Author's Note - I have a confession to make - I take a horrible amount of time to actually write and finish a fic. I first started writing this early in April, during the whole fake infidelity thing. I was quite irritated with Noah, as I am now, and I kept noticing how nice Sam and Fancy looked together, and how protective he seemed to be of her. And I just had to write a story about them that didn't involve choking and punishment!sex. 'Cause really. Anyway, it took me a really, really long time to finish it, and the craze is Luis/Fancy now, but still. I love this too much not to post it.

Standard disclaimer applies, as always. I should probably point out that I don't own Ed Green, either.

It's four-thirty in the morning when the sound of the doorbell resonates throughout the house. They're both out of bed in a flash, pulling on their robes as they clamor noisily down the stairs. No one makes house calls at four-thirty in the morning for any remotely good reason, they know.

There're a number of people whose injuries could warrant a visit this early in the morning - Ethan could have relapsed into his coma; something could have happened to Jessica on the streets; Kay, or Maria, could be sick, and the same could go for Gwen or Ashley. But it's not any of them. He knows who it is before he answers the door.

Agent Morrison and a particularly icy-looking female FBI agent stand on his doorstep; they put on their "condolences" faces once they see him. No. Not that face. No. No no no no no.

"Chief Bennett," Agent Morrison clears his throat, "I'm so sorry to bother you this early in the morning. I'm afraid I have some bad news about your son, Noah."

It wasn't supposed to end like this. They were supposed to get married, someday, and have children, make happy memories togetherbefore they died in their sleep after many blissful years together. He wasn't supposed to die now, at twenty-six. He wasn't supposed to die on another continent an ocean away. He wasn't supposed to die with her believing that he had betrayed her.

She nervously fusses with his hair. This is something that mothers are supposed to do for their prematurely dead sons, but his mother is nowhere to be found, and Fancy is more than willing to shoulder the burden. God, his hair. Always so messy, so unruly. It had driven her mad while turning her on at the same time.

"How are you doing?" She recognizes Sam's voice, hears the words he's saying, but it takes her a few minutes to comprehend their meaning.

"He wrote me a letter." That stupid curl. It just won't lie flat. "Agent Morrison gave it to me. It was all a lie. He'd never left me for Maya. It was all a ruse."

A stricken look passes over his face for just a moment, but then it's gone, only his fatherly hand on her shoulder remaining. "It's not your fault, Fancy."

Goddamned curl. It still won't lie flat. "I should have trusted him. I should have known." She tucks the curl behind one of his ears, and it finally remains in place.

He turns her around. "I was his father, Fancy. I should have known better, too. He fooled us. He fooled us both."

She shakes her head. "Why didn't I believe him? Why?" He pulls her into his arms, and she buries her face in his jacket, her mascara-tinted tears dampening the black fabric. "Why, Sam?"

All he can do is stroke her hair in response.

So many pretty little glasses, all lined up in a row. She thinks there are four, but she can't quite tell; her vision keeps swimming every which way, and she can't focus well enough to discern if there are four or fiveslender glasses standing tall on the countertop. Wait, is that a sixth glass?

It's a comforting little ritual - lick, swallow, bite. It doesn't seem to be working quite the way she'd hoped for, though; that gnawing, empty space inside of her chest seems to be increasing, not decreasing. Damn tequila. She'll have to try something stronger.

The bartender says something to her, and she halfway expects to see Noah's face when she looks up at him. So stupid. He's dead. He'll never work here again. Get over it.

"Fancy?" She looks up and sees two Sams before her, both quite drunk, both quite annoyed to find her in such a similar state. "What are you doing here?"

"Drinking away my sorrows," she answers candidly, shaking more salt onto her wrist; much of it falls onto the countertop, adorning its black surface like glitter. "Same as what you're doing."

"I," he slurs, taking the seat beside hers, "am a grown man."

"And I," she counters, taking this fifth (sixth? seventh?) shot of tequila into her hand, "am a grown woman."

He sighs. "He wouldn't have wanted you to act like this."

"And I didn't want him to die, but he went and did that anyway, didn't he?" she snarls, readying the lime.

He snatches the shot of tequila from her hand and downs it in one swallow, grimacing at its strong flavor. Wiping his mouth with the back of his hand, he manages, "I'm taking you home."

