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.
When Sharon arrived back at her quiet little neighbourhood she was surprised to see that Max’s motorcycle was on the drive. Despite what she had told Andy at the cemetery, she had expected Max to be out with his friends. She pulled into her space alongside the blue Kawasaki Ninja and frowned when she saw the windows of the kitchen were open, it wasn’t a warm day so that could only mean one thing. Max was trying to cook again.
“Oh God.” Sharon muttered to herself and climbed out of the car, making sure it was locked before walking up the short path to the porch and front door. As she passed the kitchen windows she could definitely smell burning. Apparently what she’d told Flynn was right after all. She would have to check the house was still standing.
“Max?” she called once she was inside the house. Hearing the distinct sounds of her son swearing she walked slowly into the kitchen, mentally preparing herself for the worst on the way, “Maxie?” she peeked around the doorframe and smiled when she saw the mop-haired teenager trying to pull something smoking out of the oven without the help of oven-gloves. When he pulled his hand back quickly and swore, Sharon dashed over to him, “Whoa Maxie, stop.”
The teenager straightened and looked down at her sheepishly and stepped back from the oven. Sharon scooped up the pair of oven-gloves that were sitting forgotten on the countertop and waved them at him in ‘these would help’ fashion. Max gave her a Raydor-esque roll of the eyes and took them from her. After succeeding in removing the burnt – whatever it was – Max put it in the sink and frowned at it. Sharon grinned at his adorable expression and turned off the oven.
“Maxie, what were you trying to do?” she asked him, trying to keep her amusement out of her voice because she knew it would hurt his feelings. Max glared at the offending object again and shook his black hair out his eyes.
“Nothin’, I just thought I’d make somethin’ for you before you got home.” Sharon glanced around the kitchen and noticed a couple of broken eggs and a fine dusting of what she presumed was flour across one of the countertops, “It was supposed to be a cake.” Max told her in a small, disappointed voice.
Sharon reached up and wiped a smudge of flour off his cheek, noticing it was in his hair as well, “You didn’t have to do that Maxie,” before he had a chance to interrupt her, she ruffled his hair, “But I appreciate the gesture.”
Max smiled at her and grabbed a cloth to clean up the mess he’d made; Sharon took off her trench and went to hang it in the hall closet. She was just kicking her shoes off when she heard Max call out of the kitchen, “Whippet called, she said she’s gonna come over after her lectures are finished today.”
Sharon smiled at Max’s nickname for his sister and poked her head back into the kitchen in time to see him throw the ‘cake’ in the bin, “Did she say what time?”
Max shook his head and turned the hot water on in the sink, “She just said it’d be later.” Sharon walked up to the sink and grabbed a dry dishtowel while he washed up the mixing bowls and cake tin he had used, handing them to her as he finished them.
“You know what, Maxie, I’ll finish up here, and you go get yourself cleaned up, okay?” Max gave her a surprised look but didn’t argue; he could tell from his mother’s demeanour that she wanted some time to herself and cleaning gave her something to do.
“Okay.” He said hesitantly and gave her a peck on the cheek, “I love you Mama Bear.”
Sharon smiled at him and reached up to brush his hair out of his green eyes, “I love you too Sweetie.”
~*~ ~*~ ~*~
Flynn walked into the murder room and sighed in relief when he found it was empty, or at least mostly empty. Provenza was sat behind his desk snoring lightly, an unfolded newspaper covering his lap.
Going over to his own desk, Flynn draped his coat over the back of his chair and screwed a piece of paper into a ball before throwing it at the dozing man. The ball hit the older man in the face and startled him awake, “Damnit Flynn!” he grumbled when he spotted Flynn chuckling from behind his chair.
“Hello to you too, Provenza.” Flynn replied sarcastically, perching himself on the edge of his desk, “Where is everybody?”
Provenza made another grumbling noise and flicked through his newspaper until he found the puzzles, “The Chief and Gabriel went to give Pope the case report, Tao’s doing something with Buzz in the electronics room, and Sanchez,” he paused and looked around the room, “isn’t here.”
Flynn raised an eyebrow that said ‘you don’t say’ and pulled an open bag of peanuts out of his desk drawer and began nibbling.
“Hey where’d you get off to, Flynn?” Provenza asked, curious as to what was so important that his partner had vanished during their lunch break.
“Had an errand to run.” He said gruffly, hoping that Provenza would pick up on the note of finality in his voice. Not that he would have had a chance to speak again because at that moment Hurricane Johnson blew into the room, shortly followed by Gabriel.
“Lieutenant Provenza,” she stopped when she saw Flynn, “Lieutenant Flynn, there you are, where were you?” the blonde placed both her hands on her hips to punctuate her question.
Flynn inwardly groaned, knowing the Chief wouldn’t be as satisfied with his answer as Provenza was, but it was worth a shot, “I’m sorry, Chief, I had an errand.”
Brenda frowned and removed her hands from her hips to cross her arms across her chest, “What kind of an errand, Lieutenant?” she asked him, her southern lilt cutting across the room.
Flynn scratched the back of his head and stood up from his seat on the edge of his desk, “I had to visit the cemetery, Chief.” He watched as Brenda’s face softened and she let her rigid stance relax.
Provenza blew out an “Ohhh” and buried himself in his paper again.
“‘Oh’ what, Lieutenant?” Brenda asked; her natural curiosity now peaked.
Flynn glared at Provenza and shook his head, “Nothing, Chief. I’m going for coffee.” Flynn eased himself around Brenda, who was still stood in the murder room doorway, and stalked off down the corridor towards the break-room.
Brenda furrowed her eyebrow in confusion and glanced at Provenza who was now concentrating on a crossword, a pencil hanging between his teeth, “Lieutenant Provenza,” Provenza grunted in response, his eyes never leaving his paper, “May I have a moment?”
This caught Provenza’s attention and he shot a surprised look at the Chief, “Of course, Chief.” He said while hauling himself out of his chair, dropping the paper to his desk and tucking his pencil back into his pocket.
Brenda led the older man to her office and closed the blinds slowly. Provenza knew this wasn’t a good sign so he closed the office door, dropped into the visitor’s chair in front of her desk and waited for the interrogation to begin.
Provenza watch Brenda pace a small circle before sighing deeply and going to sit in her own chair, folding her hands together on the desk, “Is everything okay, Lieutenant?” she asked gently.
“Everything’s fine Chief.” Provenza replied quickly and scratched his ear.
“I mean with Lieutenant Flynn.”
Provenza glanced quickly to the door as if he expected Flynn to walk through at that moment before answering her question, “Eleven years ago, Flynn was part of the Narco unit.” Brenda nodded, remembering reading it in Flynn’s personnel packet not long after she arrived, “He and his partner were sent to this abandoned warehouse after they got a tip it was being used as a cookhouse.” He paused and looked back at the door again.
“And what happened?” Brenda asked, not sure she wanted to know the answer.
Provenza sighed and sat forward in his seat, placing his elbows on his knees, “As far as we could figure, some addicts got the jump on ‘em and landed them both in the hospital,” Provenza stood and started pacing around the office, “Jack was shot.” He finished with another sigh.
Brenda stayed quiet for a moment and looked at the floor before speaking, “He didn’t make it.” Not a question, a statement.
Provenza made a grumbling noise and shook his head; “Jack spent a week in a coma before he died. Today’s the anniversary.”
Brenda reached into the top drawer of her desk and pulled out the first thing her hand came in contact with, “Oh my Lord.” She said, breaking off a chunk of the chocolate bar and slipping it into her mouth and letting it melt.
“One more thing Chief-” Provenza started before he was interrupted by Brenda’s phone ringing. Brenda huffed and grabbed the phone, quickly swallowing what was left of the chocolate in her mouth.
“Chief Johnson.” She answered, her eyebrows knitting together in a tight frown as she listened, “Oh, for heaven’s sake. We’ll be right there.” She hung up the phone and slung her bag onto her shoulder before grabbing her coat and storming out of her office, Provenza in tow.
~*~ ~*~ ~*~
“Mum!” Max yelled up the stairs, “Your phone’s ringing!” Hearing his mother tell him to answer it for her, he picked up the phone and asked the person on the other end to wait.
Sharon all but ran down the stairs and took the phone from Max’s outstretched hand, smiling at him in thanks, “Raydor.”
Max watched his mother’s demeanour quickly change from relaxed to tense and annoyed as she listened intently, “You’ve gotta be kidding?” She asked, the exasperation clear in her voice, “Okay, I’ll be there soon.” She hung up the phone and gave a frustrated groan.
Max went to the hall closet and pulled out her coat for her while she slipped her trainers on. She gave him an apologetic smile as he helped her put the trench on, “I’ll tell Whippet you’ll be late back.”
Sharon smiled at him and stood on her tiptoes to give him a peck on the cheek, “I hope not.” Max grinned at her and opened the door for her, watching as she climbed into her car and waved at him as she backed out of the drive.
It was going to be a long day.
To say Sharon was annoyed was an understatement. Not for the first time that day she asked herself why the officers couldn’t keep their guns in their holsters. Sharon snorted a miniature laugh, which immediately turned into a suppressed groan as she recognised a certain southern drawl drifting from behind the ambulance parked in the street.
“Sergeant Gabriel, could you be sure to get that young man’s statement when he comes out of surgery please?” Sharon rounded the ambulance in time to see the young Sergeant nod at his superior, “Thank you so much.”
Clearing her throat delicately, Sharon propped one hand on her hip and waited for the Chief to turn, she could almost hear her eyes rolling. Gabriel gave her a polite nod and headed off to his car, having the good sense to leave before he got caught in the middle of the next Johnson/Raydor standoff.
Brenda forced herself to breathe and pasted on her best (fake) smile before turning on her heel to receive an equally tense smile from Sharon, “Cap’n Raydor, how nice to see you again.”
“Likewise.” Sharon pushed her glasses further up her nose, “Chief.” She added as an afterthought. She watched as Brenda took in her appearance, noting the disapproving look on her face and the slight arch of her eyebrow. Sharon made a mental note to change her clothes once she got to her office, turning up at a crime scene in a pair of jeans, trainers and an old LAPD t-shirt was not something she would consider professional.
Brenda eyed her again, “Cap’n Raydor what-” she cut herself off at the Raydor’s annoyed expression.
“It’s my day off, Chief. I got the call-out and didn’t have time to change.” Brenda frowned at the uncaring monotone of Sharon’s voice.
“Then why are you here, Cap’n?” She challenged, shifting her stance and folding her arms stubbornly across her chest.
Sharon smirked at the act of territoriality and peered down over the edge of her glasses, “I could ask you the same thing, Chief. Since when is a B&E something to be investigated by Major Crimes? Especially when the suspect was shot by one of the responding officers, forgive me if I’m wrong, but that automatically makes it an FID case.”
Sharon sensed somebody step up close behind her and stiffened when she felt fingers lightly touch her back, “Since the girl he attacked died five minutes ago at the hospital.” Sharon relaxed slightly at the familiar New York accent and turned to face Flynn. She noted he had reverted back to the appearance of nonchalance he normally adopted when she was in the vicinity.
Folding her arms across her chest she spoke directly to Flynn, “Perhaps you could fill me in, Lieutenant.” She said, effectively blocking out Brenda.
Flynn reached into his coat pocket and pulled out a small notepad, he flicked through the pages until he found the information he was looking for and glanced over at Brenda, who nodded her approval, “Dispatch got a call from the neighbour about a possible breaking and entering, officers Jonathan Grady and Denny Vargo arrived within seven minutes,” Flynn gestured to two officers standing with Provenza and Taylor near the garage of the small house, “Vargo reported hearing screams and without time to wait for backup circled to the back of the house, Grady entered through the front.”
Sharon looked at the front door of the house and noticed the frame was damaged, “Officer Grady kicked the door in?”
Flynn nodded and exhaled heavily, “Grady reports the suspect came at him with a gun, he shot him once in the shoulder, once in the abdomen, he’s in surgery now but we don’t have an ID on him yet.” He paused long enough for Sharon to get the impression that he didn’t believe Grady’s statement.
She turned to Brenda who had not made a sound the entire time, “Chief, did any of your team happen to find the gun?”
Brenda narrowed her eyes and ran a hand through her hair, “Not yet, Cap’n Raydor, but I’m sure it’ll turn up soon.” With that Brenda sauntered over to talk the rest of her team.
Sharon had another thought and turned back to Flynn, “Andy, what about the girl?” she asked him before he had a chance to follow his chief.
Flynn sighed again and rubbed a hand over his eyes, “Jennifer Masters, 28 years old. Vargo found her in the kitchen. Looks like the guy beat her to a pulp.”
Sharon bowed her head and lightly bit her bottom lip, “So basically,” she started and looked over at the officers with Provenza and Taylor, “we want this to be a justified shooting for Grady.” She finished slowly.
Flynn chuckled and grinned at her when a confused expression crossed her features, “What?” she asked him, moving her hands back down to her hips.
“You might wanna be careful how loud you say things like that, Sharon.” Her expression didn’t change so he continued, “People might actually start to think you’re human.”
Sharon laughed and kicked at the pavement lightly, “I’m the Wicked Witch remember.” She told him, a mischievous twinkle in her eyes.
Flynn stepped a little closer and lowered his voice, “I know that’s not true.” Sharon scoffed and shot him a look, “Okay, mostly not true.” He amended, shrugging his shoulders and putting his hands in his trouser pockets.
“Andy, would you mind taking another look for that gun please?” Flynn frowned but nodded and went towards the house, grabbing Sanchez on the way to help him look.
Sharon watched him walk into the house before she made her way over to officers Grady and Vargo. Provenza shot a glare her way as Taylor stepped up to her to stop her approach, “Captain Raydor.” He said with sickening cheerfulness, Sharon nodded in acknowledgement but otherwise said nothing, “These officer’s statements have already be taken and I would be happy to forward you a copy if you’d like.”
“I’d appreciate that, Commander, but I’d still like to talk with Officer Grady.” Grady, a tall dark-haired man with steel-grey, bloodshot eyes and a face comparable to that of a bulldog eyed Sharon warily.
“Of course Captain.” Taylor said and turned to look at Vargo, “Officer Vargo, why don’t we give these two some space?” Vargo nodded and punched Grady lightly on the shoulder before moving to stand beside his patrol car with Taylor.
Sharon went a little closer to Grady, “Okay officer, why don’t you run through what happened for me?” As he talked, Sharon noticed his eyes were glazed and distant, something Sharon had seen plenty of when Flynn would turn up at her house with Jack after a drinking stint.
Hearing somebody clear their throat to get her attention, Sharon looked over her shoulder to see Flynn gesturing for her to go with him, Sharon followed him just out earshot. Flynn bent a little closer and lowered his voice to make sure they wouldn’t be heard, “No sign of a gun anywhere, not in the hall, kitchen, under the sofas you name it, it’s not there.”
Sharon nodded slowly and glanced behind her to watch Grady, “Lieutenant could you do me a favour please?” seeing Flynn nod she went on, “Could you go to Grady and Vargo’s patrol car and see if you can find their breathalyser for me please?”
Flynn shifted uncomfortably, “You think he’s drunk?”
“Maybe not drunk but definitely half cut.” She said quietly.
“Yeah sure, be right back.” While Flynn went to dig up the breathalyser, Sharon studied Grady, watching as he blinked excessively and chewed on a fingernail, “Here.” Sharon jumped when Flynn spoke, not having heard him coming up behind her.
Sharon looked down to see he held a breathalyser in his hand, “Great.” She gave him a tense smile and led the way back over to Grady. His eyes hardened when he saw the tester and he glared down at Sharon.
“You ain’t testin’ me without a warrant.” He said immediately, gesturing to the breathalyser in Flynn’s hand.
Flynn matched his glare and stepped well into his personal space, “Oh yeah?” Grady’s jaw was set and his shoulders tensed, “You’ll do the damn test or I’ll attach a note for insubordination onto your file and then make you do the test, got it?” Grady deflated slightly and moved back a step, without taking his eyes off either of them, he grabbed the test and blew into the tube.
Sharon gently prised the breathalyser from Grady’s hand and looked at the results, “0.07 Grady.”
Grady’s expression turned smug, “It’s below the legal limit.”
Sharon raised an eyebrow at him, “I’d hate to think what it was an hour ago Grady, when you shot an unarmed man twice.” She let her voice turn cold and watched as confusion swept across Grady’s face.
“Unarmed? He had a gun!” Flynn pulled out his notepad again and jotted down the results of the breathalyser test.
“There was no gun.” He said, “Impaired reasoning and concentration. Sound familiar Grady?” Grady’s eyes widened and he covered his face with his hands and groaned loudly, “Yeah I thought so, come on dumbass.” Flynn grabbed hold of Grady’s uniform sleeve and dragged him over to his car, with Sharon following a few paces behind.
Once Grady was safely bundled into the back of the vehicle, Flynn turned to Sharon and saw the same sad smile on her face as the one she had been wearing in the cemetery earlier, “You know what Sharon, it’s your day off, go home.”
Sharon leaned against the car and shook her head, “Can’t do that Flynn. If you hadn’t noticed, I’m the only one here from FID.” Flynn gave her a look that said ‘so?’ and looked around at the other officers at the scene, “that means I have a report to write. So much for this being a good shooting.”
Andy nodded in agreement and went to the driver’s side of the car, “You can’t clear them all, Sharon.” When Sharon looked over at him he gave her a warm smile, “I’ll see you at Parker Center.” He climbed into his car and gave a Sharon another smile through the window before pulling away.
Flynn marched Grady down to Major Crimes and roughly pushed him into a spare chair by Provenza’s desk, “Wait here.” He told him firmly and went over to his own desk, grabbing the phone and punching in the extension for Chief Pope’s office. After a brief conversation informing him of the situation, Flynn positioned himself on the edge of Provenza’s desk and glared at Grady.
“Why’d you do it?” he knew he shouldn’t be talking to the officer about it at all but he felt the need to ask.
Grady for his part looked confused, scared and angry with himself as he was stared down by the disappointed New Yorker, “Do what?” he replied, not entirely sure whether Flynn was referring to the shooting or not.
Flynn sighed and twisted the AA ring that was displayed proudly on his hand, “Why’d you drink on the job?”
Grady looked at the ground and shrugged his shoulders, unsure of what to say, “I don’t know. Hair of the dog I guess, you know how it is.” He turned his steel-grey eyes to Flynn, silently imploring him to understand. Which was exactly the problem, Flynn understood too well. He could remember many a morning when he had woken up with a hangover that he considered bad enough to down an elephant, only to chase it off with the strongest drink he could get his hands on.
Flynn frowned at the younger officer again, who had returned to staring at the ground, occasionally wringing his hands together, “Yeah I do.” He said, twisting the AA ring again. He closed his eyes and sighed heavily, when he finished work he would have to go to a meeting, this case was reminding him why he joined AA in the first place.
Hearing footsteps, Flynn looked up to see that Chief Pope had arrived, and by the look on his face he wasn’t happy, “Lieutenant Flynn? Shouldn’t he be down at the FID offices?” he asked, pointing at Grady who was doing his best to avoid eye contact with either of his superiors.
Flynn hopped off Provenza’s desk and hauled Grady out of his chair, “Sorry Chief, I’ll take him there now.”
Pope shook his head and gestured to the seat Grady had been sat in, “Don’t bother, I’ll talk to him here.” Flynn nodded and let Grady go back to his former position, “Would you go inform Captain Raydor of her suspect’s whereabouts please?” Grady’s eyes shot up and took a hard edge at Pope’s choice of words but he said nothing.
“Sure thing, Chief.” Andy said as he pulled a toothpick out of his jacket pocket and made his way out of Major Crimes. As he neared the end of the corridor he could hear Pope’s voice was raised, grabbing the attention of other officers milling around in the corridors. Flynn shook his head at their obvious curiosity and slipped into the elevator and punching the button for the floor that held Internal Affairs.
When the elevator finally stopped, Flynn placed his toothpick in his mouth and chewed on it lightly. He stopped and watched a familiar kid no older than nineteen with black hair and a leather jacket who was looking rather lost, “Hey kid! You lost?” he called, noticing the relieved expression that crossed the boy’s face when he turned to look at Andy.
The teenager hoisted his backpack higher onto his shoulder and walked over to Flynn, “Yeah kinda,” the boy grinned sheepishly at him and fingered the strap of the motorcycle helmet in his hand, “I’m lookin’ for Sharon Raydor’s office?”
Flynn knitted his eyebrows together and closer examined the familiar looking teenager; the green eyes and grin was definitely Sharon’s, everything else distinctly Jack’s, “You’re Max, right?”
Max looked slightly surprised but nodded and stuck his hand out for Andy to shake, “Yeah, Max Raydor.”
Flynn gave Max another once over and grinned at him, “God, last time I saw you, you were just a squirt.” Max gave no indication that he recognised Andy so he began to lead the way to the FID offices, “I was just going to see your mother actually.”
