Disclaimer: Scarecrow and Mrs. King and its characters belong to WB and Shoot the Moon Productions. No infringement is intended. This is written for entertainment purposes only. Please do not redistribute or reproduce this story without my permission.
Notes: This is the sequel to my story "Interlude from Reality" which you should probably read first in order for this story to make sense. Many thanks to all of the Gutter Girls at Wicklowplace who read "Interlude" and posed questions throughout thus inspiring this tale. Hopefully I've provided the answers you wanted.
Many thanks to Ermintrude for finding and fixing my mistakes. Any that still exist are my fault, due to post-beta tweaks!
Title – Return to Reality
Timeline - 3rd season – five days after "Interlude from Reality" - breaks canon - might be considered AU
Rating – Mature (NC – 17 version available at the Wicky Archives)
Genre - Drama/Romance
Warnings: a few bits of swearing, some violence, sexual situations
Author – Charlie
The usual hospital sounds drifted into the bland utilitarian room: doctors being paged, visitors laughing as they walked down the hall, concerned nurses discussing difficult cases. A food cart rattled by and the smell of lunch seeped through the open doorway. Lee sniffed the air then sighed. After seven days in the hospital, the food all smelled and tasted the same. He shifted uncomfortably on the bed and pulled the covers straight then checked his watch.
Amanda was late. Her visits were the only thing that made his stay in the hospital bearable. He felt fine and had been asking to go home but no one would listen to him. At least when Amanda was here, he could forget where he was and bask in the warmth of their newly acknowledged love for each other. Not that he could act on that love. Every time they so much as kissed, someone came into the room wanting to give him pills or take his blood pressure. Once they'd even had the nerve to try and wheel him off for therapy right in the middle of visiting hours. He'd quickly set them straight on that!
A quick glance at his watch told him that it was only five minutes later than the last time he'd checked. It wasn't that Amanda was really that late—only fifteen minutes—but she'd had an appointment with Dr. Pfaff today and he was anxious to know how it had gone. Ever since the crash, Amanda had been plagued with recurring headaches. Some were severe while others were just a dull nagging pain. Lee secretly feared that she had suffered a brain injury but Amanda was sure it was nothing. She was more concerned about the feeling that she hadn't yet fully recovered all of her memories from before the crash.
It had been a week since their rescue after the helicopter they'd been in had gone down in the mountains. As a result of the accident, Amanda had suffered amnesia while Lee had a dislocated shoulder. The shoulder had been painful but it was a knife cut to his leg, sustained in an earlier fight, that had caused the most problems. It had become severely infected and had necessitated his prolonged hospital stay.
For her part, Amanda had only been in the hospital overnight. Various cuts and bruises had been dealt with and were now healing well. Doctors had determined that the amnesia was caused by a blow to the head during the crash. There was no sign of a fracture or concussion and, by the time she'd arrived in the emergency room, she had been cognizant of almost all of the important details of her life.
The sound of heels clicking briskly down the tiled hallway had Lee sitting up straighter in bed. He'd recognize the sound of her walk anywhere. His face broke into a smile as she stepped through the door, her presence brightening the institutionalized atmosphere that normally hung over the room.
"Hello sweetheart! How are you feeling today?" She leaned over the bed and gave him a welcoming kiss. Their lips had just met, when a hospital volunteer appeared with a lunch tray. Quickly Amanda stepped away and Lee cast her a frustrated look. The volunteer cheerily wheeled the bedside table into place and set his lunch tray down all the while expounding the dubious benefits of the day's menu.
"Thank you, this smells delicious. I'm sure he'll enjoy it." Amanda spoke warmly to the volunteer who flashed her a quick smile then hurried out, pulling the door closed and blocking out the sounds from the corridor.
Lee lifted the lid off the plate. "It looks even worse than it smells," he grumbled, poking the soggy vegetables with a fork before replacing the cover and pushing the tray away. "I'm not hungry anyway."
"Now Lee, you have to eat so that your body can heal." Amanda scolded moving the meal into place again. "Just try the soup, while I tell you about my morning."
He reluctantly conceded and sipped the broth while Amanda sat down beside him and outlined her day so far. She filled her account with tidbits about the boys and her mother leaving for a long weekend away at Aunt Edna's. Then she related a story about Beaman spilling his rice pudding onto a long suffering Francine. Finally she got to her appointment with Pfaff who reiterated that there was no reason for concern. Her injury and subsequent recovery were progressing in a predictable yet unremarkable fashion.