He grabs her by the arm and yanks her up off the stool; she pulls back, freeing herself from his grasp. "You're not my father," she spits out, vaguely feeling like a bratty teenager through the alcoholic haze engulfing her brain.

"No," he menaces, "I'm not. I'm the Chief of Police, and as such, I'm taking you home."

She reaches out and pokes him in the chest, and he stumbles backwards. "You're just as drunk as I am," she laughs, nearly falling off one of her stiletto heels.

He brushes himself off, gruffly replying, "I'll call a cab." He sighs, then whispers, "Please, Fancy. Let me take you home." He places his hand on her shoulder, and she melts at this sudden kindness. She always was a strange type of drunk.

"All right," she nods, taking his outstretched arm. She leans her weight heavily against him, suddenly feeling the full effects of the liquor. He wraps her arm around his neck, slides his hand behind her back, and, together, they stumble out into the dark night.

A giggle escapes between her red, red lips as she attempts to climb her way up the endless main staircase. "I am soooooooooooooooooooooooo drunk," she slurs, laughs. How many shots of tequila did she have, again? Four? No, maybe it was five. Yes, it was five. Or was it six? Maybe it was six.

She hears a rustling from behind, and suddenly she's floating. "It'll take you years if you do it that way," Sam's voiceexplains, tightening his hold, his tequila-scented breath coming out in puffs in her face. She wraps her arms around his neck in acceptance of his generous offer.

Ten minutes and innumerable stumbles, trips, and bumps into walls later, he's tucking her in beneath her fluffy beige comforter, pushing the loose strands of blonde hair behind her ears. But his sweet, paternal gestures are lost on her - the tequila's failed, and the hurt is threatening to overwhelm her. "Why does this have to hurt so much, Sam?" she mumbles, looking up at his worn and weathered face for an answer to her childish question.

He can think of no reply but to press a gentle kiss to her forehead. He smells like Noah, and the memories that this scent brings threaten to send her over the edge. It all just hurts so much; she's going to break, and not even all the king's horses and all the king's men will be able to put her back together again.

And so she does the only thing she can think to do - she sits up and brushes her lips against his. He doesn't respond at first, remains still as a statue, but soon begins to reciprocate. His tongue delves into her mouth, and his hands slide down to her waist, up underneath her shirt. It's not until she begins tugging at his belt that he pulls away.

"This is wrong," he whispers, immobilizing her hands at the wrist with his own larger, work-roughened hands. "You're drunk." His chest heaves as his flushed face slowly reverts to its prior color. "And I'm drunk. And you're hurting." He traces the edge of her youthful face with his thumb. "And you're my fiancée's daughter." His head dips in lower. "And it would be wrong."

She nods. She knows this, somewhere, in her alcohol-soaked brain. But she hurts so badly, and when he was kissing her, touching her, the pain had slowly started to dissipate. She can't go on like this any more. She can't stand the constant pain. She just needs to be free.

They both move at the same time. She blinks and their clothes are gone, her beige, Egyptian-cotton sheets covering them both. He presses soft kisses into her neck, and she closes her eyes and it's Noah kissing her, Noah loving her, Noah's thick hair that her fingers are grasping for dear life. The pain is gone; she feels only bliss in its wake.

In the back of her mind, she knows that it's Sam making love to her, not Noah. But with her eyes shut tight, he just feels so much like Noah, sounds so much like Noah, that she can almost fool herself into believing that it's Noah inside of her.

There will be hell to pay in the morning, she knows, and the truth it's light will reveal. But, for now, she will settle for the lie.

She collapses onto his chest, breathless, spent; he closes his eyes as his aching lungs struggle to take in much-needed oxygen. He wraps his fingers in her hair, slightly damp with sweat, and she rests her head against his bosom, tracing delicate circles there with one long, thin nail.

She listens to his heart thump, slower now, beneath her flushed cheek; he feels her warm puffs of staccato breath whisper across his bare skin. A single beam of moonlight penetrates her lacy, beige curtains, casting an ethereal glow over their sated bodies.

And they sleep.

They've both taken part in enough one-night stands, suffered through the ensuing mornings after, to know that this morning after could be much, much worse. There are no tears, no screams; only silence can be heard as he retrieves his clothes from the various locations around her room that they'd been relegated to in the previous night's passion. He makes no attempt to hide himself from her, and she doesn't bother to avert her eyes.

