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This story takes place after my story Trial by Fire. Unless you’ve read that one, this one won’t make much sense. There was a suggestion to continue with the sessions Amanda and Lee had with Dr. Pfaff, so here they are. Grey Fool, this is all because of your review. Thanks for the idea, hope you like it.
Trial by Fire—the Aftermath
Epilogue 1 Thursday morning, 9am Dr. Pfaff’s office within the Agency
Amanda knocked and opened the door to Dr. Pfaff’s office when she heard him say “Come in.”
“Good morning, Mrs. King.” Dr. Pfaff looked eager to begin.
“Good morning, Dr. Pfaff.” Amanda shut the door after herself.
“Well, Mrs. King—“ Dr. Pfaff interrupted himself and opened his small refrigerator. “Would you like some ice cream?” He offered her a frozen bar.
“No thank you. It’s a bit early for me.”
He shrugged, “Suit yourself. You don’t mind if I do?” He questioned hopefully.
Amanda smiled and shook her head. “Oh no—it’s your office after all.”
He unwrapped his treat and took a bite. He gestured to the couch, “Would you like to lie down on the couch?”
Amanda sat in the chair instead. “I’ll just sit here, if that’s OK.”
“Whatever you feel comfortable with, Mrs. King. I’m here to help you, you know.” He lay on the couch and opened a notebook and poised his pencil, ready to take notes.
“I know, Dr. Pfaff.” Amanda tried to settle in and get comfortable.
“How are you doing—any difficulties at home?”
“No. Mother was a bit upset because I didn’t call during the week, but I told her we stayed in a cabin in the Shenandoah Mountains—and there was no phone—so really there was no way to call out.”
Dr. Pfaff nodded in confirmation, “Yes, that’s how the cabin was.”
“I really hate lying to my mother.” Amanda was uncomfortable.
Dr. Pfaff was dismissive, “Unfortunately, this line of work requires a certain amount of subterfuge—and you’ve been working at the Agency for nearly three years now.”
“It will be three years in October, so I’ve got a way to go for that.”
“Certainly you should be used to the subterfuge by now, Mrs. King.”
She nodded, “I guess I’m used to it—but I still don’t like lying to my mother. I didn’t when I was little—and I still don’t. I try to tell my boys that they should be truthful—just tell the truth—it’s always better in the end. I feel like such a hypocrite.”
“You’ve got to balance national security with your personal inclinations.”
“Yeah I know.” She muttered darkly, “But I still don’t like lying…”
“Are your injuries healing well?”
“Oh yeah. My face was mostly healed by the time I got home, and my hand is almost healed, too. My side still hurts and the bruise still shows, but it’s getting better.”
“Were you comfortable returning home?”
“Oh yeah—it was great sleeping in my own bed—y’know no matter how nice another place is—you just don’t sleep as well unless you’re home in your own bed.”
“Huh?” Amanda was confused.
“You woke up alone this morning, right?”
What was the man getting at? “Of course. It’s been years since either of the boys crawled into my bed after a nightmare or a big storm.”
“I’m not talking about your boys.”
“Oh.” Amanda was still puzzled.
“What do you remember of your stay in the hospital?”
“I was already debriefed. You were there. What are you getting at?”
Dr. Pfaff turned to look at her, “Two of those nights you ended up sleeping with Scarecrow—your partner.”
“What?!?” Amanda was shocked. “Lee and I didn’t … we never…”
Dr. Pfaff shook his head, “You misunderstand. I’m not saying you and Stetson had a sexual liaison.”
“Oh. Then what? …” She was still somewhat put out. ‘Lee was right. I can’t trust this guy—he’s sure rude…’ she thought agitatedly.
“You and he slept together—as in sleep—as in he held you in his arms as you both slept.”
“Oh. That.” She couldn’t think of anything else to say about it.
“What do you remember about it?”
She gathered her memories and tried to be calm and pragmatic. “Ah—I remember waking up with Lee bedside me in bed—it was weird—I was pretty shocked about it—then he sat up and I saw he was wearing a t-shirt and sweat pants—and I figured nothing happened…”
“Do you remember how you ended up like that?”
“Um…” Amanda paused to think, ‘What is safe here? Just tell him the truth, I guess.’ She took a breath and began, “The Nazis were coming to get us. I was scared they’d take us away and shoot us. Lee said it was OK and they were gone—but I was still scared. He held me and said it was OK. I felt safe. I feel safe with Lee. I guess we fell asleep.”
“I see. What about the second time?”
“Second time? That was the second time.”
“Tell me about the first time, then.” He made some notes.
