Sam watched the phone bounce in the cradle from the force of Lee's hand slamming it there.  Her eyes moved up to her partner's unusually pale and taut face.  Unfortunately, she had just arrived and hadn't heard any of the conversation that precipitated the phone violence but she noticed enough people in the room staring to be concerned.

Bypassing her own desk completely, the tall woman padded over to the side of Lee's desk and hiked a hip on one corner.  "Hey, partner.  Can I buy you a cup of coffee?" she asked softly.

Lee swallowed hard, realizing that other people in the room had almost certainly heard her outburst.  Obviously, Sam had also witnessed something.  'God damn it.  Damn it to hell.'

She'd tried so hard to not bring any baggage into this precinct, hoping for a new start, and had succeeded for some time.  Now, she had to hope that she hadn't said anything that might endanger her position.

Blinking, Lee thought about what she'd just realized.  That this position she'd intentionally planned on using just as a stopgap measure had become important to her.  So had her partner.  She looked up at that partner and then back down at the desk in frustration as she tried to remember exactly what had been said.

She could still feel the other eyes on her but wasn't willing to look around the room.  Nodding slowly, as the heat of the flush suffusing her face hit her, she tried to go along with Sam's question and responded, "About time you paid me back."

Sam picked up the ball and ran with it, raising her voice slightly.  "Oh puleeze!" she teased.  "You'll have to buy the coffee shop to catch up on the cups you owe me."

Appreciating Sam's effort, Lee went with it.  "No way!  I bought the last three times."

"As if!  Why don't we ask them, eh?"

"Oh right.  If that one guy is taking the money again, all you'll have to do is smile at him and he'll say whatever you want."

As Lee reached for her jacket and locked up her desk, Sam took a surreptitious glance around the room and was relieved to note that just about all the curious eyes were back were they belonged and not still watching them.

In a very short period of time, they were heading out the door but soon after exiting Lee took the lead and headed towards the park where they'd talked out a few things in their time together.

Lee's mind raced ahead to what she wanted to say, knowing that Sam was aware that she'd always been using the position as her partner as a temporary one until something opened up elsewhere.

She took a deep breath and then another.  Things had changed and she wasn't even sure how Sam would feel about that, if her partner would understand.  They'd developed an excellent working relationship and ... 'Dammit, Lee, she's probably thinking you're nuts by now.  Just knock it off and tell her.'

Sighing inwardly, Sam waited for Lee to tell her it was time to move on.  It was painfully obvious that Lee was working up to it and the detective found herself regretting that it was time but also a little impatient to get the worst over with.

That she hadn't said a thing about how she'd gotten used to Lee being around, how she really was a very good partner and one of the few people Sam would trust with her back weighed heavily on her.  Now, it seemed that it would be a parting speech.  She tensed as Lee turned from her heavy musings.

Lee's dark blue eyes took in her partner's tense form and unhappily blew out a gust of air.  "Did I blow it?"

Trying to be supportive, the dark haired woman replied, "I missed most of it but I'm sure it's fine."

Looking away unhappily, Lee sighed deeply.  "Yeah, fine.  That's why you pulled me out of there, right?"

Frowning, Sam tried to pick her way through the conversational minefield.  She was finding it odd to be both wanting and not wanting to know what had been said.  "They'll remember until the next time someone breaks up with their girlfriend, finds out their dog died, has an argument with their wife or whatever.  It's a soap opera, you know that."

Lee thought about that for a minute, it was true.  There was always something going on, something to catch the ear of the troops and turn their attentions from the last problem.   She shook her head ever so slightly attempting to find the courage she needed to dredge up from wherever it had hidden and talk plainly to her partner.

Taking in the small pond to the side, where tiny ripples floated across the surface, the tall blonde ran one hand along the three-foot high rough-hewn stone wall that bordered the expanse of water.  Abruptly, she turned and sat down on the wall and looked up at her partner.  "I uh ..."  Another sigh broke free.

Sam had pretty much had all she could take in the waiting department and let that be known in as gentle a way as she could.  "Look, Lee.  If you have something to say, just say it and get it over with."

Watching her partner all but jump in place with frustration gave Lee the push she'd needed.  "All right."   With one hand she cupped her chin and let the other rest on the wall, then spoke up, "They promised me that I wouldn't have to testify about something a while back and the phone call was about the fact that now I have to or ..."  She released her chin and found herself getting angry again.  "Or the jerk might get away with it."

Thinking about that for a few moments, Sam put two and two together and surprisingly found four.  "Something about the reason you came to this precinct?"

Slightly startled and yet not, due to her knowledge of her partner's keen intelligence, Lee looked up again and caught Sam's interested eyes.  "Yeah," she said quietly and then looked away again.  "Exactly the reason."

For a few seconds, Sam found herself back to one of the times Kris had told her that whatever she had to say was important and whatever it was wouldn't change how she felt about her.  The dark haired woman found herself looking at her partner's bent head and remembering, with a surge of thankfulness of having Kris in her life, just how good it felt to have someone believe in you.  The words popped out, "Listen, partner.  I don't know what it is but if you ever need to get it off your chest then just let me know."

She waited as the moments ticked by, hoping that Lee would open up and then laughed at herself for hoping for something that she didn't give away herself.   That realization was difficult, albeit honest, and she turned her head to look away, the leaves turning colors on the trees had suddenly become very important.  It was Lee's barely heard voice that turned her head back around.

"My partner and I.  We were out on a call."  The blonde's voice wavered, "Should've been easy.  You know?"  She asked the question but didn't expect an answer and moved right along.  "We'd finally got the lab results back on a suspected rapist of, at least, four women.  We went to pick him up."

Sam noticed that Lee still wouldn't meet her gaze and decided to make this a little easier on her partner.  In one smooth move, she turned her lanky frame and positioned it on the wall next to the other woman's.

Lee's lips twitched slightly at her partner's obvious show of support.  She was well aware that Sam usually chose action over words and this action was definitely appreciated.  Feeling slightly more at ease, she continued, her eyes focused on the soft movements made by the leaves on the trees.  How fall was making itself known in the colors that were softening, spreading a mantle of autumn over the trees.

"He tried to run but we caught him in the back yard.  Or, rather, I did.  My partner let me take him to the car, too.  Nice of him, huh?"  Lee risked a quick side-glance at her current partner and was relieved to find her observing the ground in a very studious manner.

Listening to Lee speak, Sam deliberately kept very still and quiet.  What her partner had to say was obviously terribly important and Sam might have lost track of other people's feelings for a while but a certain small blonde, that the detective loved to death, had made her realize just how important they were, especially when you cared even a tiny bit about the person.  Plus, the ground was an interesting granite and concrete mix anyway.  Right?

"Anyway.  He was supposed to be right behind me, backing me up.  You know?"  Lee swallowed, the emotions of that night coming back in full force as a huge lump in her throat.  "So, when the guy's partner in crime, so to speak, came from behind the car and started walking towards me.  It was just me," Lee's voice trailed off into a whisper.

"Just me.  Against a behemoth of a guy who started asking me what I was doing and if I needed any help."  Lee closed her eyes against the memory of that night and tried to unclamp the jaw muscles that had become so tight that her teeth were aching.

