Time Frame:During 'The Legend of Das Geisterschloss.'
Type:AU filler, because it definitely strays from canon.
Summary:Have you ever wondered what Lee and Amanda did during their free time while in Salzburg? Here's my take on what might have happened the second night with no Billy, no Francine, and, especially, no Mother and the Boys!
Disclaimer:'Scarecrow and Mrs. King' belongs to Warner Brothers and Shoot the Moon Enterprises. The 'Sound of Music' belongs to Twentieth Century Fox. No infringement upon their rights is intended. The story, however, belongs to the author.
Author's Note:If, once you have read this story, you feel that it should be set in the third season, feel free to imagine it that way. I chose not to explore the ramifications of the events I have written in context with the behavior of the characters during the second season. You may, however, want to imagine this story taking the relationship in an entirely different direction. That's okay by me, too. As for me, I see it as a fairy tale, a moment unto itself.
It was late afternoon and the sun was hanging low on the horizon. The clear blue sky was beginning that indescribable shift in color that occurs just before dusk. Shadows had begun to fall across the picturesque buildings that lined the cobblestone streets of Salzburg. The effect was magical. It gave the ancient city an aura of mystery, as if it existed out of time. It could have been a century past and Salzburg would not have appeared any different.
Amanda King sighed as she looked out the window of the rented BMW, taking in the sights. A fantasyland... that's what she'd called it. Even now, two days later, she was still enchanted by her surroundings. Of course, it probably didn't hurt that she was seeing it all in the company of a certain handsome spy. No, that didn't hurt matters at all. Amanda knew, deep down, that seeing the wonders of Salzburg was not all that had her enchanted. It was spending time with Lee Stetson, alone, in a romantic foreign locale that made it all so exciting. A few of her old secret-agent fantasies came flitting back to the surface, only this time it wasn't James Bond she cast as the dashing hero.
Of course, if she was talking fantasies, what better one to recall than the one that originated right there in Salzburg? Amanda loved the Sound of Music. The story of Maria, the slightly addled, overly exuberant young woman who, in trying to find her place in the world, found love as well, had always struck a cord with her. Face it, she and Maria were very similar in some ways. Now, Amanda knew she couldn't sing, but that talent was rarely necessary in the real world. As for Captain von Trapp, had there ever been a more dashing, handsome, stoic leading man? Well, Amanda could think of one. As a matter of fact, the similarities there were pretty striking, too. Lee and the Captain were both so stern when they wanted to be in control of a situation. And both were easily rattled by certain hard-to-control women. In the movie, the Captain had finally realized he was in love with Maria. Maybe...?
Amanda was startled out of her reverie by Lee's voice. An involuntary sigh escaped her lips as she pulled herself back to reality.
"It's just that I hate not being able to do anything," Lee began, picking up on a conversation they were having earlier. "Until we can talk to this Mariana, our hands are as good as tied." He hit his hand against the steering wheel to emphasize his frustration. "Emily is out there somewhere, Amanda."
"I know, and we'll find her. Doesn't Emily always say how important it is to have patience?" she asked, reminding him of what he'd told her earlier that day.
"Yeah, I know, I know." Lee nodded. "But, no matter what I pretend, patience has never been my strongest suit," he added, in a conspiratorial tone.
Amanda smiled. Lee had a way of imparting little insights into his personality, as though she had no idea what he was really like. He was oblivious to the fact that Amanda could see right through him. It was true that, at times, she found him rude and condescending, but she knew that underneath it all lay a caring, sensitive man. She had a glimpse of that other, hidden Lee back in the cafe when he had admitted how worried he was about Emily. When he admitted that Emily was his friend.
Of course, there was something a little thrilling about the Lee Stetson that was sitting beside her now. This Lee was full of pent-up energy, like a clock that had been wound too tight. Lee seemed to be passionate about everything he did, a fact that Amanda had been witness to on many occasions. It made Amanda wonder. If he was this intense when it came to friendship, what was he like in the throes of...?
"What do you say we get some dinner?" Once again, Lee's voice pulled her into the here and now. "I know a great little beisel. It's off the beaten path and full of local color."
Amanda looked over at Lee as he maneuvered through traffic. "That would be nice," she answered.
Suddenly, Amanda remembered how they had spent their afternoon. Her hand flew to her hair, even though she realized it was hopeless to try to repair her appearance.
"Umm, do you think it would be alright if I got cleaned up a little bit first? I don't think the Butch Cassidy look is quite the way I want to go tonight." Amanda waved her hand in the general direction of her face and hair.
