A/N: Third in the "Keep Me..." series. This story takes place after the war in August 1945 (during the episode The Hide), as well as going back to Foyle's painful memories of his soldiering days. As a new father again, Foyle looks forward to retiring from the force, but a name from his past brings him suddenly face to face with some of his darkest hours.
Many thanks to LauraRaposa and dancesabove for helping me realise there was more of this story to tell, and again to dancesabove for the title.
As always, comments are greatly appreciated.
No copyright infringement intended.
The soft trickle of water over smooth stones sounded peaceful there by the narrow banks, tripping along under a summer sun, an almost imperceptible breeze brushing across the reeds. A small splash came from the far bank, ripples moving outwards from the fly that hung there as if suspended, before whipping away again with a soft thwick. Detective Chief Superintendent Christopher Foyle moved his fly gracefully over the water, letting it drop at last near the shaded far bank. It was nearing midday and was really too hot for the fish. Should have come earlier.
Looking around, keen eyes watching for any movement, he shifted in his waders, chewing his cheek contemplatively. Sighing softly, he rolled his shoulders, glad to feel the warm sun there. A soft gurgle came from the near bank followed by a coo and he broke into a smile. The lines at the edges of his eyes crinkled as the smile grew. He turned carefully to look over his shoulder and saw them sitting there on the rug in the shade. Never mind the fish today he thought as he began reeling in his line.
She might have been a young queen sat there on the soft rise of grass under the tree, sunlight dappling through its boughs. She wore a pale pink dress with a straw hat, leaning easily against the tree's trunk. As if feeling his eyes on her, she looked up, face shining at him with a full lipped smile. She was his queen, certainly, and his heart, as ever, swelled with an immense love and pride. The gurgling child at her breast did the same for him, and his pace quickened, wanting to be near them.
Foyle carefully put away his rod and tackle, balancing precariously as he slipped off his waders. When it was all stowed away he flung himself down beside them on the rug, pushing his old, battered, green trilby higher on his forehead. Feeling hot, he reached for the metal cup she'd placed in ready waiting for him, draining it.
"Fish not biting?"
"Gorgeous here in the shade though."
"You look gorgeous yourself," he replied, grinning up at her. "How are you both?"
Samantha Foyle looked down at the suckling child, smiling happily, "Starving at usual."
He laughed, "Well…had to get it from somewhere. Shall we eat?"
Foyle pulled the basket towards him, laying out the picnic things. Though the war was over, rationing was still in effect and it was a meagre feast. His mind went back to the trout beyond his reach, and he looked forward to having endless days of fishing after tomorrow. It was to be his last day at the Police, a replacement, a good eight weeks late in coming, had finally been instated. He couldn't wait to leave.
With a satisfied gurgle, the child resurfaced and Sam dragged her eyes away from the spread Foyle was laying out. As she shifted the child and made to refasten the front of the dress, Foyle smirked and said in a low, teasing voice, "You don't have to on my account…I, er, like to have a nice view with my lunch."
She gave him a stern look that quickly melted in to laughter, "It will put me off, you staring, so do behave."
Foyle chuckled and edged closer to them both. "And how is my best girl?"
Sam leaned over to kiss his cheek, "Why don't you take her for a bit?"
She eased the child into his arms, who was already fast on her way to falling asleep. The little face he looked down upon never failed in making his breath catch. He chest seemed to swell every time he looked at her, and once more his face creased into a smile. Sam touched his cheek with a gentle hand, giving him such a loving look that Foyle thought his heart might burst. He swayed slightly to help the bundle in his arms towards sleep.
He could never forget the day she was born; he often thought it was the happiest day of his life. War to be declared officially over the next day, his son home at last, safe and whole, and a new daughter that had melted him the moment he saw her, brought into the world by the woman he adored. Remembering back to three months before, Foyle beamed inwardly.
When the newborn's cry interrupted his pacing of the front room, Foyle had immediately turned to Andrew, a grin already plastered on his face. He went to the bottom of the stairs, hesitating, wondering if he should wait to be summoned. Moving back and forth by the bottom step, rubbing his forehead and smiling, he waited all of a few minutes before the insistent and indignant cry of the baby drew him upwards. He did his best not to race up the stairs. Outside their bedroom door he hesitated again, not wanting to be sent away by the midwife.
"Sam?" he called out finally, pushing the door open carefully. The infant's cry was beginning to settle. His heart was racing as he peered around the door.
