1 When Love Takes You In

Written by: Laura a.k.a. MusicBox, Leiasolo31, Momm2five. (I should probably do something about my multiple personalities!) February – April 2002.

Disclaimer: Scarecrow and Mrs. King and all it's recognizable characters belong to Warner Bros. and Shoot The Moon Enterprises Ltd. I'm just borrowing them, since THEY won't do anything with them anymore, for my pleasure and hopefully yours. The story and new characters are completely my own. Any resemblance to any other fanfic, or one of the episodes is entirely unintentional. A few names may pop up in this story that you recognize. I intend no infringement on any rights and am just borrowing them. Russian names are quite hard to *make up*, and they just aren't the same without their buddies. If you recognize them, enjoy their presence and laugh with me.

References to Service Above and Beyond, written by Peter Lefcourt; Saved by the Bells, written by Chris Cluess, Dean Hargrove, Stu Kreisman, & Joel Steiger; Lost and Found, written by Brad Buckner & Eugenie Ross-Lemming; Utopia Now, written by Robert Bielak; Three Little Spies and Rumors of My Death, written by Tom Chehak; and Nightcrawler, written by George Geiger. Also the Lost and Found Tagalouge, written by T. A. Miller.

When Love Takes You In, Written and sung by Steven Curtis Chapman; Sparrow Song/Peach Hill Songs 2001. Found on his new CD, Declaration

John 14:18; Psalm 27:10; Psalm 68:5-6

Summary: Lee and Amanda are confronted with people from their past as they struggle with an unexpected situation in Moscow, Russia.

Timeline: August 3, 1989 – Everyone knows everything – or as much as you can in a *need to know* world.

Archive: Yes, at SMKFanfic, , .

Feedback: Yes, yes, yes! Constructive criticism accepted with a very open mind, on list or off, I could use the help. Flames will be used to light my husband's cigarettes as he is always losing his lighters. (Maybe if I get no flames he'll quit?)

Rating: PG for mild language.

Type: Pretty much AU but I believe I stayed in character. So I guess more of a what-if?

Notes: This story attacked me with a vengeance one morning while listening to Steven Curtis Chapman's latest CD, Declaration. I tried to ignore it. Really, I did. But it invaded my life so, here it is. I have found some wonderful and heartbreaking things in researching this story. You'll find links at the end to some incredible people, stories, and articles. I apologize in advance if some of my information is incorrect for the time period I am writing. It has been difficult to find complete and accurate data from that long ago. I am using some information from the early 90's and present time. So please, bear with me and keep an open mind.

1.1 Thanks: Thanks and cyber-hugs first of all to ele (never again will my people be *done*) and Randibaby, who provided me with the very first encouragement, praise, and correction. Without them, I don't know if I would have had the courage to post this! I also want to thank my incredible betas. They took time out of their busy *real* lives to help me and I appreciate it more than they will ever know. Their insight into the true characterization of SMK is invaluable. I am learning so much from you. You're awesome. Kim, thank you for dragging me kicking and screaming out of the *weepy Amanda* trap. ;o) Dix, thank you so much, your comments always leave me grinning (and make my tale so much better in the process)!

Tissue warning: It may not affect some of you that way but I want to cover my bases. Last time I neglected to include a tissue warning I got in trouble. ;o)

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Monday August 3, 1989

3:15 PM Moscow time

Moscow, USSR

He should never have let her come.

Of course if she weren't here, he'd probably be dead.

Glancing over his shoulder, he flinched as yet another bullet whizzed past his ear.

"There!" he yelled, pointing to a door tucked into the corner of a recessed entryway. Grabbing her hand, he pulled her in front of him and shoved her into the alcove as he turned and squeezed off another three shots toward their pursuer. "Damn!" he swore as the clip fell to the ground. He was now out of bullets.

"It's locked!" She frantically jiggled a half-rake in the keyhole until she felt the tumblers release. She turned the knob and pushed the door open. Stumbling into the building she pulled him in with her and he slammed the door shut, locking it behind them.

"Come on, let's get away from the door." He reached for her hand and headed into the room.