Max cautiously followed Flynn through the long corridors of the LAPD until they finally came to a door marked FID. Flynn opened it and gestured for Max to go in ahead of him and closed it behind him. Only one person looked up from their desk to inspect the intruders. Detective Natalie Gordon, a young, vivacious officer with supermodel good looks and long plaited blonde hair, grinned at Max and pointed a thumb over her shoulder to where Sharon was listening to her other two officers, Detective Joe Francis and Sergeant Peter Elliot, talk animatedly. Flynn gave him a gentle nudge in her general direction, earning Natalie’s attention and a fiery glare, it wasn’t often Major Crimes strayed into enemy territory.
“Hey Sharon, I think I found something that belongs to you.” Flynn called to her across the room. Sharon twirled around on her designer heel, her annoyed expression immediately lifting as she recognised her son.
“Hey, what have you done now? Actually, don’t answer that, I don’t think I want to know.” She smirked at Max, “Why don’t you go wait in my office, I won’t be a minute.” She pointed to the room in the corner and turned back to her officers. Flynn shrugged and sauntered over to her office, Max trailing behind.
Flynn couldn’t remember the last time he had been in Sharon’s office, probably not since she had first transferred out of Robbery/Homicide, but it still looked the same; a conservative wooden desk sat in front of the window, two comfy visitors chairs sat in front of it, a series of metal file cabinets stood on either side of the door. Like Brenda’s office, one wall was made of glass so she could see through into the squad room which left the remaining wall to be dominated by a painting Flynn absentmindedly recognised as somewhere in Vermont.
The desk was neat and uncluttered, not that he’d expected anything less from Sharon Raydor, proudly displaying three photos; the FID team dressed as Elves at last years LAPD Christmas party showing Sharon laughing and being sandwiched in a hug by Natalie and Joe while Peter held his drink up in a toast to the cameraman, the second photo was of Sharon and Lyla before Lyla’s prom, all smiles and sparkles with perfectly curled hair and an elegant dark-emerald green dress.
Flynn sighed gently when he saw the last photo. He could remember the day he had taken it thirteen years before. Jack had invited him to a Dodgers game with him, Sharon and the kids, after the game at finished they had all gone to a local park in their Dodgers jackets and caps where he and Jack began teaching a six year old Max how to play baseball while Sharon and eight year old Lyla fielded the ball.
After a good hour playing ball they had all stopped off at a vendor for ice-cream, Lyla and Max immediately getting it all over their hands and faces. Jack had pulled Max up onto his shoulders, only to get the remainder of Max’s cone smeared all over his face, setting the other four off into a series of giggles. Flynn had pulled out his camera and herded the four of them together to capture the moment, Max grinning on his father’s shoulders, Jack covered in ice-cream with his arm wrapped tightly around a laughing Sharon’s waist with Lyla lying in a heap at their feet sticking her tongue out at Flynn.
Flynn hadn’t heard Sharon enter her office and jumped slightly when she spoke, “That was a good day.” She said, picking up the family photo and smiling at it. Flynn nodded and moved out of the way so she could put it back where it belonged, “What’s up Maxie?” she asked, turning to her soon who was stood quietly in the corner.
“I tried calling you but you didn’t pick up, and since I was on my way to Mike’s I thought I’d drop in instead.”
Sharon smiled apologetically at him, “Sorry honey, I think I left my phone in the car. You’re going to Mike’s? I thought Lyla was coming over?” she said, confusion colouring her voice.
“Yeah that’s why I was calling. Whippet called again and said she was finishing late, I told her you’d gotten a call-out so she said she’d come over tomorrow instead.” He furrowed his eyebrows, “That okay?”
“Of course, you have fun at Mike’s okay?” Max nodded and stepped forward to kiss his mother on the cheek, “and don’t be back too late.” She smiled when he gave her one of her eye-rolls and mock saluted her.
“Yes Ma’am. I’ll see you later.” He turned to leave and got halfway through the squad room before she realised he was missing something.
“Maxie!” she yelled after him, he stopped and turned to face her, catching the motorcycle helmet when she threw it to him, “You’ll be needing that. Ride safe.”
“Always.” He grinned at her and tapped the helmet, low-fiving Natalie and fist-bumping Joe on the way out.
Sharon looked at Flynn questioningly when he chuckled, “Would you look at that? The menace grew up.” Sharon snorted and perched on the edge of her desk.
“What’s up, Andy?” she asked him as he dropped into one of her visitors’ chairs.
“Nothin’ much. Pope asked me to tell you that he’s talkin’ to Grady up at Major Crimes.” Sharon muttered something with sounded oddly like ‘great’ and ran a hand through her hair.
“I suppose he can stay there for now. I can’t finish my report until the guy he shot gets out of surgery. That’s assuming he even wakes up.” She grabbed a pencil of her desk and flicked it between her fingers.
Andy watched her for a moment, feeling the agitation rolling off her in waves, “Tell you what, why don’t we go for a drink later, talk about this whole Grady thing.” Sharon sceptically arched an eyebrow at him, “I’m serious, you need to relax before you take my eye out with that thing.” He said pointing at the pencil.
Sharon huffed and dropped it back onto her desk and began tapping her hands on her thighs. She looked uncertain to him so he turned on the charming smile and gave her his best pleading look, knowing that she would give in. And he was right.
Sharon made a frustrated sound and slapped her hands down onto her legs, “Okay fine, one drink, and you don’t tell Miss Atlanta or Provenza, got it?” he looked at her with an expression of complete puzzlement and she smiled wryly at him, “Wouldn’t want them to think you’re fraternising with the enemy now, would we?” Flynn popped his toothpick back in his mouth and smirked. Fraternising with the enemy; he liked that idea.
The pub was a dark, slightly dingy establishment that, luckily for Flynn and Raydor, wasn’t frequented by other members of the LAPD. Flynn remembered the days when he and Jack were a couple of the regular punters at this particular bar, occasionally getting free drinks from the previous owners, Frank and Joan, an older British couple who left the pub to their son Marcus when they died in a car accident five-years previously.
The relaxed, quiet atmosphere of room made Sharon believe that most of the clientele were regulars, set in their routines of work, drink, relax before starting over the next day. Flynn navigated his way over to the bar and leant against it, smiling as Sharon took in their surroundings, from the Union Jack flags hanging on the walls to the patterned carpets and striped chairs, Sharon felt like she had left Los Angeles altogether.
Joining Flynn, she hopped gracefully onto one of the stools lining the bar and held her head up on her hand watching him as he leant over and called to the man serving another customer further down. The man glanced over quickly, doing a double take and allowing a large grin to spread across his face before he wiped his hands on a towel and sauntered over with a cocky swagger.
“Well well well, looky what the cat dragged in.” Flynn chuckled and held his hand out for the man to shake, “Been a long time Flynn, I was starting t’ think ya didn’t like me no-more.” He said with an American-tinted English accent.
Flynn shook his head and dropped onto another of the stools, “Yeah well, you know how it is, catching the bad guys.” The barman grinned again and slid a bowl of peanuts over to Flynn, who took a handful and starting crunching, “How you doin’, Marcus?”
Marcus shrugged his stocky shoulders and ran a hand over his dirty blonde beard, “Ya know, same old same old.” He spotted Sharon quietly watching them and smoothed down his faded Rolling Stones t-shirt, “Ya not gonna introduce me to ya friend?”
Sharon laughed at the expression on Flynn’s face, unsure of whether his look of surprise was because she had been called his friend or because he had completely forgotten she was there in the first place. He shifted uncomfortably in his seat and looked at Sharon, “Sharon, Marcus Thompson,” he gestured to Marcus, “Marcus, Sharon Raydor.”
Marcus’s eyebrows shot into his hairline in surprise and Flynn saw a quick measure of grief and sympathy wash over his face as he nodded and grabbed a clean towel to wipe down the bar, “What can I get ya Flynn? The usual?”
Flynn let out a long drawn-out “nooo” and grabbed another handful of peanuts out of the bowl, offering it to Sharon who smiled and shook her head to decline, “The usual’s changed a bit since I was last here.” He lifted up his hand to show Marcus his AA ring. Marcus furrowed his eyebrows in confusion but shrugged and looked at Flynn expectantly, he didn’t disappoint, “I’ll take a cranberry and soda.”
Marcus nodded and fixed Sharon with a look, she glanced at Flynn before deciding on what she wanted, “I’ll have the same, please.” Marcus nodded again began to leave when he was stopped by Flynn,
“No no no, you have what you want, Sharon. It doesn’t bother me.” He turned to face Marcus, who looked unsure of what to do, “Get her a beer.” He ordered, remembering that Sharon preferred beer to wine.
Sharon rolled her eyes when Marcus scampered away to fetch their beverages and fixed her glare on Flynn, “Good God Andy, a cranberry and soda would’ve been perfect.” He gave her a look that said he didn’t quite believe her, “I’ve gotta drive anyway.”
Flynn threw a peanut into the air and grinned like a little boy when he caught it in his mouth, “Don’t worry about it, I’ll drive you home.” She opened her mouth to protest but he cut her off, “And besides, I brought you here so you could relax, having a beer or two will help you more than soda.”
Sharon gave a light scoff and grabbed a peanut from his hand, “You of all people should know you can’t solve your problems with alcohol.” She immediately regretted her words when she saw a brief flicker of hurt flash in his brown eyes, “I’m sorry, Andy, that was completely out of line, I didn’t mean that.” She looked at her hands guiltily and concentrated on picking some of the leftover skin off her peanut, “I’m sorry.” She said again quietly.
Andy watched her chipping at the peanut for a few seconds before he leant over and took hold of her hand, Sharon’s jade eyes cast over to him in surprise, “Hey, it’s okay. You’re right, it doesn’t solve your problems, but you know what?” He paused and made sure she was looking at him before he continued, “You’re different than me, Ronnie, you’re wilful, smart and too goddamn stubborn to let yourself get stuck at the bottom of a bottle.” Sharon snorted and threw the peanut at him, “I’m serious, Sharon. I needed a good kick in the ass before I saw any sense.”
Sharon nodded slowly and smiled at Marcus when he carefully placed a chilled bottle of beer in front of her. Picking it up, she held it out towards Flynn, “Cheers.” She said as he tapped his glass against it, smiling at the satisfying sound of the glasses clashing. She took a long sip and let out a deep, contented sigh, “You were right Andy, I did need this.”
Flynn grinned at her and fished a chunk of ice from his glass with his fingers and put it in his mouth, deliberately crunching it loudly when he saw Sharon’s eyebrows narrow disapprovingly, “Okay, spill. What’s got your panties in a bunch?” he asked her as he wiped his fingers on a napkin.
Sharon glared at him and took another sip of her beer, “Any bunches my panties might be in are none of your business, Flynn.” Flynn choked a little on his cranberry and soda before fixing her with a look that said ‘don’t start’ and dipping his hand back into the bowl of peanuts. Sharon sighed and ran her fingers through her hair, “It’s this whole Grady shooting.”
Flynn cocked his head to the side, “That’s all?”
Sharon gave him an incredulous look, “What do you mean that’s all?” she asked him, her voice dangerously low, Flynn shrugged, “I was looking through Grady’s file earlier, it’s not the first time he’s showed up on the clock after a drink, he was given a formal reprimand and made to attend rehab sessions. At best he’s just lost his job,” Flynn stayed silent and waited for her to continue, watching as she took another long swig of her beer, “that or the guy wakes up and Grady gets charged for assault with a deadly weapon and he sues the department, worst case and the guy dies, Grady gets done for manslaughter and the guy’s family sues the department.”
Flynn watched her rapid hand movements and gestured to Marcus for another round of drinks, “Jeez Ronnie, you sure know how to look on the bright side.” He teased as she downed the remainder of her beer.
Sharon shook her head and glared at him again, “Okay Flynn, what exactly is the bright side of this situation?”
Flynn tilted his head to the side and appeared to contemplate a possible answer, eventually he shrugged and took hold of the fresh drink Marcus had bought over, “Can’t think of one right now but when I do, I’ll let you know.”
Sharon snorted, “Don’t strain yourself there Flynn.”
“Ouch” he placed his hand over his heart and feigned hurt.
She smirked at him, “Jackass.”
Sharon laughed and lifted her fresh beer in a salute, “touché”, Flynn chuckled and tapped his glass against her bottle again. They sat in a companionable silence for a while, contemplating the day’s events and occasionally sipping at their drinks. Sharon excused herself to the restroom and returned to find a third beer waiting for her.
She looked warily between the bottle and Flynn before taking a slow sip, “If I didn’t know any better, I’d think you were trying to get me drunk, Lieutenant.” She smirked at him and brushed a stray lock of hair out of her face.
Flynn chuckled and grinned at her, “Would I do such a thing?” he laughed again when she continued to eye him doubtfully, “Besides, it’s from Marcus, not me.” He watched Sharon trail her gaze over his shoulder and smile politely. He turned to see Marcus grinning stupidly at her and he laughed.
“What?” Sharon asked him slowly, not sure whether she wanted him to answer.
“Looks like you’ve found a new victim to drag back to your lair.” He laughed again, flinching when Sharon hit his arm with the back of her hand.
“Shut up, Flynn.” She tried to tell him seriously but her tone told him she was more amused than angry, “Do they say that at PD?”
“Oh yeah,” he took a sip of his drink to stop himself from laughing as her mouth gaped, “Apparently you eat your young too.”
Sharon gave him a sly smile and leant a little closer to him, “Didn’t you hear?” she whispered conspiratorially, “I used to have four kids, I just decided I liked Lyla and Max too much to eat them.”
Flynn laughed loudly drawing the glares of a few of the other patrons, “Wow, Sharon Raydor playing favourites, who’d have thought.” He listened to her laugh musically before she was cut off by a yawn, “Time to get you home I think.”
Sharon gave him a tired smile and nodded before standing to pull on her jacket. When she pulled out her purse to pay for her drinks, Flynn shook his head and pulled out enough money for all of them, “I got this.” He handed the money to Marcus before she could protest.
In his car they enjoyed the silence that shrouded them as he drove her home. When they were a few minutes from her house, Flynn broke the silence, “You know, I don’t think Max recognised me earlier.”
Sharon turned to look at him, noticing the faint look of disappointment she could see on his profile as he concentrated on the roads, “Well it’s been a long time since they saw you.” She heard him sigh and he nodded, “If I remember correctly, your hair actually had colour back then.”
She giggled when he made an indignant noise, “Hey!”
“Okay, tell you what,” She started, Flynn made another noise to show he was listening, “Since my car is still at PD, you can come pick me up tomorrow morning and I’ll make you breakfast as a thank you.”
Flynn mulled over her proposal, “You sure you’re not trying to poison me?”
“It could be worse.” She laughed and Flynn made another noise of agreement.
“Okay you’re on.” He told her as he pulled up outside her house. Sharon warmly at him and unbuckled her seatbelt.
“Great, any preferences?” Flynn scoffed and gave her a look, “Right, you’ll eat anything.” He nodded his approval as she got out of the car, “See you tomorrow Flynn.”
Flynn just gave her a charming smile and waited for her to enter the house before he drove away.
Flynn sat in his car and stared at the house across the street. It was early and he had yet to brave the cold wind that had picked up as he had left his apartment. He saw the blinds in the windows had not yet been opened and shadows filtered through the gaps in the slats as the people inside the house bustled around fulfilling their morning routines.
He ignored the curious gaze of a neighbour he could imagine getting ready to leave for some high paying, but boring corporate job and busied himself by drinking from one of the still steaming coffees he had picked up on the way over. A sharp rap on the window nearly had him spilling his coffee onto a place he’d rather the hot beverage was nowhere in the vicinity of.
Winding down the window he scowled at the offending individual as they dipped their head through the gap and shook shaggy black hair out of green eyes, “Hey, mum wants to know if you’re gonna sit out here all day like some creepy stalker or come inside for somethin’ to eat.”
Flynn cocked an eyebrow and took another sip of his coffee, sighing contentedly as the warm liquid slid down his throat, imagining the potent mixture jump-starting his sleep-addled brain. Rolling the window back up, Flynn crawled out of the car, unprepared for the blast of cold air he was met with he shivered and pulled his coat closer to his body.
Max gave the older man a lopsided grin and watched as he awkwardly stacked the two coffee cups on top of each other and locked the car. When he was done, Max led the way into the house and pointed to a door on the left, “Mum’s in the kitchen.”
Flynn nodded and smiled as Max bounded up the stairs to finish getting ready for his day. Gently pushing open the door, Flynn was immediately greeted by the smell of cooked bacon. For a few seconds he was sure he was in entirely the wrong house. Sharon was stood by the oven, keeping an eye on something sizzling in a frying pan on the top hot plate. Gone was the severe, sharp-suited, straight haired Captain Raydor only to be replaced by a bare-footed woman in a pair of too-big grey shorts and a white tank top with half of her hair pulled back in a sloppy curled ponytail.
The door clicked shut behind him notifying her of his presence, she glanced back at him and gave him an easy smile, “Hey, I was beginning to think you wanted to have a picnic in the middle of the street.”
Flynn chuckled and placed the full cup of coffee he was still carrying on the counter next to her, “I brought you a coffee.” She picked it up and took a long sip, giving a pleasant sigh as the sweet, warm liquid hit her tongue.
“Perfect,” She smiled at the thought that after eleven years he could still remember how she liked her morning coffee, “you know, I have this magical invention, I think it’s called a coffee machine, which does this kind of thing for me.”
Flynn finished off the last dregs of his own coffee and chucked the empty cup into the bin in the corner, “I know. I thought you’d like a cup of Enrique’s finest to go with your breakfast.”
Sharon’s eyes widened in surprise and she took a long look at the coffee in her hand, “You got this from Ricky?” Flynn nodded and leaned against the counter, “I haven’t seen him in a long time. How is the old charmer?”
She scooped the bacon out of the pan and onto a plate, setting it on the counter she swatted Flynn’s hand away as he made a grab for a piece, “He’s still asking after the ‘bonita de ojos verdes mujer’. Personally I can’t think of anyone who fits that description.” He grinned as she raised an eyebrow and slipped a couple of pieces of bread into the toaster before pulling some sausages out of the oven.
“Here, make yourself useful and take these over to the table.” She pushed the bacon and sausages over to him and busied herself by taking another long sip of her coffee before pouring pancake mix into another pan. Flynn did as he was told and watched with interest as she flipped the pancake over in the pan with ease.
“Hey, can you flip pancakes in the air? You know, like a chef?” he asked, only half registering how stupid the question sounded when it left his mouth. Apparently Sharon had noticed because he heard her snort.
“Yeah right, do you want to try cleaning pancakes off the ceiling?” She turned to look at him, her eyebrow arched in challenge. When he didn’t answer she turned back to her task, “Yeah, I didn’t think so.”
“Let me guess,” Flynn began, dropping himself into a chair at the table, “Max.”
“Whatever it is, I didn’t do it.” A voice called through the kitchen door seconds before it opened to reveal a mop of black hair, “Am I going to need a lawyer?”
Sharon laughed and turned around to smile at her son, “No, but you’re just in time.” She pointed to the table, “Sit.” Max flopped into the chair opposite Flynn and poured himself a glass of orange juice from the jug on the table. Sharon passed around plates of pancakes and set a small stack of toast next to the bacon and sausages, “And actually, Andy, it was Lyla that time.” Picking up a bottle of syrup, she gestured to the food that Max was already scooping onto his plate, “Help yourself.”
Andy smiled at her and did exactly that, grimacing as she squirted syrup onto her pancakes and offered him the bottle, “No thanks, can’t stand the stuff.”
Sharon looked at him with an expression of mock disgust and set the bottle in front of Max who took it and coated his pancakes with excessive amounts, “So, Andy right?” Flynn nodded took a bite of his food, “You work with my mum?”
Flynn swallowed and glanced at Sharon, an amused twinkle in his eyes, “You could say that. I’m one of the Major Crimes assholes she’s probably ranted to you so much about.” Sharon rolled her eyes when Max laughed and glared at Flynn.
“Not you so much, mostly your boss, what’s her name again?” Max asked, turning to face Sharon.
“Brenda Johnson.” Flynn answered for her when she made a detestable noise and put another forkful of pancakes into her mouth and chewed angrily, “You know Sharon, you two aren’t all that different, I’d go so far as to say you were actually quite similar.”
He glanced up at her when he heard her fork clatter onto her plate, “I think I was just insulted.” She glared dangerously at him and he had to resist the urge to shuffle his chair away from the table. Next to her, Max was trying to contain his laughter by shovelling more food into his mouth, she turned her glare on him, “I don’t know what you’re laughing at, if you choke I’m not going to help you.”
He swallowed and grinned at her, “I think that’s frowned upon in some states Mum.” Sharon shrugged in feigned nonchalance and collected his empty plate. He downed the rest of his juice and pressed a kiss to her cheek, “I’m gonna be late, see you later Mama Bear.” He held his hand out for Flynn to shake, “Later Andy.”
After he left, Sharon turned her glare straight back to Flynn, “I’m similar to Miss Atlanta?” she crossed her arms over her chest and watched him shift uncomfortably in his seat.
He scratched the spot behind his ear as he carefully considered his words, not wanting to incur the full wrath of Sharon Raydor, “Professionally, I would say so. Personally, I’ve got no idea.” She eyed him for a few long seconds before grabbing his empty plate, leaving him to mentally congratulate himself on the nice save.
