Okay, everyone. here's the last one. It's VERY LONG. But I just couldn't trim it down. To some, it may seem a little unrealistic, but this is what my dad did for my mom.
I thank you all for the encouraging reviews. You may be able to spot the beginning of my next fic in this one. Keep your eyes open ;)
As for the 'Panda' explanation. I picked it because that's what my boyfriend calls me. I know bambi is sweeter, but everyone uses bambi. I needed a change.
"Sam, isn't this a little fast?" Traci asked.
"It kind of is, but I think she deserves it. The only thing is, I want to surprise her. But I know nothing about what women wear. Well I do, but not to the point where I could pick this for her. I don't even know what I'm doing here." Sam stood with his hands on his hips as his eyes left Traci's to examine the department store.
"Well, if you're serious about this, then you definitely asked the right person. I know that girl better than she knows herself." Traci laughed. She led Sam to the women's wear section of the store, and began picking through the racks. Sam followed obediently behind her, trying to understand why the blue dress didn't stand up to the purple.
Traci was like a well oiled machine. She would pick up four dresses, take two steps and say something like: 'Oh come one, what is this? The '80s?' She'd then put a dress back and continue on.
The hours wore on, and the exhaustion was beginning to show on Sam's face.
"Okay, how do women do this? We've been here for four hours, and you haven't found a single dress that you think will work." Sam whined.
"You want it to be perfect, right?" Traci raised her eyebrows at him.
"Yeah." Sam sighed.
"Good boy. Well, I think this might actually be the one." Traci gestured to the black and silver dress slung over her arm. It had light embellishments around the neckline with an empire waist, and it just screamed 'Andy'.
"Really? Yes! Let's go get some food." Sam cheered.
"Whoa whoa whoa there, boy. We're not done yet." Traci stopped him.
"What?" Sam's eyes widened and Traci's smile did the same. She hooked her arm in Sam's.
"To the shoe department!" She cried, as if leading a small army. Sam moaned in protest but followed.
Andy rolled over in bed and checked the time. Five PM. She hated surprises, she really did. But this morning, when Sam did his best to not give away any details about this grand plan of his, she just had to give in. He just seemed so excited.
"What have I gotten myself into?" Andy asked herself as she swung her feet over the side of the bed. She heard Sam's key in the lock, and ran to the door to greet him. She got to the door just as he stepped in, a large shopping bag slung over his shoulder. She hopped around in front of him, trying to get a peek in the bag. Sam placed it on the table carefully before turning and picking Andy up, spinning her in a circle.
She let out a gleeful scream as he scooped her up, feeling like she did when she was a kid. Happy.
"What's in the bag, Sam?" She said, kissing him in between words.
"Wouldn't you like to know?" He winked at her and carried her to the bedroom. He sat her down on the bed.
"Wait here." He ordered. Andy complied, although she didn't want to. She heard Sam talking in the kitchen, and when he returned she proceeded to put her interrogation techniques to good use.
"Is there something you aren't telling me, Mr. Swarek?" She placed her palm on his chest. Well, maybe she tweaked her interrogation tactics a bit.
"Yes there is, Ms. McNally." Andy tugged him toward the bed, making what was on her mind very clear.
"Andy," Sam began. "God I can't believe I'm saying this." He whispered to himself. "Not now. I've got to do a few more things, and then you'll get your surprise." Andy pouted, giving him her best puppy dog face.
"But Saaaaaam!" She whined a little. "I want you now." She whispered, clawing at his shirt. Sam leaned down and kissed her deeply, before breaking away and promptly running out of the room. Andy followed.
"Nope, you are not going to win this one." Sam laughed, pretending to cover his eyes.
"Open your eyes Swarek." Andy ordered, before quickly taking off her shirt.
"Andy, you're really sexy." Sam's words were not the ones he intended to say. Completely mesmerised by what he was passing up, he kissed her again before breaking for the front door. He escaped successfully, the only thing keeping him going was the promise that it would be worth waiting until later. He opened up his phone and dialled.
