Title: N is for Nemesis
Disclaimer: Scarecrow & Mrs. King belongs to Warner Bros. And Shoot the Moon; I’m just having fun with them. The story is mine.
Archive: Yes, please, here with the other Alphabet Challenges. Anywhere else just let me know.
Feedback is always welcome. Just remember that I’m not a professional so be kind.
Setting: Third season after “All The World’s A Stage.” Slightly A/U.
Synopsis: Amanda helps with homework but it’s Lee who gets an education.
Special thanks to Lynn who chose this title; I really appreciated all the sleepless nights it brought. A heart felt thanks to my beta Tabitha. Her corrections and dialogue suggestions really make this story flow.
Lee Stetson checks his watch for the third time since his arrival under the kitchen window of Amanda’s home. Forty-five minutes have passed and his legs are beginning to cramp. “It must be a full moon tonight. It seems that everything that could go wrong today did.” Lee muses.
First, he and Amanda spent the morning chasing the bane of his existence, Serge Ivanovich, who, when they finally caught up to him, managed to put up a good fight before Lee was able to take him into custody. His hand still throbbed from the punch to Serge’s jaw. It was all down hill from there. A late lunch with Amanda at the park was the only bright spot in the day. That was until that kid on the out of control skateboard ran right into Amanda and knocked her down. He was still mad at himself for not doing anything to prevent it but his back was turned and he couldn’t get to Amanda fast enough to avoid the collision with the skateboard. She said she wasn’t hurt but since there was nothing going on at the Agency Lee sent her home straight from the park.
He had forgotten all about the reports that were waiting for them back at the Q-Bureau. They were due by the end of the day and with Amanda gone the responsibility to complete them fell to him. It took the rest of the day working non-stop for Lee to get them turned into Billy on time. He never had a chance to check up on Amanda, which is why he was now hiding out in her bushes. He had to make sure that his friend…his partner…his Amanda was okay.
“What is with this family tonight?” Lee mentally questions. Usually by now everyone was gone from the kitchen and he would be able to steal some time with Amanda. Not tonight though. He hears Dotty go upstairs to soak in a bath and read her latest romance novel just a few minutes after he arrives. Phillip is already in his room playing a new video game and it seems Jamie is taking forever to complete his homework, something else that was unusual. Jamie always had his homework done before supper and it was normally Phillip who had to be hog tied to finish up his assignments. With a sigh, Lee resigns himself to waiting a little longer before talking to Amanda.
Amanda is staring out into the darkness of the yard wondering if Lee is out there somewhere as she put away the last of the supper dishes. It was unlike him not to call and check on her and she wondered why he hadn’t. She was brought out of her musings by Jamie’s plea for help with his homework. “Mom, can you help me here? I’m having trouble with the last of my vocabulary words.”
“Sure, sweetheart what seems to be the problem?” Amanda responds as she sits down next to him. Her knee is stiffening up on her and she can’t wait until she is able to go upstairs and soak in a hot bath. ‘Darn skateboard,’ she thought to herself.
Lee hears what is going on through the open window and breathes a sigh of relief. Soon he would be able to make his presence known. Then his Amanda would come outside and sit with him for a while. Shifting his weight around to relieve the ache in his thighs he settled in to wait the resolution of Jamie’s problem.
“Well Mom,” Jamie begins, “we have to explain the difference between an enemy and a nemesis and I can’t seem to do it.”
“That doesn’t sound hard. Let’s see what the dictionary says.” Amanda reaches for the dictionary to look up the meaning of both words. “Okay, the definition of an enemy is either 1: one that is antagonistic to another: one seeking to injure, overthrow, or confound an opponent or 2: something harmful or deadly. And the definition of nemesis is one that inflicts retribution or vengeance b: a formidable and usually victorious rival or opponent. Boy, that is a tough one.” Amanda sits back in the chair and begins to think. “Where is the thesaurus? Maybe that can give us a clue.” Amanda goes over to the bookshelf to locate the reference book. “Found it. Lets see now,” she begins to flip the pages until she comes to enemy. “It says here for enemy: an individual or group that is hostile toward another and for related words they use adversary, antagonist, opponent; assailant, attacker, combatant, invader; competitor, contender, emulator, rival.” Amanda turns the pages once more to locate nemesis. “There doesn’t seem to be anything in here for nemesis so I guess we’ll just have to use what the dictionary says.”
