TITLE: On Eagle's Wings
AUTHOR: Chrystopher Dragon February-April 2005
DISCLAIMER: "Scarecrow and Mrs. King" belongs to Shoot the Moon and Warner Brothers. This story is intended for entertainment only and not for profit. No infringement of rights is intended.
WARNING: Character death. If you wonder whether you should read it or not, check with someone who has read it and knows your reading habits. I'd like to think the story will ultimately be as healing for those of you who read it as it was for me to write it.
NOTES: I've been training for the Seattle Komen Foundation's Breast Cancer 3-Day (walk 60 miles in 3 days) in July 2005. I wasn't at my computer; I wasn't distracted by chores, and I had to think about something between stoplights. The theme for the 3-Day this year is "Walk With Me", which of course suggested SMK, and well, this story just sort of wrote itself as I walked.
Many thanks to my betas Theresa, Lorna, and Sue, for their corrections, suggestions and encouragement; especially Lorna. Between them, we managed to find the most annoying examples of repetition, comma abuse, and invasive spaces. They also pointed out a number of dropped threads in the first draft, just when I thought it was safe to start thinking about the next story. Any stray commas, embedded semi-colons, and passive sentences remain my own fault because I was too stubborn to take their advice (or Word's).
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: smkfanfic Yahoo Group, msgs
GENRE: Canon, as much as possible, but post-season 4.
TIMELINE: October 1988-June 1990. The story moves into a long flashback, but each section is dated to help you keep them straight.
FEEDBACK: Email to smkfanfic list. Email to me. No flames. I can't say this was just for fun, this time, but it wasn't for profit, either.
ARCHIVE: The listmom can archive this in the SMKfanfic archives at her discretion. Others please ask.On Eagle's Wings
You must do the thing you think you cannot do.
– Eleanor RooseveltMarch 13, 1990
"Amanda, are you sure you want to do this?" Billy's voice was gentle. He'd asked the question before a half dozen times over the past week. This would be the last time he could offer her a chance to decline the assignment.
Lee paused, his hand on the doorknob of the half-open door to Billy's office, awaiting an answer he already knew.
Amanda's voice was soft, firm, and colorless. "Yes, I am."
Billy sighed. They had pooled their finely honed talents in counterintelligence, and come up short. As the hours passed, Billy had consulted the more obscure sections of the Agency, Lee had proposed increasingly devious and impractical alternatives, Francine had even offered to take her place, but nothing they could come up with could compete with Amanda's original proposal. She'd been right. It was the perfect plan and Dr. Smyth had already approved it.
There were days when Billy hated this job. He reached for his bottle of Tums.
Lee pushed the door open. "Time for the briefing," he said, but he took his wife's hand and held it tightly against his side all the way to the windowless conference room, absurdly grateful that for once, she did not pull away. Billy, Francine and a small team of agents followed them like ducklings bobbing after their mother duck. They settled around the table, and Francine shut the door.
Billy cleared his throat. "As some of you already know, the Susan G. Komen Foundation is planning a national version of their Race for the Cure this year in Washington, DC. Past races in Texas and the Midwest have drawn several thousand participants. This event is sponsored by Vice President Quayle and his wife, by Jimmy Carter's White House Social Secretary, Gretchen Poston, and Nina Hyde." Francine looked up sharply at the name of the Washington Post fashion editor, but Billy was already continuing. "The Foundation and the Race sponsors are hoping to catch the attention of Congress, and use the publicity to push for more federal funding into breast cancer research. Given the political officials involved in this race, we can expect five thousand runners, possibly more. Besides the runners, there will be race officials and press, and lots of observers." He paused.
One or two of the younger agents glanced at Amanda, then looked back at Billy. Reassured by the sympathy he read on their faces, he continued.
"Now, the FBI and Secret Service will have the primary job of identifying and providing security for any federal officials or family members who are runners or crewing -- doing timekeeping, volunteering medical services, and so on. The Foundation has invited a score of prominent breast cancer survivors to observe the race, so the guests could even include Betty Ford and Supreme Court Justice O'Connor. Since this isn't a government function, the Secret Service will only be handling their normal assignments. The D.C. police, as usual, are working on a limited budget; even with the parade permit fees from the Foundation. We will pass on any intelligence we come across that bears on security for the event or its participants. Francine, you'll be liaison for that effort; get in touch with the FBIHQ office after the meeting and talk to Kevin Brock—he's got a solid background in domestic terrorism."
"So far sounds like a normal day at the zoo," quipped Francine, "watching the rich and famous and powerful." She scribbled on her notebook, writing down name of her contact at the FBI, and mentally calculating how much of her clothing budget she could divert to sports casual.
"Francine's right. The crowds we had to keep under surveillance during the inauguration last year were much bigger." Too long on the job to know things were that simple, Fred Fielder prompted Billy. "What's the catch?"
"This isn't going to be as controlled as the inauguration. Government agencies planned that for months. All the Capitol Steps attendees were there by special invitation, and they all had assigned places. The press had to have admission passes, and we were able to set up metal detectors everywhere."
"That isn't going to happen for this event. The D.C police will provide crowd control, but as I said, given the recent budgetary cutbacks, they're going to be strapped. We're going to have a lot of people from different factions running, officiating, making an appearance, coming to watch someone who's running. Many of them have enemies who wouldn't mind using even this event to strike."
"We know a few activists from the Eastern Bloc nations are coming. They want to publicize their new freedom of movement since the fall of the Berlin Wall. We aren't sure yet who will be involved in that -- State's giving us updated lists periodically -- but we already know that one of the runners will be Jiera Varnaite." Billy handed a photo to Lee. "She's related to Vytautas Landsbergis, whom, as you all know from yesterday's briefing, was just elected President of Lithuania and head of the new Sajudis Parliament. Its first act was to restore Lithuania's claim of complete independence from the Soviet Union."
All of the agents nodded, even those who'd missed the briefing; the actions of the Lithuanians had been all over the news. Most Americans had only the vaguest idea of where Lithuania was located, and knew little about the tiny Baltic republic's history or relationship with its neighbors, but still they welcomed the event as yet more evidence that the Cold War was nearly over, with the Eastern Bloc disintegrating before their eyes.
Billy continued. "Now we don't want an incident with the Soviets at this juncture. Gorbachev has declared Lithuania's move for independence void, but he's got to realize Soviet control over its western republics is slipping. We think he wants to avoid an armed revolution until the Supreme Soviet can gracefully recess itself permanently. Officially, we can't welcome these people as anything other than Soviet citizens. On the other hand, State's secured an agreement from the Soviet ambassador that there will be no restriction of movement and no repercussions back home, providing the runners just run and don't provoke demonstrations."
"So what's the problem, sir?" one of the freshman agents looked up from his notes. "That seems like a diplomatic issue, not Agency business." It was the kind of question Amanda used to ask, and Billy glanced at her, half-expecting a further ramble, but she just sat stiffly, gripping Lee's right hand with her left, staring at Billy and not even pretending to take notes.
"Varnaite's just one example -- her name showed up in a communiqué between some Estonian ex-KGB members and a former member of the Romanian secret police. Crypto was only able to get us a partial decoding, something about Varnaite being the 'key to the target.' But she's not the only possibility. They've put together a list of twenty participants that could attract such Eastern Bloc attention."
Billy drew a sheet of paper out of his notes and slid it across the table to Francine, who read it and passed it on to the next agent. Fielder had to reach around the motionless Amanda to take it from Lee, who barely glanced at it before handing it on and returning his gaze to his wife.
Billy tracked the course of the paper as he went on. "Rumor on the street is that a group of old-guard pro-Soviets intend to make examples of the citizens of the dissident republics, especially those related to high profile members, in an attempt to force those leaders to back down. These people have access to KGB, East German, and Romanian secret police and a few others that have been losing their jobs lately. So we'll have to keep an eye out for them. This event would be a perfect opportunity to take out someone very publicly."
Billy took out his handkerchief and mopped his brow, then folded the square of white linen carefully, and set it on the end of the table.
"I don't have to tell you this situation is going to be a tougher than usual challenge. Normally, when there's some rally for a cause in this town, we've got a well-defined group of marchers and an even better defined group of troublemakers. This time, besides possible international targets, we've got Hollywood actors, we've got Olympic track stars, and then we've got a couple of federal judges, cabinet officials, Senate and Representative members of both parties, military officers from the Pentagon, the cream of the D.C. health world, and CEOs from some of the top corporations in New York City. They are all the kind of people who attract the attention the Foundation needs to raise awareness and get the government to sponsor more research. Many of them are the sorts of folks that ruffle feathers in their day-to-day lives. On some of the channels we monitor, traffic has jumped thirty percent since the first of the year, and a disproportionate number of messages seem tied to this race. Given everything else that's going on, I'd say this is not a good sign."
Fielder tipped his chair back. "So, if I've got this right, we know something bad is coming, we know it has to do with this race, but we don't know who or what or why." He rocked forward with a thud, annoyed. Fielder liked his problems cleanly delineated.
"You've got it. We don't know whether we are looking at mob bosses trying to get at a judge or anti-war protesters or special interest groups trying to sink a lobbyist. It could be someone manipulating the stock market, or foreign intelligence operatives. The possibilities are endless. We won't know what we are looking for until we see it. We need to place someone with an unimpeachable background, and no obvious connection to any government officials, participating in the race."
Beaman muttered under his breath, Leatherneck studied a spot over Billy's head, and Francine evaluated her manicure for the twelfth time. The younger agents shifted in their seats. They all knew, now, what was coming, and why the Q-Bureau team was sitting in the room with them.
Billy rattled out, "Mrs. Stetson will register, train, and use her considerable powers of observation to give us an insider's view up to and during the race. Lee, you'll assemble a team and see if you can narrow the field of targets any. Choose whomever you need for research, backup, and communications. We've got three months to figure this out. From now until the race, this is the only thing you are working on. Turn your other cases over to Beaman for reassignment." He looked at his notes.
"Leatherneck? How's the equipment Lee wanted coming?"
"On it," the Quartermaster replied. "I should have everything you asked for ready tomorrow. Mrs. Stetson, just stop by my office around ten and we'll get you fitted out. Fabrication's done with the scenario." He didn't add, as he might have in other circumstances, "Piece of cake." Fabrication was done because there had been nothing to do.
"Right. Ten o'clock," Amanda assented.
"Any comments? Questions?" Billy paused, but no one else raised a hand. "Then see Lee for further instructions. Dismissed."
Billy strode out of the small room to report to Dr. Smyth.
The remaining agents looked at their notes, each other, at Lee, and then sidled out the door. When they were gone, Lee watched as Amanda gathered her things, then gently steered her out of the room and to the elevator. Back in the Q-Bureau, she sat formally at her desk, notebook in front of her, and looked up expectantly.
He wanted to pull her up, comfort her, assure her, but he wasn't sure that she'd respond, and if she did, she might break down entirely. He couldn't afford that, not now. He ran his hands through his hair and looked away, trying to find a way to begin.
Amanda didn't miss the gesture. She'd been reading Lee's tells for seven years. But she couldn't help him. She was lost herself, so distant from him now that she didn't know the way back to the place where their communication had flowed without words. She swallowed, and said in as neutral and business-like a tone as she could muster, "Who's going to be my trainer?"
Lee sighed and took a deep breath, summoning a self-discipline he had never needed before in switching to emotionless agent mode. They bent together over the notes he had made, discussing quietly who would be on the team, what role each would play, teasing lightly -- very lightly -- about Francine's inevitable shopping spree, since she was unlikely to have anything proper for a race event outside of Ascot. Now he could sit on the edge of her desk, touch her, be her partner, be her friend, and move in a bit closer, right up to the unbreakable wall she had built around the center of her soul.October 3, 1988 - Eighteen months earlier
They'd been so happy. They'd woken that October Saturday morning at Lee's apartment and known they had enjoyed their last clandestine night. For a year and a half they'd kept their marriage secret, worked together, juggled schedules, caught bad guys, and realized it wasn't enough. Finally, they'd gone to Billy, and then to Dr. Smyth. They wouldn't be split up; their record was too good. Lee wondered briefly if Billy or Smyth had known all along that they were married, started to ask, then didn't bother. It was one more mystery in a lifetime of mysteries and he couldn't care less, as long as Amanda remained his partner.
They'd showered together, giggling and teasing each other in anticipation, dressed carefully to create an impression of permanence and commitment, gone hand in hand like children through the front door of the house on Maplewood, doughnuts in a cardboard box in one free hand and diamonds in a velvety blue box in the other, and announced their engagement to Dotty and the boys.
Dotty's joy was exuberant, after one brief moment of hesitation that left Lee puzzled. He was trained to read people, and he thought he knew Dotty pretty well. Before the excitement, there had been reflection, reconsideration, and relief. She had been about to tell them something of her own, and their announcement had given her a welcome excuse for delay. Lee filed the scene in the back of his mind and quietly braced himself. If Dotty had news she couldn't share at that moment, it wasn't going to be good.
He'd been right.
Over the next few weeks, amid the preparations for the public wedding on Christmas Eve, the paperwork with the Agency, the much-anticipated discussions with the boys to make them comfortable, the inevitable discussions with Joe about joint custody and visitation rights (which made no one comfortable and ended in a sullen truce), not to mention the ongoing details of everyday PTA meetings, basketball practice, Georgetown stakeouts, and the occasional apprehension of a nefarious evil-doer, both of them realized that Dotty was hiding something. Lee threw out a few feelers, worried that Dotty had objections to the marriage; he met only reassurance. On a scale of one to ten, she informed him tartly, he came in at a thirteen.
Amanda, who knew that Dotty had been praying for her engagement to Lee for over two years, had no apprehensions on that score. Instead, she asked question after question, testing Dotty's mood. Was Dotty all right? Did she need to be taken somewhere? Was there something she wanted to buy? Were the boys misbehaving while she and Lee were at work? Did she think the house needed painting? Did she fancy a chocolate cake for dessert?
Dotty stated flatly that her grandsons were practically perfect, and she could take care of any minor behavioral deviations on her own, as she always had. She could see to her own errands. She did not think the house needed painting, and if it did, she would chose a better color than the drab gray Amanda had once painted the dining room. Of course, she would love chocolate cake; she didn't need a birthday for that. She dodged the remaining questions with questions: how could it be possible to feel anything other than on top of the world now that Lee and Amanda had set a date?
Dotty spent a lot time with Captain Curt. She talked vaguely, brightly, of moving into a place of her own, but made no firm plans and seemed relieved to drop the issue when both Lee and Amanda protested that she would always have a home with them. Over Thanksgiving weekend, she cooked turkey, smiled, and took the West tradition of rambling to new artistic heights, piling up incomplete sentences and changes of topics until she ran out of breath, leaving Lee and the boys amused, and Amanda frustrated. This time, Dotty had the secret, and Amanda could not pry it out of her. Amanda's voice grow edgier, her questions to Dotty more clever, her innuendo broader. Still, she learned nothing new.
If Lee hadn't been convinced that Dotty was hiding something serious, he would have teased Amanda about Dotty's ability to withstand interrogation. As it was, the unacknowledged but unavoidable realization that something was wrong hung over everything. Loyalty kept him from bringing it out in the open. Whatever was bothering her, Dotty intended to keep her own counsel. She wanted the wedding to be perfect.
It very nearly was. But Dotty couldn't control the violence of the outside world. The downing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Scotland on December 21 threw the American intelligence community into frenzied activity, and a pall over their Christmas, but it gave their wedding an intense solemnity that only served to underscore the depth of their commitment to each other and the work they had chosen. Billy gave the bride away, and a pair of tickets to Lee for their next assignment, with apologies that their flight dates would of necessity shorten the honeymoon trip they had planned.
He had been surprised when Smyth sent down the assignment folder with the delayed dates. It would have been more in character for the Agency head to instruct Travel to book flights as soon as possible, even if that meant traveling on the day after the wedding. But when Billy brought up the travel arrangements, Smyth had replied dryly that Billy had no romance. The Stetsons' first honeymoon had been in a hospital, and he hardly thought that should count. He then lapsed back into character and pointed out that the two Stetsons would be much more likely to do two weeks work in one and still be on track if they had some time together first. Billy had taken the folder and fled before Smyth could change his mind.
Amanda and Lee wasted no time wondering about Smyth's motives. They hid for a week in a place with sun and beaches and few phones, no television, no radio, and no spies. Lee was, for the most part, oblivious to the pretty women, Amanda to the titled or rich men who sought their attention. They were both amused by some and annoyed by the more persistent, resenting the interruptions these strangers introduced in their enjoyment of a week alone with each other, a week made more precious by the existence of that second set of airline tickets. Together, they called the boys every night, sent postcards to their friends, took long walks, talked some, were silent together more, and returned just in time for New Year's Eve. With Auld Lang Syne reverberating from the TV and the Capitol Mall fireworks flashing against the snow, they toasted each other, the boys, and Dotty, and looked forward to beginning their new life together.
In the dim winter afternoon of New Year's Day, with the boys outside yelling and playing in the new snow, Dotty made tea, and sat down with Lee and Amanda on the sofa in the family room to tell them her secret. Ever after, when Lee thought of that conversation, it was just a sequence of disjointed words in Dotty's breaking voice, with Amanda repeating "No" over and over beside him.
Tumor. Malignant. Cancer.
Metastasized. Stage Four.
Please God, no.January 3, 1989
They had to leave for Scotland almost immediately after the New Year, assigned to provide liaison and research assistance for the CIA and the British intelligence agents investigating the explosion over Lockerbie. Amanda returned the States after two weeks to accompany Dotty to her surgery. Lee remained behind in Scotland until the inventory of major artifacts was completed, and all the fragments of broken lives tagged and stored. She spent her mornings at home, making sure that Dotty stayed in bed per the doctor's orders, but when the boys arrived home and could fetch and carry for their grandmother, Amanda retreated to the lower levels of Project Pyramid and lost herself correlating research reports until long after sunset. Jamie and Philip consulted with each other and cooked, if not precisely gourmet dinners, meals that became more edible with practice. Amanda ate them when she came home, but didn't taste them. After clearing her dishes, she counted the minutes until the boys and Dotty would be settled for the night. Once the clock hands wound round to half past midnight, she could call Scotland and catch Lee before he left his hotel for the day.
Lee came home at the end of January grim and found his family grimmer. It was hard pretending they'd been doing a documentary on British-American relations when the news played up every new hint of a clue to the cause of the Lockerbie disaster and the pictures displayed brought back the site they had walked over, the scenes they had witnessed that were too gruesome to broadcast.
It was harder still to see Dotty beginning to slow down as chemotherapy treatments and her disease took their toll, and to keep quiet while Amanda struggled to cope. The first day back, after a grueling debriefing, he climbed slowly up the stairs to the Q Bureau. He paused on the landing and took a minute to force himself to relax. He was home now. He wanted to spend time with Amanda, with the boys, with Dotty... He unlocked the Q Bureau door to find Amanda putting on her jacket and gathering up her keys.
"Hi! Where are you going?" he asked. "I thought maybe we could cut out and get some coffee, and just, you know, catch up."
Amanda shook her head regretfully. "I'd love to, but I have to get to the hospital. Mother's treatment is over at four. She took a taxi there but she'll be too tired to take one home."
He took her in his arms. "Amanda, you're exhausted. You spent last night typing up those reports. I can get Dotty," he offered. "She likes to ride in the 'vette."
"No. It's all right. I'll be all right." As he started to protest, she put her hands on his arms and held him away, while she pleaded, "I need to be busy, Lee. If I don't have something to do..." Her voice was filled with anguish, and he let her go, after a quick kiss on her forehead to show that he understood.
She left without another word, and he resolutely turned his attention to the reports he owed Dr. Smyth and Billy. When he got home late, his family was already in bed. He found the foil-wrapped dinner Amanda had left him, and took a few bites, but could not manage more. He locked the doors and checked the windows on the ground floor. Coming up the stairs, he opened the door to the boys' room and stood listening for a minute to Philip's snores and Jamie's abrupt breathing. Outside Dotty's door, he stopped and put his hand on the central panel. Surely, he'd sense if something were wrong, but the only night noises he heard were the ones he was used to. He slipped silently on to the room he shared with Amanda, and set the door shut against the world. He shed his clothes on the floor, anchored himself to his wife, and drifted off to sleep.
Over the next weeks, he watched as Amanda struggle to finish her reports at work, coach the boys for school, do the laundry and the cleaning and a thousand household chores, and still get Dotty to her appointments. Later, he wondered if he should have insisted on helping more, but he was swamped with finishing up the Agency's part of the Lockerbie investigation. And when that was done, there was another case, and then another.February 15, 1989
Once the first official reports confirmed that there really had been a bomb, things at work settled down. The attention of the American public turned to other conflicts in the Middle East and Kosovo. There were no longer the constant reminders of that bleak and horrible field, flashing on the screen, catching one unawares.
Dotty slipped into a routine, reading more, sleeping later, going to bed earlier, watching television more, and napping after her chemotherapy treatments. She was fascinated by the news as the world order swirled, changing with every broadcast. They would come home from school, from baseball practice, from the Agency, from a stakeout or a pizza run and she would give them an update on the Ayatollah Khomeini or the overthrow of Paraguay's dictator or the withdrawal of the last Soviet troops from Afghanistan. She was often sick, but even when she couldn't eat herself, she would join them for dinner, toying with a glass of chocolate diet supplement through their meal and pounding them with news events and questions.
"I see the Soviets are going to have free elections at last," Dotty said, passing Lee a platter of ham one evening in early March. "Is IFF making any documentaries on it?"
"Actually, Dotty, we are. I'm going over there for the last couple of weeks the month to get background information for a documentary." Lee watched his wife's lips tighten into a line as he answered. Since Amanda's Russian wasn't up to the challenge, and he refused to work with any other partner, Lee had accepted assignment as the lone agent on a zero-contact mission during the last two weeks of March to observe those elections. Amanda had been quite vocal in her frustration at not being able to go along and watch his back, silenced only when he pointed out that one of them was needed at home to help Dotty.
