Summary: Sam and Janet welcome Cassie into their home.
"She said she'd be here!" Izzie's voice was petulant.
"She said she'd try to make it, Iz," Anna reminded her sister gently. "She's working today, remember? She said she'd get straight in the car after her shift. But it's nearly three hours away, and we don't know what the traffic is like."
"But I wanted to see her before we leave," Izzie said, miserably.
"I know, Iz," Anna's tone was reassuring. "We all want to see her. But if she doesn't make it, we're just going to have to accept it. Anyway," she forced a smile, "we'll all be back in three months or so, won't we Mum?" she winked at her mother Carolyn.
She had managed to persuade her parents that they should start the long vacation they had planned after her father's retirement in Montana. Carolyn already suspected that Anna might decide to stay in Montana while the rest of the family covered parts of the US they hadn't seen on their last trip. Carolyn kept her thoughts to herself, though. Much as she liked Cassie, she didn't want to push Anna toward another relationship until she was ready; she had been very badly hurt, and was still raw. And, as far as she could tell, Anna and Cassie were only good friends. So far.
"You know you can come stay any time you want, don't you?" Janet put her arm round Izzie. "You'll always be welcome in our house. Any of you."
Izzie smiled. "You're nice," she replied, "both of you."
"Let's have a coffee," Sam suggested. "You've got just under an hour before you have to go through," she nodded at the departure gate. "She might be on her way. There's no answer from her cell, which suggests she could be driving. It's worth a try." Sam thought she saw Anna's face light up slightly with hope. Like Carolyn, she also wondered if Cassie and Anna had reached some sort of understanding. She decided that they probably hadn't yet, but she remained hopeful that history would repeat itself, and that they would find the happiness they had in her former timeline. "C'mon Izzie," she suggested with a grin, "let's go and see what cakes they've got here; you can help me choose." And she passed the girl her crutches, on which she was by now very agile. Izzie smiled.
= = =
"I don't know how you can drink that stuff," Janet's nose wrinkled in disgust as Sam sipped a herbal tea.
"Well Dr Fraiser, I don't know how you can say that," Sam grinned. "My doctor tells me I should avoid too much caffeine. And she's not the sort of woman you argue with."
"Yeah," Janet agreed, her voice dripping with sarcasm. "Because you always follow your doctor's orders, don't you?!"
"There are some orders I follow absolutely," Sam gave Janet a look that allowed for only one interpretation.
Janet blushed, and almost choked on her coffee. "Yes, well, I don't think we need to talk about that right now," she said, as she recovered her equilibrium. She spotted a familiar figure in the distance. "Hey, Izzie," she said, with a broad grin, "looks who's come to see you off!" And she stood up, and waved frantically.
Cassie came bounding over, smiling widely. "Hey guys," she said, slightly breathlessly. "I'm so glad you're still here, I was afraid I was gonna miss you. The last patient overran, and the traffic was awful. Hey Iz," she saw the young woman's smiling face, and flung her arms round her, "you're looking great."
"I feel great, Cassie," Izzie said. "And I'm getting really good on these," she waved her crutches in the air.
"You still planning to come visit on your vacation?" Cassie asked.
Izzie nodded enthusiastically.
Sam got up from her chair. "Sit," she commanded Cassie, "I'll get you a coffee. Danish?"
"Please," Cassie replied, "I'm starving, haven't had time for anything to eat since lunch."
"I hope you'll come back for dinner then?" Janet asked. "Maybe even stay the night?"
"If that's okay," Cassie said, "that'd be great. I'm not working for three days, so I can stay two nights, if that's okay?"
"That sounds great," Janet said. "I'm working tomorrow and the next day, but Sam's around. In fact, I'm pretty sure she was planning to hit the hardware store, she's got big plans for your room. Maybe you can go with her, and make the decisions together?"
"My room?" Cassie was nonplussed. "But it doesn't need decorating."
