Disclaimer: Scarecrow & Mrs. King and all characters associated are not mine. But hey, at least this story is, right? I had written one before, but it wasn't read-worthy, so I took it down. I'm giving another shot at SMK fanfic penmanship, and as always, constructive criticism is welcome—anything written with the sole intent of flattery can and will be considered suspicious (Oh, for crying out loud—what am I writing here, the Miranda rights?) . At any rate, let's do this! I'm going to try to go after it through Lee's perspective, though there may be a couple of points in the story that will be 3rd person.

+SMK+

We were through. No, we weren't splitting up. Neither of us wanted out of this marriage. In fact, we've been taking Billy up on his offer for weekends off more often lately. It's weird that not even five years ago, I'd have been kicking down the door of his office, demanding an assignment. In fact, I still deal with that temptation. But taking time off has had greater appeal to me lately, especially where my wife is concerned.

My wife. I still can't get over the fact that I'm married. That would have been off limits, too, five years ago. To think that I'd randomly pick out some woman I didn't know jack squat about to help me "Just this once", only to end up her husband less than four years later… If I were one of those spiritual types, I'd say it was guided. Maybe; maybe not. Whatever happened to ultimately throw us together, I wouldn't trade any of my days with Amanda for anything. No, our marriage wasn't ending.

The deception was. It had to. After the fiasco with my 16 page list of assumed complaints, Amanda and I had a heart-to-heart. We decided to come clean about everything—well, almost. The marriage would be easy, or so we thought. The job situation would be a bit more complicated. How exactly do you explain to your stepsons that you're secretly their mother's husband and a government agent?

Then there's the problem of Joe, Amanda's ex. How can you make it clear to your stepsons that you'll never try to replace their dad? I could see in their eyes that they hoped their parents would get back together. How do you tell them that it won't happen?

My mother-in-law was the easiest to talk to about this. Dotty found out about Amanda and I when she met up with us in California after Amanda was shot. She never said a word, never asked any questions, but it didn't take long for her to figure things out. When we asked her for input, she suggested that we take the boys on a family vacation. Then we could calmly, rationally discuss things with them. So we set things up at a campsite, took a few days off from work, and hoped things would work out.

Well, everything did go well during the trip…until we broke the news. Then things with the boys went into role reversal. Jamie suddenly understood why I'd been going to their house more often, and became surprisingly accepting. I don't doubt he was hurt, but he knew we'd had our reasons, whatever they were, for keeping him out of the loop. Phillip, though, did a 180 degree turn. We went from shooting hoops for hours past sunset to him shooting me a glare every few seconds. But I couldn't be angry with him…I had deceived everyone. Why should he listen to me now? And don't get me started with how he's been treating Amanda, now that he knows the truth. He pretty much ignores her, unless it's absolutely necessary. I hate what I've done, I hate what I convinced Amanda to do, and I hate what this has done to her—to our—family.

But do you know what I hate the most?

Waiting to find out if Phillip will be okay or not.

+SMK+

It all started on the way back from the campground. After endless arguments between Phillip and I, everyone piled into the Wagoneer for a tense ride home. Dotty was crammed between the guys so they wouldn't start fighting. Phillip, sitting behind Amanda, kept his eyes focused on the scenery. Jamie alternated his watch between me and the landscape, as if he was still processing what he knew now.

"Hey, Lee?" he inquired.

I looked back. "Yeah?"

"I forgot to bring my camera with me. Do you think we could go back sometime so I can snap a few pictures?"

Phillip interjected. "You should have just stayed there, Worm-brain."

"Phillip…" Amanda's tone held a strong warning. Phillip glared at me one more time before returning his attention to the background.

I sighed in frustration. I knew I'd caused damage, but this much? I took a look at my other stepson. One look at Jamie told me that he thought I was turning his request down. I smiled to reassure him. "Sure, Champ—why not? Though, we may need to wait until the fall. We were lucky to snag the campgrounds for the weekend first, and the heat there can be torture in the summer. Sound good?"

Jamie gave me a smile and a nod, before returning to his own watch.

Well, I thought, at least Jamie is willing to try again. I hope Phillip comes around soon, though.

None of us, except Jamie, noticed a black car driving next to us.

"Hey, Mom, the guy in the car beside us looks like he needs to talk with you."

With Amanda focused on the road, Dotty and I followed Jamie's line of sight. The other car's rear window went down, and an arm reached out—holding a 9 millimeter!

"EVERYONE! GET DOWN NOW!" I yelled, just before our assailant squeezed the trigger. I felt Amanda hit the brakes as I ducked, and I saw her follow suit just seconds before—

POP! POP! POP!

I heard the others shout in fear, while my wife gripped my hand. The sound of the car speeding away signaled the all-clear, and we all slowly sat up.

"Dotty, are you okay?"

"What?! Am I okay?! My family has just had bullets flying over our heads, and you're asking me if I'm okay?!" Well, at least, she was still herself. "And how many times since this trip started have I told you to call me 'Mother'?" Yeah, she'd be alright.

"Jamie?"

"I'm alright, Lee—I got the license plate num—"

"PHILLIP!"