Following Sam's rescue from the bomb inside the Bexhill fuel depot, her near-miss sparks a little something extra from her boss.
Set September 1940, after Among the Few (S2E2).
The creative rights to the characters and plotlines in "Foyle's War" belong to Anthony Horowitz. This story is a not-for-profit homage to the television series, to the talented actors who bring its characters to life, and to a fascinating era.
"In order for ice to melt, it must absorb a heat of fusion."
This is for dancesabove, who's poorly. But I made her beta it anyway ;o)
"... immense stupidity, and utter disregard for my instructions to you, which were what, Sam?"
Foyle angled himself forwards, elbows crooked, hands balled into tight fists that propped him up and bored into his desk beneath his icy stare.
Sam found she couldn't meet her boss's eyes. They glittered with a hard light she was totally unused to in her conversations with him. Oh, he was apt to pin a criminal to the wall with shards like that. But her?
In abject misery, she latched her gaze onto his hands: the sun-specked skin pulled taut across the sturdy fan of bones, veins prominent, his knuckles white with tension. Unusually, Mr Foyle was jacketless, his shirt cuffs pulled back, anchored by expanding silver armbands on the crisp white cotton sleeves. Sam could see the tendons flexing where they joined his wrists.
The colour, long since drained out of her features by her brush with death, had crept back up her cheeks under the onslaught of this unexpected dressing down; now it set her face aflame.
She felt her spirit wilt. As if these awful work clothes weren't enough to flatten all her pride and femininity, her boss now thought she was an idiot, to boot.
And his opinion mattered so.
"Um, well..." she opened meekly, battling back tears, "you s—... you said I shouldn't..."
"Yes. Precisely. Put yourself in harm's way." Foyle cut her off, his irritation shoving politesse aside. Now he regarded her with fierce impatience, mouth set in a line of numbing disapproval, and uttered, "Didn't sink in, did it?"
Foyle didn't know quite what effect he'd hoped to have on Sam—such interviews between them were unprecedented—but as he drew back, straightening himself, the impact of his words grew clear. Sam had begun to wring her hands.
He watched the slender fingers, grubby still with engine grease—there'd been no opportunity for her to wash it off since they'd returned from Bexhill—and that bloody beret, pushing down her ears so that they stuck out at an angle. Wayward strands of sweat-slicked blond hair trailed down both cheeks.
At best—at very best, that's how he would've found her if the worst had happened: limp, bedraggled, dirty and unbeautiful. And dead.
Because of him.
He closed his eyes against the image.
And suddenly, abnormally for Foyle, he found he hadn't said enough. A lump rose in his throat, and in a voice constricted to a whine by some emotion he could barely recognise for lack of use, he swivelled at the shoulder, twisting in to skittle her with his complaint.
"How COULD you be so RUDDY foo—"
Mid-word, he stopped abruptly, startled by a degree of temper he hadn't given vent to in many years. Foolish? Sam was foolish? No.
Foyle screwed his eyelids tight, exhaled, unballed a fist, and ran a shaking hand across his brow. With his next ragged breath, he'd reined the temper in.
"Sam," he managed finally, "you're too impetuous. You nearly died today. And THEN where would I b—"
Sam's head snapped up as if someone had slapped her wide awake.
Two pairs of startled eyes engaged across the desk. The first to look away belonged to Foyle. He hadn't served this long apprenticeship of stoicism for everything to be demolished now.
Too late, though. In that brief, unguarded moment, the temperature and balance of power inside the room had shifted.
Foyle rose contemplatively; his hands sought refuge in his trouser pockets.
"Look. Sam. I should probably, um, apologise. The only ruddy fool in this is me. I never should have let you go there undercover in the first place."
"No! Oh, no, Sir!" Sam's head shook vigorously, generous in victory. "You're absolutely right. I should've been more..."
Though her words trailed off, her eyes were bright, expectant. All the self-doubt, dirt and drabness were forgotten, and the frightfully unflattering overalls, and the silly hat. One simple, kind remark from Mr Foyle, and Sam felt beautiful again.
Grinning, with the wind of Foyle's contrition buoying her, she gave a shrug now, warming to her subject.
"I should've been more..." screwing up her face, Sam failed to think of what she should've been. "Oh, well... more something, anyway. But actually, I didn't know there was a bomb. I mean, well, honestly, if there had been a big sign saying 'BOMB IN OFFICE IN A SUITCASE', obviously, I wouldn't have gone in there, would I? But as things were..."
