A DAY AT THE BEACH
Set after "The Big Nickel". So now they're friends, aren't they? Thanks guys for all the reviews/alert/favoriting... for my previous fics. I really appreciate it :)
She stopped in front of his door and inhaled deeply. Nothing to be afraid of. It's going to be okay. Act casual, she thought to herself, trying to check her appearance from her blurry reflection on the window. She waited until her breathing was back to normal and knocked. She could hear the TV scream in the background. She bit her lip and pressed her ear to the door. "A pair of rain delays did nothing to deter the Red Sox right-hander from dismantling Toronto's lineup, leading to a 5-0 loss at Fenway Park…" she heard the anchor said in a very formal voice. The Blue Jays were on a losing streak. It was going to be tough to convince him. He'll be in a bad mood and... She knocked again figuring that he was probably in the yard at the back of the house, grilling some steaks for his buddies. She was already walking away when Swarek swung the door open with a beer in his hand.
"McNally…" he trailed. He furrowed his brow and his gaze grazed her low cut tank top and denim shorts. "Judging by your outfit, I take it that you're aware this is Sunday afternoon?"
She flushed and tried to put on a brave front. "I…" she sucked on her breath, "aren't you going to ask me in?"
"Come on in McNally. Mi casa es su casa."
She brushed past him and went directly to the living room. The shades were drawn, the TV was way too loud. Her eyes fanned the room. Half a turkey sandwich on a plate, an icebox filled with unopened beers. He was alone. She spun around. He was staring now, a mere foot away from her with a smirk on his face. "What's going on McNally? I thought we were good? Where's Callaghan, you didn't drag him along hopefully? I like the guy but I'm not really into threesomes."
She shook her head frantically, ignoring the sarcastic provocation. "He's working on a case," she made a good show at staring at her feet.
He raised an interrogative eyebrow and his mouth twitched. "Don't screw it up". When was it that he had told Mr Homicide just that? Not even a week ago? And still he was already back to his normal MO. "And to what do I owe the pleasure of your present company? I'm kind of in the middle of something here," he waved his beer toward the TV set, trying as hard as he could to keep a straight face. She looked like a deer caught in the headlights. He sighed. It was time to put her out of her misery. "Joking McNally, hit me. What do you need me for? I'm all yours," he said, not quite ready to stop toying with her. Since their little trip to Sudbury, he couldn't stop remembering bits and pieces of her smiles and fits of laughter and… Don't. He dropped on the couch.
"I bought a car," she mumbled.
"Good for you!" he raised his beer. " What has it got to do with me?"
"Well, you remember what you told me when we were in the woods?"
"I said a lot of things in the woods McNally, could you narrow it down for me please?" he sighed loudly.
"You said that you are a city boy…"
He nodded seriously. He could see a pattern here. And definitely what she was tiptoeing around.
"Yes I am!" he rejoiced, determined to make her beg. It was going to be a far more interesting Sunday afternoon than he had originally anticipated. He could practically hear her moan in despair.
"You're not going to make this easy, Sam, are you?" she finally said, looking at him through her long silky fringe.
He shook his head, putting on his 5000 dollar grin. "McNally, you're blocking my view, so I suggest that you take a step to your left so that I can watch the game until you pull yourself together."
"But it's not even live!" she protested.
"You're missing the point. My TV, my rules."
He pressed the remote and they got engulfed in a deafening silence. He put his feet on the coffee table and sat his beer on his chest.
She jumped and started pacing. "I bought a car."
"I don't hear a question. Could you be a bit more specific? I'm a cop but I do need more information to make an educated judgment, McNally. You said that already, remember?"
"It's not new," she nodded ignoring his interruption.
"I figure that much, the desperation on your face was a conclusive hint the first time."
"I thought it's be a great day to go to Lake Scugog and have a picnic."
Her face changed and from pleading went to angry. She opened her mouth, swallowed her breath, hung her head and paused. Sam was really enjoying himself now. Her car probably broke down after a few miles and she needed his help. So far, so good.
"Not everything is about Luke, you know, he's doing the best he can," she said in a subdued voice.