“That’s part of the problem, Mom, both words sound like they mean the same thing.” Jamie states.
“Well then, just start with that and go from there.” Amanda says as she puts the book back on the shelf.
“I’ve already tried that.” Jamie replies. “All that I can come up with is that “enemy” means two people or sides against each other on a particular issue. “Nemesis” is confusing me though.”
“What’s confusing, dear?” Dotty asks as she makes her way back downstairs after her bath.
“Jamie is having trouble with his homework, Mother.” Amanda answers. “He needs to explain the difference between an enemy and a nemesis.”
“Well dear, that shouldn’t be hard for you, after all Joan Richards was your nemesis all through high school.” Dotty states as she fixes herself a glass of milk and Galliano.
Lee’s ears perk up as he hears Dotty’s remark. He wonders who this Joan Richards is and why she was Amanda’s nemesis. He can’t wait to find out. Now tired of crouching, Lee decides to stand up with his back up against the house and wait patiently for some sort of explanation.
“Oh Mother, don’t be silly.” Amanda counters, “Joan was not my nemesis. She was just difficult to get along with.”
Dotty took a sip of her milk before replying, “Amanda dear, that girl was just plain nasty. Remember the cheerleading tryouts? And how about homecoming? And let’s not forget the prom. Now I only have a few pages left in my book and then I’m going to watch an old Cary Grant movie on television, so I’m taking my milk back upstairs. Good night dear. Good night Jamie.”
“Good night Mother.” “Good night Grandma.” Amanda and Jamie reply in unison.
“So Mom, do you want to tell me about this Joan person?” Jamie queries.
“Not particularly. Now finish up your homework.” Amanda ruffles Jamie’s hair.
“Okay Mom, but I still have the same problem. Maybe, if you give me an example I could figure it out.” Jamie begs hoping to get some details of this Joan’s exploits.
“Nice try buster,” came Amanda’s quick reply “Let me see that definition again.” Reaching across the table she picks up the dictionary and rereads the definition. “Let’s see, I’ve got it, a nemesis is someone who inflicts punishment for a perceived wrong in order to be victorious in a particular event. I think. Now clean up these books and get ready for bed.” Amanda hands the dictionary back to her son and kisses him on the head.
“Sure Mom, thanks for the help.” Jamie completes his homework and repacks all his books in his backpack before heading up to his room. He too has a book he wants to finish. “Good night Mom.” He places a kiss on Amanda’s cheek.
“Good night Jamie. Don’t stay up too late, you have school tomorrow.” Amanda gently admonishes her youngest son with a quick hug.
Amanda decides to make a cup of tea to bring with her into the bath. Just as she turns on the burner she hears the familiar knock against her back door. With a smile and a quick glance back to make sure she is not observed Amanda turns off the gas and heads out to see Lee.
“Hi beautiful,” Lee greets Amanda with one of his most charming smiles as she opens the door.
“Hi yourself,” Amanda responds while trying to suppress the butterflies that are dancing in her stomach. Lee always has that effect on her, more so whenever his dimples show as they are now. “What brings you here? I hope nothing went wrong with Serge.”
“No Amanda, Serge is on his way to prison. I just came by to see how you were doing and to apologize once more. I really am sorry I couldn’t do anything to stop that kid this afternoon.” Amanda kisses Lee to quell the unnecessary words spilling from his lips.
“Lee, there was nothing you could have done. Neither one of us saw that boy until it was too late. That’s why it was an accident. Accidents happen, Lee. I’m all right- that’s all that matters,” Amanda explains.
“I know, you’re right. I just can’t help the feeling that there was something I should have done.” Lee pulls her tighter into his embrace. “How’s your leg?” Lee asks with a voice full of concern.
Knowing how carried away Lee gets she decides not to let him know how sore she really is. “My leg is fine, Lee. I’m fine.” Amanda gives him a reassuring smile.
