Title: The Crash
Disclaimer: The creative rights to the characters and plotlines in "Foyle's War" belong to Anthony Horowitz, but no infringement is intended and I in no way profit from the story I've written.
Pairing: Samantha Stewart and Christopher Foyle
This is the final chapter of a story I have both loved and felt tugged by. I began writing it (spinning it as I went along) two-and-a-half years ago, when unemployed and greatly inspired to write, having only just discovered "Foyle's War." Shortly after I completed Chapter 10 or so, I went back to work, and the rest came quite slowly. I know I am not alone amongst fan fiction writers in saying that, somewhere along the way, I lost some of that magical drive and inspiration (though my adoration for the earliest four seasons of the program never waned.) But I had so much help from the wonderful friends I have made through my interest in this remarkable show and with fanfic based upon it. They're all marvelous writers, I was proud to have their contributions and assistance, and to my delight, I've had a chance to meet nearly all of them.
The Crash is dedicated to hazeleyes571, GiuliettaC, Jewell, TartanLioness (the model for young Emily Forsythe), and emma de los nardos. Additional thanks to Treva Rea, MyMadness, Wolseley37, Persiflage, and misslavish, for listening!
I'm so grateful to all of you who've reviewed it over time—your lovely comments were always helpful and a pleasure to receive.
And lastly, but most importantly, thank you to the fine actors who so beautifully portray these characters and their nuances.
Sam stood before the full-length mirror tilted beside the wardrobe and tried slightly fluffing the scarf she wore at her throat.
"Hmmm..." It was about the eighth time she had expressed this sceptical sound as she tried to get the look of her wedding ensemble just right. She had banned her mother and even Meri from the room, with the added proviso that she'd not tolerate any tweaking of "her look" once she had decided just precisely how she wanted it.
Sam's wedding suit was a smart powder-blue silk-wool blend that had come from a brand new sewing pattern and a forgotten bolt of fabric that Mrs Stewart had purchased 10 years before and never got round to using.
Sam had been absolutely thrilled when her mother produced it, because the colour was very similar to the dress Sam had been wearing the first moment that Christopher had seen her in civilian garb. It was the occasion when she changed at the station to go out to The Palais with Tony. She remembered vividly how impressed the DCS had looked—though his appreciative glance was eminently gentlemanly. She felt a flutter of delight as she tried to imagine the look those blue eyes would hold as he watched her walk down the aisle to him today.
"No..." she mumbled, removing the scarf altogether and testing the appearance of the white silk blouse collar outside the jacket. "Not over lapels," she decided aloud. She sighed with frustration as she tucked the collar points back under again. What was the missing element?
A soft knock at the door sounded, and Sam once again turned side-on to the mirror and reassured herself that there was no swell to her abdomen below the skirt's taut waistband. "Who is it?"
Sam felt a little ashamed at how relieved she was to hear Meri's soft voice at the door; she quickly allowed her in, darting a glance up and down the hall to be sure they were quite alone.
"Now, Merivale, determined though I am to look 'just so', I can't seem to achieve it. What's not quite right?" Sam walked a few paces back and forth, as the older woman admired the elegance of her suit's simple lines, adorned with a few medium-grey buttons...
Yes, Meri thought, might be just perfect...
"Well, there was 'something old' I wanted to give you. Please don't feel that you have to wear it, dear, but have a look."
Meri took from her pocket a small pin with a delicate lace-and-floral design rendered in silver, a miniscule pearl playing the part of a lily's pistil.
Sam gave a little gasp as she held it to the lapel of the jacket. It was a crowning touch. Small as it was, it lent a slightly more formal air, even before the modest hat with its miniature flowers and springy veil was placed upon her head.
"Shouldn't be surprised that you've made it absolutely perfect," she said, hugging the lilac-clad Meri; then she promptly burst into tears.
"Oh, my dear, my dear!" Meri reached behind her for the large handkerchief she'd noticed on the bed and consoled Sam as best she could with coos and strokes of her hair. Her bemused astonishment had lasted for only a second before it occurred to her what this might be all about.
"Sorry," Sam snuffled into the handkerchief. "I know you know this isn't any sort of unhappiness!" but she was taken by another shudder and more tears.
"Samantha, darling. Look at me for just a moment. Is it possible that you are expecting?"
Sam winced shut her eyes, took a deep breath, then nodded. "Yes. The doctor says it's so. I was thinking of telling you just now, anyway, Meri. Of course, I dare not tell Mother or Dad."
