The Right Number
Disclaimer: Scarecrow and Mrs. King belong to Warner Brothers and Shoot the Moon Productions. The plot is mine.
Summary: This is a possible what-if story right after the episode 'Wrong Number' but before 'The Boy Who Could Be King.' Lee and Amanda were very hands-on in front of Billy in the latter episode so I wanted to provide a little filler between episodes. I tried not to break canon for this little romantic tale.
I want to thank the dream team who worked tirelessly to make this into a story! I thank each one of you for your input!
Chapter 1: Poppy Seeds
"Yum. Smells like it is almost done," Amanda thought to herself as she entered her cheery kitchen. Using the time while the cake was in the oven, she had a relaxing shower and changed into her favorite pink Georgetown sweatshirt and faded pair of comfortable jeans. With her ponytail bobbing, she peeked into her oven. A blast of sweet smelling hot air blasted her face. Her poppy seed cake had risen to greet her. "Amanda, your poppy seed is your Sistine chapel." She wondered how many times her mother had said those exact words to her every time she made this cake.
As she felt the warmth of the oven leave her face as she closed the oven door, the quiet of the empty house surrounded her. With both mother and the boys gone for the weekend, she thought it was the perfect time to do some baking to relieve the stress of the last week.
The entire week had ended up taking her in a direction she hadn't expected. Billy had asked her to do her first background check without Lee. She'd been excited about the prospect of doing a complete and thorough solo mission. She was to interviews and give her recommendation regarding renewing the security clearance of a local mathematician, Dr. William Towne. This man had a Ph.D in theoretical numbers theory from Georgetown, and had cracked many military cyphers and diplomatic codes for the country. Therefore, it was imperative to periodically check his security clearance. She never could have anticipated how that simple assignment would become intertwined with a hostage situation and the KGB.
Chapter 2 – Decision Made
Across town, Lee arrived home late in the evening after putting the finishing touches on his files at the office. The case had started out as a kidnapping. However, by the end, it was wrapped around a local mathematician, a Russian look-a-like, and Gregory, the Washington Station Chief for the KGB. Of course, Amanda had just to be wrapped up in it too as the mathematician was the man she was doing a simple background check on. Lee had initially laughed it off when he saw how dedicated she was to the rookie assignment, but in the end, he had to give her credit. She had gone toe-to-toe with him regarding the information she'd obtained, not backing down even in front of Billy. As the agent of record, she was correct yet again.
As he walked into his apartment, he haphazardly threw his jacket over the arm of his couch. He showered, and then got dressed again into a comfortable pair of jeans and a tee-shirt. Most nights, after a hard day at work or the end of a case, he would have just thrown on a pair of sweats and relaxed with a drink to unwind. Tonight, however, he was restless. Despite the late hour, he had a nagging feeling that he couldn't resolve his internal struggles until he saw Amanda, and told her how sorry he was for being a jerk during the case. He'd argued with her in front of their boss who ended up playing referee.
Deep down, he also knew he just wanted to spend some time with her, alone. Lately, they had been bogged down with work. He treasured the private moments when he could really study her and get to know her better on a personal level. The growing attraction he had been feeling towards her had added to the tension that had played a part in his tirades in Billy's office. He'd long given up on the façade of simply being friends. He was attracted to her, intrigued, and wanted to know her better. Every day, he learned some new facet of her, and wanted to know more.
4247 Maplewood Drive came into his mind, and without another thought, he grabbed his car keys and headed back out. 'The right number,' he thought a little later as he maneuvered through the dark streets of Arlington. He knew he wouldn't forget that address for the rest of his life. It just felt like a second home for him. Pulling up against the curb, Lee glanced at his watch. It was a little late for a social call, but he wanted to take a chance and see if Amanda was awake, too. He tip-toed into the backyard and saw the warm glow emanating from the kitchen windows. The relief flooding through him that he would be able to see Amanda was quickly replaced by a feeling of nervous apprehension trying to drown him. Lately, when he was anywhere in the vicinity of Amanda King, there was a palpable feeling of anticipation that he just couldn't explain. He no longer feared it, but he wasn't at ease either. It made him hyper aware of everything he said and did, which didn't always go as planned. He'd begun to scrutinize all of his actions around her. "Why?" he wondered as he continued to watch her movements through the window. "Because you care about her and what she thinks of you," responded the voice of reason in his head. He wasn't sure what his reaction would be if he acted on his feelings, and for a man who always liked to be in control, he felt completely out of control when he was close to her. That part scared him because he didn't want to ever do anything to jeopardize their friendship. Regardless, he knew he had to do something, and he was willing to risk that. He could no longer go on the way they were, and he wanted to see their relationship progress further. He spotted her through the pane of glass.
