Kris massaged the back of her neck with one hand as she went over the last batch of papers she had to sort from the day before's spill on the floor. After Sam's call to let her know there hadn't been a missing person's report filed, Connie had kept her very busy researching a huge case they had picked up and she had only had the chance to go through them at the end of the day. The slight frown that had appeared a little while after she started working on the final pile of papers had deepened as she noticed the same name appearing on several pay off checks and various legal documents.
At first she hadn't been paying attention but the name kept showing up and must have tickled her subconscious. When she had finally recognized what she had been seeing, she felt as if all of the blood in her body had drained from her upper body and a deep chill had set in. Since then, she had gone back over several documents already filed and found more documented incidents. Her eyes had welled up from the shock and she'd rapidly flicked the pooled moisture away with annoyance.
Now, her eyes roamed over the various papers she had lying all over her desk, all with the name "Rudy Larson" written somewhere on them. A quickly placed fact finding call to one of the secretaries had confirmed that this was indeed the same Rudy Larson who had shot up one of the malls a few years back. Unknowingly giving Kris the time to deal with the confirmation of the shock, the secretary had rattled on for a few minutes, not realizing that Kris was intimately familiar with that "shoot up". Kris let her continue and didn't mention her all too real knowledge of the incident and eventually hung up, noticing a slight tremble in her hand.
'Who woulda thunk it?' She thought as her mind tried to wrap itself around the facts she'd just discovered. It was failing miserably. 'The guy who probably would've killed me worked here. What are the odds?' She stared, unseeing, at a spot on the wall to her side, knowingly averting her face from view. She realized that if Pam happened to look her way, her friend would be over in an instant. Kris could feel the shock still coursing through her body and knew she needed to control it. Needed to get her mind on something else.
Yet, something niggled at her. Something she knew she needed to remember but it was dancing just beyond her reach. Restless, perhaps nervous, fingers tapped on the desk in front of her as she struggled to gain control of her rapidly spiraling thoughts. 'He worked here.' She couldn't get that thought out of her mind. Her breathing was up, she could feel her increased heart rate as the fear she had felt that day tried to gain control over her again.
Still, as much as the memory caused the fear, the blue eyes that also appeared in her memory quickly dampened it. As if she had been surrounded by a pool of warm, soothing water she felt the fear start to drain away when she recalled Sam giving her hope and safety that day. It had been the first time Kris had met her personal knight in shining armor. The detective had come barreling in when a gunman had grabbed Kris and the dark haired woman had dealt with the situation in her normal confident fashion.
She closed her eyes in relief as her insides felt and her insides began to stop quaking. 'I should talk to Sam.' Just the thought of talking to the detective, now she smiled slightly to herself, 'What did Jen call her, a warm flannel jacket?', chased the last of the fear away. It left her with the facts and still that niggling feeling that something was there and she wasn't paying enough attention to see it.
Noticing that it was past six, Kris gathered up the papers and the files they came from and packed them into her briefcase. She had never really had the opportunity to use it for much more than fact finding information, ferrying case files to court and bringing lunch before and it surprised her just how much it did hold. Soon after, she left vowing to spend the weekend going over the files. If anyone asked her why she took them home she would explain how they had fallen on the floor and she took them home to sort them out.
Sam blew out a relieved breath as she hung up the phone, she'd remembered to call the department shrink right before quitting time and had been able to get an appointment for the end of the next week due to a cancellation. Since she was sure that Jackson would be a jerk in any way he could, she was glad to have that scheduled. It would be one less thing he could push her on.
"Safe to say that we're done for now or was there anything else?"
Sam looked up from writing the appointment in her calendar. "I think we've done all the damage we can do for this week or, at least, wanna do."
Lee smiled facetiously at her partner. "Cute."
A tiny smile appeared when she remembered Lee going up against Jackson on her behalf at the apartment. It had only been a very short while but, unless she was very far off the mark, she had already decided that she could do much worse for a partner. She was wondering if she should say something when Lee spoke again.
"You know, it's definitely been an interesting partnership so far. I'll see you Monday to find out what's next."
Sam was aware, from Lee herself, that the other woman hadn't had much in the way of 'action' over the last few years and so it had almost certainly been an eye opening experience for her to be dumped in the middle of two major investigations, almost shot and having a 'disagreement' with another officer after only a couple of days on the job. Lee had done well and Sam spoke up, "I'm glad you're here. See you Monday."
Lee's smile of surprise was genuine. "Me too. Night." She grabbed her jacket and left the room, the smile still on her face.
'I guess I did good, eh? You'd be proud of me, Kris.' With that, Sam stood, stretched her neck a little and grabbed her own jacket. After making sure everything was locked up and in its place, she too headed out the door. She was more than ready for some sleep and, hopefully, a quiet weekend.
One bleary, gritty green eye opened, followed soon after by the second. Then both closed at once and opened up again as wide as they could. A groan. Kris turned her head to one side and winced as her neck muscles protested. She winced again as she rolled her head to the other side and felt a few pops along the way. 'God, I am too old for this stuff!'
She had spent the entire night going over the files and had finally fallen asleep sometime after the sun had made its next appearance. What she had learned from the files was not enough to take to anyone yet, but it certainly was enough to keep her interest. Rudy Larson had been a busy boy. Nothing really unusual except for the interesting fact she had discovered and verified only a little while before she finally fell asleep. It seemed that Larson had been personally involved in an unusually high number of cases involving pay offs. From the cursory glance she'd taken thus far at some of the documents, it didn't seem that he was that his skills were that above normal. It wasn't enough to talk to anyone about or even really justify spending that much more time on but she knew she wasn't going to be able to drop it.
A one eyed glance at the window told her it was likely sometime in the afternoon. She wasn't used to staying up all night anymore. She laughed out loud, almost startling herself. 'Just how many times have you stayed up all night, hmm?' Sure, she had done the party thing but it had never been an important facet of her life. There had always been something else to do, something more important or at least more fun.
She stretched her back and grimaced as her back cracked with pops this time. 'God.' It hadn't helped her sleeping habits that Robin had been home with her boyfriend and had been rather loud in her 'enjoyment' of their evening. 'What makes it worse, that she's always got company or that you don't?' She sighed and slapped a hand over her eyes, then rubbed them slowly. It had been a long time. She wasn't the one night stand type of person, never had been. The fact was that there just hadn't been anyone who interested her enough to make the effort to care about them.
