A/N – For the first time in several years, I am stepping outside of the Music Man fandom! I watched Guys and Dolls recently, and since then, Sky Masterson and Sarah Brown have hijacked my brain. The "missing scene" of Sky and Sarah's reconciliation was just too tantalizing a fanfic opportunity to pass up!
Dark hair. Green eyes. Captivating smile. Willowy, voluptuous figure. Sultry voice. Sergeant Sarah Brown was by no means the first doll Sky Masterson had ever met who possessed these alluring characteristics, and she certainly wouldn't be the last.
So why couldn't he forget her?
Maybe it was the way those flashing green eyes had looked straight into his, cutting immediately and effortlessly through the charming but wry smile that had kept other dolls from probing too deeply into his soul. The way that willowy, voluptuous figure tumbled into his lap and nestled against him in the church courtyard under the soft, spellbinding light of a Havana moon. The way that captivating smile continued to light up her beautiful face even after he'd told her the truth about why he'd brought her all the way to Cuba in the first place. The way that sultry voice purred into his ear as the formerly buttoned-up missionary doll admitted without a hint of maidenly scruple that she was a woman in love.
However, he ultimately lost the bet, although any other guy would have said he'd won it looking at the bare facts alone – he'd convinced the high-class missionary doll to go to Havana with him. But Sky Masterson would rather pay Nathan Detroit a thousand bucks ten times over before admitting – even to himself – that he came so close to winning not just the bet, but something else he hadn't realized he badly wanted until all possibility of obtaining it had been snatched away from him. He supposed he could have claimed the thousand from Nathan as a consolation prize and at least gotten something out of this mess. After all, what did preserving the lady's reputation matter? It didn't matter what he said or did in the gambling underworld, or why he said or did it. She'd never find out, and even if she did, it wouldn't change her opinion of him. With her cold eyes and sneering denunciation of his alleged misdeeds, Sergeant Brown had lumped him in with the sordid likes of Big Jule – a classification that stung both his heart and pride. Comparing him to Big Jule was akin to likening sheep and goats, or bundling the wheat with the chaff!
But no matter how many Biblical metaphors Sky could cite in his own defense, it wouldn't make even a tiny, infinitesimal mustard seed of difference. In Sister Sarah's black-and-white, collars-buttoned-all-the-way-up world, there were only two kinds of people: saints and sinners. And gamblers were always counted among the sinners, whether or not they had actually done anything worth repenting for. Even if the two of them had shared that rare and real something for one brief moment, he'd always be a gambler, and she'd always be a missionary. What kind of life could they possibly make together, being so completely at odds before they even started?
So it was best if he forgot about her, left this city for a while. Spent time with another doll or two… or twenty. However many dolls it took until Sarah Brown was as vague a recollection as all the other women who'd ever passed through his life. But as he sat in the airport waiting to board his plane to Havana, Sky had the unpleasant inkling that it would take more than a string of casual affairs to blunt the memory of this particular woman. Even his father, who had been notorious in his youth for enjoying the company of any doll that struck his fancy, had eventually fallen head over heels in love, and by all accounts had been a faithful and devoted husband right up to the point when his wife suddenly and unexpectedly died. Sky was barely two years old at the time, so he had never really known his mother. But his father had talked about her all the time, saying that while the vast majority of dolls were straw in a giant haystack, every once and a while a man got lucky enough to find the woman who was the needle.
Sky dutifully committed all of his dear old daddy's wise advice to memory when setting out to make his own way in the world, but this was one subject with which he privately disagreed. Why would any man want to be pricked by a needle when the straw was much more plentiful, comfortable and inviting?
"Sky?" came that unmistakable, sultry voice: soft, uncertain, breathless, sending shivers down his spine.
He immediately turned around. There, with dark curls mussed, hands trembling, and second button of her crisp red Save-a-Soul jacket undone, stood the woman he was trying so hard to leave behind. The doll who was different than any other doll he'd ever met. The needle who had pricked him into tossing her back in the haystack.
Somehow, he managed to affect a nonchalant smile. "Sister Sarah – to what do I owe the pleasure?"
Her eyes, already gleaming with unshed tears, seemed to glow even more brightly in the harsh, unforgiving glare of the overhead lights. "Sky, please," she entreated, clutching at her throat as she gasped to catch her breath. "I ran all the way here – I just had to talk to you."
Sky's expression did not change. Even though he suspected he'd been dealt a straight flush, he wasn't quite sure whether he was thrilled or infuriated by this unexpected turn of events. It was hard to keep a straight face, but somehow, he managed, even though his heart was now doing somersaults in his chest. "All right – talk," he said, spreading his arms in a shrug, as if they were merely acquaintances sharing pleasantly meaningless conversation. "I'm all ears."
