Disclaimer: Scarecrow and Mrs King and characters are owned by Shoot the Moon productions. Lines and settings are borrowed from the show as needed. Please infer any other necessary disclaimers.

William "Billy" Melrose and Lee Stetson were in sitting in Billy's office going through the police reports. It was a boring task, but it had to be done. You never knew when a drug bust or homicide would involve somebody of interest to the Agency. They were just lucky to be the ones to get the job this morning.

"Amanda!" Billy gasped as he turned a page.

Lee's head shot up. "What's she done now?" he asked. Amanda in the police reports? Had she been arrested in another misunderstanding? Why hadn't she called him? It was those Agency operators, they were always losing Amanda's messages because they found them confusing. He'd have to talk to them about that.

"According to this, she's committed suicide!"

"Impossible!" Lee protested, shooting to his feet. "Amanda would never commit suicide!" He grabbed the papers from Billy's hands and quickly scanned the report. "This can't be 'our' Amanda... or if it is, it wasn't suicide!"

"Well, what's she been working on?"

"Nothing, Billy. All Amanda's been doing is office work since the Retzig case. We wanted to be sure she was fully recovered from the poison in my chicken sandwich..." Lee's hands clenched, "I'll kill him!" he growled. "If this is an aftereffect of those drugs..."

"Lee, calm down! We don't even know for sure it's her. The report says night before last, wasn't she in yesterday?"

"No, it was her day off. I haven't seen Amanda since sending her to the records center with four boxes the day before yesterday."

"I'm going to call the morgue and find out when we can go see her. Do you want to come?" Lee nodded grimly. "Why don't you go check her desk, see if she's working on anything you don't know about. See if there's anything unusual."

Lee collapsed heavily in Amanda's chair, and stared numbly at her desktop. It was neat as a pin, with few personal touches. A picture of Phillip and Jamie. A small vase of flowers. He looked at her calendar, apart from the ones with him, the appointments were school or charity work related. Nothing for the night before last. Lee cursed himself for not checking up on her; several nights a week he went by Amanda's house to make sure she was OK. Some nights he would speak to her, some nights he would just silently observe her family going about their business. He'd been doing it for at least a year, whenever he didn't have a date. The past couple of months he'd ended more than one date early because he was more interested in seeing what Amanda was up to, than whatever his date was talking about. Ever since San Angelo...

Lee forced his mind from that train of thought. He started opening drawers. The bottom drawer contained a football. "To a heck of a reporter. Best wishes, Sandy Newcomb" he read aloud. Lee smiled, remembering the case, remembering how he'd stopped by her kitchen window with a bottle of champagne to celebrate the end of his 'illustrious football career'. They'd toasted each other, and listened as Dotty relayed the exploits of cousin Iggy. "A double life," Lee rested his head in his hands, it couldn't be true, not Amanda. It was all his fault, he'd dragged her into this business.

And she'd been good at it, Lee reflected, staring at the recipe card for Pilgrim's Peach Puff. Amanda had saved his life on that case, found the answer in clues nobody else could read. Lee knew from the first that he could trust her, trust her like he'd trusted nobody else, not even Billy or Francine. She was different, not hardened by the Agency. Amanda was a lady, she brought out a side in him he never would have believed he had. A side that knew how to behave around a lady, an unusual character in his life, most of the women he knew were not ladies. A side that actually knew how to be friends with a woman, rather than just looking on her as a potential bed partner.

He picked up a Bomber's booster pin. A friend who stood by him, no matter what. Amanda had never believed Lee was an arms dealer, that money could override his loyalty to his country. She had believed Ballon because she'd believed in Lee. And when they'd discovered that the Savior warhead was armed, she hadn't run away like all the others. She'd stayed with him, digging through her purse looking for a pin, and insisting that it would work. The booster pin had to work. And it had. They'd been through a lot of scrapes together, saved each other's lives a dozen times. 'And now I've let her down,' Lee thought in defeat, running his hand through his hair.

"Did you find anything?" Billy asked.

Lee shook his head. "Nothing I didn't already know."

"Well, come on, they're waiting for us to come ID the body. We'll have her brought back to the Agency for an autopsy." Lee winced at the words, his mind protested their use in reference to Amanda. "I'm sorry, Lee," Billy put a comforting hand on his shoulder, "I can handle this if you're not up to it."

"No, it's all right, I can do this." Lee assured him. He had to do this, if Amanda was dead, he had to see it for himself. Until then, he wouldn't believe it.

The attendant ushered them into a small room. In the middle of the room was a cold, metal table. On top of the table lay a figure, covered by a clean, white sheet. Lee stared at the sheet, his throat was dry, his eyes felt so dry they were burning. He braced himself and stepped toward the table, he nodded at the attendant who lifted the sheet, and folded it back down off her face, across her shoulders.

