Amanda, there must be something else. What you just explained couldn't have taken two hours to do. Did you stop anywhere else? Did you go back home to change? Did you get stuck in a traffic jam?"
Amanda kept shaking her head. "No, by the time I was done the traffic wasn't so bad. I never went home to change and I didn't stop anywhere."
"Then why wasn't your dress wet?" Lee asked, quietly.
"Lee, you're starting to sound like you don't trust me," Amanda teased. Yet, deep inside, Amanda was confused, too. How had she managed to change a tire in the pouring rain without getting wet? And why did it take her two hours?
Lee looked at his hands. "You're right. I'm sorry, Amanda. But, this bullet really scares me. Maybe we can have forensics take a peek at it."
Amanda reached for the bullet and felt it's weight. "Honestly, Lee, I don't know who could have been shooting at me. There was no one else around."
From the tire store, Amanda went straight home to her family and Lee stopped off at the Agency to drop the bullet off with the forensics team and to update Billy. Then he went to Amanda's for a late supper and some games with the boys. Amanda was unusually quiet during dinner but Lee didn't seem to notice. Philip and Jamie were talking his ear off.
After dinner Lee was playing Uno with the boys and Amanda was leaning against the wall sipping her tea. 'I really am going to miss this when Lee is gone,' she thought vaguely. 'Where did that thought come from?!' Amanda silently gasped. She shook her head at her own thoughts and slid into the kitchen to be alone. That's where her mother found her.
"Amanda?" she asked, seeing her daughter looking sad and confused. "Is something the matter?"
Amanda sighed and put down her cup of tea. "I'm just preoccupied, mother," she answered.
"Care to talk about it?"
Amanda looked at her mother and said, "I keep having these unusual thoughts run through my mind. I can't explain them and I don't know what they mean."
"What kind of thoughts, dear?" Dotty asked.
Amanda slouched a bit and said softly, "I keep thinking about how much I'm going to miss Lee when he's gone. Or a vision of his funeral will play through my mind. Things like that. What can they mean?"
Dotty eyed her daughter softly and patted her arm. "I think you're just falling in love and when you're falling in love with someone the next logical step is to worry about losing them. I wouldn't worry about it, dear."
"Yes," Amanda stated firmly. "That must be it. Thank you, mother." But Amanda wasn't convinced by her own words. After all, she had fallen in love with Lee a long time ago and yet these feelings were something new. She still had this lingering ache in her gut that Lee was in mortal danger. She decided not to discuss it with him, though. He would just think she was being overprotective and foolish.
After the boys and Dotty were in bed for the evening, Lee and Amanda were cuddling on the couch. "You know, I could slip into your room for a while. I don't think anyone would wake up," Lee suggested while planting kisses up and down the back of Amanda's neck.
Amanda smiled. "I can think of nothing more enjoyable, Lee, you know that. But, we can't get into that habit or one of these days we'll get sloppy and someone will walk in wondering what all the noise is in my bedroom."
Lee sighed. He knew she was right. He missed being a proper husband to his wife and he knew she missed it too. Their evenings alone were so infrequent and they were both growing frustrated. "Do you think anyone would find us on the couch?"
Amanda giggled and whispered, "I guess we're a little safer down here. There's a whole floor between them and us, not just one wall. I say we give it a try."
Lee needed no more encouragement. Amanda barely had her last words spoken when Lee had her flipped onto her back and was hastily unbuttoning her shirt. Amanda let out a hearty laugh which she had to stifle with her hand over her mouth. "Maybe we should at least pull a blanket over ourselves," Amanda suggested with a slight giggle. Lee hastily grabbed the alfgahn and covered them up from head to toe.
"This is fun," he said in a husky voice. "Kind of like being a teenager again."
"Speak for yourself, buster," Amanda whispered, playfully bopping Lee on his chest.
Lee wrestled the last of their clothes off and whispered into Amanda's ear, "Let me show you what you were missing."
Two hours later Lee kissed his now dressed and sleeping wife on the forehead and snuck out the back door. He wore a smile the whole way home.
Amanda grabbed her keys and kissed her mother goodbye. "See you this evening, Mother."
"Have a nice day, dear," Dotty replied.
An hour and a half later in the Q Bureau, she greeted her husband eagerly. "Hey, handsome! The boys were wondering if you could come over tonight. Philip wants to work on his curve ball and he doesn't think I know how to do it right." Amanda and Lee joined in a quick embrace as they spoke.
"Anything for my boys," Lee mumbled while kissing his wife good morning. "Running a little late this morning?" Lee asked.
"I'm sorry, I somehow fell asleep on the couch last night and didn't hear my alarm going off in my bedroom. I should have called," Amanda unknowingly lied, giving her husband a kiss. "You worry too much."
Lee returned another kiss and said with a sly grin, "Yeah, well, you looked so peacefull there I didn't want to wake you."
Amanda chuckled and was busy wiping the lipstick off of her husbands lips when Billy burst through the door. The two agents sprang apart at the interruption.
Billy raised his hand, shook his head and said, "You two don't make a lick of sense to me. You're the best agents I have. You can spy on people without them knowing, play a cover role well enough to earn you an academy award and keep all of it a secret from the outside world. But, you STINK at hiding this little affair you're having!"
Lee and Amanda eyed each other in surprise.
Billy continued with a smile, "I wish you two would just come clean already. Or at least lock the door once in a while."
Lee and Amanda stifled their smiles. "Was there something you wanted, Billy?" Lee asked, trying to change the subject.
"Yes," Billy continued. "I've gotten word that our unknown visitor is from Russia. I don't have an ID yet but I want the two of you to make the rounds today. See if you can't find out who this mystery guest is."
"Sure thing, Billy," Lee stated, relieved by the change in subject. "Anything else?"
Billy smiled again and pointed to Lee's face. "Yeah, you missed some lipstick."
Lee sucked in his lips and watched Billy leave the Q Bureau before reaching for his handkerchief. Amanda burst into a fit of laughter as soon as the door was closed.
Later that morning, Lee and Amanda were driving around D.C. locating Lee's family members. Augie hadn't heard anything about the Russian visitor, neither had T.P., though they both said they'd do some snooping around. Later while they were heading into Georgetown Lee saw Amanda crane her neck at a modest little house as they passed. "Did you see someone?" Lee asked.
Amanda stared at the house until it was out of sight. "No," she replied, sounding almost in a daze. "I just had a feeling of deja vu with a house we just passed, like I'd been there recently."
Lee was confused. "Have you been there before?"
"Not that I can really recall. But it did seem hauntingly familiar," Amanda stated softly. Confused by her own thoughts.
Lee just shrugged his shoulders and kept driving. They thought they'd see what their snitch at the Russian Embassy, Josie, had to say. She lived in Georgetown and often ate lunch at a snooty little bar called Kelly's. Rounding the corner to the bar they spotted Josie out on the verandah with her lunch.
Lee and Amanda ordered some club sodas and sat at a table adjacent to Josie's. "Any news?" Lee asked, pretending to be talking with Amanda.
Josie wiped her mouth with the linen napkin and replied under her breath, "Plenty. Seems our old friend is back in town, and he's on a mission."
Lee's curiosity was peeked. "What friend?" he asked.
Josie coughed the word "Alexi", then got up, dropped a note on Lee's table and left to pay her bill.
Lee and Amanda were speechless. How could Alexi Makarov be back in town? He was supposed to be in a Turkish prison for the rest of his life. They wondered what this 'mission' was that Josie was referring to. He slid the note into his pocket and left a tip on the table. Back in the 'Vette he unfolded the piece of paper and read four words that caused a shiver down his spine: "He wants you. Dead."
Lee handed the note to Amanda and put the 'Vette in gear. "Come on, we need to talk to Billy," he said as he squealed the tires into traffic.
Tuesday afternoon. in Billy's office.....
"Billy," Lee grunted, "Alexi is after me which means Amanda and her family are in danger. I think we should post someone outside Amanda's house until we find him."
"That's not a bad idea. I'll get someone there during the day and night but I expect you to be there during the evening hours," Billy suggested. "As far as we know, he doesn't know where Mrs. King lives but I don't want to take any chances. Francine, I want you to keep your ears out for any rumors coming out of the Russian Embassy. Keep an eye out for any strange ads in the personals too. He may use that as a way to communicate to Lee. I received confirmation today that Alexi had, indeed, escaped from prison just two weeks ago."
"Sir?" Amanda asked, "Did forensics learn anything new about the bullet that was pulled out of my tire?"
Billy stood up and walked around his desk. "Just that it was common. No real way to trace it without something to compare it to. They did say that based on how far it had penetrated the tire that it had been shot from quite a distance. Are you sure there was no one following you?"
Amanda shook her head. "It was raining awful hard and I really wasn't paying attention. I don't remember seeing anyone around me, but I wasn't looking either. If it were Alexi that caused the flat, why would he just drive away when I pulled over?"