The one thing he had always admired – and found tremendously unsettling – about Sarah Brown was the way she could lay her cards right out on the table: "Mr. Detroit told me that you lost the bet."
He nodded, biting his lip. It was still too soon to reveal his hand. "So I did."
She bit her lip, as well. Her trembling fingers toyed nervously with her second button, fastening and unfastening it, and then refastening it again. "Why did you tell him that?"
Sky shrugged again, and continued to look only sideways at her as he matter-of-factly answered, "Because as you correctly said one moonlit night not so long ago, I'm a chump. To pretend otherwise would be to live a lie, and even if I am a chump, I am not a coward."
Sarah's pleading gaze turned appraising – annoyed, even – and she stopped fiddling with her button. "Then why won't you look at me when you talk?" she demanded to know. She gestured at the plane outside the window, which was now boarding. "Why are you running away?"
At that, Sky did look directly at her, and he couldn't keep the pain and anger out of his voice as he shot back, "What reason do I have to stay? Ever since Nathan and his gang used your mission for their crap game, you've told me in both words and actions that you never want to see me again. And now that I've made good on my marker – most of us gamblers do have a sense of honor, even if it doesn't exactly match your high-flying notions of the word – I no longer owe you a single thing."
Regret softening her eagle-eyed glare, Sarah took a step closer to him. "I owe you an apology. You're a good man, Obadiah Masterson. It was wrong of me to simply assume that you had something to do with the game in the mission, even if you did make a bet with Mr. Detroit about taking me to Havana. I should have had the decency to at least hear you out, before rushing to judgment."
Fighting the urge to reach out and pull her into his arms – she was so close he could feel her breath tickling his face – he said in a low voice that was almost a growl, "Why did you come after me, Sarah? Even if I didn't have anything to do with setting up the game in the mission, I'm not the breakfast-eating, Brooks Brothers, Scarsdale Galahad you've always dreamed of. No matter how much you make it your personal mission to reform me, I'll never be that."
Sarah vehemently shook her head. "I don't want that, Sky. I haven't wanted that since you first walked through the door of the Save-a-Soul mission." She took yet another step closer. "I want you. I want you, just as you are."
Sky closed his eyes and sighed. Lady Luck was a cruel mistress, dangling everything he wanted right in front of his nose while knowing he wasn't in any kind of position to take it. "It's easy for you to say that now. But in a month, six months, a year – when the novelty of love has worn off?" He forced himself to open his eyes and look at the woman he couldn't help loving, somehow managing not to lean into those dangerously parted lips that were too damn close to his. "Even if I tear up my poker deck and find more a more respectable line of work, I'm a gambler at heart." He couldn't help himself – he raised his hand to cup her cheek. "And you're a mission doll."
She nodded, her slim, white hand creeping up to cover his. "Yes… but what if I told you that the mission doll has just given her word to Lieutenant Brannigan that she wasn't able to identify the gamblers she saw running away from the Save-a-Soul mission last night – the very same gamblers who are now sitting in our prayer meeting at this very moment, courtesy of you making good on your marker?"
Sky had always prided himself on not being surprised by anything that came out of anyone's mouth, but now he goggled openly at Sarah. "You lied to Lieutenant Brannigan?"
She gave him that captivating smile of hers. "I suppose you could say I perjured myself in service to the greater good – just as you bore false witness to Mr. Detroit for similarly noble reasons."
His free hand found her waist and pulled her close as his mouth covered hers. As Sarah leaned into him and kissed him hard, not even caring that they were in public, Sky allowed himself to resume the line of thought he'd tentatively entertained during that heady four a.m. before Nathan Detroit and his floating crap game had ruined everything: Maybe a gambler and a mission doll could make a life together. Not without a great deal of compromise, and not without a few arguments and misunderstandings along the way. But Sarah Brown was well worth the trouble. And what's more, she had demonstrated that he was worth the trouble to her, in return. Marriage would be the greatest gamble he ever took. But they didn't call him Sky Masterson for nothing.
In his exhilaration, he was only dimly conscious of the sudden roar behind him. Sarah's lips smiled against his. "You're missing your plane," she murmured.
Sky's arms tightened possessively around the woman he'd be a damn fool to let get away a second time. If there was a heaven after all, his father was probably looking down at him and letting out a big I-told-you-so laugh. "So I am," he noted with great satisfaction, before his mouth met hers again.
Another A/N – Fans of the Broadway show may quibble with Sarah telling Sky that she wanted him "just as he is," as this contradicts her attitude espoused in "Marry the Man Today." But I purposely decided to make this a moment of character growth for her in order to align with the theme of the movie, where the humorous but darkly cynical song was replaced with a more heartfelt scene where Sky urges Adelaide to accept Nathan Detroit for who he is, and not try to remake him into the "normal people" he'll never be. There will be a second chapter coming soon, this time from Sarah's perspective.