Everyone spoke at once. "Is Amanda going with you?" "Gnarly, Lee!" "Wow, wait 'til I tell..."
"No telling anyone!" Lee and Amanda said simultaneously. At the boys' startled expressions, Lee tried to recover. "The US government wants us to get some candid interviews with citizens, and the Soviet officials haven't been, uh, as helpful as we might like. If it gets out that I'm going over there to make a movie, then the interviews won't be as, uh, candid, because the people we talk to might not want to talk if they know their government is watching. I'm just supposed to be doing some location scouting for a different kind of movie." He checked Amanda's expression, and saw that she was relaxing. He was on the right track. He continued, "And no, your mother isn't going along this time. Her Russian is still kind of sketchy and she needs to stay here with your grandmother." Lee settled back, satisfied that he'd avoided any outright lies.
Jamie looked thoughtful. "It's kind of like spying, then, isn't it?"
Amanda choked on her spoonful of peas and reached for her water. Lee stared at Jamie, but Dotty said calmly, "I suppose it is. Actually, just interviewing a bunch of people who probably don't know what you're talking about sounds boring. I've always thought those spy novels I read make espionage a bit too exciting. All those raids and what do you call it when you need to pull someone out? Extractions. I mean, if we had that many agents in a country even as big as the Soviet Union, we'd be running it." She moved the water pitcher closer to Amanda. "Millicent Furbisher's husband is a D.C. investigator, and I gather what he does on stakeouts is sit in a car, watching for someone to do something, trying to figure out whether what is going on is a threat to the country, and wishing he was home with a glass of scotch and his wife."
Speechless, Amanda's eyes met Lee's across the table, and she blushed slightly as she recalled their last surveillance and the distractions they'd succumbed to after they realized their contact wasn't going to show up.
"So when do you leave, Lee?" Philip asked, discarding his grandmother's rambling and concentrating on the one salient point that affected himself.
"Not until the 18th," Lee assured him. "I'll make your games that week."
As they cleared the table, Lee tapped his wife's shoulder. "Amanda?"
"We need to talk about money."
She looked at him sharply. "What brought that up? It isn't payday. We're fine...more than fine. I could even buy a Wizard Whopper!" she offered. Lee had never had qualms about setting up their finances together. It had chafed him through the long secret marriage that he hadn't been able to do nearly as much as he'd wanted. He was delighted that the public marriage finally let him send the recalcitrant dishwasher to the garbage heap, get the trellis properly rebuilt, and put new tires on the Jeep. Lee wanted and needed to support his family. His first evening helping Amanda write checks for all the bills had been a cathartic experience, making him feel really adult for the first time in his life. It was perhaps petty but also immensely satisfying to him that every cent of Joe's child support payments now went directly into the boys' college funds, and that it was Lee's paycheck that paid for the roof over their heads, the food on their table, Jamie's glasses, Philip's braces, and any Wizard Whoppers, however unnecessary.
Lee took the last dishes from Amanda and set them on the counter. Calling over his shoulder, "Jamie, Philip, it's your night to wash and dry dishes!" he pulled her to the desk in the family room.
"Here," he said, putting a sheaf of lengthy papers covered with small print in her hands. "I had Legal and Personnel go over these, then Joe. Those are copies of my life insurance, and my annuities. This one's medical coverage. It's been changed to declare your mother as my dependent, along with the boys. They're all signed and witnessed. That way if anything happens to me -- which it won't," he broke off quickly, meeting the sudden fear in her eyes, "-- between your policies and mine, the Agency's health insurance will cover Dotty's treatment." He took her hands. "Amanda, it's just a precaution. Joe's policies will cover the boys but not your mom; she's not living in his household. I want her to have the best care." He let go and turned away. "I have to do something..."
"Lee, " she started.
"I feel so helpless, Amanda," he blurted out. "I'm not doing anything, and it's like losing my own mother, all over again." He stared out the window with his hands in his pockets. "I just wish..."
Amanda touched his shoulder, and when he turned back to her, she ran her hands up his chest, to rest her fingers familiarly on his shoulders.
"Lee, it's a lot. You've fixed it so we can give her the treatments. You're here... you're here. I don't need you to do more. I just need you to be here." She buried her face in his shoulder. For the first time since he'd returned from Scotland, she turned to him for support. Despite the situation, he felt his heart lift.
They had an odd, almost Normal-People week. Dotty had a break in her chemotherapy, to let her body adjust to yet another drug the oncologist wanted to try. They had no late stakeouts. They came home before dark and ate dinner together. After doing the dishes, they drew straws to see who would encourage Jamie through spelling practice or Philip through math problems. They rented old movies and played Scrabble and Monopoly before sending the boys off to bed. On Friday night, Amanda made hamburgers and Lee opened a 1988 Australian Shiraz that the colonel had sent them to try. Both boys pelted Lee with questions, and he responded with carefully censored descriptions of his past trips to Ukrainian cities. Amanda accompanied the boys upstairs, ostensibly to make sure they had everything ready for their own weekend visitation time with Joe, and incidentally make sure they picked up their room and brushed their teeth. As soon as she was out of earshot, Dotty leaned toward Lee.
"Lee, tell me. Is this trip dangerous?"
"What? No, of course not. I'm just interviewing a few people..."
Her raised hand stopped him.
"I don't have time for games any more, Lee. Just answer the question." It was her 'no nonsense' voice, the one she used when she made the boys clean their bathroom. He studied her silently. As the moment dragged on, she frowned with impatience, her blue eyes still quick and intelligent, her hands picking at the cuffs of her sweater. He made an agent's decision in the field, very much the way he had made a similar decision six years earlier in a train station, and put as much reassurance into his voice as he could.
"Yes, some. But it really is just surveillance, nothing like an extraction operation."
"Good, 'cause Amanda's gonna need you back here."
"Our boss understands, Dotty."
"That Melrose man?" Dotty dismissed Billy with a wave. "I've lived in this town long enough to know that national security waits for no man, Mr. Stimson-Stanson-Steadman." She grinned mischievously at him. "Or woman. Editing sessions, my foot. What do you take me for?"
Hearing Amanda on the stairs, Dotty turned without missing a beat. "You do remember Captain Curt is taking me to the Garden Show tomorrow? I have to be there early. I'm exhibiting my red roses."
"Yes, Mother," they chorused.
That Saturday was theirs.March 18, 1989
On Sunday, Amanda drove Lee to Andrews to catch the military flight to Germany and the contacts that would insert him into the Soviet Union where he needed to be. Each day for the next two weeks, Amanda appeared at Billy's door at 3 P.M. every afternoon, to get a wordless nod that indicated Lee was making his check-in calls.
Dotty had no such resource and became even more obsessed with the news. Philip joked that she could replace Tom Brokaw as a fully informed news anchor with only thirty minutes notice, but both he and Jamie spent their evenings listening to their grandmother rehash the day's events in the Soviet Union, speculating endlessly whether Lee was in this town or that city. Amanda listened with awe as Philip, who could barely scrape together a C in history the year before, wondered if Lee had interviewed the citizens of Zhitomir over Alla Yaroshinskaya's election or members of the Lion Society in Lvov about their election boycott. When she finally asked Philip about his new-found geographical expertise, he showed her the National Geographic map of the Soviet Union that Lee had taped to the inside of the boys' closet door, complete with little Post-it notes marking the dates he'd be in each town. She could only hope that Dr. Smyth never found out.
They all counted the days until Lee's return.
One afternoon in the second week of Lee's absence, after driving Philip to baseball practice, Amanda returned home to find Dotty ensconced on the sofa in the family room, a cup of fresh peach tea at her elbow, greatly excited.
"Amanda, listen to this!"
Rustling the day's copy of the "Washington Post", Dotty read, "In the most stunning display of dissatisfaction with the Communist Party rule since the rounding of the Soviet state, dozens of independent and reform-minded candidates defeated party regulars in Sunday's multi-candidate elections for the country's revamped national legislature." She continued summarizing the article, reading sentences here and there. When she finished, she asked eagerly, "Does this mean Lee will be home soon?"
"I hope so." Amanda looked at her watch, then at her mother, puzzled. "I thought you had another appointment today. What are you doing here?"
"I cancelled it," Dotty said shortly and bent her head over the paper again.
"Mother, you need those treatments to get well."
"Amanda, they aren't doing any good. I talked to the oncologist and she agreed. I'm not going to get well. And I don't want to spend what time I've got left throwing up. I'm going to eat while I can and garden while I can, and then I'm going to go home."
"If it's the money..."
"It's not. I know what Lee did about the insurance. He explained it all to me before he left. But chemo isn't going to change anything now. It's too late."
"You can't give up like this!" Amanda's voice rose.
Dotty stood with difficulty. "I'm not giving up, but I'm not denying what's happening any longer." She said, more gently, "I don't want to waste time working for something that can never be. I want the time I've got left to be about what's real." Her voice became more defiant. "And I want it on my own terms. Not yours. Not the cancer's. Mine." She folded the newspaper carefully and set it on the coffee table, then left the room with quiet dignity, not looking back at her stunned and weeping daughter.
It was Joe, and not Amanda, who met Lee at Dulles two days later, to explain that Dotty had refused further treatment, to warn Lee that Amanda was not taking this decision well and her attitude was affecting his sons, and to demand that Lee do something about it. It was not a pleasant drive, but at least he was somewhat prepared for the state of armed truce he found when he got home: a defiant Dotty, an aggrieved Amanda, and two teen-age boys who were terrified and confused. All four were so very glad to see him that it took him awhile to realize just how deep the tension ran.April 15, 1989
"I'm sorry, Son."
Lee felt warm all over when she called him that, despite the morning chill. Now he shook his head.
"Don't be, Dotty. It's not your fault. Where do you want this?" Lee waited for instructions from his mother-in-law. It was a Saturday, a week after Lee's return, and Amanda was working, again. Lee had driven her into Georgetown in the station wagon, and returned by way of the garden store, picking up a long list of Dotty-items, soil and tan bark and annuals and perennials. After unloading his treasures onto the walkways of the backyard, he surveyed his territorial holdings, and went to work under Dotty's still keen eyes, planting, fertilizing, watering.
"That bag goes under the kitchen window. You'll need to fertilize it pretty thoroughly; for some reason nothing seems to do well there."
Lee swung around to look at her sharply, but she was staring at the ground under the window, with no trace of a smile. She continued, "She blames you for failing to persuade me to continue the chemotherapy treatments, doesn't she?"
"Yes, she does. A bit." Lee saw no point in denying it.
"She's so like Walter. He wouldn't give up on anything he wanted, either. She wouldn't give up on Joe -- that's why it took so long for her to actually go through with the divorce."
"She wouldn't give up on me, either," Lee protested.
"You weren't a hopeless case, Lee. Here, put those hostas there." Lee looked bemused at the row of pots until Dotty pointed out the three small plants whose bluish-green leaves were edged in off-white. "They're Pilgrims, and they are supposed to do well in shady areas." She sat and watched with satisfaction as he set the plants for her.
"She likes a challenge." Lee raised a scandalized face to find his mother-in-law looking back with an unmistakably naughty lift to her eyebrows. "She's can't stand not doing something when she can see the way to fix it. She kept trying to fix her first marriage, to fix me with a life after Walter died, to fix things for the boys so they wouldn't miss Joe. She even tried to fix the plumbing. You should have seen the kitchen! Or maybe not."
"She's done a great job with the boys."
"She's done a good job with you, too," Dotty said shortly, but her eyes were twinkling. "I noticed you don't leave half-drunk coffee cups all over the house any more."
Lee acknowledged the truth of his sins with his best Stetson grin, and Dotty grinned back, but her smile faded as she continued.
"Lee, she can't fix this."
"She won't accept that. I'm not sure that I accept it... Don't worry. I'm not going to give you a hard time about it. But I don't know how to help Amanda deal with the situation. She won't let me."
"She's not used to trusting people for help. She's used to making the best of things." Lee had a sudden memory of Amanda, shackled and cold, lost in a swamp, proud of starting a fire with her one waterproof match. Dotty's voice pulled him back to the present. "Did she ever tell you about Walter dying?"
"No." He had never known how to ask, even when Amanda was helping him deal with the truth about Thomas Blackthorne's role in the deaths of his own parents.
"Probably not. Even at this date, it would mean being a bit disloyal to Joe. Amanda's very loyal. So I'll tell you." Her tone dismissed the need for any sense of loyalty to Joe.
She leaned back against the lounge for support and took another sip of tea. "Let me see...Jamie was five. Joe had been home for a month. He had some business in D.C. he had to take care of. Amanda thought he'd come home because Walter was failing. She'd written, every week. I don't think it registered with Joe. If his family wasn't in front of him, they didn't exist. His mind was on his work. My husband had been sick for months, Lee, and Amanda was helping me, taking care of two boys, running her own house, half running ours, ferrying me back and forth the hospital. When Joe came home, he wanted her to type notes, go to publicity fundraisers for the EAO, and do all the things that she'd done before the boys came along. Somehow, she worked it all in, even managing to keep her temper when he was impatient because she was five minutes late dressing up for some meeting of his. He didn't even ask where she'd been, didn't want to hear that the doctor had kept her to explain that Walter had a week, maybe, left. The last thing she needed to do at that moment was go to a fancy society party as window dressing so Joe could show off his dutiful and doting wife. Especially since it was a fraud by then and they both knew it."
Dotty took another sip of tea. "They had a fight on the way home from the party. Joe told her he was going back to Africa, and that his leave in the States was up. She asked him to stay another week, and he told her he couldn't. But she knew that wasn't true. She'd asked Foster at the party, and Foster would have given Joe more time here. She thought it was just because he wanted to get away, since he hated dealing with other people's pain. Joe got mad because she interfered and left anyway. Two days later, Walter died. Joe wasn't here when she needed him, and with Walter gone, I was, well, I was something of a mess."
"Lee, I really was. I was never that strong...Amanda gets all that from Walter. I went to pieces. She had to do everything on her own, the funeral, moving me out, going through all our things, then surviving the divorce, finding work, raising the boys. And she kept on coping by herself with everything that came up, mostly, until she met you."
"She's sure not letting me do much now."
"Amanda has to be strong, Lee. It's how she survives. She loves you. There'll be a time to lean on you... just be ready. Then it'll be okay."
Lee tried to believe her. Billy put them in charge of coordinating teams of agents working in the Soviet Union, covering the increasing violence as the autonomous republic Abkhazia tried its hand at succession from Georgia. They had to identify safe contacts, move people around, and put together plans from the abysmally brief reports sent back by the agents in the field. Working with Amanda as his partner during the week, away from home, they regained something of their former balance.
When they were home, Amanda's pattern of protecting the boys held. They managed school carpooling and after school sports, dinner and homework, almost as though nothing more serious than a bout of flu was making Dotty ill.
But on Saturday mornings, it was more than Amanda could bear to see Dotty struggle to get to the backyard and then sink into the chaise lounge, unable to work on the garden. She fled to the boys' baseball games, to the Agency vaults, even to stakeouts with Francine, while Lee stayed home and became Dotty's gardening legs. He moved earth and trimmed roses and pruned back the cherry tree and discovered in himself no talent for gardening, but a real joy in the time he was spending with Dotty, watching the spring unfold under his hands at her direction.June 9, 1989
The boys were with Joe for his weekend visitation time, Amanda was emptying the dishwasher, and Dotty sat dreaming in the warm evening at her favorite post on her chaise lounge in the garden. In the dimming twilight, Lee bent to cut some of the first June roses. It was awkward, especially since his shoulder hurt so much. He gathered the roses, checked for thorns, then spilled his bounty into Dotty's lap. Suddenly he froze, remembering another Dorothy lying among green stems and red blossoms, silent and still. His mother-in-law opened her eyes and looked up at him with concern.
"Lee, are you all right?" Her voice jerked him back to the present.
"Yeah, Dotty, I'm fine. It's just this last case. It's been really hard." He swung his arm, trying to loosen the stiffening muscles, and sat down heavily in the woven green and white garden chair next to hers.
"Are you going to have to go to China? Over this Tiananmen Square fight?"
"Huh? No. My Chinese isn't good enough."
"You wouldn't blend in well, either... You're so much taller than most Chinese." She grinned at him, and the phrase echoed in his mind, Amanda saying something about him being taller. The memory vanished, lost at Dotty's next words. "So all the excitement this week, it wasn't about China."
"Excitement?" Lee said cautiously.
"You and Amanda rushing out of here at 2 A.M. on Tuesday morning?" Dotty offered her evidence of excitement. "You or Joe bringing the boys home from school instead of letting them use the bus? The two men in the cable service van in front of Edna Gilstrap's all day Tuesday and in front of the Parkers' Wednesday?"
Lee acknowledged that there had been excitement. "The van? That was probably Fielder and Beaman. Yeah, they were agents. I'll have to tell them they were busted by a suburban grandmother."
"Don't be silly. They were obvious. So was the cleaning service, right? They were all agents, too?" She added impatiently, "Look, Lee, the last time Amanda let someone else clean her bathroom was the week Jamie was born."
He gave up. "Oh, that. They were checking the house for bugs," Lee summarized their activities briefly. No need to mention bombs, booby traps, poison, defective wiring, and gas line cracks.
"Right. The KGB wants to know about Philip's homework, and whether I made it to the bathroom... Lee, if you want pretend like you're cleaning the house, you need to get people who actually know what they are doing. That blonde woman didn't act like she'd ever cleaned a toilet before."
"Oh, she has, Dotty. Really. At least once, to my certain knowledge."
"Well, she needs more lessons. That's not the way you use one of those brushes, and you really can't balance on heels that high and do a good job. What's her name? Francine something?"
"How did you know that?" he asked slowly.
"She's been here before. Back when Amanda had that animal and plant care service, except that I gather that was already you...the agency, whatever. So, come to think of it, I guess Francine doesn't have a chimpanzee for a pet." Dotty sounded disappointed.
Lee hooted with laughter. "No, that must have been something Amanda made up. I wish I could have seen Francine's face."
"And having Moline for a cook? Was that a..." Dotty searched for the word, "a cover, too?"
"No, that actually was real -- Francine's mother is a fantastic cook and hired Moline for lessons." His hope that Dotty had been diverted to a safer topic was dashed with her next question.
"So what about this week? What was going on? You have the house watched. Amanda came home Wednesday looking like a ghost and wouldn't let Philip go to baseball practice -- and he's never missed one, not ever, unless he was too sick to crawl out of bed. Then all those people here from your precious Agency pretending to be cleaners on Thursday. You come home Friday all bruised and Amanda's limping, and she's still upset."
He was silent, and she added reluctantly, "I heard you arguing last night. That's why I wondered if you were going to have to go solo or whatever it is again to deal with whatever's wrong."
"No, it isn't China. There was a case, a long time ago. The details don't matter and they're still classified anyway. The short version is that I testified and they put the perpetrator away but not for long enough. He made parole last weekend, went right after the judge that sentenced him and killed his twelve-year-old son." Lee's eyes were bleak. Guilt seared the words of that report on his soul. There had been a moment, that long time ago, when he could have killed the perpetrator. At the time he'd hesitated, because the rules said not to use deadly force unless necessary. Now somebody else's Philip was dead.
"Ummm," said Dotty. "So you got protection in case he came after you...or Jamie and Philip." She glanced across the yard and up at Amanda's window. "No wonder Amanda's upset."
"I've always said Amanda got her intelligence from you. Yes. But they caught him yesterday." He did not add that Francine and Amanda had taken the terrorist down in the stairwell of the Middle School, just five minutes before classes started, not a hundred feet from an oblivious Jamie and his classmates and teachers. Or that his bruised shoulder was the result of what the textbooks called unorthodox methods of interrogating the terrorist's partners. He had no regrets about the official reprimand on his record. The information he extracted had resulted in Amanda and Francine reaching the school in time.
"So if this man is back in custody, why were you arguing--oh, don't answer that, it's none of my business." And then, in almost the same breath, "Does Amanda want to quit?"
"I don't know. She got into this business because she wanted to help people and make the world a safer place for Jamie and Philip. Only now we're leading bad guys straight to Jamie and Philip." Lee spread his own hands in front of him, and turned them over. "I'm leading them here."
"Nonsense," Dotty snapped. "What about when Joe came home from Estoccia? And that man Prescott went after my grandsons? He was going to kill them to get to Joe." She watched his face and saw the unspoken confirmation. "You didn't start that fight, Lee, but if you hadn't been there to finish it, Philip and Jamie would be dead. There are bad guys. You didn't make them, but you can stop them. You're the good guys: you and Amanda."
"Amanda is no 'guy'," Lee corrected Dotty, laughing.
"Well, you noticed. Maybe now I'll get some more grandchildren." Lee collapsed completely. Dotty surveyed him with satisfaction as some of the worry lines left his face. She ignored his choked response and went back to her original thought. "If you weren't doing what you do, and you're good at it, I know, I wouldn't have spent the last two years tucking my grandsons into bed every night."
She reached out and took his hand. "You stay on the streets, where you're needed." He was staring across the yard, and she tugged until he looked at her. "Promise me you're going to both be out there, making the world a better place for my grandsons. I need to know it, Lee."
"It's not my decision to make," he answered, reluctantly.
"Damn right." Amanda stood in the doorway, and Lee had never seen her so flamingly mad. He flushed guiltily, realizing that she must have been listening for some time, and opened his mouth to explain, but she beat him to the question. It just wasn't the one he was expecting.
"How long have you known that she knows?"
Lee had to stop and analyze the question before he could answer it. He searched his memory. "This March?" he hazarded. Dotty nodded at Amanda in confirmation.
"Mother! You promised..." Amanda wailed.
"Promised what?" Lee spun from Dotty to Amanda. "How long have you known that she knows?"
"Since Stemwinder," the West women answered simultaneously.