"Hey, Butch Cassidy is my part, thank you very much. You'll just have to settle for Sundance. Anyway, I could use a shower myself. We're almost to the hotel. How about we meet in the lobby at, say, seven o'clock?" Lee asked as he consulted his watch.
"Great. Seven o'clock." Amanda nodded several times. Dinner. With Lee. Seven o'clock. This night was shaping up to be a pretty good fantasy of its own.
An hour later, Lee emerged from the elevator and scanned the bustling lobby of their tasteful, albeit unremarkable, hotel. A good agent always surveyed his surroundings. To be forewarned was to be forearmed. That was another thing Emily had taught him all those years ago. Brains, not brawn- that should be Emily's motto. Come to think of it, that expression seemed to fit Amanda, too. How she was able to help solve cases and even subdue the occasional foreign agent, without so much as a weapon or an Agency training course, was beyond him. Still, he had to admit he had a grudging respect for the housewife turned spy that he was about to have dinner with. Respect, mingled with a little...
"Hello!" Amanda never failed to be cheerful, no matter what time of the day or night.
"You said seven o'clock and here I am."
"You're right on time, Amanda," Lee acknowledged with a shake of his head. It was only then that he really noticed the woman standing before him.
"So, do I look okay?" she asked. Amanda stood before Lee in a pale-blue, knee-length chiffon dress that seemed to float about her. She spun around once causing the fabric to lift and billow. The effect was disarming. So much for being forewarned.
"Okay?" was all Lee finally managed to say. Several other words came to mind as he looked at Amanda. Words like exquisite, ethereal, angelic- words Lee had no intention of using in connection with Mrs. Amanda King. And yet, he couldn't let the moment pass without expressing some appreciation for the beauty standing before him. "You look more than okay. You look... lovely." He smiled then, a small smile meant only for her. Lee's eyes twinkled as he offered Amanda his arm.
Amanda looked down to hide the blush that she felt spreading across her cheeks. "Well, you know," Amanda began, "I've had this dress for awhile now."
"Oh, really?" Lee's comment was a polite response. Amanda, however, took it as an invitation to continue.
"Oh yes, really. You see, I was out shopping one day and I saw this dress and, well, you know how much I love 'The Sound of Music.' Did I ever tell you that? I can't even count how many times I've seen it. I even taped it off the TV. way back when we got our first Betamax. Of course, we have VHS now so that tape doesn't work anymore, but..."
"Amanda." Lee pulled himself out of the glazed stupor that tended to settle over him when Amanda launched into one of her monologues.
"I know, get to the point, right?" Amanda asked.
"Please," he answered, simply.
"Okay, well, the dress. You see, this dress looks exactly like the dress Julie Andrews wore during the party scene in 'The Sound of Music.' I couldn't resist buying it and I even wore it a couple of times. I hadn't thought about it in ages, though. And then, when Mr. Melrose called and told me I was coming here, to Austria, the home of the von Trapps', well, I just had to bring it along." Amanda finished with a shrug.
"Mmm." Lee kept his response as noncommittal as possible, but he couldn't help chuckling. Every sentence Amanda uttered was complex. Simplicity was not a concept she seemed able to embrace, or maybe it was just that simplicity and Amanda King were incompatible. "Shall we?" Lee raised his eyebrows and began moving toward the front of the hotel. He placed his hand on the small of her back as he guided her through the large glass doors that separated the well-lit lobby from the rest of the world.
Lee and Amanda stepped into the cool night air and glanced up at the quickly darkening sky. Twilight was descending upon Salzburg. Above their heads, a blanket of stars was slowly spreading across the vast expanse of heaven.
Lee didn't usually spend time stargazing. There were always other, more pressing things that needed attending to. This was true whether he was on an assignment or engaged in other, equally stimulating, activities. Tonight, though, something felt different. There was an almost imperceptible shift somewhere deep inside him. For the first time in more years than he could count, Lee wanted to look at the stars. He wanted to savor the sweetness of the evening breeze and stroll leisurely along the cobblestones.
For an instant, the familiar feeling of urgency returned, bringing with it a sensation of guilt. What right did he have to enjoy himself when Emily was still in danger? He stiffened and then, almost as quickly, he felt himself relax. It was Emily's voice he heard in the far reaches of his mind. It was Emily reminding him to take time to enjoy the little things in life. After all, she would say, isn't that what we're fighting for?
That, however, was the one piece of Emily Farnsworth's advice that Lee never followed. He knew that there was always a bomb to be diffused, a person to be rescued, a plan to be thwarted. If he rested, even for a second, the bad guys might gain the upper hand. The nameless, faceless bad guys that were bent on wreaking havoc and causing pain.