'Nobody?' The little green devil prodded as he showed up again. Kris took the opportunity to examine something she hadn't wanted to look at before and had deliberately put off. 'Okay, fine.' She conceded. Yes, Sam definitely interested her and there was no denying how much she cared for her friend. Yes, she loved spending time with her and they just seemed to fit so well together. But Sam was her friend, her very good friend and they had been through a lot together so 'why shouldn't I care about her? There's nothing wrong with that.'
The little devil raised an eyebrow, 'Wrong with what?' The blonde pondered for a few moments and then sighed deeply, then asked herself, 'Nothing wrong with your behavior the other day?' She still didn't understand what that was about. Kris had never acted that way before, nor felt that depth of jealousy and never put herself on show for god's sake. Not for anyone! On top of that, it was quite something how very much better she had felt when Sam had made it obvious to Anne that she just wasn't interested. Of course, Kris was sure that wouldn't deter the fiery redhead.
She shook her head at the feeling she instantly experienced in the pit of her stomach when she thought about Anne not giving up. Her lips compressed at the next prod from the little green guy with horns in her mind. 'And what's that feeling, Kris?' With a deep breath she whispered to herself, "What's going on?"
Further thought on that matter was interrupted by a knock on the door. She propped herself up on her elbows, "Yeah?"
"Can I come in?" Asked Robin's voice through the door.
"Sure." Kris ran a hand through her sleep-mussed hair.
Robin entered the room, her shoulder length brown hair looking windblown, as always. Kris had originally pondered the idea that Robin had some method of causing the tousled effect deliberately. Since then, she had seen the other woman get ready in the morning and knew that it just seemed to happen sometime after she got herself together. It was quite becoming on her, so it certainly wasn't a problem. Just one of the strange things in life that Kris liked to think about sometimes.
Robin looked her and the bed over. A frown appeared, "You feeling all right?"
Kris puzzled about that for a moment, why wouldn't she be all right? Then she realized she wasn't normally in bed this late. Add that to the fact that there were files spilled on the floor and scattered on the bed and you had a good guess that something wasn't right. "Yeah, I'm fine. Just have a project at work that is driving me nuts."
"I guess," Robin said with a bit of a smile. Then she blew out her cheeks and let loose a gust of air. She had felt badly about doing what she had done to Kris. The blonde was a really great roomie to have, paid her rent on time, didn't complain and didn't mind whoever or whatever Robin brought back for the night. She didn't want to annoy Kris so much that she would look elsewhere, so she had decided an apology was in order. "Look, I'm sorry about the other day. I'd had a fight with James and nothing was working real well."
The blonde head nodded and Kris wondered if she should say what was really on her mind. She sucked in her bottom lip and then sat up, "I understand but please don't assume I'll do stuff, okay? I have a bunch on my plate and don't even know myself what's going on until it happens. I'll let you know when and if I'm ready."
Robin nodded in agreement. "Okay, well I'm heading out. Talk to you later." She then turned to leave.
A wicked gleam appeared in Kris' eyes. "I'm guessing that you and James made up."
Robin swiveled back around, "Yeah, we did. How did you..." Eyebrows rose as she realized how Kris knew they had made up. "Ah...um, loud huh?"
Kris tried to not grin widely but a smirk appeared anyway.
Robin blushed slightly. It wasn't something she had really thought about before and certainly nothing that Kris had ever mentioned before, even though it surely must have happened before. "Sorry about that."
"Glad you made up." Kris responded with a smile.
"Yeah, me too." She took a breath, smiled slightly and then looked up at Kris, "I'll talk to you later. Good luck on the project."
"Hi. Five thirty still okay?"
"Hey, yeah. That's fine, I'll be waiting out front?"
"Okay, sounds good. I'll see you then."
Sam hung up the phone and turned around to the sight of yellow eyes facing her. Her own eyes widened. "Son of a...!"
The cat just looked at her, then sat on his rear and started to clean very important parts with seeming indifference.
"Thank you for that lovely view. Now just how the hell did you get in here?" A quick look over at the garage door told the story, it was cracked slightly open.
"Okay, I know I locked that door." Sam became intent on the door, she was positive it had been locked. She looked around apprehensively, finding nothing out of place and nothing seemed to be setting off any warning senses. She placed great faith in those senses, they had saved her life many times. Another glance at the apparently completely unconcerned cat, who was still attending to his nether regions, made the decision on what to do.
She headed to the door, keeping very alert. The doorknob was still locked and she frowned, then flipped on the light as she walked in to the garage. A quick check verified that the outside door was still locked also. She looked down at the cat door she had installed, with quite a few swear words, a couple of weekends before. She had gone on a home improvement binge as she tried to get her mind off Kris and the conflicting emotions with hard work.
An awful lot had gotten done physically wise, including the automatic garage door opener, but nothing on the emotional side. And that was just fine with her, she had been wanting to take her mind off it all and a few errant hammer swings, splinters and dropped items had definitely taken care of that. Normally sure handed and supremely confident, it had been rather embarrassing but she had gotten through it without any lasting damage.
Nonplussed, the dark haired woman looked around the garage. She noticed a torn rag by the side of the steps and stooped to pick it up. It was likely one of the many rags she had used over the work weekends for cleaning various things. A thought occurred and she closed the door with the piece of cloth jammed in the frame, making sure to unlock the door first. After a few attempts, she was able to make it appear as if the door was closed correctly but a pull on the cloth opened the door quite easily.
As the door swung open, she noticed her feline visitor watching her curiously. She addressed it, "You are far too smart for your own good and definitely for mine." She carefully locked the doorknob and threw the rag on one of the shelves by the door. Leaving the door open, she stepped inside the house and moved to the other side of the room from the cat.
"Okay, I have to go and pick up your mom soon. I need you to go back outside." She looked at the cat and hoped she wouldn't have to chase him out. He returned the gaze calmly but didn't move.
"Come on, you demon in a cat's body, I gotta go."
"Listen, I have way too many things to do to be sitting here talking to you. Now get outside or I'll..." The woman searched for something strong enough to say and then chuckled to herself at the insane thought that the cat might understand anyway. "Okay, your mom is counting on me to pick her up. You need to go outside." She pointed at the garage doorway.
Yet another blink or two was sent her way.
