Andy heard the jangling of keys and then the telltale rasp of a deadbolt sliding into place.
It didn't take long for Andy to assess the situation. There weren't many options so that made her job easy. The door had two locks, the normal door lock which she could pick easily, and a deadbolt, which apparently only locked from the outside. That would be more difficult.
Pulling her lock picking tools one by one from the lining of her bra as she went, Andy rounded the table. She stopped in front of the door and stared at it, as if she could will it open with the sheer force of her desperation. It opened out, not in, so hinges were out of reach. The regular lock looked simple enough, but, with the deadbolt firmly in place, unlocking it would get her nowhere. The deadbolt was the problem then. Where on a normal deadbolt, like the one in her home and most of the rooms at the station, there would be a piece she could turn to release the bolt, there was a simple silver metal circle.
She didn't know how long she stood there, mind racing as she tried and rejected several ideas a second. Screaming for help would do no good, anyone who would hear her would be on Anton's payroll. She couldn't physically break it down, she knew her own limits by now and she was not heavy enough or strong enough to kick down a solid, dead-bolted door. She would need tools she didn't have to get to the deadbolt mechanism, so picking her way out wasn't going to work. That left her one option.
Andy eyed the window with trepidation. This was one options she was hoping to never use. She kicked off her shoes, leaving them by the door, and returned to the window. She could see the sidewalk and street below. Both were nearly empty.
Taking a deep breath for courage, she picked up one of the heavy, black chairs that surrounded the conference table and swung it with all her strength against the window. A spider web of cracks spread out from the point of impact but the glass did not give way. A voice shouted something indistinguishable from down the hall. Empowered by a jolt of adrenaline, Andy swung the chair again, with even more force, letting go moments before it struck the already weakened window. This time the glass exploded outward. The chair sailed through and both chair and shattered glass tumbled down to the sidewalk below.
There was another shout from down the hall. Andy dove under the table, fumbling for the shoes she had discarded. Her fingers closed around one rounded toe and she pulled the shoe to her. Gripping it tightly in one hand she rolled sideways, hiding herself as best she could behind one of the two thick wooden panels that supported the table. Curled into a tight ball, ready to scramble out at any moment, Andy waited.
It was torturous. From the broken window she could hear traffic noises in the street, every siren could be help coming or simply a part of life in the city; every shout could be an extraction team breeching the building, or just another idiot who'd drunk a little too much. And then the noises were definitely coming from within the building. She heard a woman scream and a general commotion from downstairs and her heart lifted. They had seen her signal, they were coming for her. She'd never felt so relieved in her life. And then, long before she could expect them to have cleared the building she heard two male voices in the hall right outside the door.
Andy's blood ran cold. Her sweaty fingers closed more tightly around her shoe. She didn't have to get away, she just had to stay safe long enough for her team to find her. The footsteps and voices belonging to them passed her door without opening it and Andy could have cried from relief if she hadn't been focusing on not making a single noise.
She didn't know how long she crouched there. It seemed like everything since she'd arrived at the Dragon that evening happened in both fast forward and slow motion. With the exception of the endless three seconds where the entire universe had paused in its orbit from the force of Anton's question: How long have you been fucking Sam Swarek? Such a simple question: eleven months, three days, twelve hours and forty-five, wait forty-six seconds. Such a loaded statement: I know who you are, officer Andy McNally; I know who you love, or at least who you fuck; I know just how to hurt you; I'm not afraid of you, or fifteen division, or any cop in any force in the city; and I wanted to make sure you knew all of this before I kill you. Her legs fell asleep. She shifted her weight and then nearly bit through her lower lip to keep from hissing as painful pins and needles raced up her calf.
And then the discomfort was forgotten. With a rasp of metal on metal that she only heard over the traffic below because she was listening for it, the deadbolt slid back.
A thousand thoughts ran through Andy's mind in the seconds it took the man on the other side to release the main lock and swing the door open. Later she would say that it wasn't her life which flashed before her eyes, at least not the life she'd lived so far. It was… the future? Every hope she'd ever told herself was too much. She saw her dad smiling and happy, looking healthier than he had in years though older. She saw her friends, all looking happy, older, more mature, but filled with the kind of joy that only comes to those whose lives have been truly blessed. She saw her wedding dress: not the beaded, poufy thing she'd envisioned for her perfect, white picket future with Luke Callaghan, but something she would actually pick out and like: simple, white, comfortable, yet still lovely. But most of all she saw Sam: standing at the end of the aisle, looking at her with so much love in his eyes it took her breath away; placing his hand on her pregnant stomach, looking at her with that half-scared, half-hopeful look he'd given her the first time she said 'I love you.' She saw herself with Sam, a tiny tow-headed kid swinging between them, giggling as Andy tried to push him so high Sam couldn't tap the toes of his little shoes as they sailed towards the sky. There was clarity in this brief vision, and also a knife edge of despair. She finally knew what she wanted, and it was too late.
A pair of black boots and jean clad legs appeared in her line of vision and Andy was fully back in the present. She held her breath, eyes glued to those boots as they entered the room. She was so focused on being silent and invisible she barely registered men's voices above her head… familiar men's voices. "—is she…?"
The shoe slipped from her hand, bouncing once against the carpet before lying still. She sucked in a breath that sounded more like a sob. She was safe.
Andy blinked twice before Boyd's face swam into focus. She accepted the hand he reached out to help her out from under the table.
"Are you okay? Are you injured?" Boyd stepped back so he could do a full body scan with his eyes.
It took two tries for Andy to speak. "I-I'm fine." She rasped. "Did you-?"
Andy sank down into the nearest chair. She couldn't believe it. Or, rather, she didn't want to believe it. She had gone through hell tonight and.. for what? If Anton went underground who knew how long it would be before he surfaced again.