He watched her gracefully dance around the kitchen as she collected all the dirty crockery and pans and loaded them into the dishwasher before washing her hands. She turned back to him just in time to catch him staring, he quickly averted his gaze and silently begged himself not to blush, he wasn’t sure he would be able to handle the taunts he was sure she would throw his way if he did.
“I’m going to go get dressed.” Flynn clenched his teeth and concentrated on a spot on the table and tried to think of Provenza, anything to stop the flood of images that came to mind with that simple sentence, his brain screaming at him not to blush, “Why don’t you go watch some T.V. for a few minutes.” When he didn’t move, she walked over to him, “I won’t be long, then you can drive us to PD.”
He looked up at her and nodded slowly, the only action his suddenly Neanderthal brain would allow him to make. She gave him a quick smile and walked out of the room with what he was sure was an exaggerated sashay. He bit himself on the cheek, hard, “Damnit Flynn, now you’re starting to imagine things” he mumbled to himself and smoothed his hand over his hair. He was never going to drink three cups of coffee before 8am ever again.
Flynn suppressed a flinch when the blinds in Chief Johnson’s office snapped shut and the heavy door slammed closed, effectively cutting off the two occupants of the office from the rest of Major Crimes, who were busy listening intently as the familiar voices inside gradually increased in volume. This wasn’t going to turn out well at all, for anybody.
“…I understand that Chief, I do, but it just so happens that your suspect is my victim who was shot by a police officer, and I am required to investigate officer involved cases as you well know.” The frustrated voice of Sharon Raydor reverberated through the thin walls of the office. The distinct sound of a desk drawer being angrily pushed back into place made it perfectly clear for all listening what was happening inside the office; Brenda Johnson had finally had enough and reached into her drawer to retrieve a sugary snack in an attempt to ward off the headache that had been persistently growing since she first heard the clipping of expensive high-heels as they entered Major Crimes that morning.
Provenza leaned back in his chair and chuckled at the raised voices as he unfolded his morning newspaper and flicked through the pages until he found the crossword puzzles, “Who do you think will draw their weapon first? Raydor or the Chief?”
Sat behind his desk with his glasses perched precariously on the end of his nose and delicately wielding a screwdriver to take apart their victim Jennifer Masters’ laptop, Tao laughed and glanced back to look at the office where the aggravated voices had become momentarily hushed, “My moneys on the Chief.” He said quickly before turning back to concentrate on his task.
“Me too, Raydor loves her little rule book too much to let herself be investigated for a OIS.” Gabriel threw in, gradually edging closer and closer to the glass wall of the Chief’s office to try to hear what was going on inside. Flynn frowned and rummaged through his desk drawer. When he found what he was looking for, he slipped the toothpick between his teeth and chewed on it lightly.
“What about you, Flynn? Who d’ya think will fold first?” Provenza asked without taking his eyes of his crossword. Flynn shrugged and glared at the slightly smug expression on his partners face.
Sanchez lounged back in his chair and locked his fingers together behind his head, “I think they’ll forget weapons altogether and go for the eyes.” He grinned and leant conspiratorially across his desk towards Flynn, “Can you imagine that? The Chief and Raydor clawing-”
“Alright that’s enough Julio,” Flynn growled, he had heard enough and although he knew it was completely irrational, he could feel his anger increasing, along with his blood pressure, “Haven’t you got some phones to dump or something, Detective?”
Sanchez didn’t reply but decided it was a wise idea to turn his attention away from the office and Flynn. Flynn looked over to Provenza to see him staring at him with his eyebrows raised and a look of surprise on his face, he attempted to maintain eye contact but was soon forced to look away from the pressure of Provenza’s questioning gaze. He bit down hard on his tooth pick and winced when it snapped, the distinctive metallic tang of blood played on his taste buds when the tiny shards of wood prickled the inside of his mouth and cut at his lip.
“Hey, any of you think we should call Pope?” Gabriel asked, uncertainty colouring his voice, as much as he knew Pope wouldn’t want to get involved unless it was an emergency, he also knew that the Chief would like to get rid of Raydor as soon as possible.
Before anybody came to a decision, the office door was flung open by a very annoyed Brenda Johnson, who came marching into the murder room, closely followed by a satisfied looking Sharon Raydor.
“Lieutenant Provenza, would you mind escortin’ Cap’n Raydor here back to the crime scene so that she can take a quick look around please? Thank you so much.” Despite her agitation, she kept her voice sugary sweet; not wanting to show how much Sharon had clearly gotten under her skin.
Flynn almost laughed at the wave of desperation that crossed Provenza’s features as his eyes flicked back and forth between the Chief and Raydor, “You know what Chief,” he stammered, “I think it would be better if Flynn went.”
It was Flynn’s turn to look surprised, sending Provenza a quick glare he swivelled his chair to look at Brenda and Sharon, the latter of whom was watching the scene play out impassively, “Why is that, Lieutenant?” Brenda asked, although true to Brenda Leigh Johnson style, she was pretty sure she already knew the answer.
“Well, uh, Chief you see,” he stammered again, trying to come up with a decent explanation to avoid going out into the field with Sharon Raydor, “I’m in the middle of something here and, erm, Flynn would be able to handle her better than I would.” He finished quickly, pointedly avoiding the fiery gazes of the Captain and Flynn who both looked like they were trying make him drop dead simply through the power of thoughts.
“And how exactly do you think I should be handled, Lieutenant?” Sharon asked, her usually monotonous voice when dealing with Major Crimes this time laced with acid. Tiny amused sounds came from Sanchez, Tao and Gabriel as they tried to contain their laughter from the flustered lieutenant.
Luckily for Provenza, the Chief decided to step in before things escalated, “Alright, alright. Lieutenant Flynn if you could go with her then please? And try to make sure you don’t kill each other,” He might have imagined it, but Flynn was sure he saw Sharon’s lips quirk into an almost-smile, “I’d hate for FID to have to come all the way up here just because you two couldn’t get along for a couple of hours.”
“Sure thing, Chief.” Flynn pulled his suit jacket off the back of his chair and slipped into it with ease. Nodding at Sharon to lead the way, he threw the remnants of his toothpick in the bin as he made his way out of the murder-room, following the sounds of Sharon’s expensive stilettos down the corridor to the elevators.
They waited in silence for the ding that signalled the elevator had arrived at their floor. When the doors slid open, they stepped inside and shuffled to the back, away from the other officers who were crowding into the small box. Flynn sidled forward just enough to make sure that the button for the ground floor had been pushed before scooting back to Sharon’s side, both of them silently agreeing to play up to the mutual animosity that existed between FID and the rest of the LAPD divisions by ignoring each other.
The elevator stopped off at various floors, and slowly but surely it was emptied to leave Andy and Sharon huddled together in the corner of the metallic box. Noticing her proximity to him, Flynn gave a small cough and moved slowly away before it became uncomfortable. Sharon stumbled when the elevator finally came to a stop on the ground floor with a jerk; Flynn stepped forwards to catch her and held his breath when his hands came to a stop at her waist and her palm landed against his chest as she tried to steady herself.
Sharon smiled shyly at him and tried to control the blush that was threatening to move to her cheeks as she saw the smouldering glimmer in his brown eyes. He grinned and loosened his grip on her waist as the elevator doors rattled open, he subtly moved his hand to press it gently to the small of her back as he ushered her out into the busy foyer of the LAPD headquarters.
He waited until they were both in the privacy of his car before he asked the question that he had been dying to ask since the murder-room, “‘How do you think I should be handled?’ what a way to ask a loaded question, Ronnie.”
Sharon smirked at his disbelieving tone as she strapped herself into the passenger side, “It made Tweedledum shut up didn’t it?” Flynn chuckled and moved the car into the busy Los Angeles traffic, “Besides, you of all people should know how I don’t like to be handled.” She bit out the last word as if it was the foulest word she could think of, making Flynn chuckle again.
“I may of heard a thing or two from Jack, yes.” He heard Sharon sigh and decided to move the subject in a different direction, “So why do you wanna go back to the scene anyway? We didn’t find anything that might be pertinent to your investigation.”
Sharon shrugged even though he couldn’t see her, “I’m not sure. I just want to make sure we didn’t miss anything.”
Flynn chanced a quick glimpse over to her, “You really want Grady’s to be a good shooting, don’t you.”
She sighed again and ran her fingers through her hair, “I saw the crime scene pictures of your victim, Jennifer. That guy did a number on her, so yes, I would love for this to be a justified OIS for Grady, even with his drinking on the job, but it looks like we’re going to need a miracle.”
They spent the rest of the trip to the crime scene in a comfortable silence, Flynn looking over at her every so often so see her gazing intently out the passenger side window, obviously deep in thought. When they arrived, Flynn pulled some booties and gloves out of the car boot and handed a pair of each to Sharon.
“Would you mind giving me the grand tour, Lieutenant?” Sharon asked politely, using his rank to show she was back into professional mode.
“No problem, Captain.” He smirked at her and led her around the back of the house to where Officer Vargo had entered. They stopped to pulled on their booties and gloves and Sharon mentally prepared herself for what she was about to find inside. Flynn opened the back door slowly and stepped over the threshold into the kitchen.
The first thing Sharon noticed was the stale smell of blood. Forcing herself not to gag, she stepped further inside and gave the room a cursory glance over, taking in the large pool of congealed blood on the floor and the spatter on the surfaces and across the walls. There was also broken glass on the floor, which she presumed was from glass tumblers and the barstools at the kitchen island had been knocked over.
“This is where our victim was found by Officer Vargo, that way leads to the front door.” He pointed at a hallway and led her towards it, “I told you Officer Grady came in the front?” Sharon nodded watched as he moved to the front door and stumbled on a loose floorboard.
“Hey where was your suspect stood when Grady shot him?” Sharon asked excitedly, Flynn didn’t fail to notice when she referred to the man in the hospital as ‘your suspect’ rather than ‘my victim’.
He pointed to a spot a about three metres in front of him, “Right there, why? You got an idea?” Sharon smiled and nodded, stepping up to the location he had indicated.
“You said Grady was stood there right? By that loose floorboard?” Flynn nodded and looked at her quizzically, not understanding where her mind was going, “Well what if Grady was actually stood on the board, you saw how it lifted when you stood on it?” Flynn nodded again and looked down at the floor, still not seeing the connection.
Sharon lifted her hands and gave a frustrated huff at his denseness, “Damnit Flynn, what if what Grady saw was right and the guy did have a gun?” She smiled when she saw the proverbial light bulb click on and Flynn looked at her in awe.
“You sayin’ the gun fell underneath the floorboard?” he grinned at Sharon’s enthusiastic nod and bent down to pry the board out of its place. Sharon pulled a mini maglite out of her pocket and knelt down next to Flynn to shine it down the hole. Sure enough the beam reflected off the metal barrel of a handgun.
Flynn looked at Sharon with complete admiration, “You…are amazing!”
Before he knew what he was doing, Flynn leant closer and planted his lips firmly against hers, his heart beating wildly against his ribcage like a trapped bird when she didn’t pull away.
Sharon was too shocked to move, Andy Flynn, was kissing her. How did that happen? Her brain seemed to have shut down; they were kissing, at a crime scene, where they were meant to be working! Sharon smiled into his lips when she realised one thing. She didn’t care.
Flynn pulled back from Sharon slowly, immediately missing the soft warmth of her lips. He could hear her trying to control her breathing and for a brief moment he was proud of himself for having that effect on her, that feeling however, quickly morphed into doubt when her eyes slowly fluttered open and she fixed her emerald eyes on him, displaying a vulnerability he had never witnessed before.
Sharon unconsciously licked her lips nervously and watched as Flynn expertly avoided her gaze; obviously he wasn’t entirely sure what had just happened either. Her thought was proven when he eventually found his voice, breaking the chasm of silence that had stretched out between the two of them, “I’m sorry, Captain, I don’t know why I did that.” He looked up at her quickly, “I shouldn’t have done that.” He said quietly, and Sharon was sure it was almost to himself, chastising himself for his actions.
She slowly reached out and hesitantly touched the sleeve of his jacket, pulling his attention to her. What she saw was an expression of bare, unchecked uncertainty and embarrassment. She gave him the most reassuring look she could muster and gently tilted his head so she could look him in the eye, “I wasn’t complaining, Andy.”
His eyes marginally widened at the huskiness of her voice, which, judging from the surprised look on her face, wasn’t intentional. He flashed her a shy smile before clearing his throat and returning his attention to the handgun under the floorboards, “Looks like a nine mil. We’ll have to see if the guys in the print lab can get anything to prove it’s our suspect’s gun.”
Sharon smiled at both him effortlessly slipping back into the role of Lieutenant Flynn and unknowingly including her in his investigation. It wasn’t often she actually felt like she was part of the Los Angeles police department; always feeling like she was on the outside, condemned to being hated by default by the other departments for her role in Internal Affairs. It was nice to feel like a regular cop again, to feel that rush of exhilaration that came with finding the evidence that could put their suspect away, the rush she rarely felt when she was investigating uses of force.
“I wish we had Buzz here to document this.” Sharon said, slowly getting off her knees and brushing off her trouser legs.
Flynn reached into the hole and gently pulled the gun out of its hiding place, “You know, I’m kinda glad he wasn’t.” he glanced up at her and smirked, “That would have been embarrassing in court.”
Sharon put her hands on her hips and arched an eyebrow, “For you maybe.” She let the corners of her mouth lift in the smallest of smiles.
Flynn straightened himself up and sent her a questioning look, “Why me?”
Sharon’s smile widened and she started to walk back through the house towards the kitchen, “Two reasons, A. even if Buzz had caught that, it’s highly unlikely I would end up in court for this case,” she looked briefly over her shoulder to make sure he was following her, “and B. you kissed me in case you don’t remember, so I’ve got nothing to be embarrassed about.”
She stepped around the pool of blood in the kitchen and walked out into the chilly Los Angeles air, Flynn close behind her, “Oh yeah, I remember.” She heard him chuckle and turned to face him just in time for him to capture her lips in another bruising kiss.
He left her breathless for the second time that morning, she smiled at the thought before forcing herself to step away from him and walk over to his car. She leaned against it lightly as she waited for him to regain his senses enough to follow her.
They spent the drive back to PD as in the same conditions as they had on the way out to the crime scene, in silence, this time both of them thinking about what had happened. Only when Flynn had pulled his car into a parking space was the silence broken.
“I think we should celebrate.” Flynn said suddenly as he switched off the car ignition. He unbuckled his seat belt and shuffled around in his seat until he was comfortably facing Sharon, who was watching him with pure confusion glittering in her eyes.
“What exactly do we have to celebrate?” she wracked her brain but nothing worth celebrating sprang to mind, sure they had kissed but that was hardly an event worthy of celebration.
Flynn grinned conspiratorially at her, “You got your miracle.” Sharon laughed at his simple explanation and nodded. “If the techs can get a print match on the gun, Grady is cleared and you can thank your lucky stars for whatever good fortune is raining down on you today.”
Mention of the gun made Sharon remember a small detail that had been niggling at her since they had found it, “Flynn…if this is the guys gun, why didn’t he just shoot your victim instead of beating her to death?”
Flynn mulled her question over and shrugged, “People do stupid things in the heat of the moment.” Sharon briefly thought he was talking about the two of them as well as the suspect, “Maybe he was so angry, so caught up in the moment he forgot he had the gun until Vargo and Grady showed up.”
Sharon nodded slowly at his explanation, it made sense; after all, human behaviour wasn’t all that predictable. Sharon sighed and gave Flynn a brief sad smile before opening the car door and getting out of the vehicle. Flynn followed her lead and did the same, making sure it was locked before they walked away.
Before they could get the elevator, Flynn quickly called Chief Johnson to tell her what they had found. When he hung up he turned to see Sharon looking respectfully at the wall commemorating those officers that had died in the line of duty.
“Hey,” he said quietly to make sure he didn’t startle her, when she didn’t turn around he tried again, “Sharon.” This time he got a response in the form of a soft hum. “Chief wants me to take the gun down to the print lab to see what they can get off it. I’ll let you know when the results come back.”
Sharon turned her face slightly in his direction but kept her eyes firmly on the wall honouring their fallen, “Do they have the fingerprints of the man in the hospital?”
Flynn stepped up to her side and bowed his head respectfully, “Yeah, Gabriel collected them when the guy came out of surgery. Still don’t have an ID on him yet but we’ve got guys flashing his picture to some of Jennifer’s friends, see if they recognise him.”
Sharon remained silent; she couldn’t wait for this case to be over. Flynn glanced around to make sure nobody was looking before he reached down and gently squeezed her fingers, smiling when Sharon leaned closer towards him.
“I’ll call you when the results come in.” He repeated and disappeared in the direction of the print lab. Sharon sighed and rubbed at her temples, trying to massage away the images of the blood spattered kitchen and the beaten body of Jenny Masters.
When no relief came, she forced herself to catch the elevator, deciding that throwing herself into paperwork would help rid her of the images. She stood in the back of the metal box and deftly ignored the glares that were sent her way as the elevator slowly filled.
Getting off at her floor she briskly walked towards her office, the need for painkillers quickly increasing as she struggled to get the violent images out of her head. She gave a forced smile and wave to Natalie, vaguely noticing the two boys were missing from their desks, most likely investigating allegations that various police officers were too rough when apprehending a suspect.
Locking herself into the familiar, comforting surroundings of her office, she closed the blinds to further separate herself from the squad room. Sharon breathed a sigh of relief and slumped into the comfy chair behind her desk and rested her forehead against the cool wooden surface of her desk.
She was startled awake by the shrill, persistent ringing of her telephone. A quick glance at her watch told her she had been sleeping for at least two hours. Sharon mentally berated herself for her slip in professionalism as she reached across the desk for the phone, “Raydor.” She answered, her voice thick with sleep.
“Yeah Captain, it’s Flynn.” She became immediately alert listened intently, “Just got off the phone with the print techs, we got a positive match on the gun. Prints match our guy in the hospital, looks like Grady’s in the clear.”
Sharon broke into a smile, which she was sure Flynn would be able to hear when she talked, “Fantastic. I’ll be up in a few minutes to give the news to Grady, fancy getting him ready for me? You can warn the posse I’m coming up as well while you’re at it.”
On the other end of the line, Flynn tried valiantly to contain the grin that was trying to force it’s way onto his features, he already had Provenza watching him like a hawk, “Sure thing Captain, see you in a few.”
True to his word, when she arrived in Major Crimes she saw Grady sitting patiently in Chief Johnson’s office, occasionally glancing out nervously at the people milling around in the murder room. Flynn was waiting for her at his desk with a copy of the fingerprint reports that he had had faxed over. He held out the manila file for her to take as she approached.
“You’ll need this for your report, Captain.” She gave him a quick nod of thanks and took the file from his outstretched hand. She skimmed through the results and smiled at the conclusion drawn by the print techs, the gun did belong to the John Doe in the hospital.
Flynn led her into the Chief’s office and closed the door, smirking at the way Grady watched them like a mouse watching a cat, “Someone’s watchin’ out for you Grady.” He began.
Sharon took it as her cue and continued, “We found a nine millimetre handgun that had fallen underneath a loose floorboard. Prints on the gun are a match to the man you shot.” Grady stared at them wide-eyed, unsure of what to say he kept his mouth shut.
“Lucky for you Captain Raydor here, decided to go back for another look around.” Flynn chipped in.
“Which means, Officer Grady, this is being ruled as a justified shooting.” Grady smiled widely and for a second Flynn was sure he was going to hug Sharon.
Instead he stood from his chair and held his hand out for her to shake, “Thank you ma’am.”
Flynn watched as Sharon narrowed her eyebrows, knowing how much she hated being called ‘ma’am’, “It’s Captain, Officer, and I wouldn’t thank me just yet. You are aware that you could still lose your job, yes?”
Grady nodded solemnly, “Yes ma- Captain.” He corrected himself quickly.
“That decision is up to your superior officer and Chief Pope. I suggest you go see them both soon.” Grady nodded quickly at both Andy and Sharon and dashed out the office when Flynn opened to door for him. Allowing the door to swing closed behind him, Flynn turned to Sharon with an expectant expression.
“Right, how about celebrating that miracle on Saturday?” Sharon thought it over quickly and nodded, “Great, I’ll pick you up at 11.”
“What are we doing?” Sharon asked him, suddenly interested in what he had planned that required him to pick her up at that time.
Flynn tapped the side of his nose and opened the office door for her, showing her she wasn’t going to be getting any more information out of him. She took the hint and strode out of the office. As he watched her leave, Flynn couldn’t help but think that Saturday couldn’t come quickly enough.
Sharon stood freshly showered and wrapped in her robe peering intently into her wardrobe. Never before had she had such trouble choosing an appropriate outfit. It didn’t help in the least that Flynn still hadn’t given her an idea of what to expect, only leaving a cryptic message on her desk made up of two words on Friday afternoon – dress warm, F.