"Shhh, there, now. Of course not. We'll just 'adjust months' when you first start to show, and say the baby came a bit early, when that time comes. You're so petite," she patted Sam's tummy affectionately, "that I doubt you will ever be very large… though one never knows."
Sam hugged tightly the dear lady who had turned out to be much more of a mother to her than her own; what a blessing to have her standing beside her today.
She pulled back, fingering the brooch with furrowed brow. "Meri, wouldn't you want to give this pin to Angela?"
"Oh, she's had many little pieces of mine over the years, Sam, and I know she wouldn't mind your having this one. It was always a favourite, but it's for that very reason that I want you to have it. I've been so glad to watch your happiness grow since you and Christopher realised your feelings for each other." Meri glanced at the tiny hat and the bouquet that lay upon the foot of the bed. "Are you nearly ready, then?" I saw the groom and Arthur leave for the church, so perhaps we'd best not keep them waiting!"
Sitting in a pew beside Emily Forsythe, Paul Milner mused on the other-worldly feel of both the previous evening and today. Early Friday evening they had embarked for Lyminster: Foyle, Sam, Meri, Milner and Emily—but in short order Sam had felt unwell more than once, and they had made a brief stop in Polegate. Paul was just beginning to wonder whether Meri or Emily would be able to drive, when his boss ensconced his driver in the front passenger seat, and silently got behind the wheel.
Sam's hugely widened eyes mirrored Milner's as she looked at her fiancé. "Christopher... what...?"
"Wull, I've never actually ever at any time said I couldn't drive," he stated matter-of-factly. "I mean, I just prefer not to."
That (and the perfectly smooth trip all the way to Lyminster) was the first wonder.
The second was the walk Paul and Emily had taken later that night... just a short jaunt to the little church that sat adjacent to the Stewarts' house. Mrs Stewart, for all her initial disapproval of the romance between her daughter and Christopher Foyle, was quietly gracious to her coterie of guests, and, along with her husband, charmed by the interactions between Paul and Emily. After a late supper she encouraged the two to take a stroll, while the soon-to-be-Foyles were independently busy with wedding preparations. Meri joined the Stewarts in the cosy sitting room for a game of backgammon with Sam's father.
Emily and Paul stopped in the ivy-adorned lych gate and took a seat. There hadn't been another chance for him to visit the farm since the investigation came to its close, but they had exchanged a few fairly long letters, filled with plans and the answers to each other's questions about books and music and family. As the police contingent had picked Em up in Goudhurst, this was the first time that she and Milner had been alone.
"It's so good to see you again," she said earnestly, gazing up into his soft brown eyes.
He kept examining hers—that colour is so beautiful—and he wanted to say something, but no words were forthcoming. His eyes fell to her sweet mouth, and in another moment it was covered by his.
Some of the plans they had made in their letters had allowed him a kiss more ardent than their first; and he'd had no discouragement from the girl in his arms.
Now, the mere thought of the ensuing 20 minutes made him shift a bit in his seat, and he exchanged a warm, almost impish glance with Emily as the music began its herald of the bride.
Christopher's eyes, as he watched Sam walk in with her father, held a look that made tears spring into hers. Oh, they were aglow with admiration for the way she looked, just as they'd been when she'd descended the station stairs that day in her graceful blue. But there was something more... that look of being moved, and so grateful—a look that said, "I can scarcely believe you are mine, but as you are, I'll do everything in my power to make you happy."
And that was very much the way that he was feeling; but one of the things that most dazzled him about Samantha as she entered the little stone church was the radiance of her smile. She was wearing pale blue, just as she'd done the first time he'd really taken in how beautiful that smile was. His envious heart had soared ridiculously with relief when she'd admitted that she was just being kind in going on this date; that Tony wasn't really her type.
Well, it would appear that he, Christopher Foyle, was her type; otherwise, they wouldn't be standing here today.
Iain Stewart looked sheepishly pleased as he handed his daughter to his new son-in-law. Meri's eyes brimmed, and even Arthur looked a bit wet-eyed as he glanced lovingly at his dashing young pilot seated in the third pew from the front.
As all present listened to the venerable vows, spoken softly but with feeling, they marvelled at the obvious current that ran between Christopher and Samantha whenever they looked into each other's eyes.