Lee began to pace. "Maybe he was just sending a warning. Shaking us up a bit."
"Could be," Billy replied. "I get the feeling that Alexi wants us to know he's in town. He could have taken Amanda yesterday morning but he didn't. He must have something big planned."
The three continued talking for another half an hour before adjourning for the evening. "Lee, I want you to follow Amanda home. I'll post an agent outside of her house at ten o'clock tonight and one outside your apartment. I want you to stay at Amanda's until then." Billy didn't think Lee would object, and he didn't.
Back in the Q Bureau, Lee and Amanda were talking about the coming evening. "Well, Lee," Amanda smiled. "At least I know you'll be over for dinner tonight. The boys will be thrilled. Jamie wants a rematch at Uno."
Lee smiled. He really enjoyed his evenings with Jamie and Philip. "Yeah, remind me to thank Alexi when we catch him." Glancing to make sure the door was closed he pulled his wife into his arms and kissed her on the lips. Amanda was wrapping her arms around Lee's neck with the door burst open again.
"Lee, I..." Billy began, catching them again. He chuckled and shook his head. "Nevermind, I see Amanda will be in good hands for the next few hours," and left the Q Bureau as quickly as he had arrived.
"Somehow I don't think we're fooling Billy anymore," Amanda grinned.
Lee smiled and said, "We really need to start locking that door."
Lee spent the rest of the evening at Amanda's eating dinner and playing Uno with the boys. Philip managed to win four games out of five with Jamie winning the last game. Amanda accused Lee of letting them win but Lee had to admit, he had lost fair and square. Dotty enjoyed Lee's visits as well. She was getting more and more blunt about wanting her daughter to marry him. At one point in the evening Amanda and her mother were in the kitchen making tea when Dotty commented, "Those sons of yours sure like Lee. And having an adult male around on a regular basis would do them a world of good. You know, if Lee were to move in here I think they would be thrilled."
"Mother!" Amanda hissed. "Keep your voice down."
Lee sauntered into the kitchen just then and took a cookie from a plate on the table. "Do you ladies need any help?" Lee asked through a mouthful of chocolate chips.
Amanda shook her head but Dotty jumped at the chance to bring someone else into the discussion. "As a matter of fact, Lee, perhaps you could settle a little debate that Amanda and I are having."
"Mo-ther!" Amanda cried in exasperation. "Don't you dare!"
Dotty continued, "Well, I was just saying how the boys would really like it if you..."
"Stop it, Mother!" Amanda ordered
"Well, somebody's got to plant the idea in his head..."
"I mean it, Mother!
"Light a fire under your butt..."
"Get this ball rolling..."
Lee's head was whipping side to side as if he were watching a tennis match, thoroughly enjoying the mother-daughter sparring. He was disappointed when Dotty finally conceded defeat.
"Oh, all right dear, I'll stop. Besides, I think I've accomplished my objective," she said, winking at Lee and leaving the kitchen with her tea.
Amanda looked exasperated but Lee was chuckling. "What was that all about?" he asked, as if he didn't know.
"Mother wants you to move in," Amanda answered, moving next to Lee.
Lee hugged his wife tight and said, "She does, does she? I must have won her approval."
Amanda laughed and said, "Lee, no offense, but my mother would approve of anyone I took home. Well, maybe not Buck down the street, but anyone else. She just wants me married again."
Lee kissed the top of Amanda's head and whispered, "Well, would it be beneficial for me to move in here and still keep the marriage secret? No one at work needs to know I would be living here."
Amanda popped her head up in surprise. "Are you joking?" she asked.
"I'm not sure," Lee replied. "It hadn't really occurred to me to move in without anyone knowing we're married. It might work."
Amanda shook her head and said, "But I won't allow it. It would send the wrong message to the boys. Someday, Mr. Stetson, you will be living here. Maybe after we get Alexi secured again."
"Do you mean it?" Lee asked.
"Well, I figure he's about the most dangerous guy I can think of and if we can take care of him, we can take care of anyone," she reasoned.
Lee gave his wife a squeeze and whispered, "Amanda Stetson, I'm going to hold you to that."
Just after ten o'clock that evening Lee decided it was time to go home. He had seen his Agency escort as well as another Agency car pull up in front of the house and knew no harm would come to his family in the night. "Thankyou, Dotty, for another wonderful evening," he said at the door.
Amanda walked Lee out to the ''Vette. "I'd kiss you but the agents are watching us," she commented, keeping a platonic distance from her husband.
"Lock up when you get back in. Doors AND windows, even the one in your room," Lee instructed. "I love you."
"I love you too, Lee. I'll see you tomorrow." Amanda stared for a moment, wanting nothing more than to give Lee a kiss goodnight. "B-bye."
Lee waited for Amanda to be safely in her house before walking to the guard. "Keep a good eye on them, Brian. No sleeping on the job," he commanded.
"Sure thing, Scarecrow. They'll be in good hands," the young agent stated.
Then Lee waved at his escort and went home for the night.
Amanda bid her family goodbye and left out the front door. The agency car watched as Amanda jumped into the Jeep. Seeing her safely in her vehicle, they left. Well over an hour later she opened the door to the Q Bureau with a greeting for her husband, "Good morning, Sweetheart!"
"Good morning to you too," was the reply she heard, but it wasn't Lee's voice.
"Sir!" Amanda tried to compose herself. "I'm sorry, sir. I thought you were...I mean...I didn't realize..."
Billy burst into a fit of laughter at Amanda King being at a loss of words. "Really, Amanda," he tried to speak, "there's no need to explain."
"Was there something I can do for you, sir?" Amanda asked, assuming this wasn't a social call.
"Yes," he replied, gaining control of his giggles now. "I heard earlier this morning that Alexi isn't working alone. Apparently he want Lee dead but has hired someone else to do the dirty work. We just don't know who."
"Sir, where is Lee now?" Amanda had to ask.
"Oh, he's fine. He's been in the bullpen since eight o'clock. I still expect the two of you out in the field today looking for Alexi. Just make your check-in's every two hours. I know that may be a bit excessive but with Alexi on the prowl, we can't be too safe," Billy advised.
"Yes, sir," Amanda replied, sitting at her desk.
Billy walked to the door, turned to Amanda and said, "I'll tell Lee you're here. I'm sure he'll be happy to see you."
Amanda blushed as Billy closed the door behind him. 'Well, at least he was distracted this morning and hopefully hasn't noticed how late I am,' Amanda thought.
A few minutes later Lee joined his wife at her desk. "Billy told me you were up here. He was giving me a really funny look. He's just waiting for me to spill the beans about us. We might as well tell him, you know."
Amanda smirked at the memory of how she had accidentally greeted her boss this morning. "Yah, I guess it would make sense," she smiled. "I still don't want anyone else to know though. Not until we have Alexi behind some stronger bars."
Two hours later....
Augie still didn't know anything new. They decided to try T.P. again while they were in the neighborhood.
"Lee, old boy, it's good to see you. Hello again, Amanda!" T.P. greeted. "Have a seat."
Lee and Amanda sat across T.P.'s usual table at the ice cream parlour. "T.P., Amanda and I thought we'd see if you've learned anything about our visitor."
T.P. leaned in close and said in a soft voice, "As a matter of fact, I have. It seems Alexi has hired himself a hit man."
"Yeah, we know that, T.P.," Lee interjected. "We just need to know who."
T.P. took a bite of his ice cream and answered, "I don't have a name, but I'm afraid you're not going to like the description."
"What description?" Amanda asked.
T.P. wiped his mouth with a napkin and answered, "I heard he's hired one of your own. Someone at the Agency."
Lee and Amanda looked at each other in surprise. "That can't be," Lee stated, confused. "You must have misheard someone, T.P. We don't have a mole."
"I'm sorry, Lee, but I'm quite sure. I tried fishing for more information but that's all anyone knows."
Lee and Amanda thanked T.P. and hustled to the car. "It doesn't make any sense, Amanda," Lee said, shaking his head. "Who could he possibly convince at the Agency to kill me?" They drove away in silence. Neither one willing to believe what they had heard.
Back at the Agency, Lee and Amanda were in Billy's office updating him on T.P.'s story. Billy was pacing in front of his desk. "I think we need to change our strategy a little. We need to keep this a need-to-know. Only you two and I will know what's going on from here on out. I'll leak things here and there to specific departments to try to narrow down our search. In the mean time I want the two of you at the safe house. Amanda, you should probably get your family out of town, unless you want to tell them what's going on and get them to the safe house as well."
Amanda didn't like that idea at all so she decided to send them to Lillian's for the time being. She gave her mother a call and made up some story about finding a carpenter ant in the kitchen that morning so she was having the house sprayed. "The exterminator doesn't want anyone in the house for at least a week, Mother. I know it's sudden but I can't stand the thought of those ants eating my house.....Actually I'm still needed at work so they are going to put me up in a hotel....I already called Aunt Lillian and she said she'd be thrilled to have you and the boys.....He's going to spray this afternoon....Yes, Mother, I will.....I'll call you when you can come home....I love you to...Bye, Mother."