Sam caught movement in her peripheral vision and Lee's right knee was trembling minutely.  Her gaze moved up to the painful vision that Lee was at that moment, her back was ramrod straight, her jaw clenched together, the muscles flexed tight as a drum, one hand clenched into a tight first and the other pushing against her knee as if to force it to stop moving.   She wanted to stop this, to tell her partner that it would wait until she it didn't bother her as much but, once again, Lee interrupted her train of thought.

It took Lee several long moments to pull everything back together, even though her heart was still pounding, to continue.  Watching her partner's foot tap slightly against the ground, she realized that she was probably making Sam uncomfortable.  "I need to say this.  Just bear with me, okay?"

"Not going anywhere," Sam rumbled, a little embarrassed at sharing something with her partner that was obviously so intense.

"Oookay.  Anyway, I didn't know this guy from Adam yet.  I kept a watch on him, asking him to move away and then the guy I was holding suddenly took a dive, pulling away from me.  In that instant, the other guy was on me.  He hit me so hard that I finally realized what it meant to be seeing stars.  Opened up my eyebrow on the first shot, there's blood ..."

Sam could see that Lee's hands were now doing a terrified dance of their own and it hit her that this was costing her partner far too much.  "Lee, you don't have to do this."

Oddly, Sam's words, although meant to be comforting, helped Lee get a grip on what was going on inside.  "Yes.  Yes, I do, I have to get this out because I have things to say and you need to know this first."

Not particularly happy with this development, Sam nevertheless went with it.  "All right but we can finish it anytime, doesn't have to be today."

Mindful of the words but ignoring them, Lee continued after a lick of her lips, "Before I even knew what was going on, he had me down and was ... god, he was hitting me so hard.  I couldn't see, I was feeling around for anything to hit him with.  Just knew he'd grab my gun and it'd be over.  Finished."

Her breath was coming fast now as the memories took on the full color of the present.  "I called for my partner or I think I did.   It's all such a blur now.  Everything was turning white.  I thought that this was it.  This was my time."  Her heartbeat was erratic as she relived the memories.   She had been so sure she was going to die, so sure that her life was over.

Unfocused eyes tracked idly around the vividly green grass and up to the sky where they followed invisible birds in random patterns.  "All this time I'd been scrabbling with my hands for something, anything, to fight back but hadn't found a damned thing.  Jesus, you'd think there would've been a hubcap, you know?"  Again, the question was asked not expecting an answer.

"My fingertips eventually found this piece of wood or something, I'm still not sure where it came from but when I found it later, I realized it looked like a stake."  Lee turned her head towards Sam again.  "You know, like to kill a vampire or something."

As if discussing the weather and not items that kill mythological beings, Sam simply nodded and met her partner's eyes for a split second before Lee turned away again a long moment later.

"I had a hand full of splinters afterwards but don't remember feeling it at the time, just knew I had a weapon if I could get it.  As soon as I had a hold of it, I slammed the pointy end I'd felt back towards the guy's leg and hit pay dirt the first time.  But, he didn't let go, just started yelling incoherently at me.  I stabbed at him a couple more times until I nailed his knee but good and he let go."

Pursing her lips, Lee blew out a breath of air, as if releasing several memories to the winds.  "I was sucking in air and coughing on the blood from where he'd been hitting me and all I could hear was a torrent of silence in my ears.  Everything hurt, everything .... My blood was on the ground, drops of it running off me into the gutter, gathering dirt as they went along."  She shuddered slightly at the vivid memory.

Steeling herself for the next part, she continued, "Then I saw his boots from the corner of my good eye, since my other was useless I was lucky he came at me from that direction.  And, dammit ... I was not going to let him get me.  It wasn't happening."

Already knowing a tiny bit about Lee's past from when Captain Scott told Sam about her, Sam found herself becoming very angry on her partner's behalf.   She'd guessed that this was why Lee's old partner wasn't going to be around much longer.   Unconsciously, one of her hands began to ball into a fist.

"I had no idea where the other guy I'd had originally was but the behemoth kicked me in the gut.  Luckily, I'd seen it coming so was able to roll with most of it.   I rolled far enough to get out of the way and come up in a crouch, and then used my hand on the car to help me up.  He was still coming."

Lee could picture the man in her mind's eye, tall, grizzly beard, shaggy haircut and very large just as clearly as she could see the bloody handprint she'd left on the side of the car that night.  "He was the epitome of an experienced seadog, odd since it turned out he had been in the past," she mused aloud quietly.

"Anyway, he lumbered up towards me.  I tried to fumble for my gun but I'd hurt my hand somewhere and I couldn't seem to get it to work right and you know as well as me that those stories and TV shows that show them able to pull a gun when the person's six feet away and running towards them are crap."

Lee's tone had changed to something a little less terrified and more bitter in the past couple of sentences and Sam wondered if her partner would ever truly be able to get over the incident.  Somehow she doubted it and couldn't blame her in the slightest.

"So ... Mr. Stake was still in my hand.  I flipped it around so I had the pointy end in my hand and waited just long to swing with everything I was.  The meaty end of it hit him square in the cheek and knocked his head to the side.  Blood started to pour out of the wound but I'll be damned if what took twenty-seven stitches didn't even phase the son of a bitch.  He shook it off and started again."

Sam blinked at Lee's swear words; she couldn't remember really hearing any bad language from the tall blonde since they'd teamed up.  She spent a minute thinking about that and the true feelings behind it, not commenting with even a joke because of the other woman's obvious difficulties.

"So, I hit him again.  Another twenty stitches and he seemed to finally feel it.  He shook his head and spat that I'd pay for making him bleed, I can still remember watching a drop of blood fall from his face to the ground, as if I were completely spaced out."  Lee's head shook back and forth a couple of times at the memory.

"He wiped at his face and I grabbed my spare pair of handcuffs, thank god they stayed with me, and somehow spun him to his knees.  Still not real sure how I managed it.  I think I was as surprised as he was.  I got one hand handcuffed and I almost had the other one done but then I saw my partner.   He was standing on the steps to the house, just watching.  Enjoying a cigarette."

Sam found the stone under her hands not nearly rough enough to take her mind off the intense desire she had to throttle Lee's former partner.  Her disbelief at the partner's actions was tempered by the belief she had that Lee was telling her the complete truth.

Unfortunately, Sam was far too aware of just how dynamics worked out sometimes.   Some partners were worth their weight in gold, some you couldn't pay to give them away.  However, this was an extreme end and she could well understand Lee's reluctance to stay at her old precinct, even if the asshole partner was gone.

Lee brought herself back to the present after remembering that awful feeling when she'd met Reeves' eyes that night.  How he'd smirked and started to finally saunter off the steps almost jauntily.  Unfortunately, it'd been a few seconds too long.  "The guy took advantage of my delay and started to struggle again.  The open handcuff ripped out of my hand and caught me in the neck."

Unconsciously, one of Lee's hands had reached up to trace a very fine line on her neck before dropping back to her thigh.  "Jesus, Sam, I was so angry, so very angry.  I knew in an instant that all of this was because Reeves had found out that day that he was going to be brought up on excessive force charges and I was the only witness."

