Title: Missing Her
Disclaimer: 'Scarecrow and Mrs. King' belongs to Shoot the Moon and Warner Brothers Productions.
Timeline: Late second season. Filler for "Murder Between Friends" written by Mark Lisson and Bill Froehlich, with references to "The Artful Dodger" written by Pamela Chais.
Summary: A/U – I always thought they killed off Byron Jordan too soon. What if Lee had some time to miss Amanda? Probably more third-season Lee than second-season, but what the heck.
Archive: fanfiction.net – anywhere else, just ask
Acknowledgements: Thank-you TAG for beta'ing this story, and for all your encouragement! And you, too, IamInvisibleToo for pointing out where I needed to improve.
Lee and Billy finished briefing the small group on the Agency's involvement in President Nabuti's upcoming visit. As they left the conference room and entered the bullpen, Amanda was waiting for them.
"Good timing, Amanda!" Billy seemed pleased to see her.
"Alright, people, let's get cracking," Billy called out to his team.
Francine headed directly for Amanda. "Oh, I hope you don't have any PTA or Goofy Golf tonight," she said, "looks like it could be a late one."
"Amanda, can you handle these files for me?" Lee asked, while trying to hand her the folders. "I'll need printouts of all the …"
"No, I'm sorry, I can't." Amanda seemed determined to stop the flow of words and say what she had on her mind before she lost her nerve.
"What do you mean you can't?" Lee was genuinely concerned. "Are you alright?"
"Oh, yeah, I'm fine. But I just stopped by to say good-bye. Well, I mean, not really good-bye, because I'll still be around …"
"What are you talking about?"
"Well, Byron Jordan offered me a job as his Executive Assistant, at double my salary."
"Nice touch" Francine said archly.
"Jordan's a good man," Billy assured her.
"And … I think I'm going to take it." Amanda shrugged, "I need the money." She looked right at Lee, her eyes begging him to understand. "I guess that means …" she took a deep breath and continued, "I'll be resigning from the Agency."
"Oh." Lee looked down at his feet, unable to meet her gaze. He should have seen this coming after their conversation the other day in front of Jordan. Byron's comment that, 'Things will work out, sometimes they just take time,' should have been the tip off. But he hadn't expected this, and some small part of him felt like he had failed her.
"Well, congratulations, Amanda," Francine gave her a smug smile. "Don't be a stranger," she patted Amanda on the arm then headed to Billy's office.
"Mrs. King, we're sorry to see you go, you've been a big help to all of us. But, I'm sure you'll enjoy working with Jordan," Billy offered. "Scarecrow, I'll need you in my office," he commented to Lee before reaching to shake Amanda's hand. "Goodbye, Amanda, and good luck." He walked off toward his office, leaving them standing alone.
"Yeah … I'll be right there, Billy," Lee called after him. As he looked into Amanda's eyes, he wasn't sure what he saw, or what he felt. There was a tightness in his chest he couldn't explain, and he had an urgent need to be away from her before … 'Before what?' a voice inside asked.
"Amanda, I've got to go," he gestured over his shoulder.
"Lee, I … you know I have to …" she struggled with an explanation.
"I know," he reassured her. "Look, can we talk about this later? Huh? I'll, uh … I'll call you," he waved to her as he quickly walked away.
Standing by Billy's office window, he watched her leave, and the tightness in his chest wouldn't go away.
That had been the last time he'd seen Amanda – one week ago at the Agency. He had called her the next day, only because he realized he never even congratulated her. The conversation had been brief; he still didn't know what to say other than 'Good luck.' Something didn't feel right, but he resisted examining it further.
Now, he was headed to a meeting with Byron Jordan to review security plans for President Nabuti's upcoming visit. If he had a moment alone with Jordan, maybe he would ask about Amanda.
Lee entered the Agency conference room, pleased with himself that he was only five minutes late. The room was dimly lit to allow viewing of the slide show on the front screen. He quickly looked around the table, then he saw her. Amanda sat at the front of the room with her back to the door but, like everyone else, had turned when he entered. Lee knew Byron Jordan was part of this meeting, but hadn't expected to see her.
