Screen Captures Courtesy of Swoopes
For personal use and select distribution only © February 2002 by Amber Stockton
Stemwinder (part 1) - tagalogue
Written by George Geiger & Robert W. Gilmer (excerpts from the episode belong to them)
"Now, wait a minute. You can't just walk into my life, hand me a package, tell me to give it to the man in the red hat, tell me that you love me, and walk out of my life again!" Amanda's voice contained a hint of desperation.
Lee shook his head slightly, realizing that she was right. There was no way he could walk away from her now. He was too deeply involved for that. "No," he affirmed softly, then slowly lowered his head to meet her lips for a tender, lasting and loving kiss. Amanda's hands wrapped around his neck in their embrace, and a few precious moments later, he regretfully pulled back.......
........."This thing's not gonna hold us both."
"That's what I keep telling the boys!" she exclaimed just as the trellis gave way and sent them plunging toward the ground below. They had prepared for the fall though, and expertly landed, then rolled. As soon as they hit the ground, they heard a man call out.
"It's them!" an agent exclaimed. "It's Scarecrow and Mrs. King!"
Someone had spotted them. Lee knew they had to get out of there and it had to be fast. Escaping from the federal agents was difficult enough under the cover of darkness, but in broad daylight, it was going to be nearly impossible. They'd have to move quick and not think twice. Taking that second thought could kill them both.
In that brief moment of indecision, he felt Amanda tug on his hand and pull him with her towards her back yard. Confusion crossed his face, but she didn't turn around to look at him, just led him towards the fence in the corner and reached to move two boards out of the way. She looked over her shoulder and smiled, then turned and preceded him through the fence. He chuckled and followed, knowing that the agents would be right on their tail. They'd have to trust each other more than they ever had before.
They continued like this, slipping through broken fences and skirting by angry dogs who were protecting their owner's property. At one point, Lee could hear someone right behind him. Amanda led them past one dog, only to have that same dog let loose with a ferocious growl on the next person who dared cross into that yard. He realized again how fortunate he was to have Amanda with him.
After twenty minutes, they had left the houses in her little community and ventured into the copse of trees that served as a backdrop to a small area with a handful of retail shops. Just before they left the cover of the woods, Lee paused and held up his hand, then cast an expert look around for any unwanted visitors who might put a stop to their jaunt through the suburbs of Arlington. Satisfied no one had followed them, he nodded his head and tugged on her hand. Now that they were away from the houses, Lee could get them deeper into hiding. They crept around the buildings and snuck through the shadows, their eyes and bodies constantly on the move. If they stopped, it could mean the end for them both.
Finally, Lee led them into a junk yard and over to an old, rusty plymouth. He felt Amanda's hand on his arm and turned to see the question in her eyes.
"Don't worry," he reassured her. "One of my family members arranged for this to be here for me, in case I needed it. It has a bogus license plate that will take the Agency days to track down the real source. By then, we won't be using it. I don't know how long we can remain on the run. If I don't come up with something fast, we could find ourselves at the end of our rope, literally!" He made certain to convey with his voice just how dangerous their situation was.
She smiled and gave his arm a squeeze. "You'll come up with something, I'm sure of it."
He reached his other hand up to place over hers and returned her smile. Her faith in him reassured him, but the truth of the matter was that he didn't feel too confident at the moment. However, she didn't need to see his doubts and fears. He was certain she had enough of her own. So for her, he would be strong. This wasn't the first time they'd been running for their lives, and it most likely wouldn't be their last. He'd do what he always did ... push his fears aside and get the job done.
Locating the key, he slipped it into the lock and lowered himself into the car, then leaned over to open the door for Amanda. Once they were both in, they left the junkyard and headed down the streets of D.C.
"Amanda, look in that bag in the back seat and see if you can't find something to make us a little less conspicuous," he instructed and jerked his thumb over his shoulder.
She unhooked her seatbelt and turned in her seat to reach for the bag, then pulled it over the seat to set it in her lap. "I've got a baseball cap," she announced and handed it to him, "and here's a hooded sweatshirt for me."
"Good. Good." He nodded and slipped the cap over his hair and pulled the brim down to shield his eyes, then watched her, out of the corner of his eye, pull the sweatshirt over her head and tuck her hair into the hood. It would work for now, but they would have to change their outfits often in order to remain hidden. When he reached the street he wanted, he turned the car down a narrow alley and parked the car in a dark corner.