“Good, I’m glad to hear it.” Lee softly kisses Amanda then takes her hand in his and walks over to the gazebo. “Sit with me for a bit or are you too busy?”
“I can sit for a while.” Amanda snuggles closer to Lee, “ Mother and the boys are upstairs. She is watching television and the boys are in their room either reading or playing video games.”
“I know. I heard.” Lee gestures to the open window.
“Just how much did you hear?” Amanda asks, hoping that Lee wasn’t out there long. She really didn’t want to explain her mother’s remarks about Joan Richards to him anymore than she did to Jamie.
“Oh, not that long.” Lee slyly replies.
Amanda lets out the breath she was holding, “Oh good.”
“Just long enough to want to know all about a certain nemesis of yours. I believe your mother said her name was Joan Richards.” Lee smirks at Amanda’s look of discomfort. “Care to explain?”
“No, not really,” Amanda is quick to answer.
“Oh, come on now, you can tell me. Remember I said I wanted to find out all about you? Well, this is a good way for me to find out about Amanda West, teenager.” Lee cajoled.
“There’s really not all that much to tell,” Amanda hedges.
“That’s all right. I’d still like to know about it.” Lee is on to her game. He knows she’ll tell him eventually; but teasing it out of her is fun. “How bad could it be? Come on. Tell me. You’ll feel better. Besides, I never was in the same school long enough to make friends, let alone enemies. I’d like to hear how high school was for a ‘normal’ person.” Lee knew that would do it. Amanda always felt bad for him when he would talk about moving around a lot with his Uncle.
“You really want to know?” Amanda questions.
“Yeah, I really want to know.” Lee answers and pulls Amanda more tightly to his side.
“OK, I’ll tell you but you have to promise not to tell anyone,” agrees Amanda.
“It’s a deal.” Lee seals the agreement with a kiss.
“OK, here goes nothing. Amanda West teenager was extremely shy and an easy target.” Amanda begins.
“You shy? I don’t believe it. I’ve seen you work.” Lee comments.
“Yes Lee, I was shy. Let’s see where was I, oh yeah, the beginning. I guess it all started at freshman orientation. I was sitting next to this boy, I didn’t even know his name at the time and Joan came in and wanted my seat. There were plenty of other available seats for her and her friends to use so I refused to give up mine. I guess she thought I was trying to show her up in front of her friends because she made a snide remark. I don’t remember what it was but evidently the boy sitting next to me took offense because he stood up for me and ever since that day she’d gone out of her way to torture me.”
“She sounds like a spoiled little brat,” Lee comments. Placing a kiss on the back of Amanda’s hand, he continues, “I wish I were there to protect you. I hate knowing that someone hurt you. So, did you ever find out the name of your champion?”
“Yes I did. His name is Michael Patrick Brennan and we’ve been friends ever since that day,” Amanda proudly tells Lee.
“Only friends? There was no great high school romance between the two of you?” Lee asks with raised eyebrows.
“No, no great romance. We did go out together, but only as friends, but then again you already knew that.” Amanda reminds Lee.
“All right, you were only friends. Now tell me what your mother meant when she mentioned homecoming, cheerleading and the prom.” Lee prods.
“Lee, it’s really nothing. Just young girls being silly.”
“Amanda, your mother said that Joan was your nemesis. It doesn’t sound like nothing or silly girls. Now please tell me what happened. I really do want to know. What was the first thing that happened?”
Amanda settles herself against Lee’s chest before she recounts the exploits of Joan. “Looking back on it now, I can see she only wanted to sit next to Mike and when I refused to give up my seat, she thought I had designs on him. Especially when he stood up for me that day.”
“Amanda, you’re stalling,” Lee complains.
“Okay, okay, I’ll get to it.” Amanda relents. “First there was the incident at cheerleading tryouts. There were only two spots open for freshman students and three of us competing for the spots. Well, really only two, Joan and myself, the third girl Sheila, was the sister of the captain so she pretty much had a spot. Not only did Joan steal my cheer but she locked me in my locker so I never made it to tryouts.”
“Oh Manda, that’s terrible.” Lee can’t keep the chuckle out of his voice as he made that comment.