"Joe let it slip in front of both of us," Dotty added complacently. "But I've known a lot longer than that." She took in their bemused expressions. "You were having such fun, dear, making up excuses. Very creative, I thought. I really enjoyed waiting to see what you'd come up with next... although you did really scare me when you told me about the bomb in D. C. I couldn't pack fast enough. I kept dropping things. Tell me, was that woman who gave Philip such a hard time really a Hungarian defector? "
"Yes, she was..." Lee said absently. "Amanda, you knew she knew since Stemwinder?" He jerked his thumb at Dotty. "Why didn't you tell me?" he asked, aggrieved.
"I promised not to. Besides, it's hard enough pretending to just be a documentary film producer's secretary when some people know that you aren't," Amanda protested. "I didn't want to break cover in front of the boys. It was easier if I knew that you would just never bring it up if they were around."
Lee started to assert that he was the consummate professional, but Dotty cut him off. "You don't have to worry about that, any more, either."
They both swung around to look at her. She was grinning up at them like the Cheshire cat. "My grandson Jamie," she started conversationally, "is a lot like me. Photographic memory." She tapped her temple. "You were in the entourage when Amanda showed Princess Penny around the grammar school. Those Arab guards made a big impression on him. You went running into the street after that woman tried to burn the school down. We were late for the Mother of the Year award, and we saw you. I had to talk awfully fast so the boys wouldn't see that it was Amanda in the car, but they saw you, all right. Then you moved in down the street for a whole month back in the spring of 1985, when Amanda was really into her "Mothers for a Safe Environment" crusade. Jamie recognized you again when you turned up at the school and took out Prescott. And both boys recognized you acting in during that Tony Martinet play that was so funny. Jamie put two and two together and got four: you're a spy; his mom's a spy. Math's Jamie's specialty," she explained proudly.
"And Philip?" Amanda asked. "Did Jamie tell him?"
"Actually, Jamie had a hard time, trying to be loyal to his mother, loyal to his brother, and even loyal to a step-dad he wasn't quite sure about. We were sort of co-conspirators after Stemwinder." She smiled, remembering. "Jamie stayed mum. Philip figured it out himself. He was really rather naughty, and I gave him a serious lecture when I found out that he was spying on you."
They looked at her blankly. "He listened to your messages that day when the boys were at your apartment after the basketball game. Jamie was in a funk, and Philip was worried because you didn't come back as quickly as he'd expected, so he played Amanda's message to you, then found the note she'd left. He showed them to Jamie. Jamie recognized Mr. Melrose's number; after Stemwinder, Joe gave it to him. Then you came home and they just pretended they'd been watching TV."
"Why for heaven's sake didn't any of you say anything?" Lee thought of the countless anguished nights worrying over the lies he told about his job to his family.
"We didn't know if we would hurt you by speaking up...if there were bugs... if it would jeopardize an operation. My gosh, Lee, your own people chased you around and thought you were Soviet double agents. We were going to tell you, but when Amanda got shot, and you got suspended on that other case, we just didn't know if we could trust anyone or say anything that wouldn't make some case worse. Or mess up what time you could find to spend together."
She caught the guilty look they exchanged. "It's all right. I admit it hurt a bit when we realized that you'd gone and gotten married and not told us...but we got our own wedding eventually, and you're here now, and that's what really matters. And now, I want to go to bed."
Dotty tried to stand up, but she couldn't seem to push herself all the way off of her lounger. Lee bent over and swung his mother-in-law into his arms. His heart sank; she weighed less than Amanda these days.
As she passed her daughter, she said, "Good night, Amanda. Before you go see your Mr. Melrose about your job, just be sure that whoever's making decisions for you has your best interests at heart."
She tugged on Lee's shoulder. "Go on."
He carried her carefully up the stairs and deposited her gently on her bed. He straightened the tangled blankets, pulling them up for her and tucking her in with the lightest ones. He made sure that her cup of water was within reach, and turned out her light. "Sleep well," he said, closing the door.
Amanda had followed them in and locked up the downstairs. She was waiting for him in their bedroom, already changed into the silky royal blue nightgown with the plunging back that he had given her on their anniversary. She sat at the vanity, brushing her hair, and he took the brush from her to do it himself, luxuriating in the silky feel of her curls sliding over his fingers. Their eyes met in the mirror.
"It's okay, Lee. She's my mother. I've known her all my life."
"Look, I'm sorry about last night." He offered the apology, although he knew from the cut of her nightgown that he'd already been forgiven, and the delectable fun of making up lay ahead. She reached up, caught his hands, and held them to her cheeks. "I'm sorry too. You're right, and she's right."
"If I quit now, it will be my enemies making my decisions for me, and I'm damned if I'll let people like Addi Birol and Viet Diem make those decisions." Her vehemence released some of the tension that had lain between them all day. "We can tell Mother in the morning that'll we'll make that promise. And if Jamie and Philip know, then it's time they take the IFF classes so we can protect them better. You can teach them kung fu moves; Philip will love that." Her eyes glinted up at him, full of the trust they had always held for him. His heart melted, and he bent to taste her smile.
In her own room, Dotty nodded, satisfied, and moved back from the wall that separated her room from Amanda's. She unrolled the sheet of paper she'd been using as a listening tube and looked at what she'd written on it.
Taking out her pen, she added a few words, reread it again, and then folded it and stuck it inside her latest spy novel. She'd put it with the other papers for Amanda to read when it became necessary for Amanda to read them.
It was very nearly time to go home.June 30, 1989
On one warm summer morning, Lee carried Dotty downstairs. After settling her on the lounger outside where it was cooler, he started back inside, but stopped suddenly. Pointing at the hostas, he said, "Pilgrims? As in Peach Puff? You knew from the first?"
"Well, not right away. But I did figure out when it must have begun." The words came out more slowly than usual.
He looked at her with concern, but when she didn't say anything further, he asked, "Do they really do well in the shade, or is that a dig, too?"
She looked at the thriving plants. "Oh no. They were meant for shady areas." He waited patiently while she fought for breath. "They keep the weeds and other invasive plants out." Again, she grinned, pleased with her double-meanings. Lee shook his finger at her and followed the smell of coffee and bacon back into the house to see if breakfast was ready yet.
Dotty surveyed her garden happily. The new hostas really had taken hold under the kitchen window; they were spreading and would last the winter, easily. Lee knew to prune the roses after the last frost. The boys would be taken care of, and loved. Lee would help Amanda… It nagged at her that she hadn't managed to put the letter she'd finished last night with the other papers she'd left for Amanda, but she was so tired. She thought she'd take a nap before breakfast, and shut her eyes.
"Walk with me," Walter said in her ear. She gave him her hand. She felt light as a feather. It was suddenly quite easy to get up and go with him.
Lee stuck his head out the door.
"Dotty, what would you like for breakfast? I can make you one of my special omelets..." Lee's voice trailed off. Dotty was sitting where he'd left her, but she didn't turn at his question as she usually did. He went forward quickly and lifted her, and his Agency training kicked in. He put his cheek against her mouth, checking for breathing, and then slid two fingers up the side of her throat, seeking a pulse, finding nothing.
Though he'd been dreading the moment for months, the reality caught him unprepared. He set Dotty's body back down on the lounge and backed up until he could feel the fence behind him. He hung onto the crossbeam for support, suddenly unable to breathe himself. He shut his eyes, trying desperately to regain control, not to give in to the sob rising in his throat. "I have to tell Amanda… Got to be strong for Amanda."
And so he did not see Amanda come out of the house and take in the situation. He did not see her turn toward him and reach out for support, the strength that he had set aside for her use, banked up, all that he could spare. He missed the quick look of realization, the little nod as she threw back her shoulders and straightened herself to take on yet another burden unassisted. He did not even realize that she had been there until he heard the kitchen door shut, and then he was running across the yard and into the house.
She was on the phone, calling the doctor and the ambulance, and her only answer to his offers of help was the too-familiar shake of her head. He stood across the room as the strangers entered and watched Amanda direct and control the flow. He might as well have been on the opposite side of the Grand Canyon. She was constantly moving, and he could not reach her while they bore Dotty's shell out, or speak to her as she signed papers and gave instructions from the notes Dotty had made.
"There's a casserole in the freezer," she told him, as the ambulance pulled away. "I don't know when I'll be back. Just...just be here for the boys when they get home. Make sure they eat. Do their chores." And then she was gone, and when she came home, the wall was already in place, the citadel from which she coped with funeral arrangements and Joe's visitation rights, and flowers that gave Jamie asthma and Philip's torn shirt the day of the graveside service. At night, exhausted, she would sleep in his arms, and he knew that she could lose herself for a moment in their shared passion. But she would let him do nothing else for her.
At first, he excused her preoccupation with the funeral arrangements as evidence of her need to perform some last service for Dotty, and that, when the rush of required activities was over, they would be able to sit and mourn together. He was startled to discover that the funeral would be small; only Joe, the minister, the boys, Captain Curt and the head of Dotty's garden club were invited. The day after the funeral, Amanda went resolutely back to work, seeming determined to show that she had coped with a bad time, and it was over. At IFF and her PTA meetings, when queried, she would reply that yes, of course, she was fine.
At home, she never mentioned Dotty.August 22, 1989
"I don't want it!" Philip's voice was tight with tears.
Amanda's cajoling tone was edged with desperation. "Philip, I spent the week painting. The room is aired out and it's perfectly fine. You need the space. Jamie needs the space."
"I don't want it," he said again. "Grandma wouldn't have made me do this."
"Well, Grandma isn't here any more. Get used to it," Amanda snapped in frustration. She was hot and tired and sweaty, and she'd endured a long week without Lee, who was training a batch of freshman agents at Station One, and without the boys, who had their final summer vacation time with Joe. The silent house had mocked her until she couldn't stand it, and she'd filled her non-working hours with a frenzy of moving clothing and furniture out, plastering over a lifetime of wounds in the walls, then shelving the closet and painting everything a masculine drake green. She'd shoved aside every memory and built instead a fantasy of anticipation of Philip's excitement at having his own room, only to have it crumple in the face of his anger when he realized what she had done.
"Oh Philip, I'm so sorry…." She apologized immediately, but he was already slamming the door in her face.
She reached out and touched the wood, cool beneath her hand. She could hear her son sobbing on the other side, but when she opened her mouth, nothing would come out. She sank listlessly down on the top step of the stairs, and sat with her hands balled in lap, while she tried to regain some composure. "Mustn't cry. Mustn't," she thought, and then realized that her eyes were perfectly dry, and the momentary panic had passed again. But it took a conscious effort to unclench her fingers.
The front door opened.
"Mom?" Jamie asked, trying to see his mother's face against the sunlight pouring through the window of the upper landing.
"Hi, Jamie, " she managed. "Uh, Lee's going to be late coming back from his assignment…I haven't done any grocery shopping. I'll be back in an hour. You get cleaned up." She snatched up her keys and purse from the table and rushed out the door, cutting off Jamie's protesting voice as he reached the top of the stairs, "What did you to do our room? What's going on? Philip?"
Amanda's car was gone when Lee came home. He checked the desk for mail, and called out for his stepsons. "Up here," Jamie said, and at the strain in the boy's voice, he took the stairs two at to time, to find Philip angry and defiant in the middle of a landslide of the papers, books, clothes, and toys shifted from the room he had always shared with Jamie, and Jamie standing fearfully in the hall, peaking around the doorway.
"What's wrong?" Lee asked. Amanda had said something about Philip needing his own room, and he'd resigned himself to being dragged along shopping with her so she could pick out paint and furniture, but it looked like she had managed to take care of it herself, just like she'd managed to finish all the August bills herself.
"Why'd she have to do it? I always wanted my own room, but not this way. This feels weird." Philip squirmed.
Lee looked around the room and noticed Jamie watching them. "Jamie," he said firmly, "get your gear put away and get on your chores. The trash needs to go out." Jamie vanished, and Lee turned his attention back to Philip. "It's not at all weird." He said, feeling his way cautiously, "I think your grandmother would be glad you were in her room. She hated for things to go to waste. She'll be here, watching over you."
"She'll just tell me to study or pick up my stuff," Philip sniffed.
"Or that she's proud of you. You know she would be -- especially that B in history."
Philip bent over to pick up some books and stacked them on the desk, embarrassed. "Yeah, I guess... Lee, can I ask you something?"
"Why doesn't Mom talk about Grandma? I mean, it's like she's double-dead."
"Sometimes it's really hard to talk about something that hurts or someone you've lost," Lee said slowly.
"Didn't you want to talk to someone about your mom after she died?" Philip asked.
Memory, sharp-edged as a sword, cut through years of denial and suppression, releasing confused images of the night he was five years old and the neighbors came to take care of him, of the bedtimes that followed until he realized his mother was not coming up the stairs to tuck him in, of the afternoons when he finally understood that his father was not going to be home from work to toss his baseball to him. Colonel Clayton, struggling with his own grief over the loss of his young step-brother, had no words of comfort to give the grieving child that Lee had been, and the Colonel had known Lee's mother too briefly to have any stories that would keep her memory green for her son. The image of Amanda retreating into such stoic formality was not one he dared give Philip.
Philip waited patiently, sensing that Lee wasn't trying to avoid the question.
"Yes, I did. My uncle had a hard time at first, too. It'll get better," Lee promised. Better not to mention his uncle's 'at first' lasted thirty years. Amanda wasn't the colonel, and it had only been six weeks.
Philip caught something of his own uncertainty. "Yeah, right..."
Lee gave up and dealt with the state of the room. After a lifetime on military bases, this was a problem he understood. "Here, why don't you hand that stuff to me, and I'll help you put it on the shelves in the closet."
Later, after they'd had managed to clear enough of his gear off the floor that Philip could safely walk to his bed, they took a break and headed downstairs where it was cooler. Lee got out two old fashioned glasses, poured out Coke over ice, and looked around for Philip. He found his stepson in the family room, holding a picture of Dotty and her grandsons that must have been taken several years before.
"She really would have been proud, Philip," Lee reiterated, and watched the boy's eyes fill up with tears. He held open his arms and Philip moved into them, accepting the hug, then he broke free and ran upstairs. When Amanda arrived a few minutes later, she found Lee alone in the room, staring at his mother-in-law's picture, his own eyes swimming. She took the picture from him and put it back on the shelf.
"You okay?" she asked gently.
"What? Yes, I'm fine," he replied absently, his eyes following the picture.
"You were late." Worry-lines wrinkled her forehead.
"Got caught in traffic," he answered. He couldn't very well tell her that he'd run into Captain Curt coming out of the Agency, and they'd spent a few minutes in a quiet bar, swapping some notes about Dotty, and arranging to meet again the following week. Curt missed Dotty's family, missed the boys he'd hoped to call his own grandsons.
"Can you help bring in the groceries?"
When they came back in with the groceries, Philip and Jamie were in front of the television, watching satellite relay pictures of the Baltic Way chain. Two million people joined hands, creating a 600-kilometer human chain, across Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, demanding freedom and independence. Lee caught Amanda's expression: any such event simply meant more work on an overcrowded work schedule.
That night, he dreamed of standing in a human chain, holding onto Jamie and Philip, while Amanda walked away, getting smaller and smaller until she disappeared altogether.
Baseball practice the next day, and then their current assignment correlating reports from agents undercover in the Eastern Bloc as Hungary removed its border restrictions with Austria kept him busy and pre-occupied. It wasn't until the next weekend that he realized that the half-dozen pictures of Dotty that had been scattered around the house had disappeared.
As the fall deepened, Amanda slowly removed all traces of her mother from the living room, dining room, kitchen, and bath, even the garage. No witness protection program had more thoroughly expunged a person. By Thanksgiving, with Philip in her room, and the garden blanketed with snow, and the extra chair from the dining room table doing duty as a kitchen stepstool, Dotty might never have lived in the Maplewood house.
In those same months, they adjusted, become even more of a family, wore off some rough edges, grew more comfortable together. Philip lengthened and Jamie shot up until both of them could look Amanda level in the eye. There were routines, typewritten and stuck with PTA fund-raiser magnets to the fridge, for schooldays and weekends and camp days and predawn football practices. There were routines for telephone checks when Lee and Amanda were out, safety rules and phone numbers on little cards in the boys' wallets, and regularly scheduled sessions at Lee's gym that had nothing to do with school sports. There were also routines just as rigidly kept but never formally acknowledged, for Dotty's birthday, Christmas morning, New Year's Eve.
Lee, practiced in the fine art of grief, watched as Amanda wrapped a piece of herself away where not even he could reach it.January 1, 1990
Lee was at the family room desk, carefully writing out checks to pay the bills. Amanda rattled around the kitchen by herself, insisting that he didn't have to wash dishes after a long hard day of second-guessing the football scores, and he grabbed the chance to pre-empt her and do the bills himself. He watched with some dismay as the totals in their joint account dropped steeply with each payment to the orthodontist, the eye doctor, the plumber, the auto mechanic, the city treasurer for the water bill. If he hadn't been so full of guacamole and chips, he would have been depressed, but even the bill for the broken window upstairs didn't dampen his spirits. He licked the stamp, pressed it on, and set the last envelope down. He picked up one of the seed catalogues that had come the day before. It was addressed to Dotty, since no one had thought to warn the seed houses not to send any more. He wondered idly what Dotty would have picked to go in the bare spot near the gate.
"Lee?" Jamie's whispered voice broke through his concentration.
"What is it?"
Jamie slid forward carefully, staying out of sight of the kitchen.
"You in trouble?" Lee asked, amused.
"No. I just...I wanted to give you this for Christmas." Jamie held out the flat package. "I just didn't want Mom to see it, and then I wasn't sure... but I thought you'd like to have it."
Lee looked cautiously toward the kitchen, and when Amanda moved out of sight, he nodded toward the stairs. The two males snuck back up the stairs to Jamie's room. Lee lowered his long frame awkwardly onto Jamie's bed and then, putting himself in the same mental state with which he would have tried to diffuse an armed bomb, tried to silently remove the paper from the clumsily wrapped present. Jamie stood watch guiltily at the door.
The colored papers fell to the floor, and Lee held a photograph Jamie must have taken. In it, Lee stared, woebegone, at a drooping flower, while Dotty looked at Lee with exasperated affection. The plant was an African violet, and he'd been raising it to give her for Mother's Day. He'd gone out to his makeshift hothouse in the garage window to get the carefully tended plant to present it to her, but found it wilting and shriveling. He been so disappointed...and she'd laughed so hard at his woe. Jamie's camera had caught the contrast perfectly. Lee touched Dotty's face in awe.
"Do you like it?" Jamie asked, still in a whisper, from the doorway.
"Yes, Jamie." Lee said softly. "I like it very much."
"Uh, Lee, I've got more."
Jamie crawled under his bed, and then backed out, dragging a suitcase. Pulling a key out of his jeans pocket, he opened it. "Mom thinks its empty, and I use it when we go to Dad's…so I put all my Grandma photos here." He dumped a stack of black and white and color snaps in Lee's hands.
"Jamie?" Philip stood at the door. "What if Mom comes?"
"Close the door!" Jamie said urgently.
Lee thought quickly. "Come on in, Philip. If she asks, I'll tell her it was a guy talk thing," he promised, and won a snort from Jamie. Amanda had said she'd be grateful if Lee would guide the boys, and, especially given his past history, he was flattered that she trusted him to do a good job. Then the reality struck him that he needed this particular 'talk' as much as the boys did.
Philip slipped into the room and shut the door. Lee shifted over so that Philip could sit on one side and Jamie on the other while they silently went through the photos one by one. Jamie had been busy with the camera Lee had given him. There were pictures of a nearly-healthy Dotty posing with the boys on birthdays, gardening, cooking, folding laundry, watching a Saturday morning baseball game, and one where she was all dressed up and ready to go out on the town with Captain Curt. Then there were the formal pictures of Dotty standing with Amanda, with Lee, with Lee and Amanda, with the boys, with all of them at the wedding.
"Mr. Melrose took that one," Jamie explained.
More poignant and more precious were those of a fading Dotty putting decorations on the Christmas tree, washing dishes sitting down, sleeping on the sofa after chemo treatments, resting in the garden with a bunch of red roses in her hands. When they'd each seen all of them, Jamie wordlessly put them away and locked his suitcase, shoving it back under the bed.
"Thank you, Jamie," Lee told the the boy when he resurfaced.
"You're welcome, Lee," Jamie replied. "And, well, anytime you want to see them, just ask."
"I will. How did you manage to get them developed?"
"Dad took them into the camera shop."
"Two points for Joe," Lee conceded, as he headed back down to the family room and stuck the photograph from Jamie into his briefcase.
Amanda's voice at his shoulder startled him. "Bills done?" she asked.
"Hmhmm." He looked back at the desk, trying to remember what he'd been doing when Jamie appeared.
He didn't have time to finish his recollections, because Amanda's hand was sliding up his shoulder so that her thumb could tease the hollow of his throat. Five minutes later they were, as Amanda said, properly setting the tone for the New Year. He forgot about the catalog until the following week, when the melting snow uncovered the bare dirt next to the gate, and he recalled wondering what Dotty would have put there. By then, however, Amanda had cleaned up the family room, and the catalog was gone. He didn't want to ask where.
He managed to smuggle Jamie's photograph to the Agency on a day when Amanda was working stakeouts with Francine. He set it face up in one of the locked drawers of his desk in the Q bureau, knowing Amanda wouldn't go through his classified information without authorization. He would occasionally "lose" something in the middle of the afternoon, just to have the excuse to go through his drawers, and see, even if only for a frozen moment of time, his mother-in-law looking at him with laughter and with love.March 2, 1990
On Friday of what had been a long, hard week, Billy briefed them with the first reports of a possible plot against runners in the just-announced first National Race for the Cure. Amanda walked out of the meeting, and avoided the topic the rest of the day. After she left to pick up the boys from school, Billy summoned Lee down to the bullpen office. Dr. Pfaff was sitting in front of Billy's desk, for once without a Popsicle or ice cream cone.
"How's Amanda doing with -- all this?" Billy asked.
