For Shelleymh

Takes place during Chambers vs. Malone

Sam had had enough. Here he was, being persecuted for allegedly (allegedly being the key word) assaulting Diane and it was no longer a joke. At first he thought it was cute, Diane was playing her little games, but now it was obvious that things were more serious than he'd wanted to believe. She'd walked into, or rather limped into, the courtroom wearing a neck brace and using a cane, and he only hoped the judge would see how ridiculous this situation was.

What was Diane thinking? Was she really willing to send him to jail just to prove a point? It most certainly seemed that way. If he said the wrong thing or looked at Diane the wrong way, then it was off to jail he went. This was serious. He was a local businessman, a well-respected one at that, and for him to leave his bar for a period of time would probably prove fatal for Cheers. He'd had enough, and he was going to put Diane Chambers in her place for once and for all. Maybe it was time for a call back to Goldenfarms or wherever she'd stayed years ago. Certainly she couldn't be in her right mind to pull a stunt like this.

Maybe jail would be good for him. Maybe it would be just the break he needed to get away from Diane. Lord knew he couldn't stay away on his own. He'd tried so many times just to end things, but those breaks never lasted. He always went back to her, no matter what had transpired between them. He had it bad, and now it was going to cost him his livelihood- and worse, his freedom.

Was it really that bad? Was it so bad being with Diane? After all, he'd had some of his best moments of his life with her. Their private life was exciting, he had to concede, and she challenged him like no other woman before had. Yes, he always liked to get the last word, but Sam found that when she bested him verbally, it wasn't too bad.

Actually, he kind of liked it when she would have the edge, although he would never admit it to her. There was something so appealing about a smart chick, even though Sam had always stuck with the dumb ones throughout his life. Diane was a challenge, yes, but she was exciting and vital and fresh, some of the things that turned him on so much about her. Even at his lowest, he'd found that he couldn't just get Diane Chambers out of his mind.

Even before Tom, his lawyer, suggested it, Sam knew what he was going to do. He was going to ask Diane to marry him, again, whether or not that made him the biggest fool in the universe. He knew he just had to make her his, no matter what the cost. And the cost was high- he'd already lost his pride the first few times he'd proposed to her, but now this was no joking matter. He wanted to-needed to- marry Diane, even if it meant a few months behind the bars. Boy was he getting soft in his years.

"Mr. Malone?" the judge demanded.

Sam knew it was make it or break it time. So here went nothing. "Diane, will you marry me?"

She stared at him, then the judge. "That didn't sound very sincere. Did that sound sincere to you?"

The judge asked him to repeat himself, and this time Sam knew what the answer would be. No was no longer an option- they'd tried every other one.

"Will you marry me?"

And just like that, she accepted. She said yes! Of course, he was still too angry with her to experience the moment, but that would pass. She would marry him, and finally all the games could be laid to rest.

After everyone in the courtroom had cleared, Diane once again threw a wrench into his plans by letting him off the hook. To his surprise, it was he who would not take no for an answer.

"They can keep me from killing you, but they can't keep me from marrying you," he smiled as she ran into his embrace.

And just like that, they were engaged, and for Sam, that was the best outcome of all.

0000

That night, at Sam's apartment, Diane prepared him a meal as they chatted about the weather, the news, the bar, anything but the engagement. It was the white elephant in the room, and Sam knew Diane well enough to know that she wouldn't let the matter rest. So he cleared his throat, and took her by the hand and pulled her close to him.

"So where do you want to do it?" he asked, taking in her intoxicating perfume.

"I beg your pardon?" Diane laughed. "I believe we've broken in every room in your apartment, and mine as well. What's next for us, the Great Wall of China?"

Sam smiled. "No. Where do you want to get married?"

She lit up. "You mean it? You really want to get married?"

"I wouldn't have asked if I didn't mean it. You should know that by now. Or maybe that's another subject."

"Yes, Sam, I believe you. I'm sorry for everything I put you through. It's just that marriage is the biggest decision a couple can make, and I feared we were entering into the commitment for all of the wrong reasons."

"Well I'm nuts about you, you're nuts about me. What better reason can there be?" As soon as he asked her he regretted his words, knowing a full scale discussion was about to take place.

"That's a good question. Why are we getting married?"

"Because you threatened me with jail time if I didn't?"

"That's not funny," she pouted as she pulled away.

He pulled her back to where she was now sitting on his lap. "Because no one else would have you, and no one else would have me. Is that reason enough?"

"Not really. I was looking for something more…meaningful."

"Look," he took her hand. "If you're asking for fancy schmancy words, I can't give them to you. If you want someone who is well educated and makes a million dollars a year, well, I can't give that to you either. But what I can give you is the knowledge that we'll never be bored, we'll always keep each other on our toes, and that I know without a doubt that there is no other woman for me."

"Oh, Sam," Diane sighed. "Why can't it be like this all the time?"

"You mean, why can't we have the highs without the lows? I don't know. Somehow I think the lows make us appreciate the highs that much more. There will be trying times, and I know we're going to have our share of arguments, but it's the making up that I look forward to the most. I correct that. It's knowing that we will always make up that I look forward to the most."

She rested her head against his broad shoulders, content in the fact that while he may never be perfect, she indeed knew that she had found the man of her dreams. And she smiled, knowing that that night they had a lot of making up to do. She could hardly wait to begin.

The end