"C'mon McNally," he drawled knowing full well that he wasn't even attempting to hide the smirk on his face. "Is that any way to treat your break up buddy?"

She snorted at him and stopped spinning on her heal to face him. Her eyes narrowed at him, but the hint of a smile tugged at her lips. "Self-appointed break up buddy. Not asked. So yeah," she shrugged at him. "I see nothing wrong with saying no."

"McNally," he called after her as he struggled to laugh. "This like, violates the code or something and possibly the rules!"

He let out a belting laugh as she threw her hand up and waved good bye to him as she headed to parade. "No way Collins!"

He stopped short with a grin on his face and he knew how to win this fight. Instead of being nice, he'd challenge her. Andy McNally wouldn't turn down a dare/bet/challenge however you wanted to frame it and then he'd win. He shouted out to her not bothering who heard him, "Wanna bet McNally?"

He watched her stop short of the doorway to the parade room and her shoulders square before she spun on her heel in an about face with a raised eyebrow. "Nope."

Collins felt his grin grow. He knew from the determined glint to her eyes and her vocal defiance that she was actually curious. He had her now. Trying desperately to keep the grin on his face, Nick picked up his pace and headed towards her.

From his seat on the corner of his desk, Oliver Shaw nudged his fellow officer. He had been watching the exchange between McNally and Collins with a sense of unease and awe. They had been partnered the last year since Sam had rushed into a UC job to escape the repercussions of Jerry's death and his break up with McNally. While everyone, or at least it had seemed at the time, had told Sam to deal with his feelings to save his relationship with McNally, he'd refused and jumped head first into a long term UC, deciding not to stick around after McNally and Collins had agreed to Callaghan's task force.

For her part though, McNally had been defiant since her return. She wore her hurt in her eyes, but it mellowed her out a bit, made her pay attention to the details around her a bit more. Knowing that Sam had left, she stopped looking about the room during parade and put her entire focus into her work. She had a single minded focus on the job as the walls went up. Shaw had commented more then once that she was like Sam in many ways when she didn't want to acknowledge that she might actually need someone.

And so they had watched her carefully, all of her former TO's, even Frank. Hell even Callaghan had decided to stick around and watch her back as she grieved for the loss of her relationship with Sam Swarek. But gradually they saw the hurt become better hidden, and while she never allowed any of them to get too close, she had allowed Collins inside the walls a bit. She was comfortable with him in a way that was unexplainable to the rest of the division. In a way they knew Sam wouldn't care for and it made everyone else uneasy.

They had been partners for the better part of a year and it seemed to be an effortless partnership. The division held a collective breathe the first few weeks Sam had been gone and the newly minted duo returned to normal duty. They all silently prayed for Collins. Andy McNally had a knack for finding her way into dangerous situations and they all hoped fervently that Collins had her back in fear of what Swarek may do if anything happened to her in his absence.

But gradually, the anxiety for Collins was replaced by an awe in the easiness of their playful banter and high arrest rates. They never quite got as high as Andy and Sam's but it was good. They were a solid partnership and relatively drama free minus the few blow out that they had, but that was normal in any partnership. Andy McNally's bad side was a place no one wanted to be, but like Swarek, Collins wasn't afraid to go there to prove a point.

So after nearly a year of observing his rookie come into her own with Sam by her side, her first real partnership after him, and the way they bantered back and forth and quietly supported the other, Oliver Shaw was slightly concerned. Sam wouldn't be gone forever, at least he hoped not, and it had almost been a year. The Anton Hill case had only lasted eight months and that had been Sam's longest op until now. Oliver knew that time away would give Sam the space he thought he needed to pull himself together, but he prayed that his friend would be able to deal with the mess he had made by leaving.

Those were the thoughts running through Oliver Shaw's head when he nudged Williams and jerked his head in the direction of McNally and Collins.

"Should we be worried about that," he said in a distant voice, like he wasn't sure that he wanted an answer.

Noelle looked up at him, and then over at McNally and Collins. She shrugged and got up to head to parade. "They're a good team. It was good for them to be partnered together after everything."

"Sammy isn't going to like how good of a team they are," Oliver said absentmindedly thinking about his friend.

"Then he shouldn't have left," Noelle said back defiantly. "He should have fixed this while she still wanted it."

"You think she doesn't want to fix them," He asked looking at his friend as if the idea was new and shocking.

"Would you?"

Oliver reached up to scratch the back of his head in a concerned manner. "C'mon Noelle," he said trying to make a point. "It's Sammy and McNally. They're a done deal. Meant to be."

"And he still threw it all away Ollie," Noelle patted him on the shoulder.

"She ran away," Oliver countered feeling the need to justify what none of them fully understood.

"So did he," Noelle deadpanned. "A couple times if you think about it. He didn't want to deal so he broke her heart, then he let her leave without fighting, and instead of going after her, he went under. He ran again instead of dealing with it."

Oliver trailed after his friend and silently prayed that Noelle wasn't right. He hoped that Sammy's time away put it into perspective for him. He also hoped fervently that McNally hadn't given up. She was never a quitter, but she had gotten better at not flinching at the mention of Sam's name. He only prayed that it wasn't because she stopped caring, that she stopped loving him. That would be the death knell for Sam Swarek.


"C'mon McNally!"

"No," she replied drily, her annoyance clearly present in her voice.

"It's for Chris," Collins whined with a smirk on his face. He was bound and determined to get her to cave in and the fastest way to do that was to get play on her willingness to do anything for her friends.

A snort was his only answer and he watched in amusement as her hands tightened on the steering wheel as they patrolled the streets. The increased attitude and blatant denials meant that she was already fighting with herself. Nick Collins almost let the smirk playing on his lips grow into a full grown grin.

Andy saw him struggling to maintain his facial features and she knew that he knew she was going to cave in. Damn it!

"You can wipe that smirk off your face," she nearly growled at him not bothering to look at him. "I'm not doing it."

Nick merely sat back in his seat and let his smirk broaden into a mega-watt grin. Six months being cramped in close quarters undercover coupled with being her partner for the last six months told him that he'd already won this fight. Payback was going to be a bitch, but for now this month's contest, it was McNally 0, Collins 1.

Out of the corner of her eye, Andy saw Nick's reaction and struggled not to grimace. Even knowing that she lost, she refused to lose gracefully. "Shut up Collins!"

His reaction was a barking laugh as he nearly doubled over in his seat. Another peel of laughter followed Andy closing her fist and punching him in the chest to vent some of her frustration.

"I'll pick you up at eight McNally," Nick laughed as he rubbed his chest.


I started writing this during 3x11 and then sat on it on the first two chapters until the season was over. Tweaked it a bit due to the ending, but I had Sam leaving originally because that's what I saw happening, and I've since gone back in to make some edits (obviously). I'm working a couple chapters ahead right now, so hopefully there is enough interest as I play with season 4 (sans Marlo I think).