A Day in the Park
The cool breeze lifted the kites into the air with ease as the sound of children’s laughter filled the air. Spring had arrived with its usual flourish, bringing new life to the earth after the bitter winter. Looking down at her passenger seat, she picked up the small envelope addressed to her. She couldn't help but think that she had been cheated out of the new life spring brought with it.
Rolling up her car window, she stepped out onto the concrete sidewalk. The park held such a contradiction to the busy city streets she had just left. The happy voices, the squeals of children, the soft songs of birds filling the air, all of these simple things filled her with a sense of peace. Adjusting her sunglasses on her face to ward off the afternoon sun, she took a few steps forward to stand on the grass.
A soft smile graced her lips as she noticed her favorite spot was still free of others enjoying the park. Slowly walking the short distance to the old oak tree, she was oblivious to the warnings of a young boy heading in her direction, until it was too late. "Look out!"
Grumbling to herself that she had let her attention stray, she placed her hands on the ground and began to stand. The object, which had caused her demise, quickly offered a wet apology to her cheek before she could completely stand. "Are you all right? I'm sorry, ma'am. Duke was retrieving the Frisbee and I didn't see you in time before I threw it."
Wiping her face with her left hand, she smiled at the furry creature that now rubbed her legs. "That's all right. Just be more careful."
She watched as the dog and young owner walked back towards the center of the park. She had once had a companion such as him when she was a young child, but that was a long time ago and another story. Shrugging off the attack, she headed towards the tree.
Stopping before it, she touched the carved heart shape with her long nails tenderly. It seemed like an eternity since she had seen it. They had laughed, shared, and had become best friends in their trips to the park together. The innocent bystander would have thought that they were teenagers in love by their actions. They themselves had felt as if they were eachother’s first true love.
As the skin of her fingers touched the letters "J" and "F" imbedded in the wood, she looked down at the letter she held in her hand. Ignoring her proper upbringing, she settled on the grass floor in Indian style. The letter held so much hope when she had seen it attached to a vase of long stem roses. She remembered trembling as she opened the seal. The contents, however, were not what she had hoped for. Those words were what had brought her to the park today.
She glanced once again at the wrinkled envelope, not needing to read the contents again to remember what it said. The words would be forever burned into her mind. He had told her what a wonderful woman she was and that he didn't deserve her. That he was moving on in his life and she wouldn't "fit" into his plans. He had even signed it "Love, Jonathan."
Feeling the tears prick at the edges of her eyes, she stiffened. She didn't show her emotions…not to anyone. Over the past ten years she had only broken down once in the presence of another. His emotional barriers were similar to hers. She hadn't needed to explain why she leaned against his broad shoulders for support that day. In fact, words weren't spoken at all.
She tossed the letter to the ground as she looked up at the sound of the young boy calling his dog, Duke, back to him. Glancing around at the other families at play, she thought about how secure they felt to have one another. A privilege that she had never shared with her own family. She had felt safe in his arms that day…safer than she had felt in a long time. Sure she felt safe when "Scarecrow" had assignments with her, but that day, Scarecrow was present as only her friend. He wasn't judging her or expecting anything from her. He was just there.
She thought back to her brief romantic encounter with Lee. She had allowed her own need for physical comfort to control her actions before she thought of how it would affect their relationship. They had become lovers that day and continued to forgo their friendship bond for physical satisfaction for weeks afterwards.
He had been there when Jonathan had left her abruptly, and they both knew in their hearts that their relationship would go no further than the physical aspect. She couldn't help but hope she could be the one to "tame" him, but she had not been able too. He had tried to be gentle in letting her know that he would always be her friend, and that he would always be there for her but he wasn't ready for anything permanent in his life.
She felt the warm tear slide down her cheek and did nothing to prevent it from falling to the ground. A familiar voice brought her from her deep thoughts as she looked up to see the man she had been thinking of.
Two teenage boys surrounded him as he tried to escape their guard and make the shot towards the basketball hoop. She couldn't help the smile that eased its way onto her face as she watched his lean body fall flat on its butt. She watched as his partner covered her mouth to hide a similar smile, and her mother stood, shaking her finger at the young boys telling them to be gentle with Lee.
Lee and Amanda had become more than partners and friends over the past four years. She had watched the transgression happen with a tinge of jealousy towards her female colleague. She had even warned Amanda that Lee wasn't the type to settle for one woman. "He had to have the whole buffet."
Thinking back to their conversation in the Q-Bureau she now saw the truth. Perhaps, Lee had settled down to become a "normal" family man. He seemed at ease with her family, and lately, if the Agency needed him he could usually be found at Amanda's house.
Lee Stetson was a different man from her Jonathon. Apparently he had been brave enough to take the next step in his relationship with Amanda and from the smile on his face he was happy. Picking up the envelope at her feet, she placed her hand on the ground and pushed herself up, then leaned her tired body against the tree for support.