“It sure was, but I had the last laugh. Joan couldn’t do a full split so I got the spot without even having to tryout and the best part was because I was the lightest I got to be the top of the pyramid.” Amanda gloats just a little bit at her triumph.
“I have a question. How did you get out of your locker?” Lee asks still trying to suppress his laughter.
“Oh that. Mike of course.” Amanda supplies. “We walked home from school together every day. He always met me by my locker after class and when he showed up, he heard me knocking and let me out.”
Lee can’t contain his mirth any longer and lets out a full belly laugh.
“It’s not funny Lee, I was really scared,” Amanda admonishes him and gives him a swat on his chest.
“You’re right, Amanda. I’m sure it was scary then, but you have to admit it is kind of funny now,” Lee defends himself all the while still laughing.
“Lee, if you are going to continue to laugh at me I won’t tell you the rest.” Amanda scolds him a second time.
“Okay, okay, I’ll try to be serious,” agrees Lee. “Tell me the rest, please Manda.”
“Lets see, that was the major incident in freshman year. There were a million other little things that I can’t remember in great detail. Like missing assignments that I knew I turned in or projects that were destroyed. I could never prove that Joan had anything to do with them but I knew she somehow had a hand in them.” Actually Amanda did remember every detail but it seemed petty so she decided to gloss over the less serious incidents. “Sophomore year, it was the annual homecoming pep rally. We went out to the campus of the community college because our field was too small to have a bonfire. Joan told my ride that I had a family emergency and my parents picked me up early so they left without me. I was stranded. Mother and Daddy were away overnight at a convention so there was no one to call and pick me up. I ended up having to walk. It was over five miles.”
“Do you know how dangerous that was?!” Lee yells.
“Sure, but I had to get back somehow. Mike was meeting me back at the school. I was spending the night at his house. His sister Cathy is a couple of years younger than me but we got along well. When I didn’t show up Mike got worried and called Tina-she was the girl I was supposed to be riding with. He knew something was wrong when Tina told him my parents had taken me home. Mike called his father and they drove around until they found me.”
“Why didn’t Mike just bring you to the rally and home again to begin with?” Lee asks somewhat annoyed with Mike for not keeping a better eye on his Amanda.
“Lee, Mike was on the football team. All the players went over on the team bus. That’s why we were meeting back at the school. The bus was dropping off the guys there,” Amanda clarifies. “Mr. Brennan let the principal know what happened but since Joan denied it, saying that she heard it from someone at the rally, there really wasn’t much I could do about it. Daddy was livid. He wanted to go over to Joan’s house and talk to her parents. I had a hard time talking him out of that. Having my father fight my battles for me would have only made it worse. Girls can be so cruel.”
“You could have really been seriously hurt. It was a stupid prank.” Lee gets up from the bench and begins to pace the small confines of the gazebo.
Grabbing his hand, Amanda coaxes Lee to take a seat next to her again. “You’re right and after that incident Mike and I were inseparable when it came to getting back and forth to school activities-except of course whenever he had a date. It was hard to explain to his girlfriends why I was tagging along. When he couldn’t drive me, he always made sure I had a dependable ride. It wasn’t too long after that that I finally got my license to drive so that made things a bit easier.”
Lee is still angry. Something really serious could have happened to his Amanda. If he ever meets up with this Joan person he is going to give her an earful.
Amanda can see that Lee is upset. She gives his hand a gentle squeeze and runs her fingers over his arm. This always has a calming effect on him. The two sit in silence- Amanda lost in memories of the past and Lee silently thanking God that his…what…partner…best friend…girlfriend…love-wasn’t seriously hurt. There, he finally thought it-the big ‘L’ word. At least he was starting to acknowledge to himself how he was beginning to feel about this very special woman in his arms. Lee breaks the silence with another request. “That explains the first two incidents. Your mother mentioned an incident at the prom. Was that your Junior Prom?”
“No, Lee our school didn’t have a Junior Prom. Nothing really happened junior year, we sort of developed different interest over that summer and had very few meetings with each other, plus Joan came down with mononucleosis right after Christmas break. She claimed she got it from drinking from someone else’s glass but we all knew how she ended up with the kissing disease. Joan was out of school for almost four months. She was so busy trying to catch up on missed assignments that she didn’t have time to bother me.”