“It was at the cabin.”
“Tell me about it,” he asked gently, but with an intent look.
“I don’t remember much. I woke up in bed—Lee was sitting up and holding me—I really hurt a lot—I hurt everywhere and I felt awful. Lee said it was because of the drugs and being … beat up.” She got quiet.
“Do you find that disturbing?”
“Well, I’ve been hit a couple of times before this, but this time was surely the worst. My side really hurt—now it’s just sore and achy—but well…” She paused and took a breath. “They drugged me and beat me up—and the mean man tried to … well …it was pretty awful. I think Lee was really upset—he kept clenching his jaw and talking really calmly. He only does that when he’s upset or trying to keep something from me.”
“How do you feel about going back into the field? Could you go back to working with Scarecrow?”
“Of course.” She nodded brightly. “That wasn’t Lee’s fault. Well, it sort-of was—they thought I was Lee—well Scarecrow—but Lee didn’t do anything to cause it—well actually he did because he’s such a good agent—he’s the best there is at catching the bad guys so naturally he’d get a reputation and in the spy business—sorry—intelligence community—and that reputation is bound to backfire once in a while but really—I was just in the right place at the wrong time—or maybe the wrong place—no—I was supposed to be there in the park to meet Lee and TP except it wasn’t safe—except I didn’t know that—but Lee tried to call—he really did it’s just that I had already left and I don’t have one of those mobile phones in my car like Lee does—otherwise he might have gotten ahold of me and I could have gone straight into the Agency instead of the park that morning—no I’m not worried at all. I’m looking forward to working with Lee. I mean, we’re partners. We watch each others’ backs.”
Dr. Pfaff was momentarily taken aback. He blinked and forged ahead. He consulted his notes. “What about the time you and Scarecrow slept together on the couch?” he asked.
Amanda nodded, “That was after the other nightmare—about my early days at the Agency.”
“Yes, I have the transcripts from the tapes—you said you felt like you did when you started here.”
“Yeah. It was pretty tough. I didn’t realize how tough it was until I thought about it in the hospital. But I stuck with it—and it’s been worth it. Things are better now.”
“How is that?”
“People treat me better—they don’t look down on me or make fun of me behind my back—well, except for Francine—but she really does it to my face.”
Dr. Pfaff nodded and consulted his notes again. “You said Scarecrow hit you…”
Amanda sighed and shifted in her chair. “Yes, he did. But he was playing his cover. It was the Edson Ballon case—when he was supposed to be burnt out.”
“I see. So you and Stetson talked about your nightmare on the couch and…”
She shrugged, “I guess we just fell asleep.”
“Sure. What else could there be?”
“How close are you and Stetson?”
She nodded and thought to herself, ‘Here it comes—I’m glad Lee warned me about this…’ She replied matter-of-factly, “We’re partners—and I guess best friends. We work together and we can talk about most anything…”
“Do you see each other outside of work?”
“Occasionally we go out to dinner.”
“Really?” He sounded excited, and took more notes.
“How many times?”
She thought a moment, “I don’t know exactly. We’re so busy—and then I have my family—I don’t get out much—but occasionally we go out to celebrate closing a case—stuff like that.”
”Do you date, Mrs. King?”
“No,” she said regretfully. “I just don’t have time. I mean—I tried for a while—but the job got in the way. I was seeing a nice man when I got into this business. He wanted to marry me. We eventually broke up. I tried dating after that—it just never went anywhere. I don’t have time with the job and my family. The boys keep me pretty busy. Maybe in a few years when they both can drive—maybe not. The thought of Philip driving is a bit scary…”
“Are you dating your partner, Mrs. King?”
“Lee? Date me?!? I’m not his type.” She was a bit dismayed at how quickly and easily the denial and rationalization came out. Maybe she had misinterpreted Lee’s dinner invitation for Friday…
“I see.” Dr. Pfaff made a few notes. He continued, “Stetson ended up sleeping in your room the night after you slept together on the couch.”
“He did? Oh yeah, I guess he must have.”
“What do you think about that?”
She sighed, “He’s really sweet—he does watch over me—we watch out for each other, really—but sometimes he can be a bit—ah—over protective, I guess.”
“Do you resent that?”
“Sometimes it gets tiresome. He always tells me to stay in the car.”
She smiled, “Sometimes.”
“I see. Do you consider his sleeping in your room that night a personal intrusion?”
She shook her head, “He was just watching out for me. I mean, nothing happened. It must have been tough on him—he found out I was kidnapped—then drugged—he was really worried—and I guess I wasn’t acting normal—the drugs and stuff … So I guess he had reason to be worried. He was just watching out for me, that’s all.”
