"What the hell have you done to him?"
Billy was standing in the doorway of Dr. McJohn's office and even from here, he could hear Lee yelling from the Quarantine room all the way down the hall.
"You got my message – you know why he's locked up," answered McJohn with a shrug.
"I know what you found – I want to know why you felt compelled to do that," Billy shot back, gesturing behind him where the yelling was now accompanied by the drumming of Lee pounding on the locked door.
"If those blood tests are accurate, I need to keep him in solitary until we can test him again," replied the doctor. "And since it's Scarecrow, the only way we could accomplish that was to lock him in there."
Billy walked further into the office and dropped into the seat opposite McJohn's desk. "Do you think there's any possibility the blood tests you have are wrong?" he asked seriously. "This doesn't sound like the Lee Stetson I've known for over ten years – he had to have been targeted some other way."
"It could be, but I don't think so," the doctor sighed. "That's why we tested him twice. The thing is, we've seen traces of this before in random tests among agents here, including him, but it was always in such tiny amounts that they were within the margin of error." He shrugged at Billy's raised brow and reached over and pointed to the result line on the file Billy was holding. "It was never enough to follow up on and it could have just been a test error. But this is a spike up beyond what we've ever seen. This suggests a fairly large dose was absorbed into the bloodstream sometime in the last twelve hours maximum."
Billy grunted as he took in that assessment. "Twelve hours? So do you think it happened while he was still overseas or is it more recent?"
"You mean, did it happen since he got off a plane?" McJohn paused to consider that, before finally shaking his head. "No, sorry Billy – I can't make a guess at that until I see another blood test and see what the half-life rate is. And in the meantime – I need him to stay here under guard until we can prove it one way or another."
"Can I talk to him?"
"You can try," answered McJohn with a wry look. "He's pretty pissed off and probably not the best conversationalist right now."
"Yeah, I get that impression," Billy gave a sarcastic chuckle. "I'll take my chances though."
"He needs to understand he can't leave the medical facility for his own good, if we're going to figure this out one way or another – maybe you can get through to him," McJohn replied.
"I'll do my best," said Billy, getting back on his feet. He walked down the hall until he was directly outside the door to the Quarantine Room, where the sounds of an enraged Scarecrow could still be heard from within.
"Lee? I'm coming in – move away from the door," he called out.
"Billy? You better be here to spring me or so help me God…"
"Scarecrow! Move away from the door and sit down or I'll leave you in there for longer just for the hell of it!" barked Billy with one eye on the video feed that let him see what Lee was doing. There was a moment of silence and then he watched as Lee walked away from the door and flung himself against the far wall.
Billy gestured for the military guard to open the door, then stepped in, waiting for the door to close and lock behind him before walking forward to take a seat at the table. Lee glared at him, arms crossed and petulant expression.
"Would someone please tell me what the HELL is going on?" he snarled in a quiet voice that was somehow more worrisome to Billy than the shouting that had been going on before.
"McJohn didn't tell you?" he asked.
"Nobody will tell me anything, Billy!" Lee was getting worked up again. He pushed himself off the wall and began to pace. "One second I'm getting my stupid post-mission physical, the next minute, there's an armed guard locking me up in here!" He took a deep breath and ran his hand over the back of his head and neck. "What the hell is going on? Why am I in quarantine? What have I been exposed to? Is it contagious? Because if it is, I need to get…" he stopped, both talking and pacing, obviously too overcome with panic to go on.
"Well if you were contagious, I sure as hell wouldn't be in here, would I?" asked Billy, tackling his last question first and watched Lee sag with relief.
"Thank God," Lee breathed out. He stood like that for a moment, staring down at his feet before finally looking back up at his boss and friend. "So why am I here? What did the tests show?" he asked with concern.
Billy opened the file and held it out to him. "We're going to need an explanation for this one, Scarecrow – and it better be good."
Lee took the file and stared down at it, eyes scanning until he saw the result Billy was talking about. He looked up, shocked. "That's impossible! The test must be wrong!"
"Tests," Billy corrected him. "McJohn ran two different samples and they both came back with that result." He leaned back, somewhat reassured by Lee's horrified reaction but still confused. "So, you got any explanation for it?"