"So he's sure there's no permanent damage?" Lee traced the faintly discoloured mark on Amanda's forehead—the only visible reminder of her injury.
"Yes, the scans came back normal. Pfaff says that sometimes, after a bump on the head, there are tiny snippets of memory that never return. It's not that uncommon and usually it's something that happened right before the trauma. The headaches could be from me stressing over the fact that I think I've forgotten something."
"Hmm—and you're really sure there is something still missing?"
"That's just it! I don't know...It's like I told you before. There's this annoying feeling I have that there's something important I should be remembering or doing but I can't put my finger on it."
Lee gave her hand a comforting squeeze. "Well—we've been back for a week and the world hasn't come crashing to an end, so whatever it was, it probably wasn't crucial. Maybe it's just some dry-cleaning that you've forgotten to pick up or a PTA meeting. You need to quit trying so hard. If it's meant to be recalled, it will happen."
Amanda gave him a half smile and shrugged. "You're probably right."
The sound of the door opening had them quickly springing apart. Their boss, Mr. Melrose entered the room to find Amanda sitting in a chair beside Lee's bed, her hands folded primly in her lap while Lee made a show of eating his lunch.
"Ah! You're both here – perfect." The section chief smiled at his agents. "Scarecrow, I hear that you're being your usual charming self and the nurses are asking to be assigned to different floors."
"Aww, Billy, I'm not that bad..." Lee started to protest but stopped as both his boss and Amanda stared at him with knowing looks. "Well, I just don't like being stuck in bed with everyone fussing around me."
"Hmph—well, you're being released today so that should make you, and everyone who works here, very happy. They gave me your prescription for a few more days of antibiotics and a therapy schedule for your shoulder." Mr. Melrose started to hand the papers to Lee but Amanda intercepted them.
"I'll take those, Sir. Lee's likely to lose them."
"Good idea, Amanda. You can make sure he gets the prescription filled and put the dates for his physical therapy in his day planner. That way, there will be no excuses—right Lee?" Billy smirked. Everyone present knew full well that, left to his own devices, Lee wouldn't follow through on any of the doctor's orders.
"Fine. If that's what it takes to get out of here." Lee sat up, pushed the lunch tray out of his way and swung his legs out of bed. "Any news on Riley? Did his henchmen spill anything new?"
"We're still looking for Riley but the two who were tracking you, Dwayne and Bob, have been singing like birds. Their testimony, along with your information, has enabled us to put most of that group behind bars. "
"Mr. Melrose, what about Marcus? We haven't seen him since the crash." Amanda inquired after the agent who had managed to alert the Agency of the accident and was responsible for them being rescued.
"Strange that you should ask. He's one of the reasons that I'm here. "
"Really?" Lee sat up straighter, his radar kicking in. "What's going on?"
"Well, some things don't add up. Immediately after giving his report, he took an unpaid leave of absence and hasn't been seen or heard from since." Billy sighed heavily and shook his head.
Amanda's brow furrowed in concern. "I hope he's alright. The helicopter crash and having to hike down the mountain to get help must have been hard on him..."
"Maybe he just needed some time away. I've done that before—being undercover for an extended period of time takes a lot out of you." Lee made the suggestion but knew there was more to it, just by the look on the section chief's face.
"If he had just gone off for awhile, I wouldn't be concerned but, when I studied the transcripts of his debriefing, I discovered that his account of events doesn't totally match with yours or Amanda's."
"In what way?" Amanda queried, sitting forward in the chair and staring intently at her boss.
Billy turned and addressed Lee first. "Marcus told you that he overheard Riley talking, correct? That Riley was planning on selling you to the highest bidder. "
"Yes, that's basically it. He figured that, given the level of my security clearance, I'd have a wide knowledge of sensitive information that foreign governments would love to get their hands on."
"He's right. You'd fetch a fine amount on the open market." Billy acknowledged the truth of Lee's statement. No one mentioned the fact that torture and heavy doses of drugs would have been used to extract the information. It was an unpleasant reality that was best left unsaid. Looking towards Amanda, Billy noted she was rubbing her temple and looking rather pale. "Are you all right, Amanda?"
"Yes Sir, just a headache that suddenly started again. It's making me a bit queasy this time. I'll take something for it. Don't mind me." She reached for her purse and rummaged about, finding a small pill case containing Tylenol.