Billy smiled when Amanda hung up the phone. "Either your mother is very gullable or she's just being really, really nice."
Amanda sighed. "Sir, I'm sure my mother doesn't really believe anything I just told her but she trusts me enough not to ask what's really going on."
Lee and Amanda went to their homes to pack some bags and an hour later met at the safehouse with Billy. "Now, I got you adjoining rooms. I figured you'd want to be able to check up on eachother," Billy said with a slight grin. "I still want you on this case but staying in your homes wouldn't be safe. You'll have hourly check-in's durring the day starting at 8AM. Now, don't get any crazy ideas while you're here. I want you here from 6PM until 7AM, without exception. I can't have you galavanting all over town durring the night. Do I make myself clear?"
"Perfectly," Lee answered.
"Yes, Sir," Amanda nodded.
Billy checked them in and said goodbye at the elevator. "I'll see you two in the morning. Goodnight."
Lee and Amanda ascended the elevator holding hands. Lee was nervous about the mole but Amanda was downright shaking.
"Hey?" Lee whispered, wrapping his arm around Amanda's waist. "Why are you so scared?"
Amanda sighed and layed her head on Lee's shoulder. "This whole thing just gives me a terrible feeling. I can't shake the thought that you're not going to get out of this one. That Alexi is actually going to win this time. Whenever you get into trouble I always worry but deep down I know you'll be alright. This time, I'm not so sure."
"I'm going to be just fine, Amanda," Lee hushed. "Listen, we've got the whole evening to ourselves. Billy got us adjoining rooms for a reason, you know. We're safe here and I can hold you all night long to prove it to you. Now, let's go inside, lock the door and have a relaxing evening alone, okay?"
Amanda nodded and forced the feeling of impending doom from her mind. They settled in and ordered a satisfying supper of bugers and fries. After dinner Amanda called her family to make sure they had made it to Aunt Lillian's safely. Satisfied that they were fine, she unpacked her toiletries and slipped into her pajamas. She was tired and her body wanted to go to sleep but Amanda's heart needed the closeness that only Lee could provide. She came out of the bathroom and saw her husband reading a magazine. "Should we turn in early?" she asked.
Lee raised his eyes above the magazine and winked. "I was hoping we could take advantage of our uninturrupted time alone here, if you know what I mean," he drawled while shaking his eyebrows.
Amanda smiled and sat on his lap. "I can't think of anything better," she whispered in his ear. Although it was only 7:30 in the evening, Lee and Amanda turned down the bed, shut off the lights and succumbed to their marital urges.
Three hours later, Lee was breathing heavily, in a deep sleep and wrapped up in Amanda's arms. Amanda was wide eyed and staring at the ceiling. 'Why do I feel like that was the last time we're ever going to make love?' she thought to herself. Amanda wiped a tear from her cheek and snuggled in as close to her husband as she could. "I love you, Lee Stetson," she whispered and drifted off into a fitful and nightmare filled sleep.
*****Amanda was walking through a hazy and dark building. She could hear Lee screaming her name but couldn't find him. "Lee?" she kept shouting, "Where are you?" Everytime she thought she had found him she would turn the corner and find only his image, drifting in the haze. He had been shot and needed help.
"Why, Amanda?" Lee kept asking, "Why did you do it?"
"Lee?" Amanda kept calling, "I can't reach you! Why are you running from me?"
Amanda would hear Lee's pleading again and she'd change direction. "Keep coming, Amanda, I'm right here."
Amanda spun around to face him but instead of Lee, it was Alexi. "You are doing fine, Mrs. King," he hissed. "You don't have to worry about your Scarecrow any longer."
"What have you done to him?" Amanda asked in a panic. "Where is he!?"
Alexi stepped aside to reveal Lee laying on the floor behind him. He was staring at Amanda, covered in blood and looking like a kicked dog. "Why, Amanda? Why?" he kept saying.
Amanda lunged for Lee so she could help him but he scampered back in terror. Amanda halted her approach in shock and confusion.
"Don't touch me, Amanda," Lee begged. "Just leave me alone!"
Amanda felt the room spin around her. Images of Lee being shot, Alexi's face, Amanda wearing a smug smile and then Lee crumpling to the floor were flying around the room. Amanda fell to her knees ans screamed, "NOOOO!"****
"Amanda!" Lee yelled, "Amanda wake up! You're having a nightmare."
Amanda sprang up to her knees and grabbed onto Lee's shoulders. She was drenched in sweat and her whole body was shaking. "Lee? Oh, Lee!" she stammered, feeling all over his body to make sure he was really alright. "Are you okay?"
Lee held Amanda tight and whispered, "I'm just fine, Amanda. It was just a bad dream. Shhh, it's over now." he was petting her hair and rocking her back and forth.
"Lee, it was awful," she began to explain in a shaky voice. "You were shot and Alexi was there but I couldn't find you. Then, I found Alexi and you were laying on the floor behind him but when I tried to get to you you were suddenly terrified. But not of Alexi, you were afraid of me. You kept asking me why? 'Why, Amanda. Why?' you said over and over. I think I'm the one who shot you. Alexi told me I was doing fine and that I didn't have to worry about you anymore." Amanda had tears streaming down her face and she had slowly crumpled into a heap on the bed.
"It was just a dream, Amanda. I know you would never hurt me. It was just a dream." Lee held Amanda close until he heard her breathing even out and her body finally relax. They both fell asleep, in a tangled mess, at the foot of the bed.
The next morning they were awakened by the ringing of the phone. "Hello," Lee whispered groggily.
"Good morning, Lee," Billy greeted. "I trust you and Amanda slept well."
Lee looked at the clock. It read 8:12 AM. "Uh, yeah, Billy. Everything is fine. We'll be in as quick as we can."
"Okay," Billy replied. "I'd send an escort but I don't know who to trust. I just wanted to call to make sure you had an uneventfull night. You are twelve minutes late on your 8 AM check-in."
Lee thought back to the Nighmare Amanda had and frowned lightly. "Sorry Billy, I guess we...uh, I overslept. We'll see you in a little while."
Lee and Amanda got ready for work and left just a short hour later. "You're awfully quiet this morning, Amanda," Lee commented. "Are you still worried about your dream?"
Amanda reached over and took Lee's hand. "It was just so real. Why would I dream that I had hurt you? Why would I do that?"
Lee squeezed Amanda's hand and answered, "Dreams don't make any sense, Amanda. You know that. Just because you dreamed that you shot me doesn't mean I think you'll really do that. You shouldn't take it so seriously."
Amanda forced a fake smile to appease her husband and remained quiet for the rest of the drive.
In Billy's office the three went over the plan for the day and any new information was discussed. Billy had been leaking information to different departments to try to flush out the mole but so far, no one took the bait. They still had no idea who Alexi had hired or where he was hiding out. Lee had hoped to meet with Rhonda today and Billy was going to check with his family. Billy hadn't done much field work in the past year but his family was always there to help him whenever he needed it. They decided to go about their business and meet back at the agency at 3PM.
At 10AM, Amanda and Lee set out to gather any information they could. They left the Q Bureau and walked together to the 'Vette to make their rounds. Amanda stopped on the sidewalk. "Amanda, come on," Lee urged as he opened the passenger door. Amanda was silent and still. "Amanda?" Lee asked again, growing worried.
"Huh?" Amanda answered, looking at Lee.
"Amanda, where were you? You seemed a thousand miles away."
Amanda looked back to the object of her stares, a bank clock down the street, and replied, "I'm sorry, Lee, I was just daydreaming." She broke her gaze with the clock and sat in the 'Vette.
Lee sat down in the driver's seat and took his wive's hand. "Are you sure you're okay?" he asked.
"Yes, Lee, I'm fine. Now, where are we going first?" she asked, trying to sound reassuring.
Lee put the car in first gear and pulled away from the curb. "Well, I thought I'd see if T.P. has anything new today. Augie said he would poke his nose in some corners and see if he can't find some new information too. And then we'll find Rhonda." Lee squeezed Amanda's thigh at his last comment. Amanda smiled but seemed distracted. "Amanda, what's with you today? You seem so distant. Is something bothering you?"
Amanda shook her head and smiled. "I'm sorry again. There's nothing bothering me, honest. Maybe I'm just tired or worried about Alexi or, oh who knows what. I'm just in la la land today and I don't know why."
Lee reached for Amanda's hand and said in a soft voice, "Listen, when all of this is over you and I will take a couple of days off to unwind. How does that sound?"
"Wonderful," Amanda smiled.
As suspected, T.P. and Augie didn't have any new information. They decided they had better track down Rhonda when Amanda checked the radio clock. It read 12:17. She had been feeling edgy all day. Her instincts were on high alert but she couldn't quite pinpoint why. All she knew was that she couldn't stop watching the clock.
