Cat stared at the phone for a moment, chewing her lip. She picked it up. Then she put it down again. Finally she picked it up and dialled a number by heart.
"Glasgow Central Precinct, how can I help you?"
"Hello, yes, could I speak to Sam…Could I speak to DS Murray?"
"Just a moment."
She was put on hold and had to fight the urge not to put down the phone.
"Hello?" It was a man's voice
"Um…I was…I wanted to speak to DS Murray."
"This is DS Ryder, I'm her partner. Can I help?"
"I just needed to talk to Sam. It's Cat McKenzie."
"Ah, sorry Ms McKenzie," the tone of his voice suggested that he remembered exactly who she was despite the formal address, "Sam isn't here. She's at the hospital, there was shooting and–"
"Which hospital?" Cat demanded in alarm.
"Southern General but…" But Cat was gone.
Vince Ryder looked at the receiver, smiled to himself and gently set the phone down.
Cat was out the door before Alastair had time to ask where she was going. She ran to out the main street and hailed a cab.
"Where to, Luv?"
"Southern General. And please hurry!"
"Are you sick, Pet?"
"No, not me. A friend of mine. A very good friend of mine."
"Have you there in no time."
She sat back in the seat trying to keep her hands from trembling; then she realised, her whole body was trembling. All she could picture was Sam on a gurney, covered with blood. Then that image was replaced by another of Sam lying, covered by a sheet, still and pale and cold.
"Please don't die." Cat whispered. "Please don't die. Please don't die."
Cat burst into the Accident & Emergency Ward and skidded to a stop. Sam was standing talking to two middle-aged men, who despite their tattoos and shaved heads looked on the verge of tears. Her notebook was open and she seemed to running the contents by them. She looked…fine. Actually, Cat reflected, she looked better than fine. She'd cut her hair, and layered it, not as short or as messy as Frankie's, only a few inches gone, but it suited her. Dressed in a white shirt, her trademark vest and a hip-length leather jacket she looked very much alive and very sexy. She tucked the book back into her pocket and patted one of the men on the shoulder. And that's when she noticed Cat.
For a moment they stood regarding each other, neither moving nor speaking. Then Sam turned back to the witnesses,
"Excuse me, I'll be back in a moment."
She walked a few feet down the corridor but stopped just short of where Cat was standing.
"Cat, what are you doing here? Are you all right?"
"I thought you were dead. Or dying. Or something." Cat shook her head realizing she sounded ridiculous.
"Why would you think that?"
"Because I called the station and your partner… Lance?"
"He said that there'd been a shooting and that you were at the hospital. I assumed that he meant you'd been shot."
Sam reflected that, depending on how the next few minutes played out she was either going to have to slap Vince or buy him a bottle of the top shelf stuff.
"And what, you dropped everything and came running out here?"
"Yes. Is that so surprising?" Cat asked suddenly indignant. "I do care about you, and the thought of you…" She couldn't help herself, she was crying.
"Come here" Sam led her out of the double doors into the soft Scottish dusk. "I'm fine," she assured Cat, taking her ex into a comforting embrace. "Not a scratch on me."
"Wait I lie; got a paper-cut this morning." She chuckled.
"Stop. Stop making fun of me."
"I'm not. I really am touched that you were worried. And I will have words with DS Ryder for scaring you but I truly am okay." Sam started to step back.
"Don't" Cat murmured.
Sam glanced down at her quizzically
"Don't let go."
Sam pressed a soft, sad kiss into Cat's hair and whispered, "This isn't who we are anymore."
More reluctantly than Cat knew, Sam dropped her arms and put a step of distance between them.
"I really should…" She pointed over her shoulder.
"Sam I'd like to talk to you. I know you can't right now. But tonight?"
"I'm going to be at this for hours. It'll be about 1 am before I'm done."
"I don't mind. Come by the flat."
"I'm not sure that's a good idea."
"What would Frankie say?"
"It's more what would Tess say, she's moved back in."
"That's not driving you crazy?"
"Yes but sort of in a good way. And Frankie isn't…she doesn't get a say. Not in this."
"I'll call when I'm done. But if it's really late…"
It was midnight when Cat's phone rang.
"You're an hour early." Cat joked. "Where are you now?"
"Downstairs. I've been debating whether or not I was going to call all the way over here."
"I'm glad you did. Come up."
Cat was waiting at the door. "Come in. Do you want a beer? A glass of wine? A glass of something stronger?"
"What Sambuca and Um Bongo?"
"I was going to say Talisker but if you'd prefer."