"By rights," the midwife began sternly, not looking up at him, "men should wait until they are wanted."
Foyle swallowed hard, trying to see around her to get a glimpse of Sam. The older lady turned to him, eyes twinkling slightly and Foyle felt a sudden relief. He came towards them, and his eyes became bright as he saw Sam with the child, still sticky and wriggling against her breast. She looked up at him, face shining with exertion, finding his eyes. Her own danced and sparkled, matching the large smile.
"A little girl, Mr Foyle," said the midwife, tidying away, pausing briefly to smile down at the mother and daughter.
He came around the bed to sit on the edge, putting a hand of Sam's shoulder. His mouth was slightly open, marvelling at them.
"You were right," Sam said with a laugh, "as usual."
Tears slipped from his eyes as he smiled at her, the corners of his mouth turning down. He edged closer, putting his lips to her temple, "Oh my brave and wonderful darling. How clever of you. She's beautiful. Are you all right?"
He murmured this at her with an unaccustomed speed, and she took his hand, saying soothingly, "We're both fine, my darling. A little tired."
The midwife nodded, "She's done a fine job, Mr Foyle. If only my work were this easy ever day, eh Sam?"
Sam smiled up at her, looking both grateful and pleased.
"Righto, I think I'll go find that son of yours and see if he can be persuaded to make me a cup of tea," said the midwife, twinkling at them again. "I'll be back shortly."
"Will you bring him up with you when you come back, Nurse?" Sam asked. "He'd never come on his own."
The midwife chuckled, closing her bag with a snap. "I will."
She closed the door softly behind her. Foyle let his forehead rest against Sam's, both looking down at the now quiet little baby girl. Her eyes drooped in sleepiness.
"You both must be exhausted," he said softly.
"A bit." Sam nestled into the crook of his arm. "Glad you're here."
"What shall we call her?"
Foyle grinned, a few more tears slipping past his nose, "Hadn't thought. You decide."
"Well, my mother managed to stave off any of my father's inclinations of rather righteous names, like Purity or Chastity for me."
Foyle chuckled, "I should jolly well hope so."
"But I couldn't help but like the name Constance. What do you think? She'd have the same initials as you then."
The tears were streaming down his face now, though a smile still played about his lips. He thought his heart might leap from his body with joy. "Call her Connie for short?"
Sam kissed him and he realised she too had been crying.
"Welcome to Hastings, Constance Foyle…" he murmured throatily, voice catching.
Andrew and the midwife came in a bit later to soft tones, Foyle holding the child and speaking to her. Andrew stared, just as his father had done, marvelling at something so small and precious.
"Come meet your sister, Andrew." Foyle stood and carried the child towards him. "This is Constance."
Andrew could only nod, a large lump growing in his throat. Foyle handed her over, cradling the head carefully. Andrew stared at her, a slow smile spreading across his features. He looked up at Sam who grinned back at him. "She's beautiful," he choked, eyes suddenly becoming bright.
The midwife went on tidying and bustling behind them, beaming to herself. Foyle sat on the edge of the bed, taking up Sam's hand. In that room was everything he loved, and he felt full of life and joy, heart overflowing with happiness.
Shortly after, leaving Andrew to goggle at his baby sister, Foyle showed the midwife out, thanking her profusely and shaking her hand.
"Righto, I'll come round in the morning and see how they are getting on. And mind you all get some rest." She looked at him kindly, and Foyle wondered how often she saw grown men reduced to tears by the birth of their children.
Leaning against the door after it had closed, unable to stop smiling, he saw the telephone on the stand in the hall and thought he'd best make some calls. He telephoned Lyminster's vicarage first, checking his wristwatch. Nearly teatime. Trust Sam to be done and dusted in time for tea…he mused, smiling to himself. Reverend Iain Stewart answered on the third ring.
"Iain, it's Christopher."
They exchanged pleasantries before Foyle said quickly, "Just telephoning to say you have a granddaughter, beautiful and healthy, and both are doing fine."
The other man seemed to have lost his voice for a moment, for when he answered it sounded thick and full of emotion. Foyle too felt his throat constrict again, and he shook his head, wondering at himself. Mrs Stewart came on next, and they arranged for her to come up in a few days time.
"Give you all a bit of time to get into a routine," Mrs Stewart said sensibly, "and she won't want me sticking my nose in. She'll manage perfectly, and you've been through it before."
Over twenty-five years ago…Foyle thought with a pang.