"Oh we have bigger plans than just paint," Janet grinned. "And Sam's very excited, so you'd better just go along with everything."
"What am I excited about?" Sam demanded, as she returned with a coffee and Danish.
"Cassie's room," Janet said.
"Oh yeah," Sam grinned. "Janet's right, Cass, you'd better just agree to our plans."
Cassie grinned back. "Whatever you say, Sam, whatever you say!"
= = =
The six women chatted excitedly right up until the last minute. "We really must go now," Carolyn said reluctantly. She drew Sam and Janet into a hug. "Thank you," she said, "for everything. I don't know how we would have coped without you. And it's wonderful to have made such good friends. That goes for you too," she turned to Cassie. "I thought it was one of the worst things that could happen, when Iz was hit by that car. But now I see that it has led to something very special. I know you're going to be very happy when you move in with these two. We'll see you soon, okay?"
Cassie nodded, too moved by Carolyn's words to speak. She embraced her warmly, and then turned to Izzie. "Next time I see you, I don't want to see those," she said firmly, pointing at the crutches, but with a warm smile.
Izzie smiled back. "I promise," she said, and hugged Cassie. "We'll see you soon."
Anna said her goodbyes to Sam and Janet, and then turned to Cassie. She reached out, and pulled the smaller woman to her, and hugged her fiercely, not trusting herself to say anything. Cassie returned the hug. "Soon," Cassie said quietly, "we'll see you soon." Anna nodded, and pulled away reluctantly. She squeezed Cassie's hand briefly, and then walked swiftly to the barrier. As they went through, all three raised their hands and waved.
= = =
"Are you okay?" Sam asked Cassie, gently.
"Yeah, I'm fine," Cassie said in a quiet voice. "Just tired. Glad I made it here on time though, I really wanted to see them before they left."
"Hey Sam," Janet suggested. "How about you drive Cassie's car? You look exhausted Cassie," she said to the young woman as she started to protest. "I'll see you both back at the house."
Sam smiled, and put her hand on Janet's shoulder. "If you're sure," she said, and leant forward and kissed her softly on the mouth. "You're one in a million, Jan," she said. "See you there."
"Thanks," Cassie said. "I've been driving all day. It'll make a nice change to be driven for once."
"Sure," Sam said, taking the proffered keys. "You just take it easy. I swear not to push it. Anyway," she grinned as they reached Cassie's 12-year-old car, "I'm not sure this car's gonna let me speed."
Cassie laughed. "Not kidding. It needs a good tune-up too, I'm not very organized when it comes to things like that."
"I'll take a look," Sam offered, with rather too much enthusiasm.
"No, it's okay," Cassie said, "I'm taking enough from you two as it is."
"Seriously, I'd love to," Sam insisted. "It's been too long since I've I had my head stuck in an engine. That's what I always used to do to relax," she said, wistfully. "I'd head down to the garage, and start taking one of my bikes apart, or tune up my car, or Janet's car. Used to drive Janet crazy," she said, thinking back to her old timeline. "She'd come and drag me out if I'd been in there too long."
"Maybe you'd better do it while she's at work?" Cassie sounded worried.
Sam laughed. "Yeah, you could be right. She doesn't really mind, though, she just likes to remind me who's really in charge."
Cassie laughed too. She loved the warm, bantering relationship between Sam and Janet; it made her feel comfortable. She hoped that she too would one day have somebody as special in her life. She was sad that Anna lived on the other side of the world; she knew that hoping for a relationship with her was pointless, it would be impossible to maintain with that distance between them. But one day, she hoped, one day she would be blissfully happy like Sam and Janet.
= = =
Janet beat them back to the house by just over ten minutes. "Hey," she smiled, as the two came into the hallway. "Pasta okay?"
Already the smell of cooking was permeating the house. "You're amazing, Jan," Sam said, "How d'you get it cooked so fast?"
