By Lis Pascual
Changes occur often in life. How you deal with them is the key to how much it affects your life. With saying that we sometimes fool ourselves into thinking that the change wouldn't really affect us, in some sheer of hope that it doesn't. Sometimes we do too well of a job. Until one day it hits you. The change that was cleverly disguised as a positive shift unravels to be one of the biggest turmoil of all time.
"Sam...hey Sam" Chris said waving his hand in front of his best friend to capture her attention. Rita looked up startled as she stared at him blankly. She was so lost in her thoughts that she had no idea what he had been saying. She wondered guiltily how long he had been speaking.
Chris leaned forward and looked at her more closely.
"You okay Sammy?" he asked concerned. She looked exhausted. Rita met her partner's worried gaze and gave him a reassuring smile.
"I'm okay Chris. Really." She answered unconvincingly as she began to rise from her chair.
"Listen I forgot I had an errand to run before going home. I better go." Rita announced distractedly as she kept glancing at her watch. Chris watched her worried. She had been acting strange the past week, placid almost. He was trying to find a way to make her talk without prying. At that point he was still trying.
"Later Chris." Rita grabbed her belongings and bid the Cap a hasty farewell before shuffling out of the precinct. Leaving her partner deep in his thoughts. He wanted to get to the bottom of what was bothering her.
Rita drove towards the beach for the rest of the afternoon to enjoy the last of the rays. She wasn't really big on swimming. She just enjoyed the feel of sand between her toes as she walked barefoot along the beach. She loved the view from the favorite spot she shared with Chris. There was something about the beach that gave her comfort and eased her mind and soul. Whatever it was she was going through was a little easier to bare with in the quiet whispers of the ocean. It was soothing. It was as though someone was speaking to her, assuring her. Soothing her and whatever her troubles. Rita closed her eyes and lay on her back and stared at the clear blue sky. She could see the slight setting of the afternoon sky. She wasn't sure what was wrong with her. It was as though someone had invaded her body with emotions contrary to her own. As though she no longer had any control on what she felt. It was confusing. Not to mention frustrating, she couldn't be herself in front of those who knew her. It seemed as though she had forgotten who 'herself' was. Rita wished she could find the old her, and find out why this part of her had suddenly emerged. The side of her that questioned everything, things she wouldn't normally question, she questioned. She found herself reacting to things in ways she hardly ever reacted to. She knew she was beginning to confuse Chris with the sudden change of her moods. If she could control it, she would. That was the problem, she couldn't. It had been a long time since she had lost that control over her emotions, she didn't like it back then and she resented it even more so now.
Chris had noticed the change on her earlier the week before, when he had cracked a joke and she didn't bite. When she finally did, he almost caught an insulted look from being a butt of his joke, as she often was. But it couldn't be just that. If it was, he knew Rita would never hesitate to tell him exactly what she thought. He wondered if it was because of his move to Boston. At the same time, it was her who had pushed him to go. That convinced him that he owed it to himself to take the risk for his future with Jillian. It could be, but it had to be more than that. It was frustrating to watch her. He was supposedly her best friend and he had no clue what was wrong. It made him feel like a failure to not know. Guilty feelings from months ago have permanently resided in his gut.
"I'm going to do it Cap. I'm going to move up to Boston with Jillian."
Rita stopped dead in her tracks as Harry looked up. The expression on Harry's face told Chris that Rita had just walked in on their conversation.
Immediately he turned to face her. Chris watched Rita's eyes flash with anger to hurt as she heard the words that should have heard from him. Without a word Rita began to back out of the office and head back to her desk. There she sat and began to sort through the files.
"Like you have to ask that question?"Slowly Chris walked back to their desk. His eyes had not left her since she walked out of Harry's office. He waited for her to yell at him, and tell him off but she didn't. Instead she sat there and kept tidying.
Sam." he began not really knowing what to say to her. Rita closed her eyes tightly and took a deep breath. Wanting to be anywhere but where she was. She didn't want him to see how much it had hurt for him to not tell her. Best friends or not, she didn't want him to see that. She knew that it was her who kept pushing him to go, but she expected Chris to tell her. To talk to her before he made any huge final decisions. Didn't he know his decisions affected her too?
"What Chris." She answered evenly. She wanted to show him that she wasn't affected. That she didn't care. But who was she was fooling? She knew she wasn't fooling herself. Or Chris for that matter.
