Disclaimer: 'Scarecrow and Mrs. King' is the property of Warner Brothers and Shoot-the-Moon Productions. I make no money from the story and no copyright infringement is intended.
Credits: References are made to the following episode: 'Tail of the Dancing Weasel'
Time Frame: Season 3 Post 'Tail of the Dancing Weasel'
"So, Amanda..." The newest director of the Q was sprawled on his green leather sofa quite comfortably, looking around the tidy room with no small measure of satisfaction. It looked a lot different than the week before. He'd gotten a lot done in that short amount of time.
"Yes?" His partner poked her head out of the vault, a spot of dirt on her cheek. Her dark curls were looking a little wild, too. Behind her a tall stack of file folders listed dangerously. Her eyes narrowed at the sight of her 'boss'. Not a hair out of place, what a surprise.
"I think, now that I've gotten this place cleaned up..."
Amanda's eyes widened incredulously. He cleaned the office?
"... it's looking a little bare. It needs something. Since it's my place, I think it should reflect a bit of my personality, don't you think?" His voice was smug as he laced his fingers behind his neck. He'd done a pretty terrific job of getting this place in order, if he had to say so himself. Granted, Amanda had helped a little.
"I see. What do you have in mind?" She stepped back to catch the files before they fell to the floor. This should be good. Wonder where he's going to put the mini-bar.
"Professional, of course, but not too stuffy. This is my first office, you know. It has to give the right impression."
His voice trailed off as she returned to her task. The vault was still a disaster. Everything which couldn't immediately be explained had been shoved in here to take care of later. Later began now. There was no way she could work in here until boxes were sorted through, emptied, and put away. Maybe she should've taken Mr. Melrose up on his offer for help. She could use a body or two from the steno-pool.
That's right, it couldn't have been anyone from Lee's favorite playpen. No one there had high enough clearance. It would've been another agent... and her luck it would've been Francine 'watch-out-for-my-manicure' Desmond. Then she would have two of them on the couch, patting themselves on the back. Amanda already knew Francine's way of sorting. She just moved things from one pile to another, which only accomplished a bigger mess. No thanks!
The phone trilled quietly from the desk. "Stetson. Yeah, I'll be right down."
A shadow fell across the open doorway. "That was Billy. He needs to see me downstairs. You got this?"
Her partner gave her a charming smile. Her response was dry. "Yeah, I think I can handle it."
"Great! I'll bring you back a sandwich or something."
"No chicken salad!"
A few hours and several empty boxes later, Amanda was putting the last file in the bottom drawer. She looked over the neat space with satisfaction. All she had left was the mountain of evidence which didn't belong up here. All the reports were filed and she'd taken the extra effort of cross-referencing the things she'd cart down to Evidence lock-up by both case number and Agent of Record. Thank goodness for the freight elevator.
She stepped out of the vault, wiping her hands with a paper towel. She had to agree with Lee, the office definitely didn't look like the same place they'd edged their way into just a week ago. It had been a disaster, with only tiny paths winding between the stacks of boxes and files.
Sinking into the comfortable sofa, she took a few moments to appreciate the results of her labors. Not that she was done, of course. There were inches of dust along the mop board and it looked like several generations worth of spiderwebs were clinging in the corners. Should she leave the housekeeping to Ragmop? He was awfully busy.
Amanda wondered idly where Lee was with lunch. She couldn't go out anywhere looking like this, that was certain. Maybe she should start keeping a change of clothes here, just in case. Mother was certain to notice this stain. She didn't even want to contemplate what it might be. She was probably going to have to toss this blouse too. Her wardrobe sure had taken a beating since she'd accepted that package two years ago.
Breaking the stillness, Lee's phone rang from the desk. "Hello? Of course, sir. I'll be right down."
The normally tidy brunette looked at her clothes ruefully, then shook her head. She'd bring in a bag tomorrow. There was room in the coat closet, and she was sure Lee wouldn't mind. She would be coming in anyway, even though it was Saturday. She wouldn't be able to get any work done in here with all the dirt distracting her.
"What happened to you?" Francine looked at Amanda with disbelief.