When Lee was silent, Billy went on. "Smyth's noticed a drop in your efficiency -- oh, don't panic! Your partnership isn't threatened. But Amanda's scores for fitness and her response times in hand-to-hand are off. If she were a pilot, she'd be on the verge of a down-check, grounded and out of the field. So, I ask your opinion again: how is she going to do with a case that hits so close to home?"
"I honestly don't know. Dotty's the one thing we never talk about. I thought at first Amanda just needed time, but it's been months. Now she never mentions her. When the boys talk about Grandma, she lets them finish the sentence, but then she always changes the subject. She even took down the pictures of Dotty that were in the family room. It upset Philip a lot, but he wouldn't say anything to her—especially since they'd already had a fight about his moving into Dotty's room."
Pfaff prodded gently. "Tell me about the pictures."
Lee explained about Amanda's painting frenzy, Philip's resentment, Jamie's stash of photographs, and what had become monthly "guy talks" in Jamie's room, about the trust growing until the night Philip had repeated his question about Lee's mother, and both boys has listened with rapt attention while he read to them from her diary and letters. Pfaff patiently waited him out. Then he went back to the original incident.
"And Amanda took the photos down when? Right away or a couple of weeks after the funeral?"
"More like a month, six weeks."
"So until she saw you with the picture when she got home after her fight with Philip, she was fine with them being out?" Pfaff's question was suddenly very focused.
Lee thought back. "She didn't say anything, but she cleaned every week. She would have known they were there, and handled them. So yes, I guess."
"Did you ask her about them?"
"No.… I didn't want to rake anything up. I mean, if she can't bear to look at them, I don't want to hurt her. It was tough on her, losing Dotty that way."
"It's tough losing someone you love any way," Pfaff said curtly. "Lee, look at the situation. Your work is off because of it, and that could get you killed. You haven't dealt with your grief. She sure isn't dealing with hers. She's cut her last two psych evaluations. You can't bear to hurt her, and she can't bear to hurt you. Does this tell you anything?" The doctor sat with his hands folded and stared at Lee, waiting. When Lee did not answer, he turned to Billy. "Classic codependence," he said.
The label stung, and Lee bristled. "I can't make her talk to you about Dotty."
Pfaff shrugged. "Then you tell me about Dotty."
So Lee tried to tell Pfaff about his mother-in-law. About being caught on the porch in a W. C. Fields mask. About ducking beneath the kitchen window for three years. About milk and Galliano nightcaps and cinnamon-apple bath salts and a wispy yellow naughty almost nothing from Rebecca's Fantasies. About Dotty's hysterical driving lessons and her nerve-wracking flying lessons. About how she'd known all along that Amanda was a spy, that he was a spy. Billy moved abruptly at that, but didn't interrupt Lee's litany. Lee told them about yellow daffodils and white-edged hostas, African violets and red June roses.
"Roses? Red roses? You planted red roses for her? Very, very interesting," Pfaff said.
Finally, Lee wound down. He had not, he realized, run out of things to say; but he'd run out of time, and he was going to be late for dinner. He'd barely scratched the surface of trying to give Pfaff an accurate picture of the set of delightful contradictions that had been Dotty West, but he realized as he talked that, with each phrase, more of Dotty came back to him.
"So what can I do, doctor?"
Pfaff responded earnestly, helpfully, "What do you think you ought to do?"March 3, 1990
"Lee, whatever are you doing?"
Lee stumbled, overbalanced, and struggled to right himself without losing his grip on the 5-gallon bag of pre-mixed garden soil in his arms. He let it slide down one leg to the ground next to the kitchen window, and reached behind him for the weeder, which he used to pierce the side of the bag. Ripping the hole open, he started to dump the dirt in the flowerbed along the house.
"What does it look like I'm doing? I'm gardening."
"Uh hunh. You don't know anything about gardening."
"Wrong. This," he waved at his bags of garden soil, "is good dirt. You mix it with tired dirt." He waved at the flowerbeds. "You put seeds in it, or whole plants, you water them, and they grow." He straightened up, hunted around, and found his hand trowel. "I had a great teacher, and I'm not going to let her down. Dotty loved this garden, and I'm going to make it bloom."
There. He'd said her name, out loud in front of Amanda.
He knelt on the pavement and began to dig holes for his new hosta plants. The ones he had planted the previous spring had done so well that he'd picked out more, ones with different coloration on the leaves. He had two special ones for the bare spot next to the gate, which got the afternoon sun. The nursery clerk had pointed out the hosta varieties that were more tolerant of sunlight, and he'd been charmed to find one named "Dorothy", a streaked species from which had been bred a number of different hostas, including the "Foxy Doxy". He worked happily, firmly convinced that Dotty would have appreciated his choices, and completely unaware that he was flinging dirt up so that it stuck to his hair and eyebrows.
Amanda watched him for a while from the patio, but when she realized that he was absorbed in what he was doing, she went back into the house. From time to time, he could feel her looking at him through the kitchen window, standing on tiptoe with her face pressed against the glass so that she could see him as he bent down.
He finished with the hostas and set about clearing out the dead growth and broken stems of winter from the rest of the flowerbeds, weeding out the winter grass from around the corners, and putting down more new soil. It was nearly three in the afternoon when he stepped back and looked at his handiwork, satisfied that he hadn't torn up anything except the weeds. He'd have to go through the gardening books to decide for sure which annuals he wanted to put in, but the beds were ready for new occupants.
He went inside to clean up. When he came down after taking his shower, still a bit damp, Amanda was in the kitchen fixing dinner. He went into the family room to read his mail, and found the electricity bill, a credit card offer, and a flyer from the new dry cleaners. Next to them, neatly stacked, were six seed catalogs, all addressed to Dotty. Checking the postal dates, he realized that they must have arrived just after Christmas, only to be confiscated by his vigilant and protective wife. And now, she had given them to him.
He picked them up almost reverently and sat down on the sofa to study them, making notes of the flowers that interested him, and filling out two order blanks. He left them on the coffee table for a day, knowing Amanda would see them, knowing she still wouldn't say anything, knowing that she'd want to know what he was going to do about the garden, and knowing there was, at long last, a chink in the citadel.
On Monday, they drove to work in the Corvette together, climbed the stairs up to the Q Bureau to review their progress on their current cases, and then took the elevator down to staff meeting. The silences between them, which for months had been strained, were oddly relaxed.
At the end of the staff meeting, Amanda excused herself and stayed behind with Billy, and told him that she would register, raise money, and run five kilometers to honor the memory of her mother…and be the agent he needed inside the race.March 14, 1990 – The Present
"This counts laps. This is the stopwatch. Press this button to start and this button to stop. Your panic button on the watch is here. Press it and it'll buzz Lee." Leatherneck showed Amanda how her new sports watch worked, then proceeded to explain how she could take pictures from the camera in her hip pack. He'd done a good job. The agency-issue had the same fabric and logos as a national brand. She just hoped she wouldn't have to use the unadvertised special features that had been added.
"Let's get your wire adjusted." He stuck a couple of pins in his mouth, and walked around her, grinning.
Lee watched as Leatherneck bent behind his wife. Amanda was dressed in jogging shorts and a middy blouse, sports sox and running shoes, an outfit that had challenged even Leatherneck's prodigious talents. The quartermaster had ruled out her sweatband as too easily removed, and her shoes as too likely to bend or break a wire. There was no way to hide anything under the knit running shorts, nor would he have wanted to even remotely attempt such a feat around any female agent trained in hand-to-hand, much less one married to Scarecrow. He made a final adjustment to the wire transmitter he'd sewn into the back of her sports bra. Amanda was no longer prudish about being fitted for an operation, but Leatherneck couldn't help being mindful of the unblinking hazel eyes of the man on the other side of the table.
"Jus' tightening this..." He tugged and Amanda jumped. "That better?" he said, removing the pins from his mouth. She swung her arms and bent over, then flashed a smile at Leatherneck.
"Yes, thank you. Much better. I can breathe again."
"Good. Don't forget to remove the wire before you do your laundry, though, or you'll short-circuit the radio." He fiddled with the radio equipment on the table. "Let's get a fix on the range. Lee, take her out and we'll see how far she can go before I lose contact."
Amanda began counting in the direction of her right shoulder as she walked around the room.
"You know that wire's only one-way," Leatherneck warned. "Lee won't be able to respond."
"Good," Amanda answered. "It's going to be bad enough talking to my underwear in public. I sure don't want anyone to notice it talking back." She moved toward the door. "One, two, three..."
"Thanks, Leatherneck." Lee grabbed his portable phone and followed Amanda out of the room.
At his elbow, the receiver squawked. Leatherneck retuned it to the right frequency, and Amanda's soft voice cleared the static. "25, 26, 27... Hello Mrs. Marston..." There was the sound of a door opening and closing, then street noises above Amanda's voice.
"How are we doing, Leatherneck?" Lee's voice came in over the phone system.
"Fine, Lee. Still loud and clear, even through the building." He waited until he could hear the traffic noise that would indicate they turned the corner. Finally, Amanda's voice faded. He noted the range: 250 feet.
"Lee, she's out of range." It wouldn't be enough. He started making notes on how to boost the signal, wondering if he could get his designs for a truly wired bra patented, or, barring making a profit, at least classified so Francine wouldn't find out.
Lee's voice crackled from the loudspeaker. "All right. We're going to lunch. I'll let you know when we're coming back, that way you can check how long the battery lasts. Scarecrow out." The phone went dead.
Then, and only then, secure in the knowledge that Scarecrow was at least two blocks and four steel-reinforced, bombproof walls away, Leatherneck pulled off his trademark neckerchief and wiped the sweat from his brow. Amanda King Stetson had one fine figure. He could only imagine what running every day would do to tighten it more... and he didn't intend to exercise his imagination anywhere near Lee.March 18, 1990
In the darkened conference room, Fred Fielder struggled to stay awake, regretting now his decision to succumb to hunger and nerves. Nedlinger's Italian special pasta sat heavily in his stomach. Judging by the two slide trays in front of Francine, it was going to be a long meeting. He reached for his fourth cup of coffee for the day.
Francine adjusted the focus on the slide projector and pitched her voice above the soporific hum.
"Jiera Varnaite. Twenty-two, graduate exchange student in political science at Georgetown University." The agents assembled around the table studied the pictures of the young woman, memorizing the short blond hair and dark eyes of the Lithuanian. "Has her own apartment in the Summerview complex at P Street and 34th. She's been in the US a year, lives quietly, and studies hard. Straight A student. She's into track and distance running and ran in the Boston Marathon last year. She uses the equipment in Yates Field House on a regular basis. Yates is practically impossible to police, but we don't have to worry about it. The FBI has a couple of agents there as employees already. She's been added to their list."
"Jonas Petrauskas." A mop of curly dark hair topped the earnest, bespeckled face. "Twenty-four, graduate exchange student in chemistry specializing in crystalline construction. Been at Georgetown three years and is usually found in the lab, working on his dissertation research. He lives in the University Townhouses, and shares housing with three other male students. Jiera goes to dinner with him once or twice a week, but never stays overnight. She's not known to have any other gentlemen friends."
Four young men, one of them Jonas, smiled self-consciously down from the screen. "Simonas Atanaitis, Carl Kramer, and Mark Townsend. They're Jonas' roommates. Drawn by lot. Simonas is Lithuanian and distantly related to Jiera, but Carl and Mark are American with no close European ties."
The parade of pictures continued. Francine had been excruciatingly thorough in the short time she'd had. She paraded Jiera's associates, professors, and family members before them, then switched to the organizers, sponsors, and known participants for the race itself. Many of the faces were so familiar that there was no need to take notes. As she droned on, Fred stirred uncomfortably and looked anxiously at Lee. It was fast becoming obvious that Jiera aside, there were plenty of potential targets for the KGB, the East Germans, and anyone else who had a reason to be dissatisfied with the changing face of Eastern Europe, real or fancied slights by the American judicial system, oppression by capitalist business leaders, or the liberal left-wing intelligentsia some thought responsible for the decay of the American Puritan ethic. It seemed that the fight against breast cancer transcended political boundaries and made for some very interesting alliances.
Francine switched the slide projector off and the lights back on. Amanda frowned and wished that she had Ernie's memory. Something tugged at the edge of consciousness, made her uneasy, but she couldn't put her finger on it. She just knew it was the feeling she always got when she couldn't connect enough dots to see the whole picture.
Lee stood up and looked at his team. "Thanks, Francine. We'll do updates every week. Anyone you spot who should be under surveillance, add the name. With luck, we'll pick up the eager ones early, but experienced operatives will lay low or come into D.C. just before the race. We won't know what we are up against until much closer to the race. The only thing we can do about them now is prepare. Dismissed."
They filed out glumly. It was going to be a long spring.March 21, 1990
Lee got out of the car and came around to open the door for Amanda, holding out his hand to pull her up. They surveyed the school building in front of them, and the brightly colored signs pointing the way to the registration session for the race.
"You okay?" he asked.
"Yeah," she said. "I'll be fine. Go in, register, boost the cause, and come out. Just like we planned."
"It's a good cause, Amanda."
She didn't reply.
"I'll be right here when you're done," he said quietly, and she walked away toward the low building and went in the double doors.
The sound of her footsteps on the green and black linoleum echoed back from the bank of grey lockers that lined both sides of the harshly lit hallway. She could have been in any junior high school in the district. At a desk placed across the hall in front of the Principal's Office, a couple of incongruously pink, helium-filled balloons floated languidly on the ends of tethers. The young woman standing next to them smiled smartly at Amanda. "Hello! Welcome to the Komen Race for the Cure signup meeting!" Her tee shirt proclaimed her a veteran of a race in Kalamazoo. She shuffled the papers in front of her and asked, "And you are?"
The woman flipped a few pages and ran her pencil down the list. "Right, here you are." She checked off Amanda's name, then reached behind her and grabbed a package of materials, a sweatband with the race logo, and a tee shirt. "This has everything you need... brochure, schedule, suggested training, sponsor signup list, medical release form. Be sure you get that back to us by May 15. Insurance, you know. The team meeting is through the double doors on your right as you go up the ramp; bathrooms are behind me on the left. Is there anything you want to ask now?"
She might have been Carla handing out the registration package for the Marvelous Marvin's Hamburger franchise convention, except for the pink visor she was wearing. Amanda shook her head and backed out of the growing crowd of women clustering around the tables. Clutching her envelope, she pushed her way through the double doors that led to the school cafeteria, set with tables and chairs and a speaker's podium on one side. She selected a seat at a table where she could watch those entering the room and studied the papers she'd been given. She prayed there would be no one she knew, although they had chosen this location for its proximity to Arlington. Sooner or later, she was going to have to let people know she was running: friends, neighbors, co-workers, not to mention the PTA. She had to raise funds, after all. That was the point of the race. She had to maintain her cover.
The cafeteria filled up, and the chatter level rose. Here and there were women with the pink visors, and a few more wore tee shirts that had obviously come from earlier races in other parts of the country. Amanda noticed a man in a dark suit enter and move swiftly to the closed door that led into the kitchen. She watched as he rattled the knob to make sure it was locked, ran his hands around the edges, then raised one hand to his mouth, speaking quietly into his cufflinks.
"Secret Service," she thought, automatically checking the other two doors, each of which now had its own dark-suited attendant. "Wonder who's gonna be here tonight?"
A silver-haired woman approached the podium, and the chatter faded away. She fiddled with the microphone and it clicked audibly on, screeched and was abruptly adjusted. "Welcome, welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to the first National Race for the Cure. My name is Linda Ambruster, and I'm here tonight to help you register, raise funds, and make people aware of the need for research, testing, and treatment for breast cancer. We are very lucky that our own Washington D.C. event is being sponsored by Vice President and Mrs. Quayle, and we welcome Mrs. Quayle tonight."
Applause broke out and a few cheers. The Vice President's wife waited until the room was quiet before she began to tell how her own mother had died from the ravages of breast cancer. Her voice shook, and she had to stop more than once to regain her composure. She spoke for only a few minutes, then put the microphone down and stepped aside. The applause thundered through the room as she recessed down the center aisle, and the Secret Service flowed out with her like dark leaves.
Linda waited until the room had calmed down. "Many of you who are here tonight are survivors. Many of you who are here tonight are the sisters, mothers, daughters, brothers, fathers, and friends of those who have not survived or who are facing this disease. This is a race against time for them as well as for you. When you go out to ask for donations, when you train on the track, and when you run on June 16th, remember why -- and for whom -- you run."
Amanda closed her eyes, and suddenly saw Dotty's face, laughing over some joke of Lee's. For the first time since she had proposed her idea to Billy, she began to wonder if she'd be able to pull off her cover. She opened her eyes, and realized that she was twisting her sweatband round and round her hands. The seam had started to unravel, and there was a small gap. Impulsively she tore a strip of paper from the bottom of her notepad, wrote "Dorothea West" on it, and worried the paper into the hole. Then she put the sweatband back on, and forced herself to pay attention to the details about deadlines and forms and fundraising coming from the various speakers.
When the meeting ended, she filed out with the other women to the parking lot, and spotted Lee waiting for her in the Corvette.
"Did you know that the Vice President's wife would be here tonight?" she asked, as she slid into the passenger seat.
"Yes. Francine told me. We didn't tell you because it wasn't public knowledge. We thought your reaction would be more genuine if you were surprised."
He had braced himself for her predictable, and probably justified, resentment at being manipulated, but she was busy with her own discovery.
"Her mother died of breast cancer." Amanda's voice had an edge of wonder in it. For once, she faced him while she finished her thought. "Her mother was only 56," she said, and then she did turn to look out of the car, unable to say more.
He did not immediately start the car and drive away. He sat for some time, waiting until the hand that was clutching his own relaxed, then lifted it to his cheek and held it there. When her breathing had steadied, he kissed her palm before gently disengaging his fingers from hers to put the car in gear.March 25, 1990
Amanda leaned over, grabbed an ankle with both hands, and stretched, head up, staring down the track.
Five kilometers. 3.106856 miles. 16,404.2 feet.
The world record changed weekly it seemed, somewhere around 14 to 15 minutes.
She grabbed the other foot.
"Slooooowly, Mrs. Stetson!" Jim Vargas, the agency trainer who had once put Lee through his paces over the Alps, cautioned his new assignment. "Warm up, then you don't injure yourself. You want to survive this race."
She winced at the word, but tried to relax. Warm up. Run. Walk. Cross-train. A week into the program Jim and Lee had set up for her, the stiffness of the first days was passing, and she was already feeling stronger. She focused on her shoes. She'd never owned a more expensive pair. She stretched.April 4, 1990
Amanda gasped for air. Her arms and legs felt like rubber. She shoved one foot in front of the other. Endurance, she thought. Not just speed: stubbornness, too…. but she wasn't stubborn. Well, maybe a little. Sometimes it was an asset. Then it became endurance.
The numbers on the treadmill slowing increased. 5.21 miles… 5.22…. 5.23…
She felt a little sick. Jim stood beside the treadmill, checking her pacing with a stopwatch, making notes. She faltered, stumbled, and he looked up, seeing her pale face and clammy skin. "Maybe we should stop a minute," he suggested.
She shook her head. The training chart said six miles for today. She'd run six miles; well, trot it, walk it, or stumble it. She touched her sweatband. She'd crawl it if she had to.
Lee's calm voice reached her. "Drink this." She nodded, stuck out her hand, and he placed the sports bottle in it. She grabbed the rail so that she wouldn't lose her balance, and drank as she trotted, then pushed the bottle back in Lee's direction. He took it. "Just three minutes more," he encouraged her. "Steady pace."
5.69…. 5.70… 5.71
She settled down. Breathe in, breathe out. Steady pace. Two minutes.
5.92… 5.93… 5.94April 10, 1990
"Four laps, Mrs. Stetson." She started down the track, counting steps, trying to pace herself slowly at the start, building up speed as she warmed up. Out of the corners of her eyes she could see Jim on one side, Lee on the other, keeping up with her. She could see the muscles rippling under Lee's shirt as he ran, and see his "nice" legs…. Darn Lee, anyway, distracting her. She pulled her eyes away, back to the track.
Five kilometers. 3.016856 miles. 16,404.2 feet.
A hundred feet from the end of the track, she suddenly sprinted. Caught by surprise, both men fell behind. Lee recovered first, and nearly caught up with her again as she crossed the finish line.
"Twenty-four minutes, eighteen seconds. Down a whole minute, Mrs. Stetson. Not bad at all." Jim threw her a towel. "Walk to cool down. Five minutes."
She put the towel around her neck and walked. "I feel like a prize horse," she said, taking the sports bottle full of water and the magic combination of electrolytes and proteins Jim swore by from Lee. Darn Lee, anyway. He wasn't even out of breath.
Lee grinned. "A thoroughbred," he said. "Pure Virginia stock. Amanda..." he stopped, but she finished it for him.
"Amanda out of Dotty by Walter."
"Good stock," he said soberly. "The best."
"Thank you." She handed him back the water bottle.
"See you tomorrow, ten A.M., Mrs. Stetson," Jim yelled as they walked off the track, their arms linked.May 4, 1990
"What can I do for you, Francine?" Amanda looked up from the pages of notes neatly organized on her desk in the Q Bureau.
"Is Lee here?"
"He's in the vault."
"Well, I need the contact list for Jiera's associates at the University. We aren't getting anywhere with the direct acquaintances; I need to go over the friend-of-a-friend list."
Amanda swirled out of her chair and into Lee's, going swiftly through the mountain of papers on his desk. "Not here," she said. "Just a sec, it's probably down here…" She started to open the drawers.
"Got it," she said, handing the paper over to Francine, who took it and fastened it to her clipboard.
"Great…I'll be right back when I've made a copy of this." She spun and flew out the door, leaving the scent of expensive French perfume behind her.
Lee came out of the vault and sniffed. "Francine want something?" he asked.
Amanda put one hand on the pile of things on Lee's desk so they wouldn't slide off and tried to close the drawer she'd been searching with the other. It stuck and she had to use both hands to pull it further out so that she could straighten it and push it back in. Lee tried to reach down to help her, but it was too late. She lifted the picture of Dotty and Lee and the unfortunate African violet up so that she could see it.
