Screen Captures Courtesy of Swoopes
For personal use and select distribution only © March 2002 by Amber Stockton
The First Time - tagalogueWritten by Brad Buckner & Eugenie Ross-Leming (excerpts from the episode belong to them)
"Scarecrow?" Billy Melrose called as Lee ushered Amanda out of his office. Lee turned as he was halfway out the door and faced the section chief, his right hand grabbing the door as he prepared to close it. "I think we've finally found you a partner."
Lee looked at the self-satisfied grin on his boss' face and grimaced, closing his eyes as he left the office. After hearing her go on and on like she did when retelling the events of this recent case, he wasn't exactly looking forward to escorting her back to his car to take her home. Actually, taking her home was something he couldn't wait to do, but walking with her and having to listen to more of her rambling didn't exactly rank on the top of his list of things he enjoyed.
For security purposes, he had driven around several blocks and parked a few blocks away. They walked together down the street, the split-rail wooden fence to their right, each holding an umbrella over their heads from the light rain that was falling. Just as Lee had expected, Amanda was rambling on and on about the potential for working at the agency. What was Billy thinking asking Amanda to help them? Never mind that. How could Billy say Amanda would make a good partner? Partner? There was no way he was going to come to depend on her like he had his previous partner. No way he could see himself telling her things and revealing things he'd much rather be kept secret. A housewife from Arlington? That had to take the cake!
Lee did have to admit that Amanda was the one who cracked the case with the Colonial Cookery show. And she did somehow manage to get to the house and figure out enough to know that he was in trouble. How she knew enough to put sugar in the gas tank of that car was beyond him. Lee smiled at the memory. The way she stuck out her hands and yelled "Freeze" to the man who held him captive was another wonder. He couldn't believe she'd been so daring, but it was enough to allow him time to knock the guy out of the way.
The helicopter ride was a whole different story. He breathed a sigh of relief realizing how close they had come to either crashing or being hit with the bullets being fired at them. That ride was one he wasn't ready to repeat anytime soon. Lee still couldn't believe Amanda managed to safely land the thing without any further mishap. If that wasn't enough, he had to take her back to the Agency and be subjected to her retelling of the entire case from the moment she got involved. If he'd had any idea this was going to happen when he chose her at the train station to help him deliver that package, he would have chosen someone else, anyone else.
Shaking his head at all that had happened in the past few days, Lee realized that Amanda had stopped and was watching him with an expectant look in her eyes. He immediately halted and turned to her, trying to force his mind to recall the question she had obviously just asked. Something about a vegetable man or a dentist or something? Not even bothering to try any harder to remember, he sighed.
"Amanda," she interrupted him.
"Amanda," he amended. "Look, I don't know if this is going to work out."
"But, Mr. Melrose said that you do use civilians from time to time, and I certainly qualify as a civilian. Unless of course you would rather consider me just an ordinary housewife from Arlington who happened to be the one you selected to help you on this case and the one who solved it because of my mother's involvement with the Colonial Cookery show and her interest in collecting unique recipes. Who would have thought that something so simple as collecting recipes would lead to me being involved with spies and undercover activities? If it hadn't been for my boys being in Boy Scouts, I probably never would have had the excuse to get the airdates for the show and..."
"Amanda!" Lee held up a hand to halt her flow, still amazed she could say so much without stopping to think about it. "Would you just stop for a minute and take a few breaths?"
"I'm sorry. You're right." She turned and looked at some of the people walking by them and sighed. "I do tend to get carried away, and when I get carried away, I ramble, and when I ramble..." She caught herself again and gave him a sheepish grin. "I'm sorry."
Lee chuckled and shook his head, then resumed walking again, waiting until she had matched his stride before speaking. "As I was saying, yes, we do use civilians, and we may be calling on you from time to time." He stopped and turned to her, clasping her elbow with his left hand and causing her to stop beside him as he pinned her with his intent gaze. "But, you understand that if we do, you can't tell a single person about anything you're doing, not your family, not even your boyfriend."
