9/20/2003 The Attache's Jag - Not To Mention His Daughter

By rankamateur

This is in response to a question from a member of the PAX SMK Forum: What did Lucas mean - in "The Long Christmas Eve", written by Peter Lefcourt, about that '...Naval Attache still being hot under the collar....'

The story is set in late summer of 1983 - before that fateful meeting at the train station.

SMK belong to Warner Bros. and Shoot The Moon Enterprises, Ltd.

Thanks to smkukfan, who proposed the challenge, for her insights and helpful suggestions. All mistakes are mine.


"Scarecrow!" The voice boomed out over the hum of activity in the bullpen.

"What?" Lee Stetson, the Agency's most successful intelligence operative and lady's man par excellence, was leaning back in his chair, feet propped up on his desk and a satisfied smile on his face.

"Come into my office, please." William Melrose, the head of Field Section and Lee's boss, turned and began walking towards the door with his name on it, without waiting to see if the likable but unorthodox young agent was following him. Once inside, he motioned to Lee to take a seat, while he eased himself into the chair behind his cluttered desk. Picking up a folder, he held it out to Lee. "I want you to take over this case. It involves a British Naval Attache stationed here in DC, Commander Leland Bennett's his name. Actually, the problem is with his daughter, Minerva Bennett."

"Minerva," Lee repeated with obvious distaste. "Who'd name their kid *Minerva* in this day and age?" It sounded more like an indictment than a question.

"The Commander would. Or his wife would. It doesn't matter. Her name's not important. It's what she's doing carrying on with a Soviet agent that's important." Billy banged his fist on the desk for emphasis.

"A Soviet agent?" Lee repeated. He thumbed through the documents in the folder, one of which was a photo of a lovely young woman, early twenties, he guessed, with shoulder-length auburn hair. Her eyes were blue or maybe green. It was difficult to tell from this picture, but altogether nice. Very nice. She definitely looked like his type. On the other hand, how many beautiful, single young women had he ever met who *weren't* his type? "This is Minerva?" Lee looked up grinning.

"Yes, and don't get any ideas Stetson." His tone was threatening, definitely threatening. "Your job is to protect her from a probable attempt to kidnap her. Not add her name to your little Black Book!"

"BOOKS, Billy." 'Hmm,' he mused. He had two books just about filled up. Minerva might make a good start to book three. He picked up his mug and finished off the coffee. "I need a refill," he reached for the cup on Billy's desk. "How about you?"

"Fine. Thanks. Hurry it up," was Billy's terse response.

Lee just smiled and took the two cups with him.

In a few minutes he returned and placed the now replenished mugs on the desk. Taking a long sip from his, he looked at his superior questioningly. "So how do we know she's in danger of being kidnapped?"

"Well, she has been seeing a Russian agent named Romanoff, Andreas Romanoff." Lee opened his mouth but Billy cut him off. "No, no relation to *the* Romanoffs. Anyway, it seems Commander Bennett had his daughter join him here in order to break up a romance she was having back in England, with some guy that her father didn't think was worthy of her. She's still angry with the old man and is looking for a way to get even with him. Apparently she's made no secret of that. She's talked to a few of the ladies at the Embassy--some of them are our friends--about how angry she is. Anyway, this KGB charm boy has really been putting the moves on her and, according to a source we consider to be very reliable, the Russians are going to kidnap her and hold her for ransom. The payoff being the plans for the latest Anglo-American nuclear sub. The Commander has access to those plans."

"I know this Andreas character. I've seen his picture in the files. Do the Brits know about this? What . . . " Lee started, but Billy stopped him again.

"We've told them as much as we can without compromising our source. This person is in deep cover. It's imperative that we protect their identity. Another problem is, Miss Bennett doesn't trust the security people at her Embassy. Thinks they're all her father's friends and anything they tell her is suspect. All they can do is watch her without her knowing it."

"So, just exactly what am I supposed to do?" Lee had a feeling he knew what was expected of him.

"Well," Billy looked down at his desk, evidently feeling a bit guilty, knowing what he was about to ask. He took a swallow of his no longer hot coffee and finally answered. "Our informant believes that they're going to make their move at the Gala being held at the British Embassy this Friday. We want you to attend the party and to ahh, use your considerable charms on Miss Bennett and keep her away from Romanoff--or any other KGB operative you see at the ball."

