Spy à la mode
Disclaimer: Scarecrow and Mrs. King belong to Warner Brothers and Shoot The Moon Enterprises
In "Remembrance Of Things Past" (written by Brad Buckner and Eugenie
Ross-Leming) Lee tells Amanda that he learned to cook while "bumming around the
world." So why shouldn't The Agency make use of that skill?
An oblique reference to "Sudden Death," written by Tom Sawyer.
Time: Early Third Season
AU - of course.
Thanks to Buffy for a quick once-over, before her trip. Remaining errors are
"You want me to go undercover as a what?" Sitting across from his section
chief, Billy Melrose, Lee couldn't believe what he had just heard.
"A chef. Now, I know that you learned to cook some pretty exotic dishes while
you were traveling around the world, first with your uncle and then for the
Yeah, but throwing together a meal of squid and Inoke mushrooms doesn't exactly
qualify me for a Cordon Bleu!"
"Look," Billy said, spreading his hands, "it's all set. Our 'Fearless Leader'
knows the owner, his name's Robert Robert, if you can believe that, of the
particular restaurant where you will be working, and he has agreed to accept a
fake resumé and put you to work."
"Great. What's this all about?"
"Over the last few months, we have become aware that the enemy has had access to
secret U.S. policy decisions and plans, really high priority, Eyes Only stuff.
Instead of reacting to what we do, what actions our government takes, they are
pre-empting us. They are able to take measures to get one up on us. It's
happened half a dozen times recently and in half a dozen different hot spots
around the world."
"What has cooking got to with this?"
"Ah, just a minute. We know pretty much what secrets have gone over to the
other side so we have been able to figure out who had access to those secrets.
It's not a very large group. Anyway, a lot of preliminary investigation has
shown us that none of the people involved are guilty!"
"Swell, nobody did it. I still don't see what cooking has to do with this."
"What I mean is, they've all passed polygraph tests. However, there is one
thing, beside working for the government in one department or another, that most
of these individuals have in common: they have dined at Le Mangerie. In fact
most of them eat there fairly often and we can correlate some of their evenings
at the restaurant with some of the information being picked up by the KGB."
"Interesting, Billy. So you think somehow these people are being compromised at
this restaurant and if I'm on the inside . . ."
"Exactly. Now, I've arranged to have Amanda help you out. She'll be at the
restaurant as a patron, but if anybody gets curious as to why she's there so
often, her cover will be as a food critic for Gastronomy Today magazine."
"This could get kind of dangerous. Are you sure you want Amanda in on this?"
"Lee, she'll be fine. How many times has she saved your bacon over the last
couple of years?" Billy smiled knowingly.
"Uhh, yeah, well, several. We may be about even in that department. So what do
we know about Le Mangerie and the employees?"
"For one thing, the head chef, René Joubert, is a Frenchman who hates the United
States, for whatever reason. He's lived here for years; he's the respected chef
for a very classy restaurant. We don't know what his problem is. The maitre d'
is actually the younger brother of the owner. His name is Michel Robert. He's a
gambling man and a loser in every sense of the word."
"So you think these two are the most likely suspects?"
"Yup. But you'll have to be careful of everybody who works there. We don't know
for sure who else might be involved. Now, Mr. Robert has given us a short list
of dishes that you'll have to know how to fix. It's just main course—meat
dishes. Here you are," Billy handed Lee a list.
"Let's see: Tournedos of Beef, Coq au Vin, Duck A L'Orange, Braised Squabs,
Steak au Poivre and Boeuf Bourguignonne. Boy," he said, looking up at his boss,
"you have a lot more faith in my culinary abilities than I do!"
"Lee, The Agency will provide you with the ingredients—whatever you need to
practice at home. You can get a cookbook and make a list. OK?"
"All right, Billy," Lee sighed, as he got up and walked towards the door. "I'll
get on this right way. But I . . ."
"Go, Scarecrow. You'll be fine. And with Amanda to help you, I know you'll nail
the bad guys."
Billy chuckled softly.
"Oh, nothing." He started to laugh a little louder.
"I was just thinking . . . I have a code name for this investigation, spy à la
mode," he laughed even louder at his own little joke.
Lee opened the door and then turned back to face Billy, as if to say something
more. But he seemed to think better of the idea and simply smiled and left the
room. 'Spy à la mode, brother! My boss, the sit-down comic. Right!"
