I thought of a little scene with Sam receiving a surprising assortment of gifts while at Sarah's. It didn't really seem to want to develop into too much though so I'm keeping it as a short little bit of Christmas conversation. Hope you enjoy it.

Standard Fare: I own nothing Rookie Blue and I thank SairsJ for giving this the once over.


Sam and Sarah had just flopped down onto the couch at the tail end of Christmas Eve. Sarah's husband had finally got the kids to bed and he immediately followed after them. The Swarek siblings though still needed a bit more time to unwind.

Sam blew out a long breath as soon as he hit the cushions.

"What's wrong?"

"Nothing, just been a long week I guess."

Sarah squinted as she ran her eyes over him. "Something's different though."

Sam shrugged his shoulders as his eyes wandered around the room. "Looks the same to me."

"Not what I meant and you know it," she admonished, nudging his side with her elbow.

"Sarah."

Her eyes rolled as her head flitted from side to side in frustration. "It's fine Sam. Whatever. You don't want to talk about it; I get it. I… I don't know why I thought it would be any different."

"There's nothing to talk about."

"Of course not. The story's always the same. You're awesome."

"That's what they tell me," he bragged.

"Oh yeah? Who tells you that? Your girlfriend?" She taunted.

Sam huffed out an ironic breath.

"What? Did she break up with you?" It was only for a millisecond, but she felt Sam's body tense beside her. "Oh my God! You do have a girlfriend," she blurted.

Sam frowned. "Had remember? You just said we broke up."

"Well, the kind of girl that breaks up with a guy right before Christmas isn't worth being upset over," she assured him.

Sam's voice was so quiet she almost didn't hear him. "I broke up with her."

"Sam," she chided, but then her eyes got wide. "It's not because…"

"What?" He had no idea what she could be so worried about.

Sarah's eyes were clouded with hurt. "Did you not want her to meet us?"

Sam was quick to refute her. "No, no Sarah. It's not that." He took a deep breath. "We've actually been broken up for a while now."

Sarah's brow wrinkled in confusion. "But you… you're… oh my God."

"Sarah," Sam muttered in warning.

She was shaking her head. "No, Sam. This is… I mean why would you… when you obviously…" She finally settled on "what happened?"

Before Sam could respond, she told him. "You have to get her back."

Sam's eyes dropped to his hands. "It's not that easy."

Sarah sighed. "I wish we would have gotten you help too."

"Sarah."

"No Sam," she argued, "you went through it too."

Sam's head was shaking minutely. "We couldn't… and it was nothing compared to…"

Sarah reached out a hand to cover his. "You still needed to talk about it. It would have helped you learn how to work things through instead of just pushing them down and pretending everything was okay."

"I think I've done pretty well for myself."

"You've become an amazing man Sam," she agreed. "But you deserve so much more. You deserve to be happy. No, you deserve happily ever after but when you get married, you have to…"

"Whoa! Who said anything about marriage?"

"Sam," her voice was low. "This is different; I can tell. And you can't just keep it all in and expect…"

"I've had girlfriends before," he grumbled.

Sarah was shaking her head again. "Sam, you really haven't. You've had…" She looked up to the ceiling for an answer but it didn't come. "I can't even say friends with benefits because you've never been friends with a woman, Sam. It was always just physical with you. You never let anyone in."

Sam shot his sister a glare. "Give me some credit. I did talk to them."

"Sure, but did you ever share anything significant?"

Sarah could see him struggling to find something but so far he had no response. "And was it the same with this girl?"

Sam shrugged self-consciously before his admission. "She knows about what happened to you."

Sarah's eyes grew wide and when Sam snuck a peek at her she made sure to let him see that she wasn't mad. "That's great. What else did you tell her?"

"Uh…"

"Seriously Sam?"

"Well she didn't share a whole lot either," he griped.

Sarah just passed him a look, the same one she gave her kids when they were acting like little children.

"She didn't," Sam muttered more to himself than her.

