Summary: Coming home leads to a scary lesson.
Timeline: Early season 4 (The initial thought for this came from “No Thanks for the Memories”. Lee’s asking for more of Amanda’s attention, and he is very insistant. I’d put it just after that.)
Disclaimer: Charlie stole fizzy-lifting drinks, he was supposed
to get nothing. Nothing is what I get for writing. The characters and setting
in Scarecrow and Mrs. King are the sole property of Shoot the Moon Enterprises
and Warner Brothers.
“Hello, beautiful.” A soft voice whispered in her ear.
She turned, already beaming with pleasure. “Lee! When did you get back? Why didn’t you let me know you would be back this soon?”
Lee was grinning as he pulled her into the cross corridor. Continuing to hold her hand he led her down the hall past several empty rooms and stepped into a doorway. “I wanted to surprise you.” He leaned in stopping only when his chest lightly bumped into hers. “Miss me?”
Amanda glanced around, the corridor seemed to be empty, but you could never be too careful, she backed up against the closed door trying to give them at least some privacy. “Of course I did.” She lowered her guard and placing a hand against his neck, let her thumb stroke his jaw. “Really missed you.”
Lee was grinning seductively. “Prove it.” Closing the scant distance between them, he kissed her hungrily.
Amanda melted into the kiss without hesitation. For one long moment she allowed herself to experience the full effect of his touch. Suddenly, she remembered just where they were. With a guilty start, she pulled away from him. “Lee, are you crazy! Someone could see us.”
Lee wasn’t so easily put off, grabbing the door handle at her hip he pushed the door open and guided her into the empty room. “Just one more.” He didn’t wait for a response, but instead wrapped his arm around her and pulled her fully against him. His mouth sought hers, and telling herself to take the risk, Amanda responded.
She stopped only when a deep moan threatened to escape her throat. Grinning wickedly as she pulled away, she gave him a token scolding. “At least wait until we’re upstairs and can lock the door.” She took a look around trying to figure out which room they were in. The room looked fairly empty, but she got the definite sense that someone was or had been there. She glanced around trying to find out what was tipping her off, but could see nothing but a few chairs a table and a video camera. “This place looks like someone is using it. I’d hate to be caught.”
Lee nodded with acceptance, “Ok, let’s go.” He grabbed her hand and heading back into the hallway began to lead her back down the way they had come.
Amanda stopped him. “I’d love to, but I can’t. There’s a staff meeting in,” she paused to look at her watch. “Good grief, in two minutes. Come on.” This time she grabbed his hand and began pulling him toward the bullpen.
Lee allowed himself to be led along, but he began to pout with practiced sincerity. “I don’t want to go to the staff meeting. I want to be alone with you. I haven’t seen you in three days.”
Amanda smiled almost smugly. “That will be great, but I have a presentation to make. You can sit there and distract me.”
“Distract you? How?”
Amanda grunted, “Be there.”
Lee’s grin grew broader.
As they entered the bullpen and made their way toward the briefing room Francine sidled up beside the pair who were still holding hands. “My, my, isn’t this cute. You two look awfully attached.”
Amanda grimaced at their lack of thinking. Not bothering to turn and look at Francine she made up an excuse. “Our traveling hero here was trying to ditch the meeting. I thought I’d make sure he was in attendance.”
Francine eyed the hungry look on Lee’s face; he hadn’t taken his eyes off Amanda. “Uh-huh. Well, you better hurry, Billy’s ready to start.”
The trio entered the room to find a full complement of agents waiting. “Good afternoon, Sir.” Amanda greeted Billy Melrose. “Sorry to be so late coming in.”
Billy smiled; Amanda always seemed to brighten his mood. “No problem. I see you found our wandering Scarecrow.”
Lee grimaced. “Why does everyone keep calling me that? You ordered me out of town, remember.”
Billy looked amused at the discomfort of his supposed lone wolf. “Relax,
I was only joking.” Nodding toward the remaining chairs at the front of
the room in invitation, he raised his voice to bring the room to quiet.