"You want to talk about it?" he asked giving her an option knowing she wasn't ready to talk to him just yet. That her anger ran deep and at that very moment there was nothing he could do. He had to give her time.
Rita shook her head,"No"
That afternoon was the longest afternoon Chris has ever endured since he and Rita we're partnered. From the moment they had met, not a moment of silence had passed between. For the first time there were no teasing remarks exchanged, no affectionate looks or gestures. As they worked side by side, Chris felt the distance between them. Rita left the precinct that night with a cordial goodbye to Chris refusing to meet his eye.
Chris stood outside Rita's door for half an hour. Pacing, trying to find the words. Rita had heard his car from down the street. She could hear his repetitive footsteps on the other side of her door. Rita sat on the foot of her stairs as she waited for him to knock. Just as he was about to Rita opened the door. Chris gave her a small smile. He followed her to her couch and sat beside her. Rita was the one that broke their uncomfortable silence.
"It's okay Chris." She said quietly. Though she was still hurt, there was nothing that could be done. There was nothing that could be done. The decision was made and it was a decision he needed to make alone. Yes, it hurt that he didn't discuss it with her, but she knew that if she were in the same position, she wouldn't know how to tell him either. They were some pair. A little too much alike. If anything their similarities is what made her understand. By knowing him, she knew herself, and vice versa.
"No it's not. I should have been up front with you. I know I hurt you because I didn't tell you. I'll always regret that. I just couldn't find the words." Rita placed a hand over his and gave it a gentle squeeze.
"I know. I realized that I wouldn't have known how to tell you either. I know you didn't intentionally want to hurt me. So don't worry. I'm okay....We're okay." Rita said reassuringly. Trying believe her own words. She had forgiven him, but now the fear of losing him had set in. He was moving to Boston.
The days and weeks that passed after Chris and Rita found themselves growing closer than ever before. Though they had never really hid or kept each other at arms length, it seemed as though the announcement of his departure brought them to another level. It was a level that neither of them could explain but welcomed with open arms. To those around them it seemed as though they were closer than they already were, how that was possible they didn't know. Yet it happened. Their connection seemed stronger than ever before.
As Rita remained laying down on the sand lost on her own world. She had failed to notice the darkening sky. She was no longer staring at the setting of the sun, but at the glistening stars. When she had finally noticed the darkness she pushed her sunglasses on top of her head. She sighed with contentment at the beauty of the stars. Like a child she found herself reciting.
"I wish I may, I wish I might, on the first star I see tonight.."
For a moment everything was forgotten. She was no longer confused. She was just peaceful. She cherished the moment knowing it wasn't to last.
Chris recognized the figure that lay under the stars from where he parked his car. He knew there was only one place she would be at in the mood that she was in.Quietly he walked towards her. Rita felt someone lay next to her. Trusting her senses she knew it was Chris.
"Hey Sam" she greeted him. Chris moved his head closer to hers.
"Hey to you too. Been here long?"
"I guess so.
Chris looked at her."Like you have to ask that question?"
Rita let out a light laugh."You didn't have to look for me Sam. I'm okay. I'm a cop remember. I can take care of myself."
"I know you can. Never doubted that for a moment. Sue me for wanting to spend time with you, however which way I can get it." The pout that spread across his face, made Rita burst into giggles. Chris himself broke into a light-hearted laugh even though their laughter was at his expense. It was worth it to hear her laugh.
"It's nice to hear you laugh Sammy. It feels like ages." Rita looked at him thoughtfully, the seriousness crept back to her face. Before she could hide it Chris took the opportunity.
"You're mad at me!" Rita looked away for a moment.
"You wanna tell me why Sammy? I thought we were doing pretty good" Rita met his gaze as she began to explain herself.
"I'm not mad. Well, not really. The other week when we were hanging at your apartment and we had another one of those talks. You and I bared our heart and soul to each other. More than we ever had before." Chris was nodding, but he still couldn't see the connection.
"After that night you began to pull away." He looked confused for a moment and dropped his gaze.
"Don't even try to deny it Chris. I know you remember. You know as well as I do that you took a huge step backwards the next day. It wasn't as though you started avoiding me or anything. It was the vibes that you were sending out. I can't explain it. There was just something about you." Chris remained silent.
" Tell me I'm wrong." She challenged knowing that he couldn't.
