A/N: This will be my tenth story for Foyle's War and I suppose I wanted to make a bit of an occasion of it (do forgive me).
About six years or more ago it occurred to me that there might be others out there just as taken and interested with Foyle's War, Michael Kitchen, and perhaps even those who also fancied the idea of Foyle and Sam together. The internet search brought up only a handful of fanfiction stories. I savoured them all and was delighted that these authors had seen the same things I'd seen between characters, enjoyed the history and attention to detail of Foyle's War, and took pleasure from old fashioned, enigmatic styles.

These fanfic authors I stumbled across wrote such beautiful stories; intricate and sweet; so poignant and well described. They inspired me to 'pick up my pen' as it were, and I wrote a few tentative fanfics that were immediately stuffed into dusty hard drives. (One of which I've unearthed that centres around a sexy encounter during an air raid between Sam and Foyle - in pantry of all places…) I couldn't let it go, however. It was a curiosity that only grew, and as the community of Foyle fanfic writers began to slowly spread, I put my two cents worth in. The community of fans is wonderful: supportive and cheering one on to the next post every time. I've grown as a fanfic writer because of you all who so graciously come back for more. This little tale is for those original Foyle's War fanfic writers (you know who you are!), and equally for those who have recently arrived and made it so fabulously their own. What a fantastic community of writers - it is a privilege to be here, I assure you.

As always, no copyright infringement intended.

Chapter 1

The bus rumbled along pleasantly through clear skies, stopping to pick up a few passengers along the way. Samantha Stewart stared out of her window, gazing across the downs, waiting for her first glimpse of the sea. Dressed in a new and sensible frock with a red jacket, she looked very smart, and the soft look on her face indicated she was looking forward to something.

Though she was indeed excited to be returning to Hastings for the day, her mind was busy with thoughts of how it had been the last time she was there. The War had just ended and the streets had been full of returned servicemen and civilians dancing, singing, and generally making merry. The drinks flowed in an unquenchable river, and Sam had been there with them, just as relieved and ecstatic.

She had slipped into the crowd, dressed in her MTC uniform, with Andrew Foyle in his RAF uniform. She knew that they made a stunning pair, both looking young and fresh, but she had separated from him eventually to look for his father, her boss, DCS Christopher Foyle. He had said he would come find them, but it had been an hour and he hadn't yet made an appearance on the high street. As she pushed through the crowd she was buffeted from person to person. It was hard to make her way through, and after being waylaid by men in uniform taking up her hands to dance, she gave in to the catching spirit of frenzy that whispered through the crowd.

It was only afterwards, finally having made it home in the early hours and slumping on a chair from exhaustion, that Sam was struck by a thought. It startled her, this realisation: the softness of these men she had danced with, these boys in uniform. They had been moulded over five years into unfathomable hardness, and now that they had returned to their place of origin, they crumbled. She had felt it in their touch and seen it in their faces. Sam had clearly seen that they were afraid: of the silence when they had only known noise; afraid to kiss their mothers; afraid to shirk the uniform that had become a second skin; afraid to love their best girls and wives like they once had done.

No, now it was all sharp movements and quivering muscles; eyes that darted unseeing over the crowds. They had put strong, brown arms around her while dancing, beery breath by her ear, and forced laughter on their faces — but they were afraid. She saw it in Andrew when he thought she wasn't looking, and it pained her to think about all these young men, desperate for a touch of kindness or tenderness. They had held on to her arms like small boys. This, after all, was the softness they had fought for — home and families and England. Yet, it all had changed. There was no longer any softness here, Sam decided, the War had seen to that.

Jolted from her memories of her last days in Hastings, Sam realised they were nearly there, the sea twinkling brightly from beyond the Old Town. She smiled, glad to be back and looking forward to seeing old friends again. She would have to hurry a bit from the bus stop to reach the Church for the Christening on time. A small flutter went through her stomach as she thought about seeing her former colleagues; of seeing Foyle again.

That had been the hardest part of leaving Hastings: not being with Foyle each day. After five years, how could she not miss her days with him? He had been a very thoughtful boss, including her, explaining things patiently for the most part, and making her feel useful. It had been over a month since she had left Hastings. She had gone to tea with Andrew and Foyle before leaving for her new job. Now, smiling broadly at the prospect of seeing Foyle soon, she leapt off the bus, making haste through the Old Town and heading for St Mark's.