Having obtained a good quality book on preparing authentic French cuisine, Lee
gave his list to Billy, who saw to it that Lee was given the funds to purchase
everything he would need. In just a few days, he had pretty much mastered the
dishes he would be required to make. He hadn't eaten this well at home
since . . . he couldn't remember when. He regretted not being able to invite one
of his lady friends over to share in this bounty, but since it was for work,
Billy had made a point of discouraging any such ideas. He had thought briefly
of asking Amanda over for one of his practice dinners. Billy wouldn't object to
that. But he had decided that maybe it wasn't such a good idea. Not yet.
Soon he was as ready as he would ever be for his new job. That night, he
reported to Mr. Robert who introduced him, as Leo Steadman, to René Joubert.
René ignored the hand Lee had extended. Instead he turned and called over his
shoulder, "Jean, you will assist chef Leo. Kindly begin by showing him his
station and where everything is kept."
"Of course," the younger man responded, smiling at Lee. "This way, if you
Lee knew instinctively that it was going to be a long evening.
Three men sat at a table in a dark corner of the Rive Gauche, a quaint little
bar on the other side of the Potomac. They spoke quietly, not wanting to be
overheard. They looked like three ordinary businessmen. But their business
involved secrets—secrets belonging to the government of the United States of
René Joubert and Michel Robert sipped their drinks. Anatoly Dubinov, the KGB
"handler" for the two men, handed each of them an envelope.
"Michel, how many times do I have to tell you: DON'T count it in here!"
"Sorry," Michel said, "but I need . . ."
"I know what you need," Dubinov interrupted, "and there is plenty more where
that came from. As long as you continue to cooperate."
"I think we have done very well for you, comrade," Joubert interjected. "That
last target worked for Naval Intelligence. I'm sure what you got from him,
after he had eaten the food that I drugged, was worth a great deal."
"Indeed. The information we obtained regarding the identities of those recruited
for their new intelligence gathering cell in the Persian Gulf was invaluable."
"Anatoly, you'll be happy to know that Congressman Martinson has a reservation
for two at eight o'clock tonight," Michel said.
"Excellent. You will seat him and his companion at table twenty-two. Perhaps we
can discover what is being discussed in those closed hearings."
"Of course they will be at table twenty-two. Where else would I put them? And
as soon as you decide which is the most productive approach, you can let me
"I will. If he does not say anything of interest, I will give you the usual
sign, which you can pass along to René. Then he can administer the drug—in the
congressman's food or drink—whichever he finds most appropriate. My people are
always ready to follow the target and take them to our debriefing facility."
"Just what is this drug anyway?" Michel asked tentatively. "It must be very
sophisticated since the targets never remember being given anything or the
fact that they were interrogated by anyone . . ."
"The nature of the drug is on a need to know basis. And you do not need to
know," Dubinov said in a rather threatening tone.
"OK, OK. Forget I asked."
René turned to Michel. "By the way, is it not true that there has been a woman,
a very attractive brunette, who has been to the restaurant for the past three or
four nights in a row?"
"Yes," Michel answered. "I suspect she works for one of the local newspapers or
magazines. I think she is a food critic. I've seen her taking notes after
tasting each part of the meal."
"A food critic?" Anatoly asked, suspicion evident in his tone and his demeanor.
"Are you sure that is all she is?"
"What else could she be? You know how my big brother is about publicity. Robert
is probably bribing her to write a favorable review! Anyway, she comes in alone,
at about the same time each night, and orders a different entrée each time."
Michel raised an eyebrow. "You don't really suspect that she is working with the
authorities . . . ahh, with the government, do you?"
"Anything is possible comrade. You would do well to keep an eye on her."
"I'll be happy to keep an eye on her," Michel smiled. "She is very easy on the
Both Anatoly and René glared at him. His smile faded.
Lee got through his first several nights as a chef. He had been somewhat
nervous, feeling that Joubert was watching him constantly. At least nobody had
sent anything back. He was beginning to feel fairly confident that he could pull
Amanda had noticed that there were two tables—one was for two and the other
would seat four diners—that always seemed to be reserved. Even when the
restaurant was full and patrons were lined up waiting, these tables remained
empty—except tonight. A man whom she recognized as a Congressman, one Everett
Martinson, who had been on the TV news lately, walked by her table. Michel
seated him and his guest, a very attractive blonde, at the table for two. He was
the Chairman of the Military Intelligence Sub-Committee, which was conducting
some very important, secret hearings.