Dress warm? She knew that the weather recently hadn’t exactly been up to normal Los Angeles standards but she also knew that it wasn’t enough to break out the thick sweaters and scarves. Sighing heavily she ran her fingers through her still damp tresses and pulled out a pair of jeans and a mint green sweater. Laying them on her bed she frowned at them as she debated her choice.
A gentle tap on her bedroom door caught her attention and she glanced up to see Lyla leaning against the door frame, a single eyebrow raised and a light smirk curling her lips, “Can’t decide what to wear for your date?” she asked, amusement lightly colouring her voice.
Sharon crossed her arms and turned to fully face her daughter, “It’s not a date,” she glared at Lyla when her eyebrow rose even higher and her smirk widened, “but yes.”
Lyla stepped further into the room and swept her long hair behind her shoulder, “Uh huh,” Sharon rolled her eyes and turned back to look at the clothes laid across the bed.
“It’s not, we’re just going to celebrate solving a case and clearing an officer of his OIS.” She groaned and grabbed the sweater, slipped it back onto its hanger and put it on the floor next to the wardrobe with the other clothes she had already decided she wasn’t going to wear.
Lyla sat on the edge of her mother’s bed and watched her pushed aside various items of clothing, occasionally pulling one out and staring at it, trying to decide whether up was up to par before shaking her head and shoving it aside as well.
“So this Andy is coming to pick you up in what? Forty minutes? To take you to ‘celebrate’ the end of a case, which you normally do at the end of work, with the guys, in a bar. Not on a Saturday.” Sharon threw another two sweaters onto her bed, “You normally drive yourself, not get picked up, as well as knowing where it is you’re actually going.” Lyla picked up one of the sweaters off the bed and grimaced, shaking her head she handed it back to Sharon to add to the steadily growing rejects pile. She leaned back against the pillows and grinned like the cat that got the canary, “And, you’re worrying about what to wear. Face it Mama Bear, it’s a date.”
Sharon chewed on her lower lip and looked at her daughter. Lyla saw a flash of panic in her mother’s eyes as she absorbed the ‘evidence’ that suggested she was in fact about to go on a date with Andy Flynn. Sharon flopped on the bed next to Lyla and closed her eyes tightly, “Oh my god, Lyla.” She pressed her hands over her face and moaned, “It was so much simpler thinking we’re just going to celebrate.” She said miserably, her voice muffled behind her hands.
Lyla reached over and gently stroked Sharon’s hair, like Sharon used to do to her to calm her down after a nightmare when she was little, “It can still be simple, Mum. Do you like the guy?”
The question surprised her. Sharon realised she had never really stopped to think about whether she did like Flynn. She had always thought that in some way, she would always be his best friend and partner’s wife and his friend, never anything more. Out of the corner of her eye she could see Lyla studying her, watching her reactions.
Sharon thought about all the times that Flynn had been there for her, especially recently, helping see her through the stress of another officer involved shooting and the anniversary of Jack’s death. Noticing that Lyla had not shifted her gaze and was still watching her intently, Sharon gently nodded her head.
Lyla smiled widely and all but jumped off the bed, “Excellent! Now, lets get you dressed.” Sharon watched her with wide eyes as she started rummaging through the wardrobe herself, quickly and efficiently eliminating outfits.
“You’re not upset?” Sharon asked hesitantly. This was too good to be true. She didn’t quite believe it was possible for both her children to approve of her going out on a date.
Lyla twirled on her heel to face her mother, confusion knitting her brows together, “Why would I be upset?” she held up the wine red sweater she was holding and waved at Sharon before laying it on the bed and returning to the wardrobe to remove a pair of black jeans.
Sharon shrugged and fiddled with the tie of her robe, “I don’t know, I just thought that you or Maxie wouldn’t like the idea of me…” she paused and ran her fingers through her now dry hair, “well, you know.” She finished lamely.
Lyla nodded sympathetically and returned to her spot on the bed next to Sharon. “Yeah, I know. I also know that we want you to be happy.” Sharon looked up at her daughter and smiled. “You’ve spent a long time putting Sprout and me first, making sure that we were always happy. You don’t need to worry about us anymore, it’s about time you started thinking about yourself.” She said the last sentence firmly, almost as if she was issuing her mother a direct order.
Sharon sighed deeply and pulled Lyla into a hug, pressing a kiss on the top of her head, “I love you baby.” She mumbled into Lyla’s hair.
Lyla tightened the hug briefly before pulling herself away from her mother’s embrace, “I love you too, now hurry up and get ready before Andy gets here.” She gave her a gentle shove towards the edge of the bed and scrambled off herself, closing the door on her way out.
Sharon sighed again and frowned down at the clothes Lyla had picked out for her. Deciding that she didn’t have enough time to spend ages choosing another outfit, Sharon relented and quickly dressed. She gave herself a once over in the mirror and shrugged at her reflection, it’d have to do. Not that she had any doubts about Lyla’s fashion abilities.
She had just finished applying her makeup and taming her thick, unruly mane into loose, glossy curls when she heard the doorbell ring, immediately setting off a colony of butterflies in the pit of her stomach. Lucky for her, Lyla answered the door, giving her time to find her resolve and shake off some of the nervousness she felt. She had been right earlier – it would have been easier thinking of this as a celebration and not a date.
Flynn was on the edge of his seat. Literally. Lyla had led him into the sitting room and as her sense of well-mannered hospitality had dictated, offered him a seat, which Flynn had politely accepted. He felt a mild blanket of unease settle around him as he made small talk with Lyla, keenly aware that she, like any good daughter, was watching him like a steely-eyed hawk, clearly trying to decide whether the man sat in front of her was good enough for her mother.
As they waited for Sharon, their small talk quickly moved on from the more mundane topic of the weather and progressed to the slightly less mundane one of work and school. He saw how Lyla’s blue eyes lit up as she told him about the course she was studying. When he came to mention his role at the LAPD he noticed her hawkish gaze soften and a flash of recognition etch itself on her face.
“I thought I knew you.” She told him, her voice tinted with the satisfaction of finally placing a name with a face, “You’re Flynn,” at his nod she continued, “Uncle Flynn. You were my dad’s partner.”
Flynn smiled; he hadn’t been called Uncle Flynn in a long time. Before anything else could be said, Sharon stepped into the room and leaned against the wall; her casual posture defying the nervousness she felt. She saw Lyla’s eyes quickly assess the outfit she had chosen for her, her lips quirking up into a satisfied smile that Sharon took as one of approval.
Flynn stood quickly from his perch on the edge of the seat and allowed his mouth to gape open the tiniest bit. Sharon smiled at his reaction and crossed her arms across her chest, “Morning, Flynn.” She said nonchalantly. She noticed he was dressed just as casual as she was in a pair of dark jeans with a black t-shirt and black leather jacket.
When he thought his brain had rebooted enough to form an intelligent answer he answered her, “Hey” and immediately suppressed a grimace, obviously not as intelligent as he had thought it would be, but then again, he had noticed that that was happening more and more often when he was around her. He smiled secretly to himself when he heard Brenda Leigh Johnson’s voice echo inside his head, ‘Ooh! That woman!’ – That woman indeed.
Neither of them noticed the time passed quickly in silence until Lyla gave a dramatic huff and went to move out of the room, calling over her shoulder as she went, “Are you two just gonna stand there and drool over each other or go disappear and do whatever it was you were gonna do?”
Sharon rolled her eyes and smirked at Flynn who was looking somewhat embarrassed at Lyla catching him ogling her mother. He dipped his head and coughed, “Uh, yeah.” He looked up and gave Sharon a boyish smile, “You ready to go?”
Sharon nodded and motioned for him to follow her to the closet in the hall where she stopped to pull out her coat. In an unexpected display of chivalry, Flynn took the midnight blue trench off her and held it out for to slide into, flicking her hair out from underneath the coat and straightening the collar for her after she pushed the buttons through their holes and secured the belt around her waist.
She felt the beginnings of a blush creep up towards her cheeks and she smiled shyly at him, “Thank you.” Flynn decided that he quite liked this newfound shyness of hers. He was so used to seeing the brazen, ultra-professional Captain Raydor that he’d completely forgotten about the feminine, almost delicate side of her he used to see when he was partnered with Jack.
In his car, he waited patiently for her to get herself comfortable and buckle up before he backed out of her driveway. Still curious as ever, Sharon looked intently out the front window and watched the passing Los Angeles streets, mentally eliminating possible end locations based on the direction Flynn was driving as he headed Downtown. After close to ten minutes of impatiently trying to guess where they were going, she simply gave in and asked.
In his usual infuriating style, he risked a quick glance in her direction and gave her a sly smile, “You’ll find out when we get there.” He said simply and returned his focus to the road ahead, sniggering when he heard her release a loud, annoyed huff.
When she asked how long until they got there as they were stopped at a red light, Flynn arched an eyebrow at her, “I could always pull over and blindfold you, you know.”
“I bet you could.” Sharon glared at him and he forced himself to respond to her retort. He thanked whoever was watching that the lights changed back to green and he could continue the last few blocks in silence.
He pulled into a parking space and almost before he had had enough time to switch of the ignition and unbuckle his seat belt, Sharon was out of the car and staring at the building in front of her, wide-eyed and slack-jawed.
Flynn starting walking calmly towards the building, only stopping to glance over his shoulder when he realised that Sharon wasn’t following, “You coming?”
Sharon let her eyes flick quickly between the large, block letters of the building’s sign and Flynn watching her over his shoulder, trying to decide whether he was being serious or not. Slowly walking up to him, she could tell by the amused glint in his eyes that he was being completely serious, not that it stopped her from grumbling the thought that was stuck in her head, “You’ve gotta be kidding.”
She was never going to forgive him for this.
Sharon crossed her arms across her chest and scowled at Flynn, who looked a tad too pleased with himself for her liking, “Please tell me you’re not serious?” her voice took on a pleading note as she glanced back at the building looming in front of them.
“Nope. Come on, it’ll be fun.” He reached down and took hold of her wrist and half-dragged, half-led her up the stairs of the ice-skating rink, Sharon moaning the entire time. He grinned when he saw the line for tickets wasn’t as long as he had been expecting.
“I don’t know how to ice-skate, Andy!” she whined, coaxing another smirk from Flynn who pushed her to stand in front of him in the line, anchoring her in place with his hands on her shoulders.
“I thought you spend Christmas in Park City with the munchkins and your parents?” he asked her, gently making her shuffle forwards when the line moved. She tried to throw an annoyed look at him over her shoulder, her attempts hampered by him shuffling her forwards again and her stumbling when his foot caught hers.
He steadied her by quickly moving one hand to her waist, keeping the other securely at her shoulder to keep her from escaping. “Yeah, to ski, Andy, ski. I’ve never skated in my life!” she felt Flynn squeeze her shoulder as they reached the ticket booth and he asked for two.
“Don’t worry about it, it’s the basically the same concept as skiing.” He told her, smiling at the girl behind the booth who was watching the scene with an amused smirk on her face.
Sharon scoffed and whirled around to glare evenly at him, “Are you kidding me? They’re nothing alike!” she poked a finger into his chest to punctuate her words.
He tilted his head to the side to consider her words and then shrugged, “Yeah you’re right, they’re not.” The girl behind the booth began to laugh, quickly covering it with a cough when Sharon’s stormy face turned to pin her with a glare. Silently she handed over the tickets and gave Flynn his change.
Keeping his one hand firmly on her shoulder and the other on her waist, he steered her through the barriers and up to the ice-skate rental counter. Sharon grimaced and grudgingly gave her shoe size and handed her boots over for storage, taking the offered skates. Once Flynn had his, he led her over to an empty bench and sat, confidently slipping his feet into his skates and lacing them up with ease.
Once he finished, he noticed Sharon staring at the laces and buckles on hers as if they had come from Mars. Grinning at her confused expression, he moved to straddle the bench, “Give me your foot.” He said simply, reaching down to pull her foot up onto the bench next to him. She complied and watched with interest as he pulled the laces taut, looping them through the holes and around the hooks and trying them off with a double knot before pulling the straps at the top tight and snapping the buckles closed.
He tapped her foot and motioned for the other one and repeated the process. When he had finished he let her set both feet on the floor, “How’s that feel? Tight enough? Too tight?” he asked her as she looked anxiously at the skates.
Sharon experimentally wiggled her toes and shifted her foot slightly to make sure they felt secure. She gave Flynn an uneasy nod, “They feel fine.” Flynn smiled his boyish smile and swung his leg back over the bench and got to his feet.
Sharon attempted the same and quickly fell back down to the bench. Flynn chuckled and walked closer to her, “Patience young grasshopper,” he quipped and held his hands up in surrender when she attempted to kill him with a stare, “Try getting used to the feel of the blade first, otherwise you’re just gonna fall flat on your ass.”
She chewed on her lower lip and concentrated on feeling the width of the blade, shifting her foot from side to side. When she was confident she knew just how thin the blade was, she looked up at Flynn expectantly. Taking his cue, he held his hands out for her to grasp and gently, slowly pulled her to her feet, feeling her hands grip his tightly when she wobbled.
“You okay?” he asked her, watching as she shifted her weight until she got a decent footing and balance. When she nodded he moved back a few steps from her until he was far enough away that he could only just keep a hold on her hands. He saw Sharon’s eyes shoot up to his nervously as he moved away, “Okay, now try walking over to me.”
She worried her lower lip with her teeth and took a hesitant step forwards, gripping his hands impossibly tighter when she wobbled, “It’s okay, I’ve got you.” He told her in the most reassuring voice he could muster.
“Oh that makes me feel so much better.” She grumbled just loud enough for him to hear. Apparently that small bit of reassurance did the trick because she carefully shuffled her way over to him, grinning triumphantly when she reached him.
“Great.” She smiled at his light praise, “Now lets get you on the ice.” It was his turn to smile when he saw her face fall, “don’t worry, you’ll be fine.” He assured her has he slowly led her through the double doors out to the side of the rink, not once releasing her hand.
Sharon’s eyes widened when she saw all the people already on the ice effortlessly gliding around the rink, some performing the occasional pirouette while a small group was gathered in the centre, unsteadily dancing to the pop music that was being piped into the room via strategically placed speakers.
Unconsciously she tightened her already iron-grip on Flynn’s hand, he didn’t even wince, just looked at her with a smooth smile and a twinkle in his eyes, “Hey it’s okay, I won’t let go.” He told her as he stepped out onto the ice, holding his arms out to catch her as she unsteadily followed him, immediately slipping.
Flynn caught her and held her steadily upright, helping her regain her balance. She smiled tightly at him and he gently made her glide over to the wall, “Lesson number two. Get used to the feel of the ice.” She looked up at questioningly so he clarified, “I’ll keep a hold on you so you don’t go anywhere, just shuffle your feet backwards and forwards.”
She followed his instructions tentatively, slowly relaxing into it when she realised that he meant what he said. He wasn’t going to let her go. “So is this the ice-skating crash course for dummies?” she asked him wryly, he chuckled, pleased that she wasn’t so angry with him that she had lost her sense of humour.
“Somethin’ like that.” She rolled her eyes at his grin and focused her eyes back on her feet, concentrating with all her might on not slipping, and they hadn’t even moved anywhere yet. “You ready to try some skating then?” he waited for her slow nod and gently pulled her closer to him.
“If I fall, I blame you.” She told him firmly, loosening her grip on his hand just enough to interlace their fingers.
“Deal.” She smiled up at him and let him ease them carefully out into the throng of other skaters. She kept her gaze firmly on the ice at her feet in an attempt at having more control over where her feet went. Flynn delicately put his fingers under her chin and forced her head up so she was looking straight forwards, “Lesson number three, don’t look down.” She nodded quickly, biting down the urge to look back at her feet, “And try not lean back either, otherwise you’ll over balance and land flat on your ass, most likely taking me with you.”
She felt one of her skates slide out from underneath her and squeaked in surprise when she landed with a thud. Flynn stopped beside her and held out his hands to help her up, “You okay? Hurt anywhere?” he asked her; concern etched into his chocolate brown eyes as he quickly inspected her.
“Nothing hurt but my pride, Andy.” She glanced around quickly to see if anybody else had noticed her little spill, “Seems like there’s a lot of ways this could end up with me on the ground.” She said smirking slightly, brushing of her jeans and rejoining her fingers with Andy’s.
They slowly set off again, moving in a wide circle with the rest of the skaters, “You’ll get used to it.” He told her confidently, taking hold of her arm when he felt her begin to slip again.
“Ha, yeah.” She snorted as they dodged a little boy being helped back onto his feet by his parents, “How is it you know how to skate anyway? I can’t imagine you get enough time away from Scooby and the Mystery Gang to come skating on a regular basis.”
Flynn chuckled and shrugged, “What kind of New Yorker would I be I hadn’t been skating in Central Park on occasion?” he answered her. He saw her shiver almost imperceptibly, “How about getting some hot chocolate?” he pointed at a vendor at the side of the rink.
Sharon smiled gratefully and nodded, anxious to get off the ice. They carefully navigated their way over to the edge of the rink and unsteadily climbed the small step. “Why don’t you take a seat while I go get those drinks.” He told her, motioning to the seats a few metres away from them. She shuffled slowly over to the seats and sighed heavily as she flopped onto the hard, uncomfortable plastic chair.
Flynn joined her a few minutes later and silently handed her a steaming polystyrene cup, “Thank you.” She grasped the cup in her chilly hands and relished the feeling of the warmth spreading through her fingers. She saw Flynn grimace as he took a sip and warily sniffed her own. It didn’t smell bad so she took a small sip, and immediately regretted it.
“Oh! That’s terrible!” she spluttered, forcing herself to swallow the hot liquid. Flynn chuckled at the face she pulled and took the cup out of her. He walked awkwardly in his skates over to the bin and tossed the two drinks.
“I think a trip to Starbucks is needed.” He said as he sat back in his seat. Sharon nodded her agreement and watched intently as a couple of the skaters on the rink moved to the centre and began practicing twirls.
“Why did you decide to bring me here, Andy?” she asked him, not taking her eyes off the other skaters.
Out of the corner of her eye she saw Flynn shrug his shoulders before he answered her, “Seemed like a good idea at the time.” He told her nonchalantly.
“Well I’m glad you did.” Flynn looked at her, his surprise clear on his face. “Don’t tell anyone, but I’m actually having fun.”
Flynn smiled at her admission and grinned widely, “Oh I won’t don’t worry. Wouldn’t want to ruin your image would we?” Sharon smirked and shook her head. “Besides, I’m pretty sure people would never believe me if I told them I saw you having fun anyway, I think the concept of you and fun is alien to most people.”
Sharon laughed and leaned against his shoulder, “Thanks, Flynn.”
Flynn smiled his boyish smile and abruptly stood, “Hows about we go have some more fun then.” She took hold of his offered hands and allowed him to pull her to her feet, liking the idea of getting back onto the ice with him. It definitely hadn’t been what she had expected.
Flynn entered the Murder Room and after a quick survey, noticed that everybody was already hard at work. Well, almost everybody. Provenza sat slumped in his chair, feet on the corner of his desk with his sunhat covering his face. Walking stiffly over to his desk, he deposited his coat on the back of his chair and lowered himself into it with a poorly masked groan.
He heard a muted chuckle float out from under Provenza’s hat, closely followed by “Old age catching up with you, Flynn?” Sanchez grinned and pointedly ignored the glare he caught off Flynn. Provenza pealed his hat off his face so he could smirk at his friend.
Flynn grimaced when his sore muscles twinged and shuffled in his chair to find a comfortable position, “Not as much as you, Provenza.” He growled back in his usual sarcastic manner. Provenza huffed and returned his hat to its previous position covering his eyes and folded his hands in his lap. Flynn shook his head and looked at the murder room, noticing from the corner of his eye that Chief Johnson was not alone in her office.
“What’s Agent Howard doing here this time?” he asked the room, watching as Fritz sat on the edge of Brenda’s desk and dipped his hand into the candy drawer. Provenza removed his hat completely and shoved it in one of his desk drawers, groaning as he let his feet drop to the floor and sat up straight.
“No clue, but they’ve been in there for the past ten minutes or so.” He answered in a bored tone. Flynn shifted to sit straighter in his chair and groaned when his muscles protested again for what felt like the fiftieth time that morning. Provenza frowned and gave his friend a concerned look, “You okay, Flynn?”
Andy winced and resigned himself to slumping less than professionally in his chair, “Yeah, yeah I’m fine.” Provenza gave him a look that said he obviously didn’t believe him, “Just a little muscle ache.” Provenza grinned and turned his attention to Brenda and Fritz when they walked out of her office and over to the murder board.
“Okay gentlemen, Agent Howard here has been kind enough to share some information on our murder suspect.” she slipped her glasses on and looked briefly at the file she was holding before turning to write on the board, “Fingerprints have been matched to one Antonio Dominguez,” she paused and squinted at the piece of paper, “a.k.a. ‘Domino’, aged 34.”
Seeing that everybody was paying close attention, Fritz stepped forward to take over the briefing, “Antonio Dominguez is part of ‘ Los Diablos Rojos.’” at this Flynn sat up straighter, ignoring the pain in his muscles, “The Red Devils specialise in drugs and guns, but the FBI also have reason to believe they may be involved in trafficking women and we’ve been keeping tabs on them for the past five or so years.”