Almost hating herself for being so silly, she added "Please?" and was rewarded by the cat walking by her, in no hurry whatsoever, flicking his tail back and forth with each step. She watched with a touch of awe in her eyes and then laughed at herself, "Naaa."
Shaking her head, she pulled the door closed in a rush and immediately whipped her head to the side when she caught a flicker of movement in the corner of her eye. With quite a bit of chagrin, she looked down and noticed the end of the cloth rag sticking out between the door and the frame. A little bit of testing proved that when the door was closed with any force, rags or anything light placed on the shelves closest to the door was liable to be drawn off the shelf towards the door.
Catching a glimpse of yellow eyes looking at her from the blanket, one that she told herself she was going to throw out anyway, she had placed on some boxes in a part of the garage she rarely used she shook her head. "An opportunistic, smart demon in a cat's body. That's what you are. Well you won't be getting in this way any more!"
After she had closed the door, the yellow eyes flashed in her memory and she had to wonder how the cat would find his way into the house next. The knowledge that the cat would find a way in was quite annoying, "Damned thing," she muttered on her way out the door to pick up Kris.
Kris leaned back in the chair, put a hand over her stomach and blew out a deep breath. "Wow, that was awesome, Mrs Kelly." She was sitting with Mrs Kelly in a comfortable chair on the patio. Mrs Kelly had been shooed out of the kitchen by the rest of the dinner goers but had insisted that Kris come with her outside to enjoy the warm evening.
The older woman's gaze fell on the woman to her right and her face creased in a huge smile, compliments on her cooking were always welcome. She reached over from her own comfortable chair and patted Kris' hand as she said, "Thank ya. I'm so glad ya made it."
"Believe me, it's been a definite pleasure. Thank you so much for having me."
"I'm sorry it took so long but at least you're here now."
"That I am." She looked over to the side, towards the light angling out of the kitchen window and could see Sarah laughing at something as she apparently washed dishes. Then a smiling Patrick came into view, his eyes focused on something Kris couldn't see. "Are you sure I can't help them clean up?"
"No no, I haven't seen you in a long time and you're a guest. Count it as getting the first visit free but I expect to see more of you."
"So, I'm not a guest after the first visit?" The small woman teased.
Twinkling brown eyes turned on the blonde in the other chair. "If ya like. Plus, I want the company and I know what lovely company ya are." Kris blushed a little and the Kelly matriarch smiled. "It looks like you've been taking care of yourself and our Sam."
Kris snorted and looked back at the window, only seeing Sarah again. "I've been great but Sam takes care of herself without any help from anyone else."
"Ya don't believe that surely?" Mrs Kelly looked over her shoulder, following Kris' glance. From her slightly better angle to look into the house through the window she could see Sarah and Sam both laughing at Patrick who had his back to her and was doing something she couldn't see.
Serious green eyes looked over to the older woman. "She prides herself on being able to handle anything."
Mrs Kelly responded quietly, "She takes care of herself and those she cares about, yes." Then she continued, "But she needs, Kris. She hides it very well but she needs desperately. Don't ever forget that."
The two women looked at each other for a few moments until Kris blinked and her eyes began to fall away from Mrs Kelly's face as her mind ran this information and the truth of the older woman's gaze through its cells. The blonde leaned back in her chair, brought her eyes back to meet Mrs Kelly's briefly and smiled softly, "I won't."
They were interrupted as it seemed the current occupants of the house had decided to spill out. For all the world appearing to be precious marbles spreading in every direction after the can they were in has been knocked over. Sam appeared before them with a smile, holding out soft drinks to both of the other women. "Having fun out here?"
Mrs Kelly nodded amiably and Kris responded affirmatively as they took the drinks. Before they could speak Patrick approached from behind Sam with a smile of his own.
He tapped the tall woman on the shoulder and she turned to look. "Hey, come see the bird house I finally finished?" He asked.
With a smile at the two seated women, Sam turned and allowed herself to be led away.
Kris watched them go but turned away when Patrick's arm went around Sam's waist in what appeared to be an effort to steer the tall woman around. She looked back at Mrs Kelly, whose gaze met hers kindly. It was almost a relief when the brown eyes turned to the pair walking off.
The older woman watched the pair as they examined the birdhouse it had taken Pat over three years to build. It had been a family joke for some time until Patrick had finally presented it to his mother for the last mother's day with a huge grin. As Mrs Kelly watched, Sam slipped away from Patrick's arm and moved a comfortable distance away to examine the structure from the other side. When Patrick stepped close again, Sam turned to face him. When he stooped over to explain something about the bird house, Mrs Kelly saw Sam's eyes stray over his bent back to the smiling blonde intently watching Sarah's children at play.
Mrs Kelly thought back to dinner and how Sam had made sure that Kris was comfortable and had made sure that Patrick was steered away from any conversation regarding police work. 'No doubt she had been afraid he'd bring up the thing by the river.' Mrs Kelly thought, referring to a night when a friend of Kris' had been in danger and Sam had saved her. With her eyes now on Kris' profile it wasn't a surprise to note that Kris' gaze wandered back to Sam frequently. Moira Kelly had seen a lot in her day and the connection between the small blonde sitting by her and Sam was unmistakable.
She thought back to the hospital and the many hours she had spent with Kris and Sam. It had been a terrible time. Once the initial shock and paralyzing grief of the first few weeks after losing her son had passed, she had been able to see a bit more. A bit clearer. She hadn't wanted to. It meant that he was truly gone, he wasn't going to come walking in the house asking when dinner was or making plans for the next family party. It had been so very difficult on them all. The knowledge that Sam had lost Steve's child due to her injuries was almost too much to bear. Having to break that news to the unknowing Sam was something she still wasn't aware how she got through. 'Yes, a terrible time indeed.'
But through it all there had been Kris. The petite woman would instinctively know when Sam needed something, she had known when to be there and when to step back. As angry and upset as Sam had been, it was usually only the blonde who could quietly persuade her to take her pills or submit to the various indignities that the injured must face. For Moira, Kris would be there with a hug, a smile or a pat on the back when needed. A babysitter and friend when Sarah came by and a smiling face to anyone from the station.
The deep murmurs of her son brought her attention back to the couple by the birdhouse. She guessed he was telling Sam a joke as she smiled and laughed slightly, all the while shaking her head. It was impossible to not recognize what a handsome couple they made. Patrick had certainly made no bones about the fact that he was interested in Sam but, as far as Mrs Kelly knew, she had never given any indication that the feelings were reciprocated.