A short distance away, in a small storage building owned by Mr. Robert, Anatoly
Dubinov sat at a small table wearing headphones, which were plugged into a
receiver/recording device. He was appalled to discover that the bug under
table twenty-two had malfunctioned. Cursing, Anatoly made his way down the alley
and into the side door of Le Mangerie. Walking to the front of the restaurant,
he pulled the maitre d' aside. "The device under table twenty-two is not working
properly. Here, take this," he said, slipping Michel another bug. "Get this
attached to the table as quickly as possible, " he snarled, clearly angry.
"OK," Michel said. "Relax. I'll do it right now."
As Anatoly left by the side entrance; and Michel walked over to table
twenty-two, each was unaware that they were being observed—by a lovely
brunette sitting by herself at a table for two.
She watched as Michel pretended to drop something as he passed the congressman's
table, and then, as he was down on one knee, attach something to the leg of the
Amanda left her table, walked past the ladies room, out the same side door that
Anatoly had just used, and continued down the alley. Not far from that door was
what appeared to her to be a small shack, apparently a storage room of some
sort, for Le Mangerie. Amanda approached stealthily. She found a small wooden
crate by the side of the building and stood on it. She was then able see in the
only window. There was a man seated at a table, wearing a headset and fiddling
with what she thought was some sort of listening and recording device. The man
removed the headset, pressed first one button and then another on the electronic
box. Listening intently, Amanda could just barely hear the recorded voice. It
was Congressman Martinson.
Returning to the restaurant and to her table, Amanda knew she had to get a
message to Lee. She gestured to the waiter, who came over immediately.
"Yes madam. What can I get you?"
"Well, what I would really like is to speak to the chef," she smiled and looked
at the waiter in such a way that he couldn't refuse her. She knew that the main
course she had ordered was one of the specialties that Lee was responsible for
"Certainly. I'll go to the kitchen and get him for you."
"Thank you, ahh, Jack is it?"
Quickly, Amanda took paper and a pen from her purse and composed a short note.
She hoped it would be clear enough for Lee to understand but cryptic enough so
that if some unwanted person got hold of it, they wouldn't be able to make
much sense out of it.
Jack went back into the kitchen. "Hey, chef Leo . . . LEO."
"What?" Lee almost didn't respond to his cover name.
"The lady at table nineteen wants to talk to you. I think she wants to
"Sorry, I don't have the time."
"OK, but if I were you, I'd make time. She's a looker."
"Yup. brunette, big brown eyes, great figure . . ."
"I'll make time."
Jack laughed. "I'll tell her you're on your way."
Lee walked toward the table where Jack was standing. He looked at the young man
with a questioning expression.
"Chef Leo," Jack began, "this is Mrs. Morton."
Lee chuckled inwardly. Amanda had chosen the cover name from their first real
case, the one where Billy had first insisted that Lee take Amanda along. "Mrs.
Morton, what can I do for you?"
"I just wanted to tell you in person how much I enjoyed the dinner. The Coq au
Vin was marvelous. You certainly are a wonderful chef," she smiled and extended
"Does she want me to shake her hand or kiss it," Lee wondered silently. He took
her hand, deciding that kissing it would be very appropriate in a French
restaurant. As he bent forward and placed a light kiss on the back of her hand,
he felt the piece of paper she was holding, between her thumb, which was bent
under, and the palm of her hand. He took her hand in both his, "Thank you very
much," and took the piece of paper. He smiled, turned, and started back to the
kitchen. He had to get a little privacy so he could read the note.
Amanda signaled to Jack to bring the bill. She paid, left Jack a very nice tip,
and left the restaurant. She had parked her car in a location from which she
could see not only the front of the establishment, but also down the alley to
the side door.