"Sam." Foyle squinted at her, lips compressed. "Nnnot funny."
Why, then, had his cheek begun to twitch?
Sam didn't notice he was moving round the desk toward her. She was preaching to the ceiling, on a roll, already in full swing with her bravado.
"Well, it's not for you to say, Sir, is it? I'm the one who nearly caught it. And if I can laugh about it, seems to me that anybody c—"
A hand placed softly on Sam's arm forestalled her chatter. She lowered her gaze to find her boss just inches from her.
"... can," she finished, wide-eyed, stomach leaping, all her cheery sauciness knocked flat. The eyes that sought hers now were not icy as they had been earlier, but softer, warmer, sadder—maybe something more.
Sam wondered: disappointed?
She swallowed. "Have I gone too far, Sir?"
Always. Never. What the devil was he meant to say? You haven't. But I might be about to? He'd already said too much; betrayed himself. That awful bloody hat—the muscle at the corner of his mouth would not be quelled. It tugged his lips into a quiet smile.
"No. You haven't gone too far, Sam."
He let his hand drop to his side. By touching her at all, he'd disobeyed his own rule of propriety. Now it was make or break. He could've stowed the misbehaving hand inside his trouser pocket; left things there. Instead of which...
"Could I, um, just do this...?"
Chin raised, he fixed a pseudo-scientific eye upon a grubby spot above Sam's eyebrow, and then in one deft move, he plucked the beret from her head.
Familiar blond waves sprang free at the crown, the longer tresses being drawn into a loose plait at her nape. Foyle closed his lids in pleasure for a moment, unaware of wide eyes fixed upon his face.
"That's better. Also, may I...?"
"May you… what, Sir?" Sam stood stock-still, knees back, locked into a rigid stance for fear her legs would give beneath her. Her heart was thundering in her chest so loudly that his next words disappeared beneath the thwup-thwup-thwup of blood-flow in her ears.
"Wull, only this..." He slipped a digit underneath an errant strand of blond, and hooked it round her ear, only to let his fingers dawdle longer than he strictly needed to.
Sam barely dared to breathe, but she was longing now to feel his fingers on her face; she let her neck relax and flop toward his fingers. Then, underneath her boss's slowly blinking gaze, she found her courage, and turned in her lips to brush his palm.
The gentle puff of breath teased at the insides of his fingers, and Foyle's features crumpled.
"Sam," he breathed. "I nearly lost you."
"Knew you'd save me. Never doubted it."
He felt the tickle of her words against his palm.
"Knew more than I did, then," he whispered. "Would've given anything to be there in your place."
"You would?" Sam lifted lazy eyes to read his face. It struck her how intensely blue his eyes seemed at close quarters.
"Anything I had to give." Foyle bent his head, and touched his forehead to her temple. "No choice about it. Instinct tells us to protect our own."
"That's how you see me, then?"
"I do." No point denying it.
"Golly. And that's why you were a perfect bear just now?" Sam wrapped her fingers round his hand, and turned the merest inch so they were nose-to-nose, their foreheads touching.
She breathed him in. He smelt of Yardley's shaving soap—the sort her father always used. How awfully strange, she mused, that I don't feel remotely worried about that.
His tone was soft capitulation. "Ssseems you understand me better than I do myself."
"But you were so... commanding when you told me off..." She grinned in mischief, confident their faces were too close for him to see.
"Wull, I'm your boss. It's what I do." He felt that smile creep back again. The one that threatened to completely lay him bare.
"Bit of a bully, actually, Christopher, considering how upset I was."
Their cheeks were brushing now. Sam took the opportunity to turn her lips and taste the fascinating tea-time stubble that had been a source of fantasy for months.
"It is all right to call you Christopher, isn't it?"
He gave a crumpled smile. Sam learnt fast, and he'd always loved her teasing.
"Wull, point of fact, I'd hoped for first-name terms." His left thumb traced her ear. "Be gentle with me, though. Not used to being 'Christophered' by women." Particularly by lovely girls I've no business wanting.
His other hand felt for the webbing of the belt that cinched her waist, and rested lightly on the khaki cotton drill. Those overalls that swamped her slight—and, he had always thought, her lovely figure.
"Be sure and let me know the moment I step out of line again," he told her soberly. "I need to be reminded of my limits."
"You haven't put a foot wrong in the last two minutes, Christopher."
