Too Late by Lisa
an alternative ending to Partners

Here I am

Broken wings

Quiet thoughts

Unspoken dreams

The sky was a beautiful shade of crimsom and gold,as the sun slowly sank behind the ocean,declaring an end to yet another day in time.A warm ,gentle breeze blew,and lightly caressed the mans face.Above him,the seagulls glided ,as they called out to each other,swooping down to the sand every now and then for the bits of discarded treats left over from the visitors that day.The tide was beginning to come in now,and the waves grew higher before they finally crashed a few feet in front of him, then crept thier way to him,yet not quite reaching him,at least not yet.

It was the sort of evening she would have loved, would have caused her to sigh contetedly as she leaned back into his arms,just watching the day come to it's end. It was a scene he played in his mind,one that had been so often made,that it was permanently embedded into him,existed as part of his soul,along with so many other memories they had made. But they were just only memories now............... ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


He remembered seeing her when he first woke up.She was the first person he had seen and he couldn't help but feel incredibly grateful to even see her at all. His last thought before Debra had shot him had been of her.And now there she was,sleeping in that hard chair ,her tiny body all scrunched up and looking uncomfortable as hell.

He just watched her for a minute,not wanting to disturb the rest he was sure she hadn't allowed herself before.He knew she had been there all along,but he had no idea just how long that had been.All he did know was that the lady sleeping in that chair was the most important person in the world to him,his very best friend in the world,and he was glad he was still around for her.He hadn't died after all,as he had feared he would when he felt the sting of the bullets enter into his chest.

He called to her now,no longer willing to wait for her to wake up on her own.He needed to see her,to talk to her and touch her,to look into her eyes ,it was his way to assure himself that he really had escaped his own death.

"Hey,Rita....." he called to her as loud as his still weak voice would allow."Rita"

She opened her eyes,hearing her name,being called, by the one person who she wanted to hear her name spoken from the most.Her eyes anxiously sought his,hoping that she wasn't dreaming anymore. He saw relief flood her as she found his eyes looking back into hers.

"Good morning Sunshine."

She rushed over to where he layed,leaning over to kiss him.

"Hi..." she said ,but wanting to say so much more .She had learned alot about herself in the past few days as she waited for her partner and best friend to wake up. However, the second she had found him laying in Debra's bed,in a pool of his own blood ,and not a breath of life left in him,she had learned even more.

As his mind drifted back in time to that day,he thought back to the words she had whispered to him then, ever so softly as she had kissed him, and welcomed him back .

I love you." He heard the words in her whispered sigh ,but they had taken him by surprise,and he wasn't sure if he had been meant to hear them at all.

Hell..he hadn't even been sure if he was glad he had heard them,and a big part of him had really wished he hadn't.Although it thrilled him deep down ,it also bothered him even more.He cared for Rita so much,he didn't want to ever hurt her.He didn't have the heart to tell her that he loved her in a much different way.She was his best friend,and he needed her to be just that,it was a position in his life not just anyone could fill. Girlfriends were a dime a dozen for him,but her friendship was priceless.He would not take her down from the pedalstool he had placed her on. She was just too special to him for anything less.

She had left the decision up to him whether he chose to hear her words, or not. She had spoken her heart,but she would only do it once. She had said it loud enough for him to hear if he chose to,but she had also spoken the words faintly enough that he could pretend they hadn't been heard.

He knew that whatever came next was up to him,but he simply let the moment pass,and she allowed it to happen.To releve the guilt he felt growing within him,he reasoned with himself. She had just been through a traumatic experience,and it was only natural now for her to feel overly emotional.

That was when Jillian had walked into his room. She was beautiful , and just the distraction they both needed from the intensity of the moment.He jumped at the chance to end the the awkward moments that now layed beneath the surface of thier smiles to each other.

He wondered now what had possessed him to flirt with Jillian , to ask her out right then and there,with Rita still sitting by his side and holding his hand. He remembered the slight flinch he felt in her as he joked with Jillian,..and saw the briefest flint of pain in her eyes before she buried it ,and became his best friend again,wearing the smile that went with the character.

She was and always would be his best friend first.That was more important. Her words had snuck out,surprising even herself,and now she was just grateful that the moment had passed. However deep down,she knew she was rationalizing with herself ,that perhaps he really hadn't heard her speak those words after all......It brought her some comfort thinking this way. Besides,they were each others best friend,and nothing more. It was the way it was meant to be,and eventually things would calm down,and thier relationship would go back to the way it was .....afterall, she was still feeling very uneasy because she had almost lost him.

