For all my Sam and Lexy readers. Happy New Year!

The Promise

A sea of candles illuminated the small lounge, their flickering flames casting a warm glow. Floral and citrus scents mingled with the aroma of spiced cider simmering on the kitchen stove. The tapping of a cane echoed across the wooden floor as DS Murray let herself in and gazed at the scene before her.

She was tired from climbing the one flight of stairs, disappointed that her stamina had still not returned. It had now been three months since she was released from hospital but she had yet to recover enough mobility to be returned to active duty. Instead, she spent endless days at her desk, analyzing reports and data whilst her colleagues pursued the open cases. Such mind-numbing activities led to bouts of depression and boredom. Fortunately, she had been seeing a psychiatrist for weekly sessions soon after coming home. Lexy had recommended a therapist in private practice and had even gone with Sam on several occasions. Slowly, the ghosts of the past were put to rest and the anxiety attacks alleviated. Sam found new ways to manage her pain and stress. Through it all, Lexy remained by her side. It was Lexy who believed in her, held her during her lowest moments, challenged her, and celebrated her small victories on the way to recovery.

The doctor had officially moved into Sam's flat a couple weeks before Christmas. Their first holiday together was a very private and personal affair. Lexy insisted in hauling a small evergreen tree home and the scent of pine still lingered, adding to the other calming scents provided by the candles and mulled cider. Lexy also strung tiny colored Christmas lights atop the bookcases and cabinets in addition to the tree. Sam took great pleasure in sitting on the sofa watching her lover transform the flat into a seasonal tableau. She was not yet able to move freely enough to stretch and help with the decorations but she could appreciate the sight of Lexy balancing on tiptoes as she reached to put the gilded angel atop their tree. She had not had the chance to celebrate a Christmas with Cat so this shared time with Lexy was even more special. The gifts were thoughtful and modest. They seemed to fit each partner's personality - a brown leather jacket, red scarf and earrings for Lexy; a new waistcoat, silk shirt, and wristwatch for Sam. Sam was just graduating from her crutches to the cane but insisted on standing at the stove and helping Lexy cook a traditional Scottish dinner of leek soup and turkey with bacon rashers. Each recipe had been supplemented with Scottish whiskey. It was a very merry Christmas indeed.

And, now, they would be celebrating their first New Year's Eve. Lexy had to work early shift but had come home before Sam and had provided the candlelight and simmering cider. Christmas music was playing softly in the background. Tonight, they were keeping it simple - Chinese take-away already delivered. Their busy schedules and Lexy's odd shifts made their time together even more valuable. And, because of Sam's injured leg, spending evenings on the sofa was a favorite pastime. The visits to the psychiatrist had helped them to deal with the adjustments to their love life whilst Sam slowly recovered from her initial numbness and paralysis. Each week her leg grew stronger and she was confident that she would be walking without the cane in a matter of days. And, then, she could trust continued physical therapy to aid her in passing qualifications for active duty in the new year.

Sam stood quietly, taking in the ambience. Lexy had not only moved into her heart but she had moved into this space they shared and was already leaving her own loving signature. The flat no longer felt sterile and empty. It was becoming a home.

"Hey, you're back earlier than expected." The leather skirt and red sweater captured all the delicious curves of Lexy's body. Her hair was drawn back into a twist, allowing Sam to admire the trendy earrings she had bought her for Christmas. Her shapely black-clad legs were shoeless as they were not going out to celebrate. When she glided across the room and kissed Sam, the tired detective was able to catch a whiff of Lexy's unique scent, her favorite perfume. It was still discernible amongst all the other rich aromas floating about. Sam inhaled deeply, intoxicated by this woman. After Cat's bitter betrayal, she had sworn to herself that she would never again fall so hard for anyone. Somehow, Lexy had gotten past her many defenses and stolen her heart. She had shown her true colors through all the difficult days of Sam's trauma in hospital, never once giving up on the cop's ability to fight the injury and come back on top. Her love was steadfast; her faith in Sam, unshakeable. But it was Lexy's belief in them as a couple that brought the healing Sam so desperately needed. Her love made Sam want to live again.

After a long, lingering kiss, Sam lightly pulled the dangling earring. "You smell incredible."

Bright eyes shone back at her. "Nah, it's the mulled cider. L'Eau de Apple Juice."

Sam stepped back and searched in her trench coat, pulling out a small bottle of rum. "Finishing touch?"

