A/N: I'm not so sure about this chapter, either, haha. Not sure that I wrote Sandra and Gerry very well. Oh well.

And thanks for all of you who have reviewed; it means a lot!

Sarah x


"Gerry," Sandra spoke for the first time since Steve and Brian left, dead on five o'clock. Gerry honestly believed they were torturing him. He was staying until eight to make up for the hours he went missing; he wasn't really demanded to since he put in extra hours anyway, but he did feel bad for leaving Sandra in the lurch.

He pretended not to hear her, not particularly looking forward to the conversation that was about to follow. It would either be about Sarabeth or, even worse, about what had almost happened earlier today in Sandra's office. "Gerry!" she almost shouted for his undivided attention. He was forced to look up this time, because there was no way he could have missed that tone of voice.

"Sandra?" he asked, as when he looked around, her expression was softer than he'd seen it in a long time. Defensive, but soft. It was the expression that reminded him that, underneath it all, she was warm-hearted.

"About earlier..." she began. "I'm-"

He cut her off, hoping it would end the conversation before it started. "I'm sorry," he apologised. "I don't know what came over me." That was a lie, of course. It was the same thing that always came over him when he was with Sandra: a desire to pull her close to him and kiss her until she let herself go.

"I'm not sorry," she said firmly, taking him very much by surprise. He stood up to face her across his desk, wondering where the bloody hell this had come from. This was not like Sandra, to be so unreserved. She hadn't meant to do that today, and he knew that, and it wasn't her usual behaviour. She normally wouldn't have stood up and asked him why he did the things he did. She normally wouldn't have allowed his hand to reach out and touch her, and she wouldn't have even thought of touching him, either.

"Are you kidding me?" he asked disbelievingly. "You are actually-"

"No, I'm not," she replied, deadly serious. And then he saw it. The moment the past nine years had been working up to had finally arrived. She walked very carefully towards him, and he felt her cold hands on his face. Her touch sent electricity through his spine, and he did what he felt was natural. He moved his face in towards hers, waiting a second to gauge her reaction. And she did react. Very suddenly.

He felt her pull his lips straight into hers, and he felt her kiss him so passionately that it almost seemed violent. Her lips were hungrily attacked his, so he responded with equal passion, crushing his lips into hers. He felt himself pushed back into the wall. What was this? This wasn't normal. This wasn't Sandra.

He took her firmly by her wrists and forced her back. This wasn't right. He had misgivings about her sudden disregard for caution. "Sandra, what's going on?" he asked her. "This isn't like you." He had to question her motives; she wasn't one to do things like that. Especially with him.

"How old am I, Gerry?" she asked him. What an odd question to ask.

"Fifty-one," he answered simply, and he watched as she cringed slightly at the reminder.

"Exactly," she sighed. "And I have absolutely nobody. You see, every man I go anywhere near is either a bastard underneath the charm, or they're scared of me and my temper, or they complain I don't have time for them..." she confessed, trailing off as she leaned against his desk. He saw it. He saw what had happened to her. She was incredibly lonely. "But you, Gerry, you're not scared of me. My temper doesn't bother you. You understand my work and the time it takes up. You've got a good heart. And I've somehow fallen for you...you're so easy to love."

He was taken aback by her honesty. And he could tell that's exactly what it was. She was, for once, being honest with him. Purely because she obviously hated it. Her bright blue eyes, usually shining with spirit and purpose, now shone with tears of loneliness. He felt his heart crack at her unhappiness.

He closed the gap between them and wrapped his arms around her body. Because she was leaning, she was considerably shorter than him, and he could feel her head fall onto his chest. Her arms were tight around him, and he knew she actually needed him. That she was telling the truth in her roundabout way. "OK," he sighed into her sweet blonde hair. "OK. That was a bit of a shock," he chuckled, and she snorted herself. He regained his courage quickly. "You're everything, Sandra. Nine years. Nine years of pure bloody torture. And nine years of watching over you while you make your life miserable."

"I don't mean to make my life miserable," she retorted quietly. "It's just the way I am."

"And you're perfect," he reminded her. "You're strong and beautiful."

Gerry's phone rang, and he nearly jumped out of his skin. He looked at the number and didn't recognise it, but answered it anyway. "Gerry Standing, UCOS," he said out of nothing more than habit.

"Mr. Standing," a female voice said. "This is Nurse Torres in Saint Bartholomew's hospital," she told him.

"Oh, God," he groaned, realising what might have happened. "Sarabeth?" he asked. Sandra's head snapped up, still clinging to his body. "Is she alright? Well, as alright as she can be?" he corrected.

"She was on the street when she started bleeding from her nose and mouth. Her mouth filled with blood and she had to cough it out, so a passer-by phoned for an ambulance," the nurse explained. "Her leukaemia is the probable cause of it, though the doctor doesn't want to discharge her without someone to look after her."

"OK, I'll be there soon," he asserted. He hung up the phone without waiting for an answer. "Sarabeth. She needs taken home from the hospital."

"Oh, Christ. Is she alright?" Sandra whispered. He nodded as he put on his coat. She hesitated before she spoke again. "Gerry, do you think I could come with you? Do you think I could meet her? I just want to see why you did what you did," she explained. Well, she was full of surprises tonight, wasn't she.

"Come on, then," he smiled slightly. She put her coat on, and linked her arm in his. He felt closer to her now than ever before – she'd let him in. Explained what she felt. And he had come to realise that she really was everything. She was the one he worried about, and the one he felt a strange passion for.

That passion all too often burst out, in the form of an intense argument, or a strangely quiet drink in the pub where they said nothing but stole glances at each other. He remembered when she'd put herself in harm's way before, when she'd gone diving, and he'd been so frustrated. She pulled him up for it, and he finally admitted that the source of his feelings was not in fact chauvinism, but the fierce need to keep her safe.

And when she shouted at him more than the others, he knew she didn't really mean it all. Jack had once commented on it – perhaps sarcastically at the time – but he'd come to see that actually there could be a great deal explained by the theory of Sandra Pullman masking desire with hatred.

One thing he had noticed was that, years ago, when she was making fun of him and accused him for not asking her to marry him, when she said she wouldn't do it anyway, she'd looked away ever so slightly. She'd laughed, but there was that look in her eye that she only got when she was deceiving.

All those memories came flooding back as they walked across the car park. He remembered kissing her cheek when posing as her fiancé, and her warning him off. But the heat of her skin had told a different story. How beautiful she always looked, even when she was hungover or drunk or crying. She was always stunning.

Once he was driving the car towards the hospital, Sandra broke the unsettled silence. "What were you saying? Before the phone rang?"

"I was saying you're strong and beautiful. Just perfect," he told her. "Didn't you hear me the first time?" he asked her, not understanding how she could possibly have missed that in the heavy silence of the office.

"I heard it," she smiled. "I just wanted to hear you say it again."


Hope this is OK!
Please leave me a review and tell me how I did!
Sarah x