Initially, she had not been sure that the relationship between her son, Steve, and the dark haired detective was good for either of them because they were too much alike in too many ways. Still, they had persevered and Mrs Kelly had come to love the taciturn Sam almost as one of her own.
Her eyes slid back to the back to the blonde who was now throwing a ball back and forth with Matthew, Sarah's son. She watched them play for a minute and smiled at Sarah as she came out to chat with Kris. They had become friends at the hospital and it was nice to see them catching up. As Sarah and Kris chatted, Mrs Kelly's gaze wandered back to the well-lit garden and she watched as Patrick led Sam to some other item of interest in the yard. Her attention shifted sharply as she heard her daughter speak.
"Poor Pat, he has such a thing for her." Sarah said quietly, watching the pair walk around the garden.
Kris, her thoughts confirmed, looked at the couple and then quickly away. The glance was enough, this time his hand was firmly centered in the small of Sam's back. She felt a burning in her stomach but, with a quirk of her brow, her attention focused back to Sarah and she managed to ask, "Why 'Poor Pat'?"
Sarah smiled sadly as her eyes traveled to the couple moving around the garden. "It'll never be Pat. It's easy to see that there's nothing there for Sam with him. But maybe you can help me with who it is?"
"Me?" Kris asked as she wondered how it was easy for Sarah to see there was nothing there. She hadn't missed how Patrick and Sam were in close proximity for almost the entire time since they had arrived.
"Sure, I bet she confides in you. So, tell me, who's put the spark back in those gorgeous baby blues?"
"I don't know. She hasn't told me she's seeing anyone."
Sarah looked at Kris intently, "Really?"
"Really." Kris nodded her head firmly even as her heart raced.
"Hmm." Sarah pondered before quickly heading over to avert another potential disaster with Meghan, her daughter.
Moira watched fondly as her daughter tried to explain why she shouldn't be doing something to her own daughter. 'Paybacks!' She smiled to herself. Sarah had been an incredibly inquisitive child, a trait Meghan had apparently picked up. Then the older woman became thoughtful again, Sarah had also always been very good about gauging Sam's moods and methods. So it was not a huge surprise that Sarah had also picked up on the changes in Sam. Patrick had too but he hadn't realized what they meant.
When Sam had regained her health and gone back to work, Mrs Kelly had made sure that she questioned Patrick about her often. It was not difficult for Patrick to keep tabs on her, he had friends in her department and they knew of his family's attachment to the tall woman. Pat had also told her how Sam had acted with Kris and the friend they had saved.
A quiet sigh escaped as she went back to watching the pair wandering around the garden. Unfortunately, she was in complete agreement with Sarah's assessment of Patrick's chances with Sam. As much as she would love to see her other son settled with the tall woman who had become a part of their family, pigs would fly before that would happen. There was no spark between them, nothing but friendship, as much as Patrick would like to believe otherwise. Still, there was definitely a spark of something in Sam's eyes and a subtle but noticeable improvement in her demeanor. It certainly wasn't from Patrick's attentions. 'But I think I can guess where some of that improvement came from,' she thought as her eyes slid over to Kris.
Her mind wandered. She certainly did not agree with everything the Catholic Church had taught her. A slight snort escaped her, 'and twenty children I'd have had if it had been up to them. As much as I love them, four had been enough, thank ya very much!' She had had many conversations with the nuns and priests growing up, there were things she just didn't understand. Couldn't understand, about what they taught. She was quite sure she must have driven the nuns crazy. However, her faith was vital to her and there wasn't a cell in her body that didn't believe it was completely intact and strong. But right now, she wasn't sure at all about the consequences of what her eyes and heart were telling her. She wasn't sure if she could be right, even though she knew she was.
'How angry would Father Flannigan be with me if he knew my thoughts, hmm? The facts were that Moira Kelly knew love, knew the depth of what she felt for her husband and her children. Her children. She would love them regardless of their jobs, choice of partners and any other conceivable choices they could make. Wouldn't she? They were her flesh, her blood. How could she not. There was no question. She thought about that for a few moments and solidified the fact that she would love her children, regardless of the choices they would make.
Then there was her husband. Patrick Senior had been a bit of a ruffian when he was younger and her family had been dead set against their marriage. It had taken many tears and a few years to bring them around. This and her innate sense of caring led her to believe that love should be celebrated wherever it was found. 'How far are ya going to take that, Moira, my gal?'
A bolt of realization hit and her eyes widened slightly. She had known something back when Sam had been in the hospital. No, she had felt it back then but hadn't realized what it was. It wasn't that Sam or Kris had said or done anything, it had simply been there. An almost palpable connection between the two. It was even more of a surprise to realize that she knew the feeling intimately, she felt the same with Patrick Senior. She had from the moment she had met him. 'What an arrogant son of a gun he was,' she thought fondly and smiled softly, remembering how annoyed she had been at him the first time they had met.
He had pushed his way through a crowd at the dance, the most handsome boy in attendance, and stood waiting for her to drool and fawn over him as the rest of the girls were. She had refused to do that, of course, even though her insides turned to mush every time he looked at her. He had danced with several other girls instead but his eyes constantly strayed back to her. She could still remember the look on his face when another boy asked her to dance and she had, dancing as close as she could without having the nuns glare at her. It had not been long before Patrick Senior had decided this was not how things were going to be and had her in his arms. She had never left.
Her reverie was interrupted as Sam and Patrick turned back toward them, Kris glanced up at them at the same time. The twin smiles that grew as the women's eyes met finalized the decision for her, truth was necessary on several fronts. She paused for a moment as if settling something within herself and then turned to Kris, watching her carefully. "Sarah's right. As much as I'd like it to be, it could never be my Patrick."
Kris returned her gaze to the children, not sure what to say. After a minute of silence she said quietly, "You never know, things may change."
"Hmm." Mrs Kelly murmured. She shifted slightly to watch the couple in the garden again, feeling very much like a spectator at a tennis match. She couldn't help thinking the match she was about to play was infinitely more important than Wimbledon and only hoped she was up to the challenge. 'No time like the present,' she told herself. "I remember my Steve telling me about her after he and Sam first partnered up. It sure didn't take him long to fall for her. How I worried about him falling for his partner. I tried to remind him how dangerous it was normally in his job never mind falling for the person you have to work with. He was adamant, wasn't going to listen to me. Told me that he wasn't sure if anyone could ever really tame her heart but he was going to try so hard as soon as she would let him." They both laughed at that. Mrs Kelly continued, "A smart boy, my Steve."