“Alright, people, let’s get started.”
Amanda tried to ignore the hazel eyes, but it was impossible, she knew that look. “It’s your fault”, she told herself. “You brought him in here”. She concentrated on the list of names and numbers Mr. Melrose had asked her to present; that seemed to help.
What is he thinking about? Never mind! That question only opened a bevy of decidedly distracting thoughts. Concentrate! “Argentina 1,569 incidents… Chile 793 incidents… South America total’s a 25% increase.”
He was smiling again. “Don’t look.” She warned herself, “Don’t look into those eyes. Don’t, you’ll be sorry, Amanda.” She looked anyway. “Damn, could he be more gorgeous?” She felt her cheeks growing warm. “Concentrate, Amanda!” She scolded herself, “you are not 16, grow up.” Grow up, hell that was the problem. The thoughts that kept interrupting her were not anything if not grown up.
She froze, what had she been saying? Oh yes, the Western Hemisphere. Where had she left off? Canada! Shaking off the distraction sitting in front of her she focused on what she was saying to the rest of the room. “And, in conclusion: Activity in the Western Hemisphere is split 40/60 North and South. Estimates from central intelligence project an overall 30% increase over last year.”
Amanda nearly slumped into her chair such was her relief at having made it though the presentation. She didn’t even listen as Mr. Melrose stood and began wrapping up.
Lee leaned over innocently, “Nice job.”
She glared at him searching for a reason to scold his behavior.
He looked surprised. “What?”
She sighed, trying not to give him a goofy smile half the Agency would see. “Nothing, I was just a little distracted.”
Lee looked up noticing everyone else seemed to be headed out the door. “I believe you promised me a private briefing upstairs.”
“I do recall something like that.”
Again taking her hand Lee led her toward the exit.
“Amanda,” Francine called from the briefing room door. “I wanted to talk to you about some upcoming training.”
Amanda waved her free hand in dismissal. ”Later, Francine.”
Noting the crowd in the hall Lee turned to the left. “Let’s go up the back way.” Increasing his speed they quickly moved into the more deserted areas of the Agency.
“If we start running someone is going to notice.”
“You seem awfully reckless today.” Amanda chided. “It’s flattering, but not very smart.”
Lee opened the door to the Georgetown foyer and guided her onto the stairs to the Q Bureau. “You worry too much.”
Amanda was still arguing her point as they entered their office. “And what would you have done if someone had seen us?”
Lee had locked the door behind him and now caught her in a huge hug. “It didn’t really seem important.”
Amanda smiled blissfully as his arms continued to hold her close. “You say that now. Really Lee, we have to be more careful.”
Lee sighed and relaxed his hug enough to allow them to look at one another. He did not, however, let go. “I didn’t want to go on this trip and all I could think about was getting back to you.”
Amanda kissed his nose. “That’s very sweet.” She tried to change the subject, “Did you find anything in New York?”
Lee shook his head. “The only thing I found was that I don’t like being away from you. As far as information goes, the trip was a bust.”
Amanda smiled and leaned in for a kiss. “At least you learned something.”
Lee’s response was forgotten as Amanda’s kiss began to demand his attention. He was just beginning to make some demands of his own when there was a knock at the door.
Amanda sighed and rested her forehead against Lee’s chin. “It never fails.”
The visitor knocked again.
Lee felt a wave of complete frustration. “Yeah, hold on. We’re coming!” He called irritably.
Jerking the door open he found an amused Billy Melrose standing in the hall.
Billy’s smile was a fair imitation of the Cheshire Cat. “Am I interrupting anything?”
Amanda jumped in before Lee could answer. “No, sir, of course not. What can we do for you, sir?”
Billy gave Lee a final ‘give it up’ look before turning his attention to Amanda. “I came to see you, Amanda.”
“Yes, Francine was supposed to catch you after the meeting and give you a new assignment.”