The Admiralty's recent move to assume operational control of RAF Coastal Command had, in various indirect ways, prevented both Andrew and his Uncle Charles from witnessing the marriage, but they sent heartfelt good wishes and as much champagne for wedding toasts as could be got.
Merivale's cousin Laura had offered a cottage in Chichester, where the honeymoon couple planned to stay for a few days and nights. Neither had ever visited the picturesque town, and looked forward to its charming shops, its wonderful cathedral, which had miraculously escaped the bombings, and to the plentiful fishing spots in the environs.
"But most of all," Christopher had told Sam, "I look forward to our evenings in."
After a charming small reception had been well under way for a few hours, the honeymoon couple said their multitude of goodbyes, trying their best to hide all the eagerness they felt to get away.
Why are we so eager? Sam silently asked herself. It isn't as if this will be the first time.
And Christopher was musing about this, too. This excitement that made him feel light-headed; the way he couldn't get enough of her laughing eyes as guests kissed her cheek and wished her joy.
We've known each other before, he reflected, but now we're married. We've every right in the eyes of the world… we're one.
And so it was with eyes that glimmered in anticipation that Foyle again took the wheel. Gillian Stewart, giving her daughter an anxious parting look, noted with relief that she'd regained her normal complexion after a moment of looking a bit green around the gills.
"I'll be all right, I think, Mother. Just a trifle overwrought from all the excitement. And Christopher can do the driving!"
It was to this topic that Sam was eager to return, as they made their way along a road painted with late afternoon sunlight.
"So you're telling me that, all these months…you never really needed me?"
It fell to her now to study his profile as he kept his eyes on the road and deftly turned the steering wheel. He took just a sliver of his lower lip between his teeth and squinted thoughtfully.
"I wouldn't say that. Actually, I needed you for one invaluable thing." He sent her a doting look. "To teach me what I needed most of all."
About an hour later Christopher glanced over at his uncharacteristically silent companion, and smiled gently to realize that she was sound asleep, her lightweight coat forming a pillow in the wedge between door and seat back. This was the heart of spring, and the light was still strong at five o'clock, but the sun was now so low that he was challenged in keeping his own eyes open.
Suddenly a movement caught his eye, and he realised that a frightened rabbit was darting into the path of his tyres. He swerved the car sharply to avoid hitting the animal, but the stretch was too narrow and he could not correct quickly enough to keep to the road. The Wolseley veered into a shallow ditch, bounced, and crashed clear through a wooden fence on the other side.
It had all happened so fast that Samantha was unaware of anything until their collision was nearly upon them… one jolt as they left the tarmac, and not enough time to gather her wits about her until after they had made impact.
Foyle was unhurt this time, having braced his arms on the wheel, but was terrified for his expectant wife.
"Sam! You all right?"
Sam's head had bumped the side window as they lurched forward, giving her a nasty rap on the skull, but one insufficient to knock her unconscious.
"I… uh. Oh, Christopher!" her eyes went very wide and, hand pressed to her mouth, she exited the cabin so hurriedly that he was left gaping after her. A moment later he could hear the sound of retching toward the back of the car.
"Oh, my love," he murmured sympathetically to the empty seat beside him. He had seen this symptom a few times the last two weeks—usually not in the morning—and was hardly surprised that this jostling and a bump on the head would exacerbate it. He opened his door slowly, as the car was angled somewhat on his side, and made his way round it to hold her close.
Sam yelped and pulled away as his hand stroked the left side of her head. "Ow! Oh, dear… sorry, but I hit myself hard just there…" Pressing a firm hand on her abdomen, she gratefully accepted his proffered handkerchief.
"Darling, I just thank God you're all right," he declared shakily. It was the first time Sam had ever heard a quaver of fear in his voice. "Your head… any other part of you hurt?" he demanded, hands hovering either side of her, too nervous now to touch.
Sam took an experimental deep breath and felt only the throb in her scalp. Even her stomach had settled. No other apparent injuries.
"And you're all right?" she asked, peering at the parts of his face that had withstood the worst of their first crash. There was still a faint scar just above the bridge of his nose.
Foyle gave his head a vigorous shake. "Seems my head escaped, this time." He sent Sam a wry smile, then turned to look at the car, adding drily, "Now you see why I don't drive more often."
Getting the Wolseley—battered once again but not defeated—back onto the road was an easy matter for Sam. Or it was once she'd changed her clothes to protect her wedding suit, and had drained the last drop of sweetened tea from the thermos (under Christopher's amused gaze).