Once he's fully dressed, he smiles at her, genuinely, and she smiles back. Her smile is forced, however, not quite reaching her eyes, and he takes pause at this. And as he furtively makes his way down the mansion's many corridors, dodging and hiding from maids and occupants, his own smile crumbles to ash.

A small sliver of light falls across her bedroom floor, and she knows before she even looks up from her position in her comfy, cream-colored armchair that it's him. She stands, goes to embrace him, but he takes hold of her shoulders, keeping her at arm's length. She waits for him to speak, say anything, but the only sound she can hear is the beating of her own heart, coupled with his own heavy, labored breathing.

"You came," she breaks the silence. The statement is matter-of-fact, not one of surprise or regret.

"You called," he replies. Her perfume smells so good. Like jasmine, he thinks, but not quite. Different, somehow.

She nods, leaning into him. "I did," she whispers, resting her forehead against his chest, feeling his heart pounding beneath. She fingers the collar of his shirt, stiff with starch. Even at one in the morning, he put on fresh clothes to come and see her.

"Fancy," he moans, pulling away. "We can't do this again. I'm engaged to your mother." He lightly brushes her lips with his thumb. "And you dated my son." They both pause here, the painful memories of the boy who brought them together washing over both. "And my other son is your brother," he adds, sighing heavily. "And we just can't."

"I know," she whispers.

"Then why did you call me?"

"Why did you come?"

He is frozen; hers is a valid question. Why is he here? He's unsure of the answer himself. He should just leave; he should leave and go back to his fiancée, and forget that any of this ever happened.

This is what he should do, but the longer he stands there, her body so close to his own, the more he realizes that he wants, no, needs, this. He places his hands on either side of her face and pulls her closer, crushes his lips against hers. Hereyelids flutter shutas she moans, melting into him; it's enough to send him over the edge.

He can still leave. He can still go back home, to Ivy. But he can't break away; the deeper he goes, the more useless resisting becomes.

She'd felt terribly guilty going through with it after so many weeks of bedding her groom. She'd suggested her sister, tried everything short of breaking down in tears and begging, but, in the end, she had seen that hopeful look in her mother's eyes. It was the hope that she might be one of the lucky ones, might, in the end, have her happily ever after, and Fancy hadn't been able to destroy that hope. So she'd donned the deep green dress and stood at the altar by her mother's side, simultaneously the maid of honor and silent seductress.

She's been smiling all day, her curved lips masking her inner turmoil, and she doesn't think she can do it anymore. She looks around the crowded reception with a dull aching in her chest. She'd wanted all of this for herself, for her and Noah, so badly. She knows she should stop it - he's gone. She has to move on, but she can't. She feels as if she's stuck in one place, unable to move forward or backward, only down, down, down...

And then she feels his hand on her elbow, turns to look up into those familiar blue eyes, so full of concern. "Are you okay?"

She looks back at the crowd. "It's just..." she whispers, fighting back tears, "I'd... I'd dreamt of this... for Noah and me."

"I know," he murmurs, gently rubbing her bare back. "I'd had visions of you two in a situation similar to this, myself."

She looks back at her brand new stepfather with tears threatening to spill down her cheeks and muss her extremely detailed make-up. "Why did this happen, Sam?" she asks desperately. "Why couldn't Noah and I have had this, too? Was it something we did - something I did?" He shushes her, pulling her into his arms. "Why?"

She's so broken, this new lamb of his. He looks around the room - everybody's so busy, wrapped up in the latest gossip, in the blushing bride, to notice this lost little soul here. So he takes her by the hand and leads her through the church's corridors until he finds an empty room far enough away from the reception. There are no tables, no chairs; he presses her up against the wall, and she lifts her skirts up around her waist and opens herself to him. Their muffled moans echo throughout the stone hallways, away from attentive ears.

Five minutes later they're both back at the party, smiling and laughing as if nothing has happened.

"Do you love me?"

He stares at her profile, illuminated by the pale moonlight streaming through her French doors. Her face is impassive as she gazes outside with those clear blue eyes of hers, now clouded with confusion and turmoil. Try as he might, he cannot read her, ascertain what it is she wants to hear. He sighs, fumbling with the edge of her lacy, frappuccino-colored sheets, struggling to choose between the brutal truth and the comforting lie. 'Honesty is the best policy,' the old cliché goes. So, averting his eyes to his hands, he admits, "No, I don't."