"Okay, so she wasn't perfect either, but did she hide things from you, keep them all bottled up and refuse to talk about them?"

He knew what she was implying and he was going down swinging. "She did tell me once that her issues with her mom didn't concern me, that she didn't need me weighing in on everything."

Sarah pulled her head back in surprise feeling a little insulted on Sam's behalf. "She said that."

As soon as Sam saw the look on Sarah's face, he knew he couldn't let Andy take the fall on her own. He gave his sister a sheepish smile. "Well, to be fair, it was after I ran a background check on her mom without telling her."

"Sam!"

"I know, I know," he granted. "I just wanted to protect her."

Sarah decided to give him that. When he cared for someone, he went to great lengths to keep them safe. And the fact that he felt the need to protect her spoke volumes. "Did she shut down then? What happened?"

"I admitted that I went about it wrong…"

"Sam Swarek admitted he was wrong?" She interrupted, exaggerating her surprise.

Sam glared at his sister. "I went about it wrong."

Sarah just grinned at him smugly.

Sam shook his head and ignored the gloating. "And she let me take her home."

"Oooh," she teased.

"To her housewarming party."

"Oh," she huffed out in disappointment.

Sam chuckled. "But she didn't kick me out at the end of the night if that makes you feel any better."

"It does. Thank you," Sarah responded smiling back at him. "So after the party then…"

Sam just lifted an insinuating eyebrow at her.

Sarah's cheeks turned a bright red as she slapped her brother across the chest. "Oh my God, Sam. I'm asking if you talked about it later."

Sam couldn't help but snicker at his sister's discomfort.

"Shut up."

Sam was still grinning. "So which is it? Do you want me to shut up or do you want to hear this?"

Sarah just dropped her chin and glared.

"McNally doesn't really know how to shut down. Well she does," he reconsidered, "when she's upset, but when that passes her allergy to silence usually kicks in and everything else comes out."

"So you talked?"

Sam tilted his head to the side. "It was a little more like she vented and I was there to listen but yeah, we talked about it."

"That's good," Sarah encouraged before her brow furrowed. "So why… and you say you broke up with her?"

Sam's chin dropped to his chest; he'd already shared way more than he intended. And he really wasn't up to any more judgement; he pushed his body away from the back of the couch. "Why don't we call it a night?"

Sarah huffed out a small chuckle. "The force is strong in you my friend."

She saw the corner of Sam's lips tug up a little. And that was enough to encourage her to keep going. "Hey, we've come this far; no reason to back up now."

She felt Sam sink back down into the cushions.

"Have you talked since?"

Sam pursed his lips together. "You mean besides me asking for my keys back?"

Sarah's mouth dropped open in surprise. "You gave her the keys to your house?"

Sam shook his head. "No, the keys to the truck."

Her eyes were as wide as saucers. "You really did love her."

Do, Sam wanted to say but he didn't. "After that we didn't really talk at all until…"

"What?"

Sam blew out a long breath. "She ended up holding onto a live grenade after a little girl was kidnapped."

If he thought Sarah's eyes were wide before, they were huge now. And they almost looked teary. "Sam, don't tell me?"

Sam was quick to ease her mind. "No, no. She's okay; well I think she is anyway."

Sarah's face was the picture of confusion until Sam shared the play-by-play from the last day he spoke to Andy. She listened intently without saying a word as Sam told her about the grenade, the bomb he dropped, and how he stuck his foot in it before making his impassioned plea only to find out the next morning that she was gone.

"And she still left?"

"Yeah," Sam confirmed dejectedly.

She placed her hand over his again. "I'm sorry."

"It is what it is," he responded blankly.

"Don't do that."

"Don't do what?"

"Dismiss it, Sam. Don't dismiss it and don't give up."

"She left Sarah. I'm not sure there's anything to give up."

"So, what? You're not going to wait?" She wondered despondently.

"I don't know. It's been three months and right now I can't even imagine but…"

"You have to wait," she insisted.

