DISCLAIMER: Scarecrow & Mrs. King and all its characters belong to Warner Brothers and Shoot the Moon Enterprises. I'm just borrowing the characters for a while but promise to return them unharmed when I'm done.
PUBLICATION HISTORY: written September/October 2012; first published October 2012
AUTHOR'S NOTE: While watching the 2nd season episode "Burn Out", I felt that there was not enough reflection on how Lee being forced to shoot Amanda would affect either of them. So here's my attempt to rectify that by supplementing some character insights for key scenes.
by Hester (hester4418)
Lee leveled his gun and pointed it straight at Amanda. She did not flinch. He could see fear in her eyes, but it wasn't fear of him.
Hell, he couldn't believe he was actually going through with this. He berated himself for not seeing any other way out of the situation, but there had been no opportunity to act without jeopardizing the cover he had worked so hard to establish. During the ride he hadn't dared sneak a glance at Amanda. Things might have been different if she had argued or pleaded with him, but she remained uncharacteristically silent. After he had slapped her the other day, he had been relieved and also a little shamefaced by how easily she had forgiven him, but now he feared that some repercussions of that unfortunate incident still lingered between them after all. Harris and Brackin were watching them both closely and there was no way to communicate his plan to Amanda. Lee could only hope that she would catch on quickly and not panic.
His hands were sweating and he cursed inwardly. It was bad enough that this was an unfamiliar gun. He had no way of knowing whether it fired straight or if the bullet would veer off in one direction, and the stakes were much too high for that kind of uncertainty.
He looked at her, keeping his face blank. When he pulled the trigger, he fully expected his heart to stop.
She tumbled down toward the lake, rolling over and over and over until her descent was forcefully halted by a large bush. There she lay, unmoving. Clenching his hands to hide his trembling, Lee tried to ascertain if she was hurt. He could not see any blood, which was good, but since he did not know what kind of bullet he had fired at her, he could not be sure if he had really managed to miss her. With the right kind of ammunition superficial damage was minimal, but when the bullet exploded on impact it would tear the victim up from the inside.
Lee quickly turned away and slapped the gun into Brackin's hand with an off-hand comment. Then he walked back to the car, trying to affect an air of detached indifference to mask his worry. He willed the two men to follow him so they could get on with business.
The worst part was that it would likely be several hours before he would know if Amanda was okay.
When the shot rang out, Amanda whirled around and dropped to the ground, purposely throwing herself down the incline. She had never been shot before, but over the past couple of months she had witnessed her fair share of gunfights and hoped she was giving a convincing performance. Luckily the terrain sloped down gradually toward the edge of the lake; it was just steep enough to give her fall some momentum while the grass and loose soil cushioned part of the impact. Still, it hurt. In fact it hurt so much that she wasn't sure if maybe Lee had really shot her. She prayed that she wouldn't hit her head and pass out, because then their little charade would be in vain.
Abruptly her body hit an obstacle and she had the wind knocked out of her. Lying very still and trying to breathe as shallowly as possible, she strained to make out whether they were coming to check on her.
Apparently her and Lee's performance had indeed been convincing because neither Harris nor Brackin deemed it necessary to make sure that she was really dead. Oblivious to Amanda's eavesdropping, Brackin spelled out the rest of his plan to his associate - they would use Lee to get their hands on Agency money, and then they would kill him as well. Amanda was shocked. This was not how things were supposed to go. If only she could warn Lee, but there was no way to signal him without drawing attention to herself.
The two men finally moved away, and a few moments later Amanda heard their car driving off. As soon as she was sure that they were gone, she got up and brushed the dirt off her hands. When she found the bullet hole in her sweater, she gulped, her throat suddenly dry. She had trusted Lee to miss her, but hadn't expected him to leave so little margin for error. He must have been either very sure of himself or very desperate. Either way, she shuddered to think of how close she had come to being seriously hurt.
Shaking off those thoughts, Amanda turned her mind to the task at hand. She had to find help, and quickly. Since she knew where Harris and Brackin were headed, all she had to do was alert Billy. He would take it from there.
Making her way back to the street, she started looking for a phone.
When the massive truck came hurtling down the access way to Mill Creek Reservoir, Lee didn't know what to make of it. Then he saw a flash of pink bobbing up and down in the passenger seat, and a heavy weight of uncertainty lifted from his heart. Amanda was okay, and somehow she had managed to recruit help. Brackin and Harris were clearly nervous about this unplanned interruption and kept glancing at the ever advancing truck. At long last Lee saw a window of opportunity and he took it, first disarming Brackin and then knocking down Harris. He barely had time to roll out of the way when the truck crashed into the low house, sending bricks and beams flying in every direction.
Then the driver was upon him, roaring like a madman and forcefully separating him from Harris. Too stunned to fight back, Lee just stared as the man prepared to take him out with a blow from his meaty fist. Once again Amanda came to his rescue, calling off her unlikely associate and giving Lee the opportunity to send the trucker after Harris while he himself followed Brackin.
The rest was almost child's play, and they had the two rounded up in the twinkling of an eye. Soaking wet and grinning with satisfaction, Lee couldn't wait to hear Amanda's account of how she had come to be here in the nick of time.
The crowd in the bullpen dispersed and it was finally just the two of them. Even though Lee had just heaped praise on her, Amanda figured that this was the right time to show him something that still weighed on her mind.
Lee's jaw dropped as he observed her toying with her ruined sweater and the way she casually stuck her finger through the hole that had been ripped by the bullet from his gun. When he fired he had been aiming just past her elbow, hoping that if he did hit her it would only be a flesh wound to the arm. Seeing the scorch marks on the garment now, he breathed a silent thank you to the powers that be. He would never have forgiven himself if she had been hurt by his hand.
When Amanda showed the sweater to Lee, his shock did not escape her, even though he immediately covered it up. She resisted the urge to rub the spot where the bullet had lightly grazed her flesh, leaving a scratch that would soon heal. Pumped up on adrenalin as she had been, she had not even noticed it at the time. Only when she had come home that night and stepped into the shower, the hot water running over her skin had caused a slight pain and with a start she had discovered the injury. She had not told anybody about it, and never would.
They both made light of the incident, preferring to joke about it rather than dwell on it. When he kissed her hand, their shared smile affirmed that there would be no hard feelings and that in fact the bond of trust between them was stronger than ever.