Surprisingly, she exhaled a disbelieving laugh next.  "Christ, I was the one who stopped him from killing the guy.  But, I told him I couldn't promise what he wanted, which was my silence.   It wasn't the first time he'd gone off the deep end and I wasn't protecting the asshole any longer.  I'd already done my part for the 'old boys club' and not spoken up about some things that gave me nightmares."

The dark haired woman's brow furrowed, knowing her own past was far from as clean as it should've been.  She'd done so many things that she would like never share with anyone else on the behalf of 'good.'  It greatly saddened Sam that no doubt some of her own actions would cause Lee to have nightmares also.

"But, after seeing Reeves on those steps ... I just got so pissed off.  The guy could've been ten feet tall and I would've taken him down after that."  Blonde hair shook from side to side in rueful remembrance.  "He came at me, him bleeding all over, me bleeding all over and I nailed him so hard with my fist that I broke three bones in my hand."

A fierce smile lit the blonde's face.  "He dropped, though.  You should've seen him.  The look of shock on his face as my fist hit was priceless."  She paused for a second.  "Then I closed that damned handcuff with basically one hand and finally noticed that other units had started arriving.  Of course, then Reeves sauntered up with the other perp in hand.  Telling them that he'd been after the other guy all the time."

Finally, Lee allowed her restrained muscles some release and shot up off the wall, obviously startling her partner.  "Sorry," the blonde apologized, her jacket blowing open slightly with the breeze.  Absently, she pulled it tight around her without fastening it, her arms crossing against her body as if to ward off a chill.

"I had no proof, you know?  Nothing.  One of the women that showed up as back up was a friend of mine.  She took me to her car and waited until the ambulance arrived.  I didn't even realize what I was doing, I was in shock, told her what had happened.  Told her about my ... partner."  The word spat out more as an expletive than what it should've been.  "Her and her partner somehow kept Reeves away from me and I guess she used a payphone somewhere to call it all in because the next thing I knew, the lieutenant was there but nobody else knew what was going on."

Still holding herself tightly, Lee paced a couple of steps away and then back again.  "Thank god she did and thank god the most of the people there were good cops.  Turns out, one of the neighbors had seen the whole thing and called nine one one, even video taped little bits of it with a new camera they'd gotten.  The guy turned the tape into someone who was a straight up cop, he gave it to the lieutenant."

The blonde's eyes focused into the past, "I still haven't watched it, you know.  I couldn't, I tried several times and would just start shaking."  Letting out a deep breath, she continued, "I feel like such a wimp because I couldn't stay there, not with everything going on.  Not with his friends there, his cronies dogging me.  My friends and the brass tried to help until Reeves could be drummed out but I couldn't deal.  Sad, eh?"  Lee shook her head sadly, ashamed at herself for her weakness.

Sam saw the defeated posture and instantly sprang up, standing close to her partner but not touching.  "Bullshit.  That is plain bullshit," she spat as her righteous anger sprang free.

Lee tensed, not expecting such anger and a sliver of doubt wormed in.

Sam moved to stand in front of Lee, directly in her line of sight and waited until the darker blue eyes met her own.  "Let's get something straight here.  Nobody should have to go through what you did for anyone, especially not because of some hyped up son of a bitch with less sense than a freaking flea."

She took a breath and began again, this time trying to be a little calmer, "Something horrible happened to you.  Something that wasn't your fault.  Why should you watch yourself get beaten up?   Just in case you have any doubt, you are a damned fine cop and I won't let anyone, including you, tell me different."

When Lee didn't answer, Sam continued, using the verbal tirade as an outlet to her anger against Lee's former partner.  "Lee, I trust you with my back and there aren't a whole hell of a lot of people I can say that about.  I hoped you trusted me with yours but I understand if you're having problems with that."  Now the dark haired woman began to falter, she realized that she'd moved the conversation to their partnership and away from the issues they had been speaking of.  She turned slightly and looked out over the water.

Sam's words poked at Lee's awareness and she frowned.  "Problems with that?  You mean with you?" she asked, confused.

'Damn,' Sam thought.  She hadn't wanted to bring up the fact that she realized Lee was going to leave so soon.  "Yeah, with all of it.  Any of it."

"Sam, I don't have any problems with you.  None.  You're the best partner I've ever had and I trust you with my life, you've certainly saved it already."

Sam looked back at her partner, "Then ..."  Shaking her head, she blurted out, "I don't understand?"  Assuming Lee was going to end the partnership and now being told that Lee had no problems with her confused her greatly.

Lee positioned herself to stand shoulder to shoulder with her partner, and realized with an inward smile at the solidarity pose that created.  Sam had so easily stood up for her and she truly appreciated that.  Then, she too let her eyes linger over the water for a couple of seconds, taking in the glints as the sun kissed the ripples. Taking a breath, she eased it slowly out and spoke quietly, "Sam, I need to apologize to you."

She held up a hand as her partner immediately began to protest and smiled slightly, "No, please listen."  Putting both hands in pockets to keep them busy, she continued, "I came here thinking it was somewhere I could be for just a while before moving on.  Somewhere to get away from my old place.  Never somewhere I was going to stay.  I figured that you and I would be teamed for a short time and then I'd be gone.  That it didn't matter, nothing I did here mattered.  I told the Captain I'd be moving on soon, he knew."

Struggling to understand, Sam's jaw muscles tensed with the strain of not being able to ask what was going on.  She managed but just barely.

"I was wrong.  I'm happier here than I ever have been, I seem to fit, I'm comfortable and I have the best partner I could ever wish for.  Talk about from the deepest night to the brightest day, that's the difference I've experienced since I came here.  And ..."  Lee experienced doubts, now her partner knew the story would she even want to have her stay on?

"And?" Sam queried.

"And ... You should know.  Something came through for me a few days ago, another position.  Something that I might have wanted months ago but I don't want to move.  I ... "

As Lee struggled with trying to ask her partner to stick with her, Sam blinked and almost felt the heat of the light bulb flashing on in her mind.  "You're staying?" she asked, incredulous, her eyes moving to take in her partner's profile.

Swallowing, Lee kept her head down.  "I'd like to.  If ...if you'll keep me as your partner?"  She heard Sam's slight exhalation of a breath and assumed that was the answer until it was her turn to be surprised by her partner's response.

"I thought you were going to tell me you were leaving.  Hell yes, I'll keep you.  I just started getting you trained right," she said with a grin.

Lee's head popped up, so relieved that she returned the grin with open-mouthed shock.  It took her a couple of moments to get control.  "Trained me right?  What?!"

Grinning wider, Sam was about to answer but was interrupted by the ring of her cell phone.  She reached for the phone and pressed the button, holding the plastic up to her ear.  "Foster."

"Sam, it's Pat."

Sam bit the inside of her cheek lightly, she hadn't spoken to Patrick Kelly since before she and Kris had become lovers and knew he almost certainly had to be aware of their relationship by now.  "Hey, Pat.  What's up?" she tried to respond normally but briefly wondered if Pat had finally realized that she'd never be his.

"We need some help with a gang that might be operating on your turf too.  Started out as increasingly violent robberies around here but, as of a couple of hours ago, it's now become murder.  A guy they shot last night died this morning.   The Lieu wants us to see if you guys have any leads."