"Would you like a biscuit with that?" he quipped, "or six?"
The pasture bounded by the fence was so vast that they were compelled to leave a note for its owner, offering funds for repair and their address.
"Well, that bunny is fortunate you've such a big heart, Christopher!" She darted a sideways glance at him as he went to open the passenger door for her. "Sure you wouldn't rather I took over?"
"Hmm. Well, I'd say, Mrs Foyle, that you already have. Aaand: may want to spare yourself, given that bump on the head you're nursing." He pretended to tsk. "Sleep straight away for you, I imagine."
Safely situated in her seat, she twinkled up at him in a manner that made it clear she didn't plan to do much sleeping that night. He bent inside and kissed her with a softness that belied his utter joy.
Meri's cousin's cottage, just across the road from the River Lavant, was as storybook as the little town where it was situated. Alas, this particular spring evening the inside was as frigid as a vault, despite its cosy rugs and furnishings. Building a fire in the small sitting room was the first thing Foyle made to do once they'd put down their bags and Sam had gone to inspect the kitchen. By the time she'd returned with some tea there was a small but cheerful blaze going, and Sam smiled broadly at the sight of her husband—her husband!—sitting on the floor beside the hearth with loosened tie, a faraway look on his face as he gazed into the firelight.
"I'm not sure I've ever seen you look so deep in thought, darling," she told him, kneeling to place the tray on a good-size blue velvet ottoman that stood in the middle of the rug. Christopher settled himself against it, and Sam prepared his cup and handed it to him, then leant her back against the ottoman as well. Alas, that proved more weight than it could handle and the whole thing slid backward, leaving them both in a bit of a heap, with an upended cup beside them.
"Oh bother!" Sam said anxiously. "The rug!"
Christopher propped up on one elbow and examined the scalded edge of his hand before glancing down at the dark, busy Oriental pattern of the carpet. "Think it'll survive, Sam…"
He sighed. "We're quite the cursed couple today, aren't we?"
By this time his wife had realised he'd been slightly burned, and was hastening to hold a cool table ornament against his hand.
"It's nothing, love," he said.
"No!" she insisted. "Let me get a cold wet cloth…"
Sam made to rise, but Christopher tugged firmly on her arm and in the next instant she lay beneath him, moaning softly as he kissed her with deliciously unhurried tenderness, having secured his prize.
A few moments later, his attentions turned to the most sensitive region of her neck, and he hummed tantalisingly in her ear, "The last time we were stretched out on a hearth-rug, we could only go so far, as I recall…"
Sam gazed into her husband's face with misted eyes and eagerly lifted her hips against his gentle, beseeching undulations. His next sigh gave way to a low tone of passion that set her pulse racing. "With my body, I thee worship." She shivered and gasped at the teasing flicks of his tongue at her earlobe, and fought the trance he was inducing in her long enough to free the buttons of his waistcoat.
Christopher raised his head enough to give her quite the smouldering glance; then, to Sam's delighted surprise, he pushed himself onto his knees and began to pull off his wedding clothes.
Sam sat up too, and beaming at him in that way he treasured, proceeded to shed the trousers and shirt she had donned to tinker under the car bonnet.
She became his own Andromeda in the firelight, and he drank in the loveliness of her, shaking his head with wonder. "Beautiful," he breathed, then drew her down against him to resume his exploration.
A man usually of few words, he poured choice phrases of adoration softly in her ear between his nuzzlings and kisses. It was a thing that always drove Samantha to distraction. Perhaps because the same quiet, comforting voice had so often exerted its attraction on her, long before they had finally shared how they truly felt about one another. Its placid cadence, the warm, often brilliantly blue eyes, the somehow unassuming smile.
"Sam…" Christopher's thumbs now teased her nipples, making her arch upward with a blissful gasp. He buried his nose in her hair, and murmured, "I've worried that you'd feel there was nothing very special about this night..." he kissed her throat and pulled back ... "our wedding night... considering we're already a family in the making..." The hint of a rueful grin he sent her drove Sam almost senseless with desire to reassure him this was not the case.
She drew him down again and kissed his mouth with a sweet yearning, all the while caressing his shoulders and upper arms. "But there IS something special, Husband mine, isn't there? Some absolutely new feeling? I can't describe it..."
Christopher nibbled at her neck, whispering against her skin, "Yes, sweet girl... it's because we now belong together;"—he raised his head to drink in her tender eyes—"I mean properly together as far as all the world is concerned..."