After ringing off with Sam's parents at the vicarage, he paused, picking up the receiver again. He waited, chewing his lip as it rang.
"St Mary's Vicarage," said a bright voice on the other end.
"Aubrey, it's Christopher."
"Christopher, my dear fellow, how are you?"
"I'm very well," he began, "Sam's just had a baby girl."
Foyle could almost hear the other man smiling, and Aubrey's enthusiasm made his throat constrict again. I'm well on my way to becoming an old woman, Foyle thought severely, wiping his eyes for the umpteenth time that day.
"You're dreaming away there, my love," Sam said, breaking into his thoughts.
Foyle smiled, "Oh just remembering the day she was born, that's all…"
It also reminded Foyle of Andrew, and he hoped that his son would be successful in his interviews this week in London. After a summer of having a full house, the father and son enjoying their time of catching up, it felt strange not to see him everyday.
"Wonder how Andrew's getting on? He should be back in a day or two," Sam added, as ever capable of reading his thoughts.
He grinned at her, "Let's hope he's found something."
"He'll have charmed his way in, I'm sure."
Sam passed him a sandwich, "She asleep?"
"Are you sure you won't let me organise a proper retirement party, Christopher?"
"Quite. You know I don't like to make a fuss."
"Don't like a fuss being made over you, you mean," Sam retorted, taking a large bite of her sandwich.
"But dinner at home with a few friends isn't a fuss."
"But what's the point? I'd rather have a large whiskey and a quiet evening with you."
"You're impossible." She shook her head, laughing to herself.
The next day Sam was up early as usual, going through the morning routine with the baby before slipping downstairs with her. She knew Foyle didn't want to make a fuss about his last day, but she put a small wrapped package by his place setting and set to making him a nice cooked breakfast. Connie gurgled happily enough in the pram by the door and Sam kept a constant stream of chatter going towards her.
Foyle came through into the kitchen with a hearty, "Good morning, how are my girls?"
Sam turned from the stove to kiss his freshly shaved cheek, "I've got your breakfast nearly ready."
He gave her a little squeeze, looking over her shoulder and teasing, "Smells nice...um, what's the occasion?"
She gave him a little push with her bottom, "Go sit down with a cup of tea and I'll be through."
Going to the pram, he scooped up Connie with a grin, murmuring to her and bouncing her as he walked through the kitchen.
"Mind you don't bring her milk up," Sam said, pouring the tea. She looked around them, "What's Daddy doing, eh? Undoing all my hard work, no doubt."
He made a face and sat down at the table, Foyle letting Connie grab at his tie with her tiny fists. Seeing the small package on the table, he unwrapped it slowly with one hand. Inside were a lovely pair of cuff links and he smiled broadly, feeling spoiled. "Sam, the cuff links...they are lovely. Thank you, darling."
Sam stuck her head out to look at him, "Just a little something to mark the occasion." They smiled at each other before she ducked back in to deal with the cooking.
She was just loading his plate with the best breakfast rationing could offer when she heard a squelching sound from behind her. Sam groaned.
"Bring a cloth would you, Sam, she's sicked up."
"A little or a lot?"
"Enough," Foyle said dryly.
Sam sighed and went in to see the damage. Luckily it had only made it on to his trousers. "I did warn you."
Foyle kissed the top of the baby's head, "You're both in league against me, aren't you? Now Andrew's away and I'm the only chap?"
Sam tutted and said, "Right, give her to me and get those off."
Foyle looked up, slightly amused, raising an eyebrow mischievously.
Sam rolled her eyes at him, "If I wash it out now, it will be easier later on."
His tongue touched his top lip and he tilted his head to one side, "Oh I see…"
When he was standing holding out his trousers he was left only in his shirt and socks and Sam sidled up beside him, holding Connie. "Not everyday I get this with a cup of tea," she said with a half smile.
Foyle slipped an arm around her waist, and seeing he was forgiven, gave her a deep kiss. "See, I don't need a party when I've got you…" His eyes held a promise of things to come, and Sam nipped his bottom lip playfully.
He cleared his throat, "Better, er, find something else to wear for now."
"Yes, they might not appreciate your legs as much as I do…" she said over her shoulder, going back into the kitchen.
