Disclaimer: Scarecrow and Mrs. King belongs to Warner Bros and Shoot the Moon productions.

Summary: An AU sensible ending to "The Man Who Died Twice". Lee and Amanda decide making their marriage a mystery isn't such a hot idea after all.

Author Notes: The "mystery" marriage thing always bugged the dickens out of me. It didn't make sense when I was a teenager and makes even less sense now that I'm older. Anyway, I really want Lee and Amanda to have a realistic noncrazy conversation in which they realize that there's a better way to go about this. The beginning part of the conversation is taken directly from the episode, then it goes AU from there.

To a Marriage of True Minds

Amanda slipped out the back door to meet Lee outside. They sat down on bench in her gazebo, talking about the case. Lee told her that Kai and his family were on the way to California to start a new life.

"Will they be safe?" Amanda asked

"Well, no one's ever completely safe in this job. You know that. That's what I wanted to talk to you about. Amanda, uh, the horses and the softball games in the back yard, they're going to have to wait," he said seriously.

"I know that," Amanda replied, smiling.

"But, I am going to marry you, Amanda King," he said. "Except it's going to have to be a... mystery marriage because if it isn't one day our family might get into trouble just like Kai's." He looked down.

For a long moment, Amanda didn't say anything. Finally, she asked, "What do you mean by a mystery marriage?" Her voice cracked a little. "Do you mean something like... nonexistent?"

Lee looked up startled; Amanda's expression was controlled but tense. He took her hands in his. "No, I mean a real marriage, but kept under wraps, a secret from everyone. It's the only way to keep our family safe."

Amanda stared down at their hands, unable to look at Lee. She started to say something, stopped, and then tried again, slowly, carefully. "Does that mean... do you want... are we supposed to stop seeing so much of each other? Go on dates with other people?"

"Good God, no, Amanda," Lee exclaimed, tightening his grip on her hands. "I love you. I have absolutely no interest in spending time with any other woman, and I certainly don't spend enough time with you now."

Amanda still wouldn't look at him. "Then does it mean you don't want to get to know the boys? That you want me to quit the Agency?"

"No, definitely not. We're partners; I don't function nearly as well without you as with you. And I definitely want to get to know the boys. It's just..."

Amanda stood up suddenly. "Then how is a mystery marriage supposed to make us safer?" she said in frustration.

"What?"

"You heard me. If we're still going to be seeing each other, if you're going to meet the boys, if I'm going to stay with the Agency, how is trying to hide our marriage going to work? It's a marriage not a... an...," Amanda finally forced the word out of her mouth, "affair. There will be a paper trail for any one who cares to look, and we're in the intelligence field; someone is bound to find out. And even if they don't, how hard do you think it would be for anyone to find out we're involved. A rookie doing the most basic surveillance could find out how much time you spend here," Amanda took a deep breath before continuing. "Lee, people were using me to get to you long before we were even dating: Alan Squires, Yuri Valov, Gordon Redding— remember them? I've been in the field for nearly four years now, even if I'm only just now becoming an official agent. People know who I am. I've been making my own enemies; my family is as much at risk because of me as you. And, Lee, I don't have the option of pretending they don't exist."

"Amanda, that's not fair," Lee snapped. "I care about you all too much to want anything to happen to you. I want you to be safe."

"I want us to be safe," Amanda snapped back, "but hiding a marriage isn't the way to do it. I don't think my family will be any safer if we're apart, and I don't want a part time marriage. I want you to be part of the family not a stranger looking in."

Lee ran his fingers through his hair in frustration. "I thought... you agreed that the house and all that would have to wait. If you didn't mean this..." he trailed off, groping for some way to finish.

Amanda sighed, grabbed one of his hands in hers, and looked into his eyes. "Sweetheart, I just meant we needed to slow down a little; I've just had a hard time saying it. You were so excited about everything, and I didn't want to dampen that enthusiasm. I love you and want to marry you more than anything else in the world, but...," she hesitated a moment, "I also have to think of my boys. They haven't even officially met you yet; it's asking a lot of them to have to accept a stranger as their stepfather and to move to a new home away from their friends as well. I want them to have a chance of getting to know you before we make any radical changes. That's all I meant."

Now Lee was the one having a hard time meeting her eyes. "I don't know what to do, Amanda," he said finally. "The thought of something happening to you or your boys... But I can't give you up either. I wouldn't be able to stand it."

Amanda put both hands on his face. "I would never let you do that," she said fiercely. "What happened today was scary— very scary— but I think it would be foolish to make a decision out of fear. I think in the long run it would hurt us and the people we love." She kissed him gently, and he wrapped his arms around her for a long moment. When they pulled apart, Amanda said, suddenly, "I think we need to talk to Billy."

"Billy?" Lee asked.

"Yes, if any one could help us figure out how to make this work, Billy could. He's on our side, and I don't think we're fooling him anyway. He'll know how this would affect us at the Agency; how best to protect our family; what we should tell them. I think we've been hiding things so long, we've forgotten that some things are better out in the open. We can't do this on our own, and Billy has a family; he'll have the answers we need."