"And persistent, it sounds like. He did catch her after all."
Moira leaned back in her chair. "Truth be told, I think she let herself be caught."
Dark blonde eyebrows shot up, "Sam?"
A tiny chuckle. "Yes, Sam."
Kris felt more than strange having this discussion with Mrs Kelly but the older woman had initiated it. It wasn't the type of conversation that lent itself to an easy withdrawal but parts of it were touching on things she was not really willing to get into. Still, she felt the need to contribute. "Then she must have wanted it."
"Yes." A tiny pause. "I think she always knows what she wants."
There was another pause of a few seconds as Mrs Kelly let that drop. Kris frowned, wondering if she wasn't missing something. "She loved Steve," she added loyally.
"Oh, yes. There's no doubt in my mind that she did indeed love my son. I'm very thankful that he knew that love before he left us."
A curious Kris looked over at Mrs Kelly, hearing unspoken words and unable to resist the draw of whatever they were. She waited patiently and was rewarded.
"But I don't believe he ever tamed her heart. Before he met me, my husband was the same way. A wanderer, he lived and loved hard but nobody captured his heart. Until me. Thank the lord I did. I don't know what I would have done without him in my life." Mrs Kelly took a deep breath. Her memories became alive in her mind, she could feel that first shock when their eyes met and the intense magnetism they had both felt. "I've always known he was the only one who could hold my heart and I was the only one to hold his. It's a precious gift." Eyes that held the wisdom of the earth focused on Kris. "It's the same with Sam."
Kris' mouth became unaccountably dry, Mrs Kelly's gaze seemed to burrow deep inside. Her heart began to pound but she couldn't break free from the lock the other woman had on her. Then the older woman spoke again.
"Her gift will only ever truly belong to one person. Only one person is strong enough to carry that burden."
Surprised, Kris asked, "Burden?"
"Special people, like my Patrick and Sam, don't make it easy. They're hard to break through to and even more difficult to make them believe." Dark brown eyes misted over. "I'll never forget a day a very long time ago. I was with my Gran and she took hold of my hand, looked me in the eye and told me that one day I would meet someone who would need me to find their way. That only I could do it, nobody else, and that the gift I had to give to that person was precious. That the gift they would give to me was something I should hold onto forever. Sam needs that kind of person too."
Kris was sure Mrs Kelly could hear the pounding of her heart. She gripped the arms of the chair, not sure she fully understood what was going on. She had had many different conversations with Mrs Kelly when they had been looking after Sam but this was very far off the track of anything they had discussed. "Then...then hopefully she'll find that person soon."
Brown eyes burrowed deeper, "Ya know, I was lost to Patrick Senior the moment I saw him and him to me too. Although, he was a bit of a hard head and didn't think he was good enough for me at first. Neither did my family. Still, I didn't give up and Kevin, Patrick, Sarah and Steven were the results. Plus a lifetime of love. He's thanked me for it many times since and admitted the he knew it too but didn't want to recognize that his time of being a ruffian was over." The older woman laughed a little at this.
"You have a wonderful family."
"Yes, I do. Kevin just had his third child, Sarah's got the two and I'm sure Patrick will find his own way soon too. I wish my Steve were still here but I'm glad for the time we had him with us," she ended quietly.
Kris marveled at the older woman, all the while her brain was digesting and sorting through everything the other woman had said and was, Kris was sure, trying to say. The blonde smiled slightly, "You're amazing, Mrs Kelly."
Mrs Kelly's face creased into a smile, "No, I'm just a very lucky woman."
"I hope Mr. Kelly knows how lucky he is too." She squirmed slightly when the brown eyes captured her sea green again.
"He knows that our family began with him. That's how most families begin. Just two people in love."
Sam stole another glance at Kris, now quite concerned over how quiet her friend had been on their way back to her apartment. She was so used to Kris filling the emptiness with her voice that she couldn't stand it anymore. "You okay?"
It took a few moments but Kris finally realized that she was being asked a question. She looked over apologetically, "Sorry?"
Frowning, Sam asked, "Kris, what's going on? Did someone say or do something to you at the Kelly's?" 'If Pat bugged her about that club thing I'll kill him.'
"What? No, they were great. I had a very good time." Kris had no intention of letting Sam in on what she was thinking. Her mind had been whirling since she had left the Kelly's. She really had no desire to discuss what she was sure Mrs Kelly had been telling her, she was not sure she believed it herself. Was not sure if she could believe it.
"Really?" Sam asked, obviously disbelieving her friend's statement.
"Yes, really." Kris searched around for something else to distract her friend away from Mrs Kelly's discussion.
However, the detective was not easily discouraged. Her friend was obviously bothered by something and that was not an acceptable situation. "You spoke with Mrs Kelly for a long time."
Without thinking, Kris responded, "And you talked to Patrick for a long time."
Sam shot a look of surprise at Kris. "Actually, it was more Patrick talking to me for a long time."
"He likes you." It slipped out but Sam's statement had made Kris think again about the couple walking around the garden. She was remembering that Sam had been the one making the distance whenever she had caught one of them moving away. Perhaps Sarah and Mrs Kelly were right.
Figuring she was already in trouble, Kris continued, "Do you like him?"
Sam pulled up to a stoplight and took a long look at Kris, surprised to be having this discussion. Then she returned her eyes to front and center and answered. "Pat tries hard and he's a nice guy but...." She shrugged her shoulders, "He's more like a brother to me than anything else and always will be."
Kris persisted. "But he wants more."
Sam thought about that. "Yes, he does but it's not gonna happen."
There was a minute of intense thoughts but verbal silence until Sam finally asked, "Did Pat say something to you that upset you?"
"No." Kris let out a deep breath and decided that diverting her friend with a different source of concern might be better. "Look, it's something at work that's bothering me, that's the problem. Remember, I told you about how I thought something was weird at work?" Without waiting for any signal from Sam, automatically knowing that she would remember and also very happy to have another topic to blame for her preoccupation, she continued. "Did you know that Rudy Larson, the guy in the mall with the gun, used to work in the same office that I do?"
This time Sam sent a startled, wide-eyed look at Kris. "What?"
"Yeah. He did, I checked and it's him. How weird is that?"