"Diaz, Dov. You guys still available for today?" He asked. "Good, be at my place for eight okay? You guys gotta work fast. I don't know how long I'll be able to keep her out and distracted." He listened briefly to what the rookies on the other end had to say. He laughed and replied honestly. "You guys have no idea what I just gave up. And yes, Dov, you can draw your own conclusions from that. Are you guys gonna be there afterwards? Thanks guys. I owe you." Sam said quickly before hanging up and mentally checking his To Do list.
He turned back to the door and opened it. He called in quickly,
"Andy, love. We're going out tonight! Dinner's at 7:30." He spoke quickly, before running down to his truck. Oh, the things a man would do for his love.
Inside, Andy paced trying to figure out what he was planning. Step one, find that shopping bag.
When Sam returned almost an hour later, his house had been turned upside down.
"Panda, what exactly are you doing?" He said, leaning against the door frame as she dug through his closet. Startled, she sat up straight.
"Nothing, you know. Lost my… contact?" She offered, a huge smile on her face.
"Where you, by any chance, looking for… this?" He pulled out the shopping bag from underneath his dresser.
"What? How did you? What?" Andy babbled.
"I'm a cop, Andy. It's a secret drawer." He handed her the bag. "We've got about an hour before we have to leave. So hop to it, McNally!" He helped her off of the ground before kissing her sweetly on the cheek.
Andy immediately ripped through the tissue paper lining the inside of what was obviously a shoe box. She gasped as she pulled out the single most beautiful pair of stilettos she'd ever seen. She pulled her new dress out of the bag and shrieked with delight. Maybe she could get used to surprises. She quickly slipped into the outfit laid out on the bed before her. It fit like a glove. 'I have Traci to thank for this.' She grinned as she spun in front of the mirror. Applying her makeup and doing her hair in a simple updo was all she could do to keep herself occupied. When she was finally ready, the clock read 6:57 PM.
"Panda! Let's go!" Sam called from downstairs. When he laid eyes on her, it was like his first love all over again. She was breathtakingly stunning, the silver heels made her legs continue for miles and Traci's dress hung perfectly on her beautiful frame.
"Whoa." Was all Sam could manage as he walked over to her.
"Whoa you, Sam! Look at you, all decked out." Andy clenched her fists, as to make sure she didn't rip his suit right off of him. They drove to Andy's favourite restaurant and shared the most delicious lobster they'd ever eaten. The night had been perfect so far, spent shooting each other bedroom eyes from across the table. After they'd eaten, Sam unveiled the next part of his surprise.
"So, you wanna go dancing?" He asked casually. Andy's eyes widened and her face brightened like he'd never seen before.
"YES!" Andy smiled at him, loving her surprise so far. She leaned over and kissed him across the table. "You're way too good to me. Way too good." Andy whispered, not knowing how to express her gratitude using words. Sam paid the bill and swept Andy off to the next location on the agenda for the evening. They pulled up to Sam's favourite club, which also featured a spring loaded dance floor, a la the Commodore. As they entered, the lights raised and a voice came over the mic.
"Well, ladies and gentleman. The next few songs are for all of the couples out there, especially the ones that can really dance. So ladies, let your hair down and men, loosen your ties. Let's do this!" The DJ called into the microphone before starting up the music again. Andy obeyed and unpinned her hair as Sam whisked her off towards the dance floor and took her in his arms. They danced and twirled around for what felt like hours, both loving every moment of it. As the end of another song approached, Sam threw Andy back for one last dip. As he pulled her back up, his heart stopped. Her hair cascaded around her shoulders, her eyes smiling as much as her mouth was. What happened next was not a part of his plan. It just happened, nothing could have prevented it.
"I love you." He gazed into her amber eyes. "I love you." He repeated. Andy's eyes widened.
"Really?" She whispered, eyes brimming with tears.
"Yes." Sam exclaimed, nodding frantically with a smile to match hers. Andy flung her arms around his neck and kissed him like never before.