"Aha," Lee leaned back in his chair, looking insufferably sure of himself. "You want me to get next to her, dazzle her, save her life . . . but *not* put her name in my little book. That's asking a lot, Billy." He did enjoy teasing his boss.

"That's about it, Scarecrow. She does NOT go in your book!" Growing exasperation was evident in his voice and his expression. "This is work. A matter of National Security. Ours and the British. Remember that."

"Don't I always?" Lee asked, putting on his most professional face.


Lee looked hurt. "Well, thanks a lot. Listen, will you be there at the ball?"

"Ah, no I won't, but two of our people will be there with you and Fred Fielder will be here in the office waiting for reports from all of you. IF there are any problems, he knows how to reach me." Billy was planning a well deserved night out with his wife--who was beginning to forget what he looked like. The plans had been made for months and nothing was going to spoil them.

"Fred Fielder? Billy, he couldn't coordinate a security operation at a school dance, let alone something this complicated."

"Fred will be fine. Just relax and start figuring out the best way to approach Miss Bennett."

Taking a cue from Billy's dismissive tone, Lee got up and waved the file in a gesture of parting, as he exited the room. This could turn out to be a very enjoyable assignment.


Later that same day two men were seated in a booth in a dimly lit restaurant, located in a seedy part of town. They were talking quietly, in Russian.


"I know we must make a move soon, Comrade Smirnov. As I said I am sure we are being watched, at least on the occasion of our last two or three engagements." Andreas Romanoff looked around the room nervously.

The other, older man took a sip of his tea. "Try and relax Andreas. You are right about moving soon and the time is this Friday night, the Embassy Ball. There will be hundreds of people coming and going, moving through the mansion and the grounds. It will be a security nightmare and a perfect opportunity for us. You can propose marriage and ask her to run away with you on that night to, oh let us say, Las Vegas."

"Las Vegas? Bermuda is closer." Andreas pointed out.

"Need I remind you, comrade," the burly agent responded with undisguised annoyance, "Bermuda is British soil. She probably would not agree to go some place where her father could have friends and influence with the local authorities. If not Las Vegas, then New York, Miami, any place that would logically require an airplane to reach. You must get her to the Silver Springs airport where our private jet will be waiting to take her to our safe-house."

"What if she doesn't want to marry me? She still talks about her English lover . . . '

The vein in Smirnov's neck started to pulsate alarmingly and his grip on the cup tightened. "Then think of something else! Use your training. If marriage is not to her liking, ask her to go away with you for the weekend. Point out that her unexplained absence would no doubt drive her father to distraction. She wants to *get even* with him, does she not? This would be a perfect way to do so." He set the cup down with enough force to spill some of the liquid out onto the table.

"Very well," Andreas paled noticeably. "I will broach the subject of marriage when I see her tomorrow night."

"Good." Smirnov shook his head and finished his tea. 'This is the best Moscow can produce these days?'


They were seated in a small, private room at Andreas' exclusive club. After an excellent dinner and almost two bottles of an exquisite wine, Minerva seemed very relaxed and receptive.

Andreas took another sip of wine, cleared his throat and began . . . "Minerva, I . . . I'm not sure how to phrase this. Ahh, we have not known each other for very long but I have fallen in love with you. Very deeply in love. I want you to marry me, as soon as possible. Your father may not approve but we can run away." Before she could interrupt his carefully prepared speech, he rushed on. "What is the English word? Elope? What an ironic revenge this would be for the heartless, ahh, unfeeling way he treated you. I have a friend with a private plane who will gladly take us anywhere. Las Vegas is, I understand, a wonderful place to be married at short notice." There, he'd said it.

A flicker of disbelief crossed her face. "Oh, I think not Andreas. I want to get even with my father it's true, but I'm not ready to go quite that far." Beside, I still have feelings for Reginald. You wouldn't want to marry a woman who thinks about another man all the time, would you?" She smiled shyly, hoping she had let him down easy. She really didn't want to hurt his feelings. He had been so nice, so caring, so attentive. She did like him, but marriage? No . . . .

