They'd been working late. It was one of those nights where they were the only ones left because Brenda had sent everyone else in her division home. And now she and Sharon were sitting across from each other in the conference room next to Brenda's office, paperwork spread out on the table between them, as they worked their way through Goldman's latest attempt to derail Brenda's professional career.
Brenda was tired of it all. The longer she stared at the paperwork, the more the words began to dance in front of her eyes. She removed her reading glasses and with a soft groan dropped them on the table, causing Sharon to look up. The brunette Captain cocked an eyebrow.
"I can't do this anymore," Brenda admitted. "It's..." She glanced at her watch. "...it's eight-thirty and I've been here since seven this mornin'. I want to go home. Goldman can go to hell."
Sharon observed the way the blonde chief's eyes had darkened, the way strands of hair that had freed themselves from the ponytail she wore fell down the sides of her face. Brenda looked tired, she thought. And Sharon couldn't blame her.
"OK," she said softly. "Let's call it a night."
She stood and began gathering the papers, neatly collecting them in a perfect little pile before sliding them back in one of the Manila folders. Once she had finished she noticed Brenda was looking at her with a somewhat distant look in her eyes. Sharon noticed she did that a lot these days; she could feel Brenda's eyes on her throughout the day but it was only sometimes that she actually caught her staring. She couldn't read the expression on Brenda's face, couldn't see through the facade she knew the younger woman had spent years perfecting. But something about Brenda's eyes betrayed that there was something she kept hidden.
Brenda suddenly became aware Sharon was watching her and blinked a couple of times and then glanced out the window. It was raining. It was a rare thing for Los Angeles but tonight the heavens had opened and unleashed a downpour on a city that so desperately craved it. The rain lashed against the windows of the conference room in a continuous rhythm that, until now at least, had been somewhat soothing.
"Are you alright?" Sharon inquired, her eyes still fixed on Brenda.
"Fine," Brenda absentmindedly answered.
She'd be going home to her husband in a little while. Her good, caring and kind husband who had been at her side throughout everything. The man who put up with every tantrum, every late night and early morning, every pointless argument and every 'I'm-going-to-be-home-late' phone call. There had been many of those calls recently. Tonight had been the third night this week and it was only Thursday.
And all of those late nights had involved Sharon Raydor.
Tonight, when the Captain had appeared in the doorway of the conference room clutching a cup of Brenda's favourite coffee, had it suddenly made sense. Suddenly she understood why she chose to spend her evenings in her office, her surroundings lit up by the harsh lights on the ceiling and her only company a woman whom she easily could've killed a year ago. But now she chose to be in Sharon's company, chose to spend night after night going through statements and finally, when she had looked up into Sharon Raydor's smiling face, had it made sense.
She wanted to be in the other woman's presence.
It was the only time of day where she felt calm, where she felt like someone didn't want anything from her. It was the only time where she knew she could just breathe.
Brenda wanted to be around Sharon and that thought had terrified her.
Sharon hesitated about whether or not to point out the obvious but she did it anyway. "You don't seem fine to me, Chief."
Brenda looked at Sharon, slightly bewildered. "It's nothin'," she muttered. "Honestly."
"Ohkay..." Sharon dragged out the word. She didn't sound convinced.
Brenda swallowed and picked up her purse. She swung it over her shoulder and started for the door. As she stepped past Sharon, a hint of the brunettes perfume found its way up her nose and sent her mind spinning. She felt suddenly weak and her heart pounded in her throat. Brenda turned in the doorway, brown eyes fixed on Sharon. From behind the dark rimmed spectacles, Sharon looked back at her.
"Is it this whole thing with Goldman?" Sharon wanted to know. "Because I know we'll find a way to deal with this."
"I know," Brenda said, even if she wasn't actually sure.
She remembered suddenly that Fritz wasn't home tonight. He was in Washington and wouldn't be back until tomorrow. It meant coming home to an empty house. It was the reason she had decided to work late. Facing the quietness of her home frightened her. Suddenly she didn't want to go, didn't want to be alone.
Brenda looked back at the window. The rain still lashed against it. "I've gotta go," she just said. "I just..."
What was she going to say? I like being around you? I don't know how I feel about you?
"It's OK," Sharon said softly, as if she'd somehow read Brenda's mind. "Brenda, it's OK."
Brenda just nodded and went to turn around. Before she could leave however she felt Sharon's hand on her arm and she looked back. Kind, soft eyes held her own and something shifted in the air. The warmth of Sharon's fingers against her wrist left her skin tingling.
"Call me when you get home," Sharon whispered. "Please."
Brenda turned around and left.
An hour later Brenda picked up the phone, her mind almost delirious from the endless thoughts that had been spinning around in her head. She sat in the darkness of her living room, without a single light to erase the shadows that surrounded her. She found safety in the darkness, as if she somehow couldn't really see herself and therefore what she was about to do wasn't real.
Her fingers trembled as she dialed Sharon's number and her breath hitched when she heard the woman's husky voice on the other side of the line.
She couldn't do it.
Brenda hung up without saying a word.