As soon as he got back to the kitchen, clutching Amanda's note in his hand, Lee
excused himself and went to the men's room. As he started to read the note, René
came into the room. Lee tried to conceal the paper, but René had already seen
it. Pretending to lose his balance, he bumped into Lee with enough force to
knock the piece of paper from Lee's hand. René, apologizing profusely, quickly
bent down and picked up the note. Since he didn't quite understand the meaning
of the words he was able to read, he decided it might be a code of some sort. It
was better, he thought, to be safe than sorry. Accordingly, he handed Lee the
paper. As soon as Lee turned away from him, René grabbed Lee and shoved his head
against the wall, twice. After the second blow, Lee slumped to the floor. René
stepped outside and as soon as he got Michel's attention, signaled the younger
man to join him. Together, they carried Lee to the employee's locker room where
they tied him up and locked him in a closet, to which only Michel had a key.
René had removed the note from Lee's pocket. Reading the entire message left him
with the feeling that it was some sort of code. "We'll have to get word to
Anatoly so he can make arrangements to take care of this guy—whoever he is."
"You don't think he's a chef," Michel asked, obviously somewhat frightened.
"No, I certainly do not. He is probably a government agent and that woman—that
'food critic'—must be working with him. Too bad she got away!"
"What do we do about the Congressman?" Michel wondered.
"Nothing. Forget about him. I'm sure Anatoly will agree—it's this man that
we have to worry about now!"
The restaurant closed at eleven. It was a little after that now. As Amanda
continued to watch, her patience was finally rewarded. Two men emerged from the
side door, half carrying, half dragging an obviously incapacitated Lee Stetson.
They managed to get him down the steps and into the alley where they shoved him
into a van, which had just pulled up by the side of the building. As the van
drove off, she took off in pursuit. She knew exactly what to do—since she had
practically committed to memory the Agency tapes on Automobile Surveillance,
Parts One and Two.
Arriving in the warehouse district, Amanda saw the van pull over and park. The
two men got out and again half carried Lee inside. She had pulled her car over
and stopped about a half block away. She was very glad that she had chosen to
wear dark slacks and jacket and rather low heel shoes. Walking along the side of
the building, hugging the wall and staying in the shadows as much as possible,
she finally came to a narrow, recessed door. Amazingly, it was unlocked!
Entering, she made her way back to the front of the warehouse, towards the area
where, she silently prayed, she would find Lee. In the dim light, provided by
some fixtures in the high ceiling, she could make out several doors, apparently
to offices or perhaps small storage spaces. Trying the first door she came to,
she found only an empty room. The second door proved to be the right one. There
was Lee, sitting in a chair, his head drooping down on his chest. His hands
cuffed behind him. Amanda approached him quietly. Reaching out, she gently
touched his shoulder. "Lee, Lee. Can you hear me? Please, wake up."
Nothing. No response.
She leaned down and spoke directly into his ear. "Lee, it's Amanda. Come on now.
Wake up." He stirred just a bit. Shaking his shoulder a little harder, she tried
again—"Lee." His head came up and he turned towards her, trying to focus. He
was still dazed and disoriented. "Lee, we've got to get you out of here . . ."
Walking over to the desk, the only other piece of furniture in the room, Amanda
began going through the drawers, one after another. Finally she found what she
had hoped for—keys. There were at least a half dozen small keys. They looked
about the right size for handcuffs. Stepping back behind Lee's chair, she began
trying one after another, until—Bingo! The fifth key was the charm. With his
hands free and Amanda gently prodding him, Lee managed to get to his feet. He
was still slightly dizzy, but with his arm around Amanda's shoulder and her arm
around his waist, he was able to walk out of the room, out of the building and
to her car.
"Amanda, we've got to find a phone."
"I know. I'll stop at the first phone booth or gas station we come to."
They drove away from the warehouse and towards Georgetown. In four or five
minutes, they came to one of those all night gas stations with a small
convenience store attached. Amanda parked as close as she could to the public
"OK. Do you want to call Billy or should I?"
Lee started to open the car door, but then fell back against the seat.
"Oh my gosh, Lee. What's wrong?" She touched his forehead and felt a large bump.
Turning on the dome light, she could see what appeared to be dried blood around
the bump. "Oh, you're hurt. I've got to get you back to the Agency or to a
"No, Amanda. Call Billy. Tell him what's happened and where he can find these
guys. He's got to get moving because as soon as they realize I'm gone, they'll
go underground and then we'll have a tough time locating them."
"But . . ."
