***DISCLAIMER*** Scarecrow and Mrs. King is copyrighted to Warner Brothers and Shoot the Moon Production Company. The story is copyrighted to the author. This story is for entertainment purposes only and cannot be redistributed without the permission of the author. Some dialogue and situations have been taken from the episodes, "The Times They Are A Changin' " written by Mark Lisson and Bill Froehlich and "Photo Finish" written by David Brown.

Title: Oof! (Title by Suzanne)

Author: Dottie

Date Written : June 2002

Rating: G

Synopsis: A series of vignettes in the life of Lee Stetson.

Author's Notes: This story was written in response to the title challenge posted on the SMK Fanfic list. Thank you to Emily Ann for instigating this title challenge. It's been a lot of fun! And, thanks to Suzanne for supplying this particular title. Last, but not least, thank you Ceeg for beta reading this for me. Feedback welcome of course.

Archive: ff.net and SMK Fanfic archive. Others, please ask.

*****

Oof!

"Oof!"

Lee Stetson was fighting for his life - at least that was how it felt. He had recently been recruited by a secret counterintelligence organization known only as "The Agency" and was undergoing an intensive training program designed to either hone the physical and mental skills of the successful candidates --- or to winnow out the unworthy. He intended to be in the former category. After bouncing around several different universities and part-time jobs, he had finally found something that he wanted to do.

After being expelled from his first university, his uncle had wanted him to sign up with the military, of course. He had told Lee that, "Since higher education's not what you want, let the military make a man out of you!" The Colonel had obviously thought he was being magnanimous by not insisting on which branch of the military Lee was to join. But enlisting in the military was the last thing Lee wanted to do. He felt like he had been enlisted since he was five years old and had gone to live with the Colonel.

Right now, they were undergoing training in hand-to-hand combat. He had taken some self defense courses while growing up, and he thought he was in pretty good physical condition. The instructors were trying to prove him wrong. He had just taken a blow to the midsection that had knocked the wind out of him. He was doubled over, trying to catch his breath, when he realized that the instructor was making an example of him.

"When you're fighting an enemy agent, you're not going to have time to fall back and catch your breath. He'll use that opportunity to finish you off!" Jake Gamble was warning them.

Lee quickly straightened up and took a defensive stance. He had been in many fights during his life, from the playground to barrooms, and already knew that he shouldn't have let his guard down. But being hit in the stomach and having the wind knocked out of him was something he had never gotten used to. Even when kidding around with the guys, he had always hated the sickening sensation accompanied by a blow to the solar plexus.

"Are you ready, Mr. Stetson?" Gamble asked, preparing to take the offensive once again.

"Give it your best shot!" answered the cocky young man.

*******************************

"Oof!"

Amanda had just whacked him in the stomach with her tour book! Whenever Lee Stetson found himself in a hand-to-hand combat situation, he knew how to harden the muscles of his abdomen to avoid having the wind knocked out of him. But he hadn't anticipated her reaction. Here he was, dressed as a priest, when a lovely young blonde had approached him about hearing her confession. After relating this to Amanda, she had given him an incredulous look, followed by a softly muttered, "You wouldn't!"

"No, I wouldn't," he assured her. He glanced back at the blonde once more, then returned his gaze to Amanda. He should have left it at that, but she was so easily shocked, so naïve sometimes, that he couldn't help but add more. "It might be interesting though," he continued with a sly smile.

That was when she had whacked him, giving him a disgusted look, as well. All right, maybe he had deserved that. She didn't know what he would or wouldn't do to protect his cover. Nevertheless, he enjoyed teasing her at times. A slight blow to the stomach was a small price to pay.

***********************************

"Oof!"

They were in the theater trying to meet with "The Green Dragon" in order to clear Amanda's name. As they were waiting, his eyes had wandered to the showing of "Leather Kittens" - definitely not a Truffaut film - onscreen. What started out as a glance had become a stare, as he became fascinated by the images he saw there. That was when she had whacked him in the stomach with her hand.

The answering look he had given her had been faintly angry at first, then had immediately softened at her look of disapproval.

"All right. Let's get him out of here, OK? Get him back to Sparkman's office?"

"Thank you very much," she gratefully responded.

"Yeah," he answered with a sigh

She then hazarded a glance herself, and turned back toward him, shaking her head.

Obviously, he knew that she had been married before. But sometimes she was just so innocent, so wholesome, that he had to remind himself that she was a different class of woman than the ones he had dated in the past. The truth was, he would give a hundred Randi's, or Candi's, or Cindi's for the one Amanda that he had. When he looked back on the empty lifestyle he used to lead, he didn't know how he had been so lucky as to find her, or to win her heart. Now they had to clear her name at the Agency, or he would be forced to choose between her and his job. It was no contest, really. She was everything to him, and he would give up his job in a heartbeat if keeping it meant having to give up his association with her.

He was pulled out of these thoughts as an explosion ripped through the screening room, sending shock waves throughout the theater.

*******************************

"Oof!"

The football he was holding close to his stomach knocked the wind out of him as he went crashing to the ground, Amanda on top of him. It was the day after Thanksgiving, and they had both taken the day off. They were spending it picnicking in the park with the boys and Dotty. The game of football had begun shortly after they had finished eating.

He had never been so glad to be tackled. Swiftly, he turned over, encircling his tackler with his arms, stretching toward her to steal a quick kiss. The mystery marriage had finally been revealed to all about a month earlier, and he couldn't be happier. At last he was free to be affectionate with her in public, without having to glance around to see who might be looking.

"Aw, come on guys, we're never gonna finish this game if you two keep stopping to smooch," complained Phillip loudly.

Jamie and Dotty just smiled down at the two, waiting for the game to resume.

"I guess that means we ought to get up," Amanda commented dryly, her eyes flashing mischievously, as she rolled to the side, beginning to get up.

"I guess so, Mrs. Stetson," he answered, as she held out her hand to help him up as well.

**********************

"Oof!"

A diminutive three-year-old projectile had just landed atop Lee Stetson's midsection, simultaneously waking him up and knocking the wind out of him.

"Daddy, are you awake?" a small voice asked curiously. "Mommy said I could ask you if we could go to the zoo today, but only if you were awake."

"I'm awake, Sport," he managed to answer. "But what's this about the zoo?"

"I want to go to the zoo today," the little boy continued exuberantly. "And we can see the elephants, and the lions, and the tigers!" After saying the word 'tigers', he held up his hands, curling his fingers in his best imitation of two tiger paws, simultaneously letting out a ferocious roar. "Rowwr."

"Oh no! I've got a fierce tiger getting ready to attack me!" Lee responded, holding up his hands in mock horror.

"Daddy, it's just me!" Matthew said, smiling at his father's reaction.

Just then, Amanda arrived in the doorway, bearing two steaming mugs of coffee.

"Matthew, did you wake your father up?" she asked, a mock stern expression on her face.

"No Mommy, when I asked him if he was awake, he said yes. But he still hasn't told me if we can go to the zoo. Can we, Daddy, please?" the small child begged insistently.

"Sure thing. But let me have my coffee first, then a quick shower. What do you say, Matthew?"

"Hooray! The zoo, the zoo!" he crowed, his body bouncing with each cry.

Lee gently lifted him off of his stomach and pulled himself into a sitting position as Amanda approached the bed with the coffee.

Sitting there in the warmth of his family, he wondered what he had ever had against having the wind knocked out of him. Thinking back, some of the best moments in his life had started out with an Oof!

The End