By Taya Johnston (Tjsmklvr)
Synopsis: A grown-up 'what if' story based on Ship of Spies.
Timeframe: Mid-to-Late Season 3
Disclaimer: Scarecrow and Mrs. King and its characters belong to Warner Brothers, CBS, and Shoot the Moon Enterprises. No infringement is intended. This story was written for entertainment purposes only. Please do not redistribute or reproduce without my written permission.
A/N: Special thanks to my beta crew – you ladies help me to be a better writer . . . and you crack me up in the process. Credit to Robert Bielak for writing the episode Ship of Spies. Excerpts from that episode are contained within this story.
She squeezed her eyes shut willing her stomach to return to its rightful position. As the plane ascended into the clear, blue sky, her grip on the armrest seemed to tighten of its own volition. She felt the firm grasp of her partner's hand on hers. Amanda peeked out her right eye to see Lee's worried hazel eyes looking back at her. "You okay, Partner?" His rich baritone inquired.
Amanda quickly closed her eye and swallowed before nodding almost imperceptibly. After a few moments she felt him lift the armrest that separated them and pull her toward him, nestling her in the crook of his arm. She tensed at first, before she finally relaxed into him. She couldn't help the small smile that appeared on her face as his aftershave surrounded her senses.
"I think we're finally leveling out now. It should be smooth from here on out." He whispered close to her ear. The warm hum soothed her tattered nerves.
She nodded absently. No matter how often she flew, she never could get used to the takeoffs. Even as a little girl she had always had a problem with them, never the landing, only the takeoff. Her thoughts were thrown back in time to when her mother and father had taken her to visit her very ill great-grandmother in Maine. Amanda sat between them peppering each of her parents with questions of 'how the plane stayed up in the sky' and 'how the pilot knew where they were when they were up so high above the clouds.' It had nearly driven her father crazy and he'd scolded her. Dotty had admonished her husband and reminded him that this was their daughter's first flight and that she was just scared.
Amanda watched as her father's eyes softened and he smiled down on her before he sang softly into her ear. "A-man-da, A-man-da, I love you! You're my sweetie, and I love you true. I love to give you kisses, lots and lots of kisses. So I will come and give you one on your sweet, little head." He kissed her on the top of her head and pulled her toward him.
"You're safe, Panda. I promise." He soothed.
She stared into the eyes of her father, contemplating his promise. Satisfied with the comfort and sureness she saw, she snuggled into him and fell asleep.
Amanda was jostled awake and lifted her head in a momentary daze before colliding into Lee's chin.
"Oh my gosh! Lee, I'm so sorry. I guess I fell asleep and then . . . well I wasn't and I didn't know where I was –"
"It's okay. It was my fault. I got a cramp in my arm and I didn't want to wake you, but then it got worse." He absently rubbed his chin that was nearly taken out by her head. "Is your head okay?" He asked as almost an afterthought.
"Yeah, I think you took the brunt of it." She rubbed his chin with her thumb. "I'm pretty hard-headed, you know." She smiled as she thought of all the times he'd reminded her of that very statement.
"Oh, I know! Believe me, I know." His deep laugh penetrated her thoughts.
Her mouth dropped open in disbelief. "Hey!" She grumbled and swatted his stomach.
He squeezed her forearm and smiled that special smile that she was certain was meant only for her. He gazed into her eyes and rather than look away as she normally did, she held his stare. A smile formed on her face of its own accord. He smiled broadly back at her until she heard a loud "Oof!" come from his mouth and the sound of bone hitting metal. She tore her eyes away from her charming partner just in time to see the drink cart being pushed up the aisle, leaving Lee to rub his left elbow.
"Oh no! Poor Lee!" She attempted to rub his elbow.
"What is it with beautiful women trying to kill me on this flight?" He winked but continued to rub his battered elbow.
"So, are you going to tell me why we're going on this very last-minute cruise? I mean, it must be pretty urgent if I didn't even have time to pack."
"I warned you on my way to pick you up." He protested.
"Warned me? Lee, you called me five minutes from my house and told me we were on a case and not to even bother packing!"
"I told you not to worry. The Agency has packed everything you could possibly need."
She snorted and rolled her eyes. "Everything, huh? We'll see about that."
"Amanda, they are trained professionals. They can anticipate any scenario. I assure you, you'll be fine. It's just a 5-day cruise."
"It's just, I mean . . ." She scanned the area within earshot and lowered her voice. "How does some analyst that doesn't even know me, know what I need or how I'll look in something?"
"The Agency has your measurements and notes on your style. And of course they take into consideration the environment."
"They have my measurements?" She squeaked.