"Of course I don't! You can't possibly think I'd have done this to myself?"
Billy shrugged, trying not to look as worried as he felt. "I wouldn't have thought so, no, but you and I have both seen agents succumb to burnout. Maybe this last mission was too long or more difficult than you let on, maybe you were looking for something to fill a void…"
"Billy! Do you know how crazy you sound? This is me – why on earth would I be looking to fix anything in my life? I love my life, I love my job, and I love Am- … having a partner I get along with. You know this doesn't make any sense! And why can't I leave? I feel fine! "
If Billy noticed the slip Lee had almost made, he pretended not to. "Well, we're waiting on another test but you're not going anywhere until we find out how and when this happened."
"Well, I was on a plane for nine hours and then I came here, so it had to have happened before I left Europe!" Lee reasoned.
"And you felt no ill effects in all that time?" Billy asked searchingly. "You claim you had nothing to do with this but that you didn't notice any side effects?"
At that moment, the door opened again and Dr. McJohn walked in with a sheet of paper and a serious expression. Wasting no time, he handed it to Billy and said. "The current blood count says no more than eight hours."
"Eight hours until what?" asked Lee in a panic.
"Not until, Scarecrow, eight hours since," replied the doctor. "The breakdown speed says you got this in your system sometime in the last eight hours."
"Well, that's impossible," blustered Lee. "I was on a plane all night and then I came straight here."
Billy studied the paper on front of him and then looked up with a scowl. "I was hoping it wasn't going to come to this –but you're going to stay locked up in here until you come up with a better explanation."
"I don't have a better explanation" retorted Lee. "I told you that! Unless it happened on the plane, there is no way this happened in that time frame!"
"Keep digging, Scarecrow, because that's your own grave you're working on!" snapped Billy. He stood up and jabbed a finger at Lee. "You see, I happen to have seen the alerts in from Dulles so I know you weren't on a plane eight hours ago. I know you got back to DC last night – and unless you have a hell of an alibi, your story of not having done this to yourself is looking pretty damn sketchy!" He leaned forward on the table. "So how about it? You got another version you'd like to tell me? Some handy witness to be your alibi maybe? Something that explains why you changed your flight and didn't come straight here as per the rules?"
Lee opened his mouth, then snapped it shut with an audible click of his teeth and his face settled into a blank mask.
"So that's how you're going to play this?" asked Billy. "Well, I guess I've got some digging to do – and you want to know where I'm going to start?" He watched as a flare of panic went by in Lee's eyes. Oh yes, I know exactly where I'm going to start.
Eight hours earlier.
Amanda let herself in the back door, exhausted from the evening out helping Francine with the warehouse surveillance. It hadn't been that physical, but she was stiff from sitting in the cramped car, and it had gone later than either of them had expected and now it was way past midnight, and on a night when she'd wanted to get a good night's sleep too. Lee would be home in the morning and with any luck, she wouldn't be getting any sleep tomorrow night, she grinned to herself.
She dropped her coat on one of the kitchen chairs and turned to get the milk out, intending to warm a mug of it before finally climbing into that bed that was calling her in siren tones. That was when she spotted the open cake container on the counter – the label with "For Lee – Do NOT Eat!" lying on the floor where it had obviously fallen and – oh no, it wasn't possible – a full half of Lee's favorite cake gone.
"No, no, no, no!" she groaned, stalking toward the counter to assess the damage. "I'm going to kill them," she muttered angrily, glancing upward to where the boys were no doubt happily sleeping off this raid. She paused and poked sorrowfully at the remains. She had only barely had time to make this for Lee's return home before she'd gone out and she definitely wouldn't have time tomorrow – unless she stayed up now for another hour or got up extra early to try and make another one before work. Neither of those were really an option – she was only going to get a few hours of sleep now as it was – if she even got any, angry as she was now. "I'm going to kill them," she repeated, a little more loudly this time in her frustration.
"Kill who?" asked a laughing voice from the family room. "Anyone I know? And should I be stopping you or helping you?"