Flynn noticed Provenza give him a significant look and knew exactly what was running through his mind, because it was the same thing going through his own, “Excuse me, Chief.” He interrupted, drawing her attention to him, “You’re sure this creep is from the Red Devils?” he asked slowly.
Brenda took off her glasses and crossed her arms across her chest, “Yes, Lieutenant. Any particular reason why?” she drawled in reply.
Flynn sighed heavily and rubbed his hand over his face, acutely aware that everyone in the room was focused on him, “When I was in Narcotics Division, me and my partner had a few cases that may have involved this particular gang.”
Brenda shifted and glanced at Provenza with questioning eyes; he gave her an almost imperceptible nod. “Okay then, Lieutenant, why don’t you step into my office please?” Flynn nodded and hauled his stiff body out of his chair; “Thank you so much” followed him as he meandered over to the office.
He waited to be offered a seat before he made himself comfortable in one of the visitor’s chairs. Fritz pulled the blinds shut and hung his suit jacket on the coat stand in the corner while Brenda perched herself on the edge of her desk.
“Okay Lieutenant, why don’t you start at the beginnin’?” she instructed, reaching behind her and discreetly sliding open her candy drawer to retrieve a chocolate bar.
Unsure of exactly how much she knew, Flynn decided he’d start of with basic information before delving into the details, “Well Chief, back then the Red Devils were a relatively new gang, we didn’t have much information on their activities at all and any information we did have came mostly through tips, so we didn’t know how accurate it was.” Brenda nodded to show she was listening and popped a piece of chocolate into her mouth while Fritz moved to sit in the chair behind her desk, listening intently.
“We’d been getting a number of tips about possible drug houses set up by this gang in abandoned warehouses but each time we turned up they were empty, or recently emptied at least.”
Brenda leant forward and rested her forearms on her thighs, “Except when you and your partner were attacked.” She stated, watching as Flynn’s face darkened and he made an angry growl in the back of his throat.
“It was a stupid rookie mistake.” Brenda and Fritz looked at him quizzically so he continued, “We expected it to be just like all the other times so we didn’t ask for backup when we got there, interrupted the scumbags when they were cleaning house.” He hastily stood from the chair and began to angrily pace the office, “Cost Jack his damn life.” He bit out acidly. Brenda nodded and watched her agitated subordinate with sympathetic eyes.
After a minute or two of wearing a hole in the carpet, Flynn abruptly halted his pacing and turned to face the two other occupants, who were watching him silently, “We should get Sharon in on this.” He said quickly, burying his hands in his trouser pockets.
Brenda furrowed her eyebrows and frowned at the lieutenant, the only Sharon she knew was Captain Raydor. What could she possibly have to do with this? She asked herself. “Sharon Raydor?” Flynn nodded quickly and watched her expectedly, “What’s she got to do with this?” she asked him incredulously.
Fritz dipped his head to hide his embarrassment and sighed heavily. Flynn tilted his head to the side, “You haven’t read the case file, Chief?” he asked her, wondering how it was she knew about the attack at the warehouse but not Sharon’s connection to him.
Chief Johnson slipped her glasses on her face and eyed him closely, “No I haven’t, Lieutenant, so why don’t you enlighten me?” she told him in a tone she normally reserved for people she was interrogating, and Flynn realised that’s exactly what this was, an interrogation of sorts to get any information she could use.
Flynn tried to keep his frustration out his voice when he answered, not entirely sure whether or not he succeeded, “My partner was Jack Raydor, Sharon’s husband.” He was surprised to feel a somewhat childish sense of superiority and satisfaction when he saw Brenda’s mouth drop, this newest revelation stunning the usually unflappable deputy chief.
The feeling didn’t last long however as she quickly collected herself and motioned for Flynn to sit down again, “How can Cap’n Raydor help us?” she asked gently.
Flynn returned to his seat and leaned forward, “Sharon was in Robbery/Homicide at the time but she knows this gang just as well as I do, maybe even better.” Brenda nodded and waited for him to continue, “When we couldn’t get the bastards, ‘scuse me Chief, she went through all the information we had by herself, trying to find anything we might have missed.” He made eye contact with his superior and let his voice take a steel-edged tone, “She’s gonna want to help nail those sons of bitches, even if it’s not the ones who killed Jack.”
Brenda arched an eyebrow and quickly glanced at Fritz who nodded his approval before turning back to Flynn, “You’re sure she won’t turn this into some kind of personal crusade?”
Flynn thought about it for a second, wondering how far Sharon would go, “She’ll be objective.” He said simply, silently hoping it was true.
Slowly, Brenda slid off the edge of her desk and paced the area that Flynn had been pacing earlier, mulling over the information she had received, “So we’ve got one gang member in the hospital, one dead girl, who we still don’t know what her connection to this gang is, killed by said gang member, and a police officer killed over a decade ago.”
Fritz leaned on Brenda’s desk and watched her pace, “You know Brenda, there’s no statute of limitations on murder, you could reopen Jack Raydor’s murder case. With all the new information the FBI’s collected, you might be able to get your guys if they’re still part of the gang.”
Brenda sighed, she was getting a headache, “If I bring Cap’n Raydor in it could only be for consultin’, as the victim’s widow she can’t investigate his case.” She massaged her temples as she spoke.
Flynn nodded his agreement, “That might be enough for her,” he said determinedly.
Brenda allowed herself to release another heavy sigh, “Oh for heavens sake, Lieutenant if you could ask Cap’n Raydor to grace us with her presence then please?” Flynn moved to go back to his desk, “Thank you; thank you so much.” She said to his retreating back in her sugary Georgia drawl before turning to glare at Fritz, “Ooh Fritzi, why oh why does everythin’ have to be so complicated?” she whined.
“Because it’s life Brenda Leigh.” He answered shortly and sat in one of the visitor’s chairs.
They didn’t have to wait long for Sharon to arrive; after receiving a phone-call just short of a nine-one-one in importance from Flynn, she had dropped everything and made her way briskly up to the Major Crimes offices, breezing into the murder room less than five minutes later and running directly into Flynn.
Immediately putting her guard up in enemy territory, she placed her hands on her hips and looked at him evenly, “What’s the emergency?” she asked him calmly. Flynn took her by the elbow and steered her towards Chief Johnson’s office, ignoring both her protests and the interested gazes of the rest of the squad, only letting go of her once he had shut the office door, “What the hell is going on?” she exclaimed loudly, willing anybody to answer her as she noticed Brenda and Fritz sat at the desk.
“Cap’n Raydor, maybe you should take a seat.” Brenda said in a tone Sharon had never heard before, gentle, sympathetic. Sharon felt her heart begin to beat wildly, her thoughts immediately jumping to Max and Lyla, wondering if anything had happened to them.
She cautiously sat on the edge of the unoccupied chair and peered over to shoulder to look at Flynn who had taken a firm position behind her, “What’s happened? Has something happened to my kids?” Flynn took in her pale face and the flash of panic in her jade eyes and immediately crouched down to her level with what he hoped was a reassuring expression on his face.
“Nothing’s happened to them, they’re fine, Ronnie.” He told her gently, listening as she breathed a shaky sigh of relief, which she accompanied with a small smile. Brenda watched as the woman in front of her quickly pulled back up her mask of professionalism. She studied the two friends and tried to pull her brain away from the unexpected term of endearment she had heard.
Flynn stood up straight and focused his attention back to his chief, feeling briefly uncomfortable under her intense scrutiny, unaware of the slip he had made. Eventually Fritz cleared his throat to catch her attention and gestured for her to make a start.
“Cap’n Raydor,” she began slowly, unsure of how to go about it, “We’ve come to understand that the man who was shot by Officer Grady is a member of a gang.” She trailed off, allowing the confused woman time to process that little bit of information before she hit her with the bigger picture.
Sharon knitted her eyebrows together and glanced around the room, “What’s that got to do with me?” she inquired slowly.
Flynn gently placed his hand on her shoulder to grasp her attention. Sharon swivelled to look at him, the expression on his face making a slow realisation dawn on her. Her eyes widened in shock and she shook her head in denial. Flynn had to get this over quickly and get out of the room, before his last shard of professionalism snapped and he pulled her into his arms, “Yeah, Sharon.” He confirmed tenderly, allowing himself to squeeze her shoulder comfortingly.
“Sharon,” Fritz began with a soothingly calm voice, “We already know that Antonio Dominguez killed Jennifer Masters, what we don’t know is why. We’d like your help on this. We’re going to reopen your husband’s case, and we think that your knowledge of this gang may help us round them up.” He finished in an almost whisper, watching as Sharon’s eyes turned steely and she nodded.
The room was getting smaller, she was sure of it. Sharon paced slowly from one side of the murder room to the other counting each step she took. She knew it was stupid but she could almost feel the walls closing in on her, she needed to get out. She could feel them watching her; they probably thought she was loosing her mind, maybe she was.
The shrill ringing of the phone on Provenza’s desk broke through her self-imposed bubble of solitude but she paid no attention to it until he hung up and spoke loud enough for everyone in the room to hear, “That was the hospital. Seems our Sleeping Beauty has finally woken up.”
Sharon stopped her pacing and leaned against Flynn’s desk. Brenda looked up from the file she was studying and removed her glasses, hanging them off the front of her cardigan, “Any idea when we’ll be able to go over and talk to him?” she asked him.
“The doctor I spoke to says they won’t feel comfortable with him having any visitors for the next couple of hours.” He answered apologetically, “Although they did say that he confirmed he is Antonio Dominguez.”
Brenda scratched lightly at the top of her head, contemplating the next step she should take, “Alright then, Detective Sanchez, if you wouldn’t mind going down to the Cold Case department and collectin’ the files on Jack Raydor’s murder, please? Thank you so much.” She asked in her polite, honeyed Georgia drawl. Sanchez dipped his head in acknowledgement and moved to pull his suit jacket off the back of his chair.
Sharon stepped forward and cleared her throat, “Excuse me Chief, you won’t find the file there.” Sanchez paused his movements and looked to the Chief for instructions, Brenda swivelled on her heel to pin a glare on Raydor.
“What exactly do you mean by that, Cap’n?” she placed her hands on her hips and arched an eyebrow. Sharon chewed lightly on her bottom lip and smoothed down her skirt.
“I moved that particular file to my office, Chief.” She replied, avoiding eye contact with the other woman. Brenda frowned and released a quick sigh, shifting her weight from one foot to the other.
“And why would you do that, Cap’n?” Sharon straightened her posture and crossed her arms across her chest, a posture Flynn instantly recognised as her going into defensive mode.
“To be honest with you Chief, I wasn’t particularly fond of the idea of my husband’s murder file being forgotten in the back of a Cold Case storage locker!” her words were laced with ice, gaining volume as she continued, “At least if it’s in my office, there is someone there who is still looking for anything new, anything overlooked, just anything that could lead to a conviction!”
The room fell silent, everyone momentarily shocked by her outburst. Sharon took the opportunity to attempt to control her raging emotions, closing her eyes and concentrating on the fleeting calm and quiet that had to descended upon the room to slow her breathing. She swallowed back her anger, knowing perfectly well that it wasn’t the chief’s fault, of course it didn’t help that she wanted to wring her neck on the best of days.
Flynn could see Sharon’s small form tremble as she fought to control the myriad of emotions that were assaulting her. Standing from his chair he pulled it into Sharon’s visual range as an offering. She studied it briefly before discreetly shaking her head and offering him a tight yet appreciative smile. Brenda ran her hand across her forehead, flicking a stray strand of hair away from her eyes, “Alright then, Cap’n Raydor, why don’t you head down to your office and retrieve it for us, seeing as you know where it is.” She said not unkindly.
Sharon let out a small sigh of relief, willing at this point to do anything to get away from the stiflingly claustrophobic atmosphere of the murder room even for the briefest of moments. Flynn snagged his jacket off the back of his chair and announced that he would go down with her, to which Brenda responded with an absent minded ‘mhmm’ and a nod as she buried her nose back in the file in her hand.
Lightly placing his palm in the small of her back, Flynn led Sharon away from the scrutinising gazes of the rest of the squad, feeling her relax more the further away they got. They didn’t speak until they were bundled into the elevator, where Sharon fidgeted with her hair, tucking it repeatedly behind her ears and brushing it over her shoulders.
“You didn’t have to come with me, Andy.” She mumbled quietly, wringing her hands together in front of her, absently aware that he had let to remove his hand from her back.
He glanced down at her and gave her a small smile even though she was looking straight forward, concentrating intently on the glowing numbers above the elevator door, “You saying you don’t want my masculine prowess to help you carry those heavy boxes?” She looked up and briefly met his gaze and he felt proud that he made a shy smile etch itself across her face.
“I can’t say they’ll be needed, it’s one box and I’m pretty sure Provenza’s ninety year-old mother could carry it.” She smirked.
Flynn chuckled and waited for her as she stepped out of the elevator when the doors rattled open, “And I’m pretty sure Provenza doesn’t have a ninety year-old mother.”
Sharon glanced over her shoulder as she walked towards her office, “Yeah well, you get the point.” Flynn grinned and shoved his hands into his pockets as he followed her past the FID officers, paying no attention to the glares Joe and Peter sent his way while Natalie snubbed him entirely after greeting Sharon warmly.
When they were safely in the seclusion of her office, Flynn hiked a thumb over his shoulder, “I don’t think they like me very much.”
Sharon chuckled as she pulled a set of keys out of her handbag and flicked through them until she found the one she wanted, “Can you blame them?” she scooted around him and unlocked a metal cabinet, “You can be a bit of a jackass.” She said as if she was telling him the sky was blue and the grass was green while bending down to pull out a cardboard box and putting it on the floor.
“So how come you like me?” he grinned boyishly at her, revelling in the delicate blush that coloured her cheeks.
She locked up the cabinet and threw the keys back in her bag, “I never said I liked you.” She smiled coquettishly and brushed her hair back away from her face.
Flynn took a quick glance around to make sure nobody was watching and strode briskly towards her, “yeah right” he growled, planting one hand firmly on her hip and the other at the nape of her neck and pulling her roughly towards him, eliciting a surprised yelp from her as his lips met hers in a heated caress.
Before she had a chance to process what was happening fast enough to be able to reciprocate, he broke away from her and moved just out of her reach, crossing his arms across his chest and smiling smugly at her. Sharon could feel herself beginning to blush furiously, which only widened his smile, “Shut up, Flynn.” She glared at him.
Andy moved his hands back into his pockets and rocked back and forth on his heels, “I didn’t say anything.” He said, his voice victorious and his eyes twinkling.
Sharon placed both her hands on her hips and tried to make herself look as imposing as possible, remembering the days when her children were still short enough to be intimidated when she disciplined them, “Maybe not, but I can almost guarantee you were thinking something entirely inappropriate.”
He took a small step forward and shrugged, “Only how I’d like to do that again,” he replied nonchalantly.
Sharon flung her hand out and pointed a finger at him to make him stop from taking another step forward, “Don’t you dare!” her words tempered by the hint of amusement he could hear in her voice. He held his hands up in surrender and smirked at her, “You followed me down here so you can at least make yourself useful and grab that box.” She told him pointing to the forgotten cardboard box.
“Thought you said my masculine prowess wouldn’t be needed.” He reminded her.
Sharon shrugged and pointed at the box again, “You’re here so I might as well take advantage of you.” She arched an eyebrow to tell him she wasn’t joking. Deciding it was best to simply do as he was told, Flynn bent down to pick up the box, groaning when his stiff and sore muscles began to protest again. Sharon quickly stepped to his side, “You okay?” she asked him, her concern evident.
Flynn nodded and stretched slightly, “Fine, just still a little sore after Saturday.”
Assured that he wasn’t about to collapse, Sharon took a step back out of his personal space, “Really?”
He nodded again and looked at her, “Yeah, why? Aren’t you?” he frowned when she smirked and shook her head lightly, “How’d you manage that?”
“I’ve been skiing enough times to know that a hot bath afterwards does wonders.” Flynn shook his head in disbelief, “You should try it some time.”
At this he scoffed and let her lead him out of her office, “I would but I’m not a girl,” when she stopped in her tracks and whipped around to glare at him, he amended, “woman, sorry.” Sharon rolled her eyes and continued on her way back up to the Major Crimes murder room.
When they arrived Sharon saw that Agent Howard was back from speaking to some of his colleagues and was lounging around by a spare desk studying the file that Brenda had been perusing when they had left. He nodded politely to her and Flynn and smiled when Flynn dropped the box he was carrying on Provenza’s desk, smirking at the disgruntled lieutenant.
Brenda looked over from where Tao was trying to over-explain something concerning Jennifer Masters’ laptop to the completely clueless deputy chief. Taking their arrival as a way to duck out of her computer lesson, she waltzed over to the box and immediately started digging through the files, pulling out photographs and reports.
Fritz joined her and took a file that contained photographic copies of fingerprints that had been collected at the warehouse by SID eleven years previously, “I’ll give copies of these to my guys, see if they can get any hits of them, if you didn’t back then, we might be able to now.” Sharon smiled appreciatively.
After a few minutes of rooting through the box, Brenda looked up to see Sharon and Andy practically twiddling their thumbs, “It’s goin’ to take a while to sort through all this, why don’t you two take Sergeant Gabriel and go to the hospital. By the time you get there ya’ll might get a chance to have a little chat with our friend Domino.”
Flynn was surprised at her obvious inclusion of Sharon, and when Sharon looked at him and met his eyes he could see that she was too. Shrugging at each other they began collecting their things, “Sure thing, Chief,” Flynn said, pulling his jacket on as he trailed Sharon towards the door, calling “C’mon Gabriel” over his shoulder.
Gabriel sat scowling in the back of the car, after a brief argument in the car park over who was sitting where, with both Andy and Sharon pulling rank in the end, he had been exiled to the back seat for the ride to the hospital. Sharon was sitting quietly, her hands wrapped tightly together in her lap, watching the passing Los Angeles streets but not really seeing them. Every now and then, Flynn glanced over at her to check that she was okay, his concern at her sudden withdrawal glimmering in his eyes. As Gabriel observed the two of them, he realised that he would never really understand either of them and whatever connection it was that they shared.
When they eventually arrived at the hospital, Flynn noticed that Sharon seemed hesitant. Seeing her eyeing the looming building warily, he thought she looked almost like a lost child. Leaning slightly across the armrest, he touched her arm softly to capture her attention, “Are you okay?”
Sharon jolted out of her daze when she felt warm fingers gently caress her arm. Aware that Gabriel was watching them from the back seat, she gave him a slight nod and rolled her lips together, “Lets just get this over with.” She answered somewhat icily. Flynn nodded, catching her ‘leave me alone’ vibes and climbing out of the car.
A frazzled admissions nurse confronted them at the front desk, shushing Gabriel when he politely tried to get her attention and going back to flipping through files on the desk, signing sheets and picking up post-it notes. Flynn sighed and pulled out his badge and tapped it repeatedly on the edge of the desk when she ignored Gabriel again. Glaring at him, she arched a perfectly manicured eyebrow, “How can I help you?” she asked haughtily.
Flynn smirked and leaned against the desk casually, “Lieutenant Andy Flynn,” he indicated to his companions, “Captain Sharon Raydor, Sergeant David Gabriel, LAPD. We’re here to talk to Antonio Dominguez, could you tell us what room he’s in please?”
The nurse tapped away at the computer and scowled and the screen briefly before turning back to face Flynn, “It says here that Mr. Dominguez is not allowed visitors.”
Flynn groaned and shoved his badge back in his pocket, “Is there any way we can talk to him for a few minutes? We have a few questions regarding a murder investigation.”
The nurse seemed momentarily shocked about this new information; it was already common knowledge among the nursing staff that the man in room 203 had been shot twice by a police officer after breaking into a house. Now the idea that the man some of her friends were taking care of had been involved in a murder sent an involuntary shiver down her spine.
She chewed on her bottom lip nervously and eyed the three officers in front of her, “I’ll call his doctor and ask her to come down to talk to you.” She was glad to see that the silver haired lieutenant seemed satisfied with her answer and reached for the phone.
When she hung up she gave a small smile to the three of them, “Doctor Gates will be down in a few moments, in the meantime, why don’t you take a seat.” She gestured behind them to a set of unoccupied chairs. Gabriel smiled in thanks and went to the chairs, dropping unceremoniously into one and sighing contentedly.
Flynn waited to see if Sharon was also going to take a seat and frowned when she moved over to them, but instead of sitting began pacing along the small row. Just when he was about to interrupt her fifth circuit and order her to sit down, a young, short brunette woman with large blue eyes and an inviting smile approached the group. She seemed at home in the hospital, and the air of authority she exuded told Flynn that she was most likely Antonio Dominguez’s doctor.
Stopping just short of Flynn she extended her hand and waited for him to take it, “I’m Doctor Mina Gates, you’re here to see Mr. Dominguez?” she released Flynn’s hand and crossed her arms across her chest.
Gabriel stood from his chair and moved to stand next to Flynn, “Yes ma’am, we were wondering if it was at all possible for us just to ask Mr. Dominguez a few questions.” He gave her a charming, easy smile and slipped his hands into his pockets.