Amanda tried to play innocent. “Really, she must have missed me in the crowd.”
Billy didn’t look fooled. “Yes, I’m sure that’s it. Anyway, I have a special project for you tomorrow.”
Amanda’s interest was growing. “Yes, Sir.”
“The first year candidates in our Surveillance class are working with some new equipment.”
Lee interrupted, afraid that Billy was about to take away Amanda’s flexibility. “Billy, Amanda was moved out of that class. She has too much field experience, she needs more of a challenge.”
Billy nodded, “I know that Scarecrow. That’s why I’m assigning her this project. Those other trainees are learning to set up and use surveillance equipment. I want Amanda to have more practice in avoiding detection. So, we’ll kill two birds with one stone.” Billy smiled. “This way everybody wins. The trainees have spent the last two days installing hidden cameras, microphones and other little surprises in the east hall. Your job, Amanda will be to proceed through the hall and into the main auditorium without tripping the alarms.”
Amanda was so focused on her new assignment that it took a several seconds for Mr. Melrose’s most important comment to assert itself. When it did, she felt her palms start to sweat. “Sir, did you say the east hall?” The image of a video camera came pointedly into focus in her mind’s eye.
Billy nodded. “Yes. You start at 0900 tomorrow.”
“Yes sir.” Amanda searched for a way to gain the information she needed. “They’ve been installing for two days? Camera’s, microphones, motion detectors?”
“Yes, yes and yes. All the latest goodies, you will really have a difficult time of it; they’ve really outdone themselves. I was impressed this morning when I reviewed yesterday’s data.”
Amanda looked at Lee, but he didn’t seem worried. Maybe he had a way out, or, maybe he was so preoccupied he hadn’t even considered the trouble they were in.
“Well, I’ll see you first thing in the morning, Amanda.” Billy said making his way toward the door. He slid a sidelong glance in Lee’s direction as he opened the door. “Better lock this behind me. Security’s very light up here.” Grinning he pulled the door shut behind him.
Lee locked the door and turned back to Amanda intent on finishing what she had started. Amanda artfully dodged out of his reach. “Lee, we have a problem.”
Lee made another attempt to pull her to him and she danced aside again. He frowned, “Amanda, if you keep moving like that I can’t hold you.”
“And if you hold me I can’t think. Lee, we have a problem.”
Scarecrow sighed and sat back against her desk. “What problem.”
Amanda smiled to herself he really was preoccupied. A very big part of her enjoyed being the focus of such attention, but the agent-in-training portion began to scold her partner. “Security equipment in the east hall.”
That was all she was going to give him. If he couldn’t figure it out, he didn’t deserve his security clearance. It took him almost ten seconds.
“Shit. The east hall is where I found you today.”
“No, you found me in the central hall. You dragged me into the east hall to grope me.”
A devilish grin flashed across his face. “Grope is a good word.”
Amanda rolled her eyes. “Honestly, Lee. Get serious. What are we going to do? There is most likely a surveillance tape of our little exchange down in those training rooms. If Mr. Melrose sees that we are going to have a lot of explaining to do. Not to mention the fact that twenty rookie agents are going to know all about us.”
Lee managed to get close enough to wrap his arms around her. “Relax. We’ll just have to go down there and get it back.”
“Get it back? What if someone sees us? If there is evidence we could get split up.”
He shrugged, “We’ll have to make sure they don’t see us.”
Amanda sighed and laid her head on his shoulder. “What if we don’t?”
Lee had enough practice to make the jump backward in their conversation. “Get the evidence? We will.” He crooked a finger under her chin and forced her to look at him. “Hey, we’re a great team. We’re the best team. I am not going to let a bunch of rookies endanger our chances of staying together.”
Amanda nodded; relieved by his assurance even though she knew it wasn’t rational. As always, it was impossible not to believe in him. His confidence held their chances; made them unstoppable. She gave him a smile, “What now?”