"Lee!" Amanda squealed as she watched her husband unfold himself from where he'd been lying on the sofa. "When did you get here?" She flew out of the kitchen and into his arms, which folded around her instantly, pulling her in close. Her question was forgotten and left unanswered as she lifted her face to his to let him kiss her. After so many weeks away, Amanda was almost giddy as she was enveloped in his warmth, his hands caressing her while his tongue swept along the seam of her lips, pushing for entrance. With a happy sigh, she parted them immediately, pushing up onto her toes in an effort to press her mouth more fully against his, wriggling slightly so that she could free her arms to wrap around his shoulders and let her hands run through his hair. With a groan, he wrenched his lips from hers and began an assault down her neck as he stepped back to sit on the back of the sofa, pulling her to stand between his legs as his hands continued to roam, as did hers. Within a minute, both of them had their shirts untucked and half unbuttoned, both of them needing to touch the heated skin of their beloved.
It was Amanda who came to her senses first and pushed away from him slightly before they could take this any further in the bright lights and very public setting of her family room. Lee was only a beat behind her, sighing as she leaned back, gasping for breath.
"I missed you," she said, taking his face between her hands and studying him carefully as if she needed to re-memorize his features.
"I missed you too," he smiled, running his fingers along her cheek and jaw with much the same expression on his face.
"When did you get here? I wasn't expecting to see you until tomorrow! If you'd told me, I would have told Francine what she could do with that surveillance job tonight! Have you already been to the Agency for your debrief – can we take tomorrow off and just spend it together somewhere? I had a whole cake ready to take to your place and I was going to make Beef Wellington…"
"Amanda!" Lee interrupted the ramble laughing. "I got here about an hour ago and I didn't tell you because I wanted to surprise you – more fool me for not thinking that you might be working – and no, I haven't gone for my debrief yet because I wanted to see you first." The last few words were said in a low sexy growl that sent shivers down her spine.
"Billy won't be happy you broke that rule," she murmured, even as she leaned in to nip his neck seductively.
"Don't care," he muttered back. "What difference is a few hours going to make?"
"Hopefully quite a lot – for me," she giggled.
"Exactly," he smiled. "And besides, what he doesn't know won't hurt him – I never told anyone I was changing my flight to get here earlier…" His hand slipped between her legs to cup her suggestively through the fabric of her jeans.
"Oh good," Amanda gasped happily now. "So he's not expecting you for a while then?"
"Not until at least seven – although I'll need to be out of here long before then if we don't want your family seeing me sneak out," he sighed.
A flash of annoyance went across her face at the timely reminder. "You know, it used to be kind of fun sneaking around like teenagers, but now I just want my husband to come home and stay home!" She toyed with the top button of his shirt and looked into his eyes. "Don't you?"
"I do, I really do," he groaned in agreement. "It's time to talk about how we're going to get this out in the open."
"Good," she nodded firmly, then began to smile again. "But not right now, right? It's not time for talk, right now, is it?"
"God no," he groaned, pulling her close again and starting to kiss her again.
"We should take this somewhere more private," she whispered against his lips in between kisses. "Unless you need anything first? Sandwich, warm milk to help you sleep maybe?" He loved that he could hear the laugh bubbling up in her chest as she rested against his.
"None of the above," he laughed. "Not with half a cake already in me."
Amanda pulled back slightly and looked at him in astonishment. "You ate all that by yourself? The boys hadn't already raided it?"
"Nope," he admitted. "I was starving when I got here and there it was, all wrapped up with my name on it… and I was just going to have one piece, or maybe two…" He began trailing light kisses along her collarbone. "And then you still weren't home, so I had another piece and you still weren't home and then it just didn't look right, so I had to even up the sides…" He nipped her neck softly. "Good thing you got here when you did. I might have had to eat the whole thing from pure loneliness."
"Well, I'm here but after that much cake, I'm not sure you should be doing any physical activity," she teased him. "You might get a cramp."
"Isn't that just for swimming though?" he asked, straightening up and swinging her up into his arms and walking toward the steps up to the landing.
"Well, I don't know - you have been known to leave quite the wet spot, Scarecrow," she teased him, regretting it when he choked with laughter hard enough that he almost dropped her.
"God, I missed you," he said, stopping to kiss her again.
"Missed you too," she agreed. "But now we're just wasting time."
"So who's actually home?" he asked in a low tone as he carried her quietly up the stairs.