That night though, she had left his room,feeling very alone.She knew the truth. She was in love with her best friend,and her partner...................

End of flashback ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Here I am

Alone again

The air was growing cooler now,and the night descended on him,yet he did not notice the darkness. Instead his thoughts focused on the darkness that was within him. He was all alone in that darkness,and it frightened him. She had always been the sunshine in his life.

It was his heart that felt the icyness of the winds' breath coming off the ocean,not his physical form. He wasn't aware of anything,but the emptiness he felt and the anguishing cries only he could hear,coming from somewhere in the depth of that black hole that had consumed him.He felt as if he had falling into that black hole and would keep falling forever.It was the memories that he clung onto now. They were all he had and he allowed them to come , not fighting the tears that came with them.Never in his life had he felt as he did now. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


He focused his eyes on the flight schedule above them,instead of looking into her eyes. He hated seeing what was there,what he put there.She stood facing him, her heartbreak shining through the tears that she tried with all her might to keep from coming.

"So you 'll call me when you arrive there?" she asked him,a little timidly,thinking maybe she had no right to even ask that of him. He was going to Boston,to be with Jillian after all.

"You know I will...Rita..." he stopped himself then.He wished he could understand what it was he was feeling,so that he could explain it to her. How could he make her understand what he himself didn't?

What bothered him so much about all of this was that he knew what was going on inside of her now. She believed that she was loosing yet another person she had counted on to be there for her.He wanted to reassure her that no matter what, he would always be there for her ,just as he had promised. He wanted that, but he couldn't give her that,because he had no idea of what would happen once he got to Boston. He had alot of thinking to do, alot of soul searching about his feelings for Jillian. It had all seemed so simple in the beginning,when Jillian asked him to move away with her.His whole life was here in Palm Beach, a career he had invested more then ten years of his life in, many close friends,especially her .Could he leave all that to move to Boston with Jillian.Leave his friends?...Leave Rita?

He had let Jillian go to Boston alone,to start her new life without him.He just wasn't sure of why though ,and that had eaten away at him so much over the past few months.He really thought that he had loved her.So how could he just let her go ?

With the void in his life that had been created when Jillian had moved,he began to find other ways to fill it,other woman. Nothing worked. His entire demeaner soon began to change as he tried desperately to understand what he had now realized he had known all along,but still refused to acknowledge,even then. End of Flashback ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

And I need her now

To hold my hand
Hind sight...he thought as he sat there now. Maybe if he had only realized it then, things would be so different now .It really had been so obvious if he had just allowed himself to see it.If he had,Rita would be sitting there with him now,safe in his arms,and he would never let any harm come to her . There was nothing worse then 20/20 hindsight. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Flashback.....

He remembered all the times his moods had caused him to snap at her,each time he saw the spark in her eyes fade a little bit more. Then finally the last straw.His sharp tongue had brought tears that last time,and she told him she needed time away from him,that they needed a break from each other. Seeing the hurt he had caused her hit him like a ton of bricks,and he finally agreed that maybe she was right. He couldn't let this go on any longer. If he was miserable because he missed Jillian then he would have to make some major life changing decisions. One of them would fall in love some day and things would be different........It was an unspoken possibility they both knew could happen someday,but now it looked as if that day had arrived.

If he found his future in Boston,then he would leave his past in Palm Beach. However whatever the decision he made,he knew that he would always be her friend,and she would always have a piece of his heart that no other woman could ever own.

He would hate to leave her.Even then it had been that thought he always came back to while he was trying to make a decision. It killed him to know that he would hurt her if he did leave. However he also realized that if what he needed was to be in Boston,with Jillian,then it was what he had to do. If he stayed just for her,niether of them would be happy,and eventually it would eat away at thier friendship.Somehow, letting that happen seemed even more devastating.

Rita smiled at him ,knowing she couldn't allow him to see how much she was hurting inside.He was going through a very difficult time and the last thing he needed was her pain added to what already weighed on his heart.If he needed to leave her to be with Jillian and be happy,then she would let him go without her tears on his mind.There would be time later for them,when she was alone,but not now,not with him standing there,his eyes begging for her understanding.She understood,and he needed to know that right now.She only wanted him to be happy. That was what mattered most to her.

"Sammy...I'll be back,whatever decision I make up there,you know I'm coming back's not'll never be goodbye."