The dark haired detective could hear the distance in Pat's tone and mourned a little at the loss but hoped he'd come around eventually.  If his mother had any say in it, he certainly would.  That thought caused a twitch of her lips, Kris had told her what Mrs. Kelly had said to her during the dinner they'd had at the Kelly's.  About not giving up and about the support she'd shown to the small blonde.  If there was any doubt, which there wasn't, of how much Moira Kelly meant to Sam, that kindness to her life partner would never be forgotten.

'Plus,' Sam thought. 'This is a great way to keep Lee out of the office for a bit and let the guys find something else to think about.'  She looked at Lee, "Okay if we go to the Tenth and check out some information?"

"Sure." Lee shrugged her compliance; secretly glad to not have to go back to the office and then glancing over at her partner shrewdly, wondering if that was Sam's plan.

"Pat, my partner ..." Sam kept her eyes on Lee and smiled briefly.  "... and I will be over in about thirty minutes.  That good?"

As Sam finished her conversation, Lee looked out once more over the park.  Breathing deeply and realizing it was a deep sigh of relief.  Relief at sharing, relief at being accepted, relief at so many things she couldn't name.  An invisible weight seemed to have been lifted from her shoulders and that alone was enough to make her day seem impossibly bright.   As her eyes shifted across the small body of water, she noticed, for the first time, birds playing in the water and smiled freely for the first time in a long time.


Sam jumped back slightly as her arms suddenly were filled with a short blonde.  She'd barely managed to get the door closed before Kris had jumped into her arms.  "Not that I'm complaining in the slightest," she got out.  "But, is there a special reason you seem to be happy I'm home?"

Kris grinned against her lover's chest, rubbing the material of her jacket like a kitten searching for attention.  "Just a great day.  I've got the first page's main story tomorrow again, third time in week and Leo is deliriously happy."

"That's awesome, Kris!"  Sam's lips on Kris' were her sign of approval.  She'd meant it to be just a congratulatory peck, but as it always seemed to, the kiss went on for some time longer and when they finally parted Kris blew a breath of air into her bangs.

"Whew, I really like this getting home stuff," the blonde said.

A little dazed herself, Sam replied, "Yeah, me too.  Did you have fun with the team?"  She'd somehow remembered that Kris had plans to meet with some members of the softball team she normally played with earlier that evening.

Kris chewed her lip a little.  "Yeah, had a great time.   Um..."

The dark head bent down.  "Um?" Sam said, knowing instinctively that her lover was about to say something she might not necessarily enjoy.

"Well, I sort of promised them that you'd be around next year.  You will right?"  Blonde eyebrows rose in hope as Kris looked at her lover.

Sam breathed out, "Kris ..."  But, the please in the blonde's face was something she couldn't ignore.  A sigh followed.  "Why do I bother?"  She smiled as Kris snuggled into her body again.  "They know that I might not be able to make them all the time?"

"They know, they still want you there when you can."  Kris paused for a moment and then went on, "You know... it's been different the last few times I've been out with them."

"Different how?" the detective queried, a crease appearing in her forehead.

"Well ..." Kris trapped her bottom lip between her teeth and let it slide out.  "I seem to have picked up cool points."

Confused, Sam asked, "And just what are cool points and why did you pick them up?"

Laughing, Kris replied, "I picked them up because I bagged you, my girl.  Boy are they impressed!"

Drawing back, the tall woman regarded her lover in some shock.  "What?"

"Yep!" Kris almost cackled in glee.  "I got me the hottest thing on two legs and most of them are so jealous they could spit."

"Spit," Sam stated drolly as one eyebrow rose, she didn't even want to consider how uncomfortable she'd be the next time she saw the team.  Instead, she spoke the truth she felt, "Well, I'll have you know that I happen to have the hottest thing on two legs in my arms right now.  Guess they'll have to live with being jealous."

Kris shook her head but her face creased into a smile.  "As if."  As soon as she spoke she knew she'd made a mistake as the blue eyes literally speared into her soul.

Sam looked intently at her lover.  "Never doubt how beautiful you are, ever.  Never doubt how you make me feel, ever.  And, never, ever doubt that I will ..." Sam's hands moved to Kris' waist.  "Tickle you to death if you ever doubt me again."

With that, Sam proceeded to grab Kris and find several ticklish spots that the blonde had tried to hide, unsuccessfully, from her lover.  They ended in a tangle on the couch with Sam bending her neck to Kris and planting a firm, passionate kiss on the other woman's lips.

"Wow," Kris breathed after spending a moment collecting up her various brain cells.  Sam's bouts of silliness were rare and it was a joy to participate in them, especially with such a spectacular ending.  She licked her lips.

Sam smiled and turned on her back, pulling the smaller woman against her.

Kris immediately snuggled into a favored position, head resting on Sam's shoulder, and arm around her waist.  "Um, there's something else I probably should mention."  She played with a button on the dark haired woman's shirt a little nervously.

"Yeeeessss?" Sam rumbled out.

Shivering a little as the rumble tumbled down her spine uncontrollably, Kris wiggled slightly, enjoying the feeling.  "Well, I sort of promised we'd go to a club on Friday night."

"A club?"  Sam was more than a bit surprised by this development.

"Yeah, a bunch of the girls are going and asked us to come with them.  Well, they asked me to ask you, really."

"Why would they specifically invite me?"

Kris slapped her lover lightly on the stomach.  "Sam!  Because they like you!"

Blue eyes looked down at the blonde head in disbelief.  "Kris..."

"Don't you dare!" Kris interrupted.  "They came to me and asked me if you were coming back.  When I said I hadn't asked you, they specifically asked me to make sure I did.  And, they asked me to ask you about Friday.  They were both easy questions to ask, since I want you both on the field and to come with us on Friday, so it wasn't hard.  You'll be there right?"

Sam didn't even bother to protest.  Leaning down, she kissed the blonde head and said, "Yes, what time?"


"Okay, that should be fine."  She thought for a couple of seconds and then asked, "Just what type of club?"

"Oh, dancing and stuff," Kris responded airily.

Instantly, Sam's sense perked up.  "Stuff?  What's the name?"

"Uh, I don't know," Kris replied.  "I just told them to get me the directions and we'd meet them.  They do this a lot, so they know all the good spots."  The blonde propped herself up on her elbows and looked at her lover.  "It's not a problem right?"

Sam's head tilted to the side slightly.  "I guess not.  Just what were you planning on wearing?"

"I figured my black sheath with a wrap?"

Sam remembered well just how gorgeous Kris looked in that, in anything, and if there was any doubt about going with them there certainly wasn't now.  There was no way she was letting Kris out there looking like that.  Oh no, no way.  "You'll be the most gorgeous thing there."

"No, figured that'd be you in that red number you have."

"Red number?  Kris, I am not wearing a dress."

Kris' lips began to form a pout.  "Come on, Sam.  You look heavenly in that.  Even better than the dress you had on when you sang at the club that one night when you took a dip in the river."

"You mean the night that your friends got in trouble?"

"Just Jen and it wasn't her fault!"

Sam laughed.  "Kris, trouble follows you no matter whose fault it is."

"Does not!  But, for an apology I'll take you in the red dress."

"And just where would you take me?" Sam asked in a low rumble.

Pushing up further, Kris tapped Sam's nose with a finger and grinned, "Oh, I'd take you anywhere you wanted to go."

That stirred a memory of Sam's from earlier in the day but she still replied, "Really?"