"Come with me, we'll get you debriefed so you can get out of here." A male cop Andy didn't recognize held out her shoes.
She took them but didn't put them on. Every muscle in her body ached and she didn't think she could muster the energy to walk in heels right now. Shoes dangling from one hand, Andy followed Boyd and the other officer from the conference room.
o o o
Half an hour later, Andy found herself in a small windowless room alone with Boyd, and he did not look happy.
"Tell me again, from the beginning, what the hell happened?"
Andy had already been through the story twice. This time she stuck to the cliff notes version. "Vince brought me to see Anton. Anton took me upstairs and told me he knew I was a cop. I couldn't pick the deadbolt, so I had to use my exit signal. "
"Did Anton hit you?"
Andy did not like where this was heading. "Not explicitly. But... It's Anton Hill! He didn't have to."
Boyd rubbed his face with both hands for a moment as if he could scrub away reality. "Okay. Please let me get this straight. Not only did you fail to get any hard evidence linking anyone here to Anton hill, you pulled the rip cord on a four month undercover operation because you had a bad feeling?"
Andy gaped at him for a moment. She could barely believe this. An hour ago she had been hiding under a conference table, clutching a shoe and hoping that whoever Anton sent to finish her off wasn't carrying a gun, and now Boyd was calling her a wimp and a quitter. "He told me to throw myself out a window or wait until he returned. Doesn't take a genius to know what he meant!"
"Unless you shoved a tape recorder into that dress no jury is going to convict him of anything. Face it, McNally, you got scared. It's my fault really. I shouldn't have let you on this case in the first place."
"So sorry I'm such an inconvenience." Andy snapped. "Next time I'll just let him kill me then, will that be better?"
"Trust me, there won't be a next time. Either you're deeply incompetent or you're cursed, not sure which is worse, but believe me when I tell you this will be your last undercover assignment."
Andy shrugged. She would probably care, tomorrow or in a year, but right now she just didn't. "Are we done?"
"There'll be paperwork, but that can wait until tomorrow"
Andy nodded, too tired to bother responding.
"You need a ride back to the station?"
Andy shook her head. There was only one place she wanted to be and she would rather walk than ask Boyd to drive her.
o o o
It took less than five minutes to flag down a cab and it wasn't until she was halfway to Sam's that Andy realized she had no money. Her purse was in an evidence bag back at the hotel. That realization was the last straw. What Anton's threats and all of Boyd's anger hadn't been able to accomplish the frustration of forgetting such a basic thing as money did, turning her face away from the drive Andy let tears flow unchecked down her face.
The cab turned the corner onto Sam's street and Andy quickly swiped at her face. She almost asked the cabbie to keep driving. She was a mess and Sam didn't need to see her like this. But she didn't because, whether or not she wanted to admit it to herself, she needed him.
"Just, wait here for a minute?" Andy said to the driver when he pulled up to Sam's building. She knocked on Sam's door. His truck was in the driveway so she knew he was home.
Sam, wearing jeans and a t-shirt, his hair rumpled opened the door. He stared at Andy for a moment like he couldn't believe his eyes. "Andy? Are you… what happened?"
"I don't have any money." Andy said lamely, gesturing towards the cab idling at the curb.
Shooting her a concerned look, Sam disappeared from sight for a moment and re-emerged with his wallet. He paid the cab driver and then turned to Andy. "What happened? Are you alright?"
Andy opened her mouth to explain, but nothing came out. There was a gigantic lump stopping her speech and she was afraid if she pushed too hard she might cry. The adrenaline that had gotten her through the last four hours was long gone and in its wake she was more exhausted than she ever had been in her life.
"Come inside," Sam reached to guide her inside.
Instead of falling in step with Sam, Andy turned and stepped into his chest, wrapping her arms around his waist and burying her face against the soft cotton of his shirt.
Sam's arms wrapped around her and held her tightly. He pressed a kiss against her hair.
"I blew it." Andy said at last, the words muffled against Sam's chest. "I thought he was going to…"
Sam's arms tightened around her, but he didn't say anything, giving her time to collect her thoughts.
"He knew. He knew who I was, and…" She took a shaky breath. "He knew about you. I don't know how… I didn't tell Boyd that… that Anton knew. I – he must have had me watched or… I don't know… Oh God Sam, I thought he was going to… I thought I would never see you again."
Sam loosened his hold on her and tilted his head so he could see her face. "Are you okay? Did he-"
"He didn't touch me." Andy jumped in, relieving Sam's fear. "He just.. threatened to. Boyd is pissed."
"Boyd's always pissed." Sam said dismissively. He didn't care how angry Boyd got; Andy was safe and that was all that mattered.
She chuckled, snuggling into his chest. The way her head fit perfectly under his chin made her feel safe, like everything might be okay despite Boyd's threats. "What if he tells Frank?"
"Andy, he won't." Sam used one hand to tilt her chin up so he could meet her eyes. He held her gaze for several long silent seconds.
A smile tugged at Andy's lips. It was hard not to be taken in by Sam's confidence.
"Hungry?" Sam asked. "I think there's a pizza in the freezer."
Andy kissed him softly. "Can we just… stay?"
Sam rested his cheek against the top of her head. Eventually they would need to actually go inside, but for now he was perfectly happy just to hold Andy as if he would never let her go. "I'm not going anywhere."
A/N: First, I am so sorry it took me over 2 years to finish this story. My only excuse is to say that it has been a crazy two years, and Anton Hill is a recalcitrant character, I made several attempts to finish Chapter 3 over the last couple years and finally he cooperated and said something that wasn't horrifyingly innuendo laden.. and now here we are.
Thank you to everyone who has come back to this story and to those of you discovering it for the first time. Please take a second to leave a review.