“What interests did you develop?” Lee asks with a wink.
“That was the year Mike put his band together and I spent most of my free time with them rehearsing and I thought the drummer was cute.” Amanda answers Lee.
“Drummer, huh? Let me guess he was a real intellectual. Probably a member of the A/V squad.” Lee teases.
“Oh no Lee. Roger was a real “bad boy”. He drove a motorcycle; smoked- not always tobacco-only wore leather; and had several tattoos. Mother & Daddy really hated him. I guess that was the attraction. He really wasn’t my type and he didn’t last too long as a boyfriend or member of the band. I think he ended up in prison for armed robbery.”
Amanda suddenly stops talking and Lee can feel her slight tremble.
“Hey Manda, what’s wrong? Are you getting cold?” Lee gently runs his hand down her arm.
“Oh nothing’s wrong, it’s just…that was the summer Daddy passed away. It hit me really hard. I always thought I was to blame for his heart attack. Daddy always said my dating would be the death of him and I was dating someone he and Mother didn’t approve of…”
“Amanda stop! You are not to blame for your father’s death anymore then I am for my parents being killed.” Lee sternly tells her. It amazes him whenever he thinks of all the heartache life placed on her slim shoulders, yet she never lost her love of life or her belief in people. He sends up a silent prayer of thanks for that small miracle. It was that strength that helped him to become a better man more than anything else.
“Oh Lee, I know that. I guess just going back over these events brought all the old feelings back to the surface.”
“Well then, I’ll have to just give you something else to think about.” Lee takes Amanda into his arms and kisses her deeply. “How’s that?”
“Delicious,” Amanda sighs. “Tastes like more,” Amanda winds her arms more tightly around Lee’s neck and kisses him senseless. Reluctantly they pull apart and settle back onto the bench with their arms still around each other. Taking another deep steadying breath, Amanda starts, “Senior year started out all right. I was still upset over Daddy and I guess Joan sensed it because she didn’t really bother with me until the Sadie Hawkins Dance,” Lee gives her a quizzical look. At this Amanda continues to explain, “The girls had to ask the boys and I was afraid that no one would agree to go with me so I asked Mike.”
“Amanda, I can’t imagine anyone in his right mind not wanting to be with you.” Lee interrupts.
“Why Lee? You didn’t want me with you when we first started to work together.” Amanda reminds him.
“Yeah, but I was crazy then,” Lee grins. “Let me guess, Joan wanted to go with Mark.” He never used the proper name of the boys or men Amanda dated-a small act of jealousy that now was only habit-and one he always enjoys because it still irks Amanda.
“Mike turned her down flat even before I asked him to the dance. He was still mad at her for all those pranks she pulled. It seems I wasn’t the only one she tormented. She went after any girl who looked at Mike twice.”
“So, what happened at the dance?” Lee inquires.
“I didn’t get to go to the dance. It was a shame too, because Mother and I worked every night for almost three weeks making my dress. It was really something too. Floor length, emerald green velvet, with a matching cape, the worst part was the hidden zipper, I never put one in before and it took a while before it was just right.” Amanda describes the dress in great detail.
“I bet you looked beautiful in it. I wish I could have seen it.” Lee wistfully tells her. “How come you didn’t go to the dance?”
“Oh well, someone moved the crash mat.” Amanda answers.
“A-man-da,” Lee groans. “I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but can you give me a little more of an explanation. What do you mean by someone moved the crash mat?”
“Oh Lee, I’m sorry. I sprained my ankle in gym class and couldn’t go to the dance. You see, I was taking gymnastics at the time and during a dismount off the balance beam the crash mat slipped and I ended up getting hurt.”
“Did Joan have anything to do with it?”
“I don’t think so-she wasn’t in my class-but hey, you never know.” Amanda jokes. “Mike felt so bad that he promised to take me to the prom and he did even though he had a steady girlfriend at the time. Needless to say she wasn’t pleased and they didn’t date very long after that.”
“The prom.” Lee prompts. “Tell me about it.”
“I really don’t remember. It wasn’t all that important.” Amanda utters hopping Lee will curb his interest but she knows that’s not going to happen. Maybe, if she stalls long enough he’ll give up.