'Thank God!' Lee's mind screamed. "It's not her, Billy! It's not Amanda!" Lee sagged in relief, he moved away from the table and leaned against the wall. "It's not Amanda." He repeated.

"It's Sylvia. Sylvia Sampson. Why would they think she's Amanda King?" Billy wondered. Lee shook his head mutely, he sympathized with Billy for the loss of his friend, but was still recovering from shock and relief. The attendant wasn't relieved, he knew there'd be a ton of paperwork involved in re-assigning the identity of the body. He hated screw-ups like this, but it was out of his hands. Let the Agency deal with it, 'she' was their problem now.

Later, back in Billy's office, Lee and Billy were filling Francine in on the events of the morning. "I almost dropped my teeth when I saw the name of the dead woman," Lee said. Billy smiled to himself, that was putting it mildly! This was no time to needle his friend, though, Sylvia was dead, and they needed to find out why. And why she'd been using Amanda's ID.

Amanda tapped lightly on Billy's door, then came in without waiting for an invitation. Lee smiled broadly, he'd never been so glad to see her. He wanted to give her a big hug, but contented himself with just looking at her, watching her, answering her questions.

"... because on a 'need to know' basis" Amanda declared, holding up the newspaper "I think I needed to know this!"

They quickly explained to Amanda as much as they could from the information they had. Francine left to make some phone calls to Sylvia's office, to try to find out what she was doing in DC. Billy started making phone calls to find out what was needed to resurrect 'Amanda King'. Amanda paced. Lee read Amanda's obituary.

'Kind of short,' he thought, 'Amanda deserves better than this, she's done so much, helped so many people. I'd make sure she had a better obituary than this!' Lee looked up, smiling at the agitated Amanda. "Dead people don't pace." He joked, relieved beyond belief that she was here to joke with. Amanda gave him a 'look', but came over and sat in the chair near where he was perched on Billy's desk. He tried to reassure her, echoing what Billy was saying over the phone.

Billy hung up the phone. Francine returned to the office. Further discussion of Sylvia/Amanda's predicament ensued. Amanda felt guilty for making a big deal, 'I'm not dead, but Sylvia is.' Billy and Francine left the office, Lee lingered.

"I'm sorry to make such a big deal over this," She apologized to him, "It's just that my credit cards and bank accounts are frozen, there's no food in the house, and I only have $4.23 in my pocket."

'Finally, something he could do!' Lee reached into his pocket, "If it's money you need, I could lend you..."

Amanda refused, protesting that she didn't want money, she just wanted the situation resolved. Lee nodded, he understood. He remembered how he'd felt when he was 'dead'... he remembered how Amanda felt when he was 'dead'. Lee excused himself, and went to catch up with Billy and Francine. He returned minutes later.

"Billy said there will be a retraction printed in tomorrow's paper. Amanda, there's no reason for you to hang around here all day. I'm sure you have a million things to do, straightening this out with your friends and neighbors. Let me walk you to your car." Amanda nodded in agreement, and allowed him to guide her out of the office and out to the parking lot. "Are you sure you don't need any groceries, or money, or anything?"

Amanda shook her head. "I'm tired of being dead!" she complained.

"I know, I know," Lee soothed, taking her hands. "Amanda, I want to apologize to you."

Amanda looked at Lee in confusion. "For what? This isn't your fault."

"Not for this," Lee waved his hands in the air, then wrapped his arms around her, hugging her like he'd wanted to do earlier. "I'm referring to the Russell Sinclair case."

"Oh..." Amanda remembered when Billy had told her Lee was dead. She put her arms around his waist, accepting the hug, the comfort. Enjoying his presence. It felt good to be in his arms, she never would have expected Lee to be an affectionate person, but over the past year or so they'd exchanged many hugs. Most were out of comfort or relief when they survived a tough situation. Occasionally it was part of the cover. Sometimes it was just a thank you for listening, for being there, for being a friend. Amanda always felt safe in Lee's arms, like nothing could harm her. She knew he would do anything in his power to protect her. She'd known it from the first, when she'd looked into his eyes and saw somebody who needed her help, and somebody who she could trust.

"I went through hell this morning, Amanda, when I thought you were dead. I'm so glad you're not, so glad that I have a chance to make amends for what I put you through." Amanda started to say something, but Lee stopped her. "No, let me finish. It was my fault you thought I was dead. We already knew we were going to need your help to solve the case, and Billy wanted to tell you from the start that it was all an act. I wouldn't let him, I thought it was better to wait until after the funeral."

"That's all right," Amanda reassured him. "It doesn't matter anymore. We hadn't known each other very long, you weren't familiar with the feelings of a 'civilian'." Lee smiled in relief, nodding, thankful that she was going to forgive him so easily. "But," she stepped away from him, bringing up a finger and poking him in the chest, "You better not ever do that to me again!"

"I promise!" Lee chuckled, raising one hand in the air, he crossed his chest with the other. "If I ever have to fake my death again, you'll be the first to know!"