This is my first attempt at fan fiction for Scarecrow and Mrs. King. It’s the beginning of what should be a longish story, possibly even a novella. There’s a fair amount of exposition in Chapter One because I refuse to write under the assumption that only people who have watched the show can enjoy the fan fiction. Though this story never happened in the canon of this show, it could have.
Disclaimer: The characters, the Agency, and the premise for the series do not belong to me. They are the property of their creators and the actors who played the characters so very well. The characters and their world are being borrowed only for the purposes of telling this story.
Summary: Bad things happen to good people…including Lee and Amanda. Amanda has a premonition. Warning: Violence.
“Two gates the silent house of Sleep adorn: Of polished ivory this, that of transparent horn: True visions through transparent horn arise; Through polished ivory pass deluding lies.” -Virgil, Aeneid, VI (Dryden trans.)
Amanda King sat bolt upright in bed. She was shaking with fear and unsure as to what had awakened her. The bedroom, her bedroom was dark, but not impenetrably so. The constant glow of the neighboring streetlight cast faint leaf patterns on the wall of the room opposite her. She blinked her eyes and squeezed them shut trying to make sense of the overwhelming panic that had just brought her so rudely awake.
She listened expectantly for the normal night sounds of her home and family—quiet snores in differing pitches. Amanda’s mother, who had lived with her since the death of Amanda’s husband three years earlier, would deny religiously that she snored, but Amanda could verify that she did, and so did Philip, the older of her two boys. She listened for the gurgle of running water from the kitchen or bath— sounds that would reassure her that one of the children or her mother was stirring in the night. She even listened hoping to hear the scratching sound the branches from the neighbors’ overgrown maple tree made rubbing against the shingled roof of her house on windy nights.
There were no noises. There wasn’t a sound in the house, no discernable noise at all, and she didn’t hear any distant sounds either. No sirens cried out. No rumbles of spring thunder rolled across the sleeping city.
As she came fully awake, Amanda remembered she was, in fact, alone. Her mother and sons were away for a two-week visit with out- of-state relatives. She shivered in the warm dampness of the night air. She remembered something else…an image from her dream, a fragment of nightmare.
“Lee….” She had seen him, bloody and hurt. She had been there. She shook her head. It had to have been a dream, but it had felt so real. Still, she was unable to shake the heartsick feeling she felt deep inside of herself. She didn’t know how she knew that her partner was in trouble, but somehow, instinctively, Amanda King knew.
“It was a dream,” she tried to tell herself sternly, “only a dream.” She desperately wanted to make herself believe the words. She didn’t. She couldn’t stop her hands from shaking or her heart from pounding.
Amanda King’s partner was Lee Stetson. He was young, suave, sophisticated, and, it was rumored, one of the most eligible and elusive bachelors in Washington, D.C. She had been warned by Francine very early in her association with Lee that she, Amanda, didn’t stand a chance…assuming that she was interested in him. He was a heartbreaker on at least two continents, Francine had assured her.
It was, perhaps, more correct to say Amanda was, had become Lee’s partner or, to clarify it even more, his assistant, his personal researcher, and his general-purpose gofer. She hoped that she was also his friend. She hadn’t let herself hope for more than that. She knew all too clearly who and what he was. Still, she couldn’t help admiring that wonderful smile that lit up a room when he chose to let it do so.
As partners, they played a dangerous game—Lee and Amanda. They worked for the Agency. They were spies. Lee Stetson’s code name was ‘Scarecrow.’ He was fast, smart, and very good at maneuvering in and manipulating the high-tech, dangerous world of international espionage. …And she was just ‘Mrs. King.’ The name was eminently suited to who and what she was and had been before meeting Lee.
It seemed a long time ago now, her first meeting with Lee, but in reality it was only just over two years. Amanda had been in the wrong or, maybe, right place at just the right time to become embroiled in one of Lee’s espionage assignments. She’d been flustered and frightened, but everyone from the Agency had praised her natural ability. She had known it hadn’t been ability; it had been natural camouflage. She really was—well, had been—as naïve and innocent as she had looked.
Everyone, including Lee, had been pleased when Billy Melrose, Lee’s boss, had offered her a job, a place on the team as a “civilian.” That had lasted until Lee realized that she would be assigned to him. He had fussed and fumed. He’d had too many partners, good partners killed in the line of duty. They’d been professionals. She was a civilian and a housewife, for Christ’s sake. What was he supposed to do with her? She’d cramp his style.