"Yes, I was hoping you would remember." Lexy gave her a quick peck on the cheek and went over to the stove to add the final ingredient. By the time she had stirred and poured the warm liquid into mugs, Sam had taken off her coat and waistcoat, and sat back on the sofa. Lexy set the drinks and cinnamon sticks onto the coffee table and ran her fingers lightly down Sam's silk shirt.

Now it was her turn to admire a Christmas present.

"Impeccable taste. Don't you think, officer? I believe you may be the most posh detective at the station right now."

The teasing fingers stroking her new shirt were warming Sam up faster than the anticipated mugs of cider waiting on the table.

"Er, yes, my mate has a good eye for fashion. Of course, she will reap the benefits if I am so easy on the eyes and irresistible, it seems." A sly wink followed.

Lexy smiled as she loosened a few more buttons on Sam's shirt. "You may want to work on that whole humility thing, Murray."

Sam had entered the flat, cold and chilled from the Glaswegian sleet and wind, but now she was immersed in a warm winter wonderland. Glittering lights, Christmas carols, the smell of pine, spice, perfume, and … everything nice. Lexy by her side.

"You are such a tease. Do you know that?" Sam grabbed Lexy's hand and held it against her heart. Her other hand pulled her partner towards her for a deep kiss. Their lips met, the taste of cinnamon on Lexy's tongue. "You've already started on the cider and candy, you twit!"

Lexy laughed, reached for a cinnamon stick, and poked it into Sam's mouth. "Now we're even!" She then handed the mug of rum and cider to her lover as she playfully rubbed Sam's stomach.

Sam groaned. Her senses were on overload. "Do you think it's possible for us to enjoy the drink and food before dessert?"

"Of course, my good detective. Doctors have to maintain strict discipline and clinical control at all times. I am quite capable of postponing your physical exam until later. Besides, I do have a special request tonight."

Sam's eyebrows rose.

"Oh no, you'll have to wait 'til after dinner." Now Lexy winked and then returned to the kitchen to arrange the Chinese take-away on platters. She brought their New Year's Eve feast to the coffee table and they took turns feeding each other with chopsticks whilst bantering about everyday things.

Surprisingly, their daily routine had turned quite comfortable quite quickly. Sam loved coming into the flat to find Lexy there. Depending on their schedules, either partner was open to preparing a meal, housekeeping, and all the mundane things that living together entailed. However, Sam would often have to remind Lexy to replace the liners in the storage bins once she had recycled and to wipe up the counters as she cooked. The organized cop still did not subscribe to her carefree partner's theory of creative chaos and letting "the kitchen gods" do all the work. As Sam's health returned, she was able to contribute more to the upkeep of the place, but standing for a long time still caused discomfort and an occasional spasm in her damaged leg. So Lexy had been handling most of the cooking chores for the moment. Tonight, she chose an easy take-away because she wanted to engage more fully in another activity … a pleasure she had long sought and they both had long been denied.

The cider had been drunk, the dishes had been cleared, and now the two lovers relaxed on the sofa, sipping an excellent French pinot noir which had been a holiday gift from Ryder. The wine was adding to the magic as both women grew silent. Thoughts of all the past year had brought, the good and the bad, lingered in their minds even without their knowing what the other was thinking. Nevertheless, they often seemed to read each other's mind.

Sam was the first to break the silence. "It's been quite a year, hasn't it?"

Lexy turned to Sam and sighed. "I wish you had never been hurt. But I think almost losing you actually brought us closer together."

Sam took their wine glasses and placed them on the table. She folded Lexy under her arm and stroked her gently. "I really never knew what love was … until you came into my life and refused to give up on me. All those dark days and you, you just would not let me scare you away. And, when I was half crazy in hospital with the pain and fear, I could always look into your face and see beyond your own concerns. I'd look into your eyes and feel that you loved me, for better or worse. You have been my rock."

Lexy caressed Sam's face. "Now, about my request. Tonight is the beginning of a new year. And I want to begin the year in your arms."

Lexy got up from the sofa and walked to the stereo. She knelt and looked at the large selection of CDs, finding just what she wanted. Sam could not see what her lover was doing as she was behind the Christmas tree. It wasn't until the mellow strains of a "Sunday Kind of Love" and Etta James' sultry voice resonating through the room that she realized Lexy's request.

As Lexy walked back to her, Sam rose slowly and a bit awkwardly but she refused to reach for her cane. This she would do standing on her own two feet. Lexy had remembered the promise. Through all the dark and crazy days, Lexy remembered what she had told her at that jazz club so long ago.

Sam took the woman she loved into her arms.

And they danced.