She wasn’t impressed however and flitted her eyes quickly between the three officers, silently assessing them, “I’m sorry but Mr. Dominguez can’t have any visitors just yet.”
Flynn sighed in frustration, “Five minutes, just a few quick questions that we really need to get out the way to continue our investigation.” When she didn’t respond and continued to stare at him he decided to change tactics and gestured to Sharon, “Captain Raydor here is investigating the events of his shooting, namely the officer who shot him.”
Sharon stopped her pacing and looked at him surprised for a second before quickly picking up on the conversation. Stepping forward pulled out her FID identification and showed it to the doctor, “Its important to get all the information and facts as quickly as possible in an officer involved shooting.” She supplied easily, holding her breath as the doctor thought over their options.
After a long moment, Mina sighed with resignation and bowed her head, “I’ll give you five minutes and that’s it. If there’s any sign that Mr. Dominguez is becoming agitated or upset I’m going to have to ask you to leave.” She pinned both Flynn and Raydor with a look to show them she was serious before turning on her heel, gesturing for them to follow her up to room 203. Flynn gave Sharon a victorious grin and walked by her side while Gabriel increased his pace to match that of the doctor.
Reaching the room, Flynn noticed that Domino had been given a private room, which would make it easier for officers to be assigned to make sure he didn’t try any escape plans before he was released into LAPD custody. As he went to open the door, Doctor Gates blocked his way and stared up at him in a way that despite her small stature, intimidated Flynn, “I will be standing right out here monitoring Mr. Dominguez’s vitals at the nurses station. If they get anywhere near where it could be dangerous for him in his condition, I will ask you to leave.” She stated firmly, the finality of her tone giving no room for argument.
Flynn nodded his agreement, “Deal,” and waited for her to move out of the way of the door. She eyed him warily before hesitantly sliding away, watching as Andy and Sharon stepped into the room and smiling lightly when Gabriel thanked her and walked with her to the nurses station, leaving Flynn and Raydor to ask their questions.
Like what Sharon considered a stereotypical hospital room, the one currently housing their suspect was made up a stark white walls, completely devoid of both emotion and homeliness, with sickly green curtains, dull overused furniture and completed with that sterile, antiseptic odour that is unique to hospitals and doctors surgeries.
She wrinkled her nose in distaste at being back in a hospital room and stepped closer to the bed, frowning when she laid eyes on Antonio Dominguez. After closely studying the crime scene and morgue photographs for the Jennifer Masters case, she had been expecting a large, brawny man with dead unemotional eyes and a bad temper, if the damage inflicted to Jenny before she died was any indication. Instead she was confronted with a scrawny, almost weasel-like man cowering under the sheets like a scared rabbit.
She glanced at Flynn and immediately noticed he shared her disbelief, his face a perfectly carved display of surprise. The man in the bed watched them both through rapidly blinking eyes, measuring up the two of them like they were a pair of lions, trying to decide which of them was the bigger threat.
Flynn tipped his head to Sharon almost imperceptibly, silently giving her the go ahead to take the lead while he moved to the corner of the room and made himself look as intimidating as possible; leaning lazily against the wall, pulling a toothpick out of his pocket and slipping it between his teeth, crossing his arms across his chest and scowling at the man in the bed he repressed a grin when he was sure he heard the other man whimper.
Sharon placed both hands on her hips and stared down at the man in the bed through her glasses, “You are Antonio Dominguez?” she asked him in her usual controlled and calculated monotonous tone. The man responded with a jerky nod of his head, “And you are a member of the Los Diablos Rojos, is that correct?” Another jerk of the head followed and he began twisting the bed sheets in his shaking hands.
“Theys find out I’m in ‘ere I’m as good as dead.” Flynn tilted his head to the side in interest, “Man, theys probably got a hole already with my name on it, you know what I’m sayin’?”
Flynn smirked and moved his toothpick from one side of his mouth to the other, “Oh yeah, I know what you’re saying,” Domino blinked rapidly again and twitchily scratched at the crease of his elbow.
“Why would your gang members want you dead?” Sharon asked slowly, watching as Domino’s expression morphed from simply scared to terrified.
He bit his lower lip and went back to wringing the sheets in his hands, “That bitch got rid o’ my stash,” he paused and turned his gaze to Sharon again, hoping she would be more sympathetic than Flynn looked, “Boss-man gave it me to deal, you know, said it was worth a large chunk o’ dough.”
Flynn moved out of his corner to the foot of the bed, capturing Domino’s attention with his movements, “You hid it at Jennifer Master’s house?” When he nodded jerkily again, Sharon reached into her pocket and pulled out her small notepad and a pen and started taking notes.
“Yeah man, left it there fo’ safe keepin’ while I found a buyer. Went back to get it an’ she’d flushed it,” his voice rose in volume as his anger crept into it, “Bitch said she didn’t nothin’ like that in her house no more an’ she didn’t wanna see me no more.”
“So you brutally attacked her and left her to die.” Sharon stated coolly.
Domino blanched under Sharon’s icy gaze, “Theys gonna kill me when theys find out, Boss-man don’t forgive stuff like that!”
As Sharon continued to talk to the scared man and take notes on his answers, Flynn began to think about the possibility of a deal for him; a reduced sentence if he cooperated and gave them damning information on the gang. When he sensed Sharon coming to the end of her line of questioning, he pulled out his phone and requested a police guard to keep an eye on their new ‘friend’.
Sharon sighed heavily and rubbed at her temples, already exhausted and it was only mid-afternoon. Stepping outside the room with Flynn she handed him her notebook and let him read through her neat curving script, “He said he’s been in the gang for six years, so he won’t know anything about what happened at the warehouse.” She told him in a small, disappointed voice, avoiding his gaze when he looked down at her with concerned eyes.
Slowly he reached down and briefly squeezed her hand hoping to reassure her, “If we can convince the DA to cut him a deal, we might be able to squeeze some more information out of this creep.” He replied, watching the corner of her lips twitch upwards in the tiniest of smiles.
She gave a soft hum and closed her eyes, “Maybe.”
Flynn grimaced as he felt the punches rain onto his body over and over again. Pain was overloading his senses and there was not a damn thing he could do about it. A sharp pain seared through his torso as he felt at least two of his ribs give way, caving under the stress of the assault. Whenever he breathed in he chocked on dust and spluttered, the action causing even more flashes of agony to ignite his nerve-endings.
He tried to move but couldn’t, he could hear the echoes of voices yelling, pained grunts, jeers, feet shuffling as his attackers adjusted their stances, preparing for another round. And finally, as darkness crept into his field of vision, clouding what little he could see, he heard the bangs.
Flynn startled awake, reaching for the gun he kept under the pillow on the empty side of his bed. Trying to control his erratic breathing he glanced around his bedroom with sleep-disoriented eyes, seeking out anything even remotely out of the ordinary. As he slowly woke up fully, he winced as a remnant of pain pulsed through his torso.
Sighing, he put the safety back on his gun and slipped it back underneath the pillow, massaging his ribs as the psychosomatic pain of old broken ribs eased. Glancing over at his alarm clock he saw that it was only 1am, groaning when he calculated that he had only been asleep for two hours. He flopped back against his pillows and wiped his hands over his sweaty brow, frowning as he tried to forget his dream.
It was a dream that he had not had in a long, long time. After a half-dozen sessions with the department therapist when he’d first starting having the nightmares, he had been told that they were because of his feelings of frustration that the case was going nowhere, anger towards the gang members who were behind the attack, and most of all, the anger and guilt he aimed at himself for not being able to prevent it. Naturally he had told the shrink that he thought it was ‘complete and utter bullshit’ and ‘she had no idea what was going on inside his head’. Needless to say, he cancelled all his remaining sessions with her, adamant that he could deal with it by himself.
Now that he thought about it, he couldn’t help feeling that it was starting again now because they had reopened the case on his attack and Jack’s murder, dredging up all the deeply buried feelings that he had carefully locked away in his attempt to deal with losing his best friend.
Shaking his head, he rolled himself out of the bed and padded into the bathroom, shivering slightly as his bare feet came into contact with the cool tiles. Turning on the shower as hot as he could stand it, he waited until the small room filled with steam before settling himself underneath the almost punishingly hot water, letting it wash away the thin layer of perspiration on his skin and relax his tight muscles. He smiled lightly when he recalled what Sharon had told him about a hot bath doing wonders for sore muscles.
He rested his head against the cool tiles underneath the showerhead and let himself relax fully, taking deep, controlled breaths and releasing them slowly as allowed the water to wash away the after-effects of his nightmare. He stayed there until the water started to run colder. Resigning himself to the fact his method of relaxation was quickly coming to an end, he picked up the bar of soap and efficiently cleaned himself, finishing just as the water finally lost all of its warmth.
Wrapping a towel around his waist, he wiped the layer of steam off the front of the mirror and frowned at what he saw. Already he could see the beginnings of dark circles underneath his eyes, could almost imagine the stress lines that would mark his face when this is case was but to bed. If it ever was.
Running his hand across his cheeks, he registered the prickle of his stubble but decided against shaving in favour of silently walking through his apartment towards his small kitchen, grabbing a pair of boxers in the process, where he began making himself a coffee, well aware that he wouldn’t be falling back to sleep for the rest of the night.
Taking his coffee he moved into the living room and deposited himself onto his worn but comfortable couch and put his feet up on the battered wooden coffee table. Glancing around the small space he wondered what he could do to keep himself busy while he waited for an hour to arrive where it would be acceptable to show up at the police department. He considered watching television but after a moments thought rejected the idea; not only would there be nothing on at this time to hold his interest, the walls between the apartments may as well have been paper thin and he knew he wasn’t the only one on his floor who had to work in the morning.
Staring at his cup of coffee, he thought that he would need tankers worth of coffee to keep him alert tomorrow. He smirked and briefly wondered if he could convince Doctor Morales to insert an IV line of the stuff directly into his arm to save him time in making a fresh cup every thirty minutes or so. Taking a long sip of the steaming liquid, he smiled contentedly as it slid down his throat and the warmth pooled in his stomach before spreading outward.
His smile faded when his phone began to ring. Frowning at the offensive noise he glanced at the time glowing on the face of his DVD player. Seeing that was going up to 2am, he could feel a pang of anxiety sweep through him, who would be calling him at this time?
Putting his feet on the floor, he bent over and snagged his phone off the coffee table. A quick glance at the caller ID told him it was Sharon. His eyebrows shot up in surprise as he pressed the talk button and held the phone to his ear, “Sharon?” He was greeted with silence and his frown returned as he waited for her to speak, “Sharon, you okay?” he asked gently, trying to keep his growing anxiety out of his voice.
As he strained to listen he could just make out the soft sounds of her breathing on the other end of the line. He dipped his head and rubbed his hand across his forehead and was just about to speak when she beat him to it, “I’m sorry if I woke you.” It was quiet; apologetic and hesitant, but at least it was something.
Leaning back into the cushions of the couch, Flynn put his feet back up on the coffee table, “Hey you didn’t wake me,” he reassured her, “You couldn’t sleep either huh?”
On the other end of the line, Sharon was sat in the dark leaning against the headboard of her bed. She bit her lower lip and pulled her knees up, cradling them to her chest with her free hand, “Yeah, I, er, just can’t seem to get my brain to switch off tonight.” She smiled wryly to herself, “What about you?”
Flynn sighed and switched the phone to his other ear before he responded, “Bad dream, nothing serious.”
Sharon frowned and pulled her duvet closer around her, “Wanna talk about it?” she asked him slowly, although knowing Flynn, he wouldn’t want to touch the subject of his feelings with a ten-foot barge pole.
She rolled her eyes when he answered, “No, I’m fine” in a dismissive voice which told her that in all probability, he most certainly wasn’t fine.
They allowed themselves to slip into a comfortable silence, content to listen to each other breathing softly for a few moments before Sharon spoke again, “I should let you get back to bed.” She slid from under the covers and walked over to her window, pulling the curtains across just enough so that she would be able to see the moon once she resumed her position leaning against the headboard.
“Hey, Sharon?” she hesitated by the window when she heard him; he sounded curious but cautious at the same time, as if he thought whatever he was about to ask her wouldn’t be the best idea.
She pulled the curtains open further and perched herself on the windowsill, leaning against the cool glass of the window, “Yeah?”
“Do you want to talk about it?” he asked her, turning his body until he was laid out on his couch, shifting until a particularly lumpy section disappeared.
“Talk about what?” she asked innocently although he could practically hear the frown on her face.
Tucking one hand behind his head on the arm of the couch he sighed, “How about we start with why you called me and we go from there?”
Sharon’s mind went completely blank. Why had she called him? At 2am no less. She chewed lightly on her lower lip as she thought about what she could say, although not understanding why he had been the first one she even considered calling or why she was even still awake didn’t really help with matters.
When he said her name again she decided to risk the possibility of extreme teasing and embarrassment and would simply go for the truth, “I don’t know why I called you.” She said quietly. Shivering lightly from the chill of the window glass she hopped back into her bed and pulled the covers up to her chin, not even aware that Flynn had remained silent. Once she was settled, her brain began to focus back onto the phone still held to her ear, “Andy? Are you still there?”
Something inside him urged him to get dressed and drive straight over to her house right at the moment. She had sounded so vulnerable; like a small, lost child crying out for help. At the sound of her voice, it was like a switch had been flicked and all he wanted to do was to hold her and comfort her until it was all over, until she could get back to living her life without this constant shadow following her.
Instead he settled for what he considered second best and just talk to her. “Yeah, I’m here, Ronnie.” He didn’t how much the simple use of her old nickname comforted her at that moment, and she would never tell him. “Are you in bed?”
She paused for a second before cautiously confirming that she was. Flynn nodded even though she couldn’t see him and made himself more comfortable on the couch, taking a long sip of his coffee before closing his eyes, “I’m not going to get anymore sleep tonight but you still can.” Sharon frowned lightly, wondering where he was going with this. “Lie down and close your eyes, Ronnie. I’ll talk to you until you go to sleep.”
The light command in his tone made Sharon smile. She had never had anyone talk her to sleep before, but right now, the sound of his voice was exactly what she needed to hear so she complied.
He talked to her in a soft, soothing voice for nearly an hour, occasionally getting small noises of acknowledgment from her or tiny peals of laughter when he recounted some of his adventures with Provenza. He heard her breathing soften and even out while he was telling her about the time a suspect had ordered a hit on her husband only for the hit man to kill the man she was having an affair with instead, but still he talked to her; subconsciously letting her know that he was there for her.
Sugar. That’s what she needed, in abundance. Brenda Leigh Johnson stalked through the empty murder room and into her office, breathing a loud sigh of relief as she came within feet of her candy drawer. Her mouth began to water in anticipation of the sugary snack as she reverently unwrapped a Ding Dong and inhaled the sweet chocolaty smell and she felt her stress begin to immediately melt away with the first bite of the cake.
After spending most of the morning talking to Antonio Dominguez, trying to squeeze as much useful information out of him as she could, Brenda wanted to be pretty much anywhere other than her office. Preferably curled up at home on her couch with Joel and Fritzi nursing a huge glass of merlot. She sighed again and took another bite of her vice; you can’t have everything.
Sitting behind her desk, her eyes caught sight of the pile of paperwork she had yet to complete on Antonio Dominguez’s transfer after his doctors had given them the all clear to have him moved, “Oh for heavens sake.” She mumbled to herself as she began sifting through the mountain of paper, separating anything what was considered urgent and what could be left until later.
With the other members of the squad out chasing down confidential informants and contacting friends in high places and other departments for the chance of gaining any new information on the Red Devils, Brenda was left to mope in her office and wait until anything new turned up. She considered calling Fritz to see if the FBI’s fingerprint lab had managed to turn up any results on the fingerprints he had sent them. She immediately tossed the idea when she realised that considering the important and personal nature of this case for the LAPD, he would call as soon as he heard anything new.
She licked a dab of the cream filling off her lip and sank into her plush chair. Something had been niggling at the back of her mind all day, something which she wasn’t entirely sure was important, at least not to the case (she hoped). She just couldn’t shake the feeling that she was missing or forgetting something; like trying to remember a dream, it was right on the edge of her mind but just out of the grasp of conscious thought, a fact that made her wholly frustrated.
After carefully wrapping the remainder of the Ding Dong in its foil wrapper, Brenda placed it back in her drawer and went out into the murder room and stood by the murder board. She slipped on her glasses stared intently at the pictures of the crime scene at the warehouse for several minutes, taking in the smears of blood where Andy had been beaten, the pool of blood where Jack had been shot, pieces of broken glass, later identified as coming from glass chemistry beakers, which had most likely been smashed in the haste of the cleanup or the scuffle of the fights.
There was that feeling again. She was missing something, and she didn’t like it. She liked having all the answers before she asked the questions, something that had become deeply ingrained while she had been a part of the CIA. Giving a frustrated huff when no new information was immediately forthcoming from staring at the pictures, Brenda moved over to Flynn’s desk and picked up the case file.
It wasn’t a particularly large file, mostly containing the original report and documented photo’s of Flynn’s injuries and whatever evidence they had managed to gather, which was very little. One thing, however, did catch her eye as she was placing the file back on his desk.
A small scrap of yellow paper, most likely from a post-it note Brenda thought absently, was tucked inside the frame of the photograph on the desk. Naturally curious as she was, Brenda took the paper and glanced at the neat, cursive script that covered it.
Thank you for last night.
Brenda frowned. Why did this seem so familiar? Again she couldn’t put her finger on it, just another thing to add to the already persistent niggling in the back of her mind. Returning the slip of paper to its place tucked in the photo frame, Brenda went back into her office, picked up the phone and dialled Fritz.
“Fritzi, I was wonderin’ if you had heard anything about those fingerprints you took?” she asked as soon as he answered the phone.
Down the line she could hear him sigh, “And ‘hello’ to you too, honey.” Brenda winced at his mildly sarcastic tone and reached for the remainder of her Ding Dong.
“Hello Fritzi,” she emphasised her accent and quickly unwrapped the cake, sticking her finger into the filling and licking it off, “So what about those fingerprints?”
“I was just about to call you actually. We got a hit off one of them,” he paused and she could hear paper rustling in the background, “A mister Juan Lopez, arrested for possession with intent to deal a few years ago, he’s out on parole.”
Brenda sat forward in her seat and placed her full attention on her husband, completely oblivious that the rest of the squad were slowly filtering into the murder room, “Well it looks like we can add the murder of a police officer to his résumé. Do you have an address for our Mr. Lopez?”
“Yeah, I’ve got a bunch of guys out to roll him up right now,” before Brenda had a chance to protest he continued, “but don’t worry, they know to bring him straight to you.”
Brenda smiled and relaxed into her chair, “Thank you, Fritzi.” She told him. Her relief was clear in her tone but it didn’t stop him from picking up on the frustration she was feeling.
“Brenda?” he asked hesitantly. She only hummed in reply around a mouthful of cake. “What’s the matter?”
She swallowed quickly and furrowed her brow, “What do you mean?” she asked innocently.
“I can tell something’s bothering you.”
Brenda looked out to the murder room and watched as Flynn organised some of the papers on his desk, “It’s nothing.” She replied too quickly for his liking.
“Brenda.” His voice was encouraging, exasperated and warning, warning her not to lie to him.
“It’s silly.” She chewed lightly on her lower lip and listened to him give a frustrated sigh, she could almost imagine him throwing his hands up in the air and walking away if they had been at home. “It’s just a note I found on Lieutenant Flynn’s desk, it’s really none of my business.”
“But it’s bothering you anyway.” She made a small sound of confirmation. “What did it say?” he asked. She told him and he couldn’t help the grin that stretched across his face.
“Something about it just seems so familiar and I can’t figure it out.” She huffed, “It’s drivin’ me crazy.” She pressed her fingertips into her temple and massaged it gently.
“Sharon.” Fritz said simply, leaning back into his chair, switching the phone to his other ear and waiting for the irate ranting to begin.
Instead all he got was a confused “excuse me?”
He chuckled lightly, “Captain Raydor. Lieutenant Flynn called her ‘Ronnie’ when we were telling her about the gang connection to your murder.” He grinned when she stayed silent; processing the new information about the woman she considered her adversary and her lieutenant.
“You gotta be kiddin’ me?” Fritz laughed at her incredulous tone, “Ooh for heaven’s sakes!”
He listened to her ramble about ‘that woman!’ and ‘how could he?!’ for a minute or two before he tried to gently get her attention, which would have been more simple if they were in the same room together.
“Now, honey, don’t say or do anything stupid. You were right before, it’s not any of your business.” She huffed angrily down the phone, “Lieutenant Flynn is a big boy, I’m sure he can take care of himself.”
Brenda clenched her teeth and glared as she saw Sharon Raydor enter the murder room, “Fritzi, I have to go.” Ignoring his protests, she hung up and threw her Ding Dong back into the candy drawer; she would need it later.
Marching out of her office, hands firmly on her hips, she pinned the fiercest glare she could muster onto Flynn and Raydor who were talking in low tones, “You two. My office. Right now.”