He knew he had to talk to her about what was going on between them. Was there something more there than their partnership? Their friendship had deepened, but how far? Was there something more to their causal flirting which had increased in the last months? These were just some of the questions he realized he needed answered. He continued to watch her now, taking in her appearance for the first time. She had made no effort in putting any make-up on, and looked comfortable and at ease in an old sweatshirt and worn jeans. Suddenly, he caught himself beginning to wonder if she was wearing a bra under all that material. He had seen many beautiful women wearing designer clothing that hugged their every curve. Yet, Amanda was simply the most stunning in her unguarded natural beauty as she moved in time to a song. His breath caught in his throat as he realized the song that had been drifting out to him was "Take My Breath Away" by Berlin. It was a perfect match for that was exactly what Amanda did to him.
Seeing her take out her famous poppy seed cake and place it on a cooling rack, he knew it was time that he made his presence known and rapped quietly on the glass pane. He knocked once more, a little harder, before she finally heard him over the music.
Chapter 3 - Compliments
Amanda turned slowly and eyed Lee standing at the kitchen door, peering through the middle pane. She saw his questioning look and nodded her head, assuring him that he hadn't come at a bad time. She reached for the radio and turned it down before opening the door and inviting him inside.
"Hi there," she greeted him cheerfully. "What are you doing out here at this time of night?"
"Is it safe to be here right now?" he whispered, while pointing towards the upstairs.
"Yes," she smiled. "They boys are spending the weekend with Joe, now that he's back in town, he wants to spend more time with them, and Mother is on a garden club retreat until Sunday."
"Ahh, that's sounds nice. Well, then a quiet weekend for you to unwind and relax," he replied his voice taking on a tone she didn't quite understand. "I didn't mean to interrupt your peace and quiet," he continued before getting up his nerve, "but I was hoping to talk you about..."
"Oh, you're not interrupting at all. Come in," Amanda interrupted quickly before he could continue and opened the backdoor wider to allow him entrance. Amanda watched as he scanned the room as if taking inventory. He spent a little too much time eyeing her wine glass, which prompted her to ask him, "Would you like a glass?"
"That sounds great. Thank you," his reply was muffled as she had already turned around in search of another piece of stemware for Lee. She filled his glass and returned. Handing it to him, she looked up into his deep green eyes which were now boring into her, his expression serious. She knew that was a mistake, because it completely distracted her thoughts. Quickly, Amanda looked down shyly and asked, "So, what's up?" She managed to not sound as breathless as she felt at the moment, but her right hand rolled the stem of her wineglass in agitation.
"Oh, I just finished up the files on our case and wanted to swing by and tell you about it," Lee replied as nonchalantly as he could as he took a sip of the sweet white wine.
Having gained her composure, she now looked him over carefully to see if he gave any physical clue if his statement was in fact true. Unfortunately, his attire made her forget what her mission was in the first place. He wore a pair of tight faded jeans which fit snugly in all the right places. His dark blue tee-shirt was taut against his chest, which allowed her to fully appreciate his sculpted upper body. She caught herself imagining what it would feel like to be wrapped in his arms tight against his chest with his hands exploring every inch of her. She coughed in order to break the spell, and continued her perusal southward. He had a pair of loafers on his feet and looked quite comfortable.
"I, uhh, wanted to apologize to you personally and . . ."
"Lee, you don't have to do that," she abruptly interrupted him.
She inhaled slightly as he moved closer to her, taking a hold of her hand.
She inhaled slightly as he moved closer to her, taking a hold of her hand, and effectively silencing her. "Yes, I do," he said in his deep baritone, "I recall someone not so long ago, telling me that they wanted to make the world a better place. You believe in the general goodness in all people, which I believe played a small part in your assessment of Will Towne. And since I'm a better man now because of you, I know I owe you an apology." She could see the seriousness in his eyes and a gentle smile on his lips.
"Lee, I . . ." she faltered for words, feeling slightly awkward and embarrassed at hearing his direct compliment. She looked down as she remembered just two years ago having to ask him to give her some indication of her work. Now, here he was doing it of his own volition.
"Shhh," he placed a finger against her lips. "You did a great job as the agent of record."