"You will be safe here," a matronly voice said in broken English.

"What the . . ." Lee Stetson blinked, his eyes adjusting to the light as his heart dropped in to his stomach.

"We can't stay here!" Amanda Stetson hissed. "Lee! What have we done?"

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An hour later, Lee and Amanda sat in two old wingback chairs in a dingy room, drinking tea. A fire was burning to ward off the damp chill of night. It had been raining since they arrived in Moscow, five days ago.

Amanda was still trying to calm herself from their earlier escape, and the surprise of what awaited them inside the building. As luck would have it, they were indeed very safe here. But the very thing that made them safe also sheltered 20 children and three nuns. "Lee, we can't stay," Amanda repeated her earlier statement. "We can't have Mironov knowing we're here, coming after us. What if he tells his boss? What if . . . "

"Amanda," Lee rubbed his fingers over his temples and then back through his hair. "I don't think even Butsayev is cold-hearted enough to come in here after us. This is the perfect place. And the children will be fine. They won't come looking for us here," Lee repeated, silently praying he was right.

"The children will be safe, Mrs. Stetson," the voice with the heavy Russian accent from earlier broke in, agreeing with Lee.

He glanced at Amanda. "See, I told you. There's nothing to worry about."

Amanda stood, sighing and rolling her eyes at Lee. "Thank you for being so kind, Sister. But really, I don't feel comfortable putting you and the children at risk. The men who are looking for us . . . " Amanda broke off as Nadya placed her hand on Amanda's arm.

"The children are in no danger. Come, we will eat now." Glancing over at Lee she smiled. "You, also?"

"Yes, thank you, Sister." Lee stood and moved next to Amanda, taking her hand. "Let's go eat and then we can figure out how to get out of this one," he said.

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Reaching the end of a hallway the small group turned the corner and entered a long, open room set up with four tables. It was surprisingly quiet in view of the number of children in the room. As Lee and Amanda walked in they were greeted by one of the other women who took them to a small, unoccupied table. They ate in silence, with Lee watching Amanda as she watched the children. There were about a dozen in the cafeteria, looking to be as young as 3 years old and up to just about Jamie's age. They were all chattering quietly amongst themselves and every so often, one or two of them would steal a curious, hopeful glance in their direction. Amanda watched them throughout dinner, a contemplative look on her face.

"Hey?" Lee reached across the table and took her hand. "You're not eating. What's up?"

"Lee, look at them," Amanda inclined her head toward the tables. "They're no different from our boys and their friends. Even halfway around the world, in unacceptable conditions, children are children."

He nodded. "At least they appear to be well taken care of." He squeezed her hand and gave her a small smile. "Looks like they get more attention and love than most kids in their situation."

The three women were bustling around the children, dishing out food and helping the littler ones eat. Amanda watched the women, one of whom appeared to be about her age, as they hugged and smiled speaking to each one in rapid Russian. "You're right, Lee," she sighed again. "They don't look neglected. I just can't help feeling sad for them. They have no parents. Or no parents that want them. I can't even begin to think about the reasons they're here and what will happen to the ones who aren't lucky enough to be adopted. I'd like to just pack them all up and take them home with us . . . to give them all a family. Most of them won't get that. It's just not fair," Amanda stopped when she realized what she was saying and quickly picked up her fork and picked at her food. "I'm sorry, Lee, I didn't mean to . . . "

"It's okay." He lifted her free hand to his lips for a kiss. "It won't be much longer, Amanda, I promise. We've been away from the boys for so long already. I miss them, too. We'll get out of here as soon as we can and head for home. The American Embassy isn't far from here. I think we're close to Zoo Park, about fifteen minutes from our hotel and the Embassy should be just a short hop away. But we need to lay low for a few hours before we can leave. I'll see about getting in touch with the Embassy guys tonight and we can head out in the morning." He looked at her questioningly. "Why don't you try to get some rest, huh? It's been a long week and you haven't slept much."

"Yeah, sure, I'll try." Amanda didn't meet his eyes, and he was pretty sure she wasn't going to go lie down.

