Honderd mannen maken slechts kampement, een vrouw 'n thuis.

A hundred men can make an encampment, but it requires a woman to make a home

Dutch Proverb


The steady watery veil that was draped over the surroundings and herself made her shiver as the wind steadily picked up momentum and began piercing her clothes. The bench she sat on offered no comfort at all, and she shifted a bit to ease the discomfort. Feeling the sobs slowly falter as her heart calmed again, the tears that had been shed were lost on the droplets of water that dripped from the bangs of her wet hair on her cheeks. She felt tired, very tired. After the buzzing vibration of her phone finally was gone, with her last strength she managed to force herself to look at the screen. The digits formed the name of the man that had just shattered her dreams, and crushed her heart and she felt the strong pain sear through her nerves again. She closed her eyes. Fool, she admonished herself inwardly, what did you expect else? She smiled a bitter smile, feeling how the knot in her stomach tightened.

After a while she felt the dual vibration of an incoming message on her thigh. She closed her eyes shortly. Let me be in peace… Her eyes followed the trail of the progressing fog that crept up from the shores of Rock Creek as she had opened them again. Strangely enough, it felt as if her cell phone was almost burning through the layers of clothes and she suddenly couldn't resist retrieving it, reasoning a message wasn't as scary as talking to him. She hesitated initially before she looked at the screen, wiping away a bang of her wet hair that fell over her cheek. "Look behind you…"

Not having time himself to come to terms with the suddenness of it all he had noticed during the Beckett's visit how Sue's face paled when Tamsin had asked about their marriage. She had got up, and he thought she only left for the bathroom to recuperate, drink some water, anything. But upon finding out she had left he grew anxious, if not afraid. She had looked forlorn, sharing the same feeling he had felt but that with their neighbour's interrupted couldn't be spoken out, and when he had wanted to, she was gone.

He tried to call her several times when he raced through DC traffic, windscreen wipers fully on, but she didn't answer. Weather had worsened and the upcoming fog would soon make it very hard to make out anything. But he had no choice, he had to go after the woman he loved, that completed him on so many levels her absence felt as if he had lost a limb, was bereft of a part of his soul. His heart pained so much, out of precaution he took a pre-emptive dose of his medicines just in case the hurt over her was in fact something else. After his unsuccessful attempts to reach her he made a call to Tara and begged her for her help to find Sue. With her guidance, as well as the team's, he was now staring at the forlorn looking woman that sat mere feet away from him. Obviously hurting, she had her head rested in her hands before she looked in the distance. He could barely manage Levi to sit down next to him, the dog must have honed in on his mistress' agony and was writhing to reach her. He couldn't stand to see her like this either, and his fingers typed a message: Look behind you…

He could hear the soft dual tones that accompanied the arrival of his message on her device and for a few heart-wrenching moments she sat almost motionless before she took out her phone, wiping away her hair, a movement that even in these conditions had him spellbound. Then, slowly, she turned round and her eyes met his.

There, standing in the mist, hair moist, ashen face with her faithful hearing dog next to him was standing the man that had fully captured her heart and soul and who had been able to hurt her so much. Yet, the moment she met his dark chocolate eyes she sensed he was hurting as much as she was. The usual dark tints bleached, his strong appearance fragile. He looked lost, almost haunted and she couldn't hold back her emotions anymore. The muscles of her jaw tightened, and she began to cry.

She was breathtakingly beautiful, and so fragile, the moment he saw her crying, and he vowed that same instant that he would never be the reason for those tears again, ever. Letting go of Levi's leash he was almost as soon with her as the dog as he knelt beside her and took her in his arms, feeling her body rock with her sobs as he gently swayed her. He tenderly kissed her temple as she rested her head on his shoulder, her arms around him, holding him close. He felt the same magic that had accompanied that tender embrace that started out the wonderful life he was now sure of he could never be without again. Or to be without her.

Pressing his nose in her hair he revelled in her scent once more, feeling her shiver with his touch. A few tears were still glistening in her eyes, adding a diamond touch to her already enchanting hazel colour. He tenderly cupped her chin and he could see her lips parting, longingly, before his lips met and he poured his soul into their kiss.

"You scared me to death when I found out you were gone," he said, still holding her. She smiled a weak smile. He brought her hand to his lips and kissed it softly. "I grew afraid I had lost you when you didn't answer."

"What was I going to say?" her voice nearly faltered and she pressed her lips together, swallowing back a few tears. He smiled. "It wouldn't matter what you might have wanted to say or not," he said and raised her chin when her eyes shied down. "It would have given me the opportunity to explain what I meant to say earlier."

"I don't understand, you were pretty clear…"

"No, I wasn't. At least, not to you." He looked at their intertwined hands before he spoke again. "I never 'faked' loving you Susan, I never pretended kissing you with all my heart and soul. I never could do that after what happened Tuesday night." He stroked her hand and smiled. "Did it ever occurred to you I didn't want it to end like last time?"

A smile crept on her face and her eyes began to shimmer with more light. "I had my theories…"

"They weren't theories," he said. "I hope I somehow made that clear…" He got up to sit next to her on the bench. "You were spot on when you said I went undercover for this undercover. My plan A that still is in effect even though plan B busted." He tugged her closer and softly kissed her temple. "I couldn't care less about plan B, honestly."

The reluctant smile had gradually grown wider and brighter until it resembled the smile that always touched him, that could brighten his every mood. "That is such a sweet thing to say…"

"I mean it."

She leaned her head against his, closing her eyes shortly as her hands cupped his face. "I know…" Her lips longingly captured his and he let her tongue ravish his mouth and mind, poising his soul and still his anxious heart.

