DISCLAIMER:"Scarecrow and Mrs. King" is copyrighted to Warner Brothers and Shoot the Moon Productions. I retain rights to the plot, but not the characters. This story is meant for enjoyment purposes only. No infringement is intended.
SYNOPSIS:Just a short tale for Christmas.
TIMELINE:Set after the show, minor spoilers.
ALL IS CALM
The street was quiet apart from the steady crunch of feet and the sound of even breathing as Lee Stetson trudged slowly, but determinedly towards his destination. As quickly as he left a footprint in the already thick layer of snow, it was erased by yet more of the falling flakes. To an onlooker it would appear as if he were some kind of ghost as he walked but left no trace.
Although night had already fallen, the blanket of white made it seem more like day. That fact would've been a welcomed blessing if he'd been able to actually use his car. Unfortunately, the sudden heavy snowfall had caught the city by surprise and nothing in the suburb's was moving…apart from him.
Cursing the fact that he hadn't bothered to put on a hat, he paused briefly and set down the five bags full of brightly wrapped items he was carrying. Adjusting his scarf, he then pulled his long, black coat more snugly around him and bent to pick up the bags again.
As he marched on, he looked at the gaily decorated houses lining the street, each seemingly trying to outshine the others. Looking through some of the windows, he caught snippets of people's lives as they prepared for the festive season. Food being brought to a table, mothers and fathers hugging their children…mothers and fathers hugging each other.
At one house, Lee saw a man hurry up the path to the door and knock loudly, the sound echoing around the peaceful street. The door was flung open and a little girl hurled herself at him.
"Daddy!" she squealed as the man picked her up.
"Hello, love," he replied.
A woman appeared at the door and smiled radiantly at the man. He entered the house and leaned in for a kiss. As the door shut, Lee heard him say, "It's good to be home."
That picture of domestic bliss stayed with him as he continued to move, warming him with it's simple declaration of love. And he needed warming he acknowledged reluctantly. The temperature was really starting to fall quite drastically.
'Come on. Not far to go now,' he told himself encouragingly as he turned a corner. He knew he was going to be late but it was better than not being there at all.
Had his face not been frozen into place, he would have smiled at his way of thinking. A mere five years ago, he wouldn't have even entertained the idea of making this trek. He shook his head wryly. How times had changed. And for the better, he acknowledged ruefully.
When he thought back over how his life used to be, he couldn't believe that he never realised just how empty it had all been. 'For someone who thinks they're so smart, you were pretty stupid,' he told himself wryly.
When his partner, Eric, had died in place of him, he knew he'd gone off the rails at work, seemingly having a death wish as he risked his own life in some misplaced attempt at redemption. Now, while he still had some feelings of guilt over the incident, he accepted what had happened and let go.
That acceptance was all down to his current partner, Amanda King. Not wanting him to carry around the burden of Eric's death, she had gently prodded and coaxed him until he told her everything. Not usually an open man, Lee had been surprised at the amount of relief he'd felt just by talking about it.
As he continued to walk, his thoughts drifted to his partner and the many adventures they'd shared over the years. Through thick and thin they'd remained side by side. She really was the best friend he'd ever had and he'd be eternally grateful for whatever being it was that had made him choose her that day on the train station. He dreaded to think how he would have ended up otherwise. Dead, most probably.
He was nearing the house now and began to pick up his pace in eagerness. He'd been looking forward to this for the past month. The snow had been an unexpected nuisance but he wasn't going to miss these next few days for anything the world. It was to be his first real Christmas at home with his wife and family.
'Wife. My wife.' He let the words roll about in his mind, loving the way they sounded. He couldn't believe he was actually married sometimes. It certainly hadn't been in his long term plan. Hell, he hadn't even had a long term plan until he met her, then suddenly things changed.
With fierce loyalty, steady friendship, humour, warmth and an alarming penchant for getting into any kind of trouble there was going, his wife had slowly stolen his heart.
He'd fought it, tooth and nail in some cases but, every time he looked into her expressive brown eyes, he would feel a little more of the protective wall around his heart crumble.
Looking back now, he could see that it had been inevitable. Why else would he have protested so loudly when 'forced' to have her around in the beginning? His brain recognised the threat, but his heart had won. Thankfully.
Lee stopped by a white fence and unlatched the gate. He entered the front yard and, after closing the gate behind him, he walked up to the welcoming glow of the colourfully decorated house.
In just a few seconds he'd see his wife and family. As he walked up the path, he fished around in his pocket and pulled out a key. He needn't have bothered though because, the front door suddenly flew open and a slim, dark haired woman stood there grinning at him.
Lee grinned back. There she was. His wife. His love. His life.
"You made it!" she cried happily. "I was worried you'd be stuck at the Agency. I didn't think that you'd be able to drive here in this storm." She poked her head out into the freezing night and looked out towards the road.
"I walked," he told her as he entered the enveloping warmth of the house and gratefully put down the bags he carried.
"You walked?" she questioned on a disbelieving note. "But that's miles!"
"Not really, Billy took me as far as he could and then I ploughed through the last couple of miles myself." He chuckled. "I could have done with ski's in some parts." He removed his gloves and scarf, then shrugged off his coat. He hung them up and turned back to the woman before him and smiled.
She smiled back then took his hand and rubbed it soothingly. "Come on, let's get you warmed up. Mother and the boys are in the den, they didn't want to start dinner without you."
Warmth flooded through him at her words and in that one moment, he didn't think his life could get any better. As she moved away, he tugged on her hand and pulled her abruptly back towards him. Before she could say a word, his arms encircled her and he leaned in, kissing her long and slow.
"Wow," she breathed when the kiss ended. "Your nose is freezing."
Lee laughed then glanced up at the mistletoe that dangled above them. "Just following tradition. If you will hang it there…"
"You moved it again," she accused and laughed as he tried to adopt an innocent expression. "Good thing I don't mind," she added and gave him a quick kiss on the lips.
She embraced him tightly and sighed in contentment. "I'm so happy you're here. Our first Christmas where everyone knows we're married. I'm glad we decided to tell them."
"So am I," he replied. "Probably your smartest idea yet."
She grinned happily. "Merry Christmas, Lee."
"Merry Christmas, Amanda," he replied softly. "It's good to be home."