She found the small slip of card tucked neatly underneath the corner of her laptop. She would have missed it completely if she hadn’t had to go back into her office to snag her glasses when she accidentally left them behind in her hurry to get out to the scene of a police brutality complaint in a timely fashion.
She pulled it free from the laptop and glanced at it, her eyebrows knitted in the smallest of frowns. Scrawled across the front in handwriting she didn’t recognise was her name; not her rank or even her last name, just ‘Sharon’. She flipped it open and tilted her head to the side in confusion at the three words that were scribbled inside.
‘Desk. Bottom drawer.’
She stared at it for a few moments before turning the card over again in her hands, checking each side for a signature. She didn’t find one. She chewed thoughtfully on her lower lip, dropped the card back onto her desk and sat gracefully in the chair behind her desk. She swivelled the chair slightly and bent down to open the desk drawer cautiously; unsure whether to be worried that somebody had been inside her office and looked through her drawers without her, or anyone else for that matter, noticing.
Her fears flew from her mind when the drawer slid all the way open and her frown was replaced by a look of wonder as she took in what had been placed on top of the files that inhabited that particular drawer.
She reached into the drawer and pulled out the carefully folded white rose. A tiny giggle bubbled in her chest as she twirled it round by its stem. Someone had made her an origami rose.
Her eyes caught the piece of coloured thread that had been tied around the top of the rose’s stem and followed it down to where the other end was attached to another piece of card. Catching it between her fingertips she flipped it open and was unable to stop the smile that forced it’s way across her lips as she read it’s contents.
‘This rose may not be red, but Happy Valentines Day’
Sharon sighed and dropped her glasses onto the file that was spread haphazardly across her desk. She ran her fingers through her thick hair and gently massaged the back of her neck in an attempt to rid her muscles of the tension that had accumulated throughout the course of the day.
She had sent the rest of her team home early, not wanting for some simple paperwork to get in the way of their Valentines day plans, if they had any. They had seemed surprised as she shooed them out of the FID offices but had scurried off down the hall without so much as a backward glance, most likely in case she changed her mind. She exhaled heavily; now that she thought about it, she had been harder on them, had expected more of her team since the Ally Moore incident.
She cast a dark glance at the report in front of her and silently wished the words would stop blurring in and out of focus on the page. Pressing herself into the back of her chair she rubbed at her tired eyes with a little more force than was necessary. She wanted nothing more than to crawl into bed with a glass of wine, a tub of ice cream and a good book.
A light tap on her office door yanked her from her daydream. Standing warily in the doorway was a young woman who Sharon vaguely recognised as Cheryl, one of the secretaries at the front desk of the precinct. Sharon beckoned her in with a tired smile and waited patiently for the woman to speak.
“This was left at the front desk for you, Captain.” Cheryl extended her hand as she spoke, holding out a small cardboard box. Sharon stood and relieved her of the box and inspected the white sticker on the top. The handwriting was familiar to her, but she didn’t know how.
“Did you see who left this?” she asked without taking her eyes off the sticker.
“No ma’am, it was there when I started my shift.” She could hear a hint interest in Cheryl’s voice, and looked up to see her eyeing the box curiously.
“Thank you, Cheryl.” She replied politely but making sure that the dismissal was crystal clear. Cheryl’s eyes snapped upwards and caught Sharon’s, her pale cheeks colouring lightly before she nodded and left the office, leaving the door ajar behind her.
Sharon reached into the top drawer of her desk and retrieved a pair of scissors to slice through the tape that was holding the cardboard box securely closed. As she did so, her eyes caught the white paper rose that had been left for her the year before and that she had kept safely in the drawer ever since. She felt butterflies dance in her stomach as she admired it; that was how she recognised the handwriting on the box’s label.
With a new sense of excitement controlling her actions, Sharon tore open the box and smiled at the contents. She instantly recognised the expensive brand of the box of violet cream chocolates that was nestled in the bottom of the box. They were sitting on top off something, she noticed, so she lifted them out and set the chocolates on her desk. The slip of card underneath had her smiling again, as it had the previous year.
“I tried to get these for you in blue, but the man behind the counter thought I was joking.”
Sharon had to work hard to keep herself from releasing the colourful expletives that were sitting on the edge of her tongue as she listened carefully to the district attorney on the other end of the phone. The condescending tone that the other woman was using had Sharon clenching her teeth, and she briefly felt a new modicum of respect for Brenda Leigh Johnson, for whom Sharon had regularly used a similar manner of speaking.