"I don't know what it was Sammy. Well, I do. See after that night I realized just how huge of a step it was to move to Boston with Jillian, but that wasn't what scared me. What scared me is that you're the closest person to me. You know me better than anyone else in the world. You knew all my sides. I also realized that my dreams coincided with you. For the longest time you and I were the ones making plans together. When I look into my future, I want to live out those dreams we made. It dawned on me that those dreams are dreams I should be making with Jillian. Though we have our own dreams, a huge part of mine will always be linked to you.That you will always own a huge part of me. That scared me because after I move, things are bound to change. Big time. That's why I took a step back. At first I didn't even know what it was I was doing. I didn't really realize until today when I was trying to figure out what was going on between us. I don't ever want to lose you Sam."
Rita turned to her side and faced Chris who was now also lying on his side.
"Christopher, you're never going to lose me. Boston's an airplane away."
"Who's trying to convince who here?" Chris teased her in mid sentence.
He was right. A huge part of the uncertainties of her emotions lay in Chris' departure. She was trying to deal with it by refusing to see it for what it really was. Something that absolutely frightened her. She had convinced those around her and herself that she was okay about Chris' leaving. That she was behind him all the way. She did a great job of it too. Till she felt Chris begin to let go. As he did, she felt the hidden fears begin to rise. By that time it was too late for her to control.
"How about we make a promise here and now? I promise you that I will always be your best friend, and that you'll always be mine. That you're never going to lose.." Rita interrupted him by placing her finger against his lips.
"Don't." As Chris looked into her eyes he understood. He reached over and held her close to him. They lay there in each other's arms staring at the skies above. Making silent wishes, silent pleas to the heavens above that they will never lose each other.
"You all packed and ready?" Rita asked as she Chris opened his front door. Chris nodded solemnly. For the last couple of weeks, he and Rita had been busy packing up his apartment. Together they said goodbye to the memories that lived in his apartment. The talks, the movies, through their laughter and tears. It reminded them of what they shared and how special it was. Side by side they looked around the empty apartment, it was empty but the love and memories continued to live on. Rita took Chris' hand in hers and gave it a reassuring squeeze.
"Let's go Sam." Chris was staying at her apartment that weekend, wanting to spend as much time as he could with Rita. Chris pulled her closer and led her out the door. After one last look goodbye they closed the door behind them. Hand in hand they walked to Rita's jeep.
"Gee Sam you're well equipped." Chris praised. Rita wanted to spend their last couple of nights together as they would any other time. What better way to do that than to have a Video night? Chris leafed through Maltese Falcon, Casablanca and Singing in the Rain.
"Well you didn't really think I'd let you leave the state without having a slumber party did you?" She called out from the kitchen. When she entered her living room where Chris had made himself comfortable her arms were full popcorn, sodas and a tub of rocky road ice cream. Chris laughed and got up to help her.
"You certainly thought of everything."=20
Chris shoved Maltese Falcon into the video machine, and flopped down next to Rita. Instinctively he threw an arm around her and pulled her close. Rita moved closer and snuggled close to her partner. After that day everything would be different. The moment he stepped into that plane everything would change. Just as things had changed when he announced his move. They were trying to hold onto what they had for as long as they could. Neither one wanted to make promises. Friendships withstand anything when they're true. The question wasn't if their friendship was true. They had no doubt their friendship would live on. But not being able to be in each other's constant presence was the hardest thing for both of them to accept. The impact of no longer being able to be together was something they weren't looking forward to. Knowing just how much of each other, was invested in the other. They were frightened of the consequences being apart could result to. .
"Remember Sam. I am only a phone call away." Chris whispered profusely into his best friend's ear. Rita had to let out a laugh. Though it wasn't really a time to laugh, it amused her that he was so insistent.
"I know Sam. I know." She replied quietly, unable to breathe. She wasn't quite sure whether it was because he was holding her so tightly or because the idea of their separation left her breathless. As though she needed Chris as much as she need air to breathe. It was so hard. Chris planted a kiss on her forehead.
"You're my best friend. I love you Sammy. Forever and always, I love you."
"Likewise partner. Likewise."