So Lee never relaxed. His off-time was never leisure-time. Even his romantic encounters felt strained, as if they were just another requirement that needed to be satisfied. Those encounters were enjoyable, certainly, but they also left him feeling vulnerable. Lee never wanted to be caught with his pants down, literally or figuratively. But tonight, as he once again linked Amanda's arm in his, Lee finally understood what Emily meant. If he wasn't able to enjoy living in this world he tried so hard to protect, then the free world might as well crumble. He probably wouldn't know the difference, anyway.
Lee glanced down at Amanda and knew, at that moment, that she had a lot to do with this sudden change in attitude. Amanda's way of thinking was so like Emily's. He thought back to the morning of Amanda's arrival in Austria. She had been so excited. Everything was so fresh and new to her and she wanted to drink it all in, enjoy all that this new adventure had to offer. Of course, when Amanda had called their surroundings a fantasyland, Lee had made a typically sarcastic remark. He hadn't understood. He was beginning to comprehend it, though, however slowly. Maybe Amanda was starting to rub off on him. And, maybe, just maybe, that wouldn't be such a bad thing.
"Care to walk?" Lee asked, adding, "The beisel isn't far."
"That would be really nice. It's such a pretty evening," she answered.
Lee and Amanda began to stroll through the small crowds that mingled here and there along the sidewalk. After a few moments, though, Amanda's curiosity got the better of her.
"Lee. What, exactly, is a beisel?" she asked, in a dubious tone.
"Hmm? Oh, a beisel," Lee repeated. "A beisel is just a restaurant that features local food and atmosphere. The term is really more Viennese in origin. The best ones are off the usual tour routes. They seem to stay simpler, more traditional. I found this one a few years back when I was here on another assignment."
"Oh. Okay, thanks." Amanda paused and then said, "I feel so silly sometimes, you know. I mean, you're so well traveled and you speak so many languages. To me, an exotic meal is having a burrito at Mucho Taco back home." Her laugh had a nervous quality that Lee recognized. She laughed like that when she felt self-conscious or out of her element. What she never seemed to realize was how seamlessly she fit into any situation. She had a natural charm that endeared her to almost everyone she met.
Lee wanted to put Amanda a little more at ease. "Amanda, when you have lived in as many places as I have, it is almost impossible not to pick up a few regional habits and characteristics. Like when the Colonel was based in Germany. I would have been bored out of my skull if I hadn't learned how to talk to people and find my way around. That adaptability has helped me to become a good agent. Just the way your natural instincts and perceptions about people and behavior are helping you become a good agent, too. The things you have learned in your everyday life have made you who you are. And I, personally, wouldn't want you to change a bit."
Amanda's eyes had grown wide as Lee handed her that very unexpected compliment. His voice had taken on a rich timbre as he spoke the last few words, and the mere sound of it thrilled her to her core. She glanced up at him as he finished, her heart skipping a beat. But Lee was already looking ahead, guiding them through the streets of Salzburg.
A short while later, Lee and Amanda sat nestled in a quiet corner of the most charming restaurant Amanda had ever seen. She perused the menu for a few minutes
and then set it down in front of her.
"Already decided?" Lee asked, a little surprised at how quickly she had made up her mind.
"Do you remember how it makes me feel when there are no prices on a menu?" she asked.
"Yes," Lee responded, cautiously.
"Well, it's that much worse when I can't even read the names of the entrees." Amanda paused while she folded her hands in front of her. Then she shrugged and said, "This menu is in German."
Lee began to laugh. "Oh, Amanda. Here, why don't you let me order for both of us? I promise you won't be disappointed." Amanda gave Lee a rather skeptical look before she allowed him to reach over and take her menu. Their order was soon placed and they settled back to enjoy the wine that Lee had selected.
"This Riesling is considered a smaragd; a superb late vintage that I think you'll enjoy."
Lee waited while Amanda took her first sip.
"Mmm. Very good." Amanda nodded appreciatively although she had no idea what it was that made the wine so delicious.
Her answer was enough for Lee, though. For some reason it mattered to him that Amanda enjoy herself tonight. Usually, he liked to show off a little for the women he was with. He had learned fairly early on, though, that Amanda was rarely impressed by his standard routine. That, of course, had been a little rough on Lee's ego. But, as time passed, he realized that Amanda was more interested in his other, more genuine qualities.
So tonight, as Lee shared his knowledge of wine and Austrian cuisine, it was not out of a need to impress her. It was simply to ensure that she have the best possible evening. Of course, if she happened to be wowed a little in the process, well, where was the harm in that?
