Note: This story is set during Season 5's "Simon Says"—right after the contemptibly overrated "couples therapist" Dr. Simon Finch-Royce drives poor Diane to desperate tears and Sam to bitter near-indifference.
I suppose this tale is partly my attempt to "redeem" this episode in my eyes. Specifically, I really felt the need to explore how Sam and Diane were able to overcome the stress and angst that seems to drive a temporary wedge between them, here. Of course, being Sam & Diane, they had to overcome in the most romantic way possible.
(Also—ever wondered what Diane's "one thing you haven't considered" was? Or exactly why she grins at Sam and says "See…?" in the end?)
This tale also makes reference to my "Of Cake And Coffee". Enjoy!
As Sam Malone and Diane Chambers began to drive back to the library…all was silent. They had said nothing to one another since Dr. Simon Finch-Royce had closed the door on them.
Come to think of it, Sam had thought the man looked pretty ridiculous in that robe and…whatever-it-was he had on his head. Well, Sam Malone was all for hair care—he understood it all too well—but that was ridiculous! Just as stupid as that crap the guy was spewing—after all the research Diane had just dragged Sam into—
Diane. Sam looked at her, sitting silently in the passenger seat of his car. She had a fist clenched and held to her mouth, as if deep in thought…even more so than normal. But it wasn't just that. She was so tense—but something about that tension made Sam all too aware of Diane's fragility…as if she was struggling not to break—or to break down, in tears. She'd come so close to it, when Dr. Finch (Yeah, let's just call him that, Sam smirked internally, Dr. Finch—I'll bet he eats like one, too…) had said that nothing the two of them had done could prove to him they would work as a couple. And something had snapped in Diane, then—and she'd just cried out her response: "Look, I don't know—what we're supposed to DO, or what we're supposed to say, but we're HERE—fighting for our lives together!—now doesn't that count for SOMETHING?!"
The man had said, "No"—simply, matter-of-factly, and as far at that pompous snoot was concerned, that was that. And then he had the nerve to bring him, Sam, into it to "prove" his point. And Sam was tired—he was drained—he would have been hungry if Diane hadn't let him go grab something while she researched…and looking back, he probably should've been a bit more supportive of her.
To be honest, Sam didn't really give a darn what the guy thought, now…especially after seeing Diane throw herself so much into proving him wrong. Sam had to admit—the stuff she'd found in those books they were now returning were…pretty convincing. What he could understand, anyway. Words like "introvert" and "extrovert" were pretty far over his head. And without even hearing Diane out—Dr. Finch had just acted like none of it mattered. To heck with him, anyway.
But apparently, Diane didn't feel that way…or maybe she was just that hurt by what the guy had said.
Sam frowned. "You okay, hon?"
Diane swallowed, lowering her hand. But she said nothing.
"Hey…" Sam gently kept at it, "Sweetheart—are you—"
"Sam, please," she said in a near whisper. "I—I can't…" her voice trailed off, and she just shook her head, looking out into the park—the Public Garden—as they started to pass it. Sometimes, when he was on this road, passing by the park, Sam liked to see if he could make out Cheers on the other side. The "garden" was too big for that…but can't blame a guy for trying.
Oh, stop it. Diane's hurting—keep on her, okay? Stop distracting yourself.
Sam shook his head. "Look…honey, I—I'm sorry about what happened. I should've—"
"Don't," she said, still in a near whisper.
Sam sighed. "Okay, whatever. But for what it's worth, the guy's a jerk. I don't know what kind of couples he's supposed to 'counsel', but I'm starting to feel sorry for them, you know?"
Diane turned to him, her eyes still showing a lot of hurt…and vulnerability to more.
Sam shook his head. "Look, sweetheart—what does he know? Huh?—what does he really know? I mean, you said it—he's full of it! I don't know what—"
Diane glanced ahead—and interrupted, "Sam, could we turn right, here?"
Sam frowned. They'd just reached the intersection with Arlington. "Why? Sweetheart, the library's—"
"Please, Sam, just turn."