She doesn't react to this confession at first, still staring out at the moonlight-draped grounds with such haunted eyes. Finally, she whispers, "I don't love you either." She lets her curtain fall back into place and climbs back into bed with him, taking his large, callused hand into her own soft, tanned hand. "And I don't understand," she murmurs, tears brimming in her eyes as she rubs circles around his wedding ring with her thumb, "why we're doing this. I just..." He pulls her into his arms, softly kissing the crown of her head, rubbing her bare upper arms. "Why, Sam?"

He takes her face into his hands and wipes away her tears with his thumbs, then leans in and kisses her on the mouth, deep. He moves his lips to her jaw, then the hollow between her shoulder and neck, and she gasps, clings to him as if she's drowning, and he's her life preserver. But her unanswered question weighs them down, threatening to sink them to the bottom; he pretends not to notice, and she pretends not to care.

"What's wrong, Ivy?" her sister-in-law asks, carefully setting down her cup of tea on its matching saucer. "You seem... edgy."

The older blonde straightens her spine at this, forcing a cheery expression on her face. "Me? No, no, Gwen, I'm fine," she assures. "Really. Everything's just peachy." As if to exemplify this statement, she reaches out and tickles Ashley's tummy, and the baby giggles gleefully.

"No," Fancy drawls slowly, wrapping her hands around her teacup, feeling its warmth seep into her cold, cold fingers, "it's not. You're as transparent as cellophane, mother."

Ivy sighs and slowly traces the rim of her teacup with her finger, avoiding the gazes of the two women and baby seated at her kitchen table. "It's just," she starts, fumbling for the words to express her fears, "I... I think Sam might be cheating on me."

Fancy freezes, her lips pursed, teacup between them; Gwen's hand falls uselessly to the table, Ashley's bottle making a thunking noise as it comes in contact with the hard wood. "No way," Gwen declares, leaning forward in her chair. "Sam's not like that, Ivy; he's like Ethan - good, noble. He'd never cheat on you."

"That's what I thought," Ivy explains, wiping a tear from her eye. "But he... he keeps getting these calls on his cell phone late at night a few times a week. And he just... he just gets up, and gets dressed in fresh clothes, and then he disappears, and I don't see him until he gets home from work."

"Have you asked him about it?" Gwen inquires, bouncing her daughter on her knee to quiet the fussy baby. When her mother-in-law nods, she asks, "Well, what did he say?"

Chewing her thumbnail, she responds, "He just said that it was work-related. Something about it being a really important undercover case, I think. I mentioned it in passing to Luis one day, and he didn't seem to know what I was talking about."

"Well," Gwen points out, handing Ashley her bottle, "maybe Luis really doesn't know anything about it. Maybe it's that undercover."


"Ivy, I really don't think that Sam would be one to cheat on his wife. It just seems so unlike him." Gwen reassures.

"I suppose..."

"He loves you." The two older women turn towards her wearing slightly surprised expressions, as if her silence had caused them to forget about her presence; she, herself, is slightly surprised to hear her voice out in the open. "He loves you so much, Mom," she continues. "He'd never intentionally hurt you."

Her mother smiles a true, wide smile and pats the two women's hands. "Thank you both, so much," she tearfully whispers. "I can't believe I was so silly. I don't know what I'd do without you two."

The diamond on her mother's wedding ring catches the overhead light, reflecting it directly into her eyes, blinding her, and she wishes that she would just die there and then.

She sits straight up in bed one night while he's pretending to sleep. "What the hell am I doing?" she asks the open room, her covers falling to a bunch around her waist.

"What are you talking about?" he asks, but she ignores his question, rambling on over his words in this panicky, high-pitched voice that scares the shit out of him.

"I didn't love him," she mumbles, turning toward him. "We weren't even together for a year, and we were always breaking up and making up every other second. I didn't love him; I couldn't have."

He reaches out to comfort her. "Fancy..." he begins in the softest of voices, but she pulls away, looks him square in the eye.