She smiled in return, ducking her head to stare at the floor again. When he gazed at her like that, she found it near impossible to look directly into this man's eyes.
It took a few moments and deep breaths to find her voice and look up at him. You're welco . . ." again she faltered, but this time was completely different. She'd felt Lee brush his fingertips delicately across the skin of her face, and she knew he felt her tremble slightly.
"You had some flour on your cheek."
Amanda looked down, then back to him. It gave her a moment to compose herself yet again. The warm tingle of excitement she felt when he touched her was incredible. "Thank you," she replied, taking a deep audible gulp.
She found him staring at her, while he inhaled a deep breath. "What's that I smell? Poppy seed cake?"
Amanda whirled around and headed towards the kitchen. "Oh, yes, as a matter of fact. It is cooling. Would you like to try some?" She realized at that moment that keeping busy was helping to occupy her thoughts.
"Sure," he replied, walking towards the counter. He took the plate she offered with the warm piece of cake on it and forked some into his mouth.
"Mmmmm, this is delicious." The sound of his voice made her heart beat speed up again.
Amanda knew it wouldn't do any good to look at him so she busied herself at the sink, continuing to clean up. She began rinsing off the dishes while trying to engage in a meaningful conversation with this man without thinking about her overwhelming attraction towards him.
Chapter 4 – First moves
Lee watched her, as she went about the task of washing the dishes. It was doing his state of mind no good to watch her from behind. He imagined himself pressed up against her body, feeling the soft contours of her skin, and the firmness of her body against his. He began envisioning what her reaction would be if he kissed that spot just below her right earlobe. The thought alone was taking him to places that weren't safe in her company. Amanda was special and she deserved better. He broke out of his reverie and decided to lend a hand. "Would you like some help?" he whispered over her shoulder. He was a little closer to her than she was accustomed and felt her stiffen slightly. 'What am I doing? Tone it down.' he demanded of himself.
The next thing he heard was the clutter of the metal spoon as it hit the mixing bowl in the sink. "Oh, I uhhhh. I've got it. Thanks," she said in a breathless and raspy voice. He could smell her shampoo, which was intoxicating along with the fresh scent of whatever soap she used, mixed with the aroma of fresh poppy seed cake.
Lee reached and placed his hands on her shoulders. "I want to help." he replied softly in her ear. He felt her tremble under his touch.
Lee absently brushed away a few strands of hair that had fallen on Amanda's beautiful skin. He leaned in closer to breathe in her scent.
"Uh, Lee," he heard her voice but it wasn't a protest.
"I'm sorry. I didn't want that to get stuck in the chain of your necklace." Lee said as if he was unaware to her reaction of his unexpected touch.
"Thanks," he thought her voice sounded a little tight.
Moving over to the dish drainer, he finished drying the dishes and handed them to Amanda, who in turn placed them in the proper cabinet.
He was staring down into her eyes when she turned to him. Lee smiled at her, trying to convey what he was feeling at that moment. "You really are so beautiful, Amanda, inside and out." he declared.
When her eyes met his, they were wide with what initially appeared to be fear. Then, he watched as the shades of chocolate changed from milk chocolate surprise to a dark chocolate longing. Her pupils were dilated and her breathing became faster. Lee's smile faded, but she remained silent. It took him a few moments to realize she was allowing him to take the lead. She wasn't rushing him or assuming anything. She was in unfamiliar territory, just as he was. The difference was, he wasn't leaving it up to fate any longer. He'd made his decision, and decided to act on it. He had to tell her what he wanted to see if, in fact, she wanted it as well.
"I came here tonight with the intention of apologizing personally for my behavior at work and letting you know what I've been feeling," he admitted breaking the silence."
"Do you think we should kiss and make up?" She asked jokingly to hide her nervousness and break the weight of the tension.
"I do want to kiss you." Lee admitted. He was aware that his voice sounded hoarse, even to his own ears. He maintained eye contact, and refused to break it until she responded.
She nodded and licked her lips in response. Lee slowly leaned in, placing a hand on either side of her cheeks, pulling her to him. He savored every new detail to memory; the feel of her skin, the sound of her breathing, the look in her eyes, the smell of her, and the loss of words from her lips. Her eyes fluttered shut as he hovered over her lips.
Lee took a deep breath because he wanted to take his time kissing her. He had many things he wanted to convey with this kiss. It was important that he took his time and did it right. This was Amanda, and she was the most important person in the world to him. Just as he opened his mouth to claim her, the doorbell rang, instantly breaking the moment and them apart.