Rita couldn't bring herself to watch Chris' plane take off. As soon as he boarded she walked hastily back to her jeep and headed home. Rita's jeep steered its way to the beach. Rita found herself laying on the sand they had lay in time and time before looking at the skies above, discussing anything and everything that entered their mind. Her best friend was gone, no longer at arms reach. Rita sighed sadly as her heart began to ache with longing for the one person who truly knew and understood her. She felt alone. Though she knew she would never really lose Chris, she couldn't deal with having him so far away. Not having him completely as she had grown accustomed to in the years that had passed. Though it was selfish she wished that she hadn't pushed him to go to Boston, to beg him to stay, but it wouldn't have been fair. Chris deserved to be happy. So did she, but she wasn't sure if she ever could be without Chris. They had become such a huge part of each other's lives. Just how was she to close the door on that and move on? How does one give her heart to someone else when she herself does not have full ownership of it?
"You know that I think you're a great friend right? That it a lot of the most important ways, you're my best one."
"I've never had a better friend in my whole life Rita."
"And you know that I love you right?"
"Yeah I saw it in Soul Search"
"But I'm not in-love with you."
"Yeah, I saw that too. Maybe, one day when we look into the right one's eyes."
Rita wiped the tears that began to creep their way down to her cheeks as she recalled the memory. She knew that she saw so much more in their Soul Search than she had ever cared to admit. It frightened her so much that she denied it with passion. Scared to ever find out what Chris would think. For a moment she was convinced that there was a possibility that she may be in-love with her best friend. But the thought passed as quickly as it surfaced. She and Chris were just the best of friends. Their closeness made them wonder at times, but it was only natural. It didn't mean they were.
"It's because he never had a partner like you. He never had someone to hold on to when things were tough."
"Well thank you for the sentiment partner."
"You're welcome for the sentiment"
"But Brent was nothing like you Chris. You have lines and principles you'll never cross. You're a decent and honest person. And no partner can give that to you, partner."
"No matter where you are. No matter how you're doing or where you're doing it. I will always be here for you."
"I think if we hold on to each other tightly enough, we won't drift too far."
Chris shut his eyes tightly. He couldn't believe how much it hurt to leave Rita. He always knew it would be hard, but the moment he kissed her forehead goodbye, one last time,he felt his heart tear into pieces. How he longed to be with her. He had never had a better friend in his whole life. She was his family, as he was to her. They had depended on each other unconditionally in the years that have passed. Now, it seemed as though he had abandoned her. But she was right, as much as he hated leaving her he owed it to Jillian and himself to make their relationship work. To try and make it work.
Rita's thoughts were interrupted by the ringing of her cell-phone it was rude awakening to the comfort of her thoughts, her cherished memories.
"Sargent Lance" she answered coming out of the trance she had been in for hours. As she glanced around her, she noticed that it had grown dark.
"Hey beautiful" Rita's face lit up as she heard his voice. He had only been gone for hours but what an eternity it seemed, for both of them.
"I should have known it was you. Where are you?"
"I just got here at Jillian's apartment." Rita noted the 'Jillian's place'.
"Hey Sam, isn't that your home now too?" Rita pointed out quietly. Chris sighed. As he looked around the unfamiliar surroundings he wanted nothing more than to be at his own apartment, or Rita's. The cold, lofty apartment would never be home to him. He vowed it to himself.
"I'm trying Sam. It's hard." Chris sounded miserable to Rita. Like a child that had been sent to summer camp for the first time. Like children who are sent to camp, Rita knew in the end Chris would enjoy himself and slowly accept the fact that he had to move on.
Hey, I know it's hard, but you gotta try Sam. You've come this far." Chris knew as he listened to her that she was right.
"Why are you on the phone to me? Where's Jillian?" Rita asked trying to change the subject.
"Not that I don't want to talk to you." she added quickly, hoping that she hadn't offended him. Chris let out a light laugh understanding what she meant.
"It's okay Sammy. I know what you mean. Jillian was called into an emergency."
"I'm sorry Sam." Rita apologized hearing the disappointment in his voice.
"I miss you Sammy. I wish you were here too."
"Yeah right Sam. That would have been something. You moving to Boston to give it your best shot with Jillian and you bring me with you. I'm sure she'd be thrilled. Somehow, I don't think so. Besides.it won't be this bad forever. Just give it your best shot. I know you. You'll be okay." Her voice was so soothing that Chris couldn't help but miss her even more.
"That's just it Sammy. No one knows me like you do." As much as it hurt Rita to say the words she needed to say it.
"Then let them Chris. Let Jillian in the way you have let me in. I will always be here for you but I want you to know that you can let her or anyone else you want to, in. You won't be betraying me if she or anyone else becomes your best friend. What we have is special Chris. It doesn't need to be dignified in anyway or held up on a pedestal. It's not made of glass. We're not going to break. What we have will survive. We're stronger than you think. I cannot be replaced in your heart or mind, nor will you ever be replaced in mine. Just give it your all, and if it still doesn't work out, you know you can always come back to Palm Beach."