“Exactly,” Billy had responded, “and maybe keep you from getting yourself killed.”
Doors had slammed and ‘Scarecrow’ had stormed out of the office trembling with anger, not at her Amanda had realized later, but at his boss…and at the fact that his boss had been right. Lee Stetson had always been mercurical, unpredictable. It was one of the traits that had helped keep him alive. But, recently, the daring young spy had been getting careless, taking too many chances too often…setting himself up for disaster.
Amanda had been good for Lee in Billy’s opinion. She had kept him honest, made him think about consequences, and curbed the self- destructive streak that had been only too obvious to those above him in the chain of command. Over time she had become more deeply involved in Lee’s work. She’d learned skills and practiced talents she hadn’t realized she had.
Amanda still had to pinch herself sometimes to make it all feel real, but it was, and the job they did was an important job. Working through the Agency she and Lee handled missions that were of vital importance to international and domestic security. Those missions were the reason her children weren’t here now. Growing boys asked too many questions for their own good sometimes, and so did her mother.
*What would mother think,* Amanda had found herself wondering more than once, *if she knew I’m now considered proficient at picking certain types of locks?* That was only one skill she had had to learn.
Amanda had blushed—long and hard—at lessons in ‘distracting’ men while picking their pockets. Of course, she’d always known that certain body contacts could be distracting, but she’d never been forced to think about it so specifically or so clinically. She’d gotten quite good at picking both locks and pockets over time. She’d gotten good at many things.
…And over time Amanda King knew she’d fallen in love with Lee Stetson. It hadn’t happened all at once, and surely not while he was yelling at her those first few weeks, but it had happened. Protecting him had given her a reason to care about him; caring about him had set her up for what she knew could only be her own personal disaster. She was his partner and his friend. That was how it was. That was how it would be.
Amanda found she had stopped shaking, but the frightening image that had roused her from slumber was still fresh in her mind. It had seemed so real. Without turning on the bedside light, Amanda reached for the phone and swiftly dialed Lee’s home number. At three o’clock in the morning he should be home. He might not be, but he should be.
Amanda blushed at the possibility that Lee might still be ‘out’ at this hour of the morning, but somehow she felt certain he ‘must’ be home by now.
He had to be. He was hurt. He needed her. She knew it. “Lee.” Amanda’s voice shook as she listened to the muted purr of his ringing phone. She waited fearfully for a response. “Please, be there. Please, be all right.”
On the second ring, the phone was picked up.
“Wha—huh? Amanda?” Lee’s voice sounded barely cognizant and more than a little incoherent. She’d awakened him from a sound sleep.
“Lee, are you all right?”
“I’m—I’m fine.” Lee Stetson had indeed been sound asleep when the insistent ringing of his phone awakened him. Groggily he rubbed a hand across his eyes. He had been exhausted when he got home a few hours earlier; he never slept that soundly unless he totally spent.
“Amanda, what’s wrong?”
Lee was more coherent now and concerned about her obvious distress. Pulling himself up against the bookcase headboard of his rumpled Hollywood bed, he squinted, his eyes focusing on the dial of the heavy brass alarm clock beside him: three o’clock in the morning. He groaned. It was actually a little after three.
“Where are you?” This had to be important or she’d never be calling him now.
“I—Lee, oh God, I feel so stupid—I’m home. I had a dream, I guess. You were hurt. I could see you lying on the floor. You were bleeding and calling for me. I was so sure….” Her voice trailed off. She was an idiot. She’d made a fool of herself and he would never, absolutely never let her live this down.
“Amanda, it’s okay. I’m fine. Are you sure you’re all right? And your mother and the boys?”
‘Scarecrow’ swung his legs over the side of his bed feeling instinctively for the gun hidden between the mattress and the box springs. Its cool metal presence reassured him.
“Mother and the boys are visiting a friend of mother’s in Boston. It’s school vacation right now, and I thought that would be for the best. So, they wouldn’t be here to get into trouble. They do ask an awful lot of question, you know.” Amanda realized she was rambling and forced herself to stop. “I feel like such an idiot, Lee. I’m sorry.”
“It’s okay,” he reassured her. His own heart rate and breathing had returned to nearly normal levels. Getting awakened like this in the middle of the night was definitely not for the faint of heart. “I’m fine. Guess it’s better to be safe than sorry.” He found himself smiling at her needless anxiety.
“Thanks,” she responded solemnly realizing just how big a blunder she had made. *My God,* she thought, *what if he had had someone there with him. What if he still did?* Her face flamed vivid scarlet.