When she neared the church she saw a familiar trilby hat perched jauntily on the man ahead of her. She felt the flutter again and grinned, calling out a slightly breathless, "Good morning, sir!"

Foyle turned on his heel, a warm smile breaking across his face, "Good morning! How are you, Sam?" He was clearly glad to see her and continued to smile round at her as she fell into step beside him.

Sam was pleased to see he hadn't changed much. Only the grey pallor that had settled over him in the days before Andrew had come home safely from the War was now thankfully gone. He looked ruddy and almost unburdened with the smile on his face. She blossomed under his smiling gaze, and taking a moment to catch her breath, she said, "I'm very well, thank you."

He eyed her appreciatively, as if agreeing with her statement. "You're looking very, er…" he faltered.

"I know it's a Christening, sir," she began, smiling somewhat wickedly and raising her eyebrows, "but I was aiming rather higher than 'er'."

Foyle bit his lip, pausing slightly in his step. He seemed to realise she was teasing him and it pleased him. He twitched his lips in a sudden movement, "Quite right. You look very nice, Samantha," making it up to her by restoring her femininity.

He glanced sideways at her as they walked up the hill to the church, noticing the becoming pink that had come into her cheeks. Whether it was the climb or his comment, he couldn't be sure, but the soft smile playing about his lips indicated he rather hoped it was the latter.

To break the sudden silence he asked, "How are you getting on at…um?"

"At Sir Leonard's? Well, it takes a bit of getting used to."

"Oh? They keeping you busy then?"

"Rather! I'm the cook, housekeeper, cleaner, driver…and more besides…"

Foyle shot her a quick look, hearing a strained sound come into her voice at the end.

"How about you?" Sam continued, "How's the new office?"

"I try to avoid if I can."

"How's Brookie? Will he be here?"

"He's just gone back up to London."

"Oh, that's a shame. I'd hoped to see him."

They were interrupted as they arrived at the church. Paul Milner, formerly Detective Sergeant Milner under Foyle, hailed them and limped towards them stiffly. He held out his hand to Foyle, "Very nice to see you, sir!"

"Very good to see you too, Milner."

Sam thought his posting to Brighton as Inspector seemed to have agreed with him as, despite the limp from his war injury, he looked buoyant and full of energy.

"Hallo, Sam!" He greeted her brightly as his wife came over with their daughter.

"Oh she's adorable," Sam said, admiring the little bundle, just a month old.

"She's wonderful," agreed Edith Milner, glowing. Turning to Foyle, she said, "So good of you to come, Mr Foyle. Won't you stay for a drink afterwards? We've managed to squirrel away some bottles of Empire Sherry."

"I would be glad to, thank you."

Milner added, "We've got a cake — no icing, but the cake is real."

Sam grinned at him at the mention of cake as they walked slowly up the path to the church.

"Reverend Thomas married us, so we wanted him to Christen Clementine. It's so nice to be back in Hastings," said Edith.

Sam nodded enthusiastically, taking one last glance over the town before entering the church. Oh how I've missed it here…

After the service, relatively short compared to one of Sam's father's church services, they settled themselves around the font near the entrance. Standing just behind Foyle, Sam leaned in to whisper, "I just love Christenings, they're even better than weddings!"

As a vicar's daughter, she had seen many and it always gave her joy to see another. Foyle tilted his head with a smile in acknowledgement.

They all celebrated afterwards in the parish hall with the promised sherry and cake, chatting amicably about the old days in the Police. Sam enjoyed being back with "her" policemen again.

"You're sure you don't need a driver, sir?" Sam asked at one point. Foyle only smiled.

After an hour of chatting and milling around, Foyle came to rescue Sam from the clutches of two old ladies who sounded as if they were trying to recruit her for something. They said goodbye to the Milners and the vicar, slipping out of the hall.

Walking out into the sunshine again, Foyle turned to her, asking in a hopeful voice, "Will you come to lunch? It's only trout I caught yesterday, but there's plenty and the company would be nice."

Sam fairly beamed at him.