He gave an apologetic grin to Billy and moved to sit in the only empty chair, at the back of the room.
Everyone returned their attention to the projection screen. From where Lee sat, he could easily see Amanda while appearing to watch the slide show. He caught himself studying her as she studied the photos, maps and blueprints of everything involved in President Nabuti's security plan.
As each new picture flashed on the screen, Billy gave a detailed explanation of the person and their involvement – friends traveling with the Nabuti family, the President's staff, Jordan Security personnel. Then the maps that showed the sites of the President's visit, where he would be staying, and the routes that would be used.
It was Byron Jordan's turn to review the security plans for the mansion where President Nabuti and his entourage would stay during their two-day visit. As he stood to speak to the group, Amanda handed him a folder, whispered to him while pointing out some notes on the front, and smiled encouragingly at him. Lee didn't miss a moment of the exchange, and wondered why it left him feeling so irritable.
Jordan's presentation was thorough, and his security plan seemed flawless; Lee couldn't fault him on any of his items.
"As a final 'fail safe' step to all of this, there will be a hidden, exterior override to the system," Byron stated as the slide show ended and the lights came up. "You see, once the system is armed, the occupants of the home are secure; however, the opposite is also true. Security would be so tight that, in the event of a hostage situation in the home, any attempt at a rescue from the outside would be difficult, at best. Probably dangerous."
His eyes scanned the room to judge their reaction before continuing; "Only a few, select people in my company will know the location and access code to the override system. The less people who know, the more effective the idea."
"Byron, I have to tell you, I'm impressed with this last piece," Billy interrupted. "Naturally, protecting the occupants of the home is important, but to consider that a security system could be used against them … well, that really takes some forethought."
"I agree, but I can't take credit for the idea. Amanda proposed it when we toured the home earlier in the week."
All eyes turned to her as some people offered their compliments, but at the mention of her name she had shyly lowered her eyes. When she looked back to the group, then specifically at Lee, her cheeks had an attractive flush and she wore an embarrassed smile; but her eyes betrayed that she was pleased by the recognition.
"Alright people," Billy began the wrap-up. "Unless anyone has any questions, I think we're through here for now."
As they stood and began to leave the meeting, Lee noticed Jordan place his hand on the small of Amanda's back to guide her from the room. A pang of … jealousy? … hit him. He remembered how natural it felt to have his own hand resting there, and how easily she responded to his touch – just as if he were leading her on a dance floor.
"Amanda?" he called out to her as she and Jordan crossed the bullpen. "Do you have a minute?"
She looked to Byron and said, "I'll be right with you."
"Okay," he smiled at her. "I'll wait by the elevator."
"Hi." Lee looked into her eyes and couldn't help the grin that spread to show his dimples. It seemed longer than a week since he'd last seen her.
"Hi," she returned his smile and shoved her hands into her jacket pockets. "How've you been?"
"Oh, I've been great. You?" He couldn't resist reaching out to touch her arm. "Everything going okay?"
"Oh, yeah. Everything's going … great. I haven't been shot at once," she laughed. He removed his hand and joined her laughter, happy they were able to relax with one another.
"Well, that's good," he winked at her. In a more serious tone, he continued, " I, uh, wanted to tell you … that idea in there … Well, Amanda, that's really something. You should be proud of yourself."
"L-e-e-e …" she drew out his name as she rolled her eyes. "I got that idea while working with you."
"What? We never had anything …" he was totally confused.
"Don't you remember … the whole Alan Squires and P-WAC thing?" She shifted her weight to one foot and cocked her head to the side. When he was still bewildered, she continued, "While I was using the stopwatch to time you, it occurred to me that an exterior override for that kind of a security system could be useful, in case anyone ever decided to lock everybody in."
"You never said anything to me about that," he replied skeptically.
As if it were second nature to her, she reached to straighten his tie. It was a gesture she had picked up somewhere along the way – something she did when trying to explain herself to him. "Well, it didn't apply to that situation, but if it weren't for you …"
"Now hold it … you came up with that idea on your own. Nothing in that whole P-WAC deal even suggested this," he reached up to smooth his straightened tie. "It's good thinking on your part."