Lee was busy driving around trying to locate Rhonda, babbling about the boys and their future. Talking absently about getting the 'Vette a tune up and chatting about Billy's suspicions about their relationship. Amanda was half listening, mumbling a 'Yeah," or an "uh huh," whenever appropriate, but not really paying attention. She looked at the clock again. It read 12:59. Her head began to spin. She couldn't shake this feeling that there was something she was about to miss. Just then the clock changed to 1:00 and Amanda went into action. "Lee, I have an idea about Alexi."
"Let's hear it," Lee replied.
"Well, you know how T.P. always says that Russians do everything on a grand scale and how they like poetry and all the Russian ways of doing things?" Amanda tried to explain her train of thought.
"Yeah, what are you thinking, Amanda?" Lee grew curious.
"Well," Amanda continued, "Wouldn't it be fitting if Alexi were hanging out at the very place where he fell?"
Lee's eyebrows raised. "You mean the stadium?"
"That's exactly what I mean." Amanda snapped her fingers for effect. "Lee, we're in the neighborhood. It wouldn't hurt to check it out."
Lee wasn't sure. "Don't you think that might be a little far fetched? I mean. Surely he has some other more secure hideout."
Amanda didn't really know why she needed to press this issue so hard but no matter what she tried to tell herself, she couldn't let it go. "Call it a hunch, Lee. But my hunches are usually right."
Lee couldn't argue with that. "All right. If you say so." And he turned the 'Vette around.
A few minutes later they pulled into the vast parking lot at the stadium and got out of the car. "Looks deserted," Lee observed. He took Amanda's hand and together the headed for the entrance.
They were stealthily walking under the bleachers when Lee noticed the locker room door was open and the light was on. "Amanda," he whispered. "Go call Billy for backup. I think your hunch was right again." Amanda didn't answer. "Amanda?" Lee turned around to see her aiming a gun at him. "Hey, don't point that thing at me!" he hissed.
"Keep moving, Scarecrow," Amanda ordered with a glazed look in her eye and a dry monotone voice.
"Amanda, come on, what are you doing?" Lee probed. "Why are you aiming that gun at....."
"Into the locker room, now," Amanda droned, keeping the gun steady, like she had been taught.
Lee slowly turned and did as he was told. He wasn't sure what had happened to his wife but he was certain she wasn't in control of her own thoughts and actions. They entered the locker room and, sure enough, there sat Alexi on a bench. "Well done, Mrs. King. I knew you would not let me down," he sneered, getting up after loading his gun. Amanda sauntered over to Alexi and waited for her next order. "Mrs. King has been very helpful to me, Scarecrow. You should be proud."
"What have you done to her, Makarov?" Lee growled.
"Oh, I just gave her a little something to help her cooperate. She will do as I say. She considers you to be the enemy," Alexi smiled. "Now, Mrs. King, are you ready for the next step?"
Amanda nodded and raised her gun to Lee.
"Amanda, it's Lee. I am not the enemy," Lee tried to convince his wife, "Alexi has brainwashed you somehow. You don't know what you're doing. Amanda, you love me, you would never hurt me."
Alexi stood next to Amanda and smiled. "All right, Mrs. King. Kill him."
Lee dove for cover as he heard the first shot fired. He made a mental count of the number of shots he would hear. Amanda carried a revolver so Lee knew she had six bullets to use up. That was one. Lee pulled his gun from his holster and stood behind a row of lockers. He couldn't believe this was happening all over again. This time, however, he wasn't in a gun battle with Alexi, he was in it with his own wife. Amanda spun around the end locker and fired again, narrowly missing the top of Lee's head. 'Two,' Lee counted. From his hiding place he couldn't tell where Alexi was. He figured he had better take him out if he had a chance. Maybe then he would have a better chance of getting through to Amanda. Lee quickly side-stepped to the opposite end and listened for any breathing. He heard a foot shuffle briefly but couldn't be sure who it belonged to. He shot his head around the locker for a peek and ducked it back in before another bullet from Amanda's gun flew past. 'That's three,' he thought. 'Three more to go.'
Alexi's voice echoed through the locker room, "I could not have asked for a sweeter revenge on you, Scarecrow."
Lee couldn't tell which direction the voice was coming from. It seemed to bounce around the concrete room. "You're not going to get away with this, Alexi," he shouted back. "Amanda's not that good of a shot."
Alexi laughed. "It does not matter. Because I know you will not shoot her back, and eventually, her bullet will kill you."
While Lee was distracted with Alexi, Amanda crept around the lockers. Lee heard her footsteps and jumped out of her way but wasn't quick enough. Bullet number four caught him in the shoulder. "Damn!" he shouted while stumbling around another row of lockers. "Amanda!" he yelled again, still trying to reason. "Don't shoot! This is Lee, your husband. You are my wife. Please, stop shooting at me!"
"Husband? Wife?" Alexi's voice bellowed. "My how things change in such a short time."
Lee strained his ears to find the direction of the voice. He held his gun with one hand, favoring his bad right shoulder, and darted towards the showers. Amanda saw her chance and let loose another bullet. It skimmed past the front of his chest, tearing a hole in his shirt on the way by. 'One more bullet, Amanda, and you're out.'
Lee leaned on the shower wall to catch his breath before darting inside to look for Alexi. He was growing weak and was startled at the amount of blood soaking his shirt. 'I have to kill Alexi before Amanda kills me,' he thought. He figured he'd have his best chance of finding Alexi if he talked to him. "Alexi!" he shouted. "You should know by now that you can't win against us. Even without Amanda, I can kill you myself."
Alexi seemed to enjoy the taunting. "Your ego is going to be the end of you, Scarecrow," he laughed.
Lee thought he heard the voice was coming from the showers. He figured he'd better get him to say something else before he charged. "Amanda only has one bullet left, Alexi. Then she's out of firepower."
"Your Mrs. King is a better shot than you think. And how do you know she has no more firepower hiding somewhere?" he asked.
Lee was sure where the voice was now. As quickly as he could move his weak limbs he ran to the corner of the shower room, said a silent prayer, and spun around the wall to face his nemesis. Lee registered Alexi's startled face only momentarily before lodging his first bullet into his heart. "Good riddance," he whispered.
Lee's world was growing more and more hazy. He had trouble focusing and felt this overwhelming need to go to sleep. He shook his head, trying to release the fog in his mind and muster up enough strength to get to Amanda. He was taking a big breath and just turning around when he heard Amanda whisper., "Gotcha," and in a split decision, two simultaneous bullets criss-crossed in the air. Bullet number two, from Lee's revolver, stopped it's movement inside Amanda's lower abdomen and bullet number six, from Amanda's gun, buried itself deep in Lee's ribcage. Then the locker room fell silent.
Wednesday, 3:32 PM....
Billy Melrose was sitting in his office when his phone rang. "Melrose here," he answered. Billy listened as the Chief of Police informed him of the shooting.
"The janitor heard the shots and called us. We found your two agents unconscious and shot up pretty bad and one dead mystery man," Chief Jeffries explained.
"Where are my agents now?" Billy asked.
"At Galilee," Jeffries answered. "They were brought there about an hour ago."
"Thanks Jeffries," Billy stated and hung up the phone. "Damn!" Billy pounded his fist on the desktop.
He ran out of his office towards the elevator, telling Francine on the way. "Amanda and Lee have been shot," he said without stopping his stride.
Francine grabbed her purse and ran after Billy.
At the hospital, Billy and Francine were met by Dr. Scardelli. "Doctor, what can you tell us about Lee and Amanda?" Francine asked.
Dr. Scardelli led them to a private room and began to explain their condition. "Mrs. King was shot in the lower right side. The bullet tore through the small intestine and lodged itself in her Ilium, or pelvic bone. She's been in surgery for a while now and, assuming there are no unforeseen complications, she should make a full recover. It won't be overnight, but it should be complete. Mr. Stetson's injuries are a bit more serious. One bullet penetrated his right lung. He is also in surgery. His lung should heal in time, but there will be limited function in the affected area. Luckily he was hit in the lower lobe, which means he should have at least 85% lung capacity, which is more than enough to live on. Another bullet went straight through his shoulder and nicked the Cephalic vein. The bleeding from that vein is what concerns us the most. He lost a lot of blood at the scene and can't afford to lose much more. If the surgeons get that vein repaired, he too should make a full recovery."
Billy an Francine looked at each other. "What can you tell us about the third man?" Billy asked.
"He was never delivered here so you'll have to ask the police who were at the scene," the doctor explained. "Was he an agent as well?"
Billy shook his head. "Not that we know of. We have a hunch who it might have been but need a positive ID. Thanks you, Doctor, for talking to us. Will you please let us know as soon as Lee or Amanda are out of surgery?"
The doctor agreed and left the two agents alone.
"Who gets to call Mrs. West?" Francine asked quietly.
Billy sighed heavily and said, "I'll do it." Then got up to find a phone.