“What are your feelings toward your partner?”
“Well, we’re partners … best friends … I care for him a lot.”
“Do you love him?”
“Sure I do.”
“Do you plan to act on that love?”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, you say you’re in love with your partner—“
She cut him off, “Whoa! I said I loved Lee—like a friend is what I meant.”
“I’m sorry—I misunderstood your statement.”
“I guess so.”
“Then there’s no romantic involvement between you and Stetson?”
She thought quickly, ‘Here it is. Lee was right.’ “No, Dr. Pfaff,” she replied decisively. “I told you before—Lee would sooner date my mother than date me. I’m just not his type.”
“But would you date him if he asked you?”
“Dr. Pfaff, it’s just not going to happen. So why should I set myself up for disappointment?”
”You seem to have a low opinion of yourself, Mrs. King.”
She shook her head, “No—just realistic.”
“I know who and what I am.”
“And that is ...”
“A suburban housewife with two boys, a mother and a mortgage who is also a part-time spy—uh, intelligence operative. I’m nothing like any of Lee’s girlfriends. I’m not glamorous or sophisticated or—uh—well, how do I say this politely?—sexually free.” She ducked her head to hide her blush.
“I see. Does that make you uncomfortable?”
“The idea of being sexually free?”
“I have my boys to consider and I can’t tell them one thing and do something different myself. What kind of an example would that be?”
“So, if you didn’t have children, you would behave differently?”
“Oh gosh—that’s terrible! I love my boys—I can’t imagine not having my boys—they’re such a big part of my life.”
He tried another tack, “Were you sexually active in college, Mrs. King?”
“That’s not the type of person I am. That’s not to say someone who is sexually active is a bad person—it’s just not for me—it’s just not who I am, that’s all.”
“So you’ve never been sexually active?”
She shook her head, “No, not really.”
He jotted down a few more notes. “What are your plans from today until Monday?”
“Uh—today’s Thursday, and I’m off until Monday. Today I’ll go home and clean the house—do laundry—mother really helps out a lot but it isn’t fair to expect her to do it all—so I have a lot of catching up to do—I was gone a whole week, y’know. After my appointment tomorrow, I’ll go grocery shopping—then I have to get some baking done—Saturday at school is a PTA fundraiser and I said I’d contribute something for that. Saturday I’ll drop off my contribution on the way to Philip’s game—we’ll watch—his team is almost to the playoffs—then we’ll probably go out for lunch. Then later that afternoon the boys are going to be with Joe—that’s my ex-husband, he came back to the states after that problem last December—gee, Joe was a case—that’s so weird—then Saturday night mother and I will watch a movie and eat popcorn—unless she has a date. Then Sunday I thought I’d do some yard work unless there’s bad weather—but the garage needs cleaning out—so I guess I can do that even if it rains. Then Sunday evening the boys need to finish their homework—school is ending but they still need to keep up their schoolwork. That’s pretty much it, I guess.” She stopped and looked expectant.
Dr. Pfaff was again somewhat taken aback. He had observed Mrs. King’s ‘rambling’ before, but it was very different when he was the sole target of her verbal barrage. He shook his head before he spoke, “You certainly have a busy life, Mrs. King.”
She shrugged, “Oh, I manage OK.”
“When do you get time to yourself?”
“After the boys are in bed, I read or watch TV—that’s my quiet time.”
“Are you happy working here at the Agency?”
“Oh yes. I really like the people I work with—not so much Francine—but most everyone else is nice—maybe not Dr. Smyth—but yeah.”
“Are there aspects of your job you don’t like?”
“The filing and paperwork can get dull—but then sometimes you find out the most interesting things in the details…” she smiled to herself.
“I’m told you’re resistant to using a gun.”
She sighed. “I don’t like guns. They’re so dangerous.”
“But they’re a necessary part of the job, Mrs. King.”
“Maybe, but I don’t ever want to shoot anyone.”
“Many agents never kill anyone in their entire career.”
“Oh gosh! That would be terrible—if I killed someone! I don’t know how I’d live with myself after that…” she was chagrined.
“Your partner has killed people—do you think less of him because of it?”
“Lee is a trained agent—it’s part of his job. He doesn’t go out trying to kill people—he’s upset by it—but he doesn’t like people to know that.” She ducked her head in guilt for making Lee’s remorse known to the psychiatrist. “But I don’t think less of him. I wish he could do his job without killing people—and he really doesn’t kill people very often…”
“I see.” Dr. Pfaff wrote a few more notes. “What do you think you have gained from your experiences this last week?”