"I bet he is." Discussing her love life was not his agenda. "You bought a car?" he said tentatively.
But she was not listening. "I'm not exactly in control of the situation here you know. He works a lot. So I said to myself that I did enjoy going to the country with you last week and that I could use some time out of Toronto. Just to get my feet on something else that asphalt and…"
"… I get it, I get it. Keep going. Port Perry is quite nice this time of year."
She smiled. "So I took off around ten, it's only an hour and a half away, plenty of time. It… well I mean, it's probably nothing but after I stopped at a red light, I could not turn it back on. It stopped and that was it. I tried everything."
She went beet red. "I found the thingy that opens the hood…"
"I see," he chuckled. "Okay, McNally, I'll help you with your car. Where did you leave it?"
"Princes Gates..." she made a face.
"Princes Gates? It's not even a mile away from your place."
"I know!" she squealed. "And then I thought. You told me that you could fix a car blindfolded with your hands cuffed in your back?"
"Did you bring the cuffs McNally?"
She giggled. "You should definitely buy a new book of jokes," she teased him.
He clapped in his hands and stood up. "Okay, let get this party going. But first thing first. If you want to ride in my truck, you better…" He sat his beer on the table and walked up to her, "… wipe all this sludge from your face." He swept her cheek with his thumb, getting closer than necessary. He could feel she was as troubled as he was from this simple touch. But, today, he'll behave, for both their sake. Her body shivered and he turned abruptly away. "Let me go get my gear, I'll try to start jump it and we'll go from there."
He killed the ignition and glared at her, disbelief written all over his face. "A 1968 Chevrolet Camaro convertible SS 396? You're kidding right? Like I said, I'm a city boy, not a magician."
"Told you it was cheap."
"You're right on the money, total piece of junk. Did the guy pay you to toll it away from his back lot?"
"Please, I know."
"You should have come to me Andy, that's what friends are for. Let me get a look at it but don't get your hopes up. On the other hand, we can always go back and see the guy and play bad cop good cop. What do you think?"
"I'd rather not."
"Okay." He took a bunch of cables from his trunk, made her open the hood and hooked the cars together, fastening the alligator clips to the positive posts. "Give it a try. Gently." After a few attempts, he shook his head. "It's not the battery, it could be anything then. Let me have a closer look."
She watched him check the car. He was actually enjoying this. She couldn't help to find it a bit arousing. She shaded her eyes from the sun with her right hand, and leaned over the engine.
"So, is it bad?"
"Well, my guess is we'll have to rebuild the whole engine from scratch."
"Really? I can't afford that."
"I can call in a few favours from… friends."
"Oh, I see. Shady friends?"
"Well, don't ask, don't tell," he chuckled. "The first guy that comes to mind is actually into brunettes. Maybe you could manage to get a fresh coat of paint, free of charge."
She glanced at him. She was not actually sure whether he was teasing her or being serious.
"What do you say? Should I give him a call?"
"But it's Sunday."
"That didn't bother you so far…"
She winced and stood up. "Sure, go ahead, why not?" she snapped.
Puzzled, he rang his 'guy'. "He'll see me tonight," he stated cautiously after hanging up. "Do you need a ride Andy?" he volunteered. "I can drop you at Port Perry."
"You would?" she yelped. "Oh yes, please I'd like that."
"But you're going to feed me right?"
She giggled and punched him gently in the arm. "I think it could be arranged."
"But first let me do something." He fumbled into his glove compartment. "We wouldn't want your antique to be impounded," he said, sticking a Metro Police sign on the windshield.
"You're a man of many talents," she smiled.
"You have no idea," he stated seriously, happy to see her look away and blush profusely.
She opened the trunk. "Let me get it for you," he said, brushing her arm while taking out a wicker basket. "Hop in, before I change my mind." Like he would.
"You're right. It's beautiful," he stated after a few minute drive. "The colours, the leaves…"
"You're not making fun of me, are you?"
"No, I wouldn't dare. Just saying," he smiled.