Lee leaned forward, resting his forehead against Amanda's. "You're right, Amanda. I'm sorry. It was a dumb idea. I don't want to be a part-time husband or a secret stepfather. I want to be able to walk in the front door and not skulk in the backyard."

"That's what I want, too," Amanda said softly. She lifted her head to look at him, then said, more brightly, "I wouldn't mind eloping though."

He stared at her in surprise. "Really?"

"Really," she said, sliding her arms around his neck. "Much more romantic, and so much less planning and stress, and considering our concerns and our friends, much more secure. Of course, if you'd like the backyard wedding..."

"No," Lee said, slowly, running his hands up and down her back, "I kind of think I like the thought of eloping. The two of us, alone, in an exotic location, far away from the Agency. We could go straight from the wedding to the honeymoon, with no interruptions. Yes, I like that thought a lot."

Amanda grinned at the look on his face. "Did you have any particular exotic location in mind?"

"Mmm, one does spring to mind," he said slyly, nuzzling her neck.

With a contented sigh, Amanda lost concentration for a moment but then managed to ask, "Where?"

He pulled back for a moment. "I think you can guess."

Amanda looked at him, her eyes widening slightly. "San Angelo?"

"Mmm-hmm," he said, placing a kiss at the corner of her jaw. "It would be nice to make it real this time."

"Sounds nice," Amanda replied. "But this time, no assembly line vows."

"Definitely, not. Just you and me and..." Lee's head shot up as a thought struck him. "But what about your family? How would they react to an elopement?"

"I don't know. Maybe once they've met you, and you've met them, we can figure out the best way to handle everything," Amanda said, changing gears. "So, let's talk to Billy tomorrow morning, and tomorrow night, you come to the front door and take me out on a date after meeting everyone."

Lee smiled. "Not dinner with the family?"

"Not until Philip stops cooking," Amanda replied with a laugh. "You can come to dinner next week."

"Mmm, sounds very nice and normal," Lee said, tightening his arms around her waist. "I like it. And you're right. We're better off together. We'll make this work somehow." He placed a kiss on her nose. "And how about tomorrow I treat you to a gourmet dinner at my apartment, to make up for having to eat Philip's cooking tonight."

"Sounds wonderful," Amanda said, kissing him in return. "And speaking of cooking, I'd better get back inside and see if they've finished fighting about the dishes. It's been suspiciously quiet in there."

"Yeah," Lee agreed, reluctantly. "But tomorrow night I'm coming inside, no excuses."

"No excuses," Amanda agreed. "I love you, Lee Stetson."

"And I love you, Amanda King," he said, giving her a kiss that left them both breathless.

Amanda steadied herself. "I'd better get inside. Goodnight, Lee."

"Good night, Amanda," he said, as he watched her go back inside.

He watched her through the windows for a few minutes; she was so beautiful, and he was tired of having to let her go every night. He shook his head in disbelief. How could he have thought a mystery marriage would work? It was bad enough saying good night to her now; how did he think he'd be able to do it once they were married? Yeah, they'd have to have that talk with Billy. There'd be a lot of hurdles, but it would be a hell of a lot better than trying to sneak around fooling everybody. His heart felt a lot lighter as he left the backyard. He suddenly was sure that everything was going to turn out all right.

THE END

Author's Endnotes:

While I'd love to do a full epic AU rewrite of the rest of season 4 following this story, I probably won't though I might try writing a series of short stories or vignettes set in this universe, rather than the full epic. However, in case I don't, I would like to give an idea of how I see the rest of the series running.

First, they'd have their talk with Billy, who would present all their options. They'd still keep their engagement secret: at home, so Lee could get to know Dotty and the boys, and at work, because Amanda's still finishing her agent training. The first date mentioned in my story would go pretty much like the scene at the end of "Any Number Can Play" (which would be before rather than after "Santa's Got a Brand New Bag"). Most of the Lee getting to know the boys stuff (especially Jamie's jealousy) would be happening during the time between "The Man Who Died Twice" and "Do You Take this Spy?" rather than after. Also rather than trying to throw Francine off the track in "Promises to Keep", they'd actually let her know about the engagement and swear her to secrecy.

They'd elope on schedule in "Do You Take This Spy?" already having given her family a lot of indications they were heading in the direction of marriage. Still awkward, but I think easier than what they actually did. "Mission of Gold" would be delayed long enough for them to take a honeymoon cruise, and since I'm already going AU, I'll go even further to say that Amanda's only grazed by the bullet in "Mission of Gold", and thus does not spend the rest of the series sidelined.

Now after they'd get back, their marriage would be revealed to everyone, and they'd deal with whatever fallout they'd have to at home and at work, "Kruschev's List" would be moved to right after "One Flew East", since that's mostly about them trying to adjust to being married. They'd also keep Lee's apartment for a few months (to the end of his lease), to help ease the transition to him becoming a full time family man and for some newlywed privacy when needed.

The other episodes would mostly stay the same except for the personal stuff would be about them adjusting openly to married life and all the compromises that takes. The season, however, would end with "Suitable For Framing" happening as in the original script "Amanda Redux" where it was Amanda rather than Francine who was trapped by Trojan Horse and ending the series with Lee and Amanda taking time to decide if they want to come back to the Agency.

And for anyone who's made it to the end of this, thank you for your patience.