"Quite a coincidence."
"Yep. I'm going to do some more checking tomorrow but I have a feeling about this. Something isn't right."
"Wait a minute," Sam said firmly. "Don't be putting yourself in some danger here. Turn it over to the appropriate people. Better yet, give it to me and I'll make sure it's investigated."
"No, Sam. I don't have enough yet. Actually, I don't have anything yet but a feeling."
Now Sam was concerned. "Kris, I know you. Your instincts are usually spot on, do not take chances. Promise me that."
Kris was a little surprised by the vehemence in Sam's voice and the very worried look on her face. "I...I promise. I'll do a little more looking to see if I'm just blowing smoke and, if not, I'll make sure I pass it on. Okay?"
That was not enough for Sam, she did not want Kris even remotely close to anything that could be dangerous. Still, there was a good chance it was just a weird coincidence and Kris had promised. 'You don't run her life, deal with it.' Approaching Kris' apartment, she realized she was out of time to argue. 'When was the last one you won with her anyway?' Braking softly, she came to a stop and turned to Kris one last time before nodding. "Okay." She paused for a few moments wanting to say something else but not sure how. "Kris, it's not that I doubt any of your abilities. I just...."
"Worry about me?" Kris smiled as a slight flush started in her friend's cheeks. As much as she enjoyed that flush, she didn't want Sam to be uncomfortable. "It's kinda nice to have you worry about me. You're very sweet."
Eyebrows lifted high up Sam's forehead. "Me? Sweet?"
Before either of them realized it, Kris' hand was along side Sam's face. Touching it tenderly.
"Yes, you." Kris smiled and just as quickly removed her hand, instantly missing the feel of the warm, smooth skin.
"I'll uh talk to you tomorrow?" Sam asked, keeping her eyes firmly set on the green in the other seat. Still a little stunned from the tiny lightning strikes that had erupted on her cheek.
"Of course. I better go. Thanks for taking me."
"I'm uh glad you could go." The dark haired woman formed a smile. "Sleep well."
A quick look back as she opened the door saw Sam pulling away, as she had known would be the case. The detective always waited until Kris was in the apartment. A simple thing but yet another thing that endeared her to the small blonde. A few more steps and Kris was inside and the door was closed, she leaned back against it. She looked at the palm of her hand, imagining the feel of the skin it had just been touching. The fingers curled in slowly and tightly as if trying to capture the feeling forever. Her mind's eye held Mrs Kelly in it. The older woman was leaning forward intently, her eyes locked on Kris' and she was saying, "Her gift will only ever truly belong to one person. Only one person is strong enough to carry that weight."
Kris thought herself to be a fairly intelligent individual; prone to flights of fancy, yes, and inordinately fond of a certain tall, dark and quite gorgeous detective, yes. But what did that mean exactly? What was the purpose of the whole conversation that Mrs Kelly had with her if it had not been to make her see something? How could that be when Mrs Kelly knew Patrick wanted Sam? How could it be?
"Ya know, I was lost to Patrick Senior the moment I saw him and him to me too." Mrs Kelly's voice swam into her mind again as her memories pulled up an image of Sam's blue eyes meeting hers over the heads of running people and screams. It was easy to remember how she had fallen into those eyes, seeking and finding the safety she needed in a terrible situation.
She thought about all of that for a minute. 'Could it be me?' Kris allowed herself the very real thought for the first time ever. 'Was that really what Mrs Kelly was trying to tell me or am I wishful thinking?'
Her eyes widened at that last thought and she pushed away from the door to walk towards her bedroom. 'Oh god. Wishful thinking, Kris? Is that what you're doing?' Mechanically, she opened the bedroom door, closed it and sat on her bed.
A slow blink, followed by another. 'What do I want?'
Tears pooled in her eyes as she thought.
A deep breath.
A whisper. "I want it to be me."
A single tear fell as she closed her eyes, followed by another.
Another whisper. "Dear lord, I want it to be me."
She held her bottom lip between her teeth, trying to gain any sort of control on her emotions. Watery green eyes opened. 'What now?' Her eyes wandered her room unseeing, memories of the nice dinner died a thousand lonely deaths. 'What do I do now?'
Kris listened to herself breathe for a few minutes. Finally, she roped her raging thoughts into some order. 'Think, Kris. Get a grip. What are the facts?'
The picture of a courtroom appeared in her mind, a judge coalesced and she started when she realized he had tiny little horns on his forehead. 'Where are you going with this, Kris?' She quickly realized that the judge was a larger, robe clad version of her little green devil and had to wonder if she wasn't going off the deep end. Her imagination persisted, it became apparent that Kris was a hostile witness, willing only to provide basic answers to the only other person in the room, the judge.
The judge looked down at her from his seat, his horns making an interesting shadow that she could barely see on the desk in front of him. 'You must answer truthfully.' Settling his robes about him, he continued,'Do you want to be the one?'
No hesitation. 'Yes.'
'Do you love her?'
A deep breath. 'Wow, right into the hard stuff, eh?' Sam appeared in her memory as if she were standing in the room. Kris could feel her heartbeat increase, her blood begin to move quicker and her face blush.
'Answer the question.'
She looked up to the judge and said quietly, 'Yes.'
'Speak louder for the court. Do you love her?'
"Yes." She said, not realizing she had said it out loud.
'As a friend?' The judge pushed.
'And so much more.'
The judge leaned forward slightly, his face unreadable. 'How long have you known?'
A few moments' pause. 'Forever.' Kris' mind started to run wild. 'How can this be? I'm not...I don't....'
The judge spoke up again. 'You're not here to ask questions, only answer them. Silence.'
Kris frowned, this guy had to go. She dissolved the courtroom in her mind but the last comment tumbled around her mind like debris caught in a tornado. She finished it. 'I've never thought about women that way.'
The smirking devil poked his head up without the robes this time. 'Sam is a woman.'
'God, I'm nuts.'
The devil poked at her again. 'Probably, but don't change the subject.'
She presented the facts to herself. She loved Sam and had for a long time, she was in love with a woman. What did that make her and did it matter if there was a label she could place on herself or was it more important that she just simply accepted the fact that she loved Sam deeply. 'It doesn't matter, this is all a moot point.' Her gut twisted in pain at the thought that Sam might not have any feelings for her beyond friendship. The detective had never shown anything else, ever. In fact, Sam had outright ignored Anne's efforts and went out of her way to make sure people stayed out of her personal space.