"But we won't be partners anymore." Rita sighed and closed her eyes. She knew that Chris had heard what she said but he was so intent on making himself miserable that he refused to acknowledge it.
"No, we won't be anymore. But that doesn't mean we won't be the best of friends either. Just as you being in Boston, moving on with your life doesn't stop our friendship from growing. It'll only stop if you stop believing. Aside from that, it'll continue to blossom. Just take everything into stride Sam. Trust in God and Fate. It's all part of the perfect plan. Trust in us. In what we have."
Chris wiped the tears that began to slide down from his cheeks. The silence that fell before them was a sign to the other that they were both crying. Rita rolled over to her stomach and rested her head against her arms. The wind in the background captured Chris's attention.
"You're at the beach." He stated simply. How he wished he were next to her.
"Yeah Sam I am."
"Is the moon out?" he asked imagining the darkness of the sky, lit up by the moon.
"Yeah Sam, it's beautiful."
"I wish I were there with you." Rita could feel herself begin to crumble. She could only be strong for so long. She rolled unto her back once more and stared at the stars.
"Me too Sam. Sam, look out the window." Doing as he was told Chris sat on the ledge of Jillian windowsill and looked out. Not really sure what she wanted to do.
"Now look up at the stars." Chris looked up at the glistening stars mesmerized at its beauty.
"Can you see the brightest star?" she asked.
"Yeah, I see it."
"That's our star Sam. If ever you need me, that's me. Smiling at you. Encouraging you every step of the way. And whenever I get lonely I'll look up and know that's you smiling and encouraging me, every step of the way. But we don't really need the stars Sam. All we have to do is look into our hearts, and we're there."
"Thanks Sam. That's so poetic." Chris teased. Appreciating everything she had said.She had made him feel so much better.
"Every time you feel the wind brush against your cheek that's a hug and a kiss from me."
"No, thank you Sammy."
"You better go." Rita suggested, Chris could hear her voice begin to crack. Uncontrollable tears were on its way.
"Yeah. Go straight home Sammy. I don't want you hanging out at the beach alone." Rita chuckled at his fatherly instincts.
"I will. You take care."
"You too. I." Chris stopped and sighed.
"I miss you Sammy. I love you."
"I love you too. Good night."
The following day was one of the hardest for both Rita and Chris. Chris's absence hit her most as she walked into the precinct, the emptiness of the desk in front of her. As she watched the clock it was as though she was waiting for Chris to come waltzing in late as usual. But this time he didn't come through the doors. Though she knew that he wouldn't, it still hurt to realize. Harry watched Rita from his office. She was burying herself in the paperwork. Every now and then a look would cross her face. A look of loneliness and hurt but it soon passed, as she tried to hide her emotions even deeper.
Chris sat in his new desk. He wasn't partnered with anyone at that point and Chris was more than happy. He wasn't ready for a new partner. He wasn't ready to put the old one behind him. Even though he had promised Rita that he would try, he couldn't bring himself to it. He and Jillian fought just that morning. It seemed so much harder. He found himself wondering if it was all worth it. Chris let out a deep breath and picked up the phone.
"Lance" answered a distracted almost annoyed for the disturbance, voice.
"Now that's not very friendly is it Sargent?" In spite of herself Rita broke into laughter.
"Well, some of us have work to do?" Rita teased.
"Are you implying that I'm twiddling my thumbs Sargent Lance?" he scoffed.
"Ouch Sammy, that hurt." Rita could hear that he was having a good laugh her on.
"How's your new desk?" she asked.
"Lonely. I don't have a stubborn, at times pig headed lady sitting before me."
"Is that right Christopher?"
"Oooh.the full name. I'm in trouble now aren't I?"
Chris and Rita talked for a little while longer before getting back to their work. After a few minutes from putting the phone down Harry called Rita into his office. How her mood changed after speaking to her partner, ex-partner. For a moment is seemed as though every thing was right with the world again. Rita looked up at Harry and nodded in acknowledgement, making her way to his office.
"What's up Cap?" she asked concerned. She wasn't the only one who lost Chris. She knew how important Chris had become to the Captain and his wife. They had often mentioned that she and Chris were the children they were never fortunate enough to have.
