Safe and Sound

I started this awhile ago but want to finish it so I'm bringing it over here to remind me. This is a short Sami/Rafe story. Basically, it takes place right after the debacle that was "RoboRafe". I didn't feel the writers dealt with that adequately so I am trying to myself. Maybe that's where Safe (a couple I adore!) started to go so wrong. Le sigh …


Part 1

He felt the distance, the chasm, between them growing a bit wider every day. Every time he tried to even hug her, she jumped away from him like he had scalded her very skin. And he had learned very quickly too that kissing her was out of the question. He had earned a slap for that offense. He was sure she blamed him for the imposter, for not protecting her the way he had sworn he always would. She had believed in him, trusted in his hollow promises, and he had failed her in every way. How was he ever going to make this up to her? How was he ever going to make her see how sorry he was? How was he supposed to ask her to forgive him when he couldn't even forgive himself?

000

He had moved out of their bedroom two weeks before. Not because she had asked him to - no, that would require her to actually speak to him - but because he felt he owed it to her. She obviously didn't want him around right now - maybe she would never want him around again. He hoped it wouldn't come to that because he was miserable without her. He wasn't Rafe without his Sami. They used to fight so passionately in the past and now they didn't even do that. It was just silence and the silence was deafening.

Tonight he was sitting in his room, sheets bunched up at his feet, trying to focus on reading the newspaper but he just couldn't relax. His concentration was completely fried and sleep was definitely out of the question as well. He was hyperaware of Sami in the next room and he wanted to go to her and hold her and say how sorry he was for failing her but he didn't dare. Instead he sighed and climbed out of bed, walking to the door and yanking it open.

He glanced at her closed door as he padded past it towards the kitchen but kept walking, not daring to bother her.

He put on a pot of coffee and waited as it percolated. He leaned against the counter just thinking of how he was going to make this huge mess right when suddenly the door to her room opened. She was standing there, dressed in long-sleeved, very matronly pajamas and her hair was rumpled and tangled and yet she had never looked quite so beautiful to him.

She stared at him for a long moment, her blue eyes troubled, but said nothing. All he could think to say in response to the potent silence was, "Coffee?"

She nodded and he started fixing her a cup as she watched, adding two creams and a little sugar just the way he knew she liked it. It was a shallow effort at best but she hadn't turned tail and run back into her room. Yet. That was something. It had to be a start. He sure as hell hoped so anyway.

000

"So ..." Rafe said as he watched her over the rim of his coffee cup.

"So ..." Sami said, watching him back over hers. She finally cleared her throat. "This is good."

"Sami?"

"Yeah?"

"I'm ... glad you like it." That's not what he had wanted to say at all but he sensed that he had to let her take her time. She hadn't run out on him yet - she was after all sitting at the table across from him - and so he wasn't going to sacrifice this little peace to have his say. He knew he was going to let her have to come around on her own terms. And when she did, he was going to be right there waiting.

Sami offered him a tired smile. "I do... It's uh, good..." She said again, dropping her eyes into her lap. Sami Brady-Hernandez at a loss for words. Who would have ever thunk it? He mused as he watched her.

"So ... Uh, you're up late. Or early. However you want to put it."

Sami nodded. "Yeah ... I couldn't sleep. What about you?"

He nodded too. "Same."

Sami picked up her empty coffee cup and walked to the sink, setting it inside. "I'll take care of the dishes in the morning ..."

"Don't worry about it. I think I can manage the dishwasher, at least I hope so."

Sami nodded. "Well if you need help-"

"I need you," Rafe suddenly blurted out and mentally kicked the hell out of himself. "I didn't mean that."

Sami raised an eyebrow. Rafe coughed. "I mean, I did. But I'm not going to push you. I know you're angry with me and I don't blame you. I did fail you and -"

"Rafe, do you honestly think that's what this is about?" Sami asked, crossing her arms.

Rafe nodded. "You're angry with me. I just assumed -"

"You know what they say about assumptions," she said with a flash of a smile before it was gone again and wariness settled in for the winter.

"Yeah I do," Rafe said splaying his hands. "But I'm lost. Why won't you let me be there for you - let me make things right?"

"Cause you can't, Rafe, don't you get it?" Sami asked, her voice abnormally loud in the quiet house. If she was worried about waking the kids, it didn't show. All he could see was her frustration and heartbreak then. "Things won't be right again. They can't be. You - you have his face. The man who violated me. That's what it was. A violation... I've thought a lot about it. It was rape. I've been through that enough."

"Sami... It didn't occur to me. I guess I didn't want it to. But I'm not him, Sami, I'm not. I would never hurt you like that."

"I know that," Sami said. "Logically I do. But I'm ..." Her voice trailed off. "It's just going to take some time, I guess. Give me that."

Rafe nodded. "I will. Definitely. However much you need."

Sami sighed and tears misted her big blue eyes. "In the meantime, I think it's best if we keep our distance."

"We live in the same house ..." Rafe nodded then, understanding. "Oh. Okay. I'll be out of here in the morning."

"I'm sorry, Rafe," Sami said. "I do love you. It's just so hard right now."

"Don't apologize. You know what's best for you and I swear I'll honor that. You have been pushed around enough."