Lee was not about to be sidetracked by Amanda and again says, “Nice try Amanda, it’s not going to work though. Tell me what happened at the prom.”
Amanda pouts. She doesn’t want to tell Lee that by the time prom came around she had had it with Joan and finally put her in her place. It wasn’t very nice and she was still ashamed of what she did. Hoping again to distract him, Amanda began to ask Lee if they have a new assignment scheduled for the next day.
Lee sees the reluctance on Amanda’s face and has a change of heart. If she really doesn’t want to talk about it he isn’t going to push the issue. He knows Amanda will tell him what happened, eventually. “Well, Billy would like us to go over the security arrangements for the party the British Embassy is hosting next week. It seems the Brits have a few new people on staff there and are requesting help from us.” Lee begins to run down their schedule for tomorrow. “Maybe if all goes well we’ll get an invite.” Lee smiles at that thought. Spending the night dancing with his best girl is always appealing. “The rest of the day is still open. If nothing comes in I guess we will just have to find a way to keep ourselves busy.”
“Sounds like a plan,” Amanda agrees. She tucks her head in the crook of Lee’s arm and whispers, “I dumped the whole bowl of punch over Joan’s head.”
Her voice is so soft; it takes a moment before Lee understands what she said. “Amanda, did you just say that you dumped punch on Joan?”
Amanda just nods in response. Lee squeezes her shoulder in encouragement and she continues to explain her actions. “Joan was teasing Cathy and I just lost it. I mean she was saying some awful things and I just couldn’t stand by and let her hurt Mike’s sister like that. You see, Cathy went to the prom with Rob-he was the guitar player in the band- and they were crazy about each other. Mike was really upset. He didn’t want any of his friends dating his sister so I said I would keep an eye on Cathy and make sure she was all right. When I found her she was standing by the refreshment table crying and Joan was hurling insults at her. You see Cathy was still in that awkward stage girls go through. She was still carrying some baby fat and had just gotten braces. I don’t know what came over me but I picked up the punch bowl and dumped it over Joan’s head. Joan was nominated for prom queen but the big red stain on her white gown quickly diminished her chances for the coveted crown. When the other kids saw what happened they broke into applause. Joan was mortified and left in a huff. We all thought she went home but she went straight to the principal and told him what I did. I almost didn’t get to graduate. I had to apologize to Joan in front of the whole senior class at assembly the next week. When I stood at the podium Cathy and Roger and a few other students joined me so it wasn’t so bad. I had the last laugh though; when Joan’s name was called at graduation she tripped walking up to the stage to get her diploma. It was a very graceful fall.” Amanda laughs.
“So was that the end of it or did you nemesis follow you on to college?” Lee asks, silently proud of Amanda for standing up to Joan.
“That was the end of it. We went to separate colleges. You know that I went to UVA but Joan went to school out West. I think somewhere in Arizona. Last I heard she was married and had 3 daughters.”
“I hope they don’t take after their mother,” Lee comments.
“Yeah, me too,” Amanda agrees.
They sit for a while in silence just enjoying the quiet night and the simple wonder of being together. “Amanda, it’s getting late.” Lee stands pulling Amanda up with him. “I really should be going.”
“Yeah, I guess it is kind of late and I better get inside before someone starts to look for me.” Still holding onto Lee’s hand, Amanda reluctantly heads to the back door. She turns to face him once more. “Good night Lee.” She gently brushes her lips across his.
“Good night Amanda,” Lee replies kissing her softly. “Thank you for the education.”
“Lee?” Amanda questions.
“I finally found out why you handle Francine so well. Compared to Joan, Francine is a piece of cake,” Lee chuckles. “How about I pick you up early tomorrow and we can grab a bite to eat before heading in to work?”
“Sure, that’s fine. About 7:30?”
“7:30 it is.” Lee gives Amanda another kiss and heads toward the back gate.
Amanda calls out to him just before he steps through the gate. “You’re welcome.”
Lee blows her another kiss and heads out into the night. Amanda waits until she hears the Corvette’s engine come to life. Then she turns and goes back inside finally able to soak in a hot bath.