"Sure. Everyone's in Field Section." He stated matter-of-factly.
She shook her head in disbelief. Even after three years in this crazy business she was still amazed at the extent of information the organization had.
At her sigh he continued. "Tell you what, if when we get on the ship you're missing something that you really need, we'll buy it and expense it. Okay?"
She smiled and nodded her appreciation.
Amanda leaned into him and whispered, "You still haven't told me what our assignment is." Quirking her brow, she awaited his response.
He looked around, indicating their audience. "Later."
She knew he was right. They couldn't exactly discuss Agency business on a plane full of people. Of course, it didn't make her any less curious, but she understood. She pulled the flight magazine from the pouch in front of her and flipped through it, trying to pass the time.
The cab ride from the airport was frustratingly quiet. Amanda was anxiously awaiting details on their assignment and Lee seemed unusually nervous. It had been a long time since he withheld details from her. What was it about this assignment that was making him so cagey?
Just when she couldn't take it any longer, the cab pulled into the harbor. Several very large ships came into view and she wondered which one they would be traveling on. The massive bows were a stark contrast to the blue cloudless sky that surrounded them. She was pulled from her thoughts as the cab came to a stop in front of a large white ship with large red ribbons painted on its stern.
"Darling?" Lee called to her.
At her confused look, he indicated to the cab driver and smiled. "Are you ready to get on the ship, Darling?"
"Oh! Yes, Sweetheart. I was just mesmerized by all these ships." She took his proffered hand and stepped out of the yellow cab. "I never realized how massive they are."
"Wait until we board, Darling. It's like its own city." He handed the cabbie a crisp bill and watched as their luggage was handed over to the porter. Lee nodded his appreciation as he slipped him a nice tip as well.
They were making their way onto the gangway from the dock when Lee stopped abruptly and looked around nervously. He pulled Amanda out of line and to the side so they could speak privately.
"Oh, I almost forgot." He reached into his pocket and pulled out a small velvety black box.
"Oh, that looks like an engagement ring." She watched in awe as he slipped the ring on her finger.
"It is an engagement ring. There." He guides her back in line as they move further onto the ship. "See my informant, Orlando Gravis was on this ship when he disappeared. That's why you're here. You're part of my cover." He whispered to her.
"Right." She nodded her understanding as they wove their way through the line.
"We have to be engaged because this is a . . . kind of a . . . well, it's a special cruise."
She watched his eyes dart to and fro, never looking her in the eye. "What kind of special cruise?" she asked nervously.
"Uh, it's a wedding cruise." He shrugged as if it were no big deal.
"Oh." She nodded but continued to listen to her partner intently.
"Nothing but engaged couples, you see."
"Oh, well alright. Sure." She admired the sparkling diamond now adorning her left hand as he continued undeterred.
"So in two days we dock at San Angelo in the Caribbean . . . "
"Yep." She followed along nodding.
"And we all get married -"
"That's asking too much!" She rushed in a panic and turned around to make a break for dry land.
"Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! Where are you going?" He grabbed her arm before she could get too far.
The older couple directly behind them stopped them both in their tracks.
"Now, now, now is that any way to start off 50 years of togetherness, huh?" The gentlemen wearing a powder blue leisure suit declared.
"Oh, Miles you're such a busy body." The redheaded woman next to him laughed good-naturedly at them.
"I'm trust trying to shed a few words of wisdom on the subject of marriage. And who's better qualified than me?" He held up both of his hands, indicating two on each. "I've had four of them!" He laughed in a self-deprecating way.
"Name's Miles Beckwith – plastic's the game. And this little chinchilla here is my fiancé, Jillian Davis. Say 'hello.'"
Lee held out his hand. "How do you do? Lee Stetson. He indicated to his 'fiancé.' "Amanda King."
"Amanda King. Hello, Jil-Jil-Jillian." Amanda replied anxiously.
Without missing a beat, Miles probed. "First cruise?"
Amanda nodded exuberantly. "Yes."
At the same time, Lee responded "No."
"Miles and I met on a cruise last summer."
"Been engaged long?" 'Mr. Questions' inquired.
"Six months." Amanda smiled broadly.
"Three months." Lee responded simultaneously.
Lee tried to laugh it off. "Well, officially three months. Uh, I asked her six months ago."
"It took me a little while to make up my mind." She nodded.
"You really gave a catch like him a chance to throw the hook?" Jillian asked disbelievingly.
"Well, he was pretty firmly hooked." She forced a smile, slightly irritated at what the older woman was insinuating.
"Let's board, shall we?" Lee held out his hand to her and she grasped it desperately.
"Yes! Let's do that." Amanda couldn't get away from the other couple fast enough.