"Nothing. I just wanted to make sure you were okay." Rita smiled at her Captain. In the exterior he was like a volcano waiting to erupt, Harry Lipshitz was known for his mouth and opinions. There were few people who could see beyond that, his wife, Chris and Rita.
"Yeah Cap. I'm okay. Chris said to extend his love. That he'll call you and Frannie tonight so Frannie wouldn't be mad that you got to talk to him first." Harry had to laugh along with his detective. They knew his wife too well.
"Rita, I wanted to ask you, and feel free to jump and say no. I'll understand. The head has sent over a detective, he's supposed to be your new partner. But if you're not ready Rita I can partner him with Rawlin's temporarily. I don't want to pressure you into this." Rita sat still for a moment letting it all sink in. She knew it was only a matter of time that they send a new detective to take Chris's place. She just didn't think it would be so soon. She debated inwardly, whether or not she was ready. In the end she sighed deeply and looked up at Harry.
"No, it's okay Cap. I might as well get used to it. Who is he?"Harry stared at her for a moment, trying to make sure that she was really okay with it.
"His name is Michael O'Fallon, he's a transfer from Florida P.D. He's young, talented, actually he reminds me a lot of Lorenzo." Harry admitted wistfully.
"He'll be here this afternoon." Rita's mind was buzzing, she wanted to take her words back. To say that she wasn't ready, but she knew she had forward. Harry dismissed Rita and watched her leave his office in an almost catatonic state. Chris's move was hard on all of them but for Rita especially. He knew he should have waited but a bigger part of him wanted her to adapt to the changes quickly and not prolong the issue.
Rita took her lunch to the beach and found herself, having a silent conversation with Chris. She wanted to tell him about her new partner. The anticipation she felt, but the moment he hears new partner she knew that she would hurt his feelings. Even though he would deny it, she knew him better than that. In the back of his mind, he fears he will be replaced. Rita picked up her cell phone and dialed his number.
"Hi, is this where I can find Rocky?" she teased reminding him of his nickname when he had gone undercover the year before as a stripper. Chris couldn't help but grin. He could never tire hearing her voice.
"Oh it depends. Is this Leslie?" he threw back. Rita laughed out loud recognizing a name from their undercover days.
"It must be your lucky day because it is."
"Twice in one day. Something must be up. What's on your mind Sammy?" He asked, the teasing tone left his voice. Chris could feel that there was something on Rita's mind. Rita didn't want to tell him, but she didn't want him finding out from the Captain.
"Promise me you won't make a big deal out of it?" her voice pleaded with him.
"Come on Sam, since when did I make a big deal out of anything?"
"Okay, how about that time.." She began but Chris cut her off with a warning groan,
"Um, Cap called me into his office after you called."
"And." he prodded, anticipating the worst.
"He mentioned that the head has sent a new detective."
"A new detective." she corrected him.
"Say it however you want to Sammy, it's a replacement." The jealousy was strong and evident on his voice. Rita sighed not knowing how else she could have word it.
"Don't what?" he answered stubbornly frustrating Rita.
"Listen Rita, I have to go. I'll talk to you later." After hanging up Rita found herself staring at the phone in her hands. Though she could sympathize with Chris, he had to understand it wasn't easy for anyone. She wasn't looking forward to it any more than he was. After all, it's not as if she asked for a new partner. He was the one that left her. As her anger reached its peak, she simmered knowing that they were all being driven by the raw emotions. She looked up at the sky and felt a soft gush of wind against her skin. She shook her head. It was just like Chris to know when to push her buttons and which buttons to push to get back into the right book.
"Lance, O'Fallon." Rita greeted the detective with a welcoming smile. Michael smiled back uneasily. He had heard about Lance and Lorenzo. They were legends amongst the departments, the chemistry, the talent. Michael was apprehensive about working with Rita fearing that he would not be able to live up to the expectations. Rita could see the apprehension in Michael as he stood back uncomfortably, returning her smile with a small one of his own. After Captain Lipshitz had left them alone Rita broke their silence.
"Hey, loosen up. I won't bite. I only bit Chris when he was being stubborn. As long as you know I'm always right, then we won't have a problem." Michael looked up and saw her eyes were teasing him. His posture began to loosen,
"Is that right?" The ice had broken. Rita found herself getting along with Michael quite well. He wasn't Chris. There was only one Chris. But she knew in their first hour that she and Michael would blend well as partners.