"I love you too." She whispered. Catcalls and whistles sounded off around them as Sam kissed her again. He picked her up and spun her around, never wanting to let go. Looking at them now, you never would have known that tragedy had struck them a mere three weeks ago. Now, they were just a young couple, madly in love.
They made their way over to the bar to sit for a minute.
"I love you." Sam smiled at her. It had effectively become his catch phrase. "Like, a lot."
"I love you too, probably more." Andy said as she began sipping her second martini. The bartender grinned to himself as he heard them talk to each other. Unnoticed, he checked Sam's card for his name and jogged off towards the DJ's booth. When he returned, he was smiling almost as much as they were. The song ended, and once again the DJ's voice sounded over the sound system.
"Some of you may have noticed a certain lovely young couple this evening, dancing and smiling all night long. If you'd just look over to the bar there, you'll see them." Andy's eyes widened and her mouth hung open.
"Mr. and Mrs. Swarek, would you two like to dance?" The DJ called them to the dance floor.
"This one, was not me." Sam laughed as he took Andy's hand and pulled her out to the center of the floor. People parted around them, and Andy felt her stage fright creeping up. The music started, and Sam started leading her through the dance, and instantly she relaxed. For four glorious minutes, all eyes were on them as the floated around the dance floor. Once again, hoots and hollers sounded from around the building as the song finished, and Sam pulled Andy in close.
"Did I mention you look beautiful, this evening?" He asked Andy. She blushed and touched her forehead to his.
"I love you, Andy." His voice quivered. "I really, really love you." Tears spilled and she kissed him with everything she had. Andy looked up and saw a few other bystanders with tears in their eyes and realized that the DJ had cut the music. Everyone had heard them. She began to blush but then realized that she didn't care. She hugged Sam tightly.
"Don't ever let me go. Not ever." She said to his shoulder.
"Wouldn't dream of it, Panda." He led her back to the bar, where the bartender handed him his credit card back.
"You should watch that, buddy. You're lucky I only used your name for a little more dancing." Sam thanked the bartender and left a generous tip.
By the time they left, Andy was a little past tipsy. She fell asleep in the truck ride home, fortunately for Sam. He checked the clock – 11:30. He picked up his phone and quietly dialled Chris.
"You guys ready? Great. We'll be there in ten." He whispered. He could barely contain himself as he drove. When the truck pulled to a stop, Sam rounded the front to Andy's side and lifted her out.
"Are we home?" She asked sleepily.
"Yeah, we are. Take a look." Andy opened her eyes to see a white picket fence in front of a small, green lawn. Her eyes travelled up further and she realized where she was.
"This is our house?" She shrieked, clapping her hands to her mouth.
"If you'll have me." Sam took her hands and walked her up to the porch.
"Ready?" Sam asked.
"I love you." Andy replied. Sam reached out and knocked on the door. Andy opened her mouth, confused, but quickly caught on when Traci opened the door, screaming with joy, followed by Chris, Dov, Noelle, Oliver, and finally, Gail.
Traci bear hugged her while Oliver shook Sam's hand.
"You sure about this, buddy?" Oliver clapped a hand on Sam's shoulder.
"Never been more sure about anything. I think, she's my Zoey." He said to his friend.
"Congratulations, man. You really deserve it. So does she." They watched their fellow officers hug and congratulate Andy, who was basking in this new found joy. Her martinis loosened her up just enough. Andy stepped inside her new home and started to cry. Sam walked up and laced his arms around her waist.
"You like it?" He whispered, and everyone quieted to hear her reply.
"I love it. I love you." She sniffed.
"I love you too." Sam would never get tired of saying it.
"Wait, how did all the furniture get here?" Andy asked as she flicked on a light. Chris and Dov came bouncing out of the crowd.
"That was all us folks!" Dov announced. He patted his arms. "We used good old fashioned hard work and muscles!" He was very proud. He high fived Chris, who gave his girlfriend an encouraging look. Gail obediently took out a bottle of Champaign.
"Housewarming party!" She called out. Everyone cheered and a party ensued. Music, more dancing, it was a great night. Andy kicked off her shoes and thanked Traci for helping Sam with her outfit and they laughed and talked until almost 4 AM. Oliver left around midnight, not wanting to get home too late and risk waking up the girls. Noelle left soon after, but the rookies hung around.