"I don't want to see this as the end," he said after they had parted for air, both slightly panting. "But rather the beginning."

"Me too." Sue fumbled with the slips on her jacket. "I'm sorry." She looked up again and smiled. "It's just…" She sighed before continuing. "It's a crazy day, I never expected it to end so soon, so abrupt. Then there was you as well, the things that were said…I couldn't take it, Jack and I ran…"

"It's okay, I found you before darkness set, which is good, because I get spooked in the dark quite easily." She smiled with his remark. "Especially if I'm alone."

"You're not alone now."

"That's why I'm not spooked yet." He playfully tipped her nose and drew a tender, sensual line over her lips which led her to suddenly nibble his finger. "Hey…"

She bit her lip, her eyes playfully. "Just checking if you're really not spooked."


"You're not."

"That's what I said." He squinted his eyes as he stared off towards Hawthorne. "But we're running out of time. And you're wet as well."

"I'm okay."

"You are, now. But if that wind keeps on going you'll catch a bad cold."

"Only if you promise to spoil me when I do," she said and stole a kiss from him. She hugged him and felt how he warmed her through her damp clothes. "Thank you."

"For what?"

"Coming after me."

He smiled. "I love you, Sue. That contributes to a very incoherent brain at times, but sometimes there's sense somewhere around. It seemed the right thing to do, anyway."

She had to smile with his quip and she leaned over for a small grateful kiss on his cheek. "I love you too, but still. Thank you." He draped his arm around her when they got up, pulling her close and unwilling to let her go again, with Levi happily dashing round them. "Come, let's bring you home."

Home, she thought and had to smile. Which one… Halfway through the drive she noticed that wherever they were going, it wasn't to her place in Northeast. She frowned initially but that was quickly replaced by an ever more pounding heart and a knot in her stomach from anticipation. "Where are we going?"

"You'll see," he said and smiled. When they turned the corner to their street and through the fading daylight their house came into view, the chandelier shining bright and from the windows light was streaming, her breathing nearly faltered. He halted his car on the sweep and killed the ignition. The soft vibration of the engine died and she looked at him. "What… what's going on?"

"Come inside and I'll tell you." He leaned over for a tender kiss that sent her heart speeding. "That is, if you want to…" God, yes…

He reached for her hand and she felt the magical touch tantalising her senses as if it was electrical and together they climbed the stone steps that led to the entrance. Only letting go of her hand to retrieve the keys and open the door he stepped inside and motioned her to follow him. Her heart racing she did as he walked through the hall and into the living room where all the lights had been switched on. As soon as she stepped into the room her breath caught as she saw the whole team standing there. Dimitrius, Bobby, Tara, Myles, Lucy, Garrett, Troy, Charlie and even the Becketts. They were all smiling at her. "Welcome home!"

"I…" she turned to look at Jack who tried to look casual, but failed. "W..what's going on, what are you doing here?"

"We're here to welcome you back again, in your house. And to bear witness to the occasion," Myles said. "Only following orders, Sheila," Bobby responded. Tara and Lucy hugged her, smiling both. "HOME, TRUE WELCOME GIVE (you) US WANT."

"But…why here? I don't understand." She turned to Jack. He took her hand and she felt her heart jolt with this motion. Her eyes fixed on his lips.

"I really went for an assignment within an assignment this time. Of the mind and heart, and when the idea came up I could only hope you would be willing to follow me." He smiled. "What I never told you is that this house was part of the assignment."

"I, I know, we lived here…"

"No, that's not it. I made it part of the deal." Her brows drew and she was confused, the smiling faces of her friends did little to help her out. "I don't quite follow you…"

Garrett waved for her attention. "The only way Jack was willing to step into this assignment with you was that he would be able to buy the house afterwards. After he told us what he had planned for it, we agreed."

Sue looked back at Jack. "I had vowed that this time, I couldn't let this opportunity pass, and to have you live with me. Not only now, but for the times to come." Suddenly feeling nervous, he smiled as he touched her ring. "The true assignment this time was to let you know just how much you mean to me. And to show you how much I love you…" He gestured at the gathered team. "I called them as soon as you were gone, to find out where you had gone. And when I knew where to look, I instructed them to come here. It supposedly helps to make me do what I'm about to do next."

Her breath caught as he kneeled in front of her and from Bobby he received a small black velvet covered box. With trembling hand he opened it and embedded in white silk lay the most beautiful ring she had ever seen. The small blue diamond that twinkled in the light that touched it adding a gracious and enchanting touch. He looked up to her and swallowed hard, and met a pair of wonderfully flushed hazel eyes that suddenly made everything easy. "Susan Thomas, will you marry me?"

With a barely withheld cry she threw her arms around his neck as tears streamed down her cheeks. "Yes, I do!... god, I do, I do…." He had seen her cry earlier but that did not resemble anything he was witnessing now as she cried tears of happiness, love and longing and he couldn't do anything else than kiss her passionately, forgetting they were not alone. When they parted, her hands were still caressing his face, hair, and her cheeks were wet with tears as she smiled the most beautiful smile ever. He swayed her lovingly before he took her hand. With bated breath she watched as he tenderly took her 'old' ring and slid the real one over her finger. She looked up into his eyes, filled with love and burning with passion. And everything came together, right at that very moment. All those years were forgotten, all ifs and buts rendered irrelevant as the man of her heart was truly hers. The token of his love and affection now crowning her hand for everyone to see.

"Welcome home, Sue," he said and kissed her tenderly, thus starting a whole new assignment. One that would last forever.

The End