A/N: There aren't any flashbacks in this chapter, but stressed words and thoughts are in italics. This is the last chapter, so enjoy!
Disclaimer: If I owned LWD, Derek would do the Link Wink at least three times per episode.
Stepping into her home after a long day of work, the last thing Emily had expected was for all the lights to be off. She told herself not to worry, but her children should've been home; school was out for the day and neither of them was due in at their jobs. The lights being off didn't necessarily mean that nobody was home, but Emily knew her kids—they didn't know how to walk into a room without automatically turning the light on. She had begun to dig in her pocket for her cell phone when she saw someone moving in the dark.
"Who's there?" she asked. There was the slightest trace of fear in her voice.
"You know," a familiar voice called out in the darkness, "the fact that you didn't change the locks tells me something."
Emily followed the sound of the voice to the living room and switched on the light. She was met by the sight of her husband lounging on the couch.
"What does the restraining order I got against you tell you?" she asked, annoyance coloring her voice.
"You haven't gotten a restraining order against me," he responded, sounding a little less confidant than before.
"Yet," she clarified. "Now get out before I call the police—
"And tell them what? That I used my keys to unlock the door to a house that I'm paying the mortgage on and let myself in?"
"You're such an ass! You know that, right?" She rolled her eyes. "You offered to continue to help pay the bills, but make no mistake, I won't take any more money from you," she snapped.
Sam sighed; this wasn't the way he wanted this to go. He was supposed to be winning her back, not pissing her off further.
"I'm happy to help out. Don't be like that," he said, referring to her scowl.
"Then stop being like that," she shot back. "Ugh, why are you even here? And where are my kids?"
Sam groaned inwardly She's starting to refer to the children as "my kids"—that's never a good sign.
"Our kids are spending the night at my parent's house."
"Since I told them that I wanted to spend some time alone with you."
Lauren had been easy to get rid of; it was obvious that she wanted Sam and Emily to reconcile as much as Sam did. But Tony had been harder to convince; he wanted the details of Sam's plan before he left. His disappointment was obvious when he found out that Sam planned to wing it.
"You shouldn't have wasted your breath; this is going to be a very short meeting."
"Emily, come on," he cut in, rising from the couch.
But she held up a hand to silence him. "No. Don't you get it? I kicked you out because I don't want to see you." She started to tear up, and Sam reached for her, but she backed away from his touch. "It's bad enough that I can't make myself fall out of love with you even though I know that you have feelings for another woman. But having to see you"—she choked on a sob—"having to see you makes it worse."
"You don't understand," he tried to tell her, but she interrupted him again.
"Sam, please, just stop it." She reached for her purse and picked it up off the chair. "Now, I'm going to go upstairs and lie down for a while. And if you care about me at all you'll be gone by the time I come back down."
She sounded so upset that Sam seriously considered leaving, just so he could put her out of her misery. But, he kept hearing Casey's voice in his head, saying, "Well keep trying,"—he couldn't give up now, if he did he would always regret it.
"I kissed Casey," he blurted out, when Emily was halfway up the stairs.
Emily stopped cold, but didn't turn around. Sam could see her tighten her hold on her purse strap; it was as if she was trying to clamp down on her emotions.
"I kissed her"—he exhaled loudly—"and I hated it," he elaborated.
Emily turned around and latched her gaze onto him, but she didn't make any move towards him and it was impossible to tell what she was thinking from the blank expression on her face. She looked at him expectantly, if not encouragingly, so he continued.
"I'm not going to lie to you: I always thought that if I ever kissed Casey again it would be like this big earth-shattering-mountain-moving thing. But it wasn't." He ran a frustrated hand through his hair, searching for the right words. "The image that I had of Casey in my mind was a fantasy; I just didn't realize that until she kissed me. You"—he started walking towards the stairs—"are my reality. You are the one I want."
"Why did you still love her?" she asked suddenly.
That had not been what Sam had expected her to say. He wasn't really sure that he even understood exactly what she was asking, so he just raised his eyebrow in her direction.
"Even after you 'fell in love with me'"—she used air quotes—"at least part of you heart still belonged to her, right?" Having vowed not to lie to her anymore, Sam nodded reluctantly. "Why? This was a woman who cheated on you with your best friend. Why on earth would you still want her?"
"You never wanted Derek back after you knew what they did?"
"No. I never did."
Despite the seriousness of their conversation, Sam gave a slight smile at just how strong of a woman his wife was.
"Well, I guess you're a tougher person than I am," he said, but there was no bitterness in his voice only admiration. "I had planned my entire future around Casey," he said, attempting to explain. "She was the center of my world, and I couldn't picture my life without her. When I found out about her and Derek I was furious and hurt; I literally wanted to kill Derek. He knew how much I loved her- how many times had I told him? But with Casey…"
"You blamed him for all of it, didn't you?" she asked, realization dawning on her. "You thought, and maybe still think, that he initiated it. You think that Derek seduced her?" she asked incredulously. In her opinion, neither of them was any guiltier than the other. However, Casey's part in it did hurt a little more, because they had been friends long before she had started dating Derek.