"Really?" she sounded surprised, and pleased.
"Really. Must be that logical mind of yours," he teased her with a smile.
"Amanda," Byron called from the doorway, "I'm sorry to interrupt, but I have another meeting at the office in fifteen minutes."
"I'll be right there," she turned to reply.
"Okay, I'll get the elevator. Lee, good seeing you again," he waved before heading to the elevator lobby.
"Yeah, you too," Lee waved back, although Byron was already gone. He returned his attention to Amanda and saw a wistful look on her face; he wondered briefly if it reflected his own.
"Well, I've gotta go," she gestured toward Byron with a shrug. She seemed reluctant to leave, and as their eyes met that tightness in his chest returned. He tried to think of when he might see her again. "You take care of yourself, Lee."
"Yeah … you too, Amanda," he said with more ease than he felt. "I'll see you around."
Later that evening he was headed to Arlington. This had gotten to be an almost daily routine while she was with the Agency; to review the day or ask any last minute questions, he'd told himself. But now … why was he headed there now? He convinced himself he had a hunch. Something was wrong, and he always followed his hunches. That had proved useful in the past when he'd averted disaster by just listening to his inner voice. Sometimes it was catching a terrorist before they had a chance to harm someone – sometimes it was avoiding a run-in with an ex-girlfriend while he was with his newest.
His sense of urgency was getting stronger the closer he got to Amanda's house, and he eased down on the accelerator a little more. As he pulled onto her street, he was pleased to see his favorite parking spot open; the one on the side street that allowed visibility of the home, without being easily spotted in the dark.
He turned off the ignition and sat for a moment. The home certainly looked quiet, although some lights still glowed on the first floor. In fact, the whole neighborhood was quiet. He turned the key just enough to light the dashboard and check the clock – 10:30. No wonder suburbia seemed tucked in for the night.
He was about to get out of the car and walk his familiar path when he saw headlights swing around the corner and head toward him on Maplewood. He moved his hand back to the steering wheel from the door handle and prepared to wait. As he watched, the car slowed, then stopped at 4247. 'Who the hell would be visiting at this time of night,' he wondered irritably. The thought that he was also visiting 'at this time of night' didn't occur to him.
Several minutes passed and no one stepped out of the car. Lee was about to get out of the 'Vette and roust the guy – certain someone must be casing Amanda's house – when he saw Byron Jordan exit the car, then walk around to the passenger's side and assist … Amanda.
'What the hell? Why does he have her working such late hours? Doesn't he realize she has a family to take care of?'
Then he noticed what Amanda was wearing – a white dress made of a flowing fabric, belted at the waist, with the hemline of the flared skirt a couple inches above her knees. The high heels she wore accentuated the curve of her legs and, for a moment, he had a vision of how perfect those heels and that dress would look on a dance floor.
He imagined how it felt to hold her while she gracefully followed his every lead. He would pull her closer – close enough to inhale her fragrance and feel her warm breath on his cheek. With her left arm draped over his shoulder, her fingers would lightly touch his neck just above the collar.
The distant sound of a motorcycle running through its gears brought him back to reality, and he again focused on Amanda's house. She and Byron were standing at the front door; he said something to make her laugh. As she reached for the door handle, then looked back up at him, Byron leaned in and gave her a kiss goodnight.
The muscle in Lee's jaw flexed as he clenched his teeth. 'So that's what he's after,' he thought, then immediately regretted it. It wasn't fair to Amanda or her abilities. Plus, he knew Jordan to be a decent guy, not deceitful and certainly not someone who would use Amanda like that.
He sat in his car for a few minutes after Jordan left, debating what to do. Obviously Amanda was in no danger, so he really should just head home to Georgetown and pour himself a scotch. Instead, he opened the car door and headed to her backyard.
As he rounded the corner, he was still hidden by the trellis. Amanda had just stepped out onto the patio. She paused a moment, taking in the clear, cool evening. Lee noticed her high heels had been discarded and she was in her stocking feet; somehow, that looked just as appealing.