Janet winked. "The sauce is out of a packet, don't be fooled."
"Well it smells great," Sam said.
"Sure does," Cassie agreed, "I'm starving, I can't wait."
"Well you two go wash up," Janet said, turning back to chop the salad. "And by the time you get back it'll be ready."
= = =
"It's good having her here, isn't it?" Janet asked Sam later that night, as they were curled lazily on the couch together. Cassie had gone to bed, tired by her busy day.
"It's great," Sam agreed, "it feels... you know... just right. I'm so happy we found her, and that you wanted her to become part of our family. I know that can't have been easy for you, baby, you haven't known her for over ten years like I have. You didn't meet her when she was just a scared kid, desperate for somebody to love her."
"She still needs love now, Sam," Janet tightened her grip on her lover. "And we've both got plenty to give. It's going to be okay, hon, I'm sure of it. I know she hasn't moved in yet, but I'll bet within a couple of weeks we'll all be used to it."
"D'you think she's going to like it here?" Sam knew her voice sounded pathetic, she just couldn't help it.
"Oh honey," Janet struggled up onto her elbow, and looked deep into Sam's blue eyes. "Of course she is. She's visited every chance she could get so far, and she's staying two nights now; if her visits were just because she wanted to see Anna, she wouldn't be here now. She's been all alone since Catherine died, now she's part of a family. And I may be wrong, but my guess is that she's just thrilled about that. She kissed Sam gently. "It'll work out great, Sam, I just know it. Try not to worry."
Sam nodded, her emotions threatening to overwhelm her. "Thank you sweetie," she whispered. She looked up at her lover. "Take me to bed?" she asked in a quiet voice.
Janet rolled off the couch and got to her feet. She held out her hand to Sam. "C'mon then, baby,"
= = =
"You're kidding me?" Cassie was astounded. "I don't need an en-suite bathroom. The bathroom you've already got is great."
"I don't care," Sam said, with a stubborn twinkle in her eye. "We're going ahead with it, whatever you say. The shower and toilet are already on order, they'll be here on Monday. So you can come with me and choose the tiles and paint color, or you'll just have to live with whatever I choose!"
Impulsively Cassie wrapped her arms round Sam and gave her a huge hug. "You two are so sweet to me," she said, "I couldn't ask for a better family."
Sam swallowed hard, trying to hide how much she was touched by Cassie's use of the word 'family'. "You're more than welcome, Cass," she said. "We can't wait until you move in at the end of the month. And when you do, we want you to feel totally at home."
Cassie smiled shyly at Sam. "I already do," she said, "I feel the same way about this house as I used to about Catherine's place. It's a long time since I've felt ... wanted, I suppose."
Sam's heart broke for the young girl, who had experienced more tragedy in her short life than most people did in a lifetime. "Well you're certainly wanted here," she told her, "by both of us. Janet has plans for you, you know," she grinned. "She's determined to teach you to cook. She gave up on me a long time ago, and she wants a willing pupil."
Cassie giggled, a sound that filled Sam's heart with joy. "Well she's not going to find it easy," Cassie said, "let's just say that I'm not... domestically gifted!"
Sam laughed. "Poor Janet. Oh well, she'll get used to it. Ready to hit the stores, then?"
Cassie nodded. "Just show me the way!"
= = =
Four hours later, Sam and Cassie returned to the house, laughing and talking non-stop. They unloaded bag after bag from the trunk of the car, containing paint, brushes, wallpaper, lamps, flat-packed furniture and much more. "I can't wait to get started!" Sam announced. Cassie laughed.
By the time Janet came home from work, the house was in chaos. Sam and Cassie had moved all the bedroom furniture into the spare bedroom, and had spent the day stripping the old wallpaper and preparing the surfaces. They were dirty, but elated, and it filled Janet with pleasure to see how their relationship was moving on.