"Some of the things in the boxes were a bit sticky. There was a bag with a hole in it, and it leaked all over me when I pulled it... Never mind. You needed to see me, sir." Amanda knew she was a mess. Did Francine always have to point out the obvious?
"Yes, Amanda. How are things looking in the vault? Are you ready for more yet?"
"I just finished going through the last of the boxes. Evidence for lock-up has been sorted and is ready to be brought down. How much more?" Amanda was proud of her accomplishment. It appeared, however, she wasn't done yet.
"I'll have someone bring up the rest from storage. Shouldn't be more than 10 to 12. They'll deliver them after lunch. You'll need to sign." He knew Amanda had been perfect for this!
"I'll be waiting. I should have them finished by day's end. Can I send the stuff for Evidence back with them, or do I need to do that myself?"
"That should be fine. Just send it down with them. I'll give Paretti a head's up. You're doing a fine job, Amanda."
"Thank you sir. Excuse me, I'll just wait for Lee up in the Q. He said he was bringing me back a sandwich." Flushed with pleasure-tinged embarrassment, she edged towards the door. That stain was starting to smell funny. She needed to get to a sink and see if she could rinse it out... hopefully before it set.
Carefully balancing two bags, Lee opened his door to his office. He liked the sound of that. His door, his office. His half-naked partner disap... what? "Amanda? What are you doing?"
"O my gosh! What are you doing here? Get out!"
He settled the bags on his desk, and walked over to the vault where Amanda was hiding. Maybe this afternoon was going to be a bit more interesting than he thought.
"Amanda, this is my office. I don't have to leave."
"O Lee, I spilled something on my blouse. It started smelling funny, so I tried to wash it. And, then … well... look!" Amanda's blouse came flying out the cracked door. He caught a glimpse of bare arm and what looked like pink lace before it hit him in the face.
"C'mon, it can't be that bad. Just put it back on, we'll have lunch, and you can go home to change. It's not like you've not gotten something on you before. Just tell your mother an ink cartridge exploded or something."
"You didn't even look at it, did you?"
Humoring her, he held up the shirt, expecting to see a tiny spot. A hole the size of his hand, and rapidly growing, met his eyes instead. "How...?"
"I don't know! A bag was dripping, and it must've leaked on my blouse. I tried to wash it in the ladies' room but it wouldn't come out. By the time I got back up here I had a hole! I think I have a sweater on the back of your chair, can you hand it here," came her irritated reply.
Lee dropped the blouse into an empty box waiting for recycling quickly. He didn't want to take a chance of getting whatever it was on it on him as well. Glancing about, he failed to find the requested sweater and instead offered his sport coat. "Here, put this on."
"Thank you." She gratefully slipped into his jacket. Holding the lapels closed with her hand, she stepped out with a box under her left arm. "I don't know what this stuff is. I can't find a co-ordinating file and it's not labeled."
"Let's eat, and we'll take it down to the lab. I'm sure they'll figure something out."
"I can't go downstairs like this! I'm not wearing a blouse. What will everyone think?" She was honestly shocked at the thought.
"Yeah, you're right. I think I have a t-shirt in my locker. I'll check when I take this stuff down. Now let's eat." A top-less Amanda wandering around the building just didn't bear thinking about. "I hope you're hungry. I got Thai from that new place around the block."
"We're going to have to get some paper plates up here. One of those dorm refrigerators too. It would be nice not to have to go down to the breakroom for something to drink." With the shirt problem solved, Amanda was more than willing to change the subject. Her current predicament was just too embarrassing. It was much better to discuss how to fix up the Q to suit both their needs.
"Hey, that's a great idea. I wonder if there's one down in storage. We'll have to check it out." They chatted comfortably while they ate, exchanging cartons back and forth. It was really nice to have their own space where they could just talk and not worry about needing to watch every word. There were always ears about, whether they were eating in the breakroom or at a restaurant. The Q really was a blessing in disguise.
Amanda settled back in Lee's chair for a moment, nibbling on a pot sticker thoughtfully. She held a cup of jasmine tea in her other hand, unaware of the fact her borrowed jacket had fallen open at the top. The deep navy lapels coyly offered soft swelling cleavage framed in rose lace to the stunned gaze of the man sitting on the desk's edge.
