A/N: Well, we've reached the end of the line, I'm afraid. It's been a pleasure writing this but all enjoyable things must come to an end. All that remains is for me to thankmy loyal readers and the people I consider friends. You're all brilliant.
'Sheelagh Murphy,' Sam said breathlessly as she reached the desk. 'Where is she?'
Turning to her right she saw Abigail barrelling towards her. Hugging her tightly, she questioned, 'How is she? How's the baby?'
'It's almost over. Come on.'
Letting her daughter drag her into a small room Sam caught sight of Sheelagh, her face seared with pain and her knuckles white with the intensity of gripping. For a moment she froze then Abi pushed her forwards and she grabbed her partner's hand. 'Sheelagh? Sorry I'm late.'
The midwife seemed to be laughing at a private joke. 'She just needs one last push.'
Sam smiled tearily. 'You hear that? We're gonna have a little boy.'
Tightening her grip, Sheelagh did as instructed, Sam terrified as the baby was whisked away. Looking over at Abi she saw the fear in her eyes then, as a shrill wail rang out, she glanced in relief at Sheelagh who asked in a whisper, 'He's okay? Really?'
The wailing child was handed back to Sam who gazed at his tiny fingers and the little shoots of hair on his head, watched him squirm and his mouth open and close. 'He's perfect.'
'Gina, you didn't have to wait.'
The Inspector shook her head. 'You go and get yourself taken hostage, someone had to be here.'
Sam smiled, indicating they should walk down the corridor away from Sheelagh's room. 'Abi was here. Any idea why?'
'I got a call from her, looking for you. Finding out where you were I thought I better get down here.'
'What was going on when you got here? Any arguments?'
Gina glanced skywards. 'I did hear some things. But you're better off talking to them about it.'
'Oi,' Sam said, touching her shoulder. 'You can't leave me with that.'
'You're not shooting the messenger on this one, Sam. Talk to Sheelagh.'
Leaving her with that thought Gina departed. Watching her retreating back Sam felt her jubilation slip away from her, quickly being replaced with a renewed sense of concern for her daughter. Making her way back to the maternity ward she found Sheelagh cradling their son, Abi was nowhere to be seen. Surveying the scene for a minute she then cleared her throat and stepped forward. 'He's not screaming at you, that's a result.'
Sheelagh smiled. 'I can't believe he's alright. I had these visions of…'
'Shush. He's fine. And I'm just sorry I went and got myself involved in a hostage situation when I should've been here with you.'
'What happened? Gina said there were gunshots.'
'We spooked him, he sprayed the wall with bullets, nearly putting one through Terry's skull in the process. He was lucky he just ended up with a concussion.'
'So did he just give it up or what? I mean, from what Gina said he was fairly tough, good with guns.'
'Let's just say our family history won him round,' Sam replied with a small smile.
'You talked your way out?' Sheelagh shook her head. 'Abi said you would.'
Being reminded of her daughter, Sam recalled what Gina had said a few minutes earlier. 'Where's she gone anyway?'
'To call Siobhan, she wants to see Bel. That's good news isn't it?'
'Yeah, it's brilliant… Listen, Gina said you two were having words when she got here. Did she say what's been going on?'
Sheelagh avoided her gaze, focussing on her tiny son. 'I was in too much of a state to ask her, I'm afraid.'
Her copper's nose wasn't giving up on that one. 'Gina implied there was something you weren't telling me. Is there?'
There was silence for a moment then Sheelagh said, 'Take him for a minute. Just to remind yourself what's at stake here.'
'I think I know that, Sheelagh,' she answered though on her partner's pleading look she took the child, thankful she'd had Belinda as practice for this moment. 'See?'
Sheelagh watched her intently. 'People transfer emotions, they dream they have feelings for someone, it helps them if they believe they have a purpose.'
'Has she met someone, is that what you're telling me?'
'No, I'm… She transferred her desire for a partner onto me.'
Sam frowned. 'What? She's in love with you?'
'She thought she was,' Sheelagh clarified. 'It was just your typical displacement technique, we talked through it.'
'And she told you this today?'
'Not exactly. It was when she was in hospital, the day of the suicide attempt.'
'That was a month ago!' As the baby squealed in her arms she lowered her tone. 'Why didn't you tell me?'
Sheelagh sat back and looked at her hands. 'What have we done in the last year, Sam? I was raped, we argued. I got pregnant, we argued. I nearly got killed in a car crash, we argued. Do you see the pattern?'
'It's been a tough year.'
'Yes! And I couldn't face rounding it off by being a single mother again.'