Sam shrugged. "Okay…whatever." After the turn, he continued, "Anyway, what I'm saying, is—"
"Sam," Diane tensed again, "You don't understand. That man…is famous for healing marriages others have thought impossible. And yet, it's as though he, for some unfathomable reason, won't even bother to try with us—help us sort out whatever we need to have sorted out, and—"
"Well, honey, I'm really starting to think that reputation's a lot of bull."
Diane's lip tightened for a moment—and she sighed. "I…I wish I could agree with that, Sam…but—I can't."
"Hey…" Sam smiled, as he gave her a light pat on the shoulder. "Look—if what happened was my fault, I'm sorry, okay? I should've been more on your side—"
"It isn't your fault," Diane said—then looked out to the park, where they could now see the statue of George Washington stood. "Sam—could we stop here?"
Sam shrugged. "Fine, okay…." They pulled into a spot, and parked.
Diane unbuckled her seat belt, and gave him a small smile. "Walk with me?"
Sam chuckled. "Why not?"
Anything to help you out, sweetheart…anything to help you forget about him, and his stupid non-counseling.
Diane held the hand of the man she loved as they walked, past the fountain off to the side, and around the statue of Washington. In all honesty, there was something deeply therapeutic, here…the relaxing, cool moisture in the air, from the lake in the center of the park, surrounded by trees and greenery, amid lampposts and walking upon a smooth and firm man-made path—such contrasts, such opposites of the natural and the artificial, things made by God and things made by man…all flowing together for perfect harmony, and all under the stars.
Opposites, Doctor! These certainly "attract"—but would you ever acknowledge it? No—of course you wouldn't. You'd just…you'd just—
Diane blinked back her tears, and looked at Sam, forcing another smile—and finding it easier to keep as she looked at him.
"Sam?" she asked.
He turned to her. "What's up?"
Diane looked off for a moment, and sighed. When she looked back to him, she went on, "You…don't need to apologize. I—in fact, I suppose I'm the one who should apologize. I suppose I panicked—for a moment, I believed him when he said that that was his proof."
"Aw, come on—so we have a disagreement. That sure never happens!"
Diane chuckled with him…but only wished she could feel it on the inside.
"You know something?"
Diane's smile returned. "I suppose that depends. What is it?"
"I'll bet he's only known for being 'good' because—"
"Sam," Diane felt her smile vanish, "Can't we simply…talk about something other than…what just transpired?"
"Well, that depends—what do you want to talk about?"
Diane swallowed, as she stared ahead. A short distance away was the bridge over the lake.
She braced herself, and said, "Us."
"Oh—oh, come on, sweetheart, what's there to talk about? We're together, and we're gonna get married, no matter what that old stuff-shirt says, right?"
"Oh, Sam, if it had been anything else, I'd have accepted that. But…Sam, what if he's right?"
Sam's head snapped to her. "Excuse me? Earlier, you got all worked up with me for asking that."
"I know, but…Sam, he's—an expert! He of all people—"
"Oh, and whoever wrote all those books aren't experts? Or is he supposed to know more than all of them?"
"I—I don't know. But—as I said, he has a reputation for—"
"Sweetheart…one: we're not married yet—so if he's a marriage counselor, whatever the heck he says doesn't really mean a thing to us."
"Sam, that's splitting hairs…."
"Well, two: you really think he's serious? With that kind of reputation, he's saying we're impossible? You think for a moment we're the biggest problem of all time—like he hasn't solved worse? Look, honey, we've been able to get over a heck of a lot—didn't he hear you say all that stuff about us?"
Diane paused, thinking about the doctor's reply, when she'd finished with her account of her life, and of her relationship with Sam. Something regarding his wife and Diane's dress…?
"It's possible he wasn't listening," she sighed.
"Well in that case, I get it."
"Never mind—okay…. Now, you really think, with all we've been through, there's anything we can't get over?"
"I don't know!" Diane felt her eyes well up again.
Sam stiffened. "What do you mean, you don't—"
"I don't—I just…" Diane paused, to gather herself, and she said, "I…have to know, Sam—that he isn't right."
"Well, fine—we got that proof, already! Come on, honey—those books, and whatever you found in them—"
"Sam, it's not enough!" Diane stopped, turning to him. "I…I thought it would be, but—when he dismissed it all, before he even heard it—"
"Diane…what does it matter what he thinks, huh? I mean—I still haven't figured it out—if you figured he's so full of it, why did we go back there, just now?" Sam stared at her, and asked, "What are you trying to prove to him?"