Sam read the ache of his emotion in those words. Her eyes drifted shut and she let out a moan of bliss, stretching her arms above her head with languorous abandon as he kissed her long and deep.
"You see, I'd feared that it might dull things..." he told her soothingly as he slid himself a little further down her body, "…dull the thrill..." Now suddenly, and gazing with loving attentiveness into her face, Christopher plunged upward into her, hungrily marking her reaction... "Mmmm, but it hasn't, has it?"
Locking his lips to Sam's, he caught from those the whimper of her ecstasy that served him better than an answer. Thereafter, neither wife nor husband uttered anything intelligible for several luscious minutes, intent on their discovery of marital love. And in those moments they discovered there was nothing even remotely dull about the pleasure to be had from each other as a married couple—and a two-months expectant one at that. They gave the brightly burning flames some competition with the heat they generated on the hearth-rug, and when they finally found the power of speech again, they used it to reaffirm their devotion.
Some hours later, when at last they lay in bed with sated appetites, and Christopher was cuddling her close, Samantha told him, "Doctor says the baby will be along the first week of December."
"An early Christmas present, then." Foyle stroked her hair and thought back with a pang of sadness to the Christmases of Andrew's childhood.
His wife grew pensive in his arms. "Do you think things will look any brighter for the world by then?"
Foyle couldn't hide from Sam his dubious expression. He took his temples between thumb and middle fingers, massaged, then let the hand run slowly down his face.
"Looks like a 'no'," she sighed.
"I wish that I could tell you 'yes'," he told her, awkward in his frankness, "but with Yugoslavia, and now Greece gone today…"
They lay a little while in gloomy silence.
"On the other hand," Foyle offered, sensing her despondency, "Charles did say to me in confidence that Roosevelt is looking for more ways to help us here, and if we can hang on for just a little longer…"
Sam's knitted brows relaxed, and her expression lightened just a little as she stroked her still-flat tummy. "It's only that… I do so want this baby to have…" she trailed off.
"Peace?" Christopher planted a long, thoughtful kiss on her forehead. "I know, my darling," he consoled her. "But perhaps the way to look at it is this…"
He paused for so long that Sam propped herself upright on the bed and turned to examine his face. He was worrying the inside of his cheek, and a familiar series of small furrow lines had appeared above his eyebrows. She used a fingertip to smooth them out.
Foyle let go of the breath he had been holding, as the sonorous striking of the mantel clock in the front room broke through the tension of his silence.
"I think we might have years of hardships to go yet," he said carefully. "And I've been appalled, Sam, utterly appalled, at some of the ugliness we've seen in people. I'd begun to feel so... beaten down by it, by the time you came along.
"But," he went on, and in his eyes Sam read the now-familiar mix of disbelief and joy, "in a greater number of people, I've seen the salt that Winston Churchill draws up in his bucket. In that way, war has brought a kind of good."
Christopher pulled her into his embrace. "At least we can take comfort in the knowledge that our baby will be born among people of indomitable spirit. In fact," he gently laid his hand on her stomach, "that's probably the thing about our baby's mother that I admire most."
Sam's dark eyes looked adoringly into his. "Rather like the crash…"
He tucked in his chin in puzzlement. "Our crash today?"
She shook her head, then grasped for the elusive explanation. "Well, firstly, it was the war that brought us together… that fits with what you said. Then it was a car accident that positively threw us together, and made us tell each other…"
Foyle swallowed hard as he acknowledged to himself how unlikely he would have been to tell Sam how he felt, had she not broken down and told him what she was feeling. A sudden rush of emotion overtook him, and to cover it he joked, "I always love to hear your theories, darling. And what did our crash through the fence today achieve, exactly?"
"Um," said Sam. But even as her eyes drifted playfully up to the ceiling, hoping to see an answer written there, he answered his own flippant question.
"All right. I'll tell you what, exactly. It made me want you even more tonight… because I'd felt the fear of losing you yet again." He gathered her into his arms once more, and held his precious bundle tighter still. "You know," he added teasingly, "it was a bit of a crash that day you burst into my office nearly a year ago. Almost as startling. And unsettling at first. But I thank heaven for it, Sam, because I see now that I was already an injured man. You put me back together again."
His wife's eyes sparkled with happiness and tears. "MTC, ready to remedy, Sir."
Christopher bent his head and kissed her. "I have to bless this war, my love," he said, "if you're the spoils."