"Just the boys, and they'll be sound asleep," she whispered back. "I told Phillip he was old enough to be in charge for one night – that's why I was so mad about the cake. Mother's staying over at Curt's."
"You West women," he teased as he toed the bedroom door open.
"Not at all," he grinned as he placed her gently on her feet and turned to close and lock the door behind them.
"Good," she commented as she began to make quick work of undoing his shirt buttons and pushing it off his shoulders as he did the same to her, one hand snaking up her back to snap the clasp of her bra open so he could pull it off and discard it as well. Like magnets, they found their way back into each other's arms, warm skin against skin. Hands raced to trouser buttons, then with a laugh, they simultaneously realized how much faster they could be doing this. They stepped apart, each one free now to wriggle out of the rest of their clothes, before crashing back together in a meeting of lips, tongues, and touch that had been missing for too long.
Amanda stepped back to drop onto the bed, beckoning an all-too-willing Lee to join her. As familiar with each other's bodies as their own, fingers found their way unerringly to the tender spots, the ticklish places that weren't ticklish in the heat of passion, but rather a shortcut to increased nerve shocks, to those places where each knew they'd provoke the groans and gasps of pure desire. Also secure in the knowledge that they would have time later to examine each other more slowly and with prolonged pleasure, they allowed pure instinct to overcome, tangling limbs together as they ground together, eager for the joining that they'd both been missing.
"Oh God, yes!" Amanda moaned as Lee slid home into her heat. She lifted a leg and wrapped it around his, rocking up to bring him deeper.
Lee groaned something against her neck, it may have been her name or an expletive – she certainly didn't care, as they began moving together, neither aware of anything except the feel of beloved hands, the scent of musk meant only for their own senses, the gasped out words meant only for their own ears.
All too soon, Lee could feel it, the oncoming whiteout and struggled to hold it back. "Amanda," he moaned. "I'm…"
"I know," she answered breathlessly. "Come on, Sweetheart, come home to me."
He gave up the fight, letting the sensations wash over him as he released into her welcome warmth. He cried out against her skin, knowing that even with the boys all the way down the hall, there was still some need for quiet. They lay for a moment, both breathless and covered in a layer of perspiration that was cooling them but not quickly. "I'm sorry," he finally managed to say. "I just couldn't hold on."
"Shhh," she said softly. "It's ok. Just…" She pushed him up and rolled him onto his back, following so quickly that they remained locked together, his erection still partially hard inside her. "Just touch me," she whispered as she began to move gently against him, grinding against his pelvis with a catch in her breath.
Lee watched her through half-closed eyes, lost above him in pure sensation as he ran his hands along her heated skin, rolling her peaked nipples between his fingers before letting one hand trail down to caress and tickle the silky skin above her pelvic bone. It only took a minute or so before her breath was quickening as his had earlier and she began to shake Her head dropped to her chest followed by a long exhale of pure pleasure as her body spasmed around his, and then she was falling forward into his embrace, breathing out his name in blissful tones.
"I love you," he told her as she shook against him, heart racing.
"I love you too," she smiled sleepily at him. "I'm glad you're home." She slowly untangled herself, and slid into the spot alongside him, tucking into the circle of his arm where she belonged.
"Me too," he answered, already half asleep.
Billy was on his way back down the hall toward the elevator when the door slid open and his quarry burst out into his path.
"Ah, good morning, Amanda," he said genially. "How are you?"
"Where is he?" she asked curtly, all her usual politeness gone.
"Who?" asked Billy, enjoying himself just a little bit.
"Lee – where is he?" Judging from her scowl, Amanda was not in the mood for games. "Francine said he came down for his post-mission physical hours ago and that he hasn't been allowed back upstairs."
"Ah yes, that's true," allowed Billy. "Dr McJohn has him in quarantine."
"Quarantine?" Amanda's voice went up in volume. "Why? No, never mind why – I want to see him."
"Amanda, you do understand the point of quarantine, right?" he couldn't resist teasing her. He was instantly regretful when she went pale and took a step backward, panic written clearly on her face.
"I need to see him," she repeated firmly. "I don't care if he's contagious or not."
"Billy! I'm going to see him! You can't stop me, I'm his partner and his- " she stopped abruptly.