For a moment, Amanda was speechless as she looked at him. Lee watched the lost look in her eyes disappear as she regained control of her reaction. Inwardly, he smiled at the obvious affect he was having on her.
Finally, Amanda nodded. "I understand. Not a soul."
"Good." Lee released her arm and began walking again. A few steps later, they were at his car. As soon as they were in and he put the key in the ignition, Amanda was talking again.
"Lee? It is all right that I call you that, right? Or would you rather I call you Mr. Stetson? I don't want to cross some imaginary boundary lines without knowing, so if you could just spell it all out right now..."
"Lee is fine, Amanda," he interrupted her, fighting very hard to control his patience. "What were you going to ask?" He started the car and put it in gear, then maneuvered his way onto the street to head toward Arlington.
"If you do need to get in touch with me and need my help, how am I going to know?"
"We'll find you, don't worry," Lee replied with calm self-assurance.
"Of course. You'll find me. After all, you're spies. That's what you do for a living. You find people and get answers and know things that no one else would know. How else would you have known where I lived or known how to find me after only seeing me for a few minutes at the train station. Me, a complete stranger you'd never met. We didn't even introduce ourselves, and without even knowing my name, you were able to..."
"Amanda, you're doing it again," Lee stated in a low voice. "Tell me, does your mind always work like this? Do you always think out loud and talk your way through everything?"
"Only when I'm nervous," she answered without hesitation.
"Well, don't be." Lee started to reach across to touch her shoulder, but something inside stopped him. There was just something different about her. He didn't know what. Instead of saying anything more, they rode in silence for the next few minutes as he entered her neighborhood and drove down her street.
"Do you think you could stop at the house next door and let me out? I don't want to have to answer any questions from Mother in case she's home and happens to be looking out the window."
"Uh, sure." Lee brought the Porsche to a slow stop in front of her neighbor's house and got out, walking around the back to her side of the car. He opened the door and held out his hand to assist her. As Amanda stepped out, her shoe caught on the kick panel and she fell against him. He put his arms around her to steady her, looking down at her to make certain she was all right.
"I'm sorry," she said, immediately righting herself and standing up straight, appearing to be unaffected by the contact. "I'm just not used to getting in and out of a car that's so low to the ground." She looked up at him. "Thank you." After straightening her skirt and stepping away from him, she turned to walk down the sidewalk toward her house, then stopped and turned back around, pausing before speaking. "Since you're not sure when or if you're going to needing me again, I'm glad I was able to help you solve your case. I'm very sorry about those other two agents who didn't make it, but glad you were able to apprehend the ones causing the trouble before anything else happened." She stopped, and when he didn't appear like he was going to say anything, she lifted her hand in a half-wave. "Well, goodbye."
As she turned to go, Lee finally found his voice. "Amanda," he called, then waited as she turned again. Looking at her, he actually found himself speechless. What should he say to her? What does one say to someone you don't really know and have just met, but someone who for all intents and purposes has recently saved your life? "Uhh, thank you." He meant it too. It didn't sound like enough, but it was all he could manage.
Amanda smiled and seemed to understand what he was really trying to express. "You're welcome."
Lee watched as she walked away toward her house. He waited until Amanda disappeared around the hedge before getting back into his car. Slowly, he inched the car forward until he was partially parked in front of her house. His gaze followed her as she opened the door and disappeared inside. Lee could only imagine what was happening inside that house, and he shook his head in wonder. There was just something about her that intrigued him, despite his annoyance at her incessant rambling.
When she fell against him a moment ago, something stirred deep within him. How had she gotten under his skin so easily? An ordinary housewife from Arlington who, despite what he thought were pretty good attempts on his part, wasn't the least bit affected by him. He laughed. Who was he kidding? Amanda certainly wasn't ordinary. If she was, maybe he'd been in the spy business too long. Still, Billy must be crazy to even think about putting them together as partners! It would never work out. What could he possibly find with her that he couldn't find with any other partner?