My first PM fic and my first fanfic in a long time. I hope you enjoy it.

Paradise

Sept. 2003

Della Street removed her sandals, leaving them on the dry sand as she walked slowly to the water's edge. She allowed the water to wash over her bare feet, digging her toes slightly into the moist sand. A cool breeze teased her hair and the scarf she wore draped loosely around her neck. In the distance, the sun sank slowly towards the water. She took a deep breath, savoring the scent of ocean water and tropical flowers, as she closed her eyes and leaned her head back.

It had been a long week.

She and Perry had laughed as they lowered themselves into the low slung beach chairs. The chairs and a large, yellow striped umbrella had been set up on the warm sand so that the duo could watch the waves and enjoy the breezes off of the water.

"I don't know if I'll ever be able to get out of this thing," she told him.

"I don't know why you'd ever need to," he replied, indicating the large shoulder bag that she had toted along. "What all do you have in that thing?"

She shrugged and glanced in the tote. "Just a few things I thought we might need. I have some bottled water, some snacks...nuts...a couple of apples...crackers...sunglasses and sunscreen...a couple of books...a towel to dry off if need be...an umbrella, in case of showers...sweaters, in case it gets cool..."

"Kitchen sink, in case we need to wash our hands?"

She made a face at him. "No, but I do have a bottle of hand sanitizer in here somewhere."

He grinned. "That's my girl. Prepared for any eventuality"

"A lesson learned from years at your side, Perry. I've never known what I was going to end up in the middle of," she answered.

"It hasn't been boring, has it?" he asked.

"Never boring."

He leaned back in the chair and put his head back.

"Damn it...forgot my sunglasses."

He sat up and looked over to see her holding out the pair he remembered leaving on the table in their cottage.

"Prepared for any eventuality," she reminded him.

He took the glasses, catching her hand and drawing it to his lips for a gentle kiss.

"What would I ever do without you, Della?"

"Oh, you'd be just fine," she reassured him, with a smile.

He shook his head. "No, I wouldn't...I wasn't...and I never want to do it again," he told her, his eyes locked on hers. "Never."

She reached up to caress his cheek.

"Me either. I wish..."

He interrupted. "No looking back, Della. We can't change the past. We can only go on from where we are and avoid repeating our past mistakes."

She smiled the beautiful smile that took his breath away.

"Sounds like a wonderful idea to me."

He continued, "and I feel that one of my past mistakes was not doing this enough..."

He leaned over and kissed her softly on the lips.

After a moment...or a lifetime...he leaned back and looked at her.

"I do love you, you know."

"I know," she smiled back, "and you know that I love you."

He nodded solemnly, accepting what a rare and precious gift they had, still so strong after all the years and all the ups and downs.

Slipping his sunglasses on, he once more leaned back in the chair, raising his face to to sun.

In her own chair, Della turned to watch him. His long legs were stretched out in front of him, casually crossed at the ankles. He had removed his sandals, leaving his pale feet exposed. His hands were folded across his stomach. She stared at his hands a moment...so strong and still capable of so much tenderness. Smiling a bit, she noticed traces of dirt on his nails. He hadn't been able to resist digging into the soil of the beautiful orchids around their cottage. He had nodded approval at the texture and moisture content.

'Someone knows what they're doing,' he admitted.

From his hands, her eyes traveled upwards to his barrel chest. She watched it rise and fall, unconsciously matching her own breathing to his. The heart that beat inside that chest was the biggest, most generous, most gentle she had ever had the pleasure of knowing.

And he had given it to her.

Her gaze moved upwards to the face that she knew and loved. She had rarely seen a face so expressive. In moments, it could go from joy, to sorrow, to anger, or to the stone cold stare that could send shivers up her spine.

Fortunately, that look had never been leveled at her, but she had seen what it could do to hardened criminals or reluctant witnesses.

She was pleased to see some color in his cheeks. Recently, she had been concerned that he was much too pale and that his breathing wasn't what it should be. He had also been limping more, though, as always, he tried to hide his problems. She had tried to get him to see his doctor, but he refused. The case they had just finished up wasn't complicated, but Perry had never tried a case that he didn't throw himself into completely.

She never tired of watching his face and the many looks that crossed it. Her favorite, of course, was the special one that was just for her...

The one she saw creeping across it now.

A laugh rumbled forth.

"Why do I have the feeling I'm being scrutinized?" he asked.

"Because you are," she answered.

Turning to look at her, he pushed his sunglasses up on his forehead.

"All this beautiful scenery," he indicated with a wave of his hand, "and you're sitting there staring and this old man?"

"No," she corrected, "I'm staring at the man I love...thinking about how blessed I am to have you in my life...how much I love being here with you."