Lee smiled back. She was always ready to look on the bright side. That was one of the things he loved about her. “Now, we go take a look around. We’ll check out what’s going on down there and then get to work. We should be able to be in and out before anyone notices us.”
Walking through the corridor they sauntered past the east hall. It looked deserted. “There should be something going on.” Amanda noted, “I don’t like it being so quiet.” They turned and headed back the way they had come.
Lee was forced to agree. “My guess is Billy’s had all other activity rescheduled or reassigned to a different area.” He glanced casually around. Luckily it was lunch hour and things were relatively quiet. “Let’s go.”
He turned as the corridors intersected, trying to look like any other agent moving through the hallway. Amanda was right at his side and managing to look calm and collected.
“The problem is we don’t know where their central location is hidden. My guess is they have one control panel. Probably all the data being fed to one master videotape or computer file.” Amanda observed. “If we can just get in and out with that file quickly, this will work.”
Lee nodded, not surprised to find that she had already analyzed the situation. He didn’t have to be reminded of Amanda’s talent for logical deduction and reasoning, she had proven that enough times, but her growing skill as an agent still made him proud. “Right.”
They came to the first door and Lee tried to open it. The door swung open easily and he stuck his head in for only a second. “Just an empty classroom.”
Amanda nodded and slid across the hall to check the opposite door. “Same thing here.” She said after making her check.
Lee looked around trying to remember details. “Where were we this morning? I wasn’t paying a whole lot of attention to where we were going.”
Amanda grunted, “A little preoccupied, Scarecrow? That’s not very professional.”
Lee smiled at her teasing. “I had good reason. From what I understand I can be very distracting myself.”
“I think we were a few doors farther down.” Amanda said, changing the subject to keep them on track. “You check that side and I’ll take this one.”
Lee nodded and they proceeded down the hall carefully opening doors and watching every corner and ceiling tile for signs of surveillance equipment.
They had been through three or four rooms each before Amanda started to chuckle. Walking across the hall she stopped Lee from opening another door.
“Lee, why are we down here?”
“To find out if we’re on any security footage.” Lee answered recognizing her rhetorical question.
“And why are we sneaking around?”
“To keep anyone from spotting…” He grinned sheepishly at her. “Maybe we both need some rookie training.”
“I’d say.” She agreed. “If we’re going to alter or steal the existing data there’s really no need to keep sneaking through here is there?”
“That’s what I love about you, Amanda.”
“You don’t rub my nose in it when I miss the obvious.”
“It’s kind of a cute nose. I’d hate to ruin it.”
Lee’s look told her he’d get her for that later, but instead of making a comment he took her hand and they continued down the hall. It took them another two minutes to find what they were looking for.
“Figures it’s the last door.”
Amanda laid a hand on his arm. “Let’s just get this over with before someone comes in.”
The room they entered was full of various machines all linked together with the biggest jumble of wires and cords Amanda had ever seen. “How are we going to make heads or tails out of all this?”
Lee had already spotted what they were looking for. “Over here.” He led her over to a large computer terminal and video monitor. “Everything feeds into this system. See, the time index on the computer mirrors the video.”
Amanda nodded starting to recognize just what the trainees had been doing. “They really have the hall covered. We’re probably all over their evidence.”
“Only one way to find out.” Lee responded taking a seat at the control panel.
After a few minutes he leaned back and smiled. “Well, what do you know? Nothing.”
“We’re not usually that lucky.” Amanda replied ruefully. “Are you sure, Lee?”
“You saw what I did, and you’re better with the computer than I am. Think I missed anything?”
Amanda frowned. “No. It just doesn’t seem right. I don’t want to overlook something.”
Lee stood and gave her arm a gentle, understanding squeeze. “We both looked at it. Their time index indicates that they haven’t had any equipment turned on since yesterday. I say we count ourselves lucky and get out of here.”
Amanda nodded. Hoping they were right she followed Lee back down the hall and up to the Q Bureau.
After locking the door Lee again tried to pull Amanda into another embrace. She didn’t dance out of his reach, but she did keep the kiss short.