The area was pretty crowded but she knew a place where they would have some privacy, away from families and their children enjoying the last days of Indian summer. Though she spent the afternoon in a state of undress that almost turned him crazy, her bathing suit leaving not much to imagination, he did his best to hold on to his buddy façade. He made some phone calls, one to his bookie, another to his car guy, and a last one to Ollie to cancel their late afternoon barbeque with his wife Zoe and the girls. He had to cook some lame excuse, and he was three hundred percent certain that Shaw didn't buy any of it. Ollie had given him the stare treatment a lot lately. He knew that he wasn't fooled by his act, nor was Noelle. Graduation day was coming up early this year and given that Callaghan would keep on the good job, she'll be free to fall into his willing arms by then, -or not. But for the time being, he had to stop wearing his heart on his sleeve like an old fool smitten by his rookie.
It'd been an afternoon well spent. After she had stopped exerting herself in her attempts to break the next world record, she came back to him, radiant, her eyes sparkling and dried herself in a huge towel, leaving him near to the point of breakdown. He managed to keep his composure and even threw some small talk in the mix. When she took a bottle of sun lotion out of her gym bag, his heart stopped. There was no way he could help her with that. But she didn't ask him to do anything. Befuddled, he watched her massage her body with the lotion before lying peacefully on her towel.
"You're driving us back, right?"
"Yeah, yeah, sure." How articulate, Sam, good job.
"Okay, in that case, I'll get some sun while it lasts."
And with that, she fell asleep, -which was good, considering his confusion. When the sun set, he gently nudged her awake. She stretched like a cat, and he averted his gaze, but it was already too late to prevent his pulse from racing madly.
On their way back, her cell rang. She gave a quick glance to the caller ID. "I gotta to take this, sorry," she said in a weird monotone. Of course Callaghan had to ruin the day for him. He didn't comment on the call and waited patiently. But she stayed silent, her eyes on the road.
"I'll leave you at Garrison Park," he finally said. "And I'll take care of your car. Don't worry, it won't cost you a dime. Feel free to buy me dinner though."
She glanced in his direction, her mouth twitched but she went back to staring through the windshield anyway. "Thanks," she nodded.
"Andy, you okay?"
"Luke wants to see me tonight," she said.
"And I take it, you don't want to?" he tried.
"Sam, what should I do?"
The man hunt crisis had snapped him out of the rage he had allowed to simmer under his skin far too long until he erupted on retraining day and flipped out. Now that he had somehow managed not to freak out at the mere mention of her name and tamed his slow burn, he had come to realize he just wanted her to be happy. But he was not quite ready to turn into a confidante. "Hey, I'm not dear Abby!" he protested.
"Please, you got to help me…" She placed a hand on his arm and locked her eyes on his. Hers were on the verge of glassy.
"Okay." He paused. "You don't want to see him?"
"That's the point. I don't know."
"Unless I didn't get the memo, I thought that you guys were back on tracks since our little trip to nowhere land."
"Yes, we are," she admitted reluctantly, "sort of."
"McNally, let me spell it out for you. Luke's a guy, if he calls you it means what it means. As far as he's concerned, the two of you are good."
"But it doesn't feel good. I don't even know why he's talking to me again. He was really mad at me after the…"
"Yes," she sighed. "I tried to talk to him before parade, but he threw me out."
"But he came back to his senses and took you back eventually?"
"Yes, he did. But I don't know why!" she said, in an unusual high-pitched voice.
"… overthink it," she nodded. "I know." She let go of his arm and her gaze went back to the road ahead.
They stayed silent until they reached the outskirts of town.
"If you need to talk, I'm here," he said. "You know that right? I'm not very good in the talk department but I'm a fairly good listener."
She simply smiled. When he pulled over and stopped the engine, he turned to her and casually put his arm on the back of her seat.
"I had a nice time today Sam. I'm glad we're friends," she said, and she meant it. But she didn't seem to get out of the car any time soon.
"Give me your car keys. I'll go see my guy right away. You know what? Give me a call and I'll take the basket back to your place."
"A little," she said, giggling. "Bye Sam, and thanks for the ride." She gave him a light peck on the cheek and she was gone.
I hope you like it!