The pile of papers, left unattended, shifted and slid onto the floor. Neither of them paid attention.
Amanda stood up, studying the picture.
"Who took this? Jamie?"
"Yes." He kept his voice carefully neutral. "It's good, isn't it?"
"Too good to stay in the drawer." She fixed the cardboard tabs on the back, and set it upright next to his picture of the boys on the top of the desk.
Francine returned, waving the original list, but their expressions stopped her. She moved around Lee's desk until she could see what they were looking at.
"Nice work. You're obviously no gardener, Lee," she teased. "How did you kill the plant?"
"You put a herbicide on something you wanted to grow?" Francine said in disbelief.
"It was a mistake, Francine. It was hot in garage, and the plant had wilted. I didn't pay attention to the bottles on the table, grabbed what I thought was the water sprayer, and sprayed it with Roundup instead. By the time we realized what had happened, it was too late. Gave Dotty a good laugh, though," he said, smiling at the memory, then at his wife, who smiled back.
Francine noticed the exchange, and put it on her mental list of things to report to Billy.
"Well, better luck next time. Here's the secondary contact list. I'm off to see who knows Jiera's friends, Jonas and his roomates." Francine handed the paper to Amanda and breezed out the door. Lee sat down, picked up the picture, and stared at it for a long time, before setting it carefully back next to his picture of Philip and Jamie. He realized that Amanda was watching him, and when he looked, he saw that her eyes were filled with unshed tears. She looked down and pretended to study the paper in her hands, looking at it and not quite seeing it. Then something caught her attention, and she really did study it. Her eyes widened.
"Lee, guess who's finishing his chemistry degree in the Georgetown lab as Jonas' research partner?"
Lee went through a list of the chemistry graduate students he knew: all one of them.
"Yes." Amanda looked thoughtful. "We should find out if he's noticed anything odd. I'll see what I can set up. "May 6, 1990
Five kilometers. 3.106856 miles. 16,404.2 feet. Twenty-one minutes, thirty-seven seconds.
She listened to the sound of her feet hitting the track, her collar flapping, her own breathing, and the echoes as Lee kept pace beside her.
She reached out and caught his hand, and they pounded down the track together, pulling each other along.May 13, 1990
Amanda lay in bed, pretending to be asleep, but the rustling on the stairs made actual sleep impossible. She knew this scenario, and her role in it. She'd perfected it years before she ever went to a train station on a rainy day.
The bed was empty beside her, and the sheets were cold. Her husband had been up some time already, but he had made it abundantly clear that she was not to get up this bright Sunday morning until surprised by her men folk with breakfast in bed. She braced herself for the surprise.
The bedroom door swung open.
"Ta-da," intoned Jamie. Philip marched in and set the tray in front of her. Perfectly cooked French toast covered with strawberries and whipped cream lay one of her best china plates. A tiny silver bud vase sat to one side holding a single white Whisper, the first bloom from the side yard rose bushes. Jamie bore a saucer and a steaming cup of coffee. Behind him Lee carried in one of the cloth napkins, and a flute of champagne. Lining up at the foot of the bed, they chorused, "Happy Mother's Day!"
She surveyed her tray with real astonishment. It seemed that even after seven years, he had undiscovered depths. "I didn't think you did breakfast," she told Lee accusingly.
"Just 'cause I don't eat it doesn't mean that I don't know how to cook it." Lee smirked as he marched his troops out the door.
She started to eat, aware that while the boys and Lee had left the room, they hadn't actually gone downstairs. There was whispering, Lee's deeper tone, followed by that rustling silence.
She finished the meal, and the coffee, and set aside the champagne to sip. There was an envelope under the bud vase. She smiled first at the carefully lettered homemade card, and then unfolded the flat package. It was a matte-framed picture of Lee triumphant and Amanda demure, dancing together at the public wedding.
She raised her voice. "Jamie! Philip! Lee!"
They filed back in, embarrassed but reassured.
"The breakfast was fantastic, Lee. This is a great picture, Jamie. Thank you. And I love my bud vase, Philip."
"You're welcome," they replied, pleased.
"If you've got other pictures I haven't seen, Jamie, I'd really like to see them," she suggested cautiously.
Jamie stepped back. "Well, there's some I haven't shown you…." He stopped, unsure, and looked at his stepfather.
"It's okay, Jamie. Go ahead and get them," Lee said. "I can't think of a better time to look at them." He leaned over the bed. "I'll clear this." Setting the bud vase next to her champagne flute on the bedside table, he took the tray away. "Save the champagne. I'll be right back."
Jamie returned with his stack of photos and Amanda scooted to one side of the bed. Together, Philip and Jamie laid out the pictures, arranging them as much as possible in chronological order. Amanda sat silently, watching their faces, while Lee watched from the doorway. When the boys were satisfied with their display, he moved inside, carrying the champagne bottle and three empty flutes. Handing a flute to each of the boys, he poured a toasting sip in each, then filled his own glass. He raised it toward Amanda, and then the dozens of pictures on the bed.
"A toast," he said quietly. "To all mothers."
Amanda returned the salute, then gestured toward the pictures, and took a sip. Setting her champagne aside, she reached out and picked up one of the pictures. "I like this one," she said. "I think we need it framed for the hallway, don't you?"
"And one of Lee's mom, too," Philip said, glancing at his stepfather. "Jennifer."
"I'll ask the Colonel for one," Amanda promised. "I think he said he had some in storage."May 18, 1990
Lee stepped around the electrical cords that ran along the floor, and warily eyed the wall of tubes, pipettes, beakers and flasks in front of him. "Carmine, you here?"
"Right here, Mr. Stetson." The chemistry graduate student appeared from behind one of the lab tables. "Sorry I'm late. We had to recalibrate the spectroscope. It's always rather finicky. How's Mrs. Stetson? What can I do to help you?"
"Amanda's fine and she sends her love. She's a bit busy right now. I need you to talk to me about Jonas and the work you're doing together."
"Sure thing." Carmine moved behind the glass wall. "All this," he indicated the linked glassware, "is really a kind of distilling process. The reactants flow in here, get separated, into components here—" he indicated a junction with a cock stop "—and then condense over here in a saturated solution." He looked at the contraption with immense satisfaction. "It took weeks to blow the glass, connect the tubes, refine the design, get the pressures right, determine the optimal volumes…" At Lee's expression, he grinned sheepishly. "Sorry. I guess Chimex beakers and titration burettes aren't all that exciting to someone in your line of work, but," he turned back to gaze at his handiwork, "all this—I've put my heart and soul into it for the last three years."
"I appreciate that it was a lot of work, but I barely survived college chemistry," Lee apologized. He didn't add that his chemistry had improved somewhat after graduation, aided by special tutoring from Agency experts reviewing bomb construction, poison distillation, and biological warfare possibilities. "Maybe if you could just hit the high points. I'll ask when it starts to get confusing."
Carmine relented. "We're basically doing crystal construction. It's tough to do because crystals take a long time to grow, but fracture easily or pull in impurities, so if you don't do everything exactly right, you get a crystal with a flaw."
"Like a diamond." Lee said to show that he understood where this was going.
"Exactly. Here." Carmine poured a bunch of small colorless beads the size of green peas into Lee's hands. "These are just beads, embedded with silicon zeolites, a special kind of crystal that acts like molecular cage."
"Huh? Now I am lost," Lee admitted. "I remember learning that a molecule is a collection of atoms in a particular organization, but how can a molecule be a cage?"
"Did you ever play with Tinker Toys when you were a kid?" Carmine asked.
"No, but I know what they are," Lee claimed. He'd spent the last Christmas morning on his knees with his stepsons, creating a structure that used every Tinker Toy piece in the house, restricted by a rule that each piece must touch at least two others unless it only had one connector. It had been a lot harder than he'd expected, and he'd had to postpone his guacamole feast until New Year's.
"Well, imagine a geodesic sphere made out of Tinker Toys," Carmine said patiently. "The spools are atoms, and the sticks are the bonds that hold the atoms together. You can design a molecule in such a way that you get a ball that's a cage. If we make the bonds kind of rubbery, you can push smaller molecules in and trap them inside because there won't be anything to push them out. The zeolite cage can hold molecules of other substances, things like fertilizers, gases, nutrients, or herbicides, and release them slowing over time. Or you could store certain kinds of molecules using the zeolites as permanent packages, under the right conditions."
Lee held one bead up to the light. "Okay, I think I follow you now. But why make the zeolites in beads?" he asked. "Wouldn't a flat paper be better? Or a filter cone?"
Carmine shook his head. "You want as much surface area as possible, but the zeolites still have to have some volume, some 'inside' chamber. There are some new washing powders made of zeolites, and powder is the best form for that purpose, as well as for fertilizers. Zeolites are great for fertilizers; they hold the minerals you want at just the right concentration." He considered the problem for a minute, then continued, "Theoretically, you could have any shape you wanted…you just need to make the zeolites part of another structure. There are a lot of commercial possibilities."
"But the zeolites themselves aren't poisonous, right?" Lee asked. "I mean, holding them, or eating them won't hurt you." He wondered if maybe Jonas was looking for a new way to make an untraceable poison.
"Nope. They are inert and non-toxic. They can function as a catalyst to help another reaction along, but they mostly don't take part in reactions themselves. Inside the zeolite is an ion, a charged particle that can pull in targeted minerals, or water if you want to use them as a desiccant. They really make good sponges, until you get them warmed up. Then they'll leak. That's what Jonas has been testing."
"Sounds…fun," Lee said, trying to keep the disappointment out of his voice. Another dead lead, he thought. He hoped Amanda and Francine were having better luck.May 21, 1990
"This is Bethany and this is Joan and this is Amanda." The three women shook hands and turned back to Linda Ambruster. "You've each got a table next to one of the library entrances, and brochures, sponsor sheets, and a change box with change." She picked up the metal box and rattled it to emphasize her point. "Your shift goes until noon. Then you'll be relieved. Good luck."
Amanda had drawn the main entrance, and she was kept busy by the curious and the serious. Her sponsor list grew. One woman went into the library and came back out with five books on cancer. Another wanted to tell her about all the women she had known who had died young of various forms of cancer. A third spent twenty minutes trying to persuade Amanda of the restorative powers of essiac. Finally the herbal enthusiast left, and Amanda turned to the man who had been waiting patiently next to the table.
"How are you, Mrs. King?"
She stared at him. Memory coalesced from a sensation of cold, the echoes of "Silent Night", and the still-terrifying panic that had gripped her when she realized Lee had been shot. She'd known Lee what, all of three months then? It seemed a lifetime ago. "Dimitri?"
"You have good memory, Mrs. King."
She did not correct him, but looked around, trying to spot Francine, one of Lee's family, or another agent. Dimitri shifted so that his back was to the street. "Do not be frightened. I am not here to hurt you. You saved Ivan's life. Stetson, he worked with Nadine and Isaac one, maybe two years ago. We were enemies… now maybe we not enemies any more. You will listen. You will tell Stetson."
"I'm listening," she answered, feeling for the panic button Leatherneck had put in her watchband.
"Alexi Makarov, you know him, I think. He is very sick man, but still he has influence. He has plan, we think, to make trouble. He is coming to this country. He comes for your race. You tell Stetson."
"I will tell Lee," she promised.
He started to leave, then turned back and touched the poster on the table. "This race is good thing." He took out a twenty-dollar bill and laid it on the table. "You run for them, the dead ones. Run fast. Run the whole race."
Then he walked away, leaving her speechless.
Lee and Francine were equally silent for a while when she finished her debriefing four hours later.
"Great, just great," Francine complained as she finally recovered her voice. "We don't have enough to do with the rest of the world collapsing; now the termites come out of the woodwork."
"You'd better get Ernie on the job looking at the airport tapes," Lee suggested. "We might get lucky."
"Right. I'll set it up. Anything else?"
"Let the D.o.D. guys know. They haven't forgiven Makarov for sabotaging the Stemwinder games. They may have some ideas."
Francine nodded and added a note to check with her contacts in the Department of Defense.
"I just was wondering why he did it." Amanda fingered the twenty-dollar bill Dimitri had given her. The lab techs had gone over it looking for microdots, notes, impregnated poisons, finally decided it was merely a twenty, and sent it back to her in a plastic ziplocked bag, along with a 25 page printout listing all the things they hadn't found.
"Dunno. Do you think it's important?"
"I think it was personal." Amanda sounded disappointed. "I'd better get down to the track. Jim's probably waiting."
Francine watched her leave, and turned to Lee. "What do you figure the odds? How did Dimitri know she'd be there?"
"The participant lists are public, Francine. They have to be. The participants need sponsors. The Soviets could simply have asked for the lists from the Foundation, and then staked out the places where they knew fundraising events were going on. That library makes sense if they wanted to find Amanda -- it's the closest site to our house."
She made some more notes. "Speaking of fundraising, how's Amanda's going?"
"Pretty well. She's gotten a lot of support from IFF -- even from the people who don't realize this is an assignment. And church. And the PTA, and my family. T. P. must have said something."
"Good for him."
When Amanda came out of the showers an hour later, she was surprised to find Francine waiting for her. The blond agent handed her a piece of paper. "I did some research."
"Anastasia Valeriya Sosnikov," Amanda read. The name meant nothing to her. "Who is she?" she asked Francine.
"Dimitri's cousin. She died last year, of breast cancer. She was only 32."
"Thank you, Francine." Amanda folded up the strip of paper, and slid it into her sweatband.June 10, 1990
"Seven thousand runners?" Francine's voice rose. "We have to watch and work around seven thousand runners?"
"Yes," Amanda responded enthusiastically. "The race has been incredibly successful in getting participants and sponsors. We may break a half-million dollars in new funds. It's really great..." she trailed off at the dismay on Francine's face.
Francine pulled herself together. "Yes, it is. And I'm glad...really I am, Amanda." And not just about the race, she thought. You are positively, gloriously, annoyingly perky this morning. Of course, she could never tell Amanda that. Instead, she smiled and said aloud, "You have to admit, it means more work for us."
Billy strode into the conference room and Lee shut the door behind him. Francine watched Lee. Yes, there was a definite trademark Scarecrow bounce in that step. Her heart soared. We might just get through this yet, she realized.
Billy rapped the table with his fist. "Okay, people, listen up. We all know the race is Saturday, so we don't have a lot of time. Thanks to Ernie, we picked up the two Romanian ex-secret police who entered through Logan Airport in Boston last week. We're pretty sure we know what their target was, but it wasn't the Lithuanians, so we still need to figure out what, if anything is going on there. There may be another problem. Lee, go ahead."
Lee stood up. "Some of you may remember our old friend, Dimitri Kuryakin." The Soviet agent's face flashed on the screen. "After the fiasco with Rudolph, Dimitri and Ivan were deported back to the Soviet Union. He showed up at Amanda's fundraising site, and besides depositing a $20 bill, told us one of our favorite people is planning a party." Lee clicked and the projector changed.
"Alexi Makarov…" The gaunt face of the aging Soviet agent filled the screen. "We haven't seen him since he masterminded the disruption of the Stemwinder exercises." The agents nodded. They remembered a few other things about the incident as well. "Even then, he was operating on his own. Makarov has a lot more enemies now. He's put KGB officials on the hot seat in pursuit of his own agendas and vendettas. There is not a lot for him in a Mother Russia that really wants to cooperate with the West. If he's involved in this, it is going to be bigger than just trying to push Lithuania into line."
Lee shut off the projector and signaled Fielder to turn on the lights.
"That is, unfortunately, all we've got to go on. We've no confirmed sightings of Makarov in the US. We've talked to Rostov out in 'retirement'. He's got no love for Makarov, but if he knows anything, he isn't letting us in on his secrets. Our best guess is that Dimitri's intelligence is good. We need to figure out what Makarov's got planned, fast. He likes poetry…the big statement. I don't think we are looking at the symbolic elimination of one family member to blackmail a prominent politician. I think it's bigger than that…I just wish I knew shape it would take."
Amanda said slowly, "I agree. Makarov trying to assassinate Jiera Varnaite, or anyone else on Billy's target list, to put pressure one of the Balkan republics, just doesn't feel right. He'd be more likely to try to discredit their leaders with a big scandal." She frowned. "I'm just not sure why Jiera's even running."
Francine broke in, sure of her ground. "She's a top athlete and this is a recognized race."
"I know that, Francine. But everyone I've talked to who is running…everyone…. has a personal reason for participating. Jiera has no family and no close friends with cancer. So why this race? There are marathons this summer she could run in that would get her the same athletic recognition or more, even. It doesn't make sense. There's no solid connection." Amanda looked around the room, then back at Lee. "We're missing something."
"You don't know that Makarov is in the picture," Francine protested. "We have no confirmed sightings, no contacts. There's nothing to support Dimitri's claim that Makarov's in the US."
"He was telling the truth," Amanda replied stubbornly.
Lee interrupted them. "Katrina says the Soviets don't know where he is right now, so we can't ignore the possibility that he's in the country. We'll check it out. Meanwhile, Francine, what's next for you?"
"I'm still working the premise that someone's after Jiera. We've never found out who sent the original set of messages to the Estonian KGB. I've got a one o'clock appointment at Georgetown with Mark Townsend. He's one of Jonas' roommates, the one interested in marketing and advertising. He thinks I'm from Anderson Communications; that should get him to tell me about his own research projects. I know it's grasping for straws, but we're running out of time." She shook her watch in front of him. "It's twelve-ten now, let's get out of here, " she requested impatiently.
"Leatherneck?" Lee prompted, ignoring her.
"All set for Saturday. Van ready and equipped per requirements. Radios checked. I'm good to go."
"Fred?" Lee continued down the role of agents, making sure that each was working on something that might help them figure out which terrorist group was most likely to strike which race participant. Finally, he dismissed the team, and Francine shot out of the bullpen for the elevator, muttering under her breath about obsessive behavior. Lee stopped to give Billy a short update on their progress, while Amanda waited silently at the elevator.
Amanda was still preoccupied when they reached the Q Bureau. "I really do think that we should pay attention to Dimitri," she said.
"Well, I'm willing to back your instincts," Lee answered. "We just need to find out whether Makarov's been talking to anyone. He'd identify the right people, and then put pressure on them like he did Rostov and Sonja, but where do we start?" he asked, perplexed.
"Well, if we don't figure it out, there'll be a lot of dead people." Amanda was amazingly matter-of-fact. "I think I'll go see T. P."
"Yeah," Lee responded, still thinking, "you do that. Tell him I'll check with him later in the week, when he's had time to ask around. I've got some other ideas to look up."June 14, 1990 - noon
"Bingo. Thanks, T. P. I owe you a truckload of Tutti Fruiti." Lee said happily. He'd swung around the Mall, checking the route for the race, and met up with T. P. Aquinas. While he chomped down a tuna sandwich Philip had stuffed in his hands that morning, T.P. debriefed him with the information Amanda had asked him to find out. The professor had been diligently searching the computers, the race results for the last four years, and checking all his contacts, including his source of Beluga caviar. The fishermen reported dropping off Makarov two weeks earlier during a stop in Portsmouth, Maine, and he'd taken the train to New York City.
Aquinas waved the offer aside. "I don't know that it gets you much, Lee."
"A lot, actually. Makarov works by putting pressure on known associates, even family. Look what he did to Sonja. We need to find out if he's contacted anyone, like relatives, old KGB cronies, or political associates who happen to be in the States."
"Well, you're in luck. The hot dog salesman in front of the New York Metropolitan Art Museum is a friend of mine, a good source of information. You'd be surprised at how many people meet at the Met." Aquinas laughed.
"A hotbed of intrigue. Actually, I've met a couple of contacts in the musical instruments room behind the ancient glass…. no one is ever there. So, whom was Makarov talking to?"
"Oh boy," said Lee heavily, and sat back down. Krutiov was known in intelligence circles as the 'Puppet Master' because he enjoyed manipulating people emotionally and forcing them into betraying their ideals and friendships in order to get him what he wanted. He'd tricked Martinet, the playwright, into drugging Martinet's own lover to get the Star Wars plans.
If Krutiov was in town, everything they'd done so far was suspect. The man would enjoy nothing better than to use Amanda's grief against her, and Makarov would love to help him do it.June 15, 1990 – 10:00 AM
Five kilometers. 3.106856 miles. 16,404.2 feet. It hadn't gotten any shorter.
She would run alone today while Lee talked to Leatherneck. Her mouth was already dry. Krutiov and Makarov. Even Smyth. They were puppet masters, all of them. She stretched and took her place at the starting line.
She touched her sweatband and Dotty's voice echoed in her head. "Just be sure that whoever's making decisions for you has your best interests at heart."
Lee did. He'd arrived in the Q Bureau after his meeting with T. P. full of plans to protect her. But Lee was wrong. Backing down was not an option.
She nodded, and Jim recited the countdown. The starting gun released her and she leaped down the track.
One foot in front of the other. Steady pace. Breathe. Finish the race. Be on the streets.
She'd keep her promise.
Five kilometers. 3.106856 miles. 16,404.2 feet. Twenty minutes, twenty-two seconds.
"Best time yet," Jim said, handing her the towel and water bottle. "You're ready."June 15, 1990 – 2:00 PM
"I want Amanda out of the race."
"No way, buster."
"Lee, we don't have time to set up anything else."
"Stetson, we stick with the plan."
"PEOPLE!" Billy shouted. "This is still MY office, and the last time I looked I was still Field Supervisor, unless you want to relieve me of that position," he challenged Dr. Smyth. Smyth shrugged and turned his back on them.
"Now, I understand your concern, Lee. Krutiov's got a grudge against you and Makarov's gone after you personally, but you can't assume they are coming to D.C. to attack Amanda. The intelligence on a plot for the race has been out for four months. There's no way they could have known Amanda would be running," Billy tried to assure Lee, who was standing in the middle of the room, his arms circled protectively around his glaring wife.