He froze, his fingers instinctively tightening around the paper cup in his hand. Iced tea splashed down the front of him. Ice cubes fell to the floor when he jumped off the desk. He wiped at his white dress shirt ineffectively, swearing under his breath. "Great!"
His companion immediately sprang to his rescue, napkins in hand. She dabbed at him a few times before he managed to get them away from her, while holding his jacket closed with her free hand. "Amanda, I can handle it. I am a grown man, you know."
There was a sharp rap at the door before it opened. "Mrs. King, here are those boxes."
Amanda squeaked and dove for the closet. She slammed the door just as the first of twelve men started wheeling heavily laden carts into the office, heading for the vault. Lee watched dumbfounded as his previously neat office sprouted new mountains of more paperwork.
Ragmop pushed an empty cart out of the vault and brought a clipboard to him. "Well, your scrawl will work just as well as hers. Sign here."
"What's all this?"
"We're bringing the stuff up that's supposed to be up here. Crawford ran out of room, so we've been storing it down in Records. Now that there's room..." Ragmop's voice trailed off as he looked around. "I must admit, she's done a really nice job in here. Doesn't even look like the same place. My compliments to Mrs. King."
"Yeah, thanks. Since you have all these empty carts, why don't you take this stuff away. Amanda's already gone through this stack here. She said something about them needing to go to Evidence. When she gets back, I'll have her go down and talk to Paretti."
The men loaded up the empty carts with the evidence boxes quickly. They left, leaving Ragmop and Lee alone in the room while Amanda lurked in the closet. Picking up the last box, the handyman walked backwards towards the door. "This must've been an interesting one. Looks like a lady's blouse. Whoa!"
Ragmop stepped on a stray ice cube from Lee's tea and slipped backwards, the box pitching forward at the same time. Not only was Amanda's blouse in there, so was the mystery liquid Lee was going to take to the lab.
Lee put his arms up protectively as the bag flew through the air. It broke on impact with his forearms, and spilled its contents down the front of him. A foul stench immediately filled the room. Ragmop beat a hasty retreat, his ears filled with Lee's resounding expletives.
Amanda sat hunched in the chair, looking at the remnants of Lee's shirt. It wasn't her fault. She hadn't even been in the room. Her irate partner paced the little bit of floor not filled with more boxes to be filed, running his hands through tawny hair. She peeked up at him cautiously.
"Yeah, me too. At least my pants weren't wet. What is that stuff anyway?"
She swallowed nervously, taking in his powerful form. Wow! Nice tan! "I don't know. Like I said before, nothing was labeled. Whatever it is, it's really effective. What are we gonna do? I can't find my sweater anywhere. It must be in the bullpen with my purse."
"Maybe Mrs. Marsten could bring up one of the jackets in the elevator."
"I'm not calling her! You do it!"
"Well, I'm not gonna call her! I shouldn't have to, I still have a jacket at least!"
"Not until I have something to put on you don't!"
"Fine, then you go down and get a coat out of the elevator!"
"Wearing only this jacket? Are you crazy? Someone will see me!"
"One of us has to go! Give me my jacket..."
Lee put his hand on Amanda's shoulder, planning on wrestling her out of the jacket. "You can wait right here, I'll be right back."
She slapped his hand sharply, twisting away. "No I will not! Anyone could walk in here while you're gone. What would I say? … Hello, Francine."
"Hello works for me. I'll just be gone..." Lee's voice died away as he turned to see what Amanda had already. He gave a weak laugh. "Francine. It's not what you think."
The blonde just looked from one to the other, taking in their undress. "Stetson, you don't want to know what I'm thinking. At this moment, I don't want to know what I'm thinking. I came up to tell you Billy is looking for you. Maybe it's best I tell him neither of you are here?"
She shut the door quickly, shaking her head as she walked toward the stairs. Why did she never have a camera?
"Amanda, is that a new blouse? I don't remember seeing it before. Weren't you wearing pink when you left this morning?"
"Well, Mother. I had a little accident with an ink cartridge today. I had to get a new blouse, and throw the other one away. It was ruined."
"That film company sure is rough on your clothes, dear. Maybe you should ask for a clothing allowance."
"Mother, you have no idea."