Andreas sat quietly for a moment. Plan A was down the tubes. But he had a backup. On to Plan B.

"I understand, my darling, you are not yet in love with me. But, if you wish to upset your father, cause him to worry about you, we can go away for the weekend. My friend would fly us to New York. We could have a wonderful time in New York and there would be no commitments, no, umm how do you say it? No strings attached." He looked at her intently, pleadingly, longingly.

"I'll think about it," she promised with a smile. "You know, getting away, even for a weekend could be difficult. Lately, I've had this strange feeling of being watched." She shook her head. "Probably just my imagination."

'Not entirely your imagination, my dear,' Andreas thought.

He was very encouraged. He would report success to Smirnov. There was no need to burden his superior with useless little details.


Lee was standing by the bar, sipping champagne and taking in the elegant surroundings. He rather enjoyed these affairs at the British Embassy. It was a beautiful place filled with beautiful people dressed in beautiful evening attire. And with all the Sir So-In-So's and Lord and Lady Who-Ever's in attendance, he felt kind of like a character in that movie he'd seen on late night TV.

'What was it? *My Fair Lady*?'

Yeah, that was the name. Only his Eliza Doolittle probably spoke the Queen's English better than he did.

'Minerva.' He thought again, 'who would name an innocent little baby *Minerva*. Her friends probably called her *Min* or Minnie, which is worse. Minnie Mouse . . . .'

Suddenly, there she was, dancing with a British officer and looking nothing like a cartoon character--unless it was Cinderella.

She was wearing a form-fitting green gown made of some shimmery material. 'Wow, she's even prettier than her picture. Bet her eyes are green.' Lee thought. 'Well, here we go.'

Setting down his glass, he straightened his perfectly straight tie and began to make his way across the room to where Minerva and the officer were just finishing a dance.

As the music started again, Lee tapped the Major on the shoulder. "May I?" Immediately turning his attention to Minerva, he bowed slightly and flashed that devastating smile, which he knew was so effective with women, and continued, "Miss Bennett, forgive me, but I was *sure* that this was our dance." He held out his hand, smiling again.

Minerva, after a momentary hesitation, took his hand and returned his smile.

The British Army Major just seemed to disappear.


"So, Mr. Steadman, what do you do for a living? I assume you work for the United States Government." She looked directly into his eyes as she spoke, a slightly amused expression on her face. Just who was this handsome, charming American, and what did he want?

"I work for the State Department and my boss called a few of us into his office and told us that our English friends were giving a Ball tonight and they were short on eligible men, so here I am, obeying what really amounted to an order to attend. But, ah, I can assure you, it's an order I'm very glad I obeyed," he answered with obvious sincerity.

Minerva lowered her gaze and blushed charmingly.

They danced the night away, smiling at each other often and making small talk, when they occasionally took time away from the dance floor for a glass of champagne. He learned that her mother had died when Minerva was only eleven years old. Her father had sent her to the best schools and, apparently, tried to give her everything she needed or wanted--except perhaps his time.

Lee's steely glares kept any and all rivals at bay. He told her some slightly altered versions of his Agency adventures, leading her to believe that State Department employees had rather more interesting careers than she had realized. There was no question that they were enjoying each other's company--very much.

In this throng of dancers, onlookers and others who seemed to wander ceaselessly from room to room, Lee had not spotted either of his backup agents for a least a half an hour.

He needed to get away for a bit and clear his head and to look for Frank and Jerry. Or to give them an opportunity to make their location known to him. "It's a little warm in here. How about some fresh air," he asked in low seductive tone.

Minerva shivered slightly and then nodded her head yes.

They walked, arm in arm, out onto the veranda. Suddenly Lee spotted a familiar face.

"I know that guy." Lee gestured toward the main ballroom where Andreas stood near the doorway, looking angry and jealous.

Minerva glanced in that direction. "Do you mean Andreas Romanoff?" she asked.

"Yes, I saw his picture just recently. It was at a briefing for State Department people who might run into KGB operatives at social functions like this."

"KGB?" she repeated incredulously. "No! I can't believe Andreas is a foreign agent. Why, I've been seeing him for weeks. He . . . he even proposed to me. Actually, we're supposed to fly up to New York City tonight. I assumed that's why he's looking so . . . so *annoyed* with me. Here I am, dancing with you and not even noticing him."