"His what?" asked Billy, wondering if Amanda was finally going to come clean about their relationship, whatever it was.
"His emergency contact," she answered lamely. She went to duck past Billy toward the medical offices but he put out a hand to stop her.
"Amanda, calm down. He's not contagious and he's not ill. He's only in quarantine to keep him from busting out of here and doing anything rash." He took her by the arm and began walking slowly back toward the clinic. "Come on, we're going to go talk to Dr. McJohn – I'm hoping you might have some idea of what might have happened."
"I won't discuss Lee without him there," she said in a warning tone. "If we have to talk, we're doing it in front of him."
"Fine," he sighed. "Let's go get the doc and see if we can't get this straightened out."
Five minutes later, the three of them had joined Lee in his room, Lee leaning against a far wall looking furious, Amanda fidgeting at the table with McJohn and Billy
Billy had said nothing when they'd walked in, and Amanda had walked straight into Lee's arms, both of them appearing to draw strength from the embrace. And he'd only watched as they'd finally stepped apart, eyes on each other in some kind of silent conversation, before Amanda had turned to stare at the other two men accusingly.
Oh dear Lord, she's going to cover for him.
He didn't voice that out loud, simply motioning for them to sit. Lee hadn't but Amanda had come unwillingly to see what was going on, staring down in disbelief at the same test results that had brought them all there. But now he tapped the file and said, "You know what this means, don't you?"
"You know this is a waste of time, Billy," snarled Lee. "Amanda isn't going to believe I'd do that either, so bringing her in here to pressure me isn't going to accomplish anything."
"Well, of course I don't believe you'd do this!" Amanda head snapped up, eyes flashing. "No one who knows you would believe it! She turned to look accusingly at the other two. "Do you?"
"If you'd asked me yesterday, I would have said never in a million years," answered the doctor. "But I've run and rerun those tests and they keep coming up with the same result – sometime in the last…" - he paused and consulted his watch- "Nine hours now, Lee ingested a significant dose of heroin. Now he claims he didn't do so willingly, but he also claims that he has noticed no side effects from having being dosed by someone else."
"Well, the test results are wrong!"
"You seem very sure," commented Billy.
"Of course I'm sure – Lee wouldn't lie about something like this! There's something wrong with the test – they're probably thrown off by something else." She paused to think, then went on hopefully. "Like low blood sugar or something – you know he never eats breakfast. Couldn't something like that have an effect?"
McJohn thought about it for a moment, then shook his head. "It probably could on some tests but not on this one – the heroin levels are showing too high."
"Besides, I did eat breakfast and you know it," Lee sighed, pushing off the wall and coming to sit beside Amanda at the table and taking her hand. "This is pointless and we're not going to get anywhere until I come clean so to speak. Billy, you already know I got back last night. Well, I was with Amanda from just after midnight last night until 6:30 this morning when we had breakfast together and then I drove straight here from Arlington."
There was a long silence as Billy took in the significance of the confession and McJohn looked back and forth between them, grinning with sudden understanding.
"Well, I'd hardly call that breakfast," said Amanda, desperate to break that silence. "A cup of coffee and a slice of cake isn't exactly the breakfast of champions." She looked back at Billy and McJohn, flushed with embarrassment. "I still can't get him to eat a proper meal in the morning."
"You were at Amanda's all night?" repeated Billy. "You went there from the airport? Instead of coming here like you're supposed to after a foreign mission?"
"Yes," said Lee, half guiltily, half petulantly. "I did. And she will tell you there was only the two of us there except for two sleeping kids – so unless you think Amanda dosed me with an opiate in my sleep – these results are wrong somehow."
"And you just couldn't follow the rules, could you, Scarecrow?" Billy was getting angry again now. "You couldn't wait a few more hours and do things by the book for once?"
"No, I couldn't!" Lee flared up in response. "It had been six weeks since I'd seen my wife and I wanted to go home! And you'd have done the same!"
There wasn't a sound from anyone for several seconds as Lee's words echoed in the small room.
"Oh Sweetheart," murmured Amanda, trying not to laugh. "I don't think this was the time to talk about it either."
"Your wife?" Billy looked back and forth between them as if he was trying to decide if this was an elaborate prank.
"Yes," Lee and Amanda answered in unison.
