Author: Taya Johnston (tjsmklvr)
Disclaimer: "Scarecrow and Mrs. King" and the characters of Lee and Amanda are the property of Warner Brothers and Shoot the Moon Enterprises. The story belongs to me and is for entertainment purposes only. Please do not redistribute or reproduce without my permission. Excerpts used from "Brunettes Are In" written by Bill Froehlich. Excerpts and story plot used from the motion picture "The Family Man" written by David Diamond and David Weissman.
Timeline: Events in "Brunettes Are In" have been somewhat altered to mesh with this story. Rest assured all events have been put back where they belong, completely unharmed. Completely AU. If you do not enjoy Alternate Universe stories, stop reading now. What are you doing? I said stop! Okay, don't say I didn't warn you.
Feedback: Yes, please, on list or off.
Summary: What if you made a different choice? What if you were given a second chance? What if . . . you said stay, instead of go?
Author's Notes: A heartfelt "thank you" to my beta team (Barb, Miranda, Nancy, and Rita). Thank you so much for all your hard work in fixing my mistakes and making this a much better story. Thanks Chanda for allowing me to bounce ideas off you. Special thanks to Barb for all her support throughout this entire process, and of course for the title!
Glimpse of Regret
"Looking back, I have this to regret, that too often when I loved, I did not say so."
Prologue:December 11, 1984
He wadded up another sock and chucked it into the laundry basket with a flourish. How did she get him into these messes? She should have never taken the mid-level courier assignment. Had she been listening to what he wasn't saying, she would have realized. Amanda had no business being in this line of work. She was a mother of two, who belonged at home with her children, not out with him chasing down the bad guys.
Lee picked up another item of clothing and sifted through it looking for the blasted microdot that would save three agents' lives. He knew they wouldn't find it in her laundry, but they had to look.
"All right let's . . ." Is she kidding with this? "What is thi . . ." He turned the offending garment around for Amanda to see. "You don't really, actually wear this?" He shook the shirt for emphasis.
She stared at him from her chair in the corner of the room, embarrassment written all over her face. "Yes, Phillip and Jamie gave it to me," she replied meekly.
"Phillip and Jamie gave it to you, did they? Huh! Well!" He wadded up the offensive T-shirt and tossed it into the basket with a loud sigh as he pulled himself from the couch. "Well, Hot Mama! Seems that three of our best agents are in a great deal of trouble right now because we lost a vital microdot. And the only lead that we have to this vital microdot is with some damn purse-snatcher named Rollo. And here I am sitting in your den going through your laundry and feeling very much like an idiot right now. So!
So . . . so, uh . . ."
He sighed heavily, regretting his sudden outburst when he saw the sad look on her face. Not able to look her in the eye, he stared at the floor. Where had all that anger come from? She was only a civilian auxiliary. 'You pulled her into this, Stetson!' "Oh,
I'm . . . I'm very sorry, Amanda." He ran his hand through his hair as he walked around the back of the couch. "I lost my temper again. I seem to be always saying things that, uh . . ."
"Well, sometimes that's when people are most honest."
"Yeah, and the dumbest. So--"
"Lee, I think we should stop."
"Yeah, there's no microdot in the laundry--"
"No, I don't mean that. I think we should stop working together, I don't think we should be partners anymore."
"Ho! Ho! Ho! Ho! Ho!" He held up his hand to stop her from going any further as he came back around the front of the couch. "We have never been partners."
"Oh, yes, we have. We've been partners!"
"I don't work with partners, Amanda." He pointed his finger at her for emphasis. "And you know it!"
"You're losing your temper again--"
"I am not losing my temper!
"I know you think I really messed up this time--"
"Oh, Amanda! You make me crazy." He rubbed his forehead, the first signs of a headache forming.
"And I know you think that I'm not right for the Agency."
"Why are we having this discussion?" He stood with one hand in his pocket and the other moving about for emphasis, as he laughed uncomfortably.
She continued on as if he hadn't interrupted. "And I just want you to remember that I didn't ask to join the Agency, I mean you got me into it in the first place.
"Well, I'm not holding you there, am I?" He dared her. He wasn't sure whose eyes were wider, hers or his.
"No," she squeaked out.
Sighing, he rubbed the back of his neck, then laughed nervously. "Why are we talking—What are we talking about here?"
"My resignation." All was silent in the room. She was calling his bluff. "I think I should give it to Mr. Melrose."
"Well, you do what you think is best for you, that's all." He rocked nervously on his feet.
"Well, I will then . . . I guess I'll . . . I'll turn in my resignation." Her lips formed a tight thin line as she glared at him, almost daring him to say more, and shrugged.
How did this happen? "Fine!" He flung his hand in the air, as if to brush off the fight, and turned to head out the back door.
"Yeah," she whispered, as if to have the last word.
He shook his head in disbelief. They had had their share of arguments over the past fourteen months, but nothing as volatile as this had been. He stalked out the backdoor, toward his car. "I don't believe this!"
December 12, 1984
There he sat, 'super spy', Lee Stetson. He had drunk so hard the bottle ached. Watching the lonely people come in and out of the stale bar, he wondered what had happened in their lives to bring them here. He knew what had brought him here, or rather who. Lee tried to clear his head, but nothing was working in the bar full of flies. His solitude could only be found in the tall amber bottle sitting in front of him.
'I can't believe it! She actually quit!' He never thought she'd go through with it. Sure, she was upset, hell, so was he for that matter. But to actually walk out on him, leave the Agency? Leave him! It was unbelievable.
He motioned to the bartender for another drink. He'd lost count of how many he'd already had. At least he was finally feeling numb. "Leave the bottle, will ya, Nick?"
Why was he so upset? She was a hassle to work with, and he didn't need her underfoot. Sure, she helped him out on occasion but wandered into trouble more often than not. He'd be just fine without her. "Just fine," he croaked, as he threw back another shot.
He downed drink after drink, trying to figure out why the little housewife from Virginia made him feel . . . feel . . . well, just feel, period. He was a highly skilled counter-intelligence agent. He couldn't do his job effectively if he cared for anyone, including himself. He couldn't get hurt if he didn't let anyone in. That's what it was all about, wasn't it--getting hurt again?
The feeling that had come over him when he'd found out they were planning to sell her was nothing he'd ever experienced before. How could anyone think they could own another, especially someone as innocent and beautiful as Amanda? 'Whoa! Stetson, get a grip.'
It didn't matter now. Amanda was no longer in his life. He'd let her walk out without so much as a second glance. What would she have done if he'd asked to her to stay? He shrugged off that thought. 'What does it matter? She's just a housewife. This way of life has nothing to offer her. I have nothing to offer her.'
He stumbled home that night still wallowing in self-pity. 'What does it matter that she's gone? It won't change anything in my life.'