Shaking her head at the irony of her life, she started back for her red convertible. A small trashcan in her path now held the crumbled envelope she had carried. Stopping before opening the door, she took off her sunglasses and squinted against the sunlight. The "family" had moved to courtside, and were now ravishing a picnic basket. Her handsome friend had a chicken leg in one hand, and a smile plastered across his face. He made the perfect image of a father standing there amongst the boys with his right arm wrapped snuggly around Amanda's waist. Sighing heavily she opened her door and slid into the driver’s seat. Taking one last look at the group she started the engine. "One day I will have that type of relationship. One day."
Looking around the soft brown hair that tickled his face with each breath of the spring breeze, Lee Stetson watched the two teenage boys, who were now his sons, devour what was left of the fried chicken. Just as he was about to protest loudly that he had not had his fill of the delicious food his mother-in-law had prepared, he heard the familiar hum of a Mustang engine.
His past experiences had made him aware of his surroundings even in the most relaxed times. Scanning the area for the source of noise, his eyes landed on his co-workers red GT easing it’s way onto the busy street. Pulling his wife closer to his body, he leaned his head close to hers as he pushed her straying hair behind her ear. "Looks like Francine isn’t going to believe you the next time you tell her that we aren’t an item."
Amanda took her eyes off her sons, titling her head back slightly to see where her husband, of three months, was focusing his attention. Following his laughter-filled eyes to see Francine’s vehicle swerve into traffic, she realized what he was referring too. Their marriage was still a secret, but she knew they weren’t fooling any of the office gossips any more. Not only that, but Billy and Francine always knew that if Lee wasn’t at his apartment, chances were he was at her house. Raising her eyebrows in question, she asked, "What do you mean?"
"Not sure what she was doing here, but Francine just drove away without speaking to us." Lee looked over to see that Dotty was busy putting some more coleslaw on a plate for Phillip. "I’m sure it wasn’t business related, or she would’ve tried to get our attention, somehow."
Amanda kept her eyes locked on Francine’s car, which had stopped to allow pedestrians to cross the street a little further up at the traffic signal. "I wonder what she was doing out here. I hope she’s okay. I know sometimes, when I’m upset I like to find a place full of happiness to go and just think. I wonder if that was what she was doing." Then looking around at the happy families, she suddenly thought about how Francine had avoided her and Lee lately. "You know, I wonder if everything is okay between her and Jonathan."
Lee’s eyes turned from laughter to concern at the mention of Jonathan’s name. Narrowing his eyes slightly, he studied his wife’s face. "What do you mean?"
Shrugging her shoulders, she laid her head back against her husband’s strong chest. "Nothing really. I know that she was all excited about going to dinner Thursday night with him. Then yesterday, at the office, she would barely say two words to me that weren’t work related. She just seems a bit down."
Inhaling the sweet aroma that drifted into his nostrils from her hair where his chin now rested, Lee sighed heavily. "I kept telling her that he was bad news. I’m not really sure why she forgave him for that whole Brody mess." A silence hung in the air between man and wife as Lee thought back to the first time Jonathan had left Francine. He had been there for her then as a friend offering physical comfort. Today, he would be there for her as a friend again, only this time, he would offer her the emotional support that she would need.
He had told Francine that she owed the S. O. B. nothing but to show him the door for his treatment of her last time. But, as he found out, love does do funny things to people and she had given him another chance. Glancing to his left, he watched his youngest stepson loading film into his camera. The feeling of complete happiness filled him as he realized, yet again, how much falling in love with the woman in his arms had changed him.
Feeling her fingers stroke the skin of his hands, which had now, unconsciously, tightened around her waist, he thought about those changes. Four years ago, he would never have thought twice about charging head first into the eyes of danger. Now, whenever he did, Amanda and their family always came to mind. He found himself telling Billy more and more often, that he wasn’t willing to take long overnight trips.
Lee knew that he wasn’t fooling his boss whenever he protested about being sent on long assignments. He tried to play it off that he wasn’t that type of agent anymore, but he was sure Billy knew the real reason. Lee couldn’t hide it from anyone that he didn’t want to be away from his family anymore than necessary. Billy was on to their relationship, but he just wasn’t sure how much his superior knew. Billy had even made the off hand comment after the mess with Harry and Katrina, that a "partnership was like a marriage."
Amanda pulled from his embrace slightly to turn and look back at her quiet partner. Lee’s eyes softened as her eyes meet his. Words didn’t need to be spoken between the two for the other to realize where their thoughts laid.
Taking her hand in his, Lee brought it to his lips and kissed it tenderly. Seeing the love that shone in her eyes, he thought back to how he could have lost her so easily on their honeymoon. He was still a little anxious about having her back in the field with him, these past few cases, she’d worked the information gathering end, while he did the leg work. He was able to do his job without worrying about her safety, but at the same time, he missed having her watch his back. It would be tough, but he was looking forward to having her back as his full-time partner. It would give them more time to be "alone."
No sooner had he thought the words, than Phillip picked up the basketball and turned to his mother’s "boyfriend." "Lee, you ready to hit the court again?"
"Phillip," Amanda lifted her head, and took on a motherly tone. "You just finished eating. I don’t think running around on the court is such a good idea."
"Aw, Mom." Phillip’s head fell in defeat.