Twenty-five minutes later, Dotty, Philip and Jamie all burst into the hospital. "Amanda King?" she blurted at the front desk.
The nurse pointed to her left and said, "There is a waiting area around the corner. I'll send the doctor in to speak with you."
The trio walked down the hall and turned into the waiting room. Dotty immediately recognized Billy and beelined straight for him. "You! What's going on?! What happened? How is Amanda?"
Billy stood as soon as he was Amanda's mother enter the room. He had been mentally preparing for her questions for the past fifteen minutes. "Mrs. West, how nice to see you again. Your daughter will be fine. She's still in surgery but the doctor assured me that she should make a full recovery."
Dotty wasn't satisfied. "You still haven't told me what happened!"
"Mrs. West, I don't really know what happened," Billy tried to explain. "All I know is that one minute I'm sitting at my desk and the next I'm on the phone with the D.C. Chief of Police and he's telling me that two of my employees have been shot."
"Two!" Dotty exclaimed. "Who was the other one?"
Billy's shoulders sagged as he answered, solemnly, "Lee Stetson."
"No! Not Lee, too!" Philip cried before running out of the room.
"Philip!" Dotty cried after her grandson. "Philip!"
Billy and glanced back at Francine with a curious look on his face.
"Oh, Mr. Melrose, how is Lee doing?" Dotty asked, deciding to go after Philip in a minute.
"Lee was shot twice," Billy relayed the information he had heard from Dr. Scardelli not thirty minutes earlier. "Once in the shoulder and once in the chest. The doctor was worried about the bleeding but they had high hopes of a full recovery for him as well."
Francine joined the group by introducing herself. "Mrs. West? I'm Francine Desmond, I work with Amanda and Lee." The two ladies shook hands.
Dotty stared for a moment at Francine. "I'm sorry, Ms. Desmond, but you look awfully familiar. Have we met before?"
"Once or twice, if I recall correctly," Francine answered. "Uh, do you know Lee well?"
Dotty smiled. "Oh yes. Lee comes over often, well, being Amanda's new boyfriend and all, although I wouldn't really call them 'new' anymore, it's already been quite a few months," Dotty rambled. She didn't even notice the peculiar looks being exchanged between Francine and Billy.
Jamie nudged his grandmother's arm and said he was going to go find Philip. Dotty gave her permission and Jamie ran off, eager to leave the stifling feel of the waiting room.
Dotty took a seat on the vinyl couch and asked again, "How did this happen? Who could have shot them? Did it happen at work?"
Billy could only shake his head and reply, "I wish I could answer your questions, Mrs. West, but I have a few of them myself. Maybe after Lee and Amanda wake up we can ask them ourselves."
Just then Amanda's surgeon came into the waiting room. He removed his blue hat and sat everyone down. "Hello, I'm Dr. Jorgens and I'm Amanda's surgeon," he greeted, shaking hands with all three. "Amanda was shot in the lower abdomen, the bullet penetrated her small intestine and poked a small hole in her pelvis. We removed the bullet and the bone fragments and closed up the wound to the intestine. She is going to be very uncomfortable for a few weeks and on a special diet until the intestine can heal, but I expect she will make a full recovery."
Dotty released a long breath and thanked the doctor. "When can I see her?" she asked.
"Well," the doctor continued, "she was just wheeled into recovery and will be asleep for a few hours, if not all night. You might as well go home and I can call you when she wakes up."
Dotty gave the doctor her number but decided to stick around to see how Lee was doing before she headed home. A short while later Philip and Jamie reappeared. "Grandma?" Philip asked, obviously worried. "Has there been any word on mom and Lee?"
Dotty took Philip's hands in hers and answered, "Your mom is in recovery now and the surgeon just told us that she will make a full recovery. Lee is still in surgery, Philip, but I'm sure he is going to be just fine. They both will."
Jamie hung his head and asked, "Who shot them, Grandma?"
Dotty sighed at the pain her young grandsons must be going through. "I don't know, dear. I don't know."
Billy excused himself to make some phone calls and everyone else sat down to wait for word on Lee. Billy thought he'd call Chief Jeffries to see if he had any more information as to what had happened at the stadium.
"Chief Jeffries? This is Billy Melrose," he stated. "I thought maybe you could tell me what the hell happened today."
"Billy, I wish I knew," he tried to explain. "When we got to the scene there was one man dead and two injured, as you already know. The part we can't figure out is who was battling who. The gun we found by the woman had fired all of it's rounds. The pistol by your other agent had fired two. But the gun we found on the dead body was fully loaded. It almost appears that your agents were shooting at each other."
Billy shook his head in disbelief. "Jeffries, that doesn't make any sense. Why would they try to hurt each other?"
"That's what we'd like to know, Billy," Jeffries replied. "You just let me know when they're awake so we can ask them some questions."
Billy decided he didn't want the police involved anymore. "Listen, Jeffries, I appreciate all you've done so far. Thanks you for getting my people the help they needed, but this is agency business now. I'll take it from here."
Jeffries wasn't too happy about Billy's decision but he know it was his to make. "All right then, but promise me one thing."
"What's that?" Billy asked.
"That you'll let me know what happens because I'm real damned curious!"
Billy shook his head and replied, "We'll see, Jeffries." Then he hung up the phone so he could call the morgue.
He dialed the all too familiar number and identified himself. They confirmed that a gunshot victim had been taking there within the past hour and described him to Billy. Billy said he would send someone down shortly to identify him, if he could. Then he sat back down in the waiting room to continue his vigil.
Some two hours later a weary surgeon in blood spattered scrubs walked slowly in. Everyone stood at attention at his arrival. "Are you Lee Stetson's family?" the doctor asked.
Billy spoke first, "Lee has no family, but we're his closest friends."
The doctor sat, gesturing to the seats next to him and everyone followed suit. "Lee sustained a serious wound to his shoulder. He had lost a lot of blood before getting him into surgery and his blood pressure was dangerously low. We gave him blood and sewed up the damaged vein. We also cleaned the wound from the second bullet, and repaired his lung as best we could. He will be on a ventilator to help him breath until the swelling in his lung goes down. It can be anywhere from a few hours to a day or so. He has a rough road ahead of him. But I think, with time, he should recover from his injuries."
The doctor answered a barrage of questions and then stood to leave. "He should be asleep for the rest of the night. I'll call you when he wakes up."
They thanked the surgeon for talking with them and then he left.
Francine whispered softly in Billy's ear, "I had better go see our friend at the morgue. I'll call you if it's not Alexi." Billy nodded his approval and Francine said her good-byes. "Mrs. West, boys, I have to go. I want to say how wonderful it has been to meet all of you, again. I'm sure that Amanda and Lee will be just fine."
The next afternoon.....
Amanda opened her eyes, trying to adjust to the fluorescent light above her head. "Lee," she whispered.
"Oh, Amanda, you're awake!" she hear her mother's voice penetrate her eardrums. Amanda winced at the intrusion.
Dotty noticed and toned her voice down to a whisper, "Oh, I'm sorry dear. I'm just so happy you're awake. How are you feeling?"
Amanda looked around and realized she was in a hospital bed. She immediately felt the pain in her abdomen and all of the memories from the day before came flooding back. Terror crossed her eyes and she tried to sit up. "Lee! Oh my gosh, Lee!"
Dotty tried to lay her daughter back down on the bed, "Amanda...Amanda, lay back down. You've been shot and you need to rest!"
Amanda wouldn't hear of it. "Mother, where's Lee! I have to find Lee!" She began reaching for wires and lines, anything she could disconnect to get her off that bed and to her Lee.
"Doctor!" Dotty shouted, pushing the red emergency button on Amanda's bed. "Doctor, come quick!"
Two nurses burst through the door and took control. One nurse gently rubbed Amanda's face and said soothing words to get her to relax while the other gently but firmly laid her back into the bed and fixed the IV line she had all but torn out of her arm.
"I need to see Lee," Amanda cried, "Why won't anyone let me see him?!"
"Amanda," Dotty soothed, "Lee is going to be fine. He was hurt but he'll recover. Now, why don't you just let the nurses take care of you and I'll go see how he's going."
Amanda calmed down and closed her eyes. A stray tear rolled down her cheek which worried Dotty even more than her outburst. She hustled out of the room to check on Lee, like she had promised. She shut Amanda's door behind her and ran right into Billy.
"Mrs. West, is Amanda all right?" he asked. "I heard her screaming from the next room."
"Oh, Mr. Melrose," she cried, "Amanda just woke up in a panic about Lee. She pulled out her IV and tried to get off of that bed to find him. I told her that he was going to be all right and she settled down some but she was crying when I left."
Billy frowned. "Do you mind if I talk to her?"
Dotty shook her head and allowed him entrance to Amanda's room.
Billy saw Amanda looking defeated on her bed and asked the nurses to leave. He pulled up a chair to her bedside and whispered her name. "Amanda? Amanda, it's Billy. Will you talk to me, please?"