Lee stood, still holding her hand. "Amanda, I mean it. Go get some rest." He leaned down and kissed her tenderly. "I love you."

Amanda smiled up at him. "Yeah, I know. I love you, too."

Lee disappeared with Sister Nadya toward the office to try contacting the Embassy, promising Amanda he'd return shortly. He was reluctant to leave her but she had shooed him away. "I'll be fine, Lee. Go on. The sooner you call the sooner we can leave, right?"

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As Amanda helped clear away the remnants of dinner with Elena, she found that the woman was in fact much younger than she had first thought. They had struck up an easy conversation and she found herself liking the young woman immediately. But she couldn't ignore the nagging feeling in the back of her mind that there was something about Elena, something familiar.

"Would you come to help with the babies, Amanda?" Elena asked. "We have six who need to be fed and it would be nice to have extra hands."

Amanda smiled at her and said, "Of course! Who could resist babies? It's been so long since my boys were that age." She had no idea what was in store for her as she rounded the landing and continued her climb behind Elena to the second floor.

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The relative quiet of the dining room was left behind as they entered the nursery. Ten cribs lined the outer walls of the room while a dresser, three rocking chairs, a changing table, and two highchairs were arranged in the center. Two of the rocking chairs were occupied already, one by Anna, the third woman Amanda had met, the other by a young girl that had been in the dining room earlier. She was the one who looked about Jamie's age. Elena gestured toward the cribs, "We have six babies, one is just a year old, he is Maxim." Amanda looked to where she was pointing. The young girl was singing to him as she held his bottle. "She is Daria. Maxim is very loving to her. No one else feeds him." Elena smiled and laughed. "He is very stubborn. Hopefully they will go together. But she is older, and not his real sister." Elena saddened at this. After a moment she slowly smiled again and continued her introductions. "Anna has Fedor and Mikhail. They are twins. They are always together, always in trouble." Amanda smiled at Anna and the twins. They were beautiful babies who looked to be about 6-7 months old.

A commotion from the next crib drew Amanda's attention. "Who is that?" She asked with a grin.

"Sergei is the hungry one," Elena laughed at the little baby who had pulled himself up at the side of his crib. He had started voicing his objections to not being fed as the women approached him. "He is 10 months old. He has found his legs and is trying to walk all over. We think he is trying to be like Maxim." Elena grabbed a bottle and reached for Sergei, who was now bouncing up and down in anticipation. Amanda laughed at the boy and was rewarded with a huge almost toothless grin. Elena took him and sat in the last rocker. "You may feed another if you like," she said nodding toward the other two occupied cribs. Amanda walked to the first, peering in over the crib rail.

"That is Dominik," Elena informed her.

"He's asleep," she whispered to Elena. She quietly moved to the next crib and what she saw there took her breath away. "Oh," Amanda breathed. Two of the biggest, brownest eyes she had ever seen twinkled mischievously up at her. The baby gurgled at her and Amanda smiled back. Mesmerized, she reached into the crib and touched his hand with one finger. The intensity of her feelings surprised her; she hadn't experienced anything like this since Jamie had been born. The baby was chewing on his toes but had not yet broken eye contact with Amanda. He looked at her as if he knew her. Her heart felt like it was going to beat out of her chest and she was having a hard time catching her breath.

"That is Nikolai," Anna said, startling Amanda. "He is our ladies' man." The women laughed at this as Amanda watched Nikolai. "He is very smart." Elena added.

As she leaned in to pick him up he threw his arms and legs out and wiggled with excitement, giggling at her the whole time. "How old is he?" she managed to force past the lump in her throat.

"Nicky is about nine months old. We found him on the front step one morning. He was a newborn but we're not sure of his true birthday. No one has come forward to claim him. We haven't even had any inquiries about him. That's all right, though. He is very special," Elena said with a proud smile. "God brought him to us safely and protected him through the night until we found him. He has been through a lot. Now it is our job to protect him and keep him safely," she looked pointedly at Amanda, "until his new parents take him home."