"Sarah."

"No Sam, you'll hate yourself if you start something up with someone else and she comes back ready to make amends. You and I both know that it couldn't touch what you had with her."

Sam nodded in resignation; he just didn't know how long he could do it without giving up.

Sarah seemed to sense his concern. "Just find something to keep you occupied," she recommended.

A small smile graced Sam's face. "I may already have."

"What do you mean?"

"I'm studying to take the detective's exam," he admitted humbly.

"Sam, that's great."

He shrugged a single shoulder. "Hoping it will make it easier when she comes back too."

"What do you mean?"

Sam cleared his throat. "I may have told her I couldn't be a cop and be with her."

Sarah felt her heart drop. "Why?"

Sam rubbed his hand along the back of his neck and blew out a long, slow breath. "I just… it's not that she did anything wrong…" He flinched at the memory of implying that it was her fault that Jerry died. "It was just hard. I'm supposed to be objective but I can't help thinking about keeping her safe when I'm out there with her."

Sarah didn't get it. "Don't you always say have your partner's back? What's the difference?"

Sam wrinkled his brow as he searched for the right words. "I don't know. It's just that she reacts and jumps in with both feet. And instead of slowing things down and thinking them through, I find myself chasing after her." He took a deep breath. "I can't help but think if I had slowed her down a little, Jerry might still be here."

Sarah was shaking her head almost immediately. "What happened to Jerry was a tragedy? But you can't blame yourself or her for that."

Sam wasn't so sure. "If we had gone like he suggested, we would have been okay; we would have had each other for backup."

"Why did he go alone?" Sarah wondered.

Sam didn't have an answer for that just an overwhelming sadness for the choices they had all made that day.

After a few moments of contemplative silence, Sarah startled Sam by jumping up from their perch. "I almost forgot." She pulled a package out from under the tree. "This came for you."

Sam turned it over in his hand but there were no identifying marks aside from his name preprinted on a tag. "Came? From where?"

Sarah shrugged. "I don't know. There was no return address; it just showed up in the mail the other day. It was addressed to me but when I opened it up, it was a present for you."

Sam inspected the package again. "Shouldn't I wait until tomorrow?"

Sarah smirked. "I don't know; I just found out you had a girlfriend. For all I know it might not be family friendly."

Sam glowered back even as his stomach was starting to flip in anticipation. "Had being the key word remember?"

Sarah just waved him off before pushing at his arm to encourage him along.

Sam ripped the paper from the package to find a plain, brown, cardboard box. He lifted one of the tabs to free it from the others. He reached inside and pulled out three items in succession: a cheap frying pan, a package of garbage bags, and one of those retractable leashes.

Sarah grew more and more disappointed as each item revealed itself. "Well, that was…"

When Sam didn't fill in the blank with his trademark sarcasm, she turned from the presents and looked up at his face. He appeared to be completely lost in thought but there was a hint of a smile starting to form on his lips. "Sam?"

His eyes came back into focus. "Hmmm?"

He seemed quite content with the mishmash that came out of the parcel but she just didn't get it. "It's not even a decent frying pan and unless you're trying to tell me you have a dog now too…"

Sam started to laugh. It wasn't the small, courtesy chuckle she was generally privy to, but a heartfelt, almost giddy laugh. It was a sound she didn't hear nearly often enough. "It's the thought that counts," he reasoned.

Sarah's face was still a mask of confusion. "And the thought behind that unholy trinity?"

Sam was nodding to himself. "It means everything just got a little easier."

"What are you talking about?" She asked, doing nothing to hide the exasperation in her voice.

"It means," Sam looked her in the eye and grinned, "That next year you'll be setting another plate."

She assumed the gift must be from his girl, but Sarah still had no idea how that wild assortment could have given him so much hope. But there was no doubt that it had; the smile would not leave his face. She shook her head in disbelief before matching him dimple for dimple. "That's optimistic."

"Nah, that's experience."