If Flynn were a dog he would have his tail tucked firmly between his legs as he flinched at the angriness of his superior officer’s voice. Bowing his head, he walked slowly into her office, Sharon following close behind, her expression as usual giving nothing away. He could tell the Chief was most certainly not happy when she violently pulled on the string to snap the blinds closed and moved to stand behind her desk, glasses low on her nose, hands on her hips and her eyes throwing fireballs at the pair of them.
“How long have you two been datin’?” she was momentarily pleased when Sharon’s expression morphed into that of a startled deer. When neither of them answered immediately she angrily tapped her foot against the floor, “Well?”
Flynn blanched and glanced guiltily at Sharon who was taking a deep interest in a spot of nonexistent dirt on the floor. Brenda frowned and dropped into her chair, “I take it you haven’t informed your superior, Cap’n?” Sharon quickly jerked her head in confirmation.
“I was gonna tell you Chief, just as soon as something happened.” Flynn glanced at Sharon again, “If something happened.”
Brenda took off her glasses and dropped them carelessly onto her desk, “You’re not makin’ any sense, Lieutenant.”
Flynn shuffled uncomfortably and buried his hands in his pockets like a guilty child, “We’re not exactly dating, Chief.”
Brenda was getting another headache, and seriously regretting her curious nature, “Oh for heaven’s sakes.” She mumbled, closing her eyes and wishing for them both to disappear. When she opened them she was disappointed to see they were both still stood in front of her desk looking sheepish. “You know what? I don’t even want to know.”
Flynn let out a breath that he didn’t even realise he had been holding and prepared himself to bolt out the office door as soon as they were dismissed from the lecture. “If this interferes with your jobs-” she let her words hang in the air and stared pointedly at Flynn who was thinking back to Gabriel and Daniels’ doomed relationship.
Sharon glared at Brenda at the suggestion but said nothing. Brenda tilted her head slightly towards the door to show that they could leave. Flynn made a mad dash back to his desk while Sharon was stopped by Brenda’s hand on her arm.
“I consider Lieutenant Flynn a friend, Cap’n Raydor. If you hurt him, I’ll have you bumped back down to Patrol so fast it’ll made your head spin.” Brenda’s eyes were steely and her voice cold underneath the cheerful Georgian accent.
Sharon lips quirked into a tiny smirk and she tilted her head in challenge, “Good to know.” She turned on her heel and walked to the officer door, pausing and glancing over her shoulder when she reached it, “Chief.” She added as an afterthought, closing the door behind her.
Brenda was left fuming, “Oh! That woman!” she stalked back to her desk and occupied herself with the last bites of the Ding Dong, now wishing more than ever she was at home with a huge glass of merlot.
Sharon sank slowly into the chair that Buzz pulled out for her in the electronics room. Behind her she could sense Flynn glowering at the computer screen on the table in front of her and Buzz where a man looking to be in his mid-thirties was pacing the width of the interview room. To her left, Buzz was pushing buttons and turning dials to the right settings. Feeling her gaze on him, he gave her a quick smile and pressed the button on the microphone in front of him, “Okay Chief, we’re all set up in here.”
Sharon heard the interview room door open a moment later and watched as Chief Johnson and Agent Howard came into view and sat at the table. Fritz gestured to Juan Lopez to take a seat while Brenda rummaged through her bag and pulled out her glasses, slipping them on before setting the bag at her feet.
Lopez noisily pulled out his chair and flopped down onto it, rolling the sleeves of his red-checked shirt up as far as he could to reveal chiselled biceps extensively decorated with tattoos. Sharon glanced over her shoulder at Flynn and was unsurprised to see that every muscle of his body seemed tense; it was exactly the same way she was feeling.
“Good afternoon, Mr. Lopez, I’m Deputy Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson and this here is Agent Fritz Howard with the FBI.” Brenda kicked off, watching as Lopez’s eyes darted between her and Fritz and occasionally to the door and back again.
Lopez merely grunted in response and sneered at the sound of the southern accent. Brenda smiled sweetly and reached for the black bag at her feet and pulled out the case file she had taken of Flynn’s desk and the file of background information she had had dug up on Lopez. “You’re a busy man, Mr. Lopez,” she began, pausing to smile up at him, “Drug possession and dealing. I see there’s even a charge of assault here too.”
Lopez leaned forward in his chair and rested his thick forearms on the table, “That charge was dropped.” He glared at her and pulled his top lip back slightly to reveal crooked teeth.
Brenda arched an eyebrow and smirked, “Well good for you, but I’m afraid this charge won’t be dropped anytime soon, that I can assure you.”
“I ain’t done nothin’.” He said stubbornly, his fists clenching where they rested on the table.
Brenda flipped through one of the files until she came to what she was looking for, “Maybe not recently, but eleven years ago you helped to severely beat one LAPD officer, Lieutenant Andrew Flynn, and murder another, Lieutenant Flynn’s partner Detective Jack Raydor.” Her voice rose in volume as she spoke, all the while she pulled out pictures of the warehouse and Flynn’s injuries, violently slapping them down onto the table in front of Lopez.
In the electronics room, Sharon tried to control her breathing and keep it slow and even, not that she was having much luck. She knew she didn’t need to watch the interview. She knew that if anybody were going to be able to raise a confession from this guy, it would be Brenda Leigh Johnson. She heard Flynn moved closer behind her and felt his hands grasp the back of her chair, his knuckles lightly brushing her shoulders when she leaned back. Taking a deep breath, she focussed her attention back on the computer screens in front of her, where Lopez was busy loudly protesting his innocence.
“I didn’t kill that guy, it weren’t me!” he bellowed.
“Well if it wasn’t you, who was it? Because your fingerprints are all over that crime scene,” Brenda took off her glasses and placed them on top of the files in front of her, “and with no other suspects, this is gonna fall solely on you. And I promise you, I will try my hardest to make sure you get the death penalty.” Her voice was low and menacing, so much so that it sent a shiver down Flynn’s spine as he watched.
Lopez’s eyes darted over to Fritz and stayed there, as of silently pleading him to call off the dogs. Fritz gave him a thin smile and folded his hands together on the table surface, “I’m sure Chief Johnson might be able to convince the DA to be more lenient in exchange for your cooperation.”
“On the other hand, I sure I could find some other way to convince you.” She smiled sweetly at him, “I’m sure Lieutenant Flynn would love to have a talk with you.”
Lopez’s eyes widened briefly at the underlying threat before his expression became smug, “I’m sure your Internal Affair bigwigs would frown on that.” He chuckled and crossed his arms across his chest.
Sharon and Flynn watched as Brenda turned her head to look directly into the interview room camera for a few seconds before focussing on Lopez again, “Normally they would, but when the officer you murdered was married to an IA captain, I’m sure she would be more than happy to look the other way.” She hissed.
Sharon felt her draw drop at the blatant threat behind the chief’s words and stiffened when an errant thought crossed her mind; maybe she wanted Andy to have the chance to confront one of the people who put him in the hospital and killed his partner, maybe she would gladly look the other way.
Andy saw Sharon tense and shifted his hand on the back of her chair so that he could lightly massage her shoulder with his thumb without Buzz seeing. He felt her shiver slightly before she relaxed and leant into his hand. He knew what was going through her mind at that moment because it was the same thought running through his own.
Lopez was staring at Brenda with utter disbelief, his eyes wide and his mouth hanging open. Flynn couldn’t see Brenda or Fritz’s faces but he was sure they were smiling, however grimly it might have been. “Y-you can’t do that.” His voice wavered just slightly and Brenda new she was close to cracking him.
She gave a quick look to Fritz and shrugged quickly, scooping up her files and glasses and dumping them into her bag as she stood, “Alright then.” She twirled on her heel and walked to the interview room door, Fritz not far behind her.
Her hand had just touched the handle when Lopez called out to her, “No, no, no wait.” Brenda paused and turned to look at him, her eyebrow arched expectantly. “I’ll tell you, but I want assurances.”
Brenda frowned and placed her hands on her hips, “What kind of assurances?” She sat back in her chair and tilted her head to the side.
Lopez was silent for a moment, occasionally scratching the side of his head as he thought. Eventually he spoke, “Listen right. I was at that warehouse but I sure as hell didn’t kill that cop, I ain’t stupid.”
Sharon smiled lightly when Flynn scoffed behind her, “Yeah, right.”
“I’ll tell you their names, but I want assurance that I won’t go down for that cop’s murder when I didn’t do it.” He continued. Sharon glared at the computer screen, her jaw beginning to hurt from the force she was putting into clenching her teeth and she was pretty sure she was shaking in anger.
Flynn leaned down close to her ear, brushed her hair aside and gently squeezed her shoulder, “Calm down, Ronnie.” He whispered quietly enough that though Buzz could see them, he couldn’t hear what was being said. Sharon bit her lower lip and look a deep, soothing breath. She gave a quick jerky nod and turned around in her chair to push him gently back so she could stand.
She murmured a quick “I’ll be back in a moment” and left the room, Flynn stared after her long after the electronics room door closed behind her. Eventually he sighed and moved to fill the seat she had been occupying, listening as the chief assured their suspect that he would not be held responsible for the of Jack Raydor by the LAPD as long as the information he gave them was legitimate.
She handed him an LAPD notebook and a pen and told him to write down every name he could think of that was associated with the attack in the warehouse, also instructing him to mark the names who participated in the murder of Jack Raydor and give addresses of homes and hangouts where they would most likely be found.
When he was finished he slid the notepad and pen across the table and watched through narrowed eyes as Brenda slipped her glasses back on and skimmed down the list of names and addresses. She gave Fritz a smile and glanced at Lopez, “Thank you so much. Unfortunately for us, the statute of limitations for the assault of Lieutenant Flynn has expired, so I won’t be arresting you for that today.” She put the notepad in her bag and gestured to Fritz, “Now, Agent Howard here has some questions of his own.”
Fritz slipped on his own glasses and pulled out some papers from the file he had brought in with him, “Thank you, Chief Johnson.” He cleared his throat and sorted through the papers, “The FBI has had a task force keeping tabs on Los Diablos Rojos for several years now, and it has come to our attention at you and your gang are trafficking not only firearms and narcotics, but women as well.” Lopez diverted his gaze from the FBI agent and focussed on his clenched fists on the table. “I take from you reaction that you are aware of these activities within your gang.” Lopez gave a stiff nod and scratched at his head again, “In that case, since Chief Johnson here has no reason to hold you anymore, you will be taken in FBI custody and we can question you at our field office.” He glanced at Brenda who gave a nod of approval.
Flynn watched as Brenda and Fritz cleared up their papers and Fritz led a sulky looking Lopez out of the room in a pair of handcuffs. He didn’t hear when Sharon came back into the room until she was stood almost directly behind him, “They’re finished?” she sounded disappointed.
Flynn turned to face her and saw that her skin was now devoid of make-up and some of the front of her hair was damp, “Are you okay?” he asked her, reaching out to gently touch the damp section of her hair, completely oblivious to Buzz watching them.
She tried to make her face remain stoic but couldn’t stop the corners of her mouth from twitching up ever so slightly at his concern, “Fine. What did I miss?”
Before Flynn had a chance to answer her, Whirlwind Johnson entered the room in a flurry of floral skirts and bouncy blonde hair, “Lieutenant, could you please rustle up some officers to help us round up these names please? Thank you so much.”
Sharon frowned and put her hands in their customary place at her hips, “What names?” she looked at Flynn with an expectant expression on her face.
“The chief here managed to scare some names out of our friend Lopez.” He replied.
Sharon let out a breath she hadn’t even realised she’d been holding, “Really? I want to be part of the task force.” She turned to Brenda and made herself look as professional as possible, which of course, had no effect on the chief what so ever.
“Absolutely not.” Before Sharon cut begin to protest, Brenda cut her off my raising her hand, “As a family member you can be in no way involved in arresting these suspects.”
Sharon glared at Brenda even though she knew what she was saying was right. She let out a heavy sigh and dropped her head submissively, “I understand, Chief.”
Flynn was surprised when Brenda put a hand on Sharon’s arm and gave it a hesitant but comforting rub, “I’m sorry, Cap’n.” she said. He thought Sharon must have been just as surprised as he was because her head shot up and she stared at the chief with wide eyes.
“Thank you.” Sharon said in a small voice, not quite sure what had happened to the animosity between the chief and herself.
Flynn gently coughed to catch his superior officer’s attention, “When d’ya wanna go, Chief?” he asked so he could make sure the other officers on the task force would be ready.
Brenda looked at Sharon and gave her a small smile, “First thing in the mornin’, Lieutenant.”
His heart was beating wildly in his chest as he tightened the Velcro straps of his standard-issue body armour. He wasn’t planning on taking any chances this time. Sharon was watching him, her face a clear portrait of worry and stress. He knew how much she wanted to be a part of this operation, and to a certain extent he wanted her there too but a larger part of him wanted to be selfish and was glad to have her as far away from this as possible, if only so he knew that she was safe from harm.
Flynn double-checked the vest was secure before he reached into his desk drawer and pulled out his handgun, sliding in an ammo clip and tucking it neatly into his holster. Around him, the rest of the squad were going through similar motions; loading guns, storing spare clips in pockets and centring themselves for the coming task. Glancing at the chief’s office he could see her tying her hair back into a ponytail. She looked cool and collected and Andy wondered if she was actually as nervous as he felt.
Brenda walked slowly out of her office and stood solemnly in front of the murder board, hands on her hips, “Alright gentlemen,” all eyes fixed on her and the quiet whispers that had been passing between the other officers quickly died down, “we’ll be heading out in five minutes, I hope y’all are ready.” A series of affirmative grunts sounded throughout the room as everyone made last minute checks to ensure they had everything that would be needed.
Flynn checked his watch and mentally started counting down. This was it. He was finally going to get the chance to get the men who murdered his partner and give some closure to Sharon and the kids, just as he had promised himself he would do while he was lying in his hospital bed all those years ago.
He looked at her now. She was fidgeting, toying with the buttons on the sleeve of her Armani jacket as she observed the chaos of the preparations. Her eyes glided around the room and finally locked with Flynn’s. She gave him a weak smile when he beckoned her over with a tilt of his head.
She settled against his desk and tucked her hair behind her ear, “Hey.” She said softly.
Flynn reached up and took her hand, slowly interlacing his fingers with hers, “Hey. You doing okay?” he asked her.
She scoffed lightly and met his eyes, “Aren’t I supposed to be asking you that? You’re the one who’s about to go walking into a warehouse full of drug dealing, gun running gang members.”
Flynn raised his eyebrows at her and gently squeezed her hand, “Way to fill me with confidence Ronnie, I really appreciate it.”
Sharon made a small sound and pulled her lower lip between her teeth, “I’m sorry.” She looked quickly around the room before she leaned in closer to him, tightening her grasp on his hand, “You’ll be careful, won’t you?” Her voice wavered slightly as she spoke, “You won’t do anything stupid?”
He gave her a cocky smile and tapped the holster at his hip, “Don’t worry Ronnie, Chief’ll have my ass if I did, not to mention Provenza.”
Sharon’s eyes hardened and she glared down at him from her perch on the desk, “Forget the chief, I’ll have your ass if you do.”
Flynn chuckled and lightly massaged her back of her hand with the pad of his thumb, “Promises, promises.”
She gave him a look and pulled her hand away from his, “I’m serious, Andy.”
He frowned at the withdrawal and took a deep shuddering breath, “I know you are.” He watched her face and waited until her eyes met his again, “I promise I’ll be careful.”
She studied his dark eyes for a long moment before she released a breath and nodded. Flynn turned away from her and reopened his desk drawer and pulled out a toothpick. He slipped it between his teeth and chewed on it lightly, watching as Sharon gave a small smirk at the old habit.
Deciding to take a risk at a possible rejection, Flynn reached for her hand again and smiled when she didn’t stop him. “Just think Sharon, when this is all over you can start living your life again.” he ran his thumb over her knuckles and marvelled at how small her hand was compared to his, “Who knows, maybe you can have your white picket fence.”
He thought he felt something stab at his heart and twist when she gazed at him sadly, tears gathering beneath the barriers of her eyelashes, “I had my white picket fence, Andy.” She looked away from him and reached up with her free hand to defiantly swipe away an escaped droplet that lazily streaked a course down her cheek, “It didn’t last.” She said quietly, regretfully.
Flynn didn’t have a chance to respond before Chief Johnson called for everybody’s attention again and announced that it was time to leave. He ran the hand that wasn’t clutching Sharon’s over his face and let out a heavy sigh, “Here we go.” He muttered as he stood.
Sharon stood with him, not yet wanting to lose the feeling of her hand encompassed by his. He dropped his toothpick on his desk and gave her one of his trademark boyish smiles. Sharon felt a lump form in the back of her throat as he smiled at her and surprised herself by stepping closer to him and burying her face into his chest.
Flynn didn’t care that they were standing in the middle of Major Crimes. He could have cared less that Provenza was staring at the two of them with a mixture of shock and disgust and he certainly didn’t give a flying fuck that his superior officer was watching him with her hands on her hips, a glare on her features and practically clucking with annoyance and disapproval. He simply released Sharon’s hand and wrapped one arm around her waist, the other around her shoulders settling his hand on the back of her head, anchoring her to him tightly.
He dipped his head until it was resting comfortably against Sharon’s hair, just close enough to her ear that he could murmur comforting words to her without anybody else hearing. She shifted in his arms so that she could throw her arms around his neck and rest her chin against his shoulder.
“I’ve already lost one picket fence, Andy. Don’t make me lose another before it’s even started.” Her voice was soft, so much so that Andy almost thought that he had imagined it. He wanted to reassure her that everything would be just fine, but they had both been police officers long enough to know that nothing was a guarantee, things could go wrong without any form of warning.
The moment was broken by the indignant tones of Brenda Leigh Johnson, “Lieutenant, Cap’n, if you please.” Any other time and Flynn would have had to bite back the urge to either act sheepish around his superior or laugh in her face. This time he barely paid her any attention as Sharon pulled quickly away from him and wiped away more tears that had fallen down her face silently.
He rested his hand tenderly against her cheek and wiped away a tear she had missed with his thumb, “I’ll see you soon.” He told her, giving her an easy smile before walking away.
From the second he was out of her field of vision, Sharon felt lost. The one constant she had relied upon to help keep her sane through all this madness was suddenly nowhere near, and all Sharon could do about it was sit and wait. She thought about going down to her office and trying to do some work but she immediately discarded the idea; right now, trying to concentrate on officer involved incidents would be completely pointless, it would only lead her thoughts straight back to the upcoming raid on the Los Diablos Rojos warehouses.
Making her decision, Sharon sat in Flynn’s chair and took her phone out of her pocket.
Flynn sat brooding in the front passenger seat of Sanchez’s department Crown Vic. He could feel Provenza’s eyes burning a hole in to the back of his head. So far, nobody had said a word about anything, but he knew it wouldn’t last.
“So, you and the Wicked Witch huh?” Provenza finally broke the silence as the car was steered carefully around a corner, following the chief, Gabriel and Tao. Sanchez risked a quick glance over to Flynn once he had the car going in a straight line again.
Flynn glowered out the window, “I don’t want to hear it, Provenza.” He said with a note finality that apparently Provenza either missed or chose to ignore.
“No, no. I think this could be good for you.” Flynn twisted in his seat until he could see his partner enough to arch an eyebrow at him, “Maybe she’ll let things slide when you punch out a suspect.” Provenza continued, earning a snicker of amusement from Sanchez.
Flynn turned away from his friend and stared out the window at the passing buildings and cars, “It’s not like that. Sharon wouldn’t let anything affect her ability to do her job.” He said calmly.
Provenza snorted, “So it’s ‘Sharon’ now is it?”
Sanchez snickered again and slowed down for a red light, taking the opportunity to grin at Flynn, “She good in bed, Lieutenant? There’s gotta be somethin’ behind that icy exterior.”
Flynn sent Sanchez a look that easily said ‘you’d better shut the hell up before you find yourself outside this car’ and the detective returned his attention to the road, “It’s not like that.” Flynn emphasised. He turned around to look at Provenza when he made an outraged sound, “What?” he asked.
Provenza was staring at him with wide eyes and pointing a finger at him madly, “You,” he started, waving the finger he was pointing, “are in love with her.” he stuttered incredulously, “That’s why you haven’t slept with her yet!”
Flynn scoffed and turned his back to Provenza again, “We’re friends and I respect her.”
Provenza cried out again and slumped back in his seat, holding his hand over his face, “Oh sweet Jesus, he respects her,” he muttered to himself, “Chief is gonna blow a gasket when she finds out about this.”
Flynn chuckled, “Chief already knows, Provenza. Now can we concentrate on the job please?”
They lapsed into silence as they came closer and closer to the warehouses. They were only five minutes away when Provenza broke the silence yet again, “But Raydor? Really?”
Flynn groaned and gritted his teeth, “She may be FID but she’s still one of us.” He glanced over his shoulder to fix a glare on Provenza, “That’s something most of us have forgotten over the years.” He was surprised when Provenza gave him a tiny smile and nodded. Flynn took it for the closest thing to approval he was ever going to get and went back to going over a mental checklist of his equipment.