"Where are we?" Amanda asked the moment he shut off the engine.
"We're about a mile from where we're going to camp out for the night. I figured we could hide out down by the water near the old pipe factory. No one's really going to know about that place, and we can keep our eyes and ears open for anyone who might be tailing us." He glanced over at her and attempted his best reassuring smile. "Come on. The rest is on foot."
Lee got out and locked the door, then waited for Amanda to walk around the car and join him. He immediately reached for her hand and interlocked their fingers before leading her along the chain-link fence towards the warehouse district. It had been over an hour since he had seen anyone from the Agency or any other government vehicles, so he could at least breathe a small sigh of relief. However, he knew he couldn't let down his guard. They were still fugitives, and they had to be alert.
Once they reached the hideout he had staked out, he left Amanda to rest and immediately began looking around the area, trying to catch his breath after their walk.
"Lee?" she called, her voice sounding a little winded.
"What are you doing?"
He glanced back to see her leaning against one of the steel supports behind them, her hands propped on her knees. "I'm looking for a crate of food that was supposed to be left here. I made contact with another one of my family members before I came to your house, and he said he'd drop it off this evening." He sorted through a couple of empty boxes and moved a bag of garbage out of the way. "Ah-ha! Found it!" He lifted two bags of food from a crate. When he made his way back to Amanda, he found that she had flattened a couple of boxes to make a place for them to sit, so he sat down beside her and began pulling out some wrapped sandwiches. "It's not Emilio's," he said as he handed her one, "but it'll do in a pinch."
"It's food, at a time when we don't know when our next meal will be," she pointed out, accepting the food.
"Yeah, you're right." He sighed and lowered his sandwich to his lap. "Amanda, I'm really sorry I got you into all of this. You're all tied up in this mess, and it's all my fault. If only I had..."
"Hey, you haven't forced me to do anything I didn't decide to do on my own, so stop blaming yourself, all right? I've told you before. I'm an adult, and I've known the risks all along." She reached out to touch his arm, and he turned to look at her. "There was no way that I was going to let you do this on your own. Besides," she grinned, "you know I never would have stayed at home waiting to hear from you. I never stay when you tell me to, so what makes you think that would change now?"
Lee chuckled and shook his head. "What would I do without you?"
She smiled. "Probably be removing an angry dog's teeth from your pant leg," she retorted.
"I love you," he whispered, his voice husky and choked with emotion. Those three words were still very new to him, and he relished the feelings which accompanied his declaration each time he said them.
"And I love you," she echoed, leaning towards him.
He met her halfway. They shared several lingering kisses before their fears and apprehensions blended with the depth of their love for each other, crashing together in an explosion of passion that poured into their kiss. Their sandwiches forgotten, they simply found comfort and peace in each other's arms, for a moment setting aside the dangers of their situation and living in a world that included only the two of them.
When Lee finally broke the kiss, it was to pull Amanda into his loving embrace. The only thing that mattered to him at that moment was that Amanda was safe, with him, where she belonged. He knew it was even more dangerous with the two of them on the run, but the relief he felt that she was with him far outweighed his fears at having to provide for two of them. They'd been working together long enough for him to know that she was an irreplaceable asset to his work. He'd trust her instincts anywhere. That thought made him think of how right Harry was about the two of them, even almost a year ago. He chuckled.
She pulled back from him to look into his face, her hands on his upper arms. "What's so funny?"
His hands slipping down to rest loosely at her waist. "Ohh, I was just thinking about how right Harry was about you and me."
"So, are you going to tell me what he said, or is it some sort of secret?"
Lee grinned. "You already know what he said."
"Yeah, it involves your instincts." He watched her face as she tried to remember. The moment she did, her eyes took on a light of their own and a wide smile formed on her beautiful face.
"You mean about following me through a blizzard at midnight?"
"Blind," he added and placed a quick kiss on her nose. "Yep."
"You know, that could really work to my advantage one of these days!"
He raised one eyebrow and pinned her with a knowing look. "Oh no, don't you go getting any ideas, Amanda. I think we've got our hands full just living our lives the way they are right now."
She sobered a little, but the corner of her mouth turned up just a bit. "But it won't always be like this. One day soon, we'll be normal, and when we are, you'd better watch your back!" she playfully threatened and squeezed his arms a little.
"Mmm, sounds like it'll be a lot of fun!" He paused. "But I thought you were supposed to be watching my back?"