Amanda had barely registered any of this information as she picked up Nicky and cradled him in her arms. He smelled so good, like the boys had when they were little babies. Amanda drew in a deep breath. "Hello there, Nikolai. My name is Amanda. And you . . . you are just about the most gorgeous little thing I have ever seen," she cooed at him quietly. A look exchanged between the two women seated in the middle of the room. "Look at you, what a sweet little boy you are!" Amanda held him up and kissed his cheek, resulting in a squeal of delight from the baby. Anna had finished feeding Maxim and rose from her seat. "You may sit here to feed him if you wish," she offered.

Retrieving another bottle from the table, Anna handed it to Amanda as she sat in the vacated rocker. Nikolai squealed and opened his mouth wide as she brought the bottle closer to him. He attacked the bottle hungrily and Amanda smiled at him as his body relaxed and he snuggled in to her arms. Her heart fluttered as he grabbed one of her fingers with his left hand and poked at her face with the other. His eyes hadn't left hers the entire time, but it didn't take long for Nikolai to lose himself to the comfort of the bottle and warm, loving embrace she provided. As the last of the bottle was finished, he fell asleep, his mouth still making tiny sucking motions in response to the bubbles of formula still resting on his lips. She still held the bottle in her hand, as Nikolai had a firm grip on her finger and she didn't want him to let go.

"He looks very content," a deep voice startled Amanda. "Of course if I were in his place I would be, too," Lee whispered in her ear, taking the bottle out of her hand and placing it on the table. He smiled down at Amanda and the sleeping baby, noticing how relaxed and comfortable she looked as well. Lee moved in front of them, and crouched down. He shook his head and looked up at his wife. "I sure wish I'd been around when the boys were this age," he continued whispering. Amanda managed a small smile but dared not look at Lee or open her mouth. She felt something she had never felt before - maybe only once - when her father had died years ago, leaving her with a huge empty place in her heart. She couldn't suppress the tear that rolled own her cheek, and sniffed hard to try and stop the cascade of emotion that had suddenly overtaken her.

Lee looked up at her, startled to find her crying. "Amanda? What is it? What's wrong?" He reached up to wipe the tear away and waited for a moment. "Amanda, look at me." Lee stared at her in confusion.

"I'm sorry, Lee," she sniffed again and drew in a long, deep, breath to calm herself, trying hard not to wake the baby sleeping peacefully in her arms. "I . . . he . . . I . . .I don't know. I don't know what I'm feeling, Lee." They sat in silence for a few minutes. "Lee?" Amanda called his name softly. Getting no response, she looked up at him. "Lee?"

He had reached out to stroke Nikolai's hand, which was wrapped tightly around his wife's right index finger. It was so tiny. He'd never really been around babies before, not this close, anyway. As he rubbed the baby's hand softly, he realized what he was looking at was just about the most beautiful thing he had ever seen, besides the woman he had married. "Wow," Lee said quietly. "He's beautiful, Amanda."

"His name is Nikolai," Amanda responded, her voice wistful. In response to Lee's stroking, the baby had let go of Amanda's finger and taken hold of Lee's, his tiny hand wrapping around it tightly. "Someone abandoned him after he was born. The nuns found him outside on the steps one morning. That was nine months ago. No one knows who he belongs to." She looked up at her husband; she knew he could tell something was bothering her, she could see the look of concern in his eyes.

"Amanda," he whispered a soft warning, glancing over at Elena and Anna self- consciously.

"Please, just listen to me for a minute . . . please?" she begged. At his reluctant nod, she started slowly. "He's alone. His own mother didn't want him. What are the chances of someone coming and taking him out of here? It's not like it is in China. In Russia they want baby girls, not boys. Did you see how many boys were downstairs? Look at him, Lee." He had been watching her as she talked and was reluctant to look at the baby. "Look how trusting he is of us, how content and comfortable. You said it yourself when you saw us." she paused for a moment. "When I looked into his eyes, it was like looking at Phillip or Jamie for the first time. Lee, I can feel him, right here," she reached up and took his free hand, placing it on her heart. He closed his eyes and shook his head slowly.