Sharon had been trying to convince the other woman that they had enough evidence to prosecute their current case for the past hour, without making much headway; in face she was fairly sure they had gotten to the point where their arguments were now exhausted and going in circles. Mercifully it seemed that disembodied voice on the other end of the line felt the same way.
Slipping the phone back into its cradle, she rolled her neck to work out the kinks and stifled a yawn. Coffee. That’s what she needed. She made her way down the hall at a leisurely pace, her mind completely focussed on its goal; so much so that she failed to notice the collision course she was on.
She felt her breath leave her lungs as hit the obstacle, closely followed by the feeling of hands placing themselves on her shoulder and hip to steady her when she lost her footing.
“I’m sorry, Lieutenant,” she began, flushing lightly at her uncharacteristic clumsiness.
Flynn grinned at her and slowly took a small step away from her, only remembering to remove his hands from their positions at the last minute, “Not a problem.” He replied vaguely, giving her another quick smile before slipping past her and moving in the direction she had just come from.
Sharon watched him leave, her eyebrow raised in mild surprise. After years of working in Internal Affairs, she was not used to other officers treating with her with any level of respect or cordiality. Shaking it off, she continued to the breakroom, where she found a recently brewed pot of coffee.
It didn’t take her long to secure a cup of the hot drink and get back to her office. It also didn’t take her long to spot that something had changed since she had left it. Since Chief Johnson’s departure, her promotion to head of the Major Crimes division had meant that she had also inherited Brenda’s office, and she still thought of it as just that; Brenda’s office. She had yet to decorate the office with anything other than the two picture frames she had kept on the corner of her old desk, so a third frame was easy enough to notice.
Setting her coffee down on the desk, she leaned across and snagged the new addition. The frame was made of an intricate design of polished brass swirls and knots, but it was the picture it held that captured her attention. A candle-lit dinner.
She was startled by someone clearing their throat behind her. She glanced over her shoulder to see Flynn lounging against the doorframe, watching her with a small smile on his face.
“Well? How about it?”
Flynn frowned when he heard the front door of his apartment slam closed. He glanced quickly at the clock on the table beside his bed; 5pm. His raised an eyebrow. Sharon wasn’t meant to finish work for another couple of hours, and even then she was supposed to be meeting him at her house.
He threw the clean shirt he was holding onto his bed and headed towards the telltale sounds of shoes being dropped onto the wooden floor. He’d come to learn that that in and of itself was a warning sign; Sharon may be much more relaxed than anybody really knew away from the pressures of the LAPD, but if there was one thing that never changed about her was her need for order.
He found the sitting-room empty apart from the small pile of heels just inside the apartment doorway. He shook his head lightly and went to move them to a slightly safer location. It didn’t take him long to locate the next discarded piece of clothing; her cream tweed jacket was hanging precariously off the corner of his sofa. He picked it up and arranged it more neatly across the cushions.
On his way towards the kitchen he found the jacket’s matching skirt pooled on the floor. He felt his frown return, his thoughts of Sharon having a rough day now all but confirmed. He bent swiftly and scooped the skirt up off the floor and continued his way through the apartment, following and collecting the trail of abandoned clothes as he went.
He followed the breadcrumbs all the way to the bathroom, where he found Sharon perched on the edge of the bathtub wearing only a deep blue lace bra and matching panties as she waited for it to fill. He deposited his armload of clothes into the laundry basket and sat beside her on the cold porcelain. She automatically leaned into his side and rested her head against his shoulder.
He reached up and swept a stray lock of hair away from her face, “Rough day?” he asked. His answer came in the form of a soft hum of agreement from her.
“I don’t know how Brenda did this for seven years,” she murmured absently, “sometimes it’s harder than when I was in IA.” He turned his face towards her and pressed a quick kiss to her temple before leaning back and turning off the taps.
Sharon took the hint and stood. She slipped out of her underwear and stepped carefully into the bath, releasing a content sigh when the hot water met her tired muscles. Flynn let himself watch her for a moment as she relaxed, her eyes drifting closed.
“I have something set up for tonight at your place.” He said, a smile tugging at the corner of his lips.