"New York, huh?" Lee sounded very skeptical. "Maybe. Or maybe he wants to take you some place and hold you prisoner."

"Prisoner? That's preposterous. Why ever would he want to hold me prisoner?" Now it was Minerva's turn to sound skeptical, even a bit angry at Lee's suggestion.

"For ransom," Lee stated firmly.

"My father is not a wealthy man. If Andreas is a Russian agent, he should know things like that . . . shouldn't he?" Minerva questioned.

"Ransom doesn't have to be money. It can be information. I have a friend in Naval Intelligence and he happened to mention to me that the Russians are after the plans for the latest US-British nuclear sub." Lee didn't want to hurt her feelings, but he had to make her understand. "This friend told me that the Soviets would do anything, go to any lengths, use anybody they had to, in order to get that information. Now, um, according to my friend, your father is someone in a position to have access to those plans."

"So you're saying it was those plans. He was only *using* me to get to my father," she looked down disconsolately. "I feel like such a fool. I mean, it did seem as though he was moving rather too quickly, but I thought he genuinely cared for me."

"Hey," Lee raised her chin so she was looking at him. "Don't feel bad. From what I understand these guys train for this sort of thing. They're very good and very convincing. Don't blame yourself. It could have happened to anybody. It *has* happened to more people than their governments would care to admit."

"Thank you." She took one of his hands in both of hers and held it firmly.

"For what?" He smiled down at her.

"For trying to make me feel better." She released his hand and turned towards the garden, which, despite the best efforts of several expert gardeners, was beginning to wither in the late summer weather.

"You're welcome." Lee still had not spotted his Agency colleagues and he had an uneasy feeling that he might be needing some help--soon. "You know, I think maybe we should get out of here." He glanced back at the doorway again, "Oh oh!"

"What?" Minerva followed Lee's gaze and saw two men, one of whom was Andreas, walking rapidly towards them. The other man was big, burly and appeared to be drawing something from under his coat. A gun, Lee surmised.

"Come on, let's run for it." He grabbed Minerva's hand and they started moving as quickly as possible, considering the rather tight gown she wore. He helped her down the steps to the brick path that led through the garden and on towards the parking area. "Damn," Lee swore softly. "My car's probably a half a mile from here."

"Let's take my father's car. It's right over there in the employee section. It's the dark green sedan," Minerva pointed out the vehicle.

"A Jaguar? Hey, I drove one once in a road race at Monte Carlo."

"Good," Minerva replied somewhat out of breath, "then you'll know exactly how to handle it. Here are the keys." She tossed the small key ring to Lee, who caught it and quickly unlocked the door.

He leaned over to open the passenger side door. "Hurry up! Get in, they're gaining on us!"


Speeding down the road away from the Embassy, Lee thought he should try to ease the anxiety that Minerva obviously was feeling. "Relax. This is a great car. We'll lose them in no time. So, why did you agree to go away with this guy anyway?" He tone was gentle, not at all accusatory.

"Anger," she answered after a moment. "I was angry, terribly angry at my father. He cut off my funds, ruined my marriage plans and forced me to join him here in Washington. I wanted to repay him . . . to get a little bit of revenge."

It seemed to Lee that Minerva was accustomed to getting her own way and when she didn't get it-- watch out! 'No problem,' he decided. He had handled spoiled society girls before.

"Oh. Well, I guess you would have been pretty upset. Do you still want to marry this man? What's his name?" Lee glanced in the rearview mirror. There were at least two cars gaining on them.

"Reginald, Reginald Carruthers . . . the Third."

"The Third, of course," Lee nodded. "You still love him?"

Yes, I . . . I think so." Minerva's hands were clenched into fists.

"You better be sure before you . . . ' Lee's attention was drawn to the unmistakable sound of gunfire, coming very close to the car. "Hey," he yelled, "duck down!"

"Oh dear," Minerva's voice betrayed her fear, "they're *shooting* at us!"