"Amanda, don't . . . " he started. "We can't. I'm so sorry." Lee pulled his hand from hers and stood. Turning his back to his wife and her charge, he ran a hand through his hair. He dropped his head to his chest and sighed, walking to the window. He rested a hand on either side of the window and looked down to the street aware that Amanda was watching him. Abruptly he shoved off the wall and turned to look at his wife. "He looks so . . . *right* there, Amanda. Like he's meant to be there. Like he's always been there. How can that be? We've only been here for a few hours. I just met him ten minutes ago." He shoved a hand through his hair yet again, as he moved in front of them. "We can't just come in here hiding from some KGB separatists, stay for a few hours, and take a Russian baby home with us." Kneeling back down in front of his wife, he reached up to trace a finger over Nikolai's forehead and down his cheek. His voice was shaking when he spoke again. "Can we?" He looked up at her again in shock.

'He feels it too!' Amanda thought excitedly.

"Can I hold him?" Lee whispered.

Amanda nodded. "Of course."

He stood, taking the baby from her. Nikolai stirred in his sleep and started to whimper. "Shhh . . . it's okay, buddy," Lee soothed, rocking the baby back and forth. Nikolai opened his eyes and, seeing Lee, snuggled in closer. "Hey, shhh . . . go back to sleep." Nikolai had taken Lee's finger in a tight grasp again and Lee brought the tiny hand to his lips, kissing it gently. "Nice to meet you, Nikolai," he whispered.

Seeing Lee rocking the baby, comforting him, was almost more than she could take. She needed to put some space between herself and the situation. This was all moving much too fast. Standing, she brushed past Lee and Nikolai, and hurried from the room.

"Amanda?" Lee turned and started to go after her. A firm hand on his arm stopped him. He started, realizing he wasn't alone. They had both forgotten the two other women in the room. He desperately hoped they hadn't said anything incriminating but just as quickly decided that even if they had, these two women could be trusted. After all, they had taken both of them in without question and been more than generous in the last few hours.

Elena smiled softly at him and motioned to the chair. "Sit, I will go." She started to leave but hesitated. Taking a deep breath, she turned, meeting Lee's gaze, "I have seen this before," she gestured to Lee and Nikolai. "Some people are meant to be together, Mr. Stetson. I believe in God putting people and circumstances in our lives for a reason. I hope you do, too. With respect, sir, there is a reason you are here, in this building, holding that little boy." She turned and followed after Amanda, leaving him gaping at what she had told him. He sat carefully in the rocker and tried desperately to catch his breath and calm his pounding heart.

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"This feeling is so completely different from when I first saw my boys. I knew they were coming, I was ready . . . prepared. I knew for months that they were there and loved them before they were born. I knew they were mine. This is so different." She looked up at Elena with bright eyes. "But so much the same. Nikolai is meant to be our son; I know it in my heart. I knew it when he looked at me. Is that crazy?" Amanda asked the younger woman pleadingly. "I saw him for the first time only an hour ago; how can I possibly feel like this? Like I can't leave this place without him?"

Elena put her arm around Amanda and gave her a contemplative look. "I was telling your husband - you are here for a reason. This whole situation is strange, no? It was not by chance that you sought refuge here, in our orphanage. God led you here. You are here for Nikolai and here for yourselves. I trust God - that He will take care of you, your husband, and Nikolai. And that everyone will end up where they belong. You need to trust, too." Elena said nothing more, and Amanda was glad. This was just too much to process all at once. And the fact that they were in the middle of a very dangerous assignment, one that Elena knew nothing about made this all the more confusing.

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Amanda sat alone in the small room for another forty-five minutes, thinking, praying, and reasoning with herself, until she couldn't stand being away from them any longer. She had wanted to give Lee the chance to think about what was happening without her presence putting pressure on him. She knew how he was when it came to something she felt strongly about. He'd do just about anything to ensure her happiness. He'd proved that over and over in the last six years. She wasn't going to let him do something like this just because he knew she wanted it. This had to be okay with him as well. He had to feel it too, or she wouldn't pursue it any further. It would probably kill her, but she wouldn't do this without Lee's complete agreement. And she'd know exactly how he felt as soon as she saw his face.

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