The dead leaves on the ground betrayed his otherwise silent approach. He hadn’t expected to see her here, but he wasn’t surprised. Not today. She was sat on the cold, dry ground, her arms tightly hugging her knees, securing them closely to her body. If she had heard him coming, she didn’t make any outward sign, simply kept her gaze on the stone in front of her and wrapped her black trench coat more firmly around her. He knew he should leave. But he couldn’t.
“Hey, Ronnie.” He spoke softly, not wanting to startle her if she indeed didn’t know he was there. Even though she wasn’t fully facing him, he could see the glazed expression on her face. She looked like she was in her own little world; like a nuclear bomb could drop not five feet from her and she wouldn’t even notice.
He inched ever so slightly closer to her, the rational half of his mind was telling him that he shouldn’t be disturbing her, that he should leave, quickly. The other half, the not so rational part, was screaming at him to do something, to break her out whatever trance she was in and just hold her. It almost looked like that half was going to win, until she acknowledged him. Sort of.
“I thought I told you not call me that.” Only two people in the world had ever called her by that nickname. One was standing just out of her line of sight, the other lay beneath her feet.
He shifted uncomfortably for a second before dropping down to sit beside her, “Yeah well, you know what they say ‘bout old habits.” She gave him a small smirk.
“What are you doing here?” she asked him quietly, her eyes straying to the can of beer in his hand before she quickly returned her vigilant gaze back to the headstone in front of them.
He shrugged slightly, “Same thing I do every year.” He popped open the beer and poured it onto the ground in front of the headstone. She watched him with a sad smile on her face, “I’m sorry, Sharon.”
He heard her sigh gently, obviously catching the drift of his words, but he didn’t look at her, he was too afraid of what he would see. It surprised him when she reached over hesitantly, placing her hand on his sleeve, “It was a long time ago.” She put special emphasis into ‘long’ and tilted her head in his direction, her chestnut hair cascading over her shoulder, “It wasn’t your fault.”
It was his turn to sigh, the softness of her voice made the guilt come flooding back to him. He plucked a toothpick out of his pocket and planted it firmly between his teeth; “I should have been paying attention. I should have known something was off.” He told her, chewing lightly on the stick.
Sharon gently shoved her shoulder against his, making him look at her, “It wasn’t your fault, Andy.” She reiterated firmly.
Flynn bowed his head and rubbed his hand over his eyes, “It doesn’t make it any easier though. Does it?” he knew she understood when he saw her shake her head gently.
“No, it doesn’t.” She watched as he poured the last drops of beer on the ground and crumpled the can with the heel of his shoe, “You didn’t have any did you?”
He turned to look at her again, his face confused, “What?” When Sharon nodded at the flat can on the floor, Flynn’s mouth silently formed an ‘o’ and he shook his head, “No, I haven’t. Although I’m definitely beginning to feel the need for a cranberry and soda.”
He mentally slapped himself when her expression briefly turned stricken before morphing back into the sad smile she had been wearing. Today was not the day to be piling his problems on her; hell no day was that kind of day.
“How are Lyla and Max?” Sharon’s smile warmed at the change of topic, she was always happy to boast about her kids and Andy knew that.
“They’re great. Lyla will be finishing her first year of university soon; she’s been studying Psychology, wants to become a profiler.” Her tone turned wistful for a moment, “It’s gone so fast.” She knew she was risking straying back towards the feelings of sadness and remorse so she quickly moved onto her son, “Max is still Max.”
Andy grinned, knowing exactly what she meant. While Lyla was quiet, artistic and studious, Sharon’s youngest had always been a troublemaker with a firecracker attitude he no doubt inherited from Sharon, “He’s not still taking the neighbourhood cats hostage is he?”
Sharon snorted a laugh and nudged him with her shoulder again, “It was one time!” She said defensively. She could well remember the time a six-year old Max had lured old Mrs Benson’s cat Stanley into their garage when nobody was looking. The poor animal had lived in that garage for two days before Jack had noticed their son sneaking food off his plate at dinnertimes, a stage he had never gone through, and taking it out to the garage under the pretence of getting ice-lollies for dessert.
Flynn had been to the Raydor’s house enough times to watch the games with Jack that he knew their neighbour could be considered a little ‘off’ and Max probably though he was doing the cat a favour. When Jack Raydor had told Flynn about his son’s attempted ‘rescue mission’, he just hadn’t been able to keep it to himself. Sharon had been completely mortified when she had walked into the squad room one day to find Flynn briefing the rest of the team on the ‘victim’ and ‘suspect’. It hadn’t helped in the slightest that Jack had found the entire situation hilarious.
Flynn hauled himself to his feet with a grunt before breaking the silence that had descended upon them, “I need to get going before the Chief or Provenza send out a search party.” He grinned when he saw Sharon roll her eyes at the Chief’s title, it was no secret to the rest of the LAPD that the two of them didn’t exactly see eye to eye.
Sharon nodded and stuck out her hand for him to pull her to her feet, she tried not to notice when he held on for longer than was appropriate, choosing to concentrate on dusting the dirt off her jeans and tugging the trench closer to her.
“Yeah, I need to go and see what kind of trouble Max has got himself into. Hopefully the house will still be standing when I get back.” They laughed together for a short minute and she bent to pick up the neglected crushed beer can, putting it in the pocket of her trench to dispose of later.
“It was good to see you, Ronnie.” That earned him a resigned sigh but she did nothing to correct him. Instead she simply but on a neutral expression and quirked an eyebrow.
“You mean when I’m not trading barbs with your boss or trying to plant my flag on a case?” Flynn smirked and patted her shoulder before turning starting to walk away.
“That’s exactly what I meant.” He called over his shoulder. Without looking back he lifted his hand in a wave and left her to her thoughts.