"Sam…" Diane pleaded.
"Hey, if he's wrong—well, stinks to be him! Why not just leave him alone, and let him stuff it? It's not like you'll get him to admit anything; he's stubborn as—hey, I've seen mules more open-minded that that snob!"
Diane blinked—and chuckled, despite herself. "You're—probably right, Sam. I…suppose I allowed it to—consume me."
Sam, nodded, and they resumed their stroll. "There you go. Hey, I'm no shrink…"
"Not really," Diane smiled.
"But—hey, don't you think you'd better tell me what all that was all about? I mean—yeah, I'd say it 'consumed' you! 'Fighting for our lives'?—what was that about?"
"Sam, please…don't think I'm beginning to—to doubt us. It's only…" Diane swallowed, and pressed on, as they stepped onto the bridge. "Sam—when we…when we were first together, I was so certain that nothing could ever come between us, and—"
She froze, and looked up at him, wishing desperately that she hadn't said that.
Sam tightened his lip, and his gaze lowered. "Yeah," he whispered, "Me too."
"But…it happened. We simply—imploded. And I suppose, something inside of me—right now—is wondering, what if…what if something…?"
Diane felt the tears arise once again, and she couldn't finish. "I'm sorry," she whispered—and walked a short distance away, to the center of the bridge. She leaned forward against the railing, and stared at the dock where the swan boats rested. Something—anything to keep her mind off of those fears….
She felt him as he caught up, standing beside her. She felt his hand around her waist…and she found herself relaxing in his hold.
"Diane," Sam said, "Believe me, I hate myself every time I think about our first try—and what I shouldn't have done…heck, what I should've done. But…I'd like to think I've sure learned a lot, since then, huh?"
Diane found herself smiling again, as she turned to him. "And I, myself."
"Sure. Anyway, I…I guess one of the things I've learned is…well, not to just—take you for granted. You know?" he added with a nervous smile.
Diane nodded, still smiling. "I believe so, Sam," she quietly said.
"Well…Diane, I'll tell you this: if you were to ask me to narrow everything down to the most important things in my life, I'd say you, and the bar. Call me crazy…but sometimes I'd weed out the bar, too."
Diane blinked back her tears, which, this time, were of happiness…and love. "Oh, Sam…"
She leaned back against the railing, holding it with both hands behind her. One of the things she loved doing, in such wonderfully romantic moments as these, was to return the favor to him by presenting herself to him, as it were…in a way that made herself as desirable as possible. And leaning back like this, with a warm and inviting smile…she knew it would work.
Sam smiled back at her. And he took her in his arms, holding her slender waist…and brought her to him for a kiss. And with that, nothing else mattered…just the two of them, alone in the park—the combination of natural and artificial, the monument to opposites that defied everything on which that no-nothing "counselor" dared to lecture the two of them.
I'll never let you go, Samuel Malone. No matter what happens in the future—what time, what distance, what other forces external or internal…I swear, nothing that ever threatens to come between us will remain thus. I know it, Sam—in my heart, and my mind, and my soul. I'll never let you go…never.
Sam looked at the woman in his arms, smiling at him. He wasn't sure if the glow on her face was all from her, or from the lampposts of the bridge. Either way, taking in the sight of her, with all her beauty…it cleared away any doubt from his mind, or his gut—she was the woman he loved more than anyone else…the only woman he'd ever love, or give his heart to—or anything like that.
Funny…looking at her, right now, he couldn't help but remember something she'd said, once—at Melville's, over coffee and cheesecake…how he'd saved her from—well, she'd actually said he'd saved her life, in a way—when Sumner Sloan had proved himself to be a total airhead by dumping her, leaving her at the bar, alone. Diane compared Sam's "rescue" of her, with the job at the bar—and their whole relationship, after that—as something like a story of a "rogue knight" and a "princess". You know, the basic "outlaw finding redemption by saving the beautiful princess" kind of deal….