Sam found she couldn't tear her lips away from his delicious bristles; and as for Christopher, the feeling of his own name tickling his cheek sent bolts of warmth to bits of him he'd thought were best forgotten.
"Your turn," she prompted, nipping at the interesting contour of his jaw.
"To say my name."
He closed his eyes. "Samantha. Sam." It came out hushed, and reverent, and cherishing.
But Sam was greedy.
"Oh, that isn't fair exchange!" she tried to sulk, although her face was beaming. "You've always called me Sam. Try harder, won't you? Let me hear that things have changed."
She inched a little closer, and the hand that lingered at her waist became the arm that gathered her and gently pressed her to him.
Foyle's nose sank gratefully into Sam's hair, discovering an aroma that was 'natural Sam' with overtones of Bexhill petrol. In that moment it became his favourite scent, and urged him on to taste what he could smell. He started with a delicate pink shell of ear and let his lips drift down to settle on a fragrant niche below her earlobe.
"Sssweet girl? Darling Sam?"
His lips had caught her in a soft place that she'd never given half a thought to, but for some unfathomable reason, it was sending pulses round her body that conspired to leave her boneless. She hoped he'd never stop—that was, until the moment when his lips broke off and sought her own. And then she realised, with a flush of warmth, that there was always going to be a nicer 'something' just around the corner with this man.
His kiss was dry at first; petitioning; polite; a modest introduction of himself—that way he had of understating who and what he was: 'My name is Foyle. I'm a policeman.'
But Sam had quickly learned her boss amounted to much more than was hinted at on first acquaintance. And in a sense, she'd taught him just the same about herself. Now, it seemed, the time had come for each of them to delve beneath the surface—learn each other thoroughly.
And there was so much more to Christopher than met the eye.
If icebergs, as they'd taught her as a schoolgirl, only showed their tips above the water, then Christopher, she fancied, was an iceberg in a lot of ways—although she confidently hoped that cold would not be one of them.
The way he tasted promised to be habit-forming: soap and sandalwood and accents of male musk... and just a touch of office ink. Sam melted into him, keen to both prove and disprove his iceberg properties. Her hands slid underneath his armpits, and then up and forwards at the shoulder, as their similar heights allowed. The breadth of him up there had often struck her: certainly her ribcage barely made the half of his. And only recently, she'd seen him throw a punch and floor a felon larger than himself, so there was power beneath the shirtsleeves, if he'd only let her feel it.
Sam settled happily against his chest, contented in his warmth. In all these months of driving him, in all of her imaginings, somehow this warmth had never figured in her dreams. This was the 'real' of him: the wonderful solidity, the—rapid, she now realised—beating of his heart, the firmness of his shoulder cushioning her head.
But so far Christopher's embrace was far more suited to the handling of a china doll than of flesh and blood, and it occurred to Sam that he was shy of going further.
"You can't break me," she whispered. Which was wrong, of course. He could. He almost had, some moments earlier. But only with his disapproval. Not this way.
She urged him, "Hold me tighter."
"Give me a moment to get used to this." His breath was shaky underneath her ear. "Can't believe you didn't send me packing when I touched you. Just so bloody grateful you're in one piece. Couldn't bear to damage what I have. It was a very near-miss, Sam. Pure chance the damn thing didn't detonate."
"I'm glad there was a bomb," Sam told him, not entirely jokingly, "otherwise this wouldn't be happening now. So please... Christopher... do a little damage, would you?"
His answer was a rumble of low laughter, jiggling her breast.
Sam licked her lips and lined herself up, being brave for both of them.
"Kiss me properly. I have a theory to prove."
Foyle cocked an eyebrow. Sam and theories.
"I see, Miss Stewart. Impatient to get back to solving crimes? Don't let me keep you..."
He feinted a withdrawal, tongue poking teasingly into his inside cheek.
Sam grasped him underneath the arms more tightly, laying claim to what was hers.
"Not a whodunnit theory. An iceberg theory."
Christopher fed a finger underneath her chin, and peered down into her eyes.
"Sam. You have to be the most intriguing girl I've ever—"
"Kissed?" She closed her eyes and puckered up hopefully.
Sam opened one lid, then the other. The blueness of his eyes had darkened, and she felt the gentle tug of his splayed fingers carding through her loosely plaited hair to massage lightly at her nape. His other arm had tightened round her, crushing her against him.
She leant back to meet his lips; and this time round, his kiss was anything but shy.