The next day, Sam was up at 6am and was down in the garage by 6.30am. When Cassie got up two hours later, she couldn't find Sam anywhere, until she heard an engine revving in the garage. She went to investigate, and was amused to find a grimy but happy Sam, with her head under the hood of her car. "Hey Cass!" Sam called. "Just fixing a few things here. My guess is it's been some time since this poor car has had any attention?"
Cassie grinned and looked slightly shamefaced. "Yeah," she admitted. "Car maintenance isn't exactly one of my strengths. I know I should have taken it in before now to be looked at."
Sam smiled back. "Don't worry about it, it's given me something to play with. I need to get a few parts today though. Did you realize your brakes are nearly worn through? I'm going to enjoy getting this baby roadworthy again. Should be done before the end of the day. Want to learn a bit about engines, or would you rather work on your room?"
"I'd love to learn a bit about the car," Cassie was enthusiastic. "I've always wanted to learn some of the basics, like oil changes, but I've never known anyone who could teach me."
"Well you've come to the right place!" Sam grinned. "We'll leave your room for today, it's more important that we get this fixed; I don't want you driving it again, not before I get these brakes replaced at the very least. Okay then, hand me that wrench."
They spent most of the rest of the day in the garage, and Cassie was excited by how much she had learned.
= = =
"Ten days," Sam's voice broke. "We'll see you in ten days." Her arms were wrapped round the girl she now totally thought of as her daughter.
"And after that, you won't be able to get rid of me!" Cassie joked, to lessen the tension of the moment.
"Drive safely," Janet said.
"I will, especially now the car is running so well, thanks to Sam," Cassie smiled. "I'll call when I get there."
Sam and Janet continued waving long after the car had disappeared from view. "You okay?" Janet asked Sam.
"Yeah," Sam said, "I really am. And our daughter's coming home in less than two weeks. Life doesn't get much better than that, does it?"
"Did you notice that she and Anna talked every day while she was here?" Janet asked. "Seems to me that they're developing a very strong friendship, to say the least."
Sam smiled. "Those two belong together," she said quietly. "I know, I know," she held up her hands in surrender, "I'm not going to push either of them. But you just wait, and watch. I'm right, I'm sure I am."
"I hope you are, Sam," Janet said, "I can't think of a better girlfriend for Cassie."
= = =
"Wow!" Cassie was astounded at the progress Sam (and Janet, on the weekend) had made on her room. "It all looks great. I can't believe it's the same room. You've done a fantastic job!"
"Check out the bathroom!" Sam urged, she was probably more excited than Cassie.
"Oh my God!" Cassie exclaimed. "It's incredible. And it's all mine! You realize I'm never going to want to move out of here?"
"That's what we're hoping Cassie," Janet said, kissing her gently on the cheek. "Okay. Lunch is ready."
Over the meal, the three women talked constantly. Cassie admitted that she was nervous about starting at the new station that week, but insisted that she was happy to have made the move. "I'll get to know the others soon enough," she said. "It'll be great. And it'll be so good to come back here after a shift, rather that going to my old room." She also told Sam and Janet that she was talking every day to Anna. "She's a real good friend," she said simply. "And in the future, who knows? It'll be good to see her again in a couple of months, and the others too, of course. Izzie's off her crutches now, she's doing real well."
= = =
"So how was it?" Sam demanded, as Cassie returned from her first shift at the new station.
"Great!" Cassie grinned. "They've paired me with Rob, and he seems real nice. He's very funny, but he's also very kind with the patients. We had to get an old lady who had slipped on her stairs this morning, and he was very gentle with her. Even got her laughing on the way to hospital. I think I'm really going to like it there!"
"That's great," Sam beamed.
Over the next few days, all three women slipped into a routine. Sam was spending most of her days studying, getting ready for her new job as a math teacher, which was only three weeks away. And Cassie and Janet both came home happy from work each day. Life was good.