"I know,Sam.....I know. You'll give Jillian my best?" she spoke softly,summoning all her stregnth for these words.

"Of course." He leaned into her closer now,taking in her scent as he did,then pulling her into his arms for one last embrace. His eyes closed,as he held her in his arms,wishing it didn't have to be this way. He felt her arms around him tighten ,as if she would never let him go,and a part of him suddenly wished she wouldn't.

"You take care ,you hear me?" he told her.

Her head nodded against his chest."You don't worry about me...just be happy yourself,okay?"

"Rita.....I'll always worry about you." It was his way in telling her that she would always be a part of him.He kissed the top of her head now,then gently pulled her away from him,gazing into her eyes,as he still held her hands in his.

"See ya,Sam" he saw the unshed tears she tried desperately to hold back.He kissed her forehead,lingering his lips there for a tender moment.She pulled away then,afraid that she wouldn't be able to hold back her tears for much longer.

"Yeah...see ya." she quietly said through a forced bittersweet smile

He released her hands,and backed away,still facing her, watching her as she watched him leave.

She waved before turning from him,and walking away. She never once looked back. He understood,and part of him wished he was there by her side,walking along with her,as he usually was. He had no idea of what was going through own mind,what his own heart was feeling,but he knew without a doubt what was in hers,and he hated himself at that moment for what he was putting her through .

It hadn't taken him long at all once he was in Boston to finally understand what had continued to evade his heart when he was in Palm Beach. He had actually begun to come to that realization the moment his plane had taken off. Still he went and met with Jillian,needing to understand his feelings for her.Looking into her eyes brought to him all the clarity he needed. It was not Jillian who owned his heart,mind and soul,but it was Jillian who helped him to realize that it was time he was honest with himself about who did.

They talked all that night,and the next day he spent by himself, trying to understand his feelings as he walked around the city of Boston.He was never alone really though,because Rita was always there with him.

He had no idea of what he was going to do now. He was in love with his partner,his best friend,and the very thought of it scared him to death.He realized he had loved her all along,but had buried those feelings deeply within him.Her presence in his life had not only filled an emptiness within him, but completed him and she had become apart of him. Her friendship was such a treasure to him that in a way he had vaulted it deep within him,and that was where he kept it,safe and protected from anything that could damage it,even if that was his own love. She was just far too precious to him for it to be any other way.

He ached thinking of what he had put her through ,realizing that she had fallen in love with him somewhere along the way. She had tried to tell him,that day he had woken up in the hospital with her sleeping by his bedside. Only he had dismissed it , had chosen to let the moment fade into nothing, and making her believe he didn't love her in the same way,and just didn't want to hurt her.......when all along,the opposite was the truth. He loved her so very much,but he had been afraid of her words,and afraid of saying them himself.Afraid that if he did,he would loose her somehow,and if he lost her,he would loose himself......

Once again he had to decide what he was going to do.He needed to do some serious thinking because he couldn't bear to put her in the same position that other woman had found themselves in with of wanting from him more then he could give.He had never wanted to hurt any of them ,but it would kill him if his Sammy, of all people were to get hurt. She deserved so much better then him.

It was time he returned to Palm Beach,and to her. Although he still wasn't sure what he was going to do,he knew he needed to see her anyway.She was still his friend and whatever he was feeling,he could bury again and at least continue to be just that,at least until he sorted everything else out.

He couldn't wait to see her again. He knew that when he gazed into her eyes,his restless and aching heart would again be eased,just by seeing her love for him.

End of Flashback ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

She's all,she's all I ever had

She's the air I breathe

She's all,she's all I ever had

It's the way she makes me feel

It's the only thing that's real

It's the way she understands

She's my lover ,she's my friend

And when I look into her yes It's the way I feel inside

Like the man I wanrt to be

She's all I 'll ever need

Chris stood now,finally realizing that night had fallen.but too paralyzed with his thoughts to move. He stared hard into the restless sea,watching as the tide rolled in,and bringing with it yet another memory. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


She hadn't been able to sleep,and he remebered being concerned for her over it. She was running herself down,and he knew something was eating away at her,yet she wouldn't tell him what it was.He remebered how he had read to her from her favorite childhood books,and how they sat up all those nights talking ,about anything and everything,except the one thing that was keeping her up.She never told him what it was that bothered her,but he knew,because he knew her . She was afraid of dying,afraid of fallen asleep and never waking up. It was that damn bubble in her head.When he forced her to realize her fears,,she had been able to confront them ,and finally she was able to deal with it. End of Flashback ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

So much time

So much pain ,but

Theres one thing

That still remains

It's the way she cared

The love we shared

And through it all

She's always been there

She's all ,she's all I ever had

That wasn't the memory now though that he wished he could go back and change. Instead it was when he had almost told her what he felt for her. He was sure that he must have known then,but as always he had pushed those feelings away.