Amanda opened her eyes and wiped away her tears. "How is Lee?" she asked.
"Lee will be fine. Can you tell me what happened?" Billy asked, hoping she was ready to talk.
Fresh tears formed in Amanda's eyes as she began to speak. "I shot Lee."
Billy prodded for more information. "Why?"
Amanda turned away from Billy so he couldn't see her cry and replied softly, "I remember it all. The flat tire, Alexi, the pills, the phone calls. I didn't realize what I was doing. He told me to kill Lee."
Billy leaned closer to Amanda and whispered, "Go on."
Amanda took a deep breath and told the whole story, softly and slowly. "I was on my way to work when I got a flat tire. I got out to change it and that's when Alexi appeared. He held a gun to my head and made me go with him. He tied me up and drove me to a small house in Georgetown. While we were there he gave me a shot of something in my arm. The next thing I know I'm in my Jeep and the tire is changed. I thought I had done it myself. He must have hypnotized me or something. I drove to work as if nothing had happened. The next morning I was getting ready for work when I suddenly remembered something Alexi had told me to do. I went in my purse and took one of the pills he had given me. He told me to take one every morning and I obeyed like a puppet. I was so stupid." Amanda closed her eyes in silent disgust with herself. Her voice was growing tired as she continued. "Then when I would leave for work he would call me on the car phone you gave me. We met a couple of times. He would tell me over and over again that Lee was the enemy and that he was going to die. Yesterday afternoon I was looking at the clock and when it changed to one o'clock, I went into a sort of autopilot. He had told me to take Lee to the stadium at that time so I came up with some story to get Lee to go there. Once we were there I knew it was my job to kill him. We fought in the locker room. I remember shooting at him. I got him in the shoulder but he was still alive, so I kept at it. I heard Lee take a shot and, in my state of mind, figured it was for me, which made me want to obey Alexi even more. I finally had him cornered in the showers and when he turned around.....I pulled the trigger again. That's the last thing I remember." Amanda's cheeks were soaked with her tears. She was growing so tired and was having trouble staying awake. "Sir, how is Lee, really?" her scratchy voice asked.
Billy squeezed Amanda's hand and replied with a slight smile, "Lee is going to be just fine, Amanda."
Amanda's eyes were crossing from exhaustion. She was mad at herself for what she had done. "I can't believe I did this," she whispered as she was falling asleep. "I can't believe I shot my own husband."
Billy's eyebrows raised and a faint smile danced across his lips. "Well, I'll be damned." he whispered.
An hour later Billy was sitting in Lee's room. Lee looked better than he had that morning. The doctor had taken his ventilator out. Billy took that as a good sign. Billy was reading a magazine when Lee finally regained consciousness. He opened his eyes and turned towards Billy. Obviously trying to assess where he was and why.
"Hello, Lee," Billy greeted, getting up to stand by Lee's bed. "How are you feeling?"
Lee took a deep breath and grimaced. "I hurt," he said through clenched teeth.
"I imagine you would," Billy smiled. "You were shot twice."
"Where's Amanda," Lee asked with his eyes shut.
"Amanda is in the next room and she's going to be fine. She already told me what happened."
Lee opened his eyes again. "Did I shoot her?" he asked with a guilty expression.
Billy knew Lee was feeling troubled but he couldn't help but smile as he said, "Yes, but she shot you first."
Lee wasn't humored. "Why was she listening to him, Billy?" Lee asked. "What did he do to her to get her to obey him and not me? God it hurts to breath."
Billy explained Lee's injuries to him and then recapped Amanda's story. "It all makes sense now. She was under his control with those drugs. She had no idea what she was doing to you. She's tearing herself apart over this, you know. You should have seen her when she first woke up. She remembered it all right away and tore out her IV trying to get to you. We got her calmed down and that's when she told me everything that happened."
"I need to see her," Lee choked.
"Not now, Lee," Billy said, placing a caring hand on Lee's arm. "She's fast asleep. You know, Amanda said the most peculiar thing just before she dozed off."
Lee eyed his boss curiously and asked, "What did she say?"
Billy smiled a big toothy grin and replied, "She said, 'I can't believe I shot my own husband.' " Billy read Lee's facial expressions and asked, "Is there, ah, anything you wanted to tell me, Lee?"
Lee smiled briefly before replying, "I think I need to talk to Amanda first."
"Okay, Lee. But I look forward to hearing your explanation," Billy smiled. "Listen, when Amanda wakes up, I'll see if it's okay with the nurses for her to come see you. I know she needs to make sure you're all right. Oh, and if you have any energy left, you might want to call Amanda's boys. They were pretty shaken up when they heard that you two were hurt. Especially Philip."
Lee grew concerned. "Those boys have been through so much. I'll call."
Billy said goodbye to Lee and before leaving for the Agency he stopped off at the nurses station. "Nurse?" he asked, "If the doctor says it's okay, could you please wheel Mrs. King in to see Mr. Stetson when she wakes up? I think it would do her a world of good." The nurse agreed and Billy left for his office.
Back at the agency, loose ends were being tied up. Alexi's body had been positively identified, the drug he had used on Amanda had been analyzed and they determined that there would be no long term effects, and Francine had begun the report that would finally close the book on Alexi Makarov. All they needed to do was debrief Lee and Amanda and then they could all put Alexi in their past.
Later that evening at the hospital, Dotty and the boys said goodbye to Amanda after spending a short half hour visiting. They all left in good spirits knowing that she and Lee would be okay. After her family left, Amanda buzzed the nurse and asked if she could finally be wheeled into Lee's room. The nurse agreed and brought in a wheelchair. It took a few minutes to get Amanda transferred to the chair and the wires and lines neatly hooked to an IV pole. The nurse began to turn the chair out the door when Amanda asked for a moment to catch her breath first. "I don't want him to see me so exhausted," she grimaced. After closing her eyes and calming down her pounding heart she signaled the nurse to continue.
Lee heard a knock on his door and said, in a raspy voice, "Come in."
The nurse popped her head in first. "You have a visitor, Mr. Stetson."
"Amanda?" Lee asked, with some newfound strength.
The nurse rolled Amanda as close to Lee's bed as she could, then left to give them some privacy.
Amanda leaned her forehead on the back of Lee's hand and whispered, "Oh, Lee. I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry."
Lee stroked the back of her hair and whispered, "Hey, don't be sorry, Amanda. You didn't want to do this. You had no control over your actions. It was all Alexi, Amanda. He did this, not you. I'm just sorry I had to hurt you."
Amanda raised her head and choked through her tears, "I've always watched your back. I've always taken care of you. Now I've hurt you. Oh, I don't know what I would have done if I had actually killed you. I wouldn't be able to live with myself. Lee, I'm so sorry I did this. Please forgive me."
Lee's eyes were tearing up at the sight of his wife so distraught. "Shhh...Amanda, it's over. It's all over now. Alexi is gone but you and I are very much alive. We beat him. We still have each other, Amanda. Let's just move ahead with our lives. I love you, Amanda. Please stop crying."
Amanda tried to get out of her chair so she could be closer to Lee but she just didn't have the strength. Instead, she kissed his hand and held it to her cheek. "Lee, when we get out of here, I want you living with me. I don't care what Dr. Smyth says or what the rest of the world might think, I just want you by my side. I don't ever want to look back at the time we wasted being apart when we should have been together."
Lee smiled at his wife and let out a small chuckle.
"What's so funny?" Amanda asked.
"Amanda," he began, "Billy told me the funniest thing today. He said that while you were falling asleep earlier you had whispered that you couldn't believe you shot your own husband."
Amanda's eyes grew wide. "I didn't!"
"You did," Lee smiled. "He asked me about it but I brushed him off. I think he deserves to be told first, don't you?"
Amanda closed her eyes and let out a heavy sigh. "I would go right now and shout it off the rooftop for everyone to hear, if I had the strength to get out of this chair."
Lee stroked her cheek and started to get drowsy. "Mrs. Stetson, will you stay with your husband for a while until he falls asleep?"
Amanda laid her head on the side of his bed, keeping his hand near her cheek and whispered, "I'd love to Mr. Stetson." And five minutes later the nurse found them fast asleep with the remnant of a smile still on their lips.
Late the next morning, Billy was walking down the hospital corridor with a bouquet of flowers and a bottle of wine. He turned the corner towards his agents rooms when he saw a nurse wheeling Amanda in to see Lee. Amanda grew a smile at the sight of Billy and his gifts.
"Good morning, Amanda. These are for you," he smiled, holding out the boquet of red roses.
"Oh sir, they're lovely!" Amanda gushed. "Thank you very much. Would you mind putting them on the table next to my bed? I'm about to go in to see Lee. You're welcome to join us."
Billy placed the flowers in Amanda's room and went to join his friends. He opened Lee's door just as the nurse was excusing herself. "Good morning, Lee. Here's a little something from Francine and me." He handed Lee the bottle of wine.
