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And The Seeds Became Trees

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Shootings were dangerous. Shootings were the one thing that terrified Brenda the most about the job she was in. Not that she would ever hesitate to draw her gun when a situation warranted it but there was always that one fleeting thought… What if.

What if they shot her first? What if her shot took a man's life? What if she wasn't fast enough and someone else got hurt because of a split second's hesitation? What if her vest didn't catch the bullet?

Hearing that anyone in her team was involved in a shootout always unnerved her but when she received the call that there had been a mass shooting at a crime scene while she was still on her way, Brenda had been terrified for what she would find. And what she had found was a scene of chaos.

There were ambulances everywhere. People on the ground. From where she stood it was impossible to tell who was who, whether they were injured or not. Her heart pounded in her chest as she ducked under the yellow crime scene tape, stormed past the first crew of paramedics who were working on an unidentified male and reached the second group who were standing around someone she couldn't see but were joined by most of her Division.

"Lieutenant?" she called and Provenza turned around when she caught up with them.

"Chief!"

Brenda looked around. The blue and red flashing lights cut through the darkness. There were people and voices everywhere and she had no idea what had happened. "Is everyone alright?"

"Flynn took one to the leg," Provenza said and stepped aside, revealing Andy Flynn on the stretcher, his pant leg torn apart and his leg bloodied but bandaged up. Brenda gasped

"You ok, Lieutenant?" she asked, fixing her gaze on Flynn.

"I'll live. I'll just be hopping around for a while. They're taking me to hospital to get the slug out. It's not a through and through so they'll have to do surgery."

"It could have been worse," Provenza said and Brenda's brown eyes fixed on him. What was worse than one of her detectives getting shot?

"Raydor was with us, doing one of her audits."

Brenda's breath caught in the back of her throat and he looked around. She didn't see the Captain. In all the frenzied chaos she didn't catch a single glimpse of the woman who had become like Brenda's shadow. An unnerving feeling settled in her chest.

"Where is she?"

"She took one to the chest but her vest stopped the bullet. Knocked the wind out of her," Provenza answered. There was a hint of admiration in his voice. "She got to the shooter after he shot Flynn but before he could get to Julio." He pointed at a third ambulance. "They're checking her over now but she should be alright."

"Thank you, Lieutenant," Brenda said and turned on her heel. She felt sick as she approached the other ambulance and she could hear Sharon Raydor's voice before she could even see her. She was talking to FID, Brenda guessed, and she was handing over her firearm. The brunette Captain looked up when she spotted Brenda behind the ambulance door. The hint of a smile flashed over her face.

"Chief Johnson."

"Are you alright?" Brenda inquired. She took in the sight of the always immaculate Captain Sharon Raydor now sitting on the ambulance steps, stripped from her blazer and shirt and wearing only a sleeveless vest that barely covered any skin and her pin striped pants and heels. Brenda could see the bruising from where the bullet had hit Sharon in her chest was already spreading.

"Sore," Sharon confessed as she rubbed her hand over her chest. The dark purple bruising looked painful against her pale skin. "And the bruising's going to be a bitch for weeks." She shrugged. "But it could've been worse."

"Yeah, you could've been killed," Brenda pointed out. Something unexplainable roared in the pit of her stomach at the thought of Sharon Raydor being seriously hurt. "What were you thinkin'?"

"I had my vest, Chief. I knew I was going to be alright. And just for your information, I don't tend to make it a habit to step in front of a bullet." Sharon's intense emerald green eyes found Brenda's brown. There was a moment's pause, one that lasted longer than perhaps necessary. "Not for everyone, anyway."

Feeling strangely warm, Brenda averted her eyes when the female paramedic returned and peeled the thin fabric of Sharon's shirt away from her skin a little to check on the bruising a final time before giving her the all clear. She got Sharon to sign the paperwork to say she didn't need to go to hospital and then looked at Brenda.

"Can I leave her with you, Ma'am?"

"Me?" Brenda questioned.

"I'm not allowed to drive because they gave me something for the pain so someone will have to take me home," Sharon explained.

"Oh." Brenda nodded. "Sure." She looked around, spotting her car behind the crime scene tape. She turned around and started walking. "Come with me, Captain. You'll have to tell me where you live 'cause I don't know your address."

When she noticed Sharon hadn't fallen into step beside her, Brenda looked over her shoulder and saw Sharon watch the scene of three other paramedics attempting to resuscitate another young man. Brenda suspected they'd walked into a gang shootout. She walked back to Sharon and put a hand on her shoulder. Sharon's skin was cold, which was no surprise considering she was hardly wearing any clothes and it was nine o'clock at night.

"Come," Brenda said softly. "I have an extra jacket in my car. And before I take you home, I'll buy you some coffee."

Sharon followed Brenda to her car and climbed into the passenger seat. When she reached to put on the seatbelt she flinched. Her entire upper body was sore and protested against the movement. She rested her head against the car window and waited for Brenda to get behind the wheel. She just wanted to go home and go to bed. By tomorrow morning she would hurt ten times more than she did now and she wanted to get some sleep before the real pain struck.

Brenda drove them to the nearest drive through and ordered to cups of coffee. She looked at Sharon, concern flickering behind her brown eyes when she noticed the older woman had closed her eyes. "It's two sugars, right?"

When Sharon accepted the coffee, she didn't have the energy or the heart to tell Brenda she preferred her coffee without sugar but when she took a sip, and felt Brenda's comforting hand on her shoulder for just another moment, Sharon decided that coffee with two sugars didn't taste so bad after all.