"Why am I here?" she asks him, her voice taking on a pleading quality. "I couldn't have loved him. I shouldn't be here. You shouldn't be here; we shouldn't be doing this. I shouldn't be fucking my mother's husband." There are tears streaming down her face now, more than he's ever seen her cry before. "Why am I here, Sam?"

He pulls her close and presses his lips to her cheeks, kissing away her tears, but more flow down, as if they'd always been there, and always will be. He kisses her over, and over, moves atop her, inside her, and the tears keep coming, soaking them both. But it's not until she climaxes, until she cries out his name for the first time, that he realizes that he's failed her.

"You're leaving."

She looks up from her hot pink suitcase, overflowing with shoes and miniskirts and tank tops and other girly things, her face blank, eyes tired and worn. She folds one last pair of jeans and places them atop the pile of clothes, then remains still. She sucks in a deep breath, braces her hands against the mound. "I can't stay," she whispers. "I... I just can't anymore."

She closes the suitcase top and tries to zip it shut, but there's too much inside; she pulls and pulls at the zipper, but it refuses to budge. Tears brim in her eyes, threatening to cascade down those soft cheeks of hers, ruining her make-up, and a cry frees itself from her throat as she struggles with the suitcase. He moves forward to help her, but she pushes him away, the tears coming faster, the sobs louder. Finally, the zipper makes its short journey around the suitcase, and she, her task completed, begins to shake violently.

"Fancy," he whispers, pulling her into his embrace. He presses a gentle kiss onto her forehead and lovingly strokes her hair, and her quaking slows; he pulls away to meet her red-rimmed eyes. "Oh, Fance." He trails his thumb down the side of her face until he meets her chin; he leans in and kisses those scarlet lips of hers, slow yet deep.

She closes her eyes and sighs, gasps. Noah is kissing her again. Noah's fingers are entwined in her hair. Noah's hand is fumbling with her bra.

Sam's tongue is darting behind her earlobe. Sam's hot breath is sending shivers down her spine. Sam's body is pressed up against her own.

Her eyes fly open, and she pushes him away. A look somewhat less than surprise passes over his face. "Please," she begs him, softly. "We can't. I can't."

His right hand still rests on the back of her head, tangled in those stunning blonde locks of hers. He slides it forward and brushes away a stray tear with his thumb; she rests her head against it, as if it were a pillow. "I can't bear to see you suffer," he whispers.

She closes her eyes and nods, weakly. She opens them again. "Then, please," she whispers, "let me go."

He nods, and his arm falls to his side, limp, dangling as if there are no bones within. She pulls her luggage off her bed and drags it to the door, but stops. She looks back at him, so broken, so destroyed, for several moments, before finally whispering, "Thank you, Sam."

And then she's gone.

It's four-thirty in the morning when the sound of the doorbell resonates throughout the house. They're both out of bed in a flash, pulling on their robes as they clamor noisily down the stairs. No one makes house calls at four-thirty in the morning for any remotely good reason, they know.

There're a number of people whose injuries could warrant a visit this early in the morning - Ethan could have relapsed into his coma; something could have happened to Jessica on the streets; Kay, or Maria, could be sick, and the same could go for Gwen or Jane. But it's not any of them. He knows who it is before he answers the door.

Julian stands on his doorstep, eyes red, face pink and raw. It takes him a minute to realize that the great Julian Crane has been crying.

"Julian?" Ivy asks, inching closer to her husband. Sam wraps his arm around her protectively. "What's wrong? Why are you here?"

He wipes at his nose with his handkerchief, and he makes a noise that sounds vaguely like a sniffle. "Ivy..." he begins.

But she can already sense what the remainder of the sentence will be. "No," she whispers. "No, Julian, don't say it." She looks up at him. "Sam, please, tell him not to say it. He can't say it." Her eyes are begging him. "They're fine, Sam. They're all fine. My babies, they're all okay. Tell him, Sam."

"Ivy," Julian begins again, "it's... it's Fancy."

"No!" she screams. "No, Julian, she's fine. She's in New York, enjoying the nightlife. She's fine."

"No, Ivy, she's..."

"Don't say it!" she cries. She lunges at him, beating her fists against his chest. "She's fine, Julian! She's fine!"

Julian grabs her wrists, and together they collapse to the ground. "No, Ivy, she's not," he sobs. "She's... she's gone, Ivy. She's gone."