Kris had no idea what she was going to do. None. She had to face the fact that Sam likely didn't feel that way about her. In fact, she almost certainly didn't have those types of feelings for Kris. 'Wait, what about Micki? She and her partner are really good friends of Sam's. Could that mean...'
The blonde leaned over and put her face in her hands. "God, I'm talking myself into believing this. What a joke I am." Her hands began to move slowly down her face. Anguished, Kris could not stop the flow of tears. 'You're wrong, Mrs Kelly, it's not me. It can't be.' She crawled up on the bed and curled into a ball, still unable to stop the tears. 'What am I gonna do?'
The rain had started to fall on the way to the restaurant. 'How it all looks so different in the rain. Watercolors and stained glass.' The blonde smiled to herself, her mind seemed to never stop thinking. That reminded her about what a rough day it had been. She had woken up in the middle of the night, still in the fetal position she had fallen asleep in. Her eyes were still swollen and gritty from the tears that she couldn't stop as she fell asleep. She laid there for some time, trying to understand and trying to figure out what to do.
It had taken her a few hours, but she had come to realize that it was just going to take time and there was not anything she could do to speed things up. She had to know what Sam felt but could not take the chance of anything tipping the detective off. Her friendship was too important. In the meantime, she would deal with the feelings she had and keep them in check until things sorted themselves out. What else could she do? After examining the past few years again, she came to the same conclusion that had irrevocably changed her life, she was in love with Sam. More tears had come about when she realized how futile it all was.
Finally, she had fallen back to sleep an hour or so before her alarm went off. She had almost called in sick to work but changed her mind at the last minute. At least work would give her something else to think about and she would have the chance to do some more investigating into Rudy Larson's files. Something else to focus on had definitely been a good idea. The day had crept by somehow, helped immeasurably by the fact that Kris had found some irregularities in the information she had found. Specifically, checks being issued against trust accounts where no check should have been issued. In other words, interest and perhaps the trust account money itself from accounts they had for clients appeared to been used fraudulently.
The interesting thing was that the only reason she had found the connection was that the missing attorney's name, Hughes, had shown up a couple of times. After she had found that, she had conned Marcy into giving her a couple of Hughes' files. It had taken some time, most cases appeared to have been handled completely above board. Yet, finally, things had begun to point themselves out to her. She had kept up with the checking whenever she had a minute at her desk, telling anyone who asked that she was doing research for Connie.
Toward the end of the day, she finally felt as if she was on to something. Something that perhaps Sam could help her with. Of course, even the thought of Sam caused her stomach to clench. She wanted to start her surreptitious investigation of Sam's feelings for her but had not been able to drum up the courage. This excuse would enable her to begin. Luckily, due to her nervousness, she had not spoken to Sam when she called but had left a message instead. In return, Kris had been in with Connie when Sam had returned the call, confirming that she would meet Kris and at what time. Kris had felt a sense of relief and trepidation at the thought of the dinner. She had promised herself that she would make it through the dinner and the rest of her life's problems would take as much time to solve as she needed.
The restaurant had been Kris' choice, one that her mother had raved about for months. A bit pricey but Kris was determined to have good food and good company first and see if she could both manage to get through dinner with her friend and if Sam could help with the information she had discovered.
They'd chatted about various things for a few minutes as they waited to be seated, Kris had told Sam she preferred to wait until they were seated to talk about the problem so they kept to easy topics. Kris had been quite proud of herself by how she was dealing with things. There had been talk about the Kelly dinner, of course, and how much Kris had enjoyed it. The blonde tried to keep her mind off her discussion with Mrs Kelly, instead focusing on the dinner itself and Sarah's kids.
Finally, once the food had been eaten, Sam asked, "So, what's the puzzle I can help you with?" She had noticed that something major was still bothering her friend. The green eyes she had begun to realize that she found herself looking for wherever she went were slightly dulled and her friend was still on the quiet side. Patience was not a virtue she normally possessed, but she was going to try her best for her friend and not push.
Kris looked up from looking for her purse, "You don't mind me talking this over with you, right?"
"Of course not! I told you to."
The blonde fumbled around in her large purse. "Dammit, I need to get something smaller than a suitcase so that I can find stuff."
Sam chuckled and waited, Kris' ability, or lack thereof, to find things in her purse was almost legendary.
After another few moments of searching, Kris gave up. "Let me check the car, it's got to be in there." She took the keys and left her leather patchwork purse on the chair.
"Okay, I'll wait on dessert for you."
Kris grinned, "Just be a sec."
Sam forced herself to try and relax by studying the building. 'Interesting' was the best word she could come up with. When they'd been waiting for their table, she had decided that if the decor influenced the food it would certainly be eclectic. Mauve, blue and green seemed to be very popular and what looked suspiciously like metal tubes hung in profusion from the roof. They were also painted with the same colors. Of course, the table was also in those colors. They varied the shade and the amount of each color in each item but still.
To her surprise, however, the food was excellent and they'd both spent a very nice dinner catching up since they had not really had time the night before. Sam couldn't help the smile that touched her lips as she thought of the subjects they'd covered. So many and 'So Kris'. She chuckled. Kris had insisted on waiting under they were done with dinner to talk about the problem that was obviously bothering her. The detective could only hope that this would help her understand what was bothering Kris and allow her to help.
Her mind shifted to another problem, specifically, the murders that seemed to have everyone stumped. Another body had shown up this afternoon, Lee had been forced to check it out herself due to a deposition Sam had to attend. They had not been able to hook up afterwards, beyond a quick phone call where Lee confirmed it was almost certainly the same murderer and they didn't yet have a name, but they were to attend the autopsy in the morning. Her mind wandered as she thought about that for a while, trying to pull the facts together.
Kris pulled out her keys and muttered to herself as she headed in the direction of her car. The parking lot had been full and she'd been forced to park some distance away. Her mind was going over the details she wanted to present to Sam and also feeling relief in being able to talk with her about it. Pressing the alarm button on her keying, she deactivated that alarm and opened the door to look in the back seat. After a few seconds of searching, she stood up and turned to go to the trunk only to walk right into the black barrel of a gun.
'Hope people don't get drunk here too often.' Same chuckled to herself as she continued to study the color scheme of the restaurant. That is, until the window about ten feet from her exploded in a shattering of glass and wood. Sam leaned away and lifted her arms to protect her head and grunted as she felt the impact of several projectiles against her arms, body and legs.