Sam shrugged. "Honestly, I don't know what to think anymore. But back then, when I first found out, I was willing to forgive her. She was my life, and I couldn't imagine living without her."
"And now?" she asked, voice trembling.
"Now I feel the same way about you. But with you it's even more intense, because I have been living without you and I'm miserable.
He sounded so earnest that Emily had to stop herself from running down the stairs and hugging him.
"Sam," she said, only to be interrupted.
"I am miserable," he repeated. "You, Tony, Lauren, you guys are my life now. Yes, I lied to you, a lot. Yes, I lied about being in love with you in the beginning. But I am telling the truth now." He got down on his knees, kneeling before the steps. "Emily, I'm begging you, please take me back. Can't we just pick up where we left off?"
"We left off in an awful place," she said, shaking her head. "Our marriage wasn't good. Whether you meant to or not, you were constantly hurting me and our kids. I don't"—she wiped impatiently at her eyes—"don't want to go back there."
"Then let's start over," he suggested frantically, desperately, as he stood. "We can go as slow as you want. It'll be like redoing our entire relationship."
She eyed him skeptically. "Like what- go out on dates and stuff? Like we were never married?"
"Exactly." He was really starting to warm up to this idea; it could actually work. Emily may have sounded skeptical, but she wasn't flat out rejecting the plan and Sam took that as a good sign. "We'll have a weekly date on Saturdays, or something. I'll do everything right this time, I swear. I know that you can't forget the past and how I've hurt you, but let me try to fix things. Please."
She looked poised to retort, but Sam kept speaking.
"Emily Davis,"—he was laying it on thick by using her maiden name, but he had to pull out all the stops—"will you go out with me Saturday?"
Emily was still hurt, and she was mad as hell at Sam. But, God help her, she loved him. Dropping her purse, she ran down the few stairs that separated them and threw her self in his arms.
Grinning widely, she simply said, "yes."
Two months had passed, and technically Emily still should have been grinning. Every date she had with Sam had been better than the last. They went to silly movies that were marketed towards teenagers, ate out at cheap burger joints, and walked through the park. Sam wasn't trying to impress her or trick her into a relationship again; this time around everything was pure. Everything was real. So really Emily should've been wearing the same smile that she'd had on her face since the day she jumped in his arms, but instead she was frowning, and frowning hard.
Lauren watched her mother stomp towards the coat hook and retrieve her jacket. Glancing at her watch, she eyed her mother in confusion.
"Mom, isn't it a little early for one of your dates?"
Lauren had to admit that she found the fact that her parents were separated but went on weekly dates a little odd, but if it would get her father back into the house sooner then she was all for it.
"Argh," she fairly growled, "I wish I was going out with your father."
"Well then where are you going?"
"To meet Casey," she said unenthusiastically. "She called this morning asking me to meet her for coffee—
"And you agreed?" Lauren asked in disbelief.
"I know- what was I thinking, right?" Lauren nodded in agreement. "It was pure stupid curiosity. I really can't fathom why she would want to talk to me."
"She can't possibly think that you two are friends now, can she?"
"I don't know what goes through that woman's head. Maybe she wants me to thank her in person," Emily guessed, shrugging.
Emily didn't even have to think about her answer. "Don't get me wrong, I don't like Casey. I will thank her, though, and I'll mean it. She did me a favor, and even though it doesn't even begin to put a real dent in the debt she has with me, she didn't have to help me at all. So . . . I guess I am going to thank her."
"If that's what you think is best then I guess that's what you should do," Lauren said, supporting her mother's decision, but still sounding a little unsure.
"Don't sound so worried"—she opened the front door—"I probably won't even be gone that long."
Lauren started to lighten up- they probably won't even exchange more than five words. "I'm not worried. But I hope you've prepared yourself for an incredibly awkward encounter."
"It can't be any more awkward than our last encounter," Emily said wryly.
"Well, have fun," Lauren said, chuckling.
"Ha ha," Emily said, rolling her eyes at her daughter before leaving.
Leaning back into the couch, Lauren couldn't help but sigh contentedly- life was good. Her mother was going to make semi-peace with her arch enemy; her parents were happy again; even her brother had begun to unwind. Yup, her life was good; she just hoped that everyone else out in the world was just as happy as she was.
A/N: If you're reading this then you probably stuck with me and my fic until the bitter end, and I'd just like to say, thank you for that. This is the first multi-chapter fanfic that I've completed (notice I wrote "completed" not "started") and that is due largely to the feedback that I've gotten- the encouraging words provided by you guys kept me updating.
IMPORTANT: I purposely left the ending sorta open. I was thinking about writing a sequel/companion piece that would be set up a lot like this fic, but it would focus on Derek and Casey and their past. Sam and especially Emily would be in the story, but they wouldn't be the center. Let me know what you guys think of that idea.
Reviews Are Always Welcome!