A/N: For once, I've got a good plan for what's going to happen, as opposed to my usual whims. So here goes. Enjoy, and please review. I do not own Rookie Blue. I wish...
After six months, or twenty six weeks, or one hundred and eighty two days, they were face to face in the middle of the barn, and he was just staring at her. His face was expressionless. He was never an easy read, not even for her, but she could usually pick up on things. But today, nothing, no sense of what was going on in his head.
She'd been on her way out of her talk with Frank about when he wanted her back on shift. Seeing as they ran the entire op out of town, she was done with it all, and completely prepared to leave it in the past, if she could. They'd already been into a session with a therapist, her and Nick, and the doctor saw no need for any immediate counseling. But surely enough, they'd be required to see her twice a week until she saw fit. Other than that, they were fine for active duty. The take down had been somewhat abrupt, and there was confusion about when in the deal they'd be interrupting. It got... messy, to say the least.
He hadn't seen her coming through the barn doors, but he immediately focused his gaze back to his computer screen when he saw her leaving Frank's office. Of course Traci would choose that moment to throw down their case file, and tell him to take it to Frank. He knew it wasn't a strategic plan, Traci hadn't noticed her yet. Had she noticed Andy's return, she would've squealed, ran straight for her and wrap her in a death grip until she promised to never take off again. Sam would be perfectly fine with that. Better she say it than him.
She just stood there looking at him with tired lifeless eyes. He'd done this. He'd made her go. Had he stayed with her, there wouldn't have been any need for her to take some time and space. Had he just promised her dinners, garbage disposal and a walked dog at first, she would never have gone. Andy's color was gone, she was as white as a ghost. Her cheek bones, and clavicle seemed more prominent than before. He recalled in that moment that he once told her that some men think that dark circles around the eyes give a woman's face character. But this was a little extreme. He tried so hard to not let her see the pain it caused him. Sam was well aware that when you're UC you often can't see the changes your body has taken on. There was no way in hell Sam was going to make her feel anything less than beautiful, so he just blocked it out of his mind. He didn't look at her like his Andy, but as a colleague who was on her way out. He took a step to the side and moved beyond her and didn't let himself stop until he had already knocked on Frank's door.
When he let himself look back over his shoulder at her, she had her eyes closed and was releasing a deep breath as though she was disappointed with what just happened. He screwed his eyelids shut for a second while grinding his back teeth knowing he'd handle that encounter wrong. But right know he had a case to solve, and he'd just have to explain that to her later, when the inevitable conversation would ensue.
Traci was sitting in the office when she first noticed the familiar brown coat walking across the barn. She was on her feet in a heartbeat, and standing in front of Andy within seconds.
"Andy." She said simply, hugging her best friend tightly. "I'm so glad you're back, safe."
Andy let herself get lost in the embrace, and let a few tears fall in a moment of weakness. Traci pulled back, and noticed the uncharacteristic tears shed, and decided this should be a little more private.
Once they were alone in the locker room, Traci continued where they left off, by wrapping an arm over Andy's shoulder and squeezing her.
"What's wrong?" She asked.
"I just missed you is all. Didn't think six months without you could be that difficult." Andy said, wiping beneath her eyes with her sleeve. "I'm sorry that I left like that. I really did miss you."
"I missed you too dude. It hasn't been the same without you here. I'm just happy you and Nick got home safe. I read that case file, it must've been hard." Traci said empathetically. The taskforce was trying to shut down a human trafficking ring, dealing with exported women coming into Canada to become prostitutes. And Andy, with that lions heart, was going to be on the inside of it all.
"How did you..." Andy trailed off, amazed that she'd somehow gotten an in on the case.
"I was offered the spot first, Andy. When Luke told me I couldn't say goodbye to Leo, I had to turn it down. That's why you left with such little notice." Traci explained, putting her hand over Andy's.
"I shouldn't have gone. I wasn't built for long term undercover. I should've known that that wasn't a way to get time and space." Andy said, not really making much sense to Traci. But none the less, Traci sat and listened. "How's Leo? I wish I hadn't just picked up and left like that, he doesn't need anyone else important disappearing on him."