The sound of what initially almost appeared to be an implosion was strange, almost like the sounds you would hear if you were a close witness to a thunder and lightning storm. The rumble and the shattering stopped almost immediately but there was no mistaking the orange glow from outside. Sam reached for her cell phone, only to remember that Kris had asked she not bring it in with her. Quickly standing, she grabbed Kris' purse and yelled at the maitre de, who was picking himself up off the floor and brushing himself off in shock, "Call 911, NOW!" before rushing outside.
She looked around for the source of the flames to see if she could do any good and her breath immediately caught in her throat as she realized the Kris was out here somewhere. 'Please be just writing down the details for the paper.' The detective took a few steps and her heart stopped.
"No." She whispered as her heart came back to life and now slammed in her chest.
"No." Sam ran towards what was left of Kris' Bug. She'd watched her friend park when they'd arrived and enough remained of the vehicle to know it had definitely been a blue Bug. Frantic, she called out, "KRIS!" as she approached.
There was nothing left of the cab or rear of the vehicle, it was engulfed in flames and obvious that the gas tank had gone. By some fortune, one space next to burning vehicle was empty but the car on the other side was a ruin, several other cars in the immediate area were obviously going to be needing a lot of work or going to car heaven as well.
"KRIS!" She called as she moved closer to the vehicle and felt the intense heat. She tried to shield herself but couldn't get any closer and some part of her brain realized that if someone had been sitting there they were dead. 'NO!'
Sam worked her way around the burning vehicle whispering prayers to anyone who would listen to please not let Kris have been in the car. She didn't receive any responses and finally her legs gave out, she dropped to her knees and croaked out, "No, please no." The rain fell lightly but the pain she was feeling inside was so intense she didn't notice it, nor the sirens as they approached or the people asking her if she needed help. Tears fell down her face and mingled with the raindrops hitting her face. 'No no no no no no, please. Please not again, please not her. Not her.'
Something finally broke through her pain.
One of the people coming out to check their broken windowed, pockmarked car had walked around the other side in shock. He called out, "Hey, someone needs help over here. Someone call an ambulance!"
Another person shouted back, "I think they did already!"
Sam's heart unfroze for a moment and she felt the stirring of hope, 'Please. Please give me this. I'll do whatever you want, I swear it. Please.' She stood with a wince and quickly stepped to where the other man was indicating he needed help. Her heart was pounding again and somehow, some way she knew that it was Kris, her heart leapt now and she felt as if she were being pulled around the other car. Taking a deep breath she looked around the man on the ground and ran forward as she easily recognized Kris' body. She was on her side, one arm partially under her, the other stretched out against the dark ground and blonde hair fanned out over her face.
Skidding to a halt, she dropped to her knees again and heedlessly threw Kris' purse to the ground, trying not to panic. "Kris?" Sam reached a very shaky hand out to check her friend's pulse and felt a relief so profound it caused her pain when a faint but steady beat met her fingertips. The relief behind the whispered "Oh God." was quite evident. Sam brushed the back of her friend's head lightly and moved some of the blonde hair that spilled in a very untidy fashion out of the way to uncover her friend's face.
She saw the blood first and frantically scrambled to the other side of the inert body to find a nasty gash around Kris' eyebrow, blood was dripping down her forehead to form a small pool on the ground. Sam couldn't tell how far the gash went but she was loathe to move Kris' head in any way and so she looked her over for other injuries, keeping an eye on the wound.
From this angle, she could better see the arm that Kris was lying on. There was no doubting that the blonde's left wrist was broken and she winced in sympathy, her mind popping to life with the errant thought that Kris was not going to be happy about missing the last few weeks of the softball season. The detective absently noticed that the rain was starting to fall more and that Kris' skin was getting cool.
Slipping off the sweater she had on over a black tee, she swore softly as it caught on something and her arm began to protest. Pushing the pain aside she laid the sweater, cursing again when she noted the blood on the arm, over her friend as best she could and turned to find a couple of people watching, one with an umbrella. "Can you hold that over her?"
The man looked stupidly up at his umbrella as if not understanding and then looked back and jumped slightly when the realization hit. He quickly stood over Kris' head and tried to shield her from the rain.
Sam spared him a "Thank you" before continuing on her gentle search. She didn't want to move her friend, so she carefully ran her hands over her other arm and legs, finding nothing obvious. Lifting her head from a cursory examination of the blonde's torso, where she found nothing obvious, Sam suddenly rocked back against her heels with the shocking realization that the murmur she thought she'd been hearing in the background was really her own mind repeating a mantra of 'I love you, Kris. Please be all right.'
She had to take several rapid breaths before she was able to push that away and down deep inside. Then she finally heard the sounds of more sirens and recognized the distinctive ambulance sound amongst them. 'You better be coming here.' Further thoughts were interrupted by the arrival of Jimmy Hamilton, she recognized his voice asking for witnesses and clearing the area. She wiped her face quickly with her hand and turned her head in his direction, "Jimmy!"
"Yeah, do I....Sam?"
"Yeah, listen, I'll be going to the hospital with her. I want this area cordoned off as a crime scene. Kris...." She had to take a breath, "Was meeting me to discuss something she thought was going on and thought she'd left papers in the car. On the miracle that something survived this, I want the details."
Jimmy was looking on the ground with a shocked expression, "That's the Captain's.."
"Yeah and not a word, do you understand me? I need to call her family. I'll get my car phone when they're putting her in the ambulance."
"Is she okay?"
"I hope so. God, do I hope so." Her voice cracked slightly and she turned back to her friend in an effort to regain some composure. "Just call it in and see to it that they get someone out here to investigate, okay?"
"Done and I'm sure she'll be fine, Sam."
"Thanks, Jimmy." She absently responded to the young officer but he'd already started arranging everything. Then the paramedics arrived, along with the fire fighters who were trying to put out the fire, which had died down somewhat. That was unfortunate as it had been keeping the area a little warmer. Sam watched from a few feet away as they helped her friend and winced every time they moved her. A neck brace was put around her neck and her arm was carefully secured in an odd plastic looking inflatable cast.
Sam grabbed up her sweater and Kris' purse as they lifted her friend onto the stretcher. "Which hospital?"
Sam nodded and then took off
at a dead run for her car.
Continued in Part 4
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