Chris felt bad for taking out his frustration on Rita. It wasn't her fault that the department wanted to replace him. It wasn't even the department's fault. Chris knew detectives were needed. Yet it still hurt. Before going home Chris dialed Rita's number. Without even looking at her caller ID Rita knew it would be Chris. She hesitated for a moment, not sure if she wanted to answer it, knowing she was still a little mad, and hurt about that afternoon.
"Hello Christopher." She answered. Chris heard the reluctance in her voice. She was keeping him at arms length.
"I'm sorry Sam. I didn't mean to take it out on you."
"Forget it Chris." She answered not meaning it.
"No, and neither will you. I was just hurt and jealous that someone else would be your partner. That someone else will cover your back. That was always my job."
"I'm a grown woman Christopher, I can take care of myself. Besides, this isn't easy for me either you know. Remember you're the one." Rita stopped herself, but not before Chris figured out what the remaining sentence was. They were silent for a moment,
"I was the one who left you. Say it Sam." He whispered. Rita shook her head. When she didn't respond Chris sighed.
"I'm sorry Sam. I really am, for being a jerk, for today. For leaving." Rita felt bad that she had made him feel guilty, that wasn't was she wanted but he frustrated her.
"It's okay Sam. Really, I promise." She spoke quietly.
"So what's he like?" Chris asked changing the subject.
"He's, short, bald and he stinks. Is that what you wanted to hear?" she asked teasing. Knowing that he was hoping she would bag her new partner. Chris laughed.
"A guy could dream you know, really, what is he like?" Rita could tell that he was genuine and answered his question honestly.
"He's a nice guy. He's a smart-ass. It reminded me so much of you. The guy can move. Shoots real well, if I didn't already have a partner preference, I couldn't have picked a better partner."
"Thanks Sam." He said touched.
"Yeah, well don't get a big head."
The next few weeks both Chris and Rita concentrated on the changes in their lives. Chris's life in Boston with Jillian, and Rita's life in Palm Beach without Chris. Slowly but surely, they were able to adjust.
Weeks turned to months. Chris and Rita remained close. Talking on the phone as often as possible, but their daily talks were compromised to once or twice a week then to every couple of weeks, but that didn't let them drift far from each other. They were still the other's best friend. Through all the significant times, they were there. Even through the not so significant times, it meant so much to both of them that they were still a huge part of the other's life.
Chris planned to surprise Rita for her birthday. He told Harry and Fran that he would be coming down for her birthday and made them swear not to tell her. He arrived the night before so he could knock on her door at midnight. When the clock stroke midnight Chris began to knock on her door repeatedly. Annoyed, Rita dragged herself out of bed and was cursing all the way to the door. She looked out the little hole and found no one. Her detective instincts kicked in as she opened the door a little to see who was there. Her mouth dropped as she found Chris grinning at her.
"Happy Birthday Sammy" Rita threw open the door, immediately Chris scooped her up in his arms into a tight hug.
"I've missed you Sammy." He whispered into her ear.
"Likewise Sam. What are you doing here?" Rita asked in disbelief.
"What a guy can't visit his best friend for her birthday?" Rita gave his shoulder a light punch as an answer. Without another word Chris encircled her into another hug.
"Tell me again why you're here?" Rita asked dumbfounded.
"Gee, I've forgotten how relentless you are. As I said, I wanted to surprise you for your birthday." Rita watched him intently, not completely buying his story.
"That and." she prodded. Chris rose from where he sat next to her and walked over to the foot of her stairs.
"I moved out on Jillian last month." Speechless Rita waited for Chris to go on.
"When I moved there I knew that it was a step I needed to take. As hard as it was, I needed to do it. You knew that better than I did. I realize that I didn't move to Boston to be with Jillian. I moved to Boston because I needed to be apart from you." Rita looked up from where she was busily threading her fingers through the tassels on the blanket that sat on her couch. Her expression showed that she was confused.
"Sam, I was in-love with you. I am in-love with you." As the words came out Rita felt her heart stop. At that very same moment Michael emerged from Rita's bedroom.
"Reee..uh, you must be Chris." Michael said extending his hand towards Chris. Without a word Chris walked out of Rita's apartment.
Michael glanced at Rita who had not flinched an eyelash since he had come down.
"You okay partner?" he asked. Rita returned his glance with a reassuring smile.
"You think I should go after him?" she asked.