"Wrong. It's exactly the kind of thing Krutiov would be capable of doing…setting off the right rumors in the right channels. He'd be pretty sure that we'd respond by getting someone in the race, and whom else did we have? He's manipulating us, Billy. She needs to withdraw." He tightened his hold on Amanda.
Smyth said automatically, without turning, "No can do, Scarecrow. She's a full agent, and she volunteered for this assignment."
Billy continued, "I did run it past the scenario boys just now, Lee. And Leland down in Crypto was up all night on it…now that we have a better idea what to look for. He came up with this." He tossed a stack of green-bar computer printout paper on the table, each page neatly stamped 'Secret – Do Not Remove from Controlled Area'. "While you were going over the equipment with Leatherneck, Francine and Amanda went through it."
Francine looked apologetically at Lee. "We have to go through with the plan, Lee. You'll understand in a minute. There are the three reports, from monitored Estonian KGB channels, dating back to February 7. That's right after the Soviet Communist Party Central Committee agreed to give up its power monopoly. We think Makarov used his contacts in the KGB to put out a feeler for him, that he was looking for a partner, someone to help him balance 'this event'." She turned to include Amanda and Billy. "If we go with Lee's theory that Makarov is seeking poetic justice, then he'd want to bring down the U. S. government, cause a major disruption here. The last KGB report is the one we intercepted in March, right after the Lithuanian declaration of independence, about Jiera being the key to the 'target'." She glanced briefly at Smyth, who nodded at her to continue. "We think now the timing may have been just a coincidence. Jiera's still a link, but not because of her relationship to Landsbergis. She's the key to someone or something else."
"What about the other reports?" Lee asked.
"All since the first of June. The KGB dried up after that. Makarov must have found a way to convince Krutiov to help him. It probably didn't take much. But once they'd connected, they wouldn't need to use the KGB to contact one another. They'd set up something quieter and safer. That's why we haven't been able to catch anything, not until Makarov got here."
Amanda spoke for the first time. "Quite a few of your family know Makarov from Stemwinder, Lee." She wiggled, and he reluctantly released his hold. "They've been pretty thorough since they spotted him last Friday, but they weren't able to get word to T. P. until yesterday. Kim saw him Friday with Krutiov in Rock Creek Park. He didn't recognize Krutiov, but he got word out, and Barnstormers followed both of them most of the week.
"Where's Makarov been?"
Francine answered, "Quietly using the Georgetown University library during the day, sleeping in a hostel in Georgetown at night. Behaving like a low-level professor on unpaid sabbatical, trying to get some research done. It's a good cover if you want to wander around a college campus on a budget, and get access to a lot of information. He's been doing research in – you're going to love this – zeolite technology."
There was silence while Lee absorbed the information.
"And Krutiov?" he asked, finally.
"Posing as marketing agent. He's been talking to a lot of people…. about product endorsements contracts to students working out in Yates Field house, about the importance of testing product acceptance with a couple of students at Dooley's, about the possible commercial applications of zeolites with some chemistry types after a graduate seminar in chemistry at Reiss.
Lee swallowed. "Grad student seminar types? Anyone we know?"
Amanda said flatly, "Jiera Varnaite, Mark Townsend, Jonas Petrauskas, and Carmine Davis. But I can't believe Carmine would do anything to actually hurt anyone. I know he wouldn't, Lee."
"No…but you must admit, he has a certain reputation after that incident with the water supply."
Francine continued. "Apparently, Krutiov approached Jiera first, on Wednesday. She took him to see Mark and Jonas. They all went pub-crawling together with Carmine last night. I'm not sure what happened, but they got in a loud argument outside Dooley's about misuse of government funding for research. Carmine went off in a huff, Krutiov headed in the direction of the library, and the other three went back to the apartment the boys share. Tommy was tailing them, he couldn't go after all three, so he tried to follow Krutiov but lost him. We don't know whether Krutiov met Makarov or not."
"No…Kim had one other report. Makarov and Krutiov have been seen together once since Rock Creek."
"Not exactly. They were both on the Mall in front of the Lincoln Memorial on Tuesday when the news broke about the Russian Federation declaring its own sovereignty from the Soviet Union."
"The nail in the Soviet coffin," Lee said.
"Well, I think it was what they were waiting for to decide to put the nail in ours. Makarov was eating lunch. He took his lunch bag and tore it in half and dropped it on the steps. Krutiov came up and crumpled it into a ball and threw it in the trash."
"Tidy of him."
"Not really. The bag was from the little souvenir stand by the Washington Monument. It had an American flag on it."
"Then they really are going through with – whatever it is." He stared down at his wife, fear sharpening his perception of how slight she was, how precious. My Amanda. His grasp of her shoulders tightened possessively. "I want you out of the race, m'Amanda."
"Lee, I have to run," she said quietly.
"You don't know what they are going to do. You could get killed. You can still drop out of the race, you can refuse the assignment." He glanced at Dr. Smyth, who hadn't moved. "You can resign if you have to."
"Or take medical down check." The suggestion, surprisingly, came from Dr. Smyth. "Do you have any medical reason to forego this assignment, Mrs. Stetson?"
"I'm perfectly capable of carrying out my assignment, sir," Amanda replied tartly. "Lee, I'm going to run." She repeated, then softly, for him alone to hear, "We promised Mother we'd be out on the streets."
He shut up.
"Francine, get the team in the conference room, we'll re-brief everyone. Ten minutes," Billy said.
"Yes, sir." She collected the classified material and left.
"Lee, I'm sorry; it has to be this way." Billy apologized.
"You didn't make the bad guys, Billy." Lee steered Amanda out of Billy's office. Smyth waited until the door shut with an audible click.
"Office clean?" he asked.
"Swept this morning," Billy replied. "Internal Affairs' standard 10 A. M. Friday morning drill."
"Good, because this is for your ears only and is not to leave this office or be repeated under any circumstances."
"You were right," Smyth said simply. "Six years ago. You suggested a new hire. I opposed it. You were right."
He opened the door and walked out, leaving Billy open-mouthed behind his desk.
"Well, I'll be damned," Billy said, and reached for the bottle of Tums.June 15, 1990 9:00PM
"Bedtime!" Amanda yelled. "Pack it up. Everyone has to be up early tomorrow. Your dad'll be here at 6 A. M. sharp."
For once, neither boy grumbled. Lee had gotten Joe, Carrie, and the boys tickets to the stands near the Smithsonian, where they could cheer Amanda along as she passed. They were disappointed that it wasn't right on the finish line, but Lee had pointed out the finish line viewing area had been reserved for the race officials, the press, the race sponsors, and their necessary security teams, and that list didn't include the sons of every participant, so they resigned themselves to the mere notoriety of being actually present at the race, along with about thirty thousand other people.
The brothers thundered up the stairs, jostled for position in the bathroom while they washed faces and brushed teeth, and then separated. "Good night, Lee! Good night, Mom!" floated back down the stairs. Amanda shook her head and went up to collect her good night kiss.
Lee stood in the family room, turning a jelly jar filled with nickels and dimes and quarters and tied round the middle with a wide pink ribbon. Jamie had brought it home from school that afternoon, bursting with pride. "Thirty-seven dollars and fifty-seven cents," he'd announced triumphantly. It had been on his desk at school for a month, locked in the teacher's desk at night for safety. He'd never mentioned it, wanting to surprise his mother. Lee set it down, and picked up the shoebox Philip had decorated. It held every one of the twenty-one dollars he'd earned mowing lawns all spring.
"Wow," Lee said, putting the box down as Amanda returned.
"Wow is right. I'm so proud of them."
"And I'm proud of you," Lee pulled her into his arms. His voice was muffled in her hair. "I'm sorry about today."
"Hmm?" Amanda murmured. Lee's hand was doing that thing just below her left ear again.
"But you didn't get it right," Lee said.
Amanda pulled away and looked up at him.
He smiled down at her. "We promised we'd both be out on the streets, making the world safer for Jamie and Philip, together."
"Together," Amanda agreed. "You watch my back and I watch yours."
Lee's eyes narrowed and darkened. "Actually, I had a more comprehensive observation plan in mind…"
"Race you up the stairs!"
He let her run ahead of him, stopping to turn out the lights and check the doors and windows. He flipped the porch light twice, so that the Agency team in the van across the street would know everything was okay so far. In a final, private meeting with Smyth, Lee had pointed out that Krutiov and Makarov were quite capable of putting together a plan to wipe out the United States Government, generally, and Amanda King Stetson, specifically. Somewhat to his surprise, Smyth had not only agreed, but even reported that he had already instructed Billy to put a team on Amanda and her sons. He did not want Lee distracted from the larger problem, which would be equally personal to those involved if Krutiov and Makarov were successful.
For a moment, Smyth had seemed almost human. But right now, Lee had some basic domestic surveillance of his own to do. He whistled all the way up the stairs, pausing only to check the boys and, as had become his habit, touch his fingers lightly to each of the two portraits that now hung between their doors.
Across the river in Georgetown, in his superior's office, Billy fumed, "You are using those boys as bait. That's wrong. Lee and Amanda have a right to know."
"Billy, relax." Smyth's amusement was infuriating. He said in his usual sardonic tone, "Would you feel better if I reassigned that babysitter team of yours to somebody else? No? I need Stetson and his housewife on the job, instincts honed. You will not mention this," he flipped through a report from the Cryptanalysis department that Lee had not seen, "to either of them. Do you understand?" The Agency director looked steadily at his Section Chief.
Billy glared back, but he could count as well as Smyth, and he got the same answer. "Yes," he agreed reluctantly.
He hated this job.
Dr. Smyth tossed Crypto's analysis on top of the staff medical reports McJohn had sent him that morning. He said almost idly as he sat back down at his desk, "I'll think I'll watch the race myself." His eyes narrowed as he looked at Billy. "Probably from those stands near the Smithsonian," and there was no sarcasm, just cold purpose in his tone.
Billy was suddenly, oddly reassured.June 16, 1990 6:30 am -- The day of the race
They parked at the IFF lot and Amanda took the Metro downtown. Lee reluctantly watched her head down the street without him, turn the corner, and vanish into the station. Across the street, Fred Fielder nonchalantly emerged from the coffee shop, checked his watch, and sauntered after Amanda. If she followed instructions, she should linger by the ticket dispenser for a few minutes. Fred would spot her as soon as he entered the station, and after that not let her out of his sight.
Lee opened the trunk of the Corvette, pulled out the equipment he'd prepared, and slammed the trunk shut. He crossed the parking lot to where Francine and Leatherneck were conferring about the best route to the Mall. They had commandeered a D.C. Medic One ambulance and made sure all the paper work assigned this van as close to the finish line as possible. Most of his team was crammed inside, with their listening gear stacked on one of the gurneys. It wasn't a bad cover, and besides, they would have medical equipment ready if it became necessary, and Dr. McJohn as well.
Francine was waiting as Lee neared the ambulance, and handed him his Medical Team vest. He struggled to put it on one-handed.
"What's that?" she asked, pointing to the yellow blossoms clutched in his other hand.
"Olympic Gold roses. I wasn't sure if they were going to bloom in time, but these opened this morning." He showed her the two blossoms. "They're for Amanda, for when she finishes."
"Well, they won't last two hours in this heat. You'd better put them in water."
"They'll have plenty at the race. Let's go."
He climbed in beside Leatherneck and the medical van pulled out of the lot.
Aided by the D.C. police, their hard-to-get official event identification, and their justifiably nearly-impossible-to-get identification as adjunct to the FBI and Secret Service, they managed to maneuver the van through the crowds around the Mall and into the reserved stall waiting for them by the finish line.
Lee climbed out and looked with approval on their location. The tables behind which the Vice President's wife and the other government officials would stand for the awards ceremonies were set up directly across the street. They'd be able to keep the entire area under surveillance.
Francine joined him, and they crossed the street.
An FBI agent moved to block them before they could step up onto the curb. He took Lee's proffered badge, read both sides and handed it back, and stepped back wordlessly.
They took two steps forward and were stopped again. This time, a Secret Service agent reviewed Lee's credentials carefully, sniffed the card, and ran his fingers around the edges. Apparently satisfied, he handed it back to Lee. "We've been instructed to give you full cooperation," he said. "Everything's in order."
"You don't mind if we check again?"
"No, sir. I don't think you'll find anything, but better safe than sorry."
"Who set up the tables and did the decorations?" Francine asked.
"Off duty White House staff. They contributed their time and the decorations. It made good sense – no security issues for us. They've all been checked out thoroughly for their regular jobs. What's more, we know all of them by sight."
"Of course. Who was in charge?"
"The White House Social Secretary. She's over there…. I'll be happy to introduce you…." Francine moved off with the Secret Service guard.
Lee examined the tables under the unblinking eyes of the FBI agent, who remained at his post. The central table had a podium from which the dignitaries would make speeches and present awards. A technician fiddled with the microphones under the watchful eyes of an FBI agent. Two race officials approached with boxes. The same FBI agent who had first blocked Lee's admission to the area stopped them and made them open the boxes up. After poking and prodding their contents, the FBI agent finally allowed the officials to bear their booty to the central table.
Lee checked the other tables. Each was covered with a white paper tablecloth held down by vases of pink roses. At each end were stacks of plastic cups and pitchers of water to see the dignitaries through their speeches. The tables and chairs were standard Samsonite issue. There was no one hiding under the tables. There was nothing hidden under the tables.
He was standing in the middle of the area, checking the surrounding buildings for snipers and bazooka-launchers and aliens with blow dart guns when Francine returned.
"Lee, there's nothing here. Everything checks." She looked at her watch. "We'd better get in position. They're starting. Don't forget about your roses."
He grabbed a cup from the nearest table and filled it with water. "Anything?"
"No. It's all clean. All the supplies came from known sources. All the equipment was set up by long-term staff with impeccable recommendations. And no one could get in here now without three kinds of ID and a personal voucher."
They reached the ambulance. He stuck the roses for Amanda in the cup and set it on the floor of the passenger seat where it would be out of the way and at least in the shade. It was already too warm.
He stood on the running step to get more height. Somewhere on the other side of the Capitol Steps was Amanda, turning in her paperwork, showing her race ID, getting her number. He couldn't see her in the crowd. Leatherneck leaned out the double doors at the back of the ambulance. "Lee, Beaman's got her from Mobile One. We've got contact with Billy in Georgetown. We'd better get going, buddy. Final communications check."
Lee climbed in. From now on, his link with Amanda would depend on the three vans set up around the race perimeter, the Agency team members planted in the crowd, and the wire Leatherneck had put in her sports bra. He listened as Leatherneck verified contact with Mobile Units One, Two, and Three, and the Georgetown offices where Billy sat, probably eating Tums by the bottle.
"Testing. One, two, three. I'm number 2947." It was Amanda's voice, mixed with crowd noises and distorted by static, but unmistakable. Lee sighed with relief.
Amanda flashed her best friendly, stupid smile to the woman next to her. "Hi. I'm practicing. You know. For the interviews when I win." The woman gave her an odd look and moved off. "I knew this talking to my underwear was a bad idea," Amanda told her left shoulder, and then had to give another stupid smile to a different woman. The smile became genuinely encouraging when she saw the woman was wearing the pink ribbon that the Komen Foundation was handing out for the first time to participants who were survivors.
"Good luck," she said sincerely. She slipped forward between other racers, trying to reach her assigned position for the race start.
Loudspeakers screeched. Race officials made announcements that were blurred into incoherence. She found her place and tried to stretch. Someone was making a speech Amanda couldn't hear. There was a shift in the crowd, then a brief silence, then suddenly, with startling clarity, the countdown.
Three months of training and her reflexes took over. She was striding head up, passing some runners, being passed by others. The main body of runners was behind her but still packed and jostling for position. She spotted Jiera. The Lithuanian runner was in a blue and white sleeveless top, blue shorts, blue headband, and was easy to recognize. Now, all she had to do was keep up.
Five kilometers. 3.106856 miles. 16,404.2 feet. Steady pace. Two minutes.
Someone was passing on her left side, coming up behind Jiera. Amanda couldn't turn to look without losing a step, but she'd been practicing talking as she ran.
"Number 7879," she gasped at her shoulder. "Blond, my height, at my 2 o'clock. Familiar... "
In the Mobile One van, Beaman swung his cameras around until he found Amanda in the crowd and patched the close-circuit TV relay to the ambulance on the far side of the Mall. Ernie glanced at it, and began punching the computer display of his mug shot files.
"Got her," he said with satisfaction. "Ilsa Nikovitchnov, KGB Estonian office."
Francine checked her notes. "She was transferred in March to the Soviet embassy. No prior deployment in the US, but she's raced before in Europe."
"Mobile One, move in," Lee ordered.
Amanda ran on. She could not assume that her report had gotten through. Number 7879 continued to gain on Jiera, and Amanda increased her own pace to keep up. She was aware of her feet thudding on the ground, her breath drying out. There was a stir in the crowd ahead. Most people were craning their necks to keep track of the lead runners, but she could see two race officials and another man pushing their way through to the street. She realized with a shock that she was even with the Smithsonian, that Jamie and Philip were somewhere in the crowd, watching.
Number 7879 was now running just behind Jiera. Amanda saw the redhead reach out, slap Jiera her bare shoulder, pull back a bit. An incongruous red dot sat on Jiera's shoulder.
"Jiera compromised," she shouted into her shoulder, but the wind took her breath away. She surged forward, reached out, pulled the small patch from Jiera's shoulder, and shoved it into the plastic-lined pocket of her shirt. Thank God for Leatherneck. She hoped whatever was on it had not had time to work on Jiera, or, come to think of it, on her own fingers. She squashed the compulsion to lick them clean.
The crowd of spectators just ahead of her broke open, and two race officials in dark shirts leaned out into the street, signaled Number 7879 to pull out of the race, and everyone else to keep moving. Resigned, the woman slowed down, stopped, and the officials grabbed her by her arms and pulled her into the crowd. Amanda caught a glimpse of Beaman's face next to them. He gave her a thumbs' up as she passed.
Jiera was still running, oblivious of the incident. She'd pulled further ahead. Amanda sprinted to catch up. They flew past the two-kilometer marker.
Five kilometers. 3.106856 miles. 16,404.2 feet. Keep Jiera in range. Steady pace. Breathe. Seven minutes.June 16, 1990 – Seven minutes into the Race
"Didya see that?" Philip asked Jamie. "That red-haired lady tried to put something on the blue runner and Mom got it off. What if she's a spy?" In his excitement, he spoke more loudly than he meant to.
"What?" Carrie looked puzzled. Joe, annoyed, shushed them and turned back to the race.
"Yeah, quiet! Mom's making good time. Seven minutes." Jamie said, consulting his stopwatch. "C'mon. Let's see if we can get round to meet her after she finishes!" He clipped the lens cap back on his camera.
"Boys…stay here…." Joe called them back, but they had pushed their way out of the stand and were running up the street behind the crowds. He shrugged at Carrie. "Teenagers," he said, by way of explanation. "They know if we get separated by the crowds that they should meet us at the foot of the Washington Monument after the race so we can take the Metro home. They'll be okay." He turned back to the race, trying to spot Amanda.
"You want to get Lee mad at us?" Jamie panted as they ran. "You nearly blew it. Carrie's not s'posed to know, and Dad's not s'posed to know that you know." He slowed down to a trot. "I can't run any more."
"It's all right. We have to go back around anyway. They've got this section blocked off." They slowed to a dogtrot and turned to go around the back of the Air and Space Museum. A man in a long raincoat sat on the transit bench reading a map. When he stood as they approached, they saw that he was old and sick, the raincoat dirty and tattered. Philip slowed down further, and begain to walk. Despite the crowds a half block away, it seemed deserted here. No one was looking their way. The boys exchanged uneasy glances.
The wind pulled the map out of the man's hand.
"Here, I can get that for you." Too polite, too well trained to simply ignore the man, Philip bent and picked up the map and handed it back.
The man reached out, and his fingers closed, not on the map, but cruelly tight around Philip's wrist. "I think you should come with me," the man hissed. "You too," he said, looking at Jamie, "if you don't want your brother to get hurt. He plays ball, no? Pity to have his arm broken… He would not be able to pitch the ball." He twisted Philip's arm suddenly and Philip gasped. "Oh…don't cry out," he cautioned, as Jamie scanned the crowds. "No one will hear you, anyway. I've taken care of your watchdog. I can hurt this one a lot, right here." He jerked Philip again. "So move." He shoved Philip ahead of him, back toward the Smithsonian Metro station, and Jamie trailed behind.
No one followed. They were on their own.
They marched down the steps. Jamie tried to remember Lee's instructions from one of the training sessions at the gym. "In a hostage situation, a conscious hostage is responsible for the diversion. If you're free, you wait for the opportunity, but the hostage has to create it." He hoped Philip remembered. He watched Philip's free hand clench, and then signal a fastball. Their 'be ready' signal. Jamie got ready.
Their captor shoved Philip toward the platform. Philip let himself be overbalanced and fell, sudden dead weight against the man who held him. The sick man stumbled.
Any pity Jamie might have felt for the sick man had evaporated with Philip's yelp. He kicked the man as hard as he could in the back of one bent knee and shoved, forcing the man down. The man let go of Philip's wrist, thrusting his hands out to break his own fall. Philip rolled away, then onto his knees in the move Lee had made him practice over and over. Jamie grabbed his brother's hand and pulled him to his feet. Together, hand in hand, they turned to run, only to find their way effectively barred by three men in dark suits and ties, one crowned with the palest blond hair they had ever seen. They shrank back.
Two of the men stepped past them. Grabbing their kidnapper roughly and pulling him to his feet, they turned him to face the blond man.
"You!" The man in the flapping coat looked astonished.
"Yankee Doodle in the flesh, Makarov. Surprised to see me?"
The man called Makarov shook his head as if to clear it, and his guards tightened their grasp. "Scarecrow would never have asked you for help," he protested.
"No, come to think of it, I don't believe that he did." The blond man seemed unperturbed. "I did this all by myself." He waved vaguely around.