"Cat, I'm not sure why I'm here. I've had the day from hell and right now this seems like a very bad idea."
"I understand. But I think if I wait, I'll lose my nerve again."
"Your nerve for what?"
"To tell you that I'm sorry. And that I love you."
Sam grimaced, "We've been over this."
"No. We haven't. You think I told you I love you, you think that I love you because you're not Frankie."
"More or less."
"I don't blame you. I made a complete mess of things."
Sam sighed and rubbed her eyes. "You can't help what you feel. And I'll tell you, Cat, I almost love you enough to be your consolation prize. Almost. Just not quite."
"That was the present tense."
"That was the present tense. You said you love me. Not that you loved me."
"Could we do this when I'm not exhausted? Maybe next week sometime?"
"I'm so sorry for what I put you through. I really am, Sam. I thought I was over her. I was over her. And then she showed up, just when you did. And I lost the plot. Suddenly it was about proving to everyone, to Frankie, to myself that I was over her."
"None of this is actually news, Cat. Look I know you didn't do it intentionally. But…" Sam shrugged.
"But you still got your heart broken?"
Sam ducked her head, so Cat couldn't see the pain in her eyes.
"Let's just say, I find myself identifying with your brother. Loving the one woman I can't have."
"Ed and Frankie both. Well if you listen to Frankie anyways."
"What do you mean?"
"Frankie claims to love the one woman she can't have either"
"Why can't she have you?"
"Because I'm in love with one of Glasgow's finest."
"Cat. Look, you thought I'd been shot, it messes with your head a little –"
"And now you think I'm messing with yours."
"Fair enough. Except that I came to this conclusion weeks ago. I've just been trying to get up the courage to beg your forgiveness. Thinking you were shot made me realize I've got to stop wasting time, it didn't change what I want to say."
"And what's that?"
"That when I finally stopped spinning I realized why I love you, Sam. And it's got nothing to do with Frankie. I love you because you're you. Because you know how to handle my mother. And because you asked me out again even after I was a total basket case. I love you because much as I know you wanted to kill her, you still rescued Frankie that time with Sadie. I love you because even though I lied, you found Alma Carter's name, because I asked you to. I love you because you appreciate my cooking. I love you because in bed you're an absolute firecracker one minute, and gentle and tender and soft the next."
"I love you because you're kind and you're funny, and you call me on it when I'm being a jerk. Really I just love you because I love you."
"Cat, I've been up since 6 am, I can't…" Sam trailed off, there were tears running down her cheeks. "I'm standing here, like a 5 year old that's lost her teddy and I…"
"Do you still love me?" Cat asked softly
"Would I be here if I didn't?"
"Then sweetheart come here." Cat took Sam into her arms.
"Cat…I…" And then the fight went out of Sam "I love you."
"I love you too."
Tess popped out of her room to get a drink of water and was met by the sight of Cat almost holding up Sam.
"Everything okay?" Tess mouthed.
Cat nodded, and she was smiling so Tess assumed that maybe in fact it was.
"Come on," Cat murmured, "Let's go to bed."
"You know I'm going to pass out the minute I touch a mattress right?"
"It's okay, I just want to sleep next to you." Cat took her lover's hand and led her unresisting into the bedroom.
Sam woke to bright streaming sunlight and the smell of coffee. She also woke to the familiar pink and grey décor of Cat's bedroom. But that she reflected might be more dream than reality. So she closed her eyes, counted to ten, then twenty for good measure, then opened them. Not only was she still in Cat's bedroom, but Cat was there too. Holding two coffee mugs
"Where you counting sheep?" Cat asked " 'Cause getting to sleep didn't seem to be a problem."
"I warned you."
"You did, but I thought you'd at least last long enough to take your shoes off." She laughed and sat on the edge of the bed, reaching out to stroke Sam's cheek.
"Well I'll tell you what. How about you put the coffee mugs somewhere safe and I'll make up for falling asleep last night."
"That's the best idea I've heard in years."
But no sooner were the words out of her mouth when Sam's jacket began to ring. Cat tossed it to her and Sam fished out her phone.
"Murray," she answered with a sigh. "Seriously? Is there no-one else? All right, just let me jump in the shower and I'll be there."
She hung up and looked at Cat.
"I am so sorry."
But Cat shook her head. "It's what I want."
"You want a girlfriend who falls asleep the minute she gets in the door and gets called into work at the crack of dawn."
"Well in that case, I'm your woman."
Cat nodded "Yes. Yes, you are."