They hid the cars two blocks away from the warehouse and stood huddled together as they all went through last minute safety checks of weapons and armour. Ideally SWAT would be going in with them but the team had been sent to round up another warehouse on the other side of LA while Fritz and his FBI taskforce took care of the other addresses on the list that Juan Lopez had written for Brenda.
Brenda checked her watch and saw that it was nearly the prearranged time to enter the warehouse. Brenda had wanted the three taskforces storm the addresses at the same time to prevent any phone calls warning other members of the gang from being placed.
Another car pulled in quietly behind them and a balding man wearing body armour over his suit stepped out of the car. Two men and a woman, all looking to be in their late thirties and all wearing department issue vests, quickly followed him.
The balding man smiled and strolled up to Brenda, holding his hand out for her to shake, “Morning Chief Johnson. Commander Frank Jacobs, Gang and Narcotics Division.” He turned and grinned at Flynn, “How you doing Andy? Enjoying playing with the big boys?”
Flynn smirked and shook Jacobs’ hand, “Absolutely, Frank, it’s good to see you.”
Brenda took off her sunglasses so she could see the commander properly, “How can I help you, Commander?”
Jacobs turned his attention back to Brenda and smiled warmly at her, “Actually Chief, it’s how can I help you.” Brenda shook her head in confusion, “Captain Raydor called me, said you might like some help.” Brenda’s mouth dropped open in surprise and she looked quickly over to Flynn before turning her eyes back to the commander. “You see, Jack was a good friend of mine, was a good member of the team, and it seems only right that Gangs and Narco be involved in this, if you get my meaning, Chief.”
Brenda smiled and nodded, “Alright then, Commander. Since this is technically a gang case I’d say this falls under your job description.”
Jacobs dipped his head in appreciated and signalled to his team. One of the men went back to the car and returned a moment later carrying two double-barrel shotguns. He handed one to Jacobs and loaded the other for himself. The other man and the woman pulled out their handguns and each chambered a round, the Major Crimes squad quickly following their lead.
Brenda tightened her ponytail and tucked her sunglasses into the front of her shirt. Giving the rest of them a silent signal, two teams walked cautiously towards the seemingly abandoned warehouses, palms sweaty and hearts racing.
Sanchez crouched below a broken window ledge and shifted upwards inch by inch until he could peer inside the warehouse. He held his breath as he quickly surveyed what was in his field of vision before he dropped back down to his knees. He scooted away from the warehouse and headed towards the flatbed truck parked across from him where the rest of the Major Crimes and Gangs and Narcotics were hidden.
“What are we dealing with here, Detective?” Brenda asked him. The rest of the team crowded in closer to the chief and detective, Jacobs and Tao kept their eyes on the warehouse while they listened to Sanchez’s report.
“Counted six men, Chief. There were four unpacking a crate on the right-hand side of the room, I couldn’t see what was in it, and the other two looked to be standing guard near the rear.” He paused and gestured to the left side of the warehouse, “crates blocked my view of the left side of the room, Chief, so there could be more scumbags there that I couldn’t see.”
Brenda gazed at the warehouse for a long moment before she nodded, “Alright lady and gentlemen, there may be ten of us and only six of them as far as we know but I don’t want anybody getting over confident and making a mistake,” she looked pointedly at Jacobs and the people from his division, unsure of how they worked in the field.
The man cradling the double-barrel shotgun, who had later been introduced by Jacobs as Detective Dan Sparks, grinned and tapped his weapon affectionately, “No need to worry about us, Chief. We’ve done this a time or two.”
Flynn snorted, “Whatever you say Sparky.” Sparks, a tall, well-built man with close cut dark hair and handsome face, glared and Flynn and took an intimidating step towards him with a snappy retort hanging off the tip of his tongue only to be cut off by Chief Johnson.
“That’s enough, Lieutenant, Detective.” She arched an eyebrow in challenge at Sparks who dipped his head submissively and moved back to stand with the other members of his division. Jacobs chuckled at the scene and slapped Sparks on the shoulder as he passed.
“How d’ya wanna play this, Chief?” Flynn asked her. Brenda placed one hand on her hip and brought the other up to her mouth and chewed lightly on a fingernail as she thought, trying to ignore the pressuring gazes of the two squads.
“Commander Jacobs, I would like you, Lieutenant Provenza and Detective Sparks to circle round back and come in through the back door and take care of those two guards,” she waited for nods of acknowledgment from the three of them, “The rest of us will enter from the front.”
A chorus of ‘yes Chief’ sounded around her and she smiled tightly, “Lets get this over with then.” She had barely finished her sentence when service pistols were pulled out of holsters and shotguns were cocked.
Jacobs, Sparks and Provenza broke off from the group and started a wide circle of the warehouse, keeping low and out of visual range of the windows. Brenda waited until they were out of sight around a corner before she signalled to the rest of them to begin moving the short distance from the flatbed to the doors in the front of the warehouse.
They moved cautiously and quietly, trying not to draw any attention to themselves as they approached. Sanchez broke off to the left and crouched beneath the window. Peering slowly into the window again, he could see that the occupants were still exactly where they had been before. His heart started beating faster as one of the men inside bent over and his shirt rode up his back, revealing a glock tucked into the back of his jeans.
Dipping down to his knees, Sanchez snapped his fingers to catch the chief’s attention as she and the rest of the team positioned themselves around the closed doorway. When she looked at him, he motioned to the warehouse and then pointed at his eyes before holding up first four fingers, then one finger and finally seven fingers.
Brenda frowned and mouthed ‘four-one-seven’ at him, the California police code for person with a gun. Sanchez nodded moved slowly into position beside her. Brenda sighed and rubbed her head, “Oh for heaven’s sake. They couldn’t make it easy now, could they.” She whispered in exasperation. Sanchez threw an amused look at Flynn who shook his head.
Feeling his phone vibrating in his pocket, Flynn pulled it out and checked the message off Provenza, “They’re ready, Chief.” He whispered, leaning close to Brenda’s ear. She nodded in acknowledgment and signalled to Sanchez and Gabriel, who moved to take hold of the large bay doors.
Flynn pulled her back and pushed her gently towards the back of the pack of police officers crowding around the door. He ignored the glare she was giving him as she moved to stand with Tao, firearm at the ready. Shifting her gaze around the group, Brenda made sure to make eye-contact with everyone before holding her hand up and counting down from three on her fingers.
It seemed as if every member of the team took a deep collective breath and held it as Gabriel and Sanchez pulled the large bay doors open and stepped to the side to allow the flow of police officers to enter two at a time; Flynn and Gangs and Narcotics’ Marcus Jackson first, then Tao and the chief, closely followed by Gabriel and Sarah Raymont, the final member of the Gangs and Narcotics Division, with Sanchez bringing up the rear.
A cacophony of voices shouting ‘LAPD, drop your weapons, put your hands in the air!” echoed throughout the warehouse. Chaos quickly erupted as the Red Devil members unpacking the crates scattered. One was bold enough to reach into the crate and pull out an automatic rifle. A spray of bullets from Sanchez, Gabriel and Raymont had the man spiralling backwards in a series of jerking movements before he could position the gun at his shoulder and pull the trigger.
Hearing the gunshots and the yells of their comrade had two others falling to the ground and hiding their heads underneath their hands, only to be quickly handcuffed by Flynn and Tao with Brenda keeping her weapon trained on the two of them, finger hovering menacingly on the trigger guard.
Her attention was drawn away briefly at the sound of more shouting, the occasional colourful expletive thrown in around the flurry of Spanish words that she couldn’t understand. She glanced around the warehouse to see that Sanchez and Gabriel were nowhere to be seen and Raymont was helping Sparks and Jacobs to wrestle one brawny man to the ground while Provenza slapped a pair of bracelets onto the other rear guard.
In front of her she could hear Flynn and Tao reciting the Miranda rights to the men at her feet. She couldn’t believe it had all happened so fast. As the two members of her squad hauled the detained men to their feet, she trailed cautiously across to the other side of the warehouse. She pressed her fingers against the neck of the man who had been shot; she needn’t have bothered, his glassy gaze could have told her that he was dead.
Sighing heavily she moved over to where Sparks, Jacobs and Raymont had finally managed to restrain their struggling suspect. He glared at her as she watched him with curious eyes for a long moment before turning her attention to the only other woman on the team.
“Where are Detective Sanchez and Sergeant Gabriel?” she drawled. Raymont, who was breathing heavily from her tangle with the gang member, wiped a stray hair away from her sweaty forehead and pointed out the back door.
“They went after the last guy, Chief.” She puffed out, trying to regain her breath.
Provenza walked closer to her, an apologetic expression covering his face, “He ran straight past us, sorry Chief.”
Brenda waved her hand at him, “No apologies necessary, Lieutenant, I think y’all have done very well.” That earned her a tiny smile off the notoriously grumpy lieutenant.
Seeing Commander Jacobs watching her closely, Brenda extended a hand for him to shake, “Commander, I want to thank you for your help.”
The commander gave her a wide smile and shook her hand enthusiastically, “It’s been interesting to see how your division works, Chief, and I wanted to thank you for letting us be involved in this, most other division heads would be,” he paused and chuckled, rubbing his hand across his balding pate, “ah, hesitant to allow another division in on their collar.”
Brenda smirked and began to walk away, “I’ll take that as a compliment, Commander.” Jacobs laughed again and followed her over to the crate that was in the middle of being unpacked. She clucked her tongue as she bent over the crate, taking a quick inventory of its contents. She pulled out another gun and cradled it in her hands. Flynn stalked over to her and took the rifle out of her hands, expertly checking the see if it was loaded.
Grunting, he laid it carefully back in the crate, “Loaded Chief. It wouldn’t have been good if the gang got their hands on these to distribute.”
Brenda nodded her agreement and whirled round on her heel as she heard the voices of Sanchez and Gabriel approaching from behind. As they entered the warehouse through the front doors, she could see that they both shared the same expression; a mixture of sullenness, exasperation and annoyance. She placed her hands on her hips and gave them both expectant looks as she noticed the absence of the sixth Red Devil member.
The two colleagues stopped a few feet away from her, keeping their gazes firmly on the floor, reminding her of a puppy that knew it had done something wrong and was about to be punished.
Sanchez gave Gabriel a glare, effectively pulling rank and putting the ‘favourite’ in the line of fire for receiving the chief’s wrath. Taking a deep breath, Gabriel steeled himself and took a slight step forward, drawing his superior officer’s attention to him. “We lost him, Chief.” He murmured.
Brenda glanced between the two members of her squad and tapped her foot impatiently on the floor, “I can see that, Sergeant. How exactly did you lose him?”
Gabriel looked over his shoulder at Sanchez, “The guy ran through one of the other warehouses, Chief. Gabriel followed the guy while I went around back to try cut him off.” Sanchez started.
“I lost sight of him inside the warehouse, Chief. We couldn’t find him.” Gabriel finished, bowing his head, “Sorry Chief.”
Brenda sighed, “Well, there’s nothin’ we can do about it now. Why don’t you two help Tao, Sparks, Jackson and Raymont take our friends out to the cars please?” The two nodded and moved to leave only be stopped again, “Oh and would you mind calling in for some more patrol cars to help us get them back to Parker Center? Thank you so much.” She gave them a dismissive smile and watched them walk away to collect the group of officers and cuffed gang members.
“What d’ya wanna do now, Chief?” Flynn asked her as he watched the group march out of the warehouse. Provenza sidled up beside him and Jacobs and waited for the chief’s next round of orders.
She seemed to ponder her thoughts for a moment before she gestured to the crates lined up on the left side of the warehouse, “I think I want to take a look in some of those boxes.” She said, moving over to the closest crate.
“I’ll go fetch a crowbar, Chief.” Provenza volunteered, much to the surprise of Flynn and Brenda. They inspected the large wooden crate he disappeared from the warehouse to fetch the required tool.
Jacobs weaved in between the maze of crates, mentally keeping note of the number he passed. He paused when he came to a door that was hidden behind the stacks. He quickly made his way back to where Brenda and Flynn were examining the label attached to one of the crates, “Chief, we got a door back here.” He whispered to her.
For a brief moment she resembled a rabbit caught in headlights as she took in what the commander was saying to her. Collecting herself, she pulled her gun out of her holster and flicked off the safety, following the commander through the maze towards the door as she did so.
Flynn stayed close, restricted to remaining behind her due to the severe lack of manoeuvring room between the valleys of crates lined up on either side of them. Keeping his weapon pointed at the ground, he waited impatiently as the commander gave a silent countdown to opening the door.
A resounding crash was heard as the door slammed against the wall inside the room when Jacobs flung it open, followed by the sound of shuffling feet as the three of them crowded through the doorway, weapons up, making sweeping arches the room.
Flynn was sure his heart had stopped when his gaze fell on the glint of light reflecting off the barrel of a gun. The barrel of a gun that was aimed directly at his chief who was standing a mere foot away from him.
Instinct took over as he pushed her out of the way just as he heard the report of the gun sound twice, quickly followed by a succession of bullets fired by Jacobs. He heard a grunt echo through the room was surprised to realise that it had come from him.
He was even more surprised to realise he was falling.
Chapter 19: One Year Later
Sharon sat opposite the gravestone, her arms folded around her knees, holding them to her chest. She had spent a large portion of the morning tending to the cemetery; weeding, removing dead plants from the gravesites and cleaning headstones with soapy water. It gave her time to think, to mull over her thoughts in peace.
She burst through the hospital doors, her heart beating wildly in her chest as she navigated her way to the front desk. The woman behind the desk was less than helpful, pointing down the general direction of a hallway before turning her attention to the computer in front of her and the phone trilling beside her.
She all but ran down the hallway, brushing past faceless people in her haste to find him. When Frank Jacobs had called her to tell her Andy had been shot, all she had been able to do was drop her phone to the floor and tear out of the murder room, ignoring the strange looks she received from the shocked officers she passed. She couldn’t even remember Frank telling her which hospital he had been taken to. She had just acted.
The wind was whipping her hair into veritable disarray as she stared at the headstone in front of her. One hand reached down from where it was cradling her knees to toy with the grass at her feet. It was still lightly jewelled with morning dew as she touched it; the cool droplets caressed her skin as the tips of her fingers passed through the blades and she could feel her jeans were damp where they came into contact with the ground.
She was expecting to be met by the stunned gazes of the all of Major Crimes squad when she breezed into what she supposed was meant to be a waiting room. Instead she found Chief Johnson was pacing the floor; Gabriel following her movements with his eyes while Provenza was slumped in a chair in the corner of the room, his eyes tightly closed. Frank, despite being the one to call her, wasn’t here she noticed, and Sanchez and Tao were also conspicuously absent.
She hadn’t even realised she was crying until she felt the coolness of her tears reach her jaw-line. She quickly brushed them away as Brenda slowed her pacing and looked at her, “Cap’n Raydor?” she sounded confused. Sharon got the impression that she hadn’t expected anybody to call her.
Sharon took a deep breath and willed her voice not to tremble, “Where is he?”
Sharon couldn’t understand why she was thinking about that day. She had come to the cemetery to escape from all of the demands of everyday life. She gained a sort of comfort from the silence of the graveyard. It was a place where she was really able to put things into perspective.
So much had changed for her in the past year. She had finally been able to label the box containing Jack’s file as solved. About a week after the raid on the warehouse, Brenda Johnson had called Sharon into her office. The box was all packed and taped and ready for storage, only awaiting the final touches. She had cried silent tears as she smoothed out the sticker that declared it a solved case, declaring that chapter of her life finished.
She heard his voice on the wind, “What are you thinking?” The corners of her lips twitched into the tiniest of smiles as she cocked her head in the direction of his voice.
Provenza’s head shot up from where it had nodded against the chair he was slumped in. He watched her with bleary eyes as she stalked over to the chief and pressed her hands firmly against her hips, ignoring the tears that persisted in trailing down her cheeks.
Brenda, to her credit, didn’t flinch away from the intimidating glare Sharon Raydor was aiming her way, choosing instead to take the full brunt of it and answer it with a small understanding smile.
“Where is he, Chief?” Sharon asked again, her voice more aggressive than it had been. To her surprise, the chief’s smile widened. Sharon frowned in confusion, only understanding when Brenda nodded vaguely at something over Sharon’s shoulder. Sharon whirled around on her heel and thought she felt her heart stop beating.
“I was thinking about you.” She answered in that ultra-deliberate manner of hers, working her facial muscles overtime to keep herself from smiling.
“Is that so.” He sat down beside her on the cool ground and deposited the beer can he was holding at his feet, “And what exactly about me were you thinking of?” he asked her.
Sharon gave a noncommittal shrug of her shoulders and rocked slowly backwards and forwards, still not meeting his inquiring gaze, “Oh nothing, just how much you infuriate me but I somehow love you anyway.”
He was standing in front of her with a boyish grin on his face as if nothing had ever happened. Her eyes drifted from his face down to his arm and landed on a bandage secured tightly around his bicep. The sleeve of his shirt was rolled up to just above the bandage, a large patch of red marring the soft blue of the fabric.
She knew that her expression would be one of undisguised shock and horror, and she was almost certain that she looked like crap from crying on the way over to the hospital so she couldn’t fathom for the life of her why he was looking at her in that way. It was only when he said “hey, Ronnie” in that casual ‘how are you, nice to see you’ kind of way that she broke out of whatever stupor she had fallen into.
She didn’t realise she had hit him until she felt the sting in her open palm and heard the gasp of the chief. “You idiot,” she hissed, paying no attention to the slightly stunned look that had fallen across his face as her hand had connected with his cheek, “I begged you to be careful, to not do anything stupid! I already lost Jack, I couldn’t bear it if I lost you too, and being the inconsiderate bastard that you are, you go and get yourself shot!”
The stunned expression morphed into bemusement as he listened to her tirade. The entire room seemed to have come to a standstill as she worked out the frustration and fear that had been building to unbearable proportions since the beginning of the day.
“And then you come waltzing in here and say ‘hey, Ronnie’ as if nothing had happened! You selfish, good for nothing son of a-” she was cut off from finishing her outburst by the feeling of his lips firmly pressed against hers and his hand knitted firmly into her hair, holding her tightly to him. She made a small noise of protest, smacking at his chest with her hand for a brief moment before she allowed herself to go with it, releasing all the pent-up emotions into that one kiss.
Andy reached over and took her hand in his, lightly caressing the new ring on her finger, the one he hoped to add to soon, “It’s good that you do.” She turned her head and smiled at the simple statement.
“I think so too.” She squeezed his hand gently before pulling her own out of his grasp and reaching to pick up the beer can, “I think you have a tradition to uphold.” She said as she popped the top and handed it to him.
He raised the can in a silent salute to the man they had both come to remember and poured it slowly onto the ground in front of the headstone.
When he released her, she buried her face into his chest and sobbed, crying cleansing tears. She felt his arms wrap around her and his hands make small, comforting circles across her back, “Shhh, it’s okay.” He dipped his head so he could whisper in her ear, “I’m okay.”
The reassuring sound of his voice calmed her, soothing her until the sobs wracking her small frame ceased. She knew that later she would be embarrassed about breaking down in front of Brenda Leigh Johnson, Gabriel and Provenza, but for now she didn’t care because he was okay.
“Don’t ever do that to me again, Andy.” She breathed into his chest, just loud enough for him to hear. She felt his arms tighten briefly around her.
When he finished pouring the beer onto the ground, Flynn crumpled the can with his foot and turned fully to face her, taking both her hands in his and playing with her fingertips.
“I have Grady out in the car.” Sharon pulled her attention away from their joined hands and met his eyes, “He called just before I left, he needs a meeting.” Sharon nodded her understanding and picked up the crumpled can, shaking the last drops of beer out of it before putting it in her pocket.
That night Sharon took him back to her house, knowing that Max was staying with a friend. They hadn’t made it much further than her front door before he had pulled her into his arms, intent on proving to her that he was alive and not some figment of her imagination. It was slow, unhurried; nothing like he had imagined it would be for the first time, there was none of the awkwardness that he had expected as he took his time and learned her body, memorising each of her responses he pulled from her.
As she lay cradled against his chest, revelling in the harmonious aftermath, she had trailed her fingers up to his heart, covering the bruise that had formed there where one of the bullets had been caught by his vest. He watched her face closely as her fingers fluttered across the tender spot, his eyes and hers both filling with tears as she pressed her lips gently against it. When her eyes found his again, he didn’t need her to say the words, able to seem played out clearly through the pantomime of emotions he saw in the jade orbs.
Andy groaned as he pulled himself to his feet. He held his hand out for Sharon to take and pulled her lightly to hers, keeping her close and snaking his arm around her waist. She leant head against his shoulder as she took one last glance at the headstone in front of her.
“I’ll try to be home soon.” He said into her hair, leaving a light kiss there afterwards.
She nodded and smiled lightly at him, “You take as long as you need. Grady needs you.”
He grinned at her and pulled her towards him for a hug, “I’ll try to be home soon.” He repeated, releasing her and leading her towards the parked cars.
She kissed him lightly and smiled against his lips, “I’ll leave the porch light on.”