She smiled slightly, headed to the outside faucet to fill a watering can, then began attending to each of the flower-filled pots dotting her patio.
As he watched, Lee debated whether or not to let her know he was there. What excuse could he possibly give her for being in her garden at almost 11:00 at night? However, the urge to talk to her, to hear her voice, got the better of him and he stepped into the soft glow of the porch light.
"Hi," he said softly. She barely even seemed startled, almost as though she were expecting him.
"Hi, yourself," she replied with a smile. "What in the world are you doing here?"
"I, um …," he hesitated as a small wave of panic came over him. 'Think, Stetson!' he encouraged himself. "I, uh … need to see about a follow-up meeting with Byron on this security deal, and hoped you could help me." He thought this was better than nothing.
A confused look crossed Amanda's face, as she studied him for a moment. "Well, I'd have to check his schedule, and my calendar is at the office …??" she answered hesitantly.
"Oh. Okay, I thought maybe you kept your calendar with you or something, but we can talk about it tomorrow …" he trailed off.
"Is there something wrong? I mean, has something come up since this afternoon?" she asked, clearly concerned.
"No, nothing specific," he answered as he shook his head and shoved his hands in his pockets. "Just … need to review a few things."
"Lee? Do we … do you know anything more about who wants to assassinate President Nabuti?" He noticed Amanda quickly corrected herself.
"No," he ran his hand through his hair in frustration. "We know an assassination team is here, but we don't have anything more definite to go on. That's what has me so antsy." He leaned against the wall, crossed his arms in front of his chest and just stared up at the stars. He didn't want to leave, but he also didn't know what else to say.
"Are you okay? You seem … distracted." She really did know him too well.
"I'm fine …it's just this case has me on edge," he said with a little more force than was necessary. He shrugged apologetically, then tried to explain, "You know, despite the best security in the world, something can go wrong."
"I know, but Lee … he has the best protection possible," she said softly as she reached out to run her right hand over his lapel – near his heart.
His eyes met hers and he had the feeling he would get lost in her gaze – the rest of the world disappeared and it was just the two of them. As she pulled her hand away, he reached up to capture it, placed it back on his chest and held it there. "Amanda, I …" he hesitated, not sure what he was feeling, or what he wanted to say. His free hand found her waist and he pulled her closer. Her lips were slightly parted, her mouth inviting. He leaned closer to her, just inches from that invitation.
The bright flash of the fluorescent light in the kitchen broke the spell.
"Amanda?" Dotty's voice could be heard through the open window above the kitchen sink.
"Out here Mother," she responded while pulling away from Lee. "I'm … uh …watering the flowers. I'll be right in."
"Oh, don't bother. I'm just looking for the aspirin."
"It's in the cabinet with the coffee cups," Amanda gestured to Lee to lean further into the shadows.
"Found them. This sinus headache is killing me," Dotty continued to speak while filling a glass at the kitchen faucet. "Don't stay out there too long, Amanda. It's pretty chilly tonight."
"Oh, I won't. Goodnight, Mother," as she heard Dotty's heels on the kitchen floor, and they were once again bathed in soft light when she turned off the fluorescent.
"Goodnight, Amanda," Dotty called while heading back upstairs.
Lee cleared his throat, then, "I'd, ahh …" he gestured toward the rear gate. "I'd better be going. I'll let myself out."
"Okay. Well, I'll call you in the morning about the meeting," she said softly as she set the watering can down by the back door.
"Your meeting with Byron …?"
"Oh, yeah … we'll talk tomorrow."
"Goodnight, Lee," as she turned the doorknob and prepared to leave him.
"Yeah … goodnight, Amanda."
She called him the next morning, and they scheduled a meeting at Jordan Security's offices for the following day. Lee was going to have to come up with some topic of discussion for that meeting, since at the moment he didn't have a clue.
He had actually tried to set the meeting for that evening, after hours. But Amanda told him she and Byron had plans for a business dinner. It didn't escape Lee's attention that the 'business dinner' started at 8 o'clock, and was at his home. Yeah, sure. Business.
… Then, on to the original script …