“We both have work to do.” She chided gently.
“We both have catching up to do.”
She couldn’t help but chuckle. “The sooner you finish your report on your trip and the sooner I finish what I’m working on, the sooner we can get back to this.” To emphasize her point she gave him a sample.
Lee finished typing his report on the New York assignment and looked across the room at Amanda’s desk. She was totally immersed in what she was working on, he was sure she didn’t even remember he was in the room. Smiling he watched as she studied the files in front of her. Again he reflected on what a terrific agent she was turning out to be, smart, decisive, courageous, the more she grew the more he realized she had always been like that.
Amanda didn’t bother to look up from her reading. “What are you looking at, Stetson?”
She looked up and flashed him an inviting grin before going back to her files. “That’s nice.”
Lee wasn’t going to let that invitation go unanswered. Getting up he rounded her desk and plopped himself right down on the material she was studying.
“I can’t read that if you sit on it.”
His answer was deadpanned, “That was the idea.”
She gave him a withering look, but couldn’t keep it up. She ended up with a silly grin on her face. “I give up.”
Lee leaned down to kiss her. “That was easy.”
When Lee finally stopped the kiss Amanda was flushed and a little light headed. She stood up so she could more easily wrap her arms around his neck. She stretched forward slowly and deliberately to whisper in his ear. “I really did miss you.”
Lee’s pulse was pounding in his ears. He had come over here to tease Amanda into giving him some affection. How, he asked himself, had the tables been turned so that he was the one left breathless? He knew the grin on his face probably looked goofy but he didn’t care. Raising his hand he allowed one finger to gently float across the smooth skin of her cheek. The contact gave his already pounding heart another jolt. Trying to swallow away the dryness in his throat he lowered his hand so that his finger traced the contours of her face, then dropped slowly down her neck and came to rest against the cold chain of her necklace. Following the chain he stroked her skin until he found the pulsating beat in the hollow above the necklace’s heart. The staccato rhythm there let him know Amanda wasn’t as calm as she was pretending.
He smiled; flashing his dimples in a move he knew was guaranteed to work. “Let’s go somewhere we can discuss that in detail.”
“I was thinking my place.”
There was a smolder in her eyes when she answered. “Let me call home first.”
The next morning Lee was anxious to get to work. He quickly exchanged the word of the day with Mrs. Marsten and took the stairs two at a time. Amanda was always in first and he was anxious to see her again. He had been forced to drag himself away from her back door well past midnight last night and the hours he was supposed to use for sleep had been filled with tantalizing memories and dreams.
He entered the Q Bureau and was surprised not to see her at her desk. He smiled, though, when he heard rustling in the vault.
Stepping quietly, he rounded the open vault door and sneakily slid his arms around Amanda King.
“Nice try, but I heard the door open.” She said dryly in greeting.
Instead of answering Lee chose to place a few feather light kisses along her neck and shoulder.
Amanda was grinning as she turned in his arms. “That’s an awfully nice way to say hello.”
Amanda pulled him to her, wrapping her arms around his neck. “Say it again.” Lee was pretty sure she meant the kisses and not the ‘hello’ so he happily complied.
They both jumped guiltily as the outer door slammed shut. Trying to look casual Lee stuck his head around the vault door and found Billy in the office.
Amanda came out of the vault and gave Billy a warm smile. “Good morning, Sir.”
“Good morning, Amanda. Ready for your assignment?”
“Yes, Sir.” She agreed enthusiastically. “I’m ready if you are.”
Billy gestured toward the door and Amanda eagerly stepped forward. Billy turned to follow her and then paused as if just remembering something. “Oh, Scarecrow. Since Amanda will be busy for a while I have something for you. These are yesterday’s surveillance tapes. Scan through them and check for accuracy. You know, did they cover all the areas, do they have a complete perimeter set up, and did they catch anything interesting; that sort of thing. I pulled it yesterday, but my afternoon got so hectic I never had a chance to look at it.”