Amanda was taken aback at the question. He made it sound like she had been participating in a motivational training seminar or something. ‘Just better answer the question as best as I can…’ she thought. “Wow! That’s something I hadn’t thought about. What have I gained?” she asked herself. She sat quietly for a few moments, thinking. “Well, I’ve sure learned a lot about the intelligence business since I started here. This was a lot different from the last time I was kidnapped in Lee’s place. I mean … I was scared then—and this time too—but this time I could think things through and plan—I got my hands free and nearly got away—and I knew what I needed to do. Just hold on—just wait until Lee came and rescued me. I knew if I held out Lee would get there and he’d rescue me.”
Dr. Pfaff looked exasperated, “Mrs. King, have you considered there may be a time when Scarecrow won’t come to rescue you?”
“Of course. But then Mr. Melrose or someone else will—or I’ll save myself. I’ve managed to get Lee and myself out of a few tight places, you know. I’m not totally helpless.” She sounded defensive, then she stopped short and came to a realization. “Oh! I’m not totally helpless—I guess that’s what you meant when you asked what have I gained.”
“Do you feel that’s something you’ve gained? Self-reliance?”
“Maybe not self-reliance so much as confidence. I’ve been doing this for a while—and I know I’m more confident about being a spy.”
“But you don’t want to shoot anyone.”
“What else might you have learned in the past week, Mrs. King?”
She thought quickly, ‘That I can’t trust you, Dr. Pfaff.’ Then she put her thoughts back on track, “Ah—I guess I can deal with more of the tough stuff that I thought I could. Although I really don’t want to get beat up ever again,” she admitted grimly.
“Nobody wants to get beaten up. What about the mean man’s sexual advances? You suppressed those memories.”
“Did I?” she seemed puzzled.
“Yes, you did. How do you feel about that part of your experience?”
She shifted uncomfortably in her seat, and sighed in resignation. “Well, it was awful. I’ve been pawed by a couple guys—on dates and stuff—but the mean man was really nasty. He tried to get me to think if I—ah—had sex with him that he’d let me go. I know he’d just have killed me afterward—he was lying and—I don’t know—I guess I’m a bit upset that he’d think I couldn’t see through his lies… Or maybe … someone like Francine might have used it as a chance to try to escape … but I hurt so bad—and I knew Lee was coming to rescue me. I don’t think I could have escaped even if I had the chance—I never thought of that at the time—I guess I missed that.” She looked down at her hands twisted in her lap.
“Mrs. King, you are thinking of it now. That’s how you learn and expand your options.”
“OK.” She agreed quietly.
“Looking back—could you do something like that—agree to a sexual liaison to offer yourself an opportunity to escape?”
She twisted her hands more and shifted again. “I … I don’t think so.” She answered miserably. “I mean … I guess it would depend on the situation … but … no. Gosh, I hope I never have to make that decision.”
“A good agent plans for most any situation.”
“But I’m not a real agent—I’m just a civilian auxiliary.”
“You’re operating like a field agent—you’re in the field with Scarecrow on a regular basis—you’re Scarecrow’s partner.”
“Yeah,” she admitted.
“So maybe you should consider that sort of option, should the opportunity present itself in the future.”
“Ah—I will certainly think about it, Dr. Pfaff,” she said uncomfortably.
He sat up. “Your time is up for today.”
“Oh,” she said with relief.
“I’ll see you tomorrow at 9 again, OK?”
“OK. Thank you Dr. Pfaff.” She got up and quickly left his office.
Amanda thought about her session with Dr. Pfaff as she drove home. ‘He sure is persistent about finding out if Lee and I are ‘involved’. Lee was right about that. And I didn’t lie. We haven’t dated—yet. Friday evening—tomorrow evening. I know Lee cares for me as partners and best friends. But romantically? I’m no Randi-baby. He’s got to know I wouldn’t sleep with him—so why does he want to date me? Why did he want to date Leslie? She was certainly no Randi-baby either. I wonder if she slept with him?’ She quickly shook her head to dismiss the thought, ‘It’s not my business—none of my business. Besides it’s the past. Done. Over.’
She mused further, ‘I really want Lee to think of me in a romantic way—I really do. And sometimes I wonder if I’m just fooling myself. But then I catch him looking at me—and he doesn’t know I’ve seen him … I do love him. And I’m in love with him. I’ve been in love with him for a while—maybe a long time. Oh Gosh! I can’t let Dr. Pfaff know that…’
She quickly shifted her thoughts to the housecleaning she was planning for the rest of her day. Those thoughts were much safer.