"Yep. Go. I'll grab my stuff and get out of here."
"You don't have to you know."
"Yeah I know. But you guys need to talk." Rita walked over to Michael and gave him an appreciative hug before grabbing her jacket and headed out to find Chris. There was only one place he could be at. As she half walked and half ran to the beach she stopped at the end of the strip.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ She spotted him from where she stood. She watched him, with his head hanging low. She hesitated and contemplated not approaching him at all. After a few more minutes Rita could feel her body push her towards him. Chris felt her presence as she sat down beside him.
"You want to tell me what that was about?" Rita asked him.
"I could ask you the very same question."
"Quite frankly I don't think you have a right to demand an answer. I don't think I owe you an explanation." Her anger began to boil over.
Rita was about to stand up and walk out on him when he grabbed her hand,"I'm sorry Sam. Please sit back down." Rita sat down,
"Well." she countered.
"After I arrived in Boston, I couldn't shake the misery that seemed to have parked itself above my head. The only times I would even remotely feel better was after I have talked to you."
"That doesn't mean." Rita began to interrupt but his look pleaded for her to listen.
"About a month or so ago I was injured in the line of duty. I was in critical condition for a couple of weeks." Chris caught the look of surprise that crossed Rita's face. He could tell that she was wondering why she was never told.
"Jillian was so over wrought that she didn't call anyone. I was in a coma for a couple of days and they weren't sure if I was going to make it. But I did, you know how?" Rita shook her head in reply.
"The whole time I was out I was reliving every moment we have spent together. The good times and bad. Then there were moments I couldn't remember having, I then realized those are the times that I still had to have with you. It was what gave me the strength to wake up, so I can follow fate, what God had planned for me. I realized then and there that I wasn't following Jillian to Boston. I was running away from you. Because I was so scared of losing you if ever I showed you how I truly felt. I knew that it was only a matter of time before I admitted it to myself that I loved you, so I ran before I could find out. I went to Boston in hope that I can bury it. For awhile there I did, but I should have known I couldn't do it forever. See Sammy you're the first thing I think about when I wake up in the morning, the last thing I think about when I go to sleep, and you're what I think about in between that. Heart and Soul I love you. I'm just sorry it took me so long to figure out, and now you and Michael. I'm sorry Sam. I wish..." Before he could say anymore Rita silenced him with a kiss. Surprised Chris kissed her back till Rita pulled back and stared into his questioning eyes.
"I'm not with Michael."
"But...he came out of.he." Chris muttered,
"Michael was hurt tonight when we were working undercover. His apartment his being fumigated so I offered him the guest bedroom. But after he got hurt it was hard for him to sleep on the futon because it was so low. So I offered my bed, I slept in the guestroom."
"Oh Sam.." Chris said happily throwing his arms around her. Rita remained in his arms for a little while before pulling back.
"Chris, this is too fast." Chris heard the fear in her voice.
"You left me remember?" she pointed out quietly. Chris brushed her hair away from her face and tucked it behind her ear.
"I know Sammy. I'm sorry." Rita stared into his eyes and held his gaze as she spoke.
"I'm in-love with you too. From that very moment in Soul Search I knew. But I didn't know how you would take it, so I convinced myself that I had imagined it all. From there we continued to blossom and there was no point in my dreaming of what never could be. When you announced that you were going to Boston, that was like a huge punch in the stomach for me. Especially considering you never really told me. The reason why I was so upset was because you never told me yourself, but mostly because you were leaving, that you chose Jillian over us. Then I realized how silly that was because there was no us. I guess I felt cheated because we were never given a chance, or more accurately we never took the chance."
Chris held Rita's face in his hands,"Are you ready to take the chance now?"he asked in a whisper.
"I know that I love you, and that I know that I want to." She replied.
"Then let's go for it. What could we possibly lose?"
"Each other?" Rita answered uncertainly.
"Never!" Chris exclaimed confidently.
"Best friends always and forever remember?" Before Rita could protest anymore Chris leaned forward and kissed her. He then pulled her closer to him in a tight hug. Rita rested her head against his chest and breathed him in. How she had missed him.
"Welcome home Sam." Chris smiled and placed a kiss on top of her head. Happy Birthday Sammy."
Lis...will you ever remember to put a disclaimer at the end of your stories,hmmm??? lol..Anyway ,you all know that Lis is only borrowing the characters from Silk for this story. There Lis,dear...now is that so hard? hehehe...
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