Guess I'm some kind of outlaw, anyway. And…oh, yeah—looking at her, right now—Diane, you're sure a "princess", all right. "Princess Diane"—funny how that works out.
Yeah…classic fairy tale, huh? "Enchanting", like you'd say…like you wanted my proposal to be—
And with that, in the spirit of things, an idea came to him. He grinned.
Diane tilted her head. "Sam…?"
Sam let her go, and as she straightened out, he said, "You know, sweetheart, call me crazy, but I was thinking…you mind handing me that ring for a bit?"
Diane blinked, and smiled carefully, "All right. You are 'crazy'."
Sam chuckled, "No, come on—really. Just for a minute, huh?"
Diane frowned, unconsciously holding the ring on her finger with her other hand. "Sam…I said I'd never—"
Sam kept his smile, as he held her gaze. "Just trust me, sweetheart."
Diane stared longingly at the beautiful diamond on her finger. Actually, the ring itself was a replica of the 'real thing'—well, technically, everything was for "real", the golden band and the jewels, but…the "real-real one", after they'd fished it out of the gutter, was in Sam's personal safe in his office…way in the back, where no one else would ever know about it. Both, they both knew, were symbols of everything he'd do for her.
Finally, Diane gave a shrug, and slid her ring off her delicate finger, handing it to Sam.
He smiled, as he turned it around in his hand. "Now…call me crazy again—actually, don't," he added, as Diane opened her mouth to respond.
Diane shrugged, waiting with an innocent look.
Sam went on, "…but I wouldn't call a courtroom an 'enchanting' spot, would I?" he looked at her, "And I really doubt you would, either."
Diane's smile faded, as looked at him, eyes wide.
"So—what do you say? When we have kids, we tell 'em about this one instead, huh?"
Diane swallowed, tense in astonishment, "Sam—I…"
Sam grinned, and got down on his knee, taking her hand. "Diane…will you marry me?"
It was the least he could do. After all the pressure she'd put herself through, with that Finch and all—Sam figured giving her the "enchanting" proposal she'd always wanted…it was the least he could do. Here, in the middle of the park, on a bridge at night over the lake…it was a pretty swell piece of scenery, anyway—it fit like a glove.
Diane blinked…but the tears came anyway, as she smiled. "Oh, Sam…" she said in a voice barely above a whisper—and then, she nodded, "Yes—yes, I will marry you!"
Sam slid the ring back on her finger, and chuckled as he got up, brushing himself off. "See? That wasn't so hard…was it? Just one little 'yes'—"
Diane slapped his chest with a scoff. "Sam Malone, you're absolutely incorrigible."
Sam grinned at her. "And proud of it."
And he took her in his arms again, and their lips met.
When the kiss was over, and she leaned back in Sam's arms, Diane chuckled, shaking her head, "Sometimes, Sam Malone, you truly amaze me."
Sam smirked. "Well, I try."
Diane nodded…and sighed. "Yes, you do…mon coer."
"Yeah, what does that mean, anyway?"
"In a literal sense?" Diane beamed at him, "It means…'My heart'."
"Okay…." Sam nodded, chuckling.
Diane leaned to him. "And I'm sure you know this, but…it tells you that I love you, Sam Malone…with all of my heart."
Sam grinned at this. "Ditto."
Diane burst out laughing. "Sam, is that the best you can give me?"
"Oh, my getting all tongue-tied with 'I love you' is better?"
"Well, you said it, just now!"
"Oh, did I?"
"Yes—you did! And you can certainly do it again."
"Okay…fine." Same leaned to her, and said it. "Diane Chambers—I love you."
Diane felt her eyes well up at this.
Sam kissed her gently on the lips, and smirked. "Now, that's probably the one time I'm ever gonna say it without stuttering."
Diane chuckled. "Fair enough."
As Sam released her from his embrace, Diane found herself looking around, once again, at the scenery of the Boston Public Garden. "Sam," she asked, "Have you ever—come here, alone, merely to clear your thoughts—to…refresh yourself, or something akin to that?"
Sam nodded. "All the time. How about you?"
Diane grinned at him. "Why do you think I asked to stop, for this?"
Sam chuckled. "Well…guess we've got something in common, after all."