Makarov started to laugh, nodding in delight. "Then I do not matter. Krutiov's got Scarecrow's number: Stetson is still the loner. He will not have enough eyes to see."
"One, two, buckle my shoe. Krutiov's got old data. If you think Stetson's number is 'one', you're wrong. The number's 'two' now."
"The housewife?" Makarov sarcastically dismissed Scarecrow's partner. "Krutiov had her watched this winter. She does not even visit her mother's grave. He chose this event for his purge, because he knew the Agency would have to assign Scarecrow to such a case, but she would not be able to help. Krutiov has split them up. She wasn't with your oh-so-obvious team this morning when they set up this morning," he finished triumphantly.
Their rescuer said nothing, but Philip, who was holding his bruised arm close to his side, had followed enough of the conversation to realize that Makarov was talking about his mother. He rushed to her defense, blurting out, "That's because she's running! She's been training for months."
"No!" Makarov cried out. "Krutiov said she could not handle this. You are wrong!"
"He's not," the blond man confirmed Philip's claim. He turned to study Philip and Jamie intently, and then turned back to Makarov with a smile that did not reach the narrowed blue eyes. "But possibly I was. It seems Scarecrow's number should be 'four'." The smile faded as two more men, one of them disheveled and sporting a black eye, and a woman approached, guns drawn. "Three, four, knock at the door."
The blond man whipped out to the new arrivals, "Stand down. Our friend here is trespassing on United States territory. Take him back to the Agency and hold him for interrogation. Carlson, have Dr. Mitchell check that eye when you get there."
"Yes, sir." The phalanx of dark suits closed ranks and escorted Makarov out of the station.
Jamie and Philip waited, uncertain.
"Would you like to see the end of the race, boys?" The blond man asked conversationally, taking out a cigarette and fitting it into a long stemmed holder.
Jamie looked at Philip for guidance. "Uh, we aren't supposed to go with strangers," Philip said apologetically.
"Very wise," the man assured them. "Austin Smyth, at your service." At their suddenly polite faces, Smyth seemed genuinely amused. He reached slowly into his coat pocked and extracted a gold card case. Taking out a business card embossed with the IFF logo, he silently handed it to Philip.
International Federated Film."
Philip turned the card over. On the back in Lee's sloping handwriting were the words, "Zulu Blue. It's okay, Chief."
Philip showed it to Jamie, then put the card in his pocket. "We're supposed to do what you say."
"Can we really go watch Mom cross the finish line?" Jamie wanted to know. "Lee said he couldn't get passes."
"I think I can manage to get us in," said the Presidentially-appointed head of the Agency diffidently. "But we'd better hurry. I understand her best time is now less than twenty-one minutes. This way."
They ran back up the stairs.June 16, 1990 – Twenty minutes into the Race
The winners had already crossed the finish line into the holding area, completing the race in less than 16 minutes. Austin Smyth stopped briefly to speak the FBI agent at the back of the enclosure. The agent did not ask the Directory of the Agency for any identification, but waved him through. He ushered his guests into the back of the race officials' box and motioned them to be quiet. They nodded enthusiastically. There was no way they were going to mess up now. Philip dug his elbow into Jamie's side and nodded toward the Vice President's wife, not fifty feet away on the other side of the lane through which the finishing runners sprinted. Jamie nodded the other way, toward the oncoming runners. There was the woman all in blue, and right behind her, their mother. Jamie raised his camera and clicked away.
Five kilometers. 3.106856 miles. 16,404.2 feet. Twenty minutes, seventeen seconds.
In the officials' stand, Philip cheered and pounded Jamie on the back. "Personal best!" he whooped. Dr. Smyth smiled indulgently at them.
Amanda heard them call her time as she crossed the finish line, but she still had work to do. She slowed down and trotted over to Jiera and touched the girl's shoulder to get her attention.
"You don't know me, but you need to see a doctor. The woman they pulled from the race tried to do something to you."
"What woman?" Jiera looked confused.
"You didn't notice? She hit you, three minutes into the race."
Jiera shook her head. "When I run, I only think about running. That is the way to win."
"Well, she put this patch on you and I think you better find out what it was. The Medic One van is this way."
They tried to push their way through the crowd of jabbering finishers. Some were walking to cool down, some stretching, but most had turned to encourage those who hadn't yet finished, packing in along the barriers near the finish line. Amanda stopped, stymied by the milling women. Jiera swayed suddenly, and Amanda stumbled as she caught the Lithuanian racer.
"Got you," said a voice in her ear, and she felt Lee's arms close around her, bracing her against the dead weight. Dr. McJohn and Leatherneck pushed past them and took Jiera out of her arms. Lee didn't let her go. "You okay?"
"I think so. But number 7879 did something to Jiera. I've got the patch."
"We'll get you both checked out." McJohn was checking Jiera's vital signs. He nodded to Leatherneck. "We need to get her back to the ambulance, stat," he said.
"Medical emergency!" Leatherneck shouted. He formed a rescue chair by clamping his hands over McJohn's wrists, and they lifted the barely conscious Lithuanian runner. "Make way!"
The crowd parted, murmuring concern, and let them through. "Hydrate! Did she fall? Who was that?" The speculation faded behind them.
"Here's the patch." Amanda pulled the pocket open so that Dr. McJohn could take it with gloved hands. He dropped it in a test tube and handed it off to an Agency courier, who immediately spun around and ran from the area. "We'll need the lab to do a complete analysis," he explained. He turned his attention to Jiera, now conscious on the Medic One gurney, checking her vitals. He showed her his identification, explained what they were doing, and why, and she nodded soberly when he asked if he could take a blood sample. He jabbed her finger, took a drop of blood with a pipette, and slid it into a test tube. Her black eyes watched, frightened, while he calibrated the spectrometer.
Francine appeared at Amanda's side. "Hydrate," she said abruptly, and handed Amanda a plastic cup filled with water. Amanda drank it all. "Where's Lee?" she asked. "Debriefing Dr. Smyth," Francine replied. "I gather Makarov's been caught, but that's all I know. Lee wanted status." They waited, watching McJohn's face as he studied the readouts on the spectroscope screen.
After a moment, McJohn sighed with relief.
"At least it isn't any of the quick acting poisons we know how to detect. In fact, it just looks like dehydration right now. They may have been counting on whatever's on here to work quickly if she was sweaty and active, but even so, a patch that small would take a couple of minutes to give her an effective dose."
"We've notified the Lithuanian consulate," Leatherneck climbed out of the ambulance. He said kindly to Jiera. "If there's anyone else you want to contact, we can phone 'em from here." He got Jonas' phone number from her, and went back to make the call. A minute later he stuck his head out. "Got him on his mobile phone. He'll be here any second; he was just in the crowd a block away."
McJohn finished with Jiera. "Okay, Amanda, your turn. Show me your hands, first."
She obediently spread her fingers so he could see whether her brief contact with the patch had done any damage. Lee returned, oddly quiet, and held on to her other hand tightly while McJohn poked and prodded cheerfully for several minutes. Out of the corner of her eye, Amanda watched a harried Jonas arrive and speak to Jiera. McJohn finished his examination, and said, "You're fine. I'll want full analysis of your blood samples to make sure, but I don't think there was any exposure."
Amanda turned around in her husband's arms. "Lee, is everything okay?"
"Yes, and no. I'll tell you later…they caught Makarov over by the Smithsonian."
"The boys…" Amanda's heart was suddenly in her throat.
"…are fine. I've seen them. They're actually over there, watching the finish of the race." His voice changed from strained to chagrined.
"But…well, here." He let go and reached behind her. "I wanted to give these to you ... I picked them this morning. I'm sorry, Amanda, I guess it really was too hot in the van." The Olympic Gold roses were now a wad of wilted petals and sagging stems. She took the cup from him.
"Oh, Lee," she started to laugh. "It's really all right…." Her voice trailed off. "You picked these this morning?"
"Lee, even if they wilted, they wouldn't look like this. Where'd you get the water?"
"Across the street."
"Like this?" She lifted the cup Francine had given her.
"Yes," he said, suddenly pale.
"Stop it, Lee! I feel fine. Francine, where'd the water come from?"
"Bottle source, White House suppliers. The Secret Service checked the invoices and the serial numbers on the bottles. No substitutions."
"Then it isn't the water." Amanda studied the two cups in her hands.
"These aren't the same." At their stares, she continued impatiently, "You buy picnic supplies and you check the cups because a couple of brands aren't very good and the cups split and who wants punch from a split cup all over the picnic blanket on the fourth of July? There are good cups and bad cups and the bad cups split more easily and are usually thinner and taller and more likely to fall over and you know how easy that is on grass…." She finally took a breath.
"Amandarambles," said Francine, with mock disgust, shaking her head. Leatherneck chuckled. Lee was grinning from ear to ear.
Amanda looked at them defiantly. "I know my picnic cups," she reiterated. "This is a good cup." She held up the one Francine had given her. "And this," she held up the wretched roses, "I've never seen a cup like this for sale."
"That's because they are not for sale yet." Jonas joined the conversation. "This is a new special kind of cup that Carmine and I made. The bottom has zeolites. You know what those are?" They nodded. "Then you know the zeolites can pull the minerals that make things taste bad from the water. We wanted to see how they work. We made a gross, a dozen dozens, for testing. Jiera knew this man who can help with a product trial, you know, find out whether consumers will like them."
"You gave the cups to someone to be tested?"
"Yes. We thought this race would be a good chance. Everyone would drink the same water. Very controlled experiment. We would interview people afterward, to see if they noticed any difference. Jiera's friend had a plan. He knew someone who would be able to make the substitution. They took two bags, emptied the regular cups out, put all of our cups in. No one would notice the difference and we would get honest opinions from very prominent people. Good advertising."
"Carmine said something about the zeolites leaking when it gets hot," Lee mentioned.
"Yes, he was worried about that. We had an argument. He said we were not ready for the product test."
Lee stood up. "We've got to get those cups. Amanda, can you tell which are which?"
"Yes. They feel wrong."
Francine was hefting a cup in each hand. "Just like glass and crystal," she said. "Got it."
"Let's go." Lee pulled Amanda with him, and Francine and Dr. Smyth followed them across the street, to flip open their badges yet again for inspection, and to quietly, efficiently, and without incident, remove one hundred and forty-three innocuous-looking cups containing fast acting poison imprisoned in zeolites, from the tables at which the Vice President of the United States, his wife, a former First Lady, a Supreme Court Justice, and the rest of their illustrious guests, domestic and foreign, were gathering to honor every race participant, from the winner down to the last person to cross the finish line in her wheelchair.June 16, 1990 –60 Minutes into the Race
"Philip." Jamie stopped taking pictures of the officials and the crowds and let the camera swing on its neck strap.
"What?" Philip was staring across the road, trying to figure out what his parents were doing with the blond man.
"What's going on?"
"I dunno…looks like they are just helping to set the table. There isn't any spy stuff in that." He turned back to Jamie. All the racers had finished, and there was no one left to watch come in.
"How much trouble are we in? Lee looked pretty sick when that Dr. Smyth told him about Makarov trying to kidnap us."
"I don't think we are in any trouble."
"Well, in case we are, I know how to get us out of it."
"Look over there, by the TV cameras. I know that man…remember that cool play Mom and Lee were in? He was there…I think he ruined the play. Mom said he changed the lines."
"You're right. And you know what we're going to do?"
No one noticed as they snuck out of the race officials' box where Dr. Smyth had left them.June 16, 1990 – 90 Minutes into the Race
"They weren't in the race officials' area," Amanda panted as they ran around the enclosure. Lee gestured toward the Smithsonian Metro station.
"They probably met Joe already," Lee's voice was even, but he was white despite his tan. Joe wasn't answering his house phone, so he was still out somewhere. They headed back toward the Medic One ambulance.
"Lee, what really happened with Makarov?"
Lee pulled her out of the flow of pedestrians and official vehicles streaming away from the Mall. He stopped at the back of the ambulance and told her as simply as possible what Dr. Smyth had told him. There was a flash of pride as he recounted how Jamie and Philip had knocked down their abductor.
Amanda discounted it. "And now we can't find them again? Lee, Krutiov is still out there!"
Before Lee could answer, the door of the ambulance swung open.
"Amanda, Scarecrow, you gotta come see this," Leatherneck invited.
"Leatherneck, my boys are missing." Amanda's voice was anguished.
"No, they aren't," he said soothingly. "They're right here." He stepped back so that they could see Jamie and Philip huddled in front of the computer screen with Ernie.
"There," Jamie pointed at the screen. "That's the same one."
"Very good, Jamie. Now take a look at this." A face flashed on Ernie's screen. "Paul Barnes. He's actually one of ours. Six seconds… Now, see if you can find him in the Dulles surveillance tapes." A movie replaced the face. Jamie muttered to himself, then suddenly shouted, "There, back it up."
"Hey, Amanda, this boy of yours is pretty good," Ernie called out cheerfully.
"What about Krutiov? Do we have any leads? He's going to be pretty pi…uh, upset when he realizes that his great assassination attempt failed," Lee asked.
"He's going to be even more upset if he finds out who fingered him. Beaman and Fielder picked him up five minutes ago. Billy's taking over now…they're on their way back to Georgetown. Smyth's left, too. We're just wrapping up."
"What happened?" Amanda collapsed with relief on the gurney. McJohn would have sent Jiera to Galilee or Parker General for observation, she supposed, at least until they determined the contents of the patch.
"Jamie and Philip recognized Krutiov in the crowd from that performance of the Tony Martinet play that you were in, Amanda. They'd been watching where you went after you finished the race, so they came straight here. We got the cameras on Krutiov before he could cross the street, then just kept track of him. When it looked like he was headed toward the Mobile One unit, they took over and picked him up. Piece of cake."
"So it's over," Lee said wonderingly, sitting down next to his wife.
"Except for the debriefings, reports, hearings, investigations…." Francine quipped. Looking at Amanda's face, she relented, "Yeah, it's over. By the way, Amanda, Philip left a message on his father's answering machine that the boys were with you."
Amanda nodded. She hadn't wanted to leave any messages until she knew something, either that the boys were really missing, or safe with their father, or back where they belonged, with her and Lee. She'd probably hear about the boys' immaturity and thoughtlessness from Joe later, but it didn't matter. She knew better and so did Lee. She wondered briefly if Joe ever would.
Leatherneck climbed into the driver's seat. He leaned around the divider as he started the engine. "Congratulations on your race time, Amanda. Your mother would have been real proud, I'm sure."
"Thanks, Leatherneck," she choked out. Lee settled next to her and pulled her to him. Secure in the crook of his arm, she turned to study at him. There were worry lines around his eyes that hadn't been there a year ago, and smile lines near his mouth that were etched in now, and never quite smoothed out. He had whisker fuzz and his hazel eyes were tired, but he was staring at their sons, and his face was full of pride.
Lee felt her snuggle against him, and tightened his hold on her, pulling her closer, waiting for her to stiffen slightly as he hit the wall that marked her personal space, but it was gone. She hugged him back tightly, put her head on his shoulder, and relaxed completely. He leaned back against the ambulance wall, content. Francine joined Leatherneck in the front, and the van began to move. Ernie and the boys continued to play their game as the ambulance threaded its way out of the race crowds and headed back toward Georgetown.
Long before they reached the Agency, Lee and Amanda were both asleep.June 16, 1990 1pm – Debriefing
"Amanda…wake up." Leatherneck reluctantly shook Amanda's shoulder to get her attention, knowing that waking Lee suddenly could be hazardous to his own health. Amanda stirred and snuggled closer to Lee, who opened one lazy eye and regarded Leatherneck balefully.
"Sorry, Scarecrow. We're here. Billy and Smyth need to debrief you and the boys."
That got their attention. Amanda pulled out of Lee's embrace, realized the boys were already gone, and climbed out of the ambulance. Francine caught her arm as she headed toward the stairs that led to the complex of rooms used to debrief civilians.
"No need to hurry. Smyth's already taken the boys upstairs for their debriefing. You might as well get cleaned up. He won't let you interfere and you know it."
Lee nodded for her to go ahead, and she left for the women's showers, miffed but knowing the boys were safe. Lee followed her in the building and headed for Debriefing. The security guard looked up from the procedures he was reading and said before Lee could ask, "They're in Room 6, sir." Lee slipped into the analyst's observation room where he could watch the interrogation through the one-way mirror, and stop it if it got too intense for either boy.
A tell-tale spiral of smoke marked Dr. Smyth's position in the front row of seats. "Sit, Stetson, and don't get any ideas about interrupting the proceedings, or I'll have you escorted downstairs."
Lee sat, fuming but silent.
He knew the interrogators, Mason and Detweiler, slightly. Their job was to extract every detail for posterity, and the arraignments and trials that would inevitably follow in an assault case like this one. With a recalcitrant witness, they could be stern, sarcastic, threatening. At the moment, they seemed to be having a hard time keeping from laughing at the torrent of words spilling out of his stepsons, who recounted their adventures with gusto and required little prompting. They described watching their mother remove something from "the blue runner's back," and then stopped and looked at each other with the conspiratorial expression Lee had learned to recognize. They were calculating just how much to tell, and the best way to tell it to stay out of trouble.
"Then we decided to, uh, go see Mom cross the finish line, so we left Dad and Carrie in the stands," Philip summarized.
"And your father was okay with this?"
Again that look. They knew Joe would be upset with the inconvenience of having to hunt them down after the race. Lee was a bit upset himself, for different reasons, but his annoyance changed to concern as the boys described meeting Makarov behind the Air and Space Museum, and being forced into the Metro Station. Jamie was frightened now in a way that he hadn't been during the ambulance ride back to the Agency. Mason was unexpectedly gentle.
"It's okay, guys. You're safe here." When they looked less than convinced, Detweiler added, "Lee Stetson will take us apart limb from limb if we let anything happen to you." He was rewarded by a weak grin from Jamie.
"Let's take a break. You're doing fine," Mason reassured Jamie. "Would you like a drink?"
Jamie nodded, and Detweiler left the room.
"When can we see Mom and Lee?" asked Philip.
"Your mom's getting a shower and changed and the Doc is probably checking her over. Lee's waiting in line for his debriefing. So the sooner we finish with you, the sooner we can start grilling him," Mason said with relish.
"What about my camera?" Jamie asked anxiously. "Dr. Smyth took it when we got here."
"I don't know about that, but I'm sure you'll get it back. If you took pictures of the crowds, the team will want to look at them for evidence," Mason answered.
Detweiler returned. He handed each boy a can of soda, and resumed his seat. "Now, Jamie," he said, easily, "go ahead. What happened after Makarov took you into the Station?"
Jamie explained about their signals, about Makarov stumbling, and about kicking the man as he fell. He looked apprehensively from one adult to the other.
"I'm not in trouble, am I? I know he was old and sick and all, but he was hurting Philip!"
Mason responded without hesitation. "No, Jamie, it's okay. You did what you had to do to get Philip away. You're quite a team. Where'd you learn to do that?"
Philip explained about the gym lessons Lee had given them, and Jamie seemed to relax. Mason took him back over their escape again, checking details.
"…and then Dr. Smyth came and we went back to watch Mom finish the race." Jamie rattled in one breath. He seemed to have recovered. With a little more prodding, Mason got them to recount how they spotted Krutiov.
"Why did you go to the ambulance?"
"Well, Lee went that way after Dr. Smyth told him about Makarov, so we thought it was a meeting place, you know, for the agents for whatever was going on. And we didn't want to get Lee more upset."
"You were afraid Stetson was mad at you?" Mason asked. He had stopped taking notes; this was definitely off the record. The entire agency was curious about the infamous Scarecrow's ability to play father to his stepsons.
In the observation room, Lee stood, but Smyth's warning "Stetson!" sent him back to his seat.
"No, not mad. Worse. Like last summer." Jamie paled, remembering. The look passed again between the brothers. "Something bad happened last summer, just before school got out. We never figured it out, but Grandma knew. She said not to ask and to behave ourselves and stay close, so we did. Lee looked like he had then, you know, scared. And he's never scared. So we figured we'd better stay close again. Lee and Mom were across the street, and we didn't think the security people let us go over there without Dr. Smyth, so we went to the ambulance Lee had gone to."
"How did you get Leatherneck and the team to believe you?"
"Oh, that was easy. We showed them the card." Philip fished Lee's dog-eared business card out of his pocket and fingered the lettering on the back. "Zulu Blue. You're supposed to respond without question, right? That man, Ernie, looked where we told him and," he hunted for the term Ernie had used, "confirmed that it was Krutiov-something and they all got excited and followed him on the camera and called in those other agents. We got to watch them. And that was that." He sat back, exhausted.
"Okay, boys, we're done. We'll take you back upstairs and get you some real food to eat. I think Leatherneck has offered to stay with you until your mom is done with her debriefing." The brothers followed Mason out, eager to see their new friend. Detweiler turned and looked at the men behind the mirror.
"I think we got everything, sir. Should be enough for the psych evaluations, too."
The lights in the observation room brightened, and Lee realized that Smyth was not alone; Dr. Pfaff was seated next to him.
"Well?" Smyth said, looking at Pfaff.
Pfaff turned to address both Smyth and Lee. "Jamie's going to need to talk through this again, but he's more worried about what Lee and his father will say about their leaving the stands or attacking a grownup, than he is by Makarov's kidnapping attempt. Philip's primary concern is whether he'll be able to pitch by next week's game. McJohn's checked his arm, and he's just bruised, no strain or sprain. I'll see them if you want, Lee, or I can give you a recommendation for a civilian with clearance who specializes in adolescents with traumatic experiences. But you've got a good rapport with them, and they're more likely just to talk to you. Encourage that. I don't think you should be concerned unless they start acting frightened, have difficulty concentrating, frequent nightmares, or change behavior drastically. You know the drill. Ah, hello, Amanda," Pfaff smiled at something beyond Lee.
Lee realized his wife was standing stiffly in the door.
"They really are okay?" she asked, her voice squeaky.
"Yeah, I think so," Pfaff responded, and she relaxed. "They've talked the whole thing through, and that's usually the hard part."