"Okay ...if you're sure?" He watched her for a moment as she took the pill and then gave him a quick smile. With a nod in her direction, he continued. "After being captured, Lee was knocked out and all three of you were taken to the camp and kept in a tent. Is that accurate? "Amanda nodded. "At any time, was Marcus by himself?"
"No Sir. We were tied up and in the tent together the whole time."
"Did you overhear David Riley talking to anyone about his plans for Scarecrow?"
"No, I only heard the guard that hit me. He was outside the tent talking to someone about his...er... 'plans' for me but I didn't hear anything being said about Lee."
"And that's the problem, dammit." Billy hit the bedside table with his hand, causing the remains of Lee's soup to slosh over the sides of the bowl. "When did Marcus overhear Riley's conversation? If you were all together, Amanda would have heard it too."
"Maybe this was before we arrived at the meeting site. After Marcus was captured and while they were waiting for us to arrive, Riley could have been talking about Lee then." Amanda suggested, using a napkin to sop up the spilled soup.
"But Riley shouldn't have been waiting for us. He wouldn't have known I was going to be there unless someone told him. A captured agent would never reveal the name of the contact that was meeting him unless extreme measures had been used. Hell, they hadn't even been trying to get information out of Marcus— he didn't even have a scratch on him. There was no reason for him to break and reveal my name to Riley. He was being held at gun point but that's all." Lee felt a combination of anger and disgust at the thought of a traitor in their midst. "Billy, it sounds to me like Marcus is on the take."
Billy shook his head sadly. "The man's been an agent for years with an impeccable record. He's one of the last people I'd suspect but this just doesn't look good."
"If Marcus has turned against the Agency, then why did he help us escape? And why did he bandage us up? He could have just left us or gone back to where Riley was but instead he contacted you. Those aren't the actions of a traitor." Amanda pointed out.
"Exactly. No matter which way I look at this, it doesn't make sense. That's where you two come in." Billy put his hands in his pocket and rocked back and forth on his heels.
"Billy, I'm still officially off the duty roster." Lee reminded the other man. He could see where this was going and wasn't pleased. He'd planned on spending the next few days with Amanda, exploring their new relationship outside the confines of a hospital room—not working another case already!
"I know, but this is an 'unofficial' assignment. You and Amanda are just going to pay a call on Marcus. If he's there, you can ask how he's feeling, update him on your condition and while Amanda distracts him, you can take a quick snoop around his house to see if you come up with anything. If he's not there, you can still look around. It's really simple and won't interfere with your therapy schedule. "
"Last time you said it was a simple assignment and then we ended up here." Lee glumly recalled how the last 'milk run' had gone sour.
"Mr. Melrose, why don't you just question Marcus directly?" Amanda asked, frowning at Lee.
"If he is on the take, we want as much evidence as possible and we don't want to spook him. If there's an innocent explanation, we don't want this spread over the whole Agency, ruining his good name. A quiet unofficial investigation is what's called for in a case like this."
Lee sighed noisily letting his displeasure be known. Amanda laid her hand on his arm, "Lee, I know you still don't feel well but Marcus did a lot to help us and I think we should try to help clear up this misunderstanding."
"Fine—I'll do it." Lee reluctantly agreed. "But I want an extra couple of days off later on to make up for this."
"Of course," Billy nodded suppressing a smirk. "I'll make a note in your file and some day, when things aren't too busy, you can take some time off."
"Where have I heard that before?" Lee grumbled under his breath.
After a bit more discussion, Billy left and the nurse came to take a final check of Lee's vitals. Amanda gathered up his possessions while he fussed through having his temperature and blood pressure taken then she waited patiently while he was in the washroom changing into his street clothes. His doctor stopped by with a few final instructions about medication and the need for physical therapy on his shoulder. Finally, Lee signed his release papers and happily left the hospital room behind.
He inhaled deeply as he exited the building. It was a bright sunny day and it felt good to be outside after being cooped up for a week. Reaching for Amanda's hand, he gave it a quick squeeze. Mentally he planned how he would spend the remainder of his sick leave. 'Amanda and I will check out Marcus' house and see if he's there or not. Then, after a quick report to Billy, the next few days will be all ours. Amanda's family is gone for the weekend so we'll finally be able to spend some uninterrupted time alone." Lee smiled to himself, pleased with the turn of events. Everything was working out perfectly.