Title: FW 1945: Not Fish They Are After
Disclaimer: Foyle's War was created by Anthony Horowitz, and the characters of Foyle and Samantha jointly created by Mr. Horowitz, Mr. Michael Kitchen and Ms. Honeysuckle Weeks. No infringement intended.
Response/Feedback: Always appreciated!
A/N: Set in July 1945 around the time when Foyle is waiting for his replacement DCS and Sam is at the guest house. Does not tie in with canon. Just for fun.
Written for the incorrigible (her word) GiuliettaC on the occasion of her birthday, though she had to help polish it up. Many thanks!
There have been some exceptionally hot days in England during this summer of 2016. No doubt many of our British friends have sought out a cool, quiet, shady spot by a river for a little refreshing relief from the heat.
"Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after."
Henry David Thoreau
It had commenced with a minor mystery, continued as a comedy of errors, contained a touch of farce, and concluded in, well, a love story. The errors were his, arising when he'd associated in his mind two quite separate events and mistakenly linked them together. Something he'd never have done in a police investigation, but in his private life… Well, this had proven, if he needed any more proof, that, in matters of the heart, he was as fallible as the next chap.
The minor mystery: an otherwise quiet Friday afternoon in July was interrupted when a clattering noise of something falling onto the pavement drew Foyle's attention from reading the post. And then he could've sworn he'd heard Sam's voice outside his front door. Except it was not very likely to be hers since the feminine tones seemed to be cursing, albeit in a plaintive way. He'd left his chair, setting aside a letter from Andrew, and gone to open the door. Nobody there.
But he thought he'd caught a glimpse of movement fleeing around the corner, and then his eye had fallen on a scattering of flakey crumbs at his feet. Odd. Had someone used his front steps as a resting place after climbing the slope up Steep Lane, and partaken of some pastry they'd obtained at the shops? It actually wasn't unusual for pedestrians to sit and rest there, the first convenient seat at the top of the road, but they didn't usually leave anything behind.
He'd shut the door, put it out of his mind and gone back to his reading. Andrew's letter said he'd soon be down from London for a visit, and that he had some personal news he believed his father would be particularly pleased to hear.
The next morning, Saturday, after he'd finished his uninspired breakfast of tea and toast and was looking over the newspaper in the sitting room, there was a knock at his door. He opened it and there stood Sam in a pretty, floral-patterned, belted summer frock, beaming a friendly smile and bearing a cloth-wrapped package. A faint blush coloured her cheeks and she was a little out of breath, no doubt from the climb up the hill.
"Good morning! I've brought you a pie!"
"Er...oh! Well. Unexpected. Do come in."
He stood back and she slipped past him into the hall, continuing, "It was so kind of you to bring us the trout last week, I felt I ought to reciprocate."
Following her to the kitchen he protested mildly, "But... I had them, too…"
"Well, eventually. It was so embarrassing that neither of us had turned the oven up. Basic communication with Adam isn't always successful, I've found."
"Didn't you...em...'inadvertently' mention he'd worked in code breaking?" He turned and faced his former driver across the table with an ironically raised eyebrow.
Sam grinned, "Yes."
Then went on, "It seems I have the wrong code. We're often talking at cross purposes."
She'd set the pie down on the table and now uncovered it with a flourish and a smile of modest pride. It was still warm from the oven.
Foyle smiled, too. Not only because it looked very good - a golden lattice crust and a generous filling of red cherries that set his mouth watering - but also because he suspected this might be at least the second one she'd baked in two days. Tilting his head, he spied a dent in the tin pie plate.
Sam explained breezily,
"There's a neglected old Morello cherry tree behind the guest house. I picked the best of the lot. And I found a large glass bottle of pre-War sugar hidden in an upper cupboard, along with other supplies no one had bothered to look for. Can you imagine?"
His smile grew as he pictured her up a stepladder and down on hands and knees, diligently rummaging through every corner of the guest house.
Then he heaved a mock sigh,
"Wull, hoarding food is still an offence, but if no one knew it was there and the place has been vacant since the aunt passed away, difficult to lay a charge against anyone. ...Sso you're safe."