"Just do it. please? Call Billy. Now?"
"All right. You just rest," she said, laying her hand on his arm.
"I will. Go. Call."
"I am, I am."
Amanda dialed the special, after-hours number which Billy had given her for just
such an emergency.
"Sir, it's Amanda . . ." She filled him in on the bugged tables, the storage
building with the listening post, and the location of the warehouse where Lee had
been taken. She gave a description of the two men who were involved in abducting
Lee and also told Billy about the man she had seen slipping something to Michel
earlier in the evening, something she thought was most probably a bug.
"Good work, Amanda. I'll get teams to all the locations involved. Take Lee back
to the Agency. Let our doctor decide whether or not he needs to go to the
"Right, Sir. Bye."
Amanda drove back to the Agency as fast as she dared. She didn't want to get
stopped for speeding. When they arrived, she insisted on helping Lee out of the
car and into the building, even though he protested vigorously that he didn't
need any help. Once inside, they made their way to the Agency Infirmary. A
young doctor named Ted Rogers had pulled the night duty.
After a careful examination, he concluded that Lee probably had a concussion and
would have to spend the night there.
"Doc, I just want to go home. I'll be fine," Lee grumbled.
"No, Mr. Stetson, you will not be fine—or at least you may not be fine.
That's the problem. With your head injury, we can't be sure. So, you stay here,
where I can monitor your responses throughout the night, or you can go to a
hospital, and someone there can monitor you."
Lee sighed loudly. "I'll stay here."
"Good," said both the doctor and Amanda.
"Does he need stitches?" Amanda asked.
"No. Scalp wounds tend to bleed a lot but in Mr. Stetson's case, there really
isn't anything to suture."
"Thank goodness," Lee said under his breath.
"Get a good night's rest and I'll see you tomorrow," Amanda smiled and squeezed
"I will. See you." Lee watched her walk out of the room and start down the
hallway. He was secretly relieved that he'd be staying. He felt lousy.
The next morning Lee was dressed and pacing the floor when Billy and Amanda
arrived at his room at the same time. Billy filled them in on how the previous
night's activities had gone and that they had found and arrested Joubert, Robert
and a KGB agent named Anatoly Dubinov. They had also arrested several low level
KGB operatives who had assisted in kidnapping and interrogating the American
"Altogether, a great job, you two," Billy beamed.
"Thank you, Sir."
"Can I get out of here now?" Lee asked impatiently.
"The doctor says you can go upstairs to your office and do some paperwork, as
long as it doesn't give you a head ache."
"Billy, paperwork always gives me a head ache."
"Very funny. Amanda, take him up to the Q-Bureau and make sure he doesn't
"Yes Sir, I'll take care of him." She took Lee by the arm and led him out the
door. "Come on, Lee, let's go to work."
"Yeah," he agreed. "I'll dictate and you type."
"Or I'll pace around the office and you type."
"Amanda, you don't pace...."
"And you don't type . . .," she said with a little smile in her voice.
Later that evening, Amanda and Lee were standing in her backyard—again.
"How's your head?" She reached up and gingerly touched the affected area. "Ohhh,
you have quite a bump there."
"Hey, I'm fine. Really. You know the doc gave me a clean bill of health. Guess I
have a hard head."
"Just remember, Scarecrow, you said that, I didn't."
Lee chuckled. Caught. "Amanda, how about dinner tomorrow tonight. Sort of a
celebration for cracking this case."
"Oh, I'm really sorry, Lee, but I just can't."
"Oh, can't get away from your mother and the boys?"
"No, it's not that."
"Then what's the problem?"
"Eating in that restaurant four nights in a row . . . I've gained five pounds!"
"Well, it doesn't show. You have a great fig . . . ahh, you . . . ahh. You probably
needed to put on a little weight."
Amanda smiled at the almost compliment. "Lee, my clothes don't fit. Nothing is
comfortable anymore. I've got to go on a diet."
"If you don't want to go out to dinner, how about coming over to my place?" he
asked with a winning smile.
"As I recall, you seldom have food at your place."
"Exactly. I can offer you a diet 7-UP and a stale crust of bread. Perfect for
someone who's dieting."
"Lee, I think I'll pass."
"You don't know what you're missing."
"Yes I do. See you at work tomorrow."
"Good night, Amanda."