There was no traffic coming towards them. Lee moved the car over the double line, hit the brakes and pulled hard on the steering wheel, intending to put the car into a 180-degree turn and head back the way they had come. What he didn't know was that there was a patch of oil on the road, right under the front wheels of the Jag. Despite his best efforts and a few choice, but unprintable words, accompanied by the squealing of brakes, the vehicle continued on into a full 360-degree turn. One of the KGB cars, a Lincoln, struck their car a glancing blow. Miraculously, the other pursuers somehow missed them. They finally came to a stop, with a sickening thud, against a thorny hedge that was planted right along the edge of the road.

After a few useless attempts, Minerva turned to Lee. "I can't open the door. It's jammed against that awful hedge."

"That's OK, Lee said, trying to sound soothing. "We'll get out this side."

Before he could open his door, a large, mean looking man, with beady eyes, holding a machine pistol appeared at the window. "Open the door and get out slowly," he ordered in a thick, East European accent.

Lee raised his hands and pointed down towards the handle. "I can't open it. It's stuck," he smiled wanly, playing for time. He was outnumbered and outgunned, but he had to think of something.

"Perhaps I can help you open it then," the man said angrily. He cocked the gun and pointed it directly at Lee.

"Wait a minute," Lee called out. "Let me try that one more time."

There seemed to be only one course of action open to him. He pulled the handle, at the same time pushing against the door with his shoulder. He hoped to catch the man off guard. Unfortunately, at the same moment, the big Russian yanked the door open, causing Lee to lose his balance and fall half way out of the car.

Before he could recover, there was the sound of cars screeching to a halt, doors slamming, men running and shouting and the brief exchange of gun fire. Then above all the noise he heard a voice, a very familiar voice, call out -- "Drop your weapons and don't try anything. You're all under arrest!"

It was Fielder's voice. Lee didn't think he would *ever* be glad to hear Fred Fielder's voice, but tonight he would make an exception.

After all the enemy agents had been handcuffed and put into Agency vehicles for transfer to the office, Lee walked over to the Jaguar. It didn't look good. "How's the car?" He asked agent Vernon, who had been checking it over.

"Well, the right front tire is flat, the wheel's bent and that whole side is smashed in and scratched up. It's a mess. Sorry Stetson," Vernon offered as he walked away.

'Not half as sorry as I am.' Lee had a feeling he was in big trouble. He tried to smile as Minerva walked up to him. He took her hand and squeezed it. "How are you?"

"I'm all right. Just a few bruises, I think. How is the car?" she asked, peering around to get a look at the passenger side.

"Miss Bennett, if your father feels about his Jag the way I feel about my Porsche, then you have had your revenge--in spades!"

Minerva winced.


After handing in his report on the Bennett Case, Lee stood in front of his boss's desk.

"I thought I'd send Minerva some flowers and ask her out on a date. She must have recovered from those little bumps and bruises she got in the accident."

"Forget it Stetson. Did you use an entire bottle of White-Out on this?" Billy asked rhetorically.

"Forget it? Why? The assignment's over. There's no reason why I can't see her socially now. And no, I didn't use a *whole bottle* of that stuff."

"There's one very *good* reason." Billy smiled like the cat who swallowed the canary.

"What?" Lee demanded, standing there with his arms folded across his chest.

"She's gone back to London. After your little escapade with his Jag and his daughter, . . . "

Lee cut in, "ESCAPADE? I was doing what I had to do to save her life!"

Billy continued, as though he hadn't heard a word Lee had said, "Commander Bennett relented and she's going home, probably to marry her boy friend. So, cross her off your list, Stetson. She is definitely unavailable!" He leaned back in his chair and continued smiling smugly. Every once in a while his hot-shot agent needed to be taken down a peg or two. It was for Lee's own good, Billy assured himself. 'Besides', he thought, 'Scarecrow doesn't need another conquest. What he needs is a woman who'll make him want to burn *all* his books and settle down. There must be one out there.....somewhere. Oh....' His moment of contemplation was interrupted.

"Thanks *a lot*, Billy." Lee turned and started walking towards his desk, his shoulders slumped in disappointment and defeat. 'Oh well, she probably wasn't my type anyway. What the heck, there are plenty of other girls in this town.' He straightened up and squared his shoulders. 'And I've got two books full of names already. I just have to decide who to call for tonight. Hmmm, Margot? Jessica? Debbi?.............'