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your beating heart turned to ash

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When she first comes to Los Angeles, she thinks there are too many secrets there for her to ever be at home. There’s the banal secrets, the ones that the natives know and she will learn eventually. They deal with traffic, with place names - basic history. They will come to her with experience and conversations and little effort. Those aren’t the ones that bother her.

Don’t call it Seh-pul-vayda Boulevard. No one likes that. Remember that whatever you call it, it’s always faster than the freeway.

What bothers her are the secret stories embedded in the bones of the city. The stories of movie producers and starlets, of gangs and guns and backroom deals, bodies strewn around the Hollywood sign and more. Those are the secrets that make Los Angeles come alive, turn a city of steel and concrete into a living, breathing seductress that promises a life of glory - if you want to pay the price, and live with the secrets.

Northern California? Orange County? No, they belong to different states.

But Brenda’s never been comfortable with secrets, not if they’re someone else’s. She’s been trained to find those secrets, to burrow down into the blackest parts of people’s hearts and reveal what makes them work. Los Angeles has a heart just like any one of her suspects, and one day she will have it laid bare in front of her.

The MacArthur Park station isn’t safe. No, not even if you have a gun at your waist and another in your purse.

She frightens her detectives, sometimes. She sees it in Tao’s widened eyes when she drops a rapist with a single shot between the eyes from fifty feet. Sees it in the bitch-be-crazy looks Provenza and Flynn trade when they think she’s not looking. Sees it in the concerned lines of Daniels’ face every time she hands over a report and her hand lingers on the chief’s just a moment too long.

Don’t look shocked when you find bodies in pieces. Everyone wants to be sensational, even in death, and hangings have gotten old.

She marries for stability, because her parents and her colleagues and Fritz all expect it. Because it’s nice to come home to a house that’s populated by a person instead of a ghost. He is not first in her heart (she belongs to her work first, somewhere along the way she realizes she belongs to the city second) but he is there, and she thinks he understands. When their marriage begins to crumble under his desire for her to get out of the field, her stubbornness, his insistence on children, and finally the Turrell Baylor case, she tells herself at least he’s not cruel to her face like her first husband was. But it’s a lie; his overbearing concern and kindness offered in expectance of her complete devotion in return hurts more. She never learned how to defend herself against that.

City Hall is a lady, but don’t think that makes the mayor a gentleman. He’s got his hands up more skirts than you’ve worn in a lifetime.

After seven years, she thinks she’s starting to understand Los Angeles. Starting to get under its skin. She’s well acquainted with the grime that lies under the flashy skin, the brutality that happens under the neon lights. She’s beginning to recognize the people who care about LA as an image, and those who care about LA. as a city, and those who are just too tired to care at all anymore. As she gets closer to LA’s heart she realizes that not only does she feel at home here, but she’ll fight for this city till her last breath.

Fire cleanses, fire saves. Some idiot on a scaffold dropped a lit match into the paint thinner and Hollywood made a movie out of it. They made the fire the villain.

In the city of angels there are more devils on each street corner than there are stars in the sky, and the people who best understand the darkest thoughts of a deputy police chief are an internal affairs captain and a gang boss. She shivers as Marvin’s hands trace her sides in a way that has very little to do with being gunless in front of a gang boss and everything to do with the knowledge of how easy it would be for their positions to be reversed. (She can’t stop herself from arching into his hands on her breasts, imagining what his throat would feel like under her teeth). As for Sharon, she may be an FID bitch, but she is the only person helping Brenda through the Baylor case because she believes Brenda deserves that help. (She would be soft and venomously sweet under those designer suits and heels, would understand Brenda’s need for control). Marvin is drugs and back alleys, LA’s dark heart. Sharon is rules and spotlights, the bright counterpart. Brenda walks the line between them, looks at the city’s beating heart and wonders which side of the line she’ll end up on, for its sake.

You see those flowers on the street corner? They’re not for a car accident victim. A little black girl got shot there, twice: once by her brother’s gang, once by the cop who thought he was helping.

It’s only after the federal indictment that she realizes: she got it backward. It’s not about what side of the city she’d choose, it’s about what side of her the city’d choose to magnify. She didn’t find LA’s heart, black or otherwise, at all, it found hers instead - all the parts she thought she left behind at the CIA but really were just embedded too deeply within her to ever leave. The city is relentless, it made her a force of nature unlike any other in order to keep her alive and use her. If Brenda saw LA’s heart, well, LA saw Brenda’s, too, and found a twin. The city claimed her, secrets and all, ripped her apart and built her back up again and she helped it as she climbed ever deeper under its surface.