He had long forgotten this memory,pushing it away,along with the feelings that had suddenly risen at the time.Niether of them had been ready to hear those words then,but it was one of those times he wished he could reclaim now. He couldn't help but wonder if she really did know then,as she claimed to. If he could,he would have told her back then,or maybe that time she she had whispered those three anxious filled words..."I love you" in the hospital.Now though,these were only moments that had already passed,and he could never reclaim them,never change them as he wished. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


He had been so excited when he entered his apartment. He was just going to drop off his things and then head over to her place and surprise her. He had no idea of what would happen between them, or what he would do about his feelings for her...but he had decided that he was going to leave everything up to destiny. He would allow whatever was to happen to just happen,and he wasn't going to fight it anymore.

His phone was ringing as he opened the door.

" Yeah...Lorenzo"

It had been Cap. "Chris...That case that Ritas' been working just went up in a car bomb...I think she's been hurt too."

His heart stopped beating for a second,his breath caught in his lungs. Rita......

"Where Cap" he managed to get out.

It was only two words from Cap..."Night Moves" and he was already on his way to her. It had been the longest ten minute drive of his life. He couldn't think about why he was going , or what he would find when he finally got there , he kept his mind devoid of any thought,because it was easier that way. The alternative would have pushed him into the brink of insanity .

However,his heart ached with the whirlwind of his emotions,and seeing her did nothing to ease that pain.

She was laying on a gurney now,and the paramedics were working on her. He forced himself to walk over to her bracing himself for what he was seeing.She was awake,but he could see she was really hurting. She was srtruggling for each gasp of breath she took in.He looked over to the paramedic,who stood by her side,and asked him his questions with his eyes.He watched as the man checked her blood pressure once again,and sadly shook his head Chris' direction,telling him silently what he would not say out loud to him.Chris went up to her then and very carefully took her hand into his. She was looking at him now with tears in her eyes,but still she smiled her beautiful smile at him.

"Chris..." she took in another breath,and he saw her wince with the pain it brought her."your here..."

"Shh" he tried to keep her quiet and still now."Of course I'm here,sunshine..where else should I be,hmmm?"

She closed her eyes for a bit and it caused his heart to freeze. God,please no,he cried silently within...NO!

Quickly she was loaded into the ambulance now,and he climbed into it with her. He took her hand into his once again.

Her eyes opened again ,gazing right into his,telling him that she knew what wasn't being said aloud..

A tear began to roll slowly down her face now.

He gently wiped it away. Inside he was screaming his damnation to the heavens and the earth, at a god who would do this to her,at a world who could destroy such a sweet and gentle soul,and even at himself for not being able to change any of it. To her though ,he only smiled reassuringly ,and caressed her tear stained face "Chris,I'm glad.....I get to see you again before...." She drew in a deep breath,again wincing at the pain it brought to her.

"Hey....,sweetheart,you are going to be fine,you'll see." He knew he was lying,something he had sworn he would never do to her,but now it was the only thing he could do. He saw the fear in her eyes,the hopelessness,and all he wanted to do was to take it away,to give her renewed hope,and maybe a stregnth that would help her to fight this.

"Chris...could you hold me...please?"her voice pleaded with him,and he looked over to the paramedic again,who gravely shook his head yes,and turned away. There wasn't anything else he could do to help her anymore.

Chris gently lifted her shoulders slightly into his arms,and allowed her head to rest in on one,as he pulled her close to him,taking her other hand into his.

"'s alright,sunshine...I'm here. Everything is gonna be alright ...shh." he tried to comforte her ,as she softly sobbed now into his chest.

"Rita...honey...I'm so sorry...I should have been here...I would never have let this happen to you."

"'s not your fault" She was struggling to breathe now as she tried to talk."Your here now,that's all that matters.,Chris. ....I can tell should know this...the truth........I love you.. love with you,Chris."

"Oh Sammy...I know that.....only I didn't understand my own feelings...and now I do. I love you too,Rita...I think I have always loved you from the moment we met...."