"Good," he answered. "Maybe we'll just stay here forever."

Della laughed. "As nice as that sounds, I can't see it ever happening. You would be bored to tears in just a few days, chomping at the bit to get back to work."

His face sobered and he turned to look off towards the ocean.

"I don't know, Della. I'm just so tired..."

Concerned, she reached over and laid her hand on his arm.

"I know, Perry. I know."

After a few moment, he looked back at her, the sparkle returning to his eyes and a smile lifting the corners of his lips.

"You really like this island, Della?"

"Of course, Perry. What's not to love?"

He reached into her bag and pulled out an envelope, handing it to her.

"Good, because it's yours."

The expression on her face was enough to turn the smile into a full fledged laugh.

She looked from him to the envelope in her hand.

"What do you mean, it's mine?"

"Just what I said," he responded. "It's yours. That's the deed. I purchased it a few months back, in your name. I've just been waiting for some of the work I wanted done here to get finished so that I could bring you out here and present it to you properly."

She shook her head, still confused. "But it's not my birthday or a special occasion or anything..."

"But it is a special occasion," he told her. "It's another day I get to spend with you. The days don't come any more special than that."

"Perry..."

Her eyes filled with tears.

"Every time I think that you can't top your last gift, you do. But you know that I don't need expensive presents to know you love me..."

"I know," he reassured her. "If you were the type of person who expected things, I wouldn't get so much pleasure out of giving them to you. I enjoy seeing the look on your face...getting to bask in your smiles...getting to wipe the tears from your face...You do have some tissue in that suitcase of yours, don't you?"

She laughed as she reached into the bag and pulled out a packet and handed it to him.

"If you would be so kind..." she asked, leaning her face towards him.

He kissed her soundly before taking one of the tissues and gently wiping the joyful tears away.

"Okay," he told her. "That's enough. No more tears here in your little corner of Paradise."

"Our little corner of Paradise," she corrected him. "Maybe we will just stay here forever."

"Maybe so," he agreed, taking her hand as he leaned back in the chair, closing his eyes once more under the warm sun.

"Maybe," she echoed, squeezing his hand as she, too leaned back to enjoy the warmth.

A loud cry startled her from her nap. She looked around for a moment before remembering where she was. A rustle overhead drew her gaze to the treetops and the large, white bird looking down at her.

A few clouds had moved in as the sun dropped towards the horizon and the temperature had cooled just a bit. The bird called again, an almost eerie sound. She felt herself shiver slightly, even though it wasn't that cool.

She turned to Perry as she reached for his hand. It was still and cool.

Too cool.

Panicked, she looked over at him. His chest no longer rose and fell. She struggled out of the chair and reached to touch his neck, searching for a pulse she knew she wouldn't find. She started to yell for help, knowing that the caretakers were nearby. Before she could get a word out, though. She looked at his face.

He smiled peacefully.

'I'm just so tired...'

She smiled and leaned over to kiss him.

"Au revoir, my love."

A hand on her shoulder drew Della back to the present. She looked over into the concerned face of Paul Drake, Jr. Behind him, Ken Malansky looked equally worried.

"Are you ready for this, Della?" Paul asked.

She looked down at the box cradled in her arms. It was larger and heavier than she had expected it to be. The man at the crematorium told her that people always said that.

"I have this vision, Paul, of your dad standing at the pearly gates, just watching and waiting...maybe smoking a cigarette...When he saw Perry coming, they both broke into those big grins, then headed off to find some kind of trouble."

Paul laughed out loud. "I know exactly what you mean. Mom always said that her worst fear was that you'd decide to leave those two to their own devices. I hope St. Peter knows what he's in for."

"If I die soon, you'll know he came to get me so I can reign them in."

Paul put his arm around her and hugged her gently. "I hope they behave for a while. I'm certainly not ready to let you go."

"Me either," Ken added, walking to her other side to slip an arm around her waist. "We still need you here, too."

She stretched upwards, giving each man a soft kiss on the cheek.

"I know. And I love that you do. I need to get to work finding someone capable of riding herd on you when I'm gone," she told them softly.

"No hurry," they responded in unison.

After a few moments of drawing comfort from the other two, she stepped forward. She watched the sun settle into the ocean in front of her, it's glorious hues bleeding into the clouds above and the ocean below. A warm breeze ruffled the trees behind her carrying the scents of the tropical flowers and plants to wrap around her in a warm embrace. With a final deep sigh, she opened the lid of the box and leaned it over, allowing the final remains of one of natures great men to mix with natures great creation.

Paul and Ken stepped towards her again, wrapping her in a warm embrace, as the trio watched the sun finally surrender to the water.

"Farewell, my love."

The end