"Definitely," Kris answered and then looked at her friend, feeling a change.  "What?"

"Hmm?" Sam muttered distractedly.

"What's going on in that gorgeous head of yours?"

"I just realized something.  Remember Pat Kelly?" Sam questioned.

"Oh yes, I remember Pat," Kris replied, remembering well how miserable she'd been after thinking Pat and Sam might become a couple before Sam had made her choice in Kris quite clear.

At her friend's tone, Sam looked down and realized instantly what was going on.  She leaned down, tenderly kissed Kris' forehead, and then met the lips that were soon presented to her with a smile.  "I love you," she said quietly and then tucked the blonde against her neck.

"Anyway, Lee and I had to go over to meet with him today.   I stepped away to make a call and check on a case and apparently he and Lee were talking.  I just realized what it was I'd heard when I came back, he was offering to build her a kitty condo for her new child."  Sam chuckled.  "It took him so damned long to do that bird house for his mom, I hope she doesn't mind waiting a while."

"A kitty condo?"  Kris chuckled, very pleased.  "She really did take it then?"

"Yep, she did.  We uh … well, I took her by to pick it up tonight."  Sam couldn't stop the blush that caused a little tingle in her cheeks.

Kris frowned and looked up.  Upon seeing the slight sting of red in Sam's cheeks, she realized something instantly and laughed.  "You would've brought it home with you if she hadn't, wouldn't you?"

Embarrassed, Sam replied, "Uh … no.  Demon Spawn's plenty I think and he'd probably have a fit since you've pretty much given him full rein of whatever he wants."

"ME?!" Kris repeated with eyebrows raised high.  "I'm not the one who built him all those doors and bought him all that stuff, I've just helped occasionally."   She punctuated her righteous indignation with a teasing bite of Sam's upper chest.

Not sure where to go was a situation that Sam was becoming annoyingly familiar with when the blonde in her arms wanted to make a point.  "Yes, well…" Sam cleared her throat.  "He's your cat, figured I better take care of him."

"Uh huh.  Sure you did."  Kris smiled and shook her head, getting comfy again.  "Any word on the boy from that night?"  Her voice was slightly muffled by how she was resting on her lover.

"Yeah.  Talked to Family Services earlier.  Turns out the grandparents have been looking for both the daughter and the boy.  They're overjoyed to take him for now and the mom's getting the treatment she needs."

"That's awesome!"

"Yeah.  It is."  Feeling Kris' arms wrap around her comfortably, Sam settled back against the couch and just held on for a few long moments enjoying the peace her lover brought before continuing with what she had been saying before.  "Anyway.  I don't remember Pat ever offering to make anything for someone else before and now I'm wondering if his offer to bring around some information tomorrow afternoon isn't something else."

Kris thought about that for a couple of seconds.  "You mean that they hit it off really well?"

Craning her neck down, Sam looked at Kris' face.  "Think I'm off base?  Lee's never talked about having anyone and I've never pried.  But, I know that Pat doesn't have anyone.  I'd be thrilled if they hit it off that way.  What do you think?"

The blonde grinned.  "I think you've become a matchmaker now you've found the love of your life."

"Ya think?" Sam chuckled.

"Yep, and that's just fine with me.  I hope they do hit it off, they're both really good people."

"That they are, my love, that they are," Sam replied, rubbing her hand against Kris' back lightly.  "Lee's staying with us," the detective added quietly.

Green eyes widened and Kris propped herself up yet again.  "That's awesome, Sam!  I thought you were concerned she'd be leaving?"

"Yeah.  Guess I was reading it all wrong.  Hope I didn't read that stuff with her and Pat wrong today too."

"We'll see.  For now, I'm just glad she's staying.  I don't like just anyone watching your back."

"Me either.  It's turned out a lot better than I thought it would."  Sam mused.

"Yeah, lots of things have," Kris replied with a faint smile, lowering herself again and just enjoying the feel of her mate's solid body against her own.  This was, she realized, an amazingly wonderful feeling.


Kris woke a short time later with a warm, softly breathing body underneath her.  The reporter breathed deeply of her lover's scent, marveling at how easy it was to hold her.  To feel her lover slumber in her arms and know that everything she'd ever need was right there.

The roughness of Sam's shirt against her bare arm betrayed the softness beneath and, as she listened to her lover's breaths, she thought about the trust.  How Sam's tough exterior hid a heart so gentle, so warm and so loving.

Her hand drifted up and trailed slowly up Sam's arm with a feather light touch.  Feeling the outline of the muscles in the tall woman's arm and reveling in the fact that she belonged to this woman and Sam belonged to her.  That the detective chose to come to her for comfort, for warmth, for love.

Kris was very sure that she could never truly explain to Sam just exactly what the dark haired woman meant to her and she had lost count of the times that she had tried.  As much as she could describe everything else in words, this feeling was beyond anything she'd ever known.  She just thanked the heavens that her actions spoke louder than her words when it related to the woman she loved.

To touch the softness of her face, her cheek was bliss and she found herself doing so.  The lightest of touches with the back of her hand.  Sam didn't stir.  Kris was glad for that, as she knew her lover needed her rest.  A prickle of tears stung the back of her eyes when she realized how precious it was that someone whose senses stirred her so easily could rest so quietly in her lover's arms.

Leaning forward very slowly, so as not to wake the other woman, she touched her lips to the neck that beckoned so temptingly very softly... and was still startled as she felt the touch stir her senses.  The faint scent of the detective's perfume drifted to her as she kept her face close to Sam's body and she breathed it in as if it were the last breath of air she'd ever breathe.

Settling back down to a comfortable position, the blonde moved her hand to the dark hair sprawled haphazardly over the shoulders and upper chest of her lover and rubbed several strands between her fingers as if memorizing each detail.  Satisfied, for the moment, she then smiled and slid her hand back down, very carefully, until it once again rested on Sam's stomach, and placed it over one of the larger ones that already lay there.

As she simply enjoyed resting quietly, her lips moved soundlessly as words riffled through her mind like cool mountain water over rocky rapids.

Within the circle of your arms,
nothing can harm, nothing can touch.
There is such peace in the sound
of your heart as I slumber against you.
Ribbons of color surround us,
weaving their path through our lives.
Hearts, bodies and souls combined,
forever cannot seem too long.

The blonde repeated it very quietly and then her face was suddenly painted with a smile as blue eyes opened and watched her with an amazed look.

"Beautiful, just like you," Sam whispered, leaning down and kissing Kris' forehead, even as her arms tightened on the person she adored.


"No, Will.  Let's go around that way," Kris insisted as she regarded the factory from across the street.  The day was one of those that several would classify as beautiful.  A power blue sky, with the occasional puffy white cloud, a hint of a breeze and in the seventies.  Gorgeous.  But that couldn't be said for the building she was looking at.

"Kris, maybe you can't read?  It says 'No Admittance'"

"Oh come on, fearless photographer.  Never get those awards if you don't break a rule every now and then," the blonde teased as she wiggled her eyebrows at the red haired photographer that had been paired with her for the last month or so.

"You know Leo would have a fit, Kris."  The photographer tried again to direct the blonde back to the front of the building.