Traci looked at Andy and saw a heap of regret written all over her face. Guilt was the next guest to make an appearance.
"Andy, he's good. He's doing very well. And you were so good with him while I was... let's say out of commission. He was probably getting sick of you anyways." Traci joked, bumping Andy's shoulder a little.
A fellow officer entered the change room, and that's when Traci realized maybe this was a conversation better suited for a later time.
"I'm coming over tonight okay? I'll bring the wine." She said, before dragging Andy back out into the hall. "I love you, dude." Traci said hugging her tightly, one last time. "I'll see you in a few hours."
"Do me a favour Trace, don't tell the others I'm home just yet. I'll visit them a little later this week, but for now, I just need you."
As promised, five hours later, while the sun was setting over the cityscape, Traci was sitting in Andy's living room nursing a glass of red wine.
"Sam made detective." She said casually, fishing for a reaction. No one had to tell her it was a cheap shot, she was well aware, but she also knew that Andy would be as guarded as ever. She had her shields up for six months, it wouldn't be easy to bring them down.
"I was wondering why he was out of uniform. It'll be good for him." Andy said without much given away. Her face looked as though it was simply too tired to react to anything. Like nothing was going to shock or surprise her. Andy had always been a terrible liar, and her friends could usually bank on that. But it was evident that she learned a lot while she was away, and maybe she had a tougher poker face to read than anyone could've predicted. "How was he? At first?"
Traci was a little thrown off by Andy's inquiry, but didn't hold back or question her curiosity.
"He was... the same as he'd been for the last little while. Sad, distant. I don't know Andy, the man's hard to read. I guess something was a little off, but I really couldn't tell you what." She confessed.
Andy nodded, taking in what Traci just told her. She took another gulp of wine, and looked back to her friend.
"He told me he loved me when I was holding the grenade." She admitted, sighing as she felt the weight lift from her shoulders.
"What!?" Traci all but yelled. Andy nodded, confirming that Traci heard her right.
"We were in that basement, and he just said it. He said that he loved me, and do you want to know what my genius response was? 'I'm holding a bomb'. You know what I wanted to say? 'Next time please pick a more convenient time. The following are acceptable: in bed, over dinner, or when we're actually still in a relationship.' Do you want to know what his response was? 'So am I.' And then, he put his hands over mine." Andy went through the story slowly, taking the appropriate pauses for Traci to absorb what was being said.
"He, finally, gave me exactly what I wanted, but I found away to be my stubborn self, and let him off the hook for saying it. And then, he stands up and tells me that he meant what he said. But instead of solidifying his declaration, he made a joke about he meant what he said about there being 206 bones in the human body, cause before, I'd asked him... And I just felt like he was going to charm his way out of standing by what he said. All I really wanted was for him to let me know that he was serious about us. So I got ready to storm out and never look back. And every time I said I was done, or didn't care, he was right there making promises that he would prove his love. He'd do all the work to regain my trust, and love. He offered to start by meeting for a drink, and instead, I take off for six months. Surprise! Turns out I'm a fan of time and space."
Traci let her friend go on, afraid that if she interrupted with questions, Andy would raise her defenses again. So despite the emotions and questions that coursed through her, she continued to listen patiently. All the while, Sam's behavior over the last few months made more and more sense.
"I had to go though Traci. Whether or not he'd said all those things, I still would've left. I wanted to be free to make the decision without him being a factor, because I owe that to myself. Right?" She looked up at her friend before drinking more wine. "I love him. I do. And even though I wanted to meet him, I just knew that I'd never be able to respect myself again if my staying was only because of him. I put a lot of faith on him being able to understand why I had to go. And I'm terrified to find out what he thought."
Andy claimed to be terrified, but Traci continued to look at a blank face. She couldn't possibly understand what Andy had been through to become this shell, but she was far more open with her feelings than she'd been before. It was an unlikely trade off, blank face for a river of feelings, but at least Andy hadn't lost her whole sense of self.
"I guess now I just wait. I wait to see what he says. I wait for him to tell me how he wants this to go."
Traci noticed Andy's empty glass, and leaned over to pour her a little more. Story time had only just begun.