Sami nodded. Then she had turned on her heels and disappeared into her room, shutting the door resoundingly after her. Rafe watched her go and felt his own heart breaking. He wished he could change Sami's mind but he knew she deserved better than to be hassled by him of all people. He would move out and hope one day, if he waited long enough, she would return to him.

0000

Rafe was already packed and ready to go by the time the sun rose in the morning - poking bright rays of light through the slats of the blinds. He had added everything he was taking with him to one small suitcase. He had put in some jeans and tee-shirts, clean boxers and a pair of sleep pants. The other basic necessities he would need like soap and tooth paste could be purchased at the corner drugstore. He wasn't sure where he was going exactly but knew he had to figure it out.

His heart was heavy in his chest but giving Sami space was the only way to hope that one day they could be together again. Every fiber of him wanted to fight her on this, but this wasn't the right sort of situation for it. She had always felt harassed and worse, forced, into something much too recently. He had to walk away. For now anyway. He prayed it wouldn't last forever – this gulf between them.

He sighed and looked around the room. He had everything – everything but Sami and the kids, he realized. Still, it was time to go whether he liked it or not.

He picked up the suitcase, deposited his car keys in the pocket of his pants and taking a deep breath, and moved for the door. He had just barely opened it when he was accosted by Johnny and Allie. "Rafe, play with us," Johnny said jumping around and smiling that adorable gap-toothed grin at Rafe.

"I would love to, buddy, but …" Rafe knew he had to be honest. He had known this moment was coming – the moment he had to tell his kids he was leaving. And they were his kids – at least in his mind and in his heart.

Allie spotted the suitcase in his hand. "Are you going somewhere, Rafe?" She asked in a small, quiet voice.

Rafe nodded and dropped the bag on the floor. He then got to his knees and pulled the children close. "Yeah, I'm leaving but –" He could say that it wasn't going to last forever, that it wasn't permanent but he didn't know if that was true and he wouldn't lie to them – or give them false hope – for anything.

"You're coming back right, Rafe?" Johnny asked, face falling. "You'll be back soon?"

"I don't know if I'll be coming back here right away but –" he paused to take a deep breath – "you can come and visit me at my new place anytime." He knew staying at a motel wasn't going to work for very long. Children needed stability – of which this situation was already robbing them of - and room to run. He'd have to start looking for a place immediately. God willing Sami wouldn't be opposed to the children spending time with him but he didn't believe that she would. She always used to say she trusted him with their lives.

"Did you and Mommy have a fight?" Allie asked, ever the inquisitive one.

Rafe shook his head. It was half-true. He and Sami didn't really fight though because it meant talking and Sami had ceased to do very much of that. "No," he said. "Sometimes grownups just need some time apart."

"How long is 'some time'?" Johnny asked, cocking his head to the side and looking at Rafe warily, seemingly afraid of his answer.

"I don't know," Rafe replied honestly. "But I promise we'll see each other soon. In fact, you'll see me so much you'll get sick of me." He reached out and tickled their little tummies and they squealed with laughter but then it was over and they were looking somber again.

"Everything will be fine," Rafe assured them. He climbed to his feet just as he spotted Sami come into the room, carrying Sydney on her hip. The toddler was nibbling on her bottom lip, looking groggy but immediately happy to see Rafe. She stretched out her arms to him and Rafe moved to her, tugging her into his arms. His hand brushed Sami's arm by accident and she jumped. He sighed internally. She was always going to be sick and scared at the sight of him, wasn't she? She had every right to be but it troubled Rafe that he couldn't find a way to soothe her fears.

Rafe snuggled Sydney to his chest. Johnny and Allie came over and hugged him tightly around the legs. Rafe smiled at them as brightly as he could manage. "You're all going to be fine," he said in a voice that sounded hoarse to his own ears. "You will see me a lot," he reiterated.

"We don't want you to go!" Johnny protested. "Please don't go."

Rafe didn't dare meet Sami's eyes right now. "I have to," he said gently. "We'll see each other soon."

"Mommy!" Allie cried. "Tell Rafe not to go."

This time Rafe turned to look at Sami. Her eyes were full of tears. She dashed at a single one that rolled down her cheek. "I can't," she said. "I just can't."

Rafe felt his own eyes burn and he blinked rapidly to chase away the moisture. He then gave Sydney a kiss on the forehead and passed her back to Sami. Sami held her wriggling daughter tightly, almost like Sydney was a human shield between her and her feelings. Rafe offered Johnny and Allie bright smiles.

"We'll see each other soon." The kids burst into tears and Rafe felt so badly for them. He kissed each of their foreheads and then lightly extracted himself from their tight embrace. It was probably the single hardest thing he'd ever had to do.

"I gotta go now," Rafe said. He chucked Johnny and Allie's and then Sydney's chins. "Be good for your Mom."

He then grabbed his suitcase and started for the door. As he slipped out the door, he heard everyone inside sobbing – including Sami.

He walked down the hall and finally a tear fell from his own eye. He wanted to rush right back in there and hold his family so tight but Sami needed distance and though it went against every instinct he had, he wouldn't fight her on this. Because he loved her, he had to walk away.

A/N: I think there's only one part left. I'd love some reviews if you're willing.