He started to reply, then grinned and shook his head. "You know, that reminds me, something that's been on my mind since we were first assigned to Sonja."
"Oh, what's that?"
He tightened his hold around her and softened his expression. "You seemed to have no problem at all agreeing to the pretense of us being lovers for the sake of staging that argument at Emilio's so that Sonja would take the bait. Care to explain that a little more?"
She gave him an impish grin. "Not really."
"Uh-huh, playing hard to get, I guess."
"No, but considering our relationship, it really wasn't difficult to make the transition to lovers. You have to admit, we weren't too far from that stage."
"You have a point."
He nodded, then averted his eyes to look out at the water, thinking of the past few months they'd spent together since he had officially declared his interest in her. They had spent as much time together as they could, inventing excuses to see each other and finding reasons to stay just a little bit longer at his apartment or in her backyard. When her mother and the boys weren't home, they spent time at her house. He had finally begun to understand what life would be like if they were 'normal.' It was quite an adjustment for him, but it also gave him a sense of peace he never knew he'd feel in that situation.
This was by far the longest relationship he had ever had. Somehow, that didn't bother him in the least. In fact, he looked forward to each day spent with Amanda, knowing that each one would bring something new and exciting and give him one more reason to love her. He'd never felt such depth of feeling for someone. Now that he had Amanda, he wondered why he had avoided this his entire life. In his mind, he knew that if he had pursued it with someone else, he never would have found Amanda. After knowing her, second-best just wouldn't do.
"The only part I hated was having to listen to you in Sonja's apartment," she confessed, her voice breaking into this thoughts.
Lee brought his gaze back to her and sighed. "Amanda, you and I both knew what was going to happen, and you know it was only part of the assignment, so..."
"I know," she interrupted with a soft sigh of her own and looked down at her lap. "But that doesn't make it any easier to listen to you with another woman."
"Hey," he said softly, removing one hand from around her waist to lift her chin and look into her eyes. "There's only one woman for me. You know that." The intensity of his gaze increased, and he lowered his voice to a husky whisper. "No one will ever replace you!" He sealed his promise with a tender kiss, then pulled back and turned a little to rest his back against the steel supports of the overpass. "Now, we'd better eat. It's already way past dark, and we're going to need the energy and nourishment. This place is out of the way and safe, so we'll camp here tonight and work on a plan tomorrow."
About an hour later, Lee had managed to set up a crude shelter for them from the larger boxes in the area and suggested they both get some sleep. Tomorrow was so uncertain. They needed to be alert and on their toes to face whatever happened. Once they were lying beside each other, Lee placed his left arm around her shoulders and drew her closer to him to share their warmth with each other.
"Amanda, I really am sorry about the accommodations. I know it's nothing at all like you're used to. I wish..."
Her hand over his lips stopped him from saying anything else. She raised herself to look down at him. He stirred at the sight of her face hovering above his and the feel of her weight partially supported against him, but forced himself to remain in control.
"Lee, when I decided to come with you, I knew what risks were involved. I knew it wasn't going to be easy. But, I also knew I'd have you. Nothing else matters!"
He smiled. "I love you."
"I love you, too," she replied then pressed her lips to his.
When she pulled away, he leaned his head back on the pile of old sweatshirts he'd found in the bag in the Plymouth to use as pillows for them, then closed his eyes and started to relax. However, he felt her gaze still on him, and opened his eyes to find her looking at him with an intense but puzzled expression on her face.
"Amanda!" he softly chastised and gave her a knowing look. "If it's nothing, then why are you looking at me like that?"
"Like you're confused."
She looked away for a moment and lightly bit down on her bottom lip a few times before returning her gaze to him. "I was just thinking."
"About you ... and me."
"Care to be a little more specific?"
"Well, back at my house, when you finally told me you loved me, you said that you had for a long time, but weren't able to admit it. I was just wondering when you knew."
Lee expelled a long sigh and gazed up at her, realizing how important it was for her to know. How important it was for him to admit it to her. Admitting their love for each other just wasn't enough. Sharing how and when that love was realized would only serve to strengthen the bonds that held them together. He lifted his right hand to tenderly brush back a few strands of hair from her face and tuck them behind her ear, then smiled.
"Well, I knew you had become irrevocably entwined in my life when we were working on that case with Trans-Oceanic. I tried to fight it and unfortunately used Leslie to get my mind off of you. After seeing the two of you together that day in my apartment, I knew it was no use. However, I didn't realize I loved you until I was faced with the reality that I might lose you," he whispered, his voice choked with emotion.