Sam sat down suddenly on the edge of the baby. 'What?'
'Part of me thought this would be the final straw. Either you'd think I'd done something to encourage her…'
'Oh, Sheelagh,' she interrupted. 'You can't seriously…'
'Don't tell me it's stupid, Sam. You might think you're the most rational person on earth but where betrayal's concerned you're unpredictable, impulsive even. I didn't know how to say it without… What did you want me to do?'
Stroking the cheek of their son, Sam answered, 'I suppose I know where you're coming from. But we have to get over this, not talking because we're afraid. I've been an idiot in the past, we both have; I can't guarantee it won't happen again but I think we've got more chance if we're open with each other. And Abi's my daughter, I did have a right to know why she tried to kill herself.'
'I realise that. I'm sorry.'
'Do I need to talk to her or..?'
'It'll just embarrass her,' Sheelagh replied. 'I think we settled the issue. She's not going to Glen's, I'm fairly sure she'll move back in. If you feel the need to…'
The over-politeness struck Sam and she let out an involuntary laugh. 'Would you listen to us? Acting like strangers.'
Sheelagh also smiled. 'Sorry.' After a moment she added, 'You two look beautiful together.'
Well, so we should,' Sam replied. 'You know, we should think about names… I know we narrowed it down to William or Peter but…'
'They don't suit him? Hmm, I know. What about the rest if the shortlist? Hang on, what about…'
'Benjamin?' Sam supplied quickly.
'Benjamin,' repeated Sheelagh. 'Great minds think alike. Benjamin Murphy-Nixon.'
'He's as much yours as he is mine, it's only fitting.'
Sam looked down into her son's adorable face. 'Benjamin Murphy-Nixon. You're going to be alright. We all are.'
Turning her head to the door she found Abigail leaning hesitantly against the doorframe. 'Hi, sweetheart.' Glancing at Sheelagh, who nodded, she continued, 'Do you want to grab a coffee?'
Her daughter also nodded. 'Yeah. Oh, and Benjamin's a good name.'
'I'm glad we've got your approval,' Sheelagh smiled, taking the little boy back from Sam. 'Take as long as you need.'
Sat in the canteen ten minutes later Sam eyed her daughter apprehensively. Feeling it was more appropriate for her to break the silence, she said, 'Sheelagh tells me you wanted to visit your dad.'
Abi briefly glanced up, a small flash of fear in her eyes. 'She did? Well, I … I thought I should, that's all.'
'I understand. Do you still feel that way?'
'Not really. If you'll have me…'
'We'll have you,' interrupted Sam. 'For as long as you want.' Sensing a change in Abi's mood- a lift upwards perhaps- she reached across and took a slender hand in her own. 'You had me so scared. When June Ackland told me I couldn't get my head around it, you know? Why would you do a thing like that?'
'Mum,' Abi said slowly, obviously struggling with the words. 'I know you'll want to hear every little detail but I can't go through it again. Can you believe me when I say I've sorted it all out?'
'Of course I can. Hopefully we've got past the lying stage now.' On her daughter's grimace, she hastily amended, 'What I meant was, if you tell me you're okay then I believe you. But you have to promise me, if you ever get in that state, tell me. Please, it… I couldn't bear anything happening to you.'
Abi squeezed her hand. 'Likewise. So stop trying to get yourself killed. You and Sheelagh, you're both as bad.'
Sam smiled. 'Well, I will if she will. Today was a complete accident by the way.'
'It always is, Mum! Just be careful.'
'Alright, alright. I promise I'll try.'
Despite the tiredness itching at her eyes Sheelagh couldn't tear her gaze away from Benjamin, terrified in a way that he'd disappear if she did. Footsteps heralded the return of Sam and Abi, the mother with a protective arm around her daughter's shoulders. 'Is everything okay?'
'Perfectly,' Sam answered, planting a kiss on her forehead. 'Are you going to let him sleep at all or are we aiming for an insomniac?'
Sheelagh grinned sheepishly. 'I don't want to put him down.'
'That might cause problems.'
'I was the same with Bel the first few nights,' Abi put it. 'But she fine. Besides, he's got Superwoman over there to protect him.'
'Oi, you!' Sam said argumentatively.
'Families,' muttered Sheelagh. 'Who'd have one?' To the other two she said a little more loudly, 'You're both right. He should sleep, I should sleep and you two should go home. It's been a long day.'
'Maybe so,' conceded Sam. 'But I'm not going anywhere yet.'
'Neither am I,' added Abi.
'So get used to it,' Samantha finished with a smile.
Sheelagh looked around her. 'Be careful, I might just do that.'