When their dinner arrived, Amanda found herself more than a little surprised. The meal Lee had ordered had sounded so complex. He had rattled off a long string of Bavarian sounding words that meant little, if nothing, to her. What the waitress served them, however, were perfectly appetizing dishes that reminded her of her favorite comfort foods.
First, there was an aromatic vegetable and herb soup filled with eight different vegetables and seasoned with chervil and parsley. It was the main dish that surprised her, though. Lee had ordered them both steak and onions with a marinated cucumber salad on the side.
"Lee, this is a steak," she gasped.
"That's what zwiebelrostbraten is, Amanda. Did I have you worried?" Lee couldn't help but be amused by the look on Amanda's face.
"Who me? Worried? Why would I be worried?" Amanda's said, unconvincingly.
"Uh-huh, that's what I thought," Lee laughed. "Well, as they say in a country not so far from here, Bon Appetite."
Their meal slowly came to an end as both Lee and Amanda savored the last bit of tender beef. When they had finished, Lee made another suggestion.
"Amanda, there is a little bierheuriger near here where we can have dessert and a cup of the best coffee you've ever had. Did you know that Austria is famous for it's variety of coffee? Anyway, this place even has traditional music and they make the best Salzburger Nockerln in the city. So what do you say? Are you game?" Amanda gave the question some thought. Lee caught himself holding his breath while he waited for her answer. He felt like he was trying to sell something. He exhaled quickly as she began to answer.
"You know, it's been quite awhile since I've had an entire night to myself with no one expecting something from me and nobody waiting for me at home," Amanda began.
Lee felt a pang of disappointment. She was asking for some time to herself, he thought. She was saying no. He had the distinct impression that an important opportunity was about to slip away.
In actuality, Amanda was saying just the opposite. "And, you know, I can't think of any better way to spend my free night than listening to folk music and eating Salzburg mumbo-jumbo," Amanda smiled as she finished, keeping to herself the thought that it wouldn't matter what they did as long as she was with him.
The tavern was a lively place full of happy, smiling people and cheerfully festive music. It, too, was done-up in a traditionally Bavarian style, though, as with the restaurant, no one decorator was responsible for the design. It was built of limestone supported by juniper beams and peppered with scroll-cut woodwork accents. Over head, flags of different regions and families hung from the exposed rafters, and the cypress-planked floor below was scuffed and scratched from the steps of countless feet.
The building was more than three hundred years old and had played host to generations of people. It had seen laughter and tears alike as Austria had evolved into the country it was today. People came there to eat, drink, dance and love in the same centuries-old tradition as time continued its' march onward toward the future.
This evening was no exception to that rule. Amanda soaked it all in, all the tastes and sounds and smells. Lee had again ordered for them after first asking how she liked her coffee.
The Salzburger Nockerln turned out to be a meringue dumpling that, when done properly, resembled the high peaks of the Austrian Alps. It was light and delicate, the perfect end to their meal. The coffee was, as Lee had promised, the best Amanda had ever tasted. She had requested something simple- black coffee with sugar. Lee told her that what she wanted was called a fiaker or coachman.
"In Austria, every style of coffee has it's own name, so you never order just coffee. If you do, they'll know you're a tourist," he explained.
"Oh," she nodded. "Why is it called a coachman?" she questioned, almost as an after thought.
For a split second Lee hesitated before he answered. "Do you know, I really don't know." he admitted, somewhat sheepishly.
"What? Do you mean I actually stumped the Scarecrow? I don't believe it," she laughed.
"All right, all right. You don't have to rub it in," he grumbled, good-naturedly.
Lee order himself a Kleiner Goldener. Both drinks were served in a glass as opposed to a cup, which even made the coffee seem elegant to Amanda's American sensibilities. Amanda sipped hers appreciatively and the couple fell in to a companionable silence as they enjoyed their dessert.
All the while she ate, Amanda kept stealing glances at the man sitting across the table from her. To say that Lee was handsome seemed such an understatement. He possessed such style and charisma. He definitely had one-up on those Bomber Fathers she was used to associating with... the ones he was so quick to make fun of. The funny thing was that, even though Amanda chastised Lee for ridiculing nice, normal people, she could see his point. Lee Stetson had ruined nice and normal for her forever.
Even his clothes were a step above the average. She admired his well-cut, grey suit and his burgundy silk tie. Everything he wore was stylish and well chosen. Of course, if you subscribed to the idea that it wasn't the clothes that made the man, then Lee could wear a burlap sack and still look incredible. He could probably pull it off, too. It actually seemed unnatural for a person to have the amount of confidence that Lee exhibited. But, he was also complex and Amanda found it a challenge to try to uncover the multiple layers he kept hidden underneath that mask of self-assurance. It was probably just her fascination with solving puzzles that kept her coming back, time and again, no matter how rudely he treated her. Well, that's what she told herself, anyway. That, and those eyes.