He watched her struggle to smile,and then her eyes fluttered ,and she began to draw in deeper gasps of air.

"Sammy,you gotta hang in there now...we have so much too talk about. I have so much to tell you. Please Sammy,you gotta fight this!"

"'s okay ..... I'm not afraid...... as long as your here..... doesn't hurt much now."Her voice was broken ,barely above a whisper.

He was scared...he couldn't loose her. He yelled ,angry with the fate that they had been dealt, and with her, for so easily accepting it."Come on Rita Lance,you fight this! Your going to make it throught this,honey,because I love you,Rita,I need you,and you can't leave me now. I am so sorry that I didn't know my feelings,but I do now,Sam...Now is what's matters,you said that yourself,didn't you. "

Rita was crying."I'm so sorry Sam...It's too late for us...." A painful shudder went through her,and Chris held her tighter to him..."Chris...I love you...".

"Damn it Rita..No! You can't leave me !"

She opened her eyes one last time,and gazed into his, the same color blue as the ocean that had always brought her peace. She summoned the last of her stregnth..

"I love you Chris.....I'm not leaving you.......just going to the ocean now...."

Her words didn't make sense to him,but they took his soul away with hers to that ocean of hers.

She reached up caressing his face, her eyes seeing only his,until they gently closed with the last gasp of her breath,and her hand no longer was touching his face.One last tear rolled from her eye ,and down her cheek,until it was lovingly kissed away by the man for whom it was shed for.

He didn't remeber too much of that night after that. He knew he had held her in his arms,as he cried and then they had taken her away from him,forever....

Suddenly Cap was there and then later Fran had come,and he remembered her hugging him and letting him cry on her shoulder some more. After that,the past few days seemed to become a blur in his mind. It didn't matter to him. He really didn't want to remember them anyway.

End of Flashback ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

In a world so cold,so empty

She's all ,she's all I ever had

It's the way she makes me fell

It's the only thing that's real

It's the way she understands

She's my lover,she's my friend

And when I look into her eys

It's the way I feel inside

Like the man I want to be

She's all I'll ever need

Here I am........

He stood there staring into the dark turbulent ocean,releived that the one his precious Rita had seen wasn't what he was seeing now.Today they had buried her. It had been a brilliant sunny day and Chris could only wonder why the sun continued to shine,and why the people he passed still laughed and ate icecream.......

Didn't they know the world had come to an end? No.......not thier world,just his.

He felt the biting wind that was now whipping at him,as the tide crawled further up the shore,touching his ankles.

He shouted into the passing wind ,hoping that where ever it went,it would take his voice with it,and she would hear him.

"I love you Rita! I will always love you!"

He turned from the ocean now,and walked away.It was the hardest thing he ever had to face the future without her in it,and yet always she would be with him,apart of him.

He had come here to thier place ,but not really understanding why ,even now.

Perhaps he had been hoping to find her here, as he always had before.

No,he thought,things would never be the way they were before.

She's all,she's all I ever had.

The End. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Boy am I glad this is finished...even I am balling my eyes out now!!! Okay...would it help you all to know that I hated writting this? I had a train of though...sort of like what if...and I honestly tried to keep Rita alive,but it just wasn't happening,and I did what I had to do to bring peace to my own mind. I'm sorry guys,but when you have to write ,you have to write,and whatever comes out,comes out!But at least's out of my system!!!!

In reality ,I really am a hopeless romantic and I actually want to keep our beloved couple alive and well.....which is the good thing about fanfic....they can always come back in my next story! LOL ...However, I also happen to enjoy tearjerkers almost as much as I hate them,if that makes any sense to you all . I just love a good cry!..LOL! my next story Rita and Chris will be ALIVE! I promise!!! I know I was really horrible to write this and I deserve any and all comments,,so feel free...but if you complain to me that you cried...well I"ll take that as a compliment...LOL. Thanks for reading my story and for understanding...Oh...and I have to do this,don't I? Chris and Rita, Cap,Fran and Jillian,are not mine..sniff,sniff.....(I don't want Jillian though...they can have her)....You all know who they belong to,and where they're from....and I thank all those associated with Silk Stalkings for giving us this show...and beg them to please,please,please bring it back!!!! ...PS...The song,She's all I Ever Had,is by Ricky Martin,and has been since added to the story.....Every time I heard this song,I always thought about this story and knew I had to add it. Lisa


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