Rating: White Cortina
Word Count: 1,260 words.
Notes: Sam/Annie in a manner of speaking.
She sat perched on the edge of the sofa, hands folded neatly in her lap, listening to the sounds of Sam rifling through a cupboard for his ingredients. He spoke to himself as he did so, or perhaps he was speaking to her, but his words were difficult to distinguish. There were candles lit and soft music playing. The glow of the flames cast shadows on the walls which swayed and danced in steady rhythm.
“Do you need a refill?” Sam asked, moving into the room.
“No, I’m fine, thanks,” Annie replied. She smoothed her hands over her knees and adjusted her position slightly.
Sam poured more wine into his own glass and took a sip. He stood watching Annie, prompting her to speak. His gaze was disconcerting. Annie glanced towards the window. She concentrated on the smell emanating from the kitchen, sweet and tangy like a heady summer’s day.
“Been warm,” Sam said. Annie nodded. “I was thinking of getting some shorts.”
Annie smiled despite herself, she turned back to Sam, who was looking at her over the top of his wine glass with a quietly mischievous glint. He placed the glass on the table and leaned back, crossing his arms.
“I’m sure the Guv wants nothing more than a DI who shows his nobby knees everywhere.”
“I don’t really care what the Guv wants.”
“Which is something which gives him constant grief, no doubt,” Annie said with a choked back giggle.
“I’m not here to talk about Gene, Annie,” Sam said, stepping forward and sitting next to her on the sofa. He radiated warmth. He was wearing her favourite shirt. Pale blue with green pinstripes. Open collar. St. Christopher’s Medal glimmering in the candlelight.
She tried not to say anything when Sam took her hands in his and gently stroked her fingers. The breath caught in Annie’s throat as she impulsively moved to face Sam.
When she spoke, Annie’s voice was foreign to her. It was higher, breathy, stilted. “Why are we here?”
“I want to tell you something.” Sam rocked back, still holding Annie’s hands. She was pulled closer into him, their knees touching. “More than that.”
She didn’t want to, but Annie had to stop this. She took a deep breath and moved back again. “Sam.”
“Annie, please, don’t.”
“This isn’t wise, Sam. Look, you and me, we’ve been good friends.”
Sam shook his head frantically. “Annie.”
“Sam, just let me finish.” She was speaking quickly, hardly able to get the words out. “I like you, you know that, but-”
“I’ve found a way to go home, Annie,” Sam said. He bounced up and down a couple of times and pulled Annie even closer.
“What… what are you talking about?”
“I’ve had the power in me all along. Today is my last day. This is it.”
“Sam, you’re speaking gibberish. You can’t go somewhere that doesn’t exist. This is home, right here.”
Annie loosened the grip of one of his hands and stroked his cheek. He was still adamant that none of this was real. Sam shook his head and grinned at her like a four year old looking at a lollipop. He placed his hand gently by the side of her face and stroked circles with his thumb. It was distracting.
“I’m going home,” Sam said once again, this time calm and collected.
“And where will the rest of us go, when you’re home, hey?”
“You’ll stay here, in 1973.”
“Oh, so you’re favouring the time travel theory now, are you?” Annie tried to take the anger out of her tone. She didn’t quite succeed.
Sam nodded, his eyebrows raised and his lips pursed. “I was wrong when I said it was all in my head. I’m sorry. I just… I didn’t know, okay?”
“How come you’re so sure you know now?”
There was a loud popping sound from the kitchen. Sam’s attention was diverted and he moved away from the sofa.
“I better check that out.”
Annie reached for her wine glass, grasping it in two hands to prevent it from shaking. She took a sip, and another. She had thought – well, it didn’t matter what she’d thought. Thoughts weren’t worth much. She had hoped Sam had been over this. He’d been so good lately, so with it. No outbursts or crazy assertions. No complaints about neanderthal tactics.
The worst thing was that part of her was beginning to believe him about this going home business. He was always so earnest about it. He knew things he shouldn’t know. How could a man who seemed so sane and logical in everything else be completely off his head?
When Sam returned to the room, he brought two plates. He motioned for Annie to sit at the table and laid them down with a small flourish. Sat across from her, he was the picture of excited clarity. His enthusiasm bounced off in waves, a rolling seascape of energy.
“So this is it, is it?”
“Linguine alle vogole, yeah.”
“No. I meant - this is your goodbye.”
Sam’s eyes clouded over as the fork hovered in his hand. His head lowered.
“It had to happen one day. I don’t belong here, Annie.”
Her throat was constricted, the stinging like acid behind her eyes an unhappy reminder that she never had the control she wanted. She would not cry.
“You’re just going to go and expect us to pick up the pieces.”
“There won’t be any pieces to pick up. Your lives-” he stopped, closed his eyes and took a deep breath. “You managed without me before, you’ll manage again.”
“You keep telling yourself that, Sam, and maybe you’ll believe it.”
She stood up and started for the door. Sam rose too, grasping her arm and preventing her from moving any further. Their bodies were close enough for Annie to hear Sam’s heartbeat pulsing. The candlelight flickered patterns down the side of his face. The whole moment would be romantic if it wasn’t so full of resentment.
“I don’t want to leave having things like this between us,” Sam said, his voice low. He leaned his forehead against Annie’s. “Just tell me you liked having me around, Annie. Tell me you enjoyed my company. Don’t say you’ll miss me, or you think I’m nuts, or you wish things could have been different.”
She tried really hard to keep her voice from tremoring. “I like having you around, Sam. I enjoy your company.”
When she pulled away she saw that there were tears in his eyes. That felt like as good a prompt as any, so she allowed herself a moment of weakness. They smiled at each other with tear-stained faces before wrapping into a hug, limbs entangled.
“I’ll miss you, Sam.”
“The linguine’s getting cold.”
“I’ll miss your cooking.”
“I’ve got sorbet for dessert.”
“I’ll miss your being a rebel and managing to get handcuffed to your own cot.”
“Do you want more wine?”
“I’ll even miss your crazy future talk.”
“Maybe I should go change the music?”
The room was soft and muted. The reel-to-reel was playing Louis Armstrong. It wasn’t quite what Annie had expected when she’d agreed upon dinner with the two them alone, but it would have to do. Somehow, she couldn’t help but think that Sam was right, this was his last day here, with her. If this was the case, she didn’t want them to part as anything less than friends, even if that meant they wouldn’t part as anything more either.
“Just say you’ll miss me, Sam.”
“I’ll miss you, Annie.”