She gave him a sidelong glance bordering on an eyeroll and they both smirked.
"...This looks wonderful, Sam. Thank-you. Did you, er, bake one for the others...?"
He raised his eyes to hers, and saw they were positively sparkling with good spirits. He wouldn't let on what he suspected about yesterday's mystery.
"Yyyes, yes, I did. Though…, I may not be there much longer." She said lightly.
"Oh?" His brows bent with the question.
Sam stared down at the pie, sobering a little,
"Well, the guest house seems rather a hopeless case, I'm afraid, and I wondered how much help I could really be to Adam. It...wasn't a matter of letting him down. More a case of whether I wanted to sink with him. I decided I didn't." She glanced up at him, "I...just felt the situation wasn't my responsibility. My suggestion was he should sell the place and try to get some value out of it before it crashes down around his ears."
Outwardly Foyle showed only a mild friendly interest, but inwardly he was surprised at the sudden buoyant sensation in his heart.
Sam looked at him in appeal and asked quietly, "Do you think I was wrong...to…?"
He raised his eyebrows, "W'oh...it's...not my place to comment."
Nonetheless Sam continued to defend her position, with an air of summing up,
"Adam's a pleasant young man, but… To tell the truth, we've had several disagreements. Well, rows, actually. I don't understand him. I don't think he understands himself. I felt it would be best to leave him to it."
Contradicting his previous remark, he said with a moue, "Mm...Better to come to that realisation sooner rather than later..."
Foyle recalled Sam making a similar confession to him a few years ago, when she had rejected the marriage offer of a young American soldier. He wondered, in passing, if she had any girlfriends to discuss such things with. Surely he wasn't her only confidant in matters of the heart.
And, raising the curtain on the comedy of errors, he wondered if her decision regarding the guest house and its owner, and her coming to tell him about it now, didn't have something to do with Andrew's imminent arrival. Had they exchanged letters, or talked and reconciled on the phone? Was Sam about to give his son a second chance?
"Yes, that's what I thought."
It seemed she was answering his unspoken question, and he smiled knowingly at her.
Sam met his eyes with gratitude, then concluded,
"So here I am."
She watched him expectantly.
"...Here you are. Withth...a pie." Foyle pursed his lips, amused.
He'd been about to add, 'Andrew will be pleased,' in a little display of perspicacity, but was prevented by the ringing of the telephone. When he'd returned from the call - it was Hugh inviting him for a round of golf next week - he found Sam had kept herself busy. 'Ingratiating herself as a prospective daughter-in-law?' He allowed himself a private smirk. She had washed up his breakfast things and given the kitchen a light going over. Now she stood leaning back against the counter, quite at home, and asked him casually,
"Have you any plans for the day?"
"Just, em, get the shopping in. Perhaps the river later."
"Well, I can help you with the shopping." She replied with eagerness, and then hinted broadly, "It's expected to be quite warm this afternoon. The riverbank would be lovely and cool and quiet, wouldn't it?"
Normally he'd put up at least a token show of resistance to her angling for an invitation, but if Andrew's news was what he surmised, he'd best get used to being on more 'familial' terms with Samantha.
"Erm...If you've nothing else to do…" he agreed, then with a pointed look added for good measure, "'Quiet' being the operative word, mind you."
Her face lit up and to show she understood, she made a key locking motion of her fingers over her lips. Foyle gave in to a fond, inverted smile.
They'd selected and bargained and queued at various shops for a couple of hours, Foyle noting that the shopkeepers seemed to find better offerings when Sam did the talking. Everyone they met remarked on the fine weather or later began complaining of the heat. As they finished at the greengrocer's even Foyle was pressing a handkerchief to the sheen on his brow.
They brought his purchases home, and then Sam made up a picnic lunch and a flask of tea to share by the river. Throughout their morning errands Foyle hadn't mentioned Andrew and neither had Sam. He would leave it to the two of them to make any announcement regarding their plans, whether simply a trial period or something more definite.
After choosing a few likely flies from his tackle box, and assembling his creel, waders and rod, he selected a slim novel from his bookshelves for Sam to read while he fished, popped his old green trilby on his head, and they set off companionably in his car.