'Not to mention a certain tall, dark haired gorgeous detective,' Kris thought to herself.  'But, I can smell the story here.'  She chewed on her bottom lip for a couple of seconds and then pulled the photographer to the side, behind a truck that looked like it hadn't been washed in at least ten years and had been through a couple of wars as well.

"Will, we need to get in there.  It'll just take us a minute.  C'mon!"  With that, the blonde reporter trotted off toward the gate that was furthest away from the front of the building. As she got close to the gate, Kris stopped and allowed Will to catch up.  Turning, she spoke up, "Okay, just a quick look and then we leave.  Honest!"

Looking around, the photographer said reluctantly, "Kris, you said that two weeks ago and I ended up losing my best camera!"

The blonde winced.  "Well, I did tell you to not get so close."  They had been trying to get a story and pictures, just like every other person there, of the embattled Mayor, who had been unable to answer some very pointed questions about some donations he had accepted from a company and some decisions he'd made that benefited the major players in that company.  She could easily recall Will's face as the Mayor got into the car and it lurched forward, surprising many people, knocking Will's precious camera for a loop.

Kris had felt terrible but Will had been so mad at losing the camera that he'd pulled out the spare he always carried and had managed to get some decent pictures as the Mayor got out of the car and yelled at people to get out of the way.  "This time, it really will be okay.  Let's go!"

Closing his eyes for a moment, Will sighed and then followed after the small blonde package of trouble.   Assuming that she would be an easy assignment had been erroneous but there was no doubting the stories and pictures they'd come away with were great in several instances.  He was sticking with her, even if she was determined to go where she shouldn't.

Slipping through the gate, Kris looked around cautiously and then eyed Will as he fit his slim frame through the gate.  As soon as he was through, she waved him on and moved closer to the factory's dirty wall.

She looked at the side of the building, rain streaked dirt seemed to hang off the brick wall.  Several windows were cracked and most were so filthy, there was no chance of seeing through them, even if they had been at a level she could peek through.  Will hit the side of the building in a trip and she turned in alarm.  "Are you okay?"

The photographer let out a deep sigh, annoyed at his clumsiness around Kris.  "Yeah, I'm fine."

In a series of movements from one building to another, aided by stacks of pallets here and drums there, they found themselves in a location of the facility where the hint of an acrid smell seemed to pervade the atmosphere.

Kris' nose and eyes began to protest immediately and she knew she was close to the story she was here for.  They'd gotten an anonymous tip months ago that the factory was not only illegally dumping material but also storing it incorrectly and possibly contaminating the ground water.

The authorities had tried to catch them repeatedly but nothing had ever come of it, the owners had somehow found out and cleaned up shop.  However, Kris had kept tabs on them and had chosen a time to see what she could find.

Pay dirt was around the corner, her eyes widened, and then protested the increase in exposure soon after, as she rounded the corner of a large garage type building and crouched down to see under the partially closed roll door.  Stacked in the building were hundreds of metal drums and cardboard boxes.  There were no names that she could see, no indication of what might be in them but the smell alone told her they needed a closer look.

Cautiously, they both crawled under the door and started to take inventory of the drums and boxes.  Almost immediately, Kris saw a white substance leaking from one of the drums stacked in a corner.  Against another wall, another set of drums appeared to be leaking a filthy oily goo.

Kris stretched her sweater to cover her mouth and nose, not willing to take chances.   Moving close to Will, she whispered, "Let's be really quick, get whatever pictures we can and get the heck outta here."

"What do you think they are?" Will asked as he moved forward to capture the images.

"No idea, could be PCBs for all I know without testing equipment," she responded, her lips already moving soundlessly in tandem with the pen that moved against the writing pad held in the crook of her arm.

Will's eyes widened at the thought of what they could be breathing and started snapping faster.

Kris had wanted to bring bottles, tubes or anything to help identify the chemicals but a contact she'd spoken to about hazardous chemicals, when they'd first tried to catch the company, had told her how dangerous that could be without the proper equipment.  She'd taken that warning to heart after researching some of the chemicals and just how toxic they could be.

Noting any numbers or letters on the drums, Kris knew from the hazardous waste stickers, or what was left of them, on some of the drums that several of these materials should've been stored in specially constructed containers, not useless metal drums.  Noting the rusty, oily water that one barrel was standing in, Kris stepped backwards to avoid it and then hopped up to avoid a rubber hose that she hadn't seen.

It wasn't the hose or the water that made her muffle a scream, it was the sensation of something running over her foot and the beady rat eyes that looked hatefully at her before they hid in a dark corner.

Will's head wrenched around painfully, trying to figure out what was attacking the reporter.  He ran over to her, cameras swinging wildly.  "What?  WHAT?!"

A pounding heart did wonders for clearing out any cobwebs, Kris realized.  "A rat.  Just a rat.  Let's get out of here."  Her head shot up as she heard voices from somewhere outside of the building.  "Crap," she whispered.

"Crap just isn't the fricking word.  Shit!  What do we do?" the photographer asked, swallowing a gulp of fear.

Kris pointed towards a group of boxes stacked high and pushed the red haired man in that direction as she followed, keeping one eye on the doors.

Once they were hidden behind some boxes, Kris listened carefully, her heart in her throat.  The voices had stopped outside the building but didn't seem to be getting closer.  She desperately wanted to know what was being said but couldn't hear most of the rumbling and didn't want to push her luck by moving closer.

Thankfully, and quite by accident, they'd found a spot between the wall and boxes that had a couple of broken windows close by and so were getting some fresher air.  That certainly helped the comfort level a great deal but Kris found herself getting antsy anyway.

As she played with the chain that held her ring safely, the blonde passed her time developing various storylines she could use when a certain tall, dark haired detective came to bail her out of jail.  Unfortunately, none of the stories seemed to hold a candle to the disappointment she could see in the blue eyes she adored.  A sigh escaped as she prayed the men would move on, after all ... she had a big date tonight that she did not want to mess up.

It was with sincere thanks to everything Kris could name that, after a couple of minutes, the voices started to get fainter.  The reporter closed her burning eyes in relief.  With a hefty tug she pulled on Will's camera strap and whispered, "We give them a couple of minutes to move away and then we're out of here."

"Got that right." Will agreed quietly.

It was a breathless exit, checking around every corner to make sure nobody was in their way and took, at least, three times as long as their entry into the facility.  Still, eventually, they opened the gate and breathed very deep sighs of relief as they got back onto safer ground.

"When can we see the pictures do you think?" Kris asked, her reporter's instincts working their way back after the scare they'd had.

"Maybe tonight, if I have time?"

"Can't tonight," Kris answered, knowing she had big plans for the evening.  Her stomach had been in knots all day about it, the added stress they'd just been through wasn't helping.  "Call me and let me know, maybe we can meet up tomorrow?"

"Yeah, sure, that'd be fine," the photographer agreed easily.

Beaming a smile, the blonde said, "Another great story, Will.  I can feel it."


The music swirled around the two women as they danced close together.  There was a predominance of same sex couples on the dance floor but some male-female couples were out there as well.  Along with a couple of larger groups, it was packed tightly but with enough room to move at least a little.

Lights flickered over the dance floor and a metal ramp, with a safety rail, hovered in a circle around the dance floor.  People watched and chatted, or tried to, as they leaned and watched the dancers.  A small stage, fit for one dancer, perhaps two if they knew each other well, stood on each side of one wall.  A larger raised stage with steps in the front lined the wall between them.   Not a huge stage but enough for a few people and equipment.