Diane blinked, as her smile faded, but only a little. "Sam…!"
Sam shrugged. "Well, I mean—other than the fact that we're both nuts about each other…and we're both kinda nuts, period."
Diane swallowed, and her smile warmed. "Sam…you're right! I—I didn't see it before—I can't believe I didn't…well, when Norman asked us, today—"
Sam sighed. "Look, not this again…"
"My word—Sam! All this time, we've never given ourselves the credit we deserve. We've allowed everyone to tell us we're some kind of 'mismatch'—that we're not compatible, that—"
"Diane," Sam raised his finger. "Don't even think about it—"
"Sam, let's go right back to Dr. Finch-Royce, and—"
Diane pouted. "Why not? I only want to explain to him—"
"Oh, sure, that we're not a mismatch? Please—you tried—"
"Sam, it isn't that. Well…not only. It's that—now, after all these years, we've come to a new understanding—a new grasp of one another. No matter our shortcomings, Sam, both of us can—and will—help the other improve! And we've done so before, so often, in so many ways—oh, Sam, don't you see? We'll tell him of all the times—"
"Diane will you just listen to me for once in your life?"
Diane paused, and chuckled. "All right, Sam—what's so important?"
"Sweetheart, you're doing it again. You're trying to prove something to someone who could care less!"
"Whatever. Look, you got me convinced you're right—you got you convinced you're right—do we have to spoil it all like that?"
Diane smiled sweetly at him, "But I won't spoil it, Sam…I'll just make him admit it."
"Oh, come on…heck, you tried using books, he didn't even stop and listen. So what makes you think he's gonna admit it this time?"
Diane paused, thinking hard for a moment. At last, a wicked thought came into her mind, and she grinned. "With any luck…he'll do it the moment he sees us."
And she moved past him, back to the car.
Sam scoffed, shaking his head as he caught up to her. "Oh, now, wait a minute—wait a minute! So you've given up on convincing him, but you're gonna try and go for making him say what you want just to shut you up?"
"You're a loon, you know that? A LOON!"
"Yet another thing we have in common, perhaps?"
"No, I'm pretty sure I already said 'nuts'."
Diane smiled at him. "Well, call it 'competitive', then. He's been trying to break us down, every single time—trying to convince us to give up on something we both hold to be true. I suppose it holds fair we return the favor. Or as you'd say, perhaps: we've now thrown—Sam, how many times have we been there, already?"
"Three. So don't even think about strikes, baby—if that's it, we're already out."
Diane frowned, thinking hard. "Well…well, aren't there four balls for every…?"
"Sure, but are you the pitcher or the batter?"
"I don't know, I—the pitcher!"
"Well, that means if the Finch gets another ball, he runs to first base."
Diane threw her hands up. "All right, then—I'm the batter!"
Sam looked off for a moment, and sighed, nodded. "Yeah…fine. Guess a home run is convincing him, huh?"
Diane shrugged. "Perhaps."
"But that means you always took swings at it before, so…that doesn't work—"
"You know, why don't we just drop the baseball, and forget about the whole thing?"
"Of course, Sam."
"After we visit the good doctor, one more time."
Sam just shook his head, as they got back into the car. And as they turned around and drove right back, Diane knew that, one way or another, they'd win, this time. They'd break that self-righteous know-nothing into a confession—an acknowledgement of their love, even if it were made under duress. And for Diane, and certainly Sam, that alone would be enough.
Ending comments: Call this a "confession" of sorts, but…needless to say, I don't exactly care for the character of Dr. Simon Finch-Royce—though I usually find John Cleese quite a charming and amusing fellow. ("The Finch", lest we forget, also in this episode extorted our beloved Frasier out of $1500—and then he bragged about it over the phone! If saying Sam and Diane "should never see each other again" wasn't a big enough "kick the dog" moment…that certainly was.)
(Side confession: while "Simon Says" is an engaging episode, I confess I don't find it nearly as hilarious as so many others seem to. I almost feel as if the "humor" requires us to have fun at the expense of poor Diane while our girl's driven to tears. Ah, well….)
Well…anyway, that's how I feel. At any rate—love or hate the episode, I certainly hope you've loved my story. Thanks for reading!