Chapter 5 – Interrupted...Again
Amanda smoothed the front of her sweatshirt and turned to look at Lee. "I don't know who that could be at this late hour," she stated over her shoulder running like a jack rabbit to get the door. To say she was a little off balance from that near miss of a kiss was an understatement. Although she felt disappointment at another near miss, she was thankful for the interruption giving her sometime to collect her racing thoughts.
Off of his alarmed and questioning look, she called through the door, "Who is it?"
"Amanda?" She heard the familiar voice of her boss. Panic set in momentarily as she thought about her current situation. It was after ten on a Friday night, and Lee was in her kitchen. 'What was he going to think about this situation?' flashed through her mind. She took several deep cleansing breaths to appear her normal, cheerful self before opening the door.
"Hello, Amanda," Billy greeted her as he entered her home.
"Please, come in," opening the door wider. She gestured towards the kitchen with her hand. "I just made some poppy seed cake. Would you like a warm piece?" she asked over her shoulder as she led him into the bright kitchen.
"No thank you, Amanda."
"Is everything alright?" Amanda asked with growing concern.
"Everything's fine," he assured her as she led him into the kitchen. "I stopped by Lee's apartment and didn't find him there. I thought maybe he stopped here." He wore a very slight smile on his face when he saw Lee leaning causally against the counter. His brows were arched as he glanced up at the wall clock which made her very feel slightly awkward and uncomfortable.
"Oh, yes, he stopped here to fill me in," she replied just as Lee confirmed her statement with his own affirmation, "That's right."
"What's up, Billy?" Lee attempted nonchalance, but Amanda sensed anticipation when she stole a glance at him. His hands were in his pockets and he was rocking slightly on his heels.
"I have something for you, but not here." Amanda knew that meant it was classified and she wasn't privileged to hear this conversation.
"Okay. Well, we were just finishing up anyway, and I was just getting ready to go, so I'll head back to the Agency?" His question was met with a quick response from Billy.
"Yes, I have everything all set up back at the office." Billy looked over towards Amanda, who was paying rapt attention to wrapping up her cake on the counter. "Amanda, I'm sorry to have intruded on your evening, but it's important."
"Sir, it's fine, and I completely understand. I was simply baking when Lee stopped by to discuss the case. We weren't on a date or anything. He saw the light on . . ." Amanda happened to catch Lee's eye. Seeing his expression, she realized she not only was rambling, but she was trying to pull the wool over the eyes of a trained agent. "I'm sorry, Sir. I must be overtired. I'm rambling." She was mortified and shook her head back and forth.
"I'm sure Lee had a lot to discuss with you," Billy began. "and if you were on a date, that would also be fine." Amanda looked at him with wide eyes and decided not to say anymore. She simply smiled and could see out of her peripheral vision that Lee, too, was smiling.
"Goodnight, Sir." She walked him towards the door.
"Lee, I'll meet you there in twenty minutes," Billy said with a hint of laughter. Lee nodded in agreement, and Amanda plastered a smile on her face. Lee nodded in agreement, and Amanda plastered a smile on her face.
"Uhhh, Amanda . . ." Lee began.
"It's okay. I understand. You have to go," she said trying to hide her disappointment of another missed opportunity. He felt her hand on his elbow leading him towards the door. He reached back and took her hand and placed it in his. When they arrived at the front door, he interlaced their fingers together.
"This conversation is far from over," he informed her, looking intently into her large, brown eyes. "as we still need to discuss that little remark you made last week."
"Oh? What remark would that be?" Amanda asked teasingly.
"You know. The one about 'rating me.'"
He saw the faint blush on her cheeks return. Deciding to play along, she said with all the seriousness she could muster, "There is nothing to talk about. I don't have anything yet to rate you on." He saw the beginning of a smirk on her lips.
He laughed as he raised her hand to place a gentle kiss on it. Then, he leaned in to place one on her cheek letting himself linger a moment at the feel. As he walked through the doorway, he said, "I will see you tomorrow." Before heading down the stairs, he stopped and turned briefly to add, "Can you at least give me a hint?"
"It's definitely increasing," she said in a flirty laugh. As she gently nudged him out onto the front landing. "So, I'll save my final answer for our next conversation. Goodnight and be careful."
"I always am. Good night, Amanda," he waved goodbye as he headed down the path.