"Then we can get on with your own debriefings," said Smyth. He got up to leave, but Lee stepped in front of him, blocking his way.
"You knew Makarov would go after the boys." It wasn't a question.
"There was intelligence to that effect, yes. More than I showed you, but you already had similar indications from your own sources or else why were you in my office Friday night?" The blue eyes, unperturbed, watched Lee steadily through the curling smoke. At Lee's side, Amanda started, but said nothing.
"You used my sons as bait." Lee couldn't keep the anger entirely out of his voice, "and ordered me off to do—"
"Your job." Smyth finished smoothly. "Which you did. Admirably. Thank you. And I did mine. Those boys were never bait, but they were targets. There's a difference."
The calm blue eyes held the defiant hazel ones.
"Tell me, Scarecrow," the Agency director said, without his usual sarcasm, "If you received hard evidence that Makarov had a plan to kidnap Philip and Jamie, could you have kept your mind on what you did today? Knowing Makarov would go after them wherever they went, for however long he was free? Could you have protected the Vice President from possible threat? Or done your next assignment?"
Lee forced himself to consider Smyth's question seriously. Would he have been able to follow the race, pay attention to Amanda, keep his mind on the discrepancies, notice the flowers, hear Jonas' story, if he'd realized that Makarov was willing and able to hurt him through Philip and Jamie? He was past the days when he would have left his own post and gone dashing off to the Smithsonian to back Billy's team up, but he honestly didn't know whether he could have concentrated enough to complete his own assignment.
"I don't know," he admitted reluctantly, "but I would have liked the opportunity to make the decision myself."
An eyebrow arched: Smyth seemed surprised. "Maybe next time."
He looked past them, then said thoughtfully, "I expect my agents to lay down their lives for their country. I can and have and will continue to order my agents to risk their partners, and in your case, your wife, for your country… but the Agency draws the line at asking you to choose to deliberately put your offspring in danger. It's too distracting, and when it comes to the point," his tone shifted suddenly as he looked at Amanda, "it takes a very extraordinary person to put the good of the country ahead of the safety and well-being of her own child."
Smyth stepped around an astonished Lee, and his voice resumed its normal arrogance. "I'll expect both your reports on my desk on Monday. Good day." He stalked out.
Lee turned to look at his wife, but before he could say anything, Detweiler asked her to please come in so they could start their debriefing, and Mason returned to order Lee off to Debriefing 3 for his.June 16, 1990 7 P. M.
Lee's team was crowded into Billy's office for the wrap-up session. They were here, rather than the small conference room, because Billy's office had windows. Amanda and Lee stood together in the middle of the room, where they could look through the open blinds and check every few minutes that Philip and Jamie were okay. Philip was playing some computer game with Ernie while Leatherneck sat on the edge of Fielder's desk and showed Jamie how the camera in Amanda's sports bag worked. Enormous flat boxes of large-size pizza from the Georgetown Godfather's were stacked on the bullpen desks; agents now off-duty would complain Monday about the smell and the tomato stains and little bits of roasted garlic and pepper on the floor. Right now, replete with food and a sense of completion, no one gave a thought to anyone else's probable grumbling.
"I hate it when you're right," Lee was telling Francine.
"And I hate to say it, but you were right," Francine responded.
"Well, you were right, too," Amanda offered generously.
Fielder made a strangled noise and continued to munch on his sausage pizza. Billy explained to the assembled agents, "Francine here insisted there was a KGB plot to injure Jiera, Amanda believed Dimitri's claim that Krutiov planned to wipe out a significant fraction of the political dignitaries at the event, and Lee was worried that Makarov had targeted Amanda or the boys for revenge. We managed to stop them all…so it's a good day."
Francine waved the papers she'd just received from a runner. "Yes, Francine? What is it?" Billy asked.
"Preliminary reports from Interrogation. Beaman just sent them up. He's having the freshman agents work in teams with the senior staff. They've been at it continuously since they brought Makarov and Krutiov in," Francine said, looking up from the pages she was rapidly scanning. "Makarov is mum and sullen but Krutiov's bragging about what a great plan it was if only…. Hmmm." They waited silently while she read through a couple of pages.
"Well, we were wrong about a couple of things. Makarov didn't approach the Estonian KGB in order to find Krutiov. They approached Krutiov for a plan to get into the race and get at Jiera. He realized that he could work that to his advantage. They would provide the background information and the poison and an agent to deliver it if he could provide them with the contacts and a scenario to get one of their own in the race. He pressured a few members of the D.C. Soviet Embassy to put up a team as a political gesture, and they had Nikovitchnov transferred to D.C. as somebody's secretary so that she could enter the race. He ran into Makarov purely by accident in Moscow one day in January, they sat around discussing old grievances, apparently including Scarecrow and Mrs. King. Makarov offered to come up with a way to deliver the poison to the most people in exchange for help getting into the country and going after you two. Krutiov was playing you all. He figured he could get Makarov off his back if you got the intel that he was going to come after the boys, and that you'd go after – and capture – his partner. He says he has the utmost respects for your talents. He knew all about that affair last June with the attempt to bomb Jamie's school. He assumed that you wouldn't play by the rules if the boys were threatened, that he'd be able to buy a diversion that way."
"So did Smyth," Lee interrupted. "He didn't tell us that he'd had a Crypto report that Makarov meant to take the boys. It's all right, Billy." Lee turned to his boss. "I know you were ordered to keep silent. If I had seen that report, even knowing about the team you'd put on Jamie and Philip, I'm not sure what I would have done." He swallowed. "Maybe Smyth was right not to tell me," he admitted bitterly, looking over Amanda's head at the boys in the other room.
She reached up and pulled his face around until he was looking at her.
"I don't believe that. Lee, Smyth should have pulled us all, put us in a safe house, when he saw that report. Agency rules. Do you know why he didn't?"
Lee shook his head.
"He told me at my debriefing. He had a report from Beaman on your last visit with the boys at the gym. It was a surveillance exercise for the new recruits, to follow an agent on his own time, without being spotted. Smyth knew Philip and Jamie weren't unprepared, like that judge's son, because you worked with them every week. He figured that training would buy him 20-30 seconds…more than he needed to even the odds enough to keep them alive while the trappers caught up with them and took out Makarov permanently." She stopped, biting her lip, wide-eyed. "All those people, Lee. We'd been on it for months; he couldn't put anyone else in at the last minute. He had to take the chance. But it was a chance you gave him."
"Because I taught Jamie to kick hard and Philip to fall hard?"
"Yes," she said simply.
He digested this. He'd taught the boys some self-defense, because he wanted to reassure himself that they would at least have a fighting chance if they were ever attacked. He knew that he might not be there himself to watch over them, because he might be on the job watching over someone else. He'd taught them to take care of each other. And Smyth had known that, had taken him at his action, if not exactly his word. "I knew Makarov might go after them when I sent them with Joe. I put them at risk," he realized. "What kind of parent does that make me?"
"An extraordinary one," Amanda answered calmly. When he looked at her, puzzled, she added, "Mother wasn't naïve when she made us promise to stay on the streets, Lee. She knew what could happen; you'd just told her. But you're good at this, and so am I. This is where we need to be."
"And the boys?"
"Maybe advanced kickboxing?" With Billy's remark, they realized the entire room had been holding its collective breath, listening to them. "They seem to be pretty good at this, too. Philip's got field procedures down. He did a great job going for backup and ordering what amounted to an ATAC scramble."
"Oh, no you don't," Amanda objected. "They need to be boys for a while longer." At Lee's look, she amended, "I need them to be boys for a while longer."
McJohn ignored them while he studied his own computer printouts. Now he started to talk, without looking up. "The poison on Jiera's patch had to be water soluble so her sweat would dissolve it and let it penetrate her skin. It's a moderately fast-acting synthetic similar to Upas latex. Nasty plant poison. Makarov insisted on preparing the patch himself, which gave him access to the poison supply. Then all he had to do was rig equipment to soak the zeolite cups in the solution, and allow the zeolites to absorb the poison. Probably just used plastic to line the kitchen sink."
"How did he know the cups would work?" Lee asked, glad to divert the attention of the agents back to the case.
Billy tossed a set of papers across his desk at Lee. "Coroner's report," he said briefly. "Apparent transient death, body found behind a bar a couple of blocks east of the Capitol on Tuesday night. Must have been right after they decided to go through with it. Looked like a bad case of poison ivy, but that shouldn't have killed him. Small amount of alcohol in the system. They could have offered him a drink, switched glasses. We still don't have a name. No one has come forward to ID the body."
Lee took the report, skimmed it, and laid it back on the desk. Their only casualty was a vagrant without family or friends, without anyone to watch his back, or even notice when he was gone. He found Amanda gazing at him with sympathy. He saw reflected in her eyes the return of that conviction that had driven him to take this job in the first place, the commitment Dotty had bound him to. As her face lit up with recognition, he knew too, that the dam that had held back their wordless communication had broken, and the floods were surging through.
"Is Jiera going to be all right?" Amanda asked, her eyes still locked with Lee's.
McJohn brightened. "Yes, she's not showing any symptoms of exposure, and so far her blood tests have been clean. Which reminds me, I'll want a sample of your blood every three days for the next two weeks, just in case."
Amanda grimaced. Lee said with mock sternness, "I'll see that she shows up to give them to you, McJohn."
"I'm still curious. Jiera didn't have any relatives or close friends with cancer. So why this race?" Amanda turned to Fielder, who had done Jiera's interview at Parker General.
Fred consulted his notes. "Somebody she met at the Yates during one of her workouts in February told her about the race. He convinced her that it was for a good cause, so she signed up. Said she thought she should be doing something to make the world a better place."
"I can't fault that," Lee murmured.
Billy glanced at the clock. "Quitting time," he said. "Go home, people. Final debriefing Monday at seven A. M., staff meeting at nine. Good work."
Fred groaned. "Come on, Billy. Can't we get a day off the duty roster for this weekend?"
"Nope," Billy said cheerfully. "No rest for the wicked."
"But we're the good guys," Lee protested.
Billy surveyed his team. "Yeah," he said sincerely. "You are, at that…. and the world needs you. Seven A. M. sharp."
He watched the agents file out of his office, and started to stack some of the papers on his desk. He flipped through the package of glossies the photo lab boys had made from Jamie's film. The ones of number 7879 slapping Jiera on the back, and Krutiov near the TV cameras would supply crucial evidence for their trials.
He tossed those aside and picked up the one Jamie had taken of Amanda crossing the finish line. Her mouth was open, her eyes wide, and strands of hair were sneaking out from under the sweatband, flying loose in the wind. Both feet were off the ground, and she was already reaching protectively out for the woman just ahead of her. Behind her in the enclosure were the dignitaries and officials and race sponsors, all the people who had gone safely home this night, because of his Agency team.
Through the windows, he watched the Stetsons stop in the bullpen to chat with Francine, Leatherneck, and Ernie, and collect their sons. Laughter floated back to him as they all walked down the hall and crowded into the elevator together.
Billy loved this job.
He shoved the half-full bottle of Tums into a drawer and headed for home.June 30, 1990 Two weeks after the race, one year after Dotty's death
Lee steered the Jeep up the winding lane of the cemetery. They pulled to a stop, and the boys climbed out with them. They followed the path slowly up the hill, while the summer breeze off the Potomac ruffled the grass and kissed the petals of the Whisper roses in Amanda's arms.
A grey marble stone set flat in the ground marked the graves of Walter and Dotty West. Two bouquets of flowers already lay in front it. Philip bent to look at the cards. "This one's from Dad and Carrie," he said briefly. "And this is from Captain Curt," he said, touching the red June roses. He set the small pot of African violets that he and Jamie had been raising with Lee's help next to them.
"Captain Curt's coming over, right?" Jamie asked. "I like him."
"Yes, he's coming. He likes you, too." Lee had looked Captain Curt up on Amanda's insistence and urged him to come to Dotty's memorial luncheon.
Amanda knelt to lay her roses on the grave. She stared at the summer grass that covered the slight mound. 'I miss you so much,' she thought. 'And I hate it that you didn't know Lee long enough. That you won't see what incredible men your grandsons are becoming. That you won't know…'
"Amanda," Lee's hand touched her shoulder, "look up."
Two black sedans, flags fluttering on each front bumper, and one innocuous brown Agency issue car with no markings, had stopped behind the Jeep. The now familiar dark-suited Secret Service man climbed out of the front car, and held the back door while the woman inside extricated herself. She took something from inside the car, and when she turned, Amanda could see it was a bouquet of pink roses. Dr. Smyth exited the second car, and Billy, Francine, and Leatherneck walked up the hill from the third car together.
"You did this," Amanda accused Lee.
"I invited Billy and Francine and Leatherneck to lunch, per your orders. I told Billy we were coming here first. Billy asked for permission to transmit that information on a need to know basis," Lee acknowledged. It hadn't occurred to him that Marilyn Quayle would be on Billy's need-to-know list.
The wife of the Vice President stopped in front of them.
"This is Philip and this is Jamie?" She looked to Dr. Smyth for confirmation, and he nodded. She held out the flowers. "These are for your grandmother." Jamie took them, embarrassed. Philip jabbed him with an elbow, and as if remembering something they had rehearsed, they bowed together. She smiled and then turned to Amanda and Lee.
"In your business, we can't publicly give you the recognition that you deserve. But I want you to know that those of us on the committee recognize and understand the courage it took for you to set aside your personal grief for the public good. If you hadn't been there, if you hadn't done what you trained to do, it would have been a very different situation. And I thought you would like to be among the first to know that Congress passed the bill today to establish breast and cervical cancer early detection programs. It's a start."
Amanda, for once, could find no words. Her fingers laced through Lee's, tightened.
"Thank you, Mrs. Quayle," Lee answered for them both.
She turned away, and her entourage wound back down the hill.
After a respectful moment, Dr. Smyth shifted. "Mr. Stetson, Mrs. Stetson, Jamie, Philip," he took his leave formally. The second car pulled away, leaving the friends in reflective silence on the top of the hill.
The breeze lifted their hair and the sun glinted off the waters of the Potomac. The tops of the Capitol Building and the Washington Monument shimmered in the air. All the sounds of the city were muted.
"You're coming back to the house for lunch," Lee reminded Francine.
"Can I ride with Leatherneck?" Jamie asked.
"I guess." Amanda said. "Yes, both of you, go… We can take Billy." The boys whooped. They turned toward the graves, and Jamie laid the pink roses next to the other flowers. "We'll come back again, Grandma," they promised solemnly, before running down the path toward the Agency car.
Leatherneck turned to Billy. "Take your time." Together he and Francine followed the boys sedately down the hill, and stood leaning the car, waiting and talking.
"I did have something I wanted to tell you before we go back to the house," Billy started. "Amanda, your medicals came back. I thought you'd want to know as soon as possible."
"It's all right, Billy," Amanda stopped him. "I talked to Pfaff. I know I missed the psych evaluations. I'll schedule one. I'm sorry. I wish I'd done it sooner." She turned to Lee. "I found this last week, when we were cleaning up the garage for your new hothouse shelves. It was in one of the books Mother was reading just before she died. When I painted Philip's room, I just moved all that stuff out there, and never went through it. I wanted to give it to you here, so she'd know that I'd done it." She handed Lee a folded piece of Dotty's favorite yellow-flowered notepaper.
He opened it.
"Amanda… a last piece of advice," Dotty had written. "When the time comes, don't shut Lee out. You can face anything if you do it together." He looked up, to find Amanda staring at him, forlornly.
"I'm so sorry," she said. "That day when Mother died…I'd dreaded it so long, played it over in my mind so many times before it happened, that when it came, it was like I was on autopilot. Krutiov didn't need to write a script for me. I shut myself in, and then I didn't know how to get out."
"Hush, m'Amanda," Lee murmured into her hair as he pulled her to him. She rested her head on his shoulder, and he felt her drawing support from him, the strength that he had set aside for her use, banked up, as limitless as his love.
"Not Pfaff's evaluations," Billy started again. "McJohn's blood tests from his post-race checkups came back. He did a thorough analysis, with a full set of cultures for all known bio-agents, just in case the latex poison was a blind."
"Billy," Lee panicked, "there's nothing wrong, is there?"
"Wrong? No," Billy said. He handed Amanda the paperwork McJohn had given him. "Did you suspect this?"
"There was so much stress…and with all the training," she faltered. "I couldn't be sure. Besides, if you'd known, you would have pulled me. Smyth made his policy quite clear…. and I couldn't take the chance. I knew that Dimitri was telling the truth."
"Amanda! Billy!" Lee held out his hand, and Amanda put McJohn's report in it.
Billy fidgeted. "I'll be at down by the Jeep," he said abruptly, and walked away.
Lee finished reading the report and raised head. "Oh my gosh," he breathed. "I don't know if I'm ready for this." He reached down to touch her waist. "May I?"
"No one is ready for this," she answered, her hand pressing his against her still-flat abdomen, her eyes on the boys below. She pulled back from him, turned, and put her hands on his shoulders. "And doing it alone is hard. But maybe together?" she suggested, her eyes falling the flowered notepaper that he held.
Overwhelmed, he bent his head to kiss her. At the bottom of the hill, five pairs of eyes watched the performance, Jamie and Philip with the tolerance teens have for those foibles of parents that mean their own world is secure, Billy with satisfaction, Francine with critical approval, and Leatherneck with awe. Fully aware of his audience, Lee kissed his wife thoroughly. When he raised his head, his eyes were dancing.
"I guess this means no more running together every day," he teased, feigning disappointment.
"Could you could bear to walk with me instead?" she asked, her words carrying them back to that morning in the train station when he had asked her to help him.
"Walk, run, crawl," he promised. "All my days." He studied the new gravestone and the verse that Dotty had chosen for it in those last weeks when she could no longer move, when just breathing had become a struggle. He added softly, "And if Dotty was right, ever after."
They walked back down the hill together, to their sons and their friends, who were waiting to help them celebrate Dotty's life, and the new life that was coming.
Walter West 1925-1978
Dorothea West 1928-1989
They shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary,
they shall walk and not faint.
and with gratitude for the survival of
Helen, Emma, Jo, Jeanne, Barbara, Pat, and Jill
…for whom I walk.
Hey, I can't help it; I'm an academic.
PRIMARY EPISODE REFERENCES
"The Long Christmas Eve" (Dimitri)
"All the World's a Stage" (Serge Krutiov)
"Stemwinder 1 & 2" (Alexi Makarov)
Episodes in which Dotty or the boys saw Lee
"The First Time (as a Pirate the fast-food stand)"
"Always Look a Gift Horse in the Mouth" (as one of Penny's entourage at the school)
"The Wrong Way Home" (rescuing them in the gym)
"All the World's a Stage" (during the final scene of the play)
"Stemwinder: Part 1" (breaking the trellis with Amanda)
"Nightcrawler" (Lee visits Dotty: aquaintance becomes official)
Multiple times after that
Additional Season 1-3 episodes in which they could have seen Lee:
"Dead Ringer" (entering or leaving the house with Marda)
"A Little Sex, A Little Scandal" (capturing Rita in front of the school)
"Vigilante Mothers" (living in the neighborhood)
"One Bear Dances, the Other Doesn't" (at the park, later at the factory)
Kevin Brock is an FBI expert in Domestic Terrorism who joined the FBIHQ DC office in 1990. Anderson Communications is a major Madison Avenue advertising firm.
In the segment beginning on March 18, 1989, Dotty is reading from the Washington Post for March 28, 1989.
While I could find no evidence that Marilyn Quayle attended any meetings such as the one at which Amanda sees her, she did give the speech described in the story in Dallas earlier in 1989.
And yes, there is a hosta named "Dorothy Benedict". A number of different varieties have been bred from it, including the "Foxy Doxy". My gardening skills are on a par with Lee's, but I like looking at pictures of plants, and I love the names people chose for them.
The Susan B. Komen Foundation held its first Race for the Cure in 1983 in Dallas, with 800 participants. The first National Race in Washington, D. C. on June16, 1990, sponsored by the Quayles, Poston and Hyde (both of whom died within two years from breast cancer) drew 7500 participants. In 2002, the race route was changed because of security concerns; I made up the route used in the story because I couldn't find a map of the 1990 race. On June 5, 2005, 60000 people, including more than 50 teams from foreign embassies, are expected to race around the Washington DC Mall, and over 100 other cities will sponsor a local race, along with 12 "Three Day 60 Mile" walks. The 2005 events will involve 1.5 million people in raising awareness and funds to support research, education, testing, and treatment of breast cancer. Komen Foundation supported the research that led to the discovery of the mutated gene associated with inherited forms of breast cancer.
Amanda King and Lee Stetson, Philip and Jamie King, Dotty West, Joe King, Captain Curt, Dr. Austin Smyth, Billy Melrose, Francine Desmond, Leatherneck, Ephraim Beaman, Fred Fielder, Mrs. Marston, T. P. Aquinas, Serge Krutiov, Alexi Makarov, Carmine Davis, Princess Penny, Darrell Prescott, Tony Martinet, Drs. Pfaff, Mitchell, and McJohn, Thomas Blackthorne, Katrina Checkov, Dimitri (last name not mentioned in the episode 'The Long Christmas Eve', so I named him after another TV spy), Lee's athletic trainer (I named him Jim Vargas but he is unnamed when mentioned in 'The Magic Bus'), Joe's wife Carrie (never seen) Dotty's husband (whom I named Walter but who is to my knowledge never named in any episode) are the creative property of "Shoot the Moon" Productions and Warner Brothers. Names spelled as reported in the IMDB Guest Appearance list for 'Scarecrow and Mrs. King' at Varnaite, Jonas Petrauskas, Simonas Atanaitis, Carl Kramer, Mark Townsend, Millicent Furbisher's husband, Linda Ambruster, Tommy and Kim (the Barnstormers), are mine. Various FBI and Secret Service operatives remain unnamed and like it that way.
This story is intended for edification and entertain. No infringement of copyright is intended or implied.