"What if we just stand and see how many baskets we can make, from different points on the court. Kind of work on the free throws." Lee looked from his eldest stepson, to his wife. "Would that be okay, Amanda?"
Amanda sighed, but smiled. "I suppose, as long as you take it easy, until your food has time to settle." She turned to look her husband in the eye. "Deal?"
Lee looked at Phillip, seeing the boy’s face light up, he turned back to Amanda. "Deal." He said in unison with Phillip.
"Go on then." She laughed. "Jamie," she turned to look at her youngest, "aren’t you going to join them?"
Jamie, looked up, adjusted the glasses on his face, which had slipped to the end of his nose. "Nah, that’s okay. I’m gonna take some shots of the people here at the park."
Lee had made some progress with Jamie, but still felt the boy wasn’t totally willing to accept him. "Are you sure?" he asked, a little worry coming to his voice.
Jamie heard the concern in Lee’s voice. It warmed him somehow, that this man, who Phillip thought could do no wrong, felt somewhat uneasy around him. "Yeah, I’m sure. I think I’ve had my fill of basketball for the day. Besides, I want to use up some of this film you got me." He smiled and headed a little ways from the picnic area.
Lee looked once at Amanda, who smiled reassuringly, and said. "Go on. He’ll be fine."
Lee leaned over and placed a quick kiss on her lips before standing to his feet. "I love you," he whispered, and was off on the court with his waiting stepson.
Dotty had watched the whole scene. She had been very aware of just how good Lee was with the boys. He seemed to make a genuine effort to get to know them and fit-into their lives. This whole picnic idea had been his idea from the start. She also knew, that when he could, he made an attempt to join Amanda on everyone of the boy’s school activities. Things like the baseball practices and games. He even went with Amanda to a parent’s night not to long ago. That one surprised her the most.
She watched as her daughter took a sip of her drink, and decided it was time to have a heart to heart with her daughter. Moving over, she sat down on the blanket next to Amanda. "It’s a beautiful day isn’t it, Dear?"
"Yes, Mother, it is," she said, as she watched Jamie shoot some pictures of Lee and Phillip on the court. "I think Jamie’s finally warming up to Lee, don’t you?"
Dotty nodded. "I think it’s good to have a male around the house."
Amanda turned to look at her mother. She knew that tone, and knew exactly what her mother’s next words would be. "Mother…"
Dotty put an arm around her shoulder. "Oh don’t ‘Mother’ me," she chuckled. "Lee is the best thing that has happened to you since Dean. I often hoped that you and Joe would get back together, but I can see know, that there was someone who held you’re eye."
Amanda wanted to protest, but there really wasn’t anything to protest about. Her mother was right. Lee was the best thing that had happened to her. She knew that, for more reasons than one, from the moment he had handed her that package four years ago. "You know what, Mother? You’re right."
"I am?" Dotty seemed a bit surprised by the answer.
"Yes. You are." Amanda suddenly felt happy to be able to talk about Lee to her mother. "It may have taken us sometime to realize that we felt something for each other. But now that I have him, I don’t plan on letting him walk out of my life."
"I’m so happy to hear you say that," Dotty replied. "I was afraid that you two might not have been thinking about a long lasting commitment. He’s perfect for you. He makes you happy, and he genuinely cares for the boys."
Amanda rolled her eyes. She knew that was coming. "Yes he does. But, I don’t know if we’re ready to rush down that path yet. I think the boys, at least Jamie, need a bit more time to adjust to him. Besides, with Joe marrying Carrie in a few weeks, the last thing we need to worry about is another big wedding."
Dotty moved to start packing up the food. "Well, just don’t wait forever. I’ve grown to love that man, as a son, and well, I don’t think I could stand to see you let another good man slip away."
Amanda shook her head. "Trust me, Mother. Lee isn’t going anywhere." She moved to help her start packing the stuff up. Amanda stopped momentarily to watch Lee make another basket. ‘Maybe its time we did start talking about coming clean. I’m tired of waking up mornings, alone. Or sneaking home from Lee’s apartment at the wee hours of the morning, just to get home in time to come downstairs and make breakfast for the boys.’ This secret marriage seemed to be more frustrating than exciting, and almost more like an affair than a marriage.
‘Maybe tonight,’ she thought as she packed the leftover chicken back in the basket, ‘while we’re sitting in front of the fireplace, we can talk about becoming a real family.’
"Amanda." Dotty called for the third time. When her daughter finally looked her way, "What were you thinking about?"
"Nothing much, really. Just how nice it is to be out here, and not have to worry about work." She wasn’t about to let her mother know, that she was seriously considering making them a "real" family. Her voice was barely a whisper as she continued her task. "One Day. One Day, soon."
Disclaimers: Scarecrow and Mrs. King is copyrighted to Warner Brothers and Shoot the Moon Production Company. This story, however, is copyrighted to the mentioned author. This story is for entertainment purposes ONLY. If you would like to add it to an archive, please just let me know.
Timeframe: Right after the end of Fourth Season
Timeframe: Right after the end of Fourth Season