On the other wall, a hole had been cut through for the DJ to see through as they played the records and a very busy bar stood in an opposite corner.  People were milling about but mostly dancing or at least trying to.  Just a few hours long, the evening had been a total success thus far.  Their first outing to a gay club a wonder as they'd been able to freely dance as they had always wanted to, obviously, nobody minding a bit.

Truth be told, all were welcome in the club and some of the team had confessed to enjoying visiting the better gay clubs sometimes simply because they didn't feel like pieces of meat to be pawed at every opportunity at them and had a great time at those clubs.  It didn't matter if you were gay or straight, it was just a fun time.

Even the detective had been forced to admit that this had been a good idea.  Of course, that had been helped by the fact that Sam hadn't had to wear the dress Kris had wanted her to.  After a discussion with several members of the softball team, they'd ended up in more casual clothes.  Kris in a snazzy print dress she'd picked up several months ago but hadn't been able to wear yet and Sam in her favorite black Dockers and, to Kris' delight, ruby red silk shirt that she'd picked up for the tall woman a few weeks before.

Most of the members of their party were dressed in a similar type comfy fashion.  Jen was there, and had been teased about leaving her still new hubby behind, her sister Vicki was also present.  Deb had made her presence known in a very sharp blue outfit and Sam had been pleased to see Kris' former co-worker, Pam, show up as well.  Christine, Steph, Renee and Lyn, team members that Sam really hadn't spent much time with but had found herself surprisingly comfortable with rounded out the group.  Sam was rather amazed to find herself wishing they'd done it sooner.

Kris spoke up from her comfortable spot against Sam's shoulder, "I love this song."  She'd rushed home after her experience with Will and had taken a long, relaxing bath to calm her nerves.  Falling asleep in the deliciously warm water had been a surprise, however.  Luckily, Sam had arrived home not that long after and it had woken her up before the water had gotten too cool.  Once she'd exited the tub, they'd snuggled together for a short while and then had gotten ready.

Sam listened carefully over the noise, nodded a reply and added,  "Me too."  Holding on tight to her lover and swaying easily to the sensuous beat.   Her mouth formed the words to the song and she sang quietly into the blonde's ear, feeling Kris' smile against her shoulder.

I want somebody who will spend some time
Not come and go in a heated rush
I want somebody who will understand
When it comes to love, I want a slow hand

On shadowed ground, with no one around
And a blanket of stars in our eyes
We are drifting free, like two lost leaves
On the crazy wind of the night
Darlin', don't say a word, 'cause I already heard
What your body's sayin' to mine
If I want it all night
You say it's alright
We got the time

A short time later, Kris stretched up and spoke into the ear brought down close to her mouth, "Thank you, I loved that and have really enjoyed tonight.  Now, I need to tell you that I've been practicing something."

"You have?" Sam queried, not having the faintest idea what Kris was talking about.

"Mmmhmmm," Kris mumbled and grinned.  "Be right back."  She said with the briefest touch of her lips against her lover's before she was gone.

Suddenly divested of the wonderful body she'd been holding, the detective watched Kris walk away and just shook her head.  Not having the foggiest notion was what going on but enjoying the view nonetheless.  Until she noticed Maria grinning at her, that is.  A slight blush flushed her cheeks and she moved off to the side of the dance floor, towards the softball player.

Maria decided to be kind to the detective and not tease her mercilessly but the look on the tall woman's face as she watched the blonde walk away had been very telling.  She knew without a shadow of a doubt that the next interesting look she saw would be priceless.  "Heard you're coming back next year?"

Clearing her throat, Sam looked over and replied, "Yep, I'll play as much as I can anyway."

"That's great," Maria replied.  Unfortunately, she tried but couldn't stop the grin that was forming on her face.

In a short period of time, Sam noticed that she was fairly surrounded by just about all of the softball players who had made a night of it.   Even Deb and Pam had come closer and all seemed to be really enjoying themselves.

The detective began to wonder just what was going on and was thinking of taking Jen aside when the DJ interrupted with an announcement that they were going to play some special requests.  Right after that a tune started up, one she liked a lot and she looked again for Kris' blonde head.  Unfortunately, there was no sign and she settled for just tapping her foot to the strong beat.  That is until Maria's smile got even wider and the player's chin pointed to the stage.

Sam turned her head and blinked.  Then blinked again as her mouth fell open and the singer began to sing with a breathy, obviously practiced, smooth voice.

If you think you stand alone
You've got a lot to learn
Because as long as there's one breath left in me
You'll always have someone to turn to

With a stomach that had a million butterflies trying to find a way out, the singer's green eyes lit up shyly as she found the person she had been looking for.

You're looking through that storm
There's a whirlwind in your mind
When you need a little shelter
You can run into these arms of mine

Sam's feet moved her forward beyond her conscious control.  Passing the other people on the dance floor unnoticed, she approached the raised stage until she was standing in front of it, looking up at her lover.

My love is stronger than your pain
Stronger than your fear
Sweet enough to wash the salt from your tears
Deeper than the waves that break against your heart
You can't go on any longer
My love is stronger

As she sang a few more lines, Kris drew strength from the eyes she kept firmly glued on.
 They looked at her with such surprise, pride, devotion and love that she knew without a shadow of a doubt that the time she'd spent practicing this was so very well worth it just to see those eyes right at this moment.

Throughout their friendship, Sam had told her so often that she could sing, despite her own beliefs that she couldn't, and she'd taken a few lessons, not telling anyone.   After promising reviews from her voice coach, she'd beefed them up after Sam sang to her the first time and then had finally planned this night for over a month.  It seemed apparent that her decision had been a very good one.

Like a tiny fragile flower
Is gently nourished by the sun
Your love somehow empowers me
To do things I have never done

The tall detective found her mouth creasing into an impossibly proud smile.  Kris was knocking 'em dead and now that her astonishment was abating, her feelings about this very special display were quite evident.  When the blonde held out a hand to be helped down the stairs at the front of the stage, her own flew up to meet it.

As she cautiously moved down the steps, Kris smiled widely and brought the microphone between them, indicating that Sam should sing with her and knowing that the dark haired woman knew the song very well.

To break through all these chains
All of my doubts and uncertainties
When your weakest hour falls around you
You can find your strength in me

Their voices blended together, to the approval of the crowd, as they moved their bodies closer together.

My love is
My love is
My love is stronger stronger
Now, stronger than your tears

Stronger than your pain
Stronger than your fears

Kris broke out of their melody for one line.

Oh, I'm stronger than your pain

Then both picked it up again.

Sweet enough to wash ...
Stronger than your pain

They ended together in melodious harmony and, as the final notes faded, Sam leaned down, gathered Kris close and kissed her soundly to the roar of the very happy crowd.


"I can't believe you kissed me in front of them all!"  Kris still hadn't completely recovered from the very passionate kiss they had shared in front of the entire club full of people.

"Are you saying you don't want me kissing you?" Sam teased.

Kris chuckled and sent a gentle backhand toward the tall woman's stomach.  "As if."

Jen chuckled as Sam caught the hand and held it firmly.  "I didn't see you trying to stop it, Kris."