They stood, lips locked in gentle but determined exploration. His tongue stole in to urge her lips apart, and Sam, so hungry for him, threw herself into the kiss with such enthusiasm that he had to take a pace back to prevent them toppling. Now, braced with feet apart, one foot a little way behind the other, Foyle took charge of their equilibrium, and of the kiss.
Sam's iceberg theory had taught her just how difficult it is to judge how much lies underneath the waterline. And so it proved with Christopher. The kiss was slow, and soft, and lovely, and most definitely deep and warm—the sort that fed the soul. She would've hoped and guessed as much, but girls she'd trained with at the MTC had warned her you could never tell with men: they'd kiss you hot enough, but afterwards they'd freeze you out as soon as look at you.
In any case, Sam hadn't dabbled much in all of that. Till now, just looking at this man had been enough to keep her mind off chaps her own age, and (apart from this one) all the older ones with queer ideas could go and whistle. Her eggs were firmly in one basket—had been for a while. And if she dropped them now...
Dimly, she became aware that Christopher was talking to her.
"Sweetheart? Happy? Could you stand a little more?"
She peeled her eyelids open hazily.
"You mean, it isn't obvious?"
His head dipped shyly. "Wull, out of practice. Thought I ought to check." His eyes danced with a soft mischief Sam had witnessed often during lulls on cases. This time, there was no doubt it was a tease.
"Honestly," she said. "I've waited long enough for this. Don't make me beg."
"The only beggar here is me. You're holding all the cards, Sam. Reputation; heart; career..." A short puff of derision slipped out through his nose. "Not that that's worth tuppence. But it would be more important... if, um... if I had a wife."
Sam could've caught a fly, had not one gentle finger popped her slack jaw shut.
"Did you just—? Is that a—?"
From the tender look in his expressive eyes, she saw it was.
Sam's hands flew to her burning cheeks. She stepped back, her hands flapping now for lack of words, forearms pumping like a bird attempting flight. She turned full circle, reached to catch his mildly startled face between her hands, and planted an enthusiastic kiss full on his lips.
"You lovely, lovely man!" she sang, and wrapped her arms around him, burying her face against his neck.
"I nearly lost you," he repeated simply, well aware it sounded like an old man's explanation. How could she know firsthand that loss left you regretting all the things you hadn't done? It wasn't fair to dwell on loss in front of Sam, and sap the very verve he loved her for. And so, instead, he tipped her face to his and kissed her, pouring in his heart and soul; and hoped that it would be enough for now.
For Sam, it was a kiss that sent a tingle to her toes. The tingle, warm at first, zipped up her legs and spine and turned into a sudden, powerful shiver that shook them both.
Christopher caught her by the shoulders.
A second shiver took her. "I shouldn't be. It's warm in here. You're warm..."
Rubbing at the slender muscles of her upper arms, he led her round his desk, and once he'd seen her seated in his swivel chair, he fetched his overcoat and tucked it round her knees.
"Might be delayed shock. Rest here. I'll get Brooke to organise a cup of tea."
His hand was on the doorknob when she stopped him.
"Christopher... my theory of icebergs..."
"Yep?" Foyle smiled—prepared himself. There'd be a lot of this: at work, at home; today, tomorrow, for a lot of years.
"When ice melts, it absorbs heat from the thing it's next to. Did you know that? We were taught about it in my third-year science lessons."
His lip quirked. "Wull, that stands to sense. It has to get its energy from somewhere; otherwise it just stays frozen."
"My theory is... well, it's silly, but..."
Sam squared herself, prepared to dazzle him with what she felt amounted to a brilliant deduction:
I'm shivering because I've melted you!
But something stopped her. Christopher would surely think she meant to say he'd taken from her... and that wasn't what she meant to say at all.
So instead she shook her head and sent him an adoring look.
"I feel so happy, Christopher."
"The iceberg theory of happiness?" His eyebrow rose over a crooked smile.
Sam grinned. "Oh that! It was a silly theory, anyway."
"Brooke. Sam's unwell. Cup of tea inside my office? Extra sugar. She can have mine."
"Sorry to hear that, Mr Foyle. I'll get Hardcastle on it now."
"Thank you, Sergeant." Foyle dipped his knees and cast a glance out of the station door, observing brightly, "Absolutely lovely day!"
Brooke swept a doubtful gaze from door to DCS and back again. The rain was coming down in sheets outside. But who was he to argue with the boss?
****** FIN ******
Get well soon, dances. Christopher has given up his sugar ration specially. :o)