She turns back to Sam, who has joined them kneeling on the porch. He pulls her into his arms, like he'd done for that beautiful girl so many times before. "My baby girl, Sam," she moans. "Oh, God, my baby."

He just pulls her closer; he doesn't even consider that she might hear that his heart has stopped beating.

The title of Chief of Police comes with its own numerous perks; when backed by those of the Crane family, they become innumerable.

The first thing out of his wife's mouth, after she has calmed down enough to form coherent sentences, is that he must to go to New York. "You're the chief of police here," she manages out between great, gasping sobs. "The police there... they'll let you make sure that she's... she's handled all right. It's a code, or something."

He's about to protest when Julian chimes with his own support for such a plan of action, and Sam is reluctant to break the hearts of the two deeply grieving parents. So he agrees.

"Sam," Ivy whispers as he's about to climb inside the Crane limo. He pauses, and she presses a quick kiss to his lips. "Bring my baby back to me safely, okay?" There's such hurt in her eyes that he suppresses any desire to tell her how he'd failed her darling child.

He flies in the Crane jet to New York in record time; there, another limo is waiting to take him to the hotel. He finds an assortment of liquors in the mini fridge, and he gulps down a small glass for courage.

The chic exterior of the hotel is lit by blue light; it dances across the building's detailed architecture in time with the swirling of the beacons. It had been a familiar sight to him, once; now it is foreign, unearthly.

"Chief Bennett?" A tall African American man, maybe thirty-five, dressed in a suit approaches him, police badge extended. "Ed Green, NYPD," he introduces. "I've been assigned to Ms. Crane's case." Green pauses for a moment before inquiring, "I'm sorry, what was your relationship with Fancy?"

Sam chuckles inwardly. Such a simple question, yet so many possible answers. What was he to her? Lover? Protector? Near father-in-law? He glances up and sees police officers milling about inside a few of the windows. Investigating the crime scene. The murder scene. Fancy's murder scene.

Finally, he answers. "I'm her stepfather."

The younger man rests his hand on his shoulder. "I'm so sorry for your loss."

Sam just nods, numb. "Do you know who did it? Who... who killed her?"

The detective nods. "His name is Ulysses Black. His little sister, Aggie, idolized Fancy, apparently. In her quest to epitomize her idol, she developed anorexia and died. Black blamed Fancy."

He feels a wave of nausea wash over him. "Fancy wasn't anorexic," he manages out, fighting back the vomit rising in his throat.

"I know, but this guy was pretty sick," Ed explains. "He saw her walking back to her suite and followed her inside; he's an ex-Marine, so he's not lacking in stealth. Once she got her door open, he ambushed her and trapped her inside." The detective pauses, unsure as of whether or not to continue. "He kicked and raped her before he killed her; then he called 911 and confessed everything."

He's going to be sick, right there, all over the street. Why did he let her go? Why didn't he make her stay? Why wasn't he there to protect her?

"If... if you want to take a quick look at the apartment, at her, she's still upstairs. The ME hasn't moved her yet."

ME. Medical examiner. Coroner. They'll examine her before they release her to the funeral home. And then they'll bury her. Beneath the ground. Because she's dead. Gone. His failure.

The swirling blue lights are barely visible from the top floor. Inside the suite, everything appears fine, nothing amiss; only the bloody and bruised woman sprawled across the carpet hints that something is not quite right here.

She's naked; her torn and tattered clothes lie beneath her, to her side, stained red. Her head is lying at a strangle angle, neck snapped; the overhead lightilluminates the two dried trails of tears running from her chin to their origin at her open, empty eyes.

He sinks to the floor next to her, his legs suddenly unable to support his weight. For all of his efforts, all of his attempts to save her, it's come to this - him kneeling beside her broken body.

She'd saved him when he was too busy saving others to realize that he, himself, was falling fast, and all he'd ever wanted was to return the favor. She'd made it look so easy, so effortless.

This Black fellow has, too, because the corners of her mouth are turned upward, slightly. Ulysses Black, her crazed, hate-filled murderer, has saved her, and he, Sam Bennett, chief of police, has failed.

He bends over and brushes her hair away before pressing his lips to her tepid forehead. "I'm so sorry," he whispers.

He places his hand over her face, and when he removes it, her eyes are closed.