“I’m sure you do,” Sharon laughed huskily and sank lower into the water, “I just want to relax a little first.”
Flynn felt his smile widen and was momentarily glad that her eyes were still closed, “I might have something to help with that.” He replied nonchalantly. Pushing himself off the edge of the bath he wandered into his bedroom and rummaged through his dresser drawers until he found the envelope he had hidden there a couple of months before. When he got back to the bathroom, Sharon was resting her head on the edge, watching him with curious green eyes.
He handed her the envelope and went to lean against the sink. She gave him a look that told him she knew that he was up to something and pulled it open. She pulled out the brochure that he had hidden, a smirk on her face.
“A weekend away?” she asked as she flipped through it. The smirk turned into a full-blown smile and he knew that she’d found the picture of the cabin that he’d circled in red marker.
“I pulled some strings,” he said vaguely, walking over and brushing a kiss across her lips, “Happy Valentines day.”
Flynn was anxious to get home. He’d spent nearly a month planning what he wanted to do for Sharon for this Valentines Day. Sharon had been asking him for days what he had been so secretive about, like a kid at Christmas begging their parents to tell them what their presents were. Out of desperation to keeps his plans safe, he had hidden the picnic basket and food that he had bought at Provenza’s apartment, clearly marking the food with post-it notes that contained threats of torture and death if anything went missing.
Glancing surreptitiously over his shoulder at the office, he could see Sharon sat at her desk, her head bent over the file she was reading. He hoped that it wouldn’t be so important that she had to stay later than she had promised. That morning, he had made Sharon swear that she would be home by 5pm at the latest, even if the rest of the team still had work to do, their latest case was closed so any remaining tasks could be delegated to the members of the team who didn’t have plans, namely Provenza and Sanchez.
He smiled as he thought about his plans again. It hadn’t taken him long to persuade his friend Jonathon to allow him to use the private section of beach that ran along that back of John’s property. She had told him once how much she loved the beach, especially at night. He couldn’t wait to see Sharon’s face when she saw the wooden deck at the back of the house lit with fairly lights and candles.
Flynn checked the watch on his wrist and smiled; it was almost 5pm. He heard the office door open behind him, closely followed by the familiar rustling of her trench coat as she slid into it. He bit back a smile as she walked back his desk to where Provenza was standing; she was leaving earlier than planned. He didn’t need to hear the conversation to know that she was leaving him instructions for while she was gone.
He was slightly surprised when she caught his gaze and smirked before leaving the murder room. She had taken to being more professional than normal when they were at work, rarely smiling fully at him, doing everything she could to alleviate any claims of favouritism towards him by the rest of the squad; instead she saved it for when they were away from the prying eyes of her superiors who had been keeping close tabs on her performance since she had taken over the role as head of Major Crimes.
Flynn sighed heavily and went back to writing his report; the quicker he finished it, the quicker he could leave and take Sharon to the beach.
“What’re you huffing for?” Provenza asked from the other side of the room.
Flynn looked up in surprise; he hadn’t been that loud, had he? “Nothing,” he replied vaguely, even though he knew that his old friend wasn’t going to believe him.
As he expected, he heard Provenza snort, “Bullshit,” he wasn’t expecting the older man to stride over and whip the report off his desk. “Get going, you can do this in the morning.”
Flynn knew he should at least protest, but Provenza was already giving him the ‘don’t make me make this an order’ glare. He nodded half-heartedly and collected his jacket from the back of his chair before making his way towards the exit, barely stopping long enough in his badly contained excitement to wave a hand at Provenza.
The parking garage was dark and his footsteps echoed wildly as he walked to his car, mentally calculating how long it would take him to get to Provenza’s apartment to collect to supplies and comparing it to how long it would take Sharon to get home and change.
As he went to throw his jacket onto the passenger seat, he was surprised to see a white envelope already there. He picked it up and went to get in the drivers seat, where he flicked on the overhead light and examined the envelope. He was sure he hadn’t left it there that morning, and the car had been locked.
It wasn’t until he saw the neat, flowing script on the front that his worries faded; he’d recognise that hand anywhere.
“I thought it was my turn to surprise you this year”
Flynn ripped open the envelope and was sure he had a minor stroke when he pulled out the contents; a shiny photograph of a deep red corset with matching panties and heels, that he thought would be impossible to walk in, laid out on his bed.
Suddenly his plans paled in comparison.