The blonde grinned and looked over at her friend.  "I'm not stupid, ya know!"

The group of women chuckled as they walked back in a loose group toward their various cars.  Kris kept Sam close by, or perhaps that was the other way around, and couldn't seem to keep a broad grin off her face for surprising her lover and it all turning out much better than she had ever expected.

Sam was alert, as always, at the back of the pack, still holding Kris' hand.   The street was fairly well lit and a half moon kept peeking out from behind a few clouds that lingered.  Still, it didn't hurt to be cautious.  She kept an eye on the normally tempestuous Steph and quiet Renee as they moved slightly ahead, talking quietly.  An ear was spared, and an occasional silent chuckle, for the perky blonde Lyn as she mercilessly teased Maria for being hit on twice by a male/female couple.   Maria had held her own rather well and therefore had given Lyn quite a bit of material to tease with.

That kept up with Maria beginning to tease back until the normally quiet Christine spoke up and mentioned that not only had she noticed Lyn being pursued by an obnoxious woman, who all but devoured the short woman with her eyes, but had also overheard the conversation where Lyn had mentioned having three kids and an extremely jealous husband, all quite fictitious.

However, the joke was truly on Lyn.  She tried to ignore the joke and preen about how pretty the woman had been, until Deb chimed in with the fact that the woman was actually a transvestite who had just been teasing the blonde at Deb's request.  Lyn had had no idea and tried to protest until Sam nodded in agreement with Deb.  Then they all, including a badly blushing Lyn, laughed uproariously at the joke played on the person who usually got them all.

Throughout it all, Sam kept her eyes moving.  Noting two women approaching, both dressed in jeans, jackets and running shoes.  One with long, darker brown hair and the other with platinum bottle blonde shorter hair.  They kept their gazes on the ground, occasionally flashing a look up.  Something about them twinged a nerve and the detective became very alert.  Before she could move, one of the women stumbled into Steph and then quickly straightened with an apology.  Both of the other women moved away quickly but Sam was already in motion.

Unfortunately, Steph had already realized her purse was open and quite a lot lighter than before.  She let out a scream of anger, which galvanized most of the other women.  Some moved in Steph's direction and some moved towards the two women who were now running away.

Somehow, Lyn managed to tangle up with the platinum blonde and that brought both her, Maria and Christine down in a pile.

With widened eyes, Sam leaped over the pile of limbs, hit the ground running and easily tackled the other woman who was trying to escape.

Knowing she had no chance of clearing the pile of people in front of her, Kris pulled out her cell phone as she watched Sam grab the struggling woman by the arm, swing her into a wall and hold her there, arms behind her back and brown hair wildly crackling around her head.

Instantly, blue eyes looked back to check first Kris and then the rest of the group and then quickly felt for any weapons, not finding any.

As she spoke to the 911 operator, the blonde noticed Sam shake her head and had to hide a chuckle at the sight before her.

Renee and Jen were holding on to an incensed Steph, to keep her from going after the women.

Pam was standing by Sam with a smile on her face; obviously pleased she'd kept up.

Vicki and Deb were standing still in some surprise at what had just happened.

But, the best were Maria, Christine and Lyn who were looking rather disheveled but proud as they sat on the first woman, holding various limbs to the ground.

"Be careful about weapons," Sam instructed the trio, ignoring the stream of obscenity from the woman she held, fairly certain there was no danger but not willing to risk anything.

As Maria and Christine grabbed arms and legs, Lyn set about checking for weapons and found none.  Soon after, her blonde head popped up from her survey and her face was creased in a wide grin.  "This one's definitely a woman!"

A laugh escaped and surprised the tall detective.  It just never failed!

Pressing a button on her cell phone, Kris spoke up, "They're on their way and know you're here, Sam."

Sam simply smiled at her lover for a long moment and shook her head again as her eyes roved the scene, amazed that trouble seemed to have found them yet again.


It had taken several hours but finally they were home. It had taken quite some time to clear up the mess but finally they'd been allowed to leave.  However, since Sam had been kept a little longer to give a full report, the rest of the women stayed too in a gesture that the detective had insisted wasn't necessary but had been completely outvoted on.

Stepping into the bedroom after a long shower, Sam continued to try and dry her long hair with the towel but looked at Kris as she was doing so.  "So ..." She paused, making sure that Kris was listening.  "Any chance we could have a nice quiet weekend after this?"

"Well....," Kris began.  "If you'd quit getting into trouble!"

"Me?!" Sam protested, the towel slipping around her shoulders.

Kris beamed innocently.  "Yes, love.  You.  I've been out with those women a few times with nothing happening, remember?  You come with us and bam!"

"Bam?  Me?  You're the trouble magnet."  Sam removed the towel from her shoulders, gave her hair one last pat down and turned, making a perfect two pointer into the laundry basket.

Smiling fondly, Kris pulled back the covers and climbed into the bed.  "Maybe it's just the both of us.  You did mention the other day that we create a lot of heat around us."

An eyebrow rose high on the detective's forehead.  She turned back around to look at the woman crawling into the large bed.  "If I recall, that wasn't anything to do with the softball team or trouble."

Her nose wrinkling slightly, Kris responded, "Hmm, could be.  Could be."

Sam chuckled and ran a brush through her still damp hair quickly before climbing into bed herself.

"I don't know how you manage to sleep without drying your hair," Kris marveled as she ran a hand over the dark head.

"Just have always done it that way," Sam replied, yawning slightly as she got comfy.

"Mmm," Kris mumbled, waiting for her lover to get settled.

Sam reached over a long arm toward the lamp on the nightstand and turned to Kris.  "Ready?"

"Yep, definitely," the blonde responded as she snuggled her smaller frame into the taller woman's lanky one.

Smiling, Sam switched off the light, brought one hand across her stomach and the other against Kris' back, tracing a soft pattern very slowly.

"Was a good night?" Kris breathed into the skin beneath her.

"A very good night," Sam responded, simply enjoying the moment.

"Even with the problems?"

"Any night spent with you is a good one, Kris," slipped out without any chance of an edit and, surprisingly, no desire to even try.

Melting into yet another puddle of pink goo, Kris sighed deeply, enjoying her lover's momentary descent into mushdom.  "I know the feeling.  I love you so much."

"The feeling is most definitely mutual."  Sam breathed deeply as her lover tightened her hold, catching a whiff of Kris' fruity shampoo.  Her eyes blinked sleepily but she bent her neck and kissed the blonde head on her chest.  "I love you."

Kris simply smiled and then brushed her lips against the silky skin beneath her, settling down comfortably.

Feeling both the smile and lips touch her skin, Sam found herself reveling in the unbelievable warmth and love she felt cocooned in.  It was a gift beyond measure, just like Kris herself was, and one she vowed to never take for granted.  Her last thoughts of the evening were spent on admiration of the form already slumbering on her body.  How it fit so perfectly with her, just like Kris.  How the hints of moonlight filtering in through the slatted windows seemed to blessedly worship the face she adored.

It was with a smile on her face and a sense of peace she'd never really experienced before that Sam followed Kris into the land of slumber.

Unseen, the moonlight danced a pearly benediction with both of them before leaving them to their dreams.


Thank you for reading.  Please let me know if you liked it.

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