The fact that Foyle was glad to be retiring was apparent to the whole Constabulary, and with a pretty wife and new baby at home, it was understandable. What they didn't realise perhaps was that Foyle had had enough of bureaucracy and had been chomping at the bit since last spring. Having expected to be replaced soon after the war was over, it had come as a nasty disappointment when he was told there was no one else and he would just have to stay put. He'd disliked being away from home so much over the summer with a never ending stream of cases coming across his desk. It wasn't simply local business either, but the War Office for everlasting sticking its nose in, Russian POWs going missing, and the Americans ready to return home. Enough was enough.
He'd had a spring in his step and an easy manner since Connie had arrived, as if she had brought something out in him that had been filed away. He was quick to smile now, to laugh and to joke, and the men of the Constabulary were more than a little anxious about who the new DCS would be. Foyle had been a decent man to work for, it was agreed.
Foyle came into the new Police Station, still thinking as he did most days, that new didn't necessary mean better. As he made his way upstairs he put his mind on the last things he needed to finish. His office was a horrible glass and window blinds affair that made him feel like he was sitting in a fish bowl. It did, however have a nice view over the Old Town. He stared out at it for a bit, hands in his pockets, thinking it had been a long road to this point.
By afternoon, his reports were finalised and the filing all in order. He stuck his head out of the office, looking down the corridor towards the desk sergeant and got a surprise as a line of uniformed men came striding towards him. He drew back, rolling his eyes. Should have known I couldn't get away this easy…
The men began to clap, and young Detective Constable Hadley, who had dogged his heels with a quiet enthusiasm during the summer, drew him out of the office, smiling at him eagerly. "We all just wanted to say goodbye and thank you, sir," he said respectfully.
"Really now," Foyle put up his hands, "don't you all have work that needs doing?"
Someone yelled, "Speech!" There was a ripple of laughter before it went quiet, the men looking at Foyle in silent admiration.
"Right, well…" Foyle shoved his hands into his pockets, "I'm no good at these things and, er, truth is I can't wait to get away — far more fish to be caught than criminals, luckily for me." He smiled, looking down for a moment, "We've done a good job here so far, and I'm pleased to have known you. Keep up the good work. So…I'll leave the criminals to you experts, and I'll have a bash at the fish."
Someone said, "Hear, hear!" and they all began to clap again. Foyle had his arm pumped and hand squeezed as he went around, the men flashing him genuine smiles and hearty well wishes of, "Good luck, sir!". He allowed himself to enjoy it all for a moment.
A plainclothes man pushed his way through, looking almost shy. "Hallo," he began, shaking Foyle's hand, "I'm DCS Clarkson."
Foyle grinned, "I know exactly who you are, how do you do?"
The men dispersed down the corridor and Foyle edged back into his office, "Do come in."
"I'm here to replace you."
"Well, so I understand — what kept you?" Foyle grinned round at him from the hat stand where his black trilby hung.
He plucked it up for the last time, taking a breath. "You'll be very pleased to hear everything is in order. My report is there on the desk for you. What it doesn't mention, however, is that anything related to current investigations you'll find here," he patted the top of a filing cabinet before moving on briskly.
"All pre-war and war-time records are kept next door — just ask the desk sergeant and he'll be happy to help."
He bounced on his toes, looking about the office one last time, "Right, I think that is about it. Congratulations on the post, or commiserations, whichever you like, and jolly good luck."
Foyle shook that man's hand again, jammed his hat on his head, departing with, "A pleasure to meet you. Goodbye," leaving DCS Clarkson somewhat open-mouthed and bewildered in the glass office.
Very nearly racing down the steps, Foyle grinned inwardly, more than ready for long mornings over tea with his girls, lazy hours of fishing, evenings in with Sam…his heart raced as he started his car, looking forward to getting back to that something promised.
With thoughts of his little family in the forefront of his mind, he drove carefully towards home. Stopping at a corner to wait for traffic he heard a news-crier yell out the day's headline. His mind registered the words slowly, and with a frown he turned towards the man, looking for his board that would hold the headline. Foyle froze, his eyes racing over the letters, recognising the name.
The board read:
London Evening Courier: "DEVEREAUX TREASON TRIAL"
It can't be…Devereaux…no, no it can't be…
Face suddenly very grave, he slid out of the car, crossing the street and paid for a newspaper. On the front page, there in black and white, was the heading, "British Free Corps Treason Trial", next to a photo with James Robert Devereaux - member of the British Free Corp written underneath. Getting back into the car, Foyle read the article through twice at top speed, his heart sinking with each word. The young man in the photograph stared up at him.
A haunted, and yet somehow familiar face.