"Wow, thanks Billy," Lee smiled, admiring the gift. "Maybe when I get out of this joint you and Amanda and I will get together for a drink."
Billy sat down next to Amanda and got right to the point of his visit. "So, you two, I assume you have some news for me?" Billy was looking from Lee to Amanda and back to Lee with a very expectant look on his face.
Lee spoke first. "Alright, Billy. We'll tell."
Billy smiled and sat back comfortably in his chair.
"I'm sure it's no secret that Amanda and I have been together for some time," Lee began.
Billy kept on nodding and smiling, enjoying hearing Lee's story.
"Well, we started dating a long time ago. We didn't get serious until the Stemwinder fiasco. Then I proposed when I found Amanda with Birol and we were married after the Grant case."
Billy sat forward in his seat and asked, "And was there some particular reason you had to keep this a secret?"
Amanda took a turn at explaining. "You see, sir, we were afraid that if we went public with the marraige my, our, family would be in danger. And then there's Dr. Smyth."
"Dr. Smyth?" Billy questioned.
"Ya, Billy," Lee finished. "If Dr. Smyth ever learns of our marraige, we're pretty sure he'll split us up."
"I'm very happy for the both of you," Billy congratulated. "I always knew Amanda would be good for you, Lee. And as far as Dr. Smyth is concerned, I'm sure I have a few favors I could call in in Washington to overrule any decision he might make. Don't worry about him."
Lee and Amanda both looked relieved. Happy, finally, to have been able to tell Billy about their marraige and relieved to know that Dr. Smyth probably won't be a problem.
"Billy," Lee asked, "what do we do about Amanda's mother and the boys? They could be targets. We need to keep them safe."
Billy crossed his arms in thought. "Well, Jeannie and I have managed just fine. Our girls were told of my profession when they were about Jamie's and Philip's ages. We took them to some self defense classes and got a security system on the house. We haven't had any problems. I think it would be worth it to tell your family and get all of this out in the open. Besides, anyone who might want to get to Lee could use Amanda's family anyway just because you two are partners. They might be safer with Lee under the same roof. I know this may be hard to understand, but your family will be better off if they DO know what you two do. At least then they could be prepared."
Amanda and Lee looked at each other wearily. "He's right," Amanda stated. "We need to tell them. We need to tell them all of it."
Lee nodded and sqeezed Amanda's hand. "We'll tell them today. No sense in waiting any longer. Thanks for talking to us, Billy. We should have come to you a long time ago."
"I'm glad I could help," Billy smiled. "Listen, I need to get going. I expect your family will be coming for a visit today. If they have any questions for me they are welcome to call. I'll tell them anything they need to know, as long as it doesn't unterfere with national security." He bid Lee and Amanda a good day and left for the Agency.
Amanda and Lee both sighed and held each others hands tightly. They had a lot of explaining to do when Dotty and the boys showed up and although they were happy to finally come clean about their lives, they were more nervous than anything. Amanda assumed that her mother would be hurt when she learns she was kept in the dark about their marraige but she was quite sure that she would be hysterical when she found out that Amanda was a federal agent. Her only child. The mother of her grandchildren. A den mother and PTA member...and...a federal agent. Yes, Dotty was going to blow her top.
Two hours later, Dotty sat with her arms folded across her chest and her lips pursed. Her foot was bouncing wildly and she was glaring right at Lee.
"Mother?" Amanda asked, "Mother, are you okay? You haven't said a word in over five minutes."
Lee was shifting nervously under her gaze. 'She blames me,' Lee thought, reading her face. 'My mother-in-law hates me. I wish she would say something.'
Dotty shifted her eyes to Amanda and said in a stern voice, "I don't believe you."
"We're not lying to you, mother," Amanda defended.
"Amanda, put yourself in my shoes for a moment," Dotty continued. "You've told me so many stories over the past five years that I just don't know what to believe anymore. All this time I believed you worked for a documentary film company. IFF, International Federal Film, and now you are telling me that it doesn't really exist? That you're some kind of spy? And you've had this secret husband for, how long did you say? Honestly Amanda, you've come up with some doozies over the years but this...THIS one takes the cake!"
Lee took a turn. "I'm sure you have some questions for us..."
"Questions!?," Dotty inturrupted, obviously angry now, "You bet I have questions. For starters, Amanda, let's say I do believe you for argument's sake, just how did you get all mixed up in this spy business? How many times have you been shot at or in any kind of mortal danger, and are we in danger because of you? Why couldn't you trust me with this information from the start? Where do you really go when you disappear for days and then tell me you were on location and didn't have access to a phone? Is there really an editing room? Does this little profession of yours have anything to do with you getting shot in California?" Dotty turned her attention to Lee now. "And YOU! What were you thinking, seducing a mother of two boys when you lead such a dangerous life? How did you think you could protect them? Why, I would think just having you in our house would put us all in danger! Any while we're on the subject of getting hurt, could someone please tell me what REALLY happened to the two of you on Thursday?!"
Amanda was growing angry. Did her mother just accuse Lee of 'seducing' her? Of being careless and thoughtless in getting involved in their lives? "Mother, if you would calm down I can explain all of it."
Dotty closed her eyes for a moment and took a deep breath. She smoothed her blouse and placed her hands in her lap. "I'm listening."
Amanda looked at Lee for encouragement and began, "First of all. Don't blame Lee for any of this. I chose to get involved with the Agency and with Lee. The reason I couldn't tell you is a bit complicated but let's see if I can make you understand. Working for the Agency is a very secretive way of life. There are a number of things and people that you just can't know about for reasons of national security, and for your own safety. I'm sorry for all the times I would disappear and not contact you but you have to understand, I did the best I could. So many times I would get caught up in a case and there would be no way to call you. No way to get a message to you. Yes, I've been in mortal danger more times than I can count but do you know who always got me out of it? Lee. He has protected me from the start and now that I'm a full fledged agent in my own right, I can get myself out of trouble as well. I'm actually quite good at my job. As far as Lee and I are concerned, we've been in love for a very, very long time and married just over nine months ago. We couldn't tell you about that, either, because of concerns at work. We were certain that if our boss, Dr. Smyth, found out, he'd sepparate us and we wouldn't be able to work together anymore. You see, there are rules about getting personally involved with your partner. We also feared for your safety and for the safety of the boys. This morning we spoke with Mr. Melrose, who has a wife and children of his own and he made us realize that we could live together as a family and still be safe. It would take a little work, but nothing you and the boys can't handle. And he also made me understand that we'd all be better off with Lee living with us rather than across town where he can't protect us."
"Okay," Dotty spoke. "You still haven't answered two of my questions. Does your job have anything to do with you being shot in California?"
"No, mother," Amanda answered, "I really was in the wrong place at the wrong time."
Dotty nodded and continued her questioning. "Alright, now for my other question. I think I deserve to know what happened to you to get you both hurt so badly on Thursday."
Lee watched the pain and guilt return to Amanda's eyes and decided he couldn't put her through having to tell the painful story again. "I can answer that," he said. "It actually begins over two years ago. A Russian by the name of Alexi Makarov was released from prison and came to the U.S. to seek revenge. Revenge on me. You see, I was the one who put him in that prison nine years prior. When he returned, he framed me to make me look like a traitor. Amanda was my partner and friend so she got caught up in it as well."
"Was that when you two went into hiding and that Mr. Melrose fellow was in my house?" Dotty asked.
"Yes, that's when. Anyway, he tried to kill me but Amanda helped me out of that one and he was returned to prison. Well, he escaped a couple of weeks ago and this time he returned to get the both of us."
"So he shot you both?" Dotty questioned, assuming the answer would be yes.
"Actually....," Lee continued, not sure how much Amanda really wanted her mother to know. "Amanda?"
"Go on, Lee," She whispered. "Tell her all of it."
Lee looked back to Dotty and continued, "On Monday, Amanda left for work as usual, only Alexi was following her. He shot at her tire so it would go flat. When she got out to change it he took her to his house in Georgetown. He drugged her, brainwashed her, and let her go. For the next two mornings Amanda was on some drugs that Alexi had made her take. These drugs made her obey him. She didn't know what she was doing. On Thursday, we were out looking for a contact when she told me to go to the stadium. The stadium was where we had captured Alexi two years ago. I listened to Amanda because she has wonderful instincts. When we got there, Amanda pulled a gun on me. A fight broke out. She shot me in the shoulder. I killed Alexi, then, before I could even register what was happening, we had shot each other. We woke up here. At the time, Amanda didn't remember seeing Alexi at all. She only remembered it after she woke up from surgery."
Dotty had covered her mouth with her hand in shock. "Oh, I don't like this at all. Not only do I have to worry about some madman out there shooting at you but I also have to worry about you shooting each other?!"
Amanda shook her head. "Mother, this was the first time in history that any agents have shot each other. I'm pretty sure it won't ever happen again."