Ten days after Cassie arrived in the house, her cell rang. "It's Annie!" she told Sam and Janet, as she got up from the couch and took the call in the kitchen. Sam and Janet heard squeaks of excitement, and fifteen minutes later Cassie came bounding back into the living room. "She's on her way!" she told the two women, excitedly. "She's at the airport now. She gets here at 10.30am tomorrow. I'm picking her up from the airport then!"
Once Cassie had calmed down, she explained that Anna had called, and told her that she couldn't wait any longer to see her, so on impulse had bought an air ticket. She told them, rather shyly, that Anna had told her that she thought she was falling in love with her, and wanted to see her, to see if there was a chance they could make a relationship work. "I think I love her too," Cassie said, blushing.
Sam leapt up from the couch, and flung her arms round her daughter. "That's great news," she told Cassie. "Annie's welcome here any time she wants, for as long as she wants, right Jan?"
Janet nodded her agreement, a broad smile on her face. "Sam?" she asked. "Didn't you want to go back and clear out your apartment in Washington at some point?"
"Yeah," Sam said, "I've only got a few things there, but I want to get them. Then I can sell the place furnished, or get somebody in to clear the place."
"Well how about we go together, tomorrow?" she suggested. "It's the weekend, I haven't seen Washington for years. Cassie can give us a ride to the airport when she goes to get Anna. And then they can both come back and pick us up Sunday evening."
Sam beamed. She knew that Janet was being her usual tactful self, and wanted to give Cassie and Anna the run of the house for a couple of days. And she also thought that she would rather enjoy a romantic weekend alone with Janet. In truth, she only needed to pick up the few clothes in her closet, a couple of books and a few CDs. Everything else she would happily leave behind. In her mind, she was already planning a nice restaurant, champagne, flowers, the lot. "Great idea, Jan," she said. "I'll look on the 'net, check flights."
Cassie protested that they didn't need to do that, but Janet insisted that she wanted to see Washington, so within an hour it was fixed. Sam found flights that left 90 minutes after Anna arrived, so that would give them time to greet her and have a cup of coffee, before Anna went home with Cassie.
= = =
"What's wrong Cass?" Sam asked Cassie that evening. Janet was in the kitchen.
"I'm okay," Cassie replied, but looked downcast.
"Something's bugging you," Sam said, gently. "I can tell."
"I'm just being dumb," Cassie said. "Worrying about things I can't do anything about." She looked up at Sam, who moved over to the couch she was sitting on and took her hand.
Sam said nothing, and just waited for Cassie to continue.
"It's Annie," Cassie said eventually. "I'm excited about seeing her again, of course I am. Real excited. I'm just worried. We might not get on. We might not be ... compatible," she blushed furiously at this. "We haven't even kissed Sam."
Sam looked at her distraught daughter. "You love her, right?" she asked in a gentle voice.
Cassie nodded. "I do, I really do."
"And she says she loves you?"
"She says so," Cassie agreed.
"And, even though she's scared of flying, she's coming half way across the world to see you, isn't she?" Sam went on.
"Yeah, she is," Cassie said.
"So she loves you. And you love her. That's all you need," Sam said. "Anything else, you'll work out. It'll all be fine. More than fine, it's going to be great. And you don't need to rush anything. Just trust Annie, and trust yourself. She's as nervous as you, I'll bet. You'll work it out. And when you do," this time it was Sam's turn to blush, "you'll discover real happiness."
"Thanks, Sam," Cassie looked up at her, tears in her eyes.
"If you ever need to talk, we're here," Sam told her. "We'll always be here."
= = =
"The flight landed twenty minutes ago!" Cassie was impatient.
"They've got to get their bags, go through Customs, all that stuff," Janet reminded her gently. "She'll be here any minute."
"There she is!" Sam exclaimed, pointing out a figure struggling with an awkward baggage trolley.
Cassie ran toward Anna, who flung herself into her arms. "It's great to see you," she said softly. "Thank you for coming."
Next: Finding Love