“Good night, Lee,” she swiftly ended the conversation and hung up the phone carefully.
“Good night, Amanda,” Lee told the dead line. She hadn’t even waited for his response. He smiled to himself as he placed the phone back in its cradle.
Yawning and stretching his tall frame, he stood up. As long as he was awake, he might as well make a pit stop and grab something to eat. He scratched his chest through the light blue, cotton pajama top. Pajamas were one of Amanda’s affects on his life. He could almost hear her shocked voice the first time she’d realized, on an overnight assignment, that he preferred to sleep “au naturel.”
“But what if there’s a fire?” she had sputtered at him. That Christmas she had gifted him with three very conservative pairs of men’s pajamas. He didn’t think he’d like them, but, having agreed to try them, he’d found them surprisingly comfortable and practical. He’d been able to turn his apartment temperature down at night so his open bedroom window didn’t turn the heat on constantly.
Lee liked sleeping with the window open all year round; the smell of fresh air made falling asleep just a little bit easier. There were too many monsters in his personal closet to make falling asleep ever an easy process unless he was dead tired, but the cool, clean scent of fresh air made it somehow less difficult.
He drew a deep breath. He could smell magnolia blossoms and, he thought, cherry blossoms on the night air. He wasn’t sure there were cherry blossoms in Georgetown, but he knew there were plenty in D.C. right now.
Lee loved Washington, D.C. in the spring. With its parks and public buildings, it was one of the prettiest cities in his opinion, and he’d seen a lot of them. Sure it had its older neighborhoods and run-down sections, but it was the nation’s capital and there was a certain sense of pride that went with that all the time. In late March and early April, however, he couldn’t help thinking it was like a little piece of heaven.
Wandering purposefully across the deep plush rug toward his apartment’s small kitchen area, he felt something brush his ankle. He froze. His reflexes were that good.
He had triggered a trap. A tripwire ran from the closed wooden doors of his clothes closet to the sill of his open bedroom window. The heavier, room-darkening, blue damask curtains hung still and straight on either side of multi-paned window glass while the thin white sheers blew gently back and forth in the cool breeze from his obviously still- open third floor window.
Light from the nearest street lamp outside illuminated his predicament in muted shades of gray, like an old black-and-white movie. He groaned at his own stupidity. The bomb or whatever it was had to be in his closet, and the intruder who had placed it had obviously entered and exited through that open window. To any good second-story man such a window would only have been a challenge.
Someone knew where he lived. They’d known he’d leave that window open, and they’d used that knowledge against him. He couldn’t believe he’d apparently, somehow, slept through the process…or, maybe, he hadn’t. Maybe the trap had been laid much earlier and he had simply sprung it now.
He’d come home so exhausted he hadn’t even bothered to do his usual security-systems’ check. He’d dropped his clothes on the bedside chair and flopped bonelessly onto the bed. His pajamas had been on the bed. He hadn’t gone near the closet or the kitchen.
*Shit!* he thought angrily to himself. *When you screw it up, Stetson, you screw it up big time.*
Whenever the trap had been set, it had been sprung now, and now he had to make a decision. If he were very steady and very lucky, he could stand still until someone found him and disarmed the device in his closet…assuming that the device was purely tripwire activated. If the tripwire had activated a timer, he shivered. In that event, waiting would do him absolutely no good at all. The explosion he anticipated would occur when the preset time limit expired.
He had no way of knowing which kind of threat he faced. He could stay still and wait for help, or he could attempt a dive and tumble putting the bulk of the big bed between himself and the explosion he was sure would be forthcoming. It was a gamble either way.
He heard a popping sound, not loud but distinct, and in that moment the decision became moot. A barrage of hardwood—fragments and panels—from what had been his closet doors and heavier metal pieces from the explosive device itself drove him back against the side of the bed. He fell half-on, half-off it, his right arm hanging at an impossible angle and red rivulets flowing down the same side of his face and body, patterning both cloth and skin with horrific designs. He strove to reach his gun, the phone, anything.
“Amanda….” He thought he said her name aloud, but he couldn’t hear it himself over the continual ringing and clicking in his ears. He saw silent flames begin to dance through his wardrobe and smelled the acrid scent of smoke.
There was nothing he could do. It was too late. He was too tired. It hurt too much. With his left hand wedged awkwardly between mattress and springs, he slid into the cold blackness of unconsciousness.