Dotty stood up and walked to the window. She crossed her arm in front of her and looked outiside. "Is there anything I can say that would convince the two of you to get out of the spy business?" she asked.
Amanda wished she could get out of that wheelchair to be with her mother. "Mother, Lee and I love our jobs and we're very good at what we do. We're making this world a safer place for you and for the boys. We can't leave it. I'm sorry, mother."
Dotty returned to her chair and said in a defeated voice, "Well, I guess I can't ask you to be any less than you are. Just promise me that you'll be VERY careful out there. Not that I don't love the boys and love taking care of them, but I really don't want to be their mother.....OR father," she added looking at Lee.
"I promise to take the best care of Amanda," Lee stated. "We really are a good team."
Sensing the end of the conversation, Dotty rose again and gave her daughter a hug. "Alright, Amanda. I'll need some time to absorb all of this and I may seem a little distant for the next few days but know that I'm here for you and that you can tell me anything." She stepped over to Lee's bedside and leaned closer to his face. She placed a hand on his cheek and said in a motherly voice, "Welcome to the family, Lee. I know the boys are going to be thilled when they hear about you marrying their mother. And please...PLEASE take care of my daughter."
"I will. I promise," Lee answered in a scratchy voice.
Dotty said she'd bring the boys in and left Lee and Amanda alone for a moment. Amanda hung her head and whispered, "Well, I guess that could have gone worse."
"Yeah," Lee offered, "Let's just cross our fingers that the boys take it well."
Just then, Philip and Jamie bounced into the room. "Hi," they both said in unison.
"Grandma said you wanted to talk to us about something?" Jamie asked.
Amanda gestured to the big lounge chair and said, "Have a seat, boys." The boys sat down with concern and curiosity written all over their faces.
Amanda opened her mouth to speak but Lee beat her to it. "Boys, I was wondering if it would be alright for me to marry your mother."
Amanda looked at Lee in shock. After all, they already were married. Wasn't that what they were really going to tell them?
Philip and Jamie didn't sense any of the tension that had been in the room earlier and gave each other a wicked grin. "Sure," Philip spoke first. "But there are some things you will need to agree to first."
"Anything," Lee answered.
"Well, first of all," Jamie stated in a business like tone, "we want our bedtime moved to ten o'clock."
"What!?" Amanda gasped.
Lee shot Amanda a surprised look.
"Yeah," Philip continued, "we can tell how much mom respects you so we know that if you tell her to move our bedtime, she will."
Amanda and Lee were speachless.
"No more green beans with supper," Jamie commanded. "And we get to watch two hours of TV each night instead of just one."
"There's more," Philip said, "we will need a bigger house. One with a huge yard with a lot of trees to climb and room for a baseball field."
"Don't forget the pool," Jamie added.
"And horses," Philip quipped. "Definitely horses."
Lee and Amanda sat in stunned silence. Neither one made a sound until they noticed the stifled giggles coming from the seated duo.
"Oh, I get it..." Lee sighed, chuckling softly. He wasn't really sure if he actually did get it but he wasn't going to show how truly dumbfounded he really was.
Philip and Jamie were rolling hysterically by now. "We got you good, Lee!" Philip managed to say through his laughter.
"Yeah," Jamie chimed, "you should see the look on your face!"
Amanda grew a large grin and shook her head at her boys. "I take it me marrying Lee is alright with you?" she asked.
"It's fine," Philip said, still laughing loudly.
"Good," Lee commented, wondering if he was even being heard. "Because I already did."
The mischiefmakers fell silent. Now it was Lee's turn to laugh.
Lee and Amanda had now told Dotty, Billy, Philip and Jamie about their secret marraige. That only left one person...Francine. They had asked Billy not to tell her because they wanted to do it in person. Lee knew that Francine was going to be stopping by that same day for a visit on her lunch break. "How are we going to tell Francine?" Lee asked. "Are we going to be nice or are we going to be tricky about it? You know, this would be a great opportunity for us to get back at all the snide remarks she has made to you and to us over the years."
Amanda pursed her lips in thought. "Hmmm," she said. "That is a very good question. How about if we..." Amanda filled Lee in on her plan.
Lee laughed out loud and rubbed his hands together wickedly. "Oooh, this is going to be fun!" he said.
Some time later, Amanda was peaking her head out the door, watching for Francine. "Here she comes!" she whispered, wheeling herself back to Lee's bedside. Just as Francine was approaching the room they bagan talking in loud voices. "Amanda!," Lee said, "I don't like pink sheets! The last time the department store had a sale on sheets I asked you to buy something a little more...a little more masculine. I'm tired of sleeping on pink sheets. Did you know that every single set of sheets we have are pink?"
Francine stopped just outside the door to listen.
"I know, Lee. I meant to buy some that weren't pink but that's the only color they had left," Amanda answered. "You forget that I was single for five years before I had someone sleeping in my bed again. I guess I just liked pink sheets so that's what I bought. You must admit, they do match our room rather nicely."
'Our room,' Francine mouthed silently.
"Oh, about our room," Lee continued to argue. "I've been a good sport about it but I think we need to make some changes in there. It's not just your room anymore and to be honest, I don't think the lacey doilies and foo-fooey comforters are really my style. Can't we compromise? We could get, oh, say...white sheets, and a new blue comforter, but baby blue to have a slight touch of femininity to it. And we can get some normal looking plaid curtains. The ones you have in the boys' room are nice."
Amanda was having a hard time stifling her laugh and the smile on Lee's face wasn't helping. "Lee," she stated in a fake stern voice, "You have been sleeping in my bed for nine months, why are you telling me all of this now?"
"Well, because, Amanda," he argued. "The boys are going to think their step-dad has gone soft if I continue to sleep in a bedroom right out of a Woman's Day magazine!"
'STEP DAD!' Francine gasped, holding her hand over her mouth.
"Woman's Day?!" Amanda countered. "What do you want me to do, MR. STETSON? Hang up posters of biker chicks and Harley's?"
"Well, it wouldn't hurt, MRS. STETSON, to have a little touch of masculinity in there," Lee practically shouted. "After all, it's my bedroom, too!"
Just then, the door burst open and there stood a stunned Francine. "It's a damned good thing I'm in a hospital right now," she said, pointing her finger at Lee and Amanda. "Because I think I'm about to faint! Now, I know I heard what you were arguing about but I'm not sure I believe it. Lee? Did you just say something about being a step-dad? And then there was that thing about sleeping in Amanda's bed for nine months. OH! Don't forget the part where you called each other MR. and MRS. STETSON!!" Francine stared at them, obviously expecting an explaination.
Lee and Amanda both smiled, enjoying the look on Francine's face. "Francine," Amanda began in a sugary voice, "It's so nice of you to stop by!"
"Can it, Amanda," she spit. "Now, I want you two to spill your guts. Come on. Spill."
"Alright, Francine. We're sorry," Lee appologized "We had planned on telling you today but we thought we'd have a little fun with you first."
Francine crossed her arms and said, "Go on."
"Lee and I got married," Amanda stated.
Francine was still expressionless. "Well, that much is obvoius. May I ask when?" she asked.
"Nine months ago," Lee said, his voice rising as if it were a question.
"Well," Francine huffed. "It's nice to know I'm in the loop."
"Francine, we wanted to tell you," Amanda explained. "We wanted to tell everyone. We just didn't think it would be safe."
"So, what changed?" Francine asked.
"Well," Lee answered. "A lot of things. We got tired of hiding it. We almost died, more than once. Billy told us we were cheating ourselves by keeping it a secret. And, I want to be a bigger part of Philip and Jamie's lives. It's really pretty simple."
Francine stood quietly for a moment. Then she stood up straight, put on a fake smile and said, "Congratulations to you both. I hope you two are very happy." Francine turned to leave but mumbled, under her breath on the way out, "I wish I could be a fly on the wall when Dr. Smyth catches wind of this."
Amanda and Lee smiled at each other, knowing full well that Dr. Smyth couldn't bother them now.
Two weeks later, Amanda and Lee were released from the hospital. Francine and Billy met them at 4247 Maplewood Drive with a 'Welcome Home' banner and a moving truck full of Lee's belongings from his apartment. "Just tell us where to put them and we'll help you move in," Billy smiled.
Lee and Amanda spent the rest of the afternoon sitting on the couch and directing the 'movers'. At dinnertime, Billy ordered Chinese for everyone and they all enjoyed the happy homecoming party. Amanda was finishing up her rice, not yet ready to eat the Seschuan beef Billy had ordered, and smiling softly at her own thoughts.
"Penny for your thoughts, Mrs. Stetson," he inquired.
"I was just thinking about how nice this is," she answered. "Finally being able to join the two halves of my life, the Agency and my family. Things are going to be so much easier from now on."
Lee kissed Amanda on her forehead and whispered, "They certainly are, Amanda. They certainly are."
SMK...ALL THE WAY!!!