Her brows drew together in confusion. "Lose me? How?"
"When Joe came back into the picture." Hwatched her start to protest, but he quickly continued. "I know what you said, but seeing the two of you with the boys really painted a clear picture of you with your family. You seemed so happy to have him back. When you told me about why you separated and how you weren't interested in going back, it drove home the everything that had been growing inside of me from the day we met. I was just too stubborn to admit it." Reaching up to tap her nose, then placing his hand over hers on his chest, he grinned. "Now, it's your turn."
She shifted her gaze to his chest and took several breaths, appearing to bolster her courage before she brought her gaze back to his and replied. "I feel a little foolish admitting this now ... but I pretty much knew when I was standing with you in front of the minister on San Angelo," she confessed.
His eyes widened in surprise, but he quickly softened them when he realized what she was admitting. She saw his reaction and hurried to continue.
"I know what you're thinking, and like I said, I feel silly that I'm only telling you this, now, but..."
"But you were waiting for me to make the first move," he finished for her with a smile.
"Yeah." She smiled and sighed.
He lifted his hand off hers and raised it to tenderly clasp her chin, then looked at her with all of the love he felt for her in his eyes. "So, what made you so sure?" he asked softly, lowering his hand once again to cover hers.
"Well, you may have put down that phony name and birthdate and everything, but I had no way of knowing it. To me, that was a real marriage. I knew what it entailed. When the minister asked me to repeat the vows, it hit me full force. I looked into your eyes and realized that if for some reason, we were unable to annul the marriage, I knew it could work between us. Of course, it would take a lot of work," she teased with a grin, then sobered, "but I was actually willing to try."
The pressure of her hand left his chest. He immediately felt the loss of warmth, but her soft touch on his face as she gently ran her fingers from his forehead, down his cheek, to stop as they lightly touched his lips, more than made up for the loss of contact. He closed his eyes and reveled in the warm rush of feelings that accompanied her touch, then kissed her fingers. When she took a breath, he opened his eyes again and saw her preparing to speak.
"Beneath that tough facade, I saw a little boy who was crying out for a real chance at a relationship, but didn't know how to proceed in one. I saw beyond the walls you had built and realized that you had it within in you to make the necessary commitments to form a lasting relationship." Her gaze softened, and her eyes darkened with emotion. "My boys have always been uppermost in my mind, and I had my own reservations about pursuing another relationship. But, as I looked into your eyes that day, I felt all of my fears disappear. I knew then that I loved you. It might not be the love that's grown to what I feel now, but it was definitely then that I knew," she rasped in a mere whisper, lightly brushing her fingers across his lips.
He felt his heart nearly burst with her declaration as his body responded to her touch. His own gaze became more intense. Knowing that she had enough faith in him to trust him to become so involved in her life, even at that time, was enough to take him over the edge. Unable to resist, he wrapped his other hand around her and drew her to him, immediately covering her lips with his and initiating a deep and passionate kiss, letting her know everything he felt for through his touch. His hands began to move in slow, circular motions across her back, matching the movement of his mouth on hers.
She responded with just as much pent-up emotion as he poured into the kiss. He sunk deeper and deeper beneath the raging waters of their love. Every fiber of his being was involved in this embrace. He knew himself well enough to know that if he didn't put a stop to things soon, it would be too late. Summoning every last bit of strength, he slowly pulled his lips away from hers, savoring the sweet taste and the heady feeling that nearly overwhelmed him.
"Amanda..." he barely managed to rasp, hearing his own voice thick with emotion and passion.
She placed a finger over his lips and tenderly gazed down at him. "Shhh, I know," she whispered. "Now, let's get some sleep."
Lee nodded and grinned with relief, not trusting his voice to reply, then settled them both into a comfortable position. With his arms securely wrapped around her, her head on his chest and her left arm draped across him, he couldn't have been happier. However, he also knew it was going to be a very long night sleeping so close to her and breathing in her intoxicating scent, the scent he had come to know as his Amanda. Forcing his mind and thoughts on the reassurance of having the woman he loved with him and dwelling on their present situation, he was able to finally drift into much-needed sleep, a smile on his lips. Tomorrow, he would face reality. Tonight, he was going to savor these moments with her and enjoy the peace he felt in his heart.
(to be continued....)