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Just a Cold

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“I’m fine, sir. Really.”

Looking Sam over, Foyle didn’t exactly have to be a detective to know that it was a lie. She was sniffling and her eyes were glassy. “Sam,” he said. “You’re obviously ill.” Her expression when he said so held an odd mixture of disappointment and relief, but relief seemed to be winning out as she swayed slightly where she stood. “Sit down, at least.” He reached out and then hesitated for just a moment before grasping her upper arm and steering her to the chair in front of his desk. He crouched next to her, fingers lingering on her sleeve. This was why he was always so reluctant to touch her. He was afraid he’d never let go.  

She made an abortive attempt to sit up, and since he was already in it he saw no reason not to stay the movement by resting a hand on her shoulder. The lightest touch sufficed. “What if-” she started.

“Hush. There’s very little going on today, and if anything happens Milner is well able to handle it. If it’s truly serious, someone else can drive me- which, at the moment, I'd recommend anyway.” He couldn't keep the fondness out of his voice.

Now that Sam was sitting, her exhaustion was more obvious. “Worried about me?” She eyed him through half-open eyes, somehow sly. “'S just a cold.”

“Yes,” he said, ultimately to both. It certainly didn’t help that she looked so pale and weak. It brought to mind that time when she’d been truly ill- dying, even- and he hadn’t been sure he would be able to get the cure for her in time.

He felt her forehead for a fever as he might have done when Andrew was a boy. Thinking of Andrew in that moment wasn’t pleasant- Andrew, who liked her so much, maybe even loved her. He wondered when it had all become such a mess and if there was any way to fix it without someone getting hurt. He couldn’t think of one- so if someone had to get hurt, it ought to be him.

Still his fingers lingered over her clammy skin, and he wanted to take her home and look after her. And he would have her taken home- but not to his, that would be impractical and foolish besides. Sam shared her house with several other women, one of whom would undoubtedly do an admirable job of watching over Sam.  He took her hand. “Let’s get you out of here.”

She gripped his fingers but didn’t move. “Stay like this for a while.”

He supposed that he’d pretend she meant in the chair. He supposed that, when she was better, they both would. But for the time being he stayed where he was, hand wrapped around her hand. He reached out on impulse and- several times- nearly stopped himself before he finally gave in and brushed an errant blonde curl from her damp forehead.

The way she sighed and looked better just for that would have to be something else that they would pretend hadn’t happened. For the moment, though, it had to be enough that he kept himself from saying, ‘Let me take care of you’- because that way he could pretend that she would have said ‘No.’

He only said, "You'll feel better soon."

And she said, "Yes, sir."  As she always did.