Billy looked stunned for several seconds, and then finally began to chuckle. "Okay, well I told you better have a good alibi, Lee but you've outdone yourself." He turned to look at the doctor. "Okay – if he has a witness – and I think we can all agree Amanda didn't drug him – and he saw no one else from midnight until he got here… what the hell is happening with those tests?"
McJohn stared thoughtfully at the guilty couple in front of him, then back down at the file in front of him. "Well, I suppose we better test Mrs. King as well," he said finally, before going on with a quick smile. "Or rather Mrs. Stetson." He turned serious again. "I mean, if he didn't see anyone else, and he only ate at her house, it's possible there's something in the food there."
Amanda shot to her feet. "At my house? My mother and the boys have been eating that same food!"
"Amanda, Honey, calm down!" Lee grabbed her hand to keep her from leaving immediately to go home. "We'll get a team over there – but we can run a quick test anyway – I have the rest of that cake in my car, remember? We packed it up to take back to my apartment and that's the only thing I ate at your house except for a cup of coffee this morning. And you had some from the same pot and you aren't having any side effects either, right?"
"You're right," she answered, calming down. "If I go get the rest of the cake, can you test it now? I mean, I don't understand how it could be in there because I made it from scratch, just like I always do."
"Yes, go get it and we'll do it right away," agreed McJohn.
Amanda turned to leave but stopped at the sudden bark of laughter from Billy, turning to look at him with a raised brow.
"I'm sure it's not possible but I have heard…" He paused and looked at Amanda. "What kind of cake is it?"
"What?" asked Amanda, completely confused.
"What kind of cake is it?" he repeated carefully. "Because I know what Lee's favorite is and I'm just wondering…"
Lee sat bolt upright as he saw where Billy was heading. "Oh my God! It's poppy seed!"
"Of course it is!" Billy began to wheeze with laughter. "And how much of it did you eat?"
Lee had begun to laugh in relief. "Four slices last night and another for breakfast! Oh my God, Amanda – it's the cake!"
"My cake has heroin in it?" she asked doubtfully. "And you all are happy about that?"
"No." It was McJohn who answered her now, broad smile on his face. "Heroin comes from poppies – and ingesting significant amounts of poppy seeds can cause a test like this to come out positive!" A look of dawning comprehension came over his face and he began to laugh as hard as Billy and Lee. "Oh for heaven's sake– that's why we've been getting those trace results in agents doing the random drug tests! They'd probably just had some of those cakes you bring in all the time!"
"I've been poisoning the entire Agency with my cakes all this time?" asked Amanda in horror.
"Oh no, nothing like that!" McJohn reassured her between gasps of laughter. "They're not dangerous – they just skew results on certain tests."
Amanda sat down again heavily in the chair beside Lee. "You're not poisoned?"
"I'm not," he agreed, picking up her hand and kissing her palm. "But maybe from now on, I'll obey that rule about getting my physical before I go home. Just in case, you know, the cocoa in your brownies turns out to have cocaine in it or something." He started to laugh again before being stopped short by Billy.
"Oh I can think of a few rules you won't be breaking again, Scarecrow," said Billy in a stern voice. "Like not informing your superior officers of changes to your marital status, for instance?"
The guilty duo froze then slowly turned to look at their irate boss, relaxing only when they saw his lips start to twitch.
"Ahhhh, right. Umm, Billy, can we take you out for lunch? I'm starving and well, Amanda has something to tell you." He gave a slight "oof" as his wife punched him in the arm.
"We better invite Francine too," commented Amanda. "She was already upset that you were locked up down here and we really should have told her before now."
"And if we do it somewhere public, she can't yell," agreed Lee, nodding.
"No, that's not fair – she deserves better than that," scolded Amanda. "You get everything cleared here – he can leave right?" she looked at the doctor questioningly who nodded with a smile – "And I'll get her to meet me in a nice soundproof interrogation room and tell her before we leave. Then the worst you'll have to put up with is snarky remarks."
"You're really willing to do that?" asked Billy in disbelief. "You're braver than I am, Amanda!"
Lee scooted closer to Amanda and pulled her against him, shaking with laughter. "See Billy? You should never have doubted me – this is all the heroine I need right here!"