Amanda had completely frozen in her tracks. Taking a deep breath to calm herself, she turned around to find Lee with an almost panicked look on his face. She was pretty sure there was a matching statement on her own features.
Lee recovered quickly. “Yeah, uh sure, Billy. That shouldn’t take long.”
Billy nodded and turned back to the door. He paused when Amanda didn’t move to follow him. “Coming, Amanda?”
“Yes, Sir.” She smiled apologetically. “Could you give me one moment, Sir? I just remembered something I needed to fill Lee in on. Something he missed while in New York.”
Billy nodded. “Of course, I’ll wait for you out in the hall.”
Amanda nearly leaped the few steps to Lee’s side. She was eyeing the videos as if they were live snakes. “Lee, there are multiple tapes. What if that is what we think it is.”
Lee was thinking very fast on his feet. “Don’t you worry about it, I have plenty of time to check it out and fix it. You just do your assignment. Concentrate on what you have to do. I’ll handle the rest.”
Amanda didn’t look convinced so Lee took her hand and gave it a gentle squeeze. “Hey, it will be all right.”
She smiled back, seeing in his eyes the assurance she needed. “Yeah. I’ll be back as soon as I finish this.”
Lee smiled. “I’ll be here.”
The assignment while tough, didn’t really present the kind of challenge needed to test Amanda’s skill. Billy was happy to see her complete the drill in record time. She really was turning into a top agent, just like he thought she would. He smiled to himself; it was nice to be right. Now, he just had to find a tougher assignment for his star pupil.
“Very nicely done, Amanda.” He said wrapping up his compliments as the re-entered the Q Bureau.
Amanda was pleased with the praise, “Thank you, Sir.”
Billy turned his attention to Lee and asked for a report. “Find anything, Scarecrow?”
“Not really,” Lee replied handing the tapes back to Billy. Amanda however, saw him nod just a fraction. “I made some notes about their microphone placement, but that’s about it. Pretty good job.”
Billy nodded. “Thanks.”
Lee was trying to seem casual, but Amanda could tell he was bursting to talk with her. “How did it go downstairs?” Lee asked.
Billy grinned at Amanda. “Just fine. I’m afraid it wasn’t much of a challenge though. We’re going to have to find something more difficult for our trainee, here.”
Lee smiled from ear to ear; he loved hearing praise of Amanda almost as much as she did. “I’ll see what I can come up with.”
Billy nodded and moved toward the door. “Again, nice work, Amanda.” He held up the videotapes. “Thanks, Scarecrow. I guess I could have done this, but I was happy to let you do it. You wouldn’t believe what I found on earlier evidence. You can learn a lot about people by watching surveillance tapes.”
Amanda ran across the room to lock the door as Billy pulled it closed. Spinning back around she leaned against it her energy drained from tension.
“You found something.” It wasn’t a question.
“Yeah, you and me in a decidedly compromising situation. That room we were in was wired from every angle. They must have had another set up because none of that footage was included in what we saw yesterday.”
Amanda walked slowly toward her partner. “We were very lucky.”
Lee nodded. “Yeah, lucky or we really owe Billy.”
Amanda’s head popped up from her musing as she considered the possibility that Mr. Melrose had deliberately given Lee the tape. “You think he saw it?”
Lee shrugged. “I don’t know. And I don’t think I want to ask. This is a need to know priority. And nobody needs to know.”
Amanda slid wearily into his arms. Hugging him tightly she sighed. “We have got to be more careful.”
Lee nodded in agreement. “I’ll tell you what. I’ll try, try mind you, to only kiss you here in the office.”
Amanda smiled teasingly, “Only in the office? That’s going to make dinner very boring.”
Lee grinned too. “In the office when we’re here at work. Now, outside this building…” he paused.
He leaned down and gave her a quick peck on the cheek. “Outside this building, I don’t make any promises.”
“I think I can live with that.” Amanda was grinning as she pulled him to her and expressed her approval.