Disclaimer: "Scarecrow and Mrs. King" is copyrighted to Warner Brothers and Shoot the Moon Productions. The plot is mine, but not the characters. This story is meant for enjoyment purposes only. No infringement is intended.

Story challenge: 1000 words or less, single character, plot must be about a person in conflict with an object.


Lee Stetson forlornly stepped out onto the front stoop of the house on Maplewood Drive closing the door firmly behind him, his car keys jingling in his hand. He heaved a deep sigh as he gazed out at his 'vette parked on the street and stepped down on to the path leading to the gate that would take him where he least wanted to be...away from his family. He paused mid-step as he glanced down at the keys with a shake of his head vividly remembering the first day he'd gotten them and how excited he'd been to show them off to Amanda, how when driving his new "baby" around without even realizing it, he'd found himself right where he was now. He remembered her warm, supportive smile, but now for the first time since getting those keys, he hated the sight of them and how they made him feel cold, so different from the warmth he'd felt that night.

He turned to gaze back at the house and then up to the window of the bedroom where he knew his still-recovering bride lay resting now that his stepsons had had their breakfast courtesy of himself and Dotty and had been safely seen off to school on the bus. He knew that he shouldn't be leaving Amanda in just Dotty's care. She was still too weak...too fragile. just simple every day things like bathing or even getting out of bed without pain were a challenge for her. The bullet that had pierced her chest had nearly killed her after all, but Billy had told him on Friday in no uncertain terms that he was expected back in the office first thing Monday morning and that Dr. Smyth would tolerate no further absence on his part since he'd already granted him much more than the standard two weeks for an agent with a disabled partner.

Sighing once again, Lee forced himself to turn away and made his way through the gate, out to the street and flung open the driver's door and sank into his seat slamming the door behind him, the keys still dangling in his hand. He glowered at them angrily and thought about the irony of the feeling that was overtaking him about them: how elated he'd been to have them in his hand when he'd first gotten them, his conversation with her just prior to that about getting attached to cars and how he'd thought at the time that the keys were symbolic for the keys to his heart because as much as he'd tried to deny it to Amanda when his Porsche had become a ball of fire, he really did love his cars. But now...now...

He glanced back up to Amanda's window. She held the real keys to his heart. Shaking his head, he tore his gaze from the window and jammed the key into the ignition, but still didn't start the car. "Just do it, Stetson," he scolded himself. But he couldn't...he knew he couldn't leave her. He'd spent every night since coming home on her couch living out of the suitcases he'd taken on what was supposed to have been their honeymoon, only leaving the house long enough to run errands for Dotty...the grocery store, the pharmacy, the dry cleaners...But mostly his time had been spent looking after Amanda, helping Dotty keep the boys calm to avoid unnecessary stress on his wife. The boys, he thought. He wasn't quite sure what to think there just yet. He was pleased that Phillip seemed to take to him right away and accepted him being around all the time, but Jamie...Jamie kept eyeing him warily as if sizing him up or as if questioning what the hell he was doing there.

Letting out a grunt of frustration, Lee picked up the handset of the mobile phone, he forcefully jabbed at the buttons to punch in the direct line to Billy's office and avoid the runaround of the agency switchboard. When the booming voice of his boss answered, he responded tersely, "Billy, It's me. Don't talk, just listen. Tell Dr. Smyth he can go straight to hell. I don't give a damn that I've exceeded the time off allowed for an injured partner! Amanda is more to me than just my partner, she's my wife."

He then slammed the phone back into its cradle, yanked the keys from the ignition and shoved them into the pocket of his coat, exited his vehicle and strode purposefully back through the gate and up the front walk. He paused on the stoop as he extracted his keys from his pocket once again, smiling as he gazed at the shiny new one on the ring, one that Amanda had insisted he have made while on his many errands. Contrary to what he'd believed about the car keys when first obtaining them, this one was the true key to his heart. Breathing a sigh of relief he used it to let himself into the house that he'd already begun to think of as home.