"Damn rookies, you guys can party." Sam admitted after his third beer. No sooner than ten seconds later, Gail sprinted into the bathroom and threw up.
"Gail!" Chris called in, putting down his drink and starting towards the bathroom.
"What happened? Frosty can't hold her liquor?" Traci snorted.
"I don't think that's it." Dov said, swirling her drink in his hand. "It's just Sprite." Andy looked at Traci and then Sam, who looked just as confused. Chris appeared with a crying Gail in his arms. She quickly wiped away her tears and pretended to be asleep.
"We're gonna head home, I think. Thanks for tonight guys, it was fun. I hope you guys love it here." He smiled as Traci opened the front door for them. By the time the two were gone, questions were already flying.
"What was that about?" Traci's eyes were wide. Surprisingly, Andy was the first one to jump to Gail's defence.
"She probably just hates being sick. When I was little, every time I'd throw up, I'd make my Dad sit with me for hours because I'd cry so hard. I hated it." Traci narrowed her eyes at Andy, but was too far into her fourth glass of bubbly to care. About an hour later, Traci and Dov decided to make their exit. Both way too drunk to drive, Sam called Jerry and gave him a heads up before getting them a cab. Dov carried Traci down to the sidewalk while she sang about his hair. Sam laughed as he heard Traci continue from inside until the cab door finally closed. By the time all was said and done, Andy was exhausted. Sam carried her upstairs to their new bedroom. She was asleep before he even reached the top of the stairs, so he carefully pulled off her dress and helped her into some pajamas.
"Sam?" Andy spoke as Sam climbed into bed.
"Yes, Panda?" He grinned at her.
"Thank you so much. I'll thank you properly in the morning, but until then, thank you. This night was so perfect. You're amazing." Andy smiled, her eyes closed.
"Anytime, babe. Get some sleep." Sam wrapped his arms around her. Her breathing evened out and Sam carefully slipped out of bed and walked downstairs, admiring his new home along the way.
He sat down at the kitchen table and looked out through the large east facing front window. By now, the sun was beginning to rise. The sky turned pink and Sam clasped his hands in front of him.
"Oh, Sarah. I wish you could have been here to see this. To see me, and Andy." Sam whispered. "She reminds me of you." He laughed. "From the glares and the accusing tones you were so good at." He chuckled and shook his head. "She cooks just like you. Remember that oatmeal we ate for breakfast every morning? She makes it the exact same way, I swear. Same amount of brown sugar and everything." The sun rose a little higher into the sky, a beautiful new day forming. An orange glow was cast about the kitchen. Behind him, Andy could be seen sitting on the stairs, her chin resting on her hands. "The shampoo she uses? Reminds me of that floral crap you used to spray around the living room. Sorry, sis. But it smells delicious on her. Just, not so much in the living room." Sam ran his hands through his hair freely, his stitches having dissolved. "This place is so perfect. It's a dream come true. Just like Pa – Andy said, white picket fence. Can't you see some little kids, and a dog running around here?" Sam mentally reprimanded himself for getting his hopes up. He sighed. "You'd really love her, Sarah. I always pictured you at my wedding, sitting in the front row." Andy's breath caught. "I guess it's too late, hm." He whispered.
Andy's eyes clouded with tears before turning and creeping back up the stairs. She knew he'd hear her if she stayed, as much as she wanted to. The sun peeked over the top of the mountains, and Sam took a deep breath.
"I love you Sarah. Because of you, I've never felt so at home. One day, you'll meet her. I swear." Sam got up and started back up stairs, greeted by the now completely risen sun when he reached the bedroom.
He crawled back into bed with Andy and held her tightly. He was almost asleep when a smile crept up Andy's face. He cupped her face in his hands.
"What are you smiling about?" He smiled sleepily. Andy paused a moment before answering.
"Sam, can we get a dog?"
There you have it! Thank you all so much. (Did you see my next fic in there?) :D