Amanda stopped herself before her mind headed down a path that would be hard to retrace. She took another bite of dumpling and murmured, "Mmm. This is really delicious, Lee. Thank you for suggesting it." She gave him a smile that was so genuine and heart-felt that Lee couldn't help smiling in return. Her happiness was infectious and, once again, he marveled at her ability to enjoy life.
As they ate, Lee watched Amanda, as well, stealing subtle glances at her as she sat opposite him. He wondered how anyone could be so guileless, so unaffected by the ugliness of the world. She wasn't unaware of it, by any means. She just chose to see the brighter side of everything. She wasn't unintelligent, either, despite what her innocent-seeming nature implied. She had a very logical mind and a knack for getting to the heart of any given situation. Amanda always pointed out that, no matter what, people were just people. He had the uncanny feeling that she could see right through him and, at times, it made him as uncomfortable as hell.
Lee also realized, as he thought of Amanda's ability to get him to bare his soul to her, that he would feel very lost and alone if that disappeared. Or, to be more truthful with himself, if she were to disappear. He had never been blind to the fact that Amanda was a beautiful woman. She had a certain charm that couldn't be denied. But he was beginning to realize that the real attraction Amanda held, for himself as well as others, was her genuine, caring nature and her unerring belief that there was good in everyone. She really cared and that made people care for her in return. It made him care more than he ever admitted.
A German voice penetrated Lee's thoughts and he cleared his throat in an effort to clear his head. He hadn't been paying attention so he asked the white haired gentleman standing next to their table to repeat his question. "Entschuldigung? Wiederholen Sie bitte, Ihre Frage?"
What the man wanted, it seemed, was for Amanda to dance the Laendler with him. Lee was slightly taken aback. He knew that the old folk dance would be too complex for Amanda to grapple without some instruction.
"Lee, what does he want?" Amanda asked. She really didn't like it when she couldn't understand what was going on.
Before he answered Amanda, however, Lee began to dismiss the rather eager man at his elbow. "Ich denke nicht so," he began.
"Lee," Amanda interjected, "please tell me what's going on." She had raised her voice a little in order to get his attention.
"He wants you to dance with him." Lee finally answered.
"Oh, really?" Amanda was delighted.
"Yeah, the Laendler. It's an Austrian folk dance. Don't worry, I'll get rid of him." Lee looked up, ready to be done with the whole thing.
"Oh, no. Don't do that. Tell him I'd love to dance." Amanda smiled up at the man who stood waiting patiently for her answer.
Lee shook his head. "Amanda, the Laendler is very complicated."
"Lee, I know what the Laendler is. Like I said, the 'Sound of Music' is one of my favorite movies." Amanda responded.
"And...?" Lee wasn't making the connection.
Amanda sighed when she realized Lee didn't understand. "And... that was the dance that Maria tried to teach the children during the party. You know, the one with the dress," Amanda explained, indicating the dress she was wearing.
"You do realize, Amanda, that seeing something in a movie and doing it in real life are two different things?" Lee was ready to dismiss the whole idea.
"Oh, but I can do the dance. When you've watched something as many time as I've watched this, you get to know it pretty well. You just don't give me enough credit." Amanda felt put-out by Lee's condescending attitude. "I think the real question," she continued, "is whether or not you can do it."
"Well, of course I can do it. I'll have you know that my dancing ability is legendary on two continents. I am considered one of the most graceful operatives the Agency has." Lee's temper was showing and he wondered, not for the first time, how Amanda was able to push his buttons so easily.
"Oh, of course you can do it. How silly of me. Imagine Lee Stetson not being able to do something a mere housewife can do. What would people think?" Amanda said, her tone icy. She took a deep breath before she continued. "Please tell the gentleman that I would love to dance."
Lee just sat there, struck senseless by Amanda's very effective attempt at standing up to him.
"I said, please tell him... oh, never mind." Amanda stood up and, with a smile, said, "Ya, ya. Dance, bitte." Her German left a lot to be desired, but she got her point across. She was soon gliding across the dance floor as her escort motioned for the band to begin the song again.
Lee felt his jaw muscles clench as he watched Amanda in the arms of another man, as grandfatherly as that man may have seemed. This jealousy was a familiar sensation when it came to Amanda, but it was one he had never quite dealt with.
He was getting ready to sweep the feeling back under the rug where he liked to keep it when the music swelled and Amanda began to dance. He was in awe as he watched her execute the Laendler with perfect timing and precision. Lee had noticed this about her when they had danced together in the past. Amanda could seem so clumsy in her day to day life and there was nothing that frustrated him more than her tendency to bump into him at all the wrong moments. When she danced, however, Amanda was grace in motion.
Lee could have watched her for hours. But what he wanted, even more than that, was to dance with her.
And, right then, Amanda was dancing with someone else.
Lee pulled on his collar as though it were choking him. The effort was wasted, though, because Lee knew that the only thing that would relieve his discomfort was, at that moment, a full ten feet away and irritated with him to boot. He stood up and inhaled deeply. As he did so, Lee had the unsettling thought that he was about to embark on the most dangerous maneuver of his career.
"Oh well. No guts, no glory," Lee muttered. He could imagine Amanda saying that very thing in an effort to be brave, and the thought made him smile. He straightened his tie and, with one last steadying breath, moved on to the crowded floor.
"Entschuldigung. Mag ich einschneiden?" The gentleman dancing with Amanda graciously stepped aside when Lee asked if he could cut in. He knew a pair of lovers when he saw them. Who was he to stand in their way? "Danke," Lee added. "Thank you." With that he turned his full attention to the only person in the room he wanted to see.
Amanda felt as though several thousand butterflies had invaded her midsection when she realized Lee was in front of her. She worked quickly to regain her composure. In the briefest moments she would be dancing with him. All the fantasies in the world had done nothing to prepare her for this moment. She was overwhelmed by the nearness of him. Here he was, standing before her of his own free will. It had nothing to do with the case. No one was holding a gun to his head. He wanted to dance with her, plain and simple. The whole situation scared her silly.
"Mrs. King," Lee whispered as he bowed before her. Amanda curtsied, grateful for the extra second to collect her thoughts.
And then... they danced.
Lee and Amanda moved well together. The steps of the Laendler were intricate and precise, requiring perfect timing on the part of both partners. They held hands in a promenade that was almost ballet-like in movement. Amanda shook her skirt to and fro as she skipped around Lee, who stood straight and tall as he clapped in time with the music. Lee turned away and Amanda followed, reaching out for the hand he offered over his left shoulder.
The music continued to flow through them as Lee twirled Amanda around the room. Then, they were moving together, his hands on her slender waist. They swirled and dipped as if they had been dancing together for years, as if they were born knowing how.
Another few steps brought them into each other's arms, their faces a mere inch apart. The pull they felt was magnetic. They stood frozen, lost in the magic of the moment. Neither one of them were aware that all eyes in the room had focused on them. They were in another time, another world.
Amanda was the first to step away, pulling herself back up from the depths of Lee's startlingly intense gaze.
"That's all I know," she whispered, her eyes still locked with his.
It was the sound of applause that brought the couple back to their senses. They looked around uncomfortably, only to discover that the entire place had been watching them. Lee cleared his throat in a characteristic attempt to relieve his discomfort. They both shifted nervously until the same old man approached them, enthusiastically clapping his hands.
"Vertiefung getan worden. Sehr güt," he praised. "Ya. Very good," he added for Amanda's benefit in a heavily accented attempt at English.
"Oh, thank you very much," she answered, even though her first instinct was to find the nearest table to crawl under. There was no reason to be rude. Not even complete and utter embarrassment would justify that. "I guess we weren't too shabby for a couple of Americans. I mean, I don't suppose it's just anyone who can walk in off the street and dance like Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer."
Lee could sense a monumental ramble coming on. He quickly took Amanda by the arm and steered her back to their table. The rest of the tavern returned to their own activities and conversations, leaving Lee and Amanda to recover the best that they could.
It was Lee who spoke first, hoping to make up for the blunder he had made just a short while earlier. "Look, Amanda," Lee began. "You were right. I don't give you enough credit."
"Oh, Lee. You don't have to say anything." Amanda offered, always quick to put him at ease. But Lee wasn't willing to be let off the hook that easily.
"No, Amanda, I mean it. You were really great out there," Lee continued. "I shouldn't have doubted you." Then he took her hand in his and said, "I'm sorry."
Amanda laid her other hand on top Lee's. She wondered if he knew how much it meant to her when he apologized. Of course she had forgiven him before she'd even left the table, but she decided to let that be her little secret. After all, she was sure that Lee had plenty of secrets of his own, so how could he begrudge her one of her own?
"Well, that's really just... well, it's okay. Thank you." she responded, quietly. "I just have one little question for you, though, if you don't mind."
"And what is that?" Lee asked, thankful that she had forgiven him so easily.
"How did you learn to dance like that, really?" Amanda asked. She was actually just as amazed by his knowledge of the Laendler as he had been by hers.
"Oh, I have my ways," Lee answered mysteriously, reminded Amanda of the first time they had danced together.
"Oh, right," Amanda began, her voice growing hushed. She leaned in toward Lee as if about to share a secret. "Danger, intrigue... soft-shoe?"
Lee looked at Amanda for a moment, trying to maintain some semblance of composure. When he realized that would be impossible, he started to laugh. Amanda saw right through him. He thought, fleetingly, that that should bother him. But there wasn't much that could bother him at this particular moment in time. He had a strange sensation of contentment. The feeling was foreign to him, but he thought that he could get used to it.
"Yes, Amanda. Soft-shoe is just one of many skills necessary for survival in this business. That, combined with a good show tune, has gotten me out of many a tight situation," he confided, all the while smiling one of his devil-may-care grins.
"Oh, you." Amanda chided. She was feeling so good, right then, that she didn't know how it could get any better.
Lee, on the other hand, was imagining what he could do to make this night even more unforgettable for both of them. He was still holding Amanda's hand as he formulated his plan. He began to play with her fingers, causing little ripples of excitement to travel up and down Amanda's arm. She was so focused on that feeling that she jumped when he finally spoke again.
"Amanda," Lee began. "If your not too tired, there is one more place I'd like to show you." As he spoke, his voice had grown husky. His thumbs were now lightly stroking the backs of both her hands as he continued. "I think this is something you'll really enjoy. I promise you won't regret it."
During his last sentence, Lee had caught Amanda's gaze and the look in his eyes nearly sent her over the edge. Not only did she not want to say no, she didn't think it would be physically possible to do so.
"Lead the way," was all that she trusted herself to say.
Together, they stepped through the tavern doors into the moonlit streets of Salzburg. Lee hailed a taxi, and, once again, they were on their way.
The taxi ride was longer than Amanda had expected. By the time they reached their destination, she had no idea what part of the city they were in. The long rolling lawns and groves of trees led her to believe it was some kind of park or garden, but she couldn't be sure. Lee paid the driver and soon they were alone under a canopy of trees. Up above, the night sky was filled with stars that twinkled and winked, as if even the heavens were conspiring to make this night perfect for the pair of mortals that they saw below them.
Lee took Amanda's hand and they began to walk. The only sounds that they could hear were the chirping of crickets and the trickle of water from some distant fountain or stream. Moonlight streamed through the treetops, and the luminescent effect was breathtaking. The path they were following was dappled with patches of shade cast by
the low hanging branches that surrounded them.
They moved along in silence, neither one wanting to spoil the beauty and peace of the moment. It wasn't long before they found themselves in front of a small pavilion built entirely of glass. A gazebo, the very one from the 'Sound of Music,' stood before them as large as life. Amanda gasped and clutched Lee's hand even tighter.
"Oh. My. Gosh!" Her voiced was hushed, still respectful of the solitude that surrounded them. It may have been as close to speechless as Amanda had ever come. She looked up at Lee to find him looking back, enjoying her reaction to his little surprise.
The gazebo stood in a small clearing. All around it, on the lawn, were small stone benches for people to sit on and relax. At this hour, though, the area was deserted, exactly as Lee had hoped it would be. They took a few more steps and sat down.
"Is this really it?" Amanda asked. "The one from the movie?"
"One and the same," Lee answered with a smile.
"Do you know that when I was sixteen, my favorite song was 'Sixteen, Going on Seventeen' and I used to imagine myself right here in this gazebo, singing and dancing and..." She caught herself before she finished her thought. "And, just imagine... this is where it was all filmed. Wow! How did you ever find it? And don't you dare say 'I have my ways,' again," she demanded.
"You're not the only one who likes the 'Sound of Music,' you know," was Lee's response. Amanda's eyes grew wide as she realized what he was admitting. Lee realized it, too. A look of sheer panic crossed his face. He quickly cleared his throat and added, "What I mean is that the 'Sound of Music' is a very popular musical. There are tours almost daily that take tourists around and show them sites from the movie. This place for example," he continued, with a sweep of his hand, "is actually part of Schloss Hellbrun's fountain gardens, and subject to a tour all it's own."
"Uh-huh," was all that Amanda had to say about that.
Lee stood up, wondering to himself why he was so afraid to show a soft side to his nature. Especially about something as silly as this. It was only a movie, for Pete's sake. It didn't make him less of a man, just because he liked a movie. But, being a man, he sure didn't want to admit it. He looked down and, with his hands on his hips, kicked the dirt at his feet. "Look, I was a kid once, too, you know. Okay?" He muttered, defensively.
"All right, all right," Amanda laughed before she turned her attention back to their surroundings. The gazebo stood drenched in moonlight; it's hundreds of panes of glass reflecting the luminous glow. She got up and moved toward it as if in a trance but, when she arrived, she found it locked.
Lee looked around as well. After a moment he followed Amanda toward the secured building. "Stand back for a minute, Amanda," he requested as he removed a lock pick from his shirt collar.
"You're going to break in there?" she questioned with a gasp.
"Yes, I am." he answered, once again the image of suave self-control. "You need to realize, Amanda, that there is a little larceny at the heart of every good agent. We are, after all, only one step away from being cat burglars half the time." The lock turned with only the faintest of clicks and then they were inside.
The moonlight that had illuminated the area outside the gazebo had a more subtle effect within its translucent walls. The rarefied light bathed Lee and Amanda in a bluish glow. The shadows that were cast were longer, too, and of a deeper hue. They lent an almost physical presence to the room, as if they sat waiting to see the outcome of the scene that was playing out before them.
"You know, Amanda, that your dress does not look like the dress that Julie Andrews wore during the party scene," Lee began.
"It's doesn't?" Amanda asked, a perplexed look on her face.
"No, it doesn't," he continued, stepping closer to Amanda and lightly brushing the hem of her sleeve.
"Oh," Amanda breathed. She was having a hard time concentrating as he drew even nearer.
"It was, however, the dress that Maria wore here in the gazebo. With the Captain." As he finished, Lee brought his hand up under Amanda's chin. His voice was barely a whisper.
Amanda's breath caught in her chest as she realized what was happening, what this entire conversation was implying. She gazed into Lee's gold-flecked eyes and marveled at how they had come to this moment. Her heart skipped a beat.
Lee heard Amanda's breath quicken as he tilted her head back. He realized that there was no denying it. This was something he wanted to do. And, from Amanda's reaction, she seemed to want it too.
With that final thought, they closed their eyes and took a plunge a hundred times more frightening than the one they had taken earlier. That afternoon, as they had leapt from the castle wall, it had been only their physical selves in jeopardy. What they were experiencing now had repercussions that could rock them to the very core of their beings. Their lips met, then, and all conscious thought was driven from their minds.
A short while later, Lee held Amanda in his arms as they both sighed in contentment. They were still floating, not ready to come down from their perch high up in the clouds. Reality would just have to wait a little longer.
Amanda heard Lee say something under his breath, but she couldn't quite make out the words. "Hmm?" was as near to a question as Amanda could formulate at that moment, but it did the trick.
"I said, 'somewhere in my youth, or childhood, I must have done something good.'" he repeated, as he trailed kisses along her jaw line.
A huge smile spread across Amanda's face as she realized that he was quoting a song. It was the Captain and Maria's love song, no less. She decided that the deeper implications surrounding his choice of lyrics could wait. What she focused on, right then, was Lee's now obvious knowledge of the movie that was fast becoming her favorite of all time.
"Okay, Lee, you obviously know this movie better than you've let on." Amanda grinned. "But I swear, if you break in to song right now, I just might die laughing,"
"Well, we can't have that now, can we?" Lee said, effectively changing the subject as he leaned in and captured her lips with his own.
Suddenly, Amanda jumped back from Lee's embrace. "Oh my gosh," she said yet again.
Lee's face clouded over with worry. He put out his hands in an effort to regain contact with the woman he had been holding only seconds before.
"You're absolutely right," she rushed on, "Maria didn't wear this dress to the party. She was going to, but then she ran away." Amanda nodded, happy to clear up her misconception.
Lee could only laugh. He pulled Amanda back in to his arms, nuzzling her hair as he said, "Only you, Amanda, would think of something like that at a time like this."
"Well, my mother always did say I was a flibbertigibbet." she confided.
"Really," Lee breathed as he brushed a kiss across her forehead. "What else does your mother say?"
But Amanda's response was drowned out by the sound of music that swelled in their heads and culminated in the perfect, heart-stopping, soul-stirring, even magical, kiss.
Words & Lyrics
Perhaps I had a wicked childhood, perhaps I had a miserable youth
But somewhere in my wicked, miserable past, there must have been a moment
For here you are standing there loving me, whether or not you should
So somewhere in my youth or childhood, I must have done something good
Nothing comes from nothing, nothing ever could
So somewhere in my youth or childhood, I must have done something good.
For here you are standing there loving me, whether or not you should
So somewhere in my youth or childhood, I must have